folks buying groceries refreshing the tree of liberty

As Thomas Jefferson famously wrote, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. Oh, and kids in school. And folks shopping for groceries, if they’re not white.” Yesterday, while I was enjoying a pleasant…what?

Okay, some of you are saying, “Greg, old sock, I don’t think you’ve accurately quoted our boy TJ.” Maybe you’re right; this may not be an exact quote, but it’s close enough to the way it’s interpreted by a lot of people who identify as right-wing lunatic gun nuts. Okay, okay, maybe they don’t actually identify themselves that way, but stop calling me old sock.

I mean, sure, TJ was talking about Daniel Shays, a farmhand in western Massachusetts who was having trouble paying his taxes, partly because he was also having trouble collecting the pay he was supposed to have received as a grunt in the Continental Army during the American Revolution. There’s still a lot of debate about what TJ meant by that tree of liberty bullshit, but the right-wing lunatic gun nuts take it as an article of faith that TJ was suggesting folks need to periodically have a good old fashioned bloody war of rebellion against the legitimate government. This is exactly WHY the term lunatic is included in the name of ‘right-wing lunatic gun nuts’.

But even right-wing lunatic gun nuts have trouble explaining how mass murder events at schools, mall, movie theaters, and grocery stores fit into that ‘blood of patriots and tyrants’ business. Especially when…oh yeah, and churches, I forgot to include churches. And temples and mosques. Anyway, right-wing lunatic gun nuts have trouble explaining how that blood of patriots stuff fits with those mass murders committed by white men specifically against victims who aren’t white. Or men. Or people who don’t quite fit into the right-wing lunatic gun nut definition of ‘men’.

So the right-wing lunatic gun nuts have developed a pair of sure-fire (get it? Sure-fire? See what I did there? I’m a hoot) responses to those events. First, they…well, wait. I say ‘first’ as if this is the preferred response, which would be inaccurate on account of these two responses are pretty much equally relied on. So when I say ‘first’ I’m just admitting that I can’t share two responses at the same time. These responses are numerical, not sequential. Or the other way around, maybe? Doesn’t matter.

First, they blame the mass murder on emotional health. As in “This kid who shot up the supermarket in Buffalo must be CRAZY because, yeah sure, he says he was motivated by hate and he says white folks are being replaced by non-white folks who breed faster and yeah sure, that’s exactly what Tucker Carlson says on FoxNEWS every night, but c’mon, you’d have to be CRAZY to believe that, so there, it’s a mental health issue.”

Second, they claim the mass murder is a false flag event perpetrated by Democrats or Jews or some other Satanist-pedophile group in order to TAKE OUR GUNS, or at least distract us from Hunter Biden’s laptop. They seem to think this is a perfectly reasonable thing to believe.

Sometimes they combine the two responses, suggesting Democrats and Jews and other Satanist-pedophile groups convince mentally ill white folks to commit mass murders to distract the population from some vague but really awful thing that Democrats, Jews, and other Satanist-pedophile groups really enjoy.

But as I was saying (you may have to refer back to the beginning of this blog), yesterday, while I was enjoying a pleasant 30-mile bike ride from one bike pub to another bike pub, some white kid went to a supermarket in a predominantly black community and killed a whole bunch of folks who were just buying groceries.

Mentally ill (probably) white kid led astray (probably) by Democrats, Jews, of some other Satanist-pedophile group (probably), but clearly guns aren’t the problem.

Right now on television (I don’t actually know this, but I know this) some conservative is on a national news Sunday program explaining that the mass murder in Buffalo would never have happened if we had better mental health programs, which we can’t afford to make free because that would raise taxes, but maybe for-profit insurance companies could include mental health anti-mass murder options for people who can afford it, but guns don’t kill people, mentally ill people kill people and if they didn’t have guns, they’d do it with axes, do you really want to ban axes, and besides guns are good because an armed patriot inside the store could have returned fire and prevented more needless death, and sure there was a security guard who did return fire and hit the killer, but the shooter was wearing tactical body armor which is protected by the Second Amendment, however a highly trained patriot could have shot him in the head–or at least the part of his head that wasn’t covered by his tactical helmet–and that would have ended the tragic situation, but there’s nothing in the Second Amendment that says private citizens should have to undergo training to carry a weapon, and did I mention the kid was mentally ill, because that’s the problem. Unless if was a false flag event.

So it turns out TJ, whatever he actually meant, was right about the blood and the tree of liberty. We are refreshing the fuck out of that tree.

they’re right to be afraid

This is an actual Washington Post headline for an article by Jeff Stein (WaPo’s White House economics reporter):

With Roe at risk, GOP faces pressure to support families after birth

Republican supporters of policies to help children say new restrictions on abortion should change political calculus

Dude, c’mon, you ought to know better. The GOP opposition to abortion isn’t about babies. It’s not about children or families.

If it was about babies or children or families, the GOP wouldn’t need to start cobbling together policies “to help children.” If it was about babies, those policies would already be in place.

From the Women’s March in January, 2017

If it was about babies and families, the US would make pre-natal care, childbirth, and post-natal care free (or at least affordable). If it was about babies and families, the US mandate paid parental leave with employment safeguards. If it was about babies and families, we’d support new parents by guaranteeing they’ll be able to return to their jobs and insuring they didn’t lose income during the important first few months of a baby’s life. But the GOP opposes all of this.

If it was about babies and families, we’d have free (or heavily subsidized) day care for working families. If it was really about babies and families, we’d provide a basic income for a parent who opts to be a full-time parent. If it was about children and families, we’d fund public education better; we’d pay teachers more; we’d give much more financial support to after-school programs. But the GOP opposes that.

If it was truly about babies and children and families, we’d enact sensible firearm legislation. In 2020, firearms became the leading cause of death among kids aged one to nineteen. More kids died from gunshot wounds than from car crashes, cancer, or drugs. But there’s no way the GOP would support gun restrictions.

From the Women’s March, January 2017

No, it’s perfectly clear the GOP opposition to reproductive freedom isn’t–and never has been–about protecting babies, children, or families. It’s certainly not about protecting women. It’s about controlling women. It’s about reinforcing patriarchy. And deep down, it’s about being afraid of women.

The GOP is right to be afraid.

EDITORIAL NOTE: Burn the patriarchy. Set it ablaze and let it burn until its reduced to ash. Stomp the ashes into dust. Let the wind blow it away.

mtg omg

I watched the Marjorie Taylor Greene Amnesia-Fest yesterday. Technically, it was an evidentiary hearing to determine if MTG should be barred from seeking re-election to Congress based on a violation of Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution. In practice, it was MTG playing dodge-ball with the Truth, ducking any personal responsibility by claiming she couldn’t remember much of anything about anything.

You may be wondering just what in the name of the Great Bearded God of Goats is in the 14th Amendment. There’s a whole bunch of stuff in it, but the only part that MTG was fretting about was Section 3, which says this:

No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. 

The hearing was to determine whether there is any evidence that MTG ‘engaged in insurrection’ against the United States (SPOILER: yeah, lots of evidence) and whether the evidence was enough to begin a legal proceeding to remove her from the mid-term election ballot (SPOILER: probably not, but who knows?). The entire proceeding could be boiled down to this:

Lawyer: Ms. Greene, did you do some insurrection against the US?
MTG: I don’t recall.

I’ve seen a lot of trials and hearings, and I think I can say without any hesitation that MTG was a shitty witness. It wasn’t just that she was occasionally dramatic or uncooperative or snarky AF (though she often was), or that her memory was remarkably and conveniently inconsistent, it was the astonishing scope of her lack of memory that was staggering. She couldn’t remember nothing about nothing unless it meant nothing.

Marjorie Taylor Greene swearing to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth except when she can dodge it.

I wouldn’t expect her to remember every pro-insurrection tweet she made, because lawdy, she made a LOT of them. But I’m pretty sure that most folks would remember whether or not they discussed, with the President of These United States, imposing martial law on the US. That’s not the sort of thing that would slip your mind. But that was the level of her denial.

Sadly, I doubt the judge will find the evidence is sufficient to remove her from the ballot for the mid-term elections. It’s pretty clear she was lying some/many/most of the times she claimed she couldn’t recall stuff she’d done, but it’s damned difficult to prove she was lying.

At the heel of the hunt, this will probably be yet another example of a Republican lying, violating the law, and getting away with it. I suspect MTG will get to stay on the ballot and will likely be re-elected. I suspect other Republicans will learn the lesson that they can lie and get away with it.

I keep hoping that someday somebody somewhere will be held accountable for something.

loathsome, feculent

The good news? Ketanji Brown Jackson will be sitting on the bench of the Supreme Court of the United States. Light the fireworks, cue the herald angels singing, hand out tissues for the tears of joy.

Then remember that loathsome, feculent pillocks like Judge Trevor N. McFadden are also sitting on Federal courts. Before he became a judge, McFadden specialized in defending white collar criminals–including people accused of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (which prohibits people and businesses from bribing foreign officials) and money laundering. There’s nothing wrong with that; every person accused of a crime deserves to be represented by a good attorney. The problem, of course, is that people and entities who can afford to bribe foreign officials and need to launder money can also afford really good attorneys while people caught shoplifting Oreo cookies generally can’t.

Judge Trevor N. McFadden

But that’s not what makes Judge McFadden a loathsome, feculent pillock. Neither is the fact that he was appointed to the court by Comrade Trump (also a loathsome, feculent pillock). No, what makes him a loathsome, feculent pillock is that as soon as he put his pale ass on the bench, he began doing exactly what Trump expected him to do: protect Trump.

For example, back in 2019 Trump, pissed off because Congress wasn’t giving him the money he wanted to build his stupid wall on the border of Mexico, decided to divert US$6 billion from military construction and from counter-drug operations and piss it away on his stupid wall. Congress sued to stop him. McFadden, being loathsome and feculent, dismissed the suit, saying Congress lacked standing to sue POTUS (although a couple of years earlier, when the GOP controlled Congress and Obama was POTUS, the court agreed Congress DID have standing to sue POTUS…go figure).

Another example: when the House Ways and Means Committee tried to get Trump’s tax returns as part of his first impeachment, McFadden (loathsome and feculent) slow-walked the matter, making it impossible to get the tax information in time to press the impeachment.

But wait, there’s more. When Aleksej Gubarev, a Russian “internet entrepreneur” sued BuzzFeed News for libel after they published his name in connection with the investigation into Comrade Trump’s Russian connections, feculent and loathsome Judge McFadden was assigned to rule on a subpoena seeking information. The defendant asked McFadden to recuse himself, since 1) he was appointed by Trump, 2) he’d donated money to Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, and 3) he’d been a volunteer on Trump’s presidential transition team. McFadden refused to recuse himself, saying there was no reason “to question my impartiality.”

But wait again, there’s still more. Despite expressing his belief that the January 6th Insurrectionists were being treated more harshly than the rioters in the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests, the loathsome and feculent McFadden has been assigned to some of the cases resulting from the insurrection. Yesterday, McFadden became the only judge to issue an outright acquittal of one of the Insurrectionists. Matthew Martin argued that he believed the Capitol police had allowed him into the Capitol, so didn’t realize he was trespassing. Prosecutors argued that the broken windows and blaring alarms should have given Martin a hint. McFadden said, “I do think the defendant reasonably believed the officers allowed him into the Capitol.”

But wait one more time, because Jesus suffering fuck, there’s still more. One of the Insurrectionists, Jenny Cudd, who was indicted on five federal counts, including one felony, had requested she be allowed to leave the jurisdiction in order to attend a company retreat at a resort in Mexico. McFadden allowed her to go. Cudd eventually entered a plea agreement–she would plead guilty to one misdemeanor (entering and remaining in a restricted building) and the other charges (including the felony count, which was punishable by up to 20 years in prison) would be dropped. The misdemeanor is punishable by a year in jail and a US$5000 fine. Although Cudd has said she was proud of her part in the insurrection, McFadden loathsomely and feculently sentenced her to two months probation.

But lawdy, wait one more fucking time because yeah, there’s more. One condition of Cudd’s probation forbade her to own or possess any “firearm, ammunition, destructive device, or dangerous weapon.” That’s a common probation condition. Today, Judge McFadden (feculent, loathsome) restored Jenny Cudd’s right to possess firearms.

So yes, we should absolutely celebrate soon-to-be Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. And we should keep celebrating her, because she deserves it and we deserve a celebration too. But let’s not get too starry-eyed; let’s not forget that Comrade Trump (with the help of a loathsome, feculent Republican Congress) installed a metric shit-ton of Judge McFaddens throughout the Federal Court system. And they’ll continue to stink up the judiciary for years.

jesus suffering fuck, this guy, I declare

I’m sitting here this morning, minding my own business, right? Drinking my coffee and noshing on some sort of unpronounceable chocolate cookie I bought at the Grand European Market (yes, that’s actually its name), reading the news, getting pestered by the cat, just like every morning. Then I come across this bullshit:

This shouldn’t surprise me. I mean, Comrade Trump–he’s an ignorant, lying sack of shit. Ain’t nobody surprised by that. And that bit about NATO dues? That’s probably just an example of his ignorance. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if Trump actually believes NATO nations pay ‘dues’. Like it’s a membership at one of his golf clubs. We’re probably lucky he’s not complaining about NATO not paying green fees.

But “There would be no NATO if I didn’t act strongly and swiftly“? Fuck me with a chainsaw. This is the guy who wanted to withdraw the US from NATO, something he’d even talked about during his 2016 presidential campaign. That talk didn’t stop after his election. In fact, both the House of Representatives and the Senate were alarmed enough that they passed bills that would require Congressional approval for the US to withdraw from NATO. For him to claim credit for the continued existence of NATO is utter bullshit.

What a fucking idjit.

But this is where the real delusional thinking comes into it: “[I]t was me that got Ukraine the very effective anti-tank busters (Javelins)“. We all know Trump tried to withhold those Javelins unless Ukraine’s recently elected president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, cobbled together some sort of dirt on Joe Biden (or his son). We know he actually froze the military support for Ukraine, and it remained frozen until a Federal whistleblower spoke out and basically forced Trump to release the funds and gear. This was money and weaponry Congress had approved, and Trump illegally froze it in order to cheat on a coming election. I mean, c’mon–the motherfucker was impeached for trying to pull that shit. You’d think Trump would remember that. You’d think Republicans would remember it.

But no.

Happily, Ukraine got its Javelins (sadly, they need to use them). Also happily, Ukrainians have given us a handy phrase to respond to bullshit like Comrade Trump’s statement. Іди на хуй. Go fuck yourself.

11 points to hell

Remember back when the 2020 presidential election was heating up and the Republican Party decided they didn’t need to put together a party platform? You know, because Trump. Whatever angry wasp thought Trump had at any given moment, that was the party platform.

Now Senator Rick Scott of Florida has decided the GOP needs to spell out what they’d do if Republicans gain control of the government. He came up with an 11 point plan, and after reading it all I can say is Jesus suffering fuck. I mean Jesus suffering fuck.

Okay, my expectations were low to begin with. I mean, Rick Scott is Rick Scott and Florida is Florida…so lawdy, right? Rick Scott, remember, was forced in 1997 to resign as CEO of Columbia/HCA, the largest private for-profit health care company in the US, after the Dep’t of Justice found the company had engaged in widespread fraud and fined them US$1.7 billion (billion, you guys),  the largest health care fraud settlement in U.S. history. This is the guy who designed the new GOP agenda.

You can read the entire appalling thing here, if you can stomach it. To give you an indication of how unrelentingly dreadful it is, this is how it begins:

The militant left now controls the entire federal government, the news media, academia, Hollywood, and most corporate boardrooms – but they want more.

It starts with paranoia, then it gets…well, even more paranoid, with excursions into the delusional and an occasional stop on the WTF highway. Scott includes a long list of stuff that the militant left (by which I have to assume he means Democrats) “plan to destroy.”

  • American history
  • Patriotism
  • Border security
  • The nuclear family
  • Gender
  • Traditional morality
  • Capitalism
  • Fiscal responsibility
  • Opportunity
  • Rugged individualism
  • Judeo-Christian values
  • Dissent
  • Free speech
  • Color blindness
  • Law enforcement
  • Religious liberty
  • Parental involvement in public schools
  • Private ownership of firearms
  • Pickleball

Okay, he didn’t include pickleball. I made that up. I made it up for a reason. Scott wrote that his plan wasn’t for “the faint of heart” because it “will be ridiculed by the ‘woke’ left, mocked by Washington insiders, and strike fear in the heart of some Republicans.” So I just wanted to get the ridicule and the mockery started. I’m sure pickleball will be just fine. Probably.

“Temba, his arms wide.” **

So you may be thinking, “Greg, old sock, what, exactly, is Scott’s 11-point plan to stop the militant left from destroying everything but pickleball?” I’m glad you asked. And stop calling me old sock. The plan is as follows:

  1. Our kids will say the pledge of allegiance, salute the Flag, learn that America is a great country, and choose the school that best fits them.
  2. Government will never again ask American citizens to disclose their race, ethnicity, or skin color on any government forms.
  3. The soft-on-crime days of coddling criminal behavior will end. We will re-fund and respect the police because they, not the criminals, are the good guys.
  4. We will secure our border, finish building the wall, and name it after President Donald Trump.
  5. We will grow America’s economy, starve Washington’s economy, and stop Socialism.
  6. We will eliminate all federal programs that can be done locally, and enact term limits for federal bureaucrats and Congress.
  7. We will protect the integrity of American Democracy and stop left-wing efforts to rig elections.
  8. We will protect, defend, and promote the American Family at all costs.
  9. Men are men, women are women, and unborn babies are babies. We believe in science.
  10. Americans will be free to welcome God into all aspects of our lives.
  11. We are Americans, not globalists.

You may be thinking, “Wait, that’s not a plan at all; it’s just a list of jingoistic slogans and stupid talking points in response to the angry inventory of conservative grievances and fears.” To which Rick Scott would reply, “Yes, exactly, and shut up.”

Scott does go into more detail on each of those eleven points. For example, Point One is about education, and Scott assures us that under Republican control, “Public schools will teach our children to love America because, while not perfect, it is exceptional, it is good, and it is a beacon of freedom in an often-dark world.” And also, “We will not allow political or social indoctrination in our schools.”

You may be thinking, “Greg, old…uh, isn’t that contradictory? Teaching kids to love America, isn’t that political and social indoctrination?” To which Scott would respond, “No, shut up, why do you hate America?”

Another example, Point Ten on faith and religion. Under the Republican Party agenda, Scott assures us that “We will stop investing federal retirement dollars with ‘woke’ fund managers and companies that put left-wing politics ahead of profits” and “the Second Amendment was established in order to protect the freedoms guaranteed in the First Amendment.”

You may be wondering, “What in the salted caramel fuck is he talking about? What’s that got to do with religion or faith? I mean…retirement funds? Guns? What? I mean, what?” To which Rick Scott would replay, “We are NOT GLOBALISTS!” And who could argue with that?

The thing is, some Republican have realized that it was a mistake not to put together a party platform in 2020. The junior Senator from Florida has taken it on himself to provide Americans with his 11-point plan to “steer America to a bright future of prosperity and peace.” And by “a bright future of prosperity and peace” he means “a grimdark dystopian tomorrow under the rule of authoritarian zealots.” It may not actually be a plan, and it may be borderline insane, but, you know…baby steps and all that.

** “Temba, his arms wide” is from the Star Trek episode “Darmok” and I think that’s all the explanation I’m going to give. You have Google; look it up. Lawdy, you’re an adult, aren’t you?

finally comrade trump is fucked…probably

For decades, this guy has managed to dodge and delay any sort of accountability for most of the awful things he’s done. He didn’t escape responsibility because he was clever; he did it because he inherited a buttload of money, which allowed him to retain very expensive, highly skilled lawyers and accountants.

Trump’s entire reputation as a deal-maker and businessman was built on his access to those people. He was able to walk into meetings, make demands, then wander off while his legal-financial team worked out the details of the actual deal. Trump would then take credit for his team’s success (or blame them for the deal’s failure). But even the best lawyers and accountants couldn’t prevent Trump from fucking things up.

I mean, he had six (6!) corporate bankruptcies, and each time his lawyers/accountants were able to allow Trump to slide out from under his legitimate debts and remain in business. The guy bankrupted his own casinos, for fuck’s sake. How do you lose money running a casino? He’s been involved in numerous (at least 3500 lawsuits in the past 30 years) contract disputes (mostly for failure to pay his bills), tax cases, defamation claims, and allegations of sexual harassment. And, again, in almost all of those cases his lawyers/accountants protected Trump from serious criminal or financial harm.

But Trump being Trump, he also tended to stiff many of his lawyers out of their fees. Over time, that’s made it harder for him to hire effective counsel. Now, he finds himself scrabbling to find a good lawyer. After well-known litigator Marc Kasowitz withdrew his services last September, Trump engaged lawyer Alina Habba whose office is near his Bedminster, NJ golf club and whose biggest prior client was a parking garage company. (By the way, that doesn’t mean she’s not a good lawyer; it just means top tier lawyers have stopped taking Trump’s calls).

And now his accountants are taking a hike. A few days ago they completely severed their relationship with Trump and the Trump Organization. Looking beyond the delicate legal phrasing, his accountants basically said 1) they believe Trump has been lying about his assets and debts over the last decade, 2) they’ve seen/heard the evidence held by the Attorney General of New York–and they believe it, 3) Trump ought to cowboy up and inform his creditors of all this, and 4) they’re out the door, goodbye, good luck, you’re on your own.

Trump is going to face the same problem with accountants as he has with lawyers. No big hat accounting firm is going to pick up when he calls them. That’s a HUGE problem for him, because he owes a metric shit-ton of cash (at least US$400 million and up to about $1.1 billion) to various banks and lending institutions. He and his organization were able to borrow all that money based on the information Trump had provided to his accountants. Now that his accountants have pissed in his soup, it’s unlikely those banks will refinance his loans. It’s possible some of them will call in their loans.

If that’s not enough, a couple of days ago a NY judge agreed with the Attorney General of NY that Trump (and three of his feral children) must submit themselves for a deposition within 21 days. As always, he’s trying to delay that…and he may succeed for a while. But it’s pretty clear he’ll eventually be testifying under oath in a civil case. That’s a big deal for a couple of reasons. First, because Trump can’t/won’t stop lying. Lying under oath is a crime. I can’t see any situation in which Donald Trump can talk about his finances and not lie. Hell, I can’t imagine a situation in which Trump would talk about anything at all without lying.

Second, probably the only way Trump can avoid lying in a deposition is to invoke his 5th Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. But that will also bite him on the ass. In a criminal case, a jury isn’t allowed to draw any adverse inference about a defendant who takes the 5th Amendment. In a civil case, a jury CAN assume that a defendant who takes the 5th is hiding something.

That’s just his civil legal problems. Trump is also facing a variety of criminal charges in at least two jurisdictions.

There’s a tsunami of trouble coming for Comrade Trump, and the legal breakwater that’s protected him for so long has eroded. The guy is fucked. He’s fucked. Totally and comprehensively fucked.

Probably.

gop evolution of political discourse

Democrat: That insurrection on January 6th was awful.
Republican: Yeah, that was bad.
Dem: No way anybody could justify that sort of violence.
Rep: Well, it was bad but folks are upset about the election, so it’s sorta justifiable.
Dem: What? No. Ain’t no way you can justify assaulting the Capitol building.
Rep: Yeah, deffo justifiable.
Dem: Are you crazy?
Rep: Wasn’t just justifiable…actually justified. And maybe even a good thing?
Dem: No fucking way.
Rep: Yeah, deffo a good thing.
Dem: You’ve gone deep into the dark place, haven’t you.
Rep: Deffo a good thing. Maybe even a necessary thing.
Dem: Jesus suffering fuck.
Rep: Yep, it was absolutely good and totally necessary. Had to be done.
Dem: Can NOT believe you people.
Rep: I’m thinking we should do it again, maybe?
Dem: What about democracy?
Rep: It’s fucking ON, bitch.

Ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse.