Author Archives: Allison Hantschel

You Set the Agenda

Something I think our August Media Betters, those who protect us against Democracy Dying in Darkness every day, have utterly forgotten:

I’ll go one better.

Run it on every news show. Every night. Every single night until this ends.

Every day on the 24-hour networks. All day long.

That’s all it is. Stories from the camps. Stories about the camps. People talking about what to do about the camps and I don’t mean inviting one Democratic senator who’s going to talk about civility and one racist fascist fuckface who’s going to yell about Obamaphones and illegal aliens. I mean activists, attorneys, people trying to get to their families.

Wall to wall coverage. The kind you get when a pretty white girl is on trial for killing her baby.

The kind you get when a president wants to lie about a war.

The kind you get when, as I said over the weekend, one baby falls down one well.

Every single newscast in America could do this TOMORROW. They could do this TONIGHT. They could throw everybody in a room together and say this is what we’re about. This is what we’re doing. This is all we’re doing and it’s all we’re doing until it ends.

And 20 years from now we would remember those journalists as heroes. We would laud them in our history books. We would mention their names in the same breath as our liberal elders mention Murrow, as they mention Cronkite. Not that it’s the most important thing ever, in comparison to closing the FUCKING BABY CONCENTRATION CAMPS, but if vain and lazy reporters need a reason, here’s one: It’s what God put you on this earth to do.

But the advertisers, the bosses, the politicians, the accusations of bias, the OTHER STORIES, dear Liza, the other stories that need telling too. The panel you’ve already set up for Sunday that will change so little about the world, the favors you owe people and the fear of being fired. The mortgage you have to pay, the kids’ college fund, the money the money the money the money. The learned helplessness we’ve all watched journalism practice over the past 35 years.

The routine: get both sides, shrug your shoulders, and go home.

The pretense to powerlessness is humiliating to watch on a good day, but today? Today is unlike any other day. It’s rarely so very clear what needs to be done. You should be thanking heaven for the camera in your hands.

It can’t be done? There’s too much calcified inaction, there’s too much resistance? It’s impossible? You cowardly fucks. You all went to college for one hundred and fifty-seven years. You all studied this shit and you all, I guarantee, puffed your asses up about how fucking hard you were gonna tell truth to power.

Here’s truth: We are running concentration camps and people are dying.

Here’s power. It’s in your goddamn hands. Seize the mics and barricade the doors.

I’m going to take you all on a trip down memory lane. It’s called America Held Hostage, and you may have heard about it on a little program run by an obscure journalist named TED GODDAMN MOTHERFUCKING KOPPEL:

I was chief diplomatic correspondent. I’d be on the evening news and then I’d be on the late night news at 11:30. And these programs were infamously called “America Held Hostage: Day 5,” Day 7, Day 20, etc. And then one day I remember being on the phone with Roone saying, “You know, there’s nothing going on today. I mean, we really shouldn’t even be doing a special tonight.” And Roone said, “Tell me what a mullah is. Tell me what an ayatollah is. Explain the difference between Shia and Sunni.”

GQ: So he told you to be creative.

TK: He told us to be creative—Tell us stuff about the shah, tell us stuff about the religions, tell us stuff about the political make-up in Iran. All perfectly legitimate things to discuss, but not the kind of thing that you would normally put on a network at 11:30 at night. But such was the level of interest in the fate of the hostages that people were really tuning in.

Now, you can make all kinds of criticisms about the way this program treated a Democratic president and the way it fueled Reagan’s election (Koppel makes some of those himself in the interview) but what happened was a news program decided to make something THE issue of the day and they just fucking did it come hell or high water because they wanted to.

Years later, they did it again:

ABC issued a statement defending the program, which aired one day before the anniversary of President Bush’s May 1 declaration that major combat was over in Iraq.

The ABC statement noted that on the first anniversary of the September 11 attacks it aired the names and pictures of the victims.

“ABC News will continue to report on all facets of the war in Iraq and the war on terrorism in a manner consistent with the standards which ABC News has set for decades,” it said.

The show, titled “The Fallen,” aired at 11:35 p.m. ET Friday, and ran until 12:09 a.m.

ABC News showed the tribute live on its Jumbotron screen in New York’s Times Square.

Imagine that, with the camps. Imagine it every day until it’s over.

Now go DO IT, dammit Jesus.

A.

Don’t Do Nothing

The Texas Tribune has a list of organizations working to help families at the border. 

There are worldwide candlelight vigils against the camps on July 12, mark your calendars, bitches, and get in the streets with us. I’ll be at the Chicago event and/or helping organize one in my own neighborhood.

Call your reps. Tell them to close the camps. Even if they’re Democrats, even if they already want to. Make this their issue. Make it yours.

A.

Not Everything Sucks

In the hellhole that is the internet, Swear Trek and Spock’s Dick remain a bright spot: 

For all you young’uns who didn’t experience the glory of Web 1.0, this is basically what it was like all the time, along with some cats.

A.

What Can You Do?

Children are dying in our camps: 

The purpose of the quote, from the commissioner’s point of view, was to establish that the Border Patrol has no choice about this. There are too many migrants for the existing system, at existing funding levels, to detain the children in safe, uncrowded conditions.

What Sanders was describing, however, was a choice. If the law requires the Border Patrol to detain migrants in safe and clean conditions, and if it is impossible to provide safe and clean conditions with current funding and current facilities, then the Border Patrol can let the migrants go.

The law that says the migrants must be detained is no more binding than the law that says people must be kept in humane conditions. The question is which part of the law the Border Patrol will ignore: the part of the law that is killing children, or the part of the law that would allow the children to live.

Before we begin: No, Democrats are NOT complicit in this for not stopping it, they are NOT just as bad as Trump for not stopping it. That’s some hysterical victim-blaming bullshit designed to stoke “no difference between the parties” nonsense in advance of the election and I’m seeing way too many smart people falling for it and repeating it online. Knock it off. If you think for one hot second President Hillary would be building kiddie concentration camps at the border you need all kitchen implements removed from your vicinity immediately. For your own safety. Butter knives included.

HOWEVER.

Not enough is being done to stop this.

I don’t mean impeachment. I mean STOPPING THIS.

I mean, what can honestly be done? Can you barricade the doors? This is state-sponsored murder and you are the state, can you walk up to the guards who are holding rifles and stand there until they stand down? Can you pull a Tiananmen Square? How does any of this work? We know where most of these facilities are, where the children are. What would it take to free them?

We muster the might of nations for a baby fallen down a well, for miners trapped in a cave, we have round-the-clock coverage and infographics and analyses and everyone thinks, what can I do to help? And we can’t get these children out of their child prison camp and settle them with their families? What would it take? A march? A barricade? Another thousand thousand lawsuits? How do you get the children out before more of them die? Before all of them die?

Maybe there is no way, but I refuse. I refuse to believe there’s no way. “There’s no way” is something you say when you don’t want to do anything and we can’t not want to do anything.

I don’t know if any of that would work. I don’t know how much of that is even legal. And I don’t fucking much care either way because holding hearings and passing bills and talking to people about health care is not ending the goddamn child concentration camps where baby prisoners live in filth.

The Republican obstruction of the past 15 years has had the effect of conditioning us to expect that nothing will be done about anything. The GOP domination of the news has made us used to the idea that government is bad and dumb and broken and can’t address problems it is specifically designed to address. We’ve come to expect paralysis from one another and so we’ve come to excuse it in ourselves: There’s nothing we could do.

Except that’s almost never really true.

There’s nothing we could do without inconveniencing ourselves. There’s nothing we could do without upsetting someone. There’s nothing we could do without potentially doing the wrong thing, or getting in over our heads, or etc etc etc. But there’s always something. As long as we’re alive there’s something.

So what is it? What’s the thing that will stop this not in 8 months when the number of dead children doubles but right now today? And then can we yell at Democrats until they do that thing? I’ve got stacks of blank postcards, let’s go.

A.

Who’s Selling Hate to These People?

This story is full of more assholes than a bag of assholes but the biggest assholes in it aren’t named: 

Across the state, this network includes conservative radio hosts, think tanks and digital media that focus on anti-refugee news in Minnesota, as well as small community groups like C-Cubed, which repeatedly invite anti-Muslim speakers to town, leading to clashes and protests. Formed in 2017 to support more nativist candidates on the City Council, C-Cubed is a small group of only about a dozen members, but its existence has already changed the city’s political landscape.

C-Cubed supported four candidates for City Council last year, and two won seats, although Mr. Palmer himself lost. Members say they are raising questions about the state’s refugee program in order to determine its total cost. But in interviews, many repeatedly outlined more fundamental fears, including the belief that an influx of people who were nonwhite and non-Christian posed a cultural threat.

Several of the group’s members and their allies said their stand against immigration was a small part of a broader national conflict, in which the rising tide of a multicultural, multiracial Democratic Party must be opposed.

Who runs the sites and funds the radio stations and tells people to specifically compare abortion to the Holocaust? These people all say the same things and nobody asks where they heard it?

We are running story after story after story about Trump voters holding them up to be shamed, and yes, they should be shamed. These people make my fucking skin crawl. Imagine spending your life curled up around that kind of hatred. Like these are your days, reading angry websites and hosting meetings to be mad at refugees, this is what you’re doing with your time? These people should be shamed for buying this crap.

But the GOP should be shamed more, for selling it. In the most charitable interpretation of the sort of Republican Party Joe Biden wishes still existed, the GOP has benefitted immensely from racism in every form for the past 50 years. Even when they weren’t screaming it from the pulpit, racism was getting them elected. And at any time they could have said you know, this isn’t what we need to do right now. They didn’t, and they drove out the ones that tried.

So while we all cluck over the individuals in this story — they’re awful, and they’ll be judged for it in this world or the next — we need to keep in mind the structure that nourished and supported them, that confirmed their suspicions and validated their fears, and profited from them. They’re not victims, but they’re not the ultimate victors either.

A.

Future Conversations with Trump Voters

In light of this nonsense, I look forward to this NYT/Washington Post/Atlantic series about people who WOULD vote for Democrats, except for all the socialism:

Inside Carol’s Cozy Corner diner in East Westville, Pennsylvania, the air was thick with bacon grease and coffee that doesn’t cost $5. There are no lattes here, no free-range chicken sausage wraps with vegannaise. You’ll get your buckwheat flapjacks and like them, hippie.

Sitting at the counter, his oil-stained hands gnarled from years of real, hard work in the mines, Joe America scoffed when asked if he’d consider voting for Elizabeth Warren.

“She’s a socialist,” he said, and his buddies next to him nodded assent. “My grandfather didn’t fight in Korea so we could have socialism in America.”  

Joe America hasn’t benefitted at all from Trump’s policies, but says he’d consider voting for the president again.

“At least he’s against infanticide,” he said, cutting into his ham steak. “Democrats want to kill babies in the hospital right after they’re born. Say what you like about Trump, at least he doesn’t want babies killed. Unlike those socialists.”

What WOULD persuade such a person to vote for a Democrat for president? For senator, representative, town council? Joe considered for a moment, then looked around the diner.

“See people like this? Hard-working people?” He gestured to his fellow patrons, all of them doubtless miners, plumbers, roofers and railroad workers since everyone knows no soft-handed office workers ever visit a diner for breakfast. “Democrats don’t understand people like this. They don’t offer them anything.”

Joe stared into the distance as a truck carrying coal from the coal-filled coal mine rumbled by. One thing is certain from this encounter in red rural country: If the Democratic Party wants to appeal to voters such as this one, they have to abandon policies perceived by low-information voters to be socialist. Or infanticidal.

I mean I just can’t wait for these takes. No one will ask people what they think socialism IS, or how they believe Chuck Schumer is sneaking into hospital rooms to personally club healthy infants, or what specific policies they could point to that would convince them he’s not.

It’ll just be a morass of “people believe what Fox News and talk radio tell them, but we’ll never use the word Fox or the word News, because we don’t want to call people sheep and we don’t have room to get into the influence of a 24-hour propaganda machine for the GOP, it’s the thing we all know but don’t talk about ever.”

Socialism and infanticide are the Fox- and talk-tested flashpoint words and everyone will go along with the charade knowing it’s a charade and then pretending that going along with the charade means fulfilling their missing to keep democracy from dying in darkness, like this sort of shit saves the world. I’m so glad we’re killing journalism and building something new.

A.

Our Commenters are AWESOME

Let’s just turn today over to JTO, from my Sunday post, reminding me to get off my ass, shall we? 

The hour is running late, that is true, but it is also just as true that it is still early.

It is true that this is a frustrating, infuriating fight – but it is the fight that we have always had. It was the fight for the recognition of every working man’s humanity, of every woman’s suffrage and every POC’s equality. And those we fight are never defeated, they simply retreat, regroup and try again – just like we do. Just like we have to. Just like we have always done.

Will they first take, then corrupt our 4th Estate? Will they deny us the vote? Will they say our gigging economy is because of freedom and irresponsibly tasty avocado on toast brunches? Will they stack the Supreme Court, and start 4 month old children in kennels? Will they kill every single living thing on the planet – from microscopic plankton to Africa’s megafauna – for sport and a selfie?

Of course they will, or they will try.

And blast that crater we are all in – just a little bit bigger, deeper – even as we work to fill it in, and at the same time prevent them from making it worse.

Please, keep at it.

Go read the whole thing.

I was so tired before I read that, dude. And now I feel like I could run through a brick wall. THANK YOU.

A.

Everything Pretty Much Does Suck, Actually

Serwer:

Black Americans did not abandon liberal democracy because of slavery, Jim Crow, and the systematic destruction of whatever wealth they managed to accumulate; instead they took up arms in two world wars to defend it. Japanese Americans did not reject liberal democracy because of internment or the racist humiliation of Asian exclusion; they risked life and limb to preserve it. Latinos did not abandon liberal democracy because of “Operation Wetback,” or Proposition 187, or because of a man who won a presidential election on the strength of his hostility toward Latino immigrants. Gay, lesbian, and trans Americans did not abandon liberal democracy over decades of discrimination and abandonment in the face of an epidemic. This is, in part, because doing so would be tantamount to giving the state permission to destroy them, a thought so foreign to these defenders of the supposedly endangered religious right that the possibility has not even occurred to them. But it is also because of a peculiar irony of American history: The American creed has no more devoted adherents than those who have been historically denied its promises, and no more fair-weather friends than those who have taken them for granted.

The camps, and that’s what they are, camps:

I don’t have any answers anymore. I don’t have any more words. Maybe telling you all that will help me come up with some.

Not that that’s like at the top of the list of anybody’s problems, but if you’re coming here for me to tell you what to do, I can’t do it. Maybe I never should have. Because we fought and fought and fought and I sympathize profoundly with those who are asking what the fucking bloody hell for, right now.

Jesus Christ, if I have to listen to one more internet bro yell at liberals for not fighting, yell at the American people for not fighting … 3 million more of us than there are of those assholes tried to fight, and between voter suppression and gerrymandering and plain old slavery-curious electoral abuses it wasn’t enough. How insane is that, it wasn’t enough. Don’t tell me people didn’t fight.

Women told you and people of color told you and you’re out here all WHY DON’T WE STAND UP motherfucker … we did stand up. And we’re still standing up, and we’re still fucking losing, and we’re not gonna stop losing until Mitch and all his fellow GOP senators are unemployed so unless we’re talking about that I’m about done hearing that we’re losing the wrong way.

I’m sick of hearing comparisons to Hong Kong and exhortations for mass protest. We did that, too. I spent last summer every night and weekend in the goddamn streets, don’t tell me people didn’t protest and fight. People are outside the White House every night if you’re looking for a protest or a focal point for your rage. Should there be a national march on Washington? Probably, but then cometh a thousand of the same fucking bros telling us that protests are silly and pussy hats are embarrassing and all that money should go to progressive candidates, there’s no way to win here, no way to satisfy our own poisonous version of the 101st Chairborne, the people who always have a plan. I don’t have a plan.

And no, I don’t know if Nancy Pelosi does or not, but nihilistic bullshit doesn’t help us there. Every hearing house Dems have held, every fiery speech given on the campaign trail, every MR. PRESIDENT HAVE YOU NO DIGNITY SIR moment that has happened and they happen DAILY are covered by jack and his brother network dick because Democrats doing something right isn’t a narrative anyone’s willing to work with. Not even our allies; Jesus, that Jon Stewart thing that went around, calling on “Congress” as though it’s Democrats who are holding up help for 9/11 first responders.

A pox on all our houses, is the best we can hope for, never mind one house is a little run down while the other one is infested with bedbugs and also on fire.

The only people I’ve seen doing anything right are working through the states, on a scale small enough to make a difference. Moms Demand is getting gun laws signed even by Republican governors. Local abortion funds, local incarceration reform efforts … I know it feels like nothing’s happening but nothing breaking through doesn’t mean nothing’s happening. The same people who always fought are fighting. I don’t know how we get them to critical mass. I don’t think anyone who wants that even knows what it looks like. The Parkland students came closest.

I’m rambling, I know, but a friend texted me yesterday morning asking what do we do, and … we raised money for food pantries and libraries and gutted a house and saved some pelicans and filled a classroom in Alaska with LEGOs and wrote to our reps and senators and protested and voted and … what would make the most difference right now? I don’t want to tell you to throw bricks through windows if I’m not willing to pick one up myself so I’m asking. I don’t know.

A.

Sunday Catblogging: Throw Your Hands in the Air if You’re a True Player

First of all, condolences to the Adrastos family on the loss of Della. She heartily disapproved of me when I was last in NOLA for a visit, as well she should have, and I was honored to receive her royal disdain. Hopefully all our ferrets have found her beyond the bridge and are now also basking in her contempt as they so deserve.

Rest in peace, sweet girl.

Speaking of contempt, Kick regularly sings “I love it when you call me Big Poppa” at Slade, because he has become chonk, destroyer of worlds:

Behold, our lard, in all his thicc glory.

A.

The First Church of David Milch

I’ve been trying to find a way to write about the Deadwood movie since I saw it, and Deadwood in general, and David Milch’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis, which he talks about in this interview in the context of writing his memoir: 

Singer: Would you pick up a new novel and read it now?

Milch: It’s not likely.

Singer: Is that because the hours in the day you’re able to focus are diminished?

Milch: To some extent. But more so I feel the constriction of possibility, what I’m able to undertake responsibly. I have only a certain amount of energy.

Singer: Do you feel like you’re in a race?

Milch: Yes.

Singer: You’re racing to finish this memoir?

Milch: More so a larger enterprise, of which this is just a part.

Singer: Can you be more specific?

Milch: I’m trying to make work, the undertaking in general, coherent. To restore a dignity to the way that I proceed, and it’s a demanding process. You’re tempted to . . . toss it in. Just to quit.

Singer: Before this, were you someone who had preoccupying fears?

Milch: No.

Singer: And now what is it you’re afraid of, if you could identify it?

Milch: I intuit the presence of a coherence in my life which I haven’t given expression to in an honorable fashion.

Singer: So this is an opportunity. Is that what you’re saying?

Milch: Yes.

Singer: The rush to get to work, that inner necessity to make something. You still have that? Do you wake up every day with that?

Milch: Yes.

Good God. And if there’s a parallel in Deadwood, which has always cast an unflinching gaze on both human suffering (the filth and the language) and human grace (the filth and the language as well), other than the above video, it’s this:

Sol Star: I’m guessing you’ve done things today you wish you could amend.
Seth Bullock: What kind of man have I become, Sol?
Sol Star: I don’t know. The day ain’t fucking over.

And:

Al Swearengen: Every fuckin’ beatin’ I’m grateful for. Every fuckin’ one of them. Get all the trust beat outta you. And you know what the fuckin’ world is.

There’s a moment in the movie (which if you’ve been putting off watching it because you loved the show and don’t want it “ruined” get thee to a TV, not only will it not ruin it, it will redeem the parts you didn’t like) that absolutely took me to church, baptized me in the waters and wrote my name in the holy book.

SPOILERS FOLLOW

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Who Told Them The Left Hated Them?

Everyone’s dunking all over this which is right and just, but there’s something else happening:

Which is, you are convinced you have to be a Nazi because The Left hates you. So who told you the Left hated you?

I mean, did some mean feminist actually come up to you, spit in your face and say FUCK YOU FOR BEING A STRAIGHT WHITE MAN?

Or did someone tell you that happened to someone else who heard it from their cousin who saw it on “the news” who told their brother’s sister-in-law’s college roommate’s friend? Did Fox News tell you it was happening daily on the streets of God’s America? Did some YouTuber rant about anonymous leftists hating you? HOW DID YOU FIND OUT, and why did you believe it?

Because I gotta tell you, I talk to people all day long and zero of my conversations with acquaintances involve telling straight white men they’re inferior.

Sometimes they involve telling straight white men to cut out this or that specific behavior, but my direct conversations? With other humans, face to face? Rarely involve Twitter sentiments like “let’s keep straight white men in pens for sex and run the world on our own.”

How do you know the Left hates you, straight white fellow who’s just being PUSHED INTO being a Nazi because you HAD NO OTHER CHOICE? Who told you this was an acceptable response to being oppressed?

It isn’t some natural human reflex and the way I know that is African-Americans were enslaved and tortured for 400 years and they’ve managed to Nazi exactly nobody.

So at some point somebody told you this was a reasonable thing to do and say, and I’d like us to talk more about that person than about you, because buying this shit is one thing but selling it, as any drug dealer will tell you, is a whole ‘nother.

At a certain point we have to start addressing these conceptions of “the left” and “the media” hating REAL AMERICANS as the propaganda strategies they are. As electoral tools for the GOP, and not as something people of color caused by, like, existing and for which they should apologize.

A.

Not Everything Sucks

Asia Kate Dillon exists: 

Taylor quickly became a fan favorite. When the character was introduced, a representative from Showtime asked Dillon how much they wanted their personal story to be part of how Taylor was discussed publicly in the press — and Dillon wanted to go all in. “Right from the beginning, I didn’t feel any kind of pressure or like, Oh my God, what did I get myself into? Because I felt immediately like the autonomy was mine,” they tell me. “And then, on top of that, I spent almost 32 years not living in the full truth of my experience. I was more than ready to talk about it as much as I could, engage with my newfound community, and really just live fully in my truth for the first time in my life.” Despite this eagerness, Dillon is quick to demur on being called a trailblazer. “I am one part of the community, whose visibility would not be possible without the work that had been done before me by the people who continue to be the most marginalized from the movement,” they say, picking at a heaping plate of vegetarian lo mein. “That trail existed long before me.”

They’re a frickin’ genius. Like a whole scene is just a look or an aside, and they can make you hold your breath and not even notice you’re doing it until the next commercial break.

I haven’t seen John Wick 3 yet (I KNOW) but Taylor Mason is a very real person to me and I think all the time about if Taylor is okay, what they’re up to, if anybody’s bringing them coffee or checking in.

Who else is watching Billions?

A. 

Public Freedoms in Private Spaces

I hate to subject you all to a thing the president said, but:

There’s actually something interesting here beyond his usual idiocy. Most of the conservagrifters screaming about “free speech” understand full well how the ACTUAL First Amendment works, it’s how they stay just to the right side of prison. However, they also know that co-opting a nominally liberal argument and using it to “own” the libs is where their money is, so off they go, shrieking about how they’re being oppressed by not being allowed to sell T-shirts on one particular site on God’s internet.

The interesting part of this is the way our understanding of public and private space develops at a time when three or four private companies control almost all the means we use to communicate to large audiences. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, all lean on the freedom of speech to excuse themselves from responsibility for controlling content because controlling content is expensive and sucks ass as a job.

But when you get right down to it, they don’t actually have any obligations they didn’t create for themselves, and they know it, and it’s time we started acknowledging it as well.

For all that we think of these as public spaces, they aren’t. We USE them as public spaces and we understand them as public spaces: digital soapboxes, ideologically blank platforms upon which we are free to create.

A shopping mall is not a public park. WordPress here is not me printing a revolutionary pamphlet in my basement and distributing it to my fellows on the Boston Common.

No matter how attached I am to all you nutballs on Twitter, I do not actually have any sovereign right to it (until President AOC nationalizes it, of course) and if the company decided tomorrow to ban me, sucks to be me. I own nothing that I post to Facebook, not even my, you know, face, which is why I’m there less and less (plus all the racism). YouTube owns the images of my dead ferrets.

You go into these things with that understanding or you don’t go into them at all.

The “banned” conservatives raising money off their banning know that very well. They know that nothing boosts a white Republican’s profile like being victimized by something, and they’re all eyeing that sweet, sweet Fox News gig. I almost respect it, the purity of pitch-dark soul that it requires to pull off. What I don’t respect is the ongoing and frankly dangerous con social media companies run by mouthing about the beauty of the marketplace of ideas when it’s convenient for them to get out of work.

Either be the common or don’t, but be honest about what you’re doing so we can make our own decisions.

A.

Tuesday Catblogging

The cats are now adult enough to utterly ignore us when they’re not actively fucking with us, but they both seem to instinctively know when we’re out of sorts. Kick had a minor sleep regression and Slade was ON HER the entire time, headbutting and rubbing and purring and nudging her for pets. I had a minor mental health regression and Ada glued herself to me whenever I sat down on the couch.

They’re sweet beasts.

A.

The Middle Exists. Compromise Exists.

The middle is actually the middle of the Democratic Party. And compromise needs to happen within that party. And actually we only need that party, because the other party is consumed by the need to constantly throw poo: 

Democratic legislators know that Pritzker will have their backs should any of this spring session’s votes haunt them in the next campaign cycle. He has enough money under his couch cushions to fund their campaigns.

Pritzker also truly believes in this stuff. Where others settled for tiny increases in the minimum wage, Pritzker is nearly doubling it. When his most recent Democratic predecessors either rejected income tax hikes or insisted they be “temporary,” Pritzker went all out and proposed permanently raising taxes on the top 3 percent of earners. Gov. Pat Quinn reluctantly signed a way too restrictive medical marijuana bill into law. Pritzker enthusiastically pushed for legalization.

This much change this quickly can frighten people. So, we’ll see what the future holds. But for now, the governor and his supporters can bask in a bit of glory.

Summary for the uninitiated: Illinois was a clusterfuck for four years under Bruce Rauner, then elected a Democratic governor and whole lot more Democratic representatives, who then proceeded to do popular things. Wild times.

I’ve been saying for years that Republicans don’t need to be saved. AMERICA badly needs to be saved, but the Republican Party serves no purpose to the Republic unless it chooses to do so and SPOILER ALERT FROM 1954 it ain’t making that choice. Totebagger Nation likes to talk about some imagined glory days when “both sides” could get things done by coming together and reaching across the aisle and compromising and giving each other handies in the cloakroom and such. But you get a lot more done when you simply vote the Republicans out.

We don’t need them in order to run the country. A whole assload of my fellow white liberals have convinced themselves we do, because how else are we going to make sure Butthole, West Virginia and the suburbs of Milwaukee are adequately heard in the halls of power if not by listening sincerely to some mouthbreathing Cletus tell a joint session that Little Golden Books make kids gay. But what if we didn’t owe Cletus-Americans a hearing? What if they get what they get, which is their chosen representative, and nothing else? What if we stop trying to compromise with them and just vote in enough Democrats that they don’t matter?

I am so tired of being told we need to bend over forwards and back to give people who have no interest in governing a shot at government. If a bunch of poo-flinging zoo animals get elected to throw poo, we can respect the wishes of their constituents by acknowledging the animals’ existence but we are not obligated to throw poo. Let them do it in their corner, may it grow smaller by the day.

For those who fetishize centrism, here’s what it actually looks like: Legal but limited abortion rights. Legal but limited gun ownership. Legal but limited immigration. A general reluctance to go to war, but if we get pissed off enough, so be it. People being fed and housed and taught to read and given healthcare in some accessible, imperfect fashion that probably puts too much pressure on them. Welfare for businesses that have 10 employees instead of 100. I dunno, subsidies for art that doesn’t suck.

(I don’t, of course, agree with all of those provisions, but this is about the center, not about me.)

All of that is basically the Democratic Party. There is push and pull within, of course, but that push and pull is the politics of which our media-historian complex is so fond. If what we really want is a politics that compromises and finds the center, fine, but let’s recognize where that center actually is. It isn’t in the cage, all covered in poo.

A.

Special Cash

No industry journalist has any business blaming any part of what’s happened to newspapers on the Internet: 

Its coffers still full from last year’s sale of the Los Angeles Times, Chicago-based Tribune Publishing announced Thursday it will pay a special cash dividend of $56 million to shareholders.

It will be the first dividend paid to shareholders since Tribune Publishing spun off in August 2014 as a stand-alone company and significantly shrinks a cash pile that made it both a potential buyer of other media properties and an acquisition target.

The company, which owns the Chicago Tribune and other major newspapers, had $98.2 million in unrestricted cash at the end of the first quarter, according to financial reports. Between the upcoming dividend payment and other recent expenses, the projected cash balance would be about $25 million.

But here we are:

The urge to merge comes as the newspaper industry faces secular revenue declines and a challenging transformation from print to digital platforms.

The newspaper industry faces revenue declines but still has shitloads of money it chooses to pay out to shareholders because publicly trading a company that owns this Democracy Dies in Darkness Fourth Estate Public Trust Journalism Is More Important Than Ever is FUCKING INSANE.

I mean good Christ, the paper you could run for $56 million. The paper you could run for $5 million. For years the “print platform” depended on generating enough revenue that sexual-harasser slush funds and 20 percent profit margins could be masked by hand-over-fist revenue and nobody knew how to make do except the constantly reshuffling newsrooms where the people who did the work we were all told was so critical to America were chewed up and spit out. Even before the mobile Internet, shit, before wifi, we were told there was no money. All the while, buckets, and none of it got saved because we had to keep the shareholders happy.

And perhaps the industry, or at least the journalists who like to lecture the mildest of critics on the Internet about how sacred their work is, might want to work less on transforming from print to digital platforms and more on transforming from a “business model” that NEVER WORKED to one that does.

A.

Not Everything Sucks

There’s a new PBS kids’ show (look, we avoid constant harping for toys by refusing to watch anything with commercials, let me have the Wild Kratts, okay?) that focuses on Native Alaskans: 

While everyone loves a good mystery, what makes this podcast (and TV series) truly groundbreaking is that all the indigenous characters are voiced by indigenous actors, and Alaska Native voices are featured across the production, including in story development and creative direction. The theme song, which is featured in the PBS KIDS series and podcast, is sung by members of the Yupik Alaska Native band Pamyua, with music from Gwich’in fiddler Brennan Firth.

Kick has been obsessed since the first preview and is demanding information and books and maps of Alaska ever since.

A.

The War Isn’t Over

Never is: 

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency reports of the 8,156 Korean War personnel missing in action, only 494 have been identified.

Eight thousand.

A.

Not Everything Sucks

Deadwood is still with us and so is David Milch, who I’d take a bullet for and laugh about it: 

Still, the studio’s faith in Milch never wavered. It just wanted him to focus on more potentially lucrative projects, and persuaded him to create a new series, “John from Cincinnati,” set in a California surfing community, a collaboration with Kem Nunn, a novelist whose books can be found in the surf-noir section. It lasted only one season, a consequence generally attributed to a plot-coherence deficit. In the years that followed, Milch remained fiercely industrious. He created “Luck,” set at the Santa Anita Park racetrack and starring Dustin Hoffman, which was shut down in its second season after multiple horses died during filming. Milch also made a pilot—the only episode shot—for an HBO series called “The Money.” (Milch described it to me as “King Lear meets Rupert Murdoch and family.”) Two other HBO projects never progressed beyond the pilot-script stage: adaptations of Peter Matthiessen’s novel “Shadow Country” and “Island of Vice,” a history of Theodore Roosevelt’s tenure as the police commissioner of New York City. Earlier this year, HBO’s “True Detective” aired a new episode written by Milch and Nic Pizzolatto.

What I love more than anything in this world are masters of the craft who still go out and fuck up all the time. Like they could just sit around on their Greatest Hits and chill knowing they’ve created something eternal, but they’re like, “Hey, why don’t I go make this person-shaped hole in the wall, this sounds interesting.”

Do as much stuff as you can for as long as you can. God damn what a life.

A. 

Suffering Isn’t Noble if It’s Not Your Suffering

This is a lot to unpack, so let’s begin early: 

Pointing to recent failed bills in several Republican-led states that equated abortions with murder, they wrote, “Pro-life legislation that creates the right to DIY abortion and fails to categorize abortion as murder does not deserve our support.” In a hearing for the Texas bill, which would have equated an abortion with homicide, a crime that can lead to the death penalty in the state, Jim Baxa of West Texans for Life bluntly stated his support: “A woman who has committed murder should be charged with murder.”

Also on Tuesday, Charlotte Pence, the daughter of Vice President Mike Pence, penned an op-ed in the conservative Washington Times celebrating Alabaman’s draconian abortion ban, writing, “Personally, I would not encourage a friend to get an abortion if she suffered the horrendous evil of rape or incest, because I care about her child—and her. I do not believe abortion provides healing.”

And here: 

I had a second trimester abortion. Our son never formed an airway. Had he survived birth he would have been brain dead. That wasn’t the life I wanted for him. It was the first true parenting decision I ever made. I am not a monster or a criminal.

Here as well:

“We’ve got people all over the United States that can’t have children. They want to adopt children. There are great opportunities there.”

Consider the arguments being made, and the gods they’re being made in service to.

Consider whose suffering is being offered up.

I’ve been a practicing — not skilled, mind — Catholic my whole life, I’m not gonna tell anybody here not to kiss the Cross. Pucker up if that’s what turns your crank. You imagine you would gladly struggle through a non-viable pregnancy, deliver that stillborn child and risk all — future infertility, lethal infection, possible death — that that entails?

You see yourself suffering nobly in order to fulfill God’s plan, which is of course unknowable, because we all play a small part in someone else’s story and maybe your child’s horrific painful death or your own will be a catalyst that leads someone else to the Lord or sets something else in motion? You’re ready to do that?

Fine. Go do it, but do it you, yourself, alone.

You cannot choose martyrdom for another. Imagining that my stillbirth is your butterfly wings flapping the world into a hurricane of God’s glory is not a basis for legislation, it is cosmic chaos theory, the sort of coping mechanism employed by a child praying for good weather on circus day. It’s embarrassingly solipsistic, and it’s not a good reason to be against abortion, or for anything else, either.

I’ve written before about how so much of anti-abortion activism is a pose, a way of BEING instead of a set of solutions. If you seek a great battle in which to distinguish yourself, again, okay, but it’s a lot of pressure to put on the world, to give you a proper stage.

And as far as infertile couples yearning for your unwanted baby are concerned, if you genuinely think that your desire for a child means some other woman should bear one for you, then you can pony up the 40 grand for a volunteer surrogate, instead of asking a stranger about whom you know nothing to endure misery so that you can have joy.

What a horrifyingly selfish argument. What a sociopathic thing to say.

Before we had Kick Mr. A and I heard a LOT of anti-abortion rhetoric from fellow childless couples. One adoption agency we visited lamented the lack of available infants because “abortion exists now,” the implication being that back in the good old days we’d just send the whores to a pregnant girls’ home and then coerce them into giving up their babies which was SO MUCH MORE MORAL. The whole supply-demand argument is extremely gross.

My rights as a lady who wants a baby do not supersede the rights of a person who is pregnant and doesn’t want to be. This shit isn’t hard.

Is there nobility in suffering so that someone else can benefit? There can be. Is there meaning in bearing a child you know will die? Again, perhaps. But I don’t get to write a pretty story about how your pain is valuable because it sends me a message. That’s not for me to decide.

A.