Verrrrry Interesting…. But Not Legal!

In Anglophone countries it is said that there is an ancient Chinese curse, customarily related as “May you live in interesting times.” Like many things commonly believed in many societies, and like many aphorisms believed to be of a reputed origin in many languages, there is no actual evidence to support such an assertion. No archeologist has ever found an ancient Chinese inscription expressing that sentiment, no scholar of ancient Chinese has ever seen it written anywhere, and today, nobody in China goes around cursing anyone with a phrase in any Chinese dialect that translates into English as anything remotely resembling that sentiment. It has no more to do with China than German chocolate cake has to do with Germany.
Why then, do English speakers in Great Britain and her former colonies attribute this saying to the Chinese? The semantics and semiotics involved in the thought expressed provide a likely explanation. To say, “May you live in interesting times” is to express animus in a highly ironic manner. The true meaning, symbolism and intent of the phrase are swathed in multiple layers of content requiring iterative interpretation in order to arrive at what the speaker is really saying. The phrase is therefore at once convoluted, erudite and inscrutable, implying both immutable and base flaws in the person to whom it is directed and providing trenchant comment on both that individual’s place in the human condition and their eventual fate. Such an achievement is obviously the product of a high degree of intelligence and a subtle and very sophisticated mind, and consequently, it is something which, in the estimation of a typical Englishman or American, a Chinese person would say. Because, despite all the negative stereotypes that Anglophones, from Toronto to Sydney to Cape Town to London to Los Angeles espouse about the Chinese, their one common perception is that they all find the Chinese to be brilliantly clever and frighteningly indirect. To such Round Eyes, then, “May you live in interesting times” sounds exactly as they imagine an angry Chinese person would express themselves to someone richly deserving what’s coming to them.
And last Friday, to be sure, feminists all over America found themselves living in interesting times, indeed, because that was when the Supreme Court of the United States overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark constitutional law case that legalized termination of pregnancies at a women’s discretion during the first trimester thereof. Their reaction was, predictably, of volcanic, yea, even seismic proportions, commensurate, one might say, to the worst case of PMS ever recorded – truly an 11.9 on the Richter Scale of female rage. Which is rather puzzling if one examines, dispassionately, what transpired during the forty-nine years, five months and two days that elapsed between January 22, 1973 and June 24, 2022.
As soon as the people who disapproved of abortion learned of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, they began to organize and acquire allies to their cause. They formed networks of like-minded individuals, they created and distributed propaganda promoting their point of view, they backed politicians who agreed with them, they executed a directed strategy to appoint federal judges who favored their interpretation of the Constitution, they founded the Federalist Society, for Christ’s sake. And as a result, they managed to change the composition of the Supreme Court from a panel of distinguished, insightful, brilliant sages of jurisprudence into a pathetic parody of itself, a kangaroo court, a Star Chamber, a lawyer’s clown circus dominated by five gibbering baboons in black robes who interpret the United States Constitution in 2022 using eighteenth century dictionaries and the Bible. All right, I know, Dear Reader – that was out of line. I hereby apologize to baboons for comparing them to Supreme Court Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. Baboons have many positive characteristics, including empathy, common sense, a conscience, and consistent reasoning capabilities, all qualities obviously lacking in those five atavistic primate monstrosities so arrogantly destroying the freedoms and rights it took two and a third centuries for Americans to win. So, sorry about that, baboons, I was speaking metaphorically.
And what did the feminists do during those forty-nine years, five months and two days? They had their abortions and continued their careers in places such as America’s universities, where, secure in the knowledge that Roe v. Wade was “settled law” and that the rights established by that ruling would endure in perpetuity, they occupied themselves with other things, such as making sure that everyone’s speech in this great American Republic conformed to their ideas of political correctness, and that undergraduates copulate in accordance with strict protocols of communication ensuring consent to each intimate action under conditions of sober and dispassionate evaluation of the potential consequences. During that period, nearly a half century long, the feminists also worked hard to ensure continued advancement of women’s rights by making sure everybody knew the Feminists’ Ten Essential Facts: Number One – Men are to blame for all the world’s problems. Number Two – Women are vastly more intelligent than men. Number Three – If women ran the world, there wouldn’t be any more wars, economic crises, epidemics, famines, or natural disasters. Number Four – Men are basically rapists and can’t be trusted. Number Five – Men are responsible for our patriarchal society and its gender inequality, so it’s perfectly all right to lie to, cheat and steal from them. Number Six – Men are insensitive and violent and should not be allowed to raise children. Number Seven – In any heterosexual relationship, in reparation for centuries of repression, all the property acquired by the couple belongs to the woman. Number Eight – Because men are basically evil, it’s perfectly legal to commit perjury in divorce court and tell the judge anything you care to make up about them, especially accusing them of sex crimes. Number Nine – Men are inept erotic brutes who don’t understand what women want or need. Number Ten – Women have better orgasms with other women anyway, so if you’re a woman you might as well marry another one, and let’s make same-sex marriage legal and get the sperm we need from gay men with turkey baster parties, and once we get this cloning thing down, we won’t even need the turkey basters anymore and we can get rid of men entirely, permanently and forever.
For some reason, however, despite those and similar efforts, there was no Equal Rights Amendment to the US Constitution. And not much else in the way of advancing women’s rights either. And now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned, perhaps we might consider: could this spectacular lack of progress since 1973 be the result of all that feminist activism, rather than such progress having failed to occur in spite of it? Might fifty years of ranting and raving about the alleged evils, inadequacies and flaws of the masculine gender have driven away potential allies, thwarted attempts to form supportive networks, and muted potentially positive messages in favor of women’s rights? Could the reaction to such vilification and demonization of men perhaps have stifled the founding of enabling organizations, the election of sympathetic politicians, and the appointment of qualified federal judges unfettered by the fevered nonsense of radical ideologies? Could it be that feminism isn’t really the best thing that could have happened to the women’s rights movement in America? Is feminism, in fact, merely a form of fascism that has, more or less by default, attached itself to the American Left? Could it be that feminism actually has nothing to do with the genuine struggle for women’s rights? Whatever answers history may eventually provide to those questions, there is absolutely no question that as of last Friday, we all are now living in interesting times.
Some decidedly more interesting than others, to be sure, such as those times currently lived in by the array of miscreants involved in the various conspiracies to violate federal election statutes, obstruct Congress, defraud the federal government, engage in sedition and commit treason surrounding the Trump crime family’s attempt to nullify legitimate elections, seize power and establish a dictatorship in the United States. I have been, frankly, besieged by them for quite some time, all imploring me for ideas as to how they might escape the various and sundry consequences of their misguided actions. They are a woeful bunch, to be sure, the repercussions of their evil deeds assailing them from every direction. They are like feral animals caught in a fatal hail storm: they cannot run from it, they cannot hide from it and they cannot make it stop.
The latest such example involved one Jeffrey B. Clark, of Lorton, Virginia (and given that information, which has been published everywhere on the Internet by now, anyone can Google, Qwant, DuckDuck or Dogpile his exact address, telephone number, and the names of all his family members, BTW). He is, I am pretty sure, at one hundred invocations, a champion of sorts having recently broken the congressional record for cloaking himself in the protections provided against self-incrimination by the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution during recent testimony given before the January 6 Select Committee. (This does not, of course, come anywhere near the redoubtable heights reached by Eric Trump, who took the fifth more than five hundred times during his testimony in the ongoing investigation of the Trump Organization by the New York Attorney Generals Office, but it’s a state matter, and a civil one at that, so not quite in the same category – rather like a AAA baseball league batting average versus the real thing in MLB. In both cases, however, I would note Eric’s father’s famous statement that if people take the Fifth, they are probably guilty of something. How about guilty of one hundred things? Or five hundred?) At this point, my home telephone number having been handed around among panicked banana-Republicans on Capitol Hill like that of a compliant and discrete intern looking for a well-paid position at the RNC, I didn’t even bother to ask who gave it to him when he called me at my home in Great Falls, Virginia, on Sunday afternoon.

Tom: Hello?
Clarke: Tom Collins?
Tom: This is he.
Clark: Mr. Collins – may I call you Tom? This is Jeffrey B. Clark.
Tom: Yes, you may, and my Caller ID confirms your identity.
Clark: It does?
Tom: Certainly.
Clark: Um… I didn’t know that was possible.
Tom: I understand you didn’t know that the FBI has dogs trained to sniff out electronic equipment, either.
Clark: Uh, yeah, that was a bit of a surprise.
Tom: Huh – some Attorney General of the United States you would have made.
Clark: What the heck? Do you talk to all your clients like that?
Tom: Since when are you my client?
Clark: Oh, I mean, gee, I’m sorry, Tom, I didn’t mean to offend, it’s just you’re being so… confrontational, and I…
Tom: You know what I was doing this fine Sunday afternoon when you called me?
Clark: No, of course not. What was that?
Tom: I was enjoying a dry martini, up, made with Sakurao Japanese dry gin, saffron bitters and Lillet blanc, chilled with crushed ice from the Hat Mountain Glacier in British Columbia; stirred, not shaken; waiting for my friend Cerise to arrive for an afternoon of conjugal intimacy. And I assure you, I am going to finish this martini, and when she arrives, this telephone call will immediately end. So yes, even though I know you have loads of money, you are a Republican and therefore a cheapskate and you shall have your free initial consultation, subject to those stipulations. Now, what’s your problem?
Clark: I… that is… the… um… the FBI searched my house on Wednesday morning, as I guess you already know and…
Tom: Of course I know. The whole world knows. What about it?
Clark: Well, since then, my life has been a total nightmare.
Tom: Do tell? No kidding, really? Let me guess: now you, your wife and your children have suddenly become social pariahs and you would like some free advice on how to deal with that by having me come up with some artful spin you can use to mitigate your image problems.
Clark: Ah… well, that would be helpful.
Tom: I suppose I could, but before I do that, may I ask why would you even care?
Clark: What do you mean, why would I care? The FBI raided my house!
Tom: Yeah, so what?
Clark: What do you mean, “So what?” It looks… I don’t know… like I did something… illegal.
Tom: And invoking the Fifth Amendment one hundred times in front of the January 6 Select Committee didn’t look like you did something illegal?
Clark: I’m innocent until proven guilty in a court of law by a jury of my peers! I never did anything illegal!
Twinkle: Liar!
Clark: What was that?
Tom: That was my cat, Twinkle.
Clark: Your cat is there?
Tom: Yes, of course. Twinkle is a house cat, mostly.
Clark: And it talks?
Tom: Yep, she sure does. And, as she just demonstrated, she’s also a very good listener. We’re on speaker, by the way, as you may have deduced.
Clark: Your cat? Talks?
Tom: And listens. Attentively.
Clark: You expect me to believe that?
Tom: I don’t know; do you expect me to believe you’re not a criminal?
Clark: I already told you! I’m completely innocent of any wrongdoing whatsoever!
Twinkle: Bull-[expletive]!
Tom: Yeah, right, sure. So, anyway, yes, it’s true you are technically innocent until you are charged with something and convicted by a jury if you so choose to be tried by one, but this is perceptions we’re talking about here, and, by the way, you still haven’t answered my question. Look, anybody who knows how to do a keyword search and spends more than ten minutes investigating you on the Internet can see plenty of evidence that you’re a completely shameless… shall we say… apple polisher? I’m speaking metaphorically, of course. You know what the guys call you behind your back after a few drinks at the old watering hole, and that’s a metaphor quite a bit… meatier than that, but let’s go with “apple polisher,” as our metaphor, shall we? And that same anybody to whom I just referred will also readily see, in another couple of minutes, that there is also ample indication that you have no morals, no shame, no integrity and no real talent or qualifications for anything but being a shill for powerful, greedy and unprincipled interests. Therefore, I ask again, why should you care if the perception that you’re a completely shameless, amoral, “apple-polishing” phony who is apparently mixed up in something seriously illegal is confirmed by the FBI raiding your house with the K-9 corps in tow?
Clark: Oh, my goodness gracious, how could anyone say such things about me?
Tom: Well, all right, let’s see then: you brown-nosed – again, metaphorically speaking – your way to Harvard and “apple-polished” your way through it getting a degree in history and economics. A couple of obviously easy-A subjects for dilettante ivy-league twits, that’s what those subjects are, and you know it, because if there ever was a dilettante ivy-league twit, you’re him. Parliamentary debate team! That was your claim to fame there? How pathetic can you get? Then, you brown-nosed and apple-polished your way, metaphorically speaking, through a Master of Arts in Urban Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Delaware. Come on, man, how good of a student could you have been at Harvard if all you could manage in the way of graduate school was the University of Delaware? Oh, and then you got a Juris Doctor from Georgetown. You and about half the lawyers who work for the federal government in Washington – big fat, deal, that. And then what, huh? You brown-nosed and “apple polished,” metaphorically speaking, of course, for Judge Danny J. “Lilly White” Boggs in the Sixth Circuit, and he got you a job at Kirkland and Ellis, shilling for big petroleum, shamelessly making excuses in court for their wanton destruction of the environment, such as the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and whoring, metaphorically speaking, for the US Chamber of Commerce, challenging regulations on carbon emissions while the planet is burning up from greenhouse gas warming. All of which, in your scheming, metaphorically brown-nosing, metaphorically “apple-polishing” Harvard-twit mind, subsequently qualified you to become Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Justice Department under that great protector of the environment and natural resources, George W. Bush, in a nauseatingly typical Washington-insider revolving-door career move. That did it right there, mister. I mean, really, if there’s a God and there’s a Hell, He’s sending you to Hell when you die for that, forthwith, counselor, nothing further required, thank you.
Clark: But even murderers deserve zealous legal representation, don’t they? If I didn’t work for Kirkland and Ellis, they’d just find somebody else! And I’m a not brown-nosing apple-polisher, either! I’m an effective communicator and I’m good with people, that’s what I am, by golly! And I’m not a Harvard twit! So don’t call me that!
Tom: Oh, sure. Listen buster, by now, it’s no secret what kind of people Donald J. Trump picks out to work for him and they aren’t “effective communicators,” who are “good with people,” okay? He consistently wants – and he consistently gets – brown-nosing, “apple polishing” (metaphorically, of course) sycophants from whom he  expects nothing less than medieval thralldom, utter obedience and complete submission to his will. And you fit the bill completely, didn’t you? That’s why, in 2017, he picked you to become the United States Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division. Because he knew you could be counted on to prostitute, metaphorically speaking, your prosecutorial discretion as directed by the White House; to stand by and do nothing, to look the other way, to let the most egregious imaginable transgressions against the environment, the ecosystem and the health of the American people be ignored in favor of the highest return on investment possible for corporate shareholders. So much for your vapid cant about even murderers deserving a zealous defense. At DOJ, you were the prosecutor! So tell me, Harvard twit, what’s your high-minded philosophical excuse for that? Straight to Hell, mister, that’s where you were going, long before you got mixed up in Trump’s plot to overthrow the United States government. So I ask again, why should you care what your neighbors think of you, now that your crimes have finally caught up with you and the FBI has raided your house?
Clark: Well, I… that is… uh…
Twinkle : [Expletive]!
Tom: You did such a good job as Trump’s lickspittle lackey in the ENRD, with your brown-nosing and “apple polishing,” metaphorically speaking, when he wanted a stooge to involve the Justice Department with defending him in a defamation case from a plaintiff accusing him of rape, why, you, naturally, were his first choice to become Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division. Congratulations, champion metaphorically brown-nosing, “apple polishing” Harvard twit! And when the other Jeffrey, Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, refused to go along with Trump’s criminal conspiracy to launch a bogus DOJ investigation of Trump’s absurd, false allegations of fraud in the 2022 federal election, why, of course, you were the one he picked to become his new, slavishly compliant, metaphorically brown-nosing, “apple polishing,” sniveling, groveling, obsequious Attorney General of the United States. Right, little ivy-league twit Harvard boy?
Clark: Please… stop… just… stop…
Twinkle: [Expletive]-hole!
Tom: But fortunately, there were some real men, and women, with real guts and real integrity at DOJ who stood up and said that if someone like you, some metaphorically brown-nosing, “apple polishing,” little ivy-league twit Harvard boy, became Attorney General, they would all quit. And that was the only thing that kept it from happening, wasn’t it, little ivy-league twit boy? Did you cry when you didn’t get your big new job, and your chance to destroy two hundred and thirty-three years of democracy in America, you snotty little Harvard-debate-team twit?
Clark: All right! All right! That’s enough! Now tell me! How do I spin this pile of [expletive]?
Tom: Oh, me, oh, my! Such language! Do you metaphorically kiss Donald Trump’s [expletive] with that mouth, you naughty little Harvard boy? Do you, metaphorically speaking, enjoy the metaphorical taste when you metaphorically “polish his apple?” With all those years of metaphorical brown-nosing, I bet you’re a real connoisseur of the metaphorical flavors, eh?
Clark: Do you have any advice, or are you just going to insult me until your girlfriend shows up?
Tom: Oh sure, I have some advice on how to spin that pile of [expletive] you’ve gotten yourself into. The answer is sitting right there in front of you. Don’t ask yourself, “What would Jesus do?” because Jesus would hand you straight over to Satan, for an unending, eternal sentence with no possibility of parole standing on your head in a boiling lake of toxic chemical waste. No, instead, ask yourself, “What would Donald Trump do?”
Clark: All right…What… would… Donald… Trump… do?
Tom: Play the victim. Say it’s a witch hunt. Double down on the situation – claim all that evidence the FBI is going to find was manufactured and forged by the Democrats. Claim the agents who raided your house were all crisis actors. Start a legal defense fund, appealing to MAGA supporters to fight back against the jackbooted hordes of federal government goons in black helicopters with generous contributions to pay your attorneys. In short, go on the offensive with a totally self-righteous attitude and don’t be concerned with saying or behaving rationally, because the secret ingredient in Trump’s magic sauce is that MAGA folks just love it when their heroes behave like lunatics. The worst that could happen would be that you’d have to steal a pile of money from your defense fund, like Trump steals the money those suckers sent him to supposedly contest supposedly fraudulent election results, then jump bail and flee to a country with no extradition treaty with the United States.
Clark: You’re saying do that, as opposed to keeping my mouth shut and taking the Fifth anytime somebody asks me questions I can’t answer truthfully under oath without incriminating myself?
Tom: Yep. Hey, look at it this way, it’s worked pretty good so far for Donald J. Trump, why shouldn’t it work for you? At least then, while all this [expletive] goes on, you’d be able to strut around, beating your chest, proclaiming your complete innocence and daring anyone who says different to be the defendant in some kind of ridiculous spurious lawsuit or another.
Clark: Uh, because, first of all…
Tom: Whoops! Sorry, ivy-league twit, my girlfriend’s here and we’re done. Gotta go. See you in Hell, where I intend to have a high-ranking supervisory position!
Clark: Hey wait! I…
Tom: Call again if you like, but next time, you pay!
Twinkle: Scumbag!
Tom: Bye-bye, Harvard boy!