Imagining a better world

It’s not hard to imagine a better world than this one. For all its miraculous beauty, all of its amazingly cool life forms, interacting for mutual benefit, all of its potential to be a kind of paradise. I suspect, and every history I read seems to confirm this, that our beautiful planet has always been run for the benefit of the most ruthless and unprincipled among us. It is important to imagine a better world, because commitment to that vision comes before any effective action.

If we had binding ethics rules in the Senate, or House, for example, one member of a committee who stands to profit from defeating legislation that most citizens of the world are in favor of, slowing the devastating warming of our planet, could not block that law because his personal fortune would take a hit. Case in point, filibuster supporter Joe Manchin III, coal profiteer, largest recipient of fossil fuel money in the Senate and chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

The ethical standard for a judge recusing herself from a case is the appearance of a conflict of interest, the appearance of impropriety. Not a provable criminal conflict or some gross impropriety, the appearance of impropriety, anything that would make her appear to favor one side over the other. Why is this not the ethical standard for the Senate or the Supreme Court? Because– eh, FUCK YOU, HOW DARE YOU?!

Ethical behavior has never been a particular strength of the kind of human who craves power over others. Many such people consider themselves selfless public servants, taking one for the team, foregoing the fortune their talent, education and connections would afford them in the free market, and as such, they argue, they must not be subjected to arbitrary ethical rules and certain discipline for violating those rules.

In a more perfect union the judicial system would not allow frivolous cases to drag on for months or years, baselessly running out the clock on various investigations. We learned in law school that you instantly lose your law license if you bring a case without evidence, a frivolous case you have no hope of winning. Frivolous lawsuits are unjust, and hated by ethical judges, because they are calculated only to cause vexation, delay and confusion. They are discouraged because they clog up the justice system with crap lawsuits designed only to vex, delay, intimidate, bankrupt, create public relations campaigns and confuse the public. Yet, of the dozens of frivolous cases brought by an army of die-hard Trumpist lawyers trying to overturn the 2020 presidential election, based on a host of wild conspiracies involving allegations of massive fraud that never occurred, very few of these shysters have been slapped a little bit, forced to pay some legal fees and so on.

Don McGahn, Federalist Society superstar, the man who managed the successful installation of 2/3 of Trump’s majority on the Trump Supreme Court, exploited the crowded federal D.C. docket to drag out a very iffy case for two years– weaponizing the delay to legally dodge a valid subpoena until the damaging testimony he gave against his client, Donald Trump, was a dead letter. You can almost hear the right-wing fuck laughing as he admitted everything years too late to make a difference of any kind, behind closed doors, and not under oath. Powerful insiders play let’s make a deal, while the rest of us must deal with a system that never bends.

I like to think these motherfuckers, the same ilk who were militant in their highly principled, righteous Christian defense of chattel slavery, may be finally overreaching. Charles Koch is an old zombie who has lived to see much of his radical dream play out for America — a nation where those born with incredible wealth are free to amass as much additional wealth as their talents and drive allow, a nation that coerces nobody to give a shit about anybody else, a nation where the government can only force you to do things if you’re a powerless piece of garbage. A transactional nation designed for the well-born to rule as benefits them most.

I like to imagine they have finally over-reached, are miscalculating in their lockstep march behind an increasingly deranged, widely hated front man whose only real talent is stirring rage. By allowing an unconstitutional abortion law to stand in Texas, denying countless poor women of Texas a right guaranteed to them by the Supreme Court because the scheme Texas came up with is a diabolically clever evasion of judicial review — there’s literally nobody to sue to stop it! — these zealot dickheads have finally shown their hideous hand, openly, proudly, the way Charles Koch himself does these days after decades of doing his damage from under a rock.

Recall, the powerful master of the Koch network announced that he would support neither Hillary nor Trump in 2016, until Trump announced that he would put as many of Koch’s Federalist Society vetted picks on to the Supreme Court (and various federal appellate courts) as he was able to.

It is good to imagine that the walls may finally be closing in on these unprincipled, reactionary motherfuckers. Too slowly for my taste, but increasingly, the mountain of evidence already collected and made public has become too high even for modest, mild “institutionalists” like Biden and Merrick Garland to remain silent about. It is not hard to imagine a reckoning, between a legal system rebuilt in 1870, when the Department of Justice was founded to combat the evils of slavery and post-slavery racist terrorism and an incorrigible gang of largely bumbling loyalists ready to use violence on behalf of a megalomaniacal madman to overturn an election he lost, and strongly lied about losing. Trump’s denials of losing the election are as strong as Muhammed bin Salman’s “strong” denials about having Jamal Khasoggi strangled and dismembered, after luring him into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

In the battle between a mountain of evidence of crimes and the demand to deem it all fake, I’m still taking the mountain of evidence, even in this weak, teetering democracy we have left. Especially in this weak, teetering democracy we have left.

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