18 Quick Takes on 34 Convictions

1. I was at a pub in London when I saw the news that rapist Donald Trump was convicted of 34 felony counts of falsifying business records. A few beers in and sitting with a couple of other Americans, we let out a cheer and an exhale of relief. If I hadn't already been drunk, I'd've gotten drunk because fuck, yeah.

2. No, this isn't the end of anything. But it's a good damn start. I've long said that Trump being found guilty in one case would signal to other juries that he's not untouchable, that he doesn't get away with everything. Let this start a cascade of consequences. 

3. Again, lots of shit can happen before Trump spends a day in prison (including Judge Merchan not sentencing Trump to prison), but, at this point, the system works. A judicial system that seemed incapable of holding Trump to account for crimes actually worked.

4. If regular people can easily understand the complexities of this case and find him guilty, imagine how easy it's gonna be if, say, the Georgia case or the documents case ever go to trial. That shit's simple. If this was Ulysses, the documents case is the fucking Cat in the Hat

5. Give some motherfuckin' respect to Stormy Daniels. She's been put through hell by Trump's goons and his idiot hordes of MAGA fucknuts. She's gonna have to endure that bullshit for the rest of her life. But she sat on that stand and told Trump and his attorney to go fuck themselves. And the jury obviously took a porn star's word over a former president's about whether or not they fucked. Or, more accurately, whether or not Trump fucked her badly.

6. Speaking of Daniels, did Trump have so little juice with NBC that he couldn't have gotten her on The Celebrity Apprentice? Fuckin' Victoria Gotti was a contestant. Daniels wouldn't have been a big swing. Either he was too stupid to realize that he could avoid a whole lot of trouble by casting her or NBC thought he was a little bitch and ignored him. 

7. Michael Cohen is a skeevy son of a bitch and a prick and a half, but he isn't dumb. He wasn't going to lie on the stand again. If anyone involved was a character out of a tragedy, someone worthy of a bit of pity, it was Cohen, who must be relishing this moment with the glee that can only come when you know you're responsible for destroying the person who destroyed you.

8. I'm honestly afraid for Judge Merchan, his family (especially his daughter),  Alvin Bragg, the jurors, and the witnesses because it just takes a couple of Trump's delusional mongrels to get murdery. That's how goddamned low Trump has brought this country.

9. Lemme address the MAGA freaks: have some self-respect, you fucking losers. Go support any of a hundred other Republican dickheads who are as racist and stupid as you are but aren't convicted felons and rapists. Walk the fuck away already.

10. I know you won't because you're such self-hating fucking dumbasses, but I thought I'd suggest it.

11. Seriously, how fucking sorry-ass do you need to be to sit there and think that every single juror, members of the law enforcement, judges, and officials are all in a massive conspiracy, that everything is "rigged," rather than just fucking accepting that the cockscab is a criminal and you've been suckered?

12. Of course, it's also entirely possible they love criminal cockscabs and, well, nothing to be done about that.

13. Yes, let's rub their stupid faces in it. They would have done the same if the verdict had gone differently.

14. As for elected Republicans, don't fucking talk to us about how you're tough on crime when you're going to nominate a convicted felon for president. You're filthy liars and raging hypocrites. Fuck all the way off. And don't fucking talk about how he can appeal. If Joe Biden had been found guilty of speeding, you'd have wanted to impeach him, you craven bitches who are begging for a chance to be Trump's diaper.

15. However...you have a chance here to ditch him. But you won't because you fear the aforementioned fucknuts. 

16. Don't get me started on Trump's attorneys. Try to get paid from that cheap, vengeful twatmite.

17. It's pretty stupid that Trump will likely not be able to vote in the 2024 election but he can run for and be elected president. That's a big damn hole in the law that needs to be fixed. 

18. God, Trump's gonna be a whiny motherfucker for the rest of his life. His imprisonment would give us all a chance to breathe again and recalibrate our sense of the nation and ourselves. 

I'll have more to say after I'm done celebrating this moment while we can celebrate. Now and forever, Donald Trump is the first president convicted of felonies. Let's get drunk, get high, dance madly, orgasm with abandon, and howl at the skies like wild, strong beasts. Enjoy it while we can. We may get to keep this party going, but if it ends, let's have this.


A Poem for Memorial Day

Ten Years Gone

Ten years gone, 19 years old and naive
back flat against red Georgia clay-dirt
which wicks the sweat from my Army P.T. shirt
legs at roughly a 45 degree angle from the ground
hands to my sides, or tucked beneath my back
to protect a sore that had formed over my tailbone
teeth clenched and lightly caked with dust
eyes shut tight to avoid the relentless southern sun
and the frequent streams of sweat that run down my face
into a pool forming at the base of my neck
mind still full of the bullshit one believes
prior to knowing much of anything
unaware that by nine years gone
a different soil would claim my water

Nine years gone, 20 years old and a bigot
seated on the gunner’s strap of a soft-skinned HMMWV
in Baghdad Iraq, the air apparent
radiating off buff colored buildings and yellowed Mercedes
fenders, quarter panels, and doors painted odd colors
or as often, simply removed
my whole world seemed caked with dust
fearful gaze fixed fast on anything and everything but
frequent streams of five-five-six could make me scream
fuck no, I’m not afraid!
mind so full of the hatred one acquires
following fear and death and failure
praying that by eight years gone
a different soil might claim my water

Eight years gone, 21 years old and tired
lead foot flat against that Chevrolet floorboard
attempting to feel something worthwhile
something but the numbness and the nothing, just this nothing
and the thought that all of life’s pleasures and pains
may rightfully be retained from someone like me
ever recollecting how heinous I could be
knowing of a part of me I’d rather not have seen so
frequent dreams of who I’d been came crashing back at me
and into the hollow forming at the core of me
mind now full of the resentment one compounds
following loss without grief or healing
without concern for “life goes on”
that the earth continues to claim our water

My younger years gone, years older, still alive
feet feeling the sand, wading into warm water
fishing pole over my shoulder on a lake in fair Michigan
wind at my back, sweet scent of honeysuckle
my line flies fine, shot fired with great accuracy
the tug and the feel of the lure as I reel, heals me
eyes silently searching for the eddies and stills
for my next opportunity
I frequent streams, the calm it brings makes me sing
fuck no, I’m not afraid
mind now equipped with the wisdom one acquires
having survived the times that try you
with the utmost concern that life should go on
that the earth may continue to cleanse with her water 

(This poem comes from Warrior Writers, a non-profit organization that teaches and gives space for veterans to write and create art about their experiences. You can donate here.)


Other Things Martha-Ann Alito Will Do If She's Mad at the Neighbors

Apparently, if you call Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito's wife, Martha-Ann, a "c-word" that rhymes with "runt," she'll fly the American flag upside-down at the Alitos' house in sympathy with election deniers. And Alito won't deny that that's what it was for; he'll just sigh and say, in essence, "Well, the little woman was made to feel bad so she did a treason." So I guess that she just reacts in the weirdest ways when someone says something mean or puts up a sign that upsets her. She has it all worked out: 

1. If you call her a "bitch," she'll fly a Nazi flag at her house.

2. If you put up a Black Lives Matter sign, she'll come to the neighborhood cookout in a Klan robe.

3. If you say her husband is responsible for killing women, she'll fly the flag of Gilead. 

4. If you put up a yard sign for Joe Biden, she'll piss the word "Trump" on your lawn.

5. If you put up a sign that mentions Kamala Harris, she'll burn a cross on your lawn.

6. If you call her a "twat," she'll invite the Proud Boys over and have sex with them on the front porch.

7. If you put up one of those signs that says, "In this house..." in your front yard, she'll get her QAnon friends to invade your basement to look for kidnapped children whose blood you drink. 

8. If you wear a Che Guevara shirt in her neighborhood, she'll get Putin to poison you. 

9. If you put a "Fuck SCOTUS" sign in your yard, she'll shoot your dog and your goat. 

10. If you call her a "fascist," she'll bring you a pound cake and thank you. 

(Note: I've seen that Martha-Ann was called "the c-word." So it could also be "cocksucker" or "cancer," both of which work, too. We're all just assuming it's the one that rhymes with "hunt" and maybe that says a lot about us. And her.)

(Note 2: Blogger wouldn't let me use the actual c-word. So I deleted it. Let's see if this version works.)


Stormy Daniels Is the Hero America Needs

In her testimony and especially in her cross-examination, writer/director/actor Stormy Daniels became the hero that America needs right now. She was on the stand for the prosecution of Donald Trump, a rapist who is also a former president, for falsifying business records to hide the hush money he paid to Daniels for a sexual encounter in 2006. Over the course of two days, first under questioning from Manhattan prosecutor Susan Hoffinger and then under dickish cross-examination from Trump attorney Susan Necheles, Daniels put a human face on what could be a somewhat dry financial crimes case and, in a much larger sense, responded to the complete bullshit of the Trump side with cutting common sense and two feet squarely in reality. 

Like in this exchange with Necheles, where Necheles was trying to say that everything Daniels was doing was just for money:

Q: That motivates you a lot in life, making more money; right?

A: Well, it is the United [States] -- that's what we do here. (Shrugs)

Can't argue with that. And it also is one of those answers that points to how completely idiotic the questions are. Let's not even get into the fact that Necheles's client monetizes everything from a cancer charity to the Bible and sells mugs with his mug shot on them. (Get it? Hilarious.)

In another exchange, Daniels schools Necheles in modern capitalism (and, as I've argued, Daniels is a more successful business person than Trump). Trying to show how much Daniels has monetized her hatred of Trump and her mainstream celebrity because she has been so vociferous in her condemnation of him, Necheles brought up some products that praise Daniels, like a prayer candle.

Q: That's one of the items you sell in your store, something called "Stormy, Saint of Indictments candle"; right? 

A: Yes. That was made from a store in New Orleans.

Q: You're saying that's not you bragging about how you are the Saint of a person who got President Trump indicted?

A:  No. I'm not bragging. I think it's funny that a store made those for me to sell, so I put those on my site.

Q: And you're making $40 on each of those, right?

A: No. I'm actually making about $7.

Yeah, that's how shit works in the real world. You don't make the amount that you're selling something for. That's basic online retailing, Etsy-level shit. Necheles was lying or ignorant, not Daniels.

Daniels honest answers made a mockery of Necheles questions. The lawyer really thought she was going to have a Perry Mason moment of catching Daniels in a lie, openly calling Daniels a liar to bait her in to cracking. But the things Necheles keeps quoting were not said under oath. Who gives a fuck if Daniels didn't tell In Touch magazine the whole truth? Necheles's client is an extravagant liar but refuses to go under oath and face real consequences for lying. Instead, Daniels fucked up Necheles time and again. Look at this exchange where Necheles tried to get Daniels to say everything she's doing is just acting, like Daniels does in the mostly adult films she's in. 

Q: So, you have a lot of experience in making phony stories about sex appear to be real, right?

A: Wow. I'm a -- (Laughter.) That's not how I would put it. The sex in the films, it's very much real. Just like what happened to me in that room [with Trump].

Q: All right. But you're making fictionalized stories about sex; you write those stories?

A: No. The sex is real. The character names might be different, but the sex is very real. That's why it's pornography and that's a B movie...

Q: And you have a lot of experience in memorizing these fictional stories and repeating them; right?

A: I have of experience in repeating stories and of memorizing stories? I do a lot of that, but not just about sex, I'm pretty sure we all can do that.

Q: And you have bragged about how good you are about writing porn movies and writing really good stories and writing really good dialogue; right?

A: Yes.

Q: And now you have a story you have been telling about having sex with President Trump; right?

A: And if that story was untrue, I would have written it to be a lot better. (Laughter.)

Daniels kept on schooling Necheles. When Necheles said Daniels worked in sex clubs, Daniels retorted, "I don't work in sex clubs. I work in strip clubs. So that's a big difference." And she's right. Trust me. It's a huge difference, as anyone who ever inappropriately touched a stripper in a lap dance room has learned. 

Necheles wanted to shame Daniels and her profession. Like a cop asking a rape victim why she wore a mini-skirt to a bar, Trump's lawyer had a fucking nauseating exchange with Daniels, showing a basic misunderstanding of porn, of sex, and of seeing Donald fucking Trump in his underwear. 

Q: So you say you came out of the bathroom and he was on the bed in his T-shirt and boxer shorts; right?

A: Yes.

Q: And, according to you, when you saw him sitting on the bed, you became faint, the room started to spin and the blood left your hands and feet, yes?

A: Yes. It was shock. Surprise.

Q: So just so I can be clear on what you are saying, you've acted and had sex in over 200 porn movies; right?

A: 150-ish, yes.

Q: And there are naked men and naked women having sex, including yourself in those movies; right?

A: Yes.

Q: And, but according to you, seeing a man sitting on a bed, in a T-shirt and boxer shorts, was so upsetting that you got light headed, blood left your hands and feet, and you almost fainted; right?

A: Yes. When you are not expecting a man twice your age to be in their underwear -- I have seen my husband naked almost everyday -- if I came out of the bathroom and it was not my husband and it was Mr. Trump on the bed, I would probably have the same reaction.

The obscenity here isn't Daniels having sex in adult films. It's Necheles asserting that even when Daniels was off the clock, she shouldn't care if random dudes strip for her. That kind of sexist, assaultive shit should have been squashed like a bug by the judge. 

Daniels was a goddamn champ, time and again, correcting Necheles, needling her, and obviously getting under her skin while she was desperately trying to get under Daniels's. 

But the biggest fuckup by Necheles might have been a form that was shown to Daniels and the parties in court. It was a financial form related to Daniels being ordered to pay Trump's attorney fees for a failed defamation case a few years back. As the form was displayed on screens, Daniels whispered to the judge, "This has my address...That's got my address." Daniels was afraid of Trump seeing her address and knowing where she and her daughter live. It freaked her the fuck out. 

Even Judge Merchan saw it and commented to Necheles, "She turned to me, she looked very fearful, and she said, 'That's got my address'...She is very much afraid of this form." Later, when Necheles asked Daniels why she left out information about her daughter's identity on another form, Daniels responded, "I won't fill out information that endangers my family or my daughter, no matter what."

Of course Daniels was freaked out. She had just described to Hoffinger how, in 2011, a man came up to her and her infant daughter in a parking lot in Las Vegas and threatened her, telling her to stop talking about the sexual encounter with Trump. Daniels has implied that Trump was somehow behind it, and even if he wasn't, well, Trump sure likes to make it seem like he's capable of that kind of blatant thuggery. Why wouldn't she be afraid?

That's why Daniels is a goddamned hero. It's not just because she handed Trump's attorney her ass in court. It's also and especially because she is overcoming fear and derision and threats to sit there and take this. It's because Trump dangled the promise of mainstream legitimacy in the skeeviest, most elitist way, promising her that she'd "get out of the trailer park" by sticking with him and being on his bullshit TV show, using power and money to coerce her into accepting having sex with him, and then Trump never came through, and now she's willing to risk herself to make sure everything is taken away from him. 

And I'd love it if in at least some small way, Daniels wants to shove Trump onto the shit heap of history because he promised her dinner in 2006 and he never fucking delivered. 

Q: And you are saying that this was a big deal that you didn't get dinner; right?

A: I was invited. It was dinnertime. I was running hungry, yeah. We talked about ordering food or going down to get food, we never got to eat. It was dinnertime, and we never ate.

Q: And you made a big point of that on numerous interviews; right?

A: Yeah, I went to go to dinner and I didn't get dinner

Fuck, yeah, Stormy Daniels. You deserved dinner and so much more. America owes you big time. 


Protect the Free Speech Rights of the Student Encampments

On Friday, I spoke to author and activist Ashley Dawson. Like me, Dawson is a professor at the City University of New York, which has a bunch of campuses around NYC. Unlike me, he had been to the Gaza war protest encampment at the City College of New York, which is a CUNY school. The encampments have sprung up at universities around the country (and the world) as part of an outcry against Israel's massacre of civilians in its war on Gaza, as well against the United States's role in funding that massacre. 

What Dawson described to me at CCNY sounded very much like the set-up at Occupy Wall Street, the protest that took up residence on a block in Lower Manhattan in Fall of 2011 and was beloved and supported across the board on the American left. He said of CCNY, "The encampment was a pretty amazing space. There were upwards of 40 tents, which included not just places for people to sleep but also a large and well-stocked people's kitchen, a people's library, and a medical clinic." 

In fact, at this college, the primary activity at the camp seems to have been, well, education. Dawson saw speakers talking about their personal stories, as well as their own insights on Palestine and Israel. He said there were speakers who are professors and students, including Jewish speakers (and that one of the most radical groups was an anti-Zionist ultra-orthodox Jewish organization, which, yes, does exist). As befits a protest movement, there were calm voices and angry voices, defiant voices and compromising voices. There were voices who want a two-state solution and voices who want one state with Palestinians and Israelis living together equally. Of course there was a diversity of opinions. That's the way this goes. Every movement has extremists, too, on every side, and sometimes you hear from them. Welcome to the political world.

Dawson didn't see any signs or hear any speech that could be considered antisemitic, except for what you may think about the slogan "From the river to the sea." I know that phrase has been called "hate speech" by people who need something to condemn, but its meaning is really context specific. What do I mean by that? For example, when a group of people chant, "USA! USA!" how you hear that, as pride or a threat, maybe, depends on the circumstances and you. What Dawson did see, and what has been erased by much of the media, were the number of Jewish students and others who were at the encampment and support the Palestinian people. As a Jewish student from Columbia told Democracy Now!, "I think it’s really important to recognize that there is a large anti-Zionist Jewish voice on campus."

This doesn't excuse incidents of antisemitism that have occurred on campuses since the war's start last year, but it also doesn't even get into the anti-Muslim hate speech that has been directed at the protesters. 

Like me, Dawson doesn't believe the official accounts of why the encampment at CCNY was raided. What he saw was a peaceful protest with students who wanted to engage with their administrators about the direction of CUNY. If there were "outsiders" at CCNY, as media reports keep parroting the NYPD in saying, they included alumni and people from other CUNY schools, said Dawson. So, yeah, technically, they weren't members of the college itself, but CCNY is part of the landscape of Harlem, which is way up in Manhattan. Like all of CUNY, it's for students from working class families, many of whom work and have families themselves (so keep your remarks about privileged college kids to yourself). And it's also for the communities where the schools are. Community members are welcomed on the campuses for all kinds of events. Why not protests?

Over at Columbia University down the street, a school spokesperson said some of those arrested were "non-affiliates," which means not students or employees, which still leaves a ton of people affiliated with Columbia who could have been there. Or maybe journalists and a grandmother. One other thing: The NYPD didn't say how many people were arrested outside CCNY during its raid of the encampment late Tuesday night. So those outsiders might have literally been outside.

I'm not going to get into what I agree and disagree with on all of the demands of the students at CCNY and elsewhere, many of which are fairly specific to their schools. I've been pretty clear about my opposition to Israel's savage retaliation against Gaza for the horrific attack by Hamas on Israel. There should be a cease fire and withdrawal. And I was part of the movement to divest colleges from South Africa in the late 1980s. I have nothing but contempt for the transformation of schools into capitalist machines, and back then I had righteous anger about my tuition money supporting apartheid in even the tiniest way. 

But I will say that the response to the protests by leaders at the school and in government at various levels has been, across the board, enraging. I can get into the heavy-handed approach taken at New York City schools, at Columbia, at the New School, and at CCNY. You wanna know why things got crazy? It's simple: Escalation by the administrators and police inside and outside the universities blew this up. The first police raid at Columbia was on April 18, and that was done to crush the movement that was growing there in defiance of a ban on political demonstrations on campus. This oppressive action was an electric jolt to a movement that was starting, and that's when you saw the surge in encampments, almost all of which were peaceful, even if they were against school policies (I mean, that's what civil disobedience is, which has a long tradition in America, going back to, oh, hell, let's say the Boston Tea Party). But they were also on guard against police action and against pro-Israel groups on the campuses, which is going to lead to cautious, if not a little paranoid behavior when confronted. 

Things could have been handled differently in so many cases. At Brown University, administrators negotiated an end to the encampment by agreeing to some of the demands, including a vote on divestment of the school from companies with ties to Israel. At the University of Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia police and district attorney have said that they don't want to get involved unless there is a real threat. At Northwestern, an agreement between the protesters and the university allows for protests but ends the encampment, an action that led to immediate condemnation by pro-Israel groups, calling on the president of NU to resign. Free speech is supposed to lead to more speech. Even if you hate the speech, you allow the speech, as long as direct violence is not being called for (like, say, "Kill all [name a group]"). 

Of course, things can also go the way of UCLA, where pro-Israel counter-demonstrators attacked the encampment and police watched for hours before finally intervening with a ludicrous amount of force. 

There's so much more to say here, and I'll be saying it. But let me end with this: I keep hearing people on the left condemning the encampments, infantilizing the students, wondering, "Why this? Why now?" 

I dunno. Maybe if you lived your entire life during a period where the so-called adults did fuck-all about the climate crisis and ensuring that the planet continues to exist, maybe if you watched as the country slid backwards on civil rights for non-whites and for LGBTQ people and for women, maybe if your introduction to politics was a presidency that was so incompetent and vile that it allowed a global pandemic to fuck up the world and your life, maybe if you marched because you wanted the police to stop murdering Black people and the only response was more oppression by the police, maybe if you've been told you have to get a university education to get anywhere in this world but the only way to do that is to go deeply into debt, maybe if you've come out of a public education system that has been contorted away from learning and only gives a shit about outcomes assessments related to how well you take a fucking test, maybe if you are told you're not allowed to learn about the racist history of the country or the complicated nature of gender and sexuality, maybe if you watch as the richest country in the world can't come up with a way to get health care and food and homes to the needy, maybe the final fucking straw might be knowing that, instead of providing health care and food and homes, not only is your fucking government providing most of the weapons for a war that if it isn't genocide is sure as fuck genocide-adjacent, but the school you're going into a lifetime of debt to attend is also, directly or indirectly, using the money you are borrowing to fund the foreign country that is slaughtering women and children by the tens of thousands, and then when you protest this, finally, at last, when you say, "Enough!" and you put your voice and your future on the line, which is more than the so-called "adults" are willing to do for you, you're called "hateful" even though you're the one who wants the killing of children to stop and your groups are banned and your speech is silenced and you're threatened with expulsion and you're doxxed by assholes and you're beaten and arrested and so that all those nice things that you were taught about freedom in this alleged land of the free by the so-called "adults" is bullshit. Yeah, maybe you'd be fucking done, too, and ready to go to the wall on one goddamn thing. 

(Note: If it's not the thing you'd like the students to go to the wall on, if you're saying, "Why not abortion rights?" or "Why not Ukraine?" or whatever you support, well, that's on you. You start the movement. They're doing this.)

(Note 2: It shouldn't matter, but I feel I always need to say that I'm Jewish when I write this stuff. I had family die at Auschwitz. It's a card I am forced to play to fend off accusations of antisemitism.)