Bad Acid Trip

This feels like a bad acid trip we are all on, when even familiar, harmless things turn monstrous and it seems perfectly clear that the ever-worsening horror will never end. The good news is that scary hallucinations wear off as the drug gone bad is metabolized. The bad news is that some of these despicable monsters out of a bad acid trip that we are seeing today are quite real.

The ultimate proof that a person is a monstrous piece of shit is his reflex to ignore the pain of those around him. He goes on about his self-centered business like nothing is wrong, coveting, bragging, lying, getting revenge, stinking, while others suffer, their pleading voices unheard by him. During an emergency, the monster turd continues blowing his foul, self-serving breath while all around people are anxious, terrified, hungry, literally dying. True it’s only been about 350,000 dead in our country so far, a number not much more than 1% of us, but still, not a number to sneeze at, particularly if you have the power to do something about it, unless, of course, you are a fly covered mound of excrement.

We don’t like too much hyperbole, or raw expressions of anger, but simply stating what is going on is enough make it feel like we are all on a bad acid trip that we are all struggling to make sense of, somehow. The COVID-19 pandemic is proving very difficult to manage, even in places where angry, reality-denying, lockstep following morons are not in charge. It is prolifically deadly, refrigerator trucks for corpses are once again parked outside overflowing hospitals in many places in our nation. We set new records for death and infection every day, yesterday we set the record for COVID-19 hospitalizations. The only way to control the spread of a massively infectious disease is if everyone looks out for everyone else. That is not our way here anymore.

The stupidest, vainest and most sadistic man ever to be our leader knows what to do. Attack the disease as a hoax, a deliberate Chinese attempt to help his political rival somehow, attack the precautions all medical experts everywhere urge us all to take, downplay its severity (though you are on tape before you began downplaying it expressing great and reasonable concern about it being airborne, how infectious and deadly it is) pretend to have defeated the disease as infection numbers once again peak (“Mission Accomplished!”), declare to the nation that it’s not your responsibility, blame Democrat [sic] governors and mayors– make them fight over PPE and declare them leaders of “anarchist jurisdictions”, make them take you to court to get their federal funds — refuse to wear a mask, create millions of proud “Anti-maskers”, encourage them to rise up against Democrat [sic] tyranny, hold indoor maskless rallies where crowds chant with you, sending moist plumes of breath into each other’s lungs, infect countless lackeys around you at super-spreader events, come down with the disease yourself, have a million dollars of instant tax-payer funded emergency medical care, recover and declare that COVID is no big deal, you just have to be a winner and dominate the disease.

Then somehow you lose the election, oddly enough, by only a few million votes (and a narrow 74 electors in the rigged Electoral College). No problem. The election, as you predicted and complained about many times (as in 2016) was rigged, fake, stolen, corrupt, a scam, a flimflam, dead people voting, completely fraudulent. The incidence of voter fraud is less than one thousandth of one percent, less than one ten-thousandth of a percent (0.000001%) — all of your court cases alleging electoral fraud and unfairness were tossed out of court for lack of evidence, or often, even a coherent legal theory. On the other hand, before the 2020 election, the great State of Georgia, under current heroes of the rule of law Governor Brian Kemp and Attorney General Brad Raffensberger (both vocal Trump supporters), disenfranchised another 198,000 likely Democratic voters. Even after that heroic voter purge, and yanking out mailboxes during a pandemic, and calling mail-in voting a massive fraud, and your base (al q’eada in Arabic) turned out in droves to vote in person, you still lost Georgia by 11,779 votes. No problemo. “I need you to do me a favor, though, Bradsky.” But Raffensberger is stubborn, refusing to play ball, secretly betraying you as you speak. You innocently tell the disloyal Georgia A.G. “I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have, because we won the state.Figure that one out, linguists.

As my sister, a teacher in Florida, is about to be dragged back into a classroom (her doctor’s note be damned) to spend seven hours a day in a closed-window air-conditioned classroom with her low-income four year-olds, with no PPE and certainly no mask mandate in that Freedom State, as many thousands of Americans are not homeless today only because there are still moratoriums on sheriffs and marshals forcibly removing them from their homes, as California hospitals are turning away patients likely too sick to recover, due to overwhelming numbers of new patients, we are talking about whether this narcissistic patient zero has every right to pursue every wildly insane scheme to remain in power after losing the election by a wide margin.

Mitch McConnell, who singlehandedly blocked a vote on cruelly delayed $2,000 relief checks that would likely have passed with bipartisan support, only waited a month or so to congratulate the president-elect, after weeks of drawling in his farting basso profundo that the president has every legal right to do everything in his power to see that he won the election fair and square and that it his absolute prerpgative to insist the presidency was stolen from him.

The Sedition Caucus (Trump calls those Republican traitors who didn’t join in his attempt to overthrow democracy the Surrender Caucus) is set to contest certified votes in every state Trump lost, during a session of Congress that, every year but now, has been a mere formality, announcing the certifications in each state to make the president-elect’s victory official. In the background there will be an anti-democracy rally raging outside the Capitol, a show of violent force called for by our sitting piece of shit president over and over. The Proud Boys and their shameful ilk have been standing by, in spite of being gassed by police recently, are gathering for tomorrow’s hoped for riot.

We’re not able to be focused on fighting this virus that’s killing so many of us, because another, even more incurable, virus is killing us — the urge of angry, hopeless people to band together and implacably hate others united behind an infallible leader above mere reason, fact or so called “truth”. Faithful fascism erases ordinary reality, replaces it with a mass fantasy of glory and triumph.

The “transactional” “autocratic” “oligarchic” “kleptocratic” “malignantly narcissistic” “totally exonerated” American president calls over an over for a massive anti-democracy protest in our nation’s capital to STOP THE STEAL. The increasingly desperate, lawless American president violates federal (pardon me, sir) and state law by calling a state official (18 times it turns out, persistence is the key to arm twisting and persuasion both) to put the arm on him to find 11,780 votes, “one more than we won by”, as lawyers all over this ravaged nation discuss the exact subsections of the laws he has broken, and his defenders use what they have at hand, whining about the treacherous sneaks who leaked the disloyal tape of him violating the law, explaining that the hour-long tape is being taken out of context, he was only suggesting, cajoling, making a deal, negotiating in a hardball manner, as New York City Real Estate titans often do. When you’re a NYC Real Estate titan they let you do it. And so, out of personal loyalty to him we will band together to overthrow democracy for his sake, not let the certification of votes take place as the Constitution requires. You know, because of the tens of millions of un-investigated allegations of fraud out there, the ones the president has been spouting many times everyday, the ones we’ve been spreading at the president’s behest.

If, with all this foulness going on, the people of the great state of Georgia (those whose votes haven’t been successfully suppressed) elect Trump puppet and multi-millionaire scarecrow Kelley Loeffler and mega-Trumper, expert on outsourcing jobs, David Perdue, and Mitch the Grim Reaper keeps control of blocking all legislation and executive appointments — well, release the fucking Kraken, this shithole really deserves the biblical cataclysm that will follow. Nazis simply don’t care how many have to die to realize their dream of a perfect Nazi world. In the end, historically, tyrants and their foot soldiers lose, but as to us and our times, good luck to us all and God Bless these United Shayyysssh.

Inspiring words from historian Howard Zinn

Looking toward the future (at this perilous and hopeful moment), and our places in history (if there is to be history, in the future), here is Howard Zinn’s inspiring message, delivered as an older man, accepting a prize from a French historical society, talking about why he studied and taught history, why he wrote A People’s History of the United States:

“I wanted, in writing this book, to awaken a consciousness in my readers, of class conflict, of racial injustice, of sexual inequality and of national arrogance, and I also wanted to bring into light the hidden resistance of the People against the power of the establishment.   

I thought that to omit these acts of resistance, to omit these victories, however limited, by the people of the United States, was to create the idea that power rests only with those who have the guns, who possess the wealth.  I wanted to point out that people who seem to have no power — working people, people of color, women– once they organize and protest and create national movements, they have a power that no government can suppress.

“I don’t want to invent victories for people’s movements, but to think that history writing must simply recapitulate the failures that dominate the past is to make historians collaborators in an endless cycle of defeat.  And if history is to be creative, if it’s to anticipate a possible future without denying the past, it should, I think, emphasize new possibilities by disclosing those hidden episodes of the past when, even if in brief flashes, people showed their ability to resist, to join together, occasionally to win.

“I am supposing, or perhaps only hoping, that our future may be found in the past’s fugitive moments of compassion rather than in the solid centuries of warfare.”

Assorted headlines, January 1, 2021 — and a CALL TO ACTION

As I get ready to volunteer to make a few calls to “low-propensity” voters in Georgia tomorrow, I scan the paper to survey the new world we have in front of us in 2021. A couple of them caught my eye. Then a call to action.

This is according to the New York Times, of course, so take it with the usual teaspoon of salt [1] but it’s of a piece with general modern-day extremist GOP electoral strategy. The red baseball cap could say FEAR BLACKS!!! on it and have the same galvanizing effect. This black reverend, Warnock, stands at the same pulpit that known Communist Martin Luther King, Jr. (as portrayed by J. Edgar Hoover’s secretly sourced — tippy top, top secret — also, coincidentally, false — memo on this radical menace sent to Attorney General Robert Kennedy back in the day) once abused for his Red purposes. If it barks like a communist, lifts its leg like a communist … need we say more? Gentlemen, who among us is safe in a country where somebody like that has a vote equal to Miss Lindsey Graham’s? As for that other one, that smart-mouthed young Jew journalist? Enemy of the goddamned people, son!

Of course, someone like incumbent Georgia Senator David Perdue, loyal backer of our nation’s greatest one term president, has nothing to worry about, really. Nobody in his party will hold it against him that he made his impressive fortune outsourcing good old American jobs. That’s just NY Times propaganda, folks. You can read all about it here, in a Scalawaggin’, Carpetbaggin’ hit piece called Before Embracing America-First Agenda, David Perdue Was an Outsourcing Expert . Keep your salt shaker handy as you read it and stay tuned to OAN and Newsmax for the rebuttals (note: FOX can no longer be trusted, they traitorously reported the president lost the election he won!).

Speaking of the wealthy and their financial assets vs. ordinary American workers, how do you figure this one?

The “tide” that lifts “financial assets” is the same one that always does — the misery of nickeled and dimed laborers and short-changed consumers (who own no “financial assets”) translates directly into increased profits for the investing class. Every job that is outsourced to cheaper labor markets, every workers’ union that is crushed is a boon to the owners of the enterprise. If you can force low-paid workers into the plant during a deadly pandemic, by designating them “essential” and denying them the right to organize for safe working conditions — well, shit, do the math!

Then all you have to do to keep that tide rising on your financial assets is have a law passed that says you’re immune to all lawsuits from the families of these worthless pukes who died doing their goddamned jobs. Or as we say on Wall Street “boo fucking hoo!”

If the above sounds like embittered Commie twaddle that ignores the realities on the ground in our complex global economy and so on, I come from working class stock. My beliefs about the heartlessness of “financial assets” are in my blood. My grandmother, a member of the International Ladies Garment Workers’ Union, was very far to the left. She was one of many leftist Jews who had no hesitation to support the struggle of American blacks against their persecution. This solidarity with the oppressed was natural to her. Back in bleeding Ukraine (where native Ukrainians were enslaved and abused for centuries, by a variety of masters, leaving only the Jews to take it out on) the only light my grandmother saw as a hopeful young woman was the light of international worker solidarity, as preached by revolutionaries from the newly created Soviet Union, overthrowing the regimes that had kept boots (and worse) on people’s necks for centuries. Is there anything surprising in her readiness to embrace this vision of the future?

My ambitious grandmother got on a boat in 1921, after years of civil war in her part of Ukraine (eventually resulting in a communist takeover), bid farewell to everything and everyone she knew, and headed to a better life in America. She slept in a lower, cheaper compartment of the ship where a giant rat once walked along the partition that separated her bed from the next sleeping berth (causing her to leap over the little wall into the bed of the startled man who was sleeping on the other side) and dreamed of a life where her family could not be marched to a ravine in their hometown and shot in their heads. Barely two decades later, local Ukrainians, sick of the fucking Jews, enthusiastically helped round up all of my grandmother’s large family, march them to the ravine, confiscate their clothes, shoot them in the head, scramble over their corpses with surprising dexterity, straightening the rows for the next batch to be killed. The Nazi overseer gave the word, and… repeat.

Speaking of Nazi overseers, the SS, the outfit that ran the death camps, provided slave laborers to German industries who set up near the camps. They charged German corporations $1 a day, a sort of handling fee, for every slave laborer marched to and from work. An ideal way to lift the tide of the old financial assets, I’d say. One of the beneficiaries of this arrangement was the company that recently bought mega-corporation Monsanto — once again lifting all financial assets for everyone (who owned shares in those assets, of course).

Here is a central myth of our no-holds barred, a rising tide lifts all financial assets, let the free market freely decide the free rules of our neoliberal system of capitalism: it benefits those wealthy enough to own financial assets and pretty much fucks everyone else. This myth enables the belief that when Wall Street is booming the “economy” is doing great. That’s why Mitch McConnell can block financial aid to millions who have recently entered poverty — the economic indicators prove that the economy is growing at a record rate, doing great!

It’s related the the myth of the “White” person. You can be a dirt poor, ethnically “white” citizen of the great state of Georgia (or a dirt poor, ethnically “white” Ukrainian for that matter) and still, automatically be superior to someone with dark skin, someone traditionally called a “nigger” (or the Ukrainian equivalent for Jew). You can be the poorest, most oppressed white person in your county — you still have the invaluable consolation of not being a nigger, of being infinitely superior to even the most accomplished one of them. They can’t take that birthright away from me, unless they flay my skin off (which they might, don’t rule it out). I’m sure the Ukrainians who executed most of my family back in Europe felt the same way about their ethnic superiority when they were getting rid of a few thousand Christ-killers in my grandparents’ hometown.

All this history is just history, part of my eternal one note samba. Oy, they killed most of my family, Nazi fucks! It gets tiring, I know. Back to 2021, and the next few days. Here’s what I’m going to do, to try to get a working Senate that we can actually influence:

If you’d like to join the Focus 2020 effort, we have a need for volunteers on Saturday at 2pm PT/ 5pm ET for a phone bank targeting low-propensity GA voters. Please sign up here: https://forms.gle/NE31ey6F5fginjaa8

Here is the rest of their rap:

Hi All,

On the last day of 2020 (finally!) and with just 5 days to go until the Georgia runoffs, we wanted to share some key stats on the race.


There have been over 2.8 million votes already cast — a rate of about  80% of the votes cast at this point in the general.  


According to America Votes, Democrats have a modeled edge of approximately 52% of the vote, putting us about 3 points ahead of where we stood at this point in the general election.  
Black voters, who overwhelmingly vote for Democrats, represent a larger share of votes than they did at this point in the general– 34% versus 31%. This increase is driven almost entirely by voters over 50.    


Significantly, about 105,000 of these early voters did not vote in the general election and black voters represent 41% of this group.


Despite these positive numbers, there is reason for caution. 


The trend in the general election, both in Georgia and in other states, was that Democrats had higher turnout in early voting, but Republicans had higher turnout on election day. And Republicans have more high-propensity voters left who have yet to cast a ballot so they could eclipse much of the lead established by Democrats.  See Graph from Catalist below.


Note: The Georgia electorate is 57% White, 33% Black, 4% Hispanic/Latinx, 3% AAPI, and 2% Native American or other races
The ground game by progressive groups has been impressive. For instance, there have been over 6.5 million door knocks by these groups and will continue at a rate of about 500,000 a day for the last four days.

And our Focus 2020 volunteer group has been working virtually to provide voter information to over 2000 local community leaders, and to reach thousands of low propensity voters.


The great unknown is how Trump’s rhetoric about election fraud, his enmity toward some Republican leaders in Georgia, and his delay in signing the relief bill will affect Republican turnout on election day.  


This race was never going to be easy to win and it’s still uncomfortably close, but Democrats are doing the work needed to get out the vote.  Our community has supported three programs that weren’t being funded by others (Block Power, site-based vote-by-mail registration, and Working America) and so will certainly add net votes to the total. Let’s collectively hope for the best.

[1]

It was the overheated, accusatory rhetoric of radical abolitionists, the paper opined on January 19, 1859 — that hardened the Southern resolve to keep their slaves. If not for the violently moralistic outrage of anti-slavery zealots directed against the Southern slaveholders (threatened with the taking of their property without compensation!) these genteel planters would probably voluntarily free their slaves, according to the Grey Lady.

Stating the Obvious, year-end edition

I am not alone in wishing good riddance to this fucking deadly year. Not that flipping the calendar page will do anything, really, but it’s nice to symbolically turn the page on 2020, which NY Times op-ed writer Michelle Cottle generously called a “soul crushing hellscape of a dumpster fire.” It has been that. Let’s look at just a few things we learned.

If you have an even one vote majority in the Senate, you get to decide what business gets in front of the Senate, what the People will get an up or down vote on, what democracy is.

Black guy picks a replacement for a suddenly deceased giant of the right on the Supreme Court? No hearing, no advice nor consent, forget it, let the People decide in the next election. President impeached by the House, the law requires a trial in Senate? No worries, we openly vow to work closely with the president’s defense team, allow no witnesses or evidence, acquit him ASAP and put the blame back where it belongs: on enraged haters, traitors, communists, black terrorists. COVID-19 puts burdens on the wealthiest corporations in the country (many making record windfall profits during the pandemic) while poor people who work for these outfits (“essential workers”) sicken and die? A liability shield for all corporate entities who may have inadvertently killed people by forcing them to work in unsafe conditions during a highly infectious, deadly pandemic. It’s only fair, and a totally reasonable pre-condition for any government aid to tens of millions of immiserated Americans.

Record Wildfires and Killer Storms, a small price to pay for continued prosperity.

A pandemic is first and foremost a political event.

Public safety precautions urged by medical experts may safely be mocked as partisan bullshit, a hoax, a nasty stunt fueled by irrational anger. Mayors and governors seeking to enforce mask mandates, social distancing? Sue these tyrants in court, exhort unhinged supporters to take up guns, rise up against tyranny!! No political price need ever be paid, in fact, the base (‘al qaeda’ in Arabic) loves it!

Check out this dead Republican’s official website, updated when he died of COVID-19. Do you think this staunch supporter of the president wore a mask, ever?

Alternative facts are just as good as so-called real facts.

When a police officer kills an unarmed person, live on video, particularly if that dead person is “colored”, the officer is entitled to the presumption of innocence, “qualified immunity” [1] from prosecution and a vigorous public defense by the media team at the police union.

And you can go down the whole disgustingly detailed list. How did we get to this hideous and embarrassing point in our experiment in democracy? My short answer: consumerism, materialism, greed, stupidity, the coercive power of advertising, extolling the unlimited virtues of unlimited individual competition between Rugged Individuals who duke it out for supremacy.

The value of the American Dream, and the life of every dreamer, can be expressed in a number, which follows a dollar sign. During this pandemic the 650 American billionaires increased their wealth by almost a trillion dollars. A trillion is a thousand billions, a million millions, like so: $1,000,000,000,000. Thousands of American lives could be saved, and many of the dead would still be alive, by the targeted infusion of that kind of money (a historic windfall to our 650 wealthiest, during a pandemic) into the fight against this terrible disease, to keep people from homelessness, hunger, terror and despair.

We’ve been successfully sold the idea that Bezos, Zuckerberg, Gates, Musk and Koch deserve every penny of their more than $100,000,000,000 fortunes, and every blessed dollar of their tens of billions in plague-related profits. To tax any of that money, even a windfall made during a pandemic, for use on the public good, even in a vast public health emergency, is coercive, socialistic, yea, communistic, totalitarian. So we seem to believe here in the USA, the land where Rugged Individualism has been marketed so successfully by influential actors like The Great Communicator.

MacKenzie Scott, former wife of world’s greediest man Jeff Fucking Bezos, has so far taken about 10% of her estimated $59,000,000,000 fortune and given the money directly to causes that need help, like pandemic relief and anti-racist groups. She gave six billion dollars to organizations she believes in, asking them only to use it where it was needed most.

Contrast that with usual billionaire strings-attached philanthropist micromanagers like Gates and Zuckerberg (Bezos, Musk and Koch don’t seem to believe in philanthropy) who, considering themselves among history’s greatest geniuses, create foundations that bear their names and fund specific solutions they believe in, like proposing to solve inequality of education and its role in intergenerational poverty with private “charter schools” (that don’t work — certainly not to help fix our long-besieged public education system).

Heather Cox Richardson wrote a short version of how we got here, an essay that arrived in my inbox around 5 a.m. Our pay-to-play political cesspool today is directly traceable to the rage and determination of a group of very wealthy white men following Brown v. Board of Education, the 1954 decision when the “activist” Supreme Court unanimously declared segregation unconstitutional. You can trace their privilege-protecting, anti-majoritarian determination to take back the unquestioned power they never lost in the Civil War to the years right after American schools were ordered to be de-segregated “with all deliberate speed.”

Racism plays an outsized role in our nation’s woes — though, like the “n-word” itself, it must never be uttered aloud.

Think of it, without racism you have a tiny group of super rich, politically insulated heirs of great fortunes (think the old slaveholding class in Dixie and their counterparts in the North) versus the overwhelming human force of the great masses of the poor and disenfranchised. If poor whites and poor blacks ever united in a voting block based on their mutual interests, ever marched by the millions demanding action towards justice — you’d have to hire literally an army of lone gunmen to shoot all of their leaders in the head. Remove racism from the mix and you’d have sudden, massive change, or a bloodbath of our greatest, and most valuable, citizens. The world would not be safe for those born, booted and spurred, to ride the backs of the rest of us.

Of course, not every one of the 74,000,000 who voted to give Donald Trump a second chance to make America great again is a racist. On the other hand, we all understand that every eligible racist in the country voted for Donald. Anger at racism? It brings me back to personal experiences with old friends and reminds me of how personal the political always is.

The guy I asked to please stop provoking me would not even acknowledge doing it, he’d never provoked me, he kept insisting. At the same time, the last time we talked, he couldn’t rest until, reminding me three times in 15 minutes that though it was unfair to accuse me of disrespecting him, based on the actual events of the day and my constant communication with him about delays, that he still felt disrespected by my lateness. The third time he brought this up was the charm. I finally exploded, listing several very specific reasons I had no respect for him. Set and match.

It’s this way with racism. You keep bringing it up, I’ll keep telling you it’s not a problem. We are never going to talk about it in any meaningful way, nor acknowledge its prevalence in our culture. When you get mad, well, it just proves I was right all along about you fucking people.

A guy complained that he had no idea how much he’d hurt me because I’d been so calm, reasonable and nonjudgmental when I told him I was hurt. Somebody who is really hurt cries out, he pointed out, it’s only natural. How could I really blame him for not knowing how upset he’d made me when I didn’t cry out? It was unfair of me to expect him to know how hurtful and aggravating his actions were without a little screaming to give him a clue. So, to allow him to understand why I was hurt, and how much, I cried out. When I did, he was devastated that I could be such a merciless fuck.

This is how it works with racism too. You can be philosophical in the face of the pain of it, but that’s only a way of coping. Your restraint can be cited, by those who don’t believe in racism, as a demonstration that you’re pretty much cool with the way things are, that we all enjoy freedom here, and basic equality under the law.

Everything seems fine, until another unarmed black man, not resisting his handcuffing by police (as a suspect in a very minor, non-violent crime), is slowly murdered on video, by an officer kneeling on his neck for long, agonizing minutes, while the officer’s colleagues assist in the killing — during a pandemic. A high school girl films the entire thing on her cellphone. There is no question about the hideous sequence of events, the lynching, exactly how long it takes the begging man to lose consciousness, how long they wait to call for medical help.

Now you take to the streets by the millions, finally bringing many thousands of “white” people with you, everywhere. Racism doesn’t seem so abstract now, does it, you reality denying motherfuckers? Of course, now you are a visible, united threat and people who deny that racism exists start getting defensive, even shrill. Who is really making the problem here?

Anyway, a happy, healthy 2021 to you all. It’s hard to imagine it can be as bad as 2020, though guys like Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham will do their best to hold the line, keep hope alive for al q’aeda, the base. The feelings of those left out, the large majority shoved aside, hurt, in need, bereft by the preventable deaths of loved ones — well, as Mitch and Lindsey and their ilk are used to believing, they simply don’t have the votes to do anything about it, do they?

A majority of one vote or not, we’re going to have a much better 2021 than the surreal, stinking shit-show of 2020. Take that to the bank, stay alert and be of good cheer.

[1]

Qualified immunity is a judicially created doctrine that shields government officials from being held personally liable for constitutional violations—like the right to be free from excessive police force—for money damages under federal law so long as the officials did not violate “clearly established” law. Both 42 U.S.C. § 1983—a statute originally passed to assist the government in combating Ku Klux Klan violence in the South after the Civil War—and the Supreme Court’s decision in Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics (1971) allow individuals to sue government officials for money damages when they violate their constitutional rights. Section 1983 applies to state officials, while Bivens applies to federal officials. Because damages are often the only available remedy after a constitutional violation has occurred, suits for damages can be a crucial means of vindicating constitutional rights. When government officials are sued, qualified immunity functions as an affirmative defense they can raise, barring damages even if they committed unlawful acts.

source

The Death of Dr. Susan Moore, also a tragedy

“This Is How Black People Get Killed”: Dr. Susan Moore Dies of COVID After Decrying Racist Care

Democracy Now! reports, earlier today:

As the United States reports record deaths and hospitalizations from COVID-19 in the final days of 2020, we look at how the pandemic that ravaged the country this year has shone a stark new light on racism in medical care.

In a viral video recorded by Black physician Dr. Susan Moore, she describes racist treatment by medical staff at a hospital in Indianapolis and says they did not respond to her pleas for care, despite being in intense pain and being a doctor herself. In the video, Dr. Moore says she had to beg to receive pain medication and the antiviral drug remdesivir, and accuses a doctor at Indiana University Health North Hospital of ignoring her pleas because she was Black. “I put forward, and I maintain: If I was white, I wouldn’t have to go through that,” she says. Dr. Moore died December 20, just over two weeks after she posted the video. She was 54 years old.

related source

Somebody compared watching this video to seeing the video of the George Floyd murder, and I can see that. Can you say “black lives matter,” motherfucker?

Or as noted non-racist former Attorney General William Pelham Barr would say: an infinitesimal number of female black doctors have been killed this way during this historic pandemic, certainly not more than a large handful. Obviously not indicative of any kind of institutional problem reflecting on the values of the larger society, and clearly, this is an angry dying woman in the “viral” video. And give me a break, forced lockdowns of people used to freedom and liberty are actually worse than centuries of slavery for people who have never known freedom or liberty!

Does my heart good to refer to the repellant Trumpist “Christian” as the former attorney general.

The power of honest history

The power of accurate, clearly written history writing is not the same kind of power as that threatening blunderbuss-style of power wielded by an unaccountable maniac with a childish view of life and a sadist’s keen delight in the suffering of others, but it is powerful. It cannot literally take food out of the mouths of hungry children, or a week’s pay away from their parents, as can randomly flexed presidential power when POTUS pouts and golfs while protesting the unfairness of things like the proposed name changes of military bases now honoring traitorous Confederate generals, not that it would want to. A president so inclined can mandate a national curriculum of denial of history, a historian with a conscience writes serving the opposite inclination.

A detailed, honestly told history is a powerful force in the world. Here is a prime example of it, written last night by Heather Cox Richardson, who ends with this inspiring observation:

One of the curses of history is that we cannot go back and change the course leading to disasters, no matter how much we might wish to. The past has its own terrible inevitability.

But it is never too late to change the future.

Read the rest of her powerful piece here.

A friend sent me the recent NY Times business piece about the historian’s amazing and well-earned viral internet success and her sudden wealth. The reason so many subscribe to her nightly newsletter is that she has emerged as a clear, mostly calm voice, giving the perspective of history to shed light on this horrific moment in time. Forwarding this piece to my friend last night all I could add was “WOW”. All he needed to write was “Agree”. A short read, well worth your time, particularly if you think history is a bunch of boring and irrelevant busy-work with no relevance to our current predicaments and no clues to offer about a way to a better future.

Motherfucker publicly sodomizes stinking skeleton of his long-dead orangutan mother

One should not be too opinionated these days. These are very angry and stressful times. We all know that Mr. Trump is an unusual kind of president, the kind of person who seems to behave irrationally as he instinctively serves the powerful forces that have served him all of his life. He’s not as stupid as he seems, perhaps, just a malignant narcissist. A spoiled two-year old who never experienced real affection and so is incapable of feeling it, by the looks of it. Each of us have our opinions of this greatest and most brilliant, handsome and well-endowed president in American history.

I really should keep my foul-mouthed opinions to myself. We all need to be more understanding. After all, the president’s story is like the story of many of us here in our nation of immigrants. Trump’s mother started life as what is often called White Trash, dirt poor from a benighted part of Scotland. She was transformed into a glamorous queen by marriage to a very wealthy second generation German-American man.

Mary Anne McLeod Trump [1] may or may not have been a loving woman, the odds are she was challenged to be a nurturing mother to her brood of five, little Donald being number four. He was apparently a handful, disrespectful to her, unruly, constantly acting out, impossible to manage. One can’t blame a mother for having a hard time with such a child, I never held my mother’s difficulties raising someone like me against her. That’s not really true, of course, but it sounds generous — I held it against her for years. As an adult of advanced years I finally learned not to hold my mother’s human limitations against her. Donald and his mother, perhaps not so much. Not to judge, God forbid!

But what exactly brings forth this sickeningly opinionated title I’ve put on top of this post? Well, after a delay of just a little more than half a year, during a terrifying, out of control pandemic, Mitch McConnell allowed a watered down version of bipartisan bill to relieve some of the suffering of the majority of Americans to become a bipartisan law to help many of the eight million Americans who have fallen into official poverty during this Act of God pandemic, and giving aid to millions more who are hungry and in imminent danger of homelessness. Democrats and Republicans agreed to the $900,000,000,000 COVID-19 relief bill right before Christmas. That was part of a $2.3 trillion Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. It was approved and passed on to the president on Christmas Eve, because, you know, no point waiting until the very last minute.

Then my man Fuckface refused to sign it as he headed to Florida for golfing and plotting a self-coup. Happy Christmas, traitors! If Trump doesn’t sign it within ten days (and this Congress ends on January 3) he’s run out the clock with a “pocket veto” and forced the third U.S. government shutdown in three tries (he didn’t get a chance to shut it down in 2017, but he did in 2018 and 2019 [2] ). Here’s Heather Cox Richardson, to explain:

Trump’s supporters are urging him to “pocket veto” the Consolidated Appropriations Act, taking advantage of a weird option at the end of a congressional session. Normally, a president has ten days, not including Sunday, to review and sign a bill. During a congressional session, if the president doesn’t sign a bill within ten days, it becomes a law. But if the congressional session ends within ten days, the bill does not become a law. This is known as a pocket veto. The 116th Congress—this one—officially ends at noon on January 3. If Trump got the bill on December 24, and all indications are that he did, the ten-day window ends on January 4. So, he could, in fact, run out the clock in such a way that Congress could not override his veto.

source

Now we assume Mary Anne MacLeod Trump was Trump’s mother, he looks a hell of a lot like her, including his hairdo.

Comedian Bill Maher famously offered to pay a few million to Trump’s favorite charity if Donald could prove his mother was not an orangutan. Nothing in nature is that color, besides an orangutan, said Maher. His offer was a parody of Trump’s famous public challenge to Barack Obama to pull his pants down, bend over and show America everything about his high school and college grades, his SAT and LSAT scores, his “long form” birth certificate and all the rest, daring him to disprove Trump’s many lies about him.

The famously thin-skinned Trump saw no humor in Maher’s disrespectful and disgusting parody [3] and had lawyers sue Maher for “breach of contract” (since as a public figure he could not win a slander or libel suit over parody, as the Supreme Court unanimously ruled in Hustler Magazine, Inc. v. Falwell, 485 U.S. 46 (1988) — see FN 2) when Trump produced HIS birth certificate — proving his mother was homo sapiens, SO THERE! — and Maher didn’t pay up on his joke offer.

The case cost Maher/HBO a pile of cash, no doubt, they had to respond to Trump’s baseless lawsuit or lose by default, but Trump’s lawyers did their job, the enraged threat became real, even if they wound up quietly withdrawing the pathetic claim after it had its effect in showing Trump takes no shit from anybody about anything, including the ugly statement that his mother who was completely a human being, was some kind of smelly great ape. He’d do the same thing, dozens of times, after losing the election he claims was stolen from him, almost two months ago.

So, fast forward a decade or so, to the day after Christmas of an historically hellish year, Donald Trump orders the exhumation of the skeleton of his dear mother, has her brought to Mar-a-Largo, and begins furiously violating her. “You did this to me, you fucking heartless bitch!” he sobs over and over, violently taking the pile of bones from behind, as is every motherfucker’s prerogative. There’s no such thing as “consent” or “rape” when you own the thing you are having sex with — the same goes for the dead, they lose their legal right to complain, even of necrophilia.

As for the millions now in real danger of continued hunger, increased terror and winter homelessness the week after Christmas, (and never forget, Trump made wishing each other “Merry Christmas” legal again in the United States after years of illegal rule by sick and dangerous Democrat miscegenist pedophile cannibals) — well, shit happens. Merry Christmas, Sir, they say to him now, the people in his bunker.

All he really wants at the moment is a little privacy, to keep hammering at the skeleton of his sainted, once-human mother.

[1]

Mary Anne Trump was a Scottish-American philanthropist known for being the mother of Donald Trump and the wife of real-estate developer Fred Trump. Born in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland, she emigrated to the United States in 1930 and became a naturalized citizen in March 1942. Wikipedia

[2]

There have only been a handful of full federal government shutdowns, most lasting only a short time. Most of these were hardline leverage by the Opposition party. Trump has shut his own government down when it refuses to do things like fund THE WALL. Trump holds the all-time, unlikely to be broken record for longest temper tantrum-driven shutdown, 35 days. Here is the chart:

ShutdownDaysAgencies
affected
Employees
furloughed
Cost to
government
PresidentRefs
19801FTC only1,600$700,000Carter[29][30]
19811241,000$80–90 millionReagan[31]
19841 (approx. 4 hrs.)500,000$65 million[31]
19861 (approx. 4 hrs.)all500,000$62.2 million[31]
19903all2,800$2.57 millionH.W. Bush[32]
Nov 19955some800,000$400 millionClinton[10][33]
1995–199621some284,000
201316all800,000$2.1 billionObama[34][35]
Jan 20183all692,900Trump[36]
2018–1935some380,000$5 billion[37][38]
source

[3]

Which, it must be said, did not begin to compare, in sheer disgustingness with Larry Flynnt’s truly revolting parody of a risqué Campari ad, asking Jerry Falwell about his “first time”. The parody ad was even disgusting to me, which is saying a lot. Let me see if I can find it online for you, judge for yourself (lest ye be judged):

read about Falwell’s lawsuit and the famous Supreme Court ruling, HERE

Justice, Justice Shall Ye Seek

A citizen worth emulating [1]

The title above is the first line of Deuteronomy 16:20, yo. Biblical text, the original intent of the framers — Justice, justice shall you pursue. Which would you rather pursue as a life’s goal, fairness or unfairness? Doesn’t take an ancient mystic, or the exhortations of a holy book, to help you work out this uncomplicated riddle.

Unless, of course, you benefit tremendously from institutionalized unfairness, in which case, you can forgive yourself for calling it “Liberty” and creating a worldview centered on the inviolable right of the individual to do whatever she wants with her wealth, outside of things like steal, murder and rape, of course, actual, legally defined stealing and murder the law will hold you accountable for and rape that you can actually lead to your prosecution and jailing. Outside of actual rape and murder, survival of the most liberty-loving! We have a dominant (if demographically doomed) political party that now explicitly stands for this worldview.

One of the last dissents of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s long, principled life (possibly the last, as far as I’m aware) was a plain-spoken and clear-eyed analysis of the problems with the narrow legal reasoning used by a 5-4 minority to restrict voting in Wisconsin during a pandemic. The dissent was the first writing by the Notorious RBG that I recall reading, not long before the end of her remarkable life, and I was very impressed. Clearly written, clearly reasoned, laying out, in a few broad strokes, the human story deleted from Boof Kavanaugh’s nakedly partisan “narrow legal” attempt to help his party attain a slight electoral edge in the justice game.

Reading Kavanaugh’s ruling, in which he took the dissent to task (unconvincingly) for being “quite wrong on several counts” (his telltale childishness is never long concealed) and claiming (falsely) that he’d taken COVID-19 into full consideration (along with the fact, never mentioned by Boof, that thousands of Wisconsin voters had not even received ballots in time to mail them in by the deadline), you’d never know that two federal courts had ruled, in light of the pandemic, postal delays and the Republican state legislature’s refusal to allow modifications to the primary election schedule, that it was reasonable to allow a few extra days for mail-in ballots to arrive and be counted. In Kavanaugh’s view, the question was a narrow, strict question of law, to be applied mechanically and unemotionally (and, by total coincidence, for the perceived benefit of his political party). He was dead wrong, “quite wrong” in fact, but, you know, he had the four other Federalist Society votes to make his will the final unappealable 5-4 ruling on the matter.

“Five to four, suck it!” is not democracy. “51-49, fuck you, losers,” is not democracy. An extraordinarily bold and historically brazen insertion of a sixth vote to make the Supreme Court an unappealable six-three right-wing, (51-49 suck it, cucks), majority is, while worthy of Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, Hermann Goering and friends, not democracy.

The death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and her immediate rushed replacement by a religious cult member true believer in the causes dearest to the hearts of the extreme right, underscores that a nine person partisan Supreme Court is no longer a viable option for preserving American democracy.

That the rights of millions of Americans may hang in the balance of who is the deciding vote, Ruth Bader Ginsburg or Amy Coney Barrett, is an anti-democratic tragedy we must not endure. There are powerful federal Courts of Appeal with many more than nine judges ruling by 5-4 majority. There’s no reason, nor any need for a Constitutional amendment, not to expand the number of Supreme Court justices to 15, or 25. Form a bipartisan commission to approve the new candidates. Have a court where the opinions of one, two or even six party-line judges does not mean the difference between a century of our fellow Americans having “no rights a white person is bound to respect” and a court whose watchword is Justice, justice shall you pursue.

You know that for the good of us all, and our hope of preserving what’s left of our beautiful natural world, justice is a much better goal than an unappealable “6-3, suck it, loser.”

[1] wow, this looked much better on my phone’s tiny screen. Blown up I can see how sloppy it is! Sorry about that.

 

Good summary and analysis of Trumpism

I’ve been trying to take a break from this creature, our mad president, think about something a little deeper than this sad and destructive man’s desperate need to be the most important angry two year-old in the world. It’s hard to do, especially since he can still, literally, blow up the world and there’s really nothing that can stop him (as he prioritizes the federal executions of several black men and a heavily medicated mentally ill woman who was serially raped for her entire childhood). We learn that he had the insane conspiracist Sidney Powell back to the White House Sunday night, for Kraken’s sake. He has shown over and over that he is capable of unspeakable things in the service of his damaged ego.

Because history fascinates me, I listen to a couple of history-based podcasts. One I rarely miss is Robert Evans’ “Behind the Bastards” a gleeful telling of the stories of some of history’s most repulsive and destructive creatures. Evans recently featured Roy Cohn, a peach, and Robert Welch, intellectual force behind the John Birch Society, and the other moral godfather (along with Cohn) of Donald Trump. The Welch/John Birch Society episodes, along with an excellent documentary on Showtime about this great entertainer:

once again made this connection for me:

Robert Welch, the candy tycoon who along with Charles Koch’s father Fred and a few other extreme “libertarian” types, founded the John Birch Society in 1958 (galvanized by the “activist” Supreme Court ruling that segregation was unconstitutional).   These extreme right wing conspiracy theorists were considered an embarrassing lunatic fringe by other Republicans throughout my childhood. Their unapologetically extremist candidate, Barry Goldwater, lost in a landslide in 1964.   Then Reagan (who got 489 of 538 Electoral College votes in 1980!!) embraced and normalized a core of their belief system (particularly when it came to racism, wealth and Communism) for his fellow Republicans. Then we had Gingrich, Cheney, Barr and co. et, voila! — the current Republican party. Under this Orange Menace, we have a full-blown John Birch Society Republican party marching in lockstep, menacing traitors in their midst, as their kind always does… No conspiracy too wild for America! Democrats rape children and drink their blood, take that to the bank, losers. A testament to the staying power of big “ideas”…

Now, to the title of this post. A friend sent me a recent article from the Atlantic, an excellent post mortem on Trumpism, which, like a super zombie from a low-rent horror movie, is unlikely to ever truly die. Here are a couple of insights from the author, George Packer. He mentions LBJ’s lie about the Gulf of Tonkin “incident” (to justify escalation of the American war against Vietnam) and Nixon’s trying to cover up the Watergate break-in as examples of standard presidential lies.

But these cases of presidential lying came from a time when the purpose was limited and rational: to cover up a scandal, make a disaster disappear, mislead the public in service of a particular goal. In a sense, Americans expected a degree of fabrication from their leaders. After Jimmy Carter, in his 1976 campaign, promised, “I’ll never lie to you,” and then pretty much kept his word, voters sent him back to Georgia. Ronald Reagan’s gauzy fictions were far more popular.

Trump’s lies were different. They belonged to the postmodern era. They were assaults against not this or that fact, but reality itself. They spread beyond public policy to invade private life, clouding the mental faculties of everyone who had to breathe his air, dissolving the very distinction between truth and falsehood. Their purpose was never the conventional desire to conceal something shameful from the public. He was stunningly forthright about things that other presidents would have gone to great lengths to keep secret: his true feelings about Senator John McCain and other war heroes; his eagerness to get rid of disloyal underlings; his desire for law enforcement to protect his friends and hurt his enemies; his effort to extort a foreign leader for dirt on a political adversary; his affection for Kim Jong Un and admiration for Vladimir Putin; his positive view of white nationalists; his hostility toward racial and religious minorities; and his contempt for women.

…So a stab-in-the-back narrative was buried in the minds of millions of Americans, where it burns away, as imperishable as a carbon isotope, consuming whatever is left of their trust in democratic institutions and values. This narrative will widen the gap between Trump believers and their compatriots who might live in the same town, but a different universe. And that was Trump’s purpose—to keep us locked in a mental prison where reality was unknowable so that he could go on wielding power, whether in or out of office, including the power to destroy.

…For his opponents, the lies were intended to be profoundly demoralizing. Neither counting them nor checking facts nor debunking conspiracies made any difference. Trump demonstrated again and again that the truth doesn’t matter. In rational people this provoked incredulity, outrage, exhaustion, and finally an impulse to crawl away and abandon the field of politics to the fantasists.


For believers, the consequences were worse. They surrendered the ability to make basic judgments about facts, exiling themselves from the common framework of self-government. They became litter swirling in the wind of any preposterous claim that blew from @realDonaldTrump. Truth was whatever made the world whole again by hurting their enemies—the more far-fetched, the more potent and thrilling. After the election, as charges of voter fraud began to pile up, Matthew Sheffield, a reformed right-wing media activist, tweeted: “Truth for conservative journalists is anything that harms ‘the left.’ It doesn’t even have to be a fact. Trump’s numerous lies about any subject under the sun are thus justified because his deceptions point to a larger truth: that liberals are evil.”

source

And, as Dear Leader Mr. Trump himself once famously said: God bless these United Shayyysssh…

Science Fiction Trump-style

Embarrassing and frustrating as it is to live in a nation where 74,000,000 votes were cast by citizens who wanted to reelect the worst president in US history, a man we benignly refer to as a transactional narcissist (and even a malignant narcissist), and as inured as I am to it, mostly, sometimes an item in the news just hammers me in the face. There was the recent revelation of a massive Russian hack of American government and businesses (Pompeo announced it was Russia, Trump tweeted “fake news” it was probably China, LOL!), the lie immediately told by Trump’s recently inserted loyal appointees at the Department of Defense about an “agreement” to suspend national security briefings with the Biden transition team (for the Christmas break), the Senate majority’s partisan refusal to provide help for tens of millions of suffering Americans as Merry Christmas 2020, and a tidal wave of American homelessness, approaches (while Mitch and friends doggedly fight for more corporate Christmas gifts), our steady, upward succession of new, daily world records for COVID-19 infections and deaths (as emails come out that deliberate infection of millions was Trump’s plan all along), our raging president is delusional in his bunker, still wildly insisting all this news is complete bullshit. I digested all that, to the extent one can. Then, a nonchalant hammer to the old face:

On Friday, we learn, Trump had Mike “Lock Her UP!” Flynn and his insane attorney Sidney Powell at the White House (with demented Trump dead-ender Rudy Giuliani participating by phone) for a powwow on how to keep Trump in power in spite of a pesky election loss of over 7,000,000 votes (and a 74 vote Electoral College margin) and no path remaining through the courts or Congress.

General Flynn, you will recall, was fired (with regret, by Mr. Trump) for lying to Mike Pence about illegal contacts with the Russians and then was prosecuted and admitted guilt in federal court, for repeating that lie to the FBI and a couple of other little white lies he needed to tell in order to get security clearance for his job as National Security Adviser. But otherwise, a fine and upstanding patriotic American hero! Trump always says what a good guy Flynn is. He ought to know.

Sidney Powell, you may recall, took over Flynn’s federal case and sought to have his guilty plea thrown out. Working closely with Bill Barr, her collaboration with the Bagpiper led to Barr withdrawing the charges against Flynn (Flynn’s several lies, Barr decided, were “immaterial” and therefore non-criminal — the real criminals were the partisan liars at the FBI who illegally trapped him into lying). Barr attempted to have the case dismissed without allowing the judge to hold a hearing before dismissing the case (the law allows a judge to hold a hearing if he’s not satisfied by the papers submitted). Barr and Powell insisted the judge instantly dismiss the case, as a matter of law. When the judge refused they sought a writ of mandamus, an extremely rare form of relief only given when no other legal avenue remains, to force the judge to dismiss the case against Flynn, along with his two guilty pleas. They got the writ, from a Trump appointee, on shamelessly partisan quasi-legal grounds (judge was trying to unconstitutionally “usurp” presidential power by demanding legal reasons for dismissing the case) that were overturned immediately when the judge appealed her ruling.

With a hearing on the horizon, in which DOJ lawyers would have to explain the dirty-looking, unusual DOJ about-face in suddenly hurrying to let the president’s pal off the hook, Trump pardoned Flynn unconditionally. Flynn immediately repaid this quid with his pro quo, giving fiery speeches, peppered with QAnon shout outs, about Trump’s greatness and the need to keep him in power no matter what millions of (colored fuckers, ugly women, lazy poor people, homosexuals, abortionists, elite child-molesting cannibals, fucking Commies and other) anti-American freedom-haters might think about it. Flynn is a good guy, remember, one of the best people Trump has ever collected, and certainly very loyal to the president.

Meanwhile, QAnon spouting attorney Sidney Powell, who threatened to release a biblical “kraken” [1] of a lawsuit to bring the entire fraudulent election and the vast blood-drinking, child raping cannibal conspiracy to steal Trump’s presidency crashing down, was fired by Trump’s campaign for being too insane even for them. Like all the other election lawsuits Team Trump brought, Powell’s were dismissed as baseless, releasing the mythical kraken, it turned out, was all in her fevered imagination. She was finally deemed too fucking crazy to be part of even this lunatic squad of suicide bomber Trump lawyers and was publicly renounced by Giuliani, who is something of an expert on lunatic suicide bomber Trump lawyering.

Powell still appeared regularly on right wing TV and internet shows, but only the most gullible and enraged took any of her raving seriously. Mike Flynn began calling for Trump to impose martial law and stay in power, claiming martial law had been declared 64 times and was nothing out of the ordinary.

Friday:

Makes sense, no? Appoint batshit crazy partisan Sidney Powell as “Special Counsel” (really, really special) to get to the bottom of this vast conspiracy, involving not only Trump haters everywhere but (and here’s the devilishness of this sick, dangerous anti-Trump conspiracy) every judge (including many Trump appointees) who heard every case related to Trump’s effort to overturn the election. Speaking of batshit crazy:

The New York Times added, because they are the best at this sort of touch:

A White House spokesman, Ms. Powell and a spokeswoman for Mr. Giuliani did not respond to requests for comment.

I ask you, fellow citizens, why would they respond? To the lying New York Times? Are you friggin’ serious?

Look at the crap they see fit to print!

[1]

The kraken is a legendary sea monster of gigantic size and cephalopod-like appearance in Scandinavian folklore. According to the Norse sagas, the kraken dwells off the coasts of Norway and Greenland and terrorizes nearby sailors. 

Wikipedia