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.

Advertisements

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.

 

no, he doesn’t get credit for trying

I’m paraphrasing here, but this is basically what I heard today. “Trump can’t catch a break. He tried to do the right thing, calling the families [of the four soldiers in the 3rd Special Forces Group who were killed in Niger]. He’s not good at it, but at least he tried. You have to give him credit for that.”

And you know what? I very nearly did.

Let me start by talking about something that happened to my family a million years ago. When I was 15 years old, I came home from school to find two Marines standing at the door to my house. My oldest brother was a Marine serving in a Recon unit in Vietnam at the time. I went numb when I saw those Marines. I was about half a block from home when I saw them; I don’t remember walking the rest of the way. One of Marines said something like, “Son, we need to talk to your mother, but she won’t come to the door.”

I could see her through the window, sitting at the kitchen table, refusing to even look at the door. I’ve no idea how long the Marines had been standing there, waiting. I opened the door and invited them in. They told us my brother had been shot in the leg and in the back, that he’d been evacuated to a hospital ship. My mother asked if he’d be okay. All they could say was that his prognosis was guarded. I assumed that meant he was probably going to die.

One of the Marines made coffee. They sat down at the kitchen table, walked us through the likely process of my brother’s med-evac, referring to him by name. “Roger would have been stabilized and treated for pain at the site, his condition monitored en route to the hospital ship,” and so on. They stayed with us until my father got home. Then they went through the whole process again.

My brother was lucky; he lived, (it turned out he hadn’t been shot in the back at all). Nine other Marines and a Navy corpsman were killed on that same day in Quang Nam province. I’ll never forget how gut-wrenching it was to see those two Marines at the door. I’ll never forget how patient they were, and how supportive, and how quiet and respectful and calm.

I don’t normally talk about this stuff, but this is the basis on which I very nearly gave Comrade Trump credit for trying. I know what it’s like to get bad news. Having been a medic in the military, I also know what it’s like to deliver that news. It’s not easy. So a part of me actually wanted to give Trump credit for making those calls.

Yes, after the four soldiers were killed in Niger, he failed to even try to contact the families for almost two weeks. In fact, he hadn’t said anything at all in public about the four deaths — and I suspect he wouldn’t have said anything about them if he hadn’t been asked about it in public by a reporter. And yes, when confronted with his failure, Trump tried to claim other presidents had done less than he’d done. Which was a lie. But he said he would call the families of the soldiers. And he did. There’s that.

Before he called them, Trump apparently consulted Gen. John Kelly, his Chief of Staff, to find out what he should say. According to Kelly, he told Trump those four soldiers knew what they’d signed up for — they knew there was a chance they’d get killed or wounded in the line of duty. To Kelly (and most folks with military experience) that knowledge magnifies the level of commitment and the weight of the sacrifice troops are prepared to make. They knew the risks, but were willing to undertake them in the service of their country. There’s a terrible beauty in that.

From what we know of the conversation Trump had with the family of Sgt. La David Johnson, he apparently attempted to make that point, but did it in such a clumsy way as to offend the family. It’s been reported that he never referred to Sgt. Johnson by name, just calling him “your guy”. Trump is also alleged to have said, “He knew what he was signing up for, but I guess it hurts anyway.”

Even though he fucked it up, at that point I was still willing to reluctantly give Trump credit for trying. Then the family spoke out about the conversation, saying he’d been insensitive.

Here’s another thing that happened a moderately long time ago. President George W. Bush — the president I disliked the most until Comrade Trump slouched into office — had visited a military hospital to speak with troops wounded in the war he’d started. One of the families of the wounded was present, and they voiced their anger and resentment about the war and about Bush. Bush just stood there, facing the family, and took it. As the Commander-in-Chief, Bush understood his duty — to the family, to the soldier, to the America public — was to quietly accept the family’s anger, because he was ultimately responsible for that soldier’s wounds and that family’s distress. I passionately disliked Bush, but I respected him at that moment.

Had Trump done the same — had he followed Bush’s example, had he just quietly accepted the Johnson family’s response — I’d have given him credit for trying to do the right thing. Even though he’d been sort of forced into and even though he’d bungled it badly, I’d have given him credit for trying. If only he’d handled it like an adult.

But he didn’t. Instead, Trump lashed out. Which is what he does when he’s criticized. He lashed out and he lied about what took place– just as he’s done against other Gold Star families who’ve publicly criticized him.

So no, I don’t give Trump credit for trying. I might have given him credit; I very nearly did. But in the end Comrade Trump again confirmed to me that he’s a despicable poltroon, with no native sense of decency, and no regard for the truth, and no real respect for the military.

Those two Marines who came to deliver the awful news to my family, they didn’t know my brother. But they knew his name. They knew other Marines just like him. They knew other families like ours. They treated us with patience and courtesy and dignity and deep compassion.

Those qualities seem to be completely absent in the president.

 

in which i explain why i call him comrade trump

Hey, you guys! Remember when something like forty-seven hundred different United States intelligence services said Russia interfered with the presidential election and Vlad Putin said, “Nuh uh” and Donald Trump believed Putin? Is Trump a fucking idiot or what? (Hint: he is a fucking idiot.)

And remember just a few days ago when the U.S. Senate voted 98-2 to sanction Russia for interfering with the presidential election, and Donald Trump said, “Oh, c’mon, stop picking on Russia, leave Brittney Putin alone!” but signed the bill anyway on account of he’s a weasel? And he did it in private, which is really really unusual because Donald Trump just loves to sign things in front of an audience? Remember that, you guys?

And also too, you guys, remember like a day or two ago when Brittney Putin decided to expel 755 people from the American embassy and consulate staff in Russia on account of the U.S. Senate voted 98-2 (ninety-fucking-eight to two!) to sanction Russia for interfering with the presidential election, and Donald Trump totally thanked Brittney for punishing the U.S. embassy in Russia?

You guys, listen you guys, people ask me, they say “Hey, Greg, why do you call him Conrad Trump?” and I have to explain it’s not Conrad, it’s Comrade, and then they want to know why I call him Comrade.

You guys, this is why I call him Comrade Trump. On account of he’s deep in the pocket of Russian oligarchs, on account of he’s smitten with Putin the Strongman, on account of he was elected only through the assistance of the Russian government, and on account of given a choice between standing up for the U.S. or sitting in the lap of Russia, Trump always — every fucking time — chooses Russia.

Every. Fucking. Time. So, that’s why. In case you were wondering (you were totally wondering, weren’t you).

anatomy of a sinkhole

It works like this: water soaks into the ground — maybe through rainfall, maybe through a leak in a water main, the source doesn’t matter. If the bedrock beneath the ground is soluble, like limestone or gypsum, then the rock begins to dissolve. This creates a cavity — a hollow space under the ground. That hollow space may begin to fill up with water. Over time the cavity grows; the weight of the soil itself and any structures above ground causes the ground to collapse.

Boom — you’ve just lost your house and your new Ford pickup.

Now imagine this. The bedrock is the United States. Russia is deliberately leaking the water. Comrade Trump and his Government of Nazgûl comprise the cavity. Democracy is the house. You’re the Ford pickup.

A lot of people think Russia’s goal in colluding with the Trump campaign was to get him elected. It wasn’t. Their goal was to undermine democracy by eroding and weakening the bedrock. They only needed to incrementally increase the level of vitriol and hate and suspicion among the electorate in order to create a less stable United States. The fact that Trump was elected was, I suspect, an unanticipated dividend. Regardless of who eventually got elected, Russia would have succeeded just by injecting more acidic water into the bedrock.

Here’s the good news: sinkholes can be repaired. The process requires a lot of work, but is fairly simple.

  1. Clean the area. Remove any trash, rubbish, and other debris from the depression.
  2. Determine the extent of the hole by careful excavation and probing.
  3. Incrementally fill the depression with clean fill soil that has a high amount of clay and low amount of sand. Do NOT use gravel or rock as fill, because water will trickle through the gaps and create another sinkhole.
  4. Continue this process until the depression is filled in.

It’s to be hoped that the bulk of this work will be done by Robert Mueller, the Special Counsel in charge of the Russia investigation. But it would help if Congress would get off its ass and do its job. It would also help if Republicans stopped chucking gravel and rock into the hole.

 

a roach in the spaghetti

Yeah, it’s not treason. This is treason: 18 U.S. Code § 2381 – Treason

Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.

Do you see the problem? Did Comrade Trump Jr. levy war against the U.S.? Nope. Did he adhere to any enemies? Nope. Adhere, in this context, basically means ‘join’. Did he give aid or comfort to the enemy? Nope, not really. Aid and comfort — that phrase doesn’t have any strict legal meaning, but in general it’s about giving (or even making an attempt to give) some sort of substantial assistance or material support. Trump the Lesser is a despicable creature, but he didn’t commit treason.

Nevertheless, you could make a solid argument that Comrade Trump Jr. is still a traitor. A traitor, after all, is just somebody who betrays their country. Colluding with Russia to influence the election makes him a traitor, even if he didn’t commit treason.

This oleaginous, French-cuffed fuckwit cannot be trusted.

I’ve heard some folks arguing that all Trump Jr. was doing was gathering opposition research. Balderdash (this is a wonderful word, by the way; it was originally an Elizabethan term for a jumbled mix of liquors — you know, like at a party when folks pour three kinds of wine, some beer, and half a bottle of gin into a bowl and call it ‘punch’ or something. When you drink balderdash, you speak balderdash).

Okay, I got distracted there. As I was saying, balderdash. I’ll even add an exclamation point here, because it’s warranted. Balderdash! Opposition research is a sleazy but common practice. What Comrade Trump the Lesser did was sleazy, but not at all common.

It’s important to remember that Putin wasn’t supporting Trump the Elder because he thought he’d be a good president. He wasn’t really supporting Trump at all. He was just fucking with the electoral system in order to destabilize the U.S. If Russia could cast doubt on the legitimacy of the electoral process, then that would weaken the authority of the next president, regardless of who got elected.

Let’s not forget, Russia didn’t just illegally obtain and distribute emails. They also invented and promoted false narratives. Like that Pizzagate bullshit. Like the bullshit about Hillary Clinton’s health, or her relationship with her aide. They flooded social media with bots that promoted bullshit stories. Putin-Russia deployed a LOT of different attacks. If one failed, there were a dozen others. None of them needed to succeed entirely in order for the plan to work. The combined effect was enough to cast doubt on the authenticity of the election.

I got a bowl of pasta for you, tremendous bowl, best ever, just for you. Don’t ask questions, just eat.

The lawyer with whom Comrade Trump the Lesser met — even if she was entirely innocent (which is exceedingly unlikely, but still possible) — is inextricably linked with the folks who DID do all that other stuff.

Right, time for an analogy. What do you do if you see a cockroach sitting in a bowl of spaghetti? Do you try to untangle the roach-touched noodles from the rest of the bowl? No. You chuck out the entire bowl of spaghetti.

That Russian lawyer is a noodle in a roach-tainted bowl of spaghetti. Trump Jr. knew the spaghetti was tainted. But he was willing — even eager — to serve it to the public.

brain corrosion? what brain corrosion?

Over the weekend I read a few of the right-wing political nut job conspiracy theory blogs. Now some of you are probably saying, “Dude, what the hell is wrong with you? Reading that stuff will corrode your brain.” That’s a legitimate question and a legitimate concern. My answer is that it’s important to read this stuff occasionally. And since I only read it occasionally, I think I’m pretty well protected from brain corrosion.

But why is it important to ever read right-wing political nut job conspiracy theory blogs? This is why: some of the crazy shit that you find in the RWPNJCT blogs makes it way, in some form, to real news outlets. I’m not just talking about FoxNews; I’m talking actual news outlets. Like The New York Times or National Public Radio. That sounds like a conspiracy theory right there, doesn’t it. But it’s not. It actually happens.

Remember that Pizzagate insanity? The conspiracy theory that Hillary Clinton was involved in a Satanic pedophile sex ring based in a DC pizza parlor that was connected to other nearby businesses through a series of tunnels in which kidnapped children were kept for ritual sexual abuse? That began on RWPNJCT blogs, and eventually made its way to legitimate news. Granted, the more legit sources reported on it as a conspiracy theory, but even that sort of reporting brought the lunatic idea to a wider audience. Some folks, not paying close attention, only knew that NPR was discussing something about Hillary and a child sex ring.

The stink of that shit lingers. A post-election poll by Public Policy Polling showed that 9% of registered voters believed Hillary was involved in a child sex ring; 19% said they ‘weren’t sure’. One of every five registered voters said they weren’t sure whether or not Hillary Clinton was lurking in tunnels diddling little kids. That’s fucking nuts. And guess what — 46% of Trump voters thought it was true.

The Russians helped promote that theory, of course, but it’s still scary as hell that so many people were willing to even consider it. So if you want to know what sort of crazy shit might be coming down the conservative lunatic turnpike, you have to occasionally take a peek into the RWPNJCT blogotoilet.

Then–FBI Director Robert Mueller and then–Deputy Attorney General James Comey in a practice conspiracy. indicting the CEO of Enron — Feb. 2004

And hey, bingo, it didn’t take long to find one. This is Early Stage conspiracy theory, so it hasn’t entirely coalesced yet — but the framework is coming together. Here it is: James Comey and Robert Mueller are in a conspiracy to bring down Comrade Trump.

What? Evidence? You want evidence? I got your evidence right here, pookie.

  • A noted right-wing conspiracy theorist named Jack Posobiec (who also promoted the Pizzagate nonsense) said, “I’m told Comey did not keep his memos on FBI systems as he testified.” Posobiec also tweeted “Comey now claims he deleted his original memos.”
  • Therefore the Comey memos don’t really exist.
  • Or if they exist, they were written after he was fired.
  • Which means Comey lied under oath when he testified that he wrote the memos contemporaneously after meetings with Comrade Trump.
  • Also Comey claimed to have given the memos to Mueller.
  • Comey cleared his prepared statement with Mueller before he released it.
  • Also Comey and Mueller are both career law enforcement/FBI types, and are considered to be friends.
  • Therefore Comey and Mueller are both members of the Deep State and part of the conspiracy dedicated to destroying Comrade Trump.

But wait, you say, if Comey wants to destroy Trump, why did he re-open the Hillary email fuss, thereby making it more likely Trump would be elected? I’m so glad you asked.

  • The October letter announcing the re-opening of the case was released because it would hurt Hillary less than the leaks he knew were coming.

What leaks, you ask? Shut up. Here’s more evidence of the Mueller-Comey conspiracy.

  • Comey and Mueller have known each other for years and worked together on several “investigations” all of which were directed at rich white men. Conspiracy!
  • Comey met with Mueller behind closed doors before he testified. There’s no public record of what they discussed. Conspiracy!
  • Comey testified he gave one of the memos to a friend to be released to a news agency in order to get a Special Counsel appointed. His friend Mueller was then appointed Special Counsel. Conspiracy!
  • Mueller was appointed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Rosenstein had the authority to make the appointment because Attorney General Sessions recused himself. Therefore Rosenstein and possible Sessions are either members of the Deep State conspiracy against Trump, or are unwitting accomplices, or just useful tools (to be determined). Conspiracy!
  • Mueller has refused to recuse himself from the investigation even though Comey is a friend of his, which is a clear conflict of interest, further demonstrating Mueller is part of the Deep State anti-Trump cabal. Conspiracy!

What? That’s not enough? You want more evidence? Damn, you people are hard to satisfy. Okay, how about this?

  • Comey actively colluded with Loretta Lynch to obstruct the Hillary Clinton Campaign and was a major player in the FISA unmaskings. He parted company with Lynch when she was stupid enough to get caught meeting with Bill Clinton in a biz jet on the tarmac in Phoenix because he figured the jig was up and Lynch was going to bring him down with her. That’s why he went public on Hillary. Comey’s testimony to the Senate was one part trying to intimidate them with a ”if I go down, I’m taking as many of you with me as I can” and one part advertisement to turn states evidence against Lynch and others.

That ought to be enough to convince even the most skeptical observer. But if you still need more evidence, there’s this:

Conspirators plotting against Trump with Kenyan imposter in June, 2013.

Hah! Explain that photograph. If that doesn’t convince you there’s a conspiracy, then nothing will. Which makes me wonder if maybe you’re part of the Deep State anti-Trump Clinton-Obama Pedophile Death Squad your ownself. I’ve never heard you deny it. And if you deny it now, why should I believe you?

What are you talking about, brain corrosion? That you’d even suggest my brain is corroded is more evidence that you’re in cahoots with Mueller and Comey and Hillary. I need to tweet about this.