Category Archives: Athenae

Look Who Just Showed Up, Everybody!

It’s the anthropologists of Real America, again, making sure we hear from a guy who carries Grover Norquist’s bags around! 

In 1997, Patterson was riding in a car that was hit by a drunk driver, and the bones of his left arm were shattered into several dozen pieces. After six surgeries, he suffered permanent nerve damage, decreased arm mobility, and no future as a closeup magician. Having acquired his G.E.D., he enrolled in classes at the University of Miami. The quality of Patterson’s writing impressed an instructor, who persuaded him to apply to Columbia. The year that Patterson turned thirty, he became an Ivy League freshman. He majored in classics. Every night, he translated four hundred lines of ancient Greek and Latin. In class, he often argued with professors and students.

“The default view seemed to be that Western civilization is inherently bad,” he told me. In one history seminar, when students discussed the evils of the Western slave trade, Patterson pointed out that many cultures had practiced slavery, but that nobody decided to eradicate it until individuals in the West took up the cause. The class booed him. In Patterson’s opinion, most people at Columbia believed that only liberal views were legitimate, whereas his experiences in Grand Junction, and his textbook lessons from magic, indicated otherwise. (“States of mind are no different than feats of manual dexterity. Both can be learned through patience and diligence.”)

“Look, I’m a high-school dropout who went to an Ivy League school,” Patterson said. “I’ve seen both sides. The people at Columbia are not smarter.” He continued, “I went to Columbia at the height of the Iraq War. There were really legitimate arguments against going into Iraq. But I found that the really good arguments against going were made by William F. Buckley, Bob Novak, and Pat Buchanan. What I saw on the left was all slogans and group thought and clichés.”

Patterson graduated with honors and a reinvigorated sense of political conviction. For the past seven years, he’s worked for conservative nonprofit organizations, most recently in anti-union activism. In 2013, the United Auto Workers tried to unionize a Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, where Patterson demonstrated a knack for billboards and catchphrases. On one sign, he paired a photograph of a hollowed-out Packard plant with the words “Detroit: Brought to You by the UAW.” Another billboard said “United Auto Workers,” with the word “Auto” crossed out and replaced by “Obama,” written in red.

In Patterson’s opinion, such issues are cultural and emotional as much as economic. He believes that unions once served a critical function in American industry, but that the leadership, like that of the Democratic Party, has drifted too far from its base. Union heads back liberal candidates such as Obama and Clinton while dues-paying members tend to hold very different views. Patterson also thinks that free trade, which he once embraced as a conservative, has damaged American industries, and he now supports some more protectionist measures. His message resonated in Chattanooga, where, in 2014, workers delivered a stinging defeat to the U.A.W. Since then, Patterson has continued his advocacy in communities across the country, under the auspices of Americans for Tax Reform, which was founded by the conservative advocate Grover Norquist. “So now I bust unions for Grover Norquist with a classics degree and as a former magician,” he told me.

He’s a flack. You sent a reporter to the Real America, NewGoddamnYorker, and you found a GOP flack with a funny backstory, and you used him as an example of why Trump won. You let him say a thousand words that all boil down to racism (unions were fine until black people and brown immigrants started to benefit) and this is how Trump is transforming rural America? This asshole lives in Washington DC, no matter where he came from, and he’s paid to push a line you’ve bit on. Nice job.

The entire piece is an exercise in how to let white people avoid saying “racism,” perhaps best exemplified in this paragraph:

Before Trump took office, people I met in Grand Junction emphasized pragmatic reasons for supporting him. The economy was in trouble, and Trump was a businessman who knew how to make rational, profit-oriented decisions. Supporters almost always complained about some aspect of his character, but they also believed that these flaws were likely to help him succeed in Washington. “I’m not voting for him to be my pastor,” Kathy Rehberg, a local real-estate agent, said. “I’m voting for him to be President. If I have rats in my basement, I’m going to try to find the best rat killer out there. I don’t care if he’s ugly or if he’s sociable. All I care about is if he kills rats.”

That’s not loaded language at all when you’re a white lady talking about a candidate who campaigned on promises to boot illegal immigrants from the country.

These people similarly seem really nice:

The calculus seemed to have shifted: Trump’s negative qualities, which once had been described as a means to an end, now had value of their own. The point wasn’t necessarily to get things done; it was to retaliate against the media and other enemies. This had always seemed fundamental to Trump’s appeal, but people had been less likely to express it so starkly before he entered office. “For those of us who believe that the media has been corrupt for a lot of years, it’s a way of poking at the jellyfish,” Karen Kulp told me in late April. “Just to make them mad.”

If you think this is new, you must have slept through the last 40 fucking years. Republican legislators have been making their bones attacking journalists and universities for DECADES. Until recently, they didn’t have a compliant media machine of their own to amplify their resentments, whip them up to turn on their neighbors white and otherwise, and suppress the votes of those they thought were looking down on them.

For as long as there have been public universities and newspapers, there have been assholes attacking them as anti-American. Once upon a time, though, we didn’t mount expeditions into the assholes’ native territory with the aim of understanding the people who wanted us dead.

In Grand Junction, it was often dispiriting to see such enthusiasm for a figure who could become the ultimate political boom-and-bust. There was idealism, too, and so many pro-Trump opinions were the fruit of powerful and legitimate life experiences. “We just assume that if someone voted for Trump that they’re racist and uneducated,” Jeriel Brammeier, the twenty-six-year-old chair of the local Democratic Party, told me. “We can’t think about it like that.” People have reasons for the things that they believe, and the intensity of their experiences can’t be taken for granted; it’s not simply a matter of having Fox News on in the background. But perhaps this is a way to distinguish between the President and his supporters. Almost everybody I met in Grand Junction seemed more complex, more interesting, and more decent than the man who inspires them.

Maybe they did. But if you are truly so dim as to think that they wouldn’t seem more complex, more interesting and more decent TO YOU because YOU’RE A WHITE GUY, I have a membership to Mar-A-Lago to sell you.

They seemed better than the man they voted for? Too bad. They voted for him. I don’t care if they’re racist and uneducated in real life or if they have a bunch of graduate degrees and ten black friends, because they voted for racism and stupidity anyway.

They don’t want people looking down on them? They can fix that really easily by BEING BETTER HUMAN BEINGS.

This whole story is a mess, and the only interesting aspect of it is the idea that voting for Trump is performative, something done not to improve anyone’s life but to make the voter feel powerful and good in a world that tries to snuff such feelings out. I wonder if anyone’s ever made that point before. 

A.

Every Winter That Ever Came Has Ended: Game of Thrones Thread

She’s a wolf. Forget that at your peril.

Spoilers within.

Continue reading

The Uncertainty Principle

I’ve been thinking about this for a while:

Trump is an old racist dumbass. I know it’s fashionable to psychoanalyze him but he’s an old racist dumbass who rose to prominence through inherited wealth and a messy divorce. I know 20 of him and so do you. They don’t interact with anyone different from them not because they objectively hate non-white people or would even be rude in person to one, but because they don’t have to interact with them, and if they don’t have to, why should they?

 

They don’t travel, not even domestically. They don’t seek out information on their own. They’ll call a family member to ask something they could Google in ten seconds. They’ll ask who somebody is on Facebook, where a search box appears six millimeters from where they’re entering the question in their status update. They’re comfortable with media that reinforces what they already think, and they don’t ever put themselves in situations where they’re unsure of where they stand.

They’re terrified of not knowing things.

It’s why the idea of gender fluidity (the whole bathroom thing) makes them insane. They need to be able to put you in a box on sight and feel threatened when they can’t. It’s why all their stories about race relations start with “this one guy I KNOW” because evidence doesn’t exist. Everything is personal experience, because learning requires vulnerability.

It’s why they don’t have dinner with women who aren’t their wives, not because women are evil temptresses and they’re uncontrollable sex monsters, but because they’re not certain of what to do in that situation. They need to know The Rules. It’s the moral panics of the last 50 years, distilled down to one man.

Of course he deserves a medal for eating dinner in a strange place where he doesn’t speak the dominant language. If most of his voters did that, they’d feel unbearably exotic, and talk about it forever like they were Shackleton at the Pole. This is how most of them act about going to a new grocery store, come on.

This isn’t me saying you simply must go to Europe (or eat fancy lunch meat, Bobo). There are plenty of places I haven’t been and plenty more I would honestly be nervous about going. Every single day of my life I panic about learning an entirely new skill set and spend a good 20 minutes hiding in the bathroom trying not to hyperventilate.

To exist in the world right now requires a shitload of learning and catching up and a hell of a lot of straight white people who are now being confronted with other perspectives and slapped down a lot. Living in the world requires you, in a way it didn’t once upon a time, to be very very comfortable with being uncertain.

And along comes Trump, who says I’m gonna make America certain again.

It’s racist and it’s dumb, but mostly it’s just old. And I know, #NotAllOldPeople, but really, #LotsAndLotsOfOldPeople, right now. I hear people my own goddamn age (and I am tail end of Gen X, whippersnappers) complaining about smart mouths on young girls and pretending we can’t wrap our heads around a gender-neutral artist or two and basically acting like it’s the world’s problem that we’re tired.

It’s not the world’s problem that we’re tired and that some of us are old. It’s just the way things go. Plenty of old people (GODDAMN, JIMMY CARTER) are still finding ways to work and contribute and push and change and make things better. I would be a lot more understanding of this desire to lay down the burden of uncertainty if there weren’t so many examples of people saying fuck that, while I’ve got breath in me I’m gonna fight.

Even if I don’t know everything. Even if I’m tired. Even if I can’t believe I still have to protest this shit. Even if it’s mind-boggling to me that we have managed to find someone worse than George W. Bush, worse than Richard Nixon. Even if I’d rather be watching old TV shows from the early 2000s because that’s when shit made sense. So many people aren’t taking the opportunity of their own uncertainty to hate what they don’t know. So many people are standing up to their own fears and those of others.

Trump sat down in an unfamiliar situation. Go on with your bad self, Donald. We’ll be standing up in one until you’re gone.

A.

 

Say It With Me … RACISM!

I just can’t wrap my mind around why the GOP won’t defend the fundamental conservatism of Obamacare: 

Republicans are engaged in a brutal civil war between hard-liners and moderates as they struggle to craft legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare. The episode invites an almost existential question for the GOP: Why, after seven years of nearly endless war against Obamacare, is the party unable to deliver a more conservative policy that provides access to health care to a similar number of Americans?

Give me a minute. It’ll come to me.

As a life-long Republican who has spent months contemplating this question, I’ve come to an answer that will be hard for many conservatives to swallow: Passing an Obamacare replacement is difficult because the existing system is fundamentally a collection of moderately conservative policies.

But it was championed by a black president! HOW can it be conservative? HOW can it be familiar to, say, a Mitt Romney or a John McCain? How, when it has the fingerprints of a man named Barack all over it?

To be sure, the suggestion that Obamacare is based on conservative principles is anathema to the modern incarnation of the GOP. Opposition to the legislation has become so central to the party’s agenda that simply writing these words will surely brand me as a Republican apostate.

I can’t imagine why that would be true.

If you force insurance companies to cover people who are already sick, you need market interventions such as the individual mandate and sufficiently generous tax subsidies to prevent a death spiral. And for people with few resources, these subsidies follow the wisdom of Reagan and provide Medicaid coverage.

Unfortunately, these marketplace realities run afoul of the Republican Party’s newly developed preternatural love for completely unfettered markets — a love that is simply incompatible with reality and our party’s history.

No, your party’s history is much more compatible with virulent racism and horror stories about black people mooching off the system. You suck Ronald Reagan’s legacy long and hard throughout this piece but fail to mention that his anti-government rhetoric relied entirely on a worldview driven by fear of nonwhites.

Where you said “love for completely unfettered markets?” You meant “love for gerrymandered votes that can only be won by promising to punish poor minorities and women.”

I have many problems with Obamacare, but they don’t stem from a belief that any government intervention in markets is a nonstarter. Such a belief cannot be, and frankly has never been, the litmus test for policy in the Republican Party.

You sweet summer child. Right now the litmus test for policy is “will it piss off my liberal sister-in-law?” A litmus test based on actual government intervention would be a step UP. I swear, we’re gonna spend the next 4 years (if we’re unlucky, the next 40) twisting ourselves into knots to pretend none of what’s happening is driven by racist spite when that’s all our politics are anymore.

A.

This Entire Story on Jim Acosta is Bullshit

Remember during the heyday of the Daily Show, when reporters would anonymously carp at the supposed freedom Jon Stewart had to call bullshit on bullshit? The stifled contemptuous jealousy with which they talked about him and his team? “Oh, he’s a comedian, not a journalist, and he’s on a cable network, not at an august publication run by someone with a numeral after his name, so he can question authority and we can’t, woe is helpless little us.”

Here we go again. Paul Farhi of the Washington Post is JUST ASKING if maybe Jim Acosta treating the White House with skepticism is rude: 

Acosta’s remarks aren’t just blunt; they’re unusual. Reporters are supposed to report, not opine. Yet Acosta’s disdain has flowed openly, raising a question about how far a reporter — supposedly a neutral arbiter of facts, not a commenter on them — can and should go.

Really? It raises a question? All by itself? Nobody raised that question? Nobody who wants to be named, anyway? That’s okay, just put the question in the headline and pretend it came from God himself. No worries.

A curious sidelight to all this has been the relatively tepid support Acosta has received from his fellow White House journalists. Only a few have publicly spoken out in support of him. There have been no walkouts or calls for boycotting the briefings (although Acosta has suggested “collective action” to get the cameras back). The White House Correspondents’ Association has confined its agitation to behind-the-scenes negotiations with Spicer and several short, general statements.

So Acosta put himself out there, calling bullshit when he smelled it, and nobody else in the cowardly White House press corps jumped to his defense, so that automatically makes … Acosta questionable? HOW? What the hell kind of morally bankrupt construction is this? Is someone only right about stuff when everybody validates their point of view? Is he only correct if more than six other reporters back him up? Is that how you determine who’s on the side of the angels and who’s going to hell?

I’m really confused about this, Paul Farhi, because I’m old enough to have gone to journalism school and been taught about a trade that specialized in holding power to account. Nobody mentioned a popularity contest among our peers, and let’s be honest, most reporters fucking hate each other anyway. The good ones always have half a dozen enemies in the business.

Jim Acosta is not proven right or wrong by counting how many of his colleagues like his tone of voice. Even if he was, if you read the entire story, Farhi doesn’t even quote anyone who’s all that mad at Acosta. Farhi quotes Spicer, who of course is going to shit-talk Acosta, and he quotes Fox:

In fact, the pushback against Acosta from some quarters of the media has been more striking. On a recent Fox News segment, for example, former Fox News White House reporter Ed Henry said Acosta’s on-air commentary had “crossed the line” into opinion.

Henry then burst into flames, as is customary when irony flips the switch on the XM42.

How exactly is it striking, Farhi, that a Trump-friendly network thinks bullshit-opposing journalists are just de trop? Wouldn’t you expect Fox to say that anyone not actively licking the president’s boots must be some kind of communist traitor somehow? Isn’t that what they’ve spent the past two Republican administrations saying? Is this NEW for them somehow?

This is my favorite part of the story, though. It’s the SECOND TO LAST PARAGRAPH WHICH DISPROVES THE LEAD.

In fact, Acosta didn’t go easy on Trump and Spicer’s predecessors; his questioning of Obama press secretary Josh Earnest and Obama himself was often highlighted in conservative media accounts and in Republican National Committee emails. During the IRS scandal, for instance, he asked Earnest whether the White House’s claim that it had lost important emails was like saying “the dog ate my homework.” He also pressed Obama on his characterization of the Islamic State as “the J.V. team” and the president’s contention that he hadn’t underestimated the terror organization. “Why can’t we take out these bastards?” Acosta asked.

So … the entire premise of your story is bullshit, then? Acosta has said nothing provably false or even all that inflammatory, Acosta’s boss is really happy with his work, Acosta’s main critics are administration officials and one Fox jackass, so … why didn’t you spike this piece of shit? Why is it out there with a vague … this raises questions and shadows are swirling in the ether of nothingness in which disembodied observers might opine that we can’t ever know the truth?

What’s the good of keeping democracy from dying in darkness if you’re just going to drown it in stupidity?

A.

Want to #Resist, Rich Liberals? Buy Some Fucking Newspapers

This was rightly roasted all over the place this week: 

Bigger government handouts won’t win working-class voters back. This is the fallacy of the left, believing that voters just need to be shown how much they are getting in government benefits. In reality, these voters see themselves as being penalized for maintaining the basic values of hard work, religion and family.

And I made the point myself that “Democrats” like Penn have no idea where the center is in this country and no financial incentive to find out. If they can cash in without providing any kind of data, why would they do the work necessary to prove their (bullshit) hypothesis?

Move to the center, Democrats! Because if you nominate a war hero, he certainly won’t be characterized as a traitor! If you nominate a woman so hawkish she makes Angela Merkel look like a pacifist, she certainly won’t be derided as weak! If you run a biracial constitutional lawyer whose ideas would be right at home in the Eisenhower administration, he’s certainly not going to be called a secret Muslim terrorist sympathizer!

This idea that the appeal of the GOP to the average voter is about substance is just adorable. We could go back in time, nominate Bernie Sanders, he could talk nonstop about manufacturing jobs and Real Americans in the Rust Belt, and by the time wingnut media were done with him he’d be That Socialist Jew and he’d have had to denounce every single black friend he’d ever made.

If the future of the Democratic Party is conversion of Republican voters, nobody is ever going to be good enough.

My biggest problem with that Penn piece and this WTF nonsense is that what Democrats need isn’t another retooling by somebody’s fucking cousin who’s a brand ambassador. They don’t need to call abortion icky or abandon whatever the fuck these rich white tools think is “identity politics” this week. They don’t need a white man with a Southern accent and a picturesque farmer/coal miner background (though if we wanna run Jimmy again, I’m game if he is).

They need their own fucking printing press and they should go buy one. Plus a few dozen TV stations and some local radio networks. Maybe save some media execs from themselves.

Without those things, it doesn’t matter if Democrats move left, right or center if there’s a 24-7 media machine screaming that all Dems including YOUR SENATOR INSERT NAME HERE is a pinko commie babykilling fairy peacefreak who wants to give secret welfare to black people by raising your taxes.

It doesn’t matter how many “Rust Belt correspondent” anthropologists big papers parachute in to gawk at the rubes and come up with euphemisms for racsim. They’ll never be able to convince people that “the media” aren’t the bad guys when the only media people consume is anti-Democratic, anti-dissent, anti-media media.

It’s not like there aren’t properties for sale. Good, profitable properties (I will NEVER fucking understand shuttering a profitable business, never in my life) that are doing important work in places where Americans desperately need a voice for public education, organized labor, a living wage, alleviation of poverty, universal health care and all the things we claim are so important to us every four years.

So maybe some of the people who will shovel cash at Penn and this WTF bullshit can wheel their barrels full of money just a little farther down the street and buy themselves the message they know isn’t getting out. It didn’t matter in the last half-dozen elections, presidential and otherwise, that Democrats across the board DID have policies and priorities to fix health care, to retrain American workers, to raise the minimum wage, to provide public education. Nobody heard a word they were saying.

You let Republicans do all the talking and people are going to vote for Republicans every time.

A.

Proof Through the Night

I meant to set off fireworks last night. We were staying with friends for the long weekend, and Kick had sacked out despite the re-enactment of Yorktown going on in the street. Mr. A had purchased about $75 of NOT AT ALL ILLEGAL fireworks and we were gonna shoot them off the back porch after eating a metric ton of grilled meat.

You know, the way Washington and Hamilton intended.

But instead I fell asleep on the couch inside, far from bug bites and possible drone-fines and my beer-drinking compatriots. I was sunburned and my back still hasn’t fully healed from its most recent injury (I see a specialist next week) and I’d had way too much wine at dinner.

We’d driven five hours to see a woman who has been my best friend since I was 8 years old, who hasn’t lived in the same state as me and mine since we were 12 but who nevertheless has been a constant in my life for three decades. We drove through cornfields spotted with MAGA signs, and I spent four days doing my best not to check the news or read stuff online or text anybody. I’ve lost friends lately, and I felt like circling the wagons. I had the luxury of being able to ignore the roaring outside and I took it. There are so many things I’ll never be able to repay this girl for, not if I win the biggest lottery in all the world, and add this weekend to the list.

Sometimes it’s hard to remember what this looks like, America, in the aggregate. The view from space, from a rocket’s height, bathed in that red glare. It’s hard to remember what there is down here to love. The long view isn’t something any of us can afford right now. We’re all just trying to keep ourselves together and I’m doing a bad job of it lately, and I don’t think I’m unusual in that. I want to sing you all an off-key barroom ballad about our flag still being there. I want to sing it to myself. Everyone I know is so goddamn tired.

For the first time in a long time, I took my raging twitchiness and buried it in the laughter of a little kid running through a sprinkler and a cat to pet and parks to walk in. Apparently at midnight they’d burned through all the pyrotechnics, saw me asleep on the couch, covered me with a blanket and tiptoed upstairs.

We drove home with this on the radio. Sometimes it’s hard to remember what there is down here to love and sometimes I know exactly what there is for sure.

A.

Emojis, Journalism, and Why Being Cute Isn’t Work

We’re all clowning on this dumbass today, but I want to point out a few things:

It’s not just the sociopathic detachment that says a smiley face is for people losing their health insurance, getting kicked out of their nursing homes, or having their chemo suspended. It’s that in addition to being monstrous, it’s bad journalism. It does not accomplish what journalism is meant to accomplish. It doesn’t adequately inform the public. (I know, but wiser-than-thou cynicism is not a plan.)

This has bothered me for a long damn time, the “pants on fire” and “four Pinocchios” and “our truth-o-meter says” trend by which we rate politicians’ statements. When we put a fucking cartoon character next to things the president of the United Goddamn States says out loud in front of God and everyone, we’re conveying that this is only worth a snippet of your attention, that you can put a stamp on it and forget it.

It doesn’t tell us what the motivation is for lying, who profits by the lies, who is likely to be hurt. It doesn’t cover the patterns and histories and relevant constituencies of the lies, or their consequences. It’s imprecise, and it’s lazy.

We’re also assuming that these “ratings” have any effect on the politicians whatsoever. Now I don’t subscribe to the idea that calling someone out has to change them to be “worth it;” that way a madness of calculating your own influence lies. You call someone out because you see bullshit and you have a voice (and a camera). But I think we seize on these “ooh, his policy proposal was rated PANTS ON FIRE” and assume it’ll leave a mark. It hasn’t. It won’t. This isn’t holding liars accountable. It’s just putting them in categories and sticking a sticker on the boxes.

So if it doesn’t inform the public, it doesn’t hold liars accountable except in the most academic sense, it’s imprecise, AND IT MAKES YOU SOUND LIKE A FUCKING MORONIC SECOND GRADER WHO HASN’T LEARNED THE CONCEPT OF EMPATHY, why are we still doing this, journalists? Knock it off.

Schmucks.

A.

‘if we all are willing to be okay with helping others and being helped’

There’s a whole thread here worth reading but this is the part I want to talk about, as a way of addressing with the sensitivity our GOP masters demand the shortcomings of their latest attempt at legislation:

Every night, as a lullaby, I sing Kick Forever Young.

May God bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others and let others do for you
May you build a ladder to the stars and climb on every rung
And may you stay forever young

In the dark sleepless nights, I often pondered that third line. Its latter half. I know the rationale behind doing for others. Why would you wish to have someone let others do for them? Why would you want that for them? And what I settled on in those thin hours was that accepting help without fear of it was a grace we make far too little of.

You have to be able to reach your hand out. You have to know your own powerlessness if you’re going to survive it. You have to know that you can be at others’ mercy, utterly, and that you will be okay. You have to know that you will not be okay, and you will be okay.

How many of us are afraid to reach out, to not just help but be helped? How many of us have told ourselves, have been told, over and over, for years, that we have to wall ourselves up, wall ourselves off? That nobody’s gonna help us, that nothing’s gonna change? I mean it, how many? The whole world’s out to get us, that’s the message on every TV screen every night, so stay inside and be afraid.

It’s no wonder we’ve rationalized it. Otherwise you’d look at the world — traffic accidents, guns, carcinogens in the air, a sidewalk crack sticking up for your foot to catch — and go stark raving mad inside a second.

If an illness is not something bad that happens to anyone, but some deep inner flaw, some error in judgment or planning or faith, then your illness cannot happen to me, a virtuous hard-working person who Is Good. If you can be made to somehow deserve what happened to you (and injuries do just happen; two years ago I could run three miles a day) then nothing will happen to me.

I think a lot of the rank-and-file GOP “personal responsibility” rhetoric you hear from people who are likely to be hurt by the same policies of austerity they voted for comes from that fear. I think a lot of them are convinced that if they just shove the suffocation that is knowing human frailty into a suitcase and bury it in the yard, they will be fine. I think a lot of them quake with the knowledge that this is all a crap shoot, we are all one phone call away from disaster, all the time, always.

No one, a very wise friend once explained to me patiently, wants to think of themselves as having benefitted OR suffered from a system beyond their control. They’re afraid to help others because they’re afraid to be helped. Being helped means being weak, and being weak means losing. I think a lot of them are afraid.

Some of them, of course, are just horrific motherfucking assholes who’d sell their own fucked mothers for a tax cut and the chance to kick a hobo. However, I am trying to have the compassion our GOP critics want us to have for their feelings and sincere beliefs, for their philosophies and needs and wants. I am not being mean; this is the most generous possible view: They are cowards.

Cowards won’t let others do for them. Cowards don’t put themselves at the world’s mercy. Cowards don’t admit to the randomness of fate. Cowards lock their doors and pretend that there is a slavering horde out there and that a door or a lock will stop it. Cowards can’t admit they need help. Cowards can’t accept it, and cowards certainly can’t offer it. Cowards think alone protects them. Cowards think they’re alone.

There is no way to live your life without others. There is no way to be alone. Contact is inevitable, leading to information bleed. Every story ever told is a hand reaching out to another, saying see, I too am here. It’s not that no man is an island; you can set yourself apart. But you’ll do it in the most strenuous opposition to your every human instinct. We are built to love and care for each other. That’s all we’re for. We forget that at our peril.

When we forget it, this is what happens. We take the only thing that is all of us together taking care of each other — government, as those filthy hippies like to call it — and we just decide to fail it on purpose. We turn on our own, on ourselves, and we make up lies about imperfect systems being worse than us all being together and trying to fix things. We vote for people who promise to drown us in the bathtub, burn us to the ground, make us disappear.

We’re so afraid of doing for others, letting others do for us. We build a ladder, but it isn’t to the stars.

A.

Get Out of the Nursing Home, Grandma!

I thought we revered the Greatest Generation: 

ORANGE, Va. — Alice Jacobs, 90, once owned a factory and horses. She has raised four children and buried two husbands.

But years in an assisted living center drained her savings, and now she relies on Medicaid to pay for her care at Dogwood Village, a nonprofit, county-owned nursing home here.

“You think you’ve got enough money to last all your life, and here I am,” Ms. Jacobs said.

Medicaid pays for most of the 1.4 million people in nursing homes, like Ms. Jacobs. It covers 20 percent of all Americans and 40 percent of poor adults.

On Thursday, Senate Republicans joined their House colleagues in proposing steep cuts to Medicaid, part of the effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Conservatives hope to roll back what they see as an expanding and costly entitlement. But little has been said about what would happen to older Americans in nursing homes if the cuts took effect.

Add “caring for the generation that punched Nazis IN PERSON” to the things we can’t afford anymore.

A.

People Live Here

Our real estate agent looked around our condo and sniffed. I’ve never actually seen someone sniff, in real life, in the dismissive, Edith Wharton Disapproves Of Your Social Status sense. She sniffed, this woman, and said, “This is terribly cluttered.”

She was standing in the living room I’d just spent four hours cleaning, the room which also serves as “the room where Kick keeps all her toys” and “occasionally, my office” and “a recovery room from all my major back injuries of which there have been many” and she was looking dismayed. There were toys in colorful bins, antique typewriters on the fireplace mantle, books on all the shelves, a large rug we’d just had cleaned.

“You’ll have to get rid of a lot of things.”

What this disapproving woman didn’t realize was that we had spent the past two months paring down our collection of books, stuffed animals, clothes, furniture, dishes, travel coffee mugs and just about everything else we owned. We had filled an entire storage space with my grandmother’s furniture and the contents of three closets. We thought we HAD gotten rid of a lot of things.

She shook her head. In order to sell a small condo for a reasonable price in our neighborhood, one has to STAGE it. It must be freshly painted, impeccably finished, with two perfect polished apples upon the sideboard. There can be books on the shelves, but not too many, and nothing “divisive.” Two or three towels in the linen closet at most and those, brand new and unused. Photos are fine, but nothing personal.

People need to picture themselves in your space, the agent explained. Not you.

It must appear that no one lives here at all.

So we spent the next two months painting, and packing, and harrying people into helping us bring even more of our stuff over to storage. We shopped for neutral colored bedding. We made a game of it with Kick: Stand in the corner and try to throw all the stuffies into the box! We’re not getting rid of them, they’re just going on a trip! We preened and primped the place. We staged.

Our condo went on the market five weeks ago. People come in for showings, for open houses, and leave feedback about issues we cannot address. The bathroom is too small, there is no central air, a parking space is not included in the fee. Where is the washer and dryer, they ask, and upon hearing it is in another section of the building they blanch and back away. NOT THAT. First-time buyers don’t want to fix things, the real estate agent said, trying to get us to do more repairs before we listed. They want everything done. When we moved into this place we stripped miles of woodwork, painted and repainted and tiled and refinished.

Every weekend we clean and stage again. And every weekend I think about how ridiculous it is to expect people to act like their lives are an HGTV episode, like anyone with a toddler is able to have thin-stemmed crystal just lying around, or keep the walls free of fingerprints.

People live here, I keep saying to the real estate agent, who by now treats us like juvenile delinquents in need of tough love. Is it really a drawback to know that? People live here.

I feel like most people would get that. Life isn’t perfect. Life is disorderly. Life is persistent; it will find a way to make a mess five seconds after you’ve cleaned one up, and the more life you have around you, the messier it is. Friends, family, kids, pets, hobbies, dreams, work, love, entertainment, joy, rest, they all take up space. They all make clutter that isn’t easily confined to underbed boxes and back-of-closet bins. They’re inconvenient and sometimes gross. They can’t be staged.

And oh, have we had life in this house.

If I staged my house the way I want to stage it, I would leave some of the stuffies lying around, the stray puzzle pieces, some apple peelings on the counter. I would unpack my pasta machine and the toaster. And I would leave photos of us: Me, Mr. A, Kick. Photos from her christening, when we shook off our sleep deprivation and packed 30 people into the house for cake and champagne. Photos from the orphan Thanksgiving we threw one year for a dozen colleagues of Mr. A’s who came from all over the world and were stuck with nothing to do during the holiday. Photos from our tenth anniversary party, which spilled out of the house and off our deck and out into the alley because so many people came.

I would leave a note, too, next to the inoffensive flower arrangement in its recently purchased pitcher-vase.

The note would say, I know this house is messy and the bedding isn’t fashionable. I know it isn’t like the gleaming new construction towers you see down the road. I know if you stretch out your arms in both directions you can touch all four walls of the bathroom. I know the air conditioner rattles and sometimes you have to smack the microwave just right to get it to start. I know you probably want a blank canvas on which to project your dreams of home and I don’t begrudge you that. I would give it to you if I could.

But people live here. They had a guest room for people to crash in when they were done with college or between jobs or detoxing from political campaigns, when they needed advice or to recover from a hangover or a good laugh. The people who live here needed things, and people came here to give them.

They had pets and loved them. They gained friends and lost them. They learned here. They suffered here, too, and grieved losses, licked wounds. A child took her first steps here, and art was made here, and three of the five neighbors are truly stellar human beings. If they opened their windows they could hear music being practiced and played, trucks rumbling past, the rush and hum of the trains going over the viaducts.

People live here. They should leave marks on a place. A life should leave deep tracks, one of my favorite poems begins, and we see all tracks as damage. We see every nick as as indication of something wrong, something bad, an omen, a terrible sign. We don’t see it as a sign that this is a place where real things took place. Where real people lived.

A.

Legislation Needs to Actually Do Stuff

For shit’s sake, THIS: 

The Senate bill, like the House bill, has two aims: to complete the final act of the Republicans’ six-year-long performance art piece, “Repeal and Replace Obamacare,” and to cut taxes for the very rich.

[snip]

Now that they have it all, though, the only thing they’re missing is an actual plan. Rather than push for a viable alternative like Medicare for All, or concede the ACA represents the best solution for insuring more people in a private insurance system and work to remedy its flaws, Republicans have decided to insure fewer people while shoveling money towards the rich. But they will be able to say that they finished their greatest work: They repealed and replaced. That’s why House Republicans passed their repeal largely without reading it, and before its effects could be scored by the Congressional Budget Office. And no one captured the sentiment better than President-elect Trump in January. When asked at a press conference what his plan to repeal and replace Obamacare was, he offered the perfect answer: “It will be repeal and replace.”

But CNN will indulge them if this blobfish of a bill passes, with a FINALLY A WIN FOR TRUMP AND RYAN AND MCCONNELL, as if they’re the dumbass kid on the team who finally hit a run in T-ball. That’s all they know, and it’s all that matters to them now.

The abortion fights taught them this. Say what you like about the movement pro-lifers and I will say plenty, but on their laziest days they work harder at supporting their cause than do the politicians they elect.

To get voters, and donors, and get re-elected, the GOP didn’t have to address any societal problems related to women’s bodily autonomy or the economic realities of bearing children or the thorny medical issues that arise in trying to balance the life of a woman and the life of a fetus. They just had to show up at church and bleat about IT’S A CHILD STOPS A BEATING HEART IRRESPONSIBLE SLUTS PUNISHMENT ARGLE BLARGE FLAP. That was all they needed to do to win, and it worked, for the past 40 years. They won.

There’s going to be so much winning.

We’re tired of it, that’s for sure. We’re tired of people in office who don’t know how to do anything, these know-nothing Teawads who primaried actual adults (evil adults, but still) and need to have recent history explained to them like they’re children. Who think withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement is good because fuck you. Who think you can yell North Korea into becoming another country. And who don’t have to care about what’s in health care legislation, to vote for it.

We’re tired of all the winning.

A.

Someone Told People to Resent Others

This thread is worth reading, referencing as it does the ongoing “resentment politics” that have devastated Scott Walker’s Wisconsin:

As I keep saying, people do not independently come to the conclusion that all minorities are T-bone buying welfare cheats dragging on the system and burning down the ‘hood. Someone TELLS them that. We can’t just accept that outlook as the reality and address it with policy without squarely facing who is pushing the message and how they are doing it.

Because until we counter the voices yelling at them through their speakers, it won’t matter if Democrats DO come out strongly in favor of Medicare for All, if they remind people they were the only ones who gave even half a fuck about reining in rapacious health care companies, if they run ads every other second touting free community college and support for organized labor. It won’t matter if they all turn into St. Bernie Sanders, or for that matter St. Hillary Clinton as she was instead of as she was portrayed. It won’t matter if we run Obama 12 more times.

So long as there is a chorus of wingnut dickbags on Fox and talk radio (and talk radio, in Wisconsin especially, is a mental cancer) telling them Democrats want to give all your hard-earned money to lazy black women who are having too many babies, that will always drown anything else out. So long as cable news continues to poison the well of public discourse and define the narrative as “politics is broken, everybody is bad, just give up,” so long as local papers run four pages on a good day and three of those are syndicated columns talking about “Washington” being the problem, the only thing people are going to hear is what Republicans want them to hear.

It’s understandable, sure, to my fellow palefaces. Give me a choice between studying and shooting heroin, I’m gonna show you my veins. I know these people, I meet them on the regular, and you do not have to dig very far under the surface to find the jokes about people getting fat on soda and public assistance while they, the virtuous, just marvel at the destruction of their neighborhoods by “those” elements.

They side-eye every low-hanging-pantsed dude they see on a trip to the mall because THAT is who they picture taking everything away from them. It’s all one thing. They don’t separate their contempt into rural vs. urban vs. black vs. white boxes. I’m not making a joke. You can’t counter vagaries like that with specifics of policy.

You have to counter it with entertainment and right now we have no show.

A.

Why Don’t They Just Move?

Because this, you dipshits: 

Activists took to the streets in the summer of 1967 for 200 consecutive days of fair housing protests, and were sometimes greeted with racial slurs, eggs and rocks as they crossed the Menomonee River, via the 16th Street Viaduct, into the white South Side.

The Common Council eventually ratified a fair housing law in 1968, weeks after the federal government passed its landmark measure.

The racial dividing lines were already drawn, however, and barriers to black upward mobility remained. Even the neighborhood where the baseball slugger Hank Aaron moved in the late 1950s could not avoid a downward spiral. While the black population in the Rufus King area grew from 0.4 percent in 1960 to 89 percent in 1980, its median home value dropped from 9 percent above the city’s median to 23 percent below it, according to “Milwaukee: City of Neighborhoods,” a book by John Gurda.

Those historic dynamics of race and housing have not disappeared, either. As recently as 2006, a city government report found that affluent, nonwhite Milwaukeeans were 2.7 times likelier to be denied home loans than white people with similar incomes.

So the bank wouldn’t give your grandparents a home loan, so they had no money to use to lift other family members up, so those family members couldn’t lift up others, and by the way even if they DID bootstrap and such, they’d have had rocks thrown through their windows. For shit’s sake, this is in living memory, this isn’t an ice age ago, so let’s stop with the “why does everything have to be about race anyway” nonsense. It has to be about race because it is about race.

A.

You Never Thought

Really? You never thought? 

WASHINGTON – “I never thought I’d go to baseball practice and get shot at,” said Rep. Rodney Davis R-Ill., who was at bat Wednesday morning when a gunman started shooting at GOP lawmakers practicing for their annual charity congressional game.

“I was at bat. I was hitting. I heard a loud bang,” Davis said, talking at the Capitol, still in his scoffed practice clothes.

“It felt like somebody…dropped a big piece of metal. The next thing I heard was ‘everybody run, he’s got a gun. And we immediately ran and got into the dugout.”

You never thought, Rep. Davis?

You never thought you’d be subject to violence at baseball practice?

You never thought a madman with a gun would be staring YOU down?

You never thought you’d be running from bullets?

That was nice. That you never thought.

Nice for you to be safe. Nice for you to be protected. Nice for you to feel secure. Nice for your colleagues. I mean that sincerely. I don’t begrudge you that sense of safety. I think a lot of people like you share it. I think that’s a good thing.

You should feel safe. Everybody should.

I don’t want you to feel endangered. I don’t want to join the chorus of “see, don’t you get it now?!” going on on social media today. You shouldn’t have been scared to be in public, enjoying yourself. Enjoying your life. Feeling able to do that.

You shouldn’t have been afraid of a random hail of bullets. Nobody should.

Children in elementary school shouldn’t have had to feel that way, either.

Families on city streets. People at a shopping mall, attending a football game, going to work, coming home on the train, walking to church, playing soccer, swimming in the community pool. None of those people should have to be afraid.

None of them should have to expect, because of where they live or who they are or what they love, that they will be in mortal peril, just for going outside. Just for living in the world. Just for living their lives.

None of them should have to think about getting shot at.

None of them, none of us, should have to spend every day cowering in fear of a culture of armed paranoia that makes ordinary acts into reckless endeavors. None of us should have to delude ourselves — and we all have to, to a certain extent — that we can’t be touched by violence. Violence should not be so common that we have to lie to ourselves in order to avoid going mad.

I am not glad you were afraid, Rep. Davis. Your fear doesn’t make anyone else less fearful. Your actions could. Because you shouldn’t have to think you’ll go to baseball practice and get shot at.

I’m sorry that now, you do.

A.

Never a Dollar for Journalism

OMG, are all these nonprofits doing journalism too expensive for the MAGICKAL FREEMARKET ™ to bear? 

Nonprofit news organizations are staking out Chicago for hot national stories—and increasing the competition for funds. ProPublica is setting up a regional bureau here, and others, including the Marshall Project and Chalkbeat, are mulling a move into the Chicago media ecosystem.

All are drawn to critical stories—on crime, finances, education and other issues—engulfing the city, and philanthropic sponsors, such as the McCormick Foundation, are giving the organizations millions of dollars for what they see as the evolution of journalism. Still, there are fears that some media could be squeezed by the multiplying outstretched hands, despite the nonprofits’ collaborative rivalry.

Yeah. Those greedy nonprofits, outstretching their hands for the journalism money of which there is clearly not enough: 

Departing can be very sweet sorrow in corporate America, according to securities filings by Tribune Publishing that detail recent severance and other deals.

Former CEO Jack Griffin will receive $2 million, according to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. He was ousted by new key shareholder Michael Ferro last month after Griffin convinced him to invest $44 million in the company.

That is in addition to $3.2 million in total compensation received by Griffin in 2015, according to the filings in advance of the company’s annual meeting. His tenure generally saw a sharp drop in stock price, feuding with the then-publisher of his largest paper, the Los Angeles Times and a dismal performance in luring digital-only subscribers (the company’s papers have a combined total of 88,000, compared to about 1.1 million for The New York Times alone).

Other executives shown the exit with Griffin did rather well, despite the sharp industry decline impacting the company’s major properties, including The Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Hartford Courant and Baltimore Sun, among others.

Sandra Martin, the former chief financial officer, will get a severance equal to her $367,500 salary and unpaid incentives bonuses for the previous year, an a prorated incentive bonus for this year. Her total compensation last year was $1,004,755.

There was a similar farewell package for Denise Warren, the former head of the company’s digital operation, whose base pay was $336,539 but had total compensation of $1,151,200 last year.

Meanwhile, Austin Beutner, the former Los Angeles publisher who was dismissed last year after wrangling with Griffin, received severance that includes a lump sum equal to his base pay of $675,000. His total compensation in 2015 was $1,924,806.

The SEC documents also indicated that Tony Hunter, until recently the publisher of The Chicago Tribune and now the president of “national revenue and strategic initiatives,” earned $1.4 million last year after earning $2.1 million the year before.

That compensation, by the way? A total of more than $13 million, or nearly as much as PRO PUBLICA’S ENTIRE BUDGET. That’s right, supposed media companies paid their top executives — who presided over epic failures on every level from subscription losses to branding flops — almost as much to get the fuck out as Pro Publica paid everybody to do journalism. Yet somehow I’m supposed to worry we’re gonna run out of money here?

The problem we have in journalism isn’t a lack of funds. It’s a lack of funds for journalism. There’s always a million or two laying around when you have an asshead exec you need shitcanned but somehow when it comes time to pay reporters to spend night after night after night at crime scenes we get long wanky pieces about how expensive it all is and oh my GARSH we just might run bankrupt because of the 66 cents we pay him.

Let’s have another blogger ethics panel, though. Let’s invite another know-nothing old centrist pundit dude to wax nostalgic for a time before iPhones, when every kid had a paper route and everybody read the funnies to each other on Sunday. Let’s keep solving problems that don’t exist by creating aggregator networks and website re-launches and worry, worry, worry that nonprofit journalism is somehow suspect.

Wheel another barrel full of cash to the guys cooking the books. That’ll solve everything.

A.

WHO CAN KNOW THE TRUTH ANYWAY?

Being right doesn’t matter when there’s a “partisan divide:”

But to Trump, many Republicans and a broad constellation of surrogates and conservative media outlets, the takeaway is much different: exoneration.

“Despite so many false statements and lies, total and complete vindication,” the president tweeted early on the morning after Comey’s testimony.

That point of view has ricocheted across the conservative media world, both organically and in coordination with a hastily organized rapid-response operation at the Republican National Committee. The result is a parallel narrative — reinforced by the president himself on Twitter and at a Friday news conference — that spun Comey’s testimony as a clear victory and, publicly at least, cast aside any potential dangers that may lie ahead.

That Trump’s fans will defend him to the end of time isn’t really, you know, a thing that matters. John O’Neill has been carrying Richard Nixon’s luggage for four decades now and shows no sign of stopping, and the strength of his devotion makes him no less a son of a bitch who is going to hell.

If the marker of ultimate truth these days is the inexplicable size and duration of a fan club we’re going to have to replace the U.S. Constitution with a Seinfeld VHS tape and half a bag of kale chips.

I also love the passive language that persists in letting everybody involved here off the hook. That “point of view has ricocheted” and the “result is a parallel narrative,” which has apparently developed all by itself OH WAIT:

On Friday morning, a segment on “Fox & Friends” about the reaction to Comey’s testimony bore the headline: “Mainstream Media Misfire.” Minutes later, Trump, an avid viewer, sent a Twitter message of praise: “Great reporting by @foxandfriends and so many others. Thank you!”

“Comey gives early Christmas gift to GOP,” tweeted conservative radio host Laura Ingraham.

So instead of characterizing the story as “party-run media push false narrative through coordinated attacks on FBI director,” we have a “parallel narrative” that has “resulted” as if by magic. We don’t get to this meat until halfway through the story, and the headline just erases it all in advance.

The starkly different interpretation of Comey’s testimony on the right provides another illustration of the deepening national divide over Trump, whose approval ratings are mired in the mid- to high-30s amid the Russia probe and other controversies and whose agenda has bogged down in Congress with relatively few major accomplishments so far.

So between six and seven out of ten people in America think Trump is a miserable failure, and we characterize this as a “deepening divide.” Between two equal opposites. This is why I can’t have complete contempt for Trump’s ordinary fans. If this is the story being sold by the liberal media, what on earth are they hearing from Fox?

By the way, Trump’s fans? The ones we’re told in the headline agree with the Republican operatives’ version of events?

They’re not quoted in the story.

Not a one.

A.

Can’t Imagine Why Everything’s Going to Shit

Wonder if this has something to do with it: 

States have been racing to the bottom to try to attract corporations to their state, and as a result businesses are paying fewer taxes in states during a time of record corporate profits. On average, the state corporate tax rate is 6.25%, but these profitable companies paid just 2.9% of their profits. From 1986 to 2013, state and local corporate tax rates declined 30%, the report says. And yet states continue to compete with one another to offer tax giveaways to corporations.

The report looks into 17 companies headquartered in Illinois and finds that some of the biggest companies are paying very little. Take Boeing, which has earned over $40 billion in profits during the period studied—and only paid 0.1% of that to Illinois. This comes at a time that some of the most vulnerable in the state—people with disabilities, the homelessness, opioid addicts, rape victims, low-income seniors—are watching their safety net being slashed. (And in the meantime, Illinois homeowners are paying higher property rates than anyone except New Jersey homeowners.)

Mr. A and I are currently looking for a house, which leads to lots of people assuming we want to hear them bitching about their taxes and how awful it is to pay so much. My considered opinion is that I don’t mind paying taxes because in my ‘hood it’s very obvious what I get out of it: roads that get fixed, a park district-run preschool where Kick is thriving, cops who respond to complaints promptly, and services all over the place.

If I lived somewhere else, and was paying the same amounts in taxes, and the neighborhood looked like The Hurt Locker and the public schools were crap and the bus ran once a month between two places I never wanted to go, I might be more inclined to complain, but still, what I could contribute is a drop in the bucket compared to the corporate profits that SHOULD be fueling the state’s economy.

The bribery and up-sucking to companies to get them to come here and stay here drives me wild, too. Shower them with tax incentives, as Illinois once did to Sears and others, but if they don’t pay those taxes, is it really a benefit having them here at all? Creating jobs is very good, but adequately funding schools and municipalities creates a shitload of jobs and also a pretty nice life for any employees you might have.

A.

The Environment Is For Pussies

When did not wanting to strip-mine Mt. Rushmore become a tacit offer of same-sex fellatio?

The answer? AS SOON AS IT NEEDED TO BE FOR REPUBLICANS TO MAKE BANK.

The president himself said it on Twitter, in a message aimed not at anybody in real life but

And the thing is, like most of what came out of Trump’s mouth during the campaign, of course it seems sensible to care more about Pittsburgh than Paris, more about yourself than the rest of the world. I myself like the polar bears fine, and I recycle and take public transit to work, but environmental causes aren’t my nearest and dearest, so if you ask me if I should take away somebody’s job for a polar bear of COURSE I’m gonna say no. Those furry fuckers have claws, let them fend for themselves.

But come on. Do we really not know this by now? This isn’t about jobs. If it was we’d be building factories to manufacture solar batteries and funding scientific research like we pay for soccer stadiums. Cities and towns across America would be competing to offer the best programs for environmental research in their public universities, and making the results part of our cultural heritage so that no one company could own them. If this was about jobs we would spend on jobs like we once spent on the WPA and the Tennessee Valley Authority and the interstate highway system and the Marshall Plan.

If this was about creating jobs or literally anything else we cared about at all, we’d pretend it was a ground war in the Middle East and we’d fund it forever.

This isn’t about jobs, and to keep arguing that yes, the GOP wants to burn down the world but the Democrats need to be less faggy about it is a dumbassed (and not a little homophobic) waste of our time.

So let’s not climb down in the muck with them and argue that we came to fuck fat-bottomed big-tittied American girls also, just as much if not MORE. We will fuck them more! Harder! Possibly we will recycle the bottle of beer we break off to jam into our own foreheads to prove our manliness, but we’ll still cut ourselves just to show you our red blood! Look at the size of our trucks!

Let’s not do that. It’s gross.

Worse, it’s ineffective.

Let’s dismantle the propaganda network that says this is what we have to talk about in the first place, that this is the only way to have an argument. I’ve gotten just absolutely full up the past year on listening to people I mostly agree with talking about how Democrats and liberals and city elites look down on “working people.” Let me ask you this: Who told those working people Democrats and liberals and city elites look down on them? 

Who said, you are forgotten, and the Republican Party will remember you?

Who said, you’ve been counted out, in favor of the environment, and we’ll count you back in?

Someone must have. I doubt Middle American white people just all woke up one day and intuited that all universities and large cities are full of egghead liberal treehuggers who hate them. That sort of seems like the kind of thing a 24 HOUR “NEWS” NETWORK ON TV AND TALK RADIO would have to tell them.

So we can change our messaging all we want. We can talk about how if we see a polar bear, we’re gonna beat it senseless and then bite its dick off in a show of manly dominance. We can go up to the ice shelf and stage Burning Man.

Or, in the opposite direction, we can propose policies (we had a presidential candidate who did quite a bit of that, actually, in our recent past) that will help the ever-loving shit out of working poor people, stuff like free college and higher minimum wages and strengthening organized labor and rebuilding public schools and oh yeah, a health insurance plan to at least help a few people not go bankrupt.

It’s not gonna matter until we break the stranglehold Fox and its cowardly enablers in cable news have on information in this country. Nothing we’re saying is getting out NOW. What’s the point of continuing to re-write the position papers if it’s all gonna come down to who’s yelling the loudest. Anyone who wants anything lasting to change has gotta fight like hell not just to change politics but to change who talks about it on TV.

I don’t see any other way out of this. Do you?

And if you do, can you tell the polar bears? They’re getting kind of freaked out.

A.

Profanity = State Sanctioned Violence Against Minorities

Every time I think we’ve reached Peak Both Sides, another mountain rears up in the distance: 

But now it isn’t just Mr. Trump. In their new “resistance” mode, Democrats have become just as nasty. Tom Perez, the Democrats’ new national chairman, has already earned notoriety for his use of profanity at rallies. At some of them, he has trouble speaking because the anti-Trump heckling is so loud.

Does no one have an editor anymore? Doesn’t someone in the newsroom say something like, hey, I read your piece, and I was just thinking that the power differential is so vast between “heckler at a rally” and PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED FUCKING STATES that applying laughably malleable “standards” to both is like asking your 8th grader and your dog to do math homework and getting mad when Fido pisses on the long division? I mean what the SHIT.

Whoops. More profanity. It’s just like I herded two dozen foreigners into a concentration camp with my filthy word hole.

For those of you not lucky enough to live through this during the early days of both the Iraq War and liberal political blogging, this was the entirety of the argument against us: Yes, you may be right, but you are right in a way that makes me feel bad, so therefore you are wrong. Because you smell. Hippie.

Like there were entire protests that got invalidated because someone wore the wrong T-shirt.

It was infuriating then and it’s infuriating now, for lots of reasons the very least of which was that nobody was chiding wingnuts to stop burning Obama in effigy and making birth certificate jokes and waving Confederate flags around because it would make THEM look bad, albeit for actually being bad, not for being right. Just fuck these people, is my point. Fuck them for a lot of things, but mostly for only being able to get offended by the word fuck.

A.