in which i sorta lose my temper

I’d never heard of Kevin Williamson until a friend sent me a link to an opinion piece in the New York Time entitled The Outrage Over Kevin Williamson. Even though I’ve lost a lot of respect for the Times, and I generally avoid their opinion page these days, I read the piece. I wanted to know 1) who the hell is Kevin Williamson, and 2) who was outraged by him, and 3) why.

Bret Stephens

The editorial is written as an apologetic letter to Williamson by Bret Stephens, who I only know as a conservative political writer who opposes Comrade Trump. It begins with Stephens citing the reasons for the apology:

Sorry, first, that you have to endure having your character assailed and assassinated by people who rarely if ever read you and likely never met you. Sorry also that your hiring as a writer for The Atlantic has set off another censorious furor in media circles when surely there are more important subjects on this earth.

Okay, then. This guy Williamson, who has been offered a job writing for The Atlantic, is apparently having his character assassinated. That’s shameful. Nobody likes that, nobody is in favor of character assassination. So at this point in the editorial I’m feeling a bit of empathy for poor Williamson. Until I found out why there is a ‘censorious furor in media circles.’ Stephens writes:

The case against you, as best as I can tell, rests on three charges. You think abortion is murder and tweeted — appallingly in my view — that doctors and women should perhaps be hanged for it.

I may have set a North American speed record for shifting from empathy to censorious furor. This guy tweeted that women who have abortions and doctors who perform them ought to be hanged? Hanged?

Stephens lists a couple other reasons for that ‘censorious furor’ but really, why bother? I mean, that first reason alone is more than censorious furor-worthy. Hanged, for fuck’s sake. Hanged!

I don’t like abortion, as I’ve said elsewhere, but I completely support a woman’s right to choose. I can understand why a lot of folks disagree with me. I can also understand why a lot of folks would like to turn back the clock and make abortion illegal again, though I think they’re absolutely wrong. I can even understand (on a purely intellectual level) why some folks would think it necessary to criminally punish women and abortion providers. But hanging? Are you fucking kidding me? Hanging?

Stephens goes on:

[Y]our critics show bad faith when they treat an angry tweet or a flippant turn of phrase as proof of moral incorrigibility. Let he who is without a bad tweet, a crap sentence or even a deplorable opinion cast the first stone.

A flippant turn of phrase. Hanging women and doctors…just a bit of irreverent frivolity. I’ve written my share of crap sentences, and I know there are folks who think some of my opinions are deplorable. But you can hand me that first fucking stone, because if advocating hanging women and abortion providers isn’t proof of moral incorrigibility, then I don’t know what is. What kind of fucking madness is that? You know what really shows bad faith? Wanting to hang people for receiving or performing an absolutely legal medical procedure.

Kevin Williamson

Stephens finishes by chastising the people who don’t think The Atlantic should hire a guy who has advocated hanging women and abortion providers. He says,

[T]hey foreclose the possibility of learning something useful from someone smart. Learning does not require agreement. There’s a reason this section of the newspaper is labeled “Opinion,” not “Affirmation,” “Reinforcement,” or “Emotional Crutch.” Liberals used to know that. What happened?

What happened? I’ll tell you what happened, you pus-brained fuckwit. A lot of people have no interest in ‘learning’ the opinions of assholes like Kevin Williamson who think the appropriate response to terminating an unwanted pregnancy is to string women and their doctors up by their necks until they die. That’s what happened.

Advertisements

thanks

Occasionally people send me things. I’ve no idea why they do, but they do. Not often. Maybe three or four times a year. But periodically the postal carrier arrives at the door with an unexpected package.

Well, not always unexpected. I mean, usually somebody has emailed me and said something like “Dude, I have something for you — what’s your address?” And I give them my address. Why the hell not? I spent a chunk of my life as a professional invader of privacy, so I know the notion of personal privacy is pretty much an illusion. So far nobody has mailed me dog shit or anything explodey, so there’s that.

It always pleases me when these packages arrive. Sometimes, I confess, I’m a tad confused by what’s actually in the package — because sometimes the thing in the package is…well, let’s say some of the stuff is eccentric. But still, how could I not be pleased at the generosity and thoughtfulness behind the gift?

A random assortment of stuff folks have sent me.

I get photographs, of course. Lovely, interesting, beautifully printed photographs. And books (usually about photography, or about photographers, or by photographers but I’ve also received stuff like old Conan Doyle novels). I’ve a friend who, like some character out of fiction, sits in European cafes and writes beautifully (occasionally indecipherable) hand-written letters on the most sensuous paper, sometimes including an interesting business card. And occasionally there’s the eccentric stuff — shark teeth, a bent and rusty horseshoe, a bit of shale shaped like a duck’s head, an advert for gas masks, a box of Jane Austen band-aids, a ceramic ashtray. “Saw this,” people write, “thought of you.” I’m not sure quite what it means when somebody sees a key chain modeled after a Medical Examiner’s toe tag and thinks of me, but I like to think it’s somehow a compliment.

Yes, I took a selfie with a Jane Austen band-aid on my nose.

Okay, this is going to seem like a tangent, but it’s not. Back in 2012 I wrote a blog post about encountering a huge murder of crows. A couple of years ago, I was notified about a new comment on that post. It read:

Hi Greg,
I love your photos. I, too, am a huge fan of crows and ravens. We had a pet raven named Cyrano De Bergerac. He was so smart and so funny. I was wondering if I could use/buy one of your crow photos to include in a painting I want to do.
Thanks from heather

I said yes, of course. I usually say yes to this sort of thing. Besides, I’m a huge fan of crows and a huge fan of Cyrano (the Brian Hooker translation) and a huge fan of folks who can paint. So I said yes, then I promptly forgot all about it. I usually promptly forget about this sort of thing. But then in January I got an email.

Dear Greg, I responded to an early blog post about crows. I had a pet raven named Cyrano De Bergerac and I asked if I could use your photos for a painting I wanted to do. I finally got around to working on it. I am almost finished and I was wondering if you would like to have it. If so, may I have your mailing address?  Thanks from Heather

So I gave her my address. And, again, promptly forgot all about it. Then the painting arrived.

I don’t know what I was expecting. Something small, I suppose. Maybe one of those 8×10 cotton duck canvas panels. Actually, I’m not sure I had any expectations at all. I was just pleased that Heather liked a photograph, and pleased that she wanted to use it as a basis for a painting, and enormously pleased that she was generous enough to want me to have the final work. But whatever I was expecting, I can say without any hesitation that it wasn’t this. It wasn’t 34×24 inches of this:

I was gobsmacked. My gob? Totally smacked. It’s crows, of course, but it’s not just crows; it’s Aesop’s crow, the one from the fable in which a thirsty crow drops pebbles into a jug of water until the water level rises so he can drink. It’s Aesop’s clever crow channeled through Heather Vos, with a bit of mysticism tossed in, and a healthy dollop of pure crowness.

There’s a 12th century bestiary that includes an imaginary discussion between a crow and God. God, it seemed, was foolish enough to try to ignore the crow. The crow wasn’t having any of that, even from a god. The crow said,

“I, Crow, a talker, greet thee Lord. with definite speech, and if you fail to see me it is because you refuse to believe I am a bird.”

This what I love about crows, and it’s what I love second-most about this painting. Crows are clever, confident enough to talk to gods as an equal — confident enough to explain things to gods. We see that crow confidence here.

What I love most about the painting, of course, is that it exists. That it’s a physical reminder that people like Heather Vos exist. That a woman from a small town in Ontario, was thoughtful enough, generous enough, talented enough to create this painting and share it with me.

I’m a lucky guy, I recognize that. I live in a safe place, I have a warm bed in which to sleep, I haven’t had to miss a meal in years, I have friends and family. I’m generally a ridiculously happy person. On those rare occasions when I start to feel the world is cold and cruel (and there’s ample reason to feel that way these days) all I have to do is look around my desk and I’m reminded that the world is full of people who are kind and caring and altruistic and warm-hearted — and I’d go on, but I already sound too much like a Pollyanna.

But thanks — thanks to Heather and to everybody who has ever sent me anything, including their thoughts.

my satire compass done broke

The ‘patriots’ of FreeRepublic are unhappy, and they want folks to know about it. Those spoiled, obnoxious kids with their weird hair and their African boogie-woogie music and their total lack of good manners marched yesterday, demanding that politicians pay attention to them. Kids these days, I declare.

“This is all too organized. I have little doubt that the recent school shooting and possibly the Vegas shooting were false flag operations. You don’t put these events together on short notice.” —  bk1000 (I stand with Trump)

Well, now I’m confused. Apparently the people who successfully implemented two false flag mass murders, resulting in 75 deaths and 438 wounded aren’t organized enough to put together a march in support of their false flag operations. Man, this false flag stuff is hard.

“Many of those killed were 14 or 15 years old. How many freshmen and sophomores would a junior or senior even have met in a large high school?” — Bob

Sure, Bob, that makes perfect sense. These kids must be frauds, because most of them probably weren’t close friends to the ones who were killed. Probably. And c’mon, why would anybody grieve over the deaths of folks they don’t know that well? Unless, of course, those folks are pre-embryonic blastocysts. Why won’t anybody speak for the pre-embryonic blastocysts?

“I attended the great 9/10/09 Tea Party march in DC against Obola and all he stood for. We had 1,700,000 attendees and, by pure, polite numbers alone, shut down the DC Metro. Then, afterwards, we cleaned up our own mess.” — Libstripper

Yeah, okay. The great 9/10/09 Tea Party march was held on 9/12/09, but let’s not pick nits. And that 1.700,000 people who attended? The two main event organizers — the National Taxpayers Union and FreedomWorks — estimated the crowd size to be between 200,000 (FreedomWorks) and 800,000 (NTU). The public information officer for the DC Fire Department acknowledged the crowd was “in excess of 75,000.” But hey, nits for the picking, right? On the other hand, it’s been reported that there was far less trash left behind than you’d expect from 1,700,000 protesters. So there’s that. Thanks, Obola.

“It does have the look of being manufactured all the way back to the shooting itself. How many opportunities for law enforcement were there to stop that nut? This looks media generated.” — virgil

Well, virgil is clearly on to something here. Law enforcement must be in on the false flag operation because they had too many chances to stop the shooter but didn’t. Also? If law enforcement hadn’t been so distracted by the fake news Russia-Trump-Russia investigation, they’d have seen the shooter was dangerous. Also too plus? The school resource officer was a coward who could/should have stopped the shooter but didn’t because…because…wait…oh, because it was a false flag operation to distract people from the Russian investig…wait…okay, it was because…you know, maybe I’ll come back to this after I’ve had my meds.

George Soros overseeing a false flag operation to destabilize Trump just like Pol Pot, probably.

“A little too convenient that Hoggboy was an aspiring cub reporter and Baldy was the schools resident LGBTQWERTY activist.” — digger48

Seriously. The only thing more convenient would have been if this entire event was a Soros-funded attempt to disarm citizens and eventually create a dystopian state and eventually commit genocide on the middle class using malcontents like Pol Pot used the peasants in the Khmer Rouge.

“A Soros-funded attempt to disarm citizens and eventually create a dystopian state and eventually commit genocide on the middle class using malcontents like Pol Pot used the peasants in the Khmer Rouge.” — sumuam

Fuck me.

Okay, maybe it was actually a setup from the gitgo by Democrat Party Congresswomen, Debbi Wasserman Schultz, Frederica Wilson and Congressman, Ted Deutch, in cahoots with the Broward County Public Servants & Police Sheriff, Scott Israel, etc. to make POTUS, Trump look horrible while killing the Second Amendment.

“I have believed this was a setup from the gitgo by Democrat Party Congresswomen, Debbi Wasserman Schultz, Frederica Wilson and Congressman, Ted Deutch, in cahoots with the Broward County Public Servants & Police Sheriff, Scott Israel, etc. to make POTUS, Trump look horrible while killing the Second Amendment. It failed, but, the murders did not.” — JLAGRAYFOX

Damn it! These fuckers make satire impossible.

 

in which i confess i was wrong about trump’s cabinet

I was mistaken. In the past I’ve referred to Comrade Trump’s appointments as the Cabinet of Nazgûl. I was wrong.

I mean, it seemed appropriate initially. After all, the Nazgûl were nine men (men, what a surprise) who had “obtained glory and great wealth” in life before succumbing to the dark, corrupt attraction of Sauron’s power. And like the characters in Tolkien’s novel, these men “one by one, sooner or later, according to their native strength and to the good or evil of their wills in the beginning, they fell under the thraldom” of Comrade Trump.

But here’s the thing about the Nazgûl: the reason they were Sauron’s “most terrible servants” was that they were competent. They were good at their jobs. They understood their role, and they fulfilled it professionally. That can’t be said of Trump’s current crop of advisers. These guys would be best described as cartoon villains — except that they have actual power.

I was wrong; this is NOT Comrade Trump’s cabinet.

John Bolton, a certified conspiracy crank who makes Yosemite Sam look like a damned diplomat, is going to be the new national security adviser. This is a guy George W. Bush couldn’t get confirmed as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations despite having a Republican-controlled Senate. This fucking guy has advocated the preemptive bombing of both North Korea AND Iran, because that worked so well in Iraq. This beef-headed motherfucker has publicly suggested the Russian hack of the DNC might have been a false flag operation by the Obama Administration. Testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee revealed that this deceitful sonofabitch bullied intelligence analysts into saying Cuba — Cuba, an island nation whose claim to fame is its ability to keep a 1944 Dodge in running order — had developed a sophisticated bio-weapons program. And Comrade Trump thinks it’s a good idea to make this canker-brained bullshit artist his national security adviser — his third in fourteen months.

John Bolton, National Security Adviser in waiting

This is clearly a disastrous decision. Which means it’s perfectly in keeping with Trump’s decision-making process. It’s the same process that resulted in putting Kellyanne Conway in charge of the opioid crisis because…well, who the hell knows why she was put in charge. She was probably in the room at the time.

Is there any good news in Bolton’s appointment? Yeah, sorta kinda. Bolton probably won’t last very long in his position. He draws too much attention, and Trump wants all the attention focused on himself. Also, Bolton criticized Comrade Trump’s handling of Russia, saying, “Trump got to experience Putin looking him in the eyes and lying to him, denying Russian interference in the election.” I can’t imagine Comrade Trump putting up with that sort of talk for any length of time. I suspect Trump will kick him into the canyon in the not too distant future.

The only saving grace of the Trump administration to this point is that Trump is too fucking incompetent, too fucking stupid, too fucking ignorant, and way too fucking uninterested in anything other than himself to do Sauronesque level damage to the nation. We don’t have a Dark Lord; what we have instead is a cheap-ass, shallow gilt tinplate, jumped up Grima Wormtongue — a lying coward who abuses women, steals from others, and kisses Vladimir Saruman’s ass.

Jeebus on toast — you know, this used to be a halfway decent country.

no need to help the arseholes

Yesterday I mocked the biased preliminary report on the Russia investigation from the Republicans on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. I included a few silly fictionalized tweets based on Comrade Trump’s all-caps tweet celebrating the prelim HPSCI report. One of those fictional tweets…well, hold on. I’ll come back to that.

I tend to write these blog posts fairly quickly. I may piss away a chunk of time doing research, but the actual writing happens in a bit of a rush. Most often it’s a first draft — so there are occasional typos, errors in grammar, mispeled wirds, or words omitted. It also means I sometimes includes stupid shit I wouldn’t have included if I’d paused long enough to consider how the stupid shit could be interpreted by folks who don’t know me. Or even those who do know me.

I made a rare editorial change before publishing yesterday’s post. I deleted a harmless but snarky fake tweet about HPSCI defending the music of Nickelback. I wanted to include something more obviously and sharply political, something more Republicanish. I replaced it with a snarky fake tweet about HPSCI and Stormy Daniels.

This prompted my friend (for the purposes of this post, I’ll call her “Jenn” — which is coincidentally her name) to respond. She wrote:

Loved this, darlin’, until the “STORMY DANIELS PROBABLY ACTUALLY A MAN” bit, which chucks a mudball of mockery in an unfortunate and undeserved direction.

“Jenn” went on to say this:

I’m in complete favor of taking jabs at Republican bullshit and hypocrisy; and lawdy, you do it well. But I find it cruel when a joke depends on transphobia and homophobia for any sort of “scaffolding.” Even if it IS exactly the sort of thing these arseholes would say. There is no need to help the arseholes sideswipe people who are already vulnerable and targeted and getting hurt all the damned time.

“Jenn” is smart, funny, compassionate, and thoughtful. She’s also a good friend. And she’s right. I’d intended the Stormy Daniels bit to be a swipe at the misogyny / gender insecurity of Congressional Republicans. But that swipe WAS built on the hurtful ways haters depict some folks who are already marginalized. It’s all the more hurtful since I have friends who fall outside of traditional gender norms.

I want to say this: I will not let anybody — friend or not — police my speech. But I also want to say this: I need to remember to police my own speech. I’m grateful I have friends who’ll call me out when I’ve crossed a boundary. I may not always agree with the boundary, I may not respect it and I may intentionally violate it — but I’m SO thankful for friends who point out where their boundaries are.

One of the most difficult things we can do — and something we really MUST do — is to call out our friends and family when they say or do something offensive or stupid. It’s probably harder to call out our friends than it is to call out a stranger. It took a bit of courage, I think, for “Jenn” to tell me I’d fucked up. It would have been so much easier for her to stay silent.

Do Not Feed the Arseholes

In this case, I totally agree with “Jenn”. As she said, there was “no need to help the arseholes.” Helping the arseholes is just a tiny step away from being an arsehole. I could have made my point in another way. After “Jenn” spoke up, I considered editing the blog post and re-inserting the snarky Nickelback bit. But that would just be covering my tracks. I think it’s probably more important to acknowledge that I fucked up.

And hey, let’s face it, I’ll likely do it again. We all fuck up. And we can all benefit from friends who remind us not to help the arseholes.

all caps

In a startling revelation yesterday, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence / Russia Investigation (HPSCI) reached the very same conclusion they’d reached before the investigation began. Comrade Trump, who had independently reached that very same conclusion before, during, and after the investigation into his collusion with Russian operatives, quietly celebrated his victory with a tweet.

THE HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE HAS, AFTER A 14 MONTH LONG IN-DEPTH INVESTIGATION, FOUND NO EVIDENCE OF COLLUSION OR COORDINATION BETWEEN THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN AND RUSSIA TO INFLUENCE THE 2016 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION.

So, there you go. Nobody could have predicted this. So many people were under the false impression that the guilty pleas of three Trump campaign officials for lying to the FBI about Russian involvement, plus the guilty plea of the son-in-law of a Russian oligarch for the same crime, plus the guilty plea of a guy who helped Russian operatives set up false identities and bank accounts in order to create websites supporting Trump, plus the indictment of Trump’s former campaign manager on a host of conspiracy charges for his involvement with the Russian government, plus the indictments of 13 Russians who provided pro-Trump content to the illegally obtained websites, plus the indictments of three Russian corporations that funded the criminal operations suggested there MIGHT have been a wee bit of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. But I guess not.

TIDES UNAFFECTED BY MOON, ACCORDING TO HPSCI REPORT.

Despite directly contradicting the conclusion drawn by all 17 of the federal agencies that comprise the U.S. Intelligence Community, the HPSCI is confident Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election was fair and even-handed and totally didn’t favor one candidate (like, say, Comrade Trump) over another. It was bipartisan election meddling. Except for the sources in Russia who provided anti-Trump information to the former MI6 anti-Trump operative who was being paid by anti-Trump/pro-Hillary Democrats, who really ought to be investigated. Also, Benghazi.

HPSCI DETERMINES SPIDERS NOT AT ALL RESPONSIBLE FOR ALL THOSE DEAD MOTHS.

Democrats on the HPSCI whined that the investigation ended prematurely, claiming many witnesses weren’t called to testify and their requests for subpoenas for witnesses and evidence were denied by the Republican majority. Republican heroes responded to that partisan vicious attack by observing there was no point in issuing subpoenas to witnesses who weren’t going to testify voluntarily, and besides they probably didn’t have any real evidence anyway, so there.

ABSOLUTELY NO CONNECTION BETWEEN ZOMBIES AND CHEWED UP CORPSES, SAYS HPSCI.

Clearly, there’s no point in the Democrats on HPSCI issuing their own report, now that HPSCI has released their findings. And it’s obviously a waste of time for the Senate Intelligence Committee to continue its own investigation, as if they’d reach a different conclusion. And why hasn’t Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his team of Trump Haters been arrested yet?

HPSCI REPORT: STORMY DANIELS PROBABLY ACTUALLY A MAN (WHO TOTALLY DIDN’T HAVE SEX WITH AWESOME DONALD J. TRUMP, WHO REMAINS FAITHFUL TO HIS LOVING, ADORING DAUGHTER WIFE).

Now that we can put this whole Russia nonsense behind us, maybe we can get back to the business of making America great again by cutting taxes, deporting illegal brown people, and leveling mountaintops in search of beautiful clean coal.

No puppet, no puppet, you’re the puppet.

MAGA. Build the wall. Lock her up. The president has complete confidence in Secretary of State Tillerson the new guy. More Norwegians, please. Somebody fetch me a taco bowl.

legged

Okay, I let myself get sidetracked a couple of days ago when I wrote about Stormy Daniels and her (totally true, c’mon) allegations of boinking Comrade Donald Trump. There was a thing I wanted to say — an important thing — but I lost track of it on account of there are SO MANY crazy aspects of this story.

The important thing isn’t that Trump boinked Stormy (well, that’s kind of important), and it’s not that he’s lied about it (well, that’s kind of important too), and it’s not even that he had his lawyer pay hush money to keep her from talking about it (well, okay, yeah, that’s pretty important too, but just wait). The important thing is this: Clinton v. Jones, 520 U.S. 681 (1997).

You can see why that slipped my mind, right? Here’s why that’s important: Clinton v. Jones established that a sitting POTUS has no immunity from civil law litigation against him for acts done before taking office and unrelated to the office. Like, say, boinking a porn star. Clinton v. Jones forced President Bill Clinton to answer questions under oath. The result was that Clinton wasn’t entirely honest in his testimony, which led to charges of perjury and obstruction of justice, which led to the Republican impeaching his ass.

This is important because it means Comrade Trump can be deposed under oath, just like Horndog Bill was. Trump can get away with lying to the news media, he can get away with lying to the general public, he can get away with lying to other politicians, he can even get away with lying to his various wives. But he can’t get away with lying to the courts.

That’s the thing I forgot to talk about. If Stormy’s lawsuit goes through, Comrade Trump will likely be forced to either publicly admit to cheating on his wife with a porn star and paying hush money to keep her quiet about it OR he’ll lie under oath.

Either way, Trump gets legged.

Editorial Note: legged — an old gamer term describing the act of disabling or removing a creature’s leg, forcing it to become prone, thereby reducing its defensive strength, making it much easier to dispatch.