One Must Imagine Charlie Brown Happy

Why do Republicans and other fascists attack exactly where they themselves are weakest? Exploring DARVO tactics of narcissist bullies. 1 of 2

One Must Imagine Charlie Brown Happy
This time for sure.

Update 1: Hey kids! I think we're finally totally moved off of Substack! Everything ought to be seamless and there's nothing for you the reader to do. I'll still be cross-posting over there (for now at least), so if you like to use the Substack app to read these essays, you still can in full knowledge that they aren't getting any revenue.

Update 2: This 'un is another long 'un, so I split it into two pieces. Part 2 tomorrow and another LOST post not long after.

OK? OK. On with the show.

At the U.S./Mexico border right now, Republicans are defending their self-declared right to make themselves feel safe by murdering refugee men, women, and children, which they are doing by catching them in rivers with razor wire and drowning them, and by forcing them into the desert to perish from the elements, and by herding them into concentration camps, and so forth, and they’re using as rationale a once-fringe Nazi conspiracy theory they are promoting, and many of them—elected officials, not rank-and file fringe weirdos out in flypaper-window hermit shacks—have indicated that, since the courts have ruled that they aren’t allowed to do this, mostly because the Constitution clearly (and sanely) gives the federal government control over the national border, they are no longer going to participate in our shared government, and if anybody wants to stop them, then they—again, elected Republican officials—are more than willing to murder their fellow Americans in a new civil war in order to protect their perceived right to commit crimes against humanity that they insist are not crimes as long as they are the ones committing them. They’re framing it all as self-defense, as if they, the ones eager to murder both foreigners and fellow citizens, are the ones in danger, and the rest of us, the people who they are eager to murder, are the danger.

They’re also very strongly opposed to antisemitism, they’ll tell you, whenever they aren’t promoting their Nazi conspiracy theory, or sometimes while they're promoting it.

Yikes! When I put it that way, it kind of sounds biased. I’d hate to be biased. I should probably unpack these claims further.

But first, for rhetorical effect, let me pretend I’m changing the subject. Let’s back it up twenty years to take a real luxurious look at the history of Republican / conservative bad faith and Democratic accommodation of the same.

I remember in 2004, when John Kerry received the Democratic nominee for president; specifically, I remember thinking it was all over for the Republicans. George W. Bush had dodged the draft, after all, and John Kerry was a decorated veteran of the Vietnam War. The Republicans weren’t going to be able to run on national defense or bravery in combat or any of the other stuff they usually liked to utilize in order to drum up support with conservative voters for whom these were the Biggest Deals. After all, conservative voters say they greatly value physical and moral bravery and military service on behalf of the country. And whatever you think of the Vietnam War (to me it’s pretty clear that it was a global crime on the part of the United States), serving in it when you probably could have gotten out of it—as Kerry did—requires a certain amount of physical bravery, even if his reasons were misguided; moreover, testifying against it once he’d realized that his reasons were misguided—which Kerry also did—suggests a powerful sense of moral bravery. Meanwhile, finding a way to skip the war because your family is wealthy and powerful—which is what Bush did—is understandable, but it certainly doesn’t require moral or physical bravery and it certainly doesn’t reflect a sense of service to one’s nation. So it was clear to me that Republicans were screwed. They were going to have to try to run against their candidate’s weakness, and they’d have nowhere to run, so all the people who cared about all that sort of stuff as the Biggest Deal would obviously pick the guy who had bona fides in that area over the guy who didn’t.

That’s what I actually thought. I actually believed Republicans believed in the things they said they believed in.

You can laugh at me if you want to; I’ll join you. It’s funny in a sort of slapstick way, like watching a guy step on a rake because he’s not watching where he’s going, or a guy trying to kick a football you know is getting pulled away.

So that was yesteryear. Now let’s look at thisteryear.

I’m publishing a book of essays called Very Fine People: Confessions of an American Fool, and my readership is helping me do that. If you want the details on how you can get in on that and get a signed copy and my thanks in the acknowledgements section of the book, click this link.

These days we’re told that the president, whose name is Joe and who is is quite old as human beings go, is quite old. This is very observably true. It’s safe to say that fifteen or twenty years from now we won’t have Joe Biden to kick around anymore, though I suppose he may surprise us all. Jimmy Carter sure has. And we’re told this almost ad infinitum, even while being told that nobody is allowed to talk about it. And we’re talking about it the most right now in particular specifically because a Republican special prosecutor, Robert Hur, who the Attorney General appointed in order to investigate some rather specious accusations of Biden wrongdoings, didn’t find much evidence of the wrongdoing that there hadn’t been much evidence for in the first place, and so he larded his findings with reports of the president not being able to recall things under deposition, which happens to be the setting where people are most likely to be cautious about recalling things, and immediately everyone was dancing to Hur's tune.

I think this topic is fine when taken in a vacuum. I mean, we want our presidents to be able to remember things, especially important things, and age is a major factor in people not being able to do that, so if there is evidence that the president is unfit it's a concern. And despite what certain people in Democratic camps might think, it is perfectly valid and even vitally important to critique our leaders, and they won’t explode into a thousand tiny glass shards if we do, or at least they shouldn’t, and if they do then that’s a problem in and of itself. So why wouldn’t we all talk about it, ad infinitum? It seems important, no?

Maybe so. But also there are many other reasons to critique this president, whose name (I believe I mentioned) is Joe and who is (I believe I mentioned) quite old, and also his last name is Biden in case you hadn't heard.¹ What I notice is that this appears to be the specific topic that the Republican special prosecutor, and I’d infer Republicans generally, would like us to all be talking about, which I’d say is probably why Hur, who was appointed to investigate something else for which there appeared to be little rationale, decided to try to change the subject.

This is interesting, because the Republicans’ nominee, whose name I can’t quite recall right now but who is under I think 91? counts of federal and state crimes, is also a very elderly man, and one who has been babbling nonsense as though his marbles aren’t all in his bag for well over a decade now. So it would seem as if the Republicans, who we know act in fathomless bad faith, want us all to be talking specifically about Biden specifically on a topic where they themselves are also most vulnerable.

It’s probably a good idea to think about why that might be.

I’ve stressed that Hur is the Republican special prosecutor, because I find that fact relevant. Hur was appointed by Biden’s Attorney General—a man whose name seems made up but it’s not; it really is "Merrick Garland." Merrick Garland’s soap-opera-ready name first rose to my attention when Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died unexpectedly while on a hunting trip. The hunting trip was one of those retreats that we’ve now learned wealthy fascist Christian billionaires have spent decades lavishing upon the conservative Supreme Court justices whose increasingly unhinged judgments form the foundation of the decades-long conservative plot to undo our pluralistic modern society and replace it with a supremacist corporatist christofascist autocracy run by and for billionaires and creepy puritan Christian religious weirdos, and maybe it seems like I’m going off-topic, but you have to trust me that once you start pulling on the thread of conservative bad faith you inevitably notice that it makes its way through the entire national sweater. But I’ve probably gone far enough afield for now, so let me roll the yarn back onto the spool.

I had been talking about Merrick Garland. Merrick was nominated as Scalia’s replacement by then-President Barack Obama in the final year of Obama’s second term. Merrick is a pretty conservative dude, with a record that suggested he was going to side with conservatives on several matters particularly those relating to police impunity and brutality. He was put up by Obama as a sop to Republicans, who were stating they wouldn’t even hold hearings for any nominee that Obama put up for consideration, because it just wasn’t fair that a president should make such an appointment in an election year, not before the voters had a say, especially since any appointment made by Obama, who was in no way a socialist, was certain to be an appointment of a radical socialist.

Obama decided to treat the Republicans—whose Senate leader, Mitch McConnell, had gone on TV on the first day of Obama’s first term to say that his only goal was making Obama fail—as if their complaints were offered in good faith, believing that voters would note his willingness to play ball and credit him for good faith, and ding Republicans for bad faith (or maybe it was because Obama, a relatively conservative guy, genuinely wanted to nominate a conservative guy). In other words, Obama decided to nominate the kind of guy who Republicans would normally like or even adore, if they actually cared about the sorts of things they say they care about. Checkmate, Republicans!

But LOL, as the kids say.² The Republicans declined to give conservative guy Merrick Garland a hearing, because they already had what they wanted. Obama had validated their bullshit framing, which anyone paying attention knew it was bullshit. Maybe he thought that he would be exposing the fact that Republicans are full of shit, and I guess he did … but that’s not the primary effect appeasing fascist bullies has, practically speaking. The main effect was to make it clear that everyone including Obama agreed with the Republican premise that appointees to the court are only valid if they are conservative appointees, and also that Republicans, who work tirelessly to make voting harder and who have trouble winning the popular vote, are actually concerned about the will of the voters.

And I’m sure they appreciated that validation, as they went ahead and did what they were always going to do anyway, which was to frame Obama’s appointee—conservative guy Merrick Garland—as unacceptably socialist. And then years later, when their guy had a chance to appoint somebody in the month before an election, they did that, too, because they pretty obviously never cared about their excuse for refusing Obama.

And a month after that, Joe Biden won the election, and before too long he appointed Merrick Garland as Attorney General. This perhaps shouldn’t be surprising, because Biden like Garland is a pretty conservative guy. What is perhaps a bit more surprising is that a lot of people who don’t consider themselves conservative cheered the appointment, because the effect of Obama having nominated conservative guy Merrick Garland was to frame him to people not paying much attention as the new vanguard of the left; even though he was actually a conservative guy, he was someone the Republicans opposed, after all. The clearly observable truth is that Republicans never gave a shit about Garland political leanings any more than they gave a shit about the voice of the voters, or socialism, or anything else other than establishing that they are the only people who are allowed to wield any sort of power.

And Garland has spent a lot of his time validating this conservative position. For example, he validated the conservative position that only Republican presidents deserve special consideration in criminal case, by taking a very long time before pressing charges against old what’s-his-name—you know, the pretend billionaire reality star … ah, yes, Donald Trump!—even though most of Trump’s crimes had been flagrant and public. And he did this while acting relatively quickly to appoint a special counsel to investigate considerably less founded and matching Republican accusations against Biden.

The accusations involved misappropriation of classified documents, which was already something that Trump had been caught doing with some of the most sensitive documents imaginable, including ones involving nuclear secrets. Evidence of Trump's crimes were plentiful and even included Trump boasting about his right to commit them. So Republicans were simultaneously claiming that Trump had the right to do all the crimes he had done while also claiming that despite the clear evidence that he had done these crimes, he hadn't actually done any of them even though he had the right to do them, while also claiming based on scant evidence that Biden was just as guilty as Trump if not more so and that he should be prosecuted for these crimes that they say are not crimes when Trump does them, and Merrick Garland validated all this posturing as if it were in good faith, by dragging his feet on prosecuting Trump’s evidence-rich alleged crimes and acting quickly on Biden’s evidence-poor alleged ones.

And Garland appointed a Republican to investigate Biden. This is common practice among Attorneys General appointed by Democratic presidents when appointing special investigators to investigate that Democratic president, by the way. A prosecutor from the opposition party is appointed in these cases, specifically to avoid the appearance of bias that a member of the president's own part would represent. When Attorneys General appointed by Republican presidents appoint special prosecutors to investigate those presidents, incidentally, they also appoint Republicans or independents, and for the same reason—to avoid the appearance of bias that a member of the opposition party would represent. And so is validated the Republican belief that only investigations conducted by Republicans can be free of bias, and that the only bias that is unacceptable is bias that fails to benefit Republicans.

And I’m sure Republicans appreciate all this validation, which may come because Democrats want to try to gain the support of people who don't support them and think that the method that has never worked will work at last, or maybe it's because they truly believe Republicans have a more valid right to power. It's hard to tell, but eventually you do wonder how many times the same people are going to run into poles because they weren't looking where they were going, or how many times they're going to kick the football before you realize that trying and failing to kick a football is something they must enjoy; something fine about the feeling of emptiness where the foot was expecting resistance, something freeing about the sensation of flying through the air, something satisfying about the solid THUD that one's back makes when it comes crashing yet again to earth. One must imagine Charlie Brown happy.

And this is all interesting, because I think I mentioned that the Republicans’ nominee is being charged with the exact crime for which Republicans demanded a Republican be appointed to investigate Biden, and the evidence against him is compelling and overwhelming. So it would seem as if the Republicans want us to be talking specifically about Biden specifically in a place where Republicans themselves are most vulnerable.

And, to bring this all the way back to the start of the thread, the Republican prosecutor—who as might be expected given that the accusations against Biden were offered in as much bad faith as every other bit of Republican rhetoric—didn’t find much. But he did decide to see if he could change the conversation to the topic of age and fitness—another place where Republicans are also most vulnerable.

And again, it’s probably a good idea to consider why that might be.

Why is it that conservatives accuse precisely where they are most guilty?

Why is it that with conservatives every accusation is a confession?

To answer, I'd like to go back to where we started. Let’s talk about the border, where I’m told there is a crisis—an invasion, in fact.

Let's do it in Part 2.

See you tomorrow.

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A.R. Moxon is the author of The Revisionaries, which is available in most of the usual places, and some of the unusual places, and the upcoming essay collection Very Fine People, which you can learn about how to support right here. He is also co-writer of Sugar Maple, a musical fiction podcast from Osiris Media which goes in your ears. He still only travels by foot and by foot it's a slow climb, but he's good at being uncomfortable so he can't stop changing all the time.

¹ His middle name is “Robinette,” and I don’t know what the hell is going on there.

² The kids no longer say this.