The Abyss Stares Back – If Friedrich Nietzsche wrote comedy, America 2020 would be it

The Abyss Stares Back

If Friedrich Nietzsche wrote comedy, America 2020 would be it

October 17th, 2020

Well, nobody said the home stretch of the 2020 election was going to be boring. OK, so we all thought the polls would be a lot closer now than they are, portending as they do an utter bloodbath for the GOP. And of course we all worried about how many dirty tricks Trump and the GOP had. Some were predictable: the Hunter Biden “bombshell” in which a computer turned up at some repair shop on which there was supposedly a whole bunch of emails that said stuff like “Hey, my dad wants you to have a bunch of military secrets if you’ll just fire this one judge.” Some of the emails were tracked back to a Russian disinformation outfit, but what really made the whole thing moot was that the right-winger truther who owned the repair shop said the computer, along with two others, were dropped off by someone who could have possibly been Hunter Biden on April 12th, 2019, but the firmware on both the computer BIOS and the hard drive showed that the system had been manufactured on April 19th 2019, a week after Hunter dropped it off. My god, the man can TIME TRAVEL! He’s an existential threat to the entire universe, and you libtard sheeplings are just sitting around making Guiliani jokes!

Voting fuckery is widespread, of course. Abbott, the fascist running Texas, arbitrarily decreed that each county should only have one dropbox. Other GOP states reduced the number of polling places, resulting in line of voters in scenes one expects in fascist banana republics. Like the sort the GOP wants to turn all of America into. In California, GOP outlaws set out phony dropboxes.

Trump has openly said that one reason he wants the godstruck vacuity Barrett on the court by the election is in case he needs the court to rule that those silly old votes don’t matter, and the GOP gets to appoint electors in order to ensure a Trump victory. Given the size of the popular blowout the polls forecast, such a move would result in a popular revolt and even possibly a civil war, but Trump figures he has command over the military, and should the Pentagon decide that they promised to spend some quality time with their cats rather than gunning down Americans, he also has a pack of heavily armed street nazis.

It’s not clear what the military would do in the face of a coup. Trump is commander in chief; but his orders would be illegal if not flat-out treasonous. The street nazis would be faced with a situation where even if they did prevail, they would have absolutely no popular support, even among most Trump supporters. And a hundred million or so people looking for ways to ambush and kill them. They might be vicious crazy bastards, but they aren’t stupid. The leaders know they can’t possibly hold power with a coup that has absolutely no popular support.

Trump himself may be aware of that, or at least suspect it. He joked the other day about leaving the country if he lost the election because losing to “Sleepy Joe” would be so embarrassing. Trump very famously does not joke, but he does have plenty of reasons to flee if he loses. There’s a tidal wave of criminal and civil proceedings awaiting him the minute Biden is sworn in as President, along with many angry creditors, including quite possibly organized crime.

He may well owe hundreds of millions of dollars to Russian interests, and it’s not outside the realm of possibility that Putin has assured him that if he defects with most or all of America’s military and strategic secrets, Putin would take care of all those nagging debts and set him up in a dacha on the Black Sea. Trump would certainly be willing to entertain such an offer, especially if Putin assured him he would be a hero, nay, a GOD to the peoples of all the Russias, and they would praise him and lionize him for the rest of his life. Oh, and think of all the American liberals who would be sooooo pissed off if he did that!

That would leave Mike Pence as acting president, and he would be an extraordinarily unpopular leader of a country in chaos, head of a party reviled by 70% of the population as traitors. Pence will try to present himself as an expression of God’s Will, and when that falls apart, he’ll resign. The Senate will note that Trump didn’t formally resign, and vote that treason and fleeing the country are not impeachable offenses. It’s not like the GOP will have anything to lose at this point, and chaos might result in a long-hoped-for corporate takeover of the country. Except the country would be disintegrating at that point, with several powerful blue states voting to secede. The Senate will then convict Trump, accept Pence’s resignation, and dump the whole mess in Pelosi’s lap. That may be enough to avert collapse, assuming the Qanon nuts don’t just assume that Pelosi is an intergalactic lizard with a taste for human babies who wants to take their guns. Which she is, of course. The tail is a dead giveaway.

Now, people have said that I’m too conventional, too cautious in my political forecasts, and that may be true. I didn’t even mention North Korea invading the state of Washington, or proof that there is no such thing as COVID-19 coming out. Those could muddy the waters, sure. But I live and die by Occam’s Razor, and manage to look unshaven despite that.

So there’s your immediate future, America. Jokes by Friedrich Nietzsche, screenplay by Garth Ennis, directed by David Cronenberg.

Get a good night’s sleep, folks. You’re gonna need it.

The Burning Man – Trump’s 42 days in the desert

October 10th 2020

The real polls are shifting, and the shift is enough that I’m starting to feel reasonably secure that the Republican fascists may not be able to steal this election. I figure that what with the gerrymandering (both built-in with the Electoral College or created by corrupt state legislatures), the powerful propaganda arm, the sabotage of mail-in voting and further sabotage of in person voting, the Dems would need about an 8 point lead in the polls to actually win over the fascists.

Nate Silver’s, the most accurate of the aggregate pollsters, had Biden’s lead over Trump rock steady between 5.5 points and 7.5 points for three months following the end of primary season. Normally, that would be an unassailable lead, but the extent of Republican malfeasance made it, at best, too close to call.

At the beginning of the GOP convention, it was at a seven point lead. The Democrats had run a extremely well-crafted four-day infomercial, and the GOP was going for a semi-live show with small audiences rather than the virtual effort by the Dems. Manly men don’t fear the reaper, even if at the time it had already killed some 170,000 Americans. The polls, I reasoned, would have to be above five points for Biden to for him have any chance at all to make up the three more points needed to overcome Republican cheating and lying. And given how entrenched both sides appeared to be, that would take a miracle.

But a week after the convention, the polls hadn’t budged. Seven points. The American public, which largely avoided the four day Donald Trump Show, was unimpressed by all the screaming and lying the GOP put on.

I watched, and during the show I tried pretending to think like an average Republican voter. China and Iran wanted war with us. Russia was our friend, and we could deal with North Korea as equals. The deficit didn’t matter, and Trump was good for the economy. Trump was a godly man who just happened to be a genius at business negotiations. Dems wanted to take everyone’s guns and tax us all to death. Liberals really did sell children as sex slaves in the basement of pizza joints…well, ok. Not even Republican voters believed that one. But they did believe that Hunter Biden was up to no good, abusing his father’s connections, but Don Jr, Eric and Ivanka weren’t.

Even trying to wear that mind set, I found the show unconvincing. From a more sane perspective, the show was an orgy of loud lunacy.

I was pleased, but I misinterpreted that unwavering result. I assumed it meant the body politic had become utterly intransigent, and nothing was going to change anyone’s mind. Anyone who still supported Trump at that point either dismissed or accepted the utter chaos, incompetence and dishonestly of his administration. Hell, the First Lady could tear up the Rose Garden, or get taped saying “Fuck Christmas” and it wouldn’t change anything, right? Well, funny story…

The turning point came an eternity ago—September 20th. That’s when Ruth Bader Ginsburg died. Yeah, just three weeks ago. Hard to believe, isn’t it?

Her death horrified liberal Americans. What followed horrified most other people. Trump and McConnell, in a massive fireworks burst of hypocrisy and willingness to commit a massive power grab, immediately nominated a replacement for Ginsburg. Not just another tiresome and in all likelihood corrupt neoliberal hack like his first two; this time he picked a god-struck woman whose closest literary cognate is the mad Ignatius J. Reilly from Confederacy of Dunces. The cult she is a member of apparently formed the basis of the cult that destroyed America and enslaved women in Margaret Atwood’s A Handmaid’s Tale. Her position is so extreme it overcame America’s reluctance to attack Christians on the basis of religion.

The willingness of the Republicans to set aside legislation desperately needed to keep thousands of people alive, fed and in shelters in order to ram though the nomination of this viciously unsuitable woman dismayed a large majority of voters—including Republicans, who uneasily remember the Republican stance of no nominations during a presidential campaign that the Republicans used to ignore the nomination of Merrick Garland in Obama’s final year. It was such rank hypocrisy that even the shills at Fox News had trouble selling it, pretending instead that the Garland nomination never happened.

Then the presidential debate showed the world that Trump was a braying, vacuous bully with no answers but lots of empty demagoguery.

Then he got sick. Under just about any other circumstances, a sick leader would have gotten a sympathy bounce in the polls. But his attitude had been so reckless and foolhardy, and so damaging to the country, that most people thought he brought it on himself. People were appalled at the sight of him recklessly endangering the lives of others around him in his mad drive to show that this disease that has killed 215,000 people in his own country is no big deal and can be safely ignored.

There were a dozen other self-immolations. Dissing the troops. Attacking Gold Star families. And finally, becoming totally unhinged and largely incoherent.

So yeah, suddenly, Trump has managed to fall to 10.1 points behind Biden. It seemed impossible three weeks ago, but Biden now seems to be beyond the point where Republicans can steal it.

But remember. This all happened in three weeks. That’s an eternity in politics. We still have three more weeks to go before the election.

Don’t relax.

Trump Hits the Wall — Flacks find defending his record…difficult

October 7th 2020

Every once in a while, one of those endless screeds that right wingers love to pass around comes across my screen, and I think, “Oh, what the hell. Let’s blow this ignorant dirtbag out of the water.” I’m just a sucker for low-hanging fruit, I guess.

Here’s this week’s screed, which the author pulled down himself within an hour. I guess he had some regrets. Well, we all do.

ATTN LIBERALS: I call this the Biden Challenge!. I Am going to list 25 Things that Trump has done to improve all of our lives as well as the entire world! The challenge to you is to see if you can do the same for BIDEN!.. And you can even use Biden’s whole 47 years as A base!. As well as what you think he will do as Pres, So here we go!!… 1) Lowered Taxes for all of us ( Not just the rich ). 2) Killed Solimantie 3) Killed Al Baghdadi 4) Defeated 100% of ISIS 5) Moved our embassy to Jerusalem 6) Rebuilt our military 7) Got us out of the paris accord 8) Got rid of NAFTA 9) Replaced it with a new trade deal the USMCA ( Much Better for the USA ) that required a deal with Mexico And Canada 10) Got out of the IRAN Nuke deal 11) Has made the EU And Germany pay there share for defence 12) Cut regulations to allow our economy to boom 13) Made the USA #1 in Gas production in the world 14) Broke records on the stock markets almost daily 15) Best unemployment rates for Blacks ever 16) And Asians 17) And Mexicans 18) Is building the wall and securing our southern border 19) Little rocket man is Not Testing Nukes and more ( For Now ) 20) Has been tough on China And has made the USA hundreds of Billions in Tariffs ( 1st Pres to do so) 21) Gave Billions from the tariffs to our farmers that were targeted by China to make them right !!. 22) The Trump tax cuts allowed large co, to return to the US an build there new factories and businesses here. Creating good paying jobs. 23 ) wages are up under Trump !!. 24) Created a new branch of our military The Space Force 25) And pre Covid19 we had the best economy ever and had no signs of slowing down. And he can do it again. There is the 1st 25 I can come up with another. Lets see what you can do with Biden . I bet none of you will. But look forward to see if you even try !!

OK, I’ll take that one on:

1) Trump lowered taxes 93% for the top 10%. He greatly reduced benefits for the rest of us, exploded the deficit to quadruple what it was under Obama. Biden led the task force that guided Obama in lowering the annual deficit over his last five years. 2) Soleimani was engaged in talks with US when Trump ordered his assassination. It was a cowardly act by the US. 3) Biden was part of the task force that killed Osama bin Laden 4) ISIS is still quite alive and just as dangerous. Taking the cities didn’t kill the movement or the philosophy, and only a daft fool would think otherwise. 5) Moving the capital to Jerusalem was a Netanyahu-inspired bit of political theater that guaranteed no peaceful ‘two-state’ solution in the middle east. 6) The military didn’t need rebuilding, but it does after three years of Trump. Morale has never been lower than it is now, what with Trump sucking up to US enemies and disrespecting the troops. 7) The Paris accord will go ahead without America, and guarantee America will just be left behind economically, outside looking in. 8 & 9) Replaced it with NAFTA II which had only minor cosmetic differences 10) Trump violated Iran nuke deal which allows Europe to assure that Iran is not developing nuclear weapons, and now America has no say in a process to prevent trouble there 11) Utter nonsense. Trump weakened NATO, to Putin’s delight. 12) Cut regulations on environment, health and safety. Regulations that saved Americans over a trillion dollars a year in health costs and personal safety. 13) Fossil fuels are the answer to climate change, or so Trump would tell us. 14) We know the billionaires and big corporations made out great. At our expense 15, 16, 17 & 18) Black unemployment briefly was good, but nothing to do with Trump. It was only a hair better than it was the day he took office, but it’s in the crapper now. Unemployment is well over 8% overall now, and not likely to improve until the US is ready to deal with COVID. The wall (the 2,500 mile wall that Mexico was going to pay for) is all of thirty miles long, and some of it is already falling down because the contractor was crooked. 19) North Korea tested a nuke earlier this summer. Kim Jong Un regards Trump as a cheap date—which he is. 20) Tariffs are a tax American consumers pay. Anyone with a high-school education knows that. 21) Farmers got a few billion in aid, but lost hundreds of billions due to protectionist programs. They are not happy. 22) Nobody forced manufacturing to leave—they just wanted cheap labor and no health and safety regulations. They screwed America, not the Chinese. And they haven’t come back. They’re parasites, and America isn’t a good host. 23) Wages are stagnant under Trump and now dropping overall because of unemployment. The bottom half of the working community only got 20% of the raises back when they were still happening. 24) Space Force is a joke. 25) Economy grew faster in the final three years of Obama/Biden than it did the first three years of Trumppence. Again, Trump was just riding Obama’s coattails.

I’m guessing you’ll run away now, but I just refuted every single one of your talking points.

I won’t play the silly game of “What did Biden do with his presidential powers” because Biden was never more than one of a hundred Senators and then Vice-President, a notoriously powerless position. But I will note some other things Trump has done that Biden has not done in 46 years—or ever.

Things Biden hasn’t done that Trump has:

He’s never had to pay off porn stars to cover up sex affairs with them weeks after the birth of his son.

He’s never had to pay out a settlement for swindling black people out of fair access to rentals.

He’s never had to settle for a billion dollars for a class-action suit for swindling people through a fake university.

He’s never been banned from ever running a charity again because he swindled a children’s charity.

He’s never killed over 150,000 people pretending that a national health crisis isn’t real because that would be bad for business.

He’s never turned America into a pathetic joke by sucking up to filth like Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong Un or Rodrigo Duterte.

He’s never tried to blackmail, extort or subjugate the American people.

He’s never threatened to “lock up” his political opponents, or found a corrupt lackey to investigate political opponents in hopes to locking them up.

He’s never been impeached.

He’s never been accused to cheating the government out of hundreds of millions in taxes.

He’s never made a media circus out of cheating on his wife.

He’s never called for the execution of young men even after their innocence was proven.

He’s never tried to get government employees to sign NDA’s to cover up his criminal acts.

Biden is a decent person who, at worst, will be an average president.

Trump is utter filth and he has been an unmitigated disaster for and to America.


So: That’s what I can do with Biden. I bet no Trumpkin will dare challenge it!

Don’t Be Stupid – Don’t Be Donald

Don’t Be Stupid – Don’t Be Donald.

October 5th 2020

I will be leaving the great Walter Reed Medical Center today at 6:30 P.M. Feeling really good! Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life. We have developed, under the Trump Administration, some really great drugs & knowledge. I feel better than I did 20 years ago!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 5, 2020

If anyone doesn’t understand the difference between courage and foolhardiness, this tweet will stand as a terrific example. It leaves me hoping that his health will take a turn for the worse (and normally I would want him to live to lose the election and stand trial for his many crimes) because telling his idiot followers that COVID is nothing to fear will get hundreds of thousands killed, on top of the 170,000 or so who have died as a result of his attitude.

Donald Trump stands to kill more Americans than Hitler did, and for similar reasons. Contempt for Americans, and utter hatred of a free and open society.

The sad thing is that it won’t be just the fools who worship him. In Biblical times it was a golden calf. Now it’s an orange jackass. Oh, they’ll die by the thousands, but mostly the victims will be people around them—their family, their friends, their co-workers, people in stores and restaurants that they casually infect.

A leader will often exhort this countrymen in times of great peril. FDR, upon his inauguration in a time of economic collapse, and again in the wake of Pearl Harbor. Abraham Lincoln when a third of the country chose treason for the sake of slavery. Churchill facing down Hitler. There are times when it is a leader’s right and duty to call on his people to make sacrifices and risk their lives for the greater good.

But a leader doesn’t have any right to tell his nation’s children to go play on the freeway, or smoke cigarettes for national profit. Don’t step out in front of buses.

Trump just wants people to piss away their lives because he’s trying to protect Wall Street and because he believes, for some demented reason, that only a weak leader tackles a national crisis and it’s the role of a strong leader to pretend it isn’t happening.

Trump went back to the White House today, sweaty and gasping for breath, and it’s the nature of this disease that he isn’t out of crisis yet, and that he has a pretty good chance of taking long-term damage above and beyond what he’s already at risk for. Just for mindless showmanship. And he’s putting hundreds of lives at immediate risk just by wandering the White House unmasked.

How crazy is it going to get? Trump campaign aide Erin Perrine went on Fox News today to suggest that President Donald Trump is a better leader than Democratic candidate Joe Biden because he has the “firsthand experience” of being infected with COVID-19.

That’s a bit like saying you should be appointed city commissioner of public transportation because you got drunk and walked in front of a bus and got run down. Trump got stupid(er) and caught a disease he could have readily avoided. You might survive sticking your tongue in a wall socket, but boasting about it to others isn’t going to make them think you’re intelligent, or even sane.

Trump is neither intelligent nor sane. Foolhardiness isn’t a legitimate form of “first hand experience.”

Should you be afraid of COVID-19? Well, as of this evening, we have 7,679,644 cases. 215,032 of those cases resulted in death. 4,895,078 people have recovered. Now for the really alarming news: 2,569,534 have not recovered, and have spent weeks and even months fighting this disease and still are. Many of them will have compromised health going forward for the rest of their lives. Over 14,000 of them are presently in critical condition, their lives in the balance. They will never recover.

Donald Trump, in his psychotic need to pretend everything is OK and he is a great leader, is rolling the dice. He’s far sicker than he’s letting on, probably sicker than he’s admitting to himself. He may end up as the poster boy for the non-lethal damage this disease causes. And of course, he might drop dead at any point over the next few weeks.

Should we be afraid of COVID-19? No.

But we should treat it with respect, and not follow a fool who says for his own self-aggrandizement that there is nothing to be afraid of, masks are for weaklings, and he is the example of that. He’s lying to you right now, and he’ll keep right on lying no matter how bad it gets for him because he can’t stand to look weak or wrong.

But he is weak. He is wrong. He is the drunk who wandered out in front of a bus, and somehow survived, and wants that to be a gleaming example so you might step blindly off the curb, refusing to be cowed by buses.

That isn’t courage. That is stupidity.

Don’t be stupid. Don’t be Donald. Wear a mask. Maintain social distancing. And don’t walk out in front of buses.

Poor, Brave Trump! – The fearless folly of the Donald

October 3rd, 2020

Trump got squeezed into one of his poor-fitting suits and sat in front of a US and Presidential flag that utterly failed to conceal that he was in a hospital room and made a four minute video for the nation. This normally would be a very good thing, since a sick president leaves the entire country unnerved and in need of a calming voice. Such reassurances are usually…staged. Some never existed: the country may have felt reassured at the story that as he was being wheeled into the OR after being shot, Reagan gave the doctors a cheery thumbs-up, but much later we learned that was strictly PR bullshit.

Trump looked better than some of the more dire stories had it but the makeup and his seated position couldn’t quite hide the fact that he wasn’t 100%.

Characteristically, he took the opportunity to praise his heroism and courage:

But I had no choice because I just didn’t want to stay in the White House. I was given that alternative. Stay in the White House, lock yourself in, don’t ever leave, don’t even go to the Oval Office, just stay upstairs and enjoy it, don’t see people, don’t talk to people and just be done with it and I can’t do that. I had to be out front and – this is America, this is the United States, this is the greatest country in the world, this is the most powerful country in the world. I can’t be locked up in a room upstairs and totally safe and just say: ‘Hey, whatever happens happens.’ I can’t do that. We have to confront problems. As a leader you have to confront problems. There’s never been a great leader that would have done that.”

Mind you, Mister “Whatever happens happens, I can’t do that” said of the same disease just two weeks ago, “It is what it is.” Stoicism is an easy way to cover up moral and mental bankruptcy. Trump is trying to pretend he was out, ignoring the danger, doing the people’s business and fulfilling his duties as president.

In reality, he’s still the same indolent buffoon he’s always been, going out only to play his indeterminable games of golf and hold his super-spreader rallies, putting hundreds of thousands of people at risk to fill his mindless need for adulation. Even then, at a recent rally in a display of what passes for humor with Trump, he told his audience that he wasn’t taking any risk—he was ‘way up on his dais, well away from the people he privately calls ‘disgusting.’ All those braying morons, going home to infect friends, family, associates, because Trump felt personally safe. He must have been really tickled pink over that.

He expressed gratitude for all non-American leaders who wished him well. Some, like Boris Johnson, were undoubtedly sincere. Kim Yong Un was probably fairly pro forma. His country isn’t allowed to admit that COVID-19 exists. Trump didn’t want to admit Joe Biden and the Democrats exist, either, and so ignored their well wishes.

Then there’s Putin, and Russia. They have a radio show called 60 Minutes that resembles the American television show of that name much the way OAN resembles Walter Cronkite. The Russian version had its own unique take on it, per the Daily Beast:

Discussing Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis, Evgeny Popov, the host of Russian state media news talk show 60 Minutes, said, ‘Our candidate got sick.’ His co-host Olga Skabeeva reminded the viewers that Trump is in a high-risk group, due to being elderly and overweight. Referring to former Vice President Joe Biden, Popov added, ‘The other one may get sick too.’”

Davis said commentary also included condolences to the president who was taken to Walter Reed Hospital late Friday, and that Popov and Skabeeva also commented that the Democrats were “celebrating” Trump’s health woes, only to have reporter Denis Davydov in the U.S. point out that “Trump’s Twitter mentions are filled with messages of support,” to which Popov shot back, “Those are just the Russian bots.”

Ha ha ha. Very droll, comrade. ‘Russian bots.’ Must mock foolish Americaner intelligence. After show, we get drunk, go in alley way and urinate on pussy cats, no? After all, there is full Moon!

Trump’s opaque and dishonest reign has made Kremlin watchers out of all of us, where we all feverishly scan minutiae in hopes of determining what few morsels of truth may exist in the White House sewage. Now that he’s ill and even possibly critically ill, the versions regarding what’s going on are a deep and wide river. It’s safe to assume 90% of it is utter nonsense, and 9/10ths of the rest exaggerations of reality.

Three Republican Senators have tested positive over the past few days, raising the interesting prospect that for the next month or so, the Senate may actually have Democrats in control. At least two of the Senators sit on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will be having what the GOP jokingly refers to as “hearings” on Amy Barrett next week. Maybe. At least one reputable source opines that some or all of the Republican Senators may fake claims of having the disease in order to avoid voting on her, since it’s obvious to one and all that she is a poison pill that will destroy the GOP. At least five Republican Senators who had reasonable leads just two months ago in November’s races have seen their leads dwindle to ties and even losses. They have to be feeling desperate right now. Their leader’s bad habit of making them all swim in a Petri dish in order to pretend the pandemic isn’t a problem may actually take them off the hot seat and even possibly save their careers.

Republicans have suddenly rediscovered compassion and empathy in the past day, but I have my great big “fuck you” potato gun ready for any that try pulling that crap on me. It’s manipulative bullshit, and I’m not going to play that game.

Meanwhile, keep an eye on the news. We live in interesting times.

Trump and COVID — Republicans prove that yes, there is a pandemic.

October 2nd 2020

The news that Trump’s open contempt for science and public safety finally caught up to him is one of the most expected shocks in history. For the past six months or so, I’ve expected to wake up to a headline reading “Trump rushed to Walter Reed with Respiratory Distress.” Or those in utter awe at my prognostication abilities, I also predicted the Dodgers would have a good season, California would have wildfires in the late summer, and bell bottoms would make a comeback. I am like unto a God.

Historians will never figure out why the Trump administration was openly contemptuous about wearing masks, still the single most effective way we have to slow the spread of COVID-19. After all, psychiatrists can’t figure out the motivation now.

Authoritarians are famous for denying the obvious when it’s obvious that things are going to hell and it puts them in a bad light. The story of Nero fiddling while Rome burned is apocryphal, but Roman leaders told many reassuring lies in the centuries of Rome’s decline. Hitler pretended all was well and German victory inevitable as late as April, 1945. Baghdad Bob swore there were no American troops were in Baghdad and what’s more, Homer Simpson was screwing their wives while they fought overseas.

But few governments told such transparent lies with so little hope of a good outcome under circumstances that weren’t yet dire.

It’s a sign of the intellectual rot infecting American society that conspiracy theories already abound. Some Republicans have claimed that liberals put the virus in a solution and painted it on Trump’s microphone and dais before the debate. (The only way it would work in reality would be if they painted it on Putin’s penis.) Another was that the Chinese somehow infected Trump because he was about to reveal that they deliberately released the virus.

Just to show that the idiocy is bipartisan, some liberals are claiming Trump is faking the whole thing as a sympathy ploy and/or an excuse to skip the debate.

Well, the good news (sorta) is that with two dozen or so people who have been exposed to Trump getting sick themselves make the odds that Trump is “faking it” vanishingly small. I doubt we’ll get much in the way of accurate and full information going forward. That isn’t even just a matter of Trump’s veracity: historically Presidents and their staff have lied about their health. Few people knew Harrison was dying until after he died. Teddy Roosevelt hid an injury from an assassination attempt and gave a speech. (Points for a gutsy move, though!). Woodrow Wilson had a major stroke and his WH concealed his incapacitation for almost 18 months. Eisenhower concealed the severity of his heart attack because he believed the thought of a Nixon presidency would panic the country.

But with this administration, I have little hope of any transparency. The Trump crowd lie just because they lie. They don’t even need a reason.

Despite his general health, the odds at this point are in Trump’s favor. The disease kills about 5% of those who catch it. For someone in Trump’s observable condition, that rises to about 15%. And given that he is showing symptoms, it’s likely that he will have knock-on health problems for the rest of his life. It’s reasonable to expect that he will walk out of Walter Reed in due course—a few days, a few weeks, a few months. But he won’t be the same man who went in today.

Just the fact that he got sick is going to utterly destroy the anti-mask, anti-science Republican movement that is the main reason COVID-19 has been and remains out of control in America. People who persuaded themselves that it is all a hoax are going to have to reassess that view. Trump’s open contempt for masks and social distancing have caught up to him. People may continue viewing evolution and climate change as commie plots, but the fact that it has laid their hero low means they will have to be circumspect about this one. Some of the smarter ones will start wearing masks. The dumber ones will isolate into non-mask communities, and evolution will take its course. It won’t cure America of its fevered infection of utter stupidity, but it will put a dent in it.

We’re already in one of the most chaotic periods in American history since the Civil War, and this will make things that much worse. If he’s in the hospital for more than a week, Republicans will say the elections must be postponed. Trump will probably get a sympathy bounce in the polls, but it’s unlikely that will translate to more votes. Everyone will be watching Pence for signs he’s preparing to become America’s 46th president. With Trump ill and the nation in crisis, the grotesque drive to rubber stamp Amy Barrett onto the Court may have to actually suspend. For one thing, Trump’s reckless approach to social distancing has infected a number of Senators, all Republican. (Barrett has been exposed to Trump and his Petri dish of a White House over the past week, but there are reports that she tested positive for Covid last summer and is (presumably) immune.

We can’t control events stemming from this latest crisis except for one: Don’t be stupid. Mask up, keep your distance.

Shitshow One — Trump vs Trump, and both sides lost

September 29th 2020

Well, that was…something.

I won’t call it a debate. For the most part it consisted of Trump braying lies at the top of his lungs, trying to prevent Joe Biden from making a connected series of statements intended to establish a proposition. (Definition courtesy of all the Bruces and Sheilas at the University of Wallamazoo). He was trying, with limited luck, to shout down Biden, and doing somewhat better at bullying the moderator, Chris Wallace, who spent a fair bit of time fluttering and repeating, “Mister President, Mister President.” Give Wallace credit though: in his position, I wouldn’t have reached the hour mark in the debate without shouting, “Hey, asshole! Shut your bloody gob!”

Well, Wallace is considered the voice of restraint and reason at Fox News. Granted, that’s a pretty low bar, and they’ll probably fire him before the end of the year as a part of their self-lobotomizing drive, but he did manage to stand up to Trump a few times.

Biden only blew his cool once, referring to Trump as “that clown” and an expression instantly flickered across his face, knowing he had said something that by his standards, was intemperate. Never mind that he was right. It wasn’t something a former Senator would say about an opponent. He did call Trump a liar several times, but even amongst Trump’s dwindling band of supporters there would be considerable reluctance to die on the hill of Donald’s veracity. Trumpkins may be willing to die stupid, but most of them don’t want to hear a bunch of snorts and giggles from those around them as the light fades away.

I had one of those “debate bingo” cards, laden with the various lies, strawmen, and fear-mongering that makes up an average Trump speech. I ticked off 15 of the 24 spots, an amazing display of…well, no. I’m not going to say Trump was showing restraint. My guess is the Adderall caused him to forget half his talking points. So we weren’t treated to slogans like “Our response was perfect” “Lowest fatality rate in the world” or “Nobody tougher on Russia.” He didn’t quite dare call Biden “Sleepy Joe” with Joe standing a careful six feet away, and obviously not in the least bit sleepy.

The loud idiocy partially concealed the horror that is Trump. Asked to condemn white nationalism, he couldn’t do it. Indeed, he said that on election day, Proud Boys should stand down “but stand by.” Street Nazis, Assemble!

At one point, responding to Biden’s mention of Trump thinking of soldiers as loser and suckers, Trump claimed Biden called the soldiers “stupid bastards.” Against all odds, there was actually a grain of truth there; according to the Guardian, “This is true – but it was a joke. During a 2016 speech in Abu Dhabi, Biden addressed troops and told them: “Notwithstanding what you may hear about me, I have incredibly good judgment. One, I married Jill. And two, I appointed Johnson to the Academy, I just want you to know that.”

He was referring to Lt Karen Johnson, of Wilmington, Delaware. After a pause, Biden said: “Clap for that, you stupid bastards.”

The former vice-president also praised the troops, saying that Americans “appreciate, but they don’t fully understand the incredible sacrifices you make for our country”, Biden added. He thanked the soldiers and their families.”

I won’t bother with Trump’s lies, which were legion and mostly obvious. You know he’s a liar, I know he’s a liar, we all know he’s a liar. ‘Nuff said. At one point though, he said that whenever you saw Biden, he was wearing a mask, while pointing to Biden, who of course was not wearing a mask. Adderall or dementia? You be the judge.

I only caught Biden on one misstatement, when he said Trump stood to be the first president to have a net loss of jobs at the end of a term. He’s actually the third, behind Hoover but slightly ahead of George W. Bush.

People were watching the debate. In the final 60 minutes, the Biden campaign got an extraordinary $3.8 million in donations, by a considerable margin the biggest hour fund-raising in presidential campaign history.

The debate was a complete shitshow, and while Wallace wasn’t a great moderator, most of the blame rests with Trump, who showed beyond any reasonable doubt what a vile, filthy, prevaricating piece of shit he really is. Anyone still supporting him at this point needs to look in the mirror and ask themselves what sort of person they have become.

Two more debates to go. Sigh. Don’t expect statesmanship from Trump. On the other hand, he’s sinking himself quite well, so it isn’t a complete waste.

Amy Coney Barrett — Godstruck, Authoritarian, and part of Scalia’s nonsense doctrine

September 26th 2020

Amy Coney Barrett once said that we should always remember that a “legal career is but a means to an end . . . and that end is building the Kingdom of God.”

This, by itself, should be a disqualifying statement for a Supreme Court nominee. The role of any American judge is to uphold the law as it exists under the United States Constitution. Not the bible. Not some tooth fairy interpretation of the universe.

The Constitution doesn’t mention any kingdoms of god. Indeed, it only mentions religion twice, second in in the well known “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” and first in the main body of the Constitution, as the only clause that cannot be amended: “but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”. The joint purpose of both clauses is to prevent government from favoring any religion over any other religion, and to prevent religion from using government for its own empowerment.

Interpreting American law as a device for the establishment of a religious kingdom is an undesirable trait in a municipal night court judge; it’s a horror show in the mind of a Supreme Court justice. Justices interpret the Constitution, which doesn’t mention God, Allah, Thor, Coyote or any other being as being superior to itself.

Kingdoms of God—i.e., theocracies—are without exception repressive and cruel. There is no room for individual rights in such, and one can search scriptures of any religion in vain for mention of freedom of speech, freedom of worship, or selecting one’s own representatives. Indeed, most scriptures have very long lists of ideas and opinions that can mandate being put to death. In so-called “Christian” lands, the Catholic Church has a particularly bad record over the years of mass killings, pogroms, and terrorization of any who didn’t worship as they wanted.

The very first thing Barrett’s “Kingdom of God” would have to deal with would be the non-believers, the ‘blasphemers’ and the ‘perverts’. The results would be bloody and vicious, as bad as what we see in Saudi Arabia or Iraq today.

The second big problem with this nomination is that Barrett, a clerk for Tony Scalia, adopted his amazing nonsense known as “Originalism” in which the SC justices are supposed to divine the original intent of the authors of the Constitution.

Aside from the insanity of trying to divine the inner thoughts and hopes of men through their 18th century verbiage, there’s one significant problem with original intent: it doesn’t exist.

Nearly every line, every clause of the Constitution was vigorously and sometimes vociferously debated. Even the parts of the first Constitution, the Articles of Confederation, that they decided to blend into the new document were argued over. After all, the Articles had failed, which is why, ten years after winning independence, the colonies were still trying to figure out a new government.

The Federalist and Anti-Federalist papers show the amazing diversity of opinions that had to be appeased, assuaged, and mixed into a main document that wound up in a lot of spots being a lot less than clear or even coherent. The whole thing was written by committee, for Pete’s sake! The Bill of Rights was an afterthought, and it, too, was subject to a wide range of input as to its form, or even if it should exist at all. Some feared that government might conclude that rights were limited to those in the Bill of Rights, and so as an after-afterthought, stating “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” Then it occurred to the Founders that this meant people could start assigning themselves rights all willy-nilly, so they had an after-after-afterthought, and added the Tenth amendment, which read, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” It took endless debates about Nullification and a Civil War for them to realize that States should not be allowed to override the rights guaranteed to all by the Constitution.

Given what a dog’s breakfast the creation of the Constitution was, it’s a bit of a wonder it’s worked as well as it has, really.

But it’s utter insanity to claim there was some sort of monolithic “original intent” in the Constitution.

Finally, Barrett is a Dominionist. This is the “Gott uber alles” crowd who think their particular religion has supremacy over the Constitution (despite the Supremacy Clause in the Constitution, the one part where the intent of the Founders is easy to discern!).

They want to blend the incoherence of the original intent crowd with the far greater incoherence of the bible literalists to produce a governing body that is morally bankrupt, intellectually absurd, and as capricious as a cow on ice, with belief and governance combining to each thoroughly corrupt the other.

Barrett is a contemptible and calculated sop to the crowd that has America’s worst interests at heart, a corrupt and cynical ploy for the support of people who really don’t like the idea of a free and independent United States.

Are there any Republicans with the patriotism, courage, and intellect to reject this pathetic bible flogger?

Trump Must Go — Insane President crosses the line

Trump Must Go

Insane President crosses the line

September 24th, 2020

Brian Karem: “Will you commit to make sure there’s a peaceful transferral of power after the election?”

Trump “We’re going to have to see what happens, you know that. I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots, and the ballots are a disaster.”

Karem:“I understand that, but people are rioting. Do you commit to make sure that there’s a peaceful transferral of power?”

Trump: “Get rid of the ballots and you’ll have a very peaceful — there won’t be a transfer, frankly. There will be a continuation. The ballots are out of control. You know it. And you know who knows it better than anybody else? The Democrats know it better than anybody else.”

The only decent thing Trump could do after a statement like that is to resign his office. No President has ever said those sort of things, that no matter how the vote went, he would be staying. Not Madison during the War of 1812. Not Lincoln during the Civil War. Not Hoover during the economic crisis of 1932. Not FDR during the second world war. Not Nixon. No president has ever effectively said, “Fuck how the vote goes; I’m staying.”

Trump has been signaling for months that he would lie, cheat, steal, even stage a coup to stay in power. He knows that once out of office, his only realistic future is prison. He may even suspect that after years of lies, vilification and murderous disregard for the lives of Americans, nobody outside of his worshipful cult is interested in cutting him any slack. He might argue he made too many enemies; the fact is that he simply betrayed and hurt too many people.

We’ve watched him subvert the entire governmental apparatus, filling hundreds of positions with servile and corrupt lackeys. He has even trashed the integrity of the CDC rather than have any authority admit that due mostly to his cruel incompetence, the US still has a raging pandemic that is likely to kill another two hundred thousand people in America before the spring arrives. The GOP was on a steep downward moral and ethical trajectory before Trump ran for office, but now it is nothing but a pathetic collection of hypocrites, apparatchiks, cowards, traitors and brownshirts. The best of Trump supporters are blank-eyed cultists. The worst are pure filth, the sort of people who enabled Hitler in the 1930s.

An electrifying article the day before in the Atlantic detailed a scheme the White House was contemplating to have the republican-held assemblies in such states that go blue in November simply select their own cadre of electors so the state would vote for Trump in the electoral college, regardless of public vote. It’s not clear as to whether this subverts the Constitution or not, but it was a clear move to override the will of the people.

The best thing Trump could do right now is resign, and throw himself on the mercy of the public. He won’t do that, of course. Even to save his life he won’t do it, because his entire pampered, wastrel life was spent simply bullying and lying his way through every crime and breach of decent behavior he ever committed. He even robbed and cheated the people who helped him commit those crimes and transgressions.

That should be a warning to his supporters (a warning vividly made by Michael Cohen his book, “Disloyal”). If you think supporting Trump after all he’s done will protect you and put you in positions of power afterward, remember what happened to the brownshirts in Hitler’s Germany. Trump won’t respect you, he won’t protect you, he will betray you. He doesn’t appreciate you, and he won’t trust you. After all, by supporting him and making him emperor, you’ve already betrayed your country once. You’re weak links. You need to be voted off the island.

And he would be right. If you support Trump now, you support a traitor, and whether you believe it or not, you are betraying your country. Trump knows that, and doesn’t mind taking advantage of you now so he can discard you like a used condom later.

As for Trump himself, we know he won’t resign. If he manages to destroy the election (and he’s doing everything he can to destroy a fair and full election, including destroying the post office and brainwashing people into thinking America is incapable of an honest vote count) then the American people will have to come for him, and dig him out of the White House like a rat from its hole. If he rejects the election results, don’t wait for inauguration day: take him out of office and throw him in prison right way.

Trump, pampered and isolated his entire life, has no idea what he is fucking with. When the people decide enough is enough, no force can stand in their way.

Yes, that’s a coup. But it’s a counter-coup, a coup FOR America. You aren’t overthrowing a legitimate president.

You’re taking out vicious, malicious trash. You are saving America.

Trump must go. It’s either him or us.

The Notorious — Ruth Bader Ginsburg

The Notorious

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

September 20th 2020

1933 was the deepest moment of the Great Depression. FDR told the American people they had nothing to fear but fear itself, and while it gave the people some resolve, it was nonetheless one of the most frightening times in US history.

It was also a time when, despite Reconstruction, most African-Americans found it difficult if not impossible to vote, own property, or enter most places of business. Restaurants sometimes had signs, “We Don’t Serve Jews” and of course Jews were banned from most country clubs and golf courses. Other visibly ethic people endured discrimination ranging from stereotypal jokes to treatment as poor as that afforded blacks and Jews.

Women had only won the right to vote a dozen years before, but could not have their own credit, own property in some states, and were effectively banned from most professions. While nursing and teaching are anything but menial, they were seen as being menial enough for women to perform such tasks.

In addition to being female and Jewish and born in 1933, RBG had a fourth strike against her: she was diminutive. I doubt she ever weighed more than 100 pounds.

Beating a lot of odds, she grew up to be a lawyer. And her first legal act as such was to write a brief in a tiny Idaho estate case, wherein the parents of a deceased teen wrangled over who should be executor. Idaho law said that a male should be executor in wills, and the mother disagreed. Ginsburg’s brief carried the day, and helped strike down the “males-only” rule in Idaho estate law. Courts had never invalidated a sex-based law like that one before. Indeed, less than 100 years earlier, the Court had banned women from even being lawyers, ruling that “The paramount destiny and mission of woman are to fulfil the noble and benign offices of wife and mother. This is the law of the Creator.”

Yes, Dorothy, that is why we have separation of church and state. It reduces the idiocy factor.

Ginsburg herself was fond of saying she rode on the shoulders of giants. The metaphor, often attributed to Isaac Newton, actually came from Bernard de Chatres in the 12th century.

For Ginsburg, it was particularly apt, because she brought her love of fairness, justice and equality to the legal profession just at the time when a tidal wave of change was sweeping the country. Civil rights expanded, destroying the walls of segregation and Jim Crow, and sweeping outward to eliminate thousands of rules and laws that held women down, or worse, “protected them.” In the beginning of the 60’s, the Supreme Court upheld a law barring women from jury duty, arguing that they were “the center of the home and family life” and simultaneously too frail to be subject to the horrors of the criminal life.

Her first case argued before the SC, Frontiero v. Richardson. Spouses of female soldiers—then still quite a rarity—had to prove they were dependent on the income of said soldiers in order to qualify for the same benefits that spouses of male soldiers received without question.

Her most influential and consequential brief came in 1976, Craig v. Boren, a case about different drinking ages for men and women which led to the Supreme Court setting rigid criteria for determining the constitutionality of cases where the law varied based on gender. Ginsberg was no ideologue for women: she cheerfully took up the gauntlet to fight laws that discriminated against men, as well. Her’s wasn’t a battle of the sexes; it was a battle for fairness.

Her entire legal career was devoted to that tenet, and spanned hundreds of cases, both in the Supreme Court and in the lower courts. Her love of law and passion for justice was so formidable that

Bill Clinton, upon nominating her for the court, compared her to Thurgood Marshall. It was a comparison notably missing from descriptions of the man who actually replaced Marshall on the Court.

As her health declined, her courage and determination, already legendary in legal circles, became known to the public, and this tiny and seemingly frail little old lady was seen as a wall against the rise of fascism in America. Nobody would have blamed her if she had laid down the mantle five years before, but she understood the thinking of the American right—who thought of her as a “fast-talking Jew from New York” all too well. She understood that she stood to be replaced by a snarling bible-beater who would hold equal rights in withering contempt. She fought far beyond what could be reasonably expected of anyone in holding that off.

She may have won this last, final battle. Her dying wish was that her replacement be named by the President taking office in January, a reasonable request given the “no SC nominations during an election year” history that the Republicans hold so dear. Trump wants another Bill Barr on the Court. Biden will select an actual lover of the Constitution. She may have survived long enough to make it impossible for enough Republicans to replace her with fascist trash. For her, it wasn’t partisanship or even ideology; it was love of justice, and the fairness of the law.

She stood on the shoulders of giants, and did them proud, moving forward.

Now we must stand on her frail, tiny shoulders, and move forward, and make her proud.