Category Archives: Terrorism

The Three Thousand & Where Power Lies

It doesn’t matter whose fault it is:

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

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

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

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

That’s all that matters to the three thousand.

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

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

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

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

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

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

A.

Caucus with the Democrats

Hey, Jeff Flake.

Hey, John McCain.

Hey, Susan Collins. Lisa Murkowski. Ben Motherfucking Sasse.

Hey, Bob Corker, probably. I mean, I haven’t looked, I assume he’s still a disingenuous attention-whoring shitbag like the rest of them.

Hey, all you assholes.

STFU. Get off Twitter. Get off TV. And start making phone calls.

Because until you caucus with the Democrats to stop this bullshit, I don’t want to hear another word out of your cheeto-dusted mouths.

In the early days maybe this shit was cute, this whole “the president of the United States is a traitor I am powerless to stop although I am uniquely empowered to stop him” dodge you’re pulling where you can handle some treason if it comes with abortion bans and guns.

It wasn’t cute to me or anyone else whose life was on the line but I could see where if you were some kind of reality-impaired solipsistic DC douchemook, you found that kind of thing amusing. You got to give important speeches and people clapped.

It hasn’t been cute for some time. The solution to the problem of your overwhelming angst and this country’s ongoing shame is pretty damn simple. In fact, it’s so easy people have already started wondering why you haven’t done it.

Caucus with the Democrats.

Yes, the hated Democratic Party, we of abortion on chipper demand and two-gay-weddings-for-the-price-of-one, we the gun-grabbing black president-electing welfare queens who want to take all your tax dollars and use them to kill cops. The people you’ve been telling your base for years are amoral fifth columnists. Those Democrats. Caucus with us.

Because we may want to put condoms in every happy meal. We may want you to be able to get Plan B at Kwik Trip. We may tell you your “Hillary’s a Cunt” t-shirt is a little bit sexist.

Sometimes we even listen to rap, but motherfucking shit goddamn we are not standing next to someone who attacked this country and saying, basically, “whatevs.” 

Yes, that’s a low bar. But you’re #NeverTrump Republicans. Baby steps.

You caucus with us, and this all stops. Tomorrow. Today. You caucus with us and the Senate shuts down. The unchecked madness comes to an end. You hold hearings. You draft censure resolutions and you vote for every single goddamn one.

You impeach everyone you have to impeach until you find someone untainted by this disaster even if it’s Bill Clinton’s last fucking tailor. That guy gets to be president before anyone Putin’s nasty withered fingers touched.

Oh, your base will howl? Fuck ’em. Your state voted for Trump? Fuck them too. You didn’t swear an oath under your state flag with your hand on the legal code of Nebraska — or whatever the fuck — to serve your constituents.

You swore it under the Stars and Stripes with your hand on that Bible you like to say is so important to you. You swore an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States of America.

You won’t be able to work once your mouthbreathing Hills-Have-Eyes-casting-call voters drum you out for this? TOO FUCKING BAD. You don’t get to make bank on MSNBC deploring the president and wink at the human detritus as you float above them on some kind of whiskey-tango life raft made of four meth lab couches zip-tied together.

You stand for what you stand for all the time, so until you actually stand for it, and caucus with the Democrats, you can keep your sternly worded statements and your oh-so-weary denials. You can shove them in the dark hole where you put things you don’t want to think about, like immigrant children, Merrick Garland, your humanity, and the entire basic motherfucking concept of the Land of the Free.

Schmucks.

A.

Families Belong Together: Chicago

Fifty thousand strong in the streets yesterday, including Mr. A and Kick and I, in the 100-degree heat. I took this photo from my friend Amy’s office window just before the march itself.

For longtime immigrant and labor rights organizer Jorge Mujica, the call to end family separation from non-immigrant sectors of the population is an opportunity to create change at the policy level.

“Today’s march is a reflection of the general disgust at separating families, but this is just the tip of the iceberg,” he said. “We need to retake discussion of immigration reform and take advantage that public opinion is on our side.”

This was my favorite sign:

#FuckJeff needs to be trending every day

Our children — including those in detention — need to know that people fought back for them. They need to know that people stood up. Tens of thousands of us everywhere. And yeah, it’s not enough to just “get in the streets,” and it’s not enough to yell on Twitter and call our reps and nothing is enough, right now. I think that’s why this week was awful, it just seemed like nothing was enough.

I heard this over and over as we marched, as we sang, as we cheered the firefighters spraying us with cold water around the second turn of the march route: “It just feels like nothing’s getting through.” Of course it feels like that. Nothing is.

November, though. November. All fifty thousand strong and millions more besides, for Parkland and the families who’ve lost their children and for the Supreme Court theft and the grifting and the puss-grabbing and the Muslim ban, for all of it and all of us.

We open the doors of the cages we built and we let ourselves out, however we can, as many times as we have to until everybody’s free. It was blindingly hot on Saturday as we walked through the streets. A pair of Native American artists in full regalia danced next to a sign that read, “No one is illegal on stolen land.” Of course it feels like nothing’s getting through.

It should feel like that. So we keep marching. So we keep moving forward, no matter how hot it gets, no matter how many people try to push us back.

A.

Separations

Kick has had the same caregiver since she was eight weeks old.

We are unendingly blessed to have, in our life-with-newborn state of dazed terror, stumbled upon a woman who has spent the past four years filling our daughter’s life with joy and adventure. I fully believe this person puts my child’s happiness above her own on a daily basis and would stop at nothing to keep Kick from harm. She has keys to my house and we’ve borrowed each other’s cars and I trust her completely.

Yet at least once a day I freak out at my desk because Kick is beyond both earshot and arm’s reach of me at that exact moment and I want nothing more than to call up and be like, “So whatcha doin’?” like a fucking psychopath. I was once stranded an extra day on a work trip due to weather and Kick was so happy WITH MY OWN ACTUAL PARENTS she didn’t even want to talk on the phone, and I still nearly tore LaGuardia apart with my bare hands trying to get a flight back in a blizzard because I needed to see my baby.

Growing a human being inside you makes you insane. You all know me, I don’t think women have magical powers and “mommy instinct” isn’t really a thing, but what is a thing? Is having carried a person curled up under your rib cage next to your heart, inside your pulse, feeling them twist and roll and settle into your bones. You never get to be that close to them again and that loss? Is incomprehensible.

In my case it flipped an anxiety switch that obliterated pretty much MY ENTIRE PERSONALITY. Kick was 8 miles away from me as I wrote this, digging in the sandbox a block from our house, with a caregiver who I think sometimes is better for her than I am, and I know objectively that’s where she should be.

But I also know people shoot heroin at that park and every few weeks the city has to comb all the used condoms out of that sandbox and humans are filth pigs and if some creepy old asshole told Kick he had a kitten in his panel van she would totally go with him to see it and she eats anything an adult will put in front of her and is insanely confident about finding her own way places and it only takes ten seconds for a normal day to turn into an episode of SVU.

(Of course none of this will happen. My therapist calls this “catastrophizing.” I was astonished to learn we had a name for what, previously, I had thought of as “being alive.”)

My point is that I can’t be away from my kid, even when she is driving me crazy, for more than 5 minutes without my whole body screaming at me that SOMETHING IS WRONG NOW. Right now at this moment I know exactly where Kick is, and who she is with, and that she is well, and the urge to flip my desk and cab it home and hold her is so powerful it gives me the shakes.

Which is all to say that if you did this to me I would lose my fucking mind:

When we woke up the next morning, immigration officers brought us outside where there were two government cars waiting. They said that I would be going to one place, and my son would go to another. I asked why repeatedly, but they didn’t give me a reason.

The officers forced me to strap my son into a car seat. As I looked for the buckles, my hands shook, and my son started to cry. Without giving me even a moment to comfort him, the officer shut the door. I could see my son through the window, looking back at me — waiting for me to get in the car with him — but I wasn’t allowed to. He was screaming as the car drove away.

A few things about this story that have arisen in the past week: No, MAGA-troids, this is not necessary to deter anyone who is being threatened politically from seeking asylum in the U.S. because nobody thinks about packing up their toddlers and crawling across half a damn continent unless shit is really, really real. So stop with the “maybe they just shouldn’t come here then” crap. The mother in the story above was being teargassed in her home. Most of you red-hatted barcalounging segregationists would shit yourselves if you heard a bottle rocket in the alley.

You are the demographic that calls the cops on black people golfing. If the 82nd Airborne threw down in your cul-de-sac you’d flee to Canada faster than a flock of geese.

Additionally, yes, we can let these people in and give them asylum, them and their families. We can house them, feed them, give them health care and papers and jobs, for roughly what Jeff Bezos blows on lunch. That we have decided not to, and have given it to Jeff B. instead, is a decision we have made and not a reflection on what is physically possible. So just save your “this is what happens in the Great Battle for the Soul of White America” or whatever you are on about in the U.S. comments sections.

Last but not least, STOP THROWING OBAMA AROUND TO JUSTIFY THIS. If this happened under Obama it was bullshit and should stop. It is happening under Trump, and it is bullshit, and it should stop. Both those things can be true. I have zero interest here in being morally superior so if I congratulate you on your superior OWNZING of the neolibs with your “this is an Obama policy” crack, can we give these mothers their babies back please? Can we do the job in front of us, right now today?

Because it’s monstrous. It’s incomprehensible. There is no reason for it and there’s no possible justification that fits within the bounds of human decency. The ONLY justification for doing it to other parents is that our society sincerely considers that perhaps parents of color do not love their children as much as we virtuous honkies do. That they wouldn’t tear the world open with their teeth to get their children back.

I don’t believe that of anyone.

A.

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

Hi, all – a bunch of bits and pieces this week. Let’s get right into it with – Bimb? Oh No?

Ex-Playboy Model Karen McDougal Sues to Break Silence on Trump
New York Times ^ | 03/20/2018 | By JIM RUTENBERG

Posted on 3/20/2018, 2:08:04 PM by SeekAndFind

A former Playboy model who claimed she had an affair with Donald J. Trump sued on Tuesday to be released from a 2016 legal agreement requiring her silence, becoming the second woman this month to challenge Trump allies’ efforts during the presidential campaign to bury stories about extramarital relationships.

The model, Karen McDougal, is suing the company that owns The National Enquirer, American Media Inc., which paid her $150,000 and whose chief executive is a friend of President Trump’s. The other woman, the adult entertainment star Stephanie Clifford, better known as Stormy Daniels, was paid $130,000 to stay quiet by the president’s personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen. She filed suit earlier this month.

Both women, who argue that their contracts are invalid, are trying to get around clauses requiring them to resolve disputes in secretive arbitration proceedings rather than in open court. Mr. Trump has denied the affairs.

Ms. McDougal, in a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, claims that Mr. Cohen was secretly involved in her talks with A.M.I., and that the media company and her lawyer at the time misled her about the deal. She also asserts that after she spoke with The New Yorker last month after it obtained notes she kept on Mr. Trump, A.M.I. warned that “any further disclosures would breach Karen’s contract” and “cause considerable monetary damages.”

In an email to The New York Times, her new lawyer, Peter K. Stris, accused A.M.I. of “a multifaceted effort to silence Karen McDougal.”

1 posted on 3/20/2018, 2:08:04 PM by SeekAndFind
To: DIRTYSECRET

 

What is the whole point, was there a rape or sexual assault committed, if not who cares.

11 posted on 3/20/2018, 2:12:48 PM by the_individual2014

To: SeekAndFind

 

What’s the beef? Trump was a rich successful playboy, that’s no secret. Besides, she is hot!

12 posted on3/20/2018, 2:13:28 PM by JoSixChip (He is Batman!)

To: SeekAndFind

 

Not guilty!

20 posted on 3/20/2018, 2:15:26 PM by goldstategop (In Memory Of A Dearly Beloved Friend Who Lives In My Heart Forever)

To: albie

 

She wants everyone to know she’s a pig who screws married men. I don’t have a problem with the president. That’s between him and his wife.

44 posted on 3/20/2018, 3:03:44 PM by Peeps47 (Democrats are as corrupt as they are incompetent)

Ah, the Freeperati – always ready to forgive and forget.
Well, ALMOST always…

Let the Bimbo Eruptions Commence! Is Bill Clinton back in predatory mode? NY POST ^ | 10/13/06 | Richard Johnson Posted on 10/13/2006, 8:48:49 AM by MAD-AS-HELL

Hillary Fans Took No Chances

SAVVY Democrats pushing Sen. Hillary Clinton for president were so worried last year about a possible “bimbo eruption” involving Bill Clinton, they had his friend, former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe, confront him, according to a new book. In “The Way to Win,” authors Mark Halperin of ABC News and John Harris of the Washington Post report that rumors swept political circles last year that Clinton had resumed the wayward habits that nearly brought down his presidency in 1998. Concern among his allies grew so intense that McAuliffe was tapped for the delicate assignment of confronting him at his Chappaqua home, according to Democrats briefed on the awkward encounter. “The former president assured McAuliffe that there was nothing to the rumors, although Clinton had been known to make such promises in the past,” Halperin and Harris write. They add that others around the senator believe her husband “has learned from his errors” and is so determined that she become president that he’ll “bring only support and good behavior to a Hillary Clinton presidential campaign.”

*******

Oh how I would love to see an avalanche of woman come out and accuse Bill of unwanted advances
Yeah – that would really suck, wouldn’t it?
on the eve of the Democratic National Convention where Hitlery is to accept the nomination. Or even better, Hillary and her goon squad intimidating those same women in order to keep them quiet about the BENTONE.

Maybe Michael Cohen is available?

To: MAD-AS-HELL

 

“The former president assured McAuliffe that there was nothing to the rumors”

Yea, right. Once a whorehound, always a whorehound. Bubba is as addicted to chasing women as an alcoholic is to booze.

17 posted on 10/13/2006, 9:01:28 AM by Polyxene (For where God built a church, there the Devil would also build a chapel – Martin Luther)

 Yeah – but is she hot?
To: MAD-AS-HELL

 

In the past Hillary was in charge of putting down “Bimbo Eruptions”. Now who’s going to do it?

40 posted on 10/13/2006, 10:26:31 AM by TruthWillWin

MelaniaTrumpWhoEesResponsible
.
More after the linky thing…

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What’s in a name and how many lives is it worth?

When we discuss the idea of “fame” as a newsvalue in my journalism classes, I make a point that famous people can actually be infamous.

“How many of you have heard the name Jeffrey Dahmer?” I ask.

Every hand goes up, even though he committed his crimes and died in prison before most of them were born.

Dahmer is a name that remains as prominent now as it was in the early 1990s. A mass murder with an eating disorder, a TV show once quipped.

I thought about the man, the name and the crime this week when I heard about the Las Vegas attack that left 58 dead and more than 500 injured. Stephen Paddock, a 64-year-old retired accountant with an arsenal at his disposal, hunkered down in a hotel room and fired round after round after round into a crowded concert venue.

Researchers and experts note this was the deadliest shooting on U.S. soil in modern history (whatever that means… It reminds me of “recently” which we used to define as “reporter lost the press release with the actual date.”). They also noted that in most cases the shooters wanted to make a mark, make a statement and make a name for themselves. As one expert lamented in discussing this topic, “Records are made to be broken.”

It was true for the Aurora, Colorado shooter James Holmes, who told a prison psychologist he wanted to be remembered as considered each death part of a score or tally. Holmes shot and killed 12 people and injured 70 others on July 20, 2012, when he opened fire on in a movie theater during a midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises.”

It was true of Robert Hawkins, a 19-year-old man who killed eight people in an Omaha, Nebraska mall in 2007. His suicide note explained: “I just want to take a few pieces of shit with me… just think tho, I’m gonna be fuckin famous.”

It was true for Adam Lanza, who wanted people to understand what he saw as unrelenting pain. When a forensic scientist examined the case for a reason Lanza murdered 26 children and staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012, the man said Lanza had a simple message: “I carry profound hurt — I’ll go ballistic and transfer it onto you.”

It was certainly true for Seung-Hui Cho, who held the “record” for the deadliest shooting carried out by a single gunman in U.S. history. This Virginia Tech student killed 32 of his campus colleagues and wounded 17 others on April 16, 2007. In his rambling manifesto, he noted: “Thanks to you, I die like Jesus Christ, to inspire generations of the weak and defenseless people.”

Know me. Fear me. Revile me. But always, always remember me.

What’s strange is that I don’t remember ANY of them by name. Perhaps the last two names I remember were the Columbine killers: Dylan Harris and Eric Klebold, who killed 13 people in their high school in 1999 and wounded 21 others. Even as other ratcheted up the body count to an almost incomprehensible level, these two appear to be the last of the “names” when it comes to this violent ticket to fame.

Before them, it seemed we all could remember the names of people who killed and killed.

Dahmer.

John Wayne Gacy

Theodore Bundy

David Berkowitz

Charles Manson

Charles Whitman

The names were cultural touchstones. Maybe it was because we all got news from the same places or maybe it was because we used to repeat the names so often, we couldn’t forget them. Maybe it was because there were fewer of them or they had such weird shit associated with them (A cannibal, a clown, a “sex symbol,” a dog whisperer, a lunatic and a sharpshooter).

Or maybe it’s just a sad truism that our social attention span is so limited, we’re never going to commit these new names to memory unless we take the “Arya Stark Hooked on Phonics” approach to it.

Our goal is to always forget. We have to get past it. We have to press on. We have to get back into life. Clear the mechanism.

For them, it’s a desire to force us to remember them, like they’re heavily armed Heisenbergs just begging us to hold fast to their pathetic outburst. Rest assured, people do remember them. Some will never forget, like the families of the dead, the scores of wounded and the rest of us who wonder why yet get no answer.

They are in our minds, even if their names aren’t on the tips of our tongues. Constantly at first, until life presses them and their actions to a back corner of our consciousness so we can move on and forget and live again.

Until the next time.

Today on Tommy T’s Obsession with the KKK – getting in Dutch edition

I’m going to have to hire some staff.

The “Obsession” post today after this one was written first, but then this thing happened, and Ms. A gave me permission to post both. So – bonus “Obsession” today.

The Freeper stupidity just keeps coming and coming and coming.

This thread, however, is……………..special.

Car Runs into Crowd at White Nationalist Protest in Charlottesville Virginia [BREAKING NEWS]
US News Today ^ | Aug 12, 2017 | US News Today

Posted on 8/12/2017, 1:49:17 PM by dragnet2

Car plows into protesters during clashes at Unite the Right rally. Car Runs into Crowd at White Supremacist Protest in Charlottesville Virginia [BREAKING NEWS]

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

VIDEO at linkMultiple injuries

1 posted on 8/12/2017, 1:49:17 PM by dragnet2
First reaction is to deny that the murder was intentional:
To: dragnet2

 

Three car wreck at an intersection a block from the site of the protests.
Even the CNN announcers on your link say they don’t know if it was an accident or intentional.

5 posted on 8/12/2017, 1:53:51 PM by grey_whiskers (The opinions are solely those of the author and are subject to change without notice.)

To: dragnet2

 

Fox News is wondering if the car sped though the crowd because people were throwing objects at it (as it sped down the street) and that is why the driver was speeding therefore it must have been accidental…..

30 posted on 8/12/2017, 2:06:50 PM by pinkandgreenmom

To: grey_whiskers
Even the CNN announcers on your link say they don’t know if it was an accident or intentional. 

A video just surfaced showing the car driving down the side street as it was being bombarded with bottles, rocks and other debris by peaceful ANTIFA protesters.

In my opinion, it wasn’t intentional, it was self preservation………..

35 posted on 8/12/2017, 2:09:04 PM by Hot Tabasco
SELF DEFENSE !!!
Of course, we all know who’s REALLY behind this :
To: wastoute

 

The Southern Poverty Law Center is up to their beady little racist eyeballs in all of this.

7 posted on 8/12/2017, 1:55:01 PM by digger48

Bless your heart.
Of course, the Freepers have no doubt about the religion of the murderer self-defending patriot :
To: deks

 

Pajamahadeen on the case!

64 posted on 8/12/2017, 2:21:52 PM by silverleaf (We voted for change, not leftover change)

I can hardly wait for the “Allahu Snackbar” comments to start…
To: wastoute

 

Man, those Amish—you let them behind the wheel and all hell breaks loose…

247 posted on 8/12/2017, 3:31:12 PM by American Quilter (President Trump’s making good on his campaign promises–it’s morning in America!)

Close enough.
More below, as the Freeperati try to blame everyone from the Dutch to President Obama…

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Today on Tommy T’s Obsession with the Freeperati – Pete and re-Pete edition

Folks – this is going to be a quickie because frankly, Freeperville is caught in an endless loop.

I might as well just take last week’s Manila shooting “Obsession” and just set it to endlessly repost once a week.

Think I’m kidding?

‘Multiple fatalities’ in Orlando shooting, officials say
Fox News ^ | June 5, 2017

Posted on 6/5/2017, 8:25:15 AM by Zakeet

Police are investigating a shooting in Orlando Monday morning with “multiple fatalities,” officials said.

MASSIVE TRAFFIC backups along Forsyth Rd in Winter Park. OCSO working shooting investigation

1 posted on 6/5/2017, 8:25:16 AM by Zakeet
NumberOneAnswer
SURVEY SAYS….
To: Zakeet

 

Amish???

2 posted on 6/5/2017, 8:26:29 AM by mplc51

YodaBreedYouShouldNot
To: Zakeet

 

If this is terror, the SCOTUS should review and uphold the travel ban tomorrow.

3 posted on 6/5/2017, 8:28:18 AM by Rennes Templar (Morning in America Again, again.)
If it’s not “terror” you should review drinking a bottle of bleach.
To: Zakeet

 

Happy Ramadan Y’all!!

22 posted on 6/5/2017, 8:40:41 AM by Vaquero ( Don’t pick a fight with an old guy. If he is too old to fight, he’ll just kill you.)

I’ll just let Sybil take this one :
SybilFreepersFacebook
More after the you-know-what…

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Everything In The World

It was confirmed  this weekend that everything in the world is about Donald Trump. The London bombings were somehow about his immigration policies. I’m not sure how that works anywhere but in his tiny mind. The Insult Comedian also decided it was time to go another round with London Mayor Sadiq Khan. I call it kicking someone when they’re down, but it’s just another day for the WWE/reality teevee president*. Khan’s staff kicked back and got the best of the exchange. It’s usually easy to outargue idiots except in the minds of other idiots. Too many people are worried about placating those idiots. Fuck them.

I spent quite a bit of time in London when the IRA was still actively bombing British targets during The Troubles. I don’t recall people blaming all Catholics for the Provos terrorist campaign. I recall some bad Pat and Mike-style Irish jokes but no calls for internment. Most Brits don’t scare that easily: memories of the Blitz are part of their DNA. That old school stiff upper lip comes in mighty handy at times like this, eh wot? We’ll leave the bed wetting to Trump sycophant Nigel Farage.

Let’s not kid ourselves that Trump’s clumsy attempt to manipulate public opinion after a terrorist attack is anything new. The Bush-Cheney administration waved the bloody flag of 9/11 until the bitter end. It worked during the first term, but eventually people started tuning them out except the same idiots who take Trump seriously. Repeat after me: fuck them.

My favorite response to Trump’s twitter antics came from Never Trump Republican and WaPo columnist Jennifer Rubin:

One is prompted to ask if he is off his rocker. But this is vintage Trump — impulsive and cruel, without an ounce of class or human decency. His behavior no longer surprises us, but it should offend and disturb us, first, that he remains the face and voice of America in the world and, second, that his fans hoot and holler, seeing this as inconsequential or acceptable conduct.

You may recall that Ms Rubin was so pro-Romney in 2012 that we called her his girl friend. I’m not sure if the worm has turned or she woke up and smelled the coffee, but I take special delight in the Never Trump conservatives who refused to sell their souls to the Orange Devil. Most Republican office holders have been binge drinking Trump’s orange Kool-Aid. I eagerly await the hangover.

I officially apologize for the string of cliches in the previous paragraph. It’s what happens when you spend too much time analyzing the Darnold’s thought process. Besides, they worked; certainly harder than the golfer-in-chief.

Just remember, folks: it’s Trump’s world. We only live in it. Since Difford and Tilbrook provided the post title, Squeeze gets the last word:

Instant Update: Trump has attacked Mayor Khan again. The Mayor is, of course, trying to keep his people calm. The Insult Comedian prefers panic in the streets.

 

 

‘This is someone’s child’

It’s important to know that somebody fought back: 

“I was saying, ‘Creator – provide comfort to his family who don’t know you’re here,” she recalled.

An officer called out to her: “You did what you could, it’s time to come off the train.”

[snip]

The next night, Macy met Namkai-Meche’s mother and father at a vigil held by the train stop. She handed his father a purple-painted, heart-shaped rock, her prayer rock.  She said the victim’s parents thanked her for being with their son, telling her that she was “a mamma to our boy in that moment.”

Macy, a single mother of five children who rides the MAX to and from her community college courses at least three times a week, said she just did “what had to be done.”

“I just kept thinking this is someone’s child,” she said.

I read this right after Trump’s election, the idea that if you’re one of those people who loudly fantasizes about killing baby Hitler or whatever, you don’t need to go back in time to figure out who you would have been in the war. You’re in the war. Whatever you’re doing right now is what you would have done then.

(‘Twas ever thus, of course. The world has always been burning. I felt like this after 9/11, all those people talking about how a crisis made them realize what they wanted to be, like the fuck is wrong with you you don’t know what you want to be already? Sometimes my inner pissed-off 19-year-old gets the talking stick.)

So if you’re writing letters, calling reps, volunteering, working, creating spaces for people to think and breathe and be free, if you’re using your power to help others with less, if you’re trying every single day to be kind, to overcome paralysis and exhaustion and worry and reach out to someone else, if you’re doing even a little more than you think you can, that’s who you are in the war. You’re someone’s child too.

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.

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.

You Aren’t Safe

I read so many of those stories after 9/11 and they all made me insane, the stories about some asshole in a mall in Oklahoma saying that what had happened to New York had made him go back to church, or made her call her mother, or inspired them to go back to church or change into a complete pile of garbage and paint their chests red white and blue and beat up Sikh cab drivers.

If you needed 9/11 to teach you that you were not safe, the proper response was not to freak the fuck out, it was to thank God that you hadn’t had that lesson beat into you years ago, by your neighborhood or your country or your family or yourself.

The people who have the most cause to worry are not the ones who use that worry as an excuse to be gigantic babies: 

“The rest of the country is more paralyzed by the fear of terrorism,” said Mr. Grim, an attorney from Brooklyn. “People in New York understand there is risk.”

And anyway it’s useless, cats and kittens. The most important thing you can figure out is that it’s useless. The most important truth is we’re not safe, and we never were, and we never will be: 

Twenty refugee terrorists have attacked or attempted attacks, but they only managed to kill three people—all in the late 1970s before the creation of the modern refugee screening system. The annual chance of being killed in a terrorist attacked committed by refugees is one in 3.6 billion a year. Ten illegal immigrants were terrorists, but they only managed to kill one person—meaning your chance of dying in a terrorist attack committed by an illegal immigrant is one in 10.9 billion a year.

By comparison, your chance of being murdered by anyone is 1 in 14,000. In other words, your chance of being murdered is 253 times as great as dying in a terrorist attack committed by a foreigner on U.S. soil.

And it shouldn’t take a terrorist attack to remember that. It shouldn’t take a Sandy Hook to make you hug your kids. It shouldn’t take a guy getting pasted on the freeway to make you make sure the last thing you say to your spouse every single day is “I love you.” This isn’t me saying “live every day like it’s your last” or some cheap bullshit. This is me saying every day is somebody’s last and that person’s purpose is not to make you more or less scared.

It’s to do what we all are supposed to do, which is to be a fucking human being, and try to stay alive, and try to grow and change and push and love one another, and to rise up as high as we can. That’s the point of what we’re doing here. That’s all there is.

A.

Things That Began to Make Sense Again

It’s hard to remember, I wrote in the intro to the First Draft book, just how many people lost their entire minds right after 9/11. I was at work, and so was almost everyone I knew, and by the end of week 3 I was so exhausted of hearing stupid shit that I could barely speak to anyone. There were a couple of things that made immediate sense in a way that the sheltered columnists screaming about torture and the unemployed dimwits beating up shopkeepers couldn’t.

The first was this, which I try to post every year around this time: 

More people come to stand with us on the corner. People walk out into the street to look. The building on a hundred million postcards, panned past in establishing shots in a thousand movies, visible from my bedroom window growing up, has an angry jagged yell full of twisted steel and fire punched into its side. I don’t know what else to do, so I stand there, mouth agape, and stare at it. It seems like a particularly realistic CGI rendering in a movie trailer. I try to get my brain to deal with what my eyes are telling it, but it’s just not sinking in, and just then a hot fragment of something or other lands on my head, and I duck my head to shake it free, and as I do, I see a shirt cuff land gently on the sidewalk a few feet away. I stare at that, too. “Dude, look at that, this is seriously seriously bad,” I start to say to Bob, who’s digging in his bag for his tape recorder, but I don’t have time, because I’ve turned my attention back to the building again, and the building has chosen that moment to die.

The second was this, literally the only fictional treatment of that time I can remotely stand, that doesn’t feel treacly or false or too little or too loud:

(The later seasons, and honestly, the later episodes of the first season, went really fucking far off the rails but that first one was like oh, thank God, something makes sense again. When he asks the therapist where the grief counseling was for every time he lost someone on the job because that happens all the time … yeah.)

For the life of me I can’t remember his name, and linkrot has ensured I can’t find the story, but I was interviewing a standup comic maybe a month later and asked him about all those columns declaring triviality and humor basically over. I’ll never forget what he said. “Every day is somebody’s 9/11.”

A.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Wish You Were Here

Kirchner-strasse-in-der-daemmerung

Street In The Twilight by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner

First, a prologue. There’s been another horrendous terrorist attack in a beautiful place in a country that’s our oldest friend: Nice, France. The French Counsel General, Grégor Trumel, made the following remarks at a Bastille Day event at the New Orleans Museum of Art:

“I think more than ever we should stick to our values together — French people, American people,” he said, citing the national motto of France to hearty applause. “The words ‘liberté, égalité and fraternité’ are stronger than ever.”

Trumel led the crowd in a moment of silence and later, a rendition of the French national anthem, “La Marseillaise.” But before that, Trumel thanked supporters for attending the reception and reminded gatherers that France is not just a country, but an ideal.

“Perhaps for 5 seconds, 3 seconds, we thought that we could cancel the reception, but no — never,” he said. “Never. Never. It would be a victory for our enemies, and we should not compromise with violence, terror and horror.”

In the spirit advocated by Monsieur Trumel, let’s resume our regularly scheduled programming:

It’s been a less stressful week here in New Orleans. The weather remains blisteringly hot but we’ve had the odd bit of rain to cool things down and the tropics are quiet for the moment. Plus, the news from Red Stick may not be good but it’s not as bad as last week at this time. It will simply have to do.

I watched Hillary-Berniepalooza this week. It went fairly well. Bernie was scowling at the beginning but, eventually, warmed to his task. It had the hardcore Dudebros squealing like stuck pigs, which warmed the cockles of my heart whatever the hell those are. Watching it, I realized that if I were casting an actor to play Bernie it wouldn’t be Larry David (who can only play himself) but Walter Matthau circa Neil Simon’s The Sunshine Boys:

Walter Meme

You’ll have to see the movie or play to get the running “enter” gag. Y’all should see it anyway. Have I mentioned lately how much I love Neil Simon? The man knew his way around a joke. His work has become somewhat overlooked. It’s a crime, I tell ya.

Let’s move on to this week’s theme song. I’ve picked two repeat artists, Nick Lowe and Pink Floyd, with different songs with the same title. Nick’s song features the great Paul Carrack on second lead vocal and is pretty darn chipper. The more famous Pink Floyd tune is wistful but awesome nonetheless.

Now that I’ve alternatively pepped you up and gloomed you out, it’s time for the abominable showman to take a bow and go to the break.

Continue reading

Speaking Of Dictators

It’s no secret that Donald Trump loves dictators. He’s a Putin praisin’ motherfucker and yesterday he batted his beady, rat-like eyes at a dead dictator. You know, the guy that tried to have Poppy Bush whacked:

“Saddam Hussein was a bad guy. Right? He was a bad guy, really bad guy,” Trump offered as a disclaimer. “But you know what he did well? He killed terrorists. He did that so good. They didn’t read them the rights—they didn’t talk, they were a terrorist, it was over.”

It’s a classic Insult Comedian formulation: a disclaimer followed by the crazy. I realize that he’s not a fan of due process under the law but the only possible good thing to say about Saddam Hussein is that, in between going to war with Iran and Kuwait, he was kinda sorta a force for regional stability. So sad to say that. So sad.

I’m not sure what audience Trump is trying to appeal to here. The neo-cons like torture but hate Saddam Hussein and the so-called Republican neo-doves aren’t crazy about either. It’s just the sort of dick waving that appeals to GOP primary voters but bombs in the general election. Repeat after me: so much for the Trump pivot.

In other Trump loves dictators news, there’s a fine piece by Franklin Foer at Slate about the Donald’s interactions with the Russians over the years. The title, Putin’s Puppet, is a bit hysterical but the content and analysis are rock solid. The Russians have been flattering Trump for years and Putin, as a good KGB man, has been doing likewise. It turns out that he’s supporting a bunch of right-wing nationalists throughout Europe. His goal is to undermine the EU and NATO as well as the US in order to increase Russian influence. During the Cold War, the KGB subsidized left-wingers but as we all know the line between far left and far right can be a thin and frayed one.

The most interesting section concerns the ties between Team Trump and Russian oligarchs:

While Putin hasn’t dirtied his hands in American elections, the Russians have cultivated Washington—hiring fancy firms to craft strategy, donating money to think tanks, building a small coterie of wonks sympathetic to their leader’s view of the world. The Trump campaign is the unlikely culmination of this effort. It has been a magnet for like-minded fans of Putin. Fans might not be quite the right term, since so many of these advisers have profited from proxies of the Russian state.

Let’s begin at the top. Trump’s campaign manager is a wizened operative named Paul Manafort. It’s true that Manafort is a mercenary by trade. His old Washington consulting firm pioneered the practice of representing the dictators of the world, no matter their grim record. (I profiled his authoritarian ambit earlier this year.) Late in his career, however, Manafort dedicated himself to working on behalf of clients close to the Kremlin. His grand achievement was reviving the doomed career of the anti-charismatic politician Viktor Yanukovych. Manafort’s image-crafting and shrewd strategy culminated in Yanukovych’s election to Ukraine’s presidency in 2010. Thanks to Manafort’s handiwork, Ukraine pulled into Putin’s sphere of influence. Unlike other American consultants who flitted in and out of Kiev, Manafort set up camp there. He became an essential adviser to the president—his tennis partner even.

If Manafort were the only Kremlin connection in the Trump campaign, his presence might signify nothing. But he’s hardly isolated. Many pundits have scoffed at the idea that Trump has a circle of foreign policy advisers given that his initial list of gurus emerged abruptly in March and included names unknown to most experts. Yet the list suggests certain tendencies. One of the supposed Trump whisperers was an investment banker named Carter Page. During a stint in Moscow in the 2000s, he advised the state-controlled natural gas giant, Gazprom and helped it attract Western investors.  (In March, Page told Bloomberg that he continues to own shares in the company.) Page has defended Russia with relish. He wrote a column explicitly comparing the Obama administration’s Russia policy to chattel slavery in the American South. His reasoning: “Numerous quotes from the February 2015 National Security Strategy closely parallel an 1850 publication that offered guidance to slaveholders on how to produce the ‘ideal slave.’ ”

That’s some nice company the Insult Comedian keeps. Foer’s article rises above its click-baity headline to pose some serious questions. Check it out.

Speaking of people who moved from the far left to the far right, I watched a thing about Mussolini at Amazon the other day. It’s a British series called History’s Verdict that takes a historiological look at various participants in World War II. The episode about Il Duce featured some pictures that may have inspired Putin’s shirtless exploits. I give you the Vlad and Benito show:

Putin comp.preview

Putin-Mussolini

I hope Trump has no plans for any beefcake shots. The mere thought could gag a maggot.

That is all.

 

All the Times Nothing Happens

I started a new job in April, one that necessitates my taking the L downtown each day. I’ve been riding the train off and on since we moved here, and never had a problem except when with out-of-town friends or family members who already think I am about to be raped and murdered every day here in the urban hellhole.

Like I bring my mom on the very touristy Red Line, and of course that day there’s a guy peeing off the end of the platform and singing.

Yesterday the train was crowded, rush hour bodies crammed next to one another as we all tried not to notice the closeness and the coffee breath and the summer sweat. I could see, over a young woman’s shoulder, that she was reading Game of Thrones. Beside her a little girl was reading Harry Potter.

At every platform, we crushed in closer.

If you thought about what holds the world up, you’d go stark raving mad inside a second.

Passengers on the train called 911 to report the stabbing, and an officer was already near the 47th Street Red Line stop as the train pulled up, CPD spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said.

The suspect stepped off the train, saw the officer and surrendered, Guglielmi said.

Police still are conferring with prosecutors on charges. The weapon was recovered at the scene.

It’s not how often something happens here, I tell out of town friends and family. It’s how often something doesn’t. We gather in ways that would make us targets all the time here. Every morning commute is the next packed nightclub floor. Anyone with a gun could … anyone with a bomb could … anyone with a knife.

This many people, this close together, this often, and nine times out of ten the worst thing that happens is someone’s wallet gets lifted.

I’ve seen musicians jam on the train, total strangers dancing along. I’ve seen a whole car, Mr. A included, get involved in an argument about the precise ethnicity of Jesus, and collectively ignore a ranting panhandler into calming down, and help a woman whose stroller got stuck in the gap between the car and the steps. People have offered me water when I was hot and when it’s below zero everyone huddles under the warming lights and makes the why the hell do we live here face.

This isn’t me saying it isn’t that bad. It’s me saying that we exist in a state of fragile truce, at all times. If you thought about it too much, if you saw it moving past you, you wouldn’t be able to stand it.

We exist, in this country, in every country, in inescapable interdependence. Contact is inevitable, leading to information bleed. I make accommodations, every day, for others. So do you. We do it without knowing it, looking past things, moving over, bending down.

What happens if that just stops?

This happens:

The first time I watched that video I looked at the two assholes yelling abuse at a dark-skinned man, in front of a woman wearing a hijab.

The second time I watched it, I looked at everyone else.

Yelling back. Saying stop. Saying this a disgrace. Saying that’s not fair. Saying that’s not right. Saying we’re not like this.

And it’s easy to say we are, because we are. I know the same Trump supporters you know. I’m a middle-class white chick and I don’t know all of the America you know, but three days after 9/11 I saw unemployed shitheads paint their chests red, white and blue and yell about “dune coons” up and down the street, and threaten good people, and do more than threaten.

It’s not that we’re not like this. It’s that we’re like this. And we’re like the people who yell back, too.

A.

Still Comfortably Numb Revisited

It’s happened again; another atrocity. This time it’s a hate crime with a terrorist gloss. The depressing mass shooting ritual continues. That means it’s time to revisit a post I wrote after the San Bernardino shootings last December because we’re Still Comfortably Numb: 

In my first month at First Draft in 2009, I revisited a post I wrote for my eponymous blog on July 13, 2006. It was one of my rare lucid moments as a blogger as I compared post-K New Orleans to the grand finale of Great Expectations. I borrowed the title from Pink Floyd, Comfortably Numb. It struck me this morning that this theme was eerily applicable to the seemingly endless string of mass shootings we’ve had this year. Here’s a sample of the 2006 post:

Syd Barrett’s death got me thinking in Pink Floyd song titles. A scary concept, I know. Careful With That Axe, Eugene didn’t fit the situation here in NOLA but one title nailed it: Comfortably Numb from The Wall. Comfortably numb describes the state of our political, judicial and socio-economic systems here pre-K. We were muddling through at all levels but as long as we were comfortable, we were numb.

Then came Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent federal flood, which, by analogy, was to New Orleans what the last part of Great Expectations by Charles Dickens was to Pip the hero of the novel. Pip had always thought that the bitter recluse Miss Havisham had been his financial benefactor. He was wrong. His real patron was Magwich, an escaped convict turned magnate whom Pip had helped while a child.

<snip>

How does this apply to NOLA? Miss Havisham is a perfect symbol of the city. For years, we allowed our city to rot and decay and instead of trying to do something about it, we turned to drama, drugs, booze, food and apathy. If I had a hundred dollar bill for every time I’ve heard “you can’t change fill in the blank it’s New Orleans,” I’d be as rich as Pip’s portly solicitor, Mr. Jaggers. I’ve heard that line applied to government, litter, crime, you name it; it’s the catchall excuse. The city and its people were all comfortably numb.

That’s where we find ourselves in regard to mass shootings in our country: we’re comfortably numb. They happen so often that they’ve become routine. President Obama urges us to not treat them as such, and he’s right as a matter of policy, but it’s human nature to seek a safe haven.  Being comfortably numb helps ease the horror of events like the San Bernardino massacre.

One worrisome thing that happens after each of these dreadful event is the ritualistic response of various segments of society. As Athenae so eloquently pointed out last night, Republican politicians make a ritual of calling for prayers for the victims. The NRA, and the people who value the abstraction that is the Second Amendment, talk about mental illness and how much safer the world would be if all the good guys were armed to the teeth. Right thinking people who *want* to do something to stop the carnage advocate new gun control measures, which are automatically rejected by the Second Amendment purists and nothing happens. This post-massacre ritual/routine is the clearest indication that we’re still comfortably numb.

Another worrisome thing is how easy it is to divide mass shootings into genres as if they were movies. The slaughter in Southern California *could* be slotted into the workplace massacre genre also known as “going postal.” Since the perpetrators were Muslims with Arab names, the flying banshees of the Right *assume* that it’s Daesh/ISIL/Al-Qaeda related terrorism. We simply do not know the motives of the shooters at this point. We *do* know that it doesn’t fit into the following mass shooting genres: schools, health care clinics, shopping malls, fast food eateries; the variations seem to be horrifically endless. It’s no wonder that people want to crawl in bed and hide under the covers. It’s why we remain either comfortably or uncomfortably numb after each of these attacks.

I’m like everybody else: I just want the slaughter to stop. It’s clearly ridiculous for civilians to have military-style assault weapons, but in a country where a police union has advocated armed football fans such a reasonable goal seems unobtainable. One thing that would help the national discourse on this subject is for us to stop reacting ritualistically and stop slotting the shootings into genres. No wonder we’re comfortably numb: we can pigeonhole the latest atrocity and move on.

David Chase used a Roger Waters-Van Morrison version of Comfortably Numb as the soundtrack for the worst thing Tony ever did on The Sopranos: using a car wreck as an excuse to murder Christopher Moltisanti. Christopher popped the soundtrack of Scorsese’s The Departed into the CD player, which triggered the accident and Tony’s actions. After killing Christopher, Tony resorted to a string of rationalizations as to why it was the right gangster thing to do. He was never quite the same thereafter: becoming an even darker and more ruthless character as well as-you guessed it-comfortably numb. Let’s hope that life doesn’t imitate The Sopranos in this instance and we can move past our numbness in a constructive manner. I am, however, not optimistic. We’re all still comfortably numb.

Can We Stop Speaking for The Terrorists?

Shut up, Tom Friedman: 

Appearing on Imus in the Morning Tuesday, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman told host Don Imus that he believes that Islamic State wants Donald Trump to win the presidency.

“The bad guys know just what they’re doing,” Friedman said. “They wanted [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu] because that would radicalize the situation even more. And I fear that ISIS will believe that Trump would radicalize the situation even more.”

I don’t actually think it’s okay to speculate about who ISIS wants to be president. Because first of all, ISIS wants to be president, itself, and second, if ISIS is not happy with our present Seekrit Muslim Kenyan I doubt they will be happy with a racist ear of corn like Trump.

Third, it’s just dumb and gross and lazy. It was dumb and gross and lazy when people were yelling that Bin Laden and Kerry had secret handshakes and it was dumb and gross and lazy when people were yelling that McCain and al Qaeda had secret handshakes and the only proper response to the idea that terrorists favor one candidate over another is WHO THE FUCK CARES WHAT THEY WANT THEY ARE NOT THE BOSSES OF US.

We can argue all day long whose policies would benefit terrorists who prey on the weak and the poor, but quite honestly more people are dying here every day of preventable diseases and poverty and violence so when we are done with which presidential candidate the American terrorists are excited about, we can then rule out the candidate overseas terrorists want, too.

A.

What’s On the Table for This Fight

SHUT UP, PACK YOUR THINGS, AND GET OUT, RON JOHNSON: 

Johnson praised the passengers of United Flight 93 while addressing the Wisconsin Republican Party on Saturday, saying that it was “American” of them to hold a vote before confronting hijackers and taking down the plane on 9/11, The Associated Press reported.

“November 2016 we’ll be taking a vote. We’ll be encouraging our fellow citizens to take a vote,” Johnson said, as quoted by the AP. “Now, it may not be life and death, like the vote passengers on United Flight 93 took, but boy is it consequential.”

Johnson said Monday in an interview with local radio station WTMJ that he’s told the story “dozens of times” because it inspires him to “keep moving forward, to never give up on this country.”

“I used my unique contact with the finest among us and visiting them in Walter Reed and the inspiration they provide, and the inspiration provided by these heroes of 9/11 who — who — knew that their plane had been turned into a weapon, OK, but still took the vote,” he said.

Doc and I were talking this weekend about stuff that idiot political pundits do, like comparing elections to wars or declaring everything to be “a Katrina” or talking about welfare policy as if it was a hypothetical scenario being run on a computer instead of the actual way people need to feed their babies.

And there’s a lot that goes into that, the isolation and the echo chamber and the idea that if you are a moderately well off political person you mostly deal with other moderately well off political people and not with, say, poor people who are actually affected by your snide shit. But what I kept coming back to was the idea that some things are not fair game for the fight you are having.

The fight you are having, about whether you can Appear To Be Serious, is not about real things. 9/11 involved lots of real dead people and it didn’t happen primarily to give meaning to the life of Ron Johnson, the creature. 9/11 and the people who died are not yours, to pull out so as to make clear your “unique contact” (so much going to fuck yourself, pal) and impress us all with your depth of feeling.

(I remember being in an idiot newsmeeting after 9/11 where we all pitched stories about the ongoing collapse of the entire world, and this very earnest girl stood up and said that we should be writing about people going back to church because she had gone back to church, because the pile of ash in lower Manhattan had given her life so much more meaning.

Which was a lot of pressure to put on New York, just at that moment. To give meaning to this girl’s life. Like, they had enough to do just then, so get in line.)

I fully believe Ron Johnson is genuinely too dumb to understand what fight he’s having, much less parse out what you get to slap on the table during it. His moronic comments are symptomatic of a political class that has lost touch not just with “real America” or whatever we’re calling this country’s vanishing middle class, but with the idea that politics is more than social experiment theater. There is a human cost to the examples you cite, so if you’re going to say what you’re doing is like storming the beaches at Normandy you’d better be under some serious artillery fire.

If all you’re doing is running a craptastic, inept campaign for re-election, maybe don’t make out like you’re Shackleton at the Pole.

A.