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Ending The Moment of Silence: On Guns, Grief, and Changing the Subject

December 20, 2012

Let’s begin with a moment of silence for those who died and those were wounded in the shooting.

I’m kidding, kind of.  Unless you are Sarah Palin or think putting tea bags on your ears is a political statement, you probably didn’t read this out loud, so it was already a moment of silence.

I want to say something about how we now grieve.  President Obama called for a moment of “silence and reflection.”  That feels right.  It’s beyond politics.  No matter how degraded we’ve become in our public discourse, you couldn’t imagine Rush Limbaugh countering by calling for a moment of “noise and shallowness”, at least not in so many words.  (A little off topic, but how can Rush Limbaugh love twinkies and oxycontin and be against other people’s health care? The whole reason that walking side of bacon exists is because Pfizer has a tube shoved up his ass, probably taking up half of their resources.  If you want to cut the cost of healthcare, you should let Rush Limbaugh die.  And Rush, as ever, if you are reading this, bone a lawnmower, you gravy-soaked mouth-breather.  It’s a good thing your mother didn’t love you or else your first affection would be from a whore.)

Anyway, I was talking about civility in our public discourse.  I’m all for it.  And there’s something very human and touching about a moment of silence.  But tea party to key party, we are all shocked by what happened to our neighbors to the west.

Wait a second, did I just say “to the west”?  I did because I wrote the above five months ago after the Batman shootings in Aurora, Colorado.  I meant to write a meditation on grief, on why so many people I love felt a special kinship with the victims at the theater that they wouldn’t have felt if the shootings had happened at, say, a football game.  Above all, I wanted to say that the only patriotic move President Obama could do was to exploit the tragedy to win the 2012 election.  It was, I assume, going to be brilliant.  (As an aside, I like summarizing articles I didn’t write.  It’s easier than writing them.)

So why didn’t I finish it? Because life goes on.  I moved across state lines and started a new job.  Then the election was in full swing.  Look, it’s impossible to continuously feel grief for strangers.  After a while, it moved to the back of my mind, the way these things do.  I still feel bad for Chandra Levy, but my family didn’t mention her in our Thanksgiving prayers.

Why say this? I seriously doubt that my editorializing could have stopped more than half of the shootings.  But what I’m interested in is the nature of how we express our grief.  This goes back to our moment of silence.

TS Eliot ends “The Waste Land” with a chant he translates to “the peace that transcends understanding. “   The moment of silence approaches that.  We bury our dead in awe of the happening.  Reasons, explanations, and actions follow, but for now we accept the world rather than try to explain it.

But it’s just a fucking moment.

This is the reality we’re missing in our national discourse.  The moment of silence has taken over our conversation.  “Surely, we can’t talk about this when people are still in the hospital,” say the people with no connection to the victims who are trying to buy time.  And to be clear, when President Obama says “We must never let this happen again”, he is continuing the moment of silence.  Don’t say what we already know—repeating yourself accomplishes nothing but self indulgence (says the man who started this essay by repeating something he wrote half a year ago).

Five moths ago, we had a moment of silence.  Then we extended it for fear of offending the dead.  And now—as a tertiary result of our silence—children have been murdered.  Because what has changed from Aurora to now that could have conceivably stopped this shooting?  What has changed from the Gabby Giffords shooting?  What has changed from Columbine?

Perhaps this is a better question: What practical good have assault rifles done?  We know the evil they can do, but tell us the good they have done?

The silence you hear to that question is not an accident.  The NRA eludes responsibility because we let them run out the clock.  “To speak now is disrespectful,” they say.  And soon you’re talking about the fiscal cliff, about Romney’s tax returns, about Christmas, about the UK/UL Game.  Then we say “Wasn’t there a shooting in Oregon, or Hendersonville, or I think it was Vermont?”

Now is the time to talk about gun control.  Not because of Sandy Hook, but because of the next one.  The time is before, not after, a shooting.  Don’t worry about the Newtown shooting, worry about the Lexington shooting that will happen next March—what did you do to prevent it?  If you’re still saying it’s a matter of personal freedom as you’re picturing your kids hiding in their lockers to dodge gunfire, then I don’t know what to say except, “Senator Paul, I didn’t vote for you, but I respect your office”.  But know there will be more.  The shooters are getting smarter and more strategic.  Let’s call this by its proper name: terrorism.  And let’s deal with terrorism in the exact opposite way that Ronald Reagan did—let’s stop arming them.

So yes, let’s start with an assault rifle ban.  You could go farther than this, but that is the minimum.  Let me state my biases on this: I’ve never fired a gun.  Guns never appealed to me, but then again NBA basketball and college football appeal to me, and a lot of my friends think those are ridiculous indulgences, so I get it.

So let’s talk about it.  (Let me say that I have great friends and family who call themselves Libertarian and I genuinely love them, while thinking their opinion is fucking idiotic, so I want to represent their POV as honestly as I can.)   The libertarian argument, as I understand it, breaks up into the following five points.

1. Do we trust the government to take our guns from us?

Take our guns?  Who? Seriously who said that?  No one is going into your house and taking what you’ve already bought.  When McDonalds discontinues the McRib or the Shamrock Shake, you don’t think they are going after your weirdly-named Irish Heart Attack Foods, do you? What’s yours is yours.  No one is taking your guns.  What I’m talking about is discontinuing a certain type of weapon that serves no purpose except to kill multiple people in very little time.  That’s different than entering your house and seizing all of your guns.

2. It’s a matter of mental health, not gun control

This is kind of true and very beside the point.  Sure, we want to take care of the mentally ill. (Even if Republicans don’t want to take care of the physically ill).  What does that have to do with guns?  It also doesn’t help that the NRA will still block mental testing for people buying assault weapons.  So it’s not about guns, it’s about mental illness, and it’s our job to arm the sane and insane alike.  Also, have you noticed how no one says, “It would be wrong to exploit this tragedy to talk about mental illness.”  It’s only guns we can’t talk about.  Because of respect for families. Obviously.

3. It’s not a matter of need; it’s a matter of want.

This one is true.  If people want them, and the market can maintain them, then we have the right to have them.  Gun owners don’t have to justify themselves to the government for what they want.  Fair enough.  But again, when there is tangible harm done by assault weapons and—as far as I can tell—absolutely zero positive benefit, then why should they be legal?  When you say words like “rights” or “liberty” you have to understand those are abstract.  Dead children in Connecticut are concrete.  Does it infringe on your rights that you’re not able to own a SCUD missile or a grenade launcher?  Some things are made illegal for the greater community’s safety.  Aren’t assault weapons demonstrably dangerous enough to be labeled as such?

4. If everyone had assault rifles then it wouldn’t have happened.

Seriously? Fuck you.

4. If everyone had assault rifles then it wouldn’t have happened

Oh, you are being serious?  Who is that supposed to dissuade from shooting up a school?  The shooters who always kill themselves?  Your idea is to introduce assault weapons to schools, where people can’t hold their liquor, are constantly bullying each other, and think suicide is a cool phase you go through?  You don’t see any problems with that?  Is my increasingly condescending string of questions making my answer obvious enough?  It’s not?  My answer is “Seriously? Fuck you.”

5. It’s crass to use this tragedy for your political advantage

Okay, so we’re back to the moment of silence.  Just know that the people who say “we can’t talk politics during this time” fear the politics of this time. This is a winning issue for liberals.  Assault rifles have never been less popular.  If a school shooter attacked an elementary school, and a crack-shot teacher shot the gun from his hand and apprehended him, and suddenly assault weapons were insanely popular, would the NRA say “Now’s not the time for politics.”  The NRA isn’t stupid: they know what side public opinion is on, and they’re the ones clamoring to change the subject. Do it for politics or do it to save children: it’s still the right thing to do.

The moment of silence is over, and with ever day that passes we become less likely to do anything of substance.  Except, of course, waiting for the next one.  We’re a pretty practiced nation of weepers.  We’ve been told it’s the only valid response.  But we all know that’s a lie—let’s be both brave and impolite enough to remind people of that.

I’ll end with two quick observations. One: You know those commercials that they run during basketball games where there’s this yuppie couple who surprise each other with cars for Christmas.  And the narrator is like “You dumbass, why didn’t you just buy her a car? That will make her happy.” And we’re supposed to be like “Of course! Why didn’t I think of that? I forgot that people like new cars.  Why didn’t I just buy everyone a car?”  Those used to drive me up a fucking wall.  In fact, I thought they were the worst part of the Christmas season.  Then the school shooting happened.  I offer that as a reminder to keep perspective this year.

Secondly: On Saturday, the day after the shooting, my cousin collapsed of a heart attack while jogging.  The first responder who saved my cousin’s life was Adam Lanza’s uncle (His mother’s brother).  It’s a strange and almost comforting feeling to know that someone associated with the most hated man in America can save your family member’s life.  I offer that as a reminder that life is strange, and that’s as it should be.



The End of Conservatism (is a wildly misleading headline for this, my more tempered reaction to the 2012 election)

November 9, 2012


My first point is my favorite: we kicked the shit out of the Republicans.  Actually, that felt so good that I’m going to make that point again using the exact same language. We kicked the shit out the Republicans.  Still feels good, so I’ll try it a little differently now.  See that big pile of shit on the floor?  That used to be in a Republican, but my liberal friends and I ganged up and kicked him repeatedly until the pain became overwhelming, and in a moment so humiliating and emotionally crippling that it will undoubtedly haunt him for the remainder of his life, he voided his bowels.  Take that, Injustice! (Okay, that one was too far.  If it helps, don’t imagine the Republican as weak or George Will-like, but stout and strong like Karl Rove or Abraham Lincoln).

I’m digressing.  A lot of people have said that this victory feels more hollow than the last one, now that we know that the nation can’t truly unite around President Obama.  To that I say bunk.  And to the question of why I’m using words like bunk, I say fuck you, I want to say bunk.

Most thinking people knew there’d be no consensus, nor should there be.  Remember when Democrats decided to give Bush a consensus to show national unity in the wake of 9/11?  It only turned out to be the worst idea of this century anywhere in the world.  Parties are supposed to check one another, to fight, and to stop each other from getting too big.  This time around, the GOP fought dirty and they fought for keeps.  They rattled their sabers until their poor sabers got concussions, said Obama was the worst president in American history, in any history, said he was out for the blood of our founders, that the survival of all American dreams are at stake in this election.  Then we kicked them until they shit themselves.  I’m not worried about building consensus.  We fought, we won—fuck you and your consensus.

So maybe we can start out by asking what does this election mean for Republicans?  Not as much as you may think, I’m afraid.  For as much dick-swinging as the left is doing, let’s remember that we ran one of the most charismatic and gifted politicians in our lifetime, had the advantage of incumbency, were going against a dog-torturing downsize-artist, and we won by two points.  Maybe all they have is rage and a fat stack of money, but that almost gets you one vote out of two.

Still, the future doesn’t look bright for our GOP partners.  We traded Indiana for Florida (probably the two worst states, but ours has more people and smells a little better).  They can’t count on The Rust Belt (Ohio, Pennsylvania), The Cocaine Belt (Florida, The Bush Compound), or The I-Wanna-Fuck-This-Prostitute-So-Help-Me-Take-Off-This Belt (Nevada).  Moreover, the trends are trending and those trends tend to portend bad ends for our GOP friends.  They’re getting older, more isolated, smellier, both closer to and more deserving of death.  Bill O’Reilly yells at his audience so much, because it’s the only way these people can hear them.  Plus, given that Obama will soon force them into a gay marriage and a death panel, I don’t know if they’ll be around to vote for Rand Paul in 2016.

Liberals, on the other hand, are younger, multi-racial, and, thanks to all the organic food and condoms, reasonably healthy.  Are we going to get more conservative as we get older?  Please.  You’re just saying that because it has happened to every single generation everywhere in the history of the world.  The world belongs to us now, right?

Nope.  Lost in the liberal circle jerk is the reality that the American government is much more conservative than it was thirty years ago.   Ronald Reagan, the whore of The Heritage Foundation, would be far too liberal to represent the Republican Party today.  A lot of people bring that up as a totem to show how crazy Republicans have become, but what does it say about us?  How did this pot-legalizing, sodomy-indifferent, anti-war country become okay with an economic system that makes the 1980’s Greed-Is-Holy yuppies blush?  The truth is that we’re not okay with it.  We know it’s not right, and we’re not happier.  America isn’t more conservative—its representatives are and nobody likes it.

I see it as a problem of language.  We accept the basic definitions of the right wing, and try to moderate within those realms.  It’s a problem exacerbated by two presidents I very much admire—Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.  These Democrats played within the rules the conservatives set, let them walk off the cliff and plucked the low-hanging fruit.  Except no matter how far we let them wander, it’s still 49-51.  And that’s a problem.

It’s not a political problem—we’re set up pretty well as far as politics go.  But it is a problem in that Bob Dole’s health care plan (now called Obamacare, a mandate to fund the private insurance companies at the root of the problem) is now considered Marxism, and George HW Bush’s environmental plan (Cap and Trade) is considered a war on America.  But more than that, it’s a problem because it sells half of America short.  I’m a die-hard, no apologies liberal—I hate the pussy term “progressive”—and I think most conservative ideas are stupid and dangerous.  But I don’t think most conservative people are stupid and dangerous.  And this is where it comes down to language.

If something is going to change this election, let it be the way we consider our words.  For instance, look Rush Limbaugh’s reaction to losing the election.  Mr. Limbaugh and I don’t agree on issues of politics or whether or not he fucks little children, but I still kind of like him.  After all, if every self-righteous drug addict was prevented from screeching his opinions then my Thanksgivings would become a lot less interesting.  So I tuned into his radio show on Wednesday in part to hear what conservatives thought of the previous night’s vote and in part because I wanted to bask in his gravy-like tears.  His opening salvo surprised me, and, frankly, it made me a little sad.

“It is practically impossible to beat Santa Claus,” said the man who resembles Santa Claus, if St. Nick liked Viagra and Oxycontin.  “People are not going to vote against Santa Claus, especially if the alternative is being your own Santa Claus…I went to bed last night thinking, ‘we’re outnumbered,’” he said. “I went to bed last night thinking we’d lost the country. I don’t know how else you look at this. The first wave of exit polls came in at five o’clock. I looked at it, and I said … ‘this is utter BS, and if it isn’t, then we’ve lost the country.’”

Got that?  The only problem with America is Americans who are a bunch of fucking spoiled children wanting a Santa Claus.  The problem with America is you.  Not because you’re reading a liberal website.  Not because you’re reading, though that makes you suspect.  It’s because you’re an American.  You’re a beggar, and he’s lost the country.

So he’s mad, and that’s his right. And of course, he never had the country to begin with, but okay, he’s hurt and he’s lashing out.  Except that he has now forever thrown away the notion that he’s a patriot.  He actively dislikes most Americans (at least most voting Americans, and I don’t imagine he has a lot of kind words for those who stayed at home).

Of course, no one is obliged to love their country and there’s no shame in not being a patriot—especially given how the word patriot has been degraded to mean blind adherence to your country.  By this definition, do you know who absolutely wasn’t a patriot? Thomas Jefferson.  He broke away from his country, formed a new country, and fought a war against his given nation.  But Thomas Jefferson wrestled with these issues, and made a conscious choice to commit treason.  Rush Limbaugh insults Americans, then goes to sleep tonight in a haze of Pork Rinds and Yoohoo, nestled between his fourth wife and his Reagan Real Doll, secure in the knowledge that he is a patriot and you are not.

He can do this because we’ve ceded the word patriot.  We give him our language and in exchange pick up the milquetoast Senators and Representatives, thinking it does no harm.  But now that we have a clear majority, can we at least politely ask the other side to stop spitting in our face?

So, friends, I propose, now that we’ve won a reasonably decisive victory, we don’t have to settle for something as abstract as taking our country back—this was always our country, theirs too—let’s instead take our language back.

You see, when the other side says, “The founding fathers would say…” they mean “I say…” When they say “This socialist agenda…” they mean “That idea I disagree with…”  When they say “Ronald Reagan” they mean “Me” and when they say “George W Bush” they mean “Me when I’m drunk”, when they say “Jesus Christ” they mean, “Me when I can successfully suppress my gay thoughts.”  When I protested the Iraq War, they were out there with American flags, in counter-protest, chanting “USA-USA” but they really meant “Me-Me-Me, Me-Me-Me”.  When they say “Tea Parties” they mean “Tea Parties”—where little kids dress up and pretend to be someone else more sophisticated and adult than they are.  And that’s cool.  Pretending is fun.  But from now on, because there are more of us than there are of you, we are going to decode you.

You can’t chant USA without us reminding you that the USA twice elected Barack Obama and rejects all you stand for.  Don’t dismiss us by saying “Class Warfare.”  You’re terrified of class warfare because so far it’s been you all winning a very effective guerilla class warfare.  On top of that, you can’t say “socialism” unless you have the remotest fucking clue what a socialist is.  Your secret is out.  You say “socialist” because after Bush, you can’t scare anybody by saying “liberal.”  Because America is liberal, and we won’t hate the phrase anymore if we know what it means.

But that’s not enough.  We need to change the language in the way the news is reported.  Why is a line in the DOW going up or down supposed to mean dick to me?  I don’t own stock.  Finding out it’s gone up or down is like finding out if the terror threat level is orange or yellow, a daily bit of outdated nonsense.  Don’t tell me about how much the stock sold for—tell me if the workers got paid, and if the jobs stayed in America.  Why does the GDP have to constantly be going up if the value of money goes down?  This is banker logic and banker language.  Wall Street is a Gallup Poll, except one we’ve been conned into believing matters.  I’d much rather hear a report about workers than a report our national shell game.

And without your linguistic advantage, GOP, what do you have? Your ideas are unpopular, your voting base is aging, and your death rattles don’t frighten us anymore.  Sure, there’s a parallel between 2012 and 2004, and we worked our way out of that mess.  If you can resist nominating Paul Ryan, you have a few decent ponies in your stable.  But here’s what you don’t understand—in 2004, we had a message problem. You have an issues problem.  We were bad salesmen trying to sell a good product.  You all are Mitt Romney trying to sell outsourcing your job and having no recreational sex.

But let’s not sell each other short.  We have equal claim to this nation.  If there’s one thing this election should have taught you about America, it’s that you didn’t build that—we all did, and we continue to do so.  So there’s no need to despair, and you don’t even have to change your views.  But this marks the end of your ability to use shorthand to frighten us with monsters that don’t exist.  You owe it to America and you owe it to the English language.


The Last Undecided Voter In America: A Probably Legal Request For Someone To Tell Me Who To Vote For

November 2, 2012

“Undecided voters are cunts”—Mitt Romney, campaigning in Defiance, Ohio.

While I disagree with the tenor of Mr. Romney’s statement last week, and I certainly take issue with him referring to Jacksonville as “the biggest cold sore on the herpes infected cock that is Florida”, he does raise an interesting point.

Isn’t there something a little irritating about the undecided voter? It’s not just that they can’t decide. Although seriously, you can’t decide? Mitt Romney never stopped running since the last election and you need to hear his stump speech again over the weekend to piece it all together? Mitt Romney outsources jobs, invests his money in foreign banks, and the only thing he seems to like about America is that Jesus is from there. He got rich by firing people. Of course, Donald Trump likes him—he’s who Donald Trump aspires to be. If the last decade has taught us anything, it’s that the only thing Republicans are good for is mispronouncing words in folksy ways and sucking off guys in airport bathrooms (Although had we known then what we know now, wouldn’t it be great if Bill Clinton responded to his impeachment by saying, “At least I was getting the blowjob.”) Barack Obama, on the other hand, saved the economy, sent Bin Laden to his virgins, and gave all American children health insurance. Against that, Mitt Romney puts up his crowning achievement: the time he made the 2002 Winter Games more profitable. Winter Olympics, massive layoffs, and dressage horses? Please. Give me basketball, real jobs, and terrorist killing. I think I’m getting sidetracked.

It’s not just that they can’t decide, it’s that they get rewarded for their indecision. We pretend they are the most finicky consumers, carefully poring over article after article before making up their mind, but we all know they just don’t give a shit. And that’s why it shames me to admit that I, your self-appointed life-coach, Ronnie Cottonpants, am an undecided voter.

No, not about the Presidential election. I tried to be open minded, but Mitt Romney lost my vote when he said that “If my dog was as ugly and hairy as the average North Carolina woman, I’d have never taken that bitch off the roof.” But I am undecided about a very important election. I can not decide who to vote for in the upcoming congressional election between Ben Chandler and Andy Barr.

I’m liberal, and I want to vote for Ben Chandler. Or rather, I want to want to vote for Ben Chandler. I want a Democratic Congressman, and I want to pull the Democratic lever with pride, but I can’t. He votes for the Republicans every single time, he is selling himself by promoting his “Conservative Principles”, and he is suing the fucking EPA for trying to protect Kentucky, the rural economy, and the health and safety of miners. The only reason I’ve heard to support him is that he has a “D” beside his name.

Don’t get me wrong—that “D” matters. I feel as confident giving conservative Democrats my vote as I do lending my phone and credit card to a meth-head, but I can handle a blue-dog if I need to. You have to swallow a lot of shit when you’re a liberal. That’s the price of admission, and it usually pays off, but I don’t know that I can do it now.

Listen, I’m the sort of liberal who won’t forgive Ralph Nader. As my father said of Mr. Nader, “It’s not like I hate the guy. It’s not like if his guts were on fire, I wouldn’t piss on him to put him out. I’m saying, if his guts were on fire, I would piss on him.” The Iraq War, the devastated economy, our crippling debt—all of that can be directly lain at Ralph Nader’s feet.  But that came at the expense of Al Gore, a man who, while a little conservative for my tastes in some areas, I think is brilliant and a capable leader. This is about Ben Chandler.

I won’t vote for Andy Barr. I kind of like the fact that he looks like if the Howdy Doody puppet grew up and became an alcoholic, but I like nothing else about him. He’s a useless man who is wrong about absolutely everything. But this is about Ben Chandler.

I want to vote for Ben Chandler, but as of now, I can’t. But I’m undecided, and I’m willing to listen to reason. So I say this very seriously—Convince me to vote for Ben Chandler. I’m Liberal and I’m motivated by fear of Republicans, and I am very, very up in the air on my vote.

But don’t just say “If you don’t vote for Chandler, it’ll be Congressman Andy Barr.” That’s not enough—or rather that’s not enough if you can’t follow it up with specifics about how they’ll vote differently. Andy Barr is the one making the best argument for Ben Chandler getting my vote. In Barr’s commercials, he says Ben Chandler supports Obama’s agenda, but he never gets more detailed than that—because Ben Chandler doesn’t support the President’s agenda, or the liberal agenda. In fact, he doesn’t support the Kentucky Democratic agenda.  What agenda does he support and why is it a secret?

Is he pretending to be more conservative than he is out of political necessity? Probably. Is he a better man than a congressman? I don’t doubt it, but I’m not voting for him to be my buddy or my neighbor. I want him to represent me. So the question remains—If one candidate is for conservative principles and will stand up to Obama, and the other candidate is for conservative principles and will stand up to Obama then why should I vote for either one.

Here’s what I know:
1. My vote matters. Chandler won last time by less than one vote per precinct. Chandler can win without me, but he can’t win without the disaffected liberals he let down.
2. I’m genuinely undecided and will listen to any argument. From now until Election Day, I will engage and try to respond to any and all reasonable suggestions. Why should a liberal vote for Ben Chandler?

I hope I’ve convinced you that, despite what Mitt Romney says, not all undecided voters are “mouth-breathing fatherfuckers who deserve to go to someplace worse than hell when they die, like Virginia.”  No, some of us are just waiting to hear our questions answered.

Letter From A Swing State: Swing These

one comment
October 24, 2012

(Editor’ note: The following is written by my buddy Noah Siela, an award-winning poet, a college professor, and a frequent public-vomiter. He wanted to give those of us nestled snugly inside a red state a peak as to what life is like in a wing-state. From what I can tell, it’s pretty ugh the same as being anywhere else except your vote matters and is possibly counted. Enjoy Noah’s stylings, but be warned, if you let your children study poetry, they might turn out like him and if you send your children to The University of Maryland, they might wind up being taught by him).–R.C.



Swing These

Hello and fuck you, California. I live in a swing state. It’s beautiful this time of every fourth year in Iowa. If you take gravel roads to your place of work (ethanol refinery, school, meth lab, etc.), you can smell the diesel and hustle in the air as farmers, who hate brown(ish) welfare drug addicts who they’ve never met in person, augur bushels of government-subsidized grain into proud silos rising from the pastoral like Steve King’s (R-Iowa) supposedly-barbed and probably-hooved boner poking out of his Dockers at a dog fight. If you sit in the back of the coffee shop I go to every morning to construct the perfect 3-D Mao suit to put on page 1of my pop-up manifesto for Totskys, and you sit far enough away from the tall Swede that the very expensive private school across the street pays to loudly pray the gay out of conflicted, Pell-granted students, you can hear the young barista, grinding imported Venezuelan coffee, speak of Barack Obama being the Antichrist because her 1/8 Native American boyfriend had a dream-vision about the number 13 and there are 13 letters in the president’s name if spelled using Old Testament philology and Native Americans run the casinos in this state and if casinos have taught my mother and aunts anything it’s that math done by Indians is on our side so just trust the fucking Indian dream-math and build your Second-Coming shelter, Kit Carson!

Yes, we’re a sexy little beast this time of year so fuck you, New York. I lived in the town that is Iowa’s liberal epicenter for over a decade. The town not Ames and the one in which the gays float freely above streets paved with the furrowed brows of drunken undergrads contemplating which Women’s Studies course to take after their next abortion. The town that convinced me in 2004 that John Kerry’s impending victory would be more of a runaway than Mitt every time Ann wants to do “the doggy’s style.” The town where it’s a perfectly normal spectacle to see a tenure-track professor dressed as a robot chase a leading and insane GOP candidate into the Hamburg Inn while onlookers boo not because that leading GOP candidate is an insane idiot who recently mistook John Wayne for John Wayne Gacy (two of Iowa’s most prolific people, so it’s a reasonable mistake I guess), but dressing up as a robot and ruining a short stack and sausage links is just bad manners.

We are moderate and our even keel is important now so fuck you, most of The South. Really, fuck you, most of The South. But I love Iowa all the time. I love Iowa when we make same-sex marriage legal and I love Iowa when we remove State Supreme Court Justices for doing so and I love Iowa for realizing that was a knee-jerk reaction and we form awareness groups to make sure to “Vote Yes for Retention” to keep the judges who interpreted the state constitution on the bench, where they belong. I love Iowa when other states talk of moving up their caucuses so they can be first and the non-cacophony created by Iowa’s poise and stability when other states discuss that possibility is harmony enough to make the rest of the country realize that Iowa is, indeed, a pretty good place to launch the campaign season. I love moderate and reasonable Iowa when we raise children who are first-time voters and they stop to talk to their non-moderate professor after a lecture he’s given about avoiding ad hominem attacks to maintain academic tone and they say, “Mr. Siela, do you think Paul Ryan’s a good VP candidate?” “Not at all, first-time voter student,” I say. “But why, Mr. Siela?” first-time voter student says. “Well, first of all first-time voter student, he’s from Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Badgers’ college football coach is an ex-Hawkeye and that ex-Hawkeye has a Tigerhawk tattooed on his ankle which means that Paul Ryan is probably a secessionist. Also, Paul Ryan’s a midget coffin full of whale jizz, first-time voter student,” I say. “But Mr. Siela, that’s not a valid reason to not vote for somebody. Are you even sure that his policies aren’t something you can’t support?” says first-time voter student. “You’re exactly right, student, and I shouldn’t stoop so low with matters so important,” I say. “Good,” says student, “and you shouldn’t offend whale jizz like that anymore.”

George Orwell, famous cultural critic and creator of the mildly popular CBS reality show, “Big Brother”, once wrote: “Political chaos is connected with the decay of language.” What’s that dead limey pussy know about shit? Last Wednesday, on the campus of Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, I stood in line for 6 hours waiting to hear President Obama, hopefully, speak about clean energy and job creation the morning after the second presidential debate. As the time got closer to open the doors, cops from surrounding towns dribbled in over the course of the morning to assist with traffic and security. On 1st St., the main road that bisects the campus, the cops put up road blocks and folks who were attempting to drive through town were forced to stop, do a 3-point turn, and head back the other way. The driver of an out-of-state Hummer, which, by the way, is the perfect vehicle to transport 5-gallon drums of Axe Body Spray from the Affliction T-Shirt Warehouse to a domestic assault trial, rolled down his window and asked the line of Democrats the best way to get through town. A lesbian couple (I knew this because it was overcast and cloudy and they were wearing aviator shades and talking about making their own patio furniture) strayed out of line and compassionately articulated perfect directions to their lost and ostensibly civic opposite, creating the perfect metaphor that I’ve completely fabricated for the sake of this article. But it’s balanced Iowa, and it would happen. Every year. No matter what line you step out of.


On Comfort and Atmosphere: This is Not About Gay Marriage

May 17, 2012

President Obama declared war on marriage last week by saying he wants more people to get married. If you’re confused, you hate freedom.

If he fought the War on Christmas the same way, he’d say everybody should be able to celebrate Christmas. If he fought the war in Afghanistan in this same way, he’d invade Iraq for no reason, kill 200,000 civilians and thousands of American troops on false information, lose that war and then declare victory in a flight suit and a codpiece, while bragging that we are using US Troops as bait (“We’re fighting them over there so we don’t have to fight them here”). By that, I mean he would wage war in a tremendously incompetent way.

But I don’t want to talk about gay marriage. It’s simple: there’s a clear right side and a clear wrong side. It’s remarkable how quickly public opinion has changed, it’s debatable how significant Obama’s support is, but ultimately it’s a simple topic. You should be proud of yourself for being on the right side of history, but, be careful, because pride is a sin. And unlike homosexuality, pride is a sin that is actually forbidden by Jesus.

I think it’s more important how Obama came to vocalize his support. Joe Biden forced his hand by saying he felt “comfortable” with gay marriage. In the period of time between Biden giving his support and Obama giving his support, Republicans went to town on our President. Rush Limbaugh (so committed to the idea of traditional marriages that he’s had four of them) said something along the lines of “Imagine what it takes to be a liberal. You have to believe that President Obama is willfully lying to you, just so he can get some political points. This is what liberals actually believe.” Two seconds later, he said it was actually what he believed. Which sounds hypocritical, but it’s hard to keep your story straight when the meth kicks in. But Rush is right. President Obama is lying.

Do you believe that Barack Obama evolved on gay marriage? Do you believe he had a sudden revelation that gay coupling wouldn’t cripple marriage? And that revelation happened to coincide with Joe Biden’s revelation? Or did he admit what he and most people already know: gays exist. Banning gay marriage is doing nothing but legitimizing prejudice and making millions of people unhappy.

This isn’t to minimize the significance of President Obama’s statement. He took political risk (and at least in the short term took a political hit) to be on the right side of history. It’s possible that he simply couldn’t stomach pretending to be a bigot, even if pretending helped him win reelection. As an American, I’m proud to be represented by a man like that.

But practically, it means nothing. I’d trade the President’s support for the popular vote in North Carolina ten times out of ten. Obama didn’t allow gays to get married—he said he was okay to feel comfortable with gay marriage. But a president dictates policy, not comfort.

Why do Americans think we are entitled to comfort? I am not required to make President Obama or you or Joe Biden or Rush Limbaugh or anyone else comfortable.  If you’re comfortable, I’m happy, if not, we’ll just talk about something else. Isn’t this something that is beyond the realm of politics?

Well, no. Politicians don’t just reflect our comfort, they create our comfort. In 1960, we worried about having a Catholic in the White House. It didn’t take long for that to seem ridiculous. Jack Kennedy was beautiful, we admired him, and his comfort with an even more displaced minority (Blacks) caused substantial change (at the prodding of his Vice President). It’s hard not to make the connection to right now. When actual legislation is finally, finally passed legitimizing gay marriage then there will not only be a lot of hemming and hawing and backtracking from prejudiced radio junkies, but we’ll all tip our hat to President Obama’s belated, half-hearted half-truth that he is only now comfortable with gay marriage.

I imagine everyone reading this has experience with a kind-hearted bigot. I’m not joking,here, there is such a thing as a kind-hearted bigot. When it comes to gays, what do kind-hearted bigots say? “Whatever you want to do is fine, but I don’t want to see it.” They don’t like the idea of gay love (or more accurately, gay sex), but they recognize people have a right to do what they want. Those people are prejudiced (sort of) but they are right. “Keep it away from me.” That’s what I feel about 99% of the population at any given time. I love you, but fuck off. That said, I’m not entitled to a law to keep me comfortable from you.

We all have our bigotries. I’ll share one of mine that I’m not proud of. If I had a son who told me he wanted to become a woman—to take estrogen and lop his penis off and turn it into a vagina and hereafter be referred to as “she”—I wouldn’t like it. I’d recognize that this is his choice, love him regardless, but I wouldn’t sign off on it. It’s hard for me to explain why beyond that it makes me uncomfortable. But again, my comfort isn’t someone else’s responsibility. And my prejudice, my comfort, certainly should never be codified by law.

This isn’t a gay issue. Look, I love that we’re all getting comfortable with each other. Politics have a huge part in that, but it’s just one component. Eight years ago, Howard Dean was considered unelectable because he thought civil unions between gays was acceptable in Vermont. Nine months later, President Bush (arguably the most anti-gay President in history) agreed with him.

It’s getting harder to live in this world without really liking a gay person, and it’s almost impossible to pretend you do not know one. Moreover, it’s inconceivable to pretend they don’t exist. (Scoff if you want, ye of little memory, that used to be a real thing. ‘If only he could find the right woman, he’d come around. If she could find the right man, she’d change.’ I know people who called gays “confused.”)

Let’s review: Gays exist. They are Americans. You have the right to your discomfort, and no one is taking that away. As Americans, they can approve or disapprove of you, and you can approve or disapprove of them. Once we acknowledge this, what usually follows is the unambiguous desire for everyone on either side to be happy. Marriage isn’t necessarily the way to happiness, but the right to marriage certainly is.

But we’re not talking about gays. We’re talking about comfort. Am I comfortable with Newt Gingrich divorcing wives because they are sick and marrying his mistresses? Am I comfortable with Mitt Romney’s grandfather running to Mexico so he can marry multiple women at the same time? Am I comfortable with Rush Limbaugh lecturing us about the sanctity of traditional values while eating his fourth wife like she’s his last barbiturate? Who cares? It’s not my call. These guys exist, and I find them disgusting. Hey, do what you want, but keep it away from me.

I wish we could leave it there. The open-minded on one side, the blinded on the other. One day they shall see the light. But this is an economic issue. Not gay marriage. The reason it’s gaining so much approval so fast is precisely because it is not an economic issue. “Comfort” is an economic issue.

Listen to Mitt Romney’s plans for the economy. Who wins when we cut taxes for the rich? According to Mitt, we all do, because we create an atmosphere in which success is praised rather than punished. That in turn creates an atmosphere in which job creators are free to create jobs. Atmosphere?  That sounds a lot like “comfort.” Are we to really believe that there are a lot of people who can create jobs, who want to create jobs, who are eager to create jobs, but are just waiting for the atmosphere to be right?

A magician works with fireworks, smoke, and half-naked assistants. Anything that draws the viewer’s eye so he doesn’t notice the sleight of hand. Mitt Romney is selling a job-creating “atmosphere.” George W Bush said he was going to change the “tone” These aren’t real things. They’re the explosions meant to wow us while he signs away our future.

What are politicians for? To create atmosphere for us? To give us comfort? You want to create jobs, create jobs. Be my guest. Create them. But this is the difference between social issues and economic issues. We can’t atmosphere jobs into creation. Tax cuts for the wealthy create wealth for the wealthy. That’s it. They aren’t holding our jobs hostage, waiting for the wink from Mitt Romney to save our economy. And if they are, are these the sort of people we want running our nation?

We are our atmosphere. We are our comfort. With social issues like gay marriage, comfort is enough. With economic issues, we need a little more meat. If you want to fix the economy, we need something more than atmosphere. Politics matter because politicians create rules, laws, then deal with numbers and hard cash.

Obama’s social position on gay marriage is heavy on subtext but light on substance. Romney’s economic plan is the same thing. It rests on a hope that the rewarded will help out the country as a whole. Because we created an atmosphere for it to happen. All of a sudden, people want to be rich!

I say, let’s not wait for DC to sanctify us. Marry who you want. Don’t worry about who you make uncomfortable. Create as many jobs as you want. That will create it’s own atmosphere. Given how low corporate taxes are right now, if you are waiting to create jobs until you get more tax breaks then that doesn’t seem to be a problem of atmosphere, it seems to be a problem of your personal greed.

And frankly, I’m not comfortable with rewarding you for that.

We are free people. Atmosphere and comfort ultimately evaporate next to that fact: we are free people. Create the America you want. In November, you have the choice between someone who creates the atmosphere in which everyone can marry whoever they want, or someone who creates the atmosphere in which every banker, every millionaire, will magically decide they want to be rich and make the rest of us rich in the process.

Which liar do you trust?

This Guy For Governor

one comment
April 4, 2012

These are giddy times for Lexington and for Kentucky as a whole.  We won.  The feeling is awesome.  We can talk about being overwhelmed, we can talk about being relieved, we can snort and say it’s just a game, but the overwhelming feeling is just one of pure undiluted joy.


How do we express that joy?  Some students burned couches, I burned a brand new hole in my liver, there were even some reports that a group of unruly students burned down our glistening new Centrepointe hotel, leaving nothing but an empty grass field.  We showed America that Kentucky has the best basketball team in the country, and then we showed Vancouver and London that they riot like a bunch of pussies.


Let’s face it—there’s not enough joy in this world.  Usually, when it happens, it happens to us individually (we get married, we get some kind of professional validation, we experience artistic fulfillment).  It is especially rare and it is genuinely special when this joy can be experienced throughout a community.  If I had to put this feeling into words, I think I’d agree with this guy.



How awesome is that?  I’m not sure what my favorite part of this clip is.  The initial close-up of the interviewer’s nose?  The guy who comes in late and tries and fails to start an incomprehensible “Num-mur Eight” chant?  What about the I’m-too-scared-to-even-look-at-the-camera reaction shots of the WKYT crew before Sam Dick apologizes to the audience for having to hear a bad word?  (Kind of sanctimonious for a guy says the word “dick” at least once every news broadcast).


But we know who the star of the show is.  That is one happy man.  He starts by making low guttural noises at the camera.  And is there a better answer to “How do you feel?” than “I feel fucking awesome.”


I want this man to be governor.  Seriously, we need to find him, identify him, and draft him to service.  Why not?  Because he drinks?  On Monday night, Lexington was coated in whiskey and whiskey-scented vomit, the likes of which we haven’t seen since Saturday night.  Kentuckians drink: that’s not a problem.


He cusses?  So do you.  People cuss far more than they realize.  Be honest people.  Every time you write “f*ck” you’re really writing fuck and whenever you say “the n word” you’re really saying nigger.  You’re conveying ideas, and those ideas have been transmitted into someone else’s mind.  Therefore, calling a woman a “total B” is not as bad as calling her a bitch—it is calling her a bitch.


You don’ know his position on the issues.  That, my friends, is the greatest part of his candidacy.  Do you think he’s lying when he says how he feels?  His issue is enthusiasm.  We give Governor Beshear a hard time because he outsources his job.  Coal companies can write the environmental laws, the casinos can write the budget.


Hold on a second: we didn’t vote for those m*therfuckers.  We voted for you, Governor.  When you abdicate your responsibility as governor, you’re denying us this privilege to govern ourselves.  When you say, you can’t do it, you’re saying we Kentuckians can’t do it.


And that won’t stand.  We need a cheerleader.  We need someone who knows it’s our state (Or as Anthony Davis says, “This is my state.”  Which I’m also cool with. If AD wants to become Commonwealth Dictator I’m happy to back that regime).  That is why this guy would make the perfect governor.  He would yell and scream, and probably use a lot of exclamation points and smiley faces when he signs the budget.


So I ask you my fellow Kentuckians: If, instead of the milquetoast, blue dog Democrats and smarmy, scummy Republicans currently occupying our government, we had the nation’s most enthusiastic governor, one whose very presence, served as a reminder of overwhelming and unbridled joy, How would you feel?


Tell Us How We Feel, Tom

no comments
March 31, 2012


I’ve been freaking out of my gourd all week.  Tom Waits summarizes my feelings.  Go Wildcats!

The Issue That Will Swing The 2012 Election: Nothing

March 30, 2012

If you’re reading this website, either you’re a liberal who wants to read the writings of other liberals, you’re a conservative who wants to laugh at the crazy things dumb liberals believe, or you’re a sorely disappointed foot-fetishist, confused why putting “Barefoot” into Google brought you here.  Either way, we appreciate your business, and make yourself at home.   (Except for the fetishists.  Please keep your shoes on).

But my point is that whether you’re a pervert, a liberal, or a foot-fetishist, you’ve probably already made up your mind about the 2012 election.  Sure, Republicans still have to settle the great Mormon v. Moron Skirmish of 2012, and there might be a few liberals who are sore that Obama nominated Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court rather than Noam Chomsky and are threatening to write in their kegel instructor this November, but for the vast majority of you, the die is cast.  You’re not here to figure out who you’ll vote for, or even why you’ll vote for him.  You want to figure out how you can convince others to vote for that person.

So what will be the issue that swings the 2012 election?

The economy?  The conventional wisdom says so.  But the economy is big and complicated, and, to be honest, I don’t know what it is.  No one does.  The indicators are looking up, but we’re not where we think we should be.  Also, some of the damage is systemic and likely will never be repaired, and we have to recalibrate our expectations of what makes a good or lagging economy.  VOTE OBAMA 2012!!!

Foreign policy?  Maybe.  Obama did clear up Bush’s biggest blunder (I’m talking about Iraq, not giving Dick Cheney a functioning heart).  We’re leaving Afghanistan under something approximating victory.  Osama Bin Laden (just speaking for me, personally: not a fan) took one in the temple, and at this point he’s probably used up all his virgins.  But let’s be fair.  These are national concerns, and it’s not like the GOP would have ever used the death of Osama in a political way it had been Bush who killed him.  That would just be crass.

What about social issues?  Some men like it up the ass.  Believe it or not, I’ve just summarized the 2004 Bush Campaign for you.  And it worked.  Eight years later, I don’t think this will fly.  It’s still a heated issue.  The GOP tried to criminalize birth control (“Less casual sex! Harsher punishments for casual sex! Vote Republican!) but that’s just the GOP being goppy.  Liberals called it a “war on women” but that’s not true.  Republicans are launching a war on pleasure.  Is this really going to sway a lot of voting levers this fall?   Aren’t we all sick of gaybortion at this point?

So what is the issue?  Come on, dumbass, don’t you see it at this point?  There is no issue.  We don’t vote on issues.  And I’m sorry I called you a dumbass.

A couple weeks ago, I took a trip to the North Carolina/Georgia border with my girlfriend to meet some of her college friends.  The host of our shindig was a lawyer who was not only hosting us, but his older boss and his boss’s family.  The boss and I got on like gangbusters, and we discussed such issues as Kentucky whiskey (we were both in favor), Kentucky basketball (Oh hell yes, I’m in favor.  He thought it was cute that Kentuckians had something to do during non-football season), and the environment.  He sad he was part of a group working to preserve the Appalachian Mountains in North Carolina, but he hastened to add, “We’re very conservative people.”  After he told me about the work he did, he said, “It’s not like we’re crazy liberals.  It’s about being good stewards of the land.”

I recognized the phrase “good stewards of the land” to be Biblical, and I asked him about it.  “Yes, it’s from Jesus,” he said, “and it’s common sense.”  He and Jesus are right: taking care of the land is both sacred and practical.  But is this man going to vote for the candidate who is the best steward for the land?  My guess is no, because it’s more important to him and his family to be considered “conservative people.”

We don’t vote for issues: we vote for how we want to be conceived.  Most people voted for Obama because they want to be the sort of people who vote for Obama.  Think of it this way: If you tell me your opinion on the marginal tax rate, I pretty much know your opinion on the war, on deforestation, on gun control, on gay marriage, on affirmative action, on nuclear disarmament, on the healthcare bill, and on access to birth control.

This is, by all reasonable measures, stupid.  Gay marriage has nothing to do with taxes or nuclear proliferation.  Why do our opinions line up so neatly?  Sure, there will be exceptions, usually preceded by a rapid fire by rote apology.  “Hold on, hold on, hold on, you know I’m a traditional person, I’m a Christian person, but if two gays want to get married, I think it’s up to them.”  Or, in the example of my bourbon-buddy, “We’re very conservative people” who—I’m sorry to say—like the environment.

I’m happy being unfair with most things, but this is not something we can lay at the feet of conservatives (that was for you, foot fetishists, thanks for staying with us).   How many times have you heard liberals apologizing, then declaring their utmost devotion to equality, before saying something like “But maybe we should give the Keystone Pipeline a chance.”  It’s not just politics either.  Have you ever said, “Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a meathead or anything, but I like football, you know, for cultural reasons.”  Or, “Yeah, I like country music, but not like the pick-up truck stuff or Hank Williams Jr. or anyone like that.”  Liberal, heal thyself.  (Brief aside: If you like “Progressive hip-hop” because of its inspiring message, then you are a paternalistic douchebag, and you treat black people like children).  It’s not enough that we vote the way we vote.  We don’t want to possibly be confused with the other side.

In every election cycle, liberals complain about people who “vote against their own interests.”  They are talking about poor and middle class people who vote for Republican politicians who will cut taxes for the rich, rather than Democrats who will help them.  Please.  Have you noticed how most liberals who complain about the working class voting against their own interests are white people who support affirmative action?

Your best interests aren’t defined by an issue.  It is in your best interest to have a President who you are comfortable with.  That means having a President that you like.  I don’t care that I disagree with President Obama about gay marriage and single-payer health care.  I like him, so I want to vote for him.

The issue that matters is no issue at all.  If we want to convince people to vote our way, let’s start by talking to each other.  “Obamacare” and “freedom” and “unions” and “gun control” aren’t issues.  They are code words we use to try to understand what sort of person you are.

And that is ridiculous.  But it won’t get any better until we stop speaking in shorthand.  Only when we speak to each other, can we honestly ask for each other’s vote.

Know Your Perverts!

March 27, 2012

As you may have heard, there has been some unpleasantness down in Florida, leading to racial tension between the Blacks and the Hispanic Jews.  In short, a Black teenager was walking in a gated community, visiting his father’s girlfriend.  Needless to say, he got shot and Republicans blame him for dying.


Nothing to see here, move along.


Except this time, let’s try to learn from our mistakes.  Who’s to blame for the death of Trayvon Martin?  Obviously, obviously, obviously, we can’t blame guns or racism.  That would be stoking the fires of hatred.  And I don’t want a complicated answer that involves me tempering my self-righteousness.  Hmm.  This is a tough one.  Let’s ask a washed-up scum-merchant famous for being humiliated by a dead Al Capone.


Thanks, Geraldo!  It was the hoodie’s fault.  While he admits that Zimmerman’s reaction of shooting and killing Martin was “overzealous”, he also says it’s hoodies that cause him to cross the street when he sees Black or Hispanic youths.  I hate those hoodies!  Why are they even legal? Just because of the Second Amendment? (Wait, we’re still talking about hoodies? I’m confused).


Can this work in other areas?  Like, we know gangsters wear hoodies. And I’ve heard arsonists wear bow ties.  Double-breasted suit and Ray-Bans?  You may as well wear a sign that says, “Cattle Rustler.”  But can it help us catching more practical criminals.  Only one way to find out.  Let’s play play America’s favorite game: Know Your Perverts!


Convicted Sexual Predator: Scott County, Missouri

Convicted Sexual Predator: Boise Idaho

Green River Killer

Rapist and murderer of at least 48 women in Washington State. Known as “The Green River Killer.”

Journalist, weirdo, victim of the only great thing a white supremacist ever did


So I’m not saying that Geraldo Rivera is a rapist or a sexual predator or really that he poses a threat in any way. But if he came into your neighborhood, wearing that “I’m going to Rape Your Children” moustache—especially, if he had Skittles—wouldn’t you have the right to shoot and murder him?


Of course, not everyone is anti-hoodie.  In the interest of equal time, I’ll leave you with a couple of SNL Vets take on their favorite piece of clothing.

Sluts, Rush Limbaugh, and The Dickening of America

one comment
March 6, 2012

Radio host and noted motherfucker, Rush Limbaugh, caused a stir last week when he called a young woman a slut and a prostitute because she uses birth control. There are not two sides to this debate. Rush Limbaugh is a whale-cock. He is as intelligent and attractive as a cyst on Osama Bin Laden’s asshole. I want to give him a break because a 400-pound meth addict could theoretically keep Kentucky’s economy afloat for years, but I can’t. If you are reading this and you are Rush Limbaugh, fuck you.

But he is not irrelevant. Sure, I’d love to dismiss him, and say, “He’s just doing it for attention. Ignore it and it will go away.” But Rush Limbaugh declared himself the leader of the Republican party, and he wasn’t lying. Al Franken famously wrote a book called Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot (he wasn’t lying either), but Franken is a lowly Senator from a big state; Rush Limbaugh could singlehandedly swing the Republican primary if he chose. Republicans make up approximately half of the country. Laugh at Rush Limbaugh, but respect the game: this motherfucker’s got sway. So we need to ask ourselves, “Who is Rush Limbaugh?”

Let’s start by getting over our squeamishness. No one likes being called a slut, but it’s just a word. It’s not the verbal equivalent of burning a cross in Ms. Fluke’s yard. Feel free to get horrified if you’ve never called anyone a slut, a whore, a dick, a pussy, a whale-cock, a skank, or any variation thereof. Your wounded pride and Rush Limbaugh’s maid will buy you hell of a buzz, but nothing else.

This is not to excuse what Rush said. He slandered a woman because she disagreed with him. In so doing, he bullied her and impugned the character of women like her (women who use birth control. Who, by the way, are like 90% of women. Have I mentioned, Fuck Rush Limbaugh?). But the problem is his hatefulness and his bullying, not his language. Watch for the Republicans to make this shift. “Sure, Rush called a woman a slut, but Bill Maher called Sarah Palin a cunt.” Maher is talking about Palin; Limbaugh is talking about women. I don’t care about dirty words, and I suspect you don’t either. I just called Rush Limbaugh a motherfucker, and I don’t mean he actually had sex with his mother. From what I understand, they mostly did oral.

But we’re getting sidetracked. Who is Rush Limbaugh? He’s a gaping asshole. But that’s not really fair. Obviously, he’s an asshole. He’ll tell you he’s an asshole. He’s a morbidly obese pill junkie who lectures people about personal restraint. He’s been divorced three times, and he lectures us about traditional marriage. Him using Viagra (covered by insurance) is A-OK, but if a woman wants insurance to pay for birth control (which is a better way of reducing abortion than overturning Roe vs. Wade) she is a slut. You could walk in on him blowing a donkey, and he’d accuse you of blowing a donkey.

This is where Rush Limbaugh gets special. He doesn’t care. I often listen to Rush Limbaugh, and I’m sure I’m not the only liberal who likes to raise his blood pressure as he’s driving to work. (Liberals, for whatever reason, drive to work from noon to 3.) His callers don’t converse with him, they say “Dittos” or, in extreme cases, “Mega-dittos.” Senator Al Franken (D. MN), in his previous career, called them “Didiots.” For you youngsters, dittos are copies—the assignments your teachers gave you in school, but they were blue and got you a little high if you sniffed them. These people wanted to be copies of Rush Limbaugh.

And who wouldn’t? He may be a fucker, but he’s the American dream. He’s fat, he’s mean, and he shoves people around. He doesn’t live a remotely Christian life, but hundreds of thousands of Christians hold him up as a model. His partner in sex-crime, Sean Hannity, routinely asks President Obama, in the exact same tone that a petulant sixteen year old scolds his mom, “What part of American exceptionalism do you not understand?” To which I would reply, “How an adult can believe in it.”

American exceptionalism, for those of you in the dark, is the theory of things. Specifically, things that come from America are better than things that come from the rest of the world. You want me to be more specific than that? Sorry, not happening. American things are better than your things. Suck it, Ireland. Seriously, no one who is functionally literate can honestly believe in American eceptionalism.

Before you hammer and sickle me, let me say: I love, love, love America. We’re the land of revolution, of religious freedom, of first in flight, Thomas Edison, of Hollywood, Martin Luther King, of the microchip. We are, I believe, the first country to elect one if it’s own racial minorities as president. You say America, I think Abe Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, FDR, Walt Whitman, Mark Twain, Muhammad Ali, Duke Ellington, Woody Guthrie, The Kentucky Wildcats, Leadbelly, and Bob Fucking Dylan. We can more than hold our own in literature, politics, music, movies, and history. But none of these people or things are great because they’re American. They’re just great. And they happen to be American. But according to the afternoon radio hall-monitors (“radiots” as Al Franken didn’t say) that’s not good enough.

You can’t just believe that America is great because it does great things. For them, everything America does is great because America is America. Call it dumb, call it circular, but you can’t call it rare. This is the Republican Party as of right now. We can blow smoke in your face. We can call you a slut for having sex and then ask for you to give us a sex tape, so we can jerk off to you slutting around. Meanwhile, we call ourselves Christians in the least interesting version of the word. Is there hypocrisy there? No. Because this is Rush’s version of exceptionalism.

Rush Limbaugh is an asshole. So are you. So am I. It’s because we’ve bought into the idea of American exceptionalism. We can do whatever we want. It will never change until we do battle with the final truth that Limbaugh and Hannity don’t want you to hear: America doesn’t give value to you—you give value to America.

We need to resist the dickening of America. The problem isn’t that half the country prefers Romney/Santorum/Gingrich/White Candidate D to Obama. Some people don’t like Obama and God bless them. The problem is that much of the country thinks they deserve the president they want because they are Americans (and people who disagree with them don’t count). It’s not that Rush Limbaugh is a selfish asshole—it’s that he’s turning America into a land of selfish assholes.

But, hey, I’ve given Rush a hard time. In the spirit of making peace, I’ll offer the following. He called Sandra Fluke a slut and made much of her “recreational activities”, which I assume means taking birth control. Here’s a video that talks about his recreational activities, about the pills he likes to take.





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