What is a lie?

This is now a legitimate, and urgent, question. It is related to “what is a crime?” The answer to both questions is, in a phrase a popular law professor taught all his students to say first “it depends”. The answer to both questions in the USA, after years of heartily advertised lies — smoking is perfectly safe, burning fossil fuels is perfectly good for the environment, Oxycodone has a magically low risk of addiction, being in a rage all the time is good for your health, never apologizing is a sign of strength — is that as a society we’ve come to accept many knowing lies as possibly true. After all, why would Exxon or Dick Cheney, or the philanthropic Sackler family, or autocratic multi-billionaire Charles Koch lie?

Boof Kavanaugh’s presumably adoring mother provided her hyper-ambitious only child a good framework for evaluating the truth or falsity of claims that come before a judge: “Use common sense, what smells OK, what smells funny, who stands to gain by the claim?” (Martha Kavanaugh is quoted as saying ““Use your common sense. What rings true. What rings false.” which is a slightly weaker vanilla formulation of what I recall Boof saying, I’ll give the former Montgomery County civil court judge the benefit of the doubt here) It’s a pretty good guide for spotting truth or lies, especially if you include “who stands to gain by the claim”. That seems to me the key consideration when listening to a statement that rings a little iffy.

If you go through a large sum of money, quickly and without any apparent cause, someone might conclude you have a gambling problem. It’s not an unreasonable theory to account for blowing through a pile of cash in an otherwise unexplainable manner. If you are pressed by a family member on the loss of the money, and that family member assumes you have a gambling problem, you will need to say something convincing. You press forward tentatively at first, explaining that you had many unforeseen expenses, such as blah, blah and blah, and had borrowed money you had to repay, which necessitated borrowing more money, which meant you spent more of your own money than you’d planned… if the family member seems amenable to these absurdist explanations you clinch the thing by looking her in the eyes and saying “I do not have a gambling problem.” To disprove the lie, you’d have to find the guy’s bookie, or betting slips, or credit card charges at a gambling parlor. Otherwise, who are you going to believe your wild hunch or my sincere explanation about why your wild hunch is completely wild?

We are now living in the Age of Justifiable Lying, you might say. Lying is seen by millions of our fellow Americans as a purely transactional act, part of the price of doing business, if you like. For the first time in American history a losing candidate (of one party) now routinely doesn’t accept the results, charging voter fraud as the cause of their defeat. Glenn Youngkin won a close governors race in Virginia by about 70,000 votes. His Democratic opponent, seeing the margin was insurmountable, conceded Youngkin’s victory. The same margin decided the race in New Jersey, but the Republican refused to concede for days, making noises about likely fraud, until he blinked and finally conceded defeat.

This refusal to bow to so-called reality, of course, comes directly from the man currently in charge of the Grand Old Party. Trumplethinskin [1] announced in the lead up to his reelection loss to Biden that the only way Biden could beat him would be by cheating. The subtext was that urban voters, in areas where coloreds and whites interact daily on a level perhaps not seen in rural areas, where the real American Volk live, are inherently corrupt, hate America and the good old days, are too “woke” to see how wrong they are about everything. So if you give “urban” votes the same weight as rural votes you will never have true democracy in this country and the place will go openly Communist and white people will be put on trial for things like innocently killing Black people because they have a reasonable and legitimate fear of them.

People like me keep pointing at the evidence that there has never been widespread voter fraud in this country. Partisans like the creepy Hans von Spakovsky have made a career of hunting down voter fraud, fancying themselves warriors for justice, modern day Simon Weisenthals. Spakovsky has found virtually no fraud, ever, and you can see his paltry findings in the database of voter fraud he has been compiling, going back decades. You can point at all the evidence you like, but if the lie has more appeal to you, confirms your worldview, then the so-called lack of evidence is just more evidence of fraud.

When evaluating a claim and deciding whether it is true, it often feels better, and is much easier, to go by your gut than by sifting through conflicting evidence and weighing both sides like some kind of scientist. This gut feeling of truth is the essence of the “confirmation bias” we tend to believe anything that confirms what we already believe. It does not negate the importance of facts and reasoned argument based on fact, of course, but at the same time it often clearly does. Try parsing that one.

Here is the recent statement of facts Judge Tanya Chutkan wrote to put her decision about the former president’s right to hide anything that could irreparably harm him (say by subjecting him to criminal liability for planning and inciting a violent attack to stop the certification of votes and overturn the election).

While not material to the outcome, some factual background on the events leading up to and including January 6, 2021, offers context for the legal dispute here. In the months preceding the 2020 presidential election, Plaintiff declared that the only way he could lose would be if the election were “rigged.” See, e.g., Donald J. Trump, Speech at Republican National Convention Nomination Vote at 22:08 (Aug. 24, 2020) in C-SPAN, https://www.c-span.org/video/?475000- 103/president-trump-speaks-2020-republican-national-convention-vote.

In the months after losing the election, he repeatedly claimed that the election was rigged, stolen, and fraudulent. For example, in a December 2 speech, he alleged “tremendous voter fraud and irregularities” resulting from a late-night “massive dump” of votes. See President Donald J. Trump, Statement on 2020 Election Results at 0:39, 7:26 (Dec. 2, 2020) in C-SPAN, https://www.cspan.org/video/?506975-1/president-trump-statement-2020-election-results. He also claimed that certain votes were “counted in foreign countries,” that “millions of votes were cast illegally in the swing states alone,” and that it was “statistically impossible” he lost. Id. at 12:00, 14:22, 19:00.

After losing the election, Plaintiff and his supporters filed a plethora of unsuccessful lawsuits seeking to overturn the results. See, e.g., Current Litigation, AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION: STANDING COMMITTEE ON ELECTION LAW, Apr. 30, 2021, https://www.americanbar.org/groups/public_interest/election_law/litigation/.

The United States Supreme Court also denied numerous emergency applications aimed at overturning the results. Id. In response, Plaintiff tweeted that the Court was “totally incompetent and weak on the massive Election Fraud that took place in the 2020 Presidential Election.” Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump), TWITTER (Dec. 26, 2020, 1:51 PM), https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu /documents/tweets-december-26-2020.

He continued his claim that “We won the Presidential Election, by a lot,” and implored Republicans to “FIGHT FOR IT. Don’t let them take it away.” Id. (Dec. 18, 2020, 2:14 PM), https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/documents/tweets-december-18- 2020. A Joint Session of Congress was scheduled to convene on January 6, 2021, to count the electoral votes of the 2020 presidential election and to officially announce the elected President, as required by the Twelfth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the Electoral Count Act.

In the days leading up to January 6, Plaintiff began promoting a protest rally to take place hours before the Joint Session convened. On December 19, 2020, he tweeted “Statistically impossible to have lost the 2020 Election. Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!” Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump), TWITTER (December 19, 2020, 6:42am), https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/documents/tweets-december-19-2020.

During a rally, he warned that “Democrats are trying to steal the White House . . . you can’t let that happen. You can’t let it happen,” and promised that “[w]e’re going to fight like hell, I’ll tell you right now.” See Donald J. Trump, Remarks at Georgia U.S. Senate Campaign Event at 8:40, 14:19 (Jan. 4, 2021) in Campaign 2020, C-SPAN, https://www.c-span.org/video/?507634-1/president-trumpcampaigns-republican-senate-candidates-georgia.

On January 6, Plaintiff spoke at the rally at the Ellipse, during which he repeated claims, rejected by numerous courts, that the election was “rigged” and “stolen”; urged then Vice President Pence, who was preparing to convene Congress to tally the electoral votes, “to do the right thing” by rejecting certain states’ electors and declining to certify the election for President Joseph R. Biden; and told protesters to “walk down to the Capitol” to “give them the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country,” “we fight. We fight like hell. And if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore,” and “you’ll never take back our country with weakness.” See Donald J. Trump, Rally on Electoral College Vote Certification at 3:33:04, 3:33:36, 3:37:20, 3:47:02, 3:47:22, 4:42:26, 4:41:27 (Jan. 6, 2021) in Campaign 2020, C-SPAN, https://www.c-span.org/video/?507744-1/rally-electoral-collegevote-certification.

Shortly thereafter, the crowds surged from the rally, marched along Constitution Avenue, and commenced their siege of the Capitol. 

source


The only way to refute this well-documented statement of fact is to angrily denounce this federal judge as a partisan fucking liar, an obvious BLM terrorist-sympathizer and Trump hater who was not even born in this country! That argument will fly with about 39% of the population, those who believe it’s “common sense” to administer Texas justice to a traitor like fucking Mike Pence.

Here’s Martha Kavanaugh, watching them attempt to crucify her innocent and totally nonpartisan son:

[1] tip of the yarmulke to Stephanie Miller

The Obligation to Lie

The obligation to not contest a lie, or more usually a series of lies, is a tough proposition for somebody who prefers a frank back and forth to dishonesty or silence. Speak honestly, listen openly, let the conversation go where it goes, sometimes learn something important; that has always been my attitude. Given the choice between believing something that can be confirmed by fact and life experience and another thing that can only be confirmed by lying, I’ll always choose the first.

Sometimes in this life you will be obliged, in order to keep the peace, or to keep a troubled relationship alive, to agree that certain touchy subjects, including lying, will never be discussed in any detail. An agreement to disagree (sad phrase) about what is real and what is an invention is a resolve to leave things unresolved and not touch anything that may help solve a problem and strengthen a relationship. It is a mutual dishonesty pact.

Families are famous for entering into these kinds of understandings, often to protect someone from shame. Factions arise, those who defend a liar’s right not to be shamed and those who feel everyone would be better served by honesty, a thing once called “the best policy”. There are both practical and moral stances taken by each faction.

For the defenders of the liar’s right to be protected from the shame that caused the lie, the idea is that concealing the shame behind a lie protects everyone. The moral stance is that it is always wrong, no matter what, to expose someone to possible shame.

The other faction believes that shame can never be overcome by allowing an endless lie to prevail, in the name of covering the shame. Also, crucially, a lie serves nobody’s interest but the liar’s. The moral position is that it’s wrong to oblige someone else to lie, requiring a choice between dishonesty and silence, even to cover someone else’s shame.

Yes, it’s wrong to shame someone, even if they lie compulsively. Shaming someone for lying to conceal their shame only compounds the problem. Yes, it’s wrong to allow a series of lies to obliterate the truth. I’m not even thinking of our politics in the morally divided USA at the moment, but the constant doubling, tripling and quadrupling down on proven falsehoods offers a good snapshot of the problem with repeated lies that become the truth.

Your family member’s husband has abused his first wife, and cheated on her, prior to their ugly divorce. Shameful. Unspeakable. The simplest answer for his adult kids of the second marriage: he was not even married before, you fucking liar!

A lie can always be concocted to cover shame, even if it is a ridiculous lie, even if its revelation as a lie is inevitable. I pretend to go to work every day and every Friday I bring my paycheck, in cash, back to the wife. Who would imagine my wife would find the bill for my dead father’s credit cards I maxed out to bring her my fake paychecks every week when I was too depressed and desperate to work for a year? I rented a PO Box so those bills would never come to the house, I had no intention of ever paying them, why did I leave one in my pants pocket for the wife to find when she did the laundry? Pure bad fucking luck in a life that never gave me a fucking chance. Nothing that a strong agreement never to mention it again won’t fix.

We have the most prolific and litigious liar in American history, our recently defeated president, with his eternal 39% who love him unconditionally, find him a charismatic, daring, no bullshit teller of truth the rest of the politicians are too cowardly and hypocritical to say out loud. You will never change their firm belief that he constantly lies to defend a much higher truth than the one eggheads feebly claim exists. That truth is (insert truth here) and if you don’t like it why don’t we let the guns in the street decide who is right and who is fucking dead?

If you don’t want to argue with a liar, or contest the compulsive liar’s right to lie whenever he feels cornered, you can agree not to talk about the lies. That agreement will only get you so far, though — and it usually comes with a cost. It is not the kind of satisfying agreement one comes to with somebody after an honest exchange of views, after you actually understand more about the other person’s perspective. It is, at best, a kind of 39% agreement, like the “historically unpopular” Joe Biden’s media-touted rapidly slipping poll numbers, which are now about the same as Trump’s average approval numbers across four years of his glorious reign.

Fair and balanced bipartisanship

Trumpists must not allow anyone in their Congressional cohort to break ranks to vote for ANY bipartisan bill that could politically help the illegitimate, lying, wildly unpopular anti-bipartisan Joe Biden. Purge and punish, it’s the Trump way.

Here is an expert on those things, with an unapologetically opinionated entertainment editorial.

Here’s a version of the same story by the Enemy of the People, the New York Times:

WASHINGTON — One caller instructed Representative Adam Kinzinger of Illinois to slit his wrists and “rot in hell.” Another hoped Representative Don Bacon of Nebraska would slip and fall down a staircase. The office of Representative Nicole Malliotakis of New York has been inundated with angry messages tagging her as a “traitor.”

Investing in the nation’s roads and bridges was once considered one of the last realms of bipartisanship in Congress, and President Biden’s infrastructure bill drew ample support over the summer from Republicans in the Senate. But in the days since 13 House Republicans broke with their party leaders and voted for the $1 trillion legislation last week, they have been flooded by menacing messages from voters — and even some of their own colleagues — who regard their votes as a betrayal.

The vicious reaction to the passage of the bill, which was negotiated by a group of Republicans and Democrats determined to deliver on a bipartisan priority, reflects how deeply polarization has seeped into the political discourse within the Republican Party, making even the most uncontroversial legislation a potentially toxic vote.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/10/us/politics/republicans-backlash-infrastructure-bill.html

When is preventing the administration of justice by every possible means officially Obstruction of Justice?

My friend, after taking my recommendation and reading Jason Stanley’s great short book about the rise of fascism, which follows an identical path everywhere it takes hold, called the book a bit hyperbolic. Two years later, after an angry mob of violent “patriots” overran the Capitol, at the urging of their leader, he laughed when I described a cartoon of us I’d like the discipline and talent to draw. He and I are emaciated, dirty, dressed in striped pajamas, skeletal hands on the barbed wire fence in front of us, staring ahead with dead eyes. The caption: “still think Stanley’s book was hyperbolic?”

Our democracy is like the famous frog, comfortable in the warm, then hot water, until he begins to boil and learns it’s impossible to leap with boiled legs. When something awful happens by degrees it can slip by unnoticed until it’s too late to do anything about it.

Biden’s earnest Attorney General Merrick Garland will not convene a grand jury to investigate the now well-documented plot to overturn an American presidential election. Even though there is a federal statute directly on point.

Garland doesn’t want, God forbid, to look political so he takes no action, even knowing there was a coordinated, multi-pronged plan, involving the former president, members of Congress, several lawyers, a grimly effective fascistic political strategist/podcast host, at least one former military officer, several talking heads of extreme right-wing media, plus the wealthy donors who paid, in dark money, to finance what we now nonchalantly refer to as The Big Lie and the MAGA riot.

Even knowing there was a January 6th election overturn command center, paid for by Trump’s campaign, at a hotel a block from the White House, where several conspirators huddled before and during the violent assault and breach of the Capitol to prevent certification of the 2020 election, Garland’s principled passivity is as supine as the famously supine passivity of the idealistic democratic leaders of the Weimar Republic, during the final days before the Thousand Year Reich.

So scrupulous is Garland about appearing nonpartisan that he won’t even indict Steve Bannon for openly telling Congress, the Department of Justice and the rest of the administrative state he despises to go fuck themselves, stick their subpoena where the sun don’t shine. Nineteen days after the House made the contempt referral to DOJ (Glenn Kirschner’s counting it down), Garland continues to agonize over how to apply the facts (legal subpoena, Bannon “fuck you”) to the law (willful defiance of legal subpoena without legal grounds = contempt).

The recent subpoena for pardoned asshole, admitted perjurer, QAnon promoter and former general Mike “Lock Her Up!” Flynn brings us full circle on Trump’s endless merry go round of obstruction of justice.

When, weeks into the Trump administration, Flynn lied about illegal contacts with Russians, and forgot to disclose, while getting top security clearance, that he was on the payroll of Turkey and likely other foreign governments, Trump was forced to fire him. Then the big guy cornered the FBI director, problematic anti-hero James Comey, and one on one, over dinner, asked him to drop the Flynn thing, Flynn being a good guy and a valued member of Trump’s team. Comey refused, was fired. Flynn was prosecuted, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. This was all normal DC politics and the law, playing out pretty much as it always had.

Then as Flynn watched other Trump operatives play coy in legal proceedings, counting on the quid pro quo pardons that Trump continued to dangle for self-proclaimed political ratfuckers like Manafort and Stone, encouraging them to obstruct their own trials, intimidate witnesses, change their stories, playfully threaten a federal judge or two, he realized how stupid he’d been to plead guilty, just because they had the proof of his lies and it would have been worse for him to go through a full trial.

Flynn hired the insane, well-connected right wing attorney Sidney Powell who argued that Flynn had been tricked into his guilty plea by the cunning canards of a cabal of cannibal pedophile cucks. The Department of Justice worked closely with Flynn’s new attorney, a true right wing Kraken superstar (at that time), and they hastened to dismiss all charges against Flynn, claiming now that Trump’s FBI had been compromised by treacherous partisan Democrats who hated Trump and that Flynn had been suckered into lying and then lying about lying.

Trump’s gunsel, Bill Barr, took the extraordinary step of arguing against his own Department of Justice, who had successfully prosecuted Flynn. He did this behind the scenes, as well as publicly.

At the same time, he loudly appointed a Special Counsel to start an investigation into the Mueller “witch hunt” with an eye toward a propaganda coup, that could be announced with great fanfare right before the 2020 election, like Comey’s 2016 game changer about Hillary Clinton. It turned out Durham had turned up an irregularity in a FISA warrant for Trump associate Carter Page, the apparent lie being the omission of the pertinent fact that Page had been a CIA asset or something of that nature. Barr ran with this — if the Page warrant was obtained based on a lie, the whole Mueller investigation was based on pure hatred of Christian Dominionists by Satan worshipping secular cuck anarchist antifa liberals.

Trump successfully obstructed justice during the Mueller investigation, in at least ten separate counts that Mueller could not exonerate him for. He successfully obstructed justice again by having Barr bury the whistleblower complaint about Trump’s shakedown, two day’s after Mueller’s shambling testimony left no doubt that the Mueller investigation had failed to nail him, of the new Ukrainian president for dirt on Joe Biden. Trump was “acquitted” in two separate witness-free impeachment trials, run by his own party, working closely and openly with Trump’s demented defense team.

After lying for months, now a year, about his election loss and conspiring with a cast of pathetic but energetic characters, he fomented a riot to Stop the Steal. He also had a plan to subvert the constitutional order, sought to replace an acting AG intent on following the law, tried to strong arm his loyal vice president to go along with a mad plan to keep control of the government, and when he refused, incited a mob to string the fucking cowardly traitor up.

If you were writing a novel about a corrupt leader obstructing justice, you might be afraid to put this much detail into it, for fear of straining the readers’ willingness to suspend disbelief.

If I were an Australian, with a deep stake in American democracy, Jim Jefferies, for example, I would probably at this point call Merrick Garland a cunt, though I realize that’s not a word we can use here, in the USA, where words fucking matter.

Garland may well be a very principled, judicious, deliberate man, but he’s not a wartime Attorney General ready to deploy the law boldly against seditious conspirators, making them actually obey subpoenas from Congress — for starters, to end the GOP’s seamless obstruction of justice and ensure that fascism is not our immediate fate here in the land of the free and the home of the highly principled.

Mike Flynn is laughing his autocratic ass off now, as the far-right’s Steve Bannon continues to bray from his basement, basking in his open contempt of Congress and law, and the good citizens shudder, wondering when they will finally just take over, put troops and angry mobs of armed vigilantes in the street and the Enemies of the People, and bigmouths like me, into harsh, airless, stinking, sun-baked Joe Arpaio-style prison camps.

You can’t blame Trump supporters for being mad

They came to Washington D.C. in the days before January 6 to fight like hell against a stolen election. Trump and his dark money allies had spent $50,000,000 on ad buys hammering home the infuriating message that, like the lying Black guy before him, Biden was an illegitimate lying bastard fake presidential cuck. Trump himself tweeted this invitation:

On the morning that a Black pastor and a Jewish journalist replaced two die-hard Trumpist senators from Georgia, giving the illegitimate Sleepy Joe a razor thin majority in both houses of Congress, Trump’s most passionate people were there, fired up and ready to be wild and Stop the Steal.

What most in that large MAGA crowd did not know was that Trump had been meeting with a group of elected GOP representatives and senators, working the phones to state officials, threatening and cajoling state election board members, including a few he summoned to be his guests at the Trump Hotel.

They also probably had no idea he’d been working tirelessly to convince the DOJ to release a statement indicating widespread voter fraud, even though none was found, had considered replacing the acting AG with an American Eichmann-type, an ambitious weasel named Jeffery Bossert Clark willing to do whatever it takes, had wildly right-wing lawyer (John Eastman) writing a literal script for Pence to nullify Biden’s victory under bizarre, even absurd, constitutional claims.

They didn’t know Trump’s inner circle, Steve Bannon, Rudy, felon Bernie Kerick, John Eastman and others were in a war room at the Willard Hotel, paid for by the Trump Pence 2020 campaign, providing tactical support while the Stop the Steal rally and the MAGA riot were taking place.

They knew Mike Flynn, Rudy and Sidney Powell were in and out of the Oval Office, along with the MyPillow guy, in the days leading up to the Capitol riot, that Trump was capable of any lie that could possibly benefit him. Many in Trump’s crowd may even have known there was no evidence to establish any detail of Trump’s lie about a stolen election, a conspiracy in which Democrats and treasonous Republicans, including Federalist Society judges he had appointed for lifetime tenures on the federal bench, had worked together to victimize Trump.

If they had known all that, it would have made no difference to people eager to fight for the higher truth. Trump may be a compulsive liar, but he also knows exactly what his audience wants to hear to fire ’em up.

On the Opposition side, the Democratic party, we have incomprehensibly spineless leadership. The party’s hand-wringing leaders have been in deadly embrace with corporate titans and their legions of lobbyists, in spite of almost half of its shaky House majority Progressive Caucus members. This collective lack of spine and corporate dependence was accelerated by Bill Clinton, a people pleaser and the greatest Republican president of the twentieth century, under whom the corporate donor grip on the party was cemented. Clinton and the DNC were handsomely rewarded for the party’s unapologetic move to the political right, in terms of corporate generosity. Obama opted out of public financing of his first presidential campaign since he had out raised McCain by a good margin, largely from the financial sector.

In the swamp that is Washington D.C., where a coal lobbyist like Joe Manchin III, as chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee, freely casts the deciding vote on whether to mitigate looming, easily observable Climate Catastrophe, the Democratic party has had the same corporately beholden leadership for decades. Leadership that, while making sure corporate donors are never alienated, has allowed the GOP to exercise almost total control over framing public debate, legislation, judicial appointments, war making and every other function of government, whichever party is in power.

Do the Democrats have a problem with messaging? They certainly do, with the excuse that their message, like their policies, is nuanced, takes complicated realities into consideration. Do Americans understand that we are the only wealthy nation that provides no paid family leave to new parents? Do Americans know that we pay the highest rates in the world for prescription drugs made by our own pharmaceutical companies? Do Americans know that the world is on the edge of literal destruction, mass extinctions and the destabilizing dislocation of millions made homeless by rising sea levels caused by global warming? That our billionaires, required to pay less tax than their counterparts elsewhere, can easily evade most tax on their income and wealth? The some of our largest corporations not only pay no tax, but receive generous government handouts, funded by tax dollars?

On the GOP side you have the dozens of well-funded academic and policy initiatives by the Koch network amplified through Rupert Murdoch’s relentless media blitzkrieg, using simple, enraging arguments, often based only on strong opinions, to convince half the country that the Democrat [sic] party is a bunch of radical Communist puppets who work for, as Florida senator Marco Rubio accused them the other day, Marxist corporations here in the USA. Last week Little Marco told a conservative group:

“They are the product of decades of anti-American indoctrination at our elite universities and they feel no obligation to America or its national interest,” the Florida senator said of America’s corporate leaders. “I’m not here to tell you big business is the enemy. But I’m here to tell you big business is not our ally in the fight against socialism.” . . .

. . . “The real fight isn’t about the tax rate on billionaires,” Rubio said. “The real fight is about a small, radical, but incredibly powerful minority that wants to… erase our culture and traditions, throw away our values, and walk away from a free enterprise economy that is still the envy of the world.”

source

We all know the real enemy here, don’t we?

So, like I said, don’t blame MAGA nation for being good and goddamned mad.

Hostage holder blasts colleagues for holding infrastructure bill hostage

Fossil fuel lobbyist/senator Joe Manchin III, a cartoonish rich southerner used to telling those less well off what they actually want and deserve, decried the members of his party who are holding the bipartisan infrastructure bill “hostage.” He made his hostage video, demanding that progressives in his party trust people like him, and the several bipartisan Republicans who have been outspoken about the need to address climate catastrophe — wait, that would be zero Republicans– as Biden met world leaders to plan for reducing the mass extinction zombie apocalypse that will be unleashed if the climate continues to warm at its present rate.

Manchin III waited until his party’s president was at the world climate summit to withdraw his support for even the severely truncated Build Back Better that gave Manchin everything demanded on behalf of his fossil fuel donors and his own coal interests. What is Manchin’s actual policy position? He’s a Republican, the largest recipient of fossil fuel money in the Senate. Here is the one man filibuster’s semi-coherent sounding defense of his latest obstructionist stunt:

I looked up whether the coal magnate, who has been opposing tax increases on billionaires and corporations to fund the initiatives of Build Back Better, had voted for or against Trump’s massive tax giveaway to corporations and the wealthiest Americans. Manchin III was as good as his stated anti-debt principles on that vote, though his staff’s spelling on the press release was about as good as Trump’s.

Have a look at how Manchin phrased his opposition and disappointment not to be able to support Trump’s Short Sided [sic] 1.9 trillion dollar tax break for the wealthiest Americans. If only the sides had been longer!

https://www.manchin.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/manchin-disappointed-to-vote-no-on-short-sided-and-rushed-tax-bill-

The conclusion of his statement on why he couldn’t vote for Trump’s bipartisan tax bill:

“While I am disappointed that we were not able to take advantage of this historic opportunity and pass real tax reform, I will continue to work with President Trump to help the working class and reign in our debt – something I know he cares deeply about.”

Joe Manchin III

That’s “rein in,” genius…like the reins mounted ICE agents used to whip them Haitians at the border, yee hah!

Mandate!

I feel like the former president, agitatedly tapping away at my phone… fucking depressing, but there it is, as I shop for a new computer to replace a mint condition macBook that has been rendered obsolete “to protect my privacy”…

When the candidate of White Nationalists, Militant pro-fetus Christian Conservatives, Climate Change Deniers, anti-government “Libertarian” billionaires, rich people who wanted a tax break and every fascist-leaning follower Steve Bannon could bring into the fold, narrowly became president in 2016, his party’s electoral mandate, as reflected in the Senate, was 51-49 [1].

It was no problem for this narrow Republican majority to give a $1,900,000,000,000 tax break to the wealthiest Americans and their favorite corporations. It was a simple matter for them to change the filibuster rules to ram a 6-3 Federalist Society Supreme Court down America’s throat, in perpetuity.

Now, with Democrats in the narrow majority, there is a sudden cry for “bipartisanship” in our deeply divided nation, a cry taken up by two suddenly supremely powerful cartoonishly corporate Democrats, oil baron Joe Manchin III and the narcissistic Sphinx of Arizona, a senator who only talks to big donors and the president.

I’ve got no news here, except that Americans will have to settle for a somewhat puny compromise Build Back Better Act that will leave prevention of climate catastrophe underfunded and several popular, long overdue programs cut entirely. Manchin (who appears quite vulnerable in Red West Virginia — GOP voters hate him for disloyalty to Trump, any other Democrat outpolls him as the “blue” candidate) announced he will go no higher than 1/4 of the bloated U.S. military budget, and won’t sign on to any Clean Energy initiative that threatens his coal business or those of his fossil fuel donors.

Biden has agreed to all of the right-wing moderate’s demands. It will still be great, Biden insists, his party’s chance to do anything dramatic rapidly slipping away, amidst routine, painless, phoned-in GOP filibusters of all legislation the majority party proposes.

After all, as McConnell points out, it’s not like the fucking Democrat [sic] party has a goddamned mandate in this deeply divided coin flip democracy , you snowflake cucks.

Lifting millions of American children out of poverty, keeping multitudes safe from the threat of homelessness, preventing the destruction of our planet? Not nearly as compelling, to corporate Free Market donors, as more profits for the greedy investor class that funds the whole shit show. Ask “centrists” Kyrsten and Joe III.

You know what I’m sayin’?

[1] from senate.gov

115th Congress (2017–2019)
Majority Party: Republicans (51 seats)
Minority Party: Democrats (47 seats)
Other Parties: 2 Independents (both caucused with the Democrats)
Total Seats: 100
Note: At the beginning of 115th Congress, there were 52 Republicans and 46 Democrats. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) resigned on February 8, 2017, and was replaced by Luther Strange (R-AL). Doug Jones (D-AL) subsequently won the special election held on December 12, 2017, to replace Sessions and was sworn into office on January 3, 2018.

Rope A Dope, fascist style

Muhammad Ali coined the term “rope a dope” to describe his fight plan for winning a fight against a more powerful opponent.   He exhausted his opponent by laying against the ropes round after round, head and torso covered by forearms and gloves, goading the opponent and letting him take out his fury as Ali leaned back against the ropes, resting while he let his furious opponent exhaust himself and then, when the time was right, whuppin’ him.  Rope A Dope is a stalling tactic that allows you to survive round after round against someone who’d otherwise beat you like a drum until the bell rings.  In the end, if you are able to delay things as long as you need to, your opponent is exhausted and frustrated and you have a good chance to win the fight by the end.

While Bill Barr auditioned for his role as Trump’s gunsel, with a memo stating that Mueller’s entire investigation was “untenable,”  Federalist Society favorite Don McGahn, Trump’s then White House Counsel, was busy getting first Gorsuch, then Kavanuagh, on the Supreme Court.   Barr devised a Rope A Dope strategy for the serial obstructor of justice, the 45th president, advising him to assert unlimited, absolute, blanket protective immunity against any testimony or document release that could hurt the Unitary Executive in any way.  The president instructed his faithful to defy Congress, under this untenable legal theory.   

Barr knew in the end this overbroad assertion of limitless privilege was doomed, like Trump’s ridiculous all-inclusive, lifetime non-disclosure agreements that have now started falling in courts, but the main thing was to buy time for his boss, to run out the clock as Trump continued to work his magic for the far right.

During Mueller’s “untenable” investigation he encountered numerous attempts by the Polyp and his myrmidons to obstruct justice.   Trump flatly refused to answer the last question of the interrogatories he agreed to answer for Mueller, left it blank and there was simply no consequence for failing to provide an answer to the most potentially incriminating question.   Manafort and Stone, two of the most cynical and evil fucks on the scene, repeatedly lied to Mueller, which was no problem since they had pardons dangled in exchange for their obstruction to protect the man who would pardon them.   Quid pro quo, defiance, silence and lies in exchange for a pardon from their co-conspirator. 

In one instance of apparent obstruction of justice documented by Mueller, McGahn (who we recently learned collected and trashed every tip called in during the short sham FBI investigation of Boof Kavanaugh) refused his boss’s request to fire Mueller, tendering his resignation instead.   The following day Trump instructed him to write a memo for the record stating they never talked about McGahn firing Mueller.  McGahn, in an uncharacteristic show of integrity, refused.   He told the story to Mueller’s investigators, under the penalties of perjury.    When he was called to testify during the impeachment inquiry he cited the absolute privilege Barr had pulled out of his capacious ass and piously announced that he would abide by the eventual decision of the court.

McGahn’s public testimony would have been devastating to Trump.   As McGahn’s court case meandered through the courts the public never saw him (or any others) confirm the damning details they’d revealed under oath to Mueller’s investigators.   In the end the court ruled that McGahn must testify, but it was two years later, both impeachments were history.   When he did finally testify, he negotiated the rules for his testimony, including that he would not take an oath to tell the truth.   You can read the transcript of him cagily confirming the truth of what he’d told Mueller, but it is a purely academic exercise.  Rope A Dope works again.

The Democrats, a party firmly controlled by its corporate donors, are not known for the stiffness of their collective spine.  Technically they have a razor thin majority in the House and Senate, but they are being Rope A Doped and played by a party that has shown its willingness to embrace any tactic and any lie that will keep them in power.   Our government’s ability to pass needed laws is being held hostage by a united mass of 50 Republican senators and by two basically Republican Democrats, “moderate centrists” Manchin and Sinema.  If one of the two contrarian Democrats (both defenders of the “bipartisan” filibuster, naturally, and well-paid for their steadfastness) flips to the other party, it’s game over for Biden.   If one of the two holds fast against what 49 other Democrats vote for, it’s game over for Biden.  A lot of power for one contrarian to hold over their party’s policies

When Steve Bannon worked for his billionaire patrons the Mercers, they supported Lyin’ Ted Cruz, until Trump knocked him out of contention for the GOP presidential candidate and was the last turd standing.  Throwing their support behind the new GOP candidate they introduced the flailing Trump campaign to Bannon and Kellyanne “Alternative Fact” Conway.   The rest, as they say, is history.  Strategist Bannon is a thinking man’s fascist, straight up, he doesn’t even attempt to hide it.   The administrative state?  Enemy of freedom and of the people.    We need 20,000 shock troops for January 6 2.0 and I call for them now.  Jews, not for my kids. Bannon will say whatever he needs to in order to advance his radical right wing agenda of securing a one-party state eternally hospitable to the Mercers and their privileged ilk.

Now Bannon, pardoned by the Polyp for ripping off the Polyp’s most loyal supporters in a fake “Build the Wall!” scam, is doing the McGahn Rope A Dope.   It may be a fanciful, even frivolous, claim that a man who hasn’t worked for Trump directly as a government official since the summer of 2017 is protected by Executive Privilege, but that’s for the courts, not the administrative state Bannon is devoted to destroying, to decide.   

The Democrats current plan is as practical and principled as the one the democracy supporters of the Weimar Republic employed to reign in Mr. Hitler and his top guys.   The law provides for criminal contempt penalties that Bannon can fight in court well past the 2022 election, at which time, Biden having passed no meaningful legislation, might have Trump as Speaker of the House.

The solution to this Rope A Dope doesn’t take much guts, but it takes seeing and fighting sworn lockstep marching enemies as the danger they are.  Congress has the power of inherent contempt which allows it to send marshals to arrest and detain any  contemptuous motherfucker who tells Congress to stick their subpoena where the sun don’t shine.    Send a couple of marshals to arrest Steve Bannon, and, while you’re at it, get his equally handsome autocracy-loving co-conspirator, The Orange Polyp, who has publically told Bannon and others to tell the illegitimate Congress to go fuck themselves.  Lock him up. 

The answer to someone who punches you hard in the face is not a careful study of the best way to react, it is an immediate, strong reaction to prevent another blow to the kisser. Unless, of course, a kingmaker like Manchin or Sinema gives the saucy thumbs down, with a wink to their equally compromised buddies across the aisle (not that either of these shitbirds have anything to say about what the House does to enforce its powers).

In other Rope A Dope news: