Category Archives: Immoral Values

If “Blazing Saddles” were a Bizarro-land, post-apocalyptic horror film…

ClarkeTrump
(IMDB’s description of “Blazing Saddles” begins with “A corrupt politician hires a black sheriff…” which is all that film and this situation have in common.)

News broke Wednesday that Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke was taking a position in the Homeland Security Department, leaving me to recall a line George Carlin once uttered about Ross Perot’s challenge for the presidency in 1992:
“Just what a nation of idiots needs: A short, loud idiot.”

Coming up with a descriptor for Clarke is like trying to catch a fart and paint it green. It’s also as pleasurable. Many news organizations relied on the tried-and-true adjectives like “controversial” and “polarizing,” while NY Mag reached for “actual fascist.” A vulgar part of me would have gone with “fucktard” while a more journalistic aspect of me would actually settle on “Trumpian.”

And maybe that’s the best indication that this story is true, in spite of a non-denial denial by the office itself that Clarke hasn’t been given a position at Homeland Security.

This guy is 100 percent Trump with a better haircut a worse choice of clothing.

For people lucky enough to not know who he is, David Clarke has “served” (quotes intentional) Milwaukee County for the past 15 years as its sheriff. He was appointed by Gov. Scott McCallum in 2002 to finish a retiring sheriff’s term and then kept on rolling. Clarke has done and said a ridiculous number of incredibly stupid things. Trying to pick and choose some of them is like trying to put together a Rolling Stones Greatest Hits Album: No matter what you pick, there’s another incredible contender that gets left off. Consider a few of these beauties:

 

It’s not just the bombast, the rapid-fire threats and the general lack of decorum that makes the “Trumpian” moniker fit this man. It’s the way in which he has manipulated reality to improve his personal lot in life. While alleged Billionaire Trump paints himself as a champion of the blue-collar working folk, Clarke masquerades as a Democrat. He registers as a member of the Blue Team primarily because Milwaukee is a deep blue sea among the outlying red rural areas of the state.

Clarke has also followed Trump’s lead on issues of safety and security, painting pictures of illegals running roughshod over the citizens of the country. Meanwhile, neither can see the crises he causes in his own proximate area (Trump’s chaotic White House, Clarke’s dungeon-esque jail).

Like Trump, Clarke is nothing like what he portends to be. Everything about him is a blustering con, including his bedazzled, flair-filled uniform, which Army vet Charles Clymer took to task in a series of hysterical tweets.

Perhaps the hardest thing to discuss regarding Clarke, given that this is the third rail of society, is the issue of race. Clarke himself has played both sides of the race card, in one case swapping racial slurs with Mark Lamont Hill of CNN, going as far as to call him a “jigaboo” on Twitter. The Milwaukee chapter of the NAACP has frequently criticized Clarke, with the group’s president noting, “If there was a white sheriff making those statements, they would have demanded his resignation by now.”

This is true: Clarke is essentially part Bull Connor, part bullshit. He’d be the first one to tell a black kid to pull up his pants and that protestors are a bunch of snowflakes and the conservative white folk just eat that shit up.

Or to pull a line from the great movie, “Lean on Me” : “I know why you like Clark. He’s a guard dog. Does your dirty work. Keeps the black folk in line.”

I have never managed to understand how Clarke kept getting reelected as sheriff in my hometown area. After the first term, it was pretty clear he wasn’t a Democrat. After the second term, it was clear he was a bully. Now, it’s clear the man is fucking crazy, so he naturally had to find someone similarly screwed up to hire him.

And as much as I want him out of here, I can’t imagine we’ll be in any better shape with him sharing asshole tips with The Donald.

Bomb the Suburbs

Fucking FINALLY, someone pays attention: 

Trump’s real base, the actual backbone of fascism, isn’t poor and working-class voters, but middle-class and affluent whites. Often self-employed, possessed of a retirement account and a home as a nest egg, this is the stratum taken in by Horatio Alger stories. They can envision playing the market well enough to become the next Trump. They haven’t won “big-league,” but they’ve won enough to be invested in the hierarchy they aspire to climb. If only America were made great again, they could become the haute 
bourgeoisie—the storied “1 percent.”

Trump’s most institutionally entrenched middle-class base includes police and Border Patrol unions, whom he promptly unleashed after his inauguration by allowing them free rein in enforcing his vague but terrifying immigration orders, and by appointing an attorney general who would call off investigations into troubled police departments. As wanton as their human-rights atrocities in the years leading up to the Trump era have been, law-enforcement agents are already making their earlier conduct look like a model of restraint. They are Trump’s most passionate supporters and make concrete his contempt for anyone not white, male, and rich.

I’ve been yelling about this for at least five years.

Source.

During the 2011 Wisconsin gubernatorial recall, the reddest parts of the state, which went the hardest for Walker, weren’t purely rural. They were the white-flight suburbs of Milwaukee. People there moved out of the city and nurtured in themselves and their children a story about how black and brown people “ruined” “their” neighborhoods. The city was a shithole out of which they’d been driven, and they were going to get their revenge.

National treasure Heather Havrilesky got at this right after the election when the national press was still jerking itself off about Hillbilly Elegy, about suburban discomfort and the need to conform:

In the suburbs the constant fear is “safety.” I recently sat at a suburban lunch table and listened to three women my own age talk for an hour about how to keep their purses safe during pre-school dropoff. Somebody knew somebody who’d heard something on the radio about men doing smash-and-grab with purses out of minivans and this was a federal case now. The preschool should have security cameras. Here’s my brand of car alarm.

(Just don’t leave your purse in your car, then. Don’t be an idiot. Why are we still talking about this?)

A group of moms at a playground recently devolved into talking about the lack of indoor playspaces nearby. I mentioned one, in a predominantly Hispanic suburb, which was bright and open and always had plenty of room for more kids. “That neighborhood is so sketchy,” one of the women told me. Had she been there? Of course not, her husband would never allow it! Everybody nodded; the world was dangerous and you had to protect yourself! It’s just awful about things these days. People are so goddamned scared.

Local TV news feeds this phenomenon, and the local suburban press as well. The city is always a cesspool of black and brown criminals, homeless, needy, looking to carjack you the minute you go downtown for a play. People always want to take what’s yours. If you’re from the city, you left because you HAD TO move away to protect yourself (and your children, the ready-made excuse for your racist crap) and that sense of being driven out by outside forces (black outside forces; unscrupulous real estate agents, not so much) informs everything around you now. You moved to be safe, but you don’t feel safe because now you’ve let fear control you and once is all it takes.

If you know anything about inherited trauma, you know what you tell your children about why you live where you live. People my age didn’t flee African-Americans marching for open housing but they damn well know why their parents and grandparents did, and among themselves, after a couple of beers, they’ll tell you they know how to keep everything under control.

From the Nation article:

Their material security bound up in the value of their real-estate assets, suburban white people had powerful incentives to keep their neighborhoods white. Just by their very proximity, black people would make their neighborhoods less desirable to future white home-buyers, thereby depreciating the value of the location. Location being the first rule of real estate, suburban homeowners nurtured racist attitudes, while deluding themselves that they weren’t excluding black people for reasons beyond their pocketbooks.

So the people who support Trump the hardest? The people who backed him with their donations and lawn signs and votes? They’re not trailer trash. They’re worse, and it’s because they think they’re better.

They think they’re better than trailer trash because they don’t use the n-word (as they stake a BLUE LIVES MATTER or a WE BACK THE BADGE sign into their lawns and ask why “minorities” have to make everything about race). They’d never tell a Hispanic woman to go back to “her” country if they saw her in the grocery store, but the next time they’re two glasses into the rosé at book club they’ll wonder if she was talking about them when she was speaking Spanish, and declare that immigrants don’t have to learn English anymore.

They’re not going to yell at a woman on the street to make them a sandwich. They will, however, tell a woman with a job that it’s too bad she can’t stay home with her kids, and say they’d never let “a stranger” take care of their children. They’ll put a bumper sticker on their cars: It’s a child, not a choice, or Defund Planned Parenthood, but they’re not bigots or sexists themselves.

They think their fear is more valid than the racism of some Confederate Flag-waving jackhole with a white truck and brown teeth. They think it’s more virtuous to be scared than to be evil. And if they ever do start to wonder if they might be monsters, if they might be on the wrong side of something, well, they have the trailer trash to look at and say, we’re not that. We have one ass instead of two, and nobody in our family’s in jail for making meth.

Dad worked in an office, not a coal mine. We’re better than them. We just vote for the same people, over and over, no matter what, and if we tell ourselves we have a different reason, maybe it buys us out of hell.

A.

You’ve got to remember your NAME

Reek, my name is reek: 

Fair attack: the bill strips millions of coverage: Unfair attack: It was written by white men in suits and they rejoice at hurting the poor

Yes. The most important thing in the world is to be fair.

We mustn’t unfairly attack this bill, or its authors.

We must strive to be dispassionate. We must consider each line of argument coolly and with great deliberation.

Fairness, after all, is the most critical aspect of health care policy debate.

It’s more important than the facts of the bill.

It’s more important than the motivations of its authors.

It’s more important than health care itself, is fairness.

More important than chemo.

More important than a newborn baby’s incubator.

More important than Grandma’s new hip.

It’s more important than antibiotics for strep, stitching up Dad after he fell that time, putting a cast on Cousin Billy’s arm. It’s more important than removing Aunt Sally’s tumor. Certainly far more important than anyone’s little sister’s brain surgery.

We must be fair.

We shouldn’t call the authors of the American Health Care Act evil. Just because they aim to strip insurance coverage from millions, just because they shook off concerns from veterans and grandparents like so much rainwater, just because they THREW A FUCKING PARTY to celebrate eliminating regulations to require pre-existing condition coverage, we shouldn’t call them evil.

That’s not fair.

And our fairness, the appropriateness of our tone, trumps any action by anyone else.

They can act with impunity. We must police every word we say.

We must greet our murderers with gentle words, tea, and supplications for permission to critique their destruction of our society. Anything more strident invalidates our point. We must be quiet and calm at all times.

They’ll still kill us, of course, but at least we’ll have been FAIR.

A.

I’m About to Be Uninsurable

Kick has started to ask questions about books.

We read a book about Ada Byron Lovelace and she asks WHY Ada loved numbers as a child, why she couldn’t walk. We read a book about a panda that refuses to give people donuts and she asks why he’s being so mean.

She used to just sit and absorb everything I read to her. Now she follows the plot, notices if I skip pages (screw you, Wheedle on the Needle, you are twice as long as you need to be) and wants every word defined.

The other night, we read Madeline. She asked what a scar is. I told her a scar is a mark from when you were hurt, or when something was wrong and doctors had to help you. And I showed her one of the scars from the surgeries I had while trying to have her. It’s a small raised spot now, barely noticeable.

I had two surgeries trying to have her, surgeries to scrape out benign tumors in the uterus. The second was minor, laparoscopic, left only small marks. The first was major, and necessitated that when I did give birth, it was via C-section.

I said throughout my pregnancy that I was happy about the C-section, as it meant I could schedule my German child and have her born precisely when I wanted her to be. I’d heard recovery could be simpler than from a vaginal birth with complications, and I got to skip the birthing classes, so I wasn’t going to insist as some women do when their doctors recommend the procedure. I’m lazy. I get to lie down while the doctor does all the work? OKAY.

I didn’t consider this as an outcome: 

Dr. Horvath-Cosper says that, by letting states decide on their own essential benefits lists, women could be disproportionately targeted as having pre-existing conditions. “Back in 2010, it was legal in several states to deny somebody coverage because they were a domestic abuse survivor. That was considered a pre-existing condition,” she said. So was having had a C-section. “Most of the people who have C-sections identify as women, so that’s a shorthand for a gender discriminatory policy.”

Many others have said what I could say here, that being alive is a pre-existing condition, that this bill is monstrous to families with developmentally disabled children and to people with cancer and to the poor, that Republicans haven’t read it and don’t intend to and only care about delivering a win that allows them to shit all over the former occupant of the Oval Office, who happened to be black. These things are all true, and the GOP should rot in hell if this passes. Decent people should spit on them on the street.

And don’t give me that it’ll die in the Senate. That isn’t the point. The point is that this is what they’re saying about who we are and what we want. And what we want is to be mean, and small, and angry at everybody who is sick or needs help.

The way during the last election we wanted to be mean and small and angry at everybody who wasn’t white, wasn’t rich, wasn’t just like “us.” The way we all seem to be on every level of government right now. Fend for yourselves, everyone, there’s nothing we can do for you.

“That’s a scar,” I said to Kick, taking her small fingers and helping her trace the mark just inside my left hipbone. “A doctor had to make a cut there.”

“Why?”

“To make Mama better so she could have you in her tummy.”

She accepted this without question, thank goodness, and snuggled back into the story about a little girl who needs her appendix out and spends 10 days in the hospital afterward.

Thank God Madeline is French.

If she was American she’d have a pre-existing condition now.

A.

Americans Can’t Have Nice Health Care

So the clear solution is to make them realize how stupid they are for wanting it! 

Additionally, neither the DemocratsObamacare nor the Republicans’ Trumpcare can truly meet the unrealistic expectations of the American public. The public has four major expectations, which are inherently mutually incompatible.

The public wants: (1) freedom to choose doctor and hospital; (2) the latest modern, state-of-the-art technology in diagnostic equipment and medical and surgical treatments; (3) no delay in appointments and treatments; and (4) minimal (or at least, reasonable) cost. People can have two, perhaps three, but in no way can they have all four. That is the reality.

Because this is the weather. It occurred naturally. Our health care system is not man-made, and therefore cannot be changed except here and there around the edges. We can’t actually make anything better.

Also, allow me to introduce you to the world we live in now, in which appointments and treatments ARE routinely delayed even if you have Cadillac insurance, and lots of places have one busted-ass hospital or none at all. If you’re a woman who needs reproductive care, you already have to drive for miles, go out of state, or get legit procedures refused because of said hospitals’ conscience clauses. Walgreens and CVS have eaten every family pharmacy, religious ownership of health care is its own clusterfuck, and your doctor’s office parking lot during flu season is like the Hunger Games.

THAT is the reality.

Neither political party wants to tell the truth, that health care costs keep skyrocketing, fueled by new diagnostic and therapeutic modalities. For example, many of those drugs are heavily advertised on TV, such as the Xeljanz arthritis drug at about $50,000 per year. Then there is the Harvoni or Sovaldi drug to treat hepatitis C, with one $1,000 pill per day for 84 days. Think of that cost, $84,000 times 3 million people.

Which is why fuck those companies, because unless those drugs are made out of fairy wings and blue diamonds, ain’t no way they actually cost that much. Stop confusing “this drug is expensive” with “this drug’s company wanted to charge a bucket of money for it.”

This is not an argument not to change things. This is an argument to nationalize the entire health care system from drugs to delivery rooms, prohibit prescription drug advertising on TV, and put people who are grifting off the illnesses of others into goddamn federal prison.

Even with negotiated lower costs, exotic, high-tech treatments will still be financially ruinous. Also, with people living longer than ever before, they are seeing more degenerative diseases (vascular, cancer, mobility), all of which take an increasing toll. We are seeing more complex multiple system diseases, many with prolonged recovery times. No wonder costs are sailing out of sight.

Just die. It’s cheaper.

I often analogize that the federal government could require an automobile to protect all passengers in an up-to-120 mph crash. We do have the technology to do it, but the cost of your basic low-priced car would probably be over $100,000. There is a cost and a benefit to everything, and medical care is no different.

Yet how seldom we hear this argument when it comes to a national defense. It’s almost like there ARE unlimited funds for some things, if we value them highly enough.

Since there is not an unlimited amount of dollars available, whether by individuals, private insurance or government programs, there have to be rational ways to decide how and where to get the most bang for the buck, and frankly, the political parties and the public must get real as to what is possible.

Perhaps we should begin classifying people by their projected recovery and usefulness to society thereafter, so as to decide who deserves medicine. In the entirety of human history that’s never gone wrong.

The best cost control is when there is a direct relationship between buyer and seller. Perhaps, for outpatient services, we should do what some European countries do — the patient pays the doctor directly, then he turns the receipt into his or her health insurance plan for reimbursement. This puts a great restraint on doctors running up the tab because they have to look the patient directly in the eye.

If you think a doctor has never lied to a patient, you might want to meet this bunch of guys in Tuskegee, Alabama. They all have syphilis for some reason. Maybe you can explain it to them.

But the way it works in our country, the patient never sees the bill, and it becomes a game between the doctor and the insurance carrier.

I will grant that when I ask my doctor how much something will cost, he acts like money is a disgusting sex act and he can’t believe I’m uncouth enough to bring it up in church. HOWEVER, the idea that patients don’t see a bill is high-larious, considering how many medical bankruptcies result among the insured.

Also, although there is no constitutional mandate to provide medical care; perhaps economic reality dictates that the government could provide a basic Volkswagen plan for everyone, and if individuals want to purchase a Buick or Cadillac level of care, then that should be their right to do so.

This would literally be Obamacare if Republican governors hadn’t decided to fuck the program in the hopes of blaming a black dude in order to win elections. But you keep going.

Bottom line: We as a nation, can no longer provide an unlimited social goody list without making sure these desires are on an actuarially sound basis.

Oh, go crowdfund your cancer treatment. I’m sure the market will make the best possible decision as to your actuarial soundness. YOU ARE MAKING AN ARGUMENT FOR DEATH PANELS.

The days of counting on an ever-increasing number of young workers, in high-paying largely manufacturing jobs, to fund seniors’ health care and retirement are over.

Amazing how this seemed to end right around the time the Baby Boom started racking up the bills.

At last, we must recognize, that just as a family needs to be realistic about finances, our federal and state governments must be, too.

Okay, so we’ll take our two unwinnable wars and all our tax cuts and cancel that shit so we can pay for Becky down the street to get a pelvic exam. Why is fucking over poor people always the answer? Why is “a well-child visit for a low-income family” always the hill we gotta die on? We can afford all kinds of stuff. We just hate admitting what we want to afford, so we say we can’t afford it and we get ALL KINDS OF MAD when someone points out that actually, what utter crap.

The people who will relentlessly police the shopping carts of the poor and crab all day about how much soda they buy never really do catch on that government shops pretty shitty, too, and should forgo a few T-bones in favor of paying for chemo. Maybe the government could sell some of its bling.

A.

Fuck Penn State and All Its Works

There’s no proof of the thing we’re only talking about because there was TONS OF PROOF: 

Penn State trustee Albert L. Lord said he is “running out of sympathy” for the “so-called” victims of former Nittany Lions assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, according to an email sent to The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Lord, a former CEO of student loan company Sallie Mae, also defended Graham Spanier, the dismissed Penn State president who was convicted of one count of child endangerment last week for his handling of complaints about Sandusky.

“Running out of sympathy for 35 yr old, so-called victims with 7 digit net worth,” Lord said in the email sent Saturday. “Do not understand why they were so prominent in trial. As you learned, Graham Spanier never knew Sandusky abused anyone.”

Do you know how hard it is to prove criminal negligence? A career prosecutor I knew explained it to me once, fed up with my bitching that he should be throwing every rape-enabling bishop in jail. You basically have to have a letter signed by the person in charge saying we acknowledge the criminal in question was raping kids, we knew there was a likely chance he’d rape more kids if we did nothing, and we just didn’t care that much.

WHICH IS WHAT GRAHAM SPANIER WROTE: 

The emails were between then-PSU Prez Graham Spanier and two other officials who already are charged with perjury in the case, former athletic Tim Curley and former senior VP Gary Schultz.

NBC reported the PSU brass decided it would be “humane” not to tell law enforcement about a 2001 incident involving Sandusky’s alleged sexual abuse of a boy in a football locker room shower.

Actual convictions on charges like this are incredibly rare. You have to be incredibly bad at incredibly awful things for people to forgo the usual “well, I don’t know how I would have acted in that case if it was my friend” bullshit and head straight to “Oh my GOD, what were you thinking?” This is like seeing a fire start, realizing it’s going to burn down your house, shrugging and going out for 10-cent-wing night.

And this trustee jackhole doesn’t have sympathy? Good thing that’s not now the legal system works. Your sympathy doesn’t mean jack shit, you ambulatory butthole. The law don’t care. The law says KIDS WHO GOT RAPED come before clueless fucks like you every time.

A.

King Of The Bigots

Our old “friend” Congressman Steve King of Iowa used to claim that he wasn’t a racist. Now that white ethno nationalism is fashionable among the deplorables, those days are gone, gone, gone:

Guess who applauded King:

The Wilders mentioned by King is far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders whose ironically named Party for Freedom is running first in the polls in that nation’s upcoming election. A headline in the “failing” NYT captures the horror of what’s happening in the Netherlands: How The Dutch Stopped Being Decent and Dull. I’d like to throw another D word in the mix: depressing.

The good news is that, thanks to Holland’s multi-party system, Wilders is unlikely to be the next Prime Minister BUT his party has gone from being cranks to contenders. That’s bad news for those of us who have admired the Dutch for their political common sense and cultural tolerance. The French presidential election is next up and Marine LePen may lead in the first round. The conventional wisdom is that her opponents will unite against her as they did against her father in 2002 but the CW has taken a beating in the last few years. Stay tuned: if France leaves the EU, it’s as dead as the Weimar Republic.

Back to Steve King. The Iowa cornholer is standing by his statements. It’s now safe in certain circles for an elected official to sound like David Duke, Richard Spencer, and Geert Wilders. King was on CNN this morning and went into a rhapsody about his horrendous views:

“I’ve been to Europe and I’ve spoken on this issue and I’ve said the same thing as far as ten years ago to the German people and to any population of people that is a declining population that isn’t willing to have enough babies to reproduce themselves. And I’ve said to them, you can’t rebuild your civilization with somebody else’s babies,” King said on CNN. “You’ve got to keep your birth rate up and that you need to teach your children your values.”

There you have it, we’re not “making” enough babies. It’s what happens when women get uppity and think they can do other things and not just be baby factories as in The Handmaid’s Tale. There’s a new teevee version of Margaret Atwood’s dystopian classic and it couldn’t be timelier. Make sure you read Ms. Atwood’s essay about The Handmaid’s Tale continuing relevance in the “failing” NYT.

In addition to supporting the King of Bigots, the erstwhile Gret Stet Fuhrer is bragging about his own fertility. Duke only has two kids whereas his role model Joseph Goebbels had six. Of course, he murdered his children in 1945. Some hero. Some role model.

Remember when mainstream conservatives ran away from David Dukkke? Now they sound just like him: Steve King is merely a canary in the coal mine. That’s life in the 21st Century, which is starting to feel like the 1930’s with memes. The Guardian’s Jonathan Freedland recently had a great deal to say about that, so I’ll give him the last word:

If there’s a common thread linking 21st-century European nationalists to each other and to Trump, it is a similar, shared contempt for the structures that have bound together, and restrained, the principal world powers since the last war. Naturally, Le Pen and Wilders want to follow the Brexit lead and leave, or else break up, the EU. And, no less naturally, Trump supports them – as well as regarding Nato as “obsolete” and the UN as an encumbrance to US power (even if his subordinates rush to foreign capitals to say the opposite).

For historians of the period, the 1930s are always worthy of study because the decade proves that systems – including democratic republics – which had seemed solid and robust can collapse. That fate is possible, even in advanced, sophisticated societies. The warning never gets old.

But when we contemplate our forebears from eight decades ago, we should recall one crucial advantage we have over them. We have what they lacked. We have the memory of the 1930s. We can learn the period’s lessons and avoid its mistakes. Of course, cheap comparisons coarsen our collective conversation. But having a keen ear tuned to the echoes of a past that brought such horror? That is not just our right. It is surely our duty.

Alms for the Poor

Seriously, why is this a thing?

Here is a short list of things I give more of a shit about than I do the grocery cart contents of poor people:

Oscar dresses (red lace whyyy).

The Remy Ma/Nicki Minaj feud.

How long a Diet Coke lasts before it goes bad.

The names of Kick’s stuffed dinosaurs and their goings-on when we are not home.

What my sister ate for lunch yesterday.

Putting my clothes in seasonal order.

The identities of our past neighbors’ boyfriends.

Winners of various reality TV shows (Shirley was ROBBED on Top Chef).

How toenails can grow at different rates despite being on the same foot.

These are all things I care about more than I care about what the person in front of me who is using a benefit card to buy groceries is buying. They’re buying caviar and a bottle of ketchup? Whatevs. They’re buying nothing but wholesome foods in bulk? Okay. I once checked out of my local bodega with two bottles of whiskey, a tub of guac and baby-bottle nipples, who the fuck am I to judge? I do not GET this. Don’t we have other things to do?

Do people who are fascinated with this stuff need a hobby? I’d like them to come help me re-organize the cabinet in which we keep Kick’s art supplies. That is becoming a six month project. That would occupy their minds so that they don’t have to think about po’ folks buying Skittles. Or Chewy Sprees. Have you guys ever had Chewy Sprees? They’re AMAZING.

Why do I need to know what brand of juice box the poor family one house over is getting? Because I paid six cents into it with my taxes? I paid for fucking Donald Trump’s election with my taxes, too, and I have no earthly idea what the fuck is going on there, either. If my intimate knowledge of somebody’s grocery cart is required because I paid for it, can someone please explain this Russia shit to me like I’m a stupid person?

The people who get het up about this sort of thing, don’t these people have Netflix? I still haven’t seen Stranger Things, and I want to watch all the movies in which Michael Fassbender takes off his clothes, and there are apparently lots of those. I need to figure out if not caring at all about The Crown is some kind of moral failing. I have six books to read and one of them uses the word “puss” like a Midwestern version of “pussy,” is that a thing?

And can we get back to how it is possible to fuck up Best Picture when it is like literally your only job all year long, to get one event right?

God.

A.

Dear CMU Republicans, Hitler was never fucking funny.

Oh for fuck’s sake:

A Central Michigan University registered student organization apologized via social media late Wednesday night after an anti-Semitic Valentine’s Day card apparently handed out by a member of the group sparked anger among students and community members.
The Valentine features a photo of Adolph Hitler on the front and the words, “My love 4 u burns like 6,000 Jews,” and is signed “XOXO, Courtney.”

I’m waiting for Sean Duffy to find the “good things” that came out of this whole Holocaust deal, now that it’s clear we can always find a silver lining in whatever stupid shit people on your team do.

A rally against hate came out after this hit the fan at CMU, and it’s good that people get loud enough to let assholes know that this kind of behavior isn’t acceptable. That said, who the fuck thought this was a good idea in the first place? Someone actively went about building this stupid valentine and made sure to place multiple copies into the bags of students who were getting them. And of course, I’m sure, they thought it was hysterical because, hey, nobody THEY know ever got shoved in an oven or gassed in a shower. I mean, can’t we all get past this?

When I was in fifth grade, we had a Holocaust speaker and I will never forget some of the stories he told us about death and hopelessness. I can still see his gnarled, age-spotted hands in my mind’s eye as he pointed to the ceiling during a story of how he watched a man hang himself from the rafters with a belt and did nothing to stop him. It was survival, he explained, and we didn’t have the luxury of worrying about people we knew but for whom we had no direct responsibility.

He came back and spoke to us one more time a few years later. During that time, there were many people who still could speak but chose not to. People who hid their tattoos and spoke about such things only in hushed tones or drunken despair. As the years went by, however, there were fewer and fewer people who could speak from a first-person perspective on what had happened.

When I wrote for the local paper, I met a woman who escaped from Germany before the Holocaust. She married a man later who survived Bergen-Belsen and she told me the horrors he experienced. Until the day he died, he slept motionless, with his arms crossed, because that’s how he was forced to sleep in the camps.

At each institution I taught, whenever a speaker on this topic visited, I actively encouraged my students to attend. I explained that it would be horrifying and painful, but that it was something that they MUST experience in life if they are to understand basic human decency and dignity. To understand how those places existed and took so much from so many for such a stupid fucking reason was to understand the dark side of humankind.

I have to admit, I’m sure I said and did a lot of shit stupid things when I was that age. I’m sure I didn’t sidestep every gay joke or correct every negative stereotype associated with race or gender. I’m positive that I am fortunate as hell that social media didn’t exist back then, or else, God alone knows what might have come rolling out today about me. However, stupid though I was, I knew there were very clearly some things that were way the fuck out of bounds.

Hitler is NOT a meme or the ace in the hole you drop when you want to win an argument. He was the central gear in a movement that showed us how deep the rabbit hole really is and how dark night can be. He is not a colloquialism.

Neither is rape, as in “That math test totally raped me.”

Neither is gay,  as in “He’s so gay over his new truck.”

Neither are a dozen other terms that take life-altering events and turns them into euphemisms for casual conversation.

The thing that makes it easier for us to course-correct some of these fuckups is to have actual, live examples of those things that show up in everyone’s faces and say, “Really? The math test slipped something in your drink, took you to an apartment and told you to relax as it ripped off your clothes and forced itself into you repeatedly as you were too incapacitated to move, scream or fight, leaving you with a lifetime of physical, mental and emotional scars? It did all that?”

Unfortunately, we keep losing those people who can explain what life was like living six inches from death for years at a time because of the whims of a madman. And because time erodes direct contact and immediate understanding, we get the Hitler Valentine and someone who thinks it’s fucking funny.

Defending a Nazi Won’t Get You Into Free Speech Heaven

Angus Johnston, who you should be reading if you are not:

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Here’s why I’m not defending them.

I don’t care about them.

And I think most of the people who do, with the exception of true, TRUE civil libertarians like the fucking saints at the ACLU, are just showing off.

Here’s my problem with wanking all day on Twitter about if we should punch Nazis or not, if Milo should be allowed to yell incoherently and incite mobs to attack trans students on university campuses and whatever: I almost never see the “defend to the death your right to say it” absolutism being preached by anybody who’s not a straight white comfortable dude.

I would respect the argument that we should let Milo yell his yelling if that argument came from a trans student in actual physical danger from Milo’s idiot army. I would respect the argument that we shouldn’t punch Nazis if the argument came from someone who the Nazi thought was subhuman. If people who are gay, trans, Muslim, minority, poor, want to tell me that they will get in the street to support the right of total assholes to exhort others to exterminate them, then hand me a damn sign and show me where the pro-Nazi protest is.

What I will not listen to is one more person with zero skin in the game deploring the tone in the room.

Because that’s always what it comes down to, from the Internet Constitutional Lawyers who scold everyone else for applauding a protest that shut someone down. Some airy, detached examination of “the real issue” which is, naturally, the speaker’s making himself sound superior to those who get all uncouth and het up about their impending deaths in gas chambers.

It’s not that I don’t see the opportunity for academic debate, mind. Or for study. It’s that I don’t actually give a fuck right now about being scolded, not by people who are not in any kind of danger.

“Well, what would you say if it was YOUR campus homophobe protest that was being shut down, HUH? HUH!?” I would say the grown-ups are talking right now, hie your whitebread ass head to some sophomore college coffeehouse and see if the kids there will tolerate your snide shit because no one here cares.

A.

You Can’t Argue with the Need to Perform

A story in a bunch of tweets from last week:

I keep seeing all these bewildered reactions whenever some massive Trump scandal or screwup or conspiracy is exposed. Why doesn’t this “stick?” Why doesn’t this change anyone’s mind? He’s going to let Paul Ryan gut their Medicare. Why doesn’t that matter? He’s hiring the entirety of the financial crisis and letting it run the economy. Why aren’t Trump voters feeling betrayed? Why isn’t THIS or THIS or THIS the breaking point for anyone who voted for him? Because none of that interferes with the central reason they voted for him. They keep telling you. They voted for him to give a big middle finger to women, black people, libtards, intellectuals, bureaucrats, feminazis, protesters, immigrants legal and otherwise, politicians generally and anything else that bugged them.

And he may be betraying every campaign promise but he’s not breaking the only one they cared about: The one to make them feel like they mattered again.

It’s performative. It’s the entire Republican thing, from before George W. Bush probably, and we keep wanting to make it make sense. Performances don’t make sense. You can’t argue me out of putting green and gold on and tromping up the stairs to Lambeau in 13 degree weather to watch my quarterback throw four interceptions while his receivers treat every oncoming football like it’s made out of bees. You can’t do it. I want to be a Packer fan. These people want to be FOR TRUMP.

And FOR TRUMP means they get to feel powerful. FOR TRUMP means they get to bully right back. FOR TRUMP means they get to tell their liberal sister-in-law that she’s a stupid bitch. FOR TRUMP means instead of respecting a black or brown person, they get to call that person names. FOR TRUMP means they get to turn off that nagging instinct, nurtured by the churches they say mean so much to them, that maybe they should help the big scary world that’s burning down outside their windows. FOR TRUMP means they get to feel like being mad is enough.

(Do some of them have genuine economic problems that could have been addressed by Democratic policies had Democrats not been sucking off every investment banker they saw? OF COURSE. That doesn’t address the reflexive FUCK YOU that is the response to anything Trump does now.)

It’s part and parcel of the performative aspect of politics generally. Try telling a movement pro-lifer that the best way to raise abortion rates is to outlaw abortion. They’re not going to argue the facts with you. They’re going to BE AGAINST abortion. They’re going to wear the T-shirt and they’re going to vote because they want to keep that part of the character they invented and put on like a suit. You can’t talk them out of their clothes, God’s sakes.

We used to say, all us internet grandparents who were around during the early days post-9/11, that this had given a lot of the population the excuse to be the assholes they’d always wanted to be. A lot of the bewilderment from well-meaning white progressives right now is the inability to accept that the simmering anti-lib dad anger, quiet nice-lady racism and selfishness of their parents and their parents’ friends wasn’t all that different from the white supremacists screaming in the street. When you get right down to it, they both always voted the same way. The former might be more dangerous, in the long run.

So what do you DO, a couple of people asked on Twitter. If facts don’t matter and arguments don’t matter and scandals don’t matter, do you just give up on these people? And my immediate reaction was yes, and with a couple of days to think about it I still think, kind of?

Kind of means you start treating them like the addicts they are. They’re high as kites on talk-radio distortions and you don’t sit down with a cokehead and calmly debate the merits of smoking up some pure clean LIFE instead. You get that cokehead into rehab if you can, but for God’s sake you stop giving him money. You stop feeding the beast with empathetic articles and moving to the right on social issues and other useless mollifications that I’m sure many highly paid consultants in DC are advising right now.

You find ways to save the people being hurt by the person all this performance put in power. You rally for the immigrants and you call your congressmen and you write to your senators and you volunteer at the shelter and you do what you can to save as many as you can. That’s where you put your energy. You take care of the person the rage-addicts hurt.

Maybe some of them will come around. When they do, when they get woke, you treat them gently, like newborns to the world of sense, and you give them work to do too. You don’t give them a medal for showing up but you give them a job. The more people have to do, the less time they’ll have to stew on the ways in which the world has wronged them.

And when comes the time to vote again? When that comes around? You make sure you and yours are THERE. Because there are more good people than bad, even if there are more quiet people than loud. You vote this shit down and out, you watch it die, and you move on.

A.

Save One

We are arguing about how much of the house is on fire, with the refugee/immigrant ban. We are arguing closet versus attic versus living room, instead of picking up a damn bucket and putting the fire out:

President Trump and his aides love to cite a small number and a big number in order to minimize the impact of the president’s executive order suspending the visas of citizens of seven countries.

But these figures are incredibly misleading, so let’s go through the math.

Let’s not, because it doesn’t fucking matter. I don’t care if this executive order affected one person.  I don’t care if this hadn’t affected ANYONE yet. In no possible world are any of our laws tested constitutionally based on how many people they affect. That’s not the measurement. That’s not the qualifier. You don’t get to say well, we only screwed over a dozen immigrant kids, so until we get to triple digits we’re cool. That’s not how any of this works.

Our laws were not designed to save as many as possible. Our laws were designed to save us all, and that means saving one. One person. One child. One family. One mother or father or brother or sister. Our laws were designed to weigh us all, one against the other, and say no one of us is worth more than any of the others.

It’s why our presidents, our congressmen, are subject to our laws. It’s why you can bring suit against those holding the highest offices in the land. It’s why you and I can — or should be able to — avail ourselves of the same legal system as someone who got here last week.

And that includes potential terrorists, for all the wingnuts in the cheap seats. I know you all think life is a nonstop episode of 24 and if President Trump doesn’t personally electrode a Syrian dude’s balls in the Roosevelt Room then we’ll all die in a nuclear attack, but a) that is not how anything is going to happen and b) at no point would such a scenario be endangered by said Syrian dude invoking a right to counsel. If Trump is hooking jumper cables to his nethers he’s already figured out that nobody can hear him scream.

Meanwhile, the non-terrorist families that just want to come here, get jobs, spend money at the local Wal-Mart and watch American TV are going to get handcuffed and deported back to the places we explicitly encouraged them to flee, and you’ll pardon me if I don’t want to wait until they’re a certain percentage of travelers or if they’re especially promising at geometry or any of the other bullshit narratives that have sprung up in the past 72 (holy shit, only 72) hours.

They’re human beings, and we are America. Let’s not go through the math.

A.

What You’re Called

I don’t have a nickname. I mean, I have things not my formal name that people call me, ranging from “hey, when am I gonna get that thing you said you’d get me” to “Mama,” but I don’t have a shortened version of my name. Maybe because my parents didn’t give me one, so I grew up using my full name always, and s0 when I was old enough to notice, I didn’t want one.

Mr. A, when we were dating, called me “Allie” once. Once. I told him I didn’t like it, and he stopped.

That’s what I always come back to whenever the OMG POLITICAL CORRECTNESS IS RUINING MY ABILITY TO USE THE WORLD debate starts up again. (Don’t throw the Campus Wymyn’s Center in my face. There are like six of those people, and unlike half of Congress they hurt nobody.) It’s about determining what you want to be called. We ask it a hundred times a day: What’s your name? We abide by what we’re told.

If I don’t want to be called something, and I tell you that, why do you continue to say it? If I say, I prefer you address me as X, why do you say Y? To save yourself the embarrassment of learning? Is your saving face worth more than my name?

To bully? To be mean? I keep reading these stories in which middle class white women who voted for Trump talk about how all the race talk they’ve been hearing makes them uncomfortable and discomfort is the WORST SIN OF ALL TIME and why can’t people just put up and shut up again, now, forever.

Do they not understand how rude they’re being, not calling someone by their name? They’d correct you if you called them Miss and they were married. But correct them that you’re African-American instead of black, Asian instead of Oriental, and suddenly you’re trampling their right to whatever … and I know it’s tiresome taking that argument apart but these are the same types of women who raised you and me to never be rude. Could it possibly be persuasive to talk in terms of politeness? Is that something we might still all understand?

It’s rude not to call someone by their name.

What is your name? Did you choose it? Could you choose it? Has anyone ever tried to call you anything else?

A.

Malaka Of The Week: Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

There’s a lot of malakatude to choose from this week: even more than usual. I decided it was time to be bipartisan and select a Democrat with nutty ideas who is trying to sell-out to the Trumpers.  And that is why Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is malaka of the week.

It’s hard to live up to a famous father, especially one whose candidacy remains one of the great what ifs of American history. That’s the burden RFK Jr. carries and I don’t envy him. For years, he seemed to be fighting the good fight as an environmental lawyer until he got hooked up with the anti-vaxxers. I’ll let Slate’s Susan Matthews explain the connection between his thinking and that of the Insult Comedian with whom he met this week:

This mistrust of expertise fits right in with RFK Jr.’s vaccination theories, which are built around the blatantly false idea that vaccines are unsafe, and the more paranoid idea that there is a conspiracy to cover this up extends from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to elected officials to journalists. My Slate predecessor Laura Helmuth got a full rundown of RFK Jr.’s vaccine theory when he called her to complain about our coverage of his views in 2013, which Slate referred to as “anti-vax,” a label that Kennedy rejected, saying he was “very much pro-vaccine.” Kennedy wrote a book that attempts to connect a component of vaccines to neurodevelopment disorders including autism, called Thimerosal: Let the Science Speak, and regularly attempts to meet with elected officials regarding his concerns.

In Helmuth’s piece, journalist Seth Mnookin succinctly describes Kennedy’s problematic assessment of the CDC: “What he has done is taken concern that there could be a problem as evidence that there was a problem.” This, coincidentally, is why putting Kennedy in charge of a commission on vaccine safety would be so frightening.

That’s right, Kennedy left his meeting with Trump claiming that he would be appointed to some role in investigating the vaccines that he claims not to oppose. Not so fast said Team Trump:

“The President-elect enjoyed his discussion with Robert Kennedy Jr. on a range of issues and appreciates his thoughts and ideas,” Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks said in a statement obtained by CNN. “The President-elect is exploring the possibility of forming a commission on Autism, which affects so many families; however no decisions have been made at this time. The President-elect looks forward to continuing the discussion about all aspects of Autism with many groups and individuals.”

Kennedy and Trump have both pushed the discredited theory that vaccinating children can cause autism, even though the notion of a link between vaccines and autism has been thoroughly discredited by the medical community. Trump has said that he has personally witnessed children who received “massive injections” of vaccines at once develop “horrible autism” as a result, while Kennedy continues to promote the myth that thimerosal, a mercury-based compound once contained in many childhood vaccines, causes autism.

The Kennedy-Trump confab could be called When Fabulists (Fantasists?) Collide. I don’t know who to believe since neither of them is credible. That tends to be the case with zealots and conspiracy buffs. As for Hope Hicks, I’d like to paraphrase something  the late writer Mary McCarthy said during her epic feud with Lillian Hellman: Every word she says [writes] is a lie, including ‘and’ and ‘the’. That goes double for Hicks’ boss and his henchmen and henchwomen. I have a hench y’all agree with me…

Kennedy has gone from denouncing Trump to cozying up to him since they agree about a long discredited study. It’s what zealots and malakas do. And that is why Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is malaka of the week.

 

Today on Tommy T’s Local Yokels – letter of interest

Good people – I’d like to tell you about someone I met yesterday at the Democrats HD65 strategy / committee elections meeting Saturday.

youngsung

His name is Young Sung, and he’s an impressive individual.

MBA, Deacon in his Methodist church, Korean-English translator for dispute resolution, the FBI, and Homeland Security. One of the mainstays behind development of the incredibly successful “H Mart” here in Carrollton (our fair city) Tx.

Endorsed by the Carrollton Fire Fighters Association, the Carrollton Police Officers Association, Ron Branson (former Mayor of Carrollton), Becky Miller (former Mayor of Carrollton), and many others, he ran for a seat on the Carrollton City Council last May.

Guess what happened?

He surged in early voting, and the Tea Party incumbent Anthony Wilder’s re-election was in danger.

Then, this was mailed out to Carrollton voters.

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So – gay Korean mosques and temples for everyone!

Woo Hoo!

It gets better, though – please click on the “continue reading” to continue reading.

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It Hurts to Take the Story Apart. Do It Anyway.

There’s a story we’ve been telling ourselves for a long time now, about how democracy works, about how it has to work in order for us all to get up in the morning. It involves how campaigns operate, how elections take place, how power is handed from one person to another and what is done with that power and to whom.

The story’s called America. It’s a few years old now. Maybe you’ve heard it: We are free, and we choose who leads us, and we have chance after chance to make things better. We’re in charge, you and me, for good and ill and sometimes both together.

It’s always been partly fiction. In our finest hours it’s always been a little frayed. But we’ve been able to tell ourselves the story while it’s still more knit than mend.

Can we do that right now?

The Russian state took an interest in our elections and tried to influence them. To what extent, with what effect, and for what purpose, those in power know and aren’t saying.

And over the past couple of days during discussion of that, and discussion of the popular vote imbalance, and discussion of voter suppression in formerly swing states, I’ve been hearing lots of variations on IT’S TOO HARD AND OMG MEEN. That political blowback would be intense for anyone who said hey, hold on, let’s figure this shit out. That we don’t have time between now and the inauguration (I guess there are too many Christmas parties?) and can’t we just put our heads down and power through this?

The vast majority of the GOP, of course, is hedging its bets as they have been since the primaries ended. Maybe this will all die down and they can get back to gutting the social safety net which is what they’re really here for. Maybe Donald Trump will just fuck up normally, like Dan Quayle or something, accidentally hit on a few prime ministers’ wives, do some blow in the Oval, and leave the hard work to them. That was their overarching rationale for endorsing his skeezy ass and they are desperately clinging to it.

It’s gross, of course, like a 15-year-old who still wants to bring his blankie to school, but we always underestimate how attached people are to their security objects.

But Obama and the Democrats? The purported grownups in the GOP in Congress and statehouses who either actively avoided mentioning Trump or flat-out said he was garbage? Those people? I don’t want to hear from THEM how difficult it is to take the story of America apart and put it back together again.

I don’t want to hear about concerns that they’d be perceived as helping Hillary, or that TV commentators would say things in that deep concerned voice they affect, or that frogs would yell shit online. THOSE AREN’T REAL CONSEQUENCES for people who are elected to do a job.

They aren’t elected to serve just to rename official state animals and pass continuing resolutions to hold up how much everything sucks right now. They are elected to fix what is broken even if that something is EVERYTHING.

Things have been breaking down for a while now. Redistricting to weight state legislatures overwhelmingly against Democrats and third parties, ballot initiatives designed to turn out opponents of one candidate or another, tax caps and institutional neglect and voting restrictions, and all of it leading to a campaign in which one candidate won the popular vote by 2.6 million and the other candidate — a racist sex predator — is president.

Things have been breaking down and politicians have been desperately pretending they are okay because, frankly, taking all this apart is hard. It takes time. It takes study and most of all it takes attention we don’t have because the decent public servants are trying to keep their constituents out of hock to the mob.

Which is a deliberate thing also, in case we didn’t have enough to deal with. I get ragey when modern American voters are described as being distracted by TV and video games; the club of the most of us is distracted by the trivial need to EAT, and I can’t imagine the calls district offices get asking for help with the few social programs we have left.

Still. Still and all. There have to be things big enough that we make room for them. The question of foreign interference in an election has got to be one of those things.

Winter breaks can be cancelled. Everybody can work late. We can stop talking about Twitter and we can take out a yellow legal pad and a box of black pens and a box of red pens and we can figure out how to investigate this and, if necessary, prosecute it. It’s not false and it’s not trivial and it’s certainly not too much for us.

We’ve built bigger than this. We can tear this down. We can take this story apart and figure out which parts are true and which are false.

Sack up, hos. Get to work.

A.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Liar

It’s been another weird week in New Orleans. The weather has been yo-yo-ing to and fro. We reluctantly ran the AC on a particularly steamy day and we’re back to the heater right now. The kitties, of course, prefer the latter. So it goes.

There was a lethal shooting last weekend on Bourbon Street. It doesn’t happen that often but when it does the media, city government, and tourism establishment lose their collective minds. This time there are suggestions of metal detectors and limited access. That’s typical NOLA think: propose something that would be simultaneously costly and unenforceable. We live in a country and a state with an armed population and when you add booze and crowds to the mix, violence is not surprising. It’s difficult to prevent an asshole with a concealed weapon from discharging it. That may sound cold and harsh but “to live in this town, you must be tough, tough, tough, tough.” Thus spake Jagger and Richards. She-doo-be.

The mendacity theme here at First Draft continues with this week’s theme songs. That’s right, my obsession with different songs with the same title continues. We begin with Todd Rundgren’s 2004 tune Liar. It’s followed in quick succession by Queen, the Sex Pistols, Argent, and, of all people, Three Dog Night who covered the Argent tune.

I had no idea there were so many songs with liar in the title and that’s the truth. There will be more prevarication after the break, but first I need to find that lying sack of shit that we’ve heard so much about over the years.

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Malaka Of The Week: Konni Burton

A lot of things have fallen through the cracks of my mind lately because of the electoral college disaster. There’s a backlash brewing across the country against the progress that has been made on civil rights issues in recent years. To be more specific, against the remarkable gains made since 2008 on LGBTQ issues. One might even call it a lavender backlash. Yeah, I know, the term is retro but so is the backlash itself. You won’t be surprised to hear that one locus of the backlash is Texas. And that is why Texas State Senator Konni Burton is malaka of the week.

I was blissfully unaware of what was brewing in Austin until a tweet from Tim Peacock hit my timeline, which led me to a post at his blog, Peacock Panache:

As the state legislative session in Texas begins, state Senator Konni Burton (R) just filed legislation that would force schools to out LGBTQ students to their parents. SB242 takes aim at “the right of a child ’s parent to public school records and information concerning the child” on the surface. Under that veneer, however, Burton’s explicit intentions in filing the legislation are clear.

The bill was filed with the intention of subverting rules proposed by the Fort Worth Independent School District aimed at protecting the privacy rights of LGBTQ teens, especially transgender kids. It’s trickier than that so take a deeper dive into Tim Peacock’s piece.

Senator Burton claims that the intent of her bill is to provide parents with information about their children. It is, of course, a smokescreen (Konni job?) as is typical of so much discriminatory legislation. Haters not only have to hate, they have to hide behind family values rhetoric. Burton’s bill will effectively out LBGTQ students and that is what matters, not her increasingly strident disclaimers.

The implications of Malaka Konni’s bill are ominous and clearly stated by Tim Peacock:

As any LGBTQ person can confirm, keeping sexual orientation and gender identity/expression a secret from parents may literally be a matter of life or death. While society has made significant leaps forward in ensuring families with LGBTQ children are at a minimum tolerant, many areas of the and many belief systems still view being LGBTQ as wrong or criminal. Unwittingly outing a LGBTQ child or teenager to his or her parents can have devastating and sometimes lethal consequences.

If a student is transgender the chances of harm based on outing grow exponentially. A 2011 survey found that transgender people attempted to commit suicide at rates over 30 times the general population. And the causation behind that more often than not was discrimination, violence and/or rejection by those close to them.

While suicide is at the far end of the spectrum, LGBTQ students face a myriad of other consequence in having their identities unwittingly exposed to their parents including verbal and physical abuse, homelessness (after being kicked out) and involuntary conversation therapy (a practice condemned by the medical and psychological community though it’s still popular among anti-LGBTQ conservatives).

A quick reminder that Mike Liar Liar Pence On Fire has been a leading advocate of conversion therapy.

I recall reading some articles earlier this year about how our side had won the culture war. Since I live in a blue dot in a deep red state, I’m always skeptical of such claims. In the Gret Stet of Louisiana, socially conservative Catholics have an unholy alliance on such issues with Protestant biblethumpers. Like the people in Texas, we’re always on the lookout for crazy, retrograde legislation from our lege. It’s going to get worse after Trump’s electoral college victory. I eagerly await the backlash to the backlash. Now I’m feeling whiplashed, he said snidely.

I’d never heard of Senator Burton before her attempted Konni job. I hope to rarely hear of her in the future. If the people of Texas are lucky, she’s merely a malakatudinous comet streaking across the sky before crashing and burning. BTW, Burton was elected to replace Wendy Davis in the Texas Senate. That seat has gone from pink sneakers to lavender backlash in two years. And that is why Konni Burton is malaka of the week.

Love at First Spite or, An Offer to Trump Supporters in the Spirit of the Season

In the spirit of the holidays, I have a proposition for our Trump-supporting friends.

Go ahead.

Say it.

Say, “Fuck you.” Say it to my face.

Say it to my liberal, city-dwelling, higher-educated, Democratic-Party-voting, Starbucks-swilling, Whole-Foods-shopping, Heather-Has-Two-Mommies-reading face.

Say it morning, noon and night.

Say it as often as you want. As loud as you want. Say it in front of my husband, my daughter, and all my friends. Say it over and over and over again.

Get it out of your system. So that the rest of us can GO BACK TO WORK.

That’s my present. That’s my gift to you, Trump supporters. That’s my extension of empathy and generosity and understanding, based on everything I’ve heard and everything I’ve read about you since the election.

You see, I understand you have been left behind by the economy. I understand you have been struggling for a while, even before the dot-com boom and bust, before the 2008 crash, before the anemic “recovery” that didn’t help you recover from anything.

But I understand something else, too.

The very smart Kathy Cramer, who I’m proud to have briefly shared an office with at one time, explained it for people who, unlike me, didn’t grow up next door to you: 

Racism is certainly a part of the story when these people make calculations about deservingness and who is or is not working hard. People would talk about opposing social programs because the recipients were lazy and not hardworking like themselves; those were often dog-whistle racist claims. But, at times, they were also talking about the laziness of desk-job white professionals like me.

So racism is a part of this resentment, but we are failing to fully understand these perspectives when we assume that racism is more fundamental than calculations of injustice. The two elements are intertwined. The way these folks described the world to me, their basic concern was that people like them, in places like theirs, were overlooked and disrespected. They were doing what they perceived good Americans ought to do to have the good life. And the good life seemed to be passing them by.

It’s worth noticing that Trump’s appeal to these folks is not about facts or particular policies. It is instead the act of delivering a message that resoundingly resonates with the perspective of someone identifying proudly as a resident of a type of place that the dominant urban society does not care about or respect.

I can’t do much about the location of the state capitals or the legislative schedule. I can’t make people’s representatives listen to them or interact with them, nor can I make people show up to the community meetings their reps might have. I can’t make anyone feel more comfortable in his or her skin any more than I can give anybody a job right now.

But maybe I can do something about the deep, abiding, burning need to tell someone who exemplifies what you hate to go straight to hell.

You want to prove you’re an underdog who tells the libtards who don’t respect you to go straight to hell, people?

You want to give the middle finger to everything that bugs you, including Happy Holidays at Macy’s, someone speaking Spanish on her cell phone at the restaurant, an ethnic scholarship at your high school, a gay storyline in your favorite police procedural?

Do it.

Make that stupid Hillary “KFC” joke ten times. Tell me the story about Michelle Obama putting crack pipes on the Christmas tree at the White House. Talk about how Bill Clinton is the biggest sex offender the world has ever known. Offer your opinion that “we” have “banned” God from “the schools.”

Ooh, call me a babykiller. That one never gets old.

Send me a hundred memes just like this one:

trumpsantajesus

I’ll post them on my Facebook timeline. I’ll nod and agree with anything you say. I’ll feel very, very bad about myself and everything I stand for. I may even cry, if that’s what it takes.

 

I am more than willing to take one for the team.

If.

IF.

In exchange, you vote for health insurance for your sick neighbors. You expand Medicaid for your state’s poorest residents. You don’t fight about food stamps and subsidized housing, in fact, you support them.

In exchange, you vote for punishment for companies that poison your water. You support jury awards of damages for corporations convicted of harm to the environment and the people who live in it.

In exchange, you vote for lowering the Social Security retirement age. You vote for increased funding for public education. You vote for restoring the Voting Rights Act and you vote for expanding it to every state in the union: No one gets to fuck with anyone’s vote without review or check.

You vote for honest-to-God campaign finance reform, and consideration of judicial appointees in a timely manner so that the fucking courts can do their job.

You vote for all that shit, and you can tell me to my face that I’m a lazy liberal who doesn’t understand the real world, and I will agree with you.

You make your life better, you make my life better, you make our country better, and you GET WHAT YOU WANT MORE THAN ANYTHING, which is to say fuck you.

I mean it. I’m sick of people I love suffering because you want to make a statement. Because you want to have feelings about your place in the world. Because deep down you get mad and sad that you are not being given a parade for showing up every day. Because you resent.

I’m offering you a way out. Go ahead.

Take it.

A.

 

The Korematsu Case Revisited

korematsu

I remember very few papers I wrote as a college student. One exception is a paper about the horrific, anti-constitutional internment of the Japanese, including citizens, during World War II. It was an action initiated in panic by a racist Army General but ratified by some distinguished American liberals: President Roosevelt, Attorney General Francis Biddle, Justice Hugo Black, and then California Attorney General Earl Warren. It is a stain on all their memories and on American history. So much so that Congress and President Reagan formally apologized for internment in 1988. That right, Ronald Reagan knew it was wrong. There are ominous signs that the Trumpers do not.

TPM is usually the first political site I look at every morning. One headline was a real eye-opener, the textual equivalent of 2 cups of coffee, Trump Surrogate: Japanese Internment Camps A Precedent For Muslim Registry:

One of Donald Trump surrogate’s claimed Wednesday that the forced internment of Japanese Americans during World War II provided a “precedent” for the next administration creating a registry of Muslims living in the United States.

Carl Higbie, a former Navy SEAL and booster of the President-elect, told Fox News’ Megyn Kelly that such a registry was necessary until “we can identify the true threat” posed by Islamic extremists.

“We have in the past,” Higbie said. “We have done it based on race, we have done it based on religion, we have done it based on region.”

<SNIP>

“It is legal. They say it’ll hold constitutional muster,” Higbie said of the registry. “I know the ACLU is going to challenge us, but I think it’ll pass. And we’ve done it with Iran back a while ago. We did it in World War II with Japanese, which, call it what you will—”

I call it bigotry. That’s what I call it. Targeting a religious minority is also an egregious violation of the First Amendment. I am, however, glad that barking mad Naval Seal mentioned the Bush years. They were not big on the constitution either. It *can* happen here. In fact, it already has.

I have a a few questions. Will the “Muslim registry” apply to citizens? Is this partial payback for Khizr Khan? Trump is capable of such petty vindictiveness, after all. Who’s going to restrain him? Rudy? Kris Kobach? Jared Kushner? Not bloody likely.

Back to the post title. The Supreme Court upheld the Japanese exclusion order in Korematsu v. United States in 1944. Fred Korematsu, an American citizen, was convicted of “violating the civilian exclusion order.” SCOTUS upheld his conviction in an opinion by Justice Hugo Black with three Justices in dissent: Stanley Roberts, Frank Murphy, and Robert Jackson. It was not one of Justice Black’s finest hours but Justice Jackson’s dissent rings true in the wake of the comments by that barking mad Navy Seal:

Korematsu was born on our soil, of parents born in Japan. The Constitution makes him a citizen of the United States by nativity, and a citizen of California by residence. No claim is made that he is not loyal to this country. There is no suggestion that, apart from the matter involved here, he is not law-abiding and well disposed. Korematsu, however, has been convicted of an act not commonly a crime. It consists merely of being present in the state whereof he is a citizen, near the place where he was born, and where all his life he has lived.
<SNIP>
Much is said of the danger to liberty from the Army program for deporting and detaining these citizens of Japanese extraction. But a judicial construction of the due process clause that will sustain this order is a far more subtle blow to liberty than the promulgation of the order itself. A military order, however unconstitutional, is not apt to last longer than the military emergency. Even during that period, a succeeding commander may revoke it all. But once a judicial opinion rationalizes such an order to show that it conforms to the Constitution, or rather rationalizes the Constitution to show that the Constitution sanctions such an order, the Court for all time has validated the principle of racial discrimination in criminal procedure and of transplanting American citizens. The principle then lies about like a loaded weapon, ready for the hand of any authority that can bring forward a plausible claim of an urgent need.

I added the bold face for obvious reasons. Korematsu has been discredited but never overruled. It still “lies about like a loaded weapon.” If the Islamophobes have their way, the chamber will be reloaded with their so-called registry. If that happens, all good people should try their damnedest to sign the thing in solidarity with those being oppressed. What’s next? A Yellow Crescent?