Tag Archives: crazy

What Is WRONG With These People??

I know, I know. I’ve been uttering that same, unanswerable question for a number of years now. And actually, the question isn’t “unanswerable” –it just requires a long list of answers, because there’s a lot wrong with them.

So what has set me off this time? Lots of things, actually, beginning with Iowa legislators’ effort to punish people for being poor. (Calling John Calvin…)

Republicans in the Iowa House introduced legislation this month that would impose a slew of fresh restrictions on the kinds of food people can purchase using SNAP benefits,

If the bill passes, needy Iowans will no longer be able to use their SNAP benefits to purchase a long list of items:meat, nuts, and seeds; flour, butter, cooking oil, soup, canned fruits, and vegetables; frozen prepared foods, snack foods, herbs, spices– even salt and pepper.

The bill will end up affecting fewer people, though–the legislature also wants to set new asset limits; those limits would make it much harder for families to even qualify for SNAP. (While SNAP is a federal program, the states administer it.).

Apparently, only two Iowa organizations support this mean-spirited bill: a rightwing group called Iowans for Tax Relief, and the Florida-based Opportunity Solutions Project. That group is part of a national organization of “conservative think tanks and bill mills bankrolled by rich donors who think if you just make poor people hungry and sick enough, they’ll utilize their bootstraps.”

Note for social Darwinists: it you’re going to pull yourself up by your bootstraps, it helps to have boots.

The fact that the referenced opportunity-to-starve project is based in Florida brings me to another jaw-dropping bit of news: DeSantis’ most recent constitutional travesty.

Florida’s Republican governor and presidential aspirant Ron DeSantis has made a name for himself by harassing Black voters, setting up a system to sue teachers for teaching race in ways that might offend Whites, singling out LGBTQ youth (while gagging teachers) and engaging in extreme gerrymandering to reduce the voting power of minorities.
Now he’s gone full-blown white supremacist, banning the College Board’s Advanced Placement for African American studies course from Florida’s schools.

The White House Press Secretary called the move “incomprehensible,” but I find it entirely comprehensible–DeSantis is continuing to pander to the racist base of the Republican Party in his methodical quest for the GOP’s Presidential nomination. I know what’s wrong with Ron DeSantis; what I want to know is: what’s wrong with the Republican base whose votes he is chasing?  (Okay, okay–I know what’s wrong with them, too.)

I’ve already reported on several of the Indiana legistature’s insanities, but Hoosiers do have company in the feverish race to become Mississippi. Eleven Red states have introduced bills to forbid transgender teens from accessing health care;  and several (including Indiana) are toying with measures to eliminate income taxes (funding teacher salaries and state services, paving streets and fixing bridges–those things are all socialism!) 

In North Dakota, Republicans have introduced a bill that would jail librarians for keeping books on their shelves that include images” depicting gender identity or sexual orientation,” and another bill would bar organizations in the state from using trans people’s pronouns.

A Wisconsin lawmaker wants to label single parenting “child abuse,” and Oklahoma  Sen. Ralph Shortey wants to ban “food or any product intended for human consumption which contains aborted human fetuses.”  (The article says there’s no word yet on whether he’s going to follow up with a ban on Soylent Green…)

Oklahoma also brought what has been called the “every sperm is sacred” bill, for the old Monty Python sketch, which, in the spirit of granting personhood at the moment of conception, would deem any waste of sperm (as in, for example, masturbation) “an action against an unborn child.” This month a local Delaware council approved a similar resolution. 

There is much, much more state-level insanity–and  I won’t even begin to list what Kevin McCarthy’s Keystone Kop majority has been up to (or perhaps “down to” is more appropriate) during the past week. Or what new revelations have emerged about George Santos–or whatever his real name is.

The available examples range from despicable to ludicrous–and most have absolutely nothing to do with actual governing. The one characteristic they all share is an autocratic belief that elected officials have the right to use their positions to impose their own beliefs on other Americans, including those who disagree–no matter how divorced from the desires of their constituents (or, for that matter, from reality) those beliefs may be.

It makes me wish that Marjorie Taylor Green had been right. If I had that space laser, I know just where I’d use it… 


We Can’t Just Pass The Popcorn…

I sat down to begin this post intending to write about what I see as an upcoming fight for the soul of the Republican Party. But then, I realized that the once “Grand Old Party” no longer has anything remotely resembling a soul.

Let’s just say that–following their less-than-stellar performance in the midterms– it looks like Republicans will  be witnessing a no-holds-barred, down and very dirty fight for the status of GOP Big Dog.

Repulsive Ron DeSantis won re-election by a big margin in Florida. The size of that margin was an unsurprising consequence of outrageous gerrymandering, “post-Ian” election regulations that made it easier to vote in overwhelmingly Republican areas but not Democratic ones, and various types of voter intimidation–including show arrests of ex-offenders  who’d been told by election officials that they could vote.

His win sets up a contest with Trump for leadership of a semi-fascist GOP.

DeSantis is evil, but far smarter and smoother than Trump, with a vocabulary that exceeds the 70 or so words Trump knows and the ability to make bigotry sound marginally less despicable. He is thus better able to mine the GOP’s culture war against uppity women, non-Christians, Black and Brown people and LGBTQ folks.

Trump, on the other hand, knows how to fight dirty.

According to press reports, in the wake of DeSantis’ win, Trump announced that he intends to reveal “damaging information about Florida Governor Ron DeSantis should he decide to challenge the former president for the Republican nomination in 2024.”

“I will tell you things about him that won’t be very flattering,” Trump told The Wall Street Journal on his private jet after departing a rally in Dayton, Ohio, on Monday. “I know more about him than anybody other than perhaps his wife, who is really running his campaign.”

“I don’t know that he’s running,” Trump reportedly said on Monday. “I think if he runs he could hurt himself very badly.

In a Fox “News” interview on Election Day, Trump also said that Senate Republicans should oust Sen. Mitch McConnell as their leader, because McConnell was “lousy” at his job, and has been “very bad for our nation.” (Well, there you go–I actually agree with something Donald Trump said! McConnell has indeed been “very bad for our nation.” Unfortunately, that’s because he is very good at what he perceives to be his job…)

A friend reacted to these initial attacks by suggesting that blackmail is, and has been, Trump’s “secret sauce.” As he traced the repeated trajectory, It goes like this: a Republican officeholder speaks out against Trump, subsequently visits him in Florida, and does a sudden U-turn.

My friend’s theory is that Trump has access to Putin’s KGB files on US Leaders. Once he threatens the recalcitrant Republican with the dirt he has, the defector is back in line. (Sure would explain “Miss Lindsay”…)

I don’t know whether there’s any factual basis for my friend’s version of a conspiracy theory, but even if the information doesn’t come from Russia, and even if Trump is simply threatening to turn his mindless troops against an opponent via accusations he invents, the one thing we do know is that he never exhibits any behavior approximating fair play or decency.

For his part, we can expect DeSantis to deploy every bit of ammunition he is able to amass against Trump…and thanks to various state-level investigations and the work of the January 6th Committee,  he’ll have access to plenty.

Watching these two repulsive egomaniacs fight for dominance will be interesting. The sixty-four thousand dollar question is: will their battle be enough to finally, fatally splinter the Republican Party?  “Professional” Republicans–elected officials, strategists, etc.–are likely to prefer DeSantas. He’s evil but not crazy. The QAnon mob is unlikely to desert Trump, who is both.

Of course, if Trump is indicted (which I expect), that will throw a wild card into the battle…

Here’s the thing:

The rest of us can’t just retire to the sidelines and watch the wrestling match while eating popcorn. We’ve just been given a reprieve, but not a decisive victory. We have to work hard between now and the 2024 election. We have to continue the battles against gerrymandering and vote suppression and we have to explain what is at stake to the sizable number of Americans who still fail to cast ballots.

Eventually, if we keep at it and are even moderately successful, today’s semi-fascist GOP will fade into history, and we will once again be able to choose between center-Right Republicans and center-left Democrats (no matter what the GOP claims, American Democrats are anything but “Left” as other countries define”Left”….)

We may be able to choose between two parties with souls.




Alex Jones And Donald Trump

One of the blogs I read regularly is Juanita Jean’s: The World’s Most Dangerous Beauty Parlor, Inc. “Juanita Jean” is really a Texan named Susan DuQuesnay Bankston. She’s a longtime Democratic activist in her part of Texas, and a wit who reminds me a lot of the late, great Molly Ivins.

Bankston’s husband and son are both lawyers (these things tend to run in families), and her son recently represented parents of children who were killed in the Sandy Hook massacre, in a suit against Alex Jones.

As many of you are probably aware, Alex Jones is a truly vile, probably crazy conspiracy theorist who spent years making life hell for those parents–telling his depressingly large and equally crazy audience that the massacre never happened, that it was a “false flag” operation conducted by the government, and that the parents were really actors. Followers of his constantly harassed and threatened the parents. Bankston sued Jones on their behalf and in a deposition, got Jones to admit that the massacre had been real and the children had actually been murdered.

Partly due to negative publicity generated by the lawsuit, Jones has been removed from the larger Internet platforms–Facebook, Twitter, etc.–although he evidently remains on the “dark web.”

These details are prologue: recently, Juanita Jean blogged that her son would be on an upcoming PBS Frontline show about Jones, The United States of Conspiracy. So I watched it.

You all need to watch it too. It explains a lot about ugliness and fear and hate, and where America is right now.

The fact that someone like Jones–who certainly seems visibly deranged, whether that’s a schtick or real–could amass literally millions of viewers (presumably equally deranged) is depressing enough. The danger posed by Jones’ devotees is very real; Frontline showed a video made by the listener who believed Jones’ “Pizzagate” conspiracy and proceeded to shoot up the pizza parlor where Hillary Clinton was supposedly running a child porn ring out of its (non-existent) basement. It showed him hyping several other, equally bizarre conspiracies–including 9/11 and Obama “truther” fabrications.

The really eye-opening revelation was the show’s documentation of the relationships between Jones, Roger Stone and Donald Trump. It is not too far-fetched to think that Jones’ exuberant embrace of candidate Trump–an embrace which included Trump’s appearances on Infowars and his public praise of Jones–resulted in thousands of votes Trump wouldn’t otherwise have received.

Jones’ audience of conspiracy-believers obviously form a significant part of Trump’s base–and while that explains some things, it’s also terrifying.

Far and away the most spine-curdling part of the documentary were the repeated instances in which Jones would be shown making a wild, unsupported and frequently bat-shit crazy statement–followed by a clip showing Trump echoing that statement.

We know that Trump doesn’t listen to Dr. Fauci (or any experts, for that matter). He does, quite obviously, listen to Alex Jones.

Anyone sane who has followed politics in the United States the past four years knows that Donald Trump is both appallingly ignorant and seriously mentally ill. We’ve seen that he can be receptive to conspiratorial theories. But it’s impossible to watch this Frontline presentation without realizing how much closer to the edge he is than most observers have recognized.

I also didn’t realize how many Americans aren’t just close to that edge, but well over it.

Watch it.


If You Wonder Why I’m Always in a Bad Mood…

Here are a few of the things that make me want to go to bed and pull the covers over my head. (H/T to Juanita Jean and the World’s Most Dangerous Beauty Parlor).

Furious parents and citizens of Oklahoma took to the streets early Thursday, protesting against Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s Cosmos.  Protesters allege the show is blatantly promoting an anti-Creationist agenda and is ‘standing against the Judeo-Christian moors and values of the Saddleback Township community and others nationwide.”

The fact that they can’t spell “mores” is the least of it…The fact that they can’t tell the difference between science and religion is infinitely depressing.

And another “Christian” heard from, this time from Virginia.

Virginia GOP state delegate and congressional candidate Bob Marshall is standing by his claim that disabled children are God’s punishment for women who have an abortion. “Nature takes its vengeance on subsequent children,” Marshall said in 2010. “It’s a special punishment, Christians would suggest.”

I don’t know about you, but in my opinion, the kind of God who would get back at “sinful” women by punishing innocent children really doesn’t seem worth worshipping…

Impressively crazy as those entrants are, South Carolina isn’t about to give up its hopes of winning the All-batshit competition.

On Thursday, a Senate committee in South Carolina voted to expand the state’s so-called “Stand Your Ground” law to approve the use of deadly force to protect a fetus. The proposal would grant pregnant women protection from prosecution if they were defending their “unborn children,” defined as “the offspring of human beings from conception until birth.”

At least they didn’t vote to arm each fetus. They must be libruls…

South Carolina’s legislature is also having a heated debate over a proposal–triggered by a third-grader who is clearly more scientifically literate than many S.C. lawmakers–to name the wooly mammoth the “State Fossil.”

Sen. Kevin Bryant, a pharmacist and self-described born-again Christian who has compared President Obama with Osama bin Laden, voted to sustain a veto by Governor Nikki Haley of funding for a rape crisis center, and called climate change a “hoax,” proposed amending the bill to include three verses from the Book of Genesis detailing God’s creation of the Earth and its living inhabitants—including mammoths.

The proposal has subsequently been bogged down as legislators debate the additional language.

Meanwhile, Dispatches from the Culture Wars reports that the Louisiana legislature wants to pass a law making the King James Version of the Bible the official state book, and Miami-Dade County in Florida is closing all the bathrooms in polling places. And then there’s this.

And Indiana Governor Mike Pence really thinks he could be President.

We’re doomed. Really.


Remember the One About the Frog…?

There is an old story–a fable, actually–about the most effective way to kill a frog. You just put that little creature in a pot of water and slowly but steadily increase the temperature of the water. Eventually, the frog is boiled to death, but because of the slow, incremental elevation of the heat, it doesn’t realize the danger until it’s too late.

I think that story is an uncomfortable analogy to contemporary America’s political situation.

Yesterday, several news outlets and blogs carried this story:

Republicans want to limit the number of bullets federal agencies can purchase so American gun owners can buy more.  Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe and Rep. Frank Lucas have introduced a bill that would prohibit every government agency — except the military — from buying more ammunition each month, than the monthly average it purchased from 2001 to 2009.

The purpose of this bill, according to the reports, is to prevent President Obama from making good on his plan to have government agencies buy up all the bullets so that patriotic gun-owning Americans won’t be able to buy them.

Think about that for a minute. And then think about that frog.

When I ran for Congress in 1980, I was pro-choice and pro-gay-rights, and I not only won a Republican primary in very Red Indiana, I was accused on several occasions of being far too conservative. In the years since, the GOP has moved steadily–to the Right, then to the far Right ,and then to the far far Right–and finally to paranoid conspiracy fantasy-land. The party of Bill Hudnut and Dick Lugar is now the party of James Inhofe and Ted Cruz.

In 1980, if any political figure had made the sorts of statements that our elected officials–mostly but not exclusively Republican–routinely issue these days, the media would have called for the men in the white coats. But the progression into delusion has been relatively incremental. Lawmakers have slowly but steadily progressed through the stages from ideological rigidity, to extremism, to bat-shit crazy.

The media and the electorate are the frogs who haven’t noticed that the water has gone from warm, to uncomfortably hot, to boiling.