Is Waiting For Merrick Garland To Act Going To Be Like “Waiting For Godot”?

We seem to be experiencing what Yogi Berra called “deja vu all over again”. For five years now, Donald Trump has committed crimes out in the open. He’s been as overt a traitor as a traitor could be. What else would one call Trump’s relationship with Putin except treasonous? How much more obvious does it have to be? At a July 2016 news conference at his Doral property in Florida, Trump said: “Russia, if you’re listening — I hope you are able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press. Let’s see if that happens.” Mere hours later, Russia responded — and made it happen. Keep in mind, this is the same Donald Trump that every GOP leader KNEW was compromised by Russia. On June 25, 2016, current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy entered a room in Washington, DC where the GOP leadership was meeting and said out loud (it was recorded): “There’s two people I think Putin pays – Rohrbacher and Trump – swear to God!” No one in that room questioned Kevin. No one doubted him either. That Trump was compromised by Russia seems to have been general knowledge. Everyone in the room agreed with then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan’s plan to keep their terrible secret “in the family”.

This really has been about treason all along. The GOP was so determined to impose permanent minority rule upon America – no matter how they did it – that they were/are even willing to commit treason in order to do it. These are all or nothing stakes. Once you commit treason? There is no going back. How on earth can anyone trust these pirates ever again (not that we had any business trusting them in the first place)? We understood what it meant when Lil Jeff Sessions ran the DoJ — that it was going to do only what that racist elf wanted. When Bill Barr’s name first came up as Lil Jeff’s eventual replacement, the news media played their “he’s an institutionalist!” card, insisting that this meant the adults in the room were in control.

Alas, there are no adults in the Republican room. There are only miscreants and angry white men. Only racists, misogynists and bigots. Authoritarians, fascists and feckless fools — useful idiots all. As we all know, had Kyle Rittenhouse been Black instead of privileged white, he would never have walked away from the scene, having shot three people. Between the racist cops and the actual racists, a Black Kyle would have been raked with so much gunfire that they’d have had to use a bucket and mop to clean up what was left of him. The Rittenhouse verdict empowered the right wing yahoos to shoot first and then concoct their “I was defending myself” defense later. It undermines the legitimacy of a legitimate self defense defense. But then, no one’s ever accused anti-democratic racists of thinking big.

Merrick Garland has insisted all along that he intends to follow the rule of law. And, in his defense, we must acknowledge that the country is experiencing something extraordinary. White power has declared culture war on the rest of us because the idea of sharing power with us – especially if we represent the majority – is simply untenable. But, something else happened back in 2016 that we have not addressed yet. Our free and fair election got hijacked. In place of a free and fair election, we got Russia’s relentless, multi-faceted meddling. Don’t forget: Trump’s campaign chair, Paul Manafort, handed Konstantin Kilimnik and Oleg Deripaska (two Russian intelligence officers and “Friends Of Putin”) the proprietary polling data for Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin that Russian intelligence repurposed and redirected back at us. Some of that work went to convincing Black Democratic voters to stay home – suggesting that Hillary Clinton was a racist on the down low. If just ONE Democratic voter succumbed (it’s easy enough to find out — all we have to do is ask them), that’s illegal. Not “little illegal”, big, “GIANT illegal”.

It is flat out against the law to win an American election by colluding with Russia (or any foreign government). Do that – collude to win – and you did not win. Donald Trump colluded with Russia in multiple ways in order to win. Problem is, we refused to acknowledge that collusion even as he was doing it! “Hey, Russia! — if you’re listening!” is pretty direct. And when Russia literally responded in mere hours? There are myriad reasons why Republicans don’t want to dig too deeply. And when deep digging IS going on around them? Republicans do everything in their power either to neutralize that digging or to undermine its integrity or the public’s faith in its integrity.

Bill Barr flattened the Mueller Report — telling America it concluded one thing (there’s no “there” there) when, in fact, there was plenty of there there. Bill Barr oversaw the murder of Jeffrey Epstein (probably not for anyone else than his dear old dad) and the purposeful politicization of the DoJ. The Republicans deliberately slow walked Garland’s nomination — a way to buy time. For Republicans, the game now must rely on running out the clock to the 2022 mid terms. IF the GOP can (via gerrymandering and voter suppression) limit Democratic voting, they could indeed take back the House and Senate — killing all investigations dead while they finish gutting every bit of our democracy.

Is Merrick Garland dawdling? Is he hemming and hawing while the nation lurches toward authoritarianism? Is he being cavalier toward democracy? Is he giving the white guys way too much latitude simply because they’re white guys?

Or, is Merrick Garland getting every last bit of evidence he can before applying the rule of law to its biggest scofflaw ever: Donald J Trump? I still want to believe that Garland HAS set his sites on Trump (and the entire GOP) but that he knows he will get one shot here — and it needs to be the coup de grace and nothing but. If Garland’s DoJ does the right thing (applying the rule of law evenly as he’s sworn he would), he will set off a fire storm of angry, white backlash. It will definitely get ugly. But, the longer Garland and the DoJ wait to begin punishing insurrectionists, the harder it will be to punish them.

To not punish would be to invite the guilty to attempt another violent coup. That won’t be a matter of speculation, merely time and timing. We need that punishment to happen. That punishment is our “Godot”.

Samuel Becket was an amazing writer and his classic play “Waiting For Godot is deservedly a classic. Spoiler Alert! Godot never shows up. The two guys who spend the play “Waiting For Godot” will end the play still waiting. That’s the point. If the performance is good, by the very end of the play, the audience finds itself in the very same shoes as Gogo and Didi, the two main characters. Whatever relief may come from Godot’s finally arriving on site is negated by the fact that Godot never comes. Wait for him now and you’ll wait for him forever. It’s pure existentialism.

We’re still smarting from the fact that the Mueller Report flopped. It didn’t really; it only really flopped in the news media’s eyes because they can’t get out of their own damned way. When Bill Barr interpreted Mueller’s findings, the press were obligated to read the damned thing for themselves not buy Barr’s bullshit rehashing. But the news media accepted Barr’s take (why would he lie — even though he lied in the exact same way about Iran-Contra?) That’s because our news media ALWAYS accepts Republican explanations as legit even when clearly they’re not.

Yeah, it sucks watching Republicans continue to undermine our democratic institutions with impunity. It seems entirely counter-intuitive to do nothing. In “Waiting For Godot”, Didi and Gogo will be cursed to return again tomorrow to the same forlorn landscape (its one feature that leafless tree). It’s as if today never happened. And neither will tomorrow. We need our Godot – our Garland – to show up and show up ready for work. We need our Godot on stage right now.

America Is Only Just Realizing It Has A “White Audacity” Problem

The Kyle Rittenhouse verdict — in every way — points to how completely off kilter America is. “Self defense” now means you can provoke others to violence by threatening them with your gun but it’s their problem because their fists scared you into shooting them. Somehow hands grabbing a gun defensively equals bringing a gun to a fistfight in the first place. Of course that doesn’t add up. White privilege never does. And white people know it never has to. That’s the luxury of only ever having to look to your feelings for justification (while every other group has to bring facts to the conversation). Knowing you can get away with anything, well, that will a person think they can do whatever they want however they want whenever they want. Kyle Rittenhouse stepped onto the “playing field” that night in Kenosha with every advantage one could have.

If Kyle had had a bit more melanin in his skin, he wouldn’t have left that street alive. A Black kid firing a military style semi-automatic weapon wildly in a crowd? They’d have had to clean up what was left of him with a mop and a bucket. Not only did Kyle Rittenhouse walk away from the murder scene, he got waved on repeatedly by the cops! And in the immediate aftermath? Did Kyle weep for what he had done? Hell, no! Kyle went out drinking (he’s only 17)! He celebrated what he had done because he’s white and whiteness seems to entitle white people to all kinds of things they really aren’t entitled to. And every time they express that entitlement? We are rocked by its audacity.

What do we mean by “white people”? Let’s ask them. They’re always happy to share who they think is white and who they look at as an other. Perversely, white people really do behave like Dr. Seuss’s sneetches. Well, like one of the two groups of sneetches. The story is a good lesson about racism. But it’s not a great lesson. It’s kinda flawed actually…

Star bellied sneetches feel superior to sneetches without stars. But then a conman shows up and sells the star-free sneetches a machine that puts stars on their bellies. Suddenly, there’s no difference between the two groups. That offends the star-bellied sneetches. Good thing the conman’s machine can also remove stars from bellies. Suddenly it’s hipper to be without a star. And so it goes, backwards and forwards. stars off then back on again until the sneetches literally run out of money. The con man drives off, every penny every sneetch had now his. In the story, the sneetches realize they’re all alike and always were. A fine message. But pretty unfair. The sneetches who started the story without stars didn’t create the initial problem. The star bellied sneetches did. If they never behave like they were superior, the con man never has a way to take advantage of them.

Even Dr. Seuss didn’t realize how systemic racism works. The star bellied sneetches start the story with everything but end up with nothing. The non-star bellied sneetches begin the story with nothing and end up with nothing. The only consolation they get is the star bellied sneetches contrition at the end. That might improve their situation going forward, but it fails to address a long, terrible history of abuse, disrespect and mistreatment. History does not disappear just because we want it to. It’s very easy for a group that’s never been persecuted to dismiss persecution’s ripple effects on persecution’s survivors and descendants. Take this to the bank: if the persecution shoe were on the other foot? We would not be having this conversation.

The pecking order among the descendants of white Europeans in America seems to put WASPS (white Anglo-Saxon Protestants) atop the pile. Northern Europeans — Scandinavians, Dutch, Germans, French and English seem to think of themselves as Europe’s best and brightest. The Spanish also thought of themselves as players — and they absolutely were (ask any Native American population they encountered and decimated). But, the English more than any other group saw themselves and their ways as superior. More importantly, they saw their commercial interests as superior.

Every single European venture to North America after the Vikings’ brief sojourn in at L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland in 1021 AD had one organizing principle: making money. Even the Pilgrims (who’d resettled in Holland before heading to Massachusetts) set sail for the New World in search of fortune not faith. See how even the history gets shifted to white peoples’ advantage? We’ve mythologized the Pilgrims into heroes in search of freedom when, in reality, they were economic itinerants who brought little with them except pathogens, violence and an unjustified superiority complex.

Want to talk audacity? You sail to another continent. You get off your boat. You step onto someone else’s land and you claim it as yours!

Yeah, it all starts there. “Manifest destiny” is pure white audacity.

White audacity is penning “All men are created equal” while meaning only white, Christian, land-owning MEN – like you.

Andrew Johnson strangling Reconstruction before it could get up to speed — that was white audacity. America’s entire westward expansion — white audacity. Every brutal attack on Native Americans whose territory we were seizing — white audacity. Basing the entire southern economy on slavery — stolen labor — white audacity. Declaring slaves to be but three-fifths of a white person — white audacity. Going to war to defend slavery — the whitest of white audacity. Continuing to fight the Civil War (in order to keep slavery alive even if “spiritually”) — that, it seems, is the whole point of white audacity. If white supremacists could bring back literal slavery, they absolutely positively would. And plenty of non-white supremacist white would shrug their shoulders and go along with it. Because they’re white and the audacity is now baked in.

Travis McMichael and his two co-defendants hunted Ahmaud Arbery down and shot him to death. Based only on their suspicions and crap information, these three racists deputized themselves as judge, jury and executioner because that’s what white privilege tells them they can do. Audacious, right? That they thought they could get away with “self defense” as a defense — wow! What audacity!

But then, every white lie is in service of The Big Lie. The fact that there even IS a “Big Lie”?

That’s the most audacious white audacity of all.

Why Are Republicans So Skilled At “Bullsh*t Kabuki”?

Last night, GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy treated America to a (literally) record-breaking performance. He stood in the House of Representatives — in theory to spew a few dishonest words about the BBB before the House voted on it — and then, like men do in a room, he hijacked it. Kevin spoke for eight plus hours — flipping through binders filled with filler Kevin could reference as he spoke. And spoke. And spoke. Kevin was filibustering the vote the best (the only) way he could in the House where no filibuster exists. In the end, it didn’t matter one bit. The House just passed it! So, why was Kevin doing this? Was it because the legislation that just passed the House would do terrible things to his constituents and his district? No. The opposite is true. Most Americans — including the Californians in Kevin’s Central Valley district — want desperately what the BBB will provide Kevin’s constituents using their tax dollars. Even the CBO score agreed that the BBB would be better for America than doing nothing and a kajillion times better than anything any Republican has done or would ever propose.

Eight hours of bullshit kabuki. That’s what Kevin put on — and, if we’re fair — skillfully! Republicans can’t govern to save their lives (which they prove every time they get elected to office). But, damn if they can’t perform bullshit kabuki with consummate skill.

Remember Kyle Rittenhouse, weeping for himself on the witness stand — blubbering away, woe to him, because he’s being held to account for murdering people with a gun that should never have been in his ignorant, racist, adolescent hands? How about Travis McMichael insisting on cross examination that Ahmaud Arbery’s running away from him for ten minutes — no weapon, no backpack, just fear for his life — posed a mortal threat demanding lethal force (three shotgun blasts, two of them hitting Arbery and killing him)? Or Brett Kavanaugh wailing angrily at anyone who’d dare question his integrity? Equally disingenuous (but deserving of note): Republican Senator Susan Collins insisting (all evidence to the contrary) that she supports reproductive rights.

Bullshit kabuki is what you resort to when you have nothing under the hood to sell. Conservatives, don’t forget, want to “conserve” a Confederacy of whiteness. They want us to hold firmly onto the version of “All men are created equal” that doesn’t actually mean “all men” but does mean “only men”. Republicans know they can’t pitch regressing America back to 1850 to a diversifying electorate increasingly reluctant to let white people get away with abusing everyone NOT white. That’s why Republicans suppress Democratic voters and gerrymander. That’s why Republicans deal in dark money. That’s why they’ll even commit treason to hold onto power.

Once you’ve acknowledged — as Kevin McCarthy did on June 25, 2016 — that you suspect your presidential nominee might be compromised by a hostile foreign government (“There’s two people I think Putin pays — Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!” is how Kevin put it as he entered a meeting of Republican leaders a full month before the GOP nominated Trump) — you’ve nowhere to go except to the FBI. When you don’t — and neither Kevin nor any other Republican in that room even thought about calling the FBI — you cross a very real line. In hindsight — considering how deeply Vlad Putin still has his hooks into Trump? Kevin’s suspicions become even more problematic.

But that’s just from a legal perspective. We’re talking kabuki! Performance! And, from THAT perspective, Republicans are true “artistes” — and I’m here to celebrate their “artistry”. Below — some examples of Republican Bullshit Kabuki and my personal ratings and notes. I’ve given up drinking (but taken up smoking cannabis that much more); still, I appreciate structure and intensity. Great bullshit kabuki is like a big, massive red wine that can’t even spell “subtlety”. It’s kind of a cross between Hamlet’s advice to the players not to saw the air too much with their hands and MacBeth’s “tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, but signifying nothing.”

That’s how I score it!

MY SCORES

6/10 Kyle’s good but he’s too clearly coached. He’ll get better after a few years in the can — if he’s sent to the can. As of this writing, Kyle’s jury is still out, his fate undecided. If the jury acquits Kyle, he’ll be free, but his bullshit kabuki skills won’t evolve. Hey, I worry for the kid!

Brett is what world class bullshit kabuki is all about. It’s defiant. Sociopathic even. Brett loves beer, man! And rape! And there ain’t nothing wrong with that! See what I mean about being “full of sound and fury” but “signifying nothing”?

The Bullshit Kabuki King, of course, is Donald Trump. He’s a whole school of bullshit kabuki unto himself.

Next time: why our news media loves bullshit kabuki…