Category Archives: Immoral Values

Malaka Of The Week: Rod Rosenstein

Rod Rosenstein & Scoot McNairy.

One of the best things about Showtime’s The Comey Rule is its portrayal of Rod Rosenstein. Rosenstein comes off as a schlemiel, putz, worm, nerd, weasel, and toady. By all accounts, it’s an accurate depiction. And that is why Rod Rosenstein is malaka of the week.

Rod Rosenstein was briefly an unlikely resistance hero. He was seen as the man who prevented Bob Mueller from being fired. There were even demonstrations to “save” Rod Rosenstein from being sacked by the Kaiser of Chaos. From what we’ve learned this year, they should have been calling for his pinhead on a pike.

Bob Woodward has argued that naming the post-Comey investigation after Robert Mueller is a misnomer. He believes that it was really the Rosenstein probe. I concur and I think history will as well. That’s why it was doomed.

Malaka Rod was instrumental in steering the Mueller Probe away from two of the most promising aspects of its investigation: counter-intelligence and Trump’s finances. It always comes down to money with Donald Trump.

Rosenstein let Team Mueller think that the FBI was continuing with its counter-intelligence probe when, in fact, it withered and died after Andrew McCabe was demoted and later fired.

Rosenstein ordered Mueller NOT to investigate President* Pennywise’s ill-gotten gains. Bobby Three Sticks is a rule-follower and an honest man. They were able to flip those good qualities against him and effectively neuter the investigation.

In addition to his Rosenstein probe malakatude, Malaka Rod was up to his neck in the worst thing Team Trump has done: the family separation scandal.

The five U.S. attorneys along the border with Mexico, including three appointed by President Trump, recoiled in May 2018 against an order to prosecute all undocumented immigrants even if it meant separating children from their parents. They told top Justice Department officials they were “deeply concerned” about the children’s welfare.

But the attorney general at the time, Jeff Sessions, made it clear what Mr. Trump wanted on a conference call later that afternoon, according to a two-year inquiry by the Justice Department’s inspector general into Mr. Trump’s “zero tolerance” family separation policy.

“We need to take away children,” Mr. Sessions told the prosecutors, according to participants’ notes. One added in shorthand: “If care about kids, don’t bring them in. Won’t give amnesty to people with kids.”

Rod J. Rosenstein, then the deputy attorney general, went even further in a second call about a week later, telling the five prosecutors that it did not matter how young the children were. He said that government lawyers should not have refused to prosecute two cases simply because the children were barely more than infants.

“Those two cases should not have been declined,” John Bash, the departing U.S. attorney in western Texas, wrote to his staff immediately after the call. Mr. Bash had declined the cases, but Mr. Rosenstein had overruled him. “Per the A.G.’s policy, we should NOT be categorically declining immigration prosecutions of adults in family units because of the age of a child.”

Jeff Sessions’ role in this atrocity should come as no surprise: Steven Miller was his bequest to the Trump regime. Like fellow lackey Field Marshall Wilhelm Keitel, Malaka Rod was just following orders. He’s a dutiful schlemiel, after all.

Back to The Comey Rule. The fine Australian actor Scoot McNairy plays Rosenstein as an awkward, ill-at-ease, and nervous little man. He was eager to please his superiors and easily impressed by more secure men such as Comey and Mueller before turning on them. Weasels will stab you in the back given half-a-chance and a green light from someone higher up the ladder. Orders are orders.

One of the Impeached Insult Comedian’s few talents is an ability to uncover the dark side in other people. It’s part of the con man’s art. He figured Malaka Rod for a mark early on, squeezed him until he was hollowed out, then discarded him. Everything Trump touches turns to shit; even “distinguished lawyers” such as Malaka Rod. And that is why Rod Rosenstein is malaka of the week.

As I wrote this post, I thought of the lyrics to a John Lennon song:

You can wear a mask and paint your face
You can call yourself the human race
You can wear a collar and a tie
One thing you can’t hide
Is when you’re crippled inside

The last word goes to John Lennon whose birthday it is. He would have been 80 if he were still with us:

 

Today on Tommy T’s Obsession with the Freeperati – The Darnold’s Even Worse Week edition

Well, so much for a mental health week. I’d hoped that the DNC convention week would give me a respite from Freeperville, but NOOOOOOOOO…

GodfatherJustWhenI wasOut

Also,

CofeeBreaksOver

“Coffee break’s over – back on your heads!”

Well, let’s get suited up and into the airlock.  The warning buzzers and overload sirens are getting on my last nerve.

Breaking — Steve Bannon, Brian Kolfage arrested and charged by DOJ…
www.citizenfreepress.com ^ | Posted by Kane on August 20, 2020 10:04 am

Posted on 8/20/2020, 9:15:08 AM by Red Badger

1 posted on 8/20/2020, 9:15:08 AM by Red Badger

Oh dear.

To: Red Badger

 

I said for a while that the build the wall fund was a scam and wouldn’t result in anything substantial but people wanted to believe that we could throw a buck on the pile to build the wall.

13 posted on 8/20/2020, 9:19:36 AM by Zeroisanumber1

Well, you know what they say – “There’s a Freeper born every minute”.
To: RummyChick

 

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon has been arrested after being charged with defrauding hundreds of thousands of donors through their campaign “We Build the Wall.”

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/08/20/former-trump-advisor-steve-bannon-arrested-on-charges-of-defrauding-donors-in-fundraising-scheme.html

5 posted on 8/20/2020, 8:45:28 AM by RummyChick (Stop Apologizing for things you didn’t do. Stop Demanding Apologies when refuse to forgive)

And probably the best non-conspiracy-theory-but-her-emails response:
To: RummyChick

 

We thought we were building the wall, but we were buying Bannon’s hookers and meth

7 posted on 8/20/2020, 8:46:54 AM by babble-on

 

WeHaveAwinner

And now, the Southern District of New York fan club chimes in:


To: Red Badge

The indictment was brought by prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.
12 posted on 8/20/2020, 9:19:30 AM by MarvinStinson
To: srmanuel

 

Your article seems to confirm it was the Democrats at SDNY. And it involves that vet was the trying to build the wall, too. More targeted political prosecutions out of the “Trump” DOJ.

16 posted on 8/20/2020, 8:48:34 AM by lodi90

To: Red Badger

 

The SDNY is a very large office with hundreds of prosecutors of which some will be closet Democrats of those that have been accidentally overlooked by the Attorney General and Trump.

Once Attorney General Barr hears about Bannon’s arrest, the charges will be dropped and the rouge(sic) prosecutor will be fired and disbarred.

28 posted on 8/20/2020, 9:33:39 AM by Meatspace

And primates might take wing from my anus…..
.
And just like that – makeup was illegal…..

To: Red Badger

 

Not sure what everyone is complaining about with SDNY.  Audrey Strauss is Barr’s appointee. Trump and Barr fired Berman. Therefore – this would be Strauss doing this – and would be Barr’s “man” (woman) doing this.

21 posted on 8/20/2020, 9:29:25 AM by NELSON111 (Congress: The Ralph Wolf and Sam Sheepdog show. Theater for sheep. My politics determines my “hero”)

 

Details, details….

To: Red Badger

Barr is a deep state stooge

CurleyConcidence

 

and needs to be FIRED now!

35 posted on 8/20/2020, 9:38:36 AM by Swirl

Drain that swamp, baby!!
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TrumpDerpImpact
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Come along with me below the fold to see much much more of The Darnold’s Very Bad Day.
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Continue reading

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Today on Tommy T’s Obsession with the Freeperati – shortest post ever edition

Taking a short mental health break, people.

Have to.

Saw this while cruising Freeperville for reaction to Kamala Harris’s VP pick:

KamalaFreeper

 

I got nothing.

*****************************************

Actually, that’s not true – I do have one little observation to make :

A few weeks ago, I opined that Trump’s attack on the USPS would backfire on him, and in spectacular fashion.
I’d like to take this opportunity to say “I told you so”.

But why?
It’s not Pelosi’s actions in recalling the House from recess to address this transparent rat-fuckery.
It’s not the Veterans who get almost all of their medications by mail.
(after all, this is a “president” who doesn’t know – or care – what a Gold Star family is)

It’s the older voters.
Voters 50 and above largely have a unique experience with our USPS delivery people.
They’re our friends.
We grew up waving to them as they pulled up to our mailboxes, and talking happily with them. They were a part of our neighbourhoods, and we treated them as such. Not as government employees, or Federal stooges, but as our friends and our neighbours – which they were.

When Reagan disemboweled the Air Traffic Controllers, few of us interacted with (or even KNEW) an ATC.

This is different.

Why does it matter so much this time?
Because we oldies not only fondly remember, we VOTE.
In large numbers.
More than any other demographic.

Keep it up, Trump – and your ship will sink even faster than it currently is.

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Stephen Miller’s Song

Shakespeare At Dusk by Edward Hopper

While we’ve all had our eyes on the pandemic, despicable White House aide and self-hating Jew Stephen Miller has kept busy. You can detect his hand behind President* Pennywise’s immigration “ban.” It was, of course, devised to distract attention from the regime’s supremely inept pandemic response. They’ve tried lying their way through it and it’s blown up in their pasty, white faces or in Trump’s case, orange.

The other reason I’m plagued by thoughts about Miller is a Slate piece by Jeremy Stahl that reminds us of Miller’s racist malefactions. It’s part of a series about Trump administration malfeasance. This post is full of M-words. Here are two more: Miller is a malodorous motherfucker. That felt mighty, mighty good.

You’re probably wondering what I’m on about with the post title. It’s down to Richard Thompson-Edward Hopper month at Saturday Odds & Sods. I’ve been listening to RT’s back catalog a lot of late and one song in particular strikes me as relevant to this moment in time. Time is still on my mind as you’ll see later today. I’ve also thrown one more Hopper painting into the mix as the featured image. Never enough EH or RT.

The exact point-of-view of the 1979 Richard Thompson song, Civilisation, remains somewhat murky; something the songwriter is unlikely to clarify other than to state it doesn’t reflect his own political views. I’ve always interpreted it as a narrative tune with a far-right xenophobic protagonist spouting bigoted bile and nonsense about immigrants. Hence my idiosyncratic connection of it with far-right racist and xenophobic Trump aide, Stephen Miller. There’s occasionally method to my madness.

Civilisation is the opening track of the penultimate Richard and Linda Thompson album, Sunnyvista. It rocks like crazy and, as you might have gathered, has disturbing RT lyrics:

They’re not human, they’re with the Woolwich
They eat food I wouldn’t give to my dog
They’re hygienic, medicated
They wouldn’t live next door to no wog
They’re not human, where do they come from?
I don’t know what they’re living here for
They don’t belong here, on this planet
What are they doing in the house next door?

Wife’s tranquilized, milk’s pasteurized
Kid’s hypnotized by the t.v.
Dad’ll beat you, dog’ll eat you
They’ll treat you like family

All across the nation
It’s civilisation

They’re not human, they’ve got a new car
They’re going to polish it all the day long
Got a brand new rubber woman
They’re going to blow her up all the night long
They’re not human, it’s a double cross
They sold out for a handful of beads
They sold everything for nothing, just a
Headful of dreams and a handful of greed

Keep ’em happy, keep ’em drinking
Keep ’em laughing, no thinking
No dying, no weeping
Keep ’em hypnotized, keep ’em sleeping

All across the nation
It’s civilisation

Pack you off to school, get working
Get a steady job, no shirking
Get to sixty-five, get a handshake
You’re a vegetable with a heartache

All across the nation
It’s civilisation

I hear the sound of Stephen Miller clapping and nodding his head.

There’s an overly literal interpretive video of Civilisation on YouTube by a dude with a handle that I originally thought was German, Mehefinheulog. It turns out to be Welsh. He  uses images of movie space aliens and includes frequent nods to Sir Kenneth Clark’s genteel and erudite teevee series, Civilisation. RT’s protagonist may be wordy but he’s neither genteel nor erudite.

Stephen Miller and his ilk believe they’re stalwart defenders of Western civilization instead of malevolent bigots. I assume his family remains ashamed of him. They should be mortified. That’s the last M-word of this post.

Jumping on the Express Train to Hell

Imagine signing on for this today. 

At this point in the last election, Trump’s campaign employed 19 consultants. Now, there are more than 200. When Trump had all but locked up the nomination by May 2016, he had spent $63 million. Thus far, pro-Trump committees have spent $531 million.

I mean, imagine signing on for it in 2016, when his opening statement was “Mexicans will rape your white daughters” and he followed it up with That Convention and Lock Her Up and Grab ‘Em By The Pussy. That’s bad enough, when he was just a crude old racist asshole and thus, if you were rich and white, kind of a joke.

But now that he’s all that plus — thanks to Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan — an imminent threat to the republic, a fascist presiding over concentration camps, the enemy of anyone who isn’t a suburban Caucasian dipshit, imagine who you’d have to be to say yeah, gimme a piece of that.

I get that we all have to eat, but there are sales on ground beef at the grocery store every week, guys, don’t any of you dare say you needed to resort to this. There’s a liquor store on the corner I’m sure you could halfway competently rob and at least then you’d have my respect.

One of the major solaces these days of having been raised with an understanding of capital-G, Old Testament Charlton Heston God, is imagining that there are in fact circles of Hell, literal physical ones, full of demons torturing people by ripping out their livers for eternity and shit. Everyone involved with this situation is clearly going there, but I choose to have faith in a hierarchy, and anybody who signs up NOW is gonna be a lot closer to the bottom of the pit.

A.

Wicked & Cruel

Keeping up with the Trump Regime’s scandals and misdeeds is exhausting. Another shoe or empty umbrella drops every day. The Insult Comedian is not an ideologue, unless self-love counts, but the administration is honeycombed with Teabaggers bound and determined to dismantle the regulatory state. They should be bound and gagged instead, but it’s unclear if there’s enough rope and duct tape to get the job done. We’re swimming in a sea of malakatude, y’all.

The worst thing done by Team Trump recently is the repellent and inhumane effort to run sick immigrant children and their parents out of the country. Kindly Doc Maddow has been all over this story and the NYT chimed in yesterday with a story about Maria Bueso who is suffering from a rare genetic disease:

Now 24, Ms. Bueso, who had been told she likely would not live past adolescence, has participated in several medical studies. She has won awards for her advocacy on behalf of people with rare diseases, appearing before lawmakers in Washington and in Sacramento. Over the years, her parents have paid for the treatment that keeps her alive with private medical insurance.

But last week, Ms. Bueso received a letter from the United States government that told her she would face deportation if she did not leave the country within 33 days, an order described by her doctor, lawyer and mother as tantamount to a “death sentence.”

This moves beyond cruelty into the realm of sadism. In this case, Maria Bueso and her family are assets to the community and are paying their own way. This makes no sense in a rational and humane world but perfect sense in the twisted world view of President* Pennywise and his barbaric henchman Steven Miller. Their goal is to deter immigration both legal and illegal. That gives them the power of life and death over people such as Maria Bueso. How can anyone be so wicked and cruel?

Making matters worse, Team Trump has once again formulated a policy without an action plan. The White House has dumped this responsibility on DHS but it’s unclear who’s in charge, which reminds me of this line by late Gret Stet Senator Russel Long:

Maria Bueso is not the only victim of the Trump Regime’s eerie combination of incompetence and cruelty but her case is perhaps the most dramatic. She will die if she is cut off from her current treatment. What’s next? A Eugenics revival? This is the path that the Trump-Miller junta is leading us down. It’s government by malice and impulse. How can anyone be so wicked and cruel?

The wicked and cruel refrain and post title is inspired by a Difford and Tlbrook song. Squeeze gets the last word:

Talk to Your Kids About Power

From Laura Turner’s wonderful piece (go read it all) about growing up evangelical and reckoning with it as an adult in all kinds of ways: 

Looking back on teachings about sexual purity now—the conversations about modesty, about saving oneself for marriage—I am struck that we never, not once, had a conversation about consent. It was reasonable for a boy to suggest that he was “tempted” by a girl wearing skimpy clothes, but the blame was always placed on the girl for dressing that way. We never talked about power, about how being a man in power could warp a person’s soul, how that warping could turn into abuse, how that abuse would go unchallenged. We were liabilities, even as men thought they were loving us. We were taught that men have the upper hand, and that it was a woman’s job to defuse that lust. We never talked about what it meant to be a person, a complete, vulnerable, whole-bodied person who had control over her being.

I was having this conversation with Kick’s caregiver the other day, about what TV she watches. Like I don’t care if she accidentally catches a sex scene in some movie before you change the channel. She knows what a boob is. Why are those people doing that? Well, they love each other and when you love each other you kiss and touch.

But stories — and there are a startling number of them — about violence or coercion are so much more complicated, and more necessary, and I’m trying to learn about how to have them in ways that don’t make her hate or fear herself. One of the terrible things we do by gatekeeping the appearances of young women — you look too grown-up, you can’t wear nail polish till you’re 20, etc — is make them afraid of their own beauty; it’s BAD to be pretty, how dare you.

When we refuse to teach young people how to recognize manipulation and power we don’t just make them vulnerable to hurt. We make them afraid of happiness. What if you want to be wanted? What if you care about someone and want him to touch you with love and joy? What if you want to be admired, want to have affection, want someone to be attracted to you? What if that relationship is mutual and fun and you have no idea how to keep from poisoning it with fear?

Are you a dirty slut because your boyfriend likes the way you look in a bikini and you enjoy having his eyes on you?

(This, like most purity discourse, assumes straightness, which is a whole other damn kettle of bigoted fish.)

It’s not just about protecting yourself. It’s about learning to live in the world and not hate yourself and fear everyone else. That’s a hell of a lot harder to explain than why two people are naked.

A.

Signal This Virtue

Of all the dismissals of protest and outrage that we’ve heard from conservatives over the past two years I think the one that makes me the craziest is the accusation of “virtue signaling.” 

Expressions of moral outrage are playing a prominent role in contemporary debates about issues like sexual assault, immigration and police brutality. In response, there have been criticisms of expressions of outrage as mere “virtue signaling” — feigned righteousness intended to make the speaker appear superior by condemning others.

Clearly, feigned righteousness exists. We can all think of cases where people simulated or exaggerated feelings of outrage because they had a strategic reason to do so. Politicians on the campaign trail, for example, are frequent offenders.

So it may seem reasonable to ask, whenever someone is expressing indignation, “Is she genuinely outraged or just virtue signaling?”

I thought about this over the usual two-protest summer weekend, and following a work discussion about audiences for stories, because it’s really easy to accuse someone of showing off when you don’t understand why what they’re doing is important.

Or when you’re used to not being opposed.

Trump was supposed to win the argument, right? He was supposed to be the ultimate fuck-you, the ultimate OH YEAH HOW DO YOU LIKE THIS THEN? It was the ultimate defeat for us dastardly liberals and our terrible identity politics, for people who talk about bathrooms and pronouns, about segregation and sexual assault.

We were supposed to be so humiliated and sad and scared and ashamed of losing that we’d never show our faces again.

Yet here we are. Singing.

And that pisses them off so much. They accuse us of showing off because they’re mad we’re still here.

Too bad, assholes.

The accusation of “virtue signaling” implies that we shouldn’t live our lives in public, that we shouldn’t show what we believe.

Living your life in a way that honors American values when no one is rewarded (and no, Twitter likes are not rewards, I don’t care what the hashtag-resistance says) for doing so is a radical fucking act. Do you know how much money the right throws around? Ben Shapiro has a whole media empire for being a halfbright douche when friends of mine are dying broke and broken for writing about unjust wars and cowardly politics, don’t you dare act like there’s something in this for us. I’m as mad about the #NeverTrump rebranding as you are but few people getting book deals while the rest of us hook for ho-hos is not a system that rewards people for speaking out and speaking up.

In defense, let us remember always, of such controversial ideas as “it is legal to seek asylum in the richest country in the world” and “maybe let’s not take babies away from their mothers.” It’s not immaterial WHAT virtues we are demonstrating. It matters what the gesture IS.

So we’re just “virtue signaling,” Republicans? OKAY. I’m pretty okay with signaling the virtue that all men are created equal and so were the founding fathers whose legs you hump, not that you can even spell their names.

Is it useless to stand in a circle beneath a memorial to the War to End All Wars, one hundred years and seven wars later, with candles in our hands and inadequate words in our mouths? No one’s liberated from the camps and no one’s given asylum and no one’s safe because a few people in a few places lit candles and sang. No one’s free because of the light.

That we know of.

Yet.

But no one’s imprisoned because of the light. No one’s separated and no one’s tortured and no one’s poorer or hungrier because of the light.

And maybe someone inside the walls of a prison somewhere heard the singing outside.

At a time when we’re being told not to believe what we can see, at a time when we’re being told we’re not Real Americans and don’t live in the Real World, signals are how we get to one another. How we let one another know what’s happening, who needs help, how to find them. I have it tattooed on my left goddamn arm, the line from Serenity: Can’t stop the signal.

Is that enough by itself? Of course not, but I don’t know anyone at a protest on the weekends who isn’t working during the week to make this better in a thousand small ways from calling Congress to helping their neighbors to volunteering at a food pantry to just goddamn not voting for monsters.

You take every chance to stand up because never in this world are you ever going to know for sure which one is going to be the one that makes the change.

And literally nobody posting a cute protest selfie on Instagram or buying a Ruth Bader Ginsburg pin is making the world worse, unlike Mike Pence, the creature. So if you can do nothing else, signal.

A.

As Well as If: IVF, Abortion Rights, and Consistency

I’ve written before about our 10-year science experiment that led to Kick being born. Ten years of fertility treatments, ranging from minimal intervention to the six IVF cycles that finally resulted in what we call, horrifyingly, a “live birth.”

Those six cycles, over two years, involved thrice-daily injections of multiple medications, some with side effects that are still being felt five years later. I was allergic to one of the carrier oils for one of the meds and developed a tendency to break out in hives, for example. Another medication simulated menopause, a super-fun experience in your early 30s. Days and days and days off work; my job at the time was part-time, so I could devote the other “part” to the process.

Had our insurance not covered almost all of this, it would have been close to $150,000.

My point is this, about IVF: Nobody, nobody, does it lightly. Nobody’s skipping into the clinic saying hey, shoot me up! I know our morning shows and TV dramas are shit about giving out information about childbearing but trust me, and trust the needle marks in my arms and hands and back and legs, trust the laparoscopy and the myomectomy scars, trust the backlog of bills even with insurance: This isn’t something you can do on a whim.

But that’s what they think about women, that we do things because notions just flit into our feathery little heads.

I said, years ago, when the 20-week abortion bans and fetal personhood bills started coming up in state legislatures, that this would result in the targeting of IVF procedures and everybody said oh, no, you’re being hysterical well HYSTERICAL THIS, YOU SANCTIMONIOUS PRICKS: 

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A federal program to help injured veterans and their spouses conceive children through in vitro fertilization is being hobbled by anti-abortion forces that oppose how the process can lead to embryos being destroyed.

Since 2012, Democrats in Congress have repeatedly championed legislation permanently extending IVF benefits to veterans whose injuries in the line of duty have left them unable to conceive children otherwise.

But those bills have fizzled in the face of opposition from Catholic bishops and others in favor of a temporary program that must be reauthorized every year, complicating efforts by eligible veterans to begin or extend their families.

Look, let’s give them credit for consistency here. If every fertilized egg is a person, then every fertility clinic in the country is holding thousands of hostages. If those are people, with the full range of human rights granted a full-term baby, every fertility clinic in the country should either have to apply to a judge for legal guardianship of every single embryo (and comply with all federal and state requirements for said role) or look forward to a bunch of kidnapping charges.

If I was a creative lawyer I’d be filing habeas petitions on behalf of all those embryos to have them liberated.

This shit is just so cynical and enraging. It’s not an accident they’re going after veterans’ IVF benefits and assistance first. The USCCB is stupid but they’re not stupid, they know it’s one thing to shriek MAH TAX DOLLARS and another to tell the nice lady putting her envelope in the collection basket that she’s sinning by going to the clinic to help her have a much-desired child.

And you know, it shouldn’t make a difference that rich women have IVF and poor women have abortions; arguments about bodily autonomy should be about autonomy, full stop. If we favor reproductive freedom we should favor it for all, whether that’s the Duggar family having 22 kids or a single woman having none.

What’s frustrating is that the people who do want to have 22 kids don’t see that the same freedom that protects my right to abortion also protects my right to have as many children as I want. When we say choice we mean choice.

The choice of when and how, as well as if.

A.

Minimum Standards

This is all they asked:

Basically, the job offer was like, “You can put babies in cages and enforce unenforceable bullshit and be as big of a racist shitbag as you want to be, thanks to the current administration, but for the love of fuck do not post your racist shitbaggery on a public form with your name and references to your FEDERAL AGENCY attached.”

That’s a VERY low bar, honestly. Even considering the types of racists the job would either attract or nurture, “please do not broadcast your inner sturmfuhrer to all and sundry on Al Gore’s internet” is a basic requirement for public service to have.

I am sure that in the coming days we will hear about how hard this job is and how these brave “first responders” just had to blow off some steam by photoshopping members of Congress blowing Donald Trump, that they were having wacky fun, and that if YOU, a low-T soyboy liberal, had to cage babies you too would need to make jokes at those babies’ expenses in order to live with the stress.

So let’s be clear: I am not shocked or offended by the racism. It is their whole entire job to be racist, why even bother doing it if you don’t believe dangerous slavering hordes of people are coming to kill us all in our beds and take our God-given white welfare? I am not in any way surprised that they are racist, misogynistic assholes.

I am contemptuous of the utter stupidity, and astonished that at a time when our bar could not be lower, CBP officers still found a way to slither underneath.

A.

Don’t Take Advice From People Who Hate You

Just stop it. They hate you. They always have, they always will, and they’re not going to change:

To recap, the last two Democratic presidents were Bill Clinton, the best Republican president we’ve ever had, and Barack Obama, whose signature piece of legislation was Mitt Romney’s healthcare plan. Republicans impeached the former and despised the latter mostly for being black and having the temerity to exist in the world and occasionally speak to other black people.

In response to Clinton, the Republicans staged a minor coup in the state of Florida and the SCOTUS and elected George W. Bush, who lied America into an illegal war, botched every single part of the response to 9/11, cut rich people’s taxes to bankrupt the country, and instituted a degree of executive authority that undermined American democracy.

In response to Obama — a man who, again, was slightly to the right of Dwight David Eisenhower — the GOP nominated a rapist whose white supremacist goons do fascism on a daily basis at the border.

And today’s august journalism is full of dire pronouncements that if we don’t do all that over again Republicans will think we’re MEAN? I … just bite it, already.

We could not have tried any harder to suck up, honestly, and the GOP still acted like it was a personal affront to hear of the existence of nonwhite non-Republicans. They’re the party of white suburban women mad that somebody spoke Spanish at the store or was named anything other that Margaret Mary and I just cannot anymore. We have to appeal to them? We have to stop making them feel “othered?”

We don’t, actually. We just have to turn out more Democrats to vote at the statehouse levels and the Senate. In the face of gerrymandering, voter suppression, general anti-democratic nonsense all “we” have to do to get them past this awful feeling that they are not the majority anymore is to show them, definitively, that they aren’t.

Oh, is that hostile? Will that turn off a NYT columnist or someone who casually uses the word “colored” or thinks the problem with the Midwest’s manufacturing collapse is “Hispanics?” TOO BAD SO SAD, because if the choice is between your feelings (I’m sorry, your “deeply held patriotic beliefs”) and someone else’s existence, we choose the living and damn the torpedoes.

So you go ahead and feel disrespected. You go ahead and feel we’re being divisive, Republicans. You go ahead and feel like we’re making people feel like strangers in “their” country because they thought they owned something literally designed to be ownerless but for the lives it contains. You go right ahead and call us mean. We tried it your way. We did our best.

You responded with Trump, so me and mine, from now on, will serve the Lord.

A.

The Fog Of History: Semantic Antics

Choosing sides between Liz Cheney and Alexandria Ocascio-Cortez isn’t difficult. The latter called Trump’s migrant detention centers, concentration camps, and the former denounced this characterization. It’s a bit rich coming from a woman whose father is a torture fan but that’s life in the Trump era. It’s a theatre of the absurd more confusing than the crazy house/hall of mirrors scene in The Lady From Shanghai:

There’s a nightmare of the Trump regime’s creation at our Southern border. I’m glad it’s back in the spotlight but the semantic antics on the right are diverting attention onto their current bete noire: AOC. The implication is that calling a concentration camp what it actually is makes AOC some sort of Holocaust denier/minimizer; a David Irving with better dance moves. This is, of course, toxic nonsense.

Many scholars of the period have pointed out the difference between Nazi concentration camps and death camps. One could justly call the camps in which Japanese American citizens were unjustly detained concentration camps. This circular discussion reminds me of an absurd scene in another classic 1940’s film, To Be Or Not To Be:

The bottom line is that the United States government is holding migrants in camps wherein conditions are so appalling that they’ve resulted in 24 deaths. Adding horrifying insult to egregious injury is that children are being separated from their parents; in many instances permanently. That’s what matters, not what you call the camps. Words are important but people’s lives are infinitely more so.

Adding to the crazy house aspect of this debate is that babies are being locked in cages in the name of the rule of law. It’s beyond hypocritical coming from an administration that’s engaged in obstruction of justice on myriad fronts. It’s a small leap from myriad to the hall of mirrors in the crazy house.

Crazy House Mirror Maze

Image by Greg Biermann.

There are three articles about the Cheney-AOC debate that I highly recommend:

Dahlia Lithwick & Susan Mathews: The AOC-Liz Cheney “Concentration Camp” Fight Might Just Be A Distraction.

Andrea Pitzer:  How The Trump Administration’s Border Camps Fit Into The History Of Concentration Camps.

Eric Levtiz: With Trump’s Migrant Camps, The History We Should Fear Repeating Is Our Own.

Levitz issues a reminder about America’s inglorious history at our Southern border:

…progressives shouldn’t need to invoke the Holocaust to place migrant-detention centers in their proper context. The border separating the United States from lands dominated by nonwhite peoples has been a site of white-nationalist violence since the founding of our republic. America’s southern border is itself an artifact of a war of conquest that our government launched against Mexico — an invasion that Ulysses S. Grant called “one of the most unjust ever waged by a stronger against a weaker nation.” According to General Winfield Scott, commander of U.S. forces during that war, American troops committed atrocities against Mexican civilians so egregious they would “make Heaven weep, & every American, of Christian morals blush for his country. Murder, robbery, & rape on mothers & daughters, in the presence of the tied up males of the families, have been common along the Rio Grande.” In the decades that followed, Klansmen, citizen’s militias, and the uniformed officers of the Texas Rangers regularly lynched Latinos whom they regarded as invaders or threats to America’s racial order and purity. This is the history that Trumpism emerged from; these are the atrocities it threatens to repeat. Before Americans likened the violence at our borders to the Nazis, the Nazis likened their conquest of Eastern Europe to the violence at our frontiers.

History has a funny way of repeating itself although the results themselves are rarely funny ha-ha. We’re currently trapped in a crazy house hall of mirrors and blinded by the fog of history. All the semantic antics in the world will not change that; only the voters can. Make it so.

Pondering the wingnutty reaction to AOC has given me an earworm. The last word goes to Bryan Ferry:

Who Told Them The Left Hated Them?

Everyone’s dunking all over this which is right and just, but there’s something else happening:

Which is, you are convinced you have to be a Nazi because The Left hates you. So who told you the Left hated you?

I mean, did some mean feminist actually come up to you, spit in your face and say FUCK YOU FOR BEING A STRAIGHT WHITE MAN?

Or did someone tell you that happened to someone else who heard it from their cousin who saw it on “the news” who told their brother’s sister-in-law’s college roommate’s friend? Did Fox News tell you it was happening daily on the streets of God’s America? Did some YouTuber rant about anonymous leftists hating you? HOW DID YOU FIND OUT, and why did you believe it?

Because I gotta tell you, I talk to people all day long and zero of my conversations with acquaintances involve telling straight white men they’re inferior.

Sometimes they involve telling straight white men to cut out this or that specific behavior, but my direct conversations? With other humans, face to face? Rarely involve Twitter sentiments like “let’s keep straight white men in pens for sex and run the world on our own.”

How do you know the Left hates you, straight white fellow who’s just being PUSHED INTO being a Nazi because you HAD NO OTHER CHOICE? Who told you this was an acceptable response to being oppressed?

It isn’t some natural human reflex and the way I know that is African-Americans were enslaved and tortured for 400 years and they’ve managed to Nazi exactly nobody.

So at some point somebody told you this was a reasonable thing to do and say, and I’d like us to talk more about that person than about you, because buying this shit is one thing but selling it, as any drug dealer will tell you, is a whole ‘nother.

At a certain point we have to start addressing these conceptions of “the left” and “the media” hating REAL AMERICANS as the propaganda strategies they are. As electoral tools for the GOP, and not as something people of color caused by, like, existing and for which they should apologize.

A.

Today on Tommy T’s Obsession with the Freeperati – now and Zen edition

Oh dear.

The Freeperati used to love them some Pat Robertson.

It used to be:

To: NormsRevenge

 

I am thankful for Pat Robertson because he says things that others are afraid to say. I believe he truly is trying to interpret current events through a Biblical perspective.

6 posted on 2/18/2006, 5:24:01 PM by Reddy

 

To: TLBSHOW
Pat Robertson is right, again.
37 posted on 4/4/2003, 7:40:39 PM by thepitts
That was zen, this is meow :

Conservative televangelist Pat Robertson says Alabama abortion law is ‘extreme’ and he believes…DAILY MAIL UK ^ | May 15, 2019 | Keith Griffith For Dailymail.com Posted on 5/16/2019, 1:29:24 AM by Morgana

FULL TITLE: Conservative televangelist Pat Robertson says Alabama abortion law is ‘extreme’ and he believes the state ‘has gone too far’

Christian televangelist Pat Robertson has said that he believes Alabama’s near total ban on abortions is ‘extreme’ and that the state has gone ‘too far’.

Robertson, who opposes abortion and hopes to see Roe v Wade overturned, made the remarks on Wednesday on The 700 Club, hours before Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed the new law.

The Alabama law contains an exception for when the pregnancy creates a serious health risk for the woman, but not an exception for rape or incest, and would punish doctors who perform abortions with up to life in prison.

‘I think Alabama has gone too far,’ remarked the 89-year-old Robertson

‘It’s an extreme law, and they want to challenge Roe verses Wade, but my humble view is that this is not the case that we want to bring to the Supreme Court, because I think this one will lose,’ the conservative minister continued.

Robertson has been an outspoken opponent of abortion, and drew condemnation when he implied in 2005 that Hurricane Katrina’s destruction of New Orleans was God’s punishment for America’s abortion laws.

But in Wednesday’s broadcast Robertson said he feared that Alabama’s new law would not create the right test case to challenge the 1973 precedent of Roe v Wade.

‘It’s ill-considered,’ he said. ‘The Alabama case, god bless ’em they’re trying to do something, but I don’t think that’s the case that I’d want to bring to the Supreme Court.’

Governor Ivey signed the measure on Wednesday. The law will make performing an abortion at any stage of pregnancy a felony punishable by 10 to 99 years or life in prison.

*************************

Someone please get this twit off the air!
1 posted on 5/16/2019, 1:29:24 AM by Morgana
To: Morgana
Dementia. It’s a sad thing.

4 posted on 5/16/2019, 1:43:51 AM by irishjuggler

To: Morgana
Someone please get this twit off the air!

Seriously. He has been saying stupid thing to embarrass Christians for too many years.

32 posted on 5/16/2019, 10:21:38 AM by Buckeye McFrog

And then a Freeper goes there….
To: Morgana

 

I think you want to pass the most restrictive law that might be upheld before the Supreme Court. This one is so politically risky that it could lead to serious election losses in 2020. If we could roll back the 19th Amendment, this wouldn’t be a problem. Thing is – women can vote, and they tend to vote against politicians who want to ban abortion.

7 posted on 5/16/2019, 3:06:23 AM by Zhang Fei (My dad had a Delta 88. That was a car. It was like driving your living room.)

Otherwise, OK?
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More at the “read more”…

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Today on Tommy T’s Obsession with the Freeperati – Beelzebubba edition

OK, people – a few hundred dollars worth of hardware and labour and the loss of my Windows 7 Professional software later, I’m back online and ready to rock.

Only one subject this morning – Hail Satin!!

IRS recognizes Satanic Temple as ‘church’, grants tax-exempt status

April 26, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – The U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has formally recognized the Satanic Temple as a church, according to a celebratory announcement by the organization and as confirmed by the Associated Press.

On Thursday, the Satanic Temple announced on Instagram that “for the very [first] time in history, a satanic organization has been recognized by the United States federal government as being a church.” The IRS website confirms that the Satanic Temple is now a tax-exempt organization “eligible to receive tax-deductible charitable contributions,” but gives no further details on its status beyond being a “public charity.”

The AP, however, reports that it received a copy of the notice, which classifies the Satanic Temple as a “church or a convention or association of churches.”

The IRS’s decision comes despite the Satanic Temple’s own website all-but acknowledging it isn’t a religion in the traditional sense. The group’s FAQ page explains that it doesn’t believe Satan or other supernatural concepts literally exist, but embraces Satan’s name as a “symbol of the Eternal Rebel in opposition to arbitrary authority.”

It claims to qualify as a religion because it has “deeply held beliefs that we actively advocate,” a “narrative structure by which we contextualize our lives and works,” and a set of symbols and practices that give a “sense of identity, culture, community, and shared values” – a definition of “religion” that could encompass any number of ideological, political, or cultural groupings not traditionally considered to be religions.

“IRS regulations draw a clear distinction between ‘churches’ and other religious organizations,” Catholic News Agency adds. “A church must have certain characteristics, according to IRS requirements, including: a recognized creed and form of worship; distinct ecclesiastical government; formal code of doctrine; ordained ministers selected after completing prescribed courses of study; established places of worship and regular religious services.”

Rolling Stone notes that the Satanic Temple itself has rejected tax-exempt status in the past, but reversed its position in 2017. Temple president Lucien Greaves made the change in protest of President Donald Trump’s moves to protect religious liberty, which Greaves claimed was turning religious groups into a “privileged class” from which Satanists should benefit as well.

“This acknowledgment will help make sure The Satanic Temple has the same access to public spaces as other religious organizations, affirm our standing in court when battling religious discrimination, and enable us to apply for faith-based government grants,” the Temple’s announcement added, meaning the new status is likely to bolster its legal claims in cases such as its placing of Satanic statues in the state capitals of Arkansas and Illinois.

The Daily Caller notes that the new status is “redundant” on the matter of grants, as there currently aren’t any federal grants exclusively available to faith-based groups, and faith-based and secular groups are equally free to compete for grants.

1 posted on 4/26/2019, 4:16:56 PM by ebb tide
This should be good.
To: ebb tide

It will be the official Church of the Democrat(sic) Party.

2 posted on 4/26/2019, 4:22:45 PM by Reverend Wright (TAX the WOKE !)

Projecting just a wee bit, aren’t we?  Democrats by and large favour separation of church and  State.
You know? Like in the Constitution you inbred idiots claim to worship?
.
Maybe you were thinking of Franklin Graham?

To: ebb tide

Leftist, commie, socialist, anarchist, satanic-demokkkRAT bureaucrats; the gov’t is stocked with so many of them, my calculator melted trying to count one agency’s roster.

3 posted on 4/26/2019, 4:23:34 PM by carriage_hill (A society grows great when old men plant trees, in whose shade they know they will never sit.)

Are you sure it wasn’t your alleged brain that melted?
To: ebb tide

The main sacrament of Satanists is abortion

Think about that for a minute

5 posted on 4/26/2019, 4:25:07 PM by Truthoverpower (The guvmint you get is the Trump winning express !)

Nah – the main sacrament is sacrifice of pre-teen children.
.
Or was that ICE’s?
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(I actually have this t-shirt: )
Demons
Rush fanboy YYZ makes a good point here :
To: ebb tide

The IRS already gave the Church of Scientology tax status as a church. The Satanists couldn’t begin to touch that bunch for being evil.

10 posted on 4/26/2019, 4:36:22 PM by -YYZ- (Strong like bull, smart like tractor.)

Of course – this is Free Republic, and Freud never sleeps :
To: Roman_War_Criminal

Sodom and Gomorrah comes to mind.

6 posted on 4/26/2019, 5:25:11 PM by ExTexasRedhead

Come for the sodomy, and come back Gomorrow for more.
To: Roman_War_Criminal

It’s an anti-Christian hate group of atheists.

What’s their religion?

Is the Klan a religion too?

8 posted on 4/26/2019, 5:34:00 PM by a fool in paradise (Denounce DUAC – The Democrats Un-American Activists Committee)

…asking for a friend…
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More satanic majesties at the link below…

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This ISN’T HELPING, Guys

Ugh, division and disagreement are so ugly, why can’t we all just get along on important issues like babies in cages and destroying the world? 

Contempt makes political compromise and progress impossible. It also makes us unhappy as people. According to the American Psychological Association, the feeling of rejection, so often experienced after being treated with contempt, increases anxiety, depression and sadness. It also damages the contemptuous person by stimulating two stress hormones, cortisol and adrenaline. In ways both public and personal, contempt causes us deep harm.

While we are addicted to contempt, we at the same time hate it, just as addicts hate the drugs that are ruining their lives. In an important study of political attitudes, the nonprofit More in Common found in 2018 that 93 percent of Americans say they are tired of how divided we have become as a country. Large majorities say privately that they believe in the importance of compromise, reject the absolutism of the extreme wings of both parties and are not motivated by partisan loyalty.

Our country did not “become” divided. A 24-hour propaganda network for the Republican party told half of us the other half hated them and they were being persecuted and put-upon by, in order, the Clintons, the Obamas, Democrats generally, liberals, women, gay people, people in cities, people who drank Starbucks I think, imaginary communists, and everybody younger than 30.

When liberals tried to say, erm, not really, we don’t actually think about you all that much, we’d just like to have health care, there was an 11-year screaming fit known as the Tea Party that was covered like it was the spontaneous emergence of a new species of humanity hitherto unknown.

Plus a bunch of racism, and Fox News cashed the checks.

This wasn’t a weather system that swept in. Errbody didn’t just wake up one day and say GOLLY GEE WHILLIKERS I FEEL LIKE HATING ON YOU TODAY. Facebook and Twitter have not helped, but if you think this strain of misery didn’t exist before we all started wringing our hands about it, you haven’t been home for Christmas with a bunch of relatives who want to shit on your humanities degree.

That a few liberals, sick and tired of being dumped on constantly, have now started saying HEY QUIT TALKING SHIT is not evidence of a divided country. It’s evidence that you can only kill so many of us (and Reagan and Bush killed quite a few) before we start, you know, objecting.

I mean, all weekend we’ve been hearing about how deranged and hateful CPAC is NOW, as if the 1990s rhetoric around the AIDS crisis was compassionate, or 9/11 wasn’t followed by a wave of hate crimes, or the Civil Rights movement wasn’t greeted with fire hoses and guns. As if Kent State was a peaceable meeting of equal opposites just trying to understand each other. As if Father Coughlin never took up the mic.

We did not “become” divided. Many many more of us just became heard, and this newfound insistence on civility in communication is the response to that, and it doesn’t serve anyone but the wealthy and powerful who “divided” us in the first place.

This is exhausting:

Finally, we should see the contempt around us as what it truly is: an opportunity, not a threat. If you are on social media, on a college campus or in any place other than a cave by yourself, you will be treated with contempt very soon. This is a chance to change at least one heart — yours. Respond with warmheartedness and good humor. You are guaranteed to be happier. If that also affects the contemptuous person (or bystanders), it will be to the good.

It is true that in an argument between me and another middle-class white lady I should keep my temper and smile for the sake of peace in our well-appointed neighborhood where everyone contributes to the block party bake sale. In an argument between two middle-class white college students at debating podiums, certainly, by all means let’s be nice.

But in an argument between a middle-class white lady and the man who thinks she deserves to make a third less than an equivalent male colleague?

In an argument between trans people who want to live their lives and those who want to define them out of existence?

In an argument between a black mother whose son was just shot by police and the city government that covered it up?

In an argument between a Muslim traveler and the authorities who stop him at the airport with no pretext and no explanation?

In an argument between kids who want to live free of war and persecution and people who want them gassed at the border?

I would posit there is not enough contempt for the powerful on the part of the powerless in these conversations. In these situations, where lives are weighed against social comfort, lives should always win. There are worse things than division. There are worse things than conflict. There are worse things than saying mean things on Twitter.

Babies in cages, for example. Death from preventable disease. Schools with holes in the roof. Bullets, bombs and all the other horrible things our need for comfort make possible.

If calling someone who is trying to prevent me and mine from living our lives in peace a monster is divisive, then let division reign along with freedom, forever and ever amen.

A.

We’ve Been Hurting People Forever

It’s so easy to focus on the new terrible things that we forget the old terrible things are still with us: 

Yellowman’s great-great-great grandmother was born on the eastern butte. Family members told him that her cradleboard, a traditional way to carry babies, was made from the pine trees on the butte. In the 1860s, Yellowman said, the U.S. government drove his ancestors from the buttes and later marched them to Fort Sumner, N.M., where they were imprisoned, part of a forced journey known as the Long Walk.

As a boy, Yellowman, who was born on a mesa in the northern part of the Navajo Nation reservation, often traveled with brothers and cousins to Cedar Mesa, a plateau near the base of the buttes, to chop and gather firewood.

He recalled driving past a uranium-ore processing mill one year that a Texas-based company had built on land leased from the Navajo Nation. It left him unsettled, especially as family members who worked in the mill began to fall ill and die. Today, toxic debris from the mill, which closed in the late 1960s, still litters the land.

One of the ways in which Trump’s administration and the GOP by extension are awful is that they take things that have already been fraught — what little land Native Americans can hold to, the experience of transgender people — and make it worse for no reason than to be small and mean. It’s just … mean. I run out of words for everyday atrocities frequently in part because, you know, we have the kids in the concentration camps too, but at the heart of it all is the meanness.

They’re just so damn mean.

A.

It’s Not Okay if He Doesn’t Mean It

Everybody was forwarding the Serwer piece around and it’s excellent, but this is the part I didn’t see anyone talking about yesterday: 

Many of Trump’s defenders argue that his rhetoric is mere shtick—that his attacks, however cruel, aren’t taken 100 percent seriously by his supporters. But to make this argument is to concede that following Trump’s statements to their logical conclusion could lead to violence against his targets, and it is only because most do not take it that way that the political violence committed on Trump’s behalf is as limited as it currently is.

Emphasis mine.

THAT MAKES IT WORSE.

Jesus tits, if he doesn’t really believe this stuff, if he’s using it to sell himself, that doesn’t make it better. If anything, it makes it more contemptible. Sincerely holding racist, anti-Semitic beliefs is abhorrent. But pretending to have those beliefs in order to sell something, that’s an even lower circle of hell. That’s looking at Satan’s spreadsheet, calmly doing the math, and deciding that consigning a few more souls this month will boost quarterly returns by a tenth of a point so really, what difference does it make?

And the position Donald Trump and his GOP enablers are in, their sincerely held beliefs don’t matter. I don’t give a shit if Donald Trump is an anti-Semite or not. I don’t give a shit if he’s really really racist with the four black people he probably personally knows. What I care about is what he says and does. That’s all this is, the presidency. It’s not about his heart. It’s about his actions.

So if he’s barking at passers-by to come see the carnival, don’t really matter if he’s got tickets to the Big Top show himself.

Same thing with this Axios nonsense (rot in hell, news outlet run by guys who opined that Bush could get a do-over for Katrina): Oh, he can’t do that! Does he know he can’t do that? Is he kidding? Is he just throwing red meat to the base (like Democrats do when they, erm, want to teach kids to read)?

IT DOESN’T FUCKING MATTER IF HE KNOWS IT’S BULLSHIT AND SAYS IT ANYWAY. The words he makes with his mouth hole have goddamn consequences and we’re still describing this like it’s the weather or the fireworks or something. Ooooh, look at that! That was a big one!

For years pundits who get paid to know better have been asking if virulently racist conservatives with millions of followers are just joking, and guess what? Even if they were joking, the results would be the same. It’s past time this stopped being an abstract debate. It never should have been one in the first place.

A.

Health and Public Policy

The comments on this piece and on the author’s Twitter have predictably been a total trash fire, and I don’t suggest reading them or the piece if these kinds of things make you crazy, but as someone deeply interested in man-made things we describe as inevitable, this section stuck out at me: 

Still, despite the Task Force’s explicit recommendation of “intensive, multicomponent behavioral counseling” for higher-weight patients, the vast majority of insurance companies and state health care programs define this term to mean just a session or two—exactly the superficial approach that years of research says won’t work. “Health plans refuse to treat this as anything other than a personal problem,” says Chris Gallagher, a policy consultant at the Obesity Action Coalition.

The same scurvy-ish negligence shows up at every level of government. From marketing rules to antitrust regulations to international trade agreements, U.S. policy has created a food system that excels at producing flour, sugar and oil but struggles to deliver nutrients at anywhere near the same scale. The United States spends $1.5 billion on nutrition research every year compared to around $60 billion on drug research. Just 4 percent of agricultural subsidies go to fruits and vegetables. No wonder that the healthiest foods can cost up to eight times more, calorie for calorie, than the unhealthiest—or that the gap gets wider every year.

It’s the same with exercise. The cardiovascular risks of sedentary lifestyles, suburban sprawl and long commutes are well-documented. But rather than help mitigate these risks—and their disproportionate impact on the poor—our institutions have exacerbated them. Only 13 percent of American children walk or bike to school; once they arrive, less than a third of them will take part in a daily gym class. Among adults, the number of workers commuting more than 90 minutes each way grew by more than 15 percent from 2005 to 2016, a predictable outgrowth of America’s underinvestment in public transportation and over-investment in freeways, parking and strip malls. For 40 years, as politicians have told us to eat more vegetables and take the stairs instead of the elevator, they have presided over a country where daily exercise has become a luxury and eating well has become extortionate.

I am, as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, extraordinarily privileged, and I get home at 6 on a good night, put Kick to bed at 8-8:30, and hop on the exercise bike that doubles as a desk because I can either work out or write for an hour and I cannot choose either of those things exclusively.

I work out, after all my back problems, not to get skinny but to keep my muscles and bones from locking up and my nerve pain from reaching debilitating levels. I do yoga while trying to catch an hour of TV with Mr. A or talk in the middle of down-dog about what’s coming up in the week.

My commute is public transport. I take the stairs and can afford to buy salads. I drink a lot of juices and eat bananas and honestly, the only thing that’s gonna lose me 20 pounds at this point is to quit taking my anti-depressants, which will kill me. I mean that quite literally.

So alive with the muffin-top, maintaining a technically “overweight” BMI while eating nowhere near the amount of cake I really want, or dead and a size six, and our culture is so goddamn insane that sometimes I actually wonder.

And some nights, when I get home at 11 p.m. from standing all day at an event or a conference, I cannot face the fucking bike, and I just want some ravioli and a glass of wine and to lay down for a second.

These aren’t all personal choices. This isn’t all “just eat less.” This where we live, what we do, how we get around, and what we grow. This is who gets paid. It’s public goddamn policy and the people screaming in the author’s mentions about “just lose some weight then fatty” are the ones who made fun of Michelle Obama relentlessly for having a White House garden and reminding kids to play outside.

A.

The Three Thousand & Where Power Lies

It doesn’t matter whose fault it is:

He’s a feral animal, of course, who can only see things in terms of how they affect him. You know this and so do I and I think so does he, not that it matters. I’m so tired of spending time in his psyche. Who cares if he’s crazy or evil or crazy-evil; three thousand still died.

And more will, and more. When this was all going down this week I thought of friends who died years after Katrina, after wars, after trauma. Kick and I drove home from a festival Saturday night listening to Springsteen’s concert in New Orleans in ’06, barely seven months after the storm:

And I thought of Ashley, who Adrastos wrote about this week, and Betty, and Morwen, and Greg, and all the people who died later, much later, because their lives got ripped to shreds and never quite got put back together, because everything that happens to you wears you down a little more, because it’s hard to tell when all the threads are woven together which one will unravel you when it’s pulled.

These things have long tails, have a half-life and you can’t just say the waters receded and then everything was all right again. More will die in Puerto Rico. More will die on the Carolina coast. More will die every day and the point isn’t how many, when. The point is we could have stopped it, and helped, and didn’t.

That’s all that matters to the three thousand.

The story in Puerto Rico, it matters less who’s to blame for it than who’s supposed to handle it. Yelling at Trump isn’t about finding someone to blame. It’s about getting someone to DO THINGS. Like okay, the bottled water isn’t getting where it should go, SO FIX IT ALREADY.

Government is, six days of the year, an actual job and not just cutting ribbons on new supermarkets and shit. I thought Trump was supposed to be this colossus. I thought he was this great legendary thing, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound and overcome ordinary obstacles with his giant business penis or whatever the hell he was on about during the campaign.

“I alone can fix it” is a promise you’d best be prepared to make real, time comes.

The three thousand people who died in Puerto Rico don’t care if Trump is to blame or not. If he saved them, they’d just be glad to be alive. And we had the capability to save them; this “well, FEMA just drops stuff off, derp derp derp” is horseshit. We can override laws and rules and regulations whenever we feel like it, and there are lots of people at, say, Mar-A-Lago and in Iraq who can attest to those things.

It’s amazing how Trump wants to violate every norm and rule when it’s time to put some money in his bank account, and how Republicans are all WHAT EVEN IS REGULAR ORDER when they want to put the personification of 6-month-old sour cream on the United States Supreme Court, but when there’s bottled water to be distributed in Puerto Rico it’s “well, somebody else was supposed to do this one thing and we were powerless to override that vague convention.” Like just send in the 82nd, you’ve already proved literally nobody is gonna fuck with you.

I mean, even if you grant that we have an imperial presidency and have since around 9/11/01: PUT IT TO USE ALREADY. Unless you just didn’t want to do that, in which case, fucking own it. Admit that you have power where you want to have it, so that we can assess, and make decisions, without somebody throwing a giant tantrum all day long about FAKE NEWS and DEMOCRAT PERFIDY and other shit that doesn’t matter one bit to three thousand dead.

A.