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.

a bipartisan discussion on infrastructure policy

Democrats: President-elect Uncle Joe Biden says we should work with Republicans even though we may disagree on some policy issues. So let’s discuss the infrastructure bill.
Republicans: In Comrade President Trump’s second term, we should consider sending Democrats and other Satan-worshiping perverts to re-education camps. It’s only fair.

Dem: Excuse me, we don’t mean to be rude, but Uncle Joe won the 2020 election and will be inaugurated on…
Rep: STOP THE STEAL! We have incontrovertible proof that BLM operatives planted tens of thousands of pre-filled-out ballots for Biden!

Dem: The courts have repeatedly rejected your claims because of a lack of evidence, so…
Rep: The radical left courts are full of communist Trump-haters who hate Trump and MAGA and also Christians!

Dem: Many of the judges who’ve heard your cases were Republicans, some even nominated by Trump himself, so we don’t think you can…
Rep: Fake news!

Dem: It’s not fake news. It’s neither fake nor news. It’s just the facts, so let’s turn our attention back to infrastructure.
Rep: China is behind it! Where’s Hunter Biden?!

Dem: We don’t think that has anything to do with…
Rep: Joe Biden is a child molester and his son Hunter has sex with dwarfs!

Dem: No, he’s…wait, what?
Rep: China has infiltrated specially trained sex dwarfs to seduce Democrats and blackmail them to support the Chinese Communist Party!

Dem: …
Rep: Democrats don’t deny their participation in Chinese dwarf sex ring!

Dem: Look, can we just focus on why we’re meeting today and talk about infrastructure legislation?
Rep: We don’t make deals with Antifa! Why do you hate America?! STOP HAVING SEX WITH CHINESE DWARFS!

Dem: We’re not having…look, we’re standing here right in front of you.
Rep: You’re having Chinese sex with dwarfs in your mind! Right here in Congress! Have you no shame?!

Dem: Back to infrastructure…
Rep (grabbing their crotch): Infra this structure, bitches!

Dem: That’s completely inappropriate.
Rep: Fuck your feelings! Stop the steal! Lock her up!

Dem: We see no point in continuing with this.
Rep: Where are you going?! To see your Chinese sex dwarfs?! Do you keep them imprisoned in a secret chamber in an underground bunker hidden below DNC headquarters?!?!

Dem: We’re outa here.
Rep: Radical left Democrats refuse to cooperate with Republicans on infrastructure!

the washburn prophesy

I’m just guessing here, but I’m inclined to think Comrade President Trump is having a wee bit of difficulty sleeping. Maybe he’s worried about his pending legal troubles, maybe a late night snack upset his digestion, maybe he’s been wrestling with his conscience (okay, that’s not very likely), or maybe he’s fretting about the course of the global pandemic (equally unlikely). But for whatever reason, last night, around midnight DC time, Trump was awake and couldn’t resist the deadly allure of Twitter.

I’ll agree that Gov. Kemp of Georgia is a fool. I mean, he supported Trump. He trusted Trump. He believed in Trump. Clearly, the guy’s a fool. Anybody who puts any faith in Donald J. Trump needs to memorize the Washburn Prophecy — the immortal words of Hoban ‘Wash’ Washburn: “Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!” The one and only thing — the ONLY thing — a person can rely on with Trump is that he’ll betray them without hesitation if he thinks it’s in his interest. Or if they annoy him. Or if he thinks it’ll get applause from his audience of the moment.

But beyond the not-so-sudden but inevitable betrayal, Trump’s tweet is also grounded in lies and fantasies. ‘Open up signature verification,’ he says. Apparently what Trump wants is to have somebody (for example, a Trump loyalist) compare the signatures of registered voters to the signatures on…on what? On the ballots? Just a reminder here: THERE ARE NO SIGNATURES ON BALLOTS. They’re secret ballots, for fuck’s sake. The entire point of secret ballots is that they’re kept secret.

Before a ballot is counted, though, signatures ARE required. And matched. Twice. When you register to vote, you sign a document. That signature is kept on file. When you request an absentee or mail-in ballot, you have to sign the request form. That signature is compared to your registration signature. If it matches, they mail you a ballot. You DO NOT get a ballot unless the signature is matched. After you’ve filled out that ballot, it’s put into a secrecy envelope (because, you know, it’s a secret ballot) and you sign that envelope. When the election office receives that envelope, they compare your signature to your registration signature again. If it doesn’t match, the election office informs you and gives you a chance to correct it, and if you don’t correct it, your ballot gets shit-canned. If it DOES match, they remove the ballot from the secrecy envelope so it can be counted. They separate the ballot from the secrecy envelope BECAUSE IT’S A SECRET BALLOT. If they didn’t separate them, it wouldn’t be secret.

So any absentee or mail-in ballot has had the signatures verified twice. But once the ballot is removed from the secrecy envelope, there is no way for those ballots to be re-united with their secrecy envelopes because, again, THE VOTES ARE SECRET.

This is pretty basic stuff. Either Trump is completely fucking ignorant about how secret elections are held (which is likely), or he’s deliberately trying to sow mistrust (also likely), or possibly the man is delusional (again, likely). Maybe it’s all three, I don’t know.

What I know is this: his followers will see this tweet and demand ‘signature verification’, then become outraged when they’re told it’s impossible. I know this because, like Trump his ownself, his followers are completely fucking ignorant about how secret elections are held, or they’re deliberately trying to sow mistrust, or they’re delusional. Or all three. I don’t know.

The Prophet Washburn

I also know this, and I’ll repeat it: Trump’s followers should familiarize themselves with the Washburn Prophecy. The betrayal won’t be sudden, though it will seem that way to them. But it will be inevitable.

here’s an idea

On Wednesday, Comrade President Donald Trump released his 45 minute WhingeFest video on Facebook. In it he repeated his delusional claims that he actually won the 2020 election. He contended he was denied the win because of some nebulous and nefarious national (and possibly international) conspiracy to cheat him. He stated he and his supporters had put together a mass of evidence to support his claims, despite the fact they’ve presented absolutely NO evidence to the courts.

The following day, the Washington Post asked every Republican member of Congress, all 249 Senators and Representatives, the following three questions. Who won the election? Do you support or oppose Trump’s efforts to claim victory? If Joe Biden wins the vote in the Electoral College, will you accept him as the legitimate POTUS?

Only 25 Republicans said Uncle Joe Biden won the election. Only 9 opposed Trump’s attempts to overturn the official results. And only 30 agreed to accept Biden as POTUS after the Electoral College vote. Most of the 249 Republicans simply refused to answer any of the questions.

At best, Congressional Republicans are gigantic fucking cowards.

The WaPo reporters said these results:

“demonstrate the fear that most Republicans have of the outgoing president and his grip on the party.”

Here’s an idea. Let’s stop giving those assholes the benefit of the doubt. Suggesting the Republicans in Congress won’t acknowledge Uncle Joe’s victory in the 2020 election because they’re afraid of Comrade Trump is the BEST possible explanation of their behavior. It assumes they really WANT to do the right thing. It presupposes they would LIKE to do the right thing. It accepts as given that they share a secret desire to honor the US Constitution. But, poor things, they’re just too afraid to actually say or do anything. Because if they do speak out, they believe Trump will…well, he’ll give them the very same treatment he gives to Democrats on an hourly basis.

In other words, the most benevolent explanation for the refusal of Congressional Republicans to openly acknowledge that Trump lost is that they’re gigantic fucking cowards. That’s the most generous explanation. The most charitable explanation. The most public-spirited, noble, kind, and magnanimous explanation.

More likely, they’re self-serving traitors.

Well, fuck that. I’d suggest a much more likely explanation for their refusal to honor the results of the election is this: they’re okay with the destruction of democracy. Sure, they may be gigantic fucking cowards too, but basically I think they’re gigantic fucking cowards who have no qualms about doing away with representative democracy if it means they get to stay in power.

They’re not just faint-hearted, spineless, wee timorous poltroons. They’re self-serving, amoral, unfeeling, covetous, power-hungry, dishonorable turncoats who are indifferent to the law and their constitutional duties. The best — and only the very best — of them are gigantic fucking cowards. The rest of them are trash.

So let’s stop giving them the courtesy of suggesting they’re merely afraid. Let’s be honest. They’re traitors.

the trump presidency in 4 photos

Somebody once said photography makes us all tourists in another person’s reality. If that’s true, and I suspect it is, then…wait. You know, if I had to guess, I’d guess it was probably Susan Sontag who said that. I mean, she was always offering some weighty opinion about photography, and she had the terribly annoying habit of generally being right. Anyway, regardless of who said it, let’s acknowledge the truth of it. There’s absolutely no way to accurately depict four years in anybody’s life in four photographs, let alone the life of one of the most powerful people on the planet. So this is really just a tourist’s…wait. I had to check, and yes, it was Sontag.

The camera makes everyone a tourist in other people’s reality, and eventually in one’s own.

Okay, back to my point, such as it is. My point is that this is basically a tourist’s quick view of the Trump years. It’s not meant to be anything more than a sketch of the guy’s presidency, written mainly for my own amusement. Still, I hope it makes a few valid points about the type of person Comrade Donald J. Trump is and what sort of president he’s been. Which, yeah, is a lot to ask of four photographs.

So let’s start with this: Trump, at age 74, is a spoiled, petulant, selfish child who insists on getting his way. When he can’t get what he wants when he wants it, he pouts. Or he throws a tantrum. Or he finds somebody to blame. Or he claims he was deprived of what he wants because of someone’s personal animosity or jealousy. Like every peevish, impatient child, Trump is thoughtlessly, carelessly rude. It’s more than just a lack of courtesy; it’s an inability to consider the wants or wishes of others. He’s been indulged his entire life. Until now. Now he’s being denied a presidency he only wants because he enjoys the attention and because somebody is trying to take it away from him. He seems incapable of understanding why his pouting/tantrum routine isn’t working anymore.

Infantile, over-indulged, selfish, sulky, and obstinate.

Trump is an angry person. He’s resentful, petty, and vindictive. He assumes everybody else is equally angry, resentful, petty, and vindictive. He’s easily offended, and when offended his first impulse is to strike back, to offend the offender. Trump holds onto a grudge like a leech. Even if he eventually gets what he wants, he remains bitter and spiteful toward anybody who either opposed him or who wasn’t, in his opinion, sufficiently supportive. He has no sense of loyalty to others, though he expects unquestioned loyalty to himself. Worse, Trump is cruel. Deliberately cruel. He wants his ‘enemies’ to suffer, to be humiliated. Their humiliation and suffering makes him feel powerful and justifies his anger, resentment, pettiness, and vindictiveness. This makes him a bully.

Constantly prepared to be offended, constantly resentful, constantly cruel, constantly full of rage.

Trump is tacky. He’s vulgar. Crass. It’s not just that he’s personally gauche and physically graceless (though he is), and it’s not only that he lacks any grasp of art or any appreciation of artistry (though he does). It’s that he has a profoundly shallow concept of beauty. His aesthetic sensibility is limited to the surface of things; he is taken by the gaudy, the glittery, the garish, the bright twinkle of tinsel. He is trapped by the belief that bigger is better, that more expensive is better, that extra is better. This flashy sensibility applies to everything from home furnishings to women (which, I suspect, he also views as a home furnishing).

If his tastes were lowbrow, that would actually be an improvement; there’s honesty and integrity in lowbrow tastes. For example, I believe he genuinely enjoys fast food and junk food — fried chicken from KFC, Diet Coke, a Big Mac with supersize fries, Doritos. Most of us have some lowbrow tastes (confession: I’m a sap for the sweet chemical taste of Orange Hostess Cupcakes). Many people may be horrified by the way Trump likes his steak prepared (well done, served with ketchup), but the fact that he insists on having it served that way suggests he truly likes it. His taste in food is perhaps the only area of his life in which he seems totally sincere and authentic.

Junk food from a junk person.

Trump has no friends. I find this terribly sad, but revealing. He has followers, he has servants, he has sycophants — but no friends. It appears nobody, with the possible exception of his children (and I’m not convinced about them) really likes him as a person. People may want to spend time with Trump the Businessman, or with Trump the president, but there doesn’t seem to be anybody who actually wants to spend time with Trump the person.

He’s a hollow man. He has no human warmth. It’s impossible to imagine him playing with children, or tossing a ball with a dog, or having coffee and a chat with a friend. It’s impossible to imagine Trump sitting back in a chair, relaxing, reading a novel. It’s impossible to imagine Trump hanging out with a buddy. It’s impossible to imagine Trump having a hobby — a simple, regular activity done purely for his personal enjoyment during his leisure time. Golf is probably as close as he gets, but he’s a well-known golf cheat. You only cheat to win, and winning involves a desire to beat others.

Most people would help a stranger who had toilet paper stuck to their shoe.

This, in my opinion, is the saddest, most tragic, and most revealing photograph of the Trump presidency. One of the most powerful persons in the world climbs the steps to Air Force One with toilet paper stuck to his shoe. The president travels with hundreds or thousands of people attending him — members of his administration and all their aides, Secret Service agents, medical staff, communications staff, hospitality staff, the news media. Not one person was willing to tell him he had toilet paper stuck to his shoe. Not one. Everybody around him was either too afraid of him to mention it, or they didn’t regard him enough to save him from this moment of embarrassment, or they simply disliked him enough to let him appear in this humiliating fashion in public. The President of the United States — and they let him climb those steps with toilet paper stuck to his shoe.

That’s shameful. But that’s who he is. Donald Trump is the sort of person who, at the end of the day, isn’t respected enough or liked enough for somebody to say, “Excuse me, but you’ve got toilet paper stuck to your shoe.”

That’s the sad but appropriate epitaph of his presidency.

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.

not even a dog

Yesterday on Facebook I responded to a post by one of my senators (Charles Grassley, who at one time was a principled conservative but has devolved into a hypocritical party hack) who chastized “Democrats & liberals in the press” for not giving enough attention to the Hunter Biden Laptop Lunatic Conspiracy Theory. I said this in response:

Generally, advancing a Russian disinformation operation is considered unAmerican. Sad to see you taking such a position.

Several Trump/Grassley supporters took me to task for suggesting the laptop fuss followed the pattern of a classic Russian dezinformatsiya scheme (which it totally does).

— “Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe on Monday said that Hunter Biden’s laptop “is not part of some Russian disinformation campaign”.”
— our TDS Delusion is blinding you!! Hunter’s ATTORNEY contacted the computer shop, wanting to retrieve his client’s laptop!!! If this laptop has been in FBI custody since Nov. or Dec., 2019, HOW DID RUSSIA GET AHOLD OF IT, OR HAVE ACCESS TO IT??
— YOUR TDS IS IN THE WAY!! THIS LAPTOP, NOW CORROBORATED BY HUNTER’S ATTORNEY, IS LEGIT AND HUNTER HAS A PEDO PROBLEM AS WELL AS LOTS OF MONEY THAT HE AND “POP” HAVEN’T PAID ANY TAXES ON!!
— oh here we go again, everytime a Democrat gets caught dirty the ” Russians” did it, learn a new tune numbskull
— So you think just because the MSM isn’t covering this that it doesn’t exist?? WOW – and you call me stupid and gullible?? It is NOT a LIE, and when Joe-Joe and Hunter go to prison, maybe you’ll believe it then!! The laptop was corroboated by Hunter’s own attorney, plus Hunter’s buddies, Bevan Cooney and Devin Archer, who are both facing prison time for all of these crazy financial deals; they have now turned over 26,000+ e-mails which are also on Hunter’s laptop!! They were in on this; flipped on their buddy as they go to prison, and Hunter gets to be free FOR NOW!! Since Joe-Joe got half of all of the money, just think of all the taxes that Joe-Joe did NOT PAY on all those millions!! Hope the IRS pays him a visit!!
— has nothing to do with the Russians. It is left wing bias by Twitter and Facebook.
— FOX Tucker Carlson verified it today.

Where to start? Maybe with the claim that Hunter Biden’s attorney ‘corroboated’ the idea that the laptop belong to his client. George Mesires, the attorney in question, told the Washington Post, “We have no idea where this came from, and certainly cannot credit anything that Rudy Giuliani provided to the NY Post.” So no, that dog don’t hunt.

What about the suggestion that since the laptop has been in FBI custody since late 2019, there was no way for Russia to “GET AHOLD OF IT“? It would indeed be difficult for Russians (or anybody else) to get access to a hard drive stored in an FBI evidence facility. It would, though, be relatively easy for Russians (or anybody else) to load disinformation onto the drives of three laptops and deliver them to a strip mall computer repair shop in Delaware run by a legally blind Trump supporter and claim they were the property of Hunter Biden (who, by the way, lived in California at the time, which makes it improbable that he’d fly to his daddy’s home state to get his computers repaired). So no, that dog don’t hunt either.

Well, how about the claim that Hunter Biden “HAS A PEDO PROBLEM“? This nasty bit of bullshit was launched by a photo printed in the NY Post article. It shows the front of a subpoena form that doesn’t list a recipient or identify anything the recipient is required to produce. However, there appears to be writing on the back of the form which has bled through to the front (in reverse, of course), and includes a signature that could be that of FBI Special Agent Joshua Wilson, who has worked on child pornography cases. There’s literally nothing on the form to indicate the subpoena was for Hunter Biden, or that it involved a laptop, or that child porn is involved. So no, that dog don’t hunt and is probably asleep on the porch.

One of many dogs that just don’t hunt.

So what about the fact that Tucker Carlson “verified it”? Let’s just remind folks that a federal judge just dismissed a slander lawsuit against Carlson after agreeing with Carlson’s own lawyers that “given Mr. Carlson’s reputation, any reasonable viewer ‘arrive[s] with an appropriate amount of skepticism’ about the statement he makes.” In other words, Carlson’s employer, FOX News, admits that he is full of shit and can’t be relied on as a fact witness. In fact, the Biden laptop ‘scandal’ was so thin that FOX News refused to report it as news. That didn’t stop FOX commentators (like Tucker Carlson) from talking about it incessantly, of course. But it’s worth noting that even Breitbart, a normally reliable engine for lunatic right-wing conspiracy theories, was skeptical about the story. So no, that dog don’t hunt and it may not even be a dog.

DNI John Ratcliffe momentarily not kissing Trump’s pale plump ass.

But hey, Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe…what about his claim that the laptop in question “is not part of some Russian disinformation campaign“? If you can’t trust the DNI, then who can you trust? Sadly, you really can’t trust the DNI IF the DNI is John Ratcliffe.

Let’s first acknowledge that Ratcliffe, a notorious Trump ass-kisser, is Trump’s fourth DNI in just under four years. Let’s also acknowledge that the first time Trump nominated Ratcliffe to be DNI (after Trump forced DNI Dan Coats to resign after Coats agreed that Russia implemented a disinformation op to help elect Donald Trump in 2016), the nomination had to be withdrawn because even Trump supporters in the Senate felt Ratcliffe wasn’t qualified and couldn’t be trusted not to politicize intelligence issues. In the interim, there were two other DNIs; Joseph Maguire, who was fired for briefing the House Intelligence Committee that Russia had interfered in the 2016 election to help Trump and was planning on doing it again in 2020, and Richard Grenell, a Trump supporter without any intelligence experience who also couldn’t be confirmed by the Senate. After Grenell, the Senate confirmed Ratcliffe as DNI on a party line vote (because at that point the GOP had basically given up any hope of checking Trump). Although he’s only been DNI for five months, Ratcliffe has routinely violated norms by mining and declassifying material (mostly dealing with Hunter Biden and Ukraine) that might help Trump’s re-election campaign.

The CIA’s assessment of the laptop ‘scandal’ is that it’s likely a dezinformatsiya operation “probably directed” by Putin and his top aides, implemented by Russian asset Andrii Derkach in Ukraine, with the presumably unwitting assistance of Rudy Giuliani (is Rudy really that stupid? Maybe.). More than fifty former senior intelligence officials–including former Trump administration officials–have signed a letter stating the laptop ‘scandal’ “has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.” The FBI, which has custody of the laptop hard drive, has reportedly opened an investigation to determine if this is a Russian disinformation operation.

So no, the Ratcliffe dog don’t hunt, and isn’t a dog, or even a mammal. It’s more of a slime mold–a eukaryotic organism not known for hunting.

But I’ve got a shiny new nickle that says during tomorrow night’s debate, Comrade Trump will repeatedly accuse Joe Biden’s son of being corrupt and possibly a pedophile on national television. That in itself is reason enough to vote him out of office.

october surprise

Originally, a ‘surprise’ was an unexpected attack. It comes from the Latin sur meaning ‘over’ or ‘above’ and prendre meaning ‘to grasp or seize’. A surprise party, originally, was a stealth military detachment that ambushed the enemy.

The political phrase ‘October Surprise’ has a vaguely weird history. It grew out of the 1980 election between President Jimmy Carter and his challenger, Ronald Reagan. It appears to have been coined by William Casey, Reagan’s campaign manager (and a former OSS officer who, after Reagan was elected, became the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency). Casey was concerned that Carter was secretly arranging the release of 52 American hostages held by Iranian revolutionaries, and would announce the deal just before the November election. ‘October Surprise’ has also been used to describe an alleged secret deal between Iran and Reagan operatives to prevent the release of those hostages until after Reagan won the election and was inaugurated (and, in fact, Iran announced the release of the hostages literally minutes after Reagan’s inaugural speech).

Almost every election since 1980 has included some sort of October Surprise —  an event designed to irreparably damage one candidate’s chances and boost the other’s. Few of them work; fewer still are actual surprises. That includes yesterday’s ham-fisted absurdist political theater. We’ve all been expecting a ‘surprise’, of course. But even given Team Trump’s reputation for bungling political schemes, this ‘surprise’ was badly managed. Comically bad.

Here’s the basic accusation as reported by the New York Post. Somebody (Hunter Biden) brought three damaged laptop computers to a Delaware computer store for repair in April of 2019. The owner of the store (unidentified in the original report) claimed to have found an email on one computer’s hard drive — an email from Vadym Pozharskyi, an adviser to the board of the Ukrainian energy company Burisma, thanking Hunter for the opportunity to meet Joe Biden, who was then Vice President. Scandal! Hunter Biden and his daddy are corrupt! Biden must be defeated in the coming election! Scandal!

John Paul Mac Isaac (This should not be taken as an indictment of men wearing kilts).

Right. Now let’s ask a few questions — the sort of questions a 14-year-old fan of cop shows on television would ask.

Who is this unidentified store owner?
— He turns out to be kilt-wearing Trump supporter John Paul Mac Isaac.

Who brought the three laptops to Mac Isaac’s shop?
— Uh…we don’t know. Mac Isaac says he has a ‘medical’ condition that prevented him from recognizing the person who brought in the laptops. Also, nobody signed any sort of repair authorization form or receipt for them. But the person allegedly said his name was Hunter Biden.

What evidence does he have to prove the laptops were brought in by Hunter Biden?
— At least one laptop had a ‘Beau Biden Foundation’ sticker on it, plus there was an email addressed to Hunter Biden on that laptop, plus there were sexually explicit images featuring Hunter Biden.

Did Hunter or anybody return to the shop to retrieve the laptops? Or called to inquire about them?
— Uh…no. After ninety days Mac Isaac said he made repeated attempts to contact Hunter Biden without success.

What did Mac Isaac do when he discovered the email?
— He contacted the FBI. No, wait…first he made a copy of the email (and apparently the sexual images) which he gave to Rudy Giuliani. No, wait…he gave the copy of the material to Rudy’s attorney, then he turned it over to the FBI. No, wait…the FBI got in touch with him about the material, then he gave it to them. Or maybe he gave it to the FBI, who later sought his help in accessing the material.

Is this the same Rudy Giuliani who has been working for a couple of years with known Russian intelligence operatives to dig up dirt on Hunter Biden to hurt Joe Biden’s election chances?
— Uh…yes, it is.

Why did Mac Isaac give the material to Rudy’s attorney before giving it to the FBI?
— Because he doesn’t trust the FBI. He seems to think maybe the FBI (possibly in conjunction with the Democratic National Committee) murdered Seth Rich (who worked for the DNC) because Rich knew ‘the truth’ about the DNC emails stolen by Russian intelligence operatives sources and provided to Roger Stone, WikiLeaks, and the Trump campaign. He also thought maybe the FBI might kill him too. So he made a copy of the material and gave it to Rudy’s attorney as insurance. He said he didn’t tell the FBI he’d made an ‘insurance’ copy, but that they would have assumed he would make such a copy to protect himself.

Why would Mac Isaac give the material to the FBI if he thought they might kill him if they knew he had the material?
— Uh…because of reasons?

What meta-data could we obtain from the email?
— Uh…none. The New York Post only had a pdf file of the email, not that actual email. So there’s no header information, no metadata. Just a picture of the alleged email.

How did the New York Post get this material?
— It was provided to the Post’s Deputy Politics Editor, Emma-Jo Morris, by Rudy’s attorney. Ms. Morris apparently became the Post’s Deputy Politics Editor yesterday, when she wrote the story. She has written three other political stories for the Post. All three were written yesterday. All three are about Hunter Biden.

What did Emma-Jo Morris do before becoming the Post’s Deputy Politics Editor yesterday?
— She booked guests for Fox News personality Sean Hannity.

Is this the ‘smoking gun’ October Surprise Republicans claim it to be?
— Nope. It’s not smoking. It’s not even a gun. It’s not a surprise. But it IS October.

This is perhaps the stupidest, worst prepared, least convincing, most desperate October Surprise ever. It’s the most embarrassingly bad disinformation op imaginable. It’s like Laurel and Hardy teamed up with the Keystone Kops to create a conspiracy theory. If the person responsible for this is in Russian intelligence, I’m going to guess he’s looking at a long drop from a high window, an acute case of cement poisoning following an incident of deceleration trauma.