Category Archives: Immoral Values

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 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?

Don’t Talk to Me About Bubbles

I’m going to tell you a story and I swear every single word is true.

I work downtown in Chicago at least two days a week and on at least one of those days I eat lunch at a Vietnamese restaurant right near my office.

This place is owned by a Vietnamese family.

On the menu, which is on the wall, they advertise that some of the food is halal.

They serve Chilean wine.

Yesterday, when I was there, the older and younger cooks were yelling at each other in Spanish over what kind of music they were going to play in the dining room.

The younger cook won. Biggie. Big Poppa.

I’ve read a lot in the past week about how I live in a “liberal bubble.” How I don’t understand the world outside, the concerns of others, different from myself. How I need to do everything from “get out more” to “just move to a red state” to “talk to more people.”

Do you know how often I would LOVE to live in a bubble? When my upstairs neighbors are yelling about the Cubs game or a guy is trying to sell me video games on the street corner or the entire train car is engaged in ignoring-down someone who should really be getting mental health services or even another drink somewhere. (Nobody wants to call the cops, because we don’t want to hurt this guy further.) Do you know how often I think to myself, I’m tired of working this hard to live here?

There is no isolation here. No shield from difference. No ignoring the “other.” I can throw a rock from my house and hit four drug dealers and so can everyone else in my neighborhood.

It’s all in your face, all the time, everything that has led us where we are: Poverty. Inequality. A lack of help. An education system that is broken by racism and meanness about money. Gloriousness. Music. Food. History. Something new to learn every single second. Art in museums and on street corners, books stuffed to the rafters in the libraries.

And people. People people people.

I was at a wedding once in a small town in Kansas and the mother of the bride cornered me in the bathroom and talked about how lucky she was to live where she lived. There was, she said, no real community in the big city.

My next-door neighbor had called the week previous, in hysterics. She was hyperventilating and for a moment I thought something had happened to her son.

There was a dead mouse in her kitchen. She wanted my husband to come get it.

Same neighbor, the week Kick was born, left homemade chili and a supportive note at my front door. The woman who used to live upstairs pet-sat the ferrets and I walked her dog. Mr. A travels for work for weeks at a time and I’m never worried; there are half a dozen people in my building who’d come if I called. There are half a dozen people on the street at any given time: safety in numbers.

Kick was baptized at the church down the block. I’m an inconsistent attendee, but they welcomed us as if I parked in those pews full time. They extended their hands to our new, fragile little family and they blessed us, and I felt it in a way I’ve never felt faith before.

They have a food drive the first weekend of every month. People pile bags of food and envelopes of cash on the altar to feed the hungry.

I understand my way of life isn’t for everybody. Like I said, sometimes I’m not sure it’s for me and mine, not always. But the values that make it worth living are those in every community, large and small, across this country, values the “white working class,” the “small town America,” the “heartland,” instilled in me: Generosity, connection, joy. A profound sense of place, of knowing. A love of God, and of difference. A constant reaching out, over and over and over, in the face of every rebuff, knowing that we are more together than we are apart. Values that were so cruelly betrayed last week.

Don’t tell me I live in a bubble. Don’t tell me I don’t experience difference. It’s at the next desk in my office, talking about teaching kids to read. It’s my Iranian downstairs neighbors playing country music; you really haven’t lived until you’ve heard an elderly Persian woman yelling enthusiastically along with Kenny Chesney.

(And not for nothing, but some of us live in “bubbles” because we couldn’t get work in our red states of origin. I’ve read a lot of commentary in the past week about shallow liberals who just want to eat ethnic food to show off. For some people it’s about eating, period.)

This “bubble” is the wide world, the same one everyone lives in. We are all as isolated as we want to be. If you have three neighbors and you know them, good. If you have three thousand and you know as many of them as you can, good.

Nobody lives in a bubble, not unless they want to.

A.

A fart in church

One of the best parts about writing for this blog is the diversity of thought and experience of the readership. That’s not me blowing smoke. It’s true. I have found that I learned a lot about my own position on this big blue rock from hearing of the positions of others here than I learned anywhere else. Agreement, disagreement, whatever. It comes down to people coming at an idea I have from a variety of angles.

Never more is this true than in the field of religion, where not only do people come from various faiths, but various positions on faith, spirituality, organized religion and other “not for me, but do what you dig” ideologies. So this piece isn’t as much about me offering thought as me asking for the sounding board to bounce thoughts to me.

I spent a dozen years in Catholic school and remain a semi-regular participant in the ritual that is Saturday/Sunday mass. My kid is in Year Six of the schooling and gets more of that at home from my mother-in-law, who spent her whole life as an educator of the faith and a pretty “hardline Catholic” (if such a thing exists). My parents are active in the church back home: Dad’s an usher, Mom does the readings. They still attend the same church they got married in almost 50 years ago.

So that’s the set up for what happened two weeks ago as I took Mom to church on a Saturday afternoon when I was in town for our other religious ritual: The monthly baseball card show.

The new priest we got (we seem to be going through them at a fairly brisk pace) isn’t the world’s most likeable man. He met me for the first time about a month ago and noticed that I had lost a lot of hair as he had at some point in his life. “I like your haircut,” he said as he laughed.

Thanks, Father.

The bigger “problem” is that the man is hearing impaired, which makes him difficult to understand. To that end, he has his own personal deacon who does a lot of the talking for him, including the homily.

For those uninitiated in the faith, a deacon is a layman (all men still. My faith needs to grow up.) who serves as kind of a “caddy” for the priest. I’m sure some of them are decent people, but I’ve yet to meet one. My experience with deacons is that they are power-hungry, self-important assholes who believe that God has chosen them to fill the role. This man is like an Alpha Deacon in that regard. He has created rules that prohibit church members from approaching the altar during certain parts of the mass. He forbids readers to sit up front, which means they have to walk up to do the reading, walk back after the reading and then walk back to do the second reading. All of this makes no sense, as most readers are in their 70s and are lucky to be walking at all.

Above all else, however, this guy has that “presence” about him: Holier-than-thou. Smug. A Chosen One. He also looks like Ben from the Dilbert cartoons.

silverhair

So all of this conspired to let the priest give Deacon Dickhead the mic for the homily at mass two weeks ago.

My mother kind of captured my thoughts on what the homily should be for me: “I go there to feel better,” she said. “I want something that makes me feel inspired or at least like I shouldn’t feel bad about something that is happening in my life.”

I agree. Even if it’s a little more toward the fire-and-brimstone side, it can be helpful and inspiration.

The readings were good ones: Moses holding up his arms with the staff of God helps his people win a battle, but as he grew tired, his arms fell. When his arms fell, the opposition had the better of the battle. Thus, two guys gave him a place to sit and held up his arms for him. The Gospel was similarly about getting by with a little help from your friends. (I don’t complicate my faith, I guess…) Thus, I’m looking forward to a good bit of preaching, even given this guy’s limited capabilities.

Instead, I got a political lesson.

The guy got up there and started talking about the election and how neither candidate was good, but one of them was going to make it easier for people to get abortions and we can’t have that. He told some story about Hillary Clinton not clapping for Mother Theresa. He then told this “real story” about a guy who died:

A guy feels sick and goes to the doctor. He finds out he has a virulent strain of cancer that despite every effort, he can’t overcome.

He dies and meets God. “God,” he says. “Why do we have something horrible like cancer? Why can’t you send us a cure for cancer?”

“My child,” God replies. “I did send you a cure for cancer. But she was aborted because her mother wanted a boy.”

At the end of this horseshit, people broke out in applause.

In church.

During mass.

Did I mention we’re Catholic, where we don’t pretty much get jacked up about anything during church?

I could feel my field of vision narrowing and my head pounding as I saw a woman two pews up clapping like it was a Trump rally. I looked over at my mother who was just silent, so I had a hard time getting a feel from her about this.

When communion came (or as my kid once noted, “That time where you go up and get a cookie from the priest), Deacon Dickhead was running my line. I was torn between three actions:

  1. Stay put, take the thing, don’t embarrass mom
  2. Cut across the aisle to the other line, likely create a small scene, but feel better
  3. Stay put and when he says, “Body of Christ” respond with “Fuck you you fucking fuck” and then take a swing at the guy. Larger scene, but probably worth it once in a lifetime.

I went with the first one because it was my parents’ church and I didn’t want to bring shame on the family. I did the perfectly Catholic thing: I sucked it up and took it. At the end of mass, the priest made a point of complimenting the deacon and people applauded again. I wanted to tell them both to fuck off and die. I remained politely Catholic.

On the way to the car, I began with the “So…” line, only to have my mother start railing against this like she was Regan in “The Exorcist.” Certain words don’t sound natural coming out of the mouth of a 70-year-old woman on her way out of church.

Mom found them all.

It got so bad, she forced my father to avoid that topic of discussion at dinner, a meal that was accompanied by a big jolt of wine.

I spent the rest of that week bitching up a storm in my head. Separation of Church and State. Self-righteous prick. Use open records and FOIA the shit out of everything he ever did and hope he had a sexual rap battle with Ken Bone.

I still don’t know why this is eating at me so much. It’s not like the church ever would be in the “Do what you do, just don’t get any on me” kind of thing when it came to anything sex-based. I never imagined my faith to be OK with life not beginning when a man unhooked the woman’s bra. What is it about this one speech that really pissed me off?

Part of it was the messenger, I’m sure. I dislike people who enjoy talking the talk but have never been forced to walk the walk. I also dislike people who cling to false stereotypes of people that serve as strawmen for their bullshit. I REALLY don’t like bullies and this guy is one of those as well. He’s basically an asshole fondue of everything I hate, so I get that.

Part of it was the venue. When I’m watching a baseball game and I get a commercial for Trump or Ron Johnson or Viagra (all equally helpful in getting old angry white guys hard), I’m not thrilled, but it comes with the territory. I also know that my faith tells me God is supposed to be everywhere, and if you watched the ALCS, you know he’s with me when the Indians are playing. Still, when I’m in His house, I’m not watching commercials on my phone, so I’m thinking I’m safe from this shit.

Maybe there’s another part of me that has allowed me to kind of compartmentalize my faith into areas of agreement and areas I ignore. When I’m forced to confront those things I like to keep in the trunk of the car, it really irritates me. I don’t know.

What I do know is that for all the trouble this faith is having in keeping people engaged, pissing off one of the few people in that joint under the age of 70 isn’t a great idea.

Thus, I leave you with the questions that have bothered me: Is this a big deal? Am I overreacting? What should I do?

Without His Coward Army Trump is Just a TV Buffoon

You know, one observation before we start the crack van.

I don’t know as many guys like Trump — grabby, gross, sexually harassative creeps who think their money entitles them to whoever they want — as I do guys like Billy Bush.

Guys who’d laugh along with the bully, in order to keep the bully’s focus off them. Guys who’d give the bully every impression of agreeing with whatever vile shit the bully spewed forth, to get out of the room without having to stand up for themselves. Guys who WOULD be afraid to tell their wives they voted for Trump, and afraid to tell their friends they voted for Hillary. I know lots of guys like that.

They think of themselves as good guys. They probably are, for the most part. They just don’t want trouble. They don’t want raised voices. They don’t want anybody to be upset out loud. They don’t want to rock the boat. They don’t want to tell the bully he’s a bully, because then the bully might bully them.

That instinct is stronger than whatever love they might have for the women in their lives. That cowardly, passive-aggressive, entirely understandable, weak, HUMAN instinct is stronger than the instinct to defend their wives, daughters, sisters, mothers. It’s stronger than their instinct to defend themselves from being the kind of people who let a bully treat those women poorly. It’s stronger than just about every other impulse of which the human mind and heart are capable.

So they say survivors are making it up. They say everybody talks like that. They laugh along with the rape jokes and every last one of them has a story in his head about how next time, next time they’re going to stand up and say knock it off, asshole, that’s not okay. Every last one of them has a fantasy about socking the bully right in the jaw. None of them do it. They tell themselves they can’t. They have to work with that guy. They have to see him at family dinners. They can’t say what they’d really like to say.

They’ll make those excuses all the way to the ballot box and if there are enough guys like this they can ruin the entire country. Lots of people — lots of women — would say they already have.

A.

Prove You’re Serious, GOP

Getting rid of Trump isn’t enough.

Mouthing platitudes about revering and respecting and protecting and valuing “their” women — mothers, daughters, sisters, waitresses, accessories — isn’t enough.

Tweeting that they’re disgusted isn’t enough. If Trump quits tomorrow, it isn’t enough.

All kinds of noise on Twitter this morning about GOP congressmen denouncing Trump, saying they won’t vote for him, pulling their endorsements. He bragged about sexually assaulting women. He should be serving the kind of prison sentence we give a young black man caught with a joint.

 

If we let the GOP shove Trump out the door for joking about sexual assault, I am ALL FOR THAT. I’m so here for it. But we should have made them shove him out the door for calling Mexicans rapists. We should have made them shove him out the door for “lock her up.” We should have made them shove him out the door for “let’s remove her secret service protection and see what happens.” We should have made them shove him out the door for the Muslim ban, and the judge, and “bomb the shit out of ISIS.”

They should have shoved themselves out the door for nominating him in the first place, after the demands for the birth certificate. Everybody knew what he was then. Everybody should have to answer not just for this 2005 tape but for the 2015 primaries.

But that’s not enough. Defeating Trump in a landslide isn’t enough. Shoving him out the airlock before the election isn’t enough. I’m old enough to remember when Democratic congressmen had to denounce every single anti-war protester’s Che t-shirt in order to prove they weren’t, pardon the expression, pussies; we’re gonna let the GOP get away with denouncing just this one guy?

How about they reverse themselves on defunding Planned Parenthood?

How about they stop yelling “lock her up” at election rallies?

How about they shut up about Sharia law and women in hijabs?

How about they apologize for acting like paying for birth control was like the death camps?

How about they ELECT MORE THAN 8 PERCENT OF WOMEN TO THEIR POSITIONS? How about that?

They should have to prove they’re not the kind of sexist garbage Trump is. Prove their weasel words about how he’s not emblematic of everything they stand for. Prove they’re not just him with cheaper suits and better impulse control.

If they can’t do that, if we can’t MAKE them do that, in another four years or eight years or 12, we’ll be right back here with another guy saying “grab them by the pussy.”

A.

Racism, Sexism, and Where They Are Okay

SPOILER ALERT NOWHERE

On a bus tour hunt for the 2000 Playmate of the Year around the country, the Playmates travel to different cities including New York, Las Vegas, Chicago, Nashville, and San Diego. Trump welcomes the Playmates in New York and pops a bottle of champagne to kick off the New York stop. Trump then pours it over the Playboy bunny logo.

“Beauty is beauty, and let’s see what happens with New York,” Trump says.

Let’s pretend for a moment Alicia Machado had a sex tape (she didn’t). Why would that make it okay for Donald Trump to call her fat and call her trash and threaten to fire her? After all, he’s the one who employed her in the first place; if he knew she had a sex tape and genuinely thought it was some kind of moral failing, why make her Miss Universe?

Of course, he didn’t know, because there was no sex tape, and he didn’t think it was a moral failing anyway, seeing as he was IN A SEX TAPE, and none of this matters at all.

I drove home Friday night listening to an entire NPR piece about this complete clusterfuck, and what made me nearly exit off a bridge into the river was the idea that there was no evidence of a sex tape. Like the problem is that he’s wrong about it, not about whether it’s even relevant to an argument he was having. If Alicia Machado killed KENNEDY, it would still not be okay to call her fat and call her “Miss Housekeeping.” This is called “things that are not on the table for this fight.”

This fight that is about the US presidency, by the way, and also about Donald Trump’s shitty impulse  control and problems with women. Just in case you forgot.

A.

The Natural Family, Blessed By God

Die in a thousand fires, you solipsistic, privileged dick: 

Donald Trump unveiled something resembling a plan to give new parents a child-care tax credit, but one of his strongest supporters already sounds wary of it.

While being interviewed by CNN’s Chris Cuomo on Wednesday, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) expressed skepticism about whether Trump could really find enough money to pay for his plan just by eliminating “waste, fraud and abuse” in unemployment insurance.

Even more interesting, however, was King’s assertion that only “natural families” ought to benefit from the proposed policy.

In other words: No gay people need apply.

“I want to respect all people, but I want to promote the natural family, Chris, and I think that’s the most wholesome thing we can do,” King said. “The natural family is a man and a woman joined together in — hopefully — holy matrimony, blessed by God with children.”

“Blessed by God with children?” I HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS.

How do we determine they were blessed by God? Are the children marked in some way, like Harry Potter’s lightning bolt? Is there a mole somewhere that identifies them as being born of true virtue? I would assume those born of rape, incest, or just because the condom broke wouldn’t have this holy signifier.

Do accidental honeymoon babies count? What if the mother is pregnant on her wedding day but doesn’t know it and finds out later? Does that factor in? Do we date the blessing by conception date, or circumstances? Does it matter if the couple is engaged?

Are adoptive families, including LGBT families, not blessed? Are foster parents not blessed? Those people work harder for their families on their laziest day than any knocked-up-on-prom-night teenager ever will; why is that not a blessing?

If you have a child via surrogate, who is blessed? You? The surrogate? What if there’s a sperm or egg donor? Are you and your husband blessed or is it the owners of the biological material? Should you, at the very least, have to split your “natural family” credit with them?

Is a “natural family” one that includes grandparents? If you’re raising your grandbaby, is that baby your “natural family” or do you have to apply for some kind of personal adjustment or naturalization certificate? None of this makes any sense to me.

A well-meaning churchgoer once told me, when I was trying to get pregnant and worried about my age, of the story of Abraham and Sara. I suppose she was trying to be encouraging: “See, geriatrics like you, in your mid-30s, have babies all the time!” But what I heard was, “Biological children are for those deemed worthy, so if you don’t have a child by magic, clearly you are not worthy in the eyes of God.”

I wonder if my family — whose story goes something like, “when two people love each other very very much and involve a team of doctors and surgeons, if they’re very lucky they can make a baby” — would be considered “natural” by King’s standards. I wonder if we’d be considered blessed by God.

“I want to respect all people,” says that store brand fascist up there, that knock-off version of a human being, whose political career consists of being bought out of the back of somebody’s van in a stadium parking lot. Sure, Stevie. You want to respect all people, but not so much that you consider all people like PEOPLE or anything. You want to respect some people more than others, and you’re not even bothering to hide very well who you think counts more.

Schmuck.

A.

Trump Lives in Our America

This is a sitting governor, guys, so talk to me some more about how Trump is such an outlier. 

“I want us to be able to fight ideologically, mentally, spiritually, economically, so that we don’t have to do it physically,” the tea party politician said in a Saturday speech at the Values Voters Summit, an annual gathering of religious conservatives. “But that may, in fact, be the case.”

Bevin said he was asked in a recent if the nation could “survive” a Clinton presidency, and he responded that it would be “possible” but at a great “price.”

“The roots of the tree of liberty are watered by what?” Bevin continued. “The blood, of who? The tyrants to be sure, but who else? The patriots. Whose blood will be shed? It may be that of those in this room. It might be that of our children and grandchildren.”

I keep seeing these idiot headlines about how we’re now living in “Trump’s America” or some crap, like this just happened, like this is new. For fuck’s sake, Republicans have been calling Democrats traitors since at least 9/11 if not the 1930s. Before the Creeping Sharia Menace and the Secret Muslim Infiltration it was the Russkies and the Commies and the Reds that Real Americans were gonna have to rise up against with full fanfare and drama.

Other Real Americans, natch, not people like this.

People rightly said when the Tea Party came around that this is where Republicans have been going for years, just louder and dumber, and we were all either ignored or ridiculed. People rightly said, when Sarah Palin was nominated as VP, that this was not just a problem with one halfbright woman, that her elevation was indicative of some pretty serious weaknesses in structure and values, and they were ignored or ridiculed.

And now we have GOP presidential nominee Trump and sitting governors of entire states calling for armed insurrection if we elect a pretty middle-of-the-road, frankly kind of boring conventional politician who will probably not change anything very profoundly. And everyone acts like that’s just a low pressure system moving in, like that’s just the weather and the way the earth turns.

America didn’t just “turn into” Trump’s America. It didn’t “become” this way all on its own. People did this to it, and other people ignored it, or went along because the numbers favored it that day, or decided they couldn’t be bothered or risk looking like dirty hippies. A thousand little decisions were made by actual people every single day and if you don’t listen to those saying hey, that and that and that and that are not going to add up to anything good, you don’t get to bitch at the rise of Cheeto Jesus and pretend you didn’t see it coming.

A.

Keep it short.

No

In honor of Daniel Victor’s simple answer in his NYT tech column, here are my five-words-or-less responses to a shit ton of stuff going on in the world:

 

Brock Turner was released from jail after three months from jail. CNN asks: Did race affect the Stanford Rape Case?

Yes.

 

Stanford has decided to ban hard alcohol at campus parties in the wake of the Turner scandal. How effective will this be in stemming the tide of bad behavior and situations involving sexual assault?

Beer.

 

Media outlets have announced the debate moderators for the presidential debates: NBC’s Lester Holt, CNN’s Anderson Cooper/ABC’s Martha Raddatz and Fox News’ Chris Wallace. Given the spectrum of voices, the “one-on-one” style approach and his promise to be “more presidential” will this lead to a fair and civilized debate from Donald Trump?

Ask Hugh Hewitt.

 

A prominent Latino surrogate for Donald Trump announced Thursday he had officially withdrawn his support from the Republican presidential nominee, saying he was “misled” because Trump said this week he was going to deport illegals. 

How?

 

School districts throughout the state are facing massive teacher shortages and can’t find people who can teach specialties or meet special needs of some students. To what can we attribute this gap and how can we fix it?

Act 10. Repeal it.

 

Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers refused to stand for the National Anthem, something he has done in the past. What does this say about him as a person and our country?

Free speech. Use it.

 

What about the people, including former athletes, who have taken him to task for this?

Consider the source.

 

What about the police officer in Philly with a Nazi-style tattoo across his arm, who was working at a protest march? Does this guy have the right espouse his beliefs in this fashion as a representative of the city and the police force dedicated to protecting it? How do you explain this?

  1. Wear sleeves.
  2. Not on duty.
  3. This

 

 

 

There Is Literally No Way to Be Married or Work or Raise Your Kids Right

IT IS 20FUCKING16, latest in a series of occasional RAGESMASHes: 

[…] Weiner isn’t just facing questions about his political career. He’s facing questions about his parenting skills. And for the third time, his questionable decisions are ensnaring his wife, one of Hillary Clinton’s top aides, by raising questions about her decision to leave their son alone with her husband while she’s on the campaign trail.

It’s written in the standard contrarian perspective of a lot of politics blogging; the “what if” tone that carries an internal defense that it’s “just speculating.” Phillips isn’t, after all, actually saying that Abedin is a bad mom because she dared to leave her son with his father, she’s just raising the question. It’s a tired approach to writing about women in politics, though one we’ve seen quite a bit in this particular election. It simply posits that this will be a line of attack by the opposition and thus is a fair line of inquiry.

Of course, the speculation is underpinned by ridiculous stereotypes about working mothers, as well as the moral responsibility of wives to persistently monitor the inevitably bad behavior of men.

Several things, in order, about this regressive bullshit:

  1. Sexting around one’s toddler is not, by itself, a dangerous thing for the toddler. It’s not like Dumbfuck McChucklehead was lighting off fireworks and chugging Bud Lite and texting pictures of THAT to his sidepiece. Should you be subjecting your preschooler to the sight of your peen? I don’t know, I doubt it, but the kid in the pic was sound asleep. People read porn when their kids are asleep, probably. Is that endangering those kids? Before we make wild accusations of basically negligent sexual abuse, shouldn’t we think about this a little more?
  2. Something does not “raise questions” all by itself. People raise questions. Those people should put their names to their bullshit questions so that we can laugh at them, or take into account whether they have a history of being assholes, or on second thought just laugh at them. Fuck this tendency to write as if stupid conclusions are like the weather and just descend upon us.
  3. If it “raises questions” about anybody, it raises questions about Anthony Weiner, who is the husband of a person who is an aide to a person who is running for president so just out of curiosity did Trump not talk today or something? Are we this bored?
  4. Anthony Weiner can’t get hisself a job because of how he is embarrassing, so someone has to feed that baby we are so worried about. I don’t think Huma Abedin would be a better mom OR JUDGED ANY LESS if she didn’t work and they were homeless.
  5. It is not any woman’s responsibility to keep a man from sticking his dick in any other woman. First of all, it’s ineffective. If the only way you can keep your husband faithful is by constant surveillance, your husband does not want to be faithful, and will figure out how not to be no matter how many nannycams you buy. Second, ladies, our own lives are complicated enough that we shouldn’t be spending valuable time running other people’s, even if those other people are our spouses. Huma has to manage HILLARY CLINTON’S LIFE. I’m surprised she has time to cut her own food, much less corral Daddy’s dingdong.
  6. Just shut up and stop it. Women are bad if they stay home because they are stupid fat cows whose brains have melted and women are bad if they work because they are selfish shrews and women are bad if they work and send their kids to daycare because they are letting strangers raise their kids and women are bad if they work and their husbands stay home because CUUUUUUCKS and women are bad if they don’t even HAVE any kids because that is tragic and women are bad if they have too many kids because a vagina is not a clown car and there is literally no way for a woman to Kobayashi Maru this shit so let’s stop giving the dumb fucking test already.

A.

 

#NeverWingnuts

Watching otherwise intelligent people make common cause with scumbag assholes just because they both hate Trump is going to be the thing that ends me this election cycle. Jude and I have been texting this GIF back and forth to each other for like a year now:

varnish

Example one:

This deliberately stupid motherfucker was mocking Katrina victims AS THE HURRICANE WAS HITTING THEM. His mom made her bones convincing women to rat out other women in order to get likes back when likes were just dollars, and then he got a job appealing to the people even he thought were gross. And now, NOW, he wants to know who will speak up for him?

Buddy, you made sure anybody who would have been on your side was already six feet under politically. We tried to tell you this would eventually turn around on you, but you looked at the spreadsheet and called hippies smelly, called liberals fascist, called John Kerry a traitor and when called on your snide shit thought only of your sacred reputation.

Supposedly intelligent people should not be moved by pleas for sympathy from the likes of this. Jonah up there is the equivalent of those fratbros who buy a tiger as a pet and then are absolutely astonished when it grows up and rips their faces off.

Example two: ANYTHING Little Green Footballs tweets or posts regarding the unhinged-ness of Republicans and how awful and racist and crazy the party is now. I see people who are not otherwise idiots approvingly retweeting this site and again, forever, INTERNET GRANDMA, but  back in my day LGF was not something you went near without garlic and a big bag of sharpened stakes.

NEVAR FORGET: 

The man who was almost president shares a stage in Davos, Switzerland, with a rogue’s gallery of enemies, including the former president of Iran and his Iraqi puppet.

Nearly beyond belief. But this is John F. Kerry, doing what he does—giving aid and comfort to the enemies of America during wartime.

When reporter Jill Carroll was captured, then freed, by terrorists, this was LGF’s measured response: 

Note that even after her release, Carroll maintained that she had been treated well by her captors—so it would appear that this journalist for the Christian Science Monitor made these anti-American comments voluntarily.

Jesus H. Cuttlefish Christ. The “leftist-Islamist axis?” I almost forgot how fucking stupid everyone talked back in those days.

You don’t get to walk back from that and get anything other than a shortened wait time in purgatory. Like good for you for figuring it out before approximately 65 percent of your other wingnut friends, but I don’t think you’re due a parade. You certainly don’t get a cookie from people who at the time were looking at you and saying, “the FUCK, dude” while you were smearing your own poop on the walls and yelling about ISLAMOFASCISM.

I’m not saying people can’t come to Jesus. Plenty of them do and that’s fine, apparently, with Jesus. But I’m not Him and I don’t have to forgive, and with the Internet being a permanent record of everything ever, I’m certainly not willing to let anybody else forget.

A.

Why Don’t Poor People Just Buy Houses in Nicer Neighborhoods?

Because they aren’t allowed to. It would drag down the property values all over the place: 

Village of Hartland — Village officials and residents on Monday squared off in a heated exchange during a plan commission meeting over a proposed housing development on the east side of the village.

A plan by Habitat for Humanity of Waukesha County would put 15 homes on 3.2 acres at 1270 E. Capitol Drive. Residents said such a densely populated development would lower their property values and could bring crime to the area.

The commission only reviewed the conceptual plan for the development and did not vote on it.

“What bothers me most about the proposal is the density and the risk that it’s going to give to my property value,” said Diana Benben, who lives two doors east of the proposed development.

The development would be placed on the lot of the former Slugger’s bar, which has been torn down, and the house west of the bar lot. The future of the house isn’t clear, and may be torn down to make room for the development. The property is not hooked up to the village’s sewer and water system, and that work will cost the developer between $400,000 and $500,000.

The homes would cost between $150,000 and $225,000 and will range from 900 to 1,800 square feet, according to a conceptual plan sent to the village by the consulting firm Lynch & Associates of New Berlin.

This is an argument I used to hear all the time when I covered suburban land use issues, and still hear all the time whenever somebody brings up shitty public schools, or food deserts, or crime in historically black neighborhoods. Why don’t they just move?

Well, because after you smuggies lit out for the exurbs you pulled up the bridge after you and now nobody can afford to “just” move.

Just move. Fuck’s sake. Like you won’t show up at the village hall and bitch about apartments having “unattended juveniles” at them or frickin’ Habitat for Humanity homes bringing down “your” property values by being merely $225,000, like a slum or something.

But you don’t hate poor people. You just oppose anything and everything that might actually help them in any practical way. That’s all.

A.

 

DNC Finale Wrap Up: She Won’t Stay Throwed

Clinton-Kaine DNC, 2016.

Best balloon drop ever. Photograph via CNN.com.

I’m old. I’ve watched every DNC since 1976 and this was the best one ever. The themes of the programming came together in a glorious final day. Instead of being dismissive, many Conservative pundits lavished praise on the convention. I actually retweeted something Jonah Goldberg of the NRO wrote. That’s right, William Fucking Buckley’s National Review:

He, of course, reverted to Cartoon Hillary Hate during her speech but Goldberg’s reaction showed how effective the DNC was. It was an attempt to make this election America vs. Trump. The speeches of the President and HRC reinforced this underlying message beautifully.

One thing bugged me about the Conservative praise. They called patriotism and optimism “Republican values.” They’re American values. I love my country despite its manifest flaws. It’s my flag too and if I want to wave it, I will. Since they’re woefully ignorant of history, I’d like to remind them that Ronald Reagan was a Democrat for much of his life. And that Franklin Roosevelt was his hero and political role model. In addition to being the greatest liberal President of all time, FDR was a war President whose speeches were laced with patriotic images. Repeat after me: liberals are patriots too.

I’m going to say one thing about the Busters before moving on. They don’t understand how badly they came off. Their much vaunted purism came off as rudeness. They also seem bound and determined to repeat the mistakes made by the anti-war left in the Sixties:

I guess Twitter *can* be useful no matter how irritating it can get. It’s time for me to explain the post title.

Congressman Emmanuel Cleaver of Missouri, who’s also a United Methodist pastor, gave one of the best afternoon speeches. He took the DNC to church with a powerful testament to Hillary’s tenacity in the face of her enemies.

“Now here’s a warning to those who might be tempted to spend the next four years trying to knock Hillary Clinton down. You better get ready for a woman who won’t stay throwed,” Cleaver said as he grew more and more impassioned. “They threw her down as the first lady, but she didn’t stay throwed! They threw her down as a U.S. senator, but she wouldn’t stay throwed! They threw her down as a secretary of state, but she wouldn’t stay throwed! They threw her down in this very campaign—this campaign—but she won’t stay throwed! No, she ain’t gonna’ stay throwed! She won’t stay throwed! She won’t stay throwed!”

That’s more exclamation points than have ever appeared in one of my posts but Rep. Cleaver was riffing. This remarkable passage was ad-libbed. Let’s  throw down some segments about the rest of the finale.

A Reaganite Dissents: Bruce Elmets worked at the Reagan White House as a speechwriter and spokesman. He still reveres the Conservative icon. Mr. Elmets, quite correctly, regards Donald Trump as an affront to human decency. He opened with the Bentsen-Quayle colloquy as applied to the small fingered vulgarian, then delivered a blistering attack on the Insult Comedian:

He contrasted Reagan’s famous demand of Russian leader Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down” the Berlin Wall with Trump’s plan to build a wall along the US-Mexico border.

“Reagan saw nuance,” he said. “Trump sees the world as us vs. them, where somebody with brown skin or a foreign-sounding name is likely to blame for our troubles. Reagan knew that a leader needs diplomacy to steer a safe, prosperous course forward. Trump is a petulant, dangerously unbalanced reality star who will coddle tyrants and alienate allies.”

As a Californian, Reagan was a moderate on immigration, and would have been appalled by Trump’s proposal to expel Muslims from our country. That brings me to the finale’s most emotional moment.

The Wrath of Khan: Sorry, I’m a Trekker so I could not resist this sub-header. The Khan in question is a grieving Muslim father from Charlottesville, VA. Khizr Khan’s son, who was born in the USA, was killed in action in Iraq. I wasn’t planning to post a transcript of his remarks but it’s important for everyone to read his words:

Like many immigrants, we came to this country empty-handed. We believed in American democracy — that with hard work and the goodness of this country, we could share in and contribute to its blessings.

We were blessed to raise our three sons in a nation where they were free to be themselves and follow their dreams.

Our son, Humayun, had dreams of being a military lawyer. But he put those dreams aside the day he sacrificed his life to save his fellow soldiers.

Hillary Clinton was right when she called my son “the best of America.”

If it was up to Donald Trump, he never would have been in America.

Donald Trump consistently smears the character of Muslims. He disrespects other minorities, women, judges, even his own party leadership. He vows to build walls and ban us from this country.

Donald Trump, you are asking Americans to trust you with our future. Let me ask you: Have you even read the U.S. Constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy. In this document, look for the words “liberty” and “equal protection of law.”

Have you ever been to Arlington Cemetery? Go look at the graves of the brave patriots who died defending America — you will see all faiths, genders, and ethnicities.

You have sacrificed nothing and no one.

We can’t solve our problems by building walls and sowing division.

We are Stronger Together.

And we will keep getting stronger when Hillary Clinton becomes our next President.

I may not be a Vulcan but I rarely cry.  I completely lost it when Mr. Khan held his pocket constitution aloft and asked, “Have you even read the U.S. Constitution?”

I cheer-wept when he did that. I never cheer-weep. I remained verklempt, which led me to post this on Facebook in the wee, small hours of the morning:

Along with Mr. Khan, Emmanuel Cleaver, and Hillary Clinton, I won’t stay throwed. Donald Trump is a menace and an existential threat to our Democracy. His propensity to wing it and say, then deny, outrageous shit makes him unfit to hold office at any level let alone the highest office in the land. Speaking of which:

Madame President: It’s going to be a long, hard slog but I remain cautiously optimistic that will be her title come January, 2017. She appeared in all white as a tribute to her suffragist/suffragette foremothers. She dressed for comfort in a pants suit as if giving the finger to those who comment endlessly on her appearance. Much of the convention was devoted to making a case for the Real Hillary as opposed to the Cartoon canard created by her enemies.

Her speech was magnificent, a roaring tribute to the old-time Democratic religion. Yes, Virginia Hipster there were liberals before Bernie. She invoked the name of the greatest Democratic President of all to castigate Trump:

Well, we heard Donald Trump’s answer last week at his convention. He wants to divide us — from the rest of the world, and from each other. He’s betting that the perils of today’s world will blind us to its unlimited promise.

He’s taken the Republican Party a long way … from “Morning in America” to “Midnight in America.”

He wants us to fear the future and fear each other.

Well, a great Democratic President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, came up with the perfect rebuke to Trump more than eighty years ago, during a much more perilous time.

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

HRC is not the natural orator that the current Oval One is, but it was a well-written, well-delivered speech that was as substantive as all get out. She’s a policy wonk and proud of it. I saw a woman liberated, and comfortable in her own skin at the podium last night. She has embraced the historic nature of her nomination. I saw Jane Sanders in the gallery during HRC’s speech. She looked moved. She had to be. She knows how far we’ve come as well as how much farther we need to go.

HRC said something that President Obama dared not say in his first acceptance speech:

So let’s put ourselves in the shoes of young black and Latino men and women who face the effects of systemic racism, and are made to feel like their lives are disposable.

That was a remarkable statement in a remarkable speech by a remarkable woman. Perhaps I should find another superlative but that one will have to do for now.

One quote that will endure was a zinger at her opponent followed by a quote from a FLOTUS of the past:

Imagine him in the Oval Office facing a real crisis. A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons.

I can’t put it any better than Jackie Kennedy did after the Cuban Missile Crisis. She said that what worried President Kennedy during that very dangerous time was that a war might be started — not by big men with self-control and restraint, but by little men — the ones moved by fear and pride.

Indeed, madam.

I’m proud to be an American and a Democrat this week. Neither my party nor my country are perfect. That’s an aspiration, not an achievable goal. We’re human being thus inherently imperfect. It’s what has bugged me the most about the Dead Enders to my left. We’ve been told, by what my friend Ed Branley calls “non-partisan progressives,” that the party needs to be more inclusive. Did you see the floor at the DNC? I saw America there. The Democratic Party has now nominated a black man and a woman. How is that not inclusive? Children born during the Obama-Clinton era will not think there was anything unusual about having a black or female President. How great is that, y’all?

Are we perfect? Hell no, every party and political leader has a weak spot; for Senator Sanders it’s gun control; for Ms. Clinton it’s her vote on the Iraq War. That’s why you have to judge Presidents by the TOTALITY of their record. After all, Franklin Roosevelt established Social Security, but also signed the order interning Japanese-American citizens. Woodrow Wilson enacted much of the early 20th Century progressive agenda but was a segregationist. Lyndon Johnson was responsible for the Civil and Voting Rights Acts, and Medicare but took the country into a divisive, futile and bloody war in Vietnam. Great virtues and great flaws in one person, party, or country are not uncommon. That’s life in the real world.

I have no illusions that some of the Hillary haters will ever come around. The image created by right-wingers and furthered by some on the left has become what our friends in France call an “IDEE FIXE.”Literally a fixed idea.  It’s defined as “an idea that dominates one’s mind especially for a prolonged period.” The synonym is obsession.

It’s hard for people to let go of an obsession and the notion of Hillary as Nurse Ratched is indelible for many. All I know is that people who have never helped anyone in their lives think she’s a horrible person. They’re in the grip of an idee fixe. I pity them and hope they can let go to deny the White House to a man my late Republican father would not have allowed in his house, let alone voted for.

We can do better, y’all. We can do better. I’ll give President Obama the last word:

Look, Hillary’s got her share of critics. She’s been caricatured by the right and by some folks on the left; accused of everything you can imagine – and some things you can’t. But she knows that’s what happens when you’re under a microscope for 40 years. She knows she’s made mistakes, just like I have; just like we all do. That’s what happens when we try. That’s what happens when you’re the kind of citizen Teddy Roosevelt once described – not the timid souls who criticize from the sidelines, but someone “who is actually in the arena…who strives valiantly; who errs…[but] who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement.”

Hillary Clinton is that woman in the arena. She’s been there for us – even if we haven’t always noticed. And if you’re serious about our democracy, you can’t afford to stay home just because she might not align with you on every issue. You’ve got to get in the arena with her, because democracy isn’t a spectator sport. America isn’t about “yes he will.” It’s about “yes we can.” And we’re going to carry Hillary to victory this fall, because that’s what the moment demands.

Once again, I fibbed about the whole last word thing. The idea that the Democrats should meet Donald Trump’s challenge with anger is nonsense. We cannot out-anger Trump nor should we try. That’s the road to defeat. Optimism trumps anger even in tough times. We need a President who won’t stay throwed.