“The only way to stop a bad guy with a nerve agent is a good guy with a nerve agent.”

[Occasionally people get my sense of humor. I now have documentation.]

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Joe Biden on guaranteed basic income

As the subject of guaranteed basic income comes up on this site every so often, I wanted to share this brief audio clip from yesterday’s episode of Pod Save America, which featured a lengthy interview with Vice President Joe Biden. In this excerpt, Biden can be heard discussing why, in his opinion, the idea of a guaranteed basic income falls short.

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Trump not only killed the Republican Party, but the Christian right as well

I wanted to write today about the fact that Republicans, having successfully passed a $1 trillion tax cut for America’s most wealthy, are now using the subsequent loss in federal revenue to justify devastating cuts to welfare, Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security, but then two people wrote to me, telling me about how Donald Trump had become a better person since accepting Jesus Christ as his lord and savior, and now I can’t think of much else. And it got me wondering if, when looking objectively at a timeline of everything he’s said and done over the past dozen years or so, I might be able to determine when exactly it was that he became a born-again Christian, and hence a better person… Like it would definitely have to have been after that time in 2005, when he confided to Billy Bush that he liked to “grab” women “by the pussy” without their consent, right? And, one would assume, it would have to have also been after that golf outing in 2006, when Trump, leaving his third wife Melania at home with their newborn baby, decided to have unprotected sex with Stormy Daniels, the star of such adult film classics as “Pussy Sweat” and “Young and Anal.” And, one would assume, it must have also been after that time he decided not to come to the aid of a man whom he thought was dying, or that time he mocked a handicapped reporter. But when? When was it that Jesus Christ came into Donald Trump’s life and he became a paragon of virtue, a real representative of Jesus Christ on earth? Was it before he recently referred to developing countries as “shitholes,” or after?

As for these messages that I received. The first came by way of Twitter, in response to a smartass comment I’d made the day before to Sean Hannity, who, perhaps inspired by the #MeToo movement, or maybe just a desire to deflect attention away from Donald Trump’s sexual escapades, has made it his mission to see to it that Bill Clinton is brought to justice for whatever he might have done 40 years ago. “Donald Trump is a very different person now that he is a Christian,” this self-professed Christian on Twitter said to me, as he attempted to make the case as to why Clinton’s crimes were far more serious than those perpetrated by Donald Trump. The second was an email sent to me through this site, directing me to a letter published a few days ago by a Louisiana newspaper that included the phrase, “It is obvious God changed his heart.”

I know, according to the woman who wrote this letter, it’s “obvious” when this transition took place, and Donald Trump began to walk in the footsteps of the Lord, but, as I’m still not able, based on my brief perusal of the historical record, to see when it happened, I’m turning to Google.

OK, it looks as though, in June of 2016, Family founder James Dobson reported to the world that Donald Trump had just accepted Christ as his personal savior. I would have thought it would have been later, given that Trump was, at that time, still employing violent rhetoric against his political opponents, engaging in pretty intense anti-Muslim race baiting, and working behind the scenes to coordinate with the regime of a murderous dictator to sow discord and subvert our democracy, but maybe that’s all stuff that Jesus would have done. After all, it’s been a while since I read the Bible, and I’m hearing it being said by his followers today that had he been around right now, Jesus would have been pro-gun. SO, who knows, maybe he also would have been in favor of violence and cruelty as long as he felt as though it served the greater good.

I know it’s not much of a silver lining, but I take some satisfaction in knowing that I’ve been proven right about the hollowness of the Christian right. It was always about money and power. It just took Donald Trump to lay everything bare and expose it for what it was all along. It was never anything more than a ponzi scheme run by con men.

Oh, and here’s one last thing, as long as we’re on the subject.

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On the road with my 13 yer old daughter… marching for stricter gun laws in DC, learning about the holocaust, and getting to know one another as adults

In an attempt to further radicalize my 13 year old daughter, I whisked her away on a last-minute road trip to D.C. Friday afternoon so that we could attend the big March for Our Lives demonstration. Having spent much of the past few days behind the wheel, I’m pretty exhausted at the moment, but I wanted to share a few quick thoughts and photos.

1. This was the longest trip Clementine and I have ever been on together, without the rest of the family. I’m not sure how much she enjoyed it, but I wouldn’t trade the experience for the world. While I think, generally speaking, we have a pretty decent relationship, there’s nothing like spending 24 hours trapped in the same small car with one another to bring two people closer together. And I’m incredibly happy that things worked out so that we could do it. We not only had an opportunity talk at length about everything from middle school drama to the current state of American politics, but we were also able to catch up on a few podcasts, listening, among other things, to the Pod Save America interview with the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students who planned the DC march and the Slow Burn episode about Martha Mitchell. [I was surprised to learn both how much Clementine knew about the current gun control movement, and how little she knew about Watergate.] Here we are, post-march, at the Lincoln Memorial. [I’ve been thinking a lot about Lincoln lately, and I’d wanted to visit Ford’s Theater the following morning, on our way out of town, but there weren’t any tickets available.]

[note: As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t cover the eyes of my kids here because I’m ashamed of what they look like. I just decided several years ago that, barring some kind of blogging emergency, I would’t post photos of them here until they were adults. Too many bloggers, I think, cash in on the cuteness of their kids, and I didn’t want to be like that. And, more importantly, given how pervasive surveillance culture is in the world today, I thought they deserved to have at least a few years of something approaching privacy, before being thrust into this increasingly insane world of ours.]

2. For an event planned by students that the NRA has referred to as “violent radicals,” things never felt the least bit out of control during the march. There were no “urban riots.” No windows were smashed. There was just a lot of hugging and crying. As I told Clementine on the subway later that evening, if she’d licked my face, it would have tasted saltier than a country ham. [If you haven’t yet, I’d encourage you to listen to the speakers at the rally, and their absolutely heartbreaking stories of gun violence.] Here’s a photo of Clementine shortly after our arrival on Pennsylvania Avenue Saturday morning.

3. As we got to the march several hours before the event, we decided to jog over to the Hirshhorn and see their Brand New: Art and Commodity in the 1980s exhibition, which, by the way, was really incredible… Here are just a few photos.

[above: Clementine trying to avoid looking directly at Ron Mueck’s “Big Man,” me contemplating Mark Bradford’s “Pickett’s Charge,” and “Untitled” by Barbara Kruger.]

4. I’d written out a sign on the top of a pizza box. It said, “Guillotines Not Guns.” Clementine, however, wouldn’t let me hold it up during the rally. She didn’t mind the implied threat to politicians. It was the fact that I’d written it on a grease-stained pizza box that bothered her. [There were a lot of really great signs at the march, but I didn’t get images of many, as I was worried that, if I took too many photos, my cell phone battery would die, and I wouldn’t be able to direct us back to the metro station so that we could catch a train back to the Maryland suburbs, where we were crashing with my incredibly generous aunt and uncle.]

5. I loved that, with the exception of the performers who sang songs during the March for Our Lives rally, everyone on the stage was a young person. There were no politicians. There were no movie stars. There were just young people who had been touched, in one way of the another, by gun violence. And it wasn’t just kids from Parkland, Florida either. The organizers had the good sense to widen the scope of the event, bringing not only the predominantly white and affluent students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School to the stage, but also numerous students of color from places like Chicago and Los Angeles, driving home the point that kids in disadvantaged areas of our country have been living in fear of gun violence for decades before this current wave of suburban mass shootings brought the subject to the attention of the American press.

6. After the march, Clementine and I… I guess because I felt as though we hadn’t cried nearly enough… walked over to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. While I’d been there before, I’d never been with Clementine, and I felt as though she was finally of an age, having just read Elie Wiesel’s Night, where she could process it. In retrospect, maybe, after hearing all the stories of young people who had lost friends and relatives to gun violence, we should have done something that didn’t require us to contemplate the existence of death camps, but I thought it was important for us to take advantage of the fact that her little brother wasn’t around to discuss what can happen when racism is allowed to flourish, and when people terrified of uncertainty and change are encouraged to look for scapegoats.

7. On the way back home, in hopes of counterbalancing all of the heavy stuff we’d encountered, we stopped in Morgantown, West Virginia, and visited their statue of Don Knotts. [I ask you, what little girl doesn’t love Don Knotts?]

8. After a quick lunch in Morgantown, we were on to Lexington, to visit with my 93 year old grandmother and look through her photo archives over hot chocolate. [I’m not sure what’s happening in this first photo, but it looks to me like my beloved grandmother, thinking that she’d accidentally killed me, is checking to see whether or not I have a pulse.]

9. In addition to spending an afternoon with Mimi Dorothy, the matriarch of our family, Clementine and I were also the guests of honor at a big spaghetti dinner at the home of yet another generous aunt and uncle, who were also kind enough to put us up for the night. Most of my cousins and their kids showed up, as well as my parents, who drove down from northern Kentucky. Many games were played. And many laughs were shared.

I could say more about all of these things, but, like I said at the start of this post, I’m exhausted… One last thing, though. I’m not sure if, in 20 years, Clementine will even remember this little, three-day trip of ours, and the 24 hours or so that we spent in the car together getting to know one another as adults, but I know I’ll always look back with fondness on my memories of hugging her in the middle of a closed-down Pennsylvania Avenue, surrounded by other parents and their kids, and talking with her about how, if anything is going to get fixed in this world, it’s going to be because her generation fought like hell to make it happen.

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Trump, circling the wagons, forces out McMaster, and brings in John “The Mustache of Doom” Bolton, a man who has called for the bombing of North Korea and suggested that Obama was behind the Russian hacking of our election… The end is near.

Six days ago, White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders assured us that Donald Trump had no intention of firing national security adviser H.R. McMaster. Today, however, Trump did exactly that, announcing that the decorated 3-star general had been replaced by the elaborately-mustachioed, draft-dodging, conspiracy theory-espousing war monger John Bolton, a man who, in recent years, has both called for the imprisonment of Hillary Clinton and referred to President Obama as our “biggest threat to national security”. This, I think it’s safe to say, is not something that we… especially of those of us who don’t want to perish in war… should be thrilled about. [Bolton not only championed the disastrous Iraq War, but, in recent years, has called for bombing both Iran and North Korea.]

From Trump’s perspective, though, it makes perfect sense. Not only is Bolton on good terms with Putin, whom he’s credited with bringing “a new era of freedom” to Russia, but he’s said publicly that he disagrees with our intelligence community’s assessment that Russia interfered in our 2016 election in order to both help Trump, and hurt Clinton. “The safest conclusion based on currently available public information is that Russia did not intend to advantage or disadvantage any particular candidate,” Bolton is quoted as having said just last month, in spite of the copious evidence to the contrary. But that’s not the worst of it. Bolton has also speculated in the past that the Russian election hacks were “false flag” operations run out of the Obama White House, although he’s since been forced to walk that back a bit.

Oh, and I don’t think we’ve discussed it here yet, but this wasn’t the only significant staff change at the White House this week. Trump also brought on attorney Joe diGenova, who’s also known to spout conspiracy theories about deep state plots orchestrated against our beloved President by the likes of Clinton, Obama and former FBI Director James Comey… Here’s Congressman Adam Schiff of California with more.

Heaven help us, indeed.

For what it’s worth, none of this surprises me. We all knew, as the Mueller investigation entered its final stages, Trump would circle the wagons in an attempt to save himself, or at least put off the inevitable. And both the far right and the Russians have been trying to get McMaster out of the White House since he first got the job. One just wonders what else might be in store, now that the likes of McMaster and Hicks have left, leaving our increasingly isolated “stable genius” of a president in the company of fellow conspiracy theorists. The question is, can we survive this next chapter, especially if Trump decides, with Bolton’s help, to take us to war.

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