Thursday, May 20, 2021

The men who stare at votes

 When we last checked in with the Maricopa County Follies of 2021, someone had detected Cheeto dust on a ballot, proving something nefarious (like someone eating an unhealthy snack while standing in line to vote).  The self-styled Cyber Ninjas are new to this and improvising as they go, scanning for non-existent watermarks, trying to detect bamboo fibers and sniffing for traces of moo shu pork, which would be definite proof of Chinese origin.  I made up the last one, but they made up the rest.  At one point they howled that an entire database had been deleted; it turned out the ninja just didn't know how to access it in the computer.  The county Board of Supervisors and various Republicans who are still capable of experiencing shame want it to stop, but I've heard they're using the Uri Geller technique, where they stare at a ballot until the little black dot moves from Biden's name to Trump's.  Jennifer Morrell was invited by the secretary of state to observe this flummery and wrote about it for the Washington Post, though it really calls for an Armando Iannucci screenplay.  As with The Death of Stalin he wouldn't have to tweak very much.  

At some point the Cyber Ninjas will fold the tents, fire up the calliope and head home to winter quarters in Florida -- via Georgia, if Vernon Jones has his way.  He's the state rep and Trumpanzee who's primarying Brian Kemp in next year's gubernatorial election, and he has questions!  So many questions, like why Kemp let all those people vote and how to prevent it while fellating the Loser of Mar a Lago.  Georgia counted the ballots three times and peered at the signatures on the mail ballots and Biden still won, but that was before Cyber Ninjas applied their very scientific techniques.  Kemp disloyally refused to "find" the votes Trump needed to save America from Chinese Communism, so it's up to Vern and the Ninjas.

When Trump fled New York because the police wouldn't brutalize the pickets outside Trump Tower, he forgot how unforgiving the heat gets in south Florida.   He and his court have moved to Bedminster, New Jersey, where summers are more temperate.  And if it's too hot in New Jersey he can always blame immigrants.  That's what the attorney general of Arizona (them again!) has done in a bonkers lawsuit which says immigrants engage in activities which release greenhouse gases and force the state to pave over more land.  Lest you think Republican Mark Brnovich dreamed this up himself, it's long been a talking point with xenophobes in Europe where it's known as eco-fascism.  How about we welcome each new American with a green-energy house and an electric car?  You do know that the planet has one (1) atmosphere, and wherever people live they'll use its resources?  Hello?

Now that the New York attorney general and the Manhattan district attorney have combined forces in the criminal investigation of the Trump Organization, the Hudson River may not be enough of a barrier.  Ron DeSantis vowed to prevent the extradition of Florida's most obnoxious resident, but I doubt Phil Murphy has a similar agenda.  As justice closes in, will the Once and Future King light out for a property in Scotland?  Or possibly the 33-storey Trump/Iran Revolutionary Guard Money-laundering Exchange and Hotel in Azerbaijan?  Was it repaired after the fire?  I keep calling Reservations but it goes to voice-mail.

Wherever he goes, I hope there's room for everyone.  Sean Hannity made time for Eric to insist that strangers come up and give him hugs and say, "We miss him so much."  If any part of that is true, why are we paying for the Secret Service to keep strangers at bay?  "Literally sometimes, Sean, with tears in their eyes" -- where have we heard that before?  Oh, Eric, Eric.  People have convinced Lara she's practically a senator already so she's ignoring you even more pointedly, isn't she?  And the only people who might try to hug you are drunks who think you're Gary Busey ("My man, whatcha been doin' since Buddy Holly?").  And the one person whose hugs you crave -- never gonna happen.  He's got grudges to hold and fresh enemies to denounce, like the thirty-five Republicans in the House who voted to investigate his attempted coup.  He also needs a new scapegoat.  So Eric, have you ever been thrown under a bus?

In today's installment of "Who's a Nazi now?" our guest is Stew Peters of, well, I'm not sure.  Responding to the news that Uber and Lyft are offering free transportation to and from covid vaccine appointments, Stew wants us to know that "They gave free boxcar transportation to a place called Auschwitz."  Yes, and several million Africans got free passage to America, too.  What's your point, Stew?  Are you Corey Lewandowski's long-lost twin?

I thought my outrage had run dry, and then the Associated Press got the police bodycam footage of the death of Ronald Greene at the hands of Louisiana State Troopers in 2019.  At first they lied and said he had driven into a tree.  Now they have no comment except to complain that airing the video "undermines the investigative process."  After tasing, handcuffing, shackling, beating, dragging and kicking Greene while he pleaded, "I'm scared!  I'm your brother!" the troopers took time to clean his blood off their hands before driving him to the hospital.  This one was so bad the Barr Justice Department opened a file, though they didn't do much else.  His family has filed a wrongful death suit, and you never saw a more wrongful one.  "I'm your brother" is haunting.

"I have been blessed with a long life and have seen the best and worst of this country," Viola Fletcher told a subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee yesterday.  Mrs. Fletcher is 107 and survived the Tulsa race massacre of 1921.  She, her younger brother Hughes Van Ellis and Lessie Benningfield Randle seek reparations for the riot that made them "refugees in our own country," as Mr. Van Ellis said.  The Greenwood section of Tulsa was so prosperous it was called "Black Wall Street."  Nothing remains but Vernon A.M.E. Church, another plaintiff in the suit, and the mass graves that are only now being opened.

Amazing things, lawsuits.  The brutalization of Karen Garner at the hands of Loveland, Colorado's finest didn't come to light until her family filed suit.  Now the two officers have been fired and face criminal charges, only a year later.   If you're wondering why so many white people have joined BLM in the streets, remember Mrs. Garner and Martin Gugino, the 75-year-old man slammed to the ground last summer by Buffalo, New York, police, his skull fractured and blood pouring from his ear.  White people looked at that and thought, "That could be my father...that could be me."  It's called the shock of recognition.  Mr. Gugino's abusers are still "on the job," as police like to say, but after his lawsuit, who knows?    

We should not live in a country where these things depend on the civil courts.


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