Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Puerto Rico Remains So Very Fucked (and the Rest of Us Might Be, Too)

The unsurprising but still alarming number of dead from Hurricane Maria, as estimated by a study in the New England Journal of Medicine, is more than 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina combined: at least 4645 killed directly by the storm or in the aftermath. It ought to be a scandal that our bumblefuck president not only low-balled the number by over 4500 but bragged about the federal government's response in keeping the death toll minimal. It ought to be a scandal that it took a private entity to accurately report the thousands of dead. But scandals are cheap in this shit era we're damned to live through. And the only thing that's cheaper are the lives of the American citizens on Puerto Rico.

Here's what else we've learned recently:

On Sunday, El Nueva Dia reported, "Eight months after Hurricane Maria, four main transmission lines of the island's power grid remain unrepaired." This means that much of the island now gets power from sub-transmission lines, and that leaves the power grid vulnerable to weather events, like, say, another hurricane, the season for which starts Friday. Actually, one FEMA official said that "a small tropical storm" could take down the grid. On top of that, thousands of families still do not have power and some still do not have water.

A Frontline report revealed just how disparately the situation in Puerto Rico was treated when compared to the federal government response after Hurricanes Harvey in Texas and Irma in Florida. Nine days after the storms, Puerto Rico, where a third of the houses had been wrecked or damaged, received just 5000 roof tarps, compared to 20,000 for Texas and 98,000 for Florida. Just 10,000 federal personnel were in Puerto Rico after 9 days, compared to 22,000 for Florida and 30,000 for Texas. Yes, by the time of Maria, FEMA and other federal workers were stretched thin, but even at its peak of 16,500, Puerto Rico never had the same number of people there to help out as the other two.

FEMA has approved less than half of the 750,000 applications for housing assistance for people who are trying to rebuild in Puerto Rico. This is because, especially in rural areas, people don't have the records that are required in order to get the aid. And even those who had them saw them washed away in the storm. FEMA has provided an average of $2974 in assistance, and the program will end on June 30.

Finally, there continues to be the way that the disaster in Puerto Rico has the potential to be a disaster for the whole country if we don't invest a fuck-ton of funds there. 90% of emergency room physicians say that "they have experienced shortages or absences of critical medicines in their emergency departments" in the past month. On top of that, 93% say "their emergency departments are not 'fully prepared' for patient surge capacity in the event of a natural or man-made disaster, or mass-casualty incident," with less than half saying they are even "somewhat prepared." One reason (though not the only one) for these shortages is that "up to 10% of all drugs consumed by Americans" were made at pharmaceutical companies in Puerto Rico, along with about half the IV saline and a large percentage of the IV bags used by, well, everyone from the local EMT to your big damn hospitals. Those facilities still aren't fully back and are subject to the whims of the weakened power grid.

The fact that we're not still focused on how fucked Puerto Rico is speaks to a general acceptance that the rank racism of the Trump administration is just a part of our daily lives. There was a massive tragedy involving millions of our fellow Americans, with thousands of them dying, and our government is choosing to do the bare minimum because bad news fucks up the MAGA triumphalism.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Donald Trump Told You He Hates Families During the Campaign

From the very beginning of his putrid political campaign, which now seems more and more like America's unforced death march, Donald Trump told you he couldn't give two shits about (especially non-white) families. Way back in December 2015, in one of the many tongue bath interviews he received on Fox and Friends, Trump said, "The other thing with the terrorists is you have to take out their families. When you get these terrorists, you have to take out their families. They care about their lives, don't kid yourself. When they say they don't care about their lives, you have to take out their families." Disturbing repetition aside, he was being pretty fuckin' clear there.

And, in case you thought he was kidding, when asked about that statement by no less a motherfucker and serial harasser than Bill O'Reilly, in front of a crowd in January 2016, he doubled down. O'Reilly said he didn't believe Trump would "put out hits on women and children," and Trump scoffed, "I would do pretty severe stuff." The audience at the Mesa, Arizona, campaign event cheered like crazy that someone was finally saying what they're thinking: "Murder all Mooslims."

For Trump, once a phrase tests well with his idiot horde, it becomes standard for him to say. So the murder of innocent family members was another applause line for a while. Hell, he went even further at a Fox "news" GOP debate in March 2016. Asked by Bret Baier what he would do if his commanders in the field refuse to carry out an illegal order to kill the families of accused terrorists, Trump scoffed again (as scoffing is his primary method of speaking), "They won't refuse. They're not going to refuse me. Believe me." Pressed on it, Trump went off, insisting that the wives and families of the 9/11 hijackers knew about the attack, were living in the United States, and were sent back to their home countries before 9/11. So, he implied, they weren't innocent and deserved to be killed. Of course, no one pointed out that none of the 9/11 hijackers had wives or children in the United States in the time before the attack.

But that didn't matter. Donald Trump was absolutely fucking firm on this point: it was weakness not to kill the families of terrorists during any action by the United States. In fact, they should be targeted as a way of threatening terrorists. He would later back off his statement that he would force the military to commit war crimes, but on his first full day as president, Trump visited CIA headquarters. He was shown video of a drone strike on a terrorist target where the target's family was in a house and the drone operator waited until the target was outside to fire in order to minimize the potential for other casualties. "Why did you wait?” Trump asked.

Trump told you outright that if you're a child who has the misfortune to be born to the wrong parents, he will fuck up your life worse than it may already be fucked up.

So it's not really a surprise that Trump's desire to punish adults by punishing their children has spread to his deranged border policies. When the Justice Department and Homeland Security changed its policy on immigrant families seeking asylum, it used the cruel language of human trafficking. America's shittiest leprechaun, Jeff Sessions, announced, "If you are smuggling a child then we will prosecute you, and that child will be separated from you as required by law. If you don't like that, then don't smuggle children over our border." You got that? You and your kids travel the rough journey to the United States from Honduras to try to escape that gang that killed your husband and is threatening to rape you and force your 10 year-old son to join up? You are now a child smuggler.

Now let's be clear: up to this point, while most of the separations have lasted no more than 10 days, more than a few cases have dragged on for weeks and months, with huge distances put between a mother and, say, her 1 year-old (that's real). This comes from treating every border crosser as a dangerous criminal and rejecting almost everyone who is seeking asylum. That is a change from previous administrations, especially when it comes to families.

But Sessions put this new policy in place just a few weeks ago, so there's no way to tell yet how awful it's going to become. All indications are that there has been a surge of separations. So let's be even clearer: You wanna fuck the brain of a child for good? You tear that child away from their family. That's what our government is doing now for no reason other than to be cruel to the parents who brought them here. We are wrecking the emotional development of kids. And we are treating people like animals, which, I guess, goes along with what Trump said (and, fuck you, he meant all non-white immigrants).

And let's be clear again: This is a different policy from the Obama administration. Democrats in Congress are not in any way responsible for this action. It is all Trump, but he's a pathetic, dumb skinsack of shit who refuses to take the blame for anything.

This nation has a terrible history of taking children away from their families, from the horror of selling slave children to the forced assimilation programs for Native American kids to, now, this.

And, as ever, no nightmare has occurred yet in this presidency that will stir the hearts of Republicans to stand up to Trump. Maybe if he gets around to fucking with white families.

America is saying, in essence, "The hell with your tired, screw your poor, and your huddled masses yearning to be free can go fuck themselves."

(Note: By Trump's "logic," when he, Donald, Jr., Eric, and Ivanka are arrested, they better fuckin' drag in Barron and Tiffany because, as Trump himself said about the families of criminals, "They know what's going on.")

Monday, May 28, 2018

Poem for Memorial Day

"Ways of Looking at an IED" by Hugh Martin

Notice that in both photographs of the artillery shells there is a wire leading from the bag. Also
notice that the plastic bag had sand thrown on top of it to make it look more like roadside trash.
—1st Infantry Division Soldier’s Handbook to Iraq

Beside the field of potato rows,
Sumey sees an alarm clock

taped to a two-liter bottle. We create
a perimeter, back up the trucks, flatten

the potatoes under tires.
The Explosive Ordnance Disposal team

isn’t sure; when they’re not sure,
they blow it up.

Why don’t you walk over there, Spoon says,
and get yourself a Purple Heart.

With a broom, a woman beats a rug
draped over a clothesline. LT waves her away. Bomb,

bomb, he says, but she shakes her head,
turns her hips to swing again.

Spoon is awarded
the Purple Heart in June

when the shrapnel misses his head,
but the bricks that hide the bomb

knock him unconscious.

When the shell detonates beside our truck,
the sound is too loud to hear; the wind wraps us

with shrapnel, bricks, smoke; the ballistic windshield
shatters; glass on Kenson’s cheek—

blood like smeared lipstick.

For three hours we clear the neighborhood
because of a black plastic bag.

The staff sergeant in the bomb suit
orders everyone to back the fuck up even further.

In the bag he finds six ripe tomatoes.

Sergeant Sumey says he almost vomits
turning in the turret

to see our truck vanish
inside smoke. Thought you were all dead.

We avoid trash, disturbed soil, animal carcasses.
We arrest men

who dig beside the road.
We hate the ground.

Outside the city: rocks stacked
like children’s building blocks.

Sergeant Kenson won’t wait for EOD. It’s nothing,
he yells, and no one can stop him

when he starts to walk;
even LT tries to restrain him, but he walks,

and all four of us in the truck shout,
but it’s no use. When he lifts his leg

to kick the pile,
we look down. We close our eyes.

Rude Pundit Patreon: Now With Rude Storytime

Memorial Day is a totally inappropriate time to sell shit, but everyone else does it, so what the hell.

Salute the troops by subscribing over at the Rude Pundit's Patreon page.

Now, in addition to extra weekly blog posts, you'll get the brand new "Rude Storytime," which is a terrible name for some fucked-up audio storytelling. The first one is there now, and it's about the three times I've had guns pointed at me. As one listener said, "You're as good a storyteller orally [insert rude comment here] as you are textually." Your mileage may vary.

My Uncle Jack fought in Japan so I could have the freedom to blog and do a podcast. Won't you honor him by subscribing?

(Note: That's totally true. My great uncle was an engineer in the Army in WWII. Ended up working for NASA for a while. And he was a genuinely great guy.)

Thursday, May 24, 2018

You Now Have a Patriotic Duty to Kneel During the National Anthem

You see that up there? That's Major General Benedict Arnold's Oath of Allegiance to the United States, signed, in the middle of the Revolutionary War, on May 30, 1778 at Valley Forge. By the end of 1779, Arnold was working for the British to defeat the United States. Lotta fuckin' good that loyalty oath did, huh? Professing your love of nation doesn't mean shit if you don't act like you love it.

Every generation or so, we have to go through this ludicrous exercise in symbol worship. Anti-flag-burning still rears its ugly-ass head every now and then even though the Supreme Court said in 1989 that it was free speech. You know who joined the majority in that case? Motherfuckin' Antonin Scalia who, when asked about it years later, said he did it because the First Amendment is the First Amendment. "If it were up to me, I would put in jail every sandal-wearing, scruffy-bearded weirdo who burns the American flag. But I am not king," he said in 2015. You got that? Freedom of speech specifically allows us to say things like "your bullshit symbols are bullshit."

And it allows us to not have to worship whatever symbols people in power tell us to worship. During the flag-burning debate, I wrote a comic piece about a joyful flag maker who is encouraging people to burn flags because he makes more money that way. The point was that a flag is a product, often not even made in the United States, that is purchased and is the property of the person who purchased it. If I bought it, it's mine. If I wanna wipe my ass with it, I can because capitalism.

You wanna assign each person their own flag that was sanctified with the blood of George Washington or whatnot, then we can talk about restrictions. But after 9/11, I saw flags that were flown to show pride in country that were just left up, on vehicles and homes, in the rain, in the wind, until they were faded in color, ragged, and worn, which, if you think about it, was pretty damn symbolic for the nation we became pretty quickly after 9/11. But no one was screaming that the pick-up truck driver with an NRA sticker and a "We Support the Troops" magnet should fuckin' respect the flag by taking that threadbare piece shit off his antenna, even though he should have.

Which gets us to the National Anthem.

Look, if you think the National Anthem is a good song, you're just wrong. It sucks. It's a terrible song with warmongering, violent words, a flag fetish, and a ludicrously bad melody that is only vaguely interesting to hear sung to see if the poor singer can actually hit the high note towards the end, at which point the dogs of Pavlovian patriotism in a crowd applaud for the singer not fucking it up. Seriously, though, we have one bullshit national anthem.

When the National Football League owners released its new policy that commands all players on the field to stand during the National Anthem or face fines, they may as well have wiped their asses with the stars and stripes. It didn't have to be this way. They could have just let the protest happen. Colin Kaepernick and the other players who knelt were protesting the mistreatment of African Americans by the police. Then our fucking dickhead president saw a chance to exploit people's racism and stupidity by condemning players for daring to have an opinion that wasn't his.

And that savage orange bastard said today that he agreed with the new policy. "You have to stand proudly for the national anthem or you shouldn’t be playing, you shouldn’t be there. Maybe you shouldn’t be in the country," he told pubic lice on Fox and Friends this morning. You should lose your job and your citizenship if you don't stand when a shitty song is played before a bunch of millionaires beat themselves into insanity for our entertainment and line the pockets of even richer men who would demand that they stand. Oh, they won't lock the bathrooms and the concession stands during the anthem at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. You can be sitting on a toilet and taking a shit while the Dallas Cowboys are forced to stand.

So now it's not just about protesting police violence. Now the only patriotic thing to do is to kneel when you're at a public event and they stupidly play our dumb anthem. At a Little League game? Take a knee. At a school event? Take a knee. At a football stadium? Take a fuckin' knee. Because the brutish asshole who leads this country still ain't a king, even though he wants to be. And enforced patriotism is just a way to make sure that people fuckin' hate the bullshit symbols.

You don't need to sign an oath or pledge to a flag or stand for a song to love your country. In fact, a country that makes you do that ain't worth your love. So show the players that are forced to stand that you still have a choice. Use it while you can.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

What Did That Dumb Orange Motherfucker Say Now? (Anti-Choice and Anti-Woman Edition)

There is no way in hell that Donald Trump did not pay for or have others pay for multiple abortions for the apparent multitude of women he fucked before marriage, between marriages, and while married. Whether it turns out that Elliott Broidy was covering up for Trump's affair and that Playboy model's abortion or if it's just Trump bankrolling other abortions, Trump had to have knocked up some women who didn't have a pre-nup with him. So whenever he disparages abortion rights, especially after decades of open support of choice (because no shit), it's with a kind of hypocrisy that he usually reserves for wedding vows and business deals.

In the wake of new Title X regulations that target abortions providers, including things like requiring "clear physical and financial divisions between programs that receive Title X funding and programs that perform or support abortion as family planning," Trump undulated over to the National Building Museum in DC to address the awfully named Susan B. Anthony List at its Campaign for Life Gala.

In other words, the guy who bragged about sexual voraciousness and adultery was asking to be praised for making it harder for women to get abortions. And the supposedly religious people there welcomed him with open arms.

So much of it was the same yadda, yadda, yadda. He mentioned the 2016 election: "Your hard work helped us to achieve this historic victory, our historic victory, one of the great victories of all time in politics," along with mocking Democrats with "They were not happy. They were going to have a big, beautiful party. Didn’t turn out to be such a good party." You won. Get over it.

And do you remember a couple of weeks ago when not supporting torturer and evidence destroyer Gina Haspel for CIA director made you so sexist that you should be ashamed of yourself? Yeah, that kind of respect for someone just because of her sex doesn't extend to Democrats because Trump repeatedly attacked House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. "Democrats like to campaign as moderates at election time, but when they go to Washington, they always vote for the radical Pelosi agenda down the line," Trump said, adding, "Can you imagine having Nancy Pelosi as the Speaker of the House?" The gathered members of an organization named after the founder of the feminist movement in the United States booed the first woman speaker of the House.

It didn't stop there. "Nancy Pelosi and the group — you heard her the other day — she wants to raise your taxes," Trump explained. And "the other day — just the other day — Nancy Pelosi came out in favor of MS-13. That’s the first time I’ve heard that. She wants them to be treated with respect, as do other Democrats." That's in response to some Democrats and others saying that perhaps it's not right for the president of the goddamn United States to call people "animals." Of course, instead of admitting an error, Trump doubled down and now every release on MS-13 from the White House calls them "animals." Hell, he's doing it at a speech in Long Island right now.

The most uncomfortable moment of the whole thing? Maybe when Trump praised the organization's namesake: "This organization bears the name of one of the greatest champions of freedom in American history: Susan B. Anthony. She fought for decades to end slavery, to secure women’s right to vote, and to respect the dignity of every single person. A great person, a great woman, was she." He doesn't know a goddamn thing about her.

But I'm gonna go with Trump quoting the Bible. Using a verse that anti-choice maniacs love to throw out there because they think it has to do with abortion, Trump said, "As the Lord says in Jeremiah, 'Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you…Before you were born, I set you apart.'"

Except, see, the next line is "I appointed you as a prophet to the nations" because God is very specifically talking about Jeremiah. And then, since this is the Old Testament, God isn't exactly very pro-life. In fact, what God is telling Jeremiah is that the people of the nation of Judah were being dicks who needed some smiting and that there was gonna be some wars for years and years where, yeah, a lot of fuckin' people would die. God was telling Jeremiah to be ready to kick ass.

This "pro-life" passage is a prelude to talking about lots of killing. It's just getting shit wrong to separate it out. Much like having a pussy-grabbing, misogynistic, raping creep speak to your allegedly "pro-woman" organization.

Honestly, the ghost of Susan B. Anthony should have appeared with the ghost of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, both wearing strap-ons, and they should have taken turns smacking Trump in his face with the dildos.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The Worst of All Possible Worlds: We Need Republicans to Act Against Trump

I have been sitting here, drinking away the lunch hour(s), trying to figure out a way to encapsulate the hogpile of fuckery that has involved the Trump administration just in the last few days.

I've thought about metaphors, like say Donald Trump is pretty much a guy who likes to fuck sheep but he's always just lived on a small farm with only a couple of sheep in the barn for him to fuck, but then, all of a sudden, someone mistakes his fucking of sheep for being a really good shepherd and he's hired to take care of a giant flock which for him is like fuck paradise and now he's fucking all the sheep he can, fucking them every which way, in their sheep asses, in their sheep pussies, in their sheep ears, sometimes just rubbing his dick on the fleece on their bodies until he orgasms, and no one's stopping him, no matter how much people point over the fence and say, "He's fucking the sheep, sweet Jesus. He's fucking the sheep," but no one who could stop him from sheep-fucking is going to stop him, and, horrible as it is, you can't look away because there's a fat old man fucking sheep.

But I didn't feel like that metaphor captured the nuances of the situation.

I've thought about recent history, like the "Chinagate" "scandal," where Bill Clinton was accused of shifting policy to favor the Chinese because China had attempted to donate to Democrats, including the president's reelection campaign, and Clinton's legal defense fund. Without getting into the muck of the details and the conflicting conclusions (although some on the right really believe this is The Worst Scandal In American History and Clinton should have been shot for it), let's just deal with objectively what occurred: there were Justice Department investigations that included teams of FBI agents involved, a Senate investigation, and a House investigation, with Democrats, including Joe Biden, being critical of Clinton.

At no point did Clinton attack the DOJ or Attorney General Janet Reno or FBI Director Louis Freeh. In fact, what Clinton said was "[The allegations] obviously have to be thoroughly investigated and I do not want to speculate or accuse anyone of anything...Obviously it would be a very serious matter for the United States if any country were to attempt to funnel funds to one of our parties for any reason whatever" and said the investigations should get to the bottom of the matter. Whatever he might have done behind the scenes, Clinton did nothing but respect the independence of the DOJ and the people who work there. By the way, the amounts of money that were involved in Chinagate were ludicrously small, like in the $80,000 range (out of over $190 million that the DNC raised in 1996). And the foreign policy actions that Clinton supposedly took to favor China were just a continuation of a deal made under George H.W. Bush. You know, back when presidents honored the agreements of other presidents.

Compare that to what ought to be Trump's Chinagate, which involves a $500 million loan by a Chinese government-run company for an Indonesian project that includes a Trump hotel and golf course. On its own, the fact that a company still owned by the President of the United States is getting massive infusions of capital from foreign countries ought to be a goddamned scandal that'd make Clinton's Chinagate look like the chump change it is. But add into that the fact that Trump tweeted, just a few days after the announced investment, support for the Chinese phone company ZTE, which had been sanctioned by the U.S. for illegal trading with, you know, Iran. And now Trump appears to be backing away from his much-hyped trade war with China as the Chinese roll the United States in whatever the fuck is going on with negotiations. Frankly, the easiest way any of it makes sense is if the trade war threat was just a negotiating tactic to get that Chinese investment in the Indonesian project.

That's a motherfuckin' Chinagate. It's not even a complicated scandal. Trump's company directly benefits from the loan, which means Trump and his family directly benefit from the loan, and anything that Trump does to help China has at least the appearance of a bribed quid pro quo. This ain't Russian pee hookers or clandestine meetings with idiot man-children and a real goddamn pedophile. This doesn't even involve spies. It's a fucking bribe. It's the simplest form of corruption there is.

In fact, let's leave aside the entire Russia probe, which is so monumental in its implications that Republicans just plug their fingers in their ears and scream, "La-la-la, I can't hear you" rather than deal with it. Let's just deal with another easy one.

Trump personally contacted Megan Brennan, the Postmaster General of the United States (not the Postmaster General of Trump, but the whole fuckin' country), to get her to double the shipping rate on packages sent by Amazon because Trump hates the Washington Post, which is owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. Trump tried on several occasions to get her to do what is clearly a violation of a contract Amazon has with the Postal Service. But we all know that a contract to Trump is just something used to wipe his swampy ass dry. Brennan, obviously understanding her audience, sent Trump a series of slides showing him that Amazon is paying a fair rate and that the USPS makes money on the deal. But even a picture show couldn't convince our fucking idiot president that he's wrong once some lie gets Fox-trapped in his thick, oatmeal-filled skull.

That's a scandal. That's the goddamn president targeting and attempting to punish an American and an American company because one of the entities in that company doesn't worship Trump. That's abuse of power. That's a violation of his oath. That's fucking easy to understand.

I know we keep thinking, like a mantra to give us some modicum of peace, "Just wait until the midterms. Wait until the midterms." But unless Democrats take back both houses of Congress by overwhelming majorities, something that is frankly impossible, we still need Republicans to shake off whatever combination of craven political power-mongering and greed they have in order to step the fuck up here. Even in 2019, Republicans would be needed to remove Trump from office over any of the extravagantly impeachable scandals that are racking up on a daily basis.

Again, I'm not even talking about whatever Robert Mueller's investigation might find. I'm saying that the crisis is here, now, and it's not just in the big, grand uber-scandal that Trump is not the legitimate president. I'm talking about the quotidian, easily comprehensible graft and threats. What we might simple call "the dictator shit." And he's getting away with the dictator shit because the elected officials who are supposed to stop the dictator shit aren't doing a goddamn thing.

That's on Republicans. But the GOP has signaled, in ways small and big, that not only are they not interested in holding Trump to account, but they will do what they can to aid and abet the entire hogpile of fuckery, starting with the repulsive pile of goat vomit, Devin Nunes, who will go down the shitter of history as "that fucker who kept letting Trump get away with it." And that'll go for nearly every Republican in Congress right now. This is the other big scandal: the dereliction of duty by the majority party in the Legislative Branch.

But that kind of talk does us no good. The best we can hope is that a 2018 Democratic wave will scare the shit out of Republicans. Hell, it might even make a few of them change party when the choice is fealty to a vile orange blob or the possibility of some kind of redemption. Trump's balls can't taste that good.

And Democrats should run on those easily understandable scandals, not the Russia stuff, precisely because it's just easier to communicate in a 30-second ad: He took a bribe. He threatened to make your Amazon deliveries cost more. He's an asshole because of that and needs to be stopped. Right now, Republicans aren't doing their fucking jobs. Democrats can run on just doing the fucking job of a member of Congress.

Otherwise, yeah, we're all just standing at the gate, yelling, "Won't someone, for the love of God, stop him from fucking those sheep?"

Friday, May 18, 2018

Time to Do the School-Shooting Roundelay Again

Hey, everyone, there's been another school shooting, this time at Santa Fe High School, right near I-45, southeast of Houston, on the way to Galveston. You can get there by taking the same exit you used to take to get to the Mall of the Mainland, which is now a space for a church, a gym, and other assorted stuff.

And so it's time to do the school-shooting roundelay, the slow dance that is a closed circle of people where everyone moves a bit but the circle never goes anywhere.

We're still in the "we're shocked and appalled" step now, while we still learn how many are dead and injured. The count is up to 10 fatalities now. And we're still learning about the weapons involved. One officer at the scene said the assailant went into Santa Fe High with "an AR-15-style rifle, a pistol, a shotgun, and pipe bombs," leaving "a bloody mess in the school."

The horror will inevitably combine with the "thoughts and prayers" step, which will be followed by the "shooter is a socialist Bernie-lover" turn until it becomes the "oh, wait, nope, he's another right-wing asshole" twist, which will be followed by the "anger and outrage against guns" step, accompanied by the "we need new gun laws" kick, which is followed quickly by the "angry backlash against the anger and outrage" twirl with a "too soon to talk about it" flourish, accompanied by the "2nd Amendment is more important than lives" head nod, the "law-abiding gun owners" saunter, and the "you don't know what an assault rifle is, libtard" bow, which is followed by the "we need action" foot stomp and the "mental illness" waist thrust, which is followed by the "don't worry, gun nuts, we're not touching your precious murder tools" final step. Eventually, the dance will be complete, everyone will end up where they began, and most, but not all, will leave to go to their regular lives, while others will stay behind and wonder why no one will let them change from a roundelay to a two-step, where at least you can end up in a new place on the dance floor.

There is nothing left to say. We've said it all before. The vast, vast majority of the nation knows what needs to be done, but we are hostages of the National Rifle Association and their army of paranoid morons who can't comprehend why we're all not as batshit paranoid as they are.

One student from Santa Fe High was interviewed by a local news reporter. When the girl was asked if she thought a shooting would never happen at her school, she answered, sadly, wisely, with the kind of resignation no young teen should ever have to muster, "No. It’s been happening everywhere. I’ve always felt it would eventually happen here, too." We (and when I say, "We," I mean, "We," as in you, me, everyone) have failed to protect our kids. We have failed as a country.

By the way, the district's member of Congress, Republican Randy Weber, has an "A" from the NRA for his pro-gun votes.

All the way on the other side of Texas, in El Paso, an elementary school was briefly closed because yesterday, after school was over, a box of ammunition fell from a military helicopter. It went through the roof of Parkland Elementary and caused a partial power outage. Which means that the flight path of helicopters carrying live ammo from Fort Bliss is over a school. In West Texas, where there is so much space that you could travel for hours without seeing a person. That's how much our kids mean to us. Not even enough to go around them with our official death machines.

We'll dance again. And again. Until the roundelay becomes a danse macabre, accompanying more and more of us to our end.

(Update: It appears shooter Dimitrios Pagourtzis did not have had the AR-15 style rifle. Obviously, more will come out as we go along. It's all part of this dance.)