“Congress” Isn’t ‘Doing Nothing’

Grim Reaper Mitch McConnell – Happy to watch millions suffer

I read the Washington Post every day on my Kindle, and every time I come across an article like the one in Monday’s edition by Erica Werner and Seung Min Kim with the headline “Congress is doing what it does best: Nothing. Meanwhile, coronavirus ravages the country and the economy stalls” it makes me so mad. The entire article is based on the premise that the cause for the delay in another relief bill is that ‘bipartisan urgency’ has faded, which is disingenuous if not a baldfaced lie.

Nowhere in this article do the writers mention that the HEROES Act was passed by the Democratically-led House in mid-May and sent to the Senate, where Mitch McConnell sat on it while continuing to focus on approving judges. Not until July 28 did the Republicans in the Senate even attempt to come up with their own plan, which somehow found billions of dollars for construction of a new FBI building a block from Trump’s Hotel as well as funds to replace the money Trump stole from the military to build his ’emergency wall’ but not to continue the $600 per week of enhanced unemployment benefits. Somehow, these old wealthy white men in the Republican Party see this as a problem, claiming that people who are making more money on unemployment won’t return to work, when the whole point is to avoid a repeat of the Great Depression. That $600 per week payment is mostly being put back into the economy by people who would be homeless, starving, and completely unable to live without it.

This article doesn’t mention that Mitch McConnell shut the Senate down for a long weekend, or that the House has had it’s August recess put on hold until the relief legislation is signed by the idiot in chief, President Stupid.

It would be so much less while also avoiding misleading the less informed in the public at large to be honest when writing articles like this. It isn’t Congress that’s doing nothing. It’s the Republicans and the administration that are doing nothing. The White House offering to extend the unemployment benefit for a week while they continue to dither and complain just puts things off another week. Nancy Pelosi isn’t stupid – she and the rest of the Democrats know that they cannot let the Senate Republicans have their way in this legislation, because their goal is to withhold as much help from the rest of us as possible. This, from (mostly) old white men who are being paid $174,000 a year of our tax dollars are more worried about making sure that businesses can deduct 100% of their meal and entertainment costs from their taxes than they have ever been in making sure that the other 90% of us can remain fed and housed, with utilities on and healthcare coverage.

So please, when you see the next headline claiming that the entire legislative branch is not functioning in our best interest, take a minute and do a little research. It’s likely inaccurate, like so many ‘both sides’ arguments are, tossing the Democrats in the House who have been passing legislation for the past two years to benefit us in with the non-governing, non-legislating Republicans. They have decided that their only purpose is to approve right-wing, incompetent judges, cut taxes for themselves, their donors and corporations, and keep their minority hands gripped firmly on every lever of power then can. Every dollar cut from the social safety net has been tucked into their pockets.

Mitch McConnell and his cronies in the Senate have abrogated their responsibility to do their jobs – for which they continue to be paid $174,000 a year. Do you feel like you’re getting your money’s worth from them?

Trump is the Tyrant the Republicans Always Wanted

It’s hard to believe that it’s been under four years since Donald Trump, the least-qualified of all the candidates who ran for President in 2016, took over the office from Barack Obama; it feels more like forty because of the amount of constant, unrelenting stress his presidency has caused us all. Trump continues to use his reality show platform, trying to always leave us hanging with a “we’ll have to see” or “I can’t say yet”, as though he isn’t holding the highest office in the country, making his words matter exponentially more than they ever would have had he not been elected.

Trump and Barr appear to have decided that they can do anything they want until the election, aware that even the Democrats in the House cannot take the time to impeach Trump again; between now and November 3rd it’s more appropriate for the House to perform investigations that can provide further information about the criminality of this lawless administration. The entire electorate needs to be spurred to vote them all out by outrage, and that’s only going to happen by forcing this out into the media every day until then.

Why would anyone be surprised to find out that there was an appropriation inserted into the Senate Republicans HEALS Act to provide $1.75 billion to rebuild The J. Edgar Hoover FBI building in downtown Washington. In a bill purported to be providing desperately needed financial help to Americans being pummeled by the dysfunctional Trump administration, Trump’s own financial future of course had to rear it’s ugly head. Trump scuttled a plan ten years in the making to relocate the FBI headquarters to the suburbs outside the city a year into his tenure, because he knew that the current location, a block from his own hotel, would likely provide a competitor with a location that would negatively affect his own bottom line. Since everything Trump does from the Oval Office is intentionally designed to benefit him and his wallet, his attempt to push this project forward is just another of his schemes to see how much money he can make from the Presidency.

This is banana republic, tin pot dictatorship shit. Everything is paid for by the taxpayers, while the benefits go into the dear leader’s bank account. The family members of the dear leader get to run stuff they have no experience or knowledge to run, making a salary paid by taxpayers, for a job they are unable to perform under the best of circumstances. The only thing Jared Kushner is qualified to do is being Mr. Ivanka Trump.

The closer we get to the election, the more desperate and despotic Trump becomes. It seems that even his ‘positive thinking’ isn’t doing enough to convince him that all the polls showing Biden ahead by double digits in a majority of states and actually competitive in formerly reliable red states. Now, it seems Trump has decided that his next best option is to use the office of the president and its bully pulpit to trash talk mail-in ballots as significantly flawed and likely to be fraudulent. He continues to use diversion to deflect the media from bad news, and there’s so much bad news and diversions flying through the diaspora that it’s impossible to remember what we were outraged over just a few weeks ago.

Remember the leaked report from the intelligence agencies that Russia was paying bounties to the Taliban in Afghanistan for dead coalition fighters? What about the children still being detained in Covid-19 infested privately-run detention facilities? Or the ‘very fine people on both sides’ in Charlottesville? It’s impossible to maintain the level of outrage that each individual outrageous act by the Republican Party and this administration without it negatively affecting ourselves and those around us, but that doesn’t mean we can just brush it aside and move on. We have only one chance to try to get this thing under control before this entire experiment in our democratic republic comes crashing down around us.

The Republican Party has for decades been looking for someone to use for their own nefarious purposes, and Trump, who lacks the insight, intelligence, comprehension, compassion and a decency to see what a tool he’s been for the Republicans. They, on the other hand, so craven in their greed for money and power, didn’t mind at all that they were pushing this malignant narcissist into the most powerful position in the world (at least in was in 2016) because they somehow thought they could control him and tamp down his worst tendencies. They thought that Trump would become ‘presidential’ once in office; magical thinking of the highest order. They still think that their own political narrative is the ‘true way’ for the country to be run, and continue to do everything in their power to force their religious beliefs down the throats of the rest of us, despite the “freedom of religion” (or freedom FROM religion) written into the Constitution.

Now that the Republicans have the tyrant they always wanted, they’ve discovered to their chagrin that this puppy has been shitting in their closets the entire time he’s been in office. Trump has been so ‘positive in the negative direction’ that he is now dragging down the reelection chances of Senators who thought their future political careers were assured. Susan Collins, so ‘concerned’ and certain that Trump ‘learned his lesson’ after being impeached and is now the least liked person in the Senate, Lindsay Graham, Corey Gardner, David Perdue, Joni Ernst, Steve Daines and Thom Tillis, all of them Trump sycophants and bootlickers, now finds their seats jeopardized by their attachment to Trump. It’s sad that those are the only ones, but the 34% of those polled who still live in the right-wing media bubble and believe Trump is doing a good job with Covid-19 live somewhere, and I guess they live where the other Senate Republican seats are safe.

Change can only happen if we vote them all out, up and down the ballot. The Republican Party must be crushed out of existence, never to get their greedy hands on the reins of power again. We have to reform elections (requiring presidential candidates to release ten years of taxes in order to be on the ballot), election financing (to level the playing field remove the influence of the wealthy and corporations), norms previously honored by those in power that have been shown by Trump to be easily ignored by the unscrupulous and so many other things I can’t even think anymore. The only way any of those things will get done is to remove Republicans from the picture.

We have no time left to waste.

If You Plan a Viable Future – VOTE

There are multiple reasons for the embarrassingly low percentage of those eligible to vote who actually vote regularly in elections in the United States. There are things the federal government could do to encourage those who have chosen not to vote to exercise their franchise short of mandating that everyone vote in every election, but that won’t be considered until Republicans no longer have control in Washington.

Why is in necessary for us to register to vote in the first place? We have already given the federal government all the information they need (except for party choice) by applying for a Social Security card, something every parent has had to do for their children since at least 1980. There is no logical reason not to have national automatic voter registration in this country. The right to vote is written into the constitution. The federal government certainly knows enough about everyone in the country in order to add everyone eligible to vote onto the voter rolls on their eighteenth birthday and then share those registrations with the states where the individuals reside. The only ‘reason’ there appears to be for requiring individuals to register separately to vote is to put another roadblock in the way of those trying to vote.

In countries like Sweden, Denmark, Iceland and Iraq (yes, Iraq!), voting participation increased between 76% and 81% once automated registration took effect. In a liberal (vs illiberal) democracy, the goal should be to get as many eligible voters as possible to get involved and cast an informed vote; automatic registration is the first step towards higher voter participation and engagement.

The Republicans, however, know that the demographic group that has been most likely to register and vote with them is aging and leaving this mortal coil. Polls show that only 25% of eligible voters align with the Republicans, 31% with the Democrats, and 40% with Independents. Therefore, from the point of view of the Republican Party, encouraging a larger percentage of the eligible voter pool to cast a vote is demographically counter to their purposes. This is a major factor in the Republicans continued hold on power despite having a minority throughout the country as a whole, since fewer voters overall (of which 71% would NOT be Republicans) gives them a disproportionate share of votes cast.

This leads to the outrageous lies being made by the President of the United States spewing conspiracy theories about the security of mail-in ballots. Trump continues to claim for no reason except to scare his own base away from using mail-in ballots that there will be wide-spread fraud. First of all, there was a recent report from the conservative Heritage Foundation that found just 14 instances out of 15.5 million votes. Secondly, the most recent and egregious case of someone using mail-in ballots to commit voter fraud involved a Republican campaign operative in North Carolina. Third and most disturbing, there are actually thousands of mail-in ballots that are deemed ineligible compared with a minimum of in-person ballots, often for mistakes made by the voter or because of a questionable signature match. In order to have fewer legitimate votes disallowed, rules and regulations about verification of these ballots should be standardized across the country.

After Joe Biden is sworn into office in January, 2021, it would behoove all of us to do whatever we can to push for making it easier to participate in the electoral process throughout the country, in addition to all the other things needed to undo voter suppression and gerrymandering Republicans have used since the Nixon administration to keep those not voting for them from exercising their franchise.

The media has to step up, too. Media outlets not specifically designed to propagate right-wing disinformation and talking points must get off of their ‘both-sides’ soapbox. There is nothing consistent with fair coverage that requires any news outlet to give on-air time to anyone from either side when what they are saying isn’t even true. The opinions of party sycophants are of no importance, nor is their outrage at perceived offenses outside of the right-wing media bubble. If those on the ‘conservative’ side of the aisle cannot provide actual subject matter experts who have serious, fact-based information to bring to the discussion, they should not be provided with a platform from which to spread their crap. Climate change, for instance, isn’t a matter of opinion – it is happening, and it is man-made, and anyone who claims anything different without providing science-based hard evidence for their conclusion should no longer be offered the chance to speak. Ditto for those who want to argue about systemic racism, Covid-19, or any other subject which has been scientifically investigated and understood.

I think it should be mandatory for everyone eligible to vote to do so, but in order for that to be an accepted demand, it is also necessary for every obstacle currently placed between the eligible and the ballot be torn down. Automatic voter registration, Election Day as a national holiday and country-wide mail-in ballots would go a long way towards giving more of our fellow citizens the chance to vote without losing time from work, finding a babysitter, looking for a ride, or any one of thousands other reasons why everyone who can do so does not cast a vote.

The presidency and administration of Donald Trump should have opened the eyes of everyone, whether they have previously voted or not, of the importance for everyone to get informed and cast their vote. Everyone has something that they care about, whether it’s climate change, taxes, election security, money in politics, etc., and the only way to make sure that your government knows how you feel about those things is to vote. Social media could be a force for good, but not as it is currently configured. Print media has suffered mightily in this digital age, and broadcast media has been maligned for real and imagined offenses, making it the individual responsibility of every American to find actual facts about candidates, issues and policies from reputable sources upon which to base political choices.

This country has so much potential to life up to (sort of like both of my former husbands). It’s up to each and every one of us to put our big person pants on and do that which is required of every citizen – learn about the issues, decide which side of the issue you agree with, and vote in every election for candidates whose platforms and plans are what you hope to see going forward.

Vote as if your very future depends on the outcome of every election. Vote as if the life your children and grandchildren will be living will be determined by the election winner. Vote as if the continued existence of the very planet we all live on will be controlled by the next office holder.

It should be painfully obvious by now how very true that is.

Political Apathy is Unacceptable

I sent a few of my Facebook contacts an invitation to my page and didn’t think about it again until one of those invitees sent me a message to tell me that he wasn’t going to my page because he has “zero interest in politics”. Before the 2016 elections, I too thought of politics as something that other people cared about, despite voting the Democratic ticket starting with Jimmy Carter in 1976. I got most of my information from watching local and national news on the ABC affiliate WPVI out of Philadelphia along with listening to KYW 1060, the AM all-news-and-traffic radio station. All things considered, I got enough accurate information to know which party had my best interests at heart.

Today, I have no concept of how anyone with skin in the game (like my 61 year old diabetic smoking friend) can be indifferent about politics. This election is for all the chips, because if Trump and the Republicans are not soundly defeated and removed from power, we will be living in an authoritarian dictatorship during all future Trump terms. I want my friend will read this one post in the hopes of inspiring him to participate in the democracy that has been so good to both him and his family by voting for Joe Biden and the Democrats down ticket. I’m going to refer to my friend as “Billie” (not his real name).

Billie, I read your message declining my invitation to my Facebook page and was disappointed that you have no interest in politics. I don’t believe that’s true; I think that there are a multitude of places where your life, health, financial well-being and future comfort are directly and inextricably intertwined with the outcomes of elections, such as right now, in the middle of the worst pandemic in over a century. If the federal government was being led by a capable, competent, empathetic and caring leader who placed the good of the country over all else, the awesome power of the office of the President would have done everything to contain and control this virus, issuing national orders for staying home, social distancing and mask wearing while also putting a robust, nationwide testing and contact tracing system in place to find everyone spreading the virus and limit the spread. Instead, we have a person so incapable of ever admitting he’s made a mistake that he prefers to watch more than 150,000 of our fellow Americans die while he exhibits magical thinking by insisting that the virus will “just disappear”.

The Republicans have been laser-focused since the Affordable Care Act was passed on overturning it and stripping health insurance from millions of Americans while making those of us with preexisting conditions like diabetes, emphysema/COPD and osteoarthritis pay exorbitant premiums if we can even obtain health insurance coverage at all. Trump and his cadre of former fossil fuel executives, Wall Street bankers and right-wing media pundits have used his presidency to roll back rules and regulations to benefit corporate interests at the expense of all the rest of us and the planet. Trump’s delusional belief that he is the holder of all knowledge has made him incapable of accepting input from those in his own government with specialized knowledge of all manner of subjects versus taking the word of assorted hosts on Fox News and OANN. There are millions of Americans out of work because Trump is unable to do his job to put people in positions throughout the federal government with actual experience and skills to handle a crisis like the one we’re living through now. Instead, Trump appoints sycophants who agree that their first priority is to praise the dear leader no matter the reality on the ground, while their second priority is to allow Trump’s corporate donors to run rampant over everyone and everything in their paths.

Billie, you mentioned that your roommate has Covid-19 and that he’s still sharing the house with you. Your diabetes and smoking history make your chances of having a negative outcome if you contract the virus much higher than a healthier individual. The reason you’re in this position right now is because enough people in the right states decided that voting for the most prepared individual in history to run for the presidency wasn’t an option if that person also had a vagina, so they instead voted for the most incapable, incompetent, incurious, inept, undiplomatic and self-serving individual to ever seek the office. A lack of ‘interest’ in the actual issues combined with centuries-old, systemic misogyny led millions of voters to either stay home, vote third party, or actually cast votes for Trump because they thought Hillary was going to win and their individual vote didn’t really matter. Sadly, some 70,000 of those individual votes mattered way more than they should have.

I know you don’t have kids of your own Billie, and I’m sure that affects your attitude about ‘politics’, but your brother does have kids that I’m sure you love like they were your own. Think for a while about the world that will be left to them and their kids, and ask yourself if maybe the things that we’ve been doing to the planet for the last 100 years or so have helped or hurt the environment. I don’t know what the weather has been like in Vegas recently, but I can tell you without qualification that the heat and humidity here in New Jersey has been oppressive and unrelenting. We have always had our hottest days of the year in July and August, but I can’t remember in my lifetime having so many consecutive days of high humidity and high temperatures like the one we’re in the midst of now. Your brother’s offspring will have to deal with the climate disaster that our generation has been particularly loathe to address, given the propensity for the Republicans to claim that some climate ‘scientists’ don’t agree with the 97% of actual scientists that climate change is caused by humans releasing CO2 into the atmosphere. They don’t mention that their ‘scientists’ are actually employed by the fossil fuel industry to spread their bullshit, or that those same fossil fuel companies are full of their political donors.

Billie, I know that Whitey was your grandfather by blood, but you only saw him occasionally. During the ten years that my Mom and I lived with Whitey and my grandmother, I spent every day with him, and I think I can say with some degree of certainty that he was NOT just interested in the Phillies and the Eagles. Whitey knew that politics wasn’t just about the people in Washington; it’s about all of us, and what we want for ourselves and our families as part of a functioning democracy to which we pay taxes for services that said government is supposed to provide to us all when things happen that affect a large swath of us here in the United States. There is no way that Whitey would have remained completely uninformed and uninterested in the damage being done throughout our government and around the world by a lawless, incompetent president and the complicit Republicans. I know that he watched the evening news on a daily basis, because we all watched the evening news together back then, and I used to watch him reading the entire paper – not just the sports section – so I know he had a pretty good idea of what was going on in the government and the world before he exercised his right to vote.

The Republicans’ goal for decades has been to prevent as many people of color as possible from entering the US from anywhere else; had they been successful back in the fifties, it’s quite possible that you and your brother wouldn’t even exist. Your Mom marrying a man from the Philippines back in the fifties was a big deal back then, and I’m sure that your parents were on the receiving end of a lot of racist crap during their marriage. The point is that the people who win elections get to make the rules about who to let in and who to keep out. It is abundantly clear that leaving Republicans in charge of anything related to immigration or equality for all is very much like the fox watching the hen house. Electing a person uniquely unqualified for any of the tasks a US president must address along with keeping Republicans who have not interest in governing or legislating in office leaves all the rest of us subject to Trump’s whims and his inability to ever let any real or perceived insult or negative opinion go without a fight. Trump has never cared at all about the country; he entered the 2016 election in order to get free publicity so that he could start his own cable network; then, the unimaginable happened.

This is NOT the face of a happy person!

Trump didn’t want to win; he’s spent his whole life not working at a job he couldn’t get fired from that he didn’t have to apply for – just like his three older children have done – and the last thing he wanted was an actual job that required him to focus for more time than he ever had to in his entire life on someone other than himself. The look on his face in the photo above says all that and more.

Billie, right now the Republicans in the Senate, after refusing to consider the HEROES Act that the House sent to them May 12th to provide additional stimulus during the pandemic have taken two whole days to ‘legislate’ the Heals Act behind closed doors that gives businesses, hospitals and schools five years of liability protection retroactive to 2019 while cutting the weekly emergency unemployment payments from $600 to $200, because of course Republicans have to insist that it’s the $600 weekly benefit check preventing people from going to work, not the pandemic raging through a country without any plan to stop it or even slow it down. Apparently, these professional politicians don’t understand that the only reason that the “economy” has done as well as it has through the pandemic so far relative to the number of people out of work has been that $600 bonus, which has permitted millions to remain in their homes, buy groceries and other necessities, and keep their heads almost above water. Republicans also fail to see the irony when they indignantly point out that some people are making more money now than when they were working – because of course the answer to that wouldn’t be increasing the pay for those workers, right? The moratorium on evictions, foreclosures and other legal actions due to a lack of payment are going to expire, and who knows how many families will be forced our of their homes in the midst of a pandemic; state and local governments are going to have to significantly reduce services to help their citizens because the HEALS Act includes only funds for schools, although just a tenth of what the House proposed. Student loan deferments are also ignored in the HEALS Act.

The HEROES Act addresses state, local, tribal and territorial governments and provides stimulus funds for them all; along with the HEALS Act, it recommends a second $1,200 stimulus payment to every adult, but that is the only major similarity in the two. The House bill expands paid sick days, family and medical leave, nutrition and food assistance programs, housing assistance, unemployment, and payments to farmers. It also eliminates cost-sharing for Covid-19 testing and treatment in addition to a range of other policies. The bill passed because of the Democrats – only one Republican supported the bill.

Elections have consequences, Billie. An uninformed electorate distracted by social media posts that often have no basis in fact while they avoid any of the actual journalism still available in multiple formats is a large part of how we ended up here. Once upon a time, when it was unthinkable that someone so completely lacking in ability, restraint or a willingness to follow norms and laws could be elected to the highest office in the country, it may have been acceptable to proudly proclaim yourself to have “Zero interest in politics…” The last forty years or so have demonstrated that those among us who have chosen to abdicate their civic responsibility by simply ignoring everything political including refusing to vote is somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 million. It is unacceptable in the time of viral social media posts and massive disinformation from the president’s Twitter account for anyone eligible to vote to remain on the sidelines, or to stay ignorant of the facts before they cast their votes.

Billie, you owe it to your country, your fellow citizens, and the next generation to take some time out of your life (maybe every time you go outside to smoke) to learn why you should care about these things.

I hope you understand that I’m only telling you this because I have been paying attention to ‘politics’, not because I like them, but because what those people do matters. No one should sit back and let others make the big decisions, because everything that the government does and does not do has an effect on every one of us. The air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, the cars we drive, how our homes are built, how efficient our appliances are…. All that and more than I can write in this post are affected by the government, and how much or little you are personally touched by those things is also a function of some part of government. You have no legitimate excuse for remaining uninformed and disinterested in the political landscape while your country literally burns around you.

The price of apathy is to be ruled by evil men.

Plato

What if Trump was YOUR DAD?

I know – the thought is so awful it’s really hard to get past the horror of the actual idea to consider what you would do if your father were acting in public and often on camera the way Trump has since taking office, most especially in the past six months. As a life-long American, how would you square up your duty to your country to protect and preserve the Constitution with sitting by and doing nothing to intercede while one of your parents does things unconstitutional and deleterious to our fundamental democratic values, again in public and often on camera?

Further, I still want to know how people who most would expect would love and care for their husband/father/brother/grandfather not do everything in their power to convince him to resign and go hide at one or another of his properties? I think Trump’s own need for self-preservation could make him choose this option, given that the only way that Trump can be pardoned for the crimes he’s committed since taking office is to be pardoned by a President Pence. The only way Mike Pence would ever be president is for Trump to resign, so Trump better make up his mind in a hurry if he hopes to have a chance to avoid federal prison for what he’s done while at the White House.

I can’t imagine saying nothing while watching someone I truly loved destroy not just himself, but much of the foundation of our federal government and global reputation. I would hate to have my father be known for all future time as the most corrupt, incompetent, narcissistic, unteachable, self-dealing, traitorous and uninformed president ever. Period. In order to feel that way, however, I had to love my Dad, which I did and still do despite losing him in 2008, two years after my Mom lost her twenty-three year battle with breast cancer. I hope I would feel the same about anyone I love, in that I wouldn’t want to see them as President of the United States, spreading bogus conspiracy theories, lying about voting by mail, or just being a huge asshole like Trump is on a daily basis. If Trump’s wife, sons, daughters, or others to whom he is related actually care about him, why do they not stop him?

The answer to this has always been obvious, while the concept is anathema to most of us: Trump’s inability to have or express feelings for anyone other than himself has resulted in him being surrounded by a family that is connected transactionally instead of emotionally. They will stay silent so long as they have something to gain by doing so. They will continue their complicity because they still think there is a benefit in it for themselves. As for the rest of us, including Trump himself, they have no shits left to give.

This behavior is short-sighted, as has much of what the Trump Administration has done. Little consideration has ever been given to what will happen later, after they can no longer prevent the Justice Department from doing Justice, or the Attorney General from being the “People’s Attorney” rather than Trump’s ‘fixer’, and their short-sightedness will be their downfall. The rest of the Trump cabal will be forced to reckon with what they did and did not do, and I have to believe that at least some of them will rue the day the jumped on the bandwagon to line their pockets.

If I can’t hold onto that hope, then what the hell is the point of all this? No more can we let ‘bygones be bygones’.

Laws have been broken, alliances have been damaged, and our democracy is in serious trouble because Trump and his lackeys were allowed to run rampant by the Republican Party that created them for that very purpose. It is not enough just to remove Trump and Republicans from office…

The Republican Party itself must be put out of our misery. If conservatives want to have their own party, they need to start again from scratch. No political party that exists in whole or in part to oppress everyone not with them does not have the right to exist in a liberal democracy. No political party that uses voter suppression in any form has a place in our dialogue. And no political party that continues to force minority rule against the wishes of the majority of the citizens is welcome to share power in our democracy.

No one around Trump gives a damn about him.

What are the People Around Trump Thinking?

I spent twenty-three years as a registered nurse and had occasion to administer the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) to patients who were residents in the long-term care facility where I was employed.  The various tasks assigned to the patient are part of a very rudimentary screening tool designed to determine if there is a need for more specialized evaluations and scans for diagnosis and treatment.  The questions are therefore not meant to be ‘hard’, as they do not require any actual knowledge of anything, only the ability to follow directions and remember things someone just told you to remember.

Trump challenged Fox’s Chris Wallace to take the MoCA, particularly the last 5 questions.  Wallace recalled the one calling for “counting backwards by 7 from 100”, and Trump repeated his claims that the person administering the test was impressed by Trump’s ability to answer those questions correctly.  Wallace is heard saying “93…” while Trump speaks over him as he usually does.  The point is the last portion of the test after the animal drawing identification section are:

  • Memory (No points here, see below)
    • Read subject list of 5 words (face, velvet, church, daisy, red), have subject repeat list twice to reinforce retention.  Do recall test in 5 minutes (see Delayed Recall below)
  • Attention (6 points total)
    • Read list of digits at 1 per second (0-2/2)
      • (2 1 8 5 4) – subject to repeat in forward order (0-1/1)
      • (7 4 2) – subject to repeat in reverse order (0-1/1)
  • Read list of letters.  Subject must tap hand at each letter “A”. (0-1/1, no points for ≥ 2 errors)
  • F B A C M N A A J K L B A F A K D E A A A A J A M O F A A B
  • Serial 7 subtraction (4 or 5 subtractions) starting at 100 (4 or 5 correct = 3/3, 2 or 3 correct = 2/3, 1 correct = 1/3, 0 correct = 0/3)
  • 93           86           79           72           65
  • Language (3 points total)
    • Repeat the following:  “I only know that John is the one to help today.” (0-1/2)  “The cat always hid under the couch when dogs were in the room.” (0-1/2)
    • Name maximum number of words in one minute that begin with the letter “F”. (1 – 10 words = 0/1, ≥ 11 words = 1/1)
  • Abstraction (2 points total)
    • Identify the similarity between two words (i.e., broccoli – asparagus = vegetable): 
      • train – bicycle (0-1/1)
      • watch – ruler (0-1/1)
  • Delayed Recall  (5 points total)
    • Recall words from Memory above (face-velvet-church-daisy-red)
      • With no cue (0-1/5)
      • With category cue (0/5)
      • With multiple-choice cue (0/5)
  • Orientation (6 points total)
    • Date (0-1/1)
    • Month (0-1/1)
    • Year (0-1/1)
    • Day (0-1/1)
    • Place (0-1/1)
    • City (0-1/1)

I’ve had issues with the day and date since I stopped working; after all, if you don’t have to be anywhere in particular ever, what difference is it what day or date it is?  I have an iPhone that reminds me when I do have somewhere to be, and I’ve gotten lazy about actually knowing without looking at my phone the day or date.  It’s the same with phone numbers – I can still recite from heart ALL of my previous telephone numbers, and I used to be able to call anyone I knew simply by dialing their numbers from memory, but not anymore.  In fact, the only telephone number besides my own that I can dial without looking it up first is my daughter’s cell which I had to dial into the phones I used at work.  Now, I only use my cellphone and so never actually punch in the numbers anymore, and I know that it’s no longer necessary for me to remember them, so that information is now lost to me.  It seems that the information I no longer keep top of mind is that which is easiest to outsource to my technology, and I think that makes sense.  Also, anytime I’m being checked by medical professionals for my cognitive status, I’m there because I have an appointment, so have had the present day/date information brought to my attention and have no trouble remembering it if asked.

Anyway, my point in bringing all this up is, once again…

What is wrong with the people around Trump who are willing to let him display his rank incompetence and questionable cognitive status on camera?  Are they also delusional?  Doesn’t anyone in Trump’s circle of suck-ups have the insight to acknowledge that this ship is going down in a big hurry, taking all of them with it?  Or are they so craven in their greed that they intend to hold on to power until they are forced out in January when Biden is inaugurated?  How can any of these cult followers claim to care at all about the country, its citizens, or our democracy?  Each new breach of the Constitution Trump and Barr perform in full view of the world takes our reputation further into the gutter and our ability to right this mess harder.  Apparently, no one in the Republican Party has any shits left to give about any of the rest of us, especially their own constituents, as they refuse to do what’s best for us all to stop this pandemic.  I’ve said before that thinning the herd of cultists may not be so bad, especially when it’s due to their own stupidity.

Someone who has to keep ‘boasting’ about how well they did on a screening for dementia isn’t showing how smart or cognitively intact they are – they are revealing their massive insecurities in their own mental abilities.  Trump has used misdirection, hyperbole and repetition since he was a child under Fred’s tutelage to force those around him to treat him like the successful real estate tycoon he was convinced by his father he was, despite having copious proof to the contrary.  His tactics are ineffective and outright dangerous, to us as individuals and as a collective democracy, when faced with a pandemic and his own upcoming election.  Trump cannot lie or perseverate away more than 144,000 dead Americans, and his refusal to recognize that nothing he has done while in the White House has earned him another four years of destroying our government and our place in the world at large is yet another example of his inability to function within the reality that face everyone else on the planet. 

Trump’s behavior since he was inaugurated, facilitated by his cadre of sycophants and lackeys, has caused so much damage throughout not just our country, but the entire world, will take generations to roll back.  During his tenure, he has wasted TRILLIONS OF OUR TAX DOLLARS on vanity projects and lawsuits, defense of his own illiberal and illogical ‘executive orders’ and of course, by paying outrageous sums of money to his own company by visiting them at every possible chance on our dime. 

Everyone who has in any way supported this lawless administration and executive should find no doors open to them when they are removed from office in January.  No corporate offices should be welcoming any of them into the suites; no institutions of higher education should provide them with the platform to spread their propaganda to impressionable young minds.  The Republican Party as a whole must be firmly and effectively frozen out of all possible opportunities to do anything except make a middle-class income for the rest of their lives, since they have proven themselves completely lacking in the qualities necessary to actually run anything meant to benefit others beyond themselves. 

I have to believe that this is the administration that will finally put to rest the practice of ‘moving on’ and refusing to address the illegal actions of the preceding administration, often one of the opposite political party.  This is not meant to encourage specious, illegitimate ‘investigations’ like those now being sought in the Senate and Barr’s ‘Justice’ Department; rather, it is to hope that those who were responsible for so much of the corruption during the Trump administration will be investigated, tried and convicted of their misdeeds, especially Trump and his family. 

Biden Doesn’t Have to Overcome Misogyny

Why is it so surprising to anyone how well Joe Biden is doing pretty much every legitimate poll there is? We all know that the reason Hillary isn’t President of the United States right now had nothing to do with her ability to do the job and everything to do with her lack of male genitalia. That’s the reason why so many people hated her, since there was actually no logical reason for those who never met her to be so vehemently opposed to her being in the highest office in the land. Consequently, Joe Biden’s white male persona doesn’t elicit the same intensely negative feelings, and Trump finds it difficult to trash talk Biden the way he still does Hillary. Trump believes men belong in charge, specifically white men, so he’s now limited himself to a dangerous comparison – Biden’s cognitive and linguistic abilities compared to his own. Somehow, Trump still believes his own bullshit; that he has the capacity to debate Joe Biden on camera and somehow come out looking like he has one functioning brain cell. Seriously, how can his family (excluding his cousin Mary, whose new book I’m halfway through) who are purported to love him not convince him to resign instead of continuing to make a fool of himself live on camera every time he opens his mouth to speak?

For all those old white people, particularly men, who just couldn’t hold their noses in 2016 to vote for Hillary to keep Trump from winning are now perfectly content voting for white, male Joe Biden. This is unsurprising and yet still so sad. How can it be that in the 21st century there are still men too insecure in their own masculinity to find it palatable to have a woman as commander-in-chief?

I’m happy to have all of them vote for Joe Biden in November; anyone with the common sense to recognize that the most important thing in this election is to remove Trump from the White House is welcome onto our bandwagon, but there is one caveat to that welcome. If you want me to be excited because you finally realized what’s happening in the real world, outside the Fox media bubble, then I need to hear you acknowledge that this is exactly where the Republican Party has been heading since the Reagan years, that Trumpism was the only next step the GOP could take given it’s trajectory. I need to hear you admit that none of the awful things Trump has done since being turned loose in the Oval Office in 2017 were a surprise, that they really didn’t bother you all that month, because the main concern of your Republican Party was always to keep all the goodies for yourselves while essentially starving all the rest of us out of the country. I insist that each of you look me in the eye and tell me that your party, so focused on maintaining male white supremacy without regard for the consequences of your actions, has participated without fear of reprisals or a scintilla of empathy for all those you’ve hurt with your regressive policies for decades because it benefited you and helped you maintain your grasp on the power at the highest levels. I don’t want to listen to your false claims that Trump was an aberration, or that your party’s refusal to actually govern since the Reagan administration has been anything other than what it so clearly has been – outright greed, both for money and for power.

Nothing the Republican Party has done during it’s time in power over the last forty years has been on behalf of the actual people of this country – the tax breaks, regulation roll backs, judicial nominations were all done to benefit themselves and their donors while simultaneously hurting everyone else, including their own voters who for reasons I will never understand continued to support these greedy bastards. They have touted their supposed ‘faith’ as a reason to withhold reproductive healthcare from more than half the citizens of this country, because of course women lack the ability to decide what to do with their own bodies and for sure the continued existence of a parasitic being not yet born is ALWAYS more important to them than actual living, breathing beings. That has been brought home to roost during the raging Covid-19 pandemic that Trump and his cronies have so successfully allowed to spread without check throughout much of their voting base.

Brian Kemp, the scumbag who as the Georgia secretary of state oversaw his own election for governor and stole said election from Stacey Abrams, has passed a rule preventing all local officials in his state from mandating the use of face masks to help mitigate the spread of the virus. Greg Abbott, governor of Texas and fellow Trump sycophant, refuses to mandate masks in his state or allow local leaders to put out their own mitigation efforts as well while the largest hospital system in the world is overwhelmed by coronavirus patients. And then there’s Ron DeSantis, another Trump ass leach whose stupidity is on display every day as he continues to refuse to address the pandemic raging through his state that may have the highest percentage of white elderly people in the country. They and they ilk clearly have no interest in preserving the lives of those already born, many of them in their twilight years and a disproportionate number of whom are black and brown skinned, since they, like Trump, don’t believe that most of those people are ‘their voters’. This is what the Republican Party has come to, after decades of public policy almost laser focused on their white supremacist ideals. Trump’s birtherism during the Obama presidency fit right in with their plans; Mitch McConnell’s complete obstruction of anything to benefit the public proposed by the Obama administration only served to further their cause, and Trump determined to do everything he could to erase the legacy that Obama and his scandal-free eight years in office accomplished for the good of the people.

For his entire life, Donald Trump has been able to repeat his lies over and over until everyone else accepted them as the truth, even when they knew it wasn’t. Because he never had to get a real job anywhere other than at his daddy’s company, Donny was never required to follow rules or listen to anyone outside his own head. Thus, we are living in a pandemic as though we were a third-world country. Because he was deprived of love or affection by his father’s sociopathy, he lacks any ability to feel empathy for anyone. He has never been able to care about anyone except himself, despite his three marriages and numerous children. Trump recognized that a beautiful woman and children on his arm and trailing behind him made him look more successful, so he made sure to find women equally interested in his money. Not that I blame them for being mercenary – Trump is just a complete asshole to be around, self-absorbed and selfish, and would never have had a wife or any kids if he’d been broke. I can say that with confidence even though I’ve never met him in person; beauty may be skin deep, but assholery goes all the way through to the bone!

Trump has caused so much destruction, both intentionally and through his ignorant negligence of the way the federal government works, that it will likely require more than two continuous terms of Democratic administrations to put things not just back to the way they were, but more importantly, better in ways that help bring financial, social and legal equality to all the marginalized communities while also enshrining into law requirements for those holding higher office in this country to prevent someone like Trump, whether on the right or the left, from ever taking advantage of our system of norms again. It should not be possible to allow a clearly lawless individual like Trump to continue to break the law simply by virtue of winning an election – no one should be above the law, especially the person in the most powerful position in the country!!! It should not be acceptable for the Attorney General to politicize the workings of the Justice Department to benefit a lawless president without fear of recriminations. And the time has come to put into place requirements for some realistic prerequisites for everyone who wants to run for president in this country, including comprehensive psychological evaluations and cognitive testing that verifies that everyone trying to get the job has the ability to handle the responsibilities and evaluate the information necessary using written words (not just pictures) to make actual informed decisions versus our current straits with an ignoramus who consults with his own brain. No one who lacks the basic ability to express empathy for others should be able to throw their hat into the electoral ring regardless of their political leaning; ditto for those without compassion or who have a known history of repressive behavior towards minorities, people of color or women.

My son, who turned forty this past May (I know – I was an infant when I had him!) has fallen into some kind of cynical hole that has convinced him that almost everyone involved in politics does so for personal financial gain. He is still unable to even lie to me by assuring me that of course he’ll be voting for Joe Biden in November. He continues to insist that Hillary as president would have done a better job handling the pandemic only because it would have helped to get her elected to a second term, not because it was the right thing to do, and I can’t figure out what to say to him that will help change his mind. A few weeks ago, I asked him to forward to me his ‘news sources’, since last I’d heard he was listening to some guy on YouTube, which honestly is no different than reading this blog and assuming everything I opine about is true. Yes, I try to fact check the things I can, but much of what I’m writing here is my opinion, which, like assholes, everyone has. He sent me a couple of links, which I found were commentary and not fact-based, and I disputed his sources by advising he seek out those with actual journalism. After that first attempt, I’ve received no new links and still he insists that his skewed perceptions are reality. It’s disturbing, to say the least.

I don’t know if I’ll succeed in convincing my son to cast his single vote in Pennsylvania for Joe Biden, and I think it’s unlikely to matter by then as Trump continues to be ignore that hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens are dead because of his sociopathic incompetence and millions are infected with Covid-19 and may have lifelong health problems as a consequence. Even Trump’s repeated lies cannot outpace the virus, and his own followers have found themselves forced to make an existential choice….

Is sticking your thumb in the Democrats eye worth risking your life?

Don’t Read Bolton’s Book

Donald Trump’s deep-seated and irredeemable racism, on full display for his entire life, is going to help pull him kicking and screaming out of the White House on January 20, 2021.  It is becoming more apparent every day that Trump is likely to drag enough Republicans down ballot out of office along with him, even as the party writ large continues their silence despite the growing list of lies and outrage that spews from Trump’s Twitter feed, to give power to the Democrats in ways that really matter.

Joe Biden is going to have his work cut out for him when he enters office (just undoing Trump’s executive orders will take days!), considering the hollowing-out of the executive branch Trump has managed during his time in office, but Biden has an advantage Trump never did – the experience necessary to know who to bring in with him to get things done for the American people and the desire to do what’s best for all of us.  Trump only knows how to do what he thinks is best for Trump.

The past week has been a shit show, as Trump’s ineptitude is made even more apparent while he pretends that Covid-19 is “dying out” while simultaneously forcing the cult to sign liability waivers in order to attend his narcissistic rally in Tulsa.  I am sorry that the non-cult citizens of Oklahoma are going to be exposed to these fools, who have been proud to tell reporters who were sensibly and thoughtfully wearing facemasks to protect those around them that they would not wear facemasks while at the rally unless they were required to do so.  Since Trump and his sycophants have managed to make protecting our fellow citizens political instead of normal, of course his cult refuses to wear masks.  The silver lining to this idiocy is that by doing so, they will be culling their own herd. 

The CDC was previously seen as the top of the heap when a contagious disease appeared anywhere in the world.  Trump and the Republicans have succeeded in just 3 ½ years to destroy the reputation of this and every other well-known and respected agency in our federal government.  Trump, in his infinite lack of wisdom and competence, sees the entire federal government as his own empire, a larger and much more powerful version of his personal organization, and he has used the levers of presidential power solely and completely as a means of lining his own pockets and maintaining his hold on The White House.  His inability to see beyond his own selfish needs has revealed in stark terms the huge lift that will be necessary to enshrine into law those ‘norms’ previous residents of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue have upheld during their own times in office.  The expectation that presidential candidates will reveal their taxes, put their assets into a blind trust, or any of the other myriad things all previous presidents have done to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest – none of these mattered to Trump, because Trump didn’t have a conflict of interest.  Trump’s interest has only ever been for himself and his money, so no conflict exists!  Holding a crowded rally indoors without social distancing or facemasks during a pandemic?  Not a problem, since Trump and his cronies get rapid tests on a daily basis.  Who cares if the people in the audience are the beginning of a super spreader event, so long as Trump gets his ego soothed by the cheering crowd.

Trump is trying to run his 2020 election as a do-over of the one in 2016 – he doesn’t even have the wherewithal to come up with a new platform, preferring to recycle the previous one that was centered on how awful the president in office was performing.  The thing is Trump’s refusal to hear anything from outside his media bubble makes him blind to how angry the majority of the country is at his rank incompetence and inability to perform even the most basic job of uniting the country during this time of social upheaval.  This is denial of the most obvious outcome of his behavior during these 3 ½ years, and it is going to result in what is possibly the largest repudiation of a sitting president in recent history.  At least, I hope it will, barring Republican voter suppression tactics and Republicans forcing their own citizens to vote in person.

Then there is the book John Bolton wrote while he was Trump’s national security advisor, taking notes on yellow legal pads under Trump’s nose, now pending release next week.  Trump told his lawyer William Barr to sue to keep the Bolton book from being published after it was printed and shipped all over the country (and likely the world), and was of course thwarted by a judge in his attempt.  I refuse to buy Bolton’s book – had Bolton testified during the House’s impeachment inquiry, maybe (although highly unlikely) he could have swayed some of the Republicans to do the right thing and remove this dangerous malignant narcissist from office.  At the very least, Bolton’s knowledge that Trump is incompetent to be president and incapable of performing the duties required for the position made public could have provided the Republicans in the Senate with a little cover to vote to impeach.  Surely a president Pence would have been less dangerous to the country and the world than this giant boy child now in office has been, right?  Certainly, he would not have been worse.

Now, Trump is having a temper tantrum as another book, this one by his niece Mary Trump, is set to be released in July.  Titled “How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man,” it is clearly not going to wax poetic about how wonderful it’s been being related to The Donald.  Trump is of course looking into suing his niece for violating an NDA, not that this is a surprise from the most litigious man to hold the office.  Another book released this month about Melania reports that her delay in moving to the White House was a result of her renegotiating the terms of her prenuptial agreement, while showing that in fact she supports the awful things Trump has done while in office (although not to her parents, who were brought here under ‘chain migration’ from Slovenia).

Never Trumpers continue to wave their bullshit flag, pretending that the world began in 2016.  Republicans outraged by Trump are gleefully telling us how the Democrats are screwing up their chances to vote Trump out in November, while pretending that they have no culpability for where the Republican Party has gone under their stewardship!!!  Listening to Bill Kristol on MSNBC telling us that John Bolton was ‘truthful’ despite his lack of patriotism and refusal to uphold his oath of office was infuriating, since Kristol and Bolton were friends for years.  Many of the senior Republican Senators were also friends with John Bolton and were likely privy to the same information Bolton withheld from the House in order to line his pockets with a $2 million book deal, yet still they voted to let Trump remain in office.  The Republicans have only one thing they care about, and they place that about all else – maintain their grip on the reins of power.

This is obvious in all the ways that Republicans work to keep those with whom they disagree from having a seat at the table.  They have used their time in office to prevent Democrats from voting, gerrymandered districts, purged voter rolls, and literally stolen votes (by forging mail-in ballots), all while pretending that they gave a damn about the people who voted them into office.  Using racial dog whistles, they’ve played on the systemic and pervasive racism they have continued to endorse in order to inflame their base, all the while knowing that the only people likely to benefit from their tenure in office are themselves and their donors.  They’ve lied to their constituents about their plans for improving their lives, fully aware that their regressive taxation puts those at the bottom of the income bracket at a significant disadvantage.  In fact, they continue to work to eliminate the social safety net in order to benefit the wealthiest among us, further exacerbating the wealth inequality to their own benefit.

Big changes are a-coming, and the first has to be a complete repudiation of the Republican Party and all who have supported it.  The Never Trumpers cannot be allowed to erase their own histories, and must be called to account for their part in getting their party to where it is – because they were and are part of the problem.  They are welcome to continue to produce and air their anti-Trump ads – since right now, getting Trump out of office has to take precedence – but that does not mean liberals should be embracing them as allies, as in “The enemy of my enemy is my friend”?  No – not when these political consultants did their jobs that guided the Republican Party to its present iteration – the party of Trump.  No, these people need to dig a hole, jump in, and pull the hole in on top of them. 

I’m tired of hearing ‘Never Trumpers’, who did such a wonderful job of screwing up their own party, tell liberals what they should be doing.  They may have ‘left’ the Republican Party, but they are still deeply conservative and their beliefs about their conservatism are ingrained.  These folks have not shifted to the left, supportive of anti-racism, addressing climate change, real policing reform, and all the other things liberals hold high on their lists.  They are still devoted to their belief in small government and gutting the social safety nets, while giving tax breaks to corporations and the wealthy.  Unless and until they acknowledge their own responsibility in getting us to where we are now, they should be ostracized from any access to mainstream media outlets.  Their continued ability to use these outlets to pretend they are outraged by the party they have created only makes their ouster more unlikely, thereby leaving the door open for them to reclaim their places in the party after Trump has left office. 

They cannot have it both ways – either they take responsibility and work to undo the damage they have done to the body politic or they just go quietly into the ether.  They should not be given any platform to use to re-configure their culpability and pretend the past didn’t happen.  If these ‘never Trumpers’ really want to help, they should shut up and listen – to everyone their previous work has hurt, held back, criminalized, or locked in prison – until they finally understand the real damage their policies and support has wrought on the populace writ large… and small.   

No one should provide any financial incentive for any of Trump’s former officials to write tell-all books when none of them were patriotic enough to stand up under oath and reveal the things we all knew were going on when there was the slimmest chance their testimony could have made a difference.  It’s ironic that, today, my daughter texted me a link to Bolton’s book (now apparently no longer working!) that had been leaked, providing access to his words without lining his pockets.  Even for free; reading Bolton’s tome is not worth the time it takes to do so.  Life is too short.  I’ll wait for Chris Hayes and Rachel Maddow to tell me the worst of it on Monday.

Trump, the Fascist Swine

John Bolton doesn’t have to publish a book to let the public know what he saw and heard during his time in the Trump Administration; all he has to do is contact a non-right-wing media outlet and agree to a no-holds-barred on-camera live interview or even just offer to make a statement.  Of course, those options do not successfully line his and his publisher’s pockets, so damn the damage Trump does to the country, let’s wait until we can charge people for the information!  No giving anything away for free, no siree!

Not that Bolton’s self-interest is anything new – this is the same man who refused to testify to the House to provide first-hand knowledge during the impeachment investigation, after all.   In fact, most of the revelations Bolton has made in public have been made during paid speaking engagements, not during media news interviews.  Bolton’s behavior is on a par with Trump’s, although with much less power to wield and he appears to share in the narcissism Trump is so clearly suffering from. The point is that John Bolton, in order to benefit his bottom line, is completely happy in his disloyalty to the United States.   His continued silence in the face of rising, brazen fascist actions and rhetoric from Trump is all the proof anyone should need to recognize that Bolton does not care about the country anymore than Trump does.  No one should spend money on his book; we’ll see the most inflammatory parts in the media anyway, so why line Bolton’s pockets?

I hope that more people now recognize that John Bolton, Jim Mattis, John Kelly, et al are not showing their patriotism now, as the world watches the United States turn into a tin pot dictatorship – they are trying to be let into the lifeboat.  They had a chance to make a difference during the impeachment, although we’ll never get to know if their information could have swayed the Senate Republican denizens to put country over party.  Their continued silence at that time means they now have ownership in the absolute abdication of responsibility or accountability that Trump has exhibited, this fascist bent including the most recent abuse of power, subverting the Constitutional right to peaceably assemble and protest by using excessive force to get a photo-op.

So again, thank you to all the former administration collaborators/employees/sycophants who have waited until now to tell us what most of us knew before the 2016 election – that Trump is a useless piece of shit who only got where he was by stealing his father’s money and abusing the legal system, the latter a skill he has continued to benefit from since taking office.  I’m unable to understand why, with the first-hand experience you have all had with this incompetent boob, it took so long for you to speak up, although there are still more of you who remain silent out of greed or what?  Fear?  Of Trump?  Seriously? 

Trump may be tall in height, but he is otherwise a very small, scared, shell of a man.  He has never, in his entire life, ever been required to do anything he didn’t want to do.  His ego is so fragile; he is utterly incapable of acknowledging his mistakes or obvious lack of understanding for so many things that they require their own blog post!  His opinion of himself is inversely proportionate to his actual knowledge base, making me wonder who he paid in order to graduate from college and graduate school.  There’s no question why he keeps all his school records hidden – it’s impossible to pretend you’ve always been all that and you’re a “very stable genius” if your post-secondary records reveal you graduated “summa cum prematurely”.

All who have kept silent, regardless of your reasons, have culpability in what comes next.  For those who served in the military, thank you for your service.  That said, when your country really needed you, this time to put only your reputation on the line, you refused to do so.  When you offered your life in service, you were one person out of thousands doing so, but when you were one of only a select few who could have averted at least some of the ongoing crises, you sat back and did nothing.  That’s not patriotism.  That’s greed… or cowardice.

The silver lining to this huge thundercloud of disaster we are now living through is this – we are now painfully aware that there is an overwhelming need for sweeping changes regarding things once considered ‘norms’ but not officially enshrined in statutes and laws.  No longer can we go blithely along, expecting that those with the power will do what’s expected of them without the force of law that provides for swift and fair repercussions when the executive branch refuses to submit to oversight, ignores subpoenas, or misappropriates money using bogus emergency declarations. 

It is now no longer acceptable for those in positions of power, including in the Senate and the House, to remain in their seats indefinitely; twelve years for either chamber, whether consecutive or not, should be the maximum amount of time anyone can serve, and maybe it’s time to change the House from two year terms to three years.  Along with this, there has to be huge election reform, particularly with regard to election financing.  Elections must be federally funded in an equitable way, while allowing actual people only (no companies, corporations, SuperPACs, or other entity) to contribute to those they wish to, using some type of voucher system so that everyone, regardless of income or wealth, can participate in this part of politics.  The time for only the most wealthy to have all the political power is over.

It is no longer reasonable for judges throughout the judiciary, up to and including the Supreme Court, to be given lifetime appointments.  When this was first written into the Constitution, the average lifespan was 35 years, so a lifetime appointment was only a few years.  Now, judges routinely sit on the bench for 25 years or more, leaving at an average age of 78!  There is no reason at this point in our development to continue with this outdated method of populating the bench.  All federal judges must serve for a limited period of time with every president given the opportunity to name two justices to the court during each term (see https://fixthecourt.com/fix/term-limits/).  Although there is always the possibility of an unexpected death of one of the justices, having a term limit means that death is not the most frequent reason justices leave the court.

It is no longer acceptable for lobbyists to have a place in Washington, DC.  The wealthy, including corporations, foundations, foreign governments, and who knows what else, should no longer be allowed to continue their unfair and undemocratic ability to influence policy that disadvantages the rest of us.  Corporate welfare at all levels must be eliminated; no more subsidies for giant agribusiness, the fossil fuel industry, the pharmaceutical industry, etc.  Once, monopolies were broken up into smaller companies, now they’re approved and allowed to overtake everything, concentrating the wealth at the very top.  This should never have been allowed, and must be undone ASAP.

Racial inequality and oppression must be addressed.  It requires all white people to work at it, since we are the ones with the problem; the black folks are the ones who suffer because of our problem.  Every one of us must work, every day, in all ways, to change not just our own misconceptions and biases, but we have to speak up when we see or hear them in the people around us.  That’s the only way we can begin what we’ve been pretending was done after the Civil War – treating people of color with the dignity and respect we have often only shown to fellow white people.  See White Fragility: Why it’s So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism at your local bookstore or ebook platform.

Finally, social media has to be brought to heel.  Jeff Zuckerberg does not care about the damage being done to our social discourse, so long as people keep clicking.  Jack Dorsey will keep letting Trump and others like him post false, misleading and inflammatory things in order to keep people coming back for more.  These and other social media platforms, while not the creators of the information posted, have a responsibility greater than that of the established media giants.  The ability of their platforms to spread in a nanosecond makes it more imperative that they be held accountable financially so that they are more likely to do what other media outlets have been required to since the beginning – prevent the dissemination of lies, propaganda, etc., and be required to prominently post retractions and corrections when something slips by. 

Vote the Democratic ticket – only by taking power from the obstructionist Republicans can we hope to see the changes we need.  Then hold those we vote into office accountable.

The Basket is Uncomfortable

Former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. | Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Photo
Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times

How is it possible that someone so completely lacking in the ability (or desire) to care about anyone other than himself continues to have the support of, well, anyone at all?  What does it say about the core values of everyone who still supports Trump and his minions, as we watch him further incite his base with his racist rhetoric? 

Hillary wasn’t wrong when she referred to most of the Trump supporters as a “basket of deplorables”, although I’m sad for what it says about the state of the country.  I’m sure that many of them would insist that they “don’t have a racist bone in their body”, reminding everyone about that black guy from work they have lunch with sometimes or the African American couple they see at church every week.  I would have insisted the same about myself, even though inside I knew it wasn’t really true.  I just hoped I was able to offset the racism I was indoctrinated into – via the environments at home, school, play, and especially, I believe, on television – and treat everyone as an individual.

Any president would have been overwhelmed by so many crisis at once, but no other previous occupant of The White House has worked so hard to eliminate the many experts throughout the entire federal government as Trump has over just 3 ½ years.  Add to this Trump’s unique and utter lack of relevant qualifications for any of the tasks a modern president of the United States is expected to be able to perform convincingly and without hesitation and here we are – with the president making every one of the current crisis we are living through worse with every Tweet and asinine pronouncement. 

It is Trump’s utter lack of empathy that undergirds every awful decision, statement and executive order throughout this Orwellian presidency.  I’ve read the DSM-5 Criteria for Antisocial Personality Disorder, and I am NOT a psychiatrist or medical doctor, nor have I personally examined or interviewed Trump, but I am confident simply by observing Trump unscripted on hours of interviews that we are looking at the ‘real’ Donald Trump.  There can be little doubt that Trump has something very wrong inside his brain, not the least of which is an obvious personality disorder. 

And he now appears to believe that he his king of America.

In order to give himself a ‘photo-op’, Trump had the federal police attack peaceful protestors with flash-bang shells, tear gas and rubber bullets.  This unprovoked assault could be heard live while Trump was addressing the nation from the Rose Garden and lying about being “an ally of all peaceful protestors”.   After the peaceful protestors were forced away by these attacks, Trump stomped up to the front of St. John’s Episcopal Church (where he has darkened the door exactly one time) and held up an inverted bible (because he’s oblivious, not as a ‘sign’), because he’s only ever concerned for how his base of evangelical Christians see him.  As an atheist, I find his use of a bible as a prop ironic; he has no clue what is inside (remember “Two Corinthians”?) but still the religious right condone his performance in the presidency as doing ‘god’s work”?

Trump actually used military force against peaceful protestors in order to appease his own ego?  How can this be acceptable to anyone?  Why aren’t Republicans stepping up and doing something to stop Trump before he goes totally authoritarian?  Trump doesn’t care what Democrats say about his behavior, although there have still been many who have publicly rebuked Trump’s behavior and his inability to do what an actual president would do at a time like this.

Trump, who has never publicly admitted to any mistake because of his erroneous assumption that such an admission makes him look ‘weak’, is incapable of acknowledging his own inherent and learned racism.  He wants us to believe that he has never been racist and therefore of course nothing he’s said or done has ever negatively affected those of color more than white folks, no matter the evidence we’ve seen and heard with our own eyes and ears (“What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening”).  Trump’s inability to recognize his own faults make him incapable of correcting those behaviors going forward; when he acts surprised after his most recent racist statement provokes outrage, I think at some level he’s sincerely confused by his total lack of insight.

Trump’s racism is so much a part of who he is that he is incapable of even contemplating anything that could result a change in his current outlook on everything and everyone outside of himself.  He seems to lack anything that resembles depth inside him or outside, in the relationships he has with those to whom he is either related, married, or holds sway over.  Most of those in the latter category have a very transactional relationship with him – Republicans keep supporting him because of “judges, tax cuts and regulations”, while others do so out of greed or fear.  All have one thing in common, though – they do so in order to benefit themselves first and foremost. 

All those whose support has allowed Trump to remain in power do so in order to maintain their own positions – in and out of government, the entertainment industry (largely responsible for Trump’s fraudulent image of success), mainstream and right-wing media, evangelical leaders and leaders of countries not considered our allies.  All must be, to the extent possible, removed from those positions and forced out of the limelight forever.  No more should they be allowed to have their prior behavior whitewashed or be given positions on CNN, MSNBC, The Washington Post, New York Times, etc., from which they can pretend their history never happened.  There can be no chance to absolve themselves of their responsibility for the rise of Trump to happen. 

The country is now at a moral tipping point, and it looks very much like those of us on the side of what is right are stronger, louder and more engaged in the fight.  Those who say that Biden is too old to change are wrong.  We in the boomer generation (by chance of birth, not by choice) are not universally incapable of looking back on what was and, with fresh eyes and an open mind, acknowledging the truth – without our consent or awareness, we were convinced to believe that dark-skinned men in particular were an inherent threat to our well-being.  This racist lie has been used to manipulate us all for generations in an us-versus-them mentality that even now is an open secret in many parts of the country.

I am sorry for being oblivious and accepting things as they were.  It was hard for me to admit that I have always benefited from white privilege, and it’s even more difficult to be honest and admit that I can’t be sure whether or not I was at least somewhat aware of it back in the 1970’s.  I can admit that I did things that I knew were against the law (like smoking weed) but yet never once did I consider being less bold about when or where I did so.  I’ve always had a lead foot, and am almost always driving at least 5 miles over the posted speed limit, but somehow that hasn’t caused me to be worried about being pulled over and ticketed.

I can remember being in the car with my Mom while she waited to make a left turn.  After she was waved ahead by a driver on the other side of the road, she remarked to me something about black drivers being so much more courteous.  “Black drivers almost always let you go,” she told me, without ever offering any explanation of why she had come to that conclusion.  It’s only in my more recent past that I’ve put two and two together – of course, black drivers are extremely courteous behind the wheel – they don’t want to do anything that might attract the attention of the police because of their fear of a fatal encounter!  I have no idea if my Mom knew back in the 60’s why she was always yielded to on the road, and lost my chance to ask when she died in 2006. 

The Republicans have calculated their most likely path to remaining in power, and that path has intentionally played white grievance as its trump card (no pun intended).  The party was given the choice to go down a different path after the election of Barack Obama in 2008, but chose instead to double down on their platform of white-supremacy.  The party’s claim that racism was no longer a thing stood in stark contrast to the open and obvious racism Trump has made such a part of his political brand.

Trump’s twisted view of ‘strength’ involves ordering others with weapons to fight on his behalf.  Trump’s emotional vacuity is so complete he is psychologically incapable of even the slightest whiff of understanding, sympathy, empathy, compassion, or any other feeling that involves caring about someone else.  He is uniquely and completely unqualified for the role he has been called on to play, and the Republicans complete refusal to acknowledge and address this clear and present danger to our democracy is unforgivable. 

They will not change, because they refuse to put country over party.  Jim Mattis’ rebuke of Trump’s stunt in Lafayette Square is welcome, but why did he remain silent now?  His statement makes clear that he has always known who and what Trump is, yet he justified his continued silence for 3 ½ years.  Thanks, Jim – better late than never, I supposed.

Their lack of character allows them to continue to put party over country, particularly all those who continue to maintain their silence despite knowing personally how dangerous Trump is in the office of the presidency. All who continue to support the Republican Party must be made to admit that they know what that support means.

Vote them out.  Anything else is complicity.