A Fair Hearing — by a lynch mob

The worst part to a summary trial by a lynch mob has got to be the superior, mocking good cheer of everybody present in the moments before your inevitable death sentence, which has already been decided.   The sick feeling you have looking around at the smiles of the people about to cheer your execution must be what a tiny prey animal feels like when it’s being batted playfully between a cat’s paws.  Imagine that feeling of powerlessness seared into you by the satisfied smiles of the assembled sadists and voyeurs, before the actual sadism of the deliberately painful execution starts, as the leaders of the lynch mob make their cruel jokes at your expense.  What the fuck are they laughing about?  you must think, as they begin cutting your fingers off in preparation for the fiery grand finale of the lynching.   What indeed are they laughing about?    

I have had many opportunities to ponder this lately.  SAD!   I keep thinking of Judge Martha Kavanaugh’s now famous rule for a judge, the one she taught her choir boy son:  use your common sense, what rings true?  what rings false?  If you apply this rule, most of what passes as legitimate process in Trump’s Washington D.C. doesn’t pass the smell test.  Of course, this is a partisan statement, made by a hater, a loser, someone jealous that a young genius could be given a tiny million dollar loan from his father and parlay that into countless billions in personal wealth and then the world’s most powerful office.   OK, perhaps he exaggerated a little, maybe the small loan was more like $60,000,000 (his lawyers are poring over the scandal rag NY Times hit piece that laid out their detailed lies about their client’s mere puffery, there must be some grounds to sue those fucks…) but that’s fake news for you, folks.   The failing NY Times, am I right?  Am I right?

I have to say, applying Martha Kavanaugh’s test– a very unfair test, by the way, very unfair– the woman sent by Bill and Hillary Clinton, Oprah and George Soros to destroy a good man, a pious and even saintly man, rang a little bell of truth when she said that she clearly remembers the laughter of the two drunken older boys who had locked her in that upstairs bedroom and turned the music up when she started protesting.  That particular detail rings true (which is undoubtedly why Soros and the Clintons wrote the line for her).   Two drunken prep schools boys would laugh after one of them forced himself on to a young woman, held his hand over her mouth, to scare the crap out of her, at minimum.

When you get a trial from a lynch mob it’s got to be quick.  That’s the main feature, the extremely speedy trial.  The speed of that trial is blinding because there is no need for cross-examination, testimony, investigation, motions, objections, evidence, doubt, remarks from the judge, pointless discussions about so-called justice.  Justice is we get to kill this guilty fuck. Or, in other cases, justice is we have a 51-49 majority so we win– whatever you might think, whatever millions in the streets might think, whatever the mothers and fathers of every fifteen year-old girl in the country might think.

But here’s the funny part about all that, if we can take a brief break for a bit of levity and a raspy laugh, the mothers and fathers of at least 40% of the millions of American fifteen year-old girls believe that their daughters would never, under any circumstances, drink a beer in a house where the adults were gone, with a bunch of already drunk seventeen year-old guys and only one other girl there.   Inconceivable, you understand?  Our daughter is not a little slut!   If we ever found out she is, we’d beat the fuck out of her– with sanctions I mean, sanctions:  we’d ground her, take away her allowance, force her to come to church with us every Sunday.  If this supposed assault really happened, why didn’t the girl tell her parents and take her punishment like a man?  You see?  You see how we know she’s a fucking liar!

The beauty of a quick trial, from the point of view of a lynch mob, is that so-called good Samaritans don’t get a chance to self-righteously ride up on their white horses and call time out.  Even the people in the crowd, laughing and smirking, if their blood had a chance to cool down, and an appeal was made to their consciences, if other facts were brought out, might not be cheering when we took this sick bastard to pieces before we hung him over a fire and roasted his guilty ass.  Do you see the point of a speedy trial?  It’s in the Constitution!

I heard a discussion between investigative journalists recently, talking about their investigations.   They all agreed that the most important single element of an investigation is time.   The kiss of death, as far as truth emerging fully, is an arbitrary time limit imposed on the investigation.  It takes time to talk to enough people, to find enough corroborating evidence, to come to publishable conclusions.   If you write an investigative piece you need to have multiple sources for your reporting.   Finding and interviewing them, and carefully checking out their stories, takes time.   Before the investigative report is published it will be critically read by a team, including lawyers, who will challenge every detail, make sure the piece contains no uncorroborated speculation that could lead to a lawsuit for defamation.  All of these things, the investigation, the vetting of every source, confirming the accuracy of the report based on the sources and other evidence, take time to do properly.  

Which is exactly why a lynch mob has to act quickly, while they have the moral hot hand.   We’re going to give this fuck a fair trial and then, before any bleeding heart bullshit artist outside troublemakers can start making a stink, we’re going to lift him up by his neck and watch his feet kick, which is exactly what he deserves, good ladies and gentlemen of the jury.

As far as the president being a liar– well, everyone knew that when he was running for office.  He’s honest about the fact that he’s a liar– he makes no attempt to hide it, which makes him very truthful, in a way.   He’s lying because he’s up against liars, you understand, he’s lying for us!   His lawyers threatened to sue the NY Times for their vicious hit piece on him and they are going to sue the lying NY Times and put them out of business, watch.   Just because he’s lying doesn’t mean they are not much worse liars than him, much worse liars.  

You’re giving me a headache.  

As for me, I have just one question– where are the people who are supposed to have the president’s back about his hair?   They’re photographing him from his bald side now, those lying fucks?


Fairness is Justice, Justice is Fairness

Admittedly, this simple formulation must be turned on its head by those who stand to gain the most by unfairness being justice.   This is done at law all the time, rules written in coordination with lobbyists, made to preserve privilege, profit, protect the rights of the privileged, at the expense of those without privilege or power.  It happens too regularly to need to give an example of.  Call it unfair if you like, there is nothing you can do about it.  

Fairness demands, to use a quaint phrase, that a victim who comes reluctantly forward, in terror, to publicly describe a traumatic assault by a nominee for high public office she identifies with absolute certainty as the perpetrator, and does so believably, be given a real opportunity to be heard.   This would include, of course, testimony from witnesses who she says were present.   The key to finding the truth in any he said/she said is corroboration.  As long as no hint of corroboration is allowed, it’s always a draw.   Every schoolyard bully knows this at age six.   In he said/she said tie goes to the bully.

Justice, if you control the hearing, even with a one vote majority (especially with a one vote majority) demands that the other alleged perpetrator, an admitted former teenaged drunkard and self-described frustrated sex fiend NOT be allowed to testify.  What could be gained, besides making our evasive choir boy look more dishonest than he already does, by putting an alcoholic, currently in hiding, a loose cannon with shaky credibility before the American people, on worldwide TV?   Better, far better, to have that jerk’s lawyer write a sworn denial and spend millions on an ad campaign to convince the world, without ever saying the bitch accuser lied about anything– we’re very careful to say she was believable as hell — we give her full respect — we are powerful white men who always respect women, always — that our boy is of the highest moral character.  Always was, always will be.   Simple.

The same goes for the female friend who the victim says was at the gathering.  She doesn’t remember the actual insignificant early evening hang out at a friend’s house when her friend was silently traumatized.  She has no reason to recall that particular gathering.   She heard no screams, obviously, since that would have been impossible with the attacker’s sweaty hand pressed over the victim’s mouth, but she can testify about the people involved, where they each lived.  She believes her friend, as she stated, and she can tell us why.

Out of the question, obviously!   This woman, if she is as credible as her friend, could do immense damage.  Just by talking about other parties with drunk, entitled boys from Georgetown Prep, by letting any detail slip that might make her belief in her friend’s story more credible.  It would be corroboration.  No, no, a thousand times no!!!

That goes to for the FBI investigation too.  Suppose the layout of Mark Judge’s house was identical to the one described in Blasey Ford’s testimony?  The upstairs bathroom, directly across from the bedroom she was shoved into, door locked, in the moments before both drunken boys were laughing uncontrollably.   Suppose that home was a short walk from the country club where the victim had practiced diving all day?   A short walk from the club but too far from her own home to walk back.   Well, there’s a line of inquiry the FBI will not be asking anyone about, clearly!

I heard Senator Susan Collins long speech yesterday, most of it, about why she is voting for Brett Kavanaugh.   She spent a long time discussing specific cases where he appears to have ruled fairly, with integrity.  She pointed out that in more than 90% of cases that he heard with Merrick Garland, the two ruled the same way.   To me that pointed more to Obama’s attempt at fairness, nominating the conservative, yet non-ideological Garland, than to any impartiality on Kavanaugh’s part.

Collins eventually addressed the sexual assault allegations against the nominee.  She said, along with all other Republicans who spoke on the matter, that she believed Christine Blasey Ford, but that, essentially, it makes no difference, since there was no corroboration and there’s a presumption of innocence, (particularly, one supposes, when a powerful man breaks down crying over and over and is clearly angry, defensive and on the attack.)  Collins pretended, like all of her Republican colleagues, that this was a criminal trial rather than a hearing about the truthfulness and character of a nominee for one of the most powerful positions in our democracy.  Since his guilt could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt by the single witness, he is presumed to be completely innocent, by Republicans.  End of story, for the narrow Republican majority.

Senator Collins  sounded very reasonable, very measured, as she spoke about the principles of fairness, due process, the presumption of innocence in our great democracy.  To the uninformed, to the non-critical, she sounded very principled.   She made her decision, ultimately, because her own party would destroy her if she voted the other way.    Senator Lisa Murkowski was ready to take that risk, though in the end she got to oppose the nomination without actually voting against it.  Her NO vote would have been meaningless in any case in a 50-48 vote.   Collins was not ready to risk her political career, and explained why it was actually a matter of principle,  rather lamely.   The Democratic senator from West Virginia, where Trump won so handily in 2016, was not disposed to end his senatorial career by casting a principled vote defying the president’s will.   The vacillating Jeff Flake revealed himself as the unprincipled man he is.

There you go, the Kochtopus rests its case, government is inherently corrupt, democracy is coercive and unfair to the wealthiest and most vulnerable to deprivation of liberty — don’t vote for any of these fucks, let us, the best and the brightest, take care of public policy.

Fairness is justice, except, of course, when it’s not, when higher principles than mere fairness are at stake.  Principles like power, control, liberty. The liberty of the few, born booted and spurred (in the phrase the Author of Liberty borrowed from a man about to be hanged in England a century earlier) to ride the backs of the rest of you powerless motherfuckers must not be infringed.  We, we powerless motherfuckers.  


Lindsay Graham is a Detestable, Stinking Sphincter

Lindsay Graham’s giddy playfulness right after the hurried 11-10 vote to send the Kavanaugh nomination to the full Senate told everything one might want to know about Kavanaugh and the Republicans and their plans to ram him through, unrepentant rapist style.   

No concessions were made by the men with the solid one vote majority, outside of one of them saying he might could … you know, vote against the nominee if they don’t do a quick FBI investigation before the vote.   He could do that, might could.   If Mitch McConnell suddenly grows a moral self, if Donald J. Trump decides to do the fair thing (right after my brother-in-law the hunchback straightens up)  (remember who these two moral black holes are)– then … ha, just kidding.   Vote Monday!

Graham, a prissy single white southern man if there ever was one, went from screaming and hissing in fury about the unfairness of investigating a man credibly accused of very bad behavior, to outright playfulness with members of the lying media, smiling, happy, excited puppy dog — all in less than a day.  All it took was an 11-10 party line vote to send Kavanaugh’s name to the body that will actually confirm him, his God willing, 51-49.

As for emotional Lindsay, he stinks a mile, as my grandmother would say. 

The United States of Brazenness

The trait that has surged out of control in recent years, the one, above the rest, that makes people angry enough to punch each other now in the land of the free and the home of the brave, is brazenness.   You say I’m disrespectful?  How about I stare you down and punch you in the fucking face, is that disrespectful enough for you, ass wipe?

You see it on TV all the time in our violent, brazen culture.  Years ago a football player who did an in-your-fucking-face victory dance in the end zone would be carried out on a stretcher the next time he came on to the field.   The players would all be stone-faced about the accident that dislocated his leg, but the message would be delivered.  Don’t be a fucking hotdog.

Now we are Hotdog Nation.  If you don’t boast, brag, celebrate every small triumph, it is taken as a sign of weakness.   Humility is now widely regarded as a vice of the timid and a badge of inferiority here in Hotdog Nation.   If there are two widely hated political rivals vying for an important post, the one who rubs the other one’s nose in their excrement, not the one who takes what used to be called the moral high road, will most often be elected.  Brazenness pays.  Ask President Brazen.

And so it is with all of the unfairly maligned men in the president’s orbit.  If some bitch accuses you of doing, whatever, say it’s only something as innocent as good-naturedly lying on top of somebody, while both of you are drunk, and trying to cop a few innocent feels, you do what needs to be done.  You attack.  Go for the fucking face, punch, kick– if you can get your foot up in their face, that’s the best.  Why dirty your hands on a lying bitch if you can Bruce Lee her in the face a few times?   She won’t be talking shit so easily after a few good socks in the face, will she?   Death threats are good, if you’re really out there, there are risks, you know, but the threat of a lawsuit is often just as good as a death threat.   Most people will fold like a flimsy origami bird when the process server hands them the legal papers.

Of course, a long time rabid Republican operative, active during the Newt Gingrich revolution against that liar about a blow-job Bill Clinton, who ran into battle screaming, writing furious, secret memos to his boss Kenneth Starr, and later for Bush and Cheney, after being at the legal front of the mob of right wing lawyers who ensured that Mr. Bush’s chance to be president would not be harmed by a full recount of contested votes, well, a man with those credentials needs no lessons in brazenness.  Still, Mr. Kavanaugh is an impressive specimen of brazenness, as he must be to do what he does.

What he does is stand there and stink.

We don’t know if the now two women who have reluctantly come forward with allegations of long ago sexual assault, amid death threats for the first and blanket denials from most people contacted in the case of the second,  are 100% credible.   That is why the accusers themselves are calling for an FBI investigation, since otherwise partisan witnesses tend not to lie to the FBI the way they might when asked to sign a letter, or are questioned by a journalist who irrationally hates the president.   We do know that, while impressively brazen, the barrage of denials from the White House and the nominee are mostly a fine spray of aerosolized pig feces, mixed with urine and blood.   There is a reason for this.  

When we create bacon, ham, pork chops and all those delicious things made from pigs, it takes a certain amount of time to get the little suckers good and fat.   Nothing hard to understand about that, right?  While we are growing them big and delicious, they have to make.  They make every day, a few times a day.   There might be a hundred thousand pigs, or more, at any given time, in a decent sized pork facility.   What do you do with all that disgusting stuff they make when they’re alive– and with the inedible bi-products they leave behind when they are turned into delicious cuts of meat?   You make a lake, and dig it deep, if you have any plans to be in business for a while.  No matter how deep you dig it, if you are successful, you will need to start getting rid of some of that mixture of urine, excrement, blood and pus from infections.   Otherwise, it will overflow, obviously, and cause disgusting problems.   A problem: an opportunity to be creative.

So here’s what you do: you stick a pump into the bottom of this stinking muck, connected to a hose with a spray nozzle.   I don’t know the science, exactly, but you get the pump going, raise the hose high into the air and turn the nozzle of that hose on.  A very fine spray, the finest spray, of whatever you want to call that stuff, can be sprayed high into the air, lowering the level in the lake.  That’s what we do anywhere there is a lake of pig waste.  

The mist falls on the poor, the only people who would be stupid enough to live near an industrial pig farm.   The stink of those farms is unforgettable, if you’ve ever driven past them with the windows up, trying to hold your breath, you will never forget the stench.   Poor people have to get used to it.  As soon as they see that plume of spray going up into the air over their homes, the smart ones stay inside and make sure all the windows are shut tight.  There are always some, of course, who walk outside and get soaked with the stuff.  That’s because there are winners and losers.

Winners gloat, and losers suck it.  Call it brazen if you like, the attitude of entitlement on the faces of those of us who will never be stupid enough to walk in a misty rain of pig waste, but would you rather be blinking away a mist of pig waste, or doing a victory dance, in a beautiful, tastefully furnished bathroom, every time you succeed in moving your bowels?  Doesn’t sound like much of a choice, does it?



Melancholia, Anyone?

Live with sorrows long enough and they will sometimes gather and swoop down in a wave of melancholia.   Allowing these sorrows to gather and swoop is something I have done since childhood.   It is familiar, somewhat understandable and without any terror to me at this point in my life.    I know the drill and accept it now, there is no sense fighting melancholia.   It has its seasons.  It is best just to slowly go with it, it arrives to make you consider your life a bit.

The semi-hollow body electric guitar you love to play, with that genius little looper that allows you to stomp, play, stomp, play along with your first track, stomp, add a second track, has no appeal when melancholia descends.   “Fuck it, maybe later,” you think to yourself, passing the guitar and looper on your way upstairs to tap these words.

There are cures for melancholia, of course.   You needn’t passively suffer from the blues, blues you don’t even have the energy to play or sing.   You can call a friend, if you have one.   The world is less lonely when you are talking to a friend.   You can go for a walk, or a bike ride, though your mood will accompany you, at least for the first part.   You can go shopping.  It’s what we’ve been taught since childhood, buying something new will cheer you up.  It works for millions of happy consumers everywhere, even if what you buy soon turns out to be crap.   You can read a book, watch TV (and we are in a renaissance of television at the moment), devour content in dozens of electronic forms. You can distract yourself until the cows come home, and when the cows get home, you can distract yourself some more.  It’s called entertainment, be entertained.   Yo, there are also anodynes, many of them handy, like eating something tasty, though the relief of that is momentary at best.

It doesn’t take melancholia to make you notice the brutality of the set up. We are told that statistically the odds of being killed by somebody else have never been lower in human history, unless you live in one of the many dangerous killing spots currently smoldering on the earth.  Of course, the odds of dying by your own hand, intentionally or inadvertently, have never been higher, are actually, for the first time in human history, more likely than your odds of being killed by somebody else, but that too is just a statistic, you dig.   We may, arguably, have a suicide epidemic in the greatest country, the most exceptional nation, the world has ever known.  Add the more than 72,000 overdose deaths from opioids last year to the tens of thousands accomplished by Second Amendment enthusiasts with their instrument of choice, add in drunk driving deaths, and murders by car, your goddamned vehicular homicides, and you start to get an impressive number of dead Americans.   We don’t need to talk about these motherfuckers really, they are not only losers, but dead losers.

This notion of winner and loser is a sick one I should pick at a bit here, just because this idiotic worldview is at the source of so much human misery.   You are a winner at the moment you win the lottery, a matter of pure luck, just as you are a winner when your Nazi-loving father dies and leaves you $300,000,000, another kind of lottery, albeit one you have paid dearly for by having a Nazi as a father.   Still, these are momentary victories, like every win is.  

That is the key thing: winning and losing are happening constantly in every life.  They go by other names, good luck and bad luck, providence and accursedness, good randomness vs. bad randomness.  Work is involved, of course, in preparing for victory.  I don’t discount the amount of hard work necessary to win a competition, nor do I necessarily shrink from it.   The thing I want to get across here is that winning and losing are relative and transitory, think about it even for two seconds and you will grasp that piece too.

The greatest baseball players in history, in their greatest all-time record-setting seasons, lost 60% of the time they went to bat. [1]   They were out more times than they succeeded.  An impressive majority of the time they were losers.  A 40% success rate, for Shoeless Joe Jackson, Rogers Hornsby, Ty Cobb, Ted Williams, was a season for the ages, a .400 season.  A small handful of historically elite players have ever achieved that.   Babe Ruth, the greatest hitter of them all, by many estimations,  made it to a personal best of .393 one year.   Anyone hitting .350 today is having a season for the ages, but still– losing more than they are winning.     Winning is a relative term, unless you understand this you are a loser.   Even if you understand it, you are still a loser, as often as you are a “winner”.

We’re told there is an attitude that winners have, an ineffable quality that makes them winners.  I think of the greatest American exemplar of winning, a man who has won every contest he has been involved in (by his account, anyway), including the greatest prize for an American winner, the presidency of the United States.   Being the world’s greatest winner means that you have conquered the game, are at the top of your game, on top of the world.   No reason to be angry, or peevish, oversensitive or insanely needy — you’re a great winner and therefore happy in a way a loser will never be.  

Still, check the man out.   Five a.m. rage tweets lashing out at the unfairness of his envious, unfair persecutors,  an inability to be truthful except in rare, unscripted moments (“I could shoot somebody on Fifth Avenue and these gullible morons would still support me”) a life of manifest unhappiness and gnawing insecurity, behind a gaudy front of blustering compensatory over-confidence, for the world’s greatest winner.  What’s up with that?  You want to be a winner like him?  Go for it.  Start with choosing the right dad.

The winner/loser game has one measuring stick: wealth.  If you are rich you have won.  Except, of course, that there are always other motherfuckers richer than you (some have vast, interest generating hereditary wealth, going back generations), which is a goad and a motivation.   Being filthy rich is no longer enough, to be a real winner you have to be richer than Jesus Christ and his father combined.   The Greeks used to have myths about foolish humans sucked into this thing called hubris.  The insatiably greedy Midas got the gold touch, and that was the end of him.   His food turned to gold, when he wiped his ass that turned to gold.  He was done.  [2]  The Midas touch, which we think of as the gold standard of good luck, turns out to be one of the more clever curses of the gods.  I always loved the Yiddish curse:  may you be very successful in business, may you become very rich and build a mansion of a hundred rooms — and may the devil chase you from room to room.

Of course, I am a bitter man, melancholic today or not.  I tend to think of winners like the fucking Sackler family, several generations of doctors who have evolved into a clan of fabulously wealthy drug pushers under the corporate name Perdue Pharmaceuticals.   It turns out they researched which areas of this great country were most plagued by drug abuse, specifically opioid abuse.   They targeted these ravaged, hopeless areas where despair was rampant and options few, coal mining country, rust belt, foreclosed farm communities, etc., with trained doctors, nurses and pharmaceutical reps claiming that their patented product, Oxycontin, had an “exquisitely rare” chance of addiction “less than 1%” (a number they pulled out of their collective, corporate asses).   The Sacklers made billions upon billions marketing this highly addictive patent protected anodyne poison to America’s most desperate while addiction and overdose deaths predictably sky-rocketed.   Winners vs. losers, yo.

Civil suit after civil suit against Perdue Pharma resulted in nothing but wasted legal fees and shrugs all around, and anger and despair for the loved ones of those now dead from the exquisitely well-marketed opioid.   You can’t prove the lying corporation killed your boy, ma’am, nor can you make them pay you shit for his death.   It was the drug addict’s own damned fault, after all.   Nobody held a gun to his dumb head and forced him to overdose.  De minimis non curat lex, sir.

The U.S. Attorney in Virginia finally brought a criminal case against Perdue Pharma.  In 2007, after a series of negotiations (pre-dementia Rudy Giuliani was brought in to do his magic for Perdue) the parties agreed to a plea deal where the corporation, charged with a series of felonies, pleaded guilty to the single felony of “criminal misbranding” a crime that had been committed continuously for six or seven years by then.   Three executives took misdemeanor charges.  Justice was done, as well as it ever is done to extremely wealthy malefactors.

In a nation that was not insanely racing against death by trying to acquire everything in sight, and blindly worshipping those who can,  this would not appear to be a reasonable, fair or just outcome.   At the very least this gigantic corporate drug dealer, after “criminally misbranding” its deadly anodyne and profiting obscenely from its crime, with deadly consequences for hundreds of thousands (and counting), would have to lay out the cash to set up rehab and treatment centers in every area they had targeted to sell their lucrative, criminally mislabeled product.   That’s not how it works in the land of winners and losers.   We don’t punish the powerful here.   What kind of message does that send?   We punish the weak, send them to private, for-profit prisons.  They are losers anyway.  Yo, be serious!  Punishing losers equals corporate profits: win win!  

Not to say this hideous picture is all bad.  In the impoverished West Virginia town of 400 that received 9,000,000 tablets of Oxycontin one year, many were able to keep their noses just above poverty by selling the pills, which go for up to ten bucks a piece.  The free market, being free.

I am content with the things I own.  The guitar I love cost a few hundred dollars, a fraction of the price of the one the Chinese factory skillfully recreated.   I am a good enough guitarist that I “deserve” a guitar costing many times more.  I don’t need it.   Do you understand what I am saying?  Owning a $5,000 or $10,000 guitar would be lovely, sure, but I don’t need it.  Can you grasp that?   It is worthwhile to grasp a thing like that.  Otherwise, in the words of an ex’s Hindu guru, you are like a deer, dying of thirst as you chase a mirage of water.

Our failure here is a failure of imagination.   We fail to imagine the many real possibilities that would make the world a more decent and merciful place for all but the richest and most psychopathic among us.   We simply cannot imagine the great philanthropists of our age, the finest people, folks like the Sacklers, ever being held accountable for any crime they may or may not have committed.   “Criminal misbranding”, I mean, how bad a crime is that really, in the hierarchy of felonies?    It’s a fraud perpetrated deliberately year after year to the harm and death of tens of thousands, but it has to been seen in context.    The Sacklers donate wings to museums, they endow professorships, they are culturally generous with their billions.   The men who paid themselves a record $135 billion in compensation in 2009 after almost causing the second worldwide Great Depression by their systemic, highly lucrative, fraud, same deal.   Does it really help anyone to put these kind of folks in prison?  Aren’t they really too big to jail?   Seriously, am I suggesting that such fine people deserve to be held accountable for the petty crimes they may, arguably, commit?  Unimaginable, the luxury prisons we’d have to construct to house such fine people.

Our failure of imagination, in this nation where we are trained from birth to be passive consumers,  makes us replace the universe of possibilities with the world we have in front of us.   You see, there is no way, in a free country, to make sure no children are raised in dire, hopeless, life crushing poverty because…. the Free Market.   Communism obviously failed, was put out of business and taken off the map by the only form of social organization that makes sense, that truly reflects human nature, Capitalism.    

We reduce many undreamed of possibilities to our famous imagination crushing false dichotomy.   If you hate Capitalism as it is practiced today, as it has always been practiced, then you are a Communist, by definition a discredited loser.  History proves how much you suck.   Winners win, losers whine, suckers walk.  Freedom is on the march.  Democracy equals capitalism, winning equals fabulous wealth, end of the story, boys and girls.  Koch Industries, sponsors of the NY Yankees, makes products you use and are dedicated to a level playing field where everyone has an equal opportunity.   They say so in their own ad.   Nothing else to see here.  Bird Wins [3].

This is a world of losers, friends, every one of whom will die without any hope of eternal, corporate style, life.   Losers with costive imaginations, hemmed in by mass-marketed external reality.   That’s a peevish and dumb way to put it, ‘costive’ being an old-fangled word for constipated.   Imaginings are not shit, of course, though they are constantly shit on.   Neither are they all good, some in fact, would benefit from not have been shitted out at all.  

We are led to imagine that all the problems in the world caused by runaway, unregulated capitalism are the fault of illegal aliens and refugees, poor people sneaking through our porous borders to rape and murder, while bringing illegal drugs in.   Many are, quite possibly, terrorists who hate our freedom.   Imagine that!   All of our problems, caused by those ruthless, relentless fucks, millions of them, lawlessly overrunning our once great nation like cockroaches.   At one time, even now in many parts of the world, in some of the best parts, the best parts, my people get the blame.  The fucking Jews.   If Hitler had finished his important work every ignorant racist fuck in the world would now be a king, once the goddamned colored people were dealt with the same way. It’s only a matter of will, of winning.  

Happy Labor Day, my hard laboring friends.   Get out there and take advantage of your day off and your freedom to save big at malls all over this great land.   They’re practically giving the wonderful stuff away.   Go, go, go!  If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to slouch over to my guitar and see what comes out.  [4]



[1] for the quibblers, sure, their On Base Percentage for those seasons, the times they walked added to the times they had base hits, means that these baseball immortals, in their greatest seasons for the ages, only lost maybe 50% of the time.   Call me pisher.  

[2]  OK, fine, the Greek myth makers gave greedy King Midas a reprieve and his story a laudable moral.   Ecstatic about his new gold touch he hugged his beloved daughter, she turned to gold and he broke down.   He begged the gods to take the curse away, and they did.  Midas lived a life of generosity when his touch stopped turning everything he loved into gold and died beloved of his people.

[3] Bird Wins was the title of a book I once tried to write.  The title referred to the flashing sign in the Chinatown Arcade on Mott Street, mercilessly announcing that the tic tac toe playing chicken had beaten its human opponent again.   The bird went first, and always played to thwart a victory.   I doubt anybody, ever, beat the goddamned chicken, though many probably tied.   Bird Wins stands in for all fixed games, rigged contests, manifest abuses of the gullible and earnest alike.  

[4]  I‘m So Tired, it turns out, by the fookin genius John Lennon.

Recuse me, Jeff

Granted that current Attorney General Jeff Sessions is one of the few judicial nominees in American history to be denied the position because of his racist past. [1]   He was nominated by Reagan and his nomination was voted down by a Republican-controlled Senate committee.   Can you imagine how racist you have to be in America to be denied a federal judgeship because of your racism?   It actually boggles the mind.

Still, Sessions behaved properly as Attorney General when he recused himself from an investigation into something he’d already denied his involvement in, and then had to amend his answer about, because of the clear appearance of impropriety.  That is the standard for recusal: an appearance of impropriety.    

It is a standard Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and their ilk routinely ignored while ruling on important partisan cases they or their families were intimately connected with (such as the 5-4 decision in the 2000 election case Bush v. Gore that stopped the recount in the close and disputed Florida presidential election).  Though the appearance of impropriety was strong, the involvement of Thomas’s wife and at least one of Scalia’s sons in the Bush campaign, they simply ignored the standard for recusal in order to cast deciding partisan votes.

When Scalia was asked why he hadn’t recused himself from a case involving Dick Cheney and the disastrous deregulation of energy on the west coast, even though he and Cheney had recently gone on a hunting trip together, Scalia answered: “I think it’s a sad day in America when Americans question the integrity of the Supreme Court.”    

The reporter was overmatched, she couldn’t manage to stammer, “I agree with you, Justice Scalia, it is a sad day.  But that is also not an answer to my simple question.  Given the appearance of impropriety raised by your personal relationship with VP Cheney, who recently took you hunting on Airforce Two, how do you justify not recusing yourself from the case involving Mr. Cheney?”   Scalia was slick, and not only that, had perfect SAT scores and never got less than an A in any course he ever took.   He didn’t even bother to refer to the highly applicable riddle “why does a dog lick his balls?”

Sessions behaving with integrity in recusing himself has apparently long infuriated his boss, the temper-tantrum prone man with the troubled psyche at whose pleasure Sessions serves.  On Fox yesterday, Sessions’s boss said this:

President Donald Trump: “Jeff Sessions recused himself, which he shouldn’t have done, or he should have told me. Even my enemies say that ‘Jeff Sessions should have told you that he was going to recuse himself, and then you wouldn’t have put him in.’ He took the job, and then he said, ’I’m going to recuse myself.’ I said, ‘What kind of man is this?’”

What kind of man?   A man who, in this instance, at least, is showing respect for the law and for the integrity of his office.  

The lackeys are already lining up behind their president, like the loyal servants of his will they are.   Can you listen to someone like Lindsey Graham without vomiting in your mouth a little?

All I can say is I agree with Scalia on this one.  It is a sad day in America.


[1] In the end, the Republican-controlled committee voted 10 to 8 to block Sessions’s nomination, with two Republicans joining Democrats to stop it from going forward to a full vote in the Senate. At the time, CNN calculated, Sessions was only the second nominee in 50 years to be denied by the Senate for a federal judgeship.


Nice quotes from Grover Norquist

Let me not understate the role that right wing mass media, Rupert Murdoch’s Fox news, Rush Limbaugh and company, played in red America’s angry rebellion against “liberal values.”   These right wing “pundents” (can you motherfuckers not pronounce the word ‘pundit’? — forget about its actual definition calling for expertise of some kind) [1] played a huge role, often working directly with Koch-funded groups like their foundation Americans for Prosperity and the spin-off of Citizens for a Sound Economy, Citizens for the Environment a group that declared acid rain and other pollution related concerns a “myth”.

As for how the Koch’s unpopular views overcame Obama’s great popularity to hamstring him for virtually all of his two term presidency, there was a distinct strategy involved.  Grover Norquist, a well-known conservative anti-government activist, spoke to Jane Mayer for her 2010 piece on the radical right influence machine.   He said the following mouthful:

Grover Norquist, who holds a weekly meeting for conservative leaders in Washington, including representatives from Americans for Prosperity, told me that last summer’s raucous rallies were pivotal in undermining Obama’s agenda. The Republican leadership in Congress, he said, “couldn’t have done it without August, when people went out on the streets. It discouraged deal-makers”—Republicans who might otherwise have worked constructively with Obama. Moreover, the appearance of growing public opposition to Obama affected corporate donors on K Street. “K Street is a three-billion-dollar weathervane,” Norquist said. “When Obama was strong, the Chamber of Commerce said, ‘We can work with the Obama Administration.’ But that changed when thousands of people went into the street and ‘terrorized’ congressmen. August is what changed it. Now that Obama is weak, people are getting tough.”

I’m no great fan of Obama’s, his obvious intelligence, dignity and excellent comedic timing aside, but still, the way this lynch mob of right wing extremists succeeded in hog-tying him was a disgraceful time in America.  The disgrace has continued, escalated, as the inmates have taken direct control of the asylum.   The most influential inmates, highly placed destructive incompetents like billionaire Secretary of Education Betsey DeVos, are very, very rich, but, somehow, no less insane.

Here is a digest of their political philosophy:

Many of the ideas propounded in the 1980 campaign presaged the Tea Party movement. Ed Clark told The Nation that libertarians were getting ready to stage “a very big tea party,” because people were “sick to death” of taxes. The Libertarian Party platform called for the abolition of the F.B.I. and the C.I.A., as well as of federal regulatory agencies, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Energy. The Party wanted to end Social Security, minimum-wage laws, gun control, and all personal and corporate income taxes; it proposed the legalization of prostitution, recreational drugs, and suicide. Government should be reduced to only one function: the protection of individual rights. William F. Buckley, Jr., a more traditional conservative, called the movement “Anarcho-Totalitarianism.”



[1]   pun·dit:   an expert in a particular subject or field who is frequently called on to give opinions about it to the public.

“a globe-trotting financial pundit”

synonyms:  expert, authority, specialist, doyen(ne), master, guru, sage, savant, maven

There is no grinding like the Law

The relevant rule governing “retirement” for purposes of not paying the biennial $375 dues:

(g) Each registration statement filed pursuant to this section shall be accompanied by a registration fee of $375. No fee shall be required from an attorney who certifies that he or she has retired from the practice of law. For purposes of this section, the “practice of law” shall mean the giving of legal advice or counsel to, or providing legal representation for, particular body or individual in a particular situation in either the public or private sector in the State of New York or elsewhere, it shall include the appearance as an attorney before any court or administrative agency. An attorney is “retired” from the practice of law when, other than the performance of legal services without compensation, he or she does not practice law in any respect and does not intend ever to engage in acts that constitute the practice of law. For purposes of section 468-a of the Judiciary Law, a full-time judge or justice of the Unified Court System of the State of New York or of a court of any other state or of a federal court, shall be deemed “retired” from the practice of law. An attorney in good standing, at least 55 years old and with at least 10 years experience, who participates without compensation in an approved pro bono legal services program, may enroll as an “attorney emeritus.”

and does not intend ever to engage in acts that constitute the practice of law.

Which suggests retirement is final and irreversible.   On that ground I paid my dues every two years, though I haven’t practiced law more than a few times in the last decade.  

I was told by a bright man at the Office of Court Administration that coming out of retirement is easily done.  It is a simple process, though, apparently, a secret one.   You request a Rescind Waiver Form, fill it out, submit it along with the full biennial dues for that period, and take one Continuing Legal Education credit for each month going forward.  A matter of a few weeks to come out of retirement, no problem.

I told him that I had no doubt about what he’d told me but that, as a lawyer, I needed something in writing to that effect.   This is because if I acted relying on a statement of the rules he sent me in writing, I’d have an excellent defense if it ever came to that.   He obliged by sending this email, which is not part of any rule or contained in any on-line guide one can access:

A link to the registration rules can be found here: www.nycourts.gov/rules/chiefadmin/118.shtml

NYS does not have an inactive status as may be available in other jurisdictions.

The retirement certification may only be claimed if you do not practice law in New York or elsewhere and do not intend ever to engage in acts that constitute the practice of law.  If you meet the definition you may sign the retirement exemption and the biennial registration fee of $375 is waived.  As a retired attorney you would remain a duly admitted NY attorney and there would be no bar to you filing on a future registration as active – additionally, Part 118.1(g) allows retired attorneys to continue to perform legal services without compensation.  Therefore, since you remain a duly admitted attorney you would still be required to register every two years.

and do not intend ever to engage in acts that constitute the practice of law.

The devil cavorts in the legal details, yo.   The road to hell is paved with good intentions, they say, including, I suppose, the intention never to engage in acts that constitute the practice of law.

Lynching in America

Terry Gross recently did a show on the new National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama, a museum that honors the “victims of lynching and racial terrorism in the U.S.”    The hideous subject of gruesome, racially motivated murders, usually involving prolonged torture,  is little discussed and even less often analyzed here in the land where it was long practiced.   The highly uncomfortable subject of lynching is usually treated, by those whose family members were never lynched, with the famous Obama formula of “looking forward, not back” on horrific American practices, though, of course, that is unfair to the first African-American (literally) president.  

Stalin, a man not known for his wit, is credited with the witty formulation:  the death of one man is a tragedy, the death of a million men, a statistic.  Thousands were lynched during a long reign of terror against the previously enslaved citizens of these great United States, but a look at just one lynching should suffice to drive the nature of this vicious tragedy home.  

Then consider the pompous blowhard fuckheads (racist fuckheads, by the way) who decade after decade thwarted any and all attempts to make lynching a federal crime.  The strutting, braying racists of today, men like America’s former Sheriff Joe “I Know the Law Better Than You, Fuckface, er, your Honor” Arpaio, are just an echo of those walking turds who considered themselves good men, American patriots.

I don’t mean to get all emotional about this subject, a subject which I have thought about many times over the last few years.  My feelings on the subject have been stirred in recent days by America’s collective nonchalance about our extensive, secret torture program directed against suspected Islamic terrorists, with the confirmation of a zealous, stonewalling torture advocate hanging by the votes of a few spineless politicians.    (See this one for more on Gina Haspel, the reality TV president’s pick for America’s Top Spook).

I recall my father telling me that not all lynchings were secret backwoods murders.  Some of them happened in broad daylight, before a cheering crowd of average Americans who brought a picnic lunch, and the kids, and afterwards bought souvenirs of the event, photos, dismembered body parts taken from the screaming victim.  Imagine that, if you can.

Google Jesse Washington (or simply click here), if you want to feel sick to your stomach about Making America Great Again.  A glance at the photo of his charred, mutilated corpse, toward the top of the linked entry, should suffice.  A glimpse of the photo of the vast crowd, pressing in from every direction to get a close look at the torture, will make your skin crawl.  

Jesse Washington was an illiterate teenaged farm hand, a black kid, accused of… whatever… probably making advances toward a white woman, nay, raping her, with his eyes if not his body– yeah, that’s it– he raped her — and then he murdered her!  Justice followed swiftly.  Within a week, after full due process as guaranteed by our Constitution, Jesse Washington was a burnt, mutilated husk of a corpse, on display for the roaring crowd. 

The record shows he was convicted of the rape and murder of the white woman he worked for, seven days after the white woman’s bludgeoned body was found.  He was convicted after a no doubt scrupulously fair hour long trial, found guilty of both crimes by a jury of his peers in Waco, Texas, 1916.  The jury deliberated for four minutes.  Washington apparently had confessed to the crimes and his inexperienced court-appointed lawyers attempted no defense.  In any event, there clearly would not be time for an appeal.

I note here that just as in the cases when police shoot unarmed blacks who later turn out to have criminal records of some kind, the fact of their record does not begin to justify the extrajudicial death sentence. You will hear gas bags argue that point, but… you know.   Even if Jesse Washington was guilty of the crimes he was convicted for, the punishment should never be left up to a lynch mob.  Although in Waco that day it was, with the law and order mayor, up for re-election, and police chief, standing aside.

An example was made of him as he was immediately dragged from the courthouse and thousands of righteous white people, up to half the population of the Texas town,  pressed forward in front of Waco City Hall, good Christians, their children on their shoulders, to watch him be publicly tortured to death over the course of two hours.  His death by torture lasted twice as long as the trial, imagine that.  

Jesse Washington’s fingers and genitals were chopped off.  The lack of fingers thwarted his attempts to climb the chains to get out of the bonfire he was lowered into.  He was burned a bit, raised back over the bonfire by the chains, lowered, burned slowly, piece by piece,  dismembered, burned some more, hung like a large strip of beef jerky, eventually dead.  His charred, armless body was chained to a wagon and dragged a few miles, to be hung up on display in the small town where the murder had taken place, as a lesson to everybody.

What is hard to understand about this terrorist act we blandly refer to as “lynching”?   It is unthinkable social barbarity of an unspeakably medieval variety.  The larger horror is that lynching is performed to keep the status quo humming along, to strengthen desired social norms.   It is a public demonstration, or equally effective as a private one people can wink about, of the prerogative of a group with the power to torture and kill anyone they target in a group without the power to do anything about it.  

How much real power did the white barber from Waco, Texas, his wife and three kids have as they stood in the sun among the 10,000 to 15,000 good citizens watching men roast, cut and hang Jesse Washington to death, children pry his teeth out to keep as souvenirs?   Not much.   But, goddamn, they sure had more power than that boy they were taking to pieces up front.   The satisfied face on one of the spectators, looking at the charred remains of Jesse Washington, says it all.   You can see the picture on the linked Wikipedia page. 

Here in America when we talk about terrorism it’s always the same one note samba: Al Queda, ISIS, fanatical militant Islamists who hate our freedom.  It is not a brave stand for me to point out that those motherfuckers have nothing on our home grown haters.  We just don’t talk about our history of violent racism and the legally winked at terrorism that long supported it.  We don’t talk about the many harms that flow from institutionally protected violence, like the epigenetic changes passed on among the descendants  of the victims. 

I am glad that museum is open in Alabama, I’d like to visit it some day, unlikely as that may be.   It is past time for Americans to begin confronting, understanding and addressing America’s shameful, ongoing, long-repressed history of racialized fear, rage, hatred and deadly violence.  

Since I always try to end even the most depressing of these posts on an uplifting note, here you go:

On the centenary of the lynching, May 15, 2016, the mayor of Waco apologized in a ceremony to some of Washington’s descendants. A historical marker is being erected.[114]