Two semi-related things. First, I have a new bike (about which I will almost certainly write, because that’s the sort of thing I do), but I’ve also been uncharacteristically busy, so unable to ride it as much I’d like. I’ve done a few short jaunts around the area, but that’s it.
Second, over the last couple of years, I’ve developed a habit of stopping when I see bike path graffiti. Sometimes the graffito is chalk art, sometimes it’s bits of philosophy, sometimes it’s a sort of editorial opinion. Regardless of what it is, the notion that somebody has deliberately made their way down a bike path and stopped to express themselves pleases me. I keep telling myself I should start photographing all those graffiti; it might make an interesting project.
So last Thursday, when I took a short ride, and saw some bike path graffiti, I did just that. Stopped, read it, photographed it, then went on my way. I didn’t pay a lot of attention to the graffito itself since a) my mind was largely occupied by what I’d been working on before I went for a ride and b) a word in the graffito had been smudged out.
It wasn’t until later, when I actually looked at the photo, that I tried to figure out what the smudged word was…and why it had been smudged out.
The [blank] never happened… but it should have!!!
Google Lens has an image-to-text application, so I tried that first. It suggested The halogen never happened, which didn’t make a lick of sense.
I tried to think of things that should have happened but didn’t. Because a lot of bike path graffiti deals with either matters of the heart (you know, stuff like Chad hearts Becky) or inspirational comments (like ‘Life is Good’), I initially focused on words that would make the phrase sweet or celebratory. The first smudged letter seems to be a ‘b’ or an ‘h’. Boyfriend…no. Backstory…no. Bahamas…maybe? The Bahamas never happened, but it should have. Possible.
Then I just tried to find words that would fit. Hangover…possibly, if the writer was into self-punishment. Harlequin…unlikely. Horseplay…don’t think so. Hologram…probably not. Holo…oh, fuck.
Holocaust? The last smudged letters COULD be and ‘s’ and a ‘t’. And Iowa has increasingly become a Red-MAGA state. Our governor and legislature have been actively encouraging and passing more hateful, authoritarian policies. So this sort of irrational hate is very possible. It doesn’t matter that Jews make up less than 1% of Iowa’s population; antisemitism is never based on reality.
As much as I hate to say it…or even think it…holocaust seems to fit.
In the first photograph, you can see there’s another graffito just a few feet away. One word, maybe one short line. I didn’t even stop to look at it. Again, my mind was largely elsewhere when I stopped. But tomorrow, weather permitting, I’ll get back on the bike and ride this path again to see what it says. Maybe it’ll add some clarity.
I’m really hoping somebody can decipher that smudged word in a more positive way. But even if there IS a better interpretation, I’m disheartened by the fact that my worst-case rendering seems so very possible.
EDITORIAL NOTE: We must burn the patriarchy. Burn it to the ground, gather the ashes, piss on them, douse them in oil and set them on fire again. Burn the patriarchy, then drive a stake directly through the ashes where its heart used to be, and then set fire to the stake. Burn the fucker one more time. And keep burning it, over and over. Burn it for generations. Then nuke it from orbit. Then have tea.
Also? Include antisemitism.
ADDENDUM: I went back yesterday to look at the other graffito. It’s also been smudged, which leads me to assume it was equally ugly. I can’t make out the word, though it seems to start with ‘JE’. Here it is:
I didn’t watch the Trump Show on CNN last night. The notion that any serious news channel would give Comrade Trump a national platform to speak was ridiculous and offensive. I understand CNN’s desire to draw viewers; viewers draw advertising and advertising pays the bills. I get it. But to sacrifice journalistic integrity in order to…wait. Who am I kidding? Journalistic integrity? CNN started sacrificing that when it saw Fox News making serious coin by openly prostituting itself.
So no, I didn’t watch CNN last night. That said, I will admit to being curious about it, especially when I learned Kaitlan Collins would be given the job. She always seemed like a solid reporter. I mean, nobody would be able to stop Trump from his firehose lying, but maybe Collins would find some journalistic equivalent of a whip and a chair, and keep Trump partially at bay. It seemed unlikely, but not entirely out of the realm of possibility.
Reader, I was wrong.
This morning I’ve watched a few clips of that horrorshow. And Jesus suffering fuck, it was like that scene in Aliens when the xenomorphs are shredding the Colonial Marines. Kaitlan Collins tried her best, but she was overrun. Not just by Trump’s lies, but by the audience as well.
Since it was a supposed ‘town hall’ affair, I assumed there’d be a live audience. It never occurred to me that CNN — or any actual news organization — could be so massively stupid as to gather an audience “[c]omprised of Republicans and otherwise undeclared voters planning to participate in the 2024 GOP primary.” In other words, they invited a Trump-friendly crowd.
Let me just say that again. CNN voluntarily and knowingly held a ‘town hall’ meeting in New Hampshire, the most conservative state in New England (I mean, their goddamn motto is “Live free or die”), hosting the only twice-impeached POTUS in history — a man who fomented an actual insurrection in an attempt to illegally remain in office — the day after he’d been found liable for sexual assault, and then invited an audience of his followers to attend.
That is deeply stupid. That is stupid all the way down at the cellular level. CNN basically asked Kaitlan Collins to interview a great white shark in a pool of sharks and then spooned in chum. They fucking ate her alive.
At one point, Trump turned to Collins and called her a “nasty person.” And the audience laughed. Laughed and applauded. All I could think about was Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who testified under oath about being sexually assaulted by Trump’s SCOTUS nominee, Brett Kavanaugh. When asked why she was so confident about her memory of the assault, Ford said:
“Indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter. The uproarious laughter between the two, and their having fun at my expense.”
Emotional trauma is literally encoded on memory. The levels of norepinephrine and epinephrine in the brain sparked by the trauma sort of tattoo that experience onto the hippocampus — the part of the limbic system that consolidates information from short-term memory to long-term memory. Beyond the physical trauma of the assault, it was the casual, unthinking cruelty of the laughter that seared itself on Dr. Ford’s memory.
Cruel laughter. Trump called a respected television journalist a “nasty person” and his supporters cheered and laughed. It was exactly what they wanted. It’s what CNN gave them.
I was not surprised by Trump’s behavior last night; that’s who he is (and CNN had to know that). I’m shocked, but not surprised by the behavior of the audience; that’s who Trump supporters are (and CNN had to know that). But I am surprised and outraged that CNN, knowing who they were dealing with, deliberately brought those two explosive elements together and allowed them to detonate on a nation audience.
“The truth matters.” That’s from Justin Nelson, one of the attorneys representing Dominion Voting Systems. “Lies have consequences,” Nelson said. “Today represents a ringing endorsement for truth and for democracy,” according to that same Nelson.
Yeah, that’s mostly bullshit.
Yes, the truth matters. Can’t find any reason to disagree with that. And yes, lies have consequences. But Dominion’s agreement to settle the case just reinforces the ugly truth that if you can afford the consequence, you get to keep right on lying. That’s the truth that matters.
A ringing endorsement for truth and democracy? Nope. A ringing endorsement for taking the cash and running. A ringing endorsement for selling out democracy. A ringing endorsement for the belief that heavy pockets are more important than representative democracy. A ringing endorsement for the very worst aspects of capitalism.
The ONLY thing that actually happened yesterday was shifting a fuck-ton of money from one corporation to another. That’s it. Fox News may have to fork over a massive amount of cash to Dominion, but they still get to stay in the business of lying and undermining democracy. Dominion gets a big payday. The American people get…well, Fox News.
It’s true that the lawyers for Dominion Voting Systems represented the interests of DVS and not the interest of representative democracy. They had absolutely no legal or ethical obligation to defend the US against growing fascism and the normalization of lying. I wouldn’t be so bitter about this decision if they’d just be honest about it. Admit they settled for a gigantic wad of cash; don’t try to pass this settlement off as an endorsement of democracy. Because that’s as big a lie as any told by Fox News.
This is how democracy dies. Not in darkness, but right out in broad fucking daylight while corporations smile and shake each other’s hand.
I’m something of a news junkie. Every morning, first thing, I read the news (well, among the first things–I mean, there’s coffee to be made and all that). I want to know what’s happening in the world. And that brings me to Filipino journalist Maria Ressa, who said this:
“If you don’t have facts, you can’t have truth. If you don’t have truth, you can’t have trust. Without these three, we have no shared reality. We can’t solve any problems. We have no democracy.”
This is pretty basic stuff. A society ought to be able to trust news journalists to present reliable facts. Beyond that, we ought to be able to trust news commentators to present opinions they actually hold. We should be able to assume that any person employed to present facts or opinions are NOT LYING.
And that brings me to this: tomorrow is the first day of the trial in the defamation lawsuit brought against Fox News by Dominion Voting Systems. Dominion is suing Fox News for allowing its commentators to tell lies about them. This is a big deal.
Look, we all know Fox News is bullshit. We all know the evening commentators act as the propaganda arm of the Republican Party. We all know Fox News ‘personalities’ like Maria Bartiromo, Tucker Carlson, Lou Dobbs, Jeanine Piro, and Sean Hannity aren’t journalists; Fox lawyers have admitted as much in court. But this case isn’t really about journalism. It’s about defamation.
Defamation is false information that harms the reputation of a person, business, or organization. Fox News commentators spent a big chunk of time after the 2020 election claiming that Dominion Voting Systems 1) was deeply involved in election fraud, 2) had developed an algorithm that somehow rigged vote counts, 3) was owned by a company founded in Venezuela to rig elections (for socialist dictator Hugo Chávez–seriously, I’m NOT making that up), and also 4) paid kickbacks to government officials.
Guess what? That was all bullshit. Also guess what? The people spreading that bullshit KNEW it was bullshit when they spread it. The judge in the case, Eric M. Davis, in pre-trial hearings, has already stated that those claims were all total bullshit (although, to be fair, he didn’t actually use the term ‘bullshit’). He wrote that it was “crystal clear that none of the statements relating to Dominion about the 2020 election are true.”
But wait, there’s more. Because it’s all bullshit, Judge Davis has also ruled that Fox News can’t argue their ‘contributors’ were simply covering the news (because bullshit ain’t legit news). He further ruled that Fox can’t argue the bullshit could be considered the First Amendment-protected opinions, because there’s plenty of pre-trial evidence demonstrating the hosts KNEW it was bullshit and they didn’t believe it themselves.
So cased closed, right? Fox News loses, right? Dominion wins, right?
Well, yes and no. The jury will have to listen to all the dreary facts; they’ll have to listen to the Fox News commentators testify under oath that they knew they were lying to their viewers (and reader, that testimony is going to be as sweet as Tupelo honey). And THEN the real meat of the case will be presented.
Just to be clear, let me say this again: there’s NO QUESTION that the Fox News commentators were lying sacks of shit. That’s not even at issue. What’s at issue is this: Damages. The jury has to decide if Fox News, by lying and spreading bullshit about Dominion Voting Systems, caused severe damage to the company’s reputation. IF they find Dominion was damaged, then the jury has to decide whether the damage was the result of actual malice.
Actual malice is a legal term of art. Back in 1964, in the case of New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, SCOTUS defined actual malice as a statement made “with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not.” That matters because this is where it all comes down to money.
There are two types of civil damages: compensatory and punitive. Compensatory damages are intended to help the victim; punitive damages, obviously, are intended to punish the offender.
Assuming the jury finds Fox News liable (which ought to be a safe assumption, but you never know when a jury is involved), they’ll first have to decide how much Fox should pay Dominion to compensate for the damage to their business. Then they’ll have to decide if Fox News should be punished financially for deliberately spreading bullshit to the public, and if so, how much.
And that brings us back once again to Maria Ressa. Because Fox News wasn’t just harming Dominion Voting Systems; they were–and still are–harming representative democracy. They’re harming this entire nation. If you don’t have facts, you can’t have truth. If you don’t have truth, you can’t have trust. If you lack trust and truth and facts, you can’t solve society’s problems and you can’t have representative democracy. If you allow a major media platform to deliberately and knowingly spread lies and bullshit to a wide audience, you shred the fabric of society.
And that’s really hard to mend. Compensation for the damage done isn’t enough; punishment is necessary.
Billy B. Yeats wrote the poem in 1919, just months after the end of World War One, the bloodiest and most technologically advanced war ever fought. His young wife, Georgie Hyde-Lees, pregnant with their first child, had almost died from the global flu pandemic of 1918-1919 and was still recovering. Twenty million people died in that war, twenty-one million during the pandemic. And the Irish War of Independence was just beginning.
Turning and turning in the widening gyre The falcon cannot hear the falconer
Falcons hunt at the command of the falconer. It’s not just that the falcon has slipped free of that control, it’s not just that the falcon isn’t listening to the falconer; he can’t even hear the voice of control anymore. Control no longer exists.
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere The ceremony of innocence is drowned
To Yeats, the entire world must have seemed on the verge of combustion. Everything was blowing up around him. Nobody was in charge; there was no constraint on the horror in the world, there was no legitimate authority to curb humanity’s worst impulses. One era was coming to a bloody end; a new one was being born and nobody knew whether or not it would be monstrously worse.
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
And here we are, a century and a wink later, after another pandemic, living in a nation we hardly recognize during an era of increasing hate and horror. It feels like our world is at a horrific tipping point. Firearms have become the leading cause of death for children under 18 years of age. Not disease, not accidents, not any natural or organic issue, but a device. A tool, an implement, a thing we deliberately manufacture and freely sell almost without control. The leading cause of death among children is a mechanical apparatus, and one political party celebrates it.
The best lack all conviction, while the worst Are full of passionate intensity.
The members of the Republican Party almost universally identify themselves as Christian, and they publicly bemoan the deaths of all those thousands of children. They offer their thoughts and prayers because that’s what you do when you make a burnt sacrifice–you pray when you create a holocaust. Holocaust, from the Greek holokauston, meaning “a thing wholly burnt.” A burnt offering is the oldest form of Biblical sacrifice; a “burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the Lord,” as the King James Version has it. The sacrificed offering should be “without blemish.” Untainted, unspoiled, pure. Like children.
Guns are the rough beast. Republicans, with a “gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,” are willingly sacrificing children to it. We have the power to stop that. We have the power to, at a bare minimum, reduce the magnitude of the holocaust of children. We have the ability to minimize the butcher’s bill.
But we won’t.
The blood-dimmed tide has corrupted the water of our political and social culture. The falcon cannot hear the falconer. It will feed where it wants.
It’s Sunday, and this morning there are a LOT of quick, simplistic, really bad takes on the police murder of Tyre Nichols in Memphis. I’m actually pretty much okay with that. This is a situation that calls for immediate outrage, and that inevitably lead to quick, simplistic, bad takes. Right now, outrage first is a valid response.
The good thing about almost all of these quick, simplistic, bad takes is they do actually focus on the source of the problem: police culture. People are asking, “How did we get here?” Which is a good question. A complex question with a really complex answer. Because we’re talking about the intersection of multiple areas of concern.
I’m going to talk about four of them: 1) The wrong sorts of people are joining the police, and they’re joining for the wrong reasons. 2) Police officers are trained to assume guilt and danger. 3) Police officers aren’t bound by a duty of care. 3) The doctrine of qualified immunity protects bad police officers and undermines community trust in the police.
The wrong sorts of people are joining the police, and they’re joining for the wrong reasons. Occupational studies suggest that until around the late 1960s and early 1970s, most of the people who joined the police did so for three pretty basic reasons. It was 1) an interesting job that offered a lot of diverse activities in a non-office/shop/factory setting, 2) it was a good union job that offered decent pay, excellent benefits, opportunities for advancement, and a reliable retirement plan, and 3) it was a way to help people and serve the community.
That last reason seems hard to believe now, but it was generally true. People joined the police because they liked the idea of helping people.
Why did that change? Lots of inter-related reasons, including the social upheaval of the late 1960s, which was the fallout from recreational drug use, the war in Vietnam, and growing alienation with consumer culture. One of the less obvious reasons was this: television.
Early cop shows (like Dragnet, Naked City, Highway Patrol, M Squad) showed police officers and detectives dutifully doing their job and–and this is key–doing it within the confines of the law. Television cops rarely lied (to suspects, to judges, to their superiors), rarely fabricated evidence, rarely threatened or intimidated people to get information, and they almost never shot anybody. They just followed the evidence and caught the bad guy.
In the 1970s, cop shows changed. The ‘rogue’ cop became fashionable. Shows like Baretta, Starsky and Hutch, Miami Vice, NYPD Blue, The Shield featured police officers–usually detectives–who bent the law to get ‘bad guys’ off the street. There were crazy-ass car chases, cops kicking in doors, cops making threats, cops harassing and intimidating bad guys (and sometimes ordinary citizens who got in the way), cops lying to get around the law, cops committing crimes to catch criminals, a LOTS of cops shooting and killing LOTS of bad guys.
The new shows were more exciting. An unintended consequence of those shows is that they attracted a different sort of police candidate. Fewer people joined because it was a good union job, more people joined because they wanted to kick in doors; fewer people joined because of the excellent benefits, more joined because they thought car chases were cool; fewer people joined because they wanted to help the community, more joined because they wanted excitement. These are NOT the qualities you want in a police force.
Police officers are trained to assume guilt and danger. The operative assumption of guilt is baked into police training. For their own protection, police officers are trained to assume the people they interact with are probably guilty of something. This keeps the officers alert, which is a good thing. It also keeps them suspicious and anxious, which isn’t. It leads officers to perceive danger where no danger actually exists. This also applies to situations as well as people. If you chase somebody into an alley or behind a house, you have to assume that every shadow could hide somebody who wants to hurt you. Being surrounded by presumably guilty people in presumably dangerous places shapes the way you see and interact with the world–and not just when you’re on duty.
Because of the proliferation of guns in the US, the operative assumption of guilt and danger is heightened. It’s more real. Police officers are more at risk now. They respond to that risk by being more aggressive and more suspicious, which leads to more resentment from the populace, which leads to more risk for the police officers, which leads to…well, you see where this is going.
Police officers aren’t bound by a duty of care. All those early cop shows? They emphasized what’s known as a duty of care. Basically, a duty of care simply means being responsible for the health, safety, and well-being of other people. There’s a legal definition of that phrase, and like all legal definitions, it’s deliberately narrow and primarily involves liability for injuries to others. You know, like if you leave a bunch of power tools lying around in a day care center where curious kids could hurt themselves or other kids. You have a legal duty of care not to do shit like that.
In many nations, policing agencies have a duty of care explicitly spelled out as part of the job. The police have a positive ethical obligation to avoid acts that could foreseeably harm others. That means putting the safety of the public before everything else, including the safety of the police officers. The public, by the way, includes people suspected or accused of crimes.
In the US, police have NO formal duty of care to protect members of the public (unless they’re in custody). Seriously, neither the Constitution, nor state law, impose a general duty upon police officers or other governmental officials to protect individuals from harm, even if they know the harm will occur. As a result, police officers often put their own safety above the safety of others. We saw that in Uvalde, Texas.
The absence of a duty of care also means police officers are more inclined to shoot early in situations, and to shoot a lot. That inclination is encouraged by the next issue.
The doctrine of qualified immunity protects bad police officers and undermines community trust in the police. Qualified immunity is a legal doctrine granting police officers (well, all government officials) immunity from civil suits UNLESS the officer violated “clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known.”
What in the popcorn fuck does that mean? It means police officers who do awful stuff are protected from civil and criminal prosecution IF 1) they can testify they believed in good faith that the awful stuff was lawful and objectively reasonable, and 2) they’re unaware of a “clearly established” law saying that specific awful stuff was illegal. Only one of those factors has to hold in order for qualified immunity to apply.
Here’s an example: back in 2014, in Coffee County, Georgia, a deputy sheriff named Michael Vickers was searching for a robbery suspect. He and other officers found the suspect, Christopher Barnett, talking to a woman in her yard. Half a dozen kids were also in the yard. The officers demanded they all get on the ground, including the kids. Everyone immediately complied. At that point, Bruce, the family dog, came into the yard to see what the fuss was. Although the dog wasn’t threatening anybody, Vickers fired at him…and missed. Bruce ran away. Moments later, Bruce returned, the way dogs do. Vickers fired at him again. And missed again. But this time the bullet struck a ten-year-old child in the leg. The kid’s family sued Vickers. The court ruled he was immune from the suit.
Why? Because 1) Vickers thought he was behaving within the limits of the law by shooting at the dog, and 2) even if shooting at an innocent dog WAS illegal, there was no “clearly established” law STATING shooting at a dog and missing, thereby accidentally shooting a kid was illegal. In fact, Vickers could theoretically shoot at another dog and miss and accidentally wound another kid and get by with it because there’s no law specifically stating that’s against the law. I’m not making this up; this is how this shit really works.
When the wrong people enter policing for the wrong reasons, and they’re taught to be suspicious and aggressive, and they’re not required to consider the safety of the people they’re sworn to protect, and they’re rarely held personally accountable for their bad behavior, you create a policing culture that encourages pre-emptive, sustained violence.
We need to change every deeply ingrained aspect of that culture. Sadly, even if the US has the commitment to do that (and I rather doubt we do), it will take time. But we can start by taking three small common sense steps. Radically modify qualified immunity (it would be better to eliminate it from policing, but you know…baby steps). Codify a duty of care into policing. Reduce police officers to a subordinate support role in mental health situations, and create more mental health response teams staffed by trained mental health professionals. It would also help to present sensible firearm legislation as being pro-police.
EDITORIAL NOTE: Obviously, race plays a huge role in police violence. Huge. Why didn’t I address that? Because lots of other folks are addressing it, and this is already a really really long blog post.
It’s the fourth day of the new Republican-controlled House of Representatives, and it’s astonishing to witness just how much stupid, horrific shit they’ve managed to spread in that short time. There’s the big, obvious stupid, horrific shit–like the stupid, horrific new House Committee on the Weaponization of Government, or the stupid, horrific way they’ve gutted the Office of Congressional Ethics just as they’re examining the Members of Congress who refused to honor the subpoenas issued by the Jan. 6 committee. But the House of MAGA has also given some attention to smaller and less obvious stupid, horrific shit.
For example, they went to the bother of changing the name of the House Committee on Education and Labor. It’s now called the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. Why, you ask, would they change ‘labor’ to ‘workforce’? Because changing the name complies with the House of MAGA’s prime directive: piss off the libs.
The Chair of the new House Committee on Education & the Workforce is Virginia Foxx of North Carolina. Rep. Foxx has a long Congressional history of being stupid and horrific. Back in 2005, she voted against the aid package for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. She claimed the murder of Matthew Shepard was “a very unfortunate incident” but not a hate crime (“We know that that young man was killed in the commitment of a robbery. It wasn’t because he was gay“). She opposed Obamacare, saying “We have more to fear from the potential of the Affordable Health Care Act passing than we do from any terrorist right now in any country.” She voted against Comrade Trump’s impeachment twice. She was one of the Members of Congress who opposed the certification of the 2020 vote. And she opposes all abortion, even in the case of rape, incest, or the health of the mother.
Rep. Foxx, in her role as Chair of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, offered an explanation for the change in name.
“‘Labor’ is an antiquated term that excludes individuals who contribute to the American workforce but aren’t classified as conventional employees. ‘Labor’ also carries a negative connotation that ignores the dignity of work; the term is something out of a Marxist textbook…. The Left prefers the term labor because it creates a sense of enmity between employees and employers which union bosses and left-wing activists seek to stoke for political gain…. Though the Left likes to treat employers like predators, we know that most job creators have their employees’ best interests in mind”
See, the ‘Left’ is only interested in workers the workforce for political gain, which is unAmerican and unpatriotic and therefore wrong. Employers, on the other hand, are only interested in financial gain, which is very American and patriotic and therefore right. Okay, maybe worker productivity rose more than 60% over the last forty years while worker workforce pay rose less than 18% (after adjusting for inflation). But hey, they’ve still got plenty of that ‘dignity of work’ to keep them happy, right? Where’s the dignity in ‘labor‘?
Also? Workforce sounds like they could be a team of Marvel superheroes. Isn’t that as good as money? Would Workforce America! ™ ask for safe working conditions? Hah!
Over the next two years we can expect to see much more stupid, horrific stuff across every scale of government. They hope we will be numbed by the barrage of stupid, horrific stuff. There’s a danger they could be right.
The buzzard told the monkey you are choking me. Release your hold and i will set you free. The monkey looked the buzzard right dead in the eye, And said your story’s so touching, but it sounds just like a lie.
Irving Mills / Nat king cole
Scenario One: President Uncle Joe Biden’s lawyers, while going through files in an office in a private policy institute Uncle Joe used in the period between being Vice President and President, come across two files that appear to be classified. They notify the Department of Justice and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), and return the documents without being asked. The Attorney General immediately appoints a prosecutor to investigate. (Edit: apparently there were ten documents, not two.)
Scenario Two: President Comrade Trump has multiple highly classified documents transferred to his home, which is shared with a public venue. Four months later, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) asks for the return of those documents. Trump returns two dozen boxes of material, including some of the classified documents. NARA informs Trump that they’re still missing some documents, and ask him to return the rest of the material he took from the White House. Seven months later, Trump returns another dozen boxes of material. A year after Trump left office, NARA informs Trump he STILL hasn’t returned all the documents. The Department of Justice is notified. Sixteen months after Trump left office, the DOJ issues a subpoena for the return of those documents. Trump claims he’s returned everything. Eighteen months after leaving office, a federal judge issues a warrant for the FBI to search and seize the still-missing documents. They find nearly 200 classified documents, including some labeled TS/SCI (which are so secret they’re only to be read in a secure room in which no cameras or recording devices are allowed). In total, around 13,000 documents Trump wasn’t allowed to take are recovered from Mar-a-Lago. The Attorney General appoints a prosecutor to investigate the matter 23 months after Trump removed the documents.
The News Media: Both Trump and Biden in possession of classified documents! Prosecutor to investigate!
This is absolute bullshit, of course. Biden and his lawyers acted properly. They discovered the two documents, notified the appropriate agencies, and acknowledged the mistake. Trump did the exact opposite. He deliberately removed thousands of documents, he and his lawyers resisted returning them, lied about them, and the FBI was forced to go to Mar-a-Lago in order to retrieve them.
Attorney General Merrick Garland delayed ordering a prosecutor to investigate Trump’s handling of classified documents for nearly two years, but immediately ordered one to investigate Biden’s handling of them. Why? To appear non-partisan. To avoid giving MAGA Republicans a reason to claim the DOJ is unfair. As if MAGA Republicans have any interest in Fact or Truth. MAGA Republicans will, of course, claim the two scenarios are exactly the same.
The only question is whether the news media will have the integrity to report this matter accurately. And sadly, I think we know the answer to that. Is there anything we can do about it?
Nope, not really. And let’s face it, there are more equally stupid but far more critical issues we’ll be dealing with in the very near future. In this on particular case, maybe we should consider the advice of Nat King Cole: “Cool down papa don’t you blow your top.”