Author Archives: Allison Hantschel

An Apology for the Truth

Fucking fuck Politico and their fucking bullshit priorities: 

Obama aides lash out after Trump claims past presidents didn’t call fallen soldiers’ families

Sure. Obama aides are “lashing out.” That’s what’s notable here. Their “strong response.” An expletive, even! Not what Trump said, which for the record was this:

“So the traditional way, if you look at President Obama and other presidents, most of them didn’t make calls,” Trump alleged. “A lot of them didn’t make calls. I like to call when it’s appropriate, when I think I’m able to do it.”

But it’s Obama’s aides, who no doubt had to watch or listen or assist while he made those calls on the phone and in person, whose words come up for auditing.

Say what you like about Obama — I have no doubt drone-bombed Pakistani schoolchildren would say many things — but he cared about American lives and believed in adhering to the rules of civilized society. Perhaps to a fault.

With Trump, yet again we see journalism unable to handle a sociopath being a sociopath when he does it behind a nice white mask in a nice blue suit. The president said it, behind the presidential seal, so how can he be a monster? How can the words be what the words were, a self-aggrandizing and cruel attempt to run down the man in office before him, regardless of the cost to others. No, better to make this about what Obama’s aides said in response, lest the actual breathtakingly awful facts intrude.

Schmucks.

A.

I Swear to God We Need You Here

Okay, I’m done with it, Internet.

I’m done yelling at people for promoting their books or celebrating their anniversaries while the world burns.

I’m done telling people to speak up against the regime, against supremacy, against powerlessness, and then shitting on how they do it.

I’m done auditing the marches and critiquing the protests and I’m done judging us for taking a break.

I am done. There is a pool of water in my basement and Kick’s on a sleep strike and writer’s block, turns out, is just what happens when you look at your deadlines and your calendar and cannot FATHOM why you said yes so much. The entire world is on fucking fire and I can’t get angry at how you’re surviving anymore. I don’t have the energy.

Should we all be wearing suits and ties to the marches instead of pussy hats? Should we go to a different protest every night or all make one big protest or are protests over or I don’t give a fuck anymore. Should you post “me too” to identify sexual harassment or assault, or refuse to post “me too” because nobody deserves your story? I turned off Twitter on Friday because it seemed like something I could do and I’m not sorry. You shouldn’t be sorry, either, if you stuck around. Is there a right way to do this? I don’t care anymore. I only care that you are doing this.

None of us, none of us who are in this fight, should be sorry for how we’re fighting. 

It’s redundant, anyway, to be constantly proclaiming this or that action is insufficient. All actions are insufficient. HAVE YOU SEEN THIS SHIT TODAY? (You don’t even have to know what shit I’m referring to; it’s a day ending in Y so there is some truly outrageous bullshit going down for somebody.) Nothing any of us can do is enough, nor will it ever be enough.

I heard all this bellyaching and bitching in Wisconsin after Act 10, that the protests backfired, that truckers should have gone on strike, that a recall was a bad idea, that fighting for public unions was dumb, that people should have done this that or the other thing and all any of that Wednesday Morning Campaign Managing did was piss off people who put their goddamn bodies on the line. We can argue strategy just like we do after every single loss but can we please stop the carping and the throwing ourselves on the ground all THIS IS BETTER THAN A PROTEST? There’s never gonna be a perfect way to do this.

I went out Saturday night in the torrential rain to listen to music in a tiny dark bar with about 50 other people, every last one yelling along with the last line of this song:

Most of the time I am just breathless with admiration at anyone who can be that alive, right now especially.

You should dance if that’s how you fight back. You should sing if that’s how you fight back. You should march if that’s how you fight back. You should write if that’s how you fight back. You should get up every day and go to work and try to be a decent human being if that’s how you fight back, and you should be angry and joyous and celebratory and mournful. You should check out occasionally. You should never check out. You should feel yourself a part of the life in this godforsaken place whether you’re shouting from the rooftops or whispering in the dark. You should sing to your gods with whatever voice you have. You should use your silences to speak. You should never be silent.

The only thing that’s enough is if everybody is enough. I’m done being angry with people for being alive in this, however they have to be alive. Know that nothing is wasted. Know you’re enough.

A.

They Won’t Even Hear It

Keep letting this shit happen and it doesn’t matter what the Democratic message is or who we nominate: 

I worry that as we focus on Russian bots on Twitter influencing elections, we’re ignoring a bigger threat to democracy and the political process right here at home: the proposed merger of Sinclair Broadcast Group with Tribune Media Company. I have learned, sometimes the hard way, that in politics, little things can become big things. The unexpected can become the undoing before you know it, and truth trails behind. In 2000, it didn’t matter Al Gore never actually said that he invented the internet. People came to believe he did. It became a character distorting meme. Impressions are created at a digital pace in politics, often when you’re busy fighting the daily fires of rapid response and feeding the beast of today’s message and tomorrow’s news cycle.

So just think what a Sinclair takeover of local television news could do to the American political process. Democratic voters know not to take anything they see on Fox News without a giant grain of salt. But imagine what happens if your local news broadcasts are hijacked by partisan messages, even subtle acts of political sabotage. It would be handing Donald Trump the ultimate weapon of mass distortion, and with it the power to help choose Democratic nominees and mortally wound electable candidates before they even get out of the gate.

I’m not bashing the idea of partisan media (blogger, mock thyself) but once upon a time we had MORE media, period. You had your local party newsletter but you also had a couple of local papers and the radio station and nobody felt like they had to chase whatever came out of the wingnut puke funnel.

Traditional nonpartisan news should never have let Fox in the door. Maybe it would have happened anyway, with the amount of money being thrown around, but I can’t help thinking legitimizing Fox, going on the defensive, bending over backwards to display some kind of false-equivalence-masquerading objectivity and give Republicans’ hurt fee-fees every consideration hastened the decline. As did stupidity, laziness and greed.

Now we have academic panels on Facebook and fake news that are just as dumb as the academic panels on blogger ethics and Who Is A Real Journalist On the Internet, and it’s monumentally frustrating because we’re still looking at the wrong things. Where is the MONEY? Where does it come from? Where does it go? And most of all, who benefits?

You look at who’s benefitted from the consolidation and right-wing purchasing sprees of the past 20 years — it ain’t the public and it sure as shit isn’t liberals. It’s Republicans, and the farthest right of the Republicans at that, to the detriment of public understanding, civil discourse, and even Republican voters themselves. That should be a bigger story than Russian Twitter bots, or somebody saying fuck online.

A.

None of It Matters

Are we done psychoanalyzing him yet? 

Trump also received acclaim for his recent criticism of NFL players who have knelt during the national anthem to protest what they see as racial injustice in the country. He got another standing ovation when he proclaimed that “we respect our great American flag.”

Bill Bennett, a conservative radio host and former secretary of education under Ronald Reagan, followed Trump and suggested that many of the NFL players were kneeling because they “don’t know any better” and don’t know enough about the country’s history and reverence for the flag.

How’s the “Your Racist Asshole Relative” Administration going so far? How y’all feel? I mean, we’re about to go to war with the ENTIRE axis of evil all at once, everybody’s health care just got fucked, Congress can’t find its ass with both hands, Puerto Rico still has no electricity and I kid you not, Headass Neon Chicken forgot the U.S. Virgin Islands are in the U.S., but is everybody happy with the Fox News comments section? Because that seems to be the only consistent through-line in this presidency.

A.

Fight The Fights You’re Gonna Lose

God almighty, pull it together: 

Right now, for example, if you can believe it, the Democratic National Committee seems to be slightly baffled about what to do as regards the race for the open U.S. Senate seat in Alabama. The Democratic candidate is Douglas Jones, the former U.S. Attorney who sent to prison the last of the terrorists who bombed the 16th Street Baptist Church in 1963. The Republican candidate is a lawless theocratic nutball named Roy Moore, who lost his job as chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court twice because of flagrant judicial misconduct.

It would seem to the casual observer that people generally should realize it to be their patriotic duty to keep Moore out of the Senate for the good of the country. However, as reported by The Daily Beast, the Democratic Party apparatus can’t even decide if it should go all in for Jones.

Come at us all “winnable districts” and saving your powder. Let me ask you geniuses how you think the presidential election might have gone differently in Wisconsin if you’d fought Scott Walker like you meant it up there. So far all you’ve got to show for all your powder-saving is a giant pile of dry powder. So sit on that and sneeze.

How on earth do any of you expect people to believe you’ve got their backs if you won’t at least try to save them from Roy Moore, of all possible creatures? How are they supposed to buy what you’re selling when you’re out there worrying about whether they’re even worth making your pitch? When you don’t even TRY?

Some fights you fight not because you deserve to win them but because you’d be better off, for the sake of your immortal soul, fighting them and losing hard. At a certain point you have to be able to get up in the morning.

Donate to Doug Jones. It’s a waste of money, you say? Forget it, Jake, it’s Alabama? WELL DON’T YOU SOUND SMART. While you’re doing that, me and mine will serve the Lord, motherfucker.

A.

Selfish Bias Towards the Status Quo is Not Neutrality

I love it when a headline invites the interview subject to fuck himself: 

Chuck Todd Thinks It’s Important to Stay Neutral

We all have needs, I guess? People in Puerto Rico think it’s important to have electricity. Flint wants clean drinking water. The North Korean people are anxious that our president not start a nuclear war since they’ll all die. But you do you, Chuckles.

In politics, 90 percent of the disagreements are about policy or ideological point of view.

Yet you’re a fucking fashion blogger who thinks it’s a major issue that Hillary Clinton sounded ready to be president. The 10 percent of disagreements that are not about policy, why do you devote 90 percent of your show to them?

This whole interview with Chuck is just an excuse to let him drop this steaming turd:

Do you think you did a good job covering the events of 2016? I’m going to give you a Donald Rumsfeld answer: You cover the campaign that’s in front of you. You don’t get to cover the campaign you want. There are always lessons to be learned, and look, it’ll impact what happens next. Someday, we’ll say that somebody would’ve never been elected had 2016 not happened, right? Barack Obama might not have become president if Hillary Clinton had run in 2004. If Katherine Harris didn’t ever run for secretary of state in 1998, and the Democrat ends up winning that race against a scandal-ridden Republican incumbent at the time, whom Harris beat in the primary, so the Democrats control the certification process in Florida in 2000 — who knows what happens? That’s what I love about politics: that butterfly effect. We don’t try to erase a result; we just move on from it and build from it.

People are dying, you solipsistic prick. People are dying and being deported and every six weeks we need to scream at Congress not to take away our shitty health insurance. An economy that wasn’t really all that great is about to get really, really bad and there will be no help. Everyone in the White House is engaged in actively denying the president’s oncoming dementia, plus even when he’s with it, he’s a racist sexist old asshole.

Oh, and nobody’s asking you to erase the result. You don’t get to do that. This soulless butthole, he will be the 45th president of the United States forever, and you’re dumb but you’re not dumb-dumb, Chuck, you know that. You know that if you call a reasonable request to consider whether the old way of doing things is inadequate a request to nullify the election you get to call your critics unhinged and act like you’re somehow above it all.

Which pose wouldn’t offend me so much if you WEREN’T above it all. You’re not risking a damn thing going out there every Sunday reinforcing the view that Democrats are in disarray and Republicans are basically good and people of color/women always need to prove themselves twice as much and the world is basically the same as it was 20 years ago when we were all in school. You’re not gonna miss a meal because that’s all bullshit, so you go on, pretend there’s something noble in it.

FFS, this is what we think of in the journalism world as smart. This is who we elevate and parade around to our J-schools as some kind of celebrity speaker. This is who we teach the next generation of reporters to emulate. This is what we say has value in the world, this bullshit bias toward the status quo.

BTW, quoting Donald Rumsfeld, who should be in chains in the Hague, like it’s fucking cute is an example of the problem here. Donald Rumsfeld and the Iraq War are not neutral. Were not neutral. Were never neutral but that tells you a lot about where Chuck and his posse think the north-south dividing line really is.

It’s all a big ironic joke to them, and they mistake that for neutrality, and they mistake neutrality for virtue, and they think they’re gonna get out of this alive. Meanwhile Trump calls them the enemy of the American people and they profess shock and dismay at how we got to that point. Next on Meet the Press, Ann Coulter! Is she just a “misunderstood goddess” or what? 

A.

‘Fake News’ Didn’t Do Anything To You

Rich Republicans did: 

The same qualities that bind the townspeople together can, in turn, be alienating to newcomers. The refugee community has begun to experience this effect as its demographic makeup has changed. Over the past decade and a half, as conflict spread across North Africa and the Middle East, Twin Falls started to resettle larger numbers of refugees with darker skin who follow an unfamiliar religion — two things that make it difficult to blend into a town that is 80 percent white.

On a national scale, an ascendant network of anti-Muslim activists and provocateurs has exploited the fears brought on by these changes, finding a platform and a receptive audience online. The narrative they espouse — on blogs with names like Jihad Watch — is that America, currently 1 percent Muslim, is in the midst of an Islamic invasion. Central to the worldview of these bloggers, some of whom have celebrity-size social-media followings, is that Muslims have a propensity toward sexual violence. They seize on any news item that bolsters this notion.

This piece made the rounds and the framing of it makes me insane. This shit isn’t the fault of Facebook (though that company is on top of the Not Helping list right now) and it’s not the fault of the Internet. It’s the fault of rich asshole Republicans who used Facebook and the Internet to spew the same anti-Islam haterade they’ve been pumping out since the Iran hostage crisis to the detriment of literally everyone on earth.

This story delves into what happens when a town believes a bunch of bullshit instead of their generally reasonable authorities, but doesn’t once mention the funders of that bullshit: 

A similarly funded and probably even more conservative nonprofit, Young America’s Foundation, works to direct “public education on the ideas of individual freedom, a strong national defense, free enterprise [and] traditional values and leadership,” according to its most recent publicly available tax form. YAF spent roughly half of its 2015 budget of $17.7 million on conference and lecture programs including “lectures on college campuses” and student chapters.

[snip]

A similarly funded and probably even more conservative nonprofit, Young America’s Foundation, works to direct “public education on the ideas of individual freedom, a strong national defense, free enterprise [and] traditional values and leadership,” according to its most recent publicly available tax form. YAF spent roughly half of its 2015 budget of $17.7 million on conference and lecture programs including “lectures on college campuses” and student chapters.

I’m getting real damn tired of looking at the landscape of “fake news” and inciteful social media movements and shaking our heads like it’s just all so terrible and sad when we never even once acknowledge that A POLITICAL MOVEMENT DID THIS FOR ITS OWN GAIN. They did this on purpose and they paid for it, and they’re not even all that secretive about it:

The Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation is by far the biggest donor to YAF, and the Donors Capital Fund and its affiliate, Donors Trust, are also big contributors. The Bradley Foundation, three Koch family foundations and a foundation of the wealthy Mercer family have also given large donations.

It’s almost like nothing happens in the world without somebody getting paid so maybe instead of pretending this is just the world we live in now and it’s too bad — the optimist who jumped off a building, saying “so far, so good” every floor down — we start exploring where the money goes.

Or — AND THIS IS A CRAZY IDEA — using our own to build something that works like this, but isn’t terrible, and serves the ends of community and strength instead of hate and fear and greed.

A.

The Kids Will Save Themselves

Good kids: 

When I joined the March on Milwaukee 50th Anniversary Coordinating Committee in June of 2016, I had no idea learning at the feet of the elders meant I would become a privileged keeper of both their stories and, in some ways, their failed dreams. Over the course of learning about the history of the marches, I and the other “young” (i.e., those born after 1968) members of the coordinating committee have had a chance to experience what historian Manning Marable referred to “living Black history,” to place Black historical narratives at the center and to, consequently, see how these histories can and have shaped the course of Milwaukee’s past, present and future.

Witnessing the living Black history of the original marchers has often meant learning details about the marches from original marchers and coordinating committee members, such as NAACP Youth Commandos Prentice McKinney and Fred Reed, NAACP Youth Council member Dr. Shirley Butler and Dr. Margaret “Peggy” Rozga, who married Father Groppi after he left the priesthood. I learned some of the marchers, like current Wisconsin Congresswoman Gwen Moore, snuck out of their bedroom windows in order to participate in the movement. Or that my own husband’s grandmother, Juanita Adams, who marched for fair housing and the desegregation of Milwaukee Schools while six months pregnant, pushed her body against the pouring spout of a cement truck to prevent the building of a segregated school.

 

A.

Stop Fighting To Win. Fight to Fight.

I’ve been seeing this stupid quote everywhere and it never fails to make me want to put my fist through something:

No. No no no no no. Just no. Stop it. Stop that sickness.

I woke up same as you all yesterday morning, just as I woke up in November and again in January, crushed and tired and sick in my soul at the preventable tragedy that strikes on a daily basis around this country due to a curdling fear too deep to name.

And in response to passionate entreaties to change, I saw this stupid goddamn monstrous tweet all over the place.

You think that’s some kind of profound statement? You think that makes you sound wise? You think that makes it okay to go to brunch, or turn off the news, or go numb? Fuck all the way off with that ironic detachment and smarter-than-thou condescension and laziness dressed up as superior knowledge.

What is wrong with you? Killing children is not acceptable. Not at Sandy Hook. Not the next neighborhood over. Not with guns and not with knives and not with economics. It’s not acceptable to me and it never will be so nothing’s over, not now and not ever.

But but Republicans, and the NRA, and money, and guns, and the culture, and the laws, and the political climate and the red-blue maps and the gerrymandering and it’s all too goddamn much, right? From a practical standpoint there’s no way any other vision of America at this point can come to pass.

How many times a day do we hear this from others? How many goddamn times do we hear it from ourselves? Roy Moore is gonna be the next senator from Alabama and Democrats are going to be crushed everywhere for all time and the Supreme Court is lost for a generation and Donald Trump might actually get re-elected and fake news and Russian bots and drone bombings and nuclear war and and and and STOP. Just stop.

It’s tempting, when you’ve spent your life fighting for something that is so vital, to hunger for victory. To want, just once, to strut across the finish line. To feel you’ve accomplished something, to feel you have something to show. To put an end point on something that’s neverending. You want to say, “I did this” and know your time was well spent.

You want to avoid getting your heart broken, too. You want to create some scenario in which losing is not a devastation, so you spout this cynical crap and you think it’s wisdom.

But you aren’t going to get what you want, not now and not ever. Every single magnificent thing that has ever happened here has been called impossible. Every single unlikely victory in the face of insurmountable odds has been unlikely because the odds were insurmountable. And you will not feel one iota better by pretending to be smarter than everyone else in the room, you goddamn narcissists. I swear, if the parents who lost children at Sandy Hook can get up to fight, how dare we say anything’s over?

 

 

I re-read Trinity every year, almost, and I went back to it last evening, thinking about Doug Jones and that infuriating tweet and how every day brings some new piece of bullshit to the surface, because I needed this:

All we can ever hope for is a glorious defeat. A defeat that may somehow stir the dormant ashes of our people into a series of more glorious defeats. Every man in the Brotherhood must defy, scream, kick, die hard, bloody, shake consciences. You see, the true job of the Brotherhood is not to expand to win but to sharpen its teeth to die hard. 

Call your reps. Vote every Republican out, every one, from the township on up to the capital, and shout and protest and donate and raise your damn voice every second you can. What you think should be enough might not be, shameful though that is. But to say it’s over because we haven’t won is more shameful still.

You reading this?

You looking at the world, you’re not happy, you want different?

You breathing? You alive?

Then it’s not over. Not for gun control, not for the courts, not for Puerto Rico, not for lead, not for police killings, not for war, not for poverty, not for anything you give a shit about. Not for you and yours. Not for the wide world. This country is drowning, fighting, bleeding, dying, and being reborn every second and there’s no way out of this that doesn’t kill you, so in the meantime, keep fighting like there’s nothing but the fight.

A.

Doesn’t Matter Where Your Heart Is

Just stop it:

This is why I keep yelling about money. The money behind Free Speech Week, the money behind Fake News, the money behind the NFL and how none of this “unity” bullshit matters until Kaepernick has his job back.

We keep acting like “racist” is an insult instead of an adjective, like it’s something you can be or not be, like it’s not actions. Like it’s feelings. Look, I personally hate a lot of people but I don’t go around punching them in the face. Likewise, I like a lot of people but if I treat them like shit my inner child’s moods don’t really matters that much.

It’s why the “black friends” thing is so laughable. I can have black friends and still speak disparagingly of the predominantly African-American neighborhood next street over as a “ghetto” and airily declare that your schools are the best with no understanding of the history of redlining or its residual effects.

People keep acting like Trump’s imaginary good character is this thing that will excuse his bullshit, and it’s not. You COULD conceivably be a horrible person and a good president; JFK was much better at his job than he was at being a husband, for example, as was a certain male Clinton of our passing acquaintance. Plenty of people who are good at their jobs are assholes.

But Trump is a horrible president (in addition to being a lousy human being), which is the job we’ve actually hired him for. You don’t have to hate an individual brown person to be a racist. You just have to, say, let an entire island of them die and then characterize their requests for federal aid as demands for a handout.

A.

Delivering On His Promises

He pretty much is giving these people exactly what they want. Don’t you think?

Trump promised to remake America in the image of its national memories, the ones that get hauled out around the holidays and passed from cousin to cousin. The ones with sepia tones and well-thumbed edges that obscure all the complications. He promised rich white people they wouldn’t have to think, as they’ve been forced to since the world flattened out, about anyone who wasn’t lucky enough to live like them. He promised those same rich and middle-class white people they could forget about the world again, think of themselves only, and speak as though they were the only ones in the room.

Look at that list. Half of it is just conversations they don’t want to have. They don’t want real problems solved. They want to feel better. He’s making them feel better.

Which wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if real shit wasn’t going on. If Trump was just Bizarro World Mr. Rogers, who comforted the white assholes who watched him nightly as he spewed conspiracies and victimization, yeah that would be awful but it wouldn’t be a crisis.

What’s going on now is a crisis. Trump goes on a Twitter tirade about Puerto Ricans being selfish and ungrateful as they ask to, you know, NOT DIE if possible, that’s not just some celebrity. He’s out there explicitly making it okay not to care about people because, I dunno what the wingnut orthodoxy here is, something something handouts?

And so his followers go and find a reason to make it okay not to give a shit, like, something something unions, because that’s all they need in their minds to make the problem go away.

He’s doing the job he got elected to do. He’s giving them permission to not give a damn. If only we’d thought of that.

A.

Our Fate is Your Fate

They’re letting Puerto Rico die: 

Four days after a major hurricane battered Puerto Rico, leaving the entire island in a communications and power blackout, regions outside San Juan remained disconnected from the rest of the island — and the world. Juncos, in a mountainous region southeast of the capital that was slammed with Maria’s most powerful winds, remains isolated, alone, afraid.

Just like they let New Orleans drown, and California burn, and Houston flood, and the Midwest rust. I’ve been saying it for years. Don’t think you’re immune. Don’t think you’re safe. If they can do this to your neighbor they will do it to you.

Our fate is your fate.

It’s hard to quantify right now the sense that America has given up on America. It’s hard to describe. Talk to any 10 people and eight of them will give you the idea they live under some kind of hostile occupation of which they’re not in charge. Turn on Fox any day, any time, and you’ll hear that the government is nothing but a burden, nothing but thievery, nothing but waste.

Turn on any non-Fox TV station and all you hear about politics is that “Washington” is broken and nobody can get anything done. All politicians are alike. All are liars. All are corrupt. And our votes for or against them are meaningless.

So where does that leave us? Angry and scared, ignorant of our own history, wanting so badly to matter but ready to laugh at anyone who tries to, gravitating toward the loudest voices and the easiest answers, paralyzed anytime anything happens that’s real.

Of all the damage done, I can’t think of much that’s worse than making us afraid of ourselves.

Why else do we do nothing in times like these? I mean it, what other excuse do we have? We have wealth unimaginable and courage uncommon, we have problems we can actually solve and the way I know that we can solve them is WE DONE DID THIS BEFORE.

The country that pulled off the Berlin Airlift could save those dying in Puerto Rico.

The country that rebuilt Europe could restore clean drinking water to Flint, Michigan and any number of other towns similarly afflicted with lead contamination and malignant neglect.

The country that sent a bunch of guys to the freakin’ moon on the advice of a slide rule and some punch cards could engineer ways to keep cities from flooding.

We WANT TO, that’s the worst thing. We want to do the big stuff.  Those people bitching about their taxes? Scratch their surfaces and in most of them you find this incredible longing to matter, to see the end of what they contribute, to know they’ve made their mark. We donate over and over and over to charitable causes wanting to make a difference, and forget entirely that our tax dollars make a difference, too.

(A lot of that is bad news blaring YOUR TAX DOLLARS ARE BEING WASTED 29 hours a day, but buy some fuckin’ ear plugs for that crap already.)

Our tax dollars sent someone to the moon, and food to Berliners, and bricks and mortar to Poland. We pulled together for the things we like to remember, for the moments we were proud of ourselves. We made the decision to do so, and yeah, a solid 35 percent of people were pissed about it but once upon a time we didn’t let them hog the mic and ruin things for everybody else.

We can do this for Puerto Rico. We can do it for Flint, we can do it for Houston, we can do it for all of us. We just have to stop thinking we’re powerless.

And we have to vote anyone who tells us to hate and fear ourselves and each other the fuck out of office now and forever, strike their names from the rolls of society, turn our backs when they walk down the street.

I saw this MSNBC chyron this afternoon and nearly choked on my coffee:

“Washington” isn’t broken. “Washington” isn’t dysfunctional. “Washington” isn’t ignoring natural disasters and refusing to pass bipartisan bills and ramping up white supremacist rallies and defending the killing of unarmed black people and gutting the half-a-loaf healthcare protections we managed to achieve while people were screaming about death panels.

Republicans are.

A GOP Congress is trying to make sure you can get kicked off your employer’s health insurance plan and have nowhere to go. A GOP president is bitching out football players on Twitter like National Racist Grandpa. And GOP party-run media are setting a daily agenda that ignores the voices of those most in need to let a bunch of comfortably situated loudmouths claim white victimhood.

Enough.

Enough pretending that we can elect Breitbart-addled rage-monkeys for fun because government is just a big ironic joke. Six days of the year when disaster strikes it’s an actual fucking job, and none of these people have any interest in doing it.

We don’t have that luxury. We don’t get to shirk our responsibilities. We don’t get to imagine that the governments we’ve been electing lately can handle this kind of thing. We did this to ourselves and we need to fix it because if it’s not you today, it sure as hell will be tomorrow.

I got it tattooed on my fucking arm a few years back.

Our fate is your fate. 

A.

Forbearance

Just a reminder to my fellow white people:

THERE IS NO EQUIVALENT FOR US OF THE RESTRAINT WE EXPECT PEOPLE OF COLOR TO EXERCISE IN THIS COUNTRY.

We get all bent out of shape and call the fucking 5 o’clock news when the phone company doesn’t give us a $2 refund, but we expect people of color to call a police officer “sir” as he’s threatening to shoot them. As he’s shooting them. After he’s shot them.

We ask why people of color aren’t addressing crime in “their own” communities, admitting that we think of “our” communities as white ones, and then when there are protests we yell GET A JOB.

We equate burning down a CVS or punching an individual Nazi with the institutionalized power of the state sanctioning the murder of our kin, and call whoever gets maddest on the cable news about it the loser in the argument.

We police language, clothing, music, books, and we treat every politely written request to redress decades of systematic oppression as if it’s a demand for a lollipop, but God forbid anyone cut US off in traffic or we make it a federal fucking case.

The onus is always on them to respond in the “proper” way, which is to say not respond at all, while we get to do/say whatever we like wherever we like including the highest halls of government power. And then we want to claim some mantle of oppression? We want to say white people are persecuted?

There’s a white supremacist in the White House because we couldn’t give up the national talking stick to a person of color for 8 measly years without having a freakout of Oscar-winning proportions, and we want to claim we’re the victims here?

I got news for us. We have no idea.

A.

Swastikas & Pride Flags Are Not Equal Opposites

Speaking of free speech abstractions and people buying into their own bullshit:

Fuckin’ fuck’s sake. These aren’t opposing points of view:

Nazi wearing swastika: I want everyone who isn’t Aryan to die.

Gay person wearing a Pride flag: I would like to be able to live my life free of persecution and systemic inequality.

DO WE REALLY NOT SEE THE GODDAMN DIFFERENCE? Angus’s mentions are full of idiots who don’t. Intentions matter, and power structure matters, and incitement matters, and don’t throw antifa in my face until you can point to the number of concentration camps run by antifa and the number of congressmen who take money from antifa-sympathizing groups.

The only thing Nazi speech and antifa speech have in common is that both are produced by moving your mouth.

A.

 

Who Profits When We Fight?

The Daily Cal has been fucking killin’ it on the “Free Speech Week” fiasco: 

When UC Berkeley asked Young America’s Foundation, or YAF, and the Berkeley College Republicans to pay nearly $16,000 in security fees for Ben Shapiro’s speech, YAF lashed out immediately, stating that campus administration was taxing conservative free speech.

But public financial returns obtained by The Daily Californian show that every year, YAF spends millions of dollars funding campus events such as Shapiro’s, propped up by tens of millions in annual donations from many wealthy, powerful foundations linked to prominent conservatives such as Donald Rumsfeld, the DeVos family and Charles and David Koch.

This organization is the driving force behind many tumultuous, conservative events scheduled on campus. It was one of the many voices that pushed hardest to make Ann Coulter’s controversial appearance at UC Berkeley happen — before pulling its support two days before the event.

Way to go, student journos who are asking real questions while America’s august editorial boards are wanking to that ever-popular tune, The Highest Form of Free Speech is Bowing Down to the Loudest Butthole in the Room. Because there are these abstractions, and don’t get me wrong I will engage you in a debate about theoretical shit all day long, but at the end of the day somebody’s getting paid, and I’d rather talk about that with the limited time we have left on a habitable planet.

Assholes like YAF (a bunch of hoary Nixon bagmen dressing up their regressive segregationism as Hip New Rebellion) WANT America’s elite opinion columnists leading thoughts at their thought leader conferences about the merits of letting someone threaten and scream at you. Their whole schtick is “if you don’t let me call you names and threaten to deport you, you’re a pussy who doesn’t deserve freedom.” Their type has been railing against campus activists since the dawn of campus activism (which came shortly after the dawn of campuses) precisely because they know it plays into the inherent biases of the people they provoke.

That’s their entire game, it always has been, and for the life of me I will never understand the genre of journalism that is basically, “Here is a scam, let me describe how I fall for it.” Glowing profiles of shitkickers like Ann, asking what the sexy new Nazis want out of life, empathizing with very fine people who just want to yell about welfare, that’s been a whole beat for decades now, and its writers want credit for documenting the apocalypse?

Good for the kids at the Cal, for standing up and pointing out what the real problem is here. It ain’t free speech. It’s the very expensive kind.

A.

The Olds Are Alright, Too

I’m ’bout done hearing how exhausted we all are because if this guy can keep fighting so can everybody else: 

On platforms that didn’t exist during his first 80 years, Smith preaches about preserving democracy and the welfare state, creating a just society and living a life of compassion, all from an enthusiastically leftist perspective. And he rails against Donald Trump, Brexit, inequality, corporate greed and whatever else he finds loathsome, his pointed words delivered with an engaging, guy-on-the-next-barstool folksiness.

In his tenth decade, Smith is trying to change the world, with the urgency of someone who understands the time constraints.

“As we get into our late years, surely we should all be endeavouring to give something back to the country, to make it a better place when we leave,” he says. “Life is not permanent, although a lot of people look at me and say, you’re coming damn close to it.”

[snip]

“People always express surprise about these things,” he says. “But, really, I joined the Royal Air Force in 1941 and I went in as a wireless operator. I had to learn about transmitters and receivers and generators and all sorts of things that I’d never heard of in my whole life but we learnt them; including Morse Code which was our only means of transferring information. So we weren’t dumb buggers.”

Anybody want to tell this guy they’re tired?

A.

It’s About To Get Bad Again. And Again. And Again.

Here we go again: 

In releasing a revised version of their legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Senators Bill Cassidy and Lindsey Graham, along with co-sponsors Dean Heller and Ron Johnson, claimed that their bill isn’t a “partisan” approach and doesn’t include “draconian cuts.” In reality, however, the Cassidy-Graham bill would have the same harmful consequences as those prior bills. It would cause many millions of people to lose coverage, radically restructure and deeply cut Medicaid, and increase out-of-pocket costs for individual market consumers.

As I was thinking about having to fight this again, when we’ve already defeated it twice (three times if you count the popular vote last fall), I went back through the Twitter hole and found this:

Listen to that. Listen to that roar. And be glad for the fight, because every day we’re still fighting is a day we ain’t dead.

There’s joy in the fight. To say that sounds like I’m trivializing it, like this middle class white chick is having a great time out there playing SJW, hippie-chic weekender posing for Instagram photos on stolen ground.

But there are lots of people out there who can’t fight, themselves. Who can’t show up. Who can’t come to the protest or sit all night in the congressman’s office or spend a morning making phone calls or hold up a sign. Who have jobs they can’t leave, or disabilities that limit their movement or speech, or lives they can’t risk by resisting.

If you can, that’s a kind of privilege, too, and you owe it to them not just to march but to march loudly, to make a big noise, to remind those sumbitches that they haven’t killed us yet. They haven’t made us small and they haven’t made us scared. Pissed, sure, that we have to do this AGAIN, but not miserable. Not beaten. Not tired.

A colleague said to me not long after the election that joy had to be part of our politics, and I’ve been puzzling over it ever since, and I think what I’ve come around to thinking about is that we think of joy like we think of prayer, as a feeling, a passive state of being, instead of as active and purposeful work.

There’s joy in the fight, in putting your hands to the task and knowing you’re giving what you’ve got in the direction you can go. And if you do get tired, if you are beaten down, if the noise you wanna make starts sound less like a joyful one and more like a dirge, just listen to the roar of the people in that video, who fought so hard and won. Listen to that sound, my country tis of thee America, because it’s our national motherfucking anthem.

Raise your voice and sing along.

A.

Mortally Wound Something, Then Say It’s Dying

It’s the GOP playbook: 

The truth is that most people don’t know the open enrollment dates, and they don’t know that the deadline this year is December 15 — not January 31, like last year. They don’t know that by shopping on Healthcare.gov they are likely to find a plan that costs less than a $100 a month. I know this, because my office produced reams of data that proved the overall effectiveness of outreach advertising.

Signing up for health care is a big decision, especially for those who have never had health insurance. People think it’s out of reach, that they can’t afford it, that it’s just too difficult — or they’re young and healthy, so why bother? And the ongoing public debate about repeal has only added to the confusion. So it’s no surprise some people will throw up their hands and roll the dice, betting they won’t getting too sick or too injured.

Advertising, backed up by an informative website and in-person assistance, can help people grasp that health coverage under the ACA may be more affordable than they think, leading them to sign up.

This shit isn’t magic. I know everybody thinks that with the Internet all you have to do is put something “out there” and everyone will flock to it but news fucking flash, lots of people aren’t online constantly, lots of poor sick people aren’t online especially, the communal computers at the library don’t have a waiting list because high-speed Internet is available everywhere, and basically this is like the least dumb thing we could be spending our money on.

You have to go where people are, and you have to pay for that. I wish there was a way around it. God knows lots of things would be easier without money, such as food and shelter and actual health care, but right now where we are is so fucked that it’s going to require buckets of money to pull us out.

I started thinking the other day about all the damage Trump is doing, and that the GOP has done over the past 40 years, destroying most of all the will to preserve the common good. I know so many rich/middle class people who genuinely believe paying taxes is like some kind of favor they do for poor people, like they don’t get roads and snowplows and parks out of it, like the water just comes out of the tap by magic. It’s become so easy, in our politics-as-persecution-theology, to imagine ourselves alone.

It’s going to take buckets of money to pull us back from that and our Dem leadership is so shitass scared of being accused of GIVING ALL YOUR MONEY TO THE BLACKS that they’re willing to bend over for every tax incentive that lifts its skirt, but not willing to be honest about how much shit costs AND how much we should be willing to shoulder those costs because of the benefits. Heaven forfend we appear to be on the side of the widow, the orphan, and the goddamn parents just trying to figure out how to buy milk.

Building things costs money. Flood remediation costs money. Healthcare costs money and I’m about done hearing that we should just GoFundMe every single disaster instead of using the giant GoFundMe mechanism known as government to get some shit done.

A.

Who We Picture

Yuuuuuup: 

We find that white Trump supporters randomly exposed to a black (versus a white) man in the context of soliciting their support for a housing-assistance policy were more opposed to the policy, angrier about the policy, and more likely to blame beneficiaries for their situation.

This is what comes of 40 years of screaming about “welfare queens” and dismantling the common good in favor of the wealthy while pretending the only people who worked hard were white people. My fellow palefolks can only get behind something if it looks like something they might get. If someone else might get it, and that person doesn’t look like them? Nah.

I swear this blanket resentment is a bigger sickness than the warmongering and that’s a pretty deep sickness.

A.

Fix The Lack of Lefty Media First

Wonkette Editrix speaks for me:

Look, we all spend days and weeks and months debunking Trump nonsense and making fun of bad Dem messaging and … I’m not immune, okay, to what this whole entire blog of mine is about, but Rebecca up there is right. The right funds its embarrassing Pajamas Media Assrocket Hannidate shit endlessly no matter how bad it is or how much stick they take, because the InfoWars pipeline eventually leads to the nightly news and the Oval Office, and they understand the long goddamn game.

The Professional Left? We’re mostly out here hooking for HoHos and hoping our day jobs don’t disappear so that we can keep personally subsidizing such unimportant liberal ideas as “science is real” and “we should give poor children food.” There are at least half a dozen liberal bloggers who, with a decent salary from some middling organization with a vague name, would be alive right now. Some of my friends died sick and broke and they were worth a thousand Hindrakers.

And while I agree with this in principle:

Nothing MATTERS until the media disparity is remedied. I mean, my personal desire would be for Ye Olden Investors to put some of their apparently limitless cash into local newspapers instead of letting wingnut chains buy them all up and gut them. But the current state of things means that even if Dems come up with the smartest possible slogan, the most damning of all possible Trump smoking guns, the most detailed plan to help every last man, woman and child in the Sainted Working Class, how the unholy living fuck is anybody even gonna know?

America right now is out there saving itself from drowning and burning, but you turn on Fox News and this is the sort of shit you read. If all there is is Fox, and Fox ain’t covering your shit, and Fox is pretending Trump is the best president EVAR!!11! and your Republican governor is a job-creating dynamo, no plan makes a difference.

It’s why Trump debunkings just annoy me now. Nobody’s even hearing them.

Nobody HEARD Hillary’s detailed social and economic policy proposals. Nobody heard Bernie’s, either, not really, and wouldn’t have if he was the nominee, don’t kid yourselves. Whatever hairdo with money we nominate next time will get the same treatment no matter how many cheesesteaks they make J.D. Vance watch them hork down. They’ll propose Universal Basic Income and every podiatrist’s office in the Midwest will be blaring SENATOR LIBERAL Q. CHILDRAPIST WANTS TO GIVE YOUR MONEY TO THE BLACKS.

People don’t just wake up one day and change the channel. Fox News for DECADES built its brand and didn’t care that its ratings sucked and didn’t care that everyone laughed and didn’t care that nobody cared about the stories they were covering. For 40 years, the Right has been subsidizing faux-bestsellers and taking over local opinion pages and funding things called “LifeZette” and holding conferences where they make stars out of any tit that can string a complete sentence together.

They’ve done that so we can be where we are now: With fully 60 percent of the county hearing a narrative that places white resentment and nationalist propaganda above any semblance of the common good. That can’t continue.

We’ve gotta build stuff, and we gotta make peace with the fact that 90 percent of it is going to be shit, for a long long time. We’ve gotta stop chasing them and start going where they’re not. Sure, Verrit is run by a Hillary stan and seems on its face like a solution to a problem nobody has. WHO FUCKING CARES? Let it suck. The lesson here is to fund the next thing, that doesn’t suck as much, and the one after that which is mediocre, and the one after that which is pretty good, and the one after that which is great.

I mean, we can keep going the way we’ve been going, and hope that if our August Traditional Media just assign the right emoji or number of Pinocchios to Trump that he’ll magically resign and end the GOP across the country by fiat, but that doesn’t seem to be working out so well for us at the moment.

A.