The letter I just sent Senator Richard Burr through his official website

>> Thursday, February 15, 2018

Dear Senator,

In the aftermath of the most recent of the 18 school shootings in America this year, and the deaths of 17 children in Florida at the hands of an armed teenager (19 years old, it's true; the NEW YORK TIMES keeps describing him as a "man," but he wasn't old enough to buy beer), a number of people have been publishing a sizeable figure claimed to be the amount of money you receive from the National Rifle Association alongside a statement you made last October after the Las Vegas mass shooting.  In that brief statement, you said, "This morning’s tragic violence has absolutely no place here in America."

I must respectfully take issue with this statement.  It is extremely clear that in a country in which mass shootings are a weekly event and our elected leaders can do no more than offer their thoughts and prayers, that tragic violence has become our way of life.  Such tragic violence does not have a place in democratic nations whose elected leaders have held hearings and passed effective legislation to limit accessibility to powerful weapons with relatively high rates of fire.  But it has a home here, in the United States.  I notice that as of my writing this e-mail to you, you have not elected to make a similarly erroneous comment in response to the shooting yesterday; perhaps you have come to agree, as so many of us have, that the lives of American citizens are the price to be paid for easy access to weapons that are overpowered for self-defense and hunting and yet would be of little use in a well-regulated militia, an easy access obviously demanded by the Second Amendment although nobody seemed to have a problem with, say for instance, passing Federal gun control legislation (the Gun Control Act of 1968, specifically) following the assassinations of Senator Kennedy and Dr. King in 1968.

I realize that gun control is a contentious matter, and legislation regulating firearms purchases has become a challenge since the Supreme Court's HELLER decision.  It's probably too much to face, and of course it's probably nice to be able to rely on endorsements and donations from those who apparently believe the Constitution forbids any regulation of arms.  Maybe it's for the best you shy away from the issue.  Easier, anyway.  One doesn't take on the office of United States Senator to take on difficult issues, after all.

The truth is, I don't really expect you to do anything you haven't already.  I just wanted to let you know you were wrong about mass murder not having its place in America.  We've had eighteen school shootings in seven weeks this year.  I don't think our children play baseball in school that often, so I guess we can say gun violence in schools is more American than baseball, right?  That's great, isn't it.

On an unrelated subject, I would like to express my sincere appreciation for your measured approach to matters before the Senate Intelligence Committee, and wish you luck with your investigation into probable Russian interference with our democratic processes.  The sanctity and stability of our democratic institutions is not a partisan matter.  Thank you for your service on the committee.

- R. Eric VanNewkirk
(Comments have been disabled on this post.)


Worst person on Earth gives terrible speech, news at eleven

>> Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Who cares about how much of it was true?  The worst parts weren't the lies and half-truths, the most embarrassing things weren't the gaffes, the most horrifying things weren't the miscellaneous encroachments on the rule of law, the most awful moments weren't when he trotted out crime victims and veterans as props (to be fair a stock part of these events since, what, the Reagan years?).

No, the worst thing about the speech wasn't the terrible, unqualified, awful man saying things he had no business saying.  The worst thing was watching the Republican half of the chamber give standing ovation after standing ovation until they were so overwhelmed with raw animal feeling that men and women who were elected to sit in the chairs of statesmen in the most hallowed civic chamber of these United States, a gallery once walked by the likes of Thaddeus Stevens and Daniel Webster, began to chant, "U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!" like a lot of uncouth hooligans at an international hockey meet.

And you knew, as if you'd really had any doubt before (because of course you hadn't, not really), that the Republic is well and truly fucked because the only people in the United States of America who could step on the Charlatan-In-Chief and send him back to his sordid world of real estate scams, international money-laundering, and celebrity fraud have no ability to follow whatever conscience they still have, as Rep. Hamilton Fish IV (a Republican and former Nixon supporter) did when he voted with the House Judiciary Committee to recommend Articles of Impeachment to the House, or to change their minds with evidence, as Rep. Charles E. Wiggins (one of Nixon's most prominent defenders) did when he demanded Nixon's resignation after the release of the "Smoking Gun" tape.

Let's not kid ourselves about the coming midterms.  First, that while there is good cause for optimism, these House districts are so gerrymandered that taking back the House is going to be a terrible task and if we succeed, all we're likely to have is a marginal majority.  Second, because removal of the President for good cause ought to be a nonpartisan issue, and politically it should be a bipartisan issue; and these terrible people who stood and applauded a terrible speech by an awful person seem so unlikely to do the right thing at the expense of their tribal affiliations.  Third, because even if the House manages to pass Articles of Impeachment, the case is then taken up in the Senate and now we have to go back through steps #1 and #2 all over again, only in another venue.

It is hard to feel hopeful this morning.  Captain Bligh may be cruising for a mutiny, but where is Fletcher Christian, eh?  The crew is, in fact, mad on blood and rum and convinced the Captain may be a bad captain but he's nevertheless the best captain.  They have decided to die by his side, if needs be.  And let us be clear that they are worse than he is, because where he is stupid, they are cynical; where he is ignorant, they are Machiavellian.  I do not mean to suggest they are that much smarter than he is, actually; only that they at least ought to know better.  He was born a crook and stood little chance of making much more of himself than what his father made of him; they chose to be crooks and have decided they like it.


Bouncing tire

>> Thursday, November 30, 2017

The question is whether this cure is worse than the disease. For all the dangers Trump poses, his removal poses dangers too. In August, the New Yorker posted a viral piece questioning whether America was barreling toward a new civil war. In it, Yale historian David Blight warned, “We know we are at risk of civil war, or something like it, when an election, an enactment, an event, an action by government or people in high places, becomes utterly unacceptable to a party, a large group, a significant constituency.” Invoking the 25th Amendment seems, to me, like the precise sort of event Blight describes. The bitter political polarization that marks Trump’s America would look gentle compared to America if Trump were removed from office.

But this analysis leaves us in a place that seems absurd when stated clearly: Though we have mechanisms for removing a dangerous president, those mechanisms are too politically explosive to actually invoke. President Trump could order a nuclear holocaust before breakfast, but unless society can agree that he is either criminal or comatose, both America and the world are stuck with him and all the damage he can cause.

Can this really be our system?
Vox, November 30th, 2017.

The rhetorical question has a simple, awful answer: yes.  Yes, that is exactly our system.

Look, the Constitution of the United States has been failing in bits and pieces since practically its inception.  It failed to produce an effective national defense after we provoked a war with Britain in 1812.  It failed to hold the nation together in 1861.  From ratification to the Civil War, it allowed the United States to expand without addressing any of the issues raised by that expansion, especially the slave question but not exclusively.  As technology made the world smaller and the flow of events faster, and as the United States emerged as a world power following the Spanish-American War, the ways in which the founding document tried to split military and diplomatic powers between the Senate and Executive became increasingly obsolete and cumbersome, leading to the Senate effectively (and often formally) ceding its share of responsibilities to the Presidency without being able to preserve much in the way of effective supervision or accountability; meanwhile the complexity of the bookkeeping and regulation required to keep a great power on its feet and in forward motion resulted in the House of Representatives making its own concessions to the Presidency.  And all the while, the factionalism of the Founding generation quickly led to a series of Party-based political systems (something Klein does talk about effectively and at some length), so that the region-based checks and balances the Founders assumed would stabilize the system turned into our current regime wherein the political process is defined and controlled by two public corporations whose agendas are set by a mix of ideology, varying levels of corruption, and an existential impulse to define themselves simply by being the opposite of what they think the other party is.

And now we have an existential threat in the form of a President who is unfit for his office by any objective measure other than the fact he won enough Electoral College votes to be sworn in.  He is not a statesman.  He is not a leader.  He is not wise.  He is not politically savvy.  He does not have a moral vision.  He is, remarkably and ironically enough, not even especially political.  He is motivated, as best anyone can tell, entirely by vanity, childish impulse, greed, lust, racism, and an unusually petulant vindictiveness.  To the extent he's followed any kind of political portfolio not handed to him by various handlers, that agenda apparently consists simply of trying to reverse the actions of his predecessor in the White House because he's gotten it into his head that his predecessor was some kind of illegal foreigner who somehow conned his way into the country and into office, and then his predecessor responded not by producing proof of his legitimacy, but by being mean to him and publicly humiliating him at a press correspondents' dinner.

How unfit is Donald Trump for office?  He's so unfit for his office, that even when he tries to do something that might be within the scope of the overbroad powers we have ceded to the modern imperial presidency, he nevertheless manages to completely fuck it up.  The presidential power to set immigration policy, for example, which any other President could do by simply drafting a memo and yet the Occupant-In-Chief is so hapless and has surrounded himself with such ineptitude that his efforts to do what he can clearly do re: immigration policy have ended up being blocked repeatedly by courts that are generally sympathetic to exercises of executive power and privilege.

One thought that George W. Bush had unfortunately surrounded himself with hacks like Donald Rumsfeld and John Yoo; Trump has managed to somehow discover that particular barrel had a false bottom and there was another one to be scraped underneath.  And lo, the wretched bastard even went and scraped it where most men making his discovery would have backed away slowly and looked for something with which to apply purifying fire to the barrel.

And yet the terms and conditions of our system of government are such that merely being horrifyingly, incomprehensibly bad at his job are not, as Klein might like, grounds for removal.  The Constitution says he can be removed upon conviction in the Senate for high crimes and misdemeanors, and it says (as a recently applied afterthought) that there's a procedure for having him declared unable to perform his job (something that appears on its face to be different from merely being terrible at it).  

The remedy for simply being incompetent is to be voted out of office.  And, it should be noted (and Klein notes it) that in the present situation, Trump is the same incompetent he was before the election.  While the majority of voters in the country presumably took this into account when they voted against him, the system we have (where distribution of votes is what matters, because the Founders created a system in which Presidents were chosen by the states, which the states then turned over to the popular mobs), the voters who lived where it mattered nevertheless decided that having a racist, misogynistic, financially irresponsible, dishonest, amoral, beholden-to-foreign-powers, ignorant, loudmouthed yutz was preferable to a woman / a Democrat / Hillary Clinton / a woman Democrat who was Hillary Clinton.  Not knowing what the nuclear triad is isn't as important as securing that ninth Supreme Court seat; bragging about sexual assault is of less significance than having a signature for corporate tax cuts.  He was a lout, a bully, an ignoramus, a conspiracy theorist, a bigot, a vulgar prick, a joke, the punchline to that very same joke, a public disgrace, a conman, a lousy investment, a lousy investor, a disaster when they voted for him.  

The biggest difference between the man who asked the Russians to continue to perform acts of computer sabotage against American interests and the man who bragged to the Russians about American intelligence receipts in a way that jeopardized our reciprocity arrangements with Israel and possibly outed and jeopardized the life of an Israeli intel source is, perversely, that while both men display a contempt for American security, it's only the first man who possibly committed a quasi-criminal act.  I.e. it's the same asshole, but now he has the latitude and immunity that the Executive is granted by the Constitution and custom.

So, yes, he can tell the American military to launch nukes against whichever Korea we're against, or maybe both of them just to be sure we get them all, and there's nearly nothing that can be done about it because this is how we've done up our 1787 suicide pact when we were cute and innocent and more concerned about trade between Virginia and Massachusetts than we were with multilateral trans-Pacific partnerships.  (Something which, oh by the way, under the new management, it turns out we aren't that interested in anymore because the fucking moron is abdicating American international responsibilities and leadership in a way this country hasn't seen since the Spanish-American War marked our great coming out--goddamn, goddamn, goddammit.)  We are obligated to wait for him to be demonstrably incapacitated (not just dumb) or demonstrably guilty of malfeasance (not just incompetent) because that's what our rules tell us to do.  And it's quite nice and charming for Ezra Klein to suggest we set aside what the words say and are taken to mean in order to do what's necessary, but to do so is hardly constitutional.  And what I'd submit to you (not, I think, for the first time), is that the flaw isn't within our reluctance to invent a bold new interpretation of the words in which they no longer mean what they appear to mean, but rather in the words themselves.

Which, you know, effectively means we're fucked.  I mean, we might as well come right out and say it: we need a new Constitution, a new document, new rules, a new government, a new order.  But to get there we'd need women and men who would be competent for such a grand task, not the bootlickers and cumjobbers and hacks who burden and plague our politics.

The rational constitutional convention wouldn't be a lot of Republicans and Democrats arguing about Jesus and guns and how much corporate financing is too much.  We'd look to the most important elements of American culture--artistic, military, scientific, historical, technological, economic, political, whatever--and we'd pick out the most highly regarded minds in those fields, and we might throw in some wild cards to make sure we had a diverse mix of ideology, ethnicity, gender, and creed; and we'd have them look at what was working and not working in other democratic systems and work from there.  Which is exactly the kind of convention we wouldn't end up with; what we'd end up with is the Republicans would pick x delegates and the Democrats would pick x delegates, and they'd grandstand and preen a bit and we'd end up with much of what we already have except it would turn out upon close inspection to be sponsored by Verizon and funded by the Kochs.

Ezra Klein ponders future historians wondering what was wrong with us.  As if it will be that hard to answer.  What was wrong with us was that we got ourselves deeply embedded in a broken system that was carried tumbling along into a ditch by inertia until it got wobbly enough to fall over and everyone died.  The loose tire came off the broken axle and it went on down the road and there wasn't a good way to get off of it because there just wasn't.  They won't actually wonder what was wrong with us, assuming they exist and we don't end the planet (because that's certainly not completely out of the question, what with the nukes and the global warming and the poisons and the plagues and what-all); they will diagram the forces that tore the vehicle apart, like FAA investigators or historians of the Roman Empire.  They will identify a hundred causes and also just one: a dozen systems and subsystems systematically failed, also wasn't tightened and man it just fell out you know, damn.  Obviously I don't have a lot of hope.  I don't know think we can fix this.  I don't know if this can be reset.


We are fortunate

>> Monday, October 02, 2017

I am waiting to know more, if more can be known, about a man and his guns before I say anything, if there is anything to be said, about a man and his guns.

But let it be said as a matter of first impression that we are a fortunate people, to have a Supreme Court that has found in our Constitution a sacred right to not be inconvenienced by the need to work a bolt-action, nor by being overmuch delayed in reloading a weapon, nor by any obstacles to possessing large quantities of ammunition.  Thank goodness for that.  It would be a terrible thing for a man and his guns to have to slow down or suffer any delay in his sacred rate-of-fire.  Thank goodness it is not difficult to obtain and possess a firearm in the United States of America.

If anything, let us bemoan the fact that not enough good people carry firearms of their own, with which they might have peppered the facade of a forty-three story building if someone who was not classed with the good people took a room on the thirty-second floor and took advantage of the fine view overlooking a public venue.  Let us think of how much good could have been done if only guns were even easier to acquire and possess in these United States of America.

It is good to be an American today.  We are fortunate.  I ask my fellow Americans to remember this and reflect upon it.  Such good fortune we have.  And I ask the rest of the world to take no pity upon us nor hold us in their prayers: we Americans proudly live in the country we have made, you see, and we get what we deserve.


Where we are with Elvis

>> Thursday, September 14, 2017

He is thirteen, which nobody considers old for a cat but is nowhere near young. A wild tom wouldn't live to such a Methuselah age and housecats didn't either until Science. Sort of a lot like humans, then; thirty-five used to be middle age and I should get to the point.

My cat is dying, not too quickly (we think) but more quickly than he would be if he didn't have cancer in his belly that has spread into his lungs. We are beyond surgery or chemo, but his vet thinks he's got eight to twelve good months if we can get him eating again and holding down what he eats. So we have medicine and hope for that and no way of knowing if he will be our boy for six months or sixteen, days or years, a moment or a while. 

But probably not the while.

There's a cliché when you mention cancer that is the reason this will be a no-comments post; lots of people like to say, "Fuck cancer," and I have no criticism of that, it's just not something I feel like reading or hearing right now. I'm not angry that my cat has cancer, and to be honest I really just feel like cancer is a thing that happens because sometimes cells just gotta be cells. I'm not angry, I'm sad and impotent and grieving and not ready for the end of the story that was in some sense inevitable when I brought Elvis home; a human being's maximum lifespan is about eighty years longer than a cat's. 

If you're reading this, odds are you're feeling love and sympathy. Thank you.

It seems shallow, maybe, that the illness or death of an animal can be more devastating to me than a human's. I can only say that human beings have agency and sentience far above what most beasts possess. If I were told I had a year to live, I could cash out my retirement and drag Kat on a whirlwind world tour. Or blow all the money on bourbon instead and try to beat my own deadline. Or join a cult. Or go nuts over so-called "alternative medicine;" perhaps try to cure death with an all-smoothie diet blended from exclusively purple fruits and vegetables. Or give away all my material things and spend every waking hour in Buddhist temples. But my cat: he may have no idea he's dying, and the quality of his remaining life of whatever length is left to me and whatever wisdom I supposedly have.

So, you know, I've cried a lot today. To the best of my knowledge, Elvis doesn't know why. If he's noticed, even.

While we're here, I'd like to say I have some wonderful people in my life. Yes, of course you guys. But also. Doctor Hartge has been wonderful through this. (She's at South Point Pet Hospital in Belmont with Doctor Dobies, who has known Elvis longer than I have. Everybody at South Point has been wonderful.  They always are.)  She didn't want to tell me what the X-ray showed over the phone, an X-ray which she just sort of decided to do because his not-eating bugged her and so she had me sign a consent for it when I dropped him off for what was supposed to just be a steroid to boost his appetite), until I insisted because I needed to know.

I got her call while I was in court.  The D.A., Mark Warshawsky, and Judge Collins continued the case I had in that courtroom just as a matter of course when I came back in the courtroom, obviously upset.

I went from there back to my office, where my boss, Kellum Morris, didn't even wait for my entire blubbered explanation before telling me to give my files for today to Elizabeth Lutz, who pretty much runs everything, for him to cover.  Elizabeth was wonderful, too.

And my wife, of course.  I drove back to Charlotte to pick her up--Belmont, where SPPH actually is, is one-third of the way from Gastonia, where I actually work, and Charlotte, where I live--and drove back out to Belmont, two-thirds of the way back to my office, because I couldn't have gotten through the details of sitting down with the vet and everything else without her, just couldn't have.

And of course there's Elvis, who doesn't know what the big deal is, who only knows he had a very bad day of car rides and poking, without the least clue of how bad it really was for him.

I don't know if any of the folks mentioned in this section other than my wife would ever read this, but thank you, all of you, thank you.


A Norm is just the guy sitting at the end of the bar

>> Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Commentary about Trump’s behavior has tended to assume that presidential norms, once broken, are hard if not impossible to restore. This can be true, but in Trump’s case isn’t. Presidents don’t embrace their predecessors’ norm entrepreneurship unless it brings political advantage, and Trump’s hasn’t. His successors are no more likely to replicate his self-destructive antics than they would be if he yelled at the first lady during a public dinner or gave a televised address from the White House Rose Garden in his bathrobe.

Another reason presidential norms will prove resilient is that Trump’s aberrant actions have been sweepingly condemned. He has been rebuked for his attacks on investigatory independence not just by his political opponents but by more-sympathetic voices in the Republican Party and on the Wall Street Journal editorial page, and even, implicitly, by his own Justice Department appointees, who have continued the Russia investigation despite his pushback. Trump’s response to the violent demonstrations in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August produced a uniform outcry that will reinforce norms for future presidents about denouncing racism and racial violence. The majority of the other presidential norms that Trump has defied will similarly be strengthened by the reactions to his behavior, and will snap back in the next presidency.

The Atlantic, October, 2017.

Goldsmith's piece is worth reading in its entirety, and I think I agree with most of what he says.  But that passage bothered me and is one of the places where I don't quite agree.

I think he's right insofar as I don't expect the next president to contradict his own cabinet nearly as often, or to spend as much time on Twitter, or to be even half as dishonest, or to attempt to get loyalty oaths from Justice Department personnel, or to misbehave as much as Trump has.  But the problem isn't that the next President will act just as Trump has; the problem is that by establishing such a low bar, Trump has given future Presidents much greater latitude for misbehavior than they previously had, and that's what's hard to come back from.

When George W. Bush came into office, he didn't have to be terribly scrupulous about tiny little technicalities like truth, he simply had to not allow an intern to perform fellatio upon him and then not lie about receiving oral sex from said intern while under oath.  I don't think we can separate the Bush administration's willingness--and ability--to lie about the casus belli for the Iraq War from the fact that the Bush administration could take cover behind Bill Clinton's lapses in integrity.  And, for better or worse, the Obama administration surely received less scrutiny over targeted killings and drone strikes than they would have received had their predecessor administration not been such a shitshow of martial incompetence that the ethics of an assassination program were subordinate to plastering over the excesses and errors the Bush administration made in Afghanistan and Iraq.  In both of the last two administrations, at least some criticism could be deflected by an implicit, "Well, hey, you don't really want to go back to the previous guys, d'ya?"  (This effect declined over time and was far less true for both administrations in their second terms than in their first, I think.)

The point is, there's a consequence to lowering expectations.  It is very possible, though by no means certain, that the next President receives some level of praise and congratulation merely for not pissing on his own shoes, in much the same way one we are still afflicted with stories and editorials about how Trump might finally be becoming "presidential" if he manages to get through a meeting with a foreign leader without burning an intelligence source or gets through a speech without going off on a mad tangent about how he really won 111% of the popular vote when you factor out all the dead illegal aliens who voted eight times each or whatever the latest version is.

I want to be clear that I don't think the damage is necessarily permanent, just that it might be more permanent and subtle than Goldsmith is allowing for, and this is one of the things that's upsetting about the Trump presidency.  (Because, y'know, we were suffering from such a shortage of things to be distressed about regarding the Trump presidency, right?)  Things tend to ratchet mostly in one direction, and when they get pulled back, they often don't get pulled back to the original baseline.  The way we pull them back, of course, is to demand a higher level of accountability and to stomp our little feet and wave our tiny fists and demand that things go back to the way they ought to have been; a problem, meanwhile, being that we may have little choice in what we settle for in retracting ourselves from this mess.  Mike Pence, for example, would be a vast improvement over the current sitting President, notwithstanding the fact that Mike Pence is a man who would face such difficulties being elected President in his own right, his easiest route to the office actually is to attach himself, shamelessly and lamprey-like, to an incompetent buffoon who freakishly beats the odds and is elected to the presidency only to get impeached eighteen months into the first term.


Fa, fa, fa...

>> Friday, September 01, 2017

source: Wikipedia
The hillsides ring with "Free the people"
Or can I hear the echo from the days of '39?
With trenches full of poets
The ragged army, fixin' bayonets to fight the other line
- "Spanish Bombs" (Strummer, Jones)

I don't like violence.  I'm not sure if I'm still the pacifist I was when I was young, but I'm still not a fan of the real stuff.

But.  You know, I've seen a lot of folks, including folks on the left who probably mean well but should know better, drawing all these dubious equivalencies between fascists and Antifa, the leftists and anarchists who have been turning up at so-called "Alt-Right" (i.e. white nationalist) rallies to engage in the once-popular and revered hobby of Nazi-punching.  And if I can't quite, quite, quite condone throwing rocks and fists as a general proposition, I have to tell you that I cannot, will not, absolutely won't condemn anybody fighting fascists even if their methods hurt my heart on the general principle that there is already too much grief in the world.

Because.  Oh, for all sorts of reasons, because.  Because there is a noble and romantic American tradition of fighting fascists going back to the 1930s and Americans crossing the Atlantic Ocean to take up arms in Spain against Franco and his Nazi string-pullers years before the United States and Germany declared war on one another on December 11th, 1941.  And then, of course, when America and Germany did go to war, the United States went toe-to-toe with German and Italian fascists and handed them their asses before we hanged the ones who didn't conveniently off themselves first (well, the ones who didn't know any good dope about rocketry, anyway; we aren't perfect).  Because Captain America punched Hitler.  Because our grandparents crossed the waters to liberate Europe or stayed home saving cans and planting Victory Gardens.  Because our grandparents reunited and said, "Never again," and held trials in Nuremburg, signed treaties and enacted laws proscribing genocide and protecting human rights, and established the United Nations.  Because it's a national shame that even the smallest few of their grandchildren are shaving their heads like morons and spouting off rhetoric that we tried to carpet-bomb into oblivion, that we toiled and suffered and sweated and bled so that no one would hear it outside of movies about archaeologists and basterds and indestructible Brooklynites punching Nazi faces, carving Nazi faces, melting Nazi faces, throwing Nazis off of trucks and trains and out of airplanes for posterity.

Because.  Because I agree with whomever it was on social media who pointed out ever-so-aptly that if you ignore a fascist, he'll be recruiting and kicking in your doors and killing you as soon as he's able, but if you ignore an Antifa, he'd rather be eating chips and playing Pokemon GO.  Because I think it's really fucking stupid to compare somebody who is actively trying to create a dystopia with someone who would frankly rather be at home but there are fascists infesting his streets and parks.  Because if you really don't like Antifa, you can't actually have Antifa without "fa," so why don't we get rid of "fa" and then Antifa can go back to posting Myers-Briggs memes to tumblr or whatever would be a better use of not just their time but anybody's?

Because.  Because I hear liberals saying that you shouldn't throw rocks and punches at people who are peacefully protesting even if you disagree with them, and when you put it like that it certainly sounds terrible; except I don't believe for one moment that the fascists are peacefully assembling for anything.  Because even if it appears that the stories about weapons caches being found in Charlottesville have been debunked, I nevertheless see guys walking around with riot shields and their ARs, and I don't care if they have fucking permits to openly carry their God-given Second Amendment firearms, it looks to me like they're out to intimidate, minimum, and maybe shoot someone, maximum.  Because it wasn't Antifa that was posting videos about driving through crowds and then, lo and behold, will wonders ever cease, here's somebody--not Antifa--driving through a crowd and murdering a young woman.

Because.  Because I also hear some of those same hand-wringing liberals saying that if, if there are bad people showing up in the white supremacist throng, we ought to let the police handle that, etc.; and I agree with this in principle but I'll be damned in practice if I can see any reason anyone ought to think that law enforcement is prepared--or even, terrible honesty, willing--to take on armed white nationalist thugs in our streets.  Because it seems to me from recent incidents in which African-Americans were shot by cops for being lawfully armed with handguns while white guys are romping and rallying while bedecked from tip to toe with paramilitary hardware and cops are just quietly milling, you might reasonably wonder whose side the police are on.  Because I'm not a fan of people taking the law into their own hands and yet I can't really fault anyone who might be thinking the law isn't protecting anyone, or worse yet isn't there to protect them from people who are infatuated with treason and a betrayal of the bedrock American values of liberty, justice, and equality.

Because.  Because I think some of those hand-wringing conservatives aren't actually upset in principle by people arming themselves and claiming violence as a prerogative that isn't reserved to the state in a form of public trust.  Because I think what these hand-wringing conservatives, some of them, anyways, are really upset about is the unpleasant (for them) discovery that the mental image they'd assembled of the left being a bunch of faggy intellectuals obsessed with self-abasement and apologizing for their own existence turns out to be not so much.  That it turns out, you know, that some liberals are in fact willing to arm themselves and/or throw a punch or a brick, and indeed always have been.  That what really upsets them is they had this idea that they could strut around with their guns and body armor sneering at the quivering libtards and snowflake SJWs, it never having occurred to them that the reason we are so loath to resort to violence has nothing to do with incapacity or impotence, and everything to do with a deep philosophical belief that the last resort actually comes last.  That some of them never imagined, I think, that we might not be opposed to guns because we're cowards, but because we're actually opposed to guns, and we didn't want it to come to this, but if you're wanting to see how far you can push it.  That there are not just a few, but a few million of us, who could be stealing that famous old line from The Incredible Hulk TV show: don't make us angry... you wouldn't like us when we're angry.

And thus and so: no, I'm not sure I can approve.  Leastaways, I didn't want to approve.

But I'm not, I'm surely not, I'm truly not going to condemn.


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...Frank Gorshin-obsessed bikers.

...Frank Gorshin-obsessed bikers.
GorshOn! ©2009 Jeff Hentosz

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