abso fucking lutely
Category Archives: Law and Justice
Reich is right
Robert Reich, hitting the nail on the head, again.
The political is also gruellingly personal
It is not novel to observe that the personal and the political are closely related. In my case, the present political situation is also a grim, constant magnification of my personal experience. For those of us who are personally susceptible, who find constant hideous echoes of our personal experience in the political landscape, following the news produces a form of PTSD.
Gabor Maté made an interesting point about PTSD. Apparently of 100 soldiers sent into a hellish war zone, like house to house fighting in cities in Iraq where it is impossible to even know who the enemy is, only a certain percentage will emerge with PTSD (I think it was something like 15%). Every one of the soldiers who wind up with PTSD have childhood trauma that makes them susceptible to it. Not to say that the other soldiers are happy about the hell they’ve been sent to, or don’t have the occasional nightmare about it, but the exact re-experiencing of the original pain and terror happens only to a select few. So it is with the news.
The personal is political: there is a progressive personality type and a repressive personality type, an authoritarian personality type (that can go either way politically) and a type that embraces differences. There are inquisitive, talkative, collaborative types and close-minded, taciturn, competitive types. It’s easy enough to observe that some types are prone, by personality and life experience, to be liberal, others lean conservative. Some believe in harsh punishment, support the death penalty and others abhor the thought of a possibly innocent, usually poor, person being executed (as happens frequently) and embrace policies like restorative justice initiatives.
We have seen a deliberate, massively well-funded project (to be fair, engineered by the far right, guys like Charles Koch, Rupert Murdoch, and their highly effective network of morbidly wealthy fellow traveler influencers) to divide these types into uncompromising partisan camps that must fight the other side’s evil to the death. Who does this simplistic, eternal, total war benefit? The people who already enjoy every benefit. It comes at the expense of everyone else.
On a grand scale we see the triumph of selfishness, greed, heartlessness, corruption and flagrant lawlessness among the powerful and the hypocritical application of harsh law, even spontaneous death sentences for powerless citizens suspected of minor crimes. It can all be explained in an anodyne, New York Times style way that makes the status quo look less grotesque.
For example, economists of capitalism have a neutral term for the human cost to making vast profits — like babies born deformed and clusters of cancer near runoff from a chemical plant — externalities. You have to pay these poor people a certain amount in legal settlements, so your profit is slightly offset by the expense, but in the name of raising stock value to shareholders, externalities are an acceptable and unavoidable part of doing business, if the profit is otherwise high enough. Some would say that decision makers who factor such “externalities” into the cost of doing business belong out of business and in prison, but that’s a political view, incompatible with the “freedom” we all enjoy here in the free market.
When millions marched, during a pandemic, to protest the intolerable injustice of ongoing police killing of unarmed civilians for minor offenses — or none — they were met with teargas, tanks, helicopters, horseback charges by police, batons, handcuffs. The protesters were treated like an insurgent army, a force the right-wing administration claimed were a deadly, terroristic threat to national security that had to be neutralized with superior force. What’s up with that?
“If you are angry about something you claim gives you the right to be angry, then FUCK YOU! You want to protest so-called state violence? We’ll give you some violence you can take back home with you, when you get out of jail, asshole.”
This is the predictable reaction of a narcissistic psychopath. They will unleash the full force of whatever they’ve got to defeat anyone who has a problem with how they need to do things.
I learned, only very recently, at 66 years-old, that I’ve been shaped by and fighting narcissists my entire life. A few months ago I described the gruesome parade of many of my closest longtime friends as highly intelligent, darkly funny, prone to anger/angrily denying anger, deeply damaged, unable to compromise, determined to win no matter what the cost, etc. I did not yet know that this constellation of traits also describes the narcissist. I guess what made me finally understand what I was actually up against was suddenly being confronted by a series of outright lies, desperately, brazenly spat into my face in an attempt to make me submit.
Narcissism can be very subtle, as I also learned. The fact that my narcissistic father never needed to outright lie to “win” our arguments early on hid the cardinal trait of all narcissists from me: falseness. Without that lying piece I could see my father as disturbed, a jerk, an asshole, a tragic man, etc. but his overarching personality type, narcissist, was until very recently hidden from me.
Now it is all I can see, when I doom-scroll the news, hear George Santos angrily rebut the true charges that he’s a lying sack of shit, the passionate calls to impeach Biden, (details of charges to follow), a strutting donkey of less than average donkey intelligence calling for a national divorce, a spineless political worm’s defense of the “transparent” move of handing all January 6th security footage to a propagandist for autocracy and on down the list.
Narcissists rule, yo, as they were born to do. They always have the same answer to every concern you might raise “FUCK YOU.” They may say this harshly, or politely as can be, but the answer will always be a close variation on that staunch proposition. “You want to know why I have nothing but contempt for you, asshole? How about FUCK YOU, that fix the boo-boo?”
“And have a very nice day.”
Heather Cox Richardson puts Kevin McCarthy’s craven, nasty, dangerous deal with the MAGA fringe into grim perspective.
Carlson has repeatedly challenged the official accounts of the riot, blaming the federal government for launching the attack and claiming that FBI agents were behind it. Carlson is also one of the key conspirators in the Fox News Channel promotion of the Big Lie that Trump won the 2020 election, even though they dismissed that notion privately. The expectation is that Carlson will hack whatever videos he can into a version of the Republican narrative.
But there is more: McCarthy is fundraising off his release of the videos to Carlson, claiming he is delivering “truth and transparency over partisan games” and asking “patriots” to “chip…in” to help House Republicans.
Eat the rich
Two excellent ones from Robert Reich
American Exceptionalism: Health care for seniors, episode 71
Medicare for all, baby.
Just spent 45 minutes on the phone with a very nice receptionist at Medicare who reviewed my last few payments. I’d made all of them, had not missed one. I was calling to find out why they had threatened to cancel my Medicare health insurance with a delinquent premium notice and why I’d been billed an additional $510 (that I promptly paid, just to be safe) when the record showed I had paid it already, three months ago.
The woman was very nice, but helpless. She confirmed that I hadn’t missed a payment and that I shouldn’t have been sent a delinquent account notice, but, after placing me on hold several times, was unable to verify that the delinquent account notice had been sent in error, though from what she and I could tell, based on my payment record, it certainly had been. Mistakes happen. In 7-10 business days I’ll hear back from Medicare, if not, I should call again, and have a very nice day.
Need a colonoscopy, old man? The Medicare.gov website tells you everything you need to know, or need to find out, or need ask your doctor, or research with a competent financial advisor who is schooled in the intricacies of the gold standard of American health insurance (not healthcare, that’s for godless commies and people in less exceptional nations) for old people who don’t have better health insurance. Here you go, from Medicare.gov:
Medicare covers screening colonoscopies once every 24 months if you’re at high risk for colorectal cancer. If you aren’t at high risk, Medicare covers the test once every 120 months, or 48 months after a previous flexible sigmoidoscopy. There’s a minimum age requirement of 45. (note, Medicare does not cover anyone under 65, does it?)
If your doctor or other qualified health care provider accepts assignment, you pay nothing for this test. However, if your doctor finds and removes a polyp or other tissue during the colonoscopy, you pay 15% of the Medicare-Approved Amount for your doctors’ services. In a hospital outpatient setting, you also pay the hospital a 15% coinsurance. The Part B deductible doesn’t apply. If you initially have a non-invasive stool-based screening test (fecal occult blood tests or multi-target stool DNA test) and receive a positive result, Medicare also covers a follow-up colonoscopy as a screening test
Note: To find out how much your test, item, or service will cost, talk to your doctor or health care provider. The specific amount you’ll owe may depend on several things, like:
Other insurance you may have
How much your doctor charges
If your doctor accepts assignment
The type of facility where you get your test, item, or service
Note: Your doctor or other health care provider may recommend you get services more often than Medicare covers. Or, they may recommend services that Medicare doesn’t cover. If this happens, you may have to pay some or all of the costs.
Ask questions so you understand why your doctor is recommending certain services and if, or how much, Medicare will pay for them.
Sociopathic transgression # 397
We all know that a desperate person with no scruples, feeling cornered and about to lose something they need, is capable of atrocious behavior. Even if the person has some scruples, when badly wounded and in great pain they may become capable of terrible acts.
Donald Trump’s brain, politically speaking, is an apparently very disturbed man named Steve Bannon. Sloppy Steve fancies himself a modern day strategist of international nationalism (which rings like National Socialism), right-wing oligarchic authoritarianism. He speaks of Vladimir Lenin’s “fire hose of mendacity”, the idea of flooding the marketplace of ideas with a constant high-powered flood of incendiary lies, like spraying diarrhea out of a high pressure nozzle. People get so overwhemed, so worn out, so sickened, that they turn away, while many others, less capable critical thinkers, are convinced by the constant stream of verifiable horseshit that comes too fast to fact check.
The transactional Trump was arguably the most corrupt, and one of the most insane, presidents who ever won the Electoral College. He was said to constantly push against the guardrails, as the New York Times styled it “bending and sometimes breaking them“. Most of the time he would just take a greasy shit on them, “here are your fucking norms, asshole.“
By design, according to Bannon’s Leninist strategy and Trump’s own penchant for chaos, it would take hours to list all of the destructive, corrupt and despicable acts committed by this administration (ask any of the remaining 900+ of the almost 4,000 children seized from asylum seekers who will never see their parents again).
Here’s a disgusting one that just jumped out at me, nicely encapsulating the destructive psychopathy of the GOP’s leader and the moral tone of its lynch mob caucus. I was reminded of it when I saw a photo of the supremely spineless Mike Pence wearing his special Vice President of the United States Covid mask.
Trump tested positive for Covid a day or two before the first 2020 presidential debate, and lied about it, claiming his retest was negative. It would have been a political disaster for him to admit that he was so weak and mortal that he got Covid, the hoax virus that Biden invented to defeat him in a rigged election. So the usually punctual president showed up late for the debate, too late to take the Covid test he’d agreed to take, and immediately took the stage with no mask barking at Biden from close range. Biden was, fortunately, wearing a mask.
Trump mocked Biden’s mask and within a day or two was medevacced to one of the greatest hospitals in the world to have every one of the new million dollar Covid treatments available.
Trump demanded an early release from the hospital and forced his secret service detail to drive around with him in a closed car so he could wave to his fans while his agents contracted Covid from him during his strongman photo op right out of his boyfriend Kim jong-un’s playbook. Then he immediately bragged about how easy it was to defeat Covid, that it was mind over matter, that if you were strong you had nothing to fear from this so-called pandemic.
Then the insane, highly infectious prick skirts the agreement he made to be tested before he took the debate stage. On the honor system the infamous and prolific liar lyingly told the corrupt, sick, dangerous, biased libtard cucks who were running the unfair debate that he had tested negative for Covid. His fucking family sat in the first row hissing and coughing throughout the debate with no masks on. Biden, fortunately, was wearing a mask. Which is probably what saved his life, or at least saved the senior citizen a bad case of a deadly pandemic.
Hard to even untangle the many strands of that transgression. He’d been lying for months about Covid, first claiming it would go away in a few weeks, saying it was the Kung Flu, blaming Hunter Biden, China and corrupt Ukraine for Covid-19, then appointing his imbecile son-in-law to be the czar of Covid, because Jared had done such a wonderful job fixing the opioid crisis and had also successfully brought peace to the Middle East (not including the Palestinians who he called ungrateful idiots).
Now if Biden had died of Covid that he contracted from Trump at that debate, could Trump go to prison for manslaughter based on his demonstrable depraved indifference to human life?
Reality vs. Angering Spin
You can argue, as authoritarians like Ron DeSantis do, that teaching current events in light of the actual past stigmatizes innocent young white children with the sins of their grandfathers, but that is only a transactional argument in the service of increasing your side’s power.
It is harder to argue persuasively about a simple fact like this:
Which is why wealthy fascists will always focus on the terrible burden to the “job creators” a living wage for unskilled workers would impose on the wealthy. They focus on why we must pity the poor super wealthy, who grace us all with their generosity and create a beautiful and just society for us all.
Believe that, you know, the myth of the generous, selfless billionaire philanthropist — or stay focused on the so-called grotesque injustice of one person having more than 10 million others, while children starve in the wealthiest country in human history.
And, of course, people like me completely ignore the fact that people who inherit a mountain of money deserve every penny of it, free of DEATH TAX, while poor people, even if willing to work very hard, only deserve a minimum beyond the bare legal minimum. Period.
Bill Barr on the Mueller investigation
17 seconds of Donald Trump’s former gunsel, Bagpiper Bill Barr, describing “one of the greatest travesties in American history” as he appointed a special prosecutor to investigate the oringes of Trump’s confident insistence that he never fucking did anything wrong in his life, in spite of all the sick, dangerous haters who blame him for everything.
Barr is the same corrupt pile of shit who insisted that mail-in voting obviously was an invitation to massive election fraud (during the lead up to the 2020 election). He testified that there was good reason to believe that Obama had spied on Trump during his campaign. He told a law enforcement crowd that Black Americans had better start respecting the police if they expected the protection of the completely non-racist American police force.
So not only a corruptly lying sack of shit, but a racist corruptly lying sack of shit.
A short summary of Barr’s career as the MAGA Attorney General.
Durham and Barr — totally unweaponized
The New York Times, as it sometimes does, broke an important investigative report detailing a stunning bit of MAGA ethics under Attorney General Bill Barr, who appointed, and worked closely with, a Special Counsel to investigate the investigators who had found 140 incidents of coordination between the Trump campaign and Putin, as well as ample evidence of Trump’s actions to obstruct that investigation.
Barr set out to prove that the oringes of Mueller’s investigation were corrupt, a “deep state” conspiracy of career DOJ employees hatched out of the fever dreams of contemptible libtard cucks. He used the full weight of Trump’s DOJ to create an ongoing propaganda coup that could be amplified nightly on Fox News, OANN, Newsmax, Breitbart, Facebook, Twitter, Der Stürmer, etc, in the lead up to the 2020 election.
Remember the first order of business in the MAGA House of Representatives after their recent Red Wave mandate, a nine vote majority in a 435 member body — cut funding to the Office of Congressional Ethics. Then a quick rules change to get a couple of the Democratic members off the bipartisan committee and make it harder to have a quorum to conduct any business in the office of ethics. So far so good.
Then leave it to the Communist, Marxist, Socialist, fascist New York Times to uncover how Bill Barr and his fellow deeply conservative, Catholic, 72 year-old culture warrior, John Durham, worked closely to leave no stone unturned in trying to vindicate Donald Trump’s total victimhood in the baseless, partisan Mueller probe.
How Barr’s Quest to Find Flaws in the Russia Inquiry Unraveled
WASHINGTON — It became a regular litany of grievances from President Donald J. Trump and his supporters: The investigation into his 2016 campaign’s ties to Russia was a witch hunt, they maintained, that had been opened without any solid basis, went on too long and found no proof of collusion.
Egged on by Mr. Trump, Attorney General William P. Barr set out in 2019 to dig into their shared theory that the Russia investigation likely stemmed from a conspiracy by intelligence or law enforcement agencies. To lead the inquiry, Mr. Barr turned to a hard-nosed prosecutor named John H. Durham, and later granted him special counsel status to carry on after Mr. Trump left office.
But after almost four years — far longer than the Russia investigation itself — Mr. Durham’s work is coming to an end without uncovering anything like the deep state plot alleged by Mr. Trump and suspected by Mr. Barr.
Moreover, a monthslong review by The New York Times found that the main thrust of the Durham inquiry was marked by some of the very same flaws — including a strained justification for opening it and its role in fueling partisan conspiracy theories that would never be charged in court — that Trump allies claim characterized the Russia investigation.source