MAGA Terrorism Is Too Familiar

There's a murder that's been on my mind for a few weeks now. It happened in Peshawar, Pakistan, a large city in the northwest of that country. An American man, Tahir Naseem, from Chicago was in a courtroom there on charges of blasphemy, which means that certain Muslims didn't like the way that Naseem had talked about Islam and Muhammad. Yes, that really is a crime in Pakistan, one that is punishable by life in prison or death. 

In this case, Naseem, who had lived in the U.S. since 1978, had chatted on Facebook with some supposed students, who invited him to Pakistan to debate his beliefs. But, instead, in 2018, Naseem was arrested for calling himself a new prophet, and his trial was being held, finally, on July 29 of this year. That's when Faisal Khan walked up to Naseem in the courtroom and shot him repeatedly, killing Naseem right in front of the judge and lawyers. 

There are lots of reasons why this case has been bugging me. First there's the absurdity of the law itself, which has come under a great deal of criticism in recent years but still remains on the books. Then there's the brazenness of the crime. And then there's the fact that this was an American whose imprisonment we heard almost nothing about until this happened. I'll bet you've heard nothing about it until now, although there was a great NPR piece featuring an interview with Naseem's grown daughter. 

But more details in this horrific act are terribly relevant. For instance, Khan is a teenager (between 15 and 19), and the fact that he was able to get through the supposedly tight security at the courthouse shows that he had the cops on his side. Khan said of Naseem, "“He is an enemy of Islam. He is an enemy of Pakistan," and he claimed that Muhammad came to him in a dream and told him to commit murder.

Khan has been hailed as a hero by a large number of people in Pakistan. There was a march of thousands of Muslims in Peshawar in support of his actions, and there continues to be rallies calling for Khan's release. He was hailed as a hero and a "holy warrior," with lawyers lining up to take his case and defend him.  They all believe that the murder was justified to defend their faith. When Khan was arrested, the police took selfies with him, all smiling. Politicians have gone to his family to "congratulate" them. The Taliban in Pakistan support him. 

I don't know if anyone has set up a GoFundMe for Khan, but you can bet that if they could, they would.

Obviously, we see echoes of Faisal Khan in 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse, who gunned down three people in Kenosha,Wisconsin, killing two. Rittenhouse was also deluded by a kind of faith. Khan saw himself as a defender of Islam. Rittenhouse saw himself as a defender of Trumpism. The Illinois teenager (huh - same state the Naseem was from) had heard from President Donald Trump, among others, that the Black Lives Matter protests in Kenosha in the wake of the attempted murder of Jacob Blake by a police officer were a threat to a certain kind of American way of life. He decided that he had to act as a holy warrior for his MAGA faith. And he got a chance to murder some infidels, with the cops essentially on his side.

Obviously, the aftermath of Rittenhouse's murders is frighteningly like the reaction to Khan in Pakistan. Conservative commentators rushed to defend him. Sniveling hate worm Tucker Carlson said, "How shocked are we that 17-year-olds with rifles decided they had to maintain order when no one else would?" Sentient genital wart Ann Coulter tweeted that Rittenhouse should run for president. He's got some of the skeeviest lawyers around defending him, and one of them called him the equivalent of the Minutemen, the citizen soldiers who actually trained as militias during the Revolutionary War. Yeah, the Minutemen were well-regulated bearers of arms. Trump himself essentially approved of Rittenhouse's actions today. Meanwhile, instead of rallies (although you can see that coming), Rittenhouse has groups raising money for his defense, including those that are Republican, Christian, and/or pro-gun. All this is for a terrorist. That's what Rittenhouse is. That's the purpose of wandering the streets of Kenosha with his gun visible: intimidation and violence to suppress a political view you dislike.

I mean, it's not a stretch at this point to say that Trumpism is our Taliban. Trump supporters seek to turn back the clock to a time when rights for many people were limited, they expect blind obedience to their leader, and they will use violence to get their way. They consider everyone else infidels. And most people were shocked that they took over and aren't sure how to get rid of them. 

Frankly, at this point, the MAGA terrorists are so much like Muslim terrorists that we should ask everyone who supports Trump if they condemn the violence done in Trump's name. Otherwise, we may as well assume that every member of MAGA nation is a terrorist or a terrorist supporter.

That's the way this works, right? 

(Note: At this point, "right-wing extremist terrorism" and "MAGA terrorism" are the same thing. We need not pretend they're not.)


RNC Night 4: "I Alone Can Fuck It All Up"

One of President Donald Trump's ultimate tells is the phrase "as you know." Whenever Trump says something and follows it with "as you know," it's got one of two purposes. The first is flattery, as in, "I know that you are privy to this incredible insight that I have, too." The second is conspiratorial, making you complicit in his lies. If he says something absurdly false and adds "as you know," barring anyone shouting out, "No, I don't fucking know," he's essentially acting as if you have assented to the lies.

For the idiot hordes of his voters, it doesn't matter. For the rest of us, it should be alarming. Trump could say, "I strangle hobos with Ivanka's panties and lean in to kiss them as they take their last breath because it's the only thing that makes me ejaculate, as you know."  We might raise a hand and say, "I'm sorry. Could you go back to that strangling part? We didn't really know that." Trump voters would nod and say, "Yes, of course, we know about the hobogasm.  Do continue," and then, when Democrats started to complain about the president jizzing on hobo corpses, they'd get outraged and tell us, "Look, we all know that's who he is. We don't care."

Last night, on the fourth night of the GOP's Convention of Horror and Doom, Trump gave his weary, practically mumbled speech accepting the nomination of his party, essentially just doing his stump speech mostly without his usual riffing. But he did manage to deploy one "as you know" in service of one of his most-repeated and most-obvious lies: "We have spent nearly $2.5 trillion on completely rebuilding our military, which was very badly depleted when I took office, as you know." No, motherfucker, we don't know that because it wasn't "very badly depleted," and the only people who know it are liars. 

Lies were legion throughout the RNC. Every single speech by a politician there and most of the ones by "real people" contained lies. If lies were currency, Trump is truly as rich as he says. Practically every single thing said about the coronavirus was false, starting with the ban on travel from China, which was a bullshit action that did almost nothing, and going all the way to the vaccine that is definitely not going to be available before the election except to murder people. But the lies weren't the only fuckery. Perhaps worse were the contradictions between the present and the projected.

The contradictions in the speech and what we used to refer to as "reality" were so ridiculous and clear that the only excuses were Trump's contempt for everyone watching and an expectation that his voters would gobble up whatever he shit out.  Just a sample:

- Trump grunted, "We must always have law and order. All federal crimes are being investigated, prosecuted, and punished to the fullest extent of the law" while he was committing a federal crime, violating the Hatch Act, by forcing employees of the federal government to participate in a political campaign, which also meant that every federal employee there, including Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, was breaking federal law, too. They will not, one imagines, be punished to even the least extent of the law. (And no one there gave a damn about the abuse of the White House for campaign shits and giggles.)

- Trump talked about how Democrats will allow the federal government to take over your life while he's saying, "We will take care of your problem in a matter of hours. Just call. We have to wait for the call. It is too bad we have to, but we have to wait for the call." In other words, he wants the federal government to take over cities because they are run by Democrats. (Funny how troops aren't sent to Lubbock, Texas, where protests have been ongoing.)

- Trump said of the coronavirus, "To save as many lives as possible, we are focusing on the science, the facts, and the data. We are aggressively sheltering those at highest risk, especially the elderly," while speaking before a mostly unmasked audience that was crowded together, with many elderly people there, like Wilbur "I'm Not Even Sure If I'm Alive" Ross.

- Trump talked about prison reform but fundamentally doesn't understand the justice system, when he said that Biden wants to do away with cash bail and that would end up "immediately releasing 400,000 criminals onto the streets and into your neighborhoods." Except bail is for the accused, not the convicted, as I'm sure he fucking knows, considering all the people around him who have had to put up bail.

- Under Biden, Trump said, cities will essentially be filled with rising murder rates, riots, looting, and more. Like is happening now under Trump. Like right now.

- Under Biden, Trump said, we will "surrender" to the coronavirus as over 1000 people died of COVID-19 nearly every day of the RNC.

- Under Biden, Trump said, the economy will never recover while every week a million more people file for unemployment and more businesses are closing, again, right fucking now.

- Joe Biden is a "Trojan horse for socialism" and a puppet to Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Trump said, and he's also an extremist who said he wants to defund police and open the borders, which would mean he very specifically is neither a Trojan horse nor a puppet. (Side note: I'm confused by the idea that providing some of the things that they have in, say, Germany and France will turn the country into the Soviet Union.) 

The lawless, violent, depressed dystopia is here, now. Trump said in 2016, "I alone can fix it" when the truth is, no matter how much they try to paper it over with lies, he fucked it all up. And he fucked it up worse than Republicans usually fuck things up. 

And the promise that he made last night is that he will continue to fuck it up. That's it. That's the platform. "You like how shitty things are? Well, this shitstorm in a shithole can continue for four more years."

What's frightening is how many people will fall for Trump's frankly retro invocation of socialism and crime in the streets (even as overall crime continues to be at incredibly low rates in most of the country).  Fear of non-white people invading the pure white spaces is the driving force behind the Republican Party, as it has been for over 40 years.

But, see, it's not just through crime that they fear Black and brown people. Despite all the useful idiots protesting that Trump is not racist or the GOP does include them, what they really fear is the undermining of whiteness's central power role in the United States. That is the real crime. And for them, this loathsome, sweaty cretin who whines out his grievances is their last, best hope. All roads lead to him and all things are about him and only him. You must thank him, you must honor him, you must obey him.

It was a terrible speech, delivered badly, to an audience of assholes while shitting all over the White House and the law. It was the rhetorical nadir of a movement whose only motivation is hatred of the Other. 

And, frankly, the violent, angry way in which everyone spoke about the left makes me wonder what they have planned for us if they eke out, cheat, and steal a victory. It won't be peaceful. As you know.


Melania Trump's Shitty RNC Speech

Hey, all you legit pundits out there, don't fuckin' waste anyone's time trying to fuck the corpse of decent oratory back to life. The Republican National Convention has effectively murdered it dead, and just because it let out one last rigor mortis fart during First Lady Melania Trump's attempt at speaking what we might generously call "English," let's not dance like crazed religious fanatics and call it a resurrection. 

Melania Trump was speaking about an entirely different being than the bloated ogre who cages children and laughs as multitudes die in his festering wake that she's damned herself to be married to. She spoke of fantasy Donald Trump, one who could be "humbled by the incredible support" in 2016, despite braying like a donkey with a broom stuck up its ass about his victory every chance he's had in 4 years. She spoke of a tireless Trump, who "will not rest until he has done all he can to take care of everyone impacted by this terrible pandemic," despite constantly golfing and tweeting about the hours and hours of TV he was watching, evidence of a someone who couldn't manage to burp out a plan after downing a bucket of Diet Coke and a slop bin of Big Macs. 

Donald Trump isn't "inspired by the millions of Americans who wake up each day with a simple, yet courageous goal of providing for their families and keeping them safe." He isn't "here fighting for you." He isn't "grateful that you have trusted him to be your President." Melania said that he "will not stop fighting for you and your families," but he never even started. He fights for himself and his family, and I'm pretty sure he barely fights for them. Donald Trump is a miserable flea on the filthy anus of a failing body, and nothing more and probably much less.

But, sure, yeah, for the first time at the RNC, someone met the bar of "somewhat civilized" in their speech. Sure, Melania actually acknowledged that people died from COVID. Sure, she brought up opioid addiction and racial unrest. Jesus Christ, is that all we need to praise her? That she recognized that reality exists?

She was graded on the idiot curve, where you know someone isn't capable of doing something but you cheer them when they do the most basic shit with their few unremarkable skills. I get that when I play basketball with friends. If I hit a basket, it's like "Oh, hey, he didn't slam his head into the pole" and everyone's thrilled. But if they started telling me how awesome a player I am, I'd punch 'em in the tit for lying. 

It was a shitty speech on a basic level. Putting aside the lies about her cretinous husband and putting aside that she was no doubt doing this as part of her contract with Trump and putting aside that she's a liar and a birther, the language she used was like she was a fucking third-grader. "I always heard about an amazing place called America, a land that stood for freedom and opportunity," she said, talking about her childhood in Slovenia. That's dumb. That's dumb shit that only dumb people fall for. It's dumb like the phrase "Be Best," which is what dumbasses think is wisdom. 

Einstein visa? Eat my whole ass.

What the speech was really about was providing cover for assholes to vote for Donald Trump. Despite what his wife says, he is not "an authentic person who loves this country and its people, and wants to continue to make it better." He doesn't want "to keep your family safe" or "to help your family succeed." He doesn't give a shit about you unless your organs can keep his degenerating body alive longer.

I kept thinking about the song "A New Argentina" from Evita, where Eva Peron gets her fascist husband elected by lying about his devotion to the working class and offering her love as testimony for his worthiness. And then Juan Peron cracked down on any dissent, tortured and murdered his opposition, and enriched himself on the backs of those he purported to help. 

But, hey, Melania said people should be nice to each other, so let's all give her a round of applause.


Random Observations on the RNC Orgy and Klan Rally (Night 1: That Was Some Weird Shit)

1. The theme of the Republican National Convention, which started last night from various locations in Hell, was "All glory to Trump." There was no attempt to reach out, even in the smallest way, to people who might live in what we colloquially call "reality." Nope. You either rode the MAGA express straight to the Trump Pole where Trump would bestow upon you all the toys you could ever want, or you were a miserable leftist fuck who only deserved Marxist lumps of coal. Honestly, every single speaker could have gotten up there and talked about how great it was to give enthusiastic blow jobs to Trump and it really wouldn't have made one bit of difference. If Steve Scalise had sauntered up to the mic while wiping cum off the corner of his mouth, I'd've thought, "Yeah, I assumed."

2. There wasn't a word of sympathy for the 200,000 people in this country who have died of COVID-19, as if that never happened. In fact, in the telling of the RNC, some sneaky Chinaman defiled our virginal American shores and infected us with coronavirus, probably on purpose. And while all those evil Democrats ran around saying that it wasn't a threat, one man knew right away what to do, and that man was Donald Trump, and Donald Trump allowed the United States to suckle from his orange breast, his milk filled with the medicine that would heal us. This wasn't spin. We're used to spin, where you take the facts and make them look good in a context of your choosing. No, this was a complete, Soviet-level revision of recent history, where Trump never said it would go away, never said there would only be 1 or 15 or 60,000 deaths, never claimed there were cures and treatments that didn't exist, never accused governors desperately trying to get PPE and ventilators of just trying to make him look bad, never demeaned the scientists working on saving us, never politicized every fucking aspect of the pandemic. It has become an article of faith among the delusional MAGA hordes that Trump saved millions of lives by doing something, never allowing the corollaries, that the only way millions of people would have died is if he did absolutely nothing and prevented anyone else from doing anything and that, if he'd done more, we wouldn't have this ridiculous, ongoing death rate, to enter their empty minds. It's a madness that is so complete, so all-engulfing that they couldn't even pause for a second to acknowledge the piles of dead bodies that their bullshit convention was stepping on.

3. I don't get this strategy that the world is fucked and we need to re-elect Donald Trump to unfuck it. We were treated to videos of protests that turned violent and unemployment porn. We heard from coked-out morons like Donald Trump, Jr., saying shit like "Anarchists have been flooding our streets and Democrat mayors are ordering the police to stand down. Small businesses across America, many of them minority owned, are being torched by mobs." Or the repulsive St. Louis couple who, when not destroying a synagogue's beehives (no, really), pointed guns at peaceful protesters who walked past their home. From their mansion they said, "They’re not satisfied with spreading the chaos and violence into our communities. They want to abolish the suburbs altogether by ending single family home zoning." Does it need to be said that these rich cuntmites sued to prevent a gay couple from moving into their 'hood? (No, really.) So the country is on fire, protesters are in the streets, coronavirus is rampaging, the economy is in tatters, and Republicans' message is "You see how shitty everything is? We need the guy who made it shitty to fix it." Sure, sure, if a mad bomber has planted bombs all over the city and half of them have gone off, you want the bomber to tell you where the rest of 'em are. But then you fucking lock the bomber away forever. And at least everyone would agree that bombs are real.

4. The racist dog whistles were loud last night from the very beginning. Alien with a wig Charlie Kirk declared that "Trump is the bodyguard of Western civilization" and "the defender of Western Civilization," which is such a thinly-veiled code for "white" that it's pretty much Saran Wrap. Rejected Muppet Matt Gaetz said of Democrats, "They’ll disarm you, empty the prisons, lock you in your home, and invite MS-13 to live next door," a sentence that is racist and makes no sense. Every mention of the border or "take away your guns" was code for "the dark people are coming and you need to be able to shoot them." Then there was Sen. Tim "Useful Idiot" Scott, who got in some anti-Semitic jams by saying that Democrats "want to take more money from your pocket and give it to Manhattan elites and Hollywood moguls." Most absurd was former governor and UN ambassador and future failed GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley, who is Indian-American. A couple of seconds after saying, "In much of the Democratic party, it’s now fashionable to say that America is racist. That is a lie. America is not a racist country," she talked about she and her family "faced discrimination and hardship." Yeah, motherfucker, because of the racism.

5. So much of what they speakers celebrated was because of Democrats. Angry meat loaf Sean Parnell talked about how "In a century, we went from ground bound dreamers gazing to the stars, to doers who created the means to reach them," which was, you know, the doing primarily of JFK and LBJ. Teary Castro-hater Maxiom Alvarez talked about how he came to America during Operation Pedro Pan in 1961, when, you know, JFK was president. Ill-informed nurse Amy Ford talked about the expansion of telehealth services, which exist primarily because of the Affordable Care Act and Republicans at the state and federal level blocked it being paid for Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP. 

6. Holy shit, Kimberly Guilfoyle must have done bath salts before heading out to yell at an empty auditorium like she had lost out on the part of Evita at the East Hampton Community Theater. I would not have been surprised if she had chewed the face off a kitten.

7. Joe Biden stories are about him forming relationships with ordinary people across the country. Donald Trump stories are about how he occasionally acknowledged that other people exist.

8. The news networks talked repeatedly about how the RNC was like reality TV. They're right because, see, reality TV is all bullshit. It's fake. It's a bunch of manipulated situations where people are prompted to act like their shittiest selves in order to fool stupid people into thinking that this is reality. So...well-done, RNC. You set the bar below ground level and managed to reach it.


Biden and Harris Believe You Deserve Sanity in Your Daily Lives

Everyone is talking about Joe Biden and Kamala Harris's speeches at the Democratic National Convention this past week as being a return of empathy or decency, but I'd go one further with another overarching theme: "Remember sanity?" It was truly like watching a funhouse mirror version of our reality, except it took the warped world around us and made it look natural again. It was honestly like you could exhale and not just wonder what insane shit might follow after the last round of insane shit.

That was what Biden and Harris imparted: a sense that we could possibly exist in a normal nation, one that wasn't constantly on the brink of exploding in violence or just collapsing into itself, unable to bear the weight of one man's insatiable ego. Harris vividly described our national anxiety: "We're at an inflection point. The constant chaos leaves us adrift. The incompetence makes us feel afraid. The callousness makes us feel alone. It's a lot." Then she went full inspirational speaker: "And here's the thing: We can do better and deserve so much more."

For his part, Biden told us the things that we deserve in a newly-sane America, like a national plan to deal with the coronavirus (although it's likely at least another 100,000 of us will die before we even get to January 20, 2021). And he laid out the choice in terms that Joseph Campbell's ghost would approve of: "We can choose the path of becoming angrier, less hopeful and more divided. A path of shadow and suspicion. Or we can choose a different path, and together, take this chance to heal, to be reborn, to unite. A path of hope and light."

Both the speeches were solid and inspirational enough. They called on our better angels that have been repressed for four years to make an appearance. They vaguely promised on much of their agenda, but the main point, made again and again, was that shit's gone crazy and that's no way for people to live. 

Both spoke about Donald Trump in terms that turned his incompetence into a tragedy, while avoiding ascribing evil intent to his actions. That was a bit of a disappointment, sort of like saying, "The arsonist didn't know how big the fire would be." In what was probably his best line, Biden gave Trump the employee annual review he's needed for decades: "Our current president has failed in his most basic duty to this nation. He failed to protect us. He failed to protect America. And, my fellow Americans, that is unforgivable." It's honestly the most coldly logical assessment of Trump's fuckery as you could get. You could almost picture Trump being dragged off in cuffs like at the end of a Scooby-Doo episode, calling back, "And I would have gotten away with it, too, if it weren't for that meddling virus!" Because COVID-19 deaths cannot be happy-talked into non-existence. Because long-term damage to the victims and to the economy will not go away "like a miracle." We are an open wound right now. Biden wants us to heal. 

And I loved how Harris took back the notion of family from the formerly "Family Values" party. Family isn't just your parents and siblings, she said. "Family is my best friend, my nieces and my godchildren. Family is my uncles, my aunts—my chitthis. Family is Mrs. Shelton—my second mother who lived two doors down and helped raise me. Family is my beloved Alpha Kappa Alpha...our Divine 9...and my HBCU brothers and sisters. Family is the friends I turned to when my mother—the most important person in my life—passed away from cancer." That expansive definition of families, one not held to the narrow, isolating, alienating world view that conservatives propagate. If your family includes all of those people, then you're gonna give a fuck when they are hurting, too.

When Republicans and the right-wing commentariat declared that Biden and Harris and the whole DNC were "angry" or presenting a "dark" perspective on the nation, it's bullshit because they weren't angry at the United States. They were angry at how dark Trump and the GOP have made the country. It would be ludicrous not to be angry, and the whole thing could have been 100 times angrier and still not approached the level of anger that the bastards deserve.

Because the implication of the showing of empathy is that Trump treats us with antipathy, the implication of the fostering of decency is that Trump is indecent, and the implication of the return of sanity is that Trump is insane. 

Essentially, Biden and Harris are promising that we can take one fucking terrible thing off the table: the thought that our government is actively, intentionally harming us just for shits and giggles. And then we can work to actually make things better. At this point, goddamn, that's enough.


Obama Tells Us We're in Danger and We Better Fucking Act Like We Are

(I'm gonna talk about Kamala Harris's speech tomorrow, along with Joe Biden's.)

One thing I've appreciated about the Democratic National Convention this year is that the party has essentially stopped begging for the votes of white working class idiots who voted for Trump. Sure, sure, there have been the (retired) Republican politicians endorsing Joe Biden and the Republican voters who won't vote for Trump. But those have been more along the lines of how they're like us, not how we're like them. In other words, you gotta get on board with the gun control and the LGBTQ rights and fair treatment of immigrants and being pro-choice and dealing with climate change and providing health care. No one is crawling to appeal to the shitheels, fucknuts, and ignoramuses who are going to vote for Trump.

Instead, the real appeal has been to those who are thinking of not voting at all (whether for ideological or other reasons). We heard again and again last night, from Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren, that sitting on the sidelines is a bullshit position. "Vote like our lives and livelihoods are on the line, because they are," Clinton said, and if it's not for your life, vote for the lives of people who will suffer under more Trump.

And most forcefully, and most shockingly, we heard from Barack Obama how fucked up shit is under Trump and how much more fucked up shit will get if Trump is re-elected. Like Michelle Obama scaring the shit out of us on Monday, the fact that President Cool Guy, Mister Hope and Change himself, is saying things like "This administration has shown it will tear our democracy down if that’s what it takes for them to win" is downright terrifying. All I can think about is the access he has to information that we don't know and the shit he must have seen, even beyond the distressing daily fuckery, to make him break an unspoken protocol in modern times that ex-presidents don't flat-out attack sitting presidents. 

But more than any previous president, Obama deserves the right to come at Trump. President Fucko the Buffoon lies on a daily basis about Obama's accomplishments, whether it's shitting on the smooth-running economy that Trump inherited (and claims was in shambles, which is demonstrably, factually false) or taking credit for the passage of the Veterans Choice Program (which was signed into law in 2014, when Trump was conspicuously not president) or making up a fictional tale about Obama ordering "spying" on the Trump campaign (when it was the Justice Department concerned because Paul Manafort and others...you know what? Fuck it. Either you know it or you don't). 

So Obama put it out there, talking to us like he's still president, saying that we're in fucking danger and we better fucking well act like we are. "Donald Trump hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t, and the consequences of that failure are severe," he said. "170,000 Americans dead. Millions of jobs, gone, while those at the top taking more than ever. Our worst impulses unleashed, our proud reputation around the world badly diminished, and our democratic institutions threatened like never before." And that's now. Imagine the devolution of the nation in another four years. Fuck, I can't even imagine there will be a nation as we know it in another four years if we have another Trumpering.

To show how bugfuck insane things have gotten, Obama rattled off what Biden and Harris believe in, like the right to vote, the president isn't above the law, the press is necessary, and "our ability to work together to solve big problems like a pandemic depend on a fidelity to facts and science and logic and not just making stuff up." This is basic, everyday shit that we used to all at least have a tacit agreement on, but now that's thrown out the window, along with empathy and decency, the return of which is the overarching theme of this DNC. It had to be hard as hell not to give in to despair and fear for Obama. 

It's not just that there was real fear in Obama's eyes and real concern in his voice. There was a barely contained rage, as if he was saying, "Don't be stupid. Don't be lazy or discouraged. Don't crawl up your own ass because you didn't get the candidate you want. Don't be selfish dicks. And don't let the motherfuckers prevent you from voting." That message, the power of the vote, is one that he returned to again and again, telling us about GOP efforts to suppress the vote, "That is how they win. That is how they get to keep making decisions that affect your life and the lives of the people you love. That’s how the economy will keep getting skewed to the wealthy and well-connected. How our health systems will let more people fall through the cracks. That’s how a democracy withers until it’s no democracy at all." And, goddamn, he knows that from the utter failure of Democrats to show up for the 2010 and 2014 midterms so that the warped and racist Tea Party narrative could have such power. 

Look, I've been watching and writing about politics since Reagan. I have never seen a president tell us in such stark terms that we're hanging by a thread. And that it came from the man we used to call "No-Drama Obama"? That should punch all of us in the gut. Gird yer loins and vote for your life, for all our lives, motherfuckers. Shit's gonna get crazy.


Guest Writer: A Back-to-School Letter from Your Boss

(This is a guest post from an anonymous professor at a red state university. He says, "This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual actions by actual college administrators is purely accidental," although, you know, many of us I think can recognize much of this.)

Hello, I am President Pillford, your boss. But in these unprecedented informal times, you can just call me Prez or you might call me Pill, because I'm gonna make you take a big one. What? When the boss wants to be your bro, is it a little too “eww” for you? Too bad. I have already seen you work from your bedroom on Zoom, so informal is what you get. Talk about "eww." Or, if you are a student, I am just the Prez, but most of you will know me like a distant uncle who tries to talk to the kids about that Billie Eilish. Boy, isn't she the dopest?

The purpose of this email is to tell you how excited and enthusiastic I am about opening our college campus to thousands of students and hundreds of faculty in the middle of a global pandemic that has killed over 170,000 Americans. Even though we know the risk, we are so pumped to do this anyways, because how else are we gonna get all those tuition dollars, plus all those hidden fees and more fees. Not to mention those sweet housing and food service bucks. What? You're not enthusiastic about reopening? Where is your school spirit? Don’t you believe in capitalism...I mean, "education"?

Now I have said it before, and I will say it again, and then I'll say it one more time in case you didn't believe me: Your Safety Comes First. Your health and safety are our top priority. Forget all those "epidemiologists" and medical scientists and "doctors" who claim they know that some of our faculty, students, and staff are going to get sick or even die. Won't you sleep well at night knowing that our students are getting a non-refundable education, even if we close campus two weeks after opening? I know I will. 

Because I know you still have lots of questions and my sunny emails and videos always say the same exact thing, just with different words, we have provided a special link to our reopening plan, which includes all the details about sort-of-virtual, sort-of-in-person, sort-of-hybrid class delivery, PPE, hand sanitizer, ventilation in all those closed spaces that we can't afford to remediate right now, and social distancing. That’s right. We are going to practice social distancing in a social environment where everybody with a brain and a cold beer knows that social distancing is inherently impossible. They say it can't be done? I say you don't know until you can see for yourself that it can't be done and then still do it.

Now just in case you think I came up with our "School Is Not Hell" return-to-campus program on my own, lots of caring faculty have helped develop this plan that was subject solely to my approval. But they care. When I ask them to be on committees like this, they care about losing their jobs. When they teach, they care. When students and their colleagues get sick or die, they care. And isn't caring enough? Yes, it is. 

As for the staff, unlike the professors who have some leeway to work virtually because there are actually laws that force me to allow it, we are making the staff come to work no matter what. Unless they are sick with COVID, their underpaid asses are going to be here, on campus, to answer all your legitimate questions about what-the-fuck-were-we-thinking-anyways. Yeah, I know we said we put safety first, but that doesn’t apply to staff, and, no, we don’t really care about your anxiety, depression, and PTSD that comes from us making you come to work during a pandemic that might kill you. You have to be firm with staff or they never learn.

Before I finish this obligatory email that most of you will delete before finishing, let me just say how grateful I am to the students who chose to attend another semester here at F U. For the rest of you, God won’t give me the words for how much I appreciate your silent assent that this in-person semester is what you need and it’s not about my half-a-million salary that the Board of Trustees was fool enough to renew, even as we make budget cuts across campus, resulting in numerous program eliminations and staff terminations. You don’t want to hear about that sad news when I can stuff your inbox with more powerful positivity about the power of learning in person, even if every bit of common sense and experience is screaming at us that we should all be online. But I know we're tougher than those snowflake smartypants PC schools in the blue states.

Let me say this again in case you forgot: Your Safety Comes First. Some deans and faculty and our fifty-three vice presidents are working tirelessly to make sure you believe that. They are working day and night and on weekends. We call these excessive hours "kicking the semester into overdrive." "Overdrive" is just like overtime, but we don’t pay for it. To be clear, as tenured, salaried professionals, you don’t qualify for overtime. You should just be overjoyed that you get to contribute so much of your time to the university.

Now some of our colleagues who have stood by my side through our previous crises that we learned nothing from will not like me "keeping it real." But I decided I owe you, my treasured faculty and administrators, this level of honesty and truth. It's all I think you deserve. 

To close, welcome back and welcome home. We want it to feel like heaven, but we know it is more like hell. If you work here or have already paid the tuition bill, you can log off, but you can never leave. Go team! 


Michelle Obama Scared the Hell Out of Us (For Good Reasons)

As inspirational and aspirational as former First Lady and current media superstar Michelle Obama's keynote speech on the first night of the Democratic National (Virtual) Convention was, what hit me hard was just how downright frightening it was. See, Obama is as level-headed, rational, and non-hyperbolic as anyone in public life, so if she's telling us that shit is scary out there, shit is definitely scary. The overriding message was, to quote Geena Davis in The Fly, "Be afraid. Be very afraid," with the addition of "And you better fucking well vote like you're afraid." Honestly, I was frightened of the possible dystopian Trumpian future. Now, I'm pissing myself in fear. 

What was also remarkable was how Obama went straight for Trump's jugular with attacks on his easily-bruised ego, delivered in a calm yet impassioned voice. Calling out people who chose not to vote in 2016, she said, "Whatever the reason, in the end, those choices sent someone to the Oval Office who lost the national popular vote by nearly 3,000,000 votes," following up that uppercut to the gut with a knee to the face: "In one of the states that determined the outcome, the winning margin averaged out to just two votes per precinct — two votes." You barely won, Obama is telling Trump, puncturing the whole myth of the great and mighty victory that Trump has touted for four years. When Michelle Obama is out of fucks to give, the national fuck tank is empty. 

When Obama said the brutal and much-quoted part of the speech, "Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country. He has had more than enough time to prove that he can do the job, but he is clearly in over his head. He cannot meet this moment. He simply cannot be who we need him to be for us. It is what it is," she framed it in terms of her "When they go low, we go high" dictum. Essentially, the speech was less a corollary to that and more a clarification: "[G]oing high means unlocking the shackles of lies and mistrust with the only thing that can truly set us free: the cold, hard truth. So let me be as honest and clear as I possibly can."

Again, while certainly not silent, Michelle Obama has steadfastly stayed above the fray. But even she recognizes that this path is unsustainable, that if the United States is going to stay, well, united, even by the frayed threads that barely hold us together now, we need to vote, as in all of us, including you motherfuckers on whatever side who want to sit out an election because your ideology hasn't been 100% validated by the Biden/Harris ticket. Your house is on fire. You can grab a bucket or watch it burn. 

Yesterday, in another nonsensical screaming narcissism session, this time in Mankato, Minnesota, Trump himself was giving the mirror image of Obama's speech. "We’re going to have an election that’s all about the survival, our nation," he said, later adding, drama queenly, about New York City in particular, "Our beautiful diamond of this country has been let go to hell."  He ranted about how quite moderate Joe Biden was going to be a puppet of some imaginary extreme left who "will kill the stock market, he will kill everything that we’re talking about today. He’d also abolish immigration enforcement, abolish bail, abolish the suburbs, abolish effective policing, abolish American energy, and abolish the American way of life." 

The only way Trump can win is by cheating or by convincing enough idiots that, sure, everything is shit now, but, wow, would it be shitty with the Democrats in charge. 

Of course, Trump doesn't see anything as shitty. He sees it all, all the deaths and poverty and rising hunger and homelessness, as magnificent and he's magnificent and no one but he could have made it all so magnificent and even those things that were doing well before him certainly don't count, like the economy he brags on, the pre-pandemic success of which had everything to do with President Obama and very little to do with Trump. 

But as Michelle Obama pointed out, Trump didn't just squander her husband's legacy. He chewed it up, shit it out, and then told everyone how awesome his shit is. She said, "When my husband left office with Joe Biden at his side, we had a record-breaking stretch of job creation. We’d secured the right to health care for 20,000,000 people. We were respected around the world, rallying our allies to confront climate change. " And Trump just decided to fuck all that up for the sake of rage and envy. 

There is no sitting on the sidelines. Like Michelle Obama, I've seen the devolution of the Republican Party that started with Ronald Reagan (yes, you can argue it started with Nixon). I've seen how Reagan and H.W. Bush fucked shit up and Clinton corrected it, to a degree. I've seen how W. Bush fucked shit up even worse and Obama corrected it, to an even greater degree. A lot of us know of what we speak when we say that shit is really, really fucked up and that, yeah, more than usual, this is an existential crisis right now. 

I loved Obama's near-last line. "We have got to reassert our place in American history," she said. Yep. It's time to take the narrative back from the motherfuckers. Again. 


Kamala Harris Will Hurt Trump and Pence and That's What We Need

Last week, I said on Twitter that I wanted Sen. Kamala Harris to be Joe Biden's pick for a running mate because I wanted her out there for the next couple of months prosecuting Donald Trump's administration in the public space. Several responses were along the lines of "No, fuck you, she should be attorney general, dick, so that my favorite Democrat can be VP!" 

There are a few reasons I thought Harris-as-AG was a dumb idea. First, no Attorney General has ever gone on to become president. (Robert Kennedy may have, but, well, we'll never know.) And Harris obviously is eyeing the presidency down the road. More importantly, though, is that, as Biden's vice presidential nominee, she will have an incredibly high profile, and in a media environment that too often ignores Democrats and especially Democratic women, she can go out every day and make Donald Trump and Mike Pence cry and it will have to be covered. That will shake some shit up.

I hear every complaint about Harris, and, in another time, it might be enough for me to get upset about it and question Biden's judgment or get angry at the marginalization of the true left of the Democratic Party or whatever, but, sorry, no, fuck that. "Kamala is a cop," you say? Well, she's not and never has been, and I've got a stack of bodies that'll be topping 200,000 that makes me just not give a shit about the questionable aspects of Harris's record as Attorney General of California. Did she ignore a pandemic and cause the economy to crash and refuse to do anything to help while people died, starved, and lost their homes? No? Then who the fuck cares. (And she's been very strong on the environment, violence against women, financial exploitation of the poor, and more, along with being anti-death penalty, so let's just say there's more than enough to mitigate other shit. She's way more progressive than the more-liberal-than-thou gatekeepers say.)

Besides, there are a shit-ton of truly liberal Democratic candidates running at all levels, from school board on up to U.S. Senate. Get behind them and get them elected. That's what will move the whole party to the left. Look at someone like Cameron Webb, running for Congress in Virginia, and who has a chance to pick up a GOP seat. You can use that amazing lefty energy to have a long-term effect on the Democratic Party.

In her speech today at the event where Biden introduced her as his running mate, Harris went right at Trump, laying the failure of this nation to combat the coronavirus right at his wobbly feet. "The case against Mike Pence and Donald Trump is open and shut," she offered before listing the utter failures of this failed group of failures failing us every day, finally coming back to the response to COVID-19. "When other countries are following the science, Trump pushed miracle cures he saw on Fox News." What was doubly awesome about that remark is that the speech was being broadcast on Fox "news," who finally got a small taste of what it's like when Trump screeches, "Fake news!" at CNN.

In perhaps the most cutting moment, Harris said that Trump "inherited the longest economic expansion in history from Barack Obama and Joe Biden, and then, like everything else he inherited, he ran it straight into the ground." That is some hardcore, go-for-the-jugular shit right there. It attacks the entire mythos of Donald Trump as a Successful Businessman when he is a rank loser who couldn't have done a goddamn thing without his daddy's money and still fucked it all up. And she did it with a calm, rational voice, not like the ranting hysterics of the man she's slicing and dicing.

You can tell that Trump is shitting himself over Harris because she is everything that he has feared his entire life: a strong Black woman straight from Central Casting who won't take shit and who will get high ratings every time she kicks him in his voluminous ass. He's gotta desperately play all the tropes, from the racist "angry" Black person to the woman who is "nasty" and "mean," which means not subservient to men like Trump. Shit, they're even rebooting the Willie Horton ads from 1988. What the hell else is he gonna do but break out the hits like this is still the 1980s and the suburbs are still a generic white paradise and aren't filled with middle-class people of all races who support things like Black Lives Matter and think Trump is an obscenity? 

The Trump campaign is caught on Harris between trying to rile up the left with the aforementioned issues and calling her a "radical" who "has abandoned her own morals in an attempt to appease the socialist mob seeking to destroy America. Biden and Harris' disastrous proposals of defunding the police, increased taxes, job-killing policies, and opening our borders are just a few of the many ways they would destroy America." All you can say to Trump is "Motherfucker, you already destroyed America. You burned this shit down. Why would we re-elect you so you can piss on the ashes?"

Today, Biden and Harris offered more sympathy for families and loved ones of the Americans who have died of coronavirus than Trump has offered since the pandemic hit this country. They offered more hope in the form of realistically looking at the crises that Trump has created than in all the bullshit, pointless, delusional happy talk from the president and his administration. And Harris and Biden and their staffs look more like America than the KKK meeting that shows up at every Trump event.

Harris can prosecute the case against Trump and Pence starting now, and that's perfect. She can hurt them over and over.  She can do it with confidence and charisma and cold, hard facts. We need that. We need them wounded again and again. We need Americans to feel ashamed to vote for these GOP dickscabs. That's why we need Harris now, not later as attorney general. When she's elected, Harris can lead a commission that exposes all their crimes. In fact, having her as vice president would help assure that Biden doesn't let it all slide just to move forward, as he and Obama did with the Bush administration's crimes. Harris the prosecutor knows that you can't let that shit go unpunished.

Yeah, the choice of Harris was entirely expected and not remotely surprising, and, goddamn, it felt good to have something go the way it's supposed to go. That can be really fucking energizing and get you ready for what's next. It makes you feel like "Yeah, maybe we can do this."


The Real Trick Behind Trump's Executive Actions: Pass the Buck

If there is one thing that is consistent about President Donald Trump, who is really just a brain-damaged hog whose squeals can only be understood by other brain-damaged pigs, it's that he refuses to take blame whenever he's wrong. It's not that he never apologizes, like the world's shittiest tween, but he also works mightily to make sure someone else is to blame for his transgressions, his crimes, and his evil (yet dumb) schemes. 

And his most typical move is to find someone else to blame and belligerently push that idea until he or everyone else moves on. For instance, take the lack of a national response to the coronavirus crisis. We know from the Washington Post and elsewhere that Trump didn't want a national, coordinated plan because he was shit-his-Depends scared that he would get blamed for the deaths and misery. It shows how out of touch with reality he is that he thinks he could possibly escape blame. But I suppose the only Americans who count to him are those in MAGAstan, where they are already melting their wedding rings into molten gold so they can create a monument to Trump in his normal color. 

When it comes to the executive order and memoranda about payroll taxes, the unemployment bonus that's run out, student loan payments, and foreclosures/evictions that Trump signed after talks between the White House and Democrats broke down a few days ago, what at first seemed like, depending on your perspective, an outrageous undermining of the separation of powers in the Constitution or a courageous leader taking a stand for struggling workers, turns out to be just another case of this pampered pussy passing the buck and creating a way to blame others. It's bullshit, it's smoke and mirrors, and it's fucking enraging that dickhead conservatives are praising him for them.

For instance, in the memorandum on the unemployment bonus, Trump lays the program at the feet of the governors. First, he's saying, "I am calling on States to use amounts allocated to them out of the CRF [Coronavirus Relief Fund], or other State funding, to provide temporary enhanced financial support to those whose jobs or wages have been adversely affected by COVID-19." So use the meager funding you were given but maybe haven't spent yet now on something you hadn't budgeted for and if you don't do it, then your state's unemployed won't get the bonus money, which, by the way, we're reducing, so fuck your tax revenue, too. A governor has to agree to administer this program, which is something outside of regular unemployment and thus a new system has to be created, which will take months to get up and running, and agree to give 25% of the bonus funds, or go fuck yourself. 

See? When this whole bullshit promise to give those struggling help to put food on the table or to pay their rent (and who will still face eviction because whatever the fuck that executive order on evictions does, it sure as fuck doesn't prevent them from happening), Trump can say, hey, look at the governors, they did it. And I can fuckin' guarantee that they'll find a way to make sure the program works in Texas while not in Virginia, which has a Democratic governor. So not only does Trump not want to give more money for struggling states, he wants them to pony up. Hell, there are mob bosses who would think that's a dirty protection racket.

The same kind of thing goes for the double bullshit of the correctly named "Memorandum on Deferring Payroll Tax Obligations." It not only does dick for the unemployed, but, as it says right there, it's just a deferral of the tax. Someone's gotta pay it or fuck your Social Security and Medicare. So you'll pay it at the end of the year. Trump promises that he'll make the deferral permanent if he's reelected, which will fuck Social Security and Medicare to death, which was the plan all along. The goddamn thing is such a legal clusterfuck for businesses, which are obligated to take the taxes out, that most will probably just say, "Oh, fuck this" and not do it, and, voila, another group for Trump to blame for problems that his incompetence, buffoonery, and evil caused.

It's all an illusion, a lie, a trick. "Look over there while I pull this destruction of the social safety net out of  a hat." But, hey, the postponing of student loan payments doesn't suck.

That's the way this shit goes with this toad of a human, this nadir of the presidents. The buck stops anywhere but with Mr. "I Take No Responsibility." Everything's a hoax. Everything exists to help him or hurt him. He's says he's an innocent victim of a cruel world when he's the cruelty itself in an orange shitsack. 

By the way, if you wanna see just how pathetic a worm Trump is, read the executive order on evictions. Here's the first sentence: "The 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which originated in the People’s Republic of China, continues to pose a significant threat to the health of Americans throughout the United States." 

Come for the desperate buck-passing. Stay for the self-fellatio: "As we have since January 2020, with the proactive decision to limit travel from China and the passage of three massive economic relief packages, my Administration will take whatever steps are necessary to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and maintain economic prosperity." 

He doesn't mention, as you might imagine, that Congress passed those economic relief packages. Because taking credit for the work of others is the yang to his blame others yin.


Another Week, Another Batshit Trump Interview

Everyone's got their line that pushed them over the edge from President Donald Trump's interview with Jonathan Swan of Axios (motto: "When USA Today is too complex, you've got Axios"). Mine occurred when Swan asked Trump about why he didn't bother to ask Russian dictator Vladimir Putin about the reports that Putin had put a bounty on the heads of American soldiers in Afghanistan. Trump could have shimmied his hands around as he answered, "Well, he's my dom and when master tells me not to ask questions, I can't ask questions or he spanks my ass with the splintery switch." That would have made sense. I could have thought, "Well, I guess he's gotta do what a sub's gotta do. No one wants splinters in their ass. I assume. Better google that later." (Note: Of course there are people who want splinters in their ass.)

Instead, Trump harrumphed around the idea that the intelligence was real and then said that his recent call with Putin was about "nuclear proliferation." Trump said, "If we can do something with Russia in terms of nuclear proliferation, which is a very big problem...A much bigger problem than global warming in terms of the real world, that would be a great thing."

Putting aside that it's Trump who is allowing the New START treaty to expire and could extend it for five years with no difficulty at all, only someone whose brain, such as it is, is stuck around 1980 could actually say that nuclear weapons, in 2020, are anything approaching the shit-inducing threat that the growing fuckstorm of climate change poses. It's like Trump just saw The Day After, and he's thinking about how he might get stuck in a bunker with Melania and that kid she always has with her. In terms of the real real world, not the fake real world that Trump has forced us all to live in like that demented telepathic little shit on that Twilight Zone episode, climate change is the massive problem that Trump and the GOP insist on denying, like, you know, they did with the coronavirus pandemic, and that's worked out so fucking well.

This was how the whole thing went. There was Trump bumblefucking through every lie and delusion. There was the sociopathic denial of any hint of human empathy despite, as Greg Mitchell points out, the many chances that Swan gave Trump to show that he gives a jolly pig fuck about anyone other than himself. Swan's face multiple times looked like he was seriously worried if he was going to get out of the interview unharmed. He confronted Trump again and again with facts, but Trump would wave them off like someone was offering him a plate of broccoli with his well-done steak, either not acknowledging them or questioning whether it was a fact, like when Trump accused South Korea of lying about its coronavirus cases. 

The most appalling moment wasn't Trump's blithe dismissal of the over 150,000 dead from his seemingly proud refusal to act on COVID-19, given the now forever carved on his political tombstone "It is what it is." No, for me, it was that he obviously has no idea about anything to do with American history. I mean, we knew that, but it's always just pathetic when we see him flunk basic shit again and again. First, Trump had no idea who John Lewis was beyond the transactional, "the fuck he ever do for me" basis by which he measures everyone. Seriously, check out this exchange: 

Swan:  John Lewis is lying in state in the U.S. Capitol. How do you think history will remember John Lewis?

Trump: I don’t know. I really don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know John Lewis. He chose not to come to my inauguration. He chose… I never met John Lewis, actually, I don’t believe.

Swan: Do you find him impressive?

Trump: I can’t say one or the other. I find a lot of people impressive. I find many people not impressive. But no, but I didn’t go-

Swan: Do you find his story impressive?

Trump: He didn’t come to my inauguration. He didn’t come to my State of the Union speeches, and that’s okay. That’s his right. 

That's the shit you say when you don't know something. While everyone is praising Swan for simply doing real interviewing (which, admittedly, is tough to do with an Adderall-snorting, syphilitic hog beast), he should have asked Trump, "Do you know anything else at all about John Lewis? Do you even know what the Edmund Pettus Bridge is?"

But prior to that was just Trump's blatantly racist, insidious fucking attempt to assfuck American history until it is contorted around his deformed goddamned image. Trump was once again lying about how "I did more for the Black community than anybody with the possible exception of Abraham Lincoln, whether you like it or not," and Swan asked him: 

Swan: You really believe you did more than Lyndon Johnson who passed the Civil Rights Act?

Trump: I think I did, yeah.

Swan: How? How possibly did you-

Trump: Because I got criminal justice reform done, I got prison reform-

Swan: Lyndon Johnson-

Trump: I’ve done things. Well-

Swan: He passed the Civil Rights Act.

Trump: Ask. Ask. How has it worked out? If you take a look at what Lyndon Johnson did?

Swan: You think the Civil Rights Act was a mistake?

Trump: How has it worked out? 

There's so much to say here that it's almost impossible to articulate it. First, Trump has no fucking clue what's in the 1964 Civil Rights Act, let alone the Voting Rights Act or the 1968 Civil Rights Act, all signed by LBJ (although he might know the last one since it prohibited the very race discrimination in housing that he and his shitbird father engaged in). More importantly, Trump looks at his minor adjustments in laws as huge triumphs, not giving a damn that whatever African Americans have accomplished during his presidency comes from a long fuckin' line of struggles and triumphs involving more presidents than just him. But as far as Trump is concerned, African American history goes from Lincoln freeing the slaves, which he allows is possibly more important than Opportunity Zones, to him.

In a rational nation, this kind of embarrassing stupidity in a leader would cause an upheaval that would force them to run for freedom before the pitchforks and torches caught up with them. And while those of us who already despise Trump more than the dictionary has words to express are justifiably nauseated by the interview, in MAGA world, this was Trump just givin' it to the fake news who were trying to set him up to fail. 

You have to choose your reality in this America. And there are still tens of millions of people who want to live in the one filtered through Donald Trump's anus-mouth. Fuck them.