Sedition!

Why is this dangerous maniac not in custody?

On Capitol Hill, top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci warned a Senate committee that many of those who survive COVID-19 suffer symptoms measured in weeks to months.

Dr. Anthony Fauci: “They have fatigue, myalgia, fever and involvement of the neurological system, as well as cognitive abnormalities such as the inability to concentrate.”

Dr. Fauci warned that many patients who appeared to have recovered from COVID-19 were found to have inflammation of the heart.

Dr. Anthony Fauci: “These are the kind of things that tell us we must be humble and that we do not completely understand the nature of this illness.”

source

or Deborah Birx, for that matter:

The United States reported nearly 1,100 deaths from COVID-19 and over 40,000 new coronavirus infections on Wednesday. At the White House, President Trump said he might overrule the Food and Drug Administration if it issues stricter guidelines on the emergency use of a vaccine. Public health officials warn Trump’s push to approve a vaccine before Election Day threatens to bring an unsafe and untested product to market.

This comes as CNN reports White House task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx is “distressed” with the direction of Trump’s coronavirus policy and is not certain how much longer she can serve in her position. CNN reports Birx believes White House coronavirus adviser Dr. Scott Atlas is feeding the president misleading information about the efficacy of face masks for controlling the spread of the virus.

source

It’s like these “scientists” refuse to believe the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES! He said, just yesterday, at a packed, mask-optional rally, that hardly anybody gets this disease and that it’s usually very mild if you’re under 18. Yet they — and many, many others — continue to spread these lies about a supposedly out of control pandemic that is no longer even a thing.

I’m confident Bill Barr already has people drawing up the paperwork, probably arrest them both on federal charges the night of the rigged election, along with millions of other traitors.

And they can make fun as much as they like: NO AMERICANS ARE DYING OF THIS DEADLY CHINESE/BIDEN HOAX!

And more of them, making fancy fake videos, trying to rig the upcoming election!

The Right to Violence

A brutal method some humans with power use to dominate others is violently punishing them for understandable anger that they themselves provoked in the other. You treat people unfairly, even brutally, and ruthlessly keep the pressure on them. Then, when resentment finally turns to anger, use violence to “put down” that anger and restore “law and order”.

We can see this same mechanism at work in our personal lives, when somebody insists we have no right to our strong feelings — no matter what may have caused them.

On a political level, it works the same way. Subjugate them, abuse them, make them mad, when they get mad point out that they are dangerous and insane, then surround them with the now ubiquitous SWAT teams empowered to use any violent means necessary to “keep the peace”. SWAT, we learn from the internet, is Special Weapons and Tactics, and these highly militarized police teams originated in Los Angeles in the late sixties in response to the Watts Riots.

Works every time, if you have a monopoly on state violence, make and enforce the laws, you have nothing to fear but the injury and death of as many people you don’t care about as needed to maintain the status quo. If the enraged bastards don’t like it, fuck ’em, bring in the militarized anti-insurgency riot police.

You can’t read any serious history of the United States and not understand that most of today’s American blacks are the descendants of chattel slaves (property with “no rights a white man is bound to respect”[1]) and, after the end of slavery, the victims of more than a century of unpunished, state-tolerated terrorism by white supremacists. You’d have to be Bill Barr to insist that open racism, upheld by law and traditionally enforced by deadly violence, is not a large part of our history as a society. Law enforcement and our legal system have been integral to this arrangement, always steadfastly protecting private property, if not always human life.

In law school our Constitutional Law casebook had a footnote to a case called US v. Cruikshank. The footnote was one sentence, to the effect that federal enforcement of all race-motivated violence had been left to the criminal codes of the individual states as a result of Cruikshank. Since every case in our system has a number for citation, and Cruikshank’s is 92 U.S. 542, I was able to read the legalistic Supreme Court decision that decided:

that the Bill of Rights did not apply to private actors or to state governments despite the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment. 

Wikipedia

The case arose from a massive racist pogrom in Grant Parish, Louisiana where a huge army of angry local whites attacked and slaughtered at least 150 blacks who were in Colfax, some of whom (a small group of armed black Civil War veterans) were defending the duly elected government. The whites were not having this, killed the black defenders as they surrendered, went into a frenzy of murderous violence that left dozens of mutilated, burnt bodies — the corpses of men, women and children– all over Colfax on Easter Sunday, 1873.

Ninety-eight perpetrators were identified and eventually charged by the newly created US Attorney in Louisiana (the DOJ was created to enforce citizens’ rights under the Fourteenth Amendment). By the time the case got to the Supreme Court only three or four defendants were still involved — charges against the rest had all evaporated. When the case got to the Supreme Court our unappealable justices ruled — uh, nothing to see here, the indictments were faultily drafted, riddled with fatal flaws — for example, the DOJ’s absurd contention that defendants evinced:

an intent to deprive the same persons of the ‘free exercise and enjoyment of the right and privilege to the full and equal benefit of all laws and proceedings for the security of persons and property’ enjoyed by white citizens.

plus, the new laws were confusing, unenforceable, an intrusion onto the constitutionally protected criminal prosecution monopoly of the individual states, further, it is the right of each of the defeated Confederate States to decide how best to accommodate their own Negros to full citizen status and equal protection of the privileges and immunities newly conferred upon their, until recently, chattel, selves (not to say ‘persons’).

The Supreme Court case ruled strictly on the law, made almost no mention of the underlying racially-motivated massacre of blacks by a racist white “militia” of former Confederate defenders of “the Lost Cause.”

This case became the unappealable legal framework for the hundred years of anti-black terrorism that followed — let the states decide how to deal with their own citizens, black and WHITE alike. Notably, (as in Kavanaugh’s recent ruling banning extension of mail-in voting in Wisconsin that made only a glancing reference to the pandemic) the case stuck to a narrow question of law. There was no mention of the massacre itself, only of two or three murdered individuals, two blacks (one named Tillman, as I recall) and a white, and whether Cruikshank et al’s killing of them constituted an enforceably unconstitutional deprivation of a legitimately protected federal right [2].

I was gratified to see that someone has finally written a full book-length treatment of this atrocity (there was almost complete darkness on the subject when I was in law school, right before the turn of the century), it is referred to in this excellent (and horrific) short opinion piece The Massacre That Emboldened White Supremacists from the New York Times.

The citizens of our nation are famously inattentive to our history. For example, from the above opinion piece:

As Americans debate the merit of tearing down monuments to founding fathers, a monument to the men who massacred Black Americans in Colfax 147 years ago stands unopposed and largely unnoticed. Two blocks off Main Street, a 12-foot marble obelisk is the focal point of the Colfax cemetery. An inscription carved into its base declares it was “erected to the memory of the heroes” who “fell in the Colfax Riot fighting for white supremacy.” On the north side of the present-day courthouse, a historical marker reads, “On this site occurred the Colfax Riot in which three white men and 150 negroes were slain” and added that the episode “marked the end of carpetbag misrule in the South.”

During an ongoing nationwide protest over the continued brutality toward and killing of unarmed blacks by police, unarmed blacks continue to be brutalized and killed by police. Last week, a Wisconsin man named Jacob Blake was shot by police seven times, in the back, for … as far as we know, being an alleged domestic violence perpetrator with a warrant out for his arrest — who may have been in possession of a hidden knife.

A Kenosha police spokesman told the news media that Blake was reaching into his car for a knife, or perhaps even had a knife on his person, when police shot him seven times, in the back. Maybe that accounts for why the man, who amazingly survived seven bullets in the back, had been shackled to his hospital bed until yesterday– you can’t be too careful with a man who might have been reaching for a knife after having an arrest warrant for misdemeanor domestic violence and third degree sexual assault filed against him last month. Never mind that he is currently paralyzed with a spinal injury caused by a police bullet– we can’t be too careful with potentially violent perps like Jacob Blake!

As often in these cases, the sordid-sounding history of the man killed or severely injured by the police is immediately brought into the story. Police usually don’t shoot innocent people, the familiar story goes, this guy was a THUG. He had a KNIFE and CRIMINAL INTENT. He had an arrest warrant against him for A SEX CRIME. Trayvon Martin, the teenager killed by a white vigilante who shot him to death “standing his ground” under Florida law, was reputed to have had marijuana in his system when he died. Michael Brown, the kid shot to death in Ferguson, Mo., was shown, on store surveillance video, stealing a box of cigars or something mere hours before he was killed by a police officer. George Floyd was a convicted FELON! Even though he was meekly cooperating with the police when they killed him, he was BIG and REALLY SCARY!! Breonna Taylor, the Emergency Medical Technician shot to death in her own apartment in the middle of the night by plain-clothes officers who broke down her door pursuant to an erroneous no-knock warrant? Suspected (although mistakenly, as it turned out) site of an illegal drug storehouse!!!

I don’t know how a black person in America bears this kind of regular, obscene outrage, day after day, year after year, century upon century. I am not black, and my head keeps threatening to explode every time I hear the latest fucking variation on the same goddamned story about some guy who might be reaching for a knife who needed to be shot over and over by those duty-bound to serve and protect.

Humor break (c/o a friend earlier today):

A racist, a hypocrite and a liar walk into a bar.

The bartender says: “what are you having, Mr. President?”

Of course, every American knows that joke is bullshit and totally implausible bullshit, at that. The president famously doesn’t take a sip of alcohol, having seen his older brother die of alcoholism (and being too nice, which is what really killed him, according to his little brother). The president is high on life, obviously, and gets his joyfulness the natural way — by being a good person and leading a great life.

Still, there’s that small kernel of truth in the joke since the man is a racist, a hypocrite and a liar many times over. He can’t help it, that’s just the way he is, has always been, nothing he can do about it.

Except to proclaim himself the Law and Order President. The most lawless man ever to sit in the Oval Office, a man openly contemptuous of all rules, traditions and norms, and many laws as well (all of those things are for LOSERS), positions himself as the Law and Order candidate. He’s running against his own failure to end the American Carnage he warned of in his first State of the Union, in every dark, divisive, incendiary speech he’s made since. Presumably, since he’s the infallible strongman who broke it, he’s the only one who can fix it.

ROTFLMAO!

[1] From no less an authority than Chief Justice Roger Taney of the Supreme Court, in the infamous 1857 Dred Scott decision that was one of the factors leading to the Civil War.

[2] The Cruikshank court dismissed the indictments against every remaining white man who rode into town as part of that enraged army and participated in the indiscriminate slaughter, after delineating the charges in its opening section:

This was an indictment for conspiracy under the sixth section of the act of May 30, 1870, known as the Enforcement Act (16 Stat. 140), and consisted of thirty-two counts.

The first count was for banding together, with intent ‘unlawfully and feloniously to injure, oppress, threaten, and intimidate’ two citizens of the United States, ‘of African descent and persons of color,’ ‘with the unlawful and felonious intent thereby’ them ‘to hinder and prevent in their respective free exercise and enjoyment of their lawful right and privilege to peaceably assemble together with each other and with other citizens of the said United States for a peaceable and lawful purpose.’

The second avers an intent to hinder and prevent the exercise by the same persons of the ‘right to keep and bear arms for a lawful purpose.’

The third avers an intent to deprive the same persons ‘of their respective several lives and liberty of person, without due process of law.’

The fourth avers an intent to deprive the same persons of the ‘free exercise and enjoyment of the right and privilege to the full and equal benefit of all laws and proceedings for the security of persons and property’ enjoyed by white citizens.

The fifth avers an intent to hinder and prevent the same persons ‘in the exercise and enjoyment of the rights, privileges, immunities, and protection granted and secured to them respectively as citizens of the said United States, and as citizens of the said State of Louisiana, by reason of and for and on account of the race and color’ of the said persons.

The sixth avers an intent to hinder and prevent the same persons in ‘the free exercise and enjoyment of the several and respective right and privilege to vote at any election to be thereafter by law had and held by the people in and of the said State of Louisiana.

‘The seventh avers an intent ‘to put in great fear of bodily harm, injure, and oppress’ the same persons, ‘because and for the reason’ that, having the right to vote, they had voted.

The eighth avers an intent ‘to prevent and hinder’ the same persons ‘in their several and respective free exercise and enjoyment of every, each, all, and singular and several rights and privileges granted and secured’ to them ‘by the constitution and laws of the United States.’

The next eight counts are a repetition of the first eight, except that, instead of the words ‘band together,’ the words ‘combine, conspire, and confederate together’ are used. Three of the defendants were found guilty under the first sixteen counts, and not guilty under the remaining counts...

I got one word for QAnon

I don’t believe I’m going out on any kind of moral limb denouncing this secret and unknowable, yet shocking, theory (anything can be a “theory”) that only Mr. Trump can save us from a massive deep state conspiracy led by Satanist pedophile cannibals intent on — well, that’s kind of obvious, isn’t it?

So just one word for these viral creeps (and bear in mind the word is coming from a New York City Jew with a toilet bowl mouth) and their irrational cult of paranoid hate, after this short Wikipedia description of the cryptic conspiracy theory:

QAnon is a far-right conspiracy theory alleging that a cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophiles running a global child sex-trafficking ring is plotting against President Trump, who is battling them. No part of the theory is based on fact.

History is always written in blood

History is always written in the blood of the powerless.  Famously written by the “victors,” it casts the suffering and deaths of those who wound up on the short end of things as somehow necessary, a historical necessity for a greater good.   “You can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs,” some winners are prone to saying, by way of expressing minor regret about the inevitable — that some “eggs” had to be “broken” so we could enjoy what we have on the table in front of us now.

We watched the public lynching of an American man recently, under the knee of a cop who kneeled on him for 8 minutes and 46 seconds — the last almost 3:00 of which the dying man was already unconscious.  We know the exact time frame because of an uninterrupted video of the slow-motion murder by suffocation. 

The video, taken by a high school girl who filmed the entire 8:46 without flinching, left no doubt that we were watching a lynching, a brutal murder committed with, at minimum, depraved indifference to human life.   The man who was killed was handcuffed, subdued, lying face down on the ground begging for his life, in the end calling for his mother.   

George Floyd’s public murder woke people up.   With a serial scofflaw as president, condemning those who took to the streets to protest this lynching as “antifa” extremists (being anti-fascist was until recently a mainstream American value), invoking police violence against peaceful protesters as “law and order,” the time was past due for an accounting.    America has never had a reckoning of any kind with our murderous history of enforced inequality at law.   

That’s an uncomfortable thought for the powerful (and even more so for the powerless, I dare say).   You cannot have forgiveness without some kind of process of reconciliation, some remorseful acknowledgement by the perpetrator that it was wrong to — say, tolerate lynching for hundreds of years.     The symbols of American racism are all around us.  The Edmund Pettus Bridge, where the recently departed John Lewis had his head split open by police while peacefully protesting, in fact, kneeling to pray, in 1965, was named for a Confederate officer, US Senator and Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.   Very uncomfortable!!!

Mike Pompeo, to the rescue.  The Koch Brothers’ former personal congressman from Witchita, one of America’s most powerful religious Evangelical Christians, did a little history writing of his own the other day.   With supreme confidence, he made the following remarks at a recent meeting of the Commission on Unalienable Rights.    Note the several sleights of hands Mr. Pompeo employs to make history right.

“These days, even saying that America’s fundamentally good has become controversial… They want you to believe that America’s institutions continue to reflect the country’s acceptance of slavery at our founding.   This is a dark vision of America’s birth.  I reject it.” 

“They want you to believe…”– how ominous!    Pompeo, Trump’s Secretary of State, went on to single out and flay a favorite right-wing whipping girl, the New York Times. 

“The New York Times’s 1619 Project, so named for the year that the first slaves were transported to America, wants you to believe that our country was founded FOR human bondage.   They want you to believe that America’s institutions continue to reflect the country’s acceptance of slavery at our founding.     They want you to believe that Marxist ideology that America is only the oppressors and the oppressed.”

You understand the logic here:  only a Marxist (godless Commie) could see any connection between our centuries of race-based chattel slavery, a bloody Civil War followed by a hundred years of unchecked, violent Ku Klux Klan rule in the former Confederacy, racist laws nationwide well into the twentieth century [1], a punitive criminal justice system singling out people of color for incarceration and destroying countless lives for non-violent “drug crimes”, the murder by police, without legal consequences, of unarmed civilians, mostly people of color.   This is clearly a strictly Communist-only reading of our great history.  Only a godless Marxist could see it in that hateful way, real Americans understand that, says Pompeo.  

“The Chinese Communist Party must be gleeful when they see the NYT spout this ideology.   Some people have taken these false doctrines to heart.  The rioters pulling down statues thus see nothing wrong with desecrating monuments to those who fought for our unalienable rights, from  our founding to the present day.  This is a dark vision of America’s birth.  I reject it.”

Reject away, sir.   Historical facts, documented and recited, equal Communist-approved “ideology,” nicely done legerdemain, Mike.  Great men, including men who took up arms against our nation, heroes like Edmund Pettus and Nathaniel Forrest Bedford, daring Confederate general and founder of the Ku Klux Klan (photo below) must be remembered in monuments to their greatness, whatever lawless, godless, Marxist, America-hating  rioters might feel about it.

nathan-bedford-forrest-gettyimages-515298300.jpg

“It’s a disturbed reading of our history, it is a slander on our great people.  Nothing could be further from the truth of our founding.”

That the first slaves arrived on these shores before the Mayflower brought the families of our founding fathers here, false!   A disturbed reading, a slander.  Nothing could be further from the truth!   

What the hell do you actually mean by these fighting words, Mike?

I’m tempted to simply say “fuck that fucking pig-faced puto,” but that will change no hearts or minds.   Assuming hearts and minds are still involved, once this kind of angry, determined erasure of history is forcefully undertaken by powerful men.

Do you have a duty to forgive someone who has badly hurt you and then tells you to just fucking get over it, asshole?   Kneeling on your neck until you’re dead — your problem, jerkoff, not mine.  Critical “history” — a bunch of deliberate Commie slanders, NOTHING COULD BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH.  Who are you going to believe, the lying New York Times or my unidentified riot-geared federal troopers and their tear gas, truncheons and blanket immunity from prosecution for breaking your head?

Ah, fuck that fucking pig-faced puto.  America is better than his ilk.

 

 

[1]  Bill Moyers: Let me read to you. Here’s a quote from a Maryland statute in 1957 — 1957! — that you include in the book:

All marriages between a white person and a Negro, or between a white person and a person of Negro descent, to the third generation, inclusive, or between a white person and a member of the Malay race or between a Negro and a member of the Malay race, or between a person of Negro descent, to the third generation, inclusive, and a member of the Malay race, or between a person of Negro descent, to the third generation, inclusive, and a member of the Malay race or between a Negro and member of the Malay race, or between a person of Negro descent, to the third generation, inclusive, are forever prohibited and shall be void; and and any person violating the provisions of this section shall be deemed guilty of an infamous crime and be punished by imprisonment in the penitentiary for not less than eighteen months or more than 10 years.

That was Maryland law. 

[not ruled unconstitutional until 1967]

and

Moyers:  Bilbo [powerful racist Senator from Mississippi, Theodore Bilbo] said, “One drop of Negro blood placed in the veins of the purest Caucasian destroys the inventive genius of his mind and palsies his creative faculty.” Is it true that the Nazis thought the one-drop rule too extreme?

Whitman: They did indeed. They never proposed anything nearly as extreme as the one-drop rule.

(source– an excellent, if chilling, rundown of some of America’s racist laws and their influence on racial law in the Third Reich)

Of course, as every real American knows, Bill Moyers, long time PBS talk show host (PBS… yo), who, as a young man, worked for and applauded LBJ for his Civil Rights legislation, is a freedom hating old Marxist who spreads slanders against our great, white, Christian nation.

The Unseen Toll of the Plague

I am starting to notice that people, in general, are getting quite emotionally frayed, which is not surprising, given what we are all up against.  The emotional strain from our fear and anxiety comes out in a variety of ways as we are cooped up and isolated from each other and from most of our habitual pursuits and distractions.   Do not underestimate the effect of having our habits disrupted, particularly having our most beloved distractions taken away from us.

I am expecting the acting out of frayed nerves to hit the public sphere in a big way soon — understandably desperate people doing increasingly crazy things.  As worrisome as death from COVID itself is, these sometimes twitchy attempts to cope with pressures virtually no-one alive has ever had to deal with, these changes to our perceptions of the word around us, are another cause for concern. 

This already scary, disorienting situation is much more upsetting because we have a terrible two year-old and his hand-picked loyal henchmen spouting an endless fountain of counter-factual … whatever it is that comes out of their “mouths”.

We Americans live in a very competitive society, divided into winners and losers.   It is more divided now than at any time since the Gilded Age that followed the great economic devastation in the decades after the Civil War.   Our greatest winners have spent fortunes over decades to convince significant numbers of the losers that the most important thing in life is freedom from the tyranny of a coercive government that wants to seize your liberty.   It is an easy myth to promote, easy for the average citizen to relate to, since interactions with government bureaucracies are almost always frustrating.   I found myself snarling at the screen when I logged on to the IRS website for a couple of simple answers last night.

If you are wealthy you don’t need any help from the government.  You need the government to leave you and your wealth alone.   If you are threatened by a flood, a fire, an earthquake, an angry mob, lose your home, get cancer — and you are not wealthy — you will reasonably want help from the government you pay taxes to. 

We have had a social safety net in our wealthy nation for almost a century.   Before we had the New Deal social programs there was no tax-supported retirement system (Social Security), no limits on child labor, no limits on the hours employers could demand of workers, no minimum wage, no protections against sudden impoverishment (Welfare) and so on.  

You can argue that having such things, and a much better public health system, are net goods for society.   People are less afraid, less insecure, feel more supported and connected when they operate in a system that has some kind of safety net to catch the many who sometimes fall.   These social protections would seem a good thing for the wealthy as well:  people who are not desperate are much less likely to take to the streets in violent mobs.

Of course, this is all communistic poppycock to most inheritors of vast fortunes, to the outliers who acquire billions by their own initiative.  To them the only value is liberty, freedom from coercion.  We are fine, just leave us alone.  Just do what we do– dream big, work hard and be successful. 

Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared are good examples of this winner work ethic.  They work hard, are super-confident, and aggressive in pursuing their dreams.  It doesn’t hurt that both started with millions of dollars from their parents, and up-and-running business empires to run, but don’t discount their genius!   Do not dare discount their genius.

Knowing that great people like Ivanka and Jared are working hard to make sure we’re all safe should be a comfort, if you are an idiot — or insane.

Just sayin’.

 

Welcome to the Fourth Reich

Looking back in history, with that keen vision hindsight sometimes provides,  it’s often easy to find the moment when the deal was sealed, the signal event that made what happened next appear inevitable.   In Nazi Germany, I’d say that moment was eighteen months in, when Hitler sent out goon squads to kill his enemies all over Germany on the last night of June 1934.   One of the dead, in that Night of the Long Knives, was General Kurt von Schleicher, Hitler’s predecessor as chancellor, the German equivalent of a more right-wing Colin Powell.   The initial claim in State media was that the “traitor” was shot dead in a gun battle while resisting arrest for his crimes.  Within a very short time they dropped the lie, the Fuhrer was nonchalantly telling Germany about the night “when I had Schleicher shot.”   Of course, the whole point of that coordinated, murderous purge was to demonstrate that even a popular right-wing celebrity politician wasn’t safe from summary execution if Hitler perceived disloyalty or threat.  

So it is with this lawless, insecure, bullying reality-TV con-man president we have up at the podium now.   He also uses fear of angry reprisal, demonstrated in consistent threats and public acts of vilification and revenge, to rule by fear.  Riding the ample ass of his deeply religious, fanatical Attorney General who believes, and always has, that the ends justify the means, he would appear infallible.   The ends, for Bagpiper Bill Barr, are a moral nation-state as Jesus would have wanted it (as Barr fervidly imagines his messiah would want it, anyway).   Barr wields the law as a righteous sword, the way the original Jesuits, Defenders of the Faith and lawyers for the Spanish Inquisition, did. 

You fervently want justice, God’s justice on earth.  To get Divine justice, to be righteous instruments of His will, you must put heretics to the flames, to the sword, the strappado, the water-board, the rack.   It’s just what the Prince of Peace would wish for us sinners here on this troubled earth, to bring Jesus’s mercy to mankind by any means necessary.  So, as a lawyer for God’s representatives on earth, you reason backwards from the result you want, and craft your legal rationale to make the practice legal, permissible, and even highly moral, no matter how perverse or obscene what you are advocating might otherwise seem. 

Barr has always been supremely creative this way, an innovator, really.   He crafted the first-ever preemptive presidential pardon on the eve of a felony trial (Caspar Weinberger’s) that would have spilled the toxic beans on lame-duck president HW Bush and destroyed his legacy.  He substituted his overbearing and demonstrably false interpretation for the damning facts of a careful report that explicitly did not exonerate his boss of a seamless (and ongoing) pattern of Obstruction of Justice, smearing a highly respected Eagle Scout colleague, and political fellow-traveler, in the process.  Since exonerating his guilty boss he has empaneled a zealous criminal investigation into the “HOAX” investigation of what both parties have concluded in official reports was massive Russian interference in the 2016 election, with the active connivance of Trump’s campaign, and on and on. Thus:

Screenshot_20200508-041340_NYTimes.jpg

Granted, I should not have clicked on the NY Times at 4:13 a.m. — one of the dangers of having a phone next to your bed.    Hell of an hour to get the bracing news that I was now living in the Fourth Reich.   I read the Grey Lady’s analysis the next day, measured, well-written, a range of experts expressing dismay, alarm, a hint of outrage.   You can read it here, nicely done, I suppose, as far as it goes.

You will not get what you need from the New York Times, of course.  It’s not their job to get you into the streets, mobilized against the subjugation of our legal system to advance the corruptions of the most evil among us.   That is the job of the millions of professional and freelance canaries in the coal mine [1] — to raise the alarm.  

The Department of Justice was created under the Fourteenth Amendment, enacted after the Civil War.   The Fourteenth Amendment was the needed improvement to the Constitution that now guaranteed the rights, privileges and immunities of citizenship to the recently freed slaves, to ensure that outfits like the Ku Klux Klan could not continue to impose their enraged will through brutality and terror, that former slaves and their defenders would be protected from mob violence.  In the antebellum days when you could own other human beings as chattels, you didn’t need a Department of Justice to enforce the rights of these human mules, cows, goats — such persons had no rights under our laws.  

The Department of Justice has been at the center of every important advance in social justice, certainly in terms of enforcing federal laws against in-your-face racism and other hate crimes.  It has also been a bulwark against government corruption and a protecter of those who risk exposing government corruption.   It is no longer in those businesses anymore.

The Department of Justice is currently in the hands of a zealous, angry man who believes that Abuse of Power, when the righteous wield it, or when it is expedient to righteous goals, anyway, is neither a crime nor a vice.  The ability to vastly expand his existing powers, even abuse them (if you want to quibble) is a gift he no doubt believes he has received directly from Christ Himself, that His will may be done here upon the earth as it is done in heaven.  

Heaven help us all here in the Fourth Reich.   The Third one did not go well for millions and millions of people.   If these power-worshipping fanatics wind up in power again after November 2020, and they certainly have a puncher’s chance to be there, no matter how much more they fuck up (a far from stellar first term didn’t hurt Bush and Cheney in 2004) when you and I get to the camp, after that long, crowded train ride, remind me to ask you again if you still believe I’m being hyperbolic in my concerns about these Nazi-emulating motherfuckers.

 

 

[1] Kurt Vonnegut compared creative types to the canaries British coal miners used to carry into the mines to detect odorless poison gases like carbon monoxide.    When the tiny-lunged bird keeled over in his cage the miners knew it was time to get out of there.   (This practice was apparently stopped in 1986 when electronic sniffers replaced the wee birds).  Vonnegut meant by this comparison that those who fret and worry about communicating to others are often more prone than the rest to succumbing to the invisible deadly gases that are looming to kill everyone.

Death By Corporate Bureaucracy

A cautionary tale about conservative, industry-drafted half-measures to protect all citizens from death due to lack of health care, a human right, particularly in a country as wealthy as ours. [1]  

I had a call from my nephrologist’s office yesterday.   Due to the pandemic, the doctor is doing telephone visits only.   Would I like to keep my appointment for next week?   If so, I’d need to take a blood test two or three days before.   We made the arrangements, since it is a good idea to keep an eye on a potentially fatal kidney disease that seems to be in remission. 

An hour later I got a call from the Insurance Verification Unit of the hospital the doctor works for.   The woman informed me that I came up as uninsured.   As we spoke she ran my Healthfirst ID number again — insurance inactive.   That’s not possible, I told her, I had a hassle with the insurance company in January, but that’s all been straightened out, no gap in coverage, premiums paid through June.   She told me to check with them and call her back with the update, or else I’d have to pay the full uninsured price for blood tests and the telephone visit with the doctor (non-negotiable retail prices nobody can tell you in advance, of course).

I called Healthfirst.   After a rocky first start where I antagonized an agent named Cat by brusquely instructing her to call my doctor’s office and tell them my insurance was in effect, resulting in being placed on hold for fifteen minutes, I called back.   The second rep, a pleasant woman named Annie, responded immediately, in her heavily accented English, to my gentler query.   “No,” she told me within a few seconds, “your insurance was cancelled on March 31.   We didn’t do it.   It was the New York State of Health, you have to re-enroll with them.”

Annie informed me that a month earlier, on March 11, 2020, days before the pandemic epicenter where I live went into lock-down due to the public health emergency, The New York State of Health, sole purveyors of Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act insurance in New York State, sent Healthfirst a notice that my insurance would be cancelled effective March 31, 2020.   No reason was given.  I was paid in full and she could see I’d re-enrolled for 2020 prior to the original December 15 deadline, having done so on December 6.   Annie told me I needed to call New York State of Health and immediately try to re-enroll.

“Why didn’t Healthfirst notify me three weeks before my insurance was cancelled that I’d better get busy if I wanted to remain insured in April, during a pandemic?”

“It was not Healthfirst, it was the New York State of Health, you have to call them, we cannot call them for you,” said Annie, helpfully.   She explained that it was a law, she didn’t know which one, or maybe a policy, that prevented Healthfirst from being able to help me keep the insurance I’d paid them to provide me.  She just knew that, unfortunately, Healthfirst couldn’t do anything to assist me, it was up to me to work it out with The New York State of Health.

I called the New York State of Health Marketplace, the most opaque, overwhelmed and incompetent bureaucracy I have ever encountered (and I spent years dealing with Adult Protective Services and NYCHA two infamous paragons of overwhelmed inefficiency) .   This is what I heard:

Thank you for calling the New York State of Health, for English press “1”

New York State of Health is experiencing high call volume.  Because of the public health emergency we are extending the due date for people who are expected to renew before April 15.   You will receive another notice of the new due date before any changes will be made to your coverage.   You do not need to take any action at this time.  

Also, because of a new federal law, no person who currently has Medicaid coverage will lose their coverage during this emergency.  If you are enrolled in Medicaid and get a notice from New York State of Health telling you that your coverage will end after March 18, 2020, you can disregard this notice.  You will have no gap in coverage.  If you have Medicaid you do not need to report any changes to your account except a permanent address change.

If you need assistance applying for coverage or have a question about your individual marketplace account, press “1”

If you are an in person assister, which includes navigators, brokers, certified application counselors and health plan facilitated enrollers, press “2”.

All other callers, or callers that have pressed one, please continue to go fuck yourself.  After only a few hours on the phone today you will have the opportunity to have a quasi-judicial arbitration of the decision against you that will be decided (probably in your favor) within three or four months [2], possibly more because of the unprecedented public health crisis that is quickly killing thousands .  Please continue to hold.

The next few hours were spent making a lengthy telephone log for Healthfirst, including my recorded, at times learned, lectures on the routine mistreatment of low-income healthcare customers, the incentives for corporations to cull the rolls of people like me, 63, low-income, “takers” who force the insurance company to spend way more than they take in from my premiums.  I described the abolition of the Department of Insurance and the Commissioner of Insurance position back in 2011, when NYS was an early adopter of Obamacare.  I compared the decision to merge oversight of health insurance with regulation of all financial services in New York State to the Supreme Court’s cynical conclusion that since we had a half-black president we were now “post-racial” and since racism is dead there is no need for federal enforcement of the Voting Rights Act Martin Luther King had fought for.   I brought in Justice Tawney’s “no rights that a white person is bound to respect” in the context of the rights of low-income patients protected under secret laws that nobody is entitled to see.  

I described the troll bureaucrat at the NYS Department of Financial Services, the man assigned to locate and send me the citation to the law that had overturned Healthfirst’s illegal termination of my insurance.   He wrote to tell me I had my insurance back so what is my problem?  Why do I even need to know the law Healthfirst had allegedly violated when allegedly illegally terminating my insurance?   He’d research the law I’d asked about when he got the time, but I needed to be patient, it had only been two months– AND WE’RE IN THE MIDDLE OF A PANDEMIC.  No response to my letters to Healthfirst CEO Pat Wang or the office of the NYS Attorney General.

Eventually a sympathetic Healthfirst supervisor named Monique, who I spoke to for perhaps an hour, put me through to “Legal”.   This department, presumably, would at least be able to tell me the law they had reconsidered in reversing the “mistaken” termination of my insurance in January.   By the time Monique patched my call through, of course, their office was closed.  I heard a message about making a request for your records, with an email address I very much wanted to have, but I was too slow to jot it down.   I was told to leave a message and they would call me back.  I have been told numerous lies by Healthfirst in recent weeks, so I am a bit skeptical about this promise being kept, but I left what I hope was a relatively calm-sounding message.  

“They will definitely call you back,” said the optimistic rep I called next, to ask for the direct line to the law department.  Of course, he didn’t have it, or the email contact for them, but he assured me that if you leave them a message they “have to call you back.”   I smiled a bitter smile he could probably hear over the phone, took a breath and told him my recent history with untrue promises from Healthfirst.  I didn’t bother to quote the Arbeit Macht Frei [3] lines from the end of the absurdist word salad I’d received last month from Healthfirst:

Healthfirst takes grievances seriously and wants to assure you that all issues are thoroughly investigated.  Healthfirst sincerely apologizes for the miscommunication and any inconveniences it may have caused you. Our mission is to provide Healthfirst members with high-quality health care. Your satisfaction and well-being is our number one priority.

My best guess as to why an agency all NYS consumers who buy Obamacare health insurance are forced to deal with only once a year at renewal time for everybody, in the hectic days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, would intervene in March to summarily cancel a valid insurance contract between a consumer and a private corporation (making a sham of our vaunted “free market” where business contracts are sacred) is the standard functioning of bureaucracy.

Perhaps when Healthfirst told me they’d cancelled my insurance back in January, before apologizing a few days later for their “mistake”, somebody at Healthfirst — during the two or three business days this mistaken cancellation was in effect — conveyed this erroneous cancellation, as mandated by law,  to The New York State of Health.   True to form, this crack outfit got right on it, irrevocably and without explanation (or notice to the insured) canceling my insurance two months later.

A paranoid thought enters my head in the absence of a rational, or even irrational, explanation:  I’m being retaliated against.   Who is retaliating?  

Perhaps the director of the overwhelmed New York State of Health, a politically adroit woman named Donna Frescatore, a political appointee who has been running the New York State of Health Marketplace since its inception, a public servant to whom I have been unkind, here and in numerous emails, when critiquing her opaque, cumbersome, asshole mechanisms for administering healthcare justice, or correcting the many mistakes made by her overworked, undertrained staff.  

When I asked for her name years ago I was told that it was NYSOH policy not to allow reps to divulge her name or contact information, they’d all been read the order.  Admittedly, they admitted, NYSOH is not a private corporation where such secrecy is routinely guarded, it’s a state agency, a public agency, but still, they had their orders.  At the time public servant Ms. Frescatore, now also in charge of Medicaid in NYS, was difficult to locate.  Not anymore.   Here she is, first google hit:

NY State of Health continues to meet the strong demand for comprehensive, affordable health insurance coverage,” said NY State of Health Executive Director, Donna Frescatore.   Feb 20, 2020

It probably didn’t help matters that I included a few snide, angry, intemperate couplets like this one, toward the close of  my second letter to the CEO of Healthfirst:

A corporate “person” is an appetitive psychopath, without conscience or remorse, driven to devour and only constrained by the rare regulation in place to restrain the gnawing impulse to maximize profits, a corporation’s only legal imperative.  

Of course, this kind of viciously overwrought snideness, defensible or not,  is understandably infuriating and never yields a good result.   Who am I to express such unrestrained anger to the head of a corporation that has already had someone call to apologize verbally for accidentally fucking me?  Who am I to demand to know the law under which my arbitrary denial of health insurance was overturned?   

Who knows who eventually read these words, addressed in an electronic supplement to the Department of Financial Services complaint that forced Healthfirst to overturn it’s final determination that I’d have no health care in 2020 (unless I paid full sticker price for it)?

I am wondering why:

1) there is no notice requirement before a health insurance company can terminate health insurance.  (I had absolutely no notice of the “ten day grace period” they suddenly waived after my DFS complaint)

2) NYSOH Marketplace, sole provider of ACA health plans in NYS, does not inform consumers of the practice of insurance companies abruptly (and “mistakenly”) terminating insurance for failure to pay during a “grace period” nobody is informed of

3) there is no provision in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or NYS law, that requiress notice of termination policies and fair access to the new NYSDFS complaint process that can force compliance with the law.

Is there someone I can talk to at DFS for more information about these questions?

I was eventually referred to the aforementioned troll.  A few days later I got a letter from the NYSDFS instructing me that since my insurance is a form of pay-as-you-go Medicaid (my income being 167% over the official poverty line) I may not use their handy on-line complaint form, the one that restored my insurance within two business days.  

Because of the low-cost insurance I have, a kind of pay-as-you-go Medicaid created by the ACA, I must wait on line with the rest of the poor people at another state agency, where the newly promoted Donna Frescatore is also deputy director of Medicaid in NY State.   This agency, the New York State Health Department, has no on-line form, or on-line help, or anything else (it’s designed for the poor, after all), but, stay positive and have a nice day, Dude!    

Remember, stress is very bad for your immune system, particularly during a plague!   Please continue to hold, just pretend your life doesn’t depend on it!  

LOL.

 

 

[1]  When the law protecting  low-income patients is designed by the conservative Heritage Foundation, whose mission is to protect the profits of private enterprise, you get more deaths during a health emergency than would generally be considered acceptable in a civilized nation.   The business of America, after all, is business.

[2]  One year I was denied health insurance for three months while I waited for a determination from a NY State of Health arbitrator that the NY State of Health had mistakenly denied me coverage.   Another year it was about six months before the premium subsidy I was entitled to was applied, retroactively, to my account, which I’d been paying full price for pending the decision in my favor.  

[3]   The German words meaning “Work Liberates” were worked in wrought iron on top of the gates to the infamous Nazi death camp where slave laborers for German industry (including Bayer) were worked to death.