Category Archives: Athenae

The Gods Lift Those Who Lift Each Other

Two quick hits.

One: 

Oklahoma stands out for the velocity with which districts have turned to a shorter school week in the past several years, one of the most visible signs of a budget crisis that has also shuttered rural hospitals, led to overcrowded prisons and forced state troopers to abide by a 100-mile daily driving limit.

Democrats helped pass bipartisan income tax cuts from 2004 to 2008. Republicans — who have controlled the legislature since 2009 and governorship since 2011 — have cut income taxes further and also significantly lowered taxes on oil and gas production.

“The problems facing Oklahoma are our own doing. There’s not some outside force that is causing our schools not to be able to stay open,” said state Sen. John Sparks, the chamber’s top Democrat. “These are all the result of a bad public policy and a lack of public-sector investment.”

Two:

I’ve been thinking about the latter since first reading it, because it articulates so perfectly what we’ve lost in the last 60 years (lost, never forget, at the hands of racist rich men who found the GOP eager to provide a political “philosophy” to sell their hate and selfishness). We’ve lost not the idea of kindness but the ability to clearly articulate the benefits of community. Not that helping others is some abstract good for which we will be rewarded in heaven, but that it directly benefits us right now today.

White Male America didn’t succeed in the 1950s as a result of keeping black men and women down. White Male America succeeded because of public policies designed to enhance the lives of many. The GI Bill, robust and widespread public schooling, infrastructure improvements that started before WWII and affordable public college provided by land grant universities all lifted vastly more people than tax cuts ever would have. Wild amounts of government spending, union jobs, pensions, and honest-to-god public assistance without ponderous and intrusive means-testing bullshit, all provided a framework for everyone to succeed.

And then a bunch of people came along and said this can’t continue, because it’s starting to benefit black and brown people, and if they win you lose. If you talk about the collective good you’re a commie. If you want to be fairly paid you’re a feminazi. If you criticize foreign wars you’re an egghead elitist SJW coastal fifth columnist who loves terrorism and hates America. If you’re different in any way, you’re a threat.

Who did that? Who’s responsible? Who sold that line, and who bought it? We still can’t identify the perpetrators in public. We talk all day long about how “Washington” is “broken,” how “politics” is “broken.” We talk about “the age of Trump” like it’s a tornado that just descended from the clouds. Someone MADE US THIS WAY and made money from it, and we can’t even bring ourselves to name the force that did it.

If Democrats are going to articulate a policy that is about helping ourselves, instead of helping “others,” because of course they’re the same thing, then they need to get real about what they’re fighting and why. A return to New Deal/Great Society rhetoric isn’t going to cut it in the face of the GOP puke funnel. I don’t think the concept of pity is the main problem here.

A.

Journalism Wants the Status Quo More Than the Truth

Something an editor told me once, when we were digging into a story about public malfeasance:

“It is always worse than you think it is.”

At the time, the story we were in the middle of, I thought it was pretty bad.

“Always. It’s always worse.”

He was right. Every story’s an iceberg; for every single sharp thing you see there are a thousand others below the surface waiting to gouge holes in your boat.

I thought of that when I read this thread today, about Trump and Russia, though to be honest it could be about Trump and just about any other thing:

A lot of people will say “biased” instead of “hesitant” and some of that’s true, but mostly it’s “lazy,” instead of “hesitant.”

See, if there are two parties, and they’re both equally righteous but just disagree about the role of government, then when you’re doing A Politics Story you call them both, and you get Both Sides, and you’re done. You’ve done your job, and you get to go home. It’s not about political bias, it’s about ass-covering. Have you seen journalism lately? There are six reporters left and three of them cover People and the other three cover Stuff, while their 57 corporate imagineer synergizers write memos about feeding content into a fucking funnel. Things are not good, so if there’s an easy way to get out of every week alive, generally people are gonna take it.

We’ve Offended Everyone So We Are Good, which kind of worked as long as you genuinely had two parties who disagreed about the fundamental role of government. We haven’t had that since about 1964, however, but it was getting worse slowly. If you were the kind of white, middle-class, generally male kid who went to journalism school, you saw things getting worse slowly, until 2016 when everything got a lot worse very fast.

And by that point the laziness had become paralysis, on almost every journalistic front. You know depressive avoidance behaviors, how sometimes you don’t do the dishes and you spend three days walking past the pile of dishes and it just keeps getting bigger and you feel worse and worse and less and less capable of doing the dishes and why are you such garbage why can’t you do the dishes and you spend hours more worrying about the dishes than it would take to do them? Like that, but a whole industry. A whole country, unable to wrap its mind around what it had elected.

Every story out now is the result of one or two or six people overcoming that just-keep-walking impulse and doing the damn dishes. Taking the fiction that makes it possible to go home at 5 and have a drink and exist in the world absolutely apart until every ugly machination on the part of the GOP is exposed and raw and of COURSE it’s all just too outrageous, that’s how things usually are under their skins. What made journos skeptical wasn’t reluctance to believe the breathtaking scope of Trump’s venality. What drove their skepticism was a sober assessment of the amount of work it would take to prove it, weighed against a desire to get away on the weekends.

When you get right down to it, journalism as an industry wanted the status quo more than it wanted the truth. That’s not a condemnation; all our systems are made up of people and people are what inertia eats. It makes it all the more laudable that there are journalists who are able to overcome the desire to sink into the couch for the next four years binge-watching Call the Midwife, because this is gonna get worse than we can even imagine.

It always does.

A.

Really Disabled

When you get right down to it everybody is just mooching off the system, right?

Everybody on welfare’s driving Cadillacs and everybody on food stamps is buying candy and everybody in Section 8 housing is just dealing drugs. The homeless by the highway are scamming you and kids who need lunch money are scamming you and that woman speaking Spanish in the grocery store might be talking about you and a guy who was panhandling once had a cell phone and oh my Cylon god, basically.

WHO HAS TIME FOR ALL THIS SHIT?

I mean it, who? The other day I was trying to figure out if I could make a haircut appointment for after my kid went to bed so I wouldn’t miss any more time with her because all I do is work and we’re selling our house and moving to a new house we haven’t found yet so we go to house showings and clean our own house for showings, and I haven’t seen my friends in weeks, and I’m emotionally involved with no less than 14 TV shows right now, and seriously at the moment a mani-pedi takes more time than I have free. Every night I am almost too tired to brush my teeth, and I threw my back out again so I’m limping around trying to quote Richard III like it’s funny.

The very last thing I can do is track if some person on disability could take a shift on the factory line or not.

I’m not being deliberately dense, I know there is an entire propaganda machine dedicated to convincing elderly white folks that this is the case, and I know it’s like candy for your brain, the idea that you are Not King because of some minority person or chick and not because you suck, but when you get right down to it half these loony things only take hold because people have time to pay attention to them so I ask you, can we get America a hobby or something?

Do we need classes to teach everybody to paint and crochet or tell them it’s okay to just ignore the homeless guy instead of inventing a whole story about how that guy is scamming you? You don’t have to give him money but you do have to find something else to talk about, you know? My cousin’s brother’s friend saw a homeless guy by the roadside get into an SUV and drive away, so they’re not really homeless, why is that something you need to tell me? I knew someone who knew someone who’d heard of someone who wasn’t disabled, who just had a headache and lived on disability his whole life because SCAMMERS, and we need to stop paying for programs for which we’ve already taxed people.

How broken in the head do you have to be, sure, to think like this, but also how fundamentally intellectually bankrupt and disinterested in life do you have to be that this takes up this much space in your head?

A.

Veterans Skinning Squirrels to Survive, But Should Get To Work!

From their McMansions, Trump’s base looks down on people like these: 

The Navy veteran was one of several thousand former food stamp recipients who lost benefits when Maine, in 2015, declined to renew its waiver and reinstated statewide work requirements. He has spent much of the last year living in a tent.

“I don’t wanna worry no one,” said Keefe, who recently testified to Maine’s Committee on Health and Human Services about the impact the work requirement had on him. But, he added: “I hope they understand that people fall through the cracks.”

If Paul Ryan or Donald Trump had to spend 30 seconds living this guy’s life, they’d shit themselves and die. But they’re gonna lecture him, and people like him, about hard work, about deserving, about handouts?

A.

Oh, the Courage of the GOP

They’re going to finish this, one way or another, and then we’re gonna let them do it again.

Really, Nixon should have died in federal prison, and that should have been the end of that party.

Really, murdering Central American schoolchildren and nuns in order to fight an illegal proxy war should have resulted in the GOP being thrown on the trash fire of history.

Really, tens of thousands of dead Iraqis and Afghans and lies to the entire world about why, that should have caused decent people to turn away from the word “Republican” in disgust.

Really, turning the entire mechanism of federal government into a way to interfere in the Schaivo family’s tragedy should have been enough. Shutting down that same government to oppose health care for poor people, stealing a Supreme Court seat from the first black president, letting their surrogates call that same president illegitimate, promoting Sarah Palin as a real person, I could go on. Any one thing, in a sane world, should have been the end of it.

But we let them up off the mat. We said BUT HER EMAILS and UNLIKEABLE and WHITE WORKING CLASS OPPRESSION, and we said BOTH SIDES and SINCERELY HELD RELIGIOUS BELIEFS and we let them be a real party again.

They’re gonna get rid of Trump and it’ll be like it never happened. It’ll be amazing how much it never happened. People will say “Donald Trump” and it’ll be like us Internet grandparents saying “George W. Bush is not our lovable great-uncle, stop it” and “John Yoo should be in chains” and everybody’s all, “Why can’t you let any of that go, God.”

I mean, just look at this shit:

Like others in Congress, Comer would have a week at home on recess to reconnect with his voters. Typically, a recess is a time for town halls. But this time, most members were not holding any. Comer’s plan was different — to hold four over the next three days.

“The perfect storm,” one aide told him, even as Comer’s Twitter feed showed video clips of a few other members facing angry crowds and stumbling to explain themselves.

“Everybody is ducking for cover right now,” he told her. “Everybody’s had the same advice for me — cancel them.”

But he wasn’t going to.

Wow, he’s going to do basic constituent services. Oh, the bravery. Let’s anoint this fucking guy like he’s Shackleton at the Pole.

He cleared his throat and then started talking about the most controversial thing he had been involved with so far, his vote to repeal the ACA. He said the ACA had deepened the problems in Kentucky by opening up such wide access to Medicaid, the health-care program for low-income Americans. He said so many had signed up across the state that nearly 1 in 3 were now covered under that program — and receiving free coverage. Some of those people, he said, desperately needed that help. But many were feeding off the system.

I’m so glad we’re humanizing this racist piece of shit.

The second town hall was in a county where Trump had won 85 percent of the vote. This time, there were no protesters, and Comer went in through the front door of the courthouse. He was cheered when he walked up to the lectern, and when he said, like Trump, that he wanted to make America great again, he saw 75 people leaning in, listening, not ready to pounce.

So he told his favorite Trump story. Two months earlier, he had flown on Air Force One with the president on the way to a rally in Louisville, and hours later he was returning to Washington in the same plane — only this time, with an invitation to join Trump in his private office. “Yes sir,” Comer said he told the president, and there he sat for 1 ½ hours, across from Trump and right next to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), as Trump talked about his plane and his election victory and his health-care plans. The plane landed at Joint Base Andrews, and Trump had another invitation for Comer: Did he want to take the Marine One helicopter back to the White House? Did he want to see the Oval Office?

“Why hello, poor constituents! Let me brag about how Trump let me near him to talk about the size of his electoral dick! Doesn’t that prove we’re all right to take your health care away? SHORE DOES!”

He looked out the window and started talking about the differences between being a politician in Kentucky and in Washington, of civilities and incivilities. “We used to ride together, go to O’Charley’s, go to LongHorn,” he said of the Democrats with whom he served in Frankfort, the state capital. “That never happens in D.C.”

I wonder why.

He rolled up to the last town hall, in Calhoun, population 763. He shook hands with some police officers and the county executive, and soon was standing in front of 75 people. “Trump won this district by 55 points,” he was saying, when a woman interrupted to say, “That’s very sad.”

I don’t know what’s sadder, that a Trump victory somehow proves he’s not a disaster as if terrible people never succeed in this country, or that this douche thinks it’s a defense of anything.

But hey, let’s keep pretending Trump is some kind of outlier, and the rest of the sensible Republican party — these people who talk about government handouts and “turning around” a country with 5 percent unemployment and (finally, some form of) universal health coverage just because it was led by a black guy — is just trying to sincerely gauge whether people still love Trump and, by extension, themselves.

Jesus H. Tits, we really don’t want to get better, do we?

A.

THIS is it, right? Finally? This is finally it?

Surely THIS is it, the thing that will make the GOP rise up against Trump: 

In his meeting with Lavrov, Trump seemed to be boasting about his inside knowledge of the looming threat. “I get great intel. I have people brief me on great intel every day,” the president said, according to an official with knowledge of the exchange.

Trump went on to discuss aspects of the threat that the United States learned only through the espionage capabilities of a key partner. He did not reveal the specific intelligence-gathering method, but he described how the Islamic State was pursuing elements of a specific plot and how much harm such an attack could cause under varying circumstances. Most alarmingly, officials said, Trump revealed the city in the Islamic State’s territory where the U.S. intelligence partner detected the threat.

OF COURSE THIS ISN’T IT. WHAT ARE YOU, NEW?

Several reasons why this — like bragging about sexual assault, threatening federal witnesses, ignoring the Emoluments Clause, and a hundred other things — will not be grounds for impeachment with a GOP Congress (or a cowed Dem one). Let’s start with the easiest: Republicans cannot find their ass with both hands, a searchlight, and a posse. They won in 2016 through a combination of luck and racism, they’ve been screaming for 40 years and don’t know how to do anything else, they are not organized around any principle besides HA HA FUCK YOU LIBTARDS, and so their response to Trump’s idiocy is therefore by necessity kind of “… dude, the hell?”

Also, the few who do have an ideology find that Trump’s idiocy does not imperil that ideology one bit. Paul Ryan can kick poor kids off health insurance and give himself a tax cut regardless of how many secrets Trump blurts over the buffet.

AND, I dunno if you’ve noticed, but national security is not actually their thing. When they’re not humping a stack of aircraft carrier contracts, Republicans in the recent past can be found burning covert operatives, ignoring intelligence briefings about imminent terrorist attacks, setting up secret torture prisons badly enough to have said secret torture prisons found out, and generally sticking our national dick in any bees’ nest they happen upon. They’re not going to suddenly start giving a shit about things like the lives of U.S. assets, not when it’s a GOP president endangering them.

Jesus Aloysius Tits, I can keep explaining it for the cheap seats but I can’t understand it for you: THE GOP IS NOT GOING TO SAVE US FROM THE MONSTER IT CREATED. Two or three senators are going to shake their heads on the Sunday shows and not do anything otherwise. I get that it is fun to continue to play Political Sims, where you are suddenly the Hero Who Bucks His Party and Rises Up to Save the Republic, but at this point it’s just embarrassing. Stop it.

Continually hoping for a GOP savior from this mess is not only futile. It actively disappears the people — primarily women, and people of color — who have NEVER bought into Trump’s bullshit, never voted for him, never helped get him elected, and are leading the damn resistance while everybody else is writing fanfic for major papers about how maybe THIS TIME instead of the other 497 times, this time the GOP will grow a spine.

A.

The One You Choose: 12 Monkeys, Trump, and motherhood at the end of the world

We’re in a place now, in our culture, where we’re talking about time travel a lot.

Those of us that aren’t talking about killer robots and how to screw them are talking about time travel. For a while we were talking about World War I a lot, which was understandable given the unwinnable, inexplicable wars grinding trenches through our public life. Then the trenches gave up their dead, and we talked about zombies for what seemed like forever.

Now we’re building time machines, trying to fill in the trenches before they’re dug. Trying to figure out if there is any way forward that doesn’t end up here. Can you blame us? Have you SEEN the world? David Bowie’s dead and Mitch Albom is alive and Coldplay is still making music; things are emphatically Not Good.

The destruction stories have gotten seriously tiresome, too. A few years ago maybe it seemed like fun, to burn it all down. In the immediate aftermath of the financial crisis and the seeming paralysis of anyone to do anything reasonable about it, it seemed prudent to read a lot of post-apocalyptic literature and stockpile dry goods for the siege.

All those stories, though, are about the people who magically survive and Become King in the new, desolated world. Let’s face it, the chances of that happening to you or me is pretty slim. And it’s always such a mean, small story: millions of people died, but let’s get invested in the five guys who could finally put their archery skills to good use!

So instead, we’re talking about a re-set. We’re talking about time travel. Which means I’m going to talk to you about 12 Monkeys.

Here’s SyFy’s description of it: 

Time traveler James Cole travels from the year 2043 to the present day to stop the release of a deadly virus by the enigmatic organization known as “The Army of the Twelve Monkeys”. That virus, in Cole’s future, caused the death of most of the world’s population. Led by a cryptic message from the past, Cole makes contact with the brilliant virologist Cassandra Railly, who he believes is the key to stopping the virus. Cole also enlists the help of Jennifer Goines (the insane daughter of the virus’ creator), and his best friend Ramse to stop the initial outbreak. As Cole journeys through time in an effort to stop the virus, he realizes the Army of the 12 Monkeys have a larger, more mysterious agenda.

Are you already bored? I was, too. I don’t blame you. Time travel shows make me exhausted in the way arguments about most trivia make me exhausted, like don’t make me do homework to enjoy something. If I have to build a conspiracy wall to figure out your story, generally, that’s too much work for me to do after a day of work, and getting all up in a fanboy argument about if you can kill yourself from the past or whatever is similarly not my idea of a party.

12 Monkeys isn’t about time travel, though. It’s about time.

The woman who invented time travel, who enlists Cole in this mission to undo the worst of humanity’s atrocities, is called Jones. Jones opens a box, midway through Season One. She takes out a blanket, embroidered with her daughter’s name. Hannah.

Hannah choked to death on the sickness, while Jones sang her a lullaby.

All Jones wanted was to make a timeline where her daughter didn’t have to suffer. All she wanted was for her child to be safe, and for that, she needed a clean slate. Cassie was trying to cure the plague, but Hannah was dead, and a cure wouldn’t change that. Jones needed to undo it.

Everything she did came from that impulse. She built a machine that ripped time apart. She killed dozens, maybe hundreds, chasing the moment when her daughter might have lived. She splintered men and women, sons and daughters, over and over and over again.

Wouldn’t you, in her place?

If you thought you could stop a war? If you thought you could save your child? If you thought you could save everybody’s children, in the few minutes a day that your breathless pain let you consider someone besides yourself, if you thought you could save everybody? I mean it, what wouldn’t you do?

You’d become a monster. You’d become a thousand monsters, and she did, Jones, only to find that timeline after timeline, splinter after splinter, the plague still came. She sent boys and girls back and forth until they literally exploded: Someone’s daughters, someone’s sons. She killed and killed and killed, and still it followed her, covering her footprints.

So she learned to live with Hannah’s ashes, finally, in Season Two. She learned to love and trust again. She found people she couldn’t sacrifice, not even for her blighted goals, not even for Hannah. Jones burned the world down and found nothing, and at that exact moment, when she’d exhausted every resource and spent every inch of herself, then Hannah stepped out of the darkness and into her arms.

The reason for everything, alive all along.

A lot of people thought it was a cheat, or that Jones should be shattered or angry or feel that she’d wasted something. That’s absurd. Nothing was wasted. A cure won’t save the dead and that’s still true. Hannah lived. So many others didn’t. What of them?

Do they not deserve every inch of Jones? Did someone else love her child any less? You don’t heal the world by loving you and yours. You heal the world by loving beyond family, beyond obligations of blood and bone.

This show is about time. There are so many other daughters.

When I first found this show, it was dark and cold, and I had a baby barely a year old, was working two jobs, and felt good about almost no part of my life at all. Insomnia addled the senses not already in a tailspin from the work schedule and the kid’s sleep strike, stress drinking got old pretty quick and so I wound up binging Jennifer Goines at 3 a.m., which is precisely NOT the time you really want to be hanging with this chick.

Jennifer is a very real person to me, almost as real as Starbuck. She’s been running forever. From her rich dad, from her doctors, from the voices she hears, from Cole, to Cole, time roaring in her mind like the ocean going in, coming out.

Her mother tried to kill her. Her father locked her up. She kept all his secrets and she never told a soul, and he left her in a cell to rot. She saw her co-workers die all around her, and she wept and raged, and she opened the door that ended the world. 

The eye of the hurricane, where the winds go still and the light pierces through, the speck of earth the tornado touches. Primary.

She’s used by the others, uses them, fights them, fights with them, and in the end she comes face to face with herself. Literally; Jennifer young meets Jennifer, old, and they stare at each other across the room. They’ll explode if they touch, if they get too close. It’ll cause a paradox.

If you met the you you’re going to be, 50 years from now, and the one you were, 50 years ago? If you met the person you needed to be to live in the world as it will be then, could you embrace that woman, that daughter, and sing her a lullaby?

Could you say to her, as Jennifer Goines did to her younger self, I know everything about you, every mistake you are ever going to make, every awful stupid cruel thing you’re ever going to do, and I don’t need to forgive you because there’s nothing to forgive?

Jennifer, in that room, owned up to how long she’d been running. How many times she’d stuck her fingers in the pages of the Choose Your Own Adventure books, trying to game the endings out, trying to get it right. And Jennifer said to her, there are many endings, and the right one is the one you choose.

You’ve got to pick, and if you let yourself go back over it and over it and over it trying to find a way out, you’ll scorch the ground you stand on. Jennifer’s been running so long. She’s been running in her head long before the world burned down. They put her in a cage and she built herself a wheel, turning and turning. The second season was Jennifer letting herself off, letting herself out.

We say you have to forgive yourself, and it always sounded like such a cop-out. Like sure, just tell yourself all your horrible things are okay, let yourself off the hook, how convenient. I never knew what that looked like until this show made it literal. 

Forget the costumes and the clocks. This show is about time, and what it does to you, and what you do back. 

Season Three starts with Cassandra Railly (separate from the entire character that is Her Hair) pregnant, frightened, cradling her belly. The beginning of anything is terrifying, and there is more ambivalence and fear than we admit, in childbearing. A child is optimism in its purest form, is hope embodied: Their world will be better than ours. But hope is helpless where we live now.

In Cassie’s world, everything’s on fire. Time is tearing itself apart. In ours, same, but so much more mundane: A small group of nasty people is destroying American government, has been for a while now, and has finally done enough damage to be noticed by those not directly targeted. Every damn day is a fight, about who we are and what we stand for, about things that shouldn’t even be a fight, like everybody’s full humanity, and if we can afford to teach people to read. The key attraction of the end of the world is its clarity: we dream of a single moment in which we could rise up heroes, instead of a thousand moments, every single day, which pass us by unnoticed.

My own daughter wants to right every wrong. Hearing a crying child in the store, she asks, “What’s the matter with that baby?” Seeing a schoolmate hurt she asks, “Are you okay?” We took her to the Women’s March in January, and she rode on her father’s shoulders, waving a sign that said, “Future President.” All I could think was that this would be the first world she would know, and if she would know that it was dumb and small and mean, then she’d also know that some of us fought back.

How do we raise our children, knowing the cruelty of the world? Knowing the plague is coming? They roll and twist inside us and we think we can protect them from their fate. Burn every spinning wheel in the kingdom and the princess still pricks her finger; build a wall of thorns a thousand feet high and someone will hack his way through. Save every penny and hide behind your bank account, hoard food in the cellar, weapons in the attic, ammunition in the coffee can under the bed. 

You can flash card them in Mandarin and drive them to piano lessons and teach them to swim and hunt and start a fire, but all you’re doing is arming them for the fight. You still have to trust their strength is greater than your own. You can’t protect your children. You can’t stand guard against the world. You can’t choose their endings for them; if you’re very very lucky you won’t even witness them. The unimaginable courage, in Cassie’s hands, to know everything about what her baby will become, and still hold him, and sing him a lullaby.

This is a story about time, and mercy, time and hope, time and fear. There are no clean slates. There is always forgiveness. And however long you have with your darling daughters, it’s never going to be enough.

Season Three of 12 Monkeys drops Friday. We may have more threads. Stay tuned.

A.

Screaming Makes the Headaches Worse

Your gentle reminder that congressional Republicans could have stopped this long ago:

Trump will be running the country from federal prison, texting executive orders to Jared and Ivanka via burner phones smuggled in from the Russian mob, before Paul Ryan bestirs himself from his seat to issue a sternly worded rebuke. Come on. The reason so many people are sitting back and laughing at this constant shitshow is that ABSENT A GENUINE OPPOSITION PARTY IN CONGRESS THERE’S LITERALLY NOTHING ELSE TO DO. Fuck the GOP. This is on them.

This party pardoned Nixon and cheered on W’s wars and were completely fine with Mitt Romney declaring half the United States a bunch of welfare cheats. This party nominated and supported a man who bragged about sexual assault, ignored perjury by a sitting Attorney General, stripped health care from millions of goddamn kids and with their next breath cracked open some beers. They have no interest in holding Trump — or any other Republican — accountable because it garners them nothing.

They control Congress. They control almost every state legislature. They hold governorships from sea to shining sea. What profit do they seek they can’t obtain by simply sitting still? They’re rational actors. Power protects itself, first last and always. Until the American people show them they have no power that can’t be taken away if they displease us, I’m straining to think of a way this goes anywhere.

Congressional Republicans could have stopped this when Trump’s rallies turned into Nuremberg Lite. They could have stopped this when his people yelled LOCK HER UP. They could have stopped it when he said, “Grab them by the pussy.” They could have stopped it after the Muslim ban. After he fired Sally Yates. After he declined to hire people to run the government. After his kids hawked their wares on government property. After the 478th unhinged midnight tweet.

That we actually think they’re gonna stop it now is a testament to how seriously we take a white dude losing a job.

I would love to be wrong about this. I would love for this to finally be the bridge too far. I would love for this to be the turning point, but I have to be honest with you. All I see is a straightaway, the GOP clown car barreling down it full speed, with no new direction in sight.

A.

Bomb the Suburbs

Fucking FINALLY, someone pays attention: 

Trump’s real base, the actual backbone of fascism, isn’t poor and working-class voters, but middle-class and affluent whites. Often self-employed, possessed of a retirement account and a home as a nest egg, this is the stratum taken in by Horatio Alger stories. They can envision playing the market well enough to become the next Trump. They haven’t won “big-league,” but they’ve won enough to be invested in the hierarchy they aspire to climb. If only America were made great again, they could become the haute 
bourgeoisie—the storied “1 percent.”

Trump’s most institutionally entrenched middle-class base includes police and Border Patrol unions, whom he promptly unleashed after his inauguration by allowing them free rein in enforcing his vague but terrifying immigration orders, and by appointing an attorney general who would call off investigations into troubled police departments. As wanton as their human-rights atrocities in the years leading up to the Trump era have been, law-enforcement agents are already making their earlier conduct look like a model of restraint. They are Trump’s most passionate supporters and make concrete his contempt for anyone not white, male, and rich.

I’ve been yelling about this for at least five years.

Source.

During the 2011 Wisconsin gubernatorial recall, the reddest parts of the state, which went the hardest for Walker, weren’t purely rural. They were the white-flight suburbs of Milwaukee. People there moved out of the city and nurtured in themselves and their children a story about how black and brown people “ruined” “their” neighborhoods. The city was a shithole out of which they’d been driven, and they were going to get their revenge.

National treasure Heather Havrilesky got at this right after the election when the national press was still jerking itself off about Hillbilly Elegy, about suburban discomfort and the need to conform:

In the suburbs the constant fear is “safety.” I recently sat at a suburban lunch table and listened to three women my own age talk for an hour about how to keep their purses safe during pre-school dropoff. Somebody knew somebody who’d heard something on the radio about men doing smash-and-grab with purses out of minivans and this was a federal case now. The preschool should have security cameras. Here’s my brand of car alarm.

(Just don’t leave your purse in your car, then. Don’t be an idiot. Why are we still talking about this?)

A group of moms at a playground recently devolved into talking about the lack of indoor playspaces nearby. I mentioned one, in a predominantly Hispanic suburb, which was bright and open and always had plenty of room for more kids. “That neighborhood is so sketchy,” one of the women told me. Had she been there? Of course not, her husband would never allow it! Everybody nodded; the world was dangerous and you had to protect yourself! It’s just awful about things these days. People are so goddamned scared.

Local TV news feeds this phenomenon, and the local suburban press as well. The city is always a cesspool of black and brown criminals, homeless, needy, looking to carjack you the minute you go downtown for a play. People always want to take what’s yours. If you’re from the city, you left because you HAD TO move away to protect yourself (and your children, the ready-made excuse for your racist crap) and that sense of being driven out by outside forces (black outside forces; unscrupulous real estate agents, not so much) informs everything around you now. You moved to be safe, but you don’t feel safe because now you’ve let fear control you and once is all it takes.

If you know anything about inherited trauma, you know what you tell your children about why you live where you live. People my age didn’t flee African-Americans marching for open housing but they damn well know why their parents and grandparents did, and among themselves, after a couple of beers, they’ll tell you they know how to keep everything under control.

From the Nation article:

Their material security bound up in the value of their real-estate assets, suburban white people had powerful incentives to keep their neighborhoods white. Just by their very proximity, black people would make their neighborhoods less desirable to future white home-buyers, thereby depreciating the value of the location. Location being the first rule of real estate, suburban homeowners nurtured racist attitudes, while deluding themselves that they weren’t excluding black people for reasons beyond their pocketbooks.

So the people who support Trump the hardest? The people who backed him with their donations and lawn signs and votes? They’re not trailer trash. They’re worse, and it’s because they think they’re better.

They think they’re better than trailer trash because they don’t use the n-word (as they stake a BLUE LIVES MATTER or a WE BACK THE BADGE sign into their lawns and ask why “minorities” have to make everything about race). They’d never tell a Hispanic woman to go back to “her” country if they saw her in the grocery store, but the next time they’re two glasses into the rosé at book club they’ll wonder if she was talking about them when she was speaking Spanish, and declare that immigrants don’t have to learn English anymore.

They’re not going to yell at a woman on the street to make them a sandwich. They will, however, tell a woman with a job that it’s too bad she can’t stay home with her kids, and say they’d never let “a stranger” take care of their children. They’ll put a bumper sticker on their cars: It’s a child, not a choice, or Defund Planned Parenthood, but they’re not bigots or sexists themselves.

They think their fear is more valid than the racism of some Confederate Flag-waving jackhole with a white truck and brown teeth. They think it’s more virtuous to be scared than to be evil. And if they ever do start to wonder if they might be monsters, if they might be on the wrong side of something, well, they have the trailer trash to look at and say, we’re not that. We have one ass instead of two, and nobody in our family’s in jail for making meth.

Dad worked in an office, not a coal mine. We’re better than them. We just vote for the same people, over and over, no matter what, and if we tell ourselves we have a different reason, maybe it buys us out of hell.

A.

You’ve got to remember your NAME

Reek, my name is reek: 

Fair attack: the bill strips millions of coverage: Unfair attack: It was written by white men in suits and they rejoice at hurting the poor

Yes. The most important thing in the world is to be fair.

We mustn’t unfairly attack this bill, or its authors.

We must strive to be dispassionate. We must consider each line of argument coolly and with great deliberation.

Fairness, after all, is the most critical aspect of health care policy debate.

It’s more important than the facts of the bill.

It’s more important than the motivations of its authors.

It’s more important than health care itself, is fairness.

More important than chemo.

More important than a newborn baby’s incubator.

More important than Grandma’s new hip.

It’s more important than antibiotics for strep, stitching up Dad after he fell that time, putting a cast on Cousin Billy’s arm. It’s more important than removing Aunt Sally’s tumor. Certainly far more important than anyone’s little sister’s brain surgery.

We must be fair.

We shouldn’t call the authors of the American Health Care Act evil. Just because they aim to strip insurance coverage from millions, just because they shook off concerns from veterans and grandparents like so much rainwater, just because they THREW A FUCKING PARTY to celebrate eliminating regulations to require pre-existing condition coverage, we shouldn’t call them evil.

That’s not fair.

And our fairness, the appropriateness of our tone, trumps any action by anyone else.

They can act with impunity. We must police every word we say.

We must greet our murderers with gentle words, tea, and supplications for permission to critique their destruction of our society. Anything more strident invalidates our point. We must be quiet and calm at all times.

They’ll still kill us, of course, but at least we’ll have been FAIR.

A.

I’m About to Be Uninsurable

Kick has started to ask questions about books.

We read a book about Ada Byron Lovelace and she asks WHY Ada loved numbers as a child, why she couldn’t walk. We read a book about a panda that refuses to give people donuts and she asks why he’s being so mean.

She used to just sit and absorb everything I read to her. Now she follows the plot, notices if I skip pages (screw you, Wheedle on the Needle, you are twice as long as you need to be) and wants every word defined.

The other night, we read Madeline. She asked what a scar is. I told her a scar is a mark from when you were hurt, or when something was wrong and doctors had to help you. And I showed her one of the scars from the surgeries I had while trying to have her. It’s a small raised spot now, barely noticeable.

I had two surgeries trying to have her, surgeries to scrape out benign tumors in the uterus. The second was minor, laparoscopic, left only small marks. The first was major, and necessitated that when I did give birth, it was via C-section.

I said throughout my pregnancy that I was happy about the C-section, as it meant I could schedule my German child and have her born precisely when I wanted her to be. I’d heard recovery could be simpler than from a vaginal birth with complications, and I got to skip the birthing classes, so I wasn’t going to insist as some women do when their doctors recommend the procedure. I’m lazy. I get to lie down while the doctor does all the work? OKAY.

I didn’t consider this as an outcome: 

Dr. Horvath-Cosper says that, by letting states decide on their own essential benefits lists, women could be disproportionately targeted as having pre-existing conditions. “Back in 2010, it was legal in several states to deny somebody coverage because they were a domestic abuse survivor. That was considered a pre-existing condition,” she said. So was having had a C-section. “Most of the people who have C-sections identify as women, so that’s a shorthand for a gender discriminatory policy.”

Many others have said what I could say here, that being alive is a pre-existing condition, that this bill is monstrous to families with developmentally disabled children and to people with cancer and to the poor, that Republicans haven’t read it and don’t intend to and only care about delivering a win that allows them to shit all over the former occupant of the Oval Office, who happened to be black. These things are all true, and the GOP should rot in hell if this passes. Decent people should spit on them on the street.

And don’t give me that it’ll die in the Senate. That isn’t the point. The point is that this is what they’re saying about who we are and what we want. And what we want is to be mean, and small, and angry at everybody who is sick or needs help.

The way during the last election we wanted to be mean and small and angry at everybody who wasn’t white, wasn’t rich, wasn’t just like “us.” The way we all seem to be on every level of government right now. Fend for yourselves, everyone, there’s nothing we can do for you.

“That’s a scar,” I said to Kick, taking her small fingers and helping her trace the mark just inside my left hipbone. “A doctor had to make a cut there.”

“Why?”

“To make Mama better so she could have you in her tummy.”

She accepted this without question, thank goodness, and snuggled back into the story about a little girl who needs her appendix out and spends 10 days in the hospital afterward.

Thank God Madeline is French.

If she was American she’d have a pre-existing condition now.

A.

They Just Wanna Say Fuck You

Keep writing thinkpieces about the inner workings of Trump voters. This is what they’re all about: 

The Trump administration is discontinuing a signature girls education initiative championed by former first lady Michelle Obama, according to officials.

The “Let Girls Learn” program, which she and President Barack Obama started in 2015 to facilitate educational opportunities for adolescent girls in developing countries, will cease operation immediately, according to an internal document obtained by CNN.
While aspects of the initiative’s programming will continue, employees have been told to stop using the “Let Girls Learn” name and were told that, as a program unto itself, “Let Girls Learn” was ending.

Fuck the black First Lady and anything she liked. That’s all that matters to them, saying that. Trump is a human foam finger at a rally for the most hateful sports team in the world.

A.

Sometimes It’s Impossibly Depressing

That these people have jobs, and I’m including Mike “The Next Hurricane Will Give the GOP a Katrina Do-Over” Allen in “these people,” though to be honest the evidence he’s even a mammal is kind of sketch:

President Trump got a 100-day gift on Sunday from the paper he had called “totally failing” at a rally the night before: The New York Times’ Sunday Review began a campaign to get readers to “Say Something Nice About Donald Trump,” and a cover story of the section respectfully channeled the Steve Bannon world view.
What’s going on here: Neither of the pieces appeared to be sarcastic. Both appear to be part of the paper’s effort to be more relevant in the Trump era.

Bret Stephens, a conservative columnist hired from the Wall Street Journal, debuted in Saturday’s paper, calling for more balance in the climate-change debate.

At the time Stephens was hired, James Bennet, the paper’s editorial page editor, told the Huffington Post’s Michael Calderone it was an effort to “further widen” the range of views the paper presents to readers.

It’s just sad watching the ass-kissing that’s going on, because: It’s not going to save you. Trump isn’t gonna be nicer and his people aren’t gonna stop screaming for your deaths in ovens (hey, remember that “range of views,” it was like last week) and no one is going to praise your courage and your might. It’s not going to do any good, PLUS your commentary will be a laughingstock. You’re not earning anything.

Just fucking get it together. We don’t have time for two, three years of trying to play nice before you can relax into the comfy recliner that is your horse-race coverage for 2020. We don’t have time for you to relearn the multiplication tables every damn summer. Republicans hate you, that’s not going to change, so as long as it’s a fact of life why not do something with it? Why keep trying to be loved?

I don’t see the upside for ya here. Even Mike Allen, who as I may have mentioned six thousand times is a piece of shit’s piece of shit, is grossed out by your behavior and that is saying something.

A.

Local Tool Can’t Handle Kids Asking Questions

It never ceases to amaze me that the GOP is the party of big swinging dicks, of Strong Defense Daddy, of Git ‘Er Done, because when a girl who weighs 90 pounds soaking wet asks her local rep to do something like hold a town hall meeting, that GOP rep freaks out like he’s just seen a sea monster: 

A group of University of Illinois students gathered in D.C. Tuesday to confront Congressman Rodney Davis.

The group visited Davis’ office voicing some of their concerns about higher education.

 The organizer recorded a Facebook live of the confrontation which had more than 8,000 views as of Wednesday.
Students asked Davis why he wouldn’t meet with them for a town hall meeting and in the video.

“I’m not surprised,” organizer, Anna Sekiguchi, said. “He was extremely dismissive and condescending and I think that speaks to how he views his constituents and specifically students.”

Davis then took to Facebook himself to post a longer video of him acting like a whiny asshole, along with more whining assholery:

Last night, you may have seen a story on FOX 55/27 Illinois about University of Illinois Urbana Champaign and University of Illinois Chicago students who came to my DC office for a photo Anna, Scheduling Director for the Illini Democrats, had requested. What the story didn’t mention was the students did get their photo and why the students were eventually asked to leave my office. Here is the entire Facebook Live video filmed by the students. I am happy to meet and speak with students but shouting and aggressive behavior is not productive.

“Aggressive behavior?” Again, the biggest person in that delegation is somebody I’m pretty sure this guy’s mom could take in a fight.

The full video, which he thinks exonerates him, shows him immediately getting turned off after realizing the woman speaking to him is a Democrat. He shows her card to the camera several times, saying “Democrats” in a “/redpill MGTOW commenter” voice, refuses to engage beyond that, and splits from the office like it’s on fire. He’s refusing to talk to his constituents, they went to him, he acted like a giant baby, they made chicken noises, and he fled.

Tell me again how we need Republicans in charge so that we can feel protected.

A.

Americans Can’t Have Nice Health Care

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

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

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

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

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

THAT is the reality.

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

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

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

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

Just die. It’s cheaper.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A.

You Also Can’t Suck

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

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

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

Unless you’re Facebook or Google, that is.

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

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

A.

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

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

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

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

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

A.

Richard Cohen Finds a Nut

HAHAHA THIS IS ALL SO FUNNY RICHARD COHEN: 

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

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

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

The column gets dumber.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A.

Even For Politico This Is So Gross: Happy Easter!

This isn’t how God works: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I hate our political journalism right now.

A.

Even the Bald Eagles Have Fucking Had It with Trump

They’ve declared war on us: 

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

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

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

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

A.