Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Continued Stray Thoughts on the Current Political Climate

1. Apparently the GOP does not like it when its own tricks are used against it.  Representative Tom Cole (R-OK) is on public record complaining that he has had no time to review the Democratic bill to overturn der Sturmtrumper’s fake emergency, and that no committee has held a hearing on it or marked it up.  You know, I remember well when Wisconsin’s own Governor Teabagger (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Koch Industries) and his minions, cronies, henchmen, and lackeys in the legislature pioneered the “shove it down their throats before they can gag” approach to legislation, and I don’t recall hearing any GOP objections then.

2. In the Democrats’ defense, this isn’t exactly one of the multi-hundred-page bills that the GOP was shoving through back then.  The entire bill is shorter than the Pledge of Allegiance and could fit in a tweet.  I suspect that committee hearings would have been overkill.

3. For those who doubt, here is the complete text of the bill:

“Pursuant to section 202 of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622), the national emergency declared by the finding of the President on February 15, 2019, in Proclamation 9844 (84 Fed. Reg. 4949) is hereby terminated.” 

That’s it!  36 words, including all of the citations.  I’ve read cartoon captions longer than that.  Surely this does not represent an undue burden on Rep. Cole.  If it does, may I suggest that he retire and find more suitable work that does not require reading?  Might do him and us some good, really.

4. The House has in fact voted to overturn der Sturmtrumper’s fake emergency, and by a veto-proof majority that included over a dozen GOP votes – a fairly significant loss for our would-be tyrant.  Now the Senate must vote on this – by law it cannot be avoided, so as much as Mitch McConnell cares about the law I guess we’ll see.  It will be interesting how it turns out.

5. But even Mitch McConnell – the Most Corrupt Man In Washington (tm) – isn’t sure whether der Sturmtrumper’s fake emergency is legal.  He admitted it to reporters this month.  Not that this will prevent him from kowtowing to der Sturmtrumper’s blatant assault on the Separation of Powers and the sole authority of Congress to authorize federal spending, because what’s a little thing like the Constitution when it comes to absolute power for your party, right?

6. I wonder why they haven’t thought of this in Congress?

Maybe because it’s a stupid idea that doesn’t work?  I suppose.  You’d think they’d draw the obvious lesson, but you’d be wrong.

7. Did you watch the Oscars?  I saw some of it, even though I had seen only one of the films nominated for best picture and only heard of a couple of the others at all.  I did see Spike Lee – who appears to borrowed his fashion sense from Urkel, in his maturity, and good for him if that’s his thing – give his talk criticizing genocide and asking people to be on the “right side of history.”  This seems frankly uncontroversial to me.  Of course der Sturmtrumper – the guy who spectacularly failed the Nazi Test and called said Nazis “fine people” in the process – took it as a personal attack.  Of course he did.  Maybe it just hit too close to home.

8. Sweet dancing monkeys on a stick, they’re not even trying to hide it, are they?  The whole GOP sliding ever further into Fascism thing?  Now Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) is openly quoting Mussolini. 

I suppose it’s a relief that they’re not pretending anymore, but still.  Individual liberty must be restricted, is that the Republican view now?  Seriously?  Also, Cornyn does know what happened to Mussolini, right?  Is that really his goal?  It can’t be, can it?

9. Best response to this so far:

10. In case you think that comparing the current administration to its ideological ancestors is unfair, consider this:

You know, that defense didn’t work out very well at Nuremburg.  In fact, it worked out so poorly that one of the bedrock principles of American military law now is that US forces are required to disobey any unlawful order.  A paramilitary group like ICE should keep that in mind.

11. After screeching about fraudulent elections for who knows how long, the GOP finally found one.  It’s in North Carolina, and guess what?  All of the fraud was perpetrated by Republicans!  I know!  Say it with me, people: if you want to know what the right wing is doing, look at what they accuse their opponents of doing.  They simply don’t know any other way to operate, so they assume everyone’s doing it.

12. Of course The Most Corrupt Man In Washington (tm) is blaming the Democrats for this, because the Party of Personal Responsibility doesn’t actually accept responsibility for their own actions.  He’s decided that a clear cut case of electoral fraud perpetrated by the people who handle and count the votes – a case so virulently blatant that it was actually prosecuted in North Carolina, the GOP’s private autocracy – was actually due to the Democratic opposition to GOP voter suppression laws.  There is no way such laws would have had any impact on this fraud one way or another, but hey – “it has to be someone else’s fault” is practically the GOP motto these days.

13. Apparently Michael Cohen is about to flip entirely on der Sturmtrumper.  And this has got the minions, lackeys, cronies, and enablers all aflutter, yes it does.  Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL) – a genuine waste of space and oxygen – has decided that he needed to spring to his master’s defense with a bit of witness tampering by threatening Cohen.

So here you have a sitting Congressman (granted, a buffoon, but still – duly elected and everything) trying to intimidate a federal witness in an ongoing criminal case, a violation of 18 USC Section 1512 Subsection (b).  Look it up if you don’t believe me.  This is a felony, and – as Rep. Gaetz is a licensed attorney in Florida – grounds for disbarment.  Perhaps the FBI needs to take him aside and explain to him just how many years he will be sitting in prison for this.  Or perhaps he should just find out himself.  I also wonder if he’s forgotten that the GOP doesn’t control the House anymore and that said House does in fact have an Ethics Committee empowered to launch investigations, and that the full House has the legal authority to remove Representatives from the House.  So many options!

14. Not surprisingly, Gaetz is the same guy who tried to eject the father of one of the victims of the Parkland massacre from a House Judiciary Committee meeting, because god forbid we actually have someone not in thrall to the NRA get involved in American life. 

15. Is it any wonder that the people who actually have a clue as to what national security really is – some 58 of them, from both parties, ranging from Madeline Albright (Secretary of State under Bill Clinton from 1997 to 2001) to Chuck Hagel (Republican Senator from Nebraska and a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations and Intelligence Committees) to John Kerry (Democratic Senator from Massachusetts and Secretary of State under Barack Obama) to John McLaughlin (Deputy Director of the CIA under George W. Bush) to Alan Charles Raul (Associate Counsel to the President under Ronald Reagan) – have published an open letter declaring that der Sturmtrumper’s fake emergency is a sham. 

“Under no plausible assessment of the evidence is there a national emergency today that entitles the President to tap funds appropriated for other purposes to build a wall at the southern border” the letter says.  The evidence is overwhelming, and much of it comes from der Sturmtrumper’s own administration.  It’s a fascinating read, for those who value reality.

16. Hell, 24 former GOP legislators (5 who served in the Senate and 19 from the House) have written their own letter denouncing der Sturmtrumper’s naked power grab, which does give me hope although I do note that they are all “former” and not “current” legislators.  They point out the obvious – that the Constitution reserves the power of the purse solely to Congress, not to a president too incompetent to get Congress to pass his pet project – and then ask their GOP colleagues the direct question: “How much are you willing to undermine both the Constitution and the Congress in order to advance a policy outcome that by all other legitimate means is not achievable?” 

If the current slack-jawed lackeys that make up the GOP Congressional delegation are predictable from their past actions, my guess is pretty far, actually.  They’ve amply demonstrated their contempt for their own power and for their Constitutional responsibilities, and this should be no exception.  But the question needed to be asked.

17. We are rapidly approaching Grant Administration levels of corruption and criminality here. 

With the indictment of Roger Stone we are now at about 90 criminal indictments from this administration, a dark stain on the x-ray of the body politic, with – possibly – two more years to go.  Remember all the indictments of the Obama years, though?  How many were there, exactly?  Oh, right.  ZERO.

18. If you ever really want to make yourself doubt the future of the American republic and destroy your faith in humanity entirely in the process, try engaging with a committed supporter of der Sturmtrumper online and see how they respond.  Mostly I end up looking at their responses and thinking:

You would think that at some point, somewhere, you’d get a coherent response, but so far none.  For crying out loud, I’ve had a lot of debates with right-wingers who at least had some facts on their side and could present them without denying reality, moving the goalposts every time they are challenged, and flouncing off in a huff whenever you introduce facts only to come back to try to have the last word. 

You know, I miss those people.  I miss having people I could disagree with and still respect.  I miss having people who understood reality and just wanted their interpretation of it to triumph rather than blowing an impermeable ideological bubble around any fact that bothered them.  They’re still out there, but their voices do tend to get drowned out.

19.  Is anyone else wondering just how badly der Sturmtrumper is going to get pantsed in his meeting with Kim Jung Un this week?  Seriously, this is the guy who went bankrupt trying to sell red meat, booze, and gambling to the American people, and he’s negotiating here?  We’re doomed.

20. At least Cadet Bone Spurs has finally made it to Vietnam.  I wonder if he’ll ever visit the grave of the guy who went in his place.

21. You know, I really didn’t want to write about this stuff anymore.  It gets old.  But sometimes you just gotta holler, and I suspect we are rapidly approaching a dividing line where it will end one way or another.  Those times are not for remaining silent, as much as silence would be comfortable.  I will not be silent while my country is dragged into right-wing authoritarianism and away from what it can be if only we make it so. 

I will speak, and I will be heard.


Eric said...

An excellent post.

I would quibble with saying we're approaching Grant Administration levels of corruption: I think we're well past that.

For one thing, one of the current problems is that there's so much going on that it's become nearly impossible to keep everything in the camera frame in focus--e.g. we've recently been reminded it's not just the Russians, it's the Saudis and a lot of people in Trump's circle trying to get rich selling them nuclear reactors. Which turns out to have connections to the inauguration, with it's mysteriously missing money in the millions (hmmm). And may involve people in Trump's closest circle who are involved in money laundering and real estate scams, some of which appear to be ongoing and may impinge on the emoluments clause, and... well, I have to stop writing this sometime. Anyway, Grant at least had the dignity to keep it down to a handful of big scandals with some legit domestic and foreign policy accomplishments on the other side of the balance sheet.

Another thing would be that there's at least a plausible argument (backed by the circumstantial evidence of basically his entire non-military life and career) that Grant was a bit of a rube in his own Administration scandals, as opposed to being a lively participant and engineer of all the corruption. The guy was really, really, really bad at anything that didn't involve a profound understanding of military logistics and the massive coordination of combined land, river, sea, and marine forces to cripple an enemy combatant's economic and psychological ability to wage war across a continent-sized theatre. Which, y'know, worked out very well for us in so many ways it almost seems nitpicky at some level to point it out.

(Which is maybe sort of another thing, which is that as one gets older, one starts noticing that a lot of the criticisms of Grant really appear to be criticisms of his massively kicking the South's collective ass, and so facets of his life like his possibly exaggerated alcohol problems and the undeniable and yet maybe overstated Presidential corruption problems have come to define him in the American imagination to a greater degree than his jaw-dropping brilliance as a military commander, while certain American traitors continue to have excuses made for their treason--"Oh, he reluctantly resigned his commission, and when the war was over he freed his slaves gladly, and he would have given them all Disneyland tickets, too, but it hadn't yet been built." Anyway, personal rant. Sorry. I've just come to kind of love General Grant over the past several years.)

The important thing, of course, is Individual-1 sucks and the sooner he's out of office the better off we'll all be.

David said...

I suspect you’re right, actually.

For one thing, I agree with your assessment of Grant himself. He had, to the best of my knowledge, nothing to do with the scandals that engulfed his administration. He was a brilliant general and his entirely justified ass-kicking of the unrepentant treasonous South is one of the reasons I regard him as a Great American. But he was a lousy judge of character when it came to political associates.

And don’t get me started on how overrated Robert E. Lee was as a human being. He was a fine military mind, but let’s get the reality out of the way first: you are what you do when it matters, and when given a choice Lee chose to support treason in the name of human slavery. I’ve discussed this at some length before.

I will also give you the Gish Gallop point – we are so overwhelmed with the sheer volume of corruption, criminality, and outright subversion that it is hard to keep track.

On the other hand, a) the Credit Mobilier scandal during Grant’s administration took out several Congressmen and a sitting Vice President, and we’re only just now reaching that point with der Sturmtrumper’s administration, and b) I needed a point of reference for corrupt administrations and it was either Grant or Harding, and poor old Ulysses lost the mental coin toss.

Individual 1 needs to be removed from office, preferably on a rail, for the safety of the republic and the betterment of humanity in general.

LucyInDisguise said...

1. See 3.

2. ditto

3. Ah, there’s the problem! The first word of that bill is a multi-syllable word. Rs don’t do multi-syllable words. All they see is … no, I ain’t even goin’ there.

5. That’s the best moniker you’ve created thus far.

6.I’m SO going to make me a sign.

7. No. but I did watch Spike Lee on youtube.

8, Occasionally, you should try Sweet & Sour dancing monkeys on a trampoline. Just for a change, now and then. Besides, with trampolines come blown-out knees, and that is definitely worth standing in this line for.

11. “if you want to know …” naw. I really don’t want to know.

13. Gaetz should go down hard. In a very publicly humiliating manner. Waste of air.

17. Are you absolutely certain that we didn’t pass Grant on that last hill and are currently setting records that Muammar Gaddafi would envy? Besides. I never did buy into whole Grant Corruption thing that history hung around his neck.

And, what Eric said. And, of course, your response to what Eric said. Hi Eric! (Don’t mind me, this has been sitting in my text editor for two days … I got distracted. It’s a longer story than you want to hear. Trust me. Annnnd, I forgot about the whole Crédit Mobilier of America scandal thing. Point. House.)

18. No. Not engaging anyone else. Pass. My eldest daughter (to my everlasting shame) is a supporter. Not a real “committed” supporter of his Horangeness, but a supporter nonetheless. And she so abso-f-ing-lutely wears me out. [Terminator “I need a vacation.”]

19. No. Actually, I don’t think he’ll do any real additional damage. (Of course, I’m responding to that with the benefit of being able to look at it in a rearview mirror.)

20. That’s not the kind of thought that would ever occur to a developmentally arrested guppy.

21. And HERE is what I stopped by to say!:
So many of us actually appreciate that you do write about this stuff. Helps us keep things sorted out in what’s left of our addled brains.* And your historical perspective adds significant context. History As It Happens needs a qualified narrator, not Howard.

I only vaguely remember living through Watergate. I’m determined to pay attention this time, even if a straight jacket is my only prize.

Please HOLLER!

Loud and Frequent.**


* Even at the expense of scrambling yours further. (Hey, somebody needs to jump on that grenade.)


** You are hereby awarded 1,150,000 frequent hollering miles. Some restrictions may apply. See website for fine print hidden behind a paywall. Blackout dates will be assigned entirely at random. Consult an astronomer before attempting to redeem - only the stars may guide you. Hope you don’t get Mel Gibson.

David said...

Well, thanks. I may end up getting back into the political hollering more now - we seem to be at a point where it is more necessary than before. I want it known that I did not accept this.

Besides, I find that my sanity is best preserved in vinegar in a jar in the pantry. It's not necessary for everyday use.

3. I love that the House Democrats are not holding back with the general sass. I'm going to say that the big words were part of that even if they weren't because it pleases me to do so, but I see it in other ways too. Did you see the necklace that Nancy Pelosi wore to the State of the Union address after she broke der Sturmtrumper's shutdown? A pair of red balls on a blue chain? I hope that was intentional.

6. That is the greatest sign, isn't it? It needs to be spread around.

8. My knees need no further encouragement to desert me - I've reached the age where a mere "not quite falling on the ice but lots of awkward things that look like a guy my age is trying to dance" episode can have them complaining to me for weeks. We had a trampoline in the back (well, one of the neighbors did, but he was happy to let us use it) when the girls were little. It was fun.

13. In a just world Gaetz would be sitting in a holding cell now, awaiting trial. I did see that the Florida Bar is opening up an investigation to see if he needs to be disbarred, and that's at least something.

18. A Facebook friend of mine has a right-wing troll that she refuses to block (for long and complicated reasons, none of which are sympathy for the troll), and periodically I feel a need to step in and take some of the heat off of her. I no longer try to engage substantively - I learned that lesson the hard way - so mostly now I just ridicule the troll. It's a big target. And since said troll is petty enough to ALWAYS want the last word, I get to determine how long it will last. It's entertaining in a "welcome to the death of the republic" sort of way.

My sympathies on your daughter.

19. I'm just glad he didn't end up giving away large chunks of Alaska.

Can I choose my celebrity? Is Emilia Clarke available?

LucyInDisguise said...

Back in the day (38 Years, 1 month, 26 days ago. Not that i’m counting anymore), I preserved my sanity in a bottle of Smirnoff Silver Label. Since then, I’ve had to become more creative.

I’ll have to give that bottle of vinegar a try. Sounds promising.

8. My other daughter blew her knee out on a trampoline when she was 14. She’s gone through two knee replacement surgeries since then. I do not like trampolines.

13. I believe that in a truely just world, Gaetz would have been convicted on his tweet and be currently facing this: https://allthatsinteresting.com/hanged-drawn-quartered

But, then again, perhaps I can afford to be magnanimous toward one of lesser cognitive ability (Gaetz) and allow your view to stand. 😉

18. My wife and I tried very hard to raise our girls with an awareness of the human condition, that the only “race” is the Human Race - everything else is a social construct. Somewhere along the way, the eldest met & married her first husband - A trump supporter prototype. He completely redefined the term “asshole” merely by the fact of his existence. I’m not in any way proud of this fact, but the simple, truthful fact of the matter is that I put him in the hospital.


He really is a despicable human being- so bad that I keep wondering when that other asshole is going to appoint hm to a cabinet level position. I fear that he, forever and ever, tainted my daughter’s world view, and the way in which she views the people that inhabit it. Yet, being ever the optimist (or mentally deranged), I’m compelled to keep trying to salvage her mortal soul. (I’ve been told that it’s supposed to be ‘immortal’ soul, but, I hope that is not the case.)

19. Me too. We’ve already lost large chunks of the 49th state to global warming, but that’s a separate issue. I think. Maybe.

And finally: No.

You don’t get a choice. Stars are assigned according to a secret loggy rhythm created by Yajnavalkya. Besides, while I can certainly agree that she would be a great choice, Emilia is not even on the list. (There are no stars that exhibit any evidence of brains or talent on the list.) Maybe Amelia would be available, but with your luck …

Yeah, you’re gonna get stuck with Mel.

I humbly offer my not entirely sincere condolences.


David said...

Congratulations on the 38 years and counting – that’s one hell of an achievement.

13. We’re not all that far apart on Gaetz. I just think the criminal justice system works more slowly than you do. Trials. Appeals. It all works out in the end. :)

18. You know, some people were just meant by the gods to be punched hard in the face by the right-thinking folks of this planet, so there is that. I suspect that if some despicable asshole were to clutter up my daughters’ worlds I might well do the same. It’s a dad thing. I wish you well on the reclamation of your daughter to the sane side.

No choice? Emilia not even on the list? Damn, man. Hard times.

Do I get Hot Mel or Crazy Mel, though? If I get Hot Mel perhaps he’ll have fans I can talk to. I don’t want to talk to the fans of Crazy Mel!

I miss Muttley.

LucyInDisguise said...

Thanks. I actually don't count anymore, just happens that my granddaughter asked last weekend and forced me to figure it out. I'll take that "one hell of an achievement" thing for the first, oh, let's call it 7 years or so. The remainder has been somethin' akin to a cake-walk by comparison.

18. It is most certainly a dad thing. And, never go for the face - mostly bone - you'll just hurt your hand. There are much more vulnerable targets that don't hurt your hands. Take significantly longer to heal, too.

And I don't make the rules.* You know it's gotta be Crazy Mel. Probably even Post-'Passion of the Christ' Mel. Remember - no stars that exhibit any evidence of brains or talent.

Muttley should be memorialized in a 42 foot 3 1/4" stone shrine. His laugh was just that good.


*Blatant lie.

David said...

Yeah, I know it has to be Crazy Mel. I'm just trying to bargain with the Fates and that never works out well.


Do you think we could arrange to have a Muttley laugh track played at all of der Sturmtrumper's public addresses from now on? We could have the stone shrine mounted on wheels and carted everywhere an address happens. Surround sound. Possibly lasers.

This has potential...