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Sunday, October 23, 2022

As the U.S. 2022 midterm elections approach,

everyone would do well to read this bracing, timely book.
As a journalist, I have written books and lengthy magazine stories about the Republican Party for over two decades. Though I’ve done my best not to shade these accounts, I must confess that they’ve tended to bear the telltale influence of my father, a lifelong Republican.

At his best, Bob Draper epitomized the GOP’s best. He was an optimist and a man who went by the facts while following the guidance of his Christian faith. He trusted individuals while nurturing a healthy suspicion of authority figures. He was immune to cultism. He would not dream of cheating to get ahead or of blaming someone else for his shortcomings. And though I’m sure he viewed his life trajectory—marine, taxpayer, capitalist, family man, community servant—as that of an American patriot, he never once felt the need to say so, or to assert that someone who voted differently from him—as his wife of sixty-four years nearly always did—was therefore a socialist, a traitor, or human scum…

This book focuses primarily on the eighteen-month period after the Trump presidency when—if my father could have had his way—the defeated GOP would have obligingly retreated to its traditional mooring and, after due penance, sought to reclaim its valor as a party tethered to reason. Except, of course, that is not at all what happened.

What occurred instead is that the Republican Party plunged deeper into a Trumpian cult of compulsive dissembling and conspiracy mongering. It fell hostage to the party’s most fevered extremists, self-described “patriots” who habitually characterized their ideological opponents on the other side of the aisle as communists, traitors, and terrorists. It became anti-civility, anti-science, anti–law and order. It ostracized the few Republicans willing to upbraid the party’s descent into madness. Its leaders ceased to lead. Its longtime legislators—the “adults in the room,” establishment regulars, favorites on the K Street fundraising circuit—meekly receded into their tornado shelters, assuring themselves that the storm would pass soon. Meanwhile, its Democratic adversaries mostly abandoned the usual victor’s schadenfreude, instead regarding the Republicans with astonishment and outright fear.

In short, the Republican Party lost its mind. The mass migration from Reagan’s “Morning in America” to Trump’s “Make America Great Again” to the former president’s wild-eyed “Save America” is one in which the usual partisan differences gave way to an existential call to arms. Given that America has organized its entire governing system around the presumption of two healthy political parties, the GOP’s growing commitment to a funhouse-mirror version of reality would seem to represent a threat to the nation’s democratic experiment.

The period I chronicle here constitutes a moment when the this is not normal fretfulness accompanying the seemingly anomalous Trump era metastasized into this is dangerous and is not going away. Evidence of this alarming development would crop up across the country and throughout the greater Republican Party, from Florida to Washington state, from GOP presidential aspirants down to local precinct chairpersons. But the tension between the party’s reality-based wing and the lost-its-mind wing would most acutely reveal itself within the 211-member Republican Conference, the minority party in the U.S. House of Representatives.

This narrative therefore focuses in particular on the key actors in the House GOP at a moment of reckoning for the party. It is a moment I viewed mostly at close range—beginning with the morning of January 6, 2021.

Draper, Robert. Weapons of Mass Delusion (pp. xv-xvi). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
This book jumped my queue. I was deep into two books on Constitutional Law, and two on trial law procedure.
All of it goes to my abiding Jones regarding "Democracy and Deliberation Science."

I could hardly put Robert's book down. Eye-opening, infuriating, and depressingly worrisome, given what may be facing us shortly. Wonderfully written. Highly recommended.

apropos,  my episodic irascible 2 cents.

In the Epilogue, Robert Draper wraps up,
Amid the tangled threads of American life, only one strand, straight and true, stood out: evil. It was omnipresent, stable, and oddly stabilizing, a kind of dark lodestar to measure one’s worth against. So long as there was evil, there was righteousness. Identify evil, and the details did not matter. Facts did not matter. Lying was  justified. Theft was justified. Cruelty was justified. Violence was justified. In the never-ending war against evil, you could do no wrong.

As Marjorie Taylor Greene’s former leader had almost done, and as her future leader promised to do, you could “blow the place up.”
[Draper, pp. 363-364]
Read it. Then make sure you cast your votes.
Really way past sick of all this stuff.
14 days to the 2022 midterms.
The Desecrations of Michael Flynn
The former national security adviser is fusing deranged political ideas with a mangled version of the Christian faith.
A prayer at a “ReAwaken America” event in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, a few days ago, at which Michael Flynn appeared, captured the sensibilities of this moment: “Father God, we come to you in the name of Jesus. We’re asking you to open the eyes of President Trump’s understanding, that he will know the time of divine intervention. He will know how to implement divine intervention. And you will surround him, Father, with none of this deep-state trash, none of this RINO trash. You surround him, people that you pick, with your own mighty hand. In the name of Jesus”…

Flynn didn’t just claim that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump; he floated the idea of having Trump declare martial law and try to “rerun” the election. He suggested that the president should seize voting machines. And he said that the election involved “probably the greatest fraud that our country has ever experienced in our history.” At an event in Arizona last month, Flynn said, “Did you know that a governor can declare war? A governor can declare war. And we’re going to probably see that.”

Flynn has also asserted that COVID-19 was unleashed intentionally by global elitists in order to “rule the world,” “control humanity,” and “steal an election.” He has warned about the dangers of a “new world order” in which people such as Bill Gates, George Soros, and World Economic Forum Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab “have an intent to track every single one of us, and they use it under the skin. They use a means by which it’s under the skin.”

But it doesn’t end there. In a video deposition for the House committee investigating January 6, Republican Representative Liz Cheney asked this question of Flynn: “Do you believe the violence on January 6 was justified morally?” To which he responded, “Take the Fifth.” Cheney then asked, “Do you believe the violence on January 6 was justified legally?” Flynn responded, “Fifth.” And then Cheney asked this question of the former general: “Do you believe in the peaceful transition of power in the United States of America?”

“The Fifth,” Flynn replied.

“It was a surreal moment,” The Atlantic’s Barton Gellman wrote. “Here was a retired three-star general and former national security adviser refusing to opine on the foundational requirement of a constitutional democracy”… 
This stuff is not funny. 

 Sometimes, the lyrics just write themselves.

Gosar and Gohmert,
Boebert and Greene,
A neuron between them?
It remains to be seen.
Marjorie Taylor,
The QAnon Wailer,
Where She Go One
She Go All.

Loose Cannon Steve Bannon
Ain’t changin’ his shirts.
You can shove your subpoena
Right up where it hurts.
America’s Mayor
All drunk on his butt.
Is this a Great Country,

Weapons of Mass Delusion,
MAGA cult WMD.
Caught up in crass confusion,
Intifada behind ev’ry tree.
Weapons of Mass Delusion,
Don’t need us no danged evidence.
No need of our senses, we
Ain’t mendin’ no fences,
We still wanna hang ol’ Mike Pence.

Boebert and Gohmert,
Greene and Gosar,
Don’t forget JD Vance of
Hillbilly Ishtar.
And, the MyPillowGuy
Gots some packets for you,
If them Jewish Space Lasers
Won’t do.

Weapons of Mass Delusion,
MAGA brand WMD.
Nothin’ but crass confusion,
Just the price of the Land of the Free.
Ev’rybody, now:
“Let’s Go, Brandon,”
Aren’t y’all proud as can be?
Weapons of Mass Delusion,
MAGA cult WMD.

Words & Music by Bobby Gladd
Copyright © 2022, All Rights Reserved

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