Ten Minutes

“Why are those helicopters circling?”

Our five-year-old son asked us that as we drove toward the grocery store. I answered that I didn’t know why all those helicopters were hovering overhead.

The reason became apparent a moment later as we turned the corner and saw the police closing off the street. A dozen or so cop cars, with lights flashing, were parked in front of our neighborhood Trader Joe’s. Bystanders milled about, and I recognized a few employees of the store who sat on the curb, heads in their hands or just sobbing.

Yes, it was that Trader Joe’s, the one where a deranged gunman crashed his car, exchanged gunfire with the police, and then ran inside to take people hostage.

My wife and I have been going to this particular Trader Joe’s ever since our son was an infant, and the place has earned a spot as a neighborhood hub. We’ve gotten to know many of the employees, and one of the cashiers even became our son’s babysitter. As cheesy as it sounds, it’s part of our little environs.

But on this Saturday, a young man who was pissed off at the world, and who had easy access to a gun, decided that his problems were everyone’s problems. And he did what so many American males do, which is shoot the women who are making them angry, then unleash violence on random strangers.

And at the end of it all, one of the Trader Joe’s employees — a woman my wife and I knew, although not well — was dead. A cop’s bullet caught her as she tried to flee the crossfire.

Some will say that a fabled “good guy with a gun” would have stopped the carnage. But of course, more people firing more bullets means, logically, more people getting hit, not fewer. In fact, the woman who died was killed by the ultimate good guy with a gun: a police officer. If a trained cop who has received untold hours of marksmanship, and who works full-time at stopping bad guys, wound up shooting an innocent civilian, it defies belief that a regular dude with a conceal-and-carry permit could bring down a running, armed madman without even grazing anybody else. 

No, in a sickeningly repetitive scenario — virtually unique to America among all industrialized nations — an angry man grabbed a gun and started shooting.

They have angry young men in England and Japan and Denmark and all the other first-world nations. But those furious losers have trouble getting firearms and destroying strangers’ lives. This is only a serious, reoccurring problem in the United States.

But I’m sure that’s just a coincidence. 

In any case, I’m feeling a little closer to this particular gun tragedy, not only because the sole fatality was an acquaintance and because it happened in my neighborhood.

You see, my wife and I were running late on Saturday. Our son, the master of the stall, had delayed us. So we got in the car to drive to Trader Joe’s later than usual.

We found out later that, if we had been just ten minutes earlier, we would have been trapped in the store when the gunman arrived. We would have been hostages. And my five-year-old would have had to duck gunfire.

That scenario should not be a concern when all you want to do is go shopping.

And it doesn’t happen anywhere else but America.




Hey, remember when Obama gave a little bow to that Saudi king, and conservatives lost their minds about the president of the United States coming across as weak and subservient to a foreign ruler?

Yeah, I wonder how they would have felt if Obama had "abased himself … abjectly before a tyrant” and committed "one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory.”

We will never know, of course, because regardless of what you thought about Obama, no sane person ever speculated that the man was actually a double agent for an evil dictator.

However, in the nightmare of Trump’s America, serious journalists and earnest politicians are openly assessing whether the president is secretly working for a hostile foreign power. Think about that.

Did anybody ever accuse Bush of being an Al Qaeda sympathizer? Did anyone believe that Reagan was a communist mole? Did anyone ever contemplate, for a moment, that Roosevelt was an undercover Nazi or that Washington was plotting with the British?

This moment is, like so many moments over the past two years, unprecedented and horrifying.

Currently, the odds makers are bickering over possible motivations for Trump’s pathetic sell-out of America. The possibilities include the following: 

Trump is an idiot who doesn’t know what he’s doing.

Trump isn’t an idiot, just arrogant and delusional.

Trump is a genius who has formulated some kind of unfathomable master plan.

Trump has a fixation with dictators and wants to be just like them.

Trump is doing anything he can to discredit Mueller.

Trump has financial deals in place with Moscow and doesn’t want to insult the Russians.

Trump is being blackmailed by the Russians.

Trump has been recruited to work for the Russians.

Trump has been an asset for the Russians for the last 30 years, and it’s all just coming out now.


In this way, every American has now become a detective, desperately trying to sort through the twisted, contradictory logic of a man who clearly has little grasp on reality. And the best part is that we are unlikely to ever uncover the whole truth.

But of course, what many of us are missing is that Trump’s motivations don’t really matter.

You see, whether Trump has gone crazy, or Putin has videotape of the guy in an orgy with Russian teenage boys, the fact remains that the president of the United States has delivered a haymaker to America’s jaw, and recovery is far, far away.

And it doesn’t matter in one other way. Trump remains incredibly popular with Republicans. A full two-thirds of Republicans think it’s fine that Putin owns the president and will soon receive a personal tour of the White House.

Trump’s bizarre news conference with Putin lead to cries of treason, even from some of his most ardent conservative supporters.

But in a stunning display of cowardice, "Republicans are grumbling but seem resigned to inaction." Clearly, Trump could give Alaska to Putin, piss on the American flag, and slap all of the Republican Senators' children. The GOP would still say he’s a patriot and a great leader.You almost have to admire their honesty, if not their lack of patriotism and total absence of shame.

Other conservative commentators haven’t even bothered to pretend that they are annoyed at a little thing like fucking over the nation in favor of a murderous thug. Many conservatives have sidestepped Trump’s overt betrayal to blame liberals and the media and (my favorite) Latinos for this chaos.

And as for Trump’s fabled base, well, they thought he would put America first, and bring the hammer down on foreigners. The joke, as is so often the case with Trump voters, is on them. Because Trump is helping foreigners — specifically, the Russians — and has done absolutely nothing to improve their situation.

Trump’s disaster in Helsinki shows us that he is not a strong leader, not a good negotiator, and certainly not concerned with putting America first. Basically, all the things his supporters said he was? He is none of those. But he is still a racist narcissist who can't speak full sentences. So there's that.

Keep in mind that"Trump won the election with just under 78,000 votes in three states — Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. It is unlikely that those voters were betting on an abandonment of American values in favor of Russian interests.” 

But that’s how it has turned out.

So when will Trump’s base finally give up in this cyclone of corruption and incompetence? The answer is never.

After all, the man could shoot someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue and not lose support.

Or he could commit blatant treason in front of millions of people.

Either way, he’s fucking golden.



The Disconnect

After much deliberation, President Trump has narrowed down his list of white, right-wing judges and came up with Brett Kavanaugh, who is most likely headed for a seat on the Supreme Court.

As we know, Mitch McConnell basically stole one seat on the Supreme Court, and with Kavanaugh’s confirmation, we will be looking at a solid majority of reactionary justices who will rule over the nation for decades to come.

Yes, anywhere from a few weeks to a few years from now, Trump will no longer be president, and his name will be fully ensconced on the short list of presidential abominations like Buchanan, Harding, Nixon, and Bush 2.

However, even then, we will still have to live under the rulings of out-of-touch conservatives and people who long for the 1950s.

Many Republicans held their noses and voted for Trump because they wanted the GOP to load up the Supreme Court with its kind of judges. They got their wish, of course, so maybe they will finally be happy and stop feeling so persecuted and perpetually furious (note: not very likely).

Of course, those Republicans who know Trump is a disaster will say that his judicial choices justify their backing. To be fair, it is quite a bargain. The GOP gets its agenda advanced, and all it costs America is the loss of our values and our standing in the world. Oh, and every ethnic minority, gay person, and immigrant now feels the icy grip of fear constantly, and there will most likely be some kind of economic disaster soon. But hey, it all evens out — right?

However, if the establishment GOP is happy, what about those fabled working-class conservatives who propelled Trump to victory?

After all, we heard stories of “economically anxious” farmers and unemployed factory workers who wanted to shake up the system, and while they were at it, maybe get their small town’s opioid crisis under control.

It’s hard to believe that these hardscrabble folk feel vindicated because, for example, the Supreme Court has “sided against workers’ rights in an important arbitration case.” Is that really what they wanted?

Along those lines, keep in mind that only 29% of Americans want to see Roe v. Wade overturned. Yet 46% of voters picked Trump.

That’s at least a 17-point gap in reality.

Of course, we should know by now that many people didn't vote for Trump because of an allegiance to GOP goals. They voted for him because he shared their hostility toward foreigners and swarthy people. Maybe they were unemployed coal miners, or maybe they were rich Manhattan lawyers. The only thing they had in common was that they never — and I mean, never — wanted to hear Spanish.

And today, a lot of those heartland conservatives see their precious leader screwing them over because of some insane drive to start a trade war. Or their tiny town is exactly as messed up as it was two years ago, with no signs of help from the Trump Administration.

And yet they continue to pledge their eternal loyalty to him. And they will continue to support an agenda that is focused on making rich people richer. And their pain will never end. But of course, they will blame the liberals for that, and the cycle will continue.

By the way, assuming that Kavanaughis confirmed, four of the last six Supreme Court justices will have been appointed by Republican presidents who lost the popular vote.

That, apparently, is democracy.



Into the Future

Fortunately, the United States has survived the insidious plot of liberals to instigate a second civil war, and we all enjoyed Independence Day without bloodshed — well, without any more bloodshed than usual, because after all, we are Americans here.

In any case, everybody is talking about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the 28-year-old Latina who defeated a 10-term Democrat in the primary election for a House seat in New York.She was a bartender a year ago, but now she’s headed to Congress.

Ocasio-Cortezis young, educated, female, and of course, Hispanic. As we all know, none of those four traits line up well with the GOP. So put them all together, and it’s possible that Republicans will burst into flames if they enter the same room as her.

Now, we heard a lot about voters in New York wanting a representative who “looks a lot more like the constituents in the very diverse district” than the “56-year-old white man” who has been in Congress forever.

That’s true, of course, which seems to bother people if we’re talking about Latinos or black people. After all, ethnic minorities are supposed to shun “identity politics.” But white evangelicals, for example, can offer record support to loudmouthed moron who shares none of their values, and it certainly can't have anything to do with their shared race — nope.

Regardless, demographics were an important factor in Ocasio-Cortez’s victory, which is all fine and good. Butkeep in mind that Ocasio-Cortez also won in neighborhoods that were not heavily Latino, implying that her progressive ideas won over lots of people who don’t have a z in their names.

One could argue that in addition to proving the electoral potential of Latinas, her win “proves that people are ready to move away from out-of-touch, establishment Democrats.”

But of course, they wouldn’t be establishment Democrats if they weren’t hand wringing nonstop. We’re hearing from many liberals that electing bona fide progressives is impossible, and candidates like Ocasio-Cortez will turn off independent voters. Their thinking is that it’s better to play it safe and go with moderate, establishment candidates because that has so worked so well…

No really — that is their thinking.

Those of us who are progressive might mention that moderate Democrats have jack-shit to show for their timidity, and giving the people more Hillary Clinton clones is the essence of head-in-the-sand denial and the surest path to irrelevance.

Much of this attitude comes from the skittish nature of the Democratic Party, combined with its incredible talent for fucking things up and losing elections that it should win in a damn landslide.

But most it is because the Democratic Party remains enamored of the white working class — even though the WWC has made it perfectly clear that it is all in on Trump. Moderate Democrats keep insisting — despite mountains of statistical data and acres of anecdotal evidence — that if they avoid saying the word “liberal,” long enough, millions of Trump voters will suddenly abandon their hatred of Latinos and Muslims and immigrants in favor of… what exactly… expanding Medicare?

It’s interesting to note that Republicans don’t concern themselves with appealing to moderates, and they keep winning elections, despite the fact that most of America hates their agenda. Yes, conservatives can nominate a lunatic right-wing child molester and still almost win. Clearly, they play to their base, and they freely insult anyone who doesn’t agree with them, while Democrats flail pathetically and shriek, “Why don’t you like us? Pretty please?”

And speaking of agenda items, keep in mind that most of Ocasio-Cortez’s supposedly radical philosophy consists of ideas that most Americans approve of. 

Still, it hasn’t stopped conservatives for attacking her for being a socialist (that’s Democratic Socialist to you) and for wanting to give all our money to gay terrorist undocumented immigrants and for, I don't know, living in a house or something. Who can tell anymore with all the insanity from the Republican Party?

The bottom line is that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez could be the future of the Democratic Party.

Well, it’s either her or 78-year-old Nancy Pelosi.

Hey, I know who I’m betting on.



What’s in Your Head?

It looks like we can relax now.

After all, the Trump Administration is no longer splitting up families at the border and… what’s that? Thousands of kids are still missing, and there is mass confusion about how to reunite devastated families? Oh, and the United States is now officially banning visitors to our country based on nothing more than their religion, and the Supreme Court is soon to be even more reactionary than ever? 

Yeah, this week was not a net win.

Before America descends completely into a jingoistic theocracy, it’s worth addressing the people who made all this happen.

No, I’m not talking about a septuagenarian racist with delusions of grandeur and an army of sycophants. I’m talking about the Americans who supported him, and continue to support this overt madness.

You see, when kids started being ripped away from their parents at the border, more than two-thirds of Americans disapproved of the policy. But well over half of Republicans thought it was just fine. This indicates one of three things:

1. Many Republicans are so selfish and indifferent to others that they’re fine with suffering as long as it doesn’t affect them. 

2. Many Republicans are so filled with hatred for Latinos that they actively delight in the agony of Hispanics.

3. Many Republicans are so weak-willed that they will follow their almighty leader on whatever crazed path he takes next, and if Trump said every American had to wear a purple hat on Thursdays or be locked in jail, they would shout, “Yes, whatever you say, Mr. President.”

Or maybe it’s a combination of all those things.

To be clear, you can be conservative on the issue of illegal immigration without being a total asshole. But you cannot support locking up innocent kids — for no discernable reason, no less — without revealing to the world that you are a seriously flawed human being. You simply can’t.

And now that the policy has been reversed, the conservatives who shrieked that this cruel tactic was absolutely necessary to save our nation are now saying, “Eh, no big deal one way or another.”

Of course, the total absence of a clear goal, plan for success, vision for the future, and exit strategy was all in keeping with the GOP’s long-running tradition of just winging it. 

Hey, it worked in Iraq!

So again, why did conservatives line up to zealously defend a heartless policy that did nothing to achieve its goal, and as far as I can tell, actually cost more time, money, and effort to undertake, and that nobody — really, nobody outside this White House of fanatics — was advocating for? Was it so difficult to say, “I’m for tougher border control, but this is mean-spirited and pointless,” or to admit that the GOP was wrong on this one? 

Apparently, it was, because although no reputable conservative advocating for locking up kids way back in 2015, it has now become a GOP baseline.

In today’s world, with obedience to the mad king the top Republican value, we had conservatives focusing on the ubiquity of chain-link fences, in a truly dazzling display of obsessing on meaningless details in hopes of allowing yourself to sleep better at night. By the way, there’s air in those facilities, and there’s air in churches, so that makes it ok, and why do liberals hate air so much?

We had Fox News insist that these aren’t our kids, and presumably, they are not worthy of basic compassion.

We had rich white people make grotesque comparisons to summer camps.

We had cabinet officials who are apparently robots incapable of anything other than fealty to a muddled, contradictory agenda based on lashing out at the defenseless.

We had a guy make the phrase “womp womp” a catchphrase for sociopathic indifference.

It doesn't matter that religious leaders from across the theological and political spectrum condemned it, or that major business leaders condemned it, or that a few principled conservatives spoke out against it.

No, we had Trump supporters who got angry and demanded that we all “quit trying to make us feel teary-eyed for the children." 

Well, we all should apologize most profusely. We briefly thought Trump’s base might not be composed of ogres who lack basic empathy. As such, we should never again try to make them feel the slightest bit of compassion for anyone ever again.

Perhaps my favorite justification of the administration’s policy came from those Americans who think of themselves as kind-hearted decent people who would never — and I mean never — endorse cruelty to kids and Nazi-like tactics. They often said Americans had no choice but to support the president.

Well, here’ a brief history of that type of mindset: 

1850: “I feel bad for the slaves, but it’s the law.” 

1940: “I feel bad for the Jews, but it’s the law.” 

1960: “I feel bad for the blacks, but it’s the law.” 

2018: “I feel bad for the kids, but it’s the law.”


Yes, that all makes it ok.


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