By Charlie Barber
“Let’s you and him fight!” – The Coward’s Credo
“Liberty resides in no particular form of government, but in a free man’s own heart. He carries it with him wherever he goes…I laugh at those degraded people who, letting conspirators incite them to rise in arms, dare to speak of liberty, without having even a notion of what it is; who, with hearts a prey to all the vices of slaves, imagine that to be free they need only be rebels.” – J.J. Rousseau, 1762/1772
“Our (Hollywood’s) condition is that we have to take people’s own favorite folklore and dress it up and give it back to them. Anything beyond that is sugar.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Love of the Last Tycoon, 1941
“…societies (have) to choose between…reckoning and forgetting…Forgoing a reckoning after the George W. Bush presidency helped make the Trump presidency possible. Choosing to forget and move on from the Trump presidency would leave in place a Trumpist Republican Party…Public rituals of telling the stories of the Trump era…would create accountability and transparency, not necessarily by handing out criminal punishment but by exacting a reputational cost that might keep people who lied for Trump away from prestigious fellowships…; government and think tanks. More important, they would force us to ask the question, What made the Trump presidency possible? – Masha Gessen, Surviving Autocracy, 2021
“The point is that the relative freedom which we enjoy depends on public opinion. The law is no protection. Governments make laws, but whether they are carried out, and how the police behave, depends on the general temper of the country.” – George Orwell, Freedom of the Park, 1945
“Authoritarians don’t come to power alone. They come to power on the backs of men like (Congressman) Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). Men too weak to adhere to any principle. Too hungry for power to say or do what’s right. And too cowardly to tell the truth. We deserve better.” – Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA) 4/22/22
“He (Senator Josh Hawley, R-MO) vaulted to prominence with his Jan. 6 fist-pump showing solidarity with the mob hours before it assaulted the U.S. Capitol. But forgive his hurrying to jump to the head of many parades. In a fellow eighth-grader’s yearbook, young Josh signed himself: ‘President 2024.’” -George Will, Bismarck Tribune, 11/22/21
“Kevin McCarthy is a liar and a traitor.” – Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) State of the Union, CNN. 4/24/22
“What can we do in Washington? We can actually put Roe v. Wade into law, codify Roe v. Wade…We have many, many votes on the Democratic side for that. We do have a few pro-choice Republicans – probably two in the Senate…Unless you do something about the filibuster that I have long supported eliminating, we would not have the votes to enshrine the protections of Roe v. Wade into law.” – Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) [Klobuchar predicted women will head to the ballot box in droves in November if the Supreme Court decides to overturn the landmark case]. – FOX News, 5/3/22
“A revolution begins when people in uniforms along with ordinary people get fed up with the old system.” – Andrei Kozyrev, Fire Bird: The Elusive Fate of Russian Democracy, 2019
In the hour that Ukrainians are dying in great numbers for freedom under the brave leadership of Volodymyr Zelensky, one woman and four men with a medieval mindset propose to throw away U.S. freedoms under the cowardly leadership of traditional enemies of democracy and the Republican Party. The same scenario of reactionary aristocrats, asserting ancient privileges in 1789, set off the French Revolution, the greatest of them all: in the name of Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité. In 2022 it will be sisterhood and brotherhood leading the way against a turning back of the human rights clock. There may be bullets flying, courtesy of mandated mayhem by the NRA and a soft-on-guns U.S. Supreme Court, but things will be settled mostly by ballots. Now that integrity of that Court no longer seems to matter to a majority of its members, it will have to be a majority of Americans deciding whether elections matter…or not. These are the times that try the souls of women as well as men. There are few hiding places left for the indifferent.
The only way for Vladimir Putin’s plan to help Donald Trump succeed in undermining American Democracy in 2016 was if there were Republican leaders who were bigger cowards than the Donald. Voilá! House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader, Moscow Mitch McConnell (R-KY) lead the pack but the list is long. Efforts to reverse the effects of 20th Century changes wrought in the wake of World Wars I and II began with the dawn of the Cold War in 1945. As Chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS), Liz Cheney (R-WY) and the Bi-partisan Congressional January 6th 2021 Committee prepares to open its public revelations of President Trump’s treason to the United States Constitution, and a major leak from the U.S. Supreme Court reveals their treason to stare decisis, I asked my KGB animal friends to help me profile GOP leaders, media conspirators, reactionary billionaires, and the Christian Right who have sought, and/or still seek, to destroy the American Democracy. An historical top ten list, perhaps.
High Plains Reader: Dear friends: Vladimir Putin won’t be forgiven by history for his crimes over the decades. He also won’t be forgiven by Russians for underestimating the capacity of Americans to rebuke cowards and bullies in their own leadership that has turned the Republican Party into a cult of power hunger and nihilism. How did Congresswoman Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Congressman Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) become such lonely Conservatives that they had to join with their Democratic colleagues to combat enemies of freedom in their own GOP?
Lena: It is natural for Cheney and Kinzinger to make common cause with Bennie Thompson (D-MS) and Adam Schiff (D-CA). These Republicans are Conservatives, not reactionary wolves in sheep’s clothing of conservativism like the rest of the GOP. Only cynics need be surprised.
Chicago Dog: There are few differences among real Conservatives, Liberals and Democratic Socialists on due process of law, habeas corpus, and traditions of English Common Law and the U.S. Constitution that have evolved to defend those with strength to bear the burdens of freedom. There are roughly ten categories of cowards who didn’t and don’t have strength and discipline to handle those burdens of freedom. We list them in ascending order for your convenience.
Lena: #10. The moral cowardice of cynicism leads to political cowardice. To some extent this is the #1 culprit in that it underlies all efforts by the few to dictate their concept of reality to the many. As a lone, prophetic Senator, William Langer (R-ND), put it regarding Congressional and Executive Branch indifference to the use of food as a weapon in war-ravaged Europe in 1946:
“To my knowledge, America has never known any enemy children. I refuse now to indict the American conscience as being anything but revolted by the actual fact that millions upon millions of the helpless, of the sick, of the innocent, from infants to the aged, are now suffering the tortures of the damned…Something terrible has happened to America…Unless and until we are able to compel a change and to force this mad fanaticism to break its vicious grip which is dragging the whole world down into chaos and agony, we shall earn the everlasting contempt and hatred of our fellow men and the enduring condemnation of our Creator.”
Putin: #9. Secrecy gurus in search of Empire -Vlad Putin is a KGB/FSB man. As such he has a built-in contempt for democratic means to rational and national ends. He had his American counterparts in the early days of the Cold War in the CIA, who had spent too long in the wars against Hitler and Stalin not to be infected by the “ends-justifies-the-means” disease, as explained by Tim Weiner in Legacy of Ashes: A History of the CIA, in 2007:
“The leaders of the CIA created a myth about Operation Success (the overthrow of the duly elected Arbenz government in Guatemala) just as they did with the coup in Iran. The company line was that the mission was a masterwork. In truth, ‘we didn’t think it was much of a success,’ said Jake Esteline, who became the new station chief in Guatemala…This was a turning point in the history of the CIA. The cover stories required for covert action overseas were now part of the agency’s political conduct in Washington…And their lies had lasting consequences.”
Madame Inspector Chen: Today’s CIA, responding well to the challenges of Vlad Putin and Trump, has been led more recently by men like General Michael Hayden, who, when still head of the National Security Agency (NSA) in 2000, described himself as a military “minimalist” -believing that war “breaks things and kills people.”
Rasputin: #8 – High Priests of American Particularism from Time Magazine to Tom Brokaw.
Cowardly media ownership, editors, and TV anchormen who preach “people over profits,” but practice “profits over people,” neglect the democratic balance of people and profits in favor of a mythical past that is used to defeat a hopeful future. Vlad Putin’s version of this is “The Great Patriotic War” against Hitler which is celebrated on May 9th. More Ukrainian civilians are doomed to die at the hand of a decrepit Russian Army in the weeks ahead to bolster a decrepit regime dedicated to the rule of the few over the many.
Jim Crow XV: Celebrating one’s country’s past sacrifices on July 4th, Memorial Day or Armistice Day is one thing; living in that past is quite another. Few in that so-called “Greatest Generation” had any clue as to what fascism was about and had to be indoctrinated by Hollywood’s Frank Capra at the request of General George Marshall.
Becky Badger: And this was the generation that bitterly opposed de-segregation and women’s rights; referring to Rhythm and Blues as Rock n’ Roll. Their kids and grandkids, of more tolerant generations, didn’t care. They had room in their heartbeats and dancing shoes for Chuck Berry as well as Elvis Presley; Aretha Franklin, as well as Patsy Cline.
Jane Crow I: For every brave newspaper owner like Katherine Graham of the Washington Post, you had dozens more of the well meaning who wouldn’t stand up to bullies in their midst, and in the government. “All the news that’s fit to print,” is a confession of editorial censorship that has vexed many a courageous investigative reporter; and too often neglects the forest for the trees.
Kim Dog Un: #7 – Useful idiots of autocracy – #1 on this list, of course is Donald Trump. Vlad had the Donald marked for a loser he could use even before Dick Cheney marked Congress for its exploitable weaknesses. He got President George W. Bush to lie the U.S. into a second war in Iraq, setting the stage for ISIS, and giving Russian autocracy a new lease on life. If Vlad had been as good in spotting corrupted military weaknesses in the Russian Army as in the corrupt cupidity of the West, he would already have Ukraine for his myopic Empire. His adversary, Volodymyr Zelensky, as a comedian and critic, could laugh at himself while pointing out the foibles of others, and accept the risks of rejection – a better training for leadership.
Omar Khayyam: #6 – 20th Century Pharisees – The list is long, from Jerry Falwell to the Christian Right among Evangelical Protestants in Trump Land and Catholic High Priests on the Supreme Court; dedicated to bringing about a marriage of Church and State like England’s Queen “Bloody” Mary in the Sixteenth Century. Wm. Hubben’s rendering of Søren Kierkegaard is a crushing indictment of these “poor little” lambs of God who have gone so thoroughly astray:
“Christianity’s tragedy, then, is that it is no longer what it was meant to represent, a militant, suffering, protesting minority…the essence of Christ’s teachings has become watered down to such a thin trickle of public morality, a sort of police ordinance, that we have succeeded in abolishing Christianity in the name of Christianity.”
Torquemada: The Christian Right are mistaken. Their church will serve the State, not the other way around – just as Catholicism and Protestantism served Hitler, and Russian Orthodoxy now serves Vlad Putin. Texas GOP Governor Gregg Abbott will create a Ministry of Menstruation to punish girls and women who have their period, or even miss a period without being pregnant.
Priscilla Python: In support of “Rape Dads,” Florida’s Ron DeSantis, will punish men who spill their seed through nocturnal emission or external persuasion with a Ministry of Masturbation.
Schickelgruber: The point of all the punishment, of course, will not be to prevent abortions, but to punish women for daring to try to be free to decide their own fate; just as racist cops still kill black men for daring to seek their own autonomy – just like white folks.
Mr. Swamp Fox: #5 – The GOP’s war on medicine and teaching. – Not since the days of William Jennings Bryan in the 1920s, making war on Charles Darwin and Bio-Chemical Sciences that have brought us medical miracles, have we seen such a concerted attack by politicians on How to think, rather than What to think. Trump GOP morons have achieved a million American deaths due to their politicized vaccine and mask denial, when casualties and grieving families could have been so much lower by trusting science rather than “their gut.”
Oliver Owl: In the 19th Century literacy was encouraged to enhance the reading of the Bible. Nowadays the GOP thumps the Bible and threatens teachers in order to reduce literacy.
Señor and Señora Perro: #4 – Aristocracy of the Skin – It’s not easy being not white in the U.S:
“A powerful preoccupying factor in the history of this country has been the matter of color. Color and race have never been far below the level of awareness, even anxiety, on the part of white Americans… What we need so desperately is the assumption of responsibility at the highest levels in the public and the private sectors to make a strong pitch for the elimination of the uglier aspects of the color line so that we can have a healthier, happier, even gentler society.” – John Hope Franklin, The Color Line, 1993
“…my whole life, every white man’s life…was one long struggle not to be laughed at.” – George Orwell, Shooting an Elephant, 1936
Chicago Dog: #3 – The Divine Right of Money Bags – From Wall Steet to Main Street the pursuit of happiness presupposes pursuit of money. Those with the most are presumed to be the most happy. Laundering consciences along with their money, however, reactionary GOP versions of these guys are never happy until it translates into a magical substance of power over others. It is an American tragedy every bit as corrosive as our racism, misogyny and religious bigotry.
Ms. Recovering Republican Lap Dog: #2 – GOP leadership from Barry Goldwater to today –
“‘Burn it all to the ground and start over.’ That’s the answer I find myself giving when asked what should be done with the Trump Republican party…This book traces the history of the Republican Party over the past fifty ears and lays out how it became the white grievance party that it is today.” – Stuart Stevens, It Was All a Lie: How the Republican Party Became Donald Trump, 2020
MSNBC’s Nicole Wallace should stop expiating allegiance to George W. Bush; placing him in the middle of the Left/Right axis she and her colleagues are addicted to. The Reagan-Bush-Bush Presidencies were not in the “middle” touting Iran-Contra, Willy Horton or WMDs, but below a line of Constitutionality with Soviets and Fascists when resorting to dirty tricks and racism.
Prudence Possum: #1 – GOP Democracy Deniers of 2022 – Our fellow swamp creatures were able to track down leadership of the enemies of American Democracy among the usual GOP suspects, plus JD Vance and a new generation of authoritarian worshipers of Vlad Putin’s propaganda methods of “Fake News, Fake Views-24/7” at a secret rendezvous site in the D.C. swamp. This secret conclave, a “Skull and Bones” Society of the greediest and most power hungry that the GOP has to offer, meet behind the closed doors of an (Out) Law Firm entitled:
McCarthy, McConnell, McRib, and McMyth. One of their disgruntled interns leaked for us the contents of their dirge of denial that their “Heritage Foundation” disinheritance of a woman’s right to choose how to control her own body, mind and soul may backfire in November of 2022:
Old Fart White Boy’s Blues……………………………..……….Wilbur Ross and the Supremes
I can’t believe we fine’ly got the group
Of men and woman who would do our dirt
Upon equality and freedom. Skirt –
The Constitution! What a righteous scoop!
And yet, much blowback seems to loom ahead.
Our sons and daughters hate us all with one
Loud voice that seeks to make our work undone
In three quick years. Democracy’s not dead!
The women who once thought that they could skate
Along the road of “Roe” have seen the light;
And now are organizing votes, so fast
That we can’t use old tricks that worked of late.
If next elections matter, then our fight
Is lost. Our world of oligarchs is passed.