What Oprah Said

“What I know for sure is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have.” – Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey gave an eloquent, impassioned and inspiring speech upon receiving the Cecil B. DeMille Award – which honors outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment – at this year’s Golden Globes ceremony.

She spoke of being a little girl sitting on a linoleum floor and watching Sidney Poitier become the first black man to win an Oscar in 1964, and how it felt to see him publicly celebrated. Poitier went on to win the DeMille Award in 1982, and over thirty-five years later, Oprah became the first black woman to win it. She was very aware that there were other little girls – little girls just like she was back in 1964 – watching and listening.

She expressed gratitude for those who supported her, and believed in her, and inspired her. She went on to honor the women – so many women – who have endured years of abuse and assault. She spoke of a woman named Recy Taylor, a young wife and mother who was abducted and raped by six armed white men on her way home from church in Alabama in 1944. Taylor’s story was reported to the local NAACP, where a young worker named Rosa Parks became the lead investigator.

“And together they sought justice. But justice wasn’t an option in the era of Jim Crow. The men who tried to destroy her were never persecuted. Recy Taylor died 10 days ago, just shy of her 98th birthday. She lived as we all have lived, too many years in a culture broken by brutally powerful men. For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dared to speak their truth to the power of those men, but their time is up.” – Oprah Winfrey

She spoke of the #metoo movement, a movement in which women from all walks of life are choosing to speak out and be counted among the (far too) many who have been sexually harassed, abused, assaulted and raped. She celebrated the men who have chosen to listen. She encouraged people to continue to speak truth to power, and ended with a message of hope for a brighter future, a future in which no one ever has to say “me too” again.

Everyone applauded. I applauded, watching the video at home on my laptop. The video made the rounds that night and the next morning. It moved me. It gave me hope.

Evidently it gave a lot of other people hope, too, because soon enough social media feeds were being inundated with “Oprah 2020!” and “Oprah for President!” Part of me completely understood why so many of my fellow citizens reflexively latched on to an individual responsible for the most lucid and powerful oratory we’ve heard in far, far too long.

Her long-time partner weighed in. News outlets weighed in. Twitter weighed in. Friends on Facebook started discussing her validity as a candidate.

You know who didn’t weigh in?


Oprah never said a single word about running for President. She said zero words about running for ANY political office. She won an award and gave an incredible speech, one that should have sparked countless conversations and actions.

Running for ANY office in America is daunting, much less running for the office of President. One hopes candidates have innovative ideas, a strong work ethic, an ability to multitask, and an unwavering commitment to representing their constituents. But in addition to their qualifications, candidates must be willing to have their entire past picked apart and examined under a microscope. Each statement they’ve ever uttered, each word they’ve ever written, every business decision, any social media posts, blurry photos from high school – each and every aspect of their life will be discovered and dissected and discussed and judged.

Which explains everything we need to know about the reluctance of good people considering a run for public office.

And yet there we were, less than a day later, raking through a woman’s life and accomplishments based solely on an incredible speech in an effort to determine her qualifications to run for a public office in which she’d expressed no interest.

Overwhelmingly burned by a far different television personality, many people in my social feeds reacted in thinly masked horror – Hello, people, have we learned nothing? You must be JOKING. New memes spawned. Friends I respect began grimly digging up videos from ten years ago, anxious to prove how unfit she is to even consider a run for the Presidency.

All of it essentially came down to, “Congratulations for winning the DeMille award, Oprah! Your speech was incredible. Oh, and we all discussed it and you’d suck as President. Love, America”

She shouldn’t run, people said. She’s not qualified, they said. She doesn’t have enough experience in politics, they said. Really she’d be no better than Trump, they said. There are tons of other women – including women of color! – who have more experience, who are far more qualified, and we should support THEM instead, they said.

They they they they said said said said.

Oprah Winfrey does not need me to stand up for her, a concept so absurdly obvious I can’t believe I’m typing it. And yet in the two days immediately following her speech I found myself mired in bizarre quasi-debates, repeatedly trying and failing to convey how deeply flawed it is for anyone to say 1) she shouldn’t run for President because 2) reasons when 3) SHE NEVER MENTIONED RUNNING.

How about IF she decides to run – and why she’d put herself in the midst of that hot mess after the first 24 hours after her speech alone, I have no idea – THEN we discuss her skills and experiences and merits and THEN we each individually vote for the candidate we feel is the best?

How about other, more qualified women and women of color can ALSO run – for this office and any office – if they meet the legal standard to run? It’s not a zero sum game. If Oprah runs other women can still run, which is the beauty of democracy.

How about if we’re truly serious about wanting more women to run for office – especially women of color – maybe we shouldn’t be so fast to shut down the very idea before the woman in question even expresses the most remote interest.

As I said, I listened to Oprah’s speech three times in a row, and each time it moved me to tears. The message – that we can work together to make sure no one ever has another “me too” story – is stunning in its simplicity and optimism.

And yet much of that message was lost in the unwarranted discussions over her fit for an office in which she – at the time of this writing – has expressed zero interest.

I keep thinking about the little girls – little girls like she was, once upon a time, sitting on a linoleum floor. In my mind, I see their faces light up as they listen. I see their faces fall as the aftermath unfolds. Will this inspire them to run for office? Will this scare them away? Will they be more or less likely to even want to speak truth to power so eloquently now knowing that there is a new risk – that of having your life scrutinized based on the merest whisper of a rumor of political aspirations?

Will that be the outcome of this magnificent speech urging girls and women and men to speak up and speak out to overcome injustice? Silencing them, instead?

Here’s what we can do: we can give Oprah this moment. We can celebrate her accomplishments. We can honor the wisdom of her words.

We can give our country this moment, a moment to do something right. A moment to do something that needs to be done, and that’s needed to be done for a long, long time.

Go back to the beginning of this piece. For the first time in a long time, forget the politics. Listen to Oprah’s speech. Read the transcript. Share it. Be inspired. Speak up. Speak out. Work together. Hope.

And don’t stop until nobody ever has to say “me too” again.

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Just Say (N)Oprah or, Make Great American Again

All this breathless, borderline hysterical enthusiasm about Oprah running for president is, sadly, doing a great deal to help me understand how Trump became president.

It’s different demographics to be certain, but in each case these two exceedingly wealthy pop culture icons make a living telling people what they want to hear, a combination of platitudes and “you’re great” bromides, backed with little action (in Oprah’s case, the fact that she made super-charlatan “Dr. Phil” famous is sufficient reason to disqualify her as a serious person). I’m sure some ardent fans can list the myriad wonderful things she’s done, but in terms of the money and influence she brings to bear, her single greatest accomplishment, spanning decades, seems to have been refining, obsessing about, and marketing her brand (O magazine, anyone?). Of course, in 21st Century America, perfecting one’s brand, and making millions doing it, is regarded as the apex of human achievement. (That Trump, a laughable failure in virtually all his business endeavors, did, undeniably, succeed bigly as a reality TV star is instructive here.)

To be 100% clear, I’m not implying Oprah and Trump are different sides of the same coin: in terms of intelligence, experience, and empathy, not to mention competence (on one hand we have Oprah, a truly self-made billionaire, compared with a foppish quisling who, by all accounts, squandered his inheritance or, at the very least, lost money running a casino, which would seem only slightly less impossible than drowning in a desert), Ms. Winfrey would be a most welcome replacement for the buffoon currently disgracing the office. Then again, so would virtually every sentient person I know, not excluding some toddlers, who I’m certain could govern—not to mention tweet—more sensibly and astutely.

To the haters and celebrity-smitten, I certainly feel your pain, to a point.

Yes, watching the Democrats try to govern is an often painful and occasionally pitiful spectacle. (And our  desire to select our next candidate and get busy is nothing if not understandable.) Of course, in their defense, a reasonable person understands that actually attempting to govern is messy, difficult and frustrating. Particularly as our nation has become increasingly ignorant, self-absorbed and childish: we don’t want any government interference, we don’t want to pay taxes and we demand to see all of these pesky problems go away and take care of themselves (or even better, the stance of those taking their faux-intellectual marching orders from Ayn Rand: just leave us alone and the world will govern itself…but if my house catches fire or a burglar breaks in or the roads need to be plowed or the country is attacked, some non-tax funded enterprise better be at the ready to protect me!). In short: MAGA resonated for myriad reasons that can’t be summed up by or dismissed as the enduring appeal of racism, country-wide.

Put another way, if we’re going to settle for (or aspire toward?) another celebrity, why can’t we have whomever we choose next time around?


We have become a country of children who want to skip the main course and go directly to dessert, every meal, and then complain that we’ve gotten fat (and then pay someone like Dr. Phil to fix us). Our collective atrophy, of course, has long been a work-in-progress, but reality TV has upped (or, lowered) the stakes to a considerable degree. Now, it seems, we want—and need—to anoint ready-made panaceas for whatever ails us, ranging from weight-loss to public officials. Governing is often hard, boring work, and it should be. It’s supposed to be, and it’s designed to be, not unlike excellence in pretty much any endeavor, be it political or athletic or artistic, requires countless hours of practice, failure, sweat, and deliberately-earned expertise. Deploying troops, signing laws, overseeing the economy, and, yes, having one’s literal hand on the figurative button, is something we should sanction only after significant reflection. Or, failing that, the quaint notion of having a resume and references might be considered a necessary step toward Making America Great Again. Better still, perhaps we can focus on making Great American, again.

This hopefully fleeting, and very ill-considered fantasy of Oprah as Savior, proves that in America, celebrity outstrips qualification, and rich people get a pass we’d never grant regular folks, and the more obscenely wealthy they are, the more we suspend anything resembling discernment. (Since when did wanting to do the job; in Oprah’s case, coming down from the mountaintop to do the job, replace being able to do the job?)

If Oprah is genuinely interested in using her prestige and pocketbook for the greater good, let her fund some campaigns, hit the trail in support of any number of worthy men and women, or, perhaps, contemplate work on the city council. For starters.

Plus, if we’re looking for a brilliant, morally sound, experienced, and inspirational woman to lead us, we could do a hell of a lot worse than Elizabeth Warren.


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Song Beneath the Song: “Norwegian Wood” by the Beatles

This, my favorite entry in the Beatles’ prodigious catalog, is one of the few “story songs” turned in by John Lennon, who left us 36 years ago today. Most of the others, from “Eleanor Rigby” to “Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da,” originate with Paul McCartney, who has a more Dickensian sensibility.

The story itself is straightforward: the narrator meets a girl, goes back to her apartment, drinks some wine, chats her up till well past midnight, hoping to score—but doesn’t close the deal, winding up in the bathtub instead of her bed. This part, apparently, was John’s contribution to the tale:

“I was very careful and paranoid,” Lennon explained, “because I didn’t want my wife, Cyn, to know that there really was something going on outside of the household. I’d always had some kind of affairs going on, so I was trying to be sophisticated in writing about an affair. But in such a smoke-screen way that you couldn’t tell.”

The next morning, the more ambiguous shit goes down:

And when I awoke,
I was alone:
This bird had flown.
So I lit a fire.
Isn’t it good?
Norwegian wood.

A literal reading suggests that the narrator woke up angry and burned her wooden furniture. No less an authority than McCartney, whose idea this allegedly was, confirms this: The girl “makes [the narrator] sleep in the bath and then finally in the last verse I had this idea to set the Norwegian wood on fire as revenge, so we did it very tongue in cheek,” Paul said. “She led him on, then said, ‘You’d better sleep in the bath.’ In our world the guy had to have some sort of revenge…so it meant I burned the place down.”

Not to suggest that the guy who wrote the song is full of shit, but the guy who wrote the song is full of shit.

This business about the literal burning of the Norwegian wood is just a smoke-screen (and a good one, because pine burns like a motherfucker). We know it’s a smoke-screen, because if you read the quotes again, Lennon says as much.

First of all, there’s no furniture to burn. When she first tells him to sit down, remember, he “looked around and [he] noticed there wasn’t a chair.” Does he strip the paneling from the wall and burn that? What sense does that make?

Let’s say you’re a dude—let’s say you’re John Lennon, even—and this scenario happens to you, just as described. You’re invited back to some “bird’s” apartment; she goes so far as to give you a tour of her boudoir. You’re all, Dig it! Isn’t it good? You might say you want to hold her hand, but what you really want to do is come together. You drink a bottle of wine, you shoot the shit till the wee hours… but she’s a big teaser, she takes you half the way there. You wake up in the bathtub, with a crink in your neck and a hard-on in your trousers so unrelentingly thick it feels like a piece of—yes!—Norwegian wood. You get up to look for her, hoping she’ll help you, ahem, carry that weight, but the girl that’s driving you mad has gone away. Then you recall her saying something about having to work in the morning, as a sort of bullshit excuse, and laughing in your face. And it hits you: you and your hard-on have the place to yourself.

That’s what’s happened, Mr. Rock Star. That’s the dealio. So do you a) engineer some way to torch her wood-paneled room, resulting in a massive conflagration that may well kill everyone in the apartment building and land you in prison for arson, or b) rub one out?

“Lit a fire,” it says here, is a euphemism for masturbation—and a pretty good one, when you consider that a) lust is traditionally equated with fire, and b) rubbing two sticks together is not dissimilar to the process of manual stimulation (the movement you need is on your shoulder).

Does our narrator leave her home in ashes because she ignored his pleas to please please him? No, but he does leave his goo-goo-ga-joob as a souvenir. All you need is love, yes, but in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.

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The Last Year in Anti-Trump

A smattering of Trump/Russia pieces by Greg Olear:

“How Russia Infiltrated the Trump Campaign and Stole the Election (Abridged)”
TL;DR: Manafort played Kushner, Cambridge Analytica pitched in, they are all guilty.
7 September, 2017

“Compromised: Is Jared Kushner Taking Orders from Vladimir Putin”
: Yes, he is.
21 July, 2017

“Beyond Belief: Trump, Treason, & the Failure of the Imagination”
A rant.
15 June, 2017

“Baby Boom Benedict Arnolds: Six Emerging Villains of the Russia Story”
If you met with Kislyak, you’re guilty.
29 May, 2017

“Trump White House Succession Planning: A Loyalty Day Thought Experiment”
Pence resigns, Senate confirms Evan McMullin, Trump resigns, we all live happily ever after.
1 May, 2017

“The Rosneft Commission: What We Should be Looking For”
Steele dossier says Trump made money on commission of sale of Rosneft, so I’m guessing $270m.
13 April, 2017

“How Deep is Your Treason: The Three Tiers of Trump/Russia”
Admission of Russian hacking, active collusion, quid pro quo.
5 April, 2017

“Meet the Collaborators: A Rogue’s Gallery of Trumpromat”
Who’s who, but with treason.
13 March, 2017

“The Russia Story: Everything Trump Doesn’t Want You to Know”
A look at Trump’s ties to Russian organized crime.
24 February, 2017

“Dah, Donald: Russian Blood Money and the FBI’s Case Against Trump”
My take on the Louise Mensch “Chess” piece, featuring Snowden, Comey, Giuliani, and more.
24 January, 2017

“Trump is a Fascist, This is a Coup, I’m not Normalizing It on Facebook”
The title sums it up.
19 January, 2017

“What Are the Odds of Donald Trump Serving All Four Years of His Term?”
Not good.
13 January, 2017

“How to Get Rid of Donald Trump: An Action Plan”
Eventually his conflicts of interest will be so egregious that people will stop being fooled.
20 November, 2016

“From Russia with Trump”
Trump/Putin is not a bromance; it’s a national security issue.
20 November, 2016

“Trump is a Piece of Shit, and This Disqualifies Him from Being President”
I was not wrong.
8 October, 2016

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Conspiracy Against the United States: Trump Treason Power Rankings (40)

This is the fifth installment of the Trump Treason Power Rankings, and the first since yesterday’s Indictment-palooza. Before we offer the rogue’s gallery of traitors, a few words:

Trump is guilty of colluding with an enemy foreign power to subvert democracy in the United States. This is a war crime, the most heinous offense, by far, that any occupant of the White House has ever committed. We laugh and joke about Trump because he presents as a buffoon, but make no mistake: this is treason, the most ignoble of offenses.

Plenty of people doubted that this day would happen. For those of us who persisted, it has requited enormous amounts of faith to wake up every day believing that justice would prevail. I have used extreme language when writing about this since before the election, not to be dramatic, but because the American public seems not to realize just how close we are to descending into autocracy. The Pax America is a historical outlier, without real parallel other than perhaps the halcyon days of the early Roman Empire. It can be gone in a flash. And we’re not out of the woods yet.

Yesterday, Trump’s campaign chairman, who presided over his campaign during the peak treason months of March to August, 2016, was indicted, along with his deputy, on 12 felony counts. His CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN. The CHAIRMAN of his CAMPAIGN.



And now, the list:


1. Paul Manafort

2. Rick Gates

3. George Papadopoulos
It’s nice that Georgios flipped and all, but before he flipped, he was an active agent for Moscow.

In any other society from ancient times until now, these three would hang in the public square. Lucky for them that the USA is merciful.

Moving on.

4. Mike Pence
Manafort’s choice for VP, spoke with him every day during the transition, and worked closely with Gates, who remained with the campagn even after Manafort left. Ya think Pence is blameless? If I were Mother, I’d be looking for a new Daddy.

5. Jared Kushner
Here’s my take on Boy Wonder’s Faustian bargain with Marafort.

6. Roger Stone
Banished from Twitter, but the point is moot. You can’t tweet from the hoosegow.

7. Donald Trump, Jr.
He’s a real dick on Twitter. I’m going to be happy when he’s in cuffs. And, I mean, he’s already been on the cover of Time for being a crook.

8. Sarah Huckabee Sanders
I saw a report that she was bombed out of her mind the other night at some DC bar. Which explains how she can sleep at night, I suppose. At least Manafort and the Trumps and Jared made money on their treason. What did Sarah get out of it? Ridicule, forever. Pathetic.

9. Ivanka Trump
Her birthday was yesterday. Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, you’ll die in the hoosegow, and Jared will, too!

10. Jeff Sessions
Racist Keebler Elf was fully submerged in the Treason Hot Tub, naked as a jaybird.

11. Devin Nunes
Prediction: his will be the longest prison sentence.

12. Donald Trump
Won’t be long now…

Not Ranked: Kim Jong Un, Steve Bannon, Values Voters, Julian Assange, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Tomi Whateverthefuckhernameis, Cambridge Analytica, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, Devin Nunes, Devin Nunes recusing himself but then calling backsies, Tom Price, Tom Price’s hateful wife, Steve Mnunchin, Steve Mnunchin’s hateful wife, Uranium One, Uranium Two, all the little Uraniums, Wilbur Ross, Reince Priebus, Sean Spicer, Mike Flynn, Betsy DeVos, Cyrus Vance, Eric Trump, Michael Cohen, Rudy Giuliani, Felix Sater, “Doctor” Seb Gorka, Melania Trump, Brad Parscale, Stephen Miller, Rex Tillerson, John Kelly, Tody Podesta, Erik Trump, Lara Trump, Erik Prince, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Friendster, Ello, WhatsApp, Pinterest, and the racist owner of the Houston Texans.

One Last Thing
None of the Trumpsters depicted in this excellent, excellent video were arrested yesterday:

But as Robert Plant sang, “Your time is gonna come.”

In the tradition of Amy Siskind’s (more exhaustive and better) weekly list of subtle authoritarian changes, козырь is a weekly ranking of who in Trump’s circle of corrupt associates has committed the most treason in the past seven days. H/t to Mark Listanti, late of Grantland, whose brilliant format for “Mad Men Power Rankings” I have appropriated. Updated every Tuesday until Mueller saves the Republic. 

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козырь: Trump Treason Power Rankings (Week 39)

In the tradition of Amy Siskind’s (more exhaustive and better) weekly list of subtle authoritarian changes, козырь is a weekly ranking of who in Trump’s circle of corrupt associates has committed the most treason in the past seven days. H/t to Mark Listanti, late of Grantland, whose brilliant format for “Mad Men Power Rankings” I have appropriated. Updated every Tuesday until Mueller saves the Republic. 


1. Jeff Sessions
Beauregard committed perjury yet again this week. A verse:

Sessions, Nazi Keebler elf,
A nobler man would kill himself.
Bigotry is one good reason.
Another one is treason.

He won’t kill himself, but he will die in prison, so there’s that.
Last week: not ranked
2. Donald Trump
I wrote this on Twitter when Niger first began trending, and it became my most popular tweet:

To my knowledge, he has still not uttered the word in public.

But here’s what they’re not telling you: Our soldiers were killed in Niger because Chadian troops pulled out. Chadian troops pulled out because Trump included Chad on his odious travel ban. Trump included Chad on his odious travel ban because…no one knows why, but it may have something to do with petroleum. With starts with P, and that rhymes with T, and that stands for treason.
Last week: #3

3. Sean Hannity
He and his fellow shit-heel Julian Assange are up to no good. Can we buy stock in “Hannity will be removed from FoxNews within two weeks of Trump being removed from White House?”
Last week: not ranked

4. Jared Kushner
You know how on Breaking Bad, it’s obvious from the pilot episode that Walter White and Hank will come into conflict due to White’s illicit activities? At some point, Kushner and Trump will come to blows. I don’t think things will end any better for them than they did for White. Which will only spell trouble for…
Last week: #4

5. Ivanka Trump
She knows where the bodies are buried. The figurative ones related to Russia collusion, and the literal ones in Baku and wherever her sweatshops are located.
Last week: #10

6. Paul Manafort
All quiet on the treason front for our two-time top entry, but as Trump himself remarked, this is the calm before the storm.
Last week: #1

7. John Kelly
He looks like a bad guy on 24.
Last week: not ranked

8. Erik Prince
Something tells me we’re going to hear a lot about Betsy DeVos’ brother (Betsy DeBro?) before Mueller closes the case on Russia. He’s managed to keep out of the spotlight. For now.
Last week: not ranked

9. Tony Podesta
Treason is bipartisan, maybe? There are two political parties in the US right now: you’re either taking orders from Vladimir Putin, or you’re not.
Last week: not ranked

10. Rex Tillerson
The State Department pulled the US visa for Bill Browder, one of Putin’s most vocal, and effective, critics. Rex runs the State Department, at least nominally, and in this case, he did his old friend Vladimir a solid.
Last week: not ranked

11. Lara Trump
She can read transcripts that don’t exist, so Loony McCrazypants married into the right family.
Last week: not ranked


Not Ranked: Kim Jong Un, Steve Bannon, Values Voters, Julian Assange, Bill O’Reilly, Cambridge Analytica, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, Devin Nunes, Devin Nunes recusing himself but then calling backsies, Tom Price, Tom Price’s hateful wife, Steve Mnunchin, Wilbur Ross, Reince Priebus, Sean Spicer, Mike Flynn, Betsy DeVos, Cyrus Vance, Eric Trump, Michael Cohen, Rudy Giuliani, the cornfield in which Jim Comey contemplates life, Felix Sater, “Doctor” Seb Gorka, Melania Trump, Brad Parscale, Stephen Miller, Sarah Huckebee S[l]anders, and anyone who made fun of Frederica Wilson’s hat.

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Gunned Down in Chicago: An Eyewitness Report

AROUND 4: 30AM ON SUNDAY MORNING, AUGUST 20TH, I watched a man bleed to death on the sidewalk directly outside my living room window.

I didn’t see the actual shooting, only heard it. About twenty shots, loud like firecrackers set off in a metal drum. I will confess the tumult did not immediately get me out of bed. Since moving to Roger’s Park on Chicago’s north side in April, I’d grown accustomed to the frequent burst of gunfire. What got me up were the screams that followed. A woman desperately yelling for an ambulance. A man shouting to keep pressure on the wound.

I got up and dialed 9-1-1. As I looked outside, I saw a man splayed on the concrete, a woman in tears clutching at his throat to stem the flow of blood, neighbors pouring out into the street. The police arrived within five minutes, the paramedics within five after that. By the time they took the victim away his eyes were rolling to the back of his head. He wasn’t moving. He was barely breathing. I’ll never forget the ashen look on his face.

This isn’t the first time I’ve been witness to gun violence in Chicago. It’s not even the first time someone was shot directly in front of my home. Sadly, I think, that’s true for many of us living in the third largest city in America. Daily trauma has turned routine.

Chicago’s gun violence has been in the news a lot again lately since the horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas that left nearly 60 people dead and over 500 injured. Ironically, it’s gun violence elsewhere that puts Chicago’s problems back in the spotlight.

Chicago comes up not by gun control advocates, but rather by those who counsel non-action. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the chief propagandist for the Trump administration, cited Chicago in a press briefing following the tragedy in Las Vegas as proof that gun control legislation is ineffective.

“I think one of the things we don’t want to do is try to create laws that won’t stop these types of things from happening,” Sanders said. “I think if you look to Chicago where you had over 4,000 victims of gun-related crimes last year they have the strictest gun laws in the country. That certainly hasn’t helped there.”

In other words: the government shouldn’t do anything about guns because gun laws don’t work in Chicago. Imagine the cynicism needed to make such a statement.

Sanders was lying, of course. Chicago does not have the strictest gun laws in the country. Several places, including California, have more stringent regulations. Many of Chicago’s tougher provisions, including a county-wide handgun ban, were deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2008. And there is evidence that without Chicago’s remaining gun regulations the violence would actually be worse. But Chicago’s gun problem has virtually nothing to do with the law, at least not local law.

Chicago is a speck of blue in a sea of red. Indiana and Wisconsin, two red states with extremely lax gun regulations, are a quick drive away, and a substantial number of the guns used in Chicago’s crime epidemic can be traced back to those locales. Chicago is not an example of why local gun laws don’t work, Chicago is an example of why federal gun regulations are crucial to stemming the violence.

The man shot outside my window, whose name I later learned was Remus Campbell, died in the hospital. One of dozens of shooting victims that weekend. One of hundreds shot in August alone.

The mayhem in Chicago has become so ubiquitous that it barely registers except when used as a political bludgeon. Local officials have their hands tied by federal law while the GOP-controlled government uses the violence as an excuse to do nothing except attack the Democrats. Donald Trump, who brought up Chicago often on the campaign trail and even threatened to “send in the feds,” has done nothing. They all do nothing and even use the violence as justification of their inaction, as Sanders argued following Las Vegas.

Chicago’s daily carnage represents the greatest political failure of our time. Everyone knows the reasons – drugs, gangs, poverty, racial inequality, and above all easy access to guns – and yet nothing is being done. No new bills have come through. No debate started. Not even a federal study to probe the problem.

Our political leaders do nothing because it’s most convenient for them to do nothing. They want chaos in the streets to keep our attention off the selling of America to the super rich. Let the mob wage war, while the Republicans quietly remove the estate tax and promote the rise of a new landed gentry. Let the poor kill each other, while the wealthy build safe spaces behind marble walls.

Since the death of Remus Campbell there have been other shootings in Roger’s Park. Most recently a local math teacher, killed by a stray bullet while walking home with her husband last Friday night. And since Las Vegas there have been other mass shootings, most recently in a business park outside Baltimore.

What is Congress debating this week? Tax cuts of course.


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