enter promo code to honor george washington

Today is Presidents’ Day in These United States. Well, sorta kinda. In some of These United States, it’s President’s Day. It’s an apostrophe thing. But there are some states that do away with the apostrophe altogether, in which case it’s Presidents Day.

But a lot of These United States don’t hold with lumping all those presidents together; they’re more exclusive. In a lot of places, the day is all about George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, both of who were born in February. So those states call this holiday Washington-Lincoln’s Birthday. Or, in some places, Washington and Lincoln Day. In Alabama, they dump Lincoln and substitute Jefferson, so they’re celebrating George Washington/Thomas Jefferson Birthday. And in Arkansas it’s both George Washington’s Birthday AND Daisy Gatson Bates Day (and if you don’t know who Daisy Gatson Bates is, I recommend Wikipedia).

george-washington

Originally, of course, this was just George Washington’s Birthday — and there are still four states (including the one where I’m currently parked) that have stuck with the original version. And that’s why in Iowa today, we’re celebrating the birthday of the First President of…fuck, wait.

Okay, it’s not actually his birthday. George was born on February 22, 1732. A century and a half later, in 1879, Congress decided we needed to honor the first president, so they decided to make his birthday a federal holiday. Folks working in the federal government could take the day off to — well, it’s not exactly clear what they were expected to do on George’s birthday, but not going to work was a big part of it. Also, to honor our first president, many shops closed their doors and conducted no commercial business.

At any rate, that’s why we’re celebrating George Washington’s birthday…fuck, wait.

washington-birthday

Okay, turns out George Washington was officially born on February 11, 1731 — not on February 22, 1732. The problem was George was born in Virginia, and Virginia was part of the British Empire, and the British Empire was still using the Julian calendar because the British Empire wasn’t a Catholic empire and even though the Catholic countries of the world had switched to the better Gregorian calendar in 1582, the British Empire wasn’t about to give in to calendar fashion because, dammit, it was the British Empire, don’t you know. Then in 1752 they decided there wasn’t anything terribly wrong with the Gregorian calendar, so they adopted it and George Washington’s birthday went from February 11, 1731 to February 22, 1732.

And that’s why every February 22nd, we celebrate…fuck, wait.

Okay. In 1951 this guy named Harold Stonebridge Fischer formed something he called the President’s Day National Committee. His plan was to create a holiday to celebrate ALL the presidents, not just one. He wanted the holiday to be celebrated on March 4, because that was the traditional date on which new presidents were inaugurated (not George Washington, of course, because he was the very first president and we were basically just faking everything back then, hoping it would all work out somehow). Fischer pimped that proposal for something like twenty years with absolutely no success whatsoever. But some Congressional folks liked the notion of fucking around with federal holidays, and in 1971 they passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act.

The Uniform Monday Holiday Act essentially said ‘Hey America, we don’t really care what day Washington was born on, or when World War One ended, or what day y’all have been celebrating Memorial Day, and does anybody even know why we’ve been doing Columbus Day on the 12th day of October, seriously? So we’re just moving those holidays to a Monday, so we can all have a long weekend. You can thank us later.’ Granted, some of those holidays have been re-shifted back to their original dates, because we’re still just basically faking it, hoping it will all work out somehow.

georgewashiong-sale-02-21-2013

Anyway, that is why we celebrate the first president — or some of the presidents — or all of the presidents — or some of the presidents and maybe some folks who weren’t president at all — on the third Monday of February. And that’s why all the mattress stores and shoe emporiums are slashing prices. At least that’s what we’re doing now. Who the hell knows what’s going to happen now that Comrade Trump has parked his ass in the Oval Office, and Republicans run both houses of Congress.

That business of faking it and hoping? It still applies. But hey, at least some folks get a three-day weekend. So there’s that.

the logan act (with optional pirate stuff)

Right, there goes Michael T. Flynn, out the back door of the Trump White House. Now that we’re finished applauding his resignation, folks are wondering about a couple of things. First, can he be prosecuted under the Logan Act? And second, should he be prosecuted.

There are, of course, problems. At least three problems. The first is the Logan Act is of questionable constitutionality. It’s never been really tested in court; nobody has ever been prosecuted for violating the Logan Act. Not even George Logan, after whom the law was named. The second problem is more political. The recently appointed Attorney General of These United States is Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, who is undoubtedly tickled pink that the Logan Act is of questionable constitutionality. It gives Sessions the perfect opportunity to practice looking severe without having to actually do anything. The third problem is this: just what the fuck IS the Logan Act, and what was it intended to do?

The Logan Act is a perfect example of how history, which can be singularly cool, has a reputation for being mind-numbingly dull. I mean, we’re talking revolutions and piracy on the high seas — and that’s some seriously exciting shit, right there. But reading the Logan Act — well, it’s not long enough to actually put you to sleep, but it’ll make your mind wander. Anyway, here’s the history.

Not actually a French ship attacking a US merchant, but c'mon -- it's pirate stuff.

Not actually a French ship attacking a U.S. merchant vessel, but c’mon — it’s pirate stuff.

We (and by ‘we’ I mean ‘These United States’) had us a revolution. I’m assuming you already know this. A few years later, France had its own revolution. France had been pretty helpful to our revolution and they quite understandably expected the new U.S. to give them a reach-around. We didn’t — at least not to their satisfaction. So France got pissy and authorized French ships to plunder American merchant ships. President John Adams sent some envoys to France to straighten out the mess. The French listened to their arguments, then politely told the envoys “S’il vous plaît, uriner une corde.” Or words to that effect. The envoys returned to the U.S., reported they’d failed miserably, then went to a bar and made rude remarks about the French (I’m not entirely sure about that last bit with the bar and rude remarks, but it’s what I would have done if the French had told me to go piss up a rope).

Enter Dr. George Logan, a Philadelphia Quaker. Logan decided he couldn’t screw things up any worse, so he sailed to France, chatted with Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord and the good folks of the French Directory — and hey, bingo, the French changed their minds and stopped the plundering. Yay, sounding of trumpets, release of doves, everybody wins, right?

Dr. George Logan, Quaker and Freelance Diplomat.

Dr. George Logan, Quaker and Freelance Diplomat.

Right. Except for the politicians back in the U.S. who weren’t happy with civilians conducting unauthorized negotiations with foreign governments. Which is perfectly understandable. I mean, George Logan might have done a fine job, but the next guy might get us in a war. So they passed the Logan Act to prevent that sort of thing from happening again.

It’s easy to see why nobody has been prosecuted under the Logan Act. Back in the late 1700s, civilians could get away with pulling shit like that. Today, that’s not going to happen. Ain’t no Quaker going to show up on Pakistan’s doorstep (even if Pakistan had a doorstep, which it doesn’t) and negotiate a nuclear arms deal. And if General Michael Flynn had been an ordinary citizen, nobody in the Russian embassy would have paid any attention to him when he discussed the sanctions imposed on Russia by President Obama.

But that’s exactly why the Logan Act could be used in this case — because General Michael Flynn was NOT an ordinary citizen. He was an advisor to the President-Elect. He was expected to become President Trump’s National Security Advisor. He had influence and power, and even though he had no authority from the sitting POTUS, he had presumptive authority from the President-Elect.

Assuming Flynn actually did discuss lifting Obama’s sanctions on Russia (and since the transcripts of Flynn’s calls haven’t been made public, we can’t know that for certain), then he was a nominal civilian with enough influence to effectively undermine an action taken by the President of These United States. That’s a big fucking deal, and it’s exactly the sort of thing the Logan Act should be used to deter.

It’s absolutely worth testing the constitutionality of the Logan Act in this case. But somehow, I doubt the pixie-eared Attorney General will do that.

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.

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.

families-wearing-pussy-hats

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.

strong-as-hell

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.

resist

Later today the United States will formally inaugurate as President a willfully ignorant, inexperienced blowhard — a man who is dangerously unprepared to occupy the Oval Office and temperamentally unfit to deal with international and domestic affairs. A man who was elected to that office through gerrymandered Congressional districts, aided by systematic voter suppression tactics, and with the assistance of a covert campaign of misinformation and propaganda employed by agents of a dictatorial foreign regime led by a former Soviet KGB officer.

We will witness the swearing-in of an arrogant, petty, mean-spirited, selfish and self-centered man — a vindictive narcissist who is entirely lacking in empathy and loyalty, a thin-skinned bully who attacks at any perceived insult and is accustomed to picking fights and letting his lawyers tidy up after him.

We will have as president a boor, a braggart, a crude vulgarian who mistakes ostentation for taste. Our nation will be led by an amoral sexist buffoon, a blatant and unrepentant liar who has no respect for the law or for science or for the truth, a man who is completely lacking in integrity, devoid of sincerity, and utterly without principle.

Starting today, we’re going to have a president from whom we have to protect ourselves. That fact is disheartening, it’s humiliating, it’s almost incomprehensible that it could happen.

But it did. Get used to it. Get used to resisting. Get used to having to call your members of Congress on a regular basis. Get used to marching and demonstrating. You have to get used to it — or just give up. Resistance or surrender. There really isn’t any other option.

writersresist

But here’s the good news: there are more of us than there are of them. And starting today and tomorrow, we’re going to let them see us.

Resist in any way you can. Resist in every way you can. Resist as writers, resist as photographers, resist as artists. Resist creatively. Just fucking resist every attempt to reduce us, to marginalize us, to limit us, to stop us.

Respect our existence

or expect our resistance.

probably didn’t happen, but still entirely believable

See, here’s the problem: all that unverified stuff reported about Comrade Trump could be true. Some of it is almost certainly bullshit. Maybe most of it. But even the most disturbing parts (and different folks will be disturbed by different stuff) are surprisingly believable.

Let’s take the most discussed (although maybe the least important) aspect of the (sorry, but I have to say it) leaked report. It’s claimed that Trump hired

…the presidential suite of the Ritz Carlton Hotel where he knew President and Mrs. Obama (whom he hated) had stayed on one their official trips to Russia, and defiling the bed where they had slept by employing a number of prostitutes to perform a ‘golden showers’ (urination) show in front of him.

Is that likely? No, it’s not likely at all. Trump may be an egocentric fucking idiot, but he’s not THAT much of an egocentric fucking idiot. Probably.

It’s that ‘probably‘ that’s the problem. Because damn it, an incident like that simply can’t be rejected out of hand. It may be improbable, but it’s not hard to imagine Trump pulling crazy shit like that. Let’s not forget, this guy has made his sexual proclivities part of his public persona. Kinky sex with prostitutes to defile a bed slept in by Obama two years earlier? C’mon, that’s not very believable. Kinky sex with prostitutes? Totally believable.

In fact it’s NOT hard at all to believe Russia has information of some sort about Trump that can compromise him. Sexual, financial, ethical — doesn’t matter. It’s NOT hard to believe Russia would use that information (assuming it exists) to force Trump to serve Russian interests over American interests. In fact, it could be said we saw indirect evidence of that last summer when the GOP was crafting its party platform. The original platform included language calling for the U.S. to “provide lethal defensive weapons to the Ukrainian government” following Russia’s invasion of Crimea and Russia’s ongoing support for the separatist insurrection. Trump’s people had that strong anti-Russia language removed. To my knowledge, that was the ONLY major change Trump requested in the GOP platform. How does one account for that? Are we to believe that out of ALL the material in the GOP platform, the only section Trump disagreed with had to do with the Ukraine?

Comrade Trump and his transition staff keep claiming this is all an attempt to undermine and de-legitimize his presidency. I suspect that’s probably accurate — but it’s only partially accurate. It’s more likely an attempt to undermine and de-legitimize ANY U.S. presidency. And hey, it’s worked.

putin-laughing

Vlad has to be laughing his KGB ass off.