not falling for it, nope

— So, did you see Mitt Romney the other day.
— No, thank Jayzus, what’d he do now?
— Marched with Black Lives Matter.
— C’mon.
— No, he did.
— Was he lost?
— No, he was marching with BLM.
— Mitt Romney?
— Mitt fucking Romney.
— Did he have, like, an armed guard?
— Looked like it was just him.
— Five bucks says he had one hand on his wallet.
— No, he was…
— And the other hand on some poor Black guy’s wallet.
— …actually marching with Black Lives Matter. I’m not making this up.
— Was he toting a sign that said ‘All lives matter’?
— No, he…somebody asked him why he was marching and he said…and I’m really, truly not making this up, he said something about violence and brutality, and then he said it was “to make sure that people understand that Black lives matter.”

— Mitt Romney?
— I know, right?
— I mean, just a few months ago Pete Buttigieg was still saying ‘All lives matter’ and he’s a damned Democrat.
— I don’t know how to explain it. He took a selfie of himself in the march.
— Okay, that’s just…Mitt Romney took a selfie in a BLM march. I did NOT see that coming.
— We live in curious times, my friend.
— Did he say the death of George Floyd was ‘a tragic mistake’ or ‘an unfortunate event’?
— He called it a murder.
— Bullshit.
— Straight up called it a murder.
— Are you sure this was Mitt Romney?
— I swear on my signed first edition of Neuromancer.
— I don’t know quite what to make of this.
— It sorta kinda gives me hope. I mean, there’s a
— Stop it. Just stop. You’re not going to trick me into having hope. Fuck you.
— But, what if…
— I’m not listening I’m not listening Neenah neenah neenah just fucking stop.
— Okay.
— I’m not falling for it.
— Okay.
— I’m not.
— …
— God damn it.

change gonna come

Every time the United States is coping with widespread rioting sparked by racism and police violence during an economic crisis caused by the near-collapse of the national healthcare system overloaded by an inept and indifferent response to a global pandemic taking place a few months before the most critical presidential election in the history of this nation pitting an essentially decent, good-hearted but bumbling old white man against a malignant, mendacious, ignorant old white man, I am reminded of the words of the Poet Sam Cooke.

A change gonna come.

It has been a long time coming. I don’t know what the change will be, but it’s coming. There’s no guarantee the change will be a good one. But all the same, it’s coming. I’m scared to be very hopeful, I really am. I know the change — even if it’s a good one, even if it’s the change I want — won’t be nearly enough to make everything right. But it’s coming, and it’ll bring some clarity. In a few short months, things will start to get better. Or they’ll start to get much worse. But a change gonna come.

You can’t dodge it. You can’t stop it. You can work to make it the change you want, but it’s coming. You can organize, you can protest, you can sit at home and binge watch television, you can throw stones, you can vote, you can wear a mask, you can ignore science, you can pray to any entity you can believe in, you can burn the motherfucker down, you can donate money, you can buy a t-shirt with a slogan on it, you can bake bread, you can call names, you can close your eyes and hope it all goes away, but it won’t. You know it won’t. You know it won’t.

Change gonna come.

killed by indifference

A lot has been written about the way George Floyd was killed. I think most of what I’ve read gets the story wrong. People have called it a deliberate murder. They’ve said it was a result of racial animus. They’ve described it as a hate crime.

I don’t think that’s entirely correct. I think it was something even worse. I think it was an act of casual indifference.

I don’t know what motivated Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer who kept his knee on Floyd’s neck. How could I? But from watching the video, my sense is that Chauvin wasn’t angry. He wasn’t scared. He didn’t feel threatened. He wasn’t nervous or alarmed or even annoyed. Chauvin, to me, seemed unconcerned, not just about what was he was doing, but also to what was taking place around him. He seemed unmoved by it all.

That’s what I saw in the video. Chauvin just didn’t care. He was unmoved by Floyd’s pleas for help. He had no concern about Floyd’s well-being. Floyd simply didn’t matter; not as a suspect in a crime, not as a citizen of Minneapolis, not as a member of the public Chauvin was sworn to protect, not even as a fellow human being. Chauvin just didn’t care.

I’ve heard folks use the phrase ‘man’s inhumanity to man’ when talking about this killing. I’m not seeing that. I’m not convinced Chauvin saw Floyd as a fellow human being, as a person with the same thoughts and passions and feelings and dreams and concerns shared by every other human being.

Elie Wiesel, a Romanian Jew who survived the Nazi Holocaust — who survived being interned in the Máramarossziget ghetto, who survived both the Auschwitz concentration camp and the death camp at Buchenwald — had this to say:

The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of beauty is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, but indifference between life and death.

Would Chauvin have done the same thing to a white person? I don’t know; maybe. Possibly. Probably, depending on the social status of the person. But it’s hard to imagine racism not playing a role in the killing. Certainly, racism was involved in the police response to the inevitable protest afterwards. We didn’t see any tear gas or rubber bullets used against any of the lockdown protesters, did we.

The face of indifference.

In the end, it comes down to callous disregard for George Floyd. Floyd just didn’t matter. His suffering didn’t matter. His pleas for help didn’t matter. His civil rights didn’t matter. His life didn’t matter. Nor do the lives of his family and friends and, in an ever expanding circle, the lives of people of color in Minneapolis, in Minnesota, in the United States.

It’s not just George Floyd who didn’t matter. Of the 100,000 American deaths from Covid-19 over the last four months, 56.5% have been non-white. Only 28% of the US population is non-white. This is no coincidence. Apply that same metric to incarceration, to wealth, to general health care, to arrest rates, to infant mortality, to employment, to just about any social criterion in the United States.

Indifference is the key to inhumanity. George Floyd was killed by indifference. He simply didn’t matter.

honoring their sacrifice

— Ordinary People: Just curious here, but how come y’all didn’t arrest those two guys who shot and killed Ahmaud Arbery a couple of months ago?
— State of Georgia: Well, we were busy.
— Ordinary People: Busy?
— State of Georgia: You know…dealing with that Cabronivirus hoax thang.
— Ordinary People: Coronavirus?
— State of Georgia: That’s it.
— Ordinary People: But y’all re-opened Georgia for business on April 21st.
— State of Georgia: Don’t it make you proud to be an American? Freedom, baby.
— Ordinary People: So why haven’t those two guys who shot and killed Ahmaud Arbery been arrested and charged with murder?
— State of Georgia: We will, we will. You just hafta be patient. We gotta wait until a grand jury can be held to consider the evidence.
— Ordinary People: When will that happen?
— State of Georgia: Oh, probably by mid-June.
— Ordinary People: Why can’t we do that now?
— State of Georgia: Courts are closed. That Wooham Cabronivirus thing.
— Ordinary People: Are you fucking kidding me?
— State of Georgia: Nope.
— Ordinary People: You opened barbershops and nail salons.
— State of Georgia: Yes, we did. Free enterprise is what makes America great.
— Ordinary People: You opened gyms, for fuck’s sake.
— State of Georgia: Got to get our exercise. A fit nation is a free nation.
— Ordinary People: But you can’t open the courts?
— State of Georgia: Well, we got to be careful and be sensible about this.
— Ordinary People: Those two guys hunted Ahmaud Arbery.
— State of Georgia: Well, now, that hasn’t been proved.
— Ordinary People: They admitted it. They admitted they saw him running in their neighborhood on a Sunday afternoon, they admitted they thought…they thought…he looked like somebody seen on security camera footage committing a break-in in their neighborhood, so they grabbed their guns, hopped in their truck and went hunting for them.
— State of Georgia: All Americans got the right to protect their property.

Another unfortunate Cabronivirus death.

— Ordinary People: He was just running.
— State of Georgia: He grabbed for their gun.
— Ordinary People: Because they were pointing it at him.
— State of Georgia: He thought his life was in danger.
— Ordinary People: Exactly!
— State of Georgia: No, I mean the white guy.
— Ordinary People: The white guy with the gun thought his life was in danger by the black guy jogging?
— State of Georgia: The law says you got the right to protect yourself.
— Ordinary People: Didn’t Ahmaud Arbery have the right to protect himself?
— State of Georgia: That’s why we got to have us a grand jury. To figure out what happened.
— Ordinary People: We know what happened.
— State of Georgia: It’ll all come out in the testimony.
— Ordinary People: Ahmaud Arbery is too dead to testify.
— State of Georgia: And that’s unfortunate, but the law’s the law. We’ll get to that grand jury just as soon as we can.
— Ordinary People: It won’t help Ahmaud Arbery.
— State of Georgia: And that’s a shame, sure is. That Cabronivirus, it’s killed a lot of good Georgians.
— Ordinary People: Jesus suffering fuck.
— State of Georgia: We need to honor their sacrifice by letting decent folks get back to work at the chicken processing plants.

a hold on the cranky pants

Hey, you guys! Remember when Comrade Trump got all cranky-pants over NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem on account of they hated America and were black (not necessarily in that order)? And remember when the big hats of the NFL (hint: rich white guys) decided to make Trump uncranky by coming up with policy that said Dude, you can stand for the national anthem or you can park your ass inside the locker room, but we ain’t having you taking no knee in public like some communist or something? Remember that?

Well you can stop remembering it. On account of it doesn’t apply anymore. For the moment. The NFL Players Association responded to the NFL’s Park Your Ass rule by saying, “What? You got to be joking, right? I mean, c’mon, this is America.”

Then what happened is this: the Associated Press (aka Enemy of the People) got hold of the Miami Dolphins’ new code of player conduct. Which basically said, Dude, you violate the rule and take a knee during the anthem, then you don’t get to play for, like, four games. And the NFLPA said, “What? You got to be joking, right? Four games? I mean, c’mon, you don’t get sat down for four games if you beat up your girlfriend or get caught with drugs. Four games? Seriously?”

So the NFLPA filed a grievance, because c’mon, four games. And the NFL said, “Whoa, let’s not get hasty here. Baby, you know I really love you.” So now the NFL and the NFLPA are in Football Couples Therapy, trying to make things work and rekindle their old romance. They released a joint statement.

The NFL and NFLPA, through recent discussions, have been working on a resolution to the anthem issue. In order to allow this constructive dialogue to continue, we have come to a standstill agreement on the NFLPA’s grievance and on the NFL’s anthem policy. No new rules relating to the anthem will be issued or enforced for the next several weeks while these confidential discussions are ongoing.

See that ‘constructive dialogue’ bit? Totally right out of the couples therapy handbook. Pretty soon I expect a mediator will sit both the NFL and the NFLPA down and tell them, “Look, you can be right…or you can be in a relationship.”

The joint statement also included some bullshit about “reflect[ing] the great values of America” which I don’t quite understand. I mean, we’re talking about a group of genetic mutants who dress in high-tech protective gear in order to repeatedly bang into each other with enough force that almost half of the current players show some evidence of traumatic brain injuries and 96% of autopsied players (don’t panic — they wait until the players are actually certified dead before doing the autopsy) displayed chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

Maybe it’s just me, but I’m not sure I want folks giving themselves brain damage for public entertainment to be one of the “great values of America.” But hey, the good news is that the people who pummel each other for our amusement may not be forced choose between engaging in a peaceful protest or parking their asses in a locker room. At least not for a while.

This may all change when Comrade Trump hears about it and it’s time to rile up the rubes before the mid-term elections.

ADDENDUM: Comrade Trump tweeted (of course) about this last night:

The NFL National Anthem Debate is alive and well again – can’t believe it! Isn’t it in contract that players must stand at attention, hand on heart? The $40,000,000 Commissioner must now make a stand. First time kneeling, out for game. Second time kneeling, out for season/no pay!

Uh, no. It’s NOT in the contract that players must stand at attention, hand on heart. As far as that goes, no, it’s not a National Anthem debate. It’s a police misconduct debate that Comrade Trump hijacked for racist, political reasons. And I think the American people must now take a stand. First time complicity with Russia, lose the midterm elections. Second time complicity, out of office.

 

the dignity of the office

President Obama appears in a BuzzFeed video promoting the Affordable Care Act.

FOXNews: “I yearn for my president looking presidential and serious right now.”

George Will: “Some people think this diminishes the presidency.”

President Obama in a radio interview with Marc Maron speaking about racism: “It’s not just a matter of it not being polite to say the word ‘nigger’ in public.”

FOXNews: “It’s outrageous, David. I think he has absolutely lowered the standard in terms of being president of the United States.”

“I’ll tell you this, [people are] probably wondering why Barack Obama still has a job.”

President Obama appears on Funny or Die and other web/YouTube channels.

Washington Times: “Mr. Obama is the Rodney Dangerfield of presidents, showing the office no respect.”

Rush Limbaugh: “You talk about beneath the dignity of the office, maybe setting a new low. President Obama with YouTube interviews.”

President Obama orders a hamburger with Dijon mustard.

Sean Hannity: “As you know President Obama is a real man of the people and yesterday he dropped by a popular Virginia restaurant to grab a burger with his pal Joe. Now the Gateway Pundit blog pointed out that plain old ketchup, well it didn’t quite cut it for the president. Now take a look at him ordering his burger with a very special condiment.”

Laura Ingraham: “What kind of man orders a cheeseburger without ketchup but Dijon mustard?”

President Obama criticizes FOXNews in a speech.

FOXNews: ” It’d be nice if Obama respected the office. When he does things like this, it diminishes not just him but the office itself.”

President Obama mocks climate change deniers.

Freedom Foundation: “Barack Obama demeaned the dignity of the presidency by ridiculing tens of thousands of scientists for simply disagreeing with his lay opinions on global warming.”

President Obama wore casual clothing into the Oval Office on a weekend.

Andrew Card (in a right-wing radio interview): “I’m disappointed to see the casual, laissez faire, short sleeves, no shirt and tie, no jacket, kind of locker room experience that seems to be taking place in this White House and the Oval Office.”

President Obama mentions the death of Osama bin Laden in a campaign speech.

Pat Buchanan: “And the great asset the President has is the Oval Office, the presidency of the United States. He is diminishing that by using events which are national events as partisan events.”

President Obama is photographed with his feet on his desk in the Oval Office.

FOXNews: “Obama is disrespecting the Oval Office.”

President Obama talks about birth control.

Andrea Tantaros / FOXNews: “Don’t you think it diminishes the office of the president, talking about condoms?”

President Obama states Congressional Republicans are deliberately blocking his agenda.

John Boehner: “[His] flippant dismissal of the Constitution is utterly beneath the dignity of the office,”

Obama criticizes Republicans while campaigning for Harry Reid.

Dana Perino (FOXNews / former Bush press secretary): “The divisive rhetoric that he’s used seems to me beneath the office.”

Marco Rubio: “I think he unnecessarily demonizes his opponents. It’s not that there’s a disagreement on policies. He actually wants to convince people that you are a bad person. He has not conducted himself with the dignity that is worthy of that office.”

President Obama criticizes FOXNews.

Karl Rove: “The president of United States should not be afraid of coming on Fox News, nor should the president of the United States diminish his office by seeming to engage in a petty fight with the — with the — with a network himself.”

I miss the days when conservatives cared so deeply about the dignity of the office of President of These United States.

Editorial Note: Conservatives did NOT actually claim ordering a cheeseburger with Dijon mustard diminished the office of the president; they merely implied ordering a cheeseburger with any mustard other than yellow mustard was unAmerican. And probably gay. Possibly a wink at ISIS.

many sides

The president — and man, I cannot tell you how it sickens me to refer to that colossal lying fuckwit as ‘the president’ — said this in response to the violence in Charlottesville yesterday:

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides. On many sides.”

Fuck you. Fuck you from many sides. Only one side decided to gather at Charlottesville to champion hate and white supremacy. Only one side arrived carrying firearms and wearing military gear. Only one side carried flags made infamous by genocide, and flags made infamous by lynching and church-bombing and racial assassination. For that matter, only one side wore MAGA hats. The truth that only one side instigated the violence is so obvious that to dispute it is, in effect, to support and promote the violence. Which is exactly what the president did. So fuck you, Trump, fuck you and your lies about many sides.

There was only one side that Made America Ashamed Again. That side could be represented by Vanguard America, a group devoted to what they call ‘American fascism.’ Those polo-shirted fuckwits toting tiki torches and shouting “Blood and soil” on Friday night? They were chanting the motto of Vanguard America. This group advocates one side supremacy. Given the power, they wouldn’t allow many sides to even exist. The Vanguard America manifesto specifically calls for an:

America based on the immutable truths of Blood and Soil. A multicultural nation is no nation at all, but a collection of smaller ethnic nations ruled over by an overbearing tyrannical state. Our America is to be a nation exclusively for the White American peoples who out of the barren hills, empty plains, and vast mountains forged the most powerful nation to ever have existed.

The most powerful nation, there’s the clue. Not the greatest nation, not the most civilized, not the most free, not a nation of many sides, not the most open or the most welcoming nation. The most powerful. You know who wants the most powerful nation? People who are afraid. People who are afraid and want to dominate those they’re afraid of. People who hate. People who drive muscle cars (of course, it would be a muscle car) into a crowd of peaceful protesters.

James Alex Fields, the driver of that car, was associated with Vanguard America. They deny he was a member, of course, despite the fact he was photographed with the group yesterday, carrying a Vanguard shield and dressed in their usual Vanguard-emblazoned white polo shirt and khaki pants. Have you noticed how often groups that espouse the belief that only one side is legitimate tend to wear uniforms?

Blood and soil. Only one side at Charlottesville was eager to spill blood on the soil.

Me, I like a many-sided world. I love a many-sided world. I may not like or agree with some of those sides, but a many-sided world is a healthier, a more vital and a more interesting world. Yet the only time Trump and his hate group supporters refer to many sides is when they’re trying to diffuse responsibility, when they’re trying to spread the blame, when they’re trying to dodge their own culpability.

Trump is culpable. Not for the racism or white supremacy or hate itself, but for nurturing and encouraging racism and white supremacy and hate. He created a petri dish of racial resentment and gender hostility and class rage that spawned what happened over the last couple of days in Charlottesville. He didn’t drive that car into the crowd, but he helped create an environment that made it possible for James Alex Fields to do it.

 

dead or not dead! it’s america’s game!

Okay, let’s play a game. I give you a scenario, you decide if the person in the scenario ends up dead or not dead. It’s fun!

Scenario 1: Police in Denton, Texas respond to a report of an angry man with a rifle. On arrival, they find a 22-year-old man carrying a loaded AR-15 semi-automatic rifle is confronting a 69-year-old protester carrying a sign. The armed man, described by witnesses as ‘unreasonable and agitated,’ is white. Is he Dead or Not Dead?

NOT DEAD! The police requested the armed man carry his rifle slung over his shoulder and allow him to leave without shooting him anywhere at all.

Scenario 2: Police in rural Georgia pull over a driver for an ‘unspecified traffic offense.’ According to the police, the 30-year-old man immediately “exhibited aggression toward the officers.” The driver identified himself as belonging to a radical group with a long history of violence against law enforcement officers. When ordered out of the vehicle, the driver reached for a gun. The police officers, fearing for their safety, responded by breaking the car window and forcibly removing the man — at which point the man reached for a second gun holstered in the small of his back. The driver is white. Is he Dead or Not Dead?

NOT DEAD! Although the police seized a 9mm handgun, a .45 caliber handgun, a .40 caliber handgun, a .44 magnum caliber short rifle, and a .223 caliber AR-15 format carbine (all of which were loaded and had rounds in the chamber), they managed to arrest the driver without shooting him even once.

Scenario 3: Cleveland police respond to a telephone report of a person with a gun in a local park. The caller stated the person “is probably a juvenile” and described the gun as “probably fake.” On arrival, the police confront a 12-year-old boy with an Airsoft gun. The boy is black. Is he Dead or Not Dead?

DEAD! The police shot the boy twice in the first two seconds after exiting their vehicle. They also failed to perform any first aid. He died the following day.

Your turn to play! Three of these contestants will be Not Dead! Which one will fail to make it to the next round? Dead or Not Dead!

Your turn to play! Three of these contestants will be Not Dead! Which one will fail to make it to the next round? Dead or Not Dead!

Scenario 4: Kalamazoo police respond to multiple reports of an intoxicated man on a busy street carrying a rifle and shouting obscenities and threats of revolution. They arrive to find a 63-year-old man who refuses their orders to drop his weapon. Michigan is an ‘open carry’ state, which allows citizens to openly carry firearms. The man is white. Is he Dead or Not Dead?

NOT DEAD! The police spent forty minutes discussing the 2nd Amendment with the drunk man, failing to shoot him at all. He eventually agreed to surrender his rifle — which was returned to him by the police on the following day.

Scenario 5: Police in Beavercreek, Ohio respond to a report of a man with a gun in a local Wal-Mart. On arrival, the officers observe a 22-year-old man carrying a firearm in a non-threatening way and talking on a cell phone. They order him to drop the weapon. According to the police, the man doesn’t immediately do so. Ohio is an ‘open carry’ state, which allows citizens to openly carry firearms. The man is black. Is he Dead or Not Dead?

DEAD! The gun was a BB gun the man had picked up in the Sporting Goods section of Wal-Mart. The man was shot twice within moments of being confronted by police.

Scenario 6: New Orleans police respond to a report of an armed man breaking into a home, threatening the occupants, stealing some of their possessions, and firing a shot through the window before escaping. As he’s running away, the gunman threatens a number of nearby construction workers. Officers give chase to the 19-year-old man, who soon accosts a man in a pickup. The man and his five year old son managed to avoid injury although the gunman fires five shots at them, striking the windshield, the rear window, and the truck’s fender. The police manage to catch the gunman, who points his handgun at them. They order him to drop his weapon. He refuses, telling the police, “No, you drop your fucking guns.” The gunman is white. Is he Dead or Not Dead?

NOT DEAD! The police managed to catch him and arrest him without shooting him even once.

Come on,. America! Join in on the fun! Dead or Not Dead. New contestants every day! Look for DoND in your hometown! It’s America’s hottest game!