Hey, can we get some of that up in here?

[CONTENT NOTE: sexual harassment, sexual assault, rape and rape culture.)

You know, I have not been able to write about Afghanistan, and this is mainly because I have not been able to think coherently about Afghanistan.* See, I get flooded with All the Feelz, and flashbacks to the war crimes of the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld-Rice regime, CIA black sites, serious debates at the highest levels of government and across mainstream media platforms about the pros, cons, legality and morality of torture FFS, and every single evil spawned from U.S. conservative war lovers** since the events of 9/11, which were traumatic enough for me thankyouverymuch, and right up to and including the suicide bombing at a Kabul airport gate today.

Nevertheless, I was struck by a sentence in this morning’s New York Times email briefing:

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I write letters to the president.

You know, sometimes I get it in my head that it’s worth taking five minutes of my finite existence to do something utterly and pathetically futile, just because I will feel better having done so, and because I can (<–no small thing, that).

Dear Mr. President:

For what it costs in both tax dollars and lives, here and abroad, perhaps you might consider upending the entire U.S. military paradigm. Humanitarian aid, even to our “enemies” would be far cheaper, far less inhumane, and far more likely to settle conflicts with a WIN-WIN.

For just one example, why not provide Palestinians the same amount of aid we give to Israel without accountability, in the form of rebuilding and improving their destroyed infrastructure, including creating world-class healthcare facilities that all people in the region would have access to?

Think outside the box, because the box is making a darker world and suffocating all of us.

-Iris Vander Pluym

Hey, I never said they were good letters.

Have a go at it yourself: https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/

BREAKING: Me + my commenters = “all evil, evil people who God will someday judge.”

Once again, my post from the other day alerting readers to the death of human-shaped shitsack Rush Limbaugh and announcing the immediate commencement of our traditional grave dancing ceremonies has caused grave (<-hahaha – still funny) offense. And, once again, the ensuing comments have caused equally grave offense, since we are all subject to the same admonishment.

Last night at 10:33pm EST, someone with the handle Susan Apperson (whose email address is sapperson31@gmail.com) took time out of his or her or their busy day to issue this decree:

You people are all evil, evil people who God will someday judge. I would hate to be on all your death beds. None of you should judge…….God is the only judge!!. AND Karma is a bitch!!!

OMFG I love everything about this comment. Let’s break it down, shall we?

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Questions for Secretary of State Nominee Antony Blinken.

Roots Action is an online activist groups that I happily allow to exist in my inbox: I find their messaging educational and their activism worthwhile. In case you are unfamiliar with them:

RootsAction is an online initiative dedicated to galvanizing people who are committed to economic fairness, equal rights for all, civil liberties, environmental protection — and defunding endless wars.

(More info at this link.)

Today they sent me an exemplary missive regarding Biden’s nominee for Secretary of State, Antony Blinken. Of course all such nominees are subject to Senate approval, so Roots Action has helpfully drafted questions for Senators to use when they query Mr. Blinken during the vetting process. These are questions that elected officials in any functioning democracy could, should and would demand be answered to the public’s satisfaction before handing over a set of keys to the kingdom. Which means these inquiries are highly unlikely to be asked, or even considered.

But that doesn’t mean that such email campaigns are not worth your click. For one thing, when a sizable enough number of constituents bombards your Senators’ offices with a single concern, some poor staffer is duty-bound to bring it to his or her attention. Unless the Senator in question is, say, Bernie Sanders, this particular collection of emails will have the effect of pissing them off. I mean really irritating the shit out of them.

Now doesn’t that mere thought alone warm your little black heart? Click here, and ruin a Goldman Sachs puppet’s day!

Second, I am a very big fan of taking actions that shift the Overton window. It is certainly in need of a hell of a lot of shifting, especially after conservatives have spent the last several decades on a singular mission to convince us all that people like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are godless communists. There is no question this effort has worked out splendidly for conservatives.

Yet in more recent years we have finally witnessed “fringe” ideas enter the mainstream from both the right and the left. For instance, Medicare for All is not yet seriously on the table, but it no longer gets you laughed out of the room, either. Lowering the Medicare eligibility age, as Biden pretends he wants to do, would certainly be a shift in the same direction. Even more promising, a public option/Medicare buy-in has picked up traction, too. If enacted, I predict this would drag the Overton window toward the single payer point much farther and faster than many now envision. That’s because a Medicare buy-in would never be restricted to individuals: here in ‘Murikka where Corporations ‘R People®, big business buy-in to more affordable employee health coverage could topple the private insurance industry with lightning speed.

Meanwhile, poor Mr. Overton must be nearly dead now from all that punching from the right. Not very long ago the violent overthrow of Congress at the direction of the US president by a bunch of badly dressed mooks sure seemed like a pretty fringe idea. Yet here we are.

The Roots Action email campaign is set up so you can modify the text before it gets routed to your Senators, and I took full advantage of this opportunity. Roots Action’s message is serious and well-documented, though still outside of more mainstream discourse. So is mine, but in the current political environment I’m quite sure I sound like a deranged lefty berserker. Good. Because you know what? It takes an awful lot of little pushes to budge that fucking window.

Why not help kick it a little.

_________

(My added text is right up front; the Roots Action text is below the cut.)

Subject: Questions for Antony Blinken

Dear [Senators Schumer and Gillibrand]:

War profiteering used to be universally reviled as the evil that it patently is. And yet now, it’s in the job description of the Executive Branch to shill for US “defense” companies like a bunch of used car salesmen. Incentivising the spread of war, violence and weapons around the globe for obscene private profits should not be the business of anyone, much less the United States government. Quite the opposite, in fact. Why, one might think the Executive Branch works on commission, rather than remuneration from US taxpayers. And yet here we are, with a man perfectly emblematic of this problem, nominated to head the State Department.

I have some questions for you to ask Mr. Blinken, but perhaps you could start with asking this one of yourself: Wouldn’t it be more accurate to rename the US Department of State the US Department of Sales? And while you’re at it, please think about how you might use your considerable power to dismantle the system that enables war profiteering and all of the evils that flow from it. Here’s a thought, and I’m just spitballing here: if US weapons manufacturers cannot enrich their shareholders without using the US government to ensure they are the preeminent arms dealers for the entire world, perhaps they should all be run as nonprofits?

__________

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I know why Trump ordered only 100 million vaccines, and now YOU can know too!

Via our good friends who write The New York Times morning email brief:

Once Pfizer delivers its first 100 million vaccine doses to the U.S., the country may not get another batch until June. That’s because the Trump administration passed on a deal last summer to secure more shots, and the European Union bought them.

Pundits are punditing, opinion writers are opining, and Democrats are… doing what Democrats invariably do: wasting time and money on the same failed strategies and messaging that lost them seats in the House and will almost certainly cost them control of the Senate.

But as far as I can tell, precisely no one has plainly stated the reason behind Trump & Co.’s decision to cut off the country’s access to Pfizer’s COVID vaccines at 100 million. Okay, so maaaaaybe the New York Times did? I wouldn’t know; I didn’t click their link because hello, New York Times.

But I will tell you the reason. Don’t you want to know?

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BREAKING: U.S. Army Coming Soon to a Street Near You! UPDATED.

Multiple notifications popped onto my screen yesterday announcing that the Loser-In-Chief had fired his defense secretary Mark Esper. I was working on something else (and also trying and failing miserably to observe a news blackout for personal reasons*) so I didn’t dig any deeper than the headlines.

But my mind kept on poking at me with a big stick and asking “Why?” “Why?” “Why?” For sure, the reason would be sad, funny, fascist, illegal, counterproductive, enraging, ridiculous or some combination of those. However, this morning as I looked over a few of these notifications before deleting them, our Liberal Media™ informed and enlightened me further only with something about Commander Cheetohead bashing Esper on Twitter. Which, okay, ticked A LOT of those boxes if not all of them but did nothing to shut up my shouty, stabby stick. And It’s not like I was going to click on actual links to read actual stories! I got shit to do, people.

Enter The New York Times to save the day! (Not really.) From this morning’s Times email briefing:

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