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.

unity

Congressional Republicans (or, as I like to call them, ass-weasels) have a new strategy for governance. It’s called whining. Here’s an example: Senator Rob Portman (ass-weasel, Ohio) had this to say in response to President Uncle Joe Biden’s proposed Covid stimulus package.

“I have not personally [heard from the White House], and I’m disappointed in that, not about me but about, you know, it’s one thing to talk about outreach, another thing to do it.”

Portman was disappointed, poor babby, that Uncle Joe hadn’t personally assured him that after more than 400,000 Covid deaths, after the failure of the Comrade Trump administration to produce any sort of national plan to fight the pandemic or distribute the Covid vaccine, and after the resulting collapse of the economy, the US government would need to spend a buttload of money in order to get people inoculated and keep people housed and fed.

Rob Portman, (R ass-weasel) — known for his grey hair, low stance, fluffed-out feathers, and small head.

What’s worse, Portman made that comment on Friday. Uncle Joe had only been on the job since Wednesday. Well, Thursday really; most of his first day was taken up by ceremonial stuff. I guess you’d call that preemptive whining. Still worse, Portman is generally considered one of the more ‘reasonable’ Republicans.

This is the atmosphere in which ‘unity’ is supposed to take root. Republicans are, in effect, saying, “Okay, so you Democrats kept control of the House, you took control of the Senate, and you captured the White House, and okay, yeah, a hundred and forty-seven of us did sort of actively try to block Biden from becoming president, and sure, some of us appear to have encouraged the storming of the Capitol Building, and maybe some of our members even conspired with the insurrection, and okay, a few of us are probably carrying concealed weapons in the building right now, but why isn’t Biden asking us what WE want? Where’s that unity he keeps talking about?”

The problem with Uncle Joe’s call for unity is that the modern Republican Party doesn’t operate that way. There are no longer any principled conservatives in the Republican Party. Nobody in the modern Republican Party can be trusted to act in the best interests of the nation, not unless you’ve got their balls snugly wedged in a six-inch bench vise. They simply don’t believe in cooperative unity as a concept. Cooperation for the good of the nation is as baffling to them as a game of checkers is to a Buff Orpington hen. They’ve become a political party whose agenda is driven almost entirely by fear, resentment, white rage, and a pervasive feeling of victimization.

Buff Orpington hen — known for its heavy, broad body, low stance, fluffed-out feathers, and small head.

So what are Democrats supposed to do? We expect Democrats to act like reasonable, responsible adults. At the same time, we expect Republicans to act like ass-weasels. We tend to hold each party to those standards. The thing is, modern Republicans are just NOT going to act like reasonable, responsible adults; they’re going to continue to act like ass-weasels. We need to accept that reality.

Knowing that, here’s my suggestion for Democrats. Act like reasonable, responsible adults. Ask Republicans to participate in crafting legislation as if they were reasonable, responsible adults. When they act like ass-weasels, Democrats should just Merrick Garland the fuck out of them. Ignore their whining, ignore their complaints, ignore their lies, pass the legislation they want by majority rule, move on to the next thing on the agenda and repeat.

Unity is a grand thing. It would be nice if Democrats and Republicans could act in unity. If they can’t, then Democrats should act in unity alone.

yesterday was a peach bellini

Comrade Trump is gone. Uncle Joe Biden is the prez, with Kamala Harris as veep. Democracy has been resurrected. Winter will end. Bluebirds will sing again. Flowers will grow unbidden where Amanda Gorman walks. The breeze will be warm (or cool) and scented like apricots. All small towns will be called Bedford Falls. A cup of coffee will only cost a nickel.

Okay, maybe there’s some wishful thinking in there. But that’s sort of how it felt yesterday. That feeling won’t last, of course. Reality is a merciless sumbitch (as QAnon believers discovered yesterday); the Covid pandemic is still killing thousands of Americans every damned day, the climate is still massively fucked, and it’ll take a generation or so before anything like real racial/gender justice takes firm root.

But we deserve — hell, we need — a few days to just let the feeling that good things can still happen roll over us. Yes, there’s a LOT of work to do, but let’s not allow necessity to cast a shadow over the multitude of ways yesterday was special. Just one example: the undiluted joy of seeing the first woman — a woman who is black AND Asian — sworn in as Vice President of the United States by the first woman of color appointed to the US Supreme Court with her hand on a Bible that belonged to the first black man appointed to the US Supreme Court. That’s some serious history, right there.

So let’s not make a fuss about which particular bit of history yesterday was the most significant. It’s not a contest. And let’s not scold or castigate (now there’s an interesting word; it’s derived from the same root as ‘chaste’ and it originally meant ‘to make someone pure by correction or reproof’) other folks for enjoying a fashion decision, or an internet meme, or the selection of an entertainer that seems trivial compared to the magnitude of yesterday’s events. And for fuck’s sake, let’s not be assholes about ‘winning’. A bit of gloating is understandable and forgivable (did I spell that right? It doesn’t look right), but even though Trump and his followers treated us as the enemy, we shouldn’t prove them right.

I’m NOT saying we need to forgive and forget. Fuck that. But I am saying unity is important. There are people who ought to be investigated; if found responsible for awful behavior, they need to be held accountable. NOT for our pleasure or amusement, but because that’s how society is supposed to work. (On the other hand, if we get some measure of pleasure and amusement out of it, that’s gravy and we needn’t deny ourselves of it.)

I guess what I’m saying is this: yesterday was a good day. A really good day. Let’s not make any more of it than what it was, but let’s also not diminish or minimize any part of it. Yesterday was…let’s say yesterday was a peach Bellini. A cool, stimulating, mildly alcoholic cocktail with a delightful but subdued color palette. Was it a great peach Bellini? No, not really. Ideally a Bellini would be made with Prosecco and white peaches. Maybe this one was made with champagne instead of Prosecco, maybe with yellow peaches instead of white. But it was a very good Bellini, served properly, and at exactly the right moment.

Drink it, don’t diss it for not being perfect, don’t overstate its fine qualities, just enjoy it for what it is. Fizzy, refreshing, sweet, mellow, but stimulating.

heart’s grown brutal

It’s hard to believe, isn’t it. Right now, today, we have about twenty thousand National Guard troops in Washington, DC to protect our government from our president. We have been forced to mobilize a military force larger than the military response we have stationed in Afghanistan or Iraq in order to insure that the insurrectionist followers of Donald Trump won’t disrupt the inauguration of the legitimately elected President of the United States.

That is completely fucking insane–and yet here we are. We’ve arrived at this unnerving moment of history because Trump, supported by sycophantic Republicans in Congress and in coordination with a nexus of unhinged right-wing anti-government cranks and conspiracy theorists (fueled in part by Russian social media disinformation trolls), refuses to acknowledge he lost the 2020 election. Even though Trump has apparently abandoned the demented fantasy that he might somehow, magically, still be declared the winner, he hasn’t yet abandoned his lies about the election being ‘stolen’. That lie hangs in the air, fouling any hope for reconciliation.

We had fed the heart on fantasies,
The heart’s grown brutal from the fare

Billy B. Yeats wrote that in 1922. Ireland, after a couple of years of open warfare against British troops, had signed a treaty with the United Kingdom, granting independence to all but six of Ireland’s counties. The failure to establish full independence sparked the Irish Civil War, between those who insisted on full independence and those who were willing to accept partition in the hope that it would someday lead to a united Ireland. It led to Irish people fighting against “Irish soldiers of an Irish government set up by Irishmen.”

The poem is called The Stare’s Nest by My Window. Apparently in the west of Ireland ‘stare’ was the local term for a starling. I’d read the poem a number of times and loved the language of it, but it wasn’t until I was living in DC and had the chance to hear the poet Seamus Heaney read it aloud, that it actually made sense to me.

William Butler Yeats

When he wrote the poem, Yeats was living in a 16th century tower called Thoor Ballylee. Outside his window, honeybees were building a comb in the crevices of the crumbling masonry near an abandoned starling’s nest. Yeats uses all that as a metaphor for the Irish Civil War. The old tower is falling apart, the nest where mother starlings brought “grubs and flies” to feed the nestlings is empty, but bees are still at work creating a home filled with the sweetness of honey.

My wall is loosening; honey-bees,
Come build in the empty house of the stare.

Outside his tower, in the real world, Irishmen were killing Irishmen. Yeats acknowledges that violence in the poem — “somewhere / A man is killed, or a house burned.” “Last night they trundled down the road / That dead young soldier in his blood.” He pleads for peace and rebuilding, for restoring the masonry of civil society, in a repeated refrain. “O honey-bees / Come build in the empty house of the stare.”

This is where we find ourselves now, here in the United States. We’re badly divided, but unlike the Irish in 1922, we’re not divided by competing notions of independence; we’re divided by willfully ugly lies, deliberately ugly rhetoric, and ugly conspiratorial fantasies created, spread, and often repeated by prominent Republicans.

We had fed the heart on fantasies,
The heart’s grown brutal from the fare,
More substance in our enmities
Than in our love.

The masonry holding our society together has been eroded, often intentionally, by those who want to create uncertainty and fear in order to stay in power. Our hearts have grown brutal; our hate seems stronger than our love. We desperately want/need it to be repaired. I believe–I want to believe–it’s possible to repair the damage. I see all those troops camped out in the ornate halls of our government, and the possibility of Americans fighting Americans fills me with dread and sorrow. Like Yeats, I feel we are “closed in, and the key is turned / On our uncertainty.”

I have no clear idea what will happen over the coming months. I have hopes; I have fears. I take some small comfort in knowing that countless others throughout history have felt similar hopes and fears. The fact that we’re able to read their writing today is proof that folks generally muddle through somehow.

Here’s the entire poem, probably in violation of some copyright somewhere.

The Stare’s Nest by My Window (1922)

The bees build in the crevices
Of loosening masonry, and there
The mother birds bring grubs and flies.
My wall is loosening; honey-bees,
Come build in the empty house of the stare.

We are closed in, and the key is turned
On our uncertainty; somewhere
A man is killed, or a house burned.
Yet no clear fact to be discerned:
Come build in the empty house of the stare.

A barricade of stone or of wood;
Some fourteen days of civil war:
Last night they trundled down the road
That dead young soldier in his blood:
Come build in the empty house of the stare.

We had fed the heart on fantasies,
The heart’s grown brutal from the fare,
More substance in our enmities
Than in our love; O honey-bees,
Come build in the empty house of the stare.

that lying fucker is fucking lying again

Did you see Comrade President Trump’s ‘concession’ video? I watched it last night. I knew it would be full of lies, because…well, Trump. But Jesus suffering fuck, it was like thirty pounds of lies packed into a twenty pound lie-sack. You’d need a goddamned abacus to count all the lies. Almost every sentence was a lie.

Let’s just look at the first three lines. “I would like to begin by addressing the heinous attack on the United States Capitol.” Bullshit. There is NOTHING he liked about addressing the attack. He no more wants to address the attack than a toddler wants to begin potty training. And I seriously doubt he considers the attack heinous. Having to deal with the aftermath of the attack, that’s heinous for Trump.

6MWE — six million wasn’t enough. Not convinced this guy was motivated by election integrity.

“Like all Americans, I am outraged by the violence, lawlessness and mayhem.” Bullshit. Trump has a history of encouraging violence, lawlessness, and mayhem if it’s done by his followers at his campaign rallies. Or if it’s done by gun-toting right-wing teenagers defending gas stations in Kenosha. Or if it’s done by local law enforcement officers against ‘thugs’. Or by federal agents or the National Guard against BLM and Antifa. Or by the military (or private military contractors) against Muslims. When used by his people against people who oppose him, Trump eats up violence, lawlessness, and mayhem with a spoon.

That’s part of the reason Trump’s followers love him. He allows them to hate the people they want to hate. He let’s them enjoy their hate, and feel proud of it. All those people storming the Capitol Building on Wednesday, does anybody really believe that was about election integrity? Naw, that was mostly his followers getting a chance to let their hate run free. It didn’t matter if the hate wasn’t actually directed at the specific groups they hated, it was a chance to break shit and feel good about it. It was venting without consequence. It was a physical manifestation of their Twitter/Parler feeds. Let loose, tear shit up, have a laugh.

“I immediately deployed the National Guard and federal law enforcement to secure the building and expel the intruders.” Bullshit. Massive bullshit. Trump, who was puppy-dog eager to deploy the National Guard against BLM protests, did fuck-all on Wednesday. Trump even blocked the DC National Guard from being issued riot gear or being deployed without the direct approval of…whoever the fuck the current Acting Defense Secretary is (seriously, I pay attention to this stuff, and I don’t have a clue who is in charge of the DoD at the moment; Trump spent recent weeks hollowing out the leadership of the Pentagon, replacing career people with obscure but virulent Trump sycophants). So no, Trump didn’t authorize the deployment of either the DC or the Maryland National Guard; he did everything he could to disrupt any National Guard response.

How could anybody predict rioters would breach the Capitol Building perimeter by 1:30?

What Trump DID do, though, was tell the rioters that he understood them, that he loved them and thought they were special. He actually said that. Then, in his bullshit ‘concession’ speech, he said “emotions are high” as if the storming of the Capitol Building was some sort of spontaneous emotional outburst.

It wasn’t. It was planned well in advance. Trump even announced and promoted it himself on multiple occasions. Big Protest in DC on January 6th. Be there, will be wild! His followers organized rides to DC, they published lists of what to pack (toothbrush, gas masks, a sweater in case it gets chilly, zip tie cuffs if you intend to take prisoners, charger for your cell phone), they arranged meeting locations, they created and sold event merch. There was nothing surprising or spontaneous about this.

Who could have predicted there’d be a MAGA Civil War on January 6th?

Trump’s ‘concession’ speech wasn’t a concession speech at all. It was a grudging, weak-ass, pathetic attempt to dodge being impeached for a second time. It was Trump’s version of the kid who murdered his parents asking a judge for mercy because he’s an orphan. It was Trump doing the spouse abuser apology (I’m sorry I hit you, but you made me so mad, here are some carnations I picked up from the gas station, I love you). It was Trump saying all he did was set off some celebratory fireworks, it’s not his fault there was a drought, who could predict there’d be a forest fire, and why didn’t the fire service respond sooner?

It was Trump sacrificing his followers to save his own ass. He said, “[T]hose who engage in the acts of violence and destruction: you do not represent our country, and to those who broke the law: you will pay.” This is what Trump does. If it turns out that somebody has to pay for the awful shit he’s pulled, he makes sure it’s not him. Or his feral children (although if they have to be sacrificed, we all know Eric goes down first).

The stupidest thing is, Trump probably believes his ‘concession’ speech will work. He probably believes it’ll get him off the hook. It’ll save him from impeachment. He’s said some of the words his people have told him he needs to say, surely everything will be okay now. That’s how it works, right?

Sadly, that IS how it works. At least it’s how it’s always worked before. If history is any indication (SPOILER: history is almost always an indication), there’s every reason to believe Trump will skate on this. There’s every reason to believe he’ll manage to remain POTUS until his term expires. There’s every reason to believe he’ll never be held fully accountable for his many crimes.

But we have a new president coming in, with a new Congress that’ll be controlled by Democrats, and a new Attorney General. So while there’s every reason to believe Trump will skate, there’s also reason to hope this time will be different.

what needs to happen

First, invoke the 25th Amendment and remove Trump’s power and authority. Second, impeach him again, and this time do it right. Third, appoint a Special Counsel to investigate Trump specifically in regard to yesterday’s insurrection.

That first step, invoking the 25th, is critically important. I don’t think we can afford to wait two more weeks for Trump to be removed. I don’t think he’s emotionally stable enough to trust for…hell, for another day. So yeah, I think it’s necessary for Vice President Pence to get together with Trump’s cabinet and invoke the 25th Amendment in order to remove Trump’s control of the nuclear arsenal, to take him out of the chain of military command, and to remove his power to issue pardons. I think we have to neuter his presidential authority, because yesterday he demonstrated more clearly than ever that he simply can’t be trusted to wield that power responsibly.

Then we need to impeach him again. The House needs to draft and pass articles of impeachment based only on his abuse of power yesterday. Keep it simple and specific. He incited a riot that resulted in an assault on a federal building, the destruction of federal property, and four deaths. The Senate needs to try him on that charge and Republicans need to find the balls to convict him and remove him from office.

At that point — before Biden assumes office — appoint a non-partisan Special Counsel with a very narrow mandate: investigate Trump to determine his level of responsibility in the January 6 riot and breach of the Capitol.

That’s not everything that should be done, of course. It’s not everything I’d like to be done. I’d like to see Trump hauled out of the White House in handcuffs. I’d like to see him in an orange jumpsuit. Hell, I’d like to see Cruz and Hawley and the rest of the Sedition Caucus removed from office. I’d like to see them dipped in shit and rolled in the sand. But what the nation needs right now is stability and maturity.

Right now — and I mean right now, starting this day — we need to take a few strong but essentially simple steps to settle the nation. We can sort out the rest later. But the shit that took place yesterday simply cannot be allowed to stand.

I’m ashamed to say it, but I don’t think any of this will happen. I don’t think there are enough Republicans with integrity to do any of this, and it can’t be done without them.

I have a LOT more thoughts on what happened yesterday, but I’m still too angry and sad and ashamed and disgusted to put them in any sort of order.

1/6/21 – fick herum, finde es heraus

January 6th. For me, it’s the birthday of Sherlock Holmes (and Joan of Arc, if you prefer religious martyrs). For you maybe it’s the Feast of the Epiphany, which is something of a big deal if you believe in that sort of thing. If you live in Dublin, you might think of the 6th as the anniversary of the Night of the Big Wind in which a storm in 1839 damaged or destroyed about a fifth of all the houses in the city. Speaking of disasters (or martyrs of a different sort), it’s also the wedding anniversary of Henry VIII’s short marriage to Anne of Cleves.

Lots of stuff taking place on the 6th. It’s also the day when both houses of Congress will meet to officially record the electoral college vote, which was taken on Dec. 14 to confirm the results of the 2020 election on November 3rd (SPOILER: Uncle Joe Biden won 306 votes to Comrade Trump’s 232 votes). Normally — as if ‘normal’ still had any meaning — that vote would be just a formality.

But we live in a post-normal grotesque Trump-shaped world. This January 6th, Josh Hawley (the spider-brained junior Senator from Hobby Lobby Missouri) has announced he’ll challenge the certification of electoral votes. That will force every member of Congress to publicly support either the actual election results OR the theory that Satan-worshiping, cannibalistic sex perverts among Democrats and Hollywood elites conspired with Republicans in Name Only, in cooperation with traitors in the Supreme Court and the Department of Justice, to insert an algorithm developed for the dead Venezuelan president Cesar Chavez into voting machines manufactured by a Canadian-based corporation that switched votes from Comrade President Trump to Uncle Joe Biden so that China will…fuck, I forgot what China is supposed to get out of this. Cheap soybeans, maybe?

Comrade Trump and GOP wanker Josh Hawley sing ‘I gotta be me’ at Attention-Seeking WhoreCon.

Anyway, while that freakish shitshow is taking place inside Congress, outside on the streets of DC, there’s going to be a pro-Trump rally. It’s hosted by Women for America First. You may be asking, “Greg, old sock, who are these Women for America First?”

I’m glad you asked. First, stop calling me ‘old sock’. Second, on their website, WfAF describe themselves (and again, I’m not making this up) as a “21st century suffrage movement” which gives “women the tools and a safe place to speak out – even when the haters come after us and try to shut us up just because we are women.” It’s clever of them to assume and anticipate that they’ll be hated, then to preemptively deflect that hate by claiming it’s because they’re women, not because of their fascist totalitarian views. They probably see themselves as modern Joans of Arc; their website is suffused with the self-pitying scent of burning martyr.

The coming God, Guns & Bullshit rally.

I don’t know what’s going to happen in DC on the 6th, but I’m pretty confident it won’t bear any resemblance to a woman’s suffrage rally. Comrade Trump is hot for this rally. He’s tweeted (of course he did) that it’s a ‘protest’ rally, and that it’ll be big. “Be there, will be wild.”

That seems a safe prediction; the previous two pro-Trump rallies (on 11/14 and 12/12) were pretty wild. Proud Boys and other right-wing extremists roamed around the streets, attacking anybody they suspected of being Antifa or BLM supporters or lizard people. There’s every reason to believe that will happen again on the 6th. The Proud Boys are especially upset right now because the Hotel Harrington — their preferred hotel — has decided to close its door to guests from Jan. 3 through the 6th. Why? Out of “concern and desire for everyone’s health and safety.” Basically, it’s because the staff hate the Proud Boys and because the hotel’s management doesn’t want the Harrington to be known as a magnet for racist hooligan fuckwits.

Trump, being Trump, seems to be tacitly encouraging the Proud Boys and the loopiest elements of Qanon — and that’s spooking the hell out of DC’s many law enforcement agencies. The DC metro police, the uniformed Secret Service, the federal Park police, the Capitol police, the Federal Protective Service — everybody is on edge, everybody is worried. Not just because of the potential for violence, but because nobody knows how Comrade Trump will respond to it. WaPo has reported, “Government officials fear that if violence spreads, Trump could invoke the Insurrection Act to mobilize the military” in an attempt to ratfuck the results of the election.

Proud Boys slogan — FAFO, fuck around, find out. It’s more impressive in German.

This is basically what Michael Flynn (former US Army general, former Trump National Security Adviser, Qanon dickhead, self-confessed liar, and felon) has advocated. He suggested right out loud that Trump “could take military capabilities and he could place them in those states [won by Biden] and basically rerun an election.”

That sounds like the plot of a bad Bruce Willis movie. Until you remember that in recent weeks Trump has replaced a LOT of career Pentagon officials with a job lot of inexperienced, fever-brained Trump supporters. It sounds ridiculous until you remember that his pet Attorney General recently resigned, and that Trump has threatened to fire both the current directors of the FBI and the CIA. It sounds ridiculous until you remember the vast majority of Republicans in Congress have stood around playing with their dicks while Trump has casually, deliberately violated almost every presidential norm and tradition (not to mention a number of laws). Congressional Republicans might voice ‘concern’ if Trump does try to invoke the Insurrection Act, but there’s absolutely no reason to believe they’d try to stop him.

And if that’s not enough to make you wet your pants, remember this: just a few days ago Trump threatened to attack Iran after Iranian-supported militias in Iraq launched some missiles at the US embassy in Baghdad. Trump tweeted (of course he did), “If one American is killed, I will hold Iran responsible. Think it over.”

Think this over: what would Comrade President Trump consider doing if he thought it would help him stay in power? Destroy the Republican Party? Spark a riot in DC? Start a little war in the Middle East? Burn a third of a million American Joans of Arc in the nation’s Covid wards?

I hate to say this — I truly hate to say it — but things may be owl-shit crazy right now, but I’m afraid things could get even owl-shit crazier starting on January 6th, 2021.

nashville police and the christmas day bombing

I’m hearing/seeing a lot of variations on this theme:

Unbelievable. Anthony Warner’s girlfriend reported he was making bombs in an RV eighteen months ago and the Nashville Police Department did nothing. If he’d been black or brown, they’d have found a reason to arrest him.

It sounds bad, doesn’t it. Really bad. I mean, Nashville police officers could have prevented the Christmas morning bombing if only they’d done what the police are supposed to do. Right?

Well, no. Here’s the problem with that. Folks are evaluating this case through a lens of known guilt. We KNOW Anthony Warner made a bomb in his RV, drove it into the city, blew it (and himself) up. We’re criticizing the police for not knowing in August of 2019 what we know right now. It’s like complaining that somebody bought the wrong Lotto ticket after seeing what the winning Lotto number is. Okay, that’s an unfortunate analogy; I’m not suggesting detonating a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device is anything like winning the Lotto. What I’m saying is the odds of knowing the winning Lotto number before the drawing is 1 in 292,201,338, but the odds of knowing the winning number after the drawing 1 in 1. We’re basing our understanding of an extremely improbable event after learning the probability was 100%.

Let’s look at what actually happened and evaluate the behavior of the police based on what they knew at the time. On August 21, 2019 MNPD received a report that Pamela Perry was suicidal and sitting on her porch with two handguns. Police arrived and found her with two unloaded pistols. She told the officers the firearms belonged to her boyfriend, Tony Warner. She didn’t want the guns in her house. She also told them Warner was making bombs in an RV parked behind his house, which was located about a mile and a half away. The officers called for an ambulance which took Ms. Perry to a mental health facility for an evaluation.

Based on what they knew at the time, the incident could have ended there. The officers could easily have dismissed Perry’s bomb-making claim as the delusions of a suicidal person. I mean, the police have a long history of ignoring the complaints of folks with mental health issues. Or they could have dismissed her allegation as baseless accusations made by an angry, unstable woman in an unhappy relationship. Again, the police have a long history of not listening to women and dismissing their concerns. I’m not saying that would have been appropriate; I’m just saying knowing only what they knew then nobody would have been surprised if, after the ambulance drove off with Perry, the officers had just continued with their routine patrol.

But they didn’t; they actually followed up on the claim. They spoke to the attorney (who was also the person who reported Perry was suicidal). He told them Warner had spoken about bomb-making and military stuff. So they went to Warner’s home and saw that there was, in fact, an RV parked in back yard behind a fence. There was no answer at the door, and they lacked any exigent circumstance to climb the fence and invade the privacy of a citizen. They didn’t even have enough information to ask a judge to issue a search warrant. All they had was the accusation of a suicidal person who was undergoing a psych evaluation at that very moment. So they informed their supervisors of the incident and sent a report to MNPD’s Hazardous Devices Unit.

The next day the Hazardous Devices Unit checked Warner’s police record — nothing but an old marijuana case (for which he’d been placed on probation). That could have been the end of the matter too. Knowing only what they knew then, nobody would have been surprised if the report was filed away and treated as a low priority. But they didn’t. They got in touch with the FBI, who had no record of Warner.

At that point, knowing only what they knew then, they let it go. All they had was 1) a claim by a possibly mentally ill person that her boyfriend, who had no serious criminal record, who had no known ties to violent groups, who was gainfully employed and owned a home in a decent suburb was making a bomb in an RV, and 2) he actually owned an RV. That’s it. That’s all they knew. There wasn’t any reasonable legal grounds to expend policing resources on any further investigation. So they let it go.

Had he been innocent, that would have been the end of it. And remember, in the US we’re all operating under the presumption of innocence. We don’t have to prove we’re innocent. Totalitarian regimes operate on an assumption of guilt.

But as we know now, Warner wasn’t innocent. He was doing exactly what his former girlfriend said he was doing.

The folks who say, “If he’d been black or brown, they’d have found a reason to investigate and/or arrest him” are correct. If he hadn’t been a suburban white guy with a job, the police might have leaned on him, pressured him, intimidated him. They might have cobbled together some excuse to barge into his home and search his property. But we’ve spent much of this year demonstrating against the casual, routine violation of the civil liberties of people of color. Are folks really suggesting the police should treat everybody as badly as they treat POC?

No, not really. What they’re saying is police should have violated Anthony Warner’s civil rights. Not everybody, just him. Why? Because we know he’s guilty. It’s easy to deny the rights of guilty people.

But here’s a horrible-wonderful thing about civil liberties: they apply to everybody, the guilty as well as the innocent. They have to apply to the guilty in order to protect the innocent, because we don’t always know who is guilty or innocent.

If we want to stop future Anthony Warners, the answer isn’t to give the police more power or to encourage them to ignore civil liberties. If we want to stop bomb-makers, we should make it more difficult to buy and sell (and re-sell) the common ingredients necessary for making bombs. It’s fairly easy to buy the ingredients to make a triacetone triperoxide explosive (I haven’t bothered to check, but I won’t be surprised to learn Warner had purchased significant amounts of hydrogen peroxide and acetone — the primary ingredients of TATP). If we can limit the monthly amount of Sudafed (“Provides Powerful Sinus or Cold Relief!”) an individual can purchase, we can do the same with bomb-making ingredients.

DISCLAIMER: I spent seven years as a criminal defense investigator. I’m not accustomed to defending the police. But I try to be consistent. The Nashville police followed the law. They didn’t let us down. We were let down by legislators and regulators who are in the pockets of pharma-chemical lobbies.