Thursday, April 26, 2018

Arizona Teachers Will Kick Your Ass, GOP


That right there is the latest march of thousands of teachers in a Republican-run state. As many figured would happen after West Virginia, Kentucky, and Oklahoma, the teachers in Arizona have told the GOP-led legislature and Republican governor that their pay sucks, their schools suck, and it's gotta fuckin' change. Teachers are leaving Arizona in droves to go to surrounding states where they at least attempt to pay teachers like they're the people who educate our fucking children. At the start of this year, of 8600 vacant teaching jobs, 62% were either unfilled or filled by unqualified substitutes.

Like in every other state led by the savage servants of the rich, Arizona Republicans have passed years of tax cuts, mostly for corporations and the wealthy. And, fuckin' yeah, it's the Republicans. They've controlled the Arizona state government in totality since 2009. They've controlled the legislature for years. And these dumb shitkickers really thought that cutting taxes would bring in companies and jobs, and guess the fuck what? Like in every other state that's tried it, it didn't fuckin' work.

Meanwhile, to make up for the hundreds of millions in lost tax revenue, guess the fuck what they cut? Yeah, education (among other things that help, you know, people). The budget for repair and construction on schools? Fuck that. That's been cut $2 billion since 2009 when, as mentioned just up there, the GOP took over the entire government. Schools had to increase class sizes, cut staff and programs, and a total of $4.5 billion has been cut from schools since 2009. Oh, and teacher salaries have been stagnant. So, yeah, they're on a fuckin' strike.

50,000 people showed up in Phoenix today to march on the state capitol in over 90 degree heat. In fact, the march had to be cut short because people were dropping from heat exhaustion. 75% of Arizona's schools are closed today, and that's 820,000 students, a bunch of whom joined their teachers on the march.

Now, the governor is proposing a 20% pay raise over three years, but the legislature is unsure how to fund it. But the teachers don't just want the pay raise. At the rally after the march, teachers talked about schools with no computers, rusted out desks, and class sizes that have ballooned to 50 students. They talked about how teachers have to live with their parents because they don't make enough to afford to live on their own.

And even some Republicans are calling for a hike in some taxes to raise Arizona from being 48th in teacher pay and 43rd in per student spending in the nation. A conservative columnist for the Arizona Republic newspaper has proposed a 1-cent sales tax hike (which is obviously something that disproportionately affects the poor and middle class, but at least it's something) and legislation locks in how education is funded. It does go well beyond the pay raise but still doesn't restore all the funding lost.

Tomorrow, the teachers will continue their rally, but legislators have left for the weekend. They claim to be working on something. We'll see if these Republicans can overcome their asshole tendencies to do something to actually help the teachers and the kids of their state.

This teacher uprising is a full-fledged movement, one driven by women, who make up the vast majority of public school teachers. It is a way to say that economic sexism, which devalues jobs that are traditionally done by women, needs to fucking end.

(Note: Over in Colorado, a smaller but still important teacher strike is occurring, too.)

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Can We Choose to Know Who Runs Our Government Agencies?

Pop quiz, motherfuckers.

1. Who is Lisa Jackson?
a. Michael Jackson's daughter
b. EPA administrator for President Obama
c. Audrey Hepburn's character in Two for the Road

2. Who is Hildy Johnson?
a. Boris Johnson's wife
b. Secretary of Labor for President Obama
c. Rosalind Russell's character in His Girl Friday

3. Who is Shaun Donovan?
a. The full name of folk singer Donovan
b. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development for President Obama
c. Jack Lemmon's character in Airport '77

4. Who is Gary Locke?
a. John Locke's lesser-known brother
b. Secretary of Commerce for President Obama
c. Alec Guinness's character in Our Man in Havana

5. Who is Tom Donilon?
a. Secretary of Transportation for President Obama
b. Secretary of Energy for President Obama
c. Director of the Office of Management and Budget for President Obama

The answer for numbers 1, 3, and 4 is b. Number 2 is c because what's life without a twist now and again (Hilda Solis was Labor Secretary, though). And, fuck you, number 5 is a trick because Donilon was Obama's National Security Advisor.

I'm gonna bet you knew maybe one of those. If you knew more than one, then fuckin' awesome for you. You have decided to be extra-aware of who is making decisions that affect your life. But most people everywhere wouldn't know a single one of those 4 real people and 1 fictional character. And isn't that the bliss we want? Don't we just want our government officials to shut the fuck up, stop doing stupid shit, hunker down, and do their fuckin' jobs? It used to be like that. Not that fuckin' long ago.

I might not agree with what Scott Pruitt, Ben Carson, Wilbur Ross, Mick Mulvaney, or any of the querulous worms of Trump administration do as they heap piles of shit on their offices and leave wreckage wherever they go. I may want them to fail miserably and be sent to the hinterlands in disgrace or burn their careers on the pyre of the Trump administration's blustering cruelty. I want to fight their policies. For instance, I want to demonstrate how changes in EPA rules are going to dick the air and water for multiple generations and not talk about a soundproof booth. I want these braying asses, creepy motherfuckers, and skeevy grifters to just fucking get out of the public eye, especially for shit that has nothing to with policy (and they suck when they're doing policy, too).

During the Obama administration, we didn't worry about Gary Locke because he wasn't doing shit like going on TV to talk about the effect of tariffs on the price of aluminum cans like a barely animated corpse. The only reason we ever heard about Lisa Jackson at EPA was when Republicans attack dogs went after her and decided to make having a private email account is the worst thing anyone could do, far worse than, say, hiring a massive security force and spending on paranoid office shit, like fuckin' Scott Pruitt has.

This is not a call for ignorance. It's a call for peace. It's a call for the Republicans to step up (man, I just rolled my eyes so hard, I saw another dimension) and get the executive branch to cut the shit out. You learn shit like Ben Carson buying an extravagant fucking dining room table, then you call for his firing.

And the members of the administration just seemed to be engaged in a "hold my beer" contest in who can be the biggest corrupt asshole. You think Pruitt seems nuts? Check out Ryan Zinke. Think Steve Mnuchin's a greedy piece of garbage? Mulvaney's got him beat. You just know that Trump loves this chaos. He loves that it keeps his name on TV even more. He probably beats off to MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell getting pissed off.

The fabric of a society cannot hold if the claws of scandal keep tearing at it. Eventually, it's gonna give way. The question is whether or not anyone is gonna be able to stitch it back together.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Confederate Memorial Day Is for Losers

Look, there ought to be no reason to talk about "Confederate Memorial Day" because such a day shouldn't exist. And it fucking well ought not be recognized in any official way by any government of the nation that beat the Confederacy to a gray pulp. Except that the state offices in both Mississippi and Alabama were closed yesterday in "honor" of the dishonorable scumfucks who tried to rip the country in two so they could keep humans enslaved (with some localities closing their offices on other dates). And there were "celebrations" around the South.

For instance, over in Biloxi, on Sunday, an event was held at Beauvoir, the Jefferson Davis Home and "Presidential" Library, which strangely has not been burned to ground and the ashes haven't been turned into a giant toilet that black people can piss in. After listening to the plinking tones and odd singing of the Southern Strings Dulcimer Club, you could have heard a speech by H.K. Edgerton, known as "that black guy who supports the Confederacy" and who charges $20,000 an appearance and who totally isn't scamming the racists. (Fun fact: You can go on a ghost hunt once a month at Beauvoir. That's how you know the whole place is legit.)

In Montgomery, the state capital of Alabama, members of a group of Civil War reenactors will be decked out in Confederate soldier drag as a "tribute" to their ancestors. They'll be doing this on the grounds of the capitol building, so it's not unlike a bunch of people dressed as Nazis celebrating the anniversary of Kristallnacht under the Brandenburg Gate. In many other places, people just decorate the graves of dead racists...sorry, Confederate soldiers...no, wait, fucking traitors. That's better.

As usual, idiots come out to spew idiotic bullshit about how we need to "honor" their fallen ancestors for fighting for something they believed in. Like this piece from the "chaplain" of a Sons of Confederate Veterans group, where he uses a 1969 John Wayne movie to back up his point of view and says, "This is our land, our homes and our way of life. We didn't come up there to tell you how to run things, so don't come telling us." And I just wanna say to the author, Barry Cook, "Motherfucker, that's called 'living in a nation.' You don't get to do shit just because it's your 'way of life,' you fuckin' dumbass." Cook admonishes us, "[T]hese intellectual types don't usually get it. (They still haven't figured out how Trump won)." To which one can only respond what people like this tell us on the left about Trump: "You lost. Get over it. You've had over 150 years. Fuckin' babies."

Again, this shouldn't even be worth discussing. But every year, we see stories about some backwards ass fucks doing backwards ass shit to glorify inglorious assholes. And it's got a different context this year because of the surge of racist movements in this country in the era of Trumpism. In western Georgia, just last week, shit-for-brains neo-Nazis marched for shit-for-brains reasons and held a puny rally. With just 3 dozen attendees, they were dwarfed both by the number of counter-protesters and the number of police.

But then these pathetic pukes went into a field and burned a big ol' swastika. You can see photos of them drunk, hepped up on hate, and yowling like rabid dogs who can't lick their balls hard enough. And it'll make you think, "Whoa, whoa, this is 2018. I thought we got over this." Nope.

This is who we are at this moment, as we get confirmed what everyone who observed the 2016 election and its aftermath knows: that Trump voters weren't motivated by "economic anxiety" or such bullshit. They were white people motivated by fear that they will lose their status as the top of heap.

Or, you know, to shorten that, racism. It is the original sin of American society, and, if we don't do anything to hold it in check and change it, it will be our damnation.

Friday, April 20, 2018

The Comey Memos: Man, Trump's a Sad Worm

The memos of former FBI director James Comey were leaked to the press literally minutes after they were given to a congressional committee led by craven twat mite Devin Nunes. While there are some interesting things we can tease out of the details, most of the big revelations have been out there for a bit.

Still, what we get is the image of Donald Trump, our goddamn president, that confirms all the worst shit about him: that he's a self-aggrandizing buffoon, a sad worm of a man, a lump of failure, and a fucking moron. Each meeting with Comey was about Trump trying and failing to assert some alpha dog status over a man who he thought was on his side. Trump wants Comey to be grateful to him. He wants Comey to plead for his job. He wants to own Comey. And when Comey doesn't allow himself to be owned, it fuckin' drives Trump nuts.

Trump begs for Comey's approval in a way that's so pathetic that, if Trump were a dog, you'd take him to the vet to have him put down so you wouldn't have to look at how pathetic he's become. Trump talks about Bill O'Reilly interviewing him and that "O'Reilly's question about whether he respected Putin had been a hard one...He said he does respect the leader of a major country and though that was the best answer. He then said, 'You think my answer was good, right?'" Who needs that kind of validation? Someone who is used to having people around him constantly assuring him that his answers are awesome and he's awesome and every word dingleberry that shits out of his mouth is awesome.

At other points, Comey quotes Trump trying to sound tough, telling Comey, "I have been very loyal to you, very loyal, we had that thing, you know?" Comey comments about Trump's low-rent Mamet plea, "I did not reply or ask him what he meant by 'that thing.'" Although, c'mon, it's obvious that Trump thinks Comey pledged loyalty to him probably because Jared or Reince told that Comey did.

And Trump would need someone to remind him because he repeats himself again and again, which ought to be way more disconcerting than anyone is saying. He brings up Andrew McCabe at least 3 times and how he was "rough" on McCabe and his wife during the campaign. Each time, Comey says that McCabe is "a pro." Trump brings up Russia and hookers and the golden showers show a few times, so concerned for how he appeared. Let's put it this way: If you have to say, "Can you imagine me? Hookers?" or that you're "the kind of guy who didn't need to 'go there,'" then you are exactly the kind of guy who goes there and bangs hookers.

In one really weird moment, Trump says that he talks to world leaders on this "beautiful phone," and Comey describes him "touching the gray phone on his desk." It's a fuckin' phone, man. They all pretty much look the same. And in another, he relates how upset he was that Michael Flynn didn't tell him soon enough about a congratulatory phone call from Vladimir Putin after election, freaking out about it.

Nothing is really surprising anymore. It's not like we didn't know that Trump is such a sad, deranged sack of a human that if his dad hadn't been super-rich, he'd be wandering around Jamaica, Queens, in his robe, yelling at women to suck his old dick and grabbing himself constantly.

Except he's president of the United States. Shit and shit again.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

What Did That Dumb Orange Motherfucker Say Now? (Rising Sun Edition)

Whenever President Donald Trump, an anthropomorphic shart in a suit-shaped sack, gives remarks that are even a little off the cuff, it's a gut-turning embarrassment for the nation. Whatever meager failed vaudevillian patter he may muster when he's in front of an adoring crowd of yahoos dissipates into stone-cold ignorance and bluster that sounds less like the leader of the free world and more like the chief enforcer of the He-Man Woman Haters Club.

So it was yesterday down in Florida at Trump's shrine to the worst rich people in the nation, Mar-a-Lago, and his press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Trump says so much unbelievably dumbass stuff in a single appearance that it's kind of breathtaking, like he's a performance artist standing on a stage and flinging dog shit at an audience, wondering when the idiots sitting in the theatre will stop pretending it's meaningful and rush the stage to stop him.

Trump really did say, "It was a true privilege to be welcomed to the magnificent land of Japan or, as I have heard all my life, the land of the rising sun" and then followed that with "It's true," as if he just informed everyone of the secret nickname of Japan for the last 1000 years. And he really did say about American manufacture of military weapons, "And nobody, nobody makes it like the United States. It's the best in the world by far," like a desperate Fuller brush door-to-door salesman trying to convince a poor farmer he needs three.

Of course, he said something to undermine the potential upcoming talks with North Korea: "If we don't think it's going to be successful...we won't have it. We won't have it." And then the word "fruitful" got stuck in his moron head because he repeated it: "If I think that it's a meeting that is not going to be fruitful, we're not going to go. If the meeting, when I'm there, is not fruitful, I will respectfully leave the meeting." Either he eyeballed a bowl of fruit in the room or it came up on his word-a-day calendar that he generally just yells, "You think you're smarter than me?" at.

And he really did give himself all the credit for the success of the Winter Olympics in South Korea: "President Moon of South Korea was very generous when he said if it weren't for Donald Trump, the Olympics would have been a total failure. It was my involvement and the involvement of our great country that made the Olympics a very successful Olympics." You ever notice there's never any such thing as a "partial failure" with Trump? It's always either the greatest success that ever successed in the history of successing because of him or, because of someone he doesn't like, it's a total failure. Obama's foreign policy, the assault weapons ban, North Korea. You get the idea. But what's even more amazing is that this numbnuts thinks that ticket sales at the Olympics, which he claims he's responsible for, are a good indication that he'll be able to make a deal with Kim Jong-un. It's not unlike saying, "Because I could make a clay ashtray, I can sculpt David."

Asked about the Mueller investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election (and other tasty matters having to do with Trump's businesses), he streamed catchphrases and sound bites ready for Steve Doocy to cream his Sans-a-belts over in the a.m.: "There was no collusion, and that's been so found as you know by the House Intelligence Committee. There's no collusion. There was no collusion with Russia other than by the Democrats or the obstructionists because they truly are obstructionists." Ya gotta love the last thing there, where he says he calls the Democrats "obstructionists" because they are obstructionists. They're Democrats. You could just call 'em that.

And then, swear to fuckin' Christ, he brought up the Electoral College again. "This was a really hoax created largely by the Democrats as way of softening the blow of a loss which is a loss that frankly they shouldn't have had from the standpoint that it's very easy for them. They have a tremendous advantage in the Electoral College and this is what it is and this is where it came from," he said, like a brain-damaged Popeye snarling, "I yam what I yam what I yam what I yam" on an endless loop. On it went, with Trump repeatedly referring to himself in the third person like some kind of goon: "There's been nobody tougher on Russia than President Donald Trump... Russia will tell you, there has been nobody tougher than Donald Trump."

You know what was great about every other president ever? They occasionally stayed out of the public eye for a while so that they didn't become utterly fucking tedious in their repetitive bullshit. This fuckin' shtick is getting so old. How can anyone find this endearing or interesting except in how fuckin' weird it all is? I could honestly say that people who supported George W. Bush were fuckers, but I understood why they did it. I don't fuckin' get this at all. I don't fuckin' get how "makin' the libtards mad" is enough for some people. It's like when some guy tells you he just loves getting hand jobs and only hand jobs from other guys. You just wanna say, "You know, there's a whole lot more to fucking than gettin' one rubbed out by strange hands."

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

When It Comes to Hillary Clinton, Oh, Just Fuck Right Off, James Comey

If I've said it before, I've said it a million got-damn times. If you didn't support Hillary Clinton because you believed in any of the made-up "scandals" from her career, from Vince Foster's "murder" to Emails of Doom to pizza pedophilia, you were the bitch of Fox "news" and the entire conservative machine that had created a narrative about Clinton that you bought into. I am not Breitbart's bitch, so I could put that aside and just consider her based on her positions and policies. (I'm not talking to anyone who didn't vote for Clinton because you disagreed with her or because you couldn't get over whatever the fuck you think happened with Bernie, which is its own kind of conspiracy theory, and, no, I don't give a shit about whatever you wanna say about that. It's very nice you believe that.)

And whatever you wanna say about why Hillary Clinton lost - bad candidate, didn't campaign in this or that state, grrr-Wall Street, grrr-war - one thing that cannot be denied is that much of the nation (although, you know, not a majority) did become the bitches of that conservative machine that runs a thrusting piston pounding the asses of the electorate with a dildo marked "Hillary=evil" or "Hillary=corrupt" and "any association with Hillary means you are evil and corrupt, too." Republicans counted on enough people gladly bending over to receive this fucking .

What we've learned now is that the former director of the FBI, James Comey, was also grabbing his ankles. In an interview with NPR's Morning Edition today, part of his "James Comey is gonna make a fuck-ton of cash" tour, Comey was questioned about why he made a statement about the conclusions of the FBI's investigation into Clinton's email server in July 2016. He admits, as he implies in his book, Higher Royalties...I mean, Loyalty, that, at least in part, he was influenced by the noise of cable news over things like Bill Clinton's visit to then Attorney General Loretta Lynch's plane on the tarmac in June 2016.

Comey says to the idea of resisting that noise, "[A] reasonable person might have done that. I think that would have been a mistake, because again it wasn't just what had happened that last week of June, it was a collection of things that led me to conclude that the general public would have serious doubts about the integrity of the Obama administration's decision to close an investigation of Hillary Clinton without transparency, given those things that had happened." And he goes on to say that he thinks that had he not spoken in July or released the letter to Congress about the "new" emails (which turned out to be nothing) discovered on Huma Abedin's computer, "I think the institutions would have been in worse shape had we done the normal thing" and not commented.

Comey told ABC's George Stephanopoulos's hair that he assumed, like everyone pretty much did, that Clinton was going to win and that, in some way, he was doing the right thing in releasing that letter because "If you conceal the fact that you have restarted the Hillary Clinton email investigation, not in some silly way but in a very, very important way that may lead to a different conclusion, what will happen to the institutions of justice when that comes out? Especially, given the world we're operating in, when Hillary Clinton's elected president? She'll be an illegitimate president, but these organizations will never recover from that."

Let's put aside the hypocrisy of Comey saying he needed to release something about these new emails, even though nothing at all had been found in them of any interest, while saying that he didn't say anything about the Trump investigation because it hadn't found anything definite yet. Let's put aside for a moment the idea of balance, that if he was gonna say a fuckin' word about any investigations of Clinton, he had an obligation to balance that with information about Trump so the American people had the full picture. Put that aside.

Instead, let's tell James Comey to just fuck right off on this. Because he might be this great and mighty public servant and FBI director, but Comey doesn't know jackshit about the very machine that's behind him, fucking him in the ass. If Clinton had won, it wouldn't have mattered if Jesus himself walked into Congress and said, "She didn't do shit." Republicans would have gone nuclear because that's the only way to justify all the Clinton hatred they based their entire election strategy on. Fox "news" would have been 24/7 on emails and every other stupid thing they could fan into a bullshit controversy. Shit, it's practically that now and Clinton ain't even president. It's all they know.

Comey thinks his gestures prevented an erosion of faith in institutions and in a potential President Clinton? You goddamned fool, these motherfuckers had over a half-dozen investigations of Benghazi because when one said, "Nope, it's all good. Sad, but good," they immediately had another going. And as for institutions, Republicans don't give a sad turtle shit about institutions. Do you think the assholes who had just prevented President Obama from making a Supreme Court choice out of pure spite and political fuckery would think twice about wrecking any agency that got in their way?

You big, dumb dickhead, the only thing that was standing between your precious institutions and their dismantling or complete politicization was the fact that a Democrat was president. Clinton would have prevented most of the shit that's happening now to the Justice Department. But you fucked it, Jim Comey.

You fucked it, and your specious fucking book tour won't unfuck it. At least own that shit. Stop saying you wouldn't have done anything differently. That just makes you another idiot who won't learn from the past.

But, then again, we should always remember: You are a Republican.

(Note: Goddamnit, I want to stop talking about the 2016 election. But we keep getting dragged back into it, like it's a cave we climb out of and then the trolls drag us back in, kicking and screaming.)

Sunday, April 15, 2018

AGD Podcast: Interview With Benari Poulten, Former Producer on The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore

Up now on the iTunes is a new episode of Another Goddamn Podcast, perfectly timed for a military strike on Syria. I talk some shit about soldiers in my family and then interview a real-life Army reservist who happens to be a funny, funny writer and comic, Benari Poulten.

Benari was a senior producer on The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore and has been in the reserves for the last 18 years. He's seen it all, from Gitmo to Iraq to Afghanistan, and we talk about it. Check it out. Subscribe, rate, review. (Looks like this is gonna be a monthly thing for now, but I'd like to get it to every 2 weeks.)

And thanks to everyone who is subscribed over at Patreon at $5 and up. You got this early, and you got an extra five minutes of the interview where Benari talked about his family's Democratic activism and the time his grandmother flirted with Ted Kennedy. Your donations have made this podcast possible.

Thanks also to Ted Kane for the opening music and the Errol Flynns for the closing tune.

Friday, April 13, 2018

End This Enraging Week with Hope: Kentucky Teachers Will Kick Your Ass, GOP

When we last left the Kentucky legislature, it had passed some pretty fucked up changes to the retirement system for teachers so quickly that no one had time to read the bill they were in. Teachers, many using their spring break, had a day of protest at the capitol in Frankfort at the beginning of the month.

Since then, Gov. Matt "Why Can't I Murder More Kentuckians By Taking Away Their Health Care?" Bevin has vetoed a budget, supported by teachers, that protected a great deal of spending on education (while getting rid of some). And he signed into law a slightly revised version of the fucked up retirement plan so that there is no longer a guaranteed income benefit (in case you didn't know, the teachers don't get Social Security) and there is an increase in health care costs, among other things. Bevin said that the teachers' union was to blame for the dissatisfaction and activism. Which, well, yeah, fucko.

So guess what happened today?


Yeah, this time teachers left the classroom for a day of action, with schools closing all over the state. And they are putting the legislature on notice that this is some shit they will not eat and they are coming for the seats. This year, all 100 House seats are up for grabs, as are half the Senate seats. "Forty-three current or retired educators are running as Democrats for the legislature," said a party spokesperson. And several Republican teachers are primarying the GOP legislators in their districts.

The message is clear: You have fucked with the wrong people.

Oh, and the pension "reform" also affects cops and firefighters.

So the Democratic Attorney General, Andy Beshear, has filed a lawsuit challenging the bill. He is joined by unions representing teachers and the police, saying that the changes to the retirement program comprise a kind of breach of contract. We shall see if this eminently logical argument makes a difference.

But next time some reporter from the New York Times or CNN heads to Trump country, women there can say, "This is what the white working class is doing now. Trying to change this bullshit."

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Erickson's Congressman: A Paradox of Our Times

I'm calling for a new phrase to enter the lexicon of political snark: "Erickson's Congressman." It's based the recent blog post by conservative wannabe-firebrand Erick "Erick" Erickson where he described wandering around a DC Safeway with an unnamed GOP member of Congress who fairly ejaculated a stream of invective and profanity about how much he despises President Donald Trump and how much Trump has wrecked the Republican Party. "If we're going to lose because of him, we might as well impeach the motherfucker," the congressman said, according to Erickson, and much, much more.

Now all over the media, people are trying to figure out who it is. Others wonder if the conversation happened at all. In other words, this congressman is in a state between existence and non-existence until he (assuming Erickson is being truthful about the sex) is revealed, either by Erickson, who has sworn he will not say, or the guy himself.

We've heard from these sources before, all these anonymous legislators and aides who tell reporters or others their true feelings about Trump, how they hate him to their core, beyond the niceties they are forced to spew, beyond their actual defense or support of him when they go on CNN or Fox. But, unless they are retiring or so senior they don't care, they remain anonymous, and thus they are objects of faith, living in the nether zone between hero and scoundrel. Oh, how we on the left love hearing that Trump can't hold a thought in his head or is in one of his idiot rages. Oh, how we love thinking about one of these anonymous voices finally saying, "Yeah, it's me. Congressman X" and bringing down this affliction of a government.

Hell, I have very few real contacts in the actual political world, to people with power or within proximity of power. But even I've heard from them that "every single Republican" (and, yes, that is a quote) knows that Trump is a dangerous dolt. Yet not a single one will go on the record.

And that's where the idea of Erickson's Congressman comes in: we don't know if he exists, but we desperately want him to exist, yet he can't exist - he doesn't exist- without giving up his anonymity. Until then, he both exists and doesn't exist, a wish and a curse at the same time. He is an absurdity, a figment of our fevered, hungry desires imaginations who might very well be real.

One thing is for sure, though. Erickson's Congressman is always a coward who cares more about his own hide than the country and the Constitution he's sworn to uphold. And Erickson, hell, all the Ericksons who remain silent about who is telling them their truth will be as complicit as their sources should this all blow up. When this all blows up.

And if it doesn't, well, Erickson's Congressman will just go on, back to being the savage conservative he always was, free of his duality, free of the conscience he pretends to have.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Finding Pleasure in the World Starting to Collapse on Trump

President Donald Trump, an angry, rotten tangerine on top of a sack of dead hogs, spoke out yesterday about FBI raid of the home, office, and hotel room (whuh?) of his lawyer, Michael Cohen. You might know Cohen as "That motherfucker? Fuck him." Cohen is like Roy Cohn except less charming in the same way that a rabid bear is less charming than a cobra.

Speaking before he surrounded himself with military leaders to pretend to be their commander, Trump went off on Special Counsel Robert Mueller and anyone who wasn't a citizen of Trump World before the filthy swamp of Washington, DC tainted their virgin white garments. "So I just heard that they broke into the office of one of my personal attorneys," Trump started, ignoring the fact that "they" is actually "we," as in employees of the Justice Department and thus the federal government. "I have this witch hunt constantly going on for over 12 months now — and actually, much more than that. You could say it was right after I won the nomination, it started," he continued. You want to tell him about the Benghazi investigations? Or that for years he accused President Obama of being born in another country? Bitch, shit's just getting good. We're not even at the climax yet.

The raid was bullshit, Trump said. "[I]t’s a disgrace. It’s, frankly, a real disgrace. It’s an attack on our country, in a true sense. It’s an attack on what we all stand for." The idea that a search warrant, signed off on by a judge and handled by a Trump-appointed US Attorney, is an "attack on our country" means that Trump couldn't give a happy monkey fuck about our country except in how much l'etat c'est Trump.

He was on a ranting tear. He attacked the investigators, calling them all "Democrats or a couple of Republicans that worked for President Obama." He wondered why no Hillary: "[T]hey’re not looking at the Hillary Clinton — the horrible things that she did and all of the crimes that were committed. They’re not looking at all of the things that happened that everybody is very angry about, I can tell you, from the Republican side, and I think even the independent side."

Think about that for a second. He wants to know why they're not investigating someone who isn't in government anymore, who was thoroughly investigated, and about whom an investigation is still percolating even though there isn't a goddamn thing to investigate except how stolen emails got to the Trump campaign. But, mostly, think about how disgustingly self-pitying that is. "Why aren't you looking into this thing the man on the TV told me is bad when he told me I am good?" Trump is saying. "Why you no believe man in TV? I like man in TV. And other man in TV. And pretty lady in TV."

Then the mental breakdown of the cornered rat started to occur as his brain just started to dump shit in random bursts of words. Seriously, this is the president of the goddamn United States, and he's like a skeevy john trying to explain to cops that they shouldn't arrest him when there are murderers out there: "[T]hey don’t even bother looking. And the other side is where there are crimes, and those crimes are obvious. Lies, under oath, all over the place. Emails that are knocked out, that are acid-washed and deleted. Nobody has ever seen — 33,000 emails are deleted after getting a subpoena for Congress, and nobody bothers looking at that."

Goddamn, you want this to be more satisfying, doncha? Shouldn't we be rejoicing a bit, texting our friends gifs of people saying, "Nice" or "Oh, hell, yeah." Except for every little bit of celebration, we think, "But what if, after all this, the dickhole gets away with it?" For every delicious bit of schadenfreude, we wonder how long it'll take to clean up the shitpile he'll leave behind. Yeah, it's stomach-churning and hard to find pleasurable.

And yet...

"The F.B.I. agents who raided the office of President Trump’s personal lawyer on Monday were looking for records about payments to two women who claim they had affairs with Mr. Trump, and information related to the publisher of The National Enquirer’s role in silencing one of the women." That's right. According to the New York Times, the raid was about Trump's wandering dick and everything his pathetic thug-wannabe lawyer tried to do to shut women up about his dick.

So while Trump was ranting about "They found no collusion whatsoever with Russia. The reason they found it is there was no collusion at all. No collusion," the Southern District of New York, led by a Rudy Giuliani crony, had the FBI tear up Cohen's shit because of suspicion that Trump and Cohen were lying about something to do with Trump's adulterous dick. Russia may have little to do with this particular raid.

So Donald Trump may end up being crushed by walls made of pussy. Michael Cohen may be wrecked by women he and his boss tried to wreck. Ah, there it is. There's that satisfaction I was looking for.

Thursday, April 05, 2018

Trump's Got Border Madness and He Wants You to Get It, Too

Let's start with a statement about a number. This is from something put out from the White House, titled for idiots, "What You Need to Know About the President’s Authorization for the National Guard to Deploy to the Southern Border." The document gives a number. Two of them, really: "More than a thousand people a day and more than 300,000 a year violate our sovereignty by illegally crossing the border."

As many people on the Twitter and elsewhere have pointed out, there is a huge fuckin' difference between 1000 a day, which equals 365,000, and 300,000 a year, which is closer to an actual, reported number, 303,000 (or 800 a day). Now, here is where things get a little tricky, and by "tricky," I mean, "factual." Because, see, we don't really know how many people cross the border illegally. We can estimate, sure. What we do know is how many people the Border Patrol has apprehended at the southern border, and that's the number Trump is referring to.

Now, in that screaming, hysterical document and the screaming, hysterical order, as well as Trump's screaming, hysterical tweets, as well as the screaming, hysterical rhetoric coming from other screaming, hysterical Republicans (who are, in truth really screaming and hysterical over the possible 2018 blue wave sweeping them into the political ocean), we're told, "The situation at the border has now reached a point of crisis" because of drugs, gang members, and children (no, really, this administration has a boner for fucking over kids, especially unaccompanied minors).

The problem is, of course, of course, of fucking course, that the situation hasn't reached a point of crisis. By no stretch of whatever warped, savage imagination Trump might have is it a crisis. In fact, it's so far from a crisis, that it's goddamned laughable. You know how I know that? Because of the motherfucking numbers. From the motherfucking Border Patrol. In the year 2000, they apprehended 1,640,000 people at the border, which, by my amazing ability to do math, works out to roughly a metric fuck-ton more than 303,000. Or over 5 times as many as were apprehended last year.

And, despite the firehose of shit Trump is spraying on President Obama over the border, that number, which had been cut in two by the Bush administration, went from 705,000 in 2008 to 408,000 in 2016. The number was in the 325-425k range for the last few years of the Obama presidency. The reason it went up and down has to do with the economy in the United States, the economy and the living conditions of the countries the migrants were coming from (especially Mexico), and, yes, the strength of border security. Bush amped it up and Obama continue the amping. There are fewer apprehensions because there are fewer people trying to cross the border. It's that fucking simple. It's not a crisis. It's a relatively reasonable expectation, easily managed, not a reason to go bugfuck on the troops.

Any other reading of these numbers is merely there to het up the blood of the yahoos ahead of the midterms, to go back to the same racist well that Republicans (and, sometimes, yes, Democrats) go to time and time and time again. Brown people will always be scary to those hogs who wallow in mud puddles of white ignorance.

What about drugs? Drugs get in here by planes and ships and trucks that cross the border legally with illegal shit in them. Your National Guard members wandering around the streets of Laredo ain't gonna do shit about that.

What about violence? Yeah, drug cartel and gang violence sucks. But the only thing that even makes it on the same planet as a crisis is the proliferation of guns, which is something that the United States is doing to itself and to Mexico. You wanna do something about that? And maybe about poverty? And maybe about drug legalization?

What about caravans? Get the fuck outta here with that. Those were refugees from the fucking violence that Trump talks about. If Fox "news" and Breitbart keep screaming in your face, you get filled to your fuckin' tits with this bullshit.

Trump's gonna use this issue, though. He's gonna get in front of his idiot hordes who will hoot and holler as he dances a jig about his worthless wall, the same fuckin' hoodoo he conjures when he's whipping up the rubes, a fading rock star performing his one hit.

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Moments from a Day or Two After the Murder of Martin Luther King, Jr.

1. Duke Ellington and his orchestra were already scheduled to play his Second Sacred Concert at Carnegie Hall on April 4, 1968. Ellington was participating in a concert of religious music to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the black institution, Tougaloo College, whose choir sang during the program. Before the concert began, it was announced to the audience that Martin Luther King, Jr., had been gunned down in Memphis. The New York Times said that the gasp from the people there "almost filled the hall."

A Lutheran minister there, John Gensel, led a prayer for King and "all future civil rights movements." The only change in the program was that a solo singer, Robert Edwin, changed his song to "Oh, Who Will Answer," a hymn that contains the lyrics, "Man is sunk in dark despair/Oh, listen to the pleading cry/Oh, who will answer, 'Here am I'?"

The title of the evening was "Good News for the Modern Man."

2. All over the country, for two days, April 5 and 6, 1968, longshoremen and others at ports from Texas to Maine shut down work in honor of King. This included passenger ships and boats carrying supplies to soldiers in Vietnam. Unions for the workers had been integrated for years, with up to 50% of their membership non-white, and the presidents for the National Maritime Union and the International Longshoremen's Association issued statements calling for the shut down. The head of the ILA, Thomas Gleason, said of King, "He was a man of peace and dignity, completely dedicated to God and the brotherhood of man. It is fitting and proper, then, that we devote this time to pray that the principles that guided this great, great man continue to guide others in the movement for brotherhood to which he devoted his energies."

The work stoppage began in Elizabeth, New Jersey, at 8 a.m. on April 5. By noon, "the 90 piers of the port of New York City were sepulchral," said the Times.

3. In New Delhi, India, the parliament heard a tribute to King from Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, followed by a moment of silence. In Tel-Aviv, Israel, Prime Minister Abba Eba went on the radio to speak in honor of King. Newspapers in that country emphasized that King's murderer was white. In Beirut, Lebanon, the newspapers announced the killing with headlines like "Negro Revolt Breaks Out in America." In Rome, Italy, hundreds of students demonstrated outside the U.S. Embassy to protest the assassination.

In Austin, Texas, thousands of students marched on the state capitol, demanding racial equality, after a memorial service for King. In Madison, Wisconsin, the chancellor of the University of Wisconsin led 20,000 in a silent march. In Kansas City, Missouri, a black clerk noticed that flags on the county courthouse and city hall were not at half-mast. Within 5 minutes of his complaining, they were lowered.

4. Out of respect for King, Sammy Davis, Jr., and Louis Armstrong said they would not perform at the upcoming Oscar ceremony. Sidney Poitier and Diahann Carroll said they would not present awards, as they had been scheduled to do. Soon after their announcements, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences decided to postpone the entire ceremony for several days.

Monday, April 02, 2018

Shut It Down, Teachers. Shut It All Down

Teachers in Oklahoma and Kentucky walked out today and marched on their respective state capitols because teachers are sick and fucking tired of education being treated like a frivolous extravagance by legislators instead of the foundation of a fucking decent society. Large swaths of this country decided long ago to dick over the school systems of their states in order to cut taxes on rich pukes, all in service of a rabidly corrupt conservative ideology that sees even public education as something that only takers get so, fuck it, gut it.

In Oklahoma, you know what the teachers want? They want their schools to not be shit shacks where they don't have basic supplies to do their damn jobs. They're not striking for just a pay increase, but because school funding has been declining for a decade. For years, all over the country, we've heard about how teachers pay for things for their students and the classroom because the school doesn't have the budget. Said one kindergarten teacher today, "I work two jobs to take care of my family and be able to buy things for my classroom. The school that I work at, parents aren't able to necessarily provide all of the supplies." One high school teacher said she wasn't taking this shit anymore: "As teachers, we make it work every day. They say do more with less, we make it work. They say more kids in your class, we make it work. We do it every day, and it's time that we don't have to make it work anymore. We need to demand that they fully fund us."

And it's awesome that students are joining them. One middle school student told a reporter in Oklahoma City today, "I'm tired of using the same textbooks that are broken all the time." He said that "his math book is held together by a string and his history book is missing pages." That's bullshit, and we should be ashamed in this country that a student can't have a decent damn book.

Spending per student in Oklahoma has dropped by 30 percent in the last 10 years, down to $8000, below the national average of over $11,000. Salaries dropped to 49th in the nation, and schools have had to cut things like art and music and physical education, some even cutting the week down to four days. Teachers haven't gotten a raise in a decade, either, so the raise they got makes up for a little of it.

You know what else Oklahoma did in the last ten years? Cut income taxes, with the top rate declining by over 25%, resulting in a loss of over $1 billion in revenue, $356 million of which would have gone to education, based on spending. And then the oil industry got fucked by the natural gas boom, with no real hope of it coming back. So, yeah, shit economic policy combined with idiots in the legislature and you get a fucked budget. When a budget is fucked, the first thing they come for are the schools.

So I am thrilled that teachers are finally exhausted from this shit and are standing up to the fucked politicians and the fucked laws that say they can't strike. Suck it, motherfuckers. Teachers are shuttin' shit down. It's about damn time.

Over in Frankfort, Kentucky, many of the marching teachers are using their spring break to tell the state's dumbass legislature that they fucked up hard when they changed the state's pension system in a way that cuts benefits, and they tucked the change into a bill on sewage systems, which is just a joke in itself. That led to a sick-out on Friday. Now the protests are focused on overall spending and the upcoming budget. If the shitheel legislators dick over the schools again, it could lead to a full-on wildcat strike.

With these two red states and an Arizona strike in the offing, we're seeing a legitimate uprising in a profession whose workforce is still mostly female. They are owed respect. That is shown through how they're treated and how they're paid. And the teachers are saying that the motherfuckin' bill is past due.