One Nation, On The Skids

The turning point in the 2018 midterm elections, courtesy of CNN 10, seen by thousands of local high school students.

I like beer. I liked beer in high school. I liked beer in the Navy. I liked beer in college. I’d like a beer right now.

Sure, it’s before noon, but this nation is on the skids and heading downhill faster and with more momentum than an alpine avalanche. Every day brings some never-seen-before outrage that becomes the new norm by the next day and the next never-seen-before outrage.

So a beer right now would seem to be appropriate. Let’s pretend it’s just after midnight. It’s not too hard. It’s pretty dark out there right now.

Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh also likes beer, and as a semi-professional beer drinker myself, I immediately knew he was lying through his teeth during his confirmation hearing about his drinking . When asked how many beers is too many, the judge said “whatever it says on the chart.”

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That’s what you say to the cop when he pulls you over two blocks from the bar where you’ve been on a bender, not during a job interview for a lifetime appointment to the nation’s highest court.

The correct answer is, you can never have too many beers.

Kavanaugh might have played the senators for laughs. Instead he went for the vast left-wing conspiracy’s jugular in a never-seen-before performance by a Supreme Court nominee. His instantly-disqualifying partisan tirade should have forced his withdrawal from the nomination, as any objective observer of the hearing understood.

That, of course, is not what happened. Instead, the Republican majority in the Senate confirmed Kavanaugh and unveiled the party’s 2018 midterm campaign theme down the stretch: “It’s either us or the mob.”

The mob in Kavanaugh’s case being the three women who publicly alleged the judge, as a beer-drinking young adult, sexually assaulted them in the early 1980s, along with the sexual assault survivors who confronted Republican senators in elevators, and the millions of women who supported them across the country.

In essence, the Republicans, lead by screeching voluntary celibate Sen. Lindsey Graham, announced they were running against the #MeToo movement, along with all women who dare believe their reproductive decisions are private and a matter of free choice, as Kavanaugh was chosen specifically to help overturn Roe vs. Wade.

Thus, by branding the majority of women in America a “mob,” the Republican Party became fully the party of President Donald Trump. Trump, whose alleged ties to actual mob money are so extensive he refuses to release his tax returns, is the master of ironic projection, which comes naturally to sociopaths.

“I’m rubber and you’re glue,” he says, like some sort of precocious toddler. “Whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you!”

Yet this pivotal moment in our politics seems to have happened many, many beers ago, as if it has gone unnoticed, become normal. Meanwhile, the Republican’s so-called mob is snowballing, rolling up the resistance in its path like a humongous ice cold lint collector.

A caravan of 7000-and-growing refugees from Honduras have been swept up. They’re seeking asylum in the United States, which purposely destabilized Honduras during the Obama administration, while Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State. We owe them for helping turn their country into the violent right-wing hellhole it’s become.

Yet the refugees have been likened by Trump and Republicans to a violent invading force. His beloved border wall still but an impotent wet dream, Trump has threatened to call in the Army if Mexico doesn’t stop them.

Trump lied and told one of his campaign rally crowds—an angry mob by any definition, no matter where it’s being held—that Californians were rioting against the state’s sanctuary law, which prohibits local law enforcement from asking people their immigration status and participating with federal agencies such as ICE.

As far as I know, white people in California have not literally rioted because enough undocumented brown people aren’t being locked up. There was a laugh riot of sorts last February when three members of the Shasta County Board of Supervisors, Mary Rickert, Steve Morgan and board chair Les Baugh, in an obvious nod to Trump, voted to declare Shasta County “no sanctuary” to illegal immigrants, a toothless gesture that achieved nothing but to further cement the area’s reputation as a repository for racist rednecks.

(For the record, District 1 Supervisor David Kehoe vehemently opposed the measure and abstained from voting on it. “For me, this resolution is an insult to the goodwill of our community,” Kehoe said at the time. “I will tell you right now, I will not be a party to this form of political chicanery.” He’s the only supervisor up for reelection in November.)

Once again, Trump is playing the rubes, and Republicans are singing the same tune, or at least tapping their toes to the beat. “Jobs not mobs,” Trump chants at his rallies. In addition to women, Latino refugees and black NFL players who take the knee in protest against police brutality, the mob now includes bands of masked Marxist millennials demanding free college and health care, transgender people who will be legislated out of existence by Trump’s proposed redefinition of gender in Title IX legislation, and of course that well known “enemy of the people,” journalists—unless your name is Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh or Lou Dobbs.

Try to imagine this even happened: On the day after it became known that a journalist working for a major American newspaper was hacked to pieces with a bone saw in a foreign embassy on the orders of a foreign despot who happens to be a valuable client of the United States, the president of the United States downplayed the murder, thanked the client for billions in arms sales, and praised a congressional candidate for body-slamming a journalist, to the cheers of a maddened crowd of the president’s supporters.

It’s inconceivable, never-seen-before. Not in America during my lifetime, anyway. Until Trump did exactly that last week at a rally in Montana.

Months ago, when Trump first began calling journalists “enemies of the people,” I, as a journalist, proudly wore the label. If it means being the enemy of his people, the know-nothing, science-denying misogynists, racists, homophobes, xenophobes and simpletons who comprise his base and continue to offer him their unconditional support, count me in. As of this week, we now know crossing Trump runs the risk of a letter-bomb turning up in your mailbox.

God damn it, I’d really like a beer right now.

Kavanaugh might have said something like that coming off one of the breaks in his confirmation hearing. He might have humanized himself. “I liked beer. Sometimes I blacked out. People said I got a little rapey sometimes. I’m sorry!” he might have admitted.

But no. The Trumpian political philosophy was pursued. Deny, deny, deny, deny.

What to do about all this, presuming you’re not among the majority of Shasta County voters who support Trump and Kavanaugh and are totally willing to confirm—they can’t help themselves, actually—that every nasty thing I’ve been saying about Trump supporters is in fact true?

Your best bet to really make a difference about all of this in Shasta County and northern California this midterm election is to vote 1st District Rep. Doug LaMalfa out of office.

This millionaire welfare rice farmer’s family business has accepted millions of dollars in federal farm subsides since he took office, even as LaMalfa, who sits on the House Farm Committee, has tirelessly attacked SNAP, better known as the food stamps program, in the same Farm Bill that granted his family’s business millions.

Once upon a time, before Tea Party Republicans like LaMalfa gained ascendance in Congress, the Farm Bill was a symbol of bipartisan compromise. The Democrats said, we’ll give you a billion in farm subsidies if you Republicans give us a billion for nutrition programs for the poor. That wasn’t good enough for LaMalfa and his ilk, who predate the Trumpism that has now consumed the Republican Party.

LaMalfa cannot openly run on his record, which mostly consists of sponsoring various bills that restrict abortion rights, denying that anthropogenic climate change exists—log it, graze it, or watch it burn, he says—and lately, lying about the fact that he’s been trying to repeal Obamacare, including its protections for patients with preexisting conditions, since he’s been in office.

In addition, he’s been a rabid homophobe and an enemy of undocumented immigrants since his days as a state legislator. Twenty years of hate. Impressive.

Opposed to this dark knight is one Audrey Denney, a farmer, but also a school teacher, because the small family farm in northern California doesn’t qualify for federal subsidies and is disappearing along with the rest of the American Dream.

As an empowered woman running for office, Denney automatically belongs to the so-called mob that Republicans claim is resisting the efforts of Trump to establish fascism in the United States, even though she’d never put it that way.

She understands that income inequality, acerbated by the Republican’s corporate tax cut last year, is northern California and the nation’s most pressing domestic problem.

She believes in anthropogenic climate change, which means jobs, because in order to survive, we must preserve what’s left of our forests, not by logging them, but by maintaining them, making them more fire-resistant for the coming higher temperatures. There’s a lot of work out there in those woods and in the wildland urban interface. It should be paid well.

Denney is a ray of sunshine compared to the steaming pile of disinformation that is Doug LaMalfa. He’s not one of us, like his advertisements proclaim. He’s one of them. She’s not.

That’s why I voted for her. It didn’t take too long to fill-in the mail-in ballot, she’s the only candidate that matters in Shasta County or the 10 other rural counties encompassed by District 1. All the local candidates here are running for public safety and against the persistent homeless population.

They don’t have a clue about what’s coming.

I like beer. I need one now. I’ll drop my mail-in ballot on the way to the store.


R.V. Scheide

R.V. Scheide is an award-winning journalist who has covered news, politics, music, arts and culture in Northern California for more than 30 years. His work has appeared in the Tenderloin Times, Sacramento News & Review, Reno News & Review, Chico News & Review, North Bay Bohemian, San Jose Metro, SF Bay Guardian, SF Weekly, Alternet, Boston Phoenix, Creative Loafing and Counterpunch, among many other publications. His honors include winning the California Newspaper Publishers Association’s Freedom of Information Act and best columnist awards as well as best commentary from the Society of Professional Journalists, California chapter. Mr. Scheide welcomes your comments and story tips. Contact him at RVScheide@anewscafe.com..

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