Republicans on Judiciary Should Recuse

Dr Ford thedailybeast.co

Perhaps you wonder why I would say that Republicans on the Judiciary Committee should recuse themselves from the hearings into the Kavanaugh/Dr. Ford matter. After you refresh your memory about the recent history re Republican’s stated beliefs about women I think you might agree with me and write or call your Senators to recommend recusal. It is tempting to want to lure these men into more tone deaf remarks, but we need to weigh the satisfaction we can get from how shocking they might be against the damage they can do to Dr. Ford.

I published a book (The US Republican Constitution: A Nonfiction Constitutional Thriller, N. L. Brisson, on Amazon.com) shortly before the 2016 election, but not in time to have any effect on the outcome. What I found when I compiled my comments in Chapter 5, Roe v Wade, Defying a Supreme Court Decision seems quite appropriate to this moment when Republican men seem rabidly impatient to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, a man who has been accused in September of 2018 of a past act of attempted rape and physical restraint. Here are some of the things Republican men have said about women in the last decade.

  1. Women are just “hosts” for the precious babies that the GOP suddenly stops caring about once they are born, Virginia Senator Steve Martin said in 2014. “I don’t expect to be in the room or will I do anything to prevent you from obtaining a contraceptive. However, once a child does exist in your womb I’m not going to assume a right to kill it just because the child’s host (some refer to them as mother’s) doesn’t want it.”
  2. Women who have abortions should be hanged, according to conservative columnist Devin Williamson.
  3. Rape and incest are “minor problems” when compared to abortion, GOP strategist Matt Mackowiak mansplained.
  4. “No” doesn’t always mean “no” if the man decides it doesn’t, says aging right-wing slob Rush Limbaugh.
  5. Emergency rooms erase rape, claimed Texas Rep. Jodie Laudenberg in 2013. “If a woman is raped…We have hospital emergency rooms. We have funded what’s called rape kits that will help women, basically clean her out. And then hopefully that will alleviate that.”
  6. Oral contraceptives cause prostate cancer (in women, who don’t have prostates), so said New Hampshire state Rep. Jeanine Notter in 2012.
  7. Abortion causes breast cancer, and women should pop out babies as early as possible – a lie so precious Republicans in New Hampshire included it in an anti-abortion bill in 2012. (“In fact, for each year that a woman’s first full-term pregnancy is delayed, her risk of breast cancer rises 3.5 percent. The theory that there is a direct link between abortion and breast cancer builds upon this undisputed foundation.”
  8. Women who use contraception are sluts and prostitutes, so sayeth Rush Limbaugh in response to Sandra Fluke’s testimony about a lesbian friend who uses birth control for noncontraceptive medical purposes. “What does it say about a college co-ed Susan Fluke [sic] who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says she must be paid to have sex. What does it make her? It makes her a slut right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She’s having so much sex she can’t afford contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayer to pay her to have sex.”
  9. “Legitimate rape.” Courtesy of Todd Akin: “From what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to shut that whole thing down.”
  10. Long before “legitimate rape,” Bush-appointed federal judge James Holmes said in 1980 that wimmin can’t get pregnant from rape. “Concern for rape victims is a red herring because conceptions from rape occur with approximately the same frequency as snowfall in Miami.
  11. Seriously, the “juices don’t flow” and pregnancy just doesn’t happen if a woman is raped, Republican Henry Aldridge said in 1995.
  12. Contraception is as cheap as an aspirin between the knees, Rick Santorum donor Foster Freiss said in 2012.
  13. God wanted you to be raped, Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock told victims who might want an abortion in 2012. “I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize life is a gift from God. And I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape
  14. In 2013, Congressman Steven Stockman postulated that if babies had guns, they would kill their mothers rather than be aborted (and ultimately die anyway).
  15. Tea Party queen, Saturday Night Live has been Victoria Jackson, blamed the Sandy Hook massacre on abortion in 2012.
  16. Fetuses masturbate, according to Rep. Michael Burges in 2013. “If they can feel pleasure, why is it so hard to believe that they could feel pain?
  17. Alabama state Rep. Mary Sue McClurkin said in 2013 that a fetus should be considered an organ in a woman’s body.
  18. According to Tom Cotton, who violated the Logan Act in his attempt to throttle a nuclear deal with Iran, said women should not serve in the military because they’re weak.
  19. A woman wasn’t truly raped if she didn’t go to the emergency room immediately, according to 2016 presidential candidate Ron Paul.
  20. Some girls – especially underage ones – “rape easy” according to Wisconsin Republican Roger Rivard.
  21. “Why not just sit back an’ enjoy” being raped, wondered Texas Republican Clayton Williams.
  22. If a woman who was raped wants an abortion, her doctor should make sure she was really raped, said Idaho state Senator Chuck Winder in 2012.
  23. Mike Huckabee would force child rape victims to give birth to, and raise their rapist’s babies.
  24. According to Fox News contributor Liz Trotta, female soldiers should just expect men to rape them.
  25. According to Republican Paul Ryan, rape is just another method of conception – like in vitro fertilization, which he wants to criminalize.
  26. To 2016 Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, there’s an upside to rape. “And so I know it happens, and yet even from those horrible, horrible tragedies of rape, which are inexcusable and indefensible, life has come and sometimes, you know, those people are able to do extraordinary things.”
  27. Seriously, God really wanted you to be raped because it’s a “blessing”, Missouri Republican Sharon Barnes said in 2012.
  28. God even planned your rape, explained failed GOP candidate for Senate Sharro Angle in 2010.
  29. In fact, Kansas state Rep. Pete DeGraaf said in 2011 that women should probably just go ahead and plan to be raped.
  30. Men after all, have the right to rape women as long as those dirty harlots are allowed to have abortions, according to Maine state Rep. Lawrence Lockman in 1995.
  31. Besides, if a man rapes a woman and a baby is produced, the woman should feel blessed because of the “gift” God and her rapist gave her, according to 2016 presidential candidate Rick Santorum.
  32. When it comes down to an abortion, a woman does not have the right to her own life, former Republican Rep. Joe Walsh said in 2012.
  33. Former Tea Party candidate for Senate and OB-GYN Greg Brannon mansplained that pregnant women are just “little girls” who don’t understand their own bodies like he does.
  34. Did you know that rape exceptions are “little gotcha amendments?” Kansas state Senate Majority Leader Terry Bruce does!
  35. Women who are raped should consider that, while rape is bad, the child might be absolutely beautiful, West Virginia Delegate Brian Kurcaba said in 2015
  36. Rape isn’t just for unmarried harlots, though. It’s also for husbands, who Utah state Rep. Brian Greene says should be able to rape their wives while they are unconscious. It’s not their first date, after all.
  37. In 2005, conservative commentator William J. Bennett explained that women could decrease the crime rate through abortion, if they aborted black babies.
  38. Women shouldn’t vote, according to conservative Ann Coulter.
  39. You can’t be raped if you’re married, according to 2016 GOP candidate Donald Trump. “You cannot rape your spouse. And there’s very clear case law.”
  40. According to right-wing Evangelical “Christian” Pat Robertson, the fight for women’s rights has nothing to do with women – it’s a socialist plot to destroy the family and kill children, among other things.
  41. Life might actually begin before conception, so sayeth former Arizona Governor Jan Brewer when she signed a bill that said as much.
  42. But it’s OK – 2016 Republican candidate Ben Carson says we should “re-educate” women so they don’t get too uppity about abortion.
  43. With all this talk about “re-education,” if wouldn’t be right to skip pointing out that Mike Huckabee – who wants to be President – thinks women who have abortions are just like a million bagillion Hitlers. “If you felt something incredibly powerful at Auschwitz and Birkenau over the 11 million killed worldwide and the 1.5 million killed on those grounds, cannot we feel something extraordinary about 55 million murdered in our country in the wombs of their mothers?”
  44. Abortion is so horrible that women who are in the process of making the difficult decision to have one should be read their rights like criminals according to 2016 GOP contender Piyush Jindal.
  45. But do women know, anyway – besides laying back and spreading their legs? (2015, Republican Perryville, MO school board member Mark Germaud)

“This is just a small sampling of the horrific remarks Republicans have made regarding women,” says John Prager who compiled this list of comments that make many of us smack our foreheads in dismay. The remarks bear such similarities that we wonder if Republicans have a secret society that indoctrinates their minds with this stuff. Sadly, it might be in the Evangelical/Fundamentalist churches where this happens. Many of the women believe the same things the men do.

See the original article at

http://addictinginfo.org/2015/08/26/these-45-horrible-gop-quotes-show-why-no-woman-should-vote-republican-ever

3 senators on justice committee CNN

Kavanaugh Confirmation Hearings

“Capitol Hill has seen dozens of senators cycle through its halls over the years, but at least three had front row seats to a pair of Supreme Court nominations both rocked by claims of sexual misconduct separated by 27 years’ time.

Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Orrin Hatch of Utah and Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont were all members of the Senate Judiciary Committee when the panel heard Anita Hill’s blockbuster testimony in 1991 against the nomination of now-Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

All three senators remain on the committee and questioned President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh earlier this month, giving the three men an unmatched perspective on two moments in history with significant similarities.”

You can see what each of these senators had to say about the Anita Hill hearings and now the Ford hearings here:

https://www.cnn.com/2018/09/22/politics/senate-judiciary-committee-chuck-grassley-patrick-leahy-orrin-hatch/index.html

A look at past practice for the men on the Judiciary Committee and a list of the remarks of Republicans suggests that the GOP may be obsolete; a party of backward troglodytes. Christine Blasey Ford has her work cut out for her in getting through to this lot. We will all be watching but Republican men in the Senate who seem to have gone power-mad will most likely do to you, once again, what may have been done to your when you were 15. You have put yourself in front of a runaway train and there is no Dudley Do-Right in sight. We will all be watching so that hopefully whatever happens will happen in full view of all of America. If it turns out we can’t watch someone will be sure we learn what happened. Perhaps with the numbers in the Senate you will not be able to win but you can at least strike a blow to add to others that might portend better days ahead for women. Stay safe.

Photo Credits: From a Google Image Search – thedailybeast.com, CNN

Republicans Need a Timeout – Economics

Dem Rep Bear big mcdanielregister.com

“Republicans are the root of all evil.” – me

We have a Republican president right now and the economy looks pretty healthy but I think this will end up being like those people who look out and see a nice day and decide that there is no such thing as climate change. A good economic moment does not always prove to be a long-lasting trend. Even if this economic growth moment does continue, which is “devoutly to be wished,” I am not sure that it proves Republicans are good for our economy. This growth began under President Obama and it is a global, not a national tendency.

There are forces at work in current Republican policy that could, in fact, be disastrous to our economy. Here are some reasons why Republicans need an economic timeout. First of all, in America we have the passage of that ridiculous tax “reform” bill. It is not like the wealth inequality in America is hidden. We all know it exists. There are books, and charts, and news articles showing us, quite graphically, about the 1% and the 99%. The 1% hold an inordinate proportion of America’s economic wealth, leaving the 99% to struggle to hold on to middle class status. So what do we do? We pass a bill that sends even more of America’s wealth to that 1%. We make that gift permanent. We send a pittance to the middle class, so they will not make an outcry, but we allow the Republican Congress to make that token contribution temporary. (As they face the 2018 election Republicans are having second thoughts and are seeking to make middle class tax cuts permanent.)

wealth inequality sm wikipedia

from Wikipedia

We let Congress try their “trickle-down” nonsense economics one more time because we really have no choice. The Republicans love trickle-down and they are in charge of our government and its purse strings. We watch Congress give corporations huge tax cuts and perks. We hear them assure us that these companies will share their newly purchased wealth with us. (They bought this wealth with giant-sized contributions to Republican campaigns.) But because corporations must share their wealth with their stockholders and use it to fund business expansion and to line the pockets of their owners and CEOs, there is little left to actually trickle-down to workers. (Sadly the whole idea of trickle-down economics now has echoes of those “golden showers” that Republicans have introduced into our daily conversation through their president, Trump. It’s an accidental analogy but strangely parallel in moral tone.)

Trump has boasted about the number of executive actions he has taken to overturn regulations on business, on banks, and regulations on pollutants which contribute to climate change. He calls this “winning”. The House of Representatives has worked diligently to deregulate business and banks and to change laws about drilling for fossil fuels. Republicans insist that if we regulate business, business will flee to a nation without regulations. Many of our businesses have migrated to other nations without regulations so this looks like an accurate analysis of the situation. But eventually these nations will begin to pass regulations. Workers, as their economic position improves, will require it. World opprobrium to a lack of safety and rights for workers will require it. Capitalism is a useful economic construct, but only if it is harnessed for the public good. Capitalists are human beings and human beings have a dual nature. Every enterprise that can contribute to the public good can also be bent by our more nefarious human motives to contribute to the selfish desires of individuals with power. Without regulation Capitalism has no conscience; its only goal is profit. In the short term we may be “winning”, but in the long term we may be “screwed”.

Money is useful but no human society should be only about economics, about stockpiling money, about being the richest society. Rich societies call forth the anger of poorer societies and this envy leads to revolutions and war. Societies are about governing people, keeping cultural forces in balance so that the society can survive and remain stable. Societies have to take human rights and needs into consideration. If rights are not shared by those who are governed by a society then that society will eventually die out or be overthrown. The Republican Party seems to be in favor of wealth inequality as an oddly-rationalized principle. They seem to have decided that people have money because they are, in truth, superior to most citizens and even, they contend, favored by God. (Yikes! Shades of the Divine Right of Kings.) Because these people are “elites” (creators) in every way they should be treated with deference, they should be offered privileges as tokens to keep them happy and perhaps to keep them from going elsewhere.

Every time we have removed regulations that rein in Capitalism some brilliant but twisted money savant has come up with a way to step beyond the lines of investment common sense and invent some money-spewing scheme that eventually explodes in our faces and delivers us into economic recession or depression. Herbert Hoover, Republican, bears the blame for the Great Depression. If we look to the administrations before his because the roots of an economic downturn are often found in the previous administration we find Warren Harding, Republican, in office from 1921-23 and Calvin Coolidge, a Republican in office from 1923-1929. Before our most recent Great Recession we find the Republicans once again in office in the person of George W Bush. The housing boom had been much discussed in the media but because of Republican laissez faire business attitudes no one stepped in to investigate or regulate. This one, when it exploded, even involved the banking business, traditionally opposed to risky ventures, but so in need of economic drama that good sense left the building. And now the Republicans are also removing restraints Obama put on banks that crossed over into what was basically thievery. We are told in the media that some of the same risky practices that burst the last economic bubble are lining pockets once again and we can again look to the mortgage market.

Republicans tout their own prowess as economists. So while they always push policies of Conservative economic practices, while they rattle on about debt and deficits, and balanced budgets and tightening our belts, they always contend that the belts that need to be tightened are the belts of the neediest members of our society. They always advocate cutting the safety nets for groups that not financially able to take economic risks such as the poor and seniors, the disabled and the sick. Those programs are actually all that stands against a total abdication of the American soul. Without them, if we do not protect our weakest members, we are not a society, we are just an economy and a war machine. And not even a good economy, since inequality will get even more pronounced if we refuse to exercise human empathy. And then we will join the roster of failed societies and realize the Republican dream will not take us anywhere good.

Force Republicans to take a timeout. They are not helping America. They are racist and they subscribe to bad economic policies. Elect Democrats in 2018 and keep on electing them until Republicans get a grip on reality.

 

 

Republicans Need a Timeout

 

GOP men Getty images big

“The Republican Party is the Root of all Evil” – me

Racism

Early racists were members of the Democratic Party, which was the party of the South. They were slave owners, and they did not believe that their slaves were equal to white people. Eventually people who sympathized with those who were once slave owners switched to become members of the Republican Party. Now most racists are members of the Republican Party and they still believe that intelligence relies on skin color.

Contemporary Republicans have been inviting racist hate back into our daily lives. For this they have become a party of evil. For this and reasons I will discuss in future articles, the  Republicans need a timeout from governing, for perhaps the next 50 years.

Looking Back

The party of Southern slave owners was not the Republican Party. In the 1860’s and beyond the Democrats ruled the South – but the party was not at all like today’s Democratic Party. However it is true that in the 1850’s and 1860’s leading up to the Civil War, the Democratic Party was the party of slavery and slave owners. When the Democrats decided to leave the Union and become the Confederate States of America they controlled everything south of Washington, DC (and a few states north of that city); they controlled all of the Southern states to the Mississippi River and also Texas and Louisiana. When the Confederacy (the Democrats) were beaten in the Civil War (with huge loss of life) these states once again became part of the USA. And their slaves were freed. The South erupted in anger and fear. Freed slaves were terrorized by the KKK and other white supremacist groups. Tens of thousands were killed outright.

But we have to go back further. The racism that underlies our country was there from the moment the first slave was abducted from a village or town in Africa and imprisoned on a ship to American (or anywhere). People (white people) reasoned that slavery did not go against their Christianity by arguing that black people were more savage and therefore obviously far less intelligent than white people.

The slave states in the South were not, therefore, starting from a place that allowed for any equality between black folks and white folks.

By the time the United States became the United States of America, the Southern economy was built around slave labor. Wealthy southerners grew cotton and tobacco. To pay well, fields had to be expansive. Plantation life developed around these labor-intensive farming operations. Slaves were brought to America as early as 1619-20 even before America’s founding. So, given all this, it is obvious that Plantation/slave culture was firmly established in the South by the time colonists won their independence and wrote our founding documents. Our forefathers in non-slave states found themselves having to include laws that suited Southern slave states or the South was ready to walk away from the new nation. We might have been two nations from the beginning. Perhaps we should have been. The compromises our forefathers made with Southerners have not been good for America.

Parties Switch Ideologies

When America passed the Civil Rights act in the 1960’s, the Democratic Party had a more mixed membership, was no longer full of only Southerners who harbored resentments and who did not want people of color to mix with white people in any way – even to vote. We had been through two World Wars by then and the parties were more diverse in terms of ideologies. But the remnants of the original Southern white supremacists were violently opposed to ending Jim Crow in the South and they came to be called the Dixiecrats. Many Dixiecrats migrated to the Republican Party, but some held out (e.g. George Wallace) and continued to embarrass a Democratic Party, that was now made of mainly of people who favored Civil Rights legislation.

Reasons for white Southern resentment:

The South lost a lot when they lost the Civil War, at least from their point of view:

  • They lost a way of life
  • They lost their booming agricultural economy
  • They lost their slaves who they considered property and so this represented an additional financial loss
  • They lost their excuses, which had saved them from being sinners, and morally reprehensible, and yet their pride would not allow them to confess their sins or make reparations
  • They feared that there would be retribution against whites by the freed slaves
  • They needed to continue to believe that black folks were still and always would be inferior to white folks
  • They needed freed slaves to be very scared

However, wars have consequences, or they should.

The Great Migration – Racism moves North

Americans move around. When freed folks realized that in the South they were not really free, many moved North. Northerners were not always happy when black folks moved into their neighborhoods, competed for their jobs, sent kids to their schools. The Northerners found they had some racism of their own. Factories and white families headed off to the suburbs and left black folks, separate once again, and poor in a new way because they could not easily go back to farming. City life often required skills that had not yet been learned and which hardly anyone was offering to teach. Black skin set Americans of African Descent apart, made them easy to isolate as a group, and set up the false duality we struggle with to this day. This is our shameful racist dichotomy:

 

White skin                                                  Black or Brown skin

Intelligent                                                   Limited intelligence

Genetically superior                              Inferior Genes

Creative and innovative                       Physical

Hard-working                                           Lazy

Gentlemanly                                              Loose control of sexuality

 

And on and on.

Republican Party is now the Party of Racism

Until very recently self-identified racists could be found in both political parties. But with the advent of the Tea Party, the Conservative talkers, the web of organizations, and the deeply partisan divide the Republicans are no longer mixed in terms of racism v. tolerance. Even if they claim they are not racist they have to be to go along with that party. Rachel Maddow always says, “Don’t go by what they say, go by what they do.” Accept as evidence what we saw as we celebrated the 50thanniversary of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, which was a resurrection of the racist behavior harbored in white hearts during the Reconstruction, and dim echoes of the terrorism, hate, and resentment that was born in our post-Civil War days.

The Supreme Court celebrated 50 years of voting fairness by gutting the most important section of the Voting Rights Act. The states who had used unfair voting practices, like poll taxes and literacy tests, had been required to preclear voting changes with the federal government. The Court overturned the preclearance procedure because, they argued, voting rights belonged to the states. (This is a Republican talking point – to put the federal government back in the place the forefathers intended. This is a states’ rights argument.) And here is what began to happen as soon as the voting rights act was disemboweled.

  • Voter suppression through voter ID’s, closing polling places, putting polling places where they were hard to get to, purging voter rolls.
  • Gerrymandering into black and white districts.
  • The rise of in-the-open white supremacy.
  • A push for nationalism over globalism.
  • Continuing to nurse resentment at the outcome of the Civil War.
  • Continuing to venerate the Confederacy.
  • Backing guns.
  • Urging the formation of militias.
  • Bringing back the “posse comitatus” bone thrown to placate Southerners near the end the Reconstruction, laws that gave away federal powers to local sheriffs.

Conclusions:

If our American government did have a referee or an overarching organization, like the NCAA for college basketball, the Republican Party might be penalized for keeping racism alive. They might even be forced to stay out of governing for the next 50 years, to take a long timeout. The only thing hopeful about this whole side trip we are being manipulated into taking is that this might represent the last hurrah for racism and even for white supremacy.

We the people can be the referee. We can put the GOP in a timeout. Vote for Dems in 2018.

Pretzel Brain Syndrome

Pretzel Brain Syndrome

Sometimes when I listen to Republicans (especially Conservative Republicans) talk I find myself in the grip of Pretzel Brain Syndrome. Conservatives, for example, love to remind us all, ad infinitum, that Abraham Lincoln was a Republican. It’s odd that they would be proud of this because they sometimes sound like a bunch of racists who keep sacred in their hearts the memories of the Old South and who never forgave the Yankees for winning the Civil War. They celebrate Abe but they are not quite sure that ending slavery was a good idea. It trashed a once thriving economy in the Southern states and even though the Southern economy has experienced spotty boom effects since the Great Migration of our factories, this has not benefited all Southern states equally. It’s easy to get the feeling, every time you hear a Congressman with a deeply Southern accent, that buried deep within that guy is a “gentleman” farmer who yearns for a Plantation culture to rise again. I know this is a prejudice, but I do not think it is always totally undeserved.

These Abe Lincoln Republicans (who got their info from Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly who have written books about this stuff) (in other words their sources are Talk Radio and Fox News) then mention that there were virulent racists who were members of the Democratic Party during the days when we finally were forced to deal with our continuing discrimination against Americans of African Descent by Martin Luther King and many other brave and peaceful demonstrators. We were presented by the evening news coverage, night after night, with the footage of peaceful people of color and their white supporters faced with violent dogs straining at their collars and policemen, with those now iconic and frightening mirror-finish sunglasses, and those fire hoses pushing peaceful people to the ground, sometimes with injuries. (You need to watch Eyes on the Prize.)

And this information is correct. There were racists, vocal nasty racists, who had been Southern Democrats for years, although Thurmond always claimed that his opposition to the Civil Rights Act was actually about his beliefs in States rights (This is still the argument Republicans use to this day.) Reading Strom Thurmond’s obituary from the New York Times is a good place to get an overview of the long career of this man.

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/06/27/us/strom-thurmond-foe-of-integration-dies-at-100.html

“Mr. Thurmond first came to national attention in 1948 as the States’ Rights candidate after Southerners walked out of the Democratic convention to protest the party’s new commitment to civil rights. Mr. Thurmond finished a distant third to President Harry S. Truman that year, but his million votes cracked the once-solid Democratic South and helped set the stage for political realignment.

In 1964, Mr. Thurmond switched parties to back the Republican nominee for President, Senator Barry M. Goldwater….Despite the role of civil rights in his political evolution and his record-breaking filibuster of 24 hours and 18 minutes against the civil rights bill of 1957, Mr. Thurmond always insisted he had never been a racist, but was merely opposed to excessive federal authority.” (Echoes in the Cliven Bundy incident show many still claim such opposition.)

Really? Watch Strom Thurmond in action in this short clip.

So it is true that Strom Thurmond was a Democrat and then he was a Republican. I will say, however, in the interests of honesty, that George Wallace was a Democrat and did not leave the party although he was also registered to the American Independent Party.  In case you don’t remember the man, get a load of George Wallace in this YouTube video.

https://youtu.be/6C-kBVggFrs

My point is that Republicans throw this information out as a simple fact when it is not at all a simple matter and they throw it out as an indictment of the Democratic Party and of liberals and they do it to destroy the credibility of any argument that the left might make that favors human rights by suggesting that the party is hypocritical and to claim a human rights stance for the GOP, even though we can see them opposing human rights every day in our media. And there it is, Pretzel Brain Syndrome. Even though you know they are deliberately telling history wrong, our brains are temporarily confused and some of our brains are happy to accept this simple explanation of party affiliations of racists as the only explanation, I know well-educated people who have read Glenn Beck’s and Bill O’Reilly’s books and who have a eureka moment and ask themselves, why didn’t I ever notice this before?

A More Modern Instance of attempted Pretzel Brain Syndrome

Now my Pretzel Brain Syndrome is being activated again by this whole issue of the Russian interference in the 2016 election and by the way 45 conducts himself in the White House. Donald Trump likes to tie our brains in knots. I don’t know if he does this as a conscious strategy or if it is just a pattern he found useful in his business negotiations and still uses. He does seem to be a sort of one trick pony. He does not have the same understanding of the word transparency as the rest of us do because he thinks that keeping his adversaries in the dark about his plans is the central feature of his that keeps them wrong-footed and gives him the all-important “win”.

Although Donald’s son Donald, Jr. apparently did take a meeting with Russians because he thought he would get some juicy information about the imagined crimes of Hillary Clinton we are told the following by our President:

  • Donald, Jr. is a good boy.
  • The meeting was unproductive (in other words, how can you collude if you don’t get any useful information). Of course taking the meeting at all is still collusion.
  • The meeting was about the ban on American adoptions of Russian babies (which sounds innocent enough until you realize that the issue of adoptions is tied to the issue of sanctions, i.e. they discussed sanctions against Russia in this meeting.)
  • The Democrats set this up. Hillary Clinton’s campaign laid this trap for Donald’s campaign so the Democrats are bad, Republicans are the victim, Republicans good.

http://money.cnn.com/2017/07/14/media/trump-russian-lawyer-veselnitskaya-theories-obama/index.html

*Trump Jr.’s Russia meeting a Democratic plot? Pro-Trump media wants you to think so

 

Oh my aching brain. Pretty soon there will be a new drug for this. Pharmaceutical companies love conditions that can be given 3 word titles. Of course treating Pretzel Brain Syndrome will be difficult as their will be some side effects that may change the way your brain is wired forever and in ways you might not like. Buyer beware!

 

Donald Trump and the Republicans

harry-truman-about-republicans-big

I haven’t said much about Donald Trump winning the 2016 election because I don’t know what to say. During his primary rallies, I did discuss what a Trump Presidency might be like. I was really hoping people would not go “there”, but when I saw lawn after lawn and truck bumper after truck bumper with Trump/Pence signs and no signs for Hillary Clinton I began to realize that Hillary fans were laying low.

I wrote many articles in favor of Hillary, but unfortunately no one reads my blog. I did not get a lawn sign, though, until the last month before the election. I felt intimidated by Donald Trump’s casual approach to violence and the way he loved to incite his followers to express their passion for him. I felt very alone with most of my family deciding that Trump would be fine and most of my friends feeling that Bernie got gypped.

I really do not have the slightest idea what Donald Trump will be like as a President. He may be the President of America, but he is not my President. I think he is ruled by adulation. If he feels his audience slipping away he will do what he must to win it back. He does behave predictably in that his reactions to all things are personal and emotional, but he is not ideological. He makes a policy statement one day and reverses it the next.

When I read the Elena Ferrante quartet of books about Naples, Italy I was strongly affected by her descriptions of how Fascism remained a factor throughout Italy long after World War II. I guess I thought, beat Mussolini, beat Fascism. But that was not true. There were many tough guys still around who got their way through intimidation, bullying, and baseball bats. That’s how I recognized Donald Trump immediately as soon as he spoke at his first public rally. That’s when I began to worry about his ability to sell himself and his willingness to use any means necessary to get his way.

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I had studied what the Republicans were up to for the past 6 years. They were the enemy I knew. I didn’t like what they were up to. They were planning to pare back the Constitution to 1787, get rid of 200+ years of law and tradition (except the parts that matched their ideology). They have broad plans to benefit the rich and make the poor get off their duffs, but they offer no specifics.

I did not want the Republicans to get control of all three branches of government. They were too radical, they had too many nuts running around shooting off their mouths. They stopped our government until they could win a national election. They cheated and used unfair and perhaps unconstitutional practices to try to make it likely that they would win.

I can’t imagine that Donald Trump was part of their plan, but he did win them the coveted office of the President and he won them the right to appoint at least one Conservative to the Supreme Court. And I wouldn’t be surprised if pressure was brought to get some Liberals to leave the court. But they may have more than they bargained for in Donald Trump. He has to win and if Congress tries to corner him into doing anything he doesn’t want to do or makes him feel that he is not winning, he will find a way to exert his rather frightening authority to get his way. Is he the kind of bully who incites violence but also fears it? Maybe. Another thing we don’t know.

My friends and family are smug and thrilled and they believe that the right person won which is difficult for me to live with. My best course of action is to wait and see what happens. The cast of characters is already making me very nervous, but Donald Trump will not take over completely until after the holidays. Will the Republicans find the strength to resist him if he gets too extreme? Will the people rise up in the depths of winter and cry out against things that our democracy should consider unjust? I think the Donald will probably have his way with us. Our best bet is to become what a Facebook group member suggested – Dumbledore’s Army. Find a hidden Room of Requirement and train up new Democrats. Hash out great policies and reforms and get ourselves a deep bench. Then, if there is any American democracy left when everyone is done with what Donald and the Republicans have in store for them, perhaps we can try some of the real reforms our government needs.

http://thearmchairobserver.com/donald-trump-deranged/

http://thearmchairobserver.com/donald-trump-deranged-details/

http://thearmchairobserver.com/the-bully-vs-the-wonk-debates/

http://thearmchairobserver.com/donald-trumps-way-back-foreign-policy/

http://thearmchairobserver.com/i-blame-donald-trump/

http://thearmchairobserver.com/trump-demographics/

http://thearmchairobserver.com/will-we-duke-it-out-in-streets/

http://thearmchairobserver.com/stopping-donald-trump/

http://thearmchairobserver.com/why-we-cant-elect-donald-trump-or-any/

 

Erasing the Sixties

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The “military-industrial complex” is finally poised to wipe out the Sixties. Almost half of America stayed “straight” while the rest of the world grooved to a new beat in the sixties. Change was in the air.

We wanted peace, not war. Our guys were in Vietnam, fighting a war that was not our business although it was sold as a war against the spread of Communism. Since an all-out war on Russia was too risky we fought them in Vietnam, a tiny nation. It was an awful war, as all wars are, but even more difficult because of the terrain and the temperatures and a style of guerilla, hit-and-run warfare we were not prepared for. We responded with Agent Orange and napalm and learned that chemical warfare should be considered unacceptable forever after.

America, for once, found a voice of dissent. We wanted out of this war. But we were divided. Some Americans were hawks even in the Sixties who felt that America, when provoked must respond with military force. There were probably even cynics who believed that war always helped boost the American economy. For some people everything is about money. Many Americans supported the war because they are Americans, they are patriotic, and they had sons, daughters, husbands, fathers in Vietnam fighting this bizarre and deadly war.

We were experiencing a fairly new hostility to the very institutions at the foundations of the American economy. It was just hitting home that our democracy was not quite as democratic as we would like nor were our opportunities quite as equal as we would like. Some Americans began to suspect that the powerful people were stacking the deck in their favor and that our money was going to people who were already powerful and rich. The rich and powerful wanted a national government that was in the control of those who believed that we needed a strong military (possibly putting us in line to be permanently at war), and those who felt that if our laws favored industry the American economy would also be the strongest economy in the world. These folks believed that a strong military-industrial complex would keep America dominant on the world stage.

The other half of America railed against the “establishment” and wrote about change, talked about change, and demonstrated for change. This half of America even tried to live in the changed America they hoped was emerging. The straighter half of America grew long sideburns, wore bell bottoms and went off the work every day. They did not even understand what the “change” chants were all about. They felt that the counterculture was unreal, nonsensical, and possibly treasonous.

These were the days when pressure from people both black and white led to the Civil Rights Act signed in 1965. Passing a law never cures a society’s ills like magic. You can make people act in certain ways, but you cannot make them feel certain things. But this law represented the kind of humanitarian changes that resulted from the idealistic and, some believed, airy-fairy view that was currency in the counterculture. Learning to accept the diverse nature of America’s people was very much a part of “hippie” philosophy. In cities we saw more racial mixing than occurred in earlier decades. Concern about poorer Americans became an issue that should not only be addressed by churches, but also by the American government.

And we had the pill, the birth control pill which gave women the freedom to control their own futures. They could enjoy physical intimacy without having to accept that this would almost inevitably produce an offspring, either planned or unplanned. Women were already a fixture in the workplace, but now you could choose to pursue a serious career, like a man could. Women talked and talked in consciousness raising groups all over America. It gave women a heady sense that they were not just appendages of men. They were half of the human race and they were not feeling at all submissive. Why were they given brains that worked so well if they were not intended to share in their culture and contribute to their culture?

There were always establishment forces who hated these movements that began in the Sixties. Richard Nixon embodied that snide, entrenched opposition to all things “new age”. The side wars between John Lennon and Richard Nixon are perfect representations of how ridiculous and petty his resistance and his fear often seemed. Although John Lennon lived the “revolution” he had too many personal problems to be a real threat. He was essentially an artist, someone who could inspire a counterculture war, but not lead it.

The “establishment” hated the counterculture. Many of the laws, policies, and programs that Republicans hate most have roots in the Sixties. The Great Society may not have arisen fully formed in the Sixties but you can see counterculture concerns all over it. The Great Society gave rise to “big government”. Even environmentalism tended to split along the lines established in the Sixties.

The same decade also gave America a culture split between the Hawks and the Doves. Imperialism, colonialism, American interference in foreign government, regime change were all “old” philosophies of arrogant nations according to the members of the counterculture. These strategies for control of others were now considered wrong and unsuited to the ideals of a democratic nation. But not by everyone. The Republicans did not soften their foreign policy stances. They felt that if America did not remain number one in every arena then America would no longer exist as a nation. We would give up dreams of empire and become just another less-than-spectacular nation among many.

Conservatives have always been wary of social programs. No social program could be passed without ways to make it onerous built in. People who needed help must always be punished for their failure to compete and survive. We do not even know how social programs would have fared if they were offered without blame and without layers and layers of bureaucracy. Can you have both accountability and simplicity or is that something that will always be a paradox?

Many of the people who fell for the things that were broadcast incessantly on Talk Radio and Fox News are the same people who never joined the counterculture. They considered it a passing fancy. They had families to support and they had to work hard to do that but they also had a carrot in front of them. It was the carrot of prosperity, of a legacy for their families, of their own little dynasty that lived and worked nearby, of a retirement of leisure and time to pursue all of the pleasures they had deferred, the carrot of safety and peace. Then the dream began to collapse, one factory at a time, one child leaving home at a time, one pension at a time, one housing bubble at a time.

Is the counterculture to blame for their loss? Is this those damn hippies again? No matter. They look to the very same establishment that shafted them to lift them back up. And we all get President Trump. These “straight shooters” think they have elected a new Ronald Reagan. I believe that a President Trump will more closely resemble a Richard Nixon.

Will the Sixties really die, or will the movement just go underground training new young people in the use of the “force” so we can clean up the mean mess when the fever finally burns out? We might have to bide our time for a bit and see what shakes out but we will stay in touch.

The Deplorables, the Republicans, and the Media

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The Deplorables, The Republicans and the Media

I will eventually get to the “deplorables” but you must be patient while I make all the connections I need to make in order to make my points believable. Bear with me while I fill in the backstory. Even though it sounds overly familiar, follow along with it one more time. Recent events have their roots in the past, as is usually true with all human endeavors.

Strange Bedfellow Reprise

I once painted a word picture of a bed full of strange bedfellows with the hardworking average Americans on one side of the bed with their corporate bosses who either still employ them or who have abandoned them on the other side and as the pillow that separates these two normally adversarial groups is the Republican Party.

Nestled in with those hardworking average Americans are some right wing fringe groups of Americans, the militia folks who turned out to start a war over Cliven Bundy, and yes the haters, the misogynists, the xenophobes, the homophobes, the anti-Semitics, the racists, those who never accepted that the Confederacy lost the Civil War, and even perhaps downright fascists and neo-Nazis. I made it seem to be mystifying that these folks were in the same bed but it really isn’t all that surprising.

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Republican Media and the Strange Bedfellows

The ideological glue that holds these people so unnaturally together is what the GOP has been sending out over the radio waves (the radio!) in those Talk Radio shows of Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, and others for more than a decade. Republicans certainly knew their audience. They did not aim for Big Business, they colluded with Big Business. Their party was dwindling in influence and size. They needed voters. So the GOP through their media began saying the things that they knew would resonate with truckers on long distance trips, displaced workers tuning-in in garages or in their cars.

They began to say that America was being ruined, that America was being downgraded to a second-rate nation; that our leaders were knuckling under to China and at the mercy of Islamic terrorists. They took little or no responsibility for our factories relocating to the East. They took no responsibility for helping to pass laws that took away penalties, or at least did not levy penalties on companies who took their factories elsewhere where there was cheaper labor and lot of fresh consumers.

They blamed the Democrats for trade deals and high taxes and too many regulations, for being in cahoots with demanding labor unions, and for environmental regulations, although many of these measures had appealed to our officials on both sides of the aisle. They seduced their listeners by speaking back to them the things that they said when they gathered together. For the most part this was guy stuff, although now husbands have brought their wives along with them and many single women who lost employment have also joined the movement.

Once Fox News went on TV and said in living color, in a format that looked exactly like news (but wasn’t) what the Talk Radio people had been whispering in American ears in black and white, the GOP realized that they had hit on a formula that could well put them back in the White House. When they added in the Patriot talk, the veneration of the flag, and took to the airwaves as the sole protectors of our veterans American was theirs, at least the white, immigrated in the 19th century, bunch.

I watched them grow their influence and it did look like the waves of grain that symbolize the American heartland (another word they latched onto with everyone sending each other little hearts on Facebook.) They hypnotized America, they brainwashed America and they turned workers who had no work into pod people. They occupied their brains and promised them exactly what they wanted. They said they would get their jobs back and they made sure that everyone could own a gun just in case they could no longer trust their government.

That is how people who did not wear suits ended up in that bed with all the suits.

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How Republican Media called out to the Deplorables

The Republican Party has been using their own media to demonize Democrats. Media once tried to go for a balanced approach that sort of gave credence to the policies advocated by either side. The Republicans created a deliberately partisan media that spouted anti-Democrat messaging 24 hours a day. It is probably why the new idiom “24/7” was invented.

The GOP made the Democratic Party the party of immigrants so they could blame job loss on immigrants, especially immigrants who did not enter America through legal channels. They told workers who had to take jobs that paid far less than their old jobs that their tax dollars were being given to these illegal immigrants. Their tax dollars were being given to people who had never held a job or never would, and they painted those people’s skins as black. That is how they fed into and strengthened an image of the freeloading “other” that already existed.

Too bad the intelligence we have about terrorists is not as good as the intelligence the Republicans have about the American middle class. Of course the Republicans are the party that created the NSA with the Patriot Acts. When a black man became our President that was truly serendipity. Implying that he was not a true American, that he was not a Christian, that he belonged to a church that spewed hate about white folks in America – bonanza!

Are all of the white Americans who have been wooed and won by nonstop propaganda deplorable? I don’t think so. Are there deplorable individuals who climbed aboard the GOP train because the rhetoric resonated with their own narrow-minded beliefs? Absolutely. Are there quite of few of them? Sadly it seems that there might be. Do people who are not deplorable hold to some deplorable ideas? I would have to say that that is true.

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Is the tribalism that defines the American social landscape deplorable? Will it lead us to anything positive if we are at each other’s throats? Can you make a better future when people are so invested in their own mindset that they want to lash out at anyone who thinks differently? Will dividing America into tribes who defend their territory, separating us all with hate and bile, eventually produce an America that links arms and unites to produce a more peaceful world in which we all can live? How can dividing into separate camps ever lead to unity, tolerance, and the creative spirit we need to meet the challenges of our tiny planet hurtling through space.

The Republicans have exploited our differences and exaggerated our differences in order to gin up votes because they want, they desire, they must control all three branches of our government. They must truly believe that they can restore America to a former glory that has never really been lost. Although we may be in a down cycle right now and recent developments abroad have given us more competition we are still a great nation and a world leader.

The Republicans profess their policies in almost biblical tones. They are trained to repeat talking points, to talk over their opponents, to obliterate foes with data even if the data is made up. They must think that “trickle-down economics” and cutting taxes and getting rid of regulations on business and investment, privatizing everything and building our military while cutting the size of federal government, that all of these strategies are the Holy Grail to reproducing the America that used to be so powerful and so productive.

But the GOP did not trust the American people to understand how successful their policies might be because so many of us do not agree that these policies will improve America. They still had to use propaganda to win. If you have right on your side why would you create this whole matrix of mesmerizing mind games?

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Will Donald Trump and his band of Deplorables Make America Great Again?

Now the GOP is the party of Donald Trump who is the pied piper of the “deplorables”, regardless of how shocked the Republicans act about what Hillary said. In the future qualities like xenophobia, racism, and misogyny will not help us create the global society, which is evolving whether we like it or not. These feelings are backward and really don’t belong in a nation that espouses equality. They will only produce a more primitive American, not a futuristic America. The fact that these people have found a home in the Republican Party with Donald Trump at its helm is the best reason of all to elect Democrats in 2016. We need to fight these feelings in ourselves not give them free rein.