A Strong, Intelligent, Compassionate Speech

The president spoke non-stop for over an hour, stuttered only a few times (I, too, am a stutterer and would not have done nearly as well as he did!), and gave a passionate, intelligent, well-reasoned speech.  There were one or two points on which I might have disagreed, but not strongly.  I have some views on his speech, as I’m sure those of you who watched it do, and I’ll share them here, and be happy to hear what you thought, as well.

First, over the past several months, I have heard many say that President Biden is too old for the job, that his mental acuity is declining.  Folks, let me tell you something … if you watched the speech last night, there can be no doubt that he is as sharp as ever!  I could not have given a speech for that long, incorporated that much, and still had the stamina to shake hands with a few hundred people as I tried to leave the building!  He knew what he wanted to say, was passionate in his views, empathetic where empathy was called for, and he was strong where strength was needed!  He made no bones about the divided Congress and some of the Republican antics, and he plainly stated that if certain bills came to his desk, he would veto them!

He did something that has not been done before, as far as I know, in the history of State of the Union Addresses … he gained bipartisan agreement to an issue.  He garnered a verbal agreement to take cutting Social Security and Medicare off the negotiating table in cost cutting discussions connected to raising the debt ceiling.  That, folks, may not seem like much, but believe me … it is.

He had energy, he had passion, he has a strong desire to overcome the partisan obstacles that are hindering this nation.  Those who say he is too old … think again.  Yes, he is old and in that, my biggest concern would be that something – a stroke, heart attack, or death – would overtake him at some point, but … John F. Kennedy was the youngest president when he was elected in 1960 … and look what happened.  To those who claim he is too old and shouldn’t run again, I ask you this:  Who better?

Give me a name … tell me who else you see out there who could not only win an election in 21 months, but also lead this nation as well as President Biden is doing?  I can think of a number of younger Democrats who, at some point in the future, might well be excellent presidential material:  Pete Buttigieg, Cory Booker, Hakeem Jeffries come to mind almost immediately.  But not today.  First, none have the name recognition nor backing, the political capital, that would be needed to propel them into the Oval Office.  Second, given the rising climate of bigotry, propelled by many Republicans such as Ron DeSantis … well, you see the problem.  Of those three, one is LGBTQ and the other two are Black.  No, it shouldn’t matter … it really doesn’t matter … but it would quite probably be enough to keep them from winning the election in 2024.

I hate that presidential elections now last for the entire two years prior to the actual election.  It means a number of things:  we are deluged with campaign ads and requests for donations for two full years; our elected officials are too busy campaigning for the next election to do their jobs now; the dynamics turn on a dime and the potential candidate who is ‘on top’ today may sink to the bottom tomorrow based on one leaked piece of information, whether fact or fiction.  It’s like being on an out-of-control carousel!  That said, it doesn’t change, so we must face the reality and prepare for it.

If the Democrats continue bemoaning President Biden’s age and occasional stutter, if they keep saying he shouldn’t run, that he isn’t mentally sharp, yet they have no better option, they are in effect handing the 2024 election to whichever Republican candidate becomes the nominee, likely Ron DeSantis.  The Democrats need to bite the bullet, such as it is, band together and throw their full support behind the president.  If they fail to do this, the party will be too divided to make an effective showing in 2024 and will hand the presidency to the Republican Party.

President Biden was impressive last night … his record of accomplishments, coupled with his strong address last night prove he’s still up to the task of leading this nation.  He is intelligent, and of equal importance, he is a genuinely good person who cares deeply about people — ALL people.  Unless Democrats have an HiH (Hero in Hiding), a John F. Kennedy or some other candidate with “the right stuff”, then they need to unite behind the candidate who has already accomplished much and who has what it takes, despite his age, to get the job done.

So … what did you think of his speech?

Tit for Tat

You have often heard me say that sometimes I think our friends across the pond see our situation with more clarity than we do. There’s an old adage, “… can’t see the forest for the trees”, meaning sometimes we are too close to a situation, and if we could only step back a ways, we would see it more clearly. I’m often amazed by the interest our UK/European friends show in our political situation, but also their understanding of where we are headed. One such voice is David Prosser, who very clearly sees what is happening and where it could potentially lead if our elected officials are not held accountable for their actions. This is David’s insightful take on several aspects of our situation so far this year … thank you, David!

The BUTHIDARS

I promised myelf not to be surprised by anything more that American Politics threw up after the acquisition of the role of Speaker of the house by Kevin McCarthy. I say acquisiton rather than election as he had to sell his soul to get the post. The new owner of that soul is none other than Margie Greene who to my mind should not even be sitting in the house.

the tit for tat started early this week with thr removal of Representitive Ilhan Omar from her role on the House Foreign Affairs Committee because of anti semitism. Whilst to my mind, she has expressed strong views on the Israeli actions in Palestine, those views have been entirely valid. The treatment of Plestinians by Israeli forces has been abominable. I somehow doubt her removal frrom this important role will deter or lessen Ms Omar’s opinions.

But how is it that…

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Voices of Wisdom

One of the things that most concerns me today is Ron DeSantis’ attempts to re-write the history of this nation.  Bad enough that he has succeeded in making equality, education, and justice taboo in the state of Florida, but given his almost certain bid for the presidency next year, his obvious goal is to control the narrative at the national level – a move that can lead to only one place, a very dark and dangerous place.  The following by Dan Rather and Elliot Kirschner is a highly perceptive assessment of the danger that is Ron DeSantis.


Race Matters

Delighting in division

Dan Rather and Elliot Kirschner

02 February 2023

Much of American history is entangled with racism and white supremacy. That is the reality of our beloved nation, no matter how much we wish it were not.

As we sit here nearly a quarter of the way through the 21st century, it is obvious that we need to have the maturity to look back to our past as well as ahead to the future. Can we do this with our eyes wide open? Will we study and learn from the lessons of history?

You can’t grapple with the truth if you hide it from view. Yes, our national narrative is an inspiring one — of freedom, rights, and new opportunities. But it is also a narrative of pain — of the bondage, rape, and murder of enslaved people. It is a story of mass death, broken treaties, and land stolen from Native people. And it is a story of persecution of the “other,” time and again.

The chasm between the noble promises of our founding documents and our historical realities continues to obstruct our national journey toward a more perfect union.

Yes, ours is a country that has facilitated exploration, innovation, and growth, but it is also one built upon families torn apart at the auction block, bodies whipped, and police dogs and fire hoses set against children.

Cities were redlined. Public schools were segregated. And despite our carefully cultivated national image as a meritocracy, throughout our history we have seen talent overlooked and our common humanity diminished on account of people’s race, religion, and sexual orientation.

The ripples of injustice continue to destabilize our society.

It shouldn’t be controversial to say any of this. But acknowledging these truths today is a political act, because it threatens the privileged narratives of those who seek to sugarcoat our past. These are men and women who serve their own ambitions by fortifying their cynical holds on power, delighting in division, feeding off fear, and applauding anger.

And that brings us to Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis.

Listing all of his efforts to leverage the power of his office to attack equity, empathy, and justice would stretch this post immeasurably. But doing so would also jeopardize the central point: DeSantis is an opportunist. He is not weighing the merits of any one campaign. Rather, he wants headlines as a culture warrior standing up to “wokeness,” a term he has eagerly redefined to suit his own purposes. It allows him to sneer at and dismiss any attempt to reckon with American injustice.

DeSantis has focused his assaults on two of our society’s most traditionally marginalized groups: Black Americans and the LGBTQ community. While these populations have thus far felt the brunt of his targeting, we need to see clearly that his rhetoric is a threat to all who care about a democratic, peaceful, empathetic, and just America. Those of us with the greatest privilege should bear a special burden in rejecting this hate.

DeSantis’s pugilism has enabled him to consolidate power in Florida. Any opposition to his toxic initiatives must contend with the uncomfortable truth that voters validated his message and style via his landslide win in November. Now DeSantis thinks he can take his show on the road with a presidential bid. That remains to be seen. Florida has been trending Republican in recent years, and success there might not translate to the current battleground states, many of which saw big Democratic wins in the midterms.

All that being said, there is a great danger to framing this struggle primarily through the lens of electoral politics. This normalizes a discourse that should be rejected by society’s mainstream. Just as the outright bigotry of the past became socially unacceptable, so too should these latest attempts at divisiveness.

It should not surprise us that DeSantis is making schools — both K-12 and college — a central target. He wants to teach a distorted view of America. He wants to make dissenting speech not only suspect but even criminal. He wants to silence the voices of his critics and of critical thinking more generally. This is a playbook that has been followed by demagogues before to very dangerous ends.

It is essential that DeSantis not be covered by the press through a false equivalence paradigm. We can debate what we should teach and how to teach it. But we can’t replace the truth, as unsavory as it may be, with sanitized narratives that suit those already in power. This is a battle for the minds of the voters of the future. This is about what kind of nation we will become.

But DeSantis primarily cares about what kind of country we are now. He wants to appeal to fear because he thinks he can mine that fear for votes. That is his game plan. And he’s not hiding it. There can be no appeasement. DeSantis has already shown that he isn’t interested in deliberations or good faith compromise. Those would disrupt his approach of means to an end.

History illustrates that hatred can be taught, but so can empathy and justice. We are on a winding journey as a nation. And we have much farther to go. But we have made progress in the face of bigots and autocrats because people had the courage to forge the inequities of our past into a more equitable future.

This history, this truth, is what scares people like DeSantis the most. But it is one that can give us hope if we are determined not to look away.

The Next Two Years …

Looking ahead to the next two years in the United States Congress, I think we all foresee chaos.  I don’t anticipate that the work of government, the work of We the People will be done, since the Republican-led House of Representatives has already told us they have no intention of doing their jobs.  They have made it clear they plan to obfuscate and obstruct the will of the people by impeaching not only the president (not for any crimes, real or imagined, but simply in retaliation for the twice-impeached former guy), and then they plan to defund the FBI, but only after a lengthy, costly investigation led by the likes of Gym … er, Jim Jordan, himself a criminal.  So, it would be easy to slip into despair, wondering why we are even bothering to pay taxes to keep the government running if they aren’t planning to do a damn thing about such important issues as the environment, guns, healthcare, education, voting rights, women’s rights, and the multitude of things that we hired them to address.  But Robert Hubbell has a slightly different take, one which I think deserves some pondering.  Here is a portion of his post …


The next two years.

Robert Hubbell

02 January 2023

As we enter 2023, there is no escaping the fact that we are beginning the long march toward the presidential election of 2024. As we start that journey, we have every reason to be confident about our ability to rise to the occasion. We did so in 2022, as we did in 2020 and 2018. The lesson of each of those campaigns is that our biggest challenge is overcoming the persistent media narrative that the Democratic Party is in disarray while the MAGA wing of the Republican Party is ascendant. That has not been an accurate description of the political dynamic in America since 2016, but the media has been like a dog with a bone—it won’t give up the negative narrative about the Democratic Party despite all objective evidence to the contrary.

          On the Democratic side of the scale are the results of the last three elections (or four if you consider the popular vote in 2016). On the Republican side are four losing elections and truly daunting challenges entering 2023. While we should never count on Republicans to defeat themselves, the narrative is misleading if we focus exclusively on the challenges facing Democrats—a favorite journalistic technique whenever a story is needed to predict doom for the Democratic Party.

          The stories circulating at the top of the news cycle this week highlight the challenges the Republican Party will face as it begins to awake from a six-year binge with a strange bedfellow whose appearance in the harsh morning light of 2023 should give the GOP a sinking feeling of regret and panic. Let’s see what the GOP sees in the mirror at the dawn of a new year.

The impossibility of breaking up with Trump.

          A sizable portion of the Republican Party is done with Trump—but it will be impossible for the GOP to break up with Trump. He will either be the 2024 GOP nominee, or he will destroy the party in the process of losing the nomination. Worse, just as MAGA extremism appears to have crested at the polls, Trump is forcing contenders for the nomination to “out-Trump Trump” in their quest for the 2024 nomination. See, e.g., Ron DeSantis, Greg Abbott, and Kari Lake.

          Trump began the new year by sending a warning shot across the bow of the Republican Party. Last week, Trump posted an article titled The Coming Split on his vanity social media platform, Truth Social. The article urged Trump to run as a third-party candidate if the GOP does not nominate him for president in 2024. See Huff Post, Trump Appears To Float Third-Party Threat If GOP Won’t Back Him | HuffPost Latest News.

          The author of the article, right-wing journalist Dan Gelernter, wrote the following:

Do I think Trump can win as a third-party candidate? No. Would I vote for him as a third-party candidate? Yes. Because I’m not interested in propping up this corrupt [GOP] gravy-train any longer. . . . What should we do when a majority of Republicans want Trump, but the Republican Party says we can’t have him? Do we knuckle under and vote for Ron DeSantis because he would be vastly better than any Democrat? I say no, we don’t knuckle under.

          As noted in the HuffPo article, current RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel told Trump that if he runs as a third party, “We [the GOP] will lose forever.” McDaniel is right. If Trump leaves the GOP, it will be nearly impossible for another GOP candidate to win in a general election. And the result will be the same if Trump mounts a third-party challenge or merely sulks at Mar-a-Lago, hurling insults and raising money for Trump-affiliated PACs that he spends on legal defense and tacky parties.

          Despite Trump’s weakened state from the midterms and mounting legal problems, Kevin McCarthy’s inability to secure the votes to become Speaker is directly related to Trump’s continuing gravitational pull on the GOP. The Freedom Caucus and assorted crazies in the GOP are demanding that McCarthy veer to the extreme edges of MAGA extremism to garner their support. For example, McCarthy has floated the idea of Jim Jordan leading a Judiciary Committee investigation into FBI Director Christopher Wray because . . . . well, you know. In MAGA-world, “FBI bad, Oath Keepers good.” Trump appointed Wray as FBI Director but has been highly critical of Wray’s unwillingness to pursue Trump’s revenge agenda against Hunter Biden, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, etc.

          Likewise, Ronna McDaniel is trying to keep her job as the Chair of the Republican Committee by saying that the top priority of Republicans in the new congressional term is “getting to the bottom of Hunter Biden’s laptop.”  That should be a pretty easy task since Rudy Giuliani has had a copy of the hard drive from Hunter Biden’s laptop since October 2020. If there is anything on the laptop worth getting to the bottom of, it should have emerged by now. More importantly, the obsession with Hunter Biden’s laptop illustrates that the Trump revenge agenda is eclipsing the ability of the GOP to pursue a substantive agenda.

          So, there you have it. Trump won’t let the GOP walk out the door without starting an internecine war that may destroy the party. And even without Trump actively trying to destroy the party, he has unleashed reactionary forces that even he cannot restrain. Over the weekend, McCarthy reportedly offered a concession to the radical wing of the Freedom Caucus that would allow a handful of Representative to call for a “no confidence” vote on the Speaker—something McCarthy previously said he would “never” do. As a result, the extremists in the GOP, like Matt Gaetz, will be controlling the GOP agenda in Congress. See Newsweek,  Steve Bannon says Matt Gaetz Will Be ‘De Facto’ Speaker After McCarthy Concessions.

          [Update: McCarthy’s humiliating offer to allow a “motion to vacate” by five members was rejected in a letter by nine Republican members sent on New Year’s Day.]

          Whatever challenges Democrats face as they move toward 2024, those challenges do not include an inevitable struggle for control of the party that will inflict grievous injury no matter the outcome. Democrats face challenges, too, and we will be reminded of them early and often by the media. So, keep in mind that the next two years will be extraordinarily difficult for the GOP, even if the media fails to mention that fact.

Dealing with the polls over the next two years.

          It was not your imagination. Polling regarding the 2022 midterms was not only wrong, it was so wrong that it may have negatively affected Democratic prospects in some contests. The NYTimes published a lengthy analysis of the polling errors in 2022. See NYTimes, The ‘Red Wave’ Washout: How Skewed Polls Fed a False Election Narrative. Kudos to the Times for engaging in introspection about how the media amplified misleading polls. The Times does not mention its own prominent role in distorting the narrative to the detriment of Democrats.

          The lengthy analysis in the Times can be distilled to the following:

  • Polls are not elections.
  • In a closely divided electorate, polls communicate virtually no useful information.
  • Republicans have figured out how to manipulate polls.
  • Polling aggregators like Fivethirtyeight.com and the media amplify the misleading polls generated by partisan affiliates of the GOP.
  • Misinformation from junk polls depressed Democratic turnout in certain instances.

          The ability of Republican pollsters to distort the media narrative had real-life consequences on the outcomes in 2022. Democratic funders abandoned Mandela Barnes in his race against Ron Johnson when garbage Republican polls began to suggest that Johnson was pulling ahead of Barnes by five points (or more). In the end, Barnes lost by one percentage point. But the “negative narrative” resulted in a fundraising edge by Ron Johnson of $26 million.

          What if Democratic funders had not abandoned Barnes based on misleading polling? Would Barnes have fared better if the Democrats had not ceded the fundraising advantage to Ron Johnson? We will never know the answers to those questions for certain. But we can stop falling for the same stupid Republican games in the future.

          So, here’s the point: Don’t stress out over polls during the next two years. We must go about our business as if every vote might be the deciding vote in every election.

Some New Year’s Toons

What better way to welcome in a new year than with some New Year’s ‘toons?  The poor li’l baby 2023 doesn’t know what he’s let himself in for!


And now, it’s time to take the tree down, vacuum up the pine needles, and curl up with a good book and tune out the world for a day!  Well, okay, maybe only for a couple of hours, during which time I’ll probably fall asleep!

If You Cut Off The Head Of A Snake …

Robert Reich’s piece yesterday titled “When Will the GOP Reach the anti-Trump Tipping Point?” made me think.  Although Reich predicts that the GOP won’t quit Trump just yet, I think his ship is sinking and will be shades of the Titanic by November 2024.  (Note that I predicted he couldn’t possibly win in 2016 and look how wrong I was then!) While I will be happy to see the GOP disavow Trump, they won’t be disavowing the movement he started.  Maga will be, I fear, with us for a long time to come, for like a carnival, people are drawn to it and Trump was, perhaps, only the beginning. And like a carnival, the movement has attracted a fair share of snake oil salesman and carnival barkers. Trump’s arrogance, his oversized ego, and the crimes he has committed against the people of this nation will bring his reign to an end … perhaps already have.  But others have been watching, learning, observing what it was about him that drew people, and they will use their observations to fine-tune maga into something less unsavory on the surface, yet far more dangerous.

Consider, for example, Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis who is largely expected to throw his hat into the presidential ring sometime in the not-too-distant future.  DeSantis is ‘trumpian’ in some ways … he knows how to rally the people … but his public demeanor is calmer, he is more literate, able to string entire sentences together, and his ego is not as glaringly obvious.  He doesn’t make ludicrous statements such as “I alone can fix the system” or “I would qualify as not smart, but genius….and a very stable genius at that!”  DeSantis does, however, indulge in ludicrous behaviour, such as his stunt sending asylum seekers from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard.

More recently, he has launched a campaign designed to lure the anti-vax crowd, claiming he will seek a grand jury to potentially prosecute the manufacturers of COVID vaccines.  He further claims he will set up a “Public Health Integrity Committee” to oversee the medical establishment.  What could possibly go wrong when a politician without an ounce of medical knowledge attempts to outwit the experts, the scientists, and play Russian roulette with people’s lives?  DeSantis claims that “our CDC, at this point, anything they put out, you just assume at this point that it’s not worth the paper that it’s printed on,” hence the pseudo-justification for his committee.  Two of the people on his committee are authors of an open letter, the “Great Barrington Declaration”, published in October 2020, that called for achieving “herd immunity” by letting COVID spread naturally, whatever the cost for the vulnerable, rather than implementing shutdowns and lockdowns. At this point, I can only be thankful that I don’t live in Florida!

And then there’s Senator Rick Scott, also from Florida, who is one of the most abominable men on my radar, but he seems to know how to win the maga crowd’s hearts.  During Mr. Scott’s tenure as chief executive of Columbia/HCA, once the nation’s largest private for-profit health care company, the Department of Justice won 14 felony convictions against the company, which was fined $1.7 billion in what was at the time the largest healthcare fraud settlement in U.S. history.  That, in itself, should make him a political pariah, but not among the maga crowd.  Honesty and integrity are not among their criteria.

So yes, Donald Trump’s days are numbered, as evidenced by his utterly ludicrous scheme to sell digital trading cards with a picture of his head on someone else’s body for $99 apiece, but there are others waiting in the wings to follow the path into the culture war.  According to Christopher Sebastian Parker, professor of political science at the University of Washington and co-author of a recent research paper on maga culture …

“Right now, these people feel like they’re losing their country and their identity. They feel like they’re being displaced by communities of color, by feminists and by immigrants. These people are motivated by what they see as an existential threat to their way of life.”

Translation:  they are seeking to turn the United States into an all-white, straight, male-dominated, gun-totin’ Christian nation.  Any candidate who can convincingly promise that will stand a chance at winning the maga arm of the Republican Party over in 2024.  Governance?  Justice?  Environment?  International relations?  Education?  Civil Rights?  None of that matters to the maga crowd. They have listened to Trump & Co long enough that even when Trump is either six feet under or in a prison cell, the movement will not die out any time soon.

A Few Thoughts From The Bouncing Mind

I don’t know if it’s the weather, the holidays or what, but I cannot seem to concentrate on any single topic long enough to write a more in-depth post for the past few days.  I need to have a heart-to-heart talk with my brain, I think.  Or would that be a heart-to-brain talk?  Is the brain even available for a chat, or is it out to lunch?  For now, though, I will share with you just a few of the thoughts that bounced around in my brain last night!


Today’s the big day!!!

The runoff election in Georgia will determine whether Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock or Republican challenger Herschel Walker will take their seat in the United States Senate on January 3rd. My fingers are so tightly crossed that they’ve lost all feeling in hopes that the people of Georgia are smarter than the Republican nominee and will vote for a man who has a proven track record in the Senate, a man with integrity and values.  Let Mr. Walker go back to his vampire movies while Senator Warnock helps make the laws that will govern us all.


Will the Court do the right thing?  Don’t hold your breath

Will they rule for or against the LGBTQ community?  It seems to me that if you own a business, you welcome customers … all customers.  What savvy business owner would turn away a paying customer because of the colour of his skin or his religion?  Or his gender identity?  Remember the Masterpiece Cakeshop case in 2018 where a Colorado bakery refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple because the owner of the cakeshop thought same-sex marriage was a sin?  What is it with Colorado, anyway?  The latest case before the Supreme Court is about whether a Colorado web designer, a woman who creates websites for a living, can refuse to create a website for a same-sex couple simply because their life choices go against her narrow-minded religion.  

I have little trust of today’s Supreme Court, which is tragic in itself.  It has been hijacked by rigid right-wing partisans who are more likely to rule in favour of the web designer.  Since the additions of Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Barrett, a number of unjust rulings have been issued, not the least of which was the Dobbs decision that overturned Roe v Wade and set women’s rights back 50 years or more.  So, I will be shocked … pleasantly so … if the Court tells the web designer that she cannot discriminate against the LGBTQ+ community. 

For what it’s worth, here’s my two cents.  If you own a business that is open to the public, it is open to ALL the public, including LGBTQ+ people.  To decide otherwise would be to throw wide open the doors of discrimination in every venue across the U.S.  Imagine, if you will, a nation where Black people are banned from Kroger or Safeway grocery stores, or where Jews are not welcome in certain clothing stores or restaurants.  If you are in business, you serve one and all.  Remember the days, not all that long ago, when in the South there were signs on doors, “Whites Only”?  Do you want to see signs on doors that read, “Straight White Christians Only”?  If your prejudices are so severe that you cannot open your mind and the doors of your business to people who are different, then you have no business being in business.  Full Stop.


It’s all relative

There was a time when Florida’s Ron DeSantis would have been viewed as terrible material for a presidential candidate.  And now … he seems to be garnering support from some in the GOP, as well as the voting public on the right.  What changed?  Did DeSantis become more ‘acceptable’ through some actions of his own?  No.  He became more ‘acceptable’ as an alternative to the madman who once occupied the Oval Office and who is running once again.  If you have no other points of comparison, and you put Trump and DeSantis side-by-side, then yes, DeSantis looks pretty damn good.  But then, compared to Trump, Jack Nicholson’s character in the movie The Shining looks pretty good!

I firmly believe that Donald Trump’s name will not be on the final ballot in November 2024, but even so, I would also hate to see DeSantis as the GOP nominee.  Like Trump, DeSantis is a bigot in most every way, but unlike Trump, he is relatively intelligent and knows how to obtain what he wants.  And, for some reason that escapes me, he has gained a significant amount of popularity, though none of my Floridian friends have any use at all for him.  Fortunately, 2024 is almost two years away and a lot can happen in two years, so I’m not going into panic mode yet, and neither should you.


The price we pay for declining education

I’ve written many times of late about the efforts, primarily by evangelicals and Republicans to whitewash the history of the United States.  I have argued that we need to keep that history — the good, the bad, and the ugly parts — in the forefront of our children’s education so they can ensure we NEVER return to the days of slavery, of Jim Crow, of the KKK.  I’ve also argued against book bans, yet today school districts are banning more and more books, further narrowing the minds of the next generations!  I think the following chart makes my point perfectly …

Need I say more?


And now for just a few ‘toons that highlight the news of the day …

 

Too Dangerous To Ignore

I have, over the course of the past 24 hours, tried to write about the latest abomination by the former guy, but anger takes over my fingers and I pound the keyboard, look back at what I’ve written, and hit ‘delete’.  It serves no purpose to write words filled with venom, and yet the story needs to be told, the seditious … nay, treasonous … behaviour needs to be highlighted, the dangers duly noted.  Fortunately, some are more clear-headed and self-disciplined than I am at the moment.  One such is Ruth Marcus, deputy editorial page editor for The Washington Post, who has echoed my own thoughts in her latest piece …


Trump’s call for suspending the Constitution is too dangerous to ignore

Ruth Marcus, Deputy editorial page editor

4 December 2022

There was a time, in the naive spring and summer of 2015, when I deemed Donald Trump beneath my notice and refused to write about him: Why soil myself, I thought, and also: Surely he will fade away.

I finally caved, in July 2015, with this prescient sentence: “Do not worry about Donald Trump becoming president.

There was a time, in the increasingly appalling months and years that followed, that I deemed Trump too dangerous to disregard and I could not stop calling out his never-ending, ever-escalating outrages against American democracy. Mexican judges. Enemies of the state. Fake news. Muslim bans.

Even a columnist gets tired of repeating herself. And so, during his final stretch in office, and in the years since, I mostly averted my gaze. I called out Trump last August, when he warned darkly of “riots in the streets” after the Justice Department’s search of his Mar-a-Lago residence and before that, in December 2020, when he released a 46-minute video rant assailing the election.

But I mostly thought: Why bother? Shaming targets and convincing readers are the columnist’s goals. With Trump, no minds will be changed, and neither will his behavior.

And yet, there are times when attention must be paid — if only to lay down a marker, if only (grandiose as this may sound) so historians will understand: This went too far. This cannot be allowed to stand without being denounced.

I might have made this choice in the aftermath of Trump’s dinner with antisemites and Nazi sympathizers Ye (formerly known as Kanye West) and Nick Fuentes. Who could have imagined, in the time before Trump, that a former president of the United States and declared candidate for president would so sully himself and the office?

But I am moved, now, to write about Trump’s latest post, on his Truth Social network, because it is at least equally dangerous and even more insidious.

“So, with the revelation of MASSIVE & WIDESPREAD FRAUD & DECEPTION in working closely with Big Tech Companies, the DNC & the Democrat Party, do you throw the Presidential election results of 2020 OUT and declare the Rightful Winner, or do you have a new election,” Trump posted. “A massive Fraud of this type and magnitude allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution. Our great Founders did not want, and would not condone, False & Fraudulent Elections!”

And, he followed up, “UNPRECEDENTED FRAUD REQUIRES UNPRECEDENTED CURE!”

Pause to take this in. The former and would-be future president has suggested suspending the Constitution in support of his deranged belief that he won the election and that its results are subject to change. A man who took an oath to “preserve, protect and defend” the Constitution now has hijacked “our great Founders” in the service of his megalomania.

No.

This is insurrectionism by social media. Nothing — and certainly not imaginary “Fraud,” capitalized or not — “allows for the termination” of constitutional guarantees. Trump is laying the groundwork for a coup.

We can dismiss the post as just the latest Trumpian bluster, something he will never be capable of implementing. Yet the mere willingness to entertain and encourage extra-constitutional action is alarming coming from a man who is seeking to return to office.

Which is why Trump’s words must be highlighted — and called out. I’m past expecting Republican leaders to speak out. We know that, for most, their spines have collapsed and their courage reduced to a shrunken kernel.

Trump “says a lot of things, but that doesn’t mean that it’s ever going to happen,” was the most that Rep. David Joyce (Ohio), chair of the Republican Governance Group, could choke out in response to questions by ABC’s George Stephanopoulos.

The White House was right to rebuke Trump. “Attacking the Constitution and all it stands for is anathema to the soul of our nation and should be universally condemned,” spokesman Andrew Bates said in a statement. If anything, the words should have been issued in the name of the president himself.

Others made more puzzling choices. For a full day, the New York Times, so far as I can find, made no mention of Trump’s post. I assume this was not an oversight but a deliberate decision not to let Trump hijack its product for his unpatriotic purposes.

I get it, but I’m glad the Times relented with a news report Sunday afternoon. The episode embodies the paradox of dealing with Donald Trump. We do not want to give him oxygen, yet there are times we dare not ignore him. This is one. It should be neither excused nor forgotten.

DeSantis Is No ‘Golden Boy’

It seems that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is on the path to becoming the Republican Party’s next ‘golden boy’, now that the former guy has perhaps placed the final straw on the camel’s back with multiple losses in the mid-terms and then his meeting with the ignoble white supremacist Nazi, Nick Fuentes.  But make no mistake … DeSantis is not worthy, perhaps no more so than the former guy.  One of my favourite columnists, Frank Bruni, tells us why.


He’ll be sold as a paragon of reason. Don’t buy it.

By Frank Bruni

01 December 2022

Elon Musk is a geyser of gibberish, so it’s important not to make too much of anything he says. But a recent Twitter thread of his deserved the attention it got, if not for the specific detail on which most journalists focused.

They led with Musk’s statement that he would support a Ron DeSantis candidacy for the presidency in 2024. That obviously disses one Donald Trump, though it should come as no surprise: Magnates like Musk typically cling to the moment’s shiniest toys, and DeSantis, fresh off his re-election, is a curiously gleaming action figure.

But how Musk framed his attraction to the Florida governor was revealing — and troubling. He expressed a desire for a candidate who’s “sensible and centrist,” implying that DeSantis is both.

In what universe? He’s “sensible and centrist” only by the warped yardsticks of Trump, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Kari Lake and the like. But those yardsticks will be used frequently as various Republicans join the 2024 fray. And therein lies real danger.

Trump’s challengers will be defined in relation to him, casting them in a deceptively flattering light. They’ll be deemed steady because he’s not, on the ball because he’s out to lunch, enlightened because they don’t sup with Holocaust deniers. They’ll be realists to his fantasist, institutionalists to his nihilist, preservationists to his arsonist.

None of those descriptions will be true. Some will be persuasive nonetheless.

That dynamic is already doing wonders for DeSantis as he flies high over a very low bar. “Look!” say Republicans eager to take back the White House. “It’s Superman!” Hardly. But his promoters are hoping that the shadow of Trump produces such an optical illusion.

“Plenty of Americans across the partisan divide would have good reason to root for him,” Jim Geraghty, the senior political correspondent for the conservative journal National Review, wrote in a recent essay in The Washington Post that praised DeSantis. Parts of it made DeSantis sound consensus-minded, conciliatory. That’s some trick.

Geraghty added: “Given the bizarre state of American politics during the Trump era, DeSantis would represent a return to normality.” The “given” in that sentence is working overtime, and “normality” fits DeSantis about as well as “sensible” and “centrist” do.

It is not normal to release a campaign ad, as DeSantis did last month, that explicitly identifies you as someone created and commanded by God to pursue the precise political agenda that you’re pursuing. Better words for that include “messianic,” “megalomaniacal” and “delusional.”

It is not sensible to open a new state office devoted to election crimes when there is scant evidence of any need for it. That is called “pandering.” It is also known as a “stunt.”

It is not centrist to have a key aide who tweeted that anyone who opposed the “Don’t Say Gay” education law in Florida was “probably a groomer or at least you don’t denounce the grooming of 4-8 year old children.” Those were the words of Christina Pushaw, who was then DeSantis’s press secretary and “transformed the governor’s state messaging office into a hyperpartisan extension of his political efforts,” as Matt Dixon noted in Politico, adding that she “used the position to regularly pick public fights with reporters on social media, amplify right-wing media outlets and conservative personalities and attack individuals who oppose or challenge DeSantis.”

DeSantis’s response to her derisive and divisive antics? He made her the “rapid response director” for his re-election campaign. Because that’s the normal, sensible, centrist thing to do.

DeSantis used his power as governor to punish Disney for daring to dissent from his political views. He used migrants as political pawns and sent two planes full of them to Martha’s Vineyard. He pushed for an extreme gerrymander in Florida that marginalized minority voters. He’s a darling of the National Rifle Association.

And the signature line from his stump speech is that Florida is “where woke goes to die.” I’m with him on the destructiveness of peak wokeness, but base-camp wokeness has some lessons and virtues, which a sensible centrist might acknowledge and reflect on. Can’t Florida be where woke goes to decompress in the sun and surf and re-emerge in more relaxed form?

DeSantis himself might currently reject the labels that Musk gave him: It’s the right-wing-warrior side that promises to propel him most forcefully through the primaries, should he enter them. But he or any nominee not named Trump would likely segue to the general election by flashing shades of moderation.

In DeSantis’s case, there’d be chatter galore about his 19-point re-election victory as proof of his appeal’s breadth. But another Republican, Senator Marco Rubio, won re-election in Florida by sixteen points, suggesting that forces beyond DeSantis’s dubiously pan-partisan magnetism were in play. And Florida is redder than it used to be.

The extremists and conspiracists so prevalent in today’s Republican Party have distorted the frame for everyone else, permitting the peddling of DeSantis as some paragon of reason. Be savvier than Musk. Don’t buy it.