Readers of this blog frequently send me articles I am unlikely to have seen; often, those are from their local papers (where such papers still exist). I keep the ones I find interesting in a file, and from time to time, I review them.  Often, the saved articles no longer seem relevant, but sometimes, the opinions expressed and predictions made are even more meaningful than when I first saw them.

That was the case with “Early Warning Signs,” an essay from the Madison, Wisconsin Capital Times. Published in March of 2021, the essay began

You’ve likely grown numb to daily outrages by the Republican Party of Donald Trump. You’ve given up hope that at some magical moment, when some line is crossed, masses of educated, intelligent people who identify as Republicans will gently slap their foreheads and say enough is enough.

Enough of the lies about stolen elections, the denial of facts and the rejection of expertise. Enough with a party that has morphed from being about personal responsibility and limited government to one primarily about grievance.

The author then looked back, to see whether incidents” that seemed innocuous at the time” might actually have been “harbingers of catastrophic dysfunction.” He identified three: the vast number of threats to the life of then-candidate Obama that required Secret Service protection much earlier than had been the case with previous Presidential candidates; John McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate; and the rise of  Rush Limbaugh and “hate radio.”

The volume of threats against Obama–then a little-known Senator–was very clearly prompted by the racism and racial grievance that has become far more visible since his Presidency.

Here in 2021, one can see the direct line from there to a party whose white supremacist faction carries Confederate flags, including inside the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 insurrection. Is it any wonder that after eight years of fury about a Black man being president that those boiling with racial hatred would come to worship a racist like Trump?

The choice of Palin–and especially the GOP base’s response to that choice– was the moment when it “became OK for a politician to just exalt in ignorance.” The author quoted Obama’s recent book:

“What became abundantly clear as soon as Sarah Palin stepped into the spotlight was that on just about every subject relevant to governing the country she had absolutely no idea what the hell she was talking about,” he wrote.

“I noticed from the start that her incoherence didn’t seem to matter to the vast majority of Republicans; in fact, anytime she crumbled under questioning by a journalist, they seemed to view it as proof of a liberal conspiracy.”

Like they did with Ronald Reagan years earlier, Republicans said the self-described “hockey mom” had “good instincts” and would grow into the job, Obama wrote. “It was, of course, a sign of things to come, a larger, darker reality in which partisan affiliation and political expedience would threaten to blot out everything.”

As the essayist noted, it’s a straight line from Palin to Trump and to Marjorie Taylor Greene and her ilk.

With his choice of a third omen, the writer echoed my frequent lament about the sea-change in America’s media environment, a change foreshadowed by  the emergence of Rush Limbaugh. As he noted, Limbaugh  sounded “Trumpian 25 years before Trump became president.”

Limbaugh introduced a formula for ratings success that many others would ape: giving voice to the cultural grievances of older, uneducated White guys. After the creation of Fox News–which was specifically and very consciously aimed at the anger of that same demographic–it became acceptable to openly express, and defend, ignorance, racism, homophobia and misogyny.

And so here we are.

There may have been other signs, other omens we missed, but it’s hard to argue with the three chosen by this writer. That, of course, leads me to wonder what omens we are currently missing.

The overturning of Roe is clearly one of those–but will it trigger a return of respect for women’s autonomy, or a march toward Gilead?

The revelations of the January 6th Committee could prompt a return to serious, democratic governance–or fail to halt the next coup effort by proponents of the Big Lie.

The astonishing overreach of the Supreme Court’s hobbling of the EPA  (not to mention the ability of all executive branch agencies to issue regulations) could generate  environmental energy–or be a harbinger of planetary doom.

That’s the problem with omens–you can’t tell where they’re pointing until after the fact.


  1. Jan 6th was the final straw for me. I’ve moved overseas and plan to return for one last look with my wife next spring and attend an US Navy ship’s reunion. That and visit a couple of friends and see the daughter of my late wife.

    When I return to my adopted home that will be the end of the US for me as I have been predicting the demise of democracy in the US for quite some time. I do hold an earned doctorate in education and am an amateur historian and am supported by the observations of many real professional historians and political science professionals. I feel sorry for those who do not or cannot leave.

  2. Actually, the last sentence should read “…you can’t always tell where they’re pointing until after the fact.”

    Sometimes you CAN tell. The accumulation of omens/signals could even go as far back as the day after Lincoln was shot and the radicals from both sides proceeded to create as big a disaster for this country as the Civil War itself. But in more modern times, it was the elevation of creatures like Karl Rove and Lee Atwater. It was the drooling hate and rantings of Newt Gingrich. But all those omens were presaged by the Ronald Reagan (Puppet)/ Donald Regan (Puppet Master) that brought corporate/capitalistic/non-democratic policies to the forefront. Add in Citizens United v. FEC decision by another Republican-dominated court, and the thinking people should have heard the bells tolling for the collapse of our Constitutional government.

    The current Republicans in Congress, the SCOTUS and state governments are all the same and have been since April 12, 1865. What else would we expect from a retro-grade court than overturning progress. It’s what they do. What else would we expect from a very stupid Rick Scott who openly flipped his middle finger at retirees and other low-income people. It’s what they do. It’s what they’ve ALWAYS done. They’re Republicans. They have NO intention of governing for the people. Their corporate/banking paymasters won’t allow it.

    The movie “Game Change” was about the nomination and political burlesque of Sarah Palin. It also featured characters playing Steve Schmidt and Nicole Wallace, true Republicans all the way. But Palin’s utter incompetence, stupidity and egoism rang their bells of conscience, and they ended up bolting the party. Schmidt is co-founder of the Lincoln Project and is a MOST vocal detractor of all things Trump and all things GOP. Wallace ended up anchoring at MSNBC, a decidedly progressive network. I’m sure Todd will have something to say about that.

    So, the omens have always been there for today’s political misery. The problem is not enough people were/are paying attention to them. Maybe the Jan. 6 committee will finally ring the gong of reason that pushes the aggrieved white male nonsense to the back of the room

  3. Gosh, Stan. Thanks for your sympathy. How brave of you to flee your native country so you can avoid helping her recover from this current political disaster. I’ll bet you “adopted” country welcomes you – and your dollars – with open arms and banks. Where will you go when the fascists invade that government?

    There’s a door waiting for your backside.

  4. The omen most are missing right now is how relatively little counter response everything cited has gotten. We have effectively sat back and watched it all happen. Mere shock and awe never won anything, action does. To that end Democrats keep bringing a wet noodle to a knife fight. The great experiment that was American democracy is over. I’ve never wanted to be more wrong in my life, but history teaches otherwise.

  5. palin,mmmm somehow i have the idea that the RNC dropped her on head and handed her to McCain. i just cant visualize McCain pickin her outta the weeds. omen,many in the conspiracy world would say the same thing,giving what todays blog subject is. discredit and overule like a steamroller,by the ignorant,for the ignorant,to be ignorant.. unfortunatly the ignorant do not want to read the reality,they just want to,listen to the music, to their ears and liking.

    Vern: nice intro,but lighten up on the fan base,
    Im sure Stans travels in the Navy gave him better fields to live his only life. whereas we continue
    to endure ours..his choice, i respect it..(former navy)

    Stan,wheres home now?,im weighin the options myself..

  6. “As the essayist noted, it’s a straight line from Palin to Trump and to Marjorie Taylor Greene and her ilk.”

    Palin has returned to join Trump and Marjorie Taylor Greene who are showing triumph after triumph at rallies, in speeches and amassing millions and millions in donations as President Biden and his majority administration are kept in check by the Republican minority and the filibuster which renders majority rule as obsolete. Most here notice my use of movies (rather than the Bible) to make my point; last night I watched the movie “Absence Of Malice” regarding the rights of journalists to print whatever and the devil take the hindmost, as long as what they published was not done with malice “with intent to commit an unlawful act or cause harm without legal justification or excuse”. Someone recently in the flurry of reports coming from the January 6th Committee that the “Big Lie” may not be a lie if the speaker or author believes the lie. Absence Of Malice!!! Those arrested and convicted of the multitude of high crimes and misdemeanors for their part in the insurrection are claiming they believe Trump won the election; will – CAN – a case for them be brought before the Trump Supreme Court using absence of malice as their defense?

    As for Stan Lightner’s cowardly fleeing this country; his presence at the U.S. Navy ship’s reunion, he should be banned for desertion. My grandson is making a career in our U.S. Navy and Lightner shames our military in general. Is he maintaining his American citizenship? If so, it should be questioned if he makes his promised return for a celebration of anything American.

  7. Stan has the right idea, but let’s hope he is running to the East versus the West. Venturing into Europe will be met with more of the same.

    The American experiment is quickly fading but it was also the leader of the West for decades. The Brits followed too quickly, but so did most North Atlantic democracies.

    The West will face some tough blows in the next several years. But don’t worry, Sarah Palin is making a comeback. If you think about it, she’s the perfect sidekick for DeSantos or Trump.

    Nobody is voting for Biden again. So what you’re seeing on the right is what you’ll get. What follows a “shitshow?”

  8. What happens next depends on the next 2 or 3 election cycles and whether enough rational voters turn out to crush the Republican party. We need to start thinking of the opposition party not as Democrats but as Anti-Republicans. And we need to make that an organizing principle. Yeah, yeah, I know. “Organizing” and “Democrats” are almost self-contradictory. Hence the need to think in other terms.

  9. We see the results of the ignorance that is celebrated on the right in the Democrat’s demand that Biden “DO MORE!” The don’t seem to know or to care about the constraints on Presidential power that are inherent in our Democratic Republic. He asked the American public to give him just two more Senators, so Democrats, that’s up to us. Do we vote and get our families and friends to do the same, or do we just take our ball and go home? Doing the former can help us move forward. Do the latter and we will move back to Gilead, or worse.

  10. Vernon,

    Lol, excellent points, you nailed it!

    I would have to point out to Stan, “you can run but you can’t hide…”

    The Hegemony of Insanity is in full effect.

    Unlike any time in history, 8 billion people can communicate with each other in a couple of seconds anywhere on this planet. Countries are so intertwined, that the largest can do as they please, and really dictate World opinion and direction. Capitalism is undoubtedly archaic, but, as much as someone like Vladimir Putin criticizes capitalism he embraces its power. They fund/flood propaganda into countries through social media and clandestine subversive allies increasing tumult, and, to occupy opposing governments to spend their time and resources at a pace which will eventually bring about its demise! This is how the collapse of the Soviet Union occurred, and, how Russia embraced this tactic along with China to attack and cripple the USA.

    In 1835, Alexis de Tocqueville wrote concerning Russia and the United States; “one has freedom as the principal means of action; the other has servitude. Their paths are diverse; nevertheless, each seems called by some secret design of Providence one day to hold in its hands the destinies of half the world.”

    World War II historians verified the Tocqueville omens/predictions!

    So, this is nothing new, this has been talked about for a long long time! Course, we give Credence to these predictions by men of history, but many of these predictions were made way before more modern history! A road map of sorts that would play out in a manner that would be recognizable to those who actually pay attention. Read Daniel the second chapter, research it, omens and warnings have been around for a long long time! Mankind just refused to listen. Of course mortality has a lot to do with it, things that were witnessed in history, in the beginning of the past, are considered fictional because nobody witnessed what was written about that history. Of course, humanity has always been blinded by the ignorant! Because the ignorant and the conspiratorial element of society knows how to propagandize in a way that makes humans unlikely to believe unseen controls at work, and consider it mythical!

    Just like the Babylonian king, people are duped until it’s too late. I do a lot of research, and I write copious notes, and, I do find the connection throughout recorded history, until a Time that history ends.

    Read Proverbs 27:11, 12 and, Luke 17:28 – 30…. Yes, omens are only road signs to danger, unfortunately nobody knows how to read the road signs!

  11. Peggy; we have been in this “fight or flight” situation since 2015 when Republicans showed their true colors (no pun intended) and named Trump as their nominee; knowing full well the majority of the country wouldn’t believe the had a snowball chance in hell of becoming president. You and I and the vast majority here on the blog are sticking around to fight to the finish; we old fogies and old farts who remember living through WWII with shortages of everything and lack of many services, rationing, “Rosie the riveter”, and “Buy Bonds”, taking cans of fat to schools and newspaper collections to aid in the war effort. We were only children who didn’t understand how much our efforts were worth but somehow did understand the need for our involvement and doing without and no whining. We are now in an internal war brought on by politics with politicians and corporations getting richer by the day. I am frustrated that President Biden is prevented from being able to “DO MORE” to meet the demands of those who have no understanding of what is actually going on. Many are of the “instant gratification” generation and the “me first” psychological mind set; none of them would survive the pioneer life of those who gave them this entire nation to roam with their protests.

    I, for one, will continue to answer the “call to arms” from Democratic candidates and I know you and others here on the blog are beside me. “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link” and it is those weak links calling for Joe to “DO MORE”; what are they doing other than ranting and printing signs once they return home from their protests? They are protesting those who are working to help them maintain civil and human rights; fighting from that “circular firing squad” President Obama warned us to beware of.

  12. JoAnn,

    You saved me the trouble of my repeated callout: “Many are of the ‘instant gratification’ generation and the ‘me first’ psychological mind set” – the two are hand in hand, feeding each other.

    One mo’ thang – to the “uneducated” who do not follow the real world, it is clearly apparent that the US government has accomplished little in the last few years – yes, the vaccine, but what else? Many folks have simply given up and are hunkered down, hoping to survive.

  13. Jack, your line, “Vern: nice intro,but lighten up on the fan base..” gave me a much needed chuckle. Well crafted.

  14. We all saw it coming decades ago. First small clues, but relentless. First people enjoying a laugh at the ridiculousness of Archie Bunker. Then a little alarm that it wasn’t stopping there and the people who we thought were joking became serious. Then Palin. Now the question, can it be stopped before it defines who we are as a country?

    My over-the-edge friends now see it as a sport in which they are the home team in the biggest game of their lives that is now on the line. What started as a sport though has slowly, inevitably morphed into life and the definition of who we all must become.

    In other words, a time to save me because that’s all that can be rescued from the raging seas of propaganda washing over the decks

    We have been collectively in an endless search for comfort through entertainment and did not realize what makes others comfortable and how it would be provided and what the consequences could be.

  15. @Todd E ………… Are you dreaming of a benevolent dictatorship? Or, perhaps just a dictatorship in line with your beliefs? Can you give us a current example of your ideal society?

  16. Will Rogers famously noted that “I don’t belong to any organized political party – I’m a Democrat. Of course, he was a comedian and made his statement during the Great Depression, when FDR was beginning to turn the country around with his New Deal, a system that lasted for the next some fifty years until ended by Reagan, a turncoat liberal who was once a union president before selling out to Big Money as a governor and president.

    I have openly considered leaving the country if Republicans win another presidential election but my daughter has talked me out of it on grounds that the American experiment is too precious to abandon, that I owe something to my progeny, and that you don’t man the lifeboats just because the ship has sprung a leak – you fix the leak.

    As Vern suggests in naming names today, we are witnessing the unlikely duo of working Americans and Wall Street via a concoction of Palins, MTGs, Boeberts, and the lingering effects of Limbaughs along with the magnification of ignorance and know nothings in the corporate press and such as Fox. It isn’t often that you see an amagamation of exploiters and the exploited but Republican operatives (with the assistance of the Supreme Court in holding that corporations are people) have somehow managed it.

    To do: Fix the leak, and to take a page out of Trump’s instruction to his mob as he sent them down the street to overthrow our government, “Fight like hell” in fixing our ship of state’s leak!

  17. Gerald,

    WADR – when the GOP takes the House and Senate this year and elects The Former (or, even worse, DeSantis in ’24) and they roll their hated SCOTUS past opinions: gay marriage, etc. past “their court” , and we have to live with their gerrymanders for 10 more years….what will a few buckets full do? Is there a fog between your deck and the iceberg?

  18. We are like cats chasing the red dot, darting from issue to issue with intensity until it moves to the next outrage. If we don’t get rid of the fake filibuster completely or at least return it to its original prescribed form, get the voting rights bills passed and enforced, none of the rest will have a chance of changing.

  19. Lester: I disagree with your framing of my lifeboat metaphor. I think with the 2 for 1 vote (one we get and one they don’t) of perhaps millions of Republican women for the Democratic ticket this fall will see history undone with an historic midterm win for the party in power, and so I expect to have help from unexpected sources in plugging the hole in our hull of state as well as the dike back on land which, among other things, will open the door for Biden’s initiatives freed of the two-year hold of Democratic senators from West Virginia and Arizona, all of which if it eventuates tells me that ’24 will be a repeat of ’22.

  20. Stan: thanks for reminding us for the umpteenth time that you’ve emigrated; Vernon: right-on regarding Stan’s flight to not-U.S. Jack: I respect Stan’s decision to run away, too, but the regular reminders are a bit too much like Todd’s ” you’re all fools” pronouncements–getting tiresome. Alfred: yay.
    Gerald: well-put (your first post); will be surprised if your optimistic prediction of the mid-terms is realized (but see below) .

    Lester: It’s so easy to be an angry doom & gloomer–like all or most of us, apparently, on this site. But I remind myself that I felt d&g during Nixon, Reagan and the Bushes and eventually, things changed for the better, however fleetingly. Todd (and some others on here): I know –you’ll reflexively disagree, and, like you, I’m afraid things will get worse before they get better, but I remain hopeful, even in the face of rampant collective stupidity; despair is just not my cup of tea. “Hope is the Thing With Feathers”. More news as it happens. 😐

  21. If the department of justice chooses not to charge trump and his fellow law breakers with serious crimes they will be giving the gop a bright green light to go ahead and break any/all laws in their pursuit of complete power.

  22. Alfred,

    I would be looking at global leadership from a global citizen perspective. It would be much easier to pull off than some people think. Especially, if done much like the Chinese are doing it across the globe. They use capitalism but have a very tight rein over it by a government that requires superior intellect to qualify as an employee. There still needs to be Wikileaks as an independent press keeping those in government accountable.

    Basically, it’s the design Thomas Jefferson sought for the USA but the oligarchs obliterated it from the get-go. It was over as soon as the Central Bank was smuggled into the equation.

  23. @Todd E ………….. China? A totalitarian regime tolerating an independent press? Your “credibility” just took a big hit. But, thanks for being honest.

  24. Alfred, if you have a superior model for a society of 1.5 billion people, why not allow an independent free press?

    You asked me for my ideal society – not what China should do.

    The global citizen will not tolerate propaganda much longer…especially if missiles start flying. If we want to live together as an open and free society, we will have to welcome both strong central planning by a superior government AND a free and independent free press. It’s all about checks and balances. Einstein set up the model in 1949. The USA had it for maybe a couple of years. Maybe.

  25. Hate radio, and Hate TV, energized the race to the cellar!
    I recall reading, in another world, that McCain did not pick Plain, but the RNC did…no surprise, here. Can the
    RNC be given credit for brilliance? Oxymoron?
    Rove and Gingrich as spoor of Genghis Khan? Slime ridden Stone trying to emulate them? Flynn in the shoes of
    Benedict Arnold? Trump showing the world how important Mental Health treatment is…not that he is actually
    capable of engaging in same.
    We have until November to turn this ship around! Otherwise we will go down in history as the U.S.Ship of Fools!

  26. I have no words … How can people be surprised the repeated pummeling of events like those three cited. They are numerous and have a long – and obvious – history. Those three are omens? What does it take to wake people up?
    President Biden just stated that the Supreme Court is under control of politically-active right wingers. No surprise.
    Brian Kemp won the Georgia governorship by changing state election regulations and illegally over-cleansing voter rolls. No surprise.
    Citizens United declared bribery legal and corporate ownership of congress persons allowable. No longer a surprise.
    30 states are under locked-down Republican one-party rule, like in China and Russia. No surprise.
    Congress has a 20% approval rating. No surprise.
    Congress has a 94% re-election rate. Old news.
    Americans elected Trump, whom New Yorkers knew to be a conman for 40 years before. We’re surprised?
    OMG! What if I actually read a book. What history of omens would appear?

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