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.

The Cultivation of America — Teaching free people to drink Kool-aid

The Cultivation of America

Teaching free people to drink Kool-aid

September 18th, 2020

As this is being written, the horribly sad news broke that the great Ruth Bader Ginsberg has died from complications of pancreatic cancer. An extraordinarily brave and determined woman, she represents the best America will be.

Now is the time to remind Republicans that eight months before the election in 2016, they announced they would not consider a nomination to the court in an election year. If their lust for power causes them to forget that stand, remind them that people have had enough of this criminal and corrupt reign of GOP power, and an attempt to ram some third-rate Nazi onto the court over the next 45 days will result in severe civil strife.

Talking with Trump supporters, one is struck by the things they believe that are patently false. The economy is not great under Trump. In fact, it didn’t grow as fast in the first three years of Trump as it did in the final three years of Obama. And the fourth year has been a catastrophe, one created by the pandemic but made far worse by the Republicans taking advantage of the crisis to steal trillions from the country. Biden isn’t a socialist. I’m a socialist, and I wish to hell he was, but he isn’t. Neither of us are communists. Wearing a mask is no more an infringement on rights than requiring shoes in a restaurant, or having to drive on the left-hand side of the road. Nobody’s coming for their guns, or making them be atheist, or forcing them into same-sex marriage.

The range of belief is from simply uninformed to utterly ridiculous. Obama isn’t a Moslem, and nor is his minister. Antifa isn’t intent on burning Oregon down. Trump isn’t one of the common men. Not unless you pronounce the first “m” like an “n”. He didn’t get rid of the deficit—he quadrupled it. YOUR taxes didn’t go down, but he wants you to give up your Social Security and Medicare to make up for the cost of the taxes lost to billionaires and corporations. Oh, yes, and COVID-19 is a real thing, and actually has killed nearly a quarter million Americans. It wasn’t made up by scientists to make Trump look bad. He did that all on his own.

Nonetheless, it doesn’t dissuade followers. One was quoted in the Guardian as saying, “It’s [the pandemic] a ploy to take away from (Trump’s) success.”

These delusions are not only impervious, but tend to strengthen when opposing points of view appear.

The delusions, constantly reinforced by the right wing disinformation bubble and Trump himself, are red-flag markers of cultic thinking. Roughly 40% of Americans have joined a cult.

While most cults are reasonably harmless, some are predatory and malicious, and all, given enough power, become very dangerous, given that they are predicated on such tenets as separation from the greater society, most often in the form of a paranoid “us versus them” worldview, replete with conspiracy theories, and mistrust of established authority, be it governmental, scientific or educational. Most have some form of bigotry backing the sense of separation. It’s not uncommon to see cultists who fervently believe that a clandestine cabal of “those people” secretly control the world through wealth and hidden power, and simultaneously believe that those very same people are intellectually and morally inferior to themselves. Nearly all powerful sects believe the existing order must be torn down and replaced with, well, something.

That “something” is almost always utopian in theory, and horrific in practice. Cults aren’t emotionally or mentally equipped to deal with dissent, and people who refuse to submit to the utopian demands of the cult are rapidly targeted for punishment, either though ostracization or more severe measure, including imprisonment and death.

In the most dangerous types of cult, the cult of personality, the goal is a utopia run by the leader. The Leader, whether it be Hitler or Jim Jones or Donald Trump, is seen as wise, generous, benevolent, and caring for his followers. Usually none of those characteristics are accurate. Such leaders are authoritarian, narcissistic, and manipulative.

While cults of personality are usually the most dangerous, they are also the most vulnerable. The leaders tend to conflate their ideas with themselves, and the ideas often don’t hold up well in the absence of the leader. The leader doesn’t usually have a good second-in-command, an item seen as a vulnerability, a reminder that the leader won’t be there forever, and a possible threat from within. Number two in cults tend to be ruthless enforcers, devoted to carrying out the leader’s will and never having any particular will of their own.

Remove the leader in a cult of personality, and the cult usually collapses in relatively short order. There are exceptions, of course. Scientology and Mormonism survived the deaths of their founders. And Christianity is sort of an oddball situation, where the leader had already been dead for some 300 years before the cult really got going and they maintain their status by assuring everyone he’ll be back any old time now.

But in nearly all cases, a cult collapses when the central figure is removed. Sometimes the ideas survive, and resurrect themselves in different forms down the road. Hitler may be dead, but after three generations, Nazism is enjoying a bit of a revival. New iterations of the People’s Temple will horrify the world every decade or so. Mao is long gone, but the Chinese government survived by turning its back on everything Mao stood for and prevailing through sheer authoritarian muscle. Stalin died, and communism used authoritarianism to cling to power for nearly 50 years, and I’ve no doubt new communist movements will arise in the future.

Toxic ideas survive, but the leaders do not.

But removing the leader does suppress his followers. If Trump loses the election, he may fight it, but his followers for the most part will have the wind taken out of their sails. The ones that threaten to fight in the event of Biden winning will find themselves on television, fighting American troops, and they won’t have the support to continue. Their families will spend generations pretending they never existed.

Trump won’t accept the election, and in the event he declares he won’t leave the White House, the government must remove him, by force if necessary, and don’t even wait for the Inauguration. Remove Trump and jail him for trial, and let Pence try to hold the government together until January. Jail Barr, too—he’s Trump’s real second in command, a vicious thug who will cheerfully commit atrocities to keep Trump ascendant. He knows without Trump, he has no future.

But Trump is the center of his cult, and without him, there is little for his followers to cling to.

If he fights the election results, take him out. Do it now. It will save the country from a brief but very painful civil war. Remember, the cult is Trump, and Trump is the cult. Defeat Trump, and you defeat the cult.

What the hell is wrong with cops? — Police are losing support—deservedly

September 14th 2020

The other day, two sheriff’s deputies were gunned down in Compton, apparently while just sitting peaceably in their vehicle. Both are in critical condition. One was a rookie, the other a mother of a six year old. A heinous crime by any standard.

A couple of hours later, the Sheriff’s Department tweeted: “To the protesters blocking the entrance & exit of the HOSPITAL EMERGENCY ROOM yelling ‘We hope they die’ referring to 2 LA Sheriff’s ambushed today in #Compton: DO NOT BLOCK EMERGENCY ENTRIES & EXITS TO THE HOSPITAL. People’s lives are at stake when ambulances can’t get through,” It was a horrific accusation, utterly appalling, and it stirred up the most volatile and stupid right winger in the country, who tweeted from the West Wing, “Animals that must be hit hard!”

Presumably that would be the residents of Compton. It doesn’t take much imagination to guess who Trump is calling animals, and his Central Park Five behavior makes it clear he doesn’t care which animals are guilty of what, just so long as he can get a few of them executed.

There’s just one problem. The crowd at the ER, the chanting, blocking emergency vehicles—none of that happened. There were cameras there. None of it occurred. The Sheriff’s Department lied. They invented it, in hopes presumably of raising some sympathy for themselves and murderous rage against people in Compton.

It’s the sort of behavior you expect from Nazis, not Police.

Horrific fires have slashed through much of the west, destroying at least a half a dozen towns and killing at least 35 people. The fires are still burning: where I live the air quality is frightening, and a neighbor made the unnerving observation that if a fire broke out nearby, the smoke would hide it.

According to the Daily Beast, “A sheriff’s deputy in Clackamas County, Oregon, was suspended Saturday after video showed him propagating baseless rumors that anti-fascist activists had started the wildfires now devastating the state.

Video shows the deputy—an unidentified bald man calling himself Mark—saying, “Antifa motherf–kers are out causing hell, and there’s a lot of lives at stake and there’s a lot of people’s property at stake because these guys got some vendetta.” He also warns of “antifa or other crazy left-wing people” attacking firefighters.”

No, Antifa isn’t starting the fires, and there’s no sane reason to assume they are. No firefighters were attacked. The conspiracy theory came from Qanon, who apparently base it on nothing more than the fact that the present fire siege has largely spared Western Canada, which apparently doesn’t have a problem with fascists, and thus no need for antifa. But Qanon are utter filth who don’t mind using a massive tragedy for political gain.

And they have police broadcasting this filth because the police want to believe this sort of filth. Liberals must die!

It’s the sort of behavior you expect from Nazis, not Police.

In Phoenix Arizona, a fantastically cruel arrest happened in August of last year, just now making the news due to a following lawsuit. According the the Guardian, “Roniah Trotter, 17, said a policeman grabbed her and held her face down on the sidewalk while trying to arrest her, placing his knee on her back. By the time officers allowed her to get off the ground, she had suffered second-degree burns across her shoulder and arm, her medical records show. There were record-breaking 113F (45C) temperatures that day.”

She suffered permanent scars to her face. She never was charged, apparently because all she was guilty of was being black in the proximity of a minor disturbance. Scarred for life. For no reason at all.

It’s the sort of behavior you expect from Nazis, not Police.

There are a lot of reasons why, in a time when public criticism of police tactics is growing, police are responding in exactly the wrong way. Their jobs are more dangerous, due not only to the increasing deprivation of the American people, but to the proliferation of gun nuts and the rise of Trumpian insanity, coalescing around Qanon, which is a sort of labor union for mental cases.

But part of it is the “Thin Blue Line” mentality which protects bent and twisted cops. Not just corrupt cops, but sick motherfuckers who want to follow in the footsteps of Hitler.

Former neo-Nazi Frank Meeink is on record saying, “I know that there are neo-Nazis who I used to run with who are now cops,” he told The Daily Beast. “And that’s just in my crew. Imagine how many neo-Nazis and white nationalists have been becoming cops? Three of the people in my crew alone became cops.”

The FBI has for some time been warning of infiltration by white supremacists into police forces all across the country. A lot of them hide their extremist leaning until they are vested and nearly impossible to fire, coddled by police unions who will stop at nothing to protect police from the public.

We know what sort of behavior to expect from Nazis. Anyone who thinks Hitler’s animus was aimed solely at Jews needs to read the book “A New Order”–the one Trump famously kept by his bedside for years. Hitler envisioned eliminating all but the 5% of humanity he adjudged to be “pure blooded” Further, even the right DNA wouldn’t protect you if he didn’t like your politics. German citizens who were socialists, intellectuals, communists and trade unionists were the first to be herded into the camps.

Nazis are Nazis are Nazis. They haven’t changed.

Imagine getting pulled over by some Nazi Pig in a cop costume for failing to come to a complete stop. That’s all you’ve done wrong. But he’s noticed your Bernie Sanders bumper sticker, and in his mind, you’re already “resisting arrest” and “reaching for a knife.”

It’s the sort of behavior we expect from Nazis.

It should never be the sort of behavior we expect from Police.

Ducks in a Row — Trump continues to self-destruct

September 6th 2020

In a month that has been an utter catastrophe for Donald Trump, what with the convention and the Atlantic’s report on his attitudes toward the military, and all it needed was one more mishap that would not only put the GOP in a negative light, but be ridiculous and hilarious. Despising Trump and all that he stands for is wearisome. We needed a good laugh.

So the Texas Republicans decided that what was needed was a boat parade for Donald. So they had an excursion on Lake Travis, which for some reason isn’t named for a country and western singer. This has been a thing with GOP’ers, who think that having a bunch of RWCs poncing about on luxury boats is just what the GOP needs to do to reach out to the working class. But some weather cropped up. Nothing real dramatic—no twisters or hurricanes. Just rain and gusts of wind, but as we’ve had ample opportunity to learn over the past few years, money doesn’t buy knowledge or competence. Several of the boats—at least four, probably more—foundered. I would say that no souls were lost, but this was a GOP parade—you would have to find some souls first. Let’s just say there were no injuries. Which is a good thing, I guess.

As a result, I couldn’t help but think of Stephen Leacock’s The Sinking of the Mariposa Belle. Stephen Leacock was Garrison Keillor or Stuart McLean long before either was born, and doubtlessly inspired both. Mariposa Belle is a 1911 story known to every Canadian schoolchild, about a steamboat which sets out on the waters of Lake Wissanotti with 150 revelers on board to celebrate Excursion Day, which was probably Dominion Day, which is now Canada Day, but is still held July 1st (April 11th in the metric calendar). Fate strikes about mid afternoon when the ship sinks. Frantic villagers send a rescue boat out to rescue the revelers, but it, too, sinks. However, tragedy is averted when the would-be rescuers hop out of the boat and wade over to the Belle, which is sitting on the lake bed in several feet of water, and they all end up wading to shore. The ship’s engineer had been busy below decks, using pitch to patch over the hole and a bilge pump to get rid of the four feet of water, and once everyone is off, the Belle pops right back up and floats back to the home dock, and one hundred and fifty people have lurid and spectacular tales to tell about how they survived the Sinking of the Mariposa Belle.

What a metaphor for Trump’s reelection effort that is! People were already invoking the Titanic in a variety of ways, many of which were time-honored, and now we can combine that image with one of ducks in a shooting gallery. Or if you happen to be one of the many working-class Americans who own a yacht, shooting skeet.

OK. Let’s take Skeet as an example.

Pull! “Let’s force schools to reopen and reassure the public that it’s GOOD of many of them die in the name of herd immunity!”

Pull! “Let’s turn the convention into a weird promotion of cult-of-personality and conspiracy-mongering!”

Pull! “Let’s fuck with the Post Office and side with a crazed murderous vigilante on a law-and-order platform.”

Pull! “Let’s assure the veterans that they’re OK by us but they really are losers and suckers!”

The rest of us can just visualize a line of Titanics, each in turn hitting the iceberg and sinking.

This sort of buffoonery merely underscores the undisciplined and essentially vacant mind of Donald J. Trump. He fits the stereotype of “the idle rich,” complete with high levels of corruption and depravity.

But what is going to kill him politically is another trait of a social class willfully alienated from a society at large—contempt for the military. The items in the Atlantic piece aren’t all that revelatory, except for the memorable “losers and suckers” quote. Trump’s willingness to disparage the military in general, his open contempt for POWs, Gold Star Parents and Generals was already well-known. The Atlantic simply put it all together in one damning package.

Now, the Trump cult are trained like circus seals to automatically reject any reporting that is detrimental or disparaging toward Beloved Leader, so nobody expected them to accept the Atlantic reporting. And Trump, cunning enough to realize he was taking monstrous damage from pissing on the troops, vehemently denied the story, going so far as to demand Fox News fire one reporter who corroborated the story. (Fox, to their faint credit, didn’t fire the reporter). But nobody expected Trump’s followers to suddenly start thinking, and to nobody’s surprise, they didn’t.

But it was amazing how many people outside of the cult looked at the Atlantic piece and went, “Oh, my goodness! I had no idea!”

The fact is that Trump’s contempt and loathing for the military have been staring us in the face right along. He openly mocked the Gold Star family that appeared at the Democratic Convention in 2016. He refused to appear at a cemetery in France to lay a wreath to the fallen American dead because he didn’t want to get his hair wet. Hundreds of retired line officers have spoken out against him, describing him as unfit to be commander-in-chief because he has no respect for those who serve.

If you are in the military or have relatives and friends in the military, hearing that Trump thinks of them as suckers and losers because they are in the military, would you trust Trump to have the safety or welfare of the troops in mind when and if he faces a military crisis? Or would he just throw them away like used condoms?

Finally, Trump has nothing but contempt for just about any value Americans have. Environment, human rights, civil rights, basic decency, rule of law—Trump pisses on all of those. He comes from a long line of draft dodgers. Granddaddy got kicked out of Germany as a draft dodger and wound up running whorehouses in the Yukon. Daddy threated to cut anyone from the will if they joined the military or the peace corps. Donnie himself got a completely bogus medical deferment so he didn’t have to go to Vietnam. His entire class of society regards the military as a tiresome and expensive way of maintaining their wealth, and as a general rule, see military service as something little people with no future do. Not for their pampered and dissolute spawn. Donald is much too good to hobnob with the likes of Tammy Duckworth or Colonel Vindeman.

Maybe this will be what finally destroys Trump. Something must, because his moral and ethical vacancy will eventually destroy us.

Horst Wessell II — Blake, Rittenhouse and the Kenosha PD

August 29th 2020

The shooting of Jacob Blake by a Kenosha cop was disgraceful enough. He was shot seven times in the back while trying to comply with police orders to leave the home of his ex-wife. She had a restraining order against him for threatened violence, and the police seemingly were doing their job.

Blake walked around the front of his car, and two cops behind him pulled their guns. He opened the drivers’ side door, and one of the cops, Rusten Sheskey, grabbed him by the shirt and unloaded seven rounds into his back. Blake’s three young children were in the back seat of the car.

Later, the Justice Department—Bill Barr’s Justice Department—said Blake had a knife on the floor of his car. It’s not clear how a knife in such a location could be a threat to several armed cops. No knife has been produced yet, and it’s a mystery why they didn’t just say that Blake was reaching for his waistcoat, a form of apparel favored by African-Americans who wish to be gunned down by police.

Paralyzed from a shattered spine, Blake was transported to a local hospital where Kenosha police shackled his motionless legs to the hospital bed because he had an outstanding misdemeanor warrant. It took a week and a large public outcry before the Kenosha police worked up their courage and removed the shackles. Perhaps they thought leaving him unshackled would remind people that slavery was no longer legal and African-Americans weren’t supposed to be shackled.

There’s a certain element amongst the police who seem to believe that the way to handle public outrage over the arbitrary slaughter of black suspects is to continue to gun down unarmed men who, usually, are accused of either minor crimes or of being in the area where a crime might have occurred and aren’t threatening anyone. They aren’t doing a very good job of reading the room. People are outraged, and protests ensued.

It went from bad to worse, which, given how it began, meant that it got about as bad as it could be.

Self-styled “patriotic militia groups”, aka Brownshirts, aka Street Nazis, quickly started calling on armed thugs to converge on Kenosha to protect those poor, quivering, weeping little police fellows from the housewives and students and kids who thought arbitrarily shooting people was a bad thing. How dare they defy the Second Amendment like that?

Facebook missed a spot, and while they were censoring a friend who jokingly called his life partner/husband of 50 years a “fag” overlooked the call to protect the police of Kenosha from thugs and commies. Communism used to be defined by economics. Now it’s defined by race. Black is the new Red. Anyway, the call went out. “Street Nazis, Assemble!” And every buffoon with an AR-15 and an itch to bag liberals and darkies showed up. One of them was a kid named Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, who lived about 20 miles away in Illinois.

Now, I was a protester back in the 60s and 70s, and I remember that cops hated outside agitators. People who came from other places to instigate trouble. Cops hated those. Hate, hate, hate. But the very worst ones were the ones who crossed state lines to agitate. It’s not clear why being from out of state made them so much worse, but they were. Now, I live in California, and while Oregon has its share of assholes, they don’t seem any worse than our home-grown ones.

None-the-less, “crossing state lines” to agitate is the worst offense possible in the eyes of the protect-and-defend crowd, and when they see an outside agitator, they pull out the PR-24s and get to whaling.

So when Rittenhouse showed up from Illinois (Note: not the same state as Wisconsin, which is where Kenosha is) they pulled out the clubs and bean-bag guns and tear gas and set out to flatten Rittenhouse’s commie ass, right?

Well, not so you’d notice. Instead, they drove by the collection of heavily armed right wing misfits, and told them over a loudspeaker mounted on their weapon-of-war vehicle that they really appreciated the help the guys were providing, and tossed them bottles of water so they would be refreshed and well-hydrated when they started shooting down unarmed Americans in the streets.

Rittenhouse fired into a group of protesters standing in front of a gas station. One theory is that he wanted to protect the gas station from the mob, but there’s nothing to suggest the mob had any interest in that particular gas station. But you know, thugs and commies can be so irrational, so Rittenhouse did what any good, loyal, patriotic citizen would do, and opened fire on the crowd, killing one.

The crowd gave chase, which must have scared the piss out of Rittenhouse, since he had a big gun and the people chasing him did not. He tripped over his own feet and, from flat on his back, fired at the people surrounding him, killing another and injuring a third. He got up and trotted toward the group of police vehicles, a half dozen of which had a clear view of the shooting. He had his hands up, presumably hoping the police would take him into custody and protect him from the people who were unaccountably annoyed with him. Kenosha PD were his friends. They wouldn’t shackle him to any hospital bed.

The police let him walk past them, AR-15 slung over his shoulder, and ignored cries from the crowd that he had killed someone. All the police knew was the crowd, for some reason, was riled up, and it looked to them like the work of outside agitators from out of state. They didn’t have time to give a nice little white boy with a gun a lift to his car. Poor Rittenhouse had to walk to his car, and only then could he start it up and drive home.

The next day, apparently concerned that he may have violated a zoning law or something, he turned himself in—to Illinois police. In Illinois, he’s a minor. In Wisconsin, he isn’t. That may have had something to do with it. If nothing else, Illinois would get an assurance that Wisconsin wouldn’t seek the death penalty before turning him over. His lawyer is reportedly a member of Qanon, which basically is the Republican Party these days.

I have a friend who thinks we should start referring to that crowd as “The Shallow State.” That works for me.

The next day, the Chief of the Kenosha police, one Daniel Miskinis gave a press conference, and uttered a statement that showed, beyond any possible doubt, the courage, integrity and steadfastness of the Kenosha Police. He said (and I’m not making this up) “Persons who were out after the curfew became engaged in some type of disturbance, and persons were shot. Everybody involved was out after the curfew. I’m not going to make a great deal of that, but the point is the curfew is in place to protect…Had persons not been out involved in violation of that, perhaps the situation that unfolded would not have happened…It is the persons who were involved after the legal time, involved in illegal activity, that brought violence to this community.”

Yes, those people violently stopped .223 rounds from an AR-15. And of course, there’s the matter of Rittenhouse and his gang of street Nazis, who were ALSO out after curfew. If the Kenosha Police Department, at any point, showed any sign of intelligence, courage, and desire to uphold the law, it was when they politely refused a request from the street nazis to deputize them. Somewhere in the aching caverns of their police sensibilities, they may have sensed that violent, heavily-armed and undisciplined right wing thugs, filled with rage at uppity Negroes, might not be the best candidates to bestow badges on. Or maybe they were afraid the street Nazis would show them up. In any event, it was the one thing they got right.

I would say that it couldn’t get much worse than this, but this is exactly what the Fuhrer-in-waiting, Donald Trump, wants. He wants racial strife, and rage verging on civil war. So expect him to weigh in on the side of Rittenhouse, and have the Justice Department press to have charges dismissed. He may even talk of pardoning Rittenhouse.

It’s how he rolls. This is a golden opportunity for him. In Rittenhouse, he has his Horst Wessel.

It’s a good time to remember that you are better than the Kenosha Police and their pitiful chief. You are better than Rittenhouse and his coterie of street Nazis. And most of all, you are better than Donald Trump, the ultimate outside agitator.

Let The ShitShow Begin! — America, Get Ready To Vomiiittt!

August 22nd 2020

I mentioned on Facebook that the lineup of speakers for this week’s Republican National Convention would consist of Republicans who had made bail, weren’t institutionalized, or hadn’t endorsed the Biden/Harris ticket. That, at least, would keep the proceedings brief, which is another way of saying it would give Trump more time to rant at us about how we’re all a bunch of ungrateful swine who don’t keep our forests raked.

At this point, I think more Republicans have endorsed Biden than have endorsed Trump. No, really. There are thousands of never-Trumper Republicans involved in the Lincoln Project and the Meidas Touch and on and on. Several progressives I know noted sourly that the Democratic National Convention had more Republicans endorsing Biden than they did lefties.

Now they point out that a lot of these Republicans, bright enough to realize that Trump is too much of a good thing and while fascism is good for business, Nazism is catastrophic, have simply jumped ship and hope to have influence over Biden and continue many of the same policies that led to Trump. Others recognize Trump and his crowd as an existential threat to America and are actually motivated by a sense of patriotism and decency. And of course, most are an admixture of either. But one statement applies to all of them: they are Republicans who realize that Trump was a horrible mistake.

The Democratic Convention was a marvel of concision and planning, two hours each night, nary a glitch, capped by a home-run by Biden, who eliminated any doubts about his vitality and mental acumen with a roaring, heart-felt acceptance speech.

The Republican Convention? Well, nobody quite knows where Donald is going to give his acceptance speech. He was planning to speak all four nights, but rumor has it they got him to back down to three cameos and then the acceptance speech. Maybe. Donald’s ego probably isn’t happy about that.

Other speakers: Vogue described it this way: “Melanie Trump, the first lady, will speak on Tuesday night, perhaps from the revamped Rose Garden that she recently announced was her latest project. And though the days and times have not been confirmed, all three of Trump’s adult children from his first marriage – Donald Jr., Eric and Ivanka – are expected to speak, as may Tiffany Trump, the president’s daughter with Marla Maples, wife number two. And don’t be surprised if speaking slots also go to Jared Kushner, Ivanka’s husband, who reportedly has taken over much of the convention planning in recent days; Lara Trump, wife of Eric and a frequent commentator on Fox News; and Kimberley Guilfoyle, Donald Jr.’s girlfriend, a former Fox News host and now the national chair of the Trump Victory Finance Committee 2020.”

What, no Mary Trump? Gosh, and her book about the family was the best seller of the year. Good book, too. You would think Donald would love the attention.

Just imagine how much damage one federal marshal with a fist full of arrest warrants could do. He could wipe out the whole bloody nest of Trumps in one evening.

Virtually nobody in the higher echelons of the party will be there. None of the Bushs. None of the Cheneys. No Ryan. No Romney. No McCains. (Cindy, John’s widow, did speak at the DNC convention).

All three of Trump’s 2016 campaign managers are either in jail, pardoned, or indicted, so they won’t be there. Several of the more noisome hacks from the House will be there, all eying a potential nomination in 2024 assuming the GOP even still exists then. None of them will be there because they love Trump. Nobody loves Trump. But they want to lay political groundwork either to advance their careers or avoid being shipped to the Gulag. McConnell was finally persuaded to give a brief pre-recorded speech.

Patricia and Mark McCloskey, the disheveled clowns who pointed their guns at peaceful demonstrators in St. Louis, will be there, presumably to protect Trump from any marauding Negroes who might be delivering mail or walking their dogs or similar nefarious activities. Nick Sandmann, the kid who caught flack, probably unfairly, for seemingly mocking a tribal elder will be there, probably to orate about the fake media. The usual collection of no-choice fundie nuts will be there. If there’s anyone from the NRA not in prison or at least under orders from lawyers not to talk in public, they’ll be there.

Beyond that, just 55 hours before the convention starts, it’s all chaos. Nobody knows who speaks when, or even who speaks period. There are reports Ted Nugent is on the speakers list. They better hit him with a trank dart first, or he’s liable to go in front of the cameras with a loaded fully-automatic rifle and offer to rape Kamala Harris with it. The My Pillow Guy is supposed to be there. Will he still be flogging Oleandrin, a supposed cure for Covid-19 and well-known toxin?

Will Vladimir Putin put in an appearance on Donald’s behalf? I hear his English is quite good, and he will be offering free tea to all Democrats.

Between Donald’s gift for shooting himself in the foot, and his gift for shooting everyone else’s feet, this might be the first convention since 1968 to actually cost the party votes. It will be fascinating to watch, in the same way the Hindenberg and the Challenger were fascinating to watch. Happier outcome, though.

Satire is Dead – Trumped like a can of beans

August 18th, 2020

Hours before the opening of the Democratic Convention, Trump tried to grab the headlines that he would be making a very, very important pardon the next day.

A lot of people thought he might pardon Julian Assange, if for no other reason than it would annoy American intelligence agencies. Even Trump couldn’t quite dare pardoning Snowden, who is more of a loose cannon. Now, my own opinion was the pardon couldn’t be all that important, since Hitler blew his brains out 75 years ago and even Trump wouldn’t be able to rehabilitate him. Granted, I was joking, but Trump, like most right wing whacks, will do ANYTHING if he thinks it might annoy a liberal. Honoring Hitler has a proven track record of annoying liberals. And since Trump is reduced to thinking anyone not in Qanon or the Nazi Party is a liberal, that’s a satisfyingly large audience to antagonize.

So today, he pardoned…Susan B. Anthony. Now, there’s nothing wrong with the pardon itself. The 19th century suffragent was convicted under an unfair and unjust law, one that was struck down some 48 years later and 14 years after her death. She’s since been widely honored, becoming the first actual woman to be on a US coin.

But in the middle of a vast campaign to persuade voters that permitting mail-in voting would cause vast amounts of voter fraud and thus would justify disenfranchising millions of Americans, he just pardoned someone for committing the crime of … voter fraud. Yes, that’s right. Anthony was convicted and jailed for voting under false pretences, ie, pretending to be a male. A US male, if you will.

Trump had various loony toons from the anti-abortion movement with him as he signed the pardon. The no-choicers had decided, based on precious little evidence, that Anthony was anti-abortion. While she surely opposed the practice of forcing women to have abortions against their will, there’s no record of her opinion on the right of women to elect to have an abortion. Indeed, while abortion was fairly common place despite being sometimes illegal in some states, it wasn’t a big issue since the country wasn’t overrun with pseudo-religious nutjobs who mistook their own personal squeamishness for a natural law of the universe.

Some wondered if Trump was taking a shot of some sort at Michelle Obama. The former first lady had just decimated Trump in a speech at the DNC, declaring Trump “in over his head” and deadpanning, “It is what it is.” Trump was in an open fury the next morning, banging around on Twitter like a nervous cat in a box with exploding ladyfingers. If he was trying to show up Little Miss “It Is What It Is” he missed badly.

Having put that nasty little negress in her place (and I’m pleased to see my spell checker didn’t like that word), Trump went after Jacinda Ardern, another strong women who has humiliated Trump in the past (they are legion, you know). Having just finished eulogizing his brother for having the grace and courage not to be jealous of Donald’s superiority and brilliance, he attacked Ardern and New Zealand for having an outbreak of Covid-19. “The places they were using to hold up now they’re having a big surge … they were holding up names of countries and now they’re saying ‘whoops! Do you see what’s happening in New Zealand? They beat it, they beat it, it was like front-page news because they wanted to show me something.”

The “Big Surge” was nine new cases in one day. Under Trump’s leadership, the United States has more than nine new cases each and every second of every day. The second wave is arriving—there has been a surge of new cases throughout Europe (where the disease actually originated) and Asia. New Zealand had been doing extraordinarily well fighting the plague (the best, as opposed to Trump’s America, which has been the worst) but this is a pernicious disease.

Perhaps if Trump is really lucky, a child will die in New Zealand. Then he can use that to justify the ten thousand or so children in the US who are likely to die from his push to have the schools reopen.

Finally, just in case anyone is feeling a need to ironically mock the American leader, Trump yesterday teamed up with that con artist Mike Lindell, who shills pillows on the television to hawk the latest miracle cure for Covid-19: Oleander. The compound, called oleandrin, is toxic, and has no known efficacy against Covid-19. One expert wrote, “Oleandrin? Yeah that would definitely end up killing people,” tweeted David Juurlink, MD, PhD, of Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center in Toronto. Trump is pressing for the FDA to give it a handwave approval, desperate for a miracle cure before the election and willing to kill millions if need be to secure such.

I hereby urge Trump and everyone who supports him to take oleandrin and let us know how it works out. After all, it won’t kill all of them, and they should be prepared to risk their all for Donald.

And we can bury the unlucky ones in the same graveyard where we just buried satire.

Trump/Pence/GOP – Convention to be One-Man Spectacle

Trump/Pence/GOP

Convention to be One-Man Spectacle

August 16th, 2020

The GOP convention was already going to be the biggest shit show since the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago. Some of you remember that: one major candidate was assassinated going in, and the survivor was tied to the most unpopular policy the failed incumbent president had—an endless war in Vietnam. And of course there were huge riots. Everyone remembers the riots, but the Dems that year had dread and despair going in before the riots even started.

The GOP convention this year had already descended into farce. Originally scheduled to take place in Charlotte, North Carolina, the state government insisted that social distancing rules needed to be in place for the gathering. Trump, madly insisting that the party show no sign of the pandemic he so badly mismanaged, rescheduled the convention for Jacksonville, Florida, where the whorish little governor of the state, Ron DeSantis, was willing to do anything Trump ordered. They were even planning to put the conventioneers on board a cruise ship, a scheme that would have had the same jolly results as releasing norovirus in a nursing home.

To the surprise of absolutely nobody other than the mad cultists of the GOP, the pandemic erupted in Florida, turning the state into a third world shit-hole, and in Donald’s eyes, a bunch of losers.

So they turned back to Charlotte, and accepted a greatly reduced convention Friday, August 21 — Monday, August 24, in which most of the participants were “there” online. It was the same as what the Democrats were planning for the week before (August 17-20, 2020 at the Wisconsin Center in Milwaukee), only it was what the Dems had planned to be done clear back in March, so they looked careful and sensible whereas the Republicans look like a pack of damned fools.

The Republicans then announced that reporters wouldn’t be allowed at the convention itself, and TV coverage would be severely limited. This confirmed that at least some Republicans had realized that this convention was going to be a clusterfuck of truly heroic proportions.

It was announced today that Trump would address the convention on all four nights. Normally in these carefully choreographed events, the first night is given to a variety of party wheel horses, former presidents and the like (won’t happen here—Trump hates Bush) and various congressional candidates, the second to a keynote speaker (usually a party up-and-comer, like Obama in 2004) and more party candidates, including endorsements from primary rivals) the third night to the presidential nominee, and the fourth to his choice for VP.

Trump speaking all four nights sucks all the oxygen out of the event, stealing attention from everyone else in the party. That would be bad enough from the perspective of the party, but there’s also the fact that, now deep in mental and cognitive decline, Trump couldn’t give an inspiring speech to save his life, let alone ones four nights in a row. By night three, even Mike Pence will be yawning.

He can still read from a teleprompter, but what comes out is leaden, much like a recitation from a text book by a dull-witted seven year old. He can’t even fake enthusiasm, and it’s not even entirely clear that he even understands what he’s saying. If he wasn’t such an evil bastard, I might pity him.

When he wings it, he’s liable to say anything, and he does himself and his party immense damage when he does so. One reason his plot to sabotage the Post Office and prevent mail-in voting blew up in his face so spectacularly was that he came right out and said that was what he was trying to do. Turns out Americans like their post office, and they like being able to vote without having to risk their lives. Further, the appointee that Trump made to run the Post Office, one Louis DeJoy, not only had absolutely no experience with the mail, but held some $30 million in stock in interests that would profit handsomely from the collapse of the PO. In other words, like many of Trump’s appointees, DeJoy is an utterly corrupt swine putting profit well ahead of country. DeJoy authorized the destruction of hundreds of sorting machines, effectively crippling the organization, and tore out hundreds of mail boxes around the country. Word got out, and Americans erupted.

When Trump gives his speeches, it’s likely he won’t even mention the Post Office debacle. He won’t mention his brother Robert, who died the other day. (Biden gave a much more sympathetic and genuine response to the death than Donald managed, but in fairness, Donald probably had a bad day on the golf course as his brother lay dying). He’ll give scant mention to the pandemic, other than to boast about how well he’s handled it (At least 150,000 of the by-then 180,000 deaths will be the direct result of his incompetence and malice).

Trump made it clear that when the Dems have their convention, he’s going to stage something to steal attention from the convention. That could be anything from more misogynistic and bigoted lies about Kamala Harris to notice of intending to start a major war, but there’s one thing he couldn’t think of: the Democratic Convention goes first. If he deliberately messes with them, they’ll be ready to respond the following week, and are smart enough to do or say things that will bait Trump into saying stupid things in reaction in his speeches. The Republicans won’t even get a dead cat bounce out of this.

Having Trump monopolize the Convention is the biggest gift he could have possibly have given the Democrats.

And he should do a great job of depressing and infuriating his own base even further.

Chaos Building – Darkness on the edge of reality

August 9th 2020

Last week, a high school sophomore used her phone to snap a pic of the main hallway of her high school, jam-packed with kids the way such hallways often are, few wearing masks. The high school principal promptly suspended her, and when word got out, had to back away from that punishment in considerable confusion and indignation.

Today it came to light that at that school, six students and three administrators have tested positive. It’s a pretty safe bet it will wildfire through the rest of the school population. Reports of similar outbreaks are popping up all over the country already as Republicans continue to press for Americans to sicken and die in order to protect profits for the wealthy.

One of our Facebook conspiracy nuts posted a video from Kristi Naom (Governor-Fascist) who was crowing that despite never having had a lockdown, her state only had 165 deaths per million people. Which is true, but that puts South Dakota 25th on the list of deaths per capita, surprisingly high for one of the least crowded populations in the country. And the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is this week, with 400,000 people expected to attend. Very few masks, but outdoors and, thanks to biker hygiene, social distancing will occur. Additionally, the local tribes are blocking access on reservation roads to the bikers in a vain effort to save the Great White Race from itself. So the carnage shouldn’t be all that bad, comparatively speaking. Maybe only a few dozen bikers will die, and a few hundred will be sickened for life. Well, live free or die, right guys? With the GOP, that’s a multiple choice question.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump has stepped forth to save the country, as he has so many times already. Speaking from yet another high-priced country club golf resort that he happens to own, he declared the lack of Congressional action in order to save the country from uncontained spread of the disease and to get the economy rolling on “far left” Democrats. He would “continue unemployment payments to millions of newly unemployed Americans at a rate of $400 per week – a $200 drop from the earlier $600 payment, defer payroll tax through the end of 2020, defer student loans and interest, and extend the federal eviction moratorium.” (The Guardian, today). He’s lying through his teeth, of course: the Democrats passed a comprehensive bill to slow the spread and keep the economy from crashing clear back in late May, and it’s been sitting in McConnell’s inbox ever since. Trump is aggrieved because the Dems wouldn’t surrender to the latest blackmail-disguised-as-an aid package in which the Dems let funding for Social Security and Medicare be trashed, destroying both programs, and in return, the Republicans give a great deal of public money to the rich and powerful, and tell them with a wink and a nod to spend the money on helping workers (they never do, of course) and what they don’t give to the rich, Trump and his family steal for themselves. Trump said he would make the payroll tax ban permanent if reelected, which would end Social Security and Medicare once and for all. Since most of his base are ignorant old farts, that would seem counterintuitive, but they seem to be too stupid to realize they are being robbed blind, and in any event, Trump’s courageous stand against coronavirus ensures that many of them will be too sick or too dead to care anyway.

The Democrats didn’t surrender to the blackmail, and so a frantic Trump has issued those executive orders taking funds from programs designed to help workers and order it spent on workers. But no worries: it will get stolen, because that’s what Trump and the Republicans do. That’s all they are good for. They, and the entities they serve, are parasites, and they are blindly and furiously blaming the host body for having the temerity to start dying on them. (We saw this on a smaller scale in the 1930s, when Republicans furiously blamed the people for staging food and rent strikes when in fact people had no money for food or rent).

The Lincoln Project, a Republican think tank devoted to ending Trump’s regime, summed up his pretense at saving Social Security and Medicare thusly: “This defunds Medicare. This defunds Social Security. Tax collection is just deferred. You’ll still owe these taxes next year.” AND you lose your pension and medical coverage eventually. What a deal, amiright?

No worries; anyone who has even seen a picture of the Constitution knows that the Executive doesn’t have authority to do any of that. He’s going to have to stop posturing and power-grabbing and deal with the Democrats or watch the country collapse. And folks, right now we’re about two weeks from collapse. I’m not sure if Trump is for or against the destruction of America, so don’t depend on him to save anyone. But when his XOs are struck down by the courts, he’ll blame the Dems for blocking his efforts to save us all through the medical procedure known as exsanguination.

There was one mordantly humorous story this week. A Trump supporter, one Caryn Schouten, told a reporter, “This is probably a very bad analogy, but I’d say he [Vice President Pence] is like the very supportive, submissive wife to Trump. He does the hard work, and the husband gets the glory. If you are a hard-working Caucasian-American, your rights are being limited because you are seen as against all the races or against women, or there are people who think that because we have conservative values and we value the family and I value submitting to my husband, I must be against women’s rights. I would say it takes a stronger woman to submit to a man than to want to rule over him. And I would argue that point to the death. I do not love Trump. I think Trump is good for America as a country. I think Trump is going to restore our freedoms, where we spent eight years, if not more, with our freedoms slowly being taken away under the guise of giving freedoms to all. Caucasian-Americans are becoming a minority. Rapidly.”

There’s Trump’s base in a nutshell. Pence is not only white, but he’s got a submissive vagina. And that’s what Trump needs from his supporters. Remember that next time you see some idiot wearing a MAGA hat.

Partying in the Dark — GOP dives back under its rocks

August 1st 2020

Frank Lockwood, reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, had a lede that was eye-popping, even by the lunatic standards of America in 2020. He wrote, “WASHINGTON — When Republicans renominate Donald Trump for president in Charlotte, N.C., on Aug. 24, journalists won’t be on hand to witness it, a convention spokesperson told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette this week. Reporters also will be kept from the room when the Republican National Committee meets to conduct official party business. The spokesperson couldn’t say whether C-SPAN, the nonprofit public service network, would be allowed to air the proceedings.”

Granted, conventions have become snooze-fests over the past few decades, carefully planned political kabuki that, it’s hoped, are four day infomercials for each of the parties. From the days when the major networks provided gavel-to-gavel coverage, coverage is pretty much limited to C-SPAN and intermittent coverage from the cable news, limited to the acceptance speeches and perhaps a few minutes of speeches from the rising stars of each party. The party bosses wanted good optics, but they forgot people watched conventions for the conflict, not the choreography. The plummeting coverage reflected the growing public apathy. The parties turned vigorous national debate and friction into a pro wrestling match, one in which no wrestler dissed any other wrestler. Even party loyalists stopped watching.

But as political ads, the conventions still had value. The party candidate could count on a 4 to 8 point “convention bounce.” It might only last a week, but it usually informed an undercurrent of political exposure where, if pressed, an average voter might come up with a specific-sounding reason to support one candidate over the other.

The coronavirus caused major dislocation and changes to the conventions just by itself. Trump turned the Republican convention into a complete clusterfuck by demanding that North Carolina have an open and maskless convention, and when NC refused, citing public health concerns, he moved the pageantry part of the convention to Jacksonville, Florida. The party was obligated to have the formal party business meeting in North Carolina, so Trump ordered the committees, including the one tasked to devise the party platform, to open, rubber-stamp whatever it was they did in 2016, and adjourn, so nobody might distract from the showy parts of the convention.

The result was unexpectedly hilarious. The official party platform condemns the sitting president as being a major disappointment, corrupt, and incapable, along with a long list of complaints about how he has failed his country, the world, and all the puppies and kittens. Parties don’t like to ever mention their opponents by name, so it’s just “the sitting president” they hate. That would be a fellow named Donald J. Trump, and not the fellow they were spitting at in 2016.

OK, it’s probably more accurate now, but even the folks over at the Lincoln Project will admit that party vitriol wasn’t meant to be aimed at Trump, no matter how deserving he may be.

Quite aside from the raging pandemic and the peculiar climate Florida enjoys in August, there was the truly horrific notion of leasing a large cruise ship to house all the delegates and others. We all know how great cruise ships are when infectious diseases show up.

The GOP are going to have a convention in NC as originally planned since the Florida idea fell through, but it’s going to be ‘way toned down. Only 336 delegates instead of the 2550 or so originally planned, no alternate delegates, and they’ll see a big reduction in vendors and other hangers-on. Despite the idiotic unofficial party disapproval of masks, I expect they will be worn, in the wake of the death of Herman Cain from coronavirus (most likely caught at Trump’s Tulsa rally), and the infection of party clown Louis Gohmert. Trump will hate that, since it’s an admission that he punted the response to the coronavirus, and remind people that at least some of that lethal non-response was calculated, partisan, and deliberate.

The Democratic convention will be mostly virtual, limited to about 300 people in total, and the DNC has been carefully eliminating any dissident voices to Biden. It’s going to be boring as hell, but it won’t be as embarrassing, given that the Democrats have always leveled with people about what the appropriate response to the pandemic is, and have led the way in trying to get the public to respond in a similar, common-sense way.

The GOP are embarrassed by their convention because it shows the idiocy of their failed policies toward the pandemic, and the idiocy of their failed followers. The Democrats can appear on Zoom and have a slightly self-satisfied air, knowing that they never put lives at risk, or let Americans die for partisan gain. They are the party of responsibility and regard for the common good.

The GOP reminds me so much of the communist party in Russia during the Stalin era. The secrecy, the ideology, the paranoia and the cruelty are all there. But even the Soviets didn’t try to ban house media along with actual journalists. I wonder if Trump will permit “reporters” from OANN and Sinclair to defend the party from attacks by the liberal/leftist Fox News.

In normal circumstances, I would be absolutely appalled at a party trying to hide its convention from public view. Now I find I don’t give a damn. Republicans quit pretending to hold any American values years ago, and if they did broadcast the show, all they would do would be to gaslight us, lie to us, and just generally blow smoke up our butts.

So screw them. Let them huddle under their rock and make their little fascist schemes. They’re no longer a part of the general American political process.