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Eric Trump continues to be himself, which is hardly pleasant for the rest of us.

Then again, this is a guy whose brother decided to help get Dear Old Dad elected by (at least graphically) allying himself with quite a few equally unpleasant people, so I guess we shouldn't be shocked at the phrase "not even people" being used by Eric.

I feel that Eric Trump is definitely a person, however.

He's also a complete idiot.
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There weren't nearly as many surprises as some people might have been expecting in James Comey's Senate testimony, but this passage makes me wonder how much Team Unintelligible was damaged by it:

After Comey's testimony, Trump's lawyer Marc Kasowitz said Comey "admitted that he unilaterally and surreptitiously made unauthorized disclosures to the press of privileged communications with the President."

As NPR's Scott Horsley reports, the lawyer also accused Comey of misstating the timing of the leak.

"Although Mr. Comey testified he only leaked the memos in response to a tweet, the public record reveals that the New York
Times was quoting from these memos the day before the referenced tweet."

In fact, Comey's timeline appears to be correct.

Trump tweeted on Friday, May 12, that "James Comey better hope that there are no 'tapes' of our conversation before he starts leaking to the press."

Comey said it was that tweet that prompted him to ask a friend to reveal the contents of the memo to a reporter the following Tuesday, May 16. The
Times ran a story about the memo contents later that day. Although the Times also reported on May 11 — before Trump's tweet — about Comey's private dinner with the president, that story made no reference to Comey's contemporaneous memos. New York Times reporters corroborated Comey's timeline on Thursday after Kasowitz's statement.

So that's it? The biggest weapon in Kasowitz's arsenal for discrediting Comey's testimony is an assertion about its timing that isn't even correct?

This is going to be a long, hot summer.

Just not for Comey, IMO.
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Of course, if you're Eric Trump you just might be like your old man in a lot of respects - none of them apparently good:

Eric Trump, Mr. Trump's second-oldest son, told Forbes all the money from the annual golf tournaments at Trump National Golf Club in Westchester County, New York benefited children with cancer, and he did not pay to use his family's golf course.

"We get to use our assets 100 percent free of charge," he told Forbes' Dan Alexander.

But IRS tax forms Forbes obtained show use of the course wasn't free after all. The for-profit Trump Organization received payments from the not-for-profit Eric Trump Foundation for use of the golf course, part of the $1.2 million that has no documented receipts beyond the Trump Organization, according to Forbes.

More than $500,000 in donations raised from the tournaments was re-donated to other charities, many of which were connected to Trump family members or interests, according to Forbes. Four such groups held their own charity tournaments at Trump golf courses at later dates. The nonprofit Donald J. Trump Foundation also donated $100,000 to the Eric Trump Foundation to cover tournament costs, money that was then redirected to Trump businesses, Forbes claims.

According to Forbes, it was now-President Trump himself who demanded that the Eric Trump Foundation be charged for the use of the golf course.


Seriously, if Team Unintelligible keeps going this way it's not like they'll need a Democratic landslide in the 2018 congressional elections to sink their administration - they're doing an incredible job of that all by themselves.
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It's not much of a surprise that President Unintelligible may have, oh, openly attempted to get his former FBI director to drop a case or two because an old buddy of his was feeling the pressure, but then again nothing that narcissistic idiot does these days surprises me much.

Now, Trump acting like an adult during Comey's testimony, that would be surprising.

Then again, perhaps not.
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If you really needed any more explanation from a source outside President Unintelligible Central about why his budget would be especially hard on scientific and medical research, look no further than the following post from the American Association for the Advancement of Science:

The double-digit percentage cuts President Donald Trump is proposing in his fiscal 2018 budget plan for science and technology programs would “devastate America’s science and technology enterprise” and weaken the nation’s economic growth, Rush Holt, CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, said Tuesday.

Pointing to the budget blueprint the White House delivered to Congress Tuesday, Holt said, the plan, if enacted, would make steep cuts to science and technology programs and “negatively affect our nation’s economy and public well-being.” He cited several agencies and programs facing particularly “severe” cuts.

For instance, the proposal calls for sharp reductions in science and technology programs, including 11% from the National Science Foundation, which champions basic scientific research across all fields except medical topics; 22% from the National Institutes of Health, the world’s largest biomedical research agency; and 44% from the Environmental Protection Agency’s science and technology programs.

“Slashing funding of critically important federal agencies threatens our nation’s ability to advance cures for disease, develop new energy technologies, improve public health, train the next generation of scientists and engineers and grow the American economy,” said Holt.

The Energy Department’s scientific research efforts also face deep cuts. Its Office of Science, the government’s central energy research agency, largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences and the home of a renowned network of national research laboratories, would be cut by 17% and its Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy would face a 69% reduction. The budget proposal also calls for the department’s Advanced Research Project Agency-Energy program to be eliminated altogether by fiscal 2019.

The Agriculture Department’s research programs were not immune to proposed reductions. Funding for the Agriculture Research Service, for instance, would shrink by 38%; the National Institute for Food Agriculture would face an 8% decrease; and the Forest Service research programs would be cut by 10%. The Interior Department’s U.S. Geological Survey, which maps the Earth’s systems to help officials monitor natural hazards such as earthquakes, volcanoes and landslides, is slated to be cut by 15%.

At the Commerce Department, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a scientific agency, which uses satellite data to forecast and track severe weather and conducts research on oceans, fisheries and climate, would see funding fall by 9%, while the National Institute of Standards and Technology that leverages measurement science to advance innovation would see a 23% decrease.

Holt stressed that the budget proposal in now in the hands of Congress where it is up to lawmakers to accept, reject or shape, a reality that was on full display when the Republican-controlled Congress restored many of the cuts Trump outlined in his fiscal 2017 budget plan.

During an afternoon press conference, Holt noted that the administration’s budget proposal deviates from how the scientific enterprise has long been viewed. “It has been regarded as an investment that leads to economic growth and human welfare,” said Holt, noting that the fiscal 2018 plan “is completely contrary to the idea of investment.”

Holt applauded Congress for “prioritizing federal research and development” when lawmakers finalized spending on May 4 for the remainder of fiscal year 2017, which ends after Sept. 30.

He called on Congress to continue to make research and development investments a priority and “to once again act in the nation’s best interest and support funding for R&D in a bipartisan fashion – including both defense and non-defense programs – in FY 2018 and beyond.”
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Although the following Washington Post editorial co-authored by Mary and Joel Rich - the parents of murder victim and current conspiracy theory target Seth Rich - was intended to stop the nonsense being spouted about the circumstances of his murder, I'm under the sad impression that it'll fall on mainly deaf ears (for one thing,opportunistic ghoul Sean Hannity didn't give up repeating it even after Fox News did, so why should he stop now?) considering who it was intended for.

Regardless of that, the editorial bears repeating - especially since this is becoming more and more like Vince Foster all over again, and for no good reason other than what only a hardened cynic might be able to dredge up in their worst imagination.

Imagine living in a nightmare that you can never wake up from. Imagine having to face every single day knowing that your son was murdered. Imagine you have no answers — that no one has been brought to justice and there are few clues leading to the killer or killers. Imagine that every single day, with every phone call you hope that it’s the police, calling to tell you that there has been a break in the case.

Imagine that instead, every call that comes in is a reporter asking what you think of a series of lies or conspiracies about the death. That nightmare is what our family goes through every day.

Our beloved son Seth Rich was gunned down in the early hours of July 10, 2016, in his Washington, D.C., neighborhood of Bloomingdale. On the day he was murdered, Seth was excited about a new job he had been offered on Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

Seth had dedicated his life to public service, and he told us that he wanted to work on the campaign’s effort to expand voter participation because he loved our country dearly and believed deeply in the promise of democratic engagement. Seth had been walking around, calling friends, family and his girlfriend, pondering the broader picture of what the job change would mean. He wondered how he would pick up and move to New York City for four months, the strain that might put on his relationships, and how it would all affect the life he had built for himself in Washington.

We know that Seth was abruptly confronted on the street, that he had been on the phone and quickly ended the call. We also know that there were signs of a struggle, including a watchband torn when the assailants attempted to rip it off his wrist. Law-enforcement officials told us that Seth’s murder looked like a botched robbery attempt in which the assailants — after shooting our son — panicked, immediately ran and abandoned Seth’s personal belongings. We have seen no evidence, by any person at any time, that Seth’s murder had any connection to his job at the Democratic National Committee or his life in politics. Anyone who claims to have such evidence is either concealing it from us or lying.

Still, conservative news outlets and commentators continue, day after painful day, to peddle discredited conspiracy theories that Seth was killed after having provided WikiLeaks with emails from the DNC. Those theories, which some reporters have since retracted, are baseless, and they are unspeakably cruel.

We know that Seth’s personal email and his personal computer were both inspected by detectives early in the investigation and that the inspection revealed no evidence of any communications with anyone at WikiLeaks or anyone associated with WikiLeaks. Nor did that inspection reveal any evidence that Seth had leaked DNC emails to WikiLeaks or to anyone else. Indeed, those who have suggested that Seth’s role as a data analyst at the DNC gave him access to a wide trove of emails are simply incorrect — Seth’s job was to develop analytical models to encourage voters to turn out to vote. He didn’t have access to DNC emails, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee emails, John Podesta’s emails or Hillary Clinton’s emails. That simply wasn’t his job.

Despite these facts, our family’s nightmare persists. Seth’s death has been turned into a political football. Every day we wake up to new headlines, new lies, new factual errors, new people approaching us to take advantage of us and Seth’s legacy. It just won’t stop. The amount of pain and anguish this has caused us is unbearable. With every conspiratorial flare-up, we are forced to relive Seth’s murder and a small piece of us dies as more of Seth’s memory is torn away from us.

To those who sincerely want to get to the bottom of Seth’s murder, we don’t hold this against you. We don’t think you are monsters, and we don’t think you are terrible people. We know that so many people out there really do care, don’t know what to think and are angry at the lack of answers.

We also know that many people are angry at our government and want to see justice done in some way, somehow. We are asking you to please consider our feelings and words. There are people who are using our beloved Seth’s memory and legacy for their own political goals, and they are using your outrage to perpetuate our nightmare. We ask those purveying falsehoods to give us peace, and to give law enforcement the time and space to do the investigation they need to solve our son’s murder.
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Again, I don't wish death on people I can't stand. However, I also refuse to fete the memory of assholes in a hypocritical manner after their passing, and I won't do it for Ailes, either.

It wasn't merely that Ailes made it possible for lunatics like Louis Gohmert or Michelle Bachmann viable forces in national politics via Fox News, but he also succeeded in making it possible - or even mandatory - for people to act like petulant 8-year-old bullies raging away on an uncontrollable sugar high in order to get elected to office. That also means that he made Donald Trump possible as well - and just look where that's gotten us all.

Oh, and then there's the entire sexual harassment thing as well, on top of all that other happy horseshit.

So if you want to see a eulogy, go look at Charles P. Pierce's. Or maybe the one from Deadspin is brutal enough.
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"This may be the year when we finally come face to face with ourselves; finally just lay back and say it—that we are really just a nation of 220 million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns, and no qualms at all about killing anybody else in the world who tries to make us uncomfortable."

-Hunter S. Thompson, about 44 years too early and 100 million Americans off, from
Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72

I'm not going to pretend to take the high road on this one, dear readers.

To say that a very large portion of my fellow American citizens have made a gigantic mistake - one that will stink to high heaven like a turd dropped unexpectedly by some Baleen whale that's mysteriously learned how to fly for years, if not decades - is an understatement. Well, some of them did. Actually, not even a majority: Hillary Clinton got something like 200,000 more votes but still lost in the Electoral College, which is precisely why that institution is looking more and more archaic and even downright dangerous since it's the second time in five Presidential elections that that's happened.

But even worse is what got elected as a result.

I could've lived with a McCain presidency or a Romney presidency. No, really. I might not have liked it, but neither one of those gentlemen was as much a toxic lump of egomania, misogyny, xenophobia and a whole lot of other various types of rotting garbage as Trump is. In my opinion, he is simply the single worst candidate for President ever put forth by a major party in the last one hundred years and may be one of the worst ever, up to and including Aaron Burr and Ulysses S. Grant. And his supporters are no prize, either. Especially these supporters.

So what do you do when you wake up and find out that someone like this is President-elect?

You could do any number of things, including crawling into a deep depression, planning on immigrating to Canada in as short a span of time as possible, or even - with some of the more despair-racked people, unfortunately - consider suicide. That last choice is an especially horrid one, especially considering the sort of worthless asshole who's inspiring such an act.

Care to guess what my answer is to all of those "solutions" is, though?

Would a sound "Fuck, no" suffice?

If Trump goes out of his way to put forth the worst parts of his nebulous - but still destructive - agenda in motion, the only solution is to fight back. Through peaceful means, of course, but if it turns out that some long, long years down the line we're looking at political mobs hired by President for Life Trump to beat down anyone who dares look at him funny at a public appearance, then some other alternatives that aren't as peaceful might have to occur instead. I don't think it'll ever come to that - the Orange Monstrosity is nothing if not adept at self-destructive outbursts that could even alienate veteran Republicans (as he did with Gordon Humphrey), but this is a very odd world we live in at the moment. It's liable to get even more uncomfortably strange as time goes on.

But I'm only being just a little alarmist about this, right?

...right?

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(Note: the first section is a slighted re-edited version of what I posted on Facebook about this odd little election of ours. The second part, however, is a repost of Jeb Lund's essay from Deadspin on the subject, because it sums up in (albeit somewhat gonzo journalism) terms what this thing was like, and why it's a sign that we need to change the political system in some way that makes cases of historical nausea like this a thing of the past. Unfortunately, I don't think we will.)

Like 1992, this was a faceoff between a Democratic candidate I didn't vote for in the primaries and someone else. That "someone else" is someone I could've lived with in 1992, though. Now the wife of the 1992 primary non-preference is running against someone who comes off as a pompous, loudmouthed, unthinking, egomaniacal and just plain unpleasant sack of shit even at the *best* of times, and I'm expected to somehow... sit here and believe this was a "choice". Sure it was. Just like you have a "choice" of drinking Tab or hydrochloric acid, or a "choice" between a Big Mac and maggot-ridden, listeria-riddled ex-meat. If this "choice" is anything like what we might have to sit through in 2020, the only thing I can think of *then* is moving to a different country where election reform laws and decades of "just because you can doesn't mean you should" experiences have shit-hammered the politicians there into something resembling civility.

Naturally, I'm hoping I don't have to do that. I don't speak Danish or Finnish, and New Zealand is one hell of a plane ride away.

People hated the 2012 presidential election, too. They publicly prayed for its end. It was irritating and stupid; the discourse was cheap and disappointing. Like every other election of our lifetimes, it was, all agreed, the most important, yet somehow comprised a handful of seemingly randomly-chosen and insipid points of contention.

This one, though—this one was a real soulfucker all the way down. This was one not just to be endured but also feared, dragging in its wake anyone unlucky enough to own a television or computer or know someone in real life who did. This was “binders full of women” replaced with people in crowds chanting “Execute her!” This was the first time in a long time that essayists using Nazi analogies weren’t just lazy bastards fumbling for nouns more evocative than their own ideas.

This one had everything: nativism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, misogyny, sexual assault allegations aplenty, and a final annihilation of all sense of shared history and foundational fact. And, on the other side, a compromised candidate whose organization trammeled the most economically promising working-class campaign in generations to deliver what is by now the Democratic Party’s sweetest platform: sheer, uncompromising terror at the alternative.

If you still enjoyed this election at the end, there was nothing left inside you to break before it started. And maybe, at its close, there’s a reason to keep going.


It took a long time to realize that people had replaced their 2012 complaints of “This is so annoying, I wish it was over,” with a far simpler and more frequent confession: “This is making me so depressed.”

Going by social media, it seemed the happiest people were those who went camping or did something to take them off the grid for days. When they returned, they all had the same feeling, voiced different ways: That a weight was gone—some imperceptible yoke around their necks lifted for just a while—before the immediacy of the campaign slammed it back down again, each day adding the burden of some new disposable atrocity.

It was that transience, the way what should have been horrifying managed to simply disappear, that felt most shattering. Donald Trump finally hacked the system in the most brutal way possible. He and his brace of vampire ministers understood the virtues of the George W. Bush meat grinder better than Dubya and company did: If you speed it up fast enough, you can throw anything in there and turn it to an unrecognizable mash of blood and bone. You just cannot reflect, cannot apologize and cannot ever pause long enough for anyone to digest it. Horror normalizes if it never stops.

Of course, Trump had help.

By any civil criteria, the first day of Trump’s campaign should have been disqualifying. His slander of immigrants as rapists and murderers should have immediately taken him out of contention for the Republican nomination, if only because he’d just jettisoned an entire potential demographic. But even that sets the critical moment too late. Years of unapologetic birtherism should have made his candidacy unviable before he glided down the Trump Tower escalator.

None of this stood out, however, among the Republican primary field. The exact people who should have encircled Trump and put him down had already been profiting for years by fostering a climate of nativism and opportunistically othering Barack Obama. To have declared Trump anathema would have disqualified the entire field of dimwitted mountebanks who had either blown the same tunes on a dog whistle themselves or already hugged, endorsed and tongue-bathed any number of more overtly malicious thugs in their midst. Besides, that stuff works.

This was the only fun part of the campaign—watching career predators tangled up and then hacked down on the same ground on which they’d seeded a dozen different prejudices for over a generation. By the time they realized they had both supplied and sanctified every odious weapon in Trump’s arsenal, it was too late. They could not turn to the media for rescue, because they had delegitimized the entirety of the mainstream media in their followers’ eyes, while praising and cultivating conservative pseudo-media reaffirming everything their voters wanted to believe.

By the time Trump cleared the Republican field, the machine was already spinning out of control, and there was nothing left to stop it. This campaign demonstrated the near extinction of journalism as a function vital to the creation of a commonwealth built on a mutually recognized past.

Journalism—especially conservative journalism—is a curated experience now; readers block extraneous and unwanted data from social-media feeds and choose outlets based on how they reflect their identities and decisions made before they’ve engaged with facts. What happened yesterday and what it could cause tomorrow become entirely extraneous to the process of dividing the world into a protective binary: that which is validating, and that which it is valid to destroy.

You’d think journalists wouldn’t care. Everyone already hates us anyway, and career scribblers are a hardy lot; you have to be to get past the sense that asking strangers about themselves is intrusive. But it is profoundly unnerving to wake up midway through a campaign and realize that your profession has in many respects epistemologically ceased to exist. It’s like being a mathematician and showing up to work one day and finding out numbers have been discontinued, except for, say, 7 (for use by Frank Black), 69 (the sex number) and 420 (Hitler’s birthday).

Nobody wants to admit it—because, between Wednesday morning and January, nearly every mainstream media outlet will start firing people to offset the plunge in traffic that follows an election, and nobody wants to give a boss an excuse to single them out—but somewhere along this 22-month slog, everyone felt the relentless futility set in.

(Anyone who didn’t feel it at some point was probably a dead-souled hack who made the election journey from behind a computer to in front of a camera and probably can’t reply to Chris Matthews when John Podesta or Robby Mook are drinking glasses of water. They know who they are, and now no one with a job outside a campaign staff will ever trust them again to even give directions.)

Why rail against the latest Donald Trump atrocity when simply waiting a day or two would see two or three more spatter across the collective consciousness like a goose shitting off a balcony? Donald Trump lies every other breath, with the mechanical dependency of a barfly sucking a Doral to offset the flavor of $2 well drinks. What, really, would it mean to unpack the most recent comment from a man liable to suddenly tell a crowd of Iowans, “We can’t let the Mexicans in, because they do donkey shows there. The women, they give them to the donkeys. It’s terrible. It’s really very disgusting, because we used to have much better donkeys, but now the Chinese fuck them”?

That sense of futility didn’t ultimately redound just on people in khakis sitting at laptops. It eventually fell on the heads of the sorts of citizens most easily and historically most often victimized. What undermined a profession also deepened and spread to undermine the sense of safety of millions of people.

Take another disqualifying moment. In any other election, naming Steve Bannon the CEO of a campaign would send it off to the turd graveyard with the swift aplomb of a toilet-flushed fish funeral. Bannon was not only executive chairman of Breitbart News—a website that made its bones on race-baiting and fraud—but he was also accused of domestic battery and of telling his wife he didn’t want their daughters going to school with Jews.

That might have been just a he-said/she-said thing, but then there’s the pesky matter of the Trump campaign’s repeated flirtation with anti-Semitism and invocation of rootless global financial interests preying on hardworkin’ white folk. A closing campaign ad dripped with enough anti-Semitic tropes that it almost echoed the sort of vivid prose regularly found in Der Stürmer and which the Breitbart Klavern of The Untalented so regularly fails to achieve, despite its best efforts.

The outrage lasted the lifespan of a mayfly; the Trump campaign did not suffer, and it did not change. But we had, in that short duration, signaled to every citizen with Jewish heritage that—here, in the 21st century, between our two parties—they could be leverage, and they could be targets, but they could not feel safe.

Or take another disqualifying moment, only slightly less evanescent, memorialized in Clinton campaign ads but normalized all the same. The tape of Trump confessing to Access Hollywood’s Billy Bush that he can get away with just grabbing women “by the pussy” should have seen him packed inside a cannon atop grapeshot and fired into iron spikes. The stream of women who emerged to confirm Trump’s account of his own violative hands should have been enough for us to salt and burn his bones.

Instead, he denied it. Then he threatened to sue. And then he brought out women who have accused Bill Clinton of sexual harassment and sexual assault, and what should have been apocalyptic outrage descended into “both sides did it” pantomime before everyone was distracted by yet another Trump claim or tweet or luxurious asininity. Even flatly granting that every Clinton accuser was telling the truth would not have been exculpatory for Trump. All it could have proved was the moral repugnance of Bill Clinton running for president today, a condition that would not have spared Trump the same judgment.

Instead, events played out like a nightmare scenario in which every watchword of women’s rights and leftist activism was put into action and on display; assuming the brainpower, it couldn’t have been assembled more nauseatingly in a Breitbart Bangbus. Flat denial, gaslighting, slut-shaming and the mob targeting of each accuser followed in rapid succession. Every woman victim of sexual violence in America got to watch as some rancid avatar of her own worst experience played out again and again and again and again on every airport TV and Facebook feed in this country—mainstreamed and unpunished, just another byproduct of our adversarial and most venerated secular tradition. This is what this nation can be: a toleration of vileness if it belongs to the other side, a frightened and constant 50% gamble that the next person you see acquiesces to the pitiless commodification and appropriation of your body.

And then there are the Latinos, demonized so early that it was easy to stomp their fears for their own safety into the ground in the mad stampede to report on the next novel Trump offense against decency.

It didn’t start with him, of course.

For years, Republicans toured desert sweat tents or nodded approvingly about nighttime city raids for “illegals,” then praised and stood for photo ops with birther/eliminationist Sheriff Joe Arpaio, America’s answer to the fat sweating Sturmabteilung meathead in every Nazi movie who hopes to one day move up the ranks to fat sweating Gauleiter.

For years, off-brand militia shitheads did weekend-warrior duty in their own White National Guard, patrolling the southwest in American “technicals”—armed yahoos in truck tailgates hunting the desert like a pack of hyenas ready to interdict “illegals” by whatever means occurred to them. And conservative think-tanker after conservative elected official after conservative media personality praised their initiative.

For years, the forces of conservatism ramped up gradually toward support of a kind of passive eliminationist cleansing, bursting into mainstream, clean-hands acceptance when Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and 2012 Republican Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney endorsed so totally immiserating, harassing and isolating undocumented immigrants that they “self-deported.”

After decades of this, Donald Trump might be the tallest toadstool, but the white, conservative revanchism that helped him grow until he broke free into daylight is the two-mile wide honey mushroom growing under the Malheur National Forest, last home to the exonerated Ammon Bundy and the gang. Donald Trump might be novel in severity, but in every other respect he was fucking inevitable. If people sow the earth with that much hatred, eventually it bears twisted fruit.

Trump’s Islamophobia was so cartoonish and so unrelenting that there isn’t a scintilla of reason or decency to mention. His treatment of the Khan family appears in Clinton attack ads. Yesterday, he spent time in Minnesota lamenting the presence of Somali refugees, pitying their state, then convincing himself and that they had fled warlords and tried to integrate in the United States only to then join ISIS. That’s efficiency.

Arrayed against all of the above were Hillary Clinton and the sex-positive and diversity-promoting Democratic oligarchy. They wanted Trump for an opponent the first moment it seemed possible, and it’s not hard to see why. Trump obviated the need for anything beyond his opposite.

Trump means never having to say you’re sorry for Libya or Iraq. Trump keeps you from parsing how an unlivable $12/hour wage is any less unjust than the current unlivable minimum. Trump allows you to sidestep potentially ratfucking Bernie Sanders after using pet incompetent Debbie Wasserman Schultz to schedule every debate at 3:20 a.m. on Leap Day at the same time as a mandatory civil-defense drill. Trump only cares that your Goldman Sachs speeches were secret and not that they were anything other than a denunciation. Trump doesn’t know what the words “carceral state” mean, and is too busy trying to expand it to ask why you helped build so much of it. Trump never leans over from the debate podium and asks you how it is that you’re the Democratic Party nominee and only started supporting marriage equality the day before yesterday.

Trump is the truest, purest dream for a party that spent the last decade and change borrowing its healthcare ideas from the Heritage Foundation and only got dragged back to a grudging recognition of its own history by a 70-year-old socialist. He is the perfect answer because none other is needed.

Beneath the aegis of every Trump atrocity is a political geography that requires no excuses other than pointing a finger forebodingly at him. He is The One. And for whatever optimism Sanders shone briefly into this shadowland, there is no unbinding the Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party from their most beloved scenario—where it does not matter that we do not believe what we say, where it does not matter that we will not try to achieve a tenth of what we pledge, where it does not matter that our dreams of economic justice are so marginal and parsimonious that they would have seemed retrograde at the start of our grandparents’ generation: for there, on the other side, is the monster.

What incredible luck that this time it wasn’t an exaggeration.


Donald Trump is going to get his shit stomped, driven frantically up into his tower redoubt by a woman crowdsurfing a mob of other women, non-whites, and gay people. He is one on-air pantsing away from living out every jock-bully’s apex high school anxiety dream. The only questions now are whether he tries to inflame a white-supremacist terror and when the help will find him slumped in a plated-gold shower after a late-night snack on the contents of his medicine cabinet. His aides can burn the body so Barack Obama doesn’t take it back to the Black Kremlin.

For the rest of us—after the longest, lowest descent into the least of us, led by a meringue-haired shit-for-brains Virgil into his phantasmic subterranean Mall of America—there is something like a haze of light at the top corner of the chamber.

To borrow a bit from Brooklyn College political science professor Corey Robin, Trump is what happens when a party defined by opposition and negation has expended its enemies and not found new ones around which to reify itself. Labor is hobbled. Busing and integration halted. The social safety net shattered and is now riven with market-forces and private-charity solutions. There are fewer dragons left to slay and, for now, only greater severity in loathing those few things that cannot be eradicated.

You can go broke betting on the dissolution of the Republican Party, and many bright establishment minds did just so in 1964, only to watch conservatism remake and unmake this country for the next 40 years. It will not happen now either.

But we are on the verge of a greater realignment, for both parties. At least for a time, one will be spun out into disaggregated vortices of well-nurtured hatreds, each overseen by different opportunistic frauds promoting various competing bigotries and fears, until enough years pass that it all can coalesce into a more traditionally Republican and focused loathing: Ted Cruz devouring the religious protections of the First Amendment like a goat gnawing discarded soup cans, Marco Rubio weeping simpering salt tears while sucking the blood out of a public school, each eyeing the other suspiciously until slammed together into some mutant DNA of a more perfect subhuman.

And, on the left, even if we do not see a “reconstitution of organized labor as a multiracial and intersectional movement of men and women,” even if years of organizing among Latino voters for get-out-the-vote does not translate into real solidarity with those on the ground, and even if we do not immediately withdraw from the “serious” political brinksmanship with conservatism that defines cowardice as only drone-bombing on odd-numbered days, there are two things from which to take heart.

First, Hillary Clinton will very likely prove to be the most conservative Democratic candidate for a generation.

Second, everything everyone has endured this campaign, every degradation of the human spirit, every sneer at women and blacks and Latinos and Jews and Muslims—all that used to win presidential elections. Very easily. And now, if someone wants to march across the bodies stretched across the nation’s breadth all the way to the White House, they will have to walk very long, and hard, uphill.

Jeb Lund was a political columnist at The Guardian, Rolling Stone, and Gawker Media. You can follow him on Twitter and anti-downsize him from there.

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Yes, this finally happened. Although I'd be remiss if I didn't point out earlier endings to an 88 year-long drought in 2005, much less an 86 year-long one back in 2004.

Although to be perfectly honest, I think Deadspin's take is a bit more appropriately visceral.

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I know you're not supposed to speak ill of the dead - even the ones who've given you every reason to do so - but it'd take a ridiculous degree of revisionism on my part to cast her as anything but a singularly vile individual who played the part of a politically connected small-town bigot to the hilt (more examples of which can be found here, here and here) and never, ever seemed to tire of the act.

So, no. You're not supposed to speak ill of the dead. It's just damn near impossible in this case.

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Signal boost to the Washington Post editorial "Donald Trump is a unique threat to American democracy":

DONALD J. TRUMP, until now a Republican problem, this week became a challenge the nation must confront and overcome. The real estate tycoon is uniquely unqualified to serve as president, in experience and temperament. He is mounting a campaign of snarl and sneer, not substance. To the extent he has views, they are wrong in their diagnosis of America’s problems and dangerous in their proposed solutions. Mr. Trump’s politics of denigration and division could strain the bonds that have held a diverse nation together. His contempt for constitutional norms might reveal the nation’s two-century-old experiment in checks and balances to be more fragile than we knew.

Any one of these characteristics would be disqualifying; together, they make Mr. Trump a peril. We recognize that this is not the usual moment to make such a statement. In an ordinary election year, we would acknowledge the Republican nominee, move on to the Democratic convention and spend the following months, like other voters, evaluating the candidates’ performance in debates, on the stump and in position papers. This year we will follow the campaign as always, offering honest views on all the candidates. But we cannot salute the Republican nominee or pretend that we might endorse him this fall. A Trump presidency would be dangerous for the nation and the world.

Why are we so sure? Start with experience. It has been 64 years since a major party nominated anyone for president who did not have electoral experience. That experiment turned out pretty well — but Mr. Trump, to put it mildly, is no Dwight David Eisenhower. Leading the Allied campaign to liberate Europe from the Nazis required strategic and political skills of the first order, and Eisenhower — though he liked to emphasize his common touch as he faced the intellectual Democrat Adlai Stevenson — was shrewd, diligent, humble and thoughtful.

In contrast, there is nothing on Mr. Trump’s résumé to suggest he could function successfully in Washington. He was staked in the family business by a well-to-do father and has pursued a career marked by some real estate successes, some failures and repeated episodes of saving his own hide while harming people who trusted him. Given his continuing refusal to release his tax returns, breaking with a long bipartisan tradition, it is only reasonable to assume there are aspects of his record even more discreditable than what we know.

The lack of experience might be overcome if Mr. Trump saw it as a handicap worth overcoming. But he displays no curiosity, reads no books and appears to believe he needs no advice. In fact, what makes Mr. Trump so unusual is his combination of extreme neediness and unbridled arrogance. He is desperate for affirmation but contemptuous of other views. He also is contemptuous of fact.

Throughout the campaign, he has unspooled one lie after another — that Muslims in New Jersey celebrated after 9/11, that his tax-cut plan would not worsen the deficit, that he opposed the Iraq War before it started — and when confronted with contrary evidence, he simply repeats the lie. It is impossible to know whether he convinces himself of his own untruths or knows that he is wrong and does not care. It is also difficult to know which trait would be more frightening in a commander in chief.

Given his ignorance, it is perhaps not surprising that Mr. Trump offers no coherence when it comes to policy. In years past, he supported immigration reform, gun control and legal abortion; as candidate, he became a hard-line opponent of all three. Even in the course of the campaign, he has flip-flopped on issues such as whether Muslims should be banned from entering the United States and whether women who have abortions should be punished . Worse than the flip-flops is the absence of any substance in his agenda. Existing trade deals are “stupid,” but Mr. Trump does not say how they could be improved. The Islamic State must be destroyed, but the candidate offers no strategy for doing so. Eleven million undocumented immigrants must be deported, but Mr. Trump does not tell us how he would accomplish this legally or practically.

What the candidate does offer is a series of prejudices and gut feelings, most of them erroneous. Allies are taking advantage of the United States. Immigrants are committing crimes and stealing jobs. Muslims hate America. In fact, Japan and South Korea are major contributors to an alliance that has preserved a peace of enormous benefit to Americans. Immigrants commit fewer crimes than native-born Americans and take jobs that no one else will. Muslims are the primary victims of Islamist terrorism, and Muslim Americans, including thousands who have served in the military, are as patriotic as anyone else.

The Trump litany of victimization has resonated with many Americans whose economic prospects have stagnated. They deserve a serious champion, and the challenges of inequality and slow wage growth deserve a serious response. But Mr. Trump has nothing positive to offer, only scapegoats and dark conspiracy theories. He launched his campaign by accusing Mexico of sending rapists across the border, and similar hatefulness has surfaced numerous times in the year since.

In a dangerous world, Mr. Trump speaks blithely of abandoning NATO, encouraging more nations to obtain nuclear weapons and cozying up to dictators who in fact wish the United States nothing but harm. For eight years, Republicans have criticized President Obama for “apologizing” for America and for weakening alliances. Now they put forward a candidate who mimics the vilest propaganda of authoritarian adversaries about how terrible the United States is and how unfit it is to lecture others. He has made clear that he would drop allies without a second thought. The consequences to global security could be disastrous.

Most alarming is Mr. Trump’s contempt for the Constitution and the unwritten democratic norms upon which our system depends. He doesn’t know what is in the nation’s founding document. When asked by a member of Congress about Article I, which enumerates congressional powers, the candidate responded, “I am going to abide by the Constitution whether it’s number 1, number 2, number 12, number 9.” The charter has seven articles.

Worse, he doesn’t seem to care about its limitations on executive power. He has threatened that those who criticize him will suffer when he is president. He has vowed to torture suspected terrorists and bomb their innocent relatives, no matter the illegality of either act. He has vowed to constrict the independent press. He went after a judge whose rulings angered him, exacerbating his contempt for the independence of the judiciary by insisting that the judge should be disqualified because of his Mexican heritage. Mr. Trump has encouraged and celebrated violence at his rallies. The U.S. democratic system is strong and has proved resilient when it has been tested before. We have faith in it. But to elect Mr. Trump would be to knowingly subject it to threat.

Mr. Trump campaigns by insult and denigration, insinuation and wild accusation: Ted Cruz’s father was involved in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy; Hillary Clinton may be guilty of murder; Mr. Obama is a traitor who wants Muslims to attack. The Republican Party has moved the lunatic fringe onto center stage, with discourse that renders impossible the kind of substantive debate upon which any civil democracy depends.

Most responsible Republican leaders know all this to be true; that is why Mr. Trump had to rely so heavily on testimonials by relatives and employees during this week’s Republican convention. With one exception (Bob Dole), the living Republican presidents and presidential nominees of the past three decades all stayed away. But most current officeholders, even those who declared Mr. Trump to be an unthinkable choice only months ago, have lost the courage to speak out.

The party’s failure of judgment leaves the nation’s future where it belongs, in the hands of voters. Many Americans do not like either candidate this year . We have criticized the presumptive Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, in the past and will do so again when warranted. But we do not believe that she (or the Libertarian and Green party candidates, for that matter) represents a threat to the Constitution. Mr. Trump is a unique and present danger.

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Just when you thought the Jerry Sandusky serial molestation debacle couldn't get any worse, this particular legal tidbit get revealed and causes yet another round of "how low can you go?" on the issue all over again:

In 2014, a man testified that Penn State football coach Joe Paterno ignored his complaints of a sexual assault committed by assistant coach Jerry Sandusky in 1976 when the man was a 14-year-old boy, according to court documents unsealed Tuesday in a Philadelphia court.

Four other former assistant football coaches at the school also were aware of Sandusky acting inappropriately with boys before law enforcement was first notified in 1998, according to testimony contained in the documents.

The allegations suggest that Paterno may have been made aware of Sandusky’s actions far earlier than has previously been reported, and that knowledge of Sandusky’s behavior may have been far more widespread among the Penn State football staff than previously known.

The Post article points out that former Paterno assistants Greg Schiano and Tom Bradley denied the allegations, but those denials really might not matter all that much to Paterno's already hideously tarnished reputation:

The 1976 victim, identified in court records as John Doe 150, said that while he was attending a football camp at Penn State, Sandusky touched him as he showered. Sandusky’s finger penetrated the boy’s rectum, Doe said, and the boy asked to speak with Paterno about it. Doe testified that he specifically told Paterno that Sandusky had sexually assaulted him, and Paterno ignored it.

“Is it accurate that Coach Paterno quickly said to you, ‘I don’t want to hear about any of that kind of stuff, I have a football season to worry about?’ ” the man’s lawyer asked.

“Yes . . . I was shocked, disappointed, offended. I was insulted. . . . I said, is that all you’re going to do? You’re not going to do anything else?”

Paterno, the man testified, just walked away.

This isn't merely another dagger in Paterno's rep, though. It's also another reason to look askance at any collegiate sports program that puts its success ahead of keeping other athletes, students or even the general public safe from people like Sandusky or others who engage in criminal behavior and then get to walk away because of all the clichéd Big Man on Campus bullshit that's used to protect them even when caught red-handed. The only reason why Paterno and various other PSU functionaries allowed this to happen not merely for years but for decades is that they literally did not care about anything except winning. And that's nearly as disgusting as the actual crimes Sandusky committed.

I don't care how much money is thrown the way of NCAA programs by alumni, boosters or sports apparel companies these days; it won't save them from their worse enemy: namely, themselves. I'm now having trouble enjoying college football even when a program is apparently scandal-free, and I used to follow college sports a lot more closely than I do now. And if an AD or university president thinks that the general public is going to magically come forth and save their bacon when the next scandal erupts when even sports fans like me are getting completely sick of this shit, they're living in the same dream world where Paterno's supporters are apparently residing.

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It appears that the man with a Stoat on his head running for President has picked a very special snowflake to be a member of one of his advisory boards:

In case you might have worried that Donald Trump might not be getting top-notch policy advice, the Republican nominee released the names of his “Evangelical Advisory Board” Tuesday, and look who’s back in a position to influence American policy again! It’s Michele Bachmann, the goofy Jesus-addled former Minnesota congresswoman who retired from Congress in 2014 but never entirely left our awareness, almost like an especially bad childhood trauma.

Since leaving the House and the [*snicker!*] Intelligence Committee, Bachmann has occasionally popped up on our radar with her not-infrequent warnings of the impending End Times and thoughtful commentary on how terrorism is God’s way of getting back at Barack Obama. So now, as the wags at Raw Story put it, Bachmann “tops the list” of Donald Trump’s evangelical brain trust. It’s an alphabetical list. It’s also not clear what particular role Bachmann will fill. Possibly in exchange for her advice, Trump will do what he can to hasten the End Of Days.

Considering that this...this, uh...brain trust will also consist of the likes of James Dobson, Robert Jeffress and other very strange people extolling even stranger forms of Christianity, I have to wonder if this is an attempt to either win the general election by attracting as many likeminded weirdos as possible or an attempt to lose the general election by forcing every partially sane human being on the voter roles to vote for Hillary Clinton instead.

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Okay, the title of this post could've been more subtle. But why? Subtlety seems to be completely uncalled for in this case, since his position on killing New York's Child Victims Act is completely unfathomable even for someone pretending to constantly defend his mother church from the Great Evil Unwashed - which would seem to be everyone else on the planet:

In a vitriolic message emailed to his supporters, Catholic League President Bill Donohue celebrated the defeat of the Child Victims Act that would have made it easier for kid sex abuse victims to seek justice.

"The bill was sold as justice for the victims of sexual abuse, when, in fact, it was a sham,” Donohue wrote.

He blasted the legislation as ”a vindictive bill pushed by lawyers and activists out to rape the Catholic Church.”… (emphasis mine)

“If the statute of limitations were lifted on offenses involving the sexual abuse of minors, the only winners would be greedy and bigoted lawyers out to line their pockets in a rash of settlements,” Donohue railed. “The big losers would be the poor, about whom the attorneys and activists care little: When money is funneled from parishioners to lawyers, services to the needy suffer. “

He added that “the Catholic League is proud of its role in this victory.”

Now, you might think that calling a career wackjob who does this on a regular basis something unpleasant might suffice; but just hauling off and saying "what a turd" seems a bit insufficient. Instead, read the reply of one Stephen Jimenez:

Bill Donohue, the highly-paid spokesman and alleged Catholic who spews venom every time he slithers out of the den of thieves, says the Child Victims Act “failed” to make it to the floor of the Assembly last week because it was “a sham” and an attempt to “rape” the church.

I say “alleged” Catholic because Donohue’s contempt for child sex victims has nothing whatsoever in common with the gospel of truth and justice preached by Pope Francis - or the teachings of Jesus. I trust you, the readers, to decide for yourselves whether Mr. Donohue’s blasphemy has reached new levels of demagoguery.

Let’s start with who really committed RAPE and who the real victims. As a former altar boy who awakened before daybreak to serve daily Mass and who takes immense pride in my Catholic education at Georgetown, I’d like to provide some needed moral instruction about rape. My rape began when I was a 10-year-old boy in Brooklyn and ended shortly before I turned 14. I can’t count how many times I was abused sexually over those four years - in classrooms, coat rooms, locker rooms, steam rooms, swimming pools, showers stalls. But I do remember feeling extremely frightened when Brother Romanus, the man who raped me, took me into a locked changing room at Washington Baths on the boardwalk at Coney Island. Not once, but many times.

But even if he read that, would Donohue care?

Probably not. He's shown where his real interests lie.

He may not think it's a gutter, but it is.

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So, then: in the wake of a horrible tragedy, you knew that the nuts would be coming out in force, right? And that their rhetoric would be especially disgusting in light of the fact that the 49 people killed were at an Orlando gay bar, right?

Sadly, you're not going to be disappointed in those beliefs.

"Pastor" Steven Anderson's opinion on the deaths in Orlando:

The good news is that there’s 50 less pedophiles in this world, because, you know, these homosexuals are a bunch of disgusting perverts and pedophiles. That’s who was a victim here, are a bunch of, just, disgusting homosexuals at a gay bar, okay?

But seriously, Steven, tell us how you really feel:

Now let me just be real clear: I’ve never advocated for violence. I don’t believe in, you know, taking the law into our own hands. I would never go in and shoot up a gay bar — so-called. I don’t believe it’s right for us to just be a vigilante… But I will say this: The Bible says that homosexuals should be put to death, in Leviticus 20:13. Obviously, it’s not right for somebody to just, you know, shoot up the place, because that’s not going through the proper channels. But these people all should have been killed, anyway, but they should have been killed through the proper channels, as in they should have been executed by a righteous government that would have tried them, convicted them, and saw them executed. Because, in Leviticus 20:13, God’s perfect law, he put the death penalty on murder, and he also put the death penalty on homosexuality. That’s what the Bible says, plain and simple.

How very Christian of him.

Then again, consider the equally loving, Christian response of one Roger Jimenez:

People say, like: ‘"Well, aren’t you sad that 50 sodomites died? Here’s the problem with that. It’s like the equivalent of asking me — what if you asked me: ​"Hey, are you sad that 50 pedophiles were killed today?" Um, no, I think that’s great. I think that helps society. You know, I think Orlando, Fla., is a little safer tonight. ...the tragedy is that more of them didn’t die. The tragedy is — I’m kind of upset that he didn’t finish the job!

Not to be outdone in the post-Orlando hate sweepstakes are the father and son nutjob team of Walid and Theodore Shoebat. First, Walid:

Instead of complementing us, the mocking liberal Jew Sam, Seder, says that we, not the Muslim “should be under watch”.

This is how the system from media to government repays Christian converts from Islam.

Who is laughing now Mr. Seder? Boy you are dumb and I can’t feel sorry for dumb Jews.

Even when we point a stupid Jew to Evangelical Christians, they too get angry since in their view a Jew can do no evil.

The whole culture is dumber than a nail.

Liberals and gays should all screw each other. Finally I could watch TV and could care less…

The only ones moaning over fifty gays slaughtered are liberals, idiots and gay lovers.

I suppose he gets extra credit for injecting some reflexive anti-Semitism into that screed, but not to worry - his son Theodore is not to be outdone:

The sodomites who were killed in this club were not innocent people. They were not good people. They were not people who were just victims who we should just feel sorry for. It was scum killing scum.

I don’t believe in vigilantism, but I do believe in the government killing the sodomites, I do believe in the government arresting the sodomites and executing them for homosexuality. Under my rule, that sodomite club in Orlando, it would have been destroyed, it would have been demolished, bulldozed and all the bastards in there would have been arrested, tried, found guilty for homosexuality and executed.

I'm sure everyone reading this finds all of this just charming.

Other rants by the likes of Pat Robertson and (just to make the Loony Tune pool more inclusive, ultra-Orthodox fanatic) Yosef Edery are just as wonderful, but it does makes you wonder precisely how people who claim to represent a religion of love and peace - just like ISIL does, of course - have the balls to publicize such utterly barbaric, homicidal views.

It's almost as if they're making every argument against organized religion for its opponents.

Which probably wasn't their intent, mind you, but never let it be said that a complete idiot can't sustain more damage to his cause in a mere five minutes than a well-armed opponent can in a hundred years.

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(NOTE: normally I don't repost other people's work in toto, but John Scalzi's response to the mass shooting in Orlando definitely bears repeating.)

A man goes into an immigration services center in Binghamton New York, blocks the exit in the back with his car, goes through the front door with handguns, body armor and ammunition. He shoots the receptionists and opens fire on a citizenship class. He murders thirteen. This is horrific. I offer my thoughts and prayers.

A psychiatrist trained to help others with the stress of combat goes to Ft. Hood, the army base at which he is stationed, and opens fire on his fellow soldiers and some civilians, too. Another thirteen people are murdered there. Three are killed charging the shooter. Words cannot express my sorrow. I offer my thoughts and prayers.

A professor is denied tenure at the University of Alabama at Huntsville. She goes to a department faculty meeting and in that conference room pulls out a nine-millimeter handgun and shoots six people, three of whom she manages to murder. Those people were just doing their jobs and what happened to them is terrible. I don’t want to have to think about it any further. I offer my thoughts and prayers.

A truck driver in Manchester, Connecticut comes out of a company disciplinary hearing for allegedly stealing beer and starts shooting up his place of work. He murders eight people, calls his mother and tells her about it, and then shoots himself. Gun control discussions are a mess in this country and they never go anywhere productive, there’s no middle ground, and they make me tired thinking about them. I offer my thoughts and prayers.

In Tucson, Arizona, a member of Congress is meeting with her constituents in the parking lot of a supermarket, and a 22-year-old man comes up and shoots her straight in the head. A representative to Congress, can you believe that! She somehow survives, but he murders six others, ranging in age from nine to 79. That’s quite a range. Surely the attempted assassination of a US Representative will start a substantive discussion by someone. In the meantime, I offer my thoughts and prayers.

Seal Beach, California, where a man and a woman are having a custody dispute. His solution: Enter his wife’s place of work, a hair salon, and open fire on anyone there. He murders his ex-wife and seven other people, including one man not even in the salon. He is in his car in the parking lot outside the salon. Bad luck. Here’s an interesting thing: there is a sort of magical power to saying that you offer your thoughts and prayers.

Oakland, California, and at a small Christian college, a man who had been expelled for behavioral and anger management problems decides that he’s going to find an administrator he has issues with. He doesn’t find her, so instead grabs a secretary, enters a classroom and orders the students there to line against a wall. Some refuse. He shoots, reloads and shoots some more. Seven people are murdered. The shooter later says he’s sorry. The magical power of saying that you offer your thoughts and prayers is that once you do it, you’re not required to do anything other than to offer your thoughts and prayers.

In Aurora, Colorado, a midnight audience of Batman fans are half an hour into the final installment of Christopher Nolan’s superhero trilogy when a man enters the theater, clad in protective armor, sets off two gas canisters and starts shooting. Some audience members think this is a stunt tied into the film. It’s not a stunt, and the shooter, armed with an assault rife, a shotgun and a glock, murders a dozen people, ten of whom die right there in the theater. When police visit the shooter’s home, they find it rigged with explosives. The shooter placed a camera to record what happens if the police just barge in. Saying “thoughts and prayers” is performative, which is to say that just in saying it, you’ve performed an action. Prayers leave your mind and go to God. It is a blessed, holy and as such apparently sufficient thing, to offer your thoughts and prayers.

Sunday morning, and in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, members of the Sikh temple there have gathered for services and meditation and are preparing a communal meal when a white supremacist and Army veteran starts shooting, murdering six and wounding a police officer before killing himself. Did you know that Sikhs are often confused by the unknowing and possibly uncaring for being Muslim, and that the excuse of “I thought they were Muslims” is itself a sign of racial hatred? Mind you, there are people who will say to you that it’s not enough, only to offer your thoughts and prayers.

In Minneapolis, a man is called into an office by his supervisor and told he is losing his job. The man replies, “Oh, really?” and pulls out a handgun, shooting the supervisor after a struggle for the weapon, eventually murdering five others before killing himself. Indeed, people particularly expect more from lawmakers, who have the ability to call hearings and allow government studies and even change laws, rather than only to offer their thoughts and prayers.

Brookfield, Wisconsin, another hair salon, another estranged couple. The wife seeks a restraining order when the husband threatens to burn her with acid and set her on fire with gasoline. He does neither. He does, however, murder her, along with two other women. Witnesses say the wife tried to protect the others before she died. But again, even if you’re a lawmaker, with the ability to do things that could have concrete impact, you might argue that your responsibility to women being murdered by husbands, workers murdered by co-workers, religious minorities murdered by bigots, soldiers murdered by other soldiers, innocents murdered by those who are not, ends when you, in a tweet, Facebook post or press release, offer your thoughts and prayers.

A man enters an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, and with a Bushmaster XM15-E2S carbine rifle, murders twenty children, all of whom are either six or seven years old.

We pause here a moment to think about that.

Twenty children. Ages six, or seven.

And here maybe you think to yourself, this is it. This is the place and time where thoughts and prayers in fact aren’t enough, where those who only offer their thoughts and prayers recognize that others see them in their inaction, see that the convenient self-absolution of thoughts and prayers, that the magical abnegation thoughts and prayers offer, is no longer sufficient, is no longer proper, is no longer just or moral, or even offers the appearance of morality.

We pause here a moment, and wait to see what happens next.

And then they come. One after another.

I offer my thoughts and prayers.

And it keeps going.

Five murdered in Santa Monica, California by a gunman. I offer my thoughts and prayers.

12 murdered in a running firefight through the Washington Navy Yard in DC. Like a ritual, I offer my thoughts and prayers.

Ft. Hood, Texas again, for another three murdered. Like a litany, I offer my thoughts and prayers.

Six murdered in Isla Vista, California. Violence against women is horrible, and I offer my thoughts and prayers.

Nine murdered in Charleston, South Carolina. It’s unspeakable that violence against black Americans has happened like this, and I offer my thoughts and prayers.

Five murdered in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Muslims should answer for the crimes of this person, even if they do not know him or would in any way condone the action, and I offer my thoughts and prayers.

Nine murdered in Roseburg, Oregon. I offer my thoughts and prayers.

Three murdered in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Thoughts and prayers.

Fourteen murdered in San Bernadino. Thoughts. Prayers.

Fifty murdered in Orlando.

Fifty people, in a gay club, by a shooter who his father says was disgusted by the sight of two men kissing, and who news reports now tell us had pledged allegiance to ISIS.

And what do we do now, I wonder, when the victims are who they are and the perpetrator is who he is, the situation is ripe for posturing, and there’s a phrase to be used that allows one to assert maximum public virtue with minimum personal effort or responsibility?

What do we do now, when thoughts and prayers are easy, and everything else is hard?

Here is the thing: In the aftermath of terrible violence, offer thoughts, and prayers, if it is your desire to do so.

Then offer more than thoughts and prayers. Ask for more than thoughts and prayers. Vote for more than thoughts and prayers. Help those for whom thoughts and prayers are the start of their responsibilities, not the abdication of them. And as for the others, you may politely remind them of Matthew 6:5-6, and perhaps also Matthew 7:21-23. Perhaps they will see themselves in the words there. Perhaps not. They’re worth thinking on regardless.

“I offer my thoughts and prayers.”

Thank you.

It’s not enough.

It never was.

What more do you have to offer?

(From Whatever, June 12th, 2016.)

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There's an old truism that the cover-up is far worse than the crime. That definitely fits the bill with the crisis at Baylor, where a series of assaults against women by members of the football team (and others, but mainly the football team) led to the firing of head coach Art Briles and the demotion (reassignment, really) of former Whitewater prosecutor Kenneth Starr from his position as university President to university chancellor. He'll also continue to be a professor at the Baylor school of law, and all of this is especially ironic considering where he made his bones as a prosecutor:

Mr. Starr’s demotion delivered a twist to the biography of a man whose reputation was built on what many considered an overzealous pursuit of allegations of sexual transgressions by Mr. Clinton. Now he is being punished for leading an administration that, according to a report by an outside law firm commissioned by the university’s governing board, looked the other way when Baylor football players were accused of sex crimes, and sometimes convicted of them.

The report (link here) is horrifying enough, but it's made even worse by the fact that - as usual - there's already a squad of numbskulls lining up to support Briles because he is, after all, the coach. If this sounds at all familiar, it should. Because St. Joe Paterno (the greatest man who's ever lived, according to a group of similar-minded dolts) had a whole parcel of losers in the ethical behavior sweepstakes (for example John Ziegler; for another, Franco Harris) lining up to defend him in the wake of the Penn State scandal. The similarities are disturbing enough (again, the leadership teams of a major college sports program and university just sat there with their collective junk in their hands and did next to nothing about the scandal), but the added weight of attempts to coerce the victims into not reporting the assaults only made things that much worse.

And this brings up the following issue: I'm a sports fan. I'm also hardly deaf to the fact that university programs are now (and perhaps always have been) perfectly willing to put the success of their athletic programs above the safety of the general public. I guess I could be optimistic and hope that this, and Penn State, will finally sink in and that the NCAA and individual schools will stop this outright sociopathic behavior once and for all.

I could be optimistic about that.

But I'm not.    

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Via NPR.org: Donald Trump (the man who is easily identifiably by the stoat living on his head who is also running for President) loves conspiracy theories. He loves them so much, in fact, that I'm astounded he hasn't called Glenn Beck up for advice on generating them now that Weepy's candidate of choice Ted Cruz is fini.

Then again, compared to someone like Mary Lou Bruner (a candidate for - what else? - the Texas State Board of Education), he's strictly a small-timer.

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Ah, Mike Pence. No sooner does he decide to make a splash in the 2016 GOP Presidential field by signing a certain controversial bill than he finds out that a whole lot of people don't really like it, including other public officials, the major newspaper in his capital, major business executives and even the NCAA.

It's really a test of your nerves to run for President these days - especially when some of the groups you're openly pandering to are just about as nutty as a fruitcake that accidentally fell into a peanut processing plant. But hey, Pence has a solution - it's called whining. Or failing that, blaming the other guy's laws.

And just as it's a test of your nerves to run for President, laws like this and the reasons they get passed are a test of my gag reflex. Air sickness bags to the fore!

July 2017

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