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What They Voted For: The Laughingstock

#AmericanPrestige | #WhatTheyVotedFor

President-elect Donald Trump delivers his first official news conference since winning the November election, 11 January 2017 in New York City. (Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Because the first part of the making something great again is wrecking it so that it needs to be recovered:

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of Iran, reads a copy of 'Fire and Fury', by Michael Wolff, at the Tehran Book Fair, 11 May 2018. (via Instagram)On Friday, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was pictured in a post on his Instagram feed at the Tehran Book Fair.

Nothing unusual there, but in one image he was seen reading a Persian-language edition of Michael Wolff’s book Fire and Fury. The subject of which, of course, is the chaos inside Mr Trump’s White House.

When the book was released in January, it was described as a “bombshell” by commentators as it raised doubts over Mr Trump’s mental health.

It claimed Mr Trump said he pursued his friends’ wives, that his daughter Ivanka would mock him, and that the US president would eat cheeseburgers in bed.

(BBC)

This is, of course, only days after President Hassan Rouhani responded to President Trump’s dereliction of a nuclear treaty by “conferring with the world’s two super powers, Russia and China”.

Yes, this demolition of American prestige is precisely what Republicans voted for. They cannot prove to us that government doesn’t work unless they break everything; they cannot make the nation great “again” if they do not lay it low. And, yes, in their own way, a game show host and flaccid farce, an obvious subject for Ayatollah Khamenei to scorch with such easy, demonstrative, blistering critique, is precisely what Trump supporters voted for.

This is actually part of their supremacism: It is easier to foster a world war if supporters feel insulted by the designated enemy; Trump seems to think Iranians are as simplistic as his followers, so he makes it easy for the Ayatollah to zing the President of the United States because he knows the magagaga are, themselves, easy marks.

They did elect him, after all.

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Image note: Top — President-elect Donald Trump delivers his first official news conference after winning the November election, 11 January 2017 in New York City. (Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)  Right — Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of Iran, reads a copy of Fire and Fury, by Michael Wolff, at the Tehran Book Fair, 11 May 2018. (via Instagram)

British Broadcasting Corporation. “Is Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei trolling Trump?” BBC News. 11 May 2018.

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A Memo to American Conservatives: Self-Gratifying Mess

#closeteers | #WhatTheyVotedFor

Corset looks forward to using Brief. (Detail of Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt, ep. 12, "D.C. Confidential")

MEMORANDUM

To: American Conservatives

re: Triggerella and the Perverts

When the right wing makes a nasty, self-gratifying mess of itself― ....

Yeah, you know, that’s just not an encouraging start, is it? Still, though, how conservatives manage to make such a perverse, awful mess out of pizza isn’t exactly a mystery for the ages. It’s easy enough to make the point that people like Comet Ping Pong gunman Edgar Maddison Welch are mere tools; or remind that the “alt”-right, as they are presently known, are least scathingly described as seemingly unwitting agents of international interests except for the fact that they are at least sanguine with their place in that exploitative scheme and, as such, would rather be known as willing grifters openly working against the best interests of their country than easy marks in a pabulum-grade propaganda swindle; but there is another important question we ought to consider, as well, and that is the dangerous, sexually deviant obsessions displayed by conservative scandalmongers.

What makes Comet such a distinct place—a beloved haven for outside-the-mainstream people and art—is what has whet the appetites of alt-right fanatics looking for an outlet for their hate. In a large-scale gestural mural of people and faces by an artist who’s played the Comet stage, conspiracy theorists see a depiction of a child being strangled. In run-of-the-mill bathroom graffiti, they see secret sexual messages. In the lack of labeling for the gender-neutral bathrooms, haters with a political agenda see “secret rooms.” In Heavy Breathing, a band composed of decade-plus veterans of the D.C. music scene that traffics in stylized, abrasive, tongue-in-cheek electro-punk—only the truly humorless would not receive it as such—they see child-abusing satanists. In the venue’s all-ages policy, a time-honored practice of radical inclusion in the D.C. punk scene, they see a cover for pedophilia.

And in Josh Vogelsong—who has been bartending and helping book shows at Comet since 2011 and also performs in drag as Donna Slash—and his fellow drag queens who’ve performed at the venue, the alt-right sees degenerate weirdos who represent an America they’d like to destroy. For weeks, Vogelsong has been harassed and received death threats on Instagram from #pizzagate believers. User @rb.sad called him a “dumb bitch, or whatever the fuck you are” and a “fucking tranny,” he told Slate. User @debbieoconnell_ called him a “PAEDOPHILE CHILD MOLESTING ASS PIECE OF GARBAGE.” Other internet trolls have threatened “Hillary will be dead soon and so will you” and “we’re gonna slit your throat and bathe in your blood.”

“There’s just so much on Instagram—me in drag, photos of drag queens covered in blood, and bands doing weird shit—that it’s easy for people to see it and be like, ‘Oh my God!'” Vogelsong said. D.C. drag queen Summer Camp, who once appeared covered in red fluid in an Instagram photo for a Halloween event at Comet, has also been threatened by members of the alt-right in recent weeks. So has Cis Jenner, another local queen who performed at Comet years ago and now gets Facebook messages calling her a “Satanist homo.” “Hope I get to watch u bleed out n get a hard on from it,” one said.

Many of the #pizzagate blog posts claiming to find circumstantial evidence of a pedophilia ring at Comet have specifically referenced the sexuality and gender identities of the owner, who is gay, and staff. Conspiracy theorists who have gone through Vogelsong’s Instagram, where he advertised his shifts to friends with a photo of two buff men scarfing down a single slice, now claim his posts are code for gay men doing obscene things to children.

(Cauterucci and Fischer; boldface emphasis added)

So, this one is pretty straightforward.

• If you are all lathered up in a moral rage about the Satanist homo, why? Is it the Satanism? Because while the literature has plenty to say about watching people bleed, if dude gets hard watching homo dude do anything at all, then dude is a fuckin’ homo, too. Get thee out of the closet, bitch! Stupid enough to be scared sadistic is no decent way to go through life.

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Image note: Corset looks forward to using Brief. (Detail of Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt, ep. 12, “D.C. Confidential”)

Cauterucci, Christina and Jonathan L. Fischer. “Comet Is D.C.’s Weirdo Pizza Place. Maybe That’s Why It’s a Target.” Slate. 6 December 2016.

One of Those Important Things

Ninamori eats a popsicle.  (Detail of FLCL episode 5, 'Brittle Bullet')

So this is how it goes: Ms. Thomas’ right to expression of conscience is at least as protected as the bigots demanding “religious freedom” in order to discriminate. Still, though, look at the outcome. Religious supremacism and the right to bully people? Apparently we need a Religious Freedom Restoration Act to protect supremacism as if it was equality. But, hey, being gay? Offensive. The idea of human rights for women? Offensive. These things, apparently, need to be suppressed. You know, as a matter of freedom and equality.

When 8th grader Sophie Thomas got her class picture this year, she was shocked to see that her t-shirt had been photoshopped. The actual shirt has one hand-lettered word on it: ‘Feminist.’ The picture shows her wearing a plain black shirt.

Sophie wasn’t about to take that lying down. She posted a picture on Instagram of herself in the t-shirt, along with this message:

“HELLO EVERYBODY! I UNDERSTAND THAT THIS PICTURE ISN’T GREAT, BUT THERE IS AN ISSUE AT HAND. I WORE A SHIRT WITH THE WORD “FEMINIST” ON IT. OUR SCHOOL TOOK A PICTURE OF OUR GRADE TO HANG UP IN THE SCHOOL. TODAY, I FOUND OUT THEY BLACKED OUT MY SHIRT. I WENT TO OUR PRINCIPAL AND SHE CLAIMED IT WAS “OFFENSIVE” AND SHE “DIDN’T WANT IT IN THE PHOTO”

THIS FRIDAY, APRIL 17TH 2015, IS THE DAY MY PROTEST TAKES PLACE. EVERYONE PARTICIPATING WILL BE WEARING A SHIRT WITH A PHRASE LIKE “I DESERVE FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION” OR “FEMINISM ISN’T OFFENSIVE” OR ANYTHING THAT YOU BELIEVE FITS! PLEASE MAKE A SHIRT AND JOIN US AND HELP TAKE CARE OF THIS ISSUE. PLEASE REPOST AND SPREAD EVERYWHERE USING THE HASHTAG #IDESERVEFREEDOMOFEXPRESSION THANK YOU!”

That certainly got people’s attention — not only among students in this little town of Batavia, Ohio, but also in the media- nationally and internationally.

(Montesano)

And as we are wont to say, things only go downhill from there.

But this is what it’s really about. Supremacism is not equality, and we really ought to reject any sort of community standard that would suggest otherwise.

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Image note: Eri Ninamori eats a popsicle. Details of frames from FLCL episode 5, “Brittle Bullet”.

Montesano, Deborah. “8th Grade Feminist Is The Winner In Dispute With Narrow-Minded School Officials”. Addicting Info. 17 April 2015.

A Sideshow, Squared

Representative Aaron Schock, a Republican from Illinois, pauses while speaking during an interview in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014.  Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee resisted parts of the early versions of Chairman Dave Campo's plan for the biggest tax-code changes since 1986, said Schock.  Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images.

“Of course, we don’t know for sure whether Schock is gay. All we know is that relatively few heterosexuals are forced from office by an interior decorating scandal.”

Matt Baume

Well, you know, there is that.

Then again, there is a bit more to it, as Matt Baume explains:

If Schock is in the closet, it’s a closet that he helped perpetuate during his years in Congress. Thanks to his opposition to open military service, marriage equality, and hate crime protection for LGBT people, he earned a perfect 0-percent rating from the Human Rights Campaign. Too bad HRC doesn’t award bonus points for best swimwear ....

.... When I talk about Schock’s “closet,” I mean the system of keeping LGBTs down by intimidating and disadvantaging them. Schock never met an anti-gay law he didn’t like, even though he was uncomfortable when asked why. Laws like those Schock supported are designed to oppress gays and lesbians, and they send a clear message: Sure, go ahead and be openly gay; just remember that you could lose your job, your home, your safety, or your life.

While it is true that Schock has long been subject to rumors and jokes about his sexualityα, it really doesn’t seem to be relevant here. Well, except for the point about the decorating.

That, at least, seems to be worth a chuckle.

And none of which should take away from Baume’s point; the LGBT community has reason to celebrate this falling from grace. Not that the one has much to do with the other except for a vague discussion about corruption of the soul or psyche, but still, you know, we take what we can get.

Ain’t that always the way?

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α There was the bit about the teal belt. And John Aravosis certainly entertained himself with the notion last year, and enough noise happened that Salon picked up on the murmur, and things have gone on the way they’ve gone on so that, well, now a scandal-plagued congressman infamous for his overdecorated office can’t possibly resign in shame without a queer question controversy.

Image note: Representative Aaron Schock, a Republican from Illinois, pauses while speaking during an interview in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014. Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee resisted parts of the early versions of Chairman Dave Campo’s plan for the biggest tax-code changes since 1986, said Schock. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images.

Baume, Matt. “Aaron Schock and the Closets of Downton Abbey”. The Huffington Post. 19 March 2015.

See Also:

Savage, Dan. “Rep. Aaron Schock’s Belt Is…”. Slog. 15 June 2010.

Aravosis, John. “Anti-gay GOPer Aaron Schock locks down Instagram account as outing rumors swirl”. AmericaBlog. 4 January 2014.

D’Addario, Daniel. “The bizarre quasi-‘outing’ of Aaron Schock”. Salon. 6 January 2014.

Petrow, Steven. “Civilities: Please stop pink-baiting Aaron Schock”. The Washington Post. 20 March 2015.

The Barbaras

Via the one and only Meredith Shiner:

Such reflections come on the heels of news that Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) will retire at age seventy-eight, after a thirty-year run in the upper chamber:

Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski announced Monday she will not seek another term in the Senate.

Speaking at a press conference, the Maryland Democrat said she asked herself: “Do I spend my time raising money, or do I spend my time raising hell?”

Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-CA; left) and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), in undated, uncredited photo via Instagram.Mikulski, 78, is the longest serving woman in Congress. She has been in the Senate since 1987, after serving 10 years in the House.

Her retirement will likely launch a feeding frenzy among candidates eager to run for a rare open Senate seat in Maryland. Both party campaign committees quickly released statements arguing the seat’s competitiveness in a state Democrats have dominated statewide in federal races ....

.... Mikulski is the second senator to announce she is retiring next year, following California Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer.

(Levinson and Lesniewski)

2016 will be an interesting cycle, to say the least.

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Image note: Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-CA; left) and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), in undated, uncredited photo via Instagram.

Shiner, Meredith. “omg this pic”. Twitter. 2 March 2015.

Levinson, Alexis and Niels Lesniewski. “Mikulski Will Not Seek Another Term (Updated)”. At the Races. 2 March 2015.

What Passes for Family Values in Texas

Futility is the essence of the Camusite Absurd. And, yes, Sisyphus is happy. Even when he is unhappy.

Dan Savage offers Sisyphan Texans a bit of advice:

Antigay protesters in Houston, Texas, teach their children to fantasize about hating other people, 2 November 2014.  Photos and collage by Brad Pritch.1. To homophobic parents who bring their kids to antigay hate rallies: You tempt the God of Irony when you put your prepubescent children in antigay T-shirts. Seriously. That could come back to haunt you one day. But, hey, that pic will make for a hilarious #TBT on your grown-up gay kid’s Instagram account one day—provided, of course, that his hateful parents didn’t drive him to suicide before he could come out. (Like Chris Rock said: “Whoever you hate will end up in your family. You don’t like gays? You’re gonna have a gay son. You don’t like Puerto Ricans? Your daughter’s gonna come home with Livin’ La Vida Loca!”)

2. So you reserve the right to discriminate against gay people? You don’t want gay people patronizing your businesses? Great! Put that fact in your ads, put it on a sign in your window, mention it in all of your marketing materials. But you won’t, of course, because when it comes right down to it … you’re a bunch of fucking cowards.

Just, you know. Don’t blame the children for being assholes. That is acquired behavior, learned from parents who have no earthly business raising children.

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Savage, Dan. “Antigay Haters Reserve the Right to Discriminate Against Homosexuals on the Down Low”. Slog. 4 November 2014.

Image credit Photos and collage by Brad Pritch.