The Hits Keep Coming…

A few weeks ago, I asked one of my sons if he’d read my blog that morning; he said he hadn’t, because most of my posts depressed him. I completely understand that reaction; I have begun “skimming” the headlines rather than reading the “doom and gloom” reporting and punditry that constitutes the overwhelming majority of items delivered to me each morning.

I’m convinced that–if one can take a sufficiently “removed” perspective–there is evidence  that Americans are moving toward a more inclusive, democratic future. But the day-to-day reporting doesn’t reflect broad social movements–for one thing, bad news and dire predictions are today’s iteration of the media’s longtime devotion to “if it bleeds, it leads.” Negative and shocking stories capture eyeballs, and it isn’t only Facebook that focuses on “engaging” readers.

It’s hard to keep a balanced view–let alone a positive one–when we hear more every day about the extent to which (mostly Republican) officeholders have descended into behaviors that range from financial self-dealing to unashamed bigotry. Two recent examples are illustrative.

Propublica has reported

Former President Donald Trump empowered associates from his private club to pursue a plan for the Department of Veterans Affairs to monetize patient data, according to documents newly released by congressional investigators.

As ProPublica first reported in 2018, a trio based at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort weighed in on policy and personnel decisions for the federal government’s second-largest agency, despite lacking any experience in the U.S. government or military.

While previous reporting showed the trio had a hand in budgeting and contracting, their interest in turning patient data into a revenue stream was not previously known. The VA provides medical care to more than 9 million veterans at more than 1,000 facilities across the country.

Patient data–which veterans have every right to expect will be subject to doctor/patient privacy rules– could be sold to major companies for hundreds of millions of dollars. The trio–described by Propublica as “the Mar-a-Lago crowd”–obviously knew their plans were improper. One of the emails obtained by the publication demonstrated that the group took efforts to conceal its activities. It read “We are still unsure what can be put in emails and what to discuss verbally,”

New evidence that the former administration was essentially a gang of grifters won’t surprise anyone who isn’t a brainwashed MAGA partisan. Despicable as such behaviors are, theft and self-dealing are longtime human transgressions, and understandable albeit reprehensible. Less comprehensible is the GOP’s eagerness to flaunt their bigotries.

As the Religion News Service has reported,

The Republican members of the Senate’s Small Business Committee have failed to attend confirmation hearings for Dilawar Syed, the Biden administration’s pick to be the deputy administrator of the Small Business Administration.

Syed’s first confirmation hearing was scheduled for April 12, but on that day and three subsequent dates — the latest on Sept. 21— the Republicans have effectively boycotted the nominee, who, if confirmed, would be the highest-ranking Muslim in the administration.

 A number of religious groups, including African American Ministers In Action, Sojourners, the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association and the National Council of Churches, have  accused the GOP of “anti-Muslim animus” for its opposition to Syed, whose nomination is also supported by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

A report from Huffpost notes the changing excuses for opposition to Syed, who is clearly well-qualified for the position.

He is a businessman ― currently president and CEO of Lumiata, a health care analytics company ― who has also stepped into public service roles in both California and at the federal level, leading engagement with small businesses after the passage of the 2009 stimulus package for President Barack Obama’s administration. He is also co-founder of AAPI Victory Fund, a super PAC dedicated to mobilizing Asian American voters.

When Jewish organizations demonstrated the falsity of accusations of anti-Israel activity, Republicans shifted their argument…to Planned Parenthood.

Instead, they all pointed to a joint statement saying they will oppose filling the deputy SBA job until the Biden administration commits to taking back loans given to some Planned Parenthood affiliates under the Paycheck Protection Program. The loans, handed out during President Donald Trump’s administration, were meant to help small businesses keep employees on their payroll during the pandemic…

“It has been a successive series of things. And if one didn’t stick, they found another one. And if that didn’t stick, they found another one,” said Shekar Narasimhan, a friend of Syed’s and co-founder of AAPI Victory Fund.

It is glaringly obvious that the Republican Senators’ real objection is that Syed is Muslim.

It isn’t just the ever-growing looney-tune caucus composed of the likes of Marjorie Taylor Greene and Louie Gohmert. The once Grand Old Party is currently composed  almost entirely of conspiracy theorists, grifters and bigots.

it can’t crash and burn soon enough.


  1. But it may NOT crash and burn. If they can rig enough state election mechanisms, If they take back the house next near, If they do a few more things… the crazy bastard could be back and then god help us all. I am not feeling the happy just yet.

  2. I’m not sure my post will cheer up your son, either. I’m afraid that people choosing only to bask in the sunlight while opposing darkness are deluding themselves of reality. 😉

    Denial versus acceptance and all that jazz. It’s what makes the Blues work, and I suppose Country music.

    Anyway, Sheila writes, “Despicable as such behaviors are, theft and self-dealing are longtime human transgressions, and understandable albeit reprehensible.”

    The keyword is human.

    When you add money to the mix, humans will do all sorts of reprehensible things. This is why giving the economically elite the openly and blatant opportunity to bribe public officials will create a kakistocracy. Any book on morals and ethics or philosophy will teach you this fact.

    So, what did you expect we’ll get when we allow our public sector to be controlled by the economic wolves from the corrupt private sector? Even the grand public servant, Thomas Jefferson was afraid he’d turn into a wolf if we didn’t have a powerful free press holding him accountable.

    He knew human nature.

    The democratic checks and balances on power aren’t functioning at all. Not for decades, if ever. Not sure how anybody interested in our country could be positive knowing that the wolves are running free.

  3. This is just normal GOP obstructionism. They find a reason any reason or more like a mirage to impede Biden. Prejudice may enter into the obstructionism.

    Why is DeJoy still the Postmaster General???

  4. We are either headed for a new era of progressivism or the end of democracy. My father and his WWII buddies thought the late 1960s meant the end of democracy. We ended up electing Ronald Reagan who ushered in a new more conservative era. I choose to remain optimistic and believe that our democracy is cyclical and that the Trump Era will eventually give way to a more progressive era and that I will live long enough to see it.

  5. I read an article about Homo sapiens a few years back, where the author felt that we should be called homo spiritualis because we were the homonim that belived in a spiritual life. Maybe we should be called homo criminalis or homo fantasias. I HOPE the homo sapians who are still around can somehow prevail.

  6. For a long time it has been obvious that the GOP is a fully owned subsidiary of the Oligarchs of America. In their postmodern dystopian vision of who we are, they have concluded that if you encourage the rage of people with little or no understanding of government, they will cheerfully turn that government over to those who cause them to suffer. Failing a “rigged election” coup, they are fully prepared to employ whatever means necessary (300 million guns?) to take back the top office.

    Perhaps our hope lies in further escalation of their insanity until, finally, they will revert to decency and be afraid to show their faces in public.

  7. On a different note: The Nobel Prize for Economics has been awarded to a trio, including David Card, whose work in 1992 clearly demonstrated that raising the minimum wage does NOT cost jobs. Yes, I did say 1992. It does take that long sometimes to be proven right enough to win a Nobel. Now if only those pseudo-economists who profess to conservatism would catch up, maybe we could get a minimum wage tied to inflation.

  8. Yesterday, driving thru southern Indiana, I saw many Trump 2024 flags. The sight of the number of his supporters almost sickened me. I reminded myself, far more residents had no flags in their yards. I chose to view that as good.

  9. I am not optimistic, but focusing on where real solutions are taking hold really helps. Instead of inevitable doom, these help me see a race to see if determined resistance and constructive alternatives can at least mitigate the crises we are in the midst of. The more we hear of these, the more likely more of us will see what we can do to contribute instead of giving up in frustration. BTW, Al Gore is a master at this. Watch any of his Ted Talks and you’ll see what I mean: He is graphically honest with the bad news, but always shows what is being done that really is heartening. We all need a lot more of this.

  10. The Trump era continues and we are coming up on 2 years of the Pandemic; 5 years of “The Hits Keep Coming…” has weakened any reserve strength we built during President Obama’s 8 hopeful years in the White House. We are effected physically, emotionally, mentally, financially and have lost hope of returning trust in our government. The expanding political fight over masks and vaccinations and the battle over women’s rights to birth control and the spreading Catholic SCOTUS support of anti-abortion for any reason denies the majority of this country to protective health care; neither of which should be under political or religious control. Those who rant, rave, whine, cry, piss and moan over lack of prompt service and shelves empty of goods in our stores and long lines due to short staff COULD be temporary were it not for the on-going politician’s support of the source of much of our current situation. The news of thousands quitting jobs at this time will make the Republicans support of the “Big Lie” a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    The situation regarding the control of violent police abuse of power appears to be covered up but is ongoing. The officers about 2 weeks ago who violently attacked and arrested the white deaf mute who didn’t obey their orders gave the excuse they didn’t know what his hand movements meant. The officers who drug the black man out of his car onto the ground while arguing with him that he can get out of the car after being repeatedly told he was a paraplegic and unable to get out of his car; why didn’t the officers know what “paraplegic” means? In Indianapolis the officer who kicked a homeless man in the face as he was already under control and on the ground on Monument Circle; claimed it was an accident. And Indianapolis has now had 215 murders this year with 2 1/2 months to go.

    Doom and gloom surrounds us 24/7; thank you Sheila for not lying to us as we read your daily blogs.

  11. I’m with Sandy. My hope is that the 5 million people still sitting on the sidelines outside of the US work force are doing so because they’re finding it’s a good time to reflect on what’s really important in their lives and how they wish to live it. So many Boomers, GenX and Millenniels have worked their tails off chasing a highly materialistic and ultra-leveraged lifestyle, only to find themselves no better off and with no chance of “keeping up with the Kardashians”…a reality show about family who got rich and famous by being, well, rich and famous.

    Trickle-down Reaganomics has chewed up people by the tens of millions every year to produce sky-high investment returns for institutions and people who don’t get a form W-2 at the end of the year. So my hope is that this phase is coming to a close and what we are really seeing is not the end of democracy but rather the end of predatory American capitalism, and the establishment of the value of labor to a more equal footing (or less unequal) with the value of capital. I just read an article in The Atlantic by Emma Green where she interviewed the president of Princeton University. The title of the article and question guiding the whole interview was: “Should Princeton Exist?”. We need to be asking more questions like that in all aspects of American life.

    But in the meantime the most important thing – in fact, the ONLY thing – is to ensure that the former guy doesn’t get re-elected in 2024, legitimately or otherwise.

  12. Much of the discussion here is about what motivates the GOP and what their vision is for the country. Of course, such considerations usually come to the conclusion that they have no vision for the country’s future only for their personal futures.

    Now we are starting to realize the tactics that go along with their harvesting of the country’s assets. When in power they kick the can of responsibility down the road to the next Democrat turn and instead help themselves to the aforementioned assets. When the Democrats open the can as their turn comes around Republicans then stir up culture wars riling their base to believe that the past is being stolen from them by liberals preparing for the future. That explains climate change, diversity, the human population and technology explosion, the deficit, our colonial wars, the pandemic, relationships with Russia and China and other authoritarian empires, Evangelicals, and even the Democrat defense of democracy, our most sacred legacy.

    Apparently once one concludes that their country has no future it’s easy to conclude they might as well help themselves to what’s left over from the past and avoid the work of preparing for someone else’s future.

  13. The problem isn’t the insane ones. I’m convinced the insane group (maybe as much as 30% of the public?) is essentially gripped by religious fanaticism with respect to their beliefs on various conspiracy theories. It’s almost certainly completely entwined with their religiosity. Understandably, these beliefs are hard to change. This group of pawns will actively fight against change. They are both pitiable and dangerous, but we must still help them as much as we can.

    The real problem is all the GOP members who know better but go along with the insanity in order to retain power and control. They are the real evil ones. And of this group, those that actively promote the insanity are the worst of the worst. I’m thinking of people like Mitch and Tucker, as prime examples, but there are many, many of these horrible people. The main problem with these people is that they are psychopaths, and honestly don’t care what happens to the world and all of the beings inhabiting it.

  14. It seems to me that my friends on this blog are really pessimistic about the future today. I guess that’s why I try to stay in today. I found focusing on tomorrow tends to create anxiety for me.

    I am not surprised that the GOP is blocking a candidate who happens to be Muslim. They must see Muslims as a monolith. I find that I, as a woman, have a lot of fear of Muslim men because of the highly oppressive sexism in Middle Eastern cultures. Even so, there are, believe it or not, progressive Muslims who choose to move into the 21st century and some western values.

    What’s really sad is that bigots confuse Sikhs with Muslims. As a result, Sikhs have been terrorized and even killed.

    Whenever I read this blog, I end up petting my cat whose fur is incredibly soothing and soft. So, I think it’s time to pet the cat.

  15. Magats have, for years, yearned to privatize and monetize government operations for the economic benefits of their big contributors.

  16. Joanne – I took two semesters of World Politics at IU many moons ago and our professor insisted on referring to our species as “homo saps.” We thought such a reference was amusing at the time, but when looking over the Trump portion of the species since then I think the professor was onto something.

    However, Republicans and their rich grifters do not enjoy a monopoly on pretense and criminality. There are to be sure the Teds, i.e., Bundys and Cruzes, a mentally ill ex- president and congress people and their followers, but there are also millions who are able to live in this sea of negativity and absorb the daily news while staying on the lee side of Pollyanna and using such bad news as springboards to agitate for reform.

    An argument can be made that the sensitive among us should number among this group in using our energy to go after those who are responsible for such bad news rather than bemoaning the news per se. In short > O.K., the news is bad, so what are we going to do about it? Chinese expansion? Voter suppression? Electoral theft? A dying planet? Racism? Wage and wealth inequality? The list is long, and well known to be caused by human activity or lack thereof, so let’s use our time and energy in going after these homo saps. Unrelentingly.

  17. Dear Ms. Kennedy,

    Off point, but looking ahead, me would like to read what you have to say about the Postal Service. They are moving into the spotlight this time of year. Let me point out what most don’t know: since Reagan, Republicans have been trying to crush the Postal Service purposely making it fail so they can hand off the money making operations to their wealthy friends (fiends). The Postal Service has been forced to fund Health Care for retirees 75 years into the future. They purposely under staff to ruin the reputation and create animosity toward the Service. RSVP

  18. Syrian Muslim refugees were vetted far better/longer/intensively than any of drumpf’s judicial lifetime appointees and it wasn’t even a close contest.

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