We have a cussing botany guy, and we love him.
It's been another hell week, so how about we have some Nice Things? We'll all get back to the quotidian parade of horrors soon enough, that's for sure. For now, let's have a little break, with stuff that will make your brain feel better. (This is not a medical treatment. Side effects may include cat videos and glorious strings of obscenities. Actual brain health not guaranteed. Ask your doctor.)
He was diplomatic about it though.
Some seemingly simple acts are so overtly awesome we must recognize and applaud them in these dark times. Ireland's Prime Minister Leo Varadkar visited Vice President Mike Pence at his official residence Thursday. Varadkar is gay. Pence is infamously anti-gay. This is probably why they met for breakfast, which is scientifically the least gay meal. Brunch was definitely off the table. Mother definitely wouldn't approve of Belgian waffles with Irish gays.
Heads of state dining with a US vice president is perfectly normal. So are queer folk, but Pence has dedicated his life to denying them their normality. Varadkar also brought a plus-one, his partner, Matthew Barrett. The Second Lady, Karen Pence, wasn't present for the breakfast. Maybe she was busy not teaching and definitely not working with LGBTs. The three men wore green ties for Ireland. Pence wore the ugliest one, which should put to rest the silly rumors that he's a self-loathing closet case.
Back in 2015, Varadkar came out publicly on his 36th birthday. His father was born in India and immigrated to the United Kingdom to work as a doctor, which is where he met Varadkar's mother. Varadkar was raised in his mother's Catholic faith and later became a doctor. He's a wonderful example of how immigration and diversity generate positive results for a nation, which many in America fail to see.
He's also quite the contrast to the absurdly skewed view of the Irish our absurd president chose to share later in the day.
Yesterday, the Washington Post flat-out refused to call out Pence for the bigot we all know he is. This particular paragraph is a profile in journalistic cowardice.
Varadkar is one of only a handful of openly gay world leaders. Pence, on the other hand, is a socially conservative Christian who has long been criticized by LGBTQ advocates for pursuing policies that they say hurt the gay community while he was governor of Indiana.
Pence has always attempted to stuff his blatant homophobia in the walk-in closet of his pious faith. LGBTQ advocates don't just claim his policies are hurtful to the gay community. They objectively are. It shouldn't violate journalistic standards to say flat out that opposing the freedom of queer people to marry who they choose or even urinate in a public restroom is an assault against their basic dignity.
However, Varadkar took a moment yesterday to speak truth to power in the presence of someone who, despite all the smiling civility, still doesn't view him as fully human. After some standard -- if you're not Trump -- diplomatic patter, Varadkar suddenly went full Prime Minister Hugh Grant from Love Actually.
VARADKAR: I lived in a country where if I'd tried to be myself at the time, it would have ended up breaking laws. But today, that is all changed. I stand here, leader of my country, flawed and human, but judged by my political actions, and not by my sexual orientation, my skin tone, gender or religious beliefs. And I don't believe that my country is the only one in the world where this is possible. It stands in every country where freedom and liberty are cherished. We are, after all, all God's children. And that's true of the United States, as well. The land and home of the brave of the free. Where the promise of America inspires boys and girls all over the world to dream big dreams. And inspires others around the world to do the same.
Ireland legalized same-sex marriage in 2015 through a constitutional referendum. This was about a month before the Supreme Court legalized it the US. Our asses are behind on everything. Pence was reportedly "disappointed" over the ruling before presumably crying in Mother's lap about it. He's a jerk.
What Varadkar did was bold and important. He could've let Pence use him as a prop. One that all the gay haters in the GOP could point to and say, "Look how nice the Pences treated that one prominent individual gay person!" Instead, he eloquently demonstrated how so-called "outsiders" sometimes understand the supposed promise of America better than its actual leaders. We hope that changes in 2020.
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We could use a little hope today.
The kids are at it again, and it's beautiful. All over the world, young people today are marching and giving speeches and demanding political leaders show some leadership, please, as part of the World Climate Strike. The idea started last summer with a 16-year-old girl in Sweden after that country's hottest summer on record; Greta Thunberg protested outside the Parliament building for months, and it kind of caught on with the hashtag (and later a website) called "FridaysForFuture." So here we are on the Ides of March, and in the USA, the action (centered in DC but with related marches nationwide) was organized by three young women, Alexandria Villasenor, Haven Coleman, and 16-year-old Isra Hirsi, who's the daughter of Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar. (Get ready for rightwing trolls to condemn the climate movement as anti-Semitic.) Over a million young people in 123 countries are expected to participate by the end of the day.
This truly is a global thing -- though not a globalist thing -- reports Gizmodo's Earther:
The sun rose first on [the] Pacific where students in Australia, New Zealand, and small island nations walked out of school. Since then, mass walkouts have spread from South Korea to India to Nigeria to major European capitals. In Stockholm, an estimated 10,000 students pressed against barricades like a rock concert to see Thunberg, a far cry from her solitary strike that began seven months ago. In Torino, thousands sang "We Will Rock You." In Dakar, students gathered in the shade under the blistering sun. In Zurich, they huddled under umbrellas in the rain.
There was even a demonstrator in Antarctica.
Terrorism plus trolling. O brave new world that has such people in 't.
Guys, I hate to defend Candace Owens, a garbage human being who loves riling up low-information idiots, but no, she did not "inspire" the racist who murdered 49 people at two mosques in New Zealand. Yes, even though he almost certainly agrees with her about immigration. He's trolling us, and while hatred should always be taken seriously and studied, the things said by racists, especially when they're repeating all their favorite little inside jokes, shouldn't necessarily be taken at face value, because sarcasm and shitposting are part of the online fascist's toolkit. Apart from the obvious commitment to racism and the desire to eradicate nonwhite immigrants, statements in the shooter's online manifesto should be considered skeptically. Let's do some unpacking.
We're not going to link to the copy of the manifesto we're working from, both because it'e evil and because hosts are scraping copies of it off their servers quickly enough that no links are likely to last. Believe me, you can find it without much effort if you want to see the filth.
Instead, take a look at this smart analysis of the manifesto's trolling by journalist Robert Evans, who knows a thing or two about terrorists and their recruiting methods. This manifesto has several audiences: potential future white nationalists, but also unwary journalists seeking to comb through it for easy answers to why someone would murder people in a house of worship. The title is straightforward enough: "The Great Replacement" partakes of the same white paranoia that motivated the Pittsburgh synagogue shooter and the marchers who chanted "Jews will not replace us" in Charlottesville: There's a shadowy conspiracy by very bad people to destroy the beautiful white race through immigration and high minority birth rates.
But as Evans puts it, the manifesto is also full of rhetorical booby traps:
We all shared a good laugh yesterday about Jerry Lundegaard, Lynette Scavo, and Aunt Becky allegedly committing multiple felonies in order to get their pampered, academically challenged kids into fancy schools ... and USC. But this is seriously a major indictment of our supposed meritocracy that never actually existed. It's pretty damn infuriating. C'mon, rich people, your kids were already born on third base. Don't cheat their way across home plate.
Reading the court documents related to the case only raises our blood pressure to Vesuvian levels. Felicity Huffman and William H. Macy (we all know his ass was involved seeing as how he was on the phone calls) claimed their $15,000 bribe was for "disadvantaged youth." This also made it tax deductible. We're sure the IRS is already finding it interesting.
They also grossly abused the SAT accommodations for disabled students so their daughter could take the test alone with a bought-off proctor. This is the bit that wouldn't make it into a movie because the parents would rightly look repulsive and you don't want audiences throwing literal rotten tomatoes at the screen.
Are the moms the only ones arrested for kid-related fraud?
Federal prosecutors charged 50 people today in a nationwide college admissions bribery and cheating scam. This includes Felicity Huffman from "Desperate Housewives" and Aunt Becky from "Full House." That's probably the specific reason we care.
The suspects allegedly paid bribes of up to $6 million to get their kids into elite colleges, including Yale, Stanford, Georgetown and USC.
Those are some prestigious, elite institutions ... and USC. It's not that hard to get into USC. You just pay them.
In most cases, the students did not know their admission was contingent on a bribe.
Dumb, rich kids are probably arrogant enough to think they are New Haven material. You can't help but feel sorry for the ones who applied to USC. They probably thought their grades and test scores were decent enough for them to get in without their parents breaking federal law.
Pour one out for the gunhumpers.
Pity poor Wayne LaPierre! The guy just wants to flog murder machines and watch the cash roll in, and he keeps getting dragged into stupid bullshit. The then National Rifle Association president only got paid $1.5 million in 2017, and that is not nearly enough to compensate him for having to clean up every time that Loesch woman sticks a Klan hood on a cartoon train. The NRA is supposed to be a cash cow, that keeps up a steady hoofbeat of fear, while quietly making its leadership very, very fat. It's not supposed to be the attack dog for a modern day red scare that calls grieving mothers "tragedy-dry-humping whores." What happened to KILLING THEM SOFTLY, DAMMIT? That's what Wayne wants to know!
The New York Times reports that all is not well in Gun Land. Some of the old guard are nervous that appointing themselves the clenched fist of the culture war is making it harder to pull crumpled bills out of their cleavage.
BEEP BEEP! The Wonkette Bazaar has DOUBLED its offerings, to black AND white T-shirts (Kamala, Liz Warren, Joe Biden, Obama 4Ever, Nancy Pelosi Ride Or Die). Are you a woman and you want a BLACK v-neck so you don't pit-stain up your white v-neck? You can have that. Are you a man and you want to pit-stain up a WHITE crewneck for some weird reason? You can do that too.
Are you a HUNGRY HUNGRY HIPPOS Trump voter, but you're scared of getting murdered all the time every time you try to go out to dinner? There's an app for that!
Are you a conservative who likes to go to the Olive Garden for luxurious fine dining but you're scared you will get persecuted to death by an antifa while your head is balls deep in a bucket of bottomless breadsticks?
Are you a Trump-voting lady who likes to go to the TJ Maxx bargain emporium to find all the latest bargains, but you are rightfully scared a lib will see that discounted Vera Bradley clutch in your hand, the one you FINDERS KEEPERS-ED before they did, but you won't get to take it home because the lib will say "By the power of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, I do socialism redistribution to that clutch you found, MINE MINE MINE"?
Are you a godly manly butch Trump man who is too chickenshit to go to the Big Lots without his substitute penis appendage, AKA "gun"?
Are you longing for a place where nobody says "Cool 4-cylinder Mustang, you loser Nazi," but you know they are being sarcastic when they say "cool"?
Have you had winner winner chicken dinners pried out of your cold dead hands?
Thank heterosexual Caucasian Jesus, because there is an app for you! It is called 63red Safe, which makes no sense at all and we are just going to skip right over that, and it is just a good thing to have if you are a HUNGRY HUNGRY HIPPOS Trump voter wearing a MAGA hat who just knows if they go to the Cracker Barrel, they will meet certain death/persecution/eyerolls.
A History of America in Ten Strikes by Erik Loomis, Part 3
Happy Daylight Savings Day, Wonkers! Are you as completely discombobulated as Yr Dok Zoom is, coffee or no? Here's hoping you are not! Nevertheless, let us wrap up our discussion of Erik Loomis's excellent A History of America in Ten Strikes, our Wonkette Book Club selection for this month. It's a hella good overview of labor history in a country that loves to praise hard work, just as long as workers don't get too uppity. Last week we closed with the labor movement at the peak of its power following World War II, when a string of presidents enacted mostly pro-labor policies, or at least tended not to explicitly side with corporate America's desires to gut the power of unions.
Things, as you already know, changed.
If Obama had ...
Hey, big Friday news, and it's that former Fox News idiot Bill Shine is the latest White House comms director to become a former White House comms director, but that's not what we're here to talk about. We already knew the White House comms department was a barren wasteland of incompetence and regret, and had a feeling Shine wouldn't last long anyway.
We need to talk about what ELSE happened today, which is that Donald Trump flew to Alabama to meet with tornado survivors, like a normal president would, and while there he ... um ... well, he autographed the tornado survivors' ... Bibles? Also like a totally normal president would?
And yes, this has been confirmed by other reporters, so it's not just Josh Dawsey FAKE NEWSIN'.
As Yr Wonkette's resident scholar of Bible, we have questions. Like ...
We are telling you to CLICK on a David Brooks article? We just don't know anymore.
David Brooks is for reparations now? He IS? We ... go ahead and CLICK.
Nearly five years ago I read Ta-Nehisi Coates's Atlantic article "The Case for Reparations," with mild disagreement. All sorts of practical objections leapt to mind. What about the recent African immigrants? What about the poor whites who have nothing of what you would call privilege? Do we pay Oprah and LeBron?
But I have had so many experiences over the past year — sitting, for example, with an elderly black woman in South Carolina shaking in rage because the kids in her neighborhood face greater challenges than she did growing up in 1953 — that suggest we are at another moment of make-or-break racial reckoning.
Back never, our eyeballs clearly need fixing.
'Assassinated and Buried Alive' but somehow he's still here...
We, your wonderful saviors at Wonkette, have been cancelling R. Kelly for nearly a year now, as we have chronicled the trials and tribulations this "God-fearing" crooner has endured at the hands of Lucifer. Oh Satan, why hast thou forsaken thine own favored son? For some, the recent assassination of R. Kelly is a much needed change for our culture; for R. Kelly, it is all some amazingly indecipherable plot to steal his joy, set him up, and trick starry eyed young ingenues into believing that the lying Devil is in fact, R. Kelly himself. Will he ever receive justice? In order to restore the world to its proper order, R. Kelly took his crazy ass to sit for an interview with Gayle King (who is NOT Robin Roberts, okay Jesse Waters?) so he could defend himself. It was all supposed to clear his name, and prove to the all the haters and the lying vicious whooores that Daddy Kelly don't lock no girls up in closets and chains, and also, that the youngest of ladies love strange ass orgies with midlife-crisis-having misanthropes. Seems legit.
The full interview won't be out until Friday (my b-day, awesome gift, Jesus, you shouldn't have, really) but lucky for us, R. Kelly is so damn crazy, the few minutes of clips they have released so far gives us PLENTY of insight into this ... situation.
He just paints what he sees.
Jon McNaughton, the Art Genius who documented true historic events like Jesus handing the Constitution to George Washington and Barack Obama burning the very same Constitution, is back with another masterpiece, this one titled "National Emergency." Truly a fine example of McNaughton's work, which combines the fine art techniques of Thomas Kincaid with the subtle political commentary of Ben Garrison and an army of Twitter trolls.
Move along. WE SAID MOVE ALONG.
Yes, you already know that the wheels are coming off American democracy. But seriously, WTF IS THIS? NBC reports:
Customs and Border Protection has compiled a list of 59 mostly American reporters, attorneys and activists for border agents to stop for questioning when crossing the U.S-Mexican border at San Diego-area checkpoints, and agents have questioned or arrested at least 21 of them, according to documents obtained by NBC station KNSD-TV and interviews with people on the list.
CBP has an enemies list of people critical of US immigration policy, and they're using it to harass journalists, lawyers, and activists at the border? And they're pretending that they have reasonable suspicion that the people detained "were present during violence that broke out at the border with Tijuana in November"? UH UH.
Let's see if we've understood this story correctly. On November 25, a group of 500 desperate Hondurans and Salvadorans, the sad remnant of the scary "invasion caravan," arrived in Tijuana to present themselves at the San Ysidro border crossing and request asylum. Which is entirely legal. After peacefully marching up to 2,700 miles, they were stopped on a bridge by a phalanx of Mexican police in riot gear. Some of the migrants went around the police, crossing the dry river bed in an attempt to make a run for the crossing. A handful of men tried to climb over the first layer of border fencing -- beyond which they'd have to evade multiple layers of sensors and barriers -- at which point US border agents shut down the crossing and tear gassed the crowd. Remember those pictures of barefoot babies in diapers running from tear gas canisters? That's what the the US government is using as a pretext to search the phones of American lawyers crossing our border.
It's an end-of-day Nice Time! Hooray!
Attention, Democratic candidates running in 2020 -- not just for president, but for ANYTHING: Get on board with the American Family Act, introduced today in the Senate by Michael Bennet of Colorado and Sherrod Brown of Ohio. In the House, it's been introduced by Democratic Congresswomen Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut and Suzan DelBene of Washington. It's a ridiculously simple way to make middle-class and working families better off through fairly simple tweaks to the existing child tax credit, as Dylan Matthews explains at Vox.
Currently, the Child Tax Credit (CTC) helps out fairly well-off people, but does little for families with low income. The American Family Act would change that significantly, turning the CTC into a monthly child allowance available to every family with children (and phasing out for families at the high end of the income scale). The benefit would pay:
-- $3,000 per year, or $250 per month, per child ages 6 to 16
-- $3,600 per year, or $300 per month, per child ages 0 to 5
The benefits would be distributed monthly, in advance, so families could pace out their spending and smooth their incomes. Because the CTC, like the earned income tax credit, is currently paid out through tax refunds, it sometimes leads to a perverse situation in which families use it to pay down debt they never would've had to incur if they'd gotten the money earlier.
And what would this accomplish? It would boost the available income for families with kids, immediately, and particularly when kids tend to be especially expensive, in the first years of life, when, unfortunately, young parents tend to have their lowest earning power, too.
Researchers project this child allowance would have some amazing bang for the buck in terms of lifting kids out of poverty:
Poverty among children would fall from 14.8 percent to 9.5 percent, meaning 4 million kids would escape poverty. Deep poverty — the share of kids living on half the poverty line or less — would fall almost by half, from 4.6 percent to 2.4 percent.
Is there more, in terms of overall benefit for US America? You bet your sweet Great Society ass there is! How about improvements in health, reductions in crime, and overall benefits for education?
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