The man who never alters his opinion is like standing water, and breeds reptiles of the mind. -- William Blake
Truthfully, I’d rather blog about almost anything other than Trump and the GOP, but the unfolding, can-you-believe-this disaster in Washington is what’s going on, and it must be acknowledged. Unfortunately, we live in a country filled with mental reptiles.
I follow all kinds of media, including right-wing media. For years, I used to listen to Rush Limbaugh, the true leader of the GOP, to see what “the enemy” is saying and for my own amusement. Rush is/was a master entertainer/propagandist, a jovial carnival barker, spreading his lies and slanders joyfully, shamelessly. “Talent on loan from God,” “from behind the golden microphone,” at the “Excellence In Broadcasting” Network; indeed, Mister Snerdly. It used to amuse me to hear how boldly he bent the truth to suit his politics. (Al Franken wrote a couple of books, documenting his constant lies.) Rush was especially entertaining during the years of his oxy-contin addiction when he sounded happy and as high as a kite, like W.C. Fields on mushrooms. But after a while I got tired of his act and hearing him repeatedly say things like “we have the greatest health care system in the world.” Finally, his LA radio station changed so I never followed him. But, make no mistake: he is still the ideological head of the Republican party. No one crosses El-Rushbo.
I also watch Fox News/Faux News/Trump TV when I can (when the TG is out of the room; she refuses to watch it), switching from MSNBC and CNN during commercials. I dip into all their shows, for as long as I can stand and/or for a good laugh. I know all their on-air personalities, all the beautiful, mean women and the blustery, oblivious men that Roger Ailes put on the air. (There are a few exceptions: Shepard Smith and … and … that’s it.)
I knew that Megyn Kelly would crash-and-burn outside of the Fox Universe once the world saw how nasty she was. She was Murdoch’s Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS -- perfect in that culture of poison. (Her reputation was made when she humiliated arch-GOP-establishment-villain Karl Rove on election night.) But outside of Fox, she will have to restrain her nasty streak and will ultimately fail.
I could never stomach much Sean Hannity, either on radio or TV. Occasionally, I’ll watch a few minutes these days because he is the absolute point man in the defense of Trump on the Mueller investigation, and I want to know what the latest GOP strategies and maneuvers are. Also, we know that he and Trump talk on the phone, and Hannity talks directly to Trump on his broadcast. He’s a cheerleader and coach at the same time.
But finally, Hannity is too dull. He’s like many of the brainless, bully-boy Irish kids I grew up with on Long Island. He’s from Franklin Square, a couple of towns away from my hometown of Valley Stream. Hannity dropped out of two colleges and became a house painter. He still has the political acumen and depth of knowledge of a house painter. Some wag at The New Yorker had the perfect take on Hannity: he’s like “the quarterback to whom everything must be explained twice.”
But Faux News is very good on discipline: when they line up on an issue, they hammer it constantly. Lately, it’s Devin Nunes FISA Memo. Now Fox News shouts “RELEASE THE MEMO,” twenty-four, seven, and everybody joins in. Anything to muddy the water and distract.
It got me thinking about all the scandals—mostly imagined, a few with just enough scent of reality to be plausible—that the GOP has cultivated over the years, products of reptile minds:
-- “birtherism” – (Donald Trump started spreading it in 2011)
-- Hillary and Benghazi
-- “voter fraud”
-- the war on Christmas
-- climate change denial
-- the death of Vince Foster
-- the murder of Seth Rich
-- FEMA concentration camps
-- every move Loretta Lynch and Eric Holder made
-- the videos that brought down ACORN
-- 9/11 as a government plot
-- Shariah law in the US
-- Agenda 21 (a UN natural resources sustainability plan)
-- the “North American Union”
-- HAARP (High-frequency Active Auroral Research Program)
-- door-to-door gun confiscation
-- “the homosexual agenda”
-- thousands of Muslims in New Jersey, cheering on 9/11
-- foreign troops on US soil
-- and, of course, the granddaddy of GOP scandals: the Monica Lewinsky affair
A few manufactured GOP/Fox/right-wing scandals “worked.” They destroyed ACORN, a perfectly fine non-profit advocacy group for more than forty years whose only crime was helping poor people of color register to vote and fight for their rights.
And now we have a real scandal – Russian interference, aided and abetted by the Trump team, in our election – and his supporters are trying to create smoke and distraction to blind and confuse the electorate. As new evidence emerges (Cambridge Analytica, anyone?) and the mid-terms approach, the noise from the right-wing echo-machine will grow.
The GOP/Faux/right-wing-hate machine is very good at creating villains. Suddenly, career public servants like James Comey, Robert Mueller, Sally Yates, Andrew McCabe, and Rod Rosenstein are evil agents of the “deep state” if they threaten Trump. (And the funny thing is that Comey and Mueller and Rosenstein are all REPUBLICANS!! They were Bush II appointees.)
The desperation of Trump defenders is increasingly alarming. When the GOP, for many years the party of “law and order” and support for all levels of law enforcement, decides to throw the FBI under the bus, attempting to undermine the public’s faith in the FBI and our system of justice, we are in deep trouble.
But in addition to disrespect for the FBI, other pillars of conventional Republican ideology – fiscal responsibility, states’ rights, resistance to Russian aggression – have been discarded in the one year of Trump. He stands for nothing (except self-promotion and greed), so the party he leads now also stands for nothing.
“Deficit hawks?” when Obama is president? A trillion-and-a-half dollar deficit created by the Trump tax cuts.
“Strong defenders of our national security?” Oh, Putin isn’t so bad, and the US interferes in other countries’ elections anyway.
“The party of law and order, champions of all levels of law enforcement?” The FBI is now corrupt, with a “secret society” and part of the “deep state” that wants to destroy Trump.
“The party of family values and strict morality?” Trump’s 130K payoff to the porn star he was banging while Melania was pregnant isn’t anything to be concerned about. Didn’t he ask Jesus for forgiveness? Oh, he didn’t? Oh … never mind. Imagine for an instant if Obama had paid off a stripper.
The only things they seem to be consistent about are tax cuts for rich people and corporations … attacking the safety net (and any remant of the New Deal/Great Society/etc.) … doing whatever their corporate donors want (i.e., de-regulation) even if it means destroying the environment … building up military hardware mindlessly … and blaming everything on the poor and minorities (whether race, gender, sexual identity).
Perhaps the only good thing about Trump is that he will lead the GOP to self-destruction, and the rest of the country can try to pick up the pieces and create a just, saner, fairer society. But it’s going to be ugly, going down.
The Koch Brothers conservative network of donors is prepared to spend $400 million on the 2018 election, a full 60% more than they spent in 2016, to support the GOP in continuing the Trump agenda. (The Trump tax cut paid off royally for the super-rich, and they want to protect their investment and press their advantage.)
Lots of people march and complain, but there’s seems to be real genuine movement in the country to repudiate Trump.
Let’s see who votes in November.
SWING LEFT – Find your nearest vulnerable GOP representative and unseat him or her.
INDIVISIBLE – Organize at the grass roots.
KNOCK ON EVERY DOOR – Canvass for progressive causes.
RUN FOR SOMETHING – Run for office yourself.
OPERATION 45 -- Work for transparency in the Trump/Pence administration.
MOVEMENT VOTER PROJECT – Find local progressive groups.
THE PUSSYHAT PROJECT – Fight for women’s rights.
MOVEMENT MATCH – Find the right group for you.
I’m heartsick, writing about Trump, though I’m sure it won’t be the last time I will. It’s dispiriting to think about him and what he and the GOP are doing to the country I love, but that’s what we’re stuck with.
I want to get back to finishing this draft of WHEN I GOT OUT, where I’m writing about, among other things, the rise of the Trump phenomenon.
JAMES MC MURTRY – “STATE OF THE UNION”