technically, it wasn’t an axe

The American People: You knew he was an axe murderer during the primary.

Senate GOP: Nobody expected him to win.

TAP: But he did, and you said nothing.

SGOP: We respect the will of the voters. Mostly. Some of the time.

TAP: You helped elect an axe murderer

SGOP: Technically, it wasn’t an axe. More of a hatchet.

TAP: Axe murderer, hatchet murderer, what’s the difference?

SGOP: An axe requires two hands, whereas a hatchet can be wielded with only…


SGOP: Oh. We’re just simple Republican Senators. We don’t use big fancy East Coast elite words like…

TAP: You elected a chopping tool murderer.

SGOP: Well, the American people did. Elections have consequences.

TAP: For the last four years you’ve supported an axe…a chopping tool murderer.

SGOP: Not all of us. Some of us remained silent. Nobly silent.

TAP: You are all complicit. You didn’t try to stop him from murdering people with his…you know, chopping tool.

SGOP: Many of us felt he sometimes went a bit too far.


SGOP: We often said he should tone it down, be more presidential.

TAP: He tried to axe murde…use a chopping tool to murder the president of Ukraine.

SGOP: Nobody murdered the president of Ukraine. That’s fake news.

TAP: He TRIED to. He had his chopping tool in his hand when he asked the president of Ukraine for ‘a favor’.

SGOP: But that favor wasn’t granted and yet no axe murder took place. Nor was there any other chopping, hewing, lopping, hacking, severing, or cleaving-related death. No harm, no foul, that’s the law.

TAP: He was impeached for attempting to chopping tool murder the Ukrainian president, and you acquitted him.

SGOP: There wasn’t enough evidence. Besides, we believed he’d learned a valuable lesson and would stop threatening people with an axe. Or other chopping implement.


SGOP: Well. But the thing is, he didn’t.


SGOP: We need to give him time to come to terms with possibly maybe having been defeated in the recent election. You can’t expect him to be happy about this. In time he’ll graciously accept the possibility of defeat.

TAP: We need to take away his axe NOW. And all his chopping implements. We need to remove him from the White House.

SGOP: That will happen. If it’s determined that he actually lost the election, then we…


SGOP: But the Electoral College hasn’t voted yet, so…


SGOP: Not with an axe. Or other chopping implement.

TAP: He’s doing NOTHING about the Axe Virus Pandemic.

SGOP: Fake news. He stopped the importation of Chinese hatchets. And he’s radically cut the time it takes to produce a vaccine. See what we did there? Cut? Axe? Get it? Hah, we are a hoot.

TAP: This isn’t funny. People are dying.

SGOP: You people have no sense of humor. Bad enough you try to keep people from saying, “Merry Christmas” but now you…

TAP: You need to DO something. This madman has to be stopped.

SGOP: We will. We will act swiftly and deliberately, just as soon as we get back from the holiday recess. Merry Christmas!

stop playing the sap

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I won’t play the sap for you.”

I want Democrats to play that pivotal scene with Republicans.

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

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

coin in his pocket

Four days ago I thought there was a chance that Comrade Trump’s refusal to concede the election could be a deliberate attempt to break democracy. I was wrong.

I’m not saying Trump loves democracy; he doesn’t. I’m saying he doesn’t care enough about democracy to do the work necessary to break it. Trump isn’t stupid. Wait…strike that. He’s fairly ignorant, but…wait, strike that too. He’s massively ignorant, profoundly and deeply ignorant, extensively and exhaustively ignorant. But he’s got a sort of feral business-oriented shrewdness that alerts him when he’s about to lose or when he has something to gain.

We’ve actually witnessed this several times. He’s got a business that’s about to fail in a spectacular way, and boom he’s got bankruptcy lawyers thick as ticks in every possible court making sure other folks get hurt while he walks away with some coin in his pocket. He’s got a building about to finish construction, and boom he’s got a wolfpack of carnivorous lawyers finding ways to stiff his contractors and leave him with a bit more coin in his pocket. He’s about to lose a lawsuit, and boom he’s got a squadron of legal Uruk-hai negotiating a settlement that will allow him to escape responsibility and keep some coin in his pocket.

Comrade President Donald J. Trump is all about coin in the pocket.

“Help me fight voter fraud and, you know, keep America great and all that. Gimme money.”

I feel pretty confident that’s what Trump is doing now. He knows he lost the election, so he’s turned loose the lawyers — partly in a desperate but lazy attempt to find some sleazy way to stay in office, but mostly making sure Trump walks out of the White House with a bit of coin in his pocket.

Trump, his ethically challenged brood of kids, his Congressional lickspittles, and his army of lawyers have been inundating his much-aggrieved citizen-supporters with fundraising emails, begging for money to ‘stop the Left from ripping power away from the American People.’ They ask for contributions to the Official Election Defense Fund which, contributors are told, will “increase your impact by 1000%.” It’s an OFFICIAL fund and increases impact…impact…by a full one thousand percent. Who wouldn’t want to get in on that?

Ignore the fine print.

It’s just that this is Comrade Trump. Who just lost an election. This is Trump on his way out of DC. And what does Trump want? To put a wee bit of coin in his pocket.

Careful readers (and c’mon, how many Trump supporters are careful readers?) would note the fine print contained at the bottom of the linked page. The fine print the lawyers put together to keep Trump and themselves from committing crimes. The fine print that tells contributors that 60% of their contribution (up to US$5000) goes to a political action committee called ‘Save America’. That money can be used in just about any way Trump wants; he can contribute it to other politicians, he can pay his kids, he can use it to weigh down his pockets. But wait…there’s more. A full 40% of money over the $5000 legal limit (up to $35,500) goes to the Republican National Committee’s operating account. The other 60% will go to offset the costs of recounts OR other legal expenses.

In other words, if one of his supporters contributes $5001, only sixty cents would go toward stopping the Left from ripping power away from the American People; five thousand dollars will go toward filling Donald Trump’s very big pockets, forty cents will go to the RNC.

The longer Trump draws out this post-election drama — the longer he can keep his followers believing he’s really fighting for them — the more coin he can stuff in his pocket. This isn’t about breaking democracy; it’s about keeping the grift alive as long as possible. Hell, he can keep this grift going even after he’s left DC and established himself at Mar-a-Lago. He can tell his believers they’re funding his 2024 re-election campaign. A lot of them will fall for it.

Credit where it’s due: Comrade Trump’s priorities have never wavered. He is now, just as he was before, just as he always will be, about coin in the pocket.

breaking democracy

I’m not an alarmist by nature. I’m not one of those people who worry a lot. I’ve never spent much time fretting about things over which I have little or no control. I can’t recall ever waking up because I was worried about something.

Until this morning. I woke up a little after 0500 this morning, worried. Why? Because Donald Trump is trying to break democracy — and I genuinely don’t know how alarmed we should be about it.

The more rational part of my brain is saying, “Dude, chill the fuck out. This is Donald Trump we’re talking about. Ain’t no way this guy could pull that off. He’s too stupid and too lazy to break democracy.” And I believe that to be true. If it was just Trump, I wouldn’t be worrying. But Trump has surrounded himself with venal, amoral, self-serving, dishonest, corrupt assholes. In other words, he’s surrounded himself with people just like himself, but smarter, more competent, and more energetic.

Even with that information, I wasn’t really worried. And then a friend — Sue Wilkinson, living in what I like to think is a small idyllic village in England — alerted me to this:

It’s a long video — sixteen minutes. If you skipped right over it and kept reading, I understand. But I’d encourage you to make the time to watch the whole thing at some point. It will scare the holy shit right out of you, but watch it anyway.

Because this is a thing we actually NEED to think about. Trump is actually PULLING THIS SHIT RIGHT NOW. He’s refusing to concede the election. He’s encouraging his followers to disrupt the election process and reject the results. Even though he has no evidence of fraud, he’s suing various states to overturn their election results. He’s actually accusing state governments — some of which are governed by his own political party — of committing crimes. He’s trying to stop the states he lost from certifying their results. And he’s got his pet Attorney General, Bill Barr, to ignore the Justice Department’s longstanding tradition of staying out of election investigations until after the results are in and certified.

But there’s more. Trump’s head of the General Services Administration has refused to sign the paperwork releasing the money and resources for Uncle Joe Biden’s transition team. In fact, throughout the federal government, Trump’s political appointees have ordered their staffs NOT to work with the Biden transition team. It’s like every Trump appointee in the entire government has their fingers stuck in their ears so they won’t have to hear that they’re out of a job. They are deliberately dodging their responsibilities to the America people.

And there’s still more. While he’s pulling all that other selfish undemocratic shit, Trump is also actively dismantling the US national security system. Yesterday Trump fired his third Secretary of Defense, Mark Esper (who replaced Trump’s second SecDef, Patrick Shanahan, who replaced Trump’s first SecDef, James Mattis). When asked about the possibility of being fired, Esper said this:

“I could have a fight over anything, and I could make it a big fight, and I could live with that. Why? Who’s going to come in behind me? It’s going to be a real ‘yes man.’ And then God help us.”

To be clear, Esper was about 75% a ‘yes man’. Still got his ass fired. Lots of people expect Trump to also fire Christopher Wray, his third FBI Director (after Andrew McCabe, who replaced James Comey — and it’s worth remember that the FBI Director is appointed for a ten year term in order to keep the director separate from politics). Trump is also said to be considering firing CIA Director Gina Haspel (who is, that’s right, his third CIA Director).

None of this is a surprise. A lot of us thought this was a possibility. Even a probability. But even knowing that Trump was likely to pull this shit, I still wasn’t really worried. Until that video taught me something I didn’t know. I knew that if the election mess ended up in the House of Representatives, they could hold a contingency election. They could ignore everything that happened before — the popular vote, the electoral vote — and elect a new president all on their own. But I DID NOT KNOW how a contingency election worked.

It works like this: there are 50 states with 435 voting members — 232 Democrats, 197 Republicans, and a single Libertarian (5 seats are vacant). Each state gets a single vote. The individual members of the House vote to determine how their state will vote. For example, the 53 members of California’s delegation would vote to determine how California’s single vote will be cast. Montana’s three members of Congress decide how Montana’s single vote will be cast. Nebraska’s three members of Congress decide how Nebraska would vote. It doesn’t matter that California has eight times as many representatives as Montana and Nebraska combined, and represents nearly 40 million US citizens, whereas Nebraska and Montana represents a total of about three million. What counts is that Montana and Nebraska would get two Republican votes and California would get one Democratic vote. Democrats may have more members of Congress and represent more citizens, but Republicans control more individual states.

So IF Trump and his people fuck up the post-election process to the point where the decision has to be made by the House of Representatives, a minority of Republicans in the House could literally override the electoral college vote and the popular vote and install Donald Trump as POTUS. That’s fucked up, right there.

That could actually happen. I’ve no idea how likely or unlikely it is. I’d like to believe it’s highly improbable. But I believed Trump’s election in the first place was highly improbable. The thing is, it COULD happen. I’ve no doubt at all that Trump wouldn’t hesitate to break democracy if he thought it would help him. And IF it happens — IF Trump somehow retains the presidency — it would shatter the notion of representative democracy into thousands of tiny misshapen pieces. It would probably be impossible to put them back together again.

That’s why I was awake at five o’clock in the morning.

donny and the joyful finger

I wish I knew who took this photograph. I saw it this morning and I had an immediate emotional response to it. It’s a powerful photo. It’s not art, but it documents something critically important about yesterday’s announcement that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris had won the 2020 election.

The finger is a gesture that’s been around since the Greeks and Romans. It’s a universal gesture of contempt, of anger, of disrespect, of defiance. It means Fuck you, it means Go fuck yourself, it means Shove this up your ass. It’s NOT a polite gesture.

We’ve seen this gesture a lot during the Trump administration. We’ve often seen it at Trump rallies, when Comrade Trump would point out the ‘fake news’ journalists. For these Trump supporters, the finger is an expression of rage and resentment and hatred. It’s Fuck you for who you are and for not supporting Trump.

We’ve also seen it used by folks opposed to Trump. Because Trump rarely appears in front of people who don’t support him, the finger has most often been displayed metonymically (yes, that’s a real word). People give the finger to some thing or object that represents Trump (like one of his properties). In this sense, it’s usually an expression of defiance as well as anger. It’s case of Fuck you and what you stand for.

There was, of course, the case of Juli Briskman, who was famously photographed in 2017 giving the finger to Trump in his motorcade as they passed her on her bike. She said,

“It was just sort of like, here I am on my bike. I’ve got nothing, right? This is pretty much the only thing I had to express my opinion. He wasn’t going to hear me through bullet-proof glass… So that was pretty much how I could say what I wanted to say, right?”

Ms. Briskman was subsequently fired from her job as a government contractor for taking advantage of the opportunity to say what she wanted to say. Her finger was an expression of Fuck you, you don’t represent me or my values. Happily, she was later elected to the Loudon County Board of Supervisors. There’s a bit of poetic justice for you.

The finger in all its manifestations has been a constant during the Trump years. But take another look at that first photograph. Look at the faces of the people. Notice the absence of anger. That’s what makes this photo important, I think. This finger isn’t an expression of “Fuck you, I HATE you, get out!” This is a joyful Fuck you, Donny. This is an expression of “I’m SO happy you’re leaving, now you can just fuck right off.”

To me, the the spontaneous celebrations were the most amazing and delicious aspects of yesterday. The unplanned, impromptu eruptions of joy and happiness and relief. It was an organic response to the release of four years of tension. It was the dancing and the laughing and the shared sense that years of darkness and horror and sickness and death and despair were giving way to a brighter future. Yesterday we weren’t just saying Fuck you Donald Trump, we were also saying Fuck you to ugliness and racism and hate and Covid and the constant weight of the gloom of Trump.

Yes, there’s a shit-ton of work to do. Yes, there are going to be ugly times ahead. But man, let’s not forget how we felt yesterday and how many of us still feel this morning. Let’s hang on to that joy. Joy is nourishment and it will sustain us through the coming months and years.

EDITORIAL NOTE: The photograph was taken by AP photographer Evan Vucci. Thanks to Patrick Power for alerting me to this.

poseidon america

Back in 1972…no, wait. Earlier. 1969, a sportswriter-turned-novelist named Paul Gallico published a story about an aging ocean liner on its final voyage before being turned into scrap. Three years later, it’s turned into a movie. The Poseidon Adventure.

The SS Poseidon, traveling from New York City to Athens over the New Year holiday. The greed-head corporate owners, to save money on fuel, send the ship off with minimal ballast. Right there, you know everything, somehow, is going to go Oh Shit. And it does, right on schedule, New Year’s Eve, as the passengers are celebrating. An undersea earthquake creates a massive tsunami. Seriously massive. It hits the ship and, because of the lack of ballast, the ship is completely capsized. It literally turns upside down.

Hell, upside down. Who will survive? You guys, that was the 2016 election. We are the unlucky semi-innocent passengers on the ship when it’s hit by the calamitous, unpredictable wave. The people who should have been in charge are gone, replaced by inexperienced amateurs who tell us to keep calm and do what they say. If we obey and don’t ask a lot of pesky questions, they assure us that pretty soon the world will be all bluebirds and peach pie. A LOT of the passengers believe them.

The rest of us have spent the last 46 months trying to find some way to clamber up from the promenade deck, which is suddenly at the bottom, to the hull, now at the top, in the hope that we can manage to find a way out of the shambles. Sure, we’re being led by an annoying somewhat out of touch preacher, a semi-corrupt cop, and some smart-ass know-it-all kid, but at least they know which way is up.

They’ve managed to get us through the upside down kitchen, up an inverted ventilator shaft, along the flooded passageway to the engine room, all the way to the propeller shaft tunnel. Now we’re just banging a pipe against the hull, waiting for somebody to use a torch to cut a hole so Nevada can win the election for Uncle Joe Biden.

It looks like we’re going to survive. Yeah, we’ll have to listen to somebody sing a cloying version of There’s got to be a morning after, but that’s a small price to pay.

It’s been an ugly trip. We’ve lost a LOT of people, most of whom died unnecessarily. We’ve witnessed a shameful amount of selfishness and arrogance and corrupt double-dealing along the way. But we’ve also seen some courage, some self-sacrifice, and a willingness to help others.

That’s the good news. Here’s the bad news.

The ship is still upside down. And on fire. And full of dead people. There’s a HELL of a lot of work to be done. We’ve got good people willing to do that work. But remember those greed-head corporate owners who sent the ship off without ballast? Those evil fuckers still own the shipping company.

trump and getting to heaven

I hear this a lot. I mean, really a lot. “I really don’t understand this thing Christians have for Donald Trump. How can they support this guy? It doesn’t make sense.”

The thing is, it sorta kinda does make sense. At least it makes a sort of sense for a couple of different kinds of Christians. The thing is, when most of us think of Christians we think of folks who are trying to live by the principles laid down by Jesus. You know, love one another, judge not, forgive others who have wronged you, the truth shall set you free, the meek shall inherit, all that. Those Christians would have a really hard time supporting a sociopathic serial liar like Donald Trump.

But there are a lot of other sorts of Christians who have different priorities, and those priorities make it possible — even necessary — for them to support a guy like Trump. For example, abortion absolutists. If the main (or only) issue you’re concerned about is overturning Roe v. Wade, then Comrade Trump is your guy. He’s said many times he’ll only nominate appellate court judges who are opposed to Roe, so there’s that.

Worst petting zoo ever.

Personally, I don’t think Donald Trump cares about abortion one way or another. I’d be willing to bet my paycheck (if I had a paycheck) that he’s coughed up some coin to put an end to more than a few unwelcome pregnancies. But if ending abortion gets him applause and support (and money), then he’ll be willing to say he’s against abortion. It’s not religious or philosophical for him; it’s transactional. Still, these Christians will pray for him.

There’s another reason some Christians support Trump. They believe the End Times are just around the corner and it’s time to start making plans for The Rapture. Just a week ago, Pat Robertson, the televangelist, revealed to his audience that god told him “Donald Trump will be reelected…and his reelection will bring about start of the End Times.” These Christians see that as good news. They believe a whole bunch of stuff has to happen before Jesus returns and kicks Evil to the curb. First up, dead true believers will be resurrected, then the living true believers and the resurrected dead will rise up bodily to the clouds to meet god and Jesus. While all this cloud-based business is happening, everything on Earth is going Oh Shit. We’re talking war and calamities and all manner of horrible stuff. Then after a period of time, everybody who was raptured away will get to return to Earth like Jesus’ sidekicks and destroy Evil. I may have gotten some that wrong, and the chronology might be a tad off. But there are a LOT of different interpretations about what’s supposed to happen…but my point, if you can call it that, is that IF you believe somebody like Trump is necessary in order to get to that returning-with-Jesus-to-kick-Evil’s-ass moment, then you’d be all ‘Yay, Trump!’

Farmers and shepherds getting raptured away, and sinners getting stuck with the resulting mess.

So there you go. That’s why some Christians continue to support Comrade Trump. They’re either all about the fetus or they’re working on an appointment with Jesus in the clouds. Or else they’re just racist, women-hating assholes who call themselves Christians.

The thing is, these Christians may not give a rat’s ass about you or your values or your beliefs, but they vote. And they’ll vote for Trump. So unless you want to see forced pregnancies and/or everything on Earth going Oh Shit while some Christians have tea with Jesus in the clouds, you need to vote too.

DISCLAIMER: I’m not a Christian, though I was raised as a sort of half-assed Southern Baptist with a little Lutheran side-eye. Just so you know.

insult politics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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