The long moral arc of fucking history

One Sunday late afternoon, three months before my ninth birthday, I was sitting by myself in my parents’ bedroom, at the foot of their bed. I don’t know why I was there, perhaps watching their large TV. It would not explain my memory of hearing the news that Malcolm X had been shot dead in the Audubon Ballroom in Washington Heights from my father’s alarm clock radio. I knew what it meant right away, and it felt like a punch in my young stomach. It was not that long after the JFK assassination and not long before several more lone gunmen would kill other leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy.

I read today that two of the three men who’d been convicted and jailed — fifty-five years ago — for the killing of Malcolm X (who by then had renamed himself El Hadj Malik el Shabbaz) will be exonerated tomorrow, one posthumously. The FBI, NYPD and prosecutors had withheld evidence that would have likely prevented the conviction of each of the “murderers” who spent decades in prison. The one assassin who was caught at the scene confessed in court and said he didn’t know the other two guys, that they hadn’t been the other shooters. It turns out he wasn’t lying.

The New York Times reports:

A trove of F.B.I. documents included information that implicated other suspects and pointed away from Mr. Islam and Mr. Aziz. Prosecutors’ notes indicate they failed to disclose the presence of undercover officers in the ballroom at the time of the shooting. And Police Department files revealed that a reporter for The New York Daily News received a call the morning of the shooting indicating that Malcolm X would be murdered.

Investigators also interviewed a living witness, known only as J.M., who backed up Mr. Aziz’s alibi, further suggesting that he had not participated in the shooting but had been, as he said at the trial, at home nursing his wounded legs.

Altogether, the re-investigation found that had the new evidence been presented to a jury, it may well have led to acquittals. And Mr. Aziz, 83, who was released in 1985, and Mr. Islam, who was released in 1987 and died in 2009, would not have been compelled to spend decades fighting to clear their names. . .

. . . Representatives for the two exonerated men said that the moment meant a lot to Mr. Aziz, and to Mr. Islam’s family. But Mr. Shanies, one of the civil rights lawyers representing them, said their convictions had a “horrific, torturous and unconscionable” effect that cannot be undone.

The two men spent a combined 42 years in prison, with years in solitary confinement between them. They were held in some of New York’s worst maximum security prisons in the 1970s, a decade that bore witness to the Attica uprisings.

Mr. Aziz had six children at the time he was convicted; Mr. Islam had three. Both men saw their marriages fall apart and spent the primes of their lives behind bars.

Even after their release, they were understood as Malcolm X’s killers, affecting their ability to live openly in society.

“It affected them in every way you could possibly imagine, them and their families,” Mr. Shanies said.

source

We learned, decades after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., that the FBI had been secretly recording King in hotel rooms and had sent compromising materials to him along with at least one letter urging him to kill himself. That’s just the way it was in the USA in the 1950s and 1960s, and the two hundred or so years before that. Racism was out of control, American Blacks were organizing and fighting for civil rights (Malcolm rightly called them Human Rights) and even a nonviolent pastor was considered an enemy of the state by the guardians of American power, since he was seen as galvanizing a tremendous moral force.

It’s hard to untangle how fucked up all of this is, or to overstate that the final crime for which King was condemned to death was his sermon opposing the War in Vietnam (one year to the day before his murder) and his Poor People’s campaign (on behalf of all of America’s poor). Once you stray from fighting for the right to use the same water fountain as whites to criticizing the power structure of the country itself, it is probably time for you to be shot through the voice box by a lone gunman with a shady past.

I try to imagine what it’s like to be exonerated fifty-five years after your life is destroyed, or posthumously. Then I consider that this re-investigation and exoneration would never have happened at all, but for an excellent documentary Who Killed Malcolm X? by a dogged historian/researcher who thoroughly investigated the killing of his hero. Netflix aired the documentary and outgoing Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance opened a re-investigation as soon as he considered the letter from the filmmaker, Abdur-Rahman Muhammad, and watched the compelling film.

I think of the long game of history. In 2060 or so perhaps the final story of the party-line confirmation of deeply divisive uber-conservative partisan Boof Kavanaugh will finally be told, once his forty year reign on the court is done and the appropriate amount of time has elapsed for the release of the thousands of pages of Kavanaugh-related documents the judicial committee was not allowed to see. Citizens, if there any left by then, will also learn the details of the 4,000 tips the FBI received, during a rushed farce of a five-day investigation into allegations against Kavanaugh, tips that went directly to Kavanaugh’s sponsor at the White House, fellow Federalist Society all-star Don McGahn, who promptly rejected them all.

Had these documents been seen, and publicized, had the FBI followed up on any of the tips, or even interviewed Kavanaugh, his friend Mark Judge and Christina Blasey-Ford, the Justice’s fiery, angry, paranoid, hyper-partisan speech in defense of himself as a victim of a cabal of powerful lying enemies would not have won the day.

For now, all we have are the words he uttered that day, after Blasey-Ford’s credible testimony, angrily snorted, slightly unhinged words that should have disqualified him from sitting on the Supreme Court, words he proudly (and unaccountably) told the world he wrote himself:

And this capsule biography of the longtime right-wing partisan, from Wikipedia:

Kavanaugh studied history at Yale University, where he joined Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity. He then attended Yale Law School, after which he began his career as a law clerk working under Judge Ken Starr. After Starr left the D.C. Circuit to become the head of the Office of Independent Counsel, Kavanaugh assisted him with various investigations concerning President Bill Clinton, including drafting the Starr Report recommending Clinton’s impeachment. After the 2000 U.S. presidential election, in which he worked for George W. Bush‘s campaign in the Florida recount, he joined the Bush administration as White House staff secretary and was a central figure in its efforts to identify and confirm judicial nominees.[3] Bush nominated Kavanaugh to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in 2003. His confirmation hearings were contentious and stalled for three years over charges of partisanship. He was ultimately confirmed to the D.C. Circuit in May 2006 after a series of negotiations between Democratic and Republican U.S. senators.[4][5][2] Two law professors performed an evaluation of Kavanaugh’s appellate court decisions in four separate public policy areas for the Washington Post. It found he had been “one of the most conservative judges on the D.C. Circuit” from 2003 to 2018.[6]

Once this ambitious Zelig of right-wing absolutism (he was involved in each of this century’s most outrageous pre-Trump right-wing stunts– Ken Starr’s most zealous assistant, involved with stopping the Florida recount in 2001, secret rulings for Dubya as White House staff secretary, rewarded by quick lifetime elevation by Bush II– after an ugly confirmation fight) has ruled on countless cases, restricting the rights of workers, voters, consumers, poor women, his political enemies, once all the unappealable damage is summarily done — and bitterly recorded in dissents — our descendants will get to learn the rest of the story of how this entitled partisan warrior managed to get a lifetime appointment to the nation’s highest court and steer that court for decades. I imagine they will feel like the previous generations (and they, themselves) got fucked, just the way those two guys who had nothing to do with the killing of Malcolm X got fucked, and then exonerated, in the long moral arc of fucking history.

What is a lie?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

source


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

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

[1] tip of the yarmulke to Stephanie Miller

Nothing ominous here

Just because ultra-nationalist Steve Bannon’s body guard (and everyone surrendering for arrest in a nonviolent crime is entitled to a body guard) is dressed as an ISIS fighter is no reason to get excited. It’s the mercenary’s right as an American to dress however the hell he wants. See First and Second Amendments.

Stephen K. Bannon, former adviser to Donald Trump, arrives at the FBI’s Washington field office to turn himself in to federal authorities
(Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

Bannon, by the way, is reportedly worth $55,000,000. If his legal defense against hard to refute charges of Contempt of Congress costs him $1,000,000, you’d expect Bannon to brush that sum aside, a small price to pay for the public performance of valor, steadfastness and the ability to look Destiny in the eye without blinking.

Plus, Bannon will likely be able to raise that sum from the generous MAGA suckers Trump already pardoned him for fleecing (allegedly fleecing — alleged by traitor Bill Barr’s partisan anti-Trump DOJ who arrested and criminally indicted Sloppy Steve).

Fortunately for people like Bannon, there are always billionaire’s yachts, in international waters, where a committed, disciplined, history-studying man-of-the-people, white nationalist can unwind and formulate the next part of his evolving long term battle plan.

The Obligation to Lie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trump’s lizard brain

Sadly this brain of his, the former chief strategist for the former president, worked for his billionaire patron Robert Mercer’s first and second choices in 2016, before throwing his support behind Lyin’ Ted and finally the last right-winger standing, Honest Donnie. Mercer also provided the GOP nominee with Kelleyanne Conway. The rest, as they say, is history.

The former president, always determined to be the smartest man in the room (he described this as part of his business genius while campaigning at wild rallies — surround yourself with loyal idiots to look smart) soon got sick of people giving Bannon credit for Trump’s victories. Trumplethinskin [1] fired Sloppy Steve a few months into his administration.

When it came time to overturn his election loss, Trump turned to a true strategist of chaos, anarchy and autocracy. You need a ruthless pragmatist like that in your War Room at the Willard Hotel as you implement your audacious plan and unleash your enraged mob.

Clearly, an insatiably ravenous reptile needs a cagey brain.

[1] tip of the cap to Stephanie Miller

You Are the Object of a Secret Extraction Operation

The brilliant Shoshana Zuboff wrote an essay published by the New York Times the other day, You Are the Object of A Secret Extraction Operation. It is worth reading and hopefully my “gift” link will allow you to read it on the NY Times website without being blocked by a pay wall. The essay begins:

Facebook is not just any corporation. It reached trillion-dollar status in a single decade by applying the logic of what I call surveillance capitalism — an economic system built on the secret extraction and manipulation of human data — to its vision of connecting the entire world. Facebook and other leading surveillance capitalist corporations now control information flows and communication infrastructures across the world.

These infrastructures are critical to the possibility of a democratic society, yet our democracies have allowed these companies to own, operate and mediate our information spaces unconstrained by public law. The result has been a hidden revolution in how information is produced, circulated and acted upon. A parade of revelations since 2016, amplified by the whistle-blower Frances Haugen’s documentation and personal testimony, bears witness to the consequences of this revolution.

The world’s liberal democracies now confront a tragedy of the “un-commons.” Information spaces that people assume to be public are strictly ruled by private commercial interests for maximum profit. The internet as a self-regulating market has been revealed as a failed experiment. Surveillance capitalism leaves a trail of social wreckage in its wake: the wholesale destruction of privacy, the intensification of social inequality, the poisoning of social discourse with defactualized information, the demolition of social norms and the weakening of democratic institutions.

These social harms are not random. They are tightly coupled effects of evolving economic operations. Each harm paves the way for the next and is dependent on what went before.

There is no way to escape the machine systems that surveil us, whether we are shopping, driving or walking in the park. All roads to economic and social participation now lead through surveillance capitalism’s profit-maximizing institutional terrain, a condition that has intensified during nearly two years of global plague.

Will Facebook’s digital violence finally trigger our commitment to take back the “un-commons”? Will we confront the fundamental but long ignored questions of an information civilization: How should we organize and govern the information and communication spaces of the digital century in ways that sustain and advance democratic values and principles?

source

Corporate lawyers like John Roberts (in his previous corporate gig) made formerly voidable one-sided “contracts of adhesion” (take it or leave it, chump) as good as gold in all contracts between individuals and the corporations who require our agreement to their terms of service before we may use those services. It works even for expensive products we buy, like $1,000 smart phones, our use of our own property is dictated by terms that advantage only the corporations providing these miraculous services. As Roberts clairvoyantly saw in crafting his innovative, popular, now standard arbitration clause (by clicking this button you agree to waive the right to sue us in court, no matter what, and consent to pay 50% of the cost of binding arbitration) in the contest for profits, every bit of deference must go to the canny corporation and let the unsophisticated, dumb-ass buyer beware.

As Zuboff shows, in her groundbreaking The Age of Surveillance Capitalism; The Fight for a Human Future At the New Frontier of Power, and again in this essay, the escalating worldwide harm done by the new keepers of the public commons, social media giants, must be mitigated and regulated by democratic lawmakers to protect democracy from the wild, self-regulated pursuit of vast personal fortunes at the expense of all non-market based values.

Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg, two poster children for profit over everything (profit uber alles) constantly defend their right to regulate themselves and make as much money as possible while doing so. It is not their job to judge the credulous stupidity of the public when making business decisions. After all, who in their right mind would turn down a fifty million dollar ad buy, even if it was an ad to spread an incendiary lie about a stolen election, a calculated lie debunked in dozens of lawsuits, and one that would predictably lead to outrage and possibly violence? That’s strictly a business decision, something to which the Court has always granted great deference, it’s simply The Business Judgement Rule — courts won’t interfere in corporate business decisions if there is any theoretically plausible money making rationale for them.

Zuckerberg told his executives, prior to the 2016 election (when Hillary was making noises about regulating giants like Facebook) that any government attempt to regulate Facebook would be such an “existential threat” that you have to stand on principle, you “go to the mat”, you go to the fucking mat to defend your right to double and triple your hundred billion dollar personal fortune, sue the government, do whatever needs to be done. The principle? Nothing wrong with greed, you judgmental fucking losers.

Perhaps Zuckerberg is right. 99% of the world is a bunch of crying, bitter, jealous, judgmental fucking losers, doomed to die inglorious asshole deaths after wasted lives spent envying people like him. It’s people like him, the true outliers, visionaries, men of the future, who should, by force of meritocracy and the will of the Free Market, decide what is best for the world. Who would know better than a maladjusted nerd who had become, at a precocious age, one of the richest men in human history?


Fascist-style Populism

Populism is a political appeal to what is popular among the population, and can be of the left or the right. It seems, most usually, and especially here in the US of A, it is harnessed by the right, as in the Koch-funded “spontaneous” “grass roots” Populist Tea Party, a national movement that appeared to spring up over night across the country, in a phenomenon gawked at by mass media as strong proof of a massive popular uprising against the self-proclaimed Hope and Change president, and swept a host of unapologetically angry Tea Party radicals into Congress to transform the Republican party and the US government. What we see on TV, and via social media, becomes our reality.

Just off hand, you might think that populism is good for democracy, the will of the people expressed through a mass movement. It can go either way. Most often populist movements are taken over by demagogues. The ideas are already popular — the government is a bunch of clueless elitist eggheads who don’t share our values. deciding, against our will, what we actually want! Harness this anger and you are a populist. When times are tough, populism swings right, toward authoritarianism. Here is an insightful bit from a discussion with David Sirota on a recent Deconstructed podcast:

So, in other words, human beings being thrown out of their homes, were the foam on the runway for the banks, which really tells you what you need to know about what the overall policy goal of the Obama administration was. They made a decision that they had to save Wall Street which, not incidentally, had given the most amount of money to Barack Obama’s campaign in the history of presidential politics. They made the decision that to save the economy, they had to first and foremost save Wall Street.

Now, maybe you could say it’s not corruption. Maybe you say it’s ideology. Maybe you just say it’s a principled disagreement or a principled belief. And there’s one phrase that that Geithner, I believe it was Geithner, who said: That’s how we saved the economy, but lost the country.

And what’s important to know is how historically anomalous that is from the Democratic Party itself. FDR, not that he was a perfect president, but he came in during an economic crisis. And there’s a lot of evidence — a lot of his quotes, a lot of the things he said — that he understood that if there was going to be a bailout or investments, it had to be bottom up. And he understood that it had to be bottom up for three reasons: It was morally right, people were starving; it was economically a better policy; and then he also made all sorts of statements, saying that this is the way to stop the rise of fascism — that if you do not help the working class in a crisis, then you are creating the conditions for authoritarians and fascists to take advantage of the desperation. And fascism was on the rise in the Great Depression here in the United States!

And so what 2009-2010 leading into the Trump-era suggests is that FDR was right, because the Democrats, the modern version of the Democrats, didn’t do what FDR did. And it ended up creating the conditions for Trump.

source

FDR, not that he was a perfect president, but he came in during an economic crisis. And there’s a lot of evidence — a lot of his quotes, a lot of the things he said — that he understood that if there was going to be a bailout or investments, it had to be bottom up. And he understood that it had to be bottom up for three reasons: It was morally right, people were starving; it was economically a better policy; and then he also made all sorts of statements, saying that this is the way to stop the rise of fascism — that if you do not help the working class in a crisis, then you are creating the conditions for authoritarians and fascists to take advantage of the desperation. And fascism was on the rise in the Great Depression here in the United States!

Think of the enraged army of MAGA populists across the country who now routinely call to violently threaten Republican legislators who “disloyally” voted for an uncontroversial bipartisan infrastructure bill they negotiated, a bill that will benefit their communities, a long overdue allocation of resources for the mutual good — and the good of US big business, by the way — that Trump touted when he was president (though he was too busy with other things to do anything about it). According to our right-wing populists, all we really need are strictly constitutional gun laws that respect our sacred Second Amendment right to bring our non-regulated guns wherever we want, as part of goddamned political speech. If you think that’s a problem, cucks, suck lead.

This kind of enraged populism is the necessary precondition for mob rule and autocracy.

Mr. Biden? Mr. Garland? Congress? Senate supporters of the sacred filibuster over the right to vote?

It’s Common Sense

There’s a real reason that Trump and people like him consider journalists the enemy of the people. Everything we know about the planning, funding and execution of the Stop the Steal riot at the Capitol comes from journalists. You can stonewall Congress without consequence because the courts can be used that way in this country by wealthy, powerful people. But the fucking press … the lying media… der lugenpresse! … enemy of the people!

In a new tape recording of an interview with Trump, released by journalist Johnathan Karl, the mad former president says it’s “common sense” that people who believe there was massive election fraud and Pence refused to do anything about it would rightfully want to lynch the motherfucker.

Shades of Christian Dominionist provocateur William Pelham “Bagpiper Bill” Barr with his sneering “it’s obvious!” when asked for proof that mail-in voting would lead to massive electoral fraud by antifa, enraged colored people and others who unaccountably hate authoritarianism.

What is truly common sense is that when dealing with a bully who has always backed down whenever confronted with a real counterthreat (elevating Jeffrey Clark to AG, quitting GOP, etc.), to not confront him is to empower a sadist without boundaries to take a shit in your mouth and tell you to swallow.

Bon appétit, hesitant Democrats.

Spoiler from Bezos

You’ve got to love the frankness of this headline question curtly answered in the short blurb below:

Just one more reason certain corporate donors love, honor and host fundraisers for unlovable, dishonorable cartoon coal tycoon/obstructionist Joe Manchin III.