A brief note on the racist, homophobic attack of Jussie Smollett, an actor I hadn’t heard of until a few days ago, but whose severe beating by a pair of “MAGA country” assailants has left me no less horrified, no less outraged, no less fearful of the real-life implications of our prevailing political discourse.
We aren’t born wanting to hurt people who look and act and love differently than we do. We learn that shit. And it’s taught to us with words.
Words breed hate. Hate breeds violence. Violence breeds tragedy.
So let’s not pretend that words don’t matter, that the only things words can hurt are feelings (as if feelings also don’t matter). Because what you might deride as “political correctness” I see as an urgent defense of people’s lives, a fight for their very humanity. It’s life and death, it’s self-preservation, it’s trying not to let one person’s words get another person killed.
Please stop telling me that gun control “won’t solve gun violence.”
Because no shit. I know it won’t. And I don’t know anyone who thinks it will.
But gun control works. It reduces gun deaths, and when done right, dramatically so. This isn’t speculation. It’s an empirical reality. Lives will be saved. Not all of them. But a hell of a lot.
In addressing the social ills that feed America’s gun-violence epidemic, access to guns should be low-hanging fruit. Good gun control makes it harder for the wrong people to get guns.
I realize gun control won’t zero out gun deaths in this country; I realize a determined-enough killer can find a way around the law. But “this won’t 100% eradicate the problem so why bother?” is a bad argument.
The harder it is to get a gun, the harder it is to kill someone with one.
Despite being the third-worst school shooting in US history, I’ve heard some discussion about how much worse yesterday could have been, about the countless lives that were likely saved by the proven evasive tactics in which the students and teachers were trained, as if we should be proud of this, as if we should find solace in the fact that there’s enough relevant data to develop effective life-saving strategies for these things, as if we should feel good that our schools now hold routine mass-shooting drills and that so many children knew exactly what to do to save themselves, as if it’s a relief that we’re so well trained for these attacks that “how much worse it could have been” is the miraculous testament we pull from once-unthinkable tragedy.
I am beyond grateful for all of yesterday’s survivors. But I am bewildered by the cost at which their lives were spared.
Great news, everyone. The president is fine. Better than fine, in fact. He is in excellent health.
That’s the word, anyway, from Dr. Ronnie Ronny Jackson, the navy physician who administered Mr. Trump’s annual physical last week, and who reports that the exam went “exceptionally well.”
What exactly made this routine checkup exceptional isn’t clear. Maybe past presidents’ exams were at best uneventful, and at worst had Dubya chasing the doctor’s flashlight like a cat chasing a laser-pointer. Maybe Bill Clinton was a little too dodgy about his history of substance non-inhalation, and Barack Obama wouldn’t quit stanning a health plan so thoroughly government-controlled that Chuck Schumer would personally administer prostate exams. I don’t know.
All I know is that everything Donald Trump does is, by definition, superlative – he makes the biggest deals, surrounds himself with the best people, takes the most beautiful shits – and last week’s visit to Walter Reed Medical Center was no exception.
Wait, I mean it was an exception.
Wait, I mean … EXCEPTIONAL, DAMMIT.
The exam came amid growing concerns over the 71-year-old president’s mental and physical health. With his outward appearance and public behavior echoing the symptoms of ailments you wouldn’t wish on your worst POTUS (whoever that may be), speculation about Trump’s medical condition – and thus his fitness to hold office – has been rampant.
But now, with the results of his physical in, we can safely set these worries aside. Mr. Trump remains the HEALTHIEST PRESIDENT EVER– aone-man #resistance to all known maladies, the very picture of robust, youthful vigor. His body’s as fit as his nuclear button is large; his mind’s as sound as his motives are (racially) pure. Unencumbered by the frailties of a low-energy mortal, President Stable Genius is the tip-top, forever-winning Adonis we need to Make America Great Again.
To help us understand the great relief this news brings, I have compiled a list of illnesses that the president’s exceptional, outstanding, five-out-of-five physical exam has ruled out. After years of sneaking suspicion and nagging worry, of praying each ostensible symptom was but a benign Trumpian quirk, I believe this list – this dossier of diseases Donald Trump definitely doesn’t have – will reassure us all that the fate of the free world is in strong, vital, totally normal-sized hands.
1. Super herpes: Because regular herpes just isn’t good enough, super herpes are the biggest, most beautiful herpes, and can only be contracted by the very best people.
2. Donorrhea: Being a paragon of male sexual dominance is not without its risks, and this pesky infection, if left untreated, can lead to erratic genital spasms that doctors call “unstable peenius.”
3. Hair cancer: A disease that gives the hair a stale yellow pallor and a straw-like texture suitable for the nesting of migratory birds (although the most MAGA-lignant form of the disease wants those birds deported).
4. Pout: When the accumulation of chemical preservatives from an all-McDonald’s diet freezes one’s lips in a terse, unsightly pucker.
5. Covfefe fever: When the daily barrage of fake news causes a fire-and-fury-level spike in one’s temperature, leading to bizarre hallucinations, wild delusions, and delirious tweeting of inscrutable nonkitten in the dead of hat where now in llama pill the bigly quiet to oprah expialidocious wantfofo qeelhalsklf yyy %4#@J&.?
6. Diagreedes: A chronic condition where one’s health depends on daily infusions of ill-gotten wealth. Treatments include stiffing contractors, swindling college kids, bilking taxpayers, gaming bankruptcy laws, laundering mob money, and peddling a “luxury” brand of gaudy crap.
7. Mar-a-Laria: Found exclusively in the tropical climes of South Florida, this disease comes with a $200,000 initiation fee. Symptoms include profuse vomiting of a tacky slime (that blends right in with the décor), and a distinct orang-ing of the skin known as Dondice.
8. Klanish flu: Usually found in the Louisiana fever-swamp where David Duke goes to spawn, this disease comes with a whole basket of deplorable symptoms, including a tendency to retweet known white supremacists, the urge to berate uppity Black athletes, and an outspoken affinity for crusty Confederate monuments. Left untreated, the disease can result in an extreme narrowing of the urethra some call “very fine peep-hole.”
9. Misogynist swine flu: Symptoms include compulsive pussy-grabbing, the urge to spit petty epithets at threatening vagina-havers, feelings of profound sexual inadequacy, and profound sexual inadequacy. On the upside, one may discover an uncanny ability to surpass infinitely better-qualified rivals and rise to positions for which he is grotesquely unfit, simply because he has a penis.
10. Irritable scowl syndrome: A reflexive, peevish grimace that occurs whenever the afflicted is reminded that a woman beat him by 3 million votes.
11. Alt-rightis: A chronic disorder where one experiences searing physical pain whenever the faintest whiff of “social justice” is detected. Common triggers include all-female reboots, people who refuse to get over slavery, people who ignore all the good things Hitler did, men who look like feminists, non-self-loathing gays, all-gender restrooms, poor people living into their 40s, Beyoncé, Muslins, her emails.
12. YUGE-pox: Basically, the body becomes one giant, festering boil that discharges a stream of putrid slime 12 times a day – usually on Twitter.
13. There’s-a-Tweet-for-Everything Tourette’s: A disorder where the afflicted constantly engages in – and loses – arguments with himself due to an uncontrollable urge to blurt statements his own copious Twitter receipts will unfailingly demolish.
14. Bowel Obstruction of Justice: When one’s desperate attempts to shit on the rule of law are blocked by the stone-cold special prosecutor climbing straight up their ass.
15. Putin sensitivity: When exposure to the shifty machinations of a glorified international crime boss leaves one susceptible to blackmail, criminal indictment, and impeachment. Sufferers are advised to collude with their lawyers to determine the best defense, but a daily dose of congressional ambivalence has proved to be a highly effective check on the most serious symptoms.
16. Peebola: I’m not gonna describe this one. There’s a videotape.
17. Shithole: A foul, racist diarrhea of the mouth. (Whatever. He totally has this one.)
Apropos of absolutely nothing but the fact that today is President’s Day, I was reminded earlier that it’s time for my annual perusal of Article II of the U.S. Constitution.
During this year’s reading – again, for reasons entirely unrelated to any events that might have transpired over the weekend – a couple of clauses really grabbed me:
Section 1: [The President of the United States] shall hold his office during the term of four years …
Section 2: … and he shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint … judges of the Supreme Court …
Straightforward enough, right? The president gets to be president for four years at a time, and it’s the president’s job to appoint new Supreme Court justices. Two simple but all-important mandates from the majestic scroll that governs this great republic.
But why did these clauses, in particular, stand out to me?
Well, I kinda lied about it having nothing to do the events of this past weekend. You see, despite my usual aversion to hard drugs, it seems that on Saturday evening I slipped into a feverish crack dream in which a sudden vacancy on the Supreme Court drove America insane.
In this dream, a pack of crazed, power-hungry horror clowns shrieked at the prospect of the sitting president nominating a new justice. He should wait, they snarled between gnaws of each other’s flesh-stripped clown bones, for one of them to take his place so they could fill the vacancy with their Dark Lord Pennywise.
Meanwhile, Senator Jowly McChickenjowls tried to convince America that Article II was little more than a flight of whimsy dreamed up in a sappy Aaron Sorkin drama. He claimed that executive power goes limp after three years, and vowed the Senate wouldn’t advise and consent to the president’s Netflix queue, let alone any judicial nominee he had the stones to field in an election year.
The argument went that only a mad, ruthless tyrant would seek to fill a high court vacancy before the people (no, not those people– some other people) had had their say. These opponents claimed that doing so would shatter a precious American tradition that had stood for millennia, and swore on the holy shrine of their sainted Spirit Father that the exact same transgression definitely hadn’t occurred 28 years earlier.
For his part, the tweedy Constitution-nerd of a president stubbornly refused to heed these concerns, ignoring, as usual, those who only asked that he relinquish all power, admit his election(s) had been a freak accident of history, and hurl himself into the fiery abyss. Instead, always the lame-ass stickler, he promptly announced his intent to keep on doing president stuff and comply with his Article II, Section 2 directive.
At this, the Senate’s Meathead Caucus – while confessing that none of them had ever actually gazed upon the Sacred Parchment (but promising they would totally get to it at some point) – howled that this outrageous power grab was SOOOOO not cool, and threatened to run President Poindexter’s court-packing shorts up the filibuster flagpole.
Yes, they were ready to risk a republic-torching constitutional crisis just to show that goody-goody buzzkill in the White House what’s what. Because patriotism.
Now it’s Monday, and what a relief that I’ve awoken to sweet, serene reality. No cynical hacks selectively voiding Article II clauses. No nakedly partisan attempts to diminish the president’s effective tenure. No IDGAF denial of the chief executive’s right to nominate Supreme Court justices. Because that’s the kind of insanity that can only be conjured in the fog of a psychedelic night terror.
Thankfully, we exist in a world where responsible Constitutional Conservatives are running the show – righteous guardians who would never subvert a single clause of our cherished founding document, or ever dream of shirking their own constitutional obligations.
So, reassured in the knowledge that Article II of the Constitution still stands, and that the unbridled fuckery of a constitutional showdown isn’t upon us, it’s time for me to go online for the first time since Saturday morning and see what news, if any, may have broken over the weekend.
Single-payer healthcare. Tuition-free college. A $15 minimum wage. A path to citizenship. Breaking up the big banks. Overturning Citizens United. Halting mass-incarceration and dismantling the prison-industrial complex. Rebuilding our infrastructure and revitalizing American industry. Getting aggressive on climate change.
These are just a few of the progressive g-spots worked so masterfully by Bernie Sanders. They’re what make him, for so many of us, an absolute dream of a presidential candidate. His message is a sweet serenade that gives us the deep-down quivers, pitching tender, irresistible woo to our idealistic hearts.
Bernie is our political soul mate. So why would we even think about giving it up for someone else?
Well, in case you haven’t noticed, there’s a shitnado of sheer, unmitigated lunacy swirling on the other side of the presidential race. This year’s slate of contenders for the Republican nomination is an unholy roster of unhinged, retrograde sociopaths ranging from “scary” to “HOLY FUCKING SHIT I’M MOVING TO A SURVIVAL BUNKER IN THE YUKON IF WE LET THIS MANIAC ANYWHERE NEAR THE NUCLEAR LAUNCH CODES.” That this election might very well send one of these mendacious Tea Party dunces to the White House is utterly horrifying. This nation – this world – simply can’t afford it.
And yet, my fellow Berners, an alarming number of you have sworn that, should she emerge as the Democratic nominee, you will refuse to vote for Hillary Clinton. Indeed, there is polling that indicates 14% of Democrats would rather feed their children to rabid hyenas than cast a general-election ballot for Bernie’s top Democratic rival. And that’s scary, too.
To be clear, I’m a fervent Sanderista who’s as eager as anyone for a Bernie Revolution. And with our guy having fought Hillary to a draw in Iowa, and seemingly poised to walk away with New Hampshire tomorrow, I’m thrilled to see it may already be underway. I’ve been watching Bernie defy expectations for twenty-five years, and I know we can win this thing.
But if Bernie ultimately fails to secure the Democratic nomination, I’m going to vote for Hillary. Without hesitation.
Look. I get it. There are plenty of valid reasons to be wary of Clinton, Inc. Many of us were disgusted by the politics Hillary played against Obama in 2008. Many of us will never forgive her pro-Iraq War vote in 2002. And many of us are leery of all the cash she’s collected from her BFFs on Wall Street. And yes, next to Bernie – whose politics have been consistent for decades, and who proudly touts the socialist label despite its liabilities – Hillary comes across as one who would burn down Yellowstone if it would win her Ohio. So if her candidacy gives you pause, I totally understand.
And if, in the event of Hillary’s nomination, you just can’t bring yourself to support her – if you wanna tell Hillz to shove it, and teach Democratic elites a lesson in grassroots resolve – fine. I can’t ask you to defy the tug of your conscience.
The unbridled right-wing havoc we can expect when the Tea Party’s dimmest are running the West Wing seems an awfully steep price to pay just so you can flash an angry middle digit at Hillary. And you know who agrees with me? The B-man himself.
We all want Bernie to be our next president. But if the Democratic nomination isn’t in the cards for him, sticking it to HRC won’t do him any favors. Bernie will shift his support to Hillary, and will surely encourage us, his loyal followers, to back him up. Because he understands the unbelievably high stakes of this election. Because he knows that the alternative to a Democratic win is a piss-our-collective-pants disaster. Because he was right the other night when he said that even on their worst day, both he and Hillary are a hundred times better than any of the Republicans they might face.
In this election, Bernie Sanders stands as a totem for the unabashed liberal soul. Yet his politics don’t preclude him from supporting Hillary Clinton. If you’re a progressive who cannot, under any circumstances, bring yourself to do the same, so be it. But then you don’t get to claim Bernie as your political spirit animal.
HOLY EFFING SHIT THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES JUST CAME OUT IN FAVOR OF SAME-SEX MARRIAGE!!! SWEET MERCIFUL CRAP THIS IS EXCITING NEWS!!!
And, it’s about time.
I know, the position expressed by our president today is not unnuanced or without its caveats. He says he’s okay with the issue being decided state-by-state, a position scorned by most marriage-equality advocates. It’s tantamount to saying, “I personally support marriage equality, but I’m okay with individual states banning same-sex marriage if that’s what they want to do.” And that’s exactly what North Carolina did just yesterday in a crushing setback for marriage equality. Not exactly an affirming backdrop against which to endorse the state-by-state strategy.
However, as I’ve been saying for the past three and a half years, the LGBT community has never had a better friend in the White House. And that distinction is far from marginal. President Clinton signed DOMA and DADT into law. President Bush advocated a Constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, and anti-gay-marriage sentiment played a significant role in his re-election. But president Obama has used his executive authority to roll back federal restrictions on, and extend federal benefits to LGBT Americans. His Justice Department no longer defends DOMA in the courts, and DADT met its demise on Obama’s watch. And now the president publicly supports marriage equality.
I understand that there is little the president alone is empowered to do that would bring sweeping marriage equality across the U.S. I also realize that in this election year, there are politics at play, and that Obama is a politician. But this is a bold and still-risky position for him take. It may have taken him some time to “evolve” to this point, and his current position may still be less-than-perfect, but the president has proven himself a true ally to LGBT Americans.
However long overdue, this is a momentous pronouncement from our president, and it is worthy of celebration. I, for one, will be raising a glass (and perhaps a cupcake) for President Obama this evening.