Last Saturday, as I inevitably predicted in my previous post, forty-three Republican senators voted to acquit former president Donald John Trump of inciting the January 6 insurrection against the United States of America. Their motivations ranged from a jurisdictional argument, espoused after the trial by Senate Minority Leader and Obama-hating Kentucky redneck Mitch McConnell, which held that according to a convoluted hermeneutic analysis of the Constitution, Trump could not be tried by the Senate for his high crimes and misdemeanors after leaving his office as President, despite having been impeached by the House while still there; to the Chuck-You-Farley attitude of Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, an unabashed social Darwinist, who evidently wishes that Trump had, in fact, taken over the federal government in a good old-fashioned fascist coup so he and his buddies on the extreme right could send all the Democrats (not to mention obstreperous Independents like Yours Truly) to be liquidated in good old-fashioned death camps.
It may be noted by my astute international readers that both ends of this philosophical spectrum, ranging from assessing Trump’s conduct as either outside the purview of Congress by virtue of a legal loophole, to thinking that treason committed by the President of the United States is fine and dandy as long as it serves the interests of America nativist Know-Nothings, hail from Kentucky, and this might cause them to wonder, consequently, just what might be in the water there. I would advise them that (a) if you are passing through, and your skin tone is darker than a brown paper bag, do not let the sun set on you in the state of Kentucky, for failing to do so is an even money bet you will not see it rise again; (b) the senators who voted to acquit Trump all subscribed to excuses for doing so that ranged between those of senators McConnell and Rand; (c) those senators represent the states of North Dakota, South Dakota, Idaho, Indiana, Arkansas, Wyoming, Tennessee, Missouri, Texas, Montana, Iowa, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Carolina, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Utah, Ohio, Florida, Alabama and West Virginia; and, (d) do not, under any circumstances, include any of those states on any of your vacation itineraries, either, as the locals tend to marry their close relatives. The resultant inbreeding causes them to be quite gullible, prejudiced and, frankly, stupid, resulting in things such as unquestioning belief in paranoid, atavistic religious doctrines, lunatic conspiracy theories and white supremacy, the wearing of MAGA hats, Klan robes or camouflage with swastikas, carrying automatic weapons with oversized ammunition clips and following the transparently coded instructions of would-be dictators to do things like plan insurrections, commit treason and beat foreign visitors to death.
True to form, Trump responded by proclaiming that, far from this being the end of him, this is just the beginning. Whether he will once again reside in the White House, outraging sane, civilized and decent people everywhere, or at least mount another armed rebellion in an attempt to destroy America’s government and replace it with an hereditary despotic dynasty, now remains largely in the hands of prosecutors in Georgia and New York. For as American jurisprudence would have it, it is now they who have it within their power to bring Donald Trump to justice for violations of their state’s election, securities, fraud and tax laws, the penalties for none of which are subject to federal presidential pardons, whether current, proactive or retroactive, public or secret, solipsistic or otherwise.
And yesterday being Valentine’s Day, it was my hope that Cerise and I might spend some time together enjoying a selection of Pierre Marcolini gran cru chocolates accompanied by bubbling flutes of Louis Roederer Cristal 2004 brut champagne on the couch in the living room of my home in Great Falls, Virginia. And things went rather well, up to a point, as we became quite cozy and amorous watching the colors of the setting sun refract through the ice storm-coated landscape of my front yard. Then my landline rang, and once again, to my dismay, I saw that it was my wayward, misguided survivalist brother-in-law on the line. Being well aware of my family affairs, Cerise merely looked at the Caller ID display, rolled her eyes knowingly and gave me a kiss, playfully pushing an orange coconut ganache into my mouth with a slow languid motion of her velvety tongue.
“Go ahead and answer it,” she whispered seductively as she rolled from astride my torso and curled on the couch between me and my cat, Twinkle, who up to that point had been keeping us company, watching the festivities with intense interest. “Put it on speaker,” Cerise cooed in my left ear, cuddling close as I lifted the receiver with my right hand. “Let’s see what kind of trouble Hank’s gotten himself into this time.”
As it happened, plenty.
Tom: Hello, Hank. Happy Valentine’s Day.
Hank: What? Uh… thanks, Tom. Look, I’m…
Tom: On a day like today, seems to me you would be calling your wife – you know, that woman who’s my sister. She’s named Rose, remember?
Hank: Yeah, yeah, of course I remember. Look, Tom, I’ve got…
Tom: I bet she misses you on Valentine’s Day, Hank. I bet she’s missed you quite a bit, every Valentine’s Day for last – how many years has it been? How many Valentine’s Days, Easters, Christmases and Thanksgivings you and Shannon have been shacked up in the boondocks of West Virginia…
Hank: Tom! We have not been shacked up! I could never shack up with my brother Arthur’s wife! We’ve been preparing for the End Times, you know that! But hey, look, they’re only giving me ten minutes, here, Tom, and…
Tom: They? Who’s “they?”
Hank: It’s like this, Tom – one phone call, ten minutes max, okay? I don’t have time right now to talk about all the work Shannon and I have done to ensure our families’ survival through what’s coming! Listen, Tom, you’re the smartest person I know. You’ve got the connections. You have the bucks. In my situation, I’d be crazy to use my one phone call to speak with anybody but you!
Tom: And what exactly is your situation, may I ask?
Hank: Well, okay, when I called you about Shannon being in the hospital in a coma and all that, I didn’t go into any details about anything else. There wasn’t any time for that. You understand, don’t you?
Tom: Oh, all right, I suppose so. I assume you have time to go into those details now?
Hank: About eight minutes, it looks like.
Tom: In that case, please – detail away.
Hank: Um… okay… I know I called you from West Virginia when we had that telephone conference with Shannon in the hospital and all, but actually, before that, on January 6, I was in Washington DC.
Tom: And you didn’t tell me about it. Hmm… let me guess… you were at the Capitol on January 6.
Hank: Uh, yeah, as a matter of fact, I was.
Hank: Who’s that?
Tom: It’s Cerise. Valentine’s Day, remember? Who else do you think it would be?
Hank: Oh, oh, right. Hi, Cerise.
Hank: Tom, what the hell is the matter with Cerise?
Tom: I don’t know, maybe she feels sorry for my sister Rose and your gaggle of kids out in Fairfax. Seems to me with seven and a half minutes left, you don’t have time to discuss her opinion of you at the moment. Come on, spit it out – what happened? Okay, you were in DC at the Capitol on January 6. Did you breach any of the barricades?
Hank: Well, uh, yeah, I guess. I mean, everybody did.
Tom: So you were present on the Capitol grounds inside the official barricade zone?
Tom: Did you go inside the building?
Tom: Yes, inside. Did you go inside the Capitol building?
Hank: Um… yeah… I went inside.
Tom: Hit any police?
Hank: Uh, no.
Tom: Throw anything at any the police?
Tom: Hit or throw anything at any civilians wearing a Capitol badge or pass?
Tom: Assault or attempt to assault any members of Congress?
Tom: Enter any offices or work areas?
Tom: Steal anything?
Cerise: Then what the [expletive] did you do, [expletive], stand there playing with your [expletive]?
Hank: Playing with my… no, no, of course not! I just kinda, I donno, went with the flow of the crowd.
Cerise: What, you thought it was a [expletive] tour of the Capitol building? You telling us you just wandered around rubbernecking like some fat-[expletive] farmer from the Dubuque Rotarians and Junior Chamber of Commerce visiting his representative in Washington while attending a conference on pork belly production?
Hank: Look, Cerise, when we went down there, we were all gung-ho and stuff…
Tom: We? What do you mean, “we?”
Hank: Me and a bunch other guys… and women… sorry, Cerise… a bunch of my… associates, I guess… from the survival compound.
Tom: A bunch? How many?
Hank: Uh… seven… ah, no… eighteen.
Tom: Nineteen loons from your West Virginia End Times survival compound went to the Capitol together on January 6?
Tom: Any planning involved?
Hank: Um, yeah, plenty.
Tom: Like what?
Hank: Well, everything President Trump told us to do. We got our stuff…
Cerise: Stuff? What kind of stuff?
Hank: Ah, you know… flags, flag poles, baseball bats, bear spray, tasers, guns and ammo, rope, climbing gear, plastic handcuff ties, stuff like that.
Tom: You brought guns and ammo into the Capitol?
Hank: No, not me.
Cerise: What did you have?
Hank: One of the guys gave me a flag pole.
Tom: With what kind of flag?
Hank: Well, at first he suggested a Stars-and-Bars, but I thought maybe that wouldn’t be, you know, appropriate…
Cerise: Appropriate for rebellion against the government of the United States of America? Why the hell not? What could be more appropriate than that?
Hank: Actually, I wanted to carry one of those cool flags with the snake on it.
Tom: The Gadsen flag?
Hank: Is that what it’s called?
Tom: “Don’t Tread On Me?”
Hank: Yeah, yeah, that’s it. I felt like we were all being tread on by Big Government and the Deep State and all, and here I was, bringing that snake to Washington, letting them know it had come to bite ’em.
Cerise: Oh, how very symbolic! Let’s give Hank a gold star in semiotics for that one!
Hank: What’s semiotics?
Tom: Never mind. So you ran into the Capitol with that flag and were more or less caught up in the surge of the crowd inside and then what – you left?
Hank: Yeah, after word went out that Trump had told us we were very special and he loved us and to go home and always remember that day.
Tom: Something tells me you have since acquired numerous other reasons to remember that day as well.
Hank: Yeah… You’re damn right about that, Tom. The FBI came and picked me and four other guys up when we drove into town on the bi-weekly grocery run. They charged two of us with bringing loaded firearms onto a federal facility, three of us with assault and battery of police officers on a federal reservation, two of us with destruction of federal property and one guy with federal property theft. And they charged all of us with illegal trespass of the Capitol grounds and offices. The agent that’s um… handling my case… he’s a nice guy, actually… we talked for a while… he said the other guys are up for some hard time, but maybe I can get off light if I hire a good lawyer. He’s asking me to help him out and tell him what I know about the other guys and who else was with me and where the survival compound is and stuff like that.
Cerise: Proof that the Lord takes care of children and idiots, Hank.
Hank: What the hell do you mean by that?
Tom: She means that the feds want you to roll on your accomplices in return for leniency on your own sentence.
Tom: Give the feds information to create leads for further investigation of those buddies you stormed the Capitol with. Testify against them at their trials. And tell the feds what you know about the activities of other people at your survival compound, naturally. The feds are going to be looking to construct prosecutable cases of criminal conspiracies to overthrow the United States government.
Hank: Conspiracies? Overthrow the government?
Cerise: Hell, yes. What did you and your other confederated bozos think you were doing?
Hank: Uh… ah… we were trying to Stop the Steal, like President Trump told us to. I was there – I heard him – he said we had to fight like hell or we weren’t going to have a country anymore. He said march down to the Capitol and fight like hell.
Tom: Maybe that’s what you thought you heard, but President Trump says different.
Cerise: Don’t you get it, you obtuse, weak-minded pinheaded fool? For years, Trump manipulated you with lies about conspiracies and plots and fairy tales about shadow state organizations that never existed. He fed you strategies, plans and timetables to follow. He called you to Washington with explicit messages to arrive on January 6 and then he whipped you up into a mob, aimed you at the legislative branch of our government and pushed you down Constitution Avenue to do his dirty work for him. And you did. And now that you have served your purpose, he’s done with you, and he’s throwing you under the [expletive] bus! Trump goes Scott free – and you and your buddies get arrested by the FBI!
Hank: But the election was rigged! Trump said so!
Cerise: And I’d say it’s damn good thing Shannon was in a [expletive] coma on January 6, or Tom would be hearing this pathetic story from both of you!
Hank: Oh, come on, Cerise! Stop the Steal was all over Facebook and Twitter and Reddit and [expletive]! It was everywhere! And President Trump was everywhere, telling everyone to get ready to do something big to take our country back! It was all anybody was talking about at the compound. He was the Commander in Chief! We were only doing what he ordered us to do!
Cerise: Tell it to the judge, you whining, simpering, half-wit sucker!
Hank: Gee, Cerise, you sure know how to hurt a guy.
Tom: Perhaps she’s a bit harsh, Hank, but I couldn’t have said it better myself. So, all right then, how much bail do you need?
Hank: Fifty thousand. I asked for a lawyer, Tom, and they gave me this kid who didn’t even remember my name right! He was representing like twelve people at the arraignment, and…
Tom: Okay, for starters, that’s way too high for a trespass charge. They’re doing that to shake you up, that’s all. I’m sure one of the attorneys I know can get that knocked down to five grand or even less. And I’ll tell you what – you agree to give up this crazy stuff you and Shannon have been up to since Obama was president, and you agree to return to Fairfax and get a job and move back in with your wife – that’s my sister Rose, Hank – and at least try to convince Shannon to do the same thing and come back to your brother Arthur, and I will not only cover the bail, but the legal fees necessary to get you off with probation and no jail time.
Hank: Uh… okay… I guess I don’t have much choice, do I?
Tom: You certainly do not, there’s absolutely no doubt about that. And there are two other conditions. Number One, you have to cooperate completely with the federal authorities.
Hank: That’s going to be tough, Tom.
Cerise: Not anywhere near as tough as doing time in a federal penitentiary, bird brain!
Tom: She’s right about that, Hank. You want to stay out of jail, you better be ready to sing like a canary.
Hank: Jesus Christ, Tom! One of these guys saved my life a couple of years ago!
Tom: It’s like they say, Hank, you don’t have to outrun the bear, you just have to outrun the other guy the bear is chasing. It’s you or him, and obviously, the feds consider him the bigger fish. Maybe he’s in the Oath Keepers or something?
Hank: Proud Boys.
Tom: Okay, well then, there you go. You testify against him and they get him to roll on the people that planned the attack on the Capitol – who knows? Maybe it will go all the way up to your supposed Commander in Chief. That’s what they’re looking for. Don’t stand in their way and be a chump twice over.
Hank: Um, yeah, all right.
Tom: Okay, and Number Two: you have to pay me back the bail bond percentage I will have to put up to get you out of jail and all of the legal fees I will have to pay to get you off. No rush, though – I know this isn’t going to be cheap, so we can take a few years to do it, and I won’t charge you any interest.
Hank: You’re a saint, Tom.
Cerise: I’d say, if we’re talking about years to pay back the money, Tom should get interest equivalent to at least the CPI rate of inflation.
Tom: This is family, hon. It wouldn’t be right. No interest.
Hank: Yeah, sure, I agree. I agree to everything. They put me in a cell with this big black guy who’s in for murdering an undercover cop in a ten million dollar dope deal. I can’t spend time with guys like that, Tom. Actually, I can’t spend time locked up anywhere, what with the Tribulations coming any day now, and…
Hank: What… what was that?
Tom: My cat. She has a word or two to say, occasionally.
Hank: You cat talks?
Tom: She’s smarter than a lot of people I know. Now, you’ve got what, ninety seconds left?
Hank: Something like that.
Tom: Good. I’m going to switch you to voice mail. Leave all the details about where you are on that.
Hank: Okay. Thanks, Tom.
Tom: You’re welcome. Now don’t back out on our deal, okay?
Hank: I won’t Tom. Thanks again, I mean it. Thanks.
Tom: Fine. Keep out of any more trouble. Good bye.