Thank you. Thank you to everyone around the country and around the world who poured into the streets today and sent a clear message that we will not go quietly.
Dear Mr. President,
Let me begin by saying the two words you deserve to hear cross the lips of every American citizen, whether they know it or not:
Thank you for the tireless work you have done and the many sacrifices you have made on behalf of our country.
Thank you for the dignity, grace, class and gravitas with which you have held our nation’s highest office.
Thank you for not eschewing facts, science, logic, reason, and your own superior intellect in order to appeal to the lowest common denominator.
Thank you for your willingness and ability to endure the disgusting hatred and racism that throughout your presidency have been directed at you, at our amazing First Lady, and at your beautiful family as a whole. The most naive among us — myself included — were hopeful your historic election was a sign that the racial divides in our country had become less pervasive than is actually the case. Your presidency has been, and forever shall remain, a major step toward that goal, but many of us underestimated just how loud, ugly, desperate and energized the filth among us would become when faced with the reality of the more equal, more inclusive, more compassionate society that your presidency has represented.
The pride and patriotism I felt when you were elected, and again on the day you took office, remain unmatched. Other than my time in uniform, I have never been more proud to be an American than I was when you became my president.
And then, I failed you.
I was an outspoken supporter during both of your presidential runs, and I contributed what little cash I could here and there throughout your campaigns. Once you were in office, however, my position could best be summed up as: “He’s got this.”
“He’s got this” was a cop out. “He’s got this” was my epic failure to be the citizen you deserved. “He’s got this” earned us the predicament in which we now find ourselves.
I have, in recent years, heard some of my fellow progressives complain that much of the change you so sincerely and hopefully promised during your first presidential campaign has not been realized, and that this failure is yours. It is not. It is mine. It is ours … the millions of us who voted for you, who placed upon you the expectation that you would fight for us … and who then failed to fight alongside you.
When then-Speaker of the House John Boehner (whose name you so kindly pretended should be pronounced “Bay-ner”) said of your political agenda, “We’re going to do everything — and I mean everything — we can do to kill it, stop it, slow it down, whatever we can” … I was furious. When then-Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said that “the single most important thing” he and his shamefully selfish Republican party wanted to achieve was not to help the American people, but to instead make sure you were “a one-term president,” I was disgusted.
But also? I was busy. I had a job and a wife and two little kids and, hey, “He’s got this.” Besides, what could I do, really?
For seven of the eight years during which you have been our president, I have lived in Pennsylvania. Not until this month have I known the names of both of my U.S. senators, nor that of my House Rep. Not once during your presidency did I contact their offices. Not once did I do much more than simply cast a vote for you and then say “He’s got this.”
Mr. President, please accept my apology for not doing more to support you during your time in office. You gave me an opportunity to make the most of your presidency, and I wasted it.
As I watched you speak in Chicago the other night, I was filled with emotion. I, of course, was reminded of that November night when you strode onto a similar stage after winning the presidency in what can legitimately be described as a landslide. The emotions that flooded me then were pride and hope and happiness. The emotions that flooded me this time were gratitude and regret and sorrow. Gratitude for all you’ve done for us. Regret for not doing more in my role as a citizen when you needed me most, and for not better appreciating just how lucky we were to have you. Sorrow for how horribly wrong things have gone.
And yet, despite the fact that I and so many others have failed to be the citizens you deserved, you still spoke to us with the same fire and conviction and hopeful optimism that define you. You still inspired me. You still, at the end of eight often-frustrating years in the White House, believe that we who fell so woefully short of our commitment to you are capable of making right that which we’ve allowed to go so wrong.
Thank you for everything. My last ask is the same as my first. I'm asking you to believe—not in my ability to create change, but in yours.
— President Obama (@POTUS) January 11, 2017
Mr. President, thank you for not losing faith in me, despite my having given you every reason to do so. Thank you for continuing to believe that I can be the citizen you deserved while in office.
This is a picture of a letter I received last week from my Republican congressional representative. It is his response to my inquiry regarding the Republicans’ secret vote for a planned amendment to gut the Office of Congressional Ethics (which, I was pleasantly surprised to learn, he voted against). In the wake of that secret vote, and on the heels of last November’s disastrous election outcome, I and others like me finally found our voices. We flooded our representatives’ phone lines and inboxes with our fury and discontent … and the Republicans were forced to back down.
That small victory has given me and others a taste of what we can accomplish when we organize and engage in the political process. That small victory is an example of what you had hoped we’d do while you were our president. I apologize for not doing it sooner.
You deserved to go out on a much higher note than the one now playing, and I believe it is more our fault than yours. And for that, I am sorry.
Mr. President, thank you again for all you’ve done. Now it’s our turn.
We’ve got this.
Way to go, Red States! You sure showed us, huh? Wow. Rarely has such an epic act of unbridled stupidity, ignorance, selfishness, fear and hatred been carried out on such a massive scale. Well played!
Why, I haven’t seen anything like this since … well, ever, really … but the prize for second place goes to:
Hey, look! Another awful Republican candidate who once lost the popular vote but still won the presidency thanks to you backward-assed Red States! (In related news, I’m pretty sure it’s time for that whole “electoral college” thing to fuck right off, m’kay?)
Now, if, back in those days, I had just taken a big sip of something but had not yet swallowed, and you had chosen at that very moment to tell me that I one day would say “The incoming president almost makes me miss George W. Bush,” I’d have done a spit take that would have left you soaked from head to toe in whatever it was I was drinking, plus my saliva, all of which I would have firmly believed you deserved to be covered in for saying something so patently offensive and ludicrous.
And yet … here we are! Sorry for spitting all over you! I just had no idea it could actually get worse.
You see, the thing about Dubya was that he simply … well, let’s just say it: Dubya was a bit dim … and massively under qualified for the gig … and easily manipulated by the Cheneys and Rumsfelds and Wolfowitzs around him. And, yes, that Iraq War thing? That’s still the biggest fuck-up of my lifetime. Can’t really let him off the hook for that one. But at least he wasn’t a vengeful, spiteful, hot-headed, bad-tempered, narcissistic, ego-maniacal lunatic and pathological liar whose entire skill set consisted of self-promotion and self-enrichment at the expense of everything and everyone around him … which, thanks to the combined efforts of a gullible and/or hateful electorate, now means “planet earth.” Nice going, assholes.
And so, on behalf of all us “elitists” — you know, the reasonable, rational, fact-loving, semi-well-informed, relatively clearheaded grownups who overwhelmingly voted for the other candidate — I’d just like to thank you Trump voters for choosing to express your frustration with The Way Things Are by playing Russian Roulette with our collective future. That was a magnificent display of the critical-thinking skills you so clearly lack.
Unfortunately, instead of the immediate “click” or “boom” feedback of a traditional round of Russian Roulette, we’ll have to wait days, weeks, months, and, Satan willing, quite probably years to find out just how badly you’ve fucked us all … but, based on the behavior thus far of our perpetually tantrumming President-elect, I’d say the smart money is on “Oh-so badly.”
All of which is just my way of saying: “Hi! Welcome to my new website!”
I decided to launch ScratchPolitics.com and its accompanying Twitter account as a place to house the politically charged 140-character outbursts and long-winded rants that, since election night, seem to have become my raison d’être. This is where I will be venting my outrage, frustration and incredulity for the duration of Donald Trump’s sure-to-be-horrifying presidency, which I am hopeful will not actually last four years … a sentiment with which I’m sure even Trump himself would agree … because, let’s face it: not even he thought he had an actual chance of getting enough morons to vote for him. Yes, one minute, he’s just trying to up his Q-rating in order to cut a better post-election TV deal, and the next minute, he’s all, “I what? I won? I’m the president?? Oh, shit.” Just imagine his surprise!
I’m not here to change minds; I’m here for catharsis. If I don’t write about this horror show, my head will explode. (Probably, my head will explode anyway, but, hey, at least I’ll get to do some writing first.) But if, in the process, I can add my voice to the collective efforts of those who refuse to normalize this very abnormal situation, then I am more than happy to do so.
Buckle up, everyone. Things are getting really, really weird … and really, really scary.
Good luck to us all.
Wow. Waaaaahhhhhow. The dude who wrote that previous post was pissed, huh? Daaaaaamn.
Look, what I wrote in that previous post is what spilled out of me in the immediate aftermath of Tuesday’s election, at a time when I was in, shall we say, a state of heightened emotions … but the main thrust of my words remains: Whether or not Donald Trump and/or the bulk of those people who voted for him intended for the forces of hate and intolerance to interpret his electoral victory as an endorsement of their own sick, twisted agendas, those forces — many of whom heretofore at least had the decency to keep their disgusting views on the down-low — now feel energized, emboldened and fully entitled to make life hell for anyone who does not look and think like them.
Since publishing that post yesterday, I’ve re-read it a number of times … and, earlier today, I was toying with the idea of taking it down … or at least toning it down. And in the middle of contemplating that approach, I had this unexpected exchange with a close friend from Massachusetts:
So, um, yeah … I stand by what I wrote yesterday.
I understand why so many previously sane people made the insane decision to vote for Trump … and yet, despite understanding why, I do not understand how they could vote for Trump … for all of the reasons I laid out in my previously posted rant.
I know a lot of good and decent people voted for Trump … and I can only assume that those good and decent people simply failed to recognize just how catastrophic their decision would be for others, if not for themselves … and that is what I can not abide. I can not abide what I believe amounts to sheer selfishness. Voting for Donald Trump was, at best, a very selfish thing to do. And I abhor selfishness … especially when that selfishness hurts others.
I keep reminding myself that there very well may never have been a President Obama if not for the disastrous presidency of George W. Bush. Whether or not it was worth the cost is debatable … and the cost we are about to pay for a Trump presidency seems unfathomable … but I believe that, whatever the final tally, the payoff will be another historic victory of our own next time around. (Can you say “President Warren”? Might as well start practicing. If nothing else, it feels a hell of a lot better than saying “President Trump.”)
These are dark times … and we almost surely are about to experience firsthand that whole “it’s going to get worse before it gets better” thing … but I believe it eventually will get better … as long as enough of us are willing to make it so. In the meantime, as I said yesterday: Let’s all look out for each other, m’kay? Yes, things suck right now … but we are not alone. In fact, we are the majority. Let’s not hesitate to act like it, and let’s not hesitate to wield that power when next we are presented wth the opportunity to do so.
You know that pivotal scene in “The Matrix” when a hairless Neo wakes up in a gel-filled pod and realizes that, up until that moment, he had absolutely no idea just how awful was the world around him, and just how misguided was he about the truth of his own existence? Yeah, that’s me, right now … minus the “hairless” part. (You’re welcome for that visual.)
I apologize in advance if none of the words I am about to type make a shred of sense, but I am deliriously sleep-deprived and deeply rattled by the recent discovery that I now exist in an alternate universe where an angry mob of millions just handed the nuclear codes to an abhorrent, vile, vulgar, uninformed, ill-tempered, bad-humored, intellectually challenged, racist, sexist, misogynistic, xenophobic, greedy, selfish, thin-skinned, petulant, pathetic little bully man-child because “Fuck you, you liberal-elites and all your reasonable, logical, tolerant, fact-based book-learnin’!”
We just witnessed a massive road-rage fit channeled into the ballot box. Progress and tolerance innocently sped in front of the Archie Bunkers of the electorate, and they responded by running us off the road, taking a crowbar out of their trunk and smashing our windshield … without any fucking concept of the price that they themselves (and the people they love) will now have to pay for their shortsighted, poorly thought-out temper tantrum.
Listen, I admit it: I completely, thoroughly, 100% underestimated Trump’s chances. In no way, shape or form did I think he stood a snowball’s chance in hell of winning the presidency … so much so that I sent to bed on election night my 11-year-old daughter (who struggles with anxiety and had taken to saying “I’m afraid” when considering the possibility of a President Trump) with a virtual GUARANTEE that he had absolutely NO CHANCE of winning.
I am the guy who not only never, ever, ever counts a chicken before it hatches, but who also forbids anyone in my presence from trying to convince me that the egg I’m holding — the one with the beak sticking out of it, making peeping sounds, and clocking in at [proper body temperature of poultry] degrees — is sure to bear a chicken … and yet I strode about the house Tuesday night in full confidence that the Blue Team would beat the Red Team. So, yes, I am shocked by the outcome.
But more than shocked, what I truly am is saddened by the outcome. Disheartened. And, at the risk of sounding way too fucking impressed with myself, I have realized that my sadness is not so much about Trump becoming the president, but about how his (non-majority, electoral-college-based) victory will be interpreted by the most unsavory of those who voted for him, and how that interpretation will result in very bad things for very many people for a very long time.
Let’s face facts: I am a 46-year-old white male who lives in an affluent Philadelphia suburb whose residents are 98% white and whose median income is roughly $130,000 per year. If I completely insulated myself from the news media for the next four years, my life, on a strictly personal, day-to-day basis, will not, in all probability, look significantly different under a President Trump. So why am I so deeply, profoundly upset about this election? Because the man who won it did so by playing to the worst parts of human nature. He did so by stoking the fires of sexism and racism and intolerance. He pitched a product based in no small part on fear and hatred. And, sadly, enough people bought it.
I feel confident in saying that more racists, more bigots, more sexists, more homophobes, more misogynists, more xenophobes and, in general, more profoundly misguided and stunningly ill-informed ignoramuses voted for Trump than for Clinton. And while many of those people’s own vile, hateful, backward-assed agendas aren’t necessarily anything that Donald Trump would truly champion or endorse (maybe … who knows?), those misguided, ill-informed, racist, sexist, homophobic, bigoted ignoramuses will interpret his victory as the country’s stamp of approval on their vile, hateful, backward-assed agendas … and it will embolden those people to crank up the volume and openly spew their hateful, hurtful views through what they believe is a bullhorn of legitimacy.
Don’t believe me? Think I’m exaggerating? I’m not.
See this despicable, mouth-breathing fuckhead with the pro-Hitler book on the shelf behind him?
He was on NPR today expressing his delight over Trump’s victory, proudly spewing his racist views, and claiming that Trump’s election should be seen as a clear mandate for the U.S. to purge itself of minorities and become a “white, Christian” country. You can click here to listen for yourself. It’s absolutely fucking heinous … and instead of seeing himself as a put-upon fringe lunatic to whom most people won’t listen, he now believes he and his racist views are a politically legitimized truth upon which America must now act.
There are Facebook posts popping up left and right demonstrating the uptick in blatant, unabashed racism:
I also saw plenty of equally disturbing descriptions of incidents experienced by women who were subjected to sexual assaults in the name of Donald Trump … but, you know, I can only download and post so much of this shit before it starts to make me want to curl up in the fetal position and cry, so … enough already. (But, hey, if you need more, you can find a whole website full of similar such things here: WhyWeAreAfraid.com.)
Now, do I believe that everyone who voted for Trump is a sexist, racist, bigoted, homophobic, hate-mongering, intolerant rube? Absolutely not. In fact, in a disturbing admission of just how close to home this touches for me, here is my own father’s post-election Facebook status:
My father is a retired, blue-collar, high-school educated, former union member, Vietnam-era Navy veteran, one generation removed from Syrian/Lebanese immigrants, who over and over again has been duped into voting against his own best interests. Do I think my father voted for Trump with evil intent? No, I do not. I think he is a decent (but horrifically misguided) person. I also think he, like many of those who cast votes for Donald Trump, is simply a frustrated, working-class American who (rightly) believes that the political system in this country is broken and that the politicians in Washington no longer represent him and other average Americans. But I also think that, regardless of his justified discontent, if he truly was concerned about his three granddaughters … and his daughter … and his three nieces … and his wife … and his daughter-in-law … he probably shouldn’t have voted for the “grab-her-by-the-pussy,” overturn-Roe-v.-Wade guy.
Cleaning house is one thing … but burning the house down while you and everyone else are still standing in it is a pretty fucking moronic way to solve the problem … and I believe that all of the decent, understandably frustrated Americans who decided to do so anyway are as equally to blame for the mess they’ve unleashed upon all of us (and themselves) as are the sick, hateful fucks who voted for Trump because they believe he shares their vomit-inducing values. (And why shouldn’t they think that? He gave them every reason to do so.)
Those truly despicable citizens who voted for Trump as a way to legitimize their hate are getting exactly what they wanted … for now. To them, I say, “Enjoy this brief taste of quasi-victory, you cowardly, disgusting little lowlifes … because, in actuality, this is nothing more than an enormous outing ceremony that allows us to identify exactly who and what we’re fighting against. So thank you for that.”
To those who helped the former group by casting a protest vote that I believe many of you will live to regret, I say, “Fuck you very much, you shortsighted douche nozzles.”
The good news is: Trump’s presidency will be an impotent thing, because he did not win the popular vote. We, the majority, are still a progressive, multicolored, multicultural, open-minded, kind, compassionate, inclusive, forward-thinking group that will right the ship during the midterm elections in 2018 and the presidential election in 2020. Until then, let’s all look out for each other.
If this guy …
and this guy …
could make a baby, that baby would grow up to be this guy:
Yesterday, one week to the day after a madman walked into an elementary school with a military-style assault rifle that he used to fire into the bodies of 20 children and six adults a torrent of .223-caliber bullets fed to his weapon by a high-capacity magazine that allowed him to cause an unimaginable amount of death and carnage before ever needing to reload, National Rifle Association Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre — the man who more than any other has made it possible for mass murderers to arm themselves with military-style assault rifles and high-capacity magazines — went on national television and blamed the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre on everyone … and everything … EXCEPT HIMSELF, GUNS AND THE GUN INDUSTRY THAT LINES HIS POCKETS.
The last time I saw balls that big, they were rolling down a tunnel behind Indiana Jones.
I would go on and further outline for you Mr. LaPierre’s unrivaled douchebaggery, but my new man crush, Lawrence O’Donnell, already did a positively stellar job of that during last night’s episode of his MSNBC program, “The Last Word.” You can see Mr. LaPierre get completely pwned in this video:
And that is why you, Mr. LaPierre, are this year’s DOUCHEBAG … OF … THE YEAR!!!!
Congratulations! You can pick up your trophy at the front desk … IN HELL*.
*No, I don’t actually believe in Hell or a vengeful, omnipotent God … but I like to pretend that both exist when I encounter scumbags like Wayne LaPierre.
We took the kids to the mall this past weekend for our annual family photo with Santa and, while standing in line, I saw hanging on an adjacent ornament vendor’s rack the patently offensive item shown above. (And I’m more than just a little ashamed to say that I didn’t, in that moment, have the presence of mind to gather them all up and hand them to the vendor while suggesting that he maybe throw them away.)
“But Jon, that’s obviously for hunting enthusiasts. Lighten up.”
Lighten up? Really? You want me to lighten up? Because here’s the thing: Fuck you. I’m all out of “Lighten up.”
And, yes, you’re right: That ornament obviously was created for hunting enthusiasts … but I’m certain — or, at least, I’d like to believe — that there are a number of hunting enthusiasts who would look at that ornament and say “Wow. Only a spectacular asshole would buy that.”
I’m also sure, however, that there are a number of hunting enthusiasts who would look at that ornament and say “Dadgum, I gotta get me one o’ them thar kick-ass orny-ments!” I would further venture to guess that the hunting enthusiasts who fall into this latter category are members of the gun-nut faction that rants and raves about an individual’s right to have unfettered access to every kind of firearm known to mankind.
“Yes, but Jon, the Second Amendment says—”
Fuck you and your Second Amendment, asshole. For starters, the Second Amendment was written in a day and age when the only guns available were single-shot muskets that took at least 15 seconds to reload.
Also, P.S.? The Second Amendment, which all you fucking gun nuts quote as being “The right to bear arms shall not be infringed”? That’s only part of the sentence, douchebags. Here’s what the Second Amendment ACTUALLY says:
A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”
News flash: A “well regulated militia” doesn’t mean “every flaming asshole with insecure feelings about his penis” or “every rich divorcee who thinks it would be fun to buy a military-grade assault rifle and join the local target club” … and it most certainly doesn’t mean people like this douche canoe:
All of that changed, however, when in 2008 the conservative majority of the Supreme Court decided that, despite two centuries’ worth of legal rulings to the contrary, the Second Amendment actually does bestow upon individual citizens the right of unfettered gun ownership. The majority opinion in the 5-4 Supreme Court ruling was written by Justice Antonin Scalia. Here’s a 2007 picture of Scalia:
He’s the guy on the left … on the cover of ‘Gun Week’ magazine. The picture accompanied a feature that The Huffington Post described as follows:
[An] article celebrating the ambassadorship bestowed on Scalia by the World Forum on the Future of Sport Shooting Activities (WFSA), an international organization comprised primarily of gunmakers and pro-gun organizations (including the National Rifle Association and the Second Amendment Foundation) from around the world.
So, in other words, the man who in 2008 was largely responsible for striking down 220-plus-years’ worth of legal precedent in which court after court ruled that the Second Amendment doesn’t mean everyone gets to have their own fucking arsenal … was honored in 2007 as an ambassador of the gun industry.
Am I the only one who thinks this is batshit crazy?
And it is against this backdrop that nightmares like Aurora and Newtown are taking place.
All of which is to say: I’m so upset about what happened last Friday that I don’t know what to do with myself. Ranting about the out-of-control gun culture in this country seems like as good a place to start as any. Asking you to add your name to this petition seems like another. (Yes, you have to go through the inconvenience of creating an account on the White House’s website. Suck it up. If you have time to create a Facebook account and a Twitter account and a Flickr account and a Pinterest account and an Instagram account so that you can clutter up the Internet with pictures of your cat, you have time for this. Hell, I know you have time for it by virtue of the fact that you’re sitting here reading my dumb blog.)
This is my third holiday season at my current workplace, and today was the third time I’ve been on hand for an annual holiday performance by a kindergarten class from a private school owned and operated by my employer. It was pretty similar to the performances I’d seen the previous two times … with the one major difference being that it was the first performance during which my eyes kept filling with tears as I watched the 20-or-so beautiful, innocent, happy little kids sing their hearts out and tried to push from my mind the horrific thoughts of last Friday that keep flooding my brain every time I see a little kid … especially my own.
We have a responsibility to each other as a society to do something about our out-of-control gun culture. When you live in a country where those beautiful, innocent, happy little kids are getting gunned down by some monster toting a military-grade assault rifle, you can rest assured that YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG.
Big ups to Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank for his piece today titled “In the House, Suddenly Righteous Republicans.” A six-paragraph excerpt follows. Hang in there; there’s a payoff:
Thirty-one-year-old Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) is not a large man, standing perhaps 5 feet 3 inches tall in thick soles. But he packed a whole lot of chutzpah when he walked into the House TV gallery yesterday to demand that the new Democratic majority give the new Republican minority all the rights that Republicans had denied Democrats for years.
“The bill we offer today, the minority bill of rights, is crafted based on the exact text that then-Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi submitted in 2004 to then-Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert,” declared McHenry, with 10 Republican colleagues arrayed around him. “We’re submitting this minority bill of rights, which will ensure that all sides are protected, that fairness and openness is in fact granted by the new majority.”
Omitted from McHenry’s plea for fairness was the fact that the GOP had ignored Pelosi’s 2004 request — while routinely engaging in the procedural maneuvers that her plan would have corrected. Was the gentleman from North Carolina asking Democrats to do as he says, not as he did?
“Look, I’m a junior member,” young McHenry protested. “I’m not beholden to what former congresses did.”
Anne Kornblut of the New York Times asked McHenry if his complaint might come across as whining.
“I’m not whining,” he whined.
After you finish laughing, you can read the rest here.
SCENE: Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2006, lunchtime, kitchen table.
“Daddy, why were you dancing and clapping?”
“Well, remember yesterday when you, me and Mommy went to vote?”
“Well, the people who we voted for, and the people who we were hoping other people would vote for, got the most votes.”
“… [blink] … ”
“Because the good guys won and the bad guys lost, pal.”
“All right! High-five, Daddy!”
It is election day. The future of our country hangs in the balance. The outcome will determine which party holds sway in Congress … and, therefore, the direction the nation will take during the next few years.
I subscribe to CNN.com’s email alerts, which they send out when an important news story breaks. They are surprisingly restrained in their use of these alerts; many days often pass without a single one arriving in my inbox. In fact, they have so far dispatched only one such alert on this momentous day. It reads as follows:
Britney Spears files for divorce from her husband Kevin Federline, citing irreconcilable differences.
Consider this Exhibit A in a presentation I’m working on titled “Why We’re All Completely Fucked.”