Sunday, June 26, 2022

How did we get here, ask the people who got us here


By Isaiah Thomas, Board of Editors
with Spy Archivist Aula Minerva

How did we get here, we ask.

In one sense the answer is simple.  Here's Senators Elizabeth Warren and Tina Smith:

We’re in this dark moment because right-wing politicians and their allies have spent decades scheming to overrule a right many Americans considered sacrosanct. Passing state laws to restrict access to abortion care. Giving personhood rights to fertilized eggs. Threatening to criminalize in vitro fertilization. Offering bounties for reporting doctors who provide abortion services. Abusing the filibuster and turning Congress into a broken institution. Advancing judicial nominees who claimed to be committed to protecting “settled law” while they winked at their Republican sponsors in the Senate. Stealing two seats on the Supreme Court.

It's the fault of concupiscence

For nearly 50 years, right-wing extremists rejected the beliefs held by an overwhelming majority of Americans. They doubled and redoubled their efforts to create a future in which women and their doctors could face a prison sentence for seeking or providing basic health care. When these extremists couldn’t impose their radical views through the legislative process, they stacked the courts.

That's irrefutable but it doesn't tell the full story. The destruction of the right to a safe and legal abortion was aided by lots of folks who now proclaim themselves shocked, shocked to discover what Republicans have been doing for the last 42 years. Here's Kevin Dowd's sister:

Over the last three decades, I have witnessed a dismal saga of opportunism, fanaticism, mendacity, concupiscence, hypocrisy and cowardice. This is a story about men gaining power by trading away something that meant little to them compared with their own stature: the rights of women.

Pretty bad. But in her telling, the 40-year effort to stack the Supreme Court with extremist reactionaries has a clear villain.  Wait for it.  Wait.  Wait.  Admire the window boxes along her Georgetown street.

OK, you've waited long enough.  The villain is Joe Biden, for bungling the Thomas hearings (which he did).  Never mind that he voted against Long Dong Thomas and Sulky Sam Alito, and campaigned for Hillary Clinton.

Back to Kevin's sister. In 2016, after watching by her account 25 years of said dismal saga, she couldn't bear to tell her readers, of whom she has many we're sure, that the Presidential race between Hillary Clinton and the Tangerine-Faced Rapist represented a fundamental choice between a man who would enslave and degrade women and a women who would not, even if she had refused to dump her horndog husband. 

(Her glancing reference to “concupiscence” is both a nod to her fine Catholic education and a hidden attack on all Clintons. Perhaps she felt that the death of Roe, which Hillary Clinton told us was on the ballot in 2016, was not a promising day to shoot off the usual broadsides against Hillary.)

But as with other recent abominations, like the Supreme Court's insane lawless decision on the right to stroll into Market Basket packing a high powered assault rifle capable of shredding 40 shoppers a minute if they're keeping you from the BOGO Doritos special or the revelations about the manifold efforts to stage a coup after the Former Loser Grifter lost the 2020 election, the loudest yelps are coming from those who helped confect the catastrophe.

We' hate to call them the usual suspects, because this crowd (unlike the extras in Casablanca) actually did the deed.  Their relentless, cruel, loud, uncompromising support of Republicans and their reactionary agenda had the outcome they must have intended: the triumph of white supremacy, gun lust, and (today's example) telling women what to do with their own bodies (whether or not as a consequence of your raping them in the dressing rooms of Bergdorf Goodman).  

Who want to be first?  How about the short, smirking guy pouring a barrel of water over the face of a helpless detainee?  He seems to be no fan of Dobbs, preferring John Roberts' '76 principle-free position that maybe abortion is OK up to 15 weeks for some reason:

 

In another Tweet he notes that 95% of abortions are performed by the 15th week, so he seems to be OK with 95% of all abortions.  Has he always given off such powerful women-rights vibes?  

Guess what?

Always, however, the key social issue is abortion. [Billy] put the argument most revealingly in the February 1997 issue of the neoconservative political monthly Commentary. ''The truth is,'' Kristol wrote, ''that abortion is today the bloody crossroads of American politics. It is where judicial liberation (from the Constitution), sexual liberation (from traditional mores) and women's liberation (from natural distinctions) come together. It is the focal point for liberalism's simultaneous assault on self-government, morals and nature. So, challenging the judicially imposed regime of abortion-on-demand is key to a conservative reformation in politics, in morals, and in beliefs.'' 

Whoa Nellie. You'd think he'd be thrilled by Alito's triumph of self-government, morals and nature. Or, if he isn't, that he's a disingenuous dishonest unprincipled blowhard who has forfeited his place in America's political discourse. 

Let's try another one of our favorites: the high-spirited darling of the Contras, Ana Navarro:

That seems pretty clear to us. Guess she's always worked to keep the hands of government out of women's reproductive system.

Sorry, no.  Before rising to the summum bonum of American life – TV celebrity – she labored for and partied hearty with a series of Republican hacks and fronts:  

“She’s a friend” who “hangs out in South Florida” and “had been around the political world,” said Jeb Bush Jr., a son of the former governor. “We’ve known her for a long time,” he said, adding that having “more Hispanic or Latina conservatives out there” is good “for any Republican, especially Dad.”

We know that Jeb's brother George nominated two justices knowing they would oppose Roe and his father nominated one for the same reason.  But it's unfair to attribute their views to Jeb, right?  What did Jeb have to say when he ran for President with Ana's approval:

He said, "I'm the most pro-life governor on this stage....Life is a gift from God. And from beginning end we need to respect it and err on the side of life. And so I defunded Planned Parenthood. We created a climate where parental notification took place. We were the only state to fund crisis pregnancy [fake clinics used to talk women out of choosing abortion] centers with state moneys.”

The Jebster also promised to defund all Planned Parenthood services, not just abortion.  Ana didn't have a problem with imposing Jeb Bush's beliefs and religion on all Americans six years ago. 

Next up, an even more highly placed Bush flack and TV celebrity: Nicolle Wallace.  She didn't look too happy about the end of the right to an abortion, retweeting glum tidbits like this:

And yet when she was flacking for George W. Bush's re-election campaign, which led to the elevation of Sulky Sam Alito, her views on reproductive rights sounded, shall we say, different:

The Bush campaign unveiled a television commercial that questions Mr. Kerry's priorities and attacks him for voting against legislation, since signed into law by the president, that makes it a separate offense to harm the fetus in a federal crime against a pregnant woman....Because the law treats the fetus as a separate person, its opponents have described it as an effort to roll back abortion rights....

In a conference call with reporters, Nicolle Devenish [As she was then known – Ed.], the communications director for the Bush campaign, signaled that the commercial would be the start of a concerted effort to counteract what she described as an effort by Mr. Kerry...to reinvent himself.

And how about all those galaxy brain constitutional-law experts many of whom bemoaned the intellectual shoddiness of the Dobbs decision, like Georgetown Professor Neil Katyal and Harvard Professor Noah Feldman.  What did they say about the three FLG stooges who professed their respect for Roe as precedent?  

University of Michigan Law Professor Leah Litman as usual has her hand up:

And don't tell us that we didn't know in 2016 what was at stake in the Presidential election. A very smart graduate of Yale Law School told us plainly:

But the current political battle being waged over filling the current vacant seat on the Supreme Court—and the fact that our next president could appoint as many as three or four justices in the next four years—are striking reminders that we can’t take rulings like today’s for granted. Just consider Donald Trump, the Republicans’ presumptive nominee. The man who could be president has said there should be some form of “punishment” for women seeking abortions. He pledged to appoint Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade. And last year, he said he’d shut down the government rather than fund Planned Parenthood. If we send Trump to the White House and a Republican majority to Congress, he could achieve any—or all—of these things. And that’s why this election is so important. The outcome of November’s contests, from the presidency to state legislatures, is going to be a deciding factor in whether our elected officials and our courts defend or attack a woman’s right to health care for generations to come.”

So, she was, um, right.

To be fair, a very stupid corrupt sex offender was just as clear:

But there's another bunch of suspects to round up, and they're not Republicans.  The New York Times points out today that the Republican anti-abortion blitzkrieg actually began in 2010, when Democrats and progressives figured that having elected Barack Obama, their work was done and they could just stay home:


 

All it took for evil to triumph was for good Democrats to do nothing.  Any moral for 2022?  You can find if you have a strong stomach idiots Tweeting today about how they have given up on Democrats because for the three months the Democrats controlled the political branches in 2009 they did not drop everything else (like national health insurance) and legislate abortion rights.  Some even have the cojones to argue that because Dems can't break a Senate filibuster on abortion rights today, they have forfeited any claims to progressive support.  

The great thing about these insane arguments is they generate their own empirical validation: if pro-choice and progressive voters actually buy them, they will stay home and Democrats will be unable to protect abortion rights, just as predicted.

As we come to the most consequential midterms since the debacle of 2010, ask anyone who tells you there's no real difference between Democrats and Republicans and thus no reason to vote for a possibly imperfect Democrat, if they remember the 2010 and 2016 elections and the 40-year Republican effort to take away the right to a safe and legal abortion.

We remember, even if Billy, Ana, Maureen, Nicolle, and a bunch of hard left whack jobs pretend to forget.

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Never FLG but maybe Cruz, Scott, Pence, DeathSantis, Rubio, ....?


 2024 Election Preview: Only 29 Months to Go!

By Spy Political Editor David Bloviator with
Izzy Stone in Washington

The race for the 2024 Republican Presidential nomination, which you may have thought was over before it began thanks to the overwhelming lead enjoyed by the Former Loser Grifter, is on and you can feel the insurrection [Surely, – excitement? – Ed.]

Last week in these pages we took a look at what passes for courage and insight among Washington hacks (like Kevin Dowd's sister) and former Republican luminaries, who are now willing to tell us, after years if not decades shilling or apologizing for Republicans, that the FLG is – bad.  We also noted that their obloquy did not extend beyond said FLG to other Republicans, who, with rare exception, have either backed his insurrection or kept their mouths tightly shut.

At one of the formerly obligatory stops on the Republican  campaign trail – a mob of intolerant white bigots who slather their hatred with thick gobs of alleged Christianity like mayonnaise on Annie Hall's pastrami sandwich – some of the loudest deplorables had the ignominy of following the FLG's full-diapered defense of insurrection.

It took three Washington Post reporters to describe the incredible scene:

On Friday afternoon, Trump delivered the headline speech at the Faith & Freedom Coalition’s annual Road to Majority conference, which served as a preview of what the 2024 GOP presidential field could look like. But Pence — along with other possible presidential contenders — chose not to attend. Aside from Trump, no other speaker mentioned the Jan. 6 proceedings during the conference’s initial days.

Well, why would they?  If you're thirsting for Republican votes, there's no upside in appeals based on the rule of law, protection of democracy, or the enduring value of the American Constitutional order.  Just ask Liz Cheney, about to be retired by Wyoming Republicans, or South Carolina's Tom Rice, whose vote for impeachment based on the FLG's 1/6 insurrection was greeted by Republicans in America's treason capital – not well:

(graphic from The New York Times)

Republicans can count ballots correctly when they want to, so there was not a discouraging word among the Republican wannabes at Hatefest '22.

Of course, some of the leading Republican, um. luminaries, were smart enough not to follow the FLG roast, including Cancun Ted Cruz, Ron DeathSantis, Li'l Marco Rubio, and no-show at the DC Necktie Party Mike Pence.  Don't worry; we'll get back to them.

But a number of second stringers couldn't resist the “chance to begin testing messages with one of the most influential audiences in Republican presidential politics: evangelical leaders and activists.”

Let's meet some of our contestants:

Sen. Tim Scott (S.C.)...predicted that Republicans will win majorities in the House and the Senate in November, and then, holding his hands up he added: “And then in two years — I have a dream,” a reference to the Rev. Martin Luther King. 

As SNL's Ego Nwodim once noted, “That's all Dr. King ever said.” 

Did we mention that Tim Scott is a Black Republican? You might think that's a disqualifier but you'd be underestimating the appetite of white racists to hear Black people validating their hatred. Ask Herschel Walker, the demented wife-beater who's tied with Sen. Warnock in the George Senate race, but speak slowly and clearly.

Next up was not Tim Scott's cousin, that titan of Medicare fraud, Rick Scott (R – Fifth Amendment).  Surely he would address the issues facing the country head on, right?

Scott suggested the country needs corporal punishment. “A switch is a southern form of encouragement,” he said, after explaining how his mother used to hit him with one to push him to focus more on school.

You might think this is a ridiculous bit of misdirection, but sadly you'd be wrong. Scott knows full well how to give a crowd of self-appointed Christian evangelicals a woodrow: call for child abuse.  As Talia Lavin '08 tells us,

Thank you Republican Jesus!

I started researching evangelical Christian corporal punishment quite recently, though I had known for years it was and remains a common practice in millions of American households. Knee-deep into parenting guides that read, to me, like alien and sadistic torture manuals,... I put out a simple Tweet, asking people who had had such childhoods to reach out to me for a research project.

The response was immediate, and wide-ranging, and intense. Within 48 hours, one hundred people had reached out to me, sharing pieces of their stories on email and DM..—and the responses contained so much candid anguish I marveled the words didn’t etch holes in my screen.

Yikes.  Guess Don Jr. and Eric don't realize how lucky they were that their father neglected them.

Nikki Haley, who faithfully shilled for the FLG's shambolic disloyal foreign policy as UN Ambassador had the incredibly big clanging brass balls to praise the Ukrainians for their patriotism, but said nothing about the President who corruptly tried to extort the President of Ukraine for political gain without objection from her.

The other three FLG taint-polishers waiting for their beloved former President to stroke out on his 20-piece fried chicken basket – Cruz, Rubio, and DeathSantis – wisely passed on taking eighth billing, but they've been supportive of the continuing insurrection perpetrated by the FLG, when they're not jabbering about the menaces of doors in public buildings and vaccines for toddlers.

Which leads us back to the point we were trying to make last week: it's not just the FLG, it's the entire f***in' Republican Party that's in on the effort to end democracy in these United States.  And why should we care?

Because if the FLG finally snorts his last Aderall, his party's Presidential nomination will be won by one or more of these loathsome individuals whose values are just as evil as the FLG's.  The result, according to two leading academic bloviators, one of whom holds the same job once inhabited by Henry Kissinger (Government Professor at a well-known university in the Boston area), is a dire future for our democracy:

Sounds more like a statement about American politics since 1994 than an dystopian warning, but you catch the drift.

Which got us to wondering about all those Republican heroes who like to proclaim their apostasy when it comes to the Treasonous Toadstool, like this guy:

What do they think about all those spineless Republican hacks who have failed to speak out against insurrection and in fact advocate policies that are as as bad as if not worse than those of Pres U Bum?  Funnily enough, you don't hear too much.  Sometimes a discouraging Tweet will be heard but if any of the Never FLG crowd has Tweeted Never DeSantis, Never Cruz, Never Rubio, or Never Pence, we haven't seen it.

Even Cheyenne's answer to Joan of Arc hasn't ruled out supporting any number of loathsome pro-insurrection Republicans. Republicans who are willing to point out that the whole party needs to reconstructed tend to be those who have no future in Republican politics, like retired right-wing Judge Michael Luttig.  As dusk falls over his career and his country, the retired appellate judge, like Minerva's Owl, spread his wings and observed

Over a year and a half later, in continued defiance of our democracy, both the former president and his political party allies still maintain that the 2020 presidential election was “stolen” from him, despite all evidence -- all evidence now --that that is simply false. All the while, this false and reckless insistence that the former president won the 2020 presidential election has laid waste to Americans’ confidence in their national elections. More alarming still is that the former president pledges that his reelection will not be “stolen” from him next time around, and his Republican Party allies and supporters obeisantly pledge the same.

That's clear enough (although Judge Luttig was remarkably parsimonious in his use of the word “Republican”). Too bad that so few Republican stalwarts, including those who seek the Presidency and those ready to trouser millions flacking for them, can bring themselves to state the obvious truth about the irretrievably corrupt subversive conspiracy that is the Republican Party and the depraved cowardly grifters who seek its highest honor, second only to a round of golf with their Supreme Leader.

Sunday, June 12, 2022

A Monstrous Fairy Tale

By Meta-Content Generator A.J. Liebling
with Nellie Bly in Washington

Lucky readers of The New York Times were treated today to a fantastic revelation, courtesy of retired columnist and brother of Kevin, Maureen Dowd.  Are you ready to have your mind blown?

Here it comes:


 No s***, Sherlock.

What has led this savvy dispenser of conventional wisdom to this conclusion, other than it embodies today's Washington conventional wisdom (we'll get back to that)?

Maureen has a revelation!
The House Jan. 6 committee’s prime-time hearing was not about Trump as a bloviating buffoon who stumbled into the presidency. It was about Trump as a callous monster, and many will come away convinced that he should be criminally charged and put in jail. Lock him up!

The hearing drove home the fact that Trump was deadly serious about overthrowing the government. If his onetime lap dog Mike Pence was strung up on the gallows outside the Capitol for refusing to help Trump hold onto his office illegitimately, Trump said, so be it. “Maybe our supporters have the right idea,” he remarked that day, chillingly, noting that his vice president “deserves it.”

Was this really the same guy that Maureen was having flirty interviews with throughout 2015 and 2016? The same guy that she found hardly less odious than his opponent, Hillary Clinton, who was so political and wouldn't dump her horndog husband? The same guy her brother “Kevin” defended with a platoon of hate-filled lies in numerous Dowd columns

It's hard to argue with the proposition that the Tangerine-Faced Seditionist is a monster, as he has proven every single day of his wretched life.

(It would be easier to argue with Maureen's leading competitor for the coveted title of Times Columnist Mailing It In: Former Harvard Salient editor Ross Douthat.  Today, he's blaming Republican obstruction and subversion on – you guessed it! – liberals who are shirking their duty to remedy the prevailing “gyre of polarization” in America for which they are responsible.

Actually, we found a liberal intern who can help Ross.  She pointed out that a gyre, being a circular current usually of water but possibly of any fluid, has no sides by definition, and if you polarized it you'd destroy it, so problem solved.  Just not the problem of the Times giving eighth-rate polemicists miles of column inches to propagate gibberish in what it likes to think is America's leading news outlet.)

But there's a deeper problem with Ms. Dowd's diagnosis of the Bronzed Rapist as a monster.  While it's correct, it doesn't fully encompass the nature of the gyre in which our democracy is trapped.

Her column echoes this week's prevailing wisdom in the light of the brilliantly-crafted January 6 Committee Hearing, which was devoted in large part to building an unassailable case that the Former Loser Grifter criminally conspired to obstruct and pervert the course of American democracy in multiple ways, leading up to inciting a lynch mob to track down and kill Mike Pence on January 6, 2021.

All true and important. But it was a conspiracy; to understand it we have to track down all the conspirators. Here's a hint from loyal Republican and torture fan Liz Cheney:

WASHINGTON — Representative Liz Cheney, Republican of Wyoming...paused to address the members of her own party who she said were “defending the indefensible.”

Pointing out shortcomings is a Republican tradition
“There will come a day when President Trump is gone,” Ms. Cheney said. “But your dishonor will remain.” ...

She has been unrepentant in continuing to blame Mr. Trump for stoking the attack, and her Republican colleagues for following his lead by spreading the lie of a stolen presidential election. That stance has left her marginalized by her party, with her colleagues ousting her from her leadership position and seeking to purge her from the House by boosting a MAGA-styled primary challenger to her at home in Wyoming.

Even a Republican as stone-hearted and reality-challenged as Liz Cheney is forced to admit that the seditious conspiracy encompasses virtually every Republican, not to mention their enablers, like Rupert Murdoch and his always-erupting bulls*** volcano.

But the never-FLG Republicans, after 40 years of dutiful flacking and apologizing for Republican insanity, are all too eager to dump it all on one grotesquely fat crook.

Here's ol' Axis-of-Evil David Frum, who came down from Toronto to polish lies for the Bush Administration but now believes that the Twice-Impeached Monster is The Problem:

The recently defeated president of the United States tried to overturn the Constitution rather than accept the outcome of an election. Brave and patriotic people stood up and stopped him at the time. Brave and patriotic people are seeking to hold him to account now. Be one of them. 

Oh we will, Dave, we will! But what about the 99% of elected Republicans who still back the Treasonous Yam and even worse his evil ideas? How about them?

And let's not forget that Bill “the Institutionalist” Barr, before pointing out on national television that the narrative of a stolen election was, in his word, “bullshit,” nonetheless told an interviewer 


 

He couldn't have revealed the future of the Republican Party any more clearly: radical reactionary white supremacy and Christian dominionism, just without the Orange-Faced Betrayer of the Constitution he corruptly defended until December 2021.

So the FLG-as-monster trope, correct as far as it goes, is misleading, because the conspiracy will survive the defenestration of the Combover Monster as long as the Republican Party remains the unreconstructed movement of white supremacy and anti-democratic subversion.

We note this because the next generation of loathsome Republicans have gained prominence by aping the ideas propagated by the Adderall-Crazed Perv.  To be fair, as the ACP never had an original, or indeed any, thought in his life, those ideas were the lifeblood of the post-1964 Republican Party.  The appalling bit, not mentioned by Maureen and others who enjoy hanging out with Republicans willing to tell her “privately” that of course they don't approve of the Thrice-Bankrupt Ravager's antics, is that such ideas, or more properly attitudes, are the Republican Party.  There's nothing else there.

To take one grotesque example among many, the excrementitious Governor of Florida, Ron DeathSantis, having sacrificed tens of thousands of Floridians to his crowd-pleasing science-free ignore-COVID policies, has now moved aggressively to undermine what's left of democracy in Florida, by using his rubber-stamp legislature to punish those who dare to oppose his appeals to hate and intolerance, like Disney and the Tampa Ray (soon to be Las Vegas) Rays. 

When does Maureen call him out?  Or can we expect a bunch of jolly columns on-the-one-handing DeathSantis and other-handing the too political too bossy Kamala Harris?  

The narrative that it's all the fault of the Former Loser Grifter is far too convenient for Republicans, eager to promote T***ism without T****.

Will they get away with it, in which case our democracy will be flushed down the gyre of misdirection and bothersiderism?  If you want to find out, we know the worst place to look: the opinion pages of The New York Times.

Sunday, June 5, 2022

From the Archives, 1940: Why is the US prolonging the war?

From the July 21, 1940 edition of The Massachusetts Spy:



[Editors Note: The Spy is pleased and honored to present, for the edification of you, the humble reader, the powerfully reasoned words of American hero and influential commentator on the international situation Col. Charles A. Lindbergh, whose views at this critical hour should be of interest to every patriotic American.  Tomorrow, the Spy will present the similar sentiments expressed by that great son of the Commonwealth, Ambassador Joseph P. Kennedy.]

Where I Stand:

WITH FRANCE DEFEATED, U.S.
MUST NOT PROLONG THE WAR

By Col. Charles A. Lindbergh
Great American Hero

Col. Lindbergh on the global stage

In the Paris daily newspaper L'Ami des Allemands this month, Pierre Laval, a distinguished French statesman, warned that the United States, under the shortsighted leadership of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his interventionist cabal, was “sleepwalking” into war with Germany.

The United States has helped turn a tragic, local and ambiguous conflict over the borders of Poland into a potential world conflagration. By misunder-standing the war’s logic, Mr. Laval argues, the West, led by the Roosevelt Administration, is giving the conflict a momentum that may be impossible to stop.

He is right.

One can argue about German claims to Poland or Alsace and Lorraine, but Germans take them seriously. Hundreds of thousands of German fighters died defending Alsace and Lorraine during World War I. Since 1870, German control of Alsace and Lorraine has seemed to provide a stable regional arrangement: Germany’s European neighbors, with one exception, have let sleeping dogs lie.

But the United States never accepted the arrangement. It has repeatedly allied itself with France and the United Kingdom, affirming a commitment to their defense and the frustration of Germany's legitimate claims for Lebensraum.  On June 10, 1940, President Roosevelt promised the United States  would provide an increasing stream of arms to Germany's enemies and said that all of America's sympathies were on the side of England and France.

Those decisions “convinced Germany that it must destroy France and England or be attacked,” Mr. Laval wrote. “It is the ineluctable process of 1914 in all its terrifying purity.”

This is a faithful account of the war that Chancellor Hitler has claimed to be fighting. “There were constant supplies of the most modern military equipment,” Herr Hitler said, referring to the foreign arming of Germany's enemies, England and France. “The danger was growing every day.”

Whether he was right to worry about Germany’s security depends on one’s perspective. Western news reports tend to belittle him.

The rocky course of the war thus far has vindicated Herr Hitler’s diagnosis, if not his conduct. Without massive aid and arms shipments from the United States, England barely had a modern military at all. The United States started arming and training the armed forces of England and France, hesitantly at first but now under President Franklin Roosevelt's reckless anti-Germany policy, England  is armed to the teeth.

And this is where Mr. Laval is correct to accuse the West of sleepwalking. The United States is trying to maintain the fiction that arming one’s allies is not the same thing as participating in combat.

In the information age, this distinction is growing more and more artificial. The United States has provided intelligence used to kill German U-boats and fighter planes. Now it is building engines that will power RAF fighters in their continuing efforts to kill German aviators. It obtained targeting information that helped to sink German naval and merchant vessels, leading to a regrettable loss of life.

And the United States may be playing an even more direct role. There are thousands of foreign fighters in England. One volunteer spoke to the British Broadcasting Corporation this month of fighting alongside “friends” who “come from the Marines, from the States.” Just as it is easy to cross the line between being a weapons supplier and being a combatant, it is easy to cross the line from waging a proxy war to waging a secret war.

In a subtler way, a country trying to fight such a war risks being drawn from partial into full involvement by force of moral reasoning. Perhaps American officials justify exporting weaponry the way they justify budgeting it: It is so powerful that it is dissuasive. The money is well spent because it buys peace. Should bigger guns fail to dissuade, however, they lead to bigger wars.

A handful of people died in the German takeover of Poland in 1939. But this time around, matched in weaponry — and even outmatched in some cases — Germany has no choice but to revert to a war of bombardment that will make its World War I Zeppelin attacks look as insignificant as a race massacre here at home.

Even if we don’t accept Herr Hitler’s claim that America’s arming of England and France is the reason the war happened in the first place, it is certainly the reason the war has taken the kinetic, explosive, deadly form it has. Our role in this is not passive or incidental. We have given the English cause to believe they can prevail in a war of escalation.

They would be alive had America not aided the French Army

Thousands of Frenchmen have died who likely would not have if the United States had stood aside. That naturally may create among American policymakers a sense of moral and political obligation — to stay the course, to escalate the conflict, to match any excess.

The United States has shown itself not just liable to escalate but also inclined to. Earlier this month, Mr. Roosevelt said that democracy and totalitarianism were fundamentally in conflict and could not coexist.

For similar reasons Mr. Roosevelt’s suggestion that Herr Hitler be tried for war crimes is an act of consummate irresponsibility. The charge is so serious that, once leveled, it discourages restraint; after all, a leader who commits one atrocity is no less a war criminal than one who commits a thousand. The effect, intended or not, is to foreclose any recourse to peace negotiations.

The situation on the battlefield in Europe has evolved to an awkward stage. France, England, and Germany have all suffered heavy losses. But Germany has made gains, too, by knocking France out of the war and establishing absolute military control over central and western Europe. England, having successfully evacuated its army and air force from Dunkirk, now expects them to be rearmed by the United States — a powerful incentive not to end the war anytime soon.

But if the war does not end soon, its dangers will increase. “Negotiations need to begin in the next two months,” Amb. Joseph P. Kennedy warned last week, “before it creates upheavals and tensions that will not be easily overcome.” Calling for a return to the status quo ante bellum, he added, “Pursuing the war beyond that point would not be about the freedom of the British Empire but a new unnecessary war against Germany itself.”

In this, Amb. Kennedy is on the same page as Mr. Laval. “To make concessions to Germany would be submitting to aggression,” Mr. Laval warned. “To make none would be submitting to insanity.”

The United States is making no concessions. That would be to lose face. There’s an election coming. So the administration is closing off avenues of negotiation and working to intensify the war. We’re in it to win it. With time, the huge import of deadly weaponry, including that from the newly authorized $40 billion allocation, could take the war to a different level. Prime Minister Winston Churchill warned in an address to the House of Comments upon taking office this month that the bloodiest days of the war were coming and all that he had offer to a war-weary world was “blood, toil, tears, and sweat.”

Spoiler Alert: Actually, Col. Lindbergh didn't write these words in 1940 (although he certainly believed them).  They were written about Russia and Ukraine and published in The New York Times in the June 4 print edition.  Don't believe anything as morally obtuse could be published in their Opinion pages?  Check it out for yourself, preferably on an empty stomach.

Saturday, May 28, 2022

From the Archives, 2004: Republicans end the assault weapons ban and the usual suspects are there!

By Spy Archivist Aula Minerva
with Texas Correspondent Gus McCrae

As predicted in last week's Spy (see below) the horror of the Buffalo supermarket assault weapon massacre was wiped off the front pages and A blocks by the carnage at the Uvalde elementary school in the heart of America's gun country, Texas.

Before the next massacre by assault rifle, we thought we'd drill down into the cause of this plague.

It's so simple: Republicans.

Thus we were surprised when a number of the usual Republican suspects were heard to express how shocked, shocked they were by the most recent massacres.  They also bemoaned the mysterious inability of our society to come up with effective solutions to the agony of massacre by assault weapon, like not selling assault weapons to any 18-year-old with his daddy's Visa.

Here are a few examples of Republicans decrying the unbearable events of Buffalo and Uvalde:

Nicolle Wallace, MSNBC:

 

And Republican pollster and fixer Frank Luntz:

And what does David “Axis of Evil” Frum think about the anguish caused by teenagers wielding assault weapons powerful enough to rip bodies apart? 

Let's just ingest one more dose of Republican shock and horror over assault weapons massacres. Here's Steve “Vote Palin for VP” Schmidt: 

Disgraceful is the word for it. More specifically, why are assault weapons with their 30-round magazines and body-shredding power readily available to any untrained nitwit? 

There was a time in this country when the sale of assault weapons was generally outlawed. That ban expired in 2004, when Republican President George W. Bush and a Republican Congress let it expire, as explained by The New York Times:

WASHINGTON, Sept. 8 - Despite widespread popular support, the federal law banning the sale of 19 kinds of semiautomatic assault weapons is almost certain to expire on Monday,...

While President Bush has expressed support for legislation extending the ban,..he has not pressured lawmakers to act, leading critics to accuse him of trying to have it both ways.

Efforts to renew the ban, which polls show is supported by at least two-thirds of Americans, have faltered this year on Capitol Hill....while Republican leaders have opposed the ban.

"I think the will of the American people is consistent with letting it expire, so it will expire," Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee, the majority leader, said on Wednesday.

The House majority leader, Representative Tom DeLay of Texas, dismissed the ban as "a feel-good piece of legislation" and said flatly that it would expire Monday, even if Mr. Bush made an effort to renew it.

"If the president asked me, it would still be no," Mr. DeLay said. "He knows, because we don't have the votes to pass the assault weapons ban. It will expire Monday, and that's that."

Democrats decried the influence of the rifle association and said the ban could be renewed if the president wanted it to.

 

Senator Bill Frist?  Is he the same guy who said this week:

 

 

Actually, the time to act was 2004, when Frist could have pushed through an assault weapons ban that could have saved countless young lives in Uvalde, Sandy Hook, Parkland, and other places from dying in agony.  But like the surgeon that he was, he's excised his own past.  

That bit of amnesia led us to wonder what Nicolle, Dave, Frank, and Steve were doing back then. Let's find out!

On September 8, 2004, the Bush campaign's press secretary was – wait for it: Nicolle Wallace, then doing business as Nicolle Devenish:

Schmidt's appointment is part of a reshuffling of the White House communications operation as Bush gears up to sell major initiatives to a skeptical Congress and public. In a series of changes likely to be announced this week, communications director Dan Bartlett and chief speechwriter Michael Gerson will be given loftier titles and wider responsibilities. Bartlett will be succeeded by Nicolle Devenish, who was communications director for the Bush-Cheney campaign and formerly headed the White House Office of Media Affairs, which serves regional and specialty organizations.

Bartlett is likely to become counselor....Devenish will be his principal deputy 

Schmidt?  Who's Schmidt? Is it the same Schmidt who now tells us we need first magnitude social reform, whatever that means?  Reader, you know this one: of course it is.  Here's the Washington Post report of June 15, 2004: “ "The economy is firing on all cylinders," said Steve Schmidt, a Bush campaign spokesman.” And as soon as the President he advised did nothing and let the assault weapons ban expire, mass shooters started firing on all cylinders, not to mention schoolchildren, shoppers, churchgoers, and others.

Guess who made America safe for assault weapons?

And that Frank Luntz fella?  Surely he wouldn't be the guy who remorselessly shopped talking points and catch phrases for Republicans who saw nothing wrong with assault weapons for sale next to the six-packs and Slim Jims?  What was he doing back in 2004?

With voter anxieties about Iraq shadowing this year's campaign, pollster Frank Luntz has some advice for fellow Republicans: Mind your language.

Luntz...says minor changes in language used by politicians can lead to major differences in voter perceptions -- turning a potential liability into an asset.

Among his suggested talking points,... It's not the war in Iraq -- it's the war on terror. "

Hell, if he could spin the Iraq debacle, surely he had no problem defending Republicans who brought shock and awe into the classroom with legal assault weapons, which, to be fair, have caused far less carnage than Bush's pointless Iraq War.

And David Frum?  A man who now speaks so eloquently about the need to regulate lethal weapons could have been no part of the Administration that let the worst of them be sold like corny dogs at the Texas State Fair.  Indeed, by September 2004, Frum had left his gig as a speechwriter for George W. Bush and taken up a no-heavy-lifting gig as a writer for that well known advocate of safe and sensible gun regulation, the National Review.

The captious may ask what is our point.  After all, if Wallace, Frum, Schmidt, Frist, and Luntz have now seen the light and speak well of a ban on assault weapons, isn't that a good thing?

It's better, to be sure.  But their advocacy elides the central political point, which is there is but one reason why would-be mass murderers can celebrate their 18th birthday with a shiny new assault rifle capable of shredding 40 children a minute.  That reason is Republicans.

Not using the R-word in your sententious bleats about gun violence helps your fellow Republicans avoid responsibility for their cruel and immoral refusal to adopt gun safety laws.  It also obscures the solution.

If these apostate Republicans really want to solve the problem that they helped to create by their own deeds and words, then they should devote their energies to making the case that Republicans are to blame for dead children and shoppers with the same snap and verve that they used to rebrand the Iraq War.

Imagine the possibilities if, for example, David Frum were to call out the NRA, elected Republicans, and white racist militias as the atrocious joint venturers they are.  If only there was a pithy way to describe three apexes of America's gun violence tragedy.  How about “the Equilateral Triangle of Evil”? 

If David, Nicolle, Frank, Bill, or Steve has any better ideas, our comment page is wide open. 

CORRECTION, MAY 29 – It turns out the killer didn't need his daddy's Visa card to buy his weapons of mass destruction. The company offers instant financing to buyers:

The Spy regrets the error, unlike the company that supplied the tools of mass murder, which regrets nothing.


Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Sunday, May 22, 2022

I love a parade...of horribles


By Izzy Stone
Washington Correspondent

Who doesn't love a parade?  We do! And as we get ever closer to a midterm election with everything on the line, we thought we'd get the ball rolling with a parade.

Specifically, a parade of the horribles that will happen should Republicans take the House and Senate in 2022 because their hate-addled base showed up and Democrats didn't.

Parade of horribles: coming soon thanks to you!

We hope the parade doesn't pass by, but with predictions of $6/gallon gasoline and endless whining from segments of the Democratic Party base who should know better (by definition, all of them) about the manifold shortcomings of President Biden and the nominally Democratic Congress, we're not optimistic.

As the parade warms up let's review who cares about this upcoming election:

Maybe more significantly, Democratic interest in the midterms has increased — from 50 percent of Democrats in March who indicated a high level of interest (either a “9” or “10” on a 10-point scale) to 61 percent now. That’s compared to Republicans, who were at 67 percent high interest two months ago, versus 69 percent now.  

In the interest of stirring up the 40% of Democrats who don't seem to care who wins this fall, let's strike up the band and get this party started!

1.  The impeachment of President Biden.  Every Republican vying for influence or just an interview with Tucker “Where's Mommy?” Carlson is backing this horrible, so let's start here.  Even though there's zero chance Biden can be removed (as long as 34 Democratic Senators remain alive and voting), it will be a spectacle that could run all year, dominating the headlines and cable news and setting the stage for taking Biden down in 2024.

Republicans ran this play before in 1999, and although it was a shambolic farce that revealed Republicans to be petty pious frauds, not one Republican suffered any consequences for the persecution.  Right, Lindsay?  And it dampened enthusiasm and support for Al Gore, while inspiring enough disaffected Democrats to follow the bold if demented leadership of Ralph Nader.  You remember what happened next.

What grounds would there be for passing article of impeachment against Joe Biden?  You're asking the wrong question.  The fact is that the mouth-breathing GOP base is as hot for impeachment as Madison Cawthorn was for his cousin:


With numbers like that, the Republican House won't trouble itself much with the basis for any charges against Biden.  If they do, the deep thinkers in their caucus are ready:

Today, Congresswoman [No free plugs from us – Ed.] introduced three impeachment resolutions against Joe Biden for his dereliction of duty in Afghanistan, his violations of immigration law causing a national security crisis on our Southern border, and his usurping of the Constitutional balance of power by ignoring the ruling of the Supreme Court.

Ah yes, the end of the Afghan war, which established media gasbags were telling us would define the Biden Presidency. As Hedley Lamarr would say: “Right as always, sir.”

Anyway, the point of impeaching Biden is not to remove him from office.  It's to provide hundreds of hours of free airtime to every Republican whack job in Congress to advance their own careers.  If the spectacle distracts the electorate from the corruption and subversion of Republicans, that's just an added bonus!

And that's just the beginning of the parade.

2.  Government shutdown.  We know this will happen because every time in the last 30 years when there has been a Republican Congress and a Democratic President, it has happened.  Again, although the Conventional Wisdom has it that such a shutdown is bad for Republicans, we are unaware of any elected Republican who was unelected because he or she drove our government into the buffers.

It's fun for Republicans to shut down the government, an entity they don't really have much use for, except for the part with the heavily armed guys shooting at Black protesters in the streets. If millions suffer because government aid is cut off or government initiatives, like, say, inspection of baby formula plants, are suspended, who cares?

In fact, Republicans enjoy government shutdowns because they prove the Republican talking point that government can't do anything (other than protect the lives and property of white men).  And the usual bloviators will both-sides a shut down and bemoan the lack of sensible bipartisanship that should have resulted in keeping government functioning as long as Democrats are willing to give up – their foolish opposition to asylum repeal on bogus “public health” grounds.

If you think that no one would be dim enough to spout nonsense like this after Republicans proved themselves in favor of overthrowing democracy, then read for yourself the musings of a proud Brandeis grad and retired columnist who married into a real estate fortune in the May 22 New York Times  (We don't link to pisspoor content anymore).

And if you don't think Republicans will hesitate to shut down the US Government for any f***in' stupid reason, we call your attention to ancient history (December 2021) as recounted in The Guardian:

Could there be a worse reason to shut down the Government?  If there is, Congressional Republicans will find it!

Where there's a shutdown there's a ....

3.  Debt default.  We know Republicans will cause the United States to default on its debt in a time of global political, military, and economic crisis because, once again, they've done it every time they hold Congress and a Democrat squats (in GOP eyes) in the White House.

During the Obama administration, the price for raisinig the debt ceiling was a ridiculous set of budget caps that proved so unworkable they were quietly abandoned after causing years of havoc and suffering.

Although Dems can be justly accused of learning slowly, they've caught on that there's no point to playing this game and we suspect the Biden Administration will respond to Republican extortion with a polite finger.

The resulting financial chaos will of course be blamed on both sides, but to Republicans any economic calamity is only pure gold for their 2024 campaign to win or steal the Presidency.  Wall Street titans will rumble about how bad a debt default is, but the trailer-trash MAGA base (many of whom live on ironclad public pensions) doesn't care what Jamie Dimon thinks, for f***ks sake.  As for Janet Yellin, who enjoys the special regard Republicans lavish on women and Jews,


one can only imagine the hearing at which her concerns were treated by House Majority Gym Jordan with the same seriousness he once gave to the cries of violated college wrestlers he coached.

There may come a time when the debt crisis starts to hit the pocketbooks of funders of Republican insanity, like Charles Koch or the Mercers, but before that happens, we'll bet that trillions of dollars of savings will have been wiped out and millions of lives will have been ruined by economic chaos.  

4.  Judges.  If Clarence Thomas strokes out in 2023 or 2024, do you think that a Republican Senate will confirm any replacement?  Or any appellate judge needed to repair bent circuits like the Fifth, Sixth, or Eleventh?

5.  Global warming.  With a Democratic House and 52 Democratic Senators Coal Mine Joe and Ditzy Kristen won't have a death grip on legislation to save the Earth from frying to a crisp.  We might even get a crash program to wean us from fossil fuels thereby ending the unbearable curse of $5 gas going out the tailpipe in summer traffic jams.

But the Democrats are so disappointing!

6.  COVID.  A million dead later, over a third of whom died to Republican opposition to vaccine and mask mandates (see below), and Republicans are still refusing to fund the measures needed to limit the death toll of the next wave of COVID, already upon us in the Northeast. 

7.  Abortion rights.  Abortion will be gone well before the election, a human, moral, and legal tragedy that may nonetheless be good for Democratic turnout.  Thinking that a Democratic Congress might be able to protect women from coathanger abortions and criminal prosecutions for leaving hellholes like Missouri to obtain health care?  Good luck with Speaker of the House Elsie Stefanik '06!

8  Duck and cover.  Somewhere in America the next victims of America's gun lust are shopping, davening, working, going to arithmetic class or just walking down the street, unaware that their lives will soon end in violence and agony.  With Republicans intent on putting assault rifle vending machines outside every school and supermarket, the number of future victims, likely to be women, Black people, Jews, or children, can only increase.

9.  Democracy.  To cover up their corruption and extremism, and to fluff their base and their Tangerine-Faced Leader, the Republican Congress will pass new legislation making it even more unlikely that future elections will be won by the candidates with the most votes.  Do you really think that Republicans won't pass every piece of s*** they can think of to block Democratic voters, and let their local henchpeople deliver Electoral College votes to the FLG? If so, why?

10.  $4 gas.  The price of gas is caused by many things.  The identity of the party in power on Capitol Hill isn't one of them.

As the parade of 2023 horribles pass by, ask yourself whether you are looking forward to the reality they portend.  If you're disappointed in the results the Democrats obtained with a narrow dysfunctional majority over the past two years, ask yourself if the Republican parade is worth making the point that you were too principled to vote Democratic.  And if you can articulate what that principle is, be sure to tell the rest of us.