On Being A Feminist

October 10, 2017

Being a feminist doesn’t mean that you are “angry inside,” but it may mean you get angry when you see people treated differently based upon their gender, skin color, or ethnicity.

Being a feminist doesn’t mean you don’t appreciate an appropriate acknowledgment of some aspect of your character, but it may mean you don’t like it when random men on the street provide feedback about your boobs.

Being a feminist doesn’t mean you don’t lead a “normal life,” but it may mean that you understand that “normal” may be different for other people, and that everyone should find out what “normal” means for them.

Being a feminist doesn’t mean that you aren’t moral, but it may mean that you appreciate and respect that others may have different values than you do.

Being a feminist doesn’t mean that you hate men, although it may mean that you prefer a woman as sexual partner.

Being a feminist doesn’t mean you sleep with every man or woman you meet, but it may mean that you are comfortable exploring your sexuality in a mature and thoughtful way.

Being a feminist doesn’t mean that you are always on the look out for oppression, but it may mean that you are sensitive to situations in which someone is being evaluated or treated differently because of their gender, ethnicity, race, or religion.

Being a feminist doesn’t mean that you “won’t raise a family,” but it may mean that you do a lot of thinking about when and whether having children is something you are ready and able to do well.

It also may mean recognizing that the definition of “family” doesn’t necessarily mean getting married to a man and having and raising biological children with him.

Being a feminist doesn’t mean you have to have short hair, a bold look, or a confrontational facial expression. It may mean that you don’t buy into to societal norms about what constitutes feminine beauty, or that being physically pleasing to men may not be the most important thing on your list of priorities.

Being a feminist also means that you probably don’t make broad generalities about others based upon a staggering misunderstanding about what “feminism” actually means.

If you think about it, being a feminist pretty much means that you advocate that women not be treated differently from men – in the home, workplace, and society in general – simply because they have different body parts.

In fact, being a feminist pretty much means not being an asshole. Which is more than I can say for the person who created this meme.

Unpacking Charlottesville

August 14, 2017

Instead of jabbering on about my own thoughts about our President’s reaction to the events of August 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia, I thought I would share some of the most interesting comments I’ve seen to date.

First, some great tweets to give us some much-needed perspective:

• “Thought it was worth noting that more than 750,000 already gave their lives fighting Nazis and the Confederacy.” @pbump
• “Imagine sucking so f***ing bad that being a white guy is hard for you?” @ mikeyfrecks
• “US Army: Charlottesville suspect reported for basic military training but failed to meet standards and was released from active duty.” @jaketapper (Observation: Perhaps Tomi Lahren was right?)
• “Let it sink in: Today a woman died on US soil while fighting Nazis.” @mattaukamp
• “Not many presidents could make threatening nuclear war the second worst thing he did in a week.” @gadyepstein
• “Wish Trump could find the same anger for murderous Nazis as he did for Nordstrom after it stopped selling his daughter’s handbags.” @gilbertjasono
• “Nazis and confederates are white people that lost wars to other white people but somehow its still brown people’s fault.” Open Mike Eagle
• “Trumps thoughts on Obama – Disaster; Paris – Sh**hole; White House – dump; Boy Scouts – liars; Neo-Nazi Rally – many sides to issue.” @MattOswaltPA
• “The only good thing Hitler ever did was kill Hitler.” @blainecapatch
• “The only reason for an American to hold a Nazi flag is if it has been captured in battle.” @TKOastIsBack
• “If you have ever wondered what you would have done in Germany in 1937, or during the Civil Rights movement, you’re doing it right now.”

Next, some strong words from GOP leaders…

• Senator Orrin Hatch, R – Utah: “We should call evil by its name. My brother didn’t give his life fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged here at home.”
• Senator John McCain, R – Arizona: “White supremacists aren’t patriots, they’re traitors – Americans must unite against hatred & bigotry. #Charlottesville
• Senator Cory Gardner, R – Colorado: “This is terrorism, this is domestic terrorism, this is white nationalism, and it has to stop.”

…even some who ran for president in 2016 (but apparently weren’t racist enough), who thought that the perhaps our President ought to call these hoodlums out for what they are:

• Senator Ted Cruz, R – Texas: “The Nazis, the KKK, and white supremacists are repulsive and evil, and all of us have a moral obligation to speak out against the lies, bigotry, anti-Semitism, and hatred that they propagate.”
• Senator Marco Rubio, R – Florida: “Nothing patriotic about #Nazis, the #KKK or #WhiteSupremacists. It’s the direct opposite of what #Americaseeks to be.”
• Jeb Bush – “The white supremacist and their bigotry do not represent our great country. All Americans should condemn this vile hatred. #Charlottesville.”
• Mike Huckabee – “‘White Supremacy’ crap is the worst kin of racism – it’s EVIL and perversion of God’s truth to ever think our Creator values some above others.”
• NJ Gov. Chris Christie (R) – “We reject the racism and violence of white nationalists like the ones acting out in Charlottesville. Everyone in leadership must speak out.”
• Senator Lindsey Graham, R – South Carolina: “[Trump] missed an opportunity to be very explicit here. These groups seem to believe they have a friend in Donald Trump in the White House.”
• Ohio Gov. John Kasich: “I think a president can always provide some leadership on a subject like this.”

Even some in Trump’s own administration opined that what happened was bad and that white supremacists aren’t cool, such as…

• Vice President Mike Pence: “We have no tolerance for hate and violence from white supremacists, neo Nazis or the KKK. We should be putting the attention where it belongs, and that is on those extremist groups that need to be pushed out of the public debate entirely and discredited for the hate groups and dangerous fringe groups that they are.”
• Attorney General Jeff Sessions: “When such actions arise from racial bigotry and hatred, they betray our core values and cannot be tolerated.”
• Opportunist in Chief, Ivanka Trump: “There should be no place in society for racism, white supremacy and neo-nazis.”
• Homeland Security Advisor Tom Bossert: “I condemn white supremacists and racists and white Nazi groups and all the other groups that espouse this kind of hatred and exclusion.”

Perhaps in an attempt to remind us what leadership looks like, former President Barack Obama had to be all noble and stuff, tweeting a quote from Nelson Mandela: “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love. For love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” But you can just ignore him, because, Hillary’s emails.

Despite the good intentions of those in the Trump Administration who believe that people brandishing torches and carrying Nazi flags are irredeemably despicable, some thought that perhaps our President should have been more clear on that point:

• “If your staff has to clarify that you’re not a white supremacist, you are a galactically sh**y president and/or a white supremacist.” @kibblesmith

But at least ONE group was happy – Neo Nazi Website “The Daily Stormer:”

• “He didn’t attack us. He just said the nation should come together. Nothing specific against us,” wrote Andrew Anglin, the website’s founder. No condemnation at all. When asked to condemn, he just walked out of the room. Really, really good. God bless him.”

As John Oliver said, moreover, “Nazis are a lot like cats. If they like you, it’s probably because you’re feeding them.”

The always gracious Governor John Kasich wondered if perhaps President Trump might be “uncomfortable” discussing the issue, stating, “[t]here are a lot of people who are just not comfortable with the issue…” But, as @epicciuto noted on Twitter, “Trump was more willing to call his country’s intelligence community Nazis than he was to call actual Nazis Nazis.”

Indeed, on January 11, 2017, Trump tweeted, “[i]ntelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to ‘leak’ into the public. One last shot at me. Are we living in Nazi Germany?”

And that’s as good a question now as it was seven months ago: Are we in fact living in a society where Nazism and white supremacy is acceptable and tolerated by those in charge of the government?

By your deafening silence, Mr. President, so it would seem.

The Reluctant Ranter


October 13, 2017

There’s a Billy Joel song that, for me, is a cautionary warning about the dangers of indulging one’s frustration about all that’s wrong with the world. The song is called “The Angry Young Man,” and the pertinent lyrics go like this:

I believe I’ve passed the age of consciousness and righteous rage
I found that just surviving was a noble fight
I once believed in causes too
I had my pointless point of view
And life went on no matter who was wrong or right

And there’s always a place for the angry young man
With his fist in the air and his head in the sand
And he’s never been able to learn from mistakes
So he can’t understand why his heart always breaks
But his honor is pure and his courage as well
And he’s fair and he’s true and he’s boring as hell
And he’ll go to the grave as an angry old man

To be precise, the things about which the Angry Young Man is, well, angry, may have more to do with what seems like a fundamental lack of maturity, personal accountability, and insight, but there’s also a sense that the Angry Young Man may have some legitimate concerns about our culture and society, the Establishment, the military industrial complex, and probably the tax code, too. If you’ve ever met me (or are a Facebook friend), you can probably see how I, who can’t seem to stop posting and blogging about the Moron in Chief and his cadre of scalliwags, might be a little bit concerned that I’m boring as hell and slated to go to my grave as an Angry Old Woman.
Which makes me ask myself, from time to time, “Wendy, why do you do this? Is it possible that your time could be better spent learning how to make hand-milled soap or growing heirloom tomatoes?”

Today is one of those days.

See, I don’t wake up in the morning thinking, “gee, I hope I see something on social media, or hear something on the news, that pisses me off so that I can rant about it on Facebook!” In fact, when I learn of yet another idiotic screed by Captain Toilet Tweet, or I find out just how truly vile certain Hollywood producers have been for twenty years and no one said anything, or that the Secretary of Education is more concerned about men being unjustly accused of rape (happens in 5% of all reported cases) as opposed to the women who are actually getting raped (the other 95%), what I feel is mostly the kind of weariness I associate with knowing I have to clean out the refrigerator because (1) someone spilled a soda in there three months ago and everything’s sticky; (2) there is not one square inch of free space left; and (3) it smells nasty.

I know when I see that article or hear that sound bite on the radio that it’s going to work on me for hours – days, even; so much I what I read and hear anymore is devoid of any verifiable factual support, is rife with false equivalencies, and is fundamentally flawed from a logic/causality perspective. At times, it’s not even the point being argued that drives me crazy, it’s the fact that the person arguing it has the subtlety of a car alarm and the insight of a drill press. Few things push my shrill button like logical inconsistency or disingenuousness, so there’s a lot to keep me busy. I don’t have the time to write about half the things that make me want to throw my shoes at the wall really, really hard, and that’s frustrating, but actually doing the writing is a laborious process, one I don’t really have time for. It requires a singularity of focus that my life does not routinely accommodate, usually involves some research, and seriously eats into my Milano and Koala Video Habit. So, I’m not doing this because it’s fun.

I’m also not doing it because I think I’m going to change anyone’s mind – indeed, those who have access to my Facebook feed and whose minds I like to change don’t read my posts (as their 28th Amendment right-to-ignore-shit-on-the-internet-that-doesn’t-conform-to-my- ideological- worldview permits them to do). I don’t write because I think I’m brilliant or necessarily have anything new to say, or because I’m hoping Salon.com or some other online magazine will read my columns and say, “We want to offer you $17 million to write for us, and we’ll pay for the Milanos.”

No, I write because I can’t NOT write. I just can’t help it, whether it’s our president suggesting, just a few weeks after Hurricane Maria rolled through and leveled the island of Puerto Rico, that its residents (most of whom still don’t have electricity or easy access to clean water) don’t deserve the same level of federal support assistance as their brothers and sisters on the mainland (including those who were hit by Katrina and are – appropriately – still receiving FEMA aid 12 years later); whether it’s the same president who criticized President Obama for his use of executive orders even as he himself has signed twice as many EO’s within the same time period (most of which have terrifying implications for our environment, our neediest citizens, our national safety, and our ability to rely upon the support of former allies who are shaking their heads in disgust). When I view some of the staggeringly absurd (and, usually, atrociously spelled) memes that others post in support of their morally indefensible views; when people who probably couldn’t give you a single accurate piece of information about any war that’s ever been fought by our country but cling to the notion that kneeling during the national anthem is anti-military; when ENOUGH PEOPLE IN THIS COUNTRY WHO CLAIM TO STAND FOR “FAMILY VALUES” VOTED FOR A MAN WHO CHEATED ON HIS FIRST WIFE WITH HIS SECOND, WHO HE LATER DIVORCED; MOCKS DISABLED PEOPLE; AND ADMITTED HE HAD SEXUALLY ASSAULTED WOMEN, well, sorry, man. I can’t let that go.

I think a lot about whether scratching the itch is worth it. I’ve no doubt lost friends over the positions I’ve taken, and I’ve probably annoyed a lot of people that I’m related to by blood or marriage. I’m sure there are plenty who have un-followed me, although I do seem to have a small, loyal, deeply troubled group of friends who cheer me on in my effort to eradicate ignorance and stupidity.

The thing is, I’m not someone who is ever going to run for office. The only time I have ever occupied any position of power was when my kids were too small to know better, which lasted for approximately 3 ½ hours. I’ve never marched in a protest – I know I should, but I’m a person who doesn’t do well in large crowds or in situations where easy access to restrooms is not guaranteed. I’d like to be someone who marches with a sign and adds my physical mass and presence to a cause, or who is prominent enough to speak at such events (if you’re a speaker, you can probably find a bathroom when you need it), or who will ever have the kind of voice, or audience, that would have the potential to make people think twice, if only for a moment. I would argue that even if you don’t like what Nicholas Kristof or George Will may have to say, it’s impossible to argue that they don’t say it spectacularly well, and maybe – just maybe – if something is said brilliantly enough, someone, someday, just may change their mind.

I’m no Kristof or Will (the latter of whom I have been reading since I was ten and regularly devoured his column in Newsweek, even if I didn’t always understand it), but if I do nothing else in my life besides draft motions for summary judgment and take depositions of car accident victims, I’d like to think that I’ve added something to the dialogue. When I die, moreover, I will have a legacy of blogs about swimsuit models and racism and HGTV and why it’s sort of a dick move to spray paint swastikas on school busses, and I am hopeful that this example of pointing out hypocrisy, ignorance, or really, really poor voting choices may spur my daughters to be equally vocal when people act like assholes.

Many have said that no one has ever changed their mind because of something they read on Facebook.

As long as I have fingers to type, we’ll see about that.

The List

Updated 12/15/17


Donald Trump (45th President)

Bill Clinton (42nd President)

George H.W. Bush (41st President)

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn)

Rep. John Conyers (D-MI)

Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.)

Rep. Blake Fahrenholt (R-Texas)

Don Shooter, Arizona House

Raul Bocanegra, California Assemblyman

Tony Mendoza, California Senate

Steve Lebsock, Colorado House

Paul Rosenthal, Colorado House

Randy Baumgartner, Colorado Senate

Jack Tate, Colorado Senate

Jack Latvala, Florida Senate

Ira Silverstein, Illinois Senate

Dan Kirby, Kansas Senate

Jeff Hoover, Kentucky House

Dan Johnson, Kentucky House

Julian Carroll, Kentucky Senate

Tony Cornish, Minnesota House

Dan Schoen, Minnesota Senate

Joshua Peters, Missouri House

John Diehl, Speaker, Missouri House

Paul LeVota, Missouri Senate

Eric Schleien, New Hamphire House

Mark Menendo, Nevada Senate

Ruben Kihuen, Nevada Senate

Cliff Hite, Ohio Senate

Wes Goodman, Ohio House

Will Fourkiller, Oklahoma House

Ralph Shortey, Oklahoma Senate

Bryce Marlatt, Oklahoma Senate

David Gomberg, Oregon House

Jeff Kruse, Oregon Senate

Matthew Wollman, South Dakota House

Brian Gosch, South Dakota House

Mark Lovell, Tennessee House

Jeremy Durham, Tennessee House

Brendan Williams, Washington House

Clarence Thomas, United States Supreme Court

Roy Moore (Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, Alabama; former member of Alabama Supreme Court)

Alex Kozinski, 9th Circuit Court of Appeals

Andrew Capone, New York State Court

Rafael Ovalles, Rhode Island State Court

Thomas Estes, Massachusetts State Court

Richard Roberts, Federal Court

Ronald Duebbert, Illinois State Court

Hassan El-Amin, Maryland State Court

Timothy Parker, Arkansas State Court

George W. Huss, Montana State Court

John Caruso, Connecticut State Court

Bob Filner, Former Mayor of San Diego



Harvey Weinstein, Producer

Roy Price, Producer, Amazon Studios

Andrew Kreisberg, Television Producer

Peter Aalbaek Jensen, Producer

Gary Goddard, Producer

Adam Fields, Producer

Morgan Spurlock, Producer

Matthew Weiner, Television Producer

John Lassiter, PIXAR

Chris Savino, Creator, “The Loud House”

Matt Weiner, Creator, “Mad Men”

Roman Polanski, Director

Lars Von Trier, Director

Oliver Stone, Director

James Toback, Director

Brett Ratner, Director

Kevin Spacey, Actor

Ben Affleck, Actor

George Takei, Actor

Jeremy Piven, Actor

Casey Affleck, Actor

Ed Westwick, Actor

Jeffrey Tambour, Actor

Steven Seagall, Actor

Andy Dick, Actor

Dustin Hoffman, Actor

Richard Dreyfuss, Actor

Tom Sizemore, Actor

Garrison Keillor, Host, “A Prairie Home Companion,” NPR

Louis CK, Comedian

Bill Cosby, Comedian

Eddie Berganza Editor at DC Comics

Kirt Webster, Publicist

David Guillod, Agent

Carter Oosterhouse, HGTV



Russell Simmons, Music Producer

R. Kelly, Musician/Rapper

Matt Mondanile, Real Estate, Duck Tails

Alex Calder, Singer/Songwriter

Ethan Kath, Crystal Castles

Twiggy Ramirez, Marilyn Manson

Nelly, Musician/Rapper

The Gaslamp Killer, D/J and Producer

Heathcliff Beru , Music Publicist



Terry Richardson

Bruce Weber



Benjamin Genocchio, Artist

Israel Horovitz, Playwright

James Levine, Conductor, Metropolitan Opera of New York



Roger Ailes, Fox News

Bill O’Reilly, Fox News

Mark Halprin, MSNBC

Charlie Rose, CBS/PBS/Bloomberg

Glenn Thrush, New York Times

Ryan Lizza,The New Yorker

Michael Oreskes, NPR

Tavis Smiley, PBS

Hamilton Fish, The New Republic

Rick Najera, Diversity Showcase (CBS)

Knight Landesman, Artforum

Leon Wieseltier, The New Republic

Lockhart Steele, Vox Media

Ken Baker, E! News

Andy Signore, Defy Media

Stephen Blackwell, Billboard Magazine

Roger LaMay, NPR

Jann Wenner, Rolling Stone

Matt Zimmerman, NBC

Jimmy Soni, Huffington Post

Giuseppe Castellano, Penguin Random House

Matt Lauer, Anchor, “The Today Show,” NBC

Tom Ashbrook, Host, “On Point,” NPR


Warren Sapp, Former NFL Player, NFL Network On-Air Analyst

Eric Weinberger, President, Bill Simmons Media Group

Marshall Faulk, Former NFL Player, NFL Network On-Air Analyst

Ike Taylor, NFL Network On-Air Analyst

Heath Evans, NFL Network On-Air Analyst

Gregg Zaun, Television Analyst, MLB Toronto Blue Jays

Eric Davis

Warren Moon, Former NFL player and Radio Analyst for the Seattle Seahawks

Donovan McNabb, former NFL Quarterback

Jamie Horowitz, Former President of Fox Sports



John Besch

Bobby Flay

Mario Batali

Johnny Iuzzini

Ken Friedman



Steve Jurvetson (Business/Venture Capital)

Larry Nasser, US Gymnastics Doctor

To All Women Who Still Don’t Need Feminism

So some idiot posted a meme on Facebook that compares life “before feminism” with “life after feminism.” It goes something like this:

• Before feminism, women were long-haired, modest, happy, moral, faithful creatures who had boyfriends, “normal lives” and the willingness to raise a “family.”

• Since feminism, women have become shrill, confrontational shrews who are angry inside, hate men, are always on the lookout for oppression (that’s a bad thing?) and “won’t raise a family.”

As Hanna would say, “let’s unpack that.”

The definition of “feminism” isn’t, as some would have you believe, “man-hating, non-deodorant using, non-leg hair shaving Lesbian.” What “feminism” actually means is, “the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes.” In 2017, most young women take it as a given that they are equal to their male counterparts, and that they will enjoy the same opportunities as men in all aspects of their lives, both personal and professional. Although wage discrepancies, sexism, and sexual harassment continue to present obstacles to women in the workforce (think Roger Ailes or Harvey Weinstein of late), and despite the ongoing dearth of women holding leadership positions in the corporate and governmental sectors of our country, things are better for women than ever before.

You know why?

Because of feminism.

In case you think that the world you live in has always been this way, consider all the things women didn’t used to be able to do:

• Control their own finances, own property in their own name, initiate a lawsuit, or receive an inheritance in their own right (this was not true in all states until 1900);
• Vote (1920)
• Be free from legal beatings by their husband (1920)
• Marry a foreigner but keep their own citizenship (1922)
• Have legal access to birth control (1960)
• Have equal access to job listings (1968)
• Have the right to be paid the same as men for the same work (1970)
• Be free from discrimination in public schools on the basis of gender, including in school athletics, financial aid, career counseling, and admission practices (1972)
• Apply to pretty much any college in the US (1970’s…but Harvard didn’t admit women until 1977)
• Get a credit card in their own name (1974)
• Have the right to work without discrimination due to pregnancy (1978)
• Be appointed to the United States Supreme Court (1981)
• Sue in civil court for sexual harassment in the workplace (1986)
• Prosecute marital rape in all 50 states (1993)
• File a complaint about pay discrimination (2009)

What’s that, you say? It was legal for men to beat their wives all the way up to 1920, and to rape their wives as recently as 1993? Why, that’s crazy!

Yes, it is. Happily for the women of America, there were suffragettes such as Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Margaret Fuller, and Lucy Stone, who won their sisters the right to vote. Then there were the “second wave feminists,” such as Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem and Simone de Beauvoir, who wondered why women’s roles, even in the 1950’s and 1960’s, continued to be largely confined to homemaking and childrearing, and who suggested that perhaps women were capable of more, if more was what they wanted. In the 1990’s, Naomi Wolf asked whether it was okay to objectify women as sex objects, and women such as Roxanne Gay continue to challenge societal norms about what constitutes feminine beauty.

These days, most young women assume it is their birthright to seek the education, training, or vocational skills they need in order to pursue the career of their choice, even if it’s not in the fields of education or nursing. In 2017, women can determine for themselves whether or not they wish to marry, have children, end unhappy marriages, or wed another woman. They can serve as leaders of community, charitable, youth, civic, or political organizations. In short, they can pretty much have it all, whether they want it or not.

None of that would have happened without feminism, and if you’re a women who has a college degree, a professional career, or a car titled in your own name, it’s because of feminism – trust me, the recognition of those rights wasn’t the result of men waking up one day and saying, “hey, let’s do something for the little ladies out there.” Indeed, most of the progress noted herein was the result of women who fought, were vilified and repudiated, and, in some cases, even died so that women could enjoy the same opportunities as men. To recap, if you have a checking account, graduated from a private college, or have ever purchased any form of birth control, it’s because of a feminist.

So before you start maligning “feminism” as being anti-men, anti-family, or anti-anything other than “equality of treatment between males and females,” stop and ask yourself, “would I want to be a women in 1850’s America?” Unless you can answer that question, “Yes, absolutely! Sign me up for a life largely selected for me exclusively by men, one consisting pretty much of non-stop child-bearing, child-rearing, and domestic servitude, with no hope of self-actualization or an individual identity,” then you owe a debt of gratitude to a feminist. If you’re too mean-spirited or self-satisfied to admit it, then may you be instantly transmogrified into a pioneer woman – and not the kind who has a show on The Food Network.

The truth is, we ALL need feminism, whether we are willing to acknowledge that fact or not. I am, and if you call me a feminist, I’ll say “thank you.”

You should, too.

Say Goodbye to your Credibility, General

There has been a lot of talk this week about how the Commander in Chief should communicate with Gold Star Families. Following what could be this Administration’s Benghazi, questions arise as to how a President best consoles a family, and a nation, when a young man or woman in uniform is killed in action. In the wake of four military deaths in an area of the world few Americans understood to be a site of active combat operations, the response of the White House was slow, ratcheted up quickly to defensive, hit cruising altitude at insensitive, and bottomed out with empty threats, followed by the staggeringly cruel exploitation of a military lion.

It started when members of the press – those scoundrels – asked His Eminence why had not publicly acknowledged the deaths of 4 Marines. He could have said that plans were in the works while acknowledging the loss of life and the sacrifices of these men and their families. He could have expressed the thanks of a grateful nation and asked for prayers on behalf of these fallen men and those they left behind.

Indeed, this entire flack could have been avoided entirely if the Orange Moron had simply answered truthfully…after all, there were tweets about the NFL to pound out and a humanitarian crises in Puerto Rico to ignore…who had the time? Were Senor Sissyhands not such a slave to his Brobdignagian ego, this matter could have ended before it even began.

Instead, his pathological need to compare himself with his predecessor – declaring himself to be the better man each time he does so – led him to aver, without any proof whatsoever, that President Obama had not called, or in some instances, even written, to the families of servicemen and women killed in action. In a matter of mere seconds, he was forced to walk back that claim, blaming “my generals” if he was found to have misstated the facts. (That’s real leadership, by the way – blaming those in uniform who almost certainly said no such thing in the first place).

It was bad enough that our president (who, apparently, has never gotten on board with the whole “the buck stops here” thing) to try to shift the attention from his own lack of timely response to the deaths of four servicemen in Niger (which, it turns out, I’ve been pronouncing wrong all these years), but even worse to invoke the death of his chief of staff’s son as proof of what a piece of shit our former President truly is. Turns out that when Second Lieutenant Robert Kelly was killed in 2010, his family didn’t get a phone call from then-President Obama. I guess it doesn’t matter that General Kelly and his wife were invited to a 2011 Memorial Day Luncheon hosted by the White House for Gold Star families, or that he sat at the President and First Lady’s table, or that General Kelly has, for the last 6 years, resolutely refused to discuss his son’s death, or that he had no warning that his boss was going to do just that – all so he could prove how much better a leader he is than Obama.

Then we learned that Trump, in a phone call to the pregnant widow of Sergeant La David Johnson, said something along the lines of, “He knew what he signed up for, but still, it’s sad.” Which, if true, isn’t terribly sensitive, and probably wasn’t what Mrs. Johnson needed to hear.

We later learned that U.S. Representative Frederica Wilson was there when the call was made, and neither she nor Mrs. Johnson were pleased by what the Cheetoh in Charge had to say. Instead of calling Mrs. Johnson back, or issuing a public apology, or in some other way attempting to clarify what he meant (which was probably something like, “even though he knew that being in the military meant he could be killed, he did it anyway – what a brave, dedicated man”), Trump did what he inevitably did: He doubled down and made it worse.

As with the Comey revelations concerning his conversations with Herr Kommandant, Trump dared Wilson to repeat her version of the phone call so he could produce “proof” that she was lying. This is standard operating procedure for Officer Orangutan, who once claimed he had proof that President Obama had bugged his office at Trump “Still Only 58 Floors, Even though He Claims it’s 100′ Taller” Tower, but never actually produced any. The White House has since confirmed that there’s no recording of the call (although it’s possible that the microwave oven may have captured the conversation). Not surprisingly, Representative Wilson refused to back down.

So then the Bigliest President Since William Howard Taft did what he always does when someone calls his bluff: He made someone else clean up his mess. He didn’t enlist Sarah Huckabee Sanders (who has gone from Fresh-Faced Snarkmeister to World-Weary, Bitter Middle School Spanish I Teacher in a matter of months). He didn’t tap Kellyanne Conway or another of his ridiculous surrogates to hit the airwaves and explain how he got more electoral votes than all previous presidential candidates ever, combined, or remind us about Hillary’s e-mails. Because Hillary’s e-mails.

No, he called on General Kelly – a man who has never been asked to speak on behalf of the administration on anything – to be his standard-bearer on the ONE issue he desperately DID NOT WANT TO TALK ABOUT. But hey, Trump wouldn’t have asked unless it had been important, right? Anyway, that’s what friends are for.

And General Kelly did his job, as he always has. He gave a press conference in which confirmed that Obama didn’t call him when his son died. He explained what Trump really meant when be spoke with Mrs. Thompson. He talked about respect for women and how you shouldn’t dis Gold Star Families (which is sort of funny given that his boss has done both of those things on multiple occasions).

Still, you could hardly listen to General Kelly without feeling like you had somehow disappointed him, even though it wasn’t you on the phone making that call to Mrs. Johnson or grabbing some woman by the pussy. I felt like I’d personally let him down, even if it’s only because I think his boss is a Ziploc baggie full of maggot pus, because General Kelly had credibility, and we respected him, and we believed that if it came out of his mouth, it was probably worth listening to. Also, those of us who are in serious doubt as to the psychological fitness of our current chief executive were sort of counting on General Kelly to be the one thing standing between Trump and annihilation.

Now we know better.

In the short run, General Kelly’s words probably helped Captain Charming. His base ate it up, and even those who despise Trump had to admit that the Chief of Staff made some good points, even if some of them later turned out not to be true, because, of all the asshats that are usually trotted out to apologize for a president that does most of his governing on the toilet, this man actually had some credibility.

My initial response to all of this was to feel very badly indeed for General Kelly. I worried that that he would become the new Guy Who Fixes Up the Really Bad Shit and that eventually, he’d lose his credibility. I worried that if Trump kept trotting him out every time he needed someone to defend his bad behavior, he would lose the gravitas gained over almost 50 years of military service, 3 wars, and the death of a beloved son.

We didn’t have to wait long for that to happen. In the few days that have passed since Trump was first made aware by the press that four American soldiers had perished in Western Africa, General Kelly has found himself in the crosshairs, and already, he has lost much of the luster that previously attended his service as Chief of Staff. As he was proven to have been incorrect in his allegations concerning Representative Wilson’s conduct at a building dedication in Florida in 2015, and as some wondered about the unnecessary stridency of Kelly’s criticisms of Wilson, it became clear that the Trump Administration had grossly miscalculated the benefit to be gained when it chose to spend the precious political capital of a four-star general’s integrity in service of defending a man who avoided military service based upon alleged “bone spurs.” Surely someone in the administration is wondering why anyone thought it made good sense to ask General Kelly to get involved in a stupid battle Trump alone started, all because of his ceaseless need to prove that he’s a better president that Obama, and remember – NO ONE ASKED HIM ABOUT PRESIDENT OBAMA. NO ONE.

General Kelly may have believed that his words were in service of a greater good, but history will inevitably prove him wrong. What a tragedy it would be for this most selfless of patriots to squander his integrity, his stature, and most of all, the quiet dignity of a heartbroken father, all for a man whose greatest personal struggle during his 70 odd years on this earth has been the way the press just keeps running video of him when he says things.

I feel bad for General Kelly, and the two Johnson families, the Wright family, and the Black familiy, and every Gold Star Family that has ever known the wrenching agony of a life ended too quickly in service of a country that does precious little to show its support and gratitude (that is, unless uppity black men have the nerve to suggest that that institutional racism is wrong, and then only by re-posting semi-literate memes that allow them to feel patriotic AND self-righteous at the same time). This dialogue is about all the wrong things, at a time when consolation, and empathy, and most of all, selflessness, is what is called for from our president. Sadly, Trump is not at all familiar with those qualities, and his behavior gives us little reason to think that he ever will be.

General, I honor your sacrifice and wish you’d been permitted the privacy concerning the death of your son that anyone with an ounce of compassion would recognize as your due. You earned the right to keep your own counsel on this most personal of matters, and shame on the fetid, festering anal fissure that asked you to stand up his flagging legitimacy (if, indeed, he has ever had any), and to do so on the grave of your dead son.

The fact remains, however, that you let him, and let’s face it – you’re not a shrinking flower or someone who isn’t used to dealing with bullies. You were a member of the United States Marines, thought by many to be the toughest, most hard-core of all the branches of the military. To quote the inimitable Jack Palance, you shit bigger than Donald Trump, and yet you allowed him to exploit you the way he exploits everyone who spends enough time with him. If you’re waiting for him to say thank you, get used to disappointment, and if you think you’ve earned yourself “untouchable status” because you spoke out on his behalf, think again: You are expendable as Preibus, Bannon, Flynn, Price, Spicer, Scaramucci, Gorka….well, you get the idea. To be blunt, don’t get too comfortable in your Leo McGarry office. You probably won’t be there that long.

So while I feel sad for General Kelly, I don’t feel too sad. He should have known better; what’s more, as any parent knows, when you don’t allow your kids to suffer the consequences of their bad behavior, you’ve pretty much guaranteed that it will be repeated.

Rape Liars

Scene I:

Woman: I was raped.
Man: Really?
Woman: Yeah. It was awful.
Man: Were you wearing something slutty? Were you drinking? Were you walking alone somewhere at night? Were you on a date and fooling around with the guy?
Woman: Why would you ask me that?
Man: So I can figure out if you’re telling the truth.
Woman: Well, I just told you what happened.
Man: Yeah, I need some evidence.
Woman: Why would I lie about that?
Man: To get attention and money. Also because some women have sex with a guy and then regret it but don’t want to admit it.

Scene II:

Man: Some asshole hit my car!
Woman: Really?
Man: Yeah. It was awful.
Woman: Was it a flashy car? Were you in a bad section of town? Did you do something to provoke someone? Are you sure you didn’t just back into something?
Man: Why would you ask me that?
Woman: So I can figure out if you’re telling the truth.
Man: Well, I just told you what happened.
Woman: Yeah, but I need some evidence.
Man: Why would I lie about that?
Woman: To commit insurance fraud. Also, because some guys are shitty drivers but don’t want to admit it.

Snot-Nosed Brats and The Parents Who Raise Them

Happened to catch Lavar Ball on CNN this morning. He was arguing that having to apologize for stealing should be more than enough punishment for his son, LiAngelo Ball, and whining that his kid has been unfairly persecuted by UCLA, the college he attended (until yesterday, anyway). You may recall that LiAngelo and two of his teammates were caught shoplifting sunglasses at a Louis Vuitton store while visiting China as members of the UCLA basketball team; they were arrested and faced a prison sentence of up to 10 years.

Before the poo hit the fan, however, President Trump, who happened to be in China at the time, stepped in and asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to show clemency and release the three young hooligans, which he did (and which was a nice thing to do, when you consider that the way Donald Trump says “China” is kind of weird and sort of sounds like he’s insulting it)

Within a week of the arrest, and having never seen the inside of a Chinese jail, LiAngelo and his buddies were allowed to go home. They later appeared at a press conference in which they dutifully said they were sorry, and then they were suspended indefinitely from the UCLA basketball team (but not from the institution) pending further investigation. A few days later, there was a brief, hilarious Twitter battle between LiAngelo’s father and Donald Trump in which Trump griped that the Ball Family wasn’t more grateful (Sad!) and in which Mr. Ball indicated that no thanks were even necessary because things would have worked out on their own. Which was spectacularly ungenerous, even if Donald Trump is the human equivalent of a vaginal yeast infection.

As of yesterday – less than a month after this whole thing went down – UCLA had not made any permanent decisions about how LiAngelo & Company would be disciplined. Who knows why it has taken so long – maybe because of the Thanksgiving holiday, maybe because finals are coming up, maybe because UCLA wants to consult with all the appropriate personnel so they can be certain that their decision is the right one. Whatever the reason, one thing is clear: As long as he’s suspended, LiAngelo Ball isn’t playing basketball, lighting up the scoreboard and leading UCLA to victory, and given what we’re hearing about his talent (from his father, anyway), UCLA’s decision to take its time to conduct a thorough review – contrary though that may be to the success of its men’s basketball team – is perhaps refreshing. How many times have we read about university officials looking the other way when star atheletes behave badly in order not to compromise the team’s win/loss record?

Then, yesterday, in a fit of childish pique (the ramifications of which could be far-reaching), Lavar Ball pulled his kid out of UCLA – you know – the institiution that was willing to given him a free education and room and board for four years (estimated price tag: $250,000) so he could play basketball, get a lot of attention on a very big stage, and probably end up being drafted by the NBA. Curse you, UCLA!

According to Mr. Ball, his reasoning is based upon what he believes is staggeringly unfair treatment by UCLA. He thinks that his son’s apology was sufficient “punishment” (god, it’s so HARD to say “I’m sorry” and not really mean it!) and that this whole think should be over already. It’s unclear whether he even believes that what his son was actually all that bad.

Well, I, for one, think it’s time for Lavar and his son to get woke, and I say that realizing that a 53-year-old white woman who gets excited about a new set of Rubbermaid storage containers probably shouldn’t be using the term “woke.”

But here goes:

Lavar, any way you slice it, stealing is illegal (whether you’re in China OR the US), and under any other circumstances (like, President Trump didn’t happen to be in China at the time, or your son wasn’t a promising young athlete), your kid would probably be sitting in jail or, at the very least, awaiting a court date with the real possibility of prison time, especially if he’d been left in China to deal with a criminal justice system that doesn’t exactly work the way ours does. In other words, the potential NBA career would probably be off the table, and being suspended by UCLA would have been the least of his worries.

So let’s all agree that what LiAngelo did was wrong, and that he was extremely lucky that our National Pride, Donald Trump, was in the right place at the right time, not groping women or insulting people’s cultural heritage. Let’s agree that it was a good thing for Lavar Ball and his idiot son that Trump was able to get LiAngelo and his friends (the little fuckers) back home to the USA without pissing off the Chinese government and prompting them to call in all our loans. Let’s agree that all LiAngelo had to do was say THANK YOU, ride out his suspension, and maybe use their free time studying or volunteering in a soup kitchen.

Well, that’s NOT what LiAngelo did. Because UCLA was mean to him, and his dad thought it was unfair. (As an aside, if you want to know what’s unfair, talk to Colin Kaepernick about his work in the Black Community, and the real injustices that go on there every day that do not involve LV sunglasses and basketball scholarships.) But was UCLA’s treatment of LiAngelo unfair, Lavar? Was it unjustified in taking some time to figure out how to handle this?

C’mon, Man.

Call me old-fashioned, but UCLA – or any other institution – has a right (and, indeed, a responsibility) to decide whether the athletes who represent it should be discplined when they, oh, I don’t know, break the law in a foreign country while on what was supposed to be a sort of goodwill tour. It has a right to determine whether or not this snotty little brat and his asshat father are really worth the squeeze, and whether it’s likely that there will be more shenanigans down the road. UCLA has a right to assess whether it expects its atheletes to adhere to a basic standard of conduct when they venture abroad – one that does not include stealing designer sunglasses.

Lest we forget, by giving LiAngelo a scholarship (and, sure, it if hadn’t been UCLA, it would have been another school), UCLA pretty much handed him the Golden Ticket – free education, room and board, so he could play basketball on a national level where he would be seen by NBA teams and likely be signed to a million-dollar contract before he even got his degree. How many kids get that kind of opportunity? By all accounts, LiAngelo Ball is an athlete of enormous talent, and his future, once UCLA reached out, seemed all but assured. All he had to do – ALL HE HAD TO DO – was play basketball. THAT WAS HIS ONLY JOB.

But LiAngelo decided that it would be a good idea, while visiting a non-democratic foreign country that has had a sketchy human rights record, to shoplift designer sunglasses.

It’s not surprising that young Mr. Ball made this particular error in judgment – and I’ll bet he’s probably not even willing to concede that much. Listen to his father talk for more than 35 seconds and you know exactly how much accountability, discipline, and good old-fashioned DON’T DO THAT SHIT parenting he got growing up. LiAngelo gives every impression of having inherited his father’s unearned belief in his own specialness and excellence, and it’s likely that if it hadn’t been designer sunglasses in China, it would have been something else, because the Ball Men don’t think they have to adhere to the rules that apply to everyone else. At least, that’s what it sounds like to me.

Still, Lavar Ball believes that the only “guilty” party in all of this is UCLA, and so he decided to get even by…yanking his kid out of UCLA (he refused to say this morning whether his son was on board with that decision). He says that he’s exploring other options for his son. How much you wanna bet that none of them include actually getting an education?

Who knows where LiAngelo will turn up? Perhaps he is in fact so talented that he’ll be playing with the NBA next year, making enough money that he won’t have to shoplift anymore.

What he probably won’t be doing is taking responsibility for his actions, ever, because his father has never forced him to, and he has now been removed from a situation where he might have had to suffer the consequences of his conduct in a way that might have helped him transition from spoiled brat to mature young man who is accountable for his transgressions. He may end up being the best basketball player the world has ever seen, but he’s unlikely to accomplish much else as long as his father is calling the shots.

So screw you, UCLA. You’ll never see the likes of LiAngelo Ball or his father again. And for that, you will probably say…thank you.