Ongoing Hostage Drama in the Corporate States of America

New York Times headline today about the querulous Democrats, faced with a 50-0 GOP threat to filibuster debate and a vote on raising the debt ceiling to pay for some of the $7,800,000,000,000 the GOP added to the national debt in the last four years, to tank the US economy and hurt Biden and his party in the 2022 elections. (Note, this false “deadlock” over extending the government’s ability to pay its past debts is calculated to make the Democrats waste their one shot at reconciliation on keeping the government running, not on the Build Back Better bill).

Phew, perhaps our moderate president will appoint a commission to publish a report on this in six months or so, after all the new Republican districts are gerrymandered into being in thirty or more states for the 2022-2031 elections.

In fairness to the NY Times and Democrats, there is a brutal hostage situation underway here. The minority-powered GOP is demonstrating over and over that they will do whatever is necessary to regain total power in the US. The Democratic party, with the slimmest of majorities in the House and Senate, is hostage to the united GOP and two of their own.

Conservative Joe Manchin III (Joe Manchin II owned both stores in the small town Joe III grew up in, was apparently generous giving credit to impoverished coal miners) and narcissistic corporate-funded sphinx Kyrsten Sinema, for whom the “c-word” seems pretty apt (goes equally well for Joe Manchin III, actually, though at least he gives half-baked rationales for his positions) stand athwart several needed reforms favored by most Americans.

Truth and alternative-truth are seen as interchangeable, incoherence and non sequitar are no problem, and in a pinch, the argument that there is no truth anyway, outside of a version of Christianity that would make Jesus weep, is dottily trotted out whenever only winning, especially after you lose, is an acceptable outcome.

Yes, Trump was raised by an abusive psychopath, so were the Koch boys, so were many of our greatest and most implacably competitive American winners. The exemplar of this kind of person, and its unchallengeable will to dominate, is the legally created vampire of eternal life, the corporate “person.” In the context of the shocking revelation that Facebook has winked at promoting fear, hate and rage because those driving emotions generate clicks and it’s so damn profitable, that, you know, who could resist? (even after you make your first $100,000,000,000 on personal wealth) we have this:

So, if you think about this, the manifest unfairness of it [the collection and sale of detailed, personalized user data, the lack of filters to protect society from lying hate speech that goes viral and actually incites violence] is magnified by a corporate culture that says the only people that matter are shareholders. And if you think about it, optimizing for shareholder value is like — it’s the equivalent of saying, “I’m just following orders.” It forgives all manner of sins. And when Frances Haugen was talking about the moral crisis of CEOs who maximize profits instead of the public good, one of the challenges here is that, as a country, we have accepted this notion that corporations should only worry about shareholder value.

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The Supreme Court, ever more openly corporatist, long ago ruled that corporations have only one mandate: to increase shareholder profits. American courts give tremendous deference to the “business judgment rule” which means if a business decision has any kind of rationale in the quest for increased shareholder profits, courts will not second guess the right of the business to make its profit-driven decisions, absent a showing of TREMENDOUS harm to society, beyond externalities like pollution, unemployment, global warming, a kerfuffle at the Capitol, etc. Here is multibillionaire Mark Zuckerberg’s one-time mentor:

ROGER McNAMEE: So, the thing here is there are two basic problems that we’re dealing with. One is the culture of American business, where CEOs are told to prioritize shareholder value at all costs. And it’s a little bit like the excuse “I’m just following orders,” right? That it absolves, essentially, all manner of sins. And that’s a big part of the problem at Facebook.

Essentially, think about the business this way. Advertising is the core of their economy. They get that through attention. And Facebook created a global network where people share things with their intimate friends. And what happened was, Facebook was the first medium on Earth to get access to what I call the inner self, the characteristics of people they would normally only disclose to their most intimate partners, friends, family. And in marketing, that stuff is gold. And the thing is, it’s not just valuable to traditional marketers. It’s incredibly valuable to scammers and people who are doing things that would otherwise be illegal. And if you think about what Facebook did, by connecting the whole world, it brought the world of scams into the mainstream.

So, when Mark says something like, “Well, you know, our advertisers consistently tell us they don’t want to be by hostile content,” the problem with that is that some of their biggest, most important advertisers are the actual people who spread dangerous content. So, if you think about “Stop the Steal,” that was an advertising campaign. If you think about anti-vax, those people are advertisers.

And so, the issue here for Facebook is they’ve created this network that is essentially an unpatrolled commercial place that preys on people’s emotions, because the best way to get people’s attention is to trigger fear or outrage. And so, the algorithms don’t sit there going, “I’m looking for fear or outrage.” What they do is they’re looking for things that get you to react. And it’s simply a fact of human nature, of human psychology, that fear and outrage are the most effective way to do that.

And that’s why Frances Haugen’s testimony is so devastating, because she is an expert in algorithm design. She is completely credible on this issue. And the stuff that she shared was not stuff that was her opinion. It was research created by the best people at Facebook at the direction of Facebook’s management. And so, when Facebook comes out afterward saying she only worked there for two years and she wasn’t in any of the meetings, none of that is relevant, and it’s sort of classic deflection by Facebook. And I would argue that Facebook’s responses yesterday really built Frances Haugen’s credibility, because if you sat there after that hearing, just ask yourself: Who did you find more credible?

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McNamee went on to make a larger, more fundamental point about our corporate culture:

But my perspective on this is, if I could get into that room with them [Congress], I’d say, “Listen, Facebook is the poster child for what’s wrong today. But the real problem is that in the United States we have abdicated too much power to corporations. We’ve essentially said we’re not going to regulate them, we’re not going to supervise what they’re doing. And in the process, we’ve allowed power to accumulate in a highly concentrated way, which is bad for democracy.”

But, worse than that, we’ve allowed business models, and, as you just described, surveillance capitalism, this notion of using surveillance to gather every piece of data possible about a person, the construction of models that allow you to predict their behavior, and then recommendation engines that allow you to manipulate their behavior — that that business model, which began with Google, spread to Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft, is now being adopted throughout the economy. You cannot do a transaction anywhere in the economy without people collecting data, which they then buy and sell in a third-party marketplace. And that is, in my opinion — and I think if you ask Shoshana Zuboff, she would agree with this — that that is as immoral as child labor.

And if I could sit these members of the Senate down, I’d say, “Listen, guys, you’re mad at Facebook today, but the way to solve the problem for kids, the way to solve the problem for democracy, the way to solve all of these problems” — and Jessica, I’m sure, is going to talk about the civil rights aspects of this, because they are humongous — “but the way to do that is to end surveillance capitalism, because if we can’t protect the rights of individuals — if you will, our human autonomy — what do we have?”

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Doomed Democrats in Disarray!

The headlines in corporate media put the focus for our political dysfunction right where it belongs, on Democrats, with a razor thin margin in the Senate and two implacable Senate “mavericks” raking in corporate generosity with both hands not voting with the other 49 to make a simple majority for “reconciliation” (and both are also filibuster supporters), are being humiliated, almost dead of self-inflicted wounds.

The New York Times, our journal of record, ran an alarming doom story Friday under a headline something like “Democrats in disarray, humiliating defeat for Biden Agenda” because an arbitrary deadline for a House vote on an overdue human resources and climate catastrophe prevention bill passed without a vote. This happened because of massive pressure, from lobbyists and mainly two obstructionist Senate “centrists” Sinema and Manchin, with their threat to vote with the 50-0 Republicans, to pass the smaller bipartisan bill first. It happened, according to mass media, because, unlike the disciplined, even lockstep, Republicans, Democrats are not united in supporting desperately needed legislation that 70% of Americans favor.

The problem, according to corporate media, apparently has nothing to do with the lack of even a single “reasonable, traditional, moderate” Republican of principle, like the highly principled Mitt Romney, for example, having any problem with their party holding a nuclear device to our collective head, traitorously threatening (50-0) to destroy the US economy and let the nation plunge into financial disaster to block anything the Socialist, Chinese Communist-controlled Democrat (sic) party is struggling to impose on this once great nation.

“Raise the debt limit, like you dumb Democrats voted to do three times under Trump? To pay for a national debt increased by almost $8 TRILLION (25% of our total debt), under our leadership? FUCK YOU, LOL!” You can hear Mitch McConnell chuckling that mirthless laugh and drawling on about how much more defaulting on our debts and tanking America’s credit rating is going to hurt the Democrats and their beloved Replacement Voters, those mindless brown and yellow and red voters with their “entitlement mentality”, semi-Americans who are not obscenely comfortable, who will be the first to cry when the economy hits bottom again.

The problem also, of course, if you go by the NY Times and the rest of corporate media, has nothing to do with one of our two major parties being literally hostage to the incoherent, illegal demands of an enraged madman. His childish refusal to admit defeat, attempt to thwart the peaceful transition of power, his ban on allowing non-alternative facts into any discussion, his reflexive ability to create ever bigger, more infuriating lies and his proven ability to deliver on his ugliest personal threats (delivering on policy proved to be a lot harder than blowing up agencies he controlled, cowing the ‘disloyal’ with threats of primary challenges, or publicly berating and firing anyone who crossed him) is the soul of the now thoroughly autocratic Republican party, the party of bosses. This GOP is the culmination of literally six decades of hard, organized, well-funded extreme right wing work to overcome liberal democracy and “majoritarian tyranny”.

Charles Koch and his well-born ilk have mobilized a collective trillion dollar fortune (largely inherited, except in the case of Koch, who parlayed a measly $100,000,000 inherited business into a vast fortune) to spend a tax deductible fortune to defeat all government regulation, all democratic initiative, all government effectiveness. The Koch-network learned as it went, engineering a brilliant, if dark, secretive and unethical, plan to influence public opinion to deregulate, privatize and ensure that America’s wealthiest keep an ever greater share of national treasure as the earth itself is destroyed by unregulated, extractive business practices.

It kicked into high gear when a half black man (only in a racist country is a biracial person automatically considered a member of a despised race) was elected president with promises of Hope and Change. Birtherism begat the Koch-network funded, totally spontaneous national Tea Party which begat a wave of enraged Koch-powered obstructionists announcing an intention not to allow a Democratic president to exercise his powers to the extent they could prevent it. The legislative workaround of Executive Action, common under Dubya Bush and Cheney, was, in the hands of this illegitimate black puppet TYRANNY.

Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) has presented a clear, horrific picture of exactly how this network succeeded in regulatory and judicial capture, spending hundreds of millions directly in order to guarantee that protecting the rights of corporations and the wealthiest are given top priority by our Supreme Court. I will try to summarize his presentation on The Scheme (delivered in the Senate in discreet parts over the course of several months) in a future post. For now, they are numbered, 1-7, and you can see the first one HERE.

Biden’s response to the accusation that Democrats are in distressing disarray, while the Republican party is marching forward with purpose and unity, was pretty good. Here it is:

Some very sick and dangerous criminals

Hitler supporters called the democratically elected German officials who signed the punitive armistice that ended the First World War “the November Criminals”, traitorous cowards who stabbed the victorious German army in the back. Criminalizing your opponents is a great way to underscore for your people that this is an existential war between morality and Evil. It did not hurt the German rightwing narrative that some of the November Criminals were Jews, who, you know, no need to say more.

Isn’t that right Adam Schiff?

Seditious Conspiracy, Mr. Eastman?

Right wing legal extremist John Eastman needs to testify about his expansive role in Trump’s wild plan to overturn certified election results and have himself declared the winner of an election he lost by an 8,000,000 vote margin and an Electoral College tally identical to the one he racked up while kicking Crooked Hillary’s ass, while losing by a much more respectable 3,000,000 votes.

Mr. Eastman had put himself on the radar of Mr. Trump’s political aides during the election when Jenna Ellis, a legal adviser to Mr. Trump’s campaign, had shared on Twitter an article Mr. Eastman had written. The article, in an echo of racist questions stoked by Mr. Trump about where President Barack Obama had been born, questioned whether Kamala Harris, Mr. Biden’s running mate, could legally become president because her parents had not been born in the United States.

Now, confronting election results that showed Mr. Trump lost, one of Mr. Trump’s aides reached out to Mr. Eastman to see whether he could come over to the hotel to help Mr. Trump’s team.

Mr. Eastman said he was only in the room for 15 minutes before being ushered out — but it was long enough, he said, for him to catch Covid-19 there, and he became ill for several weeks. By the time he felt better, it was the beginning of December — when Mr. Trump called to see whether Mr. Eastman could help bring legal action directly before the Supreme Court. In the days that followed, Mr. Eastman filed two briefs with the Supreme Court on Mr. Trump’s behalf, but those efforts quickly failed.

The Lawyer Behind the Memo on How Trump Could Stay in Office https://nyti.ms/3A7XCfE 

This legally sophisticated pettifogging Birther seditionist needs to testify under oath about his role in advising the former president on a supremely brazen last ditch extralegal way to cling to power, and about the intent behind his speech to help whip up the crowd who marched down to the Capitol and lynch the weak, disloyal Mike Pence.

Am I wrong?

Joe Manchin III’s Entitlement Mentality

Conservative  Democrats, yesteryear’s moderate Republicans, the ones almost universally called “centrists”, are concerned that by focusing on the needs of human citizens, rather than the souls of eternal, judicially created corporate persons, the government will create an “entitlement mentality”. 

That’s Joe Manchin III’s line, echoing Reagan’s racist and hugely successful “Welfare Queen” meme.  That’s the rationale behind Manchin’s objection to raising the minimum wage to $15 as well as to funding programs to help struggling Americans, create well-paying jobs to care for other Americans and combat the looming climate catastrophe

 
Of course, Manchin III is kind of a cartoon character, a smug, lying rich fuck who lives on a yacht, takes in bushels of toxic polluter cash, and has his son, Joe Manchin IV, manage his coal interests, which net him a cool half a million dollars or so every year while avoiding all conflicts of interest. 

When I say “lying fuck” I am thinking of Joe’s recent claim that he never crunched the numbers, which is only a lie because of the “soft-infrastructure” budget memo he prepared, with a price tag just north of one trillion, and gave to Chuck Schumer at the beginning of this hammering out period for the Build Back Better Act.  Joe now thinks $2,000,000,000,000 over ten years sounds a hell of a lot better than $3,500,000,000,000 over ten years.   He just doesn’t think it’s fair to expect billionaires to pay their workers a living wage, or to force them to pay more than a small percentage of their income– not wealth, God forbid! — which will disincentivize them from creating jobs that pay something like the f$11/hr. that Manchin proposed. A “moderate” compromise with the radical socialist members of his party, who point out that $15 is already a compromise when the actual wage, adjusted for inflation, should be about $24/hr.   


Joe’s not a billionaire, not by a long shot, but like many members of Congress, he is a millionaire.   He’s concerned that taxing the corporations and billionaires that support him so generously will hurt them, will lose him what he is entitled to, with his rich guy’s entitlement mentality.   Those fat checks from Exxon, Chevron, Koch, the rest of ’em, the campaign funds he’s entitled to, that he’s earned by his consistent votes and actions and inactions as chair of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, will dry up and blow away like a fart in the wind if the Coal Baron of West Virginia does not deliver for his peeps, the big donors.   

Same deal with “moderate, centrist” Kyrsten Sinema.  If I was an even more coarse person than I am, I’d be tempted to call them both whores.  I suppose they are.   But they’re entitled to be, because the system pays some whores very well. 

I’ll let Heather Cox Richardson, writing the first draft of history night after night, put Joe Manchin’s compromise offer in context of what our government spends on our behalf to “defend” us and how automatic those trillions over the decades, 39% of our annual budget, have become.

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Restraining heartlessness

Dean Joan R.M. Bullock:


Thank you. Well, I will just end with the quote from Martin Luther King, who said, “Morality cannot be legislated, but behavior can be regulated. Judicial decrees may not change the heart, but they can restrain the heartless.” And what I want us to — as the takeaway — is that whatever the rule is as it relates to the meeting of the minds must be of one set that applies equally to all and that the heartless, those who govern by rules which they would not prescribe for themselves, must be restrained in that situation. And if we do, at least, restrain the heartless– we might not be able to change the minds and the hearts of everyone, but if we can restrain the heartless and have everyone under one set of rules, we will indeed be a people that are equal under the law.

Bullock, Joan; Fain, Constance; Weeden, Larry; and SpearIt (2021) “Panel III Discussion: The U.S. Constitution: Reimagining “We the People” as an Inclusive Construct,” The Bridge: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Legal & Social Policy: Vol. 6 , Article 5. Thurgood Marshall School of Law, Texas Southern University.

“Morality cannot be legislated, but behavior can be regulated. Judicial decrees may not change the heart, but they can restrain the heartless.”

Rules, agreed to and abided by, with enforcement when needed, can restrain heartlessness. A strictly enforced law against lynching may not change the hearts of those who feel most alive as part of a righteous, muscular mob hauling some guilty chickenshit bastard off to be tortured to death, but the certainty of severe punishment for the merciless act can restrain the heartless. That King quote cited by the law school dean begins with a beautiful sentence: It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can keep him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty important also.

My oldest friend summed up a terrible and common human dilemma: it is humiliating to have to ask for what you should be given freely, but it is also something we must do. The context was close personal relationships in which the other person treats you unfairly, or even with a nonchalant brutality sometimes, instead of giving you the benefit of the doubt and the steady mercy we all require from our loved ones. We grow up with the beautiful idea of unconditional love, being loved simply because we are a soul that deserves love, not because love, like respect, has to be earned. All love, it turns out, has conditions attached. It can only flourish when the humiliation of having to ask for what we need is not constant, doesn’t become a heavier and heavier burden. Love by itself, clearly, is not the answer to every terrible question.

The essence of morality, expressed by the ancient Jewish sage Hillel when he was challenged to state it, is “what is hateful to you, do not unto others.” To me the simple practicality of this statement stands by itself as an indispensable guide to a moral life. We all know, more intimately than almost anything else, what we hate. If we hate it when it is done to us, we should be aware that others would hate it too and refrain from doing it to them.

It has taken me many years, but I finally understand the empathy-related problem with even that insightful expression of the Golden Rule. Its limitation is our human limitation on feeling empathy automatically, unless someone else’s vexation is identical to, or very close to, our own. This is a universal limitation on our powers of effective real-time mercy. What is so hard about the seemingly straightforward “what is hateful to you do not unto others” is that we humans naturally understand things from our personal perspective and are geniuses at framing things so we are blameless.

“No, I wouldn’t hate that, no, you just have a problem with someone making a perfectly reasonable demand,” is much easier to say to an aggrieved loved one than, “you know, now that you’ve explained yourself clearly, without making me feel defensive — thank you for that — I would feel terrible if somebody treated me like I just treated you and I’m truly sorry and will try my best not to do it again. Please let me know whenever I start to do it so I can be more aware of correcting that fault in myself.”

That second answer is for fairy tales, in the society we live in, or only possible between two people who love each other while honestly, openly accepting each other’s faults, a rare thing. Easier to shift the blame off yourself, particularly in a highly competitive culture like the one we live in, where one is expected to defend oneself at all costs.

We have not been raised in a generally cooperative society, we don’t solve mutual problems as a group, (ironic in a democracy, that), but see and are forced to accept unilateralism daily in our own lives, in the workplace, we can hear it reported in the news every day as part of public life. One unmovable person, in the right strategic position, has the power to hold up a solution for an entire family, or, in the case of government, thwart a solution for the unmet needs of millions.

We also don’t have a social support system in America for, or a history of, group problem solving, no respected wise elders available for advising on disputes between loved ones, outside of family court and the ever-popular divorce court. In our combative society we’re rewarded for playing hard and winning, not for daydreaming and refusing to compete.

A glance around, at the boiling hatred that animates so many of the world’s billions right now, shows us that a conversation based on the need for love will not get very far. If you are a Muslim in India, ruled as it is by a hard-line Hindu Nationalist party, you do not expect love, or even respect, from your government. Love is for the immediate family, the tribe, and people everywhere are always ready to fight for that. For outsiders, the Other, all bets are currently off. The question is: how do we best restrain heartlessness?

Seeing how hard it can be between individuals who care about each other to always show kindness, we can multiply the difficulty of mitigating group heartlessness by a million or so. The common, grim view of humanity is that we are all flawed, corrupt, out primarily for ourselves, and that we, if given the power, would fuck others we don’t care about as nonchalantly as those in power routinely do to the powerless. Given this view, held by billions, the best we can shoot for is limiting the heartlessness of those with the power to inflict humiliating conditions on others.

The dean quoted at the top obliquely references Hillel’s Golden Rule when she notes “that the heartless, those who govern by rules which they would not prescribe for themselves, must be restrained in that situation.” A wealthy legislator who lives on a yacht, rakes in a tidy sum from his coal interests, and is well-funded by the nation’s greatest toxic polluters, does not consider himself heartless just because he opposes any law that would hurt his family’s bottom line. He simply loves his damned family and wants to make them wealthier! A woman who campaigned as a progressive, promised to fight for fairness and equality, be an advocate for the oppressed, and then takes $750,000 in campaign donations from pharmaceutical corporations that benefit from the current health insurance laws in the US, does not consider herself heartless, or hypocritical, when she opposes any changes her generous sponsors would not like.

When you ask a proven heartless partisan like Mitch McConnell, as Chuck Schumer did the other day, for a procedural compromise to prevent the scorched earth that McConnell’s threat to filibuster raising the debt ceiling will inevitably produce, you will always get some variation on this: “There is no chance, no chance the Republican conference will go out of our way to help Democrats conserve their time and energy, so they can resume ramming through partisan socialism as fast as possible.” 

Politics in the USA as usual. The heartless (and ridiculously exaggerated) claim here is that Democrats are attempting to ram through a hateful, partisan, socialist agenda, including securing the ability to continue paying for a debt that McConnell’s party increased by 25% during the four years of a popular, angry, incompetent game show host’s presidency. That McConnell’s claim is incoherent makes it no less compelling in today’s heartless, zero-sum, sound bite-driven polity. I’ve got no solution for this, except to urge strength to the arms of those in power who find themselves in the humiliating position an incoherent set of loudly amplified self-serving lies has placed us all in. Love them or hate them, the heartless must be fought and restrained with everything we have.

Projection 101, The Lawsuit

Now THIS shit is kind of funny.

We all know that sometimes the Orange Polyp flies into a childish rage. When he does he often sues somebody and makes them spend thousands of dollars defending against a frivolous suit. Here in America, contrary to what I learned in law school and while practicing law, there seems to be little consequence for a wealthy litigant who hires an army of lawyers to fight endless frivolous legal battles to bludgeon his enemies. The American Rule says that the other side isn’t going to be able to recoup legal fees, even if the suit gets tossed out of court after a few rounds of expensive legal wrangling, so it’s win-win for a rich guy who uses lawsuits to attack people he hates. The lawyers too seem immune from any consequences for filing and prosecuting their unethical, technically illegal, expensive, process-abusing lawsuits.

Now he is suing the New York Times for publishing true facts about him, based on documents his niece Mary Trump provided them. He is also suing Mary, the niece he ripped off when she was a teenager, after the death of her father, Fred Christ Trump Jr., Fred Christ Trump the first’s one-time favorite and all-around good guy. The Polyp used lifelong medical care for Mary’s disabled infant nephew as leverage in the fight over the contested will.

A week after they went to court, a Trump family company cut off health insurance to Mary Trump, her mother, brother and her brother’s family, including Fred III’s 9-month-old son William, who had suffered from seizure disorders and would be diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Donald Trump acknowledged the termination of the insurance was related to the fight over his father’s will.

“When [Fred III] sued us, we said, ‘Why should we give him medical coverage?’” he told The Daily News at the time. Mary Trump told the newspaper that by contesting the will she was fighting for their father to be recognized. “He existed, he lived, he was their oldest son. And William is my father’s grandson,” she said.

Litigation over the will and the health insurance became the vehicles for the Trumps to hurl insults and raise grievances that had hung in the air for years.

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Mary Trump had this to say about her uncle’s frivolous lawsuit “Donald is a fucking loser.” His lawsuit is a loser too, of course, since, in order to proceed the Polyp must undergo the deposition the NY Times and Mary Trump will demand. Since he is unable to refrain from lying, saying anything under oath, subject to the penalties for perjury, is always a problem for him. Here is the heart of the Polyp’s claim against his niece, his suit accuses the NY Times and:

As Glenn Kirschner put it when reviewing the case:

Let’s face it, if there’s anybody who knows what it’s like to be motivated by a personal vendetta, a desire to gain fame, notoriety, acclaim and a financial windfall, it’s the orange one.

watch the video

In Happier Days

Let me first point out that the happiest days of some of our greatest American “winners” are the stuff of nightmares, fleeting breaks from the relentless, high-pressure, anything goes war they wage against everybody. Their happy moments are momentary flushes of “victory” that can never be sustained, since their thirst for dominance is unquenchable, and even their greatest wins only make them more determined to fight and win the next grim battle.

To those who view life as total, endless war, a war where every tactic is on the table and scorching the earth that provides sustenance to those they hate is a great thrill, their happiness consists in the suffering of the hated enemies. If it means millions of their own have to die, so be it, that’s part of the price of being the greatest. Ask Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, Jared Kushner.

That said, here are two great Americans, now slightly estranged from each other, though they both serve the same psychopathic worldview, the same impulse to dominate at any cost, the same deranged disregard for everybody else’s troubles. Here are two powerful motherfuckers in “happier” days.

Note their genuine warmth toward each other

How smart well-funded American Nazis use the law

How to get tax exempt status, keep your wealthy donors secret and spend unlimited amounts to promote lies useful to your larger mission — a one party corporate-private state to protect the interests of the super-wealthy in perpetuity. From another excellent investigative report by the great Jane Mayer:

One recipient of Bradley money is True the Vote, a Texas-based group that, among other things, trains people to monitor polling sites. Mitchell has served as its legal counsel, and hacked documents show that she advocated to the I.R.S. that the group deserved tax-exempt status as a charity. To earn such a designation, a group must file federal tax forms promising not to engage in electoral politics. In a letter of support, she asserted that “fraudulent voting occurs in the United States,” citing a 2010 case in which the F.B.I. arrested nine Floridians for election violations. But, as with many voter-fraud allegations, the details of the case were less than advertised. The accusation involved a school-board election in a rural Black community in which a campaign had collected dozens of absentee ballots, in violation of the law. The charges were eventually dismissed. The judge found “no intent to cast a false or fraudulent ballot.” True the Vote, which was granted tax-exempt status, has since been the subject of numerous complaints from voters, who have accused it of intimidation and racism.

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Speaking of partisans monitoring polling sites and hovering over voters to intimidate them, particularly in states where you can carry a gun without a permit, there are new provisions in the Democratic attempt to save democracy, tweaks to the John Lewis Voting Rights Bill, to give voters a minimum 8 foot distance from hovering, partisan poll watchers. For every step American fascists take, supporters of democracy must devise a counter-measure. All this takes a lot of time, and if we are to have fair elections again in 2022 there is no time to waste protecting the right to vote and the right to have those votes counted by impartial officials.

Of course passing any voter protection law will require a radical change in the hearts of at least ten Senate Republicans, to overcome that tool of “bipartisan compromise” the filibuster. Or, more realistically, it will require carving out a filibuster exception for Voting Rights , as McDonnell did for Supreme Court confirmations when he abolished the filibuster and 60 vote threshold for the confirmation of controversial, ideologically pure Supreme Court justices, members of a right wing legal fraternity chosen by that fraternity for their fidelity to corporate interests, dark money in politics, religious rights and partisan voting shenanigans being fine, unless they INTENTIONALLY target the people most effected by these laws, ON THE BASIS OF RACE. Also, of course, dedicated to outlawing abortion across the country for women without the money to fly to clinics outside the country for their own discreet procedures.

Sheldon Whitehouse has done a series of excellent presentations on the corrosively corrupt power of dark money in judicial appointments, and state takeovers by allies of ALEC (Joe Manchin III is a member of ALEC, naturally). Here is part of it, delivered during the rushed hearings before Amy Coney Barrett was shoved down America’s throat, 52-48, days before the election as Trump planned his insurrection to steal back the soon to be “stolen” election. In these remarks from the Senate floor Whitehouse described the rash of 5-4 Supreme Court decisions, decided on purely partisan lines, 80 cases of pure simple majority 5-4 judicial activism by members of an ideologically pure right wing fraternity, taking their orders from the people who secretly put up $250,000,000 in dark money to get their judges on the federal bench, because… they are making America great again, for the wealthiest and least principled among us.

Whitehouse outlined the main goals of the anonymous billionaire polluters and privilege protectors who fund the lifetime appointments of right wing superstars: unlimited dark money in politics, demean and diminish the civil jury, weaken regulatory agencies, allow the legal suppression of votes for partisan advantage. Now look at the EIGHTY [80] 5-4 partisan decisions made by the Roberts Court and note how consistently those goals were met in every case. The ideological score on those party-line cases is 80-0. A pretty good return on a quarter of a billion dollars in dark, tax-deductible money.

Here is Whitehouse, last week, describing the audition and appointment of Boof Kavanaugh [1], the snarling, lying (“Boof”, according to Kavanaugh, means gassy, not having alcohol poured into your asshole, through a funnel and tube, ‘Devil’s Triangle” is a drinking game, nothing to do with sex between two guys and a woman, as its common meaning would have it, and Team Kavanaugh quickly posted some changes to Wikipedia, from an office in the Capitol building, as Boof was making up the drinking game), super-ambitious partisan who, after he got tearful at his confirmation hearing about his likely defeat, came out in the final round kicking, biting, hissing, gouging and scratching — to preserve his life, which George Soros and liberal Jews, getting revenge on behalf of the Clintons, were trying to destroy with paid lying liars accusing him and an army of them making FBI complaints about his unfitness for office. Thankfully, in spite of American Jesuits and various bar organizations calling for Kavanaugh to withdraw from consideration, Trump ordered the FBI to quickly investigate Kavanaugh VERY CAREFULLY and in a TOP SECRET manner (all tips vetted by Don McGahn) that would ensure nothing bad would be found or revealed about the petulant, entitled candidate for a lifetime of joining his right wing colleagues for a series of unappealable 5-4 Federalist Society rulings.

Thankfully, we are only a month or two away from Biden’s Committee of Legal Experts issuing their report. A report all legal scholars agree will confirm that the Constitution allows Congress to change the number of Supreme Court justices, particularly when preserving the integrity of the judiciary is the goal.

[1]

As for the traumatized woman, Christine Blasey-Ford, who, with nothing whatsoever to gain and everything to lose (and who, along with her family, has paid a steep personal price), testified about Kavanaugh’s drunken, traumatizing behavior, well… she was just part of a calculated, orchestrated, well-financed Clinton-backed cabal of extremists who hate him because he loves God and his family and doesn’t believe any of that godless crap they preach. As for the official Catholic publication in America removing their endorsement of him, or the similar American Bar Association position that, in light of these serious allegations, Boof needed to remove his name from nomination – what don’t you get about George fucking Soros?!!!

Trump Had a Mob. He also had a plan

A great piece by Jamelle Bouie, in the NY Times

Trump Had a Mob. He Also Had a Plan. 

https://nyti.ms/3lX0uH8

When this was first revealed, I assumed that Trump simply wanted Pence to do whatever it would take to keep himself in power. But this week we learned that he had an actual plan in mind, devised by John Eastman, a prominent conservative lawyer who worked with the former president to challenge the election results, a job that included a speaking slot at the rally on the National Mall that preceded the attack on the Capitol.

“We know there was fraud,” Eastman said to the crowd that would become a mob. “We know that dead people voted.”

“All we are demanding of Vice President Pence,” he continued, “is this afternoon at 1 o’clock, he let the legislatures of the states look into this so we get to the bottom of it and the American people know whether we have control of the direction of our government or not!”

These weren’t just the ravings of a partisan. Eastman was essentially summarizing the contents of a memo he had written on Trump’s behalf, describing the steps Pence would take to overturn the election in Trump’s favor.

https://nyti.ms/3lX0uH8

We need a subpoena for John Batshit Eastman

https://www.newsweek.com/some-questions-kamala-harris-about-eligibility-opinion-1524483?amp=1