Monthly Archives: June 2017
OK, Liz Warren, you win.
I think I’ve finally been ground down.
It’s not really the special election losses. We came damn close here in Georgia with Jon Ossoff, even though I knew he wouldn’t win. The only reason that Ossoff had any juice (well, besides the allegations that the election was a referendum on Trump and it became a national campaign as a result) is that he almost cracked 50% and nearly won in the first election against a fractured Republican field.
It’s not the daily thinkpieces about Democratic dithering when it comes to picking hills to put troops on.
It certainly isn’t Greens or Bernie hangers-on that are starting to make sense to me.
There was so much intrigue that caused Hillary Clinton’s loss in 2016. Voter suppression, hacking of machines, Russian skulduggery, the Comey Bomb and good old fashioned American sexism were proximate causes. So hold your horses with the corruption nonsense and the DNC plots etc., ad infinitum.
Since we are a party in the woods, I say it’s time to get the hard left swing out of our system and find out once and for all if Democrats are truly losing elections because they fail to inspire. It’s an experiment whose time is come, since we truly have nothing to lose cause we ain’t got nothin’ at the moment. Perhaps I will be vindicated in recommending a slow hand and creeping gradualism. Or, and I hope this is the case, perhaps I will learn something new about the character of this country. But we will not know the answer unless we try.
Parties are generally heavily change-resistant. There is a hierarchy and a career path to obey, and you don’t usually get your shot by not putting in your time. Let’s think about Sanders for a second. Firstly, Bernie Sanders is not a Democrat. Secondly, he has done nothing significant within the party machine. And after a brutal slugfest with Barack Obama in 2008 and dutifully serving as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton deserved that nomination more than anyone. Now I was no Clintonite that season-I thought her followers were off their rockers, and I had to write off several capable bloggers like Taylor Marsh and the folks at Corrente because I couldn’t brook the resentment and the conspiracy, not dissimilar at all to the way I reacted to the Bernie brigades.
But there’s a contemporary hole in this rule about the conservative nature of parties, or so it would seem. Donald Trump showed you could come out of nowhere, go full retard and win. Now of course, the same forces that caused Hillary’s defeat that I outlined above were in play for his victory. Yet, perhaps in his unorthodox win there’s a message to us on the left-that there’s room to move, that people are hungry for rarer species (or, this could simply mean that Republican voters are stone cold stupid-maybe both things are true). There’s certainly no better time than now, when people are having more trouble than ever making ends meet, to tell them that the government is coming to the damn rescue using all available trucks to meet the emergency. That dynamic may be a major factor in Trump’s win-the straightwhitechristianmale supremacist axis is getting out-birthed and out-educated and the people who support that system were looking for a savior, not a politician-and Donald…and it makes me grit my teeth to say this…played the part with aplomb and people bought it.
People are generally panicky in America right now, no matter who they are. A level of responsiveness, immediacy and throwing off of caution could benefit anyone willing to say the right things-and with any luck, carry enough people with them to do the right things. I’m willing to stop the fretting that I have been doing to see if the idealists are actually onto something, and should that gambit fail, I’m gonna riot.
Numbers usually don’t lie, unless the math is bad. But mostly numbers tell less lies than words do.
In the early hours of November 9, 2016, we began digging a shallow grave for the science of polling. Everybody who was somebody in the polling industry around that time was dead wrong about who was going to win the presidency. Some hedged a little, but pretty much everyone got caught with their ass out.
Donald Trump, who desperately needs vindication because he’s really insecure, crowed and crowed that He beat the odds. And ever since his statistically unlikely win, he has waged a war on information and analysis whether it is in the form of numbers or words. His charisma, or whatever the hell you want to call what he exudes, will always win the day over pesky facts and figures.
Before I go further on that, I should point out that there’s history of this marginalization of information. The right wing has been pushing the bullshit line that most polling is “liberal” for a long time now. The same goes for news. They shit on unfavorable information with abandon, cooking up all kinds of lunatic paranoid scenarios instead- but aren’t ashamed at all to point wildly to the always-wrong evil media hydra when their biases are suddenly seemingly confirmed by it. For a good recent example, there’s Chris Matthews, who is considered a lying fake libtard “MSM” shill-except this time he said something they want to be true. He said after the Comey testimony that Trump/Russia died because of it (an opinion), even though Comey could not answer in an open session as to whether or not Trump/Russia was a thing. As you can see from the link, conservatives fell all over themselves getting that sentence out to its readers, context and setting be damned. The filter for right wing information is very thick, but the transmission of information favorable to the right wing that does dribble out has an incredible velocity. For a minute there Chris Matthews had more cred with you than Karl fucking Rove.
Chris went back to being a paid hack liar etc. right after that utterance, I’m sure.
Frankly, if you ask the vast majority of liberals, you’ll find that Chris Matthews holds little currency among us. It certainly isn’t the first time he’s said something really tone deaf or off base. Wake me up when Rachel Maddow, a much more agile thinker, says something like this.
OK. With that in mind, stand back. I’m gonna say something positive about Donald Trump. No, that’s not the word I’m looking for. Something that is kind of the opposite of not-nice but not nice either.
Oh, to hell with it. Here goes:
Donald Trump is a fucking idiot.
But he’s a cunning fucking idiot. He knows you, and quite well, conservatives. Donald Trump isn’t aware of a whole lot, but one thing he does know is how to get your gears grinding. And like a demagogic Rumpelstiltskin he spins your ignorance and resentments into adulation for him, which Trump is now so addicted to that he’s still throwing victory rallies after seven months and you dumb clucks keep going to them. They’re nothing but ersatz call-and-response revivals with Donald Trump playing the smiling, confident good shepherd, reliving the magic of his miracle win.
Anyway, you all thought his long shot win was the death knell for the lying pollsters and dishonest lib journalism. Trump’s win was your wish fulfillment, after talking yourself silly for decades about how you couldn’t trust anything that Rush Limbaugh hadn’t cleared. Finally, the polls and the seasoned pundits were wrong and you were right.
Well, no one is right all the time. And it’s not really a poll’s job to be “right”, anyway. It’s there to show likely outcomes based on a sampling of the population. There was always a possibility that Trump could make the electoral math work, albeit a slim one. No one denied this. Shit, Michael Moore doesn’t know fuckall about polling but he nailed the election. Yet this was your moment to gloat that the pointy-headed intellectuals blew a call. And now Trump is telling you that after Him they will never be right again.
I wouldn’t count on that, but enjoy the sunshine while it’s on your side of the street.
It is true that at least the polling industry was knocked back on its heels real fucking hard, and it’s going to take more than a few prominent examples of correct prediction and careful information collection to show that the Trump triumph was just an outlier several standard deviations away from most of the predictions and that it’s OK to trust the information gatherers are going to get it just about right. Which is realistically all you can ask of it. It will face its first high profile, post-November test in ten days here in my state of Georgia, where Democrat Jon Ossoff appears to be beating Karen Handel in a district that Handel should win. Should be interesting.
I would be remiss if I did not emphasize the role of the Comey Bomb on the 2016 race, which scrambled the hell out of everything. I just had my carpet cleaned yesterday, and the cleaner had no shortage of disdain for President Trump so we had a fun discussion. But he didn’t vote, because he felt the re-emergence of the email investigation right before the election was evidence to him that Clinton was crooked. How he came to feel that way is part of another essay, one that I do not have the patience or perhaps the stomach to write just yet.
“God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”-Galatians 6:7
Sometimes the Bible is capable of poetry. I mean, on balance it’s kind of a dry read, but there’s a reason so many people keep reading it for reasons other than scaring themselves straight. Much like its cousin, The Koran (and I imagine other books that spawned major religious movements), you can flip it open anywhere and eventually hit on something righteous and obliquely applicable to whatever shit you might be going through. It seems like magic, even though it’s as random as anything in this minutely probable universe.
I’d like to take a peek at the lesser religion called party politics. It runs a close second to actual religion in its power. Amongst the small-minded it’s as impolite to talk politics as it is to discuss religion because of how fucking personal it is.
It’s arguable that you can put politics of any stripe on a strict left-right continuum, because of chowderheads like “libertarians” who are crude individualists (an utter absurdity in any advanced society) who dip from anarcho-capitalist standoffish I-got-mine-so fuck-you politics but also don’t-mind-the-gays-as-long-as they-don’t-try-to-fuck-me. It’s the height of straight male white privilege to call yourself a libertarian because all the doors are open, and you can burn a bridge or ten without incurring much harm. It firmly belongs in the right wing box along with other forms of fundamentalism that seek to stratify and disunite.
Let’s just make it simple and say that there’s a straight line from left to right, and we can overlay the two American parties that really matter upon it without much seepage. I don’t think I need to really explain that. Obviously, if you are a left-leaner, you are highly likely to vote Democratic, and if you cop to being a right-winger you will press the button for Republicans.
We dislike each other with purple passion. They Are Always Wrong And We Are Always Right. One of us is un-American, and who you ask determines who that is.
So we come now to the topic of self-deception. How is it that we so often find no fault in our respective religions? Is there a limit to how many dissonant facts can be swatted away without reconsidering that one’s position is shaky?
I don’t know about you other lefties, but I’ll let you know when Democrats are fucking up. However, I’m willing to allow a degree of transgression in order to do two things: protect that which I have that is good and protect me from the other side who wants to take it.
It’s not an ideal situation, but nothing ever is, no matter how hard you try in this life. Some of you lefties need to fucking figure that out, and soon.
So I have to assume that the same survival instinct is present in Republican voters, and let’s face it, they know how to stick together way better than lefties do. They have their own conception of what is good (God, guns, money, suspicion of difference) and they are supra-forgiving of the occasional shortfalls of Republican leaders.
But no one left or right can really fully explain President Donald Trump. Or can they?
I remember when we on the left side declared George W. Bush “Worst President Ever”. As we know now, we realize how tiny our imaginations were back then.
I must pause for a second to say that Bush was a terrifyingly bad president, and we would do well to remember that things were really fucking bad under him. Donald Trump is bad for different reasons, and also represents the potential to be way worse, especially since his presidency is but an infant.
Trump’s win is the triumph of many “anti”s. Anti-intelligence. Anti-facts. Anti-immigrant. Anti-woman. Anti-environmental conservation. Anti-any religion besides Christianity. Anti-gay. Anti-any race except white. Anti-empathy. Anti-poor. Anti-free and independent press. This is by no means an exhaustive list.
He’s the last gasp of the people who have been running this crazy country from jump. All of the majorities, all the former majorities have their hopes and dreams pinned on a narcissistic crooked stupid heedless belligerent deranged loudmouth billionaire boor who is pretty much using all their shitty feelings towards others to increase his own power. Hate is the fuel which propels the Trump choo-choo, and it seems that the Republican Party doesn’t mind because it has been slyly trafficking in this kind of nasty resentment for a while now.
It remains to be seen just how oblivious the party and its supporters are to Trump’s potentially fatal faults, faults which could slime the whole machine. But we got a taste yesterday after James Comey said under oath that Trump is a goddamn liar, and possibly a lawbreaking one at that. Turns out the Republican frog is not aware that the heat got turned up in the pot yesterday. As with everything…um, questionable this guy has done in the past year, there seems to be a collective ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. After the hearings, no less than the Speaker Of The House, Paul Ryan said:
“The president is new at this, he is new to government, and so he probably wasn’t steeped in the long running protocols that establish the relationships between DOJ, FBI, and White Houses. He is just new to this.”
This is rich coming from a party that couldn’t shut up about the inexperience of the black guy who just vacated. One of two things is happening here: Paul Ryan knows the average Republican is as dumb as a car fender and is aware of his voters’ high pain tolerance. Equally likely is that Paul Ryan is also as dumb as a car fender and doesn’t realize how much trouble the party might be in.
Trump voters are equally deluded/conned. Here’s some highlights from a focus group:
“(Tuckman) had nine Trump supporters watch the morning hearings with him at Rick’s Tavern and Grill and then return to answer questions about the former FBI Director’s testimony.
“First thing i want to ask you, it is a crime when you testify before Congress to lie, it is perjury and you can to prison for it,” Tuckman began. “Raise your hand if you believe James Comey lied. Four of you believe he lied.”
Then Tuckman inquired about the focus group participants’ view of Donald Trump.
Comey “says that Donald Trump quote told lies plain and simple,” Tuckman followed up. “Raise your hand if you believe that Donald Trump lied at all about the situation. None of you believe it.”
The CNN journalist was baffled by results and followed up with direct questions of the voters.
“Well, first of all, things can be distorted and appear like lies, and I think maybe the media might have be distorted some things and now we’re not getting both sides,” one of the Trump supporters rationalized.
“Let me ask you, a show of hands, how many of you feel better about Donald Trump, your president, after this hearing?”
All hands went up.”
And they said Ronald Reagan was the Teflon president.
As I said, it is clear for certain is that they don’t know how heavy an albatross Donald Trump truly is around their necks (although there are interesting signs of fear amongst the brethren here and there). He is still A Republican (corollary: Not A Democrat). They really think they can ride this snake to the lake and get away with all of their irresponsible legislative priorities before anyone sane can do anything about it. Somehow or other, when the Trumpian singularity finally becomes unstable and blows the fuck up all over them it will be someone else’s fault. No one on the right wing will get any smarter about being a Republican because of the criminality of its leaders. It survived Nixon and Bush, Hoover, and Harding.
You can’t kill party politics. It just comes back in a different guise, but at base it’s the same pernicious American way of self-deception and there seems to be no bottom to it. Most, if not all of us are chained to these organizations no matter how naked the lunch is. Some seem to think otherwise, but that shit is for dreamers. In the near future, we good lefties have to do what we can to change from the insides of our beast, but let’s not demand a shaman. We have to play the party game too if we are to survive as a bloc. Otherwise, we can increase the chances of another unabashed monstrosity on the other side-even though Donald Trump by any honest measure is on track to be the stuff of legends, legends that no one will believe unless they had been witness.
It’s an interesting time to be a comedian. Donald Trump’s daily utterances and actions are just sitting there, waiting for someone clever to pick them up and run with them.
If you ask the more successful ones, you will find that they consider themselves very serious people with a job to do. They may not be journalists or historians, but they believe they are on the front line of the culture wars. They have Something To Say.
Push the envelope. Say out loud what people are only thinking. Step over the line and cause a reaction. Ridicule authority. That’s what the good ones are privileged to do.
It’s a tough call when you have to produce an opinion on whether a comedian has gone too far. Are they protected wildlife, no matter what they say?
There’s an artistry to a good jab that makes people think. And the size of the pass we give to a comedian is roughly proportional to how good the jokes are.
Yesterday, Bill Maher, a white man who is a comedian, dropped the N-bomb on TV. It’s going to be a pain in the balls to keep this clip up, but here goes:
Now, in fairness, I may need to watch this whole interview for better context, but it wasn’t really funny-a big leap for a bad joke. I’m about 99% sure that it’s just not OK to use the damn word if you are white, and this wasn’t part of the 1% of the time when it might be OK. That’s just the way it is, and most white jokers can do without this word in their set.
Chances are Bill Maher’s career will survive a bad racist joke. He’s far too important to cut loose, if you ask me. I’m of two minds on Bill, as most of us are. Bill Maher’s show, Real Time, is an amazing environment for no-holds-barred political discussion that is not easy to come by. Some of the shows are truly electrifying. As for my love for Bill Maher himself? I don’t have much. In places, he’s the worst part of the show. I have to sit through 5 minutes of predictable stand up, he’ll stop a great debate to do unfunny bits with lame props, and then we have to endure “New Rules”. On the other hand, he finishes typically with a very good common sense rant. He’s also shown himself to be a good discussion moderator with a low tolerance for bullshit, and he has his facts right in front of him in case anyone tries to make things up in an argument. He’s an out atheist too, and that’s another reason I still think we need him.
It should go without saying that it’s not for me to pardon Bill Maher for using the word. I’ll be interested to see how black comedians respond.
But I don’t really want to tarry on Bill Maher too long. What I really want to know is what the hell is wrong with Kathy Griffin.
She’s come seriously undone, and it’s embarrassing for all of us Trump haters.
As I said, I haven’t found Kathy Griffin funny for decades now, and there certainly wasn’t anything funny about her photo shoot, even though she did it as a comedian and sure, I’ll be charitable, as an artist. But I supported her right to go there anyway. Presidents are not sacred cows, and that goes tenfold for a petit tyrant like Trump. That’s not how it works here, or anyplace else that respects free expression.
What I don’t really understand is how Kathy didn’t see the reaction coming. I think it’s safe to assume that she’s a liberal, just like you and me. We have studied the antics of the right wing and know that they’re a violent bunch, obsessed with guns and convinced they are God’s wrath on this earth. So you know going in when you’re about to take a hard shot at their president, they’re likely to threaten you with harm. Why wasn’t she ready? She reacted to the ugliness like a puppy who got hit on the nose for shitting on the carpet. It was an ignominious retreat. And it was totally unnecessary.
So she’s sorry. Very sorry.
Now she’s a victim of Donald Trump, who is trying to ruin her life. “He broke me,” said Kathy several times. She has a lawyer friend now, and she sounds recalcitrant instead of penitent. Which is where she should have been in the first place. But it’s a weird sort of fire that’s in her belly right now that I’m not sure I can follow.
“If you don’t stand up, you get run over,” Griffin said. “What’s happening to me has never happened in this great country. A sitting president of the U.S. … is personally trying to ruin my life forever.”
That first sentence is quite true. But history is probably littered with examples of “powers that be” attempting to ruin people’s lives. Dick Cheney tried to jeopardize Valerie Plame’s life because her husband called bullshit on the Iraq/uranium connection that he and his flunkies had worked so hard to lie about to start their horrible little war. Richard Nixon’s goons were looking for evidence that Daniel Ellsberg was mentally ill to discredit what would become the Pentagon Papers. So give that shit a rest, Kathy. It’s the kind of histrionics I expect from Donald Trump, who thinks that no politician has ever been treated as badly as he has.
Bloom said the comedian was contacted by the U.S. Secret Service and said she has retained a criminal lawyer.
OK. Not surprising, really. This might actually be unnerving, but again, I’m not sure why Griffin wasn’t prepared.
“As a result of the first family bullying her, she has been vilified, getting death threats, fired from multiple jobs and had multiple events canceled,” Bloom said.
Donald Trump does not need to tsk-tsk Kathy Griffin in public for the death threats to fly. Even if he said nothing, every right wing bigmouth with a TV show, blog or radio station would still have gone up her ass and sent their flying monkey audience after her.
And she got fired from her goofy gig for New Years. Duh. All of these things could have been telegraphed.
Griffin and Bloom believe the comedian has received harsher backlash because she is female.
Hmmm, it’s certainly possible, but this would not have been well-received no matter who did it. I think there’s a lot of doughy keyboard kommandos that got off on debasing a woman out there, but if a guy did this the opprobrium would still be there.
It just seems like she was not ready to take her “art” to the next level at all. I did read somewhere that she said that she and the photographer gave the shoot five minutes of thought. That sure seems clear.
I really should give her breathing room, because it was a powerful statement of defiance against a dangerous head of state, a statement that if made in some corners of the world would get her boiled or stoned. I just wish she hadn’t shrunk away, and I wish she didn’t have to compose herself in public or cry victim.
“I’m going to make fun of him more now,” she said.
Good, Kathy. Hit ’em hard, hon. Please don’t be afraid anymore, your country needs the laughs and the jabs. Parlay this thing you did into something great.
(Began May 31, 2017)
Hello, occasional visitor.
It has been some time between sessions at the seminary. And I really can’t tell you why. I have no excuses. I began a whirlwind autobiography on how I became a filthy libtard and have not returned to it; and Tucker Carlson has pretty much been pinning the asshole meter at Fox.
Perhaps it’s like this. Lately, every damn day is nothing but a harrowing procession of stories about Donald Trump’s reign of error. It’s like a blitzkrieg of shit news. Just this morning, Trump is purported to be ready to withdraw from an environmental agreement that the entire world signed up for except for Nicaragua and Syria. By the time the day is over, there will be three or four more bombshells about the bankruptcy and fecklessness of this administration. It could be another story about yet another campaign promise which the president has done a 180 on. Or one on how he’s draining the swamp in reverse, 1984 style. Another on how he’s becoming like a talentless Brian Wilson at his worst. Maybe, at the end of a day full of missteps and miscues, there will be a tweet at 11:59 that suggest the president is eating Lunesta by the scoopful.
And then there’s Russia, where every day we find a new connection to Trump and his cabal. How anyone wants to slog through that is beyond me. That’s for real journalists, not me. Bless those people.
What I am trying to say, before I get to saying what I want to say, is that it’s all become rather exhausting. I must be fatigued. It is far easier to share new fresh hell on Facebook with a click than it is to expound on what’s coming down the shit chute at any given hour.
I am slowly coming around to the idea that what is happening is that it’s just another day in America, and that Donald Trump has become, oddly enough…normal.
Is he fucking up the country?
Is it a day that ends in Y?
But I’ve got to try to deal with it better and not get swamped. I seem to have clammed up a bit because of Trump fatigue. This isn’t the first time this has happened to me here. Nor is it the second.
Then there are others who simply lash out, and that’s not exactly where I want to be either. Oh, there are times when I am a bit more demonstrative against the forces that teach us to resent each other, cause suffering, and spread hate, ignorance and misunderstanding. For example, I live in Georgia. We have a bluegrass festival every year. I don’t love the genre, but the musicianship is fairly amazing. I used to really dig the Dead and now I know where their roots are. These bluegrass folk clearly love to play their instruments. One dude last year plugged in a mandolin and I swear that his solo was goddamn heavy metal. This year, The Avett Brothers came and they did “Black Hole Sun” in memoriam of a rocker. Anyway, so I’m in a red state in a deep red county, about to go party with a few thousand pale-faced country music lovers, and this is what I chose to wear:
As should be well known by now, poor white people, especially in states like Georgia, believe they’re going to be rich someday if only their taxes were lowered so they wouldn’t have to feed the grubby ni**ers and illegals. They consistently vote for the rich people most likely to do them economic harm. Makes no sense. So I got accosted by more than one jackhole who wanted to argue with me about my shirt. We were all drunk so at one point my wife had to rescue me from trying to converse with the lizard people.
Permit me the clumsy segue. Let’s talk about if it’s “OK to punch the Nazi“. More specifically, we need to talk about whether or not it’s OK for the left to get into violence.
I need to admit it: I enjoyed watching professional racist Richard Spencer get walloped in the head by a counterprotester. Oh, come on, you thought it was great too.
It was kind of a watershed moment for today’s American left, where anarchy (or what we are now calling “antifa”) was introduced to a mainstream liberalism for whom nonviolence has been a key tenet for almost 40 years. Most of us are more the disciples of Martin Luther King Jr. than we are the Weather Underground. We march and we ridicule instead of break windows and burn effigies.
It feels good, good to know we are together now to resist. It also may be working on some fronts. I think mobilization has really blunted any Republican taste for much of the awful legislation people like Trump and Paul Ryan want to pass. In many corners, we are winning because we stand side by side. Organization is very important to left causes, because we have to work against a heavily propagandized right wing citizenry who has the entire AM dial, a cable “news” network and a well-developed internet presence bellowing disinformation and nastiness to it all day and night. I lament that we needed Donald Trump to really wake us up, but for better or worse, here we are.
So do we need to go further? Do we need to be disruptive in other ways that aren’t as comfortable? Is it time to move, time to get down? Time to
Because the hate is gettin’ fairly fuckin’ thick out there. You have to be blind to miss it, and still so many are. It took Donald Trump’s win to really galvanize the right wing as well, you see…hence this “alt-right” which is the id that the right wing superego could no longer contain. They’ve always talked here and there about a civil war between conservatives and liberals for as long as I can remember, which is one reason the guns keep flying from the shelves. And I hope the day does not come when Portland happens weekly because the wheels will really start to come off and sides will get chosen. I may not be here for it, but the kids most definitely will if we don’t find common ground and understanding. That may not be in the offing…I’m not terribly sanguine about the future. We may have broken the country for good this time. Time is the only thing that will tell us.
In the meantime, we good liberals are getting a bit froggier than usual. Stephen Colbert, erstwhile mild-mannered nighttime talk show host, has opined that Vladimir Putin’s dick should go into Donald Trump’s mouth when he’s not using it. Conservatives, who ordinarily have disdain for the politically correct and the easily offended, bitched and whined without irony that he had gone too far, and to Colbert’s credit, he didn’t back down. What Stephen realizes is that you can’t win with these ‘tards. They’ll get on you no matter what you do. What you believe as a liberal is enough to enrage them daily, they don’t need a harsh, pointed joke at their movement’s leader to begin their calumny.
So give ’em a kick in the family values. It’ll feel good and it’s fun to watch them holler. It’s not like they’re going to slow down on their offensive behavior, why should we hold our tongues for the sake of having manners? Manners are only of use when the receiver appreciates them.
I’ve been at this here and there all day today. I’m going to break here for some covfefe. Pleasant dreams.
(June 1, 2017)
Now. On to headier stuff.
Most of us past the age of thirty have a passing familiarity with comedienne Kathy Griffin. Most of us past the age of forty actually remember when she was funny. To her credit, she has survived through force of will in various iterations of a career. She did the sitcom thing, she hit the faghag circuit for a good bit, had a reality show, and every 365 days she earns a little making inappropriate sexual advances towards a gay man on TV for about two hours before an inane occurrence celebrated by drunk, maudlin sots wearing stupid number-shaped glasses otherwise known as the end of the calendar year.
Well, if we didn’t know it before, we definitely found out Tuesday that Kathy has an internet presence as well.
She’s probably as famous now as she has ever been. I saved a copy of one of the stills from a hard-to-forget photo shoot she did because I had a feeling it wouldn’t be around much longer. It has been mostly scrubbed from the polite part of the internet if Google searches are any indication. Only right wing ragefest websites like Breitbart are still hosting these pictures so they can make hypergeneralizations about the violence inherent in the left wing movement, once again without a trace of irony or self-awareness. I’m gonna post the picture, not because I want to put Donald’s battered head on a pike, or eat him (I like a little marbling, but not too much). I much prefer an option like exile a la Napoleon when the Terror comes to beheading a la King Louis XVI. But I think it does a disservice to Kathy to wipe away her statement, which she, unlike Colbert, would now desperately like to have disappear for feelings that are understandable, but unnecessary. For a shining moment, she summed up how done she was with this cheap ill-tempered loathsome criminal pretending to be a leader, protected by the glorious First Amendment. And she shared the fuck out of it.
And you righties thought you had the monopoly on political incorrectness. You’re a bunch of bitches compared to Griffin. Move over.
So the discussion still needs to be had: is it OK to get violent and still be a good lefty?
I’m going to answer in the affirmative after careful consideration of several dynamics. See, one of the reasons I think Griffin’s stunt fucked so many people up because it was visual.
And it was red and it was bloody.
It simply could not be ignored.
People have visceral reactions to visuals of this sort. Christ, remember when the Beatles wound some chop meat around themselves for an album cover?
That cover lasted about as long as Kathy Griffin’s stunt. People just couldn’t hack it, if you’ll pardon my accidental pun.
So there’s an “in your face and fuck you” compositional quality about it that causes it to dwarf some of the awful, inartful things people would do to Barack Obama’s effigies in absolute terms of violence.
Visuals, especially well done ones, are potent. They’re the first thing that comes to mind if you ask someone what art is.
Let’s use another medium for contrast. I have been a consumer of music for many moons now. And not even bands like The Crucifucks or MDC or Suicidal Tendencies, who all spoke of corporal violence against authority figures at a time when Kathy Griffin was still doing open mike night, move my needle as being necessarily shocking:
Do you see what I’m getting at? There’s a level of immediacy in visuals that leaves some other art in the dust. That’s not to say that the hardcore punks were tame in any way, they were breaking down barriers with sound that attacked you, much like the colors and imagery in the Griffin photo shoot. But singing “I wanna kill the president, chop off his head” is not the same as photographing yourself as someone who did the deed.
I’m ranking the senses, not ranking the expressions-I will always cherish “Our Will Be Done” and share it with other high-minded patrons of art and rebellion before I ever pull out Kathy’s photo.
Again, consider another medium. Are there sufficient words to describe the passion of Christ? Maybe. But Mel Gibson’s three hour torturefest sure upped the ante. I still refuse to watch that because I don’t get off that way. And I’m an atheist who couldn’t care less about Jesus and his pain (mainly because he and his dad are the stuff of old fairy tales).
Moving along, we could drill down on the fact that Griffin debased the image of a powerful white man. That upsets other male American whites, which is interesting because they haven’t been traditional victims of violence since never. Conservatives love this guy Trump not so much for what he does, but what he represents. I don’t have the time nor the inclination to take you back in time to his first political stints as a racist birther and bring you to today. If you don’t know by now that Donald Trump is a racist and a sexist, you can go jump in a lake. But what I am saying is Donald is the face of white male resentment-again, if you are not aware of this phenomenon, just go someplace else already, the rest of us have lapped you.
Kathy sure knows it, and she got sick of it and reacted. She went mano a mano, or cabeza a cabeza with the violence. In conservative land, it’s OK for Ted Nugent to say he wants to stick a gun in Hillary Clinton’s mouth or call the first black president a mongrel, but oh no, this cunt faglover can’t say anything about our bold, unapologetic president.
So we come full circle to the $64,000 question-is it OK to punch the Nazi? Is left wing violence the same or worse than right wing violence?
Frankly, I don’t think it should be expected of the left to always respond to right wing nastiness with a turn of the cheek. They use our core values of tolerance and respect for all against us. They call us hypocrites if we dare step out of the pigeonhole they have put us in and get intolerant of their intolerance. And that shit cannot stand. I’m not going to be policed by bigots or told by them I am offensive. I will not be disarmed by ironic charges of saying one thing and doing another. I’m all for peace and love but I know how to use an M-16 if it comes down to revolution or civil war.
The fact is that the just gods are rooting for the left side. We are the heirs of American democracy, which was begat by white aristocrats but belongs to everyone. Yet still the work continues to fight for equality even after all of our victories along the way. Because occasionally, we Americans take a step backward and elect a George Bush or a Donald Trump, and it can be hard to simmer quietly while they shit the country up.
Ultimately, Kathy Griffin could not stand the heat in the kitchen. But I don’t blame her for backing down at all. It is, after all, goddamn hot and getting hotter. Has she coarsened the political conversation? Hardly. By any objective measure, the time for comity was long past before her photo shoot. Civility is not always an option when you’ve got white nationalists and Nazi sympathizers in the Oval Office whispering to a mercurial and unsophisticated president who got into office because he peddled low-com-denom demagoguery to other unsophisticated people.
Remember: they demand of you a level of decorum that they do not demand of themselves. With that in mind, the occasional head punch and other assorted “violent” reactions are perfectly rational tools of resistance.
UPDATE 1 Jun 2017: Big sister Alex K. hits the Facebook scene on this story 10 minutes before me. She offers more content and clarity about the shoot than I could muster.