Spine-Tingling Waves Of Sheer Terror For Right And Left

[ Posted Tuesday, October 30th, 2018 – 18:55 PDT ]


Yes, it's time once again for our annual frightfest, where we provide nightmarish scenarios for both left and right. These days, of course, we're always one step away from nightmarish scenarios, so it won't be all that far a journey!

Of course, it being an election year, both our tales of terror start out with what could happen next Tuesday. From this leaping-off point, however, these tales descend into very different pits of despair. One man's horror is another man's dream, in other words.

Our scary stories are presented for your frightful shiverings, as always, with our own attempt at pumpkin art. Since the themes were the same this year, we got away with only carving one design (only the colors needed changing, really). So sit back, relax, and prepare to be terrified right down to your boots. Our first tale of a macabre future should scare the left, and we're ending with a story to scare those on the right. We picked this order on purpose this year, so we could begin with a spooky homage to Dr. Seuss.

So, if you're ready, here we go: "One Wave... Two Wave..."


Red Wave

Red Wave

President Donald Trump announces four days before the election that anyone who votes for Republicans will be exempt from paying income taxes for all of 2018. Furthermore, anyone who votes for Democrats will have to pay double the regular income tax rate, to make up for the shortfall.

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Will Trump's October Surprise Work?

[ Posted Monday, October 29th, 2018 – 16:44 PDT ]

President Donald Trump began his rollout of his "October Surprise" today, as the Pentagon announced it would be sending over 5,000 troops to the southern U.S. border. This was five times higher than anyone had expected, and would add to the 2,000 troops already there. Tomorrow, Trump is scheduled to give a major speech on immigration, although the main focus of it is already clear: the caravan of Central American refugees currently walking towards the border in Mexico. Trump has made the caravan -- or, more properly, fear of the caravan -- a central part of his closing argument in the campaign for the upcoming midterm elections. So this has to be seen as Trump's version of an October Surprise. The big question is whether it'll work or not, politically.

Now, the history of the October Surprise label shows a mix of events that were external and beyond any American politician's control (real surprises, in other words) and those that were carefully stage-managed to either break wide open (or, conversely, not bark in the night) at the end of October, right before an election happens. Planned surprises, one might call them.

Trump's newfound vigor towards immigrants is likely a mixture of both. Trump himself has been saying for months now that Republicans should focus their whole campaign on illegal immigrants, his border wall, and falsely accusing Democrats of being the "open border party." Hey, it worked for him once, why shouldn't it work again? So Trump has been focusing on it and urging other GOP candidates to do the same, for quite some time now.

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Friday Talking Points -- Liar In Chief

[ Posted Friday, October 26th, 2018 – 17:10 PDT ]

In 2003, Al Franken wrote a book called Lies: And The Lying Liars Who Tell Them, which was written about Fox News (Bill O'Reilly, in specific). Though the title now seems prophetic in the age of Trump, even Franken would have had a hard time believing back then how far the right wing would eventually go down this rabbit hole.

Case in point this week was pretty much everything Trump said all week long -- just like all the other weeks we've spent listening to his blatant lies. Most ironic were the statements his staff obviously forced him to make on the domestic terrorism unleashed by one of his followers. In a monotone voice reminiscent of a hostage video, Trump stated: "The bottom line is that Americans must unify, and we must show the world that we are united together in peace and love and harmony as fellow American citizens." Does anyone alive actually believe the president cares about "peace and love and harmony" anymore? The very idea is downright comic, even if the circumstances are not. Later in the same day, inside the White House, Trump led some of his supporters in a chant of "Lock him up!" in reference to George Soros, one of the bomber's targets. Trump even laughed as he answered back: "Lock him up!" How peaceful of him! How loving! How harmonious!

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Program Note

[ Posted Thursday, October 25th, 2018 – 16:42 PDT ]

There will be no new column today, sorry. I had to spend time on minor site maintenance today, which didn't leave time for much else. Advance warning: there will be at least one more future day of site maintenance upcoming, as the site migrates from one server to another at my local ISP, but this should (hopefully) be completely transparent to site users. This will not happen until after the midterm elections, though, so it'll be a few weeks at least until it happens, and I'll try to warn everyone in advance. I will also try to answer some comments tonight, to make up for the lack of column today.

As always, I would comment on the recent domestic terrorism news this week with a blanket condemnation of violence for political ends in just about any circumstance short of a civil war or revolution. Mail bombers are cowards, plain and simple, and deserve no respect or support from anyone sane. The targets' political views do not matter -- this, to me, is universal, period. But then that's long been my position here in these pages and elsewhere. That's likely what I would have written about today, had I time to put together a full column.

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


The 10% Middle-Class Tax Cut Five-Year Plan

[ Posted Wednesday, October 24th, 2018 – 16:22 PDT ]

Does anyone else remember the Soviet Union, and their grandiose "five-year plans"? They'd plan their country's economic future out using these plans, which were always constructed backwards: they would take the result they wanted to achieve, and then work the numbers back from that to show that it would happen (on paper). The thing about them was, though, they were wildly unrealistic and not connected to the reality on the ground at all. So the rest of the world just laughed at them, for the most part.

I've been reminded of all this while watching the amazing progression of President Trump's new promise to pass a ten-percent tax cut for the middle class. It all started with an ad-libbed moment during one of his rallies. Trump obviously went off script, and announced that Congress would pass a ten-percent middle class tax cut "before November!" Before we get to where the idea went after Trump blurted it out, though, it's fun to imagine how it popped into Trump's head in the first place. You can picture him speaking with his speechwriter, just before the rally, demanding: "Make the part of the speech about the economy better -- why are we not bragging more about the tax cut?"

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Two Weeks To Go

[ Posted Tuesday, October 23rd, 2018 – 16:55 PDT ]

Two weeks from today the 2018 midterm elections will happen across America. For most voters, this will be the first time since Donald Trump was elected president to register their approval or disapproval in the voting booth. Many voters have, in fact, been eagerly waiting to do so.

We won't know until then what kind of message the electorate will send to Trump. Will it be a big blue wave, as many have been predicting for months? Or will it surprisingly be a red wave, as Trump has been predicting for months? Or perhaps something in between -- a more nuanced result that has some wins and losses for both sides? As always, at this point it's really anyone's guess.

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Pelosi's Transition

[ Posted Monday, October 22nd, 2018 – 16:36 PDT ]

Nancy Pelosi is not on any ballot outside of San Francisco, but you certainly wouldn't know this fact from seeing all the Republican campaign ads currently running nationwide. Pelosi is pretty much the only demon the GOP has left to demonize, at this point. Barack Obama sailed off into the sunset, and Hillary Clinton is pretty old news these days as well. Until a Democratic frontrunner for the 2020 presidential contest emerges, Pelosi is the biggest target the GOP has to take potshots at. It helps (for them) that she's a "San Francisco liberal," which doesn't have as much negative weight as it used to (it used to be nothing short of a thinly-veiled anti-gay-rights slur), but still arouses a goodly amount of disgust in the Republican heartland. So they've been trying to tie her to just about every Democratic candidate running east of the Sierra Nevadas.

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Friday Talking Points -- Democrats' Closing Midterm Argument

[ Posted Friday, October 19th, 2018 – 17:18 PDT ]

As usual, there was all sorts of idiocy in the political news last week. But, for a change, we're only going to skim lightly over most of it in an abbreviated weekly roundup, because we've got a special talking points section at the end, where we try our hand at writing a "closing argument" speech for all Democratic congressional candidates to consider using. So there's that to look forward to. Before that, though, let's take a very quick look at the week that was.

President Donald Trump really wants the whole scandal over the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi to quietly go away. However, this hasn't been happening -- it's been headline news for weeks, and shows no signs of abating. Trump also really wants to just go back to being buddies with the Saudis without anyone looking too closely at how totalitarian their government is. After all, they rolled out the red carpet for him! With a sword dance and everything!

America is now so little respected in the world that dictators who are purportedly our friends feel unrestrained enough to viciously murder an American legal resident inside their own consulate, without the fear of serious consequences. Trump tries to mouth the words, but he obviously doesn't believe that he should be all that concerned with the fate of the guy -- after all, he wasn't a citizen, it didn't happen here, and maybe it was just rogue assassins or something. He continues to parrot the line his advisors have fed him, about how murdering journalists should bring severe consequences, but then he goes out on the campaign trail and praises a Republican congressman for body-slamming a journalist. It's pretty easy to see what Trump really believes about all this, in other words.

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Could California Republicans Help Elect A Liberal?

[ Posted Thursday, October 18th, 2018 – 17:11 PDT ]

Admittedly, it must be tough to be a California Republican these days. Although not on the official endangered species list, they are still definitely a dying breed. The state's large coastal urban population tilts the state deep blue, so the rural parts of the state are becoming increasingly irrelevant to the state's politics, because they're so outnumbered. The only Republican elected statewide in the past few decades wasn't even really a Republican, he was just an actor playing one for votes. Remember when the rest of the country laughed at California for electing a complete novice to the highest state office solely because of name recognition and the entertainment factor? Seems almost prophetic, these days. The state's "top-two jungle primary" has only made things worse, since now Republicans don't even have their own candidates on the ballot in many races on Election Day. Such is the case this year for the race for a U.S. Senate seat, because Dianne Feinstein will be facing off against fellow Democrat Kevin De León in November. Which got me thinking about a bizarre confluence of events that could actually see Republican voters propel the more liberal candidate into office.

This is just one of the strange situations the jungle primary has begotten. And by pointing it out, I draw no conclusions as to the likelihood of it actually happening. In other words, this is nothing more than sheer speculation on my part. But as strange as it seems, Republican voters may indeed help a very liberal guy defeat a sitting and very centrist Democratic senator.

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O, Canada!

[ Posted Wednesday, October 17th, 2018 – 16:31 PDT ]

Our neighbor to the north made some big news today, as Canada is now the largest country in the world where marijuana can be freely bought, sold, possessed, grown, and used by all of its adult citizens. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has now made good on one of his big campaign promises, and today Canadians from coast to coast began legally purchasing recreational marijuana for the first time since it was outlawed.

In related news: the sun still rose in Canada's east, the sky did not actually fall down, people did not riot in the streets, fire and brimstone did not rain down on the populace, and life as Canadians knew it beforehand went on as usual. Canada is proving by example that marijuana legalization does not mean (as its critics would have you believe) the end of civilization as we know it. Far from it.

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