Life IS cheap these days, but GOP thuggery is getting damned expensive

For the dim and benighted (including the Donald), politics has become anything but a profitable grift road to riches.

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Predictable death threats menace CO Supreme Court justices – betraying the rule of law!

Six months ago, MSNBC’s Chris Hayes aptly reported on the surge in national death trips, “The new attitude of GOP lawmakers is ‘American life is cheap’.” He begins with avoidable, tragic gun fatalities (in 2022 20K killed, 686 from serial murders, even more the year before) – and the greatest killer of children, surpassing auto accidents, poisoning and cancer. Worse still, the U.S. gun homicides per 100K (4.4) surpasses the total of the next eight highest countries. Add in inexcusable, needless losses from Covid, maternity, and opiate deaths, and what a shock – overall U.S. life expectancy declined.

Beyond Hayes’ segment, America pooh-poohs life threats from discriminatory health care (of curable diseases), domestic violence, illness-causing nutrition shortages (again, especially children), lead pipes/ pollution, work accidents, auto accidents (from speeding or intoxication), plus crippling misuse of nicotine, alcohol and street drugs. Let’s not even mention wars, regional violence, murders of journalists, and the growing global dangers from climate change. Perhaps clubbing baby seals is off the chart.

Because Republicans rabidly defy rational gun controls, nothing stops the unchecked epidemic of serial shooting of strangers. Certainly not fundamentalist blather or wringing of hands or doing nothing. Further, Republicans not only oppose legislation to handcuff violence against minorities (Jews, Muslims, gays), but party leaders egg on militant, super-armed white Christian nationalists and rightwing extremists (Nazis are “very fine people”). Clearly, total abortion bans jeopardize vulnerable pregnant women, forced at their peril to risk their health (and liberty) and/or give birth to deformed fetuses.

Evangelicals justify unChristian negligence towards social/legal reforms by positing human life is just “a blip on the screen,” a mere anteroom for some alleged eternity to reward (hypocritical) true believers. Truly cynical rightwingers invoke the inhumane logic that vile murderers will find a way, no matter what states do (though imagine the safety gains by allowing only single-shot hunting rifles). Why not eliminate all laws against murder, leaving fate in “God’s hand,” thus obliterating the moral/legal necessity of insisting on (moral) free will? Fantasy pie in the sky thus covers a multitude of earthly wickedness.

Trumpy falls from riches to rags

On the ground, Trump and Trumpist Republicans actively endorse brutality towards any groups they can’t abide (even white Democratic “vermin”), as in MAGA rally protesters, non-violent liberal activists, even Capitol police. Trump and extremists lead the latest, corrosive “life is cheap” crusade. Just last week, a Wash Post columnist, Alexandra Petri, headlined her column with “GOP baffled that ‘We Don’t Care if You Die’ is not a winning slogan.” So, added to unjust party wars against law and justice, against minorities, non-white immigrants, and women’s procreative rights, we still have not resolved the ultimate Trump sedition – a violent insurrection against certifying the 2020 election. And the reward bristling with irony – Trump and followers dream of his being “dictator for a day,” handing over ever greater, more democracy-blasting power. Hell, why not push dictator for a season? Who will then stop that rampaging, runaway train? Nothing offers control freaks (fond of Hitler) more nasty options than putting them in charge of hellish chaos.

Yet, dramatic results roll in as the national backlash of accountability against defying the Constitution and the law is finally rearing its head. The huge GA defamation suit against the despicable Rudy Giuliani, lying his butt off to back his master’s Big Lies, proves the payoff for Trumpism is forced poverty, disgrace, bankruptcy, perhaps jail time. Along with hundreds of Jan 6 convictions, guilty plea agreements by Trump operatives, Colorado’s disqualification ruling, countless rejected Trump legal ploys, and the George Santos expulsion, an Era of Rightwing Accountability (ERA) looms. Not just convictions and guilty pleas but criminals forever branded with public infamy.

The pointless Giuliani calumny against two black women election workers (small potatoes) thus transfers his life-long nest egg to two of his many injured victims. Now a besieged bankrupt, ordered to pay promptly, Giuliani’s descent signals a momentous, hopefully educational “riches to rags” story. What crowns Rudy’s fanatic Trumpism is total bankruptcy – in financial, moral, political and history terms. Ignoring “loser” advisers, Trump’s billions won’t bail out Giuliani, needing the cash to pay for multiple dilemmas caused by his far worse misconduct.

Punishments must fit the crime

Join the club, Rudy, along with indicted fellow Trump advisers, Jan 6 convicts, Alex Jones’ billion-dollar slander judgment, and FOX’s $687 million paid to Dominion voting for corruptly impairing their business and reputation. Oh yeah, Trump has already spent nearly one billion dollars fighting his 91 indictments or paying off his rape conviction, gag violation penalties, and with more to come. Are we not closing in on fixing liability for gross illegality, with final costs way into the billions? What civilized democracy won’t confirm core basic legal thresholds by assessing massive penalties for massive crime sprees?

Obviously, for the dim and benighted (including the Donald), politics has become anything but a profitable grift road to riches. What, vicious, defamatory assaults are not protected under “free speech”? Who said fat cats could abuse the rights of ordinary citizens without penalty? Who said that fame and visibility would forever protect those who scorn law, judges and prosecutors? Yes, Trumpism has caused massive institutional damage but costly sentences, in money, losses of privilege, and prison time, are underway. Our decidedly sluggish justice system grinds too slowly for me, but it is now working to save us from a conspiracy of power-mad autocrats whose corrupt end justifies immoral, disruptive means.

In short, despite America’s myopia towards serious threats to life, limb and legality, despite a minority callousness to fair play, fair elections, and the stable foundations of democracy, our vaunted system, boasting no one is above the law, is finally rolling. That doesn’t mean the world shifts on its axis, nor that ordinary people won’t still endure the sling and arrows of outrage from Giuliani or Trump types.

Admittedly, even when “life is cheap,” and workable solutions (on climate, industrial accidents, on auto, disease and gun deaths) gain marginal traction, that doesn’t mean that foul defamation, election fraud, and sedition are not taking a very expensive toll. That’s a good thing and the only way to get through to billionaires. I trust that punishment will come soon and will aptly fit the crimes. Perhaps a visible, critical mass of misery meted out to convicted criminals will remind Americans,“we, the people,” what most recently believed and practiced, that democracy is not done for, and that the surest way to the bleakest future is hand over power to racist, power-mad strongmen.

FALL FUNDRAISER

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