Hey Men! AWARENESS: Look It Up

I spent the first 17 years of my professional life as a public school teacher. The transition to full time actor/producer was gradual, but in the early 80s, I pulled the plug on my teaching career and plunged head first into a new work life. The time I spent in public schools was filled with stories and incidents of teacher-teacher, teacher-student, and teacher-parent relationships that were discussed quietly at poker games, in the faculty lounge, and at the Legion Club after a football game, but rarely trotted out into the bright light of public exposure. As a 21 year old English teacher fresh out of college, I was aggressively pursued by a couple of 18 year old senior girls at a rural Minnesota high school. I was a fairly dim recent graduate of a men’s college, but when I finally realized what they were doing I made it clear to them that it was inappropriate, wrong, and could get them—and me– into big trouble. I knew teachers who lost their jobs because they got involved with students whose care they were entrusted with by the community. It was a boundary I was well aware of and made sure I never crossed. Some of my colleagues crossed it. They paid the price.

When I started appearing at renaissance festivals as an Elizabethan rogue in tights with a sword and an attitude, and Joe and I wrote comedy sketches that included “romantic” interactions with audience members, we did it without thinking about any contemporary ramifications of the action and dialogue. We took refuge in the attitudes and mores of the 17th century. But we became quickly aware that there were fellow male performers who were using their positions to intimidate and harass younger women actors. We took it upon ourselves to act as protectors to a couple of these girls in the Royal Court, one of whom was the daughter of a friend of ours. We talked to two of the jerks who’d been making life uncomfortable for the girls, literally threatened them, and they backed off. We should have reported them to management and had them fired, because later we found out these creeps simply found other targets. Later, as I worked more and more stages in Twin Cities theater, stories of abuse and harassment of women AND children surfaced, and continue to this day. Some of the perps have been rooted out, some have left the country, some are still working. Boards of Directors have begun to keep a close eye on behavior they used to shrug off, liability is now the watchword. Good. A financial sword hanging over their heads is as good a motivation as any.

It’s hard to find any women anywhere who don’t have a story about sexual harassment, intimidation, coercion, and otherwise shitty behavior that forced them to choose between speaking up and likely losing their jobs, or keeping silent and finding a way to survive in that environment. 60% of women surveyed say it’s happened to them, and most of them say it happened in the workplace.

That’s a clear indictment. Of men. I’ve spent forty plus years acting and directing and I’ve never had to worry about anything other than learning my lines and not tripping over the furniture. 

Things are finally changing. It’s big. Some of the men I know right now are spending time re-thinking the past and trying to recall when and where they may have been part of the problem. I’ve had my picture taken after the show with thousands of women over the years (just like Al), and the natural bawdiness of the period, the setting, the costumes, the tone, the alcohol, all contribute to a looseness and false intimacy that wouldn’t be tolerated in most work settings, but is just part of the “fun” at a renaissance festival. I wonder how many of those photos we took includes a woman who left feeling that we had crossed a line? Few, I can only hope. 

This past October at the Maryland Festival, John and I were in the middle of a late afternoon show, doing the “Doctor” sketch, and I saw a well-dressed woman in the third row, alone, watching and slowly shaking her head at various jokes and pieces of dialogue. Most of the audience was laughing hard, she wasn’t. When I went back to my trailer, I grabbed the script for that show and went through the sketch with that woman in mind. By the time I read it through, I decided to scrap it. Yes, it had some great lines, some really funny bits, but it’s basic premise was John studying to be a doctor and proving he knew what he was doing by “examining” a woman in the front row. There were too many physical references that were just not really funny, especially to the many women in every audience who had faced similar “comedy” at work and had to find a way to laugh along with the guys or otherwise brush it off.  It was like reading the script to an old vaudeville piece where a busty woman was the prop for all the big laughs. Guess I should have seen it a long time ago. Better late than never. 

Today one of my heroes, Garrison Keillor, was fired for inappropriate behavior. No details yet, but that was a stunner. I have his books, I went to college and worked and taught in the heart of Lake Woebegon. Probably the last guy I would have thought would end up on this fast-growing list. Matt Lauer was no surprise, his treatment of Ann Curry was well known in the industry and his interview with Hillary Clinton last year during the election was classic male privilege run amok. Good riddance.

Awareness is where we start. Men have never really had to take a hard look at the casual humiliations they inflict and easy-to-abuse power dynamics they play with every day. There will be more revelations to come, and I can only hope this isn’t a prophecy that turns on the prophet. This will be a long, slow change, but a change long in coming and way overdue.

–Mark

 

 

 

 

This S**t is Normal Now

by George Godwyn

November 29th, 2017

[THIS SHOULD SERVE AS A WARNING—NAZIS AREN’T HIDING ANYMORE IN THIS COUNTRY, THEY’RE OUT IN THE OPEN AND GETTIN LOUDER AND MORE BRAZEN AND MORE POLITICALLY “ACCEPTABLE.” GODWYN MAKES A CONVINCING CASE FOR RECOGNIZING HOW BAD IT HAS BECOME AND WHAT WE NEED TO DO IMMEDIATELY TO CONTAIN IT]

For going on two years now, I have been following several Donald Trump groups, alt right groups, and just general far right reactionary groups. I have seen these groups grow from 500 or a thousand people to 20,000, 30,000, 50,000, and more. 

When I joined them, I felt like something was changing, something new was happening, and I wanted to try and understand it. (as well as for an occasional laugh, it would be fruitless for me to deny that now.) Of course, it was fucking appalling. But I kept watching. I knew Trump would win the primary long before most people thought it was a possibility on the basis of what I saw in these groups. I’ve become familiar with memes and tropes and ideas common in the groups and I think I’ve gotten a fairly good grip on the culture. I’ve been pretty accurate in my predictions regarding the Trump and the hard right over this period of time, other than his victory in the general election. Because of these groups.

Since that time, when the subject of Trump, or the alt right, or neo-Nazis in conversation, sometimes I will suggest to my friends, people on the left, that they join a trump group or an alt right group, to see what’s going on in them. And I can’t remember one time offhand when the person I was talking to thought it was a good idea. (If I’m wrong, if I’m forgetting, feel free to correct me, but I can’t remember anyone wanting to.) My memory is that, to a person, anyone I know on the left who has heard the suggestion has expressed feelings somewhere in a range between lack of interest to horror, generally tending towards the latter.

So the other day I wake up to my feed full of people angry about the New York Times profile of the Ohio Nazi, Tony Hovater. I read the piece and it just seems like a profile of a Nazi to me. Completely unsurprising or notable in any way, other than its correlation with my own experience. I thought it was very well done.

Then I started reading my friend’s posts about the article, articles about the article. Apparently everyone is angry about the normalization of the Nazi in the piece.

Hey, guys. Hey, as someone who’s been watching this shit for two fucking years, here’s a little wake up, You really don’t have to worry about the New York Times normalizing Nazis because it’s too fucking late. THIS SHIT IS NORMAL NOW.

Like I said, for two years I’ve been telling people to join a Trump group, watch a Nazi website, do something to keep yourself familiar with this shit, and for two years I’ve been watching everyone ignore that advice and then act surprised when Nazis happen. Guys, THEY’RE HAPPENING. If the Times profile bothered you, if you were surprised that the Times would print something so bland about a Nazi, you just haven’t caught up to where we are. There’s just no way you would be surprised if you were really familiar with real world, ground-level, political landscape of 2017. It was spot on perfect, in execution and conception. You’re angry because you wanted the Times to treat the Nazi as though he were abnormal, but he just isn’t. You want to read about Nazis leading some sort of twilight existence, on the cultural outskirt, but THAT’S NOT WHERE THEY ARE. The New York Times didn’t normalize that Nazi. He’s normal. Journalists can’t hyperventilate at every Joe Dokes with a swastika poster, anymore. Normal people are Nazis, now. It was a perfect, accurate representation of the ordinariness, the commonness, of contemporary white nationalism and authoritarianism. It’s exactly where America is at, and if you don’t get that, you really need to.

They’ve come in and out of the libertarian group I run, they’re all over the far right pages. The people who actually call themselves Nazis are the minority, of course, and most of the people in the Donald Trump groups wouldn’t dream of referring to themselves as Nazis, right now, but they are not one iota less hateful. To be honest, they are probably more hateful than the guy the Times profiled. And half the people who wouldn’t dream of actually calling themselves Nazis are EXTREMELY sympathetic to great portions of the Nazi program. Shit, white nationalist ideas go down with barely a spoken objection in some of the straight Trump groups, quite often. They’re not problematic at all. The Overton window has shifted so far and so fast, the Nazis are in it now. It’s that fucking simple. They may be on the edge, but they’re well within the frame. The guy in the Times piece is in there, smoking a cigar, kicking back, and putting his feet on the ottoman. Again, guys – THIS IS NORMAL. THE NAZIS ARE NORMAL.

I’ve watched these groups proliferate, grow. You want to tell yourself that this is a fringe, that the worst, loudest, biggest assholes take over groups like that. That ain’t it. A couple dozen groups have become hundreds, thousands. I’ve read the comments, I’ve clicked on the profiles, and I’ve read the user info for all the perfectly nice, seemingly intelligent, well-spoken citizens cheering ICE incarcerating some sick 10-year-old, saying all Muslim-Americans should be deported, demanding football players who protest the police should be put in jail until they stop kneeling, that some reporter should be thrown in jail for asking the president an uncomfortable question, that Iran and North Korea should immediately be nuked. I’m not talking about five or six unpleasant comments on your local newspaper website, I’m talking about literally hundreds of posts with threads that are thousands of comments long, every day, in every group, exactly like this, in too many groups to count. They’re not monsters, they’re not the prison gang leader with the swastika on his neck. They’re just folks. They’re filled with hate. But they are still just folks, most of the time. This is America now.

Nobody thought Donald Trump could win the Republican primary because he was just so stupid, so venomous, and so obviously beyond the bounds of what WE tought were the cultural/political norms, but he did. No one thought he could win the election for the same reason, but he did. And he won not despite those flaws, because of them. A huge segment of the population of the United States is filled with hatred so intense they actively want a vastly more authoritarian government that will shove that hatred down the throats of the left. They want fascism. They’re hungry for it, whether they call it that or not. In the kind of Orwellian doublespeak this administration has become famous for, they call it “liberty” or “freedom” or “American values”, but they’re talking about hard authoritarianism. They’re talking about fascism. A lot of them would balk at the term, but they know what they want.

The guy in the apartment next to you thinks this country would be a lot better off if we dealt with drug users the way Trump’s friend in the Philippines does. One of your coworkers doesn’t like the term “Nazi” because his grandfather fought them, but he goes home every night and sits in front of his computer and considers whether or not some of the points Richard Spencer is making might not be exactly what America needs. The cop that gave you a ticket for speeding last night has a 14 words tattoo that he’s been hiding in the locker room for the last couple years, at least around the black officers. And the girl next to you on the bus, on the way home, she’s a fucking Nazi. I guarantee she’s a fucking Nazi.

November 8, 2016, all of us on the left and a substantial segment of the right watched in amazement as Donald Trump rode a burgeoning wave of race hatred and ideological tribalism into the White House. If you think victory has satiated this monster, you are very fucking mistaken. And if you think defeating the Republicans in 2018 or 2020 is going to stop it, destroy it, you’re delusional.

The new authoritarianism is here, it is part of the culture, and it’s making itself comfortable. Ethno-nationalism, white supremacy, hard right authoritarianism, has been back in Europe for awhile and now it’s here. Not the bad part of America you never actually visit, not some backwoods hillbilly America that we get to ignore in our little leftie bubble. Not the supermax the next county over. It’s all around you, it’s next-door, and it’s in a little town in Ohio where a nice, young, newly married couple are starting their life together.

This is something new. Remember when Bush was president, and you’d hold up a piece of cardboard and shout that he was a fascist with a bunch of your friends? Yeah, he wasn’t. Neither was Obama or Clinton or the other Bush or Reagan. They might’ve been terrible presidents, each of them. They might be terrible people. They might’ve done unforgivable things. Every single one of them was squarely within the tradition of Western liberal democracy, and so were the politics. Donald Trump isn’t. His followers aren’t. We are through the looking glass.

If the left doesn’t stop pretending these people don’t exist, pretending they’re an anomaly, pretending they will go away if the Democrats take back the house, or Mueller catches Donald Jr. red-handed, or your friend posts another meme about Donald Trump being orange, the left is going to get its fucking silly ass kicked again. It’s not going to get better overnight, and if Trump loses in 2020, trust me, I know these people – the hard right, the Trump right, the authoritarian right, is going to lose their goddamn minds. If Trump loses, it’s going to get worse. And what do you suppose happens then? What do you suppose happens when the apple pie fascists find someone capable to do the job? What happens when someone capable realizes there’s an opening? What happens when that person isn’t a fucking clown?

This is it. This is American politics in the 21st century. We are going to be fighting the lumpen neo-authoritarian right for the rest of our lives, likely. That’s the political territory. Whatever this nation’s faults in the past, it was never this before today, not in my lifetime. If it’s going to be stopped, it’s going to be stopped by people who understand what’s actually happening, not people with their heads in the sand and asses in the air. If you care, it’s time hike up your drawers, accept the facts, and familiarize yourself with the culture you’re part of, the parts of it that you’ve been trying to ignore. It’s not going away. It’s likely going to get worse before it gets better. We all need to understand what the fuck is going on before reality slaps us all in the face again, harder, with more permanent and deadlier results.

The Raging Garbage Fire in the White House

Nearly every single weekend, Donald Trump runs away from the White House in order to spend time in his private resorts and clubs. This, in turn, means he is away from his staff. This, in turn, means there’s nobody around to distract the garbage fire from the shrieking noises forever echoing around his head, and nobody around to suggest to the garbage fire that maybe he should do some presidenting instead of staring dull-eyed at Fox News all day, and so every single sodding weekend you can be absolutely assured that the garbage fire will pick up his smartphone with his stubby little fingers and start tweeting garbage fire thoughts at the rest of the world.

• On Saturday, the theoretical President of the United States attacked our free press in a way that would have been unheard of in past years.

• He followed up by promoting, to his 43.4 million followers, a transparently malevolent conspiracy theory site. Consider, for a moment, that the man theoretically in charge of our nation’s nuclear arsenal and military forces apparently lacks the mental capacity to distinguish between real and hoax news sites. Now consider that House and Senate Republicans continue to protect, defend, and endorse this obviously unfit imbecile.

• He spent Sunday morning calling for the election of a pedophile, declaring that his not-pedophile opponent “WANTS TO RAISE TAXES TO THE SKY.” Again, this is an actual supposed president saying this. It might as well become the Republican Party motto, at this point: We’ll support actual child molesters if they’ll help us cut a rich man’s taxes. Go ahead, embroider it onto a pillow. Pedophiles unite.

• He then lied about his own influence in Alabama because of course he did.

There. There ya go. Trump spent another holiday weekend being a lying, incompetent, spittle-flecked pedophile-supporting garbage fire. As he does every weekend, and in fact does during any moment of any day when he doesn’t have a staff member jingling their keys above his face to distract him.

Paul Ryan, call your office. Mitch McConnell, poke your crooked neck out of your crooked shell and take a look-see at what your party is, right now, in this moment. Grow a spine, any of you. Pretend, for one brief moment, that you give a damn.

 

–Hunter, Daily Kos

Samantha Bee on Harvey Weinstein: The Penis PSA

Sam Bee has been the sharpest knife in the night-time comedy drawer for quite awhile, but doesn’t get the press her better-known colleagues receive. Male late night hosts have been curiously silent about the Weinstein story. These excerpts from her all-out assault on the sniveling Weinstein are worth putting in a time capsule. She dedicated most of her show Wednesday night to the story that broke Hollywood. The “Full Frontal” host went after Harvey Weinstein’s response to the reports that he’d sexually harassed women the better part of two decades.

“When the scandal broke, Weinstein made an apology-like statement in The New York Post, saying, ‘I have got to change, I’ve got to grow, I know a lot of people would like me to go into a facility.’ Oh my God, I’m so behind in the slang. Is a facility what people call hell? Oh, give me a break, White Cosby, nobody asked for your ‘all about mea culpa.’ Don’t blame the ’60s and ’70s for your shitty decision making. It’s serial sexual harassment, not a Monkees tattoo.”

Bee later took aim at all men, offering sage advice for anyone looking to avoid Weinstein’s current situation. Because of the growing list of sexual harassers, Bee released “Penis PSA” to let men know the dos and don’ts involving their penis:

So I have some business advice. Fellas, I’m a big comedy star slash Hollywood executive, and I’ve found that it’s quite easy not to masturbate in front of my employees. In fact, it’s one of the easiest things I don’t do. Every day, I wake up, get dressed, take the subway to work, and then don’t masturbate in front of anyone. Next time you get the urge to masturbate, just ask yourself, “Am I in front of an employee or a colleague?” And if the answer is yes, don’t. Just don’t.

And also, while I have you here: Men, I’m sorry to break this to you, but your dick is ugly. No one wants to see your dick in any context. Even the straightest, horniest woman who loves you the most is hoping you can get it inside her without her having to look at it. So definitely don’t show it to strangers. Don’t text pictures of it to people, and don’t whip it out at film festivals. Your dick is objectively the worst thing about you. If you want to send a lady a picture of something, try your nipple, or a pinkie toe, or a favorite mole!

Don’t masturbate in front of people who haven’t specifically asked you to. And even then, stop and ask yourself, “What is our power dynamic? Is there a chance in hell that this person might only be agreeing to see my hideous dick out of fear for their career?” If so, make a good business choice and keep your business in your pants. Good talk, guys!

Tear Them Down

confederatestatue.jpg

by Hunter, Daily Kos

It’s long past time America rid itself of its monuments to Southern white supremacy. Nearly all were erected long after the war was over; few were intended purely as memorials for the band of terrorists that sought to split this nation in two over the right not only to buy, sell, breed, and kill fellow human beings as cash crop, but over the insistence that all the rest of the nation pass and maintain laws to help them do it. The rest arose as symbols of white dominance and power during the Jim Crow era. Monuments were erected in response to black Americans casting their rightful vote; monuments were erected in response to black Americans seeking to use the same doorways, and stairways, and fountains, and diners, and public places that they were barred from by southern law during the times when the rest of America found those laws, too, contemptible.

The statues of Confederate generals and monuments to Confederate “causes” arose as monuments to white rage as black American children entered the same schoolhouse doors that white American children took for granted. The Confederate flags waving in northern states or in western towns that did not exist when the battles they were supposedly honoring did not come about in a quest to reclaim a “heritage”, but to invent one; a common cause of dividing the races, a universal symbol warning black Americans that regardless of what laws had been written down, the laws in this town, or neighborhood, or street were something different.

It is long past time to tear the statues down. Not remove them. Not warehouse them, or sell them to willing bidders. It is long past time to tear them down in chunks. To take sledgehammers to them where they stand, as the residents of Berlin did to their contemptible Wall. To tie chains around them and topple them into the pavement, as the liberated has long done to the symbols of their tyrants. Break the chunks into smaller chunks; break the smaller chunks into gravel; melt down the metal and grind the stone into dust. Make sure there is nothing left to be kept as heirlooms for the shelves of racists; make sure not a scrap is left as artifact for some future murderous loser to rub and cherish as a symbol of what might have been.

As long as the monuments remain, they will exist as rallying points for the worst of society’s ills. We have seen it, over and over and over. They will be honored by greasy men whose own forefathers may have fought and died; they will bring torches, time and time again. The pasty would-be revolutionaries had no interest in the Confederacy, past or present: They rallied in service of declaring a new racist order. They chanted the slogans and wore the symbols of the perpetrators of the Holocaust. They chanted the slogans of genocide, of murder, of authoritarian purges. It was not historical societies marching to preserve a statue of the Civil War’s losing side, but white supremacists—and only white supremacists. They marched not to bring attention to a long-settled war, but alongside the flag of Nazi Germany and dozens of other symbols of would-be violent revolution.

Tear the statues down. Give the racists no quarter, no rallying point, and no hope. Tear them down with distain and contempt, without ceremony and without speeches. Simply shatter them, and salt the ground beneath if need be. Give the next aspiring church bomber or would-be race warrior nothing, not even a spot of shade.

It is not historical societies or men with pictures of their Southern ancestors rallying around the traitors’ statues. It was organized by white nationalists. It was protected by white nationalist militias. They marched with Nazis, and shouted praise for Hitler.

So tear them down.

Hurt Hawks by Robinson Jeffers

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Robinson Jeffers built this stone tower for his wife and family on the ocean in Carmel. He named it Hawk Tower, after a hawk that visited him daily as he was working on it. His poem, Hurt Hawks, was a discovery of mine in college, it struck me at the time as the most vivid, emotional exploration of life, loss, mercy and salvation I had ever read. I included it in every poetry course I ever taught in the years following. It still packs a punch today. It wasn’t till I visited his home and grounds in Carmel last spring that I made the connection between the poet, the poem, his interest in all things wild, and his oft-stated preference for wildlife over people.
 
Hurt Hawks
by Robinson Jeffers
I
The broken pillar of the wing jags from the clotted shoulder,
The wing trails like a banner in defeat,
 
No more to use the sky forever but live with famine
And pain a few days: cat nor coyote
Will shorten the week of waiting for death, there is game without talons.
 
He stands under the oak-bush and waits
The lame feet of salvation; at night he remembers freedom
And flies in a dream, the dawns ruin it.
 
He is strong and pain is worse to the strong, incapacity is worse.
The curs of the day come and torment him
At distance, no one but death the redeemer will humble that head,
 
The intrepid readiness, the terrible eyes.
The wild God of the world is sometimes merciful to those
That ask mercy, not often to the arrogant.
 
You do not know him, you communal people, or you have forgotten him;
Intemperate and savage, the hawk remembers him;
Beautiful and wild, the hawks, and men that are dying, remember him.
 
II
 
I’d sooner, except the penalties, kill a man than a hawk;
but the great redtail
Had nothing left but unable misery
From the bone too shattered for mending, the wing that trailed under his talons when he moved.
 
We had fed him six weeks, I gave him freedom,
He wandered over the foreland hill and returned in the evening, asking for death,
Not like a beggar, still eyed with the old
Implacable arrogance.
 
I gave him the lead gift in the twilight.
What fell was relaxed, Owl-downy, soft feminine feathers; but what
Soared: the fierce rush: the night-herons by the flooded river cried fear at its rising
Before it was quite unsheathed from reality.

Welcome To The Proctocracy

by Mark Sumner, Daily Kos

[Mark Sumner summarizes the week in politics and in the process coins a term that I intend to use every day whenever I reference this administration in casual conversation: The Proctocracy. Got a nice ring to it, and pointedly describes the smelly reality that has been infecting our environment since November 9th.]

 

The latest Friday dump wasn’t just news. It was Reince Priebus, who was literally left on the tarmac with neither a ride nor the keys to get his stuff back from his office. Priebus later tried to claim that he had quit before he was fired, but … it’s kind of unconvincing if you get in the car and ride out to the airport only to be booted. You just know that, in the other vehicle, Anthony Scarammuci was howling with laughter.

Scaramucci spent the week attacking Priebus and making an ass of himself to a truly astonishing degree. In just a couple of days, Mooch …

  • Claimed that Priebus had stolen a public disclosure form and given it to the media.
  • Threatened to fire his entire staff.
  • Threatened to kill his entire staff.
  • Threatened to sic the FBI on Priebus for a nonexistent “leak.”
  • Called up a reporter and delivered a foul-mouthed rant in which he attacked both Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon.
  • Admitted that he was tweeting threats for the express purpose of making Priebus angry.

At the end of that week. who was punished? Priebus. Because of course he was. This is a Proctocracy after all — government by, for, and of assholes.

There is something to be gained from this. At least Americans are getting a good look at what “business leaders” are like and how businesses are run. For decades, Americans have been fed a line of BS about how government is inefficient and corrupt while businesses are handled by enlightened leaders guided by the invisible-but-wise hand of the market.

Nope. This is what they’re like. Most businesses are Proctocracies in their purest form, run by the guys who bully, backstab, betray, undercut and cheat their way to the top. They’re exactly as wise as Scaramucci’s call to Ryan Lizza. Exactly as fairly run as Trump’s money-laundering casino.

Quiz time: One of these men worked at a young age in the wealth management division of a big investment firm, then went on to found a series of hedge funds before riding his sneer into America’s living rooms. Now, is that Anthony Scaramucci or ‘Pharma Bro’ Martin Shkreli? It’s a trick. It’s both of them.

You can’t say Trump isn’t running the government like a business. This week full of infighting and failure? That’s exactly what business is like.

The Best Tweetstorm Ever Written

Rick Wilson is a GOP strategist, and he’s had it with Trumpers. Yesterday he unleashed a tweet storm in 22 tweets that I have thoughtfully broken down into a lovely little essay.  It’s rare for me to find a conservative voice that’s articulate and has a vocabulary that reflects someone who has actually thought things through. Wilson is one of my favorite conservative voices, not just because he hates everything Kim Jong Don stands for, but because he expresses himself in something other than grunts and growls. Enjoy.

Fire Mueller. Do it. Fire Mueller.

Do it, because it’s time for the final divorce between the clickservatives and any pretense they believe in the rule of law. Let’s just get it the fuck ON and end this shabby pretense that we still live in a nation of laws.

So clickservatives, Trump fellators, fanboys, grunting MAGA mouthbreathers, SING OUT now. I really want to know. Is there anything he can do that strikes your conscience? Is there any sin, any excess, any affront? No? GOOD. That makes it easy for all of us. Just go ALL IN. Get a TRUMP logo tramp stamp. Name your kids after him. Pledge fealty for you and all the generations of your offspring. Stop pussyfooting around the edges. Come right out and say it; all you care about is that he pisses off people you hate. So come on…pledge loyalty and obedience to Trump, not America or the Constitution. You’re already SO CLOSE. Call for Mueller to be fired, Comey to be imprisoned, Wilson to be eaten by wild dogs. You’re already filled with atavistic lust for the purge, the long knives, the broken glass, the whiff of grapeshot. You excuse EVERYTHING because duh librul media or whatever bullshit fantasy you believe he fulfills. Go all the way!

So, let’s just have the supine, ten-dollar hooker clickservatives write a million “But Comey” gruntpieces for a little fig leaf. So you can pretend there’s a reason for letting Trump’s utterly obvious corruption slide, not just an excuse.

So fire Mueller. Call for it. Be on the record. While you’re at it, call for permanent immunity for Trump for all crimes. Why not? He’ll piss off the media, and that’s worth everything, right? What’s a little authoritarianism in exchange? Ohhhh, I know. You’re SO MAD someone in the media or culture doesn’t agree with Esoteric Trumpism in every detail. Is Trump honest? Is he a conservative? Is he a Constitutionalist? Does he believe in the rule of law? Embrace his utter fucking degeneracy and third-world generalissimo act. It’s the new you! Ride with it!

Trump juche is real conservatism. It’s the real path for the GOP. Forget laws and principles, and just vow eternal loyalty. So fire Mueller. Call for it. Be on the record. Let’s just get it done, because I’m sure you’re tired of all these petty laws and norms and guardrails that stop Kim Jong Don from truly Making the Democratic Peoples Republic of Trumperica Great Again. Teach your kids that the laws are for people other than the President. That’s why Donald Trump got rid of those troublesome priests. Embrace unlimited state power, the end of legal accountability, and the ruthless will to power as the only metric of leadership.

What could possibly go wrong?

–Rick Wilson

 

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Asking For A Friend

So, what do you think? Is health care—access to it, diagnostics, treatment, testing, necessary pharmaceuticals, emergency care—a right in this country or a privilege?

Asking for a friend.

I’ve had my share of health issues in my 74 years, including heart surgeries (stents), a knee replacement and prostate surgery. I have a brother who was helicoptered to a hospital in St. Cloud from his Alexandria lake home last year and they saved his life. Most of my immediate family, brothers and sisters, have needed emergency care at some point.

So I’ve reached my own conclusions on this suddenly hot topic through personal experience. I had another opportunity two days ago to think about this as I was being ambulanced to St. Francis hospital in Shakopee from the clubhouse at the Ridges at Sand Creek, one of my favorite little golf course gems here in the Twin Cities. My emergency responders were all young, earnest, extremely competent professionals, all with fairly advanced senses of humor which allowed them to give back as quick as they were given, since my first reaction in one of these medical emergencies is to crack as many jokes as possible as quickly as possible to let everyone know that I’m all right.

ME: [FROM A PRONE POSITION ON THE FLOOR OF THE CLUBHOUSE] Can you hand me my glasses before you attach those leads to my chest? I want to be able to identify you guys in case there’s a lawsuit.

EMT: Sure, and we’ll give you our names too—I’m Jenny. And that’s Bob. Now I’m going to shave a few of your chest hairs. No shaving cream though, is that OK?

I had just finished playing a round with my usual foursome, dragging myself up the 18th fairway feeling tired, slightly nauseous, and needing to lie down somewhere soon. I’d been joking that my low energy had slowed down my swing and allowed me to play a little better and that maybe I should only play when I felt sick from now on.

We parked the carts, climbed the steps into the clubhouse, and as I sat at the table I began to wonder if any of my symptoms might be cardio-related. Having had a couple of these heart incidents over the years, my first thoughts are always “Am I having a heart attack?” and “How close is the nearest EMT team?” Kelly, my playing partner for many years, said I was looking pale—did I need a ride? I was about to ask him to bring my car around so I could recline the seat and rest in the AC for a few minutes, but I didn’t get that request out—I opened my eyes and looked up at Kelly from the floor as he said “You’re OK, keep breathing. Help is on the way.” Apparently I passed out and slid off my chair right in the middle of the club’s lunch run. Embarrassing. And seeing Kelly’s face as he cushioned my head wouldn’t have been my first choice if I’d been dying.

The EMTs arrived quickly, put an oxygen mask on me, and went to work. The ambulance arrived shortly after that, they slapped some EKG leads on me after I told them my history, and they quickly determined that it didn’t look like a cardio related incident. I woke up that morning with a slightly distressed stomach and lower tract, but I dismissed it as a probable effect of the tacos the night before. The oxygen was helping, I was feeling a little better, still weak, so they gave me a choice: stay there, rest a bit, and go home on my own, or zip off with them in the ambulance to the hospital for a complete check.

My original partner and longtime friend Joe, the original SNOT in our exhaustively long-running comedy show, had a similar choice to make almost nine years ago. Ironically, he had been at a golf course, had experienced chest pains strong enough to make him sit down between holes, and had decided (despite his girl friend’s pleas to go get checked out) that whatever it was he could handle it. He wanted to finish the game, eat with his friends, and go home. All of which he did. He was supposed to meet his regular running group early the next morning for their Monday run, and when he didn’t show up, they went to his house and found him dead on the floor of his living room.

All that ran quickly through my head and I said “Let’s take a ride to the hospital, it’ll be fun. Can we play Scrabble on the way?”

This is a long trip down the page to get to my original question. But here it is. IF I wasn’t on Medicare, IF I wasn’t able to afford a good supplemental health care plan, IF I had to decide whether or not I could afford the (1) bill for the ambulance, (2) the bill for the emergency treatment, (3) the bill for the hospital emergency room treatment, (4) the bill for the tests that determined that it was safe for me to be checked out without having to worry that I’d die before I got home, (5) the miscellaneous additional bills that always result from the most expensive medical treatment we have in this country—emergency room care—IF I had to decide if I could afford all that, I would probably have turned down the ambulance ride and taken my chances.

And that, my friends, is why the CDC can predict with depressing accuracy how many people will die if the Republicans somehow succeed in removing access to health insurance for millions of people.

And that, my friends, is why I maintain, along with most everyone I know who has an ounce of empathy and common sense and the ability to relate to people who don’t have the resources they do, that access to health care—the same level of health care as I got on Tuesday—and the same level of health care that our elected representatives get every day—-should be a RIGHT, not a privilege that the accident of your birth either allows you or denies you.

Every other developed country IN THE WORLD has made that very obvious, very caring decision: that we’re all in this together, that health care is something that everyone needs eventually—like air and water—and that no one should be allowed (or condemned) to die because they couldn’t afford to see a doctor.

Market-based health care in this country is a curse we can lift if we want to. No company should be allowed to exist that grows and profits off denying people health care, and that is exactly how health insurance companies and their obscenely well-compensated executives make their money. We are still a third-world country in this regard, and it’s something that makes me cringe whenever I’m at a sporting event and have to listen to the patriotic songs and cries of “USA, USA!” and “We’re #1!”—-well, we aren’t number one. In SO MANY WAYS. You can look it up. Infant mortality rates, maternal survival during birth, cancer rates, elder care, you name it, we’re WAY down the list.

All because we haven’t had the political will—or heart—to fix this broken system.

Bernie Sanders was and is right. Medicare for all should be our ultimate goal. But it won’t happen till we take the money and bribery out of our political system, get rid of the criminals who take the bribes and vote against the best interests of our citizens, and start saving money by creating the same system that Germans and Canadians and the French and British have been successfully employing for many years.

I got checked out and my bill will be practically nothing. I can’t say the same thing will happen to friends of mine who don’t have my level of protection, and they deserve it just as much as I do. My diagnosis was a simple gastro-intestinal bug that somehow shut me down. But I’m OK and almost back to normal.

Let’s start asking every pol who asks for our vote how he or she will vote on this important, life-saving question, and if it’s the wrong answer, or if it’s a hedged answer, make it clear that not only do they not have our vote, we will actively work against them ever representing us.

It’s the right thing to do.