Diane Feinstein, at a very diminished 89

The New York Times headline:

Feinstein, Back in the Senate, Relies Heavily on Staff to Function

The California Democrat is surrounded by a large retinue of aides at all times, who tell her how and when to vote, explain what is going on when she is confused, and shield her from the press and public.

Mmm, not quite ideal in a closely divided Senate, if you hear what I’m sayin’.

The Grey Lady continues:

All senators rely heavily on staff. But for years, Ms. Feinstein’s memory problems have meant that she has needed far more support than other senators. Briefing her on the news of the day requires longer sessions and more background information.

At times she has expressed confusion about the basics of how the Senate functions. When Vice President Kamala Harris was presiding over the chamber last year in one of many instances in which she was called upon to cast a tiebreaking vote, Ms. Feinstein expressed confusion, according to a person who witnessed the scene, asking her colleagues, “What is she doing here?” Staff members have been overheard explaining to her that she cannot leave yet because there are more votes to come. . .

. . . For now, her aides have been left to figure out how to make Ms. Feinstein’s office work as well as it can in the absence of a fully functional senator. They have done so, some of them said, by relying on the senator’s three decades’ worth of policy positions and explicit systems she put in place long ago that were designed to make her office efficient — and which earned her a reputation for running one of the more demanding work places on Capitol Hill.


How actual Nazis do it

There’s a heated debate about whether somebody like Christian Nationalist White Supremacist Marjorie Taylor (she is divorced from Mr. Greene, but made some kind of deal to retain her brand name) is actually in the Ku Klux Klan, and/or a Nazi, or simply a follower of Q, whose anonymous conspiracy theory combines the best of both of these ideologies of hatred.

Nazi is a pretty strong word, I’m aware, and one I’m particularly prone to reaching for, since the Nazis killed virtually my entire family, everyone who did not get out of Europe prior to the US Immigration Act of 1924.

If you want a lesson from history about what amoral people concerned only with fame, power and wealth will do once they are in power, look no further than Herr Hitler, the adored, mass murdering pop star idol of the Thousand Year Reich. The day his Japanese allies “japped” the US fleet in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and Hitler declared war on the US, the Führer issued his secret decree about how to treat civilian prisoners of war, insurgents, intellectuals, partisans, Jews and other enemies of the Reich in occupied territories. Here’s Wikipedia:

Nacht und Nebel (German[ˈnaxt ʔʊnt ˈneːbl̩]), meaning Night and Fog, also known as the Night and Fog Decree, was a directive issued by Adolf Hitler on 7 December 1941 targeting political activists and resistance “helpers” in the territories occupied by Nazi Germany during World War II, who were to be imprisoned, murdered, or made to disappear, while the family and the population remained uncertain as to the fate or whereabouts of the alleged offender against the Nazi occupation power. Victims who disappeared in these clandestine actions were often never heard from again. . .

. . .Hitler and his upper-level staff made a critical decision not to conform to what they considered unnecessary rules, and in the process abandoned “all chivalry towards the opponent” and removed “every traditional restraint on warfare”.[5] During the Nuremberg trial of the High Command of the Wehrmacht (OKW) in 1945-1946, the head of the legal department in the OKW, Ministerial Director and General Dr. Rudolf Lehmann, testified that Hitler had literally demanded that opponents of the regime who could not be immediately given a short trial should be brought across the border to Germany in the “Night and Fog” and remain isolated there.[6]

On 7 December 1941, Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler issued the following instructions to the Gestapo:

After lengthy consideration, it is the will of the Führer that the measures taken against those who are guilty of offenses against the Reich or against the occupation forces in occupied areas should be altered. The Führer is of the opinion that, in such cases, penal servitude or even a hard labor sentence for life will be regarded as a sign of weakness. An effective and lasting deterrent can be achieved only by the death penalty or by taking measures which will leave the family and the population uncertain as to the fate of the offender. Deportation to Germany serves this purpose.[7]


As the defeated Trumpie reportedly said to the spineless Mike Pence the morning of January 6th, 2021 (it may have been the 5th) — but wouldn’t it be cool, Mike, to have the power to make democracy just fucking stop, to be able to constantly create your own reality, make up the rules as you go along, your every word the final, irrefutable law of this great land?

In the original German the term was “führerworte haben gesetzeskraft” the Führer’s word has the force of law.


A handy, somewhat obscure word for a certain type of meticulously proper asshole

see also, persnickety: giving too much attention to small details that are not important in a way that annoys other people.

Trauma is visceral

If you have experienced trauma, and I hope you never have, you will know that you feel it in your body.

You will feel it, sharply, in your lungs, or your heart, your spine, your skin, in various internal organs. Trauma is experienced viscerally. If you have the misfortune to know trauma, you know that it is awful, disorienting, terrifying shit that feels like drowning or being electrocuted.

To convey the experience of trauma, I think it’s necessary to make the reader feel some measure of how extreme and unbearable the feeling is.

The description of trauma needs to be a bit visceral too. To say that it is blindly terrifying fucking shit is a little more accurate than describing it as extremely discomfiting and acutely painful.

I wrote a post recently that was intended to convey the traumatic feeling of being of being betrayed and vilified by people you love, people who claim to love you, people you trust, who insist they love you while brutally blaming you for their own incapacities. If you have experienced this particular trauma you will know how truly fucking soul destroying the experience is.

So while I can say it hurt terribly when these people unfairly judged me, shouted me down, threatened me, vilified me and did their best to destroy my reputation among our mutual friends, I can convey the experience more accurately by describing it as my lifelong friends exerting all their powers to convince people who are fond of me that I am Adolf Hitler incarnate.

That is the best way I know to conjure the to-the-death zero sum game one is up against with people who will pay any price not to feel they have ever been wrong. There is always a certain percentage of these merciless people in the population, sad to say, and their particular genius is manipulating you to make you question things that are actually beyond question. A sudden transition into Hitler underscores the absurdity of a childish insistence on being right, no matter how ridiculous you must make your claim to righteousness.

It feels essential to me, in describing a complex emotion so terrible, to include an element of discomfort to convey the specific deadly truth of that inescapable trap. If the description is not somehow a bit unsettling, I don’t think the reader can fully understand the particular pain that I’m trying to convey.

The pain of blaming yourself, somehow, for failing to fix a problem you didn’t create and that nobody alive can fix, except maybe the person blaming you.

It is two different things to say my friends betrayed and vilified me or my friends insist that if I deny I am Hitler that proves I am Hitler.

The second description captures much more closely the mindfucking experience I am trying to convey to the young woman I was addressing in the post about our respective traumatic mistreatment at the hands of the same couple. For her this couple was her mother and father, for me this couple was my two closest friends for 50 years, or so I believed.

Let me put it this way, if you find yourself in a disagreement or conflict with people who love you there is always a way to resolve things peacefully, unless one of the parties is incapable of admitting fault for anything, because to admit wrongdoing is humiliating to some. If you absolutely cannot admit fault you must deny the hurt of the other person, and since it is impossible that you caused it, the pain must therefor actually be the fault of the person who is suffering and making you feel bad about yourself.

So it is not that the hurt person who is seeking to resolve things with you is simply wrong, a jerk, or some kind of generic doody head. The other person must be irredeemably evil, a compulsive liar, adamantly stubborn, viciously determined to win at any cost, capable of any insane atrocity, for example recruiting an army of fanatics to build huge industrial camps to murder as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time. In short we are talking about Hitler here.

It’s some sick shit, I understand, but it also is what a zero sum worldview is, sad and horrible as it is to say or write. So referring to myself as Uncle Hitler, even while giving what seems to be compassionate counsel to someone I know to be suffering from something I myself experienced from the same couple, aside from the dark, Jewish irony of it, compresses all that in the best way I know, distasteful as it also, undoubtedly, is.

If someone is not a monster like that, there is always hope of resolving whatever the problem is. If someone is Hitler, you are absolutely right to declare them dead to you and nobody will ever fault you for it. Lest you think that I am projecting, and casually doing the very thing that I hate, I have always proved myself willing to endure a great deal of frustration to try to make peace, until it is clear to me that I am being treated as an implacable enemy. Once you see that, in my experience, the only road is away from that person, no matter how much you may have shared and loved.

Where is my piece of shit emoji?

Smugly entitled turd, smirking the quiet part out loud:

“My conservative colleagues for the most part support Limit, Save, Grow, and they don’t feel like we should negotiate with our hostage,” said right-wing Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL).

Our hostage, the American people and the world economy, fuck them, you know.

Leaving aside, genius, that the hostage is not a party to the negotiation.

Heather Cox Richardson ends her great piece today with this:

Those taxes helped to pay for the [Civil] war and, after it, to repay the debt. And in 1866, when Confederate-sympathizing Democrats tried to undermine support for the government by changing the terms of that debt to make it less valuable, Republicans wrote into the Constitution that “the validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.”


I know it sounds impolite, but fuck the KKK caucus.

Democracy oligarch style

Below are the numbers reauthorizing the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Supreme Court margin that ended enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. Effectively restarting the clock on the long fight to end racist, partisan voting practices across our great democracy, for the advantage of entitled, seething anti-majoritarian oligarchs.

Shelby County v Holder was a strategically engineered case that sneakily challenged reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act by eliminating enforcement in historically racist jurisdictions, like Shelby County.

The carefully tailored lawsuit was brought by a secretive cabal of billionaire reactionaries, who secretly paid a lot of money to at least two of the justices in the 5-4 majority, to overturn the will of the people. And they won 5-4.

Check out these numbers again.

At least two of the justices in the five-four majority had glaring appearances of impropriety. The chief Justice’s wife had been paid millions as a headhunter finding talented reactionary lawyers to work for law forms, including the one representing the plaintiff in this case. The wife of Clarence Thomas, Ginni, a far-right activist lawyer with much more than a housewife’s power (on board of directors, Council for National Policy) and influence, was secretly paid a tidy sum by Leonard Leo of Federalist Society fame, by way of a non-profit that was also supporting the plaintiff in this democracy destroying case.

Can you say 5-4 suck it cucks? Sure you can.


Belated Happy Birthday, Mom

My mother, Evelyn, who died thirteen years ago today, would have turned 95 years old yesterday. I had intended to write something touching about her, and started on this yesterday, but … shoot, sorry, mom.

I found myself sitting at the piano yesterday working out a song she used to sing, a popular ditty from the 1940s called Mairzy Doats. My father would be driving the car, we’d be on a longish trip somewhere, and suddenly my mother would burst into song, with only slight self-consciousness, imposed by her husband. He was also a good singer who’d soulfully croon a handful of notes, the hook of a beautiful ballad, and cut himself off after five or six syllables. My father was well-known for singing just enough to let you know that he could actually sing, but not a note more, and he was equally famous for inhibiting my mother’s singing.

Evelyn loved to sing and my father’s side-eye as he drove was not always enough to make her stop, though it did make her a little self conscious. Nonetheless, as we drove across some bridge she’d suddenly sing “Mairzy doats and dozy doats and little lamzy divey, a kiddleedivey too, wouldn’t you?”

Now all these years later, being a proficient guitar player finally, and surprised to find a certain facility on the keyboard lately, which helps me work out songs I’m trying to learn, I find Mairsy Doats is a pretty hip little tune to play, in a nostalgic, artfully written pop tune kind of way. The singer explains in the B part, “and though the words may sound queer to your ear, a little bit jumbled and jivey, say ‘mares eat oats and does eat oats and little lambs eat ivy.” And this B part, if I may say, I could play the hell out of this B part on the guitar, and it works out just fine on the keyboard, thank you.

And as I played and sang the song on the piano yesterday, with the sheet music from an actual paper song book, Songs of World War Two, which also, of course, had the lyrics, I called out “Happy Birthday, Mom!”

I thought to myself what a goddamn shame I couldn’t have played this simple, jumping accompaniment thirty or forty years ago and let my mom just sing it. Same with “Do Nothing till you Hear From Me” another genius tune from the genius Duke Ellington, my father would sing just that riff, with the opening line, the riff that Ellington placed over three different sets of chord changes to such brilliant effect. I could have backed both of them on a tenor ukulele, if things had been different.

But again, as in my mother’s actual life, my love and birthday greetings for her get mixed up in a lot of bullshit that has little or nothing to do with her.

It was my mother’s love, and, as I realize now, that she never gave me reason to doubt her love, that literally saved my life in the brutal war zone my sister and I were forced to grow up in. As I emailed the day before yesterday to a genius from high school (truly, one of only two I’ve ever met in this long life of mine):

Tomorrow I’ve got to write something sensitive about my mother, who’d be 95 tomorrow.  I’ve realized only very recently that in spite of [redacted] [redacted] [redacted] [redacted] she never let me doubt her love for me in that war zone I grew up in and in the end she always listened to me.  Even if I couldn’t change her mind, which I sometimes did, she always eventually heard me out — which is no small thing.  Probably saved my life, actually.

Thanks again, mom, for giving me life, and saving it time and again, by simply listening with an open mind and a loving heart.