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History Facts

Wonkette Book Club: The Wishful Thinking War

Let them eat yellowcake.

Progressives are always being told we need to face reality. There's no way we can have health care for everyone because it's just not realistic. Controlling global warming can't be done because running an advanced economy on clean energy "defies the laws of physics" (according to an oil lobbyist with a BA in political science). A nation simply can't relieve poverty because the iron laws of economic reality mean there must be winners and losers, and the winners get to write the tax laws, sorry. Regardless of what Anne Frank said, people aren't "good at heart" and the sooner you accept that reality, the better. Anyone who says otherwise has their head in the clouds.

Oh, but as Michael Isikoff and David Corn explain in painful detail in our current Wonkette Book Club selection, Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War, Republicans who want to get their war on don't need to be tethered to mere reality, because they know what they're doing.

In 2003, the wise conservatives of the George W. Bush administration went to war in Iraq because they were absolutely certain it had to happen. Further, they expected it would be a fairly easy win with little chance of failure and that the invasion would spark a wave of democratic reform across the region. Along the way, the executive-branch Deciders, from Bush on down, ignored or dismissed any information that pointed to inconvenient realities in Iraq, because their minds were made up. The war was necessary, and it would be easy. Anyone who said otherwise was either irrationally gloomy or outright disloyal.

The more I read Hubris, the more I'm reminded that Donald Trump and his many enablers didn't create "alternative facts." They've simply perfected the art of living entirely in a reality-distortion field. A self-created reality already took America into a disastrous war less than 20 years ago. Those "Just-So" stories the Bush administration told itself killed hundreds of thousands and made the region even more unstable.

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News

Trump Puts Twitter Hit Out On Adam Schiff But The True Threat To Democracy Is Schiff's Rudeness

Not breaking news: Republicans are shameless hypocrites.

Super religious man of God Donald Trump kicked off his Sunday with bitterness, resentment, and thinly veiled death threats. The president's grossness will never rest -- not even on the seventh day. Trump took aim at his personal Javert, Adam Schiff, who he believes has not "paid the price yet" for performing his constitutional duty.

Trump equates his own sorry ass with "our Country" as a whole, which is typical narcissistic behavior. He also puts the call out for Schiff to get fitted with cement galoshes, which is more of his standard mobster talk. Although, most mobsters with functioning brains avoid threatening prosecutors from their ongoing trial in front of 72 million witnesses. There are bound to be a few stool pigeons in the bunch.

Republicans were greatly offended Friday when Schiff implied that the president was an unhinged vindictive sociopath who threatened to literally get medieval on any Republican who didn't fully support him. Schiff just quoted the president's own words, which appalled Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins so much they retracted Schiff's invitation to the Bingleys' ball at Netherfield Park.

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Ukraine

Pompeo Attempts To Stick Up Reporter, Winds Up Shooting Himself In The D*ck

Ladies and gentlemen, your Trump administration.

Breaking! Achtung! Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is a hot sack of garbage! Okay, that's not really news. But really, this weekend Pompeo has outdone himself.

It started yesterday when NPR's Mary Louise Kelly, who has been a national security reporter for 20 years, sat down for an interview with Pompeo at the State Department. The Secretary blurped nonsense for several minutes about how the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal, which caused Iran to restart its uranium enrichment program, is actually a sign of Trump's rousing success in stopping that country from getting nukes.

KELLY: My question, again: How do you stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon?

SECRETARY POMPEO: We'll stop them.

KELLY: How?

SECRETARY POMPEO: We'll stop them.

KELLY: Sanctions?

SECRETARY POMPEO:
We'll stop them. The president made very clear – the opening sentence in his remarks said that we will never permit Iran to have a nuclear weapon. The coalition that we've built out, the economic, military, and diplomatic deterrence that we have put in place will deliver that outcome. It's important, because this will protect the American people.

Riiiiiiight.

Please note how Kelly does not just transcribe what Pompeo says and move on. Which may explain his ... displeasure at what happened next.

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Media/Entertainment

Terry Crews Throws Gabrielle Union From Back Of The Bus Into Oncoming Path Of Another Bus

Crews is a regular 'see no sexism, hear no racism' about 'America's Got Talent' set.

Gabrielle Union is the badass sister who was unceremoniously fired from "America's Got Talent." Variety reported in November on the NBC production's "toxic culture," as well as the racist treatment Union personally received. For instance, she was reportedly told that her changing hairstyles were "too black" for the reality TV show audience. White folks coped just fine with Whitney Houston's rotating wigs almost 40 years ago but in the Trump era, we have to tread lightly.

Terry Crews is still a host on "America's Got Talent." I will never judge how a brother pays his bills unless he's on the Supreme Court chipping away at my rights. But Crews was a guest on hour eleven of the "Today" show Friday and when asked about the "Gabrielle Union controversy," he went full Mariah Carey on my girl.

CREWS: First of all, I can't speak for sexism because I'm not a woman.

What is he talking about? Of course, he can "speak for sexism." He's a man and we're the ones who bring the sexist. Without men, it's just Paradise Island and Amazons on horseback. Sexism isn't some horror movie monster that preys on women but is invisible to men. We just wonder what happened to that lady in sales: "We were both up for the same promotion. Then she vanished. That's peculiar."

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Culture Wars

They've Found This Year's Culture War And It's Drag Queens, Books

Oh, and put those damn fool librarians in jail, too, for America.

A Missouri state representative has heard about all these Drag Queen Story Time shenanigans at public libraries, and he is very upset at the thought of all those communist preverts practicing their commie preversions in the sight of little kids, what with the drag queening and the reading and the proximity of people wearing things he does not approve of in the presence of children. Clearly, the answer is to comb through library collections and censor all the books that might upset parents, which is why state Rep. Ben Baker has introduced the Parental Oversight of Public Libraries Act, which would require all library districts to elect a review board that would have the authority to approve all library materials and events. Any library that failed to set up such a censorship board would lose its state funding.

Baker told NBC News the bill isn't aimed at censoring anything, heavens no! Instead, he explained, he just wants these danged drag queens stopped.

They've had these drag queen story hours, and that's something that I take objection to and I think a lot of parents do [...] That's where in a public space, our kids could be exposed to something that's age-inappropriate. That's what I'm trying to tackle.

See? Not a bit of censorship; Baker just wants to protect the innocent children from people reading picture books while being fabulous. And if any librarian allows "age-inappropriate sexual material" in the library, that would be a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $500 fine. Gotta let those com-symp Library Science majors know who's boss. No word on whether the bill would also take action to eliminate the "sexy librarian" stereotype.

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Impeachment

TAKE HER OUT! HEADS ON PIKES! Trump Impeachment Trial Liveblog, Day Four!

The president is neither an innocent man nor a well man.

OK! Here we go! One more day of impeachment trial liveblog and then this week will be ov-HAHAHA just kidding, this shit runs on Saturdays too. Trump is upset about that, because his very good lawyers will be beginning their case on Saturday, which he says is "Death Valley" of TV. And they are such very good lawyers too!

Or maybe they are not very good lawyers?

Wow, for once in our entire lives, we agree with Matt Gaetz. Trump's lawyers are so fucked right now. Maybe it is good (for them) that they have to start their business on Saturday.

Anyway, let's see what else is happening, oh nothing except for LORDY THERE ARE TAPES. And they are ... Igor tapes?

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Immigrants

Immigrant Teens Not Yet Being Waterboarded, So Why All The Fuss?

It's not like tying kids to chairs and putting bags over their heads makes us the baddies. Does it?

In Part Nine Million of our series "the cruelty is the point" (credit Adam Serwer), we bring you this story from Mother Jones about the treatment of migrant kids at a juvenile detention center in Virginia, one of just two juvie lockups where the government stores "unaccompanied minors who are deemed threatening." The story, by Samantha Michaels, traces the ongoing legal case against the Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center, which started with a lawsuit in 2017 accusing the facility of using harsh disciplinary methods against migrant teens who haven't committed any crimes but are locked up because of their immigration status. (Not that harsh discipline is healthy for any kids in lockup, regardless of their rap sheets!) This week, the case is getting new attention because a crowd of nationally recognized prosecutors and even a few state attorneys general have filed an amicus brief as the case moves forward on appeal. We'll get to those details in a moment.

The suit argued that instead of getting the kids necessary mental health care for PTSD and other disorders stemming from their experiences as migrants, staff at the facility instead subjected them to punishments like being routinely tied to chairs for misbehavior, sometimes with a bag over their heads so they could get the full Gitmo Jr. experience.

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Cops Behaving Badly

St. Louis Top Prosecutor Kimberly Gardner Suing EVERYONE For Balls-Out Racism

Yeah, seems like the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 is pretty on-point!

A prosecutor suing her own police force for perpetuating a racist conspiracy is not something you see every day. But that's what Kimberly Gardner, the chief prosecutor for St. Louis, Missouri, is doing.

Kimberly Gardner is the first African American circuit attorney in the history of St. Louis. She was elected in the wake of the shooting of Michael Brown in nearby Ferguson. Gardner won her election after running on a platform of rebuilding trust between law enforcement and St. Louis's black community.

Since taking office in 2017, Gardner has sought to reform both her office and the practices of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. And the city's white establishment has fought it, kicking and screaming at every turn, even going as far as to appoint a special prosecutor to criminally investigate her.

Now, Gardner is suing the City of St. Louis, the St. Louis Police Officers Association labor union, a special prosecutor appointed to investigate her office, and others for violating her civil and constitutional rights through a "racially motivated conspiracy to deny the civil rights of racial minorities."

The suit argues that the local officials targeting her have violated the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 and the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution and makes explosive allegations, like, "On information and belief and based on recent media reports, there are white supremacists on the St. Louis police force."

As the complaint notes,

The stakes are high. This case cries out for federal enforcement.
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History Facts

Betsy DeVos Flunks History, Human Decency

Education secretary compares abortion to slavery like a horrible person with limited knowledge of history.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said some stupid crap the other day. She's an incredibly stupid person and likes to stay on brand. DeVos, who bought her Cabinet position at a GOP donor auction, took on the horrors of reproductive freedom at a Colorado Christian University event. She went so far (and so low) as to compare abortion rights to the enslavement of human beings. She might've also suggested that Donald Trump reminded her of Abraham Lincoln. It was a hot mess.

DEVOS: [Lincoln], too, contended with the "pro-choice" arguments of his day. They suggested that a state's 'choice' to be slave or to be free had no moral question in it. Well, President Lincoln reminded those pro-choicers that there is a vast portion of the American people that do not look upon that matter as being this very little thing. They look upon it as a vast moral evil. Lincoln was right about the slavery 'choice' then, and he would be right about the life 'choice' today. Because as it's been said: Freedom is not about doing what we want. Freedom is about having the right to do what we ought.

Congratulations, Ms. "Education" Secretary, you just failed seventh grade history.

DeVos is comparing something she doesn't like to something everyone (mostly) agrees is terrible. This rhetorical tactic is called "being an asshole." So abortion is just like slavery and zucchini on pizza. This intellectual laziness works equally well in reverse: Charter schools are like freedom and Girl Scout cookies. Her insulting argument falls apart under the slightest scrutiny.

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Journamalism

Trump Murders Last Broadcast Journalist. Jim Lehrer, 1934-2020

We're getting old, aren't we?

Jim Lehrer has signed off for the last time. PBS announced the longtime "PBS NewsHour" anchorman died Thursday at his home in Washington DC at the age of 85. Working alongside Robert MacNeil, Lehrer was the Texas-accented half of the news team that respected viewers' intelligence enough to cover stories for more than three minutes.

When I was a college student in the early 1980s, just figuring out that TV news wasn't just something to endure before the entertainment shows started, the half-hour "MacNeil-Lehrer Report" was what you watched after Walter Cronkite (Later Dan Rather, or maybe Peter Jennings, but pffft, not Tom Brokaw, he wasn't serious) so you could act like you understood the news. An entire half hour devoted to a single story, every damn day! Broadcast news being such a fleeting, ephemeral thing, I honestly can't say I recall a single news story or discussion that stuck with me -- that may reflect more badly on my media consumption than on the quality of the journalism.

But I do remember that nearly every evening, hearing the theme music -- it was a whole song -- and seeing that logo, that I felt like it was possible to understand some of what the hell was going on in the daily chaos of the Reagan administration. I do recall often talking about it with friends, so something must have at least stuck in the short term. Heh, and we thought REAGAN was dumb and chaotic! (Oh, he was. Never forget.)

The news of Lehrer's death has me right back in college, watching a black-and-white TV in my little shithole apartment in the dark of a cold Flagstaff winter. Proust had his cookie, and we TV babies have nostalgia via TV intros. It's as potent as hearing the old synthesizer arrangement of NPRs "All Things Considered" theme.

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Guns

Gun Dealers So Happy They've Scared Women Into Buying More Guns

Las Vegas gun show targets women, other first-time buyers.

Gun manufacturers love to sell more guns, despite all the related, senseless deaths, and an emerging market is women. Rifles, shotguns, and other large penis substitutes were usually the guests of dishonor at the annual Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade Show in Las Vegas. Now, the SHOT show (get it?) is highlighting "small, lightweight and concealable guns" because that's what girls like.

The Crime Prevention Research Center, a gun-rights group, boasted that the number of Americans with concealed-carry permits rose to almost 18.7 million in 2019. It was a still depressing 12.8 million in 2015. Gun lovers don't consider this statistic evidence that Donald Trump has made America significantly less safe. No, Trump's actually delivered exponentially more freedom for us than that tyrant Barack Obama. We're now free to secretly pack heat in the event someone at the supermarket tries to take the last melon from us.

Oklahoma and Kentucky legalized concealed carry without a permit last year, which on the one hand is really dumb but on the other, bloodier hand is great for business. Other states have reduced the cost of permits (firearm populism!) and "simplified" the tests for permits. We presume it's something like "How mad are you right now?"

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Post-Racial America

Black Guy Stuck In Racism Infinity Loop When Bank Won't Deposit His Discrimination Settlement Checks

This is so damn exhausting.

It seems that a black man can't deposit his settlement checks from a racial discrimination suit without experiencing more racial discrimination. Sauntore Thomas opened the Russian nesting doll of racism at a Michigan bank that assumed his checks were funny money and sicced the cops on him.

Thomas sued TCF Bank for alleged race discrimination Wednesday (presumably, his third racial discrimination suit will be free). He claims the Livonia branch "mistreated and humiliated him." The bank instigated a fraud investigation and called in four police officers all because he was trying to deposit legitimate checks, which is usually standard bank activity.

TCF Bank spokesman Tom Wennerberg insisted that his employer "abhors racism" and that race wasn't a factor in its response. No, the checks simply had a watermark stating VOID when they were scanned in a web viewer, so the bank had no choice but to release the hounds. Thomas countered that the checks cleared at another bank just 12 hours later. He was a TCF account holder for two years, so he wasn't thrilled when two officers grilled him while two others stood guard outside.

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Impeachment

Bored Sixth-Graders Offer Tips To Help Republicans Behave Themselves At Impeachment Trial

If they hadn't already decided the outcome such behavior by a jury could be bad.

The day after Chief Justice John Roberts told both sides in Donald Trump's impeachment trial to behaaave themselves and remember they're speaking before the World's Greatest Deliberative Body, several Republican senators decided Wednesday they found the whole thing tedious, so they left their seats, ducked out to the cloakrooms, nodded off, and generally behaved like they were being forced to listen to a mandatory school assembly on railroad safety, only without even the prospect of some gory accident footage. Decorum is for losers, man. We suspect that by midafternoon today they were openly lighting their farts.

We suppose it only makes sense they'd make a great show of performing just how bored they are, like a common Fox News host would. That seems in keeping with Trump's defense team's presenting a load of Fox News talking points Tuesday, instead of any attempt to defend Trump's actual behavior.

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Impeachment

We *Think* Democrats Would Like Some Witnesses And Documents. Impeachment Liveblog, Day Three!

Hard to say for sure!

You guys, the Democrats are so fucking on message, and it is a sight to behold. As we've watched the first two days of the impeachment trial of Donald John Trump, we've noticed that, on top of how the Trump idiot lawyers are so outgunned and outmatched and big stupid idiot, the Democrats, led by Adam Schiff, are just brilliantly bringing the fight for witnesses and documents to the forefront every five minutes, so nobody will forget the cover-up the Republicans are trying to pull off.

"Don't you want to see that State Department cable John Bolton ordered Ambassador Bill Taylor to send? Wouldn't that be a cool document to get to read with your own eyeballs?"

Chuck Schumer and the Senate Democrats gave a presser this morning, and when Mazie Hirono wasn't making fun of Trump lawyer Pat Cipollone for saying Trump is a "man of his word" (she said she wrote in her notepad "what a wHoPpeR!!11!1"), Schumer and the others were blasting Trump's lawyers for how unprepared they are, and also too talking about witnesses and documents. Schumer noted that Democrats aren't even sure what the documents they are requesting say -- they could be totally exculpatory for the president! (He helpfully defined "exculpatory," we guess in case Trump was watching.)

Funny how Dems are willing to take that risk, yet Republicans are bedshitting terrified of it. It's almost like they know how guilty Trump is.

Republicans have been whining about how, despite how they are all paying really good attention, except for when they keep leaving the room for long stretches even though it is against the #rules, they are just not seeing anything new, waaaaaaaaaaaaAAAAH! (They are also whining that the Democrats say too many words.) Schumer -- or maybe it was another Senate Democrat, we forgot -- noted that if they are in the mood for #NewThings, he has this idea, and it is called subpoenas for witnesses and documents.

What a novel idea, for a trial!

In conclusion, Lindsey Graham says Adam Schiff is good at #talk:

Let us go forth and liveblog!

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Journamalism

Fox News Keeps America Up To Date On Everything But Impeachment

Concerned viewers worried the My Pillow guy might be removed from office.

Fox News has met the challenge of covering Donald Trump's impeachment trial with its usual aplomb. Mostly by not covering the trial at all, because on Wednesday at least it was just boring old Democrats saying terrible things about Donald Trump, and what Fox viewer wanted to see that? Wednesday morning, The "Fox & Friends" crew advised viewers to just not bother watching the trial at all, because SO BORING and you wouldn't want to go getting any information on you that hasn't been filtered by Fox.

Steve Doocy let viewers know they could rely on Fox to show them snippets of "the good stuff," proclaimed the proceedings "unbelievably boring," and added, "I don't know how people can follow it." Because it's so very complex, unlike the wacky conspiracy theories Fox pushes. Pete Hegseth said he'd exclaimed to his wife that Tuesday's debate on witnesses and evidence was "a circus," but then she corrected him, adding that "at least circuses are entertaining." Worse, now America has "three days to endure of the House managers, the Democrats, making their case," and oh God, how will we ever survive it? Ainsley Earhardt made clear there's no need for viewers to torment what's left of their attention spans, thank heavens: "I don't think the majority of people watched. I think they just turn to us to be able to summarize it for them, because it was so long."

The Fox viewers had their marching orders -- or their couch-potatoing orders -- and the network did all it could to tell people to stay away, with anchors repeatedly warning the trial might bore them to death or even sound like "a graduate course in boring mathematics or something." Ugh. NO THANK YOU!

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Gay Stuff

Nice Time: Utah Will Stop Trying To Torture The Gay Out Of Kids

Good riddance to rubbish science.

Utah has agreed to stop torturing children. It's crazy that this is even a victory rather than just a given, but Utah is only the 19th US state to ban conversion therapy for minors. The barbaric practice is supposed to change someone's sexual orientation or gender identity. It's widely discredited because it's garbage science that doesn't actually achieve its questionable goal. Conversion therapy is more likely to kill its victims. That's not hyperbole. LGBTQ youth are already at a greater risk of attempting suicide than heterosexual kids, but their suicide rate more than doubles when parents try to change who they are. If therapists and religious leaders get involved, the rate triples.

Gov. Gary Herbert, a Republican, issued the ban this week. Utah's legislature couldn't agree on stopping the practice last year, so Herbert turned to the state's Psychologist Licensing Board. He said at the time:

We're going to turn this to the licensing people. They'll use the best available science. They'll have the opportunity to see what works, what doesn't work. What should be done. What shouldn't be done.

The science has been clear on conversion therapy. The American Psychiatric Association has opposed it since 1998. The American Psychological Association told CNN that there's "insufficient evidence" psychological "interventions" can change a person's sexual orientation. Spokesperson Kim Mills said that instead of trying to change sexual orientation, young people are best served by therapies that involve "acceptance, support and identity exploration and development without imposing a specific identity outcome."

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