My grandfather, Pop, was totally against the idea of having a dog in the apartment. He wanted nothing to do with it. My grandmother, on the other hand, pined for an affectionate little companion to sit on her lap. I suspect now that some of this pining had to do with her lifelong sorrow about the loss of a loving little pet when she was a girl.
One of the few stories I remember from her childhood, most of which were fond and anodyne (you’d never suspect, from her cheerful stories, that she grew up in a region where Jews were routinely beaten, robbed, sexually abused) was about a kitten. She was a little girl and she had a beautiful little kitten that loved her and that she adored. She slept with the tiny cat in her arms and woke up, to her horror, next to the tiny corpse of the kitten she had accidentally suffocated in her sleep. A terrible, terrible story, even if we can call it a drop in the bucket next to what happened a few decades later to everyone else she ever loved in that accursed Ukrainian town she came from.
She wanted a Chihuahua, a small dog, perfect for a one bedroom apartment. My mother took her shopping and she found a Chihuahua that she instantly fell in love with. She bought it and named the fawn colored little dog Bunny. Pop, who had made his wishes plainly known, was furious when he got the news. He left the apartment and rode the subways all night long, never coming back the first night Bunny was in the house.
When he got home the next day the little dog approached him and, seeing his resistance, determined (in a way well known to animal lovers) to make him her’s. She sat in front of him asking to come up on his lap. He resisted, but eventually took persistent little Bunny on to his lap. She never left. Everywhere Pop sat, Bunny would be next to him or on his lap. It quickly blossomed into a full fledged love affair.
My grandmother was, understandably, upset by this quick betrayal by her new pet. I recall her, many times, sitting with Bunny on her lap, happily petting the little dog, and my grandfather walking into the room. Bunny would immediately indicate that she wanted to go to Pop. My grandmother would struggle with the little dog “stay, mommy, stay, stay…” she would say as Bunny wriggled out of her grasp and went directly to Pop. He’d shrug and pick Bunny up and my grandmother would fume.
My grandparents slept in twin beds. I don’t need to say which bed Bunny slept in. Pop reported that the tiny dog was a prodigious bed hog. Every time Pop rolled over, the dog would stretch her tiny legs and occupy more and more territory. Pop sometimes found himself pushed to the very edge of his own bed by the luxuriating Chihuahua. I asked him if he pushed her over to make room for himself. He smiled.
“I give her a futz, and she runs,” he reported. Bunny, apparently, didn’t like being farted on any more than the rest of us do.
There is no real reason to add this detail, outside of my lifelong mania for the entire, truthful story, as accurate as I can get it. When Bunny died my grandparents quickly got another Chihuahua. The second puppy was sickly, had terrible diarrhea, and they brought it back after a day or two. They brought home a healthy little male puppy that they named Bunny. Vu den? It was this second Bunny who Pop reported his sleeping war with. What he actually said was “I give him a futz, and he runs!”
The second Bunny loved Pop too. He also liked to get me to chase him around the apartment. He was impossible to catch. Bunny was agile, quick and nimble. He was also small enough to get everywhere. One day I feinted one way and managed to corner him behind an easy chair he couldn’t crawl under. I reached down to pick him up and he sunk his teeth into my hand. I loudly complained (though he didn’t do any damage).
“Sure he bit you, ” Pop piped up, immediately defending the little biting bastard, “I’d bite you too, you trapped him!”
I recall telling Pop I’d prefer to be bitten by him, and his dentures, that Bunny’s teeth were as sharp as needles. He continued to insist that it was my own fault, trying to trap the poor little dog who just wanted to play. How far he’d come from that long night riding the subways all night!
I had a thought the other day about my massive on-line manuscript for the book about my father — write a detailed, sanitized version that gives only the many reasons to like and admire the man, as a preface to the whole deeper portrait. Write the anodyne account, the one anyone could read with no fear of being confronted by anything unsettling or upsetting. No harm in that.
The original first draft of the manuscript included everything I could remember about my father and his life, the noble things he did and the traumatic harm he also perpetrated — along with the unspeakably terrible details of the horrific childhood he survived. I conducted a two year-long interview with my dead father (seriously) to help me speculate about things I knew almost nothing about — for example, a black and white photo, taken some time after World War II, of him looking happier than I’d ever seen him. To my amazement some of the things my father’s skeleton “told me” took me by surprise. These revelations, spoken to me in his voice, furthered my understanding and changed my evolving view of this complicated and challenging person, dead now fourteen years.
People who loved my father could easily have been horrified, on his behalf, at my first draft’s open recitation of some monstrous behavior, always done in the privacy of his family home. Airing this kind of “dirty laundry” is generally frowned upon. Every family has it, it always stinks, why wave it around? Nobody wants that. Unless, of course, you are determined to understand the forces that shaped your own challenges.
I realized the other day that it’s possible, perhaps even desirable, to write an andoyne version of my father and his life — one that shows only the many good sides of my complicated old man, only hinting at the understandable human foibles that we, all of us, are subject to. Picture reading the inspirational story of a person born into unimaginably desperate circumstances who simply would not allow the past to hold him down. Someone imbued by the privations he suffered for the first eighteen years of his life with a hunger for justice, a better world for everybody. A man intimately connected to a sometimes terrible history, who did not shrink from doing all he could to help bend the moral arch of history towards justice.
As any writer who seeks to seduce a reader knows, we must draw the reader over to our point of view by giving her (at least at first) treats she can readily chew on and digest. My father was funny, clearly very bright, an idealist. You see, here he is again being bravely idealistic, pelted with rotten vegetables as he speaks to New York City parents and teachers about the importance of de-segregating the schools in the mid-1950s. Here’s a throw away line of his that always got a chuckle. Look how tender he always was with animals, how playful with little dogs and young children alike! Now we’re talking.
A conman, like a good magician, makes his living by misdirection. The conman inspires false confidence in the people he takes in while constantly distracting them from his other hand, which is nimbly picking their pocket. Trump is, and this is the best I can say of the childish man, a conman.
The other day a Republican Congressman, breaking the wall of obedient, lock-step silence from his side of the aisle, tweeted this:
You don’t need an imagination to imagine what Trump fired back. Amash is a loser and a traitor who is only betraying the president and his party to get attention. Talk about the black African calling the dark brown Indian black!
Anyway, you can read how Amash dismantles each of the president’s transparent and childish “arguments” in a series of responsive tweets here.
The long and short of this “dispute” is that one side of it is based on a careful reading of the massive trove of facts Mueller gathered in the report, the other side doesn’t need to read a word, merely follows hand-picked obstructionist Bill “pathetic porcine puppet” Barr’s obsequious and misdirecting parroting of Trump’s counter-factual talking points.
Trump, who did not read the report, or even the concise summary, attacks Amash, the only thing he knows how to do when criticized. Trump once again tweets, in all caps, NO COLLUSION and doubles down on his baseless claim about the “strong finding” of NO OBSTRUCTION, even as he instructs his subordinates to obstruct any evidence-based follow-up by any means necessary. Even as he files a lawsuit to prevent disclosure of his ripe smelling financial arrangements with a German bank.
Note that Trump insists he was “completely and totally EXONERATED” by the report’s authors, 18 totally unfair, sick and very dangerous criminal Dems (some treasonous) who hate Trump and totally had it in for him. He claims Amash is lying when he claims to have read the report that Trump nonchalantly told America he’s not going to bother to read, because it completely and totally exonerates him.
If he actually read the biased Mueller Report, “composed” by 18 angry Dems who hated Trump……….. he would see that it was nevertheless strong on NO COLLUSION and, ultimately, NO OBSTRUCTION… Anyway, how do you Obstruct when there is no crime, and, in fact, the crimes were committed by the other side? Justin is a loser who plays right into our opponents (sic) hands!
As for actual “fact” and a supposed legal conclusion — Trump insists that because Mueller found no underlying “collusion” (there was plenty of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russians documented, the crime Mueller could not establish was criminal conspiracy, largely because the Trump people he interviewed lied, or pleaded the fifth — or refused to be interviewed– while others involved– and indicted– were unavailable, in Russia) there could be no obstruction. No underlying crime, insists our two-year-old-in-chief, no obstruction! And no do-overs!! No backsies, either!!!
Amash, an attorney, points out the absurdity of that claim. If you succeed in covering up a crime then you cannot be prosecuted for obstruction? Seriously?
Fuck you, fucking puto president, and the pathetic porcine puppet who is disgracing his office as much as you disgrace yours.
The self-proclaimed most transparent president ever has an impressive record. For being transparently fake, transparently fearful of the true facts. Let’s take a short walk through just three examples.
Tax documents that would show his financial entanglements and perhaps disprove his boasts about his incredible (truly) wealth? There is a plain-spoken law that requires him to provide these to Congress on request. That request has been made, the deadline extended, a bullshit legal rationale for not providing them invented. So? He’d love to provide them, he keeps insisting, as soon as the longest audit in tax history is done! What does the IRS say about this audit? None of your bees wax! Make me. 
He is a very stable genius, probably the smartest man to ever hold the office of president, in his own humble opinion. He went to the best schools. His lawyers have made sure that no transcripts or test scores will ever be released by any school he ever attended. He’s sensitive!
His second Supreme Court nominee, “Justice” Boof Kavanaugh , had the bulk of his legal writings kept secret from the Senate Judiciary Committee during his shameful confirmation process. An unheard of percentage of his legal writings were protected from scrutiny by a party gatekeeper (and personal friend of the candidate) who decided which ones to classify and which to keep secret. Conspicuously absent were legal writings from his gung-ho partisan participation in a straight line of hard-line party politics: his work as clerk for a rightwing federal judge who later had to resign in disgrace for serial sexual misconduct (a lifelong mentor who got Kavanaugh his clerkship with Anthony Kennedy), his time as aggressive lead lawyer for Starr’s moralistic, x-rated investigation into Bill Clinton lying about a blowjob, attorney for the Dubya Bush campaign during Bush v. Gore, his detailed legal advice as part of the White House legal team to scofflaw president Dubya, including his arguably racist positions, his long fealty to extreme right political positions as reflected in his consistent rulings on the D.C. Circuit court after his appointment by a grateful Dubya. Full transparency, bitches.
There are many more examples of Trump’s transparent fakeness, of course, but these three, for the man “completely and totally exonerated” by the illegal partisan witch hunt hoax conducted by 18 or more very sick and dangerous hate-filled Democrat criminals, some of whom may deserve the death penalty… well, as our transparently fake president continues his contumacious obstruction of any and all inquiries into what we used to think of as fact and truth, these three will have to stand in for the rest. In the memorable words of George Lopez “fuck that puto“.
 Note that we are not even mentioning the transparent president’s recent lawsuit against Deutsche Bank to prevent them from disclosing details of how he was able, among other things, to borrow tens of millions from the bank to pay off a previous loan from the bank. The poorly managed German bank was virtually the only source of funding for the serially bankrupt, famously deadbeat Trump, outside of friendly “oligarchs” here and there. The Deutsche Bank story is covered in detail here.
 “Boofing” was listed on Kavanaugh’s personal page in the yearbook of the exclusive Montgomery County prep school he graduated from. When asked about this during his confirmation hearing, he lied. He brazenly pretended it was a reference to his flatulence, rather than what everybody knew it to be: inserting a tube in the asshole of some eager to get drunk asshole and pouring enough alcohol into the body, through the tube, to render the teenager shit-faced. So I call the lying sack of shit Boof. Fuck that lying hyper-partisan choir boy puto. As that smug piece of shit wrote in 1998, (source):
Kavanaugh thought impeachment was the best remedy in the case of a president accused of behaving badly. He writes:
“I am mindful of the need for respect for the Office of the President. But in my view, given what we know, the interests of the Office of the President would be best served by our gathering the full facts regarding the actions of this President so that the Congress can decide whether the interests of the Presidency would be best served by having a new President.”
It’s pretty clear that Mr. Trump has no core beliefs about anything, outside of grasping at any idea he feels might be helpful to his overarching need to win at any cost and to see all opponents crushed. His beliefs are purely transactional, as are all of his relationships. Actually, Mr. Trump does appear to have a few core beliefs: vanity and vindictiveness are virtues, law, rules and norms are for suckers and that deliberate cruelty demonstrates strength. His Republican colleagues in Congress appear to believe the same things, or at least, are afraid of the fervency of their leader’s belief in these things.
Some who have hitched their wagons to the Trump juggernaut may actually have deep core beliefs. Stephen Miller, for one, probably truly believes in the Nazi-like shit he spouts, the Nazi-like policies he advocates. The same for the belief, in many a pious conservative, that abortion is murder, in every case, no matter what. It is a truism, in a republic where church and state are explicitly separated in the nation’s founding document, that you cannot legislate morality, but we’ll see about that soon.
Lists were created for Trump of judicial candidates vetted for their fealty to bedrock conservative moral propositions like abortion is murder. The federal courts are now packed with judges who are skeptical about a woman’s constitutional right to have the final say over whether to become a mother or not. While each of these judges, when pressed, would probably give lip service to the proposition that the government may not make moralistic, religiously-motivated laws that violate the constitution, they will search diligently for a legally sound way to make anti-abortion laws stick anyway.
A number of Republican states are in a rush to help in the overturn of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that protects an American’s right to a safe, legal abortion. Many are the same states who rushed to implement voter suppression laws immediately after the Supreme Court ended enforcement of the Voting Rights Act.
In Alabama, an impoverished state with a shamefully high infant mortality rate (and maternal mortality rate, for that matter), twenty-five right-wing men have decided to test Trump’s highly moral courts with a draconian law that imposes a ninety-nine year prison sentence on any obstetrician who provides an abortion in the good state of Alabama. There are two such obstetricians currently in practice in Alabama under the stringent current laws.
If you were to rape and shoot one of these doctors, and be convicted of premeditated murder and rape, you would serve far less than the ninety-nine year imprisonment mandated in this deliberately provocative test case anti-abortion law. The same applies if you serially rape children in Alabama. A nice touch that a female governor signed this anti-woman bill into law.
You can call this politics, the idea that a doctor performing her job, protecting the health and life choices of her patients, is subjected to a sentence many times longer than murderers, rapists and the most foul perjurers get. This new Alabama law applies even in cases where a girl is impregnated by an adult rapist– no abortion NO MATTER WHAT. You will have the goddamned baby, slut!
We need to get back in the streets, boys and girls. Regularly. These swamp creatures, true believers and cynics alike, must be soundly rebuked in 2020, but a lot of serious damage has been done and we need to be out in the streets, millions of us, showing the world, and the TV pundits, that Trump’s is not the America at least 61% of us want to live in.
(By the way, Charles and David Koch’s net worth tripled under Obama).
While I’m droning on about the rule of law, and our morally heedless president, here’s one that caught my eye recently. The president recently pardoned a lieutenant who took a prisoner outside, stripped him naked and shot him in the head. The president apparently agreed that this American soldier had acted in self-defense against this dangerous, possibly al Qu’eada-affiliated Muslim and that it was intolerable that he had been locked up for five years just for doing his duty. Mr. Trump has acted in a similar way in other cases, the optics, or legality, be damned. 
One of Mr. Trump’s first, and most famously in-your-face, pardons was of the contemptible Joe Arpaio, the famously vicious sheriff who set up open air concentration camps in the desert that he bragged about repeatedly. A federal judge eventually informed him that such cruel and unusual incarceration was illegal (this was prior to Trump’s widespread use of punitive child detention camps– now cruel AND usual, yo.) Arpaio reacted to the federal court’s ruling with what the court decided was contempt of court. Trump, impressed by Arpaio’s in-your-face defiance, extended a full, in-your-fucking-face pardon for Arpaio’s contempt of a federal court order. Mr. Trump being Mr. Trump.
There are so many reasons to get this foul, persistent shit stain out of the Oval Office, boys and girls, outside of the multiple, very weighty counts to be found in Volume II of the Mueller report, which people are still fighting over America’s right to see.
We need to be in the street, millions of us. We need to be there today, tomorrow and for as long as it takes.
Note: Steve Mnuchin’s father paid $91,000,000 yesterday for a statue by artist Jeff Coons, after making the winning bid at an auction. I am no longer wondering why Mnuchin has that smug fuck-you smile on his face every time he talks to reporters on camera and smiles about obstructing execution of a lawful request for the president’s financial documents. An expression remarkably similar to the one on Secretary of Education Betsey DeVos’s charming, clueless face, or Ivanka’s.
 from the Washington Post:
Or consider the cases of Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher and Army Special Forces Officer Matt Golsteyn. Gallagher is awaiting trial on charges that, without authorization or combat justification, he killed a prisoner in Iraq — and then held his reenlistment ceremony with the victim’s corpse. This March, Trump tweeted that Gallagher would be moved to “less restrictive confinement” in honor of his service to his country. And Golsteyn was investigated by the Army for the unsanctioned killing of an unarmed Taliban fighter in 2010, an investigation that was reopened when Golsteyn admitted to the killing on Fox News in 2016. In December, Trump tweeted that Golsteyn was a “U.S. Military hero” whose case he would be “reviewing.”
Meantime, Chelsea Manning is back in jail today for her ongoing refusal to comply with a subpoena related to the prosecution of Julian Assange of Wikileaks, an outfit Mr. Trump expressed “love” for numerous times.
Mr. Trump flings his feces so regularly and so wildly that it’s often hard to see any plan or pattern in the spatter. I recently heard three Trump tweets read aloud, in context, and it blew my mind a little. I share them here, the president’s swing from euphoria to paranoid, arguably coherent Hitler-in-the-bunker raving. It is good, sometimes, to step back, with the aid of hindsight, and look more closely at the thing that went by in a blur.
The tweets were read by a lawyer on an episode of an excellent podcast called “What Trump can teach us about Con Law”– Con Law being law student-speak for constitutional law. Mr. Trump never studied Con Law (obviously), and so each time he sets off a complicated constitutional shit storm the host of the podcast, and his neighbor and friend, a constitutional law professor, dissect the particular constitutional issue involved. The most recent episode was called Contempt Power. It laid out the limited options Congress has for holding people openly contemptuous of its constitutional powers to account.
As you might imagine, in the end, real enforcement depends on the federal courts who can order compliance. Courts packed with conservative judges vetted by the Federalist Society for their extreme right wing bona fides and appointed in record numbers by the man who demonstrates his contempt for the constitution daily are not a sure bet to rule by the spirit and the letter of the law. Additionally, even the fairest and most non-political of courts can take years to decide on a political matter.
The lack of a speedy legal way to compel people who tell Congress to fuck off to follow the law is another reason why impeachment, (once Americans are on board in sufficient numbers– and the Democrats have to keep pushing here), is the only real constitutional tool for a full investigation and excision of this tumor of a president.
The professor read the president’s first tweet after Barr announced, falsely, that the Mueller report had exonerated Mr. Trump. Hearing the tweets read out loud really drove home how wild and mad this prolifically tweeting president actually is. Trump was euphoric after Barr cleared him, tweeting:
Never mind that Mueller’s summary ends with these words (words that would not be seen by the rest of us for several more weeks, as Barr redacted and continued misrepresenting Mueller’s report):
If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, we are unable to reach that judgment. Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him,
Then it was only a matter of a few more weeks until Barr, after a wildly spinning hour long informercial for “his client’s” innocence, released the redacted report, including the redacted summaries that Mueller had prepared, and redacted, for immediate release on March 24th. Trump outdid himself with the celebratory tweet this time:
HBO was not crazy about the president’s appropriation of their copyrighted Game of Thrones motif as Trump seemingly portrayed himself as the Night King, supreme leader of the massive and inexhaustible zombie army that threatened to wipe out humanity (and was finally defeated, after epic carnage, toward the end of this final season).
At this point Trump seemed to have won, declaring the game over. Set and match. Suck it, bitches.
Then people started reading the redacted report, released the day before Good Friday, which coincided this year with the first night of Passover. The release was timed to minimize the damage of the actual report. Trump-haters nonetheless jumped on the redacted report, even as many of them prepared for religious holidays.
It was, shockingly, nothing like the report that Barr had summarized in the letter he later hotly denied was a summary. In fairness to Barr, nothing in his letter conclusively indicated that it was intended as a summary, unless you want to nitpick and single out the last sentence in paragraph two:
Although my review is ongoing, I believe that it is in the public interest to describe the report and to summarize the principal conclusions reached by the Special Counsel and the results of his investigation
We now know (as we learned weeks later just before Barr testily testified before Lindsey Graham and friends) that Mueller immediately wrote to Barr to protest the misrepresentation of his report, the confusion in the minds of America that Barr’s misleading summary and ongoing distortions had created. Unprecedented, as far as I know, for a Special Counsel to write a letter of protest to his boss about the deliberate mischaracterization of his work, and make it part of the public record. At the time, the day before Good Friday, all we had was the redacted report released on the eve of two major holidays right before the weekend. The president knew people were going to start talking about this “game over”/”no do-overs”, in light of new evidence,, so, beginning at 4:53 a.m. the next morning our president tweeted this:
Finally, time for vengeance, to bring justice (think Texas-style) to some “very sick and dangerous people” guilty of “very serious” capital crimes. Traitors will be hung from lamp posts, eleven and twelve year-old German boys will fight in the streets of Berlin until the last of them are killed… if the Reich is too weak to survive it deserves to be exterminated, I have been stabbed in the back by very sick, dangerous traitors…
The day after Mr. Trump’s paroxysm on twitter, some of the finest people, the finest people, celebrated the birthday of Mr. Hitler, who turned 129 this year, on April 20th, the day after Good Friday and the first night of Passover.