Tuesday, January 01, 2019


[See also Part 1 and Part 2.]

2. The Republican Trump protection racket. Normal people perceive the Mueller investigation to be a sober, workmanlike pursuit and analysis of leads to determine how the 2016 election became a Russian propaganda operation. Yet conservatives kept trying to discredit the investigation and its sources in the FBI and elsewhere.

California Republican Congressman Devin Nunes and his GOP buddies kept hinting that there was something in a House Intelligence Committee memo that would expose criminal or at least unseemly overreach in the FBI's investigations of Trump -- but when released the memo proved to be a put-up job meant to shield the President, of the sort in which Republican committees seem to specialize anymore.

Republican periodically waved messages between anti-Trump FBI lovebirds Peter Strzok and Lisa Page as if their private political opinions invalidated whatever intelligence the agency might have turned up on Trump. Wisconsin GOP senator Ron Johnson even claimed "he had an ‘informant’ corroborate reports concerning the existence of an FBI ‘secret society’ working to undermine President Trump," reported the Washington Examiner.

This went on all year and probably reached its apotheosis in the loony accusations by rightwing grifters Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman that Mueller, despite evidence removing him from the alleged scene of the crime, committed sexual assault. And indeed the part played in this protection racket by pundits has been huge -- and ongoing: See the New Year's Eve post by David Brooks, in which he suggests that, notwithstanding Trump's probable crimes, if Democrats don't say Simon Says when they go after him -- if they don't act like "modern versions of Archibald Cox, Elliot Richardson and Judge John Sirica... then the roughly 40 percent of Americans who support Trump will see serious evidence that he committed felonies, but they won’t care! They’ll conclude that this is not about law or integrity. It’s just a political show trial." Totally ignoring, of course, that the quietly industrious Mueller is the most Cox-Richardson-Sirica-like Republican since -- well, since Cox, Richardson, and Sirica, yet Republicans already act as if it's just a "show trial."

But even weirder than the paid propagandists running interference -- which we could expect -- is the dedication of what were once unironically called public servants to defense of Individual 1 -- with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell repeatedly propping the door open for Trump to shut the investigation down. I gotta admit, when I focus even for a moment on that, I get that old feeling of outrage we used to get whenever prominent politicians acted like low-level mob goons. And Mitch and the boys don't have too much time left to wear us down and get us accustomed to that level of criminality.

1. Conservatives versus kids. I understand why they take public stands against immigrants, minorities, and even women -- it's the same evil they've been doing for years, and it still works for them, if less over time. But it strikes me as a bad political move for them to side so strongly against the survival of children. Americans don't even approve of Trump's conscious and deliberate immiseration (and in some cases killing) of refugee kids -- and they're not even white! Also, sending administration lie generator Kellyanne Conway out to accuse Democrats of using the dead children as "political pawns" is, under the circumstances, like a rapist complaining that the prosecutor is ruining the girl's reputation by revealing that she isn't a virgin.

But the real headscratcher is their continued devotion to the NRA in the face of all the school shootings -- and, more importantly (because face it, they've been stonewalling school shootings for years), in the face of strong public awareness and activism against their reign of terror, particularly since Parkland and the media-savvy survivors that came out of it -- not to mention the boycotts.

Apart from the usual only-outlaws-will-have-guns bullshit, their outreach seems faulty, too -- mostly these-kids-today seethings from guys like Rod Dreher ("They’re already celebrating the intersectionality of [Emma] Gonzalez, a self-defined bisexual who has shaved her head") and Dinesh D'Souza ("Worst news since their parents told them to get summer jobs"). It's almost as if they don't care if they lose -- that they just want to reassure one another of their own righteousness as Americans get pissed off enough to finally turn on them. I'd like to think it's a neurosis born of guilt, but I must say I'm having a hard time giving them the benefit of the doubt anymore, even on that.

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