Sunday, January 31, 2021

From the Archives: When Were Republicans Not Horrible?

Editors' Note: Among the noteworthy recent arrivals on Capitol Hill is a sweet young [Young? – Ed.] Georgia peach,  Rep. Marjorie Greene.  She's gotten a lot of press describing her – well, let's let the press speak for itself:

WASHINGTON — Marjorie Taylor Greene had just finished questioning whether a plane really flew into the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, and flatly stating that President Barack Obama was secretly Muslim when she paused to offer an aside implicating another former president in a crime.

“That’s another one of those Clinton murders,” Ms. Greene said, referring to John F. Kennedy Jr.’s death in a 1999 plane crash, suggesting that he had been assassinated because he was a potential rival to Hillary Clinton for a New York Senate seat.

Ms. Greene casually unfurled the cascade of dangerous and patently untrue conspiracy theories in a 40-minute video that was originally posted to YouTube in 2018. It provides a window into the warped worldview amplified by the freshman Republican congresswoman from Georgia, who in the three months since she was elected has created a national brand for herself as a conservative provocateur who has proudly brought the hard-right fringe to the Capitol.

We suppose some delicate flowers could take exception to this, but the principal reactions from Republicans have been variously:


and (2) they don't make Republicans like they used to.

The home planet for the what-happened-to-my-Republican-Party whine is The Bulwark, where a whole platoon of former Republican apologists and hacks now claim that things today are so different from the Republican Golden Age.  Here's long-time reliable hatchet woman Mona Charen:

Strange as it is to write those words after 30 plus years as a conservative columnist, I have to say that when you compare the state of the two major parties today, the Republicans are more frightening.

It is the Republican party that has officially become a personality cult, declaring that it will not adopt a platform but will simply follow whatever Trump dictates. It is the Republican party that pretends that COVID-19 will magically disappear. It is the Republican party that has elevated a series of criminals and grifters including Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, Roy Moore, Steve Bannon, Wayne LaPierre, Rudy Giuliani, Jerry Falwell, Jr., and Roger Stone. It is the Republican party that shamefully declined to uphold the Constitution when Trump diverted funds to his border wall. It is the Republican party that has become truth-optional. And it is the Republican party that now opens its arms to adherents of a deranged but nonetheless dangerous new cult called QAnon, which a (defeated) Republican called “mental gonorrhea,” and which in December, 2016, inspired a man to open fire in a pizza parlor in Washington, D.C., as part of a “self investigation.”

And here's Profile in Courage and lifelong Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski:

Lisa Murkowski, in almost the same breath as she called for Trump to leave office, considered what she had in common with her fellow Republicans anymore. “If the Republican party has become nothing more than the party of Trump, I sincerely question whether this is the party for me.”

Her many days of sincerely questioning what had become of her cherished party led her last week to fall in line with it, by joining the blockade of pandemic relief despite a death toll racing toward 500,000 and the worst economic performance since 1946.

Don't forget the, um, intellectual leader of the bereft ex-Republicans, Billy “Let's Invade Iraq!” Kristol, who channeled his inner Barry Goldwater in sounding the alarm in November about the Republican effort to overturn the election:

A little alarmism in the defense of liberty is no vice. Complacency in the defense of democracy is no virtue.

See what he did there? Anyway, it occurred to us to send our intern Louise into our extensive archives to take a look at what the supposedly halcyon era of the Republican Party was like. Let's start with Billy's inspiration, Barry Goldwater.

July 16, 1964

We remember that our Political Correspondent, David Bloviator, claimed that the Telex ate his exclusive dispatch from the Republican National Convention, leaving us no choice but to run this report from The New York Times News Service:


The John Birch Society was course the fun-loving Belmont, Mass. group that labelled everybody to the left of Joe McCarthy a Communist, including former President and Allied Supreme Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower.  

March 21, 1966

Just a few years later, the Young Republicans of New Jersey celebrated their true moderate colors in song, according to this dispatch from The New York Times News Service we printed, with a few edits:

August 5, 1980

How about the patron saint of the sane and moderate Republican Party, St. Ronald of Bitburg?  Remember the unifying, inclusive way he began his 1980 Presidential campaign?  This time our David Bloviator was there:

Republican nominee Ronald Reagan, kicking off his general election campaign after several weeks of rest and relaxation following his nomination, today spoke before a crowd of 10,000 white people at the Neshoba County Fair.  Sources close to the former Governor told the Spy that the location in the same county where three civil rights workers were murdered 15 years ago was purely what they called an “amusing coincidence.”

In his speech, Reagan offered a lusty defense of “states' rights” which is understood in these parts as code for opposition to equal opportunity and civil rights for black Southerners, including the right to vote.

In fact, St. Ronald had quite the civil rights record, Paul Krugman noted years later:

So there’s a campaign on to exonerate Ronald Reagan from the charge that he deliberately made use of Nixon’s Southern strategy. When he went to Philadelphia, Mississippi, in 1980, the town where the civil rights workers had been murdered, and declared that “I believe in states’ rights,” he didn’t mean to signal support for white racists. . . .

When he went on about the welfare queen driving her Cadillac, and kept repeating the story years after it had been debunked, some people thought he was engaging in race-baiting. But it was all just an innocent mistake.

When, in 1976, he talked about working people angry about the “strapping young buck” using food stamps to buy T-bone steaks at the grocery store, he didn’t mean to play into racial hostility. True, as The New York Times reported,

The ex-Governor has used the grocery-line illustration before, but in states like New Hampshire where there is scant black population, he has never used the expression “young buck,” which, to whites in the South, generally denotes a large black man. . . .

PS: It has been pointed out to me that Reagan opposed making Martin Luther King Day a national holiday, giving in only when Congress passed a law creating the holiday by a veto-proof majority. But he really didn’t mean to disrespect the civil rights movement – it was just an innocent mistake.

February 17, 2012

We could go on, but let's take one last look at a mainstream Republican victimized by a ruthless cancel culture.

For decades, Pat Buchanan had been a prominent figure in Republican politics.  He was a key adviser to Richard M. Nixon and as keynote speaker of the rollicking 1992 Republican National Convention launched a “culture war” based on intolerance and bigotry.  He then enjoyed a long and lucrative career as the jovial regular-guy defender of Republican orthodoxy on cable news.  

And then it all went, um, south:

Can you believe some vindictive leftists accused
beloved Republican Pat Buchanan of Nazi ties?

Yesterday, Pat Buchanan announced that his tenure as a commentator at MSNBC was finally over, . . .

Calls for Buchanan’s firing by groups like Color of Change, Credo, and Media Matters had been loud and growing, following years of controversial, offensive and outright bigoted statements made by Buchanan without apology or remorse. Here is a look back at 10 of the most offensive and outrageous statements made by Pat Buchanan:

. . . . 8. Argued that Poland and the United Kingdom had it coming in World War II. Buchanan seems to suggest in a 2009 column that World War II — and all the atrocities that accompanied it — was really the fault of Poland and Britain, for refusing to engage in diplomacy with Germany. “Why did Warsaw not negotiate with Berlin, which was hinting at an offer of compensatory territory in Slovakia? Because the Poles had a war guarantee from Britain that, should Germany attack, Britain and her empire would come to Poland’s rescue.”

9. Dabbled in Holocaust denial. Pat Buchanan danced alarmingly close to denying key facts of the Holocaust. In a 1990 column for the New York Post, he defended convicted Nazi war criminal Ivan Demjanjuk (whom he later compared to Jesus Christ) against charges from Holocaust survivors that he was guilty of murder by accusing the survivors of misremembering all of it: “This so-called ‘Holocaust Survivor Syndrome’ involves ‘group fantasies of martyrdom and heroics.’ Reportedly, half of the 20,000 survivor testimonies in Yad Vashem memorial in Jerusalem are considered ‘unreliable,’ not to be used in trials[…]The problem is: Diesel engines do not emit enough carbon monoxide to kill anybody.”

10. Argued Hitler was an individual of “great courage.”
. . .  In 1977, he qualified his labeling of Hitler as racist and anti-semitic by adding that “he was also an individual of great courage, a soldier’s soldier in the Great War, a leader steeped in the history of Europe, who possessed oratorical powers that could awe even those who despised him[…]His genius was an intuitive sense of the mushiness, the character flaws, the weakness masquerading as morality that was in the hearts of the statesmen who stood in his path.”

Apparently NBC News did Not-zi that coming.   

So we have to wonder where all those never U Bum renegade ex-Republicans were when Goldwater opposed civil rights, Reagan crooned about strapping young bucks and states' rights, and a long-time Republican insider said the wrong side won the Second World War.  

It's almost as if there isn't, in George Wallace's famous expression “a dime's worth of difference” between the stalwart old Republicans of bygone days and the new bright lights like pistol-packin' Marjorie Greene.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

David Bloviator: America thirsts for unity

Editors' Note:  A new era dawns in Washington.  The broken glass and Cleveland steamers have been swept out of the U.S. Capitol.  The Tangerine-Faced Loser has been exiled to await impeachment and indictment.  What better time to consult the Spy's peerless political prognosticator, David Bloviator, who has covered every Inauguration since 1960?  The Spy caught up with our celebrated political savant, exiled from his usual listening post at the National Press Club bar, in the comfort of his den in an undisclosed location somewhere inside the Beltway [Annandale – Copy Ed.].  And for only a modest honorarium of a case of Chivas Regal [I said a bottle – Ed.], he was willing to share his wisdom with you, the humble reader.

TMS:  Mr. Bloviator, it's a pleasure to welcome you in the first week of the Biden Administration.

DB:  Yes, it is.  Get me my ice bucket.

TMS:  I can't Mr. Bloviator.  This is a virtual conversation.

The Spy's peerless political prognosticator
David Bloviator says we need unity

DB:  Damnation and hellfire.  Yet another intolerable restriction on my freedom.  Next thing you know, I won't be able to go to the Post Office without a mask on.

TMS:  Actually, you won't.  That was in one of President Biden's first Executive Orders.

DB:  It's just like slavery.  Or Nazi Germany.  Or the Chinese Communist Party.  Or all three.

TMS: What about the rule requiring you to wear pants?  Is that also an intolerable assault on liberty?

DB:  That's completely different.

TMS:  Why?

DB:  Because Republicans wear pants, you jackanape!

TMS:  Let's talk about the Inauguration.

DB:  Let's.  It portends.

TMS: What does it portend?

DB: It portends a new era in American politics.

TMS: Isn't that true every time a new President is inaugurated?

DB: And your point is?

TMS: What can we expect from the new Administration?

DB: That is the key question all of Washington is mulling over.

TMS: Us too.

[Sound of Scotch poured into a tall glass]

DB: Ah, that's better.  I was thirsty.

TMS: Speaking of thirsty, for what does America thirst?

DB: It thirsts for unity.  It thirsts for a rededication to our common purpose.  It thirsts for leadership.

TMS:  What should President Biden do to slake this thirst?

DB: He must reach out.  He must avoid dividing the country.  He must be the Great Unifier.

TMS: Does that mean he should be working toward solving great national crises, like a raging pandemic, economic collapse, restoring America's standing in the world, and protecting the Republic from far-right insurrectionists?

DB: Of course not, you young whippersnapper.

TMS: What should he do instead?

DB: Whatever Mitch McConnell lets him do.

TMS: That's kind of a funny definition of unity, isn't it?

DB: There's nothing funny about it.  Spending huge sums on bailing out states, cash payments to idlers, and welfare are controversial and divisive.

TMS: So the only way President Biden can unify the country is by adopting the Republican agenda and doing nothing?

DB: There is much to be done.  I am sure that the Republicans would welcome a bipartisan effort to cut Social Security and Medicare.

TMS: But 81 million people voted for Biden because he promised to relieve the suffering of the poor and afflicted.  Wouldn't he be in effect abandoning them?

DB: Unity has its price, young man.  Sometimes we must all make sacrifices to bring our country together.

TMS: What sacrifice are Republicans being asked to make?

DB: They are being asked to accept a Democrat as President.  That is a perversion of the natural order of things.

TMS: It is?

DB: That's how Republicans see it.  That's why they look so glum.

TMS: How does the impending impeachment trial of the former President fit into this?

DB: Any effort to impeach a former President will only fan the flames.

TMS: What flames?

Biden must reach out to very special people,
says our ace pundit David Bloviator
DB: The flames of division, you dimwit. Also it's not constitutional.

TMS:  How do you know that?

DB:  Because Alan Dershowitz and Lindsey Graham say so.  Have they ever been wrong before?

TMS:  Yes.  Pretty much always.

DB: My point remains that the best way to unify the country is to put the past behind us.

TMS: You mean bury it?

DB:  I mean move on.

TMS: Didn't we try that after the Civil War?

DB: And look how well it worked!  We haven't had a bit of trouble since then?

TMS: What about the invasion of the Capitol and the attempted overthrow of the Legislative Branch of government?

DB: That of course was regrettable but an understandable reaction.

TMS: An understandable reaction to what?

DB:  To the feelings of disappointment on the part of the Republican base.  Also their concerns.

TMS: What concerns?

DB: Their concerns that the election fraud wasn't being investigated adequately.

TMS: There wasn't any election fraud.

DB: How do you know that until it's been investigated?

TMS: We know it because 64 courts and the former Attorney General agreed there was no fraud that affected the results.

DB: But leading Republicans said that concerns were not addressed.

TMS: Don't you think they were just essentially making crap up to stir up the base and promote their own electoral chances in 2024?

DB: Are you accusing distinguished Senators like Ted Cruz and Josh Howley of making false and unsubstantiated claims?

TMS: Yes I am.

DB: Are you aware that they were educated at America's most distinguished universities, including Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Stanford?

TMS: Do you have any idea how many insufferable a**holes graduated from Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Stanford?

DB:  I'm sure there have been a few.  But don't forgot how mean people were to Bari Weiss, so both sides!

TMS: We'll have to leave it there.  Thank you Mr. Bloviator.

DB:  How do you turn this f***ing thing off?

TMS:  Here let me help you.

[Presses "End Meeting" button]

David Bloviator: Always right and never in doubt!

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Billionaire, Destroyer of Two Countries, Schondeh von der Goyim dead at 87

The Obituary Page of The Massachusetts Spy

By Luke Reschuss
Obituary Writer

With the torrent of grim news about insurrection, disloyalty, plague, and economic calamity raining down upon us, aren't you ready for some good news?

Here it is:  Sheldon Adelson is dead.

Harsh, you say, recalling his undoubtedly beneficent charitable contributions to senior housing in Boston and exposing American Jewish youth to Israel?  

We think not.  

Adelson rose from humble origins by screwing
workers like these
Let us consider the other side of the ledger: the billions he spent to variously influence and bully two nations into screwing their most vulnerable residents: the poor and powerless in the United States and the Palestinians living in the territories occupied by Israel since 1967.

Adelson at his death was, to use the technical financial term, rich as s***, with a fortune estimated at not less than $35,100,000,000  (down from its high point of $40,100,000,000).  Despite that insane stack of gold bars, he devoted himself to screwing the poor and powerless workers at his two Vegas casinos and, unlike most other casino moguls, adamantly resisted their efforts to form a union, as is in fact their right under federal law.

In an effort to stop union protests outside his flagship Venetian casino on the Las Vegas strip, Adelson battled the culinary workers’ union in court for a decade, all the way to the supreme court. The battle ended with a loss for Adelson in his effort to silence the protests – but there’s still no union inside the casino.

Union leaders say that Adelson’s willingness and ability to wage scorched-earth legal and publicity campaigns against unions – not his generosity – are what have kept unions out of his properties. 

So what was he doing with the billions he trousered from exploiting his workers and capitalizing on the suckers feeding their life savings into his casinos?  

Spoiler alert: it wasn't pretty.

He spent more than $500,000,000 in the past decade to elect Republicans, including $25 million to the Traitor-in-Chief and $210 million in the 2020 election alone.  But for Adelson, a shrewd hard-nosed businessman, the dough wasn't a contribution; it was an investment with a handsome return.  Our economist friend Robert Reich explains what the dear departed got from the 2017 tax cut:

Republican donors will save billions — paying a lower top tax rate, doubling the amount their heirs can receive tax-free, and treating themselves as “pass-through” businesses able to deduct 20 percent of their income . . . .

They’ll make billions more as their stock portfolios soar because corporate taxes are slashed.

The biggest winners by far will be American oligarchs such as the Koch brothers; Peter Thiel, the Silicon Valley investor; Sheldon Adelson, the Las Vegas casino magnate; Woody Johnson, owner of the New York Jets football team and heir to the Johnson & Johnson fortune; and Carl Icahn, the activist investor.

The oligarchs are the richest of the richest 1 percent. They’ve poured hundreds of millions into the GOP and Trump. About 40 percent of all contributions for the entire federal election came from the richest 0.01 percent of the American population.

No one ever said Sheldon was bad at spotting promising investments, and the Republican Party, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the American plutocracy, has been one of his best.  He trousered the huge tax cuts, fought off a wealth tax that would have forced him to ante up a tiny portion of the untaxed gains from his casino billions, and blocked online gambling, a competitive threat to his neon and stucco palaces of legal grift.

Indeed, his loss is felt most keenly by the Republican politicians and mouthpieces he bought and paid for:

“The corporate giving backlash, along with the tragic passing of Sheldon Adelson, leaves a real void in the fund-raising plans for the 2022 cycle,” said Scott Reed, a veteran Republican strategist who has worked with the Adelsons and other major G.O.P. financiers.

Part of the concern for Republicans, Mr. Reed added, is that the Adelsons have been so singular a force in the party that there is no replacement. “A next generation of Sheldon-level giving does not readily exist,” he said.

The 2020 cycle was the biggest yet for the Adelsons. Together they gave about $217 million, with the largest portion, $90 million, going to a super PAC that supported President Trump’s re-election. They donated another $70 million to the Senate Leadership Fund, which was devoted to maintaining Republican control of the Senate, and $50 million to the main House Republican super PAC. 

In the words of freelance snowplow driver available for overnight work between Nashua and Concord Corey Lewandowski, “womp-womp.”

There's no doubt that the evil Sheldon perpetrated in his home country was awful.  At that, it was only a tablespoon of schmaltz compared to the toxic effect he had on the country he took over, Israel.  

Although not especially frum, Sheldon had decided to express his Jewish identity by supporting Israel, or more precisely, the cruel expansionist racist variety that envisions a Jewish state including all of the Occupied Territories, with the indigenous Palestinian population either exiled or living forever subject to dictatorial rule administered by hate-fueled settlers.

The reality-based pro-Israel organization J Street said in 2018:

To the president, what appears to matter far more than peace is the support and praise of billionaire backers like Adelson. It’s an open secret Adelson was feeling frustrated that, after almost a year in office, Trump had not yet fulfilled his promise to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. It’s also widely known that, while Adelson sometimes is described as a “strong supporter of Israel,” his political leanings and loyalties in Israel are almost exclusively with the Likud and other right-wing Israeli factions that fiercely oppose a two-state solution with the Palestinians. Adelson has consistently been a loud supporter and source of funds for expanding West Bank settlements and for holding on permanently to the occupied territory.  

Rejecting a two-state solution leaves Israel with but two options: a democratic state which will shortly lose its Jewish majority, or an undemocratic garrison state in which Palestinians are denied their right to vote (among others).   Guess which option Sheldon chose?  According to that well-known anti-Semitic hate sheet, the Forward:

Remember that Washington conference where, in November 2014, Adelson said, “[God] didn’t talk about Israel remaining as a democratic state… Israel isn’t going to be a democratic state — so what”? Still not convinced? Recall his constant warnings that the two-state solution would be “suicide” or “a stepping stone for the destruction of Israel and the Jewish people.” . . .

Yet Adelson’s rejection of a two-state solution is on its face a rejection of Israel’s democratic characteristics. What else can one call the plan of holding millions of Palestinians as stateless subjugates in perpetuity?

Adelson's legacy to Israel is easy to see
You can call it the official policy of Netanyahu, his fellow Likudniks, and the late Sheldon Adelson.

Here as well Sheldon put his money where his mouth was.  He extracted the parole of Jonathan Pollard, who passed on vital military secrets to the Israelis to be used as they saw fit and flew him back to Israel on Adelson's private jet.  He spent millions on a free Israeli newspaper used to promote Netanyahu and eternal subjugation of Palestinians.  He lavished $67 million to buy the residence of the U.S. Ambassador to Israel to make it harder for future American administrations to limit the fallout of hanging a sign on a consular building in Jerusalem that said “Embassy.”

At the very end of his life he broke with crooked Bibi, but his devotion to fighting a just and fair resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict never wavered, leaving peace as distant a prospect as at any time since the birth of the Zionist movement.

Condemning the American poor and working class to a crooked Republican plutocracy and Israelis and Palestinians to endless conflict, hatred, and justice is ample reason, we submit, to celebrate his death.

It's too bad that Adelson wasn't just a tad more interested in what God actually said.  He might have read the Yom Kippur Haftorah portion written by a well-regarded Jewish fellow named Isaiah:

They ask Me for the right way,

They are eager for the nearness of god:

“Why, when we fasted, did you not see?  When we starved our bodies, did you pay no heed?”

Because on your fast day you see to your business and oppress all your laborers!

Because you fast in strife and content and you strike with a wicked first! . .  . 

No this is the fast I desire:

To unlock fetters of wickedness, and untie the cords of “the yoke”

To let the oppressed go free; to break off every yoke.

It is to shared your bread with the hungry and to take the wretched poor into your home; . . .

Then shall your light burst through like the dawn and your healing spring up quickly; . . .

Then, when you call, the Eternal One will answer; . . .

Isaiah 58:3-9 (JPS Translation).

To which we can say “Amen.”  

But only if we the living dedicate ourselves to undoing the evil Sheldon Adelson has wrought.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

This not just in


By Isidore F. Stone, Spy Washington Bureau with
Meta-Content Generator A.J. Liebling

Told ya.

That seemed to be the consensus of every right thinking journalist in the wake of the Trumpistas' attempted insurrection at the U.S. Capitol Wednesday.   Here's one of Washington's most respected dispensers of Conventional Wisdom, Peter Baker of The New York Times:

WASHINGTON — So this is how it ends. The presidency of Donald John Trump, rooted from the beginning in anger, division and conspiracy-mongering, comes to a close with a violent mob storming the Capitol at the instigation of a defeated leader trying to hang onto power as if America were just another authoritarian nation.

The scenes in Washington would have once been unimaginable: A rampage through the citadel of American democracy. Police officers brandishing guns in an armed standoff to defend the House chamber. Tear gas deployed in the Rotunda. Lawmakers in hiding. Extremists standing in the vice president’s spot on the Senate dais and sitting at the desk of the speaker of the House.

The words used to describe it were equally alarming: Coup. Insurrection. Sedition. Suddenly the United States was being compared to a “banana republic” and receiving messages of concern from other capitals. “American carnage,” it turned out, was not what President Trump would stop, as he promised upon taking office, but what he wound up delivering four years later to the very building where he took the oath.

The convulsion in Washington capped 1,448 days of Twitter storms, provocations, race-baiting, busted norms, shock-jock governance and truth-bending prevarication from the Oval Office that have left the country more polarized than in generations. Those who warned of worst-case scenarios only to be dismissed as alarmists found some of their darkest fears realized. 

Who warned of these worst-case scenarios?  Say hi to Sarah Kendzior, who's written two prophetic books on just this subject.  According to that well-known Marxist rag, the Financial Times:

Only one rule remains valid about US politics in the age of Donald Trump: whenever it seemingly can’t shock any more, it does. Election campaign season is gripped by once unimaginable fears of violence, sabotage and a possible refusal by Trump to cede power if he loses.

This sorry state of affairs is also a vindication for Sarah Kendzior, one of the earliest writers to sound the alarm about how Trump would change America. Her trademark phrase is that the Trump administration is a “transnational crime syndicate masquerading as a government”. Such uncompromising language has won her fans, but also helped define her as a Cassandra, especially when many seemed willing to give a newly elected Trump the benefit of the doubt. 

Very special people

Hmm, who seemed willing to give a newly elected Trump the benefit of the doubt? Here's a New York Times report from January 27, 2017, the first week of the four year shitshow:

If other new occupants of the White House wanted to be judged by their first 100 days in office, President Trump seems intent to be judged by his first 100 hours. No president in modern times, if ever, has started with such a flurry of initiatives on so many fronts in such short order.

The action-oriented approach reflected a businessman’s idea of how government should work: Issue orders and get it done. But while the rapid-fire succession of directives on health care, trade, abortion, the environment, immigration, national security, housing and other areas cheered Americans who want Mr. Trump to shake up Washington, it also revealed a sometimes unruly process that may or may not achieve the goals he has outlined.

A sometimes unruly process?  An action-oriented approach?  That doesn't sound so bad.  Of course, when the unruly action the President incites is an armed invasion of the U.S. Capitol, maybe that's not so good.

Here's the New York Times assessment of the Tangerine-Faced Raver's first 100 days in office:

In his first 100 days in power, President Trump has transformed the nation’s highest office in ways both profound and mundane, pushing traditional boundaries, ignoring longstanding protocol and discarding historical precedents as he reshapes the White House in his own image.

But just as Mr. Trump has changed the presidency, advisers and analysts say it has also changed him. Still a mercurial and easily offended provocateur capable of head-spinning gyrations in policy and politics, Mr. Trump nonetheless at times has adapted his approach to both the job and the momentous challenges it entails.

As Washington pauses to evaluate the opening phase of the Trump presidency, the one thing everyone seems to agree on is that, for better or worse, the capital has headed deep into uncharted territory. On almost every one of these first 100 days, Mr. Trump has done or said something that caused presidential historians and seasoned professionals inside the Beltway to use the phrase “never before.”

. . . .

At the same time, he has cast off conventions that constrained others in his office. He has retained his business interests, which he implicitly cultivates with regular visits to his properties. He has been both more and less transparent than other presidents, shielding his tax returns and White House visitor logs from public scrutiny while appearing to leave few thoughts unexpressed, no matter how incendiary or inaccurate. And he has turned the White House into a family-run enterprise featuring reality-show-style, “who will be thrown off the island?” intrigue.

“His first 100 days is a reflection of how much the presidency has changed,” said Janet Mullins Grissom, a top official in President George Bush’s White House and State Department. “The biggest difference between President Trump and his predecessors is that he is the first president in my political lifetime who comes to the office unbeholden to any special interest for his electoral success, thus immune to typical political pressures.” 


Also known as "Mr. Republican"

These carefully nuanced accounts have one thing in common, apart from failing to give the reader the appropriate idea of the insane criminality, corruption, and sedition in the Loser-in-Chief Administration: they were all written by the same fella who told us on Wednesday that the Trump-incited attack on the U.S. Capitol was “unimaginable:” Peter Baker.

We don't mean to pick on him (yes, we do) because his failure to tell it like it is was shared broadly across the supposedly-mainstream media.  His great conventional-wisdom rival, Dan Balz, had a similar litany of comforting euphemisms in his 100-day Washington Post thumbsucker:

President Trump’s first 100 days in office have been a mix of signature setbacks and some successes, plus more turmoil than calm emanating from the West Wing of the White House and more division than a coming together in the country. The president and his advisers have been on a steep learning curve, and it has shown.

When Trump won his surprise victory in November, one big question was how he would govern. The answer, with some caveats, is that he has governed as he campaigned — unconventionally, unpredictably, in constant motion and unbowed in the face of criticism.

The presidency is an office that historically demands prudence and patience, two attributes not often used to describe the 45th president. The office also comes with constraints — the checks and balances created by the Founding Fathers, and the pressure to provide some semblance of continuity in foreign policy. It is not built for producing easily the kind of wholesale upheaval that Trump promised as a candidate, a fact that has frustrated him.

Extravagant campaign vows have run up against predictable obstacles. Trump has moved rapidly on many fronts, but the lack of a singular legislative accomplishment has gnawed at his advisers and makes efforts to create a more positive narrative challenging for the White House. That has left the president subject to criticism, and his advisers have been fighting back all week to make the case for higher-than-average grades.

Keep in mind by this point that the Grifter-in-Chief had already tried to impose a racist unconstitutional Muslim ban and his choice for National Security Adviser, madman Mike Flynn, had been outed as a Russian agent.  You'd think that such actions would really screw up your 100-day grade point average, but that's why they call it Risky Business.  

Ten days later, the Loser-in-Chief obstructed justice by firing Comey and Balz really tore him a new one: “By dismissing Comey on Tuesday, the president has significantly raised the stakes, for the Justice Department, the FBI and ultimately his own administration, to demonstrate that the investigation will continue to its rightful conclusion without interference.” 

Any updates?

Hello Ladies!

Mr. Eric Boehlert, proprietor of Press Run, asked a poignant question about this week's carnage at the Capitol:

It's hard to think about what might have been if the press had carried out its duties differently over the last four years — if the press had shown more courage and not allowed itself to be bullied by a mad man.

There were a few honorable exceptions.  The Boston Globe's Yvonne Abraham told anyone who would listen in 2016 that the next four years would be far worse than anyone expected.  Here's her column today:

Democrat Joe Biden will take the oath of office on Jan. 20, but the inciter-in-chief and his “wonderful supporters” — including the politicians and pundits who helped whip up the insurrection — will still be with us. What burst into the open over the last five years, the cult of white supremacy and white grievance and white entitlement — an unholy trinity leveraged by Republicans for tax cuts and federal judges and vote suppression — will remain.

Maybe they'll listen this time.

But the vast wasteland of coverage of the Tangerine-Faced Insurrectionist reminds us of an old Harvard Lampoon parody of Life magazine's supposed coverage of the impending end of the world.  In a roundup of the grim news, the anonymous Life editors intoned, “Even the normally staid New York Times called the apocalypse ‘apocalyptic.’”

If only it had.

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Happy New Year: the Red Menace back for a 121st season!

By Leo Frank, Southern Bureau Chief with
Emma Goldman, Social Affairs Editor

It's 2021.  America is gripped by death, disease, economic calamity, and Louie Gohmert.  What, according to the Republican Senators running for re-election in Georgia, is the greatest threat facing this prostrate nation?

You guessed it:

NORCROSS, Ga. — The biggest applause lines in Senator Kelly Loeffler’s stump speech are not about Ms. Loeffler at all.

When the crowd is most engaged, including Thursday morning at a community pavilion in suburban Atlanta, Ms. Loeffler invokes President Trump or attacks her Democratic opponents as socialists and Marxists. Her own policy platforms are rarely mentioned.

“Are you ready to keep fighting for President Trump and show America that Georgia is a red state?” Ms. Loeffler said when she took the microphone. “We are the firewall to stopping socialism and we have to hold the line.”

Once again, the specter of the Red Nightmare looms over an election that desperate Republicans fear with good reason they will lose.  Thirty years after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the liberation of its Baltic and Eastern European satellites, Republicans are still able to terrify (white) voters by claiming insanely that Democrats will usher in the Socialist apocalypse.

It's a frequent theme of ads from the Republicans' campaigns and their outside PAC's, including American Crossroads:

Loeffler's campaign has sought to portray Warnock as "a radical liberal." He is, according to Loeffler and groups including American Crossroads, a socialist, implying that he is therefore anti-American.

Jon Ossoff, a Democrat running against Republican Sen. David Perdue for the state's other Senate seat, has also been subject to similar claims of socialism and of being a threat to an unspecified "us" in ads by Perdue's campaign and outside backers.

You will of course hear Republicans claim they are shocked, shocked to discover that certain fringe elements of their party are stooping to such blatant fear-mongering.  So who's behind the American Crossroads Red smears?

Wait for it:

[Karl] Rove, the famed political consultant and former Bush administration official, is coordinating fundraising efforts for Republican U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler in her battle with Democrat Rev. Raphael Warnock and GOP U.S. Sen. David Perdue, who is fighting off a challenge from Democrat Jon Ossoff. The runoff election is Jan. 5.

So it stands to reason that American Crossroads, co-founded by Rove, is one of the earliest and biggest super PAC spenders on election advertising in the state. According to Federal Election Commission records, the group reported distributing almost $6 million just on Tuesday for television, radio and online ads in opposition to Warnock, the senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. 

Karl Rove? The man who engineered the “election” of George W. Bush as President and then served him loyally (by among other things, concealing his dirty tricks on his private email account, which as we all know is a capital offense)?  For it is he.

It's almost as if smearing Democrats as Socialists, whatever that means, has been a mainstream Republican political mugging for like forever.   That square-jawed figure above, later canonized as St. Ronald of Bitburg, rose to fame by inveighing against Medicare as “Socialism.”  And he didn't invent the false equivalency between government spending to ease the plight of the poor, like to keep them dying for lack of medical treatment, and Stalin's Gulag.

Here's a gem from the keynote address at the Republican convention of 1932, at which Republicans were finding it somewhat difficult to run on their record of economic ruin and human misery, as recorded in The New York Times, October 4, 1932 at 14:



Just in case you didn't understand to whom the Republicans were referring, President Hoover summed it up on November 1, 1932:

Spoiler alert:  His rival was Franklin D. Roosevelt, who won but did not bring Socialism to America.  (Apropos of nothing, remember how shocked Republicans were in 2020 when Democrats tried to make an issue of Republican domination of the Supreme Court?)

Now Socialism is actually a term with a meaning. You could look it up, not on a search engine or other super-spreader of disinformation.  It means advocacy of public control of the means of production, like industries and services. You may think that's a good or a bad idea, but that's what Socialism is.  It is the opposite of capitalism, not the opposite of democracy.   There is zero, zip, zilch evidence that either Jon Ossoff or Rev. Warnock support Socialism.

So what's all the fuss about?

From the torrents of bushwa flowing out of Republican mouths since 1932, you might think that Socialism was code for taking a dollar out of a billionaire's pocket to pay for a poor kid's school lunch, and you'd be right.

But that's not the whole story.  There's a whole second level of malice behind the Socialism slur that's been in wide circulations since the 1950's.  Here's lovable ax-handle wielding and future Governor of Georgia, of all places, Lester Maddox, who inveighed against the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as foisted upon upstanding white folks by “the Communists and the Communist-inspired agitators . . . that will enslave all Americans.”

Next door in South Carolina, those who sought to implement the long-delayed dismantling of schools illegally segregated by white racists were excoriated by by Republican stalwart Mendel Rivers: “He talks like a Communist . . . those of us who know him call him a commissar of integration.”

(R. Perlstein, Nixonland at 131, 136 (2008).)

Is it possible that when rich white Southern Republicans like Sen. Fembot throw around terms like “Socialism” to smear an opponent who just happens to be Black that she's really trying to mine the rich vein of white racism and anger?

Surely no one could take seriously the charge that a respected Black pastor was in fact the reincarnation of Karl Marx, right?

You know what the answer is:

The problem, though, is that the “socialism” narrative was never about actual socialism ― it was about culture, identity, and pushing back against the left more broadly. 

Socialism (Source: Illustrated
Republican Encyclopedia)

“What they were doing is waging culture war, and creating a kind of MAGA identity within certain subgroups in Miami-Dade,” [Political Consultant Carlos] Odio said. “‘Socialism’ is shorthand for a more multipronged attack. It’s not just about foreign policy. It’s not just economics. It’s also about culture, and it’s also about race.

The Trump campaign sensed that early on, too, and folded its arguments on other subjects ― the mask wars and nationwide racial justice protests, in particular ― into its broader anti-”socialism” campaign. And it filtered those to voters through a right-wing media ecosystem that could echo every argument it made with little pushback. 

In one Spanish-language ad, the Trump campaign argued that Democrats were “puppets of the radical left, a gang that prefers anarchy and chaos.” 

Ever since Republicans embraced white supremacy and racism as their path to victory half a century ago, the real meaning of “Socialism” in their attack ads is the specter of scary Black people doing terrifying things, like demanding racial justice after 400 years of pretty much the opposite.  

Will it work in Georgia on January 5?  

Are you willing to put up real money that it won't?