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.