Friday, June 02, 2023

Tom on the GOP in 2024

 It seems that every Republican who has ever looked into a mirror and seen a potential president grinning back at him, (or her), has begun touring early primary states like so many 'Common Nightwalkers', (whores),in search of potential clients.

It's beginning to look like 2016, when a crowded primary field had the effect of handing the nomination to Donald Trump. Some pundits say that the result this year will be the same, due to Mr Trump's enduring popularity with his vaunted "base", combined with the aforementioned crowded field of presidential aspirants. 

But history doesn't really repeat itself, as the old adage suggests. Rather, similar themes tend to recur over time. In this instance, the Trump of 2016 was a relatively fresh face, (at least if you didn't read the New York tabloids). But the Trump of 2024 has been exposed as a grifter and narcissist who cares nothing for America and what it stands for. In addition, his legal problems are considerable. He's in the crosshairs of Fani Willis, the Fulton County DA, over allegations of electoral interference and fraud. He's facing charges in New York. And perhaps the most serious threat to his aspirations for a second term in office is the 2 headed investigation by Special Prosecutor Jack Smith, who is charged with investigating Trump's potential interference with the orderly transfer of power (The events surrounding the Jan 6 insurrection), and the irregularities concerning the classified documents that he'd squirrelled away at Mar-A-Lago. 

And Florida Gov Ron DeSantis, who once appeared to be the inevitable successor to Mr Trump as the head of the GOP, has shown himself to be a small man who sells a message of mean-spirited disregard for anyone who is not White, Straight, or Christian, while engaging in battle with a cartoon mouse. He has the voice of a boy just now reaching puberty, and when he speaks, he vomits forth pearls of bumper sticker wisdom that are long past their sell-by date. When he grows up he wants to be Benito Mussolini. Our Ron will make the trains run on time, but they won't serve Black areas, nor will they pick up girls who are holding hands or young men who appear to be overly sissified.

The reasons for this exponential growth of Republican candidates for the presidency are twofold; the most important being the perception of the leading candidates as being seriously flawed human beings who bring to the table an inordinate air of perpetual grievance, and a fantastical ideation that largely rejects commonly accepted truths. 

Some candidates are banking on  people  longing for a "Return to Normalcy", rather than continuing down the path of discord and personal enmity that has characterized our recent political history. The phrase "Return to Normalcy", was the campaign slogan of Ohio Sen Warren G Harding in the 1920 presidential election campaign. His opponent, Gov James Cox, was also from Ohio. The third candidate in the 1920 race was the Progressive Eugene V Debs, who campaigned from prison, where he found himself sentenced on what were essentially political charges. The good news for Donald Trump is that someone has actually waged a presidential campaign from a jail cell. The bad news is that Debs only got about 3 percent of the vote. Harding won the election with over 60 percent of the votes cast. An interesting side note is that both major party candidates for the Vice Presidency later went on to become president themselves Massachusetts own Calvin Coolidge took office when Harding died after eating a Bad Oyster, although there are some who claim that he was murdered. Gov Cox's running mate was the former Secretary of the Navy, Franklin D Roosevelt of New York 

1920 was one of those elections that seemed bigger than life, largely because of the societal issues surrounding it. The incumbent president, Woodrow Wilson, had presided over a chaotic second term, in which he brought the US Into WWI, after winning the 1916 election on the basis that he kept the US out of the European War. Wilson suffered a disabling stroke in 1919, and Wiison's wife Edith and the White House physician, a Dr House, essentially ran the country for the remainder of Wiison's term. The economy had cratered in the wake of WW1, and unemployment rose to 12 percent in 1919.  As is the case today, Republicans have an instinctive fear of Socialism that may have had a basis in reality, since Russia's Communist Revolution had taken place only 2 years earlier.  Let it suffice to say that the months leading up to the 1920 election were tumultuous. Voters were sick of the never-ending drama that typified American politics. Sounds like what many people are feeling today 

Politicians seem to have the same ability that sharks have to detect trace amounts of blood in the water and to respond with aggression when they do so. Because Mr Trump is in great legal peril, and because Gov DeSantis's carefully constructed veneer of invincibility has not appeared strong enough to dissuade potential challengers who are detecting plenty of blood in the water off the Florida coast.

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Karma, Mr. Desantis


May 18, 2023 (Thursday)
Citing “changing business conditions,” Disney leadership today canceled plans to build an office complex near Orlando, Florida. The construction was estimated to cost about $1 billion, and the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity projected it would bring to Florida more than 2,000 jobs with an average salary of $120,000. In his email to employees, Disney’s theme park and consumer products chair Josh D’Amaro made it clear that even more was on the line. He noted that Disney has planned more than $17 billion of construction in Florida, bringing about 13,000 jobs, over the next ten years but suggested that, too, was being reexamined. “I hope we’re able to,” he said.
Disney is locked in a battle with Florida governor Ron DeSantis that began when, under pressure from employees, then–Disney chief executive officer Bob Chapek spoke out against Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Act. This law, dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” law because its vague language prohibiting instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation seems designed to silence any acknowledgement of LGBTQ Americans in grades K–3, was DeSantis’s pet project.
In retaliation, DeSantis led Florida Republicans to strip Disney of its ability to govern itself as if it were a county—as it has done since its inception in 1967—putting the board that controlled Disney under the control of a team hand-picked by DeSantis. But before the new board took over, the old board quietly and legally handed control of the parks over to Disney.
Apparently furious, DeSantis suggested he would build a competing state park or a prison next to Disney’s Florida theme park. In April, the new board set out to claw power from Disney, while the company announced it will hold its first gay-themed pride event in California and that it will build an affordable housing development in its Florida district, a move that Floridians will like. Meanwhile, with DeSantis’s blessing, the Florida state board of education approved expanding the ban on classroom mention of LGBTQ people to include grades 4–12.
On April 26, Disney sued the governor and those of his top advisors behind the attacks on Disney. The lawsuit noted that for more than 50 years, Disney “has made an immeasurable impact on Florida and its economy, establishing Central Florida as a top global tourist destination and attracting tens of millions of visitors to the State each year.” But, it said, “[a] targeted campaign of government retaliation—orchestrated at every step by Governor DeSantis as punishment for Disney’s protected speech— now threatens Disney’s business operations, jeopardizes its economic future in the region, and violates its constitutional rights.”
The lawsuit called out DeSantis’s actions as “patently retaliatory, patently anti-business, and patently unconstitutional. But,” it said, “the Governor and his allies have made it clear they do not care and will not stop.” The company said it felt forced to sue for protection “from a relentless campaign to weaponize government power against Disney in retaliation for expressing a political viewpoint unpopular with certain State officials.”
The fight between DeSantis and Disney illustrates the dramatic ideological change in the Republican Party in the last two years. No longer committed to keeping the government weak to stay out of the way of business development, the party is now committed to creating a strong government that enforces Christian nationalism.
This is a major and crucially important political shift.
From the earliest days of the Reagan Revolution, those leaders who wanted to slash the federal government to end business regulation and cut the social safety net recognized that they did not have the votes to put their program in place. To find those votes, they courted racists and traditionalists who hated the federal government’s protection of civil rights. Over time, that base became more and more powerful until Trump openly embraced it in August 2017, when he said there were “very fine people on both sides.”
As he moved toward the techniques of authoritarians, his followers began to champion the system that Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán called “illiberal democracy” or “Christian democracy” in his own country. Orbán argued that the principle of equality in liberal democracy undermines countries by attacking the national culture. Instead, he called for an end to multiculturalism—including immigration—and any lifestyle that is not based on the “Christian family model.” He seized control of universities to make them preach his values.
Today’s Republican leaders openly admire Orbán and appear to see themselves as the vanguard of a “post-liberal order.” They believe that the central tenets of democracy—free speech, religious liberty, academic freedom, equality before the law, and the ability of corporations to make decisions based on markets rather than religious values—have destroyed national virtue. Such a loss must be combated by a strong government that enforces religious values.
Right-wing thinkers have observed with approval that DeSantis’s Florida is “our American Hungary.” Indeed, DeSantis’s “Don’t Say Gay” law appears to have been modeled on Orbán’s attacks on LGBTQ rights, which he has called a danger to “Western civilization.” DeSantis’s attack on the New College of Florida, turning a bastion of liberal thought into a right-wing beachhead, imitated Orbán’s attack on Hungary’s universities; on Monday, DeSantis signed three more bills that undermine the academic freedom of all the state universities in Florida by restricting what subjects can be taught and by weakening faculty rights.
DeSantis’s attack on Disney is yet another attack on the tenets of liberal democracy. He is challenging the idea that Disney leaders can base business decisions on markets rather than religion and exercise free speech.
There is another aspect of the Republicans’ turn against democracy in the news today. If democracy is a threat to their version of the nation, it follows that any institution that supports democracy should be destroyed. Today, the House Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, led by Representative Jim Jordan (R-OH), continued its attack on the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Ranking member Representative Stacey Plaskett (D-VI) pointed out that Jordan was violating committee rules by refusing to let Democrats on the committee see the transcripts he claims to have from a whistleblower. Other committee members noted that two of the witnesses have been paid by Trump loyalist Kash Patel.
Plaskett warned: "The rules don't apply when it comes to the Republicans.... It's all part and parcel of the Republicans' attempt to make Americans distrust our rule of law so that when 2024 comes around and should their candidate not win, more and more people will not believe the truth. The truth matters."
And so does power. Although House Republicans are trying to protect Representative George Santos (R-NY), who was just indicted on 13 counts, by sending his case to the Republican-dominated Ethics Committee rather than allowing a vote on whether to expel him, Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) introduced articles of impeachment against President Biden.
Also today, the far-right House Freedom Caucus has called for an end to any discussions of raising the debt ceiling until the Senate passes its bill calling for extreme budget cuts. Forcing the nation into default will cause a global economic panic and, asked if they should compromise with the White House, Representative Bob Good (R-VA) said: “Why would we? We have a winning hand.”

Sunday, May 14, 2023

Tom on Mothers' Day

 Today's Subject Line Song was actually the B-side of Elvis's hit 'The

Wonder of You'. Mama Liked the Roses was believed to be about his late
mother, Gladys, with whom he had a seriously weird relationship. Most
boys love their mamas, but like so much else in Elvis's life, his love
for his mother was way over the top. When Gladys Presley died in
1958, she was only 46 years old. Parents sometimes die young and while
their spouses and children are often emotionally devastated, few
people take their mother's death as hard as Elvis did. Elvis was in
basic training in the US Army when his mother died after a short
illness. Gladys's funeral was something of a spectacle because in 1958
anything that had to do with Elvis was the subject of tremendously
comprehensive news coverage, and his mom's funeral was no exception.
By all accounts. Elvis was inconsolable and he tore his garments and
gnashed his teeth, so great was his sorrow. He addressed his mom as if
she still lived in what must have been a truly cringeworthy
spectacle. Perhaps the defining anecdote involved Mrs Presley's
favorite Gospel group, The Blackwood Brothers, who Elvis had hired to
perform at his mom's funeral. Elvis refused to let the group stop
performing after the one set that he'd hired them for, insisting that
they continue to perform until cooler heads prevailed. Elvis also made
a spectacle of himself at his mom's gravesite where some observers
worried that he might throw himself into her graveElvis may have been
childlike in many ways but his appetite for he pleasures offered by
female flesh as fully adult except for the belief that females ho had
given birth were somehow damaged and unworthy of his attentions and
this distaste was apparently a factor in his separation and divorce
from his wife Priscilla, as you might imagine

But Elvis as in no sense normal Normal people have a relationship with
their mothers that is both unreservedly loving and maddeningly
complex When we are small children our mothers were like Gods all
knowing and all powerful They knew how to make us feel better when
we're sick and taught us how to operate our bodies Moms oversaw and
encouraged the necessary transformation from feral savages which is
the natural state of small children into miniature adults who're
reasonably attuned to what it takes to function within the larger
universe of society as opposed to the cozy nest that is more tolerant
of our foibles

But once we go off to school we begin to realize that our moms are
fallible. We become acquainted with all sorts of competing authority
figures who seem more powerful and more knowledgeable than our hapless
moms. Teachers rule our days, and policemen rule the streets. How we
relate to our peers becomes increasingly important as we grow older.
We eventually develop societies and activities that largely operate
without a mother's input, (think of the societal crucible that is the
modern high school). We value independence over guidance and demand
the freedom to make our own mistakes, and we make them early and
often. We break our mothers hearts on a daily basis but a wise mother
understands that this difficult and chaotic transition from childhood
to adulthood is developmentally necessary and she tries like hell to
not take it personally

When we become adults in our own right we realize that our moms have
always had our backs; that they've always sacrificed their own needs
for ours. That's what a mother does. So let us honor our moms today,
and everyday, for their unstinting devotion on our behalf

Happy Mother's Day

Sunday, May 07, 2023

Tom on Americans' Take of Mexican Food


Happy Cinco de Mayo! It's a holiday that Americans use to celebrate
their Mexican heritage by folks who are not themselves Mexican. It's
comparable to St Patrick's Day in that respect. It's just another
excuse for folks to party and drink to excess. The people who consume
vast amounts of tequila and Mexican beers like Corona and Dos Equis,
among others, eat vast amounts of what purports to be Mexican food,
although much of such food is more Tex than Mex. Probably much of what
we think of as Mexican food suitable for consumption on Cinco de Mayo
will actually be the sort of dreck served at the nation's Taco Bell
drive-ins and Chipotle's Mexican Grilles. I can honestly say that I've
never crossed the threshold of either chain. Both of my kids enjoyed
Taco Bell But I've never been tempted. Perhaps it was the smell of
rotting horseshit that escaped from the bags containing their
take-out orders that they would consume in the darkness of their
bedrooms, which would therefrom be lit by the fluorescence of decay.

If Taco Bell is an excretable version of Mexican food most often
enjoyed by drunks and homeless people, Chipotle Mexican Grill is the
best place to go if you enjoy the excitement of explosive diarrhoea in
a 'Fast Casual' setting. You would be well advised to have an ample
supply of moistened towelettes on hand when you visit, because should
you suffer from he 'Chipotle Cha-Cha, be advised that contact with
this diarrheal exudate has been known to cause serious burns if left
untreated. Chipotle is well known for the disturbing incidence of
food borne illnesses that it is found to be responsible for. The chain
has actually attempted to open outlets in Mexico City but has faced
universal criticism and quickly closed

Besides it's role in putting the children of gastroenterologists
through college, Chipotle is famous for the inauthentic appearance of
the models used in their ads The young folks depicted in said ads are
so White and Aryan looking that they bring to mind the old
recruitment posters for Hitlerjugend (Hitl
er Youth) to mind. None of
them would be mistaken for Mexican, ever.

Wednesday, April 26, 2023


 A thought from an email from my brother Tom dated
April 16, 2023

Louisville Kentucky was once again the locale of a shooting this time in a park about a mile away from where Mondays shooting took place Two dead and 4 wounded It hardly seems worth mentioning anymore We're getting so inured to stories of on the news about blood running in the streets in of American cities and towns that it takes a extraordinarily high death toll or some seriously grotesque aspect to the event to make us take notice.

 It's gotten to the point where you have to always have situational awareness You have to always know where the exits are lest somebody decide that today's s a good day to die and is resolved to take a few people with them Random death at the hands of angry strangers has become the norm and anyone venturing outside is well advised to not only carry ID on all journeys outside the home but that such an ID include your blood type.

Tom on the GOP in 2024

 It seems that every Republican who has ever looked into a mirror and seen a potential president grinning back at him, (or her), has begun t...