Saturday, August 24, 2019

Joseph "Murfster35" Murphy

Joseph "Murfster35" Murphy is a lifelong liberal political junkie. Being born and raised in Chicago, he is no stranger to bare-knuckle politics. He spent 20 years working for United Airlines, and another 9 as a fraud prevention expert for a large online retailer. He is the author of President Evil: The rise of Trump in the 2016 primaries and its sequel President Evil II: A Clodwork Orange. Murfster35 is a top recommended writer on the blog Daily Kos.
Rob Bluey / Flickr Mitt Romney at CPAC...

Mitt Romney showed us the GOP’s soul. And we laughed at...

Corporations are people too, my friends.   Mitt Romney Anybody remember that old line from the Mittster? I sure as hell do. It was pundit gold, and along with his imbecilic “47%” comment from a closed fund raiser, sealed Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign as being conducted by a hopelessly out of touch 1%er with no regard for the rest of us. I don’t have to remember that moment with crystal clarity, because I just saw a tape replay of it yesterday. Mitt Romney died on that particular hill that day, and he fought all the way to the end, continuing to try to explain why corporations were actually people, even while he was being jeered off of the stage. And when I saw that replay, and Romney’s passionate, logical, fervid defense of his statement, while boo’s cascaded down around him, it struck me. Mitt Romney was dead serious when he said that corporations were people too. And in his mind he was right. Because, as Romney was trying so desperately to explain to the scoffing crowd, when you think about it, all of the benefits that actually accrue to a corporation are ultimately passed down the line to living, breathing human beings. Basically those “little people” make the corporation a viable, living, breathing organism. And nothing that George Orwell put into 1984 even comes close in the chill of its implication. Long before Mitt Romney was a presidential candidate, and long before he was the Governor of the commonwealth of Massachusetts, Romney was a businessman, a venture capitalist. Or, considering the business practices of his Bain Capital, he was more accurately a vulture capitalist. He made his money by taking what belonged to others, mainly the failing companies he bought, and selling it off to keep the money for himself, nothing went back to the people who built the original company in the first place, except pink slips. And he was good enough at it to become one of the top-tenth-of-one-percent himself. The man knows of what he speaks. When Romney told us that corporations were people too, he wasn’t just committing a gaffe, he was telling us the ruling philosophy of the Republican party. How do we know this? Because, while the Democrats love to tout themselves as the party of the “working man,” the GOP has more and more steadily become over the years the “business friendly” party. The GOP itself no longer even bothers trying to deny that it a wholly owned subsidiary of corporate America, mainly because nobody would believe them. And Mitt Romney’s ill advised statement is exactly how corporate America thinks. This explains so much about Donald Trump, it’s not even funny. In Donald Trump, the oligarchs of corporate America have their dream president. Donald Trump is the real life political equivalent of Governor William J. LePetomain, Mel Brooks zany character from Blazing Saddles, who famously stumbled out from behind a curtain in his office, his pants around his ankles, because his Attorney General, Hedley Lamar, had interrupted him fondling his secretary back there. If you can’t see that for yourself, there’s nothing that I can say that would convince you. Trump is the perfect ventriloquist dummy for corporate America in the White House for two reasons. First of all, like LePetomain, he is a totally compliant idiot. Just like in the movie, you stick […]
DonkeyHotey / Flickr Donald Trump Caricature...

The GOP divides with race, the Democrats need to unite with...

All men are created equal. Some are just more equal than others.  Old Joke Most pundits are fond of saying that the 2020 election will be a “base” election. Then again, most pundits, including me, have our heads so far up our asses that we can see our lungs. Reference how many times we’ve all predicted Trump’s certain demise for some stupid thing he’s said or done. But when you come right down to it, every election is a “base” election, who can turn out their base supporters, and hopefully snag a share of the ever dwindling pool of true “independent” or “undecided” voters out there. And 2020 will be no different. But as we all know, raw numbers are not always dispositive. Hillary Clinton garnered almost three million more votes that His Lowness, and yet The Great Pumpkin still occupies the White House, due to the vagaries of an antiquated electoral college system. It’s not always a matter of how many you turn out in electoral politics as where you turn them out. Every time I mention the contention that race is an issue that may not work out well for Trump and the GOP in 2020, I am respectfully reminded in the comments that the use of race is nothing new for the Republicans, in fact, they’ve been thriving on it for more than 40 years. And I have repeatedly agreed with that. But as I remind people, the systemic racism that the GOP has successfully exploited for nearly a half a century comes with a thin veneer of respectability and whitewash to it. Nixon spoke of “law and order,” and Reagan of “welfare queens.” But here’s something else for the race nay sayers to chew on, and it’s something more dispositive. Simple question. If Trump’s vitriolic rhetoric and actions against “shithole countries,” and crumbling, mostly minority large cities, and Mexican drug runners, murderers and rapists are such a 100%, guaranteed winner for the GOP in 2020, hell, even in 2018, then why aren’t more mainstream Republicans in the House and Senate rallying behind Trump with those statements? They aren’t parroting Trump. In fact, they’re fleeing from him, for one simple reason. Because that shit only works for Trump, and with his base. For everybody else out there in GOPland, it’s pure, undiluted poison, and they know it. Race is going to be an issue in this election for one reason, and one reason only. Because Donald Trump made it one. And he’s going to keep right on doing it, to try to keep his base motivated, and the hell with everybody else on the GOP side. But properly used, it can also rev up the Democratic minority base. There’s a damn good reason why Republicans like to claim that Democrats are “playing the race card” all of the time. Because every time the Democrats bring it up, the GOP has just done or said something stupidly racist that they can’t afford to get caught at. A simple reminder. In 2016, Donald Trump won the electoral college by a combined 77,000 votes spread over three states, WI, MI, and PA. A statistical comparison shows that if Hillary Clinton had motivated African American voters in Milwaukee the way that Barack Obama did in 2012, she would have blown Trump out in WI. The same thing with Detroit and Philadelphia. We wouldn’t […]

“Conspiracy Theory” For Dummies (i.e. Donald Trump)

The Truth Is Out There   The X-Files Did anybody here ever see that 1997 movie “Conspiracy Theory?” In short, it’s about a cab driver (Mel Gibson), who believes that basically everything that happens in the world is a part of a vast conspiracy, most specifically about him. And then it starts to look like secret forces are after him, because one of his theories was actually correct, but in order to save his own life, he has to figure out which theory was the real one. What can I say? It killed two hours. In order to subscribe to most conspiracy theories, you must be able to do two different mental gymnastics tricks at the same time. One, there is no such thing as luck, or blind chance. If it rains on the day you were supposed to go to the ball game, that’s a conspiracy. Specifically, it’s a conspiracy by the other team. They knew that you were coming, and that you were going to wear your lucky jock from high school, the one you wore on the one game that you actually played in, and haven’t washed since, and they were going to get their asses kicked as a result. So they fired up a plane, dusted the clouds, and rained out the game. The second mental contortion is suspending the belief that you might not actually be very good at something. You personally, make Albert Einstein look like Benny HILL, so if one of your intricate, finely tuned plans comes a cropper, of course it’s because of some shadowy cabal who are acting in secret against you. What other reason could there possibly be that you didn’t become rich and famous on that worm farm you started on that primo property in the Mojave Desert? Emperor Numbus Nuttus is a conspiracy theory wonk of the highest order, and has been all of his life. Forget the fact that he spent so much money on schlock and gilt in building his hotel-casinos in Atlantic City that they couldn’t make a profit at 100% occupancy, and a casino ranking out at 120%. It had to be the hidden interests in the hotel and casino industry who were jealous of Trump’s incredible looks and success with women, trying to take him down a peg for invading their turf. And if course Trump never won an Emmy for The Apprentice, the Hollywood glitterazzi were jealous of Trump for living the dream that they could only make come true through fiction on the silver screen. And of course Barack Obama was a Kenyan Marxist, after all, he was younger, more intelligent, better spoken, and more handsome than Trump, which is of course impossible, since he was black. Which is what makes Der Gropinfurors most recent plunge into the turgid waters of dark, malevolent conspiracy theories more than just a little bit confusing. Can you spot the common thread of all of the conspiracy theories posted above, and of all conspiracy theories in general? They all end up working against the best interests of the person positing the conspiracy theory in the first place. In order for it to be a decent conspiracy theory, the conspiracy has to work specifically against the person espousing the conspiracy theory. In other words, the person with the conspiracy theory has to be getting the shit end of the […]

Death is not always an end, even to a means.

So, Jeffrey Epstein is dead. As I noted to my friend and colleague, Jason Miciak, like him I don’t pop a cork for death, any death, but I won’t be lighting any votive candles in his memory either. To my mind, Epstein’s death was perfectly fitting. He died in a concrete cell, with bars and guards between him and the rest of us, especially those that he preyed on. He died in a lousy orange jumpsuit, not a custom tailored suit. And he died with a complete absence of the things he craved the most, not on satin sheets on his own bed, not in his $79 million New York mansion, not on one of his fancy private jets, and not lying on the beach of his own private island. He died in a lousy cell, surrounded by others just as socially repugnant as he himself was. When I told Teri the news this morning when she got up, we talked about what seems to be the most obvious connotation of Epstein’s demise. That being the fact that, unlike kinder, gentler souls like Jason and myself, there are a whole lot of rich shitpokes out there that are popping corks right now, feeling all fat, and smug, and suddenly protected from their own possible denouement in this sick affair. And the more I thought about that, the more I started thinking to myself, “Good! U hope they keep that shit up, because they’re in for a rude awakening one of these days.” As Jason pointed out, there are a lot of rich, powerful people who are thrilled that Jeffrey Epstein is no longer drawing breath, mostly so that he can’t use that breath to rat them out in order to try to save his own skin, or even because after all, misery does indeed love company. But when you look at the facts a little more dispassionately, you start to realize that the expectations of said rich shitpokes of their sudden supreme safety may well in fact be nothing more than a pipe dream. Here are some reasons why. The Little Black Book – Epstein’s “little black book” has been a source of fascination and speculation since the day it was revealed that authorities seized it after clapping the bracelets on Epstein. In fact, tantalizing little nuggets from it have already leaked to the media, including the fact that Epstein had not only something like 17 different contact numbers for Trump, but contact information for Melania as well. Who knows what else is in there? While Jeffrey Epstein was alive, law enforcement concentration on his contact book was likely spent on using it for the purpose of corroborating his criminal acts. But, with Epstein out of the picture, does anybody really believe that the authorities are just going to seal it in an envelope and lock it in a filing cabinet? Nonsense. The book is a treasure trove of information, and the law is quite likely to continue cataloging it and following up. Jeffrey Epstein was not exactly a shadowy, hidden figure. He was more like James Bond, yes, he was a “secret” agent, but it wasn’t much of a secret, everybody and his aunt knew who he was, and what he did for a living. Epstein’s predilection for young girls was pretty much an “open secret” everywhere […]
Guardian News / YouTube Five times Donald Trump refused to...

National Slampoon’s “Trumper Vacation”

I swear, I’m not really that big of a dumb ass. But can I help it if every time I reach a totally logical conclusion, some paddlefoot comes clomping in and demolishes the whole thing, like it’s a six-year-old’s sand castle? Although it seems like forever ago in the Land of the Misfit Mango, it was only a couple of weeks ago that I wrote that the battle lines for the 2020 August recess seemed drawn. 2020 would be the Democratic equivalent of the GOP 2009 ACA town hall hijackings. In 2009, activists took over incumbent town halls with screams of “socialized medicine,” and “death panels for Granny!” And that’s the way I saw 2020 shaping up, only this time with Democrats at the helm, storming their own incumbent’s town halls to loudly demand that impeachment hearings begin for Donald Juan Trump just as soon as Congress could reconvene. And early reporting was confirming that premise, with activists charting town halls on calendars, and making sure that activists would be there, GOP town halls as well as Democratic ones, making their feelings on impeachment known. Well, there goes another perfectly good plan, shot to shit. Did you ever notice how hard it is to catch a fly, with the way they keep changing direction on a dime, and never ending up quite where you and the fly swatter thought they’d be? Well, welcome to activism in Trumpmenistan, you gotta be quick on your feet, and you’ve got to be adaptable, because the best laid plans are subject to change without notice. It all began about a month ago. Trump started out with a perfectly sane political strategy of painting Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the rest of The Squad as far left ideologues, and trying to make them the face of the “new” Democratic party ahead of 2020. But of course, having the social skills of a honey badger, Trump couldn’t contain himself. He had to make it personal, he had to make it racial, and he had to make it sexist. And when His Lowness told the whole damn bunch of ’em to “go back where they came from,” the racism pot went to simmer. But with Trump, racism is like eating one salted peanut. Next, he had to haul off on House Oversight chair Elijah Cummings, as well as the entire city of Baltimore. And since he was on a roll, he threw in cities like Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York. All places, you’ll notice, where he won’t bother campaigning. If it were possible, Trump would have signed executive orders making them independent nations, just so he could refer to them as “shithole countries.” And the racism pot hit boil. And then last Saturday, one week ago today: A white supremacist piece of shit drives 10 hours to El Paso, fuels up with breakfast to make sure his aim is good, an then strolls into a Walmart like he owns the place, and kills 22 innocent people and injures 24 more. His reason? As a retaliation for the immigrant “invasion” turning Texas into a vassal state of Mexico, and as a warning to future invaders. You know, the ones that President Bone Spurs has been bitching about constantly? He referred specifically to it in some racist dung he posted online, […]

A memo to the media. Knock It OFF!

This is getting ridiculous. On Sunday, Governor Matt Dewine of Ohio was pretty much chanted off of the stage at an address to a crow of mourners in Dayton to a chorus of Do DO SOMETHING! DO SOMETHNG! And within 48 hours, Dewine had propposed a package of sensible gun reform measures for Ohio state legislators to take up upon their return. Today, two GOP representatives from Ohio also came out in favor of universal background checks, downsizing clip capacity, and even banning some forms of assault weapons. And even a scattering of GOP Senators are starting to make goo-goo moises about the wisdom of offering something just a wee more substantial than “thoughts and prayers” this time around. And for this transformation, what is their reward in media heaven? Unfortunately, it’s exactly what you’d expect. On CNN and MSNBC they’re being excoriated by panel host and gusts after panel hosts and guests for the extreme length of time that it took them to come to their drunken moment of clarity. What is up with this shit? If I’m not mistaken, these are the same people who have been telling guys like me that we can’t start calling Trump supporters cro-magnons or knuckle draggers if we want to lure them back into the Democratic fold. We’ll only hurt their ever so sensitive fee-fee’s, when they feel guilty enough already. And now they’re dumping a ration of shit all over the heads of Republican lawmakers, for the tardiness of their come-to-Jesus moment on gun control. ex GOP House Speaker Dennis Hastert once gave his own interpretation to the vaunted “Hastert Rule,” which was interpreted to mean that you never brought a bill to the floor for a vote woth majority support from the majority party. Hasterts interpretation? “The Hastert Rule? That’s simple, get to 218! I don’t care how many Republicans or Democrats there are, as long as it comes out to 218 at the end.” Something that the goddamned media may want to remember, since I can guarantee you that both Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell remember it clearly. Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown is fortunate enough to be married to COnnie Schultz, whom I consider to be one of the premier columnists of our generation. And Ms Schultz was most succinct in her interview with Rachel Maddow last night. “I don’t care how they got there, or how long it took them to get there, I tell them ;Welcome’ at the door.” And then she went on to issue a very prescient warning that the media would do well to heed, “If you make people feel guilty for coming to the right decision, even if belatedly, what effect do you think that it will have on them the next time they consider changing their point of view?” Yeah Connie, I know. Gee, I wonder if it’ll help? Look, these Republicans are already going to be catching some serious heat from the blathering nitwits over at FOX for their apostasy against Emperor Nubus Nuttus, the least we can do is to give them a welcoming embrace. Isn’t there an old saying, something like better late than never? If the media sstops being such dicks, it may not take so long the next time. Imaging that?
EMILY's List / Flickr Amy Klobuchar MN...

A memo to Democratic Presidential candidates: Lighten up and stay focused.

Aloha Democratic 2020 Presidential hopefuls! Howz it going guys and gals? Y’all should be feeling your oats right about now. The eight of you who have already qualified for the September debates should be on top of the world. Your message is obviously resonating, and you’ve made it through the round of 64, the round of 32, and the round of 16. Time to start buffing your stuff up to military high gloss shine. After all, the world is watching. And for those of you departing us, we’ll see you again in four or eight years, and don’t forget your copy of the home game! But please, you surviving candidates, do me a favor. Lighten up! Dear Lord, in these dark, cloying, racist days of Donald Trump, people want some hope that there’s a glimmer of light at the end of the white supremacist tunnel. It’s hard to look calm and reassuring when you’re scowling and yelling into a camera! Hell, I’m starting to think that I’m watching out takes from Paddy Chayefsky’s Network here. Go ahead. Crack a smile. I guarantee that your cheeks will spring back afterwards, you won’t spent the rest of your lives looking like The Joker. Let ‘er rip. In the last two debates, I only saw a grand total of four “happy warriors” on that stage over the two nights. Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren, Andrew Yang, and Cory Booker. And only two of them, Klobuchar and Yang, refused to fall into CNN’s trap and trash their competitors.  That’s it. Granted, Joe Biden actually cracked a smile, but that was in response to something Cory Booker said, so it doesn’t count. Hey, my column, my rules. The rest of you folks stood around on stage like you were waiting for your Metamucil to kick in. You people should be having the time of your lives, after all, you’re running for the office of President of the United States, the ultimate prize. You’ll notice that I said that you’re running for President. You know what running means, right? It means that you’re in a race, not a demolition derby. When you run in a race, you’re not running against the people in the other lanes, they’re ancillary to the process. You’re running for your personal best. And that means putting out your top level, best effort. Either it will be good enough, or it won’t, but it’s your best. Besides, elbowing the guy in the lane next to you is a sure fire way to get disqualified, by the only judges that matter. Nobody likes a spoilsport, or they’d be Trump supporters. Make your contrasts, but make them with Trump, and not so much with each other. Remember, sending the foul mouthed canary back to his gilt bird cage on Fifth Avenue is still the #1 qualification for Democratic primary voters. Talk about your healthcare plan, but then talk about how His Lowness wants to strip coverage from 30 million Americans, and put another 100 million back to the tender mercies of the mercenary insurance companies. Talk about criminal justice reform, and then make sure to talk about Tubby the Ewok, the paid shill that Trump has running the Justice Department. Talk about election security, and then remind everybody that we only have to talk about it because Trump is doing a Stormy Daniels on Vlad the […]
MSNBC / YouTube Donald Trump Had A Terrible Horrible...

Who’d a thunk it. Trump really IS the “Uniter in Chief.”

As I write this, Trump is on the ground in Dayton, stop one of his “Greatest Shits” tour. Maybe he can stop by and autograph the Trump Baby Blimp, that would be a nice gesture. For four long years now, I’ve long held the belief that the only things that Trump could unite were his upper plate and his lower plate, preferably through the middle of a bacon double cheeseburger. That just goes to show what an incredible dumb ass I can be when I put my mind to it. But it turns out that The Mango Messiah has grown wonderfully into the job of Uniter in Chief. Just cast your mind back a scant month or so. What was happening? Well, Nancy Pelosi was engaged in a school yard pissing contest with the unsinkable Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez, and by association, with the rest of The Squad as well. It was quite the little squabble, and the GOP was lapping it up like a kitten with a pint of cream, gloating about how AOC and her crew were tearing the soul of the Democratic party apart, radicalizing it for the election. And then what happened. Well, in the words of one sage journalist, “The Democratic caucus was in a traditional Democratic circular firing squad, and into the middle wandered Donald Trump, and focused all of the incoming on him.” And that’s exactly what happened. With his racist Trumper tantrum against Ilhan Omar and the rest of The Squad, Trump united not just Pelosi and AOC, but the entire Democratic caucus. Pelosi and AOC held their secret summit, and while I’m sure there are still swollen fee-fee’s on both sides, they’ve buried the hatchet somewhere else but each other, and are presenting a united front against Il Douche. Now fast forward your minds to two weeks ago. The Democratic Presidential primary field, after a couple of debates hosted by CNN moderators who obviously wanted to bulk up their resumes to go along with their applications for spots at FOX News, tore each other apart in front of millions of people. Speed dial to four days ago. Twenty-two people, many of Mexican or Hispanic heritage are murdered in an El Paso Walmart, and twenty-four more are injured. And where does the attention immediately shift? To the racist diatribes of Emperor Numbus Nuttus, thanks in large part to the identical insane rantings contained in the steaming pile of shit that the El Paso murderer posted online within an hour of committing his atrocity. And instantly, every Democratic candidate on the stump is united, locked arm-in-arm against Trump and his hateful, racist rhetoric, which are tearing the country apart. This is what I keep writing about. The election is now less than 15 months away, and you can pretty well set your watch by the fact that on more or less a monthly basis, Der Gropinfuror is going to pull some insane shit that unites the entire Democratic party, along with the rest of the right thinking world, against him. Hey, dog’s gotta howl, right. But now is when every Democratic presidential candidate, as well as all congressional and Senate challengers, should make hay while the sun shines. Get your A#1, top of the line, bestest sound bites ready, and get them caught on camera. […]

The sands are shifting.

There’s something happening here. What it is ain’t exactly clear.   Buffalo Springfield Another day, another “morning after” in the land of mass murder, you know, the land of the free? A nation in shock, and with little else going on, especially in Washington DC with the summer recess in full swing, the networks are free to let the latest tragedy dominate the full day’s coverage, adding new details, and fleshing out the personalities of the victims. Which should be the first responsibility of the news media after every mass tragedy. Personalize the victims, after all, these were living, breathing human beings a day or two ago, not numbers on a scorecard. But in the America of today, especially in the hate filled apartheid of Trumpmistan, sadly, they all tend to blend together, like a Picasso painting of grief and angst. But not this time. This one sticks out, and there are enough jagged edges that you just know that it’s never going to fit neatly in its assigned slot in the mosaic. It started early. With the announcement of the location of the shooting, specially when it became public that this particular WalMart was known as “the Mexican WalMart,” because so many Mexican nationals legally drove into El Paso, filled their trunks, and then legally drove right back where they came from, a little tingle started, even in the media. When the racial composition of the victims became known, and details from survivors started trickling out, the tingle became an electric buzzing. And when the contents of the 100 pages of slobbering claptrap from the alleged mass murderer became public, then the hairs on heads stood up at attention. The media saw it, they knew it, and for once they didn’t downplay it. For the first time since Charlottesville, the words President, racist, and comments were used in conjunction in the same sentence. And it’s not just words. The media are highlighting specific phrases, not only from the El Paso gunman, but from the Pittsburgh synagogue shooter as well and them playing damn near the identical words coming from the mouth of our Racist in Chief. After more than four years of kowtowing to, and light fingering the verbal atrocities of Donald Trump, the media has finally decided to take off the kid gloves, and deal an honest game. And they’re finally letting him have it with both barrels. This is important, because people tend to pay attention when something snags their interest. And right now, most people are begging for a distraction. Most vacations are done, or just winding down. Many families are getting ready to send the kids back to school, here in Vegas I believe they go back next Monday. People are bored, they’re tired, they’re stuck at home with the kids, and they’re desperate for a distraction, and nothing, and I mean nothing provides a distraction like the almost voyeuristic chills of a mass casualty event that didn’t happen to you. People may not pay attention to their boss at work, and they may not pay attention to the person on the other end of the phone. They may not pay attention when they’re driving, and they often don’t pay attention to their kids. But they’ll sure as hell pay attention to the details of a mass shooting. They’ll leave the TV on in the background, just so that they […]

It feels different from how it looks on TV.

My heart broke twice over the weekend, once on Saturday morning, and then again on Sunday morning when I awoke and turned on the television. It broke for the senseless killings in El Paso, and then it broke again for the gratuitous piling on in Dayton on Saturday night. It didn’t break just for the victims. Nor for their griveing families, not just for their friends. It broke for El Paso and Dayton themselves. Because, it’s different, you see? It’s different when it happens to you. And I should know, Las Vegas is my adopted home, and has been for almost fifteen years. And as we speak, Las Vegas is the undisputed heavyweight champion when it comes to mass murder in the United States. But the truly sick and sad part of that is that, as any athlete will tell you, records are meant to be broken. And the way that things are going right now, I truly fear that we may not hold the title for much longer, and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. It’s different. From the first “Breaking News” banner, it’s different. Because it’s you, it’s home. And even if you’ve never actually been in that specific location, you have almost certainly driven or walked by it, and since mass shootings seem to center almost exclusively in densely populated “soft target” areas, you sure as hell know where it is. And since, while the scene is still “active,” and for hours afterward, no camera crews are allowed anywhere near the scene, the reporters are standing somewhere as close by as possible, with places you sure as hell have eaten in, or shopped at, right over their shoulder, and that brings is home in a way nothing else can, not even close. It’s different because it’s awkward. And awkwardness brings guilt. It’s awkward because, while you may not have known a single victim, they were your neighbors. You can’t help but ask yourself, “She looks vaguely familiar. Did I ever pass her somewhere, and think ‘God, she’s cute!'” Or “Hey! Didn’t I see that guy in the Smith’s a couple of times?” And it’s awkward because, as nice and lovely as “thoughts and prayers” sounds, “thoughts and prayers” don’t even bring a casserole to the post funeral pot luck. And when it comes out of the mouths of smarmy, uncaring politicians who helped to create and nurture the environment that spawned this senseless act in the first place, you just want to scream  And there’s guilt because, no matter who you are, and no matter how caring and sensitive you are, the thought, “There but for the grace of God go I” is never far from your mind as the new coverage plays out around you. It’s different because it never seems to end. Long after the network reporters have pulled up stakes to go off and cover some other, hopefully less deadly news event, you’re still turning on the TV every night to the words and images of more people being laid to rest. And if you happen to turn right off on Sunset and onto Las Vegas Boulevard South, your eyes sure aren’t going to miss those 59 white crosses, stretching out from the iconic Welcome to Las Vegas sign on the center median. And you’ll never look at the Mandalay Bay […]

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