SAY WHAT? - "How exactly is 'diversity' our 'strength'?"
Oh, the smug ignorance of Tucker Carlson! Sometimes, in his certainty of rectitude, he asks questions that actually matter -- or would matter if they were asked with any sort of honesty. The above quote, blathered on his news show, recently started flickering again in my brain, when I read about a Florida teacher who was fired after sarcastically interrupting the prayer session of some Muslim students at their school, declaring (as per a Tik Tok video): "I believe in Jesus, so I'm interrupting the floor."
Uh, how exactly is diversity our strength? Or is it just an infuriating nuisance?
In Tucker World, diversity is a "strength" because it gives the true believers (you know, "us") an endless supply of enemies -- and having an enemy is an extremely useful uniting force. And in unity there is strength. Question answered.
But there is a much larger answer as well -- a "trans-political" answer, you might say. Which is to say, it's not simple. The true believers who hate diversity do so because it's an inconvenience, interrupting their certainty that what they believe, religiously, socially or politically, is The Truth (the whole truth, and nothing but). If that's the lie you're stuck in, then of course diversity is infuriating; it's forced tolerance, a.k.a., political correctness. Save us, Tucker!
SAY WHAT? - In November, George Santos became the first openly gay Republican elected to Congress. His election helped the GOP secure a slim majority in the House. But a New York Times investigation has found that the representative-elect may have misrepresented many key elements of his biography and resume during his campaign.
Santos claims to have graduated from Baruch College in 2010, but the New York school could find no records of Santos attending. Santos’s biography on the National Republican Congressional Committee includes mention of his having attended New York University. NYU could find no record of his attending either.
Santos has also claimed to have worked for Citigroup and Goldman Sachs after graduating. Neither Wall Street firm had any record of his working there.
SAY WHAT? - This week marks ten years since a gunman with an AR-15 assault rifle and other guns walked into an elementary school in Newton, Conn., opened fire, and slaughtered a classroom of 20 first-graders, ages six and seven; he also killed six adult educators. Since that then-inconceivable event, there have been occasional, hard-won, agonizingly meager changes aimed at curbing America's apocalyptic gun carnage - changes that over 70% of Americans, even Republicans, support - and yet the assault weapons proliferate and the bloodshed continues. 19 kids in Uvalde, Texas. Buffalo, New York. Club Q in Colorado Springs. In Virginia, a Walmart and U. of V. Today, gun violence remains the leading cause of death for children - far and above cancer - in the land of the free. At least 4,368 American children have been killed by guns in the last two years - a sickening 12 small bodies a day. Since Sandy Hook, Americans have bought at least 150 million more guns, and there have been 948 more school shootings. Note to America: WTF?
SAY WHAT? - Sorry, not sorry: A Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week for the creepy whining orange guy. To wit: In what could be a long-overdue "death knell," a New York jury ruled his super-grifty businesses committed a heap of super-grifty criminal fraud, just like we all thought, including 17 counts of tax fraud, conspiracy and falsifying business records. Also confirming everyone's worst suspicions, after a judge ordered his sketchy lawyers to look one more time for any more stolen classified documents he'd randomly strewn around the country, an independent team found some - surprise! - stuffed into a West Palm Beach storage unit; they will presumably be added to his growing rap sheet and the 103 illegally retained, justice-obstructing documents the FBI already found. And his dubious, hand-picked, only black friend lost the Senate seat in Georgia, thus rendering his final tally in state races to a less-than-stellar 2 for 14. On his un-truthy fake platform, he lamented, "OUR COUNTRY IS IN BIG TROUBLE. WHAT A MESS!" Yeah, well, thanks for nothin', Crime Guy who did so much to get us here.
SAY WHAT? - It's been a good week for Hitler, press coverage-wise, in the "battle of the psychopaths" that is America's current klatch of bigots, fascists, white supremacists, celebrity Nazis and, yes, Republicans. On Thursday, in a singular consortium of awful, rapper and anti-Semite Kanya "Ye" West joined white nationalist and anti-Semite Nick Fuentes on Sandy- Hook-denier and conspiracy wingnut Alex Jones' Infowarsshow so Jones could defend their honor after the backlash to their recent, creepy "Dine Kampf" moment with Trump at Mar-A-Lago. Lest we forget, the guy who declared there were "good people on both sides" of the rampaging, tiki-torch-and-swastika-bearing hordes in Charlottesville has been leading the GOP mainstreaming of Nazism for years with coded attacks on "George Soros," "international banks," "globalists" and "negotiators" who are "brutal killers" that queasily skirt outright anti-Semitic tropes but still transmit from the fever swamp the hate that dare not speak its name. Alas, this week West shattered that carefully crafted plausible deniability - what, me fascist? - with a toxic, manic, Hitler love-fest that left even the hateful Jones squirming. Near the end, he tried to steer the boat to safer waters by declaring, just before a commercial break, "I don't like Nazis." Quickly interjecting, Ye insisted, "I like Hitler." Muttered the newly discomfited Jones, "This is Twilight Zone 2.0."
SAY WHAT? - This weekend, as Russia's brutal, pointless, little-heeded war against Ukraine lurched on, grim images emerged on social media of Ukrainian soldiers caught in the bloody quagmire around Bakhmut, an eastern city that after months of fighting has devolved into a ravaged landscape of splintered, shell-torn trees, yawning artillery craters, strewn dead bodies, and sodden Ukrainian forces hunched in a muddy, freezing, deadlocked trench warfare against relentless enemy barrages that in its desolation and destruction some have likened to "the new Passchendaele." That infamous 1917 clash, also known as the Third Battle of Ypres, saw the Allies suffer roughly 300,000 casualties and inflict almost that many on the Germans in one of the most costly battles of World War One; it is remembered not only for its horrific loss of life but its freezing, sucking mud, "a monster," that drew soldiers to their deaths.
In "a bloody vortex for two militaries," Russian leaders desperate for a victory have been focused on moving reinforcements to the killing fields of Bakhmut. After so many reverses for their elite units, fighting has reportedly fallen to a mix of separatist militias, mercenaries and newly mobilized, ill-trained conscripts backed by massive artillery barrages, often aided by drones to make them particularly, lethally accurate. Amidst reports of Russian assaultson a "World War One hellscape," observers cite Russia's stunning disregard for their own troops, with commanders sending "single use" soldiers out in waves "like meat" to find Ukrainian positions; with Russian losses estimated at up to 300 a day, Ukraine "has become one giant graveyard" for them. Others say Ukraine's wet, cold winter is "the biggest killer" for "under-trained, under-supplied, ambivalently led" recruits lacking proper food, gear, boots or shelter, with dozens freezing to death.
SAY WHAT?- The 22-year-old gunman who murdered five and injured 25 in a gay nightclub in Colorado before being taken down by "heroic" patrons - because the way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a gay guy without a gun - was the grisly, deadly, inevitable outcome of hateful rhetoric targeting a marginalized group slamming into a country ominously packed with, sick with, guns. "What happens when an entire political party starts demonizing drag shows?" asked one furious patriot. "People get massacred at drag shows. This isn't rocket science." America's 6th mass shooting this month and 34th this year unfolded at Colorado Springs' Club Q, long the city's only LGBTQ club, which features birthday dance parties and a popular drag show on Saturdays; the night of the shooting, they'd posted about an "ALL AGES DRAG BRUNCH" the next day: "Let's prep for a fantastic Sunday Funday!" For queer residents of a deep red city that hosts several military bases and the fundamentalist Focus on the Family, which preaches that same-sex anything is "a particularly evil lie of Satan" and has spent over $515 million in anti-LGBTQ advocacy to prove it, Club Q was not just a nightclub but "our safe space," ”a second home full of chosen family," "one of the few places where I didn't have to worry (about) people hating me for who I am." "It was the only space in the entire city (where) LGBTQ people felt safe," said one. "And now that's shattered."
SAY WHAT? - Trump’s Secretary of State Mike Pompeo just proved that he is the stupidest person in the world.
He said in an interview that Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers, is “the most dangerous person in the world.”
More dangerous than the President of China, Xi Jinping, who is threatening the survival of Taiwan and re-imposing a repressive regime across China.
More dangerous than President Kim, the dictator of North Korea, who is threatening South Korea and the rest of the world, with his intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons.
More dangerous than Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, who is trying to destroy the people of Ukraine by destroying their access to heat, light, and water as winter begins,in addition to raining deadly missiles on them.
No, Pompeo says, Randi is “the most dangerous person in the world.”
Why? Because she leads a teachers’ unions, and unions are evil.
Teachers too are evil, Pompeo believes, because the children of America can’t read, write, or do math.
SAY WHAT? - Taking a break from his busy schedule of stripping half the American populace of bodily autonomy, Justice Samuel Alito, the smug, sneering, imperious face of a fundamentalist SCOTUS supermajority "redefining the Constitutional landscape, and not to Americans' liking," got a standing ovation last week from the swanky zealots of the Federalist Society who in large part made it possible - thus proving again, despite Barack's best intentions, we are not really all one country. There is no fouler proof of our divisions than the six, Catholic, extremist justices who now make up the majority of the Supreme Court - though the presidents who chose them have lost 7 of the last 8 popular votes - and who are resolutely driving the country's laws "sharply to the right" of mainstream public opinion. Alito, of course, wrote the opinion overturning Roe v Wade, though he had to stoop to misquoting a 12-century Christian crank in his abject effort to justify revoking a right that two-thirds of the country supports. Amid heavy security, he was joined by three of his accomplices - Barrett, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh - at the Federalist Society's 40th anniversary gala, where 2,000 aging, fearful, sectarian dinosaurs in tuxes and ball gowns applauded their sordid work holding back the tides of change and time. Roberts had hedged on Dobbs, calling the ruling "a jolt to the legal system." Only Clarence Thomas of the Hard-Core Four stayed home, likely plotting the next coup with his lovely "terrorist-in-pearls" wife Ginni, God love 'em both 'cause who else would?
SAY WHAT? - Bigly loser, longtime grifter, "bloated tick" and inept, narcissistic, twice-impeached catastrophe of a former president Donald Trump, who after losing yet again threw a hissy fit, led a terrorist attack against the U.S. Capitol to overthrow our government and now faces a mountain of legal charges and investigations, has announced from the scene of his criminally stolen classified documents that he's again running for president in an apparent, desperate, surreal attempt to avoid prison. In an incoherent, half-hearted, lie-filled - with some real doozies - speech at Mar-A-Lago, where he evidently recycled the gaudy gold chairs from his daughter Tiffany's weekend wedding, Trump slouched as he declared his candidacy "in order to make America great and glorious again." In response, Liz Cheney celebrated a candidacy that made him "the first former president to run for staying out of jail." Reading dully from a teleprompter, Trump told the small fervent crowd, "Your country is being destroyed before your eyes," "I've gone decades without a war," and "The carters of power are ours, and we are coming to take those carters back." Before he spoke, a plane flew overhead with a banner reading, "You lost again, Donald"; it trailed a DeSantis hashtag.
SAY WHAT? - Last week - we apologize for tech delays - marked the 84th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the infamous night in 1938 when German Nazis orchestrated a wave of violence against its Jewish citizens now widely deemed the start of a Holocaust that ultimately murdered over six million. Reports after the Nov. 9-10 "Night of Broken Glass" across Germany and Austria said 92 people were killed, about 7,500 homes and businesses were looted or burned, 267 synagogues went up in flames; today, historians say those numbers were much higher, with at least 1,300 people killed and over 1,400 synagogues, or most of them, destroyed. There is general agreement that 30,000 people were also arrested and sent to concentration camps in what was the first instance of Nazi state-sanctioned violence - though they long denied it - in a systematic effort to annihilate Europe’s Jews. The first anti-Jewish laws were passed soon after that night, which marked the end of the ability of Jews to lead public lives in Germany and the start of a massive exodus from Europe; of those who stayed, millions - two out of three - died in concentration camps.
SAY WHAT? - Whew. For now, the dreaded Red Wave has shrunk into a trickle, a dribble, a malignant puddle that more than one sage suggested had been just angry ketchup on the walls of Mar-A-Lago. "The Red Wave is off," rejoiced one observer, thanks to the steadfast work and hope of primarily women, young people and many others defiantly rejecting our descent into a kakotopia of hate, greed, fear, bigotry and totalitarianism. America to fascist theocracy: No thanks, not today, the best efforts of Mike Flynn et al notwithstanding. With final numbers still emerging, we don't know what the House or Senate will ultimately look like, other than, of course, hopelessly balkanized. We know only that Trump, GOP zealotry and the notion that ever-fickle women had "moved on" from Dobbs lost Tuesday. What won: Abortion rights, activism, equity, truth, the thoughtful prioritizing of real freedoms - to vote, choose, love, organize - over the cost of gas. "We killed the Red Wave," declared Michael Moore, who charged that "we were lied to for months by the pundits and pollsters and media" who claimed the GOP would win 60 more House seats because "simple" Americans cared most about crime and the price of milk. Instead, the people built "a blue wall to stop an ugly wave...It was their Democracy they came to fight for."
SAY WHAT? - This week, tearful but tenacious families of the 19 children murdered in their Uvalde classrooms at Robb Elementary School marked Día de Muertos, Day of the Dead, by marching on the Texas capitol to both honor their lost children and reiterate their (futile) months-long pleas for sensible gun reform from Gov. Greg 'Could-Have-Been-Worse' Abbott and his retrograde cabal of GOP lawmakers - a dauntless act, after so much anguish, one admirer likened to "the courage of a million gladiators." According to tradition, the souls of dead children descend from heaven at midnight on Oct. 31 to reunite with their families; the next day, the souls of dead adults - here, two teachers - come to visit. The Austin event, organized by the Mexican American Legislative Caucus of the Texas Legislature, featured a vigil and speeches at the Statehouse, followed by an eerily silent procession to the governor's mansion; en route, families carried a large ofrenda, or altar, adorned with Our Lady of Guadalupe, painted skulls, photos of the dead, foods they liked, and marigolds said to entice the souls of the dead. A note in front read, "Protect Our Children: 21 por 21" - a reference to their oh-so-minimal demand to raise the legal age to buy an assault rifle from 18 to 21 in honor of 21 lives lost. Ana Rodriquez, whose only daughter Maite was killed: "We should be choosing her Halloween costume together, but instead I'm making her an ofrenda."
SAY WHAT? - Oh look. Another woman has come forward - on-camera - to accuse serial fabulist, "warrior for God," and purported-when-politically-convenient "pro-lifer" Herschel Walker of coercing her to have an abortion, thus bringing his current number of (known) lies about his schooling, business, children and intrepid service on Paw Patrol to...8,472, we think. The vital, potentially Senate-flipping race for Georgia's Senate seat remains (WTF) too close to call. But Walker has pulled slightly ahead, never mind he's an incoherent, ignorant clown who embodies everything the party of alleged family values decries: He has an unseemly history of violent criminal behavior, he had often-abusive relationships with multiple women, he abandoned multiple children whose existence he tried to hide even as he preached about the evil of absentee Black fathers, and now he's apparently helped, per the GOP's fanatical, perfidious world view, murder at least two more of his children while persistently lying about it. He's also a longtime friggin' Texas resident, recruited by the GOP mostly for his deep tan; still, he told Fox News, he "always thought about Georgia," so there's that. Good thing the GOP is so laser-focused on preserving the patriarchal order, and they have no shame.
SAY WHAT? - Even as deaths mount from violent attacks by security forces sometimes firing live ammunition, tens of thousands of unwavering Iranians are still taking to the streets to protest the murder by Iran's "morality police" of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini - for the crime of improperly wearing her hijab - and, increasingly, to call for the end of their country's brutal regime. This week, huge women-led crowds again defied police to commemorate the 40th day since Amini's death, a key Shiite Islam tradition. As thousands traveled to her grave in her Kurdish hometown of Saqqez to grieve, pay their respects, and furiously chant "Death to the dictator!", Iranian forces fired both live rounds and tear gas at them. Six weeks after her death, similar scenes played out the same day across the country as police opened fire on massive crowds of protesters still there, still chanting, "We will fight, we will die, we will take back Iran."
SAY WHAT? - Predictably, the debate between Pennsylvania's John Fetterman and New Jersey carpetbagger Mehmet Oz turned into a Rashomon-like affair of wildly disparate responses, notably to Fetterman's post-stroke struggle to fully regain speech - though plainly not cognition, as in, "It's the Oz rule: If he’s on TV, he’s lying.” With Fetterman's sometime pauses and stumbles the focus of much gawking, some deemed his appearance "a Rorschach test of comfort with disability (in) a culture of sound bites, mic drops and clapbacks," especially in contrast to a fast-talking, smoothly-seasoned TV doctor. There was harsh coverage- "journalist" and Ann Coulter fan-girl Olivia Nuzzi found Fetterman "absolutely painful to watch" - but also praise from advocates, $2 million in donations, and empathetic push-back on "explicit and deliberate ableism." People lauded Fetterman's transparency on a difficult recovery, his bravery in going ahead with a debate, and his frequent, still-cogent zingers: "One of us is running to serve Pennsylvania, and one of us is running to use Pennsylvania." One observer found it "less painful and off-putting" to watch Fetterman's halting speech than Oz' "cruel and smirking jabs," though alas, for a good segment of today's voters, "cruel and smirking works well." "He's perfectly capable of doing the job, but he has a disability that's 'unseemly,' so the pundit class has to treat him as if he's incapable," went one response. Another: "Welcome to being a disabled person in America."
SAY WHAT? - GOP Florida Senator, walking empty suit and "pathetic liar" Lil' Marco Rubio is looking like a wet pale bath towel hung out to dry this month after two blistering public encounters with very different but equally fierce critics. Running for a third term in the Senate - even though he was sick of it until he got beat by Trump and galvanized by his state's 2016 Pulse Nightclub shooting which he then did "nothing" about maybe because he's missed almost four times more roll call votes than other lawmakers - he faced off this week against incendiary Democratic Rep. Val Demings in their only debate, much of which he spent gazing sullenly down at his lectern looking like his mom was yelling at him. Wonkette's very fine headline: "Val Demings Performs Live Weasel Dissection in Florida Debate." To his shame if he had any, Rubio took far-right positions on both big issues of the day - abortion and guns - but clumsily scrambled not to admit it; confronted on abortion, he said he's "100% 'pro-life'" but repeatedly dodged questions about a national ban without exception, which he's said he supports. "He can make his mouth say anything today," snapped Demings. "He is good at that, by the way. What day is it and what is Marco Rubio saying?" Then she furiously ripped the stance he denied he had: "No, Senator, I don’t think it’s OK for a 10-year-old girl to be raped and have to carry the seed of her rapist...I don’t think it’s OK for you to make decisions for women and girls." One observer, "I wouldn't trust him to make decisions about cereal."
SAY WHAT? - Because evidently nothing is sacred, Alaska’s Katmai National Park officials for the first time uncovered nefarious ballot-stuffing by unknown persons (probably Antifa) in this year's wildly popular Fat Bear Week before crowning a chonky new winner: salmon-scarfing, 1,400-pound Bear 747, aka "Bear Force One." Amidst the world's sorrowful ecological news - like the recent World Wildlife Fund's Living Planet Report that found a devastating 70% decline of wild animals since 1970 in what has become a "fast-emptying ark" - wildlife officials fete the Fat Bear contest as a welcome "celebration of success and survival," a tribute to "the resilience, adaptability and strength of Katmai’s brown bears," along with the park's flourishing ecosystem. Begun as Fat Bear Tuesday in 2014, the contest has blown up into a week-long, knock-out, march-madness-style battle that last year drew almost 800,000 impassioned votes to determine which bear has bulked up the most to prepare for winter. Each spring, the bears emerge hungry and emaciated from hibernation, when they can lose up to one third of their body weight. Each summer, Katmai officials explain, "Bears gorge on the richest and most easily obtainable foods they can find. In Katmai National Park, that most often means salmon" - up to 500 pounds of it, mostly at the salmon-teeming Brooks River where dozens of bears regularly gather to plump up before entering their dens. For bears, they say, "Fat equals survival."
SAY WHAT? - Honestly, we dunno if there's any good or godly reason to go there, stomach-churning as it is, but what the fuck is wrong with these sick soulless cretins like Alex Jones and Sean Hannity whose sole purpose in life is evidently to cause pain, stir chaos and otherwise mess with what one rightly horrified observer calls "the very underpinnings of civilization...the gestalt of the social universe"? On Wednesday, a Connecticut jury ordered far-right psychopath Alex Jones and his heinous Infowars to pay a $965 million penance to the families of young Sandy Hook victims for a decade - their kids would be teenagers now if not slaughtered - of trauma and terror and grief upon grief. As the verdict was read - 15 plaintiffs awarded from $28 million to $120 million each - the families quietly wept, bowed their heads, reached out to each other. And in a split-screen video, a deeply demented Jones cackled through a live-stream, grotesquely cheering on each award - "Yes! Get those numbers up!" - like a fat witless ghoul, pausing only to hawk diet supplements. What the ever-loving fuck. Parkland father Fred Guttenberg captured the all-round revulsion: "Alex is a scum-sucking low-life dirtbag who deserves his place in hell." One wistful observer, skeptical of a smiting God: "I actually wish I believed in hell just so Alex Jones could go there."
SAY WHAT? - It's an apt day to pay tribute to Native American actress and activist Sacheen Littlefeather, who died earlier this month after a lifetime of "keeping my voice and the voices of (our) people alive" - most famously, in a commanding, 60-second speech at the 1973 Academy Awards when she rejected an award on behalf of Marlon Brando to protest "the treatment of American Indians (by) the film industry." A 26-year-old member of the Screen Actors' Guild, she was the first woman of color and the first indigenous woman to use the Awards to make a political statement - now, a common gesture, but at the time a radical act by a gutsy young woman who'd lived a hard life "between two worlds." Her father was a mix of Apache and Yaqui, her mother was white, both were mentally ill and unable to care for her; in her teens, confused about her identity, she'd had a breakdown: "I could not tell the difference between me and my pain." But amidst the birth of a Native American rights movement in the 1960s and early 70s, she began visiting reservations, traveling to activist actions and re-learning Native traditions: "The old people...taught us young people how to be Indian again. It was wonderful."