Author Archives: The Head Seminarian
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 everything that’s about to befall the children.
People of color.
Every oppressed person who goes unnamed because they don’t grab enough headlines.
We are about to be under siege.
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.
Folks, there is no end to Republican obsequiousness when it comes to our world leader pretend. They simply have no stomach for removing this son-of-a-whore smartphone dictator. I’ll say it; they’re un-American.
Mitch McConnell gives lip service to supporting the Mueller probe but can’t find the votes to see to it that Trump can’t fire his way out of jeopardy.
Some House members think he deserves a Nobel Prize for driving the Koreas into each others’ arms by threatening to nuke the north. All that did was help cede East Asia to Sino-Russian control. This is the reverse of Making America Great. All the evidence points towards our influence around the globe waning. We are withdrawing from world treaties, breaking promises, and trying to build a wall around ourselves. Pretty soon, when you’re not looking, the America you love is going to be a prison colony, always at war with Oceania, cornered and paranoid, threatening to nuke anyone who happens to cross Generalissimo Bone Spurs as he makes his customary 6 a.m. ragetweet on the royal shitter.
All the checks are failing because the people in power are either afraid to get pinched in the Russia investigation or they are going to be rewarded eventually for their ratfucking of that investigation. Trump has violated the Emoluments Clause dozens of times but these traitors stay mum. It’s the real reason why this cranky turkey is there; don’t be fooled by him working for free.
It’s time for some next level shit to stop this. It is up to we good liberals, and good Americans of all stripes to band together and end the reign of Donald J. Trump.
That’s going to take a pause in certain movements. In other words, the left needs to have one thing on its wishlist for now: an end to what will most certainly be a fascist coup if we are not careful. It may seem the stuff of fantasy that he will enjoy a second term now, but we all thought he wouldn’t get a first, ‘member? If the left and the patriotic center fail to put up a united front, this demented little Hitlerite is going to win again and he’ll try turn us into some First World consumer-driven version of North Korea, where he enjoys 99.9% of the vote like Saddam Hussein after registrations are canceled according to party affiliation by Cambridge Analytica. You better salute that flag, because they will take pictures if you don’t and poof, there goes your job. Then you’ll go on a reality game show and try to escape going to camp if Gwen Stefani doesn’t turn around during your apology to the leader. And if you rise up and resist against all of this, a well-regulated, heavily armed militia of khaki-clad incels will shut you down.
I’m using hyperbole but a more toned-down version of the universe I am describing has short odds of happening. We’re really fucking lucky that there’s two oceans between us and the rest of the world. I hate to imagine how we’d behave if any more territory was put near us. I don’t think Germany knew what it was becoming until it became what it had become, so let’s act like It Can Happen Here. It has been trying to happen for a very long time. This country, this land was not made for you and me. What a bunch of bullshit propaganda. It belongs to the capitalist swine who live to profit. And this damfool in the highest of high offices is handing out goodies to them at breakneck pace, and all you will get is squalor and a healthy dose of repression so that you stay in it.
How will we triumph? We must vote like we have never voted before. We are a democracy and we get to pick our
tyrants representatives. Yes, Tyranny Lite might be the choice but Tyranny Lite would never have let a fraction of what’s happening now happen. Tyranny Lite still has Fear and Shame, but not for long if we don’t support them. We must be ready to revolt if the ballot box has been stuffed. This much I know. But before we do that, I’m calling on the progressive wing to help the liberals get as much of that 45% that sits out democracy to the polls to stop the right-wing quislings from giving Donald Trump another four years to pick America’s bones clean at the behest of his friends (and I use that term loosely because any relationship with Donald Trump is strictly transactional and when you outlive your usefulness to him you then bye bye) and donors. It’s the only way to crush Donald Trump should he succeed in derailing the investigation of his rise to power.
In my tiny little corner of the world, Columbia County, Georgia, only 26% of REGISTERED voters declined to show up at the primaries and there were enough differences in the candidates in a few races that it really mattered whether or not people voted. That’s how disengaged we are. That’s how you get what you didn’t show up to stop and then you complain that the system is rigged. No. The system is rigged only to the degree of your civic languor. Like Barack Obama, the most decent man in the White House since Jimmy Carter said, be the change you’re waiting for. Otherwise, we deserve everything we get for the next six years or more. I used to think it really funny that wingnuts would have fits that Obama would try to stay in office past his eight. That’s not so funny now as I watch the machinations of this cabal running things. Even without emergency powers, President Trump’s legacy is easily prolonged by a Pence victory in 2024. Listen up-Ruth Ginsburg is not gonna outlast him so it would be best to stop this train to Fucktown before the Gorsuch era begins dismantling precedents that really will make America smaller, ever smaller.
I’m calling for solidarity between oppressed groups too-and if that means that I think we should play identity politics I say so with gusto. It is a Big Stupid Lie that the left created identity politics. Sorry. It’s right-wingers and conservatives who make policy based on things like color, sex, and religious belief. And through this, if I may indulge in some Sociology 101, “identities” are created because of the shared experience in being oppressed. People who live their labels have to become brothers and sisters in arms. The nontraditional believer, the black, the brown, the gay, the woman, the dopesmoker- anyone else who has felt themselves second class citizens in this straight, Christian, blue eyed boys club-I don’t want to see you tear each other down, OK? Even down here in little ‘ol Columbia County we fought about these things. And I will be livid if I watch one side here take its ball and go home because the candidate who won was, to be generous, less than perfect.
We screwed the pooch in 2016. I don’t want a repeat, the stakes are too high. Every goddamn hand needs to be on deck if we’d like to cut short the continued inauguration of a Dark Age in the land of the free.
I honestly thought that I was going to be able to stop writing about Donald Trump for a minute there. But it’s hard to ignore a global terrorist.
Now what do I mean by that?
The position of President of The United States is not merely the head of the American system of government. When we emerged victorious from World War Two over the Axis powers and stabbed Stalin in the back, we created two distinct spheres of influence on the globe-Russian and the American-and both countries have been struggling back and forth to expand theirs for the last 70 years or so without nuking us commoners to kingdom come. We call the American president the “leader of the free world” and we use our considerable military superiority to place more countries under our protection
racket. In a nutshell, what the president does in no small part is manage an empire of fiefdoms and clients, often far from our shores to ensure our primacy upon the globe in addition to executing our laws.
Some of you thought Donald Trump had the CV for that job. You reasoned that a businessman was going to be good at managing an empire. There’s an element of common sense in that. Politicians don’t have the best record in the game of looking out for our interests. I understand.
What you didn’t realize is that Donald Trump is a fairly shitty (some would certainly add shady) businessman. You had many opportunities to know that, and you failed to do your due diligence. Trump is good at starting stuff, but isn’t much for finishing it. Sound familiar? It should. That’s Trump’s real fucking trademark if there is one-doing things half-assed. But anyway, he has worked very hard at trying to make his name a household word, one you can trust. Instead, it’s synonymous instead with “ripoff” and “corrupt”. Now I’m not a businessman, but Donald’s batting about .400 in terms of successful ventures. I’ll grant that list is impressive in terms of sheer ambition, but it means that more than half the time Donald doesn’t get it right even when the wind is at his back. We’re all a few bong rips away from a dozen business plans with our names on it, and I’m betting they would be better thought out than Trump Steaks. We just don’t have the access to capital for our dreams and follies and that is the difference between a regular American and a guy like Trump. He knows how to work the system and “win” even when he loses. Such is the way of the wealthy.
He’s also a fucking boorish, ultra-addled, perverse, spiteful, infantile, self-absorbed ex-playboy who is using the presidency to promote himself and his businesses in clear violation of the Constitution. A lot of you were into his act, all that MAGA horseshit and all the “winning” he was going to give you while not officially taking a dime to do so, and it will take the experts to explain to me why someday. I can only offer that the madness of crowds makes people do dumb things, even dangerous things. It’s much easier to be a terrible person in the midst of a mob. But you all should know by now that you got played. None of you pikers will “win” from a Trump presidency. In fact, a good bit of you are losing. Most of the old guard conservatives are coming to Jesus and television every day to tell you what a mistake letting a base miscreant like Donald Trump go on the ultimate power trip of being President of the United States was. He’s bad for the movement and they probably all know that Donald did everything he’s being investigated for and more. Hedging against Trump’s survival has good odds.
It was weird psychic voodoo that Trump cooked up for you. Now you all know I don’t give Trump any credit whatsoever for stumbling his way into the Oval Office. He is surely one of the stupidest creatures who has ever drawn breath in my lifetime. But he told you that you were in hell and you believed it. And only he knew the way to heaven and it worked like gangbusters.
It’s so strange to think of it sometimes. He’s a textbook demagogue that can’t fucking read. He’s a fascist totalitarian who can’t spell those words. I look for gods to thank that Donald isn’t terribly bright and sleep well knowing that he can’t run
a con on everything in the government, try as he might, by larding it with comical flunkies and like minded maniacs, because the system was built to stop a president like Donald Trump (at least that’s what I tell myself when I want to sleep well). And he fires flunkies faster than he can hire them. Eventually if this pace of dismissal and resignation keeps up, the entire cabinet will be comprised of Donald Trump sockpuppets and perhaps Ivanka.
As of this writing, Trump has withdrawn from the Iran nuclear deal, claiming he can get a better one. Ha! I’d love it if someone in the press can ask him what was wrong with it in the first place and what improvements he wanted to make. But you and I know he doesn’t know, it’s just because that black bastard Obama signed it and that’s why Sarah Sanders is out there lying in his stead about her boss who turns everything he touches to shit. He’s also very proud that Israel claimed Jerusalem and sent kin and business to the grand opening, not mindful at all of the death and anguish brought about by this reckless choice. After all, they’re just A-rabs with the wrong god, the Middle Eastern version of the American Indians.
But take heart, other dealings are afoot. Uday may have done a little colludin’ and he’s not coughing up the identity of a caller while The Trump Tower Meeting took place. Also, Michael Cohen could be on the bad side of jail bars if we find out that he was taking money for favor with his boss. The pace of these developments is increasing. But we must sit tight and wait.
Wait. Just a little more.
It’s almost dawn.
The thread will be torn.
It looks like my days as a writer are coming to an end, if this journal is any indication. Gone are the days when I used to come here three times a day to get something off my chest. Now I go a month without writing. Social media has rendered blogging extraneous, but that’s a lame excuse to stop. The good news is that I am trying to expand my knowledge of the guitar, because even at my amateur level ( I know no theory, or keys, or technique) there are moments where I transcend, hitting that spot where noise becomes an actual expression of feelings.
I must force myself to do this, this writing thing. That’s unfortunate, because now and then I am good at it. My primary target online has been one Donald J. Trump, who is currently “leading” this country via his smartphone. I don’t know how we put ourselves in this situation. Everyone with an intact prefrontal cortex is trying to figure out how we collectively found the absolute stupidest person we have ever run across on this bluegreen ball and made him president. H.L. Mencken knew we were going to do this almost 100 years ago, and oil magnate turned Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reported from the field that he could confirm that we had done such.
I tire of the Trump saga. The ending is long overdue, and thanks to the chickenshit lassitude of Congress it will come far later than it ought to. There’s even a possible (some would even say probable given the credulousness of half of the voting population coupled with the infighting on the left) future that Trump will get another term. Lately, I just watch scandal after scandal drift by without bothering much to tarry upon them because no one in power wants to do anything about it. Eventually, Robert Mueller will pull the string that either gets him fired or gets Trump indicted. Wake me when that happens. I will march with you for sure.
Sometimes I think I should switch focus and begin to write about my struggles with bipolar disorder. Lord knows that this blog was born in the ashes of a very manic phoenix. I still keep my rants, as embarrassing as they are. They’re part and parcel of me, for better or for worse. Thanks to the VA and a pair of dedicated doctors, I’m coping and if you talked to me today you would have no idea that I lost my mind and got locked up in a loony bin. I have no career despite a four year degree, due to the severity of my illness. Now and then I think that unfortunate, but if I look back, in every job I have ever had I have always managed to disclose that I am not well by my actions or words. I was either the court jester or woefully incompetent at a job, often a mix of the two. Just what every functioning business needs. The Army was a strange but necessary choice for me because I never saw a bridge I didn’t want to burn. I am very lucky to have spent nine years in uniform, because I would never have been diagnosed as chronically ill were it not for the free and comprehensive healthcare I received during my hitches.
Bellyaching is customary in the service, so it’s no surprise to me when I hear soldiers or ex-soldiers criticize the armed service healthcare system. And it’s gotten political. Predictably, the conservatives are itching to fix the problem by introducing the profit motive, as if that ever helped anything. You don’t leave medical care to the lowest bidder, doubly so for the people who volunteer to get shot at for a living instead of you. The reality is that we broke a lot of soldiers in our recent history, and we need more hospitals and more doctors who study things like TBIs and PTSD. We could have improved the veteran infrastructure and a half a dozen other things by upping taxes on the absurdly rich at some point, who, like it or not, are really who our soldiers fight for so you can just zip it right now about us fighting for freedom. But nooo, we had to have tax cuts because Americans are really bad at looking out for each other and knowing where their bread is buttered (or knowing anything worth knowing, as seems to increasingly be the case thanks to a thriving misinformation industry). Anyway, it’s best for everyone that I am home, tending to the house while the wife toils in the insurance business. She’s going back to school at 40 to get her degree so she has more choices. No one winds up in insurance because they like it, unless you are at the top of the food chain selling policies and getting 5 digit commissions. You generally have to have a dick to get that job. So best for her that she gets out before she goes gray.
After a decade of treatment, we are still trying to hit the right pharmaceutical formula to help me be the best me. I guess it’s something I could expound upon that may be interesting to other sufferers of bipolar disorder and anxiety. Maybe I’ll fuck with that. I might also do music reviews of old music because that’s what I buy as a cranky old person-I used to enjoy a little rock journalism. There’s some other, darker stuff on my mind I’d like to get out, but it will take thousands more words to say it correctly and I’ve hit a thousand already talking about what I’m going to be talking about or not talking about. How exciting for you. I hope I screw up the courage and the will to use this thing again and try something.
I’m probably going to get this one wrong, but I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that it’s almost time to write the coda to the Trump fiasco.
She’s a proponent of the notion that Trump is applying chaos principles he used in business to the governance of the nation. All of you no-neck dumbfucks out there who thought it’d be a great idea if a businessman took over the operation should be forced to wear sandwich boards saying “HELP, I NEED CIVICS LESSONS”. But anyway, I demur from Haberman’s thesis. If you ask me, it’s more like this:
It’s going to take a lot for me to admit that our clown prince has any methods or any theories at all-not even chaos. For me, you can boil everything he does down to one thing, which is, will I be liked for what I am dong? All decisions stem from this peculiar, immediate, pathological need. So it looks a lot like a chaos strategy because none of it makes any sense if you aren’t thinking about Trump’s deep seated developmental disorder.
In any case, Maggie’s compiled a nice list of Jenga pieces that have been pulled. There’s been a LOT this week. Trump’s imposing tariffs on imported metals. It seems that one of Donald’s endgames is to build more than one wall. Whether we realize it or not we are going to spiral into a sort of soft fascism by believing that we can sustain our way of living without any outside help. Sound familiar? Yep. North Korea. Their existence is totally predicated upon a similar stubborn self reliance, and it’s plainly obvious how Orange Caligula’s ideas are analogous. America First. Make America Great. Combine this hypernationalism with the cult of personality that 35% of the country believes in, you have a recipe for a country on permanent alert and lockdown, full of people who are armed, fearful and angry. We’ve been working at this since 2001 but now the process is speeding like a bullet train. But anyway, prices are going to go up as a result of punitive tariffs, and the stock market is going to get the jitters too-especially if the Fed raises rates.
Then there’s the disappearing of Hope Hicks, Trump’s whisperer. Hicks allegedly told a few “white lies” to investigators and might have put herself in legal jeopardy. Without Hicks, Trump is reduced to watching “Fox And Friends” to get the positive feedback he desperately needs. And John Kelly is wringing out the nepotism, patronage, and corruption in the White House by pulling all the ridiculous interim security clearances that Jared Kushner, the president’s daughter and many of the staffers have enjoyed in order to view sensitive information. Kelly may be a tool, but he’s a professional tool. And the misadministration seems allergic to professionalism, perhaps because Trump needs to feel like he’s the smartest man in the room. But it’s going to be awfully quiet at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, because his national security advisor is also jumping ship.
Because Trump cannot be ever said to be firmly “on the reservation”, it’s not news that he isn’t. He’s got the ammosexuals in straitjacket fits by seeming to want to take people’s guns without due process, and for once, correctly calling out the cowardice of legislators when it comes to bucking the NRA. But, as my perspicacious friend always says, he’s all hat and no cattle. Haberman notes this typical backtracking. For all his talk, Trump’s kind of a little bitch when it comes to an actual fight. He steadfastly refuses to plant a flag anywhere, because that might require commitment and sustained attention, two things which he is short on.
A screaming comes across the sky. It has happened before, but there is nothing to compare it to now.
I think one of the worst things about the Trump misadministration is that it’s pursuing policies that serve to elevate the richest among us, and blaming the poor and unfortunate for America’s ills. The worst part is that the middle that World War II created is rotten and decaying, so there’s an untouchable money clan and an increasingly desperate hoi polloi left. And the rich are acting so put upon by having to take care of its labor and consumer force. This has been an intractable problem since the inception of the republic, and none of us can afford to take off work these days to demand that they elevate us a little for all the mind numbing, back-busting work we do for them. It’s easy to ignore us, for they feel that things like high-speed internet are luxuries we can afford and therefore the working poor experience is not so poor after all. Never mind that we are all one catastrophe, even one car repair from maxing out our credit cards that charge 25% interest. A rising tide can indeed lift all boats, but that’s not how the rich play it. The dividends belong to them.
Nobody in recent memory has exemplified this devil-may-care attitude towards the working class like Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and his gold-digging trophy wife, Louise Linton. I am sure you have seen this, but here’s a really gauche example of how out of touch with 95% of the country he really is:
That was a big moment for them, letting everyone know the heights they have been to. They literally have the money supply in their hands.
Now, this photo did not sit well with a lot of people, nor did they appreciate her bragging about the expensive things she was wearing at a political stop with the hubs. And like the spoiled little bitch she is, she reminded us how much they give to the country’s welfare, comparing it to how little we as individual workers do and how much they sacrifice-a spiteful, ill-mannered, highfalutin display of how not to do noblesse oblige. The Trump misadministration encourages people like the Mnuchins, and in fact is larding the government with swamp monsters like them. If you look at “President” Trump’s absurd budget, you will perceive that the rabble are on notice.
These rich motherfuckers haven’t the faintest clue how the rest of us live. To hear them tell it, we are living high on the hog in this country. And we have the nerve to be mad about it, to demand that our government be more responsive to our needs. Why, they’ve already paid your Costco membership, what are you bitching about now, greedy peasant?
Not being well off, or even simply working for a living has its share of anguish, but we little people band together-it’s the only thing we can do-and try to make this mortal coil a bit more bearable. It’s how democracy gets done. It’s how love is exchanged and created.
“You go through a town…. you can see the poorest of the poor and there’s still a smile on their face. It’s a different spirit that you don’t see in other parts of the world, where people walk around so solemn,” said Trump Jr.
He claimed the “spirit” of India’s poor “really shines through” and speaks “to the future potential of what this country can do.
He’s obliquely talking about our poor, of course.
See, Don’s a New York City jive turkey. Generally, New Yorkers, at least the Manhattanites I remember, didn’t have much time for pleasantry or a pointless smile. They were going from point A to Point B and you are in their way. And there are people in rags everywhere, competing for dwindling change. It’s hotter than Hades in the summer and freezing like a polar bear’s balls in the winter. Ain’t hardly a thing to smile about sometimes.
Then there’s the bums. Of course, not every bum was, um, solemn. In fact, some of them were quite lively-as a juvenile delinquent who made Manhattan his playground during the Koch/Dinkins years (read:before Guiliani ruined the place), we were often accosted by people willing to do goofy shit for a buck. One dude played television theme shows on a comb. Another one was a superhero. Buskers did what they loved. But for every one of those there were ten for which the streets of NYC were their open air asylum. I had a good time there in spite of this unfortunate tableau. But I had pocket money and a suburban New Jersey home to return to.
In a word, I was as clueless as Donald Trump Jr. about the nature of things around me. That’s what privilege will do to you. I was, to some degree, oblivious to other people’s pain.
And those are the eyes that Don Jr. sees through. Small wonder that he goes to the other side of the globe taken aback when he sees the impoverished smiling somewhere. Chances are they are grinning at him because he looks like he might give them money anyway. But people who suffer greatly often grin and bear it. It’s not peculiar to India, that I can tell you. Fifteen years ago, we broke Iraq. And I too was amazed at the ebullience of the people who were living amongst the wreckage that used to be their neighborhood. Of course, there were also massive demonstrations full of angry people who lost their way of living because of the invasion, so a few people smiling doesn’t tell the whole tale.
In the end, it’s simply obnoxious to suggest that the lowest classes in America should smile as they wake up another day on a heating vent living on cigarettes and papaya dogs, or be spiritual about their hardships as their corrupt leaders let tax money flow upwards to people like Fuckface Jr. That’s not going to happen. Go back to India, declare yourself a raja and don’t return.
There’s a meme out there somewhere that says that having (some number, sorry) illegal aliens in the country is better than one (Trump supporter, Republican…again, sorry).
No one has given me more reason to spottily remember it than good ol’ Todd Starnes. He’s one of those conservatives that derive their adult strength from Jesus and belittling unfortunate people after a school career likely marked by swirlies and getting shoved in lockers. Todd is a mealymouthed little twink with nothing to offer to a civil debate.
Before I begin shredding Todd, I had something of an epiphany about the immigration debate whilst trolling my brother’s Facebook page a few days ago, watching so-called Christians get all huffy about immigrants. I developed an axiom: if you have a lot to say against “illegals”, you’re a racist. Don’t give me that crap about breaking “laws”. That’s your cover story. You have issues with people whose skin color is not like yours and who don’t speak like you. You have probably never been hurt by an illegal (or been exposed to risk from them to a greater degree than you are vulnerable to homemade criminals), none of them have taken your job (in point of fact, they are doing the jobs you won’t do), and they do pay taxes without receiving benefits.
You are hung up because you are a prejudiced asshole. End of discussion. There’s a hundred things to bitch about regarding American life but choosing to plant your flag in this discussion above so many other deserving problems says something about you.
As it happens, being cruel to immigrants is as old as the country itself. For all of our talk about being a melting pot, we have always demeaned the latest wave of immigrants once we have become “Americanized”.
What’s in the name “Starnes”, I wonder? Most Starnes’ are from England, and the name’s root means “stern, uncompromising, austere”. I guess that fits him quite well, if only he didn’t look like look like a rodent who is packing his cheeks for winter:
Anyway, Todd’s as white as can be, hailing from the mother country. If there was an immigrant wave, you can bet a Starnes looked down on it.
Here’s the inconvenient truth on immigration. The problem is intractable and the current boob-in-chief, try as he might, will not fix it. Illegal immigration is a linchpin of daily American life. I wouldn’t be able to afford a chicken breast or enjoy a bunch of grapes if mega-food corporations used labor that they would pay in wampum if they could get away with it. This is the ugly reality sitting just below the surface of our American happy-go-lucky lives; that our polite survival is based, yet again, on slave labor. We don’t get paid enough in this country to make rent, how are we going to deal when a pack of chicken breasts costs eighteen dollars? Am I an amnesty supporter? Yes, of course I am. But a whole range of labor reforms would have to be tackled before we handle how to pay immigrants for the suckiest work that’s ever sucked. If indeed the aim of our corporate masters is to find that sweet spot for all of us between penury and subsistence, then the illegal immigrant issue will not get “fixed”. It’s going to stay the way they like it, and all of you stupid fucks like Todd Starnes will go on believing your bought off politicians when they say they’re going to scratch your racist itch.
Then there’s DACA. Children of undocumented immigrants born here face a possibility of being sent to a country they don’t know and didn’t come from. That is truly frightening shit and should NEVER happen here. Some of these kids are pursuing academics and serving in the armed forces. Donald Trump could have left DACA as it was, but he purposely kicked the legs out from under it, claiming it was not legal and punting the issue to Congress, where it was guaranteed to languish until it could be used as a bargaining chip in the scorched-earth politics Mitch McConnell trafficks in. Not feeling for these kids who were born of undocumented parents makes you a true scumbag.
So anyway, let’s go look at what the terminally punchable Starnes has to say today:
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and a number of other Democrats plan to fill the House gallery with illegal aliens when President Trump delivers his first State of the Union address on Tuesday.
ABC News reports at least 24 House Democrats plan to bring illegals — the so-called “Dreamers” — to watch the Tuesday night speech from the House gallery.
Whoa! Stop right there, Todd. As I explained above, there is a yuge difference between an “illegal” and a “dreamer”. “Dreamers” have until at least mid-March (and possibly beyond pending a court order to block the end of protections) before they can be targeted for removal. They are not illegal yet, you dumbshit.
The illegal aliens will be sitting in seats that in previous years were meant for brave military heroes, law-abiding taxpayers and America’s best and brightest.
Again, see above on the issue of taxes. Furthermore, there’s almost a thousand “dreamers” serving honorably in the military, which is way more than you can say for chickenhawks like Todd Starnes and Donald Trump for that matter.
The sad truth is that Democrats would rather align themselves with foreign invaders who violated our national sovereignty, thumbed their nose at the rule of law, and pillaged and plundered taxpayer-funded resources.
Foreign “invaders”? Really with that hyperbole, Todd? You sound like a frightened little Pomeranian who snarls and snaps at anything unfamiliar that gets close to it. Buck up. You are a Starnes, damn it.
In response, President Trump should fill the remainder of the House gallery with Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.
Imagine the message he could send to the world if he directed ICE agents to arrest every illegal alien in the House chamber – live on national television.
Aside from this being one of the most demented un-American fantasies I have seen in a while, once again, you stupid fuck-these people are legal.
There’s really not much point in more blow-by-blow here, because he gets basic facts wrong repeatedly. The whole piece is predicated on bullshit. But I hope I have made clear here that immigrants have so much to offer this country, way more than angry, hyperventilating white dorks who write a Fox opinion column whose only purpose is to spread misunderstanding and fear do.
I think I have figured out why Donald Trump used to talk so much about China during his campaign. There may have been more to it than just a harsh xenophobic dog whistle. He may have just been doling out the red meat for the rallies a la Mexico and the wall they aren’t paying for. But in reality, the Trump administration’s policy on China is…well…complex.
You would get the idea that China is a nemesis that stands against all we stand for if you listen to Trump on a superficial level. But that’s not the crux of the biscuit.
Here’s the secret: Trump thinks China is awesome.
Fact is, China is a competitor and Trump’s always up for a contest. It’s not insignificant that one of the big things he wanted America to do is “win” again. And winning for Trump is measured in dollars. He laments that our economic growth rate is anemic (it’s fine). He thinks our growth should be double what it is right now. Trump is jealous as shit towards countries who are metastasizing like that. China is what Trump thinks of when he thinks about growth and success, because it may be the only country on a map which Trump recognizes that has absurd growth rates. They’re actually slowing down now to a much less frenetic pace, but China nearly had to have another revolution to force those high numbers.
They became rapacious. They were going to produce until it hurt.
There was no price too high that they would pay to industrialize. They built an infrastructure of heavily polluting coal plants and factories across China. Tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of people died every year working in horrid conditions for a pittance. The air became unbreathable in places and the workers couldn’t afford anything that they produced for the rest of the world. This is how you get 7%-10% growth-you work your citizens to death(not unlike slaves), pay them nothing, sell the fruits of the labor for next to nothing and destroy the environment. And if you complain, you are arrested. There is no such thing as a free press-it’s all state media propaganda and the internet is heavily censored.
But today, China is learning to live with 6.9% growth. They have found that runaway growth is utterly unsustainable. Its technocrats are now more concerned with quality of life issues and they’ve gone looking to solar, wind and nuclear to reduce pollution levels. They have cool technology that scrubs air like a tree would. They’re coming out of the other side of their brutal experiment in growth, and getting ready to participate in the world market without things like currency manipulation, dumping, and old-fashioned protectionism. It still sounds like a shitty, unfun place to live, but they are progressing to the degree that they can.
So that’s what we know about China.
Wait for it.
I’m gonna make the jump and suggest that Donald Trump would love to turn us into China if he could.
He’s certainly contemptuous towards a free press. His views on so-called libel are dangerous. He could knock the legs out from under fledgling news gatherers by making court impossible to afford (Melania liked to break the will of tiny internet publications by threatening court over whether or not she was a ho). Ironically, Trump himself is an inveterate liar, making up all kinds of crazy stories ranging from the size of his inauguration crowd to claiming that millions of illegals voted in the 2016 election, which he won and still won’t let you forget a year later. Trump cannot really stop the media from reporting on him because of the Constitution-but he has learned to de-legitimize some of it and do an end run around it by using social media to calumniate against whoever opposes him or reports about him negatively. This snow job works on enough folks for it to pose a serious problem.
He wants to put the American environment to the torch. He’s willfully ignorant about global warming. He wants to hollow out the EPA, purging it of experts and making sure no one can discuss climate change within the agency. He’s extricating the United States from global pacts to reduce emissions. He wants us to go back to the dirtiest sources of energy possible (believing that there’s something called “clean” coal that comes out of the ground as such), drill offshore from sea to shining sea and give companies license to barf their toxins into our land, water and air by rolling back protections. All in the name of growth and business.
The Chinese are famous for being xenophobes. Trump may not be able to spell it, but that is what he is as well. His 2016 campaign was based in no small part upon getting peoples’ Irish up about immigrants and furriners in general. And that wall…amazing, great, beautiful, the best…
Finally, China has a history of currency manipulation. They don’t do it anymore, but in the past, they have allowed the value of the yuan to sink so that Chinese goods cost less in the rest of the world. Steve Mnuchin is totally down with keeping the value of a dollar weak, which may be good for our trade deficit but deleterious in other ways. We are also now dabbling in protectionist tariffs. These economic sleights don’t go unnoticed by the rest of the world, who will begin protecting their markets against our monkey business. And like I mentioned above, we won’t be able to afford Made In The USA because of poor worker protections and wage stagnation. It’s all very strange, because Republican orthodoxy states that markets should be free and now we are closing ourselves off with these aggressive moves, and ducking out of trade pacts. Oh, well. We’ve always been a country whose shadow motto is “do as I say, not as I do”.
Trump and his swamp monsters want to reduce Americans to a populace of serfs. After all, capitalism is just a mutated form of feudalism. It’s servitude with your choice of masters that feels like the exercise of free will. Our lives revolve around the caprice of the corporations and the financiers. However, I think the lords of the feudal past actually gave a shit about their subjects in a way that that Pfizer, Dupont, Cargill, the Kochs and the Mercers do not.