Where’s the Savior?

BloombergRobin Varghese:

’IN JOKES AND THEIR RELATIONSHIP TO THE UNCONSCIOUS (1905), his three-hundred page book on humor, Sigmund Freud shares his favorite yuks, none of which are funny to begin with, and then proceeds to slowly murder them by explaining their punchlines. The book is so turgid that modern interpreters sometimes argue that the whole enterprise is itself a kind of meta-joke, which may be true, but still doesn’t make it funny. Reading the book in the election year of 2020, however, one bit stands out. Freud describes it as “an American anecdote”:

Two not particularly scrupulous businessmen had succeeded, by dint of a series of highly risky enterprises, in amassing a large fortune, and they were now making efforts to push their way into good society. One method, which struck them as a likely one, was to have their portraits painted by the most celebrated and highly paid artist in the city, whose pictures had an immense reputation. The precious canvases were shown for the first time at a large evening party, and the two hosts themselves led the most influential connoisseur and art critic up to the wall upon which the portraits were hanging side by side, to extract his admiring judgment on them. He studied the works for a long time, and then, shaking his head, as though there was something he had missed, pointed to the gap between the pictures and asked quietly: “But where’s the Savior?”

Getting this joke, such as it is, presumes familiarity with an implied reference: depictions of the crucifixion, wherein the savior (i.e., Christ), famously hangs on the cross between two thieves. Even then, it’s not really laugh-out-loud funny. It is, however uncannily relevant. As we find ourselves in the quickening of our election season, we Americans are increasingly being asked to contemplate the prospect of voting for one of two unsavory businessmen. Redemption is nowhere to be found in this forced choice between two scoundrels; the savior isn’t even absent. The daylight between Mike Bloomberg and Donald Trump can be measured in the rays of sun that shine out of a billionaire’s ass.…’

Via n+1

This isn’t an election: It’s a civil war, and our side isn’t necessarily winning

UnknownLucian Truscott IV:

’Trump is letting us know that he and his base don’t think of this as an election. It’s a civil war. They want to turn the clock back to the time that Negroes knew their place and women were happy making biscuits in the kitchen and employers could pay their workers anything they wanted and the question of who got to vote was decided by a few white men in a smoke-filled room. 

Look around you. With William Barr at the Justice Department and Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court and Senate Republicans voting in lockstep with Mitch McConnell, living in Donald Trump’s America feels like the South won the Civil War. If we don’t get our shit together and drive him from office at the ballot box in November, we’ll lose this one, too.

Trump made use of an enemy foreign power, Russia, to win election in 2016, and if what the intelligence community told the Congress this week is correct, he’s in the process of doing it again. There won’t be any investigation of foreign interference this time…

The stunning thing is, Trump keeps getting caught and nothing happens…

Donald Trump is who he always was: a mobbed up grifter from New York who learned from his father that you can welch on debts, pay people off and game the system, and when you get caught, walk away. If you’re outrageous enough about it, people will be so stunned they are unwilling or unable to act. Trump’s old pal Roy Cohn was a past master at this. I covered him while I was on the staff of the Village Voice. He used to travel around the country giving speeches in smaller cities to Republican gatherings that were all impressed they could get Roy Cohn to come to Sheboygan or Zanesville and speak at their fundraisers. He would meet a local banker over rubber chicken and talk him into a signature loan for 50 or 100 grand, and he’d take the money and stiff them every time. He was sued over and over again by these little local banks, and he never paid a cent. 

Trump also learned from Roy Cohn that you can steal stuff in plain sight and get away with it if you just say “Fuck you” loudly and often enough. I think that’s what Trump is doing to the whole country. He’s saying, “Fuck you. I never believed in your democracy, I never believed in your capitalism, I never believed in your establishment, and look what I did! I got elected president! Fuck you! I’m going to take everything I want! I’m going to fly Air Force One anywhere I want, and I’m going to play golf more often than Arnie Palmer, and I’m going to bellow racism and lies at my rallies, and I’m going to jack up the Secret Service for rooms at my resorts, and I’m not going to pay a fucking cent and what are you going to do about it? I’m going to call Vladimir Putin on the phone and I’m going to get him to help me steal another election, and fuck you.”

That’s Trump’s philosophy in a nutshell: do whatever you want and say “Fuck you.” He’s getting away with it the same way he got away with stiffing contractors and welching on bank loans and going into bankruptcy and taking out more loans and when they come due saying “Fuck you.” 

I think we stand a chance to beat him, but we’ll have to dig ourselves out of a deep, deep hole when he’s gone. Some of us never will: The children ripped from their mothers’ arms at the border, the voters who will go to the polls and be turned away, the poor who will go hungry when their food stamps are cut, the land and water and air that will be despoiled, the species that will go extinct, the companies that will fail, the women whose health clinics will close, the hopes that will be dashed and gone away forever.

Via Salon.com

Trump’s Presidency Will End Someday. What if He Won’t Go?

OriginalBarbara McQuade, Former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan:


For nearly 250 years, presidents have respected the law. Even when electoral defeat has been unexpected and ignominious, presidents have passed the baton without acrimony. In a sense, perhaps this is the central achievement of the American system: to have transferred power peacefully from one leader to the next, without heredity to guide the way.

That a president would defy the results of an election has long been unthinkable; it is now, if not an actual possibility, at the very least something Trump’s supporters joke about. As the former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee tweeted, President Trump “will be eligible for a 3rd term due to the illegal attempts by Comey, Dems, and media , et al attempting to oust him as @POTUS so that’s why I was named to head up the 2024 re-election.” A good troll though it may have been, Huckabee is not the first person to suggest that Trump might not leave when his presidency ends.

…If Trump were inclined to overstay his term, the levers of power work in favor of removal. Because the president immediately and automatically loses his constitutional authority upon expiration of his term or after removal through impeachment, he would lack the power to direct the U.S. Secret Service or other federal agents to protect him. He would likewise lose his power, as the commander in chief of the armed forces, to order a military response to defend him. In fact, the newly minted president would possess those presidential powers. If necessary, the successor could direct federal agents to forcibly remove Trump from the White House. Now a private citizen, Trump would no longer be immune from criminal prosecution, and could be arrested and charged with trespassing in the White House. While even former presidents enjoy Secret Service protection, agents presumably would not follow an illegal order to protect one from removal from office. Although Trump’s remaining in office seems unlikely, a more frightening—and plausible—scenario would be if his defeat inspired extremist supporters to engage in violence. One could imagine a world in which Trump is defeated in the 2020 election, and he immediately begins tweeting that the election was rigged. Or consider the possibility, albeit remote, that a second-term Trump is removed from office through impeachment, and rails about his ouster as a coup. His message would be amplified by right-wing media. If his grievances hit home with even a few people inclined toward violence, deadly acts of violence, or even terrorist attacks against the new administration, could result.…’

Via The Atlantic