stop playing the sap

There’s a pivotal scene in Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon where Sam Spade stands up to the beautiful but murderous blond Brigid O’Shaughnessy. “I won’t play the sap for you,” he says.

I’m waiting — hoping — for Democrats to say that to Republicans. The situations are similar. There’s a prize; an election in one instance, a jewel-encrusted statue of a bird in the other. Somebody is attempting to steal the prize; Trump in our case, Brigid O’Shaughnessy with the falcon. The attempted theft is abetted by others; Republicans in Congress, Kaspar Gutman and his international band of crooks. And there’s somebody trying to stop the theft; Uncle Joe Biden, Sam Spade.

Even though it clear the theft is almost certainly not going to work, the crooks continue to try to finagle it. Despite the fact that he lost the election, Comrade Trump is still trying to break democracy, even while grudgingly agreeing to a transition. Despite the fact that Brigid O’Shaughnessy killed Spade’s partner, she continued to try to get Spade to trust her and help her steal the Falcon. She wants him to help her get away with the crime.

“You’re a liar. Don’t brag about it. Was there any truth at all in that yarn?”

There are already political pundits suggesting Democrats need to let Trump get away with trying to steal the election. They say Democrats should find a way to ‘work with’ the complicit Republicans. They say Democrats need to be the adults in the room, that Democrats need to meet Republicans halfway, that Democrats should try to understand how angry and disappointed Republicans are.

Basically, they’re saying Democrats should play the sap. Well, fuck those guys. Fuck them in the neck.

Democrats should NOT be vindictive. I’ll agree with that. But neither should they be sensitive to the feelings of a political party that spent the last four years telling Democrats, “Fuck your feelings.” We shouldn’t be looking for retribution, but we should enforce norms and laws. The argument that holding Trump or his family accountable for any crimes they may have committed would only further inflame partisanship is bullshit. The notion that we can only heal and unite the nation by overlooking the transgressions they’ve committed is bullshit. The idea that Sam Spade can trust Brigid O’Shaughnessy is bullshit.

We played the sap with Nixon. We did it with Reagan and we did it with George W. Bush. What did we get by playing the sap? Trump.

“I won’t play the sap for you.”

I want Democrats to play that pivotal scene with Republicans.

Dems: Well, if you get a good break, you’ll be out of the White House for 20 years and you can come back to me then. I hope they don’t hang you, precious, by that sweet neck. Yes, angel, I’m gonna send you over. The chances are you’ll get off with life. That means if you’re a good girl, you’ll be out in 20 years. I’ll be waiting for you. If they hang you, I’ll always remember you.
Republicans: Don’t, don’t say it even in fun. Ha, ha, ha. Oh, I was frightened for a minute. I really thought…You do such wild and unpredictable things.
Dems: Don’t be silly. You’re taking the fall.
Republicans: You’ve been playing with me. Just pretending you care, to trap me like this. You didn’t care at all. You don’t love me!
Dems: I won’t play the sap for you!
Republicans: Oh you know it’s not like that. You can’t say that.
Dems: Did you ever fight square with me for half an hour at a stretch since I’ve known you?
Republicans: You know down deep in your heart and in spite of anything I’ve done I love democracy.
Dems: I don’t care who loves who! I won’t play the sap for you. I won’t walk in Hillary’s – and I don’t know how many other’s – footsteps. You killed democracy and you’re going over for it.
Republicans: How can you do this to me? Surely, democracy wasn’t so much to you as… [crying]
Dems: When a man’s democracy is killed, he’s supposed to do something about it. It doesn’t make any difference what you thought of it, it was your democracy, and you’re supposed to do something about it. And it happens we’re in the politics business. Well, when one of your organization gets killed, it’s – it’s bad business to let the killer get away with it. Bad all around. Bad for every democracy everywhere.
Republicans: You don’t expect me to think that these things you’re saying are sufficient reasons for sending me to the…
Dems: [interrupting] Wait’ll I’m through. Then you can talk. I’ve no earthly reason to think I can trust you. If I do this and get away with it, you’ll have something on me that you can use whenever you want to. Since I’ve got something on you, I couldn’t be sure that you wouldn’t put a hole in me some day. All those are on one side. Maybe some of them are unimportant, I won’t argue about that. But look at the number of them. And what have we got on the other side? All we’ve got is that maybe you love democracy and maybe I love you.
Republicans: You know whether you love me or not.
Dems: Maybe I do. Well, I’ll have some rotten nights after I’ve sent you over, but that will pass. If all I’ve said doesn’t mean anything to you, then forget it and we’ll make it just this: I won’t because all of me wants to, regardless of consequences, and because you counted on that with me the same as you counted on that with all the others. I won’t play the sap for you.

Democracy. It’s the stuff dreams are made of.

something to look forward to

Okay, let’s just acknowledge this right up front — things are awful right now, and they’re going to get awfuller before they get better. I’m not any happier about this than you are, but facts is facts and facts don’t change just because we want them to. BUT there IS something to look forward to (wait…something for which we can look forward? No, that sounds wrong as well, so maybe it’s something to…never mind, you get my point). We can look forward to another White House Christmas!

2017 — the House Stark/Winter is Coming Christmas

Thanksgiving is going to be decidedly awful this year because of the pandemic. The butcher’s bill in the US will top a quarter of a million at some point today, and we’ve still a week and a half to go before the holiday. Earlier today, on the devil Facebook, I wrote that traveling a long distance to eat traditional foods prepared by somebody else, then infecting them with a virus that could very well kill them was actually the origin story of Thanksgiving. We’ve avoided talking about it mostly, but it’s long past time we recognize the fact that the first ‘Thanksgiving’ was a massive error in judgment on the part of the indigenous population of this land. They gave us food, kept us alive, and we repaid them by stealing their land, killing them in truly astonishing numbers, then turning their culture into a cartoon.

So maybe there’d be some poetic justice if we were forced to sit out Thanksgiving in 2020. Of course, a lot of us won’t do that because of ‘freedom’ and all that, so we’ll almost certainly end up killing a lot of our own family members. Which is also a sort of poetic justice.

2018 — the Red Wedding Christmas

But Thanksgiving isn’t the only holiday horror we’re facing. Melania Trump will get one more shot at a White House Christmas. She takes a huge amount of shit over this, but I really don’t blame her. In fact, I actually respect that she has a very distinctive and thoughtful aesthetic vision. I respect that she’s been consistent in applying it. I admit I don’t share her aesthetic; it’s sort of like Tim-Burton-meets-Eraserhead-without-the-humor. But it’s rare for a First Lady to dip so deeply into the avant garde. So I sort of applaud her for that.

In 2017, she gave us a monochromatic House Stark Winter is Coming Christmas, which she followed up with the classic monochromatic Red Wedding Christmas in 2018. Last year Melania offered up a more toned down traditional monochromatic Christmas (you’ve probably never faced the difficulty of toning down something monochromatic — but then you’re not Melania Trump). This was almost certainly in response to the waves of criticism of her previous adventures in decoration. I think of it as her I-really-don’t-care-do-u? Christmas.

2019 — the I-really-don’t-care-do-u? Christmas

So this year, while you’re sitting alone in your home or apartment, shopping online while wearing the pyjama pants you haven’t washed in a week, you can amuse yourself by wondering just what fresh hell Melania Trump is going to inflict on the unsuspecting public for her farewell White House Christmas.

Maybe a traditional Slovenian Christmas with Grandfather Frost and trees decorated with delicate loaves of potica and a freshly slaughtered pig? Or maybe a Salute to the Wall Christmas, with unclimbable trees constructed from steel bollards and topped with tinsel and razor wire (if Mexico will pay for it)? Possibly a Climate Change Christmas of crispy burnt California pines in a bed of unraked leaves? So many possibilities.

It’s something to look forward to.

insult politics

At some point today or tomorrow Amy Coney Barrett will be given a seat on the Supreme Court of the United States.

Has she earned that seat? I don’t know, probably not–or at least not yet–but it doesn’t matter; it’ll be given to her anyway. Is she qualified? I don’t know, maybe, but it doesn’t matter; it’ll be given to her anyway. Do the American people support her? Some do, some don’t, and it doesn’t matter; it’ll be given to her anyway. At some point today or tomorrow Amy Coney Barrett will be given a seat on the Supreme Court of the United States.

It will be given to her in the same way SCOTUS seats were given to Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. It will be given to her as a display of raw political power. It will be given to her as an expression of the modern Republican Party’s sneering disregard to representative democracy. It will be given to her as a demonstration that Republicans in the Senate can do whatever they want and Democrats are helpless to stop them. It’s the legislative equivalent of the Trumpist slogan Fuck your feelings.

It’s hateful aggressive bullying, plain and simple. It’s the same thing Trump supporters are doing all across the nation. It’s deliberately coughing in the face of a person wearing a mask. It’s driving trucks decked with Trump flags and signs through a BLM demonstration, honking horns and shooting people with paint guns. It’s purposely mispronouncing Kamala’s name. It’s openly carrying semi-auto rifles into the coffee shop, into the supermarket, into the state capitol building. It’s a flag saying ‘Make Liberals Cry’. It’s blocking access to ballot boxes and harassing voters. It’s calling the police to report a black person for being a black person doing what a white person can do. It’s a t-shirt that says ‘Free Michigan, Fuck Whitmer’.

Modern Republicans didn’t invent insult politics. They’ve been around for centuries. It’s been written that the Roman emperor Caligula planned to appoint his favorite horse, Incitatus, a consul of Rome–the highest elected or appointed office in the Roman Republic. It didn’t happen, but it’s a classic example of insult politics.

I’m not comparing Amy Coney Barrett to a horse. Unlike Incitatus, Barrett may, in fact, be qualified to sit on a high court bench. Even the Supreme Court. It doesn’t matter, because she’s not being given the seat because she’s the best candidate to fill it. Republicans could have chosen any of dozens of interchangeable, reliably conservative judges who’d vote the way they expect her to vote. They chose her because she’s a Catholic woman, and would give them a chance to accuse Democrats of being against religion and women. They chose her because it’s easier to bully somebody when you think they can’t or won’t fight back.

Giving a SCOTUS seat to Amy Coney Barrett is a deliberate insult. It’s a general insult to democracy, and a very specific, intentional slap in the face to Democrats. Giving her a seat is an insult to the Supreme Court. It could be said it’s an insult to Amy Coney Barrett herself, because it’s entirely possible she could have earned a spot on the Supreme Court. (The same is true of Gorsuch, who might have earned a seat; it’s not true of Kavanaugh, who lacked the temperament and probity to occupy a SCOTUS seat.)

The fact that Barrett is willing to accept a seat on the Supreme Court as a gift is, sadly, telling. It meant she didn’t have to answer any tough, important questions during her confirmation hearing. Does a president have the power to delay an election? The US Constitution offers a clear answer: no. Elections are held “the Tuesday next after the first Monday in November.” But Barrett declined to give an answer, because it didn’t matter; she was to be given a seat on the Supreme Court of the United States. Should a president commit to the peaceful transfer of power? The answer is obvious: yes. But Barrett declined to give an answer, because it didn’t matter; she was to be given a seat on the Supreme Court of the United States.

My objection to Amy Coney Barrett isn’t grounded in her politics. Well, not entirely. My objection is the rank hypocrisy of Senate Republicans and their disregard for the process of democracy. They could have waited to give her the seat until after the election. They could have waited for the American people to speak their minds through their votes. They could have chosen NOT to just giver her a seat on the Supreme Court. But no. They could have acted decently and honorably. But no. They did what they wanted because they knew nobody could stop them, because they had the power to impose their will on American society.

That’s all there is to it. At some point today or tomorrow Amy Coney Barrett will be given a seat on the Supreme Court of the United States as a testament to the conservative commitment of pissing off Democrats.

i stand with oreo-eating lesbians

I’m not what you’d call an Oreo cookie fan. As commercial cookies go, they’re okay. I buy Oreos maybe once or twice a year. I’ll be noodling through the market and I’ll see a display of some new ‘Limited Edition’ flavor of Oreo. Lemon Meringue Oreos, Red Velvet Oreos, Chocolate & Peanut Butter Oreos, Tiramisu Oreos, Carrot Cake Oreos, Mint Oreos. And I’ll say to myself, “What the hell is that about?” and buy a package. Because why the hell not?

Today, I’ll go buy some Oreos deliberately. Well, maybe not today. I mean, it’s Saturday and the market will probably be busy. I prefer to do my grocery shopping during the week, when all the decent employed people are at work. So let’s say Monday. On Monday I’ll go buy some Oreos. Rainbow Oreos, if they have them. Why?

Because of OneMillionMoms (which I’m just going to call OMM because it’s easier). OMM is a division of the American Family Association, which describes itself as “a Christian organization promoting the biblical ethic of decency in American society with primary emphasis on television and other media.” OMM says its goal is “to stop the exploitation of our children, especially by the entertainment media (TV, music, movies, etc.).”

Let me just say upfront that I wasn’t entirely sure what a ‘biblical ethic of decency’ means. So I Googled it and was directed to a Bible verse. Matthew 22:39, which I also Googled. It’s about the second of two commandments on which ‘hang all the law and the prophets’. The first is about loving god. Here’s the second (in the King James version, which I think rumbles so much better than any of the newer versions):

And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

That seems like a pretty solid foundation for decency. But what does that have to do with Oreo cookies? OMM and AFA are organizing a boycott of Oreos cookies because the company that makes them are “attempting to normalize the LGBTQ lifestyle.” How? By “using their commercials, such as the most recent Oreo ad featuring a lesbian couple, to brainwash children and adults alike by desensitizing audiences.”

I don’t watch much commercial television, so I was completely unfamiliar with an advert that featured Oreo-loving lesbians. But my interest was definitely piqued. This is how OMM describes the advert:

The ad has a daughter going home to see her family and brings her lesbian lover with her. The commercial focuses on the mother approving of her daughter’s girlfriend, but the father is hesitant and has reservations. He later has a change of heart and even displays his acceptance of her lifestyle by painting his picket fence in rainbow colors to further show his approval. The advertisement ends with: “A loving world starts with a loving home.”

Well, that sounded okay to me. I mean, it’s all about family and acceptance and a loving home, right? But according to OMM, “It is obvious they are going after our children.” So I figured I should probably track down the actual advert and watch it. I didn’t want to unfairly decide that OneMillionMoms were homophobic assholes without seeing the advert. Besides, I figured Oreo-loving lesbians would be good television.

Here’s the actual brainwashing commercial:

I didn’t see any children in the commercial. I barely saw any Oreos. I guess we’re supposed to assume the Oreo-based brainwashing took place prior to the events in the advert. I guess we’re supposed to be interpreting the relationship between the two young women and the parents as some form of post-Oreo trauma. It’s not clear.

What IS clear, though, is OMM’s belief that LGBTQ people are somehow fundamentally wrong and shouldn’t be tolerated. Their point seems to be that parents shouldn’t accept their LBGTQ children, even if the children are young adults who are making an effort to be accepted. Their point seems to be that buying Oreo cookies is putting children and young adults at risk of…of being accepted? At risk of being loved by their parents?

I don’t know. Maybe I’m missing something. But this isn’t the first time right-wing Christians have boycotted Oreos. I wrote about this almost exactly eight years ago, during the Great Hydrox Cookie Rebellion of 2012, when right-wing Christian groups tried to bring Oreo to its metaphorical knees by boycotting their cookies.

In their defense, if we’d listened to right-wing Christian groups back in 2012, we wouldn’t be subjects to Maple Creme Oreos. Or Gingerbread Oreos. Or Pumpkin Spice Oreos (which I’m inclined to agree is an abomination in the eyes of the gods).

I’m not convinced that buying Oreos as an expression of LGBTQ support is any less stupid than refusing to buy them as a form of homphobia. But I’m going to buy them anyway. I’m okay with being stupid in a good cause. And I firmly believe that being stupid WITH cookies is better than being stupid WITHOUT cookies. Even if they’re store-bought corporate cookies like Oreos.

I’m here to say I’ll even eat a goddamn Pumpkin Spice Oreo in support of any parent who loves their child without reservation, who believes a loving world begins with a loving home. I stand with Oreo-eating lesbians. And their parents.

trump and socrates

Somebody at the White House needs to remind Comrade Trump that he’s still the President of These United States — and that a big chunk of his job is to pay attention to what’s going on in the nation. Anybody who has spent any time at all on social media or watching any actual news show on television has heard of the QAnon conspiracy theory. I mean, back in 2019 the FBI designated QAnon as a “domestic terror threat” because of the group’s potential to incite extremist violence. That’s the sort of thing that ought to grab a president’s attention.

But somehow QAnon and the national security threat it poses seems to have largely slipped right by Donald Trump’s keen eye. During his town hall last night, he said this:

“I know nothing about QAnon…I know nothing about it. I do know they are very much against pedophilia. They fight it very hard, but I know nothing about it.”

Trump, who is a narcissist of the first water (okay, quick but pointless digression…’of the first water’ refers to the way they used to grade the clarity and translucence of diamonds…c’mon, you know you wondered about that), wants us to believe he knows nothing about a group that has him at the heroic center of their belief system. He may not be aware of exactly how loopy the QAnon community is, and he may not think they’re a terrorist threat, but it surpasses belief that he’s unaware of their love for him.

But then again, Trump has displayed an uncanny ability to NOT know things. Here are a few of the things he’s admitted not knowing anything at all about.

— QAnon
— Russia paying bounties on Coalition troops in Afghanistan
— Steve Bannon’s involvement in a fundraising campaign to support the building Trump’s wall
— WikiLeaks
— the Proud Boys
— a recent bungled incursion into Venezuela
— Dr. Stella Immanuel, the woman who says masks don’t work and insists there’s a cure for Covid-19
— the Air Force refueling at Prestwick airport in Scotland and staying overnight at Trump’s expensive Turnberry golf resort a 40 minute drive from the airport instead the many hotels within a few minutes of the airport
— Rudy Giuliani’s associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who are currently awaiting trial for conspiracy to commit wire fraud, campaign finance fraud, and lying to the Federal Election Commission
— David Duke and the KKK

That’s a LOT of important stuff NOT to know about, especially given the fact that knowing about important stuff like this is a critically important part of the POTUS job description. I’m not even mentioning the stuff Trump obviously knows about, but hasn’t really bothered to deal with. Stuff like Saudi Arabia murdering and dismembering a Washington Post reporter. But we can safely say the scope of his ignorance is matched only by his amazing expertise in an astonishingly wide array of fields of knowledge.

Here are a few things Trump has said he knows more about than…well, anybody.

— drones
— ISIS
— tax law
— the horror of nuclear
— campaign finance
— social media
— forestry
— courts
— immigration system
— trade
— negotiating
— infrastructure
— tariffs
— renewables
— Cory Booker
— the Federal Reserve
— the military
— windmills and wind energy
— banking

Socrates, the Greek philosopher and minor character in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, said this: “As for me, all I know is that I know nothing.” It sounds a lot more impressive in Greek. But basically, he was saying an individual can only know a limited amount of stuff, and what that person knows isn’t much at all compared to what the individual doesn’t know.

But Trump is no Greek philosopher. When he says he doesn’t know something, there’s a decent chance he knows enough to lie about knowing it. And when he says he knows more about something than anybody else, he’s absolutely lying.

I suspect Trump isn’t as knowledgeable as he claims. I suspect he’s not as ignorant as he claims. In fact, I suspect D.J. Trump is what those of us in the justice biz call ‘a lying sack of shit’ (DISCLAIMER: I am no longer in the justice biz, and haven’t been for quite a while, but I can still recognize a lying sack of shit when I see one).

I’m not say I know more about lying sacks of shit that anybody else, but spotting lying sacks of shit is like riding a bike — you never really forget how to do it.

very good people

Really, when you think about, who is really at fault here? I mean, back at the end of April the President of These United States suggested his followers should ‘Liberate Michigan’. It would have been unpatriotic not to take the president at his word. So a couple of weeks later, a group of ‘patriots’ arrived at the state capitol building to discuss issues involving the tyranny of mask-wearing with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and other lawmakers.

Okay, so yes, they may have arrived for those friendly discussions armed with semi-auto rifles and handguns, but this is America…or used to be before Obama tried to turn the nation into a gay socialist guitar-strumming pedophile ring. Anyway, they just wanted to talk to Gov. Whitmer, that’s all. And President Trump realized that. He said:

These very good people were just angry, that’s all. They just wanted their lives back, which is understandable since Gov. Whitmer STOLE THEIR LIVES by asking them to wear masks and avoid gathering in large virus-sharing groups. Trump felt Gov. Whitmer should try to be reasonable, listen to the angry armed men threatening her and other Michigan lawmakers, give them a chance to screamsplain rationally why she was wrong.

But no, she wouldn’t do that, the bitch. Now look what she made them do.

Explaining the charges against Gov. Whitmer

Really, whose fault is it that these thirteen very good people felt forced to concoct a plan to kidnap her and put her on trial for…okay, it’s not clear exactly what she’d be put on trial for. Being a bitch, probably. Being a ball-cutting bitch by undermining their authority — undermining their very manhood — by trying to make them look like mask-wearing pussies. But the important point — the point everybody seems to be overlooking — is that they always intended to give her a trial. Did she give them a trial before ordering them to wear gay masks?

No. No, she did not.

Prosecutor’s opening statement.

They were going to give her a trial, that’s how reasonable they were. A fair trial. Okay, maybe the judge would be somebody involved in the kidnapping. And yeah, the jury pool would probably have to be drawn from folks involved in the kidnapping. But hey, still a trial, right? She’d have had a chance to defend herself and explain why she was being such a bitch, right? You’d think she’d thank them for giving her that chance, wouldn’t you.

But no. She’s showed no gratitude at all. Hell, she didn’t even thank Comrade Trump after his own personal Federal Bureau of Investigation disrupted the plot to murder kidnap … wait, was it really even a kidnapping? Was it? When you really look at it closely, wasn’t it really more like a citizen’s arrest? Followed by a fair trial. I don’t see what all the fuss is about.

Whitmer trial jury pool.

You invite a woman at gunpoint to accompany you of her own free will, you give her a chance to explain her ridiculous behavior, you agree not to punish her until after she’s had her say, and is she even the least bit grateful? See, that’s the problem with putting a woman in charge of anything other than the kitchen. They’re just too emotional.

And now the lives of these thirteen very good people are going to be tarnished. It’ll be hard for them to get a decent job. They may even lose their guns. Is that fair?

‘i just didn’t want to’

He has speech writers. We’ve all seen The West Wing, we know there’s a department in the White House for people who carefully craft the president’s speeches — who take the president’s thoughts and ideas, and use them as a framework for a speech. But, as in everything else, Comrade Trump thinks he knows better.

So instead of giving a speech reassuring the American public that he’s doing everything the doctors tell him in order to return to the White House, Trump presents a rambling, unfocused, semi-dishonest, off-the-cuff monologue. In it, he says”

“I had no choice, because I just didn’t want to stay in the White House. I was given that alternative. Stay in the White House, lock yourself in. Don’t ever leave…I can’t do that. I had to be out front.”

This is maybe the most honest thing Trump has ever said to the American public. “I just didn’t want to. I had to be out front.” He just didn’t want to wear a mask or follow the medical protocols that could keep him and his supporters safe. He had to be out in front of an audience of admiring supporters.

That attitude not only led us to a body count of over two hundred and ten thousand American citizens, it not only led us to economic disaster, it not only led us to a housing crisis and an education system in turmoil, it also led us to the craziest goddamn moment to date in administration filled to the brim with crazy goddamn moments. I’m talking about that appalling scene at the White House when Trump returned from Walter Reed in Bethesda.

They planned this. Some deranged group of people in the White House — probably the same group that thought it would be good optics for Trump to stand in front of a church and hold up a Bible for 45 seconds — thought it would be dramatic for Trump to leave Marine One, climb the steps to the Truman Balcony, present himself to the American people, and take off his mask.

And hey, they were right. It was dramatic. It was dramatically stupid. It was dramatically offensive. It was dramatically arrogant and dramatically undermined any notion that Trump had learned a damned thing from his time at Walter Reed. Or that he’d learned a damned thing during his three and a half years as POTUS. In fact, it dramatically undermined the notion that Trump had ‘beaten’ Covid; he was clearly struggling to breathe as he stood on the balcony.

He took off his mask, people. He has Covid — an infectious disease spread primarily through airborne particles emitted through the mouth and nose — and he took off his mask to show the world…what? That he was tough? That he was courageous? That he was manly?

What Comrade Trump showed the world was that he was still the same arrogant, ignorant, feckless yobbo he’s always been. It showed the world he still doesn’t give a rat’s ass for anybody other that himself.

The butcher’s bill at this moment stands at 213,462 dead in the United States. Last night 421 Americans died from Covid. Four hundred people died from Covid last night. We’re seven months into the pandemic. It’s not going to get better until we can get people to stop spreading the virus. And that actively contagious fucker stood on the Truman Balcony and took off his mask.

thomas rymer is okay by me

It would be hard to believe if it weren’t so perfectly on-brand. We’re 212,000 corpses into the Covid pandemic, but Comrade Trump decided to throw a largely mask-free announcement party for his shiny new Supreme Court nominee — who, by the way, got the Covid over the summer, and somehow nobody thought to mention it. And hey bingo, after the party, a whole bunch of self-important Republicans started getting all Covidy.

We’re talking at least a couple of senators, a couple of reporters, a few White House staffers, and a scattering of generic Trump supporters — all testing positive for the Covid. Including Comrade Trump his ownself, and his wife.

Deliberately holding a maskless gathering during a pandemic is just flat out arrogance and negligence. But it gets worse (it always gets worse with Trump, doesn’t it). Apparently Trump got the Covid (we don’t know quite when because nobody in the Trumpverse ever seems to tell the truth), then spent a whole day wandering around maskless, pretending he didn’t have it. He exposed a LOT more of his own staff and supporters to the Covid, including an intimate roundtable of a couple dozen top GOP donors at one of his failing golf clubs.

Again, it would be hard to believe if it weren’t so perfectly on-brand for Trump. This is the guy who disbanded an operational pandemic response team, then after the Covid showed up, created a new pandemic response team, only to ignore and contradict their scientific advice for political and public relations reasons. He’s basically dismissed the team (has anybody heard from Fauci or Birx lately?). This is the guy who refused to wear a mask himself, who mocked others for wearing masks, who deliberately and knowingly invited large crowds of yelling followers to his rallies, who publicly dismissed the severity of the Covid while privately acknowledging how deadly it was. So it’s not entirely surprising that he’d meet with his supporters knowing he was almost certainly contagious.

Trump at Walter Reed, pretending to work.

Now he’s in the hospital. Flown there by helicopter. Being treated by a cadre of the best doctors. Being given a special experimental drug cocktail that isn’t available to ordinary folks. In a luxurious hospital room — unlike the crowded hallways in which many New Yorkers died during the early days of the pandemic. He’s in the hospital, pretending to work, but we don’t really know his medical status. Three and a half years of lying by Trump and his staff has taught us not to believe anything they say. He could be fine, he could be dying; as I write this, we just don’t know because nobody is talking and we couldn’t trust anybody who did talk.

A couple of days ago I said it was unseemly and callous to express happiness that Comrade Trump got the Covid. I still believe that, despite the fact that Trump his ownself has been unseemly and callous about the deaths and suffering of hundreds of thousands of American citizens. As a Buddhist, I have to believe he is deserving of compassion. But he hasn’t earned any sympathy.

Thomas Rymer with a wee doggie.

In 1678, Thomas Rymer published The Tragedies of the Last Age Consider’d, in which he examined the ways in which literature tried to reconcile the demands of justice with those of pity. He coined the phrase ‘poetic justice.’ That’s usually interpreted as ‘vice must be punished and virtue rewarded’. But it’s more than that. Rymer believed true poetic justice also required logic to triumph. It’s not enough to simply punish the wicked; poetic justice demands an ironic twist of fate in which a character’s own wicked behavior brings about their downfall.

That Comrade Trump is in Walter Reed being treated for the Covid is true poetic justice. He’ll probably recover from the Covid in time to lose the election. That will also be poetic justice. There’s also a decent chance the ‘law and order’ president, after he leaves office, will be charged with a variety of state and federal crimes. More poetic justice.

I won’t celebrate Trump’s illness. But I will celebrate poetic justice. Thomas Rymer is okay by me.