Fifteen years


Fifteen years is long, for a prison sentence.  Fifteen years for the rest of your life seems like the wink of an eye.  As my father was dying, talking to me suddenly as his beloved son and not a lifelong adversary who’d gotten his young father’s back up by staring at him accusingly from my crib, he expressed a feeling that stays with me.

“I wish we could have talked like this fifteen years ago,” the dying man told me, after getting a lot off his chest, with no grief for either of us.   

At the time I thought “seriously, you’d settle for fighting like rabid rats for 35 years and then 15 years of peace?”   A sadly modest request that fifteen years seemed to me.

He died the next evening and I suddenly understood that fifteen years to speak humanely to each other would have been a great blessing to everyone.   So would fifteen months have been, or fifteen weeks, or fifteen days, or even fifteen more hours.  

When the other person breathes his last, there is only the silence and the love that might have been. 

Rope A Dope, fascist style

Muhammad Ali coined the term “rope a dope” to describe his fight plan for winning a fight against a more powerful opponent.   He exhausted his opponent by laying against the ropes round after round, head and torso covered by forearms and gloves, goading the opponent and letting him take out his fury as Ali leaned back against the ropes, resting while he let his furious opponent exhaust himself and then, when the time was right, whuppin’ him.  Rope A Dope is a stalling tactic that allows you to survive round after round against someone who’d otherwise beat you like a drum until the bell rings.  In the end, if you are able to delay things as long as you need to, your opponent is exhausted and frustrated and you have a good chance to win the fight by the end.

While Bill Barr auditioned for his role as Trump’s gunsel, with a memo stating that Mueller’s entire investigation was “untenable,”  Federalist Society favorite Don McGahn, Trump’s then White House Counsel, was busy getting first Gorsuch, then Kavanuagh, on the Supreme Court.   Barr devised a Rope A Dope strategy for the serial obstructor of justice, the 45th president, advising him to assert unlimited, absolute, blanket protective immunity against any testimony or document release that could hurt the Unitary Executive in any way.  The president instructed his faithful to defy Congress, under this untenable legal theory.   

Barr knew in the end this overbroad assertion of limitless privilege was doomed, like Trump’s ridiculous all-inclusive, lifetime non-disclosure agreements that have now started falling in courts, but the main thing was to buy time for his boss, to run out the clock as Trump continued to work his magic for the far right.

During Mueller’s “untenable” investigation he encountered numerous attempts by the Polyp and his myrmidons to obstruct justice.   Trump flatly refused to answer the last question of the interrogatories he agreed to answer for Mueller, left it blank and there was simply no consequence for failing to provide an answer to the most potentially incriminating question.   Manafort and Stone, two of the most cynical and evil fucks on the scene, repeatedly lied to Mueller, which was no problem since they had pardons dangled in exchange for their obstruction to protect the man who would pardon them.   Quid pro quo, defiance, silence and lies in exchange for a pardon from their co-conspirator. 

In one instance of apparent obstruction of justice documented by Mueller, McGahn (who we recently learned collected and trashed every tip called in during the short sham FBI investigation of Boof Kavanaugh) refused his boss’s request to fire Mueller, tendering his resignation instead.   The following day Trump instructed him to write a memo for the record stating they never talked about McGahn firing Mueller.  McGahn, in an uncharacteristic show of integrity, refused.   He told the story to Mueller’s investigators, under the penalties of perjury.    When he was called to testify during the impeachment inquiry he cited the absolute privilege Barr had pulled out of his capacious ass and piously announced that he would abide by the eventual decision of the court.

McGahn’s public testimony would have been devastating to Trump.   As McGahn’s court case meandered through the courts the public never saw him (or any others) confirm the damning details they’d revealed under oath to Mueller’s investigators.   In the end the court ruled that McGahn must testify, but it was two years later, both impeachments were history.   When he did finally testify, he negotiated the rules for his testimony, including that he would not take an oath to tell the truth.   You can read the transcript of him cagily confirming the truth of what he’d told Mueller, but it is a purely academic exercise.  Rope A Dope works again.

The Democrats, a party firmly controlled by its corporate donors, are not known for the stiffness of their collective spine.  Technically they have a razor thin majority in the House and Senate, but they are being Rope A Doped and played by a party that has shown its willingness to embrace any tactic and any lie that will keep them in power.   Our government’s ability to pass needed laws is being held hostage by a united mass of 50 Republican senators and by two basically Republican Democrats, “moderate centrists” Manchin and Sinema.  If one of the two contrarian Democrats (both defenders of the “bipartisan” filibuster, naturally, and well-paid for their steadfastness) flips to the other party, it’s game over for Biden.   If one of the two holds fast against what 49 other Democrats vote for, it’s game over for Biden.  A lot of power for one contrarian to hold over their party’s policies

When Steve Bannon worked for his billionaire patrons the Mercers, they supported Lyin’ Ted Cruz, until Trump knocked him out of contention for the GOP presidential candidate and was the last turd standing.  Throwing their support behind the new GOP candidate they introduced the flailing Trump campaign to Bannon and Kellyanne “Alternative Fact” Conway.   The rest, as they say, is history.  Strategist Bannon is a thinking man’s fascist, straight up, he doesn’t even attempt to hide it.   The administrative state?  Enemy of freedom and of the people.    We need 20,000 shock troops for January 6 2.0 and I call for them now.  Jews, not for my kids. Bannon will say whatever he needs to in order to advance his radical right wing agenda of securing a one-party state eternally hospitable to the Mercers and their privileged ilk.

Now Bannon, pardoned by the Polyp for ripping off the Polyp’s most loyal supporters in a fake “Build the Wall!” scam, is doing the McGahn Rope A Dope.   It may be a fanciful, even frivolous, claim that a man who hasn’t worked for Trump directly as a government official since the summer of 2017 is protected by Executive Privilege, but that’s for the courts, not the administrative state Bannon is devoted to destroying, to decide.   

The Democrats current plan is as practical and principled as the one the democracy supporters of the Weimar Republic employed to reign in Mr. Hitler and his top guys.   The law provides for criminal contempt penalties that Bannon can fight in court well past the 2022 election, at which time, Biden having passed no meaningful legislation, might have Trump as Speaker of the House.

The solution to this Rope A Dope doesn’t take much guts, but it takes seeing and fighting sworn lockstep marching enemies as the danger they are.  Congress has the power of inherent contempt which allows it to send marshals to arrest and detain any  contemptuous motherfucker who tells Congress to stick their subpoena where the sun don’t shine.    Send a couple of marshals to arrest Steve Bannon, and, while you’re at it, get his equally handsome autocracy-loving co-conspirator, The Orange Polyp, who has publically told Bannon and others to tell the illegitimate Congress to go fuck themselves.  Lock him up. 

The answer to someone who punches you hard in the face is not a careful study of the best way to react, it is an immediate, strong reaction to prevent another blow to the kisser. Unless, of course, a kingmaker like Manchin or Sinema gives the saucy thumbs down, with a wink to their equally compromised buddies across the aisle (not that either of these shitbirds have anything to say about what the House does to enforce its powers).

In other Rope A Dope news:

The 1860 election

The last time this country was as divided as it is right now, it was the monetary interests of the tiny minority that owned slaves that decided the two sides needed to settle the Constitutional question of chattel slavery on the battlefield. Today it is a tiny minority of “Right to Work” billionaires who would, in many cases, be happy to employ slave laborers, who are driving a zero-sum culture/legal war to decide the fate of our long experiment in balancing the privileges of our wealthiest and “majoritarian tyrany“.

In 1860 every state that would soon secede from the Union and prepare for The War of Northern Aggression excluded Republican candidate Abraham Lincoln from their ballots. A candidate must circulate a petition to get on the ballot and the future Confederacy would not cotton to such traitors in their midst, so candidate Lincoln had no public advocates and few signatures down south. He was therefore legally left off of the ballot in 1/3 of the then 33 states. When he won a plurality of the vote anyway (there were four candidates) and a majority of the Electoral College, the slaveholders had enough, Lincoln was illegitimate, their states quickly began to secede and prepare for a violent struggle against the tyrant Lincoln.

Today reasonable Republicans, like 88 year-old Chuck Grassley (running for reelection, because why the fuck not?), took only five or six weeks to freely acknowledge that Biden won the election on November 3, 2020. It took him only a day to denounce the MAGA riot, rioter rage fueled by a long-promoted, many times debunked lie, that brought business in the Capitol to a halt. Of course, once he said these self-evident things he got on board with the mastermind of the Big Lie and voted in a bloc to block an investigation into the January 6 MAGA riot, and anything else Biden and his party try to do. That’s politics!

But make no mistake these “Second Amendment, fuck the lazy poor and don’t let them kill their unborn, no need for a living wage, keep our borders closed, climate catastrophe skeptical, no budget for enforcing tax laws against the rich, partisan state legislatures not courts decide national election outcomes” motherfuckers are determined to see blood in the streets, come hell, high water or even criminal prosecutions of the conspirators most hell-bent on installing a permanent one-party oligarchy.

One such conspirator, contemnor [1] Sloppy Steve Bannon, is publically calling for a gigantic army of “shock troops” (storm troopers) for the next round of political violence, exercising his First Amendment right to talk the ugliest possible shit.

USA! USA!!!

[1]

Contempt of Congress

Definition

Congress has the authority to hold a person in contempt if the person’s conduct or action obstructs the proceedings of Congress or, more usually, an inquiry by a committee of Congress.

Contempt of Congress is defined in statute, 2 U.S.C.A. § 192, enacted in 1938, which states that any person who is summoned before Congress who “willfully makes default, or who, having appeared, refuses to answer any question pertinent to the question under inquiry” shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to a maximum $1,000 fine and 12 month imprisonment.

Before a Congressional witness may be convicted of contempt, it must be established that the matter under investigation is a subject which Congress has constitutional power to legislate.

Generally, the same Constitutional rights against self-incrimination that apply in a judicial setting apply when one is testifying before Congress.

https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/contempt_of_congress

It goes without saying

Of course, mental health is not a question when it comes to people too poor to pay their rent, for police officers who’s job stress-related anger takes them over the edge, for wealthy politicians who don’t think your teeth, eyes and ears are part of your health.

Makes me wanna holler, it really does. Wealthy, merciless sociopaths rule. As for those too poor to afford a home? Fuck those crazy fucks…

The genius of Homo Sapiens

If you are reading this, then, more likely than not, you are a homo sapiens, a “wise ape”. We are so wise we’ve invented countless languages, most can be written in one of several distinct alphabets or systems of ideograms or symbols representing words, which can be used by our most skilled to express the deepest thoughts and most profound feelings we have.

Our species has created marvels and miracles over the millennia as the brightest among us have enabled our species to exert increasing mastery over the natural world. We are so brilliant we’ve even developed the technology to destroy the entire planet many times over, we have these tools stockpiled and ready to go, if needed one day.

Of all of our various expressions of genius, by far our greatest talent is justifying our actions. We never do anything without a damned good rationale.

You have to be very crazy not to be able, or willing, to justify the righteousness of your actions.

Self-defense is a legitimate legal justification for using deadly force if you are threatened with deadly force. Every criminal defense attorney will instruct a client accused of murder, if there were no witnesses present and no evidence — like a surveillance video — that otherwise contradicts it, to plead self-defense by making the dead person the aggressor. We are geniuses, in the sense that someone like Donald Trump can be considered a genius, at pleading our case in a way that makes us right and innocent of all wrongdoing, at least in our own eyes and in the eyes of sympatico people.

If I tell you the story of someone who flew into a rage at me, I will include every background detail to make you understand exactly what led up to it, how unfair, even irrational, the anger actually was.

If you hear the story from the person who got mad, they will often have a similarly convincing story for you. From their point of view, I will be the one who, whether on purpose or not, got on their last nerve and provoked them to defensiveness, which I wrongly may have perceived as anger, though it was, in their telling, the farthest thing from anger, more like perfectly reasonable exasperation that anyone in their position would have understandably felt.

One way we do this is by framing the stories we tell. The proper frame includes everything we need to prove our case and leaves out anything we don’t want to talk about. My father was a master of this device, retelling the story in a way that left you little wiggle room to talk about what was now left out of the new frame. That frame excluded anything that might make him look blameworthy in any way. The more the frame relied on a strong moral principle, the better. The right frame can nip the entire issue of right or wrong in the proverbial bud.

Think of Bagpiper Bill Barr, who auditioned for the Attorney General job by writing a long legal memo about how he’d make the findings of the Mueller Report go away, no matter how damning they might seem. Here’s a piece of Barr’s framing:

So, of course, it’s undeniable, in this frame, that nothing Mueller finds could ever actually be valid. If Mueller’s core premise is untenable, unsupportable, cannot withstand scrutiny, logic or legal analysis, anything he finds, no matter how seemingly damning, unethical, corrupt, illegal or whatever, is immaterial (another Barr fave framing term) because his core principle — that a corrupt president may not obstruct justice by interfering in an investigation into his actions — is “untenable“.

Nice conclusory word, and, beautifully, a legal conversation stopper. If the powerful subject of an investigation into his corruption may take any actions to stop the investigation because the investigator’s core premise is untenable, well, whatever the overreaching bastard finds is based on a flawed idea that a corrupt president may not interfere to thwart an investigation into his alleged corruption. It’s beautiful, in a Satanically legalistic kind of way.

In Barr’s case, he justifies this position based on two things, his belief that Jesus Christ Himself wants a Unitary Executive, a strong, conservative, Christian leader unfettered in the exercise of his CEO-like powers, and that the Attorney General, who works directly for the CEO, has the final say on all matters of what is tenable and what is untenable in the highly selective pursuit of justice. Barr reasons, correctly, that if he is the boss of the Department of Justice, no investigation can proceed without his say so, the buck stops with him and he is the final arbiter of what is just and what is unjust. Case closed. Like a narrowly decided 5-4 Supreme Court decision, the AG’s take on justice is the unappealable last word on what his Department of Justice will pursue and what it will not pursue.

To my horror, after four years of nepotism, incompetence, open prifiteering, constant chaos, daily temper tantrums and countless acts of predictable, petty, peevish vengeance against members of his constantly shifting administration who resigned or were fired, a rash of openly corrupt looking pardons of his lying, justice obstructing criminal colleagues and notorious strangers, the Orange Polyp got 12,000,000 more votes in 2020 than he did in 2016. Tens of millions of Americans had seen him in mad action and decided that he was the man to lead us out of the pandemic and vicious tribal division and back to American Exceptionalism and “greatness”.

Millions more voted to end his reign, but those 74,000,000 are a hell of a lot of people who thought Trump was better than the alternative, the smiling, compromising, slightly creepy moderate Democrat his party’s big donors and strategists selected, though he was far behind in all the primaries when they orchestrated his sudden ascension to presidential candidate.

There was always something a little creepy about Biden, though he has greatly exceeded my expectations so far. To my mind he was a deeply flawed candidate, with his spotty record as a lawmaker who’d supported more than one unjust law and, conspicuously, his inexcusably shitty treatment of Anita Hill, his pathetic decades-late non-apology to her, his famous smile and tough guy bluster. But spin it as you like, 74,000,000 of our fellow Americans voted for the reality TV star who played their hero on a popular TV show where every week the smartest businessman in America fired the next loser who had failed to flatter and impress him. If you consult the internet for the exact number of votes Trump got in 2020 you learn this, in a flash:

Trump won 74,222,958 votes, or 46.8 percent of the votes cast. That’s more votes than any other presidential candidate has ever won, with the exception of Biden.

Like the Second Amendment, which starts with the words “a well-regulated militia being necessary for the security of a free state…” inconvenient words which are discarded in the framing of “gun rights” absolutists, Trump simply goes:

Trump won 74,222,958 votes, more votes than any other presidential candidate has ever won.

True, as far as it goes, though it leaves out one detail many consider important, that Biden  got 81,283,098, or 51.3 percent of votes cast, the highest total ever for a candidate in a US presidential election, 7,000,000 more than his record-setting opponent got.

Partisans on opposite sides of any struggle have ingeniously (or otherwise) resolved all doubt in favor of their side. An incoherent argument works as well as a meticulous, factually predicated one, as long as partisans remain angry as hell. So it’s not that Biden actually brought out more voters than Trump’s shockingly gigantic army of voters, it’s that, as the Polyp predicted, the election was, in fact, stolen from him by massive systemic fraud, a gigantic conspiracy that included key traitors in his own party, and that HE actually won in a landslide since nobody ever got anywhere near his 74,000,000 votes, unless, of course, you bring the lying, fraudulent, illegitimate Joe Biden into the equation.

This is the world we live in, boys and girls. It is well to remember the human genius for self-justification, a genius so divinely inspired that it can make us doubt what our own senses tell us directly. When people are angry, it takes almost nothing to assure them that they are 100% correct to be mad as hell, even as, in a calmer mood, they might be struck by the fact that angry and mad mean the same thing, while “mad” also means crazy.

As I told somebody whose apology I accepted for getting her back up and glaring at me after she felt I was aggressive and threatening towards her, and she explained later that she’d apologized to me for reacting as she understandably did, after I put her on the spot like that, and I forgave her for not reacting better to my offensive body language, or whatever it may have been that got her back up: it’s fucking hard to be a human.

Dig it.