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Surreal Times

In my heart, I knew — knew with absolute certainty — that the right-wingers eventually would politicize COVID-19. I know these people.

For them, it is perfectly in character to object to physical distancing and wearing face masks because doing so infringes on their rights. And, for good measure, shows personal weakness.

These are, after all, the white MAGA faithful. These are manly men who brandish guns and Confederate flags in public. These are self-righteous women who cough on store clerks.

I’ve been around for a long time. My memories go back 65 or 70 years. I’ve watched in real time as the American political landscape has devolved from policy disagreements to a conservative right that has spazzed out and gone insane.

The political left, mind you, has changed very little over the decades. The liberal views and goals have remained quite consistent and, for the most part, rational and fair-minded. Meanwhile, the right wing has spiraled steadily downward into madness.

When I was young, conservative Republicans were led by honorable men. Dwight Eisenhower. Henry Cabot Lodge.

But over time, the Republicans morphed into caricatures of themselves. Eisenhower and Lodge became Nixon and Reagan.

Now, Nixon and Reagan have been replaced by a sea of cartoonish villains — McConnell, Cotton, Cruz, Hannity, Limbaugh.

And then there is Donald Trump.

To be clear, Trump is neither a Republican nor a conservative. He is a self-serving leech. But the Republicans, in a veritable pact with the devil, choose to stand with him.

As President, Trump is the personification of incompetence. And he has committed enough crimes — treason chief among them — to have been routed from office a dozen times.

Recently, news is out that Russian military intelligence paid bounties to Taliban fighters in Afghanistan to kill American troops. Trump is aware of this, but voices no objection. Now he claims the report is fake news and a hoax.

My first thought about this was of Trump’s sycophantic relationship with Putin. Trump won’t confront Putin about anything because Putin could ruin him. Putin is Comrade Trump’s banker.

My second thought was to marvel once again that Trump is “Teflon Don,” seemingly immune from being held accountable and ejected from office, as anyone else certainly would be.

The Access Hollywood tape came out, and he won election anyway. Illegally withholding military aid to Ukraine did not bring him down. Nor did obstruction of justice. Nor do daily violations of the emoluments clause.

Now Trump looks the other way while Putin offers cash to kill American soldiers. This is treasonous. Malfeasance. Dereliction of duty.

And the Republicans say nothing.

These are surreal times:

Trump’s shockingly awful and inept performance as president. The cowardly behavior of the Republicans. The fools at MAGA rallies, sitting shoulder to shoulder during a pandemic. The selfish jerks who endanger the health of others by refusing to take sensible precautions.

The oblivious crowds in bars and on beaches. The pathetic government response to COVID-19. The continuing spread of the virus in the U.S. while much of the rest of the world recovers.

I am ashamed of my country.

Trump bounty

Trump 1998

 

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Special “I’m Still Offended That This Fool Was Elected President” Edition

Fuhrer

8645

Changing

Mensch

Angel loses

Free Melania

One in three

Fired

Demagogues

Supercallous

Great again

Never trust

 

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Nate White is a British advertising copywriter. Last year, he wrote an article that explains Donald Trump’s personality and character with remarkable accuracy. I missed it at the time, but recently ran across it online.

White’s description of Trump is gloriously spot-on. He makes my own attempts seem inadequate, and God knows I’ve labored mightily to find words that adequately describe one of the worst human beings ever to besmirch the planet.

Here is White’s assessment of the Orange Vulgarian.

———

Why do some British people not like Donald Trump?

A few things spring to mind. Trump lacks certain qualities which the British traditionally esteem. For instance, he has no class, no charm, no coolness, no credibility, no compassion, no wit, no warmth, no wisdom, no subtlety, no sensitivity, no self-awareness, no humility, no honour and no grace – all qualities, funnily enough, with which his predecessor Mr. Obama was generously blessed. So for us, the stark contrast does rather throw Trump’s limitations into embarrassingly sharp relief.

Plus, we like a laugh. And while Trump may be laughable, he has never once said anything wry, witty or even faintly amusing – not once, ever. I don’t say that rhetorically, I mean it quite literally: not once, not ever.

And that fact is particularly disturbing to the British sensibility – for us, to lack humour is almost inhuman. But with Trump, it’s a fact. He doesn’t even seem to understand what a joke is – his idea of a joke is a crass comment, an illiterate insult, a casual act of cruelty.

Trump is a troll. And like all trolls, he is never funny and he never laughs; he only crows or jeers. And scarily, he doesn’t just talk in crude, witless insults – he actually thinks in them. His mind is a simple bot-like algorithm of petty prejudices and knee-jerk nastiness.

There is never any under-layer of irony, complexity, nuance or depth. It’s all surface. Some Americans might see this as refreshingly upfront. Well, we don’t. We see it as having no inner world, no soul.

And in Britain we traditionally side with David, not Goliath. All our heroes are plucky underdogs: Robin Hood, Dick Whittington, Oliver Twist. Trump is neither plucky, nor an underdog. He is the exact opposite of that. He’s not even a spoiled rich-boy, or a greedy fat-cat. He’s more a fat white slug. A Jabba the Hutt of privilege.

And worse, he is that most unforgivable of all things to the British: a bully. That is, except when he is among bullies; then he suddenly transforms into a snivelling sidekick instead. There are unspoken rules to this stuff – the Queensberry rules of basic decency – and he breaks them all.

He punches downwards – which a gentleman should, would, could never do – and every blow he aims is below the belt. He particularly likes to kick the vulnerable or voiceless – and he kicks them when they are down.

So the fact that a significant minority – perhaps a third – of Americans look at what he does, listen to what he says, and then think “Yeah, he seems like my kind of guy” is a matter of some confusion and no little distress to British people, given that:

• Americans are supposed to be nicer than us, and mostly are.

You don’t need a particularly keen eye for detail to spot a few flaws in the man.

This last point is what especially confuses and dismays British people, and many other people too; his faults seem pretty bloody hard to miss. After all, it’s impossible to read a single tweet, or hear him speak a sentence or two, without staring deep into the abyss. He turns being artless into an art form; he is a Picasso of pettiness; a Shakespeare of shit.

His faults are fractal: even his flaws have flaws, and so on ad infinitum. God knows there have always been stupid people in the world, and plenty of nasty people too. But rarely has stupidity been so nasty, or nastiness so stupid.

He makes Nixon look trustworthy and George W look smart. In fact, if Frankenstein decided to make a monster assembled entirely from human flaws – he would make a Trump.

And a remorseful Doctor Frankenstein would clutch out big clumpfuls of hair and scream in anguish: ‘My God… what… have… I… created?’ If being a twat was a TV show, Trump would be the boxed set.

Nate White, Advertising Creative (2006-present)
Drinks coffee. Writes copy.

———

A fat white slug. Assembled entirely from human flaws.

Well said, Mr. White. Well done, sir.

Trump and Elizabeth

 

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Come to Georgia

Despite the threat posed by the illness, which has already infected more than 886,200 people and killed at least 50,360 people around the United States, (Georgia) Gov. Brian Kemp loosened the state’s shutdown, allowing certain close-contact businesses, such as gyms, barbershops, hair and nail salons, tattoo parlors, and spas to reopen. Elective medical procedures can also be resumed.

From Business Insider, April 24, 2020.

———

Friends, are you ready for a satisfying sit-down meal at a restaurant again? Then come to Georgia.

Overdue for a workout at the gym or fitness center? Come to Georgia.

Want to wow your friends again with your bowling skills? Come to Georgia.

Anxious to get that special tat? Come to Georgia.

Planning to get an ear or a nostril pierced? Come to Georgia.

Need a haircut or a beard trim? Roots need a touch-up? Come to Georgia.

Ready for an in-theater movie experience? Come to Georgia.

All set for a relaxing massage? Come to Georgia.

Legs need waxing? Eyelashes need extending? Come to Georgia.

Need your teeth cleaned? Come to Georgia.

Tired of putting off that elective surgery? Come to Georgia.

Got your heart set on attending cosmetology school? Come to Georgia.

Not satisfied by online church services? Ready to slide into the pews again? Come to Georgia.

Friends, if you’re frustrated because the global COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted your life and routine…

If you’re out of sorts because, well, you’re not sure if the virus is really that contagious, really that deadly…

If you’re dying – dying – to return to normal times…

then this is the chance you’ve been waiting for.

You only live once. Roll the dice. Come to Georgia.

Kemp 4-20

Statement by Gov. Brian Kemp on April 1, 2020. Possibly a joke for April Fool’s Day.

 

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Kemp’s Folly

You probably know that Georgia’s bonehead governor, naturally a white conservative Republican, is relaxing the stay-at-home order and allowing a baffling array of businesses – hair salons, tattoo parlors, restaurants – to reopen. Someday, I expect, this act will be known as “Kemp’s Folly.”

Speaking as one of Kemp’s guinea pigs, I have no intention of going inside a restaurant, a massage parlor, or anything else until medical professionals tell me it’s okay.

You may be aware that Governor Kemp was Georgia Secretary of State while running for governor, and in that capacity, he blatantly purged large numbers of Democratic voters from the rolls.

As a result, Kemp beat Democrat Stacey Abrams, but just barely. Although celebrated among Republican politicians for his win, he is widely considered something of a dim bulb.

Kemp is reopening Georgia for several reasons. For one, the on-air clowns in conservative media have been wondering lately if we really need to stay hunkered down so much. Sure, people are dying by the thousands, but, well, the shutdown is really bad for business.

For another thing, Kemp watched as Florida’s bonehead white conservative Republican governor reopened the beaches. The beaches promptly filled up with wall to wall people, probably the MAGA faithful. The bonehead white conservative Republican MAGA faithful.

Further, Kemp probably was influenced by the “spontaneous” wave of protesters, the gun-toting tough guys and the strident middle-aged white women who showed up at several state capitals, railing about freedom and demanding that we mix and mingle again and get haircuts and such.

Add to that President Douchenozzle, cheerleading the bonehead white conservative Republican MAGA protesters with tweets of ‘LIBERATE MICHIGAN” and ‘LIBERATE MINNESOTA” and ‘LIBERATE VIRGINIA.”

This is the same stable genius who tried to pitch a malaria drug as a miracle cure for COVID-19, and who wondered on live television if injections of disinfectant, or maybe somehow shining light inside the body, could kill the virus.

Faced with a global health crisis, with bodies piling up, with no end or relief in sight, you would think the nation’s bonehead white conservative Republicans would put aside petty politics and shut up, so the experts can try to stop the virus and save us.

You would think that, just this one time, under these awful circumstances, facing widespread misery and death, they would engage their brains.

You would be wrong.

The right-wingers are too wacko for that. Most have spiraled so far down into a pit of lunacy that they are hopelessly lost.

They have a way of coming down on the wrong side of virtually every issue. Invariably, they take positions that are ignorant, illogical, and, too often, dangerous to themselves and others.

And they do it with bravado. They are proudly ill-informed. Defiantly ignorant.

It appears they can’t help themselves. It’s simply in their nature as bonehead white conservative Republicans. At least you can count on them to be consistent and predictable.

Sometimes, I think about the rational Republicans out there – people whose brains haven’t shorted out, but who, for their own reasons, stay silent.

In my better moments, I try to understand, relate, sympathize.

But not much, and not for long. They gave us Trump.

Bravado-1

Bravado-2

Bravado-3

 

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And Another Thing

Last month, I posted a tirade about President Douchenozzle and the members of his cabinet in which I described them as a motley assortment of Snidely Whiplash-style villains (Ross, Mnuchin), shameless toadies (Pence, Barr), and outright buffoons (Carson, DeVos).

Although I stand by the post and my characterizations fully, I was remiss in one respect: I stopped short of expressing my contempt for the rest of the equally nefarious right-wingers who burden American society. Namely:

Virtually all Republican elected officials, local, state, and national, who are, in varying degrees, mean-spirited, selfish, cynical, misguided, unbalanced, and/or delusional.

Fox News and the rest of the right-wing spin machine, whose decades of lies and half-truths created the MAGA crowd and today keeps the conservative herd in a perpetual lather.

The low-life, avaricious leaders of the religious right, whose support of a reprobate like Donald Trump proves they are about as religious as cockroaches.

Democrats and liberals are not choirboys, but they are rational and sane. Moreover, they are capable of expressing empathy and compassion. Today’s wacko conservatives are not.

Most progressives believe the resources of government should be used for the common good, which includes helping the poor and disadvantaged. That’s logical. Sensible. Decent.

But, to a conservative, the fact that you’re poor or disadvantaged proves you are a deadbeat, and the country owes you nothing. If you’re a black or brown person, the eyes of the typical right-winger narrow even further.

Today’s conservatives simply are not normal. Empathy and sympathy are not in their nature. Which helps explain why they are so pointedly angry, fearful, and defensive.

Put it this way: only conservative boneheads would claim COVID-19 is a hoax, a conspiracy to bring down Trump, and urge people to attend church in defiance.

Here’s a thought. For every instance of a church service held while such gatherings are forbidden for public health reasons, 90 days in jail for everyone on the church payroll, and a fine of $1,000 for everyone in the pews.

Here’s another thought: bring back retired general Russell Honoré. Assign him to straighten out the supply chain for essential medical equipment. And authorize him to lock up any public official who exempts religious services or other gatherings from public safety restrictions.

Lock ‘em up for the duration, and then some.

There. I feel much better now.

Moron

Moron, douchenozzle.

MAGA

Morons, douchenozzles.

 

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Rogues’ Gallery

The word pandemic comes from the Greek words pan, meaning all, and demos, meaning people. I didn’t want to know that either.

———

So… the world is in the grip of a global pandemic that might be our undoing, and we have to depend on the Trump Administration – a veritable rogues’ gallery of corrupt and incompetent villains to save us.

My first thought when Trump got elected was clear and simple, and I’ve expressed it often on this blog: electing this orange gasbag was a tragic mistake, and it will not end well for us. Nothing has happened yet to change my mind.

For God’s sake, take a look at the bunch in charge.

First, of course, there is Donald Trump, self-styled playboy, former TV show host, and a failed businessman, who, as you know, inherited his wealth, lost millions during the 1980s and 90s, filed for bankruptcy several times, and eventually began taking loans from Russian oligarchs. He is, and long has been, owned by Vladimir Putin.

You can count on Trump to boast, bully, and BS his way through any situation he faces. He lacks the skills, qualifications, or temperament to be President, but there he sits.

Then there is Vice President Mike Pence, former congressman from Indiana and former governor of Indiana, whose lone skill is being a professional conservative politician. He was an early supporter of the Tea Party movement and is a long-time opponent of legal abortions.

Pence believes being gay is either a choice or “learned behavior.” He has emerged as the administration’s ass-kisser-in-chief, one of the most appalling sycophants ever.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, another Republican hardliner, has a 100 percent rating from the National Right to Life Committee and a zero percent rating from Planned Parenthood.

At his confirmation hearing in 2018, when asked if he could avoid being a “yes man” to Trump, Pompeo said he had been Employee of the Month at Baskin Robbins twice (!?). When Trump personally attacked members of the FBI and the State Department, Pompeo said nothing.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is a former hedge fund manager and investment banker best known for aggressively foreclosing on homeowners. After Sears went bankrupt, the company sued Mnuchin for “asset stripping” during his tenure on the board of directors. Mnuchin’s priorities: weaken the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act and cut corporate taxes.

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, another Republican insider, was a senate staffer and later chief of staff at the Heritage Foundation, the conservative think tank. More recently, he was a lobbyist for the defense contractor Raytheon. Yes, Trump’s Secretary of Defense is a former lobbyist for a defense contractor.

An especially egregious member of the Cabinet is Attorney General William Barr, who, when he was AG to Bush No. 1, convinced Bush to pardon six officials who pulled off Ronald Reagan’s Iran-Contra scheme. Look it up. Barr also pushed to increase the national rate of incarceration.

You may recall, too, that Barr lied to us about the Mueller Report and was held in criminal contempt of Congress for ignoring subpoenas. He is a political hack who has no shame about serving as Trump’s personal lawyer instead of Attorney General.

Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt is a former energy industry lobbyist whose clients included Halliburton and the Independent Petroleum Association of America. Yes, the man charged with protecting America’s natural resources is a former lobbyist for the petroleum industry.

Predictably, Bernhardt has defended the reversals of environmental regulations instituted by the Trump Administration. In 2019, he was caught using national park entrance fees in ways Congress specifically had forbidden.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue is another example of the long line of Republican politicians who use their positions to enrich themselves. In 2003, he signed an executive order that prohibited state officials in Georgia from accepting gifts worth more than $25, yet, as governor, he accepted over $25,000 in gifts.

As Governor, he was slapped with ethics complaints 13 times. In 2004, he bought $2 million worth of land near Disney World from a developer he had appointed to Georgia’s economic development board.

Former investment banker and now Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is known as the “King of Bankruptcy.” He was skilled at buying failed companies, stripping them of their remaining assets, and selling off the remnants.

In the 1980s, when Trump’s three Atlantic City casinos faced foreclosure, Ross convinced the bondholders to back off and give Trump more time. In 2018, reports surfaced that his business partners had accused him of stealing $129 million.

Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia, the son of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, was an attorney who specialized in helping large corporations fight federal labor and financial regulations. “Suing the Government? Call Scalia” read a 2012 headline in Bloomberg News.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar is the former president of the drug manufacturer Eli Lilly and a former lobbyist for the pharmaceutical industry. In the 1990s, he spent two years working for Ken Starr on the investigation of the Clintons’ real estate investments (the Whitewater thing).

While at Eli Lilly, Azar tripled the price of insulin. He is an opponent of Obamacare, claiming that the “free market” can best meet the country’s health care needs. Yes, a Big Pharma executive and lobbyist is in charge of Health and Human Services.

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson was a successful and respected neurosurgeon until he spazzed out and turned to Republican politics. He quickly proved himself to be an airhead, ill-informed on most subjects.

Carson is the guy who, in 2017, was caught spending $31,000 on a dining set for his office. In 2019, at a meeting about transgender persons in homeless shelters, Carson warned of “big, hairy men” infiltrating women’s shelters.

Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao is a veteran Republican politician married to Mitch McConnell. Her father is a Chinese shipping magnate, which creates a spectacular conflict of interest that should get her booted from office. Her department has tried regularly to cut funding for shipping companies that compete with the family business.

In 2018, Politico reported that in her first 14 months in office, Chao had 290 hours of “private” appointments; her underlings said the meetings were labeled private for security reasons.

Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette was a top lobbyist for Ford Motor Company and more recently a member of the Louisiana Mineral and Energy Board. Brouillette is a strong believer in the Trump policy of maximizing the use of fossil fuels and rolling back regulations that are bothersome to the oil, coal, and natural gas industries.

The cost of wind power and solar power may be dropping rapidly, but Brouillette, he’s a big fan of fossil fuels. And nuclear power, too.

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is so wrong for the job that the Republican-dominated Senate barely confirmed her. The vote was 51-50, with Mike Pence having to break the tie. DeVos is a rich socialite and a seasoned Republican fund-raiser. She made her name among conservatives by advocating charter schools and vouchers and opposing the traditional system of public schools. So, naturally, Trump made her Secretary of Education.

DeVos is married to the former CEO of Amway. Her brother Eric Prince is the former Navy SEAL who founded Blackwater USA, which is its own sordid story.

Another Republican insider, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie worked on Capital Hill for several Republican senators. Raised in North Carolina, Wilkie is dumb enough to have stated publicly that the Confederate cause was “honorable.” He also said people who opposed slavery during the War of Yankee Aggression were “enemies of liberty.”

Wilkie got in trouble at his confirmation hearing for misleading Senators about “lost cause” speeches he gave to the Sons of Confederate Veterans and similar groups.

The acting Director of Homeland Security, Chad Wolf, has a background of working for Republican senators and lobbying firms. As Chief of Staff to former DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, he was involved in shaping Trump’s repulsive family separation policy.

In February, the State of New York sued the Trump Administration because Wolf is penalizing the state for its “sanctuary” immigration policies.

And don’t forget White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, one of the most rabid conservatives in public life. He is a bomb-throwing tea-partier and a member of the Freedom Caucus. When Hurricane Sandy whacked the eastern seaboard in 2012, he voted against the disaster relief package. He strongly supported the government shutdown of 2013 as a way to get rid of Obamacare.

For years, Meadows’ official biography claimed he held a Bachelor of Arts degree. After that was revealed to be untrue, he changed his bio to read Associate of Arts. Meadows was fined $40,000 by the House Ethics Committee for failing to address sexual harassment allegations in his office.

———

I repeat: the world is in the grip of a global pandemic that might be our undoing, and we have to depend on the Trump Administration – a veritable rogues’ gallery of corrupt and incompetent villains – to save us.

Maybe these are, indeed, the end times.

As I write this, I can hear one of the daily Coronavirus Task Force briefings in progress on the TV set in my living room. Later, I will check CNN or MSNBC to learn what happened and find out what falsehoods Trump spread today.

At the moment, I can vaguely hear Trump’s voice. I assume he is BSing and pontificating about something, careening from thought to thought.

Perhaps he is berating a reporter, or maybe taking a shot at Obama for something. Winging it as usual, stream of consciousness style.

This moron is the President. God help us.

Trump et al

 

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The Water’s Edge

Over the last few decades, as American politics has devolved from guarded civility into madness, one of the casualties has been the demise of our long-standing agreement that “politics stops at the water’s edge.”

That phrase was coined in 1948 by Sen. Arthur Vandenberg (R-MI), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. In the critical years after World War II, Vandenberg believed that the country was best served if President Truman‘s foreign policy had bipartisan support.

Vandenberg was correct that a united front is best for the country. Further, he was smart enough to urge the U.S. to negotiate a western alliance apart from the United Nations, where the USSR could veto things. That alliance turned out to be NATO.

Vandenberg’s analogy of the water’s edge declares that Americans are family. Within the family, we can squabble all we want, but when dealing with other countries, we should close ranks and present a united front. Sort of like a Mafia family. And I mean that in a good way.

Technically, it’s already a felony for a citizen to get involved with a foreign country without permission. The Logan Act, enacted way back in 1799, says this:

Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

So, the Logan Act prevents you and me from causing trouble. Vandenberg’s concept amounts to etiquette among politicians and political parties in which, for the common good, they agree not to interfere.

I always admired and supported this concept. It was a simple notion, voluntary in nature, enforced only by personal honor and integrity. It reminded us of our common bond, in spite of our differences and disagreements.

Unfortunately, the notion is nonbinding. And, over time, as the conservatives have grown more wild-eyed and psychotic, it has been tossed aside.

In 2009, while on a junket to China, Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) told the Chinese that the budget numbers released by the Obama Administration “should not be believed.” Yes, he really did.

In 2015, while Barrack Obama was in talks with Iran about limiting the Iranian nuclear program, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) wrote an open letter to Iran. He warned that the Republican Party opposed the talks, and in the future, just might throw out any agreement reached. Cotton and 46 other Republican senators signed the letter. Yes, they really did.

Being a mere journalism major, I struggle to understand why all 47 of them were not charged with a felony under the Logan Act.

But I digress. For years, most politicians honored the water’s edge concept. In 2012, for example, Obama was in South Korea, and he got caught telling Russia he expected to have more “flexibility” after the election.

His opponent Mitt Romney fired back. “For this president to be looking for greater flexibility, where he doesn’t have to answer to the American people in his relations with Russia, is very, very troubling, very alarming,” Romney said.

To everyone’s surprise, House Speaker John Boehner came to Obama’s defense. “While the president is overseas,” he said, “I think it’s appropriate that people not be critical of him or our country. It was one of the few times I agreed with Boehner on anything.

Anyway, the idea that politics should stop at the water’s edgea sensible, useful, honorable concept — is no more. It was tossed aside by the conservatives, of course. And look at the state of the country today.

Our disgrace of a President is a garden-variety conman with no integrity and even less competence. He also is an outright traitor, openly on Putin’s side and solidly under Putin’s control.

– The Trump Administration is so corrupt, I can smell the stench from my house.

Republican politicians regularly spread false information planted by Russian Intelligence.

Moscow Mitch has bottled up over 400 bills passed by the House, including eight designed to protect American elections from foreign interference.

Fox “News” continues leading the conservative herd by the nose, filtering what they know, controlling what they think, and relieving them of their money.

Conservative politics in our time is almost too over-the-top, too insane to be believed. The right is simply toxic — unashamedly malevolent, aggressive, and mean.

Arthur Vandenberg was a Republican with class. This bunch today is about as classy as Tolkien’s orcs.

Trump and friends

 

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“Yes, He Did.”

To the surprise of no one, the Senate Republicans orchestrated a bogus impeachment trial, and both articles of impeachment against the Orange Vulgarian were voted down.

To their credit, all 45 Democratic senators and both independent senators voted guilty on the articles. That was the proper and rational thing to do, seeing as how the evidence of Trump’s guilt was clear.

A while back, in one of my periodic diatribes about the neanderthal behavior of today’s right-wingers, I referred to “cynical conservative politicians” who are “beneath contempt with virtually no exceptions.

That statement no longer is accurate. At the impeachment trial, an exception surfaced. A single surprising and notable exception.

At the trial, Mitt Romney had the stones to vote guilty on the first article of impeachment, which charged abuse of power. As the evidence showed, Trump did, indeed, extort the Ukrainian President, trying to get a political favor.

Of the 53 Republicans in the Senate, Romney was the only one with the integrity to cast a guilty vote. The other 52 Republicans fell in line behind Trump, affirming that, yes, they are beneath contempt.

I should mention that Romney voted not guilty on the second article, obstruction of Congress That was disappointing. Trump was guilty of the second article prima facie,having explicitly obstructed Congress in plain sight for all to see. Mitt should have voted his conscience on that one, too.

Still, he deserves praise for showing unexpected class and doing the right thing, in stark contrast to the other 52 Republican senators.

Mitt’s speech explaining his vote was powerful and commendable. This is what he said.

———

The Constitution is at the foundation of our Republic’s success, and we each strive not to lose sight of our promise to defend it. The Constitution established the vehicle of impeachment that has occupied both houses of Congress for these many days. We have labored to faithfully execute our responsibilities to it. We have arrived at different judgments, but I hope we respect each other’s good faith.

The allegations made in the articles of impeachment are very serious. As a Senator-juror, I swore an oath, before God, to exercise “impartial justice.” I am a profoundly religious person. I take an oath before God as enormously consequential.

I knew from the outset that being tasked with judging the President, the leader of my own party, would be the most difficult decision I have ever faced. I was not wrong.

The House Managers presented evidence supporting their case; the White House counsel disputed that case. In addition, the President’s team presented three defenses: first, that there can be no impeachment without a statutory crime; second, that the Bidens’ conduct justified the President’s actions; and third that the judgment of the President’s actions should be left to the voters. Let me first address each of those defenses.

The historic meaning of the words “high crimes and misdemeanors,” the writings of the Founders and my own reasoned judgment convince me that a president can indeed commit acts against the public trust that are so egregious that while they are not statutory crimes, they would demand removal from office. To maintain that the lack of a codified and comprehensive list of all the outrageous acts that a president might conceivably commit renders Congress powerless to remove a president defies reason.

The President’s counsel noted that Vice President Biden appeared to have a conflict of interest when he undertook an effort to remove the Ukrainian Prosecutor General. If he knew of the exorbitant compensation his son was receiving from a company actually under investigation, the Vice President should have recused himself. While ignoring a conflict of interest is not a crime, it is surely very wrong.

With regards to Hunter Biden, taking excessive advantage of his father’s name is unsavory but also not a crime. Given that in neither the case of the father nor the son was any evidence presented by the President’s counsel that a crime had been committed, the President’s insistence that they be investigated by the Ukrainians is hard to explain other than as a political pursuit.

There is no question in my mind that were their names not Biden, the President would never have done what he did.

The defense argues that the Senate should leave the impeachment decision to the voters. While that logic is appealing to our democratic instincts, it is inconsistent with the Constitution’s requirement that the Senate, not the voters, try the president.

Hamilton explained that the Founders’ decision to invest senators with this obligation rather than leave it to voters was intended to minimize — to the extent possible — the partisan sentiments of the public.

This verdict is ours to render. The people will judge us for how well and faithfully we fulfilled our duty.

The grave question the Constitution tasks senators to answer is whether the President committed an act so extreme and egregious that it rises to the level of a “high crime and misdemeanor.”

Yes, he did.

The President asked a foreign government to investigate his political rival.

The President withheld vital military funds from that government to press it to do so.

The President delayed funds for an American ally at war with Russian invaders.

The President’s purpose was personal and political.

Accordingly, the President is guilty of an appalling abuse of the public trust.

What he did was not “perfect” — No, it was a flagrant assault on our electoral rights, our national security interests, and our fundamental values. Corrupting an election to keep oneself in office is perhaps the most abusive and destructive violation of one’s oath of office that I can imagine.

In the last several weeks, I have received numerous calls and texts. Many demand that, in their words, “I stand with the team.” I can assure you that that thought has been very much on my mind. I support a great deal of what the President has done. I have voted with him 80% of the time. But my promise before God to apply impartial justice required that I put my personal feelings and biases aside.

Were I to ignore the evidence that has been presented, and disregard what I believe my oath and the Constitution demands of me for the sake of a partisan end, it would, I fear, expose my character to history’s rebuke and the censure of my own conscience.

I am aware that there are people in my party and in my state who will strenuously disapprove of my decision, and in some quarters, I will be vehemently denounced. I am sure to hear abuse from the President and his supporters.

Does anyone seriously believe I would consent to these consequences other than from an inescapable conviction that my oath before God demanded it of me?

I sought to hear testimony from John Bolton not only because I believed he could add context to the charges, but also because I hoped that what he said might raise reasonable doubt and thus remove from me the awful obligation to vote for impeachment.

Like each member of this deliberative body, I love our country. I believe that our Constitution was inspired by Providence. I am convinced that freedom itself is dependent on the strength and vitality of our national character.

As it is with each senator, my vote is an act of conviction. We have come to different conclusions, fellow senators, but I trust we have all followed the dictates of our conscience.

I acknowledge that my verdict will not remove the President from office. The results of this Senate Court will in fact be appealed to a higher court: the judgment of the American people. Voters will make the final decision, just as the President’s lawyers have implored. My vote will likely be in the minority in the Senate.

But irrespective of these things, with my vote, I will tell my children and their children that I did my duty to the best of my ability, believing that my country expected it of me.

I will only be one name among many, no more or less, to future generations of Americans who look at the record of this trial. They will note merely that I was among the senators who determined that what the President did was wrong, grievously wrong.

We’re all footnotes, at best, in the annals of history. But in the most powerful nation on earth, the nation conceived in liberty and justice, that is distinction enough for any citizen.

———

Trump and his sycophants will exact their revenge on Romney. It’s in their nature. But Romney will be remembered kindly by history for an admirable display of integrity.

As for Trump, the Republican politicians, and the MAGA crowd, history will remember them as they deserve to be remembered: some mentally unsound, some opportunistic and self-serving, and all beneath contempt.

Romney

 

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Stink, Stank, Stunk

I present herewith a variation of a beloved holiday classic, with apologies to Theodor Geisel.

The idea of our deplorable and, I’m pleased to say, impeached President as the Grinch is not new. Comparing Trump to the Grinch is obvious and appropriate.

Many Trump versions of the song have popped up over the years, some with updated lyrics (You’re as racist as a Klansman, etc.). That’s fine, but to me, it’s hard to improve on the gleeful sarcasm of the Dr. Seuss original.

You’re a Mean One, Mr. Trump

Trump-Grinch

You’re a mean one, Mr. Trump.
You really are a heel.
You’re as cuddly as a cactus,
You’re as charming as an eel,
Mr. Trump.

You’re a bad banana
With a greasy black peel.

You’re a monster, Mr. Trump.
Your heart’s an empty hole.
Your brain is full of spiders,
You’ve got garlic in your soul,
Mr. Trump.

I wouldn’t touch you
With a thirty-nine-and-a-half-foot pole.

You’re a vile one, Mr. Trump.
You have termites in your smile.
You have all the tender sweetness
Of a seasick crocodile,
Mr. Trump.

Given the choice between the two of you,
I’d take the seasick crocodile.

You’re a foul one, Mr. Trump.
You’re a nasty-wasty skunk.
Your heart is full of unwashed socks,
Your soul is full of gunk,
Mr. Trump.

The three words that best describe you
Are as follows, and I quote,
“Stink, stank, stunk.”

You’re a rotter, Mr. Trump.
You’re the king of sinful sots.
Your heart’s a dead tomato
Splotched with moldy, purple spots,
Mr. Trump.

Your soul is an appalling dump-heap,
Overflowing with the most disgraceful
assortment of deplorable rubbish imaginable,
Mangled-up in tangled-up knots.

You nauseate me, Mr. Trump.
With a nauseous super-naus.
You’re a crooked jerky jockey,
And you drive a crooked horse,
Mr. Trump.

You’re a three-decker sauerkraut
And toadstool sandwich
With arsenic sauce.

Trump with Santa

 

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