9/22/2017

The Rude Pundit's Biennial Anniversary Fundraiser: Your Chance to Give Me Money

Through most of Bush, all of Obama, and now plowing down the road until the end of history with Trump, this here blog has been going strong for nearly 14 years. Next year is the big anniversary of the first time I thought, "Blogging? Shit, any monkey can do that."

And through it all, the orgasmic good, the ferociously bad, and the obscenely ugly, Rude Readers have been there by the thousands, gluttons for punishment, coming here for a rhetorical purge so they can face the world a little less burdened.

Here's the deal: Every couple of years (because I'm not NPR), I wanna update the computer, try out a couple of projects (like a podcast and more video), and restock the whiskey cabinet. I might even pay another visit to Miss Stephanie Miller out in L.A. if you guys give the scratch for a plane ticket.

So I do a fundraiser. Every year, Rude Readers come through with donations big and small.

If you wanna donate this year, if you got some spare cash, you can do it the usual way, through PayPal.

Just pound that button over there on the right or click right here. Hell, I even take credit cards.


Republicans' Fake Concern for Fetuses: Flint Edition

So here we are, once again, looking at Republican policies that result in deaths and damage. We already knew that the disastrous decision to switch the water source for Flint, Michigan, which was done by emergency managers appointed by Republican governor Rick Snyder in order to save money, led to elevated lead in the water, elevated lead in the kids, and undrinkable, unusable water. Hell, we know now that a handful of people died of Legionnaire's disease because of bacterial contamination in the water, too.

Now we get the gut-churning news that the water caused the pregnancy rate to plunge and fetal deaths to skyrocket in Flint during the 18 months the contaminated water was running through the faucets and fountains there. That's not hyperbole. That's from a report by Kansas University researchers, which saw a 12% drop in the pregnancy rate and a 58% rise in the fetal death rate, a number the scientists called "horrifyingly large."

Need a graphic representation of this? Here ya go:


The top line is the fertility rate in 15 other cities in Michigan, which is fairly consistent. The line that takes a dive is Flint. (Also of note: In general, the fertility rate in Michigan improved once the Affordable Care Act was passed.)

That's as clear evidence as you could ask that Republicans' concern about fetuses stops once abortion politics are taken out of the equation. And let's not deny the racist implications here of making a majority African American community essentially guinea pigs in a budget-cutting experiment. We used to say that conservatives only care about children before they are born. But the truth of the matter is that they only care about fetuses when they can use that "care" to whip up their ignorant base.

There is something I keep coming back to whenever I read or hear about Flint, something I wrote back in January 2016: "Michigan has a $700 million surplus in its state budget. It would have cost perhaps $100 a day to put phosphates into the water when the supply was first switched to prevent the water from corroding the pipes" and leaching lead into the water. It was foreseeable and preventable. An ounce of prevention, man, just the tiniest bit. I wonder how much funding was spent on things like the militarization of the police instead of making people's homes safe at a fundamental level.

The authors of the study conclude, "Our results suggest that a more lax regulatory environment in the context of drinking water may have substantial unforeseen effects on maternal and infant health, including large reductions in the number of births." They call for greater spending on the EPA and more regulations to protect essential things like, you know, water.

Which just makes me realize how deeply screwed we are from womb to grave right now.

9/21/2017

The Rude Pundit's Biennial Money Grab Fundraiser: 14 Years of Bloggery

Yes, yes, yes, next week marks 14 years since I first put pot smoke-stained fingers to whiskey-sticky keyboard and barbarically yawped out the beginning of this here blog. It was a desperate time, with the worst president in history plunging us into a war based on lies before wrecking a strong economy that had been handed to him by a Democrat. Hmmm...

Fourteen years is about 830 in blogger years, and the scarred hellscape of this internet highway is littered with the remnants of blogs great and small that have come and gone. Some have moved on to greater success, some have passed away, some have just wandered off into the desert, driven mad, no doubt, by the snowballing barrage of fucknuttery that comes rolling our way.

But, goddamnit, this stubborn sumbitch is still here, through a book, a CD, two stage shows, and radio and TV appearances. With a brief pause to recalibrate in the wake of the election of the new worst president in history, this here Rude Pundit has been a constant companion to many of you. Let's keep riding along. And to those of you who have just recently joined in the convoy barreling through the American carnage, welcome aboard.

So, every couple of years, I ask for money, which you have always kindly, generously, amazingly donated. I'm not gonna lie. There's no noble cause here. I'm gonna buy a new computer, and I'm gonna restock the whiskey. Plus one or two other things:

If she'll have me (and I think she will), your donations will help me go back to Los Angeles to join Madam Stephanie Miller for another go round on her Happy Hour Podcast. The first two were utter, embarrassing, hilarious filth. Let's go again.

Oh, and I'm gonna start my own podcast. Yeah, fuck it. Everybody will have a podcast some day, so why the hell not. And, if I get enough, I'll do a few more videos.

Here's the deal: You can donate by clicking over there on that PayPal button on the right or right here. It even accepts credit cards.

And here's something new: I've started a Patreon page. Yeah, monthly subscribers will get extra bonus posts and stuff and it starts at just $1 a month. That's right. The cost of a cup of bodega coffee once a month will get you special, extra rude punditry. I've got a simple goal of 1000 subscribers, with that podcast and more video stuff as the result.

Oh, and, hell, I'll open this up for any questions. You don't have to donate to ask, just like you don't have to donate to read. I'll answer a couple over the next week of this fundraiser

But I'd sure appreciate whatever affordable, adequate love you can toss in the hat.

Back soon with more ravenous rudeness.

Republicans Admit the Whole Trumpcare Scam by Bribing Lisa Murkowski With More Obamacare

(Don't forget: The Rude Pundit's Biennial Fundraiser/Whiskey Support is happening now.)

Republicans are desperate to pass a bill they can claim repeals and replaces the Affordable Care Act. They have to do it because they said they'd do it, even though what they said all along is they would pass something better and any analysis by anyone not a GOP meat puppet shows that everything they've attempted to pass is far, far worse, so they're not really doing what they promised except at the crudest level.

But fuck that. Republicans just want to go around the country and crow that they did it, goddamnit, even if that means they have to stand on a stack of corpses to be heard. There's your image of the 2017 GOP: Mitch McConnell in the September 30 twilight, tortoise howling in victory atop the bodies of his dead and dying constituents, who would still vote for him.

Now, in an attempt to fist-fuck the Graham-Cassidy-other-assholes bill through the Senate, Republicans have decided to just say, "Fuck it" and flat out bribe Alaska's Lisa Murkowski. And what is the bribe? Alaska gets to keep Obamacare.

No, really. Here's a summary of the proposal: "Alaska (along with Hawaii) will continue to receive Obamacare’s premium tax credits while they are repealed for all other states. It appears this exemption will not affect Alaska receiving its state allotment under the new block grant in addition to the premium tax credits." On top of that, Alaska's Medicaid funding not only doesn't get cut; it gets more. The amendment to the bill "provides for an increased federal Medicaid matching rate (FMAP) for both Alaska and Hawaii."

In other words, Republicans are admitting that the only way they can get Senator Murkowski to vote for the bill is to make sure that Alaska doesn't have to deal with much of the bill, especially when it comes to funding. In otherer words, major portions of the bill are a fucking scam and the GOP is admitting that.

Hell, back in June, Murkoswki said as much. "Let’s just say that they do something that’s so Alaska-specific just to, quote, ‘get me.' Then you have a nationwide system that doesn’t work. That then comes crashing down and Alaska’s not able to kind of keep it together on its own." Now we get to see if Murkowski, who really fucking hates McConnell, has the courage of her own damn words.

There are so many lies bound up with this blatant buy-off. Like the lie of how they want states to be able to figure things out on their own. Well, can Ohio, Vermont, Nevada, and other Republican-led states, as well as the Democratic-led states, now say, "Hey, we want that same fuckin' deal as Alaska, man"?

Or how about the lie of how much they trust the states. Louisiana's other shitty senator, John Kennedy, wanted to ban states from setting up single-payer systems. Why? Because something, something, freedom, no doubt: "I don't think states should have the authority to take money from the American taxpayer and set up a single-payer system." And, in a stunning bit of parody, Kennedy said, "I think the only way we are going to solve the health care problem in America is through the private sector." Motherfucker, the private sector is the health care problem in America.

This whole effort is such a savage farce that you half expect it to end in an orgy in a pool of money where the Republicans fuck each other with rolled up wads of cash to the masturbatory delight of the Koch brothers while the Mercer family fondles each other in joy.

9/20/2017

Graham-Cassidy Dicks Over So Many People (and Its Sponsors Are Liars)

There's a ton of insidious shit going down in the massive clusterfuck that is the effort to bring the Graham-Cassidy-and-the-rest's "Lynch Obamacare" bill to a vote in the Senate before September 30. Motherfuckers are just flat out lying about shit now in order to get support.

For instance, they insist that the bill protects people with pre-existing conditions. Here's co-sponsor and Louisiana Senator Bill "I Look Like a Creepy Panty-Sniffer" Cassidy on CNN this morning: "There's a specific provision that says that if a state applies for a waiver, it must ensure that those with pre-existing conditions have affordable and adequate coverage." But what the fuck is that? The bill doesn't define "affordable" or "adequate." And I have looked at the fuckin' bill itself. Funny thing: except for one time, the word "affordable" is used only to talk about the Affordable Care Act, which seems to have cornered the fucking market on affordability.

Where's that other usage? In the waivers section. What the bill has about states getting waivers from requirements for the block grants that will take the place of Medicaid is simple. On pre-existing conditions, the waiver applications have to say "how the State intends to maintain access to adequate and affordable health insurance coverage for individuals with pre-existing conditions if such waiver is approved." You see the wide wiggle room there? States just need to say how they "intend" to "maintain access." That ain't a fucking requirement to do anything but say, "Yes, let me pave the road to Hell some more with my fucking intentions." It is not an ironclad assurance in the way Cassidy and Graham are promising it is, the lying shit-sacks.

So you might say, "Well, obviously, if a state doesn't do what it says it's going to do, its waiver can be taken away, right?" No, you fucking credulous dolt. Because, see, once the state gets the waiver approved for one year, it's considered approved for every year after that. Let's go to the bill: "If an application of a State submitted under this subsection is approved by the Administrator for a year, the application shall be deemed to be approved by the Administrator for that year and each subsequent year through December 31, 2026." In other words, Texas can write in its waiver application, "Oh, we totes intend to make sure the cancer patients get affordable, adequate coverage, scout's fuckin' honor, man," and then they don't have to do a goddamn thing because there's no mechanism to take away the waiver once it's given.

Oh, and the waivers are decided by the Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Who appoints that person? Who the fuck do you think?

Another tit-punch in the bill is its blatant attack on anything to do with abortion (with the usual trio of exceptions). First, it says that any insurance that includes abortion coverage is not a "qualified plan," which means that several states, like California, Oregon, and New York, where abortion coverage is required, would have all of their plans immediately ineligible for tax credits to individuals and businesses.

On top of that, there's this groin kick in the middle of the bill: "no Federal funds provided from a program referred to in this subsection that is considered direct spending for any year may be made available to a State for payments to a prohibited entity, whether made directly to the prohibited entity or through a managed care organization under contract with the State." What is a "prohibited entity"? Any place that "is primarily engaged in family planning services, reproductive health, and related medical care; and...provides for abortions." So here is a back door way to slash spending on Planned Parenthood. Dream fulfilled, motherfuckers.

By the way, the bill mentions the word "abortion" 15 times. It uses "pregnancy" 8 times, most of them having to do with abortion. These fucknuts are obsessed.

When I originally started to write this post, I was intending to talk about how Graham-Cassidy-fuck-you dicks over states that expanded Medicaid under the ACA, how it was a calculated punishment for those who dared to be compassionate, how it was taking money away from liberal states like New York and California to give to the ones run by savages, like Texas.

But this isn't just an anti-blue state or anti-Obama bill. It's anti-human, as in "inhumane," as in "devoid of humanity." Which is the motto of the Republican Party.

9/19/2017

The Short Bus to Armageddon: Trump at the U.N.

When do we get to stop being embarrassed, huh? Every time that President Donald Trump opens his lamprey mouth and shakes his semen-colored mane, it's like another shiv in the gut while we stand in the prison shower that is the United States in 2017.

"Which group of shit-sniffing baboons is he gonna talk to this time?" we wonder. Will it be the crazed conservative hawks, the ones whose savagery make Democratic hawks look like confused parakeets? Will it be his base, whose heads are evolving into the shape of a permanent dunce cap, the one-third of the American populace who pretend they want anarchy when, really, all they want are more guns and fewer dark-skinned people? Will it be the unsatiated capitalists, the ones who would monetize child rape if they thought they could squeeze a few more pennies out of the bloodied anuses of babies? And usually, it's all three, to varying degrees, with Trump a carnival barker yelling at the freaks and carnies to scoop up the spilled popcorn and toss it back in with the rest to sell again tomorrow.

At the United Nations today, Trump spoke stiffly and boorishly, his pinch-fingered hand gesticulating like he was jacking off his own micropenis. It was like some kind of dumb college prank, where you make the stupidest freshman get up at karaoke and sing the National Anthem instead of some damn Ed Sheeran song. Put a MAGA hat on that bitch, and you've got a Trump voter.

Whatever you think of the U.N., most of the leaders in that room are people who have dedicated their lives to the politics of their nation. Most of them are vastly educated, well-read, worldly, and, to varying degrees, smart enough to know a fucking idiot when they see one. So you had to imagine the reactions to Trump at the General Assembly ranged from horror to bemusement to calculating how easy it would be to roll this rube (looking at you, Saudi Arabia).

Did Trump brag about how great things are now that he's been president for all of 8 months? Fuck, yeah, you know he did. Actually, apparently, his presidency started even earlier: "The United States has done very well since Election Day last November 8th. The stock market is at an all-time high -- a record. Unemployment is at its lowest level in 16 years, and because of our regulatory and other reforms, we have more people working in the United States today than ever before. Companies are moving back, creating job growth the likes of which our country has not seen in a very long time." Yes, I'm sure Hage Geingob, the president of Namibia, who has a PhD in international relations from the University of Leeds, really thought that Trump deserved the credit for this. (By the way, interestingly, Geingob came to the United States to start college at Temple University, in Philadelphia, in 1964 before transferring to Fordham University in New York City. Trump started at Fordham in 1964 before transferring to the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.)

Were there lines that should have made any sentient world leader just crack up with sad laughter? You bet. "In America, we do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example for everyone to watch," Trump had the gall to say as most of Central and South America, a good chunk of East Asia, and assorted islands from all over the world rolled their eyes so hard they saw their own brain pans.

Sure, but did he sound like a pathetic, low-level thug who wants everyone to think he's a made man? Aw, come on. That's his default mode. He warned, "We can no longer be taken advantage of, or enter into a one-sided deal where the United States gets nothing in return." He threatened, "The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea." And, yeah he called Kim Jong-un "Rocket Man." In front of the U.N. It's like having your drunk aunt shake her bare titties at her nephew's graduation.

And, obviously, Trump talked as if no one else there has any idea how the world works. "If the righteous many do not confront the wicked few, then evil will triumph," he said in a line that's right out of his Captain America fanfic. He continued, "When decent people and nations become bystanders to history, the forces of destruction only gather power and strength." Certainly, every country that has dealt with terrorism, which is a fuck-bunch of 'em, appreciated being told they should not be bystanders.

On it went, with shitting on the Iran deal (which is working, despite every feeble protest Trump makes), praise for Russia and Turkey, called out the "loser terrorists," and repeated a blatant lie: "Our country has achieved more against ISIS in the last eight months than it has in many, many years combined."

Yeah, it was like piss from heaven that all the golden showers lovers on his side could bathe themselves in. And everything you need to know about the speech, and everything that you believe about it, is contained in how you think about this: One of the first people to praise the speech was Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who tweeted, "In over 30 years in my experience with the UN, I never heard a bolder or more courageous speech."

Yes, it's so very brave to threaten to wipe out a desperate tiny country, to walk away from a peace deal, and to ignore the greatest threat to the planet, climate change, altogether. We're riding the short bus to Armageddon. And there are no stops ahead.

9/18/2017

Fresh Health Care Fuckery: Your McCain Praise Was Probably Wasted

Ah, remember when Mighty Maverick John McCain was the mighty maverick hero last time there was a vote on a bullshit health care "reform" bill with his mighty mavericky thumbs-down? Remember the ejaculations of praise for this irascible cockhead doing something decent just to fuck with Donald Trump? Remember his slobber-coated speech where he said of the Senate, "Let's trust each other. Let's return to regular order"? Remember how he insisted, "Let the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee under Chairman Alexander and Ranking Member Murray hold hearings, try to report a bill out of committee with contributions from both sides. Then bring it to the floor for amendment and debate"?

Yeah, fuck all that noise. Now that the new spiked dildo of health care, the Graham-Cassidy-etc bill, is threatening to be rammed up the hemorrhoidal anus of the American people, with just about every fucking terrible thing as the last attempt intact, McCain said that he wanted to hear from Gov. Doug Ducey of Arizona. Ducey had opposed the previous Trumpcare bill because it dicked over Arizonans on expanded Medicaid. Now Ducey has said he supports Graham-Cassidy-who-the-fuck-cares, even though the aforementioned dicking remains, and McCain has tweeted that he's still feeling cranky about the process but is "inclined" to support the bill.

And even if McCain ends up going thumbs-down again, fuck him for even contemplating an upraised thumb. Either you've got principles or you don't, motherfucker.

In all the time the GOP has had, since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, since the election, since the failure of the "Fuck You, We Don't Care If You Die Bankrupt" bill in July, they have not made a case for repeal except "We said we'd do it." It's like a bunch of morons promising to light their farts if their favorite team wins a championship. The only people who wanna see that are other morons. Right now, we're down to 8.8% of Americans without health insurance, and a good number of those are because of the assholes in Republican states not expanding Medicaid.

Who does this bill help? It's faith-based legislation. Republicans say that Obamacare is making you suffer, so, if you're GOP-inclined, you believe it's making you suffer (even if it's paying for your chemo or psoriasis medication). And you have staked your entire political belief system on your investment in this bullshit. You'd rather die a miserable death than admit that you were always the mark for a bunch of low-rent Barnums. This way to the amazing egress, idiots. Grab a snipe on your way.

I wrote last week about the remarkable care I received in the UK for free. I was in the middle of the fourth largest city in the country, and every complaint I've heard about single-payer was rendered utterly and completely false.

Yet here we are, unable to even agree that tens of millions of people, including those with pre-existing conditions, who are now covered by the Affordable Care Act, deserve to be treated as human beings. What a stupid goddamned society we've built. It's repulsive. It's disgusting. It's immoral. And yet so many of our dumb fellow citizens think this is the way things ought to be.

The cruelest trick that capitalists ever played on Americans was making them believe they didn't need everyone else. Our fake rugged individualism will be our undoing.

And for those of us who do give a shit about our fellow Americans, it's once more to the phones to make Senators fear for their careers.

9/14/2017

An American in the UK National Health Service

It had been a stressful few weeks, with far more than the usual amount of fuckery and frantic frenzy, and I arrived in Liverpool last Friday on a total of about 4 hours of sleep in two days. Walking around the Liverpool One area shortly after dropping off my bags, heading towards the Tesco to get some supplies, I realized that I was sweating like Nicholas Cage on a meth bender and my heart was racing like, well, the same. I felt a tightness in my chest, short of breath, needing to sit down, and I thought, "Well, fuck, this would fuck up the next week or so." When your Dad dies of a heart attack at 46, you take that shit seriously.

So I found a National Health Service walk-in clinic just around the corner from Tesco. It was in the same space as the NHS's sexual health office, which offered free morning after pills, among other things. I went in and there were maybe twenty people sitting there. I don't know how many needed sex-related attention and how many needed regular medical help. But a very nice receptionist took my name, date of birth, and phone number, and then she asked what was wrong. I described my condition without the mention of Nicholas Cage or meth, which could have confused the whole situation. She very nicely told me to take a seat and that triage would be with me shortly. The triage nurse, I learned, examines everyone to see who might need to get in sooner than others. Apparently, I was looking terrible enough to be bumped to the front of the line.

After a few moments, I was called back to see the nurse practitioner, Niamh (pronounced "Neeve" because, well, Irish names). I can honestly say that I've never been treated with as much care, patience, and good humor by a medical professional as I was by  Niamh. She asked permission every time she wanted to do anything, from take my blood pressure to listen to my pulse. Even as I kept insisting that I was probably just exhausted and whiny, she took everything about my condition incredibly seriously and assured me that I should just follow through with what she was recommending. "It won't cost you anything," she said more than once, as if understanding the anxiety that Americans have about health care spending. "Unless you're admitted to hospital." She laughed and joked, and we talked like we're human beings having a conversation, not a transaction.

Niamh asked me a few questions about health insurance in the United States and shook her head at it. "I'm afraid we're going to head to that kind of system," she exclaimed. She told me a story about when she and her family - husband and five children - visited New York City the previous year. Her youngest, a toddler, had gotten an ear infection, so they went to a walk-in clinic, just as I had come to this one. She told the receptionist that they would pay out of pocket for expenses because they would be reimbursed when they came home. "Now, they prescribed my little one a medicine," Niamh said, "one that I know is in that locked cupboard behind you. And I know that it costs about three pounds. Do you know how much they charged me in the states? $354." She laughed, as one can when they get the money back for outrageous expenses. I told her that her experience is pretty typical.

Apparently, the way the UK system works is that whoever is taking care of you stays with you until you are moved on to the next person. Niamh recommended that I go to the Royal Liverpool Hospital for blood tests. She called ahead to see if they could move me through quickly because she knew that I wanted to get back to what I was doing. And she insisted, gently, that I take an ambulance to the hospital, even as I said I could just take a cab and would be embarrassed by such a fuss. She thought I was foolish for saying that and said that she didn't want to have to worry about anything happening to me on the ride over. I relented when she said I wouldn't be wheeled out on a stretcher. Just a wheelchair.

The two EMTs were also kind and professional and chatty, utterly and completely concerned with my well-being. One of the EMTs, a woman named Phil, told me that she had just gotten into the Royal Coast Guard sea rescue training program. The other, a man named Jack, told me about his two teenage boys, one who loves history and one who was an IT guy. When we arrived at the hospital, they advocated for me to get treatment, even though my blood pressure had returned to earth and, really, I was feeling much better. Phil and Jack said their good-byes when a nurse took me (by now, I was on a wheeled stretcher) to check me in, sitting in the hallway outside the emergency room. I was placed next to another gurney with a grizzled old man there who said he was "Mike" and wanted me to fist-bump his scabby, fungal hand. I did because, fuck, why not.

People working there wanted to talk about New York and New Jersey. One attendant, an old guy named Mick who sounded like John Lennon, chatted me up about Bruce Springsteen and Jake Clemons. The nurse who did my ECG (my second of the afternoon) wanted to talk about The Sopranos and places she could visit from the show (looking at you, Holsten's Ice Cream).

Finally, I was brought to a curtained room in the ER where, after a bit, a doctor came in and took blood samples. The doctor examined me again and, even though she insisted I should stay for another two hours and await the lab results, she brought me forms where I could discharge myself, promising I would call to see if the tests showed anything. (Spoiler: They didn't. I was fine.) As I filled out the forms, I asked her and the attending doctor, who needed to witness, for restaurant recommendations, which they readily gave me.

I've sped up the last part here, but, from walking into the clinic to leaving the ER of the hospital, it was a total of four hours. And there was not a single person I met who seemed angry or beleaguered or disgusted by the system they worked in. Every one of them was simply devoted to making sure I was ok. No profit motive. No forms to fill out. No card to check. No in-network or out-of-network. No phone calls to beg for approval. I didn't pay a dime. That's how you treat a guest.

I was blown away. Obviously, I know it can't always work so smoothly and efficiently (and that there are rocky times ahead for the NHS), but, holy shit, there was something so sane and humane about the entire process that I felt a revulsion towards what we're put through in the United States just to try to not die, the degradation of putting a price tag on our health.

If we actually lived up to the ideals that we supposedly have as Americans, we'd look out for each other by making sure that no one has to have one's worth measured against what one can afford.

Fucking pass single-payer. Or stop fucking pretending that we're a society and just admit that the USA is a Darwinian dystopia.

9/13/2017

Guest Posts on Life in Trump Country, Part 3: Florida Wants to Be Blue, But Can't Help But Be Red

(Today, I saw an anti-Brexit rally in Trafalgar Square with thousands of people cheering to stay in the EU. Meanwhile, in the United States, we're still bumblefucking our way through the Trumpocalypse. Here's a perspective on that from Paul in Florida. Note: He has chosen to use a lowercase "t" in "Trump.")

I've lived in Florida since my family moved to stay back in 1976. Dad just retired from the Navy,  and we moved close to where my mom's parents were. Since then, through college and into work and now into my 40s, the Sunshine State is all I can remember ever living in.

Some parts of Florida are relatively low-key about politics, or at least there's enough diversity among the people that you aren't drowned by the far right stuff. But it's there. You'll see the anti-abortion billboards in the smaller-populated counties up north, or along I-4 in the central corridor where a lot of evangelical and hard-right Protestant churches gathered during the 1980s population boom.

When trump started his campaign, there just seemed to be a shift in the mood. It may have been I grew more sensitive about it, but I started seeing more super-trucks driving around with the CBF whipping from the payloads. This was also when I noticed the bizarre exhaust pipes those trucks had, which issued black smoke and bad odors every time they revved out at a stoplight. I finally found out about Coal Rollers, which truckers had to waste money on to make their engines belch out more carbon shit all to piss off any hippie treehuggers in their midst. It's insane, and it explained the mindset of a trump voter so perfectly.

I did notice about five people on my Facebook pages - I follow them because of local activities - suddenly getting more open about their anti-Obama views. After November, one of them got so vulgar about it - posting the racist photos and memes floating out there - I finally had to defriend him. I hadn't had to do that in four years (I try to be respectful with the FB friends with differing political views, and engage when there's corrections or arguments to make, but I try to avoid the whole blocking thing).

Part of the problem of living in trump Country is having to live in a state that is of two minds about politics: the population leans Democratic overall, but terrible voter turnout - either from apathy or the twisted gerrymandering that's hampered Florida for decades - keeps the Republicans in power at the state level, and disproportionately powerful in Congress and elsewhere. The Blue sides are mostly in the urban centers - South Florida, Tampa, parts of Orlando, the college town of Gainesville - but the Red areas are spread all over, giving the GOP a geographic advantage over the populace.

As a result, the voters keep pushing for smaller classroom sizes and more schools, better election districts, more funding for environmental protections (especially our Everglades and other wetlands), and other progressive issues... while the elected officials keep ignoring the referendum mandates and push their tax cuts and land development pet projects.

On a personal level, I do what I can to tune out the wingnut stuff, and stay in touch with online channels of like-minded moderates and progressives. But nearly everybody I know like that doesn't live in Florida; I keep feeling like I'm the only one here in the state struggling to fight against the ignorance and grief. I know there are others who share my views and my current sorrows, but I can't see them. And it just gets so lonely.

9/12/2017

Guest Posts on Life in Trump Country, Part 2: Idaho Is Owned by Republicans

(As I continue my search for a decent meal in London, I've turned the blog over to some red staters who are not fond of our president. It's for all of us who are sick of hearing about Trump voters who don't give a damn if Trump is boning Ivanka. Today's entry comes from Kent Jensen from way out in Idaho. He explains the "cognitive dissonance" that it takes to love Trump while being from that state.)

I live in the reddest state in the union. Others may claim this title, but they are poseurs. Idaho is not only run by Republicans; it’s owned lock stock and barrel by them. All state officers are Republicans. Republicans hold 84 percent of the seats in the state legislature. In every decision by Trump to kick the U.S. down to the bottom of the ladder, Idaho’s congressional delegation has been at the forefront. Pull us out of the Paris Climate Accords? Murray Energy-owned Senators Risch and Crapo were two of the signatories to the letter urging Trump to do so. Get rid of DACA? Governor Otter and our Attorney General were on board to sue the federal government over DACA. If Trump wants to strip millions of their health care, the boys from Idaho would help. Need to defend Trump’s Russian collusion? Call Senator Risch. In fact, I’m not sure that these political jellyfish would abandon Trump even if he were caught throwing the pee hookers off the Ritz-Carlton Hotel balcony.

Idaho has an anti-federal government stance that is an inch deep and a mile wide. Idahoans complain about the federal government, but this state would dry up and blow away without it. The Snake River plain is one of the richest agricultural sections in the entire United States, and its existence depends upon the BLM’s management of dams on the Snake River that provide irrigation water. Rural counties receive substantial payments from the federal government that help pay for county services and schools. Idaho forests have some of the best fishing and hunting grounds in the US, all maintained by the federal government. Yet Republicans believe that their very lifeblood is being wrung out of them by the government.

They support Trump’s anti-trade stands, yet Idaho’s three largest trading partners are China, Mexico and Canada. If Trump did away with NAFTA, Idaho’s agricultural exports would sink. Trump’s elimination of the Pacific Rim trade pact has already impacted Idaho’s beef producers. Yet, nary a discouraging word is heard about Trump.

Additionally, Idaho Republicans love Trump’s anti-immigration stance, even though undocumented workers and their DACA-eligible children have been the ones who have labored to keep the agricultural engine purring along.

Idaho’s Republican Party also believes that it is the moral barometer of the state. Nowhere is this evidenced more than among the Mormon religion, which is dominant in south-central, eastern, and southeastern Idaho. The Mormon religion claims to hold itself to an overarching moral standard. Yet Idaho’s Mormons gave wholehearted support to Trump. Many believe that Trump is doing Jesus’s work and that good Mormons cannot be Democrats. Since they worship authority (you’ll never find any student protests at BYU), Trump’s penchant for authoritarianism doesn’t even get a second thought, nor does Trump’s aversion to the truth.

Even though Nazis were evicted from northern Idaho by the SPLC, they’re back. The forests of northern Idaho are full of last dayers, preppers, militiamen, or whatever they call themselves now. They claim to be the vanguard of white nationalism.

So, with its latent racism, it’s kinship with authoritarianism, along with its blatant hypocrisy, Idaho is the perfect state for Trump. Don’t get me wrong; there are many good people who live here, which is why the Trump support puzzle is so hard to decipher. Cognitive dissonance is my explanation, and, even though it was not formulated here, its roots grow deep and strong in Idaho.

A few days ago a neighbor posted to Facebook a meme that stated he had voted for Trump and if that made us angry, it didn’t matter because he was going to vote for Trump again. He’s probably right, and if Trump is still around in 2020, Idaho will throw its support his way. It’s the Republican thing to do out here.

9/11/2017

Guest Post on Life in Trump Country, Part 1: Arizona Is Like Hell

(Note: I'm out of the country for the week, taking some personal time, boss. In my absence, some great rude readers have written about life as a Trump hater in states that Trump won. Think of it as a necessary corrective to all those fucking New York Times stories about Trump voters sticking by their "man." Today's post is by Arizona resident Lauren E. Dillon)

Arizona is a lot like hell: the heat licks like flames, the air desiccates once-supple flesh, and sinners bloated with pride and privilege converge and bluster in incomprehensible callowness.

It’s at its worst in Scottsdale. These are not Rust Belt victims of modernization and downsizing. These are well-to-do white men stewing in their own juices of privilege and self-assuredness. They look upon a liberal woman like me, outspoken in my defense of brown skin, climate science, and equal rights, as deluded and below them.

They live sustained by their collective prejudices and unwavering in their Fox and Breitbart News-buoyed opinions. This is the land of Sheriff Joe with his tent city concentration camp, chain gangs, pink boxers, and Hispanic roundups. Often, they’ve served in his posse (yes, that’s what he named it), believing they’ve done their civic duty.

This is also the land of John McCain, once admired for his “maverick” qualities, now derided for defying their Orange Messiah. Whether he realizes it or not, McCain’s pulling a Lee Atwater, saving healthcare and attempting to cure Congress to make up for giving us Sarah Palin and Joe the Plumber, hawking war after war, and spewing racial epithets and insensitive put-downs.

And then came Trump. In a land where the Old West attitude of openly carrying weapons and defying social norms is celebrated, a loudmouth racist who derides everyone but their white male selves, who scorns intellect and science in favor of nineteenth century business and societal attitudes, who makes no effort towards diplomacy or decency, was manna from Wal-Mart. Any bags who once attempted to plug their inner douche have let it gush unimpeded. And they are legion.

But we live here and must for the time being. We own a house, have a grandchild enrolled in school, work decent paying jobs. Do I hate Arizona? Sometimes. Often. But I see glimpses of hope amid hate. When The Scourge came to town to rewrite his Charlottesville response and tease of his eventual pardon of Racist Joe, my 12-year-old grandson and I stood in 107 degree heat, holding signs above our heads with thousands of others, all united knowing this country is better than an imbecilic man-baby and his puffed-up minions. Downtown Phoenix contains large swaths of blue, as does Flagstaff and Sedona and Tucson. The Resistance grows, sometimes beaten back by overzealous police, overreaching executive actions, and personal despondency. But it grows.

We won’t let Pussygrabber and the Conceited Motherfuckers win. Because the answer to that one campaign question? Everything. We have everything to lose.

9/05/2017

Random Observations on This Fresh Wanton DACA Fuckery

1. Attorney General Jeff Sessions was practically giddy at the chance to sub for his cowardly Trumpmaster in this moment, and he was almost giggling when he read his pissy little statement that took a jackhammer to the ground underneath the feet of millions of people, many of them Americans (yeah, some of those Dreamers had kids). Like a malicious elf that just got done jacking off in the cookie cream, Sessions kept suppressing a smirk as he announced that President Tangerine Nightmare was rescinding the executive order that established the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

The words out of Sessions' whore mouth were calculated to incite the yahoos who make up Trump's devolved supporters. He called the Dreamers "800,000 mostly-adult illegal aliens," ignoring both that all DACA recipients were brought here at age 16 or younger and that "illegal aliens" is a phrase only assholes use now. So, of course, he said it even more.

Sessions somehow could dare to say, "Societies where the rule of law is subject to political whims and personal biases tend to become societies afflicted by corruption, poverty, and human suffering" while working for the man who pardoned Joe Arpaio, a poison who chewed up court orders and laws and shit them out, laughing and yowling and daring anyone to stop him from causing human suffering. That the ground beneath Sessions didn't open up and gnarled claws didn't skewer his scrotum and drag him to Hell is pretty much proof positive that there is no Satan.

2. President Trump's decision is the sort of disruptive, wanton fuckery that we can accurately call "evil." It will tear families apart. It will cruelly exile people to countries where they have nothing, no roots, no connection. It will end up damaging the economy as nearly a million people will no longer be paying taxes or Social Security. The only thing getting rid of DACA does is make racists feel good. That is it. That is solely it. There is no rational case to be made for punishing these law-abiding, education-oriented, hardworking Americans-in-all-but-papers. In fact, I'd fucking rather Trump had just said, "Yeah, too fuckin' many Mexicans. We need more whites." At least then, we'd cut through the bullshit justifications and maybe we'd get to see who Nazi salutes in agreement.

Trump's wretched statement on his decision once again says that undocumented immigrants are responsible for everything from your uncle losing his job because his factory closed to your uncle's opioid addiction. Or, as he put it, "lower wages and higher unemployment for American workers, substantial burdens on local schools and hospitals, the illicit entry of dangerous drugs and criminal cartels, and many billions of dollars a year in costs paid for by U.S. taxpayers. Yet few in Washington expressed any compassion for the millions of Americans victimized by this unfair system." Again, facts are going to bite him on the ass on this, but, at this point, his ass probably no longer has any feeling because of how long he just sits around on it. For Trump and his idiot hordes, a Dreamer is no different than a cantaloupe-calved drug mule or dark-skinned rapist. Like I said, just skip the bullshit justifications and say you hate brown people.

3. Let's be honest here: There will almost certainly be no legislative fix unless and until Democrats take over the Congress. Ads are already being created to target squishy Republicans who even glance at passing the DREAM Act. A few stalwarts like John McCain and Lindsey Graham might say, "Fuck it" and try something. But the lunatics in the mad House won't go near it.

There is no superhero who's gonna swoop in and save the Dreamers. Already, the DACA page on the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services web page (which is pathetically still under the "Humanitarian" heading) informs us that "Individuals who have not submitted an application by Sept. 5, for an initial request under DACA may no longer apply. USCIS will reject all applications for initial requests received after Sept. 5." Yeah, the "transition" and "wind-down" that Trump talks about include the rejection of any Employment Authorization Documents for DACA recipients, so they won't be able to get jobs legally.

4. And let's not forget that the government has all the information it needs to find and deport DACA recipients. The Department of Homeland Security said today that it will give Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers that information, which includes, you know, admitting they're in the country without needed documentation and their address, if ICE requests it.

5. In January, Trump issued an executive order telling the IRS to find a way to not enforce fines for people who don't get health insurance, as required by the Affordable Care Act, a law passed by Congress and signed by the president, and that provision of the law was upheld by the Supreme Court. In other words, Trump believed that he could say how the law was enforced or, more directly, how resources in the executive branch are used for enforcement. When Obama announced DACA, he directed the Department of Homeland Security to concentrate deportation and immigration enforcement efforts on criminals, not people brought here as minors who were in school and without criminal records. It was prosecutorial discretion. In kind, what Trump wants to do with ACA fines is exactly what Obama did with DACA. It's something that law enforcement does all the time. It's something that states do all the fucking time. To call it "overreach" is to overreach on the definition of "overreach."

6. And while Obama probably wouldn't give a shit about this part (and he has finally spoken out), Sessions and Trump were, as usual, total dicks to the former president, constantly degrading his actions while bragging about Trump's "leadership" as "inspiring" or some such shit.

It's all part of the wanton fuckery at work here. The evil they do is merely for the sake of evil, merely to show they can do it, merely to punish the powerless. If we do nothing, if we don't vote them out in 2018, if we don't demand action, if we don't clog their streets and their courts with our voices and bodies, then they will move on to exerting more and more power.

9/04/2017

A Poem for the Laborers

Grease & Salt
by Jeanann Verlee

I finish a small hot plate of grease & salt / & push
the scraped-clean plate across the counter

for someone else to scrub / this, I say I have paid for
but it doesn't fit / I see the hundred hands

it took to cultivate / the hands that milked the cow
(or built the machines that did) / the hands that harvested

the artichokes & spinach & shallots / the hands
that steamed & fried / the hands that mined

the salts (or maintained the machines that did) / the hands
that mixed the clay & the hands that baked them to ceramic

in a kiln / the hands that sliced & spiced the bread /
the hands that rolled fork & knife into napkin /

the scalded hands that pulled the dish from oven /
the hands that passed the plate to the hands that set it

before me / the hands that wring in hopes I have no
complaint & that if I do, I won't take to Yelp

with my grievances / the hands that whisk the emptied
plate from sight / the hands, too, that swipe my card

& the hands that process the accounts between /
the hands that wipe the counter, seats, floor, handles /

the hundred hands that work & ache & crack over this
one tiny indulgence I myself can't rightly afford /

& I remember my father’s hands, & my mother’s / &
too, the hands of the farmers & soldiers & steel

workers & brick layers in my bloodline / & my hands, too,
each scar & chip / each labor for paycheck or fury or love

& I praise & I praise & I praise / the work & the hands /
& I lick the salt from the corners of my oily mouth.

9/01/2017

Impressions of Houston From Years Past

(A slight expansion on what I tweeted out last night)

When you grow up in south Louisiana, Houston was the place you went when you wanted to spend time in a city. It was more cosmopolitan and less urine-smelling than New Orleans. If New Orleans was for partying adults dragging their kids along, Houston was where the family could kick up its heels without going all the way to Orlando. We went to the beaches of Galveston many times, but Houston was where my young heart felt alive. Just some memories off the top of my head.

1. Astroworld as a kid, riding the Cyclone rollercoaster, followed by a visit to the Space Center with my Dad the year before he died. Dad, a Brooklyn-born Italian guy, embraced shit-kicker culture, fully immersing us in Willie and Waylon. He'd take Mom boot-scootin' at Gilley's even before the whole Urban Cowboy craze, and he loved discovering barbecue joints and divey little places around the town.

2. Seeing Nolan Ryan pitch a no-hitter in the Astrodome. I haven't been to a lot of major league ball games, but this was like every no-hitter: six innings of tedium followed by two innings of thrills followed by one inning of gasping and cheers on every pitch.

3. The breakdown of civilization at a Rush-headlined rock festival in the 'Dome. Ozzy was there, still on heroin. Bryan Adams, for some reason, played, as did .38 Special. I had gone only because a friend asked me to come along because no one else would. The weed smoke became a nearly impermeable curtain, the bathrooms flooded, and the stalls were taken up by filthy, fucking couples. By the end, the floor was slick with piss and puke, and I ended up sleeping in a friend's van in a parking lot after the show. Rush was pretty good though.

4. Alfred's with my family, searching for a taste of Jewish deli food far away from New York, always followed by shopping at the Galleria. Alfred's is gone, but his son opened Kahn's across the street. Now that's closed, too.

5. Coming to town to see a Simon and Garfunkel reunion show with two pals, only to have it canceled when Hurricane Alicia approached. We had rooms across from the Astrodome (which really was the center of much activity in town back then) and saw when the sign switched to "canceled." The hotel wanted to move us into room that overlooked the courtyard rather than the road to avoid broken glass. Instead, we checked out. Miserable about the whole experience, we drove home, only car on the road in most places, just ahead of the storm, which seemingly hit each town as we left it. The hotel's windows were blown out by Alicia.

6. Going to Astroworld with my first serious girlfriend. Staying the night at a hotel when she got sick from the rides. Or so we told her parents. Astroworld and the Astrodome are gone now, as was the girlfriend a long time ago.

7. Second row seats for Frank Sinatra, Liza Minnelli, and Sammy Davis, Jr. in concert after dinner at Tony's with a limo taking us around. That was a night. I wasn't paying for any of it (who was is a much longer story), but I don't think I ever felt richer in my life.

8. The last time I was in Houston was in February 2011, also the last time I saw my mom alive. She had been there for weeks, awaiting a diagnosis for what we would finally be told was advanced T-cell lymphoma. I spent a weekend alone with her while she was staying at a hospital in the Texas Medical Center, overlooking Brays Bayou, which flooded this week. She also adored that city, and she went with my stepdad to a bunch of Astros games and meals at Pappasito's. She died in Houston a few days after I left, and her body was sent home.

Look, I'm not trying to idealize the place. Childhood and tourist memories don't often force you to confront the reality of a place. It's got its problems, and we're seeing them writ large now. But lots of good people live there. People who have made it a center for medical advancements. Artists who have pushed boundaries. Hell, NASA. And a whole bunch of Americans and non-Americans, hard-working people, a good majority of whom don't deserve what's happened (we'll carve out an exception for Nazis and pedophiles and other terrible people).

You have to choose where you donate your money unless you're Beyonce' or JJ Watt. I'm gonna donate to specific groups, like the Alley Theatre, a great institution that was devastated by Harvey. Think of what you love, like animals or arts, and find out how they were harmed by Harvey. They will need your help.


I've never lived there, but I've spent a lot of time in Houston. I hope it returns, as strong and contradictory as it ever was. And I hope there are lessons that are taken from this storm to lessen the impact of the next one.



8/30/2017

Note to Conservatives: You Can't Run Away From Your Responsibility for Trump and the Racist Right

As Donald Trump bumblefucks his way around the bottom of the historical shitpile, as he degrades the country every day by doing dumb shit like pimping overpriced caps while visiting Texas and not hugging even a wet child, as the racist right (fuck "alt-right") asserts itself online through jabbering conspiracies and laughable threats, as the racist right marches for its idiot causes, a genre of editorial has emerged among Republicans. Call it the "Not Me and My Friends" rhetorical gambit.

In it, some random Republican attempts to distance him or herself (although, to be honest, it's mostly "him" because we're talking about Republicans) by listing the parade of horribles committed by Trump and/or the racist right. Often, it takes the form of a denial of Trump's Republicanism or an accusation that vulgar Trumpism will destroy the beautiful Republican Party. Or it might say how the racist right doesn't represent real conservatism, which would never be seen canoodling with such ruffians, or some such shit. The writers try to present themselves as the rational Republicans, the ones who have far more complex ideologies than these loathsome trolls.

For instance, here's former Senator John Danforth, a putative model of moderation, in the Washington Post last week, decrying Trump and making the GOP seem like the greatest bunch of open-minded, loving statesmen and women you could ever hope to lead us: "The Republican Party has a long history of standing for a united country," Danforth writes, citing, as Republicans will, Teddy Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower.

Of more recent vintage, Danforth says, "George H.W. Bush signed the most important civil rights legislation in more than a quarter-century, a bill authored by Republican senators." That would be the same George H.W. Bush who vetoed the original Civil Rights Act of 1991 despite Danforth's pleading because Bush thought it was too expansive, so a watered-down, less effective version was passed. Then Danforth says of the president whose illegal war resulted in the deaths of millions of Muslims, "George W. Bush stood before Congress and the nation and defended Muslims after 9/11."

Danforth continues, "Our record hasn’t been perfect. When we have pushed the agenda of the Christian right, we have seemed to exclude people who don’t share our religious beliefs. We have seemed unfriendly to gay Americans. But our long history has been to uphold the dignity of all of God’s people and to build a country welcoming to all." This would be the same anti-abortion senator who thought the federal government might be wasting money on drugs for AIDS patients and who was one of Clarence Thomas's biggest advocates. For sure, Danforth was more compassionate on some issues (like starvation in Africa), but let's not give him or his mythical version of the GOP a fuckin' parade.

In the New York Times on Tuesday, reliable bellwether of sniveling "not-me"-ism, David Brooks, wrote that even in the last few years "it was still possible to be a Republican without feeling like you were violating basic decency on matters of race. Most of the Republican establishment, from the Bushes to McCain and Romney, fought bigotry, and racism was not a common feature in the conservative moment."

And one can only ask, "What fucking Republican Party are you talking about?" Because, see, while the Bushes, McCain, and Romney were speaking their racism softly, they let Jesse Helms, Tom DeLay, Newt Gingrich, and a fuckload of racist, bigoted assholes scream madly and run rampant. It doesn't matter that Brooks "never heard blatantly racist comments at dinner parties" because their actions were blatantly goddamned racist, from campaigning on racial issues to the war on drugs to welfare reform (and yes, Democrats did go along with some of this, but often just to try to mitigate the barbarity) to the years of attacks on Barack Obama.

This goes across the board, from your Michael Gersons to your Jennifer Rubins, all of those Republicans who are newly endeared to Democrats under the enemy-of-my-enemy dictum. They all share complicity in the rise of Trump and the racist right because, see, for every wonky policy Republican who can bullshit about, say, being against affirmative action or immigration reform because of budgetary or constitutional complaints, there are a dozen opportunistic Hannitys or Ingrahams or Breitbarts who are going to dumb it down to appeal to stupid people.

You have to ask yourself about your beliefs: How will stupid people understand it? Even more importantly, who will tell stupid people how to understand it? This has been Democrats' worst failing: the inability to get stupid people to comprehend how liberal policies help them. So right-wingers swoop in and grab the stupid people by appealing to their stupidity. You can't explain to stupid people that expanded Medicaid and health insurance end up lowering costs for everyone. It won't work because they're stupid. Stupid people just need to be told, "Here is health care. You got your cancer treated? Government did that." And if you don't hammer that with them, conservative fuckbags will swoop in and say, "You don't want the black president to fondle your pure, white titties, do you?" Stupid people get to vote. You lose the stupid people, you have a hell of a deficit to make up.

But the problem isn't stupid people. It's the conservative policies that are so easily identifiable as racist, sexist, xenophobic, etc. supported by what are pathetically called "mainstream" Republicans. Jeb fuckin' Bush, about as establishment a Republican as there ever was, ran for president on repealing the Affordable Care Act, reversing DACA, withholding funds from sanctuary cities, opposing renewal of the Voting Rights Act, keeping Gitmo open, allowing in primarily Christian refugees from Syria, and more, including denying climate change.

It's fucking rich to see people like, say, GOP consultant Rick Wilson, who is hilariously relentless in his attacks on Trump and the racist right, get to pretend like he wasn't responsible for fostering racism in the campaigns he worked on. Motherfucker worked for Rudy Giuliani, wrote ads for Saxby Chambliss associating Vietnam war vet Max Cleland with Osama bin Laden, and was responsible for the ads that tied Obama to Reverend Jeremiah Wright. In other words, someone who is decrying the racism and hatred of one strain of conservatism is one of the fucking reasons that racism and hatred is ongoing. He wanted the stupid people to be racist. Own that shit, man. That's how the fuck you get to Trump.

Brooks says, "[T]he Republican Party has changed since 2005. It has become the vehicle for white identity politics." That is delusional magical thinking. Ask John McCain if the 2000 Republican primary was devoid of white identity politics. Ask Michael Dukakis if the 1988 election didn't involve the GOP appealing to white identity politics. Ask Reagan. Ask Nixon. And then ask Hillary Clinton. Your sad "Never Trump" whining never stood a chance against the decades of priming the racist pump you did.

You don't get off the hook just because you don't have a Confederate flag bumper sticker or a Nazi tattoo or a Pepe the Frog pin or a MAGA hat. A grown man who only fucks 13 year-old girls doesn't get to say he's not a pedophile. No, man. You go in the same cell with the guy who fucked toddlers.

8/28/2017

The Desperate Neediness of Donald Trump, Even in the Midst of a Hurricane

(Yeah, yeah, I'll be getting to Arpaio and Russia and whatever other clusterfucks of doom happen, but first, let's deal with the big damn Harvey in the room.)

We know that President Donald Trump is a man whose ego must be constantly stroked, like the head of a grumpy baby who won't go to sleep. Any chance any of his administration has to praise him, praise him they must or they will face the jowly gaze of disapproval and probably some kind of stupid-ass threat at a public gathering. They gotta blow this fuckin' guy so often that they get assigned government-issue knee pads.

So it was that during Hurricane (now Tropical Storm) Harvey, which is wrecking the fuck out of the lives of millions of Americans, Trump not only stayed for the weekend at Camp David, but he teleconferenced into situation room meetings. That gave us photos of an old man in an ill-fitting suit and stupid, over-sized "USA" hat, alone at a table, talking over speaker to those who were genuinely engaged beyond watching footage on TV and tweeting, "Wow, that's a whole bunch of rain!" or whatever the fuck Trump said.

Today. Trump's most voracious chowder-guzzler, Vice President Mike Pence, made the rounds of talk radio to show just how enthusiastically he gargles on Trump's nutsack. Seriously, the amount that Pence praised Trump for his actions during the hurricane makes it sound like the president was personally out in his yacht, rescuing people. Instead, what really is occurring is that Barack Obama's FEMA was, so far, doing a pretty good job for Texas.

But here's Pence, on a Houston news station, just licking his lips in anticipation of Trump dick. "The President made his decision on Friday night, before landfall, to issue an emergency declaration with regard to Texas" and later, Louisiana, Pence said. "President Trump and our entire administration have been working closely with Governor Abbott...The President assembled the Cabinet twice... I can tell you that from Friday night forward, the President has been continuously engaged in this."

Then, on another station, Pence fellated on about "the swift response by President Trump" and "President Trump’s direction" in the crisis. "I couldn’t be more proud of President Trump’s leadership," Pence asserted, obviously.

We get it. You wanna make sure the spin is that Trump's not fucking it up like Bush during Katrina. But a real leader would tell his people to knock that praise shit off, that it's not necessary, and that, frankly, the effort to save southeast Texas and, likely, parts of Louisiana is just beginning, and there's still plenty of time to fuck it up. The nauseating amount of appreciation that his staff and cabinet heap on Trump is tough to take in non-catastrophic times. Now, it just comes across as needy and selfish on the part of Trump, putting himself at the center of the story when, at best, he's a tangential element, someone who would serve everyone best by staying the fuck out of everyone's way while grown-ups are working here.

Put him in a corner. Give him the remote. Put a big boy hat on him. And ignore him.


8/24/2017

Guest Post: A Millennial Takes on Trump, His Voters, and Whatever the Hell That Arizona Thing Was

by R. Sharp

Yeah, I could rant about how the media and its loyal zombie followers (I’m looking at you, Fox) are dividing us up. I could go on and on about those deplorable Nazi-wannabes we saw in Charlottesville. But I feel I would just be adding fuel to the gigantic flaming shit storm that is America in 2017. No, I’m focusing on the ugly head of the Republican monster that’s been butt fucking us for the past 26 months (since it announced it was running). The creature is most recently responsible for giving those same hateful ideologies national attention.

On Tuesday night, the creature slithered on stage at the Phoenix Convention Center. It puffed its saggy orange chest out and smiled, knowing that the hordes of brainless morons were packed inside to see it perform. It lifted one of its tiny claws off the podium, opened its mouth, and began to spew bile all over the crowd. The loyal followers soaked up the bile and cheered the creature on. “I want more!” cried an old man with a red hat. “Soak me in your juices!” yelled the obese woman next to him. The creature gave them what they wanted. For 77 minutes, it threw up uncontrollably while the crowd licked the puke off the floor.

This horrific display of ignorance is what we’ve come to accept from the creature that calls itself president and rhymes with "dump." This is just another distraction that this administration is creating. They’re putting up roadblock after roadblock trying to deter us from distinguishing reality from fiction. Even the kind and reasonable among us can get sidetracked. Whether it’s breaking news, an angry tirade, or a tweet, Americans are cruelly inundated with the media’s coverage of this administration. We find ourselves being enraged at one thing, and then the next day comes and something else happens. We haven’t even gotten over what happened in the first place, because we're pissed about something new. These distractions are building up, creating a seemingly impenetrable layer of bullshit.

One core issue here is the creature’s ties to Russia. Robert Mueller’s special counsel is reportedly making progress, like when they raided former campaign manager and walking cadaver Paul Manafort’s home. Unfortunately, all the distractions created by the orange creature drown out any minimal good news. The attacks on the media the creature keeps shouting are focused on the wrong thing. The mainstream media concentrates on the bullshit show at the White House to the exclusion of so much else going on because they know it will bring up ratings. You wanna say how the media is bad? That's how it's bad right now.

Which gets us back to Mueller. Even though it’s fake news, The New Yorker’s Andy Borowitz made me laugh with his piece titled, “Millions Willing to Work for Mueller for Free If That Would Speed Things Up.” But it gives me an idea for an offer:

Mr. Mueller, I’ve been looking for a fall internship and I have a psychotic obsession with ending this grotesque creature’s administration. My legal skills are nonexistent, but I can write one hell of an email. I’ll even clean up your office. Please, let me send you my resume. I’ll do anything to help hurry things up and end this clusterfuck of a presidency.

8/22/2017

On Vacation, Boss (But Some Thoughts on Trump's Afghanistan Speech)

Yeah, I know, this is shitty timing, what with Trump giving one bullshit but relatively sane speech and about to give another bullshit and totally batshit speech. But I'm out for the week and I'm at the beach and fuck if I'm gonna totally poison this trip with that orange shitpile's nonsense. (Although I may chime in here - and I'm always mouthing off on Twitter.)

There will be a guest post or two, though.

Two quick thoughts about Trump's Afghanistan non-speech.

1. You know, it actually takes effort to constantly be a dick to the Obama and Bush administrations. Every time Trump discusses something he's gonna do, it's because that fuckin' Obama fucked it all up with his black blackness or something. However, check out Obama's speech on the surge from 2009. He says that strategy needs to be changed, but he doesn't call Bush's clusterfuck of errors a "failure." Obama simply said that he's gotta do some shit, and then he laid it all out. Trump just says, "Everyone's fucked Afghanistan but I'm gonna fix it and we're gonna win because winning winning winning and fuck you I have a plan don't tell me I don't have a plan I don't have to tell you what it is because me me me."

2. Even Trump's supposedly "good" speeches are shitty speeches. Let's not pretend otherwise. And let's not pretend that his fuckin' idiot hordes of voters will give a single shit that he has completely reversed himself. As long as he hates blacks, Muslims, and Mexicans, they're fine with whatever.

Back Monday with more beach-tanned rudeness.

8/17/2017

Fuck You, Guy Who Regrets Voting for Trump

In the New York Times, one of Donald Trump's most loyal taint-lickers, Julius Krein, has scribbled a mea culpa titled "I Voted for Trump. And I Sorely Regret It." It's a story of a love gone wrong, about how a man was so enamored of another man that he couldn't see who that man really was or, indeed, who he himself was. Oh, Krein, who started a blog to "intellectual Trumpism" titled, stupidly, the Journal of American Greatness, totally believed Trump: "Mr. Trump’s policy positions were poorly defined, but these days, most candidates’ positions are. And yes, he had little support from the Republican Party leadership. But many of us thought even this might be a positive if it forced him to focus on 'making deals' rather than on Washington’s usual ideological posturing. He was never going to fulfill all of his over-the-top promises, but we believed that his administration might achieve some meaningful successes."

And as for the racism? That was just something to be elided over for Krein: "Many of his supporters, myself included, managed to convince ourselves that his more outrageous comments...were merely Bidenesque gaffes committed during the heat of a campaign." For the record, Joe Biden never called for all Muslims to be banned from coming into the United States and probably wouldn't consider that specific, scripted, racist campaign promise a "gaffe."

But now Krein's eyes are wide, wide open. "It is now clear that we were deluding ourselves" about Trump's racism, Krein writes. And "Far from making the transformative 'deals' he promised voters, his only talent appears to be creating grotesque media frenzies — just as all his critics said."

To which one can only say to Krein:

Fuck you, you pretentious prick. Take a stack of papers with your regret written all over it, roll it up into a thick tube, and go fuck yourself with it.

Congratulations, you bespectacled shitpile. You finally have gotten to the point that the majority of voters in the United States were at on Election Day. Everyone of us was screaming, "Trump's a fraud, he's a liar, he's never done anything in his horrible life other than con people out of their money. Jesus fuckballs, why the fuck are you believing him?" But you, with your fancy-ass Harvard degree and your desire to polish the turd of Trump's chaos until it had the kind of erudite shine that could justify you and your miserable, greedy friends voting for him like it was some kind of big joke, now you realize, "Mr. Trump’s behavior grows only more reprehensible." Motherfucker, did you not read or hear anything about this man's reprehensible life? About all the people he shit all over? About the misery he's caused? About his abject failure as a businessman?

Despite your pedigree, despite your pandering protestations, you were exactly the same as every fucking backwards ass country fuck who just wanted to stick it to the niggers and spics and that bitch, Hillary. If we're fucked, you're one of the main reasons we are fucked because you and your asshole faux-intellectual friends wanted to pretend you gave a shit about more than what every other racist, sexist xenophobe who knuckle-dragged themselves to the polls last November cared about.

You actually wrote these words back in September of last year: "What makes [Trump] popular on immigration is not how extreme his policies are, but the emphasis he puts on the interests of Americans rather than everyone else." He offers, you said, "a portrait of business as a fully human struggle filled with almost romantic jousting competitions." You concluded, "His unapologetic mockery of more conventional forms of political theater makes him in some ways the most serious candidate in the race." Goddamn, I hope you're reading your worthless words and choking on the vomit their utter wrongness brings up.

No, you don't get to absolve yourself. You spend the end of your bullshit column talking about how important your ideological goals are. You describe yourself as one of "those who found some admirable things in the hazy outlines of Mr. Trump’s campaign," as if you can divorce this enormous, nation-damaging error you made from your corrupt core beliefs. Fuck that. You voted for the guy who thinks bullets dipped in pig's blood scare Muslims and that Confederate monuments are awesome. You don't get to have opinions on politics anymore.

And you barely acknowledge that so many other people were right about Trump and that you were desperately wrong. You don't even say, "I'm sorry;" you don't even offer to do things to make it right; and, you cunt flea, you should be volunteering to go down on every single one of us in order to beg for forgiveness. And then we'll see how good you are, how enthusiastic, how skilled, how much we cum, before we decide whether or not you're worthy of anything more than having piss and shit tossed on you every day for the rest of your facile, ignorant life.

You're nine months late. This is your baby, whether you want it or not.

8/15/2017

Seven (or So) Calm Takeaways from Trump's Mad Tantrum in Trump Tower

1. If you are fighting to prevent a statue of Robert E. Lee from being taken down, you are, in fact, a white supremacist. Trump said today of Charlottesville that there were "very fine people...in that group that were there to protest the taking down, of to them, a very, very important statue and the renaming of a park from Robert E. Lee to another name." No, you are not a very fine person. You support the Confederacy and slavery, which is what Robert E. Lee fought for. By definition, you are not "very fine." This is not difficult.

2. Trump said, "It looked like they had some rough, bad people, neo-Nazis, white nationalists, whatever you want to call ‘em. But you had a lot of people in that group that were there to innocently protest and very legally protest." If you march with neo-Nazis and chant racist things with white nationalists, it doesn't matter how legal your protest is. You are still a Nazi. You are still a white nationalist. And, legal march or not, you should be scorned. Not scorning them is supporting them.

3. Trump said, "Many of those people were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee. So this week, it’s Robert E. Lee, I noticed that Stonewall Jackson’s coming down. I wonder, is it George Washington next week? And is it Thomas Jefferson the week after. You know, you really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop?" George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were slaveowners. They also helped create the United States which led to the freeing of the slaves. It's complicated, and, yes, we should have a discussion of their place in our understanding of history. Robert E. Lee was a slaveowner who, as I said above, fought so that a country of seceded states could keep slaves. The same goes for Stonewall Jackson. Lee and Jackson are not equal to Washington and Jefferson just like Donald Trump is not worth a hair on Abraham Lincoln's balls.

3a. Could we clone Lincoln from a hair on his balls? Just thinking out loud here.

4. In the same way, both sides of the Charlottesville conflict were not equal, despite Trump's insistence that they were. Yes, there was violence from the counterprotesters, but nothing like the violence from the "innocently" protesting racists, including, you know, murder. And, not to get redundant here, but one side was Nazis. The other side was against Nazis. To say "there is blame on both sides" is to say that Nazis are the same as not-Nazis. If you cannot say that not-Nazis are objectively better than Nazis, you have nothing useful to add to any conversation.

5. Trump said that Friday night's tiki-torch protest was done "very quietly." Many pictures from the event show white men and a few white women yelling or chanting. It is patently false to say it was quiet. And if they weren't chanting, they were making the Nazi salute, which is louder than just about any noise.

6. If I were John McCain, I'd be looking out for polonium in my tea. When a McCain comment was brought up, Trump gritted his teeth and said, "Senator McCain? Senator McCain. You mean the one that voted against Obamacare? Who is Senator McCain? You mean Senator McCain who voted against us getting good health care?" He sounded stabby. Also, if I were John McCain, I'd think nothing of using my last year or so on earth to destroy the dangerous man who mocked my imprisonment and torture.

6a. If anyone know who these supposed rational Republicans are, now would be a good time for them to reveal themselves. Hopefully, the denouncement are rolling in, or we're in deep, deep trouble.

7. Anyone who can watch that press conference and not think that we are being led by a deranged, out-of-control racist is someone who will never be convinced about Trump's unfitness for office. Which means we should be seeing a New York Times article about those people in the next day or so.

7a. Obviously, everything Trump said yesterday was a lie, but we already realised that.

7b. We knew we were in scary territory with Trump. We are now living the beginning of a dystopian TV series. It's up to us to make sure it's canceled before it gets renewed for another season.

8/14/2017

A Few Comments on Hating the Hateful

"They really, really hate them some 'niggers,'" my pal told me over the phone from Virginia. He lives in a small town, and he's just about had it with the Trump-loving, racist motherfuckers there who pretend to love Jesus when all they love is their hate. We were talking just before one of these doughy, deranged cumbuckets on the Confederate/Nazi right (fuck "alt") plowed his black Dodge Challenger into a crowd of anti-Confederate/Nazi protesters, killing one and injuring many others, in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday.

My pal, bringing out his natural Southern accent for the occasion, told me about neighbors who "love them some Trump," about a woman who said how she doesn't know how she'll afford her medical bills if the ACA goes away but stands by her president, about how nothing really matters except abortion and homophobia. "These people'd live under a bridge," he said, "as long as them babies get born and two men ain't sucking each other's cocks."

And racism, he reminded me. Don't forget the racism, the lifeblood of the Trump-loving Confederacy-humpers.

President Donald Trump, who looks like a stack of traffic cones topped with baboon's ballsack, has been justifiably excoriated for his seeming refusal for two days to condemn the white nationalists responsible for the violence and murder in Charlottesville. His initial statement wasn't just milquetoast both-sides-ism. No, it was an implicit wink to the racist thugs who took it as such. His pissy statement today, where he finally called out "the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups," was presented with all the enthusiasm of a man in a bathroom stall asking for toilet paper.

But his delay empowered these assholes, this savage collection of bearded rednecks in torn rebel flag t-shirts, batshit militia dickheads toting assault weapons, golf-shirted and pampered little boys, and pathetic suit-wearing Nazi wannabes who Hitler would have laughed at as he had them executed for being too fucking dumb to know how to wrap a gas-covered cloth around a stick to make a torch. Most of them would have shit themselves and run for their mothers if they had been actual Nazis or actual Confederate soldiers, facing the American war machine that tore the hell out of both those armies of losers.

The most pathetic thing here is how shocked they pretend to be that their views are attacked, as if no one ever told them that slavery and genocide (not "white genocide," which is so dumb it barely deserves mention) are bad things to support. And maybe that's on all of us.

It's certainly on the media. Every time there was an article or CNN investigation on whether or not Barack Obama was born in the United States, the media made it seem like it was a legitimate story. Led by the nose by right-wing bullshit websites and commentators, the mainstream media gave the spittle-strewn glow of credence to it all, whether it's ACORN or the New Black Panther Party or the thuggish images of black victims of violence, like Trayvon Martin. And that's just recent shit.

Almost all the so-called liberal press places extremism on an equal plain with rational thought, so we'd get semi-sensible conservatives like Ana Navarro and hell hounds of insanity like Jeffrey Lord, both given equal airtime (until Lord finally went full Nazi last week). Van Jones should walk the fuck off the air if CNN makes him debate some reprehensible Breitbart shit-for-brains.

There are some things we need to agree on as a nation to move forward. The problem isn't that people think they're Nazis or neo-Confederates, per se; we're never eliminating stupidity. It's that we think there is something noble about tolerating Nazis; about trying to understand their ideology in an almost sympathetic way, about writing goddamned profiles about the new, sexy white nationalist movement, as if a fucking racist isn't just, in the end, a fucking racist, no matter how many times he wears an ill-fitting sports jacket.

And it is long, long past time to stop tolerating in any sense the idea that the Confederacy is a heritage worth honoring. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Fuck your ancestors who fought to maintain slavery. I don't give a dry rat turd how nobly they fought. They believed that human beings were property and could be beaten, raped, and killed. Fuck 'em. If you think there should be statues to them, then you're the asshole. If I found out my great-grandfather was a child molester, I sure as hell wouldn't want to honor him because he built a nice house. And I'd be appalled if anyone wanted to celebrate his architectural heritage.

Trump himself appealed to the lies of American history in both his sad little statements. In the first, on Saturday, Trump said, "We must love each other, respect each other, and cherish our history." Cherish our history? Motherfucker, our history is a goddamned horror show with occasional outbreaks of humanity, like the defeat of the Confederacy and the Nazis, like the welcoming of immigrants and the civil rights movement.

And then, today, he said, "We are a nation founded on the truth that all of us are created equal." No, motherfucker, again, we were founded on the "truth" that white men are created equal for that's all they considered "men." It's like Trump is the president of the Confederacy, not the United States.

If we can't agree on our goddamned American history, if we can't agree that some ideas don't deserve a hearing beyond the half-human online scrawlings of some cretinous asshole with a frog avatar and a collection of concentration camp photos he jacks off to, then we're fucked. I want people to feel shame for believing these things. I want them driven out of the public square. I want them fired if they express it publicly, especially if they're cops or in positions of authority. You're free to say and believe what you want. And we're free to say your ideas are barbaric enough to tell you to change or get the fuck out of our society. This is about who we are as a nation.

You're allowed to hate Hate. You're allowed to be prejudiced against Prejudice. You're allowed to destroy the monuments to people who tried to destroy the country. You're allowed to say that support of genocide and enslavement isn't a position that deserves being heard in the modern United States. You're allowed to tell these tiki-torch-carrying vermin that they can kiss your American ass with their traitorous lips. We kicked them in the balls before and we'll do it again. Your Robert E. Lee statues are fucking done.

Go the fuck back underground. And take your shitty president with you.

(Note: For a good rundown on how Republican politics led us to this moment, check out Charlie Pierce, who wrote half of what I was gonna write today.)

(For the record, the only great-grandfather I know about was a leading rabbi in Poland and did not, as far as I know, molest anyone or build any houses.)

8/11/2017

Advice to the Young Folk Freaking Out About Possible Nuclear War

Hey, kids, it's your ol' pal Rude Pundit here, puffin' away on his corncob hashpipe and sittin' on his hay bale outside his survivalist bunker in a secret place where he'd have to kill you if you knew where it was. Some of you young 'uns weren't around during the great Cold War of a good chunk of the last century, so you don't know what it's like to wake up every day with a gut-churning feeling that the entire world is gonna be wiped out by huge fireballs and radiation sickness.

No, sir and ma'am, the 1980s wasn't all New Wave, Eddie Murphy, and shoulder pads. Why, back when the Soviet Union was the "evil empire," we all thought we were gonna die any second, but we learned to live with it. So I'm gonna give you some of my wisdom from those bad ol' days to help you weather this new round of shit-yourself apocalypse fear.

Gather 'round. Don't worry. I won't get all handsy.

1. Calm the fuck down. Yeah, yeah, I know that that our dumb-as-a-stump, pussy-grabbin' president keeps huffin' and puffin' about the United States being ready to blow North Korea's shit up, and I know that North Korea is led by an inbred half-wit who claps like a slow little boy when he sees things go "boom," but that doesn't mean either of them is idjit enough to nuke the other. You're still gonna die because of climate change or heart disease, but that'll take a little longer.

2. Most of what you're hearing is public relations bullshit. Trump has a bunch of brain-damaged yahoos who thrill to his fake John Wayne act. Kim Jong Un needs his poor, starving people to think that everyone else wants to kill them and only Kim can protect them. (So, really, they're not so different.) But behind the scenes, there are constant negotiations and dialogues with people actually skilled at this sort of thing trying to figure shit out. This was true during the Soviet/U.S. standoff, and it's true now.

3. Even if fighting breaks out, it'll be conventional, not nuclear. We've got a shit-ton of hardware and soldiers in the Pacific, with bases on Guam, Japan, and elsewhere. North Korea doesn't want to be turned into glowing parking lot (although many people there would probably welcome the sweet kiss of death). So we might get bomb-y, but not nuke-y.

4. Even if North Korea launches a nuke, it'll wipe out just one place, likely Guam, but maybe Los Angeles. During the Cold War, we were facing thousands of nuclear weapons, not just a smattering. So we'll mostly be fine. Mostly. Unless you're in Guam. Or Los Angeles.

5. No, no, calm the fuck down. If North Korea does launch a nuclear attack, the U.S. would surely attack in a way that completely takes out North Korea's leadership, and the one thing Kim loves more than missiles going "boom" is staying in power so he can hang out with Dennis Rodman. Dennis Rodman won't go to a radioactive North Korea (probably). So Kim wants to keep control of his people. You can't do that if the people have been turned to ash.

6. There will continue to be bluster. There will continue to be idiots talking about the "good" of a preemptive attack on a nation that has done very little to piss us off. We had that back in the day, too. Donald Trump will continue to tweet and say stupid, threatening shit that most of the world has learned to ignore.

7. That's because of all the generals Trump's surrounded himself with, who speak with more authority than Trump. In they absolute worst case scenario, they would certainly be a check on his worst impulses. Maybe. Perhaps. So, if all else fails, hey, we can always hope for a military coup. That'll surely settle everything down. Oh. Wait.

Well, kids, that's about it for ol' Rude Pundit trying to give you hope. I'm gonna go into my bunker now and wait this out. We've got enough weed and whiskey to last us a few months. That's my suggestion: get high, get laid, listen to music, ignore shit for a while, turn off the Twitter and the TV, and go outside while you still can. But don't freak out. It's pretty useless.