Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Continued Stray Thoughts on the Current Political Climate: Child Abuse Edition

Sometimes you just have to take time out of your life to document the unmitigated evil that your supposed leaders are openly engaged in, as well as the sheer depravity of the people who think this is okay.  Normally I try to collect a wide variety of things for these posts, but when the government of the United States actively abuses children to the applause of far too many so-called Americans, well, you just have to focus on the issue at hand.  So welcome to this Special Edition of Continued Stray Thoughts.  Lawsey, what a fucked up time we live in.


1. So, magically, after insisting for days now that his hands were tied and there was nothing whatsoever he could do about it, der Sturmtrumper picked up a pen and did something about the child abuse he had authorized and was so vociferously defending.  Isn’t that amazing?  Isn’t that strange?  Imagine – it’s as if he could have done that all along!  I wonder why he didn’t!

2. Well, other than the fact that these are brown-skinned Spanish-speaking children and when you’re a white supremacist whose election campaign was endorsed by every major neo-Nazi and racist group in America, well, you have to dance with them what brung ya, I guess.  Seriously, why are people surprised by this?  Why is this even an issue?  This is an administration predicated on racism, built on gratuitous cruelty, and focused on riling up its idiot base with whatever atrocity comes to mind next.  Of course they’re going to abuse children.  What’s the down side for them?

3. And on that note we bring you Arizona GOP Representative David Stringer, who told the Yavapai County Republican Men’s Forum (did you know such a thing existed?  It does!) that immigration was an “existential threat” to the United States because “there aren’t enough white kids to go around” and this will result in a country that isn’t, um, mostly white.  Folks, they’re not even pretending not to be racist assholes anymore.  Do you wonder why they’re abusing brown-skinned children?

5. Also this.

6. The United Nations – an organization that the United States created – has demanded that der Sturmtrumper’s minions halt the immoral practice of ripping children from their families because it is a violation of international law (which the United States, in part, also created).  “The practice of separating families amounts to arbitrary and unlawful interference in family life, and is a serious violation of the rights of the child,” said UN spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani.  “The use of immigration detention and family separation as a deterrent runs counter to human rights standards and principles.”  She added, “There is nothing normal about detaining children.  The US should immediately halt this practice of separating families and stop criminalizing what should at most be an administrative offense.”  Not that the modern GOP sees anything wrong with immorality, illegal actions, or harming children.

7. “Does anyone remember Fox’s obsession with ‘FEMA concentration camps’ a few years back? Turns out they don’t have much trouble with the real thing, just the fact that they imagined Obama was doing it.”  (observed by my friend Jack)

8. “One thing I know for sure: no one on the right side of history has ever had to nitpick what the definition of ‘cage’ is.”  (Stephen Colbert)

Folks, they’re concentration camps where we keep children in cages.  If you begin to quibble about definitions, you’ve already lost.


10.  You think?

11. Someone complained that the Bible is not the basis of the US government and therefore we shouldn’t be using it to determine the worth of a federal policy.  This is 100% true and completely irrelevant.

First, yes it’s true.  The US is not a “Christian nation” in any sense.  It was not founded on Christianity, the Bible, the “Judeo-Christian heritage” (whatever the hell that is), or any particular sect’s doctrine.  The Founding Fathers were very clear on this, and even codified it into federal law in 1796, when the people who wrote the Constitution were still around to check.  Nobody – NOBODY – objected to this statement of the obvious.  So remember, when people tell you that this is some kind of Christian nation, they are either lying, ignorant, or trying to sell you something. 

But here’s the thing.  When the bastards control the institutions of government, evil becomes legal.  There is nothing in the law that overtly says the US government cannot abuse children the way der Sturmtrumper’s junta is doing.  At this point, you have to fall back on morality and argue that the law should be changed or interpreted to avoid evil.  Furthermore, the fuckers doing this are using the Bible to try to justify it, and throwing that back in their faces cuts them off at the knees (to mix my bodily metaphors).  So yeah, I have no problem with using their own religious views to destroy their shoddy and evil position.

12. On that note, it is instructive to note that the United Methodist Church is now considering bring canonical charges against Our Confederate Attorney General – a member of that denomination in a congregation in Alabama – for violating church doctrine.  According to the UMC’s web site, more than 600 clergy and lay members are bringing charges against him for “child abuse in reference to separating young children from their parents and holding them in mass incarceration facilities; immorality; racial discrimination and ‘dissemination of doctrines contrary to the established standards of doctrines’ of the United Methodist Church,” all of which are chargeable offenses under Paragraph 2702.3 of UMC doctrine.  This could ultimately lead to Our Confederate Attorney General being expelled from the church.  Keep that in mind next time he decides to cite Scripture to defend his indefensible policies.

13. I don’t think this is what Jesus meant.

14. Just a reminder, this is not a serious crime.  I’ve seen morons comparing these children to rapists, and that says a lot more about their fantasy life than it does about the children they’re abusing.

15. Meanwhile a bipartisan group of 75 former US Attorneys has published an open letter to Our Confederate Attorney General condemning this child abuse.  “Like the majority of Americans,” the letter says, “we have been horrified by the images and stories of children torn from their families along our nation’s Southwest Border.  And like a majority of Americans, we are appalled that your Zero Tolerance policy has resulted in the unnecessary trauma and suffering of innocent children.  But as former United States Attorneys, we also emphasize that the Zero Tolerance policy is a radical departure from previous Justice Department policy, and that it is dangerous, expensive, and inconsistent with the values of the institution in which we served. … The law does not require the systematic separation of families under these circumstances. … Until now, no Republican or Democratic administration, nor any prior Attorney General, has endangered children in order to deter illegal entry.”


17. Former Border Patrol officer Jenn Budd, who served from 1995 to 2001, has called on her former colleagues to refuse to obey these orders.  “It’s unlawful to take children away from their parents like this.  It’s unheard of,” she said.  “Trump is basically holding children hostage for his wall, and he doesn’t care who it affects.  There’s going to be kids that end up committing suicide, whether in custody or afterward, because of the trauma we’re putting them through.  This is going to be as shameful as the internment camps we had for the Japanese.  There’s no excuse for these agents to not literally lay down their guns and badges and say this is unlawful.  Somebody has to stand up, has to say something.”

18. Two thirds of the US is opposed to this policy, which, while a reassuring majority, does unfortunately suggest that one third is perfectly okay with it.  In particular, a majority of Republicans see no problem with child abuse.  This is a damning indictment of the Republican Party, and of American culture in general.

19. Did you know that the tent cities der Sturmtrumper wants to jail these kids in will cost more than just letting the children stay with their parents?  That’s the GOP – spending more to achieve less.

20. Do you think der Sturmtrumper and his minions, lackeys, cronies, enablers and sycophants can ever keep their stories straight on this?  Not even Anthony Scaramucci thinks so, and when the Mooch thinks your PR is shoddy you really ought to reexamine your life.

21. I swear upon all that is holy that the next time some asshole tries to defend child abuse on the grounds that it will save taxpayers money I will go nuclear.

Seriously?  It’s a financial issue with these people?  Human depravity never ceases to amaze me in its multitudinous forms.

22. A friend of mine told me that they were just so angry all the time about this, and my response was, effectively, “Good.”  There are times in life when rage is exactly the appropriate thing to feel, and when my government is abusing children that’s definitely one of them.  Fuck those people.  Bring them to justice and bring them to justice good and hard.

23. Do you want to know just what kind of subhuman asshole is running this country?  Corey Lewandowski, der Sturmtrumper’s former campaign manager, was told about one 10-year-old girl with Down Syndrome being torn from her mother and his response was to make fun of the child.  This is your GOP, folks.

24. Steve Schmidt, a Republican consultant who was responsible for any number of GOP victories over the last several decades, has had enough.  “29 years and nine months ago I registered to vote and became a member of The Republican Party which was founded in 1854 to oppose slavery and stand for the dignity of human life.  Today I renounce my membership in the Republican Party.  It is fully the party of Trump.  It is corrupt, indecent and immoral.  With the exception of a few Governors like Baker, Hogan and Kasich it is filled with feckless cowards who disgrace and dishonor the legacies of the party’s greatest leaders.  This child separation policy is connected to the worst abuses of humanity in our history.  It is connected by the same evil that separated families during slavery and dislocated tribes and broke up Native American families.  It is immoral and must be repudiated.  Our country is in trouble.  Our politics are badly broken. … I have spent much of my life working in GOP politics.  I have always believed that both parties were two of the most important institutions to the advancement of human freedom and dignity in the history of the world.  Today the GOP has become a danger to our democracy and values.”

25. And if you want to see a threat to a free nation, note that the editorial cartoonist of the Pittsburgh Press-Gazette was fired for this cartoon.  Apparently the truth hurts.  So of course I do feel an obligation to spread the cartoon widely, or at least as widely as this blog goes.

26. For fuck sake, even Michael Cohen has publicly declared that this policy sucks.  “As the son of a Polish holocaust survivor, the images and sounds of this family separation policy is heart wrenching.  While I strongly support measures that will secure our porous borders, children should never be used as bargaining chips.”

27. But that’s what they are!  Der Sturmtrumper specifically said he was holding them hostage for his stupid, ineffective, arrogant wall.  Isn’t that special?

28. And now, finally, der Sturmtrumper seems to have backed down.  And the operative word here is “seems.”

His decree (which misspelled the word “separation,” but hey) supposedly allows children to be detained indefinitely with their families.  Except a) that violates a 1997 court decree preventing children from being detained or imprisoned for more than 20 days in these circumstances, which means this is all a set-up for challenging the courts while he continues to separate families under a different label, and b) the children who have already been torn from their parents won’t be returned until he’s damned good and ready to return them, which for all we know will be 2019.

This is a ploy, and nobody should fall for it.

Watch your back, America.  The immoral are here in force and intent on taking this country for their own. 

Monday, June 18, 2018

Suffer the Children

There is a special place in Hell for people who abuse children.

Right next to it is another for those who support the practice. 

Those places are going to be full to bursting in the very near future because of the twisted, depraved, and immoral policies imposed on immigrant children by der Sturmtrumper and his minions, lackeys, enablers, and sycophants. 

Child abuse is now the official policy of the US government, and there are far too many so-called Americans who approve of it. 

We are ripping children from their parents and storing them in cages, with no plans to reunite these families.  There are refugee families who are showing up at the American border only to have US officials take their children away to be “bathed” and then never returned to them – a startlingly Nazi move, but one consistent with an administration that increasingly acts as the second coming of the Third Reich. 

As a historian I do not say that lightly.

This is an outrage.  This is a crime against humanity.  This is gratuitous cruelty, unrefined and unforgivable.  This is what happens when the worst elements of a society are put in charge.

Every single person involved in the creation or implementation of this policy and every single person who dares to defend it has declared to the world that they are assholes of the highest order who need to be brought to justice at the first opportunity.  Every single one of them.  If you are one of those people, you are sick and should get help immediately.  At the very least you should be quarantined away from civilized human beings.

There is no excuse for this.  There is no justification for this.  And it is all on der Sturmtrumper and his supporters.  You own this, you fuckers. 

Yes, I know that der Sturmtrumper has loudly and vehemently insisted that his hands are tied, that this is because of some vague and unspecified law supposedly passed by Democrats at some indeterminate point in the past, that he’d like to change it, but the simple fact is that he is lying.  He lies about everything, up to and including the weather, so why this should be different is an open question.

There is no law that requires this.  There never has been.  No civilized country would ever have such a law, which is perhaps why der Sturmtrumper hasn’t figured out that we don’t have one.  This is the result of an executive policy vomited forth by der Sturmtrumper’s administration in May 2018.  This policy did not exist under Obama or any of his predecessors of either party – Cecilia Munoz, Obama’s domestic policy director, noted flatly that “The Obama administration did not do that, no.  We did not separate children from their parents.  This is a new decision, a policy decision put in place by the Attorney General, [which] puts us in league with the most brutal regimes in the world’s history.”

This is der Sturmtrumper’s policy and he could end it any time he wanted to do so.  But he does not want to end it, because gratuitous cruelty is the only thing that he understands. 

Let’s get some things straight, for those working with fewer than six functioning brain cells:

There has been no crime committed.  It is not a crime to ask for asylum.  In point of fact, the United States is obligated under both American and international law to accept asylum seekers.  We are traumatizing children for no legitimate reason.

Even if you decide that these are illegal immigrants rather than legitimate asylum seekers (a bizarre stretch of the facts, but one that is popular among the Stupid who try to defend this evil practice), that’s not a felony – it’s a misdemeanor on par with a traffic ticket.  To traumatize a child over a trivial offense is both evil and a clear violation of the 8th Amendment to the Constitution, which does apply to non-citizens in US custody so if you’re planning to bark up that tree you can just shove that nonsense right back up your lower intestine where it came from.

Der Sturmtrumper could end this with a simple phone call, as Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) noted publicly, but he has no plans to do so because he is using these children as a bargaining chip.  His child abuse is designed as a deterrent, to keep other refugees from coming here – a flatly illegal act under American law.  He is also traumatizing children and destroying families in order to blackmail Congress into paying for his stupid wall on the Mexican border (you know, the one Mexico was supposed to pay for?).  Don’t believe me?  Maybe you’ll believe der Sturmtrumper, who declared these things openly and proudly, to the applause of his supporters. 

That’s his position – give me what I want and the children can go free.  Put another way, he’s taking hostages in order to force others to give into his political demands. 

That makes him a terrorist.

We know how to deal with terrorists in this country. 

On the plus side, this criminal outrage has united a surprisingly diverse group of people, many of whom had previously supported the criminal in the White House.

The US Conference of Catholic Bishops – a group with whom I generally find very little common ground – was quite clear on the subject.  At the opening session of their biannual meeting on June 13, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo read a statement calling the GOP policy “immoral,” to the raucous applause of the bishops in attendance.  Bishop Edward Weisenburger of Tucson AZ later called for “canonical penalties” for any Catholic involved in this evil.

I look forward to the excommunication of these sinners until they repent and begin to undo the damage they have done.

Meanwhile, Our Confederate Attorney General’s own church, the United Methodist Church, has rejected his use of Romans 13 to justify der Sturmtrumper’s child abuse policy in strenuous terms.  “To argue that these policies are consistent with Christian teaching is unsound, a flawed interpretation, and a shocking violation of the spirit of the Gospel,” they said in an official statement issued on June 15.  After pointing out a couple of the many Bible verses that command the faithful to “extend hospitality to strangers” (such as Romans 12:9-11) the statement notes that “the Christ we follow would have no part in ripping children from their mothers’ arms or shunning those fleeing violence.  It is unimaginable that faith leaders even have to say that these policies are antithetical to the teachings of Christ.  … Those who use the Bible to justify these horrific policies, should also read the prophet Isaiah: “Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who use oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless.” (Isaiah 10:1-3).

“The Trump Administration implemented these policies,” the statement notes.  “They have the power to stop these horrific actions.”

For fuck sake, even the Southern Baptist Convention, Franklin Graham, and Rev. Samuel Rodriguez (who delivered a prayer at der Sturmtrumper’s inauguration) have described this policy as “horrible,” “terrible,” and “disgraceful.” 

“There’s definitely a groundswell of opposition from virtually every corner of the Christian community,” said Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.  “People are able to understand immediately the drive of parents to protect their child and to understand the horror of splitting up vulnerable children from their parents.”

Former First Lady Laura Bush – who, in keeping with American tradition going back centuries has been very quiet regarding the actions of her and her husband’s successors – finally had enough of it and laid into der Sturmtrumper in a published editorial.  “I live in a border state.  I appreciate the need to enforce and protect our international borders, but this zero-tolerance policy is cruel.  It is immoral.  And it breaks my heart,” she wrote.  “Our government should not be in the business of warehousing children in converted box stores or making plans to place them in tent cities in the desert outside of El Paso.  These images are eerily reminiscent of the Japanese American internment camps of World War II, now considered to have been one of the most shameful episodes in US history.”

Retired General Michael Hayden, who worked as the Director of the National Security Agency and the CIA, shared a photo of Auschwitz, the notorious Nazi concentration camp and pointedly noted that “Other governments have separated mothers and children.”

In an article from May 2018 published in the New Yorker, Masha Gessen pointed out a simple fact.  “Hostage-taking is an instrument of terror.  Capturing family members, especially children, is a tried-and-true instrument of totalitarian terror.”

This is what the United States has become under der Sturmtrumper.

This is not acceptable.

This will not stand.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Party On

As requested, there was a bouncy house.

One of the nice traditions that surround high school graduations is that there is generally some kind of party to celebrate them, one where the grownups can sit and talk and do all of the stuff that grownups do that never really seem interesting when one is of graduating age, while those of graduating age can congregate in a different part of the house and do the things that they find interesting, or at least most of them since even at my current age I can remember a great many activities that I found interesting when I was 18 that I’d rather not have people doing in the middle of a party at my house these days.

Also, everyone gets to eat, which is always a good thing.

When we were planning this event we asked Tabitha and Fran what they wanted, and the bouncy house was one of the first things mentioned (along with grilled pineapple).  And we thought, well, why not?  It turns out that there is a guy who will rent them locally – he even delivers, sets up, takes down, and hauls away, which is a bargain at any price, really – and the neighbor let us use his side lawn to set it up so we’d have room for all of the tables and food and assorted party things in the back.  It was surprisingly easy, even if it did deflate whenever the dishwasher turned on and tripped the circuit.  Eventually we persuaded the dishwasher not to turn back on.

There was also grilled pineapple, because why not.

We had a few other traditions to abide by as well, such as the fact that it was far too hot (my own high school graduation party took place during one of those heat waves that buckle the pavement and melt the cat) and the fact that the party became a way to legitimize a number of household projects that have been in the works for a while now, such as taking out the front fence and having Adam come in and replace the back stairs with the new patio.  I also put together a wide array of old photos of the graduates so you can see them growing up – Fran’s parents sent us some from Belgium so we could have both graduates represented! – another tradition surrounding these parties and one that I rather enjoyed.

We were doing it right, oh yes we were.

Of course we were woken up that morning by fierce and unrelenting storms and I spent a good chunk of the morning trying to work out how we could do this all in the living room (short answer: we can’t) and let me tell you how glad I was when the rain stopped and the day turned out to be sunny and nice, especially if you managed to duck inside for the air conditioning at reasonable intervals.

We spent the morning and early afternoon preparing for the party – setting up tables and chairs, cooking various foods, decorating the place, and so on.  Lauren put together a playlist that would cover the entire 7 hours that we had allotted for this open house, and we set up a little wireless speaker that could handle it – she did a nice job, too.  We did take a short break for a Father’s Day pizza lunch, since for long and involved reasons that couldn’t happen on the actual Father’s Day, and that was a lovely thing as well.

Eventually the guests arrived, and as noted the grownups (and the younger kids) mostly congregated in one place – outside, where the tables for eating and talking were – while the teenagers congregated elsewhere, either by the bouncy house or inside where the Cards Against Humanity was. 

The rabbits were a big hit.

Eventually things settled down and the last of the party seemed to revolve around the possibility of henna tattoos, which didn’t quite work out as advertised but were nevertheless entertaining.

And then we all went to bed.

It is a lovely thing to share achievements with family and friends, to gather together around food and conversation and bouncy houses and celebrate.  Congratulations to Tabitha and Fran.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

News and Updates

1. Our old neighbor Adam put in a new back patio for us this week.  Adam is a carpenter, which means he actually knows what he’s doing as opposed to me trying to do this job.  We call him whenever we have a job that we want done right.  Kim could no doubt figure out how to do this job and would enjoy it, but it would take time and equipment that she does not have.  I could probably figure it out and I have more time than she does, but that still leaves the equipment problem and also the fact that there is no conceivable universe where this sort of thing strikes me as fun.  Home repair projects are rather like dentistry as far as I am concerned – good for me in the long run, but neither pleasant nor intrinsically rewarding.  So Adam comes over and now it’s nice.  Kim and I ate dinner out there this evening, just because we could.

2. School’s out!  For!  Summer!  The seniors have been off since last week, but today was Lauren’s last day of 9th grade.  She is officially a sophomore!  Congratulations, Lauren – I’m proud of you.

3. Only a few scant days until the World Cup begins!  There will be soccer all over, and I will do my best to ignore the fact that the world’s most viciously corrupt sporting body chose to award this celebration of joyous athleticism to the world’s most aggressively corrupt country, and just enjoy the games.  The US crashed and burned during the qualifiers so I have no idea whom I will cheer for this time around.  Perhaps Belgium, since that’s where Fran is from and now I have a connection there.  Of course, the Belgians eliminated the Americans during the last World Cup, so we’ll see.

4. I understand that the joint US/Canada/Mexico bid for the 2026 World Cup is in jeopardy because der Sturmtrumper is so viciously unpopular with the entire world that nobody wants to give anything to any group that includes the US.  These are the times.

5. I’m not sure why Anthony Bourdain’s death has hit me as hard as it has.  I never met the man, after all.  But I enjoyed his shows and his books, mostly because he seemed like someone who understood the humanity of what he was doing – who understood the broken bits because he’d been there and he’d survived and he wasn’t going to do the polite bullshit dance that so many people do.  He was going to say what he felt needed saying.  And he could do that while remaining a far more gracious guest in people’s homes and countries than most folks can imagine.  I’m not an adventurous eater and likely never will be, but I like to think that I learned a few lessons from him.  Fair winds and following seas, Mr. Bourdain.  The world is a poorer place for your absence.

6. Happy Pride Month from the most boringly straight man in America!  Someday there will be no need for a Pride Month because people will just be people, but today is not that day.  So do your part to piss off the intolerant and celebrate the wide spectrum that is humanity!

7. It has been nice here for the last few days – cool, grey, kind of rainy, the sort of summer weather I can get next to.  But soon it will be hot again, and that just is no fun at all.  Only five months until civilized weather!

8. Somehow I managed to chip a tooth on a ham sandwich this weekend, so now I have to go to the dentist to get that looked at.  Not that I didn’t have to make an appointment anyway, but still.  A ham sandwich.  It was actually a pretty good sandwich, too.  It will be like a home repair project, and thus does life come around full circle.

9. The amazing thing about having teenagers is that once school is over they pretty much disappear.  All of the teens in my house are no longer in my house – they are out and about with friends.  Was I that busy once?  I must have been.  Sometimes they hang out here with their various friends, and that’s nice.

10. My summer class starts in about a week.  I’m mostly ready for it, except that somewhere on my desk is my attendance book and I need to find it.  I know approximately where it is, but there is an accumulation of paper between me and it and I’m a bit worried that the excavations required to get through that accumulation and extract the book will border on the archeological.  It’s nice to have small problems in this day and age.

Friday, June 8, 2018

And a Happy Graduation to All

There is a certain irony about being a historian at a graduation.

Historians by our nature are backward looking creatures.  We focus on the past, on how we got to this point, on how contingent that process was, and how the world conspired to create just such conditions that would make that process possible.  Call it an occupational hazard, call it a character flaw, but there it is.

Graduations, by contrast, are forward looking events, and if there is ever a group of people who should be focusing on what is to come rather than how they got here, it is a class of graduates waiting for the ceremony to be over so they can go out into the world and become what they will.

I wish them well, without irony.  Graduations are for the future.

It was graduation night tonight for the folks at Local Businessman High School, down at the football field.  Football fields are great places for graduations because they are wide and flat and usually have enough bleacher seating to fit everyone, though tonight the crowd filled the bleachers half an hour before the ceremony started and by the time the first speaker walked up to the microphone there were people standing at the fences.  It’s always nice to see the community support the schools like that.

Lauren spent most of the preliminary ceremonies running back and forth between the orchestra and the band, both of which were performing but for some reason in alternating songs.  So she would play her cello for a while, and then run around to the percussion section of the band – she was the only one doing this so the conductors would wait for her – and the next song would begin, and then the process would reverse.  She got a lot of exercise.

Eventually the band struck up “Pomp and Circumstance” and the graduates marched in. 

We could easily pick out our graduates by the hats.  LBHS allows its graduates to decorate their caps provided that they submit the completed caps for approval and a surprising number of graduates took advantage of this.  Fran marched in underneath a medley of the US and Belgian flags, while Tabitha’s art-class banana theme continued tonight.

There were a few brief words from the Salutatorian, the School Board, and the Principal (LBHS designs nearly all of its events around the notion that short events mean happy attendees, and more power to them for this excellent strategy), followed by a song from the choir and a handful of speeches from the various valedictorii, and then the main event could begin: the Collecting of the Diplomas.

They call everyone’s name individually for this, which is a lovely thing.  These kids have worked hard for this honor, and they deserve the recognition.  The graduates file out of their seats and get in line on the stage left side, their name gets called, they run a gauntlet of Local Dignitaries eager to shake their hands, and then they receive their diploma.

Well, actually, they received their diploma case.  Then they walk back around to their seat, stopping at an unobtrusive table on the way to receive their Actual Diploma.  They do get to go home with the real thing in hand, which is a nice touch. 

And then the festivities really began.

They don’t bother with any kind of organized exit, since experience has shown the folks at LBHS that this is pretty much a hopeless idea.  The graduates instead steam out though the pathways underneath the bleachers, and the rest of us make our way out the more usual way, and the two groups collide in the parking lot in a joyous mass of confusion.  But it’s a small place, when you get right down to it, so it doesn’t take that long to find the people you’re looking for.

It’s been a long trip to get here, and it deserves a celebration.

Congratulations Tabitha and Fran.  I’m proud of you.

Walk into your futures and be glad in them.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Fly, Eagles, Flown

There are times when I really, really, really enjoy the fact that I am from Philadelphia.  Watching der Sturmtrumper make a complete ass of himself by abruptly canceling today’s visit to the White House by the Super Bowl Champion Eagles because, according to the official White House press release, only a “tiny handful” of players would consent to be seen with him has definitely been one of those times.

I like to think that the flunky who wrote that press release is secretly on the side of the angels.   I wonder if der Sturmtrumper caught the reference. 

Of course, this asinine nonsense could not go unchallenged, and folks – if you’re going to get into an attitude contest with a Philadelphian, you are going to lose.  It’s an art form where I grew up.  We don’t do Amateur Hour.

First came the reactions from local Philadelphia officials, which were priceless. 

Congressman Brendan Boyle (D-PA), representing Philadelphia, took der Sturmtrumper to task for the psychopathic narcissism that made this happen.  “You even make a championship team visiting the White House all about you,” he said.  “What is wrong with you?  Seriously, what condition do you have?” 

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney followed up with a statement noting that “The Eagles call the birthplace of our democracy home, so it’s no surprise that this team embodies everything that makes our country and our city great. … Disinviting them from the White House only proves that our President is not a true patriot, but a fragile egomaniac obsessed with crowd size and afraid of the embarrassment of throwing a party to which no one wants to attend.” 

“City Hall is always open for a celebration,” he added, providing more than enough shade for a summer day.

It’s not like Mayor Kenney is alone in his observation about crowd size being the primary motivator here, to be honest.  Hell, der Sturmtrumper even said so himself!  The reason der Sturmtrumper canceled the invitation was “the Eagles wanted to send a smaller delegation” than he demanded, and we just cannot have small delegation in der Sturmtrumper’s increasingly grandiose private fantasy world.  No, we cannot.

Poor baby. 

Then came the reactions from the players themselves.

Mostly this is because der Sturmtrumper insists in his fevered imagination that the Eagles are disrespecting the national anthem that he is most bravely protecting.  This is truly weird.  The national anthem does not need protecting, especially from a guy who can’t actually remember the words.  But it makes as much sense as anything else the right wing puts out these days, I suppose.

Naturally, Fox “News” decided to get in on the action with a video featuring these images, among others: 

The caption, before Fox beat a hasty retreat and took it down, said “President Trump says Philadelphia Eagles won’t attend White House ceremony amid national anthem dispute.”

Eagles tight end Zach Ertz was quick to note the rank stupidity of this Fox “News” report.  “This can’t be serious,” he said.  “Praying before games, with my teammates, well before the anthem, is being used for your propaganda?!  Just sad, I feel like you guys should have to be better than this.”  They should, but they aren’t, alas.  Linebacker Jordan Hicks responded to Ertz with a parody of der Sturmtrumper himself: “So sad!!”  And defensive end Chris Long – who donated his entire 2017-2018 salary to charity – lambasted Fox further.  “Imagine wanting to please the boss so very badly that you run stills of guys knelt down PRAYING during pregame,” he wrote.  “Not one Eagles player knelt for the anthem this year.  Keep carrying his water to sow division while misrepresenting Christian men.  Aren’t many of your viewers … never mind.”

Yeah, better just to let that sentence go unfinished, in my experience.

What makes this better is that even some Cowboys fans and Patriots fans became, however briefly, Eagles fans over it.  That’s how utterly bizarre this whole thing is. 

Not that any of this stopped der Sturmtrumper from hosting his own Very Special party with a pile of “Eagles fans” specially magicked up from whatever laboratory creates Republican staffers and animatronic Disney figures.  It was a YUUGE success!  Many people said so!

Of course, here in Reality, the party lasted five minutes, der Sturmtrumper forgot the words to God Bless America, and it fooled absolutely nobody with more than six functioning brain cells.  Tim Furlong, a reporter with the NBC station in Philadelphia who attended the event, noted that “I’ve asked 6 of the ‘fans’ at the White House who was the Eagles quarterback during the Super Bowl.  Not ONE person knew.”  I guess this isn’t much of a surprise, given the fact that so many of those alleged “fans” wore business suits and Furlong counted exactly one item of clothing with an Eagles logo on it in the entire crowd, but then faking an official White House event takes skills that these idiots don’t have.  Can’t even get good crisis actors these days.

Although this guy?  Not all heroes wear capes.

Go ahead and throw your toddler-level hissy fit, Mr. Sturmtrumper.  Go ahead and complain.  Go ahead and lie about this being anything other than a protest against police brutality, a respectful and very American dissent from the overbearing authoritarianism you so desperately seek to impose.  Go ahead and pretend that this is something you have any influence over or that anybody outside of your charming little ideological bubble is interested in your opinion.

We’re from Philly.  No one likes us.  We don’t care.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Continued Stray Thoughts on the Current Political Climate

With the cascade of stupid, immoral, illegal, subversive, un-American, and possibly treasonous things emitted by der Sturmtrumper, his pet Congress, his supporters, and his administration reaching levels that make it nearly impossible for any sane person to keep up with, I’ve started just keeping a running list of observations on the matter.  Every time the list reaches critical mass, I suppose I’ll post it and start a new one.  Can’t hurt; might help.  Here’s the most recent list:


1. Did you know that rising sea levels are not cause by global climate change and the melting of the Arctic and Antarctic ice the way scientists have measured?  No, according to Congressman Mo Brooks, Republican from Alabama, they’re caused by rocks falling into the ocean.  Must be the ones falling out of his head.

2. Vickers Cunningham is running for a county judge seat in Dallas on the GOP ticket, and the Dallas Morning News even endorsed him until they found out that he had set up a living trust for his children that paid his kids bonuses for marrying someone white.  The GOP: where people like Cunningham feel welcome.

3. Here in Wisconsin, our frantically partisan GOP State Attorney General received $4100 from an anti-LGBTQ “Christian” hate group – a group that openly calls for criminalizing private sexual orientations and sterilizing transgendered Americans against their will (because Small Government and Individual Liberty!), as well as the usual blasphemous nonsense about using the smokescreen of religious belief as a justification for denying American citizens their basic rights and freedoms – to attend their conference, and then decided to keep it a secret.  He sees nothing wrong with this, which is just one more reason why people like Brad Schimel are happy in the modern GOP and why they should not be trusted with political power at any level of government.

4. EPA director Scott Pruitt clearly thinks that the American republic is now dead and he can behave as the tinpot dictator he has always wanted to be.  The EPA held a national summit on harmful water contaminants last month, except that Tinpot Pruitt decided that only certain news agencies were allowed to attend this taxpayer-funded event – a list that notably excluded CNN and the AP.  And when an AP reporter dared to do her job as the First Amendment specifically guarantees her right to do, EPA thugs forcibly threw her out of the building.  Remind me again why I should make any distinction between the GOP and the Fascists?

5. Poor Jared Kushner – even his own Harvard classmates won’t give him any respect.  He didn’t send in anything for his class’s 15th Anniversary Report, but his classmates sure did.  “I, for one, am actually glad that our Class of ’03 finally has a real, live fascist among us.  Who says Harvard isn’t diverse!” said one.  “I’ve always wanted to meet someone who is as unfamiliar with the principles of democratic self-government or the history of twentieth-century ideologies that resulted in mass slaughter as he is with how to grow a beard.  Poor dude – probably wishes he could just walk around New York again without anyone calling him a traitor or a collaborator.  I mean, I do it all the time, so I know how good that feels.”  Or, my personal favorite entry, “I think what I’m most proud of, however, is what I’ve managed to avoid during the past five years.  I haven’t been accused of making false statements on or material omissions from security clearance disclosure forms.  I haven’t been accused of colluding with representatives of a foreign government to affect the outcome of an election.  I haven’t been accused of using my government position to sell visas to foreign investors in my family’s business.  I haven’t been sued for mistreating tenants or violating rental laws.  I think we can all be better than that.”  Well, most of us can, anyway.

6. Kevin Drum had perhaps the best comment on new NRA Chief Henchman Ollie “Iran-Contra” North’s blisteringly inane response to the latest (as of this writing) school shooting massacre.  “I would just like to say that, all things considered, I think I preferred it back when the NRA maintained a cowardly silence after school shootings, figuring that the fuss would go away within a week or so,” Drum wrote.  “We’ve now seen the alternative, and it’s even more repugnant and stupid.”  Seriously, it’s like they’re just not even trying to be plausible or even remotely moral anymore.  They just frantically lash out like a broken steel cable on a pulley, causing ever more damage to the American soul with every moment of their existence.

h/t to my friend Jack for the reference

7. Since when do presidents “demand” anything from the Department of Justice (let alone “hereby demand,” which makes der Sturmtrumper seem like even more of an arrogant fool than he is – no mean feat, really)?  Der Sturmtrumper is ramping up his hysterical distraction campaign by violating longstanding political norms which dictate that a) the Justice Department is not a partisan tool (this is one of the things that brought down Nixon, remember) and b) the subject of an investigation gets no say in the scope, duration, and thoroughness of the investigation.  Only dictators and tyrants think otherwise.  Note carefully who thinks otherwise and who supports him and remember that when people show you who they are you should believe them.

8. Note also that the GOP Congress has done NOTHING to fulfill their Constitutionally mandated obligations to check the power of this careening president.  The Founding Fathers would have had this crew horsewhipped.

9. The Guardian published a fascinating article recently on falling US birthrates.  American birthrates are now at a 30-year low and have been below replacement for over a decade now.  Without the immigration that right-wingers are so frothy about this country’s population would be declining.  For all the blame that gets tossed around (selfish women!  abortions!  Obama, somehow!) the plain fact, as the article points out, is that “for all its pro-family rhetoric, the US is a remarkably harsh place for families, and particularly for mothers.”

“It’s a well-known fact, but one that bears repeating in this context, that the US is one of only four countries in the world with no government-subsidized maternity leave.  The other three are Lesotho, Swaziland, and Papua New Guinea, countries that the US doesn’t tend to view as its peer group.”  Corporate healthcare insurance covers only a shade more than half of US mothers, and only 6% get full pay during maternity leave.  None of this applies to part-timers, gig-workers, or the rest of the New Economy, who get no benefits at all.  Single-income families are increasingly rare and increasingly impoverished – it is no longer possible to sustain a middle-class family on one income in this country – so staying home isn’t much of an option either, particularly since even the most optimistic estimates show that American wages have grown by about 0.2% per year since the 1970s despite vast increases in productivity.  All of the inflation-adjusted increases in wealth in this country has gone to the top 10% of the economic scale for decades now, and guess who promotes the policies that make that possible?

If you’re thinking the same party that guts labor unions, passes tax cuts for the already wealthy, shreds the social safety network, and has a health-care policy that is best summed up as “die if you can’t afford it,” you win!  Not sure if that’s really winning, but there you go.

10. All those surprised that der Sturmtrumper got played like a dime-store trombone by North Korea please raise your hand and explain why you weren’t paying attention.

11. Remember all those frantic cries of “Lock her up!” thrown at Hillary Clinton because she was sloppy with her email security?  Somehow it’s okay that der Sturmtrumper refuses to adhere to even basic cellphone security measures because they’re “too inconvenient.”  Waiting for the right wing to call for der Sturmtrumper to be locked up in 3 … 2 … oh, who am I kidding.  Rules are for other people – that’s the foundational belief of the modern GOP.

12. Maybe someone should take away his cell phone just on principle anyway.  For a guy who spews insults like he’s auditioning for Pretender King of the 4th Grade, he sure has a thin skin for any criticism whatsoever.  And when people respond to his fatuous tweets that way, he blocks them.  Now, blocking people in Twitter is perfectly acceptable for a private citizen, but it turns out that when a president uses that service in his official capacity, blocking American citizens amounts to government censorship and violates the First Amendment.  Yet another crime to add to der Sturmtrumper’s long and impressive list that nobody on the right wing cares about because POWER HAHAHAHAHAHA.

13. Despite the fact that Robert Mueller’s investigation has produced 5 guilty pleas (Michael Flynn, Rick Gates, George Papadopoulos, Alexander van der Zwaan, and Richard Pinedo) related to der Sturmtrumper’s 2016 presidential campaign as well as 17 criminal indictments awaiting trial (most notably Paul Manafort), a recent poll found that the majority of Americans have no idea that this is the case.  No wonder der Sturmtrumper’s minions can blithely assume that the investigation is a waste – they’re so uninformed that they don’t understand what has already been accomplished.  And what is fast being accomplished.

14. The Jeff Flake Apology Tour continues.  In a commencement address to the Harvard Law School, the outgoing GOP Senator from Arizona pointedly noted that he was “here today as a representative of a co-equal branch of our federal government – which is failing its constitutional obligations to counteract the power of the president, and in so doing is dishonoring itself.” 

“Your national leadership is … not good,” he told the graduates.  “At all.  Our presidency has been debased by a figure who has a seemingly bottomless appetite for destruction and division and only a passing familiarity with how the Constitution works.  And our Article I branch of government, the Congress (that’s me), is utterly supine in the face of the moral vandalism that flows from the White House daily.”

The whole speech is actually worth reading.  I disagree with Flake on most issues – and I note that he has saved this for a time when he is retiring from politics rather than a time when he might have to face voters – but he says some worthwhile things and asks a lot of good questions.

“Do you believe in democracy or not?  Are you faithful to your country, or to your party?  Are you loyal to the law and the Constitution, or to a man?”

And what do you plan to do to prove it?

15. Have you ever wondered if the GOP can possibly be any more petty and childish?  Of course they can!  Don’t be silly!  In an extremely uncommon move, FEMA – the same organization that, under der Sturmtrumper, still hasn’t managed to restore electricity to Puerto Rico nearly a year after it was destroyed by a hurricane that recent estimates killed more than 4000 people, because fuck those brown-skinned Spanish-speaking people even if they are American citizens, that’s why – has decided to remove twelve reports evaluating its own response to crises under Obama.  It’s not an accident that those reports generally included words like “effective” and “efficient.”  These clowns have no positive agenda – their entire useless existence is predicated on undoing the Obama Administration’s achievements no matter how damaging that undoing is to the reputation, safety, prestige, or long-term survival of the United States.

16. “Whoever heard of a system where you put people through trials?” – der Sturmtrumper, May 24, 2018.

Uh, anyone who believes in the rule of law?  Anyone who thinks petit-Fascist wannabe dictators and their henchmen should be removed from power, tried, jailed, incarcerated, and forgotten by the civilized world?  Anyone who respects the Constitution?  It’s a pretty long list, actually.

17.  GOP Representative Dana Rohrabacher – a right-wing extremist of long standing – actually managed to lose an endorsement from the National Association of Realtors when he declared that it was perfectly okay not to sell homes to Americans based on their sexual orientation.  When pressed, he was apparently mystified by the reaction, criticizing the Realtors for their insistence that American citizens be treated as American citizens.  Yes, folks, this is your GOP, where bigotry matters more than just about anything.  Dana, meet Vickers.  Vickers, Dana.  You’ll get along just fine.

18. Since the GOP Congress has decided that it won’t do a damned thing about the ongoing gun slaughter in this country, even if that means justifying school massacres in order to keep unfettered access to their penis substitutes (and try not to think about those mental images too much), the banking industry has decided that it will.  This makes sense, because eventually there will be lawsuits and the blanket immunity the GOP has given gunmakers and their accomplices will be lifted and banks are nothing if not risk-averse.  Major banks such as Citigroup and Bank of America have restricted services to gun retailers and stopped lending money to gun makers who refuse to comply with age limit and background check rules.  They are also reducing services to businesses that sell high capacity magazines and bump stocks, and halting lending to companies that make assault rifles.  While this is a small step toward sanity, it is apparently too much for the GOP.  They have threatened the banks with retaliatory legislation that would force private businesses to comply with Republican partisan positions, and the rank hypocrisy stinks like a tire fire.  The GOP doesn’t care about free markets when it comes to their own power, and if that means making it easier for some loser to slaughter your children then it sucks to be you, doesn’t it?

19. The NFL – a league that has been losing public interest for a long time now – has decided that the right of free speech does not apply to their players.  Now, the NFL is a private corporation (albeit with some interesting federal legal protections that could stand to be re-examined) and the Supreme Court has routinely acknowledged that the First Amendment does not apply to how private corporations treat their employees.  They are free to punish their employees for speech that the government would have to let slide.  Corporations have no legal obligation to respect your rights, Constitutional or otherwise, which is something right-wingers should think more carefully about as they sell the country off to the highest bidder.  They won’t but they should. 

But the sheer hypocrisy of the thing is staggering.  The NFL is, of course, responding to players who knelt during the national anthem as a way to protest police brutality against blacks in this country.  It was everything right-wingers insist that protests ought to be – nonviolent, nondisruptive, respectful, and so on – but the point of right-wingers is that any deviance from the norm as they define the norm is a sin punishable by death.  Leaving aside the deviant way they define the norm, this still has issues. 

For one thing, the penalization of free speech by the NFL is clearly a response to der Sturmtrumper and his right-wing minions complaining like toddlers about being offended – one NFL owner has even admitted it forthrightly.  These right-wingers are the people who call liberals “snowflakes,” remember?  If you ever want to know what the right-wing is up to, look at what they accuse their opponents of doing.  It’s a startlingly reliable guide.  But the right wing has won and forced displays of “patriotism” are now the rule.  Seriously, it’s getting harder and harder to tell the GOP apart from the Nazis.

For another thing, remember Tim Tebow?  The darling of the right-wing because he had values even if he didn’t actually have talent?  Isn’t he the guy who took a knee during the national anthem in 2012 to protest the fact that women have the right to control their own bodies?  Yes, yes he was!  In point of fact, he specifically noted that he couldn’t stand for a flag that allowed abortion.  On the other hand, Colin Kaepernick clearly stated that his protest had nothing to do with the flag or the military.  Yet Tebow remains the darling of the right wing and Kaepernick – a far more talented player – is unemployed.

20. On a related note, ABC recently fired the star of its most successful sitcom because she is a flaming racist.  Naturally der Sturmtrumper and his minions, lackeys, cronies, and enablers have a real problem with that and have been defending this racism loudly because really, what else would they do?  Criticize their own platform?

  One of their favorite tactics is “whataboutism” – a distraction technique designed to make their bigotry look acceptable by comparing it to other, allegedly similar, problems.  In particular, der Sturmtrumper is now angry at Samantha Bee for reasons that probably made sense to him at the time, and he is demanding that her show be canceled too. 

For those who don’t get the problem with this or why these cases are different (and why der Sturmtrumper’s position is far more dangerous and immoral), this sets it up pretty well:

21. From the “we’re just making shit up as we go along and we’re confident that our base won’t even notice” files comes this latest gem: der Sturmtrumper is now claiming that a “senior White House official” who was quoted in a New York Times article regarding the fiasco of der Sturmtrumper’s North Korea policy “doesn’t exist.”  Except that this was a group call with dozens of reporters listening in, some of whom have now named the source publicly in response to this latest barrage of lies.  Unless der Sturmtrumper is in the habit of farming out his policy statements to random strangers, this is once again an example of his complete and utter inability to tell the truth.

22. Though it is an example of his larger tactic.  In an interview with Lesley Stahl – a reporter who has more credibility in her little finger than der Sturmtrumper has in his entire mafia-like organization combined – der Sturmtrumper was very clear on why he does stuff like this.  Stahl asked him to explain why he continually insults and lies about journalists, and his response was telling.  “You know why I do it?” he asked her.  “I do it to discredit you all and demean you all so when you write negative stories about me, no one will believe you.”  And with his gullible base, it’s working.  This is how autocrats destroy republics.

23. So apparently der Sturmtrumper and his minions, lackeys, sycophants and henchmen have enacted a new policy whereby they steal children from their parents and put them, um, “into foster care or whatever,” in the immortal words of John Kelly.  Kelly sees nothing wrong with this.  Kelly has thus definitively proven himself to be a waste of space and oxygen and a wart on the ass of humanity.

Let’s just be clear about this, people.  When your stated policy is to destroy families and blight the lives of children, you are in fact the problem.  You are wrong.  You are, in fact, evil.  As a parent, I cannot tell you how enraged I am that my own government is sufficiently immoral and cruel to separate children from their parents like that.  It’s almost as enraged as I am about the fact that there are so many people in this country who see nothing wrong with this.  Fuck.  Them.  All.  Sideways.

Please remember: the Nuremberg War Crime Trials established the principle that “just following orders” was not a legal defense.  This principle carries legal weight here in the United States.  For example, the US military specifically requires its personnel to disobey unlawful orders.  This is pure-grade Crimes Against Humanity shit that der Sturmtrumper’s regime is pulling here, and make no mistake: everyone who takes part in it, everyone who goes along with it, everyone who speaks in its defense will be subject to the full weight of justice.

May their God forgive them, because I will not.

24. Meanwhile der Sturmtrumper is on the public warpath blaming Democrats for his own twisted policy on immigrant children.  Folks, don’t listen to the lies.  The policy of destroying families and stealing children is a direct result of Republican priorities and policies, implemented by a Republican president, with the support of a mind-bogglingly large number of Republican voters who are apparently only support children until the moment they’re born and then are happy to throw them into the nearest bonfire.  Watching people defend this lie and this policy has been an eye-opening experience for anyone who still held out hope for humanity.

25. Just gonna leave this riiiiiight here.

26. GOP Congressman Peter King – always a reliable source of right-wing insanity dressed up as hubris, which is as close as he can get to pretending to be normal – has decided that NFL players kneeling during the national anthem is basically the same thing as “players giving Nazi salutes.”  Uh, Pete?  You belong to a party that is increasingly difficult to separate from actual Nazis, you know that, right?  I’d back down from those comparisons if I were you.  You might irritate some of the “fine people” who tend to get frothy at the sight of powerful black men being lumped in with them, and who knows what those losers will do next.  Just saying.

27. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, April 2018 was the 400th consecutive month with above historically average temperatures.  The last time the planet had a cooler than average month was December 1984.  Meanwhile carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have now reached 410ppm, which is the highest in all of recorded history.  This means that we are headed for a “worst case scenario” climate change in the next century, one that will wreak havoc on the natural environment and leave large portions of the globe essentially uninhabitable.  And yet der Sturmtrumper and the rest of the GOP insists that everything is fine, just fine, because they’ll be gone by that point and fuck your grandchildren that’s why.  The short-sighted stupidity of the American right wing knows no bounds whatsoever.

28. Der Sturmtrumper is so determined to undermine Robert Mueller’s investigation into his crimes that he is willing to violate basic legal principals to do so.  That’s how you ended up with his chief of staff and his attorney sitting in on a classified briefing given by the Justice Department on the investigation itself.  As one FBI official said, “This is an investigation centering squarely around the president and his cohorts and we’ve got the president’s chief of staff attending a classified briefing – and getting sensitive intelligence – about said investigation.  It’s a fucking circus.”  When told that der Sturmtrumper’s lawyer was also there, he added, “This is truly mind-boggling.”  Noted Renato Mariotti, a longtime federal prosecutor in Chicago, “It is completely inappropriate for a lawyer representing a subject of the investigation to attend the congressional oversight meeting in which nonpublic information about the investigation was revealed.  What possible legitimate purpose could his attendance have served?”  None, but that’s the point.  This is a blatant attempt to intimidate the investigators while simultaneously accessing information they have no right to have at this point.  This crosses a line.  Not that the GOP cares.  They’ve amply demonstrated that the only lines they care about are the ones that strengthen their cast-iron grip on power, however legitimately or illegitimately obtained or maintained.

29. Der Sturmtrumper has been twisting himself in knots with accusations that the FBI was “spying” on his campaign for political purposes.  Horrors!  Zut alors!  Except that nothing of the kind actually happened.  There was an informant, but that was for criminal investigation purposes – and der Sturmtrumper may not think so, but there is a difference between crime and politics.  And when a classified briefing was held for Republican and Democratic legislators on the subject, the bipartisan consensus was that this whole spying thing was just so much nonsense.  “Nothing we heard today has changed our view that there is no evidence to support any allegation that the FBI or any intelligence agency placed a spy in the Trump campaign or otherwise failed to follow appropriate procedures and protocols,” noted Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.  Meanwhile GOP leaders – who should be shouting from the rooftops if there were anything even remotely plausible to these accusations (and who might well shout anyway if they thought they could get away with even the appearance of substance to those accusations) have been, well, silent.  Neither Paul Ryan nor Devin Nunes (Trump’s pet attack dog, according to Nunes’ own hometown newspaper) were willing to comment publicly, and apparently Nunes said nothing at all during the actual briefing.

30. Of course there’s nothing to this but misdirection and partisan smokeblowing.  Der Sturmtrumper’s latest pet attorney, Rudy Giuliani (who has a disconcerting habit of blowing holes in his boss’s stories) has flat out admitted as much.  “It is for public opinion,” he told CNN.  He and der Sturmtrumper were using a “very specific, very political strategy to undermine the investigation.”  It’s all about public relations prior to impeachment, and it’s interesting that even the president’s own lawyers are pretty much conceding that their man is impeachment fodder.  They just want to spin the public relations when it happens.  Let that sink in why don’t you.

31. So der Sturmtrumper is apparently eager to get into a trade war with, um, everyone.  Including every single one of our allies.  Even Canada, of all places!  Combined with the recent repeal of the financial oversight laws put into place after the economic collapse of 2008, you really do have to wonder how much of a foreign agent this guy is.  If I were planning to destroy the United States, I don’t think I could have done a better job than the one der Sturmtrumper and his minions, cronies, lackeys, lickspittles, and enablers have done.

32. A new study conducted by researchers at two California universities and published by the journal Social Forces has concluded the obvious: white Americans hate social safety net programs because they think too many non-whites are benefiting from them.  They hate them so much, in fact, that they are willing to suffer in order to see non-whites suffer – whites, after all, make up the majority of Medicaid and food stamp recipients, and slashing those programs to hurt non-whites amounts to cutting off your nose to spite your face.  Whites, when confronted by the inescapable demographic fact that they will be a minority soon, fear the loss of privilege and are doing everything to maintain their grip on power and are flocking to the GOP to achieve this.  Other research shows that whites with high levels of “racial resentment” line up with the GOP on most issues, up to and including the hallucinatory view that climate change is somehow not real.

Makes a man kind of embarrassed to share a skin color with some people.  But you know what?  To hell with them.  I am who I am, and they need to grow up and stop being such idiots.

33. A new UN report (freely available online) has concluded that the United States is rapidly increasing its already historic and unsustainable levels of economic inequality thanks to the policies put into place by der Sturmtrumper and his minions, lackeys, and cronies, and that if this trend continues the entire country could face serious and permanent damage.  “It’s clear that this administration is totally out of step with the rest of the advanced world,” noted the study.  “[T]he policies pursed over the past year seem deliberately designed to remove basic protections from the poorest, punish those who are not in employment, and make even basic health care a privilege,” said the author in an interview with The Guardian.  “This is a systematic attack on America’s welfare program that is undermining the social safety net for those who can’t cope on their own.  Once you start removing any sense of government commitment, you quickly move into cruelty.”

Remember, folks: when the poor have nothing left to eat, they will eat the rich.  This is how history works.  The United States is not immune to history.  Don’t be surprised or say you weren’t warned.

34. Der Sturmtrumper’s lawyers are scared shitless.  That’s really the only plausible explanation for their frantic attempts to argue against a subpoena coming from Robert Mueller for their client.  They know he’s a crook.  They know he can’t give a straight answer to even the most comically simple question, something Giuliani recently admitted by saying that they don’t want him to testify because his “recollections keep changing,” which is just another way to say that he’s told so many lies he can’t keep them all straight or tell them from reality anymore.  They know he will commit perjury simply because that’s what he does.  They know that putting him under oath will be a festival of criminal activity over and above whatever he’s being asked about.  They’re desperate to keep this from happening.  So desperate, in fact, that they’ve pulled out the old Nixonian argument.  “The president cannot illegally obstruct any aspect of the investigation,” they claim.  “When the president does it, that means it’s not illegal,” said Nixon. 

That, folks, is the very definition of tyranny.  That is a dictatorship.  When a president can decide on his own, without reference to the law and without any check on his power, whether he himself can be investigated for crimes, you can pretty much forget about liberty.  This is EXACTLY what the Founding Fathers feared would happen to their republic.  Congratulations, those of you who continue to support der Sturmtrumper – you are officially working to destroy the American experiment in self-governance.

Understand something, folks: there is NOBODY above the law in this country.  The president is not a king.  He is not a tyrant, much though the current occupant of the office likes to think he is.  The president is nothing more than our most public servant.  He works for us.  And he is bound by the law and the Constitution just like us.  Presidents – and this one most of all – are fully capable of committing crimes.  And they must be severely punished when they do.

The fact that his lawyers are even making this nonsensical argument strongly suggests that they are just throwing out whatever idiotic things they can in order to keep the gullible on board, and that they know the GOP doesn’t have the backbone to call them on it.  When the history of this shameful administration is written, the most vitriolic contempt will be reserved for the GOP Congress who stood idly by and let this reckless fool and his supporters destroy the country.

35. On a historical note, consider this headline:

Do these idiots not realize that this exact sentiment was one of the contributing factors that led to the Revolution?  Have they not heard about The Administration of Justice Act of 1774, which was considered by the colonists to be one of the Intolerable Acts?  The colonists called it The Murder Act because they felt that it effectively gave permission to royal officials to shoot people down in cold blood without facing any legal consequences, much as Giuliani is claiming for der Sturmtrumper.  Are they trying to provoke another Revolution?  Lawsey, I hope not.  Once one of those things starts you have no idea where it will end or at what cost.  But sometimes I think that has to be their goal.  If it isn’t, they’re pretty goddamned stupid to be saying the things they’re saying.

36.  I’ll be more interested in the search for intelligent life in the universe after I see more evidence of it here on Earth.