Author Archives: Allison Hantschel

Americans Can’t Have Nice Health Care

So the clear solution is to make them realize how stupid they are for wanting it! 

Additionally, neither the DemocratsObamacare nor the Republicans’ Trumpcare can truly meet the unrealistic expectations of the American public. The public has four major expectations, which are inherently mutually incompatible.

The public wants: (1) freedom to choose doctor and hospital; (2) the latest modern, state-of-the-art technology in diagnostic equipment and medical and surgical treatments; (3) no delay in appointments and treatments; and (4) minimal (or at least, reasonable) cost. People can have two, perhaps three, but in no way can they have all four. That is the reality.

Because this is the weather. It occurred naturally. Our health care system is not man-made, and therefore cannot be changed except here and there around the edges. We can’t actually make anything better.

Also, allow me to introduce you to the world we live in now, in which appointments and treatments ARE routinely delayed even if you have Cadillac insurance, and lots of places have one busted-ass hospital or none at all. If you’re a woman who needs reproductive care, you already have to drive for miles, go out of state, or get legit procedures refused because of said hospitals’ conscience clauses. Walgreens and CVS have eaten every family pharmacy, religious ownership of health care is its own clusterfuck, and your doctor’s office parking lot during flu season is like the Hunger Games.

THAT is the reality.

Neither political party wants to tell the truth, that health care costs keep skyrocketing, fueled by new diagnostic and therapeutic modalities. For example, many of those drugs are heavily advertised on TV, such as the Xeljanz arthritis drug at about $50,000 per year. Then there is the Harvoni or Sovaldi drug to treat hepatitis C, with one $1,000 pill per day for 84 days. Think of that cost, $84,000 times 3 million people.

Which is why fuck those companies, because unless those drugs are made out of fairy wings and blue diamonds, ain’t no way they actually cost that much. Stop confusing “this drug is expensive” with “this drug’s company wanted to charge a bucket of money for it.”

This is not an argument not to change things. This is an argument to nationalize the entire health care system from drugs to delivery rooms, prohibit prescription drug advertising on TV, and put people who are grifting off the illnesses of others into goddamn federal prison.

Even with negotiated lower costs, exotic, high-tech treatments will still be financially ruinous. Also, with people living longer than ever before, they are seeing more degenerative diseases (vascular, cancer, mobility), all of which take an increasing toll. We are seeing more complex multiple system diseases, many with prolonged recovery times. No wonder costs are sailing out of sight.

Just die. It’s cheaper.

I often analogize that the federal government could require an automobile to protect all passengers in an up-to-120 mph crash. We do have the technology to do it, but the cost of your basic low-priced car would probably be over $100,000. There is a cost and a benefit to everything, and medical care is no different.

Yet how seldom we hear this argument when it comes to a national defense. It’s almost like there ARE unlimited funds for some things, if we value them highly enough.

Since there is not an unlimited amount of dollars available, whether by individuals, private insurance or government programs, there have to be rational ways to decide how and where to get the most bang for the buck, and frankly, the political parties and the public must get real as to what is possible.

Perhaps we should begin classifying people by their projected recovery and usefulness to society thereafter, so as to decide who deserves medicine. In the entirety of human history that’s never gone wrong.

The best cost control is when there is a direct relationship between buyer and seller. Perhaps, for outpatient services, we should do what some European countries do — the patient pays the doctor directly, then he turns the receipt into his or her health insurance plan for reimbursement. This puts a great restraint on doctors running up the tab because they have to look the patient directly in the eye.

If you think a doctor has never lied to a patient, you might want to meet this bunch of guys in Tuskegee, Alabama. They all have syphilis for some reason. Maybe you can explain it to them.

But the way it works in our country, the patient never sees the bill, and it becomes a game between the doctor and the insurance carrier.

I will grant that when I ask my doctor how much something will cost, he acts like money is a disgusting sex act and he can’t believe I’m uncouth enough to bring it up in church. HOWEVER, the idea that patients don’t see a bill is high-larious, considering how many medical bankruptcies result among the insured.

Also, although there is no constitutional mandate to provide medical care; perhaps economic reality dictates that the government could provide a basic Volkswagen plan for everyone, and if individuals want to purchase a Buick or Cadillac level of care, then that should be their right to do so.

This would literally be Obamacare if Republican governors hadn’t decided to fuck the program in the hopes of blaming a black dude in order to win elections. But you keep going.

Bottom line: We as a nation, can no longer provide an unlimited social goody list without making sure these desires are on an actuarially sound basis.

Oh, go crowdfund your cancer treatment. I’m sure the market will make the best possible decision as to your actuarial soundness. YOU ARE MAKING AN ARGUMENT FOR DEATH PANELS.

The days of counting on an ever-increasing number of young workers, in high-paying largely manufacturing jobs, to fund seniors’ health care and retirement are over.

Amazing how this seemed to end right around the time the Baby Boom started racking up the bills.

At last, we must recognize, that just as a family needs to be realistic about finances, our federal and state governments must be, too.

Okay, so we’ll take our two unwinnable wars and all our tax cuts and cancel that shit so we can pay for Becky down the street to get a pelvic exam. Why is fucking over poor people always the answer? Why is “a well-child visit for a low-income family” always the hill we gotta die on? We can afford all kinds of stuff. We just hate admitting what we want to afford, so we say we can’t afford it and we get ALL KINDS OF MAD when someone points out that actually, what utter crap.

The people who will relentlessly police the shopping carts of the poor and crab all day about how much soda they buy never really do catch on that government shops pretty shitty, too, and should forgo a few T-bones in favor of paying for chemo. Maybe the government could sell some of its bling.

A.

You Also Can’t Suck

Guys, if you want to have a good news organization, it can’t be bullshit, or be based on bullshit. It’s amazing to you all, I know: 

The company has been unraveling—slowly and spectacularly—for more than a decade now. But this particular moment is a good one for reflecting on how Yahoo’s troubles are likely to be replicated in a wave across the web, and soon, among businesses like news organizations that rely heavily on advertising revenue for their survival.

Print newspapers will continue to fold, but Yahoo’s demise is a signal that web-native companies are next. If you run a business that relies on digital-advertising revenue for an outsized portion of your funding, you need to find new streams of revenue. Now. It may already be too late.

Unless you’re Facebook or Google, that is.

Print newspapers will continue to fold, of course, since they continue to rely on shoving fistfuls of cash up the bungholes of idiot CEOs and clueless consultants and screwing over their paying customers. It has nothing to do with digital ad revenue, which you don’t need a roomful of Yalies to tell you was never going to take the place of the the print ads that aren’t coming back. Learning to live on less than 17 percent profit margins 15 years ago might have saved them, but they didn’t want to do that. Easier to drive those profits into the negative, blame the customers and newsroom, and fuck off to Aruba for a “quarterly meeting.”

This shit will make me angry forever because none of it had to happen.

A.

I Can’t Believe this Garbage Shithouse Organization Housed Shit and Garbage!

Filthy hippies were once derided for cautioning that treating Fox News like a legitimate part of the journalism brotherhood would lead nowhere good, and HOO BOY WHO COULDA KNOWED? 

The letter also includes new allegations of racism in Fox News’s accounting department. According to the plaintiffs’ attorneys, Slater demanded that black employees hold “arm wrestling matches’” with white female employees in her office, just down the hall from Ailes’s office on the 2nd floor of Fox headquarters. “Forcing a black woman employee to ‘fight’ for the amusement and pleasure of her white superiors is horrifying. This highly offensive and humiliating act is reminiscent of Jim Crow era battle royals,” the letter says, referring to the practice of paying black men to fight blindfolded at carnivals for white spectators’ entertainment. The lawyers argue that Efinger bragged about wanting to “fight” a black employee.

It’s almost like there was a culture of the kind of virulent racism that lies under the entire Republican party managed to somehow magically infiltrate the conservative news network! How could that have happened? It surely couldn’t be that building a brand on the back of the resentful white male who conflates “black person who cut me off in traffic while playing ‘raps’ on his stereo” with “all people of color everywhere” could lead to a general contempt for racial minorities that infected every department including accounting, right?

I mean, Jesus, it was like magic, how it managed to be this cesspool of sexist power-worship and racism when that’s all that was on its air, day after day after day after day.

A.

Richard Cohen Finds a Nut

HAHAHA THIS IS ALL SO FUNNY RICHARD COHEN: 

In the past week or so, Donald Trump has decided not to be totally Donald Trump. He has changed his positions on many issues, often by simply contradicting himself and sometimes by repudiating what he once said. However he does it, it comes down to this: If policies were gender identities, Trump wouldn’t know which bathroom to use.

Okay, that makes TOTAL sense, except that transgender people generally do not describe themselves as having made the choice to be trans, whereas Trump has told us at least 49 times that he chose to be an anus.

And … is there not another analogy you’d reach for? In times like these? In the first place, I doubt Trump takes as much time studying policy as anyone takes finding the shitter of their choice. In the second place, just shut up, Richard Cohen, you’re not tall enough to be on this ride.

The column gets dumber.

His foreign policy 180s are welcome, but those were not what won the hearts of his ardent supporters. They wanted something more — jobs, affordable health care and a general sense that Washington would once again be their capital.

I can’t imagine what convinced them Washington WASN’T their capital the past 8 years. Can’t imagine it at all.

During the campaign, he lambasted both Ted Cruz and Hillary Clinton for their relationship with the bank. “I know the guys at Goldman Sachs,” Trump said. “They have total, total control over [Cruz]. Just like they have total control over Hillary Clinton.” Now, though, the total controllers are prominent in the administration — Steven Mnuchin at Treasury and, in the White House itself, Dina Powell, the aforementioned Cohn and even the odd-man-out, Stephen K. Bannon.

This reversal by personnel was not triggered by unforeseen events — Syria’s use of a nerve agent, for instance. It is, instead, a strong indication that Trump’s campaign was a lie. His wooing of the American working class was insincere.

If only someone had warned you about 27 bajillion times, including on national television in some grand fashion. Like with a speech, before a political convention. Then you’d be spared this astonishment.

“Strong indicator.” What was your first clue you weren’t in Kansas anymore, Dorothy? The munchkins or the Technicolor?

Maybe if someone had spent less time before the election looking at that wicked, wicked female and yelling BUT HER E-MAILS AND THE FLU we could have figured out that Trump was a train wreck from day one.

A.

Tiny Paper Wins Sweet Prize, Throws Raging Kegger

There’s nothing about this story I don’t love: 

Art Cullen, the 60-year-old editor of the Storm Lake Times, doesn’t bother with rinky-dink journalism contests. “I don’t need a wooden plaque or a piece of paper,” Cullen told the Erik Wemple Blog on Monday. That’s when he won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing at the twice-weekly Storm Lake Times in Iowa. “They give you 15 grand. That’s worth it,” said Cullen.

So how’s Cullen and Co. spending the money? “We intend to put a jag on, then donate the rest of the money half to IFOIC and other local charities, probably all the other half to Catholic Charities to help resettle refugees in Storm Lake. After the bash, that means IFOIC gets $5 and the refugees get a Big Mac and fries,” writes Cullen in an email.

I have a feeling it’s going to be a bit more than that.

A.

Even For Politico This Is So Gross: Happy Easter!

This isn’t how God works: 

President Donald Trump has increasingly infused references to God into his prepared remarks — calling on God to bless all the world after launching strikes in Syria, asking God to bless the newest Supreme Court Justice, invoking the Lord to argue in favor of a war on opioids.

That … isn’t finding religion. It’s finding a sales pitch.

For, let us be clear, war, war and more war.

“I’ve always felt the need to pray,” Trump said in that late-January interview. “The office is so powerful that you need God even more because your decisions are no longer, ‘Gee I’m going to build a building in New York.’ … These are questions of massive, life-and-death.”

FAITH IS NOT FIRE INSURANCE. You do not get to torch the place and be like, “Well, I prayed about it.” This is why I find so much born-again rhetoric bankrupt. There’s no such thing as a clean slate.

“I believe the weight of the office that he now holds and the burden of responsibility that it carries is humbling him somewhat and causing him to acknowledge and admit his reliance on God,” said Darrell Scott, an Ohio pastor who has known Trump for six years and supported Trump’s campaign and served on his transition team.

FAITH IS ALSO NOT A BOOTY CALL. (Says the girl who frequently Sees Other Deities yet winds up outside church with a boombox over her head every December blaring O Come O Come Emanuel, but I’m me, and not the president, and I’ve never claimed to be anything but a sinner who does not expect forgiveness.)

The White House did not respond to questions about whether Trump has been attending church as president, and if he has, it has been without the knowledge of White House pool reporters.

Still, Trump’s frequent invocations of God in his remarks as of late are a change from both his past life as a businessman and his time on the campaign trail.

So he hasn’t been going to church (which, let’s be fair, no more makes you a Christian than pulling into the garage makes you a car), he’s pursued policies of war and suffering and exclusion (which actually SHOULD disqualify you from from the Flock), but he’s USING MOAR JESUS WORDS HERE ARE A THOUSAND POLITICO ANALYSIS THINGS.

I hate our political journalism right now.

A.

Even the Bald Eagles Have Fucking Had It with Trump

They’ve declared war on us: 

We’re used to seeing our national bird as a valiant hero in nature documentaries plucking salmon from pristine streams, on the back of every dollar bill in our wallets, or on pretty much every federal seal — from the NSA and the CIA to the office of the president. But in Dutch, especially in winter when it’s harder for them to catch fish, you can see eagles for what they really are: hardy, scrappy scavengers.

Turns out that when you live with a federal symbol up close and personal, day in and day out, it’s a little harder to think of them as majestic. Bald eagles show up in the local police blotter alongside reports of drunk fishermen passing out in the wrong bunk or taking off in someone else’s forklift.

My first morning in Dutch I went down to KUCB, the local TV and radio station, to ask people for their eagle stories. Before I’d gone off the air I was getting calls and texts. One man drove straight over to the station in his snowplow to catch me before I’d left the parking lot. Everyone in town has an eagle story, usually more than one.

Sixteen-year-old Ethan Iszler was walking back to school eating a piece of pepperoni pizza when an eagle came, seemingly from nowhere, and stole it right out of his hand.

A.

Everything Is An Enormous Pain in the Ass

It’s not just Obamaphones and poor people’s choice of TVs:

It’s that it takes six calls to the insurance company to get routine drugs approved. It’s that there are fees tacked onto everything for seemingly no reason at all. It’s that when you go on the website to make a doctor’s appointment they tell you to call, and the voicemail auto-answering thing tells you to go on the website and then hangs up on you. It’s that you have to swipe or insert or insert and swipe or WHATEVER to pay for stuff. Change your password to something else, but not that password, because we’re not going to tell you what the password requirements are until you’ve screwed them up.

It’s that there are half as many buses as there used to be, for twice as many people, and they don’t clean them as much so the ride to work every morning is gross. It’s that we’re told at every turn that we can’t have nice things, unless we’re super-rich, so most of us have almost-nice things that break constantly and require a roundabout with four customer service reps until we lose it and start screaming at the company on Twitter.

That’s for those of us who can afford to be on Twitter, have things at all, or be consumed with petty shit. The rest of us are sitting at the bus stop, having gotten up an hour early only to find the bus delayed by 30 minutes because it’s snowing, and the bus doesn’t go to the one ADA-compliant stop on the train so we have to roll the damn chair down the middle of the street in the snow because the city doesn’t shovel as much as it used to. Shortage of funds, you know. Can’t salt the sidewalks. Grrr. It’s doing everything the way you’re told — job, home, family — and life STILL being just this hard.

We transfer that anger at corporate bullshit to politicians, and we should, because they’re the ones allowing companies to charge more for doing less and call in the cops when someone says screw that. They’re the ones allocating resources from one place to another, and somehow where the resources end up is never where we think they’re gonna be, and it’s that their misdeeds are presented as happenstance for which there is no redress. Washington “is broken.” Our system “doesn’t work.”

Not that people made it that way and can unmake it, not that actions and laws and regulations and requirements can be made to protect consumers more than producers, but that it’s all fucked up and bullshit, as the kids say. Easier to turn your back on it in disgust. Easier to walk away.

A.

Wingnut Publisher Now Sad Publishing So Wingnutty

Another wingnut sees money to be made bemoaning the State of Things Today, and another company jumps to pay him money for it: 

During his 30 years in editing, Adam Bellow has handled some of the most controversial and notorious right-wing books of our era, including “The Bell Curve” by Charles Murray and Richard J. Herrnstein, Dinesh D’Souza’s “Illiberal Education” and David Brock’s “The Real Anita Hill.”

But last fall, in the middle of one of the most acrimonious and divisive presidential elections in American history, Mr. Bellow, 60, made a surprising pivot. He left his post as editorial director of Broadside, a conservative imprint at HarperCollins, and started a new imprint at St. Martin’s Press, where he plans to edit authors from across the political spectrum.

As a well-known neoconservative culture warrior, Mr. Bellow is an unlikely emissary for fostering bipartisan dialogue. He’s not softening his views, or renouncing the right-wing polemics he’s edited over the decades, some of which continue to kick up controversy. (Last month, Mr. Murray faced violent protests when he gave a speech at Middlebury College in Vermont.)

Instead, Mr. Bellow said he hoped to bring Democrats and Republicans together — or at least onto the same publishing list. “I saw an opportunity to get myself out of the box that I was in,” he said. “Both sides need to re-examine their assumptions, and I want to sponsor that process.”

Both sides need to re-examine their assumptions, even though I made shitloads of money on one side explicitly NOT examining any assumptions, but hey, at least I admit it!

Mr. Bellow played a role in widening the ideological divisions he now maintains he wants to bridge. At Broadside, which he founded in 2010, he edited partisan books by Donald Rumsfeld and Ted Cruz. He helped fuel the right’s attacks on Hillary Clinton as a corrupt career politician, with works like Daniel Halper’s “Clinton, Inc.” and Peter Schweizer’s “Clinton Cash.”

“I plead guilty,” he said. “If it’s true that our public culture has become overly polarized and people no longer argue in a respectful way with one another, I’m sure I had something to do with that.”

You know, I’m not so much mad at this guy as I am at the people who looked at his schtick and said, “Okay, let’s give him a giant pile of money to buy books with.”

This is the natural consequence of us constantly talking about “partisan politics” and America’s “political polarization” as if the state of us just happened, like the weather, as if we all just woke up one morning batshit crazy and full of rage at poor people’s grocery carts. The people who made us this way get to slither on out of the swamp they created and stocked with piranhas, clucking their tongues at how terrible it is to be here these days.

(See also Sykes, Charlie, and “talk radio is terrible now I’m done making money from wrecking Wisconsin.” I swear, every time some liberal approving retweets that asshole into my timeline I want to make them have holiday arguments with my relatives, who all think Charlie is just the shiznit because he helped bust up those dastardly public employee unions back in ’11. The north remembers, motherfucker.)

We have been sold this, for decades, sold a story of America that has never been remotely true, sold a story of selfishness and resentment and paralysis in the face of need, sold a story of government ineptitude and waste and abuse beginning in the 19goddamn30s when those commies wanted to put on plays with YOUR MONEY. We have been offered, night after night at our dinner tables, a meal of rotting meat and blighted potatoes and when some of us got hungry enough to eat it, NOW comes someone to tell us all it’s time to get healthy again?

Just spare me the paychecks written to these types, when I can throw a rock and hit a dozen writers and editors and publishers who have never been wrong about anything political in the last two decades, who are not morally bankrupt or punishingly stupid, who are working day jobs and night jobs to keep writing because there is no Big Publishing Money for being FUCKING RIGHT THE FIRST TIME AROUND.

If you want a job describing the wreckage these days, it seems you have to have had a hand on the detonator.

A.

Let’s Use Death in Syria to Obsess over Trump’s ‘Character’

For shit’s sake, this nonsense: 

Most of what President Trump has done and said in his brief time in office has bordered on squalid, incompetent or unbalanced. The bold moral clarity of his missile attack against a Syrian air base involved in chemical warfare deepens rather than resolves the mystery of the real character of this president.

He started his campaign calling Mexican immigrants rapists and murderers.

He thinks you can grab women by the pussy.

He wants to ban Muslim refugees from America based on their religion.

He has told you who he is, over and over and over. At this point even the guys from True Detective are like, “I think we have this figured out.”

I suspect that Trump had something like that deterrent effect in mind as he ordered the missile strikes shortly before he sat down with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Palm Beach to discuss the urgent threat to global stability presented by North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. It is much more difficult now for Kim Jong Un — and Xi — to dismiss Trump’s warnings as bluster.

They struck an airfield from which planes were flying again later. Trump spent a year on the trail promising to “bomb the shit” out of anyone who looked at him funny. I think Kim Jong Un and Xi Jinping know exactly what they’re dealing with.

Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson know the Arab, Sunni-led regimes of the Middle East well. Unlike the anti-Muslim activists on Trump’s White House staff, they are well-positioned to fashion a Middle East policy that should recognize and respond to the real dangers that Iran and Syria pose, without letting their Sunni clients’ fears of, and paranoia about, Shiites lead the United States deeper into dangerous quagmires like the civil war in Yemen.

They’re only “well-positioned” in the sense that their offices are physically within shouting distance of Trump. They have the ability to craft a policy … I WOULD FUCKING HOPE SO, given they’re the secretaries of State and Defense. The problem isn’t that Trump had no one to write nice memos. The problem is that the asshole can’t read.

Perhaps Trump will come to see the wisdom in Charles de Gaulle’s adage that nations do not have friends. Instead, they have interests.

Perhaps I’ll suddenly become a DD cup and learn to make soufflés. All things are possible in Christ. More likely, the first time Trump’s asked about Charles de Gaulle, he’ll respond that de Gaulle is doing a splendid job for us and should be recognized for all his hard work, because it’s early days in this presidency and I don’t think they’re that far down in the flash card deck.

In his statement announcing the U.S. retaliatory assault on the airfield from which the chemical attack that killed at least 80 Syrian civilians was launched, Trump characteristically emphasized his personal revulsion and horror at the images of the gas attack.

But he also identified the “vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons.” It is a clear commitment to principle that has been uncommon in his presidency.

And which does not mean dick without massive amounts of follow-up and a consistency that is beyond Trump, demonstrable if you have paid any attention to the candidacy and presidency that currently exists, instead of the one in your head.

A missile strike does not a policy or a worldview make. Giving this spasm of violence real meaning will depend on Trump showing a consistency, discipline and attention to detail that have been foreign to him in two-plus months in office.

He has instead publicly shown a blithe inability to care about the consequences of what he says and does. He has seemed content to say, tweet or do whatever pleases him at the moment, and let others clean up after him.

But presidents, like all humans, are the product of their experiences as well as the creature of the character they bring into office.

I spent 8 years of Bush’s presidency watching the national press try to convince the public that a deeply unintelligent human being would suddenly transform himself into Alexander Hamilton, and 8 years of the Obama administration watching the national press make a middle-of-the-road safe-as-houses moderate into the second coming of Eugene Debs. I didn’t think they had this much fiction still lurking in their souls.

I doubt that Trump will ever be the kind of person that many of us can admire. His blatant disregard for his monumental conflicts of interest — his surrender to greed, in other words — is too great for that. But if he can learn to let people who know what they are about be about it, there may be hope for him yet.

There isn’t any. Give it up. I’ve been saying this from like day three: Save as many as you can, for as long as you can, and fight them til you can’t. Don’t wait for help, don’t look for aid, don’t think anyone’s gonna come. Because if all Trump had to do was send out a few missiles and make a speech without falling on his keys for everybody to sigh with relief that we were “back to normal,” we’re not anywhere near normal at all.

A.

GMIOTM: Armageddon

Great moments in otherwise terrible movies:

A.

Journalism is Unprepared For This Moment

Says journalism: 

It was no secret during the campaign that Donald Trump was a narcissist and a demagogue who used fear and dishonesty to appeal to the worst in American voters. The Times called him unprepared and unsuited for the job he was seeking, and said his election would be a “catastrophe.”

Still, nothing prepared us for the magnitude of this train wreck. Like millions of other Americans, we clung to a slim hope that the new president would turn out to be all noise and bluster, or that the people around him in the White House would act as a check on his worst instincts, or that he would be sobered and transformed by the awesome responsibilities of office.

For shit’s sake. This editorial got approvingly passed around like a new baby on every social network to which I belong all weekend, and while it wasn’t the dumbest thing about my weekend it ranked right up there with a fourth glass of wine before 10 p.m.

You wanted the pivot. Everyone including the woman running against Trump told you there was no pivot, pivot wasn’t coming, pivot is a bullshit self-serving political journalist cowpie anyway, but oh, how you longed. You and yours wanted so badly for this all to be normal, and that wanting is as destructive as any of the falsehoods told by Trump himself.

His obsession with his own fame, wealth and success, his determination to vanquish enemies real and imagined, his craving for adulation — these traits were, of course, at the very heart of his scorched-earth outsider campaign; indeed, some of them helped get him elected. But in a real presidency in which he wields unimaginable power, they are nothing short of disastrous.

In a campaign, unhinged shit is permissible, even admirably effective. As president, you just can’t do what you said you were gonna do! It’s unthinkable! A violation!

Although his policies are, for the most part, variations on classic Republican positions (many of which would have been undertaken by a President Ted Cruz or a President Marco Rubio), they become far more dangerous in the hands of this imprudent and erratic man.

Right. If he moved slowly and deliberately with regard to his racism and sexism and xenophobia we could justify it as just another point of view, the equal opposite of those filthy hippies who in similarly deranged fashion wish to teach people to read and cure diseases.

On Inauguration Day, we wrote on this page that it was not yet time to declare a state of “wholesale panic” or to call for blanket “non-cooperation” with the Trump administration. Despite plenty of dispiriting signals, that is still our view.

Signals. That’s what ICE raids on churches and two separate executive orders banning Muslim travelers are, to the LA Times. Signals. And not even very strong ones, such as would call for “blanket ‘non-cooperation’.” Maybe there are still some tax cuts for the rich at the expense of schoolteachers that the Times and Trump can get together on!

I mean, it’s not like there’s NO HOPE. America is resilient!

This nation survived Andrew Jackson […]

The Choctaw, Chickasaw, Seminole, Creek and Cherokee nations, not so much.

and Richard Nixon.

Twenty-one thousand Americans in Vietnam would like a word.

It survived slavery.

To think all it took was a civil war that in about a third of the country is still going on. Man, do we bounce back or what?

It survived devastating wars. Most likely, it will survive again.

But if it is to do so, those who oppose the new president’s reckless and heartless agenda must make their voices heard. Protesters must raise their banners. Voters must turn out for elections.

THREE MILLION MORE OF US turned out for Hillary Clinton, and protestors have been “raising their banners” for months now. Don’t sit on your ass and lecture us.

Members of Congress — including and especially Republicans — must find the political courage to stand up to Trump.

The only reason I laugh is that screaming just makes the headaches worse.

State legislators must pass laws to protect their citizens and their policies from federal meddling.

State legislators can’t rename a post office without falling on their keys, but you keep hoping somebody will save you.

The United States is not a perfect country, and it has a great distance to go before it fully achieves its goals of liberty and equality. But preserving what works and defending the rules and values on which democracy depends are a shared responsibility. Everybody has a role to play in this drama.

It’s not a play, shitsacks. And correct me if I’m wrong but it ain’t the opposition to Trump has needed this kind of call to battle, so spare me AUX ARMES, AUX BARRICADES while young women, women of color, minorities everywhere have been organizing against this kind of thing for decades.

Everybody has a role to play in this drama. It’s fucking Act SIX, and you show up with your lines barely memorized and want to play Henry V? Get back in the chorus where you belong.

A.

GMIOTM: Inaugural Post

As with most things that get posted by me on this site, this feature came out of a conversation Jude and I had while we were avoiding other work. I present to you the very first installment of GREAT MOMENTS IN OTHERWISE TERRIBLE MOVIES:

This movie is so devoid of attention to detail that the dialogue is nearly drowned out by the armor clickety-clacking, like your SOUND MIXING is what is fucking up the experience. Some of that is the age of the thing but also muffle the goddamn joints. Yet … that line is a keeper.

A.

Fuck Penn State and All Its Works

There’s no proof of the thing we’re only talking about because there was TONS OF PROOF: 

Penn State trustee Albert L. Lord said he is “running out of sympathy” for the “so-called” victims of former Nittany Lions assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, according to an email sent to The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Lord, a former CEO of student loan company Sallie Mae, also defended Graham Spanier, the dismissed Penn State president who was convicted of one count of child endangerment last week for his handling of complaints about Sandusky.

“Running out of sympathy for 35 yr old, so-called victims with 7 digit net worth,” Lord said in the email sent Saturday. “Do not understand why they were so prominent in trial. As you learned, Graham Spanier never knew Sandusky abused anyone.”

Do you know how hard it is to prove criminal negligence? A career prosecutor I knew explained it to me once, fed up with my bitching that he should be throwing every rape-enabling bishop in jail. You basically have to have a letter signed by the person in charge saying we acknowledge the criminal in question was raping kids, we knew there was a likely chance he’d rape more kids if we did nothing, and we just didn’t care that much.

WHICH IS WHAT GRAHAM SPANIER WROTE: 

The emails were between then-PSU Prez Graham Spanier and two other officials who already are charged with perjury in the case, former athletic Tim Curley and former senior VP Gary Schultz.

NBC reported the PSU brass decided it would be “humane” not to tell law enforcement about a 2001 incident involving Sandusky’s alleged sexual abuse of a boy in a football locker room shower.

Actual convictions on charges like this are incredibly rare. You have to be incredibly bad at incredibly awful things for people to forgo the usual “well, I don’t know how I would have acted in that case if it was my friend” bullshit and head straight to “Oh my GOD, what were you thinking?” This is like seeing a fire start, realizing it’s going to burn down your house, shrugging and going out for 10-cent-wing night.

And this trustee jackhole doesn’t have sympathy? Good thing that’s not now the legal system works. Your sympathy doesn’t mean jack shit, you ambulatory butthole. The law don’t care. The law says KIDS WHO GOT RAPED come before clueless fucks like you every time.

A.

All Of This Has Happened Before

Guys, I know it’s fashionable to pretend this is a New Moment for American Journalism, but check it: 

It was already widely believed in the South that black men had been brazenly stockpiling ice picks, pistols, rifles and explosives in anticipation of a larger race riot. With millions of white men now serving in the armed forces and stationed away from their families, the story went, white communities were vulnerable to an impending assault. When that day came, black women—many of whom worked in domestic service—intended to force their white employers to cook and clean for them. “Eleanor Clubs are stirring up trouble that never should have arisen,” a white North Carolinian observed with worry. “Clubs are making the Negroes discontented, making them question their status.”

A.

Everything Doesn’t Suck: Photography as Resistance

A great story: 

For Johnson, the still image and social justice go hand-in-hand: She wants to highlight the joy, power, and humanity of marginalized communities that are often overlooked or outright demonized by popular media. Through her tender images of everyday life, Johnson is systematically shattering preconceived notions about Englewood, and in their wake she offers outsiders — as well as the community itself — “a more accurate and artistically beautiful reflection of themselves” than is ever depicted.

A.

Don’t Let Them Come Back From This AGAIN

You guys, I am enjoying, so much, the humiliation of Donald Trump and Paul Ryan, the jackass Trump rented to run Congress for him so he could play president.

I should be a bigger person, but THEY TRIED TO LET INSURANCE COMPANIES OUT OF COVERING NEWBORN BABIES, so I’m gonna keep laughing for a few more days and I don’t really care if it gives some imaginary non-racist non-sexist Trump voter who just wants a job a sad.

But as I point and laugh at President Failstick and as I give all due credit to the Democratic voters who jammed phone lines and went to town halls and hounded Republican stooges who hadn’t heard from their constituents in months, I get angrier and angrier, because they never should have been allowed to get this far.

We keep letting them off the mat.

We keep letting them be a party. They pull shit, over and over, as should disqualify them from polite society, and we keep pretending they simply have a different point of view.

The GOP started an illegal war that killed thousands, based on nothing but lies, and we said we need to look forward, not back.

The GOP instituted a regime of torture and spying and we said bygones.

The GOP led a festering mass of racists as they burned Obama in effigy for being a black man. They invited the people who made Trump into their homes, and gave them space in their elite conservative publications.

Their conventioneers put Purple Heart Band-Aids on their faces to mock a war hero. Their advertising vultures morphed a triple amputee into Osama bin Laden. Their commentators said journalists deserved to be raped and murdered.

The president who led their party during this time — a man currently described as a very nice fellow who paints quite well — refused to meet with the mother of a dead soldier because she questioned his war, ignored an American city as it drowned, presided over the worst financial crisis in almost a century, and ignored intelligence briefings that might have warned him about 9/11.

This is just the stuff in recent memory, for the GOP. This isn’t even getting into Ronald Reagan and AIDS, Iran-Contra, Watergate, any of the shady shit the first Bush pulled at the CIA, any of it. This isn’t even mentioning the impeachment charges over a blowjob, the hit pieces they put out on a 15-year-old First Daughter, anything they did to Jimmy Carter. This is just THE LAST GOP PRESIDENT.

After all that, we let them be a party again. For eight goddamn years they howled and screeched that a free-market capitalist moderate, who would have been a member of their party in a less racist Eisenhower era, was a screaming pinko commie crackhead. For eight years, they courted every crazy they could in an effort to ruin anything Obama accomplished.

For eight years, they promised that they would repeal Obamacare. THEY SHUT DOWN THE GOVERNMENT, and they were given airtime and column inches and treated, again, like just another opposing point of view. Like we had two parties with sensible disagreements, because Both Sides Did It, and We Can’t Be Bothered With Details.

Then they ran Donald Trump for president, and he grabbed America by the pussy, and they pretended not to see. They pretended they were better than the serial sexual predator and deeply unintelligent person they nominated, whose convention they ignored. They clung to his voters and they pretended he didn’t exist as he moved into the Oval Office.

Like he’s doing his thing, and we’re doing ours. And once AGAIN, America said okay, let’s listen to you. So what is your thing?

Kicking newborn babies off their health insurance.

That’s their thing.

Joking about mammograms.

That’s their thing.

Telling cancer patients to go to the ER.

That’s their thing.

They put out a bill so breathtakingly cruel even Republican voters were like goddamn, son. Do you know what you have to do to shock a mainstream white suburban Republican? You have to propose eliminating a minimum standard of care, that’s what you have to do.

We let them up again after this, where the hell do they even GO? I mean it, what do they even do from here? Their president wants to eliminate Meals on Wheels while carpet-bombing the Middle East and giving tax cuts to billionaires. We haven’t even talked about Russia.

What more do they need to do? At this point it would be a fucking thought experiment, if actual lives weren’t at stake: What does it take to destroy a modern political party? A year ago I would have said one’s presidential nominee being caught on tape bragging about sexual assault would do it, but here we are. Ten years ago I would have said the Iraq war being proven bullshit would have done it, or getting caught up in Planned Parenthood hoax videos, or paying lip service to someone who thinks Sandy Hook was a fake. Here we are.

How much farther does the GOP have to fall to prove it’s not a party anymore? To prove it’s not a set of ideals?

Should I check back in a year, when we’ve sold the nuclear codes on Ebay for 50 bucks? Is that what’s next? Fucking hell, how many times do they have to tell us what they are before we believe them?

A.

Stop Pretending We Ain’t Seen This Before

Of the many tired arguments that this is a New Era to which Journalism Must Respond (most likely by cutting newsroom jobs and reducing distribution), FAKE NEWS is maybe my least favorite: 

The production of fake, semi-false, and true but compromising snippets of news reached a peak in eighteenth-century London, when newspapers began to circulate among a broad public. In 1788, London had ten dailies, eight tri-weeklies, and nine weekly newspapers, and their stories usually consisted of only a paragraph. “Paragraph men” picked up gossip in coffee houses, scribbled a few sentences on a scrap of paper, and turned in the text to printer-publishers, who often set it in the next available space of a column of type on a composing stone. Some paragraph men received payment; some contented themselves with manipulating public opinion for or against a public figure, a play, or a book.

But … but … you mean to say satirical and/or politically motivated AND/OR just plain bullshit publications have always existed and maybe a bunch of Macedonian teenagers are not responsible for the stupid-ing of America forever? You mean maybe critical thinking skills and the nurturing thereof might be more important than the blaming of Facebook? YA DON’T FUCKIN’ SAY.

A.

Your Secretary of State

I am sicker about this man sitting in Kerry’s chair than I am about Trump at the Resolute desk, guys: 

Perhaps, by breaking with a half-century of past practice and flying off without the regular State Department correspondents on board, Mr. Tillerson was hoping to continue to operate in a style that worked well for him as chief executive of Exxon Mobil. In that job, he could negotiate complex oil and gas deals behind closed doors and then inform his board of directors and shareholders afterward.

A reminder of the man who occupied that office just previous:

I mean good God: 

Tam told Kerry the Viet Cong could hear the Swift boats coming from 3,000 feet away, and he gently suggested the lumbering Americans never stood a chance.

“We were guerrillas,” he said. “We were never where you were shooting.”

“I’m glad we’re both alive,” Kerry told him as they shook hands, each putting two hands into the gesture.

Good. God.

A.

Margaret Sullivan Did Not Come to Play with You Hos

Press hos, specifically: 

With this uplifting example, I inaugurate an occasional feature: Access Watch, tracking the special treatment — phone calls, interviews, perhaps the lone press seat on the secretary of state’s plane — that can result when media people play nice.

True, it is not the proper job of journalists to provide favorable coverage but rather to hold powerful figures accountable.

But that doesn’t get you far these days, at least in terms of access.

So we’ll be taking note of what does.

I wanted to pull this bit out, because it’s telling:

Marantz quotes a more veteran journalist about the newcomers: “At best, they don’t know what they’re doing. At worst, you wonder whether someone is actually feeding them softball questions.”

Really? You wonder if someone is feeding them softball questions? Like what, something like this? 

Mr. President, as the nation is at odds over war, with many organizations like the Congressional Black Caucus pushing for continued diplomacy through the U.N., how is your faith guiding you? And what should you tell America? Well, what should America do collectively as you instructed before 9/11? Should it be pray?

Mr. President, how is your faith guiding you to attack Iraq and how can Americans be your prayer warriors? What parts of the Bible are you reading to guide your decisions about bombing Baghdad and is there a Psalm you’d recommend we keep in mind to ease our thoughts of murdered children?

Jesus shit, nobody has to feed these people softball questions. Their natural inclination in good times is to spend the day complaining that some blogger has their favorite chair, and this year they’re mostly pissed because the correspondents’ dinner won’t be fun anymore. They’d rather be covering something NORMAL, and this is all just such a damn bummer, man, with the unhinged fascism.

They gasp when someone has the nerve to ask the president what every single one of us is thinking, which is “… dude, the fuck?”

I watched video of that moment and she could not have been more polite in asking why America was suddenly a xenophobic trash fire in public and if extortion was really the way we wanted to go with NATO, and the gasps were audible.

But sure, the real danger is that somebody is giving Breitbart a heads-up about which Fox chyron pissed the president off this morning.

A.