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Apocalyptic Perps 'R Us: Saving America For God, Guns, Ashli Babbit and Whatzizname

SAY WHAT? - A scary heads-up: Almost a year after Joe Biden won the election (really, he did) and nine months after thousands of lunatic yahoos threw a tantrum about it at the Capitol, they and their squalid  kingpins are still out there freely raving, lying, browbeating, fantasizing, subpoena-defying and spreading like foul mold. As is often the case, justice has been slowly coming for the low-level reprobates - at least 671 Jan. 6 rioters have been charged in what's officially deemed the Capitol Breach - but their ignoble puppet masters remain disconcertingly untouched by the whole let's-overturn-democracy-and-install-a-mad-king-in-an-insurrection phenomenon, in part because said king has found his role as "Pope of the Church of Perpetual Grievance" works so well with his infamous we-love-the-poorly-educated audience.

Outside the cult bubble, though, the populace's rage simmers. For almost a year, the brave lone voice of New Jersey Rep. Bill Pascrell, 84, has been urging Trump and his enablers be prosecuted for their litany of crimes; last week, he blasted fellow Democrats for lacking the “cogliones” - balls, or "testicular fortitude" - to do the same. And the Internet, for what it's worth, concurs, with many hoping to serve as a prophetic canary in the fetid mine. As #ArrestTrumpNow hashtags and campaigns thrive, commentary ranges from patiently factual - "Yes, it was election tampering. Yes, it was obstruction of justice. Yes, it was conspiracy to commit sedition. No, there is no executive privilege. No, there is no question about the election. No, there is no more time to wait. #ArrestTrumpNow" - to explosively done in: "Get this terrorist fuck off our streets." Josh Marshall echoes the weary  consensus: "Treat Trump Like the Common Perp He Is."

Many of us, of course, don't want to treat him any way, don't want to read, write, think about or otherwise waste any more time or oxygen on his grotesqueries - and you're welcome for no image here. But as Aaron Rupar, who's tirelessly covered the carnage so we don't have to, notes in his new Substack newsletter, "You may be done with Trump. But Trump is not done with you." Like many others, he recognizes the national trauma and fatigue but argues the danger is too great to ignore. So it is that the as-yet-unindicted and woefully  non-incarcerated terrorist fuck is still babbling and whining about executive privilege and Hunter Biden's paintings and "the Crime of the Century." He's also still holding Nazi rallies where idiot hordes wave "Stop the Steal" and "Save America" signs as he spews his  casual racism - Haitians have AIDS, Afghan refugees are terrorists. Following his tawdry lead, meanwhile, his lackeys likewise give a collective, defiant middle finger to the quaint notion of accountability for their crimes. To date, of the four subpoenas issued by the House Jan. 6 Committee - to Mark Meadows, Kash Patel, Dan Scavino, Steve Bannon - only the first two are reluctantly "engaging" with the committee. Scavino was just served after evidently hiding for a week because what rule of law, and Bannon, ever the "treasonous tumor," has taken to the air waves to rant about Trump's triumphal return any minute now with 20,000 "shock troops" behind him: "We control this country. We have to start acting like it." Actually, says most of America, we have to #EnforceTheSubpeonas and, adds Jamie Raskin, put this arrogant shmuck in jail.

Alas, even if that happens there's still a whole lotta crazy out here. Much of it boasts an apocalyptic, hallucinatory melding of God, guns, paranoia and anti-vax End Times; its bonkers cognitive dissonance is exquisitely manifest by a Georgia billboarddepicting the pussy-grabbing if messianic King of Grifters with the (misattributed), “Unto us a son is given and the government shall be upon his shoulders.” Its ungodly juxtaposition mirrors this weekend's Rod Of Iron Freedom Festival, a right-wing Mooniegala organized by the "church" founder's sons - Justin Moon, who runs a semi-automatic gun company, and Hyung Jin Sean Mooa, who runs Rod of Iron Ministries, a cult offshoot that worships with AR-15s to prep for a post-apocalyptic future. The good reverend wears a crown of gold AR-15 bullets and bears a gold-plated AR-15; his patriotic congregants wear metal crowns and come packing, better to fulfill Jesus' prophesy the faithful "shall rule (with) a rod of iron."

That holy locked-and-loaded theme dominated the festival: The NRA's Dana Loesch was keynote speaker - Steve Bannon came in 2nd; events included a machine gun shoot, Trump AR-15 giveaway, and Concealed Carry Fashion Show; seminars in the Freedom Tent ranged from "More Guns Less Crime" to "The Theft of Manhood" to "Mental Dynamics of Target Shooting." Of course the sect's guns, guts and glory mania resonates for the coup-dreaming, five-time-draft dodger, who gave a speech at their 9/11 "Rally of Hope" (as have Pence and Pompeo); in turn, Rev. Sean campaigned for Trump and organized members to attend the Jan. 6th Capitol festivities. Given that Moon has already declared himself messianic "King of the Second Kingship of the Kingdom of God" once America falls, however, the future of their partnership remains unclear.

Still, the needy former guy will always have the "Texas Loves Ashli Babbitt" rally, also held this weekend to celebrate the life of a stubbornly delusional veteran and, in his words, "truly incredible person" who struggled to keep up her pool supply business while feverishly posting QAnon conspiracy theories online until, stupidly convinced and then betrayed by MAGA lies, she was senselessly killed breaking into the Capitol as part of a mob trying to overturn this country's electoral process. Marking what would have been the domestic terrorist's 36th birthday, friends and family gathered at a country club in Freeport, Texas to condemn her death, even though federal investigators found it was justified, and to sing her praises, literally. "She went to Washington to help us see the light, like the millions that also heard the call," sang organizer Al Manica. "But the Democrats that took our love away, you know they shot her, they shot her down. Pelosi. Schumer. Harris. Buh-buh-buh-Biden." "They squashed the movement that day," said Babbit's mother. "Fuck off and die, Nancy Pelosi!" Future secessionists invited Babbitt's family to join a new no-abortion-and-lotsa guns nation of Texas, and pastor Edward Smith prayed to "stand our ground to be the lions and lionesses you ask us to be." Finally, taking a page from Hitler, the failed fuhrer appeared in a fuzzy video to declare it was his "great honor" to address the seven people assembled to "cherish the memory of Ashli Babbtt." Reading robot-like from his script, he assured them "her memory will live on in our hearts for all time" and lamented the day she was shot and killed for "no reason." He also offered "great sympathy" to Ashli's husband and mother, who are "great people," ending with, "Happy Birthday Ashli." Then, like a bad Rod Serling dream, airless, eerie, insane fade-out. Please. 

(Abby Zimet has written CD's Further column since 2008. A longtime, award-winning journalist, involved in women's, labor, anti-war, social justice and refugee rights issues.)