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.

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.