There are certain words I never thought I would say, let alone put in writing.
The President incited a riot.
Insurrectionists took the Capitol building.
My mother was right.
The last one may seem out of place but bear with me. You see, in the last couple of days I have noticed the continuing of a trend that has been going on for years, if not for decades. A trend that has arguably brought us to this point, and one that needs to stop if we are to ever get to a better place. It can best be summed up in a quote from the movie Batman (1989): “I made you, you made me first.”
Call it “whataboutism”. Call it “finger pointing”. Call it whatever you want. It boils down to the simple childish back and forth of “well X did this, which is just like Y”, or “well they did this, which justifies them doing that.”
As my mother told my sister and I when we were kids, “I don’t care who started it.” And she was right.
This shit has to stop. There can be no excuse for the actions that took place in Washington, DC on Jan. 6, 2021. There can be no justification based on actions taken by others because there is no justification. Full stop.
Likewise, to those who are taking to social media taking the opportunity to say, “I told you so”, again I say this shit has to stop. Like so many others, I am saddened, angry, and not at all surprised by these events. But seizing the moment to drive forward partisan divisions rather than simply condemn the actions of those responsible (and yes, that includes specific political figures up to and including Donald Trump himself) is risible. It does nothing to resolve the tensions that led to this moment, it simply exacerbates them. Many of you spent the entirety of George Bush’s presidency claiming he “stole” the election, and much the same of Trump in his sole term. Does that language sound at all hauntingly familiar?
But hey, as Winston Churchill said, “never let a good crisis go to waste,” amirite?
This shit has to stop. I don’t care who started it.
Let’s get in the wayback machine, shall we? In 1994, Newt Gingrich led a revolt in Congress, the so-called Contract with America. He got the Republicans to start playing hardball in politics. The Democrats were slow to catch up, but they sure were game for it. And hey, they decided to end the filibuster for non-SCOTUS nominees, so all even right? Nope, then the Republicans ended the filibuster for SCOTUS nominees. And Wow, those SCOTUS nominees! I mean, look at the way Garland was treated! No Supreme Court nominee has ever been treated badly by the Senate ever! He totally got Borked! Totally justifies screwing over the next guy if we can!
“I made you, you made me first.”
This shit has to stop. I DON’T CARE WHO STARTED IT.
Now there are people on social media demanding that those who perpetrated this offense against our nation be hunted down and executed summarily. Others see them as some sort of heroes defending the union against tyranny. I would humbly suggest that both sides are extremist assholes who need to put down their cellphones and get a nice cold glass of shut the fuck up.
I don’t care who started it.
I want them, all of them, to have the full benefit of the American justice system. Let them have a real trial with a vigorous defense and a jury of their peers. Let there be no doubt in any reasonable mind (you can’t reason with the unreasonable) that they were given every right under the very laws they so carelessly flouted. And let them enjoy the full penalty of the law as decided by that system they tried to destroy.
What truly makes America great, what always has and will continue to make America great, is this: despite the avaricious desires of some, we always have and always will, even- nay, especially in the face of adversity strived to be a nation of laws, not men. While we have in the past and even to this day sometimes fallen short of that lofty goal, that is not an excuse to lower the bar. It is instead all the more reason to set it higher.
I had thought I was long past the point of being astonished by not only the sheer stupidity by the absolute audacity of the things that can come out of the mouths of politicians. I suppose that’s one thing I can thank Donald Trump and his dream team of lawyers for: they have brought back my sense of wonder. Because I truly wonder if even they, particularly Rudy “Go Ahead and Boo Me” Giuliani, believe the horseshit that comes spewing out of their talk-holes on the regular.
The particular combination of “you have GOT to be kidding me” that got me today was a one-two combination that almost defies description. The first is this tidbit from the Washington Post in which the Post repeats a ridiculous comment from Rudy “Can You Believe I Have a Law Degree?” Giuliani on ABC’s This Week. In regards to President Trump’s ability to pardon himself (or lack thereof), he had this to say: “He has no intention of pardoning himself, but he probably — not to say he can’t.”
Did you catch that? For those of you in the cheap seats, America’s Mayor (Emeritus) just declared that the President of the United States has the power to pardon himself for any federal crime. But in case that isn’t enough to unsettle you, let’s just pile on a little, shall we?
Why, what do we have over here? Oh look, it’s Rudy “Executive Power is the Only Power” Giuliani over on HuffPost. This one’s so outrageous good I just have to block quote it:
“In no case can he be subpoenaed or indicted,” Rudy Giuliani told HuffPost Sunday, claiming a president’s constitutional powers are that broad. “I don’t know how you can indict while he’s in office. No matter what it is.”
Giuliani said impeachment was the initial remedy for a president’s illegal behavior ― even in the extreme hypothetical case of Trump having shot former FBI Director James Comey to end the Russia investigation rather than just firing him.
“If he shot James Comey, he’d be impeached the next day,” Giuliani said. “Impeach him, and then you can do whatever you want to do to him.”
Did you catch that? If the President commits murder in broad daylight, you can’t indict him. You have to impeach him. And of course while you’re busy doing that, he can just pardon himself as previously stated, but them’s just the breaks because – reasons.
Out here in “Not Coo-Coo Bananas Land”, we live under a slightly different set of rules. Whether you believe the ultimate purpose of the justice system is retribution, rehabilitation, deterrence, or some mix of the three, you have to acknowledge the system does not and cannot work if there is a perversion of that system, particularly at the top of the system. Trying to read a loophole into the Constitution big enough to ram Trump Tower through is demeaning to our republic and the people who live under it.
Shame on you, Mr. Giuliani. If you have any shame left.
I would like to take this opportunity to personally applaud the sagacity and wisdom of House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Ca.), House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.). In a joint press release yesterday they made it clear that in his recently released memos “former Director Comey never wrote that he felt obstructed or threatened.” I for one feel completely relieved, and I am not simply writing that because I feel in any way under siege in President Trump’s America.
To be sure, unless a person very explicitly and clearly states in no uncertain terms that they are being threatened with jail time just for being a journalist, which I am clearly not doing because I am a loyal and patriotic American and would never do such a thing, we don’t have to make any attempt to read between the lines. Just look into my eyes and you’ll know I’m telling the truth. If you don’t believe me, just ask Gina Haspel. She could get the truth out of anybody.
Let’s face it, even Freud had to admit a cigar is just a cigar. And if we learned anything from Georgia O’Keeffe, it’s that what you see is what you get. And what you see here is a man who very clearly intended that, rather than detailing an out of his depth, possibly criminal and maybe even megalomaniacal president, James Comey’s intent was “rather than making a criminal case for obstruction or interference with an ongoing investigation, these memos would be Defense Exhibit A should such a charge be made.”
Here’s a fun little experiment you can do at home. Pick up a video game. It can be any kind of video game, all the way back to an Atari 2600 cartridge to a PlayStation 4 disc. Now, use it in the way it was intended by the manufacturer.
How many people did you manage to hurt? How many people did you kill?
Okay, now try using it in any way you can conceivably think of, even in ways never intended by the manufacturer. How many people can you manage to injure or kill before you get taken down by the police or your fellow citizens?
According to President Trump, the greatest threat to our country, and particularly our young people, comes from video games “shaping young people’s thoughts”, according to a report from the Washington Post. The report added that “[h]e also proposed that ‘we have to do something about maybe what they’re seeing and how they’re seeing it.’”
Well, yeah. Because goodness knows that we’ve established time and again that playing violent video games leads directly to an increase in violent behavior. Oh wait, no we haven’t. But just in case, we should violate the First Amendment rights of video game makers to be on the safe side, because that’s the best and most direct way to resolve the problem.
Apparently Brent Bozell, president of the Media Research Council, suggested that violent video games “needed to be given the same kind of thought as tobacco and liquor.” Of course, because video games have been known to cause cancer and drunk driving. That’s some quality thinking there, Brent.
And that’s not the worst of the kind of conclusion-first, evidence-not-at-all thinking on display at this particular meeting. Rep. Vicki Hartzler was quoted as saying “[e]ven though I know there are studies that have said there is no causal link, as a mom and a former high school teacher, it just intuitively seems that prolonged viewing of violent nature would desensitize a young person.” I’m just curious, exactly what did you teach? Because I can’t imagine any teacher I ever had literally stating “I know there are studies that have said there is no causal link” and then trumping those factual studies with their own “intuition”. Then again, they never had the benefit of being legislators, which apparently gives you… supernatural powers?
Speaking of legislators, Sen. Marco Rubio felt the need to chime in with his usual wisdom, “acknowledg[ing] there is no evidence linking violent video games to the tragedy in Parkland. But he said he wanted to ensure ‘parents are aware of the resources available to them to monitor and control the entertainment their children are exposed to.’” Wow, that’s a brave stance. I wasn’t aware that the ESRB rating system for video games and the MPAA rating system for motion pictures were state secrets. Thanks for getting those declassified and making them available to parents everywhere, Sen. Rubio. With leadership like that you should consider running for President.
If these politicians and other “crisis actors” (yeah, I said it) really believe there’s a causal link between video games and real world violence, they need to step up and put their money where their mouth is. Start funding some quality, rigorous studies into the phenomenon, or better yet lift the ban on the CDC investigating the potential link. Address the very real concerns raised with the studies they continuously lean on (you know, the ones that don’t show a causal link?) and find something more than a spurious correlation.
The hysteria over video games recalls the hysteria over Dungeons & Dragons from the early 1980s, the outrage over explicit music that managed to stretch all the way from the mid-80s to the late 90s, banned books that seem to be a perennial controversy, or any time bad or undesirable behavior is blamed on media or culture rather than placed squarely where it belongs: on the people who perpetrate it. That’s not to say that the media doesn’t influence behavior to some extent, but to ban media in an attempt to control a handful of bad actors is very much akin to cutting off the noses of an entire community to spite one face.