Monthly Archives: October 2020

GOP Politicians: Your Five Point Plan to Surviving Trump

Dan Rather tweets: It's tempting to use the analogy of rats fleeing a sinking ship to describe the growing number of Republican elected officials starting to speak out against Donald Trump. But that's not really fair to rats, who tend not to be complicit in driving ships to the bottom of the sea.

I’ve long said that GOP politicians will stand by Trump, no matter how criminal, dangerous, or simply bizarre his behavior is, until the exact second he becomes a political liability. Well, we’re two weeks away from the election, and Republican after Republican — especially Congressional Republicans in tight races — have been tentatively testing the waters of dissent with a few mild, safe criticisms for weeks. Now they’re either arranging for their “private dissent” to be leaked or are publicly stating that they were secretly “concerned” all along as they begin the scramble to distance themselves from the sinking failboat that is Donald Trump. Some examples:

Even die-hard loyalists like Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham are publicly discussing the possibility of losing the White House to Democrats. Both Cruz and Graham vociferously opposed Trump in 2016, then made abrupt reversals as soon as he won. Reversals they have both lived to regret — Cruz nearly lost his seat to charismatic upstart Beto O’Rourke in 2018 and Graham is in real danger of losing his to brilliant, heartfelt Jaime Harrison.

And I haven’t even begun talking about Mitt Romney.

In the interest of selfless service like a good Camp Fire Girl (Ret.-CA), I’ve compiled the Five Point Plan for Republicans Looking to Survive Trump. I predict GOP lawmakers will roll out one or more of the following over the next few weeks. Some will roll out all of them for different audiences.

  1. “I’m a new man”: Admit you were wrong and choose a moment when you realized that your best intentions for America and loyalty to the Republican party had led you to support a man who was Bad for America. But at the time, you trusted! You believed! You had misgivings but set them aside because America! And then you met Mrs. Fictional Blackwoman, whose personal story made the scales fall from your eyes, and you realized that you were wrong all along. Then sell the whole thing as a book: American Greatness: The Day I Heroically Believed a Black Woman.
  2. “God’s imperfect vessel”: Rehabilitate his image using selective memory, lies, and racism. Claim that, despite his “rough edges,” “crass tweets,” “tough talk” and “plans to make the US an authoritarian dictatorship,” he still protected good Christian people from Antifa, Black Lives Matter, immigrants from nonwhite countries, and Jewi — I mean (WINK WINK) “globalists”! God used this imperfect vessel for good works.
  3. “The Susan Collins”: All of that support for Trump was just support for the glorious American patriotic Republican party. He was our leader and I owed him loyalty, but secretly I was at the White House every day begging him to be less awful. Look at all the times I said I was “concerned”! I voted with my fellow Republicans out of loyalty to them and to the party, but secretly the entire time I was “concerned.”
  4. “The Defense Counsel Special”: I never read any of those bills. I was just following orders from party leadership. Also Your Honor, I spread slander against the plaintiff only on orders from leadership. I just repeated what Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Trump told me to say and I had no idea it was Russian propaganda. I apologize to Hunter Biden and to President Biden, and to the American people, and hope that this court will take that into consideration when determining damages.
  5. “The Hail Mary”: But was he really that bad? Like, it could be worse, right? I mean, most people are still alive, right? And unemployment is what, just — oh, God, is it really that high? Um, OK, well, he lowered taxes? I mean, MY taxes went down, so — right; moving on. . .um . . . He was an American patriot who did his best in multiple crises, most of his own making, but he always put American patriots first, especially the great Trump family.

The next days and weeks will reveal which Republicans choose which of these to deploy, but the rats are indeed leaving the sinking ship, with apologies to Dan Rather. Whatever the outcome of the election due to the antiquated foolishness of the electoral college, Trump’s popularity is sinking like a rock, and the Republican party may never fully recover.

Become a Bitter Gertrude patron on Patreon!

Tagged ,

Why It Matters That Trump Called Kamala Harris “This Monster”

Senator Kamala Harris smiles broadly and applauds at an outdoor event.
All photos of Senator Harris are taken from her Senate website, harris.senate.gov.

There’s a lot going on today. The FBI caught a white militia in an attempt to kidnap Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer, evidently believing they were carrying out Trump’s orders to “LIBERATE MICHIGAN.” Trump’s team is throwing a tantrum over the Commission on Presidential Debates’ decision to make the next debate virtual due to Trump and his team being contagious with a dangerous virus. In an astonishingly dimwitted move, the campaign released a letter denouncing CPD for “trying to protect Joe Biden” (and, one assumes, themselves and everyone who works at the venue). Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) tweeted that he’s against democracy because it “thwarts liberty, peace, and prospefity.” (Ah, prospefity, one of the cofnefstones of ouf gfeat country.)

Senator Mike Lee tweets "Democracy isn't the objective; liberty, peace, and prosperity are. We want the human condition to flourish. Rank democracy can thwart that." October 7, 2020. "Prosperity" is misspelled.

But one thing passed quickly this morning that needs a closer look: Trump twice called Senator Kamala Harris “this monster.” I know it seems like just one more thing to toss on the 25th Amendment pile, but it bears particular scrutiny. 

We’ve already seen conservatives (and even some men on the left) pull out every ugly sexist attack in the Tired Old Playbook of Sexist Attacks. Harris is a “madwoman,” a “slut” who “slept her way to the top,” she’s ugly, her voice is “shrill” and “grating.” She’s “ambitious,” which is only a slur when applied to women; when applied to men, it’s a compliment. After the Vice Presidential debate, conservative men– let’s call them “con men” for short– flooded social media with declarations of Harris’ “unlikeability.” That’s truly my favorite. These con men mean she’s “unlikeable” to them. The kind of man who uses that term is, invariably, intimidated by strong, smart women because they’re afraid (usually for good reason) that the women are stronger and smarter than they are. 

“Monster” has been used against women dating back to the fight for women’s suffrage. Women who rejected the idea that women are inferior to men, should be ruled by their husbands, and exist to serve men have historically been called “monsters” whose “monstrosity” is a destructive force against “the American family” and “the American way of life.” Senator Harris, as a powerful, brilliant woman who does not suffer fools gladly, is, to these frightened little men, a “monster.”

Senator Kamala Harris leans down and smiles broadly at an adorable Black boy of about 5, who smiles excitedly.

But to these frightened little con men, Kamala Harris isn’t just a woman– she’s a woman of color. She’s mixed race– her father is a Black man who immigrated from Jamaica and her mother was an Asian woman who immigrated from India. 

When a man like Donald Trump calls Harris “this monster,” he’s not only using a term with a long, sexist history; he’s deploying a racial slur that has been used against both people of color and mixed-race people for hundreds of years. 

“This monster” means she’s not human but sub-human, unworthy of the consideration we owe other human beings. Dangerous, malevolent. “This monster” is a weapon intended to dehumanize.

Dehumanization is the centerpiece of racism. Monstrosity has been attributed to both Black and Asian people throughout US history. It was used as a justification for slavery– these “savage monsters” would become a destructive force if left “uncontrolled,” raping white women and murdering children in their cradles, without the “guidance” of white enslavers. It underpinned the “yellow peril”– these “monsters” are “ruthless” and “heartless” sub-human dangers to upstanding Americans. Brown-skinned people, regardless of culture or ethnicity, were called “monster” after 9/11. “These monsters want to destroy America,” white people say when they attack– and kill– Sikhs in turbans, as far from being Al Qaeda as a white American is from being a White Guelph. These attacks surged after 9/11 and have been increasing, unsurprisingly, in the Trump era, as all racist attacks have been increasing, emboldened by their racist leader tweeting his racism, airing it on television, trumpeting it from the very steps of the White House. “We” are human; “they” are monsters. 

The young woman pictured here with Senator Harris is wearing a CHP Explorer uniform, a program for people 15-21 who are interested in becoming CHP officers.

What’s particularly potent in Trump calling Harris “this monster” is that “monster” has been used for generations as a particular slur against mixed-race people. They don’t “belong” to any one race or ethnicity; they’re “monsters” who don’t belong to any human category, an “unnatural” amalgamation that goes against the “law of God.” This argument was used to justify slavery (abolishing slavery would lead to interracial unions and “monster” children), and then again to justify bans on interracial marriage (again, “monster” children). It’s in use right now, in far-right circles, about mixed-race people. The far right is, right this second, justifying white supremacy and the “purity” of the “white race” by calling mixed-race children “monsters.” 

Donald Trump knows as well as any racist and sexist what it means to call a mixed-race female Senator a “monster.” 

Senator Kamala Harris stands with her hand over her heart.

As with everything in modern conservatism, accusations are confessions. Trump claims Biden and Harris are “liars” and “corrupt,” that Biden is “lazy” and “losing it”– all things that Trump himself is, as the impartial observers outside the US, aghast at what’s happening in America, often discuss. So Trump predictably defends against the widespread claim that he, and the GOP he bullied into his own image, are “monsters” due to their monstrous behavior by calling Senator Harris a “monster,” but the two are not equivalent. Trump and his GOP are monstrous in their speech and actions. 

Trump calls Senator Harris “this monster” because he’s using racism and sexism to appeal to his base, and that racism and sexism makes him, in a word, monstrous.

Tagged , , , , ,

When Someone Like Trump Gets Sick

Trump waves from a car after demanding he be taken on a joyride outside the hospital to wave at supporters on October 4. The Secret Service accompanying him now must quarantine for 14 days. (Image: Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images)

While Trump is unique in many ways– we’ve never had an American president who has such obvious disdain for the rule of law and such active hatred for the majority of voters–   in many ways he’s as ordinary as they come. He’s a privileged, pampered, narcissistic bully who’s enthusiastically interested in using his power and privilege to harm others for personal gain. The world is full of such creatures; so full, in fact, that we’ve all worked for several, all of whom fail upwards until they head a company, school– or, in this case, nation–and drive it directly into the ground. 

But while most American Failsons are hazards only to the small number of people in their circles, the President of the United States can wield his power to harm millions of people at a stroke. 

This is why Trump’s Covid diagnosis on either Wednesday (according to his doctor) or Friday (according to the White House) and subsequent hospitalization has been such a contentious issue on the left. The entire point of being liberal is empathy, justice, and fairness. Half of us are enjoying the spectacle of poetic justice unfolding before our eyes while half of us are scolding those people for not being “better than conservatives,” who cheered when Hillary Clinton developed pneumonia during the 2016 campaign and laughed when Trump mocked her for falling ill. 

Trump has repeatedly undermined and attacked pandemic experts, mocked masks, lied about the seriousness of the illness, lied about the contagiousness of the illness, lied about his response to the illness, lied about the number of American deaths, lied about the number of American cases, lied about every aspect of testing. At every turn he has not only lied about the seriousness of the pandemic but also belittled, mocked, and undermined those who took the pandemic seriously and instructed his administration and supporters to do the same 

So when he was diagnosed with Covid and then developed such serious symptoms so quickly he was medevaced to Walter Reed, there was a certain “I told you so” satisfaction on the left. Whether he recovers quickly or worsens, the fact remains that he has very much been hoist by his own petard. 

A meme that states "Hoisted by my own Picard" with an image of Jean-Luc Picard face-palming.

His lies and inaction have cost this country 210,000 lives. And even if you’re a complete lunatic and believe the bizarre conservative spin that it’s actually 6% of that, it’s still 12,600 people dead. He destroyed the crops and salted the fields, then mocked the people for rationing food and begging for help. Now he’s starving, and it’s perfectly understandable to feel some satisfaction at the poetic justice. 

Those on the left who are enjoying the fact that Herod tripped and fell on his own sword during the Massacre of the Innocents are being roundly scolded by people who are claiming we should be “better” and “wish him well” and “not wish illness on others.” As Stephen Robinson writes in Wonkette, you don’t have to feel sorry for Donald Trump. 

A news story by Rebecca Knight entitled "Man Shouts 'Fuck That Alligator,' Jumps Into Lake And Is Killed By Alligator," accompanied by a photo of the man in a straw cowboy hat and sunglassses drinking a beer.

Trump has actively sought to harm an enormous number of people in our nation. He believes wholeheartedly in the conservative principle that there’s an in-group the law protects but does not bind, and an out-group the law binds but does not protect. Liberals oppose this by insisting that all should be treated equally before the law. Those are the two most important functional differences between the right and the left.

The left is, especially today, largely made up of marginalized people. Women, BIPOC, people with disabilities, LGBTQ people, and religious minorities are all more likely to vote left than right. The only major voting bloc implacably loyal to the GOP is white men. The right is even losing support among white evangelical women. The typical Republican today has an intersectional identity that combines several groups with cultural privilege, and the party is focused solely on shoring up and maintaining that privilege as marginalized groups make incremental– but definite–gains in the fight for equity. 

News article entitled,"Trump supporter shoots himself through the groin in an attempt to 'trigger liberals'"
The Facebook group “Pointing Guns at [B]enis” exists to mock people in favor of gun safety by posting pictures of members pointing loaded guns at their genitalia with their fingers on the trigger and the safety off. Read more here.

The GOP has been relentlessly, aggressively pushing to erode legal and cultural progress made by marginalized groups. The Trump Administration has rolled back protections for every single marginalized group in this nation. At this moment, the Trump Administration is:

*Suing to eliminate the ACA, abruptly canceling health insurance for 20 million Americans, ending all protections for pre-existing conditions, and reinstating discrimination against LGBTQ patients

*Attempting to ban diversity training; they’ve banned any diversity training that mentions “systemic racism” or “privilege” in any arm of the federal government, and have announced that they will no longer do business with any company that uses such trainings, or fund any nonprofits that use such trainings

*Reversing 100 environmental rules, dismantling most of the climate protections the federal government has put in place

*Attempting to end Social Security by defunding it; unlike liberals who come right out and say “defund the police,” when the GOP wants to defund something, they call it a “tax cut” and eliminate its funding source

*Attempting to eliminate funding for public schools that are using distance learning during the pandemic, and divert that funding to private and religious schools– including online conservative Christian homeschooling companies

And that’s just off the top of my head. 

People aren’t just celebrating Trump and his administration (29 people in and around the White House at the time of this writing) experiencing the poetic justice of falling ill with a virus they denied, lied about, and ignored while Americans suffered and died. 

People aren’t just celebrating the fact that the superspreader event appears to be the Amy Coney Barrett nomination party, and that defying Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dying wish has brought her Fruma Sarah vengeance down upon them. 

Jess Dweck tweets, "Thank you to RBG for teaching young girls that they too can grow up to become fearsome specters who rain vengeance down upon those who dare disobey their dying wish."
IF TZEITEL MARRIES LAZAR WOOOOLF

People are celebrating the fact that people who have been relentlessly, aggressively pursuing every possible avenue to harm them  are temporarily sidelined. I don’t think anyone wishes death on Trump– least of all those of us who feel certain that Pence would have a much better chance of beating Biden than Trump does– but seeing him sidelined is, without question, a welcome sight. 

This isn’t about seeing your enemies suffer– that implies that both parties are on equal footing. This is survivors’ laughter, the laughter of relief, the laughter that comes when the killer runs out of bullets, when the Nazi is tricked into ignoring the basement, when the lava stops just at your feet. This is the laughter of a temporary reprieve from destruction. We know we’re not out of the woods just yet. We know there is so much more work to do. But the Bad Guys just tripped and stumbled while they were chasing us, and it’s a moment worth enjoying.

Want more? Become a Bitter Gertrude Patreon patron!

Tagged , , ,