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Taint By Numbers

Numbers usually don’t lie, unless the math is bad. But mostly numbers tell less lies than words do.

In the early hours of November 9, 2016, we began digging a shallow grave for the science of polling. Everybody who was somebody in the polling industry around that time was dead wrong about who was going to win the presidency. Some hedged a little, but pretty much everyone got caught with their ass out.

Donald Trump, who desperately needs vindication because he’s really insecure, crowed and crowed that He beat the odds. And ever since his statistically unlikely win, he has waged a war on information and analysis whether it is in the form of numbers or words. His charisma, or whatever the hell you want to call what he exudes, will always win the day over pesky facts and figures.

Before I go further on that, I should point out that there’s history of this marginalization of information. The right wing has been pushing the bullshit line that most polling is “liberal” for a long time now. The same goes for news. They shit on unfavorable information with abandon, cooking up all kinds of lunatic paranoid scenarios instead- but aren’t ashamed at all to point wildly to the always-wrong evil media hydra when their biases are suddenly seemingly confirmed by it. For a good recent example, there’s Chris Matthews, who is considered a lying fake libtard “MSM” shill-except this time he said something they want to be true. He said after the Comey testimony that Trump/Russia died because of it (an opinion), even though Comey could not answer in an open session as to whether or not Trump/Russia was a thing. As you can see from the link, conservatives fell all over themselves getting that sentence out to its readers, context and setting be damned. The filter for right wing information is very thick, but the transmission of information favorable to the right wing that does dribble out has an incredible velocity. For a minute there Chris Matthews had more cred with you than Karl fucking Rove.

Chris went back to being a paid hack liar etc. right after that utterance, I’m sure.

Frankly, if you ask the vast majority of liberals, you’ll find that Chris Matthews holds little currency among us. It certainly isn’t the first time he’s said something really tone deaf or off base. Wake me up when Rachel Maddow, a much more agile thinker, says something like this.

OK. With that in mind, stand back. I’m gonna say something positive about Donald Trump. No, that’s not the word I’m looking for. Something that is kind of the opposite of not-nice but not nice either.

Oh, to hell with it. Here goes:

Donald Trump is a fucking idiot.

But he’s a cunning fucking idiot. He knows you, and quite well, conservatives. Donald Trump isn’t aware of a whole lot, but one thing he does know is how to get your gears grinding. And like a demagogic Rumpelstiltskin he spins your ignorance and resentments into adulation for him, which Trump is now so addicted to that he’s still throwing victory rallies after seven months and you dumb clucks keep going to them. They’re nothing but ersatz call-and-response revivals with Donald Trump playing the smiling, confident good shepherd, reliving the magic of his miracle win.

Anyway, you all thought his long shot win was the death knell for the lying pollsters and dishonest lib journalism. Trump’s win was your wish fulfillment, after talking yourself silly for decades about how you couldn’t trust anything that Rush Limbaugh hadn’t cleared. Finally, the polls and the seasoned pundits were wrong and you were right.

Well, no one is right all the time. And it’s not really a poll’s job to be “right”, anyway. It’s there to show likely outcomes based on a sampling of the population. There was always a possibility that Trump could make the electoral math work, albeit a slim one. No one denied this. Shit, Michael Moore doesn’t know fuckall about polling but he nailed the election. Yet this was your moment to gloat that the pointy-headed intellectuals blew a call. And now Trump is telling you that after Him they will never be right again.

I wouldn’t count on that, but enjoy the sunshine while it’s on your side of the street.

It is true that at least the polling industry was knocked back on its heels real fucking hard, and it’s going to take more than a few prominent examples of correct prediction and careful information collection to show that the Trump triumph was just an outlier several standard deviations away from most of the predictions and that it’s OK to trust the information gatherers are going to get it just about right. Which is realistically all you can ask of it. It will face its first high profile, post-November test in ten days here in my state of Georgia, where Democrat Jon Ossoff appears to be beating Karen Handel in a district that Handel should win. Should be interesting.

Postscript

I would be remiss if I did not emphasize the role of the Comey Bomb on the 2016 race, which scrambled the hell out of everything. I just had my carpet cleaned yesterday, and the cleaner had no shortage of disdain for President Trump so we had a fun discussion. But he didn’t vote, because he felt the re-emergence of the email investigation right before the election was evidence to him that Clinton was crooked. How he came to feel that way is part of another essay, one that I do not have the patience or perhaps the stomach to write just yet.

Be Not Deceived

 

“God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”-Galatians 6:7

Sometimes the Bible is capable of poetry. I mean, on balance it’s kind of a dry read, but there’s a reason so many people keep reading it for reasons other than scaring themselves straight. Much like its cousin, The Koran (and I imagine other books that spawned major religious movements), you can flip it open anywhere and eventually hit on something righteous and obliquely applicable to whatever shit you might be going through. It seems like magic, even though it’s as random as anything in this minutely probable universe.

I’d like to take a peek at the lesser religion called party politics. It runs a close second to actual religion in its power. Amongst the small-minded it’s as impolite to talk politics as it is to discuss religion because of how fucking personal it is.

It’s arguable that you can put politics of any stripe on a strict left-right continuum, because of chowderheads like “libertarians” who are crude individualists (an utter absurdity in any advanced society) who dip from anarcho-capitalist standoffish I-got-mine-so fuck-you politics but also don’t-mind-the-gays-as-long-as they-don’t-try-to-fuck-me. It’s the height of straight male white privilege to call yourself a libertarian because all the doors are open, and you can burn a bridge or ten without incurring much harm. It firmly belongs in the right wing box along with other forms of fundamentalism that seek to stratify and disunite.

Let’s just make it simple and say that there’s a straight line from left to right, and we can overlay the two American parties that really matter upon it without much seepage. I don’t think I need to really explain that. Obviously, if you are a left-leaner, you are highly likely to vote Democratic, and if you cop to being a right-winger you will press the button for Republicans.

We dislike each other with purple passion. They Are Always Wrong And We Are Always Right. One of us is un-American, and who you ask determines who that is.

So we come now to the topic of self-deception. How is it that we so often find no fault in our respective religions? Is there a limit to how many dissonant facts can be swatted away without reconsidering that one’s position is shaky?

I don’t know about you other lefties, but I’ll let you know when Democrats are fucking up. However, I’m willing to allow a degree of transgression in order to do two things: protect that which I have that is good and protect me from the other side who wants to take it.

It’s not an ideal situation, but nothing ever is, no matter how hard you try in this life. Some of you lefties need to fucking figure that out, and soon.

So I have to assume that the same survival instinct is present in Republican voters, and let’s face it, they know how to stick together way better than lefties do. They have their own conception of what is good (God, guns, money, suspicion of difference) and they are supra-forgiving of the occasional shortfalls of Republican leaders.

But no one left or right can really fully explain President Donald Trump. Or can they?

I remember when we on the left side declared George W. Bush “Worst President Ever”. As we know now, we realize how tiny our imaginations were back then.

I must pause for a second to say that Bush was a terrifyingly bad president, and we would do well to remember that things were really fucking bad under him. Donald Trump is bad for different reasons, and also represents the potential to be way worse, especially since his presidency is but an infant.

Trump’s win is the triumph of many “anti”s. Anti-intelligence. Anti-facts. Anti-immigrant. Anti-woman. Anti-environmental conservation. Anti-any religion besides Christianity. Anti-gay. Anti-any race except white. Anti-empathy. Anti-poor. Anti-free and independent press. This is by no means an exhaustive list.

He’s the last gasp of the people who have been running this crazy country from jump. All of the majorities, all the former majorities have their hopes and dreams pinned on a narcissistic crooked stupid heedless belligerent deranged loudmouth billionaire boor who is pretty much using all their shitty feelings towards others to increase his own power. Hate is the fuel which propels the Trump choo-choo, and it seems that the Republican Party doesn’t mind because it has been slyly trafficking in this kind of nasty resentment for a while now.

It remains to be seen just how oblivious the party and its supporters are to Trump’s potentially fatal faults, faults which could slime the whole machine. But we got a taste yesterday after James Comey said under oath that Trump is a goddamn liar, and possibly a lawbreaking one at that. Turns out the Republican frog is not aware that the heat got turned up in the pot yesterday. As with everything…um, questionable this guy has done in the past year, there seems to be a collective ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.  After the hearings, no less than the Speaker Of The House, Paul Ryan said:

“The president is new at this, he is new to government, and so he probably wasn’t steeped in the long running protocols that establish the relationships between DOJ, FBI, and White Houses. He is just new to this.”

This is rich coming from a party that couldn’t shut up about the inexperience of the black guy who just vacated. One of two things is happening here: Paul Ryan knows the average Republican is as dumb as a car fender and is aware of his voters’ high pain tolerance. Equally likely is that Paul Ryan is also as dumb as a car fender and doesn’t realize how much trouble the party might be in.

Trump voters are equally deluded/conned. Here’s some highlights from a focus group:

“(Tuckman) had nine Trump supporters watch the morning hearings with him at Rick’s Tavern and Grill and then return to answer questions about the former FBI Director’s testimony.

“First thing i want to ask you, it is a crime when you testify before Congress to lie, it is perjury and you can to prison for it,” Tuckman began. “Raise your hand if you believe James Comey lied. Four of you believe he lied.”

Then Tuckman inquired about the focus group participants’ view of Donald Trump.

Comey “says that Donald Trump quote told lies plain and simple,” Tuckman followed up. “Raise your hand if you believe that Donald Trump lied at all about the situation. None of you believe it.”

The CNN journalist was baffled by results and followed up with direct questions of the voters.

“Well, first of all, things can be distorted and appear like lies, and I think maybe the media might have be distorted some things and now we’re not getting both sides,” one of the Trump supporters rationalized.

“Let me ask you, a show of hands, how many of you feel better about Donald Trump, your president, after this hearing?”

All hands went up.”

And they said Ronald Reagan was the Teflon president.

Sheeeit.

As I said, it is clear for certain is that they don’t know how heavy an albatross Donald Trump truly is around their necks (although there are interesting signs of fear amongst the brethren here and there). He is still A Republican (corollary: Not A Democrat). They really think they can ride this snake to the lake and get away with all of their irresponsible legislative priorities before anyone sane can do anything about it. Somehow or other, when the Trumpian singularity finally becomes unstable and blows the fuck up all over them it will be someone else’s fault. No one on the right wing will get any smarter about being a Republican because of the criminality of its leaders. It survived Nixon and Bush, Hoover, and Harding.

You can’t kill party politics. It just comes back in a different guise, but at base it’s the same pernicious American way of self-deception and there seems to be no bottom to it. Most, if not all of us are chained to these organizations no matter how naked the lunch is. Some seem to think otherwise, but that shit is for dreamers. In the near future, we good lefties have to do what we can to change from the insides of our beast, but let’s not demand a shaman. We have to play the party game too if we are to survive as a bloc. Otherwise, we can increase the chances of another unabashed monstrosity on the other side-even though Donald Trump by any honest measure is on track to be the stuff of legends, legends that no one will believe unless they had been witness.

Pick It And Stick It

It’s an interesting time to be a comedian. Donald Trump’s daily utterances and actions are just sitting there, waiting for someone clever to pick them up and run with them.

If you ask the more successful ones, you will find that they consider themselves very serious people with a job to do. They may not be journalists or historians, but they believe they are on the front line of the culture wars. They have Something To Say.

Push the envelope. Say out loud what people are only thinking. Step over the line and cause a reaction. Ridicule authority. That’s what the good ones are privileged to do.

It’s a tough call when you have to produce an opinion on whether a comedian has gone too far. Are they protected wildlife, no matter what they say?

There’s an artistry to a good jab that makes people think. And the size of the pass we give to a comedian is roughly proportional to how good the jokes are.

Yesterday, Bill Maher, a white man who is a comedian, dropped the N-bomb on TV. It’s going to be a pain in the balls to keep this clip up, but here goes:

 

Now, in fairness, I may need to watch this whole interview for better context, but it wasn’t really funny-a big leap for a bad joke. I’m about 99% sure that it’s just not OK to use the damn word if you are white, and this wasn’t part of the 1% of the time when it might be OK. That’s just the way it is, and most white jokers can do without this word in their set.

Chances are Bill Maher’s career will survive a bad racist joke. He’s far too important to cut loose, if you ask me. I’m of two minds on Bill, as most of us are. Bill Maher’s show, Real Time, is an amazing environment for no-holds-barred political discussion that is not easy to come by. Some of the shows are truly electrifying. As for my love for Bill Maher himself? I don’t have much. In places, he’s the worst part of the show. I have to sit through 5 minutes of predictable stand up, he’ll stop a great debate to do unfunny bits with lame props, and then we have to endure “New Rules”.  On the other hand, he finishes typically with a very good common sense rant. He’s also shown himself to be a good discussion moderator with a low tolerance for bullshit, and he has his facts right in front of him in case anyone tries to make things up in an argument. He’s an out atheist too, and that’s another reason I still think we need him.

It should go without saying that it’s not for me to pardon Bill Maher for using the word. I’ll be interested to see how black comedians respond.

But I don’t really want to tarry on Bill Maher too long. What I really want to know is what the hell is wrong with Kathy Griffin.

She’s come seriously undone, and it’s embarrassing for all of us Trump haters.

As I said, I haven’t found Kathy Griffin funny for decades now, and there certainly wasn’t anything funny about her photo shoot, even though she did it as a comedian and sure, I’ll be charitable, as an artist. But I supported her right to go there anyway. Presidents are not sacred cows, and that goes tenfold for a petit tyrant like Trump. That’s not how it works here, or anyplace else that respects free expression.

What I don’t really understand is how Kathy didn’t see the reaction coming. I think it’s safe to assume that she’s a liberal, just like you and me. We have studied the antics of the right wing and know that they’re a violent bunch, obsessed with guns and convinced they are God’s wrath on this earth. So you know going in when you’re about to take a hard shot at their president, they’re likely to threaten you with harm. Why wasn’t she ready? She reacted to the ugliness like a puppy who got hit on the nose for shitting on the carpet. It was an ignominious retreat. And it was totally unnecessary.

So she’s sorry. Very sorry.

No, wait.

Now she’s a victim of Donald Trump, who is trying to ruin her life. “He broke me,” said Kathy several times. She has a lawyer friend now, and she sounds recalcitrant instead of penitent. Which is where she should have been in the first place. But it’s a weird sort of fire that’s in her belly right now that I’m not sure I can follow.

“If you don’t stand up, you get run over,” Griffin said. “What’s happening to me has never happened in this great country. A sitting president of the U.S. … is personally trying to ruin my life forever.”

That first sentence is quite true. But history is probably littered with examples of “powers that be” attempting to ruin people’s lives. Dick Cheney tried to jeopardize Valerie Plame’s life because her husband called bullshit on the Iraq/uranium connection that he and his flunkies had worked so hard to lie about to start their horrible little war. Richard Nixon’s goons were looking for evidence that Daniel Ellsberg was mentally ill to discredit what would become the Pentagon Papers. So give that shit a rest, Kathy. It’s the kind of histrionics I expect from Donald Trump, who thinks that no politician has ever been treated as badly as he has.

Bloom said the comedian was contacted by the U.S. Secret Service and said she has retained a criminal lawyer.

OK. Not surprising, really. This might actually be unnerving, but again, I’m not sure why Griffin wasn’t prepared.

“As a result of the first family bullying her, she has been vilified, getting death threats, fired from multiple jobs and had multiple events canceled,” Bloom said.

Donald Trump does not need to tsk-tsk Kathy Griffin in public for the death threats to fly. Even if he said nothing, every right wing bigmouth with a TV show, blog or radio station would still have gone up her ass and sent their flying monkey audience after her.

And she got fired from her goofy gig for New Years. Duh. All of these things could have been telegraphed.

Griffin and Bloom believe the comedian has received harsher backlash because she is female.

Hmmm, it’s certainly possible, but this would not have been well-received no matter who did it. I think there’s a lot of doughy keyboard kommandos that got off on debasing a woman out there, but if a guy did this the opprobrium would still be there.

It just seems like she was not ready to take her “art” to the next level at all. I did read somewhere that she said that she and the photographer gave the shoot five minutes of thought. That sure seems clear.

I really should give her breathing room, because it was a powerful statement of defiance against a dangerous head of state, a statement that if made in some corners of the world would get her boiled or stoned. I just wish she hadn’t shrunk away, and I wish she didn’t have to compose herself in public or cry victim.

So, epilogue:

“I’m going to make fun of him more now,” she said.

Good, Kathy. Hit ’em hard, hon. Please don’t be afraid anymore, your country needs the laughs and the jabs. Parlay this thing you did into something great.

Shocking Red

(Began May 31, 2017)

Hello, occasional visitor.

It has been some time between sessions at the seminary. And I really can’t tell you why. I have no excuses. I began a whirlwind autobiography on how I became a filthy libtard and have not returned to it; and Tucker Carlson has pretty much been pinning the asshole meter at Fox.

Perhaps it’s like this. Lately, every damn day is nothing but a harrowing procession of stories about Donald Trump’s reign of error. It’s like a blitzkrieg of shit news. Just this morning, Trump is purported to be ready to withdraw from an environmental agreement that the entire world signed up for except for Nicaragua and Syria. By the time the day is over, there will be three or four more bombshells about the bankruptcy and fecklessness of this administration. It could be another story about yet another campaign promise which the president has done a 180 on. Or one on how he’s draining the swamp in reverse, 1984 style. Another on how he’s becoming like a talentless Brian Wilson at his worst. Maybe, at the end of a day full of missteps and miscues, there will be a tweet at 11:59 that suggest the president is eating Lunesta by the scoopful.

And then there’s Russia, where every day we find a new connection to Trump and his cabal. How anyone wants to slog through that is beyond me. That’s for real journalists, not me. Bless those people.

What I am trying to say, before I get to saying what I want to say, is that it’s all become rather exhausting. I must be fatigued. It is far easier to share new fresh hell on Facebook with a click than it is to expound on what’s coming down the shit chute at any given hour.

I am slowly coming around to the idea that what is happening is that it’s just another day in America, and that Donald Trump has become, oddly enough…normal.

Is he fucking up the country?

Is it a day that ends in Y?

But I’ve got to try to deal with it better and not get swamped. I seem to have clammed up a bit because of Trump fatigue. This isn’t the first time this has happened to me here. Nor is it the second.

Then there are others who simply lash out, and that’s not exactly where I want to be either. Oh, there are times when I am a bit more demonstrative against the forces that teach us to resent each other, cause suffering, and spread hate, ignorance and misunderstanding. For example, I live in Georgia. We have a bluegrass festival every year. I don’t love the genre, but the musicianship is fairly amazing. I used to really dig the Dead and now I know where their roots are. These bluegrass folk clearly love to play their instruments. One dude last year plugged in a mandolin and I swear that his solo was goddamn heavy metal. This year, The Avett Brothers came and they did “Black Hole Sun” in memoriam of a rocker. Anyway, so I’m in a red state in a deep red county, about to go party with a few thousand pale-faced country music lovers, and this is what I chose to wear:

20170526_202753

Communism can be sexy!

As should be well known by now, poor white people, especially in states like Georgia, believe they’re going to be rich someday if only their taxes were lowered so they wouldn’t have to feed the grubby ni**ers and illegals. They consistently vote for the rich people most likely to do them economic harm. Makes no sense. So I got accosted by more than one jackhole who wanted to argue with me about my shirt. We were all drunk so at one point my wife had to rescue me from trying to converse with the lizard people.

Permit me the clumsy segue. Let’s talk about if it’s “OK to punch the Nazi“. More specifically, we need to talk about whether or not it’s OK for the left to get into violence.

I need to admit it: I enjoyed watching professional racist Richard Spencer get walloped in the head by a counterprotester. Oh, come on, you thought it was great too.

It was kind of a watershed moment for today’s American left, where anarchy (or what we are now calling “antifa”) was introduced to a mainstream liberalism for whom nonviolence has been a key tenet for almost 40 years. Most of us are more the disciples of Martin Luther King Jr. than we are the Weather Underground. We march and we ridicule instead of break windows and burn effigies.

It feels good, good to know we are together now to resist. It also may be working on some fronts. I think mobilization has really blunted any Republican taste for much of the awful legislation people like Trump and Paul Ryan want to pass. In many corners, we are winning because we stand side by side. Organization is very important to left causes, because we have to work against a heavily propagandized right wing citizenry who has the entire AM dial, a cable “news” network and a well-developed internet presence bellowing disinformation and nastiness to it all day and night. I lament that we needed Donald Trump to really wake us up, but for better or worse, here we are.

So do we need to go further? Do we need to be disruptive in other ways that aren’t as comfortable? Is it time to move, time to get down? Time to

 

Because the hate is gettin’ fairly fuckin’ thick out there. You have to be blind to miss it, and still so many are. It took Donald Trump’s win to really galvanize the right wing as well, you see…hence this “alt-right” which is the id that the right wing superego could no longer contain. They’ve always talked here and there about a civil war between conservatives and liberals for as long as I can remember, which is one reason the guns keep flying from the shelves. And I hope the day does not come when Portland happens  weekly because the wheels will really start to come off and sides will get chosen. I may not be here for it, but the kids most definitely will if we don’t find common ground and understanding. That may not be in the offing…I’m not terribly sanguine about the future. We may have broken the country for good this time. Time is the only thing that will tell us.

In the meantime, we good liberals are getting a bit froggier than usual. Stephen Colbert, erstwhile mild-mannered nighttime talk show host, has opined that Vladimir Putin’s dick should go into Donald Trump’s mouth when he’s not using it. Conservatives, who ordinarily have disdain for the politically correct and the easily offended, bitched and whined without irony that he had gone too far, and to Colbert’s credit, he didn’t back down. What Stephen realizes is that you can’t win with these ‘tards. They’ll get on you no matter what you do. What you believe as a liberal is enough to enrage them daily, they don’t need a harsh, pointed joke at their movement’s leader to begin their calumny.

So give ’em a kick in the family values. It’ll feel good and it’s fun to watch them holler. It’s not like they’re going to slow down on their offensive behavior, why should we hold our tongues for the sake of having manners? Manners are only of use when the receiver appreciates them.

I’ve been at this here and there all day today. I’m going to break here for some covfefe. Pleasant dreams.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

(June 1, 2017)

Now. On to headier stuff.

“Heady”, indeed.

Most of us past the age of thirty have a passing familiarity with comedienne Kathy Griffin. Most of us past the age of forty actually remember when she was funny. To her credit, she has survived through force of will in various iterations of a career. She did the sitcom thing, she hit the faghag circuit for a good bit, had a reality show, and every 365 days she earns a little making inappropriate sexual advances towards a gay man on TV for about two hours before an inane occurrence celebrated by drunk, maudlin sots wearing stupid number-shaped glasses otherwise known as the end of the calendar year.

Well, if we didn’t know it before, we definitely found out Tuesday that Kathy has an internet presence as well.

She’s probably as famous now as she has ever been. I saved a copy of one of the stills from a hard-to-forget photo shoot she did because I had a feeling it wouldn’t be around much longer. It has been mostly scrubbed from the polite part of the internet if Google searches are any indication. Only right wing ragefest websites like Breitbart are still hosting these pictures so they can make hypergeneralizations about the violence inherent in the left wing movement, once again without a trace of irony or self-awareness. I’m gonna post the picture, not because I want to put Donald’s battered head on a pike, or eat him (I like a little marbling, but not too much). I much prefer an option like exile a la Napoleon when the Terror comes to beheading a la King Louis XVI. But I think it does a disservice to Kathy to wipe away her statement, which she, unlike Colbert, would now desperately like to have disappear for feelings that are understandable, but unnecessary. For a shining moment, she summed up how done she was with this cheap ill-tempered loathsome criminal pretending to be a leader, protected by the glorious First Amendment. And she shared the fuck out of it.

bloody

And you righties thought you had the monopoly on political incorrectness. You’re a bunch of bitches compared to Griffin. Move over.

So the discussion still needs to be had: is it OK to get violent and still be a good lefty?

I’m going to answer in the affirmative after careful consideration of several dynamics. See, one of the reasons I think Griffin’s stunt fucked so many people up because it was visual.

And it was red and it was bloody.

It simply could not be ignored.

People have visceral reactions to visuals of this sort. Christ, remember when the Beatles wound some chop meat around themselves for an album cover?

butcher

That cover lasted about as long as Kathy Griffin’s stunt. People just couldn’t hack it, if you’ll pardon my accidental pun.

So there’s an “in your face and fuck you” compositional quality about it that causes it to dwarf some of the awful, inartful things people would do to Barack Obama’s effigies in absolute terms of violence.

Visuals, especially well done ones, are potent. They’re the first thing that comes to mind if you ask someone what art is.

Let’s use another medium for contrast. I have been a consumer of music for many moons now. And not even bands like The Crucifucks or MDC or Suicidal Tendencies, who all spoke of corporal violence against authority figures at a time when Kathy Griffin was still doing open mike night, move my needle as being necessarily shocking:

 

Do you see what I’m getting at? There’s a level of immediacy in visuals that leaves some other art in the dust. That’s not to say that the hardcore punks were tame in any way, they were breaking down barriers with sound that attacked you, much like the colors and imagery in the Griffin photo shoot. But singing “I wanna kill the president, chop off his head” is not the same as photographing yourself as someone who did the deed.

I’m ranking the senses, not ranking the expressions-I will always cherish “Our Will Be Done” and share it with other high-minded patrons of art and rebellion before I ever pull out Kathy’s photo.

Again, consider another medium. Are there sufficient words to describe the passion of Christ? Maybe. But Mel Gibson’s three hour torturefest sure upped the ante. I still refuse to watch that because I don’t get off that way. And I’m an atheist who couldn’t care less about Jesus and his pain (mainly because he and his dad are the stuff of old fairy tales).

Moving along, we could drill down on the fact that Griffin debased the image of a powerful white man. That upsets other male American whites, which is interesting because they haven’t been traditional victims of violence since never. Conservatives love this guy Trump not so much for what he does, but what he represents. I don’t have the time nor the inclination to take you back in time to his first political stints as a racist birther and bring you to today. If you don’t know by now that Donald Trump is a racist and a sexist, you can go jump in a lake. But what I am saying is Donald is the face of white male resentment-again, if you are not aware of this phenomenon, just go someplace else already, the rest of us have lapped you.

Kathy sure knows it, and she got sick of it and reacted. She went mano a mano, or cabeza a cabeza with the violence. In conservative land, it’s OK for Ted Nugent to say he wants to stick a gun in Hillary Clinton’s mouth or call the first black president a mongrel, but oh no, this cunt faglover can’t say anything about our bold, unapologetic president.

So we come full circle to the $64,000 question-is it OK to punch the Nazi? Is left wing violence the same or worse than right wing violence?

Frankly, I don’t think it should be expected of the left to always respond to right wing nastiness with a turn of the cheek. They use our core values of tolerance and respect for all against us. They call us hypocrites if we dare step out of the pigeonhole they have put us in and get intolerant of their intolerance. And that shit cannot stand. I’m not going to be policed by bigots or told by them I am offensive. I will not be disarmed by ironic charges of saying one thing and doing another. I’m all for peace and love but I know how to use an M-16 if it comes down to revolution or civil war.

The fact is that the just gods are rooting for the left side. We are the heirs of American democracy, which was begat by white aristocrats but belongs to everyone. Yet still the work continues to fight for equality even after all of our victories along the way. Because occasionally, we Americans take a step backward and elect a George Bush or a Donald Trump, and it can be hard to simmer quietly while they shit the country up.

Ultimately, Kathy Griffin could not stand the heat in the kitchen. But I don’t blame her for backing down at all. It is, after all, goddamn hot and getting hotter. Has she coarsened the political conversation? Hardly. By any objective measure, the time for comity was long past before her photo shoot. Civility is not always an option when you’ve got white nationalists and Nazi sympathizers in the Oval Office whispering to a mercurial and unsophisticated president who got into office because he peddled low-com-denom demagoguery to other unsophisticated people.

Remember: they demand of you a level of decorum that they do not demand of themselves. With that in mind, the occasional head punch and other assorted “violent” reactions are perfectly rational tools of resistance.

UPDATE 1 Jun 2017: Big sister Alex K. hits the Facebook scene on this story 10 minutes before me. She offers more content and clarity about the shoot than I could muster.

Reverse Reverse Discrimination

Nothing is stupider or more pathetic than white males bitching about unfairness in America. We’ve been giving ourselves special treatment since we hit that rock.

But thanks to America’s steady decline as a place of limitless opportunity, there’s a whole lot of us incensed that minorities and women are helped by programs that promote parity with the people who have traditionally enjoyed the rewards of this soon to be not-so-fecund land now that there’s increasingly less to go around.

Some of the more troglodytic among our kind called it “reverse discrimination” or “reverse racism” whenever a traditionally oppressed minority was given “special” privileges, like being given a protected spot at a prestigious college or enjoying first serve on a government contract as a minority owned business.

Worry no more, my white male compadres.

The Trump administration is here to fix this interminable, institutionalized discrimination against us.

Always implicit in the “take our country back” rhetoric was that we were clawing it from the uppity females and minorities who had taken our places in line as the real backbone of this country. Those are our shitty jobs with vanishing pensions, damn it. Those are our graduate degrees that aren’t good for much any more.

If PoliticusUSA’s angle on Donald Trump’s signing statement astride the stopgap budget is correct, the special treatment gravy train is over.

I know what you’re thinking. Donald Trump cannot spell the word “tap” on his phone, much less craft a response full of legalese to a budget that he neither read nor had a hand in writing. I’m as incredulous as you are. In toto, if you read the whole nauseating thing, it is the equivalent of I’m The President And nyah nyah nyah. Its thrust is nothing new; it’s just another hopscotch square towards the unitary executive gaining primacy over anything or anyone that seeks to limit its power. Elbridge Gerry called it: we are becoming a monarchy, with a corrupt aristocrat wearing the funny hat, or in Donald Trump’s case, the scotch-taped power tie.

But anyway, included is a sop to bitchy, insecure, aggrieved white males who don’t want to share their station with anyone. In it, somehow, the intent of the Fifth and the Fourteenth Amendment has been turned against itself. For example, used to be a time when the Fourteenth tried to help the enslaved and marginalized become equal. Now we all know that the promise of the Fourteenth took almost a century to realize itself in jurisprudence with Brown. And even that was like a trip to the dentist for regional white men. But anyway, it had legal dynamite in it whose explosion is still being heard today, and thankfully so 99.9999% of the time. It ended with the clause “equal protection of the laws” and no one was to be denied.

But now white men are apparently on unequal footing with groups like women, blacks, and Indians:

“My Administration shall treat provisions that allocate benefits on the basis of race, ethnicity, and gender (e.g., Division B, under the heading “Minority Business Development”; Division C, sections 8016, 8021, 8038, and 8042; Division H, under the headings “Departmental Management Salaries and Expenses,” “School Improvement Programs,” and “Historically Black College and University Capital Financing Program Account”; Division K, under the heading “Native American Housing Block Grants”; and Division K, section 213) in a manner consistent with the requirement to afford equal protection of the laws under the Due Process Clause of the Constitution’s Fifth Amendment.”

Taken at face value, in Trump’s America the long march to a balance of opportunity has become lopsided again, and this time around white males are the ones that need protection from the oppressive minorities.

Further through the looking glass we go.

Over, under, sideways down.

When will it end?

When will it end?

 

 

Westing

Cornel West is a brilliant thinker. He is a man of and for the people. I’m in agreement with just about everything he stands for.

So why am I about to tell one of our most erudite scholars on the American…nay, human condition to shut the fuck up?

People who think for a living are idealists, by and large. And in a vacuum, all of their ideas are practical and their aims acheiveable. When overlaid upon objective reality, ideas often break down and become unworkable, and sometimes they even become the enemy of the original idea.

A new born Bolshevik Russia comes to mind. Marx would have been horrified by the way his communism was twisted as Lenin eventually killed his way to absolute power. And we all know that his successor was even worse. Marx’s proletarians would have rejected the brutality of the Communist Party. They would have known what it was like to be brutalized and would not wish that on any man even if he were from the most odious heights of the bourgeoisie. Any good Marxist rejects crude violence upon men to achieve Marxist aims. Because when you look into the abyss, it looks into you. You become what you despise-the oppressor. Marx wanted violence against the idea of classes and other social divisions, not people per se. Of course, sometimes when you get hit, you should hit back. Some would say that capitalism has thrown plenty of punches due to its inherent exploitative nature and therefore there is nothing wrong with a little “revolutionary terror” in return. But we must first and most importantly unite as the laboring class before we even decide upon the means of destroying capitalism, which I consider to be modern feudalism. And if the ruling class will not bend, we will break them-but I don’t necessarily think that requires cruelty and base evil to be in service to us. Much as I despise a petty tyrant like Donald Trump, I would much rather exile him before I put his head on a pike. I’ll pick up a gun again when one is aimed at me, and not a minute before. Of course, as a white lower-middle class male American, I’m not subjected to force on a regular basis so I will not speak for those who already need the gun.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with anarchic communism. I’m a bit of a statist and prefer creeping democratic socialism, myself. Anarchy could be just as inefficient as capitalism. But these are minor intellectual quibbles, debates which I am willing to have. I’m just saying that we are given a situation, and we must see it for what it is and prescribe remedies for improving it short of tearing it all down, thus ruining the good that was already there. Revolutions of all kinds have betrayed their intrinsic ideals all across the globe.

Bernie Sanders and his followers are also a first-class example of how a good movement turned everything into shit. He, perhaps inadvertently, helped the Democratic Party turn on itself. He caused open warfare between his idealists and Clinton’s pragmatists. And without even being a member of the party, he opened the door to the latest iteration of Clinton character assassination. That may not be his fault either. He was respectful and did not go into the mud during the race, except maybe for that time when he implied she wasn’t qualified to be President because of her putative ties to the business community. But his supporters had an appetite for destruction and wanted the whole system to go down. Lefties threw away votes on the Green Party in protest of the two choices (whose differences could not have been starker) that were viable. Those who did not know their right from their left chose Gary Johnson, whose claim to popularity hinged largely on the fact that he was out about smoking weed.

Oh, the system is going down. You who either did nothing or worked to fight Hillary Clinton will get your wish. I can only hope you are one of the people that Trump hurts with his bumptious policies and then perhaps you will learn something. But you probably won’t, since you are invariably white and young. Your privilege will protect you by and large from the Trump administration’s worst killer instincts. You are almost as much of a Me Generation as the boomers.

Fuck you.

But anyway, Bernie poisoned the minds of a new generation of activist voters who wanted a “revolution”. Many said if Bernie doesn’t get the nod, then neither does Clinton. We have a zero-sum electoral system. That pretty much means a vote for anyone but Clinton was a vote for Trump. And some Bernie supporters were good with that. They hoped that once elected, Trump would mess up things up so badly that people will be dying for a game-changing choice like democratic socialism.

Not even Bernie Sanders believed this. When he lost, he told you to vote Clinton in the general because the alternative was bedlam. But you even stopped hearing him, and chose to play with your boogers instead.

It is and was a calculation based on a fantasy. Oh, Trump will mess up badly. But his voters don’t know that because anything that criticizes Duh Fuhrer is fake news. We still have to get out and vote as one movement. Peeling back the layers of corruption may take a long time, because Republicans are either complicit in it or don’t want to ruin the brand by having people find out that the party helped a Russian stooge come to power.

The Democratic Party is the only party with the means and the ideas needed to unfuck the country. They are already in the system resisting Donald Trump and his threats to tear the country apart. If you all get your head out of your asses, we can take this Congress back, or at least make the margins by which Republicans control the House slimmer, slim enough to make Paul Ryan and the Freedom Caucus a little nervous. Democrats evolve. Republicans stay the same. That’s why one is called conservative and the other progressive (or liberal if you must quibble).

So you’ll excuse me if I tell you to fuck yourself if you think that starting a new left-wing party is going to work. We already cleaved the left during the 2016 primary and it is in no small part because of Bernie Sanders and his devotees. Now you want to split the left even further?

That’s called A Great Way To Re-Elect Donald Trump.

Give me a fucking break, Cornel.

Like, I totally understand where he’s coming from. But he’s tall on sociology and short on political science. Furthermore, he makes assertions without explaining them. What to do with this?

As the first 100 days of the plutocratic and militaristic Trump administration draw to a close, one truth has been crystal clear: the Democratic party lacks the vision, discipline and leadership to guide progressives in these turbulent times.

And he just leaves that there. No exhaustive list or list of any kind cataloguing Democratic failure. To me, Democrats have been rather busy doing what they can as the minority party. There is literally only so much they can do. They do not chair a single committee in Congress. They can’t. The ranking member does not have the authority to override chairpersons, but they’ve been raising as much Cain as they can. Adam Schiff comes to mind, as does Elijah Cummings. Were it not for those gentlemen, Devin Nunes and Jason Chaffetz would have had a much easier time playing stupid about Trump and Russia. Kirsten Gillibrand is consistently resisting. Jeff Merkeley held a talking filibuster of Neil Gorsuch, and the party almost unanimously stood together to deny Republicans a supermajority on his nomination, forcing Mitch McConnell to change Senate rules to complete his betrayal of the process of advice and consent. Chuck Schumer called Trump’s bluff of threatening Obamacare dollars if they did not help fund his stupid and increasingly pointless border wall.

A goddamned Muslim is the vice chair of the national committee.

Those are just a few things off the top of my head that have made me proud to be a Democrat. Yet West sees it differently, writing things like

The time has come to bid farewell to a moribund party that lacks imagination, courage and gusto. …

Cornel, I’m sorry you don’t see fireworks every time the Democrats act. Sometimes this politics shit is boring as all get out. But the Democrats have not shown any interest in abetting Trumpward Babyhands at all, far from it-they seem to be in active resistance from where I’m sitting. Surely something short of burn motherfucker burn will do the trick.

In the not so recent past, the party has failed. There’s no denying that. Bill Clinton’s presidency was something of a failure in terms of what should be expected of a true party of the people. If you really want to be a stickler, Barack Obama’s drone warfare and his allowance of the the health insurance scam to continue to survive could be construed as negatives. I won’t argue too much if you put these in the L column. But, much as it bothers me to admit, Donald Trump has galvanized the party. It’s already the party we want it to be if we would just tell them how we feel, the way so many of us have told Republicans lately- and they don’t listen.

So let’s put a cork in this kind of talk:

The corporate wing has made it clear that the populist wing has little power or place in its future. The discipline of the party is strong on self-preservation and weak on embracing new voices. And party leaders too often revel in self-righteousness and self-pity rather than self-criticism and self-enhancement.

That all sounds good if I was in a rap battle, not in a fight for the soul of my country. Besides, it just isn’t true. The “corporate” wing is not mutually excluded from the “populist” wing anyway. David Lowery of the fantastic band Camper Van Beethoven said it quite well in a song from their 2014 album “Berkeley To Bakersfield”: It’s not that we don’t like the rich, it’s simply that we think this kind is boring. It is not a crime to be rich. It’s the way you do it that makes you shitty. Then this:

And if a class-conscious multi-racial party attuned to anti-sexist, anti-homophobic and anti-militaristic issues and grounded in ecological commitments can reconfigure our citizenship, maybe our decaying democracy has a chance.

If you didn’t get a degree in sociology, that there above probably won’t make a whole lot of sense to you. Then again, I could be selling you short. Let’s take that piece by piece. I will concede to Cornel a point that sticks in my craw too: we fucking suck at class consciousness. That’s because we as Americans all think we are in the middle class. Every politician left and right always goes on and and on about the middle class. No one seems to give a rat’s patoot about the working class because we consistently improperly identify ourselves class-wise regardless of our income. Being poor in a capitalist society is the ultimate sin, and we have internalized this prejudice well. It’s still our own damn fault when we wind up in dire straits and that’s unfair to so many people who have found themselves in places that lack hope. So yes, we don’t talk enough about this struggle. Even Bernie Sanders failed to do so.

But Cornel seems to have a blind spot when he talks about the need for a party that understands multi-racialism and anti-sexism. Does he not know who was just president? Who the Democratic nominee was? Yeah, I get that it doesn’t mean that racism and sexism is over. But I’m trying to say that Democrats are moving in the right direction.

And it was our Democratic president who did this after the Supreme Court said love is love:

rainbow-white-house-full-169

Obama did the best that could have been expected of him so far as the “militaristic” jab goes. It’s a militarized world. We are in a crazy competition for finite resources and that is the reason why we protect some really awful regimes from Saudi Arabia to Israel. We did our level best to make Iraq Iraq’s problem, even though as someone who went there to ostensibly liberate it I feel we still owe them for shredding and putting giant holes in what they still had. We have a very adventurous Russia back on the Risk board. This is no time to be a shrinking violet or to sickeningly veer into paranoid nationalism a la Trump. I would not characterize myself as an imperialist, but perhaps I am too conceited to admit otherwise. All I can say is without us running the show in large part, without us playing the great game, it all goes to shit in insane ways that make even less sense than today’s current chaos. There has got to be a way to ratchet down tension. There’s a magic word called diplomacy, and I think we really gave it a go during Obama. The Iran agreement will be talked about in the history books, provided retards like Tom Cotton of Arabia don’t get to willy-nilly tear shit up.

And I think he did right by ratifying Paris. I ain’t good on the specifics, but it looks like we were ready to stop committing quick suicide by poisoning the planet with the way we keep carrying on.

We can do better on all of this. And I think we will. I think it’s what we all want.

All of this is a long fucking way of saying that the wheel has been invented. I am not even a fraction of the thinker that Cornel West is, but I threw a few more words at my polemic in favor of the Democratic party than he did against it. That’s not to say that word count determines what is good and what isn’t…far from it. But I expect more from him as an intellectual. I expect more than something as facile as throw the baby out with the bathwater. And I certainly expect that he knows better than to continue the Republican darkness by rending the fragile left/center solidarity that the Democratic party works its ass off to cultivate.

Cornel West would have you believe we have learned nothing from the election of a fucking nincompoop malcontent who might be stupid enough to blow up the world if it plays well in the press.

Sorry, but I ain’t buying it. This was not an easy post to write because I would much rather use the invective I have to fight the wrong-wing. But we need to tighten our shit up and realize we already have the vehicle, and we just need to learn how to steer it to get the best mileage we fucking can out of it.

Hot Wingnut Monkey Love

Fox News is a fucking brothel fobbing itself off as a news organization. Roger Ailes got popped trying to diddle with airhead Gretchen Carlson and all-around horrible bitch Andrea Tantaros. Billo is going to be spending more free time with his falafel. Megyn Kelly, Greta Van Susteren and Alisyn Camerota have all gone elsewhere to find respectable journalism jobs after fighting the sexist culture at Fox.

Another worm has slithered out from under the Fox harassment rock. And I’m really grossed out, worse so than I am already.

To me, Roger Ailes looks like Baron Harkonnen from Dune:

heart plug 2

The idea of him canoodling with the Fox foxes makes for a fairly sickening tableau. I can see it, but he’s just a dirty old man with a lot of money.

For some reason, however, I can’t deal with the idea that Sean Hannity might be a sexual being.

He’s married going on 24 years. Who knew? And she’s not uncute. No kids, but that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t do it.

But that beady-eyed hairspray addict has a 24-year itch, apparently. And he’s feeling guilty about it so he picked a dog as his quarry.

Rumors of a divorce swirled in 2016 so all may not be well in House Hannity.

Those of you who were part of the blogosphere back when it was hot shit know who he tried to pick up.

Yup, Debbie Goddamned Schlussel. Try not to throw up in your mouth imagining these two human-shaped cephalopods moistening each other.

Debbie traded on her looks for a little while, doing the hottie conservative shtick:

sclhuss

After about seven drinks (one after the other, double fisted), she may still look like this. However, this is the only picture of Debbie Schlussel ever taken that looks good. To this day she heads her blog with it.

When you are sober or liberal, this is what you see.

debbie_schlussel-600x371

Eeeek! Double-bag that shit.

I’m vaguely aware that I might be being a sexist pig my own self. Oh well, nobody’s perfect. They are both plug-ugly inside and that’s what matters. Given the chance to make light of something like a Hannity/Schlussel coupling, I’ll go with it. It’s a hell of a lot easier than trying to finish anything else I’m not doing.

Too Extreme For Alabama

There is such a thing.

In the age of Trump, sometimes it feels like everything is hopelessly fucked and there is no way to change it. Right-wing radicals are trying to lay waste to everything good.

But we’re also dropping a lot of albatrosses lately.

Bill O’ Reilly finally got too expensive for Fox. Alex Jones’ lawyer outed him as an actor. Jason Chaffetz couldn’t stand the heat in the kitchen. Those are big right-wing fish that just got netted; a propagandist, a conspiracy theorist, and a gatekeeper.

After months of smoke, we’ve found the traces of a conflagration. It’s only a matter of time before Trump and his minions get caught with empty cans of gasoline and matches.

But I bring good news from my neighbor in the Deep South.

Historically, Alabama has been a terrible place. It’s nicknamed the “Heart Of Dixie”, which translated from the Southern tongue means “Home To A Lot Of Racists”. I have been to Alabama once. It is as hot as the planet Mercury in the summertime, and I would rather be dropped there than visit Alabama again because Mercury doesn’t have mosquitoes.

George Corley Wallace Jr. was the face of Alabama and segregation in the sixties. Morris Jackson “Mo” Brooks Jr. is a representative from Alabama. Mo’s worried that there’s a war on white people. Jefferson Beauregard “Jeff” Sessions III also hails from there. Jeff is our attorney general, and is currently not sure that Hawaii is a state.

But I have good news. Another big fish from Alabammy has been speared.

We got Judge Roy Moore. After a long suspension, he’s been kicked off the fucking bench for good. Happy day!

For those of you who don’t follow these things like I do because you enjoy your sanity, Roy is best known for being an insufferable Christian bigot who could not get the concept of separation of church and state through his thick skull, nor could he comprehend the hierarchical structure of the United States court system as laid down by the Constitution.

Good news is often hard to find here at the seminary, because we are in a world of shit where the president seeks the counsel of Kid Rock. But if Alabama can work up the will to rid itself of unethical fleabag judges, there’s hope for all fifty.

 

Socialist Distortion

I’m not a lefty who will shrink from the socialist label. Modern right-wingers have made it into a smear, a detraction from someone’s character. They’ve been aided by a historical fear of just about anything progressive in this country. You name it- women’s rights, black rights, anarchism, the antiwar movement, communism, socialism, labor reform, anything that threatened the status quo and the Establishment was there to squash and scatter it. Yesterday’s Establishment runs a direct line to today’s conservatism.

People like to pretend we are a pluralistic society but those of us who think differently about the way things are and should be know better. It’s benefits are primarily skewed towards white, Christian, petit-bourgeois males. Doubtless there are a number of other intersectionalities that are also in play but those are the main oppressive forces in America.

Socialism is so unpopular, we only have one person who will admit to being a socialist in the United States Congress. And perhaps it’s no longer as much a dirty word as it used to be, considering the run he had against Hillary Clinton. There is hope upon the horizon. Our new voters’ minds are more open and they aren’t as afraid as we X’ers are. Their music tastes are execrable but their political proclivities are A-OK with me.

But anyway, this is not about millenials, intersectionality, or even socialism per se. I tend to ramble before I get to a point. If you are reading this, you are used to it and excuse me with kindness.

This is, however, about Bernie Sanders and how he needs to shut the fuck up and ride into the sunset.

Let’s put aside that I was on Team Clinton. No, let’s not. I chose Clinton because I felt that most people weren’t quite ready for what Bernie called a revolution, which wasn’t all that revolutionary (hard-core socialists think he’s a fraud). You see, in America the principle of mutual aid does not hold as much weight as the principle of self-reliance. What’s funny is that without the mutual aid we do offer each other, there would be no one who thinks they are self-reliant. Rugged individualism is romantic fiction, a remnant from a bygone frontier era that there’s no need to go back to.

Anyway, Bernie wanted to pull a lot of stops out, trumpeting trillions in new spending and bold legislation to immediately improve the lives of the average American, which you would think was a good thing but helping people through politics is a tough row to hoe in a country full of people who only think about themselves. Clinton was more of a gradualist, which I felt was more saleable to potential GOP allies and to a public wary of the sea change Sanders was proposing. So I went with my head instead of my heart, practicality over ideals. I saw the GOP Frankenstein that became Donald Trump and I couldn’t allow it to get near the office of the president so I picked who I thought was the safe bet.

Someone evidently thought that a woman with brains and balls was threatening and conspired to have her destroyed by innuendo, guilt by association and whispers, though. Enough white Christian petit-bourgeois males were waved off of voting for Clinton in part because of her husband’s peccadilloes and his perceived (real and otherwise) corruption-her ignorance of electronic security was an extension of that corruption. Nevermind all the corruption surrounding Donald Trump-let’s focus on the eeeevil Clinton (who we can’t separate from her husband because we’re sexist pigs!!!). And then you had someone like Trump on the other side of the ledger who somehow tapped into a wellspring of really heady hate and resentment that the WCPBMs were harboring. I did not see this perfect storm coming, and perhaps my head was wrong in that respect. Even though she technically won the election, she was not able to prop up the blue wall in the northwest which had been economically hollowed out when the industrial revolution packed up and went to east Asia.

I thought Sanders would be done in by the fact that he was out as a socialist, and then my jaw dropped to the fucking floor when I witnessed what the Establishment did to Hillary Clinton.

Sanders would have gotten off easy compared to the hatchet job they did on her.

If I had to do it again, I’m not sure what I would do, knowing what I know right now. I believe it is past time for a woman president, but perhaps Hillary was not the right person for the times we live in.

Oops, I did it again. Let’s try one more time to stay OT.

Bernie Sanders needs to shut the fuck up.

He successfully used the Democratic machine to make his bid for nominee while maintaining his Independent (non) affiliation, and now he’s out there questioning Democratic candidate bona fides as if he was never part of it. In the Wall Street Journal, of all fucking places, he does Georgia wunderkind Jon Ossoff no favors by refusing to say whether or not the kid is “progressive”.

If there’s one thing we have learned about Bernie Sanders, it’s that he believes his own hype. He gladly makes bland blanket observations about the divisions in the party he used to get famous-“Some Democrats are progressive and some Democrats are not”. And then instead of giving a smart non-answer answer to a surprise question about Ossoff’s progressiveness from a hostile news outlet, he decided that it was more important to be guileless than to politely decline the ambush. “I don’t know,” he says.

Some help you are, dude.

Listen, Bernie, we need to stick together, and you need to tell your fans the same thing. We need to flip seats-badly-and we don’t have time for purity tests. You leave that bullshit to conservatives, OK? Get on the team or shut up about it. It’s a big deal down here in the South when a seat flips and you should have canned talking points ready when people ask you bullshit questions if you want to continue to be an elder statesman of the lefty movement.

Neil, You’re Missing Something

Far be it from me to delve into the technicalities of a particular piece of jurisprudence.

But as a lay person, I feel I can demur against the judicial reasoning that one part of the first amendment runs roughshod over another.

Antonin Scalia Neil Gorsuch seems to believe that the free exercise clause is of far more import than the establishment clause.

It should be common knowledge by now that the impetus behind the establishment clause was that the State stayed out of the religion business, favoring and endorsing none. Fifteen years after the constitution was authored, President Thomas Jefferson made it clear to the Danbury Baptists that while he respected religious liberty, no special consideration was to be granted to a particular faith as far as the United States government was concerned. That brief 1802 missive heralded the idea of church and state separation. And for the most part, the secularization of our government has prevailed, notwithstanding things like the changes to the pledge of allegiance, annoying non-inclusive invocations before legislative sessions and the god bullshit on our money because of our allergies to any form of economic distribution besides capitalism.

Well, the SCOTUS is about to make a turn for the worse, with Neil Gorsuch leading the way. A case is currently being debated that could expand the definition of “religious liberty” in the law’s eyes . It may now mean that government funding for religious institutions is acceptable because the first amendment guarantees free exercise of religion. Therefore, the withholding of government funds (tax revenue that the church does not contribute to, mind you) because of adherence to the concept of refusal to establish amounts to discrimination against them. The plaintiffs further cite the fourteenth amendment, which as you all know mandates equal treatment under the law. If a public school wants to improve one of their playgrounds with government grant money, they reason, then it’s only fair that a religious institution should be able to have access to those funds as well.

This is very tricky legal jiu-jitsu, blowing off the establishment clause entirely to  accommodate believers. It pits the constitution against itself. If this decision slides rightward, you’re going to start paying for improvements to churches.

It starts with something innocuous like surfacing playgrounds. God only knows how far this can go, because the ineluctable tendency in Christian circles is to push, push and push the envelope.

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