If you missed Last Week Tonight with John Oliver on Sunday, his main story was on Drugs – well, that’s how it started, but then developed into Harm Reduction, which is basically accepting that people will take drugs, so what can be done to protect them so that they don’t actually die. It’s a very interesting report, filled with a lot of humor and thoughtful suggestion that, while good, all mostly boil down to, “Yes, I know this means you’ll let people take drugs rather than arrest them, but…come on, folks, at least they’ll live.”
Well, it only good 21 hours, but my Internet, phone and TV services are now finally back operating. Hopefully it will last.
As it turns out, although I had set my DVR to record a couple of TV shows yesterday, because there was no service, it couldn't record anything. But I did catch a replay of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver today, so all's well there.
The only other thing that didn't get recorded and so I missed entirely was last night's Oscar telecast. But I can see the results in the paper, and the show is usually pretty long and boring (which is why I set the DVR to fast-forward through all awards shows), so I'm sure I didn't miss anything...
As I mentioned the other day, the Weebly service that operates this website had a major meltdown and about three weeks of material disappeared from the site. Actually, it still exists, but you have to know the exact URL address to find it. There was one particular article, though, that I don't want lost -- and happily I do have the URL for it, so I tracked it down and am repeating it here.
Don’t let it be forgot
That once there was a spot
For one brief tarnished moment
That was known as Scamalot.
The Republican Party spins downward so fast these days, it’s difficult to keep track of past transgressions going back to when Trump ran for office and then took over the party. And so each travesty gets buried and then forgotten as the new pile of garbage gets dumped on top the old every day – even though in ordinary times such galling, often ghastly outrages would be the unforgettable headline for months and often actual scandals.
So, all this morass just covers up the other garbage, which gets pushed aside to make room for the latest.
The other day, I noted the official statement made by the Republican Party that the January 6 insurrection was supposedly nothing more than mere “Legitimate Political Discourse,” something so deeply defining of the GOP as fascist – yet even that has been shunted into the dusty corner as more new indignations take its place at the top of the pile.
I thought it would be valuable, therefore, to put together a list of just some of the Trump and Republican Party rubbish that has collected over the past few years – keeping in mind that anything “just Trump” has also been enabled and supported by his party. And these are only what I’m able to recall at the moment, others buried and lost in time. But the list isn’t final – I’m sure I’ll remember more and be reminded of others. And of course, there will be new GOP and Trump transgressions all the time.
But there’s another, equally-important reason for having this list – which I plan to re-post from time to time as it grows. Not just to be a reminder, but also as an easy page to bookmark as a defense against far right “But What About-ism.” That’s the GOP standby gambit when you’re in a conversation about the latest Trump/Republican high-end debacles, and the only response your Republican enthusiast can offer in return is to try to change the subject with “But what about…??!” – and then try something like “…when Barack Obama wore a tan suit after Labor Day?!!!” As if that was an equivalent, let alone remotely on topic. (Or worse, when they “But what about…” something that didn’t actually happen, like “…stole the election,” “bugged Trump,” “hacked White House computers,” “want to get rid of the 2nd Amendment,” “eat babies in the basement of a pizza restaurant.”) Or when all else fails, “…Hunter Biden!” Or “Hillary’s emails!!”
So, the next time I – or anyone – is in a debate and making factual, substantive arguments, and suddenly a “But what about…??!” gets thrown in to change the subject – now, whether the “But what about…??!” is an empty one, a non-existent one, or even a reasonable, single – but woefully off-topic – one, it will now be possible to say in return, “Ohhh, okay, so you want to play ‘But what about…??!”, do you? Fine. Here’s a list, here’s a link – so, then, what about ALL of this?!!! All of it. Answer that first, and then after we finish discussing this point we’re actually on, finally I will be happy to address your off-topic question.”
Until then, though…what about –
* * *
The Republican National Committee calls the January 6 insurrection attempt to overthrow the government “Legitimate Political Discourse.”
Trump calls murderous Russian dictator Vladmir Putin a “genius” as Russia invades democratic Ukraine.
Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo praises Putin, saying “He is a very talented statesman. He has lots of gifts” and “I have enormous respect for him – I’ve been criticized for saying that.”
Former Trump Attorney General William Barr writes a book that slams Democrats for “demonizing” brutal Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, while saying he looks forward to a “positive future” with the despot
On camera in Helsinki, Trump says he trusts Russian dictator Putin, leader of America’s top adversary, and says doesn’t trust all the U.S. intelligence services.
At the director of Trump’s campaign manager Paul Manafort, the Republican Party removed the plank from the party platform to provide military support for Ukraine in 2016. And kept it out of their party platform in 2020.
Trump tried to blackmail the president of Ukraine by not releasing money for Ukrainian defense that had been mandated by Congress, which got him impeached. For the first time.
Paul Manafort is convicted on eight felonies. Trump pardons him.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene addresses a white supremacist conference.
At the State of the Union Address, Rep. Lauren Boebert heckles the U.S. President talking about his dead child who served in Iraq.
Fox “News” claiming that DOJ lawyer John Durham exposed Hillary Clinton’s hacking crimes only to have Durham himself explain that he wrote no such thing about her.
Both Democratic and Republican state senators in Arizona vote to censure Republican Sen. Wendy Rogers after she made “violent and discriminatory comments” at a white supremacist conference and also attack Ukraine President Zelensky on social media.
Trump makes a deal with the Afghanistan Taliban to return the country to them by a specific date – after he’s out of office – with not concessions in return from the Talibon.
Trump Secretary of State Mike Pompeo poses for a celebratory photo with the co-founder of the Taliban.
Trump cited for 16,000+ documented lies.
Trump calls Mexicans “drug dealers, criminals, rapists” and that “You wouldn’t believe how bad these people are. These aren’t people, these are animals.”
Trump caught on tape laughing about grabbing women by the "p*ssy.”
Trump publicly asks Russia to hack computers in order to find his election opponent’s emails.
Trump pulls the United States out of the Paris Accord, the only country in the entire world not to support the environmental protections to help save the planet.
Trumped pulls the United States out of the nuclear sanctions against Iran – which soon after was cited for restarting its nuclear program.
Trump calls third-world countries “sh*t holes.”
Trump calls the press “the enemy of the people.
Trump and Chief of Staff John Kelly caught on video joking about using a ceremonial sword to kill journalists.
Chef of Staff John Kelly publicly slams black Democratic Rep. Frederica Wilson for taking credit for getting federal funds to build the FBI field office in Florida – and when video of the event surfaces and shows Kelly to be completely wrong, he never apologizes.
Rep. Paul Gosar puts out a cartoon video that has him portrayed as an anime-hero killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez with a sword and attacking President Biden with a sword.
Trump slams Federal Judge Gonzalo Curiel for being “Mexican” – even though the judge was born in Indiana (not that that should matter).
Trump relentlessly promises to not only build a Wall, but also keeps promising that he will get Mexico to pay for it, adding “Trust me.”
The Trump administration separates children from their family who enter the country illegally and put the children in cages, a policy supported by Republicans in Congress.
Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) tells his supporters that they should raise their sons to “grow up to be monsters.”
Trump said that the neo-Nazis had some “very fine people.”
Trump told white supremacist groups to “stand by.”
Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) tweets about the United States that “We are not a democracy.”
The Trump administration ignored all advice by the Obama Transition Team, who counseled them on pandemics – including given them an extensive playbook manual and left storage of medical supplies, both of which the Trump people said didn’t exist.
Trump closed the Pandemic Response Unit in 2018, before the pandemic hit.
Trump cut $8.5 BILLION from CDC budget, before the pandemic hit.
Trump fired the CDC expert in China in July, 2019, before the pandemic hit.
When asked about his responsibility in the spread of the coronavirus, Trump – who was in charge of everything -- said, "I take no responsibility at all."
Trump said the coronavirus will just “go away like a miracle.”
Trump said the coronavirus was just like the flu.
Trump said that children couldn’t get COVID-19.
Trump suggests that drinking bleach and hydroxychloroquine and using deadly UV rays could kill the coronavirus.
Again, just as a reminder, all of these issues with Trump were met with near-unanimous silence by the Republican Party, with no push back or even just disagreement, thereby enabling him and those positions.
The Republican Party gets “outraged” when a publisher makes a business decision to drop six, very old books from its catalog written by Dr. Seuss that haven’t sold much in decades and have some parts in them that they felt are problematic today.
The Republican Party gets “outraged” when the maker of the Mr. Potato Head and Mrs. Potato Head toys decides to package them together to save money.
The Republican Party gets “outraged” when they claim Disney has censored The Muppets, though in reality they just moved a few episodes behind a pay wall, and all the episodes are available.
Trump said he’d have a beautiful” health care plan in 2016. Over four years, he kept saying he’d have a “beautiful” health care plan, very soon, so beautiful you wouldn’t believe it. He never released any health care plan.
Trump says he brutal, murderous despot Kim Jong-un of North Korea “wrote me beautiful letters, and we fell in love.”
Trump said he and brutal Chinese dictator Xi Jinping have a “great relationship,” and “We love each other” and shared “the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake.”
Trump praised Philippine despot Duterte who has compared himself to Hitler, bragged about personally executing criminals, and whose bloody war on drugs has killed 7,000 people – condoning him with an invitation to the White House.
Trump invited Egyptian dictator el-Sisi who seized power in a coup that killed over 800 protestors in one day – and invited him to the White House.
Trump says the hated and brutal Turkish autocrat Erdogan is “a good man,” “a friend,” and “a hell of a leader,” someone who is “highly respected” around the world.
Trump abandoned our Kurdish allies, who were holding 11,000 ISIS prisoners, by removing troops from the Syrian border with Turkey, letting Erdogan’s army invade, ISIS prisoners to escape, hundreds killed, and creating 130,000 Kurdish refugees, dismissing bipartisan criticism as “It’s not our border” and "If Turkey goes into Syria, that’s between Turkey and Syria” – quotes to remember the next time he tries to claim he’d have stood up to Putin invading Ukraine.
White House senior advisor and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner supported a Saudi blockade of U.S. ally Qatar while trying to get a personal $1.8 billion loan from Qatar for his family business.
Jared Kusher advised his friend Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman after reports surfaced that American resident journalist Jamal Khashoggi had been murdered and dismembered on orders from bin Salman.
Rep. Lauren Bobert says the United States should liberate Canada.
Trump said he said he wasn’t allowed release his taxes (like every single president has done since Richard Nixon first did half a century earlier) because he was under audit – of which there was no evidence, but would have been perfectly legal and allowed even if he was), but kept saying he would release them. He never released his taxes – though did sue in court to keep them from being released, but lost.
The Republican Party voted unanimously against emergency relief to Americans that polls showed 75% of the country wanted. Democrats passed the bill.
Trump said there were airports in the Revolutionary War.
There was a great deal of controversy over the weekend – mostly from Republicans, though some from Democrats, as well – about President Biden supposedly calling for “regime change” in Russia.
For starters, the president did not say that. His nine words were – “For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power.”
For perspective's sake, over the past year so many on the far right here in the United States have been crying out about Joe Biden being president, and how the results were supposedly fixed, stolen, cheated, and that he’s not a legitimate president, and the election should be nullified, and Trump should be returned to the White House, and Democrats should be arrested and in prison. By those standards, “For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power” seems pretty benign by comparison.
There's not a word in what President Biden said about the regime ruling Russia. A regime, after all, is -- by the dictionary -- "The organization that is the governing authority of a political unit." When we refer to "regime change," it usually implies a coup of sorts, not merely that a country has changed its leader. After all, every democracy changes leadership regularly, but we don't call that Regime Change, which has a far more visceral meaning. What President Biden said is that the individual in charge of the current Russian government should be different. It could be the same government, the same "regime," just a different person at the top.
Yes, I understand that saying that about a foreign leader rather than demanding the leaders of your own country be nullified and thrown in jail is different. But even still, “This man cannot remain in power” is not “calling for regime change” and is still fairly benign. If Putin was removed from power, it could conceivably be “regime change,” but it more likely would be a different leader from the same “party.” It’s not like a dictator would be replaced by a benign democratic regime.
But that aside, there’s a question I wish reporters would ask all Republicans who have been slamming President Biden for saying, "For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power."
And that’s, “For all your criticism of what the president said -- do you agree with him?”
This is a separate question from “Should he have said it out loud?” It would just be good to find out exactly if their complaint is that they believe Vladimir Putin should remain in power, and that’s why they think it was wrong what President Biden said. If they don’t disagree with that, then we should get them on record that they support his sentiment, just not how he stated it.
Whether or not the president should have used those exact words is a separate issue. For instance, he could have phrased it, “This is not the leadership that I’m sure most Russians want, as we’ve seen by the 14,000 protestors who’ve already been arrested knowing that they could get sent to prison for 10 years, and so I hope Mr. Putin does the responsible thing and steps aside, handing over power to someone else in his party.” The meaning is the same, the semantics are different.
And yes, semantics do matter in world diplomacy. But then, if we’re going to focus on semantics being the issue (which is an understandable concern), then we should also be clear that as far as semantics go, Joe Biden did not call for “regime change,” like most of the outcry is saying.
And so, the question remains, for all those people complaining about what President said, hether or not he should have used those exact words -- do you agree the sentiment of what he said?
For that matter, another question for all criticizing President Biden bringing up Putin staying in power (whether or not he should have said that), they should be asked where was their equal criticism of Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham when he repeatedly went much further than the president and called for Putin to be -- not just removed from power but -- actually assassinated?!!
I would suggest that what Sen. Graham said was far, far worse. And yes, he’s not the President of the United States. But he’s a United States senator, and a leading voice in his party, the former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. I believe it’s fair to think that Vladimir Putin, indeed most of Russia, in fact most of the rest of the world would think that a U.S. senator calling repeatedly for the assassination of a foreign leader – without his own party even criticizing him – means the Republican Party supports this view. A view that’s reprehensible. Far beyond even “regime change,” but assassination. And dangerous for what it could bring in return.
I’ve also seen the position stated that even though President Biden was not calling for “regime change,” but saying something reasonable, Vladimir Putin will likely misinterpret this, and therefore this is why it’s another Joe Biden gaffe.
So, let’s see, because Putin will likely misinterpret what President Biden said, it's President Biden's "gaffe"? Not Putin’s??
But all that aside, Vladmir Putin likely thinks his own ministers want him removed. And by “removed,” that pretty much means “killed.” We’ve seen him at his massively long table sitting alone. We’ve read about how he’s very protected by his very small inner-circle. The other day, I heard a former Russian minister say killing the leader is a long-tradition in Russia, that in Russia it’s safer to stage a coup to kill the leader than criticize him. I feel pretty certain that there is little doubt Putin has already thought this of Biden. And of most other world leaders.
But then, if one is criticizing President Biden because Putin will likely misinterpret what he said, how do you think Putin correctly interpreted Sen. Lindsey Graham repeatedly saying he should be assassinated?!
I agree that what President Biden said was not the best phrasing. But I also know that he was not saying what he’s been criticized for and did not call for “regime change,” but instead said something out loud what most Americans are likely thinking – and is reasonable. That they think Vladimir Putin is a butcher and a danger to the world and should not remain in power.
From the archives. This week's contest is Christina Stone of Houston, Texas. The hidden song is pretty clear, but as much as could tell I should know it, I just didn't guess it. And yes, I knew it, and should have gotten it. But I did at least get the composer style.
Sorry, Spectrum has had a very long outage, and my Internet service, TV service and phone service have been down for eight hours so far. I finally got around to connecting via a mobile hotspot with my mobile phone's T-mobile, so I'll at least be able to post something here belatedly.
And yes, this means the TV is out during the Oscars telecast. The good news is that I don't tend to watch awards shows live and record them, to fast-forward through later. But still... When I called Spectrum around 8 PM (the telecast began at 5:30 PM here), I mentioned to the customer service rep that the area with the outage was West Los Angeles, which is the home to many in the Motion Picture Academy. With a sigh, she said, "Oh, I knowwww..."
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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