The Witness Chronicles November 8, 2023
The scary reality behind House Speaker Johnson, the horror in Israel and Gaza, and chaos is coming and it’s the GOP plan in 2024
2023 is nearly over and the days are whisking by, bringing us to the spectre of 2024, a year that could mark the failure of the American democracy. Too dramatic? Are you paying attention?
It’s going to be a rough ride and the Republican Party wants it that way. Trump has troubles and may be cracking up in front of our eyes, so a major smokescreen of conspiracies, lies, and just plain craziness is starting to appear.
In the recent issue of The Grasshopper, I questioned the safety of even a no name critic like me if Trump and his legions are elected. It’s not totally paranoid to consider how free speech could be severely limited and even punished by a leader who sees it all as personal attacks.
It’s hard to say how the unending court appearances will affect Trump’s popularity. Will the American voters remember why we have laws and limits on power? I’d like to think so but my optimism is wearing thin.
Meanwhile, a similar flavor of politics is playing out in Israel as Bibi Netanyahu tries to save his political career by profiting from the Hamas horror and letting loose the dogs of war. Unfortunately they are feasting on children and other innocents as Hamas hides like rats in their holes.
I can’t take sides. The entire situation is another example of just how brutal humans can be.
MAGA Mike is Far Worse Than We Thought
A very un-Christian self-proclaimed true Christian
The party once known as the Republican Party or the Grand Old Party, proved last week how low they could go, and they went right down into the depths, dredging up an apparently harmless guy and giving him enormous power.
And every day since Mike Johnson was anointed Speaker of the House, the layers started peeling away and we are finding they gave power to a serious lunatic, a fanatic hater, and a twisted Christian who pounds a bible and tells us everything he believes in can be found there.
He seems to have found all the dark corners. He not only hates LGBQT people and finds them the source of all evil, he actually ran a gay conversion clinic several years ago. And he bragged that his wife had spent the last three weeks on her knees praying for something or other.
Being a good wife, in other words.
Then he proposed a bill to fund Israel but tied it to another provision crippling the IRS’s ability to go after rich tax cheats. That connection drew the wrath of Mitch McConnell and a bunch of Senate Republicans, who understand something about political reality and why we defend Ukraine (which Johnson doesn’t support).
This bone-headed move tells us everything we need to know about the degree of fanaticism that drives this guy. He is on a mission from God, always a problem in a profession that relies on common sense and compromise.
Why not piss off the leadership of your own party right from the get go? After all, God has his back and that’s all he needs. Take away the God stuff and he is a low rent MAGA zombie who thrives on being the only kind of person he likes.
When is the core of the Republican Party going to wake up and realize just how nuts all this stuff is? They are kneecapping the entire country for no discernible reason and giving scum like Matt Gaetz, who gave Johnson the MAGA Mike moniker, what he wants. Which is chaos and publicity, not anything that moves the country to a better place.
Johnson is a symptom and a very worrying one. It seems no one in his party even had any idea how far out he is, given that all 217 Republican House Members voted for him when he was a convenient nobody.
Now he turns out to be a powerful somebody, in the worst possible way, and at the worst possible time in recent history. This week we are seeing all the signs of a region-wide war in the Middle East combined with an impending shutdown of the US government, the only stabilizing force in that emerging conflict.
It is simply impossible to imagine that there is not a core of reasonable Republican House Members who can revolt against this insanity. They exist in the Senate but there seems to be little communication or agreement between these two wings of the same party.
The cliche that fits well here is the lunatics taking over the asylum, led by a distant leader who in between court appearances is cheering them on, knowing they make a great smokescreen for his failing political and financial life.
The irony of a godless man like Trump being worshiped by god-fearing Evangelical Christians like Mike Johnson would be priceless if it wasn’t so terrifyingly awful.
How low can we go? Apparently there are depths beyond our imagination and the Republican Party, in its disgrace, is more than willing to go there.
And they talk about draining the swamp. It has become their favored territory.
“Everybody is Dying, Nobody is Safe”
The words of a dual American-Palestinian citizen at the border
The winds of war are shifting. Israel has finally invaded Gaza on the ground after something like 7000 missile and bombing aerial strikes. We’ve all seen the unimaginable destruction, the body bags, the stunned children.
And in Israel, just a month or so after the horrific terrorist atrocities by Hamas that began on October 7th, the people are still stunned, and angry. Obviously angry at Hamas- that will never be forgotten or forgiven.
If you are connected to Hamas, you’re a dead person walking. And should be.
But Israelis aren’t just angry at Hamas. They are angry about the massive intelligence failure that simply didn’t see the attacks coming, somehow missing a multi-pronged major attack, obviously planned for a long time and involving thousands of fanatics.
The Israeli intelligence service, Mossad, considered by many to be the best in the world, failed. Why, will be argued for years. But the focus is beginning to zero in on a man who desperately needed a war to bring the military back into his camp, at least for the moment.
Israel is angry with Bibi Natanyahu. Many observers don’t see him lasting much longer. There’s just too much anger and too much death. And fear on both sides. Existential fear. Israel is using the most extreme blunt force to flush out Hamas.
Hamas hides in hundreds of miles of tunnels, many running under facilities like hospitals and refugee camps, by intent. Bunker buster bombs are targeting these terrorists but the collateral damage is horrifying the world and it is being televised.
There is no water, energy, or fuel in Gaza. Internet and cell coverage is intermittent. Some food is getting in but whether it reaches those who need it most is unknown. As of yesterday, a few injured Gazans are getting into Egypt along with foreign nationals, like the woman quoted in my title.
She, with an American accent, but a Palestinian with dual citizenship, is torn about leaving despite the horror of it all. She leaves friends and family with no similar options. It’s easy to imagine she shares this personal conflict with many others.
The word horror has been used too many times in this opinion/observation. The writer in me is too acutely aware of that and it is not an accident. As an American without a personal connection to either side, I watch the ripple effects here in a country intimately tied to the fate of Israel, but also horrified by the total destruction being rained down by the IDF on Gaza.
Who can’t be horrified when they claim their attacks on refugee areas, killing dozens, including many children (half the population of Gaza are children), are justified because they allegedly killed a Hamas leader, buried somewhere deep beneath the ground and the rubble.
Is it a legitimate trade off? Not for me, but what do I know other than the horror (yes, again) of tiny body bags displayed on the news. What is real? What is important? What is justified? Who determines those answers?
And this one: what is the end game, the desired outcome? No one talks about that, no one. Bibi has said the war could last years but that may be because he thinks he will not be thrown out while it is being fought.
Cynical? Extremely. But war is the oldest political tactic out there. A pure terrorist organization like Hamas does not care about politics unless it gets in their way. They want to kill Jews until they no longer exist. Peace and prosperity do not matter, dead children do not matter.
And we, the US, find ourselves hovering above it with our carrier groups and unimaginable fire power, hoping we can keep a bigger powder keg from exploding. Biden is now calling for restraint by the Israelis while we try to get hostages out, Secretary of State Blinken is traveling back to the region to try and tamp down flames all over the Middle East.
And Bibi is hiding behind his bunker bombs and claims of success where nothing about it says success. And who stands as leader and spokesperson for the Palestinians? No one that anyone will talk to.
Everyone I know, regardless of where they stand on either side, wants this to stop, just to stop. The eyes for eyes have been shed, groups like Hamas are viruses in a society without hope, societies surrounded by nations with armies and modern weapons, weapons that cannot kill a virus.
And no one, no one is talking about how to end this horror.
The Chaos Strategy: A Scenario For 2024
How the right will tear normal apart
The signals are clear. House Republicans, led by MAGA Speaker Mike Johnson, have launched their assault on American politics. Start with this from Heather Cox Richardson:
“But, far from trying to work across the aisle, Johnson has been throwing red meat to his base. In the last two days, for example, the House has voted to slash 39% of the budget of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and 13% of the budget of the National Park Service. It voted to require the Biden administration to advance oil drilling off the Alaska coast. It has voted on reducing the salary of the EPA administrator, the director of the Bureau of Land Management, and the Secretary of the Interior to $1 each.”
Full post and citations here. This is just the environmental stuff their corporate owners hate. In case you haven’t been paying attention, climate change is by far the single greatest challenge humanity will face in any of our lifetimes.
While wasting our time and money on bills like these that will never pass, they have done nothing to ensure the government will not shut down on November 17th, just two weeks from now. And during those two weeks most of them will not even be around to do any of the work of the nation.
To me this signals what the Republican strategy will be for 2024, as their presumed candidate for President faces endless court trials and plans his own election denial, version 2, for next December.
They want us all arguing in a vortex of confusion, disagreement, anger, and yes, hatred- whatever it takes to further divide each one of us from our fellow citizens. Do they really care about passing their agenda?
They do not. They know this stuff is going nowhere. But it doesn’t matter because making these symbolic moves keeps the lobby money flowing, satisfies their MAGA voters, and keeps us all in a constant fight, while accomplishing nothing.
Chaos, in other words.
It’s genius in its own way and a natural extension of Trump’s overall approach to everything in life. He thrives in the muck and the fog. But for the country it’s a disaster.
This is how far they will go to put a seriously disturbed man in power again. And he is reportedly far into his plans to replace virtually every responsible position in government with his hand picked lackeys, basically creating a dictatorship.
The fact that none of this is a secret should tell you they think they can pull it off.
Is this an organized and planned strategy? I didn’t used to think so. They just seemed a little too manic and emotional, not unlike their leader, for this to be a long term plan for disrupting the country.
But now, with evidence emerging that the Trump camp is searching for attorneys who don’t care about the rule of law or the future of our democracy, it seems there is meaning behind this madness.
They know that the 2024 campaign is going to be a mishmash of Trump court appearances and his threats to everyone involved, swinging mud about Biden and any other Democrats, backstabbing amongst the Trump loyal, and increasingly open hatred against everyone from Jews to gays to people of color, and especially immigrants.
Immigrants, as we know, are the source of all evil in our country. Despite the fact that, aside from those of us who are true indigenous people*, we are all immigrants.
*I am an immigrant, German/Irish.
In the same piece by Heather Cox Richardson referenced above, she notes that a House member from Montana, Ryan Zinke, has introduced a bill to ban Palestinians from America and revoke visas from after October 1st of this year.
Not just Hamas-connected Palestinians, all Palestinians. You can count on similar measures targeting Muslims in general because we need to have an enemy that is easily identifiable. Another Trump tactic to stir up unthinking rage.
The rabid sponsors of these bills are well aware of what they are doing. As each extreme measure dies in the Senate or gets vetoed by Biden, they will claim more collusion against the American Way even as they work hard to destroy it.
On top of all this political ferment, they will shut down the government, just as we face a possible regional war in the Middle East. And another MAGA Senator, former football coach Tommy Tuberville, with no military experience, is single-handedly managing to stall the military in its tracks with his holds on promotions.
More chaos and another way to kneecap a military that would not do Donald Trump’s mindlessly dangerous bidding.
This is all a scary cauldron of steaming trouble for the Democrats and the nation. There is another scenario that could unravel it all and reveal these loons’ true intentions. Trump could fall to pieces mentally and/or physically.
The signs are already there. Endless crying of conspiracy, incoherent speeches, extreme paranoia extending to his own inner circle and even family, and the pressure of an unrelenting justice system bearing down on him, could cause him to crack.
But the question looms- would anyone notice? Would those in his cadre who saw it coming just keep pushing his agenda, knowing their guy was due for heavy meds and a straight jacket?
If history and human nature are our guides, the answer is definitely yes. Trump himself will ultimately be disposable once the Democratic system has been taken to pieces. It’s a dark scenario, but one that can be stopped.
These people cannot stand the light of day. They can be exposed for what they are and most will retreat because this is the path of cowardice. Darkness is always met with more darkness in the end. Hate just generates more hate and eventually consumes itself.
I have to believe that is true. But the great test is here.
Cheery, right? I try to balance my perspective but the news is pretty overwhelming right now, both at home and across the planet. Positive news is a little hard to find but I did read that the entire state of California has no drought for the first time in years.
Rain is very good news these days. Unless of course it inconveniently comes in a deluge. Then it’s bad.
The first two months of Daylight Savings Time are probably my least favorite time of year. Short days, incoming winter, and the pervasive darkness here in the northeast don’t help. But that time will pass quickly.
And hopefully the news will lighten up a little.
Did you write today?
Martin ‘doom and gloom’ Edic
~ I write The Grasshopper, a letter for creatives, The Witness Chronicles, a weekly digest of three of my articles on politics and climate, and The Remarkable, a recovery letter, about my addiction and reentry experience. All are weekly and free with a paid option to share support. Please check them out.
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