9/20/2017

Graham-Cassidy Dicks Over So Many People (and Its Sponsors Are Liars)

There's a ton of insidious shit going down in the massive clusterfuck that is the effort to bring the Graham-Cassidy-and-the-rest's "Lynch Obamacare" bill to a vote in the Senate before September 30. Motherfuckers are just flat out lying about shit now in order to get support.

For instance, they insist that the bill protects people with pre-existing conditions. Here's co-sponsor and Louisiana Senator Bill "I Look Like a Creepy Panty-Sniffer" Cassidy on CNN this morning: "There's a specific provision that says that if a state applies for a waiver, it must ensure that those with pre-existing conditions have affordable and adequate coverage." But what the fuck is that? The bill doesn't define "affordable" or "adequate." And I have looked at the fuckin' bill itself. Funny thing: except for one time, the word "affordable" is used only to talk about the Affordable Care Act, which seems to have cornered the fucking market on affordability.

Where's that other usage? In the waivers section. What the bill has about states getting waivers from requirements for the block grants that will take the place of Medicaid is simple. On pre-existing conditions, the waiver applications have to say "how the State intends to maintain access to adequate and affordable health insurance coverage for individuals with pre-existing conditions if such waiver is approved." You see the wide wiggle room there? States just need to say how they "intend" to "maintain access." That ain't a fucking requirement to do anything but say, "Yes, let me pave the road to Hell some more with my fucking intentions." It is not an ironclad assurance in the way Cassidy and Graham are promising it is, the lying shit-sacks.

So you might say, "Well, obviously, if a state doesn't do what it says it's going to do, its waiver can be taken away, right?" No, you fucking credulous dolt. Because, see, once the state gets the waiver approved for one year, it's considered approved for every year after that. Let's go to the bill: "If an application of a State submitted under this subsection is approved by the Administrator for a year, the application shall be deemed to be approved by the Administrator for that year and each subsequent year through December 31, 2026." In other words, Texas can write in its waiver application, "Oh, we totes intend to make sure the cancer patients get affordable, adequate coverage, scout's fuckin' honor, man," and then they don't have to do a goddamn thing because there's no mechanism to take away the waiver once it's given.

Oh, and the waivers are decided by the Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Who appoints that person? Who the fuck do you think?

Another tit-punch in the bill is its blatant attack on anything to do with abortion (with the usual trio of exceptions). First, it says that any insurance that includes abortion coverage is not a "qualified plan," which means that several states, like California, Oregon, and New York, where abortion coverage is required, would have all of their plans immediately ineligible for tax credits to individuals and businesses.

On top of that, there's this groin kick in the middle of the bill: "no Federal funds provided from a program referred to in this subsection that is considered direct spending for any year may be made available to a State for payments to a prohibited entity, whether made directly to the prohibited entity or through a managed care organization under contract with the State." What is a "prohibited entity"? Any place that "is primarily engaged in family planning services, reproductive health, and related medical care; and...provides for abortions." So here is a back door way to slash spending on Planned Parenthood. Dream fulfilled, motherfuckers.

By the way, the bill mentions the word "abortion" 15 times. It uses "pregnancy" 8 times, most of them having to do with abortion. These fucknuts are obsessed.

When I originally started to write this post, I was intending to talk about how Graham-Cassidy-fuck-you dicks over states that expanded Medicaid under the ACA, how it was a calculated punishment for those who dared to be compassionate, how it was taking money away from liberal states like New York and California to give to the ones run by savages, like Texas.

But this isn't just an anti-blue state or anti-Obama bill. It's anti-human, as in "inhumane," as in "devoid of humanity." Which is the motto of the Republican Party.

9/19/2017

The Short Bus to Armageddon: Trump at the U.N.

When do we get to stop being embarrassed, huh? Every time that President Donald Trump opens his lamprey mouth and shakes his semen-colored mane, it's like another shiv in the gut while we stand in the prison shower that is the United States in 2017.

"Which group of shit-sniffing baboons is he gonna talk to this time?" we wonder. Will it be the crazed conservative hawks, the ones whose savagery make Democratic hawks look like confused parakeets? Will it be his base, whose heads are evolving into the shape of a permanent dunce cap, the one-third of the American populace who pretend they want anarchy when, really, all they want are more guns and fewer dark-skinned people? Will it be the unsatiated capitalists, the ones who would monetize child rape if they thought they could squeeze a few more pennies out of the bloodied anuses of babies? And usually, it's all three, to varying degrees, with Trump a carnival barker yelling at the freaks and carnies to scoop up the spilled popcorn and toss it back in with the rest to sell again tomorrow.

At the United Nations today, Trump spoke stiffly and boorishly, his pinch-fingered hand gesticulating like he was jacking off his own micropenis. It was like some kind of dumb college prank, where you make the stupidest freshman get up at karaoke and sing the National Anthem instead of some damn Ed Sheeran song. Put a MAGA hat on that bitch, and you've got a Trump voter.

Whatever you think of the U.N., most of the leaders in that room are people who have dedicated their lives to the politics of their nation. Most of them are vastly educated, well-read, worldly, and, to varying degrees, smart enough to know a fucking idiot when they see one. So you had to imagine the reactions to Trump at the General Assembly ranged from horror to bemusement to calculating how easy it would be to roll this rube (looking at you, Saudi Arabia).

Did Trump brag about how great things are now that he's been president for all of 8 months? Fuck, yeah, you know he did. Actually, apparently, his presidency started even earlier: "The United States has done very well since Election Day last November 8th. The stock market is at an all-time high -- a record. Unemployment is at its lowest level in 16 years, and because of our regulatory and other reforms, we have more people working in the United States today than ever before. Companies are moving back, creating job growth the likes of which our country has not seen in a very long time." Yes, I'm sure Hage Geingob, the president of Namibia, who has a PhD in international relations from the University of Leeds, really thought that Trump deserved the credit for this. (By the way, interestingly, Geingob came to the United States to start college at Temple University, in Philadelphia, in 1964 before transferring to Fordham University in New York City. Trump started at Fordham in 1964 before transferring to the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.)

Were there lines that should have made any sentient world leader just crack up with sad laughter? You bet. "In America, we do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example for everyone to watch," Trump had the gall to say as most of Central and South America, a good chunk of East Asia, and assorted islands from all over the world rolled their eyes so hard they saw their own brain pans.

Sure, but did he sound like a pathetic, low-level thug who wants everyone to think he's a made man? Aw, come on. That's his default mode. He warned, "We can no longer be taken advantage of, or enter into a one-sided deal where the United States gets nothing in return." He threatened, "The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea." And, yeah he called Kim Jong-un "Rocket Man." In front of the U.N. It's like having your drunk aunt shake her bare titties at her nephew's graduation.

And, obviously, Trump talked as if no one else there has any idea how the world works. "If the righteous many do not confront the wicked few, then evil will triumph," he said in a line that's right out of his Captain America fanfic. He continued, "When decent people and nations become bystanders to history, the forces of destruction only gather power and strength." Certainly, every country that has dealt with terrorism, which is a fuck-bunch of 'em, appreciated being told they should not be bystanders.

On it went, with shitting on the Iran deal (which is working, despite every feeble protest Trump makes), praise for Russia and Turkey, called out the "loser terrorists," and repeated a blatant lie: "Our country has achieved more against ISIS in the last eight months than it has in many, many years combined."

Yeah, it was like piss from heaven that all the golden showers lovers on his side could bathe themselves in. And everything you need to know about the speech, and everything that you believe about it, is contained in how you think about this: One of the first people to praise the speech was Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who tweeted, "In over 30 years in my experience with the UN, I never heard a bolder or more courageous speech."

Yes, it's so very brave to threaten to wipe out a desperate tiny country, to walk away from a peace deal, and to ignore the greatest threat to the planet, climate change, altogether. We're riding the short bus to Armageddon. And there are no stops ahead.

9/18/2017

Fresh Health Care Fuckery: Your McCain Praise Was Probably Wasted

Ah, remember when Mighty Maverick John McCain was the mighty maverick hero last time there was a vote on a bullshit health care "reform" bill with his mighty mavericky thumbs-down? Remember the ejaculations of praise for this irascible cockhead doing something decent just to fuck with Donald Trump? Remember his slobber-coated speech where he said of the Senate, "Let's trust each other. Let's return to regular order"? Remember how he insisted, "Let the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee under Chairman Alexander and Ranking Member Murray hold hearings, try to report a bill out of committee with contributions from both sides. Then bring it to the floor for amendment and debate"?

Yeah, fuck all that noise. Now that the new spiked dildo of health care, the Graham-Cassidy-etc bill, is threatening to be rammed up the hemorrhoidal anus of the American people, with just about every fucking terrible thing as the last attempt intact, McCain said that he wanted to hear from Gov. Doug Ducey of Arizona. Ducey had opposed the previous Trumpcare bill because it dicked over Arizonans on expanded Medicaid. Now Ducey has said he supports Graham-Cassidy-who-the-fuck-cares, even though the aforementioned dicking remains, and McCain has tweeted that he's still feeling cranky about the process but is "inclined" to support the bill.

And even if McCain ends up going thumbs-down again, fuck him for even contemplating an upraised thumb. Either you've got principles or you don't, motherfucker.

In all the time the GOP has had, since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, since the election, since the failure of the "Fuck You, We Don't Care If You Die Bankrupt" bill in July, they have not made a case for repeal except "We said we'd do it." It's like a bunch of morons promising to light their farts if their favorite team wins a championship. The only people who wanna see that are other morons. Right now, we're down to 8.8% of Americans without health insurance, and a good number of those are because of the assholes in Republican states not expanding Medicaid.

Who does this bill help? It's faith-based legislation. Republicans say that Obamacare is making you suffer, so, if you're GOP-inclined, you believe it's making you suffer (even if it's paying for your chemo or psoriasis medication). And you have staked your entire political belief system on your investment in this bullshit. You'd rather die a miserable death than admit that you were always the mark for a bunch of low-rent Barnums. This way to the amazing egress, idiots. Grab a snipe on your way.

I wrote last week about the remarkable care I received in the UK for free. I was in the middle of the fourth largest city in the country, and every complaint I've heard about single-payer was rendered utterly and completely false.

Yet here we are, unable to even agree that tens of millions of people, including those with pre-existing conditions, who are now covered by the Affordable Care Act, deserve to be treated as human beings. What a stupid goddamned society we've built. It's repulsive. It's disgusting. It's immoral. And yet so many of our dumb fellow citizens think this is the way things ought to be.

The cruelest trick that capitalists ever played on Americans was making them believe they didn't need everyone else. Our fake rugged individualism will be our undoing.

And for those of us who do give a shit about our fellow Americans, it's once more to the phones to make Senators fear for their careers.

9/14/2017

An American in the UK National Health Service

It had been a stressful few weeks, with far more than the usual amount of fuckery and frantic frenzy, and I arrived in Liverpool last Friday on a total of about 4 hours of sleep in two days. Walking around the Liverpool One area shortly after dropping off my bags, heading towards the Tesco to get some supplies, I realized that I was sweating like Nicholas Cage on a meth bender and my heart was racing like, well, the same. I felt a tightness in my chest, short of breath, needing to sit down, and I thought, "Well, fuck, this would fuck up the next week or so." When your Dad dies of a heart attack at 46, you take that shit seriously.

So I found a National Health Service walk-in clinic just around the corner from Tesco. It was in the same space as the NHS's sexual health office, which offered free morning after pills, among other things. I went in and there were maybe twenty people sitting there. I don't know how many needed sex-related attention and how many needed regular medical help. But a very nice receptionist took my name, date of birth, and phone number, and then she asked what was wrong. I described my condition without the mention of Nicholas Cage or meth, which could have confused the whole situation. She very nicely told me to take a seat and that triage would be with me shortly. The triage nurse, I learned, examines everyone to see who might need to get in sooner than others. Apparently, I was looking terrible enough to be bumped to the front of the line.

After a few moments, I was called back to see the nurse practitioner, Niamh (pronounced "Neeve" because, well, Irish names). I can honestly say that I've never been treated with as much care, patience, and good humor by a medical professional as I was by  Niamh. She asked permission every time she wanted to do anything, from take my blood pressure to listen to my pulse. Even as I kept insisting that I was probably just exhausted and whiny, she took everything about my condition incredibly seriously and assured me that I should just follow through with what she was recommending. "It won't cost you anything," she said more than once, as if understanding the anxiety that Americans have about health care spending. "Unless you're admitted to hospital." She laughed and joked, and we talked like we're human beings having a conversation, not a transaction.

Niamh asked me a few questions about health insurance in the United States and shook her head at it. "I'm afraid we're going to head to that kind of system," she exclaimed. She told me a story about when she and her family - husband and five children - visited New York City the previous year. Her youngest, a toddler, had gotten an ear infection, so they went to a walk-in clinic, just as I had come to this one. She told the receptionist that they would pay out of pocket for expenses because they would be reimbursed when they came home. "Now, they prescribed my little one a medicine," Niamh said, "one that I know is in that locked cupboard behind you. And I know that it costs about three pounds. Do you know how much they charged me in the states? $354." She laughed, as one can when they get the money back for outrageous expenses. I told her that her experience is pretty typical.

Apparently, the way the UK system works is that whoever is taking care of you stays with you until you are moved on to the next person. Niamh recommended that I go to the Royal Liverpool Hospital for blood tests. She called ahead to see if they could move me through quickly because she knew that I wanted to get back to what I was doing. And she insisted, gently, that I take an ambulance to the hospital, even as I said I could just take a cab and would be embarrassed by such a fuss. She thought I was foolish for saying that and said that she didn't want to have to worry about anything happening to me on the ride over. I relented when she said I wouldn't be wheeled out on a stretcher. Just a wheelchair.

The two EMTs were also kind and professional and chatty, utterly and completely concerned with my well-being. One of the EMTs, a woman named Phil, told me that she had just gotten into the Royal Coast Guard sea rescue training program. The other, a man named Jack, told me about his two teenage boys, one who loves history and one who was an IT guy. When we arrived at the hospital, they advocated for me to get treatment, even though my blood pressure had returned to earth and, really, I was feeling much better. Phil and Jack said their good-byes when a nurse took me (by now, I was on a wheeled stretcher) to check me in, sitting in the hallway outside the emergency room. I was placed next to another gurney with a grizzled old man there who said he was "Mike" and wanted me to fist-bump his scabby, fungal hand. I did because, fuck, why not.

People working there wanted to talk about New York and New Jersey. One attendant, an old guy named Mick who sounded like John Lennon, chatted me up about Bruce Springsteen and Jake Clemons. The nurse who did my ECG (my second of the afternoon) wanted to talk about The Sopranos and places she could visit from the show (looking at you, Holsten's Ice Cream).

Finally, I was brought to a curtained room in the ER where, after a bit, a doctor came in and took blood samples. The doctor examined me again and, even though she insisted I should stay for another two hours and await the lab results, she brought me forms where I could discharge myself, promising I would call to see if the tests showed anything. (Spoiler: They didn't. I was fine.) As I filled out the forms, I asked her and the attending doctor, who needed to witness, for restaurant recommendations, which they readily gave me.

I've sped up the last part here, but, from walking into the clinic to leaving the ER of the hospital, it was a total of four hours. And there was not a single person I met who seemed angry or beleaguered or disgusted by the system they worked in. Every one of them was simply devoted to making sure I was ok. No profit motive. No forms to fill out. No card to check. No in-network or out-of-network. No phone calls to beg for approval. I didn't pay a dime. That's how you treat a guest.

I was blown away. Obviously, I know it can't always work so smoothly and efficiently (and that there are rocky times ahead for the NHS), but, holy shit, there was something so sane and humane about the entire process that I felt a revulsion towards what we're put through in the United States just to try to not die, the degradation of putting a price tag on our health.

If we actually lived up to the ideals that we supposedly have as Americans, we'd look out for each other by making sure that no one has to have one's worth measured against what one can afford.

Fucking pass single-payer. Or stop fucking pretending that we're a society and just admit that the USA is a Darwinian dystopia.

9/13/2017

Guest Posts on Life in Trump Country, Part 3: Florida Wants to Be Blue, But Can't Help But Be Red

(Today, I saw an anti-Brexit rally in Trafalgar Square with thousands of people cheering to stay in the EU. Meanwhile, in the United States, we're still bumblefucking our way through the Trumpocalypse. Here's a perspective on that from Paul in Florida. Note: He has chosen to use a lowercase "t" in "Trump.")

I've lived in Florida since my family moved to stay back in 1976. Dad just retired from the Navy,  and we moved close to where my mom's parents were. Since then, through college and into work and now into my 40s, the Sunshine State is all I can remember ever living in.

Some parts of Florida are relatively low-key about politics, or at least there's enough diversity among the people that you aren't drowned by the far right stuff. But it's there. You'll see the anti-abortion billboards in the smaller-populated counties up north, or along I-4 in the central corridor where a lot of evangelical and hard-right Protestant churches gathered during the 1980s population boom.

When trump started his campaign, there just seemed to be a shift in the mood. It may have been I grew more sensitive about it, but I started seeing more super-trucks driving around with the CBF whipping from the payloads. This was also when I noticed the bizarre exhaust pipes those trucks had, which issued black smoke and bad odors every time they revved out at a stoplight. I finally found out about Coal Rollers, which truckers had to waste money on to make their engines belch out more carbon shit all to piss off any hippie treehuggers in their midst. It's insane, and it explained the mindset of a trump voter so perfectly.

I did notice about five people on my Facebook pages - I follow them because of local activities - suddenly getting more open about their anti-Obama views. After November, one of them got so vulgar about it - posting the racist photos and memes floating out there - I finally had to defriend him. I hadn't had to do that in four years (I try to be respectful with the FB friends with differing political views, and engage when there's corrections or arguments to make, but I try to avoid the whole blocking thing).

Part of the problem of living in trump Country is having to live in a state that is of two minds about politics: the population leans Democratic overall, but terrible voter turnout - either from apathy or the twisted gerrymandering that's hampered Florida for decades - keeps the Republicans in power at the state level, and disproportionately powerful in Congress and elsewhere. The Blue sides are mostly in the urban centers - South Florida, Tampa, parts of Orlando, the college town of Gainesville - but the Red areas are spread all over, giving the GOP a geographic advantage over the populace.

As a result, the voters keep pushing for smaller classroom sizes and more schools, better election districts, more funding for environmental protections (especially our Everglades and other wetlands), and other progressive issues... while the elected officials keep ignoring the referendum mandates and push their tax cuts and land development pet projects.

On a personal level, I do what I can to tune out the wingnut stuff, and stay in touch with online channels of like-minded moderates and progressives. But nearly everybody I know like that doesn't live in Florida; I keep feeling like I'm the only one here in the state struggling to fight against the ignorance and grief. I know there are others who share my views and my current sorrows, but I can't see them. And it just gets so lonely.

9/12/2017

Guest Posts on Life in Trump Country, Part 2: Idaho Is Owned by Republicans

(As I continue my search for a decent meal in London, I've turned the blog over to some red staters who are not fond of our president. It's for all of us who are sick of hearing about Trump voters who don't give a damn if Trump is boning Ivanka. Today's entry comes from Kent Jensen from way out in Idaho. He explains the "cognitive dissonance" that it takes to love Trump while being from that state.)

I live in the reddest state in the union. Others may claim this title, but they are poseurs. Idaho is not only run by Republicans; it’s owned lock stock and barrel by them. All state officers are Republicans. Republicans hold 84 percent of the seats in the state legislature. In every decision by Trump to kick the U.S. down to the bottom of the ladder, Idaho’s congressional delegation has been at the forefront. Pull us out of the Paris Climate Accords? Murray Energy-owned Senators Risch and Crapo were two of the signatories to the letter urging Trump to do so. Get rid of DACA? Governor Otter and our Attorney General were on board to sue the federal government over DACA. If Trump wants to strip millions of their health care, the boys from Idaho would help. Need to defend Trump’s Russian collusion? Call Senator Risch. In fact, I’m not sure that these political jellyfish would abandon Trump even if he were caught throwing the pee hookers off the Ritz-Carlton Hotel balcony.

Idaho has an anti-federal government stance that is an inch deep and a mile wide. Idahoans complain about the federal government, but this state would dry up and blow away without it. The Snake River plain is one of the richest agricultural sections in the entire United States, and its existence depends upon the BLM’s management of dams on the Snake River that provide irrigation water. Rural counties receive substantial payments from the federal government that help pay for county services and schools. Idaho forests have some of the best fishing and hunting grounds in the US, all maintained by the federal government. Yet Republicans believe that their very lifeblood is being wrung out of them by the government.

They support Trump’s anti-trade stands, yet Idaho’s three largest trading partners are China, Mexico and Canada. If Trump did away with NAFTA, Idaho’s agricultural exports would sink. Trump’s elimination of the Pacific Rim trade pact has already impacted Idaho’s beef producers. Yet, nary a discouraging word is heard about Trump.

Additionally, Idaho Republicans love Trump’s anti-immigration stance, even though undocumented workers and their DACA-eligible children have been the ones who have labored to keep the agricultural engine purring along.

Idaho’s Republican Party also believes that it is the moral barometer of the state. Nowhere is this evidenced more than among the Mormon religion, which is dominant in south-central, eastern, and southeastern Idaho. The Mormon religion claims to hold itself to an overarching moral standard. Yet Idaho’s Mormons gave wholehearted support to Trump. Many believe that Trump is doing Jesus’s work and that good Mormons cannot be Democrats. Since they worship authority (you’ll never find any student protests at BYU), Trump’s penchant for authoritarianism doesn’t even get a second thought, nor does Trump’s aversion to the truth.

Even though Nazis were evicted from northern Idaho by the SPLC, they’re back. The forests of northern Idaho are full of last dayers, preppers, militiamen, or whatever they call themselves now. They claim to be the vanguard of white nationalism.

So, with its latent racism, it’s kinship with authoritarianism, along with its blatant hypocrisy, Idaho is the perfect state for Trump. Don’t get me wrong; there are many good people who live here, which is why the Trump support puzzle is so hard to decipher. Cognitive dissonance is my explanation, and, even though it was not formulated here, its roots grow deep and strong in Idaho.

A few days ago a neighbor posted to Facebook a meme that stated he had voted for Trump and if that made us angry, it didn’t matter because he was going to vote for Trump again. He’s probably right, and if Trump is still around in 2020, Idaho will throw its support his way. It’s the Republican thing to do out here.

9/11/2017

Guest Post on Life in Trump Country, Part 1: Arizona Is Like Hell

(Note: I'm out of the country for the week, taking some personal time, boss. In my absence, some great rude readers have written about life as a Trump hater in states that Trump won. Think of it as a necessary corrective to all those fucking New York Times stories about Trump voters sticking by their "man." Today's post is by Arizona resident Lauren E. Dillon)

Arizona is a lot like hell: the heat licks like flames, the air desiccates once-supple flesh, and sinners bloated with pride and privilege converge and bluster in incomprehensible callowness.

It’s at its worst in Scottsdale. These are not Rust Belt victims of modernization and downsizing. These are well-to-do white men stewing in their own juices of privilege and self-assuredness. They look upon a liberal woman like me, outspoken in my defense of brown skin, climate science, and equal rights, as deluded and below them.

They live sustained by their collective prejudices and unwavering in their Fox and Breitbart News-buoyed opinions. This is the land of Sheriff Joe with his tent city concentration camp, chain gangs, pink boxers, and Hispanic roundups. Often, they’ve served in his posse (yes, that’s what he named it), believing they’ve done their civic duty.

This is also the land of John McCain, once admired for his “maverick” qualities, now derided for defying their Orange Messiah. Whether he realizes it or not, McCain’s pulling a Lee Atwater, saving healthcare and attempting to cure Congress to make up for giving us Sarah Palin and Joe the Plumber, hawking war after war, and spewing racial epithets and insensitive put-downs.

And then came Trump. In a land where the Old West attitude of openly carrying weapons and defying social norms is celebrated, a loudmouth racist who derides everyone but their white male selves, who scorns intellect and science in favor of nineteenth century business and societal attitudes, who makes no effort towards diplomacy or decency, was manna from Wal-Mart. Any bags who once attempted to plug their inner douche have let it gush unimpeded. And they are legion.

But we live here and must for the time being. We own a house, have a grandchild enrolled in school, work decent paying jobs. Do I hate Arizona? Sometimes. Often. But I see glimpses of hope amid hate. When The Scourge came to town to rewrite his Charlottesville response and tease of his eventual pardon of Racist Joe, my 12-year-old grandson and I stood in 107 degree heat, holding signs above our heads with thousands of others, all united knowing this country is better than an imbecilic man-baby and his puffed-up minions. Downtown Phoenix contains large swaths of blue, as does Flagstaff and Sedona and Tucson. The Resistance grows, sometimes beaten back by overzealous police, overreaching executive actions, and personal despondency. But it grows.

We won’t let Pussygrabber and the Conceited Motherfuckers win. Because the answer to that one campaign question? Everything. We have everything to lose.

9/05/2017

Random Observations on This Fresh Wanton DACA Fuckery

1. Attorney General Jeff Sessions was practically giddy at the chance to sub for his cowardly Trumpmaster in this moment, and he was almost giggling when he read his pissy little statement that took a jackhammer to the ground underneath the feet of millions of people, many of them Americans (yeah, some of those Dreamers had kids). Like a malicious elf that just got done jacking off in the cookie cream, Sessions kept suppressing a smirk as he announced that President Tangerine Nightmare was rescinding the executive order that established the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

The words out of Sessions' whore mouth were calculated to incite the yahoos who make up Trump's devolved supporters. He called the Dreamers "800,000 mostly-adult illegal aliens," ignoring both that all DACA recipients were brought here at age 16 or younger and that "illegal aliens" is a phrase only assholes use now. So, of course, he said it even more.

Sessions somehow could dare to say, "Societies where the rule of law is subject to political whims and personal biases tend to become societies afflicted by corruption, poverty, and human suffering" while working for the man who pardoned Joe Arpaio, a poison who chewed up court orders and laws and shit them out, laughing and yowling and daring anyone to stop him from causing human suffering. That the ground beneath Sessions didn't open up and gnarled claws didn't skewer his scrotum and drag him to Hell is pretty much proof positive that there is no Satan.

2. President Trump's decision is the sort of disruptive, wanton fuckery that we can accurately call "evil." It will tear families apart. It will cruelly exile people to countries where they have nothing, no roots, no connection. It will end up damaging the economy as nearly a million people will no longer be paying taxes or Social Security. The only thing getting rid of DACA does is make racists feel good. That is it. That is solely it. There is no rational case to be made for punishing these law-abiding, education-oriented, hardworking Americans-in-all-but-papers. In fact, I'd fucking rather Trump had just said, "Yeah, too fuckin' many Mexicans. We need more whites." At least then, we'd cut through the bullshit justifications and maybe we'd get to see who Nazi salutes in agreement.

Trump's wretched statement on his decision once again says that undocumented immigrants are responsible for everything from your uncle losing his job because his factory closed to your uncle's opioid addiction. Or, as he put it, "lower wages and higher unemployment for American workers, substantial burdens on local schools and hospitals, the illicit entry of dangerous drugs and criminal cartels, and many billions of dollars a year in costs paid for by U.S. taxpayers. Yet few in Washington expressed any compassion for the millions of Americans victimized by this unfair system." Again, facts are going to bite him on the ass on this, but, at this point, his ass probably no longer has any feeling because of how long he just sits around on it. For Trump and his idiot hordes, a Dreamer is no different than a cantaloupe-calved drug mule or dark-skinned rapist. Like I said, just skip the bullshit justifications and say you hate brown people.

3. Let's be honest here: There will almost certainly be no legislative fix unless and until Democrats take over the Congress. Ads are already being created to target squishy Republicans who even glance at passing the DREAM Act. A few stalwarts like John McCain and Lindsey Graham might say, "Fuck it" and try something. But the lunatics in the mad House won't go near it.

There is no superhero who's gonna swoop in and save the Dreamers. Already, the DACA page on the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services web page (which is pathetically still under the "Humanitarian" heading) informs us that "Individuals who have not submitted an application by Sept. 5, for an initial request under DACA may no longer apply. USCIS will reject all applications for initial requests received after Sept. 5." Yeah, the "transition" and "wind-down" that Trump talks about include the rejection of any Employment Authorization Documents for DACA recipients, so they won't be able to get jobs legally.

4. And let's not forget that the government has all the information it needs to find and deport DACA recipients. The Department of Homeland Security said today that it will give Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers that information, which includes, you know, admitting they're in the country without needed documentation and their address, if ICE requests it.

5. In January, Trump issued an executive order telling the IRS to find a way to not enforce fines for people who don't get health insurance, as required by the Affordable Care Act, a law passed by Congress and signed by the president, and that provision of the law was upheld by the Supreme Court. In other words, Trump believed that he could say how the law was enforced or, more directly, how resources in the executive branch are used for enforcement. When Obama announced DACA, he directed the Department of Homeland Security to concentrate deportation and immigration enforcement efforts on criminals, not people brought here as minors who were in school and without criminal records. It was prosecutorial discretion. In kind, what Trump wants to do with ACA fines is exactly what Obama did with DACA. It's something that law enforcement does all the time. It's something that states do all the fucking time. To call it "overreach" is to overreach on the definition of "overreach."

6. And while Obama probably wouldn't give a shit about this part (and he has finally spoken out), Sessions and Trump were, as usual, total dicks to the former president, constantly degrading his actions while bragging about Trump's "leadership" as "inspiring" or some such shit.

It's all part of the wanton fuckery at work here. The evil they do is merely for the sake of evil, merely to show they can do it, merely to punish the powerless. If we do nothing, if we don't vote them out in 2018, if we don't demand action, if we don't clog their streets and their courts with our voices and bodies, then they will move on to exerting more and more power.

9/04/2017

A Poem for the Laborers

Grease & Salt
by Jeanann Verlee

I finish a small hot plate of grease & salt / & push
the scraped-clean plate across the counter

for someone else to scrub / this, I say I have paid for
but it doesn't fit / I see the hundred hands

it took to cultivate / the hands that milked the cow
(or built the machines that did) / the hands that harvested

the artichokes & spinach & shallots / the hands
that steamed & fried / the hands that mined

the salts (or maintained the machines that did) / the hands
that mixed the clay & the hands that baked them to ceramic

in a kiln / the hands that sliced & spiced the bread /
the hands that rolled fork & knife into napkin /

the scalded hands that pulled the dish from oven /
the hands that passed the plate to the hands that set it

before me / the hands that wring in hopes I have no
complaint & that if I do, I won't take to Yelp

with my grievances / the hands that whisk the emptied
plate from sight / the hands, too, that swipe my card

& the hands that process the accounts between /
the hands that wipe the counter, seats, floor, handles /

the hundred hands that work & ache & crack over this
one tiny indulgence I myself can't rightly afford /

& I remember my father’s hands, & my mother’s / &
too, the hands of the farmers & soldiers & steel

workers & brick layers in my bloodline / & my hands, too,
each scar & chip / each labor for paycheck or fury or love

& I praise & I praise & I praise / the work & the hands /
& I lick the salt from the corners of my oily mouth.

9/01/2017

Impressions of Houston From Years Past

(A slight expansion on what I tweeted out last night)

When you grow up in south Louisiana, Houston was the place you went when you wanted to spend time in a city. It was more cosmopolitan and less urine-smelling than New Orleans. If New Orleans was for partying adults dragging their kids along, Houston was where the family could kick up its heels without going all the way to Orlando. We went to the beaches of Galveston many times, but Houston was where my young heart felt alive. Just some memories off the top of my head.

1. Astroworld as a kid, riding the Cyclone rollercoaster, followed by a visit to the Space Center with my Dad the year before he died. Dad, a Brooklyn-born Italian guy, embraced shit-kicker culture, fully immersing us in Willie and Waylon. He'd take Mom boot-scootin' at Gilley's even before the whole Urban Cowboy craze, and he loved discovering barbecue joints and divey little places around the town.

2. Seeing Nolan Ryan pitch a no-hitter in the Astrodome. I haven't been to a lot of major league ball games, but this was like every no-hitter: six innings of tedium followed by two innings of thrills followed by one inning of gasping and cheers on every pitch.

3. The breakdown of civilization at a Rush-headlined rock festival in the 'Dome. Ozzy was there, still on heroin. Bryan Adams, for some reason, played, as did .38 Special. I had gone only because a friend asked me to come along because no one else would. The weed smoke became a nearly impermeable curtain, the bathrooms flooded, and the stalls were taken up by filthy, fucking couples. By the end, the floor was slick with piss and puke, and I ended up sleeping in a friend's van in a parking lot after the show. Rush was pretty good though.

4. Alfred's with my family, searching for a taste of Jewish deli food far away from New York, always followed by shopping at the Galleria. Alfred's is gone, but his son opened Kahn's across the street. Now that's closed, too.

5. Coming to town to see a Simon and Garfunkel reunion show with two pals, only to have it canceled when Hurricane Alicia approached. We had rooms across from the Astrodome (which really was the center of much activity in town back then) and saw when the sign switched to "canceled." The hotel wanted to move us into room that overlooked the courtyard rather than the road to avoid broken glass. Instead, we checked out. Miserable about the whole experience, we drove home, only car on the road in most places, just ahead of the storm, which seemingly hit each town as we left it. The hotel's windows were blown out by Alicia.

6. Going to Astroworld with my first serious girlfriend. Staying the night at a hotel when she got sick from the rides. Or so we told her parents. Astroworld and the Astrodome are gone now, as was the girlfriend a long time ago.

7. Second row seats for Frank Sinatra, Liza Minnelli, and Sammy Davis, Jr. in concert after dinner at Tony's with a limo taking us around. That was a night. I wasn't paying for any of it (who was is a much longer story), but I don't think I ever felt richer in my life.

8. The last time I was in Houston was in February 2011, also the last time I saw my mom alive. She had been there for weeks, awaiting a diagnosis for what we would finally be told was advanced T-cell lymphoma. I spent a weekend alone with her while she was staying at a hospital in the Texas Medical Center, overlooking Brays Bayou, which flooded this week. She also adored that city, and she went with my stepdad to a bunch of Astros games and meals at Pappasito's. She died in Houston a few days after I left, and her body was sent home.

Look, I'm not trying to idealize the place. Childhood and tourist memories don't often force you to confront the reality of a place. It's got its problems, and we're seeing them writ large now. But lots of good people live there. People who have made it a center for medical advancements. Artists who have pushed boundaries. Hell, NASA. And a whole bunch of Americans and non-Americans, hard-working people, a good majority of whom don't deserve what's happened (we'll carve out an exception for Nazis and pedophiles and other terrible people).

You have to choose where you donate your money unless you're Beyonce' or JJ Watt. I'm gonna donate to specific groups, like the Alley Theatre, a great institution that was devastated by Harvey. Think of what you love, like animals or arts, and find out how they were harmed by Harvey. They will need your help.


I've never lived there, but I've spent a lot of time in Houston. I hope it returns, as strong and contradictory as it ever was. And I hope there are lessons that are taken from this storm to lessen the impact of the next one.