Thursday, May 11, 2023

Caveat Emptor

"You furnish the pictures. I'll furnish the war."
-- William Randolph Hearst to Frederick Remington
    Spanish American War (possibly apocryphal)

In America, the media is driven by profit. 


Not a sense of duty. 

Not patriotism. 

And certainly not the truth. 


Like everything else in this country. 

The bigger the controversy, the bigger the conspiracy, the bigger the car crash, the bigger the fire, the bigger the rage and hate and insanity, the bigger the boobs, the bigger the jaw, well, the bigger the profit. 

If it bleeds, it leads. 

That, right there, is Trump's only talent, being the biggest, loudest, bloodiest show. 

The rest of the media will follow CNN. 

They'll give Trump whatever he wants. 

And they'll do it knowing it will be the same as last night.

They'll do it knowing that if they push Trump on America, he'll burn the country down just as they and he did last time. 

They know it. 

Like any arsonist, they'll light the fire knowing they can't control the blaze. Knowing people will die. But, that's the whole attraction, that's the thrill, that's what brings out the crowd. 

And the crowd is the payoff. 

There's an old adage in transactional analysis that goes something like: bad strokes are better than no strokes. Now, I'm not going to spend any time regurgitating freshman psychology, but basically the idea is that people allegedly prefer good interactions with others to bad, but bad interactions are better than no interaction at all. And maybe from a personal mental health standpoint that's even true, however evidence would suggest that in this age of ubiquitous 24/7 news, talk shows, and social media, society as a whole prefers bad strokes. Bad strokes and as many as they can get. 

We seek it out, those bad exchanges.

We revel in them, no matter how destructive they are to our own mental health and thus to our society. We're addicted to the drama, the show, the fight, the rage, the hate, the endless argument. 

It's validating. 

It's entertaining. 

No one goes looking for news stories about making the world a better place. 

That's why the holy men never talk about their hippy prophet's messages of peace and love, but rather shout their god's threats of violence and damnation from the pulpit and the street corners and across social media. Don't believe me? Read those signs posted in front of all those churches, never once do you see quotes from Jesus to love your neighbor, feed the hungry, heal the sick, clothe the poor, do unto others, give up your wealth, reserve judgement for your deity. No, it's always hell and damnation and hate.

Peace and love doesn't put asses in pews or money in the plate. 

Rage does and bad stroke are not only better than no strokes, they're a lot more profitable

Rage, hate, insanity, conspiracy, hyperbole, these are the things that drive clicks and likes and thus profit

Essentially: If it bleeds, it leads. 

Because Americans, most of them anyway, aren't interested in a media -- or a religion -- that tells them The Truth. 

Americans by and large aren't capable of managing a four-way stop let alone critical thinking. 

They don't want to be challenged. 

They want their own viewpoint reinforced.

They want to be told they are right, that they are special, exceptional, superior, and that it's everyone else who is in the wrong.

Most of all, they want to be entertained. 

Bread and Circuses while the empire burns, same as it always was.

That's Trump. 

Trump is our Nero. 

He reinforces the very worst in us. 

He tells us it's okay to be an asshole. He tells us it's okay to hate, to rape, to bully, to be violent, to steal, to be greedy, to not give a damn about anyone else, to be crass and uncouth and to gleefully fart in the elevator, to be selfish, to be ignorant, to believe in a world of paranoia and conspiracy, to take the easy way out, and to value profit above all else. 

Trump is Gordon Gecko, greed is good the ends do in fact justify the means -- which is exactly the appeal of every rich man in America. When you're a star, they let you do it. 

He tells us it's okay to fiddle while Rome burns. 

Because he's the one who lit the place on fire for his own self-aggrandizement. 

We're outraged CNN gave Trump unfettered airtime last night, with only the feeblest of resistance and a live audience of handpicked MAGAs to cheer him on and whip him into his usual red-face sweaty frenzy. 

But it wasn't any more an accident than the Great Fire which consumed Rome in 64 AD.   

It wasn't any naïve idea that Trump would act like a rational human being and a normal political candidate. 

They did it on purpose and with malice aforethought, just as Nero did. They don't care about the lives destroyed by the fire, they only see the grand palace they intend to build in its place. 

Warner Brothers Discovery (CNN's parent company) and Chris Licht (CNN's new conservative CEO) knew exactly what would happen.

Licht knew Kaitlan Collins would immediately lose control of the situation. And she did. 

Now to be fair to Collins, it's unlikely given the conditions which were specifically tailored to Donald Trump's worst tendencies that anyone could have kept Trump from doing what Trump does. But, since we're being fair, my sympathy for Collins is about a flat zero, given her extensive personal history with Trump, there's no way she didn't know exactly what she was walking into and exactly what would happen. Also, this is where I remind you that Kaitlan Collins started her career peddling hysteria, hate, and conspiracy theories for The Daily Caller. So long as I'm being fair and all. 

No, everyone at CNN and its parent company knew exactly what would happen. 

They counted on it. 

Because that was the plan all along. 

And from a profit standpoint, it was brilliant. 

Just as Elon Musk offering Tucker Carlson a show on Twitter is brilliant and something that might actually make Twitter profitable again. Maybe not so much great for democracy or ultimately the Republic itself but Musk doesn't give any more of a shit about the future of America than CNN does. 

And not caring about any future beyond profit is what we're talking about here, isn't it?

CNN got exactly what it wanted. 

Fox can only drool in jealousy and you can bet they'll offer Trump airtime on his terms just as soon as they line up advertisers. Ditto CNN, MSNBC, et al.

Now, I'm not really telling you anything that you don't already know, am I? 

But the part that gets overlooked is this: News Media, whoever they are, left, right, their politics change direction at the whim of their drive-by CEOs. Their talking heads switch conviction and allegiance with a Gumby-like flexibility Mitt Romney can only boggle at. If Elon Musk suddenly discovers he can make back his billions from liberals, Tucker Carlson will be pushing vegan diets and solar panels next week without a single backward glance or an admission that he ever believed anything else. Just like that time Glenn Beck decided he hated Donald Trump and thought he could fleece liberals out of a few bucks, then switched back to full MAGA and pretended like it never happened. 

Just like Kaitlan Collins went from The Daily Caller to liberal CNN and is now the darling of the new MAGA CNN. 

There are no heroes. 

There is only profit.

And I don't expect any better from the Press than I do from Donald Trump. They are one and the same, made for each other like a snake eating its own tail. 


Sure, but it's no different than it's always been. 

From the broadsheets of the British colonists to the yellow journalism of Hearst and Pulitzer to the content scraping blatant plagiarism of outfits like Occupy Democrats to this latest stunt by CNN, in America, the media has always been about profit first, second, and last.

(So have our politicians and our religions, but I digress)

Now, there are plenty of journalists with integrity and who hold their professionalism and convictions dear even if it costs them their livelihood -- and sometimes even their very lives. 

But the institution itself is about profit and always has been.

In America, the Press is supposed to be the watchdog of liberty, which is why it is the only private enterprise specifically given enumerated rights in the Constitution. And there are times when it is that, maybe less so now than in recent memory, but those periods of principle over profit are comparatively few and far between in the overall history of the business.

Expecting anything else is going to get you nothing but bitter disappointment. 

As always, the burden is on us. 

The Press, the politicians, the various gods and their prophets -- or profits, depending -- will not save the Republic or build a better future. 

They will not because they have no interest in any better future and never have. That better future is boring. It is war and chaos and hate and rage and hysteria that sells newspapers -- or clicks and likes and YouTube views in the modern currency. 

Or votes, for that matter.

No, that better future is on you, Citizen. 

Just as it has always been.

That's why the Constitution begins with "We the people..." not politicians, not political parties, not religion, not the Press, not corporations, but we the people

Because that's where the real power lies, if only we have the wit and the determination to use it wisely. 

If you want a better nation, be a better citizen. 

“Every time a newspaper dies, even a bad one, the country moves a little closer to authoritarianism…”
-- Richard Kluger, Pulitzer Prize winning American author. 

Tuesday, March 7, 2023


You've got an invalid haircut
It hurts when you smile
You'd better get out of town
Before your nickname expires
It's the kingdom of the spiders
It's the empire of the ants
You need a permit to walk around downtown
You need a license to dance
-- Warren Zevon, Life'll Kill Ya

What if you had enough? 

No, really, what if you had enough?

You ever think about that? 

Really think about it? 

What if things were okay. Not great, but okay? 

What would you do if things were okay? If you had enough?

What would you do? Who would you be? 

What if you had enough money? I mean, not rich or anything. Maybe not even "well off." But mostly enough. That's the measure in our society, isn't it? Money. That's how we measure happiness, success, contentment. So, what if you had enough? Enough money.

What if you were better off than your parents. Getting by. You got a house, a car, some nice things. Sure you have a mortgage and a car payment, who doesn't? You're not living under a viaduct somewhere, right? Hopefully anyway. I mean, you could maybe live in a smaller place. You could drive a small cheaper car, something that gets good gas mileage instead of that monster $70K SUV with the V-8 and the 4-Wheel drive that you don't actually need, not to mention all that chrome. You could do that. But the thing is, you have the option and you don't want to. 

What if you had enough to eat? Maybe not steak and lobster every day, but enough to eat. What if you mostly ate food that you liked? Because you could? What if you had extra food even, enough that you didn't have to worry about every bite and could scrape the parts you didn't like into the trash? What if you routinely had the option to turn your nose up at certain foods and pick something else from the menu? What if you could expect a full belly, every day? And snacks. And drive up windows. And you could even eat stuff that was bad for you, not because you have to, but because you like it. And then you had the option to go to the gym and work it off, but you could just sit on the couch and watch 900 channels of TV instead. If you felt like it. 

What if there was no war? I don't mean holding hands and singing Kumbaya and all men are brothers or any of that John Lennon hippie bullshit. But what if there was no war right now? I didn't say the world wasn't dangerous, but what if the country was more or less at peace? No draft. The economy good enough that young people don't have to join the military for a decent paycheck or a college education. What if there was no danger of your kids dying in some incomprehensible fight overseas? What if the enemies of you nation weren't bombing you? Hell, couldn't even really reach you, because of oceans and distance and lack of capability. 


What if you wanted to go to war anyway? What if you actually had that option? You live in a country that isn't at war, but you could go to war if you really wanted. What if there was a war overseas somewhere that didn't really involve you, but if you really wanted to fight, you could volunteer? You didn't have to, but you could? You could kit up, get yourself outfitted, and head on over to fight for some other flag? What if you were so privileged, you actually had that option, right? 

What if there were plenty of jobs? Maybe not great jobs, but plenty of them. You don't like what you do? You could quit. Because everyone was hiring. What if you could join a union and get better benefits and pay and working environment? What if there was record low unemployment and business had to kiss your ass because they needed you? 

What if you had all the civil rights? What if no one tried to stop you from voting or living in a certain place or being who you wanted to be? What if the cops didn't stop you for no reason or beat the shit out of you on the street just because they can? What if you could just identify as who you felt you were inside and then you could go out in public and be that person -- oh, I'm not talking about gender, though that too, but identity as a political party, an ideology, a patriot, a protester, an evangelist for your religion -- all the kinds of identities we just take for granted. What if you could wear the symbol of your religion or a hat with the words of your political affiliation on it in bold letters and the worst that happened to you was that you maybe got a dirty look once in a while? 

I mean, what if you had all the privilege of your society?

What if the world just assumed you were right simply because of who you are?

What if there were social safety nets? Nothing great, but you aren't going to end up in some "sanitarium" or an old folks home or a work house like your grandparents generation. 

What if you wanted to take a vacation and there were plenty of safe places to go? 

What if you wanted your kids to go to school and there were multiple choices -- including a religious option funded by the government that taught your particular brand of hate and intolerance and non-scientific fantasy-based bullshit and the rest of the country had to regard that "education" as valid? And your kid didn't even have to take the smelly old bus like the public school riff-raff because you had the luxury of driving your precious little snowflake to school every day in your giant gas swilling SUV?

What if you needed an operation? Or a cavity filled? And you could just go get that done?

What if you turned on the tap and clean potable water came out?  

What if you breathed the air and it mostly didn't give you cancer because government required the local factories to obey regulations?

What if there were public services, fire, library, schools, police, etc. And you could depend on them always being there when you needed them? 

What if that was your life? Or enough of the above anyway? What if you had enough?

What would you do then? 

Really, what would you do. That's not a rhetorical question.

What kind of person would you be? 

If things were okay, not great but okay. And not only okay, but a good chance that they could be better. That it would be better for your kids and better for their kids and so on? 

What would you do?

Would you just live you life? 

Would you enjoy it?

Maybe go play ball with your kid? Go for hike and enjoy the outdoors? Read? Watch a movie. Talk to your neighbors? Learn a skill? Go dancing? Putter around in the garden? Visit your family? Grill out? Go to the beach? Have a snowball fight? 

What would you do if you had enough? 

Would you enjoy your life? 

Would you really

Because that's the reality for a significant number of Americans. 

Not all, certainly. No, certainly not all. But many. Most even. We have enough. More than enough. Especially compared to those elsewhere in the world who very much don't have anywhere near enough. 

But, that's the funny thing, isn't it? 

That's the thing about having enough: it's never enough

Anyway, say you did have...

What's that? 



Heh heh. Yes I see you. There in the back. Red faced. Yellow eyed. Mad as hell. Fingers reaching for your keyboard in righteous rage. Oh yeah, I see you. You'd be hard to miss. 

Who decides what's "enough?"

That's what's pissing you off, isn't it? You've read this far and you're furious, aren't you? You're about to tell me to go fuck myself. Any second now you're going to start shouting accusations: Socialist! Commie! In America we're capitalists and for capitalists it can never be enough, we can't be happy unless we always have more and even to suggest such is downright unamerican! Do you even know who Jeff Bezos is? Elon Musk? Howard fucking Hughes, man? Come on!

That's what you're going to say, isn't it?

Who decides? I'd like to answer: You do. 

You decide what's enough for you. That's the answer you want, right? 

I decide for me. We each decide for ourselves. Yeah?

But that's not really true, is it? 


No it's not. 

You see, society decides what's enough. 

Entertainment. Hollywood. Social media. Pundits. Politicians. Popular music. Our neighbors. 

Most of all, in America, the rich decide for the rest of us and then use their power and influence to convince us it was our idea. 

That's America. 

The majority of Americans today have enough. More than enough.  

But they for damn sure don't enjoy it. Especially the rich. 

I think about this stuff as I'm driving. 

And lately I've had opportunity to do a lot of driving. 

Due to a family issue, I'm now making the journey between Florida and Michigan twice, three times, a month. A thousand miles each way in the car, 14 hours on the road. 

Lot of angry Americans on that road. 

Lot of very angry Americans. 

There's a sign, on Highway 65, bit north of Indianapolis. 

"No Fence. No Jobs. Just crime and drugs."

That's it. That's the whole thing. No fence, no jobs, just crime and drugs. Huge letters. Giant commercial billboard next to the highway. 

No Fence. No Jobs. Just crime and drugs. 

Somebody was mad enough, unhappy enough, that they paid to rent that billboard and broadcast that message to the angry drivers southbound through Indiana twelve hundred miles from the border in question. 

No Fence. No Jobs. Just Crime and Drugs. 

No fence, but of course there is a fence. There's a wall. There's an entire branch of government dedicated to patrolling the border. But most ironically, the very people who are the most unhappy about that supposed lack of a fence are the very same people name for name who once cheered a Republican president when he stood in Berlin and demanded oppressive foreign leaders tear down walls instead of building them. I wonder, what the response from America would be if our neighbors built huge walls across our shared borders and told us to keep out and somewhere in the back of my head I can hear the ghost of Ronald Reagan howling in rage. 

No jobs, but of course we currently have the lowest unemployment rate in our history. Business is begging for workers. I drove two thousand miles last month and the one thing that was the same from end to end was the help wanted and we're hiring signs. No jobs. What? 

Just crime, as if there is no crime committed by those born north of that border. As if there isn't plenty of homegrown crime. As if all the crime in America was committed by brown-skinned illegal immigrants from south of the border. As if the kind of crime that affects most Americans most severely isn't some crackhead breaking into your car, but rather trillions in crimes committed by Wall Street investment bankers. As if the biggest criminals aren't the ones who have repeatedly vaporized your mortgages, jobs, retirements, and college funds. And not only do you not see any signs along the highway bemoaning the lack of accountability for these crooks, but we elect them to run our country. 

Just drugs. As if the only drug in America is Chinese fentanyl from Mexico. Right now, certain pundits and politicians and smug angry speakers at the recently concluded CPAC 2023 are advocating for military action against Mexico. Literally, like the previous president, suggesting we bomb Mexico in a massive escalation of the so-called War on Drugs. As if that would somehow get rid of drugs. As if we wouldn't just find something else to shove in to our veins, or up our noses, or down our throats. And if that's not a metaphor I don't know what is, because if Americans didn't want drugs, I mean really want drugs, Mexico wouldn't be supplying them -- same as immigrants and that aforementioned cheap labor. 

Not to mention, Opioids? Well, yeah, that scourge was foisted on us by an amoral AMERICAN company run by a billionaire family in a blatant display of absolute naked greed. The Sacklers had more than enough money, gobs more. But it just wasn't enough. And they didn't care how many American lives they destroyed, so long as they made more. They still don't care. But you never see angry signs along the highway holding Purdue Pharma to account. 

What would you do if you had enough?

Would you be happy?

Or would you look around for something to be miserable about? 

Would you put up a sign next to the highway?

I've got a neighbor here in this backwater little Southern town where I live. If you watch the various podcasts I'm on, you've heard me mention him before. Got to be about 80. Lives in a nice house, middle of town. Nice neighborhood. I don't know, but he looks well fed. Drives a nice SUV. Huge sign out front. XY equals Male!  He's so mad about trans people that he's got a sign in front of his house. That's how mad he is. But, in this town, the odds that he's ever even met a trans person (that he knows of) are vanishingly small. I doubt he could count on the fingers of one hand the number of trans folks he's met in his entire life. Yet, he's mad about it. So mad he's got a giant flag in his front yard. He can't be happy so long as those people exist somewhere in the world even though they literally have no impact on his life in any fashion. Goddamn, is he mad about it. Miserable. Angry. Happy people don't put up signs like that. 

But then, happy people don't go to church or watch Tucker Carlson either. 

What about you?

Instead of enjoying your life, would you go looking for someone to hate? Even if it had nothing to do with you? 

Would you listen to some millionaire TV pundit or some billionaire politician telling you how you're really a victim? That it's really drag queens or immigrants or the commies in China making you miserable, and not your own shitty self? 

What would you do?

Who would you be?

You ever really think about that? 

A bit further down the same highway, just outside Indianapolis, there was another sign: 

"Life's Too Short for Shitty Tacos!" 

Maybe I've had enough of people telling me to be miserable, but that seems like a pretty good philosophy. 

And maybe I've had enough brushes with mortality lately -- which is why I was on that road in the first place. 

Life's too short for shitty tacos. 

And shitty people. 

Life'll kill ya
That's what I said
Life'll kill ya
Then you'll be dead
Life'll find ya
Wherever you go
Requiescat in pace
That's all she wrote

-- Warren Zevon, Life'll Kill Ya

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Piss and Vinegar

 Symbols matter: a Kennedy or a Reagan at the Berlin Wall; a Churchill with a cigar and a bowler; for that matter a green-clad Zelensky growling, ‘I need ammunition, not a ride.’ Simply by taking the hazardous trip to Kyiv, Biden made a strategic move of cardinal importance.
Eliot Cohen, The Atlantic

Joe Biden went to Ukraine.

In the middle of a war. 

In the middle of a war waged by Russia.

And oh goddamn were both the Russians and Republicans mad about it. 

The symbolism of Biden's visit to war-torn Ukraine wasn't lost on the enemies of America. 

(Note: enemies, plural. Foreign and domestic. But I'll come back to that)

Vladimir Putin was damned unhappy about it. 

As well he should be. Because that was the intent. And there was a time when all of America would have cheered such a message. Up yours, Russia!

But that time is long gone. 

Be that as it may, Vladimir Putin is mad. 

You can tell from his speech this morning. 

It was the Moscow version of an American State of the Union Address. I could give you the Russian name of it, but you don't care and loosely translated its mostly just Putin's semi-annual They Hate Us Because They Ain't Us address. 

As such things go, it was a beauty. 

Putin gave the standard invader trope of how his war is really (mostly, sort of) about freeing Ukrainians from the tyranny of Kiev something something gazpacho oppression Nazis Western Powers and so on. No one really cares. Russians know it's bullshit. We know it's bullshit. Putin knows it's bullshit. Ukrainians for damn sure knows its bullshit. But, that's the official line Putin used to start the war and so he's got to ride that bomb all the way down like Slim Pickens a whoopin' and a hollerin' and waving his giant hat all the way to impact (or George Bush looking for Weapons of Mass Destruction, you pays your money and you takes your metaphor).

So, anyway, the Russians are just trying to help out the poor Ukrainians. Please clap. 

Meanwhile, official signs are going up around Moscow that say The Russian Border Ends Nowhere -- which is totally the thing you say when you're just trying to help your neighbors with their government and not rebuild the Russian Empire. 

Putin then launched into how the war is really about standing up to the West's unreasonable oppression of Russia. Also, he says, war is really good for Russia actually because Russian unemployment is down, the Russian economy is booming with making all the Russian war stuff, and also it allows for federalization of Russian business like in the good old days that every good Russian misses. 

Most important, Putin says, the war demonstrates to the world Russia's superior military might and power and enviable victories.  

Please clap.

I gotta tell you, it kind of made me nostalgic for those old Soviet speeches in Red Square. 

Stalin, Khrushchev, Andropov, you knew they were totally full of shit. I mean we knew they were full it, the Russian people knew they were full it, the Soviet Government knew they were full of it, but damn could those Old Guard Communists give a speech while the tanks and missile trucks rumbled by -- most of those machines barely able to finish the parade without breaking down, some actually being towed because they had crapped out before the ceremony even started. 

Putin finished up with a bit about mutual inspections under New START treaty and loudly rejected any access for US inspectors and you change a few names and boy does that sound like something you'd read on Truth Social.  

Anyway, looks like the extremists over there and over here got that new Cold War they've been wanting since the Berlin Wall came down. 

Speaking of extremism over there and over here:

That's sedition. 

From a sitting member of Congress, that's sedition. 

Of course, we apparently allow that sort of thing nowadays and it might even get you a choice committee assignment.  

And I told you we'd come back to enemies domestic and so we have. That's what you're looking at here. An enemy of America. Someone who wants to demolish the United States. Those are her words. 26,000,000 views, as of the time I took the screenshot. 

She might hate America as much, or more, than Putin. 

Greene is not alone in her sedition. Whenever Republicans don't get their way, and can't see any path to getting their way, they start talking about divorce and you don't have to look much further than Texans and their eternal threat of secession for an example. 

I don't suppose it's much of a surprise Greene, elected by people who continue to wave the Confederate flag 160 years after the South lost the Civil War, would suggest breaking up the Union. These people are nothing if not bereft of any new ideas. Just like their ancestors, MAGAs like Greene would rather burn the country to the ground, they would literally rather see America broken up, than live in peace and equality with the rest of us.

For them, life is always and forever a zero sum game. If others gets more, they always feel like they get less. If others are raised up, they always feel diminished. For them, freedom, justice, liberty, these are all measures of relative worth. For them, their perception of their own self worth is a measure of how much better they are than the people they despise. Equality is the single most horrifying concept they can imagine.

For those like Greene to be free, others must always be in chains. Always. 

And just like Vladimir Putin, and likely why they idolize him as a symbol of strength, Republicans of Greene's foul MAGA ilk are intolerant fanatics who are perfectly willing to kill all the rest of us over some manufactured outrage.

Greene, of course, is seen as the most likely candidate to be Trump's running mate in the coming election. That's right, she's angling to be Vice President of a country that she thinks should be broken up and a government that should be eliminated and if that isn't the very epitome of the MAGA mindset I don't know what is. 

Trump himself is on Truth Social this morning again carrying water for Putin. 

I'll spare you the Neville Chamberlain analogy and simply point out the staggering irony of presidential candidates, who themselves continue to engage in open insurrection, cheering on a reborn Russian Empire while at the same time suggesting the literal dismantling of the United States. 

And not only do Republicans see this as a legitimate political position, they consider it patriotism.

We live in dangerous times. 

And I suspect this is one of those moments in history where we are (again) on the very cusp of global madness and destruction. Time will certainly tell. We've stepped away from the brink in our past, though our history is one where we more often scream Geronimo and jump over the edge into the abyss a whoopin' and a hollerin' and waving our giant hats all the way down to violent impact. 

We live in dangerous times. 

But then we always do. 

I do see hope.

Because in this comparison, so long as we stand together, the fanatical dreams of MAGA Republicans like Greene and Trump are very likely as doomed to ultimate failure as is Vladimir Putin's hollow war. 

Which isn't to say there won't be violence and destruction along the way. Because there most certainly will be. It's inevitable now. 

But, just like Ukraine, if you want a better nation, then you're going to have to stand together with other good people and fight for it. 

And in the end, we will win. 

President Zelenskyy and all Ukrainians remind the world every day what courage is. They remind us that freedom is priceless. And worth fighting for. For as long as it takes.
-- President Joe Biden

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

The Mad Titan


I know what you're thinking, 'cause right now I'm thinking the same thing. Actually, I've been thinking it ever since I got here: Why oh why didn't I take the blue pill?
-- Cypher, The Matrix


Elon Musk is doing us all a favor.

We should probably thank him for it. 

No, no, we really should. We should thank Elon Musk. 

Oh, you know, not for destroying a platform that some of us, like Yours Truly here for example, have invested over a decade in, slowly building an audience, writing the content people actually come to Twitter for. 

I don't mean we should thank him for vaporizing that effort, because that's infuriating. 

No. Not that.

I mean we should thank Elon Musk for firing most of Twitter's employees, then using his massive platform to ridicule and harass them and send hordes of his drooling violent sycophants to destroy their lives. Thanks, Elon!

We should thank him for the Twitter Files. For releasing the internal corporate emails of his predecessor, the ones any rational person would interpret as nothing other than people doing their jobs. But we no longer live in a rational nation, and thanks to Elon Musk, the conspiracy nuts, the foreign agents bent to our destruction, and those determined to burn everything to the ground now have more fuel for the fire. 

Oh yes, we should thank Musk for giving voice to the absolute worst elements of our society, the mean little trolls, the racists, the bigots, the misogynists, the violent nationalists, the self-proclaimed Nazis, the Ultra MAGAs, the proudly stupid, the deliberately ignorant, the bullies, the chaos agents, those who hate for hate's sake, the conspiracy nuts, the antivaxxers, the religious lunatics, the seditionists and insurrectionists and the violent howling mob of unhinged bomb throwers. Thanks to Elon Musk, they now not only have a voice, they have full command of the narrative and can spin themselves as victims and martyrs, just as their kind always has to justify their violent hate. 

We should thank Elon for raising up the knuckle-draggers, the Brown Shirts, the goons, the barbarians who would gleefully tear down the fundamental institutions of civilization, civil rights, national infrastructure, equality under the law, education, social safety nets, justice, science, et al, and who would cast doubt on the integrity of democracy and the very worth of civilization itself in order to replace it all with selfish libertarianism, fanatical religion, and violent anarchy. 

It's freedom of speech, not freedom of reach, says Musk. 

Clever. Catchy. And completely arbitrary

And so, we should thank Musk for his random autocratic style of unfettered capitalist greed where you never know what's going to get your voice promoted, or more likely suspended, de-platformed, ruined, starved, and/or made into a target of the violent furious mob for some billionaire's amusement. 

Twitter 2.0 has become the twisted fantasyland of a capricious mad god. 

There are no rules, no appeal, no possible way to know what might offend, or amuse, Elon Musk from one moment to the next, a man who by his own admission finds most social interaction incomprehensible -- and there's the definition of irony if ever there was one. 

Every day on Twitter under Musk is a minefield of dog turds and cat vomit that you must navigate in the dark, barefoot and off balance, ass backwards into the unknown. 

Musk tells us that social media is the town square of democracy, that Twitter is about freedom of speech, and it is -- so long as you are willing to pay for that right, so long as you can afford to give a billionaire your money each month for the privilege of eating out of his garbage can, and so long as you don't make him mad or give offense to the wealthy. Because if you can't or you are unwilling to pay and bend the knee, well, then your voice no longer matters.

Freedom of speech and freedom of reach for $8 a month. What a bargain. 

In a world run by the rich, only those who can pay are worth listening to. 

Yes. Yes, indeed, we should all thank Musk for that, for showing us that world. 

Twitter has become a Second Life simulation of that dystopian America.

Ironically, that's exactly what the Constitution was designed to protect us from. 

The Constitution was literally designed to protect Americans from the capricious impulses of arbitrary power and to prevent some foreign-born despot from ruling over the nation.

Yet, again ironically, those most vocal in their fanatical sycophantic support of this new Twitter and its rule of self-declared absolutism are those who most vocally define themselves as Constitutionalists

Of course, Twitter isn't the government and the Constitution doesn't apply to global social media platforms run by the world's richest man.

(Or second richest man, or whatever his status is today. The exact degree of his wealth and power hardly matters down among us pig shit covered peasants). 

You see, Twitter is a bellwether for what an America, a world, run at the mercurial whims of fickle immoral unrestrained oligarchs would look like. 

And it looks exactly like what our founders were most afraid of. 

Anyone else find it particularly ironic that those self-styled "Alpha Men" who have spent most of their miserable pinch-faced lives bullying those born biologically male as betas, cucks, sissies, fags, queers, gay, girly, pussies...

... and demeaning those born biologically female as butch, dyke, tomboy, masculine, et al...

...are now somehow mad because they are being asked to call LGBTQ people by their preferred pronouns

Musk's complaint is daily echoed by petulant conservative politicians who are right now on his platform decrying wokism. They seem to think the basic common courtesy of calling someone by their preferred address, be it their name or a pronoun, is some terrible form of oppression of the sort where you have to press #1 for English. 

I am particularly boggled at the part where a man whose entire vast fortune was derived almost entirely from the work of science and engineering in the service of capitalism, now turns to unhinged conspiracy theories in an attack on science. That's what he's doing here, you know, by going after Dr. Fauci. That "gain-of-function" dog whistle. Musk knows, couldn't help but know, that gain-of-function is a common tool of virology and medical science, used by science the world over to prepare for and anticipate possible harmful viral mutations of common diseases. Without gain-of-function testing, and loss-of-function, you wouldn't have many common vaccines, or at least not in time to do any good -- and the military would be without a method of protecting its troops from possible weaponization of things like small pox and anthrax. 

There's simply no evidence of the accusations perpetuated by Musk in the second paragraph above. 

In fact, the evidence shows just the opposite, i.e. that Dr Fauci and those scientists like him have quite literally saved the lives of billions.

But blaming experts, the "elites" for some imagined crime combined with the idea that common basic courtesy and respect for others is somehow something something gazpacho OMG NAZIS! is exactly the sort of thing the Nazis themselves actually did to justify their own sense of victimization. 

Musk knows it. Republicans know it. 

They do. Because you notice they never actually provide any specifics. 

Oh no! We're being oppressed by pronouns!

Under the Nazis, Jews and others deemed undesirable, such as LGBTQ people, were murdered wholesale in the camps. 

Under the Soviets, those arbitrarily deemed criminals, such as again LGBTQ people, were sent to the Siberian gulags to die.

In North Korea, they publicly execute people with antiaircraft guns at the whim of Kim Jong Un.

Under Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge murdered so many of their own people, the skulls of the dead were stacked in pyramids as high as a 3-story building.

In East Germany, the Stasi infiltrated every layer of society, turning paranoia into an artform where brother informed on brother and children on parents and people were disappeared into the brutal national security apparatus and never seen again. 

In Argentina, they threw people out of airplanes for fun. 

We still have no idea how many of his own citizens Idi Amin Dada murdered. Or Baby Doc Duvalier. Or Saddam Hussein for that matter. 

Here in America, we once kidnapped Africans from their homeland and turned them into farm equipment, literally made them into livestock and forced them to work in the fields. And the genocide of Native Americans, well, we really have no idea how many died and we really didn't care as our government herded the destroyed ragged remnants of their civilization onto forgotten reservations -- until we needed the resources of that land, I mean. 

But all of that horror pales in comparison to the oppression of ... pronouns. 

The "woke mind virus" as Musk calls it. 

Woke. "The belief there are systemic injustices in American society and the need to address them." That's woke, as defined by lawyers representing Florida State Governor, Ron DeSantis, who is right now in court defending his administration's authority to apparently perpetuate that very systematic injustice instead of correcting it. 

The belief that there are systemic injustices in American society and the need to address them. 

To quote Morpheus, huh

I mean, the same people complaining about "woke," about "cancel culture," are the very people complaining on Twitter about how they are personally being systematically persecuted by American society and "cancelled" due to their beliefs. 

I hate to keep using the word "irony," but there's a degree of perverse hilarity when a man who feels pronouns are oppression named his own most recent offspring "X Æ A Xii" which Musk says should be pronounced "X Ash A Twelve." 

Not to mention that for a guy who is often referred to as being "redpilled" both by himself and by his conservative anti-woke fans...

... there's a stunning lack of self-awareness, given that the term "redpilled" itself entered the anti-woke vocabulary via a film literally written and directed by Lana and Lilly Wachowski -- who are perhaps two of the most prominent and influential trans women in history.

As I said, repeatedly, ironic. 

And sad.

And more than just a bit bizarre. 

Of course, for Musk, it's personal. 

And what of those caught in the middle? 

Those like me. 

Like most of you. 

The ones who actually create the actual content of social media?

The ones currently losing followers and being driven off the platform? 

Musk's business model makes zero sense -- and I'm being charitable by assuming there is such a thing as an actual model or any sense to his behavior whatsoever. 

I mean, what is Musk's end goal? 

He says he wants to make money, that Twitter must be profitable. 

Okay. I can see that. The guy spent $44 billion buying the place, he probably needs to make that back at some point, if only to pay off his creditors. But, instead of building a platform where content creators attract more users, and thus advertisers, and thus profit, he's turning Twitter into a wasteland that attracts only a particular sort of self-abuse.

Musk is gambling that reinstating Donald Trump, James Woods, Laura Loomer, et al, will attract users.

And maybe it will. 

But that is a very limited pool and those aren't the sorts of users who mainstream advertisers are willing to engage. 

And if those who make and sell art, actors who make movies, manufactures who sell soap and frozen pizzas and gewgaws you can't get on Amazon, bloggers, YouTubers, writers, comics, cartoonists, buskers, donut makes and small business owners, and those who don't give a damn about American politics (oh, you forgot about that, didn't you? That a significant number of Twitter's users aren't Americans), or even just people who want to grow a following by tweeting cat pictures, i.e. users who can no longer build a business on the platform because they can't depend on Twitter to establish and obey its own rules, to be reliable, to be supportive, to be responsive to their needs, then they won't build a business on that platform. 

And thus that platform will never be profitable. Q.E.D. 

And what does that leave Musk? 

Because platforms of anti-woke angry users already exist. Parler. Gab. Truth Social. And they're not the sort of places that grow much beyond a certain point, or attract advertisers, or turn a profit. They become a toxic stew of hate and spammers so vile that even the most fanatical MAGA hat loses interest and wanders back to mainstream platforms specifically because there are liberal voices there to scream at. 

And those places, those platforms of anti-wokism, are hardly bastions of free speech. 

In fact, they become incubators of the very oppression Musk says he fears above all else. 

Owning the libs turns out to be a terrible business model. 

And once again, as a metaphor, it's a lousy way to run America. 

We've survived by hiding from them, by running from them. But they are the gatekeepers. They are guarding all the doors, they are holding all the keys. Which means that sooner or later, someone is going to have to fight them.
-- Morpheus, The Matrix

Saturday, December 3, 2022

A Republic If You Can Tweet It!


-- Patrick Henry, MAGA, probably

As I noted elsewhere: I feel like the American education system has failed me.

It's true. 

Failed. Utterly failed. 

Because I honestly had no idea allowing washed up actor James Woods to post unlimited Hunter Biden dick pics to Twitter was the cornerstone of democracy. 

Had. No. Idea. 


It literally never came up once between kindergarten and a couple of college degrees.

So, I totally didn't know that. 

Imagine how embarrassed I am. 

Dick pictures, key to freedom, Folks!

Also, I spent 20 years in the US military. I took the oath as an enlisted man and later as an officer countless times. 

That oath comes from the Constitution. 

The Constitution. That's as American as it gets, right? 

And I totally can't believe the powdered wig wearing idiots who founded this country completely left out the part where the Republic will completely collapse unless we get advice on how to run civilization from self-proclaimed Nazis, White Supremacists, Confederates, seditionists, washed up actors, Incels, and Russian trolls in the town square.

I mean, what the hell, George Washington?

Hide the stuff that matters? 

You mean like Hunter Biden's dick? 

If his wang was that important to democracy, you'd think the Founding Fathers would have put a dong clause in the Constitution, right? 

At least mentioned it in passing? Carved it into Mount Rushmore or the Lincoln Memorial or something, right? 

Post more dick pics! For freeeeeeedom!


What's that? 

Oh, I see. The Lincoln Memorial didn't exist when America was founded by Jesus? 

Yeah, and Joe Biden wasn't president when his campaign asked Twitter to abide by their own rules, but that doesn't mean he shouldn't be impeached for abusing the office he wasn't occupying at the time either dammit! 

Or something. 

I'm not really a Constitutional expert -- except on the internet, like everyone else. 

You're welcome.

Thanks to you for not serving. 

Whatever, look, here's the bottom line: even for a bunch of folks who thought women were livestock and black people were only 3/5s of a human being, it really does seem like a glaring oversight on the part of the Founding Fathers is what I'm saying here. 


You know, for a group that does nothing but complain about "groomers" these people sure do think about dick a lot. 

I hope they eventually find one that makes them happy. 

Moving on.


It's not about penis! It's much BIGGER! Wake up before you LOSE IT! 

Stop laughing you guys! 

It's like the tallywacker scene from Porky's

You know, at first I was a little disappointed Republicans took the House in the recent election.

No, no, I was. A little disappointed. A bit. 

But now? 

I gotta be honest: I'm excited Kevin McCarthy is going to be Speaker. 

I am. Excited. I really am. 

Because I am so looking forward to the House Special Select Committee To Investigate Hunter Biden's Dick Pictures. 

I wonder who they'll appoint as "Special Master?"

It'll have to be a real master debater...

Okay, that was a cheap shot, I know. I don't want to debase a debate run by people talking about dicks, how much they love Hitler, and currently supporting a candidate for congress who thinks the most pressing issue of freedom is whether it's better to be a vampire or a werewolf. 

Anyway, I imagine when it comes to investigating dick pictures, the list of Republican "expert witnesses" is going to be pretty extensive.

Kevin McCarthy be like: Okay, settle down! We're putting together a task force to investigate a major threat to National Security. And we're going to be looking at a lot -- a lot -- of pictures of male genitals on the Internet. Now, which one of you, yes, YES, I see you Congressman Gaetz, put your hand down, you too Congressman Jordan, besides those two, who else considers themselves an exper... Whoa, that many huh?

They'll probably have to set aside at least 3 days for Lauren Boebert's testimony alone.

First, they came for the dick pics, and I did not speak out -- because I was too busy watching Tucker Carlson and thinking about Hunter Biden's laptop

Then they came for vaccine deniers spreading misinformation, and I did not speak out -- because I was rage tweeting about Drag Queen Story Hour

Then they came for the election fraud conspiracy theorists, and I did not speak out -- because I was marching in the street with actual Nazis shouting Jews will not replace us and waving a Swastika flag

Then they came for me -- ha ha, just kidding, I'm a white allegedly straight Christian male in America, no one ever comes for me and in fact billionaires like Elon Musk buy social media platforms and give me a place to spew my bile and they call it free speech!

Thursday, December 1, 2022


I am flawed as a human. I am flawed as a person. As a man I am flawed.
-- Kanye West

We have apparently reached the Nazis Weren't So Bad portion of the MAGA movement. 

(And if you read MAGA movement in the same internal voice as bowel movement, well, then I've done my job as a writer)

The artist formerly known as Kanye West, Ye as he's currently calling himself, on Alex Jones' show yesterday: 

"I see good things about Hitler also. I love everyone" (followed by five minutes of West explaining in detail why he really, really doesn't love Jewish people so much).


"They (the Nazis) did good things too, we've got to stop dissing the Nazis all the time."


"Well, I see good things about Hitler also. Every human being has value that they brought to the table, especially Hitler."

Especially Hitler. Oooh, boy. 

Ye also carefully explained how Adolf Hitler was "born a Christian." 

(Yes, I did indeed listen to Alex Jones' whole damn show. And if you want to know how unpleasant that was, Dear Reader, you may imagine it for yourself) 

Speaking of Jones, you know the guy who spent literally years attacking the bereaved families of children murdered by gun violence and promoting thinly veiled anti-Semitism (the globalists! the globalists!), yeah, that guy, even he was taken more than a bit aback by Ye's virulent anti-Semitism and repeated admiration of Hitler -- though I'm not really sure what he thought was going to happen when he invited proud anti-Semites Nick Fuentes and Kanye West onto his show. Maybe he thought they were going to talk about puppies and Christmas cookie recipes. Hitler loved dogs and cookies, I guess.  

Ironic, this love of Hitler, given how Nazis would have treated Ye himself. 

I mean, it takes a huge degree of self-delusion for a black American rapper to embrace Adolf Hitler. 

Nevertheless, such is the state of our nation and here we are. 

Of course, if it was just Nick Fuentes, just Kanye West, just another deluded anti-Semite with a fascism fetish, it wouldn't be noteworthy. 

But it's not just them. 

The former President of the United States invited this ideology to dinner at Mar-a-Lago because this is what MAGA has always been about -- despite Trump's feeble protestations that he didn't know who Kanye West and Nick Fuentes actually were. 

Meanwhile, outside the gates of Mar-a-Lago, in Ron DeSantis Florida, Americans literally wearing Nazis uniforms and waving Nazi Swastika flags are marching in the streets shouting "Jews will not replace us!" 

And Donald Trump, the man who declares himself the smartest man in the world, who says he knows more about everything than literally everyone else, claims he didn't know. 


Maybe Trump really is that naïve, I doubt it but maybe. But his supporters? They know. 

Oh, they know. 

Sixty-Two million of these goosestepping assholes voted for exactly this in 2016.

They'd love to do so again in 2024. 

Here's the thing: We spent most of the last century asking ourselves, why didn't someone -- anyone -- stop the Nazis before they destroyed half the planet and murdered 12 million people? 

Well, you're looking right at it. 

No one stopped them because their hate and their violence was normalized. 

There were a million warning signs -- just like those above. 

There were tens of thousands of moments where they could have been defeated, stopped, sent back into the sewers from which they crawled. 

Why didn't anyone stop them? 

For the same reason no one is stopping them now

I'm gonna give you a little somethin' you can't take off!
-- Lt. Aldo Raine, Inglorious Basterds (2009)

Friday, August 12, 2022

Loose Lips Sink Ships

How can we expect another to keep our secret if we cannot keep it ourselves.
François de La Rochefoucauld, Maxims

What did Trump take?

What was in those classified documents?

What did the FBI find in the basement of Mar-a-Lago? 

More importantly, what did Trump intend to do with that information? 

I don't know. 

I don't know what his intentions were, because there's no way to know what he was thinking. Revenge? Profit? Self-aggrandizement? Maybe he thought the information would exonerate him at some future point in history. 

Maybe it was more like Gollum and the One Ring: Mine! My Precious! 

I don't know. 

Even if Trump tells you, most of the time he's about as coherent as a rat trapped in a hot box and his story changes from minute to minute as his feverish brain scampers madly about trying one excuse after another until he fastens onto a narrative that works for his fanatical dogmatic supporters. 

I don't know. 

I don't presume to know at this point. 

Because to really understand what Trump's intentions were, you'd need to know exactly what classified documents he took. 

You have to know what those documents were, what they say, what they pertain to, how they were obtained by Trump and what exactly they meant to him personally from moment to moment. 

We're likely never going to know any of that ("We" being the general public). 

Now, yes, there are reasonably credible reports that the documents involved both nuclear weapons material and SIGINT and if true, this is extremely troubling. 

Nuclear weapons materials and SIGINT, this is some of the most sensitive material there is.

"Nuclear Weapons material" covers a lot of ground. 

That information has its own special classification and is very, very closely guarded, and it could be anything from how the weapons work, to their estimated reliability, to how many we have, to where they're stored and deployed, to how they might be activated, to who they're aimed at. 

We know Trump was obsessed with the US nuclear arsenal. 

We know he often thought about using that vast power, whether against nature or our enemies. We don't have to guess, he said so, over and over. 

We know he was particularly interested in the age of the weapons and the state of the arsenal's aging technology, again because he said so, over and over, and we know he very often attempted to make political hay with those issues and score points from his opponents. 

So, perhaps that's what the documents pertain to. 

But we will likely never know, either vaguely or for certain, because that information is some of the mostly closely held secrets this nation has and for damn good reason. 

SIGINT, well, that's even more dangerous. 

SIGINT (Signals Intelligence) is highly, highly sensitive information. It's what the National Security Agency (NSA) does. 

That's what I used to do for a living, for more than two decades. 

SIGINT is the intercept and analysis of signals, usually electronic but not always. Most of the time those signals are some form of communication, between humans, between machines, between instruments, and any of myriad variations in between. But SIGINT may also be derived from non-communications signals such as radar or other sensors systems and perhaps other things I'm not going to talk about. It is a vast, vast field of intelligence, broken up into many, many sub-specialties, and it changes constantly following advances in the state of the art. It can involve the intercept of rudimentary decades old forms of communication such as morse code sent via simple on and off carrier wave, to communications so sophisticated that you could barely even comprehend the technology without enormous processing power to assist you. The modern US signals intelligence system is the end result of literally centuries of effort, sacrifice, and expense -- most of which you've never heard of and will likely never know. This source of intelligence, like other intelligence, can give our nation and our allies advantage not just in war, but also in diplomacy, in economics, in just about everything. And yes, it can most certainly be abused (and has been, Watergate being an infamous example and one of the few we can sort of talk about) which is why it is so very, very important to have systems in place to ensure control, protection, and release of that information. 

I'm going to focus primarily on SIGINT for the rest of this essay, because that's my area of experience and expertise. 

I'll leave the nuclear stuff to those who are experts in that area. 

Now, while it's true that a president can declassify most anything SIGINT related, (it's my understanding he cannot declassify information regarding nuclear programs) it's extremely problematic for any president to do so in any sort of impulsive or cavalier fashion. 

The fallout (yep, I did that on purpose) could be devastating to national security. 

(Yes, really -- and I suspect you react the same way I do to the words "national security" used as justification for anything these days, given how abused that phrase is, but nevertheless here we are)

Certain information can only be gathered in a certain way. 

Sometimes that information is the end result of decades of effort and billions of dollars and no matter what you think of the US government and the power and potential for abuse of these systems, compromise may very well result in destabilization of global political structures and could very well result in far, far worse things than you've already imagined -- from war to the complete collapse of economic and social systems.

The very fact that we have certain information, or that we even know that it might exist, reveals things to our adversaries. 

That information might have cost lives to obtain, ours, theirs, innocent bystanders. 

This is not hyperbole. 

Revealing that information, even its existence if not what it actually says, might cost more lives, ours, theirs, innocent bystanders. 

Again, this is not hyperbole.

For example: say some of those classified documents contain information that could have only been gotten by an agent in place. I.e. a spy. 

The very fact that that information exists tells the enemy that source exists. 

Look up Israeli spy Eli Cohen to see what happens then -- he may have saved his country, but it cost him his life. 

The source doesn't have to be a spy. 

And it probably isn't.

Sometimes information can only be obtained from a particular methodology. 

For example, the intercept of electronic communications, i.e. SIGINT. And sometimes that intercept can only be achieved via a particular means. 

For example: During WWII, British cryptologists at Bletchley Park led by a guy named Alan Turing broke German encryption early in the war, i.e. the infamous "Enigma" cipher, specifically the naval variant used by German Oberkommando der Marine to direct U-Boats in the Atlantic. 

Breaking the Enigma cipher was the result of an enormous effort, one that literally cost many lives (directly and indirectly) and what would be billions of dollars today. In the current vernacular: a Moon Shot. 

Being able to intercept and read those transmissions told the Allies exactly what enemy was doing. In detail. 

But the intelligence that resulted from that incredible achievement couldn't be used.

Or could not be used directly. 

Because unless there was another way the allies could have obtained it, one obvious to the Germans, use of that SIGINT to avoid or kill U-boats would immediately tell the German High Command their communications were being read in detail by the Allies.

If the Germans knew their military communications were compromised, they would have immediately stopped using that method and changed to something else we might not have been able to break in time.

And all of those lives, all of that money, all of that vast effort would be for nothing and many, many more allied Navy and Merchant Marine seaman in the Atlantic supply conveys would have died. 

More than that, the Battle of the Atlantic might have gone another way. 

Another example from that war is the Japanese JN-25 naval code, and you can read about that particular effort on NSA's own webpage here. (You can also visit the National Cryptologic Museum, outside of Fort Meade, just north of Washington D.C. and see the actual machines used to break that code, along with authentic Nazi Enigma machines, and other more modern equipment from the Cold War and later used by American codebreakers and information warfare specialists -- some of which I myself once worked with. And if you do visit the museum, stand for a moment in the lobby before the Memorial Wall, where the names of those who gave their lives to these efforts are listed. I knew some of those men and women personally. As I said, not hyperbole).

Now, yes, Franklin Delano Roosevelt could have just said, fuck it, I'm declassifying this stuff. Hey, Adolf, I'm reading your mail, up yours, you Nazi goon, ha ha! 

He could have done that and it would have been legal. 

I don't know that he would have survived it, but he could have done it. 

I hope you can see that there would have been grave consequences -- starting with the fact that both of those SIGINT efforts I mentioned as examples up above were first pioneered primarily by our allies and trusted to us in the strictest of confidence. Disclosure of that SIGINT would have not only done great damage to the United States, but also our many allies in that war and moreover would have put other nations into a position of not being able to trust us. 

Today, SIGINT is vastly more complicated. Vastly more difficult. And even more sensitive. And the repercussions of its careless disclosure could have disastrous results. 

So when a president, Trump, Biden, whoever, says, I'm just going to declassify this and make the information public, there's a process you have to go through. 

Because if that information isn't sanitized, then very likely you are revealing far more than you intend. 

Unless those documents are first examined by experts, by people who know what to look for, then you might not even be able to calculate what an adversary might learn from them -- meaning, there's no way for those sworn to defend this country to even begin to figure out if our own systems are compromised or what new threat from the enemy might result.

For example: If those documents do indeed contain SIGINT, then they are marked with specific classification markings, including codewords that designate the compartment of special intelligence they fall under. 

Yes, compartment. 

Just because you have a clearance, doesn't mean you get to see everything. 

SIGINT is something called Sensitive Compartmented Intelligence, SCI. 

It's maintained inside something called a Sensitive Compartmented Intelligence Facility, a SCIF. 

Ah, you've head that term before, haven't you? SCIF, that's where Congressman Matt Gaetz chose to make TikTok videos and post to the internet -- and you have no idea how utterly insane that is. If I had done that, I would have gone to jail. 

That aside, the key to that classification is the word "compartmented."

Just because you're cleared to see the information in one compartment, doesn't mean you are allowed to see information in another. You have to be read into each compartment, you have to understand the requirements of each compartment individually and what they cover, and you have to have a need to know that information. 

Those compartments are designated by codewords

Those codewords are on the documents. 

So, even if you're not cleared but you somehow find out the the codeword, say you're a reporter for example, and you do enough digging, eventually you can figure out with a reasonable degree of certainty exactly what those documents might pertain to even if you don't know exactly what they say. 

In other words, you call tell what country, program, or target that intel might pertain to.

And the very fact that information exists in the first place, the very fact that compartment exists, and that Trump was so interested in it that he swiped it, tells you something -- might in point of fact tell our enemies something, and give them systems, facilities, and specific people to target for more information. 

So, there has to be a process.

The president can't just wave his hand and say these documents are now declassified!

Well, okay, he can, but there are problems:

“I have fully authorized the total Declassification of any & all documents pertaining to the single greatest political CRIME in American History, the Russia Hoax. Likewise, the Hillary Clinton Email Scandal. No redactions!”
-- President Trump, via tweet, Oct 2020

That's Trump, waving his tiny hand. 

I have authorized the total declassification of any and all documents pertaining to my political enemies!

Any and all documents. 

Any and all. 

Except, you never saw any of that, did you? 

You never saw any declassified documents pertaining to Trump's alleged "greatest political crime in history."

And you really think you would. If it was the greatest political crime in history, I mean.

Trump said he "authorized the total Declassification of any & all documents" pertaining to what he called "the Russia hoax"

So where are those documents? 

Where? Still classified. Still stored safely in their respective SCIFs. That's where. 

Because that disclosure would have likely been highly classified SIGINT, either phone records, texts, emails, something, from US citizens or SIGINT intercepts of our adversaries -- and this might perhaps even be the very documents recently recovered from Mar-a-Lago. And he supposedly had information that would put Hillary Clinton and everyone he hated in prison. Or at least he thought he did, though it's unlikely he actually saw anything concrete himself -- thus the caveat "any & all documents." He figured if he just shotgunned it out there, somebody, the "analysts" at Fox News and OAN would find something, anything (and, of course, ignore any information that didn't fit the narrative).

So, where are those documents? 

Trump could declassify anything, right? That's what his rabid supporters are telling us right now, aren't they? He had a right to do whatever he wanted and he wanted Hillary Clinton in jail and he declassified any and all documents pertaining to the greatest crime in history. 

He gave the order in public, via tweet. 

You saw it. You can still see it, if you look in the right database.

So, where are those documents? 

Yeah, funny thing. When the public and News agencies attempted to obtain these "declassified documents" via the Freedom of Information Act, Trump's very own Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said: 

“The president indicated to me that his statements on Twitter were not self-executing declassification orders and do not require the declassification or release of any particular documents.”


In other words, Trump's order couldn't be carried out. 

Not without grave damage to National Security.

Any and all? What does that even mean? Where do you start? Where do you end? What systems and methodologies does that order encompass? What other information does that impact? What agencies and personnel might that compromise? What is the cost, in dollars, in people, in effort? Who's responsible? Any and all? Who decides what's relevant? What's the timeline? 

The ramifications and reverberations are endless and unpredictable and uncontrollable. 

Trump might have damaged his political enemies, but somebody somewhere finally got it through his thick empty skull that the damage to Trump himself would have been far, far worse because he would be seen by Americans, including those in his own party and the entire intelligence community, as the guy who completely blew up National Security. 

Folks, classification doesn't exist in a vacuum. 

Intelligence doesn't exist in a vacuum.

There is never a piece of information that is its own compartment, classified unto itself without any connection to any other piece of information. We live in an age of vast, complex, interwoven information and that information can be, and often is, manipulated by those who would do us harm -- foreign AND domestic.

Yes, domestic. 

You ever wonder why all those big trucks with the militia stickers have Medium Frequency whip antennas in the back? Because they're convinced the government will monitor or shut down phone service, and so they have CB radios and codes to communicate. And they are not wrong. 

They are openly preparing to be domestic enemies.

Some already are.

Some have already openly declared war on the United States, in the name of their leader, Donald Trump. One was shot dead by the police yesterday. 

What if those documents contain SIGINT collection on those people Trump said he loved? 

Enemies, foreign and domestic. 

You might not be thinking about this stuff, but they certainly are. 

And you don't have to look much beyond January 6th, 2021, to see it. 

What did Trump take? 

I don't know. 

You don't know. 

The media doesn't know. 

The FBI probably does, but they're not going to tell you. Merrick Garland isn't going to tell you. Joe Biden isn't going to tell you. They can't

And Donald Trump sure isn't going to tell you (he might make something up, but you'll never see any proof of its veracity)

There are hints, rumors, speculation, but we don't really know and we likely never will. 

And thus we likely will never know exactly why he took those documents or what he intended to do with that information. More importantly, at this point, we don't know the depth of the breach. We don't know who has seen these documents. We don't know the extent of the damage to national security. 

And there is damage to national security.

There is. 

The very fact that Trump was able to take classified documents likely regarding some of our nation's mostly closely held secrets and stash them in a golf course is proof of that. 

Right now, intelligence agencies, years, decades of effort, hundreds, thousands of lives, billions upon billions of dollars might be at risk because of it. 

We just don't know. 

Those who guard this nation, the ones who keep the wheels turning and the lights on and who every day stand against the fall of night and who may thus one day end up on a forgotten memorial wall in some dusty museum no one ever visits, the ones Trump and his supporters call the Deep State, the Swamp, they are right now in damage control mode, just trying to figure out what's been compromised -- and the worst part is they may never be able to fully assess the damage. Meaning we will have to operate in an assumed compromised state until systems can be changed, upgraded, or shut down and other sources of information developed. 

And that means those out there on the pointy end of the stick, the ones Trump called suckers and losers, are in even more danger. 

What did Trump take? 

I don't know. But the very fact that he could walk out of the White House with classified material shows you that we as a nation need much better oversight and control of this process. 

Trump's own supporters often talk about "our way of life." 

And that's ironic, because the very foundation of our way of life is that the president is not a king and he can't just wave his hand and make it so. 

This material does not belong to him, it belongs to us

The president is not above the law. 

I’m talking too freely, but you know. The change of stories. The lack of preparation. The lying. Holy shit.
-- Maryanne Trump Barry, retired federal judge, Donald Trump's sister, regarding Donald Trump's presidency

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Mind If I Play Through?


I made a joke. 

It was in bad taste. 

Deliberately so.

But then, nowadays? What's good taste? 

See, Ivana Trump died. She fell down the stairs. "Accidentally," I'm told. 

That's terrible. A tragedy. 


I wouldn't want that to happen to anyone. I mean, I don't have much use for rich socialites, but I certainly didn't wish her ill. She was once married to Donald Trump after all and her kids are... well, let's just say she probably suffered enough. 

Or, maybe not. 

Because Donald Trump had her buried on his golf course. 

Donald Trump buried his ex-wife on his golf course. 

Donald Trump had the woman who divorced him for "cruel and inhuman treatment," the woman Trump had to pay $14 million to and hand over his mansion in Greenwich, that woman, buried on first hole of his golf course in New Jersey. 

But wait, there's more!

Given Trump's record of grift and revenge combined with naked greed, he likely did it because under New Jersey law, designating Trump National Golf Course as a cemetery -- even if there's only one grave on the whole vast estate (and there is, only one grave) -- means that the property is now exempt from both taxes and sale or seizure for collection of judgements against the company that owns it, i.e. Donald Trump. 

I mean, goddamn, that's the punchline to a at least a dozen late-night monologues. 

So, I made a joke. 




You bet. And why the hell not?

Don't speak ill of the dead? Depends on the dead. Why do I owe these horrible people any respect whatsoever, living or dead? The Trump family, her own goddamn kids, had her buried on a fucking golf course owned her ex-husband for a tax break. I'm not sure where my wisecrack ranks, disrespect-wise, compared to that, but I'm not going to lose any sleep worrying about it. 


Well, you know me. Sometimes I make comments that are bait. 

And once the waters of Twitter were chummed, well, it didn't take long for the outraged bottom-feeders to start circling 'round. 

Pretty big talk from Andrew The 766956302nd. 

Oh, probably a lot of things, but you're right. You're right. 

Suggesting they turn Melania into omelet topping was wrong. 

Given the amount of silicon involved, the responsible woke thing would have been to recommend plastics recycling. 

Yeah, I'm the one with the giant Trump signs in my yard and plastered all over the back of my car. 

Next to those Confederate flags. You know, a nation of slaver seditionists who only lasted four years and have been defunct for a century and a half now? 

Who's obsessed again?


I could go on, and if you're really interested in every response, you can peruse my Twitter feed for yourself. No, It was this guy, Jeff, angry old white man with his technology impaired off-center, up-the-nose laptop selfie, who I was waiting for. 

Like I said, bait. 

And he didn't disappoint. 

I hope they spread you over a pile of cow shit, he says. 

Fair enough, I suppose. The roses will look good. 

Me? I hope my readers have me stuffed and set on a concrete pedestal in front of your house, giving you the finger for all of eternity. Every time you look out your window, every time you mow your grass,  every time the priest comes over for dinner, there'll I'll be. Up yours, Jeff! 

Hell, for that matter, I'd be thrilled if you put my petrified carcass right next to Ivana on the sixteenth green and Trump can kiss my bronzed ass every damn day. 

Make him earn that tax break. 

That said, what's your problem? 

What are you mad about? 

You, you Trump voters? You Republicans? Isn't this what you wanted?

Well, isn't it? 

Isn't this exactly the world you want?  

This kind of crass, unfeeling, laugh-at-other's-misfortune world? 

That's the guy you love, the guy you follow, the ideology you embrace. That's what you voted for, isn't it? 

This is you, right? 

This is you, right here. Fuck your feelings, Snowflake! 

You mad, Bro? 

You sad, Cuck? Awww. 

That's you, isn't it? 

Sure it is. I mean, you laughed when Trump flopped around on stage, flapping his arms, making weird noises, awwww, ooohhh, laaaaaaaa, mocking a disabled reporter. 

That shit was fucking funnee, wasn't it? Sure, it still is, to you. 

That's the MAGA world you wanted, wasn't it, Pussy?

Pussy, cuck, snowflake, soyboy, that's what you call people, don't you? I mean, you sure as hell don't use those terms out of respect, do you? 

Hell no. 

Crass, uncouth, ill-manned, uncultured, insensitive, that's what you voted for. That's what you wanted. 

You hate the fucking elites with their effete manners and emasculated decorum. 

That's why you proudly call yourself politically incorrect.

You're Unwoke. Grab 'em by the pussy and hold on! You're a 60-year-old man, but you're finally one of the cool kids. It's funny to own the libs, isn't it? Ha ha, grow a thicker skin, Beta! 

Right? That's you, isn't it? 

You're furious, every day. Aren't you? You're mad about everything, Black Lives, teachers, kneeling, masks, Antifas, Trans people, you got a whole damn list. Your pronouns are "fuck off" and "AR-15" and you're not on social media to make any friends and you're not afraid to let everyone know it. 

Because you got no respect for anyone whose identity doesn't conform to your idea of how America should be.

I mean, that's you, isn't it? 

You're so not woke you're damn near in a coma! And you're proud of it. 

Proud? Hell, you love it. You love every nasty, hateful, spite-filled insult. Shifty Schiff. Little Rocket Man. Little Jeff Zucker. Cheatin' Obama. Crooked Hillary, Crazy Maxine Waters. Crazy Jim Acosta. Pocahontas. Crazy Bernie. Creepy Joe. Nervous Nancy. You absolutely loved it when Trump lowered the political dialog to grade school level. Ha ha, hilarious! Suck it, libs! Die mad! 

When Cottoncandyhair McBonespurs called veterans like me "suckers and losers," where was your outrage? 

No, to you that was just Trump saying it like it is. 

That's what you love about him, don't you? That he says what you think, how you think word for word, and he's not afraid to say it out loud. 

You cheered when Joe Wilson shouted "YOU LIE!" at President Obama in the middle of a State of the Union speech. Oh, you did, don't deny it. You still think that was great and you want more of it. Keep calling 'em out, Joe!

This, right here, this is the ugly, mean, gun-toting, crass, ignorant, jeering face of your ideology. 

This is who you are and you're damn proud of it. 

You're finally one of the cool kids, finally part of the in-crowd, you're one of the bullies now and man it feels good. This is who you've always wanted to be. As far back as you can remember. Isn't it? Yeah. Remember how you laughed when Rush Limbaugh called Michele Obama a "Silver Backed Gorilla?" 


I do. I remember. 

No outraged protest from you then, was there? 

No, you loved every insult. Every jape. The hate made you feel special, better, superior. Every time Rush, or Glenn Beck, Anne Coulter, Alex Jones, et al, called a woman a slut or made a gay joke or was a racist. Funny shit, man. Funny shit. And so true, right? Yeah, they ought to give Rush a medal...

My joke?

My disrespect? My insensitivity? My glee at your loss and tragedy? That's the world you asked for. 

That's everything you ever wanted. 

That's your callous ideology. 

That's your miserable political party, every damn day. 

And that is your crass sophomoric hateful ignorant bully of a president. That's everything you ever loved about him. 

That is the world you wanted. 

You're one of them now, just like you always wanted to be. 

Choke on it.