Author Archives: The Head Seminarian

Tucker Carlson Is An Asshole: 2018 Edition

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

At least that’s what my stats say.

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

So, why is Tucker such a hot topic lately?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Ham On Lie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Remembering John McCain

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Winner Winner Prison Dinner

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

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

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

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

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

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

But anyway, back to Reality.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reality

reality2

 

 

Clownland

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

He’s a fucking comedian now.

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

This is really big league embarrassing, people.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Unraveling? Yes.

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

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

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

Those are big deals. Thank you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fuck you for exploding gun ownership.

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

Fuck you for George W. Bush.

Fuck you for allowing religious discrimination because of sexual orientation.

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

Women.

The poor.

LGBT.

People of color.

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

We are about to be under siege.

A College Try To Explain Where I Am At With Religion

It’s so easy to be misunderstood online.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

A Time To Gather Stones Together

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.

Orange Julius Caesar

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.

 

Transitions

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.

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