it ain’t hoo-ha

I have been unreasonably and uncharacteristically busy for the last couple of weeks. There’s been SO much to rant about and so little time for any serious (or semi-serious, or even farcical) ranting. As much as I’m capable of actually hating anything, I hate being too busy to have fun.

But I’m never too busy to read the news — and I have a very broad definition of news. Sometimes it includes Vanity Fair, and this morning I read an article by Graydon Carter entitled The Trump Presidency Is Already A Joke. Carter (who, by the way, has hair that’s as architectural as Trump’s, but where Trump’s hair is Escher-esque, Carter’s is more Frank Gehry) makes the fairly obvious argument that Comrade Trump is a cartoon figure rather than an earnest administrator, but at the end of the third paragraph he writes something astonishing.

The thing is, if Trump has made any sort of arrangement with the Russians—Kremlin, oligarchs, F.S.B., Mob, or any combination of the four—to drop the Obama-era sanctions in return for past favors, the hoo-ha surrounding his Russian connections now makes that almost impossible to deliver. Whatever support he has received from the Russians over the years presumably came with promises of a payback. If Trump can’t follow through on this, he might be in serious trouble.

Let me offer a different perspective on what ‘the thing is’. The thing is that if those sentences were written about anybody in political life OTHER than Trump, they would have been written as part of a political obituary. That’s what the thing is — that Comrade Trump, after just a couple of months in office, has so eroded the concept of integrity in government that a comment about the president’s possible collusion with a foreign power is relegated to the third paragraph.

Let’s just take a moment and unpack what Carter wrote.

…if Trump has made any sort of arrangement with the Russians—Kremlin, oligarchs, F.S.B., Mob, or any combination of the four…

Shorter version: if Trump committed treason with Russia.

…to drop the Obama-era sanctions in return for past favors…

S.V.: by accepting a bribe.

…the hoo-ha surrounding his Russian connections now makes that almost impossible to deliver.

Not so S.V.: The multiple investigations by Congress, the FBI, and the Treasury Department, coupled with the long-overdue increased scrutiny by news agencies have hosed Trump’s ability to follow through on his treasonable arrangement.

Whatever support he has received from the Russians over the years presumably came with promises of a payback.

S.V.: Putin expects to get his beak wet.

If Trump can’t follow through on this, he might be in serious trouble.

S.V.: Putin will cut a bitch.

Of course, it’s not just Trump who’ll be in serious trouble. And it’s not just his coterie of greedheads and fascist ideologues, who’ll be in serious trouble. These United States will be in serious trouble. Hell, These United States ARE in serious trouble. No matter what happens now, Putin wins. The very fact that this fuckwit occupies the Oval Office has compromised the integrity of the U.S. and undermined our confidence in democracy.

The most ridiculous facet of this tectonic mess is that it’s entirely possible — even probable — that Putin played Comrade Trump for a chump. It’s possible/probable Trump just saw collusion with Russia as a business arrangement that would give him an edge over his competitors, not as treason. It’s possible/probable that Trump fell victim to the old gambler’s adage: if you can’t spot the sucker in your first half hour at the table, then you’re the sucker.

In the past, Trump has always been able to stroll away from a bad deal. When he fails, he declares bankruptcy or gets a loan from his family or enters an arrangement with some dodgy financier. You don’t get to walk away from Putin. I’m not saying Putin is Keyser Söze. He’s more like Keyser Söze’s younger brother. The respectable member of the Söze clan. Keyser Söze in a suit and tie. When he’s not riding bare-chested on a fucking horse.

Graydon Carter ends his article with this bit of bullshit:

Trump’s legacy and that of his family could end up in tatters. The self-lauded Trump brand may well wind up as toxic as the once self-lauded brand of another New York-Palm Beach family: the Madoffs.

Trump’s legacy. The only people who give a rat’s nasty ass about the Trump legacy are people named Trump.

I’m pleased the editor of Vanity Fair is already writing about the end of the Trump presidency. But I wish he wouldn’t minimize the scope and magnitude of Trump’s transgressions. Even if he was played for a chump, Donald Trump is still personally responsible for seriously degrading and corrupting the office of the President of These United States, and for casually pissing on the very idea of governance.

That ain’t hoo-ha.

and he smiled

I didn’t watch Comrade Trump’s speech on Tuesday night. My Trump Tolerance Quotient, which has never been particularly high, was way too low to allow me to watch him speak live on television. I figured it would trigger some sort of unfortunate temporal lobe episode — and who needs that on a Tuesday?

But I consider myself to be a good citizen and a patriot, so I decided to watch the entire speech yesterday morning. The first thing I noticed was that it wasn’t really a speech. Not in the traditional sense, anyway. People have been practicing the art and craft of public speaking since the damned Greeks, so we know what a speech is. What Trump did on Tuesday night wasn’t public speaking. It was public reading.

Comrade Trump displays ability to read words aloud.

Comrade Trump displays ability to read words aloud.

It was embarrassing, really. For the most part, Trump just read sentence after sentence. Slowly. Like he was afraid he might leave out a word.

Recent threats targeting Jewish community centers and vandalism of Jewish cemeteries as well as last week’s shooting in Kansas City remind us that while we may be a nation divided on policies, we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all of its very ugly forms.

First off, this just isn’t something Comrade Trump would actually say. This is not the way he speaks. But we can ignore that, right? Because even badly delivered written speeches aren’t necessarily meant to be conversational. But just a few hours earlier this mendacious sumbitch was suggesting maybe those threats and that vandalism were ‘false flag’ attacks perpetrated by Jews in order to gain sympathy or make other folks look bad.

And then there was this:

Dying industries will come roaring back to life; heroic veterans will get the care they so desperately need. Our military will be given the resources its brave warriors so richly deserve. Crumbling infrastructure will be replaced with new roads, bridges, tunnels, airports, and railways, gleaming across our very beautiful land. Our terrible drug epidemic will slow down and ultimately stop, and our neglected inner cities will see a rebirth of hope, safety, and opportunity.

Right. Also? Shoeless Joe Jackson will emerge from the cornfield to play catch with your dad, Joss Whedon will revive Firefly, fashion designers will start putting real pockets in women’s clothes, that recipe your auntie gave you for okra-jello salad will turn out to be really good, George R.R. Martin will finish whatever fucking Game of Thrones book he’s been working on for the last decade, Michele Obama will punch a Nazi, and the U.S. Women’s National Soccer team will finally get paid what they’re worth.

It was all pretty much standard issue bullshit. Until this moment:

We are blessed to be joined tonight by Carryn Owens, the widow of US Navy special operator Senior Chief William Ryan Owens. Ryan died as he lived, a warrior and a hero, battling against terrorism and securing our nation.

I resent this. I resent it, but I know that trotting out victims and widows for a public display of sentiment is, sadly, an established practice now. Every president since Reagan has done it (one more sin to lay at that motherfucker’s feet). But this was a singularly reprehensible moment for a lot of reasons.

First, let’s acknowledge the fact that Chief Owens didn’t die. He was killed. There’s a difference. Second, he was killed on a raid casually approved by Trump, who didn’t even bother to follow the raid in the situation room while it was taking place. Third, Trump tried to shift responsibility for the fuck-up to President Obama and to the generals instead of accepting that as Commander-in-Chief, he was ultimately responsible. In terms of accountability, it doesn’t matter if the raid succeeded in its goals or not. Not every mission is going to succeed. No battle plan survives intact after first contact with the enemy; that’s been accepted wisdom since the days of Field Marshall Helmuth Karl Bernhard Graf von Moltke.

But when things go ‘oh shit’ everybody who issues orders accepts responsibility for what happens to the people who attempt to follow those orders. Everybody. That’s just how it works. From the ground up, everybody who gives an order carries the weight of the poor sumbitch who follows the order.

But not Comrade Trump.

Then that reprehensible moment turned into something even more reprehensible. As the long moment of applause began to ebb, Trump said this:

Ryan is looking down right now. You know that. And he is very happy because I think he just broke a record.

And he looked at the widow — and smiled.

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This fucking guy who says he’ll do everything for the military, but refuses to take them seriously — he smiled. This fucking guy who’d spent much of the week dodging responsibility for his role in the raid in which Chief Owens was killed — he smiled. This fucking guy said, out loud and to Owens’ widow, that her dead husband was happy because of the amount of applause generated by his sacrifice.

He said that, and he fucking smiled.

I had to stop watching the speech.

a beautiful word

It really shouldn’t surprise me. Two things have been obvious for years. First, the total mass of Comrade Trump’s ignorance is so densely packed it can affect the tides. And second, he’s never let his ignorance on any subject prevent him from acting like he knows something.

So there’s absolutely no basis for me to think Trump would take the issue of human trafficking any more seriously that he takes anything else. But here’s the thing: this meeting of several groups who deal with human trafficking was set up by his daughter Ivanka. So I thought maybe he’d take five minutes, read a briefing on the topic, show some actual interest. I mean, you do that sort of thing for your kids, right? You put their art on the refrigerator door, you help them with a school project, you pretend to like their music, and when they arrange a meeting on human trafficking in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, you make a little time to learn about the issue. Right?

Nope. Not Trump. If he has a clue about human trafficking, it wasn’t obvious in his opening remarks. And when I say ‘remarks’ I mean a seemingly stochastic series of structurally malformed sentences (you can read the entirety of his opening remarks here if you want, though lawdy, it’s pretty fucking painful to read). Trump informs his audience of professionals who deal with human trafficking that human trafficking is a horrific practice. And hey, it’s getting worse.

“It’s getting worse and it’s happening in the United States in addition to the rest of the world, but it’s happening in the United States, which is terrible.”

It’s happening right here in These United States, and sure, the rest of the world too, but here, right here in River City. Which is terrible. Something must be done.

It’s such a terrible, horrific practice right here in the United States and the rest of the world (but mostly, you know, it’s a horrific practice in the United States), that Trump is:

“prepared to bring the full force and weight of our government to the federal and at the federal level, and the other highest levels, whatever we can do.”

All those other highest levels, you guys. None of those low levels, no sir. The highest levels of — well, you know. Complete with their full force and weight. To do whatever we can do. With the federal.

And what can we do? We can damned well put an end to human trafficking (which, by the way, is still a horrific practice).

“I want to make it clear today that my administration will focus on ending the absolutely horrific practice of human trafficking.”

Ending it! All those highest levels with the federal and others will focus on ending the horrific human trafficking practice. Which you’d think would mean solving the problem, right? Silly rabbit.

“Solving the human trafficking epidemic, which is what it is, is a priority for my administration.  We’re going to help out a lot.  ‘Solve’ is a wonderful word, a beautiful word, but I can tell you, we’re going to help a lot.”

Solve — beautiful word. Who could argue with that? So maybe actual solving isn’t going to happen, but Trump and his highest levels are going to help. How much are they going to help? A lot. In what way are they going to help a lot? So glad you asked. Trump is going to have his people…

“…take a hard look at the resources and personnel that they’re currently devoting to this fight.”

A hard look, you guys. Not a soft look. Fuck no, what — you think he’s Obama? No, he’s going to have them take a hard look. At those resources and personnel. Is that enough to solve help out a lot with this horrific problem? Well, okay, maybe not.

Is there anything else Trump and his levels can do? Yes! They’re going to talk about it.

“It’s a very, very terrible problem.  It’s not talked about enough.  People don’t know enough about it.  And we’re going to talk about it, and we’re going to bring it out into the open and hopefully we’re going to do a great deal to help prevent some of the horrific — really horrific — crimes that are taking place.”

Man, once Trump and his highest levels start with that hard look and the talking, you’re going to see some serious preventing. Hopefully. Because human trafficking is horrific. Also, terrible.

Credit where it’s due, and all that. Trump had the grace to thank the people for showing up at his daughter’s party important meeting.

“I cannot thank each of you enough, and the dedicated men and women who run my staff and your staffs in getting everybody together was terrific.  I was so glad I was able to be here.”

And in conclusion…

“I really can say, in this country, people don’t realize how bad it is in this country, but in this country and all over the world.  So thank you all for being here.”

It’s really bad in this country. Really really bad. But in this country and all over the world. Trump can really say that. Out loud.

Comrade Trump taking a hard look at...well, resources. Also, personnel.

Comrade Trump taking a hard look at…well, resources. Also, personnel.

Still, there’s this: boom! Another problem solved! A horrific practice, solved. Nobody realized how bad it is in this country and in this country, also the world, but in this country, nobody realized until his daughter told him, but now — horrific practice ended. Or solved. Or helped a lot. With the staffs and the highest levels and all those hard looks, those are some really hard looks, the best, believe me. And really, is there a more beautiful word than solve?

C’mon, okay, maybe. Horrific, that’s pretty good too.

this motherfucker must go

I’m sorta kinda grateful for General Michael T. Flynn, Comrade Trump’s current National Security Advisor. I mean, yeah, the guy is unfit for the position — but so is just about everybody in Trump’s Cabinet of Nazgûl. But Flynn is doing something that really, truly needs to be done.

He’s resurrecting the Russians Helped Elect Trump story. Which is basically the Trump is an Illegitimate President story. And that’s a story that desperately needs more attention.

How is Flynn doing this? He’s using the traditional all-purpose Comrade Trump approach: incompetence bolstered by lying. There was a time when Gen. Flynn was a big hat in the intelligence community. He spent his entire Army career in intelligence, he’s held dozens of high-ranking intelligence positions, ending up as the Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. Those are some serious intelligence chops.

Then he got himself fired for being an aggressive conspiracy crank. Well, not actually fired. He was encouraged to retire. His own aides coined the term ‘Flynn Facts’ to describe the crazy shit Flynn believed and would talk about. Also, nobody liked working with him, not just because of the crazy shit but because he was also apparently an annoying dick. Plus they thought Flynn was a tad sloppy with keeping government secrets actually secret. So they invited him to pack his bags and see what it was like to be a civilian again.

flynn

So Flynn bought a ticket on the Trump train. It didn’t hurt that Flynn, like Comrade Trump, had a crush on our boy Vlad Putin. That brought Flynn an invitation to visit Moscow and sit at the same table with Putie during an anniversary celebration of RT (which is basically the Russian government’s pet news agency). Shortly thereafter, Flynn began to appear regularly on RT as an analyst.

So here’s a guy who’s spent his entire career dealing with military secrets, who’d become a conspiracy nut, who was known to be lax with secret, now working for a Russian news agency at the same time he’s working for Trump’s presidential campaign at the same time Russia is interfering with the US election process in order to help Trump get elected.

That’s bad. But it gets worse. After it became public knowledge that the Russians helped elect Trump, President Obama booted a whole bunch of Russians out of the country. Every single time there’s been an international dispute resulting in Russian embassy staff getting the boot, Russia has retaliated in kind. Yet in this case, Putie decided to do exactly nothing. Étonnant! Incroyable! 

It was so astonishing and incredible that the U.S. intelligence community got curious, and began doing all that shadowy techno-shit that spy agencies enjoy so much. And hey, they discovered that after the expulsion of Russian diplomats, Gen. Flynn had made contact with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the U.S.

So these folks asked Flynn the obvious question: “Dude, did you and Sergey chat about those sanctions?” To which Flynn replied, “What? Me? No, c’mon.” The intelligence community said, “No, seriously dude — did y’all talk sanctions?” And Flynn was all “What did I just say?” And then big hats in the Republican party also found it necessary to ask those questions. “Dude, we need to know if you chatted about this stuff with the Russkis,” to which Flynn replied “No fucking way would I do that.” The GOP big hats (including Vice President Pence and Reince Preibus) felt the need to ask one more time. “Seriously? You didn’t discuss this at all? We’re asking on account of we have to go on all the Sunday talk shows and we don’t want to be seen as lying.” Flynn reassured them. “Would I lie to you?”

Gen. Michael Flynn, it turns out, would totally lie to them. Of course, he would. And he did. This is the Trump administration, after all. These weasels would lie about how many slices of pepperoni are on the pizza. Both the NY Times and the Washington Post report that multiple sources — multiple sources, you guys — that Flynn is lying his three-star ass off. He did, in fact, discuss the U.S. sanctions.

Not just that, but he apparently told the ambassador that once Comrade Trump was in office, the sanctions would disappear. Think about that. Russia helps Trump get elected by fucking with the election process, the president punishes Russia for fucking with the election process, Comrade Trump’s advisor — the guy is going to become the National Security Advisor — tells Russia the punishment will be lifted. How fucked up is that?

flynn-and-trump

All this comes at the same time we’re learning more information about that Trump ‘dossier’ put together by a former MI6 operative. You know — the dossier with the story of the big bladder Russian hookers. That one. We’re hearing the U.S. intelligence community is pretty much confirming ‘parts’ of that dossier. Not the pissing business, don’t get your hopes up. No, they’re confirming the bits that suggest the Trump campaign colluded with Russian intelligence services to damage Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Got it? After a lifetime of handling U.S. spy stuff, Flynn is pushed into early retirement. He becomes Trump’s baggage handler. He gets a gig with the Russian government’s pet news agency. Russia begins colluding with the Trump campaign to kick Clinton to the curb. Trump gets elected. President Obama punishes Russia. Flynn talks to the Russian ambassador and agrees to remove the punishment after Trump is inaugurated. Flynn lies about doing that. It really leads to one inescapable conclusion.

This motherfucker must go.

Oh, and there’s this: as of right now, Comrade Trump hasn’t addressed the issue of Flynn’s lies. When he does, I suspect Trump will lie about it.

Update: Gen. Flynn has resigned. In his resignation letter he states he “inadvertently” briefed VP Pence with “incomplete information”.

There are still a couple of issues that need to be considered and addressed. First, will Flynn be prosecuted under the Logan Act, which makes it illegal for a citizen to engage in “any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States.”

Second, what did Comrade Trump know about this, and when did he know it?

muslims and taco bowls

I knew it was going to be bad. I didn’t know it would be this bad this soon. I knew Comrade Trump had no real grasp on the concept of governance, but I didn’t know he was entirely ignorant of how government worked. I knew he wasn’t prepared for the job, but I didn’t know he’d make no effort to learn.

Trump apparently believes issuing a presidential executive order works the same basic way as ordering a taco bowl. You say “I want a taco bowl” and somebody gives you a taco bowl. You say “I want a ban on Muslims” and somebody gives you a ban on Muslims. Easy peasy. Right?

Easy as ordering a taco bowl.

Easy as ordering a taco bowl.

Nope. Ordering a taco bowl is easy; getting a taco bowl that’s safe to eat is complex. Somebody has to grow the lettuce and the tomatoes and the beans, somebody has to pick those vegetables and legumes, and somebody has get them to market. Somebody has to make the tortilla shell, somebody has to make the cheese. Somebody has to gather all those makings together, and somebody has to put it all together so somebody can bring it to your table. And throughout that whole process, there’s somebody monitoring it all to make sure that all the ingredients are healthy, and that they’re properly handled and prepared so that you don’t end up in the bathroom puking your guts out. It’s a massive, complex process, making a taco bowl.

Trump said “I want a ban on Muslims” and somebody gave him a ban on Muslims. In this case, it was two somebodies: Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller. These guys wrote the executive order, and served it to Comrade Trump, who signed it.

Stephen Miller and Steve Bannon -- should not be allowed in the kitchen.

Stephen Miller and Steve Bannon — should not be allowed in the kitchen.

You know, when you make your first taco bowl to be served to the public, you have to let your supervisor look at it before it makes its way to the customer’s table. The same is true when crafting an executive order. You’re supposed to let other folks look at it and make sure it’s correct before you foist it on the unsuspecting public. For example, if you write an executive order pertaining to homeland security, you’re supposed to let the folks at the Department of Homeland Security get a peek at it before it’s released. It’s not just a matter of good manners to do that; it’s also how you insure the customer doesn’t end up in the bathroom puking his guts out.

Trump, Bannon, and Miller didn’t bother. The Secretary of Homeland Security learned about the executive order when he saw it announced on television. Seriously. On television.

Not only did they fail to ask for the advice of the Department of Homeland Security, they also failed to check with the Justice Department,. And the State Department, and the Department of Defense, and the National Security Counsel. They didn’t even show the order to the Office of Legal Counsel, which has always reviewed executive orders before they were released. Hell, these people didn’t even prepare the two agencies that would be implementing the order — the heads of the Customs and Border Protection agency and the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services were given a telephone briefing while Comrade Trump was signing the order.

Let me just recap this. These three bozos — Trump, Bannon, and Miller — put together and issued a presidential order having global implications with less care and supervision than the guy working part-time in the kitchen of your local Taco Bell. It’s no wonder a big chunk of the world has found itself in the bathroom, puking its guts out.

comrade trump in the oval office

Trump: Hey, I just farted.

Pence: A gentleman doesn’t fart, Mr. President; a gentleman breaks wind.

Trump: No, that was a fart, believe me. My first fart as President. First Oval Office fart, and it was a good one.

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Pence: Yes sir. Very powerful. Maybe we should continue discussing your plan to investigate the massive voter fraud. We need to…

Trump: Three to five million illegal votes. I don’t even know what to say. Three to five million. That’s a lot of votes, Lot of votes. Dishonest media keeps…wait. I think I’m going to fart again. Hold on.

Pence: Mr. President, we need to discuss what agency will conduct the investigation. The FBI  The DOJ? Maybe the FEC? And we have to determine where the funding will…

Trump: Nope, false alarm. Not a fart. No fart. I don’t care who does the investigation so long as it’s a great investigation. A beautiful investigation with good results. You know who does good investigations? Putin. We should get him on the phone and ask who does his investigations. Those are terrific investigations, over there in Russia. The best.

Pence: I’m not sure what would be wise, Mr. President. If the news media learn we’ve consulted the Russians, they’ll…

Trump: The crooked media, they’re against me, always have been. They don’t want me to succeed, the most crooked, dishonest group of people ever in the history of this great country. Ever in the history. It’s just despicable. Despicable. I was wrong, there’s another fart in there.

Pence: Yes sir, Mr. President. We don’t have to decide on those details today. Why don’t you just sign this executive order requiring…

Trump: Sure, give it to me. This is a great executive order. I think this may be my best executive order so far. This is why I got elected, to sign execu…yeah, there it is. Another fart. Now that was a presidential fart.

Pence: Praise Jesus.

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Trump: The president gets to fart wherever he wants. There’s no conflict. No conflict. And you have to stand there and smell it. It’s good to be the president. Where’s Melania? She should smell this fart. Putin. He’d appreciate it. You know who can fart really well? Germans. It’s all those sausages. I don’t know what they put in those things. What’s the German word is for sausage?

Pence: I don’t speak German, Mr. President.

Secret Service Agent: Wurst.

Trump: What? What’s worse?

Secret Service Agent: The German word for sausage, sir. It’s wurst.

Trump: Worse than what?

Pence: Mr. President, why don’t we move on to…

Trump: Worse than what? I want to know what’s worse than what.

Secret Service Agent: I’m sorry, sir. I wasn’t clear. Wurst is the German word for sausage. Double you, you, are, ess, tee. Wurst. As in bratwurst or liverwurst.”.

Trump: Best bratwurst, right here in Trump Tower. The best, absolute best.

Pence: We’re, uh, in the White House, Mr. President.

Trump: I know that. Oval Office. I had them change the curtains. Obama had crimson curtain. Not presidential. Not presidential. You wouldn’t believe how unpresidential. I had them replaced them with these classy gold ones. So much better. So much. Is there a menu here? I want to look at the menu.

Pence: Somebody get the president a menu.

Secret Service Agent: Here you are, Mr. President.

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Trump: Is there bratwurst on the menu? Or maybe a taco bowl?

Pence: I’m sure the White House chef will prepare whatever you want, Mr. President. But for now perhaps we could discuss policy? We have a lot to do and we’re just getting started.

Trump: I know that. A lot of great stuff to do. The news media won’t report on all the great stuff we’re going to do. They’re only interested in undermining. Nothing but undermining. It’s all they…farted again. Maybe I should order in the press corps. You think I should bring in the press corps? Make them smell my fart? They’d just have to stand there and take it. Dishonest, corrupt media and their lies. At least a million people at my inauguration. At least. Maybe more. Probably more. Possibly not, but probably more. I’m just saying.

Pence: Mr. President, we have a lot on the agenda today. Why don’t we…

Trump: Mexicans, they’re good farters too. Not the best, not the best, but good. It’s those taco bowls they eat. Good farters. Not the best, though. Not as good as the Germans. Germans fart like a pack mule. But the Mexicans are pretty good. Not the best, okay. But pretty good.

Pence: Please, Mr. President, we have a long day ahead of us. We need to discuss your cabinet appointees, who are having some difficulty with certain members of Congress. I suggest we…

Trump: You know what would be good? A taco bowl with bratwurst. Somebody call down to the restaurant and tell them I want a taco bowl with bratwurst. Would that still be called a taco bowl? Call downstairs to the restaurant and tell them I want one.

Pence: Still in the White House, Mr. President.

Trump: Just do it. And after lunch I want to meet with the press.

a sea of pussy hats

Some folks are troubled by the pink pussy hats. Some are troubled, others are amused, or curious, or confused. A few are offended — not by the hats themselves, but by the pussy reference.

There’s no point in discussing the pussy hats unless we first talk about the Women’s March. First, it wasn’t a protest against Comrade Trump. It’s true that Trump was the spark that lit this fire and there were plenty of anti-Trump signs, to be sure. But while the anger at Trump is very real and cuts very deep, the Women’s March was not specifically or directly a protest against him. Had it been an actual protest against Trump, there would have been such a storm of righteous rage that the very earth itself would have been scorched. But, for the third time, this wasn’t a protest against Trump.

It was a rally and a march for women.

not-in-the-white-house

Now, the pussy hats. No, wait — we’ll come back to those in a bit. Let’s take a look at the people who attended the Women’s March. Or, rather, the Women’s Marches — because there were marches all across the United States. In fact, there were satellite marches on all seven continents. This was a planet-wide event. Aside from sharing the name Women’s March, as far as I can tell, the various marches all also shared a similar eclectic composition.

I can only speak directly of the march I participated in. There were smiling babies, and young parents trying to keep toddlers out of the mud, and grandmothers wearing pussy hats, and people singing, and a small gathering of cheerful grey-haired Wiccans wearing cartoonish witch’s hats, and a guy wearing a faded MOPAR/NASCAR jean jacket over a Stand Up for Standing Rock t-shirt, and a young woman in a wheelchair with a rainbow blanket around her legs, and people of every age and faith and color and a spectrum of gender identities and orientations so broad it required a significant chunk of the alphabet to enumerate them — and all of us talking and laughing and shouting and hugging each other and chanting. You’d probably see many of those same people at an anti-Trump protest; but they wouldn’t be smiling and laughing.

stand-with-planned-parenthood

Perhaps the most inspiring thing about the rally — about ALL the rallies and marches across the globe — was the way women took the insults made against them by Comrade Trump (and lawdy, there were a LOT of insults against women) and transformed them into positive symbols of resistance. It’s a sort of socio-political aikido, redirecting the momentum of an act of aggression and using it against the aggressor. He calls Hillary Clinton a nasty woman, they defuse the insult by embracing the title. It’s brilliant, really. It’s a gentle turning aside of an attack meant to wound, and turning it aside without excusing or forgetting or forgiving the attack or the attacker.

whole-lotta-pussy-hats2

And that brings us to the hats. Some folks questioned the use of pink pussy hats. Most of the criticism I’ve seen seems to be grounded in the notion that the hats themselves are supposed to be representative of actual vaginas. Since not all vaginas are pink and since there are a lot of folks who are lacking any sort of vagina at all, the argument is that the pussy hat is an unsuitable symbol. I get that. As a person without a vagina, I get it.

But I disagree.

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The pink pussy hat, as I understand it, is a response to Comrade Trump’s cavalier and offensive discussion about grabbing women “by the pussy.” The hats weren’t meant to be taken literally; they aren’t symbolically appropriate for every individual who participated in the marches. But the hats ARE a simple, easily accessible, highly visible, socially elastic device that indicate solidarity for the entire constellation of rights and causes that joined the orbit around the Women’s March on Washington.

Much of the beauty and power of the Women’s March is that it was inclusive. It wasn’t the ‘Stop the Pipeline’ march or the Reproductive Rights march or the Black Lives Matter march or the Save the ACA march or the Immigrant Support march or the ACLU march or the LGBTQIAPK march or the Religious Freedom march or the Climate Change is Real march — but all of those causes were made welcome and encouraged to join.

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In my opinion, that makes the pink pussy hat perfectly appropriate. The same arrogance and contempt and ignorance and hostility that allows Comrade Trump to brag about grabbing women by the pussy is also directed at gay folks and scientists and Muslims and water protectors and union members. Trump (and his Cabinet of Nazgûl) assumes he has the right to grab everybody by the pussy, whether they have one or not.

But, again, this wasn’t a protest against Trump. It was an affirmative stand for the dignity of all people. It was an announcement made by a few million people around the world that we’re all going to support each other.

The pussy hat is optional.