no, not even bill ferny

— You can’t actually be serious.

This isn’t verbatim, but it’s pretty close to an actual conversation I had over the holidays. I’d said I hadn’t yet completely decided who I was going to support in the Iowa Democratic Caucus. Which is true. I’m leaning toward Bernie, but I won’t rule out supporting Hillary. I like them both, though in different ways and for different reasons.

— You can NOT vote for Hillary. You just can’t.
— Well, yeah, I actually can. And I might.
— No, be serious. She’s a puppet of the oligarchy.
— Six weeks ago you didn’t even know what ‘oligarchy’ meant.
— I know now, and voting for Hillary is like willfully voting to destroy democracy.
— Oh, well there’s nothing completely fucking insane about that comment.
— She’s in Wall Street’s pocket. She’s as bad as the Republicans.
— Oh? As bad as Trump?
— Well…
— Rubio? Cruz? She’s as bad as Bush Three or Fiorina. Or Christie. Or Carson?
— Almost. You can’t trust her.
— You can’t trust any politician a hundred percent.
— You can trust Bernie.

Young Bernie Sanders

Young Bernie Sanders

— I like Bernie, but c’mon. It’s not like he’s the Chosen One. He’s a good man, but he’s not necessarily the guy I’d pick to carry the One Ring to Mount Doom and chuck it into the fire.
— Hillary would use the One Ring. In place of a Dark Lord, she would set up a Queen, and…wait, what I’m saying is she’ll say or promise anything to get elected. Totally untrustworthy. Her policies suck.
— What does that even mean, ‘her policies suck’? Which policies suck?
— Her policy on the TPP. Bernie is opposed to it, and so is Elizabeth Warren.
— Do you even know what the TPP is? Or what it does?
— You’re telling me you support the TPP?
— Parts of it, sure. I like that it requires other nations to give more respect to copyright law. Other parts, not so much. And by the way, Hillary doesn’t support the final version of the TPP. She supported an earlier version of it. She changed her mind because the new version gives too much protection to pharmaceutical corporations.
— Bernie has always opposed it. That’s the thing. Hillary supported the invasion of Iraq, now she doesn’t. She was against gay marriage, now she supports it. She supported the TTP, now she doesn’t. She doesn’t have any core beliefs. Bernie’s always consistent.
— Not always. He’s slowly changing his views on guns.
— Well, guns.
— And pot. He changed his views on legalizing marijuana.
— Did he? Well, that’s different.
— And his political affiliation. First he was a Socialist, then an Independent, now he’s a Democrat.
— Well, you know, times change, you get new information, and sometimes you have to…you know.
— Exactly.
— But that doesn’t justify supporting Hillary.
— I haven’t said I am supporting Hillary. I said I haven’t decided. Times change, new information, all that. I could support either of them. Or Martin O’Malley, for that matter.
— O’Malley doesn’t have a chance.
— People said Bernie didn’t have a chance.
— That’s different.
— Look, Democrats have three candidates, all of whom are better prepared to lead the nation than any of the Republicans.
— Yeah, but Bernie is the only one who can change the system. He’s the only candidate that doesn’t accept corporate money. He’s the only one who has any hope of keeping the big banks honest.
— Because he’s pure of heart.
— Well, yeah, sort of.
— My good blade carves the casques of men, my tough lance thrusteth sure, my strength is as the strength of ten, because my heart is pure.
— What?
— Galahad. The poem? Galahad achieved the Grail, and all that because his heart was pure.
— What the hell are you talking about?
— I’m talking about the most annoying trait of Hillary-haters, and that seems to include a growing number of Bernie supporters. I’m talking about the tendency to attribute Hillary’s policy positions malevolence and corruption, while attributing Bernie’s to virtue and integrity.
— Bernie’s a good man.
— Yes, he is, and he might make a good president. Jimmy Carter was also a good man..Hell, he’s still a good man…but he wasn’t a very effective president, was he.
— I’d rather have a good man in the White House than…don’t do that gender thing on me; you know what I mean. I’d rather have a good person in the White House than an effective corrupt one. Wouldn’t you?
— I don’t know. Maybe. Probably. But it’s easier to remain a good person when you’re representing a state that has the population of Nashville, Tennessee. When you represent six hundred thousand people in a nation of three hundred and twenty million, you don’t get challenged to make as many political compromises. Hillary has been dealing with international issues for decades. She’s had to make lots of compromises. Is her heart as pure as Bernie’s? No, of course not, how could it be? Does that mean she’s corrupt? No, it doesn’t.
— So you think Hillary Clinton is pure as snow?

Young Hillary Rodham

Young Hillary Rodham

— No, of course not. I’m pretty sure she’s pulled some shady shit as Secretary of State. That’s part of the gig, pulling shady shit. What I’m saying is that she’s been playing on a much larger and much more complex stage, and that necessarily means she’s had to wade in more shit than Bernie has.
— Which makes her dirtier.
— Yeah, it does. It also means she has more experience in handling shit, and being president is a job where experience can really matter.
— But I’m tired of voting for the lesser of two evils. I want to vote for somebody I respect.
— Then support Bernie. I’m probably going to.
— Then why are you arguing for Hillary?
— I’m not. I’m arguing against a false dichotomy. I’m arguing against the way Bernie and Hillary are being represented by a lot of Bernie supporters. I’m saying this isn’t a choice between Good and Evil. It’s more a choice between Good, Better, and Best.
— Yeah, I don’t know about that. How can Bernie be Best if Hillary is Better?
— Okay, forget that metaphor. Try this. Hillary has been around the block a few times. She knows her way around the block. Bernie might not be as familiar with the block, but maybe he can find a better, straighter path. Does that work for you?
— Maybe. I’ll have to think about it.
— All I’m saying is that they’d both get us around the block. I’m saying we can see Bernie as a hero without making Hillary a villain. I’m saying Bernie can be Frodo without Hillary being Saruman.
— Sauron.
— What?
— Sauron. Sauron’s totally evil. Saruman was once good. He was the head of the White Council, who…
— Jeebus on toast. This is exactly what I’m talking about. Hillary is NOT Sauron.
— Saruman then.
— No. Are you fucking kidding me?
— How about Bill Ferny?
— Who?
— That guy from Bree? You remember, the one who sold the hobbits the half-starved pony?
— Oh yeah. I always liked that pony. I always feel bad when I read that part where it gets chased away by that thing with the tentacles.
— He was a good pony.
— But you’re still doing it. You’re saying Hillary would be cruel to animals and snitch on the hobbits to the Nazgûl.
— Okay. Yeah, Hillary probably wouldn’t snitch to the Nazgûl.
— That’s a start.
— But Bernie would fight to get a living wage for the orcs.
— I need a drink.

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i mock their plumes

Did you see the GOP bun-fight Tuesday night? I did. And I was reminded of Aristotle. No, seriously, I was. Aristotle, you see, believed the brain’s function was to cool the blood, and wasn’t involved in the thought process at all. The Republican presidential candidates seemed to supply supporting evidence for that.

Did you ever see such an astonishing display of hubris and ignorance? Well, yeah, if you’ve watched earlier GOP debates, you probably have. And if you lived through the George W. Bush presidency, you definitely have. But still, damn. It wasn’t just the depth of their ignorance, it was the grand scope of it. They were deeply and profoundly ignorant about SO many things.

Republican Presidential Debate

Republican Presidential Debate

I mean, Trump — no, wait, I’ll come back to Trump. Let’s talk about Carly Fiorina first. She said this (and I’m not making this up):

Soon after 9/11, I got a phone call from the NSA. They needed help. I gave them help. I stopped a truckload of equipment. I had it turned around. It was escorted by the NSA into headquarters.

Equipment! A whole truckload of it! She had it turned around! Vote for Carly! She has the experience a leader needs. If that leader needs to turn around a truckload of equipment. Did Obama ever turn around a truckload of equipment? Hell no.

Carly Fiorina Intercepts a Trick filled with Equipment.

Carly Fiorina Intercepts a Truck filled with Equipment.

Carly also revealed her strategy to fight ISIL — just get the right generals.

One of the things I would immediately do, in addition to defeating them here at home, is bring back the warrior class — Petraeus, McChrystal, Mattis, Keane, Flynn. Every single one of these generals I know. Every one was retired early because they told President Obama things that he didn’t want to hear.

Every single one of those generals retired early — because they said things Obama didn’t want to hear. Every single one. Except General Petraeus, who was forced to resign after an investigation revealed he’d given classified material to a reporter. A reporter he was enthusiastically boinking. And except Gen. McChrystal, who resigned when he was found to have violated Article 88 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which is a court-martial offense. And then there’s Gen. Keane, who resigned five years before President Obama took office. The other two generals? Well, two out of five ain’t bad.

But Carly was a Rhodes scholar compared to Trump, who said — no, not yet. I’ll come back to Trump. Let’s talk about Chris Christie, who (honest, I’m not making this up) said:

I’d say to (Vladimir Putin), “Listen, Mr. President, there’s a no-fly zone in Syria; you fly in, it applies to you.” And yes, we would shoot down the planes of Russian pilots if in fact they were stupid enough to think that [I] was the same feckless weakling that the president we have in the Oval Office is right now.

It’s that easy, if you’re the Governor of New Jersey. Just tell folks “Hey, no-fly zone, clear your ass outa here.” Except that there are a LOT of different national air forces banging around in the sky over Syria. The U.S. and Russians, of course, but also the French, the British, the Turks, and the Saudis, as well as occasional raids by aircraft from the U.A.E. and Qatar and Bahrain and Jordan. Most of these are nations are near-neighbors of Syria, but Christie think all he has to do is stroll over and tell them where to fly.

As stupid as his comment was, at least Christie was referring to somebody who actually exists in the natural world. He wasn’t that careful during the entire debate:

I will tell you this, when I stand across from King Hussein of Jordan and I say to him, “You have a friend again sir, who will stand with you to fight this fight,” he’ll change his mind.

King Hussein of Jordan, a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad, has been dead since 1999. Chris Christie, if elected, will speak firmly to dead people. And Michael Jackson will teach him to do the moonwalk.

Chris Christie Speaks with King Hussein of Jordan.

Chris Christie Speaks with King Hussein of Jordan.

Still, I have to say Christie wasn’t as idiotic as Trump, who…no, let’s just hold off on Trump for a bit. Let’s talk about Ted Fuckin’ Cruz. Now there’s a piece of work. Cruz has said that if he were the Commander-in-Chief he’d “carpet bomb ISIS into oblivion,” and find out whether “sand can glow in the dark.” That glowing in the dark business is suggestive. It means Cruz 1) would use nuclear weapons against ISIL or 2) doesn’t know what the fuck he’s talking about. With him, either is possible. Or both. And in response to a more direct question about carpet bombing, he said this:

You would carpet bomb where ISIS is, not a city, but the location of the troops. You use air power directed — and you have embedded special forces to direction the air power. But the object isn’t to level a city. The object is to kill the ISIS terrorists.

Maybe Ted Fuckin’ Cruz has access to secret precision carpet bombing technology, because historically carpet bombing has basically meant blowing the shit out of every goddamn thing in the way. Or near the way. Or in the same general vicinity of the way. Carpet bombing is saturation bombing. It’s indiscriminate. It’s also pretty much considered a war crime.

The Ted Cruz Version of Carpet Bombing.

The Ted Cruz Version of Carpet Bombing.

But the staggering military ignorance of Cruz is nothing compared to the ignorance of Trump. Trump was asked what his priorities would be in regard to the nuclear triad. Now, I’m going to guess you probably don’t know what the nuclear triad is. You don’t need to know, because you’re not campaigning to be the next President of These United States. Essentially, the term refers to the three methods of delivering (and there’s a fine use of the term deliver) nuclear weapons: strategic bombers, land-based intercontinental missiles, and submarine-launched ballistic missiles. Trump, who IS running for president, didn’t have a clue.

[W]e have to be extremely vigilant and extremely careful when it comes to nuclear. Nuclear changes the whole ball game. Frankly, I would have said get out of Syria; get out — if we didn’t have the power of weaponry today. The power is so massive that we can’t just leave areas that 50 years ago or 75 years ago we wouldn’t care. It was hand-to-hand combat.

That response got applause, believe it or not. I call it a ‘response’ because it was a series of words strung together in reaction to a question. But it’s not really a response because it had nothing to do with the question. There’s no coherent connection between the sentences. Hell, there’s no coherent connection between the beginning of some sentences and the end.

Trump Groks Devestation.

Trump Groks Devastation.

Then it got worse. Trump was asked to clarify.

I think — I think, for me, nuclear is just the power, the devastation is very important to me.

Jeebus wept. And is still weeping. None of these tunaheads is capable of running These United States. I’m not convinced any of them would be capable of running a lawn care service. But one of them will be the Republican candidate.

All is confounded, all!
Reproach and everlasting shame
Sits mocking in our plumes.

Let us all join in mocking their plumes.

hold them responsible

In September of 2012 four men — a U.S. Ambassador, a Foreign Service information officer, and two CIA security contractors — were killed in Benghazi, Libya. They’d all volunteered to be stationed in that volatile region. They all knew the dangers they faced and the risks they were taking.

The deaths of these four men has resulted in seven different high level investigations, thirteen Congressional hearings, more than fifty Congressional briefings, and at least twenty-five thousand pages of documents published. The investigations have cost taxpayers more than five million dollars…so far. The investigation continues; it’s the longest Congressional investigation in U.S. history.

benghazi-four

Three months later twenty children, all of whom were six or seven years old, were killed while attending Sandy Hook Elementary School. Six adults were also killed. The school was supposed to be safe. None of the dead were aware of the danger they faced. None had volunteered to risk their lives.

How many Congressional investigations were launched? None. How many hearings, how many briefings, how many pages of documents published? Take a guess. A limited firearm safety bill was introduced in the U.S. Senate. It failed to pass. The bill never reached the House of Representatives.

sandy-hook-victims-1217

Let me just repeat that. Four adult men who volunteered to serve their country in a dangerous region were killed in the line of duty, and Congress is still investigating it in order (they claim) to ensure the tragedy never happens again. Twenty prepubescent children and half a dozen school teachers and administrators innocently attending school were killed, and Congress did exactly nothing.

Nothing is what they’ve done in response to every single mass killing since the horror at Sandy Hook. Nothing is what they’ll do about yesterday’s mass killings in San Bernadino and Savannah. They’ll continue to do exactly nothing unless ordinary people call them on it. Unless ordinary men and women and mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers pick up their telephones and call their representatives at their offices, unless we bombard them with email, unless we contact out local newspapers and demand action, unless we make it politically risky for the cowards in Congress to continue ignoring gun violence.

You can find the contact information for your Congressional Representative here. You can find the contact information for your Senators here.

Call them. Raise hell. Hold them responsible.