Monday, November 27, 2023

The Crazy is in Plain Sight

This story came out several weeks ago and I apologize for not working it in sooner, but I can’t let it pass without at least saying something

I would believe this if it were a survey of Fortune 500 CEOs, but “most Americans?” Seriously? I’d love to know what it is they think TFG did to make their finances better. Maybe it’s all the hype that Fox “News” puts on the TFG Tax Cuts so they think it applies to the general public. Nothing could be further from the truth. The big Tax Cut Lollapalooza of 2017 went almost exclusively to the richest 1% and was made permanent. The remaining scraps went to the rest of us and were designed to sunset after 7 years.

And while Republicans are losing their mind about the deficit, it was this tax cut package that made it explode. But rather than fix the deficit by repealing the Fat Cat Tax Cuts, they want to cut social services and our “entitlements,” meaning Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. How is it that “most Americans don’t understand these facts?

TFG also rolled out a giant tariff program, because he didn’t understand that the manufacturing country doesn’t pay these extra fees, they roll it down to the consumers, meaning US.

Maybe people are nostalgic for the days when gas was under $2.00 a gallon. They remember that but forget that the reason for the low price was that no one was driving, for fear of catching The Rona, the fight against which was criminally botched by TFG’s administration. No demand equals low prices. Was it really worth over a million American lives just to get cheap gas for a couple months?

At every turn, Republicans demonstrate that they don’t give a flying fig about the average citizen’s finances. If they did, they would do something about it. Democrats would join them, hand in hand. But that’s not what they care about.

And then, the part about how TFG and the Republicans would keep America out of wars? Just because they want to pretend the world ends at our border doesn’t mean they don’t want to keep the Defense Department and all the Defense Contractors flush with money. Just ask Tom Cotton, who wants to start deploying our personnel into Gaza.

No, there will always be a war, or some other “police action,” to keep the Defense money flowing. And I don’t mean to the enlisted personnel. We KNOW TFG doesn’t give a shit about them… He said they were “suckers and losers” for joining the military. He doesn’t care if they’re underpaid. But they sure want the biggest and best bombs money can buy.

It’s a testament to Right Wing messaging that TFG is even a factor in the next presidential race. Fox “News,” and the rest of the Echo Chamber ignore any and all gaffes, mistakes, and complete fuckups, and alibi out any that make it through to their fan club’s ears. Even with the glowing economic numbers being released over the last months, they have people thinking we’re in a recession and blame it on Biden. It doesn’t matter if it’s complete bullshit, people want to believe it because it plays to their biases. Like the bias that TFG is a sane, rational, being, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

(Trump gaffes)

This is right out of the GOP playbook, from Bush to Palin to TFG. Even when you’re wrong, claim to be right. If there’s proof, dismiss it as biased. Claim to be the victim of a media conspiracy. Do anything but admit you messed up. It would be funny if it wasn’t so alarming. Oh, and be sure to seek retribution against anyone who tries to hold you accountable.

And this isn’t a matter of letting all the pressure of this prosecution get the better of a public servant, it’s the re-elected president directing the Justice Department to round up his enemies and put them in psych wards. Hang the charges, hang the trial, then hang the accused. Jail them first, justify it later. (You know, in “two weeks,” when the long-awaited Republican health care program is going to roll out. No matter the date, it’s always two weeks away.)

How is it that Americans aren’t seeing these issues? Yes, I know, everyone is busy. But one should never be too busy to know what’s going on in one’s own country, even if it’s just for selfish reasons. After living through the clown show that was 2017-2020, how can anyone think we need to do that again, only with even less competence and more vengeance?

I don’t care if Biden’s old; he’s not evil. He’s not a crook. He’s not a psychopathic narcissist who will kill democracy to save his own ass.

And speaking of evil, thank goodness we have Mike Johnson to lead the charge against evil*.

*In the narrow way he defines it.

This is a guy whose public statements call for imprisoning doctors who perform abortions, eliminating hate crime laws, criminalizing gay sex, and giving up the right to privacy. (Except for political donors, of course. That’s nobody’s business.) Basically, the guy is a religious nightmare bent on making his own brand of fanaticism the law of the land. And the Republicans just put him second in line to the presidency.

And speaking of wingnuts, MT Greene is still out there fighting for relevance.

Now she wants to investigate the January 6th investigators. I presume that’s because Fox “News” and the whole Right Wing propaganda apparatus can’t hype Hunter Biden’s Laptop into the crime of the century.

I watched most of the 1/6 hearings; I don’t understand what it is she thinks she can allege. I mean, they have tons of witnesses and reams of evidence. And this is coming from one of the ringleaders of the other GOP “investigations,” that have delivered one nothing-burger after another in.

I presume it’s just more performance theater with an audience of one.

Can’t we get Harlan Crowe, or one of the other Supreme Court “special friends” to ship her off on a cruise somewhere, just to get her out of town and minimize the embarrassment? The chipmunks driving the tiny wheels in her brain have to be due for a break.

In fact, the whole thing makes me want to “run away.”

(Let's hear it for this awesome Photoshop. Great job! Once I saw it, I had to find a way to use it.)

Monday, November 20, 2023

The Message Matters

One of the things Democrats will have to improve on, to win the 2024 elections, is their messaging. Even though many statistics are favorable, there remains a general impression of economic and social disaster everywhere we turn. A lot of that is because Conservative messaging is so pervasive, overwhelming, and ultimately effective. As we’ve learned over the last decade, the more a lie is repeated, the more it’s taken as fact.

Here’s an example of the kind of under-the-radar messaging that we see and seem to accept, even though if you scratch the surface at all, it falls apart.

My beef with this cartoon is that the big red arrows are a mirage, all of which would certainly be worse if Republicans were fully in charge. Let’s look:

US Debt: The deficit has come steadily down under President Biden. And it could come down a lot more if there was even a smattering of Republican support for repealing TFG’s tax cut for the rich, which not coincidentally, was the biggest contributor to the deficit in the first place.

Republicans love to rail about the deficit when they’re not in charge, using the opportunity to cut programs that don’t benefit them or their wealthy benefactors, but only make up a minute portion of the debt. Then as soon as they’re back in control it’s like, “What deficit? Let’s cut taxes!” Each time, they claim the tax cuts will pay for themselves via economic boom, but it never, ever, happens. The big companies don’t use the money to hire more or pay more, they just pocket it or use it for stock buybacks, which greatly benefit the stockholders (which usually includes their own board members with the most stock in hand.) Republicans do not care about US debt other than as a way to chisel out more Federal money for themselves.

Inflation: The US has the lowest post-COVID inflation rates among similarly developed countries. It came in hard with COVID but has been lowering ever since. The reason people are not feeling it at the store is because of corporate price gouging, not inflation. If inflation was truly the reason for high consumer prices, the big suppliers and retailers wouldn’t be posting record profits. They are keeping prices artificially high and blaming it on inflation or “supply chain” issues, that they know people don’t fully understand.

Putting it plainly, suppliers are setting prices far higher than it would take to account for any hikes in supply prices. They do that because they want to. And if you’re prone to conspiracy thinking, you could say that they’re keeping their prices high because they know that President Biden is taking the heat for it. Big business generally supports Republicans, who they know are eager to keep regulations low and enable all efforts to maximize profits, regardless of any possible harm to US citizens and the environment.

Crime: This is always the big Go-To for law and order Republicans… big city crime! New York! Chicago! All cesspools of rape, robbery, and murder. Except when you look at the real statistics that show much higher crime rates in the Red States. More gun deaths, more homicides, more poverty, all courtesy of Republican leadership and policies.

The siren call about crime is really just racism. They want to appear “Tough on Crime” so they appoint police chiefs who will install policies like “Stop and Frisk,” which means police are urged to question and detain basically anyone they want, to see if there’s something for which they can arrest them. Basically, it’s a blank check to go out and pick up all the black and brown men, bring them to jail, and store them there until the DA eventually lets them back out.

Republicans: always tough on crime, unless it’s white-collar crime. Then, it’s just the cost of doing business. What’s a few hundred thousand between fellow MBAs? But everyone else is guilty until proven innocent.

Homeless: I don’t really know of any recent stats or reporting on homelessness, although we all know that home ownership is becoming increasingly hard to obtain, and rent is skyrocketing. But I’ll ask you this: What have Republicans ever proposed to address homelessness?

I’ll tell you, nothing. Their best idea to combat homelessness is to put more people in jail. (See item above.) Republicans want the homeless not to be seen in places Republicans go. They’ll move them around or shut down encampments, but a real solution? The next one will be the first one.

Border Crisis: I’ll agree that the border is a mess. There needs to be a coherent national policy on immigration. The snag is that the Republican philosophy on immigration is for there not to be any immigration (from the South. Members of the Swedish Bikini Team, as well as Eastern European mail-order brides, are always welcome.) So it’s no wonder they reject anything Democrats put on the table to bring order to the chaos. Plus, it’s a winner of a campaign issue with their MAGA base.

So they make up a bunch of shit about terrorists pouring over the border, which no one can corroborate, or that they’re smuggling Fentanyl into the country, while most of the supply is coming from US citizens making round trips. But like with abortion, they'd rather use it to campaign than solve it, because it’s an effective way to terrorize Middle America into voting for the party that promises to keep the invading brown people from overwhelming their towns, drugging their kids, and raping their women.

So yes, once you realize that these scary red arrows are just big Red Herrings, the Dems should definitely address why Biden’s support is so scarce. Our Constitution literally depends on it.

Monday, November 13, 2023

Listen Up, Vermin

All it takes is one little thing to go wrong for Republicans to show their true colors. The reproductive rights amendment passing in Ohio was one of those things because we can see the GOP talking heads revealing more about their intentions than they’d normally like.

First, we have a Republican who apparently wants to repeal the entire democratic process:

I can’t believe anyone listens to this guy in the first place. Didn’t he get laughed out of politics already? But yes, the 2000’s Poster Boy for Religious Prigishness said “Thank goodness that most of the states in this country don’t allow you to put everything on the ballot because pure democracies are not the way to run a country.

I guarantee he would have the opposite answer if the Ohio referendum was rejected. This is all about the man’s internal feeling of superiority regarding himself and his ethnic/religious group. (White, male, religious conservatives.) What he's really saying is that "the people" aren't fit to determine the rule by which they live, they need people like him and his conspirators to decide for them. How noxious is that?

He also took the time to shit on young Ohioans:

You put very sexy things like abortion and marijuana on the ballot, and a lot of young people come out and vote. It was a secret sauce for disaster in Ohio.

Right. To him, voting is supposed to be like cutting the grass. It’s not supposed to be fun or engaging, just something that grownups have to do. Heaven forbid that young people voice their opinion on something that 100% affects their lives. Much better for them to pipe down, listen to their church officials, and get back to flipping those burgers. Never mind that in some states, getting caught with a trivial amount of pot can ruin your life.

This is a disaster for Republicans because it’s one more banner headline shouting that most people don’t agree with them on these positions. In a logical society, that would cause one to question one’s efforts to enact restrictions that are abhorrent to the majority of the state or nation. But not Republicans. They go straight to “How can we enforce our views on this anyway?”

They want to keep bringing the issue up for referendum. To them, it’s just a matter of how they word it, or how they advertise it, not that their central point is objectionable. The referendum passed 56.6% to 43.4%. That’s not even close.

They tried to make the passing threshold higher last August, but that failed as well because people saw that for what it was: an end-around by Republicans to circumvent the democratic process.

Maybe if they can just use the right field-tested phrases, they think, or maybe do something about mail-in voting. Then their standard voter suppression tactics might have more of an effect. Why go to all the trouble to demand certain IDs, close the places that issue them to your opponents, and reduce the number of voting machines so the lines are staggeringly long if people can just mail in their ballots? What’s a ratfucker to do?

Back at Bullshit Central, I mean, Fox "News," Sean Hannity had thoughts:

The preposterousness of this is killing me. Dude, Democrats don’t have to scare people about their abortion rights being taken away; the Republicans are doing a damned fine job of it themselves! All we have to do is look at what’s happening in Texas, Indiana, Florida, and other places where the right-wing inmates are running the asylum.

And look at the very things Republicans are saying… they’re telling us that they want to introduce a national abortion ban. Granted, other Republicans are telling them to STFU, but that’s because they know how badly the country will react to that. Not that it means they won’t do it, just that they want to do it AFTER they amass all the power and have the ability to jerry-rig future elections.

All Democrats have to do to be scared of losing reproductive rights is listen to what Republicans are saying and watch what they’re doing. The conclusion is inescapable.

They do not care what the majority of the country wants. They. Do. Not. Care. We are just blunt instruments to them, peons they need to keep the wheels turning on the economy. Cogs in the machine to keep their cars and yachts running. Grunts to do the heavy lifting of sending dollars to the 1%. What we want is immaterial.

The air of superiority wafts through their pores, where they only hear the voices of their own kind. They do not listen to any other “kind.”

TFG was talking about that this weekend, referring to anyone who didn’t agree with him as “vermin.” He wants to “exterminate the vermin.”

You don’t need me to point out how very Third Reich that is. At this point, they’re leaning into the fascism. TFG has been talking all along about how he’s going to remake government so that it serves HIM, and he can sic the Justice Department and the IRS on anyone who displeases him.

Is that what our veterans fought and died for? So some fat, pampered, schmuck can play King for a Day? Or forever?

In the next election, the very soul of our country is at stake. We have to turn out for the election and win and we have to make it stick. We have to make it painful for those who try to rig the game and overturn the clear-throated voice of the people. And make it crystal clear that the government works for us. All of us, not just the well-connected.

If that doesn’t happen, our mantel of being a free country is doomed. How do I know? Because I’m listening to what Republicans are telling us. It’s the Project 2025 plan. They are literally telling us they’re going to create a government for and by straight, White, Christian/Evangelical, Republicans.

Dissenting voices need not apply.


Monday, November 6, 2023

Back to Business as Usual

Overheard in a Congressional back room (probably): “On behalf of the Right half of the Senate, congratulations on your new job as Speaker of the House. Now pull your head out of your ass and stop with the crazy talk. We know you’ve been an anti-abortion activist all your life and we support you in that. But introducing a national ban is political suicide. More than 60% of the country is against us on that, so we’d much rather use your abortion shit as a campaign issue to keep the Wingnuts… I mean, our evangelical base, revved up. If we actually ban abortion, we’re out on our asses come next November. So by all means, talk the talk about the sanctity of life, but don’t actually DO anything about it or that will jeopardize the sanctity of our jobs. And it will generate headlines like this:”

Like with Southern border security, this is too valuable to them as a campaign issue to lose by taking action. It’s far better for them to use the issue to browbeat the simple minds into submission, with scary talk of invaders, terrorists, and freeloaders bent on taking your jobs. (“The Oxymorons are coming!”) Republicans could have passed a real border security/immigration bill, (as opposed to their “wall” bullshit which was much more effective as a symbol than an actual barrier), but they weren’t interested. They could have done it themselves when they had control of both Houses and the Presidency, or even with the help of Democrats, provided it wasn’t loaded with poison pills. But they passed nothing because they didn’t really care about it. Someone’s gotta pick the lettuce, right? And if Americans do it, even at minimum wage, it’ll cost $35 for a salad. They WANT a cheap labor force available. But they’re not too proud to use the issue to scare people into voting Republican. It’s the same way with abortion. It’s great for moving 30% of the country, but a hot poker in the eye to the other 60%.

We’re only now hearing story after story about the unintended consequences of abortion bans in states like Texas, where the wingnuts are in charge. Whoever these Senators are who spoke to Mike Johnson, they're taking heed.

Meanwhile in the Senate…

Hmm, maybe things are warming up on the subject. People may be getting too close to the truth. What he’s referring to is that Sen. Dick Durbin is sending subpoenas to a couple of these fatcat billionaires (and their pawns) who have been schmoozing with Justices Thomas and Alito, while providing them with lavish vacations and accommodations, transportation, and loans that they never have to repay.

About which McConnell said, “What he’s targeting here is private citizens with no legislative purpose. I think it’s completely and totally inappropriate.

I think Mitch makes more sense when he goes catatonic than he does here. How can it NOT be appropriate to investigate when our highest jurists in the nation appear to be taking in hundreds of thousands in goodies and then issuing rulings that benefit their benefactors?

The “legislative purpose” is the notion that laws get passed and reviewed on their merits, rather than being foregone conclusions that always benefit the rich, because of shady, under-the-table pocket-stuffing.

I think what Mitch finds “inappropriate” is to have to explain to the donors why they are no longer getting returns for their massive bribes… I mean payoffs… I mean donations to dear friends. The last thing they want is some kind of Code of Ethics where they must publicly declare every kickback gift they receive.  And we’re not talking about branded keychains here, not unless they contain the keys to a new yacht. I think he also knows that there are more such arrangements that can go public with a little more investigation, that might lay bare just how corrupt the Red Six really are, and how far up their robes the Big Donor tentacles go.