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Category: Politics

Hard Truth
The harder
It is
To know
What is true

The more
That it matters
We are sure
That we do
Quit While You’re Ahead
Congressional Republicans are in a tricky position. They sat down at the poker table this election year and drew to an inside straight. The voters have dealt them an unbeatable hand of absolute one-party control of our government. But that lucky draw came in the form of the The Joker — an erratic, unpredictable, amoral opportunist who could either conspire with them in their grand plans or blow those plans to smithereens. They could rake in a political bonanza…or just as easily end up in the dustbin of history. It all depends on that wild card in the White House.

Of course, they could still fold their hand anytime they want to and go home a winner. If their agenda of fantasy-based policies of economics and social justice is ever truly threatened by Cirque de Drump, they are capable of ending this sorry presidency in a D.C. minute. All the evidence for a successful impeachment and removal is right there, ready and waiting. No need to pile on over Russia; that path is too risky anyway. The smart move would be to plug in to the Emoluments Clause. We’re only a hundred days in, and he’s already violated it many times over.

The votes would certainly be there. Every Republican member of Congress secretly detests Drump and pines for a President Pence. Pence is one of theirs: pious, plastic, and phony as a three-dollar bill. And most of all, he’s pliable. I think at least half of the GOP caucus, given the opportunity, would be ready to pull the ripcord on impeachment. As for Democrats, my guess is they will provide 100% buy-in no matter what the legal rationale.

To dump Drump, however, the GOP will also need a good cover story to spin for his faithful followers. Based on the history of this voting bloc, the story does not have to be true or even rational. A simple appeal to fear or hatred should do the trick.

There are a number of approaches that could work, and all of them require outright lying. As I have indicated, that will not be a problem. I am not endorsing any of these suggestions, mind you, but rather presenting them to the Republican Party to use as it sees fit:

1. Declare that Drump is black, and that he was born in Africa. It worked before, why not now? The fact that he appears to be white only makes his charade more insidious and frightening.

2. Label him as a female/latino/muslim/LGBTQ or some other Other. This story would not be as sure-fire as the claim of blackness, but it still represents a proven strategy. Note that claiming he is a black, female, latino muslim who is also L, G, B, T, or Q would have the highest chance of success. Ironically, the fact that such a claim would be patently ridiculous would also make it the most credible to the target group. Not sure why that is, but the record is clear.

3. Accuse him of being in league with any or all of these groups or of being genuinely concerned about their issues. A traitor, in other words, to people like you and me. Or at least like me; I’m not too sure about you.

For the record, claiming that Drump is in league with Putin — even though the ex-KGB assassin is a proven enemy of our country and a threat to our way of life — will not work. Also ineffective: proving that Drump’s policies would hurt the target group, that he is ripping off the country for millions, that he is dangerously incompetent, or that he actively despises members of the target group. All true, of course, but that’s irrelevant.

My only advice for the Grand Old Partiers is not to wait too long. Quit while you’re ahead. You’ve already got your Supreme Court justice; I suggest you slam through a fat tax cut, take away a few life-sustaining programs from the poor, and call it good. Cash out your winnings and put an end to the whole ugly spectacle. If you don’t, if you get greedy, this pile of garbage might just spontaneously combust and burn your sorry-ass party to the ground. The sooner you pull that ripcord, the better off we’ll all be.
Right This Down
Chuck Jones, president of United Steelworkers’ local 1999, pointed out a while back that then president-elect Drump had made some rather large factual errors in his crowing over “saving” jobs at a Carrier air conditioner plant in Indiana. Chuck’s reward for fact-checking: a stream of petty vitriol from the future commander-in-chief and an exudation of dark warnings — let’s call them death threats — from anonymous online sources. I’m going to assume that the authors of those taunts are not advocates of universal health care or religious tolerance.

A month later, while the Electoral College was still in session, I read that a Republican elector who had declared his intention not to vote for Drump had been receiving threats against his own life and rape threats aimed at his wife and daughters. From a Black Lives Matter supporter? I don’t think so.

And then, of course, we have the more recent tipping over of Jewish gravestones, the burning of mosques, the murder of that Indian man in Kansas City, and the daily serving of hate and violence against The Other that fills our plate every morning. The right, right?

Come to think of it, when was the last time we heard of a threat of violence coming from the left? (Other than in a report from some nutty right-wing conspiracy source, that is?) I will select “never” as my answer, though I’m sure there are instances of Great Spotted Owl defenders turning murderous.

I guess some might classify anarchists as lefties. I can’t buy that, though. Steve Bannon is a bit of an anarchist, but I’ll wager doesn’t belong to MoveOn.org. Anarchists reside in a dark netherworld where left and right overlap. Cop-killers live there too, and predicting their politics is also a hopeless quest.

I’m not sure where this line of inquiry is leading me, but my aim is to follow my own (admittedly hazy) notions of evil and how it correlates to one’s position on the political spectrum. I have no solid conclusions as yet, but my working hypothesis is that Satan (if he existed) would be a Republican.

Still, we don’t want to paint with too broad of a brush here. I do know some fine, honorable, decent, loving, strong people with exquisitely beautiful auras who vote GOP. So I could be wrong in this, and I don’t want to be accused of getting ahead of the (up to this point) overwhelming evidence. While I’m waiting for absolute certainty on that front, I’m also working on another research project. This time the focus is on mass murderers.

All righties? Just asking, mind you, but the data I’ve seen so far is quite compelling.
Signs of the Times
I was in full solidarity with those protesters I saw the other day. They were out picketing a local appearance by Republican congressman Devin Nunes, chair of the House Intelligence Committee. Mr. Nunes says there is no reason for him to investigate Russian interference in our election or of their ties to our new president. He’s all over that Obama wiretap, though.

I regret not being one of those protesters. I need to be out there, because it’s important to take responsibility for what you believe in. I’m not talking here about the case against Devin Nunes (who is considered by many to be either a craven weasel or a loathsome parasite), but rather about an issue absolutely fundamental to our shared mission of resistance.

I’m talking about signs. Many of the picketers were brandishing them at the protest, and I confess that I was not impressed by the overall quality. Now, I want to be careful here. These protesters are my brothers and sisters in the cause. We share the same outrage, and we are ready to take action — including effective messaging.

My compatriots certainly had some things to say. There was one sign at the event that read, “Nunes, U.S. Intelligence Needs To Investigate Trump-Russian Connection.” I have no quarrel here with the signholder’s message. In fact, it precisely states why all those people were out there in the first place. But I am reminded of that old philosophical question. You know the one: “If a sign falls in the forest and nobody can read it, did it really have a point?” Maybe the holder’s fellow protesters could read the sign, but I don’t think they were the target audience. Anyone driving by would have to have been Evelyn Wood herself to take that all in. The only reason I saw it was that a photo of it appeared in the newspaper the next day. I am sure that Nunes, to whom the sign was addressed, could not have read it. The message, then, was never received.

We need terse, punchy signage if we want that to happen. Something that will pierce defenses and get through. Words of one syllable and not too many of them. Lettered clearly in a large, thick font. Black on a white background. These are the basics, people. If you have something to say with your sign, this is how it needs to be done if you want your message to be received. Beware of deviations from this model. If you want to use pictures, that‘s fine, but make sure they’re readable at a glance. Forgive my bluntness, but bluntness is what is needed. Especially on a sign.

“Do Your Job” is a recent good example. It’s punchy, and it carries several clear messages: we’re watching, we’re your boss, you’re not doing your job, we’ll fire your ass if you don’t. It does assume that the audience (the elected official) knows which particular job is being talked about, but that is a fair assumption in this case.

“Fuck Trump” has a nice clear message and it’s certainly punchy, but using the word fuck can turn off potential converts to whatever fucking philosophy you’re pushing. “This Shit Is Fucked,” however, is acceptable because it’s funny. “Electile Dysfunction” is also funny, but “We Shall Overcomb”… sorry, but no. “Free Melania” is somewhat amusing but rhetorically insubstantial. “Queef on Him,” even though it will send some people running to the Dictionary of Slang, qualifies nicely. When it comes to humor, we are walking a fine line, so be careful out there.

“Resist + Persist” connects to current terminology and actually tells a little story as well. Plus, it rhymes. “Dump Trump” is another good rhymer, as is “Hate Ain’t Great.” Of course, not every sign can or should have the same message. I don’t claim to have a recommendation for every righteous grievance. That’s your job.

I know it’s not easy, believe me. Making a good protest sign is like drawing a good political cartoon: it has to cut through the haze and get to the heart of the matter. I’ve been trying to come up with something for my own sign, and it’s been a challenge. “No One Is Above The Law” states my case, but it’s just too dry. A good sign needs passion or else what’s the point? I want to tell that gecko Nunes that the Constitution is more important than politics or policy or party or presidents. That’s a tall order in four or five words, especially when it also needs some flesh and blood on it. And maybe even some hair.

“Prune The Executive Branch”? “Impeach The Tangerine”? “We’ve Lost The Founders”?

I don’t know; none of those sound that great. Too cute perhaps. How about something more in-your-face? “Bite My Emolument”? “Tweet This”? Or better yet, go full tilt aggression with “Crush Orange!” or “Why Orange You In Jail?”

Too much? Maybe, but in times like these, even too much may not be enough.
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No "new normal" for me, this shit ain't normal.
~ MS, Truckee