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What the GOP Learned from The Former Guy

  I promise to write something new soon — right now, it's not in the cards. Regardless, there are still a few past posts that I think are worth revisiting. This one goes back to March 2021, two months after Jan 6 and the subsequent Biden inauguration. The timeline and its context notwithstanding, I don’t think there’s a word I would change. If anything, I’m guilty of understatement, as the Trump cancer continues to metastasize to the point where it will clearly outlive him. The Trump legacy is still a work in progress, but the outlines are already on full display. I tried to watch the Former Guy’s CPAC speech. I really did. I hung in there for almost two minutes before I needed a shower. But at least one thing came through loud and clear. In the last four years, Donald Trump gave all Republicans a license to lie, cheat, and steal just as much as their natures allow. And that license has not expired. Trump led by example, and they were happy to follow. We w
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Newt Gingrich, and How the Liberal Republican Became an Extinct Species

  Full disclosure, I’m still on vacation, still with extended family, still not finding time to write much, which is not necessarily a bad thing. So I’m treating this hiatus as an opportunity to take another look at some of the history behind what’s happening today. This is from roughly a year ago. Once upon a time, there were Republicans in public office who were happy to call themselves liberals. No, really. The sixties and seventies were full of them. Before Jacob Javits was a convention center, he was a Republican senator from New York, who today would be considered well to the left of Barack Obama. Same with Edward Brooke — once a senator from Massachusetts — who was Republican, liberal, and Black. Yes, you read that right. Nelson Rockefeller, the multi-term governor of New York, was a fixture of my childhood. He actually made it to Vice President, though he was appointed, not elected, to the job in the wake of Nixon’s resignation. There were others you

How Today's Republican Party Got That Way

Greetings from Canada, where I can see bald eagles that have apparently emigrated from the U.S., presumably in disgust. Since vacation involves a lot of work, I’ve given myself a week with no writing. Instead, I’m recycling a post from thirteen months ago, which is more a history lesson than my usual political ranting. It recaps three powerful forces that have driven much of politics for the last 50 years or so. If you know this stuff, sorry to remind you of it. If you don’t, maybe this will provide some context for the mess we’re currently in. In many ways, the rise of Trump was an accident. But in many more ways, it was the culmination — and the accelerant — of pernicious forces that have been at work for well over half a century. Even among my readers there are those who remain largely unaware of how the GOP became the party of authoritarian rule. While I can hardly tell the whole story, I can point out three intersecting plot lines that built slowly but o

Menstrual Extraction and the DIY Abortion

I am quite sure most Americans have never heard of menstrual extraction — I certainly hadn’t — but I’m thinking that could change, and soon. As the name implies, this is a technique for extracting, via suction, a woman’s entire menstrual flow, all at once. It takes about half an hour. If her period is too heavy or too crampy, if it threatens to mess with her vacation, or if she just doesn’t want to deal with it this month, menstrual extraction is an option. She can use one of several suction devices, including a homemade one called a “Del-Em” machine — forty dollars’ worth of lab tubing, a syringe, and a mason jar — with which she can safely extract the contents of her uterus. And if that uterus happens to contain an unwanted early-stage fetus, that too will be extracted. Who’s to know? Though it’s been under the radar for a long time, menstrual extraction — often called “menstrual regulation” — is a real thing. It’s practiced all over the world. The Del-Em itself was devel

What Else will Republicans Be Coming For?

We can’t say we haven’t been warned. This place we’ve now arrived at is the end of a fifty-year journey. It’s been out in the open — for those willing to see it — for thirty years. Ever since Hillary Clinton spoke of the “vast right-wing conspiracy” that tried to take down her husband. And ultimately came for her. The signs were there as early as 1964, with the thrashing of Barry Goldwater in the presidential election, when the GOP turned sharply right in reaction to the Civil Rights Act and dozens of other egalitarian measures they could not tolerate. It goes back even further, but never mind. The point is, far too many of us didn’t take them seriously. Democrats were then — and still are now — a solid majority of voters, though it’s not clear if that matters anymore. Because far too many of us couldn’t be bothered to vote. We said things like all-politicians-are-the-same, and both-sides-are-equally-corrupt, and sorry-but-I-just-don’t-trust-Hillary. So we stayed home, and th

A Modest Proposal to Clarence Thomas

Dear Justice Thomas: As you know, several states, newly emboldened by your colleagues’ overruling of Roe v. Wade, are now determined to enact laws defining life as beginning at fertilization — which is to say, at the happy moment when sperm meets egg. I submit to you that this definition lacks both scope and ambition, and is not at all in keeping with your written concurrence with the majority opinion. While that concurrence is in many ways admirable, you nonetheless appear to place far too much value on the egg, and far too little on the sperm. Sperm is, after all, the male component of the pregnancy process, and, as such, its rights surely must supersede those of any female component that might emerge later in that process. Consequently, I feel your concurrence pays insufficient deference to the cornerstone of our culture, male dominance. It fails to grant personhood status to the sperm, despite the sperm’s preeminent standing, both as male and as unborn. Therefore, in the

We’re All Single-Issue Voters Now

Few things seem stupider to me than basing my vote on a candidate’s position on abortion. But that’s what it just came down to. Yes, I know, people with weak brains and poor educations have been doing this for decades, deciding that an innocuous medical procedure — which nobody seeks unless absolutely necessary — is a more important issue than a dying planet, a sabotaged government, and a conspiracy to make things far worse for everyone than they already are. But even as a depressingly lengthy list of overwhelming problems continues to descend upon us from a dozen directions at once, we are now forced to deal with new catastrophes soon to be unleashed by what should have been a non-problem. If abortion was ever a problem, it was one that was solved long ago, and to most of the world’s satisfaction. The case for abortion is unimpeachable from a medical, legal, and societal viewpoint, while abortion itself has become a crucial tool in responsible family planning. There is no ration