Republicans and Trump Question Validity of the House of Representatives and the Democratic Party

Republicans and Trump Question Validity of the House of Representatives and the Democratic Party (or in GOP speak, the Democrat Party)

The Democrats won enough seats in the House of Representatives in 2016 to become the majority party in that legislative branch of Congress. The GOP still has a majority in the Senate. The Democrats, when they won the House, won the right to conduct investigations of the executive branch. Congress has a vital role to use checks and balances to keep the executive branch from adventures in authoritarianism, such as the ones occurring in the administration of Donald Trump.

Clearly we have in the White House (where the executive branch is housed) a leader who is in serious need of some checks and balances. Just this week that leader, our president said, “No one disobeys me.”

This same president refuses to provide the investigations of well-respected committees in the House with his tax and other financial documents which our laws state “shall be turned over upon request”. This president swore an oath to protect and defend the very laws that he is defying. He apparently uses the Constitution as a pack of napkins to mop up from his “happy meal”. He also refuses to let his staff, present or former, testify before any of the House investigative committees. You would think that he might be worried about the optics of such an imperial dictate, but this president doesn’t respect the American people enough to worry about what they think. For him, it is enough that his own followers and his own news outlet will find his exercise of authority strong, rather than dismissive of our laws.

To most of us it appears that Trump ignores the very basis of our republic, that he verbally rewrites the entire power structure that has guided our nation for approximately 240 years by making the executive the branch around which all other branches revolve. However, that is the place in which our forefathers put the Congress. Trump is turning the presidency into an absolutist office served by the rest of the executive branch (including the Justice Department), by the Congress and by the courts. Trump is the “sun” around which the “planets” revolve.

This could be an insurrection of sorts, it could be a coup, it could be treason. America will cross the line from a democratic republic to an autocracy if Trump is able to ignore the Constitution and our laws with impunity, if he is able to ignore the sections of our documents which require him to respect both houses of Congress and all Americans, not just his own party.

Presidents being investigated often try to make such an investigation impossible with a number of squirmy strategies. This is not the first Congress to have to corral the powerful. But we have a president who seems to be able to use verbal abuse and victimhood to wiggle out of any negative judgment. How can this man who is so obviously a threat to our democracy/republic have people so loyal they will risk our freedom by their willingness to suspend the rules?

Democrats in the House will fight back, will get subpoenas to take Trump to court, but not if the Senate and Republicans will not honor the powers of the House when Democrats make up the majority. Republicans heckle Democrats, distract by blaming Obama or Hillary or demonizing the Democrats, bringing up old business, sometimes in statements that are blatantly ridiculous, sometimes in ways that send everyone scrambling to fact checkers to recheck claims that have already been proven false many times. If there is a public committee hearing, Republicans act like the boys who used to sit in the back row of the classroom in high school. I think their behavior goes beyond normal antagonism into derision and reflects more poorly on them than on their opponents.

Trump has placed himself in a position where he can stand alone as the “chief obstructer”, because he has sidelined any opposition with his contempt and stubbornness, and has surrounded himself with those who are finally faithful only to him. Has he won control of America? Has he already taken over, or do Democrats still have a chance to turn things around, to make our documents matter again? If Trump can keep saying no and delaying Dem investigations all the way until the 2020 election that will put him in a very powerful position, even though it should have exactly the opposite effect.

Trump could never obstruct and delay if the Republican Party had not already bowed down to Trump. They believe that Trump helps their Party, but the relationship works the other way around. The GOP enables and defends Trump as he takes over America right in front of their eyes. He does not do this for the Republican Party. He does this for himself. Trump does not share power. We should never forget the role of the Republican Party in all this. Their actions are seditious.

Our documents do not say that once you go through a special investigation you are not required to cooperate in any Congressional investigation. Trump insists that the special investigation makes all other investigation unnecessary, despite the fact that Mueller never looked at Trump’s finances, or the emoluments issues raised by that hotel in Washington, or the nepotism of placing family members in important government positions. And although Republicans and the DOJ say that Trump was totally exonerated by the Mueller Report, the Mueller Report itself, and the Democrats do not agree.

However, because Trump is willing to trample on the Constitution, to basically ignore it as if it does not exist, he thereby makes our most central government document worthless. Because he is willing to deny power to a party even once it has won a majority further destroys the credibility of our system of government. That means that as long as Trump is in office there is no Constitutional government in the United States of America.

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search: ACLU

You can also find me at Tremr

Republicans on Judiciary Should Recuse

 

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

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

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

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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.

https://www.thearmchairobserver.com/donald-trump-deranged/

https://www.thearmchairobserver.com/donald-trump-deranged-details/

https://www.thearmchairobserver.com/the-bully-vs-the-wonk-debates/

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

https://www.thearmchairobserver.com/i-blame-donald-trump/

https://www.thearmchairobserver.com/trump-demographics/

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

https://www.thearmchairobserver.com/stopping-donald-trump/

https://www.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.

 

A Plague on Both Your Houses?

People, and this includes some of my liberal
friends, are always saying that the dysfunction in Washington right now can be
laid at the feet of both parties. They believe that Democrats and Republicans
are equally to blame for the partisanship and obstruction, for the enormous gap
between the wealthy and the rest of us. And, of course, they are right, or in a
way they are right. Money is far too important in Washington. It talks louder
than we the people who can’t afford to make our voices heard because we cannot
amass enough money to turn up the volume. We do need to deal with the outsized
influences of special interests with lots of bucks, of Wall Street and the
banks, and of big business.
However the Republicans have introduced another
whole level of political drama that we must deal with first. Republicans have
gone off the rails, off the deep end, delusional, and are aggressively pursuing
reactionary policies that will hardly take America into a prosperous future.
Democrats have been slow to counter the outrageous activities of the
Republicans. Democrats have been shy, hanging back. They want to pretend that
regular order still pertains in Washington. They are stodgy, self-conscious and
do not want to match the operatic tone of the GOP (or the Biblical Old
Testament tone either). That may be all to the good. Watching the full opera
treatment play out in Washington might be too much for everyone.
However, we the people need to understand that, although
our elected Congressmen in both parties are too involved with amassing personal
wealth and a power base that will give them staying power and clout, the
impasse we are presently in cannot be attributed equally to both parties. Both
parties are not trying to rewrite the Constitution. Both parties are not trying
to make it more difficult to vote. Both parties are not trying to overturn 50
year old court rulings that offered new hope to many beleaguered women. Both
parties are not trying to privatize everything. And both parties are not trying
to bring back a brand of Federalism that lost the debate the first time it was
hotly contested in the 1780’s.
My point is that before we can deal with the greedy
we need to deal with the nutty. This is what us lefties are trying to say to
our families and our neighbors who support the GOP no matter how insane their
actions.
There is a word that describes the things some
Republicans have been saying and that word is fascism. I did not want to be the
first person to use this politically and emotionally charged word in relation
to the Republican candidates for the Presidency of our nation but last night on
TV someone (sorry I don’t remember who) brought up this term which has not
really been used much since Mussolini rose to power in Italy. Go over the
definition carefully and see if it does or does not fit current circumstances.
This definition was offered by Google
.
noun: fascism; noun: Fascism;
plural noun: Fascisms
  1. an authoritarian and nationalistic right-wing system of
    government and social organization.
synonyms:
authoritarianism, totalitarianism,
dictatorship,
despotism,
autocracy;
More
Nazism, rightism;
neofascism, neo-Nazism
“a film depicting the rise of
fascism in the 1930s”
o   
(in general use) extreme right-wing,
authoritarian, or intolerant views or practice.
Origin
from Italian fascismo, from fascio
‘bundle, political group,’ from Latin fascis (see fasces).
Translate fascism to
Use over time for: fascism
So when we have people like Donald Trump saying that
he will register all Muslims and keep certain mosques under surveillance and he
will send any Syrian refugees that come to America straight back to Syria he is
pandering to the xenophobia in us in order to get us to elect him. And his
actions are fascist.
We also have the Republican candidates who would
like to turn America into an Evangelical Christian theocracy. So when we hear
Ted Cruz, this guy who supposedly channels our forefathers, say that we should
accept only Christians from Syria we should hear a crowd behind him loudly
whispering “fascist”, “fascist”, “fascist”, because what he is advocating is
certainly not the Democracy our founders designed. But we don’t hear any great
outcry. Our media bends over backwards to fairly represent the policies of both
political parties. And Americans just keep watching FOX News, which barely
qualifies as a news channel. (Stop watching FOX News!)
So let me say once again that in terms of setting
priorities we need to get rid of the nuts in Washington before we can tackle
the greed that is distorting our government. Both threaten our Democracy but
the extremists have only recently taken over the top spot on that priority list
(just since Obama took office). They seem able to say any old un-American thing
and still maintain their popularity. This is why we need to elect a Democratic
President in 2016. Sadly, the left may have entered the fray too late in the
game. There is no way in which I accept the claim some people repeat again and
again that both parties contribute equally to the recent dysfunction in
Washington.
By Nancy Brisson 
(graphic from time.com)

If Only

The Republicans are always bemoaning Obama’s foreign
policy. He’s weak, he’s feckless; Obama’s policies are making America lose its
gravitas in the world. Republicans blame the entire chaos in the Middle East
and beyond on Obama. Last Sunday, Chris Christie said that Obama is hurting
America so much with his foreign policy that he should be removed from office.
Republicans say that Obama should have never backed
down from that red line in Syria. If only he did not back down then Assad would
already be gone. This is just a theory of course, even though they say it as if
it were fact. There is no proof that this is true and in fact, since it is a
hypothetical, it cannot be proved. Assad is stubbornly large and in charge,
willing to let refugees from his entrenched and unpopular regime flood first
his neighbors in the Middle East and now Europe. He has the backing of Putin
and everyone is trying to avoid an all-out war with Putin, because he seems to
want one so badly.
Republicans say, if only Obama had not pulled all
our troops out of Iraq. They are trying to sell the idea that Obama, even more
so than Bush, made the mess in the Middle East and the formation of ISIL is
therefore also Obama’s fault. (They love this twisted reasoning that makes my
brain feel like a pretzel.) Some people seem to be buying this but the rest of
us have longer memories.
As we watched the same American troops serve duty
after duty in Iraq (and Afghanistan), as we watched how IED’s were depriving
generations of men and women of the limbs they were born with, as we got better
and better at manufacturing futuristic prostheses and all-terrain wheel chairs,
we came to believe that the human costs were too great and the rewards too
small. People knew there were different sects in these ancient lands but they
underestimated the bad feelings that had been pent up over the decades, along
with the social hierarchies that defined the pecking order of the various
sects. Our troops were stretched too thin and regrouping was a good strategy.
If we had stayed in Iraq we would have been reviled
as imperialists, heretics, occupiers, all old labels we were trying to shake
off. Once Bush unleashed all of this, the whole struggle became our business
only in the sense that we need to contain it.
If only we had stayed in Afghanistan, the GOP
opines, then we would not have allowed the Taliban to come back in. Forget that
we only went in to get Al Qaeda and Bin Laden. Forget that, although the
Taliban is anathema to people who love human rights and freedom, beating back
the Taliban was actually a different fight than the one that originally sucked
us into Afghanistan. And as much as we gained ground and beat back the Taliban,
as much as we don’t want to see our hard-won victories undone and the risks
that our soldiers took disappear into this rocky land as if they never
accomplished anything good for the people of Afghanistan, we don’t want to be
occupiers, and how long could we stay in Afghanistan among hostile people who
had asked us to leave.
If only the Iran Nuclear Agreement was better,
Republicans say. Obama gave away all America’s power. Being diplomatic with
these people won’t fly critics say. If will only make us appear weak and if
they think we are weak they will find ways to exploit that weakness. But there
is so much hostility and competition among nations. Why are these times turning
into such a flash point with everything in turmoil at the same time?
It sounds reassuring to build up our military,
perhaps to reinstate the draft if we can’t find enough volunteers. It sounds
like security to build up our navy and our air force, to stock pile weapons, to
be the toughest nation on the globe. Perhaps we think we need to fight fear
with fear – bring back the Cold War only bigger, colder. The more militaristic
we get though, the more militaristic are ‘enemies’ get. If only Republicans
understood de-escalation, diplomacy, defusing confrontation. If we presented a
united front to try to do that deescalating hostilities thing we might find
strength and perhaps even respect from that.
The Republicans may have their if-onlys – but I have
my own too. I think mine make more sense on a tiny planet with 7 billion+
people that feels, right now, like it is on the verge of apocalypse.
By Nancy Brisson

What If?

We will never get to see what the results of Obama and the
Democratic Party’s liberal agenda would have been if the obstructionists in the
Republican Party did not hold the Democrats back.  One area where this is true is in the health
of America’s economy. We will never see if loosening up on the budget a bit
would have allowed business to come back even better than it has since the
recession, because the Republicans insisted that the budget needed to be cut
and threatened to shut down government unless it was cut. So we see what
semi-austerity allowed, but we can’t go back and take that other pathway and
see what would have resulted from a little spending, not go-wild spending but
careful injections of cash. They might have acted like those cortisone shots
people get for their arthritis, but we will never know. Instead we got The
Sequester, which as far as I can see has had no positive effects on our
economy.
We could have experimented with raising taxes on the
wealthiest people and, since corporations are now people, on corporations, and
although we did get rid of the Bush tax cuts this and was not enough to cause a change in our economy. Would higher taxes
have been a shot in the arm our economy needed or would these taxes have made
the business climate in America worse as the GOP informed us they would. Since
these things are predictions and since the variables we might have examined
never included any appreciable tax increases we will never know if America
might have done even better in the Obama years than it did.
We could have experimented with some basic gun regulations
like registrations of all gun sales with records retained for use by law
enforcement. We could have done this for perhaps five years and we would already
know the results by now. Did shooters still continue to target people who are
either captive in public spaces as in the case of schools or are congregating
socially in public places as malls, movie theaters, and churches? But an
obdurate group of extremists has managed to convince Americans that President
Obama is just waiting to take away all their guns and turn himself into
President-for-Life Obama, crushing our 2nd Amendment rights forever.
We will be the new Cuba. This is nonsense. Are the perpetrators really
frightened (I doubt it) or are they just trying to have their way with the
American people regardless of who the President is. (Much more likely)
What about infrastructure? If Obama had been allowed to begin
a few infrastructure projects (not Keystone) would that have brought up the
employment numbers? Would it have helped move more people into a comfortable
financial condition? We have no idea. We did not get to find out.
So when you hear the Republicans blame Obama for America’s
slow economic recovery, unless you are totally hypnotized by FOX News and have
to get your right wing fix every day, then you must admit that there is some
truth to the things I have just talked about. Perhaps instead of saving America
by refusing to give Obama (and the American people) a decent allowance the
Republicans are actually responsible for some of the atrophy in the America
economy. Why would you trust people who want to get rid of the Federal
government to mess with the Federal Budget? How small do you want your
government to be? These folks still want to end all social programs including
Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and they have already made a start on
this in their home states.  So why would
we elect a Republican President and hand them the whole kit and caboodle when
we have already been following their policies by default and they have not been
working. Think it through and you might agree with some of this.
By Nancy Brisson

Why Would Anyone Be a Republican?

Somedays it seems that there are so many things to
say about the GOP that it is impossible to pick just one. When I hear the
ridiculous, tone deaf things Republicans say I can’t believe that anyone claims
an affiliation with this particular party.
It is not just because Ben Carson says that the
students in Oregon should have attacked that gunman en masse and that if they
did attack then the gunman would probably be able to shoot only the first
person to oppose him. We all know what this is – it is blame the victim.
If we should all be ready to attack an armed person
at any moment then I think we need to be like Israel and require everyone to
serve a stint in the military. That way we will be trained in combat, our
reflexes will be quick, and we will be skilled in the correct approach to
disarming an armed person intent on taking us out.
Carson, not yet sure he had made his point,
continued on to say that he would rather see someone riddled with bullets than
give up his guns. Who was ever actually offered that choice? Do we all get a
chance to answer? Is he actually saying that he would rather see people shot to
death than give up his guns? This is not in the context of a revolution, it is
in the context of a massacre. He is not Patrick Henry saying ‘give me liberty
or give me death.’ He is saying I will never give up my guns to protect your
son or daughter from being senselessly slaughtered. No one has asked for your
guns Ben Carson. We have asked for your commonsense as a fellow citizen and a responsible
and well-educated adult. But we wish we did have the guns that the shooters took
to classrooms in Oregon, Sandy Hook, Columbine and more.
Our clothing is not designed to make carrying guns
easy or stylish. Will we all buy gun belts with holsters and learn how to twirl
our six-shooters? We will have to put fashion designer on notice about this new
style. Do the comments made by Ben Carson fall into the category of ridiculous,
or in the tone deaf one? I pick both.
Next we get the news that a new committee will be
formed in Congress to investigate Planned Parenthood. Americans do not react.
They just keep texting one another and sharing cute jokes on Facebook and I do
these things too. But these men are using our money to hound poor women and
take away their health services and they are using sneaky tactics to close down
all the centers where any woman can get an abortion, in their own state at the
very least; but their true target is the entire nation.
I’m surprised they don’t offer a deal. If you
liberals give up abortion rights we’ll be quiet about same-sex marriage. But
they cannot be quiet about either because their religion won’t let them.
We don’t need a committee to investigate Planned
Parenthood. Isn’t there any way to stop these guys? Isn’t anyone angry about
the atavistic bombardment of women by these reactionary males trying to prove
their alpha male bona fides? Or if not isn’t anyone at least angry about our
tax dollars being spent to form another committee we don’t need.
Few people speak up. Do they like what the
Republicans are saying and doing, or is it that they have no desire to be an
activist? Ours is a country which relies on us to govern (of the people, by the
people, for the people). Sometimes we need to let our representatives know when
we are displeased. If you don’t want to march or carry a sign at least you can
sign a petition online or drop an email to your Congressperson. All their email
addresses are available online.
I could go on and list more ways the GOP ticked me
off this week but, for now, enough.  You’ll be happy to hear that there will be more
later.
By Nancy Brisson