12/05/2016

Watch This Space

I think my head is getting back in the game.

11/23/2016

A Poem from North Dakota for Thanksgiving

"Peace Path"
by Heid E. Erdrich, an Ojibwe writer from North Dakota (now living in Minnesota)

This path our people walked
one hundred two hundred              endless years
since the tall grass opened for us
and we breathed the incense that sun on prairie
                                                             offers to sky
Peace offering with each breath
each footstep           out of woods
to grasslands plotted with history
removal   remediation                     restoration
Peace flag of fringed prairie orchid
green glow within white froth
calling a moth who nightly
seeks the now-rare scent                 invisible to us
invisible history of this place
where our great-grandfather         a boy
beside two priests and 900 warriors
gaze intent in an 1870 photo      
                                                             his garments white as orchids
Peace flag                                           white banner with red cross
crowned with thorns                       held by a boy            
at the elbow of a priest 
beside Ojibwe warriors                   beside Dakota warriors
Peace offered after smoke and dance
and Ojibwe gifts of elaborate beaded garments
thrown back in refusal
by Dakota Warriors                         torn with grief 
                                                             since their brother’s murder
This is the path our people ran
through white flags of prairie plants
Ojibwe calling Dakota back
to sign one last and unbroken treaty
Peace offering with each breath
each footstep                out of woods
to grasslands plotted with history
removal   remediation                     restoration
Two Dakota    held up as great men
humbled themselves
to an offer of peace
before a long walk south
before our people entered the trail
walking west and north
                                                           where you walk now
where we seek the source
the now-rare scent
invisible as history
history the tall grass opens for us
                                                            Breathe the incense of sun on prairie
                                                            Offer peace to the sky

11/17/2016

Like America, I'm Feeling Broken

A dear friend has a brother with Down Syndrome. This year, he voted for the first time, and he couldn't have been more excited to push a button for Hillary Clinton. After Clinton lost, my friend, his sister, asked him how he was feeling. He said, "We're having meatloaf for dinner tonight."

Goddamn, I want to have that response.

I've gotta be honest here, and feel free to call me a "pussy" or whatever you need, but very early last Wednesday morning, around 1 a.m., when I knew that it was really, truly over (although we all pretty much knew by 11 p.m.), something broke in me, to the point that I don't know how to react. In case you haven't noticed, the last week around this joint, it's been pretty messy and morose.

I have barely been able to watch any of the complicit news networks as they recalibrate to the reality of a Donald Trump presidency. And when I do, I hear things, as I did on Saturday, like a Trump supporter on a CNN panel decrying the protests because they are chanting and marching about "old news." That's right. The campaign wasn't 5 days over, but, as far as this sycophantic slug was concerned, it may as well have been years ago. "We need to look to the future," he explained.

So I watch briefly and I get pissed and then I just feel broken again. Hell, it's better than the nausea I get, triggered by Trump's voice. I'm guessing that it comes from the helplessness of the situation, the feeling that we can't change this, along with the feeling that we did this to ourselves. I knew the nation was racist and dumb. I just didn't know how racist and how dumb. Now I do.

I have thought about how ridiculously wrong so many of us had been, we who blog and pontificate and punditize, rudely or cleanly. And I was especially angry at myself for not listening to an especially wise person. That'd be me back in 2008, when I said one reason that I was supporting Barack Obama over Clinton was because "somewhere in some cellar in some Little Rock or DC mansion, there's a machine that's been whirring its gears on low for the last seven years that's getting greased up and ready to kick into full speed once more, and it's aching to chew up Clinton, ready to get sticky with her blood and bones, for once it's really chugging, that fucker needs to be fed, ready to spew once again to willing, slavering media dogs who lap up that anti-Clinton vomit like it's kibble from Walter Cronkite's ass." I knew exactly what would happen. But I let myself think that it wouldn't. And I don't blame Clinton. I blame pretty much everyone except her.

Things are gonna be bad. I believe that with the fervent faith of a crazed minister awaiting the Rapture. A fight is coming. A big fucking fight, possibly the worst in my lifetime, and I've faced down Operation Rescue, angry cops in riot gear at anti-Iraq War protests, and a raging George H.W. Bush supporter. I want to be part of that fight. But if I'm going to be in fighting shape, I gotta tap out for a little while. I gotta get my head straight and my voice and fists ready.

I'm not gonna do that spending the next couple of months writing constantly, "Boy, Donald Trump sure is gonna suck" or "Boy, that cabinet choice sure is gonna dick us all over." Because, really, we don't know how bad it'll be and what he's gonna do until his tiny moisturized, manicured orange hands are holding the reins of power. I know that it's the privilege of whiteness and maleness that allows me to pretend I can ignore the rise of the Trump-tatorship, even for short amount of time. But I want to be the best ally to others that I can be.

So, after over 13 years of almost continuous daily blogging, I'm taking a leave of absence for a while.

I'm not going cold turkey. I will probably post every now and then if something insane happens (although, c'mon, "insane" is relative at this point) or if the mood strikes.

I'll definitely still be on Twitter. And I'll be piping up on Facebook, too.

Also, if someone would like me to write for their publication (c'mon, Guardian, you know you want me), I'll pop up there.

Oh, and as long as I'm pimping myself, I've got what I think is a kick-ass new play, political and feminist as hell, if any professional theatre or group is interested in checking it out. When there are public readings, I'll let you know.

Before checking out and switching to a much lighter political diet, lemme leave you with a few thoughts:

1. I believe that the most patriotic thing that President Obama could do would be to bypass the Senate and appoint Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. The Senate has broken tradition. So should the president.

2. The members of the Electoral College have a constitutional duty to save us from someone like Trump. They would be derelict in that duty if they let him take office.

3. If Clinton had won, the next 4-8 years would have been a nightmare of impeachment hearings and endless investigations, all emails, all the time. So that's one small blessing amid the conflagration.

4. Donald Trump is in this to enrich himself and his family. Whether or not that's what he intended, it's what he will do because it's the only thing he knows how to do: make himself richer on the backs of others.

5. Trump will do everything that he condemned Hillary Clinton for and worse. And Republicans will give him a pass. This will be the most enraging part of the next couple of months.

6. You should give money to organizations like the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, the Human Rights Campaign, and others. You should make sure you donate to local groups that are helping undocumented immigrants, the homeless, the disempowered all around. And you should subscribe to things like Mother Jones and give money to Talking Points Memo. They are the good guys. They'll need all the support they can get.

That's it. I may come running back here after a short hiatus. It's entirely possible. Addiction is like that. If not, I'll be back by Inauguration Day in 2017, after this shit year has ended. We've got a nation to save but, as they always tell you, you have to put your own oxygen mask on before you can help others do the same.

I need to go wander in the desert for a while. I need to down peyote and go on a spirit journey. I need to wantonly fuck wayward bikers and lonely bartenders and rough waitresses and howl at the moon as we orgasm in the dust. I need to cook an iguana over an open fire.

And then I will come back, righteous rage restored, pieces back together, ready to face down the motherfuckers who would break us all again and again.

11/16/2016

A Leather Slave's Return: The Inevitable Cliffhanger

Karl Rove's former leather slave was finally used to a safe life. The nightmares had lessened at last, after years of drugs and brief hospitalizations and even electroshock therapy. He was finally able to get a good night's sleep somewhere around 2013. The leather slave had belonged to Karl Rove when that pudgy demon of demographic manipulation was in the White House in most of the first decade of this terrible century. He had been kept in the basement, chained to a coffin containing the bones of William Lincoln, and Rove had routinely descended the stairs in this little-visited chamber to wreck the leather slave's asshole and to share those pleasures with whatever members of the executive branch and assorted media figures might visit. But sometime in 2008, the slave got free and had been able to stay free for the last 8 years.

All that changed on election night last week. Watching the results trickle in, watching as a man who made George W. Bush look like Albert Einstein crossed with Will Rogers beat the most qualified candidate in American history, the leather slave curled up on the couch of his apartment in Chelsea in Manhattan. "I have a life now!" he yelled at his television. "Goddamnit, I have things I've got to get done!" He thought about his boyfriend, Joey, and all his friends. He thought about his job working with an organization for LGBTQ youths and how much things had improved for them. "It wasn't supposed to be like this," he cried on the phone to Joey, who had left the sad Clinton victory party, drunk and just wanting to go home. "We were supposed to keep moving forward. I can't go back, Joe. I can't."

Joe assured him that everything would be fine. No one knew where he was. No one knew he had been Karl Rove's leather slave. He was good, Joe said.

The leather slave didn't believe Joe. He hid in his apartment for the weekend, refusing to answer the phone or texts or even go online, anything to prevent others from discovering where he lived. Then the knocks started at his door. He pretended he wasn't home. A few hours later, the knocking started again, more insistent. A few hours after that, it was rattling the whole place. "Fuck," thought the leather slave, "fuck it. Let's get this over with."

He looked through the peephole and saw them standing there - the bloated, alcoholic visage of white nationalist gorgon Steen Bannon and the polished-to-a-sharp-evil Jared Kushner. "What do you want?" he yelled.

"You know what we want," Bannon sighed, ready to get on with things. "Come on out, or we'll buy the whole building and wreck it and then drag you out."

The leather slave decided to stay strong. He knew the White House basement well. He knew what awaited him. He knew that nothing in this stupid, selfish age of stupid, selfish people would ever last more than a few years before the devil of misdirected "change" took over like a mass hysteria. He knew he was destined to become the leather slave once again.

He opened the door and took in the scabby, sore face of Bannon and the shining vindictiveness of Kushner. Kushner held a leash and a ball gag. "You can keep your clothes on until we get to the limo," Kushner said. "Then it's the assless chaps."

The ex-leather slave, now new leather slave nodded. "We're taking you back to Trump Tower first to soften you up. You might be out of practice," Bannon explained. "And then we'll decided if you're staying here or at the White House. Don't worry. His dick is way smaller than Bush's or Cheney's."

A tear slowly trickled down his cheek, but the leather slave stepped out into the hallway. "Do what you have to do," he said. "You will anyways." And then they led him to the elevator to face the descent once again.

11/15/2016

Note to President Obama: Blow the GOP's Shit Up

One of the things I have always faulted President Obama for is that, when it comes to his domestic political enemies, he has sought to give them the benefit of the doubt. Even when they greeted his outstretched hand by waving their dicks at him, Barack Obama has told us for most of his presidency that Republicans were honorable, rarely ever raking them over the coals, rarely impugning their motives, rarely calling out the motherfuckers for fucking their mothers. It has always been to his detriment that he has tried so hard not to demonize demons.

Even now, as Donald Trump bumblefucks his way through a bullshit transition into a sad, disastrous presidency (that he will inevitably get richer from), Obama has avoided confrontation. Now, you could say that Obama is such a decent man that he can sit with the orange prick who provoked some of the most racist responses to him and his family and try to teach that orange prick how to not blow the joint up. And you can look at Trump's gracious response to Obama and desperately seek some comfort in it, hoping that it indicates that Trump is taking his new job seriously.

But you're being a fool. And so is President Obama in this case.

What we know about Donald Trump is that he will lie and lie and lie. He will fart in your face and tell you it was a ghost. Breitbart will report it as real. And his idiot hordes will insist that they saw that flatulent specter. We also know that Trump will say whatever he thinks his audience at the time wants to hear. He said almost exactly that at some of his rallies, where the red hats replaced the brown shirts, testing something on a crowd and when they didn't respond, trying something else that got applause and cheers. That's his method: say whatever the fuck people want to hear, agree to just about anything that isn't legally binding (or that can't be overwhelmed by dickish lawsuits), and then do whatever the fuck he wants, fuck you if you don't like it. It's what he's doing right now by refilling the DC swamp with sewer water instead of draining it. Take that, rubes. And they will.

Trump is playing Obama. As much as you think Obama is flattering Trump's ego by respecting his election, Trump is using Obama's innate decency to legitimize his ascendance. It's frustrating as hell because Obama oughta be smarter than this.

Oh, sure, yeah, you can say that this is Obama's patented 11-dimensional chess game, that he's hoping all this attention will educate Trump and that, as a result, Trump won't gut the Affordable Care Act and other accomplishments of the last 8 years. Yeah, that ain't Trump. And any hope that Republicans will stand up to Trump is pure fantasy. Think of the most assholish thing they can do. Now multiply it by control of the entire government.

What Obama can do in his last couple of months in office is push Republicans into a confrontation. The easiest one is the appointment of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court under the idea that the Senate's failure to act is a kind of consent, a "we don't fuckin' care, do what you want." It's like when a president refuses to act on a bill within ten days while Congress is in session. It becomes a law, no? Presentment clause, motherfuckers. Let's take it to the Supreme Court for a decision.

Your Prankster Joe Biden memes are hilarious. But blowing up the GOP's naked hijacking of the Supreme Court would be the ultimate joke to play on these America-hating bastards.

11/14/2016

American Eclipse, Part 4: Your White "Pain" Can Go Fuck Itself

It hasn't stopped yet, this constant thrum of voices telling us that we need to "understand" the "pain" and the "fear" of Trump voters. "We," in this case, are the ones who look at those Americans and see the most loathsome versions of ourselves, the ill-informed, the overly credulous, the willing patsies, the greedy marks, the covetous fools, and the racist shits. In order to move ahead, we must reach out to this group, we're told, that we, who supported the auto industry bailout and health care and food stamps and job retraining and addiction services, we whose liberal policies kept them from flat out dying, we are the ones who didn't get it. What a goddamned joke to tell us that we don't understand and those who tried to cut or prevent or get rid of all of those things do understand.

If a group of rabid dogs corners me in an alley in the middle of a city, the animals may take me out, but they are still dogs and I am still human. They won't let me survive because I try to pet them. (Am I comparing Donald Trump's voters to rabid dogs? Yes. Yes, I am.)

The other refrains of the weekend were the usual nonsense about what could have been done differently. Goddamn, I'm so sick of hearing about how Bernie Sanders could have beaten Trump. It's a waste of time because we have no idea how the public would have reacted to the inevitable reaming of Sanders. Hell, if we're playing Fantasy Election, you could make just as valid a bullshit argument that what really damaged Hillary Clinton was Sanders running in the first place. Think about it: most progressives might have coalesced early around Clinton and, instead of a bruising primary that ended up creating animosity among Democrats, we might have...See? It's an enormous waste of time. Do you feel any better? Of course not.

I'm gonna offer one wouldashouldacoulda that can point in a direction for Democrats: the biggest mistake that Hillary Clinton made was in choosing Tim Kaine as her running mate. Nothing against Kaine, and, yeah, yeah, the VP pick is not supposed to have that much of an effect. But it signals to groups of voters how you might end up leading. When Trump picked the odious dickscab, Mike Pence, he was telling evangelicals that they were cool with each other. Pence gave cover for a large contingent of Trump voters. By choosing Kaine, who, yeah, can speak Spanish, Clinton was mistakenly and symbolically whitening the White House.

It's time for Democrats to stop trying to appeal to a white demographic that constantly turns against it and to do everything possible to energize the non-white vote, and that means, in as many cases as it is possible, nominating and running non-white candidates. At the national level, Democrats haven't been ahead of Republicans on the white vote since 1996, when Bill Clinton got a plurality over Dole and Perot (although, you know, combined, the other two more conservative candidates got more of the white vote than Clinton).

Black voter turnout was down this election compared to 2012, which was already down compared to 2008. Obviously, having the first black candidate was a huge factor, but imagine if Hillary Clinton had picked Cory Booker or Deval Patrick as a running mate. Again, the realm of fantasy is operating here, but let's take it further. Clinton did well with the Latino vote, but she could have done better. Imagine a Julian Castro pick for vice president. For the whites who were going to vote for or against Clinton, it wouldn't have made much of a difference. But for non-whites, yeah, shitty as it is, the reality of identity politics means that it affects turnout and voting.

My friend Duke from West Virginia said something that had crossed my mind but had shoved aside as bitterness: "Fuck the white working class. Obama gave them health insurance and a chance to get new jobs and they hated him. Fuck them."

Without thinking, I immediately agreed, and as soon as I did, it made total sense. "You're right. Democrats need to abandon the white working class." By "abandon," I mean not trying to desperately court the votes of people who always vote against their best interests and against those who are trying to help them. See, Democrats don't have a working class white people problem. Working class white people have the problem. When you vote against those who are trying to help you for the very people who have harmed you, then you are not dealing with rational thought.

Yeah, that's patronizing and elitist. But nearly half of the voters in a presidential election chose the man who regularly lied to them. So you'll have to forget it if you want me to romanticize and normalize their ignorance.

By the way, that ignorance is a product of years of Republican fuckery at the local level to assure them that they do not get educated. That long game has finally paid off big time.

This is my solution, fantasy though it may be.  Devote even more resources to making sure a coalition of non-whites is united. Devote less to the hurt feelings of angry whites. Let's have this fuckin' fight for what the country is. They won this battle. Let's win the war.

11/11/2016

American Eclipse, Part 3: Into the Dark, Alone and Together

"Yeah, and jobs in sending Morse code and driving carriages are coming back, too," my West Virginia pal Duke told me this morning. He was pissed as hell about all the people around him who are absolutely sure that Donald Trump will be able to "bring back" the coal mining industry and all the jobs that go with it. They don't want to lose their way of life, they say.

"Too fucking bad," I answered. "It's lost. That's what happens. That's the way shit goes in every business everywhere." For instance, if you take pictures on film, it's an expensive, indulgent activity done just for the sake of doing it. Talk to goddamn Kodak. No one agitated for a return to film because digital photography changed an industry. (Please don't tell me about the superiority of film to digital images. That doesn't change the point.)

Duke continued, "And other places have learned that. North Carolina shifted from textile mills and tobacco to base its economy on other things." (Note: I'm calling him "Duke" because I know that it'll irk the hell out of him. He's a UNC grad.) He went on to explain that as China moves to greater reliance on renewable, clean energy like solar and wind, far outpacing the United States in that area, demand for coal has plunged worldwide. In fact, China is overwhelming its grid with wind and solar power so quickly that it has had to slow down a bit. T

Of more direct impact on the U.S.  is the mismanagement of the entire coal industry by its corporations, not to mention the explosion of fracking giving us cheap "natural" gas. Forget it. Coal is fucking dead. "I'd love a job doing Morse code," Duke reiterated. And he would. He knows how to send messages in Morse code, which will be handy in the inevitable future of a Trump-fucked hellscape.

Then we turned, as it's impossible to avoid, to talking about the white working class voters who went for Trump. "Fuck 'em," Duke said. See, right now in West Virginia, the Obama administration is pouring millions of dollars into job retraining programs because, you know, coal is fucking dead and the government wants to help people who need to transition out of the dying industry. "I've heard people say that they don't need to get retrained because Trump is gonna bring back the coal industry."

Except Trump is not going to bring back the coal industry unless it becomes a government-dependent entity, constantly in need of funding because it can't pay its bills. Trump was lying about coal, as he was lying about most everything he claims he'll be able to do. But his voters didn't care because what Trump said spoke to their deepest desires, like a demon promising pussy and chocolate in exchange for your soul.

You need to understand this, if you understand nothing else this week: You have no idea how bad it's going to get. Trump is going to get to ram what he wants through Congress because the members will be scared shitless of Trump's idiot hordes turning on them. The easiest way to explain how fucked we are is that I'm hoping that complete dickholes like Lindsey Graham and a couple of other Republican senators are honorable enough to leave the filibuster in place.

But I'm not sure that the filibuster will be sufficient (especially when Democratic senators from states with Republican governors suddenly get sick with radiation poisoning or something). And even if a conservative Supreme Court declares some of Trump's new laws or actions unconstitutional, I guarantee you that we will see the impeachment of one or more justices.

All the norms are gone now. Everything you thought about how the government ought to be run is going to get thrown out onto its ass. You are going to see citizens dragged before congressional committees in order to face interrogation for being Muslim. You are going to see immigrants turned into scapegoats for anything that Trump wants to do that fails. You are going to see an even greater proliferation of illegal guns and the rolling back of civil rights and environmental regulations and financial industry restrictions and food safety measures. That's on top of the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

Don't fucking pretend that Trump will moderate or rise above himself. He will out-Nixon Nixon in cruelty, and he will out-Bush Bush in disastrous actions. But he will out-Reagan Reagan in making it seem like he's so goddamn great despite his cruelty, incompetence, and lies.

Ask the coal miners how it's going in a couple of years. Of course, you'll probably have to communicate with them by Morse code. And they'll probably still say Trump is awesome.