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

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

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

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

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

Which gets us to the National Anthem.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Time to Do the School-Shooting Roundelay Again

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


What Did That Dumb Orange Motherfucker Say Now? (California-Bashing Edition)

So today we learned that our goddamn president, Donald Trump, the personification of a toxic hippo shit, had previously lied on his financial disclosure statements about payments to Michael Cohen and had likely known about the meeting between obvious serial killer Jared Kushner, desperate-for-Daddy's-approval Donald Trump, Jr., and some assorted Russians and other skeevy fucks. It's not that we didn't really already know this, that Trump obviously was paying back Cohen for the Stormy Daniels hush money and that no-shit, of course he knew what Russia was offering. But it's always good to have, you know, proof, or at least some kind of damn evidence that can lead to proof.

We also already knew that Trump is a racist shitheel who never misses an opportunity to be a prick to immigrants or his political opponents. And he got that opportunity in spades today with a roundtable, the sole purpose of which was to talk shit about Democrats and California, a state with a booming economy and high taxes on the wealthy that puts a lie to everything Republicans believe. The theme was that the Golden State is a "sanctuary state," just letting wild gangs of immigrants rape and pillage as they rampage across the land, leaving behind a scorched hellscape littered with bodies. You know, the apocalyptic torture porn that gets the right all hard, wet, and ready to fuck.

Trump was a blithering cockhole from the start, lying with such hyperbolic abandon that it was like someone asked him how much he's worth: "California’s law provides safe harbor to some of the most vicious and violent offenders on Earth, like MS-13 gang members putting innocent men, women, and children at the mercy of these sadistic criminals. But we’re moving them out of this country by the thousands. MS-13, we’re grabbing them by the thousands and we’re getting them out." No, we're not. About 1200 MS-13 members have been arrested since Trump started shitting in the White House. Not all of them were deported. So thousands? Fuck no.

Never one to shy from exploiting the gory details of a story in order to turn every meeting into pure propaganda, Trump regaled the group of officials from California and DC by saying, "We all remember the tragic case of Marilyn Pharis who was murdered by an illegal immigrant who had been arrested six times prior to breaking into Marilyn’s home, raping her and savagely beating her to death with a hammer." It's a horrible act, and if you don't remember it, that's because it happened in 2015. Because of delays, the trial just got going last month. And it's a little more complicated because the crime was committed by two men, one of whom is a U.S. citizen, which fucks up the narrative a bit.

As ever, Trump got stuck on a talking point and repeated it to death, as when he was referring to something recently-lambasted Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen had said. "I know what you’re going through right now with families is very tough," Trump offered, obviously referring to the DHS decision to take undocumented kids away from undocumented parents when they are caught at the border and holding them at military bases (no, really). "But those are the bad laws that the Democrats gave us. We have to break up families. The Democrats gave us that law. It’s a horrible thing. We have to break up families. The Democrats gave us that law and they don’t want to do anything about it. They’ll leave it like that because they don’t want to make any changes. And now you’re breaking up families because of the Democrats. It’s terrible." I think we refer to things like that as "The Idiot's Tautology."

Obviously, given the chance, Trump went full white supremacist when he declared, "[W]e’re taking people out of the country. You wouldn’t believe how bad these people are. These aren’t people. These are animals."

Which ones are "animals," huh, motherfucker? Are they the parents from Mexico who had three kids in the United States and were deported after living here for 30 years? Or the now-deported father from California who has been here for 23 years and was raising a son who has autism? Or another father from Michigan deported from his wife and teenage kids after 30 years here? Or the Ohio mother of 4 small kids, deported after 20 years here? The real fucking animals are the ICE agents and the White House that has set them loose.

(And, by the way, this destruction of families went on plenty during the Obama years. But at least Obama didn't try to make everyone hate immigrants.)

The event included, as any Trump roundtable does, a chance for members of the administration to get on their knees and pinch the president's tiny dick in their fingers to hold it steady for some vigorous sucking. This time, it was Tom Homan, the Deputy Director of ICE, who could lapped, "I’ve worked for six Presidents, and I respect them all. But no President has done more than you for border security and for law enforcement. I think every law enforcement officer at this table would agree with me."

Not to be outdone, snail slime-coated Stephen Miller snatched Trump's dick away from Homan and showed him how to fellate like a Hoover set on deep pile. When Trump asked him if he would like to say something, Miller took out the Chapstick, lubed up his lips, and went to town: "Just what an honor it is to be able to work for a President who has the backs of our law enforcement officers. Everything you’re doing every day is saving so many lives all across this country, and it’s just an endless honor to be a part of it, and even in any a small way. So thank you, sir."

As ever, a "roundtable" is just another circle jerk for Trump.


Trump's Racism Towards Immigrants Hurts Everyone (Even His Voters)

One of the most insidious, outright evil things I've seen from this insidious, evil bunch of shit-smelling grotesques in the Trump administration is that they are considering a change to immigration policy that would allow that a "lawful immigrant holding a visa could be passed over for getting permanent residency — getting a green card — if they use Medicaid, a subsidized Obamacare plan, food stamps, tax credits or a list of other non-cash government benefits." Even if a lawful immigrant's U.S. citizen child is on CHIP, it could lead to that child's parents not getting a green card.

This all has to do with whether or not an immigrant is "self-sufficient" or is a "public charge," that is, needing help from the government to get by. It used to be that only if someone was receiving cash income from the government could it count against you when going for a green card. Now, it's anything that you get from the government. From the proposed rule change: "[C]ertain aliens are eligible for Medicaid or CHIP coverage or for exchange subsidies under the ACA and are permitted to purchase unsubsidized coverage through the exchange. While having health insurance is generally a positive factor in the totality of the circumstances, having subsidized insurance will generally be considered a heavily weighed negative factor." You got that? You might be eligible for health insurance for your toddler, but if you use it, you might get booted from the country for using a program that you are legally able to use.

Our fucked up attitude towards health care is merging with our fucked up attitude towards immigrants. In almost every other nation on earth, health insurance isn't even a factor in such decisions. It would be savage cruelty to give people a reason to avoid getting themselves health care. Here, you may end up having your visa not renewed because you dared to get your cancer treated.

And, remember, we're talking legal immigrants here. We're not talking about the undocumented. We're not talking about MS-13 or whatever bugaboo that our dumbass president is trying to make us shit ourselves over. We are talking people who followed all the laws and the rules, and we're saying, "Yeah, sorry. Go fuck yourselves." They're also including housing assistance and, swear to fuck, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program in the list of shit that be used against you.

Right now, the proposed rule change hasn't yet been published for public comment. But imagine the fucked up thinking that has to go into this. This is just blatant racism and xenophobia because we're saying to immigrants who come through the extensive process to get into the country that we don't give a fuck about them once they're here and will use any excuse to get rid of them. And the short-sightedness of the rule change is plainly ignorant. How is it better to have sick people who are afraid to go to the doctor walking around? How is it better that a family starves rather than goes on food stamps? If you're answer is, "Well, we don't want people like that here," then fuck you, too.

The Trump administration's immigration policies don't just have the potential to get us sick. We're getting a bunch of stories about businesses that rely on seasonal workers from foreign countries being unable to get enough employees who'll work for the shit wages they pay. That's because Trump has severely limited the number of H-2B visas that would allow "guest workers" to come here to work, say, for someone's landscaping business or crab processing company. Putting aside the exploitative nature of these jobs, it's darkly hilarious that, in almost all these cases, the business owners are Trump voters who say shit like "Trump can fix it with his pen" or "I know my president cares." No, he fucking doesn't. All he cares about is undoing Barack Obama's presidency and making this a whiter country. It's all such obvious white supremacist thinking.

Still, as much as they hate what Trump has done to their businesses, and as the effects of many of his policies will be felt as the ripples of shit like tariffs and the breaking of the Iran deal spread, these poor, deluded motherfuckers still support Trump. They'd rather believe he is some miraculous business tycoon instead of admitting that they got conned by a cheap grifter in a baggy-ass suit. They'd rather punch themselves in their own faces than say they were wrong. And they'll probably come up with a reason to blame Democrats or Obama or Hillary Clinton for the fact that they're spitting out blood and teeth.


Torture Isn't an Impediment to a Career in Washington

Please, motherfuckers. Fucking, fucking please stop acting like anything other than confirmation is going to happen with Gina Haspel.

When Barack Obama nominated John Brennan to be the director of the CIA, the vote to confirm him in March 2013 was 63-34-3. Brennan had been the third-ranked CIA official during the time of the torture used on supposed al-Qaeda detainees in the few years after 9/11, many of them completely innocent (although it doesn't matter if they were innocent or Khalid Sheikh Mohammed). He claimed he didn't like it, but he didn't actively oppose it.

Most of those voting against him were Republicans because they thought he might go soft after the Senate Intelligence Committee released its report on "enhanced interrogation," as we quaintly called torture. But voting for him were Democrats who are currently on the Senate Intelligence Committee - Ron Wyden, Dianne Feinstein, Mark Warner, and Joe Manchin - as well as independent Angus King. After the release of the report, Brennan refused to condemn the torture (except for waterboarding) and essentially said we got "useful" intel because of torture, something vigorously denied by many others.

In May 2006, the Senate voted 78-15-7 to confirm Michael Hayden as the director of the CIA, with most Democrats voting for him, including Feinstein and Warner (Wyden was a "nay" on this one). Hayden had been the Deputy Director of National Intelligence and, it turned out, had lied to the Senators during his confirmation hearing about the extent of the torture program, but his knowledge of and involvement in it wasn't an impediment to his getting the job and it wasn't an impediment for the Democrats who voted for him.

There has been no reckoning in this country for the systematic and officially-approved program of torture, including direct torture by the CIA, as well as the rendition of detainees to countries where they would be tortured. When the Senate Intelligence Committee's much-redacted report came out in 2014, it was met with outrage on the right that we'd dare question the brave souls in our intelligence community who were beating trussed up pregnant women in hopes that it would squeeze some tiny bit of info out of them. Torture, Guantanamo, and Abu Ghraib did more to create terrorism than they ever did to stop it. Listen to the incredible podcast from the New York Times, Caliphate, to hear how we were and are essentially punching ourselves in the face with the stupidity of our violence.

A real reckoning would involve an acceptance across most of the political spectrum that we were wrong. It would involve apologies and compensation. It would have involved prosecutions if Barack Obama hadn't been so misguided as to think moving on would get him some cooperation from Republicans. Instead, not only did he not prosecute, but he fucking nominated John Brennan to be CIA director.

And, of course, we have wannabe-tough politicians proclaiming how much they love torture, how we ought to torture more, how it wasn't a mistake and giant fucking wound on the decrepit soul of our fading nation.

Of course, Gina Haspel is going to be confirmed as CIA director, even though she was in charge of a CIA black site in Thailand where prisoners were tortured, even though she ordered the destruction of videos of torture in a cover-up that she laughably described as having been done because of the "security risk" of revealing the officers who were on them.

Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris admirably tried to get Haspel to answer a question about whether she thought the torture was "immoral," which Haspel evaded. But we long ago decided that we didn't care about the morality or legality of it. We long ago decided that those who participated in and all those who allowed torture to become part of arsenal in our foolish "War on Terror" might even be rewarded for their heinous actions.

So fuck it. Why not Haspel? This is who we are because we've done nothing other than wave a finger and say, "Promise us you won't torture." Which I always thought was the promise in the first place.