Edition II - 2023


Or, if not a father figure, perhaps a randy uncle who will pull money from the government, put it in your pocket, and punch out the guy next door. It's a tough read, trying to figure out the fractured social-political scene in the U.S. It is a country that deifies celebrities, financial elites, and techno-intellectuals right alongside right-wing autocrats, hard-left socialists, gun rights advocates, and conspiracy theorists. And then there is the festering race issue, where people of all colors are generally fearful of people of colors other than there own. It is a culture war, more deadly boring than the Cold War that flared only in legend, and may have been a canard.

Whatever the backdrop, the weirdness that is America, the RCJ will follow the 2024 presidential campaign closely and drop notes on those issues we find worth noting. 

Trump is Indicted by the DOJ

The U.S. Department of Justice has indicted former President Donald J. Trump on seven counts related to the mishandling of classified documents, along with a conspiracy charge. These all relate to his activities following his departure from the Oval Office. So, now what?

With Trump being the leading contender for the Republican nomination for President this election cycle, it is anyone's guess how this will affect the already-started race. Will Trump's devoted followers, enraged by the charges against their guy, somehow grow sufficiently in number to sweep their suspect hero back into office? 

Trump will have to, first, stay out of jail. Secondly, he'll have to win out over a field of Republican rivals who are now pluck full of ammunition to undercut his legitimacy for holding elected office. And thirdly, he'll have to beat a Democrat nominee, perhaps Joe Biden, who has already kicked his butt once at the polls, and is now in a stronger position to take Trump out once again.  

Will America be Held Hostage?

Or, why do we pussyfoot?

It seems obvious that former President Donald Trump has broken the law, most recently with his mishandling of classified documents in his post-presidency. The DOJ has come up with seven different ways that Trump acted in defiance of laws in ways that would send anyone else to prison.

So why is the United States government so hesitant to hold Trump's feet to the fire?

It is obviously fear of the electorate, or that part of it that feels a rabid attachment to the former president. These people have already attempted to sieze the capitol once, on January 6, 2021, and it feels like the entire system of government is still suffering from post traumatic stress. 

Law and Order in the Bizarro R World

News organizations are citing polls that show that the vast majority of Republicans surveyed do not want Donald Trump to be charged with the crimes he is alleged to have commited.

This is one of the ironies of the current political situation in America. Law and order Republicans are eager to give Trump a pass, even if he is convicted of violations of the law - even violations against the United States of America. Words like "treason" don't carry much await against an ideology of extreme, right-wing, authoritarian-leaning thought.

Some polls indicate that America's young people are veering toward approval of authoritarian rule, which is a sure sign of a reduced belief in democratic rule. There is also a radical swing away from affiliation with either the Republican or Democrat parties, and a radical swing toward Independent status. Are Independents becoming the new Libertarians, who have always had an ironic attachement to strong, authoritarian leaders? America is weird that way, so they probably are.  

Pardoning the Devil

Don't you feel that you already know how this will end? Trump will likely lose all four of the legal challenges he faces, from violations of the espionage act to hush payments over the Stormy Daniels affairs. His crimes are great and small, and he is guilty as sin. This will all come out in court, but the next President, whoever he will be, will pardon Trump in the spirit of "healing the nation's wounds". 

That won't work, other than to allow Trump to skirt repercussions for his violations yet again and possibly to avoid violent revolution on American streets. The Trump faithful, even as they grow smaller, are a deeply disturbed group, even if some or many of their complaints are valid. Their solution, and their tainted hero, represent thinking destructive to the fabric of American society. Trump's eventual pardon will not put an end to the feelings of those angry people.

The question to be answered over the next 17 months is, Who will be tasked with leading America forward into the world that will be left in the wake of the Trump disaster - the waste he has laid to America's sense of solidarity?

Will it be the ancient Joe Biden, or one of the other bizarro characters seaking the Oval Office? 

Don't Fear the Raper - Rinos Get Game 

Chris Christie - or "Old Fat Bastard", as he is known to the RCJ (in a tip of the hat to Mike Meyers) - has come out swinging.

Christie announced his long-shot campaign for the White House by declaring war on his former associate, Donald Trump. You will remember that Christie stayed in the 2016 race long enough to destroy Marco Rubio, before dropping out to eventually endorse Trump and work on his transition team. Then the two had a falling out, but in 2020 the former U.S. Prosecutor and Governor of New Jersey helped Trump with debate preparation in a race Trump lost by 7 million votes. When Trump claimed election fraud, Christie saw his opportunity to reemerge on the national stage and he became a vocal Trump critic.

Christie's open warfare on Trump signals a sea-change in the way Trump opponents view him. In 2016, when it was Trump who launched a war of school yard insults that seemed, oddly, to diminish his rivals, his extraordinary vulgarities put the polished pols back on their heals. That seems not to be happening in 2023. 

Even that pile of mashed potatoes, former Trump VP Mike Pence is piling on, reminding everyone that Trump demanded that Pence do something so boldly unconstitutional as to be impossible, other than in Trump's mind.   

The Donald is looking at no fewer than four indictments, all of which will become highly-watched courtroom proceedings, some of which could cost him big money and possibly send him to prison. This is the leading candidate for the Republican nomination. 

Messing with Mickey - DeSantis Rogue

The Disney Corporation exists as a separate kingdom within the state of Florida in the same way Vatican City exists as a sovereign state within Rome, Italy. Up there around Orlando, in central Florida, a five-person board of directors governs the 27,000-acre complex of hotels and entertainments. 

The Bing robot describes it this way - "DisneyWorld exists within the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, formerly known as the Reedy Creek Improvement District, which was established by a state law in 1967. The district is a special taxing and governance entity that operates much like a county government, with the power to provide municipal services such as fire protection, water management, land use planning, building codes, environmental protection, and emergency services. The district also has the authority to issue bonds, levy taxes, and enact ordinances within its boundaries." 

It sounds like a Republican utopia, right? An entrepreneurial paradise designed by Walt Disney himself, he who believed in fairies but wasn't so hot on humans of color.

However against script, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has launched a culture war campaign against Disney for offering up a bunch of animated characters who, to DeSantis' mind, encourage homosexual stirrings. DeSantis doesn't want "Gay" to be a word used in public schools, and the revolutionary DeSantis - it is anathema to Republican ortodoxy to attack corporations, particularly ballsy ones, which successfully eschew government interference - is using government like a control device.

DeSantis is another former Trump associate, a guy who credited the shameless ex-President with his first gubnatorial term. Now Trump calls him "Ron DeSanctimonious", astonishing almost everyone by his awareness of the world "sanctimonious", and also "Meathead Ron", which is kind of fun, and more recently, "Ron DeSalesTax". The former U.S. Cognressman DeSantis once promoted substituting the present tax system with a 23-percent national sales tax.    

DeSantis is the runner-up, way back of Trump at this early stage. With a campagin led by his media savvy wife, DeSantis is struggling a bit to be likeable. He has been the Trump alternative, but 

Trump had only former Massachusetts Governor Weld to compete against in the 2020 New Hampshire primary, which is first in the 2024 Republican campaign calendar. Weld only got 19 percent, but he was trying to steal the nomination from a sitting President. Over the past year, DeSantis has led Trump in some polls of New Hampshire Republicans, so if he can score an early win, it might give DeSantis momentum to carry on against the terrible tyrant Trump.  


Nikki Haley & The Lizard with Claws

Nikki Haley sometimes poses cute, but she's got snake eyes. Married to an officer in the South Carolina National Guard, Haley postures as a service veteran herself, a tough talker. After failing to compete with Donald Trump when she ran for the Republican nomination in 2016, she folded into the Trump tent, becoming his U.N. Ambassador. As a Security Council member, she advocated for a strong U.S. leadership role in global affairs. She defended Israel and criticized North Korea, Iran, Russia, China, Syria, and Venezuela. She supported U.S. withdrawal from several international agreements and organizations, along with the Iran nuclear deal, the Paris climate accord, and the UN Human Rights Council.

In this cycle's long-shot campaign for President, Haley - born Nimarata Nikki Randhawa to Sikh immigrant parents from Punjab, India - is likely repeating the play that got her the ambassador gig. She has shown a propensity for working the available options. She was South Carolina's first non-White Governor, and makes much of the challenges she overcame as a person of color.

Haley is a fiscal conservative, an advocate of school choice, and an opponent of abortion and illegal immigration. 

She will be a tough competitor on the debate stage, assuming there will be debate stages. She is polished, organized in her thinking, and chock full of right-leaning talking points. Last time around, she was positioning for a role in a Republican administration. This time around, if she can't win the nomination for the top of the ticket, she would likely be happy to accept a VP slot. She has that left-brained, reptilian quality, that promises that she will advance, regardless of the exact nature of her opportunity.   


Is Joe Biden a Standup Guy?

Joe Biden doesn't really deserve the cheap joke. In fact, it is something of a mystery that Biden is treated with the level of disrespect that he is.

Segments of the Republican Party promote the idea that the Biden's are a "crime family", with members benefiting from Joe's decades-long career in Washington D.C. There have been accusations of graft and corruption, leveraging of the Biden name and political position, but so far nothing has stuck.  

Biden's Achilles Heal is his surviving son Hunter, who allegedly has been involved in a variety of schemes leveraging the biden name. Hunter Biden has clearly been a mess, a sort of dark sibling countering the ascendent nature of his late-brother Beau, who died in 2015, even as he was determined to run for the governorship of Deleware in 2016. Beau Biden was a federal prosecutor and Deleware Attorney General, and he was a major in the Delaware Army National Guard, serving two tours in Iraq. His death of cancer, at 46, has been attributed to his exposure to the toxic burn pits used in the field during and after the Iraq War.   

While the Shakespearean tragedy within that trio of Biden men has been played out in public, there are other segments of the Biden family whose operations have taken place well below the radar.   

Jim and Francis Biden are two of four Biden brothers, and both have been targeted by Republicans, who insist that they are in a league of corruption with their President brother.

In Jim Biden's case, the accusations have to do with his association with a construction company, HillStone International, which won a $1.5 billion contract to build homes in Iraq after Joe Biden became VP under President Barack Obama. Frank Biden has been a real estate developer, a nightclub owner, a political consultant, an advocate for the homeless, and an educator. 

Both Biden brothers have been subject to lawsuits from people claiming to have been defrauded by these two, who promised access to their well-positioned sibling.

Jim and Frank are uncles to Hunter Biden, and they have been accused of involvement in Hunter's business dealings in China. Hunter is said to have received millions of dollars from Chinese energy company CEFC China Energy, which is said to have ties to the Chinese military and intelligence. Money from that deal is said to have gone to Jim Biden.

Hunter and CEFC China Energy team in a joint venture to acquire a stake in a U.S. energy company called Rosneft. That company was eventually sanctioned by the U.S. government for its role in Russia’s annexation of Crimea. CEFC China Energy's CEO brokered the deal, and was later arrested by Chinese authorities on corruption charges. Hunter reporting receiving a 2.8-carat diamond as part of his payment for the deal.

Hunter's dossier is somewhat staining. He had a paid consultant deal with, and was on the board of, BHR Partners, a Chinese private equity firm that invested in companies that were linked to the Chinese military and human rights abuses. He also pursued several other business deals and projects in China with the help of his associates and partners, some of whom had connections to the Chinese government and the Communist Party. To some members of the Republican Party, this adds up to "The Biden Crime Family", which suggests that all of it revolves around Joe Biden and his privileged position of power.

This will all be an issue in this election cycle, as Republicans try to make a case that the Democrat Biden is at least as corrupt as twice-impeached, multiply-indicted former President Donald Trump. 

Biden World - Weary and Winning

Joe is old. He has a long history as a windbag, and that has been enough to make a lot of people dislike him, but now his main enemy is age. No American President has ever seen the years that Joe Biden has.

There is huge pathos around Joe Biden. It is part of his brand. He wears his ongoing grief for his shining hero son Beau like a weight that won't stop being heavy. That gives him a sort of wistful profile, a natural slump, a hitch in his stride. Now eight years have passed, since Beau's promise has been replaced by Hunter Biden's transgressions. Family disgrace has coupled with Father Time to age Joe Biden before our eyes, and the image that has created of him is wildly misinformative of his extraordinary accomplishments as a first term president.     

Biden has some impressive wins, including:

  • Passing the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act, which provided direct payments, unemployment benefits, vaccine funding, state and local aid, and other measures to help the country recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • Passing the $1.2 trillion bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which increased investment in transportation, broadband, water, energy, and environmental projects. 
  • Signing the $2.2 trillion Build Back Better Act, which expanded social programs such as child care, health care, education, and climate action.
  • Rejoining the Paris Agreement on climate change and hosting the Leaders Summit on Climate, where he pledged to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 50-52% by 203015. 
  • Ending the U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan after 20 years of war and evacuating more than 120,000 people from the country. 
  • Restoring U.S. alliances and partnerships with other countries and leading diplomatic efforts on issues such as Ukraine, Iran, China, and COVID-191. 
  • Appointing the first female treasury secretary, the first openly gay cabinet secretary, the first Native American cabinet secretary, and the first Black female Supreme Court justice. 

Republicans have problems with all the government spending during the pandemic, and with the government-mandated shutdowns of businesses. 

Unemployment is at 3.7 percent, as of the time of this writing, which is something like "full employment", and for Blacks unemployment is at a historic low.

These are all pretty good references for the administration of a corrupt old windbag who just seems feable, even when he's winning.

AI and World Revolution

The next President of the United States may well be put into the Oval Office by artificial intelligence, or the use thereof.

This election cycle will be the first to feel the full impact of a technological breakthrough that will make it difficult for even the brightest humans to make certain evaluations of what is true, and what is false.

Once in office, the next President is going to have to then determine if there is any way at all to prevent a future, designed for us by artificial intelligence, from happening.

There is probably an inevitability out there, waiting for us, and it will be the greatest threat to the survival of the human race. Our next President will somehow need to come to grips with that, and have a vision for a path forward to a future that includes human beings - humans as we have known ourselves to be.

Or, is that thinking already obsolete, and totally wrong?

America will need some sort of parental figure in the Oval Office who can see us through what is going to be a transition period even most AI researchers though was years out in the future.

It's not. Some researchers have suggested that 80 percent of all of the jobs currently being done by humans will be changed dramatically with the advent of AI. Already, AI in the workplace is having a significant impact on pay rates, and soon enough the new lower-paid workforce will become unneeded altogether.

Our next President is going to have to consider how the economy will survive if the flow of money dries up. He or she will have to consider revolutionary concepts like guaranteed incomes, a socialist concept that may gain new favor in a future in which everyone is starved of spending power.

Or, of course, AI may have a more efficient way of dealing with a bunch of valueless humans. Now there is an issue for a new President to deal with.

Second Amendment Mental Illness

We hear a lot about mental illness every time there is a mass killing in the United States, which is every day. That's when Republicans rush forward to say that something must be done about America's mental illness issues. All the kids are depressed, to the point where we've invented new terms like "suicidal ideation" to put some shine on what is a truly disturbing concept, and a horrifying trend.

American society and our various cultures are obviously producing generations of unhappy, depressed people.

A thoughtful society might suggest that, while we figure out what exactly needs to be done to sooth the nation's mental/emotional distress, perhaps we should remove people's abilities to cause harm to others, especially in great number.

Perhaps we should get rid of the guns, attachments to which are a form of mental illness in itself. People claim to cherish the right to bear arms - which is a bizarre misreading of the strangely-worded  Second Amendment - because they are afraid that they have no protection against their nutty neighbors (who have guns).

That kind of fear is a mental illness, one that imagines that the threat to individuals is bad and getting worse. That's not statistically true, but rather is a feeling, a delusion, a symptom of a kind of mental instability that encourages people to arm up.

Automatic weapons get all the attention, because they cause the most carnage in the shortest amount of time - they are horrifying. But most Americans who get shot shoot themselves with a handgun.

Gut nuts commit suicide. 

That is mental illness, and it is no basis for establishing or continuing with laws that make it easy for Americans to buy and own guns.

  • According to a report from Gallup, about 18% of adults – more than 1 in 6 – say they are depressed or receiving treatment for depression, a jump of more than 7 percentage points since 2015.
  • According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), an estimated 14.8 million U.S. adults aged 18 or older had at least one major depressive episode with severe impairment in the past year. 
  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 4.7% of adults aged 18 and over had regular feelings of depression in 2019. 
  • According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), an estimated 21.0 million adults in the United States had at least one major depressive episode in 20204. 

Give these people - especially young people, whose brains and senses of personal identity are not achieving maturity until they are in their mid-20s, a gun?

One might suspect that people aren't entirely honest in these mental health surveys. Support for authoritarian leadership almost always goes with societal disatisfaction. There is a nexus, a coming together of nutty, destructive ideas. 

Give these people access to guns?

That would be crazy, wouldn't it?  

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