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Der Führer Trump hits new low with attack on physically disabled man

Updated below

A screen grab shows Repugnican Tea Party “presidential” candidate Donald Trump on Tuesday publicly mocking a New York Times reporter who has a congenital physical disability. The reporter’s “crime”? Telling the truth instead of supporting the dangerously fascistic Trump’s bold-faced lies against yet another already oppressed minority group. Reports USA Today: “Referring to Serge Kovaleski while on the campaign trail in South Carolina, Trump told a rally: ‘You’ve got to see this guy.’ He then ridiculed Kovaleski’s appearance by bending his wrists and jerking his arms around. Kovaleski has a chronic condition that affects his joints called arthrogryposis.” Kovaleski is pictured below, on the left.

Ken Belson y Serge Kovaleski (izquierda) atienden una recepción relacionada con el Día de la Tierra en el hotel Algonquin el 21 de abril de 2010 en Nueva York (Neilson Barnard/Getty Images).

Getty images

It should come as no shock to see Donald Trump make fun of a man with a congenital physical disability during a “presidential” speech. (Video of this wonderful event is here.)

The Nazis, after all — and Trump, unshockingly,  is of German descent — murdered tens of thousands of human beings with disabilities in a program that later was dubbed “Action T4.” As Wikipedia explains:

The program ran officially from September 1939 to August 1941, during which the recorded 70,273 people were killed at various extermination centers located at psychiatric hospitals in Germany and Austria. Several rationales for the program have been offered, including eugenics, natural selection, racial hygiene, cost effectiveness and pressure on the welfare budget. After the formal end date of the program, physicians in German and Austrian facilities continued many of the practices that had been instituted under Action T4, until the defeat of Germany in 1945. The unofficial continuation of the policy led to additional deaths by medicine and similar means, resulting in 93,521 beds “emptied” by the end of 1941. Historians estimate that twice the official number of T4 victims might have perished before the end of the war, exceeding 200,000.

So as not to be a hypocrite, and to provide full disclosure, I myself have used the term “fucktard” (and other iterations of “retard”). Many times. But my first job out of college was working with mentally and physically disabled individuals, and while I probably shouldn’t use the term “fucktard” to denote a person of low intelligence (who has not actually been diagnosed clinically with mental retardation, let me add, importantly), I don’t make fun of people with actual physical or intellectual disabilities, because to do so is to show a stunning lack of empathy for another human being who has challenges that oneself does not.

And, of course, I am not running to be president of the United States of America.

There long has been no way in hell that I would or could support fascist Führer wannabe Donald Trump in any way, and to some degree I suppose that I’ve become immune to the venom and bile that has been spewing freely from Trump’s pie hole for months now, but this latest Trumpism should be the one that finally takes him down.

The Amazon.com series “The Man in the High Castle,” based upon a Philip K. Dick dystopian novel that envisions a scenario in which Germany and Japan actually won World War II and divvied up the United States between them, is timely. (Just last night I watched the first episode. It even makes rather chilling reference to eugenics, which the Nazi Germans occupying the United States are still practicing routinely.)

Here in Donald Trump is a patently fascist presidential candidate (of German blood, appropriately) openly mocking, in a “presidential” speech, a man who has a congenital physical disability.

How will the masses respond to this?

How will the masses respond to such utterly shameless bullying? I mean, other groups of people Trump has attacked — “illegals” from south of the border, Muslims, women, et. al. — can, for the most part, defend themselves against Trump’s bigotry to at least some degree.

But attacking those with disabilities?

Really?

How low, exactly, can Donald Trump go?

Should the masses actually allow Donald Trump to sit in the Oval Office, I can guarantee you this: In the future, if we even still have anything remotely resembling a democracy left, presidential candidates might be asked: If you could go back in time, would you kill Baby Donald in order to prevent the crimes against humanity that he perpetrated?

The Germans claimed that they didn’t know what Adolf Hitler was all about until it was too late. Bullshit. The signs were all there all along.

With Donald Trump, similarly, the signs are all there.

If we actually allow this “man” to be president — whether we actually elect him or whether we just allow him to steal the White House, like we just allowed George W. Bush & Co. to do in 2000* — we won’t be able to claim, with any shred of truth at all, that we didn’t know.*

P.S. If you think that noting Trump’s German ancestry is out of bounds, well, apparently Trump possibly has had a problem with it himself, or at least his father apparently had a problem with it. Notes Wikipedia:

Trump’s paternal grandparents were German immigrants; Trump’s grandfather, Frederick Trump (né Friedrich Trump), was a successful Klondike Gold Rush restaurateur. In his 1987 book, The Art of the Deal, Donald Trump incorrectly claimed that Frederick Trump was originally called Friedrich Drumpf and of Swedish origin, an assertion previously made by Fred Trump for many years. Trump later acknowledged his German ancestry and served as grand marshal of the 1999 German-American Steuben Parade in New York City.

More disclosure: A while ago I participated in the Genographic Project, and my genes (if I interpret my results correctly) are a match for the dominant genetic populations first of the United Kingdom and second of Germany, so it seems quite possible if not probable that I have at least some German blood in me, as do many if not even most white Americans. That said, the Germans always have rubbed me the wrong way, even Nazism aside.

Update: Donald Trump has issued a lying, cowardly statement denying that he said/did what he said/did.

In the video I linked to above, Trump clearly says to his audience, “You gotta see this guy” (Serge Kovaleski, whom he has just called a “poor guy”) — this certainly indicates that he has met or at least seen Kovaleski, at least in a picture — and then Trump immediately mimics the distorted voice and gestures of someone with a physical and/or intellectual disability.

Yet now Trump alternately claims that he’s never laid eyes on Kovaleski and that “Despite having one of the all-time great memories, I certainly do not remember him” and “Serge Kovaleski must think a lot of himself if he thinks I remember him from decades ago – if I ever met him at all, which I doubt I did.”

The Washington Post has noted that “Kovaleski covered Trump while reporting for the New York Daily News between 1987 and 1993, a tumultuous period for Trump in which he struggled through several financial setbacks,” casting further doubt on Trump’s claim that he has no idea what Kovaleski even looks like. (Trump strikes me as the kind of individual who certainly would do opposition research; not only does he have the paranoia and the egomaniacal grandiosity, but he has the mean$ to have his henchpeople do this for him.)

Trump also took the page right out of the fascist/right-wing playbook in which he blames his victim; he proclaimed that Kovaleski “should stop using his disability to grandstand.”

Yes, it’s Kovaleski’s fault that Trump very, very apparently made fun of him and his congenital condition. Not only has Trump now attacked Kovaleski twice — Kovaleski, to my knowledge, has made no public statement, by the way (the New York Times has) — but Trump bizarrely has attacked the New York Times at length, criticizing its fiscal management and questioning its ethics, its quality and its relevance, which has absofuckinglutely nothing to do with the fact that Donald Trump very, very apparently recently publicly mocked a man for his congenital physical disability during a “presidential” appearance.

What started this whole fracas, of course, is Trump’s colossal falsehood that on television he saw “thousands” of Muslims in New Jersey celebrating the destruction of the World Trade Center even as the twin towers burned and fell. This is a right-wing über-fabrication meant to further the wingnuts’ anti-Muslim agenda, of course.

But Donald Trump is too much of a fucking liar and a fucking coward to admit that he lied or, at the very minimum, very carelessly misspoke about “thousands” of Muslims celebrating in New Jersey on September 11, 2001. If he didn’t outright lie, which I think he most likely did, then he certainly didn’t care about the facts, the truth, because his overriding objective was to bash Muslims for personal political gain, not to tell the truth. Very presidential!

As I wrote above, we are seeing ample signs about what kind of “man” Donald Trump is. We ignore these flashing lights and sirens at our own peril.

And when I call Donald Trump a fascist, I mean it in the dictionary-definition sense of the term, not as a slam, although it’s perfectly fine with me if it’s also taken as a slam. (See Slate.com’s Jamelle Bouie on the topic of Donald Trump being a textbook fascist.)

Fuck the fascist Trump and the neo-Nazis who support him. They won’t turn the United States of America into another Nazi Germany without a fight.

P.S. I stand corrected; Business Insider reports:

… [Serge] Kovaleski told The [Washington] Post that he is confident that Trump remembers him and his condition. Kovaleski met with Trump several times when the reporter was covering Trump while working at the New York Daily News from 1987 to 1993.

“The sad part about it is, it didn’t in the slightest bit jar or surprise me that Donald Trump would do something this low-rent, given his track record,” Kovaleski told the Post.

The New York Times, where Kovaleski is currently a reporter, also had a response to the incident: “We think it’s outrageous that he would ridicule the appearance of one of our reporters,” a Times spokeswoman told Politico and confirmed to Business Insider. …

*Of course, after George W. Bush brazenly blatantly stole the 2000 presidential election, it couldn’t have come as a surprise that he would not protect Americans on September 11, 2001, or in late August 2005 (when Hurricane Katrina struck), and nor could it have come as a surprise that the “man” who had refused to accept that his opponent Al Gore had won the 2000 presidential election would go on to start the illegal, immoral, unjust and unprovoked Vietraq War, in which thousands of our troops died for nothing more than the treasonous war profiteering of the treasonous BushCheneyCorp and in which many, many more innocent Iraqi civilians, tens of thousands of them, have died — and which, of course, contributed to the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which has caused even more death and destruction.

There are terms for these high crimes: treason, war crimes, crimes against humanity, etc.

That enough Americans not nearly long ago just enough allowed the fascist George W. Bush to rise to power anti-democratically should give pause to those who claim that Donald Trump couldn’t become president.

He probably won’t, but to ignore the possibility entirely is dangerous — and, dare I say, probably even treasonous.

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‘SNL’ wasn’t funny on Saturday night (because fascism, racism aren’t funny)

Larry David May Get $5,000 For Yelling

It’s chilling that “Saturday Night Live” relentlessly makes fun of the one presidential candidate who would benefit the highest number of people were he to sit in the Oval Office, yet chooses as its guest host the one who probably is the most fascistic. Above, Larry David, who has just portrayed the “unelectable” Bernie Sanders unfairly unflatteringly again in “SNL’s” “cold open,” yells “Trump’s a racist!” during Donald Trump’s monologue — because Trump’s real-life racism and race-baiting, and further afflicting the already afflicted and further comforting the already comfortable, are funny, you see.

I try to have at least somewhat of a thick skin, and I think it’s generally important that one’s own cows that aren’t all that sacred, but “Saturday Night Live” went way too far on Saturday night.

No, it’s not that you can make fun of the right wing (yes, I still suspect that Tina Fey’s Emmy-Award-winning rendition of Sarah Palin on “SNL” hurt the McCain-Palin ticket in 2008) but never the left wing.

It’s that when you make fun of the right wing, you’re usually making fun of the rich and/or the powerful, of those who routinely afflict the already downtrodden. The targets of such parody deserve their comeuppance, albeit only their comedic comeuppance (which is usually the most comeuppance that they’ll ever receive here in the United States of America, where “justice” is but a word).

But when you make fun of the left wing, unless you explicitly are making fun of limousine liberals (who are, in my book, because of their rank hypocrisy, very fair game [and who sure love fellow limo liberal Billary Clinton]), you usually are making fun of those who already are downtrodden and/or of those who are standing up for the downtrodden. And that’s not humor. That’s bullying.

And the bullying began right at “SNL’s” opening, in which Larry David, apparently high from his first portrayal of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders on “SNL,” returned for another portrayal of him, this time in a mock-up of MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow’s Democratic presidential candidates’ forum (which aired on Friday night), which, we are told right out of the gate, means “a debate that no one watches.” Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! (Actually, Rachel Maddow’s viewership, especially among younger adults, apparently is doing just fine. But if we say that there is no audience for left-of-center media content, that makes it true, right?)

Last time on “SNL,” Larry David’s great Bernie Sanders joke was that Bernie Sanders owns one pair of underwear! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!  This time, the hilarious Larry-David-as-Bernie-Sanders gag was that Bernie Sanders wants only your pennies — not your shiny and new pennies, but your old and nasty pennies retrieved from your vacuum cleaner, your “vacuum pennies.” Ha ha ha ha ha ha haaa!

“SNL’s” Larry David’s Bernie Sanders from Saturday night also picks from the mock Rachel Maddow an envelope (containing a question or a dare, apparently) from the far left — “so far left,” he says, “it could never be elected.” Ha ha ha ha ha ha haaaa! Because NBC will tell us commoners who is and who is not electable, you see! We mere serfs to our corporate masters cannot (and will not) be trusted with such important decisions!

Larry David has some of Bernie Sanders’ mannerisms, such as the periodic tongue swipe, down — I’ll give him that — but overall the writers of “SNL” (who are, in the end, let’s just acknowledge it, corporate whores) very apparently don’t know where to take their Sanders gags outside of portraying him as a grumpy old man (“Of course I hate you; I hate everyone,” he tells the mock Maddow on Saturday night’s show) who’s huge on austerity (replete with owning only one pair of underwear and requesting only “vacuum pennies”).

Never mind that the real-life Sanders is older and is serious (because our nation and our planet face serious challenges) but isn’t grumpy, and never mind that the real-life Sanders does not actually preach personal austerity (such as advocating the possession of only one pair of underwear, and not one penny of the hundreds of dollars that I have given him for his campaign came from a vacuum cleaner), but he does preach against corporate abuses.

But corporate abuses are A-OK to a corporation like NBC, which demonstrated the stunningly poor judgment to allow fascist presidential aspirant Donald Trump to host its show on Saturday night.

Scroll down to the bottom of Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign website’s home page and you’ll see the words “Paid for by Bernie 2016 (not the billionaires).” (Again, you won’t see any mention of “vacuum pennies”…)

Bernie Sanders isn’t a billionaire, but Donald Trump is, so which presidential aspirant does “SNL” invite as its guest host? The billionaire, of course, not the one who fights against billionaires. “SNL” invites as its host the billionaire bully, not the one who stands up to the billionaire bullies. And this fascistic slop is served up to us serfs by our corporate master NBC as “entertainment” and even “comedy.”

(And yes, Sanders and Trump are pretty equal, politically speaking. What they both have in common right now is that both of them are in the top two in the partisan presidential polling for Iowa, New Hampshire and the nation, and both lead in New Hampshire right now. [See here and here.])

I don’t use the term “fascist” lightly. I don’t use it as a slam, although it is, rightfully, a slam; I use the term in its dictionary-definition sense. A Laurence W. Britt, a political scientist, a dozen years ago listed 14 characteristics of fascism that we’ve seen in world history. Most of these characteristics are quite apparent in Donald Trump’s campaign for the White House (and already have been put into practice by the Repugnican Tea Party, if not by El Trumpo himself):

  1. Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism. From the prominent displays of flags and bunting to the ubiquitous lapel pins, the fervor to show patriotic nationalism, both on the part of the regime itself and of citizens caught up in its frenzy, was always obvious. Catchy slogans, pride in the military, and demands for unity were common themes in expressing this nationalism. It was usually coupled with a suspicion of things foreign that often bordered on xenophobia.
  2. Disdain for the importance of human rights. The regimes themselves viewed human rights as of little value and a hindrance to realizing the objectives of the ruling elite. Through clever use of propaganda, the population was brought to accept these human rights abuses by marginalizing, even demonizing, those being targeted. When abuse was egregious, the tactic was to use secrecy, denial, and disinformation.
  3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause. The most significant common thread among these regimes was the use of scapegoating as a means to divert the people’s attention from other problems, to shift blame for failures, and to channel frustration in controlled directions. The methods of choice — relentless propaganda and disinformation — were usually effective. Often the regimes would incite “spontaneous” acts against the target scapegoats, usually communists, socialists, liberals, Jews, ethnic and racial minorities, traditional national enemies, members of other religions, secularists, homosexuals, and “terrorists.” Active opponents of these regimes were inevitably labeled as terrorists and dealt with accordingly.
  4. The supremacy of the military/avid militarism. Ruling elites always identified closely with the military and the industrial infrastructure that supported it. A disproportionate share of national resources was allocated to the military, even when domestic needs were acute. The military was seen as an expression of nationalism, and was used whenever possible to assert national goals, intimidate other nations, and increase the power and prestige of the ruling elite.
  5. Rampant sexism. Beyond the simple fact that the political elite and the national culture were male-dominated, these regimes inevitably viewed women as second-class citizens. They were adamantly anti-abortion and also homophobic. These attitudes were usually codified in Draconian laws that enjoyed strong support by the orthodox religion of the country, thus lending the regime cover for its abuses.
  6. A controlled mass media. Under some of the regimes, the mass media were under strict direct control and could be relied upon never to stray from the party line. Other regimes exercised more subtle power to ensure media orthodoxy. Methods included the control of licensing and access to resources, economic pressure, appeals to patriotism, and implied threats. The leaders of the mass media were often politically compatible with the power elite. The result was usually success in keeping the general public unaware of the regimes’ excesses.
  7. Obsession with national security. Inevitably, a national security apparatus was under direct control of the ruling elite. It was usually an instrument of oppression, operating in secret and beyond any constraints. Its actions were justified under the rubric of protecting “national security,” and questioning its activities was portrayed as unpatriotic or even treasonous.
  8. Religion and ruling elite tied together. Unlike communist regimes, the fascist and proto-fascist regimes were never proclaimed as godless by their opponents. In fact, most of the regimes attached themselves to the predominant religion of the country and chose to portray themselves as militant defenders of that religion. The fact that the ruling elite’s behavior was incompatible with the precepts of the religion was generally swept under the rug. Propaganda kept up the illusion that the ruling elites were defenders of the faith and opponents of the “godless.” A perception was manufactured that opposing the power elite was tantamount to an attack on religion.
  9. Power of corporations protected. Although the personal life of ordinary citizens was under strict control, the ability of large corporations to operate in relative freedom was not compromised. The ruling elite saw the corporate structure as a way to not only ensure military production (in developed states), but also as an additional means of social control. Members of the economic elite were often pampered by the political elite to ensure a continued mutuality of interests, especially in the repression of “have-not” citizens.
  10. Power of labor suppressed or eliminated. Since organized labor was seen as the one power center that could challenge the political hegemony of the ruling elite and its corporate allies, it was inevitably crushed or made powerless. The poor formed an underclass, viewed with suspicion or outright contempt. Under some regimes, being poor was considered akin to a vice.
  11. Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts. Intellectuals and the inherent freedom of ideas and expression associated with them were anathema to these regimes. Intellectual and academic freedom were considered subversive to national security and the patriotic ideal. Universities were tightly controlled; politically unreliable faculty harassed or eliminated. Unorthodox ideas or expressions of dissent were strongly attacked, silenced, or crushed. To these regimes, art and literature should serve the national interest or they had no right to exist.
  12. Obsession with crime and punishment. Most of these regimes maintained Draconian systems of criminal justice with huge prison populations. The police were often glorified and had almost unchecked power, leading to rampant abuse. “Normal” and political crime were often merged into trumped-up criminal charges and sometimes used against political opponents of the regime. Fear, and hatred, of criminals or “traitors” was often promoted among the population as an excuse for more police power.
  13. Rampant cronyism and corruption. Those in business circles and close to the power elite often used their position to enrich themselves. This corruption worked both ways; the power elite would receive financial gifts and property from the economic elite, who in turn would gain the benefit of government favoritism. Members of the power elite were in a position to obtain vast wealth from other sources as well: for example, by stealing national resources. With the national security apparatus under control and the media muzzled, this corruption was largely unconstrained and not well understood by the general population.
  14. Fraudulent elections. Elections in the form of plebiscites or public opinion polls were usually bogus. When actual elections with candidates were held, they would usually be perverted by the power elite to get the desired result. Common methods included maintaining control of the election machinery, intimidating and disenfranchising opposition voters, destroying or disallowing legal votes, and, as a last resort, turning to a judiciary beholden to the power elite. [Bush vs. Gore, anyone?]

Fascism isn’t funny, yet “Saturday Night Live” saw fit to have fascist Donald Trump as its guest host, and apparently sought to absolve itself with yet another “funny” “joke”: Larry David, fresh off of his second stint bashing Bernie Sanders for his corporate pimp NBC, yelled from the sidelines during Trump’s opening monologue, “You’re a racist!” and “Trump’s a racist!” — because, David said, he wanted the $5,000 reward that he’d heard any studio audience member who called Trump a “racist” during the show would receive. Trump responded that as a businessman, he couldn’t hold David’s greed against him. Ha ha ha ha ha ha haaaaaaa!

Let me remind you that in June, Donald Trump stated, in his presidential announcement speech:

… When Mexico sends its people [to the United States], they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. … [“You,” I presume, would be (mostly if not entirely) white people who are “good” because they support Trump.] They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems [with them]. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people. …

Trump has yet to back down from his anti-Latino-immigrant positions, including his ludicrous call for A Great Wall along the entire border between the United States and Mexico. That link is to his presidential campaign website, which also includes this lovely little anecdote:

Most recently, an illegal immigrant from Mexico, with a long arrest record, is charged with breaking into a 64 year-old woman’s home, crushing her skull and eye sockets with a hammer, raping her, and murdering her. The Police Chief in Santa Maria says the “blood trail” leads straight to Washington. [The link is the website’s, not mine, and this is a copy and paste, so the errors are entirely the website’s.]

Yes, not only does Trump need to buy himself a competent copy editor for his campaign website, but his campaign uses rhetoric that is chillingly reminiscent of the anti-Semitic rhetoric of the fascistic Nazi Party. Trump won’t tell you of the many murders and rapes committed by American citizens, especially by white ones; no, he will only single out heinous crimes committed by the “illegal aliens” — crimes that, of course, are committed by members of many demographics, especially when you have millions of members of these demographics in the United States.

Donald Trump would have you believe, for his own personal political gain, that only those crimes that he conveniently has singled out for the xenophobic and racist — the fascistic — political persecution of one group of people are the only crimes that occur in the United States of America — or, at least, the only ones that we should focus on and worry about.

By furthering the anti-intellectualism and the pro-plutocracy of fascism by consistently unfairly and inaccurately portraying the intellectual and the anti-plutocratic presidential aspirant Bernie Sanders in an unflattering light, and by trying to make light of presidential aspirant Donald Trump’s blatantly fascistic characteristics, NBC is only helping fascism to take even further root in the United States — which, only coinkily-dinkily, I’m sure, sure further benefits a corporation like NBC.

Fascism (including its racism and xenophobia) isn’t fucking funny, and I don’t think that I can think of “Saturday Night Live” or NBC in the same light ever again.

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Documentary ‘Bully’ flawed but spurs vital conversation

Film review

review-bully-movie-image-alex

Kelby is one of the bullied students who had a strong family and friend support system in "Bully."

Alex and Kelby, above, are two of the victims of school bullying who are featured in The Weinstein Company’s documentary “Bully.” Alex, who was born prematurely, in the documentary is portrayed as being called “Fishface” and routinely physically assaulted at school and on the school bus, and Kelby left her school because of very apparently coordinated anti-lesbian discrimination. Below is 18-year-old Sawyer Rosenstein (who is not featured in “Bully”), whose school bully put him in a wheelchair when he was 12 years old. Sawyer and his family just settled with the board of the New Jersey school district for more than $4 million. In the settlement the school board denies that the school failed to protect Sawyer, even though its failure to protect him is quite fucking obvious.

The documentary “Bully” should be required viewing for every American, even those who, like me (a gay man), don’t have a son or daughter in a public school and (most likely) never will.

“Bully” is not only about how cruel and abusive some students can be toward other students, but it’s about how chronically victimized students routinely are failed by the adults in their lives who are supposed to foster and to protect them — not just by school teachers and school administrators, but also by their parents.

An assistant principal featured in “Bully” especially is clueless and worthless — she’s a baby boomer, and it’s all about the baby boomers, so there you go.

In one scene, the assistant principal forces the victim to shake the victimizer’s hand, as though that superficial action were any true solution to the long-term problem of the one student chronically bullying the other. The assistant principal in this incident apparently makes the common, unthinking person’s error in basically asserting that whenever there is a conflict, both sides must be equally guilty. (Actually, that bullshit belief just comes out of the sheer laziness to actually sort it all out and see who truly is at fault, but instead to just try to sweep it all under the carpet.)

In another scene, when a couple of parents come to the assistant principal after having viewed actual video footage of their child’s being seriously, violently bullied on the school bus, the assistant principal (again, a baby boomer) surreally manages to make it all about herself, even whipping out a photo of her grandbaby, stating that of course she cares about all of our babies (of course, the student who is being bullied is not an infant).

The assistant principal also declares that she has ridden that bus herself and that there is no problem whatsoever on the bus. Never mind the facts that there is video footage of the serious problems with violent bullying on that bus and that of course the students are going to behave themselves on the bus when the assistant principal is on board.

What the fuck? With brazenly incompetent, self-interested school administrators like these in our schools, administrators who are more interested in playing politics and in portraying a false portrait of how things are rather than actually being responsible to the students in their care, no fucking wonder bullying is such a problem.

It’s not just the school administrators, of course. The United States of America’s number one spending priority is not its schools, but is the bloated-beyond-belief military-industrial complex.

If enough Americans truly cared about what was going on inside our schools, our schools would be much, much better — including being adequately staffed so that incidents of bullying would be reduced significantly. We have the resources to greatly improve our students’ lives; it’s not a lack of resources, but it’s a lack of caring, including a nationwide public apathy that just allows the powers that be to steal our tax dollars and spend them not on what we need, such as good, safe schools, health care and environmental protection, and to take care of the least among us, but to blow our tax dollars on the military-industrial complex, which is not about defense, but which is about making filthy, treasonously rich swine even richer than they already are through such avenues as colossal military contracting waste and waging bogus wars for corporate expansion, such as how Iraq has been opened to the profiteering of Big Oil via the illegal and immoral Vietraq War.

“Bully” raises these important issues, at least indirectly, but as a documentary is flawed.

“Bully” focuses on bullying that has occurred in public schools in the Southern and Midwestern states of Iowa, Oklahoma, Mississippi and Georgia, and ignores bullying that happens elsewhere in the nation. Bullying is a national problem. My guess is that it’s significantly worse in the red states than it is in the blue states, but it happens eveywhere.

“Bully” probably focuses too much on one child, the 12-year-old Alex, who was born prematurely and who, while he’s an affable kid, is different from the others (who call him “Fishface”) and who thus is bullied. That said, Alex’s life is an excellent example of a child who has been failed by most of the adults in his life, not only by his bus driver and his draw-droppingly awful assistant principal, but even by his own father, who advises him to just fight back, even though Alex is fairly slight and probably can’t effectively fight back physically.

Alex’s father tells him that if he doesn’t fight back, his younger sister will be bullied, too — and that’s putting way too much pressure and responsibility upon a minor, and letting the adults continue in their dereliction of duty.

Even Alex’s mother, who apparently is the most genuinely concerned about him, probably should have concerned herself more about what was happening to him at school and on the school bus before she found out through the documentarians’ film footage.

Another flaw of “Bully” is that while we don’t need grotesque details, it sure would be nice to be told in more detail why, exactly, some of the victims of bullying-induced suicide took their own lives. The young man named Tyler, for example. Why was he bullied? Was he gay or suspected to be gay? In “Bully” we are told a lot about Tyler, who hanged himself in his bedroom closet at age 17, but we’re not really told about why he was bullied.

For the most part, “Bully” doesn’t tell us what to think, but lets us come to our own conclusions. The story of Ja’Maya, a black teen who says that she only brought her mother’s handgun with her on her school bus because she wanted to scare the kids who had been bullying her, reeks of racism/white supremacism as we watch yet another stupid white male, baby-boomer sheriff — who perhaps never has been a victim of bullying himself, but perhaps has been a bully his entire life (bullies are, after all, drawn to law enforcement) — declare that no amount of bullying could justify what Ja’Maya did, and we are left with the sense that if Ja’Maya were, say, a white male jock instead of a 14-year-old black female, the “criminal” “justice” system where she lives would have treated her very differently.

Kelby, the 16-year-old lesbian who is featured in “Bully” is eloquent and intelligent and strong, but “Bully” probably doesn’t say enough about the bullying that happens to gay and lesbian and non-gender-conforming students, who comprise probably the most-bullied group of students.

“Bully” should be an invitation for us not only to declare jihad upon bullying in our public schools, but to tackle the bullying that happens in our workplaces as well. In many if not even most workplaces, bullying occurs on a regular basis. The belief that adulthood in and of itself automatically erases the dynamics that we saw in our public school days is a fucking myth.

The perpetrators of bullying in the workplace know better than to get physically abusive/violent in most cases, but verbal abuse/harassment, sexual harassment/sexual abuse and the abuse of power can make the workplace just as hostile as a public school. And just like bullies in school are careful about bullying when no one in authority is present, workplace bullies most often do their deeds when there is no one who might do something about their bullying is around.

Hopefully more documentaries about bullying will be made, although after “Bully,” school administrators might be much less willing to appear on camera.

Stories of bullying abound, such as the current news story about Sawyer Rosenstein, who became paralyzed from the waist down when a bully at school punched him when he was 12 years old. Sawyer, now 18, is in a wheelchair and just settled with the board of the New Jersey public school district for $4.2 million.

Admittedly, most individuals who are punched don’t become paralyzed — Sawyer apparently was the unfortunate victim of a freak medical event (a blood clot) — but Sawyer’s case illustrates how seriously dangerous bullying can be.

At least three months before his bully put him in a wheelchair Sawyer had informed his school’s administrators that he was being bullied, but even after Sawyer’s life-changing injury at the hands of his bully, msnbc.com reports,

The [New Jersey public school district’s] board denied [in its settlement statement] allegations that it or its employees had “failed or compromised its responsibility to develop and to implement effective policies and procedures to protect the safety and rights” of the school community, … noting that the district “prides itself for the role which it has played in recognizing and developing an awareness of the dangers of bullying, intimidation and harassment in the school setting.”

Bullying can’t be addressed if school administrators, in order to save their own skins, won’t even fucking acknowledge it.

It’s our own collective fault, however, that brazenly incompetent and self-interested school administrators like these remain in power and that our schools don’t have more resources, such as adequate staffing to supervise students, to combat bullying.

And until school administrators and teachers stop saying that it’s the parents’ responsibility, and parents stop saying that it’s the schools’ responsibility, and school administrators stop saying that it’s law enforcement’s reponsibility, and law enforcement stops saying that it’s the schools’ responsibility — and all of us (even those of us without children of our own) take responsibility for the well-being of our young people — our public schools will continue to be more like prisons than like places of learning and personal growth.

My grade: B-

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It’s NOT about health care

For some Americans, the debate that has dragged out for months indeed has been about health care. Those who can’t afford health care, those with serious medical problems who have been screwed over by their for-profit health-care insurance companies, and yes, those Repugnican politicians who are on the side of the for-profit wealth care — er, health care — system that profits obscenely from Americans’ pain and suffering (which, if you oppose, makes you a “socialist”), and the wealth-care corporations, too, of course: for them, it was about health care (that is, trying to obtain health care or profiting obscenely via the long broken and corrupt health-care system).  

For everyone else, though, the battle was somewhere between a referendum on the November 2008 election of President Barack Obama with 53 percent of the popular vote (to Repugnican John McCainosaurus’ 46 percent) and a sort of second civil war; the battle was over whether or not the mostly white, mostly racist, mostly white supremacist Repugnican Party would allow the nation’s first black president to have a major legislative victory.

Those yelling “nigger” and “faggot” and the like at Democratic lawmakers this past weekend — and the Repugnican lawmaker who screamed “baby killer!” at a Democratic lawmaker — yeah, you know, that wasn’t about health care.

That was about a dwindling demographic — the stupid white man and those who support him — that is terrified of the increasing political power that historically oppressed minority groups are gaining. (“Nigger” for blacks and other non-whites, “faggot” for non-heterosexuals, and “baby killer” for those uppity women who want equal rights and who oppose patriarchal rule.)

And those screaming “nigger” and “faggot” and “baby killer” aren’t just “a few bad apples.” The Repugnican Party and the “tea party” is a whole fucking orchard of rotten apples.

The Repugnicans in Congress already are talking about trying to repeal the uppity black president’s landmark legislation. They want to assure their racist/white supremacist base that they’re not going to allow the black president to get anything — or, if he does manage to get anything, to keep it.

And, of course, the Repugnicans and their allies, such as the “tea party” fascists, like democracy only when democracy goes their way.

The “tea party” fascists who “stormed” Capitol Hill this past weekend and called at least one black legislator a “nigger,” spat on at least another black legislator, and called an openly gay lawmaker a “faggot” — and yes, the Repugnican lawmaker who called another lawmaker a “baby killer” — are no different from the mob of Repugnican Party operatives, pretending to be ordinary outraged citizens, who disrupted the ballot-recounting process in Florida in late 2000.

When democracy doesn’t go the wingnuts’ way, they try mob rule. Which is one of the many reasons I call them fascists. (If the boot fits, wear it!)

We let the fascists get away with that shit — their bullying — in late 2000. And look at what it cost us.

We truly patriotic Americans — those of us who respect democracy, even when the democratic process doesn’t give us the outcome that we want — need to stand up to the fascist bullies who want to subvert our democratic system even further than they already have.

We need to push back; that is all that fucking bullies understand.

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Assorted shit

Why the dick won’t shut the fuck up

In this photo released by ABC former Vice President Dick Cheney ...

Associated Press photo

Gas bag Dick Cheney appears on a political talk show aired this morning in order to (what else?) bash the Obama administration. The Associated Press correctly although too diplomatically deems Cheney’s “public criticism on a successor administration” as “unusual.”

Gay conservative commentator Andrew Sullivan and I agree on one thing (besides our attraction to members of our own sex): Former Vice President Dick Cheney is still talking, more than a year after he left office, because he’s afraid that he might, just might, actually be prosecuted for his war crimes one day.

Politico quotes Sullivan as having stated in an e-mail:

“Cheney’s unprecedentedly aggressive approach … reflects his own knowledge that he has committed war crimes of a very grave sort, war crimes that at some point could lead to prosecution and will undoubtedly lead to historical infamy.”

“If that becomes the prevailing narrative — because it is true — he will go down in history as a man who betrayed the very core principles of Western civilization out of panic and then covered it up,” Sullivan continued. “So he has to change the subject and launch this kind of PR campaign to throw everyone off the scent….

“Cheney is cornered. He knows justice is coming, and he knows that one day the full truth will come out and there will be no hiding. Until then, he will fight and fight and break every taboo that respect for the Constitution and for civil discourse requires.”

Sullivan has been one of the leading voices criticizing the news media — and Politico specifically — for giving Cheney a platform for his rhetorical blasts in interviews without challenging his premises and also forcing him to answer for his own alleged misdeeds in office….

Cheney isn’t fooling anyone, though, isn’t throwing anyone off of his stench. And by keeping himself in the limelight, he is drawing more attention to himself and to his treasonous war crimes. Stupid.

I mean, George W. Bush, a dumbfuck extraordinaire, is smart enough to keep a low profile, and why is Dick Fucking Cheney criticizing the Obama administration when Al Gore, President Bill Clinton’s veep, didn’t routinely criticize the BushCheneyCorp administration, even though there was plenty to criticize?

(I can recall that Gore only made one fiery speech critical of the unelected Bush regime, in the wake of the breaking of the Abu Ghraib House of Horrors scandal to the entire world community. That speech was quite appropriate, given that it had turned out that Americans had treated Iraqi prisoners, most of them innocent of any crime, in a Nazi-like fashion. I don’t believe that during the eight long nightmarish years between January 2001 and January 2009 Gore made more than one or two prominent speeches in which his main topic was criticism of the BushCheneyCorp, yet here is Cheney, who can’t keep himself off of the Sunday morning political shows.)

Anyway, it isn’t like it was Sullivan who made me see the light of the truth. It was in a post titled “Die, Dick, Die!” in October that I wrote:

Cheney, with his latest act his rant against the Obama administration’s handling of Afghanistan (where he would have proclaimed “mission accomplished” already), is trying to salvage his “legacy” by acting as though he really cares about national security instead of war profiteering (he did deliver his war-profiteering corporation Halliburton the Vietraq War, after all), the pundits are chattering, but my best guess is that Cheney is terrified that he might actually be charged as the war criminal that he is and that he therefore is trying to drum up public opinion to be sympathetic toward his sorry, felonious, treasonous ass should justice actually ever be done and he actually be held accountable for the thousands upon thousands of unnecessary deaths of our men and women in uniform and of innocent Iraqi civilians (and many, many other innocent civilians throughout the Middle East).

I also have to wonder if perhaps Tricky Dick still believes that he is in power; maybe that faulty, Grinch-like, two-sizes-too-small heart of his isn’t supplying his brain with enough oxygen. Politico quotes Cheney as having said, when asked how George W. Bush feels about his outspokenness, “I’m the vice president now — ex-vice president. I have the great freedom and luxury of speaking out, saying what I want to say, what I believe. And I have not been discouraged from doing so.” 

“I’m the vice president now”? Sounds like a Freudian slip to me.

Fuck the filibuster!

Rachel Maddow has called — I think — for doing away with the filibuster.* While she focuses on how boring (but how important) the concept of the filibuster is, and calls for renaming the filibuster, what she seems to be aiming at is doing away with the filibuster altogether.

Maddow notes that the filibuster used to require two-thirds, or 67 votes, of the U.S. Senate, to be overcome. The filibuster threshold now stands at 60 votes.

While I believe that a simple majority is good enough in a democracy — we don’t require a presidential candidate to get 60 percent of the vote — I could compromise and put the filibuster at 55 votes. That is one-half of the Senate plus one-tenth of one-half of the Senate. That seems fair enough to me.

(And indeed, the infamous progressive Democratic U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson of Florida has called for a 55-vote filibuster threshold, and you can sign his petition for this more reasonable filibuster threshold at StopSenateStalling.com.)

As Maddow and Grayson note, the filibuster is not contained anywhere in the U.S. Constitution, but is only a Senate rule. Wikipedia notes that Senate rules can be changed by a simple majority vote of the Senate — and that this is what the Repugnicans, during the reign of the unelected Bush regime, threatened to do with their “nuclear option,” to do away with the filibuster, an option that the Democrats thus far have been too pussy to take.

I say: Nuke the motherfuckers. Now. 

The 60-vote filibuster is preventing any progress from being made and has hamstrung the U.S. government.

The 60-vote filibuster reminds me of how the two-thirds vote requirement for the California Legislature to pass the state’s budget has only hamstrung rather than helped my home state’s budget process.

Unfortunately, that ridiculous requirement for a super-majority is contained in the state’s Constitution, and the easiest way to change that would be to amend the state’s Constitution at the ballot box. Many if not most proponents of changing the state’s two-thirds-vote budget-bill requirement are OK with making it a 55-percent-vote requirement instead. I’m OK with that.

Dick Cheney and I actually agree on something!

An Associated Press article on how long it might take the U.S. military to finally stop discriminating against non-heterosexuals reports:

The goal, according to senior defense and military officials, is to avoid the backlash that could result from imposing change too fast. While officials expect resistance from only a minority of service members and believe that it could be contained with discipline, officials fear isolated incidents of violence could erupt as a means of protest.

What does it say of the quality of the individuals in our military that “violence could erupt as a means of protest” against granting equal human and civil rights to everyone in the military?

Actually, though, I don’t think that really is the stupid white men’s concern. I suspect that once again, the stupid old white men are just using our troops as political human shields for themselves. (The members of the unelected Bush regime did that routinely when they tried to morph any valid criticisms of their launching and their handling of their Vietraq War into attacks on our troops.)

It’s the stupid old white men who are far more afraid of the change than are the young people in the military.

Even Dick Cheney, whose daughter is a dyke, has my back on this one. Reports the AP:

According to a Washington Post-ABC News poll, three-quarters of Americans say that they support openly gay people serving in the military. The 75 percent figure is far above the 44 percent of Americans who said so in May 1993.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney, defense secretary in the first Bush administration, said [today] he supports a review of the [“don’t ask, don’t tell”] policy.

“When the chiefs come forward and say we think we can do it, it strikes me it’s time to reconsider the policy,” he said. “I’m reluctant to second-guess the military in this regard.”

Cheney, who has an openly gay daughter, said he thinks society has moved on from staunch opposition to gays serving in the military.

“It’s partly a generational question,” he told ABC’s “This Week,” adding that “things have changed significantly” since the [“DADT”] policy took effect.

“Partly” a generational question? No, it’s almost wholly a generational question.

OK, so I guess that I still have plenty of disagreement with the dick…

Move over, Margaret!

Speaking of dykes, Wanda Sykes is my new favorite comedian.

I recently bought the DVD of her HBO stand-up special “I’ma Be Me,” which was recorded in Washington, D.C., in August, and my boyfriend and I have watched it twice.

Wanda rocks.

Margaret Cho, a self-proclaimed fag hag, has been the default gay guy’s comedian for some years now, and I still love ya, Margaret, but Wanda is funnier and fresher than you are.

Wanda’s political sensibilities seem to be much sharper than those of Margaret, who, if her autobiographical claims about herself are accurate, apparently spent a lot of years partying before she woke up to the political scene circa 2003 or 2004.

And while Margaret’s material is stale, Wanda’s is new to me.

Wanda comes to her comedy from the perspective of being a black lesbian. (She came out in November 2008, after the odious Prop H8 passed here in California.)

In her HBO stand-up special Wanda doesn’t talk too much about lesbianism — her comedy is much less sexually graphic and less scatological than is Margaret’s — but her take on what it’s like to be black in white America is hilarious and even eye-opening.

“White people are looking at you!” she intones throughout her routine, and while it’s comedy, it rings true. Her bit about finally being able to buy a whole watermelon at the supermarket — now that Barack Obama is president — is hilarious and probably only she could get away with something like that.

Wanda’s riff on pirates (yes, pirates — a reference to when the Somali pirates were in the news) also is ROLF-level good, and the way that she brings back certain themes throughout her routine is masterfully funny.  

Wanda’s 15-minute performance at the 2009 White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner probably gave her the most national exposure that she’s ever had, but, as she says right off in “I’ma Be Me,” she had to hold back at the correspondents’ dinner.

She’s much better when she’s off-leash, so to speak, as she is in “I’ma Be Me.”

The only criticism that I have of “I’ma Be Me” is that Wanda uses at least two or three of the jokes that she already used at the correspondents’ dinner. She’s allowed to rehash her own material, of course, but you would think that she would have realized that many if not most of us had already heard those jokes.

Wanda’s facial expressions and her willingness to move around on stage liberally add entertainment value to her already-funny material, and she’s so adorable that even when she chuckles at her own jokes it’s quite forgivable.

You owe it to yourself to watch “I’ma Be Me,” whether it’s still showing periodically on HBO or whether you buy the DVD (such as via amazon.com).

Out to pasture for the McCainosaurus?

There is talk that Repugnican John McCainosaurus might lose the Repugnican primary to his even wingnuttier challenger, J.D. Hayworth, ending McCainosaurus’ stint in the U.S. Senate, which began in 1987.

Reports The Associated Press:

Phoenix – Defeated just two years ago as the Republican presidential candidate and with his bonafides as a true conservative again being challenged, John McCain finds himself in a struggle to get even his party’s nomination for another term in the Senate.

Many conservatives and “tea party” activists are lining up behind Republican challenger and former [right-wing] talk radio host J.D. Hayworth, reflecting a rising tide of voter frustration with incumbent politicians. Only 40 percent of Arizonans have a favorable view of McCain’s job performance.

Faced with his toughest re-election battle ever, McCain has moved to the right on several hot-button issues, like gays in the military and climate change, and has built a campaign war chest of more than $5 million. Former running mate Sarah Palin and newly elected Republican Sen. Scott Brown, both popular with conservatives, are pitching in.

Hayworth, who will officially launch his campaign [tomorrow], began using his talk show on conservative radio station KFYI to drum up opposition to McCain.

“You have a consistent conservative challenger and an incumbent who calls himself a maverick but in fact is a moderate,” Hayworth said, outlining what he views as the central choice for conservative GOP primary voters in August.

McCain is launching his own statewide tour, complete with visits next month from Palin and Brown, who already has recorded calls asking Republicans to support McCain.

The four-term senator and his allies also are taking aim at Hayworth. In December, they filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission arguing that the talk show host was a de facto candidate and his radio station was providing a corporate gift by allowing him to campaign on the air. And they’re attacking Hayworth’s 12-year record as a [U.S. representative] representing the eastern suburbs of Phoenix….

Democrat Harry Mitchell defeated Hayworth four years ago, winning the GOP-dominated [U.S. House] district amid a rough national climate for Republicans and questions about Hayworth’s dealings with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Hayworth ran a conservative campaign emphasizing his opposition to illegal immigration, but he was dogged by a reputation for being an angry and combative partisan, highlighted by an editorial in the state’s largest newspaper recommending “Mitchell over the bully.”

Hayworth said he decided to quit the [right-wing radio talk] show and run for [the U.S. Senate] in late January after holding “town-hall meetings five days a week” with his conservative listeners.

They are angry, Hayworth says, about McCain’s history of teaming with Democrats on key issues. In the past decade McCain has worked with Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin on campaign finance reform and with the late Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts on an immigration bill that would have created a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants….

A poll last month by the Phoenix-based Behavior Research Center found [McCain’s] lowest approval rating since January 1994, when McCain was in the midst of the “Keating Five” scandal in which he and four other U.S. senators were accused of trying to intimidate regulators on behalf of a real-estate developer later convicted of fraud.

McCain’s once-powerful support from independents is particularly lacking; just 38 percent approved of his performance…. Arizona allows independents to vote in primaries. They could make the difference in a state where 30 percent of the electorate doesn’t belong to a political party….

While I suspect that the McCainosaurus will beat Hayworth, who I remember only as a fugly, goofy-looking

(  )

local television sportscaster when I lived in Phoenix more than a decade ago, it would be hilarious if the McCainosaurus were to lose the Repugnican primary to a tea-baggin’, mouth-breathing, Sarah Palin-Quayle-like stupid white guy whose main platform, like that of Repugnican former U.S. Rep. Tom “Bring Back the Literacy Tests!” Tancredo, is to beat up, like the ignorant bully that he is, on powerless, brown-skinned, “illegal” immigrants, who, as Wanda Sykes correctly points out in “I’ma Be Me,” aren’t criminals, but who just want to make a better life for themselves. (I would tell her joke, but I don’t want to spoil it for you; you’ll just have to watch “I’ma Be Me.”)

*Wikipedia’s entry “filibuster” states:

A filibuster, or “speaking or talking out a bill,” is a form of obstruction in a legislature or other decision-making body whereby one attempts to delay or entirely prevent a vote on a proposal by extending a debate on that proposal. A popular saying is “filibuster it to death!”

The term “filibuster” was first used in 1851. It was derived from the Spanish [word] “filibustero,” meaning “pirate” or “freebooter.” … 

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