Sunday, April 3, 2022

Sunday Reading

The Looneys with the Fringe on the Top — Charles P. Pierce.

There is one sure way to know that the former president* and his apparently deathless enablers are getting worried, and that is that the tub-thumping about Hunter Biden and his laptop is getting louder and more frenzied.

On Monday, at a committee meeting, Rep. Matt Gaetz went bananas, waving around a flash drive that he said contained the contents of the famous laptop. He tried to get it entered into the record, only to be blocked by the chairman, Rep. Jerry Nadler. Gaetz responded by leaping to the electric Twitter machine with a barbered video in which Nadler appears to allow the contents of the flash drive to be placed in the record. There is no reason to believe that the flash drive contains what Matt Gaetz says it does. There are two good reasons not to believe it: 1) there is no chain of evidence, and 2) Matt Gaetz’s lips are moving.

Fox News is running a clock on how many days the other networks have gone without mentioning this little diversionary vaudeville. All of their teevee superstars are on the case, as are most of their “contributors.” (Miranda Devine, another Aussie import at the New York Post, seems to be the point person in print.) So far, the more respectable press seems to be busy covering a ground war in Europe and the investigation into an actual coup over here. Laudable. However, you know what story has disappeared? Ginni Thomas’ cheerleading for the coup. Hell, her husband is back at the Supreme Court like nothing happened. Indeed, the Republicans in DC are going out of their way to tut-tut her past as irrelevant to the special committee’s mandate. From The Hill:

“Justice Thomas is a great American and an outstanding Justice. I have total confidence in his brilliance and impartiality in every aspect of the work of the Court,” [Mitch] McConnell said in a statement. [Kevin] McCarthy, during a press conference at a House GOP retreat, said that he didn’t think Thomas should recuse himself from future Jan. 6-related cases. “No, I think Justice Thomas could make his decisions like he’s made them every other time. It’s his decision based upon law,” McCarthy said. 

Even liberal hero Rep. Liz Cheney gets tender-hearted on this subject. From the New York Times:

In the Thomases, the committee is up against a couple that has deep networks of support across the conservative movement and Washington, including inside the committee. The panel’s Republican vice chairwoman, Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, has led the charge in holding Mr. Trump to account for his efforts to overturn the election, but has wanted to avoid any aggressive effort that, in her view, could unfairly target Justice Thomas, the senior member of the Supreme Court.

I’ve always believed that Cheney’s primary brief during her apparent apostasy is to pry the deadweight of Donald Trump off of the radical movement conservatism that made him not only possible, but inevitable, and through which Cheney came up as a legacy politician. At the hearing to hold Peter Navarro and Dan Scavino in contempt of Congress, Cheney seemed to take her opportunity to speak as a call to remind us what heroes some Republicans have been.

The committee has heard from many of these individuals, including Republicans appointed by President Trump to posts in the Department of Justice. Republicans who stood firm, who threatened to resign and refused to participate in efforts to corrupt the Department with the stolen election lies that led to January 6. We have heard from leading Republicans who also stood firm, who resisted pressure from the former president, and did their constitutional duty.

We have heard from Republicans who were serving in the Trump White House, including those who warned in advance that the president’s plans were unlawful. And those who tried to intervene with the president to get him to halt the violence when it erupted on January 6. In a time when many Republican members of Congress have abandoned their obligation to our Constitution and are putting politics above duty, each of the individuals I mentioned by contrast demonstrated a firm and unwavering commitment to this nation and to our constitutional republic.

Of course, Democratic politicians have been fighting this fight since the days when Liz Cheney was defending torturers. There are Democratic politicians who now advocate for the kind of voting-rights protections for which Liz Cheney will never vote, because the Republican Party in all its factions is dead-set on a nationwide strategy of voter suppression, and it’s more than halfway to its completion. They just have to get the deadweight off their necks so that it’s easier to get there.

By all accounts, Ginni Thomas, the wife of a Supreme Court justice, has imbibed deeply from the Well of the Crazy and gone back several times for a refill. When her text messages to the then-White House chief of staff were revealed, the most startling thing about them was Thomas’ apparent belief in fringe conspiracies and speculation straight from the wild and uncharted wastes of the Internet. For example:

“Watermarked ballots in over 12 states have been part of a huge Trump & military white hat sting operation in 12 key battleground states.”

“Biden crime family & ballot fraud co-conspirators (elected officials, bureaucrats, social media censorship mongers, fake stream media reporters, etc) are being arrested & detained for ballot fraud right now & over coming days, & will be living in barges off GITMO to face military tribunals for sedition.”

“The majority knows Biden and the Left is attempting the greatest Heist of our History.”

“Sounds like Sidney [Powell] and her team are getting inundated with evidence of fraud. Make a plan. Release the Kraken and save us from the left taking America down.”

All of this has precisely the same relation to reality as an accusation that Joe Biden is actually an illusion placed in our minds by the zookeepers on Talos IV. It is a banana-nut sundae of the mind. And somewhere between 25 and 40 percent of our fellow citizens believe this bafflegab either whole or in part, and they vote accordingly. And every Republican politician knows it, and they act accordingly.

Without the support of the far fringes of both the conservative worldview and, it should be said, of human cognition, the Republican Party has no natural mass constituency anymore. And that’s a situation that the party has spent decades fashioning. The “watermarked ballots” are no more real than were the lagoons of poisons that Colin Powell assured the UN were dotting the Iraqi landscape. The prison barges off Gitmo are no more real than Ronald Reagan’s welfare queens with their multiple identities and their Cadillacs. They’ve sold this bunkum—and succeeded politically while doing so—for decades. At this point, why wouldn’t the working assumption for any ambitious conservative politician be that the voters most critical to his success will believe any goddamn thing you tell them, so long as it paints Democrats as evil and minority citizens as freeloading thieves? Why wouldn’t our ambitious conservative politician lean heavily on the strategic use of projection to create an illusory version of what they were actually doing? Why wouldn’t Ginni Thomas believe what she believes?

There are days when I believe that the former president* is the only Republican politician who actually understands all of this. Without question, he is a natural liar and conman; both are essential skills for anyone in Manhattan real estate. That has enabled him to see the dangerously deranged conservative Republican mind as an opportunity rather than a threat. And, in a roundabout way, we have come back to Hunter Biden’s laptop, which has become a kind of totem for the conservative faith, one last station of the cross before which all must genuflect. In an interview this week, the former president* recited the current litany in all its paranoid glory. And he prayed once again for the intercession of Our Father, who art in the Kremlin.

“How is it that the mayor of Moscow, his wife gave the Biden family three and a half million dollars? I think Putin now would be willing to probably give that answer,” Trump said. “I’m sure he knows.”

It is possible that Vladimir Putin has gone, in the felicitous phrasing of the late George V. Higgins, as soft as church music in the splendid isolation of his Kremlin digs. The Ukraine debacle might be proof enough of that. But I think, no matter how deeply he has sunk into delusion, he must look at this country and think we’ve all gone around the bend.

Doonesbury — Drawing on the past.

One bark on “Sunday Reading

  1. There is video of young Ginni after she had been in some estlike cult . She was still rather clueless. She is in a new cult.

    I watched Clarence closely in the Thomas Senate kangaroo court (in his favor) decades ago. I’m not a psychologist but he was clearly a seriously psychologically damaged person and so is she. They found each other. Both do anything they need to do to maintain their fragile and damaged egos.

    Thomas lied his way through those Senate hearings and then pulled out the bullshit “high tech lynching” black victimization card. I have to give credit to him or whoever wrote that one. Peak cynicism, delivered with ginned up fake righteous pain and outrage.

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