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SAY WHAT? - Coinciding with Senate hearings finally, tentatively underway to close the "stain on the moral fiber of America" - among, it must be said, many, many others - that is Guantánamo Bay, a new documentary was just released chronicling the life, incarceration, abuse and CIA-decreed fate "he will remain incommunicado for the remainder of his life" of Abu Zubaydah, widely deemed "patient zero for the CIA’s torture program." This week's hearings, "Closing Guantánamo: 20 Years of Injustice," brought back to the discomfiting limelight the reality of the barbarous, "most expensive prison on Earth," where, at $13 million a wretched head, 39 men and boys out of almost 800 held over two decades remain rotting there with no due process, despite two-thirds having never been charged with a crime and almost a quarter cleared to leave.

Advocates argue the abiding presence of this "human rights atrocity," emblematic of America's deeply immoral, hubris-driven Forever Wars and denounced even by survivors of those killed on 9/11, is also a  reminder of America's other, longtime, oft-denied crimes reflecting the hard truth  that "racialized/colonial torture and liberal democracy are not strangers (and) Western human rights do not easily include those deemed not to be white." Within that historic context, Oscar-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney's "The Forever Prisoner," released this week on HBO, offers a grim parable for "how the rule of law was upended" in a betrayal of alleged ideals that asks, "Are we prepared to abandon our principles in order to defend them?"

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                                                                                                                            SAY WHAT? - Kentucky Really Knows How To Pick 'Em Dept: Last week, days after the Oxford school shooting, Rep. Thomas Massie reached a foul new low in the GOP's race to the bottom and basest when he posted an incendiary "holiday" photo showing him and his pasty, vacuous, glassy-eyed, Stepford-smiling spawn and wife all holding hefty weapons of war - he hoists a $69,000 M60 belt-fed machine gun, the others have Uzis and assault rifles, each worth many times what Kamala Harris' infamous French cookware cost - with the caption, "Merry Christmas! P.S: Santa, please bring ammo" to prove he won't let a silly little thing like a few dead kids in Michigan, not yet buried, stop him from owning the libs. "And wow, I didn't just kick a hornet's nest, I aggravated every hornet in the world," he later gloated, like a bratty 10-year-old who'd put a whoopee cushion on his homeroom teacher's chair and rushed to happily tell his leering little buddies about it after an hour in the principal's office, for some reason referencing Ghostbusters en route. "I crossed guns with family and Christmas, and those are three things that really could trigger the leftists, and I didn't realize that it would be such an explosive cocktail when you put it together. But it adds up to freedom."

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SAY WHAT? - In Michigan, the freakish, all-American horror and anguish of the latest slaughter of children by children continues to unspool after the Oxford High School shooting, which left four dead and eight wounded. On Saturday, wayward parents James and Jennifer Crumbley were found hiding in an industrial building after going on the lam, charged with four counts each of involuntary manslaughter, and held on $1 million bail; if they manage to post bail, they will have to wear ankle monitors because, noted prosecutor Karen McDonald at their arraignment,

“These are not people that we can be assured are going to return to court on their own.” These are also evidently not people you should trust to take care of your pet fish, or otherwise display the barest modicum of decency or smarts. Four days before the massacre, they bought their 15-year-old son Ethan an early (and, as a minor, illegal) Christmas present: a 9mm Sig Sauer handgun. Ethan went with James to buy it; he boasted about his "new beauty" on Instagram that night; the next day, his mom proudly posted a picture of the gun with, “Mom & son day testing out his new Xmas present." Mom had already evinced she wasn't the sharpest tool in the shed: She had an arrest record for minor offenses - DUI, passing bad checks - and she wrote a gushing, rambling 2016 open letter to Trump for "making history," though he "sucked at debating" - "I like that you have failed." Declaring, "I have NEVER had this much belief in one person," she hopes he'll cure cancer - "You're the one to do it" - and supports the wall but isn't racist "because my grandfather came right off the boat in (sic) Italy...What makes me sick is people that come here from other countries and get free everything." Thanking him for "my right to bear arms," she signs off with, "A hard working Middle Class Law Abiding Citizen who is sick of getting fucked in the ass and would rather be grabbed by the pussy." James chimed in on Facebook: "My wife can be spot on. Sometimes."

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SAY WHAT? - Earlier this month, the United States was for the first time demoted to the status of a "backsliding" democracy by global think tank International IDEA, which cited a “visible deterioration” of our civil liberties and checks on government indicating "serious problems with the fundamentals of democracy.” (Thanks Josh Hawley, right-wing media, MAGA insanity, all the perpetrators of hoax claims and all the blithe defenders of creeping fascism.) Amidst that bleak progression, the wingnut war on (alas, often unlovely) reality goes on apace. These days, its frenzied battles are increasingly fought in schools - all those wee malleable minds to shape! - where right-wing targets have morphed from masks and mandates to (imaginary) CRT to, in fine totalitarian tradition, books, ranging from "pornographic" (queer) to "divisive" (historical) to "communist" (whatever makes right-wingers uncomfortable).

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SAY WHAT? - For Thanksgiving, two modest steps toward a justice devoutly to be wished: Ahmaud Arbery's killers go down, and after a landmark, month-long civil trial, a federal jury has found two dozen neo-Nazi, white supremacist and other squalid groups of "very fine people" liable for over $26 million in damages for race-related violence against nine plaintiffs in 2017's infamous Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville. The rally, dubbed Woodstock for Fascists, saw a ragged, ugly coalition of white nationalists descend on the University of Virginia that August, with tiki-torch-bearing white goons in khakis and polos screaming "Jews will not replace us" and hurling their torches at anyone who disagreed.

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SAY WHAT? - Hoping an(other) almost-all-white jury would like them be "very scared" to see fearsome black man Ahmaud Arbery jogging down the street in placid Satilla Shores, defence attorneys for the three good-ole-boys who shot Arbery down like a dog last year spent Monday unspooling closing statements so incendiary, vituperative, nonsensical and staggeringly racist they drew gasps in the courtroom, where spectators had already heard a lot.

They'd heard prosecutors demolish claims by the defendants - Greg and Travis McMichael and their neighbor William 'Roddie Bryan - that they suspected Arbery of theft after they'd seen him walking through an unfinished construction job; it turns out Arbery had taken nothing, the owner had already said Arbery was just getting a drink of water from a faucet, the state's "citizen's arrest" law the yahoos cited has been repealed, in any case three thugs with two guns and two trucks attacking a guy on foot so unarmed he doesn't even have a cell phone is pretty rarely as in never "self-defense," and in truth they "made assumptions" that day in all their dumb racist glory because Arbery was "a Black man running down the street."

In a final hail-Mary, the defense also called one more time for a mistrial, with Kevin 'Too Many Black Pastors' Gough charging that a group of protestors and, yes, black pastors outside constituted "a woke left mob" and "a public lynching (in) the 21st century, with all due respect." After the judge, with all due respect, again rejected his call, the ignoble defence then started in with their own public lynching.

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SAY WHAT? - So pudgy little blank-eyed sociopath Kyle Rittenhouse walked, an outcome both deeply disturbing and woefully unsurprising given the right-wing noise, the broken jury, the hack bigot of a judge, and don't forget the bedrock white supremacism that an American so-called justice system is designed to uphold. Thus, the unanimous verdict that a dumb-as-a-rock 17-year-old punk who took it upon himself to cross a state border toting an ill-begotten assault rifle to "protect" businesses was not guilty of anything in a country where you face harsher consequences for offering water to thirsty voters in line than murdering two BLM protesters; where a skateboard is deemed a deadly weapon and an AR-15 is a "first aid kit"; where, "Ha, let the boy be black and it would've been life." Swiftly and repulsively cheering on the implausible finding of young Kyle's "innocence" were multiple sick, white, damaged, insecure yahoos and bullies masquerading as alleged GOP members of Congress. A gleeful Madison Cawthorn intoned, "Be armed, be dangerous and be moral" - no cognitive dissonance there - and neo-Nazi Paul Gosar funned (his specialty) that he'll arm-wrestle Matt Gaetz to hire Kyle for an intern if he somehow manages to graduate high school, and quizzed constituents whether Kyle should get a Congressional Medal of Honor - options "Yes" and "Yes again." Also former guy praised Kyle as "a law-abiding...CHILD." One patriot spoke for us all: "Fuck the Republican Party."

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SAY WHAT? - Yale historian Timothy’s Snyder’s Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning was published in 2015. It was a book on a subject that had already received vast attention from historians, but it stood out for its novel thesis: it was traditional bureaucratic state structures which protected persons under their aegis. This applied even during the Holocaust. It was the destruction of the state apparatus or the stripping of persons’ citizenship that made the worst horrors possible.

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SAY WHAT? - This week we saw two dueling shitshows of egregious ineptitude, bias, WTF havoc and (likely) injustice in the high-profile trials of fake-crying idiot goon and hapless vigilante Kyle Rittenhouse, who randomly gunned down two protesters during BLM protests in Wisconsin with an AR-15 he got 'cause it "looked cool," and three vicious, racist Georgia good ole boys who somewhat more pointedly chased and gunned down Ahmaud Arbery for jogging while black in their lily-white Jim Crow neighborhood.

The trial of the baby-faced "Vile Shittenhouse" has gotten far more press coverage, likely because he's been shamefully embraced as a heroic victim by a thug-loving right-wing that raised millions for his bail, insisted he went to Kenosha to "clean up the filth left by the rioting Biden voters,” and argued he “should walk away a free and rich man after suing for malicious prosecution" - never mind the leering photos of him in bars with Proud Boys giving a White Power sign in a T-shirt that gloats, "Free As Fuck."

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SAY WHAT? - LGBTQ Republicans made a video about their love for Melania Trump that has the internet cringing.

“Let’s be honest: the gays love First Lady Melania Trump!” a man in a rainbow MAGA T-shirt says in the video produced by the Log Cabin Republicans.

“Now don’t get me wrong, we loved President Donald Trump too,” he says, as if there’s some kind of contradiction, “but MAN has she made him look GOOD.”

The video, which features former U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, was made to celebrate the Log Cabin Republicans’ gala in Mar-a-Lago where Melania Trump was presented with their annual “Spirit of Lincoln Award.” They claimed that she had “dedication to our principles.”

But the testimonials in the video are getting more attention than Trump herself. Many speakers, who are almost all white men, go over-the-top with effusive praise of her, many of them just repeating over and over how fashionable she is, because apparently they think “the gays” love fashion more than equal rights.

“She is without a doubt the most fashionable, the most beautiful, the most classy and charismatic and just fashion-forward first lady,” one Republican said, making sure to mention fashion twice.

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SAY WHAT? - Okay, so the effort to replace Minneapolis' brutish police department with a community-minded Department of Public Safety failed. But almost half the city voted for it, marking, amidst a national conversation about change, race and power, what organizers called "a consensus that the status quo is not an option." And in a taste of Raymond Carver's "small good" things, that shift was reflected across the country: In police reform measures passed in Austin and Cleveland; the re-election in Waterloo, Iowa of its first black mayor - despite the opposition of cranky back-the-blue retired cops mad the city was replacing their longtime, KKK-dragon-like emblem - and the election of its first majority black city council; and the election in three Michigan towns of their first Muslim and Arab-American mayors newly giving voice to their communities.

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SAY WHAT? - Bearing merch with their wholly incomprehensible motto, "Where We Go One We Go All," hundreds of QAnon devotees gathered Tuesday at Dallas' ignominious grassy knoll to await the resurrection of John F. Kennedy and John F. Kennedy Jr. - who was slated to appear to declare Trump president again - even though JFK was assassinated in 1963 at the age of 46 and his son died in 1999 at 38 after crashing his small plane into the Atlantic Ocean.

Representing a JFK-Jr.-obsessed "splinter faction of a splinter faction" within the otherwise entirely rational QAnon world Trump famously countenanced, devotees were drawn to the assassination site by obscure online chat channels; citing numerology, they argue the Kennedys are descendants of Jesus, JFK Jr. has been in hiding for 22 years, and it's time for him to return as Trump's vice-president. Others argue JFK Jr. is "Q," or that, once Trump is re-instated, he'll step down, JFK Jr. will be president, Michael Flynn will be VP, and Trump will become "the king of kings." It's a lot, we know. And so they came, some spending the night and from as far away as New York and California, to stand in the rain - waving at cars, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, insisting we never landed on the moon, and eagerly awaiting the fulfillment of the lunatic prophesy at 12:29 p.m. 

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