A disgusting embarrassment

Holy crap.

There is so much wrong with this that I don’t quite know where to start.

1. Why would you give a “crazed, crying lowlife” a job at the White House? Especially one that you gave open access to the Oval Office? And paid more than anyone else (citation needed)?

2. You “guess it just didn’t work out”?? What kind of lame-ass statement is that? Is that how you hire everyone in the Current GOP Administration — just roll the dice and hope it “works out”?[1] Is this your vaunted “business experience”?[2]

3. Did you really mean “dog,” or did you not have enough tweet characters to type “bitch”? I can’t imagine it was reticence that stopped you.

4. That first sentence is a right mess. “When you…, …. I…” is just disordered, and I use the word deliberately.

5. And above all, this is the President of the United States issuing this statement. The person who stands for our country, whom we would like to imagine personifies the qualities of our nation that we value. This would be embarrassing enough if he were still a private business failure, but he is the President. Of. The. United. States.

What is to be done?

—  —  —  —  —

[1] viz., Anthony Scaramucci, Steve Bannon, Tom Price, Seb Gorka, Scott Pruitt, et al.

[2] Yes.

Dear Amygdala-Based Lifeforms…

So yesterday afternoon, the Current Disgrace tweeted this:

I am not going to get into all the LAW, ORDER [,] and JUSTICE that the Republican Administration is doing all over the place at the moment.[1] Rather, allow me to address the premise of the direct intravenous shot of fear and anger he’s giving his amygdala-based followers.

Seriously, if you are one of the amygdala-based lifeforms who follow this man, I need you to stop and think about this. This man is telling you that one of the two major political parties in this country has as their policy goals “anarchy, amnesty [,] and chaos.”  He wants you to believe that one of the two major political parties wants gang warfare,[2] and drug epidemics as their party platform.

And taking “jobs and benefits away from hardworking Americans”? What the hell is he talking about?[3]

Does any of that make any sense at all, if you stop to think about it? We will all pause to allow you to stop and think about it.

NO, IT DOES NOT MAKE ANY SENSE AT ALL. Whatever the Democratic Party’s political goals are, they do not include destroying this country. THINK ABOUT IT.

Having given it some thought, the amgydala-based lifeform’s brain, in fear of being cut off from its oh-so-intoxicating hit of fear and anger, does a record scratch: “But… OKAY THAT DOESN’T MAKE SENSE BUT IT’S STILL TRUE!! MAGA!!!!!”

::sigh::

—  —  —  —  —

[1] But I will mention that a man who doesn’t use the Oxford comma is a moral monster who should be shunned in any case.

[2] Like in Honduras or El Salvador, which REFUGEES ARE FLEEING FROM TO OUR BORDERS, KENNETH? But let that pass.

[3] I have to assume that he is not talking about his own trade wars — soon to bring job losses near you — or his own party’s budget — which, since it’s ballooned the deficit to trillions, now needs to be “balanced” by cutting your Social Security benefits.

Happy Independence Day

(Originally published 7/4/14; republishing because it’s still true)

On this lovely July 4 morning, I know before I even go on Facebook that statuses will have appeared overnight like toadstools encouraging us all to be grateful to our armed forces.  I would like to respectfully decline.

It’s not that I’m not grateful for the men and women who—these days—volunteer for this most awful of jobs, but gratitude is not what the people who post these things are generally and actually suggesting.  They want us to worship our military strength.  I actually had someone tell me recently that I should “know my place” in regards to those (including him) who “fought and bled” for my freedoms. (Being the gentle soul that I am, I did not respond that my “place” was, as a civilian, the boss of him.)

So I would like to remind everyone that what we celebrate today is not our military victory that made this nation de facto independent. What we celebrate today is the IDEAS that made us the nation that we became.  We celebrate John Adams and Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin and Button Gwinnett, whose erudition and interest in political philosophy drew from sources both ancient and contemporary to formulate something the world had never seen before: a nation of principles.

Did we have to shed blood to attain and confirm those principles?  Indeed—we were fighting even as the document was drafted, edited, and ratified.  But we were not founded as a nation of war; the Constitution actually forbids a standing army.  We were founded as a nation of theory by men of thought.  And that is what I celebrate today.

What Ben Hill shows us

I don’t know if you’ve ever been on the internet, but if you have and you follow politics at all, then you have probably run into the bad faith argument which argues that nuh-uh Democrats are the real racists because Lincoln freed the slaves and the Democrats founded the KKK so there. I have blogged about it here.

One evening recently, having driven home around I-285, I found myself wondering exactly why we have a road in Atlanta and a county down south named “Ben Hill.”  Why the two names? For a millisecond I thought it was some weird fluke in history that we were honoring a Jewish or Arabic Georgian, but that thought dissolved immediately in derision. I was back to wondering who “Ben Hill” was.

Short answer: U.S. and C.S.A. senator, Benjamin Harvey Hill. Complicated fellow, but apparently well respected enough to have a county named after him 25 years after he died. (Still no answer as to why we use his whole name.  What’s wrong with plain old Hill County?  But I digress.)

Here’s the eye-opener, though: in the Wikipedia article on the county itself, there’s a chart of presidential elections and how the county voted.  Go have a look.

From 1912–1960, solid Democrat. Then, suddenly, in 1964, Republican. And in 1968, Independentand except for a couple of aberrations for Southern candidates, it’s been solid red ever since.

Is there any doubt about what happened? You might think that suddenly the population of Ben Hill County became concerned about their stock market investments and other typical Republican issues, but you might be A Idiot. (Have you ever been to Fitzgerald? I have; my mother was born there.) You could try to resist linking the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964 to the switch, but 1968 gives it away: they voted for George Wallace, people.  Hmm.

So yes, once again, the Democratic Party was formerly the party of racist voters. A century ago. But Ben Hill County puts it right out there: those voters have switched their party allegiance, and it ain’t because they’re concerned about their stock portfolios.

 

FREEDUMB!

So this popped up on the Facetubes recently:

Honey, please.

This entire attitude that taxation is theft and regulation is totalitarian is bizarre. The tough guy stance that this meme represents is a pose held by people who nevertheless continue to drink their uncontaminated water and eat their safe food.  Yes, Flint, MI, still has unsafe water, but that rather proves the point, doesn’t it? Regulations are necessary for an actual society.

My response to this silliness is to take a page from these people’s playbook — who for some reason are rabid jingoists too (and no, I don’t know how that works) — and say, “Hey, if you don’t like it here…” I hear that life in Somalia is free from all kinds of government interference.

By the way, the DavidAvocadoWolfe at the bottom — he has his own category on Snopes. I can imagine why he thinks government regulation is oppressive.

 

Wrapped in a flag

As Sinclair Lewis did not say, “When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.”

I was strolling down the street to fetch a pizza yesterday, and for some reason this struck me:

I thought to myself, “Why is the Baptist church flying an American flag?”

Let me be clear: I was raised in that bathwater, so I know that the flag/patriotism/jingoism has long been an item of worship there.

And since I was raised in that bathwater, I also know that the origins of the Baptist faith, indeed of Christianity in this country, would teach that the church owes no allegiance to the government. Their authority does not derive from the government, nor should they seek the imprimatur of any earthly power.

But they do.  Especially since the 1970s/80s, Christianists in this country have been increasingly strident about how they and the U.S. government are one — or should be. They want laws that protect them — and only them — or that push their “morality” onto the rest of the population.

And now, with the Current Embarrassment, they find themselves in an appalling bind, tied to a man whose lack of morality is entire and whom they must continue to endorse and wink at if they want to continue to cling to power.  For that is what this is all about: they fly an American flag because they see no distinction between themselves and the government.  They want the power to dictate their rules to the rest of us.  They reject the notion that they are only one part of a diverse nation: they are America, the real America.

Then they express bafflement when the rest of us describe them as bigots and racists, cruel in ways that would appall any truly devout person of any faith, exclusive and prohibitory, unkind, ungenerous, and fascist.

If you’re a church-goer, before you object that your congregation is not like that, that your gang is Christ-like, I ask you: do you fly the American flag? Is it, like the Baptist example above, above the “Christian flag”? Why is that? Yes, it’s the official flag code that the U.S. flag flies on top, but what have you to do with the official flag code? “Render unto Caesar…”? I’m not sure that Christ meant your allegiance.

Think about that the next time you Pledge.

Governing — how does it work?

Here’s an article about the GOP infighting over bringing immigration bills to the floor for a vote.  Go read it.

Apparently, it’s just short of open rebellion for representatives to petition for discharge, i.e., override the leadership’s agenda, which apparently in this case is to let the bills die in committee so that the Republicans won’t have to be seen voting to be incredibly cruel to humans — which would please their base but outrage the average voter, here in the year of our lord Midterms.  Indeed, why bring it to a vote when the current administration is doing a bang-up job being incredibly cruel to humans all on its own?

Here’s the quote that makes me shake my head with disgust:

“It would be an approach that would rely on mostly Democratic votes and some Republicans to pass their bill,” Scalise said, “and that’s not the way to solve this problem.”

Let’s be clear about what Rep. Scalise is saying here: we shouldn’t be trying to pass legislation — or even vote on it — using votes from both parties. We shouldn’t try to pass laws using a majority of votes from the entire House of Representatives. Laws cannot be passed with the votes of the people representing all the citizens of the United States. “That’s not the way to solve this problem.”

There are other versions of this gobbledygook all the way up and down the article: “the importance of keeping control of the legislative vehicle and solving the problem on our terms where we focus on solutions, not politics” (because passing the bills is not a solution?); “I think it’s better to use the legislative process” (which apparently does not necessarily include bringing bills to the floor for a vote); “I don’t believe in discharge petitions” (from Steve King, who probably has done a lot to keep any of the bills from being voted on).

It’s all well and good to decry our system as broken and to point fingers at both sides, but at the moment there’s only one party in charge of both chambers of Congress, and this is their attitude towards governing: if we can’t get a bill passed with just our votes, then it’s not going to pass.  They even have a name for it, the Hastert Rule, and if you think “both sides do it,” click on that link and have someone read the first sentence for you.

Naked, obscene lust for power.  That’s my name for it. Your mileage may vary.

Try this at home

Okay, Trump supporters, I need you to do this one little experiment.  No, you don’t have to give up your belief that you’re Making America Great Again; you can peddle that little tricycle all you like.  Just do this one thing.

Yesterday, the president*, speaking to reporters, railed against Robert Mueller’s investigative team, saying:

“So you have all these investigators; they’re Democrats. In all fairness, Bob Mueller worked for Obama for eight years.”

Is this true?

No.

Robert Mueller, for example, is a registered Republican. He was appointed by George W. Bush in 2001 to serve the 10-year term as head of the FBI; Barack Obama asked him to stay on, and he retired two years later in 2013.[1]

So there’s the one little thing I want you to do.  Trump lied. He is telling you something that is not even close to true and is easily checked out.

What does that information mean to you?

No need to answer.  Just file that away and remember this one simple little lie that Donald J. Trump told to you.[2]

UPDATE: (in case the above example is too slippery for you)

“As everybody is aware…”

—  —  —  —  —

[1] Math is hard: he worked for Obama for a little over four years.

[2] You could also consider the attitude so embedded in Trump’s lie that I almost missed it: the idea that because Muller “worked for Obama for eight years” he is obviously personally loyal to Obama and therefore Trump’s enemy. It does not occur to Trump that although men and women like Mueller may serve throughout the Executive branch at the pleasure of the President, they do not actually work for the President. They work for the United States and its citizens.

Trump does not understand this concept in any way.

But I only asked you to do one little thing, so we’re good here.

WWJD?

Our nation’s relationship with immigrants has always been complicated and mostly mean.  Sure, we put up the Statue of Liberty and inscribed a lovely, welcoming poem, but let us not forget that the statue was a gift from France and the installation of the poem was funded by impressionable children. The realpolitik is a lot nastier.

I’m not going to get into the weeds on the topic here, but I do want to note one thing. Whenever Dreamers/DACA are up for discussion, or some immigrant is seized and deported despite living here peaceably for 30 years and owning a well-loved business, the amygdala-based lifeforms who survive on daily doses of fear and panic will screech, “BUT THEY WERE HERE ILLEGALLY! THEY BROKE THE LAW!!!

So for these people, I have a new bumper sticker:

Think about this.

It was just announced that Dr. Ronny Jackson, the White House physician nominated by the president* to head the Veterans Administration, has withdrawn.

And very well might he have done so: charged with creating a hostile, toxic work environment; overprescribing drugs (including Ambien and Percocet); being drunk on the job to the extent that he wrecked a government car and was alleged to have been so much under the influence while on trips abroad that concerns were raised that he’d be unable to assist the President (Obama in this case) if any emergency were to arise. The man sounds a right mess.

Here’s my thought: if you or I knew that we had these… peccadilloes, shall we say?… in our lives, would you or I accept a high profile and probably contentious nomination? If you knew that there was even the possibility of  headlines like the ones that we’ve seen swirling around Rear Admiral Jackson, would you put your name out there for nomination?  Common sense says that you would not.  You already have a good job, and especially if you’re a putz like Jackson, you’d want to hold on to that good thing.

So why did he? If he has a problem with alcohol — and let’s irresponsibly speculate that someone who hands out Ambien on Air Force One might have other issues as well — then perhaps his judgment is not unclouded.

But I think there’s something a little more insidious at work here.  He accepted the nomination because in Trumplandia none of these things are impediments. He expected clear sailing.  He expected to be shielded, or at worst, given a pass.

Because this is our country now.