i’m probably wrong, but…

Crime, boy, I don’t know.

I mean, c’mon. Here’s Comrade Trump, who I should remind you is the actual President of the United States, casually suggesting that a former president, Bill Clinton, was somehow responsible for having accused pedophile Jeffery Epstein murdered while he was in the custody of the United States Department of Justice. He doesn’t offer any evidence of that. He just tosses the accusation out there. Bill Clinton had Epstein killed. And he says it like it’s, you know, a bad thing.

And at the same time, here’s Comrade Trump brushing off actual evidence that Mohammad Bin Salman had Washington Post reporter Jamal Kashoggi tortured, murdered, and dismembered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, like it’s no big deal. So I’m just a tad confused here.

Murder, boy, I don’t know. You’d think if Donald Trump was okay with the murder of a respected, award-winning journalist who was a resident of the United States, then he’d probably be okay — maybe even moderately pleased — by the murder of a convicted pedophile rapist who lived part time on a private sex island. But apparently not. I just don’t know how to explain that.

I don’t want to cast aspersions or anything, but I’m beginning to wonder if Comrade Trump is being entirely consistent here. It sort of almost kinda sounds like he has a different murder standard for folks he likes. Maybe — and I’m probably entirely wrong here — but maybe he’d have been more positive about Epstein’s ‘suicide wink wink’ if he thought bin Salman (or his boy Kim Jong Un) had been behind it?

It’s beginning to sound like Trump is more interested in conspiracy theories involving his political enemies than in actual conspiracies involving his buddies. But naw, that can’t be right. Can it?

EDITORIAL NOTE: There’s a 99.95% chance that all the conspiracy theories about Epstein’s death are bullshit. Negligence and incompetence are a much more likely explanation. Though not as entertaining.

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he is who he is

Look, it’s part of the job. I know, it’s not listed as a duty in the Constitution, but when there’s a national tragedy, folks want — they expect — the president to acknowledge the tragedy with compassion. They want the president to recognize their suffering, their grief, and to share that suffering and grief to some extent. They want the president to understand what they’re experiencing.

All Comrade Trump had to do yesterday was show up and make the day about the victims and the families of the victims of the mass shootings. That’s it. He didn’t have to solve all their problems, he didn’t have to tell them everything was going to be okay, he didn’t have to promise to fix things immediately. He just had to listen, be gentle, show some respect, and actually care about what they were going through.

He couldn’t do it. As always, Trump had to make it all about himself. His grievances, the level of his support, his treatment by others, his popularity. I truly believe he can’t help it. It’s part of his personality disorder. He’s simply incapable of experiencing the world from any perspective other than his own. It would be sad — tragic, even — if he wasn’t such a hateful, malignant person.

No, that’s inaccurate; it IS sad and tragic. But I struggle to feel any compassion for him because he IS such a hateful, malignant person. It’s sad and tragic for him, but it’s really sad and tragic for the rest of us because we can’t divorce ourselves from the consequences of his personality disorder. He’s broken, and as president he’s breaking our nation.

So yesterday, instead of offering solace and comfort to the nation, Comrade Trump further inflamed passions. Instead of quietly grieving with those who are suffering, he turned the trip into what was essentially a campaign event. He mugged and smiled for the cameras, he attacked his detractors, he took selfies, he lashed out at his perceived enemies, he bragged about his popularity and how much respect he was shown, and he pouted when others failed to recognize how popular and respected he was.

I don’t think anybody actually expected Trump would accept any responsibility for fueling the hatred that revealed itself in El Paso. I don’t think anybody expected him to apologize for that, or offer to change his vitriolic tone. Nobody expected him to be suddenly Not Trump. But we hoped (some of us hoped) he’d act like a decent human being. All he had to do was say “I’m sorry for your loss, I’m sorry for your troubles, I’m so very sorry this happened to you and to your community and to our nation.” That’s all he had to do; that and stay quiet. It wouldn’t have been easy, especially knowing that a lot of folks feel he IS responsible for the hatred that manifested itself in the shootings. It wouldn’t be easy, but he’s the president. It’s not an easy job.

In the end, he couldn’t do it. He simply couldn’t meet the very minimum requirements of the job. He couldn’t put aside his own insecurities, his own resentments, his own relentless spite. Not even for the few hours he spent in public. He couldn’t do it. He doesn’t have it in himself to be decent.

He is who he is.

ADDENDUM (8-9-19) — A photo of Comrade and Mrs. Trump, who is holding a baby whose parents were killed by the Walmart gunman, was released on the FLOTUS Twitter account yesterday. It seems none of the victims still in the hospital in El Paso were willing to meet with Trump during his visit. The baby, who’d been released from the hospital, was brought back just for this photograph.

He is who he is.

ADDENDUM 2 — Also, while Comrade Trump was visiting Dayton and El Paso, ICE agents were raiding a few Mississippi chicken processing plants, detaining undocumented immigrant workers (not, coincidentally, the plant owners who hired them). It was the first day of school in Mississippi, which meant a lot of kids went to school and came home to empty houses, not knowing what happened to their parents, not knowing when/if their parents might return, not knowing where they’d get fed or sleep or…or anything. The cruelty and casual disregard for the welfare of those children is as appalling as Trump’s campaign tour of shooting victims.

still the guns

In December of 2012, I said it was the guns. It’s still the guns. All the guns. The easy availability of guns. It’s the goddamned guns.

Do hate and bigotry and prejudice play a part? Sure. It doesn’t help that we have a president who feeds into the hate and bigotry and prejudice. Inadequate mental health care? Yeah, sure, that’s part of it. The entire for-profit health care system in the US is fucked up, and the mental health system is more fucked up than the rest. Economic tension, free-floating anxiety, inchoate rage, fear of change? Sure, all that figures into it.

But basically, it’s the guns. It’s obviously the guns. Other nations have all the social problems that trouble the United States, but they suffer only a small fraction of the mass killings. Because it’s the guns. Guns make all the difference. Guns and high capacity magazines. They make killing easier, they make body counts higher. THIS IS WHAT GUNS ARE SPECIFICALLY DESIGNED TO DO: KILL THINGS.

Who would this guy in Dayton be without his AR15? Who would Patrick Crusius be without access to an AK-47? He’d be just another angry young white guy with a dodgy understanding of history and the influence of social forces. Just another inadequate person man who wanted so very desperately to believe he had an important part to play in some imaginary racist redemptive narrative.

Who would Stephen Paddock be? Who would Devin Kelley or James Holmes be? Adam Lanza, Nikolas Cruz, Omar Mateen, Robert Bowers — who would these guys be without easy access to guns and high capacity magazines? Without the guns, they’d be…insignificant. These guys think the guns might make them matter.

Sadly, they’re right. It’s the guns.

You want to tell me guns don’t kill people — people kill people? Fuck you. Jumping off buildings doesn’t kill people — deceleration trauma kills people. You want to tell me the majority of gun owners are law-abiding citizens and shouldn’t be punished because some asshole misuses a firearm? Fuck you in the neck, life doesn’t work that way. I’m not going to cook meth, but I still can’t buy Sudafed without a huge amount of fuss because some asshole misuses it. You want to tell me you can also kill people with a knife or a baseball bat? Fuck you, you half-witted ballbag. That’s so damned stupid it doesn’t deserve a response. You want to tell me the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun? Fuck you, fuck your whole family, fuck everybody you know. Texas is jammed with ‘good guys with a gun.’ But Crusius was still able to waltz through the aisles of Walmart shooting folks IN TEXAS, walk out unmolested, get in his car, and start to drive away before police officers stopped him. And this asshole in Dayton managed to kill nine and wound a couple dozen more in about 2-3 minutes before he was shot.

I’m going to say it again. It’s the guns. The guns and high capacity magazines and lax gun laws. Patrick Crusius and the Dayton shooter (who hasn’t been publicly identified yet) were both law-abiding citizens until they opened fire. It’s legal in both Ohio and Texas to openly carry long guns. Seriously, you can walk down the street in Dayton or El Paso with an AK or an AR slung over your shoulder, wearing camouflage and tactical gloves, with a pouch containing a few high capacity magazines and it’s absolutely legal (although it wouldn’t be wise to do that if you’re not white).

This morning in Dayton.

I’m going to say it one more time. It’s the guns. Guns, high capacity magazines, and lax firearm laws. You get yourself a semi-automatic rifle and a few 30-round magazines, and you can rack up a high body count in a very short time. Doesn’t even have to be an assault-style rifle, though the military design of those weapons makes them more attractive to would-be mass killers. Any semi-auto rifle would do the job, so long as you’ve stocked up on hi-cap magazines. Gear up, take a walk, and until you open fire, you’re probably acting within the law.

Basically, it’s the guns. It’s the easy access to guns. It’s always been the guns. It’ll be the guns again tomorrow. It’s the goddamned guns.

ain’t nothing fake about that

A few days ago, during an informal press gaggle held just before Comrade Trump flew off to whatever rally or golf course he had on his schedule, a reporter asked him about the renewed press for impeachment. This is Trump’s response:

“You know, it’s interesting — nobody has even mentioned this question to me in so long. Until last night at the very end, it wasn’t even mentioned in the debates. People aren’t even thinking — it’s a hoax. I don’t know if you know that. You know it’s a hoax, right? So, nobody has mentioned it to me. One thing I will say that you haven’t covered: Two days ago, a highly respected judge in the Southern District of New York, in Manhattan, came out with a decision on the whole Russia hoax, and he said exactly that: it’s a hoax. You ought to read the decision. This is a decision by a judge who is highly respected — who was appointed by Bill Clinton when he was President — and he came out and he said, “It’s a hoax.” And that’s exactly what it is. This was a case brought by the Democrats against me, and nobody wants to talk about it. You know why? Because it’s fake news.”

I know this isn’t going to surprise you, but that’s not exactly what the judge said. In fact, it’s not even remotely close to what the judge said.

Here’s what happened. The Democratic National Committee sued the Russian Federation for hacking into its servers. As a result of that hack — and the Trump campaign’s cooperation in disseminating the illegally obtained information — the DNC suffered significant damages, including a “dramatic drop” in donations and a million dollars to repair and fix the cybersecurity issues. DNC staff members also suffered online harassment and death threats as a result of the leaks. The suit also included a number of defendants who were members of the Trump campaign who’d actively aided the Russian Federation in distributing the stolen material.

Judge John G. Koeltl ruled that the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act prevented the DNC from suing the Russian Federation for damages in U.S. courts, even if Russia had acted illegally and damages were suffered. The judge also ruled that since the “second level participants” (the Trump campaign) didn’t aid in the actual hacking, they weren’t liable for that act. And finally, the judge ruled the Trump campaign’s distribution of the illegally obtained information was protected by the First Amendment “in the same way it would preclude liability for press outlets that publish materials of public interest despite defects in the way the materials were obtained so long as the disseminator did not participate in any wrongdoing in obtaining the materials in the first place.”

(Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian)

So no, the judge didn’t say Russian interference was a hoax. What he said was that Russia had committed a crime, that the Trump campaign benefited from that crime knowing it was a crime, but was protected by the First Amendment when they disseminated information obtained by that crime.

“You ought to read the decision,” Comrade Trump said. As if he’d actually read it. If he had read the decision, it’s possible — oh hell, it’s probable — he didn’t understand it. I mean, the guy is a fucking idjit; the complexities of the law are as meaningless to him as the physics of Frisbee flight are to a dog. The dog can catch the Frisbee without doing the math, and Trump can understand the suit was dismissed without understanding why. But it’s a mistake to assume the dog or Trump has any sort of grasp on the underlying mechanics that spark their behavior.

In addition to being a fucking idjit, Trump is also a fucking liar. Even if he had read the decision and understood it, he’d almost certainly would have lied about it. Because that’s what he does.

The news media knows all this. Yet because of tradition and the institutional inability to adapt, the news media will continue to ask questions of Comrade Trump, knowing his answers are essentially meaningless in terms of reality. And the news media will continue to repeat those answers as if they have meaning, when the shared reality of all legitimate news agencies is this: Trump is a fucking idjit and a fucking liar.

Ain’t nothing fake about that.

NOTE: By the way, there hasn’t been an official White House press briefing since March 11, when former Press Secretary Sarah Sanders gave an eleven minute briefing. That’s 145 days, nearly five months, without a press briefing. The current Press Secretary, Stephanie Grisham, hasn’t held any press briefings at all. Her salary is around US$180,000. Assuming she actually exists.

elections have consequences, sort of

Ordinary Dude: Why aren’t we impeaching Comrade Trump?
Moderate Democratic Member of Congress: I don’t think we have quite enough information to begin impeachment proceedings.
OD: Is there credible evidence that he obstructed an investigation into possible wrongdoing by him and his staff?
MDMoC: Well, yes, but…
OD: Is there credible evidence that he lies every day to the American people? That he lies so consistently and shamelessly that nobody can trust or rely on anything he says?
MDMoC: Well, yes, but…
OD: Is there credible evidence that he was elected with the aid of a hostile foreign power? That he welcomed that aid in 2016 and might do so again in 2020?
MDMoC: Well, yes, but…
OD: Is there credible evidence that he’s abusing his office to increase his personal wealth?
MDMoC: Well, yes, but…
OD: Is there credible evidence that Comrade Trump has cozied up to Mohammed bin Salman, who had a critic tortured, murdered and dismembered? And that he’s repeatedly bypassed Congress in order to sell weapons to him?
MDMoC: Well, yes, but…
OD: And that’s he’s playing footsie with other leaders of hostile nations, while insulting and demeaning the leaders of friendly nations?
MDMoC: Well, yes, but…
OD: Is there credible evidence that he’s abused the office of the president to settle personal grievances?
MDMoC: Well, yes, but…
OD: Is there credible evidence that he’s used his office to consistently undermine federal law enforcement agencies and the US intelligence community?
MDMoC: Well, yes, but…
OD: And doesn’t that make the US less safe?
MDMoC: Well, yes, but…
OD: Is there credible evidence that Trump violated campaign finance laws by paying hush money to women with whom he’s had affairs while married to his third wife?
MDMoC: Well, yes, but…
OD: What about neo-Nazis and white supremicists? Is there credible evidence that he’s encouraged these groups, either openly or through example?
MDMoC: Well, yes, but…
OD: Is there credible evidence that he’s attacked the freedom of the press and called the news media ‘the enemy of the people’?
MDMoC: Well, yes, but…
OD: Is there credible evidence that he’s created policies that separate children from their asylum-seeking parents? That he’s housed both the children and their parents in appalling circumstances? That he failed to insure there’s a method for re-uniting those children with their parents? Is there credible evidence that some of those children will likely never see their parents again?
MDMoC: Well, yes, but…
OD: Is there credible evidence that the Trump administration is the most corrupt, most inept, most conflicted, most incompetent administration ever?
MDMoC: Well, yes, but…
OD: Is there credible evidence that Trump is a racist?
MDMoC: Well, yes, but…

Democrats fleeing the swarm of Republican accusations of partisanship.

OD: Don’t all these facts taken together amount to the biggest betrayal of the United States by a president in our history? And isn’t that betrayal still taking place?
MDMoC: Well, yes, but…
OD: So why aren’t we impeaching the motherfucker already?
MDMoC: Because we’re not sure impeachment is a politically wise position to take.
OD:
MDMoC: If we try to impeach, Republicans will accuse us of being partisan.
OD:
MDMoC: And even if we do impeach him, the Senate probably wouldn’t vote to convict.
OD: Jesus suffering fuck.
MDMoC: Hey, don’t blame us. You elected us, after all.

my plan to deal with dog ass republicans

I have a plan. Well, not a ‘plan’ plan, since I’m in no position to implement it. It’s more of a suggestion for a plan. Would you like to hear it? If not, then stop reading, on account of I intend to reveal my suggestion for a plan in the next paragraph.

Ready? Okay. Here it is: impeach the motherfucker already.

I know, it’s not original. And I know, you’re going to say “Greg, old sock, even if the House impeaches the motherfucker already, the dog ass Republicans in the Senate will never convict the motherfucker, so what’s the point?”

I’m glad you asked. First, stop calling me ‘old sock’. Second, the fact that the dog ass Republicans in the Senate will never vote to convict the motherfucker is actually part of the plan. Or the suggestion for the plan.

My plan suggestion for a plan, in slightly more detail, is as follows: announce right up front that we know the dog ass Republicans in the Senate are already in the bag (by ‘in the bag’ I mean ‘so devoid of patriotism and so unconcerned about democracy and governance that they’ll do whatever Comrade Trump wants’) but that it’s SO GODDAMNED IMPORTANT to publicly hold Trump accountable for his many crimes that we’re going to impeach the motherfucker already anyway. Announce right up front that we fully expect the dog ass Republicans to continue to support Trump’s criminality and enable him to fuck up representative democracy, but we still hold some truths to be self-evident, and among those truths is that the United States should NOT be run by a cruel, ignorant, narcissistic bully who is completely lacking in morals and lies as frequently — and with as much forethought — as he blinks.

If we announce right up front that we’re doing what we believe is the right thing to do even though we fully expect it to fail — not because the effort isn’t worthwhile, but because we know the game is rigged — then we have absolutely nothing to lose. And if/when the dog ass Republicans refuse to convict Trump, we can say “This is why we call them dog ass Republicans.”

So, that’s my plan. My suggestion for a plan. Whatever. What do you think? Cool, huh?

why i’m done with bernie

A friend recently asked me why I dislike Bernie Sanders now. I said I didn’t dislike him; I just wish he hadn’t decided to run for POTUS again. I supported Bernie for most of his 2016 campaign, so of course I like Bernie. I mean, the guy has devoted his entire life to social justice. Plus he’s managed to demystify democratic socialism to a LOT of Americans. Also plus, he doesn’t smile of laugh a lot — but when he does, it’s a very genuine smile or laugh. How can you NOT like him?

But then I thought about it…and I realized that yeah, I kinda do dislike him now. Which is sad and disappointing because I really like Bernie Sanders a lot.

The problem isn’t Bernie himself. The problem is there’s a small but very loud segment of his base — folks I think of as OBAs. Only Bernie Assholes. As in ‘Only Bernie can save us!’ As in ‘Only Bernie has the right ideas!’ As in ‘Only Bernie, and if Not Bernie then America deserves Trump!’ As in ‘Only Bernie or let the whole world burn!’

I respect their passion (no, I really do), but I have no tolerance for that sort of political purity. Political purity is just a nice way of saying ‘extremism’. OBAs are extremists who won’t accept a nuanced opinion about Bernie. They think you must either be totally and completely FOR him and everything he says or else you’re absolutely AGAINST him. If your support isn’t pure, undiluted, and unqualified, then you’re compromised in some fundamental way. They see the notion of ‘Vote Blue No Matter Who’ as a betrayal of All Things Bernie.

That’s annoying, but everybody has the right to vote the way thay want. The thing that really cements the ‘asshole’ in OBA is that so many OBAs are as conspiracy-minded as the Q-Anon folks. They seem to be truly convinced that if Bernie isn’t winning, it can only be because shadowy corporate forces (usually in the form of the DNC) are actively conspiring and working against him. Other Democratic candidates are frauds who are stealing Bernie’s ideas only in order to get elected, at which point they’ll revert back to corporate whores. They are totally convinced Bernie was cheated out of the nomination in 2016 by the Democratic National Committee, and are equally convinced the DNC is doing it again in 2020.

(Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)

At the beginning of this campaign season I joined a pro-Bernie Facebook group (I also joined a pro-Cory Booker and a pro-Mayor Pete group because I wanted a better sense of who they were). The pro-Bernie group initially seemed pretty reasonable and I felt better about Bernie joining the race. Then it slowly became dominated by OBAs, who either drove less pure Bernie supporters out of the group or effectively silenced them. Here are some of the posts and comments that appeared in that group over the last day or so:

— Anyone who was in the trenches from the beginning knows this. It didn’t take Russians to talk us out of voting for Hillary. It took looking into her record. Her scandal. The theft of the 2016 primaries. her online army of trolls. Shutting down Bernie Sanders Web pages with child porn.

— If the dnc rigs the election against sanders and gave us Harris or Biden, then I’m going full Bernie or bust. If we don’t have standards, then the corporate dems are just going to shaft us.

— When the establishment prop up Warren, it’s only to try to hurt Bernie. They are focused on trying to take him out in any way they can because he is an existential threat to their excessive amounts of wealth and corporate bribes.

— If the democratic party really wanted to beat trump they would pick Sanders if that truly was their main concern. It is not. They would rather lose to trump then have a Bernie presidency and that is a fact not some outlandish conspiracy.

—  I used to like [Meryl Streep], and watched most of her movies. But she is a hypocrite, a big supporter of HRC among other Hollywood elites and out of touch. She has blindly supported HRC who is also as corrupt as Trump. Because of this reason, I do not watch the  Oscars any more.

— Biden sucks. Everyone knows it. Even the DNC. That’s why they are now artificially inflating Warren. Not cause they like/want her. But they’d rather have her, than Bernie. And it’s becoming clear to everyone.

— I voted for Bernie in the primary I voted for trump in the general reason I never trusted Clinton I am back behind Bernie now like him he is the original deal a true socialist the one that will enact everything he is saying BERNIE 2020

— I wonder why Obama is mute about Bernie but openly support HRC in 2016??

— Bernie or GTFO!

— [T]he 1% run the D.N.C. They want to run another “Hillary” candidate that no one likes to make it look like a real win for Trump again.

— Polls are same as gerrymandering, or even worse totally biased!

— Bernie in did win CA in 2016, his hundreds boxes of ballots were not counted. On the day of HRC declared her so-called landslide won in CA. The Staffs posted hundreds of unopened box of his ballots.

Okay, that doesn’t quite approach the lunacy of the Q-anon theory that 1) JFK Jr. is alive and 2) is actually Q, and 3) is working secretly with Trump and Mueller to build a case against Obama and Hillary. But still.

Let me just say that the OBA’s dislike of the Democratic National Committee has some basis in reality. Some members of the DNC openly disliked Bernie — although, to be fair, Bernie had spent years denouncing the DNC. But the DNC didn’t ‘steal’ the nomination from Bernie. He lost it. He lost it in part because his followers didn’t bother to learn how the primary and caucus systems worked. A lot of Bernie supporters who hadn’t registered as Democrats turned up at closed Democratic primary sites expecting to vote and were turned away. Instead of acknowledging their error, they claimed they’d been disenfranchised — that they were refused because they were Bernie supporters. Which is nonsense.

Bernie wasn’t cheated out of the nomination; he just lost. I say that as a person who caucused for him. He just flat out lost. There’s no shame in that. There’s no need to concoct conspiracy theories to explain his loss.

I really like Bernie Sanders. I won’t support him in the primaries, but I’d happily vote for him if he’s the eventual candidate. Because I believe ‘Vote Blue No Matter Who’ is a valid strategy to rid ourselves of the Trump administration. In my opinion, Bernie has always been more of an inspirational leader than a policy wonk, but that’s okay. One of the most important jobs of POTUS is to inspire the populace to be better citizens. Bernie would be good at that.

I like Bernie. I really do. But I don’t think he can win the nomination. And I cannot abide OBAs. And that’s why I’m done with him.