I just watched a Republican Congressman named Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) angrily hector John Dean, who was in Congress yesterday to testify about the mechanics and progression of the 1973 Nixon impeachment. He upbraided Dean without pause and spent some time emphasizing that Dean was a convicted perjurer. Dean had lied under oath to obstruct justice in order to protect his boss and himself, before he signed an immunity deal to testify truthfully against Nixon. The short intro to John Dean is that perjured himself while obstructing justice to defend Nixon before becoming a “rat” for the feds, not a very rosy thing for Trump supporters to consider at this moment.
Jordan had good reason to avoid the details of what Dean had lied about — he harped on Dean’s perjury to undermine anything Dean might have to say. How could anyone trust a man who had already been convicted of perjury? Why should anyone listen to a known, convicted liar. The real scandal, Jordan thundered finally, is that the Judiciary Committee is not investigating why the Russia election meddling investigation was started in the first place. (This is a Republican talking point, say what you want about ’em, they stay on message).
Think about that for a second. Jordan angrily interrupted Jerald Nadler when he spoke after Jordan’s time was up. Nadler was chiding Jordan, and admonishing the rest of the Republicans, that he would not tolerate anyone casting aspersions of the witness. Jordan behaved like bullies always behave, angrily interrupted Nadler to insist that he’d cast no aspersions on the goddamned liar and then yelled “you’re wrong!” when Nadler again said that he’d cast aspersions on John Dean. If you want to feel a little sick to your stomach (or be inspired, if you wear a red MAGA hat) watch the exchange for yourself.
To answer Jordan’s central point: the investigation began because there was a strong appearance that Russia coordinated with members of the Trump campaign and actively meddled in the 2016 election to try to get Trump elected. Mueller provided ample evidence of these things in his report (what he could not prove were all the elements of criminal conspiracy).
In a democracy, a foreign adversary’s ability to influence an electoral outcome, particularly in a presidential election, is seen as bad, something to make sure doesn’t happen again. That is why it has to be investigated when there are multiple signs it may have happened. When an FBI director is fired, legally, because he won’t close down an investigation that could compromise or undermine the president’s legitimacy (a corrupt purpose for the firing), it is entirely reasonable to begin an independent investigation.
Mueller, a lifelong Republican, ultimately protected the president with obscure legalistic language that did many double negative contortions not to not provide conclusions that were not unharmful to POTUS, even as he found massive Russian interference, many involvements with the campaign and indicted a bunch of Russians for their role in it. He took a last public opportunity to warn again of the danger of more Russian interference in the 2020 election. The Mueller report describes something like 140 documented instances of coordination between the Russians and people in Trump’s campaign. But that means nothing to the team that controls the Senate and the veto.
Jim Jordan ended his session with one giant, already asked and answered rhetorical question for John Dean (barked out to impress the audience of one all Republicans seem to be playing to): why isn’t the judiciary committee investigating the origins of the partisan Mueller witch hunt? (which, paradoxically, according to the unintendedly ironic lawyerly arguments of Bill Barr, basically exonerated the president). Barr’s DOJ, by the way, is supposedly investigating the origins of this traitorous Deep State conspiracy against Trump.
Let’s take a step back. Why do people fight counter-factually, irrationally like that? To win. Winning is the only point of being in it, this type believes, if you’re not in it to win, you’re a loser. There is no more important value than winning, and if you believe there are other factors to consider, other values, it just proves you’re a loser. People who compromise are weak, they’re suckers, ultimately losers. We play hardball and we win, we won, you lost, fuck off and die, loser! Nice game, asshole.
This attitude is childish and destructive in the way an angry child’s tantrum can turn deadly if the enraged kid has easy access to a deadly weapon. Call me old-fashioned, but I still believe how you play the game and your sportsmanship (as it was called in the old sexist days) is more important than being willing to do anything, including cheating, to win.
I’m not saying Trump cheated to win, but I’m not saying he didn’t not cheat. If I had confidence that he didn’t not cheat, I would so state. We simply have no ironclad, bullet-proof, beyond a reasonable doubt proof either way, outside of the reasonable doubt provided by his abrasive, defensive personality and the lies he tells daily, the thousands he has told since becoming president. To which, to be fair, Republicans have a good answer:
“NOTHING ILLEGAL ABOUT THAT!!! NO LAW AGAINST A PRESIDENT CONSTANTLY LYING, NO LAW, YOU FUCKING COMMIE FUCK! PROVE ITS A CRIME TO LIE WHEN YOU’RE NOT UNDER OATH, AND YOU HAVE EVIDENCE, SMOKING GUN EVIDENCE, AND PROOF THAT HE TOOK AN ACTUAL LEGALLY BINDING OATH BEFORE ANY OF HIS SO-CALLED LIES!!!! YOU GOT NOTHING!!! WE WIN!”
And let me also say, there is nothing untoward, unethical or illegal about having a team of quants create algorithms to pinpoint exactly how many districts in swing states must be won in order to win the all-important Electoral College vote. It’s a smart thing to do, in a system like ours, designed to be overseen by those who know the importance of compromise with slaveholders.
The Trump team engineered the Electoral College victory brilliantly, on behalf of Mr. Trump and billionaire math genius Robert Mercer, a former Lyin’ Ted Cruz supporter, who likely organized, funded and oversaw the effort. The 78,000 votes needed in those four states were targeted brilliantly and achieved the aim of winning the needed Electoral College votes. Game over, Trump president, whatever the homosexuals and transexuals in California and New York may think about the “popular vote” they rigged by showing up, along with those millions of dead Mexican “voters”. Nothing illegal or unethical about Trump’s win, nothing whatsoever.
Sometimes it is helpful to see political and historical disputes in the context of personal clashes we experience. I recently found myself in an alarming situation with an old friend who is suddenly enraged at me, implacably so. The only real cause I could find, after trying to figure out where this stream of angry attacks was really coming from, is that this fellow has low self-esteem which is, apparently, enflamed by my smug sense of maturity. That’s the same kind of thing that plagues Donald Trump every time he erupts into his rages.
Because an “inferiority complex” always makes the sufferer feel at an unfair disadvantage in the world, for whatever reason, they attack. It makes them feel strong, proactive, vital and masculine to punch, kick and scream at those they feel belittle them. I recall days before I started questioning my own frequent anger when the adrenalized, righteous fury I felt was a kind of drug. A very addictive drug. It’s exhilarating to feel righteous and aggressively fighting your abuser. Not a good long-term strategy for living a calmer, better life with others, but certainly an appealing option in the short-term.
The personality profile of someone who feels like a “loser” usually includes collecting grievances, assembling an airtight prosecutorial case against anyone who, for whatever reason (or sometimes no reason that survives any scrutiny) makes them feel worse about themself, and going on the attack, armed with this list of unforgivable offenses. A person who feels shame and humiliation is often ripe for manipulation by people who play to their sense of injustice.
Unscrupulous demagogues find fertile ground in the shame and humiliation of their audience. These beaten people need something to galvanize their resistance to unbearably painful emotions about themselves. Hitler was famous for his insistence that Germany had been humiliated, “stabbed in the back”, by ruthless, cunning Jews who orchestrated the undefeated German army’s capitulation at the end of what was then called The Great War. Yelling to crowds of unemployed, hopeless, angry, desperate, impoverished, shame-filled Germans he gave them a potent, intoxicating sense that he would make Germany great again, avenge this Jewish betrayal once and for all, that the enemies of Germany would be hanging from lamp posts, etc.
It wouldn’t be like me not to add that Mr. Hitler won approximately the same percentage of electoral support, less than 40% of the German voting public, at the Nazi party’s electoral peak, as Mr. Trump won and keeps, using a similar strategy of manfully exploiting the psychological vulnerabilities of his audience.
You feel hopeless and betrayed, and ashamed, because your job is gone. It’s nothing personal, on one level, there are millions in the same boat as you, but still, it hurts a lot. Global corporations have no allegiance to country, they make things wherever workers can be hired most inexpensively, or automate away your job, to increase their profit margin. This is good business for investor returns and the corporate bottom line, bad for workers who have to try to find several shit jobs to replace the lost decently paying ones that are never coming back to America, no matter how great Trump makes America again.
It makes you angry, as it should , that nobody is watching out for you, that people with obscene wealth are taking your job and shitting on your life because they can. No reason on earth not to be angry about that. Who did that to me, goddamn it?!! I would like to punch them in their fucking smug faces!
Enter Trump, with every reason you could want for your anger. He fingers the real culprits to the appreciative roar of the crowd at his perpetual campaign rallies.
Fucking Mexicans, Muslims, Democrats, you see, they’re all in on it, they’re in it with the so-called transexuals and the homosexuals that Jesus Christ Himself abhors. And turncoat Republicans like Mueller who is a disgrace and a traitor, no matter that he totally exonerated me. And freedom-hating scientists who claim all the burning fossil fuel and massive deforestation and the meat industry are increasing carbon in the atmosphere, fuck those lying communist hacks too. Oh, yes, and the blacks and hispanics are out of control, completely out of control, American cities are war zones, total disasters, in addition to being Sodom and Gomorrah. Mobs of traitors and enemies of the people are trying to organize to illegally overthrow the greatest winner our country has ever had as president. A man with, by the way, by far, the largest penis of any American president, a whopping male member the size of all previous presidential penises combined. Prove any of that’s not true, you disloyal treasonous, traitor fucks!
I know you are, but what am I?
[1 The only good use for anger is as motivation. Like a sharp pain that sends you to a doctor who diagnoses the problem your body is trying to tell you about with the pain. Anger is a huge subject, of course, and among the most important to consider, but fuck trying to go into that any further in this footnote, yo.