Monday, July 31, 2023

First Term a Dry Run

The key word is "military." Miles "Anonymous" Taylor makes a good point, then a very important one when he remarks

Post 9/11, we got really, really good at counterterrorism. What do I mean by that?

Watch-listing bad guys, going after them with lethal force and tacking them. And we wanted to use tools against migrants. And so I had people telling me about how in a second term, Trump would designate migrant groups as foreign terrorist organizations. he would deploy the military and give them authorization to use lethal force. Really shocking things that again, I have to be clear are not legal for President of the United States to do.

That doesn't line up well with  the Constitution, statutes, or tradition  As Miles continues, the key word is "forces." 

But beyond the border, a number of officials who were there until the end of the Administration, long after I had left, said that Trump had an interest in deploying US counterterrorism forces into US cities, especially Democratic cities, to exert control. 

We saw a sample of that in Portland during the riots in Portland. But I had one official tell me in a second term that Donald Trump would deploy DHS forces to the polls during elections to try to intimidate voters- in other words to scare Democratic voters away from the polls. And we've seen a sample of that with so-called poll watchers in places like Arizona, showing up with weapons.

When Donald Trump talks about the "Deep State," he's projecting onto others his own plans: the military against migrants; Department of Homeland Security officers to ensure no Democrat gets elected to any significant position, including a potential third Trump term (whatever the Constitution proscribes).  

It's not as if Trump hasn't given much thought to this. Thom Hartmann has written of

Trump’s first run at following in his mentor (and possibly owner) Vladimir Putin’s footsteps and becoming America’s first dictator involved corrupting the Department of Justice, gaining the loyalty of the nation’s oligarchs with a massive tax cut and numerous corrupt government no-bid contracts, and gutting federal regulatory agencies.

But then there is the military. Trump

succeeded in getting his “acting” defense secretary, Chris Miller, to turn down the acting Secretary of the Army’s (Ryan McCarthy) request for National Guard troops to protect the US Capitol against the violent mob McCarthy’s intelligence people saw forming on social media in the weeks between Trump’s December tweet and January 6....

Trump’s first run at following in his mentor (and possibly owner) Vladimir Putin’s footsteps and becoming America’s first dictator involved corrupting the Department of Justice, gaining the loyalty of the nation’s oligarchs with a massive tax cut and numerous corrupt government no-bid contracts, and gutting federal regulatory agencies.

What he hadn’t counted on was that the military would stop him.

He succeeded in getting his “acting” defense secretary, Chris Miller, to turn down the acting Secretary of the Army’s (Ryan McCarthy) request for National Guard troops to protect the US Capitol against the violent mob McCarthy’s intelligence people saw forming on social media in the weeks between Trump’s December tweet and January 6.

At the possible request of the White House or his assistant, Kash Patel, Miller issued a memo explicitly saying the Guard, for January 5-6 only, was:

— Not authorized to be issued weapons, ammunition, bayonets, batons, or ballistic protection equipment such as helmets and body armor.

— Not to interact physically with protestors, except when necessary in self-defense or defense of others.

— Not to employ any riot control agents.

— Not to share equipment with law enforcement agencies.

— Not authorized to use Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) assets or to conduct ISR or Incident, Awareness, and Assessment activities in assistance to Capitol Police.

— Not allowed to employ helicopters or any other air assets.

— Not to conduct searches, seizures, arrests, or other similar direct law enforcement activity.

— Not authorized to seek support from any non-DC National Guard units.

As a result, Trump nearly succeeded in decapitating the federal government by having Vice President Pence and House Speaker Pelosi assassinated by his militia buddies. Combined with a proclamation of a state of emergency, allowing him to completely repudiate Posse Comitatus, Trump could have become America’s Putin in a matter of hours.

What prevented him was resistance from the military itself, which appears to be why Trump was trash-talking Joint Chiefs’ head General Milley when he was showing off top-secret Iran war plans to reporters at Bedminster. He knows how close he came to overthrowing our democracy, and is still bitter and angry that Milley refused to go along with him.

Next time he won’t make that mistake. His first step in office will be to replace the Joint Chiefs and secretaries of the military branches with “acting” (no Senate confirmation) men who will do his bidding, no questions asked.

He’s already telling us this: six months after he left office he was still calling for Milley’s head.

His second step will be to follow through on what General Michael Flynn was pretty much begging him to do on January 6: declare a national state of emergency, freeze government functions, and suspend elections.

And then in what is ostensibly about abortion policy in the military

Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville is waging an unprecedented campaign to try to change Pentagon abortion policy by holding up hundreds of military nominations and promotions, forcing less experienced leaders into top jobs and raising concerns at the Pentagon about military readiness....

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has said that holding up the promotion of military leaders, most of whom have dedicated their lives to protecting the country, “is one of the most abominable and outrageous things I have ever seen in this chamber, witnessed by the fact that no one has ever had the temerity, the gall to do this before.”

This is about abortion, but it's also about the military. The more promotions held up, the more promotions the next President- who could be Donald Trump- will be able to make. At the very least, Tuberville is showing Republicans a way in which a President Trump can fill more vacancies. And if there are enough military officials who, unlike General Milley, will not question an order from the President of the USA,  

If likely Republican nominee Donald Trump becomes President again, there probably will be no need for an attempted coup or insurrection as was seen on January 6, 2021. Local, state, and federal law enforcement will do as expected and the military will play a prominent role. It's what Trump planned to do if re-elected in 2020, and he won't waste any time establishing authoritarian rule.

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Twenty Seconds

It now has been well over 24 hours and we still don't know what precipitated the incident in which

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell suddenly stopped speaking during a weekly Republican leadership news conference Wednesday afternoon, appearing to freeze, and then went silent and was walked away.

McConnell, R-Ky., had been making his opening remarks about an annual defense policy bill when he stopped talking. He was silent for 19 seconds. His Republican colleagues asked whether he was OK, and a top McConnell deputy, Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, a physician, escorted McConnell, 81, away from the cameras and reporters.

Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa made a hand gesture that initially appeared to resemble the sign of the cross. Her office later clarified that she was motioning for Senate Minority Whip John Thune of South Dakota.


Dr. Corey Abair of the CBS affiliate in Slidell, Louisiana on Wednesday explained

So at this point what he probably had is called a TIA or transient ischemic attack. It's like of like a mini stroke but the other thing he could have had is what is called an "absent seizure" and that's a seizure like a staring spell and it's not a full seizure where you shake. It is just something where you kind of tune out for about three to four seconds and then you come right back.

The fact that he's back and they didn't rush him to the hospital thinking that he may have had a stroke means it may been an absent seizure.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, absent "seizures happen suddenly, without warning, usually lasting fewer than 20 seconds, and are more common in children than adults." Even if McConnell did not suffer this, however, he may have suffered from a different kind of seizure. Or he may have had a mini-stroke.

If Republicans are smart- as they usually are- we will never know. Tactically, the wise move is not to send McConnell to the hospital or if they do, simply refuse to release the diagnosis or lie about it.

It worked for Donald Trump. Recall when in 2018 presidential physician Ronny Jackson "gushed about President Donald Trump’s health during a briefing before the White House press corps on Tuesday, touting the President’s 'good genes,' how he did 'exceedingly well' on his cognitive test and his 'excellent' cardiac health." He maintained "it's just the way God made him."  Jackson was later found to have " berated employees, made sexual comments about a female subordinate, and violated the policy for drinking alcohol on a presidential trip."

In the interim, Jackson became a United States Representative. Trump now is the leading candidate for the GOP nomination to serve another term as President, and any comparisons to McConnell include the names of Joe Biden, Dianne Feinstein, and John Fetterman with nary a word about Trump. The "it's not the crime, it's the cover up" bromide is turned on its head. 

Democratic colleagues of McConnell, who also assure us that GOP senators don't like Donald Trump but must cater to an irrational voter base, won't question the Minority Leader's health. Neither will most MSNBC commentators. A few hours after the incident, Nicole Wallace, probably the second most popular personality on cable television's liberal, non-progressive network, remarked "I wish him well. I wish no ill health on any human being in the arena or outside of it. And if this were Joe Biden, there would be impeachment proceedings underway for sentence interruptus.”

There may be something in between calling for the impeachment of Mitch McConnell and letting him slide by wishing him well and moving on to Wallace's next daily, two-hour episode of "How Satanic Donald Trump Ruined a Great Republican Party." (Actually, Wallace has a little perspective; colleague Joe Scarborough, none.)

Wallace and others could continue self-affirming virtue signaling or instead actually commit journalism, beginning with running the full clip of the 20-second period in which Minority Leader McConnell stood silent. Earth to Wallace: this is what Fox News would do if Joe Biden had suffered a setback and stopped talking or moving for 20 seconds. The President's approval rating would plummet. 

Fox News still can't get enough of video of Joe Biden recently tripping over a sandbag left on the stage at the Air Force Academy graduation by the elite Secret Service. Merely overlooked, of  course.

If Republicans bury this incident, Democratic politicos should take a take a page from the GOP's playbook. If your loved one, or your liked one, suffered an episode similar to the one experienced by McConnell, you'd take him or her to a medical facility. If the GOP announces that McConnell has seen qualified medical personnel, the Senator would deserve sympathy and support from everyone. In the absence of that, it's a serious and significant cover-up and should be treated as such. 


Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Haley and China

There has been among Republican presidential candidates, arguably, no two more frequent criticism of "socialism"  than the degenerates from South Carolina. Here she is waving the flag of capitalism:

And later that day:

In the video below, Haley (at 2:58) gives the edited version of a stump speech when she remarks

And whether is is looking at the fact that they have spy balloons going across our country. Whether it is the fact that they bought 400,000 acres of U.S. soil next to our sensitive military installations, the fact that they're sending fetanyl across our border, putting propaganda and sending millions of dollars to our universities or that they have Chinese companies lobbying Congress on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party, you look now and they've really strengthened their military, they're stealing 600 billion dollars worth of intellectual property from us every year.


There is some truth to Haley's accusations. While her remark about fetanyl is largely accurate, her charge about Chinese propaganda in schools is exaggerated, though the matter is concerning. The "spy balloons" were one balloon, which was shot down, allowing debris it contained to be analyzed by American intelligence. Further, the Pentagon maintains "it has been our assessment now that it did not collect while it was transiting the United States or overflying the United States?" (Does that mean "flying over?")

Chinese ownership of land in the USA is a looming threat, one only beginning to get the attention it deserves. However, it is not "they," by which Haley is strongly implying the Chinese government. Instead

Chinese ownership of U.S. land is highly concentrated. USDA data obtained by NPR show more than 80% held by Smithfield Foods and billionaire San Guangxin, through Brazos Highland Properties LP and Harvest Texas LLC.

Brazos, with headquarters in Houston, is primarily a real estate operation and Smithfield Foods is, appropriately, a food company located in Smithfield, Virginia.

Chinese law allows Beijing to get access to all information from individuals or companies, so land owned in the USA by Chinese individuals or companies is nearly as serious a threat as were it owned directly by their government.

Nonetheless, there is different- especially with the American companies involved- than ownership directly by the Chinese government. But Haley would rather condemn the Chinese government than the Chinese companies who are- through American capitalists- buying farmland in the USA, sometimes close to military installations.

Admittedly, the former Ambassador to the United Nations probably is more concerned with infiltration by the Chinese than is any other GOP presidential candidate. However, she is even more eager to deride "socialism"-  whatever that is in the context of the mixed economy we sometimes enjoy here- and to promote capitalism.

Neither applauding "capitalism" nor slamming mainland China poses any risk for a Republican running for President. There is, however, one bold move that the anti-China Haley could take to prove there is a there behind her rhetoric.

The former South Carolina governor could call for banning Tik Tok from the country. That would eliminate a major national security threat, simultaneously strike a blow against the emotional and mental deterioration of young Americans, and eliminate a major and dangerously effective means of disinformation.

Haley won't do it, of course. She'll avoid an obvious means of defanging the Butchers of Beijing for the same reason other Republicans, and Democrats, avoid addressing this hazard to honest political discourse, American youth and society. Some TikTok users vote, although probably at a considerably lower rate than other citizens. Also, "capitalism."

Ignoring the menace of this particularly malevolent social media platform is a bipartisan shortcoming.  Downplaying the jeopardy posed by mainland China also is bipartisan, though Democrats do so more brazenly. However, dishonest ranting and raving about "socialism" is a peculiarly Republican defect, and one not limited to to the Trump-DeSantis authoritarian wing of the GOP.


Monday, July 24, 2023

Tough Guy

A real stand-up guy.

 Written by four individuals, none of them named "Aldean" is  the controversial country music song, "Try That in a Small Town," performed by Jason Aldean.

Sucker punch somebody on a sidewalk

Car jack an old lady at a red light
Pull a gun on the owner of a liquor store
Ya think it's cool, well, act a fool if ya like
Cuss out a cop, spit in his face
Stomp on the flag and light it up
Yeah, ya think you're tough

Well, try that in a small town
See how far ya make it down the road
'Round here we take care of our own
You cross that line, it won't take long
For you to find out, I recommend you don't
Try that in a small town

Got a gun that my granddad gave me
They say one day they're gonna round up
Well, that shit might fly in the city, good luck

Well, try that in a small town
See how far ya make it down the road
'Round here we take care of our own
You cross that line, it won't take lon
For you to find out, I recommend you don't

Try that in a small town
Full of good ol' boys, raised up right
If you're looking for a fight
Try that in a small town
Try that in a small town

Try that in a small town
(See how far ya make it down the road)
'Round here we take care of our own
You cross that line, it won't take long
For you to find out, I recommend you don't
Try that in a small town
Try that in a small town, mm-mm

Try that in a small town

Greg Price, a self-described "Philly guy" tweeter with over 296,000 alleged "followers," evidently loved the song celebrating small towns and bashing big cities (not in that order). He labeled it "an absolutely epic music video" which "rips into the left-wing riots, soft on crime governance in cities, gun control, and other leftist degradation." A real Philly guy, that fella.

But while some country music fans reveled in the obviously violent imagery and belligerence, Aldean

responded to the criticism in his latest tweet, denying claims of prejudice and what he called “pro lynching” themes.

“These references are not only meritless, but dangerous,” he wrote on Twitter. “There is not a single lyric in the song that references race or points to it- and there isn’t a single video clip that isn’t real news footage -and while I can try and respect others to have their own interpretation of a song with music- this one goes too far.”

He continued, saying the song is supposed to be a call for unity.

“My political views have never been something I’ve hidden from, and I know that a lot of us in this Country don’t agree on how we get back to a sense of normalcy where we go at least a day without a headline that keeps us up at night. But the desire for it to- that’s what this song is about.”

Oh yes, "normalcy" and unity because "(I) got a gun that my granddad gave me. They say one day they're gonna round up. Well, that shit might fly in the city, good luck... See how far ya make it down the road." 

That's before we blow your head off- or at least before we threaten to do it before backing down. Aldean is as much a virtue signaler as all those guys and gals who donned baseball-style caps adorned with "NYPD" after the terrorist attacks of 9/11/01 and mysteriously lost them after the first few years. when it no longer was cool.

We don't even know whether the incidents portrayed actually occurred in the USA but stoking anger is the point, anyway. It might appear hypocritical that the official video to lyrics including "cuss out a cop, spit in his face, stomp on the flag and light it up" includes various scenes of apparent urban violence while omitting anything from January 6, 2021.

Hypocritical but hardly surprising for Jason Aldine, who was Jason Aldine Williams until he changed his name because, of course, small town values. He was born in 1977 in the Georgia city of Macon, whose population at the time was something north (apologies to Aldean for the word) of 116,000. Hoping to make it big in country music, he later moved to the small town of Nashville. There (and in Gatlinburg), he currently owns one restaurant and is co-owner of another. Forbes estimates that he presently pulls down an annual income of $43.5 million, roughly the average in small towns.

Williams, or rather Aldine, is a prime example of the sort of individual the late, New York City-based conservative radio talk show host Bob Grant would frequently label "a fake, a phony, and a fraud."  Right-wing politics might be the only thing real about a profane guy posing as a down home, good ole boy while a member of the privileged 1%- and who won't even stand up and defend his own words.


Saturday, July 22, 2023

A Sorry Episode

The controversy engendered by the adoption by the Florida Board of Education of new standards for teaching African-American history in schools has exposed ugliness, obvious and hidden, about race in the USA.

Noting the numerous sections which evidently aim to highlight the horrors of slavery and the contribution of African-Americans to the USA, the National Review's Charles W. Cooke argues "there is simply no way of perusing this course and concluding that it 'gaslights' people or whitewashes slavery." 

Yet, the "clarification" reading "instruction includes acts of violence perpetrated against and by African Americans" suggests that violence committed by black slaves was in some way comparable to violence inflicted upon them.  Another clarification, "instruction includes how slaves developed skills which in some instances could be applied for their personal benefit," implies that there may have been a positive side to slavery.  Don't go there. These are bad.

Perhaps there was nothing nefarious in inclusion of these two "clarifications." Preferable would have been something akin to "acts of violence perpetrated against African Americans and the victims' response" and "how slaves developed skills which were coincidentally comparable to those needed in a market economy." Or just drop it altogether.

We'll probably never know whether architects of the curriculum were unaware of the misleading nature of those standards, pleased that they were proposing history be taught inaccurately, or expressing themselves very badly.

By contrast, we can more clearly assess the motives of Vice President Kamala Harris who, blasting the new academic standards, stated in Jacksonville

Extremists here in Florida pass a law "don't say gay" trying to instill fear in our teachers that they should not live their full life and love who they love. And now, on top of all that they want to replace history with lies.

Middle school students in Florida to be told that enslaved people benefitted from slavery. High schoolers may be taught that victims of violence of massacres were also perpetrators. I said it yesterday- they insult us in an attempt to gaslight us. And we will not have it. And we will not have it.

The "Parental Rights in Education" bill is also known as the "Don't Say Gay" bill and was signed by Florida governor Ron DeSantis in March of 2022. It reads "classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards."

The legislation has nothing to do with curtailing adult same-sex relationships or what the vice-president described as "that they should not live their full life and love who they love." But she might have been confused. This is, after all, Kamala Harris.

Nor is it particularly significant that Harris evidently finds something offensive about the term "slaves." In a rebuke to the axiom "keep it simple, stupid" (KISS), she substitutes the new-age "enslaved people" for "slaves." It is quite simple- as ordinary Americans realize, people who are enslaved are slaves. The evil of slavery is not reversed with a change in terminology.

But who is this "us" of which Ms. Harris speaks? The portion at issue of the State's Academic Standards is not entitled "Black History" or "Black American History."  It is not called "African-American and West Indies History." 

The West Indies is "an unofficial grouping of island countries and territories in the Atlantic Ocean." The group includes such territories as Martinique, Aruba, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands and such countries as the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Haiti, and Jamaica.

Kamala Harris' mother is from India. The vice-president's father was born in Jamaica, studied in England, and became a naturalized USA citizen. His parents were of Afro-Jamaican and Irish-Jamaican heritage.

Thus, as with many Americans, Kamala Harris has a mixed ancestry, apparently Indian, Jamaican, and more. But she is not predominantly African-American, nor in any way generational African-American. She is not descended from individuals brought to the shores of the USA by white Europeans (who have traditionally comprised this country's power elite), held in bondage, and after emancipation held back by generations of discrimination oppressing their descendants.

There is a difference. The California task force which has recommended reparations be made to African-Americans requires recipients

to be able to trace their lineage directly to a person who had been enslaved in the United States, or to African Americans who lived in the U.S. prior to 1900. This presumes “that such persons are descendants of enslaved ancestors or free persons who ran the risk of being enslaved during the 246 years that the institution of slavery existed in America,” (task force member Don Tamaki) said.

Whatever the recommended remedies- and I'm skeptical of them- the task force understands the special circumstances of generational African-Americans. When and if Kamala Harris returns to California, she will not be eligible.

That is only fitting, given the vice-president's ancestry and cultural background. Yet somehow, when Harris addressed a group in Florida about that state's curriculum on African-Americans, she referred at least twice to "us" as if said curriculum applied to her own ancestors.

The Vice President is entitled to be dishonest and as a politician, it is almost expected. However, if the Administration denounces a deceptive educational curriculum as characterized by "lies," a better messenger would be someone without a significant history of dishonesty and who chooses not to be deceptive in the present.


Thursday, July 20, 2023

Unholy Alliance

If the following tweet from a former US Representative from Illinois weren't so vague, we'd have an idea if his point is justified or even legitimate. Presumably, he's referring to this, a motion whose merit is more nuanced than it seems.

This tweeter confronts Walsh because of Kennedy having been on a Joe Rogan podcast and profiled in The Washington Post and The New York Times. However, none of them qualifies as a "Democrat" and Walsh therefore presumably is more concerned about someone like Florida Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz.


Kennedy's remark comparing Anne Frank to SARSCov-2 vaccination was insensitive, offensive, and misleading. It also was made a few months ago and about a policy- vaccination- less relevant now. Not so, this:

"Unconditional?" So if Israel were to invade Ukraine or, more realistically, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were to order bombing of Iran completely without cause, the USA would back Tel Aviv? Really?

The pseudo-Democrat running for President implies that Biden's remarks to a New York Times columnist were confrontational or a radical departure from American policy toward Israel. This is highly misleading (an RFK specialty) because, as the article in The Times of Israel to which he links explains

US President Joe Biden said that Israel’s leaders need to slow down their divisive overhaul of the judiciary and instead strive to achieve a broad consensus with opposition parties on the issue, reportedly warning that the “special relationship” between the two countries could sustain irreparable damage.

Biden made the comments to New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, whom he sat down with in the White House Tuesday after meeting earlier in the day with President Isaac Herzog, who is visiting Washington.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud and its allied far-right and ultra-Orthodox parties have been barreling ahead with their overhaul plan, which has been met with months of mass protests from critics who say it will radically weaken the court’s power to act as a check and balance against the Knesset, and dangerously erode Israel’s democratic foundations.

In addition to protesters blocking roads and disrupting public transportation, pushback against the overhaul has seen groups of military reservists threaten to stop volunteering for special key duties — including piloting fighter jets — if the legislation process continues. Likewise, business leaders and medical staff have called strikes to protest the overhaul.

Military reservists, business leaders, and medical staff are appalled by Israel's Trump, the authoritarian Netanyahu, but Kennedy believes Washington must support Tel Aviv no matter what.  The Times of Israel continues

Speaking to Friedman, Biden expressed public support for the protest movement

“This is obviously an area about which Israelis have strong views, including in an enduring protest movement that is demonstrating the vibrancy of Israel’s democracy, which must remain the core of our bilateral relationship,” he said.

“Finding consensus on controversial areas of policy means taking the time you need,” said Biden. “For significant changes, that’s essential. So my recommendation to Israeli leaders is not to rush. I believe the best outcome is to continue to seek the broadest possible consensus here.”

President Biden is not calling for support of the BDS movement, withdrawal of aid to Israel, or regime change, however little the current Likud government is interested in a just and lasting arrangement with Arab Palestinians. Biden merely is asking Tel Aviv to slow down and seek broad consensus so that the special arrangement between it and the USA can continue. He is asking for the bare minimum, for Israel to resist the most extreme elements in its governing coalition.

It no longer is sensible for partisanship to "stop at the water's edge" and if Democrats had been more critical of President George W. Bush's forays into Iraq and Afghanistan, the USA might have been spared a couple of disasters. Still, if there were a place and time for both parties to agree on a broad approach to a foreign policy matter, it would be to apply skepticism toward the Netanyahu government. 

Republicans have rejected this approach in favor of one enthusiastically supporting Benjamin Netanyahu, probably because he is not only uncompromising and unyielding to Palestinian Arabs and Iran but appears to rival in corruption the GOP's favorite living ex-President.   Now, the same presidential candidate who a few months ago suggested that vaccination against a coronavirus was as stifling to individual freedom as was the Third Reich criticizes President Biden for not showing blind allegiance to the right-wing government in Israel. That mirrors the GOP perspective which, considering the effort of Robert F. Kennedy to wound Joe Biden politically, makes sense in a dangerous and perverse way.

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Abusers and the Abused

This is an apt comment about Brian Kemp but an even better one about other Republicans.

Kemp is similar to an abused spouse or domestic partner, whom obviously is usually the woman.  However, fitting the bill even better is House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who

demurred on the question of whether Donald Trump is best candidate Republicans can put forward to face Joe Biden in 2024 — before backlash from Magaworld forced him to walk back his criticism and call the former president to apologise.

In a CNBC interview on Tuesday, Mr McCarthy said Mr Trump can beat Mr Biden but that he’s not sure another Republican couldn’t do better.

“Can he win that election? Yeah, he can,” Mr McCarthy said. “The question is, is he the strongest to win the election? I don’t know that answer. But can somebody, can anybody beat Biden? Yeah, anybody can beat Biden.”

But like an abused wife or girlfriend

The House speaker changed his tune in a later interview with Breitbart, saying his words had been twisted and he didn’t mean to undermine Mr Trump.

As usual, the media is attempting to drive a wedge between President Trump and House Republicans as our committees are holding Biden’s DOJ accountable for their two-tiered levels of justice,” he said. “The only reason Biden is using his weaponised federal government to go after President Trump is because he is Biden’s strongest political opponent, as polling continues to show.”

“Just look at the numbers this morning—Trump is stronger today than he was in 2016,” he added in reference to a Morning Consult poll which showed Mr Trump ahead of Mr Biden by a margin of 44 per cent to 41 per cent.

It later emerged that, in addition to the Breitbart interview, Mr McCarthy also called the former president to apologise for his comments, CNN reports. He even sent out a campaign fundraising email on behalf of Mr Trump that claimed the 45th president was “stronger than ever” heading into the 2024 election.

Well, of course he did, because most Republicans not in swing districts- and most aren't- are on balance fine with Donald Trump, who

could face still more legal trouble in the months to come over his attempts to overturn the result of the 2020 presidential election,…

Still, Mr McCarthy’s suggestion that Mr Trump may not be the strongest candidate is notable if only because the California representative has long been one of Mr Trump’s most vocal allies in Republican leadership — famously aiding his political rehabilitation by visiting him at Mar-a-Lago just weeks after the Capitol riot.

Fret not for Kevin McCarthy, Brian Kemp, or like-minded members of their party. Aided by centrist and center-left media, the myth remains that most Republicans are only bowing to the wishes of right-wing, unreasonable constituents. This is not the case, on the federal level and not in most states controlled by the GOP. The pols and their donors are willing members of this caucus.

Most people, even Republicans, are reasonable, if led by reasonable politicians.  But throughout the country, GOP leaders are far -right extremists, members of an informal, unofficial reckless caucus. They know what they're doing, it's not pretty, and they shouldn't be let off the hook.

Monday, July 17, 2023

Walking It Back, Subtly

Donald Trump is hearing footsteps. Of the three individuals- Tim Scott, Ron DeSantis, and Chris Christie- who have a reasonable chance of denying Trump the presidential nomination- only the discredited, former New Jersey governor has been loudly criticizing the ex-President, as he tries to goad Trump into stepping onto the debate stage.

Christie has attacked Trump over "grifting," the documents case, and American support for the Ukrainian government.  In March, before he entered the presidential race, Christie told right-wing, loyal Republican radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt

He’s afraid to get on the stage against people who are serious. And I’m sorry to see that he’s that afraid of it. If he’s that afraid of that, how can we count on him to do any better with President Xi than the failures he had in his first term with China? How can we expect him to do any better with Putin than having set the groundwork for the invasion of Ukraine, which his conduct towards Putin certainly helped to establish? This is a guy who seems like he’s afraid. And if he’s afraid, he has no business being president.

The failed ex-governor has contended that he would support Ukraine more enthusiastically than has President Biden, remarking "We need to send them the military hardware that they need to be able to fight the war against Russia and we need to make sure that this war is ultimately resolved on terms that are acceptable to Ukraine."

At a town hall meeting on Fox News on June 1, Trump promised "and I’ll stop that war, mark my words, I’ll stop that war in 24 hours." Supporter or critic, no one in the country, the world, or the planet failed to understand that he meant that he would put supreme pressure on Kyiv to surrender or at least agree swiftly to end the war on Moscow's terms. Yet, he wisely avoided spelling it out.

If Chris Christie is not the one Republican most likely to steal the nomination from Donald Trump, his relentless, borderline bellicose, criticism threatens to draw the ex-President into an argument neither may escape unscathed.  Thus, when asked on Fox News (at 2:41 of the video below) on July 16 by Maria Bartiromo "you said you would end the war in Ukraine in 24 hours. How would you do that?" Trump responded

I know Zelensky very well. I felt he was very honorable because when they asked him about the perfect phone call that I made, he said it was indeed, he said it was. He didn't even know what they were talking about. He could have grandstanded–" Trump said before Bartiromo cut him off.

"That's not going to be enough for Putin to stop bombing," she pointed out. Trump then explained how he would get Russia and Ukraine to end their conflict.

"I know Zelenskyy very well, and I know Putin very well, even better. And I had a good relationship, very good with both of them. I would tell Zelenskyy, no more. You got to make a deal. I would tell Putin, if you don't make a deal, we're going to give him a lot. We're going to [give Ukraine] more than they ever got if we have to. I will have the deal done in one day. One day," Trump responded.

Previously assumed- accurately- to be implying that as President, he would twist Zelenskyy's arm long and hard, Trump now maintains that he would severely pressure both parties.

This blunts criticism from Christie, who along with Asa Hutchinson- whom no one notices- is the only GOP candidate who won't kiss Trump's ring. Another advantage of Trump's pivot is that the 45th President has now planted himself firmly, resolutely, and defiantly on the fence- a convenient place to sit until he needs to pivot again. It is reminiscent of the promise made by presidential candidate Richard Nixon of "peace with honor," which got him elected before he presided over a humiliating defeat in the Vietnam War.

This fellow Trump is both smarter and slicker than he appears to his opponents. He's similar to a quarterback who sees the entire field or a linebacker who recognizes the play before it develops.  He has a good sense of whom his friends are, whom his enemies are, and how to respond to his advantage.  Those traits weren't enough to win a second presidential election because it took place as the USA was being crushed with a coronavirus which had stricken 9.3 million persons and claimed 232,627 lives.

SARS-CoV-2 now has killed over 1,134,000 Americans, nearly three times as many as the 392,428 lost before Trump turned the White House over to Joe Biden on January 20, 2021. And assuming Trump is nominated, Biden will be facing an opponent who knows a thing or two about strategy, including how to pivot effortlessly on the major foreign policy challenge of the day.,... and that's without even considering the Vice President.


Saturday, July 15, 2023

Wrong and Wrong

In her website, Representative Joyce Beatty, a black Democrat from Ohio, referred readers to a  "Save Voters Act" she apparently had introduced that month, February of 2021.  It probably was a good bill and undoubtedly well-meaning because

To allow the right to vote to be restricted or removed over something as minor as failing to respond to a postcard is unthinkable, especially when this practice disproportionately harms communities of color, veterans, and vulnerable populations. It should be easier for potential voters to exercise their right than it is for election officials to purge voters.

However, let's run that back. Could that have been the same Joyce Beatty, who referred not to "black communities" but to "communities of color," who prompted a rebuke of one of her (Republican) colleagues? As reported by CBS News

Arizona Republican Rep. Eli Crane said he "misspoke" after he used the racially charged term "colored people" on the House floor and drew swift rebuke from Democratic lawmakers and the Congressional Black Caucus.

"In a heated floor debate on my amendment that would prohibit discrimination on the color of one's skin in the Armed Forces, I misspoke. Every one of us is made in the image of God and created equal," Crane said in a statement.

The freshman Republican used the term Thursday evening as members were debating one of his proposed amendments to the annual defense budget and policy bill. His amendment would prohibit the Pentagon from requiring participation in training or support for "certain race-based concepts" in the hiring, promotion or retention of individuals.

Crane was responding to remarks made by Democratic Rep. Joyce Beatty when he said, "My amendment has nothing to do with whether or not colored people or Black people or anybody can serve, okay? It has nothing to do with color of your skin... any of that stuff."

That quickly prompted Beatty, who is Black and previously served as the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, to ask to strike his words from the congressional record. "I am asking for unanimous consent to take down the words of referring to me or any of my colleagues as 'colored people,'" she said.

Crane at first tried to amend his comments to "people of color" before Beatty again stepped in and said she wanted his words stricken. When no one in the chamber objected, the chair ordered it stricken by unanimous consent.

Beatty wrote about the exchange on Twitter: "I am still in utter and disbelief that a Republican uttered the words 'colored people' in reference to African-American service members who sacrifice their lives for our freedom... I will not tolerate such racist and repugnant words in the House Chamber or anywhere in the Congress. That's why I asked that those words be stricken from the record, which was done so by unanimous consent."

In an interview with CBS News, the Ohio Democrat said she doesn't accept Crane's explanation that he "misspoke".

Crane didn't "misspeak" because he intended to say what he said. Or maybe that means that he actually "misspoke" because no one in America knows what "misspoke" or "misspeak" means, given that it is a word made up by politicians several years ago to let themselves off the hook without apologizing. (Members of both parties use it, so the news media cannot reasonably be expected to question the term.)

And of course, that's the problem. "Misspoke" is open to interpretation, as is "communities of color" or "people of color" or "women of color." (Oddly- or perhaps significantly- "men of color" is absent from the public discourse.)  "Of color" is a term brilliantly inserted into the lexicon by the left, and increasingly accepted by the center.

A person of intelligence is an intelligent person. A person of beauty is a beautiful person. A home of luxury is a luxury home.  Those people who failed 4th grade English grammar can be forgiven for not understanding that "women of color" is, in the same manner, synonymous with "colored women" while "person of color" is "colored person" and "communities of color" is "colored communities."  They're not my rules; I merely acknowledge them.

Not only were Democrats presumably pleased, there was no objection from Republicans when Beatty asked that Crane's words be stricken from the record. The right has been unable or unwilling to challenge this slick turn of a phrase, which has served two purposes.  The speaker or writer does not have to specify whether he/she is referring to blacks, Latinos, Asian-Americans, and indigenous tribal members; to blacks alone; or to any combination thereof. Moreover, the (false) inclusivity of the phrase may rally members of all minority groups to coalesce around a message challenging the power and privilege of non-Hispanic whites.

Crane tried to point out the disconnect, be it hypocrisy or mere irony.. He did so, obviously, by employing the pejorative "colored people," then asking it be changed to "people of color." Both are made all the worse because they are silly, inaccurate terms.  In the science portion of that 4th grade education, boys and girls learn that "black" is the absence of color.

Nonetheless, if we believe that this is primarily about speech, we're deluding ourselves. Representative Beatty

said some lawmakers intend to hold a special order hour on Monday to address the issue through a series of speeches on the floor.

"It shows us directly why we need DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion)," Beatty explained. "DEI is not about just hiring a Black person or putting a person in the military or in college. It's about having diversity of thought."

At least for this congresswoman, it's not about behavior, nor about words because "colored people" is deemed offensive while "people of color" is encouraged.. It's about thought. One must not only do and say as we wish, but think correctly. Saying the quiet part out loud, Beatty declared that diversity, equity, and inclusion is partly "about having diversity of thought." 

The irony of her statement clearly escapes her. Beatty says she wants diversity of thought; Crane expressed a thought different from hers and was condemned.

Representative Crane evidently relished the irony of Beatty's objection when in vain he requested his comment be amended to "people of color." Referring to blacks as "colored," as was common some 70 or more years ago, always was ridiculous. So, too, is referring to blacks as "of color." The difference is that one is denounced, as it should be. The other is a term of sophistication (sophisticated term) for the well-educated elites of politics, media, and entertainment.


Friday, July 14, 2023

A Harebrained, or Urinebrained, Scheme

As President Joseph R. Biden would put it, "This woman was a judge. Not kidding."

The individual respectfully referred to as "Judge Jeanine Pirro" is clearly apoplectic that there has been no determination that the bag of cocaine found in the West Wing of the White House belongs to Hunter Biden. Thus, no link has been made to President Biden. In character, the former judge rants

.... Where are the canines?  Why don't you know everyone who's gone through there? It's all hogwash. You vacated the building it was so dangerous when you saw that, what you thought might be anthrax. And now, you know I don't have anything to say about it.

And then she kept talking, in a high-pitched voice, appearing unhinged, as she periodically does.

It wasn't anthrax. It was an illegal drug. It was an illegal drug whose half-life is very short. According to American Addiction Centers, the detection time frame for cocaine if a urine test, the most common test, is used is "up to 3 days, but up to 2 weeks for heavy users." According to the same source, for marijuana it is "up to 30 days, depending upon the frequency of use.".

Consequently, if a urine test for drug use were administered to White House staffers, it could very well ferret out individuals who used marijuana two or three weeks ago- and completely miss persons who had used cocaine a mere four days earlier. Recreational marijuana is legally possessed is twenty-three states; cocaine in none. Those twenty-three states include Maryland and Virginia- which border the District of Columbia, in which marijuana also may be legally used (in Guam, also).

Yet, if it is determined that many members of the Biden Administration use marijuana- oh, the horror of it all!- the number of Republicans who acknowledge that its use is widespread among Americans and generally no more deleterious than alcohol may range from negative 1 to plus 1. "Drug use" or whatever phrase is dredged gup to exaggerate the situation would become the newest fashion in political attacks for the likes of Chris Christie, Larry Hogan, Chris Sununu and other right-wingers who qualify as "moderates" in the mainstream media because they don't despise members of the LGBTQIA community. (The bar is set very low.)

As a Fox News personality, Ms. Pirro can shoot her mouth off at will and as a judge, she possesses a little credibility, however undeserved that it for her and others who by hook or by crook have attained that distinction. However, GOP officials including US Representatives Pete Sessions of Texas and Lauren Boebert of Colorado also have recommended drug testing.  It is a policy proposal which in the recent past would have impelled mainstream media to herald individuals as "fiscal conservatives."

Additionally, of course, northwest Georgia's Marjorie Taylor Greene: .

Jamie Raskin of Maryland points out that such testing would be "a massive disproportionate and overblown response that would violate people's civil liberties." Dangerously intrusive, ineffective, and costly but to Republicans, who were curiously silent on this topic during the Trump Administration, such would be an asset, not a bug. It also would give the GOP another cause du jour in the culture wars in the effort to secure complete political power.

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Insane or Ridiculous, or Worse

He's not kidding. As you can see in the video affixed to the tweet below, Harriet Hageman, who in November of 2022 defeated Liz Cheney in the GOP primary, then went on to win election to Wyoming's at-large House seat, repeated the standard Republican charge against the Federal Bureau of Investigation and its director. At a congressional hearing, she came at Christopher Wray with

Mr. Wray, from the Twitter files, Missouri vs. Biden disclosures, the Durham investigation and report and exposure and collapse of the Russian collusion hoax, the American people fully understand that there is a two-tiered justice system that has been weaponized to persecute people based on their political beliefs and that you have personally worked to weaponize the FBI against conservatives. I asked Mr. Durham about this, to which he answered "I don't thing this can go too much further with the view that law enforcement, particularly the FBI or the Justice Department, runs a two-tiered system of  justice. The nation can't stand under those circumstances. Director Wray, what are you prepared to do to reform federal law enforcement in a manner which earns back the trust of the American people?

Hoax! Hoax! Hoax! Republicans continue to spread that lie as if they never read the Mueller report. Of course, there is a two-tiered system of justice, which Ms. Hageman should have at least contemplated with the George Floyd/black lives matter protest of the second half of 2020. 

There is a two-tiered system- albeit severely exaggerated three years ago- against blacks. There is a two-tiered system severely biased against the non-wealthy, traditionally underestimated and in the wake of those protests, completely ignored. And there is a two-tiered system, ignored by Democrats and Republicans, left, right, and center, which comes down hard on individuals charged with violation of municipal and state ordinances and laws while slapping the wrists of offenders charged with violating federal law.

Presumably, though, Hageman gave little thought to those points of injustice because she was focused on undermining federal law enforcement. "You have personally worked to weaponize the FBI against conservatives," the congresswoman told Director Wray, adding fuel to the obvious truism that simply switching out males for females will magically create a competent Congress and just society. In response, Wray noted

Well, first off, I would disagree with your characterization of the FBI and certainly your description of my own approach. The idea that I'm biased against conservatives seems somewhat insane to me given my own personal background.

Insane, yes, if Hageman actually believes it. And Wray is neither lying, exaggerating, or kidding. From a press release last August of Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Democrat of Rhode Island: 

In a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) today received confirmation from FBI Director Christopher Wray that the FBI sent tips that the agency had collected about Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the Trump White House without investigation.  The tips were collected through the FBI’s existing tip line as part of a supplemental background investigation after allegations of sexual misconduct emerged during Justice Kavanaugh’s 2018 confirmation process.  Wray also confirmed that the Trump White House directed which witnesses the FBI was permitted to interview.

“You reviewed them for purposes of separating from tip line traffic but did not further investigate the ones that related to Kavanaugh, correct?” Whitehouse asked in reference to the more than 4,500 tips collected by the FBI.

Director Wray responded, “Correct.”

When asked by Whitehouse whether the FBI took direction from the Trump White House as to whom the FBI could question, Wray responded that the agency did take direction from the White House since it was the requesting entity.

Following the exchange, Whitehouse posted to Twitter, “Here’s a thought:  nothing prevented Trump White House from using FBI tip line information to direct FBI investigation away from percipient or corroborating witnesses.”

Thee is no specific date it began. But from roughly the lead-up to the first impeachment hearings against President Trump, Republicans have run a scam in which they continually whine about non-existent persecution form federal law enforcement agencies. In return, Democrats have defended the Department of Justice and FBI, the Capitol police, federal courts, and.... well, you get the idea. 

It has gotten so out-of-hand that Democrats and the mainstream media even have defended Christopher Wray, who by almost any measure, has not been a effective head of the FBI.  The charge from Republican officials and conservatives in social media that Wray has discriminated on behalf of Democrats against them is farcical and a prime example of the disinformation undergirding the Republican Party of today. 

On a Positive Note, It's What He Believes

During the War of 1812, Master Commandant Oliver Perry wrote to Major General William Henry Harrison " we have met the enemy and they ...