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Showing posts from November, 2023

The Engine Room of Right-Wing Propaganda

  Thanksgiving has come and gone, and I’ve written not a word in a week. Here, therefore, is an oldie from September 2021, a sort of backgrounder on the Heritage Foundation, whose “fellows” are even now hard at work on Project 2025 , which they hope will finish off democracy once and for all.    How many times, over the last few decades, have we heard mention of the Heritage Foundation, and thought nothing of it? It’s always been one of those names in the background, just below the surface of the discussion. It’s often accompanied by the words “conservative think tank,” which led me to wonder what they think about. Especially in this age of big lies, insurrection, and election subversion. So I took a closer look. Turns out, “think tank” is an apt description, because these are the guys who do the actual thinking — such as it is — for the Republican party. Ever since Reagan, Heritage has provided Republicans with the specious reasoning they use to explain — or

The Media Wakes Up and Smells the Fascism

  A funny thing happened on the way to the 2024 horserace. The mainstream media brought Hitler into the conversation. Trump gave them no choice. He kept amping up his rants in terms that were so explicitly Nazi, so lifted — practically verbatim — from Hitler’s speeches, that it was hard for them to keep ignoring what they’ve willfully ignored for so long. When Trump used the word ‘vermin’ in his Veteran’s Day speech , he was taking a whole chapter from the fascism playbook. Whether he knew it or not. Dehumanization — the art of equating human beings with insects — is a classic stochastic terrorism technique, beloved of dictators the world over. In Rwanda in the nineties, the Hutu tribe openly called its rival Tutsis “cockroaches” on the radio, inciting its members to exterminate them with machetes, which they did. We’ll probably never know who actually wrote the Vermin speech — Stephen Miller or Steve Bannon are likely suspects — but we can be sure it wasn’t T

Do We Have to Talk About Trump Again?

  Donald Trump has achieved his life’s work. All he ever wanted was to be rich and famous, and he certainly has a claim on both. But the results are mixed, and in both cases, he might have been more careful what he wished for. Rich? Rich was something bestowed on him by his father, despite an obvious dearth of business aptitude. Somehow, through sheer chutzpah, he managed to impersonate a self-made tycoon for forty years. More than that, he lived rich, flamboyantly so, and not enough people questioned where that money came from. We now know that astonishing amounts of his gains were ill-gotten, but we still don’t know the real extent of those gains — or losses, for that matter — and may never. But as his assets get sent into receivership in the next months and years, we’ll learn more about the murky business practices that were covered up by Alan Weisselberg’s cooked books and false valuations, and we might even learn how rich Trump actually is. Or was. Or wasn’t.

Things Have Been Too Cheap for Too Long

  Once upon a time, gasoline cost roughly 35 cents a gallon. That halcyon era came to an abrupt halt during the Carter administration, when oil-rich Arab states severely constricted our petroleum supply, causing hours-long lines at the gas pump that are still fresh in the memory of anyone who was there. When the dust cleared, gas was four times more expensive, and now we count ourselves lucky if it’s only ten times that long-ago price. But we did get over it, more or less. We learned to live with it. Around that time, some pundit I can’t remember said something that has stuck with me ever since. To paraphrase, “This country was built on cheap energy and cheap labor, and we’re running out of both.” It stuck with me because it’s even truer now than it was then. This despite the best efforts of corporate interests — and their Republican flunkies in government — to do all they can to keep both energy and labor as cheap as possible. For several decades, they made