The stakes are high.

Well, this isn’t alarming at all, is it:

Donald J. Trump and his allies are planning a sweeping expansion of presidential power over the machinery of government if voters return him to the White House in 2025, reshaping the structure of the executive branch to concentrate far greater authority directly in his hands.

Their plans to centralize more power in the Oval Office stretch far beyond the former president’s recent remarks that he would order a criminal investigation into his political rival, President Biden, signaling his intent to end the post-Watergate norm of Justice Department independence from White House political control.

Mr. Trump and his associates have a broader goal: to alter the balance of power by increasing the president’s authority over every part of the federal government that now operates, by either law or tradition, with any measure of independence from political interference by the White House, according to a review of his campaign policy proposals and interviews with people close to him.

That’s a gift link, and I encourage you to read it. It details, with receipts, exactly what the velociraptor wing of American politics plans to do with their puppet king. It’s grim.

And you know what? I hate to keep sounding the alarm on this, I really do. I absolutely despise having this stuff in my head, and I despise even more knowing that it’s not limited to Trump. If he strokes out taking his morning dump tomorrow, this will apply to whoever steps into his lifted shoes. I’d much rather be musing about summer movies – Team Barbie here – than this, but like they’re always braying at us, freedom isn’t free. I only wish we had a deeper bench, and a younger quarterback.

What a way to start the week.

Oh, and if you’re a lurking Trump fan, here’s your guy:

What would it have taken to say, “I’m sorry, but I haven’t been briefed on that. Give my staff some time, and I’ll have a better answer soon.” Character, that’s what. But this guy is such a natural-born liar that he just can’t stop himself.

Meanwhile, RFK Jr., that croaking fucker:

“COVID-19. There is an argument that it is ethnically targeted. COVID-19 attacks certain races disproportionately … COVID-19 is targeted to attack Caucasians and Black people. The people who are most immune are Ashkenazi Jews and Chinese … We don’t know whether it was deliberately targeted or not but there are papers out there that show the racial or ethnic differential and impact.”

…I’ve seen a number of Kennedy fans, a few of them Jewish, defending these remarks because, they argue, he doesn’t specifically claim that someone deliberately engineered COVID to spare Jews. He just says that there’s “an argument” that it was targeted. But, who knows? Maybe it’s just a coincidence. Again, many people are saying …

…Kennedy also makes the general remark that China and the U.S. are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on “ethnically targeted bioweapons,” as though this is a given, even if his other claims about sparing the Jews may be surprising to some people. I can’t claim to know just what the U.S. or China are or are not doing in what are presumably secret programs. But I’ve been around DC and the national security chatosphere long enough to know bullshit at a distance. Again, I can’t know. Great Powers likely study or consider all sorts of crazy stuff at some hypothetical level. But this kind of talk is generally the fantasy or agitprop of warmongers and xenophobes. I mentioned earlier the factitious nature of Kennedy’s speech. He routinely peppers his comments with “there are papers” or “I could show you papers.” But these papers either don’t exist or don’t show anything remotely like what he claims. In this case he mentions a paper which supposedly backed all this up but which actually notes broadly that some viruses could have differential presentations in different ethnic groups.

Grrr. Monday! I ask you!

Posted at 2:10 pm in Current events |

26 responses to “The stakes are high.”

  1. Alan Stamm said on July 17, 2023 at 2:20 pm

    A republic . . . if we can keep it.

    49 chars

  2. Jeff Borden said on July 17, 2023 at 3:08 pm

    We’re in a heap o’ trouble.

    Conservatives have always trended toward authoritarianism, but this would take it to an entirely new level. Look to Hungary and Turkey as QOP exemplars. One man rule. All facets of society under his control: courts, schools, media, science and military.

    There are plenty of right-wing billionaires who’d love this. And tens of millions of sheeple who’ll countenance anything to “own the libs,” including the destruction of our democracy.

    471 chars

  3. Jason T. said on July 17, 2023 at 4:17 pm

    There are plenty of right-wing billionaires who’d love this. And tens of millions of sheeple who’ll countenance anything to “own the libs,” including the destruction of our democracy.

    Worse, there are tens of millions of Good Germans … er, Good Americans … who will fall in line in the name of maintaining “civility” and “normalcy.”

    372 chars

  4. Deborah said on July 17, 2023 at 4:42 pm

    I want to see Oppenheimer before Barbie, but Barbie is definitely on the list. Oppenheimer was filmed nearby so I want to see what I can recognize plus it has an all star cast and the trailers look good. We have reserved tickets for it Saturday evening in Santa Fe because we figured it will be very popular here. They’ve announced that there will be nuclear weapons protestors around the theater where it’s playing. The archdiocese of Santa Fe are protesting too. I imagine it will be a zoo at the theater in Los Alamos.

    My husband and I are back in Santa Fe for the night because he leaves for Chicago tomorrow morning for a meeting later in the week. I can’t tell you how good it feels to be in a place that has trees, shade and even still flowers despite the heat. The woman watering our plants has been doing an excellent job, only 3 of our lavender plants have fried. LB is back at the pet/house sit in Abiquiu where it will be 100º today and tomorrow, then on Thursday supposedly the monsoons start so it will cool down a slight bit and maybe the plants there can be revived (dream on). That pet/house sitting gig has turned out to be quite the challenge, the animals are great except they’re both long hair and LB has allergies. I vacuumed yesterday and expected to fill the new bag completely. LB takes Zyrtec before and during every pet sit but because the AC is on for the ungodly heat, the windows can’t be open. We have 3 more weeks of this sit gig and it’s already sooooo old. I’m afraid they’re going to call and say they have to stay longer because their daughter hasn’t even had her baby yet. It will be hard to say no but we will have to for our sanity.

    1675 chars

  5. David C said on July 17, 2023 at 6:17 pm

    It just proves how stupid as fuck billionaires are. tRump would give them the same deal Putin gave the Russian oligarchs. Half for you, half for me. Pay up or fall out a window. Just as likely, pay up and still fall out a window or worse. The son of a bitch wants to be Kim Jong-un. Put a bunch of people against a wall and fire a missile at them. They thought they could control him the first time out. What makes them think they can in a re-run. Fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.

    528 chars

  6. Jeff Borden said on July 17, 2023 at 7:21 pm

    I’m greatly troubled by this bullshit “No Labels” group, which has many conservative donors. Naturally, Joe Manchin is toying with running as an indy in 2024 with all that moolah behind him and Jon Huntsman, too. I’d love to see our country have several viable political parties as in most other countries. But this is a potemkin movement. Stopping that cancerous hemorrhoid from returning to the Oval Office is Job One. This won’t help.

    437 chars

  7. alex said on July 17, 2023 at 8:27 pm

    Saw something today on the dumb MSN newsfeed on my computer at work that made me momentarily optimistic, but then it struck me that if it isn’t being reported anywhere else it’s probably bullshit.

    It was a headline that said the Orange Turd and Giuliani sold all of those presidential pardons for millions apiece. I should think that would land them both in the hoosegow. Please oh please oh please God.

    410 chars

  8. Julie Robinson said on July 17, 2023 at 8:52 pm

    I dunno, I think he’d just say it made good business sense and his people would nod their heads. A beautiful profit, the very best profit.

    We had a great experience last night hosting a quartet of overseas visitors as part of a State Department program. Our daughter’s been participating for several years but this was our first time. It’s very simple, you just make a meal and invite them over for conversation. They were from Portugal, Palau, South Africa, and Slovenia. Three are attorneys and one a policeman; all four are working against human trafficking. As you can guess, they had stories to make your toes curl. I was in awe of them all.

    649 chars

  9. alex said on July 17, 2023 at 9:59 pm

    Julie, any good dirt on Melania from Slovenia? I realize she was trafficking herself but still I would assume there’s a compelling government interest in saving women from a fate like hers.

    189 chars

  10. Julie Robinson said on July 17, 2023 at 10:14 pm

    Haha, Alex, didn’t ask. She was very young and soft spoken, probably feeling shy. The woman from South Africa talked the most, especially about the continuing prevalence of polygamy under the guise of respecting tribal traditions. They have civil marriages (first wife) and customary marriages (subsequent wives), and they all stink for women.

    343 chars

  11. Dexter Friend said on July 18, 2023 at 2:24 am

    All these plans regarding what Trump would do in term II are true. With no possible re-election worries, he and his ilk would savage all checks and balances.
    Trump presently is saying he is a martyr for us, the people. As Christ on the cross took death upon himself for our sins, Trump is taking all these indictments, impeachments, and general attacks such as sedition and espionage and obstruction of justice x infinity for us. Yes, we…we the people, Trump is our savior. Well we’ll see today, won’t we? Trump sucking up to Judge Cannon already, praising her ahead of time, thinking just that will work. Yeah, we’ll see. Jack Smith is pressing hard for a trial this year, which is not happening, the lawyers I watch say. But Trump cannot delay this forever. We need indictments and a really speedy trial and a prison van and shackles and a large-waist prison jumper for subject #1. That bastard liar.

    911 chars

  12. Jim said on July 18, 2023 at 4:06 am

    Dictatorship in progress .

    26 chars

  13. FDChief said on July 18, 2023 at 8:29 am

    So…is anyone surprised by any of this GQP fucktardry?

    The “conservative” ideal has always been dictatorship. Whether it’s the dictatorship of a king, or of a mullah or pope or some other heirophant, or of a party as it was in Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia or as in our current problem, the only way you’re going to get We the People to go along is with one hand on the whip. Propaganda only gets you so far.

    And the only way you can get these sorts of people off your neck is…well, do the math. If they’re willing to rule you with force, how willing will they be to respect your miserable little “vote”?

    I know I keep banging this drum. But all these Tales of Trump Terror have a moral, and it’s not “let’s debate whether gay people should exist”.

    It’s the same one that ended in a pillar of fire over Dresden.

    I don’t like that. I don’t want that. But if it has to be that or a New Gilded Age?

    Then fiat justicia ruat coelam.

    976 chars

  14. nancy said on July 18, 2023 at 9:08 am

    Julie, I’d be interested in a safe-to-share version of the trafficking stories. I’m afraid this “Sound of Freedom” movie is sucking the oxygen out of the room for a very complex story.

    184 chars

  15. Jeff Borden said on July 18, 2023 at 11:43 am

    A slight –very slight– counterpoint to the terrifying New York Times story about tRump’s plans to destroy democracy by emulating Erdogan and Orban is this piece by Jennifer Rubin on the cratering candidacy of the vertically-challenged little culture warrior down in the steaming hell of Floriduh. When you’re being compared to Scott Walker and Jeb Bush…when you’re burning through cash like Donald Jr. goes through cocaine. . .when big money donors are seriously scrutinizing an evangelical goofball like Sen. Tim Scott. . .you are fucked. Couldn’t happen to a more deserving piece of shit. We’re still in big trouble, but at least this whiny, petty, ignorant shit won’t be going far.

    784 chars

  16. Randy said on July 18, 2023 at 11:59 am

    We have an emerging Trump here in Canada. Pierre Poilevre, leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, the current opposition party. He’s young, savvy, and articulate, making him all the more dangerous.

    He operates off a slightly different playbook. He rejects the very notion of climate change, even as 900 wildfires burn here in Canada, sending toxic smoke throughout North America. He mocks carbon taxes, saying the “little guy” bears the brunt of this “regressive” policy.

    He endorses “Straight Pride” because as we know, heterosexuals have had to closet themselves for so long.

    He will be our Prime Minister at some point, and he’ll be fiddling while Rome burns.

    677 chars

  17. Deborah said on July 18, 2023 at 12:55 pm

    Somewhere in the middle east the heat index was 152º. But no, of course there’s no such thing as climate change. I’m very much freaking out about climate.

    Our Jeep has been parked in Abiquiu out in the blistering sun for a week now and it smells like something crawled up in it and died. A critter looking for shade or something probably. We’ve looked under the hood and everywhere we possibly can, but there are so many nooks and crannies that are impossible to see into. I’m spraying disinfectant into the air system, the way I read on google in case it’s just funky AC crap. If anyone has any advice please let me know, I’d appreciate it.

    In Santa Fe our car lives in a garage, doesn’t have to fry outside. Another reason I can’t wait until this house/pet sit is over. They have a two car garage but they use it for an art studio and it’s full of mice. No cars can go in there.

    But the good news is Trump got a target letter for another upcoming indictment, this one about Jan 6.

    993 chars

  18. FDChief said on July 18, 2023 at 12:55 pm

    I think the important thing to get from the linked piece is that this isn’t as simple as “Fuhrer befehl, wir folgen!” no matter who the Leader is. Look at the names; this is the Party. This is Movement Conservatism, 2023-and-beyond.

    Which is entirely predictable; as I said above, the only way these jokers get the tax-and-regulation-free, queer-extermination, white-is-right Kyrgyzstan they dream of is through dictatorship. An Imperial President may be a softish sort-of dictatorship…but Augustus’ Senate met regularly and consuls were elected just like before. It’s just that the votes didn’t actually DO anything.

    So DeSantis, Trump, McConnell, Empty G…the head of the snake will be full of poison because that’s what venomous snakes do. A fer-de-lance is just as dangerous as a cobra.

    813 chars

  19. Jeff Gill said on July 18, 2023 at 1:19 pm

    Likely a deceased rodent who got up above the exhaust system, on top of the muffler or under the engine housing. If there’s someone who can get horizontal under the car and look up . . .

    FYI, I’m supposed to do a program at Ghost Ranch over Labor Day weekend. Still watching the hospice care situation I’m in cautiously, but the Los Alamos group was willing to take a chance and schedule me.

    392 chars

  20. Julie Robinson said on July 18, 2023 at 3:29 pm

    JeffG, I didn’t realize your FIL was in hospice now. Forgive me, I must have missed that.

    Deborah, the Car Guys who used to be on NPR would joke about the best solution to bad car smells: torching the thing. My sister’s car had that awful funky stink and we paid someone to detail it. Honestly, though, it still smelled. We sold it for peanuts to a college kid and I think he just rolled down the windows.

    Anyway, I just got back home and have only a partial answer to Nancy’s question, and a correction: I said one woman was from Slovenia and it was actually Slovakia. She was quiet and at the other end of the table, and all I caught is that she’s an attorney who works as a researcher, so is not out in the field.

    The South African woman is also an attorney who started with the police force and now works undercover. It seemed her emphasis was more on domestic trafficking, which is covered up by the lax laws on polygamy. It’s very easy to take a woman from another area or tribe and claim her as your wife. They have a legal category called customary for all wives after the first. Supposedly everyone agrees to it and she said that actually happens zero percent of the time.

    The Portuguese woman, also an attorney, spoke about men, women and children being smuggled in on boats from all over the world, and then often sent elswhere. It’s impossible to cover their long coastal area so they don’t even have accurate numbers. They all mentioned the hidden nature of the crimes as a major obstacle.

    The man from Palau is a police officer, who is, with one assistant, the entire anti-trafficking contingent for the island of 20,000. 17% of Palau’s population is from other countries, who on the books are brought for domestic work and then often put into sex work. He named the main countries they came from, but I only remember that the first entry on that list was the Philippines. Like Portugal, many arrive on boats under cover of darkness.

    All of them said not enough traffickers go to prison; too many just receive fines. All of them said how much they appreciate the high level of cooperation they get from the State Department. All of them said they didn’t experience a dip in quality during the previous administration.

    To the last two sentences I will add they are here for three weeks in a program paid for by the State Department. Next they go to St. Louis and then San Diego.

    We briefly discussed the movie, though none of us have seen it, and Sarah explained that the people who made it don’t necessarily have pure motives. I’ve seen chatter about it on Facebook from the usual MAGA crowd and have been resisting the urge to argue with them since it’s only an exercise in frustration.

    When I have time I’ll have to tell y’all about our farewell lunch today with our Hungarian friend.

    2828 chars

  21. Deborah said on July 18, 2023 at 5:01 pm

    Thanks Jeff, I’ll try to find someone who might scoot under the car and look around. I will obviously pay someone to do that, but finding that person will be challenging. I’m wondering if I can get a long stick and poke it around under there? Maybe I can just squirt the hose under there? It’s so ungodly hot with no shade, that I’m hoping the critter gets fried to pieces until it’s dust and blows away.

    We’ve managed to get the interior temp down below 80º right now because it’s clouding up which is a miracle.

    I would love to take a hike at Ghost Ranch, but no way that is happening for a while. Napping is about as active as it gets around here.

    658 chars

  22. David C said on July 18, 2023 at 5:10 pm

    I’d go to whatever garage you normally bring your Jeep for repair and have them put it on the lift and have a look. That’s probably the only way someone will be able to see all the horizontal surfaces under the car. You can try poking around but whatever it is will already be turning into goo so you’re going to want someone to be able to scrub it with detergent.

    364 chars

  23. David C said on July 18, 2023 at 5:28 pm

    Looks like Michigan will have to expand the geriatric wing of Jackson State Prison to hold fake electors.

    192 chars

  24. Jim said on July 18, 2023 at 5:57 pm

    Comic wisdom for the dopes who talk smack about Chicago:

    101 chars

  25. Jeff Borden said on July 18, 2023 at 7:03 pm


    I have found a response to those snarks. . .Some quick background, though.

    I’ve lived here for 34 years now –first in Lakeview and for the past 30 years in Lincoln Square– and I feel like a a real Chicagoan, if not a native. I’m a realist. Often, the city drives me nuts. The politicians are corrupt and ineffective, the cops are a mess, the schools need help, the gun violence is almost intolerable. . .yet the allures, the pleasures, the satisfactions it offers have been unparalleled for my wife and me. So, I feel like my residency has granted me the right to be pissed as hell about the bad shit and proud as hell of the good stuff. But when I hear some goober trashing my city –whether it’s a downstate dolt or some goober in Molehill, Mississippi– it irritates me.

    So, I’ve purchased a shirt with an eloquent message emblazoned on the chest: “Shut the fuck up about Chicago. You don’t live here.” I’ll probably never wear it in public, but it made me laugh and sums up outlook. Mine is a North Side version (Cubs motif) but there’s one for the South Side, too.

    1086 chars

  26. Jeff Gill said on July 20, 2023 at 11:24 am

    Julie, I’m using hospice as a shorthand; everyone agrees he would qualify, but he’s simply chosen to stop taking all meds but Tylenol and going to his last medical providers, the cardiologist for his 10 year old pacemaker, or the dentist who was trying to help him keep a few teeth with a complex plate last year. For those well meaning friends who say “you need to get him to his primary care doc and get hospice to help YOU,” two problems. One, his primary care doc retired seven-plus years ago.* For him to restart they’d require at least three sets of tests whose results I can tell you now, and it would be a misery for all concerned (as I’ve mentioned, in the last year and a half when he was still going to his coag clinic once a month to be tested for his warfarin, he got security called on him twice, a big part of why I quit my post-ministry job to move over here more than a couple days a week). And the the other problem is the upside for getting him into formal hospice — which I think will come, but only after he has some sort of accident that gets us to & thru an ER — right now all my traveling nurse friends from previous churches have confirmed: he’d get a home visit three times a week, which would check BP & his “condition,” and very likely opioid meds for pain. As it is, he self-medicates on Jack Daniels Cinnamon Whiskey (yes, I buy it for him); my nurse friends have all said, easing my conscience considerably, that if he took the oxycodone he’d likely qualify for, he’d be even more in a confused daze than he is. The whiskey-Tylenol mix is not great if you’re younger, but it probably gives him as a good a quality of life as he’s going to have now.

    So I’m helping him from the chair he sleeps in to the toilet and back a few times a day, cook him his soft foods (don’t even ask me about his teeth, o the horrors, but he refuses to go to dentist anymore, too), his twice a day Tylenol (he won’t even take it three times a day, which he could), and keep a full bottle within arm’s reach. It’s un-hospice. One day he will a) not wake up, his highest hope, b) fall on way to toilet or dinette, and I’ll call 911 and we work from there, or c) he can’t get up out of chair at all, and I call Shady Acres for an ambulette and let him curse me with what energy he has left.

    *If you recall the Subway guy who turned out to be a bit of a monster, the former family GP was his dad; by all accounts, a really nice guy. But he stopped working when the stories all broke and it just got awkward, or so we were told.

    2548 chars