Friday, June 26th, 2020

I hate to be a Debbie Downer, but “Trump cannot lie his way out of a pandemic. And the pandemic keeps reminding him of that” is not a hot take I can gin up a lot of enthusiasm for. Call him a two-bit grifter all you want, but he did in fact bullshit his way into the highest office in the land. I don’t admire his ability or hold it up as an example to be imitated; I’m only acknowledging he has a history of failure after failure, and after each one, he has lied his way back into a position of power. He’s proven he can effectively lie his way out of any debacle he’s ever been involved in.

There’s the tiniest chance the pandemic might possibly turn out to be the one huge fuckup he can’t lie his way out of, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

damn lies | 6:20 am CDT
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Tuesday, June 9th, 2020

Trump graduated from grumpy old codger and joined the tinfoil hat brigade today when he tweeted: “Buffalo protester shoved by Police could be an ANTIFA provocateur. 75 year old Martin Gugino was pushed away after appearing to scan police communications in order to black out the equipment. @OANN I watched, he fell harder than was pushed. Was aiming scanner. Could be a set up?”

Trump referred to an incident caught on video in which a protester was roughly pushed aside when he approached a line of advancing police officers wearing riot gear. He had a phone in his hand, which Trump apparently thought was a “scanner.”

The protester lost his balance and fell to the ground, cracking his head on the pavement. One police officer turned and reached for the protester as if to help, but another officer in line hustled him along. The image of police stepping over a 75-year-old man lying on the pavement bleeding his wounds triggered outrage that Trump apparently couldn’t help commenting on.

If a friend of mine tweeted stuff like this, I’d take him aside and say, “Dude, this is the kind of talk doctors combat with powerful antipsychotic drugs. You need to tone it down.” And if he didn’t, he wouldn’t be my friend any more.

tinfoil hat | 6:00 pm CDT
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Monday, June 1st, 2020

Well holy shit. The president went on television this evening to announce his intention to be the boss of everything. “Mayors and governors must establish an overwhelming law enforcement presence until the violence has been quelled,” he decreed. “If a city or state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them.” As he spoke, a small army of police cleared away the protesters gathered outside the gates of the White House, beating them with shields and firing flash-bang grenades and tear gas into the crowd, which someone had arranged to display on a split screen with Trump, I guess so he would look very, very powerful. After the crowds and tear gas disbursed, Trump marched through Lafayette Park in what I assume he thought was a manly way (former Wisconsin governor Scott Walker praised Trump as “gutsy” on Twitter in what I can only assume was some carefully arranged bootlicking), even though the path Trump took was bracketed by police in riot gear standing shoulder-to-shoulder and he was of course surrounded by Secret Service agents. At the other side of the park, Trump posed in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church holding a bible and scowling for the cameras, looking very much like a Jon McNaughton painting. Five bucks says McNaughton paints exactly that picture before the end of the week.

In response to Trump gassing American citizens in America’s capitol city, Nancy Pelosi and Charles Schumer released a joint statement, mostly a lot of “we must do better blah blah blah.” The only part that directly addressed Trump’s strongman act was: “We call upon the President, law enforcement and all entrusted with responsibility to respect the dignity and rights of all Americans.” Oh, yeah. Way to go, Democratic ‘leadership.’ I’m sure that made a yuge impression on Trump.

Schumer and Pelosi could learn a thing or two about righteous anger from a rector at St. John’s who was ministering to the protesters at the time the police attacked them with shields raised: “WE WERE DRIVEN OFF OF THE PATIO AT ST. JOHN’S – a place of peace and respite and medical care throughout the day – SO THAT MAN COULD HAVE A PHOTO OPPORTUNITY IN FRONT OF THE CHURCH!!! PEOPLE WERE HURT SO THAT HE COULD POSE IN FRONT OF THE CHURCH WITH A BIBLE! HE WOULD HAVE HAD TO STEP OVER THE MEDICAL SUPPLIES WE LEFT BEHIND BECAUSE WE WERE BEING TEAR GASSED!!!! I am ok. But I am now a force to be reckoned with.”

The rector, Gini Gerbasi, posted her description on Facebook of the event from her point of view:

“Friends, I am ok, but I am, frankly shaken. I was at St. John’s, Lafayette Square most of the afternoon, with fellow clergy and laypeople – and clergy from some other denominations too. We were passing out water and snacks, and helping the patio area at St. John’s, Lafayette square to be a place of respite and peace. All was well – with a few little tense moments – until about 6:15 or so. By then, I had connected with the Black Lives Matter medic team, which was headed by an EMT. Those people were AMAZING. They had been on the patio all day, and thankfully had not had to use much of the eyewash they had made. Around 6:15 or 6:30, the police started really pushing protestors off of H Street (the street between the church and Lafayette Park, and ultimately, the White House. They started using tear gas and folks were running at us for eyewashes or water or wet paper towels. At this point, Julia, one of our seminarians for next year (who is a trauma nurse) and I looked at each other in disbelief. I was coughing, her eyes were watering, and we were trying to help people as the police – in full riot gear – drove people toward us. Julia and her classmates left and I stayed with the BLM folks trying to help people. Suddenly, around 6:30, there was more tear gas, more concussion grenades, and I think I saw someone hit by a rubber bullet – he was grasping his stomach and there was a mark on his shirt. The police in their riot gear were literally walking onto the St. John’s, Lafayette Square patio with these metal shields, pushing people off the patio and driving them back. People were running at us as the police advanced toward us from the other side of the patio. We had to try to pick up what we could. The BLM medic folks were obviously well practiced. They picked up boxes and ran. I was so stunned I only got a few water bottles and my spray bottle of eyewash. We were literally DRIVEN OFF of the St. John’s, Lafayette Square patio with tear gas and concussion grenades and police in full riot gear. We were pushed back 20 feet, and then eventually – with SO MANY concussion grenades – back to K street. By the time I got back to my car, around 7, I was getting texts from people saying that Trump was outside of St. John’s, Lafayette Square. I literally COULD NOT believe it. WE WERE DRIVEN OFF OF THE PATIO AT ST. JOHN’S – a place of peace and respite and medical care throughout the day – SO THAT MAN COULD HAVE A PHOTO OPPORTUNITY IN FRONT OF THE CHURCH!!! PEOPLE WERE HURT SO THAT HE COULD POSE IN FRONT OF THE CHURCH WITH A BIBLE! HE WOULD HAVE HAD TO STEP OVER THE MEDICAL SUPPLIES WE LEFT BEHIND BECAUSE WE WERE BEING TEAR GASSED!!!!

I am deeply shaken. I did not see any protestors throw anything until the tear gas and concussion grenades started, and then it was mostly water bottles. I am shaken, not so much by the taste of tear gas and the bit of a cough I still have, but by the fact that that show of force was for a PHOTO OPPORTUNITY. The patio of St. John’s, Lafayette square had been HOLY GROUND today. A place of respite and laughter and water and granola bars and fruit snacks. But that man turned it into a BATTLE GROUND first, and a cheap political stunt second. I am DEEPLY OFFENDED on behalf of every protestor, every Christian, the people of St. John’s, Lafayette square, every decent person there, and the BLM medics who stayed with just a single box of supplies and a backpack, even when I got too scared and had to leave. I am ok. But I am now a force to be reckoned with.”

“My fellow Americans, my first and highest duty as president is to defend our great country and the American people. I swore an oath to uphold the laws of our nation, and that is exactly what I will do. All Americans were rightly sickened and revolted by the brutal death of George Floyd. My administration is fully committed that, for George and his family, justice will be served. He will not have died in vain. But we cannot allow the righteous cries of peaceful protesters to be drowned out by an angry mob. The biggest victims are the peace-loving citizens in our poorest communities, and as their president, I will fight to keep them safe. I will fight to protect you. I am your president of law and order and an ally of all peaceful protesters, but in recent days our nation has been gripped by professional anarchists, violent mobs, arsonists, looters, criminals, rioters, antifa, and others. A number of state and local governments have failed to take necessary action to safeguard their residents. Innocent people have been savagely beaten, like the young man in Dallas, Texas, who was left dying on the street, or the woman in upstate New York, viciously attacked by dangerously thugs. Small business owners have seen their dreams utterly destroyed. New York’s finest have been hit in the face with bricks. Brave nurses, who have battled the virus, are afraid to leave their homes. A police precinct has been overrun. Here, in the nation’s capitol, the Lincoln Memorial and the World War Two memorial have been vandalized. One of our most historic churches was set ablaze. A federal officer in California, an African-American enforcement hero, was shot and killed. These are not acts of peaceful protest; these are acts of domestic terror. The destruction of innocent life and the spilling of innocent blood is an offense to humanity and a crime against god. America needs creation, not destruction; cooperation, not contempt; security, not anarchy; healing, not hatred; justice, not chaos. This is our mission, and we will succeed, one-hundred percent. We will succeed; our country always wins. That is why I am taking immediate presidential action to stop the violence and restore security and safety in America. I am mobilizing all available federal resources, civilian and military, to stop the rioting and looting, to end the destruction and arson, and to protect the rights of law-abiding Americans, including your second-amendment rights. Therefore, the following measures are going into effect immediately: First, we are ending the riots and lawlessness that has spread throughout our country. We will end it now. Today, I have strongly recommended to every governor to deploy the national guard in sufficient numbers, that we dominate the streets. Mayors and governors must establish an overwhelming law enforcement presence until the violence has been quelled. If a city or state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them. I am also taking swift and decisive action to protect our great capitol, Washington D.C. What happened in the city last night was a total disgrace. As we speak, I am dispatching thousands and thousands of heavily-armed soldiers, military personnel, and law enforcement officers to stop the rioting, looting, assaults, and the wanton destruction of property. We are putting everybody on warning: Our seven o’clock curfew will be strictly enforced. Those who threaten innocent life and property will be arrested, detained, and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. I want the organizers of this terror to be on notice that you will face severe criminal penalties and lengthy sentences in jail. This includes antifa and others who are leading instigators of this violence. One law and order – and that is what it is: One law; we have one beautiful law, and once that is restored and fully restored, we will help you, we will help your business, and we will help your family. America is founded upon the rule of law. It is the foundation of our prosperity, our freedom, and our very way of life. But where there is no law, there is no opportunity; where there is no justice, there is no liberty; where there is no safety, there is no future. We must never give in to anger or hatred. If malice or violence reigns, then none of us is free. I take these actions today with firm resolve and with a true and passionate love for our country. By far, our greatest days lie ahead. Thank you very much. And now, I’m going to pay my respects to a very, very special place.”

one step closer | 8:15 pm CDT
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Saturday, May 30th, 2020

Memorial to George Floyd in Berlin, Germany

Every day I wake up, the first thought in my head is, How did we get here? How did white people become so unashamedly racist? And I have to conclude: We were always this racist. Same as our government. Trump is nothing new. The bureaucracy was always this corrupt. The racism, as the saying goes, is baked in. The system isn’t broken; it was designed to work this way.

we always were | 10:41 am CDT
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Monday, May 11th, 2020

Weijia Wang, correspondent for CBS News: “You’ve said many times that the U.S. is doing far better than any other country when it comes to testing. Why does that matter? Why is it a global competition to you if, every day, Americans are losing their lives and we’re still seeing more cases every day?”

Trump: “Well, they’re losing their lives everywhere in the world, and maybe that’s a question you should ask China. Don’t ask me, ask China that question, okay? When you ask them that question, you may get a very unusual answer. Yes, behind you, please.”

Wang: “Sir, why are you saying that to me, specifically, than I should ask China?”

Trump: “I’m telling you. I’m not saying it specifically to anybody. I’m saying it to anybody that would ask a nasty question like that.”

specifically | 5:41 pm CDT
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Saturday, May 2nd, 2020

There is no way she is not aware of the significance of this phrase.

There is perhaps the tiniest of chances she is unaware that Governor J.B. Pritzker is Jewish, but given the significance of the phrase, I would not believe her if she said she didn’t know that.

anti-lockdown protester holds a sign reading ARBEIT MACHT FREI

significance | 6:43 am CDT
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Thursday, April 30th, 2020

The U.S. Code of Federal Regulations defines terrorism as “the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives” (28 C.F.R. Section 0.85)

A tightly packed crowd of protesters, some carrying rifles, attempted to enter the floor of the legislative chamber, and were held back by a line of state police and capitol staff, according to video footage posted by local journalists.

One Democratic state lawmaker posted a photograph of men with rifles standing in a gallery yelling down at lawmakers below. “Some of my colleagues who own bullet proof vests are wearing them,” the state senator Dayna Polehanki wrote on Twitter.

“Armed protesters demonstrate against Covid-19 lockdown at Michigan capitol,” Lois Beckett writing in The Guardian, 4/30/2020

 

Michigan terrorists | 12:44 pm CDT
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Friday, April 24th, 2020

So
supposing we hit the body

with a tremendous
whether its ultraviolet
or just very powerful light
and

(I think you said
that hasn’t been checked
but you’re going to test it)

and then I said
supposing you brought the light inside the body
which you can do
either through the skin
or in some other way
and

(I think you said
you’re going to test that, too)
sounds interesting
right

and then I see
the disinfectant
where it knocks it out in a minute
one minute
and
is there a way we can do something like that
by injection inside
or
almost a cleaning

because you see it gets on the lungs
and it does a tremendous number on the lungs
so it would be interesting to check that
so that

you’re going to have to use medical doctors
but it sounds
it sounds interesting to me
so we’ll see

but the whole concept of the light
the way it kills it in one minute
that’s pretty powerful

trumpoem #10 | 12:52 pm CDT
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Monday, April 13th, 2020

I sincerely believed I would not live long enough to hear a president of the United States declare he has the absolute power to tell the individual states what they could and could not do.

Q: What provision in the constitution gives the president the power to open or close state economies, and then —

Trump: Numerous provisions. We’ll give you a legal brief, if you want.

Q: What happens if you say, ‘We want states to reopen’ but California or New York do not open?

Trump: Well, I think everyone wants to open. I guess, you know, that could happen, but I don’t think that would happen.

Q: It’s been states that have ordered schools to close, it’s been state that have ordered businesses like restaurants —

Trump: That’s because I let that happen, because I would have preferred that. I let that happen. But, if I wanted to, I could have closed it up. But I let that happen. And I like the way they’ve done it. And the seven that remained in a sort of semi-lockdown, if you look at those states, they’ve really done a very good job. They’re very much different from a New York, or from other places where they’ve been hit very hard.

Q: There are two consortiums of states today – California, Oregon, Washington on the west coast, northeastern states – in total representing one-hundred million people, who’ve said they’re going to cooperate and decide when to reopen —

Trump: Well, they can decide —

Q: Does that underminee what you’re trying to do?

Trump: No, not at all. Let me just tell you very simply, I’m going to put it very simply: The president of the United States has the authority to do what the president has the authority to do, which is very powerful. The president of the United States calls the shots. If we weren’t here for the states, you would’ve had a problem in this country like you’ve never seen before. We were here to back them up, and we more than backed them up. We did a job that nobody ever thought was possible. It’s a decision for the president of the United States. Now, with that being said, we’re going to work with the states, because it’s very important. You have local governments, they’re pinpointed; it’s really, you talk about, it’s like a microchip, they’re pinpointed. We have local government that hopefully will do a good job, and if they don’t do a good job I would step in so fast but, no, they can’t do anything without the approval of the president of the United States.

Q: Just to clarify your understanding of your authority, vis-a-vis governors, just to be very specific, for instance, if a governor issued a stay-at-home order —

Trump: When you say, ‘my authority’ – the president’s authority, not mine; because it’s not me. This is, when somebody’s the president of the United States, the authority is total. And that’s the way it’s got to be. It’s total.

Q: Your authority’s total?

Trump: It’s total. And the governors know that. You have a couple of bands —

Q: If a governor issues a stay-at-home order, could you rescind that order?

Trump: You have a couple of bands of ‘democrat’ governors, but they will agree to it. They will agree to it. But the authority of the president of the United States, having to do with the subject we’re talking about, is total.

Q: You said, when someone is president of the United States, their authority is total. That is not true. Who told you that is true?

Trump: Okay, you know what we’re going to do? We’re going to write up papers on this. It’s not going to be necessary, because the governors need us, one way or the other, because, ultimately, it comes with the federal government. That being said, we’re getting along very well with the governors, and I feel very certain that there won’t be a problem.

Q: Has any governor agreed that you have the authority to decide when their state opens back up?

Trump: I haven’t asked anybody, because I don’t — you know why? Because I don’t have to.

Q: But who told you that the president has the president has total authority?

Trump: Enough.

Q: On this question of constitutionality, I’m just wondering what changed your view, because —

Trump: No, nothing changed it. I know exactly what you’re going to say. Nothing changed it. The fact that I want to rely on states, or maybe will, or maybe have, and the fact that we’ve got — that’s one thing. The fact that I don’t want to use the power, that’s another thing.

Q: But you said, from the standpoint of the constitution, you thought it should to be up to the governors —

Trump: Yes, constitutionally, constitutionally, you can look at constitutionally, you can look at federalism, you could look at it any different way. John, the fact that I don’t want to exert my power is much different. We have the power. You asked, ‘Does the federal government have the power?’ The federal government has absolute power. It has the power. As to whether or not I’ll use that power, we’ll see. I would rather, John, I would rather work with the states because I like going down to a local government. That’s why with, I guess it’s now seven states, not eight, because South Carolina did you know they went away from what we discussed the last time, so that’s why I looked at the individual states. They’re doing a very good job, they’re really doing a very good job. I’d rather have them make the decision. Now, the fact that I’d rather have, that’s fine. But I have the absolute right to do, if I want to. I may not want to.

And just to put the icing on the cake, the vice president agrees with the president:

Q: It sounds like you think his power is a little more circumscribed than ‘total?’

Pence: In the long history of this country, the authority of the president of the United States during national emergencies is unquestionably plenary [complete power; without limitations; absolute].

I will not sleep well tonight. I’m not sure I will ever again.

tin pot | 9:19 pm CDT
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Monday, April 6th, 2020

tremendous strides have been made
I think

the vaccines
we’ll have a report of that
but the vaccines

working together with other countries
we’re also working with other countries
many other countries
and we all want everyone else to be first

we’re very happy
but we are very far down the line on vaccines
we’ll see how that all works
Johnson & Johnson’s doing a great job
working very hard

a vaccine would be great therapy
a therapy
therapeutics would be great
we’ll see what happens

in the meantime
you may listen to what I said
about the two drugs mentioned


#TrumPoems are 100% verbatim, straight from the horse’s mouth – this one comes from yesterday’s press briefing. Now, maybe that’s correct, maybe it’s false; you’re going to have to check it out.

Trumpoem #9 | 6:21 am CDT
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Sunday, April 5th, 2020

Trump, selling a new kind of snake oil at tonight’s press briefing:

The other thing that we bought a tremendous amount of is the hydroxychloroquine, hydroxychloroquine, which I think, as you know, it’s a great malaria drug; it’s worked unbelievably; it’s a powerful drug on malaria and there are signs that it works on this, some very strong signs; and in the meantime, it’s been around a long time; it also works very powerfully on lupus, lupus, so there are some very strong, powerful signs; we’ll have to see because again it’s being tested; now, this is a new thing that just happened to us, the invisible enemy, we call it, and if you can, if you have a, uh, no sign of heart problems, the azithromycin, azithromycin, which will kill certain things that you don’t want living within your body, it’s a powerful drug if you don’t have a problem, a heart problem we would say; let your doctor think about it but, as a combination I think they’re going to be, I think they’re two things that should be looked at very strongly; now, we have purchased, and we have stockpiled, 29 million pills of the hydroxychloroquine, 29 million; a lot of drug stores have them by prescription and, also, and, they’re not expensive; also, we’re sending them to various labs, our military, we’re sending them to the hospitals, we’re sending them all over; I just think it’s something, you know the expression, I’ve used it for certain reasons: “What do you have to lose? What do you have to lose?” and a lot of people are saying that, when, and, are taking it; if you’re a doctor, a nurse, a first responder, a medical person going into hospitals, they say taking it before the fact is good but, what do you have to lose? They say, take it. I’m not looking at it one way or the other, but we want to get out of this. If it does work, it would be a shame if we didn’t do it early, but we have some very good signs, so that’s hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin; and, again, you have to go through your medical people, get the approval, but I’ve seen things that I sort of like, so, what do I know, I’m not a doctor, I’m not a doctor but I have common sense; the FDA feels good about it; as you know, they’ve approved it, they gave it a rapid approval, and, the reason, because it’s been out there for a long time and they know the side effects and they also know the potential; so, based on that, we have sent it throughout the country and we have it stockpiled, about 29 million doses, 29 million doses; we have a lot of it; we hope it works

Although he’s barely intelligible at the best of times, that could only have been an advertisement.

more snake oil | 9:12 pm CDT
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Trump, selling snake oil at yesterday’s press briefing:

Last Saturday the FDA also gave emergency authorization for hydroxychloroquine and, the hydroxychloroquine is a, I hope it’s going to be a very important answer; we’re having some very good things happening with it, and we’re going to be distributing it through the strategic national stockpile; it’s going into the strategic national stockpile to treat certain patients, and we have millions and millions of doses of it, 29 million, to be exact; in addition to that, we’re making it, and we’re also getting it from various other locations and countries and, in one case, I called Prime Minister Modi of India this morning; they make large amounts of hydroxychloroquine, very large amounts, frankly, and I said, they had a hold because, you know, they have 1.5 billion people, and they think a lot of it, and I said I’d appreciate if they would release the amounts that we ordered, and they are giving it serious consideration; but they do make, India makes a lot of it; but we have already 29 million, if you look, and that’s a big number, 29 million doses, we’ve got millions of doses that are being made here and many millions of doses that are made elsewhere that are being shipped here, and it will be arriving; we’re just hearing really positive stories and, we’re continuing to collect the data but, I’ll just speak for myself, it’s been out for a long time; it’s a malaria drug; it’s also a drug for lupus and there’s a, there’s a study out that people with lupus aren’t catching this horrible virus, they’re not affected so much by it; now, maybe that’s correct, maybe it’s false; you’re going to have to check it out, but there’s a lot of very positive things happening with that; that’s a game-changer, if that’s the case

Even if this didn’t make him sound as if he and everyone he knows has bought up all the stock in companies that manufacture hydroxychloroquine (and it really does sound like that), how is it at all ethical for the president of the United States to go on television and repeat an unfounded rumor that people with the autoimmune disease lupus aren’t affected by COVID-19 because they’re prescribed hydroxychloroquine? He’s been selling this snake oil since mid-May, and now it’s going into the national stockpile? If this doesn’t turn into the biggest insider trading scandal of all time, I’ll eat my boots.

snake oil | 12:06 pm CDT
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This is how the conclusion of Trump’s prepared remarks for yesterday’s press briefing were scripted:

I want to thank the American people most of all for the selfless sacrifices that they are making for our nation, and I want to encourage everyone to keep following our guidelines on slowing the spread. Sustaining this war effort is the patriotic duty of every citizen. While we may be more physically distant for a time, we’re closer together in the heart and in the spirit, and through this great national unity we will conquer the disease and restore our nation to its full and glorious might.

Setting aside for the moment how much that sounds like something Mussolini’s speech writer might have come up with, it would have been a pretty solid conclusion even if Trump had delivered it in his usual bored monotone.

Here’s how Trump’s ad-libs watered it down to a weird hash of run-on sentences, barely glued together with “but” or “and” or sometimes a vaguely muttered “um”:

I want to thank the American people most of all for the selfless sacrifices that they are making for our nation – I know it’s not pleasant, although some people have said they’ve gotten to know their family better and they love their family more than ever; that’s a beautiful thing; they’ve actually gotten to know them; they’re in the same house with their family for a long time; I guess it can also go the other way perhaps, but we don’t want to talk about that – and I want to encourage everyone to keep following our guidelines on slowing the spread sustaining this war effort is – and that’s what it is, it’s a war effort – it is the patriotic duty of every citizen while we may be more physically distant for a time we’re closer together in the heart and in the spirit and through this great national unity – it’s happening; we’re having a great unity developing that a lot of people didn’t think would be possible to develop like this – we will conquer the disease and restore our nation to its full and glorious might – and we’re doing really well, and I’m very proud of everybody out there; we’re very proud of you; it’s something that nobody could have ever projected; it’s been over 100 years that a thing like this has happened, and the problem with this one is that the contagion, it’s so contagious; nobody’s ever seen anything like that, where it’s so contagious; you can be feet away, and just talking to somebody, and catch it, you can catch it, you know how long it can live on surfaces; so things that nobody even thought of, the level of contagion; so we’re getting there; we’re going to make sure that it’s over soon; and just keep going; it’s not going to be long; and thank you very much.

Listening to it was even worse than having to read it. Most of the time he seemed bored, and frequently he seemed hardly lucid, like when rambled, “the problem with this one is that the contagion, it’s so contagious; nobody’s ever seen anything like that, where it’s so contagious; you can be feet away, and just talking to somebody, and catch it, you can catch it, you know how long it can live on surfaces; so things that nobody even thought of, the level of contagion.” That kind of babble from any seventy-three-year-old crank would make me slowly back away as I nodded agreement, “Sure, yeah, so contagious, it really is, well, it’s been nice talking but I’ve got to go …”

the end | 9:49 am CDT
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Monday, February 10th, 2020

For once, he’s not lying.

tremendous fraud

tremendous | 5:19 am CDT
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Saturday, July 27th, 2019

Trump’s bigoted rants aren’t going to stop. He’s going to keep on ranting and he’s going to get more offensively racist with each rant. How much longer are we going to put up with a blatantly racist president?

DRT rants about Cummings 7-27-29

infested | 4:30 am CDT
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Sunday, July 14th, 2019

The president of the United States ranting at brown and black people, telling them to go back to where they came from, is so cartoonishly racist that I never thought I’d live to see it, and yet here you go:

racist POTUS tweet 7-14-19

back where you came from | 10:55 am CDT
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Monday, July 1st, 2019

A congressional delegation inspected facilities operated by the Customs and Border Patrol agency where asylum-seekers were being held in inhumane conditions. The delegation included Pete Aguilar (CA31), Joaquin Castro (TX20), Judy Chu (CA27), Madeleine Dean (PA4), Veronica Escobar (TX16), Sylvia Garcia (TX29), Joe Kennedy (MA4) Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY14), Ayanna Pressley (MA7), Rashida Tlaib (MI13), Norma Torrez (CA35), Greg Stanton (AZ9), Lori Trahan (MA3), and Marc Veasey (TX33).

Joaquin Castro: “At the El Paso Border Patrol Station #1, women from Cuba, some grandmothers, crammed into a prison-like cell with one toilet, but no running water to drink from or wash their hands with. Concrete floors, cinder-block walls, steel toilets. Many said they had not bathed for 15 days. Some had been separated from children, some had been held for more than 50 days. Several complained they had not received their medications, including one for epilepsy. They asked us to take down their names and let everyone know they need help. They also feared retribution. We then went to the Clint Border Patrol Station that warehouses children and some parents. The tents outside, used during the surge recently, were dark and surrounded by chain link fences. The showers — mobile units — were dank, dirty and only too small in number for the hundreds of people there just a few weeks ago. And a boy, perhaps three years old, pressed his face against the dirty glass of a locked steel door. He smiled big and tried to talk to us through the thick glass. His family — or another — ate Ramen on the floor a few feet away.”

Judy Chu: “We just left the El Paso border patrol station … what we saw was appalling and disgusting. We talked to a group of women, detainees who said that they didn’t have running water, that one was an epileptic and she couldn’t get her medication. They were separated from their children. They’d been there over 50 days. One woman said that the border patrol agent told her if she wanted water, just to drink from a toilet … There seriously has to be some change.”

Madeleine Dean: “Just left the first CBP facility. The conditions are far worse than we ever could have imagined. 15 women in their 50s- 60s sleeping in a small concrete cell, no running water. Weeks without showers. All of them separated from their families. This is a human rights crisis. We were met with hostility from the guards, but this is nothing compared to their treatment of the people being held.
The detainees are constantly abused and verbally harassed with no cause. Deprived physically and dehumanized mentally – everyday. This is a human rights issue.”

Joe Kennedy: “Spent the morning in TX at Clint and El Paso detention facilities. Big takeaways — 1) CBP was very resistant to Congressional oversight. They tried to restrict what we saw, take our phones, block photos and video. Atmosphere was contentious and uncooperative. 2) Facilities are wholly inadequate. Cells maxed to capacity, concrete floors … It felt jail-like. No way to keep a child or innocent human being. Group of 13 women from Cuba were in tears when we spoke with them.”

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: “Just left the 1st CBP facility. I see why CBP officers were being so physically &sexually threatening towards me. Officers were keeping women in cells w/ no water & had told them to drink out of the toilets. This was them on their GOOD behavior in front of members of Congress. After I forced myself into a cell w/ women & began speaking to them, one of them described their treatment at the hands of officers as “psychological warfare” — waking them at odd hours for no reason, calling them wh*res, etc. Tell me what about that is due to a “lack of funding?” Now I’m on my way to Clint, where the Trump admin was denying children toothpaste and soap. This has been horrifying so far. It is hard to understate the enormity of the problem. We’re talking systemic cruelty w/ a dehumanizing culture that treats them like animals. What’s haunting is that the women I met with today told me in no uncertain terms that they would experience retribution for telling us what they shared. They all began sobbing — out of fear of being punished, out of sickness, out of desperation, lack of sleep, trauma, despair.”

Rashida Tlaib: “We can’t just focus on the children anymore. I met grandmothers, mothers and fathers who are suffering. This is devastating. The look in one father’s eyes broke me. I can’t look away. A little boy not more than 4 years old asked me where his Papa was through a glass door. An Abuela hasn’t seen her grandson in 40 days & has no idea where he is. A woman, pregnant w/ her first child, just wants to be w/ her family in FL. A father teared up telling me that his wife, 8 yr old daughter & 14 yr old son have been sleeping on concrete floors in a tent for 4 days. They haven’t been able to shower, no real food (chips & juice boxes) & so scared of being separated.”

concentration | 8:39 pm CDT
Category: current events, this modern world | Tags:
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Sunday, April 28th, 2019

the great Paris accord
how is Paris doing lately?
how is Paris?
how is Paris doing?

send all the money to countries that the people never heard of
and raise their taxes

I ended that one, too

I thought I was going to take a lot of heat on that one

a lot of heat | 11:02 am CDT
Category: Big Book of Quotations, random idiocy, this modern world | Tags: ,
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Thursday, April 18th, 2019

I don’t know if I was subconsciously looking forward to the Mueller report today — consciously, I don’t care much — but last night I dreamed I was yelling at Trump. Not only was I yelling at him, I was able to express perfectly every kind of disgust I felt towards him and his ilk. It was so satisfying.

mueller day | 5:58 am CDT
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Monday, April 1st, 2019

WARNING: SYSTEM OVERLOAD. VENTING IN PROGRESS.

Oh My God I don’t effing care how Kellyanne Conway and George Conway make their marriage work! How do garbage people like these keep getting headlines? It’s no wonder I gave up watching television news years ago!

It’s really not such a puzzle! Maybe they still love each other! Maybe the fact that George can’t stand Kellyanne’s boss is a turn-on that spices up their marriage! People have kinks that seem stranger to me! Although not as revolting, I have to say.

Or, maybe they hate each other! Lots of married people hate each other but stay married anyway! It’s so common as to be not remarkable at all!

Or, maybe they’re ambivalent and too lazy to pack it in. That’s not really so far-fetched.

See? Mystery solved! NOW STOP WASTING AIRTIME AND WRITING CLICKBAIT STORIES ABOUT THE CONWAYS!

no puzzle | 6:24 am CDT
Category: current events, random idiocy, yet another rant | Tags:
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Wednesday, January 9th, 2019

We
would make a great deal
with
the United Kingdom
because
they have product
that
we like.

I mean,
they have a lot of great product.
They make phenomenal things,

you know,
and you have
different names.

You can say, “England.”
You can say, “U.K.”
You can say, “United Kingdom.”

So many different,
you know.

You have,
you have,
so many different names;
“Great Britain.”

I always say,
“Which one do you prefer?
Great Britain?”

You understand what I’m saying?

so many different | 9:09 pm CDT
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Sunday, July 15th, 2018

Piers Morgan: What is the incentive for America to do a great deal with the United Kingdom?

Trump: We would make a great deal with the United Kingdom because they have product that we like.  I mean, they have a lot of great product.  They make phenomenal things, you know, and you have different names. You can say, “England.”  You can say, “U.K.”  You can say, “United Kingdom.”  So many different.  You know, you have, you have so many different names.  “Great Britain.”  I always say, “Which one do you prefer? Great Britain?”  You understand what I’m saying?

Morgan: You know Great Britain and the United Kingdom aren’t exactly the same thing?

Trump: Right.  Yeah.  You know I know.  But, a lot of people don’t know that.

Trump believes the United Kingdom has “product” that “we” would like. Trump believes the “product” is “great,” “phenomenal.”   Trump uses the word “product” the way hairdressers talk about shampoo and hair gel.  Maybe he thinks the U.K. makes hair gel?

Trump believes a lot of people don’t know the difference between “England,” “United Kingdom,” and “Great Britain,” so it doesn’t matter if he uses them interchangeably.  “We” are just a bunch of dumb bunnies who buy “product.”

you know I know | 8:44 am CDT
Category: daily drivel | Tags: ,
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Saturday, June 2nd, 2018

No matter how much Kim Jong Un insults Donald Trump, Trump is determined to have a meeting with Kim to make it look like he’s forcing Kim to give up his nuclear weapons, even though Kim will never give up so much as a single bomb without a fight. But the summit’s got to happen, to make Trump look like he’s doing something. And who’s going to pay for this dog and pony show? According to a story in The Washington Post this morning, we will:

At an island resort off the coast of Singapore, U.S. event planners are working day and night with their North Korean counterparts to set up a summit designed to bring an end to Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program. But a particularly awkward logistical issue remains unresolved … Who’s going to pay for Kim Jong Un’s hotel stay?

The prideful but cash-poor pariah state requires that a foreign country foot the bill at its preferred lodging: the Fullerton, a magnificent neoclassical hotel near the mouth of the Singapore River, where just one presidential suite costs more than $6,000 per night.

When it comes to paying for lodging at North Korea’s preferred five-star luxury hotel, the United States is open to covering the costs … but it’s mindful that Pyongyang may view a U.S. payment as insulting. As a result, U.S. planners are considering asking the host country of Singapore to pay for the North Korean delegation’s bill.

Not only will we pay to set Kim Jong Un up as extravagantly as they require us to, we will also ask a proxy to pay the bill for us, because Kim would be insulted to take money directly from us. But wait! That’s not all!

Figuring out how to pay Pyongyang’s hotel tab won’t be the only unusual planning obstacle … the country’s underused Soviet-era aircraft may require a landing in China because of concerns it won’t make the 3,000 mile trip … alternatively, the North Koreans might travel in a plane provided by another country.

We’ll also send a plane to deliver them to their five-star accommodations, because their fossilized planes can’t make it all the way to Singapore without breaking down. I’m sure it’ll be the biggest plane with nothing but first-class seats from front to back.

scammed | 7:50 am CDT
Category: random idiocy, yet another rant | Tags:
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Thursday, May 10th, 2018

If politicians had to work in the same tiny cubicles in featureless office buildings that government workers typically have to spend their days toiling away in, there wouldn’t be any politicians.

If politicians were bound by the ethics rules that prevent all other government workers from accepting gifts or payments for services, they wouldn’t bother being politicians.

If politicians were bound by irrevocable law to spend no more on their campaign than one dollar for each person they sought to represent, there would never be any more politicians.

Dream world | 6:17 am CDT
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Monday, April 16th, 2018

Michael Cohen, the man Trump calls his personal lawyer and who everybody else calls his ”fixer,” was arraigned in federal court yesterday where he named TV talking head Sean Hannity as one of his clients.  The only other client Cohen has had is Elliot Broidy, a big donor to the Republican National Committee, who secured Cohen’s legal services to pay $1.6 million in hush money to Playboy model Karen McDougal after she began pregnant with Broidy’s child.  Coincidentally, Coehn also paid $130,000 to Stephanie Clifford, the pornographic film star also known as Stormy Daniels, to keep her quiet about her affair with Donald Trump. So there’s a lot of speculation about what Cohen did for Sean Hannity.

Which prompted Twitter user @drskyskull to post this masterpiece: 

Is this the real life?
Is this just fantasy?
Caught in a landslide
No escape for Sean Hannity

Not a surprise
Sean doubles his lies on TV
I’m just a poor boy!
Cohen gave advice for free!

Because I’m easy come easy go
Cohen I barely know
Any way his trial goes
Doesn’t really matter to me
TOOOOO MEEEEEEE

Mama
Just lied again
Polished a big orange turd
Shilled for him with every word

MAGA had just begun
And now we’ve gone and peed it all away!
MAMA
OOOOOOOOH

Didn’t mean to make you cry
If I’m not back on the air tomorrow
Carry on, carry on
As if I had advertisers

Too late
My time has come
Send shivers down my spine
Mueller’s calling all the time

Goodbye everybody
I’ve got to go
Heading to a place with no extradition treaty

MAMA
OOOOOOOOH
Don’t want my show to die
Don’t want to be like Bill O’Reilly!
*guitar solo*

I see a little silhouetto of a man
Michael Cohen Michael Cohen
Will you shut your fat mouth-o
Search warrants of writing
Very very frightening me

Vladimir-o Vladimir-o
Vladimir-o Vladimir-o
Vladimir-o save us all, magnifico!

I’m just a big prick and nobody loves me
He’s just a big prick broadcasting shit TV
Spare him his life from going to the pokey

Treason come treason go will you let me go?
Fuck you Sean! No! We will not let you go! (Let him go)
Fuck you Sean! We will not let you go! (Let him go)
Fuck you Sean! We will not let you go! (Let me go)

Will not let you go let me go (never)
Never let you go let me go
Never let me go ooo
No, no, no, no, no, no, no

Oh Robert Mueller, Robert Mueller, Robert Mueller let me go
Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me
For me
For meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee
*furious banjo guitar solo, Sean dances like the whitest guy ever*

SO YOU THINK YOU CAN SUBPOENA AND TAP ALL MY LINES
SO YOU THINK YOU CAN ARREST ME AND TRY ME FOR CRIMES
OH BABY, CAN’T DO THIS TO ME BABY
JUST GOTTA GET OUT JUST GOTTA GET RIGHT OUTTA HERE

Ooh yeah, ooh yeah
Nothing really matters
Anyone can see
Nothing really matters nothing really matters on Fox TV

 

easy come, easy go | 4:41 pm CDT
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Wednesday, April 11th, 2018

After I rolled out of bed this morning and started the morning pot of coffee brewing, I checked in to Twitter to see what’s new in the world and the first thing I see is OH MY GOD TRUMP IS GOING TO BLOW UP SYRIA!

“Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia,  because they will be coming, nice and new and “smart!” You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!”

I’m not all that worried, really.  The rest of Twitter responded with “WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!” as if Trump hasn’t done this before.  He needs to do this every so often to “look presidential,” because nothing gets the pundits to say dumb shit like “this is the moment he finally became president” as blowing shit up.  And that’s pretty much all he’ll blow up, after he gave literally everybody in the world plenty of advance warning by tweeting it. Any soldiers, Syrian or Russian, at whatever target he agreed ahead of time to hit will be long gone.

Cynical?  Oh, a tad.  

Trump followed the “get ready” tweet with:

“Our relationship with Russia is worse now than it has ever been, and that includes the Cold War. There is no reason for this. Russia needs us to help with their economy, something that would be very easy to do, and we need all nations to work together. Stop the arms race?”

“There is no reason for this,” I love that.  As if threatening to shoot missiles at a Russian ally wouldn’t be a good reason. And then he bats his eyes and asks, “Stop the arms race?”  Because why wouldn’t they? Aside from the aforementioned attack, of course. Sort of justifies my cynical feeling that the pyrotechnics are only there to make everyone go “Oooo! Ahhh!” and repeat the inevitable drivel that Trump is strong and bold and presidential.

get ready | 8:48 am CDT
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Saturday, March 31st, 2018

Saw this rubbish on Facebook:

These two short sentences tell you a lot about our government and our culture:

1. We are advised not to judge ALL Muslims by the actions of a few lunatics, but we are encouraged to judge All Gun Owners by the actions of a few lunatics. Funny how that works.

And here is another one worth considering.

2. Seems how we constantly hear about how Social Security is going to run out of money. How come we never hear about welfare running out of money? What’s interesting is the first group “worked for” their money, but the second didn’t.

Profound isn’t it … Think about it … Pass it on.

Not all that profound, no.  More than a little bigoted, yes.  Let’s see if I can explain why I think so:

Point number one implies that if we are advised not to judge all Muslims for the actions of a few, then we should be advised not judge all gun owners for the actions of a few, which I believe is an odd thing to have to imply because we should all have been advised that both are a no-no.  I can’t cite sources and frankly I don’t think I should have to; surely one or two responsible adults have offered the sage advice that not all gun owners are to blame for the actions of a few.  Nobody can reasonably claim that advice hasn’t been uttered once in the defense of gun owners.

Point number one also implies that since we are encouraged to judge all gun owners for the actions of a few, then there is nothing wrong with encouraging us to judge all Muslims for the actions of a few.  See how bigoted that sounds?  And not only because the meme flips judgment from gun owners onto Muslims in particular, but because it flips “advising” with “encouraging,” which is not a small difference at all.

I’m willing to believe that some people are shallow enough to encourage us to judge all gun owners for the actions of a few, because I’ve seen people do that in person and on television.  It’s not a hard premise to swallow.  But I have also seen and heard people encourage us to judge white supremacists based on the actions of a few white supremacist lunatics, which I believe is much more to the point.

Point number two is bigoted because it judges people who collect benefits guaranteed by law as lazy moochers, saying they don’t do any work while they collect those benefits.  Although it allows that Social Security beneficiaries “worked for” the money, the air quotes imply they didn’t really work.

Saying you never hear that welfare is running out of money is just being willfully ignorant.  If you haven’t heard that welfare is running out of money, you’re trying not to hear it, or you’re conveniently forgetting you heard it.  It’s a constant refrain with the small-government conservatives.  I hear politicians say “we’re broke” or “we can’t afford it” all the time when they talk about cutting benefits.

two things | 4:05 pm CDT
Category: yet another rant | Tags: ,
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Saturday, January 6th, 2018

And now, a few words from the American president, Donald Trump:

Now that Russian collusion, after one year of intense study, has proven to be a total hoax on the American public, the Democrats and their lapdogs, the Fake News Mainstream Media, are taking out the old Ronald Reagan playbook and screaming mental stability and intelligence.

Actually, throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart.  Crooked Hillary Clinton also played these cards very hard and, as everybody knows, went down in flames.  I went from VERY successful businessman, to top T.V. Star to President of the United States (on my first try).  I think that would qualify as not smart, but genius … and a very stable genius at that!

Genius. Trump thinks becoming a “top T.V. Star” makes him a genius.

Hey, Genius, first try? Did you forget the time you ran for president 2012? How’s that memory working for you?

Actually, there aren’t a lot of “VERY successful” businessmen who know how to bankrupt the casinos they own, so maybe Trump is sort of, like, really smart.

Here’s what I think is really smart: Saying Russian collusion with the Trump campaign is a hoax perpetrated on the American public.  Nice going, genius.

like wow | 9:04 am CDT
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Saturday, February 11th, 2017

It seems this would be an especially appropriate time to talk about why I believe rounding up undocumented people and deporting them is so revolting to me.

Right out of the gate I’m going to refuse to use the term “illegal immigrants” or its shortened form, preferred by lunch-room lawyers and pundits, “illegals.” People aren’t illegal. Their actions can be illegal, but people themselves never are. Describing a person as illegal has got to be about the most revolting way you can possibly treat them. I’m going to stick with “undocumented” because my experience tells me it’s the most accurate way to describe them.

Here’s why: We Americans were raised to believe we are citizens because we were born here, but that is no longer true. We are citizens only if we can prove we were born here, which a shocking number of American-born people can’t do, or at least I think it’s shocking. One is shocking. If only it were just one. I go to work every day to help American citizens prove they are who they say they are. It’s literally in my job description.

The standard of proof is usually a state-issued driver’s license or identification card. When I was just a lad, it was pretty easy to get a driver’s license. I filled out an application, I took a test to demonstrate my knowledge of the rules of the road, and voila! I was licensed to drive. But now that a driver’s license is more than just a license to drive, every state of the union requires you to show documented evidence of your birth, usually a certificate issued by the state. If you lost your birth certificate or never had one, you can get a replacement, but the state usually requires you to show photo ID. How’s that for Catch-22?

Just a note here: For a lot of American citizens (way too many, again), birth records simply don’t exist. There are various reasons for this, but the most common are: the state lost the records (fire, flood, incompetence), or the parents didn’t record the birth, sometimes because the parents didn’t believe in or bother with the legal ins and outs of life, but often because they were so poor they didn’t have the resources to travel to the county seat. If you were one of those people, you could record your birth now by going to court, which takes time, money, and the stamina to jump through a lot of bureaucratic hoops.

It doesn’t end with your birth certificate, by the way. To get a driver’s license you also have to prove your identity, which is different from proving your birth. Most people show a Social Security card to prove their identity. If you don’t have one, guess what you have to show the Social Security Administration in order to get one? See “Catch-22” above.

What I’m getting at is that there are way more undocumented Americans than you know. By the letter of the law that I hear practiced daily by lunch-room lawyers and television pundits, these Americans reside here illegally, because they have no documents to prove they were born here, and a lot of them would not be able to produce documents if you gave them all the time in the world to get them, because they don’t have the resources to do so.

This is relevant to the conversation about people who come to America from other countries without documents because the only thing about their situation that is different is, they weren’t born here. They came here because they wanted a better life for themselves or for their children. That is literally the American dream. Know-it-alls who say immigrants are welcome but only if they jump through the bureaucratic hoops set up to do it legally are speaking from the position of Americans who were born here.

It’s a great privilege to be born in America. You are instantly a citizen. You don’t have to do anything at all to be one. You can literally coast through every step of your life, skip school, duck out of work, do nothing at all for your community or society at large, and still be a citizen. Or, you can excel. Either way, there’s no test, or there wasn’t until you had to show your papers to get a driver’s license. (You watch; eventually American-born citizens will be swept up in these “enforcement actions” for the sole reason that they didn’t have the required documents.)

To the naturalized Americans who jumped through the hoops, good on you. You applied, you paid the money, you took the test. I admire your determination to be a naturalized citizen. I also admire anyone who has the determination to walk here from Central America, then work the rest of their life cleaning toilets in a hotel or deboning chickens in a processing plant so their children can live a longer, fuller life. Whether or not they got naturalized or got a green card, American dream achieved. Documents don’t make us Americans. Determination to live a better life in a better country makes us Americans. Kicking people out of the country doesn’t make it better.

documented | 12:19 pm CDT
Category: Life & Death, random idiocy, this modern world, yet another rant | Tags:
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Tuesday, January 24th, 2017

For about an hour this afternoon, maybe two, somebody with access to the Twitter account at the Badlands National Park became a hero on social media when she wrote several “tweets” about climate change and posted them on the park’s Twitter feed. This was kind of a big deal because the Trump administration scrubbed all mention of climate change from government web sites within hours of Trump taking office, and on Monday many government agencies were forbidden from releasing information to the public or make public appearances without authorization.

I let out a little cheer when I saw the first tweet, and I have to admit I got a little choked up when whoever it was kept it up through three or four tweets. In my mind’s eye I pictured a National Park Service ranger hunched over a computer terminal, hurriedly batting away at the keyboard in with one eye on the door, waiting for the sound of his supervisor angrily stomping down the hall to put a stop to her insolence. For some reason, I imagined it was a woman doing the rebelling.

She managed to write four or five tweets before she was stopped and the tweets were deleted. By then, everybody on Twitter was sharing the tweets, and by the time I got home I found that several people I knew of Facebook were sharing them, too.

I didn’t realize the deeper significance of what that ranger wrote until I read this from Angus Johnston, a CUNY history professor:

The quote in the tweet is from the 1916 law that established the National Park Service. Here’s a fuller version of the quote: “To conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such a manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.”

The context for this quote is not just the future of the NPS itself, but also a Republican proposal to expedite divestment of federal land. The proposal, which already passed the House, would streamline opening up land now held by the govt to development. Dumping federal land on the cheap would be a windfall for developers and deprive the rest of us access.

The folks at @BadlandsNPS are risking their jobs to tell us that we are risking our heritage and our future. This land is our land. We must cherish it, protect it, and preserve it — unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.

The tweet with which I started this thread, a quote from the 1915 law that established the National Parks Service, has been deleted. “And by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.” Deleted. Purged. A National Park tweeted a quote from the hundred-year-old law that established the National Parks Service, and was forced to erase it.

You want to know who these people are? This is who they are. You want to know what’s coming? They just gave you a taste. Totalitarians enforce compliance in small things because they know that small freedoms give you an appetite for bigger ones.

 

badlands | 8:47 pm CDT
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Monday, January 23rd, 2017

Sean Spicer, White House Press Secretary, putting on the good cop routine this time:

… It’s not just about a crowd size … it’s just unbelievably frustrating when you’re continually told it’s not big enough, it’s not good enough, you can’t win … I think there’s an overall frustration when you — when you turn on the television over and over again and get told that there’s this narrative that you didn’t win. … It’s frustrating for not just him, but I think so many of us that are trying to work to get this message out.

So if I understand correctly, and I’m not saying I do; I could be getting this wrong, but check me on this: The guy who announced his candidacy by saying the people who came to the United States from Mexico were rapists and drug dealers, the guy who called his opponents childish names for months on end, the guy who encouraged his followers to beat up protesters, the guy who in his inaugural address described America as a devastated wasteland wracked by carnage — that guy is frustrated and demoralized because of negativity from the press?

I’ll have to get a tinier violin than the one I already have for that guy.

whiner in chief | 9:48 pm CDT
Category: yet another rant | Tags: ,
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Saturday, January 21st, 2017

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer made a brief appearance this evening to give the press an update on the president’s activities, BUT FIRST! Spicer went on a four and a half minute tear, snarling and snapping at the press like a pissed-off drama queen. I’ve never seen anything like it from a White House press secretary. Full disclosure: I don’t watch a lot of briefings from White House press secretaries. Maybe they rant like petulant brats all the time. I kind of doubt it. I think that it’s usually the case that White House pressers generally are about as interesting as watching grass grow. Hence my lack of familiarity with them.

“Before I get to the news of the day,” Spicer began, looking for all the world like a pissed-off dad glaring at you from the front seat of the car after he’s just WARNED YOU FOR THE LAST TIME TO KNOCK IT OFF, “I think I’d like to discuss the coverage of the past twenty-four hours.” Then he made some wah-wah Charlie Brown teacher noise about peaceful transfer of power before launching into it: “Some members of the media were engaged in deliberately false reporting. Two instances yesterday stand out: One was a particularly egregious example in which a reporter falsely Tweeted out that the bust of Martin Luther King Junior had been removed from the Oval Office.”

That’s Spicer’s idea of an egregious example of false reporting? That’s what makes him mad enough to use his dad voice? A tweet about the decorations in the Oval Office?

“After it was pointed out that this was just plain wrong,” Spicer continued to fume, “the reporter casually reported and Tweeted out and tried to claim that a Secret Service agent must have been standing in front of it. This was irresponsible –” and here he paused meaningfully to glare at the press “– and reckless.” Except he said that last part in all caps, “THIS WAS IRRESPONSIBLE AND RECKLESS.” I know it was all caps because he used the same tone of voice dad used when he said IF YOU MAKE ME STOP THIS CAR.

Spicer spent the next two minutes railing at the press because they reported that attendance at the inauguration seemed sparse. Photos and videos showed a national mall that was maybe half-filled and empty bleachers all along the parade route. Or, in Spicer’s view of reality: “Photographs of the inaugural proceedings were intentionally framed in a way in one particular tweet to minimize the enormous support that had gathered on the national mall.” He used more wah-wah Charlie Brown noise about how floor covering, fencing and magnetometers made the enormous crowds appear smaller than they were. (Magnetometers?)

But reporters tweeting photos of a half-empty mall didn’t fire up Spicer half as much as reporters tweeting out their estimations of the numbers in attendance. “NO ONE HAD NUMBERS,” he snapped, “because the National Park Service, which controls the National Mall, does not put any out.” What I hear Spicer saying is, without the National Park Service, it’s impossible for reporters to know how many people showed up.

Seconds later, Spicer estimated the numbers in attendance in probably the same way that the reporters did: “We know that from the platform, where the president was sworn in, to 4th Street holds about 250,000 people. From 4th Street to the media tent is about another 220,000, and from the media tent to the Washington Monument another 250,000 people.” (I wonder where Spicer got these numbers? They couldn’t be from the National Park Service, because Spicer just said the NPS doesn’t put any out.)

After rattling off these figures, Spicer declared, “ALL OF THIS SPACE WAS FULL when the president took the oath of office.”

Spicer must be using a definition of the word “full” that I am not able to find in any of my dictionaries. (Yes, I still use dictionaries; why don’t you?) The inauguration is one of the most well-documented events of the year. Photos and videos all showed people strolling easily across the open space at the far end of the mall. There was enough room to play a football game next to the Washington Monument. This is just straight-up gaslighting. Spicer might as well have jumped up on the podium and barked, “WHO ARE YOU GOING TO BELIEVE, ME OR YOUR LYING EYES?” And for what? Ratings? He’s upset because Trump threw a party and the press reported, as accurately as they could, that ONLY a few hundred thousand people came? His blood boils when Trump doesn’t get the ratings Spicer thinks he deserves?

Then Spicer glared deliberately at the press and announced, “This was the largest audience to witness an inauguration,” and once again he broke out his all-caps voice, “PERIOD, both in person and around the globe.” Dayum. Sorry we made you stop the car, dad.

Spicer added that Trump visited the CIA this afternoon and THEY ADORED HIM! And the president HAD THEIR BACKS! And by the way isn’t it sad that Trump couldn’t meet the CIA director because there wasn’t one because the Democrats were holding up his nomination. OH MY GOD REALLY? I HAVE NEVER HEARD OF ANYTHING LIKE THAT BEFORE except every other time a president nominated anybody at all ever.

Watching Spicer’s presser made me die of embarrassment. I literally died every single time he opened his mouth. I died a hundred times over. I am writing to you from the grave. Literally. (If Spicer can tell bold-faced lies, I can, too.)

PERIOD | 8:04 pm CDT
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Friday, January 20th, 2017

I wrote this early this morning, before Trump’s inauguration:

“My biggest worry now that Trump is president is not that he’s a compulsive liar, is compromised by conflicts of interest, has appointed colossally unqualified people to head federal government agencies, and if his Twitter history is any indication, he’s kind of a jerk. My biggest worry is that conservative governments at the state level have shown every sign they won’t work aggressively to remediate climate change; in fact, they have actively worked to suppress not only remediation, but any kind of research about climate change. So it follows that the federal government under the Trump administration will follow suit. Considering that we seem to be at or near a point that will tip us into a change that will be impossible to counteract, four years could make all the difference between sustaining an environment in which we can continue to live, and polluting the environment beyond its capacity to sustain us. If conservative administrations manage to maintain their overwhelming control over state and federal governments past 2020, and there is every indication that they will be able to, the future looks very grim indeed. Not for me, personally, or my generation. It might get a little more uncomfortable for us in our declining years than usual, but we’ll be fine, more or less. The next generation, our children, will be much less fine, and it’s anybody’s guess what their children, the generation after that, face. We could have done so much to make a brighter future for them.”

In the five or ten minutes after Trump was sworn in, every mention of climate change was removed from the White House web page. Instead, the official White House policy became:

“An America First Energy Plan: For too long, we’ve been held back by burdensome regulations on our energy industry. President Trump is committed to eliminating harmful and unnecessary policies such as the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the U.S. rule … The Trump Administration will embrace the shale oil and gas revolution … The Trump Administration is also committed to clean coal technology, and to reviving America’s coal industry.”

So much for remediation. Tipping point, here we come!

tipping point | 9:42 pm CDT
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George Washington, in his farewell address:

Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence … the jealously of a free people ought to be constantly awake, since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government.

 

Washington’s warning | 12:01 am CDT
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Thursday, January 12th, 2017

After dinner, we sat down to watch a recording of Trump’s press conference because there’s nothing we enjoy more than pain and suffering, and if we don’t get enough of that at work, we look for ways to inflict more of it on ourselves later. But after supper. Gotta eat supper first.

My Darling B found it on teh intarwebs, hit “play” and we hunkered down. I managed to stick with it to the end of Trump’s rambling introduction and the first two questions before I reached my breaking point. That was all the Trump I could take in audio/visual form for one day. Ten, maybe fifteen minutes. You might think I’m a bit thin-skinned, like I have a low tolerance for pain and suffering, but I think you have to keep in mind that Trump is a highly-concentrated grade of pain and suffering. A little bit of Trump goes a long way. A sliver’s a tiny thing, but get one under your fingernail and wow! You learn a whole new kind of pain. Trump’s like that.

I stopped watching and locked myself away in a separate room, but I couldn’t pull the sliver out all at once. I found a transcript of the press conference on teh intarwebs and start to read that. Didn’t finish. Probably won’t finish for weeks, because damn, that hurts. Hurts my eyes, hurts my brain, hurts every cell in my body. I think maybe it even hurts Trump to talk that way. He certainly looks like he’s in pain, doesn’t he? So I’ll be taking it in little doses, a page or two at a time, to minimize the pain and, also, because it takes that long to decipher what he’s saying. Or even some of what he’s saying. I’ll be happy with that. I wish I were around in two-hundred years to read the book historians are going to write that will somehow make sense of it. That would be fascinating reading.

Take the first seventeen words: “It’s very familiar territory, news conferences, because we used to give them on an almost daily basis.” Ouch. Much pain. Have to stop, take a break. Ow. Daily basis? Ouch ouch ouch. Kay. Lemme catch my breath. Kay. What’s next? “I think we probably maybe won the nomination because of news conferences.” Ow ow ow ow. Damn, that hurts as much as crossing the road in bare feet on a hot day. I can see it hurts him, too. I feel for him. Lying with every single breath you take can’t be easy. I’m glad there are people who can take the punishment of politics, because I couldn’t do it.

That’s enough for now. Maybe a cool beer will soothe my aching muscles and sore joints. Ow.

a sliver | 9:35 pm CDT
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Wednesday, January 11th, 2017

After Meryl Streep used her acceptance speech at the Golden Globe awards to rip into Trump, she got a lot of blowback from his supporters who said that a) he was only criticizing a reporter who disagreed with him, not mocking the reporter, and b) Streep is an entertainer, not a political figure, so she should stick to acting and leave the politics to people more qualified to talk about it than she is.

I think both objections are a double-barreled load of the most rank kind of horseshit. If Ms. Streep has something political to say, she should be allowed to say it. That shit is protected by the constitution. Anybody who doesn’t like it doesn’t have to listen. Hit the mute button. Change the channel. But to suggest that she has to hold her tongue because people are tuning in to see her accept the award and say some weepy words of thanks? That is about as unamerican as it gets. Free speech, particularly political speech, is a right. Suck it up, buttercup.

That said, I frankly think Streep missed the mark. (If you’re reading this, Ms. Streep, I hope you’ll pardon my impertinence.) She said she was heartbroken that Trump mocked a reporter. If he did, that was a shitty thing to do and he has to live with that. If he didn’t, there are plenty of other things Trump does that break my heart, and bought to break every American’s heart.

Just for a start: What’s with the childish, petty, schoolyard name-calling? Hasn’t Trump got any respect for himself? He lives at the top of a skyscraper in rooms that are literally plated in gold. He’s a businessman at the top of his game, but for some reason he still feels the need to go nanny-nanny boo-boo at his opponents. It’s so boring. So ordinary. So sad.

And if I had to name another, the next thing that pops into my head is that Trump will promise us the moon, sun, and the stars, knowing full well he will disappoint us, yet believing that he will be able to sweet-talk his way out it. And maybe he will. Maybe we’ll let him. We have so far. He promised he would release his tax returns if he was elected; that’s not going to happen. He promised he would sell his business because running the country was more important; now he says he won’t do that. He promised he would build a wall and make Mexico pay for it; now he’s going to build the wall on credit, and promises that Mexico will reimburse us for it. Like the check that’s in the mail, Trump makes too many promises he has to break.

It’s going to be four years of heartbreaks, broken promises, and I know you are but what am I?

streep | 8:55 pm CDT
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Wednesday, January 4th, 2017

Julian Assange, who is most infamously known as the founder of an internet clearing house for “leaked” data, appears in an interview broadcast on mainstream media to warn us all that the U.S. media is very dishonest — more dishonest than anyone knows.

Trump live-tweets the show, also using U.S. media.

There isn’t enough gin in the world to make me feel good about the idea that Trump thinks Julian Assange, abetted by Sean Hannity, is now setting the bar for honesty in this country.

dishonest assange | 10:12 pm CDT
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Saturday, December 31st, 2016

For the longest time I would read Trump’s tweets, shake my head and think to myself, “Well, he can’t write one any weirder than that.” I still shake my head, but after reading a couple hundred of them, I’m a firm believer that he’ll always be able to write something more outrageous than the one before.

Yesterday, for instance, he heaped praise on Vladimir Putin, one of the many world leaders who has expressed a desire to dominate the world by crushing America. You know, as they do. Trump tweeted: “Great move on delay (by V.Putin) – I always knew he was smart!”

161230-putin-smart

Aside from the golly-gosh tone that makes this tweet sound like Trump has a man-crush on Putin, the “great move” he congratulated Putin for was Putin’s decision not to expel American diplomats from Russia after Obama expelled Russian diplomats from America, Obama’s response to Russian cyber warfare attacks focused on swinging the most recent nationwide elections. So Trump, or someone on Trump’s staff, wrote a tweet taking sides with the President of the Russian Federation over the President of the United States.

First of all, I’m still having trouble wrapping my head around the idea that political discourse in America is being conducted by tweet now, partly because I feel silly even writing about “tweeting,” and partly because two of the most powerful nations on earth are using Twitter to signal their cooperation with each other.

No, really. Within the very same minute that Trump tweeted “great move” to Putin, the Russian embassy re-tweeted Trump’s tweet. That could not possibly be coincidental in any universe. The ambassador didn’t just happen to be scrolling through his Twitter feed on his iPhone at precisely that minute, see Trump’s tweet, think to himself, “Hey, I’ll bet Putin would like to see that nice tweet; I think I’ll retweet that without prior authorization,” and hit send.

Second, this is a nightmare, right? I mean, I used to have nightmares about Russia taking over the United States, but it usually started with missiles or bombers, not with a president-elect dumping on the sitting president by buddying up to a Russian leader. Instead of going out with a bang, we’re apparently going out with a handshake and a “good on ya!” instead.

As it’s now an established law of nature that Trump’s tweets can always get weirder than the ones before, I held my breath and waited to see what he would come up with to top that. In less than twenty-four hours, I had my answer: “Happy New Year to all, including to my many enemies and those who have fought me and lost so badly they just don’t know what to do. Love!”

161231-enemies

I can only guess this is an attempt by Trump or somebody on his staff to make him appear to be magnanimous by showering love on everyone, even on his enemies and opponents, but then it goes on to smear his enemies and opponents as pathetic losers who are so discombobulated by their loss that they’re scrambling around without a clue, which kind of flushes that whole noble, forgiving spirit down the toilet.

The weirdest thing about Trump’s tweets is that I can’t imagine him with a phone in his hands, tapping on the keypad like a common prole. Until I hear otherwise, I’ll always imagine one of his minions closely listening to whatever’s coming out of his cakehole, then figuring out how to convert all that word salad it into 144-character sentences that make sense. And I usually imagine Trump sitting on the toilet, shouting through the closed bathroom door at the minion. I don’t know why. I guess I’m just weird that way.

the weirdest tweets | 9:27 am CDT
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Monday, December 19th, 2016

There seems to be a lot of talk in the media (social and otherwise) about the electors and how they can “save” us from Donald Trump.

I want this to be a nightmare I will somehow wake up from, too. I’d like to say I want to wake up from it *way more* than other people do, but from what I’ve seen and heard so far, a whole lot of people are already a lot worse off than I am as a result of partisan legislation and it’s just going to get worse. It may affect me eventually, but I’m not going to pretend I’ve got the shortest, shittiest end of the stick right now. Still, I wanna wake up tomorrow and find out it was all a bad dream and we’re somehow going to get four years of someone who’s not Donald Trump.

(I’d like to dream away a whole lot of the fossils in Washington, if we’re dreaming. I’d like to wake up to a legislature that is made up of a lot fewer narrow-minded, crotchety old men whose biggest concern is making sure their party stays in power, and a president who talks like Michelle Obama. If we’re dreaming.)

That said, I don’t believe for a moment that the electors are going to “save” us from Donald Trump, no matter who or how many emails or likes or retweets they get. I’ve heard it’s not unusual for one or two “faithless” electors to change their votes, but if anybody’s hanging their hopes on the idea that more than a few electors might not vote for Trump and that it would swing the election, well, I hate to be their wet blanket, but that’s what I’m best suited for, in this case. I understand they can vote for whomever they want, and I’ve read their very reason for existence is to prevent someone unfit for office from ascending to the presidency. Even so, I haven’t read or heard or seen any signs that a large enough number of them will be “faithless” to the expressed wishes of the general public to make any difference. If they don’t vote Trump into office today, I’ll be amazed.

faithless | 6:13 am CDT
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Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

Woke up this morning, rubbed the sleepers from my eyes, tumbled out of the van and went staggering up the road to the office-slash-general store to get a cup of coffee.

Halfway back to our camp site I slowed to a stop as I caught sight of B standing just outside the van, binoculars in hand, getting quickly back into the van and closing the door behind her.

Turning to see what she might possibly be looking at that would make her seek the safety of the car, I noticed an elk standing among the trees. Then I noticed a couple more elk just beyond the edge of the treeline. And then, finally, I noticed there was a whole freaking herd of elk slowly making its way through the field just beyond the edge of the RV park. Okay, so I missed them at first. I bet you’re not exactly Old Eagle Eye before you’ve had your coffee, either.

We found out later that they come though almost every day. And they’re used to having lots of people around. They weren’t in the least spooked by us, and a few of them came startlingly close as they made their way through an open field to the trees on the other side.

elks

Elk, by the way, are huge. You don’t realize just how big they are until one of them is close enough to spit in your eye. Or stomp you like the bug you are.

After the excitement was over and we had all our crap packed up, we hit the road to look for some breakfast. On the way, we stopped at the entrance to Redwood National Park to take a few selfies with the notices that the park was closed due to the federal government shutdown. I was on vacation, so why did I care? Oh, I am so glad you asked. Because: Of all the places in California I’ve wanted all my life to visit, Redwood National Park was in the top five. This was my third visit to California, but only the first time I was close enough to the park to stop by. And what happens? The doot-brains in Washington get into a pissing contest and shut down everything, even the parks. When the feds shut down a park, they don’t just tell the guys in the Smokey hats to take the week off. No. They make the rangers set up sawbucks to block the entrances, then stand outside them and turn away visitors. No trees for you! Natural beauty is off limits this week! Thanks, federal government, for availing yourself of yet another opportunity to reinforce my opinion that you’re a sack of bastards.

You know what? We camped in one of your goddamn campgrounds anyway. Up yours!

government shutdown

Actually, I’m getting ahead of myself. We stopped at Antlers the last night we camped in California and found three or four other campers at the site who said all the forest rangers packed up and left when the feds shut everything down. Before they left, though, they told the campers that what they didn’t see, didn’t happen. The bathrooms were open and the lights were on, so we slipped thirty bucks under the door of the office and stayed for the night. The photo I took of My Darling B expressing her outrage at The Man for shutting everything down was too good not to share it with you at this point in the story, though. Now, back to Wednesday.

We had breakfast at the Palm Cafe and Hotel in Orick, and it was amazing! Their hospitality was top-rate from the moment we walked in the door. The host greeted us right away and showed us to a table by the window in the morning sunshine where he poured us a couple mugs of hot coffee and made sure they never got cold the whole time we were there. B zeroed in on the biscuits & gravy, her very favorite thing to order any time it appears on the menu, and she was very happy with the freshly-made biscuits and generous portion of gravy she got. I had a stack of the fluffiest pancakes I’ve ever been privileged to stuff myself silly with. We were both well and truly serensified by the time we climbed back into the van to hit the road.

Welcome to OregonFrom Orick we went straight north, or as straight as the twisting road would let us, planning to make as few stops as possible until we got to Crescent City to fuel. We made a hard right turn onto State Highway 199 out of Crescent City and crossed into Oregon shortly afterwards, making a big loop just over the border through the town of Grants Pass before heading south again.

Grants Pass, by the by, is probably not a place that you’ve ever heard of but was made famous, or maybe infamous, by the initiation of Tony Roberts into a club known as Mountain Man Anonymous in 1993. To become a member of the club, Tony let one of the club members try to shoot a one-gallon fuel can off his head with an arrow. The arrow went a little south of the mark. “Surgeons removed the arrow from Anthony Roberts’ head by drilling a larger hole around the tip at the skull’s back and pulling the arrow through,” the AP story explained, which has to be the single most ewww-inducing sentence ever printed in an Associated Press news item. I used to carry it around in my wallet for years so I could read it to people just to watch them squirm.

We did not plan to go to Grants Pass just so I could be in the place where this happened; it was just a lucky accident.

We made one stop at Medford to visit the Apocalypse Brewery, but they weren’t open, darn it, and didn’t open until four o’clock, too late for us to hang around and still make it to the show in Ashland we were headed for, so I can’t say anything about their beer, too bad. If you go looking for it, it’s really hard to find because it’s at the back end of a business park in what looks like a U-Store-It unit. Don’t give up until you check behind the fast-food store.

Caldera Brewery Ashland OROnward to Ashland where, after driving all freaking day, we stopped for a much-deserved beer and some food at Caldera Brewing, a brewpub in a cavernous metal barn where hundreds if not thousands of beer bottles are lined up on shelves up the wall. I spent way too much time searching them to see if I could find two that were alike, then gave up after the food arrived.

Before heading into town to see the show, we checked in at Glenyan campground, an old KOA that still has the easily recognizable teepee-shaped front office. I still feel a happy little twinge of nostalgia whenever I see one of those. My family used to stop at KOAs whenever we went on our annual winter camping trip to the warmer climes of the southern states. A lot of the campsites at Glenyan were occupied by big RV trailers, most of them with pop-outs and most of them more or less permanently affixed to the property, making the tightly-packed grounds seem even cozier, but we were there just to stay the night. All we wanted, really, was a place to park and go to sleep. They let us use the rec room to charge our phones and tablets even though everything else was shut down or turned off, so bonus points, Glenyan, and thanks!

The show we were going to see in town was Cymbaline, just one of the many shows being staged at the Ashland Shakespeare Festival. We picked Cymbaline because we hadn’t seen it before and because it was presented on their Elizabethan stage, an open-air theater encircled by the audience seats, sort of like the old Globe Theatre in London. Figured that would be a more authentic Shakespearian experience, somehow.

There was a stage just outside the theater where a local and apparently well-loved band was performing a few of their own numbers just prior to the start of Cymbaline, so we hung around outside the doors to see what they were like. I’m not sure how to describe their music without resorting to clichés like “drug-induced” and “hippy-dippy weirdo with a side order of dissonance.” I can’t say I enjoyed it, but I can’t say it bothered me, either. Mostly, I was just bored with it. Not so the gathered crowd; they lapped it up and cheered for more, which made me feel as though I was somehow missing something. I kept listening for it, whatever it was, but I never got it.

Because the theater was open to the weather, naturally it rained on us. Quite a lot. We had seats right up front by the stage, which would have been the greatest if they hadn’t been out in the middle of the open roof. “I’m sure it’s going to stop any minute now,” B kept saying to me, as we were slowly being soaked through to our bones, and once or twice it did seem to be letting up just a bit, but then it would start coming down again, and of course it seemed like it was coming down a little bit harder, but that was probably only because we were already wet, chattering and miserable.

We eventually found an usher and begged him to change our seats for a couple in the shelter of the balcony, which would’ve been great if we weren’t already sodden as disrags, but since we were, we slowly froze all the way through to our cores as the first two acts played out. At intermission, we ducked out to the car, cranked up the heater as high as it would go and headed back to camp where we huddled together in a tightly-knotted ball under the quilts. I didn’t start to feel warm again until just before daybreak.

California Day 6 | 8:06 pm CDT
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Thursday, February 28th, 2013

neenerHave you stockpiled supplies for The Day After The Sequester? Because that’s tomorrow, you know. If you didn’t have the foresight to make sure there were a couple extra cases of gin, whiskey and vodka in your basement, you messed up big time. I’m not coming home without a 2-liter bottle of soda water and a glacier-sized bag of ice from the corner store so that, when the power goes out at midnight, I’ll be on my second or third mixer. Then as the house slowly cools because the furnace isn’t running and the sun rises on chaos in the streets, I’ll just snap a nipple over the mouth of a vodka bottle and nurse myself into oblivion. With any luck, an alcohol-induced coma will force me to stop wondering how our country ended up being run by a pack of infants.

“Your plan to balance the budget is stupid!”

“No, your plan is!”

“Nuh-uhhh! Yours is the stupid plan!”

“I’m rubber, you’re glue, stupid!”

*sigh* Pass the whiskey.

infants | 5:59 am CDT
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Saturday, January 19th, 2013

I’m not sure I understand one of the arguments against the regulation of guns. Help me out here.

I’ve read on teh intarwebs that The Most Holy Second Amendment says that we, the people, should all be allowed to have guns so we can shoot tyrants. Either my copy of the bill of rights is completely different from everyone else’s, or it’s the same but I’ve had a stroke that swapped around the meanings of all the words in my head, because I don’t see how the second amendment says that at all. There’s something about a militia, security, bearing arms, but no mention of shooting tyrants.

Assuming that it does, though, and that a citizen’s right to own as many guns as he wants of any kind is absolute: What, exactly, is the objection to registering guns? The one I’ve heard used most often is, if we let the government keep a list of everyone who owns guns, then the guns can be speedily taken away when the tyrants take over. But if one of the reasons for owning a closet full of guns is shooting tyrants, then when the tyrants show up to take the guns, wouldn’t they just get shot? Or am I not understanding how the ‘shoot the tyrant’ thing works?

what then | 10:09 am CDT
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Saturday, January 12th, 2013

There are lots of reasons I’d rather not argue about guns — excuse me, sorry, I didn’t mean to say “argue,” I meant to say “join the conversation about guns.”

It’s not that I don’t like guns. I do. I’m a gadget geek all the way down to my bones. As far as I’m concerned, guns in almost all their incarnations are some of the coolest gadgets ever contrived by the human mind. They’re shiny; the best ones have lots of moving parts; they make enough noise to thrill just about anybody; and, if you have a really good gun and you practice every day, you can hit the bull’s eye of a target a mile away. Don’t try to tell me that’s not cool, because I won’t listen.

On the flip side, most guns are made to do just one thing: Kill people, immediately, from a safe distance. Not cool at all. A very douchey thing to do, when it comes down to brass tacks. If you want to kill someone, man up and do it with your bare hands. Argue all you want about how you need to kill people with a gun, but I won’t listen to that, either.

Which brings me to the most important reason I’d rather not argue about guns: I don’t want to get shot. Arguing about guns seems to elevate the blood pressure of the people doing the arguing. I’m not saying there’s going to be a shooting in every argument, I’m just saying it’s a lot more likely in a heated argument where you can be pretty sure at least one side has a gun. You can just have that argument between yourselves while I go play with my toys in my basement lair. You’re always welcome to join me, of course. Don’t bring your gun, though.

That said, I’m going to argue anyway. Shoot me.

My argument, in fact, is with Thomas Jefferson, who gets dragged into this “conversation” by way of his famous quote about the tree of liberty:

God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions, it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. … And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to the facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.

It’s a strange quote to invoke, not least because I would think that patriots wouldn’t like it implied that they’re full of the same kind of shit you’d find in tyrants. It’s one of those metaphors that sounds all lofty and highfalutin, but only if you don’t think about it too much.

If you’re going to quote one of the founders in support of your argument in favor of taking up arms against the government, it seems to me that Jefferson is probably not your best choice, either. You might consider quoting somebody like Washington instead. A guy who will sneak up on the enemy in the middle of the night and kill them in their sleep, on Christmas, carries a little more weight than a career politician who picks up a pen instead of a gun and writes a few grand words now and then about how great it would be if somebody else did the rebelling. There’s my two cents on that.

The rebellion Jefferson was talking about in this quote above is not the American revolution, but Shay’s Rebellion. Shay led a bunch of armed citizens on a raid of a federal armory. He gets a lot of credit for moxie, but his rebels got stomped like bugs, and Shay’s Rebellion, instead of warning the country’s rulers not to fuck with armed citizens, pushed them instead in the direction of a stronger federal government. Maybe I’m getting the wrong message here, but I feel like that’s a story you’d want to stay away from if you’re arguing for less government, particularly when, four years later, Washington used his newly-ratified constitutional powers to stomp some more rebels in the Whiskey Rebellion and, not incidentally, make him more badass than before.

It seems to me that armed uprisings aren’t all that Jefferson seems to think they’re cracked up to be. I wonder how he’d feel about rebellions if he’d fought in one? I could be wrong, but maybe he’d have put it the way Major General Smedley Butler did:

War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small ‘inside’ group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.

Butler was a badass Marine. And a two-time Medal of Honor winner. And his name was Smedley. Nuff said.

smedley | 8:35 am CDT
Category: Big Book of Quotations, daily drivel, yet another rant | Tags:
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Monday, December 31st, 2012

Peter Sagal: I want to hear your observations, diplomatic as I’m sure they will be, about the differences between the British and the American system [of politics].

Sir Peter Westmacott: Well, you did set up a political system all those years ago which I think was probably designed to ensure that something you rather unkindly called ‘tyranny’ could not be imported across the ocean. So, you set up a system designed not to work, as I understand it.

Sagal: That’s pretty much the idea, yeah.

from Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me!

 

differences | 4:02 pm CDT
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Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

Bronco Bama and Mitt Romney make me want to cry too, Abby.

tired of bronco bama & mitt romney | 6:04 pm CDT
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Thursday, October 18th, 2012

I watched the presidential debates Tuesday night, not because I was interested in listening to the same old crap coming out of the mouths of the candidates but, honestly, because I felt guilty about not taking a more active part in the democratic process. What did I learn? Something very important, really. It turns out I can’t stand either one of the candidates for president.

This is no surprise, by the way. I did not tune in to the debates thinking that either one of them would change my mind on anything. I’m not likely to vote for the smug, self-important Republican candidate any more than I’m likely to vote for the disconnected, blah blah Democratic candidate. Neither one of the choices who get top billing fire me up, and the other candidates (Quick! Name one!) leave me just as indifferent, but there’s enough of my fifth-grade teacher’s civic pride stuck in my hindbrain to make me feel bad that I don’t at least pretend to pay attention to what’s going on in the national political realm. Also, I knew My Darling B wanted to watch, so I fired up a laptop, found a good live feet on teh intarwebs and plugged in a set of external speakers so we could watch from the sofa with a couple cold beers.

Thank goodness for alcohol, that’s all I’ve got to say.

Is there currently a more uninspiring speaker in the political area, other than Reince Priebus, than our sitting president? This question has come up in every administration since G.H.W. Bush (without the part about the guy with the made-up name) and the answer, every time, has been “no.” Sometimes Mr. Obama can rev up a crowd, but whatever makes the magic happen seems to be dependent on the barometric pressure, or the pizza he ate. The pundits all seem to think he did rather well on Tuesday, but I was watching and it looked to me as if his performance was at best lackluster. If I’d been standing where he was standing I would’ve punched that Romney guy right in the nose on at least three different occasions. Bam! “Who’s a failure now, punk, huh?” If Mr. Obama had done that, I’d respect him a lot more today.

I’ve got to admit, Mr. Gotta Have The Last Word put on a pretty good show. Too bad I can’t believe a single thing he says, because in order to do that he would have to tell us how he thinks he’s going to balance the budget. “I know how to do it,” he kept saying, “I’ve done it before and I can do it again!” But he never explained how he would herd the cats in Congress together to make that happen. Every president since Jimmy Carter has said he’s going to balance the budget, but from what I can remember off the top of my head the only one who pulled off a budget surplus was President Gropius Maximus. I’m pretty sure that was done with smoke and mirrors, though, because how can you balance a trillion-dollar budget? Anything with the word “trillion” in it isn’t a budget. It’s an accounting nightmare.

That wasn’t what bugged me most, though. What bugged me most was the countdown clocks. Did you see the countdown clocks? If you did, would you please tell me what they were for? They didn’t seem to be there for the benefit of the candidates. No matter how bitterly they complained about the other guy’s time, each of them was loath to stop rambling when they could plainly see on any one of the dozen or so clocks in the room that the countdown had reached zero, and the moderator was just as reluctant to mention it to either of them. What were those clocks for? I never did figure it out.

There’s one more presidential debate on the calendar, but I’m not sure that all the beer in Milwaukee would make me feel numb enough to sit through it.

debates | 5:45 am CDT
Category: current events, daily drivel, yet another rant | Tags:
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Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

I would be such a terrible moderator for presidential debates.

“Let’s stay on topic, please.”

“Would you please answer the question, sir?”

“Stick to the facts without trying to spin them, please.”

“Hold on: Do you have any statistics on that?”

“Time, sir.”

“Time, gentlemen.”

“Time, goddammit, time! TIME!”

moderation | 5:39 am CDT
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Saturday, September 22nd, 2012

I got a phone call from a moocher this morning. Stand on a street corner with a cardboard sign, or make the most of technology and call me on the phone; either way, you’re just a moocher if you’re begging me for money.

It was so unusual for the phone to ring any time before nine o’clock that I picked it up, in contravention of my rule never to answer the land-line because only telemarketers call us at that number. We keep a land-line only because I’m stuck in the past and have an old rotary phone. I can dial it, and the handset has the reassuring texture and heft of bakelite that can’t be faked by any plastic phone. Also, it’ll work when the power goes out, and it weighs in at about ten pounds. Clock somebody over the head with that and they’re going down! You may be able to tuck a cell phone in your pocket and use it to make calls from anywhere, but as self-defense weapons they suck.

Anyway, I answered the phone even though I knew in the back of my mind that I really shouldn’t have. The caller asked if My Darling B was home, and I gave the usual response to that question when asked by a voice I wasn’t familiar with: She’s not available right now. May I take a message?

“Are you a member of the household?” There’s another red flag that you’re talking to a telemarketer. But I thought I’d play along with him for the moment, so I said yes.

“Well, then I can direct this call to yourself,” he said cheerily. Sounds like somebody didn’t pay attention in English when they were studying the use of the reflexive, assuming students even study English in school any longer. A lot of the e-mail I get seems to suggest they haven’t for years, or, if they do, the bar is set so low that Tyrion Lannister would have trouble limboing under it. (Geek joke, sorry, couldn’t help myself.)

“I’m calling on behalf of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee,” he began, “and this call will be recorded for training purposes. Did you know that for only twenty-five dollars —”

I stuck with him that long only to make sure I wasn’t missing out on an opportunity to take part in a national poll, which I wouldn’t miss for anything, given they’re much more significant than my one paltry vote. As soon as he flipped up his little cardboard sign (I WORK FOR POLITICIANS PLEASE HELP GOD BLESS), I dropped the handset in the cradle without a word.

You need twenty-five dollars? Go ask your lobbyists.

moocher | 9:51 am CDT
Category: current events, daily drivel, entertainment, messing w/telemarketers, play, yet another rant | Tags:
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Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

I don’t know if you’ve heard, but apparently there’s this election coming up? If you haven’t heard, then I’m just going to assume you don’t have a television or radio and you live miles from anyone who does and you don’t have a car and you never talk to anybody and, as far as you’re concerned, the rest of the world can go to hell and you’re never coming down out of your tree again. Did I get it right? Would you mind if I climbed up into the tree next to yours? Just for a little while. You can show me how to hunt for squirrels and then I’ll go find a tree far away from yours, promise. Just don’t make me stay here and listen to Romney and Obama and Ryan and Whatshisname bicker until November. I can’t take two more months of their crap.

can’t wait till it’s over | 5:35 am CDT
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Monday, June 11th, 2012

Heard this on the radio this morning: “If you’ve ever wanted to give money to a politician, but you couldn’t get to your bank or your checkbook, you may soon be able to make a donation over the phone.” Well, thank goodness we will soon have another way to fork over our money to politicians! Why has it taken so long, anyway? You’d think that, by now, they would’ve figured out every single possible way to make that happen, and yet they somehow missed credit card payments over the phone. Bet that was a facepalm moment.

payout | 5:34 am CDT
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