It’s apparent to most of us that the Republicans feel nothing but disdain towards anyone in the country other than their donors and corporate overlords. Their refusal to address the ongoing and catastrophic hair-on-fire financial and healthcare emergencies raging through the country because they’ve suddenly remembered that deficit spending creates a deficit in the federal budget – something that only matters to the Republicans when there is a Democratic President (or the likelihood of one in the near future) – is the latest affront. They were mum in 2017 as they passed that $3 trillion dollar tax cut that not only gives the majority of the benefits to the top 1% over the next ten years, it also serves to enrich those who passed the legislation.
The Republicans enacted tax breaks on seven classes of assets held by many of the wealthier members at the time, saving them hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes while their corporate holdings value increased because of the corporate tax breaks. The ten richest Republicans in Congress who voted for the tax bill held more than $731 million in assets, almost 2/3 in stocks, bonds, mutual funds and other instruments, assets they included in their tax cut. In fact, only one of the Republicans on the three committees that wrote the tax bill did not own stocks and mutual funds. Those Republicans also benefited by the ‘repatriation’ of corporate funds from outside the country, since the result was to increase the value of their stocks and dividends from companies like Apple.
All these Republicans reaped the rewards of their tax legislation, increasing their wealth along with the federal deficit. This deficit increase was just fine and dandy, since the benefits from their legislation lined their own and their corporate handlers’ pockets. Besides, later they can use the deficit they created with their self-enriching tax cuts to further erode the social safety net programs of Medicare, Medicaid, SNAP, Welfare and Social Security that benefits those of us who were not fortunate enough to be in millionaires in Congress.
Now, we are in the throes of these converging disasters caused by the Republicans abdication of legislating and governing for anyone other than themselves. Led by Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy, the Republicans in both chambers have dropped any pretext of giving a damn about their own constituents, let alone those whose votes they know they have no chance of getting. In Texas, they are fighting tooth and nail to make it neigh on impossible for people to register to vote, and those who are registered are limited in their ability to vote by mail (unless they are over the age of 64, a demographic that is historically slanted towards Republicans), because they are fully aware that they have a choice to make – either become more inclusive or limit the ability of Democrats to cast votes against them. Of course, they have chosen to impede free and fair elections, including by Trump naming a Republican donor with $75 million invested in shipping companies and postal service contractors as Postmaster General, where he has already worked to slow down the mail, gut management, and try to raise the rates municipalities may have to pay to bulk mail ballots to voters (from $0.20 to $0.55). The rate increase may not be enacted, but the threat of it may be enough for some municipalities to not even try to send out ballots, which may be all it takes to give Trump the electoral college win he so needs to avoid all sorts of legal repercussions if he leaves the White House in January 2021 instead of 2025.
Those Republicans who have used their ability to legislate to remain in power in order to enrich themselves continue to reveal that they care only about doing more of the same. How ironic that they can say out loud that the $600 weekly unemployment enhancement has led to the unemployed bringing home more than they were paid to do actual work while it doesn’t occur to them that the problem with this is that those workers are not being paid a living wage in the first place, not that finally they’re able to buy food and pay rent without having to choose one over the other. Their assertion that the additional unemployment payment is what is keeping people from returning to work is ludicrous – people aren’t returning to work because businesses aren’t reopening with the virus running rampant throughout the country. The fact that many of those who are making this ridiculous statement are millionaires makes it even more infuriating.
They refuse to do anything to benefit the citizens of this country who have been systemically and systematically stripped of what little they may have managed to squirrel away for a rainy day with regressive taxes, onerous regulations for safety net programs that punish those most in need for bogus offenses and withholding desperately needed financial and nutritional assistance that actually serves to prop up the economy at large by providing a lifeline that will be redistributed by those who cannot otherwise remain fed and housed in these perilous times. The refuse to address this because it isn’t a factor in their own lives, or the lives of those around them. Few if any have ever needed to apply for any kind of assistance from the government, and they refuse to consider what that really feels like to those of us who have been required by circumstances out of our control to do so.
Citizens have for decades fallen for the Republican’s lies and voted against their own best interests by putting them into office, in large part because they believed that the ‘other’ (the ‘welfare queen’, for example) was robbing them of benefits rightly theirs. The right-wing media bubble has successfully stuffed their heads with the bullshit Republicans have spewed for decades, and without taking any time to consider whether those things were actually true, they let their own prejudices and pain drive them to re-elect these scumbags who then use their elected positions to continue their assault on our democracy and our ability to make an actual living wage.
How many more must die, whether by Covid-19 or despair, before those still willing to vote for Trump realize they’ve been duped for generations? How many must be made homeless by the Republicans refusal to authorize real financial support required because their leader and his administration have so incompetently refused to deal with the pandemic before the 38% who still believe that Trump is doing a good job at anything other than enriching himself see how wrong they’ve been?
Sadly, I think that the answer is going to prove to be all 38% of them.
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.
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.
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.