Plague Diary 28: The Great MAGA Virus

Does Trump Really Want to Kill Off His Supporters?

With the coronavirus rising again, especially in the Southern states that have formed the core of the president’s base, I seriously wonder if the Donald is trying to kill off his staunchest supporters? While eating lunch, I happened upon an article by Fintan O’Toole in the May 14, 2020 issue of the New York Review of Books entitled “Vector in Chief” from which this quote is excerpted:

We must bear in mind that Trump’s “real people,” the ones who make up his electoral base, are disproportionately prone to the chronic illnesses (“the underlying conditions”) that make Covid-19 more likely to prove fatal. A 2018 Massachusetts General Hospital study of more than three thousand counties in the US reported that

poor public health was significantly associated with the additional Republican presidential votes cast in 2016 over those from 2012. A substantial association was seen between poor health and a switch in political parties in the last [presidential] election.

For every marker of the prevalence of poor health (such as diabetes, obesity, days of illness, and mortality rates), there as a marked shift roward voting for Trump. Trump has acted in relation to Covid-19 like the God who tells the Jews to mark their homes with a sign so that the plague he is inflicting on Egypt will pass by their doors—with the malign twist that he has marked out his own chosen people for special harm.

How ironic! Following the example of their Great White Hope in the Whitest of White Houses, the voters attending his rallies in Tulsa and Phoenix are mostly not masked, and sneezing and coughing and shouting streams of coronavirus throughout the crowd. So far, Trump appears to be immune, but that is helped by the fact that he is a germaphobe who washes his hands incessantly with hand sanitizer.

The Last Refuge of the Scoundrel

American Flag Pin

Thanks to the current occupant of the White House, I am feeling less patriotic than ever. I have come to associate the ubiquitous flag pins that Republican politicians wear with the excesses of the Trump administration. As Dr. Samuel Johnson noted, “Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.” I don’t believe that for members of the older generation who have fought for our country, but for younger people, especially politicians, who use it to identify themselves as racists, white nationalists, saboteurs, and looters—in a word, Republicans. It is a symbol the course of being degraded beyond all recognition.

I am feeling out of touch with American voters. Can I trust them to actually love their country and send the Trump administration down to ignominious defeat? Not entirely, especially in certain parts of the country where politics is a form of resentment and regional hatred, especially against voters who live in large cities. It is the politics of Hooterville versus the politics of New York and California. (Though even New York and California have isolated pockets of atavistic tendencies.)

It has gotten to the point that I feel alienated from American politics, both Republicans and Democrats. (I now vote No Party Preference.) I don’t even classify myself as being Caucasian any more. As a Hungarian-American, I am Finno-Ugric, or “Other Race.” (Most of my rage is directed at White voters.)

I hope that this is only a phase I am going through until the politics of the United States returns to normal—that is, if it ever does.

Don’t Forget to Vote!

Fill Those Booths Tomorrow! No Excuses!

If you fail to vote tomorrow, I hope it’s because you are a Trump supporter. For anyone else—and that includes the majority of Americans—the man and his minions are a stench in the nostrils. If you fail to vote because you were (a) hung over, (b) busy playing computer games, (c) studying for an exam, or (d) turned off by politics … then you have no cause … ever again … for complaint. You have failed in your primary duty as a citizen. Your very right to vote is in question, as witness the Republican anti-democratic voter suppression in Kansas and Georgia.

I know you have heard a lot about this election, and you’ve probably been turned off by everything you’ve heard. So what! I’m the guy who ends calls from political volunteers with a few choice swear words and hangs up. I do not care to discuss my political choices with what might turn out to be corporate shills hired by the Koch brothers or other disruptive forces.

This “Prickly City” Cartoon by Scott Stantis Appeared in Today’s L.A. Times

Although I suspect he might be a Republican, I feel that cartoonist Scott Stantis is a Republican of the non-#$&!!@# variety. I have seen his thought evolve over the years to the extent that I cannot pass a day without reading his cartoons. Even if the characters in the above cartoon are right, and I suspect they are, there is too much of a danger of electing the Wrong nincompoops, like those Tea Party jerks who have caused so much damage to the country that I still love for all its wrong turns.

Vote. Be in charge. Stay in charge. And make the effort to stay in charge!

 

The Gang That Couldn’t Govern

Republican Stumblebums from the Senate and House (Except for the Kid: He’s Innocent)

As the U.S. Government heads for another disastrous shutdown, one is led to wonder at the utter uselessness of the officials we have chosen to represent us in Congress. Senator Mitch McConnell (Ratf*ck—Kentucky) and Congressman Paul Ryan (Ratf*ck—Pennsylvania) should be made to swallow their U.S. Flag pins and commit ritual hara kiri on the steps of Congress.

I really don’t like writing about American politics. Heck, I don’t even like discussing politics with my friends. I feel soiled when I do.

Even though there will be an election this November, I have diminishing faith in the American voters who selected the present clowns in office. They will either be re-elected or replaced with other clowns who are attracted to the ways of power. When that power serves only to disgust not only the American people, but our allies (if any are left), and embolden our enemies (the list is growing).

 

Going Independent

Goodbye, Donkey! Goodbye, Elephant!

This summer, I have re-registered to vote as an independent. Ever since I came to be of voting age, I have been a Democrat. For a while, I even tried to help out in a congressional election—my man lost—and even donated money to the party at various critical junctures. Of late, I did not particularly care for the leadership of the party. I did not like Debbie Wasserman Schultz. I do not like Tom Perez. And, as time passes, I do not care for the way Hillary Clinton screwed up her presidential campaign last year; and I am not altogether sure I would have liked it all that much had she won. Granted, she wouldn’t have been as bad as Trumpf. From her ivory tower, I think she has totally lost touch with the voters, a large percentage of whom hate her for various reasons—many of them trumped up by the Right.

My first presidential election was in 1968. I refused to vote for either the Democratic (Humphrey) or Republican (Nixon) candidate. Instead, I wrote in Otto Schlumpf, a Franciscan priest from Santa Barbara, for president and comedian Dick Gregory for vice president. Both were actively against the Viet Nam War, as was I.

Over the years, the Democrats have been wasting the many successes of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Lyndon Johnson came close when it came to domestic policy, but was a total washout in Viet Nam. He wisely withdrew when he realized how badly he had messed up. Too bad: He could have been one of the great ones. (But then Viet Nam made dunces out of a lot of otherwise smart politicians.)

I will probably still vote mostly Democrat, though no longer in the primaries. I don’t know what will happen to the Republican Party—nothing good, I hope—but I may conceivably vote Republican in some local elections, as I have done in the past, especially  when I voted for Schwarzenegger for governor of California against the Democrat Phil Angelides in 2006.

In time, I would like to see more than two major political parties in the U.S. And I don’t mean single-issue parties like the Libertarians and American Independents. The Democrats and Republicans will continue to morph over the next few years, most likely in a way that is unacceptable to me as a voter.

So now I’m an independent.

The Dumpster Fire Spreads

There’s a Lot of GOP Hotfoots in Washington Today

The Trumpf Administration (it’s actually funny to think of it as an “Administration”—more like a dumpster fire that just got out of control) is so ridiculously beleaguered that it’s almost funny. Except that it’s happening to each and every one of us. We escaped having a health program that would have demised several million Americans rather unceremoniously.

But there will be other chances, what with the other pending items on the GOP agenda. After today, though, I can’t see ol’ Turtleface McConnell smiling with any degree of sincerity.

And, as more Trumpf insiders become outsiders, I can see more embarrassing stories bedeviling the man from Mar-a-Lago. Such as the time the Presidente called in Reince Priebus to the Oval Office for the sole purpose of killing a fly.

It Started Small but Grew to Engulf a Whole Nation

It looks now as if Trumpf has enemies in both major political parties. Do you suppose that eventually, someone will develop the spine to remove this chucklehead from office?

The Six Lost Tribes of the Confederacy

Robert Reich, Dartmouth Class of 1966

Robert Reich, Dartmouth Class of 1966

I knew Robert Reich when we were in the same graduating class at Dartmouth College. I was the film critic for the school newspaper, and Robert was a cheerleader for the football team. He probably doesn’t remember me (there were 800 of us in that class), but I remember him. The important thing is that he has become a powerful voice for the direction that American politics should take.

What, exactly, does that mean as far as the GOP is concerned? According to Robert’s website, the Republican party has splintered into six not altogether compatible factions:

  1. “Evangelicals opposed to abortion, gay marriage, and science.” That would include Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, and Rick Santorum.
  2. “Libertarians opposed to any government constraint on private behavior.” That would be Rand Paul.
  3. “Market fundamentalists convinced the ‘free market’ can do no wrong.” Most of them pay lip service to this statement, though if Mike Bloomberg decided to run, this would be his mantra.
  4. “Corporate and Wall Street titans seeking bailouts, subsidies, special tax loopholes, and other forms of crony capitalism.” Enter Donald Trump.
  5. “Billionaires craving even more of the nation’s wealth than they already own.” Trump again, plus other candidates feeding from the billionaire-funded PACs.
  6. “And white working-class Trumpoids who love Donald. and are becoming convinced the greatest threats to their wellbeing are Muslims, blacks, and Mexicans.” Well, now, this one is pretty obvious.
This is Just One of the Faces of Today’s GOP

This is Just One of the Faces of Today’s GOP

You could take all the remaining candidates and map them by their emphasis on one of these six strains. What makes their races so difficult is that many of the candidates tend to lose their focus when they are split so many different ways.

 

 

Antinomians, Ranters and Republicans

We Are Reliving a Strange Period in English History

We Are Reliving a Strange Period in English History

The Seventeenth Century in England saw some strange happenings. Not only was King Charles I tried for treason and beheaded, but there was an outbreak of religious eccentricity that was at times chaotic and even lunatic. According to Christopher Hill in his book The World Turned Upside-Down: Radical Ideas During the English Revolution:

From, say, 1645 to 1653, there was a great overturning, questioning, revaluing, of everything in England. Old institutions, old beliefs, old values came in question. Men moved easily from one critical group to another, and a Quaker of the early 1650s had far more in common with a Leveller, a Digger or a Ranter than with a modern member of the Society of Friends.

Levellers? Diggers? Ranters? These were just some of the strange splinter groups that flourished during that time. There were also Fifth Monarchists, Seekers, Mechanic Preachers, Grindletonians, Millenarians, Familists, Brownists, and scores of other types of sectaries that were more or less disorganized, frequently localized (especially in the North of England). Some cherry-picked the Bible; others cast the Bible away as more or less a distraction.

What was common to all these groups was that they were antinomian. According to the Theopedia,

Antinomianism comes from the Greek meaning lawless. In Christian theology it is a pejorative term for the teaching that Christians are under no obligation to obey the laws of ethics or morality. Few, if any, would explicitly call themselves “antinomian,” hence, it is usually a charge leveled by one group against an opposing group.

Antinomianism may be viewed as the polar opposite of legalism, the notion that obedience to a code of religious law is necessary for salvation. In this sense, both antinomianism and legalism are considered errant extremes.

Ranter Document, Illustrating Free Love

Ranter Document, Illustrating Free Love

Essentially, antinomians believe that the law comes from inside their minds and hearts, not from any received set of beliefs. It does not matter what many or most people believe. Hill continues:

In the following April troopers in Suffolk were saying they would never disband ‘till we have cut all the priests’ throats.’ Three months earlier, when a group of Presbyterian ministers visited the New Model Army at Oxford, ‘the multitude of soldiers in a violent manner called upon us to prove our calling … whether those that are called ministers had any more authority to preach in public than private Christians which were gifted.’

All men and women, if they had the inner light, were their own prophets and preachers.

Now translate some of this behavior into our own time, with Truthers and Tea Partiers and climate change deniers. The U.S. House of Representatives has dozens of members who thing that whatever they believe is, ipso facto, true. Everything in the news, in magazines, on the Internet is in effect a giant conspiracy and that only they know what is true.

Of course, our own Ranters tend to be Conservative Republicans—though God knows what they are conserving.

In Amongst the Enemy

The Tomb of President Ronald Reagan

The Tomb of President Ronald Reagan

Today I was surrounded by hundreds of Republicans as I visited the library of their sanctified hero, Ronald Wilson Reagan, 40th President of the United States.

While he was Governor of California and President of the United States, I hated him with a white-hot heat. With hundreds of fellow UCLA students, I jeered him at an illegal screening of Bedtime for Bonzo (1951), in which the widely disliked Governor of California was paired with a chimpanzee.

But times have changed. Although I disagreed with him on a number of counts, especially the Iran-Contra affair and the sending of U.S. troops to be blown up by one of the first suicide bombers in Lebanon. And yet, I would prefer him to any of the Klown Kar GOP candidates for 2016. There was a certain intelligence and sincerity to him that I would now find refreshing. He could also whip them all in a debate with his hand (and tongue) tied behind his back.

The words on his tomb (above) read: “I know in my heart that man is good, that what is right will always eventually triumph, and there is purpose and worth to each and every life.” That’s not a bad line to be remembered by.

Curiously, Martine and I showed up at the Reagan Library on June 5, 2004, the day Mr. Reagan died. We were interviewed by the Press (though I never saw my interview on TV). At that time, I said I thought that, although I did not agree with many of his policies, I thought he was a superb communicator. I still stand by that opinion.

 

 

 

 

Totally Out of Whack

None of These Bozos Will Make It to the White House

None of These Bozos Will Make It to the White House

There are currently so many GOP candidates for the Presidency that they could not fit into any vehicle smaller than the trailer of an eighteen-wheeler. Frankly, I don’t think I can name them all from memory. All I know about them is that they tend to say a lot of stupid things, which the echo chamber of the press magnifies until it seems that there is only one political party: The Tea Party.

As for Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, no one really likes her. I don’t like her. Martine despises her. She is probably more competent to run our country than any of the Klown Kar Republicans. But she knows that everything she says will be drowned out by cries of Benghazi! E-mail! Foundation money! Why, I wouldn’t even be surprised if Faux News reveals that she had a torrid affair with Monica Lewinsky, and they probably have the dress to prove it!

Our political process has become so toxic that the only reason I vote is that I know that, if I didn’t, some Evangelical Jesus child molester will win. Gone is any Roman sense of duty. I will trudge down to the polling precinct by myself, thinking dark thoughts, while crowded church buses full of rednecks vote en masse.