Author Archives: Allison Hantschel

One. Week.

Guys? Guys? Here on out, shit’s only gonna get stupider and crazier. Hold on tight, DM me on Twitter if you need anything, and I wouldn’t call it crazy to stock up on some groceries just in case shit goes sideways.

But.

I have faith. I always do, I did in 2004 and I did in 2008 (he was a black man named Barack Hussein Obama, maybe you forgot what country we are) and I did in 2016, and the times I’ve been wrong still sting. Still, I have faith.

Better to be absolutely poleaxed by reality every couple of years than be the guy going “I knew it” because you still get screwed AND you sound like a jerk. As I say to people all the time when they shove their cynical white-boy shit in my face: Why be so happy you predicted the avalanche, you’re still buried up to your neck.

Here are my predictions.

The mail-in ballots that don’t arrive by election day won’t matter. The long lines won’t matter and the weather won’t matter and whatever Joey B. Shark says to eat his own kicks in the next seven days won’t matter and whatever dumb slogan Democrats put on signs won’t matter. The shit we fight over on Twitter matters even less. A butterfly flaps its wings in Wisconsin and there’s a hurricane in Georgia and someone spelled a sign wrong on a golf cart in one senior citizen park in Florida, and all of it might make the difference, but I don’t think any of it will.

I think we are going to lift ourselves up in a way we haven’t seen in any of our livin’ lives and I think it is going to be overwhelming and I am tempting the wrath of the whatever from high atop the thing but I think, I hope, I believe, that it was over after the first debate. That when those two men stood side by side, and one shouted about his opponent’s son and the other looked into the camera and said have courage and have hope and it will be all right, that it was over then.

Donald Trump is, like many of his GOP contemporaries, a small mean man who thinks everyone else is small and mean as well. The people who love him — I ain’t talking “hold your nose and vote because he’s better than the other person,” I mean his serious fans — love the excuse he gives them to chest-puff and yell. He lied to a lot of people that he cared about the things they care about, that he’d make their lives better. Yes, they should have listened when people who knew him said he was a liar, but you want to believe what you’ve always believed, you want not to have to change your heart.

No one has that excuse anymore. If you’re voting for him now, you know what you’re willing to put up with to get what you want, and you know who you’re willing to hurt to get it. And I can’t think of a less productive use of my time than talking to you about that.

All that matters now is turning out more people, more and more and more and more, until across this country it’s not like anything we’ve ever seen. Because the last four years have been like nothing we’ve ever seen, and we can’t see any more. We have to at least start seeing beyond this. We can’t fix what we can’t even focus on with all the noise.

So hold fast. Figure out who in your lives needs taking care of. Let your friends know if you have food, money, a safe place to sleep that you can offer someone, a place by the fire. If you’re well-supplied, supply someone else.

Put your time and money where it can do the most good. Pay for bail for protesters, masks and gas for organizers driving people to the polls. Give to Democratic candidates for state legislature who control the water you drink and the roads you drive on and how and when the kids go to school. Ask who has faith in the system they’re asking you to let them run. Ask who wants to govern, who wants to work and compromise and who believes in the idea that we can help one another.

That’s all there is. That’s what I believe. You don’t lose anything by believing, you don’t lose anything by working for what you care about, you don’t lose anything by loving the broken imperfect people around you so much you’ll make a fool of yourself over and over and over for them every time they ask.

One more week. Let us know what you need.

A.

Took Four Years But The Times Got Here

The GOP is the problem: 

With his dark gospel, the president has enthralled the Republican base, rendering other party leaders too afraid to stand up to him. But to stand with Mr. Trump requires a constant betrayal of one’s own integrity and values. This goes beyond the usual policy flip-flops — what happened to fiscal hawks anyway? — and political hypocrisy, though there have been plenty of both. Witness the scramble to fill a Supreme Court seat just weeks before Election Day by many of the same Senate Republicans who denied President Barack Obama his high court pick in 2016, claiming it would be wrong to fill a vacancy eight months out from that election.

Emphasis mine, because … The thing is, LITERALLY EVERYBODY TRIED TO TELL YOU THIS, 20 YEARS AGO. That we were heading exactly here. That this party was being propped up by feral critters prowling and growling underneath the banquet tables and eventually they’d slip their chains and start mauling the buffet.

The GOP wasn’t so much “enthralled” by Trump as the money guys looked at their spreadsheets and said eh, how bad could it possibly be? They gambled that if they let this happen the damage wouldn’t be obvious.

It worked out great for them last time, after all: 

It’s not only liberals who have noticed that Bush’s most committed followers are caught up in the fact-filtering force field of a personality cult. In January, Paul Craig Roberts, assistant secretary of the treasury during the Reagan administration and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal’s far-right editorial page, published a damning column in the progressive Z Magazine about fascist tendencies in the conservative movement. “In the ranks of the new conservatives, however, I see and experience much hate. It comes to me in violently worded, ignorant and irrational emails from self-professed conservatives who literally worship George Bush,” he wrote. “Even Christians have fallen into idolatry. There appears to be a large number of Americans who are prepared to kill anyone for George Bush Like Brownshirts, the new conservatives take personally any criticism of their leader and his policies. To be a critic is to be an enemy.”

Sound familiar? Jesus H. Christ in a chicken basket, do you GET IT NOW? Now that enough people are dead? Do you get what all us damn dirty hippies were trying to tell you? This was a long time coming and I take no pleasure in being able to say a hell of a lot of us saw it coming by a couple country miles. It’s why we didn’t want these people — nor anyone, really, but if you give arm one moron you arm ’em all — to have warrantless surveillance capabilities.

But that guy danced with Ellen and paints funny pictures of dogs now, so it’s all good.

Back to the performative innocence of the Times:

For all their talk about revering the Constitution, Republicans have stood by, slack-jawed, in the face of the president’s assault on checks and balances.

Um, they’ve actively assisted him, just as they assisted his GOPredecessor, who for those of you who didn’t have to live through this bullshit as adults was basically WHAT IF NIXON BUT SPIN IT OUT TO THE ENTIRE GOVERNMENT OF LAWS IDEA. The grand old men of the once-glorious Republican Party actively fought for Bush and Cheney’s right to detain people without charges, without warrants, without recourse. They actively fought for RETEROACTIVE IMMUNITY for telecom companies, come on. Plus that whole “weapons of mass destruction” thing, which is still killing people to this day.

The only difference between what they did and what Trump is doing is that they bothered to make excuses for it.

Trump’s attitudes towards women and minorities are crude and crass, but his attitudes towards governing are right in line with three decades of Republicans telling us they would run government like a business, in which the CEO just yells something and everyone has to hop to. How many senators and governors of this party have promised to just magically say the right words and everyone will behave? Here in Illinois we’ve had two of these guys and they’ve both noped out of the job the minute it became clear they’d have to work with people instead of screaming at them to obey.

And GOP intransigence during the Obama years only worsened the problem, because when you shut down all legislation you leave open the only door there is, and the president’s gonna use it, come on. Nobody, I don’t care how saintly, gives up power they don’t have to give up, so don’t throw B. Barry Bamz’s executive orders in my face. He kept trying while these tea people’s constituents were burning him in effigy.

Mr. Trump’s corrosive influence on his party would fill a book. It hasin factfilled several, as well as a slew of articles, social media posts and op-eds, written by conservatives both heartbroken and incensed over what has become of their party.

But many of these disillusioned Republicans also acknowledge that their team has been descending into white grievance, revanchism and know-nothing populism for decades.

DOES IT ONLY COUNT WHEN REPUBLICANS SAY IT? Because I remember quite a few people mentioning this as far back as 2001. I remember a whole lot of Democrats and HILLARY YOUR MOM CLINTON saying this during the 2016 campaign while our national punditry worried she was too smart and capable for the job.

Here’s Michelle Goldberg again, writing in 2003: 

The conference was packed with events devoted to denouncing the perfidious left. There were panels titled “Modern Feminism: The Bilking of the Taxpayer,” “Real Stories of Real Liberal Bias on Real College Campuses,” “NAACP, the Congressional Black Caucus and other Professional Victims” and “Myths, Lies & Terror: The Growing Threat Of Radical Environmentalism.” Dan Flynn, author of “Why the Left Hates America,” was on hand to sign his book. Ann Coulter, there to push her own book, was greeted with a thunderous standing ovation, after which she ripped into the “treason lobby” — the Democratic Party — whose platform “consists in breaking every one of the 10 commandments.”

But back then, we were starting a war that would be over in a couple of weeks, and everything was going great, and only pansy idiot fifth-columnists were worried about the racism and lawlessness embedded in that war’s cheerleaders. Only hysterical pussies were listening to the genocidal turns talk radio was taking and saying hey, this is going to inspire violence. Only conspiracy theorists thought our elections weren’t safe.

Maybe next time it won’t take 225,000 dead Americans for the Times to notice who’s been right about this all along.

HAHAHAHA even I’m not that naive.

A.

Happy Joe Biden Things

I know it seems like I’m desperate, right, like all I want in this job now is a MAMMAL and I’m flexible, like if we can rig up some lights for the iguana maybe that could work, but Joey B. Shark represents the forlorn recollection of a time when we had a president who didn’t treat people like shit: 

Yet, far more telling is Joe Biden’s history of support for transgender and non-binary people, something that has surprised even the occasional seasoned political reporter when I’ve briefed them. A week before the election in 2012, Biden told the mother of a transgender child that discrimination against trans people is “the civil rights issue of our time,” in that moment the most assertive public statement of support by any national leader specifically addressing trans rights.

In 2017, he endorsed Danica Roem, the first openly trans person to be elected to a state legislature in U.S. history. Del. Roem — who has won rave reviews for her laser-like focus on constituent concerns like transportation — received a phone call from Biden the night she won and made history, captured in a photo that went viral. Two years prior, Roem had met Biden after the death of his son Beau Biden, and she wrote movingly of his empathy in that moment.

Sarah McBride, the first openly-trans person to speak at a national convention and currently in a bid to become the first openly-trans state senator in the United States, has spoken numerous times of the Biden family’s insistent public support for trans rights, specifically the vice president, who wrote the foreword to her memoir released in 2018.

It would be so nice to have someone in office who doesn’t kick kindergarteners. It really would.

A.

Final Debate Live Coverage Breaking CRACK VAN

Thank God it’s almost over, I’m back to hourly panic attacks again:

THANKS FOR COMING ALL. SEE YOU IN THE VIDEO VAN ON ELECTION NIGHT.

A.

Two Weeks

Two weeks, cats and kittens. Increasingly I have nothing, due to the sheer avalanche of bullshit and my own pressing need not to lose my grip on reality. Clench your fists, sharpen your teeth and get ready.

 

In no particular order:

  1. If we want everything to get back to “normal” we need to close down stadiums, restaurants, bars and performances, and pay all those people what they’d be making anyway. I don’t give a fuck, okay, about the owners of restaurant chains but if it takes a giant bailout for whoever owns six IHOPs to pay the people who clean those IHOPs then fine, do it.
  2. If we want schools to reopen then game this out for me: However much it would cost to send, basically, the Army Corps of Engineers to every school in America tomorrow to install state-of-the-art rich-lady-hospital quality HVAC with UV filters or whatever the hell in every single school in the land, we should pay that. It’ll have the added benefit of schoolkids not needing to wear parkas indoors and/or suffer heatstroke in June, but mostly it will help ensure kids can go back to school safely. Because …
  3. NOTHING gets better until the kids go back to school full-time. I’m sorry, childfree people, I was one of you and it blows to be held hostage to breeders like this, but our entire lives depend on doctors and bus drivers being able to work a full day. You can’t do that with part-time, hybrid, half-the-week-here, half-the-week-there schedules that throw everything into chaos. Kick’s school district keeps sending out emails that are like “what about a rotating once-a-full-moon day in class” and that’s fine for me, but a firefighter can’t just, like, blow off the rest of the shift and work from home and I’m pretty sure they don’t let kindergarteners actually ride in the ladder truck.
  4. NATIONAL MASK MANDATE. I don’t know how “staying alive by wearing a small piece of cloth over your face during the time you have to leave your house” became something only liberal pussies do, I really don’t. It’s not that hard to rally America to do something. The GOP managed to do it for two unwinnable wars and the election of Donald Trump, you’d think they could get their own feral caucus under control on the side of “even if we hate the governors of blue states we can work with these dicks just once so that our voters survive.” It’s not like they even have to stop being pricks. Be as mean as you want, wear a mask that says “Hillary’s a cunt,” that’s your free speech, just wear a mask so you don’t get any of it on me and mine.
  5. Once and for all time we are one country, not a collection of safe areas and danger zones. I can accept there are things Colorado has to deal with that Florida doesn’t and vice versa but if we all have a disease that crosses state lines we need solutions that do, too. This shouldn’t be complicated. This shouldn’t be hard. And the people who are making it difficult need to be identified and voted out.

So like this is the shit Joey B. Shark has to deal with on day one. Which necessitates the Senate, and not just a one- or two-asshole majority in the Senate. If Joe Manchin or some other dickhead can hold the whole place hostage every time someone doesn’t give him a rub and a tug just right then that’s not a majority, not the kind we need. Joe is 77 years old, I know Kamala’s right there but we do not exactly have a lot of time for the kind of cheap shit that went on during Obama’s two terms. Vote with your caucus or GTFO.

THEN we have to fix literally every agency and re-hire all the civil servants who quit, if they even want to come back, like would you. That’s if we have a clear decision on election night and a peaceful smooth transition STOP LAUGHING IT’S NOT FUNNY.

If, in two weeks, the cities are on fire and Trump is declaring victory, well, then, we will still have to do these things, and then I don’t see any way out of this that doesn’t involve jail time. I said this in 2004 and I meant it then, but I really mean it now, we’ve got two weeks. Whatever you’ve been doing, do it more.

A.

It’s Always Gonna Be Democrats’ Fault

Tomasky, proving that nothing has changed since 2002 for his simple ass: 

Trumpworld sees these things differently. Mike Pence articulated the view in the vice-presidential debate. “We’re about freedom and respecting the freedom of the American people,” Mr. Pence said. The topic at hand was the Sept. 26 super-spreader event in the Rose Garden to introduce Amy Coney Barrett as the president’s nominee for the Supreme Court and how the administration can expect Americans to follow safety guidelines that it has often ignored.

Kamala Harris countered that lying to the American people about the severity of the virus hardly counts as “respect.”

It was a pretty good riposte, but she fixed on the wrong word. She could have delivered a far more devastating response if she’d focused on the right word, one that the Democrats have not employed over the past several months.

For fuck’s sake. Sure, the problem here is that Team D just hasn’t used the right WORDS. If only they would play OFFENSE. If only they knew how to TALK, Republicans wouldn’t be forced to have a 24-hour propaganda network funnel every piece of puke from some incel’s basement onto the Twitter feeds of every reporter in America.

If only they’d SAY what was needed, we could have the intellectual debate Michael Tomasky, whose all-time hits include “the second Iraq war will be amazingly stupid great,” would like to have. Said intellectual debate being the real problem here, and not that the GOP is intent on KILLING PEOPLE.

Like imagine, in 2020, as the Republican Party dismantles voting rights from coast to coast, saying that this could all be prevented by a Democrat appealing to John Stuart Mill.

No, really:

Now, conservatives revere Mill. But today, in the age of the pandemic, Mill and other conservative heroes like John Locke would be aghast at the way the American right wing bandies about the word “freedom.”

Sure, that’s what would freak them out about the Grand Old Party of today, and not the ascension of an assheaded sentient cheeto who can’t string a sentence together if you spotted him a noun, a verb and two adjectives. You might also regale them with tales of “Freedom Fries,” a story I’m sure you’ve forgotten, Mikey, given that it happened during the days when Republicans had honor and dignity and the courage of their convictions and were in no way prone to spouting jingoistic garbage to appeal to the rubes.

I am so tired of telling Nancy Pelosi to fight harder and saying absolutely nothing to Mitch McConnell at all. Diane Feinstein sucks, okay, screw her, but let’s not pretend she’s done a fraction of the damage to the country in the past four years that Lindsey Graham has. Eyes on the goddamn ball. Every single day it’s WHY WON’T BIDEN BE PRESIDENT BEFORE HE’S EVEN PRESIDENT and come the hell on, here:

[…] the broad left in America has let all this go unchallenged for decades, to the point that today’s right wing — and it is important to call it that and not conservative, which it is not — can defend spreading disease, potentially killing other people, as freedom. It is madness.

The “broad left” in America has been drowned out by TV screamers in every podiatrist’s waiting room in the Midwest saying that liberals want to kill babies, take your money, give it to welfare queens, and reverse-racism the police. To come up with this kind of “if only the language were different” nonsense requires pretending that the media disparity between the left and the right doesn’t exist, or that there is a vibrant left media at all.

One thing Democrats in general aren’t very good at is defending their positions on the level of philosophical principle.

WHAT GODDAMN PLANET ARE YOU ON RIGHT NOW, WHAT ROLLING STONE DRUGS HAVE YOU SNORTED, THAT IS ALL DEMOCRATS ARE GOOD AT. They’re good at talking for HOURS about the philosophical underpinnings of this or that percent being necessary persuant to the above requirement that we all stuff our heads up our asses and means-test what we find there.

What they’re NOT good at, or weren’t until we decided to run the crabbiest old man in the universe, is fucking kneecapping the other guy and laughing while he whines.

I am so sick of this argument. I am so tired of the blame being shifted onto the party that DID NONE OF THIS, for not stopping it from happening, while the party of WE DON’T HAVE TO SCIENCE YOU CAN’T MAKE US gets to skate away with its pocket full of cash. I am so tired of nitpicking every D speech for something “they” can find to “use” against us when the past 20 years have proven definitively that if there’s nothing there Murdoch’s creatures will just make something up.

Why won’t Biden speak about this, why won’t Democrats make the debate about that, why won’t anyone do anything well WHY DON’T YOU ASK YOUR  CABLE NEWS FRIENDS WHY TRUMP’S EVERY TWEET GETS A ‘BREAKING’ CHYRON WHILE BIDEN ONLY BREAKS NEWS WHEN SOMEONE WANTS TO BITCH ABOUT THE FOOD IN HIS PRESS ROOM. Ask them if they’d cover the campaigns fairly if Democrats used the word “freedom” as John Stuart Mill would have them do.

I’m sorry I’m yelling so much but this is how it’s going to be for the next four years if we’re lucky enough to get a Biden Administration. It’s going to be nonstop blame for every single move Democrats make to put out the fires, and any mention of Trump having lit the kindling the GOP lovingly laid out for him going all the way back to Ronald Reagan, or Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan’s TRUCKS FULL OF GASOLINE PARKED OUT BACK, will be derided as somehow living in the past.

Say this: Freedom means the freedom not to get infected by the idiot who refuses to mask up.

That is all they have been saying. That is all Democratic governors have been saying, and meanwhile their Republican state legislatures are suing to keep getting people sick and kill them. Maybe we could focus some on that, and a little less on why Democrats so stubbornly refuse to invoke the great philosophers of yore.

Schmuck.

A.

It Can’t Be Close

Listen up:

Yes, it’s disgusting. Yes, it shouldn’t be this way. Yes, we shouldn’t have to fight this hard to VOTE. And of course the GOP doesn’t want people in cities and blue states to vote, and of course they’re going tooth and nail to prevent that, and of course they’re framing it as “preventing voter fraud” so that they can get the “both sides” columns they need to confuse the people who are interested enough in actual facts to look things up and decide it’s all too complicated, a pox on both their houses, might as well stay home.

What’s to be done? The odds are overwhelmingly in their favor. It is hard, in a normal year, to throw out an incumbent president, no matter how terrible. They have every institution of power on their side, every single one. That Trump is in enough trouble to warrant this kind of maneuvering is just a testament to how awful he’s been. So what to do?

We have 21 days.

Twenty-one days and then the rest of our lives, cats and kittens. What’s to be done?

Win. Win so big they can’t fight it. Win so big they can’t deny it. Win so big that we say, once and for all, that the America we want is not one in which their Nazi incel bullshit stands one iota of a chance.

It has to be overwhelming. It has to be a landslide for Joseph Robinette Biden, a human conference call, the most middle-of-the-road centrist on earth, the neoliberal-whatever-the-hell, in Congress for 200 years. We have to vote for him like we’re voting for Cardi B crossed with Santa Claus. It has to be a blue tsunami. It has to be a cyclone. It can’t be close.

Not in Florida, not in Wisconsin, not in Georgia, not in Texas. It can’t be close in Ohio or Pennsylvania. Ten points isn’t enough. It has to be beyond contestation.

We cannot DO four more years of this, and we can’t do Bush v. Gore again, not for this. Not to get kids out of cages and the Muslim ban rescinded and science back in charge of controlling a pandemic. That can’t be something we’re feeling six-of-one-half-dozen-of-the-other about. There cannot be compromise between people who want to roll back marriage equality for thousands of couples and people who don’t.

(What would that even look like? Divorce half the gay people? How do you compromise on that?)

Joey B. Shark, crabbiest dad on the face of the earth, 77 endless years old. There has to be an uprising on his behalf that sweeps away the last 40 years of Republican power in one go. That takes the Senate back, widens the lead in the House, lifts every statehouse candidate and every downticket perpetual also-ran who before this year didn’t have a shot in hell. It has to be something we’ve never seen in all our livin’ lives.

And the GOP is doing everything they can to make that impossible:

These dickweasels. Every last one of them learned at Roger Stone’s knee and they’re going to ratfuck because that’s what people who like to fuck rats do. Surprise and outrage, we ain’t got time for, and we can’t unfuck the rats. We can’t care about what they’re doing and God love every one of you watching the Amy Coney Barrett confirmation hearings. The ins and outs are not going to change no matter how much we yell at our TVs.

Put your money, right now, in state legislative races, bail funds, voter advocacy groups. Put your time into postcards and phone banking and signing up to drive people to the polls if you’re well enough to risk it. Protect yourselves and your families, check in on the people who’ll be at risk in the days after the election no matter how it goes. Either way, the neighborhood could be on fire.

All that matters now is the win. It can’t be a margin of victory. It can’t be single digits. Yes, we shouldn’t have to be in line for hours. We shouldn’t have to fight this in every court in the land. We shouldn’t have to all be tracking the status of our ballots obsessively online and constantly bugging each other. We shouldn’t have an electoral college and Senate that prioritizes landholders over citizens. This is no way to have a country.

And all we have is 21 days to save it.

So don’t back down. Don’t be scared. Don’t think, for one minute, that win or lose you have nothing to do in this situation. Fight. Fight for 21 days the way you’ve fought for the past four years, fight when you’re too tired, when you’re too sick, when you’re too scared, when you can’t anymore. I’m right there with you. Fight because you’re not dead yet and you don’t intend to let this kill you. Fight for those who can’t, for those who failed, for those who came before and won and were forgotten. Fight in daylight and dark and don’t give up and don’t back down and don’t back up.

Not. One. Inch.

A.

Happy Joey B. Shark Things

You know, we can and should still have a shit ton of fun in this fight. I missed this absolutely ADORKABLE interview when it happened and if I have to catch up with it so do all of you:

I love her so much. And he’s just a gigantic walking Dad Joke which, let’s be honest, is kind of what you want the president to be. A grown-up, trying way too hard, not always getting there.

A.

Not Everything Sucks

Jennifer Wheeler is cooking and posting videos: 

“It’s not just about cooking a meal and having the meal for lunch or dinner, but it’s about connection with our ancestors and how they have been so resilient and strong,” said Jennifer Wheeler.

Jennifer Wheeler, a Navajo language teacher, posted a series of videos on her Facebook page showing her making traditional foods like blue corn much and kneel down bread. Her videos have been shared across the platform tens of thousands of times.

“I didn’t even imagine the response that I’m getting now,” she said.

BRB adding to my “watch and then try to cook it” list which is currently 4,000 recipes long.

A.

Yet Another Mystery

But why, why do all these assholes keep voting for Trump? 

One of the evergreen thought exercises of the Trump era has been trying to guess what it might take to finally shake the faith of his most devoted supporters. “We’re always asking, ‘What would it take to break the camel’s back?’” said former Representative Tom Rooney, Republican of Florida, who withdrew his support for Mr. Trump in 2016 after the release of the “Access Hollywood” video.

“When the losers-and-suckers thing happened, I asked a friend of mine if that bothered him, and he said, ‘Nope,’” Mr. Rooney told me.

All that mattered to his friend was that he thought Mr. Trump was a better bet to keep his taxes low. “That was it,” Mr. Rooney said. “End of discussion.”

Look. This isn’t complicated. Before the pandemic, it was safe enough for rich white people to laugh along with the bully because the bully wasn’t going to hurt them. It was safe enough for middle-class and poor white people to egg the bully on, and use the bully’s name to commit their own acts of aggression. They could do that, even nervously, even reluctantly, and know that whatever horrors Trump visited on poor people, immigrants, liberals, anyone a fraction more melanated than himself, they would be shielded from it.

The joke is ALWAYS funny when it’s not about you. I was taught that most of our elite reporting class went to prep schools. Could they really have learned so little about playground dynamics? Were there no scholarship kids there for them to beat up on? Jesus, the innocence they pretend to.

But now? Now that people who denied the seriousness of the virus and laughed at people wearing masks are getting sick and dying? 

“I just want to punch him,” Schultz said. “I always had to keep my politics to myself, but from where I’m sitting now? Those days are over.

“I shouldn’t be here.”

Trump, he said, should have been more upfront with the public from the beginning about the dangers of the coronavirus, should have acted quicker, promoted wearing face masks. If he had, Schultz believes, maybe the pandemic would not have struck his community so hard, might not have wound up at his door.

Now it’s a lot less funny. They thought he would hurt other people. He ran, explicitly, on hurting other people. A lot of people heard him talking about manufacturing jobs and sticking it to The System and they thought he was their friend. But anyone who’s ever known a bully knows that the bully’s only friend is himself, and he will cut down with furious anger anyone who threatens him no longer how much they think he’s on their side.

A.

Fuck Him Up, Kamala, With the Crack Van of Loooooooooove

I might already be drunk. It’s been a day. Is it ever not, but especially today.

Van closed! Thanks for coming and be here for the NEXT presidential debate, if it happens, who the fuck knows, I’m really drunk.

A.

TEACH US HOW TO DOUGIE

I told you I’d be posting pretty much nothing but Democratic mash notes from here on out. You were warned.

UGH, GOD, GET A ROOM.

Seeing a dude in these roles is always a really interesting prospect to me. Like 2/3 of the charm of a Hillary presidency would have been seeing First Gentleman Bill Clinton handling the Easter Egg Roll and all the other extremely gendered shit we expect the First Spouse to do. I’ve said often that the only thing I find relatable about Melania is her wanting nothing to do with the ceremonial stuff that the Sally Quinns of the world will tell you is EVERYTHING.

Shake it up, Dougie.

A.

I’d Been Wondering What the Strippers Were Doing

The LA Times, with the news we need right now: 

Co-founded by Gabrielle, Reagan, Coco Ono (real name Kayla Tange) and Kitty, the Stripperina (real name Kelly Vittetoe), the show has given the strippers a new sense of agency and empowerment in an industry that is notorious for taking advantage of women. Although they emphasized that Jumbo’s is a supportive environment run by women, other strip clubs can be exploitative.

I’ve never been germophobic. It’s hard to be and ride public transportation, or really live in a city at all. You just … come to terms with a certain amount of filth. But during this pandemic I keep thinking of places that seem like TERRIBLE ideas now that I wouldn’t have thought about twice before. Like that bin full of random LEGOs at the store that you and every child on earth can stick their hands in and pull stuff out of. Who said to themselves, sure, children are generally clean and never lick their fingers for funsies, why not do this?

Gas station bathrooms, these days, too. I’d truly rather die. I’ve changed a baby on the floor of some really seedy shitholes because sometimes you just don’t know what kind of place you’re in until you’re in there, and ports in storms, plus it used to be good for babies to get filthy to build up their immune systems. Now I’ve taught Kick to say quietly to herself, as she enters any sort of public lavatory, “Everything in here is on fire.”

Strip clubs, though, always seemed like places you shouldn’t touch anything with your bare hands. The performers, of course, but also like the tables, and any kind of food at all. I trust the performers to have their own best interests at heart. The customers, not so much. Every guy there on a Tuesday afternoon is also likely to be the one going on the internets and telling all of Facebook that he doesn’t think it’s necessary to wipe his ass.

So good for these women to come up with a way to make money that also keeps them and their customers safe.

A.

Marmalade Jars

Show me the lie:

And, like, I don’t UNDERSTAND the stupid culture war shit over stuff like this. Even the pronoun nonsense makes more sense than this, and it makes no sense. At least then you might be talking about something you might actually do, or say, or have to change. You can still buy the damn rice. If you didn’t think about racism before this when buying Uncle Ben’s, you don’t need to think about it when buying Ben’s.

(Call me, Ben, we need a discussion about your “roasted chicken” flavor which does not taste at all like a roasted chicken, THAT is worth getting het up about.)

This is the kind of thing that, when someone acts like it outweighs damage to someone else’s actual life, makes me bonkers. I’m sorry you have to buy a new brand of strawberry preserves or whatever, but my friends are being deported and some of them are worried about being killed in the streets. How are those things analogous? How did you become so easily provoked? What is your idea of a proportional response here?

You were momentarily asked to consider an experience other than your own, possibly more than once, and the cumulative weight of that mental labor made you want to SEND A MESSAGE and VOTE FOR THE FLAG and KNEELING AT FOOTBALL GAMES and SAY MERRY CHRISTMAS and MY HALLMARK COMMERCIALS and what the SHIT, even. You feel like you’re under siege as a comfortable white person in America, because of THIS?

I know, by the way, the difference between this and genuine disgust and frustration with a society that helps all of us too little. That you’re in massive debt for a middling college education and that you have no way of seeing a doctor that isn’t like reaching the North Pole on roller skates. That the factories closed and the unions are powerless and the streets aren’t clean anymore are absolutely reasons for anger. You want to say you’re mad nobody is helping you, I agree. (Stop voting for people who kneecap state and municipal governments, but.)

But if your issues are … this? If your issues are that everything is not precisely the same as it was when you last formed a cultural thought? If your issues are that people just aren’t nice enough to you by giving you literally everything you want, and you can’t for a second think about anyone else, you don’t get to claim persecution to a degree that equals John Brown at Harper’s Ferry. Not in the middle of a deadly global pandemic caused by the person you thought would fight back against the food packaging changes.

Calm the fuck down. It’s just marmalade.

A.

First Debate Crack Van!!!!!

VAN CLOSED. THANK YOU ALL FOR BEING HERE. I could not do that alone. Jump into the comments and tell me what you think of the new van. Transcript highlights later!

Like I was watching this shit alone.

Pick a name and come on in! We don’t have the sound effects anymore but we do have a stable platform that works with WordPress and it won’t crash your browser 7 times in an hour.

A.

Start Tearing the Old Man Down

It’s getting colder. I made two and a half quarts of soup on Sunday morning, before the rain started and the wind picked up. We have a chest freezer now. We have a store-room full of apples. Every day I peel, chop, bag, so we can use them in baking or stews.

Kick and I tried to grow potatoes. We planted too late, when it was already cooling off, and damp, and they rotted in the ground, but everything else went wild, took over the small patch we planned. We’re saving seeds — tomatoes, peppers, squash — from this year’s bounty to start again next year. In just a few months, we can start them inside; in just a few months, this will all begin again.

We’re looking at blowing out the front yard, turning the whole dang thing into a garden. I’ve never successfully grown anything before, but now I think daily of my grandmother, shouting at the rabbits in the rhubarb. Pulling carrots. What Kick knows about Great-Grandma is that she had a root cellar that could have withstood a siege.

There was no food, you see, when Great-Grandma was a child. Eleven kids, ten of whom survived to adulthood, on virtually nothing. A potato as a treat. Wouldn’t you pickle things, after that? Wouldn’t you make jam from every single strawberry?

We talk a lot about inherited trauma, about generational memory. I never wanted for a single necessity, all my childhood, but I was surrounded by that fear every day. It’s useful now.

Kick is not afraid. Kick wears her mask and learns online and goes to skating lessons without complaint. Kick wants morning glories. She’s obsessed with them, these indigo beauties that grow across the alley in the yard of a neighbor. I’ve promised a raft of them in the spring.

I can’t even think about the spring.

Begin. Again.

We talked to her about the debate tonight. Pondered letting her stay up to watch but it starts so late, and Mama intends to yell at Donald Trump a lot. She knows, thanks to him and my lack of restraint when stubbing my toe on a chair, most of the “grown-up words” by heart. Those she doesn’t know, she’s sure to learn, come election night.

I want to believe. In November, in January, in the next year and the next and the next. I want to believe in the train and the bus and the earth continuing to turn and everyone I love staying or getting healthy, staying alive, staying here. I want to believe, but I am preparing.

I spent the spring so sick and broken that any kind of optimism feels foolish. Every twinge of hope gets smothered by the memory of her tiny hand in mine, helping me mark the ballot for Hillary in 2016. I have a picture of us, grinning, outside the polling place. I have a picture of her at the Women’s March, kitty-cat hat and all, holding a sign that said, “Future President.” She’d colored it herself.

We are hunkered down for the winter, and we are counting on a 77-year-old man to save us and it seems like a lot to put on his back. I hold onto the railing to go down the stairs, and I turned 45 this year. But: shoot him up with whatever kind of chimp speed and greenies he needs. Make that sonofabitch a kale smoothie, because he’s what we’ve got.

You know, he’s a decent guy, Joe Biden. That’s the thing, when we talk about two parties, when we lament that we are choosing between two old white men. We are choosing, in fact, between a 78-year-old white man who enables the absolute worst of our society, gives aid and comfort to white supremacy, not only doesn’t care about Black people but doesn’t care about anyone, and a 77-year-old white man who shows up to work and screws up sometimes. We do actually need a leader who isn’t pointlessly mean, who doesn’t just make things difficult. Who looks at a problem and tries to solve it instead of screaming at it.

This isn’t even about Trump personally. I don’t care that he’s a shithead who eats fast food. I don’t even care if he has secret addictions and disabilities, or isn’t really a billionaire, or dresses dumb. LBJ’s mouth made mine look like an angel’s, come on, and JFK was a humongous poon hound, and Roosevelt was banging his cousin. None of that’s important.

You can be mean and a jerk and even a sexist pig, and still good at your job, but look around. Look around. Is he good at his job? Does any of this HELP?

We just … it’s a fundamental question, right: Are you going to HELP ME? Are you going to nurture the kind of country in which I can grow and see the results of my work and live a good life? For too long we’ve ignored the people who’ve said this isn’t working for us, and for too long we’ve said wait just a little longer, and I would never say that’s not a part of how this happened.

We have to fix it now. There’s so much to fix. There’s the pandemic and the resulting poverty, there’s the poverty that was there before, there’s the healthcare that needs to be prioritized over health insurance, there’s student debt, there’s a housing crisis, prescription drugs cost a fortune, there’s a general unfucking of every single government service, but overall we need someone who will, upon hearing help me, not laugh and crush us under his heel because it’s fun.

This isn’t hard. It’s not hard to fake being a good dude for long enough to get the Post editorial board to love you. W managed to do it and he was an inside-out elephant anus. If you’re somehow on the fence, and I can’t even, but look. If you’re conflicted, at all, then watch, tonight.

If you’re still saying all of this is worth it for the courts, watch, tonight.

Who’s going to help? Who’s going to plant the garden, staff the shelter, run the program, chop the apples? Who’s going to help those people, instead of laughing at them, instead of raging? That’s it, that’s all there is. And if we know nothing else now, we know that.

The neighbors have a free box on their lawn from which anyone who is hungry can take canned goods. Nobody opens it in daylight, that I’ve seen, but in the morning it’s always empty. Our neighborhood’s project is literally giving things away: Coats, still warm and cozy, that are too small, boots that don’t fit growing feet, kitchen tools we no longer use or have a new one of. We put a table out front, post a picture on Facebook, and let people take what they want.

No judgment, no policing, no means-testing, no forms to fill out, no ID to show.

We’re thinking of a hot apple cider stand, to raise money for a cause, now it’s getting cold.

Things shouldn’t be so hard.

A.

Not Everything Sucks

Geo Soctomah Neptune exists.

Neptune ran for the school board after being urged by community members and tribal youth, who were familiar with their work as an art teacher in an after-school program. Of the three candidates elected, Neptune received the most votes — about half.

“To almost stand up and say that they’re embracing me in this leadership role as a Two Spirit was incredibly affirming,” Neptune told Maine Public. “I feel very lucky that I live in a place where my community accepts me because a lot of trans people don’t have that.

Warning: incredibly loud and annoying autoplay ads at link, but worth it to read the story.

A.

Anti-Catholics

Sure, that’s the real problem here: 

The scrutiny focused on Ms. Barrett’s beliefs has provoked allegations of old-fashioned anti-Catholicism on behalf of her Democratic critics. A good amount of febrile nonsense has indeed been floated regarding Ms. Barrett’s spiritual life, such as the notion that People of Praise inspired Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel “The Handmaid’s Tale,” a charge that is reminiscent of 19th-century myths of nuns kidnapping good Protestant girls to force the faith upon them.

People keep pointing out the absurdity — the Democratic presidential nominee is a Catholic, the Speaker of the House is a Catholic, THE ONLY CATHOLIC PRESIDENT WE’VE EVER ACTUALLY HAD WAS A DEMOCRAT — and it’s such a fundamental misunderstanding of Catholicism as a part of modern electoral politics that I have to laugh.

Republican Catholics do not make room in their Republicanism or in their Catholicism for anyone who is not fervently anti-abortion.

That’s it.

That’s all there is.

You cannot be a Democrat and a Catholic, because Democrats generally support abortion rights. This has been the line for three decades at least, that the only issue that matters is abortion, the only Roman Catholic position that life begins at conception, and therefore there is no moral option to support a candidate who does not oppose abortion in the strongest of ways from the earliest stages of pregnancy, with no exceptions whatsoever.

No, not even if the anti-abortion candidate is a subhuman slime mold who’s likely paid for several abortions himself. Not even then. Because, you see, the slime mold still appoints anti-abortion judges. So it’s worth it.

That’s how you have churchgoing politicians told they’re hostile to religion, while a guy who couldn’t spell Jesus if you spotted him the J and both S’s gets a pass and his henchmen get awards for “Christlike behavior.” 

You can point out the hypocrisy all day long. I’m not here to kinkshame you. We’re in a global pandemic. Make your own fun.

Just stop expecting it to matter that the candidate of a party that is supposedly so anti-Catholic is, himself, a Catholic. The people calling him godless know very well that he isn’t. They don’t care, and they know the people they’re talking to don’t care either.

They want an anti-abortion judiciary and they will tie themselves into any knots they have to in order to get to one. Stop acting like if you win the meme wars with your maiden aunt/racist uncle somehow this will convince them of anything. They are dishonest in their means but they are 100 percent serious about their ends.

Far better to spend our time focused on dissuading purportedly objective news outlets from allowing six reliably-available-for-a-quote dickheads from defining Christianity in general, defining Catholicism in particular, and promoting the entire idea that Americans are electing a spiritual leader of any kind. (The job entails drone-bombing schoolchildren, do you really want to give it to a monk?)

Democrats elected, let us not forget, the most devoutly Christian president in modern times in James Earl Carter, shortly before it began to occur to Republicans that they could use this one issue to cleave Holy Mother Church in two and leave Her for dead in the alley. Carter, you’ll recall, was roundly characterized as some kind of Communist pussy and is presently 856 years old and hammering nails into Habitat for Humanity Houses on weekends, in between curing diseases and brokering world peace.

So maybe the next time someone who hated him and his party opens their yawp about who does and doesn’t have JC on speed-dial, instead of arguing with the jackass we ask why he’s allowed in the stable in the first place.

A.

She’s Dead, and Life is Possible. She Made It Possible.

We had built a fire in the backyard on Friday because it was the first night it seemed cold enough to do so. It took forever to get it started. The wood was cold and a little damp from sitting in the garage all summer. The butane lighter was starting to run out of juice and we didn’t have any matches. We snapped sticks for kindling, crumpled up paper and scrap cardboard, lit it over and over and over again.

When the logs finally caught, we sat back in camp chairs, roasted marshmallows. I’d been telling myself and Mr. A and Kick, who is six, that we would get through the winter with this fire pit. Even if there was a foot of snow, we would shovel out a spot and have little parties out here, just the three of us and the very few people admitted into our quarantine circle.

It got dark. Kick counted stars. The logs popped and settled and I pondered building the fire back up. We could stay up late, could open another bottle of wine, could make just one more s’more. It took almost an hour to get this fire going. Seemed a shame to waste it.

Kick and Mr. A took a walk while I started a new book. They came back, sat down, and he looked at his phone.

There are, and always have been, ways to change a hopeless world. Maybe no one knew that as well as Ginsburg: 

Earlier, I spoke of great changes I have seen in women’s occupations. Yet one must acknowledge the still bleak part of the picture. Most people in poverty in the United States and the world over are women and children, women’s earnings here and abroad trail the earnings of men with comparable education and experience, our workplaces do not adequately accommodate the demands of childbearing and child rearing, and we have yet to devise effective ways to ward off sexual harassment at work and domestic violence in our homes. I am optimistic, however, that movement toward enlistment of the talent of all who compose “We, the people,” will continue.

Despair is an insult, to the memory of someone like that. So what’s to be done? Fight, obviously. Fight not just with words and statements and stern tweets but with quorum calls and sit-ins on the floor, with every tool your arsenal, with every inch of your resolve be it polite and acceptable to pundits or no.

The last time this happened, this what could have been done: 

First, they’d initiate a quorum call or a roll-call vote. This, of course, would require a Democrat to be in the chamber, and perhaps several other Democrats to support a request for a vote or quorum call.

However, their physical presence in the chamber does not mean they automatically count toward a quorum. The Senate does not have turnstiles to count people as they enter or exit; instead, senators usually count toward a quorum when they cast a vote or answer when their names are called during a quorum call (more on this below).

Getting a vote on a procedural matter would require some rejecting unanimous consent agreements that preclude spontaneous roll-call votes and some preparation, perhaps in consultation with the Senate parliamentarian.

Make them show up, every day, every time. Make them pick nits. Make them maneuver. Make them MAD. Make them tired. Make them work. Make them do it over and over and over again. Could they overcome this or any other parliamentary procedure you throw at them? Of course they could. THAT’S NOT THE POINT.

The point isn’t to win. The point is to fight. To slow it all down. To make them pay for every inch they take. To drag this out until it’s impossible to justify the cost of the fight. To make it politically unwise to continue. To focus attention.

And once and for all time to make it clear that when something matters you show up armed to the teeth.

For too long we’ve accepted “there was nothing else we could do” as if it’s somehow ever okay to say that as long as you’re alive. Yes, we continue to ride that Democratic pony because the choice is between that pony and an angry sexually ravenous wolverine with mange and we’re not idiots, but it doesn’t mean we can’t kick that pony in the ass. Especially when the pony keeps asking us for money.

We’re out here phone banking and letter-writing and digging pennies out of the couch cushions and throwing cash we can’t afford to give at candidates who have no shot in hell and what we want to see, as we home-school our kids and side-hustle for more side hustles to keep up with rising expenses and the absurd need for food and heat, is a level of fight that understands and honors that.

That feels as desperate as this does, as we do. That seems to suit the occasion. That takes us seriously. That doesn’t justify racism or bigotry but instead of acting like we’re in some kind of debating society calls fascism and idiocy what it is, punches it in the face and leaves it by the side of the road.

You want to say something matters to you? Then what are you prepared to do? I know people are sick of me saying this and I should probably grow up, but what are you prepared to do? If the answer from those who are empowered to represent us is something like, “sit around waiting for David Brooks to be disappointed enough to write a column about it” then get out of the goddamn chair and let someone else sit in it.

Someone who has ideas about what to do, instead of how to get away with doing nothing.

The fire burned out fast. I wanted another drink but wanted to check in on friends too and I’m too old to drunk-text with any dexterity; it was time for Kick to go to bed and she didn’t understand why her parents were upset. I pulled her close.

Someone important died, I said. Someone who cared about the kinds of things we care about and was in a very powerful position to protect people. And we need all the people like her we can get right now.

“We are going to try to make the world better for you,” I told her. “We try to do that every day.”

Less a lie, I hoped, looking at her face, than a prayer.

The coals were settling, sparks drifting upward. Her hair smelled like smoke. How long have we sat around fires, promising our children tomorrow would be better than today?

As long as there have been children. As long as there have been fires.

A.

Please, They Already Have My Vote

Mitch McConnell tries to have phone sex with me:

Donald Trump makes me want to vote for Biden twice:

Joey B. Shark is an enormous dorkwad on his best day, there has been nothing cool about him since 1957 and that’s actually one of the coolest things about him, but damn if Republicans aren’t going out of their way to make him look BADASS.

I mean it. Every day some YAF-minted dickwad in a $14 suit hops on Fox to say Joe’s going to let the Black Panthers run the State Department I’m like shit yeah, let’s rumble.

They post “what a pussy” pictures of Joe in a black facemask and suddenly Joseph Robinette Biden becomes a BRILF, a Bank Robber I’d Like to Fuck.

Joe “about that busing thing” Biden wants to abolish the police and give your McMansion to welfare people. It’s ABOUT TIME he went in that direction, who needs a 6,000 square foot house to themselves, you can give BLM some room in there, you won’t even notice.

He wants to burn down the Burger King! Have you EATEN at a Burger King lately? Bring. It. On.

If the Democrats retake the Senate they’ll pack the courts with ideologues and make a bunch of places states and suddenly we can put an NFL team in American Samoa that will fuck up the entire rest of the league? DOOOO EEEEET.

Biden hates the police! WELL half the comments on cop PR posts are firefighters bragging they’ve spit-roasted the entire department’s badge bunnies. Whose side you want to pick in that fight, the guys who rescue children and kittens or the ones who empty a mag into anything that bugs them and then whine when someone’s sign is rude?

They keep this up, I’m going to take their advice and vote eight times, one for each orgasm.

A.