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Hyperationalist Posts

Real Talk on Nevada

@jkarsh nails the nuance and the nonsense surrounding the Nevada Democratic Convention in 26 perfect tweets. Enjoy!

[Because #2-26 are responses to the first tweet, there doesn’t seem to be a way to embed the subsequent posts without automatically including #1. Sorry about that.]

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Why We Still Need Michael Moore

I watched Michael Moore’s Where To Invade Next last night. First, I have to confess that I’ve either outgrown Moore’s schtick or he’s gotten more annoying as the years have passed. I found myself frequently distracted from many of the film’s wholly valid propositions by the methods and style used to illustrate them. Maybe it’s just that I don’t need this material dumbed down for me the way I did in my late teens and early 20’s when I thought Moore was a hero—and so maybe it’s fine that he’s dumbing it down for the next generation or two. Still, it’s frustrating to see valid points undercut by unnecessary omissions and fudging.

Having said all of that, the sum of Where To Invade Next’s parts did knock me off-kilter a bit under the weight of it’s underlying themes. There’s real poignance in the film’s portrayal of an international community that has left us in the dust when it comes to emotional intelligence, a term I use not in an academic sense but as an umbrella to describe the web of psychological, intellectual and emotional characteristics that make a person or a people empathetic, unselfish, able to grasp nuance, measured in their response to challenging stimuli, thoughtful in their approach to problems, and so on.

On the surface, Moore merely reminds us that there are a number of things the rest of the civilized world does objectively better than us: health care, paid family leave, nutrition, education, incarceration, gender equality, etc. More importantly and more devastatingly, he leaves us with the distinct impression that they do these things better not because their political systems are better, not because they’re smarter, not because they’re less populous, and not because they’re inherently superior people. Rather, the rest of the civilized world does these things better because they’re just more mature.

One comes away from Where To Invade Next with the sense that the people of the nations featured are the placid sage to our garish brat: they have perspective regarding their place in the grand scheme of things; they are not attached to dogmatic ideas that feel morally correct; if there’s a smarter way to do something, they just do it even if it means letting go of a gut-level instinct to do it another way; they’ll sacrifice something good today for something better tomorrow.

I envied the subjects of Moore’s filmcitizens of Italy, Norway, Portugal, Iceland, and even Tunisia—not because they have stuff we don’t have, but because they don’t have the baggage that prevents us from having those things. We’d rather be “America” than be better.

Why should this be so? There are undoubtedly countless cultural and historical explanations for this maturity gap, but Moore raises an issue that led to a gut punch of a revelation that struck me as a key piece of any comprehensive answer to the question.

He spends a good deal of time showing us examples of the penance that Germany pays for its past—not token gestures, mind you, but a profound and constant genuflection of the mind and soul; a fierce ownership and passing down of their ancestor’s collective crimes against humanity. He contrasts this, not surprisingly, with our failure to own up to our original sin, slavery.

What hit me was really just a simple corollary: we were never punished. It’s not just that we still won’t fully acknowledge the magnitude of the original crime or the responsibility we bear for ongoing intergenerational poverty, oppression and suffering—it’s that no one ever made us pay.

Germany was defeated and crushed and reparations were extracted and atonement was demanded and while none of that will ever be enough, a lesson was learned and it is a lesson that has obviously stayed with the people of Germany. We, on the other hand…well, we fucking got away with it. And like a smug little bully, we knew it and concluded that we could keep getting away with variations on it through the years. For fuck’s sake, a school district in Cleveland, Mississippi was just ordered yesterday by a court to desegregate. Yesterday, May 16, 2016.

We’ve never been punished by anyone for anything, which is odd for a nation that like to punish, a nation with the highest rate of incarceration in the world. We’re one of the last western nations that is still executing people—on the premise that “an eye for an eye” is good enough moral justification; we regularly try children as adults; we send people to jail for being addicted to drugs; in the news this morning alone we did THIS and THIS; and God help you and your family and the country you came from if you’re a non-Christian who kills or seeks to kill Americans.

We’re all law and order and retaliation when it comes to crimes against us (narrowly defined) but we have never paid a price for kidnapping, abusing, torturing, raping, buying, selling and killing millions of slaves to help us build the wealthiest nation on the face of the planet. Hell, we can’t even get rid of the flag that stood for our right to perpetrate all of that horsefuckery.

Spare the rod, spoil the child. Spare the reparations…”wait, what?…fuck that shit…I didn’t have slaves!”

So of course we’re a spoiled rotten, immature little shit with no sense of personal responsibility to anyone or anything but ourselves. Of course we have incredibly stunted ideas about what made us great and what will keep us great (or make us great again). Of course we don’t need any stupid ideas from a bunch of pussies that got their assess handed to them seven ways from Sunday back during the WWs.

I think Rufus Wainwright has it right:

I’m going to a town that has already been burnt down
I’m going to a place that has already been disgraced
I’m gonna see some folks who have already been let down
I’m so tired of America

I’m not saying there’s honor in being disgraced or righteously burned down, but there is great dishonor and dire moral hazard in getting off scot-free, without some form of public expiation, for unthinkable crimes against humanity.

This learned entitlement, this impunity, it is in our blood and it has made us very, very childish. It has made us a people that would rather vastly overpay for healthcare than do something that could be called “socialist;” it has made us a people that will tolerate 30,000 gun deaths per year rather than give an inch on a misinterpretation of one line in a 225 year old document that allegedly justifies our obsession with these metal objects of mayhem; it has made us a people that would rather build and profit from more prisons than drug treatment facilities.

It has made us a nation that still needs an irritating dude with a camera to make this shit simple for us.

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Dear Lazy Idiots: Stop Blaming the Media for Trump

Stop. Seriously, just…just stop.

Imagine for a moment what you’d be saying right now if the media had not relentlessly covered the spectacle of a frontrunner for the Republican nomination for President of the United States saying batshit crazy things, picking up endorsements from batshit crazy people, and otherwise demonstrating his manifest unfitness for the job with every breath, shrug, insult, dodged question and tweet.

You’d be saying “WHY WASN’T ANYONE PAYING ATTENTION TO THIS BATSHIT CRAZINESS BEFORE IT WAS TOO LATE?!” You’d be blaming the media, alleging dereliction of duty, wondering how they let a dangerous crypto-fascist go uncovered when all it would have taken to crush him would have been to turn a camera and a microphone on him and let him speak. “Surely that would have been his undoing with Republican primary voters!” you’d chastise.

You might, of course, argue that he would never have been the frontrunner if not for the media coverage, but a) we can’t know what would have happened/not happened if the media had somehow conspired and colluded to ignore a Republican presidential candidate calling Mexican rapists, calling for a ban on Muslims entering the U.S., mocking the capture of a former PoW/sitting Senator, etc. and b) well, this just doesn’t pass the smell test. Trump jumped out to an early lead within six weeks of having launched his campaign:

Once Trump was the clear leader of the pack, it was incumbent upon the media to cover him as such—and, frankly, even more so with every ludicrous, hateful, ignorant, and/or bigoted bit of bile he uttered. The very same thought process that led to the repeated humiliation of a thousand pundits—i.e. “Surely this statement will end his campaign,” “Clearly he will suffer from his performance in that debate”—would lead any rational person to conclude that they should let the camera roll every minute of every day in the interest of allowing the public to see what a fucking lunatic he is.

It’s much, much simpler than any attempt to blame the media: as Jonathan Chait pointed out yesterday, “The Republican Party turns out to be filled with idiots.” The voters chose this man despite having been given ample opportunity to watch and listen to his deranged, reality-TV circus act…by the media.

The Republican electorate is full of greedy, racist, ignorant fucking slobs who think Trump is awesome and who voted for him in overwhelming numbers in primaries and caucuses all over this great nation in spite of having been presented, by the media, with a mountain of evidence suggesting that he might very well be the worst possible man for the job.

And let’s not forget: Republican politicians, officials, pundits and candidates stayed basically silent while Trump rocketed to the top and stayed there. The same media people would now like to blame for his rise would have been more than happy, I am quite sure, to have given unlimited airtime to Republican statesmen and women who wanted to denounce Trump. And they did give them this airtime when a handful of cowards finally started limping out of the woodwork at the 11th hour to meekly proclaim that they maybe probably wouldn’t like to see Trump become President of the United States but must beat Hillary and so help us please what have we done #neverHillary #neverTrump help us god forgive us. Help.

So don’t blame the media, lazy idiots. It’s not that I think they need to be defended or that they covered Trump for high-minded reasons, it’s just that scapegoating them is the worst kind of moral and intellectual laziness at this point. Yes, wall-to-wall coverage of Trump is what the worst imaginable media landscape would look like, but it’s also what the best imaginable media landscape would look like.

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Funbags & Firearms

Guns don’t kill people, boobies kill people.

Right? I mean, otherwise why would there by countless ordinances, zoning regulations and laws banning or regulating the showing of luscious love melons in adult establishments all over America? What else would justify any attempt to interfere with the ability of small business owners to pursue the American Dream by building, operating and profiting from a product that is in demand—namely, the opportunity to sit in a comfortable chair and look at a smorgasbord of hum dinging howitzers in peace?

tempest-storm-guns_pas_un_autre Politicians, local officials and citizens have given serious thought to this matter, so one must assume that it is real problem that results in dozens, if not thousands of injuries and/or deaths per year, right? At the very least, chi-chi bars must produce effects that are far more deleterious than those created by, say, businesses that make, sell or otherwise facilitate the procurement and use of guns, right?

Clearly the very act of ogling jiggling jugs in windowless, adult-only establishments is a far greater danger to the nation’s children than, for example, giving a nine-year old the opportunity to shoot a fully automatic uzi at a burger joint. This is why many a state legislature has seen to it that huge hooter havens must adhere to a variety of rules, ranging from the “six foot rule,” which requires nude performers to maintain that distance from their audience, to prohibitions on “full nudity,” wherein strippers are compelled to wear pasties and/or something that covers their vulvas and the place where the poo comes out.

In many places, tough regulations have been used as a thinly veiled end-run designed to drive strip clubs out of business without running afoul of the First Amendment. Phillip Cosby (no relation to Bill Cosby), director of the American Family Association of Kansas and Missouri, said it best while promoting a bill to “heavily regulate” these plush pillow plants, or “sexually-oriented businesses,” as they are known in the world of zoning and regulation

“These are not engines of economic prosperity,” said Phillip Cosby, director of the American Family Association of Kansas and Missouri. “These businesses have a negative impact on communities.” 

The “Community Defense Act,” as supporters call it, opens with a long paragraph explaining that its purpose is to “regulate sexually oriented businesses in order to promote the health, safety and general welfare of the citizens of Kansas,” and not to restrict adult materials or entertainment that are free expressions protected by the First Amendment. 

Cosby said some examples of negative effects from adult businesses are an increase in sexually transmitted diseases, crime and general blight. 

“That’s why you can regulate them,” Cosby said. “That’s why you can restrict them, and there’s no infringement.”

40854What he’s citing here is the secondary effects doctrine which “formally holds that a speech regulation will be treated as content-neutral if its purpose is to control the secondary effects of speech, even if it facially discriminates according to speech content.”

In other words, it’s okay to regulate something that the Constitution specifically says shouldn’t be regulated, as long as you’re just trying to stop some peripheral bad things that result from not regulating it.

Well that makes perfect sense to me. The health and well-being of our citizens should be first and foremost in the minds of legislators and others who consider the imposition of restrictions upon our daily activities, including the viewing of big brown eyes by eyes of any color. That’s probably why the zoning ordinance guide for Mojave County—the county where Bullets & Burgers gun range is located—contains the word “sexually” 41 times while making not a single mention of “gun,” “guns,” “weapon,” “weapons,” or “shooting.”

There are, among other things, sections governing each of the following:

  • Off Street Parking Standards
  • Manufactured Home Requirements
  • Establishment of Retail Plant Nurseries
  • Establishment of a Kennel or Veterinary Clinic
  • Child Care Facilities
  • Garage/Yard Sale – General Provisions
  • Sexually Oriented Businesses (emphasis addded)

Regarding that last category, the Mojave County Planning & Zoning Department seems to have two primary concerns. First, they seek to establish a safe distance from schools, churches and parks:

2ea6428334b5c314d1d695048fb32834No person shall cause or permit the establishment of any sexually oriented businesses, as defined above, within 1,000 feet of another such business or within 1,000 feet of any religious institution, school, boys’ club, girls’ club, or similar existing youth organization, or public park or public building, or within 1,000 feet of any property zoned for residential use or used for residential purposes…

Also, there is an issue so important that it has earned its own subheading: “Regulations Pertaining to Exhibition of Sexually Explicit Films or Videos in Video Booths.” This section covers business which exhibit “in a veiling room of less than 150 square feet of floor space, a film, video cassette or other video production which depicts specified sexual activities or specified anatomical areas.” Just to further clarify, some definitions are contained in the same document:

26. “Specific anatomical areas” means any of the following: 

a. A human anus, genitals, pubic region or a female breast below a point immediately above the top of the areola that is less than completely and opaquely covered.

b. Male genitals in a discernibly turgid state even if completely and opaquely covered.

27. “Specific sexual activities” means any of the following:

a. Human genitals in a state of sexual stimulation or arousal. 

b. Sex acts, normal or perverted, actual or stimulated, including acts of human masturbation, sexual intercourse, oral copulation or sodomy. 

c. Fondling or other erotic touching of the human genitals, pubic region, buttocks, anus or female breast. 

d. Excretory functions as a part of or in connection with any of the activities under subdivision a, b or c of this paragraph. 

Oh, also:

d. The premises shall be equipped with overhead lighting fixtures of sufficient intensity to illuminate every place to which patrons are permitted access and an illumination of not less than two foot candle as measured at the floor level. 

So, as you can see, some of the great minds in Mojave County (which has some of the most permissive gun laws in the nation) have really put quite a bit of thought into the question of where and how people should be allowed to look at totally titanic titties.

And they are not alone. Laws governing sexually oriented business are on the books all across the land because, you know…guns don’t kill people, glistening globular glands kill people. Where would we be, what kind of nation would we be living in if, at any time of the day or night, a grown man or woman could walk into an establishment where massive malleable mammaroonies are flying freely through manufactured smoke and strobe lighting?

The Constitution of the United States of America does not carve out a specific right to  display or view lovely jubbly wubblies because surely the Almighty Lord God of the Blood of the Lamb did not create mouthwatering milkshake meat muffins in his own image simply so that any Tom, Dick or Harry could see them any time he wants—whereas he clearly wants any Tom, Dick or Harry to have unfettered access to deadly pieces of steel that launch projectiles designed to tear apart the very same flesh and bone those pretty pink-nosed puppies are made of.

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Holston Cole, 2013-2016

Holston Cole, age three, shot himself in the chest with his father’s gun on Tuesday morning in Paulding County, Georgia. He is dead now.

Before I go on, here’s a video from his dad’s YouTube channel of Holston flying a kite around the house just days before pulling a semi-automatic pistol out of his dad’s bookbag and shooting himself in the chest with it.

And here, if you can stomach it, is a local news report with the 911 call Holston’s dad made when he found his son with a hole in his chest.

I don’t really know where to begin. I’m a father and I’m not inhuman, so my first reaction is agony for the parents, but that agony very quickly becomes mixed with blood-boiling rage that threatens to overtake the very compassion that motivates my antipathy toward guns in the first place.

You see, if the elder Cole had shot himself in the chest with his stupid fucking gun, there wouldn’t be much ambiguity in my response. Good riddance, idiot. Paging Dr. Darwin. But he didn’t shoot himself in the chest with his stupid fucking gun, his beloved three-year old son, Holston, did.

He probably thought he was protecting Holston by having that gun handy and he probably held fast to that view in spite of all available evidence to the contrary; in spite of seeing regular news reports about other kids shooting themselves or others with their parents’ guns. And I have no doubt that he thought of himself as a responsible gun owner—just as all gun owners do until the moment they’re not.

So what the fuck am I supposed to feel right now? What the fuck are any of us supposed to feel? Are we supposed to just tweet a frowny face and write it off as yet another unavoidable tragedy? Are we supposed to ignore it as a private misfortune that doesn’t concern us? Are we supposed to allow our agony for a parent to overwhelm our righteous indignation over the pointless death of a three-year old?

You know, here’s the thing: If this guy had left his son in a car on a hot day, I’d feel nothing but grief and sympathy because anyone is capable of making a tragic mistake. This just isn’t that simple. Yes, leaving the gun unsecured and accessible to the child was a tragic mistake, but having a deadly fucking weapon in the home in the first place—an object that has as its sole purpose the tearing apart of flesh and bone—adds a layer of irresponsibility that cannot be brushed aside in light of the mountain of evidence that doing so makes your family less safe, not more safe.

The family has asked for prayers. Well, my “prayer” preceded Holston’s death by gun. It was an appeal not to any higher power, but to the sensibility of my fellow citizens to stop it already with the fucking guns. family photo with highlight_1461782893051_4020733_ver1.0_640_360

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A Golden Ticket From Trumpaloompa

[This post originally appeared one week ago, but bears re-sharing tonight. My apologies if you’ve been dragged here for a second time.]

Wherever you fall on the left-hand side of the aisle, whether you’re happy about Hillary or blue over Bernie, I’d like to take this opportunity to remind everyone of something that we might have lost sight of as we allowed intramural squabbling to temporarily distract us from the prize. It is something glorious that should fill us with the purest form of joy and hope for the future. It is better than puppies and rainbows and yes, it is even better than baby sloths. Here it is:

The Republican Party is collapsing like a prolapsed asshole into a noxious cesspool of its own diseased fecal matter.

You guys…Donald Trump is almost certainly going to be the Republican nominee for President of the United States. I know a contested convention would have been fun times and all, but at the end of the day there is simply nothing more apocalyptically humiliating than finding that you spent the last fifty years building a party whose voters went to primaries and caucuses all over the nation in 2016 and chose Donald J. Trump as their nominee.

hackers-shut-down-donald-trump-election-campaign-website

Donald Trump has emerged, apparently to everyone’s immense surprise, from a decades-long ratcheting up of anti-intellectualism in America—instigated and promulgated almost entirely through the conduit of talk radio and Fox “News” and then steeped in an increasingly segmented social media environment where this antipathy has been amplified and weaponized. The congenitally stupid were expertly exploited while those who should have known better were either successfully dumbed down or asked to turn a blind eye in the name of economic gain.

It all began the moment it became clear that, politically speaking, increasing knowledge was inextricably linked with increasing tolerance, increasing civility, and (most horrifyingly) increasing equality. It is tempting and intuitive to conclude that some unseen cadre of evil, cigar smoking, men that look and sound like Max von Sydow decided that something had to be done to fight this death march toward a faggoty multicultural nightmare, but that is not what happened. What happened is that craven political opportunists subconsciously saw a market to be exploited: the fatally insecure psyche of the straight, aging white man.

No greater market has ever been drilled, tapped, and milked with such efficiency, save perhaps for the American slave trade two hundred years earlier. The angry, old white man’s prostate was expertly finessed by the long, indignation-lubricated finger of right-wing demagoguery until it ejaculated an ocean of selfishness, bigotry, jingoism, and all other manner of bile that inseminated an open wound in the Republican party which subsequently gave birth to the dumpster baby that is Donald J. Trump.

While establishment Republicans are melodramatically scratching their heads and either pretending to be serious or genuinely self-deluded enough to actually be serious when they ask “How did this happen?!” I find myself slack jawed at just how fucking predictable this all was. It’s almost banal. Of course Donald Trump is who Republican voters have chosen. The only surprise is that it took this long for him to (almost) lock it up.

And so here we are. We have been presented with a once-in-a-lifetime chance to hit the reset button. All we have to do is seize this moment and start to paint the map blue again. Anyone who wants to someday elect someone in the mold of Bernie Sanders must play an active role in starting to reverse the following trends:Image

This is it, folks. We will not see another moment like this in our lifetimes. The GOP chickens have come home to shit all over the dining room table during Sunday dinner. I am no longer concerned that Donald Trump will win. He won’t. But it would be nearly as tragic if we failed to take full advantage of this opportunity to…well, to make America great again.

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Gun Violence in the Most Expected of Places

Before I piss everybody off, let me state unequivocally that kids are kids and cannot be held fully responsible for their actions if the dividing line between childhood and adulthood is to mean anything. Kids are victims even when they’re the perpetrators. We should not charge kids as adults because…well, because they’re kids. Kids don’t fail, we fail kids.

In short, the things I’m about to say about a kid (whose name I will not use) are intended solely to point to the failures of the adults around him and society at large.

Have I made myself clear? Good. Proceed.

I’ve been keeping an eye on the horrific mass killing in Ohio. Details have been scarce, so I did a little light digging out of curiosity and what I found was not at all surprising. Here’s the youngest victim’s Facebook banner photo.

IMG_3498

This was a 16-year old kid who, judging from his Facebook page and reports from school officials, was a real gentleman—a real gentleman immersed in the gun culture of the adults around him. (Okay, not only gun culture; there also appears to be some devotion to the Confederate flag which, to me anyway, carries with it a subtextual threat of violence, but let’s leave that alone for now.)

He had over 1,500 Facebook friends. I did some random clicking through on comments, posts, likes, shares, etc. and while there were many, many lovely photos depicting family and friendship and other hobbies (like demolition derby), it was never long before I found a photo that included a gun—guns for sale/trade, guns for hunting, guns just for show, guns for standing one’s ground.

I am emphatically not saying that these people deserved what they got. I’m not saying they weren’t decent people. I didn’t know them. I am saying that gun culture begets violence. I am saying that a 16-year old kid shouldn’t be thinking, let alone posting on social media about standing his ground with a gun.

I am saying that the fact that he was thinking about this was almost certainly a symptom and/or an instigator of the dynamic that led to this tragedy. Given that this has been his cover photo since January 9th, I have to wonder if the adults around him did anything to discourage his brashness on the subject. Or did they think they were protecting him by allowing or encouraging it?

I’ll leave you with two pieces on the correlation between gun ownership and gun-related deaths. The first does not differentiate between suicide and homicide. The second is for those who think that we should discount suicides when talking about this subject. Either way, guns beget gun deaths.

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Against Sanders

It is probably not terribly productive or vital to make further arguments against Bernie Sanders’ candidacy now that he appears to have started looking for the exit, but I’ve just had a revelation about the roots of my frustration with him that feels important enough to get off my chest.

For some time now, I’ve thought of my professed support for Hillary Clinton as a necessary, pragmatic abdication of my deeply progressive tendencies. I haven’t exactly been embarrassed by my choice, but I have felt a constant, nagging tension between the camp it feels like I’m supposed to be in and the camp I’ve decided to be in. And yet I’ve never considered turning back, which is weird because I’m generally very comfortable changing course if I think it’s the right thing to do. I did it once already this election season.

So it stands to reason that there would be something more than just simple bet hedging lurking beneath the surface—I just wasn’t able to put my finger on what it was until today. It came to me after I saw and spent some time thinking about this meme:IMG_3502

It’s true, according to the Washington Post. The Sanders fundraising model essentially starves down ballot Democrats (including many progressives) of the funds they need to get elected or re-elected. (Yes, as the Washington post points out, this is what Obama did with Organizing for America, but that’s sort of the point: how exactly will Sanders fulfill the implicit promise that he’ll get more done than Obama if he’s working from the very model that led to the Republican obstructionism that prevented Obama from getting more done?)

Sanders pretty clearly doesn’t give much of a shit about Democrats up, down or across the ballot. (Just ask John Fetterman.) After all, they’re mostly a bunch of establishment hacks, right? Sure, he can assume that most Democrats would work with him on his signature issues, but first they’d have to get elected and even then they wouldn’t have much power if they remained in the minority or lacked a filibuster-proof majority.

So what I discovered today is that when it gets right down to it, Bernie Sanders irks me not in spite of my deep progressivism but rather because of it. His campaign’s raison d’être rests on the implication that this one election for this one office will solve the very problems that many of us have been ranting and raving about and working to address for years. He writes off geographic and demographic constituencies that have been the backbone and the greatest beneficiaries of Democratic Party policies. He pretends that voter suppression and low-voter turnout among poor people are somehow new issues that haven’t bedeviled liberal candidates for decades. He suggests, in word and in action, that he will realize the progressive vision for America by fiat; just keep those $27 donations rolling in.

In other words, Bernie Sanders trivializes the blood, sweat and tears that have been involved in making slow but crucial progress over time. If only we’d had the balls and the brains to elect someone like him before instead of wasting our time on a bunch of Democratic whores, everything would be just great.

Well, that’s all well and good except that there aren’t many like him because the vast majority of the American electorate is still, at best, just left of center and there aren’t too many places where a Democratic Socialist can get elected [yet]; In fact, there’s quite a few places where they’d get soundly trounced. He’s talking as though he has convinced the nation that far left-wing policies are the way to go when, in fact, he hasn’t even convinced a majority of Democrats.

So in the meantime, those of us who were not prepared to fall on our swords insisting on ideological purity on one or two issues have been working our asses off toward a generally bluer nation, knowing that incremental change for the better is vastly preferable to no change or change in the wrong direction.

You can imagine, then, the frustration someone like me might feel when a candidate—one who ostensibly shares my loftiest ideals, no less—sees fit to rather nonchalantly dismiss the time, effort and money I have devoted over the years as insufficient, if not detrimental to the cause of progress.

Make no mistake, this is what Bernie Sanders has done. This largely explains why so many of his superfans are young and/or newly interested in politics—they have no track record of activism or even peripheral attention to politics and thus can’t be offended by the premise of his campaign. They have the blissfully ignorant luxury of being able to judge the rest of us for not joining them on their newly discovered moral high ground.

And so today I’ve crossed over from merely preferring Hillary to actively disliking Bernie Sanders and the movement he represents. In many ways, he is our Trump, exploiting skin-deep, knee-jerk impulses that have no place in the serious project of making real progress.

Fortunately, there is one way to prove me wrong and I hope Bernie’s most ardent supporters will take every opportunity to make me to eat crow. First of all, you have to vote. Vote for Jill Stein if you want, but vote. Failing to vote would only confirm that you are the immature dilettante some of us suspect you of being. Then you have to show up from here on out, regardless of what happens to Bernie. Get involved in other campaigns, vote in every marginally significant little local election, work to change whatever parts of the process you think holds true progressives back, run for office.

Unseat the establishment, which is to say become the new establishment. The establishment exists because someone has to run shit while you’re not paying attention. Pay attention and the next thing you know, you’ll have an establishment candidate of your own.

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New York State of Mindlessness

UnknownIf the Sanders campaign follows through with a strategy even remotely resembling the one laid out by Jeff Weaver on MSNBC tonight, they will be doing so on the coattails of Donald J. Trump. (Before I go on, let me hopefully predict that they won’t do that—that they will, in fact, begin to wind down the campaign tomorrow.)

The openly stated premise of Ted Cruz and John Kasich’s continued presence in the race is that Donald Trump is so uniquely terrible, so patently inconceivable as a general election candidate for the presidency, so cataclysmically embarrassing as the nominee of the Republican Party, that all bets are off—i.e. he must be stopped at any cost. Cruz can only win by “stealing” the nomination at an open convention; Kasich has stayed in despite having a 0% chance of being even the second-place finisher in the delegate count.

Sanders’ campaign is attempting to capitalize not so much on any real schism in the Democratic party (there isn’t one) as on this chaos. They are benefitting from a Trump-induced sense that primaries are all-out warfare where the victor is simply the last man standing, regardless of how he got there.

This of course, is utterly contrary to the arguments Sanders and his supporters were making just weeks ago when they couldn’t stop bitching and whining about superdelegates. Hillary Clinton, of course, has never even needed superdelegates to secure the nomination. Her pledged delegate lead makes them as irrelevant as Sanders wanted them to be.

Oh but wait now he wants them to tip the election to him.

The only way to make that argument is to not-so-subtly insinuate that Hillary Clinton is every bit as horrifying a prospective POTUS as Donald Trump. And that’s where I stop listening because only a very unserious and/or ideologically deranged person would suggest such a thing. This is when you go from being a charmingly idiosyncratic old crank with important things to say to being a delusional, Naderish fishwife with the potential to actively hurt the very people you purport to be fighting for.

This is when a sense of shame should act as the antidote that turns the zombified BernBros back into rational human beings.

I’m not going to waste time making the case that Hillary Clinton is not the Democrats’ Donald Trump. If you can’t see that without squinting hard, you’re well beyond my ability to persuade. If you can see it, now’s the time to get some perspective and start working to prevent the unthinkable.

Continue to support Bernie, by all means. Continue to talk about issues that need to be talked about. But do it with the full knowledge that the race is over and Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee for president and that any elbow grease you put into tearing her down will be an in-kind donation to the Trump campaign.

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Fahrenheit .357

John Ernest Ulmschneider

The Prince George County, Maryland man who shot and killed one firefighter and seriously wounded another was released from custody last night—as well he should have been. He did nothing wrong illegal. He merely exercised his constitutional right to defend himself with a firearm against unknown intruders at his home.

Granted, it appears that the man may have been having medical issues that caused him to be confused about who was entering his home and why, but that could happen to anyone at any time. In this case, the anyone it happened to was a man with a gun and the time it happened was during an attempt by firefighters to help the very man who shot them.

Confusion is all the more likely when police, firefighters and EMS are on the scene for a medical emergency. This is the risk they signed up for when they became first responders  in a country awash in guns. More importantly, this is the risk we subject our first responders to when we, as a nation, steadfastly refuse to do anything to stem the proliferation of guns.

There’s a sick irony in the fact that we select and rigorously train these guys to put their lives on the line to protect us and then we tell civilians to go out there and pick up the slack with little more than a half day seminar on how not to shoot themselves in the face. That’s a recipe for tragedies like the one that happened yesterday.

And that’s why the shooter in this case won’t and shouldn’t be charged with a crime any more than if he’d shot an unarmed teenager looking for a flat screen TV. Nor can we charge a guy who accidentally shoots his girlfriend while cleaning his gun; or a guy who accidentally kills his four-year old. Motive makes no difference here. Someone was trying to get into his home and he didn’t know why. He did what he had to do and, indeed, what he has been encouraged to do by a gun culture run amok.

If his access to weaponry had been limited to, say, a bat or a knife, John Ulmschneider would likely still be alive today. That’s why there will be deafening silence around his death from the corners of the interwebs that would have been the most enraged if he had been killed by a black kid in the hood.

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