Speaker of the House Mike Johnson Hates Nearly All of Us

Liquor laws in Louisiana are a clusterfuck. Because of a state supreme court decision decades ago, they are subject to the whims of a community vote whenever someone can get it on the ballot. So a town can allow alcohol sales in, say, restaurants for a while and then, whenever some opportunistic Christian dickflea gets enough people itching, they can vote to overturn the law and go back to being a dry town or county. Or, you know, parish, as they call counties in the state because Catholicism. 

The decent-sized, if generally shitty, town of Minden in the generally shitty Webster Parish was dry in 2003. Minden is 30 miles from Shreveport, which is a decent-sized, if generally shitty, city. The economy of Minden was not doing great 20 years ago, so a group of business owners, with the support of the Chamber of Commerce, wanted to have another vote on allowing alcohol sales in restaurants, hoping that it would attract some chains to town or at least provide a new tax revenue stream. Minden had been dry since a vote in 1974, but after a contentious city council meeting in August 2003, it was decided that the restaurant alcohol sales law would be decided in a special election just a couple of months later. 

The people against allowing alcohol sales were straight out of a 1980s movie about tight-ass evangelicals refusing to allow anyone to have fun. Their warnings were like the lyrics of The Music Man song "Ya Got Trouble." According to one local columnist, "They expanded from simply claiming this was a back-door way to bring about bars and package sales to more extreme connections. They alleged this was an 'end-around' to bring sexually oriented businesses, such as strip clubs to Minden. They also pointed out it could be an attempt to bring legalized gambling into Minden." Churches went into overdrive, with prayer services just to try to get their invisible sky wizard to intervene. They even had round-the-clock prayers just before the election date. 

The anti-fun forces, led by five plaintiffs, tried to sue to stop the election, but they filed their lawsuit too late for it to be heard. Their lawyer was a Shreveport attorney who was making a name for himself as a supporter of nutzoid right-wing Christian causes. And since you read the title of this piece, you already know that it was Mike Johnson, who is now Speaker of the House and second in line to the presidency. That's right. Two decades ago, he was trying to stop alcohol sales in a town.

The voting occurred that November and over half the registered voters went out to the polls. That's how much this meant in an off-year election. And, Lord have mercy, they voted 57-43% in favor of alcohol sales in restaurants in Minden. Johnson's clients considered another lawsuit to question the elections results, but they decided against it, and Minden restaurants and now bars and, yes, casinos can serve alcohol. The nearest strip joint is still about 15 miles away, in the next parish over.

For years, Mike Johnson represented the shittiest fucking people in trying to halt others from having rights or enjoying life in a way that harmed no one. As a dick lawyer for the Alliance Defending Freedom (motto: "'Freedom' should probably be in quotation marks in our name"), Johnson was on the fucked up side of issue after issue in our bullshit culture war. He fought the city of New Orleans to stop it from offering domestic partnership benefits in the pre-Obergefell days. The law had been in place since 1999, and they sued in 2003 in a case they lost in 2005. He opposed the Obama abortion pill mandate, he sued in favor of various school prayer cases, and more. When it comes to abortion and LGBTQ rights, Johnson is the hardest of the hardcore opposing both. And when he was a state representative, in the panicked days before the Obergefell same-sex marriage decision in 2015, Johnson sponsored legislation that would allow businesses to refuse to serve same-sex couples and, going back to his earlier case, would allow a business to deny benefits to same-sex couples because of "religious" reasons.

And perhaps it's here that we need to pause for a moment and say that Mike Johnson loves God. His version of God, I mean, since, you know, God is made up. But he fuckin' loves God as intensely and loudly as a newly-out Omaha lesbian loves pussy. He leans Christian dominionist, which is as weird and insidious as it sounds. He says that the United States is a "biblical republic," whatever the fuck that means. He told Sean Hannity, "Someone asked me today in the media, they said people are curious, what does Mike Johnson think about any issue under the sun? I said, Well, go pick up a Bible off your shelf and read it. That's my worldview, that's what I believe." I wonder if that includes all the rules in Leviticus, but I don't want to ask about beard-shaving regimen.

In his speech before being sworn in as Speaker of the House, he said, "I want to tell all my colleagues here what I told the Republicans in that room last night. I don’t believe there are any coincidences in a manner like this. I believe that scripture, the Bible is very clear that God is the one that raises up those in authority. He raised up each of you, all of us, and I believe that God has ordained and allowed each one of us to be brought here for this specific moment in this time."

I know they don't give a shit what heathens like me think, but that shit sounds creepy as fuck. You're telling me that your imaginary invisible sky wizard contorted all time and space and made everything in the universe move in such a way that you could become the leader of one house of the American Congress. That's fucking insane because, see, first, you believe in an invisible sky wizard, and, even worse, you have no problem telling me what your invisible sky wizard is doing and saying, and, even worser, you demand that I follow what your invisible sky wizard says. You can say that there are lots of people who believe in your invisible sky wizard, but that doesn't make it less creepy. In fact, it makes it way creepier. 

While Johnson talks a lot about "consensus" and shit, he sure has spent his career, including trying to overturn the 2020 presidential election, approaching every issue with the clear-eyed resolution of someone who just loves to make shit worse for everyone except those who also hate nearly all of us. It won't be some god who ruins the nation. It'll be a very weird man.

(Quick note about Minden, Louisiana: It sucks as a town. But, man, there are awesome soul food joints there.)


Jim Jordan's Combover Can't Hide the Truth About Who He Is

It's one of those questions you get when you're a man and men around you are going bald: Would you ever do a combover? The question is usually phrased with a sarcastic tone, as in, "You're not so pathetic and insecure that you'd do something so fucking dumb if you started to go bald, would you?" And, of course, my answer is that should the day come when these lustrous locks finally thin to the point of scalp exposure, there's no way I'd do a combover. It looks awful and it's a lie. 

See, the combover is the hairstyle where you let the hair on one side of your head grow long enough to be combed over the baldness like hay on a barn floor. While most men who do it leave the hair flat and dead and plastered over the skin, occasionally you have someone like Donald Trump, who does some elaborate bouffant like a pampered, preening prince at Versailles or something. But most don't have time or stylists to create that kind of luxuriant obscenity. For most, it's just a combover. It's supposed to make it look like you have a full head of hair, but you just look like a jackass because everyone knows you're lying. You're trying to pretend that time isn't having its way with you like it inevitably does with everyone, so you fake it. 

I've got a natural prejudice against men with combovers. I find them suspicious and more than a little creepy, and I just feel pity and revulsion at the same time. You can say I'm coiffure-shaming, but I don't fuckin' care. They chose to do this. They looked in the mirror and said, "I would rather my head look like the center of a crop circle than allow people to think I'm going bald." On an objective level, that's hilarious and sad. 

Ohio Republican and multiple-humiliated nominee for Speaker of the House of Representatives, Congressman Jim Jordan, has the kind of combover that looks plastered down with spit and desperation. It's the sort of style that you associate with a third-shift Perkins manager or the last vacuum cleaner salesman at a soon-to-be closed mall Sears. On its best days, Jim Jordan's combover befits a paunchy used car salesman or a community theatre actor playing Shelley Levene in Glengarry Glen Ross. His hair is absurd, as absurd as his look of faded blue shirts and yellow ties, worn without a dress jacket as if that makes him more a man-of-the-people instead of a lost soul who thinks he can parlay his proximity to Trump into more power than a person like him has any right to have. That he failed so quickly and so spectacularly speaks to the unexpected existence of the last bare germs of self-respect that a scattered few Republicans still possess, that they would rather vomit the Congress into chaos than put their future in the sticky hands of Jim Jordan.

Like the purpose of his combover, Jim Jordan was hoping he could hide reality enough to fool enough Republicans or at least allow them to let their guard down for a moment. He wasn't an insurrectionist who sought to overturn the 2020 election of Joe Biden as president. He was merely someone who believes there were "all kinds of problems" and he just forwarded a letter about it to the proper authorities. He certainly isn't the same asshole who totally supported government shutdowns in 2013 and 2018. Oh, no. He's the man with a [bullshit, unworkable] plan to avert a shutdown in November. And he's certainly not the coach who looked the other way while student wrestlers at Ohio State told him that the team doctor was sexually abusing them. He's got nothing to worry about from the forthcoming HBO documentary about that doctor.

And if you believe any of that, you believe that Jim Jordan has a full head of silky hair and is not trying to hide just how exposed his scalp is. 

Possibly the greatest fucking cosmic joke in Jordan's failure is that the dumb bastard thought he could Trump his way into the speakership. Hell, he was endorsed by Donald Trump, and, to his deranged thinking, that should have put him over the top because, obviously, pleasing Trump is still the only thing that matters to Republicans. So Jordan not only bullied members of his own caucus, but he did virtually nothing except make a milquetoast plea to stop the death threats and other threatening calls and messages that flooded  the phones and emails of those who voted against him and their families. All that did was piss them off because no one really likes Jordan. That's so obvious when you see other members of Congress around him. No one looks like they're enjoying their time smelling his tuna breath and his flop sweat armpits under his polyester shirts. Motherfucker, put on a jacket and spray some Febreze. 

In his pathetic whine of a news conference on Friday, Jordan attempted to make some strange comparison between his fight for the Speaker's job and the advancement in flight from the Wright brothers to Chuck Yeager, like failure leads to accomplishment. It was total cringe. Interesting fact, though. Neither Orville nor Wilbur Wright hid their baldness under a combover. Neither did Yeager. Maybe being honest about who you are is the first step to real success, or else you simply keep failing until you bumblefuck into oblivion. 


I Locked Myself Out of Twitterx and Now Live on Threads, Which Shockingly Does Not Suck

Higher than I should have been after an extra mango- "flavored" gummy, I went on the Twitterx a couple of weeks ago. A few people I trusted were warning of the joint's imminent collapse, so I thought, "Okay, fuck it. I'll download my tweets," which is a thing you can do. I had to enter my password, which I thought I knew, but, apparently, I did not and had not saved anywhere. "Fuck it," stoned brain said again. "I'll reset the password." But, see, because another time a few people I trusted said I should do 2-factor authentication so I had set that up, I needed to enter my super-secret code I had gotten by linking Google Authenticator (or whatever the fuck it's called) to Twitterx. 

I entered that code, which I had saved, except I guess that I hadn't because it didn't work. "Fuck it," my now aggravated and stoned brain said. "Get a new code," which should have been easy because the app for authenticating had been linked to Twitterx, as I already fucking explained. So I opened the iPhone and Google Authenticator decided to update. And by updating it reset itself and fucked off with my connection to my Twitterx account and now I couldn't get a new code and I couldn't get into Twitterx because I had started the process of resetting my password and I couldn't back out of it once I was at the second factor stage and god fucking damnit, I hate everything. 

My timing was perfect because it was right when I wanted to do all kinds of promotional shit for the 20th anniversary of this here blog.

"Fuck it," I thought one more time. "I'll click on Support." And I did. And I described my situation. And I got an email saying they would get back to me in a few days or maybe a little longer and I've emailed every few days to say, "What the fuck, Elon?" except politely because Elon's a little overly sensitive about that kind of shit and, well, he's the overlord, right? 

"Fuck it," I thought for the last time. "I'll just start using Zuckerberg's Twitter thing, Threads." And I have. And it doesn't suck. It's still working on its place in the social media food chain, especially when it comes to breaking news, and it needs direct messaging (I don't give a shit about hashtags or trending topics). No, I don't feel like I have what little reach I have on Twitterx, but the engagement is pretty awesome. The biggest bonus is I don't have to cringe every time I post something because of how fucked up the billionaire owner is. Zuckerberg doesn't hang out and support Nazis, and he seems to have discovered how great it is to get laid regularly and workout and is letting the actual experts work on shit. 

So if Elon's remaining sad drone workers ever get around to unlocking my Twitterx account, I don't know what I'll do. I may go back to using it like a meth addict finding himself at the Sudafed factory. Or I may just tell everyone to come over to my new place.

But it sucks that I can't post this on Twitterx.

Bonus fun that seems ominous for anyone ever getting back to me: The company that is allegedly called "X" still signs its support emails "Twitter." 


We're All Just Watching the Wheels Fall Off the GOP Clown Car

Watching the wheels come off a clown car has its charms, teetering as it does on that tightrope between hilarious and terrifying. It's hilarious because, c'mon, it's a bunch of clowns and you're watching those painted dopes as they get flung around like a dog toy in the teeth of a particularly enthusiastic pit bull, screaming, clawing at each other as they to try to position themselves to not fling out of the car as it flips over and over, wondering why the hell so many of them shoved their way into the vehicle in the first place. Of course, screaming clowns are terrifying in and of themselves, but you kind of feel like they deserve it. Fucking clowns. 

Obviously, it's a completely different story once the clown car comes to a halt, the road coated with a viscous sheen of clown guts and greasepaint and motor oil, stray disembodied feet in giant shoes and red noses, real and rubber, scattered about, and arteries spurting briefly like a gag flower on wide lapel. So many dead and disemboweled clowns. Someone's gotta clean up that mess. I mean, you can't just leave it there. It'll block the road, maybe cause more accidents, freak out the kids. For every pie flung in someone's face, there's someone else whose job is to mop up the pie that hit the floor. For every clown car disaster, someone else has to break out the shovels and scrapers and hoses and get that gore gone.

Sure, it's kind of amazing to watch as the Republican Party is in the midst of its inevitable crash. We're in the slow-motion wreck part of the arc of this story. It's the kind of self-immolation that you usually see in overly-literal protesters. It's quite a sight. You've got former President and current record-holder for most-indicted president Donald Trump, sitting lumpily at his trial for financial fraud, muttering and making noises like a gassy Charles Manson, as the judge repeatedly has to teach him how to act like a human being. You've got House Republicans now scrambling to see which of the various fucknuts, rape-enablers, or Trump penis koozies they are going to elect to wreck the nation by refusing to act on anything that isn't certifiably insane or blatantly destructive or both. And they might go to political war with each other, which would be a shit fight in a crashing clown car. You've got a passel of pathetic also-rans, bumbling around the country in a desperate attempt to get some traction for campaigns that were over the moment they announced, pinning their dreams on the imprisonment of the indicted original shit-lump, who lumbers wheezily to rally after rally to spout madness to a deliriously, gleefully violent cult of racist zombies, and yet, for some reason, the other non-Christie candidates can't bring themselves to say anything truly negative about Trump. None of this even scratches the surface of all the wanton fuckery Republicans are doing to themselves in their Trump-contorted reality. 

Yeah, it's amusing as fuck to watch it happen. It'd be a fuck of a lot more fun if it wasn't a goddamned threat to all of us not inside the information vacuum MAGA freaks exist in. It's impossible to ignore growing violence and threats of violence from that aforementioned cult, and a leading candidate for president encouraging them to be ready to enjoy nonstop vengeance against their perceived enemies if he gets back into office and maybe to be ready to commit that violence if he doesn't. Meanwhile, the allegedly normal news media seems to give more of a shit about who Joe Biden's fucking dog bit than that the former president keeps saying shoplifters should be executed without trial. 

As I said, the problem with the bloody detritus left behind after the clown car is done being wrecked is that you need to get it out of the way and get the road open again. And that's gonna fall to Democrats because we're the goddamn cleaning crew. With an assist from congressional Democrats,  Clinton cleaned up after Reagan/Bush, Obama cleaned up after Bush, Jr, and Biden cleaned up after Trump. The difference now is that Trump and the Trumpians all crawled out of one wrecked clown car and immediately got into another one and now are making a mess again on the road that Democrats just fucking cleared. (Okay, I might need to let this metaphor go.)

Lemme put this simply: The Republican Party is no longer a legitimate national party. It is beholden to one man without whom most of the people who have supported the party the last few years would go back to crouching in their dirt holes, masturbating to murder porn and sending out anti-Semitic memes. I mean, they still do that now, but they also vote because of Trump. No Trump and no reason to vote. And smart Republicans know this, so that leaves them with a choice: stay on that imploding Trump train until the bitter end and hope you'll survive or jump off and have some goddamn dignity without being re-elected. 

Or maybe there's another possibility, especially for the 18 Republicans in districts that Biden won: join the clean-up crew. Go independent and caucus with Democrats or just outright switch parties. It just take a few to switch control of the House of Representatives. Say you did it because you want to get shit done and you're tired of working with people who ought to be institutionalized. You're sick of Marjorie Taylor Greene's protein drink farts and Jim Jordan's flop sweat smell on his polyester shirts. Who could blame you? Otherwise we're stuck with the screaming clowns until at least January 2025.


20 Years of Rude Punditry: This One's Kind of About You

Possibly the wildest thing is when someone says they have been reading this here blog since the beginning or near the beginning and have been following it for the last 20 years. I'll tell you why:

When I was a kid, my demented fuckin' father, who blessed and cursed me with his skewed, angry perspective on the world, especially his general belief that the wealthy were the enemy, used to get a bunch of newspapers every goddamn day: the Daily Advertiser (from Lafayette, Louisiana, hometown paper), the Baton Rouge Morning Advocate, the New Orleans Times-Picayune, and two Houston papers, the Post and the Chronicle. What this did was give me access to a bunch of the great columnists of the late-ish 20th century, from Mike Royko to Molly Ivins to Jack Anderson to Clarence Page to Ellen Goodman. I was reading Art Buchwald, Jimmy Breslin, and Anna Quindlen, and it wasn't enough for me to read their work in the papers. I'd go back and read books of their gathered older columns, which gave me a way of seeing history and learning how to fuck with people in power. This coincided with my love of Doonesbury, and I got all of Garry Trudeau's earlier books, learning about Nixon and the Vietnam War through the eyes of Mike and Mark and Duke and Joanie and Zonker. I continued this obsessive engorging of perspectives even after my father died when I was 13. I bought the papers myself or went to the library and read them. For years. For decades, in some cases. I found my beliefs by reading the Village Voice and Nat Hentoff, who was a hero of mine for while in his diehard faith in the First Amendment. I expanded to The Nation, Mother Jones, The Progressive, and the American Prospect. I blew the doors of my mind further open. And when I was able to get online, I expanded that to New York Times columnists, to writers who weren't so white and so male, and, one of my personal favorites who you might not know, Mark Morford from the San Francisco papers, whose loose stream-of-consciousness style while still saying the most savage things about political motherfuckers inspired my approach to writing this shit. I honestly cannot list all the writers and commentators who influenced me, and I haven't even mentioned Hunter S. Thompson, let alone the authors and poets and playwrights and comedians who are part of the verbal gumbo I try to cook up.

So when someone says they've read me for years? It's humbling because it puts me, in some small way, in the category of so many of the writers who were my unacknowledged teachers for years. It's fucking amazing. And I may not have gotten or ever get rich enough for my father to have hated from my writing, but it's just fucking cool to have lasted this long and to have fellow travelers along with me. 

As hard as doing this is, even now, when I do it only once a week here and once a week over at the Patreon, along with all the tweets, yes, it is hard, I can unabashedly say that I am grateful for your eyeballs and your brains and for clicking over here, even if it's just every once in a while thinking, "Oh, yeah, I wonder what that asshole is talking about lately." 

If I've helped keep you sane, as many of you tell me, well, shit, that's a life well-lived. I don't think I have 20 more years of this left in me. But let's ride this weird, crazy train as long as we can and see where the track leads us.