Archive for the ‘stinking piece of shit’ Category

“If the guy had done anything wrong, it would have come out by now”

September 26, 2022

He now says he declassified the documents in his mind, just by thinking it, no sort of “process” being necessary. Also that the FBI, in its judicially authorized search, planted evidence. (Just what, he doesn’t say.)

The special master, Judge Dearie, chosen at the behest of Trump’s own lawyers, has given them a tight deadline to back up the claims about declassification and planted evidence, or else drop them. The lawyers, mindful of professional ethics, are silent.

But whether the documents were declassified is not the issue. Taking even non-secret government documents was an indisputable criminal offense. Likewise surely criminal was Trump’s originally lying to the government about having them (obstruction of justice).

A further issue concerns folders labeled “classified” but found empty. And there’s still no explanation for why Trump took all that stuff in the first place.

He also now says that the FBI, in searching Mar-a-Lago, may actually have been looking for Hillary Clinton’s missing emails.

I’m not making that up. The psycho actually said this, and not in jest, on Fox, to Hannity.

Meantime, New York’s Attorney General is charging Trump and his family with criminal fraud in their real estate operations. The stuff he pled the Fifth about, several hundred times. His whole business a giant tangle of scams. Among the lengthy list of allegations: he lied about the size of his inaugural crowd. Er, excuse me, the size of his own Trump Tower residence, 30,000 square feet versus an actual 10,000.

Notice that in all charges against him, Trump (and his backers) never actually claim innocence. His legal machinations never aim at clearing his name but, rather, obstructing and dragging out the proceedings. Thus that “special master” business, to handicap the FBI’s investigation of the recovered documents. And remember his forever battle to hide his tax returns?

The other strategy, of course, is to cry “witch hunt.” All investigations called politically motivated and illegitimate. Claiming that from the start, they were simply out to get him, some “deep state” conspiracy. Thus lately he more openly endorses the QAnon lunacy. The “stolen election” lie fits with this too: all of it feeding his cultist’s notion that they’re a beleaguered force for good battling to save America from corrupt, evil ones.

Here’s something perfectly encapsulating their imperviousness to reality. The PBS Newshour recently sent reporter Lisa Desjardins to interview Trump rally attendees. And one said, “If the guy had done anything wrong, it would have come out by now!”

Frontline — How MAGA maggots ate the GOP

September 13, 2022

PBS’s recent Frontline documentary, Lies, Politics and Democracy, I thought would just be old hat. Instead it was a compelling and revealing eye-opener.

For six years my hair’s been on fire. But maybe I’ve been too mild.

The film began with clips from every presidential election concession speech, back to 1940. Every loser graciously congratulating the winner and wishing him well. The contrast with 2020 unspoken.

The main theme was the Republican party’s moral collapse as Trump’s accomplice. Its base consumed by extremist true believers, with its politicians recoiling in horror but lacking the intestinal fortitude to resist. Realizing their political futures required posing as Trumpist cheerleaders. Some also saw it as a faustian bargain to get legislation and judicial appointments they wanted. Mitch McConnell explicitly made that deal with Trump.

Particularly profiled was Ted Cruz, who sought the 2016 nomination. Cruz won in Iowa. Trump insisted that result was a fraud — something, Frontline pointed out, he’s claimed regarding every bauble he’s ever failed to win. Trump also viciously smeared Cruz and even his wife, which Cruz deemed unforgivable.

Come the national convention, Cruz had to decide whether his speech would endorse Trump. Depicted as a crisis of conscience (as if Cruz actually has one). His speech described what an ideal leader should be like — a thinly veiled indictment of Trump, who flouts all that. The room roundly booed Cruz, shouting “Get off the stage!” or to have his mike turned off. No longer your father’s Republican party.

Later, Cruz did suck it up and campaigned for Trump.

The film’s every scene noted how many years, months, and days, until January 6, 2021. Giving that event its due salience. Recently I answered a telephone poll, being asked what issue is most important to me. About ten choices were offered — not including January 6 and the ongoing threat to our democracy.

Indeed, voters fix on issues like inflation, immigration, abortion, crime, etc. Not democracy, which ought to be a supervening concern, trumping all those others. If we lose our democracy, you can stick all those others up your butt.

Interestingly, despite claiming fraud, Trump was portrayed, right after the 2020 election, as more or less giving up; and it was Giuliani who pushed the coup plot. What a case study he is, squandering a once heroic reputation. Why? One of so many who, like moths to Trump’s flame, destroyed themselves.

The film highlighted successive hinge points where a responsible core of the GOP might have finally declared, “enough is enough.” One was Charlottesville of course. Many Republican officials did tut-tut, but that was all. Nothing changed.

Then came January 6. And right after, “enough is enough” did seem to take hold at last, even for the likes of Lindsay Graham and Kevin McCarthy. But that swiftly melted away, despite Trump leaving office. McCarthy pilgrimaged to Mar-a-Lago to kiss the ring. Which, says Frontline, brought the monster back from the dead.

And so, few GOP lawmakers voted for the second impeachment. A majority had already voted against certifying the 2020 election, on the night of January 6 itself.

This, Frontline indicates, was not mere political cowardice, it was physical cowardice. Many of them feared for their lives. One of the film’s most powerful takeaways is the frightening depth of vicious extremism among MAGA maggots. Proliferating threats of death (and, for women, rape) directed at anyone seen as a traitor against Trump. They really did try to hang Mike Pence.

As much as sane people decry them, they double the contempt in return. “Basket of deplorables?” We’ll show you, you sons of . . . .

And thus did the stolen election lie become a matter of faith unto death. Of course it was just made up, because Trump’s psychosis couldn’t accept losing. Frontline noted that while practically all Republican office seekers mouth the lie, practically none really believes it. The whole party is one big fraud built atop a fraud.

It’s horribly damaging to our democracy. A core element of a democratic society is acceptance of majority rule. We no longer have that. Too many have lost trust in the election process. Too many Republicans consider it legitimate only if their side wins.

Trumpers’ Heroic Persecution Fantasy

August 16, 2022

Trump cultists’ rabid reaction to the FBI search warrant is revealing. They don’t just see him under threat; they see themselves under threat. Columnist Paul Waldman quotes a tweet by House Judiciary Committee Republicans:


“The IRS is coming for you. The DOJ is coming for you. The FBI is coming for you. No one is safe from political punishment in Joe Biden’s America.”

But if this scares them,”They glory in it,” writes Waldman. Fancying themselves “sympathetic victims, the encircled defenders of justice, oppressed but unbowed. This fantasy of persecution is so powerful because it turns [their Trump fixation] into something dramatic, even heroic . . . You’re a freedom fighter waging war against forces of darkness to secure liberty’s future.” And every rotten thing Trump did, he did for you.

How did we get here? Waldman details how, for example, Trump promised relief for coal country’s economic collapse, but never delivered (natch). Yet still the victims latched onto him as speaking for them like no one ever had. And mainly against those Americans viewed as disdaining them, and despised by them. These feelings of cultural alienation and grievance propelled Trumpism into becoming essential to their sense of identity — to the point where he’s a Jesus-like personal savior.

They fetishize the word “freedom.” The right to own guns become a central totem of this religion. And the nonsense that Biden and Democrats are installing a Marxist tyranny, “destroying America and its liberty.”* Of course what’s really central to American freedom is democracy — which it’s Magadom that truly threatens. Yet they hallucinate that an attempted coup based on lies and fraud (like fake electors), to overthrow a legitimate election, with a violent assault on the Capitol, was somehow a defense of liberty.

The FBI’s own past was not unblemished; but it (and the DOJ) surely knew what intense blowback the search would trigger, and would not have proceeded absent very firm grounds. Trump has lied that he declassified the documents at issue; that Obama committed the same crime; and even that the FBI planted evidence. The fury-fit unleashed against the FBI feeds right-wing paranoia seeing our basic societal institutions as one big nefarious conspiracy. Trump, who’s corrupted everything he’s ever touched, has systematically blown up trust in those institutions: the news media, the intelligence services, the Supreme Court, our election systems. And now law enforcement. All just terrible for America.

Any whiff of criminality would be terrible for a candidate, in normal sane politics. Yet David Brooks thinks the FBI search may boost Trump’s 2024 chances. Whereas there’d been signs of GOP readiness to move on, now the party’s rallied around him. He is, The Economist’s “Lexington” columnist writes, “the black hole at the center of [our] politics” — indeed, his “power to warp reality is so great that enforcing the law against him may actually help wreck the republic.”

Given the firestorm at the mere evidence search, imagine if Trump, while running for president or already nominated, is actually charged with crimes and put on trial. Even without that element, his losing in 2024 would send millions of his backers into deranged fury. Can American democracy, and rule of law, survive it?

* Remember, I’m an old Goldwater conservative saying it’s nonsense.

The Mar-a-Lago Search — Republican Hypocrisy Incandescent

August 11, 2022

Trumpworld is foaming at the mouth in paroxysms of outrage over the FBI’s Mar-a-Lago search, screeching that it’s an improper “weaponizing” of government against a political adversary; “banana republic” stuff; another witch-hunt; the worst thing ever done; blah blah blah.

Anything to avoid their heads exploding at the idea their oh-so-innocent god may be guilty of wrongdoing. (Trump, required to testify in New York this week, pleaded the Fifth Amendment in refusing to answer any questions. He’d previously said anyone who takes the Fifth must be hiding something.)

A little history:

In 2016 Hillary Clinton was already running for president when the FBI investigated her email practices. Director Comey made that public, in announcing the decision not to prosecute. Republicans then had no problems with lawmen investigating a candidate.

In fact, even though that investigation exonerated Clinton, that did not stop Republicans, Trump included, from chanting “Lock her up!” He also said in a debate that she should not even be allowed to run.

Note that while the FBI did publicly reveal its Clinton investigation — and moreover announced reopening it (on dubious grounds) shortly before the election — probably sinking her candidacy — it never revealed, before the election, its also investigating Trump’s campaign, for collusion with Russian election interference (which revelation would have sunk his chances).

Yet that did not stop Republicans claiming improper FBI bias against Trump.

Clinton was investigated (on probable cause) because she was not above the law. Likewise Trump — then, and now. His defenders aren’t actually asserting his innocence — they seem to be saying an FBI raid on his property could never be proper, regardless of any crime he committed. This Mar-a-Lago search had to be approved at the highest levels of Justice Department professionals, the (Trump-appointed) FBI director, and then also by a federal judge. This would not have occurred without ample legitimate cause. Especially since all concerned were surely mindful of the potential repercussions.

How curious that Trumpers idolize law enforcement — except when it’s enforced against them. So much for their “law and order” sloganeering. Some who made such political hay over “Defund the Police” now shout “Defund the FBI!” (And of course their law enforcement infatuation took a time-out when it came to January 6.)

The Mar-a-Lago search apparently concerned theft of White House documents, rather than Trump’s far graver crime of conspiracy to overthrow the government. Incontrovertible evidence for which has been revealed by the January 6 Committee’s investigation. How curious that Trumpers who otherwise never met a conspiracy theory they didn’t love shut their eyes to his lollapalooza conspiracy staring us in the face.

The Bong Bong Problem

July 15, 2022

Ferdinand Marcos, elected president of the Philippines in 1965, became a vicious kleptocratic dictator ruling by violence and torture. Overthrown in 1986.

Now his son, Ferdinand Junior, known as “Bong Bong,” has been elected president. His infamous 92-year-old mother Imelda Marcos (she of the great shoe collection) preened at the inauguration.

It was a two-to-one landslide over the runner-up (seemingly a good sober candidate). I don’t know if Bong Bong is a chip off the old block, but the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, and the auguries aren’t encouraging. It’s not that Philippine voters have forgotten the Marcos nightmare. They actually seem to have romanticized the memory into some halcyon dreamscape (according to polls reported in The Economist).

Bong Bong succeeds Rodrigo Duterte, another charming character (not) whose signature policy was combating drugs by murdering anyone accused of involvement. Many thousands — many of them innocent — were killed. Duterte’s daughter has just been elected vice president. Oh, and Duterte also warred against press freedom, a lead Bong Bong seems to be following.

Why do people vote for such creeps?

Like Boris Johnson, who’s finally been forced out as Britain’s prime minister (blaming everyone but himself), after much of his government quit, no longer able to stomach his parade of misdeeds and lies. Johnson was a thoroughly irresponsible chancer from the get-go; his leadership the degradation of a once-proud nation. At least the denouement shows Britain’s Conservative Party still puts some value on truth over lies. (Whereas our Republicans have put a huge lie at their core.)

Johnson’s signature policy was Brexit — Britain exiting the European Union — via a 2016 referendum. His campaigning for it vaulted him to power. A big problem ensued. Brexit portended a hard customs border between Ireland (in the EU) and Northern Ireland. Johnson swore he wouldn’t permit that — until he did, agreeing a deal putting the customs border in the Irish Sea. Hardly a solution, which he then sought to violate anyway.

The Brexit referendum itself was a stupendously boneheaded voter blunder, obvious at the time. A mindless anti-establishment lashing out, against the EU and EU-loving elites. Also venting hostility toward immigration.* It’s become increasingly clear how much Brexit impoverishes Britain — especially those lower socioeconomic echelons who voted for it.

And so it goes.

Yeats wrote the epigraph for our times — “the center cannot hold . . . the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.” In France’s recent parliamentary election, President Macron’s responsible, reasonable, centrist party lost to the extremes — LePen’s populists with a witch’s brew of Brexit-like policies, and an alliance headed by Mélenchon, always called a “left-wing firebrand.” Firebrands start fires.

Colombia has elected a leftist radical president over a right-wing asshole, after sensible moderate candidates were eliminated in the first round. An all too familiar story, lately seen too in Peru, then Chile.

And how many countries get suckered into electing “strongmen” whose chief strength is crushing democracy? Ortega; Maduro; Erdogan; Putin; Lukashenko; Orban; Modi; Sisi; Bukele. Brazil’s Bolsonaro will try to pull a Trump when he loses this year’s election. Mexico’s Lopez Obrador is not too authoritarian, mainly just a feckless jerk, whom his people love as though sainted. Sri Lanka did see off the Rajapaksas, only to bring them back; plunging the country into total chaos and upchucking them again. Even in Italy the center seems to have collapsed.

The late 20th century saw a great expansion of democracy. Since then a great rollback. Dictators have upped their game, but in large part it’s voters collaborating.

Humans evolved to thrive in social groups, instilling us with good detection instincts for liars and creeps. But somehow those instincts often fail when it comes to politics. As in America, in 2016. We did manage to reverse that act of political insanity — temporarily at least. Now we’re learning more about Trump’s despicable coup attempt, to overthrow our democracy based on a giant lie, all of which his party whitewashes and defends. You’d think that would destroy its legitimacy. But no, it’s poised to win control of Congress in November’s elections!

And so it goes. Voters — you gotta love ’em.

* Somewhat ironically, Britain’s front rank politicians now include the names Rishi Sunak, Sajid Javid, Priti Patel, Nadhim Zahawi, Kwasi Kwarteng, and Sadiq Khan.

Was Mike Pence a Hero? Is there hope for America?

June 22, 2022

Now Mike Pence is called a hero — for shrinking back from the greatest crime in U.S. history. He’s credited with saving the country, which in a sense is actually true. Had Trump’s coup plot succeeded, that would have blown up America.

Pence as Vice President presided over Congress’s electoral vote certification. Trump wanted him to just throw out Biden votes. That Pence even considered this was crazy. At least he was sane enough (unlike many in Trump’s circle) to finally refuse. Pence realized it couldn’t be legal for one person to decide the presidency. (He’d also be re-electing himself VP.)*

At 2:24 PM on January 6, after being begged to call off the dogs, Trump instead unleashed a tweet cursing out Pence. Further enflaming the mob already baying “Hang Mike Pence!” It came within forty feet of him.

Aides tried to evacuate Pence from the besieged Capitol, but he insisted on staying to complete the election formalities. For that at least Pence does merit praise.

But if he really had moral courage, he’d denounce Trump for January 6. He still won’t, despite his own near-death experience. Calling the whole thing just a small difference of opinion. Because he still fantasizes a presidential nomination — by the Trump cult party — that would still actually rather see Pence dead than president.

In a rational world, the January 6 committee’s fact-based presentation would be like a Heimlich maneuver upchucking Trump from our body politic. His crimes make Nixon’s Watergate transgressions look like jaywalking in comparison. Republicans ultimately did upchuck Nixon, but are circling the wagons around Trump. The hearings, instead of opening their eyes, further enrage them against the truth tellers. (My own puny efforts will change no minds.) Trump-sucking election deniers are winning GOP primaries. The Texas Republican party has voted not to recognize Biden as president.

In a recent poll, about half of Americans opined that our democracy is in grave peril. Mostly Democrats, I assumed. Wrong! Both parties were evenly split. So only around half of Democrats see the threat. While half of Republicans (swallowing Trump’s lies) imagine it comes from Democrats.

But Republicans don’t believe in democracy anyway. Not if it means losing elections. They’ll stop at nothing to prevent it. They’re now empowering GOP election officials to throw out lawful votes. If Republicans control Congress after 2024, they’ll do that. And if all else fails, there will be a repeat of January 6 — with more guns.

Prosecuting Trump for his coup attempt apparently hinges on intent — whether he knew his election fraud claims were lies, or actually believed them. Maybe a dicey point when it comes to a mentality so sick. Perhaps his defective mind did convince itself — and he should plead “not guilty by reason of insanity.”

The Justice Department understands that prosecuting Trump would pour gasoline on what’s already our political conflagration. And could backfire if he gets off. Those are grave considerations. But his return to power would be worse. If prosecution might forestall that, let it be our gotterdammerung.

Yet it’s doubtful America’s democracy can still be saved. The necessary sense of national togetherness among citizens has been shredded. Likewise our democratic ideals, when the country just yawns at Trump’s shocking assault upon them.

Perhaps there’s this slim hope: that his death might lance the boil and open a restorative path.

* If the VP had that power, Al Gore would have liked to know it when he presided over the count for the 2000 election — decided by 537 genuinely disputed votes in just one state. Trump’s idea of Pence messing with the electoral vote was cooked up by law professor John Eastman, and even he apparently realized it was illegal. The plot also included sending fake electoral vote certificates to Congress — talk about ballot fraud!

The Hearings: January 6, Trump, The Big Lie, and Democracy in Peril

June 14, 2022

Trump concocted his big “stolen election” lie because his sick psyche couldn’t face losing — and to help him overthrow democracy and retain office by coup.

Any sensible person already knew that, but the January 6 Congressional committee’s hearings, says The Economist, are the most important in U.S. history. The scandal bigger than any before. And the hearings are filling in compelling details. Trump’s own hitherto toady Attorney General Barr testified that he told Trump his vote fraud claims were “complete nonsense . . . idiotic . . . silly . . . crazy stuff . . . bullshit.”* Yet the evidence shows how Trump nevertheless worked a host of illegitimate schemes to undo his election loss, conniving at the Capitol violence as his last-ditch ploy. Gleefully watching it unfold, refusing to act to stop it, even endorsing the insurrectionists’ cry, “Hang Mike Pence!” Failing only by a hairsbreadth.

Who could ever have imagined so criminal a U.S. president? So why hasn’t he been indicted? The Department of Justice seems to be proceeding very carefully, striving to avoid any appearance of a partisan witch-hunt (though Republicans will scream that anyway). Even in normal circumstances the DOJ wants to be pretty sure an indictment will result in conviction. These are far from normal circumstances. The last thing we need is Trump indicted and then acquitted. Plus, even a conviction would provoke endless appeals, and the politically tainted Supreme Court majority might find some pretext to exonerate Trump. Maybe better to leave the case to the court of public opinion. Despite its questionable wisdom.

For a moment after January 6, it seemed GOP officialdom was washing its hands of Trump for what he’d wrought. But they quickly turned tail upon realizing the cult of Trump voters was unshaken. So Republicans refused to support a congressional investigation, they denounce it as a partisan sham, and even obstruct its work by defying subpoenas. The committee’s two Republican members, Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, are lonely heroes, being purged from a party now making itself totally complicit in the attempt to overthrow American democracy.

You’d think this would destroy its credibility and bona fides forever among most voters. How could any serious civic-minded person, believing in America’s founding democratic values and ideals, continue to support such a party?

I’d long warned that our democracy was not ordained by God forever, and could not endure without a citizenry steeped in those values. Now we’re seeing what little presence those values still have in our political landscape. A president’s attempt to overthrow democracy is shrugged off. Candidates embracing him and his big lie suffer no electoral penalty. We’re told voters care more about issues like inflation, crime, gas prices. And that Democrats will fail if they stress January 6 in their midterm election campaign.

It’s tempting to say, I give up. Like I’m howling at the moon.

Meantime, columnist David Brooks has a different take on the congressional hearings. Again, all honest people already know the truth about January 6 and Trump’s ghastly malfeasance. But what really needs investigation and exposure — ringing a five alarm fire bell — is the ongoing Republican effort to make sure they “win” future elections — regardless of votes. All under the dishonest guise of “protecting election integrity” while actually blowing it up.

This will culminate in January 2025 with a GOP-controlled Congress making Trump president, setting aside if necessary the actual election results.

Voting Republican now is insane.

* Barr also denounced as rubbish the feature film Two Thousand Mules, pushing false vote fraud claims and garnering huge audiences in Trump country.

Biden should not run again

May 27, 2022

I supported Biden from the start in 2020, strongly, as the candidate best positioned to save the country. I think events bore out that judgment, and I don’t regret it for a minute. President Biden is a decent, honest, conscientious public servant. The antithesis of his monstrous predecessor.

America will need saving again in 2024, but this time Biden is not the right candidate.

First, forget the disgraceful nonsense impugning his mental capacity. He is demonstrably sound of mind (again in stark contrast to Trump’s cesspool of vicious psychological pathologies). Biden is generally low-key and mild-mannered — a blessing in these febrile times.

However, many voters have a natural human attraction for what they perceive as “strength” in a political leader. This has actually proven to be a huge problem for democracy, but it’s a reality, and Biden’s image doesn’t play to it.

He will be 81 in 2024. Well, “Blind Old Dandolo” led the Venetian conquest of Constantinople at 95. But here again many voters see Biden’s age as signaling weakness. Trump, note, will himself be 78, probably in worse health (physical as well as mental); yet all his negatives his cultists disregard.

Meantime negativity about Biden’s performance has taken hold. The Afghanistan debacle was a totally unnecessary self-inflicted wound, that I think was where a lot of people lost confidence in Biden. He’s taken a beating too over inflation. But a recent NY Times analysis sees the real problem as Covid fatigue, with Biden faulted as having over-promised. Yet to prefer Trump over Biden on that score makes no sense, when America’s continuing problem, and unduly excessive death rate, are rooted in Trump’s idiotic misfeasance. Biden, dealt a bad hand, did much to put things right. And to the extent he hasn’t been fully successful, that’s largely down to so many Republicans, blinded by partisanship, foolishly refusing vaccination.

Nevertheless — looking at this whole political landscape — I regretfully conclude that Biden is not the Democrats’ ideal 2024 candidate. I think he should bow out.

Kamala Harris? I don’t believe Hillary Clinton lost just because she was female — though on balance it didn’t help. But a nominee both female and nonwhite might be pushing the cultural envelope too much, unless she were otherwise a terrific candidate (as Obama was). However, so far, Harris has not made a very positive impression.

My choice? Pete Buttigieg. Yes, he’d push the cultural envelope too, but less far I think, and anyone holding gayness against him would not likely vote Democrat anyway. And Buttigieg would be a terrific candidate. In 2020, I was extremely impressed at how assuredly and eloquently he expressed himself, radiating good sense. The contrast between his strong (that word again) youthful goodness and Trump’s monstrousness would be compelling. And Trump can be counted on to utter something utterly vile about Buttigieg’s private life. Bring it on.

I believe Buttigieg would win the November election. Whether a Republican-controlled Congress would let him take office in January is another matter.

NY High Court Ruling May Doom America

May 1, 2022

The backstory: In 2014 Governor Andrew Cuomo pushed through a constitutional amendment supposedly ending gerrymandering. This involves legislative district maps, with one party packing the other’s voters into a few districts — so they lose everywhere else. Cuomo’s reform was a sham. Ostensibly establishing an independent redistricting commission, but engineered to fail and thus throw the process back to the legislature. Which then drew maps giving Republicans only four congressional districts.

The state’s highest court has now ruled this unconstitutional, appointing a “special master” to replace those maps with (presumably) non-partisan ones.

Ordinarily, I’d have applauded. But Republican-controlled states are heavily gerrymandered, while some others (notably California) have non-partisan systems. Giving Republicans, nationally, a big advantage. New York’s gerrymander would have offset that somewhat. But the court ruling should now give Republicans several more seats. Quite conceivably, in a close contest, tipping control of the House of Representatives.

Republicans also gain from voter negativity toward President Biden and Democrats, over issues like inflation, immigration, crime, etc. This might seen understandable, under political normalcy. But we don’t have that. Now there’s one giant issue that should trump all others:

How can Republicans be trusted on ANYTHING?

They’re a cult worshipping a very bad man who literally attempted to overthrow our democracy, instigating a violent insurrection attacking the Capitol. Based on a stupendous lie, that the 2020 presidential election was stolen. Created because Trump’s diseased psyche couldn’t face losing. Any fool knows that.

But it’s not just that Republicans swallow this lie. They’ve actually made it central to the party’s whole ethos. In Georgia’s gubernatorial primary debate, one candidate (Dave Purdue) literally led off by declaring the 2020 vote fraudulent. Both then argued over who is the truest believer. (Probably neither; most Republican politicians know it’s a lie, but they cynically exploit it.)

The lie corrodes trust in the integrity of elections, a key underpinning of a democratic system. Moreover, Republicans are acting on the lie to mess with voting procedures going forward. While also striving to whitewash January 6 and obstruct the investigation of it. And if they control Congress after the next presidential election, they will throw out its results if necessary to put Trump back in office.

That’s no fevered fantasy. Nothing would restrain them from such a brazen deed, if they have the votes. Remember how they stole a Supreme Court seat. Stealing the presidency would kill American democracy.

How can voters shrug off the unprecedented threat of today’s deranged Republican party, while in contrast viewing Democrats with unforgiving harshness?

Recently the NY Times reported on a conversation shortly after January 6, wherein House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy held Trump culpable for it, said he’s “done” with Trump, and would call for his resignation. But as with other Republicans, McCarthy’s moment of clarity quickly passed, and he pilgrimaged to Mar-a-Lago to kiss his master’s ring. And when the Times story broke, McCarthy roundly denied having said what was reported.

Then the newspaper released the audio, proving McCarthy’s denial an outright lie.

Once upon a time this would have ended a politician’s career. And McCarthy was doubly in trouble because of his lèse-majesté. Yet Trump magnanimously forgave him. (Groveling by toadies feeds his voracious ego; McCarthy’s earlier betrayal made his recanting especially delicious to Trump.) Then McCarthy went before his GOP colleagues — and wound up with a standing ovation!

“It’s debasing for Republicans to give this guy a standing ovation,” said one GOP Congressman on Fox News. So at least one retains some integrity? No, it was Florida’s walking cesspool Matt Gaetz — unwilling to forgive McCarthy’s prior momentary apostasy.*

Talk about “debasing.” Matt Gaetz, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Jim Jordan, Lauren Boebert, Louie Gohmert, Madison Cawthorn, Paul Gosar, Elise Stefanik, and McCarthy himself, are the leading face of today’s Congressional Republican party. All dishonest and irresponsible to the core. The worst of the worst.

This is the creep squad American voters seem blithely likely to hand control of Congress. McCarthy will be speaker. What a disgrace; totally insane. I’ll weep for my country, fallen so low.

*Liz Cheney is the lone remaining honorable Republican seeking re-election. The party is intent on her destruction.

THE RATIONAL PESSIMIST

March 5, 2022

My blog, “The Rational Optimist,” was started in 2008 while writing my book The Case for Rational Optimism. That now seems long ago, in far-away galaxy.

I have argued that a species capable of living in the Sahara and the Arctic could cope with climate change. But also that while we must do everything reasonably possible to curb greenhouse gas emissions, even reducing them to zero (impossible) would not stop temperatures rising. So we must also work on defensive preparations, and ways to cool the planet. Yet climate warriors seem to wage an anti-industrial jihad, fixated solely on emission reduction. Even there, nuclear power should play a big role; but many oppose that too. And the recent global climate conference, COP26, was pretty much a cop-out.

So our climate action is too little, too late, and global warming looms faster and more severe and harmful than once thought. Humanity may still be resourceful enough to cope, though at great cost. Yet there’s danger of a tipping point to runaway warming that feeds on itself. Earth’s climate has always naturally cycled through warmer and colder periods, but that could be thrown off-kilter by human activity, a significant new factor.

Venus shows what a runaway greenhouse effect can do. Reaching a permanently toasty temperature — high enough to melt metal. Something no life can survive.

Recently I listened to a 2017 public debate, by serious scholars, on “Is democracy committing suicide?” Suicide may not be quite the right word, but the proposition was that democracy does have characteristics dooming it. Those so arguing had much scary fodder to invoke. The other side said things like Brexit and Trump’s election actually show democracy working. Considering it, at least in advanced countries like America, deeply resilient, its institutions strong enough to withstand challenges.

Note was made of Trump’s ominous 2016 refusal to say he’d accept the election outcome. What if, one debater queried, in 2020 he loses but calls on his supporters to reject that result? Well, it happened. Our democracy survived — but just by the skin of its teeth.

Numerous examples tell us a democracy is just one dumb vote away from autocracy. In America it might take two. A recent poll showed Trump defeating Biden.

Our species’ entire progress, from its beginnings, has been achieved through reason. We are very smart, but not smart enough to avoid many pitfalls of irrationality. Rejecting reality is the essence of irrationality. And that’s Trumpism, rejecting the reality of the 2020 election; of his rotten character; of his party whitewashing January 6. The reality of making America not great again, but shredding what makes it great. Yet some voters are turning against Democrats because of . . . mask mandates. Returning Trump to power would slap rationality in the face.

Democracy was so ascendant in the late 20th Century because it fulfills a basic human thirst for recognition of one’s individual dignity and value, as Francis Fukuyama argued in The End of History. And its debate defenders were right that people won’t knowingly give it up — though actually polls show increasing numbers saying democracy is not that important, and they’d be fine with military rule.

Too many fall for the idea of a strongman, to fix everything. (Strongmen never do, one debater observed; instead they find scapegoats.)

And they never come in saying, “No more democracy.” Indeed, democracy has become so entrenched as a fundamental human value that even the worst regimes pretend to honor it. The world’s autocrats, after being caught flat-footed for a time by democracy’s rise, eventually perfected techniques for manipulating it — giving it the death of a thousand cuts — and then to prevent its resurrection. Thus Venezuela’s regime is impregnable despite crashing GDP by 75%; Russians cannot get rid of Putin even as he drives them to catastrophe.

The paragon is China — it too insists it’s “democratic” — taking the surveillance state to heights beyond Orwellian, making life impossible for anyone not the regime’s obedient toady. The picture of the world’s 1984 future?

Even before 2016, I kept saying America’s democracy is not ordained by God, and could not be forever sustained without a citizenry deeply internalizing its values, understanding what it’s all about. Which was already crumbling. Democracy is not just a matter of elections; more importantly it’s a culture. Of which a key aspect is pluralism — accepting people unlike you having a legitimate role, even having power. That ethos is stomped down in today’s America.

The debate questioned whether democracy is its own worst enemy, allowing people to make bad choices. But an enemy at least as dangerous is guns. However strong people’s democratic feelings may be, guns can be stronger, especially when wielded by regimes without scruples. Look at Myanmar’s army, at war with the entire populace. Too many countries have militaries that are good for nothing — nothing — except using force upon their own populations, to entrench their power and privileges. Guns and democracy don’t mix. That’s why America’s ever growing gun infatuation bodes ill.

An important basis for my 2008 optimism was the post-WWII rules-based world order, evolving into the post-cold war Pax Americana. While guns did continue wreaking havoc within countries, at least major advanced nations were no longer using them against each other. That has now changed. Russia’s monstrous crime against Ukraine is another assault on human rationality. And a huge test, whose outcome will be enormously consequential. If Russia, however bloodied, is seen to ultimately prevail, subjugating Ukraine, we’ll be living in a different and uglier world. While if Russia is bloodied and thwarted, the lesson will be salutary. So much hangs on Ukrainians’ strength and courage.

For the moment at least, those inspiring Ukrainians, and a stronger global response than expected, are antidotes to pessimism. On the other hand, it’s always depressing how many dupes will dance to a tune like Putin’s.

And it’s another weakness of democracy that a lot of people “don’t care about politics.” Thus being oblivious when the thousand cuts begin. Disengagement from politics — not having to worry about it — is actually a luxury of living in a stable democracy, under rule of law, cosseting people (as it should). Inhabitants of Myanmar don’t have that luxury.

Yet broadly speaking, it’s true that politics is not everything. Science, technology, and commerce should continue improving quality of life. And America and its people (even most Trumpers) have many great virtues of which democracy is only one. Without it maybe the rest can endure. Even under a Trump dictatorship, most of ordinary daily life might go merrily along. At least half a loaf. I’ve promised my wife we won’t move to Canada unless truly necessary.

The “yes” side won that debate. I once dreamed of living to see a news headline about the ouster of “The World’s Last Dictator.” Now I wonder if it will be the end of “The World’s Last Democracy.”