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Moment of Truth: A Tale of Two Snitches

Welcome to the Moment of Truth, the thirst that is the drink.

Michael Cohen, oh, that Michael Cohen. I enjoyed the show this past Wednesday, the aggressively-contrite-Michael Cohen-testifies-to-Congress show. All the Republicans could do was say, "Look what a crook and liar this guy is, he already lied to us once, we're gonna believe him now?" And his response was, "Look how much of crook and liar I was, can you imagine what a monster someone would have to be to make me want to tell the truth?" Or something. I don't know, if I were Michael Cohen, with no scruples about lying or threatening or extorting or strong-arming, and Donald Dump, the cartoon duck with no pants, started using those same tactics on me? I'd be tearing him a new one in front of Congress out of pure spite. Why not? There are so many indictments surrounding this administration, whether the deep state, the shallow state, or the moderately profound state is against him, or he has terrible taste in friends and associates, or he specifically picks rotten people on purpose because he needs them to do rotten things for him.

I don't know why the Republicans are so down on Michael Cohen for having previously lied to Congress. Elliott Abrams was convicted of lying to Congress, and he was just appointed special envoy, so clearly the GOP have no problem with the principle of lying to Congress, even if proven in a court of law, they just don't like when your truth conflicts with the lies they like. Some lies they like, some they don't. And the truth they really don't like. They can't handle the truth. Did you hear some of those crackers? "I've never seen such a travesty!" It was the Lindsay Graham and Brett Kavanaugh crybaby festival all over again.

The president is a conman, a cheat, and a racist. For every crime there is a snitch, whether the snitch snitches or he don't. Whether the snitch snitches for money or a shorter sentence or to satisfy a grievance, for the good of humanity, or for the sake of his own soul. The Unibomber's brother snitched on him. But generally, snitches on public figures, Presidents, Senators, mob bosses and such, those bitches get stitches before they can snitch. The Dump administration is awash in snitches, though. You could never stitch them all up in time to save nine. Or at least let's hope not.

A striking contrast to Cohen's snitch behavior is the story of father and son, Mark and John Harris. Heard of them? A little, you have. Mark ran for Congress in the 9th District in North Carolina in November and apparently won, until someone investigated the handling of absentee ballots by a campaign contractor with a record of felony insurance fraud and found out that, indeed, Leslie McRae Dowless had, in fact committed election fraud for Harris's campaign.

Pretty certain he committed the same fraud in a GOP primary 2 years earlier. Dowless worked for Todd Johnson, who lost the primary, but somehow got an outsized percentage of absentee ballots. He got 2 percent in the primary as a whole, but racked up 22 percent of absentee votes. John Harris warned his father Mark in several emails against hiring Dowless as a contractor to operate in Bladen County during the election. According to Travis Fain, a reporter on the North Carolina statehouse beat for local news outlet, WRAL, one email cited:

"[A]n oddly high number of black voters in Bladen County casting mail-in ballots in a GOP primary. "

“The key thing that I am fairly certain they do that is illegal is that they collect the completed absentee ballots and mail them all at once," John warned his father.

The absentee irregularities in Mark Harris's victory were noticed in December, and Dowless's integrity was questioned. Mark Harris denied knowing anything about Dowless being a shady operator. Mark's son John distanced himself from the campaign. The State's Attorney's office of the Eastern District of North Carolina was investigating the election results, and John happens to be an assistant State's Attorney there.

Eventually he was subpoenaed to testify in court. He was told by members of his father's campaign that his emails to his father were being turned over to the court by them. They were lying. John turned them over of his own accord.

He snitched on his father. That is, he put their relationship on the line, bargaining that his father valued his son's honesty and reputation enough not to involve him in his own lies. Imagine the Donald Dump family in such a situation. I can imagine them flipping on each other, which is how this all will probably end, but I can't imagine them showing such concern for one another, or even for their own integrity.

John says he loves his father and bears him no ill will, least of all a desire for vengeance of some kind. They are not by any means estranged. John tries to put the best spin possible on his father's ostensible bad memory and apparent failure of judgment. He tried to give his father sound legal advice, sound life advice, and when Mark wouldn't heed him, and the expected result came to light, John couldn't allow his father to go any deeper into a fen of lies than he'd already sunk.

Mark Harris has given up his seat and called for a new election, and he is not going to be running in it. Sounds like a deal might've been struck with authorities out of consideration for Mark Harris's health problems. I assume the spectacle of a son making a last ditch attempt to save his father from ruin might have played some part as well.

I say John saved his father from ruin, but what did he actually save him from, exactly? Shame, or rather, an additional accumulation of shame. Possibly damnation, although in Christian circles the criteria for that seem to have become a matter of confused dispute, and outside those circles the very existence of damnation is itself disputed.

But say there's no such thing as a universe that damns a person for corrupt behavior, and say a person can behave corruptly without shame. Assuming this putative person escapes legal or social consequences, there's nothing either inside or outside of the person that could cause them to suffer for their crimes, or even recognize them as crimes.

And that's where we're at, isn't it? With our President, his pack of sleazy confederates, and the grotesque bipedal products of his loins? They have no shame, they have no God, and aside from sniping observers like myself, who have no weight of condemnation to bring to bear, the society around them seems perfectly weightless and without condemnation.

So, is Michael Cohen telling the truth? I think so, I think he's got every reason to spill all the dirt he has, in as truthful and complete a manner as possible. If he said Dump had stood in the middle of 5th Avenue and shot somebody, I'd believe him. Because he doesn't want to end up like Manafort. And Manafort didn't end up like Manafort by protecting Dump with honesty – there's no way to do that – but by trying to protect himself with lies.

We have arrived at this moment of national crisis because for a long, long time, the leaders of our society, be they public or private actors, have normalized the strategy of winning at all costs, but usually someone else pays those costs. The story of Mark and John Harris has untapped complexity. But in that complex story are lessons about the costs of winning. The costs of winning at all costs. Mark Harris's son stopped him short of winning at all costs. And that came at a cost. I say this: let the person willing to win at all costs, who nevertheless avoids all costs, bear at least the cost of avoiding all costs. That's all I ask.

It's a simple enough request.

This has been the Moment of Truth. Good day!

Moment of Truth


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