so what the fuck just happened here?

A week and a half ago I wrote, “…don’t be surprised if Rittenhouse walks.” And yet, I was sorta kinda surprised. Because, c’mon…how could this ridiculous doofus illegally buy an assault-style rifle, carry it across a state line, insert himself into a volatile environment, carry it while claiming to offer medical care he wasn’t trained or qualified to give, carry it while claiming to protect property nobody asked him to protect, then using it to shoot three people, killing two of them, and NOT suffer any consequences? It just ain’t right.

But yeah, that’s basically what happened. But WHY did it happen? I’m not a lawyer, but I’ve been around the criminal justice block a few times, and I have opinions. It begins with the Wisconsin law on self defense, which essentially says a person can use deadly force to defend themselves if that person “reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself.”

A lot of self-defense laws, including Wisconsin’s, include an exception for provocation and/or criminal conduct. You can’t provoke an attack, then kill your attacker and claim self-defense; you can’t engage in criminal conduct that would cause an attack, then kill your attacker and claim self defense. Makes sense, right? Okay, here we go.

Wisconsin’s self-defense law states: “A person who engages in unlawful conduct of a type likely to provoke others to attack him or her and thereby does provoke an attack is not entitled to claim the privilege of self-defense against such attack…”

That seems pretty clear, doesn’t it. But it continues: “…except when the attack which ensues is of a type causing the person engaging in the unlawful conduct to reasonably believe that he or she is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm. In such a case, the person engaging in the unlawful conduct is privileged to act in self-defense, but the person is not privileged to resort to the use of force intended or likely to cause death to the person’s assailant….” So the law says yeah, you CAN defend yourself if you provoke an attack, but LIMITS the amount of force you can use. You can fight back, but you can’t kill your attacker.

But wait. Again, it continues with another caveat: “…unless the person reasonably believes he or she has exhausted every other reasonable means to escape from or otherwise avoid death or great bodily harm at the hands of his or her assailant.” So even if you’ve provoked an attack through illegal behavior, you can only use deadly force to defend yourself after you’ve exhausted your other options for escape.

What does that mean in the Rittenhouse case? If he’d engaged in unlawful conduct that provoked an attack, he was only justified in using deadly force to defend himself IF he’d exhausted every reasonable means to escape. He DID try to run away before the second killing, but he tripped and fell, then shot Huber and Grosskreutz. That very possibly could fall under the Wisconsin self-defense law–tried to escape, but couldn’t. But in the initial killing, Rittenhouse was running away from Rosenbaum, then stopped, turned, shot and killed him. That seems likely to fall under the unlawful conduct exception, which would prevent him from using the self-defense claim. BUT ONLY if Rittenhouse was engaged in unlawful conduct. Like, say, illegally carrying a rifle.

The judge, remember, dismissed the illegal rifle charge. Which removed the unlawful conduct exception. Which meant Rittenhouse only had to feel his life was in danger to kill Rosenbaum. Hey bingo, he walks.

That’s how I see it. Again, I’m not a lawyer. My reasoning may be flawed. But that’s how I see it. It sucks. It’s wrong. It’s obscene on a number of levels. But that seems to be how the law is written.

There’s a lesson here. If you want to stop vigilante tourism, enact better laws. If you want better laws, vote for better legislators. You want better laws, prevent outside money and outside interests from influencing weak-ass greedy legislators.

Kyle Rittenhouse didn’t walk because he was innocent. He walked because of the motherfuckers who wrote Wisconsin’s self-defense law .

fuck those guys

Here’s a headline from this morning’s Washington Post:

In wake of Bannon indictment, Republicans warn of payback

If you can read that and not wonder ‘What in the pumpkin spice fuck is wrong with these people’ then…well, I don’t know what. Just think about that for a moment. Republicans say they want payback because Steve Bannon…I mean Steve Goddamn Bannon…was indicted for refusing to obey a writ legally issued by a Congressional committee to provide testimony and produce evidence.

Steve Bannon showing up for arraignment this morning.

Payback? Fuck those guys. Payback is a casual way of saying revenge–a retaliatory act taken in response to some alleged/perceived harm or injustice. Republicans apparently feel harmed and aggrieved that the law applies to them as if they were ordinary people. They apparently feel subpoenas only matter if they’re issued by Republicans. They’re distressed to find that a subpoena isn’t a suggestion; it’s an order. If you choose NOT to abide by a subpoena, there’s a penalty.

I mean, it’s right there in the goddamn name. Subpoena–Latin sub, meaning ‘under’ and poena meaning ‘penalty’. A subpoena means you have to show up and/or produce evidence under penalty of law. This has been part of the common law since the 1380s when John Waltham, the Master of the Rolls of the Court of Chancery for Richard II, issued the very first subpoena–a writ compelling witnesses and defendants to show up for trial. We’re talking six and a half centuries of precedent here. If a subpoena was good enough for Richard II, it’s good enough for Steve Goddamn Bannon.

Payback? Fuck those guys. Payback for being expected to follow the law? Payback from Republicans for a guy who was 1) indicted for defrauding 2) Republican donors of millions of dollars 3) in a scam that was purported to help build 4) a border wall supported only by Republicans? They want payback for this guy? A guy who was eventually pardoned for that crime by a Republican president? Payback for a guy who had his Twitter account ganked for publicly calling for beheading FBI Director Christopher Wray and Anthony Fauci? Republicans want payback for a guy who helped foment an insurrection that put many of them personally in danger? An insurrection that included calls to hang the Republican Vice President of the United States? Republicans want payback for that guy? Fuck them. Fuck them in the neck.

Comrade Trump and two of the criminals he’s pardoned.

And fuck the Washington Post too. It’s bad enough Republicans feel outraged and vindictive for having to obey the law, but to have WaPo act like it’s normal is an appalling act of journalistic malpractice. Just because politicians say stupid shit, journalists aren’t obligated to repeat it–to pretend it’s not stupid shit. Stupid shit is stupid and it’s shit. This is not rocket surgery.

Bannon was indicted last week for contempt of Congress, but he wasn’t arrested like an ordinary person. He was given until this morning to surrender himself for arraignment. My guess is he’ll be released on bail. And while that annoys me, it’s the right thing to do. Bannon isn’t likely to flee the country. My guess is he probably wants a trial. He’ll use it as a platform to spread more disinformation.

The thing is, this isn’t just about contempt of Congress; it’s about contempt for the very idea of representative democracy. It’s about contempt for the concept of equal justice under the law. A political party that feels justified in seeking payback for a person like Steve Bannon has abandoned the right to call itself a political party. There’s nothing ‘political’ about it. Politics, after all, is devoted to working things out. Politics is about people with different ideologies and viewpoints finding ways to compromise in an effort to benefit the greater good. Modern Republicans aren’t interested in the greater good.

They’re only interested in ruling.

Fuck those guys.

a mook and his money

Back in the Dark Times, when Comrade Trump was the actual president (and lawdy, that was only six months ago; it’s still hard to believe that happened), I made routine recon sweeps through the loopiest of loopy right-wing ‘news’ sites. I felt it was important to know what they were thinking and planning–not because I saw them as the enemy, but because they believed people like me were their enemy. You don’t have to actually be an enemy to be perceived as one, and the success of the Republican Party depends on having lots of enemies.

I still do occasional recon sweeps of loopy right-wing sites, but without the same sense of urgency. Now it’s more of a prophylactic measure. They’re still a threat to democracy, but without Comrade Trump squatting in the Oval Office, they’re less of an imminent threat than they were before.

They’d be more of a threat if Trump 1) wasn’t increasingly losing contact with objective reality, 2) hadn’t convinced so many of them to impale themselves on the pointed stick of Covid, and 3) was actually using his influence to further his conspiratorial-authoritarian agenda instead of to make a quick buck for himself.

As I waded through the muck of loopy right-wing sites this morning, I came across a post in which an ardent Trump supporter said he’d donated more of his hard-earned to Trump’s Save America Leadership PAC. You know, to support the audit in Arizona and reinstall Trump as president and prevent the US from becoming a completely communist pedophile nation. He encouraged others to “donate as much as you can afford or more” so other states could conduct their own audits and prove the extent of the fraud.

There’s a part of me that feels sorry for this mook, because as near as I can tell, Comrade Trump hasn’t donated a single ruble to support any audit in any state. It seems Trump’s PAC has taken in somewhere around US$75 million in the first half of this year–much of it from mooks like this guy. Trump has said he’ll probably use some of the money to fund other election audits, but so far the PAC has only spent the cash on travel, legal costs, staff expenses, and on the PR campaign to raise more money. Most of that $75 million is sitting in the bank.

Do you think this mook has a clue how Trump is actually spending his donation? Probably not. Do you think it would matter if he did know? Probably not. This is why only a part of me feels sorry for him. He’s a willing participant in his delusion. He’s not a victim of propaganda; he made deliberate choices about where to obtain information. If he suffers financially, it’s because he has agreed to it.

In effect, this guy is a financial flagellant. Remember the flagellants? Those 14th century religious zealots who made a public demonstration of their religious fervor by literally whipping themselves? Here, let the Dominican friar Heinrich von Herford describe them:

“Each whip consisted of a stick with three knotted thongs hanging from the end. Two pieces of needle-sharp metal were run through the centre of the knots from both sides, forming a cross, the end of which extended beyond the knots for the length of a grain of wheat or less. Using these whips they beat and whipped their bare skin until their bodies were bruised and swollen and blood rained down, spattering the walls nearby. I have seen, when they whipped themselves, how sometimes those bits of metal penetrated the skin so deeply that it took more than two attempts to pull them out.”

This mook whips his checkbook instead of his body. There’s also an excellent chance he’s one of those folks who believe Covid is a hoax, so he’s willfully offering up his health and life as a tribute to Trump as well. This doesn’t mean he deserves to be broke and infected with Covid. It just means that if he becomes broke and Covid positive, he only has himself to blame. Comrade Trump didn’t hand him a whip; he just collects money off the whipping.

This guy deserves our compassion; he doesn’t deserve our sympathy or pity.

the odor of burnt communism

Reader, you may be asking yourself, “What in the name of maple oatmeal fuck were Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene doing in California?” It’s a valid question. I mean, he’s a soon-to-be indicted child sex trafficker and generic party creep from Florida and she’s multi-delusional insurrectionist from Georgia who isn’t trusted by her own party to hold any committee seats. So why were they in California instead of promoting conspiracy theories their home states?

The answer is…communism. No, I am NOT MAKING THIS UP. MG and MTG were in California to hold a Free Speech Against Communism rally. Now, you may be asking yourself, “Where is all this communism in California coming from?” Silly rabbit. According to noted scientists in starched white lab coats, it comes directly from gazooney rays emanating from the brain of Marjorie Taylor Greene. Those rays are amplified by Jewish space lasers and tight-beamed straight into the brain of Matt Gaetz, temporarily disrupting his brain’s primary sex-with-minors receptors.

“Attica! Attica! Power to the perverts!”

It’s fair to say the Gaetz-Greene ratfuck rodeo has struggled. They’d originally intended to kick communism in the balls at the Pacific Hills Banquet & Event Center in Laguna Hills. But it was canceled after people who actually live in Laguna Hills said, “Oh, c’mon, keep these crazy fuckers out of our sweet little town.” Gaetz-Greene shifted their plan to the Riverside Convention Center (coincidentally located in Riverside, CA). But the people who live in Riverside said, “No, seriously, we can cope with the earthquakes and the wildfires and shit, just don’t inflict these fuckwits on us.” So the event was canceled. Not to be deterred, G-G moved their Free Speech to Stop Communist Speech rally to the Anaheim Event Center. But the people of Anaheim said, “We’d rather have a battery acid enema than listen to Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Whatshername.” So, canceled again.

Did that stop Gaetz-Greene? Hah! They said, “Hah! If six hundred thousand dead Americans didn’t stop us from standing up for your right not to wear an annoying mask, do you think being rejected by a few respectable venues is going to stop us? Hah! I say again, hah!” No fucking way. They took their Free Speech Dammit rally to a public parking lot outside of the Riverside City Hall.

Was it a success? Absolutely. According to a local newspaper, G-G “drew a crowd of more than 100” (some of which, it must be said, were counter-protestors. Oh, and news media. And a few police officers). MTG told her fellow free speech anti-communists:

“We won’t back down. The radical left wants to threaten you, they want to harass you, they want to target you, and they want to cancel you. And here’s what we’re going to do, America. You’ve got two members of Congress right here and we refuse to be canceled because we won’t let you be canceled.”

It’s fair to say the group of anti-Communists were encouraged, if confused, to learn that MG and MTG were going to do…you know, something. And if it wasn’t clear exactly what they were going to do, it was enough that it involved refusing to be canceled.

MTG leads the crowd in singing ‘Delta Variant Dawn’.

MG supported MTG, saying:

“These folks, they tried to cancel our venues, but they can never cancel our patriotism or our American spirit.”

It’s not clear who MG meant by ‘these folks’. Communists, possibly, or the owners of the other venues, or the people of Anaheim and Riverside and Laguna Hills, or Californians in general, or Hunter Biden art collectors. But he was adamant that they couldn’t cancel his American spirit.

They each spoke for about five minutes, posed for a few photos, then left. The crowd dissipated. Nothing was left but the lingering odor of burnt communism.

UPDATE: Sources say MG has reserved two VIP tickets to Anaheim’s Battery Acid EnemaFest using the screen name DeltaVariantBoi.

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.

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.

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.

monkey’s paw impeachment moment

At the beginning of the 20th century W.W. Jacobs, a former post office clerk turned short story writer, published an anthology of his work — The Lady of the Barge. It was a collection of three types of stories: the misadventures of sailors ashore, celebrations of artful dodgers in slow-witted villages, and what were called ‘tales of the macabre’. Included in the collection was The Monkey’s Paw.

It’s the story of the White family — Mr. and Mrs. White and their son Herbert — who receive a visit from Sergeant-Major Morris, a villager who’d recently returned after 21 years spent in the British Army in India. Morris regales them with tales of “wild scenes and doughty deeds; of wars and plagues and strange peoples.” Mr. White had heard something about a mummified monkey’s paw.

“It had a spell put on it by an old fakir,” said the sergeant-major, “a very holy man. He wanted to show that fate ruled people’s lives, and that those who interfered with it did so to their sorrow. He put a spell on it so that three separate men could each have three wishes from it.”

Morris tells how he’d obtained the paw from its original owner. “I don’t know what [his] first two [wishes] were, but the third was for death.” He refuses to discuss his own wishes, but suddenly throws the paw into the White’s fireplace. Mr. White retrieves it over the Sergeant-Major’s objections. Later, Herbert encourages his father to use the paw and make a wish. Mr. White wishes for 200 pounds, the amount needed to pay of their home.

The following day Herbert goes to work at the nearby factory. The wish of the night before is forgotten. That evening a man from the factory arrives with the unfortunate news: Herbert was caught in the machinery and killed. The factory “admit no liability at all, but in consideration of your son’s services, they wish to present you with a certain sum as compensation.” It’s 200 pounds, of course.

“He has been dead ten days, and besides he – I would not tell you else, but – I could only recognize him by his clothing. If he was too terrible for you to see then, how now?”

Ten days later, after the funeral, Mrs. White insists her husband use the monkey’s paw to “wish our boy alive again.” He’s reluctant, but eventually gives in. Later that night, there’s a knock at the door. Mrs. White wants to answer it; her husband resists. She breaks away from him, he finds the monkey’s paw and “frantically breathed his third and last wish.”

The knocking stops. Mrs. White opens the door.

A cold wind rushed up the staircase, and a long loud wail of disappointment and misery from his wife gave him courage to run down to her side, and then to the gate beyond. The street lamp flickering opposite shone on a quiet and deserted road.

Why am I telling you about this 120-year-old story? Because yesterday, the House impeachment managers had a monkey’s paw moment. They wished for the power to call witnesses, and that wish was granted. But the wish came with an enormous price for interfering with fate.

I don’t believe in fate or destiny (or any other unchangeable, predetermined course of events) but I’m not innocent. I knew — we all knew — Republicans would vote to acquit Comrade Trump, the most mendacious and corrupt being ever to inhabit the White House. Evidence didn’t matter. We knew that. And most of us knew that if the Democrats used the monkey’s paw, there’d be a price to pay.

I wanted them to do it anyway. Almost everybody I know wanted them to do it anyway. When they didn’t call witnesses, most of us immediately assumed the Republicans played tough and the Democrats caved — because that’s been our experience. But in fact, we were all Mrs. White, wanting to resurrect the mutilated body of her dead son. We could have had witnesses. Maybe witnesses for weeks. Witnesses testifying to Trump’s appalling behavior. It would be so satisfying. It would be…well, profoundly stupid. No competent lawyer wants to put a hostile witness on the stand, even under oath. The risks are too great.

And now we’ve learned the Republicans threatened to filibuster Biden’s appointments and the Covid relief bill (and probably everything on the Biden agenda) if the House managers called witnesses. To call witnesses would have born out the fakir’s warning: those who interfered with [fate] did so to their sorrow. Even though I don’t belief in fate, I believe Jamie Raskin did the wise thing; he threw the monkey’s paw back into the fire.

And so things happened pretty much as we all expected. Senate Republicans did what we knew they’d do. It wasn’t fate, but it’s close enough that it makes no difference. Raskin didn’t use the monkey’s paw again; we didn’t get the 200 pounds to pay off our mortgage. But at least we didn’t end up with a ten-day-old mutilated corpse on our doorstep. So there’s that. Plus, the fact that seven Republicans showed a degree of honor and decency by refusing to follow the GOP lie is actually a sort of victory.

But lawdy, that mummified monkey’s paw is still awfully tempting.