Media buries the lede (again) on Biden’s urgent address on dangers of Trump, fascism

On Thursday, Joe Biden gave one of the most important speeches of his presidency. But because it didn’t include bitter complaints about low-flow toilets, his secret plan to avoid World War II, or stream-of-consciousness musings on perennial kitchen table issues like whale-murdering windmills, the legacy media largely gave it a pass.

And though the speech at times focused on the honor and heroism of Biden’s late friend, Arizona Sen. John McCain, at no point did Biden get confused and forget that he never ran against him

What Biden did do was give a fierce defense of democracy, the Constitution, and American values—all while name-checking Donald Trump and the extreme MAGA movement that threatens the basic foundations of our republic. Unfortunately, he didn’t do it while falling over on his bike, so most Americans still don’t know about it.

RELATED STORY: Biden warns Trump is an existential threat to democracy. The media whiffs it

You’d think the current president (rightly) calling out his top political rival for being a power-mad, wannabe tinpot dictator who disdains the Constitution would merit searing, front-page coverage across the legacy media. But you’d be wrong.

Biden’s speech failed to make the front page of either The Washington Post or The New York Times, proving once again that these venerable leading lights of our fourth estate—and the herds of pundits and reporters who follow their lead—are still not taking the clear and present danger a plainly fascist Trump poses seriously enough. On the bright side, there's nothing on the Times’ front page about Hillary's emails today.

Yes, @washingtonpost, “Democracy Dies in the Darkness.” You know where else it can wither? A3, inside, which is where you buried the fiercest, highest stakes pro-democracy speech I’ve heard from a president in my lifetime.

— Jeff Sharlet (@JeffSharlet) September 29, 2023

So because American newspapers are tending to shoehorn Biden’s rhetorical triumphs somewhere between The Jumble and “Marmaduke”—if not in “Marmaduke”—these days, we in the non-legacy media are forced to take up the slack.

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You can watch the speech yourself or read the full transcript, but there are some takeaways that simply need to be repeated here verbatim, because to quote the guy who’s doing his level best to save democracy from a largely somnambulant media, “This is a big fucking deal.” 

At one point, Biden lends some outside perspective to the MAGA stew we currently find ourselves swimming in. As frogs in boiling water, we may no longer experience the right’s resurgent fascism as the four-alarm fire it is, but the rest of the world sees what’s happening in America very clearly.

For centuries, the American Constitution has been a model for the world, with other countries adopting “We the People” as their North Star as well. But as we know, we know how damaged our institutions of democracy—the judiciary, the legislature, the executive—have become in the eyes of the American people, even the world, from attacks from within the past few years.

I know virtually every major world leader. That’s what I did when I was a senator, as vice president, and now. Everywhere I go in the world—I’ve met now with over a hundred heads of state of the nations of the world—everywhere I go, they look and they ask the question, “Is it going to be okay?”

Think about this: The first meeting I attended of the G7—the seven wealthiest nations in the world—in Europe, the NATO meeting, I sat down—it was in ... January, after being elected—so late January, early February—and it was in England. And I sat down, and I said, “America is back.” And Macron looked at me, and he said, “Mr. President, for how long—for how long?”

And then, the chancellor of Germany said, “Mr. President, what would you think if you picked up the paper tomorrow—tomorrow, the London Times—and it said a thousand people broke down the doors of Parliament, marched, and killed two bobbies in order to overthrow an election of the new prime minister? What would you think then? What would America think?”

What would America think? We’d think the fish and chip shops were using lead-based newsprint to wrap their wares again. But beyond that, we’d rightly be horrified.

But that wasn’t even the biggest takeaway from the speech. Our current president also directly confronted his predecessor—and, by extension, the entire MAGA movement—over his ongoing attempts to remake this country into something more like Vladimir Putin’s Russia than LBJ’s Great Society or Ronald Reagan’s shining city on a hill.

They’re pushing a notion the defeated former President expressed when he was in office and believes applies only to him. And this is a dangerous notion: This president is above the law, with no limits on power.

Trump says the Constitution gave him, quote, “the right to do whatever he wants as President,” end of quote. I’ve never even heard a president say that in jest. Not guided by the Constitution or by common service and decency toward our fellow Americans but by vengeance and vindictiveness.

We see the headlines. Quote, “sweeping expansion of presidential power.” Their goal to, quote, “alter the balance of power by increasing the president’s authority over every part of the federal government,” end of quote.

What do they intend to do once they erode the constitutional order of checks and balances and separation of powers? Limit the independence of federal agencies and put them under the thumb of a president? Give the President the power to refuse to spend money that Congress has appropriated if he doesn’t like what it’s being spent for? ... Get rid of longstanding protections for civil servants?


Just consider these as actual quotes from MAGA—the MAGA movement. Quote, “I am your retribution.” “Slitting throats” of civil servants, replacing them with extreme political cronies. MAGA extremists proclaim support for law enforcement only to say, “We …”—quote, “We must destroy the FBI.”

It’s not one person. It’s the controlling element of the House Republican Party.

Whitewash attacks of Jan. 6 by calling the spearing and stomping of police a ... quote, a “legitimate political discourse.”

Did you ever think you’d hear leaders of political parties in the United States of America speak like that? Seizing power, concentrating power, attempting to abuse power, purging and packing key institutions, spewing conspiracy theories, spreading lies for profit and power to divide America in every way, inciting violence against those who risk their lives to keep America safe, weaponizing against the very soul of who we are as Americans.

This MAGA threat is the threat to the brick and mortar of our democratic institutions. But it’s also a threat to the character of our nation … that gives our Constitution life, that binds us together as Americans in common cause.

Biden also happened to notice another story that should have generated screaming front-page headlines in every major newspaper in the country as well as blanket condemnations from every sitting lawmaker, regardless of party:

Tomorrow, I have the honor of overseeing the change of responsibilities of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the United States military from one genuine hero and patriot, Gen. Mark Milley, to another, Gen. CQ Brown—both defining leaders of our time.

And yet, here is what you hear from MAGA extremists about the retiring patriot general honoring his oath to the Constitution: quote, he’s “a traitor,” end of quote. “In times gone by, the punishment…”—quote, “In times gone by, the punishment would’ve been death,” end of quote.

This is the United States of America. This is the United States of America.

And although I don’t believe even a majority of Republicans think that, the silence is deafening.

In case you somehow missed it (you could be forgiven, because the media didn’t cover it with nearly the urgency it deserved), the quote Biden references about Milley deserving the death penalty came from Trump, who was upset that Milley failed to show him the abject loyalty he thought he deserved.

RELATED STORY: Gen. Mark Milley responds to Trump's threats while the press largely looks away

Seems like a really important story, but then the nation’s biggest outlets can’t thoroughly cover all of a fascist presidential candidate’s fascist statements, can they? You need to balance them with horse race coverage about the advanced age of the man who stands as our sole remaining bulwark against the return of an avowedly authoritarian former president. It’s just basic fairness.

In short, Biden’s speech was clear, forceful, urgent, at times funny—Biden is a charming, witty guy, despite all the chatter about his age—and most importantly, grounded in the reality of our current fraught political climate. He also showed genuine emotion when talking about the cancer that claimed the lives of both his friend McCain and his son Beau. And he was funny and gracious when responding to a group of hecklers who tried to interrupt his speech, offering to speak with them after his address instead of, say, urging members of the audience to “knock the crap out of them.”

As Biden stated in his address, “We’re at an inflection point in our history. One of those moments that not only happens once every several generations, it happens once every eight or nine generations, where the decisions made in the short period of time we’re in now are going to determine the course of this country and the world for the next six or seven decades. So you, me, every American who is committed to preserving our democracy and our constitutional protections, we carry a special responsibility. We have to stand up for American values embedded in the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, because we know the MAGA extremists have already proven they won’t.”

Clearly, Biden knows what time it is. If only legacy media—which stands to lose the most under a second Trump term—would take a side. It’s okay to take a side if that side is pro-democracy and anti-fascist. No, really. Preserving our ever-fragile democracy is actually that important.

RELATED STORY: Media complicit in Trump's false claims about wooing union members


This recent commentary from MSNBC’s Mehdi Hasan on “Donald Trump’s Extremely Fascist Week” is a must-watch. Though maybe you’re not the one who needs to watch it—unless, of course, you happen to be one of the key decision-makers at The Washington Post or The New York Times.

Check out Aldous J. Pennyfarthing’s four-volume Trump-trashing compendium, including the finale, Goodbye, Asshat: 101 Farewell Letters to Donald Trump, at this link. Or, if you prefer a test drive, you can download the epilogue to Goodbye, Asshat for the low, low price of FREE

‘Do your job, bud’: There’s a lot to learn from Fetterman’s takedown of Gaetz

There are lots and lots of legitimate things to criticize Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz over, as the fashion-allergic Sen. John Fetterman clearly knows. So when Gaetz called Fetterman out over his seven (or more) thread-ly sins, Fetterman was prepared.

Haute couture isn’t for everyone, of course. Some people are Beau Brummells and Dapper Dans, while others are more than content to be Dumpster Dons. Gaetz’s own sartorial history suggests he’s keen on dressing for the ladies (and allegedly girls)—when he’s not busy dressing down teens.

And during a recent interview with convicted criminal Steve Bannon—who, ironically, looks like a pair of Kirkland sweatpants trying to screw a sack of mulch—Gaetz launched a few tepid bons mots in Fetterman’s direction. Fetterman responded with a bracing dose of reality for the Lilliputian across the aisle.

Gaetz, in a clearly prewritten monologue (he literally checks his notes about a minute and a half in), seems determined to take down the good senator from Pennsylvania after he mocked House Republicans and their revenge impeachment inquiry earlier in the week.

The evidence against Joe Biden is overwhelming. A first-year law student could win this case for impeachment before a fair jury. Unfortunately, the United States Senate isn’t a fair jury. It’s full of fashion icons like John Fetterman. While the Senate will be the platform,…

— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) September 13, 2023

In over two uninterrupted minutes, Gaetz doesn’t get around to answering Bannon’s question, so here’s a partial transcript, Why? Because I love you.

BANNON: “Congressman Gaetz, I can tell you from my sources around Washington, D.C., they’re blaming you [for the impeachment inquiry]. They’re saying McCarthy was rattled by you. He knew you were going to make the speech today, he knew it was going to be powerful, he knew you would put him on notice, and put him on the clock, and this is why he ran out and made the hostage video. Your response and observations, sir.”

GAETZ: “First of all, that is the best dressed we have ever seen John Fetterman. His shirt had both buttons and the entire pant was not elastic. There were elastic features, but it was not exclusively elastic. And so, I don’t know what tent store he bought that muumuu at, but it appears to be new and I am grateful that he is really upping his game in that regard ...”

BANNON: [Giggles with glee while curb-stomping irony to death with his dandruff-mottled joggin’ Crocs.]

Gaetz then waxes rhapsodic about Biden impeachment bullshit that hasn’t been remotely proven—according to these Republicans, anyway—and, in a weird detour for a Republican, goes after George W. Bush’s WMD lies. Then he doubles down on the fashion insults while predicting the failure of the GOP’s wholly made-up impeachment case: “This is not a hard story to tell. A first-year law student could win this case before a fair jury. Now, the United States Senate isn’t a fair jury. It’s full of great fashion icons like John Fetterman. But I think that the Senate will be the platform, and the American people will be the jury when we put that case on before them.”

Our fearless Fetty minced no words in his response.

Government shutdown in t-minus 16 days. Instead of crying about how I dress, how about you get your shit together and do your job, bud?

— Senator John Fetterman (@SenFettermanPA) September 14, 2023

For the nontweeters:

FETTERMAN: “Government shutdown in t-minus 16 days. Instead of crying about how I dress, how about you get your shit together and do your job, bud?”

Now, if you need the lowdown on why Republicans’ entire impeachment case is naught but frothy horseshit, Daily Kos’ own Mark Sumner dropped his latest wonderful primer on the manufactured allegations on Thursday. Gaetz’s—and the GOP’s—strategy is clear: Muddy the waters among low-information (i.e., Republican) voters enough to make President Joe Biden look corrupt—all so they can shove the most corrupt human on the planet down our throats for another four years.

After all, if everyone’s dishonest, you might as well vote for the one with the most felony convictions.

So instead of getting down into the wonky weeds on this “issue” here, let’s take a cue from Sen. Fetterman, who’s treated the GOP’s disingenuous efforts with the dismissiveness they deserve. 

Again, here was his response—which is also included in the above clip—to questions about the GOP’s fake impeachment push. And it was exactly as snarky and scornful as warranted.

LMAOOOO John Fetterman's reaction to impeachment for the WIN!!!🤣🤣

— BrooklynDad_Defiant!☮️ (@mmpadellan) September 12, 2023

That’s really the only reaction anyone should bother to have over this impeachment nonsense, but even before House Speaker Kevin McCarthy unilaterally announced the launch of a formal impeachment inquiry this week, Fetterman was being unusually blunt about the GOP’s upcoming, and no doubt soon-to-be-disastrous, Fyre Liar Festival.

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On Sept. 6, as Republicans were telegraphing plans for their latest waste of time, Fetterman literally dared them to go ahead with their half-baked schemes.

“Go ahead, do it. I dare you,” Fetterman said. “Your man has what, three or four indictments now? Trump has a mug shot, and he’s been impeached twice.”

Fetterman also correctly noted that the impeachment push “would just be like a big circle jerk on the fringe right” and “would diminish what impeachment really means.”

Well, yeah, that’s at least part of the reason they’re doing this. If impeachment no longer means anything, Trump’s long-demonstrated penchant for double-fisting big, frosty mugs o’ crime might not seem like such a deal-breaker. Nor will his (likely) upcoming felony convictions. 

In fact, Democrats should think about letting Fetterman lead on this issue, if only because he’s a genuine human being who abhors political double-talk and can connect with ordinary voters on a host of real issues. When he says, “Sometimes you just gotta call their bullshit,” people will be more likely to listen than if, say, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says it.

RELATED STORY: Sen. John Fetterman is back—and telling it like it is

And if we hit on the right messaging—with a combination of Fetterman-like bluntness and ordinary, workaday fact-checking—the GOP’s impeachment push might end up pushing them right off the table, as happened to the party following Newt & co.’s dogged pursuit of Bill Clinton in the ‘90s

NBC News, Sept. 6:

Some vulnerable Republicans ... are skeptical about opening an impeachment inquiry.

Fetterman said impeachment would be a political "loser" for House Republicans, along with the looming threat of a government shutdown if they can't reach a funding deal before the end of the month.

“I’m just tired of a couple of them over there, talking like they’re hard a--es," Fetterman said. "They just keep pushing it.”

Yeah, they do, and they’re clearly not being honest about their motivations. Luckily Sen. Fetterman is here to push their lying faces in their own barmy bullshit. Let’s join him!

With the November election just weeks away, it’s time to get out the vote. Daily Kos and our partners have numerous opportunities waiting for you!

Check out Aldous J. Pennyfarthing’s four-volume Trump-trashing compendium, including the finale, Goodbye, Asshat: 101 Farewell Letters to Donald Trump, at this link. Or, if you prefer a test drive, you can download the epilogue to Goodbye, Asshat for the low, low price of FREE.  

FBI document GOP wants released to tarnish President Biden came from Rudy Giuliani

Republicans are desperately searching for something they can smear President Biden with in advance of the 2024 election and, needless to say, it’s been slow going. Of course, if Donald Trump had been in D.C. politics for the past 50 years—as Biden has—the Library of Congress would currently be listed as a two-star brothel on Yelp. But Biden’s opponents have been busy turning over every rock they can find outside of Louie Gohmert’s head, and so far they’ve found bupkis.

In the wake of reports that Biden’s sketchy sexual assault accuser Tara Reade has mysteriously turned up in OG Trump fan Vladimir Putin’s Russia, it’s now been revealed that the “bombshell” document supposedly detailing a Biden pay-for-play scheme originated with—oh, sweet Fiddle-Pants McGee—none other than Rudy Giuliani.

Yeah, given ol’ Rudes’ preternatural talent for barmy bullshittery, we can probably put this “scandal” to bed, and hope against hope that no one tries to spank it with a Forbes magazine.

RELATED STORY: Tara Reade's long and 'bumpy' road to Moscow isn't a surprise

The Daily Beast:

Facing looming contempt of Congress proceedings, FBI Director Christopher Wray has offered to show House Oversight Chair James Comer (R-KY) a document—behind closed doors—that Comer believes exposes nefarious dealings by Joe Biden during his days as vice president. The document is reportedly from a collection that Rudy Giuliani gave to the Department of Justice in 2020, according to CNN reporter Zachary Cohen, and contains unverified information from confidential sources. Since Republicans seized power in the House, Comer has led a crusade to expose what he alleges to be misconduct by President Biden and his family—but has so far come up empty. After threatening Wray with contempt of Congress, Comer now says that Wray’s offer to show him the document in the FBI headquarters won’t suffice. “If the FBI fails to hand over the FD-1023 form as required by the subpoena, the House Oversight Committee will begin contempt of Congress proceedings,” Comer said, according to CNN.

More: The document at center of this dispute has origins in a tranche of docs that Rudy Giuliani provided to DOJ in 2020, sources tell @evanperez. The allegations, many originating from sources Ukraine, included 1 claiming evidence of corruption involving Biden when he was VP.

— Zachary Cohen (@ZcohenCNN) May 31, 2023

The claims were dubious enough that then-AG Barr directed that they be reviewed by a US attorney in Pittsburgh, in part because Barr was concerned that Giuliani’s document tranche could taint the ongoing Hunter Biden investigation overseen by the Delaware US attorney.

— Zachary Cohen (@ZcohenCNN) May 31, 2023

Former Pittsburgh US Attorney Scott Brady oversaw the FBI investigation of the Giuliani claims. The document being demanded by Comer is among the products of that probe. While the document outlines claims from the informant, it doesn’t provide proof they are true, per sources.

— Zachary Cohen (@ZcohenCNN) May 31, 2023

For the nontweeters:

CNN REPORTER ZACHARY COHEN: More: The document at center of this dispute has origins in a tranche of docs that Rudy Giuliani provided to DOJ in 2020, sources tell @evanperez.

The allegations, many originating from sources Ukraine, included 1 claiming evidence of corruption involving Biden when he was VP.

The claims were dubious enough that then-AG Barr directed that they be reviewed by a US attorney in Pittsburgh, in part because Barr was concerned that Giuliani’s document tranche could taint the ongoing Hunter Biden investigation overseen by the Delaware US attorney.

Former Pittsburgh US Attorney Scott Brady oversaw the FBI investigation of the Giuliani claims. The document being demanded by Comer is among the products of that probe. While the document outlines claims from the informant, it doesn’t provide proof they are true, per sources.

Wait, Rudy’s sources in Ukraine are certain they’ve found evidence of Biden corruption? Do tell! 

Of course, there are good reasons to be skeptical of not only the document’s source, but of Republicans’ intentions as well. For one thing, it would be wildly inappropriate to make the document public, as doing so could endanger confidential sources. And for another, its release would prove exactly nothing. 

The Washington Post:

Congressional Republicans say they know of a whistleblower within the Justice Department who alleges that President Biden received millions of dollars from a foreigner in exchange for a policy decision.

That’s all we know; Republicans are in an escalating battle with the FBI to get hold of the informant tip that they say will shed light.

The evidence: The document Republicans are requesting is a form the FBI uses to record unverified tips. The FBI stressed that in its response to Republicans: “The FBI regularly receives information from sources with significant potential biases, motivations, and knowledge, including drug traffickers, members of organized crime, or even terrorists. … Recording the information does not validate the information, establish its credibility, or weigh it against other information known or developed by the FBI.”

So why is the GOP so keen on getting its grubby hands on a document that reportedly came from Ratfucker Rudy and presumably contains wild, unverified accusations? Come on, you know why. For the same reason Donald Trump wanted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to simply announce an investigation into Joe Biden that could have been used to smear him in the 2020 election. After all, a real investigation would have turned up nothing. An announced, ongoing investigation, on the other hand, would have been a golden political cudgel that Trump could have wielded with abandon throughout the presidential campaign.

They want an unverified (i.e., likely bullshit) “official” accusation against Biden to hang around the president’s neck like a moldering albatross. It would be like giving the MAGA media a coloring book they could fill in with the most lurid hues imaginable.

So that’s why you get comedy gold like the following:

Chuck Grassley on Fox News: "We are not interested in whether the allegations against Vice President Biden are accurate or not."

— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) June 1, 2023

SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY: “We aren’t interested in whether or not the accusations against Vice President Biden are accurate or not. We’re responsible for making sure the FBI does its job, and that’s what we want to know.”

FOX NEWS’ BILL HEMMER: “Okay, Senator, let me stop you there. You just said you read the document, is that right?


HEMMER: “And what did it say?”

GRASSLEY: “Well, I’m not going to characterize it.”

He’s not going to characterize a document that damns the leader of the opposition party? Wow, that information must really be explosive.

Oh, but it gets better.

FOX: How damning is this document for Biden? GRASSLEY: I, I dont know that FOX: But you've read it GRASSLEY: Let's put it this way, there are accusations in it

— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) June 1, 2023

HEMMER: “Senator, how damning is this document to the sitting U.S. president?”

GRASSLEY: “Well, it’s … I, I don’t know that.”

HEMMER: “But you’ve read it.”

GRASSLEY: “I read it. Let’s put it this way, there’s accusations in it, but it’s not for me to make a judgment about whether these accusations are accurate or not. It’s my job to make sure the FBI is doing their job, and that’s what this is all about as far as I’m concerned. The public’s business ought to be public.”

Hoo-boy! That’s convincing, huh? First of all, it’s clearly not the FBI’s job to burn sources in order to smear a sitting president with unverified allegations brought to the agency by his chief political opponent’s goofball lawyer. Secondly, if Grassley’s already read the document and can’t decide if there’s any “there” there, why does he think the American public would be any more discerning?

The truth is they want it released because they need to create at least a whiff of scandal to mask the refulgent stink lines pouring 24/7 off Donald John Trump’s purpling political corpse.

That’s clearly what Comer and Grassley’s performative—and very public—war with the FBI is all about, too. In fact, both Comer and Grassley already know what’s in the document, but instead of simply investigating the allegation, they’re determined to raise as much of a stink as possible.

The Washington Post:

The FBI did respond to the request for the document, saying that it opposed its release in part because it risked exposing its sourcing (a standard response) and in part because the allegation is just that: an allegation. The FBI isn’t new at this; it certainly understands why Grassley and (particularly) Comer are eager to have it released. An allegation encoded on an FBI form has a perceived weight that an allegation presented in a congressional press release doesn’t, even if that perception is unwarranted.


The logical implication from Grassley and Comer having seen the document is that their whistleblower is someone who had access to it; to wit, a current or former employee of the FBI or the government. (CNN reported on Wednesday that the document at issue may have been part of a number of files Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani gave the Justice Department in 2020.) Whoever the source was, they had a copy of the reporting document for years without more details about it being uncovered. Never mind that the allegation about Biden emerged in June of the year Donald Trump was seeking reelection, seemingly without Barr’s Justice Department developing a criminal case around it.

But Comer and Grassley have been aware of its contents for a month, and all they appear to have done is pester the FBI about it. Remember, Comer held a news conference in early May during which he alleged that foreign money had at times moved between members of Biden’s family. That was the product of months of investigations based on financial documents the Oversight Committee had retained.

In other words, Comer and Grassley are out on a very wobbly limb when it comes to these accusations. But hey, better luck next time, guys. Maybe Chuck can pin the dead pidgin in front of his house on Biden next. It would make at least as much sense as this. 

RELATED STORY: Whistleblower's complaints started while Trump was in office

Check out Aldous J. Pennyfarthing’s four-volume Trump-trashing compendium, including the finale, Goodbye, Asshat: 101 Farewell Letters to Donald Trump, at this link. Or, if you prefer a test drive, you can download the epilogue to Goodbye, Asshat for the low, low price of FREE.   

Conservative columnist explains why the GOP is so obsessed with Hunter Biden: Guilt over Trump

For seven long years, Republicans have serially debased themselves at the altar of Donald Trump—a ramshackle shrine that isn’t as ornate and gold leaf-gilded as you might think. Actually, it’s just like a traditional altar, except if God ever asked Trump to sacrifice his firstborn son on it, Trump would be elbows deep in failson viscera before Yahweh had a chance to tell him He was kidding.

But hey, some might say it’s out of bounds to go after an ex-president’s children—unless they work for his administration, campaign for him endlessly, or repeatedly show up on Fox News as his surrogate. So Barron is off-limits—at least until he’s caught on camera riding Rudy Giuliani around the West Palm Beach Spearmint Rhino like a horsey. Until that day, don’t you dare even mention his name.

But Republicans—they have no such forbearance. Their strategy for fighting inflation, creating jobs, and promoting democracy both here and abroad is single-pronged and simple: investigate Hunter Biden. After all, he has, well, nothing at all to do with his father's administration—but like millions of Americans, he’s battled a substance abuse problem, and so Republicans think they can embarrass our president to the point where he loses it and starts prescribing bleach shots for respiratory diseases and squirreling away top secret nuclear documents in his neck wattle.

Never mind that when it comes to Hunter Biden, all that Republicans are likely to find are some peccadilloes that are personally embarrassing—to Hunter Biden. Meanwhile, Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner skipped town with a $2 billion loan from Prince Bone Saws, and No. 1 child Ivanka scored some sweet trademarks from China as her dad threatened and menaced its government with tariffs. 

So why are Republicans doing this? Because they’re a waste of time, carbon, and oxygen? Yes, of course—but that’s only part of the answer. The real reason, according to conservative columnist Mona Charen, is pervasive guilt.

In a new column for The Bulwark, Charen argues that Trumpland is so up to its oleaginous teats in gaudy scandal, it has no choice but to paint its opponents with the same off-brand, lead-based paints its been marinating in for most of the past decade.

For seven years, the right has been explaining, excusing, avoiding, and eventually cheering the most morally depraved figure in American politics. That takes a toll on the psyche. You can tell yourself that the other side is worse. Or you can tell yourself that the critics are unhinged, suffering from “Trump derangement syndrome” whereas you are a man of the world who knows nobody’s perfect. But then Trump will do what he always does—he’ll make a fool of you. You denied that Trump purposely broke the law when he took highly classified documents to Mar-A-Lago and obstructed every effort to retrieve them. And then what does Trump do? He admits taking them! You scoff at the critics who’ve compared Trump with Nazis. And then what does he do? He has dinner with Nazis! (And fails to condemn them even after the fact.) You despised people who claimed Trump was a threat to the Constitution, and then Trump explicitly calls for “terminating” the Constitution in order to put himself back in the Oval Office.

Yup. Whatever fever dream you can conjure about Joe Biden and his family, Trump’s real life will eventually top it. Guaranteed. And it’s not even close. So Republicans’ only option now—other than embracing truth and belatedly attempting to salvage some modicum of dignity (ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha … whoo! … *wipes away tear*)—is to try to make Biden look just as bad as the guy they gifted with a lifetime get-out-of-jail-free card. Unfortunately, Trump keeps fouling up their plans by continuing to breathe and speak.

President Biden is hardly the first president to have troubled family members. But Joe Biden didn’t hire Hunter at the White House, and if there is any evidence of the president using official influence on Hunter’s behalf, we haven’t seen it. The Department of Justice under President Trump opened an investigation into Hunter Biden. President Biden has left it alone. It’s ongoing. 

So even though Hunter Biden’s alleged misdeeds have nothing at all to do with Joe Biden’s administration, the president has refused to intervene on his son’s behalf. Contrast that with Trump, who used the DOJ to spin the Mueller report, tried to use it to steal the 2020 election, and openly criticized his first attorney general for refusing to act as his mob consigliere.

The right has a deep psychological need for the Hunter Biden story. They desperately want Joe Biden to be corrupt and for the whole family to be, in [GOP Rep. Elise] Stefanik’s words, “a crime family” because they have provided succor and support to someone who has encouraged political violence since his early rallies in 2015, has stoked hatred of minorities through lies, has used his office for personal gain in the most flagrant fashion, has surrounded himself with criminals and con men, has committed human rights violations against would-be immigrants by separating children from their parents, has pardoned war criminals, has cost the lives of tens of thousands of COVID patients by discounting the virus and peddling quack cures, has revived racism in public discourse, and attempted a violent coup d’etat.

I wholeheartedly agree, and I couldn’t have said it better myself—because if I’d said it, I would have felt compelled to compare Trump unfavorably to a pumpkin-spiced whale placenta, and that may have lacked the necessary gravitas.

But whatever we on the American side of our country’s current political divide have to say, Republicans will likely go full Republican regardless. Their interminable Benghazi investigations surely contributed to Hillary Clinton’s eventual defenestration, and they can’t wait to perform the same black magic with Joe Biden’s troubled son.

The fact that there’s very little “there” there will hardly dissuade them. But maybe, just maybe, the American people will be wise to their tricks this time around. After all, Donald Trump’s trail of corruption is hard to miss—and Republicans will no doubt be slipping on that slug slime for many years to come, no matter how many distractions they try to throw in our path.

Check out Aldous J. Pennyfarthing’s four-volume Trump-trashing compendium, including the finale, Goodbye, Asshat: 101 Farewell Letters to Donald Trump, at this link. Or, if you prefer a test drive, you can download the epilogue to Goodbye, Asshat for the low, low price of FREE.

New book: During first impeachment, Ted Cruz admitted all 100 senators knew Trump was guilty

Republicans love their phony bugaboos. Whether it’s graduate-level courses being taught in kindergarten, migrant caravans shoving old women out of the way at the A&P to score the last marble rye, or foreign drug cartels handing out fentanyl to trick-or-treaters for Squad-knows-what reason, the GOP is great at distracting you from the hell demons feasting on your viscera all day, every day, like so much Laffy Taffy.

But if there’s a suspected Russian agent in the White House doing things only a Russian agent would do—well, never mind. We’ll just see how it plays out. How about that, patriots?

In yet another tardy tell-all on the bag of moldering mystery dicks that was the Trump administration—this one titled Unchecked: The Untold Story Behind Congress’s Botched Impeachments of Donald Trump—POLITICO’s Rachael Bade and The Washington Post’s Karoun Demirjian detail the mental gymnastics congressional Republicans went through during Trump’s first impeachment, all in order to make him seem vaguely not-guilty. Yet according to no less an authority on evil than Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, every single Republican senator actually thought Trump was corrupt to the core. (Or to whatever passes as a Trump “core.” Truth is, all you’re likely to find in there is nougat. Or maybe an old, glitchy CPU from a Furby.)

If you think back to 2,137 hair-on-fire Donald Trump scandals ago, you’ll recall that Trump withheld vital military aid to Ukraine during a shooting war in order to blackmail its president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, into announcing an investigation into Joe Biden—who, if you’ll recall from 1,311 hair-on-fire Trump scandals ago, forced Trump to either go on a feral crusade against our democracy or retreat inside his own neck wattle in abject shame. (As you may recall, Trump opted for the former.)

The question at the time was whether Trump had engaged in a quid pro quo to force favors from his Ukrainian counterpart. It was obvious he had, of course, but Republicans weren’t going to give up on their fantasies that easily. After all, they had a country to ruin, and very little time in which to ruin it.

RELATED: Once again, New York Times reporters betray the public interest for the sake of a book deal

According to Bade and Demirjian, Republicans were so unimpressed with Trump’s lawyers—who included legendary law professor and Jeff Epstein pal Alan Dershowitz, who’d argued that Trump could do anything he wanted if he thought it would get him elected—they felt the need, as putative “jurors,” to help out Trump’s defense team.


Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) told Trump’s team afterward to fire Dershowitz on the spot, while Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) warned them to switch tactics.

“Out of one hundred senators, you have zero who believe you that there was no quid pro quo. None. There’s not a single one,” Cruz reportedly said at one point, contradicting what Republicans were saying publicly about the charges at the time.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) also fumed at Trump’s legal team after they fumbled responding to a senator’s question about calling new witnesses. Trump’s attorneys said that it was simply too late to do so, a line Graham worried would lose Republican votes.

In fact, after that fumble, Graham reportedly opined, “We are FUCKED. We are FUCKED!” as he walked into the GOP cloakroom.

According to the book, even as Republican senators balked at publicly discussing the hearings, telling the media that they needed to remain neutral as “jurors,” Trump’s incompetent legal team forced them to act in private. So then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell twisted arms, ultimately convincing Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander to vote against hearing further witnesses. Particularly at issue was likely testimony from former National Security Adviser John Bolton, who’d claimed in a book of his own that Trump had told him his scheme to withhold military aid from Ukraine was definitely part of a quid pro quo.

So why the reluctance to convict a guy whom they all knew was guilty? Because Republicans weren’t quite done handing out goodies to wealthy donors, stealing Supreme Court seats, or generally terrorizing anyone with a working womb.

“This is not about this president. It’s not about anything he’s been accused of doing,” McConnell reportedly told his charges. “It has always been about Nov. 3, 2020. It’s about flipping the Senate.”

GOP Senate leaders weren’t just involved in fixing the vote, of course. They were also forced to coach the Trump team in the fine art of not looking like overt criminals. 

RELATED: Maggie Haberman: Just another person 'willing to let democracy die on the altar of a book deal'

The book recounts an episode in which McConnell’s top legal counsel, Andrew Ferguson, wrote out an answer to a question Republicans wanted to ask the Trump team during the trial. It was meant to establish a B.S. line of argument that Bolton’s testimony would be moot.

The group gathered around a laptop to weigh in as Ferguson typed. “Assuming for argument’s sake that John Bolton were to testify in the light most favorable to the allegations…isn’t it true that the allegations still would not rise to the level of an impeachable offense? They agreed to ask. “And that therefore…his testimony would add nothing to this case?”

But the senators were worried. Trump’s lawyers had already proven themselves unreliable, even when lobbed the easiest softball questions. “Is Trump’s team going to answer this the right way?” Graham asked.

“I will go down there and tell them to answer it the right way,” Ferguson vowed.

Way to go, “jury”! You saved this monster from himself! Good thing he didn’t go on to incite any insurrections or steal any top secret nuclear documents or anything. Crisis averted! The republic is saved!

When the history of this era is written, Cruz’s quote needs to be italicized, underlined and, ideally, tattooed on every congressional Republican’s forehead. Because it’s the only quote you need to understand the modern GOP.

In fact, their motto might as well be “Yes, we know better—but fuck you anyway, America!” It would be the first honest sentence we’ve heard out of them in years. We’re so close to Nov. 8, and our chance to expand our razor-thin Senate majority. Can you help us keep McConnell, Cruz, Graham, and their ilk in the minority with a donation of just $3 or more to our Senate slate?

Check out Aldous J. Pennyfarthing’s four-volume Trump-trashing compendium, including the finale, Goodbye, Asshat: 101 Farewell Letters to Donald Trump, at this link. Or, if you prefer a test drive, you can download the epilogue to Goodbye, Asshat for the low, low price of FREE.

‘Thanks for stopping by’: Biden fires back after Rick Scott flaunts toxic ‘Plan to Rescue America’

Our Illustrious Overlord Dark Brandon of House Biden—Vanquisher of Jabronis, Doter of Grandchildren, and Dread Scourge of Dandelions—has been a right saucy rogue lately.

Whereas in the past he’s appeared content to seek common ground with uncommonly gross Republicans, something has lit a fire under Joe Biden lately, and he’s come out swinging. And sometimes—even when he’s not speaking—you can detect a rakish glint in his eye.

The latest? Florida Sen. Rick Scott, the chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee and Medicare fraudster extraordinaire, is sarcastically urging President Biden to spread the word about his 12-point “Rescue America Plan”—and Uncle Joe is sarcastically (and wisely) doing just that.

RELATED: Going into the midterms, Democrats can be seriously grateful that Rick Scott is on the other side


.@JoeBiden said he wished he had enough copies of my Rescue America plan, so I stopped by the White House today to make sure he did. Thanks for spreading the word, Joe! Check it out at:

— Rick Scott (@ScottforFlorida) September 13, 2022


Couldn’t agree more, Rick. And if anyone else wants to read your plan to put Social Security and Medicare on the chopping block, they should go to Thanks for stopping by.

— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) September 14, 2022

Wait, why would both these guys—one who loves America and one who loves stealing Medicare funds from America—want you to read a Republican plan to “rescue” America? Well, because the plan is arboreal ape shit. And not the top-shelf variety.

And while the plan isn’t nearly as noxious as it used to be—when pretty much everyone from across the political spectrum panned it—it’s still pretty bad.

RELATED: Rick Scott made the mistake of telling voters what Republicans stand for. It's a polling disaster

The major revision Sen. Scott made to his plan involved removing a policy plank insisting that everyone—including people who make little to no money—should be forced to pay income tax. (Guess that’s more important than requiring that all corporations pay a little something in taxes, huh?)

But the plan is still problematic, particularly if voters figure out that it’s an existential threat to Social Security and Medicare, which Sen. Scott probably sees as a corrupt boondoggle because it’s so comically easy to defraud.

Of course, Moscow Mitch McConnell, who understands better than most how to gaslight the plebes, did not like Scott’s plan one bit. Scott rolled it out in February, and fled a GOP press conference on March 1, moments before McConnell addressed what are arguably its two most worrying proposals: 

“If we’re fortunate enough to have the majority next year, I’ll be the majority leader. I’ll decide in consultation with my members what to put on the floor,” McConnell said.


McConnell continued: “Let me tell you what will not be on our agenda. We will not have as part of our agenda a bill that raises taxes on half the American people and sunsets Social Security and Medicare within five years. That will not be part of the Republican Senate majority agenda.”

RELATED: Rick Scott kicks off final push to midterms by escalating his war with Mitch McConnell

Yet six months later, the part about sunsetting the vital programs millions of seniors and others depend on to keep eating and breathing? That’s still in there.

As Democratic political analyst and columnist Ed Kilgore noted in in New York magazine:

In any event, Scott was so worried about the stink of the tax-hike idea that his revised plan has 12 points rather than 11; the new one loudly advertises hatred of all taxes and includes the very dumb idea of making it even harder than it already is to avoid an economy-crushing debt default. But what interests me is the fact that he did not take the time to get rid of some of the other howlers in the original plan while he was at it. The five-year sunset on all federal laws that McConnell considered as bad as the minimum tax is still there. So is the truly stupid idea of a 12-year “term limit” on all federal nonmilitary employment, which would impose costs and inefficiencies nearly as severe as Scott’s other proposal to force the relocations of federal agencies outside Washington.

Also, while Lindsey Graham and friends are doing their best to keep the toxic (for Republicans) abortion issue front and center, vaporizing long-held reproductive rights remains an integral part of Scott’s plan:

  • Abortion kills human children. To deny that is to deny science.
  • Whether you believe in God or not, as a civilized people who accept science, we must protect babies, born and unborn, from all acts of violence.
  • All government policies will favor having more babies adopted, not aborted.

This reminds me of the good old days during Trump’s first impeachment, when Neck-Wattle Nero kept telling his followers to read the transcript, and we were all, “Yes, by all means, read the transcript! It shows Trump blackmailing a foreign head of state in order to manufacture dirt on a political opponent!”

Meanwhile, even Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is now getting in on the act, effusively thanking Republicans for punching themselves in their own arrogant faces. 

Schumer: What are Democrats doing? Talking about new jobs.. What are the MAGA Republicans doing? A nationwide abortion ban.

— Acyn (@Acyn) September 13, 2022

(Partial) transcript!

SCHUMER: “… Americans from every walk of life are seeing the contrast: What are Democrats doing? Talking about new jobs, cheaper costs. What are the MAGA Republicans doing? A nationwide abortion ban.

“That’s the contrast between the two parties, plain and simple. … Republicans are twisting themselves in a pretzel trying to explain their position on abortion. Let me be clear: Again, what Sen. Graham is introducing is a MAGA Republican nationwide abortion ban. If it walks like a nationwide abortion ban and talks like a nationwide abortion ban, it is a nationwide abortion ban.

“So, that’s the contrast. The split screen is unmistakable for all Americans to see for themselves. We’re focused on job creating, inflation fighting. They’re focused on an extreme agenda that hurts women.”

Sen Schumer is right. There are clear and striking differences between the two parties right now, and Democrats seem keen to highlight them. For some reason, Republicans do, too. And that may finally be their downfall. 

Donate now to help expand Democrats’ Senate majority in November!

Check out Aldous J. Pennyfarthing’s four-volume Trump-trashing compendium, including the finale, Goodbye, Asshat: 101 Farewell Letters to Donald Trump, at this link. Or, if you prefer a test drive, you can download the epilogue to Goodbye, Asshat for the low, low price of FREE.

Jen Psaki tears into Josh Hawley for ‘parroting Russian talking points’

It would be nice if we could clone White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki thousands of times and send the newly minted Psaki Corps out to every drunk uncle and horse paste-chugging churl in the U.S., but we don’t have that technology. (Plus it might be unethical or something.)

But while the idea of a rhetorically well-armed Psaki Corps may be a nonstarter (and it would have been nice if someone had apprised me of the ethical conundrums before I designed the uniforms), we’re fortunate to have the Psaki we have. She’s more than a match for Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, who has been half-digesting and fully regurgitating Russian propaganda over the past several days.

After Hawley noted that maybe we should just give Putin what he wants in his increasingly aggressive campaign against Ukraine—a rhetorical dereliction that naturally plays right into Putin’s hands—Psaki let loose the dogs of war.


Jen Psaki slams Josh Hawley and the rest of the Republicans in Congress who have been "parroting Russian talking points"

— Brad Beauregard Jr 🇺🇸 (@BradBeauregardJ) February 2, 2022


REPORTER: “Sen. Hawley put out a statement today saying that the president should take NATO membership off the table for Ukraine, that it wasn’t in U.S. interests to do that. Do you think that sort of rhetoric or that sort of position by a U.S. senator right now is helpful in this showdown between the West and Russia?”

PSAKI: “Well, if you are digesting Russian misinformation and parroting Russian talking points, you are not aligned with longstanding, bipartisan American values, which is to stand up for the sovereignty of countries, like Ukraine but others. Their right to choose their own alliances, and also to stand against, very clearly, the efforts or attempts or potential attempts by any country to invade and take territory of another country. That applies to Sen. Hawley, but it also applies to others who may be parroting the talking points of Russian propagandist leaders.”

It’s unclear exactly why Hawley suddenly decided to take the murderous thug Putin’s side over that of our natural ally, but it hasn’t gone over all that well, even among members of his own party.

In response to Hawley’s letter, Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger, one of the few Republicans left in Congress who actually cares about representative democracy, tweeted this:

I hate to be so personal, but Hawley is one of the worst human beings, and a self egrandizing con artist. When Trump goes down I certainly hope this evil will be layed in the open for all to see, and be ashamed of.

— Adam Kinzinger (@AdamKinzinger) February 2, 2022

For the nontweeters:

“I hate to be so personal, but Hawley is one of the worst human beings, and a self [aggrandizing] con artist. When Trump goes down I certainly hope this evil will be [laid] in the open for all to see, and be ashamed of.”

When Hawley was informed of Kinzinger’s tweet, he laughed and responded, “Weird.” Kinzinger was ready for that one.

It is weird. We are in weird times. Like having a Senator more interested in pleasing Tucker and playing to worst instincts than leading. Denying Jan 6th truth despite fomenting it, among other things.

— Adam Kinzinger (@AdamKinzinger) February 2, 2022

“It is weird.  We are in weird times. Like having a Senator more interested in pleasing Tucker and playing to worst instincts than leading. Denying Jan 6th truth despite fomenting it, among other things.”

Yeah, weird indeed to see Republicans, who are generally all-in on unnecessary wars, do their level best to undermine our best efforts to prevent this one. I lost track of the number of times during the 2003 runup to the Iraq disaster that Republicans compared antiwar peeps (like me, or Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas) to notorious World War II appeaser Neville Chamberlain—all because we thought it might be foolish to invade a country for no clear reason. Well, now we have every reason in the world to project power, unity, and strength in defense of liberal democracy, and suddenly Republicans have cold feet. Unfortunately, this attempt to chip away at our united front can only embolden Putin, who wants nothing more than for the West to drop its longstanding commitment to democracy so he can ooze into the gaps.

Hawley, who attended both Stanford and Yale, must surely know that. Just as he surely knew there were no credible reports of voter fraud prior to the Jan. 6 riot that he egged on.

But Hawley has likely been watching Tucker Carlson, who’s making inroads with his viewers when it comes to supporting Putin against our friendly democratic ally.

That’s right: Carlson’s pro-autocratic bleating is now apparently informing the decisions of Republican politicians, who are distancing themselves from Ukraine as much as possible.


Republicans running in high-profile primary races aren't racing to defend Ukraine against a possible Russian invasion. They're settling on a different line of attack: Blame Biden, not Putin.

What's happening: Leery of the base, they are avoiding — and in some cases, rejecting — the tough-on-Russia rhetoric that once defined the Republican Party. GOP operatives working in 2022 primary races tell Axios they worry they'll alienate the base if they push to commit American resources to Ukraine or deploy U.S. troops to eastern Europe.


The big picture: Republican hopefuls who vow not to assist in any potential conflict in Ukraine are reflecting — and fanning — anti-interventionist sentiments in the modern GOP.

Hmm. Who’s like Neville Chamberlain now? 

Of course, it helps not to elect a bellowing, kompromat-encrusted lout to the highest office in the land if you’re hoping to protect democracy and human rights around the globe. As Axios notes, frustration with our long, Republican-initiated wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as “former President Donald Trump's warmer posture toward Russia,” have helped nudge the GOP in this new direction.

That said, chances are Hawley is just playing politics here. If Biden had said we were going to bar Ukraine from NATO, Hawley would probably be calling for his impeachment this morning. The dude sways in whatever direction the foul Mordor winds blow.

But this isn’t a joke. We’re talking about the fate of a fragile democratic state with 44 million souls yearning to stay free. Americans once cared about such things, and many of us still do.

Then again, Josh Hawley isn’t much of an American, is he?

It made comedian Sarah Silverman say, “THIS IS FUCKING BRILLIANT,” and prompted author Stephen King to shout “Pulitzer Prize!!!” (on Twitter, that is). What is it? The viral letter that launched four hilarious Trump-trolling books. Get them all, including the finale, Goodbye, Asshat: 101 Farewell Letters to Donald Trump, at this link. Or, if you prefer a test drive, you can download the epilogue to Goodbye, Asshat for the low, low price of FREE