asshole alert at the farmers’ market

It’s really really really hard to pick the worst thing about Trumpism, but certainly one of the top five worst things is Entitled Aggressive Assholism.

Yesterday morning at the farmers’ market…wait. First, let me say that one of the many things I love about both my small local farmers’ market and the larger Des Moines Downtown Farmers’ Market is that they bring so many different communities together. There are Amish farmers selling rye bread next to some Salvadoran immigrants selling pupusas and some second generation Laotian-Americans selling sien savanh. There’s a young Black man with orange hair playing an acoustic guitar and singing old Beatles songs and just down the street is an old white guy with a ridiculously small electric organ playing Muzak versions of Bob Marley tunes. There are young couples with kids, old folks with walkers, dozens of breeds of dogs (and by the way, I’m always worried about the small dogs; I’m afraid they’re going to get stepped on in the crowds), gay couples holding hands, teens wearing Future Farmers of America t-shirts, cyclists in their helmets and spandex, suburban goth eye-shadow junkie kids, folks handing out flyers letting us know Jesus forgives us or that pollinators are at risk because of chemicals or reminding us that one of the voice actors from Pokemon will be signing autographs at the event center where the comic-con is taking place.

What I’m saying is that the farmers market is all about different folks coming together and getting along. And then there’s the guy wearing a t-shirt that says Transgenderism is a Mental Disorder. My phone was in my pocket, so I didn’t have time to get a photograph of him. But he was a classic Entitled Aggressive Asshole, a prime example of asshole culture.

The ONLY reason to wear a t-shirt like that in public is to provoke a reaction. This asshole deliberately set out to offend others, knowing he was unlikely to be seriously challenged about it. Unlikely to be challenged because those of us who are offended also believe in the right to free speech, and the right to believe in things others find objectionable, and the right to move around freely in public without somebody knocking you flat on your ass for being a colossal dick.

One of the worst things Trump released on the world is the fierce joy bullies and cowards find in the freedom to punch down without consequence. Right now, trans folks and drag artists have become primary targets of that twisted joy. I see articles complaining that Link (from the Legend of Zelda games) is trans-friendly, I see drag shows under attack by asshole politicians, I see concentrated efforts to prevent trans kids from getting the medical care they need. A year or two ago, none of this was much of an issue. Trans-hate has been largely manufactured for political purposes (and, of course, as another conservative grift).

My guess (and I have no actual evidence of this) is that a year ago, that asshole at the farmers’ market probably didn’t give a moment of thought to trans folks. But now that they’ve become a popular MAGA-target, he 1) found a vendor who was happy to make and sell the objectionable t-shirt, 2) spent his money to buy one so that he could 3) wear it in public in a place that encourages diversity in order to 4) offend the fuck out of people who are 5) too decent to knock him on his ass.

To be clear, I’m NOT an advocate of knocking people on their ass simply because they’re assholes (even if they deserve it–although I’d consider buying a t-shirt that says Vertical assholes deserve to be horizontal). And I’m not suggesting folks accept that asshole’s challenge and confront him in public. I mean, these assholes LIKE pretending they’re victims.

What I am saying is that it’s no longer enough for us to be silent allies. I suspect most of the folks who’ll read this have taken a relatively laissez faire approach to trans folks. Trans folks exist, not a big deal, end of story. But the movement to prevent trans folks from existing, that IS a big deal. Trans folks can’t afford for us to maintain a laissez faire approach. We need to stand up, speak up, and keep it up. We can do that without being assholes ourselves.

EDITORIAL NOTE: We really need to burn the patriarchy. Burn it from stalk to stem, then gather the ashes, grind them into dust, dig a hole and chuck in the dust, piss on the dust, cover the hole, and salt the earth over the hole. Then have tea and some nice cookies.

please tell me this doesn’t say what i think it says

Two semi-related things. First, I have a new bike (about which I will almost certainly write, because that’s the sort of thing I do), but I’ve also been uncharacteristically busy, so unable to ride it as much I’d like. I’ve done a few short jaunts around the area, but that’s it.

Second, over the last couple of years, I’ve developed a habit of stopping when I see bike path graffiti. Sometimes the graffito is chalk art, sometimes it’s bits of philosophy, sometimes it’s a sort of editorial opinion. Regardless of what it is, the notion that somebody has deliberately made their way down a bike path and stopped to express themselves pleases me. I keep telling myself I should start photographing all those graffiti; it might make an interesting project.

So last Thursday, when I took a short ride, and saw some bike path graffiti, I did just that. Stopped, read it, photographed it, then went on my way. I didn’t pay a lot of attention to the graffito itself since a) my mind was largely occupied by what I’d been working on before I went for a ride and b) a word in the graffito had been smudged out.

This greenspace is located between a commercial area and some townhomes.

It wasn’t until later, when I actually looked at the photo, that I tried to figure out what the smudged word was…and why it had been smudged out.

The [blank] never happened… but it should have!!!

Google Lens has an image-to-text application, so I tried that first. It suggested The halogen never happened, which didn’t make a lick of sense.

I tried to think of things that should have happened but didn’t. Because a lot of bike path graffiti deals with either matters of the heart (you know, stuff like Chad hearts Becky) or inspirational comments (like ‘Life is Good’), I initially focused on words that would make the phrase sweet or celebratory. The first smudged letter seems to be a ‘b’ or an ‘h’. Boyfriend…no. Backstory…no. Bahamas…maybe? The Bahamas never happened, but it should have. Possible.

Then I just tried to find words that would fit. Hangover…possibly, if the writer was into self-punishment. Harlequin…unlikely. Horseplay…don’t think so. Hologram…probably not. Holo…oh, fuck.

I’m hoping this isn’t as ugly and hateful as I think it might be.

Holocaust? The last smudged letters COULD be and ‘s’ and a ‘t’. And Iowa has increasingly become a Red-MAGA state. Our governor and legislature have been actively encouraging and passing more hateful, authoritarian policies. So this sort of irrational hate is very possible. It doesn’t matter that Jews make up less than 1% of Iowa’s population; antisemitism is never based on reality.

As much as I hate to say it…or even think it…holocaust seems to fit.

In the first photograph, you can see there’s another graffito just a few feet away. One word, maybe one short line. I didn’t even stop to look at it. Again, my mind was largely elsewhere when I stopped. But tomorrow, weather permitting, I’ll get back on the bike and ride this path again to see what it says. Maybe it’ll add some clarity.

I’m really hoping somebody can decipher that smudged word in a more positive way. But even if there IS a better interpretation, I’m disheartened by the fact that my worst-case rendering seems so very possible.

EDITORIAL NOTE: We must burn the patriarchy. Burn it to the ground, gather the ashes, piss on them, douse them in oil and set them on fire again. Burn the patriarchy, then drive a stake directly through the ashes where its heart used to be, and then set fire to the stake. Burn the fucker one more time. And keep burning it, over and over. Burn it for generations. Then nuke it from orbit. Then have tea.

Also? Include antisemitism.

ADDENDUM: I went back yesterday to look at the other graffito. It’s also been smudged, which leads me to assume it was equally ugly. I can’t make out the word, though it seems to start with ‘JE’. Here it is:


I didn’t watch the Trump Show on CNN last night. The notion that any serious news channel would give Comrade Trump a national platform to speak was ridiculous and offensive. I understand CNN’s desire to draw viewers; viewers draw advertising and advertising pays the bills. I get it. But to sacrifice journalistic integrity in order to…wait. Who am I kidding? Journalistic integrity? CNN started sacrificing that when it saw Fox News making serious coin by openly prostituting itself.

So no, I didn’t watch CNN last night. That said, I will admit to being curious about it, especially when I learned Kaitlan Collins would be given the job. She always seemed like a solid reporter. I mean, nobody would be able to stop Trump from his firehose lying, but maybe Collins would find some journalistic equivalent of a whip and a chair, and keep Trump partially at bay. It seemed unlikely, but not entirely out of the realm of possibility.

Reader, I was wrong.

This morning I’ve watched a few clips of that horrorshow. And Jesus suffering fuck, it was like that scene in Aliens when the xenomorphs are shredding the Colonial Marines. Kaitlan Collins tried her best, but she was overrun. Not just by Trump’s lies, but by the audience as well.

Since it was a supposed ‘town hall’ affair, I assumed there’d be a live audience. It never occurred to me that CNN — or any actual news organization — could be so massively stupid as to gather an audience “[c]omprised of Republicans and otherwise undeclared voters planning to participate in the 2024 GOP primary.” In other words, they invited a Trump-friendly crowd.

Let me just say that again. CNN voluntarily and knowingly held a ‘town hall’ meeting in New Hampshire, the most conservative state in New England (I mean, their goddamn motto is “Live free or die”), hosting the only twice-impeached POTUS in history — a man who fomented an actual insurrection in an attempt to illegally remain in office — the day after he’d been found liable for sexual assault, and then invited an audience of his followers to attend.

That is deeply stupid. That is stupid all the way down at the cellular level. CNN basically asked Kaitlan Collins to interview a great white shark in a pool of sharks and then spooned in chum. They fucking ate her alive.

At one point, Trump turned to Collins and called her a “nasty person.” And the audience laughed. Laughed and applauded. All I could think about was Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who testified under oath about being sexually assaulted by Trump’s SCOTUS nominee, Brett Kavanaugh. When asked why she was so confident about her memory of the assault, Ford said:

“Indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter. The uproarious laughter between the two, and their having fun at my expense.”

Emotional trauma is literally encoded on memory. The levels of norepinephrine and epinephrine in the brain sparked by the trauma sort of tattoo that experience onto the hippocampus — the part of the limbic system that consolidates information from short-term memory to long-term memory. Beyond the physical trauma of the assault, it was the casual, unthinking cruelty of the laughter that seared itself on Dr. Ford’s memory.

Cruel laughter. Trump called a respected television journalist a “nasty person” and his supporters cheered and laughed. It was exactly what they wanted. It’s what CNN gave them.

I was not surprised by Trump’s behavior last night; that’s who he is (and CNN had to know that). I’m shocked, but not surprised by the behavior of the audience; that’s who Trump supporters are (and CNN had to know that). But I am surprised and outraged that CNN, knowing who they were dealing with, deliberately brought those two explosive elements together and allowed them to detonate on a nation audience.

Fuck CNN in the neck.


The truth matters.” That’s from Justin Nelson, one of the attorneys representing Dominion Voting Systems. “Lies have consequences,” Nelson said. “Today represents a ringing endorsement for truth and for democracy,” according to that same Nelson.

Yeah, that’s mostly bullshit.

Dominion lawyers, cheerfully pocketing cash while democracy dies.

Yes, the truth matters. Can’t find any reason to disagree with that. And yes, lies have consequences. But Dominion’s agreement to settle the case just reinforces the ugly truth that if you can afford the consequence, you get to keep right on lying. That’s the truth that matters.

A ringing endorsement for truth and democracy? Nope. A ringing endorsement for taking the cash and running. A ringing endorsement for selling out democracy. A ringing endorsement for the belief that heavy pockets are more important than representative democracy. A ringing endorsement for the very worst aspects of capitalism.

The ONLY thing that actually happened yesterday was shifting a fuck-ton of money from one corporation to another. That’s it. Fox News may have to fork over a massive amount of cash to Dominion, but they still get to stay in the business of lying and undermining democracy. Dominion gets a big payday. The American people get…well, Fox News.

It’s true that the lawyers for Dominion Voting Systems represented the interests of DVS and not the interest of representative democracy. They had absolutely no legal or ethical obligation to defend the US against growing fascism and the normalization of lying. I wouldn’t be so bitter about this decision if they’d just be honest about it. Admit they settled for a gigantic wad of cash; don’t try to pass this settlement off as an endorsement of democracy. Because that’s as big a lie as any told by Fox News.

This is how democracy dies. Not in darkness, but right out in broad fucking daylight while corporations smile and shake each other’s hand.

fox news bullshit

I’m something of a news junkie. Every morning, first thing, I read the news (well, among the first things–I mean, there’s coffee to be made and all that). I want to know what’s happening in the world. And that brings me to Filipino journalist Maria Ressa, who said this:

“If you don’t have facts, you can’t have truth. If you don’t have truth, you can’t have trust. Without these three, we have no shared reality. We can’t solve any problems. We have no democracy.”

This is pretty basic stuff. A society ought to be able to trust news journalists to present reliable facts. Beyond that, we ought to be able to trust news commentators to present opinions they actually hold. We should be able to assume that any person employed to present facts or opinions are NOT LYING.

And that brings me to this: tomorrow is the first day of the trial in the defamation lawsuit brought against Fox News by Dominion Voting Systems. Dominion is suing Fox News for allowing its commentators to tell lies about them. This is a big deal.

Look, we all know Fox News is bullshit. We all know the evening commentators act as the propaganda arm of the Republican Party. We all know Fox News ‘personalities’ like Maria Bartiromo, Tucker Carlson, Lou Dobbs, Jeanine Piro, and Sean Hannity aren’t journalists; Fox lawyers have admitted as much in court. But this case isn’t really about journalism. It’s about defamation.

Defamation is false information that harms the reputation of a person, business, or organization. Fox News commentators spent a big chunk of time after the 2020 election claiming that Dominion Voting Systems 1) was deeply involved in election fraud, 2) had developed an algorithm that somehow rigged vote counts, 3) was owned by a company founded in Venezuela to rig elections (for socialist dictator Hugo Chávez–seriously, I’m NOT making that up), and also 4) paid kickbacks to government officials.

Guess what? That was all bullshit. Also guess what? The people spreading that bullshit KNEW it was bullshit when they spread it. The judge in the case, Eric M. Davis, in pre-trial hearings, has already stated that those claims were all total bullshit (although, to be fair, he didn’t actually use the term ‘bullshit’). He wrote that it was “crystal clear that none of the statements relating to Dominion about the 2020 election are true.”

But wait, there’s more. Because it’s all bullshit, Judge Davis has also ruled that Fox News can’t argue their ‘contributors’ were simply covering the news (because bullshit ain’t legit news). He further ruled that Fox can’t argue the bullshit could be considered the First Amendment-protected opinions, because there’s plenty of pre-trial evidence demonstrating the hosts KNEW it was bullshit and they didn’t believe it themselves.

So cased closed, right? Fox News loses, right? Dominion wins, right?

Well, yes and no. The jury will have to listen to all the dreary facts; they’ll have to listen to the Fox News commentators testify under oath that they knew they were lying to their viewers (and reader, that testimony is going to be as sweet as Tupelo honey). And THEN the real meat of the case will be presented.

Just to be clear, let me say this again: there’s NO QUESTION that the Fox News commentators were lying sacks of shit. That’s not even at issue. What’s at issue is this: Damages. The jury has to decide if Fox News, by lying and spreading bullshit about Dominion Voting Systems, caused severe damage to the company’s reputation. IF they find Dominion was damaged, then the jury has to decide whether the damage was the result of actual malice.

Actual malice is a legal term of art. Back in 1964, in the case of New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, SCOTUS defined actual malice as a statement made “with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not.” That matters because this is where it all comes down to money.

There are two types of civil damages: compensatory and punitive. Compensatory damages are intended to help the victim; punitive damages, obviously, are intended to punish the offender.

Assuming the jury finds Fox News liable (which ought to be a safe assumption, but you never know when a jury is involved), they’ll first have to decide how much Fox should pay Dominion to compensate for the damage to their business. Then they’ll have to decide if Fox News should be punished financially for deliberately spreading bullshit to the public, and if so, how much.

And that brings us back once again to Maria Ressa. Because Fox News wasn’t just harming Dominion Voting Systems; they were–and still are–harming representative democracy. They’re harming this entire nation. If you don’t have facts, you can’t have truth. If you don’t have truth, you can’t have trust. If you lack trust and truth and facts, you can’t solve society’s problems and you can’t have representative democracy. If you allow a major media platform to deliberately and knowingly spread lies and bullshit to a wide audience, you shred the fabric of society.

And that’s really hard to mend. Compensation for the damage done isn’t enough; punishment is necessary.

not concerned

I actually have appointments and things scheduled today, which is a rarity. But I wanted to say one thing about Comrade Trump’s indictment(s). No, that’s not true; there are a LOT of things I want to say about it, but I’m going to restrain myself because of all that appointment stuff. This is what I want to say:

I’m not concerned that the indictment(s) will spark violence.

I say that for a couple of reasons. First, this is happening in Manhattan. Trump is not generally popular in New York City. There will likely be angry people who show up in front of Trump Tower or at the DA’s office and raise a fuss, but it’s highly unlikely there’ll be any sort of serious violent confrontation. This isn’t like DC on January 6th. Even if MAGA fuckwits wanted to pull something on that order, the urban geography isn’t in their favor. It’s easier for police to kettle protesters in city streets. And the logistics of a large scale protest are a lot more daunting; MAGA fuckwits would have to arrange travel to NYC, and find a place to stay (hotels in NYC aren’t cheap), and figure out the subway system, and they’d have to do it quickly (unlike 1/6, in which Trump gave them plenty of notice). Large scale violence just isn’t as feasible in these circumstances.

Second, this is about money paid to a porn star to prevent her from exposing the fact that Trump cheated on his third wife who’d just delivered their baby. It’s a lot harder for MAGA fuckwits to justify violence and a possible jail sentence to support a president’s right to betray his marriage and pay hush money to porn stars. It’s a lot harder for conservative Christians to support violence to help a serial philanderer’s attempt to cover up yet another sexual affair. The Lord trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth and all that. (If I have to quote the Bible, I’ll always go with the King James version; it rumbles so well.)

The arrest we’ve all been waiting for.

Had any of the other crimes for which Trump is being investigated issued the first set of indictments, I’d be more concerned about violence. Those crimes are a lot more serious. Paying off porn stars is just tacky and sleazy.

And now I think of it, there’s a third reason large scale violence is unlikely. Trump has admitted he did it. He may deny (while not under oath) that he had sex with Stormy Daniels, but he’s admitted he paid her off. He has justified it as a business expense; cheaper to pay her off than to sue her for libel. It’s a variation of the What Happens in Vegas defense.

I could be wrong, of course. I mean, I was absolutely certain there was no way Trump would ever be elected president, so my track record is questionable. My assumption that there won’t be any large scale violence as a result of the indictment(s) may just be wishful thinking. Nonetheless, I find it hard to believe that there will be enough outrage even among hardcore MAGA fuckwits to get them to visit New York City and engage in street violence to defend Trump’s right to hand out cash to porn stars to keep them quiet about his sordid habit of cheating on his multiple wives.

reasoned debate

MAGA Fuckwit: If you indict and arrest Trump, we will burn this motherfucker down!
America: Well, we’re still going to indict and arrest him.
MAGA Fuckwit: He did nothing wrong!
America: Sorry, disagree.
MAGA Fuckwit: The call to Georgia was perfect!
America: No, but that’s not what we’re arresting him for.
MAGA Fuckwit: The election was stolen!
America: No, but that’s not what we’re arresting him for.
MAGA Fuckwit: January 6th was a peaceful protest!
America: No, but that’s not what we’re arresting him for.
MAGA Fuckwit: As president he had the power to declassify top secret documents just by thinking about it!
America: No, but that’s not what we’re arresting him for.

Defending the Constitutional Right to Pay Hush Money to Porn Stars!

MAGA Fuckwit: He…he…whatever you say he did, he didn’t do it! Or he was right to do it!
America: We’re arresting him for illegally paying hush money to a porn star.
MAGA Fuckwit: We…that’s…you can’t…we will burn this…c’mon!
America: Yeah, that’s it. Hush money, porn star.
MAGA Fuckwit: That’s not illegal!
America: Yeah, it is if you try to pass it off as a campaign contribution.
MAGA Fuckwit: He did it to protect his wife and kids!
America: Yeah, no.
MAGA Fuckwit: Real men cheat on their wives!
America: Seriously? That’s your argument?
MAGA Fuckwit: Goddamnit!
America: [shrugs]
MAGA Fuckwit: Can’t you indict and arrest him for the other crimes?!
America: Sure. Just wait.
MAGA Fuckwit: Okay, good, then we will burn this motherfucker down!
America: We’ll let you know when we’re ready.

that’s not bias, that’s behavior

This ‘anti-Christian bias’ bullshit again.

It’s important to remind everyfuckingbody that in all of Western culture, Christianity is the default. Unless it’s specifically mentioned, every television and movie character is assumed to be Christian. There is a definite, consistent pro-Christian bias in Hollywood. When Christian characters act in non-Christian ways–by lying, by cheating, by conniving, by being greedy, by sexually molesting people, by being hypocrites, and yes, by being fucking cannibals–that’s NOT anti-Christian bias. It’s anti-Christian behavior. And hey, that shit happens ALL THE TIME.

The fact is, there are–and always have been–lots of television shows and movies devoted to favorable portrayals of Christian priests and ministers and nuns. There was even a show called God Friended Me about an atheist ‘friended’ by God on social media, who then became an active agent for good things. How many crime-solving Christian clergy shows are there? Dozens. How many movies and shows about ex-priests still doing the Christian God’s work by fighting supernatural evil–vampires and demons and all that?

There are far more overtly positive representations of Christians on television and in the movies than disparaging ones. And, again, the unfavorable representations are generally about characters who are defined by their close association with Christianity. That’s how character-driven narratives work: you play them against a higher standard. The more trust placed in a person, the greater the betrayal when that trust is broken. A judge or a police officer who steals is seen as worse than an ordinary person who steals, because their job is to uphold the law. A professed Christian who violates the tenets of Christianity is more shocking than a non-Christian who does.

So yeah, if you want to create a villain, first you put that character in a position of trust and respect. Because Christianity is the default, and because society is expected to honor and trust the clergy, they make great villains. Presenting a post-apocalyptic Bible-reciting preacher as a cannibalistic predator is NOT anti-Christian bias; it’s a depiction of the betrayal of Christian beliefs.

Mark Wahlberg (who, by the way, is an absolutely dreadful actor–which has nothing at all to do with his faith) has also complained about an anti-Christian bias in Hollywood. He’s said he intends to dedicate the rest of his career to ‘faith-based storytelling.’

“I don’t want to jam it down anybody’s throat, but I do not deny my faith. That’s an even bigger sin. You know, it’s not popular in my industry, but, you know, I cannot deny my faith. It’s important for me to share that with people. I have friends from all walks of life and all different types of faiths and religions, so you know, it’s important to respect and honor them as well.”

This is a huge part of the problem. Christians DO jam it down our throats. Spreading the Gospel–the Good News–is inherent in Christianity. It’s hard-wired into the belief system.

And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

‘Preaching the Gospel’ sounds a lot better than ‘Jamming it Down Throats’ but the commandment to ‘share’ exists independently of the desire of others to listen. It may be important for Wahlberg “to share that with people” but it’s not important to those of us who aren’t Christians. Go be a Christian, but we’d very much appreciate it if you’d leave us out of it. Wahlberg says it’s important to “respect and honor” folks of other faiths and religions, but one way to do that would be to NOT to ‘share’ your religion with others unless invited. Refraining from ‘sharing’ your faith is not the same as denying it.

Anti-Christian bias absolutely exists. But it’s generally a result of two things: 1) that unrequested sharing business, and 2) the constant barrage of professed Christians caught doing stuff they preach against. Wait…make that three things. Let’s include 3) Christians who’ve been caught doing stuff they preach against and who, after a period of ‘reflection’, announce they’ve been forgiven and go right back to preaching. And making money.

Anti-Christian bias exists primarily because of anti-Christian behavior on the part of Christians.