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.


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.


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.


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.


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?


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.


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.


insert stormy metaphor here

I am beginning to like Stormy Daniels. Not as a person, because I’ve never met her and I don’t know anything about her as a person. She might be witty and charming and a great Scrabble player, she might be stupid and greedy and spider-hearted. I don’t know. It doesn’t matter.

I’m beginning to like Stormy Daniels because she’s refusing to shut up. It doesn’t matter to me why she’s refusing to shut up. Maybe because she’s looking for a bigger payday, maybe because she’s interested in Truth and Justice, maybe because she’s polarizing and won’t shut up because people keep telling her she should shut up. I’m beginning to like her because she’s basically telling the President of These United States “You’re not the boss of me.”

By now, everybody knows most of this basic set of facts about Stormy (I’m going to call her Stormy because it’s so much fun to write):

  1. Comrade Donald J. Trump cheated on his third wife (with whom he’d cheated on his second wife, with whom he’d cheated on his first wife) with a porn actress shortly after his wife gave birth to their unfortunately-named son. This was in 2006.
  2. Stormy claims to have continued to get horizontal with Trump for at least a year.
  3. In 2011, Stormy talked about the…should we call it an affair? I don’t know. That term came into practice for an ongoing sexual relationship back in the early 18th century, when English-speaking philanderers described what they were doing as affaires de coeur to distinguish it from just fucking around. But what the hell, let’s say it was an affair. Maybe these two crazy kids actually cared for each other in a deep, spiritual, meaningful…okay, no, not an affair. Anyway, our Stormy talked to In Touch magazine about fucking Trump in a variety of geographic locations. The article wasn’t published. Nobody seems to know why.
  4. In the fall of 2016, shortly before the election, Stormy began to speak to some news venues about having boinked candidate Comrade Trump.
  5. In October of that year, she signed a non-disclosure agreement in which she pledged NOT to discuss having boinked Trump. She was paid US$130,000 for signing the document.
  6. A couple of months ago that NDA became public knowledge thanks to the Wall Street Journal. After which In Touch published a transcript of their interview with Stormy, after which she began to make the talk show circuit but was very coy about her affair boinking Trump but hinted she was limited by the NDA, after which she did a strip club tour, after which Trump’s lawyer admitted he’d paid Stormy the US$130 thou while insisting Trump knew absolutely nothing whatsoever about anything at all, after which the entire world started laughing uproariously, after which the lawyer for Trump’s lawyer got a restraining order forbidding our poor Stormy from talking about boinking Comrade Trump because of the NDA, after which Stormy asked a court to declare the NDA was void because Comrade Trump didn’t sign it so she ought to be able to talk about boinking Trump, after which Stormy’s lawyer went on a morning talk show and basically said “Look, Stormy totally fucked the guy, okay?” and hinted there might be physical evidence of that. Like a dress with DNA maybe. Or photos. Which really doesn’t bear thinking about.

In other words, this is a cheap, sordid, thoroughly despicable series of events — pretty much like everything that’s happened in the Trump administration. Or, for that matter, in Trump’s entire cheap, sordid, thoroughly despicable life.

Donny and Stormy, sitting in a tree…

Should we care about this? Is this any of our business? Does it really matter whether or not Trump is a serial philanderer (he totally is)? Isn’t this really a personal matter between Trump and his wife? Or his wives? Or his wives and various mistresses and casual sex partners? Did we care that Bill Clinton got a blowjob (is it ‘blowjob’ or ‘blow job’?) from an intern?

Well, yeah, actually we did care. We (and by ‘we’ I mean ‘me and a whole lot of other liberals’) surely did care. Not so much about Clinton’s sex life, but about the abuse of power. A lot of us acknowledged that Clinton was a pretty effective president, but a fairly loathsome reprobate.

I don’t think a lot of folks are surprised or very upset by the fact that Comrade Trump used his wealth and fame to get laid (nor is anybody all that shocked by the astonishing hypocrisy of the evangelical community’s response to it). But paying hush money? And being really incompetent at paying hush money? And after incompetently paying hush money, he didn’t even get the hush? I mean, c’mon. How are we supposed to trust and respect a president who can’t even get a porn actress to hush up about their affair intercontinental boinking? Keeping porn stars from talking, that’s basic Billionaire 101, right?

Look, nobody expects anything remotely like dignity from a guy who referred to the size of his dick in a presidential debate. And nobody really expects honesty from a guy who lies about…well, everything. But I should point out — you know, in the interest of fairness and all that — that Comrade Trump has denied having sex with Stormy.

So, this is what Comrade Trump wants you to believe: 1) Trump’s personal lawyer created a limited liability corporation 2) whose only purpose was to pay Stormy US$130,000 3) out of the lawyer’s own pocket, 4) without any discussion at all with Trump, 5) to prevent her from saying she’d been boinking Trump, 6) which isn’t true.

It’s okay. I’m laughing too.


glory days

A gun-nut friend (yes, I remain friends with folks who are gun nuts) sent me a couple of links to opinion pieces he felt I should read. So hey, I read them. Why not? One was in The Federalist (which likes to present itself as being thoughtfully conservative) and the other was in USA Today (which is to newspapers what white bread is to bread).

I read the Federalist opinion piece. I actually agreed with some of the author’s thoughts (like ‘the loudest voices are often the most ignorant’), but disagreed with the author’s conclusions (liberals who don’t understand weaponry should shut the fuck up). Then I read the USA Today editorial, which was a lot less interesting. It was basically just another bland re-hashing of the usual tired arguments in favor of arming teachers. It was entirely wrong-headed, but fairly innocuous. In other words, about what you’d expect from USA Today.

Then I saw the name of the author of the editorial. Jerome R. Corsi. The author attribution described him in this way:

Investigative journalist Jerome R. Corsi is author of Killing the Deep State: The Fight to Save President Trump. He heads the Washington bureau of Alex Jones’ InfoWars.

Calling Jerome Corsi an investigative journalist is like calling your drunk uncle an alcohol researcher. Corsi’s not any sort of journalist, let alone an investigative one. Jerome Corsi is an extreme right-wing nut job. And InfoWars? That’s absolutely one of the worst of the lunatic right-wing conspiracy theory websites.

Jerome R. Corsi

Why would any news organization willingly turn over even a few inches of publishing space to a right-wing nut job who works for a conspiracy theory website? I mean, even if what’s written is just a bland re-hashing of the usual tired arguments, why in the hell would USA Today want to offer any legitimacy to somebody like Corsi?

I first learned about Corsi during the 2004 presidential election campaign. He wrote a book about the Democratic candidate called Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry, It was essentially a right-wing attack on Kerry’s combat service in Vietnam. It disparaged Kerry’s wounds (he received three Purple Hearts) and criticized his awards for valor (Kerry was awarded both a Bronze Star and a Silver Star). For the most part, the book relied on interviews with veterans who didn’t serve on Kerry’s boat. Corsi’s book is the origin of the term ‘swiftboating’ which is defined as an unfair or untrue political attack.

That was the first of Corsi’s many right-wing conspiracy theories. He also wrote a book about then candidate Barack Obama, claiming Obama was a secret Muslim, born in Africa. Here are a few other things Corsi has claimed. 1) there’s a secret plot to replace the US dollar with some sort of international currency, 2) an Islamic terrorist group supported Sen. John McCain, 3) the US (well, President Obama and Sec. of State John Kerry) sold or gave nuclear weaponry to Iran, 4) there’s a plot to create a North American Union comprised of the US, Canada, and Mexico — and that a new currency and new driver licenses have already been created, 5) the 9/11 attacks included bombs placed inside various World Trade Center buildings, and my personal favorite, 6) Adolf Hitler escaped Germany in the final days of WWII by taking a helicopter to Austria, where he boarded a plane which took him to Spain, where he was smuggled aboard a Nazi submarine (U-530) which took him to Argentina, where he (and possibly Eva Braun) were secretly landed ashore.

Corsi, (allegedly one pastrami sandwich away from a heart attack).

Possibly the only person less trustworthy and more paranoid that Jerome Corsi is Alex Jones, the demented fuckwit who created InfoWars — the lunatic right’s preferred source for the latest conspiracies on chemtrails, weather control, false flag attacks on school kids, and subterranean Satanic pedophile sex rings run out of DC area pizza parlors by Hillary Clinton and her Muslim lesbian lovers.

And this is the guy USA Today chose to write an editorial supporting arming teachers in schools in order to protect school kids from “psychologically disturbed adolescents who may be contemplating copy-cat school shootings.” Who’s going to protect USA Today’s readers from psychologically disturbed editorial writers? USA Today defended their decision to turn this loopy bastard loose on their editorial page by releasing the following statement:

USA Today’s Opposing View shows readers more than one point of view on an issue. Our signature debate format reinforces our reputation for fairness, which is one of our core values.

The problem, of course, is NOT that USA Today ran an editorial supporting the arming of teachers. The problem is giving a known conspiracy theorist a mainstream voice. The problem isn’t one of fairness, as USA Today suggests; it’s one of judgment. Not Corsi’s judgment, which is demonstrably lacking, but the judgment of the editorial staff of USA Today.

USA Today used to be news and entertainment pablum. Turns out, those were their glory days.


…and took the photo

I took a walk yesterday. I take a walk most days if the weather isn’t completely hostile. Walking on Thursday is usually a bit special, though, because (as I’ve written before, and before that) I belong to Utata — an international group of photographers and other reprobates — and Utata walks on Thursdays.

The group has been doing this for 619 consecutive weeks. That’s very nearly 12 years. We walk and we take a few photos of whatever we see. Not everybody in Utata does this, of course, but there are always a few people out walking with their cameras. This week, for example, we had people walking in Vancouver, in Switzerland, in the U.K., in Indiana, in Austria, in Ontario.

Normally during a walk I’ll shoot maybe half a dozen photos. Well, probably a few more than that now that I’m consciously shooting a Knuckles Dobrovic project. Yesterday I only shot a single photograph. This one:

I’ve been noodling around with cameras for a few decades now, and I’m familiar enough with whatever equipment I have with me to compose and shoot without a lot of conscious thought. I usually know the geometry of the composition I want before I bring the camera (or cellphone) up to shoot the photo. But with this particular photo, a process that normally would take moments ended up taking a few minutes.

I’d actually walked a few feet past that structure before my brain registered that its shape echoed the shape of the shed in the background. So I stopped, walked back, started to take the photo…but there was a distracting bit of playground in the back yard of the house. Couldn’t have that, could I. So I shifted my position a couple of steps to the right…only now the trees were out of balance. So I shifted again…only now a tree partially blocked the shed. So I shifted closer…but the top of the structure no longer aligned with the roof of the house. So I squatted…only now it cut off a corner of the damned house window. So I unsquatted a bit…only now there didn’t seem to be quite enough of the fucking sidewalk. So I shifted back a couple of steps and re-squatted, then re-unsquatted a bit…but some cruel, heartless son-of-a-bitch pulled a goddamned car into the drive of the neighboring house and left its ass-end hanging out just enough to intrude into the fucking frame.

So I said ‘fuck it’ and took the photo.