iowa kids are okay

Right, background information first. The Iowa High School Athletic Association and the Iowa Farm Bureau coordinate with the office of the Governor of Iowa to create the Iowa Governor’s Scholar program. It’s designed to honor the highest-achieving students from each of Iowa’s high schools. It seems to be largely a ceremonial thing–the students get some sort of certificate of recognition and get a chance to be photographed standing next to the governor. The governor has to sacrifice a chunk of time standing still while kids rotate in and out for their photos, but she gets some free good publicity. Everybody wins, right?

That’s what normally happens. This year, not so much. This year Gov. Kim Reynolds and the GOP-controlled legislation have enacted a number of awful MAGA-inspired laws. This year, some of the kids being honored felt compelled to speak out in protest to the Iowa GOP’s repeated attempts to turn this state in the Florida of the Midwest.

For example, this year the Iowa GOP passed a wide-ranging education bill that includes a ban of public school books that include descriptions of sex acts, It also makes it easier to remove challenged books from school libraries. The law could include everything from Catcher in the Rye to Twilight to What’s Eating Gilbert Grape to And Tango Makes Three (which is a children’s book about two bonded male penguins in the Central Park Zoo who raised a penguin chick). It’s a truly reprehensible law.

Newton HS senior Leo Friedman believes books have value.

This year, the GOP-controlled legislature also passed legislation creating what they call “education savings accounts.” This new law allows the state to use funds marked for public education to be spent instead on private education. It provides families with US$7,600 per student in public education funds which can now be used to cover private school tuition and fees. Most of those private schools, of course, are religious schools and religious schools are almost universally conservative Christian schools. This law not only undermines the purpose of secular public education, it also creates the conditions for religious/political indoctrination.

Newton HS senior Merin Pettigrew feels public funds should be used in public schools.

Also this year, Gov. Reynolds and the Iowa GOP have passed a number of anti-trans legislation. This includes barring transgender girls and women from participating in girls and women’s sports, a ban on students (and adults) using public school bathrooms and locker rooms that don’t align with their gender assigned at birth, and prohibiting minors from receiving gender-affirming care even with a parent’s or guardian’s permission. These laws not only discriminate against trans kids, it publicly marks them as dangerous, thereby putting trans kids at emotional and physical risk.

Davenport West HS senior Clementine Springsteen believes trans rights are human rights.

Springsteen wore pins stating “Trans Rights Are Human Rights” and “She Her” and as she left the stages loudly proclaimed, “Trans rights are human rights.” 

These were deliberate, thoughtful acts of civil protest against the sort of hyper-partisan political legislative movements we’re seeing in several ‘red’ states. They were acts of individual courage and integrity, done with as much respect as possible under the circumstances. Friedman said,

“I intend no disrespect to any other of the students (or attendees) there for sure. But if the governor feels disrespected, that is the purpose of the protest. Because we don’t respect what she has done recently with the laws that have been passed and the ideologies that she instilled into the government in our state.”

Springsteen, who is trans, explained why it’s critically important for trans kids to be able to affirm themselves while still in school. She came out as trans to her classmates during a speech class.

“I was terrified, obviously. But my teacher has always been really supportive. She’s always been really supportive, and there for me. As far as the class goes, there were a few there who I was really terrified of how they’d react. But I think within my speech, I’m hopeful that I managed to change their minds about the issue. I didn’t have any issues with them after that point. “

And that’s it, isn’t it. This is one of the unspoken benefits of public education. School is where kids learn how to get along with other kids, even those who are different in some way. School is where kids get exposed to new ideas, it’s where kids learn other kids can hold different views, believe different things, have different backgrounds, have different types of parents, exist in different ways, and yet can still get along with each other. School is where we begin to learn how to behave as adults.

Gov. Reynolds and the Iowa GOP need to go back to school. These kids could teach them a lot about modern life.

eclipsed from the public eye

Jesus suffering fuck. I’m old enough to remember when the New York Times editorial page was thoughtful and intelligent. I had to cancel my NYT subscription three or four years ago because it had become very much NOT thoughtful and intelligent. But every so often somebody will say, “Greg, old sock, take a look at this” and so I will take a look at it.

This is an actual sentence written by two actual people–Peter Baker and Michael Shear–who are PAID by NYT to write sentences:

The tale of two presidents on this spring afternoon, one quietly focused on technology policy, the other having his fingerprints taken, underscored the unique challenge that has confronted Mr. Biden since taking office more than two years ago. 

Okay, first there’s only ONE president at a time. I know this is quibbling, but these guys earn their living writing stuff, so we can legit quibble the fuck out of them. You got one president and one bullying jackass who used to be president. Get it right.

Second, Baker and Shear have somehow decided that President Uncle Joe, by NOT being fingerprinted after being arrested on 34 felony counts, faces ‘a unique challenge.’ What IS that challenge? It’s…and I swear I am not making this up…it’s that Biden is being “eclipsed in the public eye” by Comrade Trump. That’s like saying a nice sunny afternoon is being eclipsed in the public eye by an EF5 tornado. Baker and Shear seem to think that President Biden spending yesterday discussing policy issues involving artificial intelligence instead of being booked by NYPD for multiple felonies is a problem FOR BIDEN. That’s so massively stupid that the term ‘stupid’ isn’t sufficient to describe it.

Here’s another sentence from that same news ‘analysis’:

The White House made no effort to compete for attention with the arrest of a former president. 

Read that sentence twice. They’re saying the White House didn’t even TRY to wrangle the public eye away from a former POTUS doing a modified perp walk. As if Uncle Joe had somehow failed because he wasn’t standing on a stage waving his normal-sized hands and shouting, “HEY, LOOK AT ME!”. These guys are experienced White House correspondents; you’d think they’d understand President Uncle Joe wouldn’t even want to distract the public from this image.

Comrade Trump after being booked, on his way to being arraigned for 34 felonies.

Just look at that sad-ass, pouty motherfucker. Baker and Shear are apparently among those folks who believe these indictments (and the coming indictments) will somehow benefit Trump, that being charged with multiple felonies in multiple state and federal jurisdictions will lift Trump into the White House in 2024. I don’t know how to explain to these people that being formally accused of committing lots of crimes IS A BAD THING.

It’s a bad thing even for Comrade Trump. There aren’t going to be folks who think, “Man, I was going to vote for Democrats…but THEN THEY INDICTED TRUMP!!!” These indictments aren’t going to bring him any sympathy voters, they won’t bring him any NEW followers. The only people energized by this are folks who already support him, that solid carbon block of fascists and fuckwits who are convinced that being an arrogant asshole is an asset. They don’t care how many laws he’s accused of smashing, so long as he’s openly cruel to minorities and women and LGBTQ folks and those peculiar Christians who think Jesus wanted folks to love each other.

Here is a True Thing: most people can’t stand Comrade Donald Trump. Not just most people in the US; most people on the entire fucking globe. We KNOW him. We’ve dealt with bullying jackasses like him all our lives. The ONLY reason Trump has any political power at all is because twenty or thirty years ago the GOP began tapping into the bullying jackass demographic and succeeded in getting local bullying jackasses into positions of local authority. They’ve slowly rebuilt their party–from the ground up–into the party of bullying jackasses. Local bullying jackasses managed to change local laws making it easier for other bullying jackasses to get elected.

And pundits like Peter Baker and Michael Shear have helped them by shifting the emphasis away from being a bullying jackass to the ‘unique challenge’ of earnest candidates who are being ‘eclipsed from the public eye’ by…well, by pundits like Peter Baker and Michael Shear.

in a new york minute

Look, even the question is stupid. But I keep hearing it. “Could being indicted and arrested actually HELP Trump?”


It’s really that simple. Sure, assuming it happens (and yes, I am assuming it will–and it’s to be hoped it’ll be today because I’ve got my money on today, 22 March, as Indictment Day), it’ll piss off people who already support Trump. Will it suddenly make other voters slap their foreheads and exclaim, “I can NOT believe the government indicted a former president for paying hush money to a moderately successful porn actress to prevent her from talking about their sexual liaison, so now I will absolutely vote for Trump!”

No, it won’t.

Comrade Former-President Donald J. Trump behaving as expected.

There will undoubtedly be some protests by MAGA-hat wearing dolts. There will be an absurd number of news media filming these protests as if the protests are the important story, and they’ll interview the same dozen or so TrumpFlag-wrapped tuna-heads, who’ll repeat the same rancid bullshit. They may even find some guy so desperate for attention that he’ll proclaim he’d give his life for a man who cheated on his third wife shortly after she’d given birth to his fifth child by three different women. But will that translate into more votes in the 2024 election?


Trump, of course, has encouraged his followers to protest his arrest (when it happens). He wants his people out on the streets being loud and aggressive. Not necessarily loud and aggressive toward anybody or anything in particular–just loud and aggressive in a generally intimidating way. My guess is he’s hoping there will be some sort of assault on some US institution, just as there was against the US Capitol on January 6th. Because that was an indication of his power. Trump is probably feeling weak right now, and I suspect he’d happily have his people set fire to a courthouse just for that boost in his own self-importance. But his people have seen what happened to the 1/6 insurrectionists. Are there many people willing to act out and risk going to prison just to protest Trump’s right to privacy about an extramarital relationship with porn star?


To me, this seems pretty obvious. And yet the New York Times is still reporting idiotic shit like this: “[H]ow he responds to this moment could determine whether he continues to stabilize his standing as the Republican presidential front-runner.” We KNOW how he’ll respond to this. Everybody knows how he’ll respond. He’ll respond to this the same way he responds to everything. He’ll lie. He’ll throw a tantrum. He’ll blame everybody but himself. He’ll threaten. He’ll try to get his supporters to terrorize his detractors. He’ll insult everybody who doesn’t support him. He’ll be the same Comrade Donald Fucking Trump he’s always been. Will it make a difference in his standing in the GOP?

No. No, it won’t.

The Republican Party has fucked itself. They’ve demonstrated they no longer stand for anything, they no longer believe in anything, they no longer respect anything but power. They’ve doused themselves in gasoline and given Trump a cheap-ass BIC lighter. Now they can only hope he won’t burn them all down. Will he?

Yes. Yes, he will. In a fucking New York minute.

cool down papa, don’t you blow your top

The buzzard told the monkey you are choking me.
Release your hold and i will set you free.
The monkey looked the buzzard right dead in the eye,
And said your story’s so touching, but it sounds just like a lie.

Irving Mills / Nat king cole

Two scenarios:

Scenario One: President Uncle Joe Biden’s lawyers, while going through files in an office in a private policy institute Uncle Joe used in the period between being Vice President and President, come across two files that appear to be classified. They notify the Department of Justice and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), and return the documents without being asked. The Attorney General immediately appoints a prosecutor to investigate. (Edit: apparently there were ten documents, not two.)

Scenario Two: President Comrade Trump has multiple highly classified documents transferred to his home, which is shared with a public venue. Four months later, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) asks for the return of those documents. Trump returns two dozen boxes of material, including some of the classified documents. NARA informs Trump that they’re still missing some documents, and ask him to return the rest of the material he took from the White House. Seven months later, Trump returns another dozen boxes of material. A year after Trump left office, NARA informs Trump he STILL hasn’t returned all the documents. The Department of Justice is notified. Sixteen months after Trump left office, the DOJ issues a subpoena for the return of those documents. Trump claims he’s returned everything. Eighteen months after leaving office, a federal judge issues a warrant for the FBI to search and seize the still-missing documents. They find nearly 200 classified documents, including some labeled TS/SCI (which are so secret they’re only to be read in a secure room in which no cameras or recording devices are allowed). In total, around 13,000 documents Trump wasn’t allowed to take are recovered from Mar-a-Lago. The Attorney General appoints a prosecutor to investigate the matter 23 months after Trump removed the documents.

The News Media: Both Trump and Biden in possession of classified documents! Prosecutor to investigate!

Attorney General Merrick Garland hears Trump’s attorneys.

This is absolute bullshit, of course. Biden and his lawyers acted properly. They discovered the two documents, notified the appropriate agencies, and acknowledged the mistake. Trump did the exact opposite. He deliberately removed thousands of documents, he and his lawyers resisted returning them, lied about them, and the FBI was forced to go to Mar-a-Lago in order to retrieve them.

Attorney General Merrick Garland delayed ordering a prosecutor to investigate Trump’s handling of classified documents for nearly two years, but immediately ordered one to investigate Biden’s handling of them. Why? To appear non-partisan. To avoid giving MAGA Republicans a reason to claim the DOJ is unfair. As if MAGA Republicans have any interest in Fact or Truth. MAGA Republicans will, of course, claim the two scenarios are exactly the same.

The only question is whether the news media will have the integrity to report this matter accurately. And sadly, I think we know the answer to that. Is there anything we can do about it?

Nope, not really. And let’s face it, there are more equally stupid but far more critical issues we’ll be dealing with in the very near future. In this on particular case, maybe we should consider the advice of Nat King Cole: “Cool down papa don’t you blow your top.”

getting shit done

Here’s the problem one of the countless problems with the modern Republican Party: they’ve completely abandoned the idea that the purpose of government is to get shit done.

They say they want shit done, but they’re not willing to engage in the process required to get it done. I suspect some of them mean it when they say, “There’s shit we need to get done.” But there’s a hefty chunk of the GOP that actively interferes with getting shit done simply so they can blame President Uncle Joe for failing to get shit done. They love telling everybody “Shit that needs to get done is NOT getting done, BUT if you elect us, we’ll do all kinds of shit.” Except, of course, when they get the power and authority to get shit done, they…well, they shit the bed.

We’re witnessing that right now in the food fight over electing a Speaker of the House. The most telling (and probably least discussed) aspect of this fuckparade is the simple fact that apparently nobody in the Republican House can count votes. Each of the political parties in Congress has a semi-formal position called a Party Whip. The job of the Whip is 1) to find out how members are going to vote, and 2) to try to ensure they vote the way the party wants them to vote. Right now, ain’t nobody in the House GOP doing that. Nobody seems to have reliable information on how many people are going to vote for or against Kevin McCarthy for Speaker.

Electing a Speaker of the House

As I write this, the House is getting ready for the 7th attempt to elect a Speaker of the House. With any normal political party, this would be a formality. It’s been a formality for around a century. With any normal political party, there wouldn’t BE a vote until the party was certain they had the votes necessary to win. A normal political party would want to elect a leader who’d demonstrated strength of purpose, personal integrity, strong policy views. But the modern GOP isn’t a normal political party; the man most of them want to be their leader has cravenly given in to the threats of the GOP’s most extreme elements. He’s demonstrated a moral and ethical flexibility that offends both his supporters and his opponents. Kevin McCarthy stands for nothing other than a desire to be Speaker of the House.

Here’s a True Thing: governance is about getting shit done. It’s about the dull, grinding, detailed work of talking to people you disagree with and finding ways to compromise. The modern GOP isn’t willing to do that. The modern GOP isn’t capable of that. If the Republicans, as the majority party in the House, aren’t even able to elect a leader, they’re certainly not going to be able to get any meaningful shit done.

The modern GOP is more focused on doing shit TO others than in getting shit done. They’ve ceased to be a political party; now they’re basically acting as an incubator for future Fox News hosts and right-wing media darlings.

It’s going to be a long, long two years in Congress. Assuming the House ever manages to elect a Speaker.

fractally awful

In a few short days, Republicans will assume control of the House of Representatives. That guarantees the next two years are going to be a colossal shit-show.

It’s going to be fucking awful. Worse, it’s going to be fractally awful. I mean it’s going to be awful in the same way on every scale. Individual GOP members of Congress will be awful, Congressional committees will be awful, the GOP majority in the House itself will be awful, and they’ll all be awful in a self-similar way.

Individual Republican members of Congress will lie. They’ll lie in committee meetings. The GOP led committees will build investigations around those lies. They’ll amplify the lies on GOP-friendly ‘news’ channels. They’ll use the existence of those investigations based on lies as evidence that the lies must be legit (if Congress is investigating it, there MUST be a reason for that investigation). They’ll use those lies and investigations as a mask to distract the public from their policies, many of which actively harm the US and our allies. Traditional news media will report those lies and lie-based investigations as if they’re legitimate Congressional inquiries. When it comes time for the next election, they’ll use those investigations as evidence that they were doing the will of the people.

We know they’ll do this because they’ve said they’ll do it. We know they’ll do it because they’ve done it before. When Republicans controlled the House during the Obama administration, they spent two years investigating the terrorist attack on the State Department’s unfinished diplomatic compound in Benghazi. There were eleven Congressional investigations which held as least thirty-three Congressional hearings, most of which were public.

Each of those investigations published a report. Each report concluded that nobody in the Obama administration officials had acted improperly. Each report concluded that the State Department’s security at the unfinished Benghazi compound was ‘inadequate’. None of the reports acknowledged that the security was inadequate because for two years prior to the attack, House Republicans had reduced the Obama administration’s budget request for improved diplomatic security.

The two-year-long Benghazi investigation was a political stunt. We know it was a political stunt because they basically admitted it. Kevin McCarthy, who was running to be named the Speaker of the House (just as he is now–stupid history repeats itself stupidly) basically admitted it on a Fox News interview. He said:

“Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping.”

By the way, three months after the attack on Benghazi left four members of the State Department dead, an attack on the Sandy Hook Elementary School killed six adults and twenty children (six and seven-year-old children). How many special committees did the GOP create? None. How many Congressional hearings did they hold? None. How many investigations did they launch? None.

Congress, the next two years.

That was almost exactly a decade ago, when radical Republicans in Congress were just a fringe element of the GOP. A decade later, that element is no longer the fringe; now they control the entire Republican Party. Ten years ago they ignored the murder of school kids and focused on a political stunt grounded in a legitimate tragedy. Now they’re planning to do the same, but instead of an actual tragedy, they have–and this is so fucking stupid and shameful I’m almost too embarrassed to say it–they have Hunter Biden’s laptop.

I said it was going to be a colossal shit-show. I probably understated the reality. It will almost certainly be a shit-show of Biblical proportions.

Santos Clause

Is anybody surprised? No, of course not.

Sure, Republican George Santos ran for Congress and blatantly lied about almost every aspect of his life and career. Sure, he lied about his employment, his education, his charitable work. Sure, he lied about his family, his ethnicity, probably his name, possibly his nationality. And sure, he got away with it because nobody bothered to check. He got away with it and he got elected.

After he was elected, he was exposed as a liar. Santos denied being a liar, because why start telling the truth at that point? He tried to deflect attention away from his lies, but it didn’t work. So what the hell, he admitted being a liar. He said he was elected based on his policy positions, not his resume. So what if he lied? He fully intends to serve his term in Congress.

This guy, whoever the fuck he really is.

Nobody in the GOP seems at all concerned about this. And why should they? I mean, they openly abandoned traditional conservative values when they chose Comrade Trump as their presidential candidate in 2016. Hell, they didn’t just abandon traditional conservative values, they abandoned the very idea of Truth as a valued commodity. They abandoned Science and a consistent, coherent political ideology. They abandoned the whole concept of representative democracy. They even abandoned religion as a practice, though they’ve retained the illusion of it as a tool.

George Santos doesn’t believe in anything but holding political office. He doesn’t stand for anything but holding political office. He doesn’t care for anything except holding political office. He doesn’t respect anything except…no, he doesn’t even respect the political office he wants to hold.

George Santos is the distillation of the Republican Party. A vacant husk, a soulless golem, a mindless and purposeless corruption driven by an unreasoned desire to hold power over other people, animated by rage and resentment and bitterness over the possibility of losing privilege.

Let me turn it over to Tommy Eliot.

We are the hollow men
    We are the stuffed men
    Leaning together
    Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
    Our dried voices, when
    We whisper together
    Are quiet and meaningless
    As wind in dry grass
    Or rats’ feet over broken glass
    In our dry cellar

election day

I have no idea what’s going to happen today. Neither do you.

Maybe it’ll be a quiet day. Maybe voters will line up, take their turn in the voting booth, greet each other like good citizens, then patiently wait to see the results of the election. Maybe everybody will accept those results. Maybe. But probably not.

Maybe we’ll get to see the blue wave we’ve heard so much about. Maybe Democratic voters will turn out in such massive numbers that despite the monstrous gerrymandered voting districts, Democrats will retain control of both houses of Congress. Maybe some of the worst GOP assholes will be handed their hats and told to go home. Maybe. Maybe not.

Maybe Republicans are right. Maybe voters are so afraid of imaginary enemies–of Antifa and BLM, of caravans of infected drug-toting immigrant rapists from South and Central America, of gay teachers brainwashing white hetero Christian students into becoming trans furries who drink soy lattes while using the litterbox–that they’ll vote for authoritarian leaders who’ll protect them from…something. Maybe. I hope not, but maybe.

Maybe there’ll be violence at polling sites. Long lines, political hatred, the easy availability of firearms, the loosening of restrictions limiting who can own and carry a gun and where they can legally carry them–all those things contribute to the probability of mayhem. And if schools and churches and supermarkets are vulnerable to mass shooting incidents (I fucking hate the term ‘incidents’ to describe these), will anybody be surprised to hear about one at a polling site? Maybe blood will be shed today. Maybe. Again, I hope not. But only an idiot would dismiss the possibility.

I don’t know what’s going to happen today. I don’t know what’s going to happen today partly because I don’t quite recognize the nation we’ve become.

I don’t know what’s going to happen today, but I know this: I voted. I voted for the nation I hope still exists. I voted for the nation I want us to become.

Maybe it’ll happen. Maybe not.

If you haven’t voted yet, go vote now. Vote for your lives.