Good To Be A Dick’s

At last, some progress:

dick's and new york times.jpg

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You Can’t Fix “Partially Stupid,” But You Can Exploit It

I have heard several people say that the Russians, when they weren’t trying to make Tr-mp president, were “sowing” dissension and division and discord in the American electorate just to muck up the election process. Well, in most cases they were just fertilizing and watering the disunity that was already growing on fertile ground. One of their feeding methods, widely recognized now, was to push a lot of conspiracies through social media platforms (whose greed for advertising dollars is part of an ongoing problem)—and they’re still at it.

As you know, David Hogg and other students-survivors who have spoken up forcefully since the high school massacre in Parkland have been the subject of right-wing conspiracy theories—some promoted by Tr-mp’s friend Alex Jones—that the young people were “crisis actors” hired to agitate and not real students who witnessed the mass killing. This is an old, old tactic designed to discredit social movements, and the Russians, to no one’s surprise, are helping to amplify these conspiracies through a large network of social media bots. Their contribution began just an hour after the Parkland shooting made the news, when Russian-controlled Twitter accounts began flooding the platform with disinformation related to gun-grabbing paranoia. They have also posted countless times on Facebook and Instagram (owned by Facebook), often using videos to promote the conspiracy. Obviously, the Russians also used YouTube, which has done some, but not enough, work to rid the platform of the poison.

The sad and undeniable truth is that there is a relatively large mental market out there for such mindless, hate-fueling absurdities. Five years ago there were (and still remain) the Sandy Hook hoaxes, as well as all the hoaxes surrounding the Las Vegas massacre. I also should remind you of something from 2016 that you may have forgotten in all the tweetstorms we have so far endured since January of 2017:

Two-thirds of voters with a favorable opinion of Donald Trump  believe President Barack Obama is a Muslim, and a quarter of them believe that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was murdered…

Two-thirds. Two out of three. Sixty-six percent. Tr-mp voters. These folks get to vote.

An even sadder truth is that many—if not most, if not all—of the pitiful people who fall for, as opposed to seek out, scurvy disinformation campaigns and bias-confirming lies either won’t admit to being duped, or simply don’t give a damn whether they were. And I have evidence to support my claim.

The Palm Beach Post published an article on Friday (“Local Tr-mp supporters shrug off being paid and played by Russians”) that is a must-read for those of you who, like me, wonder what makes Tr-mpers tick, or, more accurate, tick very slowly.

 Anne Marie Thomas and Greg R. North. (Photo by Harry Miller) photoThe article features an interview with two Floridians who were actually part of Robert Mueller’s recent indictment of 13 election-meddling influencing Russians. The two Tr-mpers, a “Leisureville retiree from Boynton Beach” named Harry Miller and a “choir singer from Jupiter” named Anne Marie Thomas, were recruited and paid by the Russians (via their Internet Research Agency, a troll farm that exists to vandalize democratic elections) to do the whole “Hillary for prison” schtick at a flash rally in Palm Beach County in August of 2016. The act came complete with a Russian-supplied script, a pickup truck bed that the retiree had converted into a jail cell, and, of course, the choir singer from Jupiter wearing a Hillary mask and prison garb (her boyfriend played the part of Bill and weirdly admitted, “I was supposed to try to grope all the attractive young ladies I could find”).

Now, as the headline of the article makes clear, these Americans—“unwitting individuals associated with the Trump campaign,” as Mueller’s indictment delicately phrased it—weren’t too upset about being duped by the Rooskies, since the Rooskies were duping them in service to Tr-mp. In fact, Thomas the choir singer was proud of her involvement and her clever improvisational skills:

They say I was “very unwitting.” But I was very witting. I am a creative person. I did things that weren’t in the script. I wore a shirt that had prison number 09112012 on it. That’s the date of Benghazi. That was my idea.

I’m pretty sure many of the 40 or 50 people in attendance at that rally (the dupes claim, of course, that there were 300 folks there) got Thomas’ Benghazi reference, since Republicans invested a lot of time and money into a dupe operation of their own by endlessly “investigating” the murder of four Americans, including our Ambassador to Libya, by Islamic militants. And I’m pretty sure most Tr-mpers at that rally and beyond would agree with Thomas that there isn’t anything to like about Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference. And I am absolutely sure most Tr-mpers today feel the same way Thomas said she felt after her encounter with Russian meddlers was revealed:

I don’t feel like the Russians used me. A week after that event I did another one myself at Harbourside Place in Jupiter.

Those damned Russians were so effective that their mark not only denied she was conned, but they got two Hillary-for-prison acts for the price of one!

In any case, the retired guy with the jail cell on the back of his truck—it cost him $800 to make but he only received $500 from the Russians—defended himself this way:

How would I know the guy was Russian? He had an accent, but I thought he was one of those Muslims, and I figured, he was a new immigrant and I’d work with him because he wants to be involved.

In Miller’s cloudy consciousness, that excuse undoubtably makes sense, as does his predictable lack of enthusiasm for Mueller’s effort to find the truth about Tr-mpski. He said:

They’re trying to connect Trump to Russia. But I was the guy dealing with the Russians, not Trump.

It likely never crossed Miller’s gullible mind that he and Tr-mp both could have been dealing with the Russians, one unwittingly and the other quite intentionally. But I do want to give the retiree credit for his gritty honesty about his encounter with the FBI and his mental acuity:

The FBI were here for five or six hours. They said I’m not in trouble, and I said, “How could I be in trouble? The guy told me to build a cage and I did it.” We’re not totally stupid. We’re partially stupid.

Well, okay then.

Now we see why “crisis actor” conspiracies proliferate, why people still believe Obama is a Muslim foreigner, and why we have a Tr-mp problem, Russians or no Russians.

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[photo by Harry Miller, who says he is only “partially stupid.”]

 

Greitens And The Mug Of A Thug

Just two things about my creepy indicted governor.

First, I love this official mug shot, taken after he was taken into custody on a felony charge:

Second, the Missouri GOP, a morally bankrupt entity, had something predictable to say:

That reference to Kim Gardner is because she is the St. Louis Circuit Attorney, the city’s top prosecutor. Both Greitens and now the Missouri GOP are attacking this law enforcement official because she, well, has decided to enforce the law against Greitens despite the fact that he is allegedly a “law-and-order governor.” One would think that a law-and-order governor, under such dark suspicion, would welcome his day in court. But not so much.

Oh, not that this has anything to do with the GOP attacks on Gardner, but this is what my newest hero looks like:

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner. - DANNY WICENTOWSKI

Bravo!

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[photo credit: Danny Wicentowski]

Now It’s Official: The NRA Is A Terrorist Organization

Conservatives, mostly white Christians, have told us repeatedly that you can’t fight terrorism properly unless you are prepared to call it what it is. Tr-mp proudly gets to say these days, “radical Islamic terrorism,” as if invoking an ancient biblical curse on Muslim extremists.

Well, about a week ago Sara Rodriguez, a 16-year-old Florida student from a school near Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, named names:

Cameron Kasky, a 17-year-old who survived the massacre last week at his school, is a founder of the #NEVERAGAIN movement that is inspiring those of us who were losing hope for a better American future. Kasky said:

This is simply a matter of are you with us or are you against us? Are you for taking steps to save us or are you for taking NRA blood money? We are not letting the United States be run by that terrorist organization. My friends and I, my community and I have stared down the barrel of an AR-15 the way you have not. We have seen this weapon of war mow down people we know and love the way you have not. How dare you tell us we don’t know what we’re talking about? You have no idea what you are talking about.

Some of the “adults” tried to temper Kasky’s remarks about the NRA, saying it is a mistake to label it a terrorist group. Hooey.

These teenagers have earned the right to call the NRA anything they want to. And, by the way, they are onto something. Kasky shut down his Facebook account yesterday, saying,

Temporarily got off Facebook because there’s no character count so the death threats from the cultists are a bit more graphic than those on twitter.

And today we had NRA jihadist Wayne LaPierre say to CPAC, the annual gathering of family-values phonies, the following:

I call on every citizen who loves this country and treasures its freedom to stand and unflinchingly defend the Second Amendment, the one freedom that protects us all.

Taken along with his other inflammatory remarks in his speech (as well as provocative remarks by NRA propagandist Dana Loesch, who preceded him), I interpret that sentence—a “call”—as a terrorist threat. “Every citizen who loves this country” is a separatist statement. I interpret “stand” as “Stand Your Ground,” a legal justification for using violence even when it isn’t necessary. I interpret “unflinchingly” as using violence without fear.

Largely because of the NRA, but with help from other gun manufacturing lobbyists and the politicians they purchase, children in every American school have to wonder if their last recess was literally their last recess, or if their last math test was their last test of any kind, or if their last glance of parents or siblings or friends would flash through their minds as the sound of gunshots echoed down the halls. If living with that reality isn’t a kind of terror, what is it?

If LaPierre, who clearly is afraid of what is happening before his eyes, was threatening a kind of civil war over the gun issue, he’ll have to go through young citizens who love their country, who are standing their ground with words, or are unflinchingly using their justified outrage to do something that my generation has shamefully failed to do: stare down the NRA.

Cameron Kasky, appearing on the Rachel Maddow Show on Monday, said:

This is going to be the last time a school shooting is going to look like a terrorist attack. That’s a promise.

Kasky and others in the students’ movement, who are now fighting the NRA and its political prostitutes and promoters all across the country and in Washington, ultimately may not be able to keep that commitment. But there is a revitalizing hope in the mere fact that impassioned teenagers are engaged enough and bold enough to make such a promise to the country they love.

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UPDATE: I implore you to read this article on the specific damage AR-15 killing machines do to human bodies:

What I Saw Treating the Victims From Parkland Should Change the Debate on Guns

Billy Graham, R.I.P.

He’s finally gone.

As much as Billy Graham admired the blissful afterlife he expected to enjoy, he held on to this life just months shy of a century. That seems a bit strange to me. Was he afraid of something?

I wrote rather harshly of Graham back in 2012, when he endorsed Mitt Romney, whose Mormon faith Graham considered a “cult” right up to the moment he authenticated the phony Romney by giving him the white conservative evangelical seal of approval. After the endorsement, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association removed a reference on its website that told the truth about Mormonism’s cultic nature. Thus, Tr-mp wasn’t the first one to be mulliganized by right-wing evangelicals.

In any case, I watched in cable news-induced agony today as CNN quickly invited the dreadful Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody on to discuss Graham’s impact on our culture. The CNN host, John Berman, mentioned that although Tr-mp tweeted about Russia this morning, he hadn’t bothered to tweet about Graham. Brody, who is peddling a pathetic book about Tr-mp’s mythical “spiritual voyage,” assured everyone that we would be hearing from Tr-mp on the matter, which is a damned good reason to avoid both television and Twitter today.

After the election in 2012—you know, the one that Romney and Graham lost to that closet Muslim—I wrote another harsh piece about Billy, which focused on the fear and division that is a feature, not a bug, of conservative evangelicalism. I mentioned a book Graham wrote:

When I was a kid, several of Billy Graham’s books were in the house, including a book that scared me to death, “World Aflame.” If nothing else, it was the cover that frightened me:

I was seven years old when that book came out. The earth engulfed in flames, and the threat of eternal damnation awaiting those who didn’t surrender to Jesus, tends to make a kid a little fearful, the kind of fear that never quite disappears, no matter how old one gets or how far one gets from the source.

Fear and flames. That’s what Graham spread for seven decades. And as The New York Times noted today, he spread it to a lot of folks:

In 2007, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, estimated that he had preached the Gospel to more than 215 million people in more than 185 countries and territories since beginning his crusades in Grand Rapids, Mich., in October 1947. He reached hundreds of millions more on television, through video and in film.

“This is not mass evangelism,” Mr. Graham liked to say, “but personal evangelism on a mass scale.”

The truth is that nobody knows how many minds were infected by Billy Graham’s toxic species of Christianity. That he may have spread such an infection out of a sincere conviction that it was the right thing to do doesn’t mitigate the unfortunate fact that millions upon millions of men, women, and children have had the fear of hell and eternal damnation downloaded onto their hard drives, a virus so cleverly engineered that it is almost impossible to delete.

That is Billy Graham’s legacy, and merely out of respect for a fellow human being who himself was infected with malicious software, may he rest in peace.

Who’s At Fault? Here’s Who.

PARKLAND, Fla. (AP) — A former student opened fire with a semiautomatic rifle at a Florida high school Wednesday, killing at least 17 people and sending scores of students fleeing into the streets in the nation’s deadliest school shooting since a gunman attacked an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.

—Associated Press, 2/14/2018

If you voted for Republicans—or a few Democrats—who have taken money from the NRA and other gun rights absolutists, you have the blood of high school students on your hands tonight.

If you voted for Ted Cruz ($360,727 from gun rights groups in 2016) or Marco Rubio ($176,030) or Paul Ryan ($171,977) or Roy Blunt ($49,430) or, God forbid, if you voted for Tr-mp (the NRA alone spent $30 million to support him in 2016), you are partially at fault for today’s mass murder.

To be sure, you didn’t directly enable the psychopath or sociopath who plotted to kill today, but you indirectly armed and enabled him and other recent killers like him. You are part of a system that makes such atrocities not only possible, but now routine, in this sick, sick country.

And I don’t give a damn if this accusation pisses you off. I don’t care if you are offended. Your fatigued and feckless “thoughts and prayers” are dangerous weapons precisely because they are fatigued and feckless weapons. They are diversions from the truth.

The truth is that your perennial votes for politicians who make it easy for dangerously troubled people to get assault weapons in their hands—weapons of war that kill scores of innocent people—are to blame. The blood of innocents flows from the ballot box where you make peace with the devilish system you vote for when you vote for Tr-mp and Cruz and Rubio and Blunt and others like them. Your reliable votes make possible much of the carnage we see. Your votes.

You can’t put this on your neighbor. You can’t pin this on me. You can’t blame mental illness. You can’t fault the schools. You can’t indict anyone but yourself. You can’t simply call this “pure evil” as Governor Rick Scott did tonight or offer meaningless ex post facto prayers and move on and say we’ll talk about this stain on civilization at a later date. You can’t say, as Florida’s corrupt Attorney General Pam Bondi said, that you will pay for the victims’ funerals and then think you’ve washed away the blood and guilt.

No. You can’t escape so easily.

You will go to bed tonight with at least some of the responsibility for the awful, awful horror that happened today. You will sleep beside that reality, knowing that the blood of kids and their protectors is there with you on your pillow, as if these latest murders were committed right there in your bed. That blood will be there when you get up. It will be there when you shower for work or pick up your morning paper from the lawn or login on your computer.

And it will be there when Sunday comes. It will be there when you get prepared to pretend to worship your God of Love who you think gives a damn about Second Amendment absolutism. It will be there when you next see your living kids or grandkids or your friends’ living kids or grandkids or your neighbors’ living kids or grandkids or your co-workers’ living kids or grandkids. The blood of dead high schoolers in Florida and those charged with their care will be as close to you as your soft, soft pillow, in that quiet time before you sleep the sleep of the guilty. And that blood will be there so long as you refuse to repent of your electoral sins.

I, for one, am tired of making excuses for your ignorance or stupidity. I am tired of rationalizing your disturbed and disturbing mind that has been poisoned by NRA propaganda and the conservative media establishment that amplifies it. At some point you have to quit enabling the devilish system and the blood it spills or be willing to embrace and live with the dreadful truth that it spills that blood in your name.

 

Will Democrats Waste An Opportunity To Get A Better Deal For DREAMers? Yep.

“If we don’t change it, let’s have a shutdown. We’ll do a shutdown and it’s worth it for our country. I’d love to see a shutdown…”

—Tr-mp, 2/6/18

as some folks are being distracted by Kim Jung Tr-mp’s creepy despotic desire for a yooge military parade down Pennsylvania Avenue, yet another shutdown looms this week, as funding for the federal government theoretically runs out just after midnight on Friday. But negotiations in the Senate have come to an end, as the Rs and Ds hammered out a two-year deal that would seemingly put an end to this Chinese water torture we’re all experiencing.

But some of us believe Democrats have squandered an opportunity in this moment of agreement.

This morning Nancy Pelosi, who is under attack not just from Republicans but from members of her own party, took to the House floor and began doing what she should do: speaking for Democratic Party values, particularly protecting DREAMers from the fear of TPelosir-mp and his deportation forces and giving them some semblance of peace in this nasty reality show Tr-mp, John Kelly, Stephen Miller, and Sean Hannity are directing.

As you probably know, during the recent government shutdown, Senate Democrats made a “deal” with Mitch McConnell that if they would reopen the government and help Republicans keep it open, then McConnell would bring an immigration bill to the floor that would be accompanied by genuine debate; that is, the bill would be subject to an open amendment process. But even if one could trust McConnell, which one can’t, and an acceptable DREAMer deal could be reached in the Senate, the problem of what to do in the House would still remain. After all, a comprehensive immigration bill passed the Senate in 2013 with bipartisan support and then-Speaker John Boehner refused to bring it up for a vote in the House because, alas, he knew it would pass.

Today we have the same dynamic. And despite Pelosi’s long, long speech this morning, there is no reason to believe things will change.

Even if Democrats and Republicans in the Senate could work out an agreement for DREAMers, there is no evidence that Paul Ryan would move on it in the House. In fact, the evidence goes the other way. Ryan has said he won’t bring up any bill that doesn’t have Tr-mp’s approval, and since Tr-mp’s position is impossible to discern on some days and impossible for Democrats to accept on others, that’s the same as saying, “I don’t care what happens in the Senate. This is Tr-mp’s House.”

But Pelosi says the current budget deal—which she had a hand in negotiating—is a no-go for her “without a commitment from Speaker Ryan comparable to the commitment from Leader McConnell.” On the House floor this morning, she said to Speaker Ryan:

Let Congress work its will. What are you afraid of?

Well, we know what Ryan is afraid of. He’s afraid an acceptable fix for DREAMers will pass Congress and he’s trying to protect Tr-mp from having to either sign or veto a bipartisan bill that won’t have all of the bigotry in it that Tr-mp and his fear-the-brown Brownshirts desire.

I totally doubt it, but I wish Tr-mp’s puss-filled bluster yesterday“Let’s have a shutdown”—had something to do with Pelosi’s actions this morning. But the truth is she had pressure from immigration reform activists on our side and felt compelled to at least speak up and put some small amount of pressure on Ryan. However, she wasn’t really leading a movement among her members to oppose the new bipartisan budget deal if Ryan didn’t commit to an open DACA process in the House. Thus, despite all the affirmation of Democratic support for DREAMers, they will have to wait for another day.

If I were a Democratic Party leader in Congress, after Tr-mp made all those noises about a shutdown in front of the cameras—coming on the heels of his calling Democrats “un-American” and “treasonous” for not acknowledging his elementary ability to read a speech off a teleprompter—I would have told my negotiators working on budget and DREAMer deals with Republicans to inform everyone that the game had changed: “Tr-mp will get his shutdown, since he wants it so bad, unless we stop talking nonsense about appeasing him with race-based fig leaves and stop talking about an effing wall.” And I would have added: “Don’t even think of blaming any goddamned shutdown on us. We have the tape.”

This may shock all of you, but I’m not a Democratic leader. I’m just a Democrat. And there seems to be no indication from my party’s leadership that Tr-mp’s widely-reported words about wanting a government shutdown gave Democrats more leverage in negotiations for DREAMers, leverage that was only good if leaders had the guts to use it behind the scenes. But they didn’t. Thus, despite Pelosi’s necessary but relatively feeble efforts on the House floor today, a budget deal has been made and Democrats in the Senate and House will provide enough votes to pass it.

And now we move on to the next deadline: March 5, when DACA protections expire. That day will come and Democrats will have lost an opportunity for a better deal, an opportunity that Tr-mp himself gave them yesterday.

The Chinese water torture will continue.

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