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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. 

Sincerely. 

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. 

Crass? 

Insensitive? 

Disrespectful? 

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. 

Also...

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?

Anyway.  

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?" 

No? 

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. 


Friday, July 22, 2022

Democracy Harder

 


What makes me worry today is the alarming decline in the trust in democratic institutions - political parties, parliaments, political leaders. Less and less people are going to the polls in most advanced democracies.
--Ivan Krastev, political scientist
  Institute for Human Sciences, Vienna


President Biden's polls at all time low!


Biden's approval rating falls to a new low!

Biden's support among Senate Democrats reaches new low!

The Left's disappointment with Biden is a new low!

Low, lower, lowest. Things are looking pretty grim for Biden. 

Well, I mean, you can sort of see where they're coming from, can't you?

Biden hasn't done enough, has he? 

Biden hasn't done enough when it comes to fixing the Supreme Court.

Biden hasn't done enough about codifying abortion Rights.

Biden hasn't done enough about ensuring and extending LGBT Rights.

Biden hasn't done enough to end the war in Ukraine.

Biden hasn't done enough to address Climate Change.

Biden hasn't done enough to stop gun violence in America.

Biden hasn't done enough about healthcare and what ever happened to Medicare for All anyway?

Biden hasn't done enough to stop inflation.

Biden hasn't done enough to secure our borders or fix our immigration system.

Biden hasn't done enough to stop the spread of COVID and now there's the Monkey Pox.

Biden hasn't done enough to lower gas prices.

Biden hasn't done enough to promote sustainable energy.

Biden hasn't done enough to wipe out student loans.

Biden hasn't done enough, not nearly enough, to bring the former administration to justice.

Biden hasn't... well, no point in flogging a dead horse. I could go on, but you get the idea. 

And that's only a partial list of disappointment from the Left. You don't want me to start listing the Right's complaints, you really don't. 

Left, Right, one thing we can all agree on: Joe Biden just hasn't done enough, has he? So disappointing. I mean, Biden fist-bumped a Saudi Prince for God's sake!

It's okay, you can say it. 

We're all feeling it, aren't we? 

Joe Biden, what a goddamn disappointment...

Except...

Well, funny thing...

Joe Biden is doing precisely what we elected him to do. 

That's right. 

Joe Biden is doing exactly what he was elected to do. Yes, he is. 

Joe Biden is exactly the president we all asked for. Well, most of us anyway. 

Joe Biden is exactly the guy the Left wanted. 

And Joe Biden is exactly the guy most of the Right wanted, even if they won't say it.

Joe Biden is doing exactly what we elected him to do. 


Joe Biden isn't Donald Trump.


That's it, that's the whole thing, right there. 

That's what we elected Joe Biden to be. Not Donald Trump. 

Remember? Vote Blue, no matter who? 

Remember? I'd vote for a ham sandwich with rancid mayonnaise, so long as it's not Donald Trump. 

Remember? Anyone but Trump?

Remember? That's what we said. That's what I said. That's what you said. 

We elected Joe Biden to be not Trump. 

That was the whole thing. 

We didn't elect Joe Biden to remake America. We didn't elect Joe Biden to implement some radical progressive agenda of unicorns, rainbows, and socialism. We didn't elect Joe Biden to be some icon of liberalism. We didn't elect Joe Biden to give us universal healthcare like they have in civilized countries, or to take away all the assault rifles, or to feed the hungry, clothe the poor, and heal the sick. We didn't elect Joe Biden to bring about peace on earth and some miracle of universal brotherhood and understanding. 

No, Sir. 

Oh, certainly, we hoped he'd maybe do some simple things like address student debt, but that's not why we elected him. 

We elected Joe Biden to be not Donald Trump. 

That's it.

And in point of fact, Joe Biden is doing a bang up job of being not Trump. 

Now, Biden might not be the most eloquent speaker, but when he talks he makes sense, even if he stumbles over a word or two now and then. 

Biden might not be much at foreign policy, but he hasn't started any wars -- though he did finally end one after 20 years. Maybe he could have done it better, but then again maybe not, either way, the war is over for us. 

Biden hasn't screwed up any international agreements or threatened Mexico or started a trade war with China or even shoved some foreign leader out of the way so he could be on camera. 

Biden might not be all that current when it comes to science, but he hasn't suggested nuking any hurricanes either. Or nuking any countries for that matter. 

Biden might not be the world's biggest women's rights advocate, but he hasn't appointed any drunk rapists to the Supreme Court either. Or any religious nutters, for that matter. And I'll remind you that he pointedly went against his own religion in support of abortion -- something you'd never, ever, see the former guy do. 

Biden might not be the staunchest ally LGBT people ever met and maybe he came late to the party, but he is an ally and you sure won't see him trying to keep LGBT people out of the military or dismissing their contributions to America or treating them as anything less than full equals. 

Biden might not be the most accessible President we've ever had, but he isn't calling The Press the enemy of the people and daily endangering the lives of reporters -- or openly mocking disabled ones for that matter. 

Biden might not have done everything he could to welcome immigrants to this country, but he's not trying to turn America into a prison surrounded by walls and barbed wire and armed goons. 

Biden might not be any Ronald Reagan when it comes to facing down the Russians (Reagan really wasn't any Ronald Reagan either, but never mind), but Biden for goddamn sure isn't writing love letters to foreign dictators either, or greasing up old Vladimir Putin for a hotel deal in Moscow. 

Biden might fall off his bike once in a while or trip going up the stairs to Air Force One, but he has yet to spend a quarter of his presidency on the golf course at our expense. 

Biden could certainly have handled the pandemic better, no argument from me, but he's also not out there every day promoting conspiracy theories and pseudo-science and deliberately getting people killed. And yes, Biden got COVID despite being vaccinated, but he admitted it up front and because he listened to the doctors he's got a mild case and he's still working without endangering others instead of having to be airlifted to Walter Reed and then going on a I Love Me tour of the crowd while still infectious. 

But, yeah, no doubt there is a hell of a lot of things Joe Biden could be doing better. 

But the one thing that Joe Biden is doing just fine at is being NOT Donald Trump. 

Biden is doing a fucking stellar job of being not Trump. 


And that's exactly what we elected him to do. 


What's that? 

What's that you're mumbling over there?

That's a hell of a weak sauce endorsement you say? 

No. 

No it's not. 

Not at all. 

See, I never expected Joe Biden to be any great president. 

I never expected, and I certainly never told you, dear reader, that Joe Biden would be anything other than not Trump. 

Because in 2020, that was good enough.  And it still is. 

If all we ever get out of Joe Biden's presidency is not Trump, I'm okay with that. 

Hell, I'm better than okay with it and you should be too. 

Because I don't honestly know how much more of Trump this country could have taken and survived.  You've seen the testimony. You've watched the January 6th Committee. You, Left, Right, whoever you are out there reading this, you know what happened. You know what Trump is, and what he and his fascist thugs were planning to do. You heard it in their own words. 

What happened on January 6th, 2021, was a pretty good indicator of what could have happened on a much larger scale if Trump had won. 

Because if Trump was president right now, those seditionists, those insurrections, those MAGA goons who stormed the Capitol, they'd be running the damn country right now. And they'd very likely be visiting violence on us, on you and me, right now, instead of looking at prison (no matter how lame most of their sentences are). Trump would be up there, right now, egging them on instead of screaming in impotent fury and throwing his lunch at the wall in Bedford. 

If Joe Biden wasn't president right now, no matter how disappointing you think he might be, things would be one hell of a lot worse. 

So, what am I saying? 

You should be happy with mediocrity? 

You should settle? 

You should be happy with not Trump and that's good enough? 

Yes. 

That's what I'm saying and, man, I just bet that pisses you off, doesn't it? 

It's okay. Be pissed. Stay pissed, we're going to need that energy. 

But, see, we could have had the president you wanted. 

We could have had the leader you wanted. The one who would have been an order of magnitude more than just not Trump. The one who had a plan. The one who would have been more than just a lukewarm ally. The one who would have ripped Vladimir Putin a new orifice and shoved a couple of American tanks up there. The one who didn't come around to your viewpoint at some late date but who'd been there all along, loudly, out front on every issue you hold dear, all of her life. 

You could have had that president. 


But America didn't want her either. 


And so, here we are and I am reminded of 2010 like it was yesterday. 

See, back then, we had the president you claimed you want. Young. Charismatic. Eloquent. Brilliant. Educated. Honest. Hard working. And he cared deeply about all the things you say you do. He'd fought for those things his whole life. It was personal to him. He wasn't born to it, he worked his way up to it every damn day of his life. 

And just like now, the Right hated his goddamn guts. Loathed him. Despised him. To the point of utter and absolute madness. 

He just kept on, fighting for those things we all claim matter to us. Nothing ever got him down. He'd play a game of ball at lunch, and then be right back at it. You'd never catch him throwing his lunch at the wall in childish rage. He was an adult, one we could be proud of. 

But two years into his presidency, well, you were disappointed. 

After two years, he hadn't done enough

And you were disappointed. 

Just like now. 

And so, you didn't show up. 

And you handed Congress over to the fucking Tea Party. That'll teach him. Burn it all down. 

Remember? 

No? 

I do. I kept the tweets, the emails, the DMs. I remember. 

And, boy, if you were disappointed before, oh man, once Obama was hamstrung by a blood-maddened  batshit insane Congress of kooks, nuts, and conspiracy theorists who fought him over everything no matter how trivial or benign and shouted lunacy at him during every State of the Union speech like the uncivil, uncouth raging louts they are, well, yeah, talk about real disappointment. 

But it was too damn late then, wasn't it? Yeah, you sure showed him, didn't you? 

Oh sure, once the burn-it-all-down crowd got a taste of what arson actually looked like, they were scared enough to get their asses to the polls in 2012 and make sure things didn't get any worse. But, by then we were fighting a delaying action without any chance at all for that real progress you say you really want. 

I mean, we had a chance to build a better future for America, but in 2010 we threw it all away. 

Because we were disappointed and mad because the guy we elected didn't get it all done in two years. 

And goddamn if we aren't right here again

On the cusp. 

Only worse. 

Now, for sure and for certain Joe Biden isn't any Barack Obama. 

Biden isn't even a Hillary Clinton. 

But he's the guy we elected to do one job -- and he's doing that about as well as anyone could at this point. 

Should we demand more than just not Trump? Should we still hope for that better future we once believed in? Of course. Absolutely. But you're not going to get it if you don't show up come this November. You can't even hope to hold the line, hope that things will at least not get worse even if they don't get better, if you don't show up. 

If you do to Joe Biden what you did to Barack Obama, we are all of us screwed. 

And yeah, I've heard it. I've heard the sneering contempt of the "LOL, just vote harder" crowd of Lefties. 

I've read their tweets and their blog posts and their articles in the Daily Beast and their emails to me and I hear their sneering contempt. They want change. Real change. And they want it now, they're tired of waiting. They want you out knocking on doors, pounding the pavement until your feet are bloody, shaking the trees, community activism, burn the motherfucker down if needs be!

And they're not wrong. 

They're not. 

But none of that matters if we don't all show up and vote harder. 

Activism without voting is the sum of fuck all. It's really just that simple. 

Well, unless you really do decide to burn it all down, but I've been in the middle of civil war and you can keep it. 

If we once again hand Congress over to the bitter wretched dregs of miserable conservative ideology, the MAGA goons, the sorry ragged descendants of the Tea Party, the credo of swaggering proudly ignorant louts, well, then you're going be in for some serious disappointment indeed. 

Folks, one thing you learn in the military, in war, in disaster: things can always get worse. 

Things can get a lot worse, very fast. 

No matter how bad things are, the situation can always -- always -- get worse. 

Unless you stop it. 

I don't know if Joe Biden will be the guy I vote for in 2024. I don't know if he should be. Eight years is a long damn time indeed to be satisfied with just not Trump. Not fascism. Not getting any better but at least not getting any worse.

Maybe someone better will come along in the next two years. 

Someone young and charismatic, smart and educated, eloquent, someone who cares deeply about all the things you and I do and who has the courage to turn this country around. 

I don't know. 

I honestly don't know. 

Maybe the best we can ever hope for in our lives now is just not Trump. Maybe, in our disappointment and apathy, that's what we've done to ourselves. Maybe that's all there's left for us and our slowly dying Republic.

I don't know. 

I sure hope not. I hope we can turn it all around. I hope we can leave the nation in better shape than we found it for my grandkids. 

But for now, this is where we are. 

This is what you voted for, own it. And 2024 is a long way away at the moment. 

What matters right now is this moment. 

This moment right here. This election. 

And if you want a better nation, if you want to even hope for a better nation, a better world, a better future for our kids, then you have to be better citizens NOW in this moment. 

Ignore the polls. 

Put your disappointment aside.

And show the hell up. 


I haven't trusted polls since I read that 62% of women had affairs during their lunch hour. I've never met a woman in my life who would give up lunch for sex.
-- Erma Bombeck


Wednesday, June 29, 2022

When Good Men Do Nothing


 

The lack of faith is not doubt. It is certainty.
Abigail van Buren


Have faith. 

That's what you tell me. 

Have faith. Just believe. 

Have a little faith, Jim. The DOJ is moving quietly. Building a case. Have faith in Merrick Garland.  These things take time. 

Like a dying Shepherd Book saying to Malcolm Reynolds, "I don't care what you believe in, just believe."

Just believe. 

Have faith. 

Why? 




Faith? 

That's long wait for a train that don't come, so long as I'm already quoting Firefly

Why the hell should I have any faith that Donald Trump will finally get what's coming to him?

Why should I have any faith in the Department of Justice? 

Why?

Go on, tell me. It's been a grim couple of weeks, I could use the laugh.

Have faith.

You've got to be kidding me. 

Trump was impeached twice

Nothing. Not a mark on him. Hell the MAGA crowd loves him even more for being impeached, for owning the libs. Ha ha! Still here, Chumps!

The Mueller investigation was going to bring him down. 

Have faith, you said, as it dragged on and on. You'll see. Mueller will get him. And ... again, nothing. In fact it was Mueller and the FBI who ended up laughingstocks. Oh, Mueller might have been right, but without an indictment? Trump and Republicans could spin it however they wanted, and oh boy did they. Russia! Russia Russia! Doesn't matter what the Mueller Report actually said, the only thing that matters is Trump didn't go to jail. Once again, he owned the libs ha ha, Losers! 

Okay. But what about New York? Any day now, they're gonna bring charges. 

Indictments. Any day now. 

You'll see. Real soon. Yeah.

Except that day just never seems to come. Trump delays and appeals and denies and it just goes on and on and on until one day it just quietly goes away. He paid somebody off or they dropped the charges like they always do. What's that? Oh, yeah, that New York thing. Yeah, whatever happened to that? Nothing, that's what. 

Georgia, though, right? 

Oh, we got him now! Yeah. Georgia. Election fraud. He's going down! Republicans, the Republican state government, yeah, they're gonna indict Trump any minute now! Just watch! 

Any minute now. Yeah.

Any minute. 

You'll see. 

Trump has been the center of a criminal enterprise for decades. Fraud. Confidence games. Bad real estate deals. Mob connections. Decades? Hell, his whole life. His father. His grandfather. His goddamn kids. Crime is the family business. 

And...

Nothing. 

They're all still walking around (or riding around in a golf cart as the case may be). 

Hell, Trump's talking about running for president AGAIN. 

Nothing ever sticks to this guy, not even hairspray. 


Why the hell should I have any faith that he's going down this time? 


What in Trump's history would give me any faith at all? 

What in America's history? 

Shit, we pardoned fucking Nixon, right? He got away with it. People look back on him now with fondness. Oh, Tricky Dick, he was a crook, but he loved America! 

Ronald Reagan sold weapons to our enemies -- literally sold weapons to our enemies -- and we did nothing. Less than nothing. We let him get away with treason right out in broad daylight. Oh, that's just Ronny. You know how he is. And the Lieutenant Colonel who led that caper? Yeah, he got a pardon and he's a fucking hero nowadays with his own radio show. 

If Trump was a business woman who happened to trade some stocks, he'd have spent a couple months in jail next to Martha Stewart. 

If Trump was a Jew who scammed a bunch of people out of their money, he'd be in prison next to Bernie Madoff. 

If Trump was a poor black man who tried to pass a fake $20, some overfed cop would have knelt on his neck until he was dead right next to George Floyd. 

But rich powerful white men like Trump?

Nothing.

They get away with it. 

And they get away with it every day in this country. 

Trump's been getting away with it for his whole damn life. 

And...

Oh, what's that? 

What? This time it's different, you say? 


LOL


Yeah. 

Sure it is. 

People like Trump have been stirring up violence since long before this country was founded. 

Shit, take a look at the Supreme Court lately, there's some violence for you. 

How about the rich sons of bitches who implode the economy every other decade? Last time you lost your jobs, your homes, your savings, your retirements, your kids' college funds, your businesses, the whole damn world economy flatlined because some unbelievably rich assholes tried to make themselves even richer. 

And not one of them, not a single one of them was ever once held to account. 

They got away with it. 

Hell, they didn't even lose any money. They got richer. They became even more powerful. 

Don't believe me? Look up John Thain. 

Right now, rich white men like the Kochs are pulling the strings, squeezing you at the pump, at the grocery store, getting fatter and richer and even more untouchable at your expense, while their gullible foot soldiers blame everybody but those actually responsible. 

The MAGAs who stormed the Capitol? They're going to jail. 

But their leaders? The rich powerful white men who egged them on with fistpumps on national TV? 

Nothing. Not one of the people actually responsible have been indicted, let alone send to jail. 

And that's important. 

Because in a very few short months, Americans are going to the polls to vote in the midterms. 

And who they blame for their (alleged) misery is going to determine what happens next. 

Now, your vote is already fighting an uphill battle. 

As any number of you have repeatedly pointed out to me over the years, the game is rigged. 

And you're right, it is. 

It's all sorts of rigged and always has been. 

But, now Republicans have turned disenfranchisement into a goddamn sport. From new laws making it impossible for poor minorities to vote, to armed voter intimidation at the polling stations, to impossible Voter ID laws, to gerrymandering, to rigged election maps, to gaming the Electoral College, to just out and out passing laws that give Republican state legislatures the power to simply ignore voters and declare whoever they want as the winner. 

And now they've got a Supreme Court that will gleefully let them get away with it. 

But that doesn't mean your vote doesn't count. 

It means your vote counts more than ever.

Every single vote against these fascist assholes is vitally important. 

Every single one. 

There's no margin at all. None. Zero. 

Every single vote counts. Some of these races are going to be decided by a hundred votes, by less than ten, by one vote. 

One vote.

Your vote.

But...

It's the midterms. 

Half the country barely shows up for the General Election, the midterms are a disaster. 

Especially when the (Left, liberals, progressives, undecideds, whatever term you want to use for whatever part of the population who allegedly still opposes this galloping fascism) barely shows up on a good day. 

Yeah, yeah, I hear you screaming in rage at me. WE SHOWED UP!

Sure, you show up. 

But the truth is that a hell of a lot of the "resistance" doesn't. 

They just don't. 

You can get mad at me for saying that all you like, but if even half the eligible voters show up for a midterm, we call that a good turnout. I know it. You know it too. So there's no point in pretending otherwise. 

And yes, maybe -- just maybe -- this time, given recent SCOTUS decisions enough people will be pissed off to turn out in record numbers. Maybe. Let's hope so.

But I wouldn't count on it if history is any guide. 

Look, you can trace the rise of Trump and the howling mindless mob of MAGAism right back to the midterm elections of 2010 when the country was mad at Obama for not fixing everything fast enough and not giving them a baby unicorn to boot, and so they handed Congress over to the fucking Tea Party out of spite. 

So, forgive me if I don't have much faith in the sustainability of your outrage. 

And again, you can get mad at me for saying it out loud, but there it is. Go look up the voter numbers for 2010, you'll see. I can go back and pull up the screen caps of the comments I read back then, but you don't need to take my word for it, we live in the Information Age, go look for yourselves. 

Trump is the direct (heh) intellectual descendent of the squawking mindless miserable ignorant racist misogynistic clanging violent fanatical hate that was the Tea Party. 

But more than that, where we are right now is the direct result of what happens when good people don't show up. What's that quote about triumph of evil and good men doing nothing? You know the one, even if you incorrectly attribute it to Edmund Burke or Ben Franklin. 

And why?

Why don't they show up? Why do good men stand by doing nothing and allow evil to triumph? 

You don't have to look very far. 

You don't have to guess. You don't have to take my word for it. You don't have to run a poll and hope for honest answers. Why don't they show up? They'll tell you. They are telling you. They've been telling you. 

Look, folks, I interact with something like half a million people every day and I'm neck deep in Americans telling me why they're not going to show up. 

They're not inspired. 

They're sick and tired of nothing ever changing, that things not only don't get better, they're getting worse. 

They're mad Joe Biden hasn't delivered them the pony they were promised, just like they were mad at Barrack Obama and Bill Clinton and John F. Kennedy -- and probably George Washington too. 

They're sick of shitty choices. 

They're sick of the people they had to vote for not making bold moves to save the Republic. 

And yes, I have mocked that attitude, those very words, right here, over and over and admonished Americans to grow up and do their pragmatic duty anyway.

But still, there it is. 

Most of all they're pissed that rich white men are never held to account. 

And you know what? I am too. 

You bet I am. 

Look, I hate to be this way, I do, but there are Mafia Dons in prison right now looking at Trump like, goddamn, when are they gonna indict this guy? 

I mean, Tricky Dick Nixon was a piker compared to Trump. 

At this point I don't really care if they arrest Trump for outstanding parking tickets. Something. Anything. 

Because if we hit the election without an indictment, then it's over. 

It's OVER.

This isn't about justice. 

This isn't about "The Law."

This is about politics

And politics are about appearance. About what the public believes. 

Politics are about being inspired. 


You're right. It's about faith


If we go into this election with America believing Trump and his cronies will again get away with it, if we don't have faith -- real faith -- that this time these goddamn crooks are going to prison, then the people who need to show up won't, and those who want to own the libs will

And you don't have to look any further than 2010 to see it coming. 

Yeah, Merrick Garland is the guy who put away Timothy McVeigh, I got it. So what? 

I hear the lawyers cautioning me to patience. Slow, steady, build a case, ironclad, so Trump can't wiggle out. I got it. I hear you. 

I hear you. 

But you're not hearing me. 

Slow and steady won't win this race. 

And we've heard these promises before. 

There is literally no history you can point to in Trump's past to prove your case that this time, at long last, he'll finally get what's coming to him. None. 

The public has to believe that this time something will actually be done.

A firewalled, tightlipped DOJ might be good for Justice, but right now it's bad for Democracy

You can win the battle and lose the war.

That's what happened to Hillary Clinton. She won all the battles, but she lost the war. 

Clinton was educated, experienced, prepared. Trump was ... Sarah Palin with better hair and a spray tan. Proudly sexist. Loudly racist. A blustering, bombastic, bloviating ignoramus. 

Remember the debates? 

Clinton answered all the questions. Succinctly. Competently. With knowledge and experience. She had a real plan for everything. Trump never answered a single question. His responses showed his utter ignorance, his complete inability to address reality, to answer a single question in a straightforward manner. The guy was a fumbling idiot, utterly ill-prepared to be president of the Country Club let alone America. 

And yet, they called the debates for Trump. Because the crowd hated Clinton, she was too prepared Republicans said, too smug and confident like she thinks we owe her a vote said Democrats. And they loved how Trump put on a show.

You saw it. 

Republicans saw it. 

And they elected him anyway. Because they knew they'd get what they wanted -- and they did. 

Because politics isn't about what's right. 

It's about who wins the mob. 

That's what Mueller didn't understand. He was a lawyer. A G-Man. An FBI Agent. A professional. He thought he could just put the evidence on the table and America, Congress, the Justice Department, would do the right thing. 

Do I need remind you how that turned out?

Of course, they weren't going to do the right thing. Not when Republicans, Christian Conservatives, the hardcore Right, they finally got what they wanted. 

Then 2020, and yeah, we threw Trump out of office, but he owned us all anyway, didn't he? 

Republicans got what they wanted. Yes they did. They got rid of Roe v. Wade. Sure, we won the battle, won the election.

And lost the goddamn war. 

And now they're coming for more and they're probably going to get it. 

Roe was just the first fort to fall. Now they're coming for the rest of it, like Nazi tanks plowing through the forest around the Maginot Line. They're coming for everything you said you care about. Everything from same sex marriage to contraception to voting rights to gun control to the climate to education, all of it. They said so. 

And you can hear the roaring of their army approaching. 

If you don't show up this time, there's going to be no way to stop them. 

Every single vote matters. 

Every one. 

And if those who need to be inspired, who are disgusted by politics as usual, who already hate their choices, who are convinced that nothing ever changes and the only solution is to burn it all down, if those voters aren't given at least a reasonable hope that this time the old rich white man who did this to us will be held to account, then they aren't going to show up. 

They will not. 

They will hand the Republic over the horrible remnants of the Tea Party just to watch it burn. 

They said so. They've been saying so. And they have repeatedly demonstrated their willingness to carry though with not showing up. 

Quod Erat Demonstrandum. 

This isn't about indicting Trump. 

This is about what kind of country we want to live in. 

This is about the supreme court. It's about rights. It's about gun violence. It's about who can marry who. It's about who can vote. It's about autonomy over your own body. It's about keeping the goddamn church out of government. It's about the environment. It's about the economy. It's about decent jobs. It's about healthcare. It's about feeding the hungry. It's about what we can teach in schools. It's about history and who gets to write it. It's about who is a full citizen of this country and who is not. It's about all of that and so much more. 

Most of all, this is about the future we leave to our kids and our grandchildren. 

Have faith?

No. 

Faith is for invisible gods who live in the sky. Not government. 

Americans needs to know that the Department of Justice is going to bring these seditious sons of bitches to justice. All of them. Especially Donald J. Trump. 

We need to know it. 

We need proof, not faith. 

Folks, we won every battle in Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq. 

And still lost the wars. 

Well, maybe we didn't exactly lose those wars, but we sure as shit didn't win them either. 

And that, right there, is the metaphor. 

It's not enough to just not lose. 

It's not enough to just hold the line. 

You have to win. You have to win hard, decisively, overwhelmingly, in enough numbers to not only fix what these fascist bastards have already broken but to send them back into the sewer where they belong, to push the faces of these goddamn Nazis down into the muck and hold them there until they stop kicking. 

Is it fair? That people are like this? That voters are fickle? That politics isn't about truth or fact but rather putting on a show? 

Hell no it's not fair. 

But that's how it is. 

And if you want to win, then Merrick Garland has got to move. Now. 

You tell me to have faith. 

Well, then you have to give me something to have faith in. 

More than that, the American people shouldn't have to have faith.

America should know with certainty, or at least a high degree of confidence, that the government they elected will do the right thing. 

You've heard me say many times: If you want a better nation, you have to be a better citizen.

And that is true.

BUT, in America, citizens and government are inextricably tied together, one and the same, and therefore the converse is also true.

Thus: If you want better citizens, you have to be a better government. 

For Merrick Garland, that time is now. 


I do respect people's faith, but I don't respect their manipulation of that faith in order to create fear and control.
-- Javier Bardem


Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Recap: June 8, 2022

 


There's a man who leads a life of danger
To everyone he meets he stays a stranger
With every move he makes
Another chance he takes
Odds are he won't live to see tomorrow


Secret Agent, man. 

It's maybe not as cool as it first sounds. 

News this morning is that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis's spokeswoman this week was finally forced to register as a foreign agent. 

That's right, a foreign agent. 

As in an agent of a foreign power. 

It seems that after an investigation by the Department of Justice, Christina Pushaw, disclosed that she had in fact worked as a foreign agent between 2018 and 2020 for a Georgian politician. 

Georgia. 

Not the US state north of Florida. 

No, Georgia the country, the former Soviet Republic, now in a de facto state of war with Russia. 

War with Russia, yeah, but that's good, right? 

That makes us allies, doesn't it? 


Well...


Now, none of this was really a secret. 

Pushaw was pretty open about it. In fact, that might be what landed her a job with Ron DeSantis. It was surely on her resume. I worked for a foreign president, man. 

A president. I mean, that's got to look good on a resume, doesn't it? 

Doesn't it? 

Except the foreign former president Pushaw worked for was none other than Mikheil Saakashvili, but Ron DeSantis probably heard "President of Georgia" and thought Brian Kemp and signed her up. 

Saakashvili, for those of you not keeping up with foreign despots, was the 3rd President of Georgia following the collapse of the Soviet Union. 

At first Saakashvili seemed like a decent guy, pro-NATO, pro-West, anti-Russia. 

That's good, right? 

Well...

By his second term in office, he'd become so corrupt and authoritarian, Georgia was essentially a police state not that much different from when it was under Soviet rule. A lot of innocent people were disappeared or ended up in prison -- which, now that I think of it, probably looked pretty good to Ron DeSantis. 

(An interesting footnote of Saakashvili's time in office was a deal he personally inked with Donald Trump to build a Trump Hotel in Georgia. Make of that what you will)

Georgians were fed up and Saakashvili -- facing violent revolution and a pretty high probability of being executed in the public square -- resigned, fled the country, and was stripped of his citizenship. 

He eventually ended up in Ukraine...

(This is where you shout: Ukraine? Ah HAH!)

...and through a series of convoluted shenanigans, became the governor of the Odessa Oblast (oblast means something like "administrative district"), a region along the Black Sea right smack next to the recently Russian annexed Crimea. 

A lot of people in Odessa Oblast (according to Russia) reportedly lean towards Russia, which is a pretty weird place for a guy who is supposedly anti-Russia to fetch up. 

He also ended up with Ukrainian citizenship -- since the Georgians had kicked him out of their country and it was a requirement for being Governor of a Ukrainian administrative region. 

Predictably, things in Odessa didn't go well. 

Or rather, just like Georgia, things went well at first. Saakashvili was for a while perhaps the most popular politician in Ukraine. But, just like Georgia, eventually things went to hell and he resigned due to, you guessed it, corruption. 

Corruption, which he blamed on the president of Ukraine. 


You see where this is going already, don't you? 


Ah hah, indeed. 

Saakashvili formed a new political party called the Movement of New Forces -- which is probably totally not ominous sounding at all. 

For about a decade if there was a revolution, an uprising, or some sort of war between Russia, Georgia, and Ukraine, Saakashvili was right in the middle of it and if you're getting shades of Roger Stone crossed with Stephen Miller with bit of a Steve Bannon and Lee Atwater for leavening, you're not the only one. 

He was eventually stripped of his Ukrainian citizenship. 

Then had it reinstated. 

And then returned to Georgia (sneaking into the country via a containership as an illegal immigrant) where he tried to lead a revolution to overthrow the government and got himself arrested. 

He famously went on a hunger strike in prison.

Georgia (along with pretty much everybody else) seemed perfectly fine with him starving himself to death as a solution to everyone's problem. 

But eventually, due in part to agents working on his behalf in places like, oh, you know, the United States (ah hah) he was moved to a hospital and then to a military medical prison where he presently resides. 

Now, I'm leaving a lot out.

A lot. 

You can go read up on Saakashvili for yourself. There are plenty of sources, so you don't have to take my word for it. 

A lot of people, American and otherwise, see Saakashvili as a villain. 

A lot of people, American and otherwise, see him as some sort of revolutionary hero. 

It really depends on where you stand. He's a complicated guy who is inextricably linked to the politics, corruption, crime, revolution, and war in Russia, Georgia, and Ukraine. 

But, however you see it, the bottom line is that from 2018 to 2020, Christina Pushaw was working as his (unregistered) agent here in the US, for which she was reportedly paid $25,000 according to the Washington Post.

She was recently notified by the DOJ that her work as a foreign agent violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), and she has now filed for retroactive registration. 

There might be criminal charges, but given the DOJ's recent record, I wouldn't count on it. 

It happens. 

Oh yes, it does. As violation of the law goes, this unregistered foreign agent business happens a lot more than you'd think and no one really seems to give much of a shit about it. Hell, getting caught for casual violation of FARA is almost a mark a pride in certain political circles and $25,000 is chump change compared to some of the dark money American politicians are raking from foreign sources bent to the manipulation of America and hostile to our interests. 

The ironic part is that Pushaw herself claims to have reported others to the Justice Department as alleged foreign agents (some actually were, and in at least one case were convicted of violating FARA, which later became part of the Mueller Investigation).


That's not the point. 


Well, okay, it is. 

But it's not the whole point. 

The point here is that the people who scream the loudest about "Hunter Biden" and some vague shadowy undefined Biden family criminal involvement in Ukraine are themselves neck-deep in foreign entanglements, literally taking money from Russian and/or Ukrainian interests.

It's almost like they're trying to distract you from their own actions. 

And yeah, this is where you again shout ah HAH!

Given DeSantis' repeated attacks on the Biden Administration and his not-so-secret political ambitions, that fact that his spokesperson worked as a foreign agent for a guy smack in the middle of the Russian, Georgian, and Ukrainian wars, is at best a major conflict of interest. 

For a political party that claims to hold the moral high ground, these people sure do seem to spend a lot of time down in the swamp. 

And it's damn funny how Russia seems to be in the middle of it all. 

Damn funny, indeed. 

Beware of pretty faces that you find
A pretty face can hide an evil mind
Oh, be careful what you say
Or you'll give yourself away...
-- Secret Agent Man,
    Written by P.F. Sloan and Steve Barri
    Performed by Johnny Rivers


Tuesday, May 24, 2022

The Gun Posts


Since a bunch of you are asking in the wake of the latest outbreak of gun violence, here are the essays:


The Seven Stages of Gun Violence
The Bang Bang Crazy Series:
Part 1, What we need, see, are more guns, big fucking guns
Part 2, Gun violence isn't the exception in America, it's who we are
Part 3, Sandy Hook, the NRA, and a gun in every school
Part 4, More dead kids and why we have laws
Part 5, Gun control and a polite society
Part 6, The Christopher Donner rampage, they needed killin'
Part 7, Still more dead kids and let's print our own guns!
Part 8, Let's try blaming the victim, shall we?
Part 9, Armed soldiers on post, sure, nothing to go wrong there.
Part 10. Big Damned Heroes!
Part 11. Two in the Bush
Part 12, Excuses
Part 13, Arm the Teachers
Part 14, The cowardice of Responsibility.


What do we do about it? How do we change our culture of gun violence? Bang Bang Sanity

I don't have the will anymore to write anything new about this madness. 

Nothing will change until we as a nation find the goddamn strength to stand up to this murderous insanity and actually do something about it. 



Sunday, April 3, 2022

When Fascism Comes to America

 

“Before mass leaders seize the power to fit reality to their lies, their propaganda is marked by its extreme contempt for facts as such, for in their opinion fact depends entirely on the power of man who can fabricate it.”
Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism


Ukraine.

As we in America wake to pictures and reports of horrifying war crimes committed by Vladimir Putin's forces, innocents -- hands tied behind their backs -- lined up and executed, the bodies of children, women, men, thrown into ditches or left in the streets, I would remind you of this:

"Why do I care what is going on in the conflict between Ukraine and Russia? I'm serious. Why shouldn't I root for Russia? Which by the way I am."
-- Tucker Carlson, Fox News

"This is genius. Putin declares a big portion of the Ukraine -- of Ukraine. Putin declares it as independent. Oh, that's wonderful."
-- Donald J. Trump, 45th President of the United States

"I'd say that's pretty smart. He's [Putin] taking over a country -- really a vast, vast location, a great piece of land with a lot of people, and just walking right in."
-- Donald. J. Trump

"I don't need a ride, give me ammunition. The fight is right here. But we also have neighbors to the north who need freedom and need to be liberated, and we need that right here at home as well."
-- Lauren Boebert, Congresswoman, 

I could go on all day, quoting various Americans who support the idea of genocide. 

But, I'll leave that as an exercise for the reader. 


Russia learned from the Nazi invasion of their own country. 


Oh, most certainly, they had already committed horrifying slaughters of their own, too many to name in the 1920s and 30s. As someone on my Twitter timeline noted: Hitler had nothing to teach Stalin. Russia already knew all there was to know about brutality. 

But when the Nazis invaded Russia, it gave Stalin justification for that Soviet brutality. 

Or perhaps validation is a better word. 

Whatever word you use, Russia carries that idea to this day, i.e. they were brutalized by their enemies and so any savagery on their part today is justified by that terrible history. 

That's why any appeal to humanity and the rules of war go unheeded by Vladimir Putin. 

Russia took the ruthless lesson of their brutal history to heart and it informs how they wage war: target the innocents, burn the hospitals, slaughter civilians, destroy the infrastructure, and thus reduce a nation's ability to fight back. You have only to look at the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan to see the broad outlines of this doctrine. 

Trump, Carlson, et al look upon that brutality, that savagery, that ruthlessness, and they see exactly what Russia sees. 

Strength.

Power. 

And willingness to do whatever violence is necessary to achieve your goals. 


And the brutal means are justified by the idea that you yourself are the real victim of this violence. 


Trump, and far too many Americans, admire Vladimir Putin because they see themselves as victims just as Russia does. 

They see themselves as oppressed, put down, because the world is changing. 

They feel themselves diminished because others who have been traditionally marginalized in our history are now gaining rights and privileges and an unashamed place in our society. 

You have only to look to Fox News and OAN right now to see those who speak for this brutal Republican ideology, you can daily see them threatening similar violent revenge on Americans for a thousand imagined slights. 

See the comments of Ron DeSantis, Florida Republicans, Laura Ingraham, et al. and how they fully intend to use the power of their office to punish Disney over trans rights. 

Listen to the words of Donald Trump and who he admires. 

Listen to the MAGAs who support him: he says what we think!

Listen to Republican Congresswoman Lisa McClain speaking at a Trump Rally in Michigan yesterday when she declares that migrants crossing the border are all “terrorists, convicts, murderers and rapists.

Listen to Texas Republican Robert Foster: 

Some of y’all still want to try and find political compromise with those that want to groom our school aged children and pretend men are women, etc, I think they need to be lined up against a wall before a firing squad to be sent to an early judgment.”

That's how it starts.

You see yourself as a victim. 

You see The Other as terrorists, murderers, convicts, and rapists. 

You paint The Other as the worst possible thing you can think of, Satan worshipers, pedophiles, criminals, subhuman, the Enemy. 

You use that rhetoric, revenge, get even, and you tell those most privileged by your society that they are the real victims. 

And when you gain power, you use the mailed fist of government and the military to crush your opponents -- and to keep that power, you'll need to carry through on your promise. 

You'll have no choice but to actually line up those you hate against the wall and put a bullet in their heads. The mob who raised you up to power will accept nothing less than blood. 

That's where it starts. 


And it ends with the bodies of innocents shot in the head and dumped in a ditch.


You remember when Trump as President threatened to send the Army into Chicago? 

And Republicans cheered that idea? 

You remember when that same president sent goons dressed in unmarked military garb to Seattle to secretly arrest "ANTIFA" and "BLM?"

And Republicans cheered.

When he paraded tanks through our capital? 

And Republican cheered? 

Do you? 

It's all part of the same mindset, one that ends in war and genocide. 

We must not only stop what's happening in Ukraine, we must stop it before it happens here. 


For God's sake, this man cannot remain in power!
-- Joe Biden, 46th President of the United States







Saturday, April 2, 2022

Paid Content

 


As previously noted, every once in a while I have to ask for money.

I don’t have to do it very often these days. But, this has been an expensive year and I’ve got bills to pay and people to take care of.

Having given up military consulting work and having shut down my woodworking business and art studio when I left Alaska, I subsist for the moment primarily on income derived from my social media sites and this blog – including the various merchandise I sell under my brand.

A few years back, I wouldn’t have believed this possible.

A few years back it wouldn’t have been possible.

But despite the sneering complaints of certain vocal critics, it is possible for a writer to make a reasonably decent living this way.

Yes, writer.

It used to be “writer” was defined as somebody who assembled words and ideas into books, short stories, articles, and perhaps screenplays, fact or fiction, and submitted those efforts via various means to editors at publishing houses or various presses or various media outlets, and then lived on cheese sandwiches hoping a check of some meager amount would come back. Traditionally the profession of “writer” meant you repeated this cycle without healthcare or adequate hygiene or presentable clothes until you died, or gave it up for a real job.

That model, that definition of writer, still very much exists.

And a lot of writers make varying degrees of living from it.

If you’re a Stephen King or a John Scalzi, you might make millions and live in a golden mansion high on a landscaped hill in the middle of a private island waited on hand and foot by an army of nubile olive-pitters (this is totally true and I heard it directly from one of George R.R. Martin’s gardeners). But more likely you’re a stringer for the local paper, and you might make enough to buy a cheese sandwich or two providing you’re not particular about the definition of “cheese” or those weird green spots on the bread.

Various degrees of success exist between those poles.

Me? I wanted to be a writer since I was kid. It’s a sickness, writing. A weird mental disorder that makes you sit in front of a keyboard for hours, daydreaming and playing with ideas and wondering why anybody would read the blather on the screen. But my grandmother gave me a Hardy Boys book (#8; The Mystery of Cabin Island) for Christmas one year when I was about 8 or 9. I’d been an indifferent reader up to that point, but that book captivated me and my lifelong obsession with words began right there. Somewhere shortly thereafter, in a staggering moment of epiphany, I realized there were actually people out there who got paid to sit in front of a keyboard and daydream and those people didn’t have to put on pants every day. Hell they might not even own actual pants – unless you consider pajamas legitimate work apparel.

I knew then that’s what I wanted to do.

I’d always intended to go the traditional route, cheese sandwiches and all.

I’d never intended to write about politics. But evidence would suggest that’s where my talent lies – if you’re charitable and agree that it is indeed an actual talent and not just something you could train a chimpanzee to do (they taught ‘em to fly spaceships, so I imagine political pundit wouldn’t be that difficult).

But by the time I was free to write what I wanted (upon my retirement from the military) and I started writing in earnest with the idea that someday somebody would give me actual money for it, the world had changed. How we connect to it had changed and continues to evolve at a rapid pace and a new type of “writer” became possible – well maybe not new new, but perhaps a more modern version of the political broadsides and pamphlets penned by the likes of Thomas Paine.

It’s amazing to me how fast this has gone.

Ten years ago, hell five years ago, I would never have guessed that Facebook would become my primary platform for day to day short form.  Facebook is a horrible platform for the kinds of things I write. It’s a bastard cross between a blog and public forum and doesn’t do either very well. It’s subject to arbitrary and random censorship. There’s no protection for intellectual property at all. It lacks the most basic of editing tools and formatting functions, its search capability is ridiculous and all but useless. Facebook’s interface, timeline management, and display are one of the single most infuriatingly horrible experiences in an age of limitless customization – limitless to everybody but Facebook users that is. It’s impossible to get any kind of help from the operators and it’s subject to every kind of cyber-abuse from bullying to trolling to sexual assault.

And Twitter, where I spend many hours every day, is, if anything, worse.

If Facebook is a dysfunctional community, then Twitter is Monkey Island in that community’s horrible zoo, a screeching riot of flying shit and bared fangs. Twitter is a chemical plant for distilling out the absolute worst elements of human existence, like some sort of highway where every driver is armed and in the throes of howling road rage and they don’t care if they die if they can take everybody else with them.

And yet – and yet – these platforms do one thing very, very well.

They do the one thing that traditional publishing venues cannot do.

Facebook and Twitter (and Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, Snapchat, et al) connect creators to people in an organic, viral, geometrically expanding manner that is completely impossible anywhere else.

Now, interacting with readers on a real time basis for hours upon hours every single goddamned day isn’t for every writer. It takes a certain degree of masochism to do it, see my previous comments about road rage and flying monkey shit.

In point of fact, a lot of writers become writers because they are anti-social bastards who enjoy living on moldy fake-cheese sandwiches and sitting around all day in dirty pajamas and who tend to break out in a cold sweat when they actually have to put on pants and go outside where all the other people are.

So real time interaction with their audience isn’t something they consider a feature.

And that’s okay. “Writer” is a loose enough definition that it accommodates the gregarious right alongside the hermit.

But, if you write well, if you write the things people are interested in, and if you’re willing to interact with your audience directly and in real time, then social media makes it possible for your work to spread far beyond the size of audiences normally available to traditional writers. For example: A few years ago, when I started doing this full time, Stonekettle Station averaged maybe 20,000 visitors per month – and that was after eight or ten years of writing every single day.  Maybe 3,000 people followed me on Facebook, maybe another 1000 or so on Twitter, and like one weird guy on Instagram.

A few years later, with some considerable effort, my daily Facebook audience is coming up on 250,000 subscribers, 200,000 on Twitter, and a single long form essay on Stonekettle Station can exceed 200,000 unique pageviews in a few hours.

That’s not connectivity traditional publishing, even things like newspaper columnist, can do.

Social media, for all its ills, has created new opportunity, an alternative to traditional writing models. Not a replacement, a supplement.

And that’s where I ended up.

I admit that in my case there is some degree of luck. I happened to be in the right place just as opportunity opened with the right experience and skillset and enough free time to take advantage of it.  It suits me. It’s not easy. Really it’s not. It sometimes (often) takes 14 to 18 hour days, research, writing, swearing at the screen, it can be incredibly frustrating at times for reasons you never imagine or anticipate. It requires constant attention, a constant presence, and everything becomes grist for the mill, making much of your life public – something that is often less than thrilling to your spouse.

It’s work.

And it is … writing.

I’ve had a number of critics sneer at me, you’re not a real writer! Well, okay. Fair enough. I'd point out that I am published in the traditional fashion, and I even got paid a considerable amount for it. But, I’m not particularly put out by my critics and I’m willing to go with whatever description you want to call it.  Sincerely.

But what do you call it?

I sometimes crank out a quarter million words in a month for a dedicated audience larger than that of many highly successful novelists. Hell, news sites steal my work on nearly a daily basis, and publish my stuff as their own for profit – that’s got to mean something, right? Now, I’m willing to accept any label you want to slap on that, but before you do, I’d like to suggest you try it. Start a blog, social media sites, assemble words every day, build an audience without gimmicks or tricks solely on the basis of what you write, and then tell me what you call that effort.

As a cautionary note: no matter what you call yourself, no matter how much adoring admiration you manage to inspire in your audience, no matter how many people send you fan mail and messages of respect, no matter how successful you eventually manage to be and how full of yourself you become as a result, your family and friends still think you’re a putz and remind you of it as often as possible.  Ideally this keeps you grounded and from turning into a complete ass. Ideally.

And every day, every single day, no matter how well you’ve done, everyday, you’re sure that’ll be the day it all falls apart and you’ll have to go get a real job again.

I’ve been invited to a number of writer’s conventions to talk about this with other writers – or those who want to become writers under this new paradigm. That’s something I’m happy to do. I’ve been pretty lucky and I’m glad to pay that forward. The world is a big place, there’s plenty of room for many, many more writers – or whatever you call ‘em – in this new arena. Catch me at WorldCon in Chicago later this year and we'll talk about it. 

But, here’s the downside – or at least the part I like least.

Every once in a while I need to ask for money.

I don’t like this. I really don’t like this. I don’t like asking for money.

I’m getting more used it, especially since it doesn’t seem to bother readers at all – well except for that one guy who shows up periodically to call me names and generally make an pest of himself. But ideally, I write something and if you like it enough, you’ll kick in.  And thankfully, you do so often enough that I can mostly survive on that part. Mostly, but not quite.

So when I began this I found a way to assuage my conscience.

Any subscriber who donates any amount via the donation button or as a Patreon during the period of April 1st, 2022 to April 30, 2022 will be put in the running for a giveaway. Every few days over the next month, I’ll give away loot. I’ve got at least a hundred of my handmade ink pens, engraved with Stonekettle Station. I’ve signed copies of books that my work appears in. I’ve got signed copies of my photography – and given that I generally don’t sign those prints, these will be unique. And randomly, I’ll give away a couple of Stonekettle Station T-shirts (If you win one of those, I’ll have it made to your requirements, size, color, sex, etc).

Winners will be announced every few days until I run out things to give away.

To donate, click on the “Donation” button on the upper right side of this screen and follow the directions or click on the Patreon link for additional options.


Edit: Readers viewing Stonekettle Station on mobile devices sometimes can’t see the side-bar. As such, I’m attempting to embed the donate function code here in the text.

My Patreon is here


You may enter more than once. Each donation will be counted as a unique subscription. If you’ve already donated to Stonekettle Station this month, you’re already on the subscription list.

Those of you who already donate via an automatic monthly payment, you’ll be entered automatically in the giveaway.

I’ve discovered that winners sometimes, often it seems, do not want their names made public. I’d like to tell readers who got the various art pieces, but if you want your name kept private I will certainly do so. When I did this before, the first person I selected to receive a prize refused because they lived on a boat and had no room for addition items. The alternate also refused for personal reasons and requested that the artwork go instead to a charity for auction to raise money for a cause important to them. They wanted it kept anonymous. So, that I did. I will honor any reasonable request when it comes to such things.

Legal Disclaimer: To be clear, this is not a lottery or a raffle.  Donations are voluntary subscription fees specifically in support of this blog and the associated social media feeds and conducted in accordance with state and federal requirements.

That is:  you’re paying for content not a chance to win something.

I am not claiming any tax-exempt status or charity. Donations are considered business income and I pay all applicable state and federal taxes on that income and I have the records to prove it.

The items I give away are my artwork, created and paid for by me.  As such I chose to randomly give them away to supporters, just as I gave away my custom made pens to my fellow writers.  The giveaway list is generated from voluntary subscriptions, since I have no other way to determine who readers are.  You are not donating for a chance to win a prize, you’re paying for the content of this blog and my associated social media feeds and I’m using this opportunity to give something back other than just my usual blog essays, Facebook posts, Instagram, and Tweets.

As always, thank you for your support.