Mr. Unlikeable

By James Moore
(Reprinted from Texas to the World)
I don’t like Ted Cruz. And there are a lot of Texans who share my sentiment. But I’ve been writing and reporting on politics here since 1975, and I can assure anyone who asks that I’ve never encountered a public figure I’ve found more reprehensible than our junior senator.
Harsh words, eh? Consider the facts.
Let’s start with his faux religious fervor. Cruz may know the difference between two and Second Corinthians and is smart enough to keep his donation off of the communion tray, but he skipped the gospel about charity. As he was preparing to run for the U.S. Senate in 2009-10, Cruz’ adjusted gross income for those two years was $3.5 million. His cash contributions during that time period were $19,137 and $4,818 and were listed on his FEC filing as “various charities.” That’s .0068 of his total income.
And not a penny was given to a church.
But the senator knows the value of Christian evangelism to his party’s activists, the people who vote in primaries, and the more involved he got in running for president the more interested he became in religion. In fact, during his time as Texas solicitor general, which ended in 2008, one of the aides he worked with said, “He was never particularly religious as far as I knew. I’m not even sure he went to church.” But now, according to his wife, Cruz is about to reveal the “face of god” to Americans.
And his father Rafael’s rhapsodic descriptions of his son make the senator sound like the next carpenter from Galilee sent to save us from bad morals and big government.
The elder Cruz has an immigrant history that his son has tried to muddle as he positions himself as the hero standing at the border to stop the unwashed hordes invading America. Rafael fought for a while on the side of Fidel Castro in the revolution to overthrow the U.S. backed Cuban dictator Fulgencio Bautista, not something South Florida’s conservative Cuban immigrants probably ought to learn.
The senator, who is also an immigrant from Canada, where he was born, has sought to avoid the contradictions of his background as he attempts to portray himself as tough on immigration law. But this seminal issue is the iconic example of how Cruz parses language and barbers the truth to suit his narrative, hoping no one will notice. In 2013, he sponsored parts of the immigration bill, including amendments that would have provided a path to legal status to help those “11 million that remain in the shadows.”
Two years later, however, as he was firing up his presidential engines, the senator proclaimed, “It is not accurate” to claim “that I supported legalization.” He makes this statement even though there are amendments to the 2013 bill with his name on them as author, which offer a route to legalization.
Instead, he now wants to be president so he sees a border wall from the Gulf of Mexico to the sunny shores of California because that’s what the right edge of his party wants, and they are the people who control the GOP primary process. The conciliator has become Mr. Border Tough Guy in his pandering for votes.
Cruz even lies about telling the truth. “I have endeavored to do what I said I was going to do and I have always told the truth.” Well, not really, not according to Politifact Texas, which checks the accuracy of political claims. Cruz fares quite poorly on facts with 64% of his statements falling into categories ranging from “half true” “to mostly false” to “false” to “pants on fire.
This makes his lying a cynical tactic, thus far, unfortunately, without real consequences.
Of course, it should be noted that we Texans are not experts on Ted Cruz. He appears to have departed for Iowa shortly after he took the oath of office. If anyone had bothered to log the senator’s hours of service, they’d probably discover he has seen more corn than cactus while on the Texas taxpayer’s payroll.
Cruz has only visited the Mexican border six times, and has never stayed 24 hours. I know from personal experience that at least three of those were coordinated with fund raising events at a country club near McAllen. If only the low income and disadvantaged people living in the Rio Grande Valley had been smart enough to hold “first-in-the-nation” caucuses they’d get real representation.
Rafael “Ted” Cruz, the first latino to win a presidential primary contest, is a profound political opportunist who lies even when it is simpler to speak the truth. Every statement he makes and position he holds is calculated for effect, and lacks principle. Cruz sniffs the political winds even better than one of his most famous Texas U.S. Senate predecessors, LBJ, who ended up as president. But be forewarned: If Cruz learns tomorrow that a great movement is sweeping America and millions of people suddenly enjoy killing puppies, he will be for it and will defy government regulation to control puppy killing.
So anyone considering voting for him has to ask, “Who is Teddy Texas?” The unavoidable answer is that he’s actually anyone or anything you want him to be.
As long as you aren’t concerned about the truth.
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The man in the ‘Tin Foil Hat’

Sometimes all it takes is a song:

He’s coming down the escalator
With a girl from east of here
He wants to make the country greater
We got nothing left to fear
Because the man in the tin foil hat
Is sitting on the throne tonight
It kinda feels like a coup d’etat
But it’s gonna be great, tremendous, amazing and all that
’Cause the man in the tin foil hat Is tweeting like a teenage girl
He puts the Pluto in plutocrat
But it’s gonna be huge, huge, huge new world
He hasn’t got the time for losers
’Less they do as he commands
He’s writing checks to his accusers
With those tiny little hands
Because the man in the tin foil hat
Is sittin’ on the throne tonight
It kinda feels like a coup d’etat
But it’s gonna be huge, huge, huge new world
’Cause the man in the tin foil hat
Is gonna drain the swamp tonight
And fill it up with alternative facts
And it’s gonna be great, tremendous, amazing and all that
Cause the man in the tin foil hat
Is tweeting like a teenage girl
He puts the Pluto in plutocrat
‘Cause it’s gonna be huge, huge, huge new world
Because the man in the tin foil hat
Is sittin’ on the throne tonight
It kinda feels like a coup d’etat
And it’s gonna be great, tremendous, amazing and all that
Make America Great Again

A true American man goes jogging

By Thomas Ostmeyer
On cool autumn mornings, nothing jump starts the body and invigorates the mind of a true American man like a brisk jog, so I pull on my red hat, lace up my DonFlights and decide to get a few miles in. There won’t be many more days like this before Old Man Winter settles in, I can tell you that much. And to pull wisdom from the C-SPAN/Breitbart TrumpTime (“NOT FAKE NEWS,” their slogan) early morning sign-off: “Seize Today©”
A super smartly said saying from a true American man.
Before the sun even peers over the treetops I’m hitting the asphalt, my TrumpSuit swishing with my strides. Down the street, I see Donna buckling Little Donny into his car seat while Donald, their golden retriever, pants and whips his tail to and fro on the porch.
“Hello, Donna!” I call out as I jog in place by her mailbox.
“Why, good morning!” she says, waving back.
“And how is Little Donny today?”
From the back seat of the SUV Little Donny presents a tiny butterball fist with his middle finger extended. “The Afwican Amehwican has nuthing to woos!” he exclaims. Donna beams with pride, takes out her phone and snaps a picture. “Where do these little precious angels come up with this stuff? Don is gonna get a kick out of this.”
“A precious moment,” I say. “Only in America!”
“God bless the U.S.A.!” Donna calls back.
It’s right what they say: kids say the God-damnedest things. I make a mental note to submit this to C-SPAN/Breitbart’s “Only In America” viewer-submissions segment, which program helps to inspire we, the constituency, the labor force, who drive the global economy while everyone else just sits on their duff, palms up, looking for handouts. I give a rueful headshake and carry on down the street.
Right when I really begin to hit my stride I come across a bucket lift blocking the intersection and I have to slow my pace. In the lift a pair of utility workers ratchet tight the upgraded street sign fastened to the light pole arm. I know what you’re thinking, but no, these utility workers are true American men, you can tell by the presence of a holstered sidearm each and their skin color.
“Mornin’ fellas!” I say.
They pause their task to peer down at me. One proposes that a prissy little bitch-made fag like me should mind my own fucking business. Ho-ho! The ribbing one hears. I suppose that’s what I get for wearing my reflective safety TrumpVest—I can see how that comes across as flamboyant. The second worker flicks his cigarette at me.
“Guess I’ll be movin’ on” I say, dodging the embered butt and hurdling the old street sign that lies bent and dented between two orange road cones. It reads “Martin Luther King Jr Blvd.” Recent infrastructural improvements are astounding— only in America can one find a red, white and blue neon fluorescent tube street sign going up on every corner. A snaggle-toothed mutt hauls itself up from the gutter, sniffs the elbowed sign and lifts its leg.
Two Only in Americas in one day! Whew doggie!
At the far end of Donald J. Trump Blvd, I get in a few sets of 10-count toe touches, wide-step deep knee lunges and rotary lumbar reaches. I take a long drink of TrumpAde I bought from the TrumpMart with my TrumpCard that I keep stashed under my left DonBand during my morning runs. You gotta hand it to the federal marketing team, the caricatural logo of the squinted eyes below the brimmed, zagged coiffure, bushy brows, the pert nose anchored by that iconic thin-lipped smirk can be seen on just about any product under the Trump Executive Commodities Corporation (TECC) umbrella. You see it stamped on Trump Automotives, the surging Monstanto-TrumpCuisines (including their longrunning flagship dish, Trump Steaks), the recently acquired American Apparel (purveyors of my very own DonFlights and DonBands, as well as the Make America Great Again fashion line, which includes the now sartorially ubiquitous Red Hat), the Don’t Tread On Me line of scents, lotions and cosmetics, iTrumptronics, and, of course, ExxonMobil. It’s unfortunate Trump University didn’t make it, but at least NSF-funded studies indicate that, for true American people, it’s “reassuring” and “good for morale” to be “perpetually reminded” of our strong-willed leader by his—and I quote—“omnipresent simulacra … [m]uch to the same effect of the positive health impacts prayer has on the terminally ill,” and is “definitely not agitprop.” (Whatever the heck those zany-brained scientists mean by that!)
Huh. It seems I’ve been overzealous and ventured a tad too far from the quarantine zone, but while I’m here I might as well pay my respects. Below the memorial plaque that reads “CAUTION: RADIATION DANGER PROCEDE AT YOUR OWN RISK,” I swipe my TrumpCard and click the $20 donation button that will go toward easing the suffering of the families affected by the attacks, even though it’s widely known that the now-leveled city center was populated by libtard elites and lazy minority parasites who, let’s face it, never quite satisfied the criteria of true American men, women or babies. What other handouts could they possibly want? Maybe it’s the changing of the seasons or exposure to gamma-particle decay, but let’s just say I’m in a charitable mood. The upshot here is that, like any transaction, 50% goes straight to the Freedom Wall Construction Fund. Gosh, I wonder. When are they gonna get that dang thing built already! I don’t want to sound racist but wetbacks and Muslims are a huge, burdensome threat to the American taxpayer. On the readout screen the TECC cartoon logo gives me a thumbs-up and tells me it is so great of me to donate my hard-earned money.
Wow.
The president thinks my donation is great. And not just great.
So great.
Whether it’s the nuclear radiation or the lead-based dye leeching out of my Chinese-made skivvies I can’t be sure, but something is making my skin feel a bit gloopy. Also there’s a ringing in my ears and my contacts always react strangely to thermal heatblasts. Plus my dogs are barkin’, so I decide it’s time to hightail it back to TrumpView Suburban Estates. While I stand here getting all sentimental and cancery and ruminating on our nation’s history, pondering if, perhaps, maybe it be prudent if inclusivity of quondam truths and consequences toward future policymaking deliberation be applied as deterrence to catastrophic eventualities such as this smoldering, mile-wide crater lain presently before me, the day’s getting away from me and is most certainly not being seized.
Speaking of seizing, if I see Donna on the way home it’ll give me the chance to give a good, strong squeeze to her whosiewhats. It’s well-known that subordinates like her constantly need affirmation from people like me, a true American man.

My state of mind in the time of Trump

By Mary Carouba
I don’t want to see Trump on television and feel embarrassed for my country.
I don’t want to bitterly resent those who support this administration and look at them as uncaring, selfish and ignorant.
I don’t want to sign another petition or make another sign. I don’t want to rail against the dark forces of greed and unfettered power.
I want to stop feeling afraid for refugees, immigrants, animals, Jews, Muslims, African Americans, the environment and LGBT individuals.
I want to love all others and remember again that we’re all brothers and sisters under the skin.
God, I want to stop feeling so incredibly pissed off!
I want to stop feeling exhausted and I want this feeling of deep responsibility, this sense that I MUST do something, to leave me.
I want all this, but more than anything, I want to rest and restore myself, meditate and pray deeply, take a deep breath, and prepare to fight again.
Pacing myself has never been one of my strengths, but I’m going to master it for this fight; the stakes are too high.

Women (and men) march in Austin, Washington and around the globe

By Mike Jasper
“On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.” – H. L. Mencken, 1920, via @BarbraStreisand at L.A. Women’s March
No arrests. Not one.
None in Washington D.C., and none in Austin, Texas.
I didn’t go to the Women’s March myself. Ironically, the only person I know who attended it for sure is a man. But I did watch it on TV. I just don’t like large crowds, sorry. I do other things instead, like writing blogs on websites such as this one. Or voting.
I always show up to vote, do you? I wonder. Did all the marchers vote in last year’s election? And will they vote two years from now? As someone once said, faith without works suck. Or something like that.
So what was all the fuss about? Was it yet another protest of Donald Trump’s presidency?
“This march isn’t about being anti-Trump,” Austin’s lead organizer Melissa Fiero said. “It’s about being part of a historic social movement and sending a bold message that women’s rights are human rights.”
That seems to be true, as I heard even pro-life supporters showed up to march. And not as an opposition march, they showed up to be part of the larger women’s movement, and while some pro-life marchers reported being welcomed warmly, others reported abuse.
Some pro-lifers found themselves face-to-face with pro-choicers, and a combat of chants broke out. And according to news reports from theblaze.com and christianpost.com, some of the pro-life women were yelled at, spat upon, and otherwise made to feel unwelcome.
Still … no arrests.
Further, the Women’s March went global, and supporters took to the streets in London, Paris, Mexico City, even as far away as Sydney, Australia — more than an estimated million people around the world participated — yet I couldn’t find one report of violence or police intervention anywhere on the Google.
Now I don’t want to devolve into reporting “alternative facts,” but the crowd size for the Women’s March in Washington was also estimated to be larger than the attendance numbers for the inauguration itself.
The only objective figures I could find came via tweets from Washington Metro, the district’s subway system. Washington’s Metro system reported the number of trips taken Jan. 20 and Jan. 21. For the inauguration, Metro Ridership reported: “As of 11am, 193k trips taken so far.” For the Woman’s March, Metro Ridership reported: “as of 11am: 275k.”
Does size matter? It does to Donny boy and his press secretary Sean Spicer (boy, are we gonna have fun with that guy), who blamed the media for lying about the size of the inauguration attendance, which according to him was “the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe.”
But I digress.
The point is many thousands of supporters in Washington and around the world came out for the Women’s March to peacefully advocate for women’s rights. And no arrests were made.
I find that encouraging, don’t you? Off to buy a pussyhat now.

Roger & me (yep, that’s stolen)

By Mike Jasper
“So when do I get to see it?” Roger asked. Roger’s my bartender. All the great writers have one.
“I don’t know,” I told him. “I’ve kind of got a block. I’m a comedy writer, but this is serious work. We’ve got Trump as president. We’ve got a Republican House and Senate. We’re fucked, and I want to do something about it … but I’m having a hard time putting pen to paper.”
“Look,” he said. “You’ve already got your angle, right.”
“Right,” I said. “The Progressive Spring. But I got that from you.”
“That’s all right. You’re stealing for a good cause. You’ve got the domain name already, right? What is it, turntexasblue.com or something like that?”
“Yep.” (Pause) “That might be stolen too.”
“Right. So just run with it. Just start writing. Get it up at WordPress or something like that and start typing way. Don’t worry about being as sober as a judge, just use your voice. You can be funny and still be serious, that’s your voice.”
“Are you sure?” I asked. “I mean I often just write about whatever’s going through my head, whether it’s real or not.”
“What do you mean?” he asked.
“Well, for example, we’re not actually having this conversation. I’m sitting next to Lefty at the old guys’ bar and just thinking about what you told me a few minutes ago. The actual conversation was pretty boring … I think you said, ‘Just fuckin’ do it, man,’ and that was that. But now I’m thinking maybe you’re right. Maybe I just need to be me and do the best I can, even if it’s just writing down things going through my head while sitting at the bar.”
I need to break in here for a minute. Even that’s not true. I’m not at a bar, I’m at my desk in front of my computer screen thinking about what I thought about last night as I sat at the bar after my conversation with Roger.
It’s all so complicated.
But he’s right, you know. I need to be me because I don’t have any other choice.
“See! That’s what I’m talking about,” Roger — who is clearly a voice in my head at this point —told me.
Okay then. We’ll just fuckin’ do it.
“To a Progressive Spring,” I say, as I pretend to down a shot of Jameson.
— Roger Linehan contributed to this report

Working toward a Progressive Spring

By Anonymous
This is a note to those in my life and beyond who say out loud or think: “Let’s wait and see,” or “We don’t know what Trump will do,” or “Maybe this won’t be as bad as it seems,” or “This is just more of the same,” in a bravado tone, “I have survived x y and z presidency and this will be no different.”
This is for all those, who are not doing or saying anything post-election to the people around you or in your institutions or on your feeds or through your actions.
This is for those who allow CNN, MSNBC or the New York Times be your main lens through which you interpret this crisis. This is a note for all those who are still only reading about what is happening and not actually doing anything.
With love in my heart, I ask you to please stop. I know many people are in various degrees of shock. But it is weeks later and it’s time to pull it together — even if it’s just for one day and then one more and then one more.
We do know what is happening. There is no amount of denial that can erase the ample evidence of what the lifelong agendas of his appointees have been and are. And the stakes are plain: A corporate elite, with racist, sexist and anti-LGBTQ social agendas, anti-Muslim and xenophobic anti-immigrant ideologies, will assume governance over a 3.8 trillion dollar budget (20% of the US economy), a military, and the executive, legislative and potentially judicial branches of the US federal government.
President Donald Trump — who is in charge of nuclear weapons and exercises extraordinary influence over markets — has the emotional stability of a four-year-old (no offense to four-year-olds). We know what this will mean and I believe it is an irresponsible exercise of your power to suggest otherwise and not act.
Anyone who reads history will tell you that there are significant breaks in history, momentous times, epochs. This is one. This is an intensification of a global re-consolidation of economic neoliberal agendas that will affect every person who is not buffered by wealth. This time will go down in history.
And so will you. Your silence, your denial of the gravity of the situation (coping skills), or the blind spots created by your privilege, your inaction, or your reliance on corporate media for analysis is slowing down what has to be an immediate, smart, and better all-in response, on a daily basis. If you have the privilege to look away or be silent, and you do so, you are occupying the same position as every person in the past that allowed fascism to take root and snowball.
Your values can no longer function as window dressing or moral crutches, you must live them, every day and with great courage. It is time to change daily habits if you haven’t already. It’s time to do something, one thing, every day — creative or resistant. “Let’s take this crisis as the clue that certain modes of living are obsolete,” my friend Valentina writes to me. These times call for new days.
1. It’s time to get your self-care plan together for the emotional/political/economic/social realities that we will be subjected to for a long time. Your health is no longer personal. It’s not a New Year’s resolution to be broken. Your well-being is central to the health of all human life and the environment. You are somebody. Sleep. Don’t try to find the bottom of the internet. Hydrate. Feel your feelings. Eat greens. Meet with friends and loves who nourish your heart and soul. And if you don’t have those, find ones who do. Meditate or exercise or do both. And please, be incremental to set yourself up for success.
2. It’s time to commit to adopting a sober analysis and shake off the shiny happy nonsense of American consumer culture. The multi-billion dollar advertising executives that are hired by multi-national billion dollar corporate executives are invested in you feeling certain ways. If you feel certain ways, you desire, think and consume in certain ways.
Corporate media is funded by those advertisers and corporations. They are invested in shock value, getting your eyes on their programming and advertisements, creating sensations, creating and limiting certain forms of desire. They create happy la-la lands as well as faux crises, not because they care about your health or the health of democracies or people, but because they seek profit. They want you to buy their things and so invest in emotional distractions from the realities of how hard life is.
They are not invested in you feeling what is actually happening. They are not invested in you developing a sober analysis. Stay away from things that seek to manipulate your feelings, desires and critical thinking abilities. Once you commit to non-corporate analysis and face the gravity of the situation, you can access more effective coping mechanisms.
3. It’s time to find real forms of joy and pleasure — not quick fixes. Choose that which clarifies over that which numbs or deludes you. There is a real difference and it’s important to think about how joy and pleasure operate in your life.
4. It’s time to use different lenses when you analyze. Get good as zooming in and out. As when using a camera, to see different things you need macro and wide angle lenses.
Read historians and others who have a historical analysis.The long picture matters and changes how you problem solve. If you think the year 2000 or 1980 or 1960 was a long long time ago, you will need to adopt a wider lens. The current economic and social conditions can be better understood in 100-500 year increments.
Artists are experts of the future, they often occupy it. Sociologists and organizers are experts at the power dynamics of the moment. And so on. Make sure your information is coming from all sorts of perspectives.
5. It’s time to connect to elders and local organizations who have history and experience in fighting oppressive practices and policies, a history of being creative or artistic. They are your new experts, so be in touch with your humility. If you have not been on the front lines before, don’t think you know what is best if you haven’t been doing the work.
6. It’s time to do work and be together every day, online and in the flesh, with some breaks built in. Show up. With a sober analysis, it becomes evident that your time must now be filled with new forms of work together.
Thing is, no one wants that.
Everyone is stressed by the work they already have. Most people do not want to phone bank, go door to door, collate, make protective circles during raids, go to meetings or open mics, compromise, go to city council, sign petitions, listen to people who have different emotional and ideological investments, etc.
But that is where we are. You will have to shift your schedules and reprioritize who and to whom you give your energy. But as a bonus, the work itself will be a form of dealing with your anxiety and you will meet amazing people, therefore contributing to #1 and #3.
7. It’s time to give money, if you have any, to people or groups in your life whom you respect and who are working on pressing matters. And or hold fundraisers to get money to those who need it.
The power and privileges we currently have, however, small they may feel, will need to be redistributed and reformed if we are to create the connective tissue needed for a new body politic.
8. If you are part of an institution, it’s time to pay attention to how your institution is perpetuating, resisting, reinforcing, etc. the new values and policies of the Trump regime. If you hold any power within the institution you will have to use it. You will need to hold institutions accountable. (Mid-level managers will have to stand up to upper-level managers, and upper-level managers will have to stand up to boards.)
Everyone matters.
9. It’s time to be loving and open in the fiercest ways possible. The warring and ugly nature of this era demands toughness and strength, which easily slips into toxic forms of masculinity and meanness — that any person might embody. It is not easy to be subjected to ideological and physical assaults and remain open; so you will need a plan that centers love and tenderness in strategic ways.
10. It’s time to learn how to liquefy and congeal, to be tender and fierce, quiet and loud, leaders and led, loving and angry, soft and strong. Doing and undoing, doing and undoing. Collapsing and reconstituting. Loving repeating. Multiplicity, heteroglossia, and biodiversity are antidotes to fascism and autocracy. If we are to succeed, there will be no one right way, no one right answer, no one dominant language or plan. If we are intentional and lucky, our hybrid utterances will develop into a patois.
These daily acts will add up — but not if so many people are in a perpetual state of shock and delusion.
So snap out of it. The time to act is now.