toggle election

Republican Friend: I’ve been a moderate Republican all my life. I voted for Trump last time, but I didn’t think he’d actually win. I can’t bring myself to vote for him this time.
Me: Great. Glad to hear it.
RF: Don’t be too glad. I’m not voting for Biden either.
Me: Those are the only choices. Trump or Biden.
RF: I’m voting for Jo Jorgensen.
Me: Who?
RF: Jo Jorgensen.
Me: Who is Jo Jorgensen when she’s at home?
RF: She’s the Libertarian candidate.
Me: So you’re voting for Trump.
RF: No, I’m voting for Jorgensen.
Me: Same thing.
RF: No, it’s not. I’m voting my conscience.
Me: Bullshit. You’re dodging your conscience.
RF: No, I’m not. I said I can’t bring myself to vote for…
Me: Yeah, I know what you said. And I know what you meant. You mean you don’t want to feel any responsibility if Trump is re-elected.
RF: No, that’s not it.
Me: Bullshit. That’s exactly it. You don’t want to vote for Trump, but you’re not going to do anything to prevent him from being re-elected. You’re more concerned with soothing your conscience than with protecting the Constitution.
RF: That’s not true. Biden won’t fix the nation’s prob…
Me: Does Jo Jorgensen have a popcorn fart’s chance of winning?
RF: No, but that’s not the point. The point is…
Me: Fuck your point. This is a toggle election. The choices are truly binary. Yes or no. Up or down. On or off. Biden or Trump. Those are the only choices.
RF: I have to vote my conscience.
Me: Fuck you and fuck your conscience. You’re a coward.
RF: I’m not a…
Me: You’re dodging all personal responsibility to act for the good of the nation. It’s no different than saying you oppose the pandemic but won’t wear a mask. Fuck you.
RF: It’s not like that at all.
Me: Did I just say ‘Fuck you’? I believe I did. Fuck you again.
RF: Are you angry with me?
Me: Shut up. Go away. Fuck you and everybody you know, you fucking coward.
RF: I understand you’re upset.
RF: Hello?
Former Republican Friend: Hello?

gloom of trump

You’ve heard it a million times, often incorrectly. Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds. It’s the creed of the United States Post Office.

The Post Office is maybe the most democratic institution in all of These United States. You put any sort of reasonable address on an envelope, slap a fifty-five cent stamp on it, stick it in your mailbox and the Post Office will send somebody right to your house, fetch that envelope right outa your mail box, and carry it to that address, usually within one to three business days.

Delivering mail in the rain during a damn pandemic.

Don’t matter if that address is in Manhattan or Boise or some farm house outside of Broken Bow, Nebraska. Some poor carrier in Sidney, Montana has to drive a mail route nearly two hundred miles long to deliver the mail to 272 mailboxes. There are 176 folks who live along a 30-mile stretch of the Magnolia River in Alabama who get their mail delivered by boat. A native tribe, the Havasupai, who live at the bottom of the Grand Canyon get their mail after an eight-mile trip down the canyon using mules. Mules. You got a legit address, the Post Office will deliver your mail. And yeah, even if it’s raining or snowing or hot or gloomy AF.

Delivering mail by a damn mule train.

The USPS isn’t perfect, but considering the massive scale and scope of their mission they do a damned good job. Again, First Class postage is only fifty-five cents. If somebody asked me to walk the thirty feet to my mailbox in the rain in exchange for fifty-five cents, I’d tell them to piss off.

But Comrade Donald Trump is deliberately wrecking the Postal Service. Deliberately. And he’s doing it for the most corrupt reason: to make it harder for US citizens to vote during a pandemic.

He replaced the Postmaster General — Megan Brennan, a woman whose 34-year career with the USPS began as a letter carrier, who was familiar with every operation inside the USPS from personal experience — with Louis DeJoy, a man with no USPS experience at all. DeJoy is a major donor to the Trump campaign; over the last four years he and his wife have contributed more than US$2 million to the Trump campaign and other Republican causes. Trump is also considering DeJoy’s wife to be Ambassador to Canada. In her financial disclosure statement, she noted she and her husband own “between $30.1 million and $75.3 million in assets in USPS competitors or contractors.”

Delivering mail in a damn boat on a damn river.

That’s what we call ‘a conflict of interest’. Any harm DeJoy does to the USPS not only helps Trump, it helps DeJoy’s businesses. He was obligated to divest himself of those holdings within 30 days of his appointment. Has he? We don’t know. He’s stated “I’ve done what is necessary to ensure that I am and will remain in compliance with those obligations” but I confess I find it impossible to uncritically accept the word of any Trump appointee.

Since his appointment in June, DeJoy has 1) instituted policies that deliberately slow mail delivery, 2) discontinued the practice of carriers delivering mail by the end of the day if it results in overtime, 3) informed the states they can no longer mail ballots to voters at the bulk rate of 20 cents but must pay the First Class rate of 55 cents (nearly tripling the cost of mailing ballots), 4) reassigned or displaced thirty-three senior USPS officials who have decades of experience, disrupting the chain of command, 5) instituted a hiring freeze, and 6) encouraged career USPS officials to take early retirement.

That’s just since the middle of June.

Delivering mail in a damn snowstorm.

This isn’t just Trump eroding faith in a trusted US institution, it’s deliberate sabotage of the Postal Service. It’s clearly intended to disrupt mail service as we approach an election that very likely will hinge on mail-in ballots. And Republicans in Congress will aid and abet Trump in another step toward authoritarian government.

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds. But Trump will.

safe to assume

This is just my opinion, but it seems to me that the Trump administration has demonstrated an uncanny ability to do the worst possible thing at the worst possible moment for the worst possible reasons. For example, changing the process for reporting Covid-19 cases during the biggest spike in Covid-19 cases.

Even if we give the Trump administration the benefit of the doubt (stop laughing, it’s just a hypothetical example) and accept that they just want to ‘streamline’ the reporting process, it’s still a phenomenally idiotic point in time to do it. I mean, the CDC has been collecting and reporting hospitalization data for decades. Everybody is familiar with the system, everybody knows what to do, everybody knows the data is unfiltered by the government and pretty reliable. Everybody knows they can use that data as a foundation for planning.

Why are all these refrigerated trucks parked outside of hospitals? It’s a mystery.

Sure, that system is being challenged by a shocking number of Covid-19 cases. We’re talking about national daily infection rates of more than 50,000 new cases a day. A day, for fuck’s sake. Tens of thousands of cases every day from thousands of health care centers scattered all over the US. The fact that the CDC’s system is handling and publicly reporting all that data shows how stable and robust it is.

But the Trump administration has decided to route that data through a private corporation. A private corporation run by a Trump supporter. A Trump supporter and long-time GOP donor who got the US$10.2 million contract through a no-bid process. A contract that requires health care centers to learn an unfamiliar protocol that includes several additional types of data, some of which isn’t usually collected by some state health agencies. The phrase ‘recipe for disaster’ comes to mind.

The worst possible decision at the worst possible time for the worst possible reasons. Well, I’m assuming the worst possible reasons. It’s safe to assume the Trump administration is acting out of the worst possible reasons, because that so often turns out to be the case. It’s theoretically possible somebody in the administration truly and sincerely believes the shift in data collection is being done to make the process more transparent and more simple. But there are people in the Trump administration who truly and sincerely believe prayer is an effective tool in the fight against gun violence. And teen pregnancy. And climate change. And, I don’t know, forest fires. Halitosis. The outcome of football games.

This isn’t to suggest Comrade Trump is actually driving refrigerated body trucks. He doesn’t have a commercial driver’s licence.

So yeah, it’s probably safe to assume this plan to shift Covid-19 data collection from a familiar robust system used by the CDC to a new protocol created by a private company owned by a Trump supporter is designed to control what information the public gets. To turn the data into a political tool. To cook the books and make the pandemic seem somewhat less catastrophic than it is. To benefit Trump.

It’s safe to assume everything Trump does is to benefit Trump. Everything.

abuse of power

On 5 February of this year the United States Senate acquitted Comrade Trump on two impeachment charges: obstruction of Congress and abuse of power. In the 157 days since then, Trump has:

  1. Fired Joseph Maguire, the acting Director of National Intelligence (‘acting’ because Trump fired DNI Dan Coats in August, 2019) because his subordinate Shelby Pierson, an expert on election security, had briefed members of the House Intelligence Committee saying Russia interfered in the 2020 election to help Trump. Maguire was replaced by Richard Grenell, a vocal Trump supporter.
  2. Fired Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the Director for European Affairs for the National Security Council, who testified in the impeachment trial. He also fired Vindman’s twin brother, Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman.
  3. Fired Gordon Sondland, the Ambassador to the European Union, who testified in the impeachment trial.
  4. Fired John Rood, the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, who had certified that Ukraine had met all the anti-corruption standards, making it eligible for the foreign aid Trump wanted to withhold in exchange for ‘a favor’.
  5. Fired Michael Atkinson, Inspector General of the Intelligence Community, because he found a whistleblower complaint involving Trump’s Ukraine call to be credible and forwarded it to Congress, as required by law.
  6. Fired Glenn Fine, acting Inspector General of the Department of Defense, who’d been appointed to head the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee which oversaw the spending of Covid-19 funds voted by Congress.
  7. Fired Christi Grimm, the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services who’d filed a report saying that the nation’s hospitals were suffering from severe shortages of personal protective equipment and testing supplies, contrary to Trump’s claims.
  8. Fired Steve Linick, the Inspector General of the State Department, who was conducting an investigation into whether Sec. of State Pompeo had used government employees to run personal errands for him.
  9. Fired Mitch Behm, the acting inspector general for the Department of Transportation and a member of the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, who was investigating a claim that DOT Secretary Elaine Chao had given preferential treatment to the state of Kentucky, which is represented by her husband, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
  10. Pardoned 1) Lt. Michael Behenna, who’d been convicted of murdering an Iraqi civilian and sentenced to 20 years, 2) Conrad Black, a friend/supporter/biographer of Trump, convicted of mail fraud and obstruction of justice, sentenced to 3.5 years, 3) Pat Nolan, Republican lawmaker convicted of racketeering and soliciting illegal campaign donations, sentenced to three years, 4) Maj. Mathew Goldsteyn, charged with murdering an Afghan citizen, pardoned before trial, 5) Lt. Clint Lorance, convicted of two counts of murder, attempted murder, witness tampering, and obstruction of justice, sentenced to 19 years, 6) David Safavian, Republican lawyer/lobbyist, Administrator for Federal Procurement Policy, convicted of obstruction of justice and three counts of perjury, sentenced to six years, 7) Bernard Kerik, Trump supporter, former NYPD commissioner, Fox News consultant, convicted of tax evasion and sentenced to four years.
  11. Commuted criminal sentences for 1) Ted Suhl, who ran faith-based behavioral healthcare treatment centers for juveniles in Arkansas, a friend of Trump supporter Mike Huckabee, convicted of bribery, sentenced to seven years, 2) Rod Blagojevich, former Gov. of Illinois and contestant on Trump’s Apprentice reality show, convicted of extortion and 10 counts of wire fraud, sentenced to 14 years, 3) Judith Negron, friend of Kim Kardashian, convicted of multiple counts of healthcare fraud and money laundering, sentence to 35 years and US$87.5 million in restitution, 4) Roger Stone, friend and associate of Trump and career Republican ratfucker, convicted of seven felonies, sentenced to four years.

That’s what Trump has done in the 157 days since Republicans in the Senate voted to acquit him of abuse of power. There are still 115 days until the presidential election. There are 79 days between election day and inauguration day. Assuming Trump loses the 2020 election, that means he has 194 days to continue to abuse his powers.

(Photo: Jim Vondruska)

We know Republicans in Congress won’t act to stop his abuses. We know Attorney General William Barr will enable Trump to continue to abuse his power. We know that Democrats in Congress will be outraged and complain, but are either too timid or too disheartened to even try to hold him accountable.

That means the only real resistance will come from us, from the people, through whatever legal and semi-legal means we have available. If we give up as well, then there’s really no hope left for the United States.

everything would have been knocked down

Task force. Originally, it was a naval term. Specialized ships from different fleets and squadrons would be temporarily assembled to work as a group to perform a single defined task or activity. After the mission was accomplished, the various ships would return to their normal duties. The ‘task force’ concept has been widely adapted.

Comrade Trump signs an executive order creating a task force to protect…wait…statues?

It’s a great concept, an effective administrative tool, and if used wisely, a task force can be incredibly efficient. If used wisely is the operative phrase in that sentence. Here’s an example of the wise use of a task force. In 2013, the Obama administration created the Pandemic Prediction and Forecasting Science and Technology Working Group. It was comprised of members from eighteen different federal departments and agencies, including the National Security Council, the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Office of Management and Budget, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Department of Defense.

Mass burial of Covid-19 victims.

Their job was to “mitigate large‐scale outbreaks by predicting more accurately when and where outbreaks are likely to occur, and how they will progress.” They did this by monitoring and analyzing a myriad of minor social disruptions which, on their own, might not be alarming, but when considered in context could indicate a potential disease outbreak. If, say, the price of pork in Country A suddenly increases, it could mean the hog farmers in Province X have been forced to slaughter a lot of their stock because of a localized swine disease. Taken in conjunction with an increase in Province X’s hospitalizations for flu-like syndrome, it could suggest the first seeds of an epidemic. Task force experts could then be sent to Province X to work with Country A to find out just what the fuck is going on. Then deal with it locally, and prevent the spread to Province Y — or worse, Country B.

Brilliant. By the way, if you’re curious, you can read a report on the PPFSTWG (which, I agree, is among the worst acronyms ever) here. And yes, this is the pandemic response team which the Trump administration disbanded because…well, who the hell knows why.

Let me repeat myself for a minute. A task for is an effective administrative tool, and if used wisely, a task force can be incredibly efficient. Here’s an example of a task force NOT used wisely. Comrade Trump has issued an executive order directing the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to create a task force to “protect historic landmarks against vandalism and destruction” from “violent anarchists and rioters”. Homeland Security, you’ll remember, is the agency created in 2002 in response to the 9/11 attacks; its stated mission is to prepare for, prevent, and respond to domestic emergencies, particularly terrorism. Now, apparently, they have to redirect resources to preventing members of the public from painting ‘Black Lives Matter’ on statues of Confederate generals.

This statue of Andrew Jackson is now safe.

You may be asking yourself if it’s really necessary to create a federal task force to protect statues. Good question. Here’s what Trump had to say about it (and I am NOT making this up):

“I took out an old act, the statues and monuments. And we’re going to have thousands of people in Washington last week. And nobody showed up because they get a 10-year jail term now. They pushed down a statue. They — they even touch anything. It’s a very tough act. You couldn’t get a thing like that approved today. I took it out and we used it and you see the difference. You haven’t seen any rights. You haven’t seen people doing things lately. And the reason is 10 years in prison. If they knocked down a statue, now it started with Confederate soldiers, and then they started hitting George Washington, Abraham Lincoln. And they started hitting Thomas Jefferson. And you know, I’m going to a very special place this weekend, as you know, very beautiful monuments called Mount Rushmore, and somebody said they want to see that come down, that’s never coming down. And we’re going to, uh, run it the way I’ve been running it. Very tough. Now, we had to see what was going on for a period of a week, week and a half. Once we saw what was going on, I did this act last week, a week ago, a little more than a week ago. And it’s been very powerful because people don’t want to go to prison for 10 years for knocking down a statue. And most of these people they’re anarchist or they’re agitators, most of them don’t even know what they’re knocking down. You know, whether it’s Andrew Jackson, they were doing Andrew Jackson the week ago. Almost got it down but I had people go in that were very strong and they went and did a good job. The ropes were up, everything was ready, we got just in time. Andrew Jackson was a great general and a good president, very good president and probably two term and we did a good job. If I weren’t here, this all of Washington would have been knocked down. That’s what would have happened. You would have had Washington knocked down with somebody like a Biden where there’s no law, there’s no order. Everything would have been knocked down, but I’m here.”

There you go. Trump’s here, with a task force. Otherwise everything would have been knocked down.

Yesterday, there were 51.097 new confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the U.S. and a butcher’s bill of over 130,000 dead. But at least Trump has saved a statue of Andrew Jackson, the president who signed the Indian Removal Act (which resulted in at least 15,000 native American deaths — or about 11.5% of a pandemic).

but not unexpected

…but not unexpected. That phrase gets a lot of exercise when we’re talking about the behavior of Comrade Donald Trump. The president’s response was irregular, but not unexpected. The president’s comments were undiplomatic, but not unexpected. It’s a nice way of saying ‘Yeah, as usual, Trump is being an asshole’.

Friday evening, Trump announced he was firing Michael Atkinson, the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community. In his letter, Trump stated, “[I]t is vital that I have the fullest confidence in the appointees serving as Inspectors General. That is no longer the case with regard to this Inspector General.”

What’s actually vital to Trump is that everybody in his administration MUST be willing to publicly support whatever crazy-ass thing Trump wants to do. Anybody who disagrees or challenges him has to go. When it comes to following the law or following Trump, the law has to step aside.

Comrade Trump signing the two-trillion-dollar covid-19 stimulus package.

Atkinson followed the law. When he received a complaint from a whistleblower in the intelligence community about Trump’s communications with the president of Ukraine, he had an obligation to determine if the complaint was credible and urgent. He decided it was, so he notified Congress — which is exactly what he was legally required to do.

From that moment on, Atkinson’s career in federal government was doomed. He followed the law instead of ‘protecting’ Trump. Same thing happened to James Comey, to Andrew McCabe, to Jeff Sessions (who actually deserved to be fired, but for other reasons), to Col. Alexander Vindman (and even his brother, for fuck’s sake, whose only sin was to be born a twin). Trump attempted to fire Robert Mueller, but couldn’t. All of that was wildly inappropriate. But not unexpected.

Trump didn’t fire Atkinson just to be vindictive. He’s also sending a message to other Inspectors General — including the newest one. That new two-trillion dollar stimulus package? One reason it was delayed was Democrats insisted the bill include a Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery — somebody to monitor how the Treasury Department hands out the loans and loan guarantees to businesses. Somebody whose job was to keep Trump corruption to a minimum. The bill also states the new IG MUST notify Congress IMMEDIATELY if the Trump administration withholds information requested by investigators. Because if there’s one thing we know for certain about Trump, it’s that he’s going to pull some sort of nasty-ass scam and then refuse to answer any questions about it.

Trump really really didn’t want a new IG to oversee the stimulus loans, but eventually he had to give in. At least in theory. But this is Comrade Donald Trump (remember in the last paragraph we said he’d pull some nasty-ass scam? Here we go.). In addition to signing the bill, Trump also issued a signing statement…you know, to ‘clarify’ how he interprets the bill. He told Congress he intended to treat the “requirement to consult with the Congress regarding executive decision-making” as “hortatory but not mandatory.” Yeah, I know…there’s no way Trump knows what ‘hortatory’ means. But basically Trump is saying he’s going to consider that ‘requirement’ to just be an earnest suggestion, which he can ignore if he wants to. He also said he won’t “treat spending decisions as dependent on prior consultation with or the approval of congressional committees,” which is a nice way of saying he intends to hand out the money to whoever the fuck he wants to and Congress can kiss his ass. He ends his signing statement by saying, “my Administration will continue the practice of treating provisions like these as advisory and non-binding.” This, in essence, is Trump making farting noises in the direction of Congress.

Comrade Trump signing a statement saying he’ll do whatever the fuck he wants regardless of the law and Congress can pull his finger.

With that signing statement and the firing of Atkinson, Trump is basically telling the new stimulus IG, “Dude, you’re just there for show. Stay quiet, don’t ask too many questions, don’t interfere, just sit in your office, look out the window, and continue to cash those sweet sweet government checks. Or say goodbye to your career and your pension, because, dude, you know I will fire your ass in a skinny minute.”

What Comrade Trump is doing is borderline illegal, immoral, pathologically unethical, utterly reprehensible, and corrupt as fuck. But not unexpected.

trump, burr, and the missing worldwide threat assessment

Here’s a curious thing. Last month Senator Richard Burr (R-North Carolina) spoke at a luncheon sponsored by the Tar Heel Circle (which is more formally known as The North Carolina State Society of Washington DC). That’s not the curious thing; members of Congress routinely meet with ‘important’ people from their home state — business owners, social leaders, local politicians.

This smarmy fucker knew.

The curious thing is what Burr told those ‘important’ people. He warned them about a virus coming to the U.S. He told them it was “much more aggressive in its transmission than anything that we have seen in recent history. It is probably more akin to the 1918 pandemic.” You know, the pandemic that killed millions of people worldwide. He talked about travel restrictions and schools closing. He talked about how the military might need to be mobilized.

Here’s another curious thing. At the same time Burr was giving his speech, Comrade Trump was assuring the public that “the coronavirus is very much under control in the USA.” He acknowledged a small number of US citizens had become ill, but “they’ve gotten very much better. Many of them are fully recovered.” We know, of course, that wasn’t true.

Had we been told the truth, the butcher’s bill wouldn’t be so high.

Here’s yet another curious thing. Every year in January or February, the US intelligence community provides the House and Senate intelligence committees with a briefing on global threats. That briefing is usually accompanied by a public hearing and the publication of an unclassified report called the Worldwide Threat Assessment. This year, the public hearing for the 2020 Worldwide Threat Assessment was canceled. It hasn’t been rescheduled. The report, which is usually unclassified, was suddenly classified.

One more curious thing: Senator Richard Burr, who issued that dire warning to the ‘important’ people of the Tar Heel Circle, is the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. The committee that first learns the details of the Worldwide Threat Assessment.

More curious things. In 2017, the Worldwide Threat Assessment said this about the threat to public health:

“A novel or reemerging microbe that is easily transmissible between humans and is highly pathogenic remains a major threat because such an organism has the potential to spread rapidly and kill millions.”

The 2018 WTA:

“A novel strain of a virulent microbe that is easily transmissible between humans continues to be a major threat, with pathogens such as H5N1 and H7N9 influenza and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus having pandemic potential if they were to acquire efficient human-to-human transmissibility… a severe global influenza pandemic could cost the equivalent of 4.8 percent of global GDP—more than $3 trillion—and cause more than 100 million deaths.”

The 2019 WTA:

“We assess that the United States and the world will remain vulnerable to the next flu pandemic or largescale outbreak of a contagious disease that could lead to massive rates of death and disability, severely affect the world economy, strain international resources, and increase calls on the United States for support.”

We can, I think, safely assume the now-classified 2020 Worldwide Threat Assessment repeated what the last three WTAs said. We can, I think, assume that what Senator Burr reported to the ‘important’ people of North Carolina came directly from the 2020 WTA. We don’t have to assume that information was kept from the general public for at least six weeks; we know that’s true. Six weeks during which the US government failed to respond to a health threat they knew was coming. Six weeks in which the Trump administration could have prevented needless sickness and death.

We can’t blame every Covid-19 death on folks like Trump and Burr. But we can hold them responsible for a lot of them.

They knew. They knew it was coming. These fuckers deliberately downplayed the threat to the public while warning the ‘important’ people.

We need to see the 2020 Worldwide Threat Assessment report. We need to know what they knew. We need to hold all of these fuckers accountable. We need to toss them out of office. We need to publicly name them and shame them. We need to hang the scope of this pandemic around their necks and make them wear their shame every day for the rest of their miserable lives.

war crimes

There have been Trumps in the United States since 1885, when Friedrich Trumpf emigrated here from Kallstadt, Bavaria to 1) escape poverty and 2) avoid mandatory military service. His failure to serve, combined with his failure to notify the authorities of his departure, led to a royal decree banishing Trump from ever returning to what was then the Kingdom of Bavaria.

Since their arrival in the U.S. Trumps have had the opportunity to serve their adopted nation in two world wars, the Korean war, Vietnam, and the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. They haven’t. Not a single member of the Trump family has spent a day in uniform (to be fair, Trump’s parents sent him to a private military school when he was an unruly, wayward 13-year-old). Comrade Trump his ownself famously dodged military service during the Vietnam war through a bogus medical deferment.

That’s okay. We don’t have any mandatory service in the U.S. and it’s hard to blame anybody for not wanting to fight in that particular war (or any war, for that matter). I can fault with the system that allowed Trump to dodge conscription because of his family wealth, but I don’t fault him personally for not wanting to fight.

I do, though, fault him for celebrating war. I do fault him for using the military as a prop. And I especially fault him for honoring war criminals. I fault him for interfering in the military justice system to benefit murderous fucks like Eddie Gallagher.

If you’re not familiar with the Gallagher case, here’s a quick take. He’s a Navy SEAL Special Warfare Operator. He’s done eight combat tours; he’s been trained as a sniper, as a medic, and as an explosives expert. He’s been awarded two bronze stars and was, apparently, under consideration for a silver star. He’s also been accused of multiple war crimes. He was acquitted of some of the most serious crimes (murdering at least two civilians — an old man and a young girl) because of the absence of physical evidence (it’s hard to collect DNA evidence from sniper victims in a combat zone). Basically, Eddie Gallagher is a hero who is also a murderous fuck.

Loyalty is a big deal in the military. First loyalty is to your buddies, then it spreads out to your squad, to your platoon, your company, your battalion, and so on in an expanding circle. Because loyalty is such a big deal, it’s incredibly telling that Gallagher’s squadmates reported his criminal behavior repeatedly. It’s telling that they were willing to testify against him in court. It’s telling that they were so concerned about him, they even sabotaged his weapon — they altered the optics on his sniper scope — to keep him from killing innocent civilians.

Eddie Gallagher in Iraq.

Here are two really really ugly truths. First, the military has a need for people like Eddie Gallagher — people who are murderous fucks. They need people who are willing and capable of doing horrible things. There are situations in combat, for example, when it might be necessary to kill children. It appalling that we ask people to be prepared to do that, but it is sometimes necessary. Here’s the second ugly truth. We need to punish those murderous fucks who act indiscriminately. We need laws to regulate war, to define and distinguish between what murderous fucks can and cannot do. Murderous fucks are only useful to the military when they can effectively channel their murderous fuck potential. There are really good reasons the military talks so much about ‘good order and discipline.’

The military tends to treat their murderous fucks the way a family treats a lecherous, drunk uncle at a holiday gathering. They try to quietly control them, to put limits on their opportunities to be drunk and lecherous, to keep it in the family unless their behavior becomes so awful they have to notify the police. The military will demote their murderous fucks, they’ll re-assign them to posts where they have fewer opportunities to be murderous fucks, they’ll discharge them from the service, and when it’s absolutely necessary they’ll prosecute them for war crimes.

Eddie Gallagher in handcuffs.

When Comrade Trump, the President of the United States, interferes with the prosecution and sentencing of murderous fucks — when he absolves them of their crimes, when he celebrates them, when he says he actually wants them to campaign with him — he essentially erodes the necessary restraints the military puts on them. In effect, Trump encourages murderous fucks to become more fucking murderous.

This would be egregious in any president. It’s especially galling in a president who knows nothing about military life, a president whose entire family has avoided any sort of military service. Eddie Gallagher is as unfit to serve in the U.S. military as Comrade Trump is to be the Commander-in-Chief.