Rage farming?

When I read this headline yesterday in the Washington Post:

I immediately pictured the in-your-face, proudly ignorant, provocatively opinionated, unvaccinated, infectious former running mate of maverick John McCain smugly saying to the world, and NYC in particular, “here’s your fucking honor system, assholes.” It was enough to piss me off, the thought of that provocateur giving the finger to the honor system, like everyone else in her slavishly authoritarian party.

I felt a flash of anger. I thought of Tich Nhat Hanh’s good advice.

Here is Sarah Lazarus’s wry version of the Palin story:

Sarah Palin dined out at multiple New York City restaurants after testing positive for COVID, but in her defense, she’s had a lot of time to fill since her libel trial got delayed because she tested positive for COVID

The New York Times had their usual judiciously worded headline today:

A few hours after I saw the Washington Post headline I went back and took a look at the Washington Post article.

https://wapo.st/3G1f7RO

It turns out Sarah Palin ate outdoors, which is apparently fine in New York City if you are unvaccinated, whether tested or untested (covid positive could be a deal breaker there, it is an honor system). The article states that, according to someone, she went back to the restaurant to apologize for the ruckus she’d caused a few days earlier, which may be true. The article also noted that it has not been disclosed when Palin tested positive for covid-19, meaning the five day isolation period the CDC recommends could theoretically have passed. All unlikely, perhaps, but possibly true.

So is the attention grabbing headline really fair? Sarah Palin is in NYC to testify in her federal lawsuit against the New York Times, she claims a 2017 editorial libeled her. She’s waiting for a negative covid test so the trial can get started. By dining outdoors, it seems she had not actually flouted the letter of New York City’s pandemic regulations, assuming she wasn’t lying about her infectious status. She surely also enjoyed the attention she got for making the radical left covid-haters mad, you betcha.

She is an ignorant asshole, and a sassy symbol for millions more, standing on the right to infect whoever they want with a potentially deadly disease, in the name of performing rabid partisan politics and “owning”, if not also killing, political enemies. She is an aggravating pustule on the eyelid of American democracy, the wet dream of cynical fucks who pictured someone exactly like Trump as the president one day. But is the provocative, click bait headline fair in announcing that she deliberately flouted New York city’s covid rules when the article under the bold headline makes a something of a case that she may not have? Just asking.

Everybody wants to be treated fairly, you could even say we all deserve it. Fairness is another word for justice, after all. Even a provocative piece of shit is entitled to make the case that she’s being treated unfairly, as Ms. Palin is about to do in federal court in this anarchist jurisdiction.

t’s Be slow to anger, quick to seek better understanding. Breathing is much better than holding your breath til your face turns blue. Trust me on that one.

Not succumbing to anger is very, very hard to do, I know, particularly when provoked, even moreso when constant provocation is part of a deliberate plan to keep everyone enraged, to increase “engagement” on “social media” and bring about long planned American fascism, a privatized corporate state with unlimited wealth for a few and a hearty fuck you to everyone else.

It is best, for yourself and for all of us, to practice being slower to anger, quick to seek better understanding. Breathing, and letting ourselves calm, not immediately reacting to each provocation, is much better than holding your breath til your face turns blue. Trust me on that one.

And, yeah, calmly, and with love, fuck Sarah Palin.

Hard to refute

After their candidate won the election that was stolen from him, in their fevered imagination, a host of extralegal steps were undertaken by partisan conspirators, justified by crackpot constitutional theories, to keep their defrauded leader in power. Their efforts focused on January 6th, the last chance to keep him in power over the will of an 8 million vote majority and an Electoral College majority identical to his four years earlier. The final play, right before Biden’s victory would become irreversible, was a show of force, the violent storming of the Capitol building.

Initially denounced by all Republican leaders, they soon saw the popularity of the alternative reality that their leader had been deprived of power by an organized bipartisan plot to rig the election and steal victory from him. The so-called riot was, like, a totally legit peaceful protest. The rioters were right all along! That story has legs!

Using the filibuster back in May, Senate Republicans shut down debate on formation of a senate committee to investigate the January 6th siege of the Capitol. This was after weeks of bad faith negotiations during which the GOP was granted every advantage they sought on that committee. When the House formed a special committee, the Republican leader in the House tried to insert two or three loud-mouthed defenders of the right to riot when an election is allegedly stolen. These shrill obstructionists were correctly kept off of the commission. One of them is now standing on his absolute right not to divulge anything he discussed with the former president on January 6th, something he claimed he’d be glad to talk about, since, as he repeated, he had nothing to hide.

Now the word is that the House January 6th Select Committee is illegitimate, not bipartisan, another baseless Democrat [sic] witch hunt like Mueller’s, that the two Republican members are traitors to the rest of the Republican Party.

Bearing all that in mind, take a look at this short video and look for a weak link in the story that it presents, in light of what the January 6th Committe has now confirmed with a mountain of evidence.

Merrick?

Jon Ossoff, excellent speech in defense of the right to vote

It’s hard to believe democracy is still having to fight this same fucking war over and over again against the infinitely wealthy forces of reaction and entitlement, but there we go.

Jon Ossoff, the first Jewish US senator from the great state of Georgia (mein yamulka’s off to you, Jon), delivered a powerful speech in defense of passing a federal law to protect the once again threatened right to vote.

The only thing I wish Ossoff would have added was that not only was the Voting Rights Act last reauthorized in a bipartisan vote, as he points out, but in a unanimous bipartisan vote, 98 to zero in the Senate. All 16 Republicans still in the Senate voted for Voting Rights in that 98-0 vote, the same folk now all unanimous in filibustering debate and a vote on the same law they’d embraced in 2006, like the craven tools of authoritarianism they now plainly are (OK, not that last part, Jon).

Powerful speech well worth hearing, very sad that not even one of the sixteen Republican former voting rights supporters was moved by it.

Majority Rule vs. the machinations of the unscrupulous uber-wellborn

Why is the 1965 Voting Rights Act so crucial to democracy? The law was a great victory for equality at law after a bloody, generations-long fight for enforcement of the constitutionally guaranteed right to vote, a right long denied, openly and also under many subterfuges.

From the start, wealthy, determined reactionaries gritted their teeth about Black, brown and urban poor people voting and got to work to counter “majoritarian tyranny.” Over decades they figured out how to get the Supreme Court to grant them a series of game changing powers to perpetuate their privileges.

A key prize was the new constitutional right to form legal entities to spend limitless amounts of tax-deductible money to engage in fully protected freedom of speech, to express partisan political views and influence political outcomes, to the extent their vast fortunes allowed. Everybody else, one vote and limited campaign donations, at best. The right to vote is the majority’s only voice to oppose the designs of determined, activist billionaire reactionaries.

The right to vote is the essential right of democracy, in a government that derives its just powers from the consent of the governed. It can take millions of us casting votes to express our combined wishes to overcome the will of a handful of super-wealthy individuals, their identities secret, spending limitless, anonymous, tax-deductible dough to influence elections, to lobby and buy the Sinemas, Manchins, McConnells and their ilk.

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse describes the electoral game, tirelessly and cleverly rigged by right-wing billionaires and their hired political operatives and other hirelings to secretly wield undemocratic influence on a mass scale.

Whitehouse ends his speech talking about the dark money funded “Honest Elections Project,” a corporate entity created solely to influence elections. The Honest Elections Project exercised $45,000,000 in 100% anonymous free speech prior to the 2020 elections. No individuals are associated with this gigantic influence machine because all identities are legally laundered through 501(c)(3) Donors’ Trust, which also makes their political gifts tax deductible. Here’s Whitehouse:

Somebody wrote [The Honest Elections Project] a $19,000,000 check to suppress votes.


Folks, if we don’t get to the bottom of this we’re going to have a real problem on our hands, and when we get to the bottom of this, the American public will be with us because they hate this stuff.

You can be a Bernie Bro or you can be a Tea Partier, you can disagree on everything. and you agree that big dark money corruption has no place in American democracy.

Hard to argue with any of that (hence the filibuster, which silences all debate). The whole presentation is well worth taking in.

McConnell gloats

From Heather Cox Richardson’s Letters from an American, January 19, 2022

Greg Sargent, from today’s Washington Post:

At the one-year mark in President Biden’s first term, there’s no sugarcoating it: A barrage of new polls are absolutely brutal for him. Surveys from NBC News and the Associated Press both put Biden’s approval at 43 percent, and CBS News puts it at 44 percent, in large drops since last summer.


In short: Everything is going pretty much as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has planned. We know this because the Kentucky Republican told us exactly how he planned it. In fact, he laid out the playbook more than a decade ago, and it has changed little since then.


At dark moments such as these, after Biden’s voting rights agenda fell to a Republican filibuster on Wednesday night, it’s worth revisiting a largely-forgotten, 11-year-old quote from McConnell. It captures a crucial insight about U.S. politics that helps illuminate the struggles Democrats are facing, and why they feel so frustrating and intractable.


At the time, McConnell was similarly wielding his role as minority leader to obstruct another Democratic president, by denying any and all GOP support for proposals like the 2010 Affordable Care Act. McConnell explained his thinking to journalist Joshua Green:


“We worked very hard to keep our fingerprints off of these proposals,” McConnell says. “Because we thought — correctly, I think — that the only way the American people would know that a great debate was going on was if the measures were not bipartisan. When you hang the ‘bipartisan’ tag on something, the perception is that differences have been worked out, and there’s a broad agreement that that’s the way forward.”

https://wapo.st/3nDZfyn

Why change the winning, hopelessness-inspiring gridlock formula that brought us Jesus’s choice Donald Trump and the triumph of Charles Koch’s once lunatic fringe John Birch Society?

How bullies see the world

Bullies, because they have never felt safe, loved, or cherished, grow up supremely defensive, perpetually hurt, ashamed of their weakness and inconsolably angry. They were emotionally neglected, humiliated for ordinary human needs, bullied by someone they depended on when they were very young. These tiny victims grow up to see life through the eyes of a hurt child, a zero-sum game pitting the strong against the weak, a contest fated to end only in dominance or submission.

To berate and dismiss, or otherwise beat you, is to dominate you. To sincerely apologize to you when I see I have hurt you is to bend the knee in humiliated weakness. Bullies see a simplified black and white world, a series of grim transactions to be fought to victory or defeat. Victory feels fleetingly great, the agony of defeat is well-known and terrible to behold, particularly in a bully.

This inconsolable rage in the heart starts in the bully’s earliest life, continues year after year, making the young person harden himself against pain until finally he succumbs to sadism. The ability to dominate and bully people is not without its rewards in the world of business and politics, but it is a shit thing just the same. When a bully in control of others creates a culture of bullying, where only brutality in service to the bully is rewarded, it is a shit thing and often a deadly thing.

I just finished listening to the fascinating The Drama of the Gifted Child by Alice Miller. Though the book, in its first edition, was published in 1978, it ends with a seemingly prescient insight, though it addresses a perpetual human failing — the falling into angry mobs because the unbearable anguish of your life compels you to take out your rage on strangers, in the name of a belief system. Here is the very end of Alice Miller’s popular book:

A person who can honestly, and without self-deception, deal with his feelings has no need to disguise them with the help of ideologies. The basic similarity of the various nationalistic movements flourishing today reveals that their motives have nothing to do with the real interests of the people who are fighting and hating, but instead have very much to do with those people’s childhood histories.

The mistreatment, humiliation and exploitation of children is the same worldwide as is the means of avoiding the memory of it. Individuals who do not want to know their own truth collude in denial with society as a whole, looking for a common enemy on whom to act out their repressed rage. But as the inhabitants of this shrinking planet near the end of the twentieth century the danger inherent in self-deception is growing exponentially, and we can afford it less than ever. Fortunately, at the same time, we now have the tools we need to truly understand ourselves as we were and as we are.

For most bullies, the path away from sadism is too painful. What they have suffered as vulnerable children is too painful to seek insight into. They feel in control only when dominating others, as they were brutally dominated.

We learn, to nobody’s surprise, that as children Donald Trump and Charles Koch (born 1946 and 1935 respectively), both had driven, largely absent fathers who were brutal, intolerant and demanding, people who might fairly be called unloving pieces of shit. They were raised to believe that only the ruthless pursuit of money and power made them worthy of love (which it is unlikely either of them ever found in later life.)

Fred Koch was an admirer of the Nazis, he was introduced to Hitler before the war and Koch Industries built the oil refineries that the Luftwaffe would need for their high octane fuel to lead Hitler’s blitzkreig. Fred Trump was arrested as a young man at a Ku Klux Klan rally in Queens. Fred Koch was one of the founders of the John Birch Society, the lunatic fascist fringe of the far-right in the years after Brown v. Board of Education made public school segregation illegal in the U.S., the Birchers responded by calling for the Chief Justice’s impeachment. Fred Trump took millions in tax subsidies to build post-war working class housing, passed most of it on to his children tax-free through various frauds (read the New York Times investigative story about Frederick Christ Trump’s elaborate tax fraud and tax evasion schemes, a factual article never challenged in court [1]) and kept his housing developments racially segregated (no Puerto Ricans either, thank you) until the Fair Housing Act and the federal court forced him to stop discriminating. Characteristically, Fred Trump, and his second choice protegée. Donald [2], admitted no wrongdoing and claimed victory in the case, although “minorities” were now able to rent Trump apartments.

Charles was the second oldest of four Koch brothers (he and David beat the other two in a bitter, decades-long court battle for the right to Koch Industries), Donald was the third of four Trump children. Fred Koch believed his sons should fight it out, to see who was fit to be the boss. When they were toddlers Fred Koch, who was rarely at home, hired a strict German nanny to make sure the boys all used the toilet at the same time every day, and she raised young Charles, his older brother Fred Jr. and the babies, until the Nazis took France and she returned to the homeland to celebrate with the Fuhrer. Fred Trump openly favored his older, brighter son, a golden boy named Fred Jr., beloved of everybody. Young Donald didn’t know what to do with himself until he got a little brother to bully. It beat the hell out of his life before he had a weak baby brother to practice sadism on.

Bullies see the world as a desperate fight not to be injured and their main weapon is attack. They find people weaker than themselves to prey on, if someone shows fear, they attack. The way not to be bullied is to stand up to a bully, though few of us consistently have this ability. In the case of Donald Trump, any time he has been forcefully opposed he has backed down. We saw this at several key moments during his time in office, even at the very end, while vehemently denying his electoral loss, when he backed down from replacing the Attorney General with a man who would lie to confirm Trump’s lie about a stolen election, after a three hour shouting match, in the face of a unified threat from leaders of the Department of Justice and his loyal White House Counsel.

The bully as an individual is one thing, and sickening enough. The bully as a mob, a thousand, or a million strong, gathered to take out their limitless hurt and rage on those who can’t defend themselves, an ongoing tragedy of human history. Insight might be extremely painful for a bully to attain, but it is probably less painful than being tortured, with your neck in a noose, at the mercy of your fellow enraged bullies.

[1]

In spite of this threat, a brilliant example of the fiercest legal puffery money can buy, inserted in a very droll matter by the Grey Lady, between two paragraphs detailing the fraud with great specificity:

[2]

Freddie, Fred Trump Jr., (Mary Trump’s father) had disappointed his father with a lack of ruthlessness, demonstrated dramatically when he replaced drafty windows in freezing Trump apartments in a complex he was managing without forcing the tenants to take their powerful landlord to court. It cost Frederick Christ Trump millions to replace the windows, (for no reason!} and was the decisive blow against his chosen son, Fred Jr. as his successor.

Fred Sr. realized he’d have to train the vain little juvenile delinquent to run the Trump empire, once the kid proved that, even though he had little business smarts, he was a ruthless killer who’d do whatever was necessary to increase the family fortune. Fred Jr. ended his days drinking himself to death as a custodian in one of the Trump buildings. His family would be cheated by the other Trumps when the patriarch finally died, naturally. Donald would finally be able to defy his father by selling off all his properties, in express violation of his stated wishes. He sold his father’s real estate empire for well under its appraised value, naturally.

Intent?

All my years as a lawyer still do not allow me to understand how a person’s willfully delusional belief can insulate him from having the clear intent that his actions continually demonstrated. First, a bit of context from today’s Washington Post.

Jennifer Rubin, in an op-ed in today’s Washington Post, chose Merrick Garland as the “distinguished pol of the week” for his long-belated speech about following the facts and the law and prosecuting everyone involved in the insurrection that culminated in the riot at the Capitol on January 6th. Rubin, a lawyer by training and, in my opinion, an astute political analyst, was encouraged by Garland’s newly announced determination to follow the facts and the law and hold everyone accountable for the insurrectionist riot (we can now officially call it that, after DOJ charged a bunch of militia leaders with seditious conspiracy), whether they stormed the Capitol on January 6 or not. Her op ed was written to encourage us to be encouraged too. If you believe Garland’s resolve, and trust his ability to get investigations and prosecutions done, and irreversible convictions, before the short window of two party democracy closes, you should be encouraged.

A top headline on the front page of the same Washington Post reads: Justice Dept’s January 6 conspiracy probe doesn’t seem to directly pursue Trump. The article details the lack of DOJ investigation into Trump, his inner circle at the very end, including anyone who was in the Willard Hotel Command Center on January 6. Pleader of the Fifth Amendment John Eastman, author of the legal memo on how Pence could brazen it out on January 6th, using a crackpot 12th Amendment legal theory, to keep the Biden election result in doubt and throw the election to the Republican (for purposes of an electoral tie only) House, was never contacted by DOJ. Neither was disgraced former NYC police commissioner and convicted felon Bernard Kerik (imprisoned in the same new jail complex that until his conviction bore his name — pardoned by Trumpie) who told the Post he had “no DOJ contact”. Neither was Rudy, Sloppy Steve, American Eichmann Jeffery Clark, Mark Meadows. Mike “Good guy” Flynn or anyone else involved in the Trump dead-enders’ hydra-headed plan to overturn a US presidential election based on repeated allegations of massive voter fraud by Black urban voters.

We read that the DOJ has not contacted Brad Raffensberger, whose recorded call with Trump. released publicly more than a year ago, has the desperate former president ticking off every offense and sub-offense in the Georgia criminal law about attempting to corruptly influence an election outcome. Between the lines we find ourselves reading “what the fucking fuck?”

Perhaps most concerning is this fucking trope, which recurs in the article and, as I wrote up top, I have no idea how to understand, even after three years in law school and practicing law for a decade.

How is this different than Alan Dershowitz’s demented argument at one of Trumpie’s impeachments that if the president sincerely believed he was acting in the best interests of the nation, even if he was incorrect in his belief, as when he asked the new Ukrainian president to announce a fake fraud investigation to smear his political opponent (on the grounds that it was best for his country that he alone be left in place to fix it) that he could not have committed a misdemeanor, let alone a high crime? It is a close variation on the classic Nuremberg defense: if the Fuhrer commanded me to do it, and his word is law, and I was bound by an oath to obey, how was I to know he was an insane, mass murdering maniac ordering me to commit massive war crimes, let alone crimes against humanity, when I merely did what I to this day believe was my lawful duty?

Intent can be established by showing a pattern of behavior that demonstrates it. Trump intended to stay in office, no matter what. His intent was clear and every act he undertook, before and after the 2020 election, was in furtherance of what he intended to do. He continued to do these things after being shown he was mistaken in his belief that the election had been stolen by bipartisan fraud. He fired and replaced any official who served at his pleasure who told him the truth about the election he still refuses to concede he lost.

He was told, unequivocally, by his loyal gunsel Bill Barr, by Barr’s successor who refused to participate in a plan to enlist the DOJ in the fraudulent claim of voter fraud, by Pat Cippolone, his White House Counsel, by HSA cyber specialist Chris Krebs [1], by Raffensberger, by many others loyal to him, that there had been no evidence of massive, or even appreciable, voter fraud found. This was confirmed by numerous recounts and “audits” in every swing state Trump lost. It was reaffirmed when every lawsuit brought to challenge the election results was thrown out of court for failure to make a legal case.

Are we to believe that if Trump argues that he genuinely believed these people all lied to him, that the recounts and audits were all wrong, that the courts acted out of mere spite and irrational hatred of him, and that his lie was actually the truth, that he lacked the intent, and the premeditation, to commit the crimes he seems to have committed (hard to explain events otherwise, unless you get all of your information only from FOX, OANN, Newmax or Breitbart)? Seems to me the claim might be useful as part of an insanity defense, but how does it show a hard to overcome lack of intent on Trumpie’s part?

Hard to keep the top of my skull from blowing off my head, sometimes. We are living in times so interesting they make the old Chinese curse “may you live in interesting times” really pop.

[1]

Trump fired Krebs, Trump’s Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency in the United States Department of Homeland Security, immediately after Krebs publicly stated that the 2020 election had been the most secure election on record. Evidence of the Orange Polyp’s Intent? Nah…

All they needed was their Second Amendment

When Scalia and four other right-wing “originalist” justices ruled that the Second Amendment, which begins “[a] well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state” conferred a virtually illimitable individual right to keep and walk around with firearms, whether individuals were members of the well-regulated militias to protect against slave revolts that the amendment was designed for or not, the NRA and gun manufacturer lobbyists rejoiced. The Supreme Court had spoken, it would be virtually impossible to impose federal limitations on gun sales, gun ownership, gun carrying, gun use. No matter how regular American mass shootings became, no matter that 90% of the population, after the infamous slaughter of kindergarteners by a crazed heavily armed man who had first murdered his mother, favored nationwide restrictions on gun ownership, at the very least background checks, in our exceptional democracy.

States and localities, of course, can regulate guns, subject to court challenges by NRA lobbyists and gun manufacturers. Several states require no training or licensing, get as many guns as you want, carry them openly wherever you want, it’s your undeniable freedom under Scalia’s learned interpretation of the Second Amendment. The District of Columbia, not a state (though more populous than Vermont or Wyoming), has fairly strict restrictions on guns. As a result, the rioters who planned for bloodshed at the Capitol on January 6th mostly left their guns in cars, trucks, stockpiled across the river in Virginia (as the recent seditious conspiracy indictments inform us).

Imagine if that angry army of tourists had been able to freely exercise their sacred Second Amendment right on January 6th. There would have been a shoot out. It would have been a mass casualty event, as planned by the most extreme members of that crowd, who, we now know from their own words, called for a blood bath. That policeman screaming in agony and fear as the MAGA rioters crushed him in a doorway? Shot in the face, “made that fucking noise stop, bro” and a thousand instant thumbs ups.

It’s fair to say, and chilling to consider, that but for D.C.’s strict gun laws, we’d all be currently living in an American version of the Third Reich.

I can speak only for myself, an opinionated person writing here daily under the First Amendment, able to freely refer to the “transactional” leader of the GOP as the Orange Polyp and the obstructionist vanity senators blocking democracy as piles of shit, but after a bloodbath at the Capitol, and the extra-constitutional installation of a lawless, malignant polyp as permanent president, I’d probably already be in a concentration camp.

Hyperbole? Perhaps, but only because of my very small audience here on the internet. I wouldn’t be important enough to round up in the early rounds of violent revenge against those critical of a leader so perfect he is lovingly embraced by thousands of White Christian leaders across the Bible Belt and beyond. Leaders who understand that Jesus Christ Himself wanted the least of them to have guns, as many and as powerful as they like, to kill heretics, traitors and child molesters everywhere.