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Wanderers

I guess it is time to discuss the Kurds. Who are they and why is it important?

Many of us are hearing of them for the first time, which is a bit unusual because they were pivotal participants in the fight for Iraq during “the insurgency” post-occupation and bravely fought the emergence of the ISIS cancer as well. I remember being there in 2003 and seeing graffiti in Baghdad that said “PKK”, which I did not understand at the time. They’ve been at this war thing for more than a minute.

You may be asking other questions. Why do so many people suddenly give a damn about them? What is it that we owe to the Kurdish people?

If you just got here, we just fucked them over big time by ceding a part of their “territory” to Turkey. You won’t find “Kurdistan” on a contemporary map, and I suspect you never will. However, here’s a representation of what an autonomous Kurdish state would look like. As a people, they are a victim of the sloppy partitioning of the Middle East by Western powers.

Anyway, we fortified them so they could battle ISIS largely in our stead, and now we are forcing them to run from the land they know as home in Syria. Thanks to the capriciousness of Donald Trump, we unleashed the cruelty of the Turkish military upon Kurdish civilians. Rumors of torture and the deployment of Willy Pete abound.

Having said that, let’s be clear: double-crossing is as American as apple pie. To me, there’s nothing particularly shocking about America hanging the Kurds out to dry. The United States likes the map the way it is. There has never, not even in the virtuous Obama administration, been a mandate for an independent Kurdistan. They have de facto control over northern Iraq, but it’s unlikely that it will become a new “country” and we would probably not support separatism were they to declare independence.

The double cross is certainly not uniquely American. Sometimes, it’s just the way of the world; countries ally so long as they have mutual interests and then part ways when they no longer have them. Think Soviet Russia during and after World War II. Now, the thing about Kurds that makes their situation somewhat unique is that they have no country. Their territory, if you want to call it that, sprawls across four Middle Eastern states. They are fraught with hostile powers on all sides-being a Kurd has been a tough row to hoe, although they are certainly not strangers to violence and defense. I think that perhaps that “wandering” position that they are in makes some of us sympathetic to their desire for land they can call their own. Their struggle, if it can be compared to anything in recent memory, echoes that of the Jewish Zionists, who were very useful to the West by establishing an aggressive client state in the midst of the Arab-dominated Middle East.

I am certainly not saying it is OK at all to greenlight hostilities against allied people only to try futilely to halt them mere days later. The feckless infant occupying the Oval Office has once again shown us he doesn’t have the courage to follow through on his ill-informed adventures; he’s never met a policy he can’t do a quick 180 on. It’s gotten innocents pointlessly murdered this time; it’s as ugly as it sounds and he’s hopefully not going to have much success spinning it as some sort of victory to his enablers in the Senate, especially if the incursion into Syria is shown to be part of a financial “deal” with the Turks.

What we are finding out is that the only thing that really motivates Trump into ever acting is by offering something valuable to him. It’s quid pro quos all the way down. It is shocking in its brazenness and bloodlessness. We shouldn’t forget what that monstrous prick has done to the innocent Kurds to deal things to himself- even as we must and shall make room for new headlines no doubt screaming about the latest Trump transgression against vaunted American ideals and values. Sadly, the massacre of innocents abroad probably won’t be enough for our “conservative” lawmakers to stop normalizing this insane monkey business.

I ask: how much longer, Lord? How much more?

Nancy Boy

By early afternoon Howe felt he had enough men to launch his assault. As the British forces began their advance, the cannonade from Copp’s Hill and British warships ceased. In line formation, the two wings had to negotiate fences and other obstacles as they slowly neared the Provincial line. The men from Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Hampshire were ordered to hold their fire until the enemy drew so close that their musket fire would have its most devastating effect. It was at this time, legend claims, that one of the commanding officers from the colonies ordered: “Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes!

The musket fire proved devastating when the advancing British came into range.

I think I can speak for my generation when I say that none of us will ever forget the story of The Battle Of Bunker Hill largely because of General Prescott’s famous (and perhaps apocryphal) command.

I also remember being taught that the colonists ran out of shot and had to use whatever they could as a projectile. Nails. Concrete. They fixed bayonets. It was quite a tableau for my impressionable head.

In the end, they had to retreat. But not before we gave the Redcoats a wicked bloody nose. They paid more than we did to take the high ground.

There is no parallel in history that comes to mind more trenchantly than that Revolutionary War battle and where we are at on an impeachment of Donald Trump.

This will be the second time that I’ve given Nancy Pelosi the benefit of the doubt regarding the matter. But the fact is that she is under an extreme amount of pressure. She has to satiate and continue to captivate the angry voters who have seen enough and need impeachment as a balm, and also protect vulnerable blue dogs in key states who cannot call for impeachment if they want to keep their jobs.

The American electorate is fickle; and our politicians have to try to placate a majority of their voters so they can stay in office. I’m pretty far left, but I think I understand and appreciate that this is a delicate balancing maneuver that the Speaker and the Democratic establishment are attempting.

I’ll just say it again for those of you in the cheap seats: impeachment can’t come yet. It’s certainly not for lack of crimes committed by this administration. It is about numbers and timing. It isn’t about Pelosi’s choice at all, and I don’t think she is stringing us along. It would be an enormous and inadvisable gamble to presume that Democrats will go to the polls no matter how much our concerns are ignored because the alternative sucks way more. The Speaker gets that we’re mad and impatient and if she and Democratic leadership learned anything at all from 2016, it’s that significant numbers of lefties (some of who are party faithful) will cut off their noses happily and withhold enough votes that will send the Democrats back to the woods to figure out how they blew an easy election.

Again.

No thank you.

So: let’s talk numbers. Since last tally, 70 representatives were ready to vote for impeachment, 69 of which were Democratic. We needed more than three times that to gain the majority on the question of impeachment. That was June.

As of this writing, that number has grown to 164 Democrats (and Justin Amash). Doing the math, that leaves 54 representatives that need to sign on to notch a simple majority that would pass articles. It’s a majority of Democrats, yes- but QED, those are not the numbers the Speaker needs to launch a successful campaign to impeach. With any luck, it won’t take much longer for the number of YEAS to increase significantly.

Second of all, Nancy only gets one shot at this- so she needs to use a great deal of breath control to bag Trump and all the pieces of shit that abetted his crime spree. The ideal time to drop a bomb on Trump is during the campaign season while he tries to con enough people to vote for his dumb ass again. Making next year difficult, painful and utterly deleterious would be a great play, even if the effort is destined to die in a complicit GOP-controlled Senate.

Let me take this moment as I have in the past to remind you that the best way to get to impeachment is to annoy your representatives to vote yes on the matter. Going on Twitter to scream for Pelosi’s head because she won’t support a measure that would die on the House floor is stupid.

This is our Bunker Hill. We can’t take our shot until it’s the right time. We won’t win in the end. But we will bleed the bastards enough, hopefully enough to tilt what is going to be a contentious process definitively in our favor when the war ends in November 2020.

UPDATE Sep 24: As of 1:55 today, the number of YEAS is now 170. Votes are beginning to cascade in as this strange Ukraine story spreads like a wildfire! Nancy may say the I word a hell of a lot quicker than I calculated…

UPDATE Sep 24: At 5pm, Nancy Pelosi confirmed that the House will be conducting an impeachment inquiry, rendering this post more full of shit than it already was. Now. Now it begins.

How Not To Get Off Social Media

Yeah, so I quit Facebook a while back, citing reasons of privacy. And now, thanks partially to what must surely be an addictive personality, I am a Twitter junkie who goes daily on the President Of The United States’ personal account to tell him what an insufferable dumbfuck he truly is.

This violates the spirit in which I deactivated my account on Facebook. I felt that social media was a danger to me in that I am a disabled vet and there was some talk that Social Security and possibly the VA were going to start looking at our accounts and if they deemed us happy and healthy per our pages, then we might not need our benefits anymore.

Chances are these proposals hit the circular file, another trial balloon from a president with an unlimited supply of hot air. But at the time I sensed clear and present danger.

I’m now about four months into breaking my Facebook addiction. I’m starting to feel normal about it, and that’s good news to a user. There oughta be chips for this shit.

What I was not ready for was the lure of Twitter. Its sparse design and seemingly unfriendly layout was miles away from what I was accustomed to at Facebook. It all started so innocently. I looked around cautiously, lurking here and there. What I have learned about myself, and perhaps knew already, is I am really bad at not sharing my opinion. I mean yes, this is my little corner of the internet and I can shout at the void for as long and as hard as I want to because I didn’t make the cut of good bloggers. But that’s the problem with voids. They don’t answer you or engage you. I write mainly for pleasure, but what writer doesn’t want you to see the work you do and like it?

In contrast, you can reach ANYONE on Twitter if you want. All you have to do is follow someone, and pow!-you will be in their feed, as long as you can keep your salvos below 280 characters. Or you can get retweeted by acquaintances and find yourself with quite the audience on a more popular page. I joined in 2009 but my timeline lay dormant until I gave up Facebook for good. I had 13 random followers at first, and a friend or two that I hadn’t talked to in a long time. In the last few months, I have quintupled the number of people who follow me. That’s fast, and sort of a lot! And Twitter, as social media goes, is a harsh mistress. People who tweet stupid shit, especially well known people, can expect to be “ratioed”, which is when hundreds to thousands of people stop by to tell you in hundreds to thousands of ways how stupid the shit you tweeted actually was.

It’s kinda fun. It’s certainly more combative than something like Facebook if that’s what you want from your social media. It’s almost like the old days for me, because the big fish bloggers of yore are very much Twitter enthusiasts. We’ve all enjoyed the longform but it sometimes takes a different skill set to be clever in 280 characters in such a way that everyone loves what you have to say.

I haven’t really learned it yet. I do a lot of retweeting right now. My personal Twitter hero right now is Jeff Tiedrich, who (unbeknownst to me at first) runs The Smirking Chimp blog. Every day, he stealthily waits for Donald Trump to tweet and fires off a smart ass quip within minutes of Chaos Hitler’s post that we sane denizens of the Twitterverse all hope he sees when he glances at the fallout of yet another ill-advised tweet. Always nipping at his bone spurs, all day and night. I live for the abuse that Jeff is allowed to dole out to our orange enfant terrible because tweets are part of the presidential record.

Hooray for democracy! The government may be collecting presidential detractors on a list to send to us to camps when the slow-walk fascist coup happening here is complete, but in the meantime, let’s have a laugh on Twitter and let loose on someone notable who is desperately, desperately ripe for our ratio.

Straight To Their Heads

There must be something magic about running for public office. You’re like a rockstar, except you can’t sing or play for shit. There’s clearly a bit of juice/electricity to looking at the sea of little signs bearing your name and hearing people respond to your well-organized thoughts with out-of-their-seat applause.

You have power. Sway.

Most of us never experience that kind of fealty. Our noses are too busy at the grindstone to look up and say, ” You know what? I have something super important to say that tens of thousands, perhaps millions of people need to hear. Follow me.”

Perhaps that is the element most missing from the coverage of the 1,489 Democrats currently running for the biggest brass ring on the planet. To wit: that this shit is addictive, and that, as those of you who have had an addiction know, can countermand the fuck out of reason.

A lot of people are making hay about the number of contestants entering the primaries. The numbers are unhealthy politically speaking, because there’s only so much oxygen in the room at the show. And as Joe Biden recently learned, some of the contestants in the rapidly filling water chamber that is the primary season hide a knife to cut your supply off and it’s see you at the bottom, chump. But even the existing amount of oxygen is not enough. You better be able to say something meaningful and make it fucking quick because someone else will come along, steal your breath and say it before you. And you need to be fresh and new when you’re saying it, as Bernie Sanders has recently learned.

The first of the Democratic candidates to concede that they haven’t got a Chinaman’s chance will reveal themselves soon. It is my sincere hope that others who know damn well they aren’t going anywhere will do the same. But as they say, wish in one hand, shit in another. In fact, we’re about to have a net gain of candidates. Joe Ses… oh, who the hell cares declared a few weeks ago. But brace yourselves…

a fucking billionaire wants to be the people’s candidate.

Why? Because he can. Obviously this is some sort of wild head trip, because no one I know needed Tom Steyer to get on the stump, pipe up and say that Donald Trump should be impeached. He is late as fuck to the party on that count. But apparently no one has been doing it right in Tom Steyer’s mind, I guess. He’s probably going to buy his way onto the next debate stage- out of your email and onto your TV.

To which I say, thrillsville and what the fuck ever. You’re already gutshot and you don’t even know it, tuna. This primary doesn’t need another fucking patrician to tell us what’s up. Strike one: you’re a guy. That’s a major liability right now. Strike two: you are a white guy. You are the root cause of every suck-ass thing in the world. Strike three: you are an old, rich white guy. That’s a subset of people who are even more precisely the root cause of every suck-ass thing in the world. Only Joe Biden, for arcane reasons I cannot divine, is exempt. For now.

To fail to be able to put his finger in the wind and figure out which way the wind is blowing doesn’t say much about his decision-making skills. With any luck, he’ll be as annoying, charmless and feckless as the last billionaire ego tripper to think he could win the presidency, Howard Schultz-and he can fuck off just as quickly before he starts eating up valuable oxygen for viable candidates. By dint of his extreme wealth and his somewhat longstanding belief that Trump needs to be removed, he’s grabbed that live wire of exposure. And he likes the feeling even if we need to do more than dump Trump.

What was wrong with funding groups to save the planet, and providing funds to whomever can legitimately stomp a mudhole in Trump and the GOP?

Was that getting boring, Narcissus?

In Our Name

I was going to wax jolly today by doing another installment in the “Tucker Carlson Is An Asshole” series, after he opined on Fox And Friends over the phone that while a person like Kim Jong Un was indefensible, you still have to kill people to lead a country. So that’s not really a strike against him in today’s Tucker Carlson world.

Tucker is up Donald Trump’s ass so far that he can take the place of Trump’s next colonoscope in reliably counting and detecting his polyps. I do get realpolitik, but it is not necessary to kill in order to lead. Perhaps Tucker has “The Prince” next to his bedroom toilet and is misreading a difficult paragraph that’s taking him longer to comprehend than it takes him to poop. Happens to the best of us. But there it was-yeah, Jong-Un’s a bloodthirsty Stalinist, but when has that stopped us from making nice? Now you see, Tucker’s not wrong per se on that count, it’s just that it’s breathtaking to listen to him say that it’s OK. There’s the thing that’s new. None of this has been so above board or blithely shrugged at than at this moment in time. Well, that’s not necessarily true-we got a whole lot of people thinking torture and the supsension of habeas corpus was cool during the Bush years, so maybe it’s just the newness of this madding crowd who will excuse anything President Halfwit devises to make himself more popular or richer, even if that anything means shaking hands and cheesing with the leader of the biggest, ugliest cult of personality on the planet. Indeed, Trump probably thinks he’s going to singlehandedly “open” North Korea like Nixon opened China. But like everything, Trump hasn’t done his homework first and doesn’t understand the knot he’s trying to untie. At the heart of North Korea’s philosophy is juche. They don’t need Trump’s sugar daddy ass to get by, they don’t need any of our asses. So chances are Kim is unimpressed with Trump’s talk of $$$ and is just suffering a doddering fool who is helping legitimize his insane nuclear armed prison colony.

Alright. There I go, off fucking track as usual and I do want to get something in about the humanitarian crisis in the immigrant detention centers just to get it down to say it’s really happening. It’s been difficult heretofore to get a look into these facilities; lawmakers have been blocked from touring and lawyers are not permitted to have cell phones or recording devices. But just recently, the OIG released a June report about overcrowding, complete with color pictures. If you are quick to anger or sorrow, be advised these pictures are hard to look at.

Basically, free range chicken has a better daily existence than the immigrants being detained by the American government. It’s disgusting and fucked up and it needs to stop now. This is probably why Nancy Pelosi didn’t argue much with Senate Democrats about guarantees as to where that $4.5 billion went; she knew the money needed to get to these people and fast.

You can go suck the dick of Satan himself if you don’t think these are concentration camps.

Wake the fuck up.

UPDATE 7/14/19: Mike Pence bloodlessly tours an overcrowded facility without a blink or scintilla of empathy and deems it well run. This country is literally being run by ghouls and I can’t believe we are staring down at least a year and a half more of this shocking insanity.

The Right Thing To Do And The Smart Thing To Do

Sometimes those things couldn’t look less alike. They should, but that’s not how shit works.

Perhaps it is a question of semantics, the differences between these concepts. Doing “Right Things” in a broad sense could be considered a strategy, a long term vision. They are consistent and delineated. Smart Things, on the other hand, could be thought of as tactics-and those can have a very grey, even black character to them. Because we still have mortal opponents in this wicked world, we still have to fight and sometimes we have to fight fucked up, in a way that doesn’t always immediately make sense. I doubt that any chess game played on a high level has ever been won without a sacrifice, the offer of sacrifice, or the purposeful exposure of pieces to capture.

Of course, I could be completely full of it and I’m just straining for a preface. I’m trying to do something difficult, which is to try and defend Nancy Pelosi’s decision (and it is a decision, not dithering) not to impeach Trump for a list of articles that would make the Mueller report look like Goodnight Moon both in length and breadth of subject matter.

Nancy has two very important jobs, one major and one minor. As the most powerful Democrat not in the White House, she has to A) secure the passage of the legislative priorities of her voters (or as is unfortunately the case in Citzens v. United land, her donors) and B) help unelect the fuck out of some Republicans. That’s a lot to put on anyone’s plate, but she’s doing a pretty good job on both fronts. Republicans might be helping her with B).

Nancy is in also in Donald Trump’s head. Big time.

She doesn’t have to say much to send him to the royal shitter for a 4:30AM ragetweet reprisal when she says disgraceful, disgusting things about Trumplethinskin. It’s fun to watch, but of course, lefty voters want more. At the time of this writing, sixty-nine Democrats and lone GOP rep Justin Amash (donate here) have committed to signing on to drafting articles of impeachment. Now, if we do a little simple math, that is 16% of the House and less than 30% of Democrats. Yet everyone in my tribe is dumping on Nancy Pelosi because she won’t support impeachment right now. Her own people don’t, so why would she drag them into a process that could make them unpopular at home? Who’s to say she could even get them passed?

The best my tribe could do is write their reps to get on the impeachment train instead of slagging Speaker Pelosi on Twitter. Have we not learned yet that change comes from the bottom? Dangle some dollars over their head. That tends to get their attention.

Donald Trump is obviously guilty of manifold offenses that are impeachable. Nancy’s not dumb, she knows- and she is not holding the line on his stupid assed behalf. She may be sacrificing our need for progress and justice right now while she waits for impeachment clouds to darken further, for more House Democrats to sign on.

The other thing I think Nancy is waiting for is the general election season. What better time to throw the impeachment stinkbomb and snarl him in investigations and scandal while he’s barnstorming, interviewing, and debating? It could be the thing that implodes Trump 2020. Timed right, it could be a monumentally powerful card to play.

Bottom line: you all know Nancy didn’t just fall off the turnip truck. Give her a break and give your wayward reps an earful instead.

Breakdowns Nervous And Otherwise

Many wise men, from Aristotle to Einstein, have admitted to themselves that the more you know, the more you realize how little you actually know.

I’ve hit that wall where I am simply struck dumb during political discussions. We have been on such a steep learning curve because our malfeasant, reality-twisting president is stressing our very system of government to the point where nothing is true, and everything is permitted.

The wife, she of her own credo, “nothing is going to go right, ever”, is demanding answers to why the fuck Trump and his cronies get away with the things they do. Today, she wanted to know why the fuck Don McGahn, former counsel to Trump, can be instructed to ignore a congressional subpoena and that would somehow be OK.

Now, since journalism (thank heavens) is not my job, I’ve had the luxury of generally ignoring the hourly transgressions of this administration since the Mueller report was accepted by the attorney general, summarized, and dismissed. I hung in there as long as I could, comrades, I did. But when AG Bill Barr did the bare minimum he was obliged to do, which was read Mueller’s summation- and decide within 48 hours that there was nothing actionable in the near 500-page report that required further scrutiny, well, I decided that was it. He’s probably gonna get away with it all and we will need a fucking political Superfund to deal with the mass of toxic garbage that Trump will have released into our way of government by the time he is done. Hell, into our very American way of life in general.

It’s not for lack of trying on the Democrats’ part to pinch Trump, mind you. They are in there in the suck, doing what they can with what they have, holding the hearings, following the money, pressing for full publication of Mueller’s report, and compelling testimony as best they can. And they don’t want to waste time on an impeachment that will not result in a removal because Mitch McConnell has the troops lined up to resist even if Trump does shoot someone on 5th Avenue. I donate quietly to people whose work I admire, but I am not going to get excited any more while the tectonic plates of justice slowly grind. I’m done with “bombshell” journalism because they are mere duds when the nation’s cops are covering for the crooks. If it is to be that Trump goes to the stocks because he’s as lazy at being a criminal as he is at everything else in his wretched life, then huzzah. But there is nothing I, your humble diarist, can do to hasten that day along. The only thing that would snap a finger in the face of the Republican party is a general strike or something on that level, and since you all need your jobs very badly and 40% of the voting-age population doesn’t give a shit what Trump does illegal or otherwise, that level of civil disobedience is not in the offing. So I’m saving what’s left of my sanity and declining to read the tea leaves anymore- hell, declining to read much in depth at all for that matter, waiting instead for sweet release in 2020, and while I am on that subject you lefty motherfuckers out there had better not fuck this coming election up with your boutique candidates with your boutique ideals, thinking somehow that sitting on your hands and allowing more Trump will hasten the breakdown of the system and then your revolutionary sweetheart can come along and rebuild society with compassion and mutual assistance for all. No. Society for the least of us (and most of us) will simply get exponentially worse. There’s no magic, not in this lifetime. Just a few scraps of wisdom a bunch of bookish slave owners cobbled together and we gotta make do with it as best we can. We are on this train till the end of the line, wherever that may be- and I will be damned if I have to sit with a second term of Donald Trump and his party full of troglodytes just because you couldn’t get your nebulous dreams of how society should be ordered on the general ballot. Fuck you. You’ll take what little communitarian legislation you can get for now and you’ll like it because the hard truth is that the cousin fuckers in flyover country are too retarded to know what’s good for them and their states get an extra senator no matter how barren of population they are and Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s ticker cannot hold the line forever. Just wait. Everything will come in its time, even your vaunted revolution. Don’t get me wrong. Keep dreaming, keep pushing, just not at the expense of having the advantage. In the meantime, it is incumbent on all of us to vote hell the fuck no to another four years of this insane clown posse running shit now and say yes to whomever can defeat it. Myself, I’m a Warren guy, but I will screw a smile on in a New York minute and vote for empty suit Joe Biden and his shiny fucking veneers and tell everyone I know and love to do the fucking same without hesitation in my heart.

Now that I have that out of the way, back to my wife, who demands answers.

“Why is it OK for Don McGahn to ignore a subpoena? Isn’t that a legal demand to appear somewhere that must be obeyed?”

This is a great question.

“Because it doesn’t matter anymore. I don’t know. There’s no consequences so there is no need to show up. If they say they don’t have to testify they don’t.”

This is not a satisfactory answer.

Sadly, it’s the naked truth.

Most of you who are sharp already know why no one is accountable anymore, and where all of this sounds familiar. Slip inside the eye of your mind and go back to the Bush administration, circa 2003, well after the lie that the mission was accomplished in Iraq. We wanted information on the resistance, where Saddam was, where Osama was, and traditional methods of gathering that intelligence from captured “terrorists” and “enemy combatants” were not producing the answers the Bush adminstration needed to help explain why we invaded Iraq.

Enter the OLC, the Office of Legal Counsel. This is a peculiar area in the Justice Department. It literally interprets the US Code on the president’s behalf, and issues binding opinions about what it says. In other words, if the OLC says something is legal, then it is. That’s an amazing power to have and until someone sues or someone in oversight or a judge nullifies it, it has the force of law. So anyway, Jay Bybee and John Yoo of Bush’s OLC crafted and released a memo freeing the CIA and the armed forces to torture prisoners who did not fight under uniform or flag. It took years for someone to invalidate the legal reasoning that they used and no one went to jail for the horrors that memo unleashed. Even the Obama administration hard passed on prosecuting the architects of the torture program, choosing instead to shoot the messenger.

So today, Trump’s OLC is taking executive privilege as far as it can. His former lawyer is being compelled to testify in front of the House Judiciary Committee about Trump/Russia, and the OLC is suggesting that he need not do so because their opinion is that the President is immune from prosecution as long as he holds the office, and therefore no one who works for the sitting president can be compelled to testify against him. Says Trump’s new counsel,

“Congress may not constitutionally compel the president’s senior advisers to testify about their official duties.”

“Because of this constitutional immunity, and in order to protect the prerogatives of the office of the presidency, the president has directed Mr. McGahn not to appear at the Committee’s scheduled hearing on Tuesday.”

And that’s about where we are at, kiddies. I fold.

Bill Barr has an easy job right now, content that Trump writes his own laws. In fact, he’s ignored his own subpoena as well, and even though he is in contempt, as I said, it just doesn’t matter anymore. The congressional duty to oversee has been neutered. The fix is in but good right about now. I don’t think it’s an overstatement that we are living under a ruler who can’t be challenged on any front. A terrifying power has been conferred to the executive branch, and frankly I couldn’t care less what party he or she belongs to-no President should ever be able to hide wrongdoing or any sort of doing on this scale ever again.

PS: As I was writing this, a “bombshell” dropped from a judge, invalidating the OLC’s directive that McGahn need not testify. Even so, since it is demonstrated that there’s no downside to blowing Congress off, what will it amount to?

It Can’t Happen Here. Until It Does.

Yesterday, I found out what it’s like to be a target of the government. As a white, straight male, I never thought that they would come for me. How does it go?

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
     Because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
     Because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
     Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

You can insert whoever is currently being maligned or demonized in this cussed era of open white supremacy and it will still ring true. Everyone should read that and understand that we have a duty to come to each others’ aid when the chips are down, especially given the open hostility that characterizes this administration’s attitude (and to a larger degree, the right wing in general) to so many groups of ordinary folks trying to get by who aren’t always white, straight and male (throw Christian in there if you like).

You might be wondering: what is it about me that makes me a target?

I’m a veteran.

A disabled one.

Who’da thunk it, right?

You would think that any president of the United States would reflexively support wounded warriors or any fucking warriors, but President Trump clearly has no use for the troops or veterans except in the most perfunctory of ways.

And today, I don’t think I have a safe space on social media anymore because his administration wants to look at my accounts to determine whether or not I need my Social Security benefits anymore.

I have been a vocal critic of Trump on Facebook, and there’s pictures of me smiling and happy there. I know it’s hard to believe, but smiling and being happy on social media just might be one metric of how they determine whose benefits can be cut.

Both of those editorials linked above go into satisfactory detail about why this is an incredibly bad, wrongheaded and misguided way to cut fraud. We may be disabled, but that doesn’t mean we are miserable 24/7.

If this policy goes into motion, who’s to say that the Veteran’s Administration won’t use these metrics? Best practices say to assume that all agencies are politicized at this point. I’m sure Trump has seen on Fox that segment of a reserve major (and I am not denigrating his service, he did one more tour in the sandbox than I did) who worked for Bear-Stearns (and was under consideration for head of the VA) saying that those of us that cannot get a job at Bear-Stearns use too many benefits.

If any of this is successful at slashing my retirement benefits it will leave me and my family homeless and in bankruptcy should these arbitrary standards become a way to cheat the disabled from benefits they earned.

So I have decided to leave Facebook until I am assured that none of this will become policy. I don’t even know if it already has and I am not sticking around to find out. I am doing better these days, but I know bipolar disorder is waiting to attack if stress is applied. It’s never far away. I had to earn this reprieve from the disease, it took 13 years of medicinal wrong turns, hundreds of hours of therapy, and multiple trips to a locked ward to get where I am today. And I am lucky and grateful we have this safety net so for once I cannot be dogged my my illness. I have a right to be happier without Trump’s Gestapo bean counters misinterpreting that it’s a sign that I’m all better.

In the meantime, y’all let me know when I can be happy and safe again on social media. They won’t find me here in my tiny corner of the internet. No one can, come to think of it.

Dying Because Of Your Country

Veteran’s issues came into sharp focus in Austin a few days ago. We lost another soldier when he walked into a VA clinic and shot himself in front of hundreds of people.

I had no idea that this is a thing that has been happening. I mean, vets take their own life all the time, but I didn’t know they were steady offing themselves at the clinics. Here, scroll this. In fact, it happened in my back yard over the weekend.

Twice.

Now, normally when a story like this grabs the public, a good government would take notice and pledge to reduce the number of veterans killing themselves because they don’t have enough access to care. But since we don’t have one, the number of suicides at hospitals will continue unabated. The current administration is trying to monetize the VA as they do with all their Cabinet positions, handing over delicate specialty care to private practice- not to improve care, but to profit.

I have a tendency to come to the VA’s defense because I have gotten nothing but top notch care from them. I have never wanted for an appointment. When I needed psychiatric inpatient services, my wife was able to do with me what she needed to do for all of our sake. Today, thanks to all the hard work people did at the VA to get me here, I have come out the other side of a dangerous, merciless and unrelenting disease like bipolar disorder. I’m experiencing more clarity than I ever have in the past, perhaps even more than I did before the illness reared its head and ruined my career as a soldier and a productive member of society. I’ve battled for over 13 years at the least to get where I am right now and my doctors have been right by my side in the fight. So generally, when people tell me the VA sucks, I tell them to go fuck themselves.

But these horrid shootings cannot be ignored by me nor the federal government anymore. I am very fortunate that I am only a 25 minute drive to the VA. Lots of vets have to travel much longer than that, and that’s unacceptable. We are still in the middle of the longest war in American history and I don’t think we have significantly improved the infrastructure to deal with the flow of broken warriors. This map clearly shows that vets in several regions are under-served, especially in the places where soldiers generally come from to escape urban hopelessness and rural ennui. They shouldn’t have to go back to their home of record not knowing where to turn for soldier trauma, which is unique.

It’s going to take a herculean attempt to right this wrong. But this congress and this president have no stomach to meet the challenge with the unparalleled power of the federal government. Anything that costs money costs too much, unless we are shoveling out cash to corporations and banks who cannot stay afloat without a bailout. With all the ballyhoo about “taking care of the troops”, by doing nothing to meet the needs of soldiers when they come back we are currently saluting service with one hand and shooting the finger with the other.

A Few Thoughts On Kratom

I have a lollapalooza of a katzenjammer this fine Sunday morning. I am glad I am not religious, because Jesus would undoubtedly have taken a back seat to this hangover. I decided to take some kratom to dial back the symptoms and I am sure I will feel much better in a few minutes, or at least I’ll be happy enough while I suffer through this mother.

So: let’s talk a little about kratom, which is the powdered leaves of mitragyina speciosa. There are loads of misinformation out there on the nature of the drug (and yes, that’s what it is). I have been a user for probably a year or so, and I believe I have standing on kratom, pro and con.

One thing that is certain is that if you are gonna be hooked on something no matter what, you could definitely do worse than kratom. Good strains will lighten your mood, untie your tongue, and make you feel like you are on prescription cough syrups. It’s far, far cheaper than having a pill habit, and many people swear by kratom to replace an opiate addiction from fighting chronic pain. It doesn’t show up on a piss test because it’s not looking for the metabolites of mitragyna. You can get it in head shops, but there are sources for bulk buying overseas where you can get discounts for the amount you buy. You can also get premium stuff through the mail, unless you live in a handful of states or cities who have scheduled kratom as illegal.

What’s not to love about all of that?

The size of an average habit is a subject of debate, but that’s what happens when you cripple good research and have to rely on your own empirical study to get at the truth. Take this stupid page; they say a low dose is 10 grams. I can tell you with certainty that a person who does 10 grams at a time is a heavily developed, full blown user. You don’t need more than 3 grams to get off. However, remember that this is a drug, and one that you can easily develop a tolerance to if you go at it too much, and consequently you will need some more to tickle that
μ-opioid receptor.

Kratom advocates can be somewhat disingenuous about its addiction potential. I realized I was addicted about a month ago, which is my primary reason for writing this. There are many ways to ingest kratom, and I either mix it in a shake, or dump it straight down the gullet with a drink nearby that I can chug to wash it down. I had an 8-9 gram a day habit, broken up into two administrations. How did I find out I had a monkey on my back? I needed a hit before a grocery trip but the wife was in a hurry. Guess who came first? Kratom. What’s worse is that I flushed hot while I was measuring the dose on a small digital scale. I know what that means, even if I have only really been truly addicted to cigarettes. At that point, I wasn’t even enjoying myself anymore even if I bumped up a gram. I was now doing maintenance to feel normal. So I knew I was dealing with a problem that needed my attention.

I am now stepping down, slowly but surely. I have cut my use by more than half without issue, and that is another one of the good things about kratom- withdrawing slowly does not cause any discomfort. I’m going on vacation in late May, and I will not be taking kratom with me so I have a mission-to either stop completely, or cut the dose so low that I don’t need the drug as much anymore and I can go days without it. With luck, I might be able to get back to enjoying it as a pleasant occasional high.

All addicts understand the hedging I am doing about quitting.

To close, respect opioids, no matter what form they take. I still think kratom should be legal, researched and regulated and should be a part of modern American medicine to fight pain. No one’s going to do any crime to get some. It’s certainly not something that belongs anywhere near the schedule table. But if you are going to have fun with kratom, know the risks concerning addiction like you would any drug.


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