Foaming at the Mouth

The degree to which the Republican grandees have abandoned the Constitution is revealed in their justification for suppressing mail-in voting:

If we allow mail-in voting, no Republican will ever be elected President.

Hello: last I checked, the United States was a representative democracy. That means that dogmatists can expected to be checked by the will of the people. When your policies make you unelectable, you need to change your policies.

In other words, what the Trump, McConnel, and their ilk are saying is “if we want to have another Republican president, we will have to abandon our corrupt crony-capitalism Federal racket.”

Which, actually, is just fine by me.

Coronavirus Lawsuit Brief

Whereas the greatly red state of Mississippi has established precedent in filing suit against China for damages arising from mishandling of the coronavirus outbreak;

Whereas the Executive Branch headed by Donald Trump has engaged in similar mishandling for political purposes, including:

  • Lying regarding the likelihood and potential severity of the epidemic,
  • Use of federal resources to promote and execute policies for Donald Trump’s personal financial and political benefit, and
  • Malignantly removing personnel essential to control of the pandemic when their honest counsel exposes Presidential incompetence and self-serving;

Whereas the Senate Republican majority did empower these acts in condoning similar conduct by President Trump as regards attempts to suborn US policy to coerce Ukraine to create a false narrative to damage a political rival;

Whereas the States run by Democratic Administrations have, through malfeasance and incompetence in the Federal Executive, suffered ten times the loss of life and economic activity than would have been endured had the Executive acted according to policies established by the prior Democratic Administration;

Therefore do these states file suit to act as follows pending control of the epidemic throughout these United States:

  1. Sequester all Federal Tax revenues;
  2. Establish Reserve Banks to ensure sufficient liquidity to allow their citizens to purchase essentials of life; and
  3. Confiscate goods, revenues, and assets in their States held by private companies chartered in States that both voted for Candidate Trump in 2016 and that failed to sanction the aforementioned conduct during the Ukraine impeachment.

Indentured to Incompetence

When the Clinton Administration briefed the incoming Bush team, they emphasized the importance of sending a clear response to the bombing of the USS Cole. The Bush foreign policy team sneered, proclaiming the Cole a “Clinton failure,” and went merrily about strong-arming Russia and China to modify nuclear weapons treaties to allow the design, test, and deployment of a nuclear missile shield. Remembering the inanity of the designs promoted during the Reagan and Bush era, I shook my head. Some in positions of influence tried to trumpet warnings: Tom Daschle, Democratic head of the Senate majority, stood on the Capital steps late in the summer of 2001 to voice his concern that the Bush team was baiting the wrong bear.

Daschle’s priority was international Islamic terrorism. It took only a month for his fears to be realized, horrifically, with the event known now simply as “9/11.”

The cost multiplier for inaction was astonishing, and certainly enormously satisfying to bin Ladin and those inspired by his an example. A meaningful response to the Cole would have cost perhaps $10 million. The response to the coordinated attacks on the World Trade Center, Pentagon, and Congress – involving two wars, time-consuming and costly restrictions on travel, and interruption of international commerce – mounted into the trillions of dollars. For every dollar not spent on prudent prevention, we spent nearly a million dollars.

Swallowing their criticism, the rational party accepted the outcome of the Bush Administrations incompetence as “the new normal.”

Today, with the nation’s economy smothered by pandemic, the apologists for the Trump Administration insist that this is “the new normal.” But step back into the last Democratic executive, a man excoriated by Trump’s “Birther” movement, and we see that this is nothing normal at all. The Zika and H1N1 threats were effectively neutered by the Obama Administration. The total number of lives lost was in the low thousands, with no significant impact on the economy.

The lessons learned from those efforts were institutionalized in protocols for international cooperation led by a team directly in the White House itself.

While I respect the Office of the Presidency, my scorn for Trump is complete due to his utter contempt for the office itself. The Presidency is not a man, it is an institutional process for coordinated decision-making and action. Information is fed into the White House and plans flow out. Trump has not only besmirched the office, he has decimated the processes built over two hundred years to empower presidents to accomplish the nation’s goals. The motivation for those willful acts is Trump’s record of corrupt business dealings, evidenced even during his campaign as he attempted to wield his political prominence to influence civil cases already in progress. Once in office, he systematically bent the powers of his office toward destruction of the institutions assigned to prosecute his corruption.

While the politicization of the security and foreign policy services may be the longest-lasting of those institutional rapes, in real time we are finding ourselves again indentured to incompetence in the Executive Branch. Elimination of Obama’s pandemic action team left the world without a leader in the reaction to COVID-19. The early response to the disease has already cost trillions of dollars, and we can expect the death toll to rise toward 100,000 American lives. Millions of jobs have been lost under the weight of business failures. The obligations of missed payments and unfulfilled contracts will take years to unravel in the court system.

And Trump’s supporters shrug their shoulders and mourn “This is the new normal.” No it’s not. It’s the old abnormal. Wake up, and if you’re unwilling to vote for a Democrat, at least stay home until your party can prop up a candidate with at least minimal competence. I, for one, am tired of being indentured to your blind loyalty.

“We Will Get Through This”

No we won’t, Donald. Hundreds of thousands of us will get sick, perhaps 100,000 will be unable to resume their previous life because of lung damage, tens of thousands will die.

All because you did not act when the Democratic caucus advised you on February 5th that you needed funding to plan for the outbreak. All because you downplayed the danger and allowed people to continue to congregate. All because you did not act to ensure supplies and equipment were in place.

You can “play by instinct” and do your word salad and monitor your Tweet likes to find out what plays well with your base. You may escape blame. But the hospitals and governors will assemble the numbers and you will be called to account in the next election.

You said we’d “win so much you’ll get tired of winning.” Well we’re dying instead, and even Twitter won’t save you from that contrast when November comes around.

WTFU

I’ll re-iterate yesterday’s point in secular terms. Prior administrations, recognizing the disastrous costs of a future pandemic, established an office directly within the White House to ensure international coordination when new diseases are detected. This reflected recognition that the primary spawning ground is currently Southeast Asia. It is in tracking Asian outbreaks of influenza that we build our current flu vaccines.

Prior administrations used the White House office to prevent the spread of MERS and SARS and Ebola. The Trump Administration, in some kind of “Make America Great Again” isolationist pique, dismantled that office. Thus when COVID-19 reared its ugly head, there was no one to lead the response. Worse, the President downplayed the seriousness of the outbreak, and deflected blame to others when it began to make inroads in American communities.

The end result of this strategy was visible in yesterday’s CDC press release. In the most ridiculous display of sycophancy imaginable, the CDC head spoke fawningly of Trump’s initiative in helping to “flatten the curve” of infection. What this means, people, is that they recognize that the disease is out of control. 60-70% of Americans will be infected, with fatalities up in the high hundreds of thousands or low millions. Their only goal is to slow the rate of infection to avoid saturating the American health care system. If that happens, fatalities could reach into tens of millions.

To characterize this as a laudable outcome is simply absurd. That it is being touted in press conferences is tantamount to admission that Trump behind the scenes is threatening to fire anyone who does not flatter his leadership. He is holding the American public hostage to his ego. Obviously the President does not recognize that he abdicates leadership with statements that he’s “not responsible for anything.” Followed by “someone in my Administration did it,” it’s clear that his paranoia has grown from the “Deep State” to blanket his own people.

Those in the Republican Party who projected this faker into the Oval Office have much to answer for. You should have helped the Democrats throw him out on his ear.

Politics and Faith

The Universal Church has a number of forum posts on the proper role of professional ministry in polities. The latest dialog began this week. Here is my response:

Spirituality is the negotiation of the boundaries between the “I” and the “we.” Culturally we have two manifestations of that process. Religion attempts to merge us back into the Unconditional Love from which we emanated. Politics seeks union under conventions promulgated by human law.

It may not seem that those two things are contradictory, but they are. Unconditional Love is permissive – it does not pass judgment (“God sends his rain to fall on the good and evil alike.”), reserving its agency to healing those wounded by evil. Law is repressive – it defines what is allowed, and deploys agents to prevent and punish transgressions.

The proper role of religious authority in politics is then as follows: When asked for a political opinion, ask: “What wrongdoing motivated this policy? How can we heal those so wronged? If that healing is accomplished, do we still need this policy?”

It should be noticed that in excluding politics, people of faith can testify without ambiguity that it was the inspiration of Divine Authority that allowed them to achieve their goals.

I note that the most impressive confrontations in the Bible are with people of faith before political leaders. Moses, Elijah, Daniel, and Jesus and the Apostles themselves are all inspiration examples. In our day examples include Gandhi and MLK Jr.

Ponzi Crime Spree

Watching Trump and his legal team (led by William Barr) go about their business, I can’t figure out the end game. They are trying to run out the statue of limitations on tax and insurance fraud by committing obstruction of justice and ignoring Congressional subpoenas? It’s crimes piled on crimes, sucking in more and more people every day, like some kind of Ponzi scheme in reverse.

What do the Russians have on Trump? On Barr? On the Republican Party? Why are people lining up to go to jail?

Papa Bear is not a Bridge Player

The conservative media is playing up the notion that “No Trump” means that the Mueller investigation was a witch hunt.

The fact is that collusion with Russia has been proven in the Trump campaign – people have pled guilty and gone to jail for it.

Papa Bear picked those people to run his campaign. Even if he wasn’t guilty of collusion himself, he acted consciously to prevent the investigation from proceeding. He admitted on national TV that he fired James Comey because the Russia investigation was a “made-up thing.” That has been disproven.

Whether he is guilty of obstruction is unclear – he can always claim that he was simply acting based upon information provided by others. But you would have to be pretty clueless to believe that Trump didn’t knowingly hire a whole team of people that colluded with Russia, all while pursing a major and highly lucrative real-estate deal with Moscow, all while hiding tax returns that will show proof of collaboration in Russian money-laundering.

William Barr’s first act as Attorney General was to force the Mueller investigation to a close, and then give the President a clean bill of health. The Trump team and conservative media are on a full-court press, following Karl Rove’s dictum that “a lie told often enough eventually becomes the truth.”

And I recall the words of Revelation 13:

Who is like the beast? Who can stand up to him?

Woe unto you, America! This is no accident – this is a (P)Resident Evil.

Deviangelicals?

Evangelicals voted for Trump with the narrow goal of the repeal of Roe v. Wade. Their position is absolutist in this regard: since we cannot know when the soul enters the womb, they insist that every fetus is an unborn child, and thus that termination of any pregnancy is murder. This absolutist position authorizes them control over a woman’s body. Rape, incest and threat to the mother’s life are rejected as justifications for medical termination of a pregnancy. Even birth control is seen as an usurpation of God’s authority to decide when life is brought into the world.

Naturally, as did the slaves before them, women desire autonomy. So they fought for the right to family planning services, a fight that reached its culmination in the Roe v. Wade decision. Having attained autonomy over their bodies, they waged a determined fight to guard their right.

Against that resistance, for forty years the evangelicals have waged a war (sometimes literally) to overturn Roe v. Wade. Joining forces with the Republican Party, they became a powerful engine for fund-raising.

So they voted for a man who famously treated his romantic conquests as pieces of meat – because he promised to nominate judges that would revoke the right to abortion services.

What saddens is to hear them now characterize allegations from other women denouncing other men as a “Democratic conspiracy.” They rely upon the testimony of other men – “friends” of the accused – who admit attending the parties in which inebriated youth engaged in sexual shenanigans.

Here is the fact that you should attend to, my coreligionists: those men have a vested interest in lying, because they also engaged in the same behaviors. If their friend goes down, they all go down.

What should happen, of course, is that fathers should counsel their sons to temperance. Those guilty of youthful indiscretion should recognize and apologize for their transgressions, and by their withdrawal from public life make it clear that such behavior is intolerable and costly.

The alternative is to subscribe to deviancy.

You despise the Catholic Church because it hid pedophilia from the public eye. How can you now support a party that hides sexual deviancy from the public eye? Because the perpetrators were drunk, or politically expedient to the cause of forcing women to bear unwanted children? Under just what conditions, pray, are those children going to be conceived if you tolerate drunken debauchery?

The sad truth is that you are now being used by the political elite in the GOP in the same what that pedophiles used the Catholic Church. They mouth support for your closely-held moral goals, using those assurance as a fig-leaf to cover their history of deviancy.

A Pence for Your Thoughts

Speculation abounds that Mike Pence is the author of the NY Times op-ed that lauds a cabal in the White House that is protecting the world from the President’s mental collapse.

So here’s how the scenario will play out: Trump will be ousted from office a few weeks before the mid-term elections. Pence will be sworn in, and the Republicans will count on the general mood of relief to lift them on polling day in November. They expect to retain full control of the Federal government and many of the states as well.

Trump is a tragedy, but he is loyal only to himself. The Republican restructuring of the federal government was delayed by his need to benefit at every turn. Pence has no such compulsions. He is a true believer, a religious and political dogmatist, and will cooperate fully with the conservative male politicians that seek to preserve their hegemony over the nation.