Haiku Review of 2016, Part 2: The Haikuening

Okay, fuck, enough. No more. I've read a couple of hundred three-line poems, some great, some gross, some good, some bad. Thanks to everyone who was bored enough to write a few for the annual review, a tradition in these here parts for a number of years. If you didn't get selected, it's probably because of Russia.

Here we go:

From Gummo in Brooklyn:

Just fuck Donald Trump
Fuck Donald Trump’s wife, kids and
Fuck Donald Trump’s hair

From Rabbitearz in Los Angeles:

Kellyanne Conway
Lies through her shark teeth, telling
Trump his dick is huge.

From Seattle Steamer:

American Poors
Fisted like Melania
Thank Fuck it's tiny

From Sarah, the middle school teacher:

November 8th? No.
It was over when Bundys
were all acquitted.

From Doug in Oakland:

I dreamed Trump had been
Buggered to death by a sheep
Sadly, I awoke

From Big Digits in Fort Wayne, IN:

Putin's pussy said
Please pillory Hillary
Hack democracy

From Peggy in Wisconsin:

Rubes seeking revenge
Oblivious to the con
Pick their own pockets

From Queen Tut in the San Fernando Valley:

Where veterans blow
   and curse the black man’s healthcare,
Theirs soon privatized.

From Tom in Tucson:

Repeal and replace,
Twenty million jeopardized?
That is the question.

From Michelle K. in Riverview, FL:

What do I tell them?
My two sons see the bully
Become our leader

From Philimus in Fairfax County, VA:

Do Black Lives Matter
With Barack’s legacy in
Ruins around us?

From the Weeping Willow:

"Black man had a gun,"
Cops said after fatal shots.
Videos don't lie.

From Auntie Social:

Not far from my home
Children gassed in Aleppo
As I watch cat vids

From Nancy G. in Olympia, WA:

True horror story:
atmospheric carbon now
past the tipping point.

From Steve H. in Liberty:

Ground Control waits, sad
As old phonograph needles,
For another song…

From Joe C.:

Muhammad Ali
Floated like a butterfly
Stung WASPs like a bee

From Ms. L.B. in NYC:

Many died young, and
Scalia kicked the bucket.
Let's call it a draw.

From Newscaster in Chevy Chase, MD:

All the dead celebs,
Prince, Ali, Fisher, Bowie.
Why not Dick Cheney?

One last one from me:

Bye, 2016.
You sucked balls, but, fuck, here comes


Haiku Review of 2016, Part 1

So far, I've gotten well over a hundred haiku from well over a hundred rude readers, and all I can say is "You motherfuckers really hate Donald Trump." Here are some of the best from the first batch, literally from sea to shining sea:

From Howdydostu in Las Vegas:

Fuck the rust belt states.
A black prez saved their asses.
Short memory fail!

From Ellroon:

Golden thrones won't fit
The White House has to stay white
Melania pouts

From RJ in San Jose:

Pence is … masculine.
His coif - like smooth Race Bannon.
But he’s no Putin.

From Manic Organica in Tampa:

Pissed-off Trump voters
Stupid fucks with loaded guns
Beer drinking shitlords.

From BB in L.A.:

You voted for Trump
but need your Obamacare?
You're deplorable!

From this blog's ol' pal, Radical Russ:

No, Twenty Sixteen,
Legalized marijuana
Doesn't absolve you

From Jeff in Woodbridge, VA, a simple sentiment we can all get behind:

Fuck Twenty Sixteen.
Seriously, fuck that shit.
Fuck Twenty Sixteen.

There will be more posted over the next few days as we say farewell to this bitch of a year. You can send your haiku to "rudepundit_at_yahoo(dot)com" and maybe yours will show up on the magic page.


The Rude Pundit's Haiku Review of 2016: And Then Let Us Never Speak of It Again

Oh, sweet, dear, suffering people of the rude-iverse, we come now to the end of a year that was as vicious as a drunk uncle after being accused of finger-fucking the dog at a family Christmas party. We know that the coming year promises to make that drunk uncle come after our own assholes, and so, as we say, "Get the fuck gone already" to 2016, let us bury it with our haiku.

Yes, it's time for the Rude Pundit's Annual Haiku Celebration of the Dying Year. Submit your haiku about the year that is almost past, any subject. The only rules are that it has to be a for-real goddamn haiku (a line of five syllables, a line of seven syllables, and a line of five syllables). You can be as angry or sad or funny or fucked up as you like. The prize is just that the best ones get published on these here pages for all to see. The only judge is me, and so it depends on how drunk/high/altered I am at the time I'm reading.

When you submit, please say how you want to be identified, with a name and your place, like "Armando from Titty Fuck, Colorado" or "Shit Blaster from Lexington, Mass." If you got a website you wanna link to, send it along to.

Here are a few to get you started:

Purple Prince in his
Majesty, high above the
Mournful plains. Shed grace.

Stubby-handed Trump,
Fingers smell of raped pussy,
Nukes at the ready.

Hillary was screwed
By Comey's calamitous
Calumny. Fire him.

You got the idea? Email your entries to "rudepundit_at_yahoo(dot)com." I'll post the best, with a few more of my own, over the next few days.

Things That Made 2016 Not Completely Unbearable

Yeah, this year needs to be put down, Ol'Yeller-style. Even though next year is looking about as ominous as a funnel cloud over a corn field and a solitary barn, I'm gonna take a minute here for an appreciation of things that don't involve elections or deaths (with one exception). Of course, everything is infused in some way by the gnawing dread that fucks with us constantly now.

1. Everything you've heard about the films La La Land and Moonlight is right: they are both beautiful and moving, and the performances are insanely great. In particular, Moonlight is remarkable for its empathy for most of its characters, including its gay protagonist (played by three different actors at different ages), the drug dealer who wrestles with his conscience, and the crack-addicted mother, played by Naomie Harris as a fierce and broken character. Two films that blew the doors off the genres they were confined to are The Green Room, where a punk band has to viciously fight for its life against neo-Nazis led by a quietly sinister Patrick Stewart, and The Invitation, a horror film that seems like another "hipsters talking about shit" movie until the true purpose of the evening gathering we're witnessing is revealed. The final moment of it now seems like a haunting distillation of what has happened to the nation.

2. Empathy also was in high supply on television that was worth a goddamn (unlike, say, the reality show that helped propel a certain leering orange goblin to the presidency). Donald Glover's Atlanta couldn't have been better: dry, funny, and so smart that one of its best episodes parodied cable shows directed at African Americans, gender theory, and pop culture, all while allowing each character dignity and agency. You're the Worst showcased its supporting characters, turning the fools into lonely souls trying to play the lead in their own lives. Despair could have overwhelmed both Fleabag and Rectify, but redemption was just around the corner for each of their protagonists. Rectify ended its run this year, and I'll miss the barely spoken, aching optimism of it. (For a sheer blast, there was the bizarre, manic Preacher. And you still couldn't beat Ash vs. Evil Dead, which did everything that The Walking Dead tried to do, except unpretentious and with chainsaws. We should all live this next year with the cockiness of Ashy Slashy.)

3. It'd be easy to say the best concert I saw was Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band playing for four hours at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. It was all you want for a Springsteen show: cathartic, raging, fun, exhausting, and communal, all in equal measure. But three other musical moments hit me even more strongly. At the elegant Beacon Theatre in New York City, Jason Isbell's intensely personal country songs echoed into the gold-gilded rafters, and the man can tear it up on guitar. In a shack of a bar in Louisiana, the great Cajun band the Lost Bayou Ramblers backed up Spider Stacy of the seminal Irish rock group, the Pogues, merging the musical styles into a crazed patchwork of sound that had the small crowd bouncing madly. And I was fortunate to see one of the final shows of Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. Wracked by cancer, in-between chemotherapy treatments, Jones was only able to perform five or six songs to a Camden, New Jersey crowd as an opening act, but, even frail, she danced and sang like she was chasing Death away. That it caught her a couple of months later showed that 2016 was going to be unforgiving in its malevolent pull. (The albums that have been on constant rotation this year for me include Good Grief by Lucius and Masterpiece by Big Thief.)

4. Let's see...what else? At the theatre, you can keep Hamilton. I'll take little productions like Smokefall at the MCC Theatre, where Zachary Quinto played his character as a fetus and as a grown man, and Miles for Mary at the Bushwick Starr, where teachers at a high school in 1988 gather in the utility room to discuss the upcoming telethon. Both were very funny and ultimately heartbreaking. For spectacle, you can keep Wicked. I'll take the Royal Shakespeare Company's raw, menacing Doctor Faustus, with its parade of sins that looked like Tim Burton and Hieronymus Bosch collaborated for maximum grotesque whimsy. The last act felt like the end of the world as choreographed by Satan. Or, you know, 2016 itself.

On a personal level, 2016 wasn't that bad, filled with love and travel and experiences and professional advancement. I'd trade away a fair bit of it to replace this feeling of impending doom for the new year. But let's face it without cowering, ready to beat the shit out of it before it takes us down.


Trump or Not, It's Still Christmas, and That Means Nativities (Now with Skeletons)

Like movies about suicidal snowmen and tortured ghosts and pole-frozen tongues, some things are a tradition around the rude house. Reruns are good for the soul. My favorites to trot out this week are the Invader Zim Christmas episode and Olive the Other Reindeer. Even here, in Left Blogsylvania, we can indulge in revisiting old posts.

Before Twitter, Instagram, Buzzfeed, Tumblr, and many other places you can get your fix of weird shit, the Rude Pundit posted this Christmas blast back in 2004, updated with new bits of freakishness (some links might not work anymore, but they were or are all real):

Xmas - And, lo, a small teddy bear will lead them:
In the days before Christmas, the Rude Pundit roamed his neighborhood, looking at the displays in the charming stores and corner markets. There he saw the agony of so many dichotomous feelings about this holiday. One window had a kneeling, praying Santa next to a baby Jesus in the manger. Santa's hat was off. He was balding. Another display had the jolly old fat man landing his sleigh and reindeer on the roof of the manger. Surprisingly, neither Mary nor Joseph seemed rattled by the noise, although a camel was looking upward, as if asking, "What the fuck?" The Rude Pundit loved that camel.

Ah, sweet camel, what the fuck, indeed. Christ and commerce, Alleluia. The Savior has been born and he thanks you for your presents. Santa showing that he'll even honor the king of the Jews in the land of Islam. There's no telling what it means (and don't get all up in the Rude Pundit's face about St. Nicholas). Except this: we want to embrace both things, good deconstructionists that we are: Santa, who soothes our greed, and Jesus, who promises us peace. Either way, we want them both to tell us we're good people, nice people. And, of course, guilt-ridden Christians want to make sure that Santa toes the party line, you know.

For the holiday, here's a few of the Rude Pundit's favorite nativity sets, none of which are intended to be mocking of the event:

That right there is the Veggie Tales Nativity. In case you don't know, Veggie Tales are cute vegetables who love Christ and salad tossing. The newborn savior up there is a carrot. Get it? A baby carrot? What a delight.

Holy shit, that bear nativity is one of the creepiest fucking things the Rude Pundit's ever seen. Staring straight ahead with their dead eyes, it looks like a satanic cult sacrifice to some horrible bear-demon. Although, the three wise bears have provided snacks for the blood rite: salmon, honey, and berries. All go well with cub entrails.

You know how you sometimes say, "That's metal as fuck"? Well, here's a strange iron nativity with disturbing torture device characters that look like a blacksmith just said, "Eh, screw it. Put those leftover lumps in an order and call it, 'Christmas.'"

You know how gnomes used to be just those creepy little bitches you put out on your lawn and forgot about? Well, now they can apparently give birth to the Gnome God's child, who will, no doubt, be crucified on a cute little cross one day for the sins of all gnomes. Oh, so many sins.

Speaking of entrails, here's the First Halloween Nativity Set, with Three Wise Zombies and Frankenstein's Monster and his Bride as Joseph and Mary. Who's that in the crib? Why, it's Dracula as Baby Jesus, ready to drink your blood rather than have you drink his.

That nightmare fuel is the dachsund nativity. Frankly, who needs to wage a war on Christmas when the supposed believers actually advertise an anthropomorphized birth of their Lord and Savior with "Bring the true meaning of Christmas into your house year round with the Wiener Dog Nativity!"

This is not to mention the Chickentivity, the Moosetivity, the Barntivity, the Native American Nativity, and the various Beartivities, all available unironically for your Christmas consumption.

And, finally, the baby nativity:

You might think, "Oh, that's adorable. What's so wrong with it?" To which I can only inform you that the implication of it is that a baby Mary shoved a baby Jesus out of her baby vagina.

And to all a good night.

Oh, wait. What's that you say? You think that last one was kind of a weak one to end on? Well, then, fuck you. Here's the Day of the Dead nativity:

Yeah, suck on the them all screaming in horror and pain. Essentially, that'll be next Christmas for all of us.

(Note: Previous editions of the nativity post have included the Dogtivity, the Boyd's Bears Nativity, and the Rubber Duck...oh, fuck, you get the idea.)


When It Comes to Shit Relatives Who Voted Trump, We're All in This Together

I received this email from rude reader MP last week, and it seemed right to share this just before we gather once again with family members who have betrayed everything you ever believed about their innate goodness. I've edited it a little for clarity and to take out things that identify him, and I've removed a few lines of praise for this-here blog because, well, that seems kind of masturbatory to leave in:

"My in-laws are crazy, rabid, evangelical consumers of right-wing media. My mother-in-law is the worst, but they're both top level bad. Her favorite thing to do is just scroll headlines on her Facebook feed, liking and sharing link after link of toxic garbage. Times were when her daughter and I were dating that she'd sit us down and make us watch Glenn Beck with her, because he was 'so smart.' We've been together ten years now, and I keep thinking something's gonna change with them. They can't just keep this up, can they? They're the unhappiest, most fearful people I know, and they have no one to blame but themselves. They've let Rush and Glenn and Bill and all the others do this to them. 

"So why the fuck am I writing to you telling you about people you already know? Just to let you know what has changed since The Donald got 'elected.' They came down to stay with us for Thanksgiving; we all used to live in the same town, but my wife and I moved away a few years ago to a big town that actually has opportunity in it. We've recently had a baby; our first, and their first grandchild. I thought this, this would make my mother-in-law knock it off. She can't keep staring at her phone and sucking up the toxicity when she has a granddaughter to dote on. But, oops, yes she can. She can indeed.

"So we've spent eight years being told how terrible it's gonna be, how many awful terrorist Muslim (but I repeat myself, amirite? (I'm not right)) things are going to happen under BHO. The fact that none of it happened hasn't made a dent in their faith in the doomsayers. And now we have DJT, whom they happily voted for. So on the third day of their stay, I simply sat down with my crazy, angry, fearful mother-in-law, a women who once told me she hated me because I didn't want to have a gun in my house, a woman who once told me to Go Fuck Myself when I asked her what made her dislike Hillary so much (she couldn't actually name a single thing, she just knew she should), a woman who threw my keys on the roof the day after our wedding, in front of all our out-of-town friends, because we wanted to go have lunch together with people we never see... I sat down with her as she scrolled through her dumpster fire of a news feed and just asked her, 'Please defend Donald Trump. You have a daughter. You have a granddaughter. How can you defend what he's done and said to women?'

"Surprise, she couldn't. The best she could do was repeat talking points (she literally said 'locker room talk') and after a few minutes of simply asking her to tell me what she liked about the person she voted for, she was screaming at me, saying I was "a sonofabitch. Fuck it!" and throwing leftovers in a cooler so she could leave (which is remarkably awkward, because they bring a ton of shit and spread out all over the house when they stay over, so there is no just up and leaving; it took a full hour after her tantrum to actually leave).

"The thing is, I've endured this before. What made this the worst thing ever, and what makes me write to you, and what gives me so much fear for the future of my family, and my country, is that my father-in-law, who was standing there this whole time, didn't tell her to STFU. He's absolutely on her side in terms of ideology, but he's always been there to tell her she's being ridiculous and that we shouldn't be talking about these things. But here she was, screaming obscenities at me, and here was me, just asking her to talk to me, and he told ME to stop it. Told me that I was the one making things worse. Told me that I was gonna kill her if I didn't stop. Stop what?!

"I've been reading you for 8 years, I think...in the recent past, you helped me keep focused on not letting these people get me down. I mean, yeah, it gets me down that this is what my wife has to deal with more than me, and it kills me that these are my daughter's grandparents, but while I might have been willing to roll over and try to find some way, any way to appease them, your writing has always been there to remind me, 'No, fuck that. They are wrong and I am right, and barring ideology, they are terrible and I am civil, and I cannot let them win this fight.'

"I think the next few years will be tough, but not in the way they were for the past 8. We had to listen to my in-laws say everything that was GONNA happen for 8 years, knowing as long as we could get them to shut up, everything would be fine, because none of what they said was true and we could focus on just keeping the family together. But now I worry that they think they need to fight us harder, because they 'won' the election and the country needs people like them to speak their minds even more forcefully than before. Obviously I, a middle class white guy, am ultimately going to be fine. But if I can stand my ground with these people, hopefully I can stand my ground against all the people and bullshit they represent."

The only things I'll add to MP's letter is that I don't think being a middle-class white guy is going to be the inoculation against everything that's coming (some of it, sure). And while I appreciate the kind words about offering ways to resist complacency, let's none of us, especially the scribblers, forget that action doesn't end at the keyboard.

Finally, I'm so goddamn glad no one in my family voted for Trump (which means the title here isn't technically true, but I'm an ally to all of you with shit relatives). Yeah, the ones who voted for Gary Johnson were wrong, but they despise Trump, viscerally and actively, and I can go to Christmas dinner with a clear conscience.

Happy holidays. All of them. Hope they're peaceful and restful and restorative because, in the new year, it'll be time to fuck shit up.


A More Perfect Resistance: Turn the Senate

Here's a little raft of hope to cling to as we head into the holidays, a potential route of resistance to the presidency of Donald Trump:

Because Democrats decided they just couldn't be bothered to lift a finger in the Louisiana Senate runoff, Republicans have a 52-48 majority in the Senate, enough to approve any cabinet member or any non-Supreme Court judge, as well as enough to pass any budget reconciliation bill, including the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (with the promise that, oh, sure, sometime in the next 2-3 years, we'll have something just as good, pinky swear, wink). And, except for copious use of the filibuster, it still leaves Democrats without the one thing that could weaken and, possibly, bring down the Trump administration: subpoena power, the ability to get documents and call witnesses for hearing. You only get that when you run the committees, and you only run the committees when you're in the majority.

So while we're still tilting at the burning windmills of Russian interference and possible Obama spine-stiffening on things like Merrick Garland, let's not overlook one real Hail Mary pass on confronting Donald Trump and halting his history-demolishing agenda. What about trying to turn three Republican senators into Democrats (or, at least, turn independent and then caucusing with the Democrats)? It's crazy, sure, and unlikely, in that it relies on the possibility of there existing rational Republicans, but surely there are ones who have a gut-level fear of what Trump might do. Check this out:

Lisa Murkowski from Alaska had to run as an independent when she was primaried from the right in 2010. In 2016, she ran again and won as a Republican. But she's definitely not a crazy (and, remember, this is all relative - not being Ted Cruz doesn't necessarily mean you're a raging progressive, but your eyes aren't spinning). Check out her Senate website: she's actually got a plan that is meant to change the Affordable Care Act for places where there is only one insurer in the marketplace (like, you know, Alaska). Sure, she makes reference to repeal, but other members of Congress are frothing about it. Murkowski even talks about expanding Medicare to serve more disabled patients, not privatizing it.

What happens when Murkowski is confronted with kicking over 40,000 Alaskans off expanded Medicaid, not to mention the tens of thousands who would lose their insurance? Or with gutting Medicare? Get Murkowski to abandon the party that would do just that.

Health care issues would affect another GOP senator just as strongly. Susan Collins of Maine is already indicating that she's not on the Medicare privatization train that House Speaker Paul Ryan is putting on the tracks. Nearly 80,000 people in Maine have ACA health insurance (while the mad Gov. Paul LePage prevents 40,000 residents from getting in on expanded Medicaid), and Collins has said she won't support repealing it without a replacement. Another area that affects Maine worse than other states is opioid addiction, with Maine leading or near the top of states in the rates of babies born in drug withdrawal, heroin use, and prescriptions for opioids. Maine is gonna need federal help to prevent a crisis from becoming a full-blown catastrophe.

So tempt Collins with the promise of pushing for funding targeting the drug epidemic in her state and no Democratic primary opponent (well, none that is supported by the party). And remind her that, if she's really pro-choice, she would want to block whatever thing Trump tries to force onto the Supreme Court.

That's two. Who might be the third? Remember: we're not just looking for Republicans who will resist Trump. In a GOP-controlled Senate, those members can be punished by losing key committee assignments (and don't doubt for a second that Trump won't have McConnell jumping through hoops for him). And any Republican senator with the guts to stand up to Trump will almost definitely be primaried when they're up for reelection. We can probably exclude Ben Sasse of Nebraska. He's a conservative true believer who is early in his career. The same goes for Jeff Flake of Arizona. And forget Rand Paul or Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio.

That leaves, as of now, Lindsey Graham and John McCain. If I were looking for someone to go independent, to abandon his party, to take down the president, I'd try for McCain.  What does McCain owe the Republican Party in Arizona at this point? He had to fight for his life against Kelli Ward in the primary. He had to suck it up as Trump insulted his time as a prisoner-of-war. And he's 80 years old and, like Murkowski, isn't up for reelection until 2022. Does he really want to spend what is likely his last term in the Senate having to at least pretend to support someone who might have been helped into office by the Russians?

McCain has a rage that can be tapped. And you know he'd love to tear Donald Trump apart. I promise you that the second McCain tries to subpoena Trump's taxes or something that gets too close to the truth about our new president, he will be booted off that committee. Promise McCain that he can lead the charge against the man who avoided military service and crapped all over those who did serve.

That's the prize: the ability to get some facts on the table about Trump that could lead to impeachment. And that ain't gonna happen unless one of the houses of Congress has legal authority to demand those facts.

Obviously, this plan relies on a number of factors: that Republicans could behave honorably; that the Democratic Party could have the guts to go through with this strategy; that some Democrat, like Manchin, doesn't turn, too; and that all are ready for a republic-defining confrontation.

It's a slim hope. But you gotta believe that there are elected Republicans who are freaked out right now. Majority power is the only thing that can bring Trump down. Hell, tell any senators that switch to independent or Democrat that once Trump is out of the picture, they can switch right back. Or try to win the majority in the midterms.

You wanna defeat an irrational opponent? You gotta figure out how to build a wall around his irrationality.


This Horrible Belief About the Election and What to Do With It

If a Republican were president right now and an incoming Democrat had won in an election where there was even a whiff of Russian interference, the nation would be shut down right now. Lawyers would be filing every lawsuit imaginable in every court everywhere. Marches would be ready to blockade the path of the electors from even getting to their meeting place. Impeachment documents would have been drawn up and, if they were in the minority in Congress, Republicans would be nonstop shaming Democrats, asking if they're loyal to the United States or Russia, until they agreed not to certify the election. It would be a 50-alarm fire and no one would be able to stop the momentum until the president-elect agreed to postpone inauguration until either a definite determination was made about the Russian influence or until a new election could be held. And that's what they'd do if the Democratic president-elect was an entirely competent, qualified person. If it was an egomaniacal hedonist who craps all over the traditions and decorum of the government? We'd be at Def-Con Monica.

And who could blame them, really? If Democratic elected officials truly believe that Russia hacked the Republican and Democratic National Committees' email servers in an effort to push the needle even slightly towards Donald Trump, then that's exactly how they should be acting.

In a twist right out of Shakespeare, President Obama's fatal flaw is the very thing that launched him into the presidency in the first place: his belief in the basic decency of people. It has failed him time and again, yet so often when dealing with his political opposition, he has treated them with respect and dignity that they did not deserve and that they refused him. It failed him when he tried to get Mitch McConnell to release a joint statement on the hack before the election. McConnell said he wouldn't do it and, if the Democrats did, he would just call it political games and discredit it. So, being decent, Obama backed down. Everyone in that situation should be ashamed.

Now, in the last weekend before the Electoral College votes on Monday, in the last month before Donald Trump takes over and attempts to completely destroy his legacy, it is time for President Obama to at long last forgo his instinct to trust that right will somehow always win and to actually reach out to bend the arc of history towards progress. In simpler terms, he needs to fuck some shit up.

This is where we are right now: Obama has such confidence that Russia did hack the servers that he is promising that the United States will retaliate. Now, yes, real evidence needs to be presented to the nation (which will automatically be dismissed as false in many quarters, notably the ones that inform Trump's opinions). But, at this point, I'm gonna trust Obama over Russia or the guy who told an audience in Chicago a blatant lie last night: that the murder rate is "the largest it’s been in 45 years."

In the course of two tweets, Trump pretended no one had ever talked about the hacking until now and then admitted that people had talked about the hacking before the election. It's no wonder that White House Spokesman Josh Earnest could directly say, "Mr. Trump obviously knew that Russia was engaged in malicious cyber activity that was helping him and hurting Secretary Clinton's campaign."

As Trump continues to deny and deflect on Russia's involvement, it would be good to remember the rule that whatever Trump says about others generally applies to himself. During the election, for instance, Trump kept insisting that Hillary Clinton's email server something or other "disqualified" her from even running for president. The truth is that Trump's financial entanglements that will likely put him in violation of the Constitution from the moment he's sworn in actually should have disqualified him from running. And he knew that (and, as many others have said, I'm still not convinced that this election is not a publicity stunt that got out of hand).

So we have to consider both Trump's just weird refusal to take the intelligence agencies he's going to need at their word on Russia and that, in the latter part of the election cycle, he claimed that the whole thing was "rigged" against him. Again, it's just a damned odd thing to say. What we originally thought was simply a shot across the bow of the legitimacy of a Clinton victory is seeming more and more like a deflection from the election actually being, if not rigged, then manipulated. Ultimately, if there was coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia, then do we call that "treason"? And if we do, then we have to follow through with all that that requires.

At the very least, President Obama should ask that Congress delay the Electoral College vote until, as Trump might say, we can figure out what the hell is going on. Barring that, he should ask Congress to delay the January 6 count of electoral votes. Barring that, Democrats should file objections to the vote that will force Congress to have to go on record in support of Trump.

And rank and file Democrats better be calling their members of Congress and the White House to voice their concern. And they better be ready to take to the streets to shut this down before the Trump cancer metastasizes so that its diseased tendrils grow deep into the American body. Act like our goddamned lives depend on it. Obama should be leading the charge on this, asking all concerned Americans to get involved. Just don't expect decency from a good many of them.

Barring all of that and Trump becoming president (as is most likely), well, then we need a new plan. And I've got an idea or two.

One last thing for President Obama: Fire the fuck out of James Comey. Shit, arrest that motherfucker.


Russian Election Interference: We Need to Know and We Need to Know Now

Let's get one or two things straight from the outset here about the hacking of the email servers of the DNC and RNC:

We don't know for sure how Russia was attempting to influence the presidential election. Oh, there is plenty of smoke coming at us from the CIA, the FBI, and every other agency that collects data, spies, or just generally fucks with people. We've known that since at least early October, but, you know, it's hard to pay attention to that when a tangerine-haired howler monkey is screeching, "Emails!" across the tops of the jungle trees and the other howler monkeys are hooting along. But the public hasn't been shown the evidence that hackers associated with Russian intelligence agencies were screwing with the apparently far-too-pliable minds of the average American voter. Yeah, we can make some assumptions, and, really, and, c'mon, lots of this shit is pretty goddamn obvious. But, unlike pizza parlor child molestation ring fantasies, some of us like to be shown proof, especially from the goddamn CIA, before we sharpen our pitchforks and pour lighter fluid on our torches.

And that's why we must keep pressure on Congress, on President Obama (who needs to get out in front on this, transition be damned), on journalists to investigate this shitstorm before it engulfs us all. We need answers and we need them fast. Donald Trump's election already has an asterisk next to it because the one historic aspect of it is that he lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million. We don't need to find out in a year that Russia dicked us harder than a horny bear on a rotting log. By then, we'll be chest deep in whatever flood of fuckery Trump and his superfascist team of generals and capitalist pigs have planned, and it's a hell of a lot easier to stop something from happening than extricating yourself from it once it's happening. Ask anyone who's had cancer or gotten hooked on heroin. No, you stop this now if it needs to be stopped.

If Trump was anything like a decent human being and a patriotic American, he'd be leading the call for investigations. In fact, if he gave a happy monkey fuck about anything other than his ascension to whatever realms of blind power and emperor-like wealth he hopes to attain, he'd ask Congress to postpone the Electoral College vote until there was some kind of closure on the issue of election interference. The only reasons not to be leading the charge for legitimacy is that Trump either knows that he better get his wee paws on the executive branch so he can start fucking with people before anyone subpoenas his taxes or he colluded in some way with Russia, even if it was something as bizarre as, fuck, who knows at this point, let's say...paying off Putin to keep the RNC emails quiet. This is all so absurd that we're out of Robert Ludlam-land and headed straight to Don DeLillo-ville (read a fuckin' book).

After all the lunatic conspiracy theories of this stupid century that's in its hormonal teenage years, the 9/11 insider job, the climate change "hoax," birtherism, and the multiple nefarious crimes of Hillary Clinton and her cronies, we are facing something that is more real than any of it. Right now, there is more evidence than all of those combined times 1000 that Russia, a nation that is antagonistic to the United States, might have, at the very least, taken advantage of a trove of hacked emails to push the needle just enough to get a dangerously inexperienced egomaniac with business ties to Moscow elected president. (This is not to mention the assist from the Republican FBI director.) It's also entirely possible that Russia fucked with the election on multiple fronts, up to and including manipulation of a candidate. And the evidence is not coming from internet savages and talk radio masturbators, but from sources at intelligence agencies and major media outlets. Yeah, the CIA has done a shit-ton of evil in the world. But they sure as hell aren't always wrong.

So all of this is scary, man. Like stomach-dropping scary. One preservation instinct that will kick in really quickly is to try to forget about it, to just let the installation of the Trump presidency happen and go about our business. We all pretended that George W. Bush actually won in 2000 and didn't burn the joint down. Except this time is different. People across the political spectrum understand that Trump is a real and present danger to Americans, whether through eliminating their health insurance or getting us into more idiotic wars. We need to know the extent of Russian interference as quickly as possible. And, if such interference existed, the election itself needs to be challenged on every possible front. Take things to the Supreme Court. If President Obama has evidence that the Trump campaign had any coordination with Russia in regards to the hack, the response needs to be forceful and direct, possibly including arrest of those involved. Either we give a damn about democracy or we don't. At the very least, let us believe that Trump was elected without foreign intervention. Let us just be disappointed with his idiot hordes as he sends us to the reeducation camps.

The point here is that we are exploring uncharted lands, filled with starving alligators, rapist pirates, and syphilitic prostitutes with teeth around their assholes. Tread carefully, motherfuckers, because one wrong step and horror awaits you.


The Loser-in-Chief

Let me clear my throat.

When I first put myself in a self-imposed time out, one of the reasons was that I was really fucking pissed at myself for getting the presidential election so wrong, for thinking that it was a no-brainer that Hillary Clinton would be elected, that the country wasn't so stupid and deluded and hateful that it would elect a fuzzy, bulbous fungus in human form instead. So, yeah, I beat the shit out of myself for that, something I think that lots of real so-called pundits should have done and didn't. If you're so fucking wrong, you own that. You deal with it. You wrestle with that shit.

But lately, I've come around to another way of thinking. I wasn't wrong. Our election system is so innately fucked that it got it wrong. Right now, Clinton is up by nearly 3 million votes. That's 2 percent more than Donald Trump, with a lead that's growing with every precinct finalized. Yeah, yeah, she didn't win the presidency. But I wasn't wrong about the country. Nearly 54% of voters rejected Trump. And a plurality supported Clinton by far. Sure, that's way too many dumb fucks for any nation, but fuck you if you think Donald Trump has a "mandate" or a "historic victory" or some such shit. It's a goddamned embarrassment to say to the world, "Yeah, over here each person's vote is totally not equal."

Vice-President Elect Mike Pence, a man who looks like he slowly and angrily masturbates to kitten-stomping videos, claimed that the fact that Trump won more counties than Clinton is a sign of how amazingly splendiferous Trump's triumph is. Except, you know, fuck you. Trump won Petroleum County (yes, there is a goddamn Petroleum County) in Montana with a total of 278 votes out of 322 cast. Clinton won Manhattan's county in New York with 515,481 votes out of nearly 600,000 cast. In your precious list of counties won, those are each counted once.

I got nothing against the shit kickers and roughnecks of Petroleum County and I hope they don't have anything against us up here in the Northeast. But double fuck anyone for saying that 1 Montanan who voted for Trump is worth the same as over 1850 people who voted for Clinton in Manhattan. Your history-making is bullshit. Trump is the Loser-in-Chief, and he will always have asterisk after his name that'll drive him insane(r).

Trump won because the Founders created a fucked-up system to make slave states feel wanted because conservatives have always thrown a fit if you don't just accept their ignorance. We can delude ourselves and say that "in their wisdom" the Founders created the Electoral College as a way to put the brakes on the election of a vile blithering idiot with dictatorial aspirations. But it's that very system that has gotten us to this point. As much as we want the electors to go rogue, they're not gonna put Clinton in office. They're gonna throw it to the Congress, which will just put Trump in or some other putrid fuck like John "Coat Hanger Lover" Kasich. And that still won't reflect what the majority of the country wants. Yeah, the Founders were wrong and total elitists who would be appalled at Trump winning. Shit, I wouldn't be surprised if Trump is bitch-slapped and buggered by the ghost of Benjamin Franklin.

(If Clinton truly wanted to fight, she'd take Lawrence Lessig's advice and go after the constitutionality of the apportionment of the electors. Republicans would do it in a heartbeat if the electoral and popular vote were reversed. But Democrats never fight like that. The GOP is throwing sand in our eyes and stomping us while we're wondering why the ref doesn't call a penalty.)


Watch This Space

I think my head is getting back in the game.


A Poem from North Dakota for Thanksgiving

"Peace Path"
by Heid E. Erdrich, an Ojibwe writer from North Dakota (now living in Minnesota)

This path our people walked
one hundred two hundred              endless years
since the tall grass opened for us
and we breathed the incense that sun on prairie
                                                             offers to sky
Peace offering with each breath
each footstep           out of woods
to grasslands plotted with history
removal   remediation                     restoration
Peace flag of fringed prairie orchid
green glow within white froth
calling a moth who nightly
seeks the now-rare scent                 invisible to us
invisible history of this place
where our great-grandfather         a boy
beside two priests and 900 warriors
gaze intent in an 1870 photo      
                                                             his garments white as orchids
Peace flag                                           white banner with red cross
crowned with thorns                       held by a boy            
at the elbow of a priest 
beside Ojibwe warriors                   beside Dakota warriors
Peace offered after smoke and dance
and Ojibwe gifts of elaborate beaded garments
thrown back in refusal
by Dakota Warriors                         torn with grief 
                                                             since their brother’s murder
This is the path our people ran
through white flags of prairie plants
Ojibwe calling Dakota back
to sign one last and unbroken treaty
Peace offering with each breath
each footstep                out of woods
to grasslands plotted with history
removal   remediation                     restoration
Two Dakota    held up as great men
humbled themselves
to an offer of peace
before a long walk south
before our people entered the trail
walking west and north
                                                           where you walk now
where we seek the source
the now-rare scent
invisible as history
history the tall grass opens for us
                                                            Breathe the incense of sun on prairie
                                                            Offer peace to the sky


Like America, I'm Feeling Broken

A dear friend has a brother with Down Syndrome. This year, he voted for the first time, and he couldn't have been more excited to push a button for Hillary Clinton. After Clinton lost, my friend, his sister, asked him how he was feeling. He said, "We're having meatloaf for dinner tonight."

Goddamn, I want to have that response.

I've gotta be honest here, and feel free to call me a "pussy" or whatever you need, but very early last Wednesday morning, around 1 a.m., when I knew that it was really, truly over (although we all pretty much knew by 11 p.m.), something broke in me, to the point that I don't know how to react. In case you haven't noticed, the last week around this joint, it's been pretty messy and morose.

I have barely been able to watch any of the complicit news networks as they recalibrate to the reality of a Donald Trump presidency. And when I do, I hear things, as I did on Saturday, like a Trump supporter on a CNN panel decrying the protests because they are chanting and marching about "old news." That's right. The campaign wasn't 5 days over, but, as far as this sycophantic slug was concerned, it may as well have been years ago. "We need to look to the future," he explained.

So I watch briefly and I get pissed and then I just feel broken again. Hell, it's better than the nausea I get, triggered by Trump's voice. I'm guessing that it comes from the helplessness of the situation, the feeling that we can't change this, along with the feeling that we did this to ourselves. I knew the nation was racist and dumb. I just didn't know how racist and how dumb. Now I do.

I have thought about how ridiculously wrong so many of us had been, we who blog and pontificate and punditize, rudely or cleanly. And I was especially angry at myself for not listening to an especially wise person. That'd be me back in 2008, when I said one reason that I was supporting Barack Obama over Clinton was because "somewhere in some cellar in some Little Rock or DC mansion, there's a machine that's been whirring its gears on low for the last seven years that's getting greased up and ready to kick into full speed once more, and it's aching to chew up Clinton, ready to get sticky with her blood and bones, for once it's really chugging, that fucker needs to be fed, ready to spew once again to willing, slavering media dogs who lap up that anti-Clinton vomit like it's kibble from Walter Cronkite's ass." I knew exactly what would happen. But I let myself think that it wouldn't. And I don't blame Clinton. I blame pretty much everyone except her.

Things are gonna be bad. I believe that with the fervent faith of a crazed minister awaiting the Rapture. A fight is coming. A big fucking fight, possibly the worst in my lifetime, and I've faced down Operation Rescue, angry cops in riot gear at anti-Iraq War protests, and a raging George H.W. Bush supporter. I want to be part of that fight. But if I'm going to be in fighting shape, I gotta tap out for a little while. I gotta get my head straight and my voice and fists ready.

I'm not gonna do that spending the next couple of months writing constantly, "Boy, Donald Trump sure is gonna suck" or "Boy, that cabinet choice sure is gonna dick us all over." Because, really, we don't know how bad it'll be and what he's gonna do until his tiny moisturized, manicured orange hands are holding the reins of power. I know that it's the privilege of whiteness and maleness that allows me to pretend I can ignore the rise of the Trump-tatorship, even for short amount of time. But I want to be the best ally to others that I can be.

So, after over 13 years of almost continuous daily blogging, I'm taking a leave of absence for a while.

I'm not going cold turkey. I will probably post every now and then if something insane happens (although, c'mon, "insane" is relative at this point) or if the mood strikes.

I'll definitely still be on Twitter. And I'll be piping up on Facebook, too.

Also, if someone would like me to write for their publication (c'mon, Guardian, you know you want me), I'll pop up there.

Oh, and as long as I'm pimping myself, I've got what I think is a kick-ass new play, political and feminist as hell, if any professional theatre or group is interested in checking it out. When there are public readings, I'll let you know.

Before checking out and switching to a much lighter political diet, lemme leave you with a few thoughts:

1. I believe that the most patriotic thing that President Obama could do would be to bypass the Senate and appoint Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. The Senate has broken tradition. So should the president.

2. The members of the Electoral College have a constitutional duty to save us from someone like Trump. They would be derelict in that duty if they let him take office.

3. If Clinton had won, the next 4-8 years would have been a nightmare of impeachment hearings and endless investigations, all emails, all the time. So that's one small blessing amid the conflagration.

4. Donald Trump is in this to enrich himself and his family. Whether or not that's what he intended, it's what he will do because it's the only thing he knows how to do: make himself richer on the backs of others.

5. Trump will do everything that he condemned Hillary Clinton for and worse. And Republicans will give him a pass. This will be the most enraging part of the next couple of months.

6. You should give money to organizations like the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, the Human Rights Campaign, and others. You should make sure you donate to local groups that are helping undocumented immigrants, the homeless, the disempowered all around. And you should subscribe to things like Mother Jones and give money to Talking Points Memo. They are the good guys. They'll need all the support they can get.

That's it. I may come running back here after a short hiatus. It's entirely possible. Addiction is like that. If not, I'll be back by Inauguration Day in 2017, after this shit year has ended. We've got a nation to save but, as they always tell you, you have to put your own oxygen mask on before you can help others do the same.

I need to go wander in the desert for a while. I need to down peyote and go on a spirit journey. I need to wantonly fuck wayward bikers and lonely bartenders and rough waitresses and howl at the moon as we orgasm in the dust. I need to cook an iguana over an open fire.

And then I will come back, righteous rage restored, pieces back together, ready to face down the motherfuckers who would break us all again and again.


A Leather Slave's Return: The Inevitable Cliffhanger

Karl Rove's former leather slave was finally used to a safe life. The nightmares had lessened at last, after years of drugs and brief hospitalizations and even electroshock therapy. He was finally able to get a good night's sleep somewhere around 2013. The leather slave had belonged to Karl Rove when that pudgy demon of demographic manipulation was in the White House in most of the first decade of this terrible century. He had been kept in the basement, chained to a coffin containing the bones of William Lincoln, and Rove had routinely descended the stairs in this little-visited chamber to wreck the leather slave's asshole and to share those pleasures with whatever members of the executive branch and assorted media figures might visit. But sometime in 2008, the slave got free and had been able to stay free for the last 8 years.

All that changed on election night last week. Watching the results trickle in, watching as a man who made George W. Bush look like Albert Einstein crossed with Will Rogers beat the most qualified candidate in American history, the leather slave curled up on the couch of his apartment in Chelsea in Manhattan. "I have a life now!" he yelled at his television. "Goddamnit, I have things I've got to get done!" He thought about his boyfriend, Joey, and all his friends. He thought about his job working with an organization for LGBTQ youths and how much things had improved for them. "It wasn't supposed to be like this," he cried on the phone to Joey, who had left the sad Clinton victory party, drunk and just wanting to go home. "We were supposed to keep moving forward. I can't go back, Joe. I can't."

Joe assured him that everything would be fine. No one knew where he was. No one knew he had been Karl Rove's leather slave. He was good, Joe said.

The leather slave didn't believe Joe. He hid in his apartment for the weekend, refusing to answer the phone or texts or even go online, anything to prevent others from discovering where he lived. Then the knocks started at his door. He pretended he wasn't home. A few hours later, the knocking started again, more insistent. A few hours after that, it was rattling the whole place. "Fuck," thought the leather slave, "fuck it. Let's get this over with."

He looked through the peephole and saw them standing there - the bloated, alcoholic visage of white nationalist gorgon Steen Bannon and the polished-to-a-sharp-evil Jared Kushner. "What do you want?" he yelled.

"You know what we want," Bannon sighed, ready to get on with things. "Come on out, or we'll buy the whole building and wreck it and then drag you out."

The leather slave decided to stay strong. He knew the White House basement well. He knew what awaited him. He knew that nothing in this stupid, selfish age of stupid, selfish people would ever last more than a few years before the devil of misdirected "change" took over like a mass hysteria. He knew he was destined to become the leather slave once again.

He opened the door and took in the scabby, sore face of Bannon and the shining vindictiveness of Kushner. Kushner held a leash and a ball gag. "You can keep your clothes on until we get to the limo," Kushner said. "Then it's the assless chaps."

The ex-leather slave, now new leather slave nodded. "We're taking you back to Trump Tower first to soften you up. You might be out of practice," Bannon explained. "And then we'll decided if you're staying here or at the White House. Don't worry. His dick is way smaller than Bush's or Cheney's."

A tear slowly trickled down his cheek, but the leather slave stepped out into the hallway. "Do what you have to do," he said. "You will anyways." And then they led him to the elevator to face the descent once again.


Note to President Obama: Blow the GOP's Shit Up

One of the things I have always faulted President Obama for is that, when it comes to his domestic political enemies, he has sought to give them the benefit of the doubt. Even when they greeted his outstretched hand by waving their dicks at him, Barack Obama has told us for most of his presidency that Republicans were honorable, rarely ever raking them over the coals, rarely impugning their motives, rarely calling out the motherfuckers for fucking their mothers. It has always been to his detriment that he has tried so hard not to demonize demons.

Even now, as Donald Trump bumblefucks his way through a bullshit transition into a sad, disastrous presidency (that he will inevitably get richer from), Obama has avoided confrontation. Now, you could say that Obama is such a decent man that he can sit with the orange prick who provoked some of the most racist responses to him and his family and try to teach that orange prick how to not blow the joint up. And you can look at Trump's gracious response to Obama and desperately seek some comfort in it, hoping that it indicates that Trump is taking his new job seriously.

But you're being a fool. And so is President Obama in this case.

What we know about Donald Trump is that he will lie and lie and lie. He will fart in your face and tell you it was a ghost. Breitbart will report it as real. And his idiot hordes will insist that they saw that flatulent specter. We also know that Trump will say whatever he thinks his audience at the time wants to hear. He said almost exactly that at some of his rallies, where the red hats replaced the brown shirts, testing something on a crowd and when they didn't respond, trying something else that got applause and cheers. That's his method: say whatever the fuck people want to hear, agree to just about anything that isn't legally binding (or that can't be overwhelmed by dickish lawsuits), and then do whatever the fuck he wants, fuck you if you don't like it. It's what he's doing right now by refilling the DC swamp with sewer water instead of draining it. Take that, rubes. And they will.

Trump is playing Obama. As much as you think Obama is flattering Trump's ego by respecting his election, Trump is using Obama's innate decency to legitimize his ascendance. It's frustrating as hell because Obama oughta be smarter than this.

Oh, sure, yeah, you can say that this is Obama's patented 11-dimensional chess game, that he's hoping all this attention will educate Trump and that, as a result, Trump won't gut the Affordable Care Act and other accomplishments of the last 8 years. Yeah, that ain't Trump. And any hope that Republicans will stand up to Trump is pure fantasy. Think of the most assholish thing they can do. Now multiply it by control of the entire government.

What Obama can do in his last couple of months in office is push Republicans into a confrontation. The easiest one is the appointment of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court under the idea that the Senate's failure to act is a kind of consent, a "we don't fuckin' care, do what you want." It's like when a president refuses to act on a bill within ten days while Congress is in session. It becomes a law, no? Presentment clause, motherfuckers. Let's take it to the Supreme Court for a decision.

Your Prankster Joe Biden memes are hilarious. But blowing up the GOP's naked hijacking of the Supreme Court would be the ultimate joke to play on these America-hating bastards.


American Eclipse, Part 4: Your White "Pain" Can Go Fuck Itself

It hasn't stopped yet, this constant thrum of voices telling us that we need to "understand" the "pain" and the "fear" of Trump voters. "We," in this case, are the ones who look at those Americans and see the most loathsome versions of ourselves, the ill-informed, the overly credulous, the willing patsies, the greedy marks, the covetous fools, and the racist shits. In order to move ahead, we must reach out to this group, we're told, that we, who supported the auto industry bailout and health care and food stamps and job retraining and addiction services, we whose liberal policies kept them from flat out dying, we are the ones who didn't get it. What a goddamned joke to tell us that we don't understand and those who tried to cut or prevent or get rid of all of those things do understand.

If a group of rabid dogs corners me in an alley in the middle of a city, the animals may take me out, but they are still dogs and I am still human. They won't let me survive because I try to pet them. (Am I comparing Donald Trump's voters to rabid dogs? Yes. Yes, I am.)

The other refrains of the weekend were the usual nonsense about what could have been done differently. Goddamn, I'm so sick of hearing about how Bernie Sanders could have beaten Trump. It's a waste of time because we have no idea how the public would have reacted to the inevitable reaming of Sanders. Hell, if we're playing Fantasy Election, you could make just as valid a bullshit argument that what really damaged Hillary Clinton was Sanders running in the first place. Think about it: most progressives might have coalesced early around Clinton and, instead of a bruising primary that ended up creating animosity among Democrats, we might have...See? It's an enormous waste of time. Do you feel any better? Of course not.

I'm gonna offer one wouldashouldacoulda that can point in a direction for Democrats: the biggest mistake that Hillary Clinton made was in choosing Tim Kaine as her running mate. Nothing against Kaine, and, yeah, yeah, the VP pick is not supposed to have that much of an effect. But it signals to groups of voters how you might end up leading. When Trump picked the odious dickscab, Mike Pence, he was telling evangelicals that they were cool with each other. Pence gave cover for a large contingent of Trump voters. By choosing Kaine, who, yeah, can speak Spanish, Clinton was mistakenly and symbolically whitening the White House.

It's time for Democrats to stop trying to appeal to a white demographic that constantly turns against it and to do everything possible to energize the non-white vote, and that means, in as many cases as it is possible, nominating and running non-white candidates. At the national level, Democrats haven't been ahead of Republicans on the white vote since 1996, when Bill Clinton got a plurality over Dole and Perot (although, you know, combined, the other two more conservative candidates got more of the white vote than Clinton).

Black voter turnout was down this election compared to 2012, which was already down compared to 2008. Obviously, having the first black candidate was a huge factor, but imagine if Hillary Clinton had picked Cory Booker or Deval Patrick as a running mate. Again, the realm of fantasy is operating here, but let's take it further. Clinton did well with the Latino vote, but she could have done better. Imagine a Julian Castro pick for vice president. For the whites who were going to vote for or against Clinton, it wouldn't have made much of a difference. But for non-whites, yeah, shitty as it is, the reality of identity politics means that it affects turnout and voting.

My friend Duke from West Virginia said something that had crossed my mind but had shoved aside as bitterness: "Fuck the white working class. Obama gave them health insurance and a chance to get new jobs and they hated him. Fuck them."

Without thinking, I immediately agreed, and as soon as I did, it made total sense. "You're right. Democrats need to abandon the white working class." By "abandon," I mean not trying to desperately court the votes of people who always vote against their best interests and against those who are trying to help them. See, Democrats don't have a working class white people problem. Working class white people have the problem. When you vote against those who are trying to help you for the very people who have harmed you, then you are not dealing with rational thought.

Yeah, that's patronizing and elitist. But nearly half of the voters in a presidential election chose the man who regularly lied to them. So you'll have to forget it if you want me to romanticize and normalize their ignorance.

By the way, that ignorance is a product of years of Republican fuckery at the local level to assure them that they do not get educated. That long game has finally paid off big time.

This is my solution, fantasy though it may be.  Devote even more resources to making sure a coalition of non-whites is united. Devote less to the hurt feelings of angry whites. Let's have this fuckin' fight for what the country is. They won this battle. Let's win the war.


American Eclipse, Part 3: Into the Dark, Alone and Together

"Yeah, and jobs in sending Morse code and driving carriages are coming back, too," my West Virginia pal Duke told me this morning. He was pissed as hell about all the people around him who are absolutely sure that Donald Trump will be able to "bring back" the coal mining industry and all the jobs that go with it. They don't want to lose their way of life, they say.

"Too fucking bad," I answered. "It's lost. That's what happens. That's the way shit goes in every business everywhere." For instance, if you take pictures on film, it's an expensive, indulgent activity done just for the sake of doing it. Talk to goddamn Kodak. No one agitated for a return to film because digital photography changed an industry. (Please don't tell me about the superiority of film to digital images. That doesn't change the point.)

Duke continued, "And other places have learned that. North Carolina shifted from textile mills and tobacco to base its economy on other things." (Note: I'm calling him "Duke" because I know that it'll irk the hell out of him. He's a UNC grad.) He went on to explain that as China moves to greater reliance on renewable, clean energy like solar and wind, far outpacing the United States in that area, demand for coal has plunged worldwide. In fact, China is overwhelming its grid with wind and solar power so quickly that it has had to slow down a bit. T

Of more direct impact on the U.S.  is the mismanagement of the entire coal industry by its corporations, not to mention the explosion of fracking giving us cheap "natural" gas. Forget it. Coal is fucking dead. "I'd love a job doing Morse code," Duke reiterated. And he would. He knows how to send messages in Morse code, which will be handy in the inevitable future of a Trump-fucked hellscape.

Then we turned, as it's impossible to avoid, to talking about the white working class voters who went for Trump. "Fuck 'em," Duke said. See, right now in West Virginia, the Obama administration is pouring millions of dollars into job retraining programs because, you know, coal is fucking dead and the government wants to help people who need to transition out of the dying industry. "I've heard people say that they don't need to get retrained because Trump is gonna bring back the coal industry."

Except Trump is not going to bring back the coal industry unless it becomes a government-dependent entity, constantly in need of funding because it can't pay its bills. Trump was lying about coal, as he was lying about most everything he claims he'll be able to do. But his voters didn't care because what Trump said spoke to their deepest desires, like a demon promising pussy and chocolate in exchange for your soul.

You need to understand this, if you understand nothing else this week: You have no idea how bad it's going to get. Trump is going to get to ram what he wants through Congress because the members will be scared shitless of Trump's idiot hordes turning on them. The easiest way to explain how fucked we are is that I'm hoping that complete dickholes like Lindsey Graham and a couple of other Republican senators are honorable enough to leave the filibuster in place.

But I'm not sure that the filibuster will be sufficient (especially when Democratic senators from states with Republican governors suddenly get sick with radiation poisoning or something). And even if a conservative Supreme Court declares some of Trump's new laws or actions unconstitutional, I guarantee you that we will see the impeachment of one or more justices.

All the norms are gone now. Everything you thought about how the government ought to be run is going to get thrown out onto its ass. You are going to see citizens dragged before congressional committees in order to face interrogation for being Muslim. You are going to see immigrants turned into scapegoats for anything that Trump wants to do that fails. You are going to see an even greater proliferation of illegal guns and the rolling back of civil rights and environmental regulations and financial industry restrictions and food safety measures. That's on top of the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

Don't fucking pretend that Trump will moderate or rise above himself. He will out-Nixon Nixon in cruelty, and he will out-Bush Bush in disastrous actions. But he will out-Reagan Reagan in making it seem like he's so goddamn great despite his cruelty, incompetence, and lies.

Ask the coal miners how it's going in a couple of years. Of course, you'll probably have to communicate with them by Morse code. And they'll probably still say Trump is awesome.


American Eclipse, Part 2: Kumbaya This

Here's a story from a rude reader:

"Back in summer 2015, I was at an American Legion event in [a rural area in the Northeast]. After the event a few of the guys and I went to a local bar to have a couple beers. As the hours drifted past, the guys slowly left, and I was left alone at the bar.

"Being a quiet weeknight, I started chatting up the bartender. She was a 40-something white woman in jeans, work boots, and a flannel shirt, typical of the area, which is mostly agricultural. Eventually the conversation turned towards family, and she told me about her 20-something daughter, who worked part time at a nail salon.

"A few weeks prior, her daughter collapsed unconscious in her home. She found her daughter on the floor and called 911. They rushed her off to the ER, couldn't figure out was wrong initially, and started running tests. After a couple days in and out of various clinics and numerous tests, they found some sort of issue in her brain and operated. The mother was foggy on the exact details, but absolutely certain that her daughter nearly died and was saved by the operation.

"The next part is what blew me away. She said, 'Now, don't get me wrong, I hate that Obama, and if he were here in this bar right now, I'd shoot him right in his head.' She literally was pointing between her eyes as she said it. She continued, 'But that Obamacare, my daughter got Medicaid because of it. We can't afford health insurance and I don't know how we would have paid for that surgery without it. Obamacare saved my daughter's life.' She then went on some more about how she hated Obama. I was dumbstruck, paid my bill, and drove the fuck home."

How furious do you feel after reading that? How many of you have heard similar stories? I'm gonna bet a fuckload. And I'm gonna bet a fuckload of people who got insurance through the Affordable Care Act, either through the exchanges or through the Medicaid expansion, voted for Donald Trump and Republicans, who have vowed to make repealing the law one of their first tasks.

And when they lose their health insurance, when they get sick, and when they die and when their children die, I will laugh at them.

Does that seem harsh? I mean, I know, I know, we're all supposed to pretend the ugly months that preceded Tuesday never happened. I wish Hillary Clinton had walked up to the microphone yesterday and said, "Burn shit down. Burn down everything the misogynists built. Bring the country to its filthy knees." But, alas, both she and President Obama went with the conciliatory, healing approach, as if somehow those who have broken the country want it to heal. They don't. They want it to scar.

But, no, no, "Stop Shaming Trump Supporters," liberal rabbi Michael Lerner tells us. "The left needs to stop ignoring people’s inner pain and fear. The racism, sexism and xenophobia used by Mr. Trump to advance his candidacy does not reveal an inherent malice in the majority of Americans," he writes. This presupposes that the racism, etc. isn't intrinsic to the fear, that those who have learned and expressed and exulted in hate of others for the crime of not being white and Christian and male are somehow able to be convinced by telling them we understand their class anxiety and poverty. God, how that would be amazing. It would be even more amazing if the left hadn't just been told to take the health insurance we just got most of them and go fuck ourselves with it. And you know what sucks about being a liberal? When we get a chance, we'll be right back at it, trying to make sure these same short-sighted twat fleas can have access to medical care.

This conflagration of anger at the coalition of dumb fucks, assholes, and shitheads who voted for Trump is going to take a long time to calm down to the usual dull roar of blind rage at the fuckery of the ignorant. The idiot hordes have overrun the joint, like barbarians have ever since they evolved enough to wield clubs. Shit, most Trump voters don't have an idea of what the fuck he's gonna do, which makes them that much more pathetic.

As for Donald Trump, listen, motherfucker, it's gonna be time soon to put the fuck up or shut the fuck up, not that you'd ever shut the fuck up. And not just on the cruel and worthless things that your idiot hordes cheered you on about, like your impossible wall and your ludicrous immigration policies. No, bitch, you said you were gonna "knock the hell out of ISIS." You fuckin' better do that without dragging us into another war 'cause that's the way you said it would go down. ISIS is gleeful right now, expecting you to stumblefuck into the greatest recruitment tool since promises of sex slaves.

And you got a shit-ton of construction to do that doesn't involve a border wall. You've proposed huge infrastructure spending, saying yesterday, "We are going to fix our inner cities, and rebuild our highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, schools, hospitals. We’re going to rebuild our infrastructure, which will become, by the way, second to none. And we will put millions of our people to work as we rebuild it.” But, obviously, you'll do it only in the most half-assed, bullshit, guaranteed to fail way possible because, you know, that's you, man, wasting other people's money so your tiny hands are clean and you can call yourself a winner while blaming everyone else. And let's not even get into the fact that if a Democrat had proposed a massive infrastructure plan, it would have been endlessly shit on. (To be fair, Mitch McConnell is already shitting on Trump's idea; the petulant yips of Paul "Little Bitch" Ryan can be heard in the distance.)

No, I'm not playing nice. I'm not gonna fuckin' pretend, as the country falls apart, as attacks on Muslims and others increase, as the world distances itself from us, that there was something wrong with me, that I didn't understand Trump voters' concerns, that I didn't try to elect people whose policies attempted to make their lives better. I get it. They don't.

I don't need to reach out to arsonists to understand fire.


American Eclipse, Part 1: The Ignorant Voter Gets the Bliss

There is cold comfort in a number: more Americans voted for Hillary Clinton than for Donald Trump. We are supposed to hear this and take solace that over half the nation did not, in fact, vote to elect Donald Trump. That doesn't matter.

We can look at the votes for Jill Stein or Gary Johnson and wonder how many of those might have gone for Clinton, but that seems like wishful thinking since many of Johnson's votes would have likely gone for Trump or to no one at all.

In the same way, it's a fantasy that Bernie Sanders would have done better against Trump. No poll was ever conducted after a sustained barrage of attacks from the GOP and Trump because such a barrage was never necessary.

We can find hope in small things that are not insignificant, like the Democratic gains in the Senate and the House, but that does little to stem the tide of the Republican wins overall.

We can tell ourselves lies that give us succor. Perhaps Donald Trump won't lead the country in the same way that he campaigned, that he will moderate, that mythical pivot we awaited for so long. What nonsense. Trump is a 70 year-old hedonist who thrives on petty vengeance, race-baiting, power plays, and wealth-flaunting. That won't change just because he's president now.

I watched the results come in last night and early this morning, and I realized that I knew nothing. I had been predicting a Clinton victory for over 2 years. Sure, I had said that Trump was going to be the GOP nominee shortly after he announced his candidacy, but the only chance I gave him for winning was some kind of cataclysmic revelation about Clinton. I knew, hell, we all knew that the nation is a steaming cauldron of racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, and piggish individualism pretending to be a governing ideology. I thought that there would be a critical mass of people who despised the first four and who were so invested in the last that they would realize a Trump win would wreck their pocketbooks.

We need to lay the blame for this election and its consequences where it clearly should be, and that's at the feet of the voters. Trump voters decided that no amount of outright lies, no amount of outrageous statements, no amount of personal attacks, no amount of rampant egotism, no amount of ignorance of basic policy, nothing, was more important than what Trump promised them: a return to purity, a nation purged of its undesirables, a righting of a social order that had lost its hierarchical arrangement of groups of people, an isolation from the world unless other countries pay for the protection racket, and money, baby, shitloads of money.

Today, I've gotten into several arguments with people who keep insisting to me that voters wanted "change." My response is always "Change from what?" From the way things are going, they say. "How are they going?" I ask. You know, the way things are bad, they tell me. "What's bad? Crime is down overall, unemployment is down, the deficit is way down. What do they want change from?" And that's the end of the conversation because they can't articulate what people wanted change from other than "the way things are done in Washington."

Ah, dear, sweet, victorious, rancid motherfuckers who voted for Trump, how is it you do not know that the reason that things aren't "done" in Washington is that Republicans allow virtually nothing to pass through Congress? It's because the media has shattered into ideological shards that we pick and gather to form whatever narrative we need to soothe whatever prejudices we might have. Put simply, we don't read or watch the same things anymore. So Trump voters were fed a steady stream of glorification of their candidate, horrific conspiracies about Clinton and President Obama, and, at the end of the day, it was just easier to believe that than to believe that their dearest prejudices and hatreds were simply wrong. Trump was the embodiment of all their fears, a cult leader who was not only entertaining but whose language seemed to imply that to vote for him is to join a group of insiders who really understand how the world works, a counter to the intellectuals and politicians who kept saying they shouldn't be so goddamned afraid all the time. The ignorant have had their say, loudly and ignorantly, and we must suffer their reign.

But we have to acknowledge another simple truth: Democrats just didn't show up. Roughly 7 million fewer people voted in 2016 than in 2012 for the two major candidates. That's an outrage. If you voted for Barack Obama in 2012 and you didn't vote for Clinton in 2016, you wasted your vote in 2012 (and perhaps 2008). Obama's accomplishments are going to be erased faster than you can say, "Pre-existing condition."

I'm tired, rude readers. There is no out here. There is no cathartic thing to be done. I will get to acceptance, I'm sure. But here is denial. Tomorrow, anger, maybe bargaining and depression, followed, I hope, by acceptance. And then a long break.

Here is our country now: In Cookeville, Tennessee, on Monday night, a pickup truck owned by a transgender woman who had served for 8 years in the military was set on fire. The word "Trump" was painted on the wreckage in two places. The woman was home with her 3 year-old son. She had been discharged from the Army after suffering a brain injury in Iraq in 2007. This is America, same as it ever was.

The planets have aligned for Trump -  the hatred of the black president, the hatred of the woman who dared to try to take his place, the hatred of everyone who made the country less white and more tolerant. Trump has risen and he will eclipse the light over the country, making it a cold, desolate place.


Voting: A Romance

I walked into my local middle school to vote this morning. It wasn't too crowded, although it was definitely busier than usual. The table for my precinct was being worked by the expected elderly local residents, the typical rainbow that makes up my neighborhood, an Indian man, a Hispanic woman, and a Chinese man. I heard the Chinese man speak fluent Spanish, English, and, well, Mandarin in the ten minutes I was in line.

There were more mothers there with their little girls than I've ever seen. They took their daughters into the voting booth, and I knew exactly what the grown-ups were doing: making sure their children know that you can actually vote for a woman for president, a woman who will likely win. She'll certainly win this state.

After I voted, and I'm one of those geeky voters who has some idea about the down ballot elections and the referendums, I walked out of the booth. I asked the old Indian man for a sticker, and he laughed. "We don't have stickers," he said. "You know you voted." He was right. I didn't need to show off (but I kind of wanted the sticker).

I'm fairly sure that Hillary Clinton is going to win tonight. I have to believe that, in total, we're a smarter nation than one that would elect Donald Trump. But we're dumb enough to have nominated him.

Yes, we can say that we did our part, we who voted, to save nearly half of the United States from itself. But what comes next, after the election, after the hangover, aches with the nausea of uncertainty. Will we be able to vomit out the poison in our system, or will we just go on as usual, hoping we can build a tolerance like we have so many elections before?