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MAGA fans determinedly wait for the ungreat man at a Georgia rally in March. Photo by Megan Varner/Getty Images

The Best People, Also Some Bigots, Cowards, Morons, Liars, Misogynists and Hos

Abby Zimet

With apologies to Charles Dickens, last week was the worst of weeks, offering grisly evidence of the cataclysmic injury to the quality of our political life and leaders these past few bleak years, from the shredding of women's rights reflected in gonzo contraception hearings to revelations of the "historic ignominy" of Trump's war on democracy. The ravaged result: Increasingly, rule by brownshirts, nitwits, charlatans and malignant clowns - ie: today's GOP - hungry for power at any cost. The dystopian spectacle of the House debating whether or not women should have access to an IUD was, of course, necessitated by the dystopian spectacle of a hard-right SCOTUS overturning Roe v Wade; it, in turn led to the realization that Clarence Thomas' medieval definition of sinful - possibly including birth control, same-sex romance and marriage equality - is, in the words of Rep. Andy Kim, "not just an opinion of one man - this is their plan." In our new, post-Dobbs world, that means libraries in Oklahoma have been warned not to say the word "abortion" or help anyone find any information on "abortion," and abortion providers in Idaho, with a six-week abortion ban, face the "uniquely evil" risk of being sued by family members of a fetus, including those of a rapist.

Of course "pro-life" activists in deep-red Idaho were "overjoyed" and "very excited" by the deranged Dobbs ruling, but they stressed their "work was not yet done" and they couldn't wait to find other "opportunities" in the state legislature to control women's bodies like banning birth control and, we dunno, maybe chaining women to their stoves. In a state where pols have likened the "curse of abortion" to slavery and homicide, and said out loud things like, "For too long we have allowed the most vulnerable in our society to be killed in the name of women's rights," we shouldn't be surprised that last week, at their state party's convention, Idaho Republicans voted four to one to let a woman die to save her fetus, rejecting an amendment to allow an exception if a woman has an abortion to save her life. In their platform, they also reaffirmed abortion is murder, supported its criminalization, strengthened its "declaration of the right to life for pre-born children," and asserted a child's biological gender is "an essential characteristic" of their identity. As their new party chair  they elected hardliner Dorothy Moon, who argued that with an influx of (presumably brown) "new population" and "the Democrats coming with us with full force, we have to be sure we have our barriers up, our guns are loaded and ready to keep this state free."

Because we all now putatively live in Idaho, last week's House hearings to codify women's access to contraceptives into federal law saw 195 Republicans - 96% - vote against an almost universally-supported-except-at-the-Vatican right women have held for over 100 years, and damn the public will. During fervid speeches, GOP pols offered "arguments" - we love the uneducated - that were... phantasmagorical. Despite massive evidence that contraception is one of the most effective ways to reduce unplanned pregnancies (duh), most wielded stunning cognitive dissonance to present birth control as a gateway drug, or for Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers a "Trojan horse" - and no she didn't get the meme about Trojan condoms - to more abortions. Spreading "fear and misinformation," the Dems' "radical legislation" "will open the door to extreme abortion on demand," maybe as in, "I demand my right to an abortion and beside it's none of your damn business why." Taking the say-what cake was Rep. Kat 'Just Call Me Karen' Cammack, who speed-read her denouncement of the "right to deception act" by Dems "looking to solve a problem that doesn't exist" by spending more of our taxpayer money to "kill our children." "Cool," she spat out. "Y'all are a real piece of work." Ditto, we're sure. Tell us again: who votes for these people?

As the week progressed, the race for worst of the worst among  those inexplicably in power got tougher to call. And it wasn't "just" about women's rights, but democracy itself. Day after day, the Jan. 6 hearings revealed a "president" who "didn't fail to act - he chose not to act." Ensconced before (Fox) TV, he spent hours watching the carnage and refusing pleas to abide by his oath of office. In this "act of historic ignominy - no ambiguity, no nuance,” he had many accomplices. One of the slimiest, Josh Hawley, got deservedly savaged after the Committee dug out dueling clips of Hawley doing his infamous manly-man raised fist one moment and, the next, frantically skedaddling away "like a craven poltroon." Adding to his laughingstock status was, of course, social media, which helpfully estimated how fast/slow) he ran and added multiple soundtracks, from Chariots of Fire to Born to Run to our fave, Stayin' Alive. The best and final word went to Michael Fanone, the former Capitol cop who tends to tell things straight. "He's a bitch, and he ran like a bitch," he said. "That guy's a clown." He added the fist-pump to Forrest Gump redo "shows the true character, or lack of same" he sees in many pols on Capitol Hill, "the way they are on camera and then in reality...These people have (no) honor, they have no integrity."

Among the week's usual suspects was Rep. Matt Gaetz, who appeared at Turning Point Action's Wrestlemania of Crude Misogyny for young Nazi wannabes to call women who want control over their own bodies "odious inside and out," just like him. The repulsive Beavis to Gym Jordan's Butt-head and accused pedophile under investigation for sex trafficking a minor and rape of a 17-year-old sneered women who advocate for abortion rights are too ugly to need them. "Why is it that women with the least likelihood of getting pregnant are the ones most worried about having abortions?" he said. "Nobody wants to impregnate you if you look like a thumb." The Internet was pretty unanimous: "Some people just needed to be punched in their early life and never were" and, "Shut...the entire...fuck up." Joining him in his race to the bottom was Garrett Ziegler, a former aide to Peter Navarro who helped arrange the bonkers Dec. 13 White House meeting where lunatics Sidney Powell and Mike Flynn tried to convince Trump to declare martial law and use the military to seize voting machines. Before the Jan. 6 Committee, Ziegler said, he mostly "invoked (my) executive privilege under the 5th Amendment," which isn't a thing but okay. Afterwards, he "lost his mind" in an unhinged, ugly, 27-minute livestream tirade on Telegram that told us more than we wanted to know about what the GOP has become.

Charging the Jan. 6 Committee is "anti-white" - Bennie Thompson, it's true, has a pretty good tan - Ziegler ranted that even though he and his cohorts tried to overthrow the government, Jan. 6 was "one of the greatest orchestrated false flags in history," they're the real victims here and "they see me as a young Christian who they can try to basically scare, right?" Umm, okay dude. "They're Bolsheviks," he said, "so they probably do hate the American founders and most White people in general." Then he dutifully covered all possible forms of bigotry. He said, "I am the least racist person many of you have ever met, by the way." He derided Ben Shapiro and "solar yarmulkes." (Don't ask.) He noted, "I'm not a fame fag." He trashed Cassidy Hutchison and Alyssa Griffin, two women who worked for Trump but have turned against him, as "total hos and thots." (We had to look it up too.) "He seems nice," was the general response, with, "Too bad they stopped the tape before the Heil Hitler." Meanwhile, the guy who sparked this apocalypse of awful is still, bewilderingly, holding "rallies" 'cause his dad didn't hug him. What, he didn't do enough damage? In Arizona, the name Hillary Clinton drew a "Lock her up" chant, "We saved Merry Christmas," no teacher should be allowed "to teach transgender," immigrants are "pouring into your living room," and, "You like me, right?" As to the idea someone can go to jail 'cause "someone concoted a fake story": "How bad is the scum in our country? How bad is it? Where does it stop?" We know, right?


Abby Zimet

Abby Zimet

Abby Zimet has written CD's Further column since 2008. A longtime, award-winning journalist, she moved to the Maine woods in the early 70s, where she spent a dozen years building a house, hauling water and writing before moving to Portland. Having come of political age during the Vietnam War, she has long been involved in women's, labor, anti-war, social justice and refugee rights issues. Email: azimet18@gmail.com

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