Decades ago, in an ancient, narrow brick building on City College’s south campus, Wagner Hall, I think, an annex to the grand Mott Hall, if I recall correctly, (both most likely demolished and replaced by now) I took some philosophy courses.  In one of these classes the professor told us that to get into the philosopher’s club in ancient Athens a person was required to stand on a certain corner and, for one hour, not think of a polar bear (I never stopped to think how ancient Athenians would have known about polar bears).   The point was that this was a test to see if your mind was mature and disciplined enough to contemplate more important things and not be distracted by trivia, such as a random distraction it was useless to think about.  It was this kind of thing that drew me to philosophy, though, I have to say, of all the things I have read, philosophy was always the most poorly written.  Of course, philosophical treatises are full of uniquely complicated ideas badly translated, I never read Plato in the Greek or Kant in German.  It would have all been Greek to me anyway, as they say.

I’m thinking about this today because I’ve had some recent conversations during which, so long as I don’t ask the wrong question, often a very obvious one, everything is jolly and carefree.  I offer the example of a talk I had after the recent death of my old friend Les.   I’ll be writing and posting a little homage to Les soon.   Meantime, I learned of his death from some texts and emails the other night, sent and forwarded by an estranged friend, the widow of my dear friend Howie Katz, who died in 2010, shortly before my mother did.   It was Les, in fact, who called to give me the awful news about Howie.  In contrast to my mother’s long decline and struggle against death, Howie went out in a moment, painlessly, in his prime, like a candle flame winking out in a soft breeze.  While waiting at a red light at the bottom of a ramp a moment after exiting a freeway in East Bay.

I spoke to his wife fairly often in the weeks, months and years after Howie died.  It was my way of honoring my friendship with a beautiful soul, doing my best to help look after the person he loved the most, his wife Jackie.  She was in great pain and we would speak for hours at a time.  I live almost 3,000 miles from her (2,575), so these long phone calls were the closest I could come to visits.  Her pain focused on her isolation, how all of their good friends seemed to be avoiding her, as well as her ongoing, worsening troubles at work.  I listened with sympathy, condemning the friends she was angry at, agreeing that her longtime rival at work, Craig, was an evil bastard and that the rest of the hierarchy there who took his side, and kept promoting him, were spineless weasels.  Our talks kept to this format, after a quick back and forth about what was new in our lives I’d settle into listening to her detailed grievances and giving her support.

I was unable to be at Howie’s funeral, but I made sure to be at his unveiling (the ceremony in which the deceased’s gravestone is “unveiled”) a year later.  I helped Jackie shop for and prepare the food that would be served afterwards.  Exhausted after a short night’s sleep the night I arrived, I got up early, went on a shopping trip and helped out the best I could.  Preparing cucumbers and tomatoes for an Israeli salad (also known as a Lebanese salad, Palestinian salad, Turkish salad, etc. — just add minced garlic amd lemon juice) I sat in a chair in her kitchen.   She told me real chefs don’t sit, they stand, and then critiqued the size of the cubes I was cutting, way too big!  Howie found pleasure in serving and helping others, doing whatever they needed to feel comfortable.  I don’t have Howie’s grace, and probably muttered as I stood up, after protesting that I was not a real chef, and cut each of my cubes into four.  Aside from that, she was gracious about my help, I suppose.

Where Howie was gregarious, Jackie is mostly private.  Where Howie was outgoing, irreverent and sometimes hilarious, Jackie is not prone to reaching out to or entertaining others.  I’ve seen the kind of isolation in widowhood Jackie went through with other couples, including my parents.  After the death of the more socially adept partner, friends of the couple begin drifting away.   I did not want Howie’s wife to feel this distance from me.  I’d been their guest many times, loved Howie, had always had a good relationship with Jackie, who is very smart and used to have (at any rate, I remember it) a good sense of humor and a hearty laugh.

Over the years, it got harder and harder.  One thing that grated on Sekhnet (who also loved Howie and accepted Jackie for the sake of Howie) was Jackie’s ingratitude, or to put it more charitably, her difficulty expressing gratitude.   The hardest I ever worked was the week I spent before her daughter’s wedding, playing the guitar seven to ten hours a day to come up with arrangements, and making sure I was able to execute all the parts flawlessly every time, to be a one man band behind my friend who was playing the melodies on harmonica or sax.  The music came off great on the day of the wedding.  The bride, who’d asked us to play, which honored us greatly, hugged us and thanked us afterwards.   Jackie never said anything.  I understood finally that she is probably on the Asperger’s spectrum.  Eventually, after several more attempts to keep our relationship alive over the next few years, I succumbed to the numbness of unrequited friendship.

When all the texts and emails came in from her about Les being in his final hours the other night (she’d also waited til Rom was in a coma to inform me, by text, that he was in the hospital) I began responding to Jackie’s “this is not good” text when I hit dial instead and a moment later was speaking to her.   

We commiserated about our friend until, about five minutes in, Jackie began telling me of her recent struggles and sorrows, she’d had a stroke — which I hadn’t ever inquired about, or even seemed to know about — and then she told the detailed story of her father’s death, at 99, how badly he’d wanted to make it to 100 and how much harder it was for everybody that his death happened during Covid.  The pain to her sister, who’d been forced to attend the funeral over Zoom, was something she and her sister were having a very hard time with.   We spoke for about a half hour, or rather, she spoke and I responded sympathetically.  It was as if we’d talked the week before.

The polar bear popped into my head and I asked the obvious question:  We’re having a perfectly amiable chat, why is it that we haven’t talked in more than five years?

“You stopped talking to me,” she said.

I recounted the half dozen attempts I’d made to show her friendship in recent years.   Exerting myself to meet her whenever she was in NY, in spite of only finding out about each of her trips once she was days from leaving NY.   Making plans, two weeks in advance, to stay with her for a couple of days during my last visit to San Francisco, plans she cancelled as I was literally blocks from her house with my overnight bag.

“I don’t remember any of that, because of the stroke,” she said.

“So what gives you the idea that I stopped talking to you?” I asked.

“Because you stopped talking to me.  Marilyn told me that you stopped talking to me,” she said.

If I hadn’t asked the obvious question, I’d never have known, or even suspected, that it was me, once more, completely in the wrong.

Big Lie equals Big Grift

The most successful business venture Donald Trump has ever launched, with a 500% return on investment [1], that is, investing the initial money obtained in the grift and having it grow five fold, was monetizing the infuriating white lie that a powerful bipartisan cabal of pedophile cannibals and RINOs illegally deprived him of rightful reelection in 2020.

We now know that the DOJ is investigating this scam. 40 key players in the grift have recently been subpoenaed, a few have had phones seized. The DOJ is apparently not fooling around.

But what should not be overlooked is that F POTUS has proved that his genius is in mass marketing. He should be given kudos for that, along with his criminal indictment.

Greg Sargent writing in today’s Washington Post:

But the Times also reports this:
For months, associates of Mr. Trump have received subpoenas related to other aspects of the investigations into his efforts to cling to power. But in a new line of inquiry, some of the latest subpoenas focus on the activities of the Save America political action committee, the main political fund-raising conduit for Mr. Trump since he left office.
The Associated Press adds more, reporting that subpoenas have been issued to seek “information about the political action committee’s fundraising practices.”
This is of interest because the Save America PAC’s “fundraising practices” seem to represent the moment when the “big lie” monetized itself into the “big grift” in spectacular fashion.

[1] I base this profit margin on the uncontradicted statement by Eric Swalwell, at F POTUS’s second impeachment trial, that the Trump campaign spent $50 million dollars on advertising the lie that the election had been stolen. That 50 million investment resulted in an estimated 250 million fund. Not bad, Trumpie!

Propaganda 101

You take a political disaster for your side — say your man has illegally taken classified documents, some very sensitive, after leaving the White House, and they caught him lying about it, they have the actual evidence.   Say he also has hundreds of millions of dollars in debt coming due.  Say he also has a lifelong history of being transactional, doing anything to profit himself at the expense of suckers.   Somebody ratted to the FBI on him that he hadn’t returned all the classified documents his lawyers swore he turned over a month after the subpoena for the remainder of the documents.  Suppose empty top secret document folders were seized in a legal search, along with a hundred other unreturned classified documents.  The FBI search and seizure confirmed the probable cause that he had retained the illegally taken material.

Here’s what you do.  1) put the shoe on the other foot — why did the FBI take personal, private stuff that was mixed in with the classified documents?   That’s his stuff — why did the FBI seize HIS STUFF?   Explain that, FBI! DOJ!

2) the claims his lawyers came up with in federal court have never been litigated before, so you see, there are many complex legal issues that a team of genius lawyers has raised for the first time that will take a long time to analyze, though Judge Cannon did a brilliant job, under great time pressure.  Legally complex, since never litigated, you see?

3) the judge is only trying to provide transparecy, which is what the nation wants

4) The FBI taint team may have been tainted, because this is a partisan DOJ, unlike Bill Barr’s scrupulous DOJ

I only made it through the first two minutes, but I’m sure there are many more excellent examples of counterfactual “opinion” propaganda spread with an absolute straight face and an authoritative tone.  

The biggest question is what documents does F POTUS still have at Ivana’s private cemetery at Bedminster, at his Tower on Fifth Avenue, and who has paid big bucks, very big bucks, for some of the most valuable top secret intelligence and military information in the world?

Or, as Fox might put it, what right does the FBI have to take his personal collection of Playboy magazines just because there might have been a couple of empty classified document folders in there?

The real issue, aside from the DOJ’s suspicious lack of transparency, is why is the DOJ resisting a fair Special Master and meanwhile giving him the stuff they stole from him back and why are all these radical Left lawyers prejudging a case so complicated only the Supreme Court is really fit to rule on it? That’s why we need Special Master John Durham.

Loose Cannon

The brilliant, well-informed, cheerful Alison Gill has several very popular podcasts. I listen to the Daily Beans everyday, as essential as Heather Cox Richardson’s Letters from an American, in my opinion. Allison cuts to the chase, and is never afraid to call b*******, or use the word bullshit, or sometimes fucking bullshit (the Daily Beans is drily billed as “news with swearing”).

Allison does another podcast weekly, Cleanup on Aisle 45, with attorney Andrew Torrez. Torrez does not f****** swear, but he’s very fucking articulate and cut from the same cloth as Allison Gill. They recently analyzed lifetime federal judge Aileen Cannon’s ballsy but batshit crazy decision in Trump v Deep State Cucks. Allison called the episode “Loose Cannon”. You can hear the whole discussion at the link below, it’s fantastic.

Federalist Society stalwart Aileen Cannon

I’ll give you the gist of it from notes I took while relistening just now.

Cannon argues in her ruling that even though the Trump defense team did not assert any grounds for the court’s jurisdiction or submit any evidence or sworn statements by anybody, she was asserting equitable jurisdiction over this oddly amateurish, one-off motion, brought specifically to her courtroom in Fort Pierce. Without jurisdiction a judge may not hear a case.

Equitable jurisdiction can only be found where there is some kind of inequity or unfairness that the law cannot otherwise address. The argument for equitable jurisdiction was not made by Trump’s lawyers, Cannon found it based solely on attorney argument at the hearing. This reticence to say anything under oath by lead attorney Jim Trusty, Torrez pointed out, was a clever move (in a corrupt judge’s courtroom) by F POTUS’s lawyers. Since attorney argument during hearings is not subject to the penalties of perjury (as an untruthful sworn court filing would be, and motions for equitable relief always depend on convincing sworn statements.) they left themselves free to throw things against the wall and see what the judge would make stick.

Cannon (who refused amicus briefs from conservatives opposing F POTUS’s motion, unheard of behavior from a judge) makes arguments in her ruling that Trump’s lawyers never raised in their idiosyncratic, frivolous filing. She applies the four Richey factors from a 1975 case where Mr. and Mrs. Richey sued the IRS to get back papers taken in a search. The appeals court in that case sets out what a moving party must show to get equitable relief in federal court in a pre-indictment case against the government.

The first and most important factor the moving party (movant) must show is that the government “displayed a callous disregard for the movant’s constitutional rights” (such as by deliberately not obtaining a legal search warrant prior to the search). Cannon admits this was not the case in the legal FBI search of Mar-a-Lago.

But she then decided that factor number two weighed heavily in F POTUS’s favor, that he had a compelling interest in and need for the personal property seized.

Kind of counterfactual when it comes to all of the executive branch documents he was illegally hoarding. It was, of course, not his property.

The third factor is a showing of irreparable injury to the moving party, something else Trump’s lawyers did not allege in their dodgy papers. Allison reads some testimony from his lawyer Jim Trusty, a long time criminal defense attorney from a white shoe Washington DC boutique white collar criminal defense law firm, in response to this question from Cannon. Trusty mumbles and mutters and eventually comes up with a vague, and irrelevant, claim of “institutional harm”. Cannon takes this and runs with it, the harm is to Donald Trump’s reputation and good name, presumably as an honest man, great party leader, past and future president and a lucrative brand.

Lawyers for George W. Bush argued a better, though also asinine, irreparable harm to their client in Bush v Gore — if the recount wasn’t stopped and all the Florida votes were counted their client would suffer the irreparable injury of losing the 2000 presidential election. If you have unethical members of your legal fraternity deciding the case, you have a shot at that kind of bullshit flying. It worked like yer proverbial charm for Dubya and Cheney, with conflicted but unrecused Scalia and Thomas casting the deciding votes in the 5-4 one off ruling.

The fourth factor is whether or not there’s an adequate remedy at law for the grievance, like a regular appeal. In this case, ordinarily Trump would be able to raise Fourth Amendment defenses about the government search only once he was a defendant in a criminal trial. Here judge Cannon is allowing Donald Trump to delay the investigation of the evidence of a likely crime (and how many of these documents he’s already sold to Saudis, his friend in Moscow, and all the highest bidders all around the world is inpossible to guess) as he did in every previous investigation, baseless witch hunts all. He is, as we all know, a serial and habitual obstructer of justice. So Judge Cannon just tried to help him out here a little bit. And who could blame her?

In weighing the equitable interests on both sides, Cannon decided that F POTUS’s squishy irreparable reputational injury claim (made by her in the absence of any irreparable injury asserted by the guy’s experienced white shoe lawyer) outweighed the two interests of the executive branch argued by the DOJ 1)– that the seized papers are needed to conduct an ongoing criminal investigation, and, 2) that they are needed for an urgent National Security harm/threat assessment.

Cannon dismissed the DOJ’s argument that the papers have all already been reviewed by a taint team and that the few attorney/client and personal ones have already been set aside and would never be seen by investigators. She noted in her ruling that the FBI and DOJ are “not always perceived to be impartial” (deep state cucks) and that there is a “perception” that they are both biased against fucking F POTUS.

This argument has the same stink as Lyin’ Ted Cruz’s sneered January 5th claims, citing the perceptions of millions who honestly believed in the rigged, stolen election as the reason that an independent committee had to be appointed to investigate the voter fraud that could not be proved in dozens of federal lawsuits. The perception you understand, the perception, you fucking fuck!

For good measure Cannon also opined that the movant was likely to succeed on the merits of the case — that the goverment illegally took his property. The likelihood of sucess is a heavy factor in the granting of injunctive relief (a legal time out to avoid irreparable harm), even if manifestly, ridiculously untrue in this case (he’d have to prove he was the actual owner of all those government documents owned by the executive branch) but good enough for a Federalist Society lifetime appointee just showing loyalty and gratitude to her unblemished benefactor. Love you, boss!