I Hope This Is Just A “Correction”

I’ve been watching the stock market jump generally jump up, up, up and up nearly daily since it began its latest meteoric rise in oh, about 2015. Yesterday and today ended that trend. That makes me a bit uneasy,  because I have a few accounts that are completely invested in the markets, which are designed to weather short term downturn with the confidence that they will rebound and increase like they always do. We haven’t had a severe slide in about ten years, but I’d say the imaginary trend line favors increased value. Observe a 100 year curve:

Dow Jones – 100 Year Historical Chart

dow-jones-100-year-historical-chart-2018-10-11-macrotrends(1)

So the conventional wisdom suggests that growth is here to stay over the long haul, and if there are some bumps along the way it’s cool because stocks always come back from a selloff. And that’s typically correct.

You have heard Trump call this his economy. We know it’s not, but that’s what he tells his trucker hat wearing mouthbreathing voters who aren’t sharing a dime of this prosperity. The country has been in recovery since the Obama administration. Now Trump and his party did slash taxes on the Richiest of the Richies, and that apparently has led boards of directors everywhere to start Hoovering up their own stocks, which as I understand it causes an elevation in the trading value of said stocks. In my head, it’s like a big pyramid scheme or a you buy my shit, I’ll buy yours situation. I know I am oversimplifying this because I’m a simple man when it comes to economics and money in general. But the big secret that the GOP kept from everyone is that they were going to do that. Some of that money may have gone to expansion and hiring, but not in the quantities they said it would. Like usual, we were told it’d be rocket fuel for good job creation (ignoring the fact that runaway growth is actually dangerous and short-sighted because it presumes a high degree of sustainability and when you take a resource you are hastening its depletion), and that hasn’t really been the case. True, indicators are still saying that we’re at full employment (even though most people have two of those jobs to make rent) and that wages are inching up, but that’s probably in spite of the tax cut. It certainly hasn’t done the working class much good and that’s who was sold this economic voodoo. Factories and business are shuttering all over the place, in direct contradiction to what Donald Trump says.

We cannot make the mistake that rising tides lift all boats. Some of those tides are being held behind gilded locks and dams.

Anyway, since the economy didn’t expand anywhere near the amount that they predicted (an absurd 4% or more if I remember right), the higher tax revenue failed to materialize. By now, we should be laughing in the face of anyone who brandishes a Laffer Curve in defense of tax cuts. But some fall for it, because it’s logical in its own way. So anyway, what does that mean? That means Uncle Sam needs a credit limit increase.

Yup. Deficit spending.

If you are a Republican, the solution is to curtail services to the public. They never admit that their dumb tax cuts didn’t do shit except make rich people richer. How they sell making the poor poorer to the poor is indeed quite a feat, accomplished by bullshitting poor people into thinking that someone else but surely not them are the poor sucking up services and “entitlements”. This gambit tends to take a racist tinge because stratification sees color and Republicans are good with that generally, as long as they keep the blame off them and the corporations who paid for their seats in government. The idea that Republicans are the party of fiscal discipline is the biggest crock of shit going. They cause a problem, and then scapegoat “big government” and want to cut everything you need to get by.

But if you can’t cut because people are about to tell your party to go fuck itself at the polls, you will be borrowing.

Enter the Fed. The Fed sets the prime interest rates for borrowing. When we borrow, we have to try and make it an attractive investment to a creditor. The more loaded we are with debt, the less interest there will be in holding that debt because it’s assumed that we are overleveraged (we are). However, much like the stock market going up in perpetuity, the general consensus is The United States will be around to pay its bills no matter how much we rack up. Given that we are perpetually hostile and armed with thousands of nuclear weapons, the world assumes we aren’t going to be destroyed without taking everyone with us. Yet the game must be played properly until we lash out in a fit of capitalistic aggression; we need to increase the interest to maintain the interest, so to speak. So the Fed increases rates, and consequently the interest rates on our debt begin to climb to make the return look good to China, Japan, the Saudis, or anyone else that wants to pick up our tab since we screwed up and cut taxes.

The Fed has raised rates rather significantly this year, three big jumps from March to October in order to make ends meet. Jittery investors begin moving money to the higher interest bonds instead of volatile stocks.

Bust. Bye, 1300 points in 48 hours.

Enter the master chiseler, Donald Trump. As regular readers know, I think Trump is a total dumbshit. One thing he is good at though, is being a crook and not paying people what they are owed. As we all know, he has declared bankruptcy multiple times and is being sued by like 800 people demanding money for services rendered. So his first instinct is to try to do a screw job on our creditors and not pay the bills at the terms agreed to. He has done this obliquely by attacking The Fed, who is trying to manage our money crisis the only way it knows how. In unprecedented irony, he says that “The Fed has gone crazy“, and demands that rates slow down so we can pay less on all of our debts.

If you wanna talk crazy, Donald, let’s talk about the trade wars you started that have crippled several sectors of the economy, or the farmers nearly going out of business because we keep tossing ag workers out of the country.  And you have the nerve to tell others their actions are crazy? Give me a fucking break, chump.

There are many other factors making possible this pickle we find ourselves in that I will never be able to fully understand, listed at the link in case anyone wants to break it down for themselves. Lord knows people have been writing about perfect economic storms for as long as I have been aware of economics and they never materialize, except when they do (looking at you, W). I’m hoping we aren’t heading for a more massive slide right now and all these worried words are pointless-but the truth is the whole world is smarting, and that means big trouble for those of us who are trying to save a pittance now (and I/we play no small role in this downturn indirectly, if you can fathom that) in order to take the place of our dwindling Social Security and healthcare benefits that have been bloodlessly slashed by politicians who simply don’t work for us anymore.

Please, if I am misgiven about causes and effects, do not hesitate to tell me. I’m learning as fast as I can.

 

 

Judge Dreaded

If you are like me, you had some free time and you spent it watching the Senate Judiciary Committee SCOTUS fiasco, because you’re something of a strange being-the cow at the slaughterhouse that wants to know when the bolt is about to hit. Knowing full well the GOP was going to get away with scamming the country into a decade spanning reign of terror that will be a perpetual 5-4 conservative majority, I still needed to see it unfold.

The whole country needs a long shower, scrubbed harshly with strong-smelling pumice-based antibacterial soap after bathing in that pigslop that they passed off as “advice and consent”. I couldn’t stop using the word “gross” to describe what happened.

I’m not going to get into too much detail about what went on specifically. No doubt most of you have seen quite enough. But there are a few things we know now.

Men don’t believe women. And if we do, the timing is always suspect. That was a nice story, Dr. Ford, sure wish we had known sooner. Bye. What? There’s more of them? Bzzt. Out of time.

We are about to select an entitled, rapacious, mercurial fratboy as our next Supreme Court justice. You know, kind of like the president who nominated him.

This country is about to fracture. Both sides of the political spectrum have finally decided we have irreconcilable differences. This appointment amounts to nothing less than a declaration of political war. Pat Leahy said it plainly at least in terms of the Senate: things have permanently changed. The once august, world-class deliberative body no longer cares about justice or their due diligence in any real sense-just as long as a narrow set of ideological goals can be achieved, it’s anything goes. It’s OK to hold open Scalia’s seat for over a year but let’s rush rush rush to install Brett Kavanaugh.

If any side is using timing to their advantage, it’s Republicans, perhaps dimly aware that they are going to get their clocks cleaned in the midterms if their ratfucking strategies fail and they need only to do this one more despicable act to make sure conservatism shits everything up and turns back the clock for a couple dozen years.

A few things, if I may.

Being a liar about inappropriate sexual exploits is NOT, I repeat not, a partisan issue. Remember how long it took for Bill Clinton to stop lying about Monica Lewinsky? He lied until he couldn’t lie anymore. This is a MEN’S issue. Now granted, that…

Hold on a minute! I just got word that there’s going to be an investigation-looks like Flake and Murkowski are going to balk. It will be another week before the Senate does a full vote while the FBI does a “limited investigation”.

I will take what I can get. Hang on brothers and sisters, shit might get even bumpier. If and when Kavanaugh is exposed as a vicious, drunken sex criminal, I want you all to remember this truly lunatic performance by Lindsey Graham, who acted as the id of the majority who wanted to push this sicko through at all costs. Remember, South Carolina. Let’s all remember. Take a good look at unashamed male rage.

So You Can Say You Were There

It’s about time someone finally got to laugh in Trump’s stupid, punchable orange face. And what better crowd to think him a fool than the entire United Nations, seeing as how one of his priorities was to get people to stop laughing at America?

Folks, we couldn’t have done worse than making Donald Trump the president if we wanted to end the global guffaws.

The truth is that the Trump administration has accomplished nothing of import. He’s generally done one of two things in the last two years; summarily undo everything positive his popular predecessor had done, and make everyone angry governing by chaos and crisis.

That looks like jack shit to the world in terms of American accomplishments. All they see is us kicking our own ass repeatedly.

I hate Trump with a passion because he’s a dick and a know-nothing. But thankfully, he usually doesn’t have the courage of his “convictions” and has the attention span of a retarded mosquito. He’s got miles to go before he has more blood on his hands than George W. Bush, for example. But the bottom line is that he’s no creator. He’s a destroyer, and his patently absurd claim that he has done more than any other president is a fucking joke and everyone on the planet knows it, everyone except for one Donald J. Trump-who did not expect his usual moronic boasting to be met with tittering and incredulity. So here’s one for posterity, gang.

 

Tucker Carlson Is An Asshole: 2018 Edition

Everyone wants to know what an asshole Tucker Carlson is lately.

At least that’s what my stats say.

I have updated, as I have promised in the past, all of the old clips of Tucker being an asshole. I have to constantly check those posts for dead links because Fox is very busy scrubbing embarrassing clips of their newest eight o’clock attack chihuahua from YouTube. Fortunately for us, someone reposts them and I can repair the links. You keep coming by, so I feel obliged to keep hosting these clips.

So, why is Tucker such a hot topic lately?

I confess, I do not know the details of how Tucker Carlson and Michael Avenatti began feuding-but that seems to be why we’re all gawking at their television battle from a few days ago. I think there had been some pro wrestling-grade challenges and insults being thrown about between the two of them and Tucker ostensibly wanted to have a real conversation beyond the name-calling.

But that’s not how Carlson works, you see. He’s but one in a line of professional bigmouth hosts on Fox News who make their money by distorting a guest’s position repeatedly, then talk over them while they try to explain what their actual position is until they get flustered, distracted or irritated, and then after seven or eight minutes of enervating bad faith arguing they claim victory over their unfortunate guest and end the segment.

Bill O’Reilly is the grandpoppa of this kind of garbage Fox programming. I still remember when he started out. The O’Reilly Factor, like it or not, was positively explosive in its early days. You couldn’t turn away because the wreckage was fascinating. He’d shout his guests down and then cut their mike off if they starting getting in a word over Bill’s indignant ranting. Then you had Sean Hannity, who used poor Alan Colmes as a whipping boy nightly to practice for his solo red-white-and-blue smug superiority fest. And our friend Tucker has now inherited the mantle of chief doucherino at the start of prime time since O’Reilly became radioactive after we all found out how icky the culture at Fox was. I guess if you wanted to you could trace right wing asshole TV history back to Morton Downey Jr., who screamed in the faces of “pablum-puking liberals” who were told to zip it if they tried to talk. These trailblazers are part of Tucker Carlson’s pedigree.

Anyway, Michael Avenatti, who is porn actress Stormy Daniels’ lawyer as you undoubtedly know by now, has made quite the name for himself trying to bring Donald Trump to account for his adultery, and in the process of doing so may have found a political niche as a dark horse candidate for president, believe it or not. But he’s no dummy, and he’s definitely no-bullshit. You will note that Trump has very little to say about Avenatti or Daniels and that’s interesting because Trump usually has a 7-year old Twitter taunt for nearly all of his detractors. Avenatti clearly holds a pair of scissors for which to cut down the sword of Damocles hanging over the head of the liar-in-chief. But Tucker went out dutifully to try to defame the pugnacious laywer. Here’s how it went. I haven’t got any options as far as a source for this except Fox so I don’t expect this to last long.

Tucker came out the gate with a question about a metaphor Avenatti used at a rally about the Russian hack. Now Tucker, like the president, has made the case in the past that we should be friends with Russia, as long as they do things like fight ISIS. And Ralph Peters, who is normally halfway to crazy, did try to set him straight on what a bad idea that was when he appeared on Tucker’s show. He really wanted to know what Avenatti would do if 100,000 troops from Russia did indeed land on America, so a) a metaphor is a metaphor, you fucking jackass and b) it will never happen so it’s a pointless hypothetical. But that’s what Tucker chose to lead with. That pissed off Avenatti, who said that he was told by Tucker’s people that the discussion would be about the Daniels case. So the ambush and the distraction started immediately. The chyron began to refer to Avenatti as a “creepy porn lawyer“, something which the guest set as a condition that Fox not do that since that’s the childish insult that Carlson used on a regular basis before booking Avenatti. Quite simply, he wanted Tucker to grow up, and the little prick decided not to. Avenatti was interrupted within about 20 seconds of the interview, and warned Tucker right there that he was not going to participate in the usual games that Tucker plays with guests who oppose him ideologically. Yet throughout the “interview” Carlson could not stop talking over his guest as usual. He kept returning to the metaphor, saying that Avenatti’s rhetoric against Russia is heating things up recklessly. As if Vladimir Putin even knows who the fuck Michael Avenatti is.

Avenatti found that ironic, of course, getting in a jab about reckless rhetoric that Carlson has engaged in. Since my constitution will not allow me to watch Fox, I’ll take his word for it. Trumpers (et al.) routinely project their faults on others. And furthermore, if anyone is going to criticize heated-up rhetoric, shouldn’t we be looking at the president’s fucking Twitter feed first?

Anyway, Carlson spent over five minutes parsing a metaphor. Then he trotted out the Trump chestnut that Obama spied on Carter Page, and poor Avenatti had to patiently explain that was bullshit. Three times. Avenatti did his best to steer the conversation back to the topic he was there to discuss, that of Stormy Daniels’ legal plight and the possibility that campaign finance laws were violated to buy her silence. It didn’t stick, and Tucker basically started to demand that Avenatti explain what harm was done to the country if the president was a liar and a cheater, which again is an idiotic and stupefyingly ironic question coming from a Republican that the now distracted and annoyed guest had to answer. The discussion eventually devolved into cheap shots, name calling, more interruptions, sweeping pronunciamentos, untruths, a truly bizarre back and forth on morality and porn watching habits, and then Tucker abruptly shut Avenatti down, ending the segment with a final dig.

The whole 13 minute ordeal was an absolute mess. My only wish is that they were two drunks in a bar so that Michael could clean Tucker’s clock, because live TV was the only thing keeping Avenatti in his seat. It was pretty obvious that Tucker was not there to let Avenatti make his case, as he said he would. Rather, his job was to smear and embarrass his guest at the behest of his network, which is increasingly looking more and more like state-run TV for the Republican party.

His job, as always, was to be an asshole.

Here’s some of Avenatti’s CNN post-game. He says Democrats should be willing to go into the lion’s den and do these shows, but I don’t know. There’s that old proverb about not wrestling a pig, you know?

UPDATE Sep 18, 2008: Now we know why Carlson wanted to bring up Carter Page out of the blue. The president released documents about the FISA warrant on him today, lord knows why. It probably will not prove anything he has said or exculpate him in any way. Fox was clearly priming the pump for the release.

 

 

Ham On Lie

That pious little gerbil Ken Ham has gotten my goat again.

In a desperate effort to inflate ticket numbers for his 100 million-dollar boondoggle of a boat that’s got Kentucky officials wondering what they are subsidizing and why, he’s decided to attack the public school system for not allowing trips to the Ark Encounter.

Naturally, he’s blaming atheists for this, even though we’ve had separation of church and state since the conception of this country. It’s been litigated and has stood solidly for over 50 years as a simple matter; the church needs to stay out of the public schools because they are government entities because the Constitution directs us in that way. Not everyone believes the same way and that is that.

This hasn’t stopped impolite Christians from trying to squeeze their way back into school and government in general.

If you can give Christians one thing in this world, it’s their determination.

Before I get on with the business of picking on Ken Ham, a local aside.

You’re all familiar with that saying from Proverbs in the bibble that suggests if you don’t hit your kids, you hate them, right? It’s more popularly known as the “spare the rod, spoil the child” proverb. Whether Solomon was implicitly saying that you need to beat your kids or not is immaterial; it has been interpreted as a green light from God to do so, and that is what matters.

Well, in a part of Columbia County, Georgia that we here like to pretend doesn’t exist called Hephzibah, a certain charter school has decided that parents have two choices for their recalcitrant children; get suspended for a significant amount of time, or take a paddling.

Yes. That’s still a thing that can happen in America in 2018. And I have no problem laying this at the feet of Christianity. I’m pretty sure Dr. Spock for one did not approve of it. Most of today’s psychologists don’t. Now, I am not saying that all child whupping is Christian in nature. I’m an atheist with two boys, and when I lost control of a situation I was a hitter. I will have to live with the possibility I have traumatized them for the rest of my life. Thankfully, they say they don’t remember. But I will never really know what I may have done. However, I never thought it was God’s command that I strike them. That’s institutionalized child abuse. And that’s what I think is happening in that little charter. We’ve got a few tricks up our sleeve to stop this, but perhaps the international scrutiny they are receiving will shame them into abandoning the punishment. I won’t hold my breath.

This is my way of getting to the point that Christians in America can’t help themselves from inserting their beliefs and practices into institutions that serve everyone. It’s not fair, it’s rude, often morally objectionable and it makes you all look like jerks.

So now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, back to Ken Ham, who somehow thinks he and his fellow believers are being “bullied” because an atheist drew a bright line in the sand that school trips to the Ark and other religiously themed attractions are a no-no. There were also mentions of the rules regarding the newfangled flagpole prayers and the opt-out from the pledge. Now generally, atheists do not draw first blood-we don’t get all bent out of shape until someone bends us. So I’m going to assume that Mr. Pike had good reason to be concerned. He appears to have chosen the counties to warn carefully. Here’s a copy of his letter to the schools, you can judge for yourself if this meets the definition of “bullying”. It’s clear the letter is based on legitimate LEGAL concerns-these possible violations were “brought to his attention”, and that certain Kentucky schools needed to be mindful of separation issues.

Again, the first impulse for Christians is to push, and then push some more, then more until someone tells them to stop. The Law (our properly secular law) is the only thing stopping them from forcing your child’s participation in all Christian activities-and screw who you are or if you believe otherwise. They will take it as far as they can until you metaphorically bop them in the nose and say enough.

Kinda makes you wonder who the “bullies” are, if there are any here at all.

But anyway, Ken’s one stubborn son of a bitch-no one can seem to get him to understand that atheism (and it’s purported doctrine, evolution) is not a religion. Perhaps it is mere disingenuousness, for if he cannot call atheism a religion, he cannot insist that allowing children to learn about other religions like Christianity is only fair. I’d like to say Ken is just a cheap bullshit peddler con artist like all the rest, but he spends a tremendous amount of nervous energy defending biblical literalism and challenging scientists to debates. It’s all quite absurd and self-serving, kind of like religion itself. What to do with a believer who thinks that we are afraid of their message because it’s so powerful? Many atheists will tell you that the #1 cause for their atheism is Christianity.

I guess the answer is to laugh for now, but with “religious freedom” popping up more frequently in legislation, the courts, the markets and in public service where everyone expects that the law be executed, nonbelievers might do well to go on offense soon, as uncomfortable as that may be. Because the new barbarians are at the gates.

Remembering John McCain

In these contentious days where some Republicans and Democrats are literally ready to kick each others’ asses if only they could just get off Facebook long enough, it’s hard to remember that on the other side of “the aisle” in politics there are people with heart. Even if their views on how society should be shaped seem lacking in morality or are intellectually offensive in some way, you know that these people love just like you do most of the time. I believe we want to go to the same place, we just have very different ways of how to get there.

No. That’s bullshit. A lot of people can go get bent. You’ve all gone fucking crazy and you should be put down before you infect the rest of the herd.

I think Senator John McCain is one of those who had heart though, even if he allied with forces I do not understand anymore for most of his political career. Since that is so, I am very saddened to see him begin the process of leaving.

For those of us born yesterday, you’ll probably remember John McCain best for dramatically torching the Republican attempt to “skinny repeal” Obamacare. It went something like this:

 

That thumbs down may have well been a middle finger to Yertle The Turtle and his entire crooked-ass quorum. While the Republican assault on healthcare continues, it was nevertheless rousing to see someone over there say at a critical juncture, “Enough. We’re being bigger dicks than I am comfortable with. Enough.”

Then there was that time when he talked some fearful, whacko racist constituents down from their conspiratorial perches at a campaign stop in 2008. As you all know, conservatives have been fed a steady diet of hateful, dangerous media blather for almost 30 years now, beginning with Rush Limbaugh and the emergence of Fox.

And McCain just couldn’t. He listened patiently, but he couldn’t.

Those were probably the most television-worthy moments of John McCain’s tenure in politics in my adult generation. I could be missing much more vintage McCain, beginning with the footage of his captivity in Vietnam because I am still relatively young.

I should not fail to mention that he also took a courageous stand against our wanton use of torturing combatants during the Bush era when we were collectively balls-deep in avenging ourselves upon anyone we could catch for those buildings that came down in 2001. More recently, he’s been a vocal opponent of the nomination of Gina Haspel for CIA.

Of course, there are moments I remember which are regrettable. He made a star out of Sarah Palin. He will always be known as the old man who joked about bombing Iran to a Beach Boys tune:

And long before I became interested in politics or even my own johnson, he was a member of something called the Keating Five in the 80s. You see, back in the day from what I gather, buying a politician was not as easy to hide, and savings and loan king Charles Keating wanted some regulations undone to expand his empire. So, he feted a few key senators in order to achieve his goal. Apparently that was weird back then. In an ironic twist, he helped Russ Feingold enact campaign finance reform, though.

And that’s kinda the lion’s share of what I know about John McCain. I suppose that’s not much. I wonder, am I sad because he’s been famous for much of my conscious political life, or am I sad because he was an OK guy and that’s what you do when OK people are dying or dead? Maybe it’s a little of both, I don’t know. Famous deaths may remind me of my own fleeting mortality. It’s been on my mind.

Whatever the case, peace be upon John and his family. I think the only regret he might have about leaving at this time is that his passing will interrupt, at least for a little bit, the news of the unraveling of that dumb son-of-a-bitch who said to him that he preferred soldiers who don’t get captured.

 

 

Winner Winner Prison Dinner

I’m an Augustan. Today Reality Winner was sentenced to prison for 63 months in our courts after already spending over a year in the clink.

That doesn’t really make me any closer to Winner’s story. In fact, I’ve been totally silent about her. That’s not due to lack of interest at all-my small readership can readily see that I have been silent about just about everything lately. I have a lot of time on my hands, much more than most folks-and yet I am doing less than I ever have on this mortal coil.

This could be partly due to my absorption into Facebook. It’s become a web browser-within-a-browser for me, and I suspect you are no different. It’s a problem because Facebook sorts and dictates what I look at, but on the other hand I guess it’s no less useful than any digital newspaper subscription so long as I like the right information outlets and keep woke friends. I’m contributing to the death of independent journalism by not doing this old school-by going to the source and patronizing the fresh voices, but we’ve killed or co-opted nearly everyone who was good at it already. This blog, and the form itself is mostly moribund. I’m pretty much writing out of the conceit that I can, so bless you for looking and I am sorry that Tucker Carlson is such an asshole that I can’t show you clips anymore because his whole show is him being a wall to wall asshole. I am also sorry for myself that Nancy Reagan cannot resurrect and blow half of Hollywood so I can bring that useless tidbit to you again. These are the things you are into according to my stat counter.

Well, now that we’ve got the by-now obligatory whining about my personal difficulties out of the way, let’s reflect on people with bigger problems like going to a pen for five years for calling out a customer on their shady shit. That customer happened to be Uncle Sam, who in this dark age will fuck your ass up with the long arm of his arcane laws if you air his dirty laundry.

And really, it wasn’t even Uncle Sam’s laundry. It was a report with an unnerving conclusion: that Russia was fucking with our election process. Now it is of course well known at this point that Russia was and is quite busy playing games with our increasingly vulnerable democracy, and Winner’s leak was but one stream of information that said that 2016 was under siege months before a contentious, paradigm- rattling election. The extent of the cooperation between His Excellence The Spraytanned Trash Spewing Machine and Russia is slowly but surely being revealed, painful bit by painful bit by regular journalists, gossipers, angry lovers’ lawyers and the thresher of perps that has become the Mueller probe. It’s obvious to any unbiased eye, if such a thing exists anymore, that Donnie Dummkopf is complicit, obstructive and a willing conspirator and it’s only a matter of time before we get rarer, tastier meat on the hook that will hopefully send this cabal of plutocratic hucksters away, hopefully to the prison they so richly deserve after getting away with murder their whole privileged fucking lives so long as Jeff Sessions can hold the line. He’s showing amazing spine as Republicans go so far.

Think about that. Jeff “You There Boy, Good People Don’t Smoke Marijuana” Sessions is actually scrupulous enough to keep Edward Twitterhands from running roughshod over the Justice Department, aware enough from jump that these were fleas he didn’t want to wake up with. I’ll take it as a sign that there might be something benign watching over us with a warped sense of humor. You motherfuckers better get out and vote THE RIGHT WAY PLEASE because there might be hell to pay if you don’t.

But anyway, back to Reality.

It’s past too late for me to recap this story for you in detail, but let me just say that she may have picked a turncoat to leak to. As many of you lefties know, Glenn Greenwald today is not the same perspicacious and prolific lawyer we all got to know from Unclaimed Territory in the days of yore. Glenn now makes his bones running The Intercept, and from there he seems to have gone so far down the rabbit hole that the Russians are the good guys. Look, I am no fan of US imperialism but Russia ain’t your buds either, folks. If given the wherewithal to run the globe the way America does, they’d be a slightly shittier version of us. They are the other side of one coin. This is the way the world is; dualist but also quite similar. At least we keep the appearance of having democratic values here and occasionally dust off the constitution to preserve our rights. It’s the system I know, and with that system I go.

So Winner, obviously a lefty, thought she knew where her damning document on Russia would be appreciated. She picked Greenwald’s outfit. What happened at the Intercept then was journalistic malpractice of the worst kind; in the course of verfiying the document with the NSA, Intercept staff practically laid a breadcrumb trail to Winner’s printer. She was arrested after The Intercept released the document. Glenn and Co. failed to protect their source in every way imaginable, which makes no sense as they had handled docu-dumps from Ed Snowden and know damn well how to keep a lid on their information sources. Reality chose The Intercept for its integrity; sadly, she was burned for trusting someone who she thought would do the right thing with the material.

Questions abound: Greenwald has been making goo-goo eyes at anyone who opposes the US at the pole position, to include Russia. He’s one of those self-destructive progressives who will happily cut off his nose to spite his face, kind of like the Berners who couldn’t handle an ounce of impurity in the Democratic nominee and so threw their vote away or withheld it because Hillary Clinton was not Perfect. And she wasn’t; she had work to do. But unlike Republicans, Democrats are often capable of learning and responding. You’ve already seen what the alternative is all about. It’s been raining shit for 20 months straight and all this could have been avoided, and the work that Barack Obama had begun could have been continued or improved. And if we stayed engaged, we could have been the change we wanted to see. I know that sounds so corny and contrived right now but 2016 was a really shit point to decide that the whole system was hopelessly fucked no matter who sat in the White House, mostly because of the peculiarities of the Democratic Party’s nomination process.

Thanks for that. Keep holding that breath, it’s working. No, really.

Now I really don’t want to go too far into conspiracy theory and straight up accuse The Intercept of burning a source because it implicated Russia. I’ll leave it for you to do your own sleuthing and put the pieces together. While you do that, Reality Winner is going to jail for almost a half dozen years because she brought to the fore what should not have been a secret, one which has since become absurdly obvious. And she should have been cloaked. That’s all I’m saying.

I’ll conclude with pictures of her entering the courthouse today. I hope the playful spirit shown below before she learned of her fate continues to shine within her. Hang in there, kiddo. I’m sorry.

Reality

reality2

 

 

Clownland

So it looks like Donald Trump is going to try on at least one more hat before he faces the music on Pornstar/Russia/fill in the blank.

He’s a fucking comedian now.

That has got to be the only explanation for Space Fooooorce. Not only can he shoot someone on 5th Ave. and get away with it, but he can say just about anything he wants and it will get applause at the Two Hours Hate that is a Trump rally. He could say “Babyshit telephone cockhole mango-flavored highbeam hobby humpers on a cruise ship to Fuck, right? You’re all a bunch of rubes. I love the rubes. They don’t even know what a rube is, do you folks? No. No you don’t. That’s beautiful. The beautiful rube elite. I’d teabag all of you if I could after sweating through nine holes with Rodrigo Duterte. I really really would. Wall to wall teabagging. And you’d say ‘Mr. Trump, I’m tired of all this teabagging’. Then I’m going to say ‘I’m sorry, but we’re going to keep teabagging, teabagging, teabagging until we make my America enlar…uh, great again.”

This is really big league embarrassing, people.

Perhaps what is more worrisome than the President Of The United States thinking that Star Wars isn’t fiction is the complete lack of a reaction from his slackjaw supporters that he thinks a space army is viable. Not a blink.

War is hell. Typically you have to dangle a lot of treats in front of kids to get them to the recruiting office as it is. So I’m having a little trouble imagining that legions of people will line up for the possibility of brittle bones for life and dying for your country in the breathless vacuum of space during a routine training exercise. You also have to be smart to go to space, but if you are smart you know to stay out of the goddamn space army. Catch-22.

The last arms race almost ended our existence as a species. Now, granted, the idea of space-based defense ended it because even Gorbachev knew weaponizing space was lunacy. But we have no great enemy right now to worry about. Trump solved Russia, after all. So that means that we are actually up for another peace dividend, not a ratcheting up of aggression. It goes without saying there are so many other things that an actual executive of America could focus on. Real people got real problems down here, motherfucker. But that’s no matter to our entertainer president.

Donald Trump is a perfect portrait of arrested development. Everything he does, he does because he thinks he can get away with it, like the proverbial child testing his boundaries. He’s the physical and mental manifestation of the peeing Calvin on a million American pickup trucks. Getting away with everything he is doing is the ultimate juice for him. If he manages to bullshit his way through a Mueller deposition it will give him the kind of wood that his wife doesn’t give him anymore because she’s starting to look a little like Derek Zoolander in the face.

Trump is becoming quite a juvenile jester, a pernicious social media troll who loves to be hated by the people who so desperately need him to get popped for his myriad crimes and complete debasement of the office of the presidency. He can’t believe how many people are abetting his monkeyshines any more than you or I can. It makes me furious when useless, privileged assholes like him are having the time of their lives conning the shit out of people. But that’s a symptom of these times; this parade of horribles we are being governed by are gaining strength everywhere, not just in America. It is the age of the Auto-Plutocrat. And Trump is happily sidling up to other rich dictators and moguls who want to do some Business- in other words, rape the land, exploit workers and put as much money from the public coffers into private hands before their time in office ends. It is, I am afraid, the way things have been.

For a while. Longer than we care to consider. You are a sucker if you believe otherwise.

I’ll admit, I’m scared a little. Because this particularly noxious group of fascistic corporatists we have in charge now are trying to stay in power through multiple avenues of fuckery. They gaslight their gullible followers with paint-by-the-numbers buzzy agitprop, eat away at voting rights protection, keep the majority of us near penury so we are too busy or scared to stand up, demonize experts and journalists, steal Supreme Court seats, gerrymander the poor out of representation, and, as we are seeing, will stop at just about nothing to tilt elections to themselves. And that’s just a general overview. The details are much messier, worse than I feel like recounting here. The weather for tomorrow is dystopia with a fifty percent chance of portly, heavily armed, hastily deputized “nationalists” with no chins patrolling your neighborhood.

This had better be their last con, people. If you let Trump rawdog democracy by not filling the streets after the next Saturday Night Massacre or let the perfect be the enemy of the good by not voting or fucking around with boutique candidates in 2018, you might as well be as dumb as a Trump supporter for all the good your smarts do.

As for the rest of you: Space Force is a joke and the punchline is you. After you bought the pointless wall, after you salivated over a goddamn military parade like we lived in the Eastern Bloc, you should be ashamed-but how can you when you know so little of yourself?

 

Unraveling? Yes.

Let it not be said that I was silent the day Anthony Kennedy decided to quit the Supreme Court.

After a flurry of unfortunate (in)decisions that made racially-based gerrymandering, religious bigotry and Islamophobia and union strangling de jure acceptable, our “swing” justice has decided at 80 that he is tired, I guess.

That’s fine. He has earned the right to rest his mind, in a way. After all, he helped make same sex marriages legal, shielded the right of women to have abortions, curtailed eminent domain, protected mentally ill minors from execution, brought habeas corpus to our prisoners in Iraq, and affirmed the right to burn an American flag under free speech provisions, to name a few good decisions that he was involved in bringing forth.

Those are big deals. Thank you.

But looking over the bulk of his notable decisions, maybe not much will change in this increasingly dystopian era of American history. We the people were largely fucked by him during his tenure. In effect, all that will happen from here on in is that there ain’t gonna be any more rays of sunshine from the Supreme Court like the ones above for decades. Assume that there is no ultimate redress in the days to come. Don’t be too sure about what you think your fundamental rights are anymore. Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell will no doubt choose a young little sociopathic prick prepped and endorsed by the Federalist Society that will guarantee that the conservative will be done for the foreseeable future (or in perpetuity if they can get away with their long con).

We’ve always teetered between good and evil here in America. It can be a really mixed bag for so many of us, and our history is riddled with dark times. I’ve always liked Martin Luther King’s quote, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” That notion suddenly seems rather quaint, but perhaps someday we can believe in that again. I will try to make sure my children remember.

Maybe Kennedy is ill and we don’t know it. I really don’t think he voted for Donald Trump, but with his departure he certainly is handing him more than a ballot. If anything else is the case-that he is still of sound mind and body-then he can go straight to hell. He knows more than anyone what will happen to the Court as he prepares to step down. I mean, Ruth Bader Ginsberg is probably tired as fuck too but she knows as well what will happen if another abdication of a seat occurs during King Baby’s reign of error (whenever that ends, god help us). He had a responsibility to keep his finger in the dike so that rigid originalism could not wipe out the rights we have managed to eke out from this damn government. I cannot believe there is a reality in which he does not know in his bones that a mindless dictator is going to have his way with this country as he departs.

So now it’s drowning time, and I guess it doesn’t matter to him. Maybe soon he will explain to us why he has left the people hanging helplessly and left his seat to someone who might unravel what we call progress. Maybe he feels that no explanation is necessary.

Again, he’s 80. And ultimately, he was never “ours” to begin with so perhaps we haven’t lost too much.

Except for hope for the future… you know, little things.

Either way, you can go fuck yourself, Justice Kennedy.

Fuck you for helping punt several huge issues this June of 2018 knowing that a more conservative court will hold the judicial knife to peoples’ throats in the future.

Fuck you for exploding gun ownership.

Fuck you for diluting democracy by allowing corporations to flood politics with even more money.

Fuck you for George W. Bush.

Fuck you for allowing religious discrimination because of sexual orientation.

Fuck you for everything that’s about to befall the children.

Women.

The poor.

LGBT.

People of color.

Every oppressed person who goes unnamed because they don’t grab enough headlines.

We are about to be under siege.

A College Try To Explain Where I Am At With Religion

It’s so easy to be misunderstood online.

For example, I’ve been married for 16 years (I hope I did that math right) and my wife and I still mistake each other’s tone in private messengers sometimes because of the way we typed something. Not being able to hear something or looking at a facial gesture can make humor fall flat or even make compliments sound like barbs. There’s a million ways to be taken wrong when we talk by computer.

Now that we are in the accursed age of social media, there are new opportunities to be completely misunderstood, especially when you use it to promote your worldview or try to use your presence as a platform for information. It’s the kind of shit that can break families up if  you aren’t careful sharing your convictions. It has definitely ended its share of friendships.

I had a horrendous collision in 2010 on Facebook with an acquaintance from high school. We did not talk in high school but we had a mutual friend and I found her somewhat witty. So I asked for friendship status, and she accepted. I was posting about politics back then as I do now. A few days into our friendship, I called Allen West, a black conservative, an “Oreo”.

For those of us who are new to him, Allen West is an asshole who deserves all the opprobrium we can muster. He’s wrong all day long, often offensively so. But my new friend, a white woman, called me a racist for using the term “Oreo” and unfriended me publicly. I was so confused, raw and hurt. What was worse is that I was having emergent mental health issues and I made a big scene trying to get back at her from calling me that. I felt like she didn’t know me or who the hell I was writing about and therefore she should have shut her politically correct trap. Anyone who knows me knows I am not racist, I reasoned. And anybody who had been following me over the course of my social media career could have understood that. So in the white light of my mind she had a lot of fucking nerve. But, looking back, maybe it’s true that the jibe doesn’t belong to me and I don’t say it anymore just in case. My bedrock grownup principle is that of Hippocrates: to first do no harm.

That being said, I still can’t seem to avoid being provocative on the book of faces in 2018. Most people are used to me going on and on ad infinitum about bad shit happening in the world and suffer me politely or agree with me. Those who don’t do not last long on my page. But in addition to being a red diaper baby politically, I am a proud atheist. And sometimes I like to post Christians Gone Wild. That’s when a Christian person says or does manifestly un-Christlike things. And there’s no shortage of offenders. These people sicken me with their hate and piety. I usually try to deal with them by way of mockery but sometimes the shit makes me mad. Anyway someone I barely know again came from out of nowhere and insinuated that I was being a judgy asshole in the course of pointing out that judgy Christian assholes were saying terrible things about the memory of Anthony Bourdain, who led a life of love, indulgence, and acclamation but could not escape the scourge of depression.

This is not the first time I have upset a Christian on my feed. I almost stopped talking to my younger brother over the subject of religion at a couple of junctures. My family is very, very Christian. And I have gotten into it with him several times over what I am doing when I highlight Christian malfeasance and hypocrisy. I was attacking God, I was told, or making Christians or Christianity look bad. But I maintained at the time it was my feed and I would do what the fuck I felt like with it so I told him to shove it. It got out of hand. I kind of had a snit and unfriended him and we fought privately. Thankfully, we’ve reconciled and understand each other better because what we do on Facebook is an insufficient reason to lose family over. Through him, I learned to let up on my more controversial commentary. You all should see what I don’t post.

But anyway, back to today. I was accused of general hypocrisy and intolerance and then my antagonist disappeared. I didn’t understand where she was coming from at all. Karl Popper has a paradox about intolerance-namely, that you don’t need to tolerate it. I live by that shit. Since our little public row we have also quietly reconciled, and I think we are going to have a much better relationship than the tenuous one we had before we misunderstood each other online.

But it’s time I explained what I’m up to when I criticize Christianity publicly. Some of the reasons I do it are, I’ll admit freely, a little close to home. I grew up Catholic but the family went Assemblies Of God when I was 12, a novel movement in the 1980s. The difference between the solemnity of mass and the booming, surreal party that was a service in the Assemblies could not have been starker. We loved it, the rock, the dance, the tongues, the hands upraised, the mass hysteria of it all. The bathtub behind the pulpit below the giant wooden cross was a source of unceasing curiosity for me, and I was soon dunked in it to be born again. I was ON FIRE for God, if you can imagine that. In time, I would eventually read The Bible all the way through, something I’d have never done in the dreary days of CCD. I was ministering to my family and leading nightly devotions. This new Christianity was something my family could bond over, which was good because we didn’t get along very well outside of that.

Without going into too much boring detail, I slowly discovered that Christians were not special. It had marginal success in changing people fundamentally. Moreover, no matter how hard I tried, I could not hear the voice of God. Tried to speak in tongues and could not let go and babble. Tried to listen and only heard myself. I was reading Nietzsche and other accounts of the human experience and my identity was soon shattered. There were many ways to think about the world all of a sudden and there was something compelling about that.

I was Done, unable to go back to faith, like a bell that can’t be unrung. And really, that is one of the things that actually makes me happy inside. I feel good because I learned I am a good person (good enough, that is) without needing to be told. I love this life. There will never be a shortage of things to learn about in this age of technological miracles. Death may be difficult to navigate knowing you will never be the organized bag of biological goo that you are now ever again but I don’t care if you think you’ll wake up on the other side, it’s probably a terrifying process for anyone. After a safe, long life mostly full of abundance in a First World country with sons (and grandkids, maybe!) and a loving partner/friend it would be greedy of me to ask for more. We may go to our end not understanding this life completely, but that’s OK. Certainty is an illusion. The joke is on our big-brained species. We’ll only ever know a sliver of what’s actually going on at any given time. The best you can do is try to leave this mess a little better than when you found it.

Sometimes I get a little too prideful about my lack of faith and I want to let my little snarky light shine. But it’s not all beer and skittles. Nonbelief is not without its own set of problems, because Christians by and large distrust atheists and eight out of ten of you in America are Christian. We are generally not welcome in your midst, often thought of as demon-possessed and of evil intent. We are a minority, and all the requisite problems of being one come with the territory of being an atheist. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I am SO glad I live here and now because I could be stretched on a rack in harsher times or get my head chopped off in other parts of the world today for disbelief. Still, we and minority faiths are repeatedly disrespected in the public sphere regularly by Christians, because so often you go out of your way to push salvation upon those who do not feel they need saving-and while I understand that you’ve been charged to do this by your bible, it would be better for all to let people be people and that way we learn to live with each other instead of against each other-first do no harm. I won’t survive to see an atheist president. Neither will my kids, probably. You keep telling them at public school to respect a creator and mix justice with religion by putting slogans on public buildings and vehicles. You invoke gods for wisdom in civic settings. You cite “religious freedom” to discriminate. And you get away with it because you are very clever about how you impress your dominant beliefs upon those who think differently than you.

Of course, not all of you are like this, and I thank God I know you. And you need to know that I am not calling you out when I take bad Christians to task. I’m not even attacking Christianity in just about every case. There’s nothing wrong with it in particular that makes it any worse or any better than any other belief system. What did Thomas Jefferson say? “It does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.” I don’t understand why you would get mad at me for pointing out people that make your faith look really bad. I would think, rather, that you should be doubly angry at them instead. Because they won’t go away if you stay silent-they will claim the One True Faith out from under the more tolerant of you. Here’s what I truly do not get-if indeed the word of God is the ultimate word of God, then why are so many crazy, shitty people taking away strange and different things from reading it? I would think that The Word of God would be pretty clear about how to be a Christian, with Him being a god and all. But it’s not, because people still find the basis for hate in his holy name and we all ought to know by now that Christ for the most part wasn’t down with that. The aforementioned Nietzsche was wildly misunderstood and often wrong because like the title of one of his books, he was “human, all too human”. But in my head there should be no erroneous interpretation of God’s will, because a perfect being wouldn’t roll the dice hoping a bunch of half bright monkeys would all catch his drift. Bullet points would probably be far better than verses, Lord, in case a sequel is in the works.

To conclude, I am not your problem. I think it’s the height of offense and vile evilness to say that someone’s loved one is going to hell because he was suidcidal or that he’d be alive if he wasn’t an atheist. Or how about this guy that’s saying homosexuals need to be put to death in the 21st century? That’s everybody’s fucking problem, not just mine or yours and frankly I am trying to sound the call. I don’t have to tolerate any of it, and neither should you. Ignoring will not solve the problem.

For the record, I think Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins and Bill Maher are sometimes really shit atheists. I’ve given you a nice headstart so you can post about bad examples of atheists if you want. I promise I will not take it personal.

 

 

 

 

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