Democracy in Action

Mitch McConnell:  “Everything I do during this I’m coordinating with White House counsel, there will be no difference between the president’s position and our position as to how to  handle this.  There’s no chance the president will be removed from office.”   The “Grim Reaper” on FOX News.

On (Lying) Face the Nation, Lindsey Graham was asked “Should Republicans in the Senate really be taking their marching orders from the person being investigated?”

Graham:  “You know, I understand the president’s frustration, but I think what’s best for the country is to get this thing over with, I have clearly made up my mind.    I’m not trying to hide the fact that I have disdain for the accusations and the process.”

Way to answer a question, Lindsey!

These staunch Trump supporting men know “it’s a witch hunt, it’s a scam, it’s a hoax… illegal, unconstitutional, it’s a very bad thing for our country … it trivializes impeachment.”    Their leader told them so, over and over, on television.   And, as we all know, furhrerworte haben Gesetzkraft — the leader’s word has the force of law.

USA!  USA!!!

Quick Timeline of Trump’s attempted shakedown of Zelensky

Using the word “shakedown” in the title gives away my position on what I believe Mr. Trump did.  The president’s attempt to get a foreign leader to announce a corruption investigation into the son of his political rival is the only impeachable offense the fearful Democrats charged Mr. Trump with.   It was bad that Trump held up aid to Ukraine for at least two months, and released it only after the whistleblower’s complaint (submitted a month and a half earlier) finally brought the matter to the attention of our Checks and Balances.   It was two more weeks before the original whistleblower complaint was released, and Trump unaccountably released the “transcript” of the hidden July 25th perfect call.  Now they are impeaching Mr. Trump over that shakedown plan, which included acts within his powers, like dismissing an ambassador who stood in the way of the mischief of Trump’s personal lawyer and the other two amigos.

Limiting the impeachment to only that — and obstruction of the hated Congress (which nobody cares about) —  takes a lot of other important high crimes and misdemeanors off the table.   I suppose the theory is to err on the side of caution, make a clear and convincing case for the most open and egregious story or abuse of power for a corrupt purpose, easily understood, and have that stand in for the rest.  

I’d have preferred at least one more, for obstruction of justice.  Let him refute Mueller’s entire volume two, that would be good.   Limiting the impeachment to this single series of despicable act takes Don McGahn and the rest of the fact witnesses Mueller talked to, under oath, about the president’s seamless pattern of obstruction of justice, off the table.  It also sets the stage for Lindsay Graham to call Hunter Biden, Adam Schiff and Gerald Nadler as hostile witnesses in the Senate trial before McConnell allows an up or down straight majority party line vote to not remove the leader they all defer to, the man who controls the RNC purse strings.   Senate Republicans will have the final word, per the rules, on all procedural decisions during their impeachment trial.

That said, here is the timeline (facts) of how long the appropriated military aid to Ukraine was held up (at least from July 3 to September 11), when it was released (September 11) and why (treason by so-called “whistleblower”).

The source for this timeline is lying NBC.  All quotes are from the article linked here.

July 3, 2019:  A hold is placed on the almost $400,000,000 in bipartisan, mostly military, aid to Ukraine.   July 3 is when Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman learns of the aid being withheld.

July 10:  

A meeting at the White House with Ukrainian officials is cut short when Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, says he has an agreement with the acting White House chief of staff that Ukraine’s president would get a meeting with Trump if Ukraine agreed to launch investigations.

Then-national security adviser John Bolton “stiffened” and ended the meeting, later telling colleague Fiona Hill to report it to the National Security Council’s lawyer, she testified.

“I am not part of whatever drug deal Sondland and (acting White House chief of staff Mick) Mulvaney are cooking up on this,” Hill said Bolton told her.

July 18:  White House Office of Management and Budget announces presidential order to hold up aid to Ukraine.

July 25:  Mr. Trump’s perfect call to Volodymyr Zelensky.

AUGUST: The questions

Catherine Croft, the special adviser for Ukraine at the State Department, says two Ukrainians reach out to her to ask about the status of the military assistance. She told lawmakers she couldn’t recall the exact dates, but believes the outreach took place before the Aug. 28 publication of a Politico article detailing the hold.

August 12, 2019:  Whistleblower complaint about withholding of aid to Ukraine and concerns about “perfect” July 25 phone call filed.  DOJ does not forward complaint to Congress, as required by law.  (It gets to Congress on September 25, 2019, weeks after House investigations begin.)

August 28: Politico publishes article on the withheld aid.

August 29:  acting US Ambassador to Ukraine begins getting desperate calls from Ukrainians about the withholding of aid.

SEPT. 9: The investigations begin

Three House committees launch a wide-ranging investigation into the allegations that Trump, his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, and possibly others, tried to pressure the Ukrainian government to help the president’s reelection campaign by digging up dirt on a political rival.

September 11: most of the appropriated aid to Ukraine is released.

September 25:  August 12 whistleblower complaint released to Congress.

December 13, 2019:  Democrats deliberately time their vote for Friday the Thirteenth to approve two baseless, partisan articles of impeachment against the president AG William Barr has repeatedly called innocent and totally justified to be enraged by the sneaky unscrupulousness of his many enemies.  

Thank you and have a very nice day.

Always himself, our man POTUS

TIME magazine named its Person of the Year the other day. Unaccountably that Person was not Mr. Trump, TIME selected Swedish high school climate activist Greta Thunberg. 

You can predict what happened next — the most powerful man in the world took to his phone to cyberbully a sixteen year-old girl. 

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Here’s Trevor Noah— and Greta:

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click on frame above for Trevor’s great segment.

The Most Dangerous Man in America

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Trump is a flawed vessel for God’s will.  You’ll get no argument from anyone on that score.  His flaws, including an inability to refrain from constant lying and self-aggrandizement, are endlessly on display.  We see this tic constantly because one of his other flaws is a childish need for attention, a need to be the center of attention. Another is his seeming incapacity for the demanding duties he has assumed as the world’s most powerful man.  

William Barr, on the other hand, is a highly skilled flawed vessel for God’s will who controls federal law enforcement in the United States of America.   He has shown a zeal to defend the president, no matter what, comparable to the zeal of the fierce zealot lawyers, Defenders of the Faith, who argued to the death the right of the Church to torture and kill heretics in the name of Jesus Christ.   He has no hesitation to make bold, strong, authoritative-sounding pronouncements that are not strictly supported by actual facts.   Because of his power, his zeal, his lawyerly chops, and his Scalia-like devotion to carrying out “God’s will”, he is the most dangerous man in Donald Trump’s revolving, mostly incompetent, crew.

The Department of Justice, created after the Civil War to enforce the rights of newly freed slaves, opened an investigation into the origins of the investigation of the Trump campaign’s entanglements with Russia regarding the 2016 election.  The DOJ, in the Mueller Report, found Russian efforts on behalf of Mr. Trump were “sweeping and systematic”, and though there were many points of contact, even open invitations for Russian help from candidate Trump (jokes, jokes!), Mueller’s team was thwarted in getting sufficient evidence of a chargeable criminal conspiracy between Team Putin and Team Trump.   Several top Trump aides are in prison, or awaiting sentencing, in part over their roles in making sure the DOJ never received sufficient evidence of widespread “collusion”.

Former Attorney General and Trump loyalist Jeff Sessions made the fatal mistake of following DOJ ethics attorneys’ advice and recusing himself from overseeing the Mueller investigation.  After Sessions was publicly humiliated by his boss and forced to “resign”, a snorting weightlifter was inserted into the post temporarily until Trump was able to get his new Roy Cohn confirmed by the Senate. Barr was as good as his promise to Trump during his audition for the job — I will protect you no matter what, so-called damning facts be damned.

“Insufficient evidence” to establish every element of the crime of criminal conspiracy became, after Barr’s authoritative, deliberately misleading public spin in the weeks before he released the redacted Mueller Report, “complete exoneration”.   Mueller immediately protested this distortion, in a letter to Barr. Barr waited a month to disclose Mueller’s letter, giving time for his authoritative counter-narrative to become cemented in the public mind.  The ten instances of obstruction of justice described in detail by Mueller, America was told by the always certain Barr, were irrelevant because the actual crime of obstruction of justice hinges on intent, in this case the intent of an innocent man clearly within his rights to be understandably enraged by an unfair partisan investigation against him and to do whatever was within his considerable powers to stop it.

The zealous defender of  Trumpism is at it again.   The recently released report concluded the DOJ investigation (begun under Obama) into Russian influence in Trump’s campaign was not motivated by bias or political animus against candidate Trump.  It also noted at least 17 “significant inaccuracies and omissions” in how the FBI obtained the original FISA warrants to surveil four Trump aides.  It should be noted that the investigation, once it was pursued by the Independent Counsel, ultimately led to numerous convictions of top Trump aides and a raft of indictments of Russians beyond the reach of American law.   Of the four initial targets of the FBI investigation that the DOJ Inspector General  investigated, three have pled guilty or been convicted of related crimes. 

Barr announces that the DOJ report concluded that the “intrusive” investigation was opened by the FBI on the “thinnest of suspicions that, in my view, were insufficient to justify the steps taken.  He also called the investigation  “completely baseless”.   He is not buying the conclusions of Inspector General Michael Horowitz until Barr’s own investigation of possible criminality by investigators and other members of Mueller’s team is concluded.  

For sheer shamelessness, this might have been his best comment:

“From a civil liberties standpoint, the greatest danger to our free system is that the incumbent government used the apparatus of the state, principally the law enforcement agencies and the intelligence agencies, both to spy on political opponents but also to use them in a way that could affect the outcome of the election,” he said [of Obama’s “spying” on the Trump campaign –ed.].

source

Barr  said, among other things:

“I think our nation was turned on its head for three years, I think, based on a completely bogus narrative that was largely fanned and hyped by an irresponsible press, and I think that there were gross abuses of FISA and inexplicable behavior that isn’t tolerable in the FBI,” Barr told NBC News.

Fake news,   completely bogus narrative.  [1]

“[Horowitz’s] approach is to say, if I get an explanation from the people I’m investigating that is not unreasonable on its face, then I will accept it as long as there’s not contradictory testimonial or documentary evidence… And all he said is people gave me an explanation. And I didn’t find anything to contradict it. So I don’t have a basis for saying that there was improper motive. But he hasn’t decided the issue of improper motive,” Barr said.

(emphasis mine)

source for both quotes

Barr dismisses the findings as the easy conclusions of a cursory and inconclusive look into what he considers possible, even likely, “bad faith” by the FBI.  It matters not a whit that, as he frankly concedes, he has no basis for saying there was an improper motive for the FBI probe, he just knows it because… God told him.

Indeed.  Remarkably, Trump says exactly the same thing about the latest baseless, sick, illegal witch hunt against him.  Who are you going to believe, a dense 435 page report by a partisan bureaucrat intent on letting his suspiciously error-prone colleagues off the hook or the clear words of the unambiguous leader of the Free World and his top law enforcement official?

If only the Democrats had the spine to impeach Mr. Trump for his seamless pattern of obstruction of justice as well as his many other misdeeds as America’s Top Executive.   Why are the findings of the Mueller Report a dead letter?   Barr said so, unequivocally.   The Democrats, it seems, made a political calculation about the uphill nature of that fight against America’s top lawyer and the impossibility of getting Americans to tune back into that “old news”.  

Too bad impeachment of Barr is off the table, that would be a great show, watching the most dangerous man in America wrestling other lawyers like the snarling, heavyweight, snarling alligator he is.   I’d watch that shit show gavel to gavel.

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[1]  Inconvenient facts?  Easily disposed of:

Barr also reiterated his opinion that the FBI did not have enough evidence to open up a full investigation into the Trump campaign in 2016 — which diverges from the conclusion reached by Horowitz.

According to the Horowitz report, the FBI investigation — codenamed Crossfire Hurricane — was opened exclusively on a tip to the FBI from an Australian diplomat that George Papadopoulos, then a foreign policy aide on the Trump campaign, had displayed knowledge of a possible plan by the Russians to release information damaging to Hillary Clinton.

In the interview, Barr dismissed Papadopoulos as a “28-year-old campaign volunteer” and suggested that the information he communicated could have been conflated with contemporaneous news reports about Russian hacking.

source

 

SAD!

The saddest part, I think, is how “alternative fact” turns everything to mud– no facts, no facts!!!  The resulting no-holds-barred mud wrestle and shit flinging contest makes all but the strongest of stomach turn away from an impeachment inquiry every American should be following closely.

I wish these were in the articles of impeachment, under the president’s ongoing campaign to undermine American’s faith in the essential fairness of our own democratic institutions, the Department Of Justice and Congress among them.  This is the final bit of Trump’s April 19th tweet storm after Barr confidently and incorrectly announced that Mueller’s report exonerated the innocent president:

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“Very sick and dangerous people who have committed very serious crimes, perhaps even [capital offenses]”   These menaces are DOJ employees, these very sick and dangerous criminals, perhaps even traitors, people who, perhaps even need to be executed for their sick and very serious crimes. 

Note the display of the president’s high-minded due process concern for the presumption of innocence for these dangerous (if un-indicted) criminals he has already marked for punishment, perhaps even execution.

This is what the president told a reporter at the NATO summit last week when asked about the newly released House Intelligence Committee report on its impeachment inquiry:

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Leaving aside the obvious projection of these comments — What the FUCK?   Seriously, are we actually fine with this kind of response from the president of the United States?  Every time you think we have come to the bottom, there is a new bottom under that one. 

If you have any doubts about whether Trump is right about Shifty Schitt, FOX star Tucker Carlson will set you straight.    In dismissing the impeachment farce he calls Adam Schiff a “bug-eyed lunatic.”  Great minds think alike!

A few words about the Ukraine and the involvement of the president’s top men there (personal lawyer/bagman Rudy Giuliani is currently, unaccountably, in Ukraine, reportedly working on a “documentary” about how Ukraine illegally helped Hillary Clinton narrowly defeat Trump in 2016 while hiding Biden’s open corruption):

The Ukrainian presidential candidate that Paul Manafort advised, groomed and put into power in 2010 over a gigantic deficit in the polls (32%, I think), was a Rusnsian-backed thug named Viktor Yanukovych.  Yanukovych, by the way, is currently in exile in Russia and wanted by Ukraine for high treason [1].  

Manafort was paid $60,000,000 for his valuable polling, campaigning and PR advising help, before the unpopular, corrupt Yanukovych was overthrown and ousted by Ukrainians in a democratic coup in 2014.   Manafort (long time partner of convicted felon and self-proclaimed “political dirty trickster” Roger Stone in their lucrative lobbying/consulting/campaign management and PR business) is in prison for tax evasion (he hid $30,000,000 from Yanukovych in some Cayman Island tax dodge using a shell corporation and got caught) and lying to federal prosecutors to protect Trump — in addition to a bit of witness tampering in his own trial. 

In the months before the 2016 election “former unpaid campaign manager” Manafort gave polling data to a Putin connected oligarch (also indicted by Mueller), that included polling research on the key swing states Wi. and Mi. that Trump won by a combined 0.9% or 33,500 votes (see below, email I sent to my sister a few weeks back).   

The mountain of damning facts, first-hand witness testimony (in addition to numerous key fact witnesses blocked from testifying), the numbingly seamless regularity of Trump’s corruption —  overwhelming, sickening and, in some odd way, complicated.  That odd way is the constant lying spin FOX, Barr and Trump himself are always spewing– the constant invocation of conspiracies, no matter how ridiculous and debunked, hardens already inflexible minds to hate instead of reason.  In the war of pure hate and pure reason… well, history is not much consolation there.    I still cling to my belief that Americans are not, by far, the stupidest and most grievously manipulated populace in history… you know what I’m sayin’?

A note on the 2016 electoral mandate that sick, dangerous, unprincipled traitor Democrats are trying to unethically overturn using a fake, illegitimate, illegal, foul-smelling, inferiority complex-fueled, insane, corrupt, conspiracy-based partisan impeachment:

According to the final tallies, Trump won Pennsylvania by 0.7 percentage points (44,292 votes), Wisconsin by 0.7 points (22,748 votes), Michigan by 0.2 points (10,704 votes). If Clinton had won all three states, she would have won the Electoral College 278 to 260.

These figures, and that stunning second sentence, are from the conservative weekly rag Washington Examiner which recently wrote that impeachment has caused Trump’s popularity to soar to 48% and cites a poll showing he beats each and every one of the Democrats in 2020 with the exception of Bernie.   They have Bernie beating Trump 50-49, which they point out is well within the margin of error.   Everybody else, Trump whips handily, according to the trusty Washington Examiner.

I’ve seen the same numbers (the 2016 margins) in more reputable sources, but even these John Birch assholes report the accurate, paper thin margin of Electoral College victory, which calculates to a margin of 0.000609375% of the 136,000,000 votes cast in 2016.   Trump won Florida by a whopping 1.2 percent, six times his margin in Michigan.

Build that wall!   Build that wall!!!

 

[1]   the skinny on Viktor Yanukovych:

In February 2014, Ukraine appeared to be on the brink of civil war, as violent clashes between protesters and special police forces led to many deaths and injuries.[12][13][14] On 21 February 2014, Yanukovych claimed that, after lengthy discussions, he had reached an agreement with the opposition.[15] Later that day, however, he left the capital for Kharkiv, saying his car was shot at as he left Kyiv, and travelling next to Crimea, and eventually to exile in southern Russia.[16]

On 22 February, the Ukrainian parliament voted to remove him from his post, on the grounds that he was unable to fulfill his duties.[17] Parliament set 25 May as the date for the special election to select his replacement,[17][18][19][20] and, two days later, issued a warrant for his arrest, accusing him of “mass killing of civilians.”[21] After his departure, Yanukovych conducted several press conferences. In one of these, he declared himself to remain “the legitimate head of the Ukrainian state elected in a free vote by Ukrainian citizens”.[22] On 18 June 2015, Yanukovych was officially deprived of the title of President of Ukraine by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.[23] On 24 January 2019, he was sentenced in absentia to thirteen years’ imprisonment for high treason by a Ukrainian court.[24]

Fucking Bagpiper Strikes Again

I had hesitated to post this bit I wrote the other day, because, you know, we’re all overdosed on the inescapable partisan poison, the piece could seem to put my Catholic brothers and sisters in a bad light (because of a few supremely ‘bad apples’) and everyone knows what a shameless, smug, provocative contrarian piece of shit Trump’s personal AG is — so, I decided to leave it be.  

Then I heard Barr’s comments today about “communities” (black and brown people) having to show more “respect” for law enforcement or they’d find police turning their backs on them when police protection was needed.   You have to love the way this self-righteous pig-faced fuck just continues doubling down in his righteous assholishness, tirelessly carrying the president’s piss bucket, including, it now appears, POTUS’s  most racist urine (which is champagne to some of the finest in his 39% base).  

Barr tells an audience of law enforcement officials that  THEY (complaining urban communities of brown people) have to show “more respect” to police or the ungrateful bastards will “find themselves without the police protection they need”.  You don’t have to read between the lines here:

“They have to start showing more than they do – the respect and support that law enforcement deserves,” Barr said. “And if communities don’t give that support and respect, they might find themselves without the police protection they need.”

 Read all about it.

So, yeah, fuck that fawning lapdog of American autocrats.  Here’s the post.

Once again, as before his cunningly orchestrated slow-motion release of the “exonerating” Mueller Report, AG Bagpiper Bill Barr gets out in front of a DOJ report on an investigation to impose his counterfactual spin on it for the sharply divided public.   He initiated a criminal investigation into partisan traitors in Obama’s DOJ who allegedly used the infamous Steele Dossier as a pretext to launch a campaign of illegal “spying” on candidate Trump and after his election started a baseless partisan witch hunt against the innocent president-elect.   The new report, apparently, does not confirm this anti-Trump conspiracy.   Barr comes out swinging, a week before he releases the report, giving a spin that will dominate and muddy the public discussion until the conspiracy-debunking report is released and long afterwards.   FOX will have the AG’s Trump-vindicating soundbites to play to Trump’s beloved low-information voters through the 2020 election.

Barr is a partisan, a reactionary and a shameless front man for a shameless president.   A conservative religious Catholic who went to all the finest private schools (he graduated from Roy Cohn’s alma mater, Horace Mann), during a time when radical social changes were being demanded by organized activists, he was raised by a father who seethed against the erosion of morality.  As reported recently in the Vanity Fair piece about Barr and his father Donald Barr, Bagpiper’s beloved father Donald used his influence as imperious headmaster of the Dalton School to energetically, sometimes unscrupulously, fight the winds of social change blowing in the late 1960s.  The elder Barr hated the pot smoking, libertine young anarchists irrationally intent on bringing down the system, trying to swing the pendulum away from discipline, class and tradition toward chaos.  Donald Barr was never shy about being a provocative right-wing  contrarian, even when it eventually cost him his job as headmaster at Dalton.  

Donald Barr’s son Bill apparently feels the same way as his tough as nails dad.  What we need is morality, good, old-fashioned Christian piety and a government led by a powerful and unchallengeable CEO who will do God’s will here on earth.  It continues to amaze me when a religious Christian endorses someone like Donald Trump in the name of Christ, though, really, at this point, why should it amaze anyone?     As a Jew, admittedly, I have only the most fleeting understanding of the teachings of Jesus.   I always thought Jesus’s message had to do with humility, modesty, protecting the weak, loving one’s neighbors, being eternally ready to forgive.  Then again, what the hell do I know about it?

Still, it’s hard not to notice, in addition to the many devout Evangelical defenders of the Flawed Vessel of God’s will that is Mr. Trump, the several prominent, very conservative Catholics who have risen to the top ranks of government under the magnificently Imperfect Orange Vessel.   We have the two Jesuit educated Georgetown Prep alumni Trump appointed to the Supreme Court, Messers Gorsuch and Kavanaugh.   We have Barr.  We have the incomparable Mick Mulvaney.   We have, it emerges, current lead White House counsel, Pat Cippolone, a Catholic so impressively pious he influenced Fox’s Laura Ingraham (Cippolone’s wife worked for Fox, that’s how they met) to convert to Catholicism.   Cippolone, we note, is a pitbull for the president, in the same league as blustering bulldog Barr.

God only knows why I am even writing this…

The Body Knows

In the same way that animals instantly know when a tsunami or other natural disaster is about to happen, and begin fleeing the soon-to-be killing zone, our bodies know many things before we are aware of them.

Years ago I watched my father bully his granddaughter, my niece.   She was about five, it was the evening before her birthday and my father asked her where she wanted to eat the next day to celebrate.  She told him and he shook his head.  No way.   When she tried to argue a case she shouldn’t have needed to argue, her grandfather cut her off with a smiling “you show me a girl who insists on going to Shells and I’ll show you a girl who doesn’t get the bike her grandparents bought for her.”  This bike, by the way, a sparkly little purple number with training wheels and girlish streamers coming out of the handlebars, long coveted by the birthday girl, had already been purchased.

The girl’s parents remained silent.  I tried to reassure my niece that we’d go wherever she wanted, but she ran upstairs crying.   A few minutes later, when I went up to say goodnight before heading back to where I was staying with my father, the bully, my niece smiled and pretended she was fine.   She’d been taught to do this and was already, at five, a master of the fake, but very ingratiating, smile.  I later learned that as soon as we left she ran into the bathroom and vomited.    She was 100% right to vomit.   She couldn’t have articulated, perhaps, the exact reason she was puking her guts out, but any observer of the scene with her mean grandfather and her silent parents could get a pretty good idea of what had upset her so much.  Her body had no hesitation to vividly express her feelings for her.

Five or six weeks ago I pushed myself a little too hard on a nine mile hike that, with my arthritic knees, was a little too strenuous.   The hike was beautiful and painless, except for the steep, rocky descent and climb back up which were very painful for my knees (the descent had been particularly excruciating).  I needed to rest after the climb, as I’ve learned to do periodically when walking, to take the stress off my knees for a few minutes, but my fellow hikers, none of whom have arthritis, continued happily on and I grimly struggled to catch up over those last few miles.  

I felt fine after the hike and woke up the next day, after a long sleep, feeling fine. That evening, in the car, I suddenly found myself unable to speak.   The sounds I made were the incomprehensible sounds of nonfluent aphasia.   One syllable expletives, expressing my frustration at not being able to speak, were about the only intelligible things I could get out.  

By the time we got to the ER, a few minutes later, my episode of transient nonfluent aphasia was over.  I was able to explain exactly what I’d experienced during those twelve to fifteen minutes of not being able to speak.   Sekhnet reminded me, in telling the doctors, that I’d maintained my ability to say “fuck” and “shit” and things like that.   I was rushed through several tests to rule out an ongoing stroke and determine the severity of this TIA, transient ischemic attack or mini-stroke.   None of the tests showed any reason to keep me in the hospital, I felt fine, my blood pressure and heart rate were normal.   They gave me a pill to take, an anti-coagulant called Plavix (clopidogrel to you and me) that is apparently part of the post-stroke protocol.   I swallowed the first dose in the ER, as instructed, and filled a prescription for the drug the following day, as I found a neurologist to follow up with.

Before it was time to take my second dose of clopidogrel (where do they get these names?) I had dinner and went for my customary walk.   About a mile from the house I suddenly experienced severe abdominal cramps.   I stopped and waited for the rumbling to pass, googling the side effects of clopidogrel (prominent among them were bloating, cramps and diarrhea), and, in the moment that followed, learned the terrible truth of the cliche about when you’re old never pass a bathroom and never trust a fart.  I have long understood the first part of that adage, and I live by it.  The wisdom of that odd bit about never trusting a fart suddenly became clear to me for the first time.

The back of my pants suddenly felt damp and, I’ll be damned, there was a little wet spot,  quickly becoming a cold wet spot.  I shook off my horror and headed home in mounting discomfort, my intestines groaning as I made my way through the residential neighborhood I walk in, where, I thought ruefully, every house I passed has several bathrooms.  As I got close to the house I called Sekhnet in panic, telling her to unlock the door and clear the path to the bathroom.  It was one of the most terrible miles I’ve ever walked.  Arriving at home at last, I pulled open the unlocked door, climbed the first step, and as my foot hit the second, learned the sinister Latin meaning of Plavix:  “explosive diarrhea while walking”.

The neurologist I consulted told me to discontinue the aptly named clopidogrel and I did.  The trauma to my excretory system persisted, day after day, week after week.  Clopidogrel had apparently ripped the hell out of my insides.   This side effect is only experienced by a statistically very small number of patients, and there appears to be no lawsuit related to it among the many against the makers of the drug for several other terrible, even deadly, side-effects.   If I’d had a serious stroke or heart attack, most doctors would have insisted I take this drug.  For a suspected mini-stroke, the protocol apparently requires it.   But it’s some fucked up shit if you fall into that statistically insignificant category who get 100% of side effect number 26, I can tell you from hard personal experience.

As the sudden spasms in my colon continued, punctuated by stirring episodes of what can only be described as a spastic colon, I began a liquid diet.  After 48 hours without solid food, the spasms eventually subsided.   I cautiously began introducing solid foods, noting on paper what I was eating every day.  Brown rice was fine, so were carrots, oddly enough and popcorn, steel cut oatmeal and whole wheat bagels were fine, even with tofu spread, tofu was also fine, persimmons and grapes were OK, raisins immediately brought back all of the symptoms.  

This has been an ongoing dance since October 21.  It’s been improving slowly and by Thanksgiving I ate virtually everything (our host made everything vegan, except for the turkey), in moderate portions, and I was fine.   Even the fine scotch went down without any problem.  I figured I was finally OK again.    Last night, throwing yer proverbial caution to the proverbial wind, I ate a normal dinner with friends, celebrating Sekhnet.  A few hours later my colon announced, with an unmistakable lack of ambiguity, that I’d once again be paying certain prices for my imprudence.

It occurred to me the other day that my colon is absolutely right to be freaking out, roiling and lashing out spastically.  

I follow the news closely and even do a little side reading to get some of the backstories.   The most recent post here, for example, is about the little side story that 3/5 of the president’s original campaign brain trust are now convicted felons.   The fourth was fired early on and was not directly implicated in any improprieties or illegal acts.   The fifth, a pugnacious, crew-cutted twat who should have been held in contempt of Congress for his open contempt, started a lucrative lobbying business across the street from the White House with direct, friendly, personal access to the most “transactional” president in history.   Presumably he is now very wealthy– and loyal to his president beyond question.

The Democrats, we hear, are reluctant to bring the damning conclusions of the Mueller Report (based on specific sworn testimony) into Trump’s impeachment.   (My colon tightens slightly as I write these sentences).  Their reasons for this are practical.  They cannot prove, without sworn testimony from those same witnesses, that the president engaged in the pattern of obstruction Mueller laid out because — the president continues to obstruct access to all fact witnesses who testified to Mueller under oath and all related documents.  It could take more than a year for the Supreme Court to rule on the constitutionality of the president’s clearly obstructive behavior.  (An abdominal sonogram ruled out an obstruction in my digestive system, by the way).

This ongoing obstruction by Trump and his myrmidons continues the pattern of the president’s successful obstruction of the original investigation into his campaign’s collusion in massive Russian interference in the 2016 election.  Trump interfered enough, by continually denouncing the “witch hunt” “hoax”, refusing to cooperate, giving “inadequate” evasive, lawyerly written answers and intimidating, praising and floating pardons to witnesses, to ensure that the investigation produced “insufficient evidence” of criminal activities, though Mueller’s report also, explicitly, if almost silently, did not exonerate him of the crime of obstruction of justice.   Mueller’s investigation also put several of Trump’s closest associates (3 of the 5 originals) in prison for felonies related to this obstruction.

My gut correctly points out that it is not intemperate, nor hyperbole, to call the aggressive, diehard, fact-denying followers of Mr. Trump Nazis.   Nazi officials under Mr. Hitler were supremely ambitious men guided by only one principle: das Führerprinzip, the “leader principle” [1].   This meant their supreme duty was loyal, absolute obedience to the will of their leader, their Führer.  As Nazis themselves would put it, even the fine, decent Nazis our president praised after their march in Charlottesville: Führerworte haben Gesetzkraft — the leader’s words have the force of law.   Keep repeating any theory Trump spouts — that is the surest ticket to the leader’s approval and support.

Check out the party of Lincoln now, says my twisting colon.  It’s the party of Trump. We read that he now actually controls all the money the RNC raises, he decides which candidates get party funds for their campaigns and how much they get.   The party strongman is unprincipled, uncurious, viciously opinionated, vindictive, petty, cruel.   The perfect kind of man to blindly obey, if you are an ambitious Nazi.  When Nazis are ascendant, and “facts” no longer even exist, guys like me start getting the heebie jeebies.  So I don’t blame my guts at all for being in an uproar, even as I do my best to calm them.

I sip my broth and think about making a cup of tea.  Yes, my twitchy colon says, a little pineapple chamomile sounds about right.

 

 

{1]   The Führerprinzip [ˈfyːʀɐpʀɪnˌtsiːp] (About this soundlisten) (German for “leader principle”) prescribed the fundamental basis of political authority in the governmental structures of the Third Reich. This principle can be most succinctly understood to mean that “the Führers word is above all written law” and that governmental policies, decisions, and offices ought to work toward the realization of this end.[1] In actual political usage, it refers mainly to the practice of dictatorship within the ranks of a political party itself, and as such, it has become an earmark of political fascism.