In a more perfect union — imagining Rittenhouse public service/truth & reconciliation

Like everything else today, the acquittal of a white teenager who brought an assault rifle to a tense, racially-charged confrontation and wound up killing two people, and dismembering another, while arguably in fear for his life, is a fiercely tribal moment seen through reflexively tribal lenses. Though the injustice on trial in this particular case appears to many obscene, we would all benefit from taking a breath about this particular flashpoint of the long building war between the tribes, before logging it as merely another example of the other tribe’s intractability.

It is undeniably sickening that a white kid who goes to an understandably tense racial justice protest (Kenosha cop would face no charges for shooting an unarmed citizen seven times, four times in the back) with an AR-15, a weapon designed for mass killing in a war zone, (a gun perfectly legal to openly carry under Wisconsin law, if he’d been a year older) and winds up killing two people and destroying the arm of a third, is not accountable to the law in any way, tried in a state that also has a George Zimmerman law. It is an outrage that people like him are free, in many states, to do exactly what Rittenhouse did, fund raise off it and avoid legal consequences. Had he been Black, he would likely have been dead at the scene, a victim of “law and order”. Undeniable. That an unhinged president immediately hailed Rittenhouse as a hero, and the little working class killer’s $2,000,000 bond was quickly raised and paid, and he had an OJ-like team of lawyers who rehearsed and war-gamed his defense with consultants and jury experts, who put him through his paces before putting him on the stand — this white high school kid enjoyed privileges usually reserved for only the wealthiest criminal defendantsan outrageous pouring of salt in the wounds. Compare the outcome to someone who’d done exactly what Rittenhouse did, who hadn’t been able to post bail, had spent a year and a half locked up in prison and was represented by an overworked public defender. There’d be a plea deal and a sentence of years in prison, there is virtually never a trial in the case of someone unable to post bond and hire the best legal team a mountain of money can buy.

There is much to be legitimately outraged about, but there is also a point that has been mostly sliding by — under Wisconsin law, and based on the evidence the jury saw during the trial, their verdict was what the (unjust, racially biased) law provided for.

If we put the tribal lens aside for a moment, (which is a mighty task today, see, for example, the rest of this sentence) we can see that this case is a reflection of the larger injustice in courts bound by laws written by the NRA. These laws are an outrage and a reason to fight to change these gun-crazed laws, but in this particular case there was one killer on trial, not the systemically unjust legal system. The problem with talking about a public trial is that most of us know few of the legal details and the case stands as easy code for everything else. I will attempt to break some of this into smaller parts and look at the verdict beyond the tribal POV.

The kid’s crying on the stand was either the perfectly understandable reaction of a young criminal defendant, under tremendous stress, on international television, facing decades in prison, possibly traumatized by what he’d done (not every kid who supports Trump is automatically a cold blooded killer), the clever act of a well-coached murderer, or some combination of those things.

Multiple things may be true at the same time. Our justice system is the opposite of colorblind — again, a Black AR-15 wielding shooter at that same time and place would likely have been killed by police on the spot, and the shooting justified, forget about any kind of trial by his peers, or anyone else. This pleasant faced white kid, a big fan of cops, was not molested by police after he shot three people and was allowed to leave the scene of the killings with the weapon that did the killing. That by itself is pretty fucking maddening.

The other day I reflexively referred to the biased judge in the case as a Ku Klux Klansman, based on a few seemingly racist comments and decisions he made during the trial, which was not fair of me. I have no way of knowing if Judge Schroeder is a bigot or not. Another way of seeing the clearly biased jurist, with the eyes of the world suddenly fixed on his every word, is as a sympathetic older man, suddenly far beyond his depth, who felt compassion for a kid, already villainized by half the country, facing the full force of the justice system as punishment for America’s original, never addressed sin of slavery and the racism that justified it.

As a frame, systemic racism, as reflected in countless legal proceedings, is impossible to ignore in this case, unless you pretend, as the right does, that systemic racism, like Critical Race Theory (illuminated brightly by the polarizing Rittenhouse case, where a white killer was extended privileges usually reserved for the wealthy and given a fair trial) is bullshit and that making laws banning “CRT will make it — and all claims of racism — go away.

Think of the close to 1,000 enraged white rioters, including armed white nationalist militia members, allowed, by the too-late deployed National Guard, to peacefully go home the evening of January 6th after the sacking of the Capitol, another in-your-face moment for peaceful racial justice protesters locked up immediately, wrapped in a police net five minutes after curfew (in New York City, mind you), or gassed, charged by officers on horseback and shot with rubber bullets on instruction of Bill Barr so the president could be photographed awkwardly brandishing a bible in front of a famous church.

There is another issue in this case, though, a much more straightforward strictly legal issue, which is hard to see in the glare of this moment. It is a much less satisfying way of looking at the case, but no less important.

In light of the evidence presented to the jury did the prosecution overcome Rittenhouse’s self-defense argument?

That is separate from everything else, and really the only relevant consideration in evaluating the justness of the actual verdict.

I heard an analysis of the trial by Glenn Greenwald yesterday, a guy who sometimes annoys me with what seems like a trollishly contrarian view, who made several excellent points, including the one immediately above. The slightly left-leaning side of corporate mass media has framed this trial as a trial of White Supremacy vs. the rest of us who can see the dangers these fearful haters pose — the kid had crossed state lines with an illegally-possessed assault rifle to provocatively confront protesters and rioters because he’s a racist, like many of Trump’s most vocal supporters. Right-wing mass media framed it as spineless liberal puppet prosecutors using an innocent kid who went to protect property in a town near where he lived, shops threatened by BLM violence, to prove a point about their politically correct “wokeness”.

Everyone had a strong opinion when Rittenhouse was acquitted. Few of us had followed the trial in detail, viewing it instead through the glimpses provided by opinionated pundits, in newspaper articles and on “social media”. Greenwald said he watched the whole trial, saw everything that was presented to the jury. Like most other Americans, and citizens all over the world, I saw only selected excerpts, always framed by the presenters. Who is in a better position to evaluate the fairness of the verdict?

The judge, Kenosha County Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder, suddenly thrust into the national spotlight, may well have behaved like an asshole, I certainly saw several instances of him leaning over backwards to rule for the defense. In one instance he admitted he knew nothing about technology, but told the prosecutor it was his burden to prove the arguably self-evident proposition that enlarging things on a video screen is essentially the same as using a magnifying glass. The only person disputing that was the defense attorney trying to block introduction of the evidence, who also admitted he didn’t understand the technology or its “logarithms”. It was an asshole position for any judge to take — the two of us are uniquely ignorant about the issue so that is your problem, counselor.

But back to the facts and the law. To prove murder the prosecution must overcome a self-defense defense if it is raised. When you see the defense’s video that the jurors saw, the kid’s fear was understandable when you see that he was chased by at least one of the people he killed, a probably mentally ill man who clearly (and, to many, not unreasonably) wanted to stomp the shit out of Rittenhouse, if not kill him with his own assault rifle. You can say, as I would, that Rittenhouse had no business being there, provoked them by showing up with an AR-15, loaded and ready (and the lack of meaningful gun laws here is appalling), but what the prosecution had to prove beyond a reasonable doubt is that when he killed those men he was not actually in reasonable fear for his life.

The gun charge was dismissed because under a Wisconsin law, probably drafted by the NRA and passed with the help of ALEC (the Stand Your Ground folks), an AR-15 loaded with 30 rounds does not fit the strict and restrictive legal definition of a gun that a 17 year-old can be prosecuted for bringing to a volatile street confrontation. Bruce Shroeder may well be an asshole, even a klansman, but the law is the law and in this case there is no avenue to appeal, based on the law, the judge’s dismissal of the gun charges against the kid who came to a scene of violence armed to take on thirty people. The same goes for most of the rest of the judge’s asshole rulings. The problems are with the law itself, annoying as Shroeder’s thumb on the scale for the defense was.

Predictably, Greenwald has been attacked from the left for his conclusion that the jury’s verdict, based on the evidence presented, in light of Wisconsin law, was correct. It is hard, in our angry, moronic times, to make that kind of distinction when half the country treats the kid as a hero and the other half thinks life in prison is fair punishment for what the smug little Trumper did.

I was reading comments under Greenwald’s video, most of them praising him for his honesty and integrity. This comment caught my eye, and for the first time ever, I responded to a Youtube comment:

I wrote asking the guy if he had a source for this. It changes the narrative drmtically, if true. But the comment above, and my reply, are buried in a haystack of thousands of comments and I have been unable to find a reply anywhere. I was hoping for an email notice, but so far, nada. This guy’s comment, a narrative game changer if true, is the perfect illustration of the problem with relying on unsourced (and thus unverifiable) “facts” gleaned from the internet.

As I was walking last night, taking what used to be called a “constitutional”, I had a thought about how productive it would be if we could all take a step back from the reflexive tribal reactions, isolate some of the larger problems and discuss them on a deeper level of understanding. In spite of the seeming impossibility of doing this in a culture of monetized misinformation, it is the best shot we have as a society on the brink of another bloody civil war. I pictured us all living in a more perfect union, a place of actual discussions focused on the real problems and solving them, instead of the zero-sum, adversarial, strictly profit-driven gotcha society we live in.

I thought of the many lessons members of a more advanced society could take from something like the Rittenhouse trial. I imagined an opportunity for real cross-tribal insights. I pictured people like him, instead of being simply judged a murderer or a victim/hero, required to perform public service after his trial, maybe on a panel with Jacob Blake, the man in a wheelchair for life after taking seven police-justified bullets from a Kenosha policeman and Rittenhouse’s surviving victim.

It would be much more instructive than what we have now, this kid as a vicious murderer who went free or a totally vindicated celebrity of MAGA-world, already publicly courted by several of the most angry, provocative and extremist members of Congress, who have already offered Rittenouse jobs he is as unqualified for as they are for their own jobs.

Imagine an alternative reality where the young man is required to spend a certain number of hours communicating to the public what he learned from his experience. His public service would start with help from skilled mediators who could ensure he listened to victims of vigilante violence, and understood the point of view of those at the protest where he wound up shooting three people. He could reflect on what he may have learned from the whole ordeal, how it feels to actually end the lives of random strangers (suppose he really does have regular nightmares about it, instead of the expressed desire to shoot BLM protesters and the smug posing he did right after– would that be a step in the right direction in talking about fucking guns?). Think of the discussion this kid’s court-mandated public speaking could open, in a more perfect union, where everything is not immediately weaponized to threaten and kill the other side with.

This messianic daydream scenario would only work, of course, in a society where honest reflection was encouraged, where truth and reconciliation are valued, where people are seen as capable of learning, evolving and becoming wiser, instead of a ruthlessly profit-obsessed casino where the only move for the people forced to gamble there is doubling down until you’re out of chips.

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

Restraining heartlessness

Dean Joan R.M. Bullock:


Thank you. Well, I will just end with the quote from Martin Luther King, who said, “Morality cannot be legislated, but behavior can be regulated. Judicial decrees may not change the heart, but they can restrain the heartless.” And what I want us to — as the takeaway — is that whatever the rule is as it relates to the meeting of the minds must be of one set that applies equally to all and that the heartless, those who govern by rules which they would not prescribe for themselves, must be restrained in that situation. And if we do, at least, restrain the heartless– we might not be able to change the minds and the hearts of everyone, but if we can restrain the heartless and have everyone under one set of rules, we will indeed be a people that are equal under the law.

Bullock, Joan; Fain, Constance; Weeden, Larry; and SpearIt (2021) “Panel III Discussion: The U.S. Constitution: Reimagining “We the People” as an Inclusive Construct,” The Bridge: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Legal & Social Policy: Vol. 6 , Article 5. Thurgood Marshall School of Law, Texas Southern University.

“Morality cannot be legislated, but behavior can be regulated. Judicial decrees may not change the heart, but they can restrain the heartless.”

Rules, agreed to and abided by, with enforcement when needed, can restrain heartlessness. A strictly enforced law against lynching may not change the hearts of those who feel most alive as part of a righteous, muscular mob hauling some guilty chickenshit bastard off to be tortured to death, but the certainty of severe punishment for the merciless act can restrain the heartless. That King quote cited by the law school dean begins with a beautiful sentence: It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can keep him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty important also.

My oldest friend summed up a terrible and common human dilemma: it is humiliating to have to ask for what you should be given freely, but it is also something we must do. The context was close personal relationships in which the other person treats you unfairly, or even with a nonchalant brutality sometimes, instead of giving you the benefit of the doubt and the steady mercy we all require from our loved ones. We grow up with the beautiful idea of unconditional love, being loved simply because we are a soul that deserves love, not because love, like respect, has to be earned. All love, it turns out, has conditions attached. It can only flourish when the humiliation of having to ask for what we need is not constant, doesn’t become a heavier and heavier burden. Love by itself, clearly, is not the answer to every terrible question.

The essence of morality, expressed by the ancient Jewish sage Hillel when he was challenged to state it, is “what is hateful to you, do not unto others.” To me the simple practicality of this statement stands by itself as an indispensable guide to a moral life. We all know, more intimately than almost anything else, what we hate. If we hate it when it is done to us, we should be aware that others would hate it too and refrain from doing it to them.

It has taken me many years, but I finally understand the empathy-related problem with even that insightful expression of the Golden Rule. Its limitation is our human limitation on feeling empathy automatically, unless someone else’s vexation is identical to, or very close to, our own. This is a universal limitation on our powers of effective real-time mercy. What is so hard about the seemingly straightforward “what is hateful to you do not unto others” is that we humans naturally understand things from our personal perspective and are geniuses at framing things so we are blameless.

“No, I wouldn’t hate that, no, you just have a problem with someone making a perfectly reasonable demand,” is much easier to say to an aggrieved loved one than, “you know, now that you’ve explained yourself clearly, without making me feel defensive — thank you for that — I would feel terrible if somebody treated me like I just treated you and I’m truly sorry and will try my best not to do it again. Please let me know whenever I start to do it so I can be more aware of correcting that fault in myself.”

That second answer is for fairy tales, in the society we live in, or only possible between two people who love each other while honestly, openly accepting each other’s faults, a rare thing. Easier to shift the blame off yourself, particularly in a highly competitive culture like the one we live in, where one is expected to defend oneself at all costs.

We have not been raised in a generally cooperative society, we don’t solve mutual problems as a group, (ironic in a democracy, that), but see and are forced to accept unilateralism daily in our own lives, in the workplace, we can hear it reported in the news every day as part of public life. One unmovable person, in the right strategic position, has the power to hold up a solution for an entire family, or, in the case of government, thwart a solution for the unmet needs of millions.

We also don’t have a social support system in America for, or a history of, group problem solving, no respected wise elders available for advising on disputes between loved ones, outside of family court and the ever-popular divorce court. In our combative society we’re rewarded for playing hard and winning, not for daydreaming and refusing to compete.

A glance around, at the boiling hatred that animates so many of the world’s billions right now, shows us that a conversation based on the need for love will not get very far. If you are a Muslim in India, ruled as it is by a hard-line Hindu Nationalist party, you do not expect love, or even respect, from your government. Love is for the immediate family, the tribe, and people everywhere are always ready to fight for that. For outsiders, the Other, all bets are currently off. The question is: how do we best restrain heartlessness?

Seeing how hard it can be between individuals who care about each other to always show kindness, we can multiply the difficulty of mitigating group heartlessness by a million or so. The common, grim view of humanity is that we are all flawed, corrupt, out primarily for ourselves, and that we, if given the power, would fuck others we don’t care about as nonchalantly as those in power routinely do to the powerless. Given this view, held by billions, the best we can shoot for is limiting the heartlessness of those with the power to inflict humiliating conditions on others.

The dean quoted at the top obliquely references Hillel’s Golden Rule when she notes “that the heartless, those who govern by rules which they would not prescribe for themselves, must be restrained in that situation.” A wealthy legislator who lives on a yacht, rakes in a tidy sum from his coal interests, and is well-funded by the nation’s greatest toxic polluters, does not consider himself heartless just because he opposes any law that would hurt his family’s bottom line. He simply loves his damned family and wants to make them wealthier! A woman who campaigned as a progressive, promised to fight for fairness and equality, be an advocate for the oppressed, and then takes $750,000 in campaign donations from pharmaceutical corporations that benefit from the current health insurance laws in the US, does not consider herself heartless, or hypocritical, when she opposes any changes her generous sponsors would not like.

When you ask a proven heartless partisan like Mitch McConnell, as Chuck Schumer did the other day, for a procedural compromise to prevent the scorched earth that McConnell’s threat to filibuster raising the debt ceiling will inevitably produce, you will always get some variation on this: “There is no chance, no chance the Republican conference will go out of our way to help Democrats conserve their time and energy, so they can resume ramming through partisan socialism as fast as possible.” 

Politics in the USA as usual. The heartless (and ridiculously exaggerated) claim here is that Democrats are attempting to ram through a hateful, partisan, socialist agenda, including securing the ability to continue paying for a debt that McConnell’s party increased by 25% during the four years of a popular, angry, incompetent game show host’s presidency. That McConnell’s claim is incoherent makes it no less compelling in today’s heartless, zero-sum, sound bite-driven polity. I’ve got no solution for this, except to urge strength to the arms of those in power who find themselves in the humiliating position an incoherent set of loudly amplified self-serving lies has placed us all in. Love them or hate them, the heartless must be fought and restrained with everything we have.

Trump’s multi-million dollar Arizona sham election audit spoiler

News leaked that Trump’s seemingly endless sham audit and recount in Arizona resulted in more votes for Biden than originally counted. And, of course, the gloating on the hated, hateful secular humanist left is pretty unrestrained about this result. On the bright side, Cyber Ninjas, a Trump-devoted outfit that had never audited so much as a high school cheerleader election, made out like bandits, raking in millions for future projects. Here are some smart-ass libtards gloating on the internets (this from Meidas Touch):

The former president’s reaction was muted, restrained.

He promptly dashed off an open letter to the Covid precaution-denying, US Constitution for toilet paper using far right governor of Texas asking him to investigate the voter fraud that cost him the full, glorious landslide victory he claimed (falsely) in Texas 2020. The Dallas Morning News noted that Trump’s 5.6% margin of victory in the Hang ’em High State was the third weakest showing by a winning Republican presidential candidate in almost half a century. No wonder the Polyp had one of his lackeys dash off this strong public request to Greg Abbott:

And, of course, within hours Abbott was happy to comply, initiating an audit of the votes in four “urban” counties where disproportionate amounts of Black and Brown Americans live, whose votes, let’s face it, will never be pure enough for the greatest among us.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and former President Donald Trump attend a briefing on border security with state officials and law enforcement at the Weslaco Department of Public Safety DPS Headquarters before touring the US-Mexico border wall on June 30, 2021.  Trump was invited to South Texas by  Abbott, who has taken up his immigration mantle by vowing to continue building the border wall.
(copyright Jabin Botsford / AP)

A bitter Texas Democrat, chair of the House Democratic Caucus, had this unkind comment:

“Let me be the first to congratulate the disgraced former president, Donald Trump, on his apparently becoming the new governor of Texas,” Grand Prairie Rep. Chris Turner, who chairs the House Democratic Caucus, said on Twitter. “Pitiful yet predictable that (Abbott) has capitulated to Trump yet again.”

source

USA! USA!!!!!

Department of Let’s Let Bygones be Bygones

Glenn Kirschner has been promoting the indisputable idea, with everything we’ve seen the last six years or so, where norms and all pretense of fair play are thrown into the shitter along with all other democratic values, that justice matters. “Justice matters” is Glenn’s mantra and coat of arms, and he’s been fighting a hard public fight to encourage his former employer, the US Department of Justice, to pursue accountability for crimes like Seditious Conspiracy for the conspirators who planned, funded and facilitated the January 6th MAGA riot.

Usually the man to turn to for encouragement after some really bad MAGA news, sometimes even Glenn Kirschner gets discouraged, which is heartbreaking to see, but at the same time, it shows that even the most dogged fighter for justice just gets frustrated and tired sometimes. Here he is asking a simple and basic question, and right back on the case the next day:

Here is the video the clip is from:

here is today’s:

Reasonable questions for Greg Abbott

The balls to the wall anti-democratic governor of the Hang ’em High state of Texas, Gregg Abbott, apparently has spent 24 years in high office in Texas. Seven years as governor, five years on the Texas Supreme Court and twelve as the state’s Attorney General for this powerful extreme conservative Texan. The other day, in defending the radical reach-around bounty law deputizing citizens to sue their neighbors for helping each other get a constitutionally protected medical procedure, a law that makes no exceptions for victims of rape, he vowed to get all Texas rapists off the streets (and presumably also out of all family picnics, school sports programs, churches, etc.). The Lincoln Project had a good question for him, at the end of this thirty second ad:

Here is another excellent question for the Trumpist governor:

The Trump variant

Let’s call the US Delta variant of Covid-19 what it is: the Trump variant.

For the many months the Orange Polyp was downplaying the pandemic hoax and scheming with his allies to fix the election in every way they could imagine, he kept touting the vaccine his scientists were creating in record time. Once we have the vaccine, he promised, this long nightmare will quickly be over. To everyone’s shock, it turned out he was lying.

After record voter turnout decisively ousted the Orange Polyp from office there was a new burning issue for his faithful 39% to rally behind, demonstrated for them again when their leader’s landslide victory was stolen from them by a cabal of Communist Nazis, criminal Blacks and traitorous GOP leaders, all funded by Jew pedophile cannibals – you can’t trust anything the illegitimate government does!

After losing the presidential election in 2020, by a decisive margin, while his party made gains in the House and held most of their ground in the Senate, his rage led him to badmouth the vaccine (which he took secretly, like the entire FOX staff, like forceful anti-vaccine governor Greg Abbott). No longer the Trump miracle that his Operation Warp Speed had produced, taking the Biden Vaccine was strictly a matter of personal freedom.

In conservative regions of the country that take their personal freedom goddamned seriously, the high Covid infection and death numbers, the overwhelmed ICUs, are directly related to low vaccine rates and the reckless anti-science mandates of their GOP state leaders. Note, when discussing personal freedom from government coercion, how many of these right wing Trumpist governors are preventing the personal freedom of those who accept the science and want people to take every precaution against the newly resurgent Trump variant. Inconsistency is never a problem to people who cling to their anger.

Of course, there is a sort of rationale for choosing not to take the vaccine, as there always is when masses surrender logic to the will of demagogues. It’s kind of thin, given the real, ongoing risk of infection and death, and the vaccine’s success in protecting people from death by Covid, but it is a rationale. Government mandates are tyranny, pure and simple. Being forced by the government to wear a mask in public, after all, is just like being made to wear a yellow Jewish star on your coat back in Nazi times. Needle Nazis want to inject you with an unproven drug that will make you one of them. Getting jabbed with the unproven Fauci Ouchi or wearing a mask are both matters of purely personal choice that nobody has a right to judge anybody about. Just because 99% of the hospitalizations for Covid are unvaccinated folks doesn’t prove shit — you can’t just trust that this unproven vaccine works simply because Biden and Fauci claim it does!

Lately the chorus against anti-vax shaming from the 60% who are now vaccinated, and angry that the Trump variant is surging out of control, has grown. You can’t persuade people that what they’re doing is stupid, selfish and reckless, these pundits tell us, by using words like “stupid,” “selfish” and “reckless”. You see what the Left is doing by judgmentally blaming those unvaccinated people who are infecting their children and dying for being dumber than piles of shit? It doesn’t work, pundits remind us urgently.

A gentle reminder: proof itself doesn’t work, for people ready to believe alternative facts. In an election Trump’s party did very well in, particularly after the four disastrous years of his incompetent, corrupt and often criminal administration, somehow only the presidential ballot was rigged, corrupt, fraudulent. It doesn’t faze anyone at the Polyp’s mass spreader events that there is not a shred of proof of this wild assertion. See, to MAGA nation it’s obvious the fucking Blacks and the Jews who control them were determined to get rid of the greatest White Christian ever to rule the modern USA come hell or high water, and with their unlimited power and vast Jew money they had the ability, and the criminal viciousness to do it. Close to 40% of our fellow Americans see it this way, the vast majority of Republicans accept this alarmingly counter-factual alternative fact.

Of course, it can be seen differently. Until the former and future president is indicted and tried, for, at minimum, obstruction of justice (check out the impressively consistent pattern and practice which demonstrates his unflagging intent) and interference in the election (roll the tape of him badgering the Georgia Secretary of State to find him a measly 11,780 votes), it is well to remember that this Delta variant surge is the fucking Trump variant.

Sanitizing History

It’s a cliche that history is written by the victors, “victors” being a supremely flexible term. By victor we often mean people who remain very wealthy and influential even after their own plans cost thousands of lives and their righteous “cause” turns to shit. We see history today being loudly written and rewritten, in real-time, by powerful, well-funded electoral losers, as it was rewritten by the wealthy, embittered daughters of the defeated Confederacy, decades after their beloved pappies were in their graves after the disgraceful “Northern War of Aggression”.

Trump’s party has removed from the RNC website the bragging page about Trump ending the long war in Afghanistan. The brag was scrubbed almost as soon as Biden made good on Trump’s promise to remove American troops and the Taliban immediately retook control of the nation that has never been militarily subdued by anybody in thousands of years of recorded history. The mess in Afghanistan, all those lost lives and a trillion dollars later, is fucking illegitimate Sleepy Joe’s to try to talk his way out of.

The name of celebrated diplomat and war criminal, Nobel Laureate Henry Kissinger, came up the other night (OK, I probably brought it up). The old Nazi, a one-time orthodox Jew who at 15 fled here with his family from the original Nazi paradise in 1938, is 98 years old, and still getting his ample ass kissed regularly by conservatives as an elder statesman, a supremely pragmatic American genius of international politics. I knew only a fraction of his actual war crimes, and threw a wet blanket over a small party by describing them briefly (without the numbers, which I found out later) the other night. I mentioned his advocacy of carpet bombing in Laos and Cambodia, to destroy the Ho Chi Minh Trail, and the thousands of Cambodian and Laotian civilians killed.

The number, it turns out, is at least 300,000 dead over the four years or so Mr. Kissinger kept his foot on the gas pedal of the secret, illegal carpet bombing (nice phrase, carpet bombing) campaign against densely populated civilian centers in two countries the US was not at war with, during the long “police action” against Communist North Vietnam. Not to mention the panicked instability the continued bombing created, which lead directly to the regime of Pol Pot and his genocide against millions whose remains were later found in the Killing Fields of Cambodia. Shit happens, as Mr. Kissinger might say.

After heading up to bed (my comments about Kissinger immediately reminded everyone it was time for bed) I looked up his biography and the first hit I had was this one:

The anodyne weaselishness of “he was later critiqued for some of his covert actions at home and abroad” rivals Mike Pence’s wonderful accounting of the January 6 MAGA riot when the boss he’d obsequiously served sent a crowd to string him up for cowardice and disloyalty. “We may never see eye to eye about that day,” said Pence philosophically, referring to his former boss and him.

“You mean about that day he sent a lynch mob to grab you and lynch you?” asked a wag on the internet.

So, you know, some critical critics critically criticized Kissinger just because he deliberately prolonged the senseless slaughter of the Viet Nam War by at least four years, for political reasons (to hurt Hubert Humphrey in 1968 and ensure Nixon’s election and then reelection) and was the architect of a vast secret, illegal bombing campaign that killed hundreds of thousands of civilians.

He indisputably won a Nobel Peace Prize for ending the war (his Vietnamese counterpart didn’t accept his own bullshit Peace Prize, knowing the true facts behind Kissinger’s mass murdering treachery). Biography.com takes no position on whether this critique of Kissinger is fair or not, we merely mention it out of a sense of fairness since so many seem to believe that the mass killings in Asia that he was deeply involved in was an American war crime.

This is how winners write history. Those leftists on East Timor that posed an ill-defined political threat to nearby Indonesia? Well, you visit the leader of Indonesia, give him some excellent weapons and tell him to wait. He waits, until the plane carrying you and Mr. Nixon taxis and lifts off Indonesian soil, then he slaughters one third of the civilian population of that island, including tens of thousands of cringing women and the crying children they tried to protect. Nothing to see here, what had WE to do with THAT?

I heard Kissinger interviewed by Leonard Lopate on WNYC a few years back. Kissinger had a new historical memoir out and was making the rounds of the talk shows. Lopate asked Kissinger about the slaughter on East Timor, which apparently began the moment Air Force One was wheels up, inches above the tarmac of an Indonesian airport. Kissinger responded in self-righteous fury. “You are so arrogant! You know nothing about history! How dare you?!!”

Lopate kept his cool, said something like “well, I may very well be arrogant, I don’t know, but that has nothing to do with my question. I’m reading directly from your book, on page 383 where you write….”

Kissinger attacked again, but the damage was done, among those of us who have long found the icon of international diplomacy to have been a self-righteous, unaccountable, murderous pile of dreck who always argued that in geopolitics the ends justify the means (means necessarily hidden under a cloak of secrecy, much of the time). Any status quo, no matter how flawed, is preferable to international chaos and possible revolution, Kissinger argued. That he was one of America’s greatest beneficiaries of this status quo apparently never entered his calculations.

Kissinger, who was never elected to any government position, greatly enjoyed his vast power of life and death over countless “enemies”, power which he famously called “the ultimate aphrodisiac”. One does not want to imagine Kissinger deploying that aphrodisiac.

Apparently power is a great aphrodisiac, if you think of a certain type — star fuckers, who will let you do anything to them if you are a big star. Apparently they let you walk right up to them and grab ’em by the pussy, LOL! The aphrodisiac effect of power is even more undeniable if consider a sex partner’s apparent lack of reciprocity to be no indication of her sexual appetite not being enhanced by the powerful aphrodisiac of the powerful person who is doing the fucking.

Muammar Gaddafi had unlimited power in Libya and, apparently, an unlimited, if sometimes sadistic, sexual appetite. He had a special crew going through the crowd wherever he spoke, picking out good looking young women to be taken to rooms to wait for the great man to give them a whiff of the ultimate aphrodisiac. Critics later called these rooms “rape rooms”. Mussolini apparently ran a similar game, stayed very busy with as much fucking as possible, but apparently found more willing women than the handsome, charismatic dictator of Libya. Both men ended badly. Fuck ’em.

When Henry Kissinger finally dies he will be lionized as a giant of American politics in the second half of the twentieth century. He will also be criticized, of course, by the critical critics, for what can arguably be called “war crimes,” but . . . well, those are critics who hate him. Who are you going to believe, those who loved the man for his brilliance and his measured, realistic view of world politics or those who hated him just because he might have had something to do with the deaths of a few hundred thousand so-called innocent civilians? Those anonymous kids that were killed would have grown up to hate America anyway, most likely. You can’t win, can you, Henry?

But wait a second —

he was later critiqued for some of his covert actions at home and abroad”?

At home? Covert actions at home? Wait . . . could Henry have played a Bill Barr-like role, as Nixon’s Secretary of State, in justifying, or even authorizing, say, the murder by hit squad of one of Nixon’s declared enemies? Covert actions at home? Like that squad of federal marshals that jumped out of two SUVs in the state of Washington and opened fire on a guy accused of shooting a militant pro-Trump fighter who’d come to Portland to kick some commie ass [1]? Things like that can’t happen here, they can’t happen here!

They can’t happen here, can they, Henry?

[1]

Barr sent federal troops to protect a federal building in Portland, Oregon, pursuant to an Executive Order about protecting federal property from violence. Violence escalated immediately, once the anti-riot forces arrived on the scene. You recall the unmarked shock troops jumping out of unmarked rented vans to grab protesters, who they drove around, handcuffed and hooded, and released without charges. It was a radical experiment, to see if federal forces could be widely deployed to put down this threatening Black revolution. Black Lives Matter was portrayed as a violent terrorist group, as was antifa. People who claimed that police killings of unarmed Blacks is a serious ongoing problem in America were themselves the serious ongoing problem in America. These lawless rioters would not be tolerated.

Recall how things escalated in Portland. Trump supporters began staging counter protests in Portland. An armed Trump supporter was shot to death one night by a violent “antifa terrorist”. Four days later, the suspected anitfa killer was found 120 miles from Portland and quickly died in a hail of police bullets when federal marshals staged a raid. The story of the original murder of the Trump supporter, was reported, by the Washington Post, at the very end of the article about the police killing of his suspected murderer, this way:.

The incident came after a caravan of Trump supporters, including members of the Patriot Prayer group, made their way through Portland, sparking skirmishes with those who objected to their presence. Portland has seen more than three months of often violent protests after the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis, and the shooting seemed to intensify the persistent tension.

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As for the police killing of the suspected killer of the Trump supporter? From that same article in the Washington Post:

A vocal proponent of the far-left antifa movement who was suspected of fatally shooting a supporter of a far-right group in Portland, Ore., this weekend was shot and killed in a confrontation with law enforcement Thursday, the U.S. Marshals Service said.

Investigators were seeking to take Michael Forest Reinoehl into custody in connection with the fatal shooting of 39-year-old Aaron J. Danielson on Saturday after confrontations between supporters of President Trump and Black Lives Matter counterprotesters.

The agency said Reinoehl was shot by police near Olympia, Wash., after drawing a weapon as officers tried to arrest him.

“The fugitive task force located Reinoehl in Olympia and attempted to peacefully arrest him,” said Jurgen R. Soekhoe, a U.S. Marshals spokesman, in a statement. “Initial reports indicate the suspect produced a firearm, threatening the lives of law enforcement officers. Task force members responded to the threat and struck the suspect who was pronounced dead at the scene.”

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The attempt to peacefully arrest him was accomplished when officers jumped out of two SUVs that had sped to the scene, cut off Reinhoel’s parked car and opened fire on the left-wing suspect, killing him in a barrage of 37 bullets.

The rest of this largely forgotten footnote of an American Death Squad story, of task force members executing a hated enemy while “responding to the threat” from the unarmed man they opened fired on, is here, in the second half of the April 13th post (below the Amazon ad).