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Friday, July 5, 2024

Raggedy Man

 


Out of the ruins
Out from the wreckage
Can't make the same mistake this time
We are the children
The last generation (the last generation, generation)
We are the ones they left behind
And, I wonder when we are ever gonna change, change


Mad Max.

The third one, I think. 

Two men enter, one man leaves, that one. The one with post apocalyptic Tina Turner -- which is mostly just regular Tina Turner, but in chainmail. Back when you could watch Mel Gibson movies without cringing. 

So, long time ago now, since that movie came out. 

But you remember. 

Anyway, despite the aforementioned Mel Gibson thing, it's still a damn good movie, if you're into Australian post nuclear war wasteland car flicks without the graphic brutality of the more recent installments. 

There's a reason I mention it. 

See, there's this one scene:

Max beat Blaster in the Thunderdome and was betrayed by his erstwhile allies. Now the whole town is after him and he's running for his life, again. Max and the Onlies, along with their former enemy Master, have busted out of Bartertown's pig shit methane factory, blowing up half the town in the process, and they're roaring down the rails through a nuclear wasteland on this slapped-together ramshackle circus train that's half truck and half locomotive with a dash of construction shack thrown in. They've got Aunty and an army of turbocharged barbarians chasing after them, hellbent on revenge. Max throws the last of the enemy warriors off the caboose and fights his way upstream to the engine where he's clinging to the outside of the door and over the roar of the motors and the wind he shouts to a guy artfully named "Pigkiller" in the driver's seat, 

"So, what's the plan?"

"PLAN?!" Pigkiller laughs incredulously. "There ain't no plan!" 

There ain't no plan. It's just ass backwards straight towards the radioactive horizon, a whoopin and a hollerin' and hopefully Bruce Spence will show up and fly us all to safety. 

That scene has stuck with me over the years and I find it's a useful metaphor far more often than you would think.

You know where I'm going with this, don't you? 

Sure you do. 

So, what's the plan? 

Here we are, hanging on for dear life, barbarians in hot pursuit, rolling ass backward through the apocalypse in a circus train full of howling mutants, and you're like, hey, let's shoot the engineer! 

Yeah, let's just shoot the guy driving the train. Good idea, right? 

So, tell me, what's the plan?

What's the plan after we shoot the engineer and toss him over the side? 

You want Biden to step down, resign, drop out of the race, go away. 

Let's face it, Ol' Creaky Joe had a good run. Sure. No one's arguing that. But after that one debate, woo, yeah, he's just dragging us down. Dead weight, man. We gotta dump him. Throw him off the train before the barbarian mutants catch us. 

Turns out Republicans were right. 

We can admit that, can't we? New York Times and the Wall Street Journal and Bernie Bros and Trump and the MAGAs were all right. It's Dementia Joe. He's just too damn old. And so here you are in my mentions, standing with Republicans and the Russians, calling for Biden to drop out. For the good of the nation. Of course. I mean, you're not an asshole. But, look at the guy. He needs a nap and a cup of hot cocoa. 

We gotta get out while we can and find us a new hero. 

Looking for something, we can rely on
There's gotta be something better out there
Ooh, love and compassion
Their day is coming (coming)
All else are castles built in the air

Right?

Right.

So, tell me, Pigkiller, what's your goddamn plan? 

We're barely four months and some change away from the most important election of your lifetime. And you want to dump the one guy who has managed to win every single election he's ever been in, and who beat Trump last time around? 

Yeah, yeah, I hear you. This Biden is a lot older than that Biden. Yep. I got it. I'm not arguing that. Biden is old. And tired. And he's slowing down. And maybe he's not as sharp as he used to be. Biden's in the back bedroom taking a nap while Trump is out golfing 18 holes and fucking 17-year-olds. That's all true, probably. 

But we're one Steve Bannon prison sentence out from the election and you're talking about handing Biden over to the mutants. 

I don't think I'm out of line here asking to see what you plan to do after that. 


We don't need another hero
We don't need to know the way home
All we want is life beyond Thunderdome


You all love military metaphors. Military terminology. 

This is war! you shout. We're in this fight to the end! We're ready for battle!

I've been to war. Couple times now. War was my profession, most of my life. I don't recommend it, but it worked for me. I know something about it. 

You know who wins wars? Who wins the battle? Who ends up victorious in the end?

The army with the plan, that's who. 

You can lose the general. You can lose the colonels and the captains and the lieutenants. Hopefully not all at once, but if you've got a good plan and you've got good people who can execute that plan, who can flex and improvise when needed, sergeants and foot soldiers who will stay the course, well, you can win. You will win, if you've got the courage to stay the course and hold the line. 

But you got to have a plan. 

Which is why we in the US military spend so much time and energy on planning. I know, I used to be a military war planner, amongst other things. 

We're all in this fight together you tell me. Great. What's your plan?

We dump Biden. Then what? 

Tell me how you spin up a full blown, fifty state, national campaign for an as-yet undetermined candidate in four months. Fully funded, fully staffed, organized, on the ground, on the air, on message, on target, in the ballots, in the debates, websites, pamphlets, buttons, slogans, yard signs, hats, bumper stickers, grassroots, in Trump's face and toe-to-toe. 

Show me your plan for that.

Come on, let's see it. 

Who's the candidate? Because liberals, lefties, progressives, democrats, can't even agree on what they already agree on -- see my aforementioned social media mentions for examples. 

Where is that candidate? Where is that plan? The one we all agree on and are ready to fully support? 

Because if you don't have that, and if you don't have that right fucking now, then you don't have a plan and you don't have a chance in hell.

All the children say
We don't need another hero
We don't need to know the way home
All we want is life beyond Thunderdome

Who's your candidate? Tell me. 

Kamala Harris?

Is it? And we're all agreed on that, right? There's not going to be any fighting. We're all going to fall in line behind Kamala Harris, are we? 

Heh, heh. Sure. 

I like Harris. I'd vote for her. In fact, I liked her a lot better than Biden. Biden wasn't even in my top three, back in the day. I'd to love to see a woman of color as president, though that's not the reason I'd vote for her. That said, is Harris who we all agree on? Is she?

No, of course not. 

No, we don't agree. 

No, instead we're going to argue. We're going to argue bitterly even though we don't have the time for it. And we're going to argue and argue and argue some more while Trump is out there campaigning and mocking Democrats in disarray -- and he won't be wrong. 

Some of us are not going to accept the results no matter who ends up the candidate. 

And don't tell me you will, because you won't. 

And you won't because you don't get to choose Biden's replacement. 

The primaries are over

The delegates are already pledged. 

You had your vote.  

Didn't think of that, did you? 

There's no time. There's no mechanism for a do-over primary. If we're going to replace Biden, we have to do it now and democracy just isn't fast enough, even if liberals could actually agree on anything. 

So, any replacement will perforce be selected by the party and you are not going to get any say in it.

You good with that? 

Are you really? 

Those of you still seething about the "anointment" of Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders? You're going to be good with the Democratic National Committee picking your candidate for you? Really? And the rest of you? Are you really going to be good with the party apparatus telling you who you're going to vote for in the general election? 

Don't blow smoke up my ass and call it beef jerky.

We'll lose right there. 

Some of you will be madder about that than you are about Trump taking away your rights. And you'll stay home, just like you did last time and we'll lose right there. 

Might as well just hand the keys over to King Trump and hidey ho yourself down to the nearest concentration camp. 

So, what do we do with our lives
We leave only a mark
Will our story shine like a light or end in the dark?
Give it all or nothing

And then there's the rest of it. 

The practical aspects of changing horses midstream without drowning. 

And the legal aspects. And the political ones. 

As I noted up above, there is no national campaign for any other candidate. You'll have to create one from scratch, overnight, in fifty states. It's not just a matter of changing the names, there are legal aspects to it. Campaign finance law for one. Campaign filings with the state, ballot issues, and so on. And not every campaign staffer who supports Biden is going to support the new candidate -- for whatever reason. So you're going to need to hire at least some new people. 

Where are you going to get the money? 

No. No. Don't look away. Don't roll your eyes. Where you gonna get the money? 

See, while it's possible that Biden's campaign war chest, those millions and millions of dollars, could be legally transferred to Harris, because she's already on the ticket with him, it's never been done before. There will most certainly be legal challenges -- by the Trump campaign if not various Democrats -- tying up that money for some period of time, maybe a long period of time. 

And if the candidate is not Harris, well, then that money very likely can't be transferred and a new non-Harris candidate would have raise all new money themselves. Which takes us right back to the previous paragraph: How are you going to spin up a nationwide campaign across fifty states fast enough and powerful enough to challenge Trump without any money at first and when you can't just change the names on the Biden Campaign offices? 

PACs? 

Well, about that, Political Action Committees that accept money for one candidate can't just use it for another without certain legal issues. Now, a PAC can become a multicandidate PAC, but the rules for doing so are complex and have to meet pretty specific federal and state election requirements. You think you can do that in a couple of days? Fast enough to spin up a campaign in time? Across fifty states? Well enough to avoid legal challenges? Do you really? 

Show me that plan. 

No money. No campaign.

Yes, I see you. Rolling your eyes. In the back there. 

You can wave your hands all you like, but you still have to answer the question. You still have to adhere to campaign finance law. You still have to have money to get elected. And you have to do it in such a manner that the other side, the one infamous for suing people and trying to overthrow elections, can't legally challenge you on it and de facto kill your campaign before you even start. 

You have to have a plan to address all the legal requirements. Where is it? 

States are already printing ballots and programming election equipment. It's a process. It's a long legal process and it has to be in order to prevent election fraud -- and to be able to withstand scrutiny when someone like Trump accuses the process of fraud in court. 

There may not be time to swap out candidates. 

Particularly in red states run by Trump supporters who don't want there to be time and who would love nothing better than Trump running unopposed in their state. 

There are thousands of details like this, some legal, some practical, some political.  

Some are solvable in time. 

Many are not -- even if you did have a plan, and you don't. 

Folks, we're on a runaway train, barreling through the wasteland, chased by mutants, ass backwards into the unknown. This isn't the time to throw the Engineer over the side. Yes, in this metaphor, Max was without doubt the far better driver and Pigkiller was crippled by a hole blown through his thigh. But you don't change the hand on the wheel in the middle of an escape and you need to remember that when it was all going to hell and they were neck deep in manure, it was Pigkiller who fired up the engine and got them all the hell out of bondage. No, this isn't the time to replace the Engineer. This is the time when you grit your teeth, put the hammer down all the way to the goddamn floor, cock your pistol, and ride full throttle for the horizon. 

Biden may or may not win. That's up to you. 

But you pull Biden off the ballot now, and Trump most certainly will. 

See you around, Soldier. 


And, I wonder when we are ever gonna change, change
Living under the fear, 'til nothing else remains
All the children say
We don't need another hero
We don't need to know the way home
All we want is life beyond Thunderdome

-- Tina Turner, We Don't Need Another Hero



Tuesday, July 2, 2024

The Republic Is Dead, Long Live The Republic

 

 

Poor man wanna be rich
Rich man wanna be king
And a king ain't satisfied
'till he rules everything
-- Bruce SpringsteenBadlands


Thus ends The Republic.

Hail! Mr. President.


It should never have come to this, 

But, hey, at least democracy was fun while it lasted.

I made a pithy comment. 

A couple of them actually, as is my wont. 

Well, maybe not so much pithy as bitterly sardonic observations on yesterday's Supreme Court Ruling. 

Here's one:

I'm not a lawyer, so I'm not sure how this works, but basically Biden is President For Life now, right? So, does Biden just "officially" cancel the election or do we have to break some windows and beat up cops first?

Sarcasm, right? 

Obviously a reference to January 6th, 2021 and the violent actions of the then president and his howling rabble. A reference to that president's impeachment and the legal troubles he finds himself in (for now). 

Right? Obviously. 

Meta, the platform behind Facebook, Instagram, and Threads, removed it. 


"It looks like you shared or sent something that could encourage violence and lead to risk of physical harm, or a direct threat to public safety."

I beg your pardon? I did what now? 

"This goes against our Community Guidelines on violence and incitement."

Community guidelines on violence and incitement, you say? 

I literally laughed out loud. 

Literally laughed loud enough to scare the dog out of a sound sleep. 

Hilarious. 

Absolutely fucking hilarious.

Meta removed a number of similar posts from my various timelines. And it just kept getting funnier to me. 

Funny ha ha, but also funny ironic. 

You see, Mark Zuckerberg has higher standards against incitement of violence and threats to the public safety than the Supreme Court

Mark Zuckerberg. That Mark Zuckerberg. That Facebook. That Meta. 

Hilarious.

And what's even funnier is that I've now faced more consequences for allegedly inciting violence against the Republic than Donald Trump has or ever will -- because he's now officially immune from the consequences of his own actions and I as a mere plebe of the Imperium am most assuredly not

Quod Erat Demonstrandum and Hail! Caesar. 

Somewhere right now, up there in Republican heaven, Richard Milhous Nixon is swearing bitterly and staring down in utter disbelief at those who called John Roberts a "moderate conservative."

And, yeah, while that's probably hyperbole, the truth of the matter is the Roberts Court would have let Tricky Dick get away with it. 

And the really ironic part here is that this Republican Supreme Court hasn't just sounded the death knell of The Republic by making the president Caesar, immune from the law and from the consequences of his own actions, but the Court has effectively killed itself

I mean, what's the point of a Legislative or Judicial Branch when the Executive has unlimited power and absolute immunity?

The checks and balances of the American government are now effectively null and void, because with absolute executive immunity comes absolute immunity from both the Court and from Congress. 

And that's exactly what this ruling does. 


But then again, what would you expect from a Court that has no enforceable ethical code of conduct and refuses to even consider one? 


The majority opinion, penned by Roberts himself alleges the founders of this country, the Framers of the Constitution, those men who'd just fought a bloody war of rebellion to free themselves from a monarch utterly immune from accountability and the law, actually envisioned an Executive who would likewise be immune from the law and accountability but is also somehow not a king. 

Ur?

Never mind, he's rollin'

The opinion uses words like “vigorous,” “energetic," "decisive," and "speedy execution” of the president's duty to "faithfully execute" the law -- something the president has been able to do for 248 years, through multiple wars and myriad national emergencies, somehow without having absolute immunity. 

But today in this new age, apparently the law cannot be executed vigorously, energetically, decisively, or in a speedy fashion if the president actually has to obey the law he's "faithfully" executing. 

Explain to me how the guy charged with enforcing the law should be immune from it. 

Explain it to me like I'm not a lawyer. Go ahead. 

Why does this only apply to Presidents? Why shouldn't attorney generals be likewise immune from the law, or the police, or Supreme Court Justices ... okay, those are bad examples but I think I've made my point here. 

The President must have “absolute immunity” for any “official act within his exclusive sphere of constitutional authority," reasons the Chief Justice.

Now, again, I'm not a lawyer, but I noticed that the Chief Justice and his conservative Trump-appointed coconspirators on the Court didn't bother to define "official acts." That seems a strange omission, doesn't it? If they didn't define official acts, who does? The president? And Republicans don't see this as problematic?

But of course they wouldn't, would they? 

But wait, there's more. 

The opinion also offers up something called “presumptive immunity.” 

Now, you'd think "absolute immunity" would cover it. If you have absolute immunity, how much more immunity do you need? That's pretty much what "absolute" means, isn't it?

Ha ha. No. 

According to John Roberts, the President also gets "presumptive immunity" for any action that falls outside his "official" duties, but within “the outer perimeter of his official responsibility.” 

So there's official official and then there's also some other sort of official that's less official but also still official. 

See? That's why I'm not a lawyer. 

Anyway, this presidenting gig sounds like good work if you can get it. 

As in the above decision regarding absolute immunity for official acts, the court doesn't provide any definition of "outer perimeter of official responsibility" or what non-official official duties might fall into it. 

Confused? 

It gets better, because Roberts goes on to say that this presumptive immunity for acts taken in the outer perimeter of officialdom might actually be absolute immunity after all, but “we need not decide that question today.” 

So, we've determined there are official acts that get absolute immunity and there are less official acts that get presumptive immunity, but those less official acts might actually be official acts and entitled to absolute immunity instead of presumptive immunity but we don't have to actually spell out what any of those acts actually are today because something something gazpacho and the lower courts will just figure it out. Probably.


I'll pause for a minute so you can wipe at the blood which is no doubt running from you ear about now. 


Unofficial acts, says Roberts, are not entitled to immunity, presumptive or absolute. 

Oh, well, that's good. 

We can hold the President accountable for unofficial acts. 

Unofficial acts.

Unofficial. 

The president can be held accountable for unofficial acts.

Heh heh. Riiiight

When the president does it, that means it is not illegal!
-- Richard Nixon, 1977

Guess what? Turns out, Nixon was right. 

If absolute immunity is only for official acts, then immunity is always going to be absolute because you can bet that when the president does it, whatever it is, it's always -- always -- going to be "official."

Bet on it. 

You know why? Because the same court who made this decision, will make that one too. 

And thus, the president can't be indicted and he can't be impeached. 

There is no longer any Constitutional or governmental method of restraining a president. 

And there is now no accountability to the American people whatsoever, not even voting if a president choses to "officially" ignore an unfavorable election and order his VP to change the results. That is exactly what the Supreme Court just said. This is quite literally the crux of this entire argument. That's what started all of this, a president who refused to accept the results of the election and who attempted to nullify those results through violence in order to seize power. Those are now official acts and immune from the law. 

Up above I said I'd made a number of comments on social media that were later removed. 

Here's another one:

When they line us up in front of that ditch they made us dig in the field outside the concentration camp gates, just before one of Supreme General Mike Flynn's Hauptsturmf├╝hrers gives the order to fire, I'll be the guy who smacks you in the back of the head and snarls "I FUCKING TOLD YOU SO."

The post got several hundred responses.

-- You won't get the chance, I won't be there. I'm going for their throats with my bare teeth when they show up to "detain me for reeducation". They're going to have to shoot in the street in front of my own house in front of everybody.

-- I won't get there. I will take a few with me first.

-- Before that happens, I'm going to take out as many of those single helix mutant pieces of shit neckbeards as possible. You're welcome to join me. I will not go quietly.

-- Im not going down without taking a few of them with me.. jfs

-- I’ll be the girl who turns around and storms the bad guys. They may kill me, but I’ll go down fighting.

There were many, many more in the same spirit, I was in the process of recording them when Threads took the post down and I lost access to the feed. 

We'll go down fighting! 

Yeah. Great. Cool. I admire your spirit. War is fun. You're gonna love it. But the thing is, we wouldn't have to die fighting -- if you all showed the same grit at the ballot box. 

Now, I'm not saying that those who shouted defiance up above didn't themselves vote. They follow me, they likely did. 

But a lot of Americans didn't. 

And they won't this time either -- despite their promise to go down fighting. 

It should never have come to this and where does that leave us? 

If the president does it, it's official. And if it's official then the president can't be impeached and he can't be indicted and he can't be convicted and he can't be held accountable to the people. He is, de facto, Caesar. 

Or Vladimir Putin. Pick you poison. 

That is literally Trump's entire argument. 

Everything he did in office is official. He can't be impeached for it, he can't be prosecuted for it, and he fully intends to do it again, until he really is Caesar, or Putin. 

And the Court said, Okay. 

I'm not a lawyer, don't take my word for it. Instead listen to what Justice Sotomayor said:

The Court effectively creates a law-free zone around the President, upsetting the status quo that has existed since the Founding. … When he uses his official powers in any way, under the majority’s reasoning, he now will be insulated from criminal prosecution. Orders the Navy’s Seal Team 6 to assassinate a political rival? Immune. Organizes a military coup to hold onto power? Immune. Takes a bribe in exchange for a pardon? Immune. Immune, immune, immune.

Let the President violate the law, let him exploit the trappings of his office for personal gain, let him use his official power for evil ends. Because if he knew that he may one day face liability for breaking the law, he might not be as bold and fearless as we would like him to be.

That is the majority’s message today. 

Even if these nightmare scenarios never play out, and I pray they never do, the damage has been done. The relationship between the President and the people he serves has shifted irrevocably. In every use of official power, the President is now a king above the law.

We probably could have avoided a lot of trouble and been much further ahead if we'd just paid our taxes, drank our tea, and knuckled under to King George III. 

If nothing else, at least we'd have universal healthcare today. 

So, where does that leave us? 

Beyond guillotines and the Second Amendment, I mean.  

November. 

That's where it leaves us. 

We have one chance to fix this without bloody war and revolution, and even that is a dicey proposition. 

I lied up above. War isn't fun. Killing people is terrible. It's dirty and it's ugly and it's fucking horrifying and if you survive you'll never ever get the smell of death out of your brain. Ever. We're out of options. You don't get the luxury of sitting this one out or throwing away your vote because you don't like the choices. And bluntly, if you don't have what it takes to show up and vote, you probably don't have what it takes to pick up a gun and fight tyranny on the battlefield either. 

It should never have come to this. 

You want want a better nation, you're going to have to be better citizens. 


With fear for our democracy, I dissent.
-- Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor