False Equivalencies, and Books That Cannot Exist

Items today:

  • Biden is old, but sane, while Trump is nuts;
  • Headlines about faith, book banning, and the Biden impeachment;
  • On the street push back from Fox News’ claims that big cities are hellholes;
  • What Trump means by “his people”;
  • How Republicans benefit the ultra-rich;
  • Robert Reich on what happened to the party of “limited government”;
  • And some music by Jason Hurwitz for the landing of Apollo 11.

Robert Reich, AlterNet, 27 Sep 2023: Trump is nuts — and his condition seems to be getting worse (Also posted here: Robert Reich, Substack, 27 Sep 2023: The worst of all the media’s false equivalences)

On a recent “Meet the Press,” the host explained that Trump and Biden are so close in the polls because they “both have significant liabilities with the American electorate.” What liabilities? “For Trump, they’re “the indictments and allegations of criminal wrongdoing,” said the host. For Biden? “His age.”

Whoa. Seeking to balance Trump’s criminal indictments against Biden’s age is the ultimate false equivalence. Biden is old. But so is Trump. They’re just three years apart. If Trump wins the presidency next year, he’ll be the oldest person ever elected to the White House.

But Trump is not facing nearly the same scrutiny for his age as is Biden. Yet Trump should be — especially when it comes to Trump’s mental competence.

Biden is sane. Trump is nuts — and his condition seems to be getting worse.


One more:

Salon, Amanda Marcotte, 27 Sep 2023: President Drink Bleach says what? Trump now claims he beat George W. Bush and Barack Obama, subtitled “Trump was already dumb, but he’s getting worse — yet MAGA doesn’t care. The press should cover his decline anyway.”

Donald Trump is skipping another GOP primary debate this week and the theories abound as to why. Some paint it as a smart strategy, setting his opponents to take each other apart while he sails into the presidential nomination. Others, including the right-wing editorial board at the Wall Street Journal, have accused Trump of being afraid to debate. But watching clips of some recent Trump speeches, I have a different theory: His team is worried Trump will start talking about how he bested Teddy Roosevelt in a bear-hunting competition, before trouncing the 26th president in the 1904 presidential election.

To be sure, Trump was never playing with a full deck. Never forget when he recommended bleach injections for “cleaning” COVID-19 from lungs. Lately, however, his brain functioning, as impossible as it may be to believe, seems even worse. He appears to believe he’s won every presidential election in the last two decades, instead of that one electoral college-based win against Hillary Clinton in 2016. During a campaign stop in South Carolina, Trump spun out a whole story about defeating a famous military leader named “Bush.”

“When I came here, everyone thought Bush was going to win,” he rambled, saying it was “because Bush supposedly was a military person.” Then he added, “He got us into the, uh, he got us into the Middle East. How did that work out, right?”


Just headlines:

Salon, Tatyana Tandanpolie, 27 Sep 2023: The GOP’s top “person of faith”: More Republicans think Trump is religious than Pence, Romney, subtitled “Poll: Fifty-three percent of Republicans surveyed said Trump was a person of faith”

Boing Boing, Jason Weisberger, 27 Sep 2023: Florida school district declares books with LBGTQ+ “characters and themes cannot exist”

Media Matters, 27 Sep 2023: Watch Greg Gutfeld abruptly end a segment after his co-host confronts him with the lack of evidence for a Biden impeachment


Fox News hosts are so committed to the narrative that big (blue) cities are hellholes, they don’t believe what people on the street in those cities actually say.

Salon, Gabriella Ferrignine, 28 Sep 2023: Fox News hosts bewildered after residents roast reporter: “Who are you getting your facts from?”, subtitled “A recent on-the-street interview conducted by Fox showed Seattle residents pushing back”

Fox News hosts were floored after a recent man-on-the-street interview with Seattle, Washington residents seemed to indicate that they were unconcerned about alleged drug use and crime.

“The arrogance and the ignorance of Seattle residents that Johnny interviewed is shocking,” said “The Five” co-host Jeanne Pirro in reaction to a clip of Johnny Belisario, an associate producer on “Jesse Watters Primetime,” this week. “I mean, how could they be clueless?”

Belisario interviewed numerous people who seemed to mock the premise of his questions on crime and homelessness in the city.

“Who are you getting these facts from?” one person pushed back on Fox News.


NY Times, Charles M. Blow, 27 Sep 2023: Opinion: When Trump Says ‘People,’ He Means ‘His People’

The writer recalls the author Toni Morrison responding to a review, and comparing that to Donald Trump’s recent behavior.

On Sunday, Trump posted on Truth Social, claiming Comcast, MSNBC’s owner, and “others of the LameStream Media” will be “thoroughly scrutinized” because they are “THE ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE” who should pay “for what they have done to our once great Country.”

“The people” here means his people, the only worthy and legitimate people, the only ones worth defending because they are the only ones defending him. When he says “our once great country,” he means the country when it most benefited those most devoted to him, at a time when the racial hierarchy was more fixed, the patriarchy was more entrenched, immigrant communities were often whiter and gender identities were more rigid.

There’s a reason Trump never attempted to govern as a unifier and isn’t running for re-election as one. Instead, he’s deepening his attachment with loyalists. He wants to reshape America into a nation where his will rules, the law is his tool to punish others and he is exempt from punishment — where his throngs are rewarded for their adoration.

It isn’t as simple as saying that Trump wants to drag the country backward. He wants to do something far more destructive: He wants to marry the country’s more intolerant past to a more autocratic future. He wants to bend his brand of straight white male nationalism into a kind of totalitarianism.

The piece ends thusly:

This is, I believe, why Trump maintains strong support even as his legal troubles grow: He has been unflinchingly loyal to one portion of the body politic, and his followers are simply reciprocating.

They don’t worry about Trump torching the country if he’s re-elected, because they believe that they will frolic in the ashes. They believe that whatever benefits Trump will eventually benefit them. Trump has deceived his people into believing in trickle-down tyranny.


Of course, we’ve known this all along.

Washington Post, Greg Sargent, 28 Sep 2023: Opinion | New data on ultra-rich tax cheats wrecks the ‘working-class GOP’ ruse

Republicans have been amplifying the claim lately that their party has undergone a “populist” makeover, rendering it both anti-elite and pro-working class. One way Republicans purport to illustrate this is by attacking President Biden’s expanded funding for the Internal Revenue Service, insisting that it empowers a strike force of bureaucrats to prey on ordinary Americans.

But new data on tax avoidance by the ultrarich badly undermines GOP claims to being an anti-elite, pro-worker party. It shows that if Republicans get their way with regard to the IRS, a nontrivial number of very rich Americans would continue to underpay taxes they owe, effectively making out like bandits — some literally so.

Nearly 1,000 tax filers who earn more than $1 million per year have still not filed federal tax returns for at least one year from 2017 to 2020, according to IRS data provided to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

What’s more, the 2,000 people who represent the highest-income non-filers in one or more of those years owe a total of more than $900 million in federal taxes, the data shows.

“These are people who essentially blow raspberries at the IRS,” Wyden told me. “They’re sophisticated people. They know this is wrong, wrong, wrong. And they do it anyway.”

The data underscores that when the IRS is underfunded, wealthy tax cheats benefit in a big way. An underfunded IRS is what Republicans are advocating for.

Wealthy people support Republicans, because Republicans support laws that keep the wealthy, wealthy. And stay in power by pandering to social conservatives, and throwing them a bone now and then (like the repeal of Roe), while mainly concerned with reducing taxes on the wealthy. This has been obvious for decades.


Robert Reich on Facebook (video): What Happened to the Party of Limited Government?

He quotes Ronald Reagan’s perhaps most infamous comment — “Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem.” Reagan famously had issues with the IRS during his acting career, which led to simplistic, blanket statements like this.


Republicans have a particular ideology and are determined to impose that ideology on citizens holding different values. This isn’t about freedom, either. Just the opposite: It’s Republicans denying people their freedoms.


Let’s do another YouTube video. This is the striking theme from the movie First Man, about the Apollo 11 landing on the Moon, the scene where the lander lands, music by Jason Hurwitz.

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