A Poem for Memorial Day

This is "The Death of Paul Duffy, by Rope, Alone" by Vietnam War vet Ted Sexauer

I sit quietly, alone. 
I acknowledge an unseen mechanism
to stave off this kind of news.
Somehow it’s not possible, not real,
not there, a myth.

Of course it’s all illusion.
If there’s any meaning in this life
it can’t quite pass the mind
that knows—it’s illusion.
We “make stuff up”.

Still, his wife is real, 
though I don’t know her.
No note, no warning sign;
I can bear anything except that 
“failure to communicate”.
Are we really all alone here?

If you have an inclination to end it
if you share that with someone
they’ll try to stop you—to intervene
but if you die alone
you leave those who love you—alone
and distant friends like me—alone

You leave wakes and ripples
whatever you do, but death 
holds this ultimate weight,
creates a void, a great displacement.

It’s why we who have been to war
can’t quite leave it behind,
not only the experience of death,
that’s no surprise, except how close it came—
but rather, how big it is around you—
how alone it makes you
how all alone and wary

This is number nine of friends,
veterans, who’ve gone that way—
Frankie the Maineiac rode his Harley off a cliff,
insurance in place to send three sons to college.
Nicko, long slow death by alcohol
and he wouldn’t stop, god damn his bones;
then add in David Cline, same damn deal.
Add Jack McCloskey.
John Mulligan published his novel, 
stepped off a curb to kiss a truck.
And great happy Air Force rescue pilot Steve
biggest smile ever, done in by business sharks;
and rescue diver Dan who lost his boat
and broke his heart.

And mother’s second husband Art, Navy WWII Pacific,
by rifle—he was on his way out,
refused to die in a hospital—
but no note, where was the love?

What’s over there? Only one way to know,
but what’s the hurry? Pain. Maybe impulse? 
Still, the one main thing the military teaches us—
endure and survive—and never volunteer—
You don’t go there ’til you’ve tried everything.

Keep hope.


In Brief: Soldiers Love Trump: A Few Polls to Send You Off to Memorial Day Weekend

According to polls by Morning Consult, "51 percent of members of the military surveyed would vote for [Donald] Trump, compared to 36 percent for [Hillary] Clinton." Those numbers become 52% for Trump and 39% for Bernie Sanders. Among veterans, it's a steady 47% for Trump, with 38% for Clinton or 43% for Sanders.

A Military Times' poll of active-duty troops, reservists, and National Guard soldiers gives Trump 54% against Clinton, 51% against Sanders.

Military leaders are scared shitless over the idea of a Trump presidency. The troops themselves? Not so much.

Now, obviously, May polls are, as this blog has said, utter bullshit in many ways. But the support for Trump among the rank-and-file military has remained consistent for much of the year.

In any case, we can be pretty sure that Memorial Day during the Reign of Trump will be filled with even more mourning. And he'll have a fuckload of support should he need to take over by coup.


In Louisiana, the Governor and the Attorney General in a Battle Over Transgender Rights

If you wanna know how to make a dysfunctional government clusterfuck even more dysfunctional and clusterfucky, look to Louisiana for an example. Right now in the Oil-Covered Pelican State, the Democratic governor, John Bel Edwards (who, let's be frank, was only elected because Republicans ran hooker-hiring shit-fetishist and sitting senator David Vitter) and the Republican attorney general, Jeff Landry, are locked in a war over rights for the LGBT population. It's a fine day for democracy in the Deep South.

In April, a couple of months into his first term of trying to unfuck everything that Gov. Bobby "Hurricane Katrina in Human Form" Jindal left behind, Edwards issued an executive order saying that state employees and contractors can't discriminate against people because of sexual orientation or gender identity. In an awkward, somewhat backwards, but progressive for Louisiana statement, Edwards said, "We respect our fellow citizens for their beliefs, but we do not discriminate based on our disagreements." Immediately, there were screams that Edwards was attacking "people of faith" because, obviously, religion should dictate our laws and that makes us totally not like Muslims who want Sharia law because it's Christianity, motherfucker.

Yesterday, Landry issued an opinion on the executive order saying that Edwards' order "has no binding legal effect." And that would be totally true, except for the fact that, barring a lawsuit and a stay of the order, it's completely untrue. Because, see, "Previous Louisiana governors have had executive orders in place to protect the gay, lesbian and bisexual community -- without this type of pushback from previous attorney generals." You know where this is heading? To the fucking bathroom again. Yup, 32 Republican legislators wrote to Landry, concerned about "gender identity" as a concept and seeking to keep those filthy trans shitters out of their pristine potties.

By the way, Landry, a former Tea Party Caucus member in the House, thinks that being transgender is a mental illness and he told Tony Perkins of the nutzoid Christian Family Research Council (motto: "Let he who is without sin throw the first stone, unless you're transgender, in which case we'll just stone you"), "The good Lord doesn't build us in that particular way" and, obviously, religion should dictate our laws and that makes us totally not like Muslims who want Sharia law because it's Christianity, motherfucker.

Oh, and he signed Louisiana onto the multi-state lawsuit against the Obama administration for its directive telling schools not to be dickholes about transgender people using bathrooms and locker rooms. Funny story about that: Landry never told Edwards, the governor, that he was tossing Louisiana into the mix. Edwards' spokesperson said the governor is "reviewing" the situation.

Isn't divided government fun? Isn't a divided executive branch even funner?


Beware the Conservative Drama Queens on Anti-Trump Protesters

A jowly right-wing knob-gobbler and lesser demon on Fox "news," Todd Starnes had a thing or three to say about protests outside a Donald Trump rally in Albuquerque, New Mexico, last night. The protests got a little rioty, but Starnes wanted you to know that it was even more insidious: "An angry mob caused mayhem outside a Donald Trump rally Tuesday night in Albuquerque, New Mexico – turning the city into a de facto Third World country."

No one can drama queen it up like the Screaming Mimis of the right. Seriously, they make the contestants on RuPaul's Drag Race look like ripped leather studs slamming sledgehammers at a construction site before shaving their balls with a switchblade. (Side note: Belated congrats, Bob the Drag Queen. You were awesome.)

Starnes continued, "The rampaging gang was made up of anti-Trump goons -- waving the Mexican flag -- burning the American flag." Now that does sound bad, since goons are scary and burning the American flag is, as we've been told endlessly, the worstest thing you can ever do when you're protesting, worse than fucking Uncle Sam in the ass with Lady Liberty's torch while you nail George Washington's skull right in the eyehole. Starnes aired a video purporting to show said flag being burnt. Here is a crappy screencap:

Now, the Rude Pundit is no photograph forensics specialist, but that appears to be a "Trump for President/Make America Great Again" banner with some stars and stripes decorating it. Not only are the protesters very much not burning an American flag, but you could make an argument that the banner itself defiles the flag.

Other things burned, sure, like this "Make America Great Again" t-shirt, again with a flag on it, set aflame by the power of a derisive tongue:

Back to Starnes, ready to do his best Faye-Dunaway-as-Joan-Crawford in Mommy Dearest, saying, "'Viva Mexico,' protesters shouted, according to the Albuquerque Journal." And the newspaper does say that. Of course, it also says Trump supporters called protesters "wetbacks" and yelled, "Go back to Mexico" and basically everyone was kind of acting like an asshole, plus some Trump merch got burnt, but that's far less dramatic than "Rampaging Spics Hate America."

This is what will obviously become the story all over the conservative hatemosphere. And they'll add in shit like "Clinton supporters beat up a wheelchair-bound Trump supporter at the New Mexico Trump rally yesterday," which sounds terrible. Holy fuckballs some people just punched the shit out of a disabled guy? Except that "beat up" here means "got some water splashed on him when a couple of bottles were tossed." Technically, that's possibly assault, yeah, but even the cops present just wanted the wheelchair guy to fuck off.

We're in for a long summer, motherfuckers. There are going to be a ton of protests. It will become expected behavior at rallies for the Trump Reich. Remember that the right-wingers who actually do control the media are going to be looking for any excuse to run with a story about crazy-ass riots, especially if those riots have a race war component. The thing about drama queens is that they wanna be heard over everyone else.

We need to pace ourselves. And if we're gonna burn shit down, let's at least wait and see if Trump is elected first.


Ending Trump Quickly (Profanity-Free for the Kiddies)

If you're floundering around in a rage-seizure after hearing Republican presidential candidate and rich racist uncle you regret making your kids be nice to, Donald Trump, bring up the 1993 suicide of Bill Clinton's deputy White House counsel Vince Foster and call it "very fishy," you've probably got a desire to fire rhetorical bombs in every direction at Trump. And you should feel utterly aghast that Trump is determined to drag down Hillary Clinton by acting like nothing was ever investigated on any of the allegations, as if the 1990s wasn't a series of congressional inquiries and endless independent counsel probes. It's the reason why we're up to our 800th Benghazi committee. Nothing is concluded if Republicans don't say it's concluded (for example: You can't blame Bush for anything now because Republicans say you can't).

But there is a foundational belief in all of this that needs to be turned back on Trump: the Clintons are liars. Sure, you have to ignore the fact that they have provided a constant stream of documents and answered a ludicrous amount of questions under oath, but that's the nature of blind faith in Trump.

The temptation is to throw everything at Trump: his bankrupt businesses, his mob associations, his profiting off the misery of others, his affairs and marriages. The Clinton campaign might have surrogates or super-PACs do it, but it's generally what you see in these types of situations. It's what we saw the John Kerry campaign attempt with George W. Bush in the wake of the Swift Boat ads. The big difference is that Bush (eventually) distanced himself from that smear. In the case of the Clinton "scandals," the actual Republican candidate is doing the smearing.

Clinton isn't going to wallow in the mud with Trump. Instead, she needs a clear, concise message that can be repeated so often that crowds can call it back to her, like they do with Trump or Sanders, like they did with Obama.

It's very, very simple: "Show me the money, Donald." That's it. You can hashtag it. You can bumper sticker that up. You can chant it. For many people, it's even got a certain cultural vintage to it.

Focus very clearly on what Trump says his net worth is. He claims, as we all know (because he repeats it so much - see how that works?), that he is worth $10 billion. Yet, other than asserting it, in debates, in speeches, on his financial disclosure forms, he has given no proof. The best, most generous estimate of his wealth is between 3.5 and 4.5 billion. That's an enormous amount, but it ain't 10 billion. You've probably heard the one estimate that puts it as low as $150 million. Still not chump change, but the man wandered the nation saying that he had made $10 billion.

And that's it. Clinton or anyone else can say that Trump needs release his tax returns. When he makes his nonsense claim that he can't while they're being "audited," he can also provide other legal documents that prove his worth.

If he refuses, then Clinton can say that anything Donald Trump says is worthless if he can't demonstrate he's as rich as he says he is. Heck, she should say she won't even debate Trump unless he, you know, shows us the money (or the assets). It'll frustrate Trump's followers. They'll say she's scared or whatever. But it's about as simple a request as anyone can ask. Trump's voters are so deluded and racist that they won't care if it turns out he's just a hobo who has been tricking everyone all along, but it'll make him seem clearly like the clown he is.

Hammer that message. Leave aside the other, more convoluted attacks about how Trump made money or who he gave money to. He has to be made to apologize. He has to be introduced to the idea of public shaming. He needs to become toxic to the average scuzzy Republican. In fact, making Trump either refuse to prove his wealth or show that he's been lying will give mainstream Republicans a chance to jump off the train

The most subversive part? If it turns out that, miracle of miracles, he is worth $10 billion, then we can move on. Just like Trump himself did when he demanded President Obama's birth certificate.

(Note: Yeah, Trump and the right will go nutzoid over the Wall Street speeches. But it's pretty easy to say that it's not the same thing. We know Clinton made speeches. We know how much she made. And she's revealed everything about what she's worth. No comparison.)


Dance Around the May Polls and Stop Freaking the Fuck Out

Sigh. Here ya go. Gallup poll on May 20, 1980, President Jimmy Carter was leading not-quite-yet-god Ronald Reagan 49% to 41%:

And thank god Carter was re-elected or otherwise who knows what kind of fuckery Reagan would have gotten us into.

On May 18, 1988, "[Michael] Dukakis, the probable Democratic nominee, ran ahead of [George H.W.] Bush, the almost certain Republican candidate, by 49 percent to 39 percent among 1,056 registered voters." Bush had been ahead by a single percentage point just the week before in the New York Times/CBS poll.

Wanna keep going? Fine.

In late May 1992, Bill Clinton was in third place: "[George H. W.] Bush and [crazy motherfucker Ross] Perot were tied at 35 percent each, while Mr. Clinton was supported by 25 percent." And we never heard from Clinton again.

In May 2000, "Among all voters, [George W.] Bush led [Al] Gore by 8 percentage points, 47 to 39." And there is no dispute that Gore ended up winning the popular vote. (Extra, genuinely ball-chilling polling from 2000: "A related problem that has dogged Mr. Gore is that Mr. Bush is viewed as more of a leader. Fifty-three percent of registered voters in the new poll said Mr. Gore had strong leadership qualities; 63 percent said the same thing about Mr. Bush.")

Got the point? You do? Fuck it, let's keep going.

In May 2004, most polls showed John Kerry ahead of or tied with incumbent president and complete fucking human failure George W. Bush.

In May 2008, well, shit, let's let Gallup show us the way: "[Hillary] Clinton has been running better versus John McCain than [Barack] Obama in the Gallup tracking general election trial heats for the last four days, though McCain has the edge over each Democrat. Registered voters currently prefer McCain to Clinton by 46%-45% and McCain to Obama by 47%-42%" and we all remember how Clinton got the nomination because she made the argument that she could do better in the general than Obama.

To put it bluntly, calm the fuck down, some Democrats, about Donald Trump leading Hillary Clinton right now in the polls. Who the fuck cares? Most of recent history tells us that they aren't worth shit. If you believe that November is a done deal because of May, you need to take a drink, masturbate to Palin punishment porn, and relax.

Shit will get real sometime around July or August. Enjoy yourself before then. Say all the mean things about Trump you can come up with. And if he is still leading post-convention, you can freak the fuck out.


Tennessee Legislators Give Us the Future of the Culture War

Brave Bill Haslam, governor of the never-great state of Tennessee and a Republican, bravely faced a bill passed by the cowardly legislature. The bill targets a single office at a single public university: "State funds shall not be expended to support the Office for Diversity and Inclusion at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville." The original version of the bill said, really, that the funds would instead be used to place "a decal of the national motto on vehicles of local or state law enforcement agencies," but less stupid heads prevailed and the money was instead diverted to fund engineering scholarships to minority students.

However, the bill was also amended to include this fine bit of First Amendment-support: "State funds shall not be expended by the University of Tennessee to promote the use of gender neutral pronouns, to promote or inhibit the celebration of religious holidays, or to fund or support sex week." Yup, that's right. The men and women of the Tennessee legislature, Democrats and Republicans, were in a tizzy because UTK held a "sex week," where there were sessions like "Butt Stuff" and "How to Drive a Vulva." Imagine, at a college, where people are fucking nonstop all the time, the school hosted an event where people could talk openly about all the fucking in a positive, non-punitive way. But the cowardly legislature decided that no way, no how were hard-earned tax dollars gonna go to anything like vulva-driving workshops.

You can bet these were the same legislators who whined about "freedom" when it came to bakers and gay wedding cakes. But, hell, fuck it. Shut it down, said the legislature, and it sent the bill to Gov. Haslam.

And Haslam bravely let it become law without his signature. And the University of Tennessee's chancellor released a statement that the Office of Diversity and Inclusion would have to be shuttered starting in July.

What were the ODI's crimes? A newsletter from the UT Pride Center suggested alternative gender-neutral pronouns, which was met with a national outcry and derision, and then a memo that suggested that holiday parties should cut down on the Christian shit so everyone feels welcome. That went about as well as you might expect it would, with grandstanding legislators calling for the chancellor to resign.

We're seeing the next phase of the seemingly non-stop culture war. It's an attack on those ways that liberal discourse attempts to expand the community of the nation. The Tennessee legislature and, however passively, the governor have declared that there are people whose exclusion doesn't bother them one bit as long as they themselves remain comfortable and unchallenged.