The Last of the Just

By every indication of her Facebook profile, a person who I loved very much in college and who was one of the most decent and principled people I have ever known is these days doing well for herself. She is still utterly beautiful. And I am also pleased to see that her parents are still healthy, together, and apparently very happy.

I will only mention briefly that while I was seeing this person, her mother was doing some local press and talks, discussing her experience having been a child in Europe at a certain time, having had a twin sister at that time, having felt compelled to hid with her sister under her mother’s dress as they assigned people from off the train, and she, having been so “fortunate” to have been a twin, she would spend her time through the Holocaust being studied by a mad doctor whose name you might know and might if you know it well associate it with dreadful evil, and that if you knew the stories, if you had heard her tell them as I have, you would understand the unlimited depth of the evil of the infamous Josef Mengele.

When I was in school, they would teach Holocaust every coupla years. Blah blah blah, the Jews and pictures of emaciated people and that breathtaking number, six million, 12 million, they thought they were finally going to get showers but instead they got Zyklon B. But hear someone’s Mom who you know tell the story, how when her sister succumbed and she fought back and how Mengele took to her phalanges with a hammer, hear that and know that person survived it and created a family that produced someone as astonishing and wonderful as the person I knew back in the day, and you can no longer experience the Holocaust as a brief read in your world history text from ninth grade. I read Last of the Just, I read Night, I was lectured to by Saul Friedman, I have heard Robert Clary tell his story. I still cannot comprehend this era as someone who lived through it, but I have heard the story from people who did. It is a story that reaches the core of this planet. And it is relevant and right under your nose.

And it is ridiculous that I have to write about Marjorie Taylor Greene. She is an ignorant psychopath with redneck in her pocket. There is no empathy under her hair or anywhere within her. None. Yet, he is a member of the United States Congress. This person went in front of a camera and equated House rules that continue to require masking with a Nazi policy forcing the Juden to wear a little gold star.

Oh, yes she did.

“This woman is mentally ill,” Greene said of Pelosi, D-Calif. “You know, we can look back in a time in history where people were told to wear a gold star and they were definitely treated like second-class citizens — so much so that they were put in trains and taken to gas chambers in Nazi Germany, and this is exactly the type of abuse that Nancy Pelosi is talking about.”

This is a person who is in Congress.

This country is so fucked.

Blood Libel for Fun and Profit

One strange development personally from the era of Former Preznit Carnage One-Term Loser Twice Impeached Inciter of Insurrection is that it has forced me to reassess the impeachment of President William J. Clinton.

For most of my life following that event, I had classified it as an impeachment “just for a blow job.” Living through the Carnage Era, however, has changed my thinking dramatically. I mean, it’s downright hypocritical to speculate and ponder the incredible capacity presidency 45 might have had to have been compromised without also thinking that, perhaps, a president who had an inappropriate affair with an intern and lied about it might also be considerably open to compromise.

So. While I still think there was considerable overreach by the Starr investigation—and we’re going to discuss another bit of that in a moment—I find that, in this, the Post-Carnage Era, the impeachment of President Bill Clinton doesn’t look that askew after all. I can no longer honestly spit that Clinton was impeached over a mere BJ.

Because as long as Clinton was arm-in-arm with his lie, anyone who knew about it, say, Linda Tripp, could really jack him up. Capacity for being compromised is a real danger of that office. And Clinton invited it in like it was a pretty girl. Aside from the considerable mission creep in his practice, Ken Starr may have done us a favor. It almost makes me regret wishing I had a huge spitball on me that one day when I walked past him on 18th Street that one day.

So. Marjorie Taylor Greene. Talk about a person who became a household name right quick. QAnon adherent and U.S. representative for Georgia’s 14th district. She’s said that “Q” is a “patriot.” She has said that the United States is experiencing a “Muslim invasion” because some of that faith had won national office. (For those who did not get the memo, the United States Constitution explicitly bars any religious test for holding office. Article VI. Clause 3. “…no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”) She’s said that Democrats are “trying to keep black people in a modern-day form of slavery.” She has said that if she were black, and she walked by a statue featuring a figure from the Confederacy, “I would be so proud.”

And this is just the stuff she plays on the Borscht Belt.

I read this morning that this person believes in something called “frazzledrip.” And I am not going to explain to you what that is except to tell you that it is hideous blood libel. And, as we have just gotten done observing Holocaust Remembrance Day, I do not mind that what little hair I have left is on fire that BLOOD LIBEL is what got us THE HOLOCAUST. And this country is just playing with it like it’s a paddle-ball. It is horrifying.

But this didn’t just start last week. Oh, no. These Untied States of America has been been up to its belly button in this muck for decades. Remember when I was writing about Ken Starr and that spitball I wished for?

On July 20, 1993, a man named Vince Foster was found dead in Fort Marcy Park off the George Washington Parkway in Virginia, outside Washington, D.C. If you know the parkway, you know that one could probably find some isolation on that road pretty easily. It winds around a lot, and the traffic is whizzing by and doesn’t care. Many convenient pull-offs. This tragedy quickly spun up conspiracy theories, mainly and ridiculously placing Foster’s death at the feet of Bill and Hillary Clinton.

Vince Foster was a friend of Bill Clinton’s since childhood. I cannot imagine having to face these lies on top of facing a friend’s self-inflicted end. Losing someone one cares about to suicide is incomprehensible enough on its face without having to face horrific lies implicating you as the culprit. How un-peaceful. How horribly cruel.

Starr’s predecessor Robert Fiske had included mention of Foster in his interim report, concluding that Foster had committed suicide. In fact, as a piece by Sean Wilentz reported in September 2018 in the New York Times: “Official accounts by the National Park Service in 1993 and by a Republican congressman, William Clinger, the ranking member of the House Government Affairs Committee in 1994, came to an identical conclusion, as did a bipartisan report of the Senate Banking Committee early in 1995.”

As Wilentz continues to report, there was a fellow in Starr’s office who was still interested in pursuing this lie, despite it now being rebuffed by the previous investigator, the National Park Service, and a congressional committee. Wilentz reported at the time that this fellow wanted a “‘full-fledged’ investigation of the Foster matter.”

And that fellow now sits as a United States Justice on the Supreme Court. His name is Brett Kavanaugh.

Look. I’m sure Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony held weight for many folks. But I would have preferred to hear more during those hearings about Kavanaugh’s involvement in pursuing this horrible blood libel against the Clintons.

Which gets me back to ol’ frazzledrip. A word of advice. Do not google this unless you have a strong constitution. It is a horrific scenario. I have framed for you how horrifying I find the Vince Foster lies to have been. This is worse. Much, much worse. And Marjorie Taylor Greene, who is in the United States House of Representatives, is reported to believe it is true.

This did not start with Marjorie Taylor Greene. It did not start with Brett Kavanaugh. This stuff may be as old as the dirt that grows your potatoes. And it is wicked and injuring. But of my examples here, one of its proponents is a lifetime appointment on the highest court in the land. The other is 1/435th of the power of the purse.

Why do we keep rewarding this?

The Strange One

There was so much news to digest today that I had to turn it off and go to Turner Classic Movies, where they were featuring 1957’s The Strange One. It’s about this military school student who bullies everyone around him and oversteps his bounds drastically until all of his colleagues make him sign a confession and then throw him out of town on a train. I’m serious. That’s the movie.

Does that sound exactly like today to you at all?

You know I’ve played around with my pet names for the current president a lot. Sippycup. Sharpie. Always Preznit Carnage as an honorific. But that last part has always been different because he’s always screwing up in some different or unusual way that requires a new variant. But after today, that stops. From now on, the official pet name for the current chief executive of these Untied States is:

Preznit Carnage the Incursion Inciter.

Because that’s what he did, and that’s what he did. He invited people into Washington, D.C., a place I called my residence for 14 years and one of my homes for many years before that. Background: My Dear Old Dad moved to Washington when I was like 12, so I spent much time there as a youngster, exploring anywhere I wanted on the Metro, which was actually safe and worked well at the time. Later, I moved there and had a career as a journalist and as a web-slinger for a medium-sized trade association. 14 years. And when you have that much Washington in your experience, you tend to take an attack on the Capitol PERSONALLY.

In 1989, Sen. Claude Pepper died, four days after receiving the National Medal of Freedom from Pres. George H.W. Bush. My Dad and I went to pay our respects to Claude in the Rotunda, where he lay in state. Another time, Dad and I were momentarily detained by Capitol Police as some muckety-muck from overseas walked through with his entourage. I have roots in the building. Memories. It was a visual background to much of my life and many memories. I have been in that chamber as a tourist and as a student. And I still revere that site and the democracy that those people create and nurture in it every day.

We’re going to walk down. Anyone you want, but I think right here, we’re going to walk down to the Capitol–

And we’re going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women and we’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them.

Because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong.

Preznit Carnage the Incursion Inciter invited these people to the President’s Park South, also known as the Ellipse. This is the staging area for the annual Easter Egg Roll. This is the site of the Christmas Pageant of Peace. White House garden tours start here. And this is where Donald J. Trump gathered his marauders and gave them their marching orders. This is where the bloodshed started. From here, people were eventually crushed to death, or shot, or [allegedly] tased their balls to the point of fatal stroke. From here is were many more were injured. And it could have been so much worse. When those hairy gross marauders took the chamber, they were looking for Vice-President Mike Pence.

We want to be so respectful of everybody. And we are going to have to fight much harder. And Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us, and if he doesn’t, that will be a sad day for our country. Because you’re sworn to uphold our Constitution.

Trump mentioned his own vice-president to the crowd and was throwing chum in the water. Tell me he wasn’t doing that on purpose. Tell me he wasn’t intent on harm to the man who has spent the last four years looking at the back of his head like it was a delicious cookie straight out of the oven. Those people went in looking for Mike Pence, and they said so, and I do not even want to think about the headlines had they found him.

He invited these people to Washington, D.C. He held an event for them. He spoke at that event, and he told them to go to the Capitol. Rudy Giuliani borrowed from Game of Thrones in the weirdest way, calling for “trial by combat.” He told them to go up Pennsylvania Avenue.

So we are going to–we are going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue, I love Pennsylvania Avenue, and we are going to the Capitol, and we are going to try and give–the Democrats are hopeless, they are never voting for anything, not even one vote but we are going to try–give our Republicans, the weak ones because the strong ones don’t need any of our help, we’re try–going to try and give them the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country. So let’s walk down Pennsylvania Avenue.

He told them to go, and they went. People were shot to death. People were crushed to death. People probably spread bug-loads of SARS-CoV-2. There was lots of smoke. They made our Capitol look and feel like New Caprica, after President Baltar had signed the kill orders, and the Cylon forces going on the hunt. Yes. It was that bad.

So I am buoyed by the Democrats’ plans. We’ve called for his resignation. Beyond that, we’ve called for his removal via the 25th amendment. Beyond that, we’re going to impeach. A fourth option would be to shove him in a prison cell with a fresh copy of the Washington Post and a pistol, but I reckon Ernst Röhm’s fate is too good for this eczema shit who still has the title “President” for 12 more days.

I don’t know about you. But I want every lever thrown at this that can be thrown. I want impeachment. I want pressure on Pence and the Cabinet to exercise the 25th. I want pressure on him to resign. I want investigations. I want subpoenas. I want people to get divorced for this; I want them impoverished; I want boils on their skin and diarrhea pouring out of them constantly. I am so angry about his event that I am ready for giant Earth-holes to just open up and start sucking up every Trump and Trump-related asshole in the whole wide world.

Except for Mary, of course. We love Mary Trump, down to the acoustic guitar she casually leans on the wall behind her when she’s interviewed.

But for all the rest of them, I want the Earth to gobble them up, starting with their faces.

I apparently am a lucky boy, for my wishes are starting to come true. Twitter today has disallowed Trump’s tweets. And let me be clear that this is not undue censorship because the government is not initiating it, and because when you sign up for Twitter, you click on a EULA, and because obscenity is not protected speech, so SHUT UP. Facebook is shunning the dude as well. As is Reddit. Google is threatening to take Parler off its store. And, oh yes, Congress is going to impeach his humongous ass AGAIN.

Like many of you, probably, I have been subsisting through this negligent, lazy, purposely uninformed, wreckless, bullying, shitty presidency for four years, figuring hey, I survived W, I can do this. The problem is that we’re not. We’re not surviving this. We’re up to 4,000 deaths a day from Covid-19, a crisis that, with much better management from the White House, could have been much less fatal. By the way, if you’re looking for a job, sign up as a contract tracer. I have a friend and former boss who has been out of work for nearly a year due to Covid and has finally landed as a contact tracer. Wishing you just as much luck as our economy is just as much a morgue as those refrigerated trucks.

Aren’t you tired of this? I’m so tired of this. And even though we’ve come this far, after what we saw happen Wednesday, I just don’t think we can do it any longer. Not another day. Not another minute. Not another second. We have to do everything we can to end this presidency as soon as possible. I don’t care how many days are left or what the chances are of a conviction in the Senate or what the political ramifications are.

Take every step possible to remove him as soon as possible. If I were king of the world I would doth decree.

So say we all.

Count von Count

There’s always a dummy running around promising this thing is going to be a crushing landslide for our side. I have been that dummy. And yet, I’m still here on Nov. 4 staring at a result of Biden 227, Trump 213. I mean, they warned us, they kept warning us that we’d be waiting a while, but I wanted to be the bright light in the room. More than that, I wanted to put the good conclusion out into the universe. I mean, I’m not really a spiritual guy, but I’ve read Richard Bach.

Besides, what if Biden had shot out of the gate with a 290 last night? That would be a neat trick!

Anyway, I won’t apologize for being that guy.

Wait. CNN just called Wisconsin for Biden. 237.

Anyway. That’s the kind of day it is. A real nailbiter. We’re not going to take the Senate; I’m not sure about the House. My guy Joe Morelle is in good shape. Even without the Senate though, we’ll be in better shape with a Biden administration. At least the guy knows how the Senate works. And we’ll have Vice President Harris set up a cot there to be present to break ties.

All right. Time to put on some sweatpants and go to work

***

A Facebook friend shared a horribly spelled Starbucks order, so I shared this. I’ve always liked it and haven’t been able to do anything with it:

I have a whole bit on this, a guy with a name like “Aaron,” with the soft vowel and the soft consonant, and always having the deli guy call out for “Eric” or “Darin, ” and so he starts telling the deli guy his name is “Eddie.” But his co-workers who go to lunch with him think it’s funny, so they start calling him “Eddie” around the office. So one day, he gets into a lather about it and says come on guys. I’m only Eddie at the Deli. I’m Deli Eddie. So of course, the co-workers start calling him “Deli Eddie.” What none of these wisenheimers know is that there’s a local mob family called Deliedie. Hijinks ensue. ::Seinfeld theme plays::

That’s The Trouble With Never

Like them big trucks trying to run the Biden bus off the road, California v. Texas is roaring down on us. Oral arguments start Nov. 10 in the Supreme Court’s hearing of whether or not the Affordable Care Act should be annihilated. From where I sit, the Republicans’ (read: federal government’s) support for this is pretty short-sighted.

Republicans have already painted themselves into a corner. They decided long ago (as documented in Robert Draper’s fine book, Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the U.S. House of Representatives) that they could not afford to allow any legislative nor legacy success for President Obama, on the grounds that it would cost the Republican Party politically on a leviathan scale. The covert strategy on the Affordable Care Act, of course, was to throw glass shards into the thing when they could, so states would drag their feet on expanding Medicare, and Marco Rubio would nix high-risk corridor payments, and the federal government would cut back on reminding folks about open enrollment periods. Overtly, the mantra became “repeal and replace.”

The problem being that there are things Obamacare does that people like, one of the most striking of these being the provision that prevents insurance companies from screwing people with “pre-existing conditions” with their pants on. And so you have an impeached preznit who insists that they have already done away with Obamacare, but that, somehow, this protection would remain sacrosanct.

As observed previously by this wonk and others (a fellow Smirking Chimp contributor Miles Mogulescu does an A+ job of laying this out, here), there is quite literally no other way to maintain this promise (besides completely socializing medicine in the United States). The promise to repeal Obamacare but to continue protecting people with “pre-existing conditions” is the elbow-in-your-ear of public policy. It just can’t be done.

However, I do see a possible legislative way forward. It’s stupid. But hear me out.

So what if Congress went ahead and repealed the Affordable Care Act, then introduced a new bill called the “Schmaffordable Shmare Mact.” And instead of exchanges, this thing would have markets. And instead of subsidies, it would have oh, I dunno, call it “assistance for care.” Instead of a mandate, there would be a requirement. And so on. They could say, oh, no, this isn’t Obamacare. This is the Republican plan. It’s much, much better. They could keep their promise. They could save face. And Americans could keep their current coverages. Even Democrats could go for it because the results would be laudable.

Now, as I often remind people, I am not a lawyer. But as I understand it, California v. Texas entertains two clear paths whereby the Supreme Court could completely overturn the Affordable Care Act. That would render anything resembling it as completely vulnerable to constitutional challenge. Therefore, any future legislative efforts toward health care reform could be nothing resembling a mandate, a penalty, establishing state-wide exchanges, regulating shit insurance plans, etcetera.

That leaves only one reform option on the table, Action Jackson. And it rhymes with “Medicare For All.”

You know, Republicans, if you paint yourself far enough into that corner, there’s a little stool and a dunce cap waiting for you. Sit down and wear the hat. You’ve earned it.

Nobody Likes Him

So — you know, it’s interesting: [Dr. Fauci]’s got a very good approval rating, and I like that. It’s good. Because remember, he’s working for this administration. He’s working with us, John. We could have gotten other people. We could have gotten somebody else. It didn’t have to be Dr. Fauci. He’s working with our administration. And, for the most part, we’ve done pretty much what he and others — Dr. Birx and others, who are terrific — recommended.

And he’s got this high approval rating, so why don’t I have a high approval rating with respect — and the administration, with respect to the virus? We should have a very high, because what we’ve done in terms of — we’re just reading off about the masks and the gowns and the ventilators and numbers that nobody has seen, and the testing at 55 million tests; we tested more than anybody in the world. I have a graph that I’d love to show you — perhaps you’ve seen it — where we’re up here and the rest of the world is down at a level that’s just a tiny fraction of what we’ve done, in terms of testing.

So it sort of is curious: A man works for us — with us, very closely, Dr. Fauci, and Dr. Birx also highly thought of. And yet, they’re highly thought of, but nobody likes me. It can only be my personality. That’s all.

Or because you’re doing a shitty job.

I mean, can you imagine a more pathetic, whiny statement from any other preznit? Gravity crush, that is astonishing.

Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Louis Gohmert (Asshole Party, Texas), who has spent as much time as possible marching around without a preventive face covering, was diagnosed with the COVID. And, he decided it was best to inform his staff in person.

The schadenfreude needs to not be so out of control. I HOPE HE HAS RESPIRATORY ISSUES FOR THE REST OF HIS LIFE shhhhh….

Medicare for All is a Bumper Sticker

This will likely stir many people to want me to shred my “progressive” card, but I see many on social media frothing at the mouth because the presumptive nominee for the preznit of these untied states doesn’t support something called “Medicare for All.” And I think that’s a good thing.

Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

In March 2009, President Barack Obama held a “healthcare summit.” At the table are doctors, insurers, drug companies, consumers advocates and lawmakers.

In July 2009, he is quoted by NPR: “If I were starting a system from scratch, then I think that the idea of moving towards a single-payer system could very well make sense. That’s the kind of system that you have in most industrialized countries around the world. The only problem is that we’re not starting from scratch.”

Among the elements of the ACA: An end to cutting people off from medical intervention due to “pre-existing conditions.” Parents can keep their kids insured through age 26. State exchanges, but with subsidies to help the sticker shock. And, vitally, high-risk corridor payments to help insurance providers roll with accepting less healthy people while younger, healthier specimens are shamed and fined into getting covered.

The ACA was made in a brilliant and ideal way. Call all the stakeholders together. Solicit their ideas and concerns. Obama didn’t just get a law passed. He made public policy, one that was a bit of Jenga. But it was subjectively good, so you didn’t reckon some idiots would come along and start pulling pieces out.

Would you?

Of course, they did. Republican states refused to create exchanges, refused to expand Medicare. Sen. Marco Rubio eventually killed the high-risk corridor payments. The Republicans were out to drown the ACA in acid, despite that it was good public policy that actually did what it said it would do, to provide more people with better coverage.

It fulfills that mission to this day, despite more than 70 unsuccessful votes to kill it with a straight vote, despite countless sabotage efforts, including the current effort in court to outright kill it and throw countless Americans off of their current insurance in the middle of a fucking pandemic. The ACA, like The Dude, abides.

So, what the fuck is Medicare for All?

When Bernie Sanders talks about Medicare for All and how it will be implemented, he basically says, “What we’re going to do is, we’re just going to tell the insurance companies to go fuck themselves with their own neckties, and they’ll just then have to eat those neckties for lunch, and they’ll like it! Screw those karens!”

This is, of course, paraphrased.

That is, basically, the only planning I see for how to implement the policy: Tell the insurance companies to fuck off. And, by the way, have we asked the average doctor how they feels about Medicare reimbursements?

This is bad politics. It’s bad policy. And it’s stupidly redundant considering the decade of spent political capital, face swats, and sweaty brows Democrats have endured to establish what I think analysts will one day see as one of the most successful domestic policy reforms of all time: Obamacare.

Get us a Democratic House, a Democratic Senate and Joe Biden as Preznit. Stop crowing about “Medicare for All” because “fetch” will happen first, Gretchen. Fix it. Improve it. Add a public option. Add a public option. Add a public option.

That we can get done. Medicare for All is a fucking bumper sticker. And it will never happen.

Heck Of A Job

From CNBC:

~ The U.S reported more than 30,000 new coronavirus cases on Friday and Saturday, the highest daily totals since May 1, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

~ New cases across the country are surging faster than ever, especially in states in the South, West and Midwest.

~ Seven states hit record cases on Saturday, including Florida and South Carolina, which had their third consecutive day breaking single-day records. Missouri, Nevada, Montana, Utah and Arizona also hit records.

In other news: Hi. IT’S NOT JUST LIKE THE FLU. (SFGATE)

And: Yes, Wearing Masks Helps. Here’s Why (NPR)