A Sensible Republican — Last Of A Dying Breed

The day of the sensible, reasonable, intelligent Republican seems to be long gone.  Way back when, I’ve even voted for Republicans, but I cannot picture ever doing so again, for the party has devolved into something ugly … a bunch who would rather burn down this nation than compromise, than meet Democrats on some middle ground.  John Boehner was one of the last Republicans for whom I had a great deal of respect, though I often disagreed with him.  He has written a book, due out on Tuesday, April 13th, that I have pre-ordered and plan to read.  What follows is an excerpt from that book, and I think you’ll be surprised when you read some of his words.

In the 2010 midterm election, voters from all over the place gave President Obama what he himself called “a shellacking.” And oh boy, was it ever. You could be a total moron and get elected just by having an R next to your name—and that year, by the way, we did pick up a fair number in that category.

Retaking control of the House of Representatives put me in line to be the next Speaker of the House over the largest freshman Republican class in history: 87 newly elected members of the GOP. Since I was presiding over a large group of people who’d never sat in Congress, I felt I owed them a little tutorial on governing. I had to explain how to actually get things done. A lot of that went straight through the ears of most of them, especially the ones who didn’t have brains that got in the way. Incrementalism? Compromise? That wasn’t their thing. A lot of them wanted to blow up Washington. That’s why they thought they were elected.

Some of them, well, you could tell they weren’t paying attention because they were just thinking of how to fundraise off of outrage or how they could get on Hannity that night. Ronald Reagan used to say something to the effect that if I get 80 or 90 percent of what I want, that’s a win. These guys wanted 100 percent every time. In fact, I don’t think that would satisfy them, because they didn’t really want legislative victories. They wanted wedge issues and conspiracies and crusades.

To them, my talk of trying to get anything done made me a sellout, a dupe of the Democrats, and a traitor. Some of them had me in their sights from day one. They saw me as much of an “enemy” as the guy in the White House. Me, a guy who had come to the top of the leadership by exposing corruption and pushing conservative ideas. Now I was a “liberal collaborator.” So that took some getting used to. What I also had not anticipated was the extent to which this new crowd hated—and I mean hated—Barack Obama.

By 2011, the right-wing propaganda nuts had managed to turn Obama into a toxic brand for conservatives. When I was first elected to Congress, we didn’t have any propaganda organization for conservatives, except maybe a magazine or two like National Review. The only people who used the internet were some geeks in Palo Alto. There was no Drudge Report. No Breitbart. No kooks on YouTube spreading dangerous nonsense like they did every day about Obama.

“He’s a secret Muslim!”

“He hates America!”

“He’s a communist!”

And of course the truly nutty business about his birth certificate. People really had been brainwashed into believing Barack Obama was some Manchurian candidate planning to betray America.

Mark Levin was the first to go on the radio and spout off this crazy nonsense. It got him ratings, so eventually he dragged Hannity and Rush to Looneyville along with him. My longtime friend Roger Ailes, the head of Fox News, was not immune to this. He got swept into the conspiracies and the paranoia and became an almost unrecognizable figure.

I’d known Ailes for a long time, since his work with George H.W. Bush in the early 1990s. He’d gone to college in Ohio, and since we had that connection, he sought me out at some event and introduced himself. Years later, in August of 1996, when I was in San Diego for the Republican National Convention, I ended up having dinner with Ailes and a veteran broadcasting executive named Rupert Murdoch. At that dinner they told me all about this new TV network they were starting. I had no idea I was listening to the outline of something that would make my life a living hell down the line. Sure enough, that October, Fox News hit the airwaves.

I kept in touch with Roger and starting in the early 2000s, I’d stop in and see him whenever I was in New York for fundraisers. We’d shoot the breeze and talk politics. We got to know each other pretty well.

Murdoch, on the other hand, was harder to know. Sometimes he’d invite me to watch the Super Bowl in the Fox box, or he’d stop by the office. Wherever he was, you could tell he was the man in charge. He was a businessman, pure and simple. He cared about ratings and the bottom line. He also wanted to make sure he was ahead of any political or policy developments coming down the line. He was always asking who was up, who was down, what bills could pass and what couldn’t. If he entertained any of the kooky conspiracy theories that started to take over his network, he kept it a secret from me. But he clearly didn’t have a problem with them if they helped ratings.

At some point after the 2008 election, something changed with my friend Roger Ailes. I once met him in New York during the Obama years to plead with him to put a leash on some of the crazies he was putting on the air. It was making my job trying to accomplish anything conservative that much harder. I didn’t expect this meeting to change anything, but I still thought it was bullshit, and I wanted Roger to know it.

When I put it to him like that, he didn’t have much to say. But he did go on and on about the terrorist attack on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi, which he thought was part of a grand conspiracy that led back to Hillary Clinton. Then he outlined elaborate plots by which George Soros and the Clintons and Obama (and whoever else came to mind) were trying to destroy him.

“They’re monitoring me,” he assured me about the Obama White House. He told me he had a “safe room” built so he couldn’t be spied on. His mansion was being protected by combat-ready security personnel, he said. There was a lot of conspiratorial talk. It was like he’d been reading whacked-out spy novels all weekend.

And it was clear that he believed all of this crazy stuff. I walked out of that meeting in a daze. I just didn’t believe the entire federal government was so terrified of Roger Ailes that they’d break about a dozen laws to bring him down. I thought I could get him to control the crazies, and instead I found myself talking to the president of the club. One of us was crazy. Maybe it was me.

I have no idea what the relationship between Ailes and Murdoch was like, or if Ailes ever would go off on these paranoid tangents during meetings with his boss. But Murdoch must have thought Ailes was good for business, because he kept him in his job for years.

Places like Fox News were creating the wrong incentives. Sean Hannity was one of the worst. I’d known him for years, and we used to have a good relationship. But then he decided he felt like busting my ass every night on his show. So one day, in January of 2015, I finally called him and asked: “What the hell?” I wanted to know why he kept bashing House Republicans when we were actually trying to stand up to Obama.

“Well, you guys don’t have a plan,” he whined.

“Look,” I told him, “our plan is pretty simple: we’re just going to stand up for what we believe in as Republicans.”

I guess that wasn’t good enough for him. The conversation didn’t progress very far. At some point I called him a nut. Anyway, it’s safe to say our relationship never got any better.

Besides the homegrown “talent” at Fox, with their choice of guests they were making people who used to be fringe characters into powerful media stars. One of the first prototypes out of their laboratory was a woman named Michele Bachmann.

Bachmann, who had represented Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District since 2007 and made a name for herself as a lunatic ever since, came to meet with me in the busy period in late 2010 after the election. She wanted a seat on the Ways and Means Committee, the most powerful committee in the House. There were many members in line ahead of her for a post like this. People who had waited patiently for their turn and who also, by the way, weren’t wild-eyed crazies.

There was no way she was going to get on Ways and Means, the most prestigious committee in Congress, and jump ahead of everyone else in line. Not while I was Speaker. In earlier days, a member of Congress in her position wouldn’t even have dared ask for something like this. Sam Rayburn would have laughed her out of the city.

So I told her no—diplomatically, of course. But as she kept on talking, it dawned on me. This wasn’t a request of the Speaker of the House. This was a demand.

Her response to me was calm and matter-of-fact. “Well, then I’ll just have to go talk to Sean Hannity and everybody at Fox,” she said, “and Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, and everybody else on the radio, and tell them that this is how John Boehner is treating the people who made it possible for the Republicans to take back the House.”

I wasn’t the one with the power, she was saying. I just thought I was. She had the power now.

She was right, of course.

She was a conservative media darling and, by then, the conservative media was already eyeing me skeptically. She had me where it hurt. Even if I wanted to help her, and I sure as hell didn’t, it wasn’t a decision I had the power to make on my own. That power belongs to a little-known but very important group called the Steering Committee.

I knew there was no way the Steering Committee would approve putting Bachmann on Ways and Means. The votes just weren’t there. If I even pushed the issue, they wouldn’t have let me leave the meeting without fastening me into a straitjacket. But then, Bachmann wouldn’t go on TV and the radio to explain the nuances of House Steering Committee procedure. She’d just rip my head off every night, over and over again. That was a headache I frankly didn’t want or need.

I suggested the House Intelligence committee to Bachmann as an alternative, and mercifully, she liked it. It would be a good perch for anyone wanting to build up their foreign policy chops for a run for president, which she was already considering— Lord help us all. None too pleased was the man preparing to take up the gavel as chairman of the Intelligence Committee, Rep. Mike Rogers from Michigan, an army veteran who had also served in the FBI. So I took my lumps from Rogers, and Bachmann took her seat on the committee.

The funny thing is, Michele Bachmann turned out to be a very focused, hardworking member—even though she spent a few months later in 2011 on a short-lived campaign for president. She showed up to the committee, did her homework, and ended up winning over her fellow members with her dedication. Mike Rogers was impressed—and I have to admit, so was I. The whole situation ended up working out well for everyone. As one of those old Boehnerisms goes, “Get the right people on the bus, and help them find the right seat.”

In January 2011, as the new Republican House majority was settling in and I was getting adjusted to the Speakership, I was asked about the birth certificate business by Brian Williams of NBC News. My answer was simple: “The state of Hawaii has said that President Obama was born there. That’s good enough for me.” It was a simple statement of fact. But you would have thought I’d called Ronald Reagan a communist. I got all kinds of shit for it—emails, letters, phone calls. It went on for a couple weeks. I knew we would hear from some of the crazies, but I was surprised at just how many there really were.

All of this crap swirling around was going to make it tough for me to cut any deals with Obama as the new House Speaker. Of course, it has to be said that Obama didn’t help himself much either. He could come off as lecturing and haughty. He still wasn’t making Republican outreach a priority. But on the other hand—how do you find common cause with people who think you are a secret Kenyan Muslim traitor to America?

Under the new rules of Crazytown, I may have been Speaker, but I didn’t hold all the power. By 2013 the chaos caucus in the House had built up their own power base thanks to fawning right-wing media and outrage-driven fundraising cash. And now they had a new head lunatic leading the way, who wasn’t even a House member. There is nothing more dangerous than a reckless asshole who thinks he is smarter than everyone else. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Senator Ted Cruz. He enlisted the crazy caucus of the GOP in what was a truly dumbass idea. Not that anybody asked me.

A Closer Look At Senator Ron Johnson

There are a number of nasty people in the U.S. Senate today, people who willfully obstruct the people’s business, people who are racist, homophobic, misogynists … but one stands out among the crowd, especially for his behaviour over the past 3 months.

ron-johnsonUntil recently, I had not heard of Senator Ron Johnson from Wisconsin except in passing.  And then came the 2020 election, followed by the Big Lie, followed by the attack on Congress and the Capitol on January 6th as Congress was certifying the election results, and suddenly Ron Johnson got his name in lights.  Mr. Johnson perpetuated the Big Lie, that the former guy had actually won the election and it had been stolen from him.  Mr. Johnson was one of the many Republicans who voted to overturn the election, to throw out our votes … our voices.  Ron Johnson says he wasn’t afraid that day, when Nazis and white supremacists … terrorists … broke into the Capitol, destroying public property, chanting “Kill Mike Pence”, injuring more than 140 police officers and killing more than one person.  Ron Johnson said he wasn’t afraid because …

“I knew those are people that love this country, that truly respect law enforcement, would never do anything to break the law, so I wasn’t concerned.”

BULLSHIT.  bullshit

They were destroying property, breaking windows, pooping on the floor, killing people!  They would never break the law???  Their very presence there was in violation of the law, and what they did once they got in was not just illegal, but seditious, treasonous, and their intent was to overturn this country’s government and install a dictator.  But Ron Johnson thinks these … these heathens … are “good people”.  But, it should be noted that Johnson further qualified his remark by saying he would have been concerned if the invaders had been Black.  Get that man out of Congress!!!

So, now that Ron Johnson has shown his proverbial ass, I decided to look back at his past … people don’t just turn into goats overnight, so I was fairly certain he’s been one for a long time.  I was right.

Johnson is everything that is wrong in the Republican Party.  First elected to the Senate in 2010 with no prior experience in government, and no relevant education, having only a Bachelor’s in Business Administration from the University of Minnesota.  He was a businessman, CEO of a plastics company.  He objected to the stimulus plan of 2009 under the Obama administration, yet he applied for stimulus money for an education council he led.  Yeah, scratch your head over that one!

He is not overly popular … in 2010 he won with 52% of the vote, and only 50.2% in 2016.  He is up for re-election next year … PLEASE, people of Wisconsin, vote this asshole OUT!

He is a climate science denier, having called scientists who attribute global warming to manmade causes “crazy,” saying the theory is “lunacy,” and attributed climate change to causes other than human activity.  Hmmmm … I didn’t see any science degrees or experience listed on his CV.

He is a strong advocate of gun rights (but you already figured that, didn’t you?) and has co-sponsored a bill that would prohibit the Department of Justice from tracking and cataloging the purchases of multiple rifles and shotguns.  In April 2013, Johnson was one of 12 Republican senators to sign a letter threatening to filibuster any newly introduced gun control legislation. That month, Johnson joined 45 other senators in defeating the Manchin-Toomey Amendment, which would have required background checks on all sales of guns, including between individuals.  Sure … just let anybody and everybody have as many guns as they wish and do with them as they will, right?

Healthcare?  Hah!  He was one of only 8 senators to vote against the $1,200 stimulus checks last year.  He is against the Affordable Care Act, has voted to repeal it, and when John McCain famously turned his thumb down on the effort to repeal ACA, Johnson basically blamed it on McCain’s brain tumour and said he wasn’t in his right mind.

And then there were the conspiracy theories he spread about the FBI and Trump–Ukraine scandal, promoted false claims of fraud in the 2020 election, suggested that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was at fault for the storming of the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob.  And I could go on, but in the interest of time and sanity, I won’t.

Suffice it to say that Ron Johnson is one of the faces of the new Republican Party – a man without intellect and without conscience.  Let us hope that in November 2022, the people of Wisconsin use their intellect and conscience to get this goat out of the United States Senate.

CPAC: The Mysticism Makeover

Earlier today, I shared Keith’s post regarding the future of the Republican Party, aka GOP. Keith was once a Republican, but left the party some years ago to become an Independent. Another friend, Jerry (aka Grumpy of Grumpy’s Grumblings) was also a Republican, and he left the party during the reign of the former guy to become a Democrat. Grumpy has written a very enlightening post about his vision of the Republican Party today vs what it once was, that Jeff has re-blogged. Thanks to both you guys, Jeff & Jerry, for this post and for allowing me to share it!

On The Fence Voters

Our friend Jerry at Grumpy’s Grumblings has another excellent post out today. Here is an excerpt, with a link at the end to continue reading. Thanks Jerry!

There was a time—not too long ago, I’m now ashamed to admit—when I frequently chanted this cheeky, “conservative” mantra: “If you’re a Republican before age 18, you have no heart. If you’re a Democrat past age 18, you have no brain.” I switched from Democrat to Republican shortly before my 20th birthday, so I suppose my brain was a bit late to develop. I switched back to Democrat at age 66, so I suppose I have no loyalties. I don’t; that is, not to a political party.

Anyway, back to the above adage. The point was, of course, that Democrats, being less mature in their reasoning, lead with their heart, their emotions. Democrats, Republicans often allege, fail to outgrow their empathetic side and…

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The Week’s Best Cartoons: The GQP

As you might guess, the hot topic on the cartoonists pads last week was none other than Marjorie Taylor Greene.  Frankly, I’m so sick of that woman … I can’t wait until a day goes by without having to hear her name or see her ugly mug.  But I digress.  The impeachment trial that will start tomorrow was also a hot topic, as is the state of the Republican Party, which many are now calling the Party of Q, for QAnon.

Every week, our friend TokyoSand scours the ‘net for the best, most relevant political cartoons, and this week’s collection contains some gems.  Thank you, TS, for all your hard work and for giving us a few chuckles!

toon-1toon-2toon-3toon-4

See All The ‘Toons!

The GOP Ain’t ‘Grand’ Any Longer

A few days ago, I came upon two opinion pieces by writers for The Washington Post – Colbert King and Eugene Robinson.  Both were along the same lines – how the Republican Party is destroying itself by tolerating the likes of Marjorie Taylor Greene – and I set them aside until I could decide which to share.  Today, I’ve decided to share this one by Colbert King, for he makes some excellent points comparing the GOP of old to the one we see today.

Mr. King is a Pulitzer Prize winner who has served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury Department and Executive Director to the World Bank.


The GOP once knew what to do about problems like Marjorie Taylor Greene

colbert-kingOpinion by 

Colbert I. King

Columnist

Feb. 1, 2021 at 3:39 p.m. EST

Just how low can Republicans go?

Look at House GOP leaders wringing their hands over Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), the freshman lawmaker known for racist, anti-Semitic and Islamophobic views. Contrast their anxious cries of “Oh, dear me, what do we do about Marjorie?” with the moment decades ago when the party had to contend with David Duke, the neo-Nazi former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard.

At a Nov. 6, 1991, news conference 10 days before Louisianans went to the polls to vote for governor, GOP President George H.W. Bush urged them not to support Duke, the Republican on the ticket. Bush said:

“When someone asserts that the Holocaust never took place, then I don’t believe that person ever deserves one iota of public trust,” Bush said. “And when someone has so recently endorsed Nazism, it is inconceivable that such a person can legitimately aspire to leadership — in a leadership role in a free society. And when someone has a long record, an ugly record, of racism and of bigotry, that record simply cannot be erased by the glib rhetoric of a political campaign.

“So, I believe that David Duke is an insincere charlatan,” Bush continued. “I believe he is attempting to hoodwink the voters of Louisiana, and I believe that he should be rejected for what he is and what he stands for.”

On Election Day, Democrat Edwin Edwards won with 61 percent of the vote.

That’s not all. When Duke announced a run for the U.S. Senate in 2016, Reince Priebus, then the Republican National Committee chairman, also pounced: “David Duke & his hateful bigotry have no place in the Republican Party & the RNC will never support his candidacy under any circumstance.” Duke got 3 percent of the vote.

That was back then.

In 2020, a Republican showed up on the scene bearing a social media history positing that “Rothschild Inc” and others used solar-powered lasers orbiting in space to touch off deadly California wildfires to clear space for a high-speed rail project. That, it goes without saying, was false. But the lie was very much in keeping with the odious and persistent slurs about Jewish wealth and power pulling strings in the shadows.

The same Republican also suggested that the school shooting in Parkland, Fla., was faked by anti-gun activists; mocked a young victim of gun violence; said former president Barack Obama “is a Muslim” and that “Valerie Jarrett is too”; and described the events leading up to the Jan. 6 invasion of the Capitol to interrupt the formalizing of 2020 elections as the Republicans’ “1776 moment.”

That same Republican said, in a January 2019 Facebook video, that “it’s a crime punishable by death is what treason is. Nancy Pelosi is guilty of treason.” (“Over the years, I’ve had teams of people manage my pages. Many posts have been liked. Many posts have been shared. Some did not represent my views,” the Republican said in a statement.) That Republican also has a video petitioning the White House to support the impeachment of the House speaker for treason, because she opposed former president Donald Trump’s border wall and supported so-called sanctuary policies that allegedly “are serving illegals and not United States citizens.” That same Republican, in a February 2019 Facebook live stream, suggested that Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) was “just as guilty of treason as Nancy Pelosi.”

What are Republicans to do about a Republican lawmaker who has said, “George Soros is the piece of crap that turned in — he’s a Jew — he turned in his own people over to the Nazis”? A 13-year-old Soros, The Post has reported, used false papers to survive the Nazi occupation of Hungary and called any suggestion he turned over Jews to the Nazis a “total fabrication.”

Whatever in the world is there to say?

Well, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a founder of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, has hailed that Republican — Greene — as, “exactly the kind of fighter needed in Washington to stand with me against the radical left.”

And Trump tweeted congratulations to Greene for her House victory in November, calling her a “future Republican star.” Tweeted Trump: “Marjorie is strong on everything and never gives up — a real WINNER!”

George Herbert Walker Bush’s day is gone. So, too, is the Republican Party of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Charles McC. Mathias, Edward Brooke and John McCain.

Bush stood down Duke. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), caught in the cross fire, has worked up the nerve to have a meeting with Greene this week.

How low can today’s Republicans go? What’s below the sewers?

Unfit For Office — Lauren Boebert

I have a list as long as my arm of people in Congress who are unfit and unqualified for the offices they hold, but one in particular stands out as being the most heinous of the bunch.  Lauren Boebert was elected by the people of Colorado’s 3rd congressional district last November and took her oath of office on January 3rd.

I first wrote about Boebert last July when she crossed my radar after winning the Republican primary in Colorado.  Ms. Boebert has not a single qualification to represent her district in the United States Congress, not even a high school diploma, for she dropped out of high school when she became pregnant in her teens. I sincerely doubt that she has even read the U.S. Constitution – that document she took an oath to protect and defend. But that is not even the worst of it.

Boebert is a supporter of QAnon, the right-wing conspiracy theory group that believes a cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophiles—mainly consisting of what they see as elitist Democrats, politicians, journalists, entertainment moguls and other institutional figures—have long controlled much of the so-called deep state government, which they say seeks to undermine Trump, mostly with aid of media and entertainment outlets.  This, coupled with her lack of education, lack of knowledge of the law, should have been enough to disqualify her from even running for office.  It really is past time this nation set higher requirements for holding public office, but that is a topic for another day.

Lauren-BoebertMs. Boebert is a gun lover who owns a bar called Shooters Grill in the town of Rifle, Colorado.  She encourages her staff to openly carry guns while serving the public!  True to form, Boebert started her tenure with a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, asking that members of Congress be allowed to carry guns into the Capitol.  The letter was signed by some of the other congressional misfits such as Mo Brooks.  On her 3rd day in office, she set off the metal detectors while entering the Capitol and refused to allow security officers to inspect her bag and the same happened the following day, January 6th, that fateful day of the domestic terrorist attack on the U.S. Congress.  Why they even allowed her into the building is beyond my comprehension.

There is speculation, to say the least, that Boebert was involved in the terrorist attack, that at the very least, her rhetoric supporting Trump’s false claims of massive voter fraud had helped fuel the attack.  On January 5th, Boebert said January 6th would be Republicans’ “1776 moment”.  She was one of the republicans who objected to counting Arizona’s ballots, saying …

“The members who stand here today and accept the results of this concentrated, coordinated, partisan effort by Democrats—where every fraudulent vote canceled out the vote of an honest American—have sided with the extremist left.”

So, is she saying that I’m not an ‘honest American’ or that my vote was fraudulent?  She fully intended to vote to illegally cancel the votes of every single voter in Arizona because she didn’t like the results.  And it is said that she revealed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s location to rioters during the siege on the 6th by tweeting: “The Speaker has been removed from the chambers.”  Now, a group of 68 elected officials in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District have sent a letter to Nancy Pelosi asking for an investigation into Boebert’s actions.  The letter condemned the lawmaker, saying …

“There is deep concern about her actions leading up to and during the protests that turned into a violent and deadly mob.”

On Friday, Boebert’s communications director, Ben Goldey, resigned his position, citing his discomfort with the way Boebert reacted to the insurrection and its aftermath.

The United States Constitution (Article I, Section 5, Clause 2) provides that “Each House [of Congress] may determine the Rules of its proceedings, punish its members for disorderly behavior, and, with the concurrence of two-thirds, expel a member.”

As I said at the start of this post, there are a number of members of the current Congress who are undeserving of their seats, including Louie Gohmert, Mo Brooks, Ted Cruz, Andy Biggs, Paul Gosar, Tommy Tuberville, and others who either directly or indirectly played a role in the events of January 6th and who must be held accountable for their seditious behaviour.  We the People deserve better than what we are getting from this group of elected officials whose salary we pay.  I most certainly hope that Lauren Boebert is removed from Congress, for this woman does not belong there, does not represent the majority of people in this nation, and is highly unqualified to be a lawmaker at any level.

Invasion of the Brain Snatchers

What follows is Jeff’s reblog of Jerry’s (Grumpy) post, but well worth the read. Can we say ‘conspiracy theories’? Sheesh … is it any wonder this nation has gone to hell?

On The Fence Voters

Our friend Jerry over at Grumpy’s Grumblings continues with a unique look at the suicide bombing on Christmas day in Nashville. I’ve included a link at the end to continue reading at his blog. Thanks Jerry!

What a relief. It turns out Anthony Quinn Warner, the Christmas Day Nashville bomber, was mentally deranged, a loner, and not part of an organized movement of radicals who might inflict further mayhem on our currently fragile nation.

Well, yes, Warner—who died in the blast of his own making—was barkin’ mad, but perhaps we shouldn’t let our guard down just yet.

Warner seriously believed we earthlings are being manipulated by a race of alien reptilians who have implanted microchips in our brains to control us.

As recently reported, Warner seriously believed we earthlings are being manipulated by a race of alien reptilians who have implanted microchips in our brains to control us. Utterly…

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The echo chamber feedback loop

Once again, our friend Keith is spot-on with his analysis and advice. Thanks, Keith!

musingsofanoldfart

“Everyone is talking about this,” says the outgoing president on more than a few occasions.. “Everyone knows this is true” or “Everyone knows” he might use as an alternative or add-on to the above, as he is prone to repeat himself. These are intentional phrases used to make the listener or reader skip past them and assume the statements are true. When you hear or read these comments, do yourself a favor and assume the opposite.

Why? Because you are hearing an echo chamber feedback loop. The echo chamber occurs when the same piece of information, rumor or conspiracy theory is repeated within limited sources of information. In fact, this is how disinformation is so easily shared, especially with an untruthful, unrelenting and unaware user in the White House. In fact, when a Russian, Iranian, Chinese or American troll hears the outgoing president repeat what they made up, it is…

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A Dangerous Psychopath … In Congress!

gohmertU.S. Representative Louie Gohmert of Texas first came onto my radar in May of 2016 for his insane proposal that in the event of an asteroid colliding with earth, we would need to establish a space colony and he patently said that LGBT would not be welcome on the new colony.  Gohmert proposed a …

“… space ship that can go, as Matt Damon did in the movie [The Martian], plant a colony somewhere, we can have humans survive this terrible disaster about to befall, if you could decide what 40 people you put on the spacecraft that would save humanity, how many of those would be same-sex couples? You’re wanting to save humankind for posterity, basically a modern-day Noah, you have that ability to be a modern-day Noah, you can preserve life. How many same-sex couples would you take from the animal kingdom and from humans to put on a spacecraft to perpetuate humanity and the wildlife kingdom?”

As I was researching Mr. Gohmert for that post, I found that in 2010, he put forth the theory that there was an insidious plot afoot involving so called “terror babies.” He claimed he had uncovered a plot involving terrorists sending pregnant women into the US to birth their ‘America-hating children’. The mothers and their kids then return home where, the congressman says, the children “could be raised and coddled as future terrorists”— and later, “twenty, thirty years down the road, they can be sent in to help destroy our way of life.”  It seems to me that it is the likes of Mr. Gohmert who are attempting to destroy our lives.

Then earlier this year (July), he came onto my radar again when he contracted the coronavirus and claimed to have gotten the virus from … wait for it … wearing a mask!  He eschewed the mask-wearing for several months, and claimed it was only once he gave in to the pressure and started wearing a mask that he contracted the virus.  Worse yet, after receiving his diagnosis, he went in person to his office, called his staff together in a room, and shared not only the news, but also his germs with them.

The very next day, I found out that the week before, he had introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives calling on the House to bar all Democrats from the chamber because of the party’s historical ties to slavery and racism unless the party is renamed.  Shouldn’t somebody point out to this fool that it is the republicans who are fighting to maintain their racist, homophobic, xenophobic way of life?

And today, ol’ Louie is once again blipping across my radar, causing me to grit my teeth and scratch my head.  According to the Dallas Morning News, Gohmert spoke to the Trump supporters gathered outside the White House on Saturday, parroting Trump’s claims that the election was “stolen”.  Nothing new here, for at least half the republicans in Congress are paying lip service to that false claim.  But Louie Gohmert took it a bit further, and in my view his speech was incitement to violence.

First, he claimed that Trump won the popular vote in 48 of the 50 states … so patently false as to be laughable.  Then he went on to say that only about 30% of the colonists supported the revolution in 1776, but then he moved on to the Egyptian revolution of 2011 when Egyptians demanded the overthrow of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.  17 days later, it was announced that Mubarak resigned as president, turning power over to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).  Gohmert said …

“They rose up though all over Egypt … if they can do that there, think of what we can do here.”

Take a look for yourself at the conspiracy theorist/lunatic in action …

In my 2016 post, I ended  by begging the people of Texas not to re-elect this nutcase … but they didn’t listen to me and they re-elected him in 2016, again in 2018, and again this month, thus he has served thus far for fifteen years, and short of the unforeseeable, will serve for at least another two years.  Perhaps it is time that we make a mental health assessment requisite for all members of Congress?  I have to ask … how can anybody think it is a good idea to have this lunacy running our government?  Oh wait … it’s the same people who thought electing a television clown to the presidency was a good idea.  Our nation is beginning to feel more like a freakshow than a democratic republic.  R.I.P. United States?

Crazy Uncle vs Intelligent Hombre …

Due to circumstances beyond my control (stubborn headphones), I missed the first 20 minutes or so of Joe Biden’s town hall last night, and due to other circumstances beyond my control (family obligations), I was only able to watch about 20 minutes before having to stop.  I never had any intention of watching Trump’s town hall and wouldn’t have even if he hadn’t scheduled his to compete with Biden’s, but I had hoped to watch all of Biden’s.  I have, however, read most of the transcript of Joe’s town hall, and some key takeaways from Trump’s.

I must say that it was great, the few minutes I was able to watch Biden’s event, to be able to hear Biden answer the questions asked of him without interruption.  It was great not to have to look away from Trump’s freakish facial contortions while he muttered and blathered.  We actually got to hear what Joe thought, what he plans to do once he is in the Oval Office.  Much more informative and less stressful than the debate a few weeks ago.

Most of Biden’s responses to questions were what we’ve come to expect from Biden:  calm, thoughtful responses, intelligence, no raised voice, and even speaking in complete sentences.  He covered what he would do differently regarding the coronavirus pandemic, and spoke about a vaccine, saying …

“If the body of scientists say that this is what is ready to be done and it’s been tested, they’ve gone through the three phases, yes, I would take it, and I’d encourage people to take it.”

He mentioned that while he would like to be able to make the vaccine mandatory, he realizes this cannot be done …

“You couldn’t, that’s the problem.  You can’t say, ‘Everyone has to do this.’”

Perhaps one of the most glaring differences between Joe Biden and Donald Trump is the ability to admit to a mistake.  Last night, when Joe Biden was questioned about the 1994 crime bill that he sponsored while in the senate, he defended and explained parts of the bill, but was also able to admit that in hindsight, some parts were a mistake.  Trump, on the other hand, has never admitted to a mistake and still gives himself kudos for his horrible handling of the pandemic that has now cost the U.S. 223,000 human lives.

From what I’ve read, the two town hall events were as different as night and day.  Joe’s could be said to be almost boring in contrast, but that’s fine with me!  I’ll take boring over bombastic any day of the week!  I agreed with most of what Biden said, the only thing I would argue is that I think fracking should be banned, Biden doesn’t.  But hell … if that’s the only thing we disagree on, that’s nearly a miracle in itself!

I was also impressed with Biden’s response to the final question by moderator George Stephanopoulos, “Mr. Vice President, if you lose, what will that say to you about where America is today?”

“Well, it could say that I’m a lousy candidate, and I didn’t do a good job. But I think — I hope … that it doesn’t say that we are as racially, ethnically, and religiously at odds with one another as it appears the President wants us to be. Usually, you know, the President, in my view, with all due respect, it’s been divide and conquer, the way he does better if he splits us and where there’s division.

And I think people need hope. I think — look, George, I’ve never been more optimistic of the prospects for this country than I am today. And I really mean that. I think the people are ready. They understand what’s at stake. And it’s not about Democrat or Republican.

If I get elected, you know, I’m going to be — I’m running as a proud Democrat, but I’m going to be an American president. I’m going to take care of those that voted against me as well as those who voted for me, for real. That’s what presidents do. We’ve got to heal this nation, because we have the greatest opportunity of any country in the world to own the 21st century. And we can’t do it divided.”

And that in and of itself, my friends, makes me want Joe Biden as my president more than ever before.

Now Trump, on the other hand …

… was apparently his usual obnoxious self, perhaps even more so, but he met his match with moderator Savannah Guthrie!  Given that I do not watch television, I had never seen Ms. Guthrie in her spot as co-anchor of the NBC News morning show, but … this lady is gooooood!  She held Trump’s feet to the fire, and apparently, he squirmed!

From The Washington Post’s article, “5 takeaways from the dueling Trump and Biden town halls”

When Trump claimed that a study showed 85 percent of people who wear masks still get the coronavirus, Guthrie noted he falsely characterized the study.

When Trump defended his pandemic response by citing another study that showed 2 million people could have died of the coronavirus, Guthrie rightly noted that model predicted that only if the government did precisely zero mitigation.

When Trump declined to denounce QAnon because he said he didn’t know what it was about, Guthrie provided details about what it was about and invited him to do it, noting Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) has flatly denounced it as a baseless conspiracy theory. Trump instead offered that he liked that QAnon was against pedophilia.

When Guthrie pressed Trump on his retweets this week of a bizarre conspiracy theory about Osama bin Laden’s death, Trump explained by saying he was just passing along information. (“That was a retweet, I’ll put it out there. People can decide for themselves.”) Guthrie then provided the retort those tweets have long demanded: that he’s the president, not someone’s “crazy uncle” spouting off on Twitter, and that the information he promotes matters.

I particularly love that last part … “he is the president, not someone’s ‘crazy uncle’ spouting off …”  LOVE IT!!!  Part of me almost wants to watch the clip, just to see the look on his face when she said that!  Maybe I will.  Crazy Uncle Donnie!  Has a certain ring to it, don’t you think?

I have a policy that I do not donate money to political candidates, even ones I support.  Why?  Because there are people going without food, homeless people living on the streets, sick people who cannot afford medical treatment … when you compare the pleas of a politician who has never gone hungry a single day in his/her life against those needs … well, if I have an extra $25 or $100, I donate it to the local food bank or homeless shelter.  Tonight, I broke that policy … so impressed with Joe Biden was I, that I donated $25 to his campaign.  Not much, but given that 75% of my monthly income goes to pay for my insulin and other medications, it was the best I could do.  It was my way of saying, “I believe in Joe Biden.”

We’re in the final days, my friends.  Some 15 million votes have already been cast by mail-in ballots and early in-person voting.  There is a new enthusiasm that we didn’t see even in 2016 … and it isn’t enthusiasm for another four years of the hell we’ve lived through for the last four!  It is hope … the hope for a president who represents ALL of the people, not only the wealthy, not only those who support him, but each and every one of us.  Hope for a brighter future, hope that we can re-establish our relationship with our allies, hope that we can begin to address the racial issues that are tearing this country apart.  Hope … it’s a beautiful word, and tonight, Joe Biden showered me with hope.