Random Observations on a Minor Miracle in Alabama

1. Right after the 2016 election nightmare, I wrote, "It's time for Democrats to stop trying to appeal to a white demographic that constantly turns against it and to do everything possible to energize the non-white vote." What last night's win in the Alabama Senate race proved is that the non-white vote is energized, and it was fostered by an active, engaged Democratic Party and other organizations in a massive get-out-the-vote effort that specifically targeted African Americans in Alabama. The campaign of Doug Jones coordinated with several groups, giving them the resources needed to knock on thousands of doors and make nearly a million phone calls.

Democrats need to understand that the black vote has now saved them in Alabama as it did in Virginia. It's time to go even further and, to continue the quote above, "that means, in as many cases as it is possible, nominating and running non-white candidates." African Americans, and especially African American women, are trying to save this country from the stupidity of our inexhaustible white ignorance. It's time to center the concerns of non-white communities in the Democratic Party and not just ask them to vote, time and again, without those things being addressed.

2. As I've also said repeatedly, fuck the white working class. Fuck them. When their needs cross with those of the non-white working class voters you're courting, then great. And you know what? Most of those needs do cross because they are class-based. They need health care, poverty programs, jobs programs, decent education. Democrats keep wanting to pretend that racist fucknuts can be appealed to based on class. It's a comforting lie that is proven to be bullshit time and again. Roy Moore got 68% of the white vote, and that motherfucker was a wretched candidate before it was revealed he finger-fucked a 14 year-old. This country doesn't belong exclusively to white people anymore. The Republicans are fighting a desperate battle to try to maintain that white dominance. They will lose.

So no more fucking speeches about how we "understand" the pain of the white working class. It's up to the the white working class to fucking get that Democrats are the only ones who give a shit about their pain and economic hardship. And no more fucking articles about dumb fucks who are clinging to Donald Trump. They are dumb fucks. Let them drown in their stupidity for a few minutes before we throw them the life preserver.

3. Let's make sure we have some perspective here. Until the allegations of sexual assault on a minor and openly predatory behavior towards underage girls were revealed, Republican Roy Moore was going to win this race despite being a racist, homophobic, Christian extremist dickhead who has no respect for the Constitution. Even though Doug Jones was a great candidate who might have had an infinitesimal chance, Moore is a fucking nutzoid pro-lifer and no amount of compassion towards people outside the womb was going to overcome that. Yes, Jones might very well have won, but he only won by 1.5% last night and that was after the skeevy allegations against Moore came out.

4. Fight for every goddamn seat. Go for the fuckin' throat. Take these bastards down. Play the ground game. Go for the people who couldn't give a flea fart about what's being said on Twitter. IRL beats online every time. And build the right coalitions, ones that prominently feature the people who keep rescuing America's stupid ass despite the best efforts of white people to fuck it all up.

(Yes, obviously there's a large number of white working class voters who are liberal, just as there are conservative non-whites. Your objection is noted.)

(Correction: An earlier version of this said that Moore received 92% of the white vote. That was wrong and based on early exit polls. It was 68%. Still disgraceful, just not completely horrifying. Thanks to rude reader Rose for making sure I'm not putting out fake news.)


Alabama Goddam

In Birmingham, Alabama, Kelly Ingram Park is filled with statues. It's quite a stunning place, if you've never been. Along with large statues of Martin Luther King and other civil rights icons, there's one of four girls, representing the four who were killed in the 1963 bombing at the 16th Street Baptist Church, which is right there at the northwest corner of the park.

Other statues are even more moving. A water cannon is pointed at two cowering teenagers, as a reminder of how the police and authorities, under the leadership of Bull Connor, had no problem hurting kids. And there's this one:

Obviously, it represents the dogs that were used to intimidate and attack civil rights protesters. You can walk between them, and it's an eerie feeling, even in stillness, to do so.

Alabama's legacy is one of abject hatred of non-white people. And, despite the public displays that recognize that legacy, the hatred continues to this day. We can see it in the repugnant poverty that many African Americans are forced to live in all over Alabama, poverty that has led to third-world conditions and diseases. We see it in voter i.d. laws that are targeting black and Hispanic Alabamians who have less access to such i.d.'s or the transportation and funds needed to get one.

Unless some small miracle happens, Alabama, a mostly white, mostly Republican state, will elect Roy Moore, a man who, disgusting, disqualifying, and illegal sexual proclivities aside, believes that life was more civilized during the time of slavery, a man who believes that the country would be better off if the amendments to the Constitution ended at the Bill of Rights, thus leaving out the end of slavery, as well as women's right to vote and, ironically, the election of senators by popular vote. He attacks LGBT people with regularity, calling for homosexuality to be illegal and to reverse same sex marriage and rules allowing gays to serve in the military. Hell, his positions on his campaign website are barely as complex as a bumper sticker on some jerk's car. And he has broken his oath of office multiple times already.

Alabama believes, like many states in the South before it, that it has gotten past its horrific heritage, from slavery to lynchings and Jim Crow. But it hasn't. It's just come up with quieter ways to decimate and hinder the non-white population.  Even though there are lots of good people there of all races, of all economic classes, Alabama's organizing principle is still oppression of those who would challenge a straight, white, male power structure. It is more important to Alabamians to uphold that than it is to elect an accused child molester.  Doug Jones should be revered as a hero, instantly electable, for his role in prosecuting two of the perpetrators of the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church. Voting in Jones, the Democrat, would be a way of saying that Alabama is ready to move beyond the past. But it most definitely is not.

I'd say that Alabama needs to reflect. I'd say that Alabama needs to evolve. But it won't until demographic changes wreck that white hegemony. Until then, Alabama is a lost state, a Flying Dutchman of our racist past, damned to remind us again and again of who we really are as a country, demanding all of us to do better than Alabama.


Democrats Must Unceasingly Call on Donald Trump to Resign.

The exclamation point at the end of all the discussions about the sexual predators in powerful positions, all the rapists and gropers and masturbators, all the harassers, all their victims, so many victims, goddamnit, at the end of that is the President of the United States. Simply put, the progress being made by the "Silence Breakers," as Time magazine called the women speaking out, is tempered by an obvious statement:

Donald Trump has to go because of the credible allegations against him by more than a dozen women.

What Trump is accused of is worse than what Senator Al Franken is resigning from the Senate over, with actions ranging from forced kissing to genital grabbing to the rape of his then-wife Ivana. It should simply be a constant refrain from Democrats that the president likely committed sexual assault repeatedly, that he is unfit for office because of this, and that he needs to step down now.

Yeah, I get your Russia boners and your desire to see Trump frogmarched out and jailed for what will inevitably be money-laundering with a secret sauce of treason. But that's complicated shit. It takes a lot of work to get people to understand complicated shit. So do it the easy way. Go with the sex stuff. Do you think for a second anyone would have given two shits if Bill Clinton had lied under oath about his investment in a land deal? Hell, no. They understood because he lied about blow jobs.

(And let's remember that this bloated, moldy, deranged tangerine of a president paraded President Clinton's accusers before the cameras and before Hillary Clinton at a debate. Seriously, fuck everything about Trump, his family, his ancestors, and his descendants.)

Besides, even out of office, Trump can still be prosecuted. I guarantee that New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is licking his lips to get a shot at Trump.

So task number one for Democrats every day, every goddamn day, needs to be calling out Donald Trump as a perpetrator of sexual assault. Every day, they need to call on him to resign, like Al Franken, like Anthony Weiner, like John Conyers. Don't give a fucking inch. And every chance they have to bring it up, they should. And every time they can confront him right to his stupid fucking face, they should. Make it fucking inescapable. Make Republicans have to either agree or actively deny that Trump did the shit he's accused of. Grind those fuckers down.

We are in the midst of a genuine reckoning for toxic masculinity. Things are going to get even uglier as we go along, and, yeah, some things will not seem nearly as bad as others. It's likely that there will be false accusations, but that's what happens when you've kept something silent for years and the floodgates finally open. And while it's easy to make this a political calculation (get rid of Franken so that you have the moral high ground to go after Trump and skeevy teen fondler Roy Moore), I can't help but think about the women whose careers, political or otherwise, were stunted or hindered by the men who have done this shit.

Today people are bitching about Franken's resignation, saying that Democrats don't fight like Republicans. Maybe not, but howzabout instead we fight like we're right?


Other Terrible Jobs Hope Hicks Does for Donald Trump

Man-sized carbuncle and former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski has a book coming out that he co-authored about his time working on the 2016 election. No doubt, it's filled with so many blow jobs for his former boss that his lips are chapped and bloody and he's had enough protein to last for months. But one of the weirder things that leaked from the book is that Donald Trump's communications director and loyal lackey Hope Hicks would steam Trump's suits while he wore them, including "She’d steam the jacket first and then sit in a chair in front of him and steam his pants," a job that sounds so awful that you'd just need to drink entire mini-bars of whiskey to forget that you degraded yourself that much for a terrible human being.

Of course, then there are her other jobs:

1. Denture glue check before Trump goes out to speak. Hicks is always ready with the Polident for the president's shiny chompers. She apparently failed today.

2. Melania wrangler. Hicks has to run interference whenever the First Lady tries to escape with Barron. Emergency tranq gun available.

3. Tie knotter. Hicks must make sure that all of Trump's ties are absurdly long and dangle right over his dick so he can hide that he gets a tiny erection whenever he's near a microphone or hears his name on the TV.

4. Eyebrow crafter. How does Trump maintain that Brezhnev-like spikiness in those mini-manes over his beady, inbred eyes? Lots of mousse and spit applied by Hicks.

5. Scalp stitcher. Whenever Trump has worked too hard on the swish of his implanted hair, his paper-thin scalp will tear. Hicks is responsible for stitching it whenever it starts bleeding.

6. Calming Eric down. Ivanka and Donald, Jr.'s idiot brother can sometimes get very upset when no one will tell him any classified secrets. Hicks must distract him with cheese and a sock monkey until he stops crying.

7. Taint powderer. Hicks keeps a puff of talc in her purse so that if Donald proclaims that his taint is feeling sweaty, she can gently powder the space between his balls and anus. She has to fight with Donald, Jr. sometimes for the right to do this.

8. Tiffany talker. If Tiffany calls, somebody's gotta fuckin' talk to her.

9. McDonald's runner. Now that Trump's loyal bodyguard is gone, Hicks has to make sure that Trump's gaping maw is constantly filled with as much Fillet o' Fish as that bastard can stuff in there.

10. Ivanka guard. Hicks makes sure that Trump is never alone with his oldest daughter because, really, who needs more of those goddamn photos of him groping his little girl.

11. Fall guy.


A Relevant Tale from the Recent Rude Past: Directing a Rape Scene

(Today is my birthday, and so I get to be a little more indulgent than usual by telling you a story. Oh, and if you wanna give me anything, join my Patreon.)

About five years ago, I was directing a production of The Conduct of Life by Maria Irene Fornes. It is one of my favorite plays by one of my favorite playwrights, but it is some dark, dark shit involving a military man in an unnamed Central American country who is a torturer, his wife, and a young teenage girl he has kidnapped and is keeping as a sex slave in their basement. I wanted to convey the horror the girl, Nina, experiences without being exploitative, but the play does contain her on-stage rape.

I had worked with the actress playing Nina before, and so we trusted each other. The theatre was a small black box and that part of the set, Nina's room, including her small bed, was fairly close to the audience. I talked through some ideas about the scene with Erica and Ken (who was playing the officer). When it was time to put that moment together in rehearsal, I cleared the theatre of everyone but me, the actors, and Amy, the stage manager.

We started by figuring out how to do this, how the actors should be positioned, and how graphic and violent it should be, making sure they felt about as at ease as they could. Then the actors did the scene, which involves the officer telling Nina that he does this because he loves her. Like I said, it's a fucked-up but incredibly potent play. When they got to the end, we were all silent for a moment until I asked Erica how she was doing. Ever the professional, she said that it didn't feel like it worked. And she was honest about how traumatic it felt for her. (Before casting her, I had asked if she was okay with the part, but I never asked her about any experiences she might have had and I still wasn't going to. Not my business.)

We all decided at that moment that what we were doing didn't make artistic sense, and that it was right on top of the audience. We decided that we felt uncomfortable in creating a scene that was so startling that it would take power away from the entirety of the play (which is also about the way that women of different classes treat each other). Mostly, though, I didn't want to force Erica to do something that I thought could be done in a way that honored the play and the actors.

So I said, "What if Nina is a doll?" I found a child-sized stuffed, faceless dummy in the prop room and brought it out. We did the scene again with the officer raping the Nina doll while Nina stood on the side, distanced from her own body, but still reacting in muted pain and shock. We all realized that this was a far more powerful way to do this scene and it ended up that we did the entire play with Erica sitting and standing near the doll. When a friendly character tried to comfort Nina, it was the doll that was embraced, not the human actor.

The point here is that you don't have to hurt women to make art. Sure, I could have pushed Erica to continue to do a scene that she obviously felt was too much. I could have justified it with the script, a play written by a woman. Erica would have done it because she is a brave and dedicated actor who said she was fine doing it during auditions. And I'm not saying that sometimes the graphic stuff isn't absolutely necessary. I've directed shows with sex, nudity, and all kinds of violence on stage.

But what made me step back in this case was that the power dynamic involved in forcing an actress to do a rape scene is only a few steps removed from, well, a kind of sexual assault. And there was no goddamn way that I was going to victimize an actress while directing a play that was an attack on the rape culture that creates the conditions for the victimization. There was no goddamn way that I wasn't going to respect Erica as an artist herself.

In the end, the play was a success, and audiences found the use of the doll heartbreaking (although, admittedly, there were a few titters now and then). Erica now does national commercials and is on her way to becoming a successful performer. And, in this case, no one had to be exploited or harmed or harassed.

Is that really all that difficult to ask of artists?


A Simple Question for Alabamians: Would You Hire Roy Moore?

Look, look, we all get it, Alabama. You really, really care about ending abortion. Abortion is more important than anything else in the entire Senate campaign for a really big percentage of you. It's more important than jobs (and, to be fair, the state has only a 3.6% unemployment rate). It's more important than the rest of health care and, well, obviously, education, (both of which, to be fair, place Alabama near the bottom of the nation). It's more important than whether or not Republican Roy Moore finger-fucked a 14-year-old girl through her panties while he took her hand and used it fondle himself. We totally get where you're at. We may not like it. We may think it's about one of the most viciously backwards, dumbass redneck, fucked-up things we've ever heard, but at least you're clear about how deep a pile of shit you're willing to stand in because you think you're protecting "babies."

And, today, you even got the criminal president to go all in on Moore. This morning, Trump not only tweeted his support for Moore (and, fuck you, if it's under Trump's name, it's Trump's), but he called Moore to offer encouragement by saying, according to Moore, "Go get 'em, Roy," which is what Moore told himself in the food court at the Dothan mall. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a man whose dick gets semi-stiff when he guts medical care for the poor, has backed off his call for Moore to get out of the race and now says he'll "let the people of Alabama make the call" on whether an accused pedophile and proud lawbreaker should be in the Senate. All for tax cuts, man, all for tax cuts.

Let's be clear here, Alabama. Moore ain't on trial. In posts and tweets supporting Moore, his idiot followers are acting like Moore is facing a jury. Moore is running for an elected office. The worst thing that can happen to him is that he doesn't get that office. No one (as of now) is saying he oughta be arrested for sexual assault and for drooling over high school girls at JC Penney and, well, the high school. Roy Moore doesn't have to be guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in order to lose the election. These are political decisions, not judicial ones.

But, yeah, you don't have to say it again, Alabama's Moore voters. Abortion is far more important. Fetus protection outweighs the harm Moore likely did to an already-born human girl. That's how you roll, and it's disgusting and perverse and you should be ashamed, but you're not. That shit's a given at this point. You're proudly voting for Moore or against Doug Jones. You are so goddamn please with your ignorance that if someone said that Moore ass-fucked a herd of goats, you'd holler, "What did the goats have to say? Nothing, I bet."

Still, I said I had a question for you, Alabama. And it's a pretty simple one: Would you hire Roy Moore? Not for Senate. Would you hire Roy Moore to work, say, in your restaurant? Perhaps as a greeter at Cracker Barrel? No, let's go even further here.

Let us say, and why not, that you need some work done on your house. You want to build a new back porch for you and the wife and the kids and expand an archway in the front hall, get a little more light in there. You talk to two contractors. Now, one is gonna do a great job. He's gonna get everything done just fine, except he costs just a bit more than the other contractor. Contractor number 2 has come in under the cost of the first contractor and he's a badass when it comes to archways. Man, you really wanna go with the second contractor, except you heard that he likes to hit on teenage girls and he might have even had some relations with some really young ones. This guy who is gonna come and go while the project is happening, entering your home, perhaps using the bathroom, perhaps peeking into your daughter's room, perhaps peeking at your daughter. Are you okay with that? I mean, if you don't hire him because of these things you've heard, you're not calling the cops. You're just hiring the first guy. Is it worth a few bucks?

Sure, though, you wanna come back and tell me that if you heard one contractor liked abortion and the other didn't, that'd tilt it for you. But would it? When it comes to letting someone like Moore hang around your kids?

The answer to that question lets you know how much you actually give a shit about the safety of your real and out-of-the-womb family, not just the theoretical fetuses of the future.


An All-Encompassing Terrible Bill: GOP Not Even Hiding the Class Warfare Anymore

Sometimes, I think I can put myself into the mindset of a Republican (or any politician) proposing or voting for something fucked up. Even though I thought they were utterly wrong to support the Iraq war, I could say, "Okay, it's possible that you could delude yourself into believing that Iraq has WMDs and we should do something about it." When it came to repealing the Affordable Care Act, I could find some remote, thin thread of logic that said, "Well, it's possible that you can be so goddamn full of shit that you believe the states or the 'market' should take care of people's health." Back in the 1980s, as a much younger (but no less liberal) man, I could see how the allure of trickle-down economics, which anyone who spent even five minutes listening to rich people knew was total bullshit, could lead to it being passed. I can see the internal, insane, fundamentalist religious logic of being anti-choice when it comes to abortion. I get why some people are such pussies that they think a military build-up and occasional show of force make us safer. All of it, all the shitty, vile things that (mostly) Republicans have supported had some grain, some microdot of sense within the fucked realm of conservative ideology. Sometimes it takes leaps and stretches of my brain that no sane person should have to make, but that's never stopped me before.

But, try as I might, I can't conjure that dark sorcery when it comes to the GOP tax bill that the House approved and that, with some differences, the Senate is about to vote on.

Let's put aside the major fuckery of the bill, that in order to just need 50 votes to pass, fuckery is done with the tax cuts in that they expire on middle- and lower-income Americans in 2027 (and some don't get any tax cuts at all, ever). Put aside the breathtaking hypocrisy that even conservative estimates put the cost of the bill at over a trillion dollars more added to the debt and yet it's still supported by supposed deficit hawks (an argument they gave up when they voted to cut taxes during the Iraq war). Even put aside the savagery of the Senate bill in its elimination of the ACA insurance mandate, which would drive up the cost of health insurance, wreck the marketplaces, and cause more people to go into debt when they realize that, oh, shit, we should have gotten insurance before Dad needed that emergency appendectomy. Hell, put aside the ending of deductions for state and local income taxes, something that is a direct attack on more Democratic states where those taxes are higher.

Instead, let's look at some of the less extravagant fuckery of the bill:

The bill would fuck Puerto Rico like a cat in heat covered in kibble and catnip tossed into the pound. Yeah, both versions propose "a 20 percent excise tax on goods imported from Puerto Rico to the mainland United States." Both the mayor of San Juan and Puerto Rico's governor have said that it would be another roundhouse kick to the face of the island that is, despite Trump's best efforts, still in existence and still part of the US.

The House version is like a quality blow job for the nutzoid religious right, so tight, just wet enough, not too much but not too little tongue. It changes the tax laws so that churches can maintain their tax exempt status while they engage in explicit political activity, like supporting child molesters for Senate. It sneaks in language declaring that a fetus is a person for the sake of starting and taking a deduction on a college savings account, thus setting up a court case that could end up with abortion being outlawed because gotta get them cell clusters some rights.

I've already gone into how the thing dicks over colleges and graduate students.

And this is not to mention how Donald Trump is such a fucking liar about the bill not benefiting him and his terrible family of assholes, as well as the asshole families of every ass in Congress voting for this.

And where the fuck are the Democrats? Why aren't they out in full force, crowding the airwaves, on a message that Republicans are inciting class warfare? Because that's what this is. It is literally taking money from people making $75,000 or less and giving it to millionaires. The GOP isn't hiding that. It's a built-in feature.

But we only hear the cries of "Class warfare" when people want to take money from the rich to do shit like fund schools, build roads, and other shit that actually creates jobs and doesn't just siphon money away from those things for "shareholders" and corporate executives and fake real estate moguls who become destructive presidents.

There is literally no reason to vote for this bill unless you are determined to make your donors happy. And even I can't get my deranged mind around that shit.