Saturday, July 30, 2022

Why We Can't Have Nice Things, Part II

By Adm. Husband Kimmel, USN (Ret.)
Defense Correspondent

This summer audiences have thrilled to the spectacle of the amazingly well-preserved Tom Cruise zooming around the sky in Top Gun II.  If you paid $18.95 for your ticket, $9.95 for a vat of popcorn, and $6.95 for a bladder-busting barrel of soda, you may think you paid richly for the experience of watching fighter planes zoom around.

That was the price you paid for fiction.  In reality, for the spectacle of the F-35 fighter not zooming around, you're on the hook for $1,270,000,000,000, according to the General Accounting Office, the green-eyeshade branch of Congress:


That's more than $1.2 trillion.  Seems like a lot of money to us.  The cliché is that a stack of $1 bills in that amount would reach beyond the Moon, although your stack may vary.

We'll talk about what else $1.2 trillion could represent later.  But first let's find out what that humongous pile is getting us:

WASHINGTON, July 29 (Reuters) - Concerns over defects in the explosive cartridges in pilot ejection systems aboard three U.S. military aircraft, including the F-35, forced a temporary halt to some U.S. operations in order to perform checks, the Air Force said on Friday.

"Our primary concern is the safety of our Airmen and it is imperative that they have confidence in our equipment," Major General Craig Wills, 19th Air Force Commander, said in a statement.

"This is a temporary stand-down, not a fleet-wide grounding," Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said in a statement about concern over "a component used in the pilot ejection system of several aircraft."

F-35 development has suffered a few setbacks

So we have a fighter plane that can't fly.  Seems like a problem to us, despite the Pentagon double-talk.

It's not as if before this week it had been blue skies for the plane, according to the GAO:

The F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter program began development in 2001 and remains DOD's most expensive weapon system program. Currently, the program is more than 8 years delayed and $165 billion over original cost expectations.

Eight years? Good thing we haven't had to deploy Top, Middle, or Bottom Gun since 2013. Otherwise, what would they fly, other than the F-22 and F-18 fighter jets currently used by our armed forces?

As a result, the plane is still not ready for full deployment (even before the discovery of the non-ejection seats).  One problem was that the video game used to train pilots was two years late:

In March 2021, we found that F-35 simulator delays continue to prevent DOD from completing initial operational testing and making a decision to move to full-rate production.

Maybe they could train the pilots on Flight Simulator?

You might think that if they can just fix the seats and put out the simulator, the plane will be cleared for take-off.

If you put $25 on that at 40-1 against, you lost:

According to program officials, the F-35 program had 864 open deficiencies as of June 2021, which is slightly lower than the 872 we reported in March 2021

Well, let's do some math. At the rate of of fixing three deficiencies a month, everything should be right as rain in only 288 months, or 2046.

Why not just pull the plug on the whole mess and rely on the 600 planes that have already been duct-taped together?  We don't know if the F-35 will ever make a difference on a battlefield (and neither does anyone else) but there's one place it makes a huge impact: the 50 United States, where the program, according to its lead contractor, Lockheed, represents 298,000 job and $65 billion of annual spending.

Lockheed is so proud of this gravy train that it provides a handy map to let every Senator and Representative know how many jobs are generated by the unflyable plane.  Here's an example, taken at random:




What are the chances that a Senator or Representative from Texas would pull the plug on 75,000 jobs and $12 billion of economic impact, whatever that is?

Now we don't know if stopping production at 600 would have any detrimental effect on national security.  For $1.27 trillion, you can get a lot of brass-hats and PR geniuses to conjure scenarios in which only the F-35 can protect us from swarms of fighters piloted by immigrants flying over the Rio Grande, or something.

Our point is tiny and simple: our resources are not inexhaustible.  If we spend $1.27 trillion on a plane that can't fly with 864 known deficiencies, we don't have $1.27 trillion to spend on defending ourselves from threats less theoretical than aerial battles over Dubuque against the Chinese Air Force.

For example, we have lost over one million lives in the past two years from pandemic disease.  Imagine if even a tiny portion of that F-35 jack was reprogrammed into preparing us for future pandemics, including stockpiling vaccines, treatments, and protective equipment, improving ventilation in schools and other public buildings, and implementing nationwide testing and tracing.

Anyone see a national security issue here?

Or we could use the money to defend ourselves against the imminent prospect of catastrophic climate change that in this century inundated New York and now threatens other low-lying cities like Miami and Boston with ruin.  You can buy a lot of renewable energy sources for $1.27 trillion, and maybe even have a little left over to harden our urban coastlines, although, to be fair, if Miami slipped beneath the waves, we wouldn't be all that heartbroken. 

Or we hear a lot about the plague of homelessness, by which rich people mean  the agony of having to look at homeless people camping out on city streets.  We know that lack of shelter is lethal.  What if we took money from the F-35 program and put it into the H-35,000 program, to build 35,000 units of affordable housing for the homeless?  We bet we could spread the loot around as well as Lockheed and even build nice maps showing how many jobs were thereby created in Texas or wherever.

Of course that can't happen because of the other reason we can't have nice things: racism, but that's been covered well elsewhere, including, mirabile dictu, in the New York Times Opinion pages.

The idea that spending on war and weapons can crowd out good things is hardly new.  Fifty years ago it was characterized as “guns v. butter,”  a pejorative phrase positing an obviously unthinkable tradeoff between national security (guns) and fripperies like butter.

After 50 years punctuated by several gruesome needless wars of choice, pandemic, and the catastrophe of climate change caused by uncontrolled global warming, now we know that in deciding how to spend $1.27 trillion, the choice is between national security (if not survival), on the one hand, and, on the other, loud props for the next Tom Cruise summer spectacular.

Maybe it's time to eject the F-35 and other ridiculously expensive weapons (why are we building new aircraft carriers by the way?  are we headed back to Guadalcanal?).  If only the eject button worked.

Saturday, July 23, 2022

We were right! (about Times bloviators that is)

By A.J. Liebling
Meta-Content Generator

Are the bloviating gasbags who write for the New York Times Opinion pages ever wrong?

Our readers know to respond: by asking whether you've ever seen a wild bear in a bathroom stall.  But in case you were wondering if their comical lack of self-awareness and reflection was a feature or a bug, now you know.  According to their editors, they are even better than you because they admit they are wrong.  Or to put it even more condescendingly,

It’s not necessarily easy for Times Opinion columnists to engage in public self-reproach [And why is that? – Ed.] , but we hope that in doing so, they can be models of how valuable it can be to admit when you get things wrong.

Oh thank you! They are graciously admitting that they have erred, transgressed, and done perversely, not to reclaim their vanished credibility or seek forgiveness, but to set an example that lesser mortals should emulate.

Where to begin?  Let's dip a toe into this cesspool of performative fake self-abasement with two of the least appalling columnists: the usually pretty good Michelle Goldberg and the once really good Gail Collins.  Goldberg thinks that she was wrong to advocate for the resignation of Al Franken before he had a chance to defend himself in the Senate against every woman he groped.  We're kind of +/- on this one, but more from the perspective of Franken being forced to resign while a rapist and sex offender sat in the White House who then whipped out another sex criminal for a seat on the Supreme Court.

As for Gail Collins, we remember her as a funny, acerbic critic of hypocrisy and misogyny.  But too many jolly colloquies with Bretbug (don't worry, we'll get to him) must have rotted her brain because she now admits she was wrong to keep busting Mitt Romney's chops for driving around with his dog caged on the roof of his car:

Gail Collins apologizes to Wilfred M. Romney

It was supposed to be an example of Romney’s sense of organization. Got that car and dog hosed down at a nearby service station.... 

He also, of course, supports Mitch McConnell and his party’s agenda. If you don’t agree with that, it’s hard to get all that nostalgic about what might have been. But the one lesson I take away from my Seamus period is that there are some things that are way worse than boring.

Of course, the anecdote about Romney's animal abuse wasn't to show how boring he was. It was an example of his utter lack of empathy, as demonstrated by his entire life dedicated to the remorseless pursuit of pelf and his political career marked by – an utter lack of empathy for those whose daddies were not presidents of a car company and his belief that the purpose of government was to enrich grotesquely wealthy s***s like him.

Let's see what the usual suspects are up to.  These are the boys who have been so wrong for so long about so much that it's hard to imagine which nuggets of wrongness they will mine from their rich lodes.

How about Iraq War shill Tom “Six-Months” Friedman?  From his Alexandria Library of errors, he pulls his prediction that China would become more open.  Because when you think of Tom Friedman's lifelong litany of witlessness, you think about China?

Let's move along to a guy who offers an entire Italian sandwich shop of clangers, David “Moral Mountain” Brooks.  Many, including the great Soledad O'Brien '86, have recalled his disquisition on the uneducated and their fear of Italian subs, 

but he goes in a different direction, and, frankly, we were gobsmacked.

He's not ready to admit that you don't need a trust fund or a Ph.D. to scarf down an Italian with pickles, onions, and hots but he does say

It took me a while to see that the postindustrial capitalism machine — while innovative, dynamic and wonderful in many respects — had some fundamental flaws. The most educated Americans were amassing more and more wealth, dominating the best living areas, pouring advantages into their kids. A highly unequal caste system was forming. Bit by bit it dawned on me that the government would have to get much more active if every child was going to have an open field and a fair chance. 

In other words, he now realizes that every single tenet of anti-government conservatism is – dead wrong. This is news from a guy who wrote in The Atlantic last year that he had reread all of his loony right-wing conservative tracts he had swallowed whole in grad school and found them even more brilliant than before, but we'll take it.

As long as he's being so candid, we'd suggest another wrong bit, embedded in his confession, that he can work on while waiting for his next sopprassata sub.  He appears to blame the grotesque disparities of wealth in America on the “most educated Americans.”

In doing so he repeats the error he's made before, which is to lump together highly educated pediatricians making maybe $200,000 a year and college professors or print journalists making less with the tiny plutocratic elite that trousers billions while tying their dogs to the roofs of their car.

The reason that working class and poor Americans are so wretched is not because primary-care doctors and professors are making just enough money to buy a small suburban house in Boston or New York.  It's because ruthless plutocrats like the Koch family have amassed billions and deploy a small portion of their undeserved wealth as bribes to Republican politicians to maintain the economic status quo.

By the way, when we worked in a financial firm we ran into lots of jamokes making at least tens of millions a year.  They didn't have for the most part fancy educations.  Some of them couldn't write a sentence.  But they were ruthless, street smart, good at brown-nosing and really interested in making a lot of money.  And they made each week what many MD's, including those with multiple Ivy League degrees, make a year.

But Brooks lumps tycoons and doctors together not because he doesn't understand the difference.  He does so because the professional class tends to vote Democratic and he finds it ironic or hypocritical that the progressives among them are somehow responsible for the plight of the poorest three quartiles.  It's not true, but he's been mining this incorrect observation for decades.  Maybe if we wait another 20 years, he's confess this error too.

At least Brooks is trying.  A little.  But for sheer effrontery and shameless b**tshitting under the guise of confessing error, let's wrap up with Gail Collins's favorite yakking partner: Bretbug, who confesses to being wrong when he correctly referred to supporter of the Orange-Haired Insurrectionist as “appalling.”

They're not appalling, according to Bretbug

The same week that the January 6 Committee featured video of these thugs invading the Capitol, bent on committing murder and destroying democracy, Bretbug claims he now sees how right they were:

[Tangerine-Faced Grifter] voters had a powerful case to make that they had been thrice betrayed by the nation’s elites. First, after 9/11, when they had borne much of the brunt of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, only to see Washington fumble and then abandon the efforts. Second, after the financial crisis of 2008, when so many were being laid off, even as the financial class was being bailed out. Third, in the post-crisis recovery, in which years of ultralow interest rates were a bonanza for those with investable assets and brutal for those without.

Oh, and then came the great American cultural revolution of the 2010s, in which traditional practices and beliefs — regarding same-sex marriage, sex-segregated bathrooms, personal pronouns, meritocratic ideals, race-blind rules, reverence for patriotic symbols, the rules of romance, the presumption of innocence and the distinction between equality of opportunity and outcome — became, more and more, not just passé, but taboo.

Point one: if you felt betrayed by Republicans who conned you into the Iraq War, why would you vote Republican now?  (A similar stupid point was made 50 years ago to justify hard-hats beating anti-war protesters).

Point two is incorrect as a matter of economics.  Low interest rates helped the less affluent by making homes, cars, boats, and anything else financed by debt more affordable.  Low interest rates hurt rich a**holes with big investments in fixed-income securities by reducing the expected level of income they receive.  (It's possible though that TFG's rich supporters were browned off by this, although those low rates generally helped them by propping up the stock market and their strip-and-flip debt-laden private equity scams).

As for point three, it's not even wrong.  First, the only cultural revolution we remember in the 2010's was the reality of a Black President, which blew the minds of white racist TFG supporters.  LGBTQ rights, as Bretbug is well aware, have been a front-burner social issue since the Stonewall riot a half-century ago.  Opposing those rights has been a reliable Republican tool to rile up their reactionary base that whole time.

What could Bretbug even be referring to by “the rules of romance?“  Are those the rules that were followed by hopeless romantics like Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer, Bill “Throw Wifey Down the Stairs” O'Reilly, and innumerable other powerful white male letches?  

The Twitterati have a few thoughts that we can't improve upon:

Yeah that's it.

By the way if Bretbug really wanted to admit error, he could have recalled his effort to cancel the job of a man who dared make the “Bretbug” joke. That professor still has his job and Bretbug's number:

We think there's at least one other explanation for Bretbug's regret at properly characterizing TFG supporters as appalling. As the above passage from his confession implies, there is no material distinction between his views and theirs. Their intolerance, their bigotry, their sneering dismissal of any challenges to the white male order are his. If they are appalling, so is he. (Spoiler alert: he is!) We suspect it was that uncomfortable realization that prompted his confession.

What can we conclude from this tendentious lying piece of crap?  

Easy: when it comes to the New York Times Opinion columnists and their inability to see or admit or correct properly their innumerable errors and misjudgments: we were right!

Being right feels great.  We can think of a few gasbags who might someday give it a try.

Saturday, July 16, 2022

How to focus your words on the story - more journalism for beginners

 By A.J. Liebling
Meta-Content Generator

If you're writing a news story it can really help you if you figure out what the story is about.  This sure-fire technique is known as “focus.”

To see what happens when you don't focus on the real story, let's take a look at a few recent examples from America's media titans.

Here's one: with climate change accelerating, and Europe boiling alive due to unprecedented heat, the failure of the Democratic plan to do something about our fatal addiction to fossil fuel was important news.  So far, so good.  Here's how it was first reported in The New York Times:

How is it that one Senator can frustrate the will of the President and presumably the entire Senate?  Is that what happened?

Umm, no.

By day two the Times admitted that Maserati Joe didn't do this all by himself.  He had some helpers.  To be more precise, he had 50 of them:

WASHINGTON — President Biden bowed to political realty on Friday, conceding that he had been unable to persuade a holdout coal-state Democrat — and any Republicans in the Senate — to back what had been his greatest hope to confront the climate crisis. 

In the words of Emily Litella, that's different.  The real story is that the entire Republican Party, with as far as we know no exceptions, even from supposed heroes like Liz “Torture Girl” Cheney, has decided to do everything possible to encourage global warming and the ensuing catastrophes. 

Whether this is due to their dependence from coal-dark money from polluting titans like Koch Industries, a bent libertarianism that holds that government has no role in building roofs to protect us from rain, or just blind opposition to anything Democrats propose is ultimately irrelevant.

The key point is that our planet is not threatened solely by some schmuck from West Virginia.  It's an entire political party devoted to destruction of our democracy and our planet.  The word Republican makes a second appearance deep in the story, which portrays the result as another Biden failure.  Not a single Republican is interviewed.  (Was Wilfred M. Romney busy tying his dog to the roof of his car?) Nor is there any discussion of whether their implacable opposition to saving our planet will be a midterm winner or loser.  It's all framed as another Biden/Democratic failure.

By the way, you don't have to take our word for it.  You could ask America's best reporter, Jane Mayer:

Let's turn to another horrifying story from the week's news: the attempt to smear news media for truthfully reporting that a pregnant 10-year-old rape victim had to flee to Indiana to get the abortion she was denied in Ohio.  There are two important points here: one, the horrors inflicted on this child and two, the relentless smear campaign orchestrated by the media arm of the Republican Party, Rupert Murdoch's bent cable channel and business newspaper.

So how did this play?  Let's turn to another supposed lion of modern journalism, The Washington Post:

His focus on the fact that the Indianapolis Star's original account was based on – the statement of the doctor who performed the abortion.  That seems like a pretty reliable source, in the absence of anything that would cast doubt on her credibility, like, we don't know, past service in a Republican Administration.  But not to Ace Fact Checker Glenn Kessler:

With news reports around the globe and now a presidential imprimatur, however, the story has acquired the status of a “fact” no matter its provenance. If a rapist is ever charged, the fact finally would have more solid grounding.

Be like Aloy and focus!

Of course, journalists rely on reliable sole sources every single day.  Or even not so reliable sources, like the police.  Watch your local news tonight and count the times you hear something along the lines of “According to police...”

Kessler didn't find worthy of focus the effort by Murdoch's media to smear the victim, the doctor, and anyone pointing out that the disaster was the entirely foreseeable outcome of the Supreme Court's law-free demolition of the right to safe, legal abortion.  

To be fair to the media, others, including the formidable Erin Gloria Ryan in The Daily Beast, did focus on the real point:

Rather than facing the cruel reality of their ideological position cheerleading no-exceptions abortion bans, members of the conservative media decided collectively that the story couldn’t be real. They set out to prove that the doctor was a liar, and that pro-choice people had made the whole thing up.

From the unhinged ramblings of Just Asking Questions lipstick-toothed bloggers to Fox News primetime to a Wall Street Journal editorial that accused abortion rights proponents of amplifying “an abortion story too good to verify”—the right-wing media septic tank was giddy to prove its point. In their telling, the left was just making shit up and the whole sob story of a pregnant 10-year-old was...a “fanciful” argument meant to make a post-Roe America seem much more barbaric than it actually was.

See how easy it is to focus on what's important? 

By the way, in response to waves of withering criticism of his pisspoor “fact check,” Kessler told his his critics basically LALALALALALALALA:

This is consistent with the proud boasts of other hacks raked over the coals for their hot takes. Here's Megan “Kiddie Suicide Squads” McArdle, who also graces the Post's editorial page:

Once again, Ms. McArdle fails to attain the standard set by the proverbial stopped clock.  If you are being trolled online because you are a woman and/or you express views displeasing to hateful highly-armed white men living in their mom's basements, you are entitled both to legal protection and to enforced moderation by the proprietors of whatever online platform you publish on.

If on the other hand you are being criticized for your pisspoor dangerous views (like claiming that the best answer to gun massacres in schools is to train kiddie suicide squads), the answer, applicable to Megan, Glenn, Kevin Dowd's sister, and other galaxy brains, is to stop publishing garbage and start focusing on what's important.

Try it – it works!

STOP PRESS: At deadline the aforementioned fan of kiddie suicide squads, Megan McCardle, told us we shouldn't worry about pregnant 10-year-olds because lots of times the child rape victim could be as old as 14 and that's not so bad:

Sunday, July 10, 2022

A Field Guide to Republicans and Other Wild Pests

By David Bloviator
Political Editor

America is reeling from at least three mortal threats: to women, to anyone choosing to venture outside to enjoy, for example, a Fourth of July Parade, and to democracy itself.  The fourth threat – a fatal pandemic that claimed over one million lives in two years – appears to be less grave, not because of a continuing effective government and social response, but because vaccines and treatment have lowered mortality rates to a mere 300 lives a day, or three 9/11's a month.

Each of these grave threats to the body and the body politic has one primary cause: Republicans.  They packed the Supreme Court with extremist reactionaries, at least two of whom are sex offenders.  They stopped all efforts to take high powered weapons of war out of the hands of losers and misfits (not to mention their parents).  And they, with a few exceptions that we'll now turn to, have been actively promoting or at best complicit in the destruction of American democracy and its replacement with a fascist plutocracy.

Whom do you persuade first?

That one political party has been behind so much cruelty and violence has led to two wrong conclusions.  First, of course, it's all the fault of Democrats for – who knows?  Maybe it's not enacting the entire progressive agenda despite a lack of a working Senate majority.  Maybe it was not writing an abortion rights statute during the three months in 2009 when they could have done so, but chose to pass health care instead.  Or maybe they're too “woke,” which is used by conservatives and gasbags as a more pleasing description than “opponent of bigotry.”

It's too hot to squeeze down all those rabbit holes today, so we'll turn to the second conclusion: we need to understand and propitiate Republicans, the ones who are doing this to us.

One prong of this love-the-good-ones campaign is an outbreak of support for soon to be ex-Representative Liz “Torture Gal” Cheney, who has had more success raising money from Democrats in California than she has persuading her own s***-kicking constituents to vote for her:

... one of the nation’s biggest Democratic donors, the film producer Jeffrey backing a surprise candidate: Representative Liz Cheney, the staunchly conservative Wyoming Republican.

“We agree on little, if anything,” Mr. Katzenberg said in an interview. “But she has...put her country over party and politics to stand in defense of our Constitution.” ...

To help Ms. Cheney bolster her chances in Wyoming’s upcoming Republican primary — she is facing a Trump-backed opponent — Mr. Katzenberg and his wife have donated more than $43,000 to her campaign and groups supporting her. ...

Mr. Katzenberg is one of a number of Democrats and independents who are crossing ideological lines to support Ms. Cheney,... 

A supporter of Mr. Trump for almost the entirety of his term, Ms. Cheney — who opposes abortion, supports conservative judges and wants to expand mining and energy drilling even in environmentally sensitive areas — voted in line with him 93 percent of the time....

Now it really makes no difference whether rich idiots like Katzenberg want to shower a few bucks on Liz Cheney.  It's not going to prevent him from gut-restoring his $20 million Tribeca loft or his $35 million Nantucket teardown.

But it does point to a larger campaign to ignore the grossly evil positions of reactionary whack jobs like Liz Cheney, who is perfectly happy to legally suppress votes to maintain Republican power, as long as it can be done without pooping in Statuary Hall (and thanks to generations of Republican election- and court-rigging success, it can).

The campaign is pursued by anti-Tangerine Faced Grifter Republicans seeking to return the Grand Old Party to its roots – like invading countries for no reason and ensuring that all rewards in society flow to where they belong: the top 1% in income and wealth, who are predominantly, by coincidence, white men.

Here's former Iraq warmonger Max Boot:

Maybe that's all that matters to Max Boot, but to the 13-year-old girl who had to drive 1,000 miles to terminate a six-week pregnancy, we bet other things matter too. And there's no reason to venerate much less appease a prairie extremist who lacks any regard for the plight of that girl and the tens of millions of women who have lost any reasonable access to abortion due to some not very democratic decision making by a Republican-bent Supreme Court.

Similar thoughts were offered by another member in good standing of the now-disbanded Iraq Hot Air Force, Jennifer Rubin, who is pursuing the Brooksian fantasy of a centrist aggregation of Democrats (who will give up on every core issue, including keeping the Earth from broiling us all and giving the poor some modest support) and Republicans like her, who will be graciously pleased to receive their entreaties.

She cites approvingly one idiot Democrat in a purple district who is trying to run on a third party that would “attract” support from supposedly influential Republicans like Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, neither of whom could survive a Republican primary in their own districts.  That'll work and then together we can climb the Moral Mountain to the Brooksian paradise where the sensible centrists rule, the unwashed enjoy their soprassata subs, and the wives are always 35 and comely.

Or maybe start here?

Maybe these people need to take a harder look at the species whose behavior they are trying to predict.  Why is it the case that almost all Republicans espouse and support extremist positions, up to and including the destruction of American democracy?  Let's ask long-time Washington pundit Mark Leibovich, who's got an entertaining new book on this topic:

...far more compelling to me—are the slavishly devoted Republicans whom T---- drew to his side... Without the complicity of the Republican Party, Donald T---- would be just a glorified geriatric Fox-watching golfer. I’ve interviewed scores of these collaborators, trying to understand why they did what they did and how they could live with it. These were the McCarthys and the Grahams and all the other busy parasitic suck-ups who made the T---- era work for them, who humored and indulged him all the way down to the last, exhausted strains of American democracy....

Did [Kevin] McCarthy want Trump to run? His look got even dirtier. “I think it’s a long way away.”...

McCarthy will not be winning any Profile in Courage Award anytime soon. In fairness, that could make him a good fit for the cowardly caucus he is so eager to lead.

Soon enough, 2024 will not be a long way away, and T---- is well positioned to claim his third consecutive Republican presidential nomination. Again, T---- will do as he pleases and take what he can take. Because really, who’s going to stop him?

So to Leibovich the answer is cowardice:  Republicans line up to polish the Former Loser's Grifter's taint because they are spineless and addicted to power. That's certainly part of it, but we think the rot goes deeper, if that is possible, along two axes. 

First, there is no reason to think that any Republicans disagree with the FLG on any issue other than staging a coup. The rest of the angry, bigoted, corrupt, pro-rich drivel is more than OK with them; it's what Republicans have stood for since 1964. Second, they are cowards because they know the Republican base agrees with the FLG on such drivel. Their voters like the racism, the hate, the incitement to violence, and perhaps most all the impunity.

Uh, you go first

So it's not just cowardice or even a supposed cult of personality.  To understand Republicans, you have to understand their racism, their anger, their love of violence, their contempt for any institution that stands in the way of white privilege, up to and including the United States Government.  That's who they are, and if you want to appeal to that, let us know how that worked out for you.  

(Incredibly enough, that is the prescription offered by even hackier Joe Klein, who reviews Leibovich's catalogue of FLG outrages and Republican boot looking and concludes we need to work harder to reach out to these very fine people!)

There is an alternative of course: instead of selling out every Democratic goal to appeal to the 17 Republicans who are willing to depart from the Republican agenda 1% of the time, we could persuade our own base, and the great alienated middle, that they have a stake in the fight to save our democracy, our schoolchildren, our planet, and our daughters.  That's what Mr. Abe Lincoln did.   If a few Republicans join at least one of these causes, good for them.

But appealing to the elusive Republican “moderates” by forsaking key Democratic ideals, like a country free from weapons of mass murder, will undoubtedly work out as well as it did for Aiden McCarthy.  Thanks to decades of Republican opposition to an assault weapons ban, on July 4, he was  the two-year-old boy orphaned in the Highland Park gun massacre. 

Remember that your new best friend, Liz Cheney, was OK with that.