the dicknoggin conspiracy

Imagine a foreign country — oh, let’s call it the Republic of Dicknoggin. Imagine the government of Dicknoggin has decided to implement a covert campaign against These United States.

Imagine that deep cover Dicknoggin agents manage to get  themselves installed as administrators of federal agencies. Once in place, they create conditions that will make the air dirtier, the water less potable, food less safe, energy production less clean, working environments more dangerous, gun violence more likely, civil liberties more at risk, poverty more cruel, international crises more probable and more deadly, health care less available and more expensive, and schools less effective.

Imagine Dicknoggin agents using social media to undermine public belief and trust in US systems of justice. Imagine them claiming the FBI and the Department of Justice are actually controlled by a shadowy group of conspirators whose mission is to destroy the very government they work for. Imagine them hinting that those few federal law enforcement agents who weren’t actually criminal were nonetheless incompetent or possibly corrupt.

Imagine covert Dicknoggin agents being nominated and confirmed to lifetime terms as judges, who’ll decide how US laws should be interpreted and applied. Imagine Dicknoggin agents working at the state level to determine who should be able to vote and when voting can take place and how those votes are counted. Imagine Dicknoggin agents seducing and subverting religious leaders with promises of policies that favor their specific religious beliefs.

Imagine if the Republic of Dicknoggin actually existed and instituted those sorts of measures against These United States. It would be seen as a belligerent act by a hostile nation. It would be seen as a type of warfare.

Dicknoggin policy roundtable

Folks, the modern Republican party are Dicknoggins. It’s easy — and, for that matter, it’s sort of comforting — to think these Dicknoggins are acting out of ignorance. Or greed, or a lust for power and authority. It would be nice to believe they’re fucking up the country because they don’t know any better, because they simply fail to understand the very real consequences or the long-term implications of their actions.

I’d like to believe that, I really would. I’d like to believe the Dicknoggins are just fuckwits. But when you consider how widespread their actions are, how every facet of the government has been turned on its head, it suggests that this isn’t an accident. It suggests it’s deliberate.

So if you sometimes feel like the modern Republican party has declared war on These United States, that they’re intentionally destroying the things you love about this nation, then your feelings might actually be justified.

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shit is broke, folks

You guys! Remember when Comrade Trump was reading his State of the Union speech out loud and said, “I call upon on all of us to set aside our differences, to seek out common ground, and to summon the unity we need to deliver for the people.” Remember that? And remember when he said, “Let’s come together, set politics aside and finally get the job done.” C’mon, it was just a few days ago, you surely remember that, right?

Yeah, didn’t nobody believe him. Partly on account of he was just reading something somebody else wrote, but mostly on account of we knew it would only be a few days (or hours) before he was insulting and demeaning folks who disagreed with him. Or folks who just didn’t praise him enough. Or folks who were women. Or black. And sure enough, here’s Trump this morning:

Little Adam Schiff, who is desperate to run for higher office, is one of the biggest liars and leakers in Washington, right up there with Comey, Warner, Brennan and Clapper! Adam leaves closed committee hearings to illegally leak confidential information. Must be stopped!

You’re probably thinking something like “Yeah, well, Trump’s a dick.” Or “Yeah, well, it’s Monday and this is pretty much what Trump does on Mondays because he’s a dick.” Or “Why doesn’t some adult take the phone away from that mucilaginous motherfucker?”

This guy — notta dick.

But see, here’s the thing: Comrade Trump has just accused somebody — wait, not just your basic somebody, but an actual ranking member of Congress — of committing a felony. We’re talking about the unauthorized disclosure of classified information here. You guys, that’s a direct violation of 18 U.S.C. § 798. You pull shit like that, and the Feds can arrest your ass, prosecute your ass, and if your ass gets convicted, toss your ass in prison for ten years. This is what those of us who’ve done time in the criminal justice biz call a big fucking deal.

If any other president in the history of These United States had publicly accused a member of Congress of doing shit like this, there’d be…okay, I don’t know what there’d be, on account of no other president in the history of These United States has ever been that fucking stupid or that fucking reckless. But after a year in office, we’ve become so inured to shit like this that we think, “Yeah, well, Trump’s a dick” and we move on with our day.

This guy — total dick.

Shit is broke, people. Shit is broke and it’s going to take a whole lot of fixing up to unbroke it. And we can’t even start unbroking it until we kick Trump’s Kremlin-shaped ass out of office.

So organize, you guys. Organize and resist. Resist openly and often. And vote in November. Vote for the candidate who is least likely to be a dick. Let’s make politics as dick-free as possible.

devin nunes serves at the pleasure of the president

Devin Nunes: Hi, I’m Devin Nunes, a very serious and totally scrupulous Republican Congressman from California and the Chair of the House Intelligence Committee, and boy do I have a four-page classified memo for you.

The American Public: Oh? What’s it about?

DN: I can’t tell you. It’s classified. All I can say is that it refers to a massive conspiracy by high-ranking members of the FBI colluding with Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration to create a false narrative accusing Donald Trump of working with the Russians to get him elected. Also? An equally false narrative that Trump is impulsive. And ignorant. And a racist. And stupid. Plus some other stuff. Like, you know, sex stuff.

TAP: Wow. That’s awful. Why would FBI agents do that?

DN: To prevent Trump from being elected. Which he did anyway. You should really see what’s in the classified memo. It’s horrible what they’re doing to the president.

TAP: Show it to us.

DN: I can’t. It’s classified!

TAP: If it’s classified, I guess it must be serious.

DN: It is! It’s SO serious. Everybody who’s seen the classified memo says it’s the biggest scandal since Watergate. Bigger even! It’s, like, the best scandal ever. The worst, I mean. Everybody says so. It’s all in the memo that you can’t see.

Steve King: Hi, I’m Steve King, also a totally scrupulous Republican, but I’m from Iowa which is like three or four times more scrupulous than California. I’ve seen the classified four-page memo and it shows our very democracy is under attack by a secret society of Trump-hating FBI agents who hate Trump and are secretive about it. Except when they talk about it to each other. Which they mostly do in secret. Also, I’m not a racist. People say I’m a racist because I make racist remarks, but that doesn’t make me a racist. It makes me seem authentic, which is something my base likes. Also too, that memo is shocking.

TAP: Maybe you should give it to the Director of the FBI, so he can investigate his agents.

DN: Can’t! The FBI are the bad guys. We can’t trust them.

TAP: Maybe you should give it to the Department of Justice.

DN: Can’t! They might try to cover it up so the public never gets to see it.

TAP: What about the New York Times or the Washington Post? Could you give it to them? Let them publish it?

DN: Give a classified memo to the liberal media? That would be wrong. But if the American People were to see it, there’d be hell to pay in the traitorous anti-Trump FBI cabal conspiracy. It’s SO BAD!

TAP: What do the Democrats on the Intelligence Committee say about the memo?

DN: Nothing! They’ve been completely and totally and suspiciously silent about it.

TAP: Have they seen it?

DN: Are you crazy? Let Democrats see a classified memo? They’d leak it.

TAP: Okay, then maybe this memo should be declassified. Who can declassify it?

DN: You mean besides me? And besides every Republican member of the House Intelligence Committee who’s seen it? And besides every Republican member of the Senate Intelligence Committee who’s seen it?

TAP: Yes, besides you and all those other people, who can declassify it?

DN: President Trump.

TAP: Then why don’t you or your colleagues or the president declassify the memo, so it can be released to the American People?

DN: We totally want the memo to be released. Totally. And so do our supporters.

Russian Social Media Bot: #releasethememo #releasethememo #releasethememo

DN: See? Popular support to release the memo. Fox News is all over this too, demanding the memo be released. It really needs to be released if we want to save the presid…our democracy.

TAP: But you won’t release it because…?

DN: We can’t! It’s classified!

TAP: (long silent pause)

Russian Social Media Bot: #releasethememo #releasethememo #releasethememo

DN: Release the memo!

TAP: (long silent pause)

DN: Benghazi!

TAP: You’d totally suck Donald Trump’s dick if he asked you to, wouldn’t you.

DN: I serve at the pleasure of the President of the United States.

three things that happened

First Thing:

Senator Claire McCaskill, a Democrat representing Missouri, made a motion to insure the salaries and death benefits of members of the military would still get paid through the shutdown. She said,

“I want to make sure that tonight we send a very clear signal that we don’t want one moment to pass with there being any uncertainty of any soldier anywhere in the world that they will be paid for the valiant work they do for our national security.”

She asked the motion be approved without objection.

Second Thing:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, responded to her motion. He said,

“I object. My hope is that we can restore funding for the entire government before this becomes necessary.”

The motion to approve pay and military death benefits was tabled.

Third Thing:

It became necessary.

A U.S. Army AH-64 Apache attack helicopter crashed early Saturday morning in California, killing two soldiers.

In case you were wondering why we shouldn’t base congressional decisions on Mitch McConnell’s hopes.

By the way, members of Congress will continue to receive their full pay during the shutdown.

struck stone

Matt Damon is a pretty good actor. Dude doesn’t know when to shut the fuck up, but he’s a pretty good actor. And yeah, of course, he has the right to voice his opinion. In response to the #metoo movement, he apparently made the “spectrum of behavior” argument. That argument always sounds convincing and reasonable.

And hey, he’s right. Patting a woman on the ass isn’t as bad as rape. We acknowledge that some behaviors are worse than others. But that’s not the discussion we need to be having at this singular moment in time. Here’s the discussion we should be having:

Burn the patriarchal system to the ground. Burn it, pound the ashes into dust, scatter the dust, and salt the fucking earth. 

It’s far too late to have the Matt Damon discussion. This isn’t the time for the niceties of fine distinction. This isn’t the time to parse offenses, to weigh and balance behaviors. This isn’t the time to figure out whether twenty years of patting asses is as bad as, say, five instances of wanking in front of women who didn’t (or felt they couldn’t) voice an objection to it. 

This is the time to put the system to the torch. Burn it all, and if some lesser offenders get caught up in the pyre with the worst offenders, well that’s a shame. They’re all offenders. Will some innocent men also get caught up in the blaze? Yeah, sure they will. Bound to happen. Too fucking bad. All the women who were sexually harassed or assaulted, they were innocent too. If there’s One True Thing we all know, it’s that innocence won’t save you.

Years ago — it must have been in 1989 or 1990 — I was in graduate school, living in a rather dodgy part of Columbia Heights in DC (back then the entire neighborhood was pretty much dodgy). My apartment was a couple of blocks from All Souls Church, where Sweet Honey in the Rock were giving a concert. The opening act was an a cappella group of women from South Africa, and they sang a song called Wathint’ abafazi, wathint’ imbokodo. (Okay, I should admit I had to look that up; it was a long time ago, and while I remember the translation, I’d forgotten the actual words). This is what it means:

When you strike the women, you strike stone.

This is the year we’ve struck stone. And if we’re lucky, the sparks from that will start the fire that eventually incinerates the patriarchy.

dude, c’mon. alabama (part 2)

— I don’t understand what’s going on in Alabama.

— That’s okay. The people of Alabama don’t always understand what’s going on in Alabama.

— I mean this whole Roy Moore thing. What’s up with that?

— Wait. Didn’t we already have this conversation? Like a couple of years ago?

— Yeah, we’ve had this conversation twice. But then it was about Judge Roy Moore and same-sex marriage. Now it’s about Roy Moore and dating high school girls. That’s crazy, isn’t it?

— Dude, c’mon. Alabama.

— But high school girls?

— And junior high school girls. The first accusation was made by a woman who said your boy Roy hit on her when she was fourteen. You know what that means?

— That Roy Moore is a pervert?

— No. Well, yeah. But it also means your boy Roy was thirty-something years old and hitting on a girl who was in the eighth grade.

— Jeebus on toast.

— I know. In the eighth grade. Sitting on a bench in the Etowah County courthouse.

— What was an eighth grader doing in the courthouse?

— Her parents were getting a divorce. They were there for a child custody hearing.

— So not just an eighth grader, but an eighth grader who was emotionally vulnerable?

— Yup. Also? Your boy Roy was an assistant district attorney at the time.

— Sweet Jeebus tuna salad.

— Funny you should say that. One of Moore’s toadies defends him by saying Joseph was older than Mary so it’s really sorta kinda Christian for Moore to be hitting on girls in the eighth grade.

— Seriously? Who’d buy into an argument like that? Who’d even make an argument like that?

— Dude, c’mon. Alabama.

— Yeah, but it sounds like Moore is maybe a pedophile or something.

— Not technically a pedophile. Pedophiles are attracted to pre-pubescent kids. Moore held off until they reached puberty.

— So there’s that. It’s a great campaign slogan. Roy Moore: Not Technically a Pedophile. His opponent must really suck, if the polls are that close. He’s got to be like a devil worshiper or something. A communist, maybe.

Technically not a pedophile.

— His opponent is Doug Jones. He’s the guy who indicted Eric Rudolph, who planted bombs at a women’s health care center and the Centennial Olympic Park. Jones also prosecuted the KKK guys who bombed a Baptist church, which killed four little African-American girls.

— So, a Democrat.

— Bingo.

— No wonder he’s losing.

— Losing to a guy who got himself kicked off the Alabama Supreme Court twice. Twice.

— That’s not easy to do.

— It’s not easy to get kicked off once, let alone twice. I have to give your boy Roy credit for persistence. Too bad he’s persistently horrible.

— So what’ll happen if Moore actually gets elected?

— The Republicans will probably open an ethics investigation of Al Franken, then try to force him to resign.

— Too late. Al Franken resigned today.

— You’re joking.

— Nope.

— Fuck me with a chainsaw.

— Maybe something good will come of Franken’s resignation.

— You think?

— Maybe voters will see him resign and think ‘That’s how an ethical political party behaves.’ And then maybe they’ll do the right thing in the Alabama election next week.

— Maybe.

— You sound skeptical.

— Dude, c’mon. Alabama.

now it’s al franken

And now it’s Al Franken.

What we’re seeing here is a tsunami of collective frustration and righteous anger. It’s been a long time building and it’s massive and it doesn’t care who gets hurt. Which is exactly the way it should be. Only now it’s Al Franken.

Trump — we expected Trump, of course. Louis CK — well, there’d been talk about him for a long time, so he was no surprise. Weinstein — he was a given; it’s not surprising the tsunami took him first. Roy Moore — is anybody really surprised when a Christian conservative turns out to be morally bankrupt? But now it’s Al Franken.

Because of course it is. I mean, he moved in those circles. He was a semi-famous comedian before he became a politician. Fame and privilege go together like chocolate and peanut butter. Wait, let me amend that. Fame and privilege go together like blow flies and a decaying corpse. Popular culture history is jammed with stories of famous men abusing women. It’s so common, in fact, that I never even thought about it — not until around 1990, when a friend had me read Pearl Cleage’s essay Mad at Miles. I’ve been unable to enjoy Miles Davis ever since. Only now it’s Al Franken.

Al Franken is one of the good guys, right? Or he’s supposed to be one of the good guys. Somewhere on the internet yesterday I saw this comment: Now no man is safe. Which is true. Because, let’s face it, almost every man is complicit. I’m saying ‘almost’ because it’s theoretically possible there’s some guy out there who never laughed at a sexist joke, or who never looked at a woman in a purely sexual way, or who never discounted something a woman said simply because she’s a woman, or who never encouraged a woman to have another drink because he thought it would improve his chance of getting laid. Even those of us who like to think of ourselves as good guys, supportive guys, guys who ‘get it’ when it comes to women’s issues, almost all of us are guilty in some very real way. Now it’s Al Franken.

So now what do we do? What do we do now that it’s Al Franken, one of the good guys? Do we make excuses for him? “Well, at least she was an adult, unlike this Roy Moore business.” Yeah, no…that doesn’t work. Sexual harassment isn’t age-defined. “Well, at least he’s done good things for women since he became a politician.” Yeah, no…that doesn’t work either. Good behavior now may help atone for what he did back then, but it doesn’t excuse it. “Well, it’s only the one woman, unlike Trump.” Yeah, no…that really doesn’t work. If there’s one woman, then there’s bound to be another. A guy who acts like a sexist pig doesn’t only act like a sexist pig once. What Al Franken did was pretty classic sexist pig material, so even if no other woman steps forward and levels an accusation against him, I think we can be confident there are women who’d have every right to do that. So what do we do now that it’s Al Franken?

We do the same thing we do with all these other guys. We hold him accountable. At the very least, Al Franken deserves a public shaming. Hell, at the very least ALL men probably deserve a public shaming. Most of us will escape that since we’re not public figures. But public figures deserve public shaming. Even Al Franken.

That said, we can’t ignore that there’s a difference — and that difference also deserves discussion. We can’t hold ‘good’ guys to a lower standard, but we can and should tailor our response to these offenses. We can and should ask these questions: Will the person actually feel shame for their actions? I suspect Al Franken does. I don’t believe Trump and Moore do. Will the person work to change their behavior and atone for their past offenses? I suspect Al Franken will. I don’t believe Trump will.

A lot of women I know are torn up over this stuff. They’re glad to see women standing up for themselves, they’re glad to see attention brought to this too often ignored topic, but as one friend said, “I don’t want to demonize men and judge yesterday’s trespasses through the lens of today’s understanding.” As a man, I appreciate that thought. But I also think it’s wrong-headed. Pointing out bad behavior, even if it occurred some time ago, isn’t demonizing men; it’s demonizing a patriarchal system that deserves to be demonized.

It’s hard to cast off a few thousand years of patriarchal thought and behavior. It’s so deeply ingrained in us — both men and women — that much of the time we’re not even aware of it. We exist in patriarchy in the same way a fish exists in water. We generally move through it without noticing that it’s there. Not until somebody points out that the water is murky and filled with crap. Which is where we are today.

It’s critically important to support these women. It’s critically important to point out this bullshit when we see it, to drive a stake right through its fucking heart, and burn its corpse. Even when it’s done by Al Franken.