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.

forget it joe, it’s afghanistan

There are things you can fix, and things you can’t. There are things you have a moral obligation to try to fix even if you can’t possibly fix them. There are things you believe need to be fixed, but aren’t actually broken. There are fixable things you believe you understand, but you’re wrong. There are fixable things that are none of your fucking business regardless of what you think about them. And when you’re in the middle of things, it’s hard–probably impossible–to know which things are which.

There’s a movie about that. Chinatown. Released in 1974. (I’m going to ignore the legitimate issues about the director, Roman Polanski, because for once I’m going to try to stay tangent-free.) Here’s the backstory of one of the main characters, and a short precis of the film’s plot (and yes, that means there are spoilers).

The backstory–Jake Gittes has a small private investigator business in Los Angeles. He’s a former police detective who worked in the notoriously corrupt Chinatown neighborhood. He became disillusioned (all movie PIs are disillusioned; it’s the law) partly because he was working in a culture whose norms and rules he didn’t understand, partly because of the endemic corruption, and partly because the actions and motivations of the Powers That Be (in both the Chinese and political communities) were concealed from him and inscrutable to him. When his client, Evelyn Mulwray learns he’d been a detective in Chinatown, she asks:

Evelyn Mulwray: What were you doing there?
Jake Gittes: Working for the District Attorney.
Evelyn: Doing what?
Jake: As little as possible.
Evelyn: The District Attorney gives his men advice like that?
Jake: They do in Chinatown.

As little as possible. Jake’s disillusionment was compounded when he attempted to help a Chinese woman. He says, “I thought I was keeping someone from being hurt and actually I ended up making sure she was hurt.” That same scenario plays out in the main plot, much of which is taken up with a long, brilliant McGuffin. It draws Jake into a situation in which he feels an obligation to rescue his client, Evelyn, and her daughter from an ugly situation involving Evelyn’s father–a multimillionaire developer. Once again, Jake finds himself in a situation in which the rules/laws aren’t clear to him, in which he doesn’t understand the motives or actions of the people involved, and where his attempts to help result in more harm. Had he done ‘as little as possible’ things may have worked out better, even if the situation itself remained awful.

In the final scene, his client is dead, the bad guys win, and Jake is not only helpless, he’s also partly responsible. He sees her body, mutters “…as little as possible” and is ordered away from the scene by his former Chinatown detective partner. As he’s being led away, one of Jake’s current employees tells him, “Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown.”

This scenario is being played out with President Uncle Joe and the decision to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan. It’s a culture–actually, a number of inter-related ancient tribal cultures–we don’t understand, cultures that operate on traditional rules and norms unknown to us, with values and ethics that are often alien to us, with goals that are foreign to us. The US and our Western allies have been attempting to resolve our involvement relying on OUR cultural norms and OUR values to achieve OUR goals. Forget it, Joe. It’s Afghanistan.

We had a valid reason (at least in my opinion) to intrude militarily in Afghanistan. Al Qaeda had used that nation as a training ground and recruitment center for the 9/11 attacks. We had a legit reason to go after al Qaeda. After that, things got…loose.

The fact is, no foreign adventure has ever succeeded in Afghanistan. Alexander the Great, whose Macedonian army basically walked over every army they’d fought, got caught up in a long guerrilla-style war in Afghanistan. He never fully succeeded in pacifying the various Afghan tribes. Before he died, Alexander said, “May God keep you away from the venom of the cobra, the teeth of the tiger, and the revenge of the Afghans.” Various Muslim invasions succeeded in converting most Afghan tribes to Islam, but never completely controlled the area. The Mongols, under Genghis Khan, occupied much of the area for quite a long time, but their empire also fell apart. Nobody held the area as long as Timur the Great–but it’s worth noting that Timur was known as Timur the Lame (or ‘Tamerlane’ as he was called by Europeans) because of wounds he received fighting Afghan tribes. After Timur’s empire failed, the Sikhs attempt to invade Afghan territories several times without much success. The British invaded three times in the 19th and early 20th centuries–and got their asses kicked each time. Russia invaded three times–in 1929, 1930, and finally in 1979–and got their asses kicked each time.

And, of course, the US (and NATO) invaded in 2001. We know how that worked out.

But here’s the thing the Afghan tribes have always known and the thing foreign invaders never seem to figure out: the Afghans don’t have to win any wars; they only have to keep fighting at some level, and eventually the invaders–no matter who they are, or where they’re from, and how powerful they are–will leave. The various Afghan tribes are unconcerned about foreign military deadlines or the domestic political necessities of foreign powers or the costs those powers incur; they’re operating on God’s time, and they measure cost on a different scale.

President Uncle Joe’s decision to pull out troops is just an acknowledgment that Afghanistan is Chinatown. Doesn’t matter if we had a legit reason for being there, doesn’t matter if our long low-level war of occupation was a genuine attempt to help the Afghan peoples (and I’m not convinced it was), doesn’t matter what our motives were. Like every other invasion force in Afghan history, we’ve almost certainly done more harm than good.

There’s a scene in Chinatown in which Jake Gittes speaks with Noah Cross, the millionaire developer behind all the misery that’s taking place. Cross inhabits a world where laws and rules of ordinary decency don’t seem to apply–a world that’s as ambiguous and perplexing to Jake as that of Chinatown, a world that’s just as baffling and complex as our involvement in Afghanistan.

Jake Gittes: How much are you worth?
Noah Cross: I have no idea. How much do you want?
Jake: I just wanna know what you’re worth. More than 10 million?
Noah: Oh my, yes!
Jake: Why are you doing it? How much better can you eat? What could you buy that you can’t already afford?
Noah: The future, Mr. Gittes! The future.

That’s why we’re in Afghanistan. The future. Their future, our future–we think we can make it better. We think we have the means and the power and the right to make it better. We think we know what ‘better’ means.

We don’t. We just don’t.

Forget it, Joe. It’s Afghanistan.

covid on the floor

February 12, 2021 — HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana’s statewide mask mandate that had been in place since July was lifted Friday by Gov. Greg Gianforte. Gianforte, a Republican, promised the day after assuming office in January that he would lift the state’s mask mandate once there were liability protections in place for businesses and health care providers. The state’s chief medical officer, Dr. Gregory Holzman, resigned from his post Thursday, the day after Gianforte announced he would lift the mask mandate.

April 6, 2021 — BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte has tested positive for COVID-19. The Republican governor’s office released a statement Monday evening saying that after experiencing mild symptoms a day earlier, Gianforte was tested “out of an abundance of caution.” All of the governor’s in-person events have been canceled, and he plans to work from his home in Bozeman. His staff will be be tested for the virus Tuesday.

Moron

Dr. Gregory Holzman: There are multiple reports across the nation of people stepping on Legos and hurting their bare feet.
Gov. Gianforte: Fake news. I’ve never stepped on a Lego. I’ve never seen a Lego.
Dr. H: Legos are real. People are dropping them on both coasts. It’s only a matter of time before Legos get dropped here in Montana. We should consider a boot mandate until we can isolate the people who are dropping Legos.
Gov. G: A boot mandate? That would be an infringement on the freedom of Montanans. Besides, only a few people in Montana have stepped on Legos.
Dr. H: Until we can identify who is dropping Legos, a boot mandate will prevent widespread foot injuries. We need to stay ahead of the problem.
Gov. G: I’m not going to issue a boot mandate when only a hundred or so Montanans have stepped on a Lego.
Dr. H: But the number of instances of people stepping on Legos is increasing. Happily, recent research indicates boots may not be necessary; shoes will be equally effective.
Gov. G: First you say boots, now you say shoes. Maybe you’re wrong about shoes too. Besides, most people who step on Legos recover.
Dr. H: Thousands of Legos…probably tens of thousands…are on the floor in Montana now. People are stepping on them at an unprecedented rate. A shoe mandate is vital.
Gov. G: Okay, I’ll suggest people should start wearing shoes, but I’m not going to make it mandatory.
Dr. H: The hospitals are being overwhelmed with foot injuries from people stepping on Legos.
Gov. G: Okay, I’ll issue a shoe mandate. Happy now?
Dr. H: Foot injuries are leveling off. There are fewer reports of Legos being dropped on the floor.
Gov. G: I’ll remove the shoe mandate.
Dr. H: No, it’s too early. Some of your own staff may have stepped on a Lego. We need to keep the shoe mandate in place a little bit…
Gov. G: I’ve removed the shoe mandate.
Dr. H: I quit.
Gov. G: Ouch. What the hell did I just step on?
Dr. H (muttering): Moron.

And that’s today’s lesson.

still trash

Back in October of 2019 I wrote that the GOP is a trash party. I wrote that what made the Republican Party trash wasn’t because they “…abandoned an internally consistent conservative ideology (or anything resembling an internally consistent ideology), or that they’ve completely abdicated any interest in governance, or even that they have no respect at all for truth, decency, law, compassion, science, or the U.S. Constitution.” They had done all that, of course. But what made them trash was “the joy they seem to take in pissing all over the traditions and norms they claim to represent” and their perverse reasoning that ‘owning the libs’ is a legit substitute for ethics and morality.

Since then, the Republican Party has solidified their reputation as a trash party. They seem to revel in it, and apparently believe that by openly acting like trash, they’re immune to consequences. Sadly, there’s some basis in reality for that belief. Why would Florida’s weasel-in-a-suit Matt Gaetz be concerned about consequences of sleeping with teen-aged girls, getting them fake IDs, transporting them across state lines, and showing naked photos of them to fellow GOP members of Congress when the head of their party–former President Comrade Trump–could brag about grabbing women by the pussy, ogling naked Miss Teen USA contestants, paying off porn stars to hide his sexual affairs (not to mention protecting murderous foreign tyrants and fomenting a violent insurrection in his own nation) without losing any support from his voters?

What Gaetz is accused of is small beans compared to Trump. Gaetz is essentially Trump in the larval stage. Gaetz is Trump evolved. It took Trump a long time to realize that politics could be a lucrative grift; Gaetz learned that lesson at a much earlier stage. Despite all the recent ugly revelations about Gaetz, not a single Republican has suggested he should resign–or even chastised him. After the January 6th insurrection, Gaetz gave a speech on the floor of Congress claiming the violence was caused by ‘antifa’ and was applauded. Compare that to the GOP response to Biden nominee for OMB Neera Tanden, who was forced to withdraw her nomination because she’d tweeted some ‘mean’ comments about Republicans.

The modern Republican Party has traded in its conservative ideology for a simple hyper-partisan political strategy:

  • Abandon shame
  • Lie and distract
  • Treat accusations of immoral/unethical/illegal conduct as partisan political attacks
  • Lie and distract
  • Treat accusations of immoral/unethical/illegal conduct as proof Democrats are targeting you for being a Christian/conservative
  • Lie and distract
  • Treat accusations of immoral/unethical/illegal conduct as a badge of honor
  • Lie and distract

And hey, it seems to work for them. So far. But surely, eventually it’ll catch up to them. Won’t it? I mean, the Republican Party used to have statesmen. They used to have principled conservatives, thoughtful patriots acting for what they believed to be the common good of the people. I disagreed with them, but for the most part I felt they were acting in what they believed was the best interests of the nation.

Not anymore. Now the GOP is a party of grifters, knuckleheads, yahoos, vindictive fuckwits, self-serving seditionists, vacuous privileged frat boys, judgmental bone-brained pseudo-Christians, hateful sadists, and proud anti-intellectual obstructionists.

Trash, in other words.

Gaetz may eventually be invited to leave Congress, sacrificed by his own party because he’s too inconvenient. He may eventually find himself in legal trouble. If that happens, he’ll be treated as a martyr by Republicans. But the real risk is that Democrats will consider it a victory. In fact, IF that happens, it’ll be like swatting an annoying gnat while ignoring a Congress filled with cabbage maggots, venomous spiders, voracious locusts, and fire ants. The larger problem of the GOP will still exist.

Until the Republican Party is either obliterated or somehow reformed back into a legit political party, it’ll remain trash.

until proven guilty

I’m afraid I’ve pissed off a friend. Well, it would be more accurate that I’ve further pissed off a friend who was already pissed off. They were already pissed off because former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin–who, of course, is charged with the murder of George Floyd–has asked the court to 1) delay the trial and 2) reconsider an earlier change-of-venue motion. I further pissed them off by saying both requests were reasonable.

I was asked How can you defend the cop who murdered George Floyd? My friend either forgot or was unaware that I’d once made a living helping to defend people accused of all manner of awful crimes. For seven years or so, I was a private investigator specializing in criminal defense. Murder, rape, arson, child abuse, animal abuse, pick an awful crime and there’s a good chance I’ve helped defend somebody accused of it. Almost all of them were factually guilty; almost all of them had actually committed the crimes of which they were accused.

I could truthfully argue that I wasn’t actually defending the accused criminals; I was defending the US Constitution, which guarantees everybody the right to a fair trial. I could truthfully argue I was actually defending civil liberties. Because the ONLY way to insure the innocent get the full protection of the law is by forcing the State to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt within the strictures of the law–and forcing them to prove it every single time. That means defending the guilty as vigorously as the innocent.

Derek Chauvin, police officer

But here’s the thing: it’s going to be incredibly difficult–maybe impossible–for Derek Chauvin to get a fair trial. It’s going to be incredibly difficult–maybe impossible–to find 14 jurors (twelve jurors plus two alternates) who will be willing and able to put aside everything they ‘know’ about the case and decide on a verdict based solely on the evidence and the law.

Most of the people I know are dead certain Chauvin is guilty–that he murdered George Floyd. There are other folks who are certain he caused Floyd’s death, but aren’t certain about Chauvin’s intent (which matters in a murder case)–maybe Chauvin was reckless, maybe he was indifferent, maybe he was just negligent. There are folks who think Floyd was somehow complicit in his own death–that he wouldn’t have died if he’d made better decisions. And there are folks who think Floyd’s life just doesn’t matter–that Black lives don’t matter. Very few folks are capable of putting their thoughts and beliefs aside long enough to focus purely on the evidence.

That pool of potentially impartial jurors HAD to decrease when the city of Minneapolis announced it had reached a US$27 million civil settlement with the Floyd family. I suspect a lot of potentially impartial jurors heard that and thought, There’s no way the city would cough up that much cash unless they knew they were responsible for killing that man.

Derek Chauvin, criminal defendant

So yes, I think there are legit reasons for delaying the trial. And yes, I think there are legit reasons to hold the trial in a different jurisdiction–one that hadn’t gone through weeks or months of protests, demonstrations, and riots as a result of Floyd’s death. I think the requests are legit because–and this will also piss off some/most folks–right now Derek Chauvin is innocent. Every defendant walks into a criminal court as an innocent person; the State has to prove they’re guilty. That’s the core principle of our justice system. Innocent until proven guilty. It has to apply to Chauvin, just like it applies to any accused criminal.

That said, I hope the State does its job; I hope they’ve followed the law and legally obtained enough forensic evidence to convince a jury to convict. I hope the defense team does their job; I hope they hold the State to the letter of the law and force them to prove their case. And I hope the court does its job; I hope the court abides by the letter and spirit of the law to insure Chauvin gets a fair trial.

Years ago, when I was doing criminal defense work, there was a bailiff at the Strafford County Courthouse–a former Sheriff’s Deputy who’d been injured in the line of duty and had a bum leg. While I was waiting to testify in some trial, he told me this: “I’m a great believer in mercy; but justice just keeps happening.” I agree with him about mercy; I’m not convinced justice happens as often he believed. But I hold out hope that it will.

EDITORIAL NOTE: One of the problems with being involved in the criminal justice system, even from a defense perspective, is the tendency to focus on specific issues rather than the broad system itself. I was asked a question about delaying and moving Chauvin’s trial, and I addressed that question–and only that question.

I wasn’t addressing the criminal justice system itself, but yes lawdy, it is wildly fucked up. And I didn’t address the obvious irony that the legal protections that are–and should be–afforded to Derek Chauvin were denied BY Derek Chauvin to George Floyd. Almost every criminal trial is about protecting the rights of people who refused to recognize the rights of their victims.

a massive tsunami of cabbage

Democrats: We think we should help people who’ve suffered as a result of the pandemic.
Republicans: Okay. Wait…which people?
Dems: All of them, but mostly the poor and working classes.
Reps: Seriously?
Dems: Seriously.
Reps: Uh, you realize they’re not going to donate to your campaigns, right?
Dems: Well…
Reps: Not in any meaningful way. Maybe a couple of bucks now and then, but we’re not talking about a massive tsunami of cabbage. They’re…you know…poor and all that.
Dems: Yeah. That’s why they need help.
Reps: So it’s not about campaign contributions?
Dems: It’s not about campaign contributions.
Reps: So it’s a political stunt. Not sure how that helps our party.
Dems: We think it’s good politics, but mainly it’s about helping the people.
Reps: Sure. But try to see it from our perspective. If YOU guys help…you know, ‘the people’…they’re going to wonder why WE didn’t help them when we wore the big hat.
Dems: Maybe. But the point is the people need help. So we should…you know…help them.
Reps: I dunno. How much help are we talking about?
Dems: A lot of help. Huge help. Uh…a massive tsunami of cabbage.
Reps: What? No. Are you kidding? Fuck that.
Dems: But…
Reps: Maybe we take some baby steps. A little bit of help. A tiny bit. Mostly symbolic. Enough that ‘the people’ will get the idea, but not so much that it’ll piss off our base.
Dems: If we reduce the amount of the help, will you vote with us?
Reps: Hah! Nofuckingway. Our base would set fire to the goddamn Capitol again. Have you MET those guys? They fucking nuts.
Dems: If you’re not going to support the legislation, then why should we modify it to help you?
Reps: In the interest of bipartisanship. The ‘people’ like bipartisanship. They eat that shit up with a spoon.
Dems: But bipartisanship requires both of us to be willing to cooperate in the interest of good policy.
Reps: See, you guys always get that wrong. Bipartisanship just means using the word ‘bipartisan’ now and then. Or it means accusing you guys of not being bipartisan. It’s just a word we have to insert into our messaging. Kinda like ‘Christian’.
Dems: Yeah, no, I don’t think so.
Reps: So…you’re still going ahead with that ‘helping ‘the people” business?
Dems: Yep.
Reps: Look, that’s really going to hurt us. You don’t want to do that, do you?
Dems: No, but we really DO want to help the people.

Reps: You may want to think about this. We have this whole Dr. Seuss thing we’ve been working on. It’ll fuck you up, big time. And we’ve got a Mr. Potato Head’s dick agenda that will leave you guys bleeding in the goddamn gutter.
Dems: Thanks for the warning, but I think we’ll keep…wait. Mr. Potato Head’s dick?
Reps: It’s a thing. We’re still setting the parameters of the campaign. But if you guys insist on this ‘the people’ bullshit, we will choke you on Mr. Potato Head’s dick.
Dems: It’s a risk we’ll have to take.
Reps: Sorry…wasn’t listening. I was composing a fundraising email. I’m telling you, Mr. Potato Head is going to bring us a massive tsunami of cabbage. What were you saying?
Dems: We were saying we’re still going to help the people.
Reps: Okay. Go ahead. You guys are going to fucking ruin government, but go ahead. You’ll find out. You can’t dodge Mr. Potato Head’s dick. This is big boy politics.

this was supposed to be a few scattered thoughts

I’m a tad brain-weary this morning. I worked as an election volunteer yesterday–15 hours of civic duty helping people vote on a school board issue–so rather than attempt to organize some coherent thought on a single subject or theme, I’m just going to natter on for a bit.

First Thought: The election was briefly disrupted yesterday by a pipe bomb. That’s right, some fuckwit placed a pipe bomb outside one of the election sites (not the one at which I volunteered). That’s right, a pipe bomb. A fucking pipe bomb. Over an election on how the local school district should spend its capital improvement funds. You know, do we want to improve classrooms and build new playground equipment–issues like that. We don’t know who planted the bomb (yet) or what his motives were (and yeah, I’m assuming it’s a guy…sue me), but to me it seems likely the would-be bomber will turn out to be some young Trump-crazed asshole who thinks the best way to ‘protect democracy’ is to attack elections.

Post-Trump democracy in action.

The good news is the local police acted quickly. A bomb squad from the Fire Marshall’s office showed up (as did the ATF and the FBI), and safely detonated the bomb. The bomb was found around 0920 and the election site was back up and helping voters by 1230. That makes me proud. The polling site was only closed for three hours. That’s the best way to say ‘Fuck you’ to the bomber.

Second Thought: Speaking of civic pride, there’s a village in Perthshire, Scotland called Aberfeldy. It’s just a small market village on the River Tay, population a wee bit under 2000. The name Aberfeldy comes from the Pictish term aber meaning ‘the mouth of a river’ and the Gaelic Peallaidh, which translates as ‘shaggy’. But–and this is SO cool–Pealladh is also the name of a local fay being which is said to abide in the river. ‘The shaggy one’ is considered a harmless sub-species of fuath, the generic class of Scots spirits/sprites that inhabit the sea, tidal rivers, fresh water rivers, and lochs.

Now that’s a fountain.

You’re probably asking, “Greg, old sock, what’s all that fae business got to do with civil pride?” It’s a good question (and stop calling me ‘old sock’). Here’s the answer: this village, inhabited by fewer than two thousand souls and one water sprite, has the most astonishing water fountain in the town square. Just look at that beauty. It was donated in 1885 by the Marquis of Breadalbane (no, really, Breadalbane, isn’t that a great name?). Now THAT is civic pride. Even Robert Burns (and there is nobody more Scottish than Burns) appreciated this little village. He wrote a poem called The Birks of Aberfeldy.

Now Simmer blinks on flowery braes,
And o’er the crystal streamlets plays;
Come let us spend the lightsome days,
In the birks of Aberfeldy!

Third Thought: Among the many stupid, hateful, vindictive, anti-democracy voting laws Republicans are pushing through state legislatures this year, this one stands out. The Georgia GOP wants to interpret an existing law that prohibits giving or receiving money/gifts for registering voters, or voting for a particular candidate to include folks handing out snacks or water to voters standing in long lines while waiting to vote.

It’s not enough to make it harder for certain groups to vote, it’s not enough to reduce their opportunities to vote, it’s not enough to reduce the hours in which they can vote, the Georgia GOP also wants to punish anybody who tries to ease the burden of voting. If there’s a Hell (and I’m afraid I don’t believe there is), there ought to be an especially severe section for deliberately cruel and corrupt politicians.

That would also include governors (and I’m particularly thinking of the singularly vile governor of Texas here, though the governors of Iowa, Missouri, North Dakota, and Mississippi are very nearly as horrible) who knowingly and willfully put the health and safety of their citizens at risk. Abbott of Texas not only completely lifted ALL Covid precautions statewide, his order also prohibited city and/or county governments from requiring masks or limiting business operation. He basically ordered them to stop doing anything to protect their citizens.

Just a few months ago Texas was paying prison inmates US$2 an hour to move Covid corpses into mobile refrigerated morgues.

Abbott did this while his state is still averaging over 200 Covid deaths each day. Texas has the the third-highest Covid body count in the country. It’s 45th among states in terms of the percentage of the population that’s been vaccinated. And by the way, every Republican member of Congress from Texas opposes Uncle Joe’s Covid relief bill. They know they can vote against it and still benefit from the cash when Democrats pass it. That’s how awful they are.

Remember when Comrade President Trump decided to stop federal funding for ‘anarchist jurisdictions’ that ‘refused to undertake reasonable measures to counteract criminal activities’? He was talking about states and cities that refused to call the National Guard to stop Black Lives Matters protests. But maybe that idea has some merit. Maybe Uncle Joe should consider limiting funding for anarchist jurisdictions that refuse to undertake reasonable measures to counteract the pandemic.

I wonder if Republicans would object to that.

Okay, remember when I started this post? I said I was too brain weary to ‘attempt to organize some coherent thought on a single subject or theme’? It turns out my brain was organizing stuff without my knowledge. Turns out there WAS a theme. Civic duty. Civic pride. Civic responsibility. Civic pride isn’t about being ‘the best’ or ‘first among’ or any of that ‘We’re Number One!’ sort of nonsense; it’s about putting in the effort to make the lives of your citizens a bit better. Civic pride is helping your people vote, it’s keeping your people safe, it’s a ridiculously ornate water fountain in a small village.

Civic pride. Governor Abbott doesn’t have any. The jackass who planted the pipe bomb doesn’t have any. The village of Aberfeldy does. “Come, let us spend the lightsome days / In the birks of Aberfeldy.” There are no lightsome days when you’re loading bodies into refrigerated trucks.

two quick thoughts on repeachment

The article of impeachment against former Comrade President Trump will go to the Senate today. Predictably, most Republicans are being assholes about it, making a couple of bullshit arguments against conviction.

Bullshit Argument #1: Impeaching Trump a second time will only further inflame the deep divisions between decent folks and fascist terrorists the two political parties and lead to further violence. Basically, this argument acknowledges that Trump, at the very least, encouraged the insurrection at the Capitol Building, but suggests that if he’s held accountable for his part in the insurrection, it could lead to another insurrection. In other words, “Yes, Daddy hit you, he’s sorry he lost his temper, it won’t happen again, unless you make Daddy very angry, then he’ll have to hit you again.”

At the heart of this bullshit argument is the notion that inciting a physical assault on the Capitol in an attempt to overturn an election is certainly to be frowned upon, but Trump failed to overturn the election, and surely that humiliating failure is punishment enough. This bit of fuckwittery leads us directly to the next bullshit argument.

Bullshit Argument #2: Impeaching a president after he leaves office sets a bad precedent. Unpopular presidents could be punished for being unpopular. This is a spectacularly stupid argument. Failing to impeach and try a former president essentially indemnifies a president against doing all sorts of awful shit in his last few months in office. Like, for example, installing a bunch of stooges in the Justice Department and the Pentagon and the Intelligence Community to help overturn an election. This argument says a president is free to commit crime during the lame duck period because there won’t be any consequences once the corrupt motherfucker is out of office.

Comrade Trump has fucked the GOP and they’re about to give birth to a monster.

Senate Republicans have only themselves to blame. They’ve dropped themselves into a situation where their choices are either 1) to convict the corrupt motherfucker they should have convicted a year ago OR 2) go on the record saying they support the corrupt motherfucker who a) incited an attack on the Capitol that led to half a dozen deaths, b) spent a couple of months trying to strong-arm a handful of states into falsifying their election results, and c) placed a cadre of equally corrupt motherfuckers in key federal positions to help overturn the will of the voters.

Neither option is attractive. They’ll try to pretend they’re doing the right thing. They’ll claim they’re taking a principled stand in defense of…I don’t know what. Unity maybe? The Constitution? It’ll be bullshit, whatever it is. And whatever the result, the GOP’s romance with Trump has produced an angry, resentful, hate-fueled mob of white supremacists who will continue to plague the US for some time.

One last thing. When President Uncle Joe spoke about unity, he wasn’t saying we should all agree on what’s important and how stuff should get done. He was just saying we’re all caught in the same fucked up situation and if we want to get out of it, we should try to work together rather than kicking each other in the balls out of spite. Jeebus on toast, it’s not that complicated.

ADDENDUM: I just learned SCOTUS has chucked all of Trump’s emoluments cases as moot, since he’s no longer POTUS. Basically, that clears future presidents to turn the White House into a for-profit enterprise, allowing them to accept money (including from foreign governments) so long as they can delay any legal proceedings and run out the clock until they’re out of office. Thanks, Republicans.