in regard to punching nazis

Two things: 1) If you’re a Nazi, a neo-Nazi, or any flavor of white nationalist shouting white nationalist bullshit, be prepared to suffer the consequences; 2) if you punch a Nazi, be prepared to suffer the consequences.

Seriously, that’s a very basic Boolean social algebraic equation. Being a visible Nazi plus shouting racist bullshit equals a high probability of getting punched. Punching a Nazi plus the presence of law enforcement equals getting arrested.

Here’s an example being played out in the court system right now. Back in June of 2016 (that’s right — 2016) the Traditionalist Worker Party (a white nationalist group) and the Golden State Skinheads held a rally in Sacramento. Counter-protesters, including members of the anti-fascist group By Any Means Necessary, also showed up in opposition. The police, in the form of the California Highway Patrol, also showed up.

Before the rally was scheduled to begin, TWP member Nigel Walker, waving a white nationalist flag on a long wooden pole, approached some of the counter-protesters taunting them and encouraging them to come at him. There it is: visible Nazi plus shouting racist bullshit, which equals…? Right. Getting punched. There was a scuffle, during which the flag was ripped from the flagpole, which Walker then used as a weapon. Following that scuffle, Walker moved to an area with a law enforcement presence.

Walker was then approached by BAMN member Yvette Felarca, who deliberately bumped into him, and punched him at least twice in the stomach. There it is again: punching a Nazi plus the presence of the police equals…? Right. Getting arrested. CHP intervened and Felarca was arrested.

Felarca punching Walker.

This is math, people. If you’re a public Nazi, don’t be surprised if you get punched. If you punch a Nazi in public, don’t be surprised if you get arrested. If you’re not willing to get punched, don’t be a public Nazi. If you’re not willing to get arrested, don’t punch a Nazi in public. This is really fucking simple.

Right now Felarca is facing charges for punching Walker. She’s claiming “standing up to fascism is not a crime.” And she’s right — there’s nothing criminal about standing up to fascism. Punching somebody, however, is generally criminal.

Let me be clear. I DO NOT endorse punching Nazis, either in public or in private. On the other hand, I don’t condemn punching Nazis either. Nazis are totally punch-worthy. I’m of the opinion that if there’s a Nazi present and you’re willing to be arrested, then go ahead and punch him. Just don’t complain about getting arrested if you do it. And if you’re a Nazi, don’t complain about getting punched.

EDITORIAL NOTE: The criminal case against Felarca seems awfully weak. She’s charged with felony assault, which is probably just the State overcharging her to encourage her to plea to a lesser offence — a common prosecutorial tactic. She has an affirmative provocation defense, and there’s evidence of prosecutorial misconduct and bias against the anti-fascists. But the merits of the case itself are separate from the inescapable social algebra of Nazi-punching.

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endorsements

A couple of days ago, Robert Kabel and Jill Homan (chairman and vice chairwoman of Log Cabin Republicans) published an editorial in the Washington Post with this headline:

Trump met his commitments to LGBTQ Americans. He has our endorsement.

I swear, I am not making that up. I mean, sure, they’re Log Cabin Republicans, but Jesus suffering fuck, c’mon. Comrade Trump has met his commitments to LGBTQ Americans? Maybe Trump isn’t as homophobic as he is racist and misogynistic, but that’s a pretty low bar. I mean, the guy has spent nearly three years undermining every LGBTQ protection that somebody on his staff has pointed out to him.

Kabel and Homan argue that Comrade Trump has “mov[ed] past the culture wars that dominated the 1990s and early 2000s…by removing gay rights as a wedge issue from the old Republican playbook.” That sentence would be more accurate if they’d put a period after ‘rights’.

Cancer patients endorse RoundUp. “Our weed-free lawns are the envy of our neighbors!”

They say Trump “has committed to end the spread of HIV/AIDS in 10 years.” And that’s true. He has committed to that. He’s also committed to making Mexico pay for a border wall and to starting a Space Force. Trump’s commitments are as phony as his promises. The reality is that in June of 2017, six members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS resigned in protest of Trump’s health policies, saying he “has no strategy to address the ongoing HIV/AIDS epidemic, seeks zero input from experts to formulate HIV policy, and—most concerning—pushes legislation that will harm people living with HIV.” After they resigned, Trump shit-canned all the remaining members of the Council. The new Chair of the Council is an advocate of abstinence-only sex education programs, who rejects the use of condoms as a method to prevent the spread of HIV and other STDs. Seriously.

Environmentalists endorse napalm. “Really, it’s a chance to start over!”

Kabel and Homan claim Trump has pushed “an initiative to end the criminalization of homosexuality”. Somehow they overlook his affection for Saudi Arabia, which publicly beheaded five men accused of homosexuality in April. One of them apparently had his head pinned to a pole in a public square. How’s that initiative working out?

Bears endorse forest fires. “They keep our forests clear of those pesky campers!”

They refer to Richard Grenell, the openly gay US ambassador to Germany, describing him as “one of many LGBTQ appointees whom Trump has tapped to…serve America’s people and the government with honor and distinction.” But they ignore the fact that Comrade Trump also initiated a policy of denying visas to the unmarried, same-sex partners of foreign diplomats and United Nations officials.

Hitchhikers endorse serial killers. “Those guys really know how to keep us on our toes!”

Kabel and Homen conclude by saying, “To be treated equally, fairly and justly under the law is our goal, and we know that ‘Inclusion Wins’ is a mantra we share with the president.” Inclusion? By the most divisive president in US history? To be treated equally, fairly, and justly by an administration that just proposed a change to federal rules that would make it easier for private employers who do business with the federal government to fire employees for their sexual orientation or gender identity?

Let’s not forget that a year or so after his election, Comrade Trump found himself discussing gay rights with a legal scholar. According to The New Yorker, Trump nodded to his vice president and said, as a joke, “Don’t ask that guy—he wants to hang them all!” Even as a joke, it tells you everything you need to know about the Trump administration’s views of LGBTQ issues.

Librarians endorse dog-earing. “Bookmarks are for pussies!”

I shouldn’t be surprised that Log Cabin Republicans endorse Trump. They’re more Republican than Log Cabin. And, sadly, the Republican party under Trump leadership is barely recognizable as a political party. It’s become more of a cult, abandoning most of its principles in the hope of retaining power.

Of course, they endorsed Comrade Trump for re-election.

at the fair

You know those mornings when you wake up, deal with the cat, and drink your cold brew coffee while you consider the list of things you ought to do, some of which are moderately important, but by the time you empty your mug you’ve decided to skip all those things and go to the state fair instead? That was me yesterday.

Young couple trying to see how many kids they can stuff in the cab of a really big tractor.

I like the state fair. I love the state fairgrounds more than I like the actual fair; I’ve spent a LOT more time noodling around the fairgrounds during the off-season than I have during the fair itself. But the fair is fun too. The noise, the smells, the crowds, the weird tension, the chaos, the confusion — I like all of that.

I like to look at farm technology. Tractors and combines and — okay, I have no idea what most farm tech is called. Or what it does. I confess, I have absolutely NO interest in the purpose of farm tech. But I’m fascinated by 1) how massive some modern farm equipment is, and 2) the fact that there are people who restore or refurbish old tractors. I like to listen to old guys (and it’s always guys) talk about their old tractors, even though I’ve no idea what they’re talking about. I recognize them as nerd-geeks who have a passion I can respect even though it’s entirely foreign to me.

Old guys talking about old tractors.

I also like that things I don’t understand are being judged by standards I also don’t understand. Like horses and sheep. Or cabbages and turnips. Or sewing and crafting. I look at the prize cabbages and I have no idea why one cabbage is superior to the next. I have no idea why this cow is better than that cow, or why the way that horse trots surpasses the way this other horse trots. But there are folks out there who DO know those things, and I find that notion wonderful. (By the way, I don’t need — or want — an explanation for why one horse’s trot is superior; I’m just happy that folks who DO know and care about such things exist.)

Some sort of horse judging thing. Or maybe a riding judging thing. There was definitely judging going on.

I like the people I see at the fair. Not just the folks like me, who show up and eat the deep fried vegan peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and marvel at the size of the biggest boar, but the folks who move to the fair for a week or so and show their animals. Again, I don’t know dick about farming or farm stuff. But I’m always impressed by the people — and especially the kids and younger folks — who spend their fair days washing and drying their cows or goats, or shoveling animal shit out of stalls and laying down hay (if that’s hay — what do I know from hay?). When I was a kid I had to do the usual chores — wash dishes, maybe mow the lawn, that sort of thing. These farm kids? They’re raising livestock and acting like it’s no big deal.

Blow drying a goat.

Kids. A tangent here. As a rule, I don’t photograph kids. I think kids going about their daily kid lives doing kid things are eminently photographable and interesting, but photographing kids these days is just a pain in the ass. It’s not the kids; it’s the parents. I have, in the past, been accosted by parents for shooting photos in the general vicinity of kids. Not photos OF kids, mind you; just photographs of stuff in a park where kids are playing — stuff with zero kids in the frame. Nothing is more embarrassing and frustrating and infuriating than being waylaid by an irate parent and basically accused, in public, of being a pervert. So I just don’t photograph kids anymore.

Except at the fair. I will occasionally shoot a photo of a kid engaged in some farm/fair related activity. Like blow-drying a sheep. I’m not photographing the kid, you understand. I’m photographing the activity. But sometimes there are moments when a kid is being so perfectly a kid that you have to make an exception. So I photographed a kid. I am NOT going to feel guilty about it.

Woke up from a nap, got chores to do.

Actually it turns out it’s almost impossible to shoot a photo at the state fair without including a kid. They’re everywhere. Which is as it should be, since fairs are all about being a kid. Sometimes when you’re taking a photo of a kid, you’re also shooting a photograph of somebody being a good, caring, thoughtful parent.

Cooling mist on a hot fair day.

When I got home I was surprised that almost every photograph I shot had a kid in it. Or an old person. Or a disabled person. Old folks and disabled folks on mobility scooters zipped around the fairgrounds like hornets, like pirates, like…well, kids. They probably shouldn’t have been eating funnel cakes or deep fried Twinkies or bacon-wrapped BBQ ribs, but they were. They probably should have been napping, but they weren’t. They probably should have headed inside when the sky got dark and it began to sprinkle, but they didn’t. They faired (and yeah, I know ‘fair’ isn’t a verb, but there ought to be a term to describe the act of enjoying a fair). Those folks faired like bosses. It was great to see.

Leaving the fair just as it began to sprinkle.

That was the fair. I saw a cabbage bigger than my head. I saw a massive horse with hairy hooves that looked like it ought to be pulling a Russian sleigh and escaping a pack of wolves. I saw farm tech that looked like mooncraft. I saw a sleepy young cowboy who’ll almost certainly look exactly the same in forty years. I ate a deep fried  peanut butter and jelly sandwich on a damned stick. I walked six and a half miles (unless my Fitbit is lying to me).

I faired moderately well.

i’m probably wrong, but…

Crime, boy, I don’t know.

I mean, c’mon. Here’s Comrade Trump, who I should remind you is the actual President of the United States, casually suggesting that a former president, Bill Clinton, was somehow responsible for having accused pedophile Jeffery Epstein murdered while he was in the custody of the United States Department of Justice. He doesn’t offer any evidence of that. He just tosses the accusation out there. Bill Clinton had Epstein killed. And he says it like it’s, you know, a bad thing.

And at the same time, here’s Comrade Trump brushing off actual evidence that Mohammad Bin Salman had Washington Post reporter Jamal Kashoggi tortured, murdered, and dismembered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, like it’s no big deal. So I’m just a tad confused here.

Murder, boy, I don’t know. You’d think if Donald Trump was okay with the murder of a respected, award-winning journalist who was a resident of the United States, then he’d probably be okay — maybe even moderately pleased — by the murder of a convicted pedophile rapist who lived part time on a private sex island. But apparently not. I just don’t know how to explain that.

I don’t want to cast aspersions or anything, but I’m beginning to wonder if Comrade Trump is being entirely consistent here. It sort of almost kinda sounds like he has a different murder standard for folks he likes. Maybe — and I’m probably entirely wrong here — but maybe he’d have been more positive about Epstein’s ‘suicide wink wink’ if he thought bin Salman (or his boy Kim Jong Un) had been behind it?

It’s beginning to sound like Trump is more interested in conspiracy theories involving his political enemies than in actual conspiracies involving his buddies. But naw, that can’t be right. Can it?

EDITORIAL NOTE: There’s a 99.95% chance that all the conspiracy theories about Epstein’s death are bullshit. Negligence and incompetence are a much more likely explanation. Though not as entertaining.

he is who he is

Look, it’s part of the job. I know, it’s not listed as a duty in the Constitution, but when there’s a national tragedy, folks want — they expect — the president to acknowledge the tragedy with compassion. They want the president to recognize their suffering, their grief, and to share that suffering and grief to some extent. They want the president to understand what they’re experiencing.

All Comrade Trump had to do yesterday was show up and make the day about the victims and the families of the victims of the mass shootings. That’s it. He didn’t have to solve all their problems, he didn’t have to tell them everything was going to be okay, he didn’t have to promise to fix things immediately. He just had to listen, be gentle, show some respect, and actually care about what they were going through.

He couldn’t do it. As always, Trump had to make it all about himself. His grievances, the level of his support, his treatment by others, his popularity. I truly believe he can’t help it. It’s part of his personality disorder. He’s simply incapable of experiencing the world from any perspective other than his own. It would be sad — tragic, even — if he wasn’t such a hateful, malignant person.

No, that’s inaccurate; it IS sad and tragic. But I struggle to feel any compassion for him because he IS such a hateful, malignant person. It’s sad and tragic for him, but it’s really sad and tragic for the rest of us because we can’t divorce ourselves from the consequences of his personality disorder. He’s broken, and as president he’s breaking our nation.

So yesterday, instead of offering solace and comfort to the nation, Comrade Trump further inflamed passions. Instead of quietly grieving with those who are suffering, he turned the trip into what was essentially a campaign event. He mugged and smiled for the cameras, he attacked his detractors, he took selfies, he lashed out at his perceived enemies, he bragged about his popularity and how much respect he was shown, and he pouted when others failed to recognize how popular and respected he was.

I don’t think anybody actually expected Trump would accept any responsibility for fueling the hatred that revealed itself in El Paso. I don’t think anybody expected him to apologize for that, or offer to change his vitriolic tone. Nobody expected him to be suddenly Not Trump. But we hoped (some of us hoped) he’d act like a decent human being. All he had to do was say “I’m sorry for your loss, I’m sorry for your troubles, I’m so very sorry this happened to you and to your community and to our nation.” That’s all he had to do; that and stay quiet. It wouldn’t have been easy, especially knowing that a lot of folks feel he IS responsible for the hatred that manifested itself in the shootings. It wouldn’t be easy, but he’s the president. It’s not an easy job.

In the end, he couldn’t do it. He simply couldn’t meet the very minimum requirements of the job. He couldn’t put aside his own insecurities, his own resentments, his own relentless spite. Not even for the few hours he spent in public. He couldn’t do it. He doesn’t have it in himself to be decent.

He is who he is.

ADDENDUM (8-9-19) — A photo of Comrade and Mrs. Trump, who is holding a baby whose parents were killed by the Walmart gunman, was released on the FLOTUS Twitter account yesterday. It seems none of the victims still in the hospital in El Paso were willing to meet with Trump during his visit. The baby, who’d been released from the hospital, was brought back just for this photograph.

He is who he is.

ADDENDUM 2 — Also, while Comrade Trump was visiting Dayton and El Paso, ICE agents were raiding a few Mississippi chicken processing plants, detaining undocumented immigrant workers (not, coincidentally, the plant owners who hired them). It was the first day of school in Mississippi, which meant a lot of kids went to school and came home to empty houses, not knowing what happened to their parents, not knowing when/if their parents might return, not knowing where they’d get fed or sleep or…or anything. The cruelty and casual disregard for the welfare of those children is as appalling as Trump’s campaign tour of shooting victims.

still the guns

In December of 2012, I said it was the guns. It’s still the guns. All the guns. The easy availability of guns. It’s the goddamned guns.

Do hate and bigotry and prejudice play a part? Sure. It doesn’t help that we have a president who feeds into the hate and bigotry and prejudice. Inadequate mental health care? Yeah, sure, that’s part of it. The entire for-profit health care system in the US is fucked up, and the mental health system is more fucked up than the rest. Economic tension, free-floating anxiety, inchoate rage, fear of change? Sure, all that figures into it.

But basically, it’s the guns. It’s obviously the guns. Other nations have all the social problems that trouble the United States, but they suffer only a small fraction of the mass killings. Because it’s the guns. Guns make all the difference. Guns and high capacity magazines. They make killing easier, they make body counts higher. THIS IS WHAT GUNS ARE SPECIFICALLY DESIGNED TO DO: KILL THINGS.

Who would this guy in Dayton be without his AR15? Who would Patrick Crusius be without access to an AK-47? He’d be just another angry young white guy with a dodgy understanding of history and the influence of social forces. Just another inadequate person man who wanted so very desperately to believe he had an important part to play in some imaginary racist redemptive narrative.

Who would Stephen Paddock be? Who would Devin Kelley or James Holmes be? Adam Lanza, Nikolas Cruz, Omar Mateen, Robert Bowers — who would these guys be without easy access to guns and high capacity magazines? Without the guns, they’d be…insignificant. These guys think the guns might make them matter.

Sadly, they’re right. It’s the guns.

You want to tell me guns don’t kill people — people kill people? Fuck you. Jumping off buildings doesn’t kill people — deceleration trauma kills people. You want to tell me the majority of gun owners are law-abiding citizens and shouldn’t be punished because some asshole misuses a firearm? Fuck you in the neck, life doesn’t work that way. I’m not going to cook meth, but I still can’t buy Sudafed without a huge amount of fuss because some asshole misuses it. You want to tell me you can also kill people with a knife or a baseball bat? Fuck you, you half-witted ballbag. That’s so damned stupid it doesn’t deserve a response. You want to tell me the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun? Fuck you, fuck your whole family, fuck everybody you know. Texas is jammed with ‘good guys with a gun.’ But Crusius was still able to waltz through the aisles of Walmart shooting folks IN TEXAS, walk out unmolested, get in his car, and start to drive away before police officers stopped him. And this asshole in Dayton managed to kill nine and wound a couple dozen more in about 2-3 minutes before he was shot.

I’m going to say it again. It’s the guns. The guns and high capacity magazines and lax gun laws. Patrick Crusius and the Dayton shooter (who hasn’t been publicly identified yet) were both law-abiding citizens until they opened fire. It’s legal in both Ohio and Texas to openly carry long guns. Seriously, you can walk down the street in Dayton or El Paso with an AK or an AR slung over your shoulder, wearing camouflage and tactical gloves, with a pouch containing a few high capacity magazines and it’s absolutely legal (although it wouldn’t be wise to do that if you’re not white).

This morning in Dayton.

I’m going to say it one more time. It’s the guns. Guns, high capacity magazines, and lax firearm laws. You get yourself a semi-automatic rifle and a few 30-round magazines, and you can rack up a high body count in a very short time. Doesn’t even have to be an assault-style rifle, though the military design of those weapons makes them more attractive to would-be mass killers. Any semi-auto rifle would do the job, so long as you’ve stocked up on hi-cap magazines. Gear up, take a walk, and until you open fire, you’re probably acting within the law.

Basically, it’s the guns. It’s the easy access to guns. It’s always been the guns. It’ll be the guns again tomorrow. It’s the goddamned guns.

ain’t nothing fake about that

A few days ago, during an informal press gaggle held just before Comrade Trump flew off to whatever rally or golf course he had on his schedule, a reporter asked him about the renewed press for impeachment. This is Trump’s response:

“You know, it’s interesting — nobody has even mentioned this question to me in so long. Until last night at the very end, it wasn’t even mentioned in the debates. People aren’t even thinking — it’s a hoax. I don’t know if you know that. You know it’s a hoax, right? So, nobody has mentioned it to me. One thing I will say that you haven’t covered: Two days ago, a highly respected judge in the Southern District of New York, in Manhattan, came out with a decision on the whole Russia hoax, and he said exactly that: it’s a hoax. You ought to read the decision. This is a decision by a judge who is highly respected — who was appointed by Bill Clinton when he was President — and he came out and he said, “It’s a hoax.” And that’s exactly what it is. This was a case brought by the Democrats against me, and nobody wants to talk about it. You know why? Because it’s fake news.”

I know this isn’t going to surprise you, but that’s not exactly what the judge said. In fact, it’s not even remotely close to what the judge said.

Here’s what happened. The Democratic National Committee sued the Russian Federation for hacking into its servers. As a result of that hack — and the Trump campaign’s cooperation in disseminating the illegally obtained information — the DNC suffered significant damages, including a “dramatic drop” in donations and a million dollars to repair and fix the cybersecurity issues. DNC staff members also suffered online harassment and death threats as a result of the leaks. The suit also included a number of defendants who were members of the Trump campaign who’d actively aided the Russian Federation in distributing the stolen material.

Judge John G. Koeltl ruled that the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act prevented the DNC from suing the Russian Federation for damages in U.S. courts, even if Russia had acted illegally and damages were suffered. The judge also ruled that since the “second level participants” (the Trump campaign) didn’t aid in the actual hacking, they weren’t liable for that act. And finally, the judge ruled the Trump campaign’s distribution of the illegally obtained information was protected by the First Amendment “in the same way it would preclude liability for press outlets that publish materials of public interest despite defects in the way the materials were obtained so long as the disseminator did not participate in any wrongdoing in obtaining the materials in the first place.”

(Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian)

So no, the judge didn’t say Russian interference was a hoax. What he said was that Russia had committed a crime, that the Trump campaign benefited from that crime knowing it was a crime, but was protected by the First Amendment when they disseminated information obtained by that crime.

“You ought to read the decision,” Comrade Trump said. As if he’d actually read it. If he had read the decision, it’s possible — oh hell, it’s probable — he didn’t understand it. I mean, the guy is a fucking idjit; the complexities of the law are as meaningless to him as the physics of Frisbee flight are to a dog. The dog can catch the Frisbee without doing the math, and Trump can understand the suit was dismissed without understanding why. But it’s a mistake to assume the dog or Trump has any sort of grasp on the underlying mechanics that spark their behavior.

In addition to being a fucking idjit, Trump is also a fucking liar. Even if he had read the decision and understood it, he’d almost certainly would have lied about it. Because that’s what he does.

The news media knows all this. Yet because of tradition and the institutional inability to adapt, the news media will continue to ask questions of Comrade Trump, knowing his answers are essentially meaningless in terms of reality. And the news media will continue to repeat those answers as if they have meaning, when the shared reality of all legitimate news agencies is this: Trump is a fucking idjit and a fucking liar.

Ain’t nothing fake about that.

NOTE: By the way, there hasn’t been an official White House press briefing since March 11, when former Press Secretary Sarah Sanders gave an eleven minute briefing. That’s 145 days, nearly five months, without a press briefing. The current Press Secretary, Stephanie Grisham, hasn’t held any press briefings at all. Her salary is around US$180,000. Assuming she actually exists.