Are Democrats Going to Get Their Act Together or What?

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Back when my kids were little and I was always schlepping them hither and yon, they’d squabble in the back seat at ever-increasing decibels until I would inevitably unleash my most fervent Dad-ism:

“I don’t care who started it, just knock it off!”

Well, Dad is even more pissed these days at the House and Senate Democrats. Do they somehow not understand that failing to enact President Biden’s sweeping infrastructure and social spending packages – at least in some form, with wise compromises – would be tantamount to political suicide? That their voters will dismiss them as do-nothings and stay home in droves during the 2022 midterm elections, to the delight of the galvanized MAGA hordes?

I don’t care which faction – the “centrists” or the “progressives” – has the better grievances. Just knock it off.

The centrists think the $3.5-trillion social reform price tag is too big? Well, guess what: That money would be spent over a period of 10 years, and it totals roughly 1.2 percent of the economy.

The progressives don’t want to compromise by perhaps shaving that price tag a bit? Well, guess what: The facts of life on Capitol Hill require compromise, because the Democratic majorities are thinner than dental floss and, given the unified Republican opposition, nothing will pass unless virtually every Democrat of blue and purple hue is brought on board.

That’s because Biden, despite his solid victor, had no coattails. The Democrats lost 12 House seats, and eked out a no-wiggle-room Senate majority only because Stacey Abrams ginned up grassroots turnout in Georgia.

This is not the New Deal or Great Society era, when Democrats had power in numbers. In the words of commentator Jeff Greenfield (a former Democratic operative), our current era requires “an honest embrace of what the politics of the moment will accept. It recognizes the wisdom of Ronald Reagan’s aphorism that ‘my 80 percent friend is not my 20 percent enemy.’ It argues for the kind of result that gives Democrats the only reasonable chance to wage a midterm fight where they will be weighed down by Republican perfidy in gerrymandering and voter restrictions…Without visible evidence of the Democrats’ core (agenda) – without (universal) pre-K, some form of expanded health care, some steps toward a fairer tax system – Democrats will go into next year with one or both hands tied behind their back.”

Or, as House Democrat Jim McGovern, chairman of the Rules Committee, reportedly said the other day, “If we can’t deliver on this, God help us in the next election.”

Biden staked his candidacy on the promise of leveraging his Washington experience in order to get things done – most notably, things that are long overdue (lowering prescription drug prices, expanding child tax credits, fighting climate change, repairing roads, broadening Medicare to cover dental, vision, and hearing, and much more), but it won’t help his case, or the party’s, if the squabbling rank and file makes our legislative process even more dysfunctional than it already is. If the party of government can’t prove that it can govern – and this particular week is crucial, with a looming Sept. 30 deadline to avoid a federal shutdown – then what’s the remaining alternative? The cult that doesn’t give two figs about governing?

On policy, in fact, Democrats have public opinion on their side. A recent national poll found landslide support for Biden’s infrastructure bill (65 percent yes, 28 percent no), and landslide support for the $3.5-trillion social reform package (62 percent yes, 32 percent no).

In a sense, they’ve already won the argument.

The only road forward is to deliver something substantive, even if it falls short of the most sweeping ambitions. That way Democrats can go to the voters in 2022 and say, with empirical proof, that “we’re making a positive difference in your lives, and the Republicans opposed every single thing.”

That’s a whole lot more palatable than blowing their best opportunity in years to fix so much of what’s broken. All of them surely must realize that with democracy itself now hanging in the balance, failing to deliver is not an option.

Copyright 2021 Dick Polman, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Dick Polman, a veteran national political columnist based in Philadelphia and a Writer in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania, writes at DickPolman.net. Email him at [email protected]

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Wise Words From George W. Bush That Republicans Will Ignore

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What a shame that so many prominent figures summon the moxie to speak the truth when it’s too late to do anything about it.

So it went the other day when George W. Bush used his 9/11 anniversary address to rightly denounce Trump’s insurrectionists as the domestic equivalent of foreign jihadists.

“(W)e have seen growing evidence that the dangers to our country can come not only across borders but from violence that gathers within,” Bush said at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Pennsylvania. “There’s little cultural overlap between violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home. But in their disdain for pluralism, in their disregard of human life, in their determination to defile national symbols, they are children of the same foul spirit, and it is our continuing duty to confront them.”

Dubya got that right. In the two decades since 9/11, more Americans have been killed by right-wing domestic terrorists than by swarthy foreigners with purportedly funny names. Looking ahead, our top law enforcement officials have identified white supremacists as the biggest threat of all. Indeed, Bush said in an interview six months ago that the children of foul spirit who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 made him “sick to his stomach.”

But alas, Bush’s wise words this past weekend won’t amount to a hill of beans in his crazy party, because it left him behind years ago.

I’m not here to whitewash Bush’s track record – he and his henchmen relentlessly stoked polarization after 9/11, equating dissent with aiding the terrorists (in 2002 they even said that Democratic Sen. Max Cleland, a vet who left his limbs in ‘Nam, was somehow a stooge for Osama bin Laden) – but by the GOP’s current standards, Bush was a Mother Theresa who welcomed immigrants of color to these shores. Plus, he warned way back in 2005 that “If we wait for a pandemic to appear, it will be too late for prepare,” which is the reverse of today’s death cult party, which seems bent on killing as many people as possible.

Republicans have lost the popular vote in seven of the last eight presidential elections – with the sole exception of Bush in 2004. So it would be nice if Republicans and rabid rightists heeded his call to “confront” home-grown terrorists, to view it as their “duty.”

The problem is, Republicans tore down the House of Bush in 2016 when Trump terminated Jeb with extreme prejudice. Old-school “establishment” conservatism was push out of the party, replaced by populist demagoguery and Putin groupie worship. It has only metastasized since.

If George W. had stepped up in 2016 to save his party from MAGA insanity, perhaps he could’ve helped stem the toxic tide, but we’ll never know. Bush, whatever his many flaws, is at least a gentleman, but in the current iteration of the GOP, there’s no room for gentlemen. As the latest national poll points out, 63 percent of Republicans still believe that Trump should be the party’s leader.

So kudos to Bush for calling out Trump’s goons as terrorists who defile democracy, but at this point Trump’s cultists don’t care a whit about democracy. They’re already poised to dismiss all future Democratic victories as “election fraud,” starting with a Gavin Newsom victory in Tuesday’s California gubernatorial recall.

They’ve also been eviscerating Bush. A spokesman for radio host Alex Jones wrote, “Bush is part of the same globalist coven that supports BLM and Antifa…I don’t liken myself to extremists abroad but if Bush’s definition of ‘a child of foul spirit’ is someone who hates collectivism and refuses to get vaccinated, then yes, I am proudly a ‘child of foul spirit.’”

Refuses to get vaccinated…Don’t get me started.

Texas-based radio host Jesse Kelly was a tad more scatalogical: “George Bush has been a skid mark on this nation for some time. And remains so.”

When you look at what’s happened to the conservative movement, Bush now seems as antiquated as a videocassette recorder. Indeed, when he confidently predicted back in March that Trumpism would “begin to fritter over time,” and that he’s “optimistic about democracy,” I suspected that history had already erased the tape.

Copyright 2021 Dick Polman, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Dick Polman, a veteran national political columnist based in Philadelphia and a Writer in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania, writes at DickPolman.net. Email him at [email protected]

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To Control Women’s Bodies, Texas Empowers Bounty Hunters

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We interrupt our regular programming of the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan to bring you this bulletin about the Taliban takeover in Texas.

It’s horrific that Texas, assisted by five Republican appointees to the U.S. Supreme Court, has been unleashed to essentially overturn Roe v. Wade, to decree that abortions are illegal after only six weeks of pregnancy. When many women don’t even know they’re pregnant. With no exceptions for rape or incest.

But what’s arguably most chilling – and expect this particular infection to spread to other red states – is the provision that deputizes citizen vigilantes to enforce the ban and turn neighbor against neighbor.

Welcome to the thugocracy.

We’re already seeing it with the anti-mask mobs that are terrorizing school board members, compelling them to quit. We’re already seeing it on the streets with the “stolen election” goons who use their fists to buttress the big lie. And now, we have a “law” that codifies vigilante justice.

Am I exaggerating? Read on:

Any citizen anywhere is now hereby empowered to sue any “abettor” of any abortion that’s performed after six weeks of pregnancy. An “abettor” is defined as anyone who assists in any way – including a husband, boyfriend, mother, father, sister, clergy person, rape crisis counselor, friend who drives a woman to a clinic, friend who provides financial assistance, or certainly anyone at the clinic – doctor, nurse, desk receptionist. Any or all of those people can now be sued in any Texas court, and the bounty hunter will earn $10,000 per abortion.

It’s a veritable Taliban Lottery. Or the Salem Witch Hunt 2.0.

To help make it happen, the group Texas Right to Life is creating a “whistleblower” website where tipsters can inform on neighbors and other conspirators whom they suspect might be engaged in the criminal act of protecting female bodily autonomy.

You might be thinking, “Come on, this must be unconstitutional. The law of the land, as established by the Supreme Court in Roe and other cases, says that states can’t summarily ban abortions that are performed during the first 22-24 weeks of pregnancy.” But ah, you’re overlooking the Texas Republicans’ dark genius. They came up with some very clever wording. State officials are not responsible for enforcing this abortion ban (roughly 85 percent of Texas women who seek abortions are pregnant for more than six weeks), so they can’t be enjoined from enforcing it. Instead, the prospective bounty hunters are responsible for enforcement – but none of them have sued anyone yet. Therefore, the Texas ban can’t be challenged in court until an actual “abettor” is named, an “abettor” who’s willing to challenge it.

That logic might sound a tad twisted, something reminiscent of Joseph Heller’s Catch-22, but it was predictably good enough for Trump’s three high court appointees, plus Clarence Thomas and Sam Alito. They decided that thug justice should not be impeded, at least until we see how things work out.

Fred Wellman, a 22-year military vet and current advisor to The Lincoln Project, can perhaps be excused for thinking the worst. He tweeted, “If you don’t see the inherent fascism in a law that allows anyone to accuse another citizen of an act for a $10,000 reward, whether they did it or not, you are absolutely deluded. This is a law that will turn Texas into Iraq under Saddam. Citizens turning each other in. It’s sick.”

Now that the high court has allowed Roe to be overturned via the proverbial back door, how long will it take for thug power to be codified in other red states? This day of reckoning has been a long time coming – with a big assist, along the way, from feckless Democrats who’ve never prioritized the composition of the Supreme Court as a first-tier issue and who’ve long been out-maneuvered by Republicans in state legislative races virtually everywhere.

Now we’re getting the usual calls for Democrats and progressives (stuck, as always, in reactive mode) to “mobilize,” to “rise up” against the burgeoning oppressors. Unless or until they can turn the tide, we have to ask whether it’s already too late, whether in fact we’re already on the road to a patchwork red state/blue state country, where bounty hunters cash in on the pregnant women who lack the money and means to cross a border.

I shudder to think what it might be like for them to live in a place where “my body, my choice” pertains only to the refusal to vaccinate.

Copyright 2021 Dick Polman, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Dick Polman, a veteran national political columnist based in Philadelphia and a Writer in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania, writes at DickPolman.net. Email him at [email protected]

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A Powerful Pummeling of Trump’s Hack MAGA Lawyers

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The Shakespeare character in Henry IV who said “Let’s kill all the lawyers” was clearly a tad over the top. It’s far more humane to single out the MAGA “lawyers” and humiliate them to within an inch of their lives.

What happened Wednesday, in federal court, was almost enough to rekindle one’s faith in the system. Thank goodness that the judiciary is still one place where facts matter and fascist-enabling liars get stomped. Rudy Giuliani’s law license has been suspended, as you may know, but he’s not the only one in trouble.

Check out these tart tidbits from U.S. District Judge Linda Parker, who was highly displeased that Sidney Powell, Lin Wood, and eight other Trump hacks claimed in court without a shred of actual evidence that Joe Biden’s victory in Michigan was marred by (non-existent) election fraud:

The Trumpists acted in “bad faith and improper purpose…Once it appeared that their preferred political candidate’s grasp on the presidency was slipping away, (they) helped mold the predetermined narrative about election fraud by lodging this federal lawsuit based on evidence that they actively refused to investigate or question with the requisite level of professional skepticism… (Their) politically motivated accusations, allegations, and gamesmanship may be protected by the First Amendment when posted on Twitter, shared on Instagram, or repeated on television. The nation’s courts, however, are reserved for hearing legitimate causes of action.”

Stay with me here. It gets even better:

“(A)ttorneys take an oath to uphold and honor our legal system… despite the haze of confusion, commotion, and chaos counsel intentionally attempted to create by filing this lawsuit, one thing is perfectly clear: (Powell et al) have scorned their oath, flouted the rules, and attempted to undermine the integrity of the judiciary along the way.”

Sanctions? Did she say something about sanctions?

“Sanctions are required to deter the filing of future frivolous lawsuits designed primarily to spread the narrative that our election processes are rigged and our democratic institutions cannot be trusted.”

OK then. Do tell!

“The conduct of (Powell et al), which also constituted violations of the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct, calls into question their fitness to practice law. This warrants a referral for investigation and possible suspension or disbarment to the appropriate disciplinary authority for every state bar and federal court in which each attorney is admitted.”

How sweet it is. And that’s not all. The MAGA “legal” team was ordered to financially reimburse the state of Michigan and city of Detroit for the resources they were compelled to spend on their own defense. Because the judge said that if the MAGA team was not ordered to reimburse, it “will not be deterred from continuing to abuse the judicial system to publicize their narrative” about (non-existent) election fraud.

And there’s another sanction. This one is priceless. Powell and her compadres were ordered to attend at least 12 hours of “continuing legal education” – sort of a law-school tuneup, to acquaint them with the realities of election law and the proper filings of lawsuits. Because apparently they didn’t know that legal rules prohibit lawyers from clogging the courts with frivolous and unsubstantiated crap.

The federal ruling in Michigan is part of a broader pattern of comeuppance. We should feel good about that. MAGA hacks are being called to account hither and yon for their destructive attempts to use the courts to undermine democracy.

Earlier this month in Colorado, a federal judge ordered two Trumpists to pay the legal fees of all the individuals and companies they’d sued in pursuit of a bogus election fraud case. The judge wrote: “This was no slip-and-fall at the local grocery store. Albeit disorganized and fantastical, (the two lawyers’) allegations…are the stuff of which violent insurrections are made.”

Also this month, another federal judge (a Trump appointee, no less) ruled that Dominion Voting Systems – which is suing Powell and Rudy Giuliani (plus the pillow guy) for defamation – can indeed proceed. Singling out Powell, the judge said “there is no blanket immunity” for lying in court, for making “verifiably false” statements about the voting firm. Indeed, said the judge, “This is not a close call.”

Powell and her fellow conspirators have also been hit with a sanctions request in Wisconsin, an ethics complaint in Arizona, Lin Wood faces a probe by the State Bar of Georgia that could result in disbarment, and a judge in Washington D.C. recently ordered another Trump lawyer to face a disciplinary committee.

The legal principle is easy to understand, or it certainly should be: If you go into court with allegations, you need to back them up. It’s not enough to claim that “people are saying.” That’s snake oil for the suckers at MAGA rallies, nothing more.

Naturally, we don’t know whether these judicial smackdowns will deter future Powells from lying for similarly malevolent reasons. But it’s heartening to know that judges and lawyers’ associations are reminding practitioners that a law license does not grant its owner the prerogative of using the courts to concoct fake conspiracies that imperil our democratic way of life.

Copyright 2021 Dick Polman, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Dick Polman, a veteran national political columnist based in Philadelphia and a Writer in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania, writes at DickPolman.net. Email him at [email protected]

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It Was Always Going to End This Way in Afghanistan

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Anyone who professes to be shocked by the Taliban victory in Afghanistan has not been paying attention.

It was always bound to happen. It was merely delayed because Uncle Sam kept his trillion-dollar finger in the dike for 20 years. Were we fated to remain forever, in a land that had already proved fatally inhospitable to the British and the Russians and Alexander the Great?

The harbingers of failure had long been obvious, but most Americans, benumbed by the war, had long ago stopped paying attention. In 2019, word leaked that the U.S. officials entrusted with propping up the Afghan regime were disgusted with their proteges, saying in memos and private interviews that “after almost two decades of help from Washington, the Afghan army and police are still too weak to fend off the Taliban.”

They were weak largely because they were deeply corrupt. In the private words of Ryan Crocker, a former U.S. ambassador, “they’re useless as a security force because they are corrupt down to the patrol level.” Nevertheless, as another U.S. official admitted to government interviewers in 2015, “The less they behaved, the more money we threw at them.”

Fairly or not, President Biden will own the humiliating images of retreat – but, in reality, the Afghanistan debacle was authored by American presidents from both political parties. What we’re seeing now is a bipartisan clustermuck.

It was launched by George W. Bush, who committed us to the impossible task of nation-building. (From his 2005 Inaugural address: “It is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture,” even though, he admitted, “our country has accepted obligations that are difficult to fulfill.”)

It was sustained by Barack Obama, who approved a troop surge in 2009 and whose military spokesmen kept saying there was light at the end of the tunnel (Gen. James Mattis to Congress in 2010: “We’re on the right track now.”).

It landed in the capacious lap of Donald Trump, who decided it was time to get out, who invited the Taliban to Camp David in 2019 (“We’re getting along very, very well with the Taliban”), and who set a May 1, 2021 withdrawal deadline for U.S. forces.

Nevertheless, Republicans are predictably hammering Biden, conveniently forgetting that antiwar sentiment has long been rampant in their own ranks. Mitt Romney, the Republican’s presidential nominee in 2012, said of Afghanistan in 2011: “We’ve learned that our troops shouldn’t go off and try and fight a war of independence for another nation.”

As recently as last April, Trump endorsed Biden’s announced intention to withdraw the troops: “Getting out of Afghanistan is a wonderful and positive thing to do. I planned to withdraw on May 1, and we should keep as close to that schedule as possible.”

“Biden understood that the choice was between getting out or being stuck there with no end in sight, and he rightly judged that the former was better for the United States,” wrote historian and veteran conservative commentator Daniel Larison. “The fact that the Afghan government has lost so much ground so quickly proves that the U.S. failed in building a functioning state that could fend for itself… Far from showing the folly of Biden’s decision, it confirms the wisdom of it. A state as rickety and incapable of protecting itself as this one would not have been saved by delaying withdrawal a few more months or even years.”

As Biden said on Saturday, “One more year or five more years of U.S. military presence would not have made a difference if the Afghan military cannot or will not hold its own country. And an endless American presence in the middle of another country’s civil conflict was not acceptable to me.”

That view also jibes with the sentiments of the most Americans. He’ll likely take a hit in the short run as the images of surrender resonate globally – although that’s akin to blaming President Gerald Ford for our chaotic final departure from Vietnam in 1975 – but the fact remains that the current withdrawal is supported by 70 percent of Americans, including 56 percent of Republicans.

What most Americans appear to understand – even while mostly tuning out the war – is that leaving Afghanistan is basically the least bad option. There’s no point in investing a few more trillion dollars and more American bodies just to keep meeting the definition of insanity, the compulsion to do the same thing over and over again in expectation of a different result. It takes wisdom and political courage to face reality.

Copyright 2021 Dick Polman, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Dick Polman, a veteran national political columnist based in Philadelphia and a Writer in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania, writes at DickPolman.net. Email him at [email protected]

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COVID Widow Tells Deniers to Get Real

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Kudos to grieving widow Julia Letlow, a Louisiana Republican congresswoman, for setting the record straight. Better late than never.

Last November – you may dimly recall, if at all – her husband Luke won a House seat but never made it to Washington. In mid-December he announced that he had COVID. Twelve days later, he died at age 41. Prior to the illness, according to his doctor, he’d been healthy as a horse. He left behind Julia and two small children.

This tragedy was bad enough. Arguably worse were the numerous dolts who insisted on social media with high confidence that COVID hadn’t killed Luke, that surely he had succumbed for some other reason – because in their authoritative view COVID wasn’t real, it was a hoax, or whatever.

When I wrote about Luke’s sudden death on Dec. 30, I was peppered with all kinds of creative emails. The big theme was that COVID was not a scientific truth, it was merely a “narrative.” So it’s nice that Julia, having won a special election to fill Luke’s House seat, has now come forward to enlighten the fools who continue to live in denial – starting with her fellow Louisianans, only 37 percent of whom have opted to get vaccinated.

And not a moment too soon, because Louisiana continues to break COVID-19 hospitalization records. One Louisiana doctor said that his facility is “admitting one Covid patient (every) 45 minutes,” and, in many places, elective surgeries are being canceled as a lower priority.

On CBS News this week, Julia Letlow said: “People don’t want to feel forced into anything or be lectured to. We are a very prideful, strong people in Louisiana. I just said, ‘What can I do? Is there anything I can do to help with the misinformation out there? With all of the confusion and fear?’ And someone asked, ‘Well, what would you tell somebody who’s on the fence about possibly receiving a vaccine?’ And I said I’d tell them about Luke. I would tell them my story.”

It’s heart-breaking, of course. He isolated himself in their house, well aware that vaccines were being rapidly developed. Julia said, “He and I prayed about the possibility of the vaccine, and we were so excited that it was coming out and that it was going to be widely available. And he missed it by two weeks.” He was admitted to a hospital shortly before Christmas, “he cried on the way,” and after that “it all happened very quickly…Where I saw the color drain, and that’s when it hit me that he might not come home.” She prayed over him, “and that’s when I left him, and I kissed him goodbye.”

Understandably, perhaps, the CBS News folks didn’t want to impinge on her moving story by asking any inconvenient questions. Such as: “Do you regret that your husband, during his House campaign, staged multiple maskless rallies and meetups?” Such as: “Looking back, was your husband wrong when he campaigned against lockdowns and told voters that ‘we have to learn to live in a Covid world’?” Such as: “Would you be as bullish about vaccines if your family had not suffered this personal tragedy?”

But setting all that aside, we should welcome Julia to the fight. She said in the Wall Street Journal: “When Luke was in the hospital, he told me numerous times that he wanted to help people understand the seriousness of the virus.” If she can goad any deniers into getting the jab, it’s a plus.

When her husband passed, I wrote: “After 330,000 deaths, how many more cautionary tales do people need to hear?” That was nearly 300,000 deaths ago, so I’ll repeat the question.

Copyright 2021 Dick Polman, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Dick Polman, a veteran national political columnist based in Philadelphia and a Writer in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania, writes at DickPolman.net. Email him at [email protected]

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Words the MAGA Cult Don’t Want You to Hear

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I’m literally old enough to remember when Republicans proudly branded themselves as the cop-loving guardians of “law and order.”

Richard Nixon won the presidency with that shtick in 1968, Donald Trump used it in 2016 (“I will restore law and order to our country”), and tried it again in 2020 (“I love law enforcement, I love the cops, I love the police”). So it’s ironic that in 2021, Capitol Hill Republicans sought to block the creation of a Jan. 6 inquiry that would give cops a chance to share their pain about the lawless Beer Gut Putsch.

The Republican cult didn’t want you to hear from Sgt. Aquilino Gonell, who called the MAGA insurrection “a pathetic excuse for (Trump’s) behavior.”

“I’m still recovering from those hugs and kisses that day,” Gonell said. “If that was hugs and kisses, then we should all go to his house and do the same thing to him. To me, it’s insulting, it’s demoralizing because everything that we did was to prevent everyone in the Capitol from getting hurt… Instead of sending the military, instead of sending the support, or telling his people, his supporters to stop this nonsense – he egged them to continue fighting.”

According to the cult, the mob was peaceful and “loving” (hence Gonell’s sarcasm yesterday about hugs and kisses). According to the cult, the mobsters were merely “tourists.” But courtesy of D.C. cop Michael Fanone, here’s something else the Republican cult didn’t want you to hear:

“They tortured me. They beat me. I was struck with a taser device at the base of my skull numerous times. And they continued to do so, until I yelled out that I have kids…They said, ‘Get his gun, kill him with his own gun!’”

Nor did the Republican cult want you to hear from Officer Daniel Hodges – who was crushed in a doorway, beaten with his own baton, sprayed with a fire extinguisher, attacked by goons who tried to gouge out his right eye, and was told that “you will die on your knees.”

The cult also wanted to silence Officer Harry Dunn, a Black man who was informed by the goons that he was nothing more than “a f—–g n—-r.”

And Dunn had succinct advice for the select House committee: “There was an attack carried out on Jan. 6, and a hit man sent them. I want you to get to the bottom of that.”

The Republican cult didn’t want those cops on live TV. They’d prefer that Americans dismiss the evidence that they witnessed with their own eyes and heard with their own ears on Jan. 6.

Fascism takes root when people en masse fall down the rabbit hole of alternative reality, which is precisely what Trump’s Capitol Hill enablers have tried (and thus far failed) to contrive. Fortunately, here in the 21st century, we have fancy gizmos called “videos” and “body cams,” and that evidence – aired in abundance during the hearing – was incontrovertible proof that the testifying cops were on the right side of Truth.

Granted, what those cops saw, heard, felt, and experienced will still be dismissed by the grassroots cultists, who are already hurling ridicule on social media and concocting new conspiracy theories that I won’t waste your time with. They’re already laughing at Officer Fanone for venting his fury at the witness table: “Nothing, virtually nothing has prepared me to address those elected (Republican) members of our government who continue to deny the events of that day” – people “I was so desperately trying to defend.”

As the House hearings proceed, we need to remember that Trump’s goons – on the Hill and in their communities – will not stop. Denying the reality of Jan. 6, spinning the violent coup as some kind of new norm, is merely one facet of the MAGA master plan.

As Kurt Bardella, a former senior Republican adviser, pointed out Tuesday, “The GOP’s endgame is to create a world in which they and they alone win elections. Any election that doesn’t result in a Republican win is labeled fraudulent and (deserves to) be overturned.”

That doesn’t seem to jibe with the traditional definition of “law and order,” but the MAGA norm-breakers don’t concern themselves with such niceties. Those of us who still revere the rule of law and democracy itself will have ample opportunity to revisit this issue as more witnesses appear under oath. Office Dunn said yesterday, “Jan. 6 still isn’t over for me.”

That goes for the rest of us, too.

Copyright 2021 Dick Polman, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Dick Polman, a veteran national political columnist based in Philadelphia and a Writer in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania, writes at DickPolman.net. Email him at [email protected]

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Sean Hannity Suggests Fox News Should Stop Killing People

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Pro-life Americans, which I define as people who want to defeat the pandemic, should welcome support from all quarters – including the darkest precincts of the Fox propaganda machine.

Hence it was nice this week to hear Sean Hannity utter these sentences:

“Please take COVID seriously. I can’t say it enough. Enough people have died. We don’t need any more death…Research like crazy, talk to your doctor, your doctors, medical professionals you trust based on your unique medical history, your current medical condition, and you and your doctor make a very important decision for your own safety. Take it seriously. It absolutely makes sense for many Americans to get vaccinated. I believe in science. I believe in the science of vaccination.”

It shouldn’t be news when a guy with a national audience declares that the Earth is round, but, hey, we’ve always set the Fox bar pretty low. And Hannity wasn’t alone. One of the Fox News morning hosts, Steve Doocy, made the same plea: “Look, the pandemic right now is really just with people who have not been vaccinated. Ninety-nine percent of the people who died have not been vaccinated…If you have the chance, get the shot, it will save your life.”

So what do we think is going on here? Are there internal corporate qualms about lying non-stop to the network’s gullible couch potatoes? Has there been some kind of calculation that Fox has killed off too many Americans, that perhaps it’s bad form to root for the pandemic’s delta variant by pumping nihilistic BS into the empty heads of red-state fans?

It’s theoretically possible that Fox has been stung by some of the criticism it’s getting lately. A former Fox executive, Preston Padden, said earlier this month that the infauxtainment outlet is “poison for America,” that its relentless ridicule of public health measures “has contributed substantially and directly to the unnecessary deaths of many Americans.”

A recent national poll says that 45 percent of Republicans who regularly watch Fox are hesitant or unwilling to get vaccinated; what’s truly repugnant is that the various hosts who attack the vaccines (and especially the Biden administration’s efforts to popularize the vaccines) are in fact vaccinated – and that Fox, to protect its returning staffers, is creating a vaccine passport.

So has Fox made a corporate decision to change its ways? Is it feeling the heat?

Let’s not get too excited. Most likely, Hannity and Doocy (and another anchor, Bill Hemmer) are merely trying to help Fox cover its rear.

Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham continue to fulminate against mass vaccinations – Carlson says the prospect of health workers going door to door is “the greatest scandal in my lifetime, by far. Another talking head, Brian Kilmeade, said the government has no business trying to safeguard the public’s health (“It’s not their job to protect anybody”), an ignorant remark that’s contradicted by the U.S. Constitution, which establishes a government to “promote the general welfare.”

So when Hannity and a few others make nice with reality, the Fox spokespeople can claim that the network really covers “both sides” of the debate (even though one side is bogus).

Besides, Hannity and Carlson are hotly competitive for program ratings. Hannity’s foursquare endorsement of vaccines looks like a shot across Carlson’s bow, who appeared to retaliate when he grumbled about people who offer “medical advice on television.” In all likelihood, this is not even a policy disagreement – it’s probably just a peeing contest.

So it’s a pipe dream to believe that Hannity’s vaccine announcement signals a Fox U-turn, or any kind of mea culpa about killing off so many Americans (indeed, its own viewers). But with the pandemic raging anew most glaringly in the low-vaccinated states (what I call the Dumbbelt), any help from any quarter is welcome.

If retweeting Hannity can save even one life, go for it.

Copyright 2021 Dick Polman, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Dick Polman, a veteran national political columnist based in Philadelphia and a Writer in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania, writes at DickPolman.net. Email him at [email protected]

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Very Nice, Uncle Joe. But You Only Told Us What We Already Know.

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President Biden’s delivered a very nice speech this week about the MAGA Republican plot to destroy democracy. But there was one big problem.

“The 2020 election – it’s not hyperbole to suggest – (was) the most examined and the fullest expression of the will of the people in the history of this nation. This should be celebrated – the example of America at its best. But instead, we continue to see an example of human nature at its worst – something darker and more sinister.”

This we know.

“The denial of full and free and fair elections is the most un-American thing that any of us can imagine, the most undemocratic, the most unpatriotic…”

This we know.

“This broad assault against voting rights…is taking on new and literally pernicious forms.”

This we know.

“This is election subversion. It’s the most dangerous threat to voting and the integrity of free and fair elections in our history.”

This we know.

“There is an unfolding assault taking place in America today – an attempt to suppress and subvert the right to vote in fair and free elections, an assault on democracy, an assault on liberty, an assault on who we are as Americans. For, make no mistake, bullies and merchants of fear and peddlers of lies are threatening the very foundation of our country.”

This we know.

“We’re are facing the most significant test of our democracy since the Civil War. That’s not hyperbole. Since the Civil War.”

This we know. All this, we already know. But what are you gonna do about it?

“Time and again, we’ve weathered threats to the right to vote in free and fair elections. And each time, we found a way to overcome. And that’s what we must do today.”

OK, how?

“We must pass the For the People Act. It’s a national imperative.”

OK, how?

As soon as Congress passes the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, I will sign it and let the whole world see it. That will be an important moment.”

OK, how?

“We’re going to face another test in 2002, a new wave of unprecedented voter suppression, raw and sustained election subversion. We have to prepare now.”

OK, how?

See, this is the enduring problem with Democrats. They seize the moral high ground, often with great eloquence. But unlike their craven opponents, all too often they bring squirt guns to a shooting war.

By nature Democrats prefer to play nice, somehow believing that honeyed words will dissipate evil. They prefer to follow the rules rather then bend them to best advantage. They shrink from using muscle. That’s laudable on many levels, but the problem right now is they’re confronted with a cult that worships nothing but brute power.

Nowhere in his speech did Biden even suggest that perhaps the Senate Democrats should explore the possibility of carving out an exception to the filibuster – which, by dint of reactionary tradition, prevents the chamber from passing crucial voting rights bills with a simple majority. The filibuster appears nowhere in the Constitution, yet Biden continues to revere it despite the fact that we’re in the midst of a constitutional emergency.

The Republicans basically stole two Supreme Court seats by eliminating the filibuster rule for high court nominations (just 51 votes are needed to confirm, no more 60-vote threshold). But somehow, when democracy itself is imperiled, the filibuster rule is still deemed sacrosanct by the president who’s sounding the alarm.

So instead of muscle, we’re still getting mush:

“We will be asking my Republican friends – in Congress, in states, in cities, in counties – to stand up, for God’s sake, and help prevent this concerted effort to undermine our elections and the sacred right to vote. Have you no shame?”

Um, no. This we already know.

Copyright 2021 Dick Polman, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Dick Polman, a veteran national political columnist based in Philadelphia and a Writer in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania, writes at DickPolman.net. Email him at [email protected]

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Rupert Murdoch is Launching Fox Weather. We Can Only Imagine…

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This is for real: Rupert Murdoch will soon launch a new platform, Fox Weather.

Wrap your head around that one. Brian Wieser, a prominent media analyst, said it best the other day: “How do you address the fact that weather changes are caused to some degree by humans when you have a media property with a history of challenging that fact?”

Hmmm.

“…And for the latest Big Beautiful 10-day American Greatness Forecast, let’s go to Sabrina at the big board. Sabrina?”

(Blonde, short tight skirt) “Thank you, Tucker! Stay tuned, we’ll have that soon. In the meantime, I’m happy to report that red states are in for a treat this weekend as a high pressure system brings balmy temps and blue skies, fine weather for cleaning your guns outdoors or joining up with other tourists at your favorite Capitol building. But Tucker, there’s very different news elsewhere. Would you like me to share?”

“That would be mighty white of you.”

“It does appear that the Pacific Northwest, and we all know how those states voted, will boil in 125 degrees, with rampant wildfires in the areas where they don’t rake the forests. Why God is seeing fit to punish that region, we can only speculate on His motives at this time, but suffice it to say that tomorrow in particular may be the worst day for those folks since Ashli Babbitt was shot.”

“Sabrina, some elites will surely say that those high temps are further ‘evidence’ of what they theorize as ‘climate change,’ but what does your reporting tell you?”

“Tucker, I’m getting high readings on the Chinese Hoaxmeter, so let’s leave it for the viewers to decide.”

“And questions need to be asked whether it’s just a coincidence that all this is happening at the same time that blue states are forcing our kids to learn critical race theory.”

“Which also may account for the sustained high winds that are expected in other blue states, where some say that the wind turbines will kill tens of millions of birds.”

“Right you are, Sabrina. Seems like what this country needs this weekend is a massive tax cut.”

(Mutual laughter). “Right back to ya, Tucker. But just to be fair and balanced, it does look like some southern areas of Real America will be hit this weekend with record flooding and endless rain, so it might be advisable for those patriots to get out the ole umbrella and go live for awhile in a rescue shelter where unvaccinated people aren’t persecuted.”

“Any remote chance that the flooding could spread into ungovernable Democrat strongholds?”

“Not at this time, Tucker, but if I take my Sharpie pen…there…fixed it!”

“Thank you Sabrina. Is there any confirmable good news out there?”

“Well, it does look like Miami is under water, and we all know how Miami-Dade County voted.”

“I’m sure the alarmists will have a different theory. By the way, have you finished tabulating the 10-day American Greatness Forecast?”

“We have indeed, Tucker. But we don’t like the downbeat results – too much ‘extreme’ weather in too many places – so we’re going to send the data out to Arizona for an audit.”

“Right you are, Sabrina, you never know what Hugo Chavez may be up to. Stay tuned, we’ll be back in a minute after this message from Beautiful Clean Coal.”

 

Copyright 2021 Dick Polman, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Dick Polman, a veteran national political columnist based in Philadelphia and a Writer in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania, writes at DickPolman.net. Email him at [email protected]

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