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.

shitshow

Pity the transcribers who had the Herculean task of trying to accurately record what the candidates said in last night’s…last night’s what? You can’t call it a debate. CNN’s Dana Bash probably described it best. “It was a shitshow,” she said.

Before the shitshow, representatives for both candidates agreed on a set of rules: who would speak, when they would speak, how long they would speak, how long the candidates would have to respond. Both candidates agreed to those rules. Only one attempted to follow them.

Last night Comrade Trump was his own anarchist jurisdiction. He was the ‘law and order’ president who refused to follow the ‘law’ of the debate and set fire to order. The worst thing about Trump’s behavior last night wasn’t just that he was disruptive, discourteous, and dishonest (though he was), and it wasn’t just that he seemed unwilling to follow rules he’d agreed to, it wasn’t just that he seemed to think the rules didn’t apply to him. The worst part wasn’t even Trump’s refusal to denounce white supremacy. Hell, the worst part wasn’t even that he refused to say he’d accept the result of the election.

The worst part of the shitshow was that Trump seemed incapable of restraining himself. The worst part was that he appeared to lack basic self control, that he was unable to hold himself in check, that he couldn’t curb his behavior. Trump literally seemed helpless against his own infantile impulses. That’s terrifying.

To his credit (or shame) Trump did what he always wants to do. He controlled the stage, he drew all the attention to himself, he sucked all the oxygen (and intelligence) out of the room, he made everybody react to him. He didn’t do that through any sort of authority or personal charisma or a command of the subject matter. He did it by being a flaming asshole.

Biden was flummoxed, both by Trump’s antics and by Chris Wallace’s inability to hold Trump in check. Biden and Wallace were there for a debate; Trump was there to create a shitshow, to debase the process and discourage everybody from participating. Trump was there to get people to turn off their televisions and swear off politics forever. Trump was there to demoralize decent people and incite racists.

Shitshow

The winners of last night’s shitshow were Putin and the Proud Boys (yes, I know…band name or Saturday morning cartoon show). Russia has to be delighted to see how degraded US politics has become, how ineffectual our leader is, how chaotic the United States is under Trump. The Proud Boys have a new logo: Stand By. The racists were given marching orders: be prepared to take on Trump’s enemies.

There were no losers last night–only victims. The victims were decorum, civil discourse, the electoral process, the United States, democracy.

Vote. Everybody needs to vote. Don’t let anybody or anything stop you from voting.

Accompanying Music: Creedence Clearwater Revivial

Down on the corner
Out in the street
Putin and the Proud Boys are playin’
Bringing chaos and deceit.

hard put and desperate

I like Senator Chris Coons of Delaware. He’s a solid Democrat of the old school. He’s a nice guy with liberal beliefs and has, as far as I know, always tried to do the right thing. So would somebody please take him aside and slap some sense into him?

Wait. I’ll do it.

First off, Chris, those people across the aisle? They’re not your friends. Not really. They may be nice to you, they may laugh and joke with you, they may even say they agree with you, but don’t think they’re your friends. Down at the bone, they’re Trump Republicans. They may disagree with Trump, they may actually despise him, but they’re going to do what he wants. Trump Republicans support Trump, period.

Second — and Chris, I shouldn’t have to tell you this — they’re not going to respect tradition. They’re not going to respect precedent. They’ve shown you that repeatedly. What in the hell makes you think they’d start respecting those things now? What they respect is the exercise of raw political power.

And finally, because they’re not your friends and because they’re not going to respect tradition or precedent and because at this point they only respect political power, they’re not going to be persuadable. They’re just not. A few may be willing to agree that it’s wrong to rush a SCOTUS nomination through 43 days before election day (votes are actually being cast right now, for fuck’s sake), but Chris, they’re not motivated by respect or friendship; they’re motivated by the only thing they fear more than Trump: losing their election.

I hate to say this, Chris, I really do. But right now the only way to get Congressional Republicans to do what’s right is to use their own tactics against them. Do it reluctantly, but do it. Let them know that if they replace Justice Ginsburg before the election, you’re going to go Outlaw Josey Wales on their ass. Tell them that, and mean it. Follow through on it.

Don’t waste your time trying to persuade Trump Republicans. Instead, persuade your Democratic colleagues in the House to go Josey Wales with you. And let Trump and his Congressional co-conspirators know you’re willing to burn the motherfucker down.

If they hold a confirmation hearing, Democrats in the Senate and House should walk out. Walk right the fuck out, and don’t go back. When they want to pass the next continuing resolution in order to fund the government, tell them to piss up a rope. Start another round of impeachment hearings in the House. Impeach Trump again. Hell, impeach Justice Kavanaugh for lying to Congress. Launch an investigation into how Kavanaugh paid off all his debts before his confirmation hearing. Investigate the Russian bounty on troops in Afghanistan. Investigate the Trump family’s alleged financial crimes. Investigate and call witnesses and don’t do a damn thing else until the election.

I really hate to say that. I can’t think of anything more corrosive to effective governance than deliberate sabotage by one political party. But that’s just it. That’s exactly what Republicans have done since Obama was elected. If Democrats win in the 2020 election — if they take the White House and the Senate — then we can try to return to some sort of normal governance. If Democrats lose — if Trump remains in office — then normal governance will be dead. It’ll be four more years of fighting a losing battle against authoritarianism.

The Josey Wales Way is a lousy way to run a government, even for 43 days. But as Granny Hawking said, Josey Wales was “a hard put and desperate man” and that’s where we are as Democrats. Against the blatant power grab of a hurried SCOTUS nomination, J. Wales might be the best chance we have. Because things are looking bad, and “when things look bad and it looks like you’re not gonna make it, then you gotta get mean. I mean plumb, mad-dog mean. ‘Cause if you lose your head and you give up then you neither live nor win. That’s just the way it is.”

EDITORIAL NOTE: I don’t know if I’ll feel this way tomorrow. But this is how I feel today. Republican hypocrisy and double dealing will only get worse if we try to play by normal rules.

a constant cascade of calamities and coincidence

The thing about Comrade Trump and his Constant Cascade of Calamities is that they come at us so fast that we don’t have time to process any given scandal because there are two or three other scandals slamming into us. Not only that, but we have scandals nestled inside of other scandals like Russian matryoshka dolls. The result is we exist in a perpetual state of calamity-shock.

What? It’s a coincidence. Could happen to anybody.

Here’s an example. Last week we learned that Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Chad Wolf…okay, wait. According to the Government Accountability Office, Wolf was not a legitimate Acting Sec. DHS. Why? Because his predecessor, Kevin McAleenan was not legitimately appointed as Acting Sec. DHS. Why? Because his predecessor, Kirstjen Nielsen, bungled the paperwork attempting to change the rules governing temporary appointments to ensure McAleenan (Trump’s pick for the gig) would get the Acting position. BUT even if Wolf had been legally appointed to the Acting position, he’d still be invalid since he was appointed under the Vacancies Act, which clearly states an Acting secretary can only serve for 210 days from when the position was made vacant, and Wolf has been doing the job for more than 250 days. Two weeks ago Trump said he’d officially nominate Wolf for the Sec. DHS position — but he hasn’t actually done it.

Okay, so last week we learned Chad Wolf had personally blocked publication of an unclassified DHS memo reporting that “Russian malign influence actors” would be trying to interfere with the US election by “denigrating presidential candidates through allegations of poor mental or physical health.” This, of course, just happens to be one of Trump’s primary arguments against Biden. But it’s probably just a coincidence that Trump’s DHS chief buried a memo that showed Trump was using a campaign attack also being used by Russian intelligence agencies.

What? Shit happens, what’s a guy to do?

But wait. Last week another unclassified DHS memo was leaked to the news media. That memo reported that in March “Russian malign influence actors” began “spreading disinformation” about the absentee and mail-in voting system. The memo stated “Russian state media and proxy websites…criticized the integrity of expanded and universal vote-by-mail, claiming ineligible voters could receive ballots due to out-of-date voter rolls, leaving a vast amount of ballots unaccounted for and vulnerable to tampering.” The Russian proxy websites also claimed “vote-by-mail processes would overburden the U.S. Postal Service…delaying vote tabulation and creating more opportunities for fraud and error.”

And hey, guess what. Comrade Trump has also been attacking the integrity of voting by mail, saying it increased the potential for fraud and would overburden the USPS. Another shocking coincidence between the Trump campaign and Russian intelligence agencies.

What? How should I know? These things happen.

Speaking of coincidences (and the Constant Cascade of Calamities), Louis DeJoy, Trump’s hand-picked Postmaster General, has made significant structural changes to the US Postal Service, which…okay, wait. It needs to be said that DeJoy was supposed to divest himself of financial conflicts of interest before accepting the Postmaster General gig. But he apparently still retains a stake in XPO Logistics, which has charged USPS about US$14 million in the past 10 weeks for managing transportation and providing support during peak times. It also appears that DeJoy became influential in GOP circles (and therefore a candidate for positions in the Trump administration) by urging his employees to donate to Republicans and attend political fundraisers at his home, then manipulating the company’s finance and payroll systems to give ‘bonus payments’ to employees who donated to help reimburse the cost — which is what folks in the law enforcement biz call “a crime”. DeJoy is being investigated for this now.

Anyway, DeJoy implemented significant structural changes to the US Postal Service which has resulted in delays in mail delivery. Which, coincidentally, is exactly what Trump AND Russian intelligence malign influence actors said would happen.

A suspicious person might think all these coincidences aren’t all that coincidental.

What? I mean, come on, what? Would I do that?

BUT — and this is the important thing — all of those nested matryoshka scandals were just one part of the larger matryoshka scandal that included the ‘Troops are suckers and losers’ scandal and the 190,000 Covid-19 deaths scandal and the roughly 29 million people unemployed scandal and the Trump advising voters in North Carolina to vote twice scandal and the withholding of funds to ‘anarchist jurisdictions’ scandal and the fake camera store owner in Kenosha scandal and the ‘planeload of Antifa’ scandal and the scandal about the 600 loans totaling $100 million of the Paycheck Protection Program that went to companies that are barred or suspended from doing business with the federal government. And those are just the scandals I can remember. You know, from the last week.

It’s been like this for nearly four fucking years. The Trump Administration has been beating the American public senseless with their coincidental Constant Cascade of Calamities. And he promises, if re-elected, to keep it up for four more years. At least. MAGA, and all that.

suckers, losers; it’s a mug’s game

Oh, come on, was anybody really shocked? Comrade Trump thinks people who join the military are suckers and losers — is that actually a surprise? Since the day he stepped into the Oval Office, Trump has shown his disregard for the military and military culture.

It’s not just that Trump dodged the draft during Vietnam; lots of rich white kids did that. I don’t hold that against him. Most draft dodgers didn’t brag about it like Trump, but that’s small beans.

No, Trump’s feelings about the military were apparent in the way he sneered at John McCain for getting ‘caught’. I mean, it doesn’t take any great skill for a fighter pilot to get shot down, but it takes character to deal with all those years as a POW. I’m okay with Trump disagreeing with McCain’s politics (I do too), and I’m okay with mocking him for being a showboat as a politician. But you don’t get to mock his suffering, especially if you’ve evaded military service yourself.

Trump’s feeling about the military was apparent in the way casually sneered at the family of Capt. Humayun Khan, who was killed during a suicide attack in Iraq. In the way he forgot the name of Sgt. La David Johnson (who was killed in an insurgent attack in Niger, and whose body was left behind) in his condolence call to the widow, in the way he said this about her husband’s death: “It’s what he signed up for.” It was apparent when his Trump Foundation publicly raised money for a veterans group but failed to failed to actually give that money to the group until the New York Attorney General began an investigation into the misappropriation of the funds. It was apparent in the way he interfered (against all protocol) in the cases of at least two soldiers accused/convicted of war crimes.

Other world leaders braved the mist to honor the dead at the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery.

And, of course, his feelings about the military were apparent in 2018 when he bailed on attending a ceremony at the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery, which holds the bodies of more than 1800 US Marines who died during the battle of Bellaeu Wood. Trump claimed the weather that day prohibited his helicopter from flying; he also said the Secret Service was reluctant to drive him the 40 miles to the cemetery for security reasons. And yet Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel were able to attend the ceremony despite the rain. So was Trump’s own Chief of Staff, John Kelly, who was driven there by his staff.

But not Trump.

Trump’s Chief of Staff John Kelly braved the mist to lay a wreath at the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery.

A year earlier, on Memorial Day in 2017. Trump accompanied Kelly, to Arlington National Cemetery, where Kelly’s son is buried. According to reports, Trump looked at the long lines of white headstones and said to Kelly, “I don’t get it. What was in it for them?”

And there it is. That comment is perfectly on-brand for Trump, and it explains his feelings about military service. Trump views the world in purely transactional terms; he sees every interaction (at least with those outside his family) as a negotiation, an exchange in which somebody gains and somebody loses. Every interaction — what’s in it for me, what’s in it for them, and what do I need to do to come out on top?

If that is, in fact, Trump’s worldview (and I see no reason to doubt it), then of course he’d see the troops as suckers, as losers. There’s no tangible profit in serving in the military. You can make a fortune selling stuff to the military, but putting on a uniform? Following orders that could get you killed, and for a ridiculously low salary? That’s a mug’s game.

Me, I’m a mug. So were both my brothers. So was my father and many of my uncles. I don’t like playing the patriot card, but we’ve paid our dues. Which is something nobody named Trump has ever done.

EDITORIAL NOTE: We’ve got less than 60 days to the election. Do your duty. Vote. Vote early. Vote, but just vote ONCE.

use your words

You’ve probably seen the video. If not, I’ve included it below. A young man dressed in black, wearing a helmet, is seized by a pair of anonymous armed men dressed in camouflaged tactical gear, loaded into a civilian rental van, and driven away. On the surface, it looks like some sort of paramilitary abduction.

According to the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security (and here’s another thing (with Comrade Trump in office, there’s always another thing) we’ve had an ‘acting’ DHS secretary since April 10, 2019; in his three and a half years as POTUS, Trump has had two confirmed DHS secretaries and three ‘acting’ secretaries) those uniformed men were federal officers employed by US Border Patrol. The official explanation for the events in the video is that the young man “was in a crowd in an area in which an individual was aiming a laser at the eyes of officers.”

Got that? They admit this kid wasn’t actually pointing a laser at anybody; he was just in the area in which somebody was pointing a laser at officers. That’s NOT probable cause to detain somebody. The law is pretty clear about this; you can’t arrest/detain somebody without probable cause.

The official explanation for putting this kid in a van and driving him away is that it was done for safety reasons. “[A]s they approached him they noticed that coming in their direction were other demonstrators who were coming to see what was going on and they wanted to go help so they asked the individual to please get in the van.” That’s a lie. Watch the video again. You’ll notice there are no other ‘demonstrators’ in the vicinity. And as far as I can tell, the officers don’t speak to the kid at all, let alone politely ask him to get in the van.

Wall of Moms. What are you doing? Use your words. “Hands up, please don’t shoot me.”

We do, though, hear the person making the video ask the officers who they are and what they’re doing. And she tells them, “Use your words. What are you doing? Use your words.” That’s a phrase made popular by parenting magazines a few years ago. It’s used to get children who are acting out to clearly express what they’re trying to do. It’s used to make them explain their behavior, and to see if they understand whether or not that behavior will be effective in achieving their goal.

What are you doing? Use your words. What are these federal officers really trying to do? Do they understand if their actions are effective in achieving their goal? The goal of detaining this kid, clearly, wasn’t to protect federal buildings. The goal appears to be intimidation. The goal appears to be to allow Trump, to use his phrase, “to dominate the streets.” The goal appears to be to produce content for Trump 2020 presidential adverts. Is the behavior effective in achieving Trump’s goal? Maybe. Just last month, he stated:

“If a city or a state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them.”

This isn’t the US military, but they look like it. And the appearance of toughness is what Trump wants for his presidential campaign.

What are you doing? Use your words. The amazing Wall of Moms sing, “Hands up, please don’t shoot me.” What are these moms really trying to do? Do they understand if their behavior is effective to achieving their goal? The goal appears to be discouraging police violence. Is their behavior effective? Yes, I think so. Even if they fail in the short run, they’re showing the sincerity of their resistance.

Sometimes all we’ve got to resist with is our words and our bodies. One sign carried by a woman in the Wall of Moms read, “I am so disappointed in you.” The maternal tone is perfect. We are so very disappointed.

I’m going to go all literary for a moment, so I’ll apologize in advance. Sorry. But as I was looking at photos and videos of the Wall of Moms, I kept think of some lines T.S. Eliot wrote in an unfinished verse drama.

I gotta use words when I talk to you
But if you understand or if you dont
That’s nothing to me and nothing to you
We all gotta do what we gotta do
We’re gona sit here and drink this booze
We’re gona sit here and have a tune
We’re gona stay and we’re gona go
And somebody’s gotta pay the rent.

What are you doing? Use your words. I gotta use words when I talk to you. Somebody’s always got to pay the rent. Right now, that rent is being paid by the young folks in Portland, with makeshift shields and umbrellas. It’s being paid by young dads, using leaf blowers to disperse tear gas. It’s being paid by the women wearing bicycle helmets, standing bravely in the Wall of Moms.