the moon is made of semi-soft brie

Because I have chores to do, I decided it was time to snorkel through the murky, fetid waters of FreeRepublic and see how those ‘patriots’ were responding to the Recent Welcome News (the RWN being that New York District Attorney Cyrus Vance has convened a grand jury to conduct a criminal investigation of Comrade Trump and the Trump Organization). I expected to see anger, resentment, victim-whinging, and threats (which, to be fair, is what I expect from FreeRepublic regardless of the issue). My expectations were met.

I found a discussion thread entitled The Left is Anticipating President Trump’s Indictment but They Haven’t Thought About What That Means to Everyone. It began with a long introduction involving (and I’m not making this up) the author’s role in helping “a very senior CIA officer” convert to Catholicism. Somehow, that conversion process included a discussion of politics, in which this alleged CIA officer supposedly said this:

“What separates us from the Third World in our politics…are the twin concepts of peaceful transfer of power via the ballot box rather than by military intervention and the unwritten and unspoken principle that victors do not use the police power of the state to punish the vanquished.”

And hey, aside from the slur against the so-called Third World, I agree. I thought perhaps somebody on Freep actually understood that trying to violently overturn the will of the voters is a bad thing. Silly rabbit. He was, in fact, talking about the ‘political persecution’ of Comrade Trump by a vindictive Socialist Biden administration. If Trump is indicted/arrested/tried/incarcerated, he argued, then the next Republican POTUS will necessarily feel obligated to persecute his Democratic predecessor.

The next Republican president will be under enormous pressure to take a similar Democrat scalp. To be on the safe side and make it hurt, hell [sic] probably have to take down several prominent Democrats.

The reasoning here is fascinating, in a perverse way. I mean, the underlying premise (that Comrade Trump is honest, decent, truthful, patriotic, faithful, loyal, and selfless AND actually won the 2020 election) is so flawed and blatantly false that the entire combustible world has to be turned upside down and inside out in order to support it. It’s like saying, “Since we all agree the moon is made of semi-soft brie, clearly the moon landings must be fake; a brie surface lacks the tensile strength to support the weight of the Apollo Lunar Lander.”

Comrade Trump expressing confidence he won’t be indicted.

The ‘patriots’ of Freep had a variety of responses. Some are certain Trump will never be indicted because he didn’t commit a crime. Some believe Vance lacks the cojones to indict Trump. Many are convinced (or claim to be convinced, or are eager to claim they’re convinced) that a Trump arrest will spark another Civil War. Some seem to believe Democrats want a Civil War because “[T]hey think they can win it…they hold, however tenuously, the presidency, and both houses of Congress (wait, wut?)…the FBI and CIA are aligned with them…the military is going full woke…they control almost all media outlets. And some argue nothing at all will happen if Trump finds himself in an orange jumpsuit, because too many Americans are cowards and the institutions of US democracy are already too corrupt.

Re: “The next Republican president will be under enormous pressure to take a similar Democrat scalp. To be on the safe side and make it hurt, hell probably have to take down several prominent Democrats.”
That is absurd. The GOP will do NOTHING – even if by some miracle we win a national election. The Trump DOJ, the Trump FBI, the Trump Intelligence Community, and the Trump appointed Judges, did NOTHING to stop the rampant criminality of the Democrat Party.

It’s simply impossible for these fuckwits to consider that Trump’s claims of election fraud were so obviously false that even his own appointees in the DOJ, the FBI, the IC, and on the courts couldn’t take them seriously. No, the Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Intelligence Community, and even those federal judges appointed by Trump–ALL of them must be completely corrupt, all of them must have turned their backs and stared vacantly into the sun while Democrats openly rigged the election in all 50 states in order to steal the election from Donald Trump. It’s obvious. There’s no other explanation.

Since the moon is made of semi-soft brie, the moon landings must be fake.

the problem with problems

The modern Republican Party (you know what? I need to stop calling them ‘the modern Republican Party’ because at this point they’re just the Republican Party; there’s no point in trying to distinguish the cowardly fuckwits who now inhabit this aggressively ignorant cultural collective from the Republican Party that used to have consistent conservative principles) has a problem with problems. In fact, they have several problems with problems.

They lack any meaningful understanding of actual socio-political problems, they have no interest in learning about them, no ability to address them in any practical way, and no real desire to resolve them. What they DO have is a clear understanding of the political optics of being seen as dealing with problems.

Republicans have an intuitive grasp of the narrative strength of heroic problem solving. It’s one of the classic story tropes. A monster exists. A hero leaves their community and goes out into a hostile world in search of the monster. They encounter difficulties and tests of courage along the way, and overcome them. They find the monster, struggle against it, nearly lose, then triumph over it. They return home again–maybe to applause, maybe just to live quietly among those they’ve made safe.

What Republicans do is turn that trope on its head. There is no monster, which means they’re not heroes, so they don’t leave the safety of their community or deal with a hostile world, and their privilege protects them from any difficulties or tests of courage they may encounter. But if they invent a monster, they can pretend to be heroes by claiming to risk themselves in a life-or-death struggle, allowing them to assert some sort of imaginary victory.

The valiant GOP stands tall against critical race trans voter fraud.

There is no monster of voter fraud. Yet Republicans claim they’re in danger and are courageously struggling overwhelming Socialist enemies to enact voting restrictions which will save…what? Elections? There is no monster of trans girl/women athletes dominating high school or college sports. Yet Republicans claim girls and young women are in danger and they are bravely enacting laws banning trans athletes from sports which will…what? Save high school track and field meets? There is no monster of critical race theory savaging the lives of students. Yet Republicans insist they’re valiantly standing up against…something…in order to rescue innocent young white students from learning that systemic racism exists, thereby saving them from…what? Caring?

Republicans present themselves as beamish boys wielding vorpal blades against burbling Jabberwoks in the tulgey wood. Hast thou slain the trans-racist-voter fraud? O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! Now to galumph back to Mar-a-Lago, chortling.

It’s all nonsense. Not silly nonsense, though. Dangerous nonsense. Because as a nation, we’re facing real fucking problems, with real fucking jaws that bite and claws that catch. Modern Republicans have gone through the Looking Glass. And there’s no sign that they’re ever coming back.

“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master — that’s all.”

It’s a good question. It’s a question that will determine whether or not the US will have any hope of being a representative democracy.

always room for ignorance

Émile Borel, French mathematician. In 1931 he wrote: Whatever the progress of human knowledge, there will always be room for ignorance, hence for chance and probability. Borel is best known as the originator of the Infinite Monkey Theorem (and yes, I know, other mathematicians and philosophers had made similar arguments before Borel; don’t fuss at me over this).

A monkey hitting keys at random on a typewriter keyboard for an infinite amount of time will almost surely eventually type every book in the Bibliothèque nationale de France.

Émile Borel

An English monkey, of course, using an English typewriter would eventually produce the complete works of William Shakespeare. An American monkey would bang out the screenplay to Casablanca. A Marxist monkey would produce The Communist Manifesto and all three volumes of Das Kapital. And a fantasy fiction monkeys would be able to complete A Song of Fire and Ice before George R.R. Martin ever will.

A modern Republican monkey would shit on the typewriter for an infinite amount of time and claim it’s the Constitution of the United States.

Jim Jordan, with a banana-flavored tie.

A couple of days ago, GOP House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy wrote this:

We are a big tent party. We represent Americans of all backgrounds and continue to grow our movement by the day. And unlike the left, we embrace free thought and debate.

This morning, that ‘big tent party’ voted to remove Liz Cheney as the chair of the House Republican Conference because she insisted on speaking the truth. She is not only willing, but insistent on stating categorically that Comrade Trump provoked a violent attack on the US Capitol building in an effort to steal the 2020 presidential election, that he continues to try to convince Americans the election was stolen from him, and that by doing so Trump not only undermines US election integrity, he also increases the likelihood of further violence.

For that she was removed from her position of power. Removed by a voice vote–a cowardly vote that allowed House Republicans to vote without having to go on the record. A vote that allows them to dodge any personal responsibility for voting. This is what the modern Republican Party has become.

Jim Jordan preparing to re-write the US Constitution

McCarthy claims the GOP is growing by the day; in fact, it’s shrinking. It’s shrinking largely because the GOP is no longer a political party; it has no internally consistent political philosophy, it doesn’t stand for anything other than the retention of power, it’s only ideology is grounded in pissing off ‘the libs’, and worst of all, they’ve rejected the core principles of representative democracy.

The modern GOP is a monkey angrily shitting on a typewriter, denying that they’re doing it, while trying to convince the weakminded that it smells like freedom.

loyalty test

I started to read an article about the evolution of the ‘core ideological principles’ of the modern Republican Party. I stopped reading after the first paragraph, because I remembered this simple fact: the modern Republican Party doesn’t have any core ideological principles. They don’t have any ideology; they don’t have any principles. They don’t have any fucking core.

The only thing the modern Republican Party has is a loyalty test. That’s it. Are you loyal to Comrade Donald J. Trump? It’s a simple yes or no test. If the answer is ‘no’ then you’re not a Republican anymore. If the answer is ‘yes’ then you still have to be measured by another metric. HOW loyal are you to Comrade Donald J. Trump?

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds and Comrade Trump — loyalty test.

Will you give him money? If he lies, will you cover for him? Will you shade the truth for him? Will you tell a direct lie for him? Will you let him kiss you? Will you kiss him? Will you cover for him if he commits a crime? Will you commit a crime for him? Will you commit a misdemeanor? Will you commit a felony? Will you commit a crime for him if he promises to pardon you? Will you commit a crime for him knowing he won’t or can’t pardon you? Will you cover for him if his children commit a crime? Will you refuse a vaccine for him? Will you consider injecting some sort of ‘disinfectant’ if he suggests it’s good for you? Will you eat a live cricket if he tells you to? Will you eat a dead cricket? Will you cover for him if he cheats on his wife? Will you cover for him if he cheats on his wife with the wife of a friend? Will you consider giving him a blow job? Will you destroy evidence against him? Will you cover for him if he collaborates with people considered to be enemies of the United States? Will you cover for him if he gives national security secrets to nations considered to be enemies of the United States? Will you assault the Capitol Building and disrupt the Electoral College if he asks you to? Will you cover for him if he shoots somebody on Fifth Avenue?

It’s an uncertain dynamic metric. How loyal are you to Comrade Trump? It’s a variable standard of measurement — inconsistent, volatile, wildly mutable. It changes moment to moment. If it was consistent, it wouldn’t require blind faith and obedience to be loyal. It can only be measured by what Trump wants when he wants it.

Just HOW loyal are you to Comrade Trump?

Loyalty to Comrade Trump is the only metric that matters. In the modern Republican Party you don’t have to have any strong personal feelings about how the government should act. You don’t have to bother with cobbling together some sort of consistent political position on the environment or policing or race relations or whether trans teens should participate in high school sports or the value of tariffs or immigration or education or firearm safety or regulation of wetlands or food safety or freedom of the press. Comrade Trump will do all that for you. You just have to agree with him.

What are core ideological principles, anyway? How do they help you? Are they useful? Can you make money with them? What exactly is the point of core ideological principles?

liz cheney? really? fuck.

See, I assumed that when Comrade Trump lost the election, a lot of Republicans in Congress would be secretly relieved to be rid of him. I thought they’d be glad to see the back of an ignorant, petulant, vindictive, corrupt, serial liar who was completely lacking in self-discipline, decency, and honesty, and who had absolutely no sense of loyalty to others.

That was before the January 6 insurrection. After Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol, eager to disrupt the Electoral College vote, and apparently willing to assassinate Trump’s vice president, I believed a lot of Republicans would be openly relieved to be rid of him.

Lawdy, was I ever wrong. I mean, sure, I knew there’d be some weasels–unprincipled hacks like Gym Jordan and Matt Gaetz and…what’s the name of that Republican weasel from California? (Okay, I google ‘Republican weasel from California and Devin Nunes was the third result.) But I guess I believed that even the worst Republicans would still support the concept of the peaceful transition of power.

And hey, I was right about that. Sorta kinda. I mean, Liz Cheney IS one of the worst Republicans. She’s awful on just about any political metric you could name. Despite the fact that her sister Mary is a married lesbian, Liz opposed marriage equality. Like her daddy, the former vice president, Liz DOES support torture (yeah, okay, she calls it ‘enhanced interrogation’ but that shit is torture). She’s opposed to expanding voting rights, and supports most of the new state GOP anti-voting legislation. She voted to end the protection of grey wolves in the Endangered Species Act. She suggested the texts between FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page were evidence of a coup and they should be investigated for treason. She voted WITH Trump 93% of the time. She is completely fucking awful.

And yet, Liz Cheney is being hailed as something of a hero. Why? Because she’s one of the few principled conservatives left in public office. Yes, her principles are appalling and backward and short-sighted–but she’s consistent with them. She did, after all, publicly condemn Trump when he abandoned our Kurdish allies when it was politically convenient for him (and for Russia). But at the same time, she suggested Trump’s decision was possible influenced by the Democrat’s attempt to impeach Trump (you know…that first time he was impeached).

This is the state of the modern Republican Party. One of the most horrible GOP politicians is also one of the few who holds consistent principles, and is the only real hope they have of remaining a viable (if selfish and amoral) political party rather than a loosely-affiliated collective of white nationalists, conspiracy theorists, religious bigots, and rabid fucking whackos (or is it ‘whackoes’?).

Next week the House Republicans will likely vote Liz Cheney out of any position of power. The week after that, there’s a better than average chance they’ll toss her in a stream to see if she floats (while chanting ‘Burn the witch!’). In the meantime, Republicans in Arizona are re-re-recounting presidential ballots, only this time they’re looking for evidence of bamboo, because somebody somewhere said it was possible that forty thousand fraudulent ballots were flown into Arizona from China, and that’s where bamboo grows. Jesus suffering fuck I am NOT MAKING THAT UP.

Help us, Cheney-wan Kenobi, you’re the GOP’s only hope.

cruel, callous, immoral, self-promoting and depraved

We know this to be true: Wayne LaPierre, the face of the National Rifle Association, is, by any measure on any scale, a corrupt, cruel, callous, immoral, self-promoting, depraved liar. I’m not going to discuss his corruption or lying. I’m just going to focus on his cruelty, callousness, immorality, self-promotion, and depravity. He’s also, it turns out, an astonishingly bad shot.

In 2013, Wayne went with a film crew to the Okavango Delta in Botswana to kill an elephant. That in itself falls squarely into the cruel, callous, immoral, self-promoting and depraved category. Why would anybody want to kill an elephant? I mean, sure, maybe you’d want to kill one in self-defense. Or maybe if the elephant was about to trample a nun, you’d want to take a shot at it. But basically there’s absolutely no point whatsoever to kill an elephant except to prove you’re cruel, callous, immoral, self-promoting and depraved.

Wayne LaPierre cosplay as a hunter.

But that’s Wayne, and he wanted a film crew to record him killing an elephant. So he hired some professional elephant-killing guides. Men who make a living knowing where to find elephants to kill, and taking cruel, callous, immoral, self-promoting, depraved, rich assholes there to kill them.

One of the guides finds an elephant, just standing around in the bush, minding its own business, and he points it out to Wayne. He tells Wayne NOT to shoot just yet, to hold fire because the elephant is partially hidden by the tree and brush. But Wayne is wearing earplugs…you know, to protect his tender ears from the noise made by the rifle…and doesn’t hear the guide. So he does what rich, cruel, callous, immoral, self-promoting, depraved assholes do. He shot anyway.

And hey, the elephant collapsed. Wayne is delighted. He’s a happy cruel, callous, immoral, self-promoting, depraved asshole. Until the guide points out the elephant isn’t dead. It’s just lying there, bleeding out, suffering. He brings Wayne to within a few feet of the elephant and tells him, “I’m going to show you where to shoot.” He points to a spot on the elephant’s head that will put the poor creature out of its misery.

Wayne shoots the elephant again. And misses the spot. The guide tells Wayne to reload. He physically moves Wayne to a position where it’s almost impossible to miss. He tells Wayne to stay there, tells him again exactly where to shoot the elephant. Wayne says, “Same spot?” And he shoots the elephant for the third time. And again, fails to kill the poor animal.

At this point the guide walks up to the elephant, points directly at the spot that will end its misery. Wayne says, “Okay, alright, I can shoot there.” And he shoots the elephant for the fourth time. Misses. The poor elephant is still alive.

The guide tells one of Wayne’s companions to kill the elephant, and he does. The companion then turns to Wayne and says, “You dropped him like no tomorrow.” Wayne is pleased by the praise. He laughs modestly, like a cruel, callous, immoral, self-promoting, depraved asshole, and says, “Maybe I had a little luck.”

Wayne LaPierre holding a prop.

Wayne’s wife–also rich and cruel and callous and immoral and depraved, but less self-promoting although still an asshole–also killed an elephant that day. Only took her two shots.

The film of the LaPierre’s elephant-slaughtering expedition was never shown. Not because it depicted them as rich, cruel, callous, immoral, self-promoting, depraved assholes. But because it showed Wayne as an incompetent rich, cruel, callous, immoral, self-promoting, depraved asshole. Guy has an image to maintain, after all.

The front feet of the two elephants were later made into stools to decorate the LaPierre home.

EDITORIAL NOTE: I’m not going to link to the video of Wayne LaPierre trying and failing to kill an elephant because it’s awful. If you want to see it, you can find it on YouTube.

and he tried

Sometimes you have to say it like it’s three separate words. Not motherfucker, but muh thur fucker. Because it’s that bad. I’m talking about Kevin McCarthy here. We all know McCarthy is a sniveling coward entirely lacking in integrity, a pathetic soulless wretch with the moral fortitude of a runny blancmange. But even so, his conversation with Chris Wallace this morning was an embarrassing, humiliating display of spinelessness.

Wallace asked McCarthy about a phone call he’d made to Comrade Trump while the January 6th insurrection was in full swing. He asked Trump to call off the rioters, to help stop the violence. During the impeachment hearing–wait, sorry, I mean Trump’s second impeachment hearing–a GOP member of Congress testified under oath that McCarthy had told her Trump responded to his request for help by saying, “Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.” Wallace asked if that was in fact what Trump said.

McCarthy tried to dodge the question, but didn’t deny it. First he said Trump ended the call by saying he’d put something out to ‘stop’ the rioting. Asked again, he refused to directly answer the question by saying, “My conversations with the president are my conversations with the president.” Which, let’s face it, is pretty much an admission that Trump said exactly that.

But let’s look at the transcript of the video Trump DID eventually release.

I know your pain, I know you’re hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election and everyone knows it, especially the other side.

“I know your pain.”

But you have to go home now. We have to have peace. We have to have law and order. We have to respect our great people in law and order. We don’t want anybody hurt.

“We don’t want anybody hurt.”

It’s a very tough period of time. There’s never been a time like this where such a thing happened where they could take it away from all of us — from me, from you, from our country. This was a fraudulent election…

“There’s never been a time like this…”

…but we can’t play into the hands of these people. We have to have peace. So go home. We love you. 

“We love you.”

You’re very special.

“You’re very special.”

You’ve seen what happens. You see the way others are treated that are so bad and so evil. I know how you feel.

“You see the way others are treated, that are so bad and so evil.”

But go home, and go home in peace.

“Go home in peace.”

In his interview with Wallace, McCarthy also said this: “I engaged in the idea of making sure we could stop what was going on inside the Capitol at that moment in time and the president said he would help.”

For once, I’m willing to take McCarthy at his word. I believe Comrade Trump DID want to help “stop what was going on inside the Capitol at that moment in time.” I believe that because what was going on in the Capitol at that moment in time was a GOP attempt to stop the Electoral College from confirming that Joe Biden had won the election. It was an attempt to prevent the peaceful transfer or power–an attempt made violently by the insurrectionists and bureaucratically by Republican members of Congress. They both had the same goal in mind.

McCarthy says Trump wanted to stop what was going on inside the Capitol. And he tried.

potzer

Years ago, when I lived in Manhattan, I was noodling around Washington Square Park and saw a couple of chess hustlers nearly come to blows. Not over a game of chess exactly, but because–wait. Yes, there are actual chess hustlers in NYC. Anything that can be hustled is being hustled in NYC. A good chess hustler can make a couple hundred dollars a day, playing tourists and chess enthusiasts for, say, three to five bucks a match. Mostly you’ll find them hustling in the parks–Washington Square Park, Central Park, Union Park.

Okay, back to the almost-fight. It wasn’t over a chess match. It was almost a fight because one chess hustler had called another a potzer. A small crowd had gathered; I turned to the guy next to me–another chess hustler–and asked him, “What’s a potzer?” He gave me a look that basically said, “If you have to ask….” Another told me a potzer was “a wood-pusher,” which I interpreted as an incompetent chess player. A third guy said, in a growly Eastern European accent, “Is Yiddish. Or German. An insult.”

I love a good insult. Potzer, it turns out, is a great insult. It doesn’t mean somebody who’s merely incompetent. It doesn’t mean somebody who is simply an amateur. It means a bungler, somebody who’s not as good as they think they are, a wanna-be who’s really a never-can-be but doesn’t recognize it. A potzer may have a rudimentary understanding of a particular skill set, but is ill-informed, clumsy at the actual skills necessary, and confused about the point.

It’s an insult usually restricted to chess players, but I think it can be applied to almost anything. Like politics. Matt Gaetz is a potzer. Comrade Trump, a potzer. Gym Jordan, Josh Hawley, Lauren Boebert, Louie Gohmert, Marjorie Taylor Greene–hell, the entire Republican Party in Congress, all potzers.

These people are NOT in Congress to legislate. They’re there to perform. They’re not there to work for the common good; they’re there to draw an audience and keep their attention. While they may have the rudimentary understanding of governance, they lack both the skills necessary to accomplish it and the desire to follow through. Mainly, they’re in Congress to seize the public’s attention by creating wedge issues and conspiracies and crusades. Gaetz actually described his political ‘agenda’ as elevating his profile. He said:

“The way that you’re able to elevate your profile in Washington is to drive conflict, because conflict is interesting. And I think that the really powerful people in this town are the ones that can go on television and make an argument, and that’s power that leadership can never take away from you.”

Matt Gaetz, potzer.

Go on television, get power. That’s why he’s in Congress. Gaetz and his ilk (ooh, a tangent…ilk is derived from the Proto-Germanic ilīkaz, meaning ‘a body’. And ilīkaz is also the root term for lich, which refers to a re-animated corpse, which somehow seems appropriate when speaking about the modern GOP) operate on the belief that somehow power and authority are a product of the number of people who are paying attention to you. That’s why they rarely address actual legislative issues (which tend to be rather dull and unexciting) and focus instead on flashy distractions. Like ‘radical libs attacking Dr. Suess’ or ‘male perverts dressing and identifying as women in order to watch young girls pee in the women’s toilet at Walmart’.

These people are poseurs. They think they’re playing chess because they can identify the pieces and recognize the board. They know the basic moves, but they’re not serious players. They don’t ‘get it’ at a fundamental level.

In one sense, it matters what happens to Matt Gaetz. It matters because he’s corrupt and a colossal asshole–and corrupt assholes should never be allowed to get away with it. But in another sense, it doesn’t matter at all, because Gaetz is, and always will be, a wood-pusher. A potzer. And like all potzers, he doesn’t even know it.