a hold on the cranky pants

Hey, you guys! Remember when Comrade Trump got all cranky-pants over NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem on account of they hated America and were black (not necessarily in that order)? And remember when the big hats of the NFL (hint: rich white guys) decided to make Trump uncranky by coming up with policy that said Dude, you can stand for the national anthem or you can park your ass inside the locker room, but we ain’t having you taking no knee in public like some communist or something? Remember that?

Well you can stop remembering it. On account of it doesn’t apply anymore. For the moment. The NFL Players Association responded to the NFL’s Park Your Ass rule by saying, “What? You got to be joking, right? I mean, c’mon, this is America.”

Then what happened is this: the Associated Press (aka Enemy of the People) got hold of the Miami Dolphins’ new code of player conduct. Which basically said, Dude, you violate the rule and take a knee during the anthem, then you don’t get to play for, like, four games. And the NFLPA said, “What? You got to be joking, right? Four games? I mean, c’mon, you don’t get sat down for four games if you beat up your girlfriend or get caught with drugs. Four games? Seriously?”

So the NFLPA filed a grievance, because c’mon, four games. And the NFL said, “Whoa, let’s not get hasty here. Baby, you know I really love you.” So now the NFL and the NFLPA are in Football Couples Therapy, trying to make things work and rekindle their old romance. They released a joint statement.

The NFL and NFLPA, through recent discussions, have been working on a resolution to the anthem issue. In order to allow this constructive dialogue to continue, we have come to a standstill agreement on the NFLPA’s grievance and on the NFL’s anthem policy. No new rules relating to the anthem will be issued or enforced for the next several weeks while these confidential discussions are ongoing.

See that ‘constructive dialogue’ bit? Totally right out of the couples therapy handbook. Pretty soon I expect a mediator will sit both the NFL and the NFLPA down and tell them, “Look, you can be right…or you can be in a relationship.”

The joint statement also included some bullshit about “reflect[ing] the great values of America” which I don’t quite understand. I mean, we’re talking about a group of genetic mutants who dress in high-tech protective gear in order to repeatedly bang into each other with enough force that almost half of the current players show some evidence of traumatic brain injuries and 96% of autopsied players (don’t panic — they wait until the players are actually certified dead before doing the autopsy) displayed chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

Maybe it’s just me, but I’m not sure I want folks giving themselves brain damage for public entertainment to be one of the “great values of America.” But hey, the good news is that the people who pummel each other for our amusement may not be forced choose between engaging in a peaceful protest or parking their asses in a locker room. At least not for a while.

This may all change when Comrade Trump hears about it and it’s time to rile up the rubes before the mid-term elections.

ADDENDUM: Comrade Trump tweeted (of course) about this last night:

The NFL National Anthem Debate is alive and well again – can’t believe it! Isn’t it in contract that players must stand at attention, hand on heart? The $40,000,000 Commissioner must now make a stand. First time kneeling, out for game. Second time kneeling, out for season/no pay!

Uh, no. It’s NOT in the contract that players must stand at attention, hand on heart. As far as that goes, no, it’s not a National Anthem debate. It’s a police misconduct debate that Comrade Trump hijacked for racist, political reasons. And I think the American people must now take a stand. First time complicity with Russia, lose the midterm elections. Second time complicity, out of office.

 

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all democrats have are dildos

I’m a relatively fortunate guy. I manage to get by without having to work a straight job. One of benefits of that is I have the freedom to piss away chunks of time reading news sources/websites/blogs of all political stripes, from rabidly leftist to rabidly conservative. I figure that’s the only way I can have a somewhat accurate understanding of what’s taking place in the U.S.

This morning I plunged into FreeRepublic again. Much of the discussion revolved around four topics: 1) Comrade Trump, 2) Hillary Clinton, 3) guns, 4) Jeebus. Here are a few of the things I learned, in no particular order:

— Trump is “being too successful at too many things, and they need to derail or stop him from having any more successes. After all, if he’s successful at anything or all things, what are democrats going to run on? So, democrats need to make sure that issues don’t get resolved in order for them to run on those issues as remaining problems.”

— “No one has been stronger on Russia than President Donald Trump.”

— “All of the major television networks use their prime time entertainment shows to push a pro-gun control agenda.” Proof? “You never see a good guy with a gun defending himself or a third party.”

— Former CIA Director John Brennan and others are apparently “threatening the killing of Donald Trump” by saying he committed treason. “Americans have to get behind their President and defend him from these people who are trying to pul a regime change in Washington.” However, attempting regime change wouldn’t be wise because “These COMMIE IDIOTS do NOT want to go to War with the GOP! We have all the guns + Military + Special Forces All Democrats have are dildos.”

— “Trump needs to do two things immediately: first, take a 2 week vacation. Second, invite Putin to DC and watch more leftist heads explode.”

— Hillary Clinton and/or her minions murdered Anthony Bourdain. Why? Apparently because Bourdain was going to reveal information about Harvey Weinstein, who’d raped Bourdain’s lover and therefore Hillary had him killed. Also she probably killed “the dead lady found in HumaWeiner’s apt building trash chute.”

— After the 2018 midterm elections, “The Democrats are going to make the move to confiscate everyone’s firearms.”

— There is passionate debate about whether or not the resurrected body of Jesus had blood in it.

— The media “opposes any attempt to preserve the American people in some meaningful form. It aids and abets enemies of the United States. It sides with fanatical ideologies waging war on America. It opposes the outcome of any election that its political allies don’t win.”

— Trump apparently has access to information that was on Anthony Weiner’s hard drive and he’s going to “wait on the first case to come to a close, conviction – plea – acquittal, and declassify that one, exposing all the BS they’ve been up to, all their ‘secret methods’, etc, I think heads will start exploding.”

I suspect some of you will be tempted to write me and say, “I say Old Sock, hold on a moment, I don’t think that’s quite correct.” Or “I say Old Sock, haven’t you something better to do with your time?” Or “I say Old Sock, I’m afraid this doesn’t make a lick of sense.” Or “I say Old Sock, what’s with all this exploding heads business?” Or “I say Old Sock, are you okay? Are you having a stroke? Do you smell burnt toast?”

First, stop calling me Old Sock. Second, the difference between reading FreeRepublic and having a stroke is that the latter is easier to recover from.

Also, for the Democrats reading this, here’s a picture of Wall Street’s Charging Bull covered with dildos, being ridden by a shirtless Vlad Putin wearing a hat. You’re welcome.

putin’s got something on trump

I really don’t know how else to explain Comrade Trump’s contemptible display in Helsinki. I lack the conspiracy theory gene, but what happened yesterday is most easily explained by the conspiracy theory model (nothing happens by accident, nothing is quite what it seems to be on the surface, everything is connected). Even if we take the most skeptical approach, it’s hard NOT to arrive at this conclusion: Putin’s got something on Trump.

We’ve got Comrade Trump, a president whose licentious personal life and shady business practices make him singularly vulnerable to blackmail. We’ve got Vlad Putin, a former professional intelligence officer running the nation that basically invented the notion of kompromat. We’ve got the former insisting on a private one-on-one meeting with the latter — a meeting without the normal complement of aides and advisors, a meeting in which there is nobody taking formal notes, a meeting that lasted over two hours. And we’ve got Trump appearing with Putin immediately after that unprecedented meeting, and essentially denigrating and dismissing his own intelligence and law enforcement communities while praising Putin and Russia. And all this takes place AFTER Trump spent a few days shredding NATO, which is the sort of thing that would give Putin wet dreams.

This is Jeebus Level James Bond villain stuff. Seriously, if you submitted this in a novel manuscript or a screenplay, it would be laughed at as too implausible.

“Not a puppet. Not a puppet. Okay, puppet.”

I don’t know what Putin has on Trump. It could, I suppose, be the infamous alleged pee tape, but that just seems…no, okay, that does actually seem possible. Improbable, but certainly within the realm of possibility. It’s more likely, though, that what Putin has on Trump is something criminal rather than merely salacious.

I’m inclined to go with evidence of money laundering and criminal conspiracy. It’s not as personally humiliating as a pee tape, but it’s got the advantage of being solidly criminal. And prosecutable (my spellchecker insists that’s not a word, but my spellchecker can go fuck itself). Happily, money laundering and criminal conspiracy are exactly the sort of things Special Counsel Mueller’s team is designed to investigate.

Again, I can’t think of any other reasonable way to explain what happened in Helsinki. I think we’re sort of forced into the conspiracy theory mode in which the conspiracy isn’t only possible but probable. None of this is happening by accident, none of it is quite what it seems to be on the surface, and absolutely everything — all of it — is connected.

not normal…unprecedented…irresponsible…fucking nuts. 

During his stream-of-semi-consciousness speech in Montana last week, Comrade Trump addressed an issue that’s on the minds of a whole lot of people — his meeting with Vladimir Putin. I say he ‘addressed’ the issue, which is misleading; he mocked the issue. He said,

“They’re going ‘Will President Trump be prepared, you know, President Putin is KGB and this and that.’ You know what? Putin’s fine. He’s fine. We’re all fine. We’re people. Will I be prepared? Totally prepared. I’ve been preparing for this stuff my whole life.”

No. No, he won’t be prepared. And no, he hasn’t been preparing for this his whole life. But Putin actually has.

Trump grew up pampered and privileged, of course. His grandfather made a fortune providing housing for prospectors during the Klondike gold rush before moving to New York and began buying and building houses and apartments. Trump attended the posh Kew-Forest School until his parents caught him sneaking into Manhattan and sent him to the New York Military Academy–a private boarding school. He did a couple of years at Fordham, picked up a B.A. in economics from the Wharton School, then took a position in the real estate business his grandfather created.

He eventually inherited a lot of money and a lot of lawyers and he’s counted on the lawyers to keep himself in the money. For much of his career, Trump’s business model seems to have been to personally meet with investors, make a number of demands, then leave while his lawyers work out the details. If the business succeeds, Trump takes credit. If it doesn’t, he blames the lawyers. His bankruptcies made it impossible for him to obtain loans from most major international banks, forcing him to deal with banking institutions in former Soviet client states, many of which have an international reputation for money laundering. He’s also become dependent on foreign nationals to buy or lease expensive apartments–also a common source of money laundering.

A pampered, ignorant rich guy.

Putin, in contrast with Trump, grew up in post-WWII Leningrad. Both of his older brothers died–one in infancy, the other from disease during the Siege of Leningrad. His father served in one of the infamous ‘Destruction Battalions’ of the NKVD during the war. After the war, the Putins lived in a rat-infested apartment complex; both of his parents worked in Soviet factories. Putin knows what it is to be poor, to be hungry, to struggle to survive.

He was a good student, though, and Putin was eventually able to attend college and law school (yeah, he’s actually a lawyer). After graduation, he joined the KGB and began his career in counter-intelligence. He monitored foreign dignitaries (which meant spying on them and gathering dirt) as well as consular officials (spying and gathering dirt) in Leningrad. He later spent half a decade undercover (spying and gathering dirt) in East Germany. His work wasn’t simply about spying and gathering dirt; it was grounded in an understanding human frailty coupled with knowledge of techniques to capitalize on that frailty. He eventually became a Lt. Colonel in the KGB.

As the Soviet Union began to collapse, Putin left the KGB–but he used his KGB training to become successful in politics. In seven years he went from being an advisor to the mayor of Leningrad to being a deputy chief on the staff of Russian president Boris Yeltsin. Putin succeeded because he prepared. He studied…well, almost everything about almost everybody he would come into contact with. For example, when he met Strobe Talbot, a representative of the Clinton administration, at an informal gathering, Putin casually mentioned the names of the poets Talbot had studied in college. Talbot understood this wasn’t Putin showing off; it was Putin letting Talbot know the KGB had a detailed file on him–and that Putin was familiar with it.

A seasoned counter-intelligence professional.

A year later, Putin was put in charge of the FSB, the successor of the KGB. A year after that he was appointed acting Prime Minister of the Government of the Russian Federation. He’s basically been in power ever since. His rise to power demonstrates a high level of espionage tradecraft combined with a ruthless determination.

So this is where we are. We have Donald Trump, whose personal and financial behavior has left him vulnerable to blackmail meeting with a guy who built the early part of his career on finding and using dirt to manipulate others. We have Trump who, when challenged, threatens his opponents with a lawsuit (and often fails to follow through on those threats) meeting a guy who, when challenged, imprisons his opponents. Or has them assassinated. We have Trump, who seems incapable of controlling his emotions, meeting with a guy trained to suppress his emotions. We have Trump, who talks tough, meeting with a guy who actually is tough. We have Trump, who never prepares for anything, meeting with a guy who prepares for everything.

And if that’s not bad enough, Trump has insisted his meeting with Putin take place without any official witnesses. No aides, no advisors, no staff, no official translators, and certainly no press. There will be no official record of what happens in the meeting. As far as that goes, there’s not even an official agenda of items to be discussed.

Spider meets fly.

It’s just going to be an over-confident and under-informed Donald Trump walking into a room with an experienced counter-intelligence professional who’s had an entire staff scouring through every moment of Trump’s life for leverage to use against him.

This is not normal. This is unprecedented. This is entirely irresponsible. This is fucking nuts.

march 4 our rights, sorta kinda, maybe

You guys, did you know gun rights are human rights? No? Well, the reason you don’t know that is on account of you weren’t one of the thousands hundreds dozens of people who showed up at the thirteen (13!) student-led ‘March 4 Our Rights’ events last weekend.

You probably think the only student-led gun rallies are those led by gun-hating high school drama students with skinny arms or bald brown lesbian heads who want to take everybody’s guns, melt them down, and turn them into dildos and instruments to be used in abortions. But no! Some students love guns. And they totally love the Second Amendment. Also, America.

The March for Our Rights in Washington, DC (well, it was hot that day, and people were tired from staying up late and torturing pets by shooting fireworks on the 4th of July).

The Chairwoman and National Director of ‘March 4 Our Rights’, Xena Amirani, said her movement is “organic, which is in stark differentiation with the marches held by Parkland gun control activists.” Organic, you guys! Like avocados. You can tell the movement is organic and totally trendy because just look at how they replaced ‘for’ with the numeral 4, just like the cool kids do. And as everybody knows, all those anti-gun rallies and marches are phony and paid for by the two Georges (Soros and Clooney) who want the American people disarmed in order to…you know, something.

Chairwoman Xena Amirani with organic flower.

Sadly for Amirani, her prediction that “thousands of students” would take part in the ‘March 4 Our Rights’ were maybe a tad optimistic. Or delusional. Maybe three dozen people attended the D.C. event. About 35 people showed up at the Chicago rally. And in Palm Beach, Florida there were only 13 (including the organizer, the three speakers, and the parents of the speakers). The organizer of the Palm Beach rally said,

“I don’t know why more people didn’t show up. I think a lot of conservatives are just afraid to show up for public events.”

I don’t know…maybe they wouldn’t be quite so afraid to show up for public events if there weren’t so many crazy fuckers running around Florida toting concealed firearms? Also maybe people didn’t show up because most folks think we don’t really need to keep arming those crazy fuckers. Just an opinion.

In case of domestic enemies. Or brown people. Or in case…what’s that guy got in his knapsack?

The problem, according to these students, is that their views are not being taken into consideration in the debate about school shootings. They just want to be heard. Instead, their call to “take back our gun rights” is met with a chorus of “What, are you fucking nuts? Take back your…just fuck off, okay?” Their complaints of “I’m being SO discriminated against and my friends don’t want to spend time with me anymore just because I love America and guns more than I care about them getting all shot up probably by a mentally ill immigrant and stuff, it’s not fair” receive shockingly little sympathy. Their heartfelt plea to part of the conversation is so often turned away by inconsiderate others who are unable to concentrate on the conversation because they don’t know who the fuck is carrying and what have you got in that backpack, anyway?

You see, gun rights advocates just want to start a dialog. Just a friendly dialog. A dialog in which they’re carrying a gun. Just in case you’re carrying a gun. A friendly dialog, so long as nobody makes an unexpected move. Or looks like they might make an unexpected move. Because c’mon, you can’t trust people; they might be some crazy fucker from Florida.

spink spink spink

Okay, I’ve come up with a plan to put an end to mass murder events. After the most recent mass killing (and it’s the sad nature of mass killings that the phrase ‘the most recent’ becomes meaningless almost immediately — so just to be clear, I’m talking about the mass murder of journalists and support staff at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, MD on 28 June), I knew we had to do something. I mean, thoughts and prayers just aren’t getting the job done.

I think we need to try a new approach. Bracelets of Submission.

Okay, I admit, I see some branding issues there. That ‘submission’ business would make it hard to market. But you see, that’s the actual name for Wonder Woman’s cuffs. The Amazons of Paradise Island wore them as a symbol of their loving submission to the goddess Aphrodite. They also served as a reminder to the Amazons ‘of the folly of submitting to men’.

So yeah, that goddess and submission business might discourage some folks. But I think we just need to shift attention to the bracelets’ awesome ricochet properties. I mean, these things are made from Amazonium, which everybody knows is the industry standard for deflecting projectiles. Not only that, the bracelets are imbued with magic that makes them impermeable to fire, invulnerable to traditional weaponry, immune to blasts of energy, resistant to deceleration trauma (as a result of, say, falling from a great height), and can repel ticks and prevent insect bites. Plus, can you say fashion forward?

But granted, we’d have to rebrand them as something other than Bracelets of Submission. Maybe we could call them Second Amendment Cuffs. Or what about MAGA Bangles? No, wait, I’ve got it. Freedom Gauntlets. Yeah, that would work. 

So I propose we issue Amazonium Freedom Gauntlets to every citizen of school age (at the very least, to those who have health insurance coverage) and hey, bingo, problem solved. Angry white guy breaks into school and starts shooting? Spink spink spink until the police arrive. Angry white guy walks into your place of employment? Spink spink spink and a bit of patience and it’s all over. Angry white guy attacks a women’s health clinic? Spink spink spink and maybe a couple more spinks. Angry white guy shoots up a gay nightclub or a mosque or a pizza parlor? Spink spink, bitches.

Spink spink spink, bitches.

Now, some folks will say this is silly. Some folks will say I’m making light of a terrible situation. Some folks will say I’m mocking the notion of thoughts and prayers.

All of those folks are right. It is silly, it is making light of a terrible situation, and I’m totally mocking thoughts and prayers as a response to mass shootings. Thoughts and prayers are no more effective at mass murder prevention than magical Amazonian Freedom Gauntlets. The response of the United States to gun violence deserves to be mocked.

Because we know this to be true: five men and women were killed couple of days ago by yet another angry white guy who legally purchased the weapon he used to kill them, and aside from the ritual thoughts and prayers, absolutely nothing will be done to reduce the likelihood that it will happen again tomorrow. Nothing.

civility

It all goes back to ancient Rome. It was the first real city of the Western world; it’s been a city for twenty-eight centuries. In the early days of Rome, its citizens were known as cives. To be a citizen of Rome was a big deal. A huge deal. An absolutely massive deal. Being a Roman citizen meant you had civitas — you belonged to collective body of all citizens, you were an integral part of the social contract that bound all cives together.

Being a citizen conferred both rights and responsibilities on a person, and one of those responsibilities was to be civil — to behave in public life in a manner befitting of a Roman citizen so as to maintain civic order. As the Roman empire stretched out across Europe, it spread the idea of civitas — a process by which other peoples in other lands were civilized. Important people in ‘client’ states could become civitas sine suffragio, citizens of Rome (lacking only the right to vote). It was said a Roman citizen could walk across the face of the known world without any fear of molestation, shielded by the words Civis Romanis — “I am a citizen of Rome.”

It was largely bullshit, of course. The Roman army was full of murderous bastards who engaged in all manner of appalling war crimes. Roman politicians were as greedy and corrupt as any. Those ‘client’ states undergoing ‘civilization’ all began as conquered nations. The glory of Rome came at the expense of subjugated people.

But the concept of civitas was, and still is, important. The concept helps make the world a better place — a place where people treated each other decently, with respect and courtesy, with civility. That’s a fine thing.

Today, a member of the Trump administration can’t walk the face of the known world without molestation; they can’t even order a meal in a decent restaurant without being harassed. A lot of folks today are decrying this lack of civility. They’re right to do so.

But they need to remember that civility — that civitas — is a social contract that begins at the top of the social food chain. Civitas confers rights on its citizens, but it also burdens them with certain social responsibilities.

This is really pretty simple. If you belong to a political administration that enforces cruel policies on its people, a political administration that routinely lies to the people about matters large and small, that protects and enriches the powerful at the expense of the weak, then you’ve violated the concept of civility and you aren’t worthy of its protection.

If Sarah Huckabee Sanders wants to be treated with civility, then she has a moral duty to treat others with civility. That’s the contract. Civility has to work both ways.