Category Archives: Athenae

He is Bad At His Job

This corn dog has more relevant insights about American politics than Mark Halperin and it has never masturbated in front of anyone.

God damn it, do you know how many people are begging online for money to pay for their cancer treatment, all of whom have more to say in America right now than this fucking filth pig?

Let’s review exactly what Mark Halperin did:

The new accusations from the four women include that Halperin masturbated in front of an ABC News employee in his office and that he violently threw another woman against a restaurant window before attempting to kiss her, and that after she rebuffed him he called her and told her she would never work in politics or media. The alleged incidents occurred while Halperin was in a position of significant authority at ABC News, while the women were young and had little power.

And this is the stunning insight that justified this kind of TRULY HORRENDOUS crap being summarily dismissed:

News coverage generally does not make it clear if time is on the side of the  Force of the Hong Kong rebels or on the side of the Beijing Empire’s Death Star.  If the choice is to bet on freedom or propaganda, an American president might choose the latter, but history always wagers on the former in the end.

What a fucking idiot. That’s from MARK HALPERIN’S WIDE WORLD OF NEWS, for which ABC should sue the living shit out of him for copyright infringement and also FUCK this guy. Not only is he a pervert and an abuser, he’s also goddamn bad at his job. His “take” is that it could go one way for Hong Kong, or it could go another way! Nobody knows! Pay me!

Like how do we justify assigning any kind of value to this?

Nothing is propping up Biden’s frontrunning horserace number as much as his electability lead. If the latter disappears, the former is deeply endangered.

If Biden can’t get elected, he can’t get elected! Wow, were we suffering without that. Wherever would we find a racist-curious middle-of-the-road’s-dick-sucking sentient tote bag without THIS man? How could we possibly have had a whole ass election and an entire politics without his incisive commentary?

This goddamn remora. He’s not even attached to a shark. He’s attached to other remoras, with this. Like Bob “Don’t Call Out the Swiftboaters” Shrum, and a bunch of other people who’ve been wrong about everything and could be replaced with your average left Twitter account for half the money and twice the electoral votes.

We have a man who shouldn’t get to do anything in journalism anymore writing a book about people who shouldn’t have anything to say in politics and people will book him on their shows and for their “ideas festivals” and it’s no wonder people are mad and disaffected all the time, that this is what gets you a parade.

A.

1619

Read all of this and then meditate with me upon the COMPLETELY PREDICTABLE ALSO SAD right-wing freakout over “how can we possibly remember our history if it’s different than what we remember?” 

The very first person to die for this country in the American Revolution was a black man who himself was not free. Crispus Attucks was a fugitive from slavery, yet he gave his life for a new nation in which his own people would not enjoy the liberties laid out in the Declaration for another century. In every war this nation has waged since that first one, black Americans have fought — today we are the most likely of all racial groups to serve in the United States military.

My father, one of those many black Americans who answered the call, knew what it would take me years to understand: that the year 1619 is as important to the American story as 1776. That black Americans, as much as those men cast in alabaster in the nation’s capital, are this nation’s true “founding fathers.” And that no people has a greater claim to that flag than us.

Like imagine being so sad as a human being that you can’t find inspiration in another human being if they don’t look exactly like you. Imagine holding onto a story about a bunch of white men who said fuck you to the entire British Empire and brought it down, and not being able to make room for the black men and women who not only did that too, but they then brought down their white oppressors.

Imagine thinking history is one static thing, instead of a thousand stories and new ones being told every day.

But as the sociologist Glenn Bracey wrote, “Out of the ashes of white denigration, we gave birth to ourselves.” For as much as white people tried to pretend, black people were not chattel. And so the process of seasoning, instead of erasing identity, served an opposite purpose: In the void, we forged a new culture all our own.

I just … how do you not find that just as stirring as any speech given by Thomas Paine? Imagine being able to draw inspiration only from those who look like you. Imagine having that unimaginable luxury, the privilege to be that selfish.

A.

A Presidential Candidate Should Run on Doubling The Number of Building Inspectors

This is my goddamn TED talk and the only plank in my policy platform: 

Placed at about 40 randomly assigned public-housing developments across the city, the lights led to as much as a 59 percent nighttime decrease in serious crime, according to a working paper circulated this week by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

For context, the drop is about the scale researchers would expect from a 10 percent increase in police staffing. It suggests that spending on improved living conditions may be a more effective way to reduce crime than spending on increased police presence.

The researchers placed an average of seven mobile light towers in each development, affecting an estimated 40,000 residents total. Even when they considered a larger two-block radius around each development, in case criminals shifted their activity to avoid the lights, they found a reduction of at least 36 percent.

City neighborhoods that emptied out of white people in the 60s and 70s also emptied out of services. Cities don’t repair potholes as fast and they don’t plow as much and they certainly don’t pick up litter in places where the residents are unlikely or unable to complain or organize, or be noticed. Where other places get more and brighter lights, more and better services, the streets … look better. Perception, when buying or selling or even just visiting, is everything and half the places that get tagged as “bad” are just … lacking landscaping.

A landlord in my neighborhood would never be able to get away with letting a house rot with plywood and graffiti on it, for example. Why is a landlord six blocks east allowed to? Why do the banks that own half the vacant lots along the train tracks not have to keep them clean and secure and trim the weeds thereupon?

If the streets are dark, covered in trash, the fences are rusting and people who are working three jobs don’t have enough time to be on the phone every day yelling at the city to fix it all, that creates conditions for people to feel like nobody gives a shit about them. Putting more cops on the street to hassle them about sitting on their porches or selling cigarettes or whatever it is we’re shooting people for these days isn’t going to help. Investing is.

Investing in more than just one shiny patch of play equipment, or one nice new building. Investing in the grinding, average, day-to-day stuff that government really has to do because nothing else is big enough. Charity drives and block-club cleanup days are nice but this isn’t a special-occasion thing, this is a “we pay our taxes, pick up the garbage on time” thing.

Increasing the number of building inspectors and adequately lighting dark places and supporting the things that create community elsewhere — libraries, parks — would do what we think rolling up with the Third U.S. Army would. Resurfacing every alley that floods when it rains. Fixing the stoplights. Making it clear: People care about this place, so think twice about tearing it down.

And yes, city services are also often weaponized against the poor, so hardship exceptions to things like “peeling paint” should be made when the owner of the home is a 90-year-old whose grandson said he’d fix it three weeks ago and can’t get off work until Sunday. But there’s no reason to let some out-of-town management company skimp on mowing the lawns of the apartments they own. There’s no reason to allow long-term vacant properties to become eyesores without extracting the kinds of fines and fees usually aimed at people whose nosy neighbors are mad they don’t mow the lawn enough.

This isn’t just cosmetic. People die in house fires when cities don’t crack down on occupancy limits in apartments and require landlords to upgrade their fire safety plans. Heat and cold kill people every summer and winter because there’s no safe place to go to warm up and cool off. If I can’t walk down the street without stepping over a hundred pieces of broken glass then the next person who doesn’t see one is going to cut their foot open. Have to go to the hospital. Miss a day of work. Get fired. Lose their home.

There are all these tiny things that cause cascading waterfalls of misery and we can fix some of them by just goddamn cleaning the place up.

A.

Journalism for the Consumer Class

It’s news YOU CAN USE!

It’s not that journalists don’t know how to provide actionable information; we do this all the time, just only for certain people. In the era of paid-referral links, many of our most respected news sources have put journalists to work on a kind of information-concierge service for the consumer class, offering detailed recommendations for the best standing desks and smart-home appliances, but little health advice for those who work all day on their feet or juggle bills to make rent. We hear a chorus of hot tips for “smarter living,” and near silence on how to survive in America. The economist James Hamilton put it well in a panel at ONA last year, “There is no Wirecutter for the poor.”

City Bureau is doing massively important work in Chicago and I love everything about how they do it. For the longest time the bigger papers covered certain neighborhoods and didn’t cover others and everybody pretended it was the fault of people in those neighborhoods for not buying the paper, ie we’ll cover it when we have readers there. Well, the internet did do one thing to journalism which was to upend the idea that you only want to read about shit going on literally next door and then only if it winds up on your porch.

Advertisers and city leader-types always resented the shit out of stories that made “their” town look bad, like no, our schools are perfect and our housing stock is of the highest caliber and so what if people are dying from preventable environmental causes or shooting each other, you’re making us look bad! And so the coverage shifts, bit by bit, to the people the EIC’s wife knows from her book club, and the things they care about.

Consumer journalism has its place but as people have less and less money to consume, it’s incumbent upon journalism to, you know, at least know how to do something else. I can’t tell you how many local TV newscasts have this “news YOU can use” or “fighting for YOU” segment where they deal with a customer service department for someone.

It’s fine, I guess, I’m glad Mrs. Peters got her cable bill sorted out but can we please also cover a system that persistently outsources every single aspect of service such that unless you have a large Twitter following or a TV station at your back you can’t get anyone to listen to you? We spend half our lives screaming at machines, like Alexa, dismantle late capitalism please.

Journalism should be useful, but what is useful to someone who has no money for rent in a segment about Amazon Prime Day? Or Black Friday? What is useful about one person getting their insurance company to listen to them if there are thousands who can’t be heard?

I really don’t love the implication that the only kind of news you can “use” is something that affects what you can buy. Voting information is news you can use. Crime reports are news you can use. Political and policy debates involve news you can “use” to live your life in a goddamn democracy, let’s really get crazy here. Once you accept the premise that ALL news is useful you really start to see what can be done.

Kids in cages is news you can use, to let them out.

A.

The World Is Ever Ending

This fucking week, honestly.

“Maybe next time we have a week, they can try not to pack it completely to the fucking brim with explosions, mutilations, death, manhunts, lies, weeping, and the utter uselessness of our political system,” said basically every person in America who isn’t comatose or a complete sociopath. “You know, maybe try to spread some of that total misery across the other 51 weeks in the year. Just a thought.”

“Gotta hand it to this week, though,” added the entire American populace, laughing and crying at the same time. “It’s a motherfucker.”

Members of the press, what the fuck: 

“What do you think? You know the shit he’s been saying,” O’Rourke said.“He’s been calling Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals. I don’t know, like, members of the press, what the fuck? Hold on a second. You know, I — it’s these questions that you know the answers to. I mean, connect the dots about what he’s doing in this country. He’s not tolerating racism; he’s promoting racism. He’s not tolerating violence; he’s inciting racism and violence in this country. So, you know, I just — I don’t know what kind of question that is.”

This is the only reasonable reaction to things right now. It really is. To say to them, why are you asking questions you know the answers to? Why are you asking me to lie? For that matter, why are you asking me to tell the truth? You know the truth. If you won’t speak it, if you won’t use your voice and hands, your microphone, your words, to tell the truth in this moment, how on EARTH is that my job?

That’s the core of the frustration right now, among those of us who aren’t in the Trump cult or so horny for complacency we refuse to talk about anything at all. We see the truth in front of us and we see the people who’ve told us for decades that they’re the ones who proclaim it —righteous leaders, the sacred Fourth Estate, all our protectors of truth and democracy — pretending to a helplessness that would humiliate an infant.

You know the truth and you won’t say it and WHY, why on earth, do you know how many people dream of having the power you have? My yelling on Twitter is still a fraction of the reach of any city TV station, why are you standing there? You could push a button and save the world and you sit here asking if someone should push the button. YOU PUSH THE FUCKING BUTTON. Don’t ask me to tell you it’s okay, don’t ask me to give you cover, don’t make this my problem.

Is the president a racist, what the fuck indeed.

You know the truth. And when you know the truth a lie should be intolerable. If you’ve never carried an intolerable lie inside you I hope to God you never have to but how can you not, in the world we walk in? Do you know how much I WISH I could be a person at a party who says things like “yes, we need to return to civility in politics” instead of yelling NO IT’S ABOUT TIME WE WERE UNCIVIL ABOUT BEING KILLED, do you know how easy it is to go along to get along? The only time anyone raises their voice is when they can’t stand it anymore. Whole swaths of us can’t stand it anymore, whole swaths of us never could and never should have had to, and if you get hot for the Civil Rights movement in the history books but can’t stand it in your cul-de-sac don’t you dare ask me to make that okay for you.

And I’m sorry, scene-bros for whom things aren’t revolution-y enough to get you to put the Xbox away. I saw this stupid shit going around again earlier this week and coupled with the “why don’t Americans in Tulsa protest like they do in Puerto Rico” it made me want to put my fist through the whole internet. Sure, nothing’s ever gonna change. Good God, but have you been paying attention?

Moms Demand and Everytown are out here shouting louder than the NRA, than the NRfuckingA, did you think 10 years ago this was even a pipe dream? Ten years ago everybody was still stuck under their desks shaking in fear that the NRA would target them and now a bunch of pissed off women have them on their backs.

Republican congressman who can resign are resigning because they see the fire coming and they don’t want to burn. Old men who’ve had their jobs forever are packing up their shit and running for the door.

And the pedophiles are burning, too. I’m glad Jeffrey Epstein is dead and I hope every person named in his sordid messy indictment dies off, too, and that we as a species come together around the entirely uncontroversial notion that child rape is bad and if girls are not saying yes to you then they’re saying no. I’m glad all the disgusting #MeToo dudes are out of jobs and I don’t care one whit about any of them, we’ve managed to carry on without Charlie Rose and Al Franken. If any of my faves go down in this I feel confident in the ability of young women to handle their jobs and then some.

The world is busy being born and armchair chaossexuals are like, mad it’s not happening fast enough and I don’t know what to tell you people, I really don’t. What the fuck, maybe. History looks like it happened in a hurry because that’s how we have to remember it to move faster next time. To motivate a few more people to get off their asses and name the things in front of them for what they are. To stop waiting for somebody else to fix things and fix them already. Maybe this is what it looks like inside the tornado, maybe it’s slower in here.

I don’t know. What the fuck. This fucking week.

A.

Hey Congress, Do Something

I just: 

During the goal celebration after he scored in today’s D.C. United-Philadelphia Union match, Union midfielder Alejandro Bedoya picked up a pitch-side microphone and said into it,“Hey Congress, do something, now! End gun violence!”

“Congress” isn’t going to do shit. THE DEMOCRATS have been passing bills and urging action since THE DEMOCRATS banned assault weapons in the first goddamn place. Republicans are holding hearings about how anime porn makes you violent or something, this morning, about how mental illness is to blame, like my crazy ass can shoot you with a trigger lock on. Hey Congress. Are you kidding me.

If you want “Congress” to do something, what you really want is REPUBLICANS to do something. To pass the bills in the Senate that Dems have passed in the House. To support the prevention of gun violence through common sense shit like “let us perhaps not give you a gun if you hit your wife” and “until you can legally smoke and be drafted no ammo for you,” like really radical stuff there, chief.

I don’t want to bag on this sportsball fellow who I never heard of until this moment and don’t know at all, because what he’s saying — that “Congress” needs to act — is what he’s been told by our irresponsible, lazy, clueless, cowardly national press, led by the nose by Republican partisans and pundits. “Congress” is the problem, “government” is broken, and once more and for all the marbles BOTH SIDES ARE TO BLAME.

By refusing to name and shame Republicans for this, by perpetuating the myth that somehow our government just magically polarized its own damn self, by never once naming and shaming the assholes who are responsible for every single day of gridlock since 2010 (straining to remember who was president then, and what that might have had to do with this) they’ve made sure that while both sides are not equally at fault, they’re equally blamed.

Shit, even supposedly smart people get this wrong. Jon Stewart came and lambasted “Congress” for not protecting 9/11 first responders, as if Mitch McConnell wasn’t holding up the bill. Every goddamn totebagger on the planet, who listens to NPR and thinks Trump of course is just the worst, will still shake their head and lament the lack of civility and comity in “government” as if the Tea Party rallies never happened.

As if Sarah Palin never said Obama “palled around with terrorists.” As if those Purple Heart Band-Aids appeared by magic.

People get this wrong, and get frustrated and angry at the wrong people, because they’re never told in plain language what the holdup is or who is causing it. They’re enraged at inaction and the perception of paralysis without knowing why there’s no action, no movement. They feel powerless because they can’t exercise power without knowledge, and the information the press could be providing them about who is blocking gun law reform would give them power.

It would also upset some wingnut screamers and Very Reasonable Sensible People, which I guess is what really matters.

For God’s sake, though. Asking “Congress” to do something about this when half of Congress would love to do something about this is just enraging. Half of Congress and 2/3 of the country wants to move on this, and instead of saying, “you could if not for these six people” we’re watching TV shows about how everything is terrible but nothing can ever change.

A.

Even Now

Even today. Even now things are being done:

I saw it again, this stupid dumbass tweet being shared by people I respect, and I can’t tell you how angry it makes me on behalf of the people who are fighting and working and busting their asses every day to change this. I can’t tell you how angry I am to see them — us — erased. That we haven’t won the war doesn’t mean we’re not fighting it. Stop saying it’s over.

That’s WHAT THEY WANT. Good God, do we really have to point this out? Now, today, in 2019, do we really have to point out that all anybody who’s trying to get you to lie down is trying to do is get you to lie down? Stop making it easy for them with your goddamn fucking sophomore year cynicism.

Hope isn’t a plan, goes the criticism, but guess what? Despair isn’t either.

Despair isn’t a plan and it isn’t an excuse and it doesn’t make you look one iota smarter than anybody currently out in the fucking streets. It doesn’t even HELP, good god, have you tried sitting with that feeling, all it does is poison your mind and rot your heart from the inside.

Get up, make some phone calls, get out there, feel foolish, and lose lose lose lose lose until you die if you have to but don’t just sit there talking to yourself about how nobody could ever do anything to change anything and it’s all hopeless, God, it’s so small and sad and gross.

People are fighting. Even now. Even after 24 hours and another 30 dead and do you HEAR yourselves, saying there’s no point. What if it was you and yours tomorrow? Would there have been a point to fighting, today?

A.

It’s Always 1989

Krugman: 

What I haven’t seen pointed out much, however, is that Trump’s racism rests on a vision of America that is decades out of date. In his mind it’s always 1989. And that’s not an accident: The ways America has changed over the past three decades, both good and bad, are utterly inconsistent with Trump-style racism.

It’s not just Trump. It’s his supporters. THIS IS HOW THEY ALL ARE. Blithering about Al Sharpton, bitching about TV shows and singers they don’t know, posting Facebook memes about how “if you know what this butter knife is, you’re my age” and all this other elderly, embarrassing shit. And no, it isn’t ageism. I know 90-year-olds culturally younger than most of these people and some of the worst offenders are younger than me.

You don’t have to have your tits way up high to know how to just Google Ariana Grande instead of making Taco Bell jokes and comparing the number of writers on a Beatles song to the number of people who produce for Beyoncé.

It’s why Hillary was the perfect foil for Trump, because most of his voters are still quietly pissed about Bill — young, high, horny, dodging the draft — beating H.W. Bush. It’s hard to explain to people who weren’t there but trust me, his election upended SO MUCH CULTURAL SHIT, not the least of which that he was friends with many African-Americans and was seen to move with an ease in a world lots of white people hated and feared.

(When Democrats followed him up with an ACTUAL BLACK PRESIDENT oh boy, were we off to the races.)

Due to persistent and vicious segregation they have no experience of black people that isn’t either entertainment — sports — or poverty. They have no conception of a black middle class, of a black upper class. Their last cultural reference to a black person was Michael Jackson, for shit’s sake. Maybe Bill Cosby, and that worked out GREAT.

They’re still muttering angrily about Rodney King asking for it or telling stories about how their kids had to come home from school early because the “black kids” were going to beat them up in the riots.

The world they’re living in is changing all the time and they’re out here proudly shouting that they’ve shut their eyes. The cultural stuff matters because it’s a harbinger; the books you read and the music you listen to is the sound of the world around you.

They stopped listening to America 30 years ago and they have no intention of taking out their earplugs anytime soon.

A.

No Human Being

Well, it’s what they all think:

His voters, I mean. Even the nice ones. ESPECIALLY the nice ones. The ones that live in the suburbs because their parents’ neighborhoods were “ruined” by an “invasion.” Who aren’t racist, are perfectly nice to the black barista or their Mexican landscaper. Who just moved here for the schools.

They don’t think anyone lives in the places their parents left.

Not anyone with a job, or kids. Or a freaking dog. A mortgage, even on a house that isn’t fancy, even on a street that isn’t clean. A church, a school. A goddamn right to walk down the street and get a beer from the corner store.

They talk about the city — parts of it — like aliens live there and there are lots of reasons for that, nonstop reruns of Law and Order and the nightmares their grandparents passed on to them being right up there, but mostly it’s the inability to think of people of color as, you know, PEOPLE at all.

I used to work in some of Chicago’s “worst” neighborhoods. The places that give the suburbs vapors, I’d be driving around at all hours of day and night, and you know how many times I got mugged and murdered? Exactly zero. What did happen is I got invited to birthday parties. Told I needed to try this or that restaurant because the best sausage in town was made there. Helped out when my car wouldn’t start or got stuck in a snowbank.

I listened to conversations in barbershops and beauty parlors, conversations that yes, sometimes were about violence or neglect, but more often than not were about birthdays and obligations, who was bringing what to the church potluck, whose dog ran away. Who was getting married, who was cheating.

You know. People stuff.

So when the fraidy cats who live in our segregated world talk about “no-go” zones and places they don’t feel safe, when they say they wouldn’t even VISIT somewhere because they don’t think it’s okay, I wonder what on God’s green earth makes them think it’s okay for other people to live there.

And it’s really that they don’t think those people are human beings.

That’s what Donald Trump’s voters think, deep down. Underneath the euphemisms and the “property tax” stuff and the entirely avoidable ignorance and the very nice lady manners that keep them from ever saying the N-word because that would Doing Racism. They just don’t think people who don’t look like them are quite real.

It’s why they can justify the concentration camps and it’s why they can cheer the pointless foreign wars and it’s why they don’t give a shit if women in hijabs don’t feel safe going to the grocery store and it’s why they can shrug off every time he grabs someone by the pussy. People who aren’t them aren’t real.

Not human beings.

A.

Not Everything Sucks, Kitten Edition

Whenever things are real fucken dark I try to remember how many people are saving animals:

I worked in an animal shelter, as a volunteer and employee, for a long time. Animal people aren’t always people people, so things could get dicey, but I would put the WORST human being I worked with in that place up against the best member of the Trump administration any goddamn day. It’s worth remembering, as the world burns, that there are always imperfect people trying to save it.

A.

A List of Things Mueller Will Not Say Tomorrow

“He’s definitely a criminal.”

“You should impeach him.”

“He deserves to die in federal prison.”

“You have my permission to try to get rid of him.”

“I promise if you do so Reasonable People Like Myself will not get upset in any way.”

“No Republicans will say mean things about you if you just do this the right way.”

I mean honestly: 

Republicans, with their control of the Senate, could protect Trump if Democrats in the House were to impeach him.

In fact, Trump and supporters have sometimes seemed to goad their opponents in the House to proceed with impeachment, confident the effort would ultimately fail to oust the president. A fizzled attempt would amount to another inoculation for Trump, in this view, and a rebuke to Pelosi.

These are the positions on the battlefield as Mueller enters. Will his appearance on Wednesday alter them?

I think we are quite possibly putting a lot of pressure on Robert Mueller that is not his to carry, and I say this rooting quite firmly for him to say all those things up there ending each one with “motherfucker.” If there’s anything about the past 20 years of Republicans I’ve learned it’s that nobody should put money on them discovering either shame or responsibility no matter what gets said in a hearing room. Richard Clarke put paid to that. Shit, Gerald Ford put paid to that.

We should also dispense with the idea that anything Mueller’s going to say will cause anyone in the national press to do anything differently. They’re going to report that there is one side that says this about what Mueller said, and one side that says another, and they will pat themselves on the backs for not letting Democracy Die in Darkness and then all go drink together. There’s not gonna be anything big enough, like Mueller could get up there tomorrow and say that he witnessed Donald Trump murder people in the Oval and we’d still have to hear WHAT ABOUT TED KENNEDY HUH? like idiots. This is our portion of the suffering.

So, given those fucking givens, what are we left with? Same thing we’ve always got. Fight ’em any way we have to until we can’t. We can keep calling Nancy to impeach the sumbitch and we can keep putting our bodies in the streets every day and we can keep blockading the doors of ICE HQ and we can keep pounding every drum we have but we can’t make this happen without making it happen.

Let’s not expect Robert Mueller to make it any easier tomorrow. How in God’s name is he supposed to? He did his job. He provided the report, he did the investigation, that Nancy is scared and Mitch is a treasonous turtle fuck is not his burden to carry. He’s not gonna save us. We were only ever gonna save ourselves.

A.

Tuesday Catblogging

Slade is such a ham (figuratively, as well as in actual proportion) that sometimes I forget to take pictures of Ada, who sleeps in this kind of mollusk position, feet daintily pointed and back perfectly curled:

[photo: Calico cat curled up asleep on a blue couch]

Talk to Your Kids About Power

From Laura Turner’s wonderful piece (go read it all) about growing up evangelical and reckoning with it as an adult in all kinds of ways: 

Looking back on teachings about sexual purity now—the conversations about modesty, about saving oneself for marriage—I am struck that we never, not once, had a conversation about consent. It was reasonable for a boy to suggest that he was “tempted” by a girl wearing skimpy clothes, but the blame was always placed on the girl for dressing that way. We never talked about power, about how being a man in power could warp a person’s soul, how that warping could turn into abuse, how that abuse would go unchallenged. We were liabilities, even as men thought they were loving us. We were taught that men have the upper hand, and that it was a woman’s job to defuse that lust. We never talked about what it meant to be a person, a complete, vulnerable, whole-bodied person who had control over her being.

I was having this conversation with Kick’s caregiver the other day, about what TV she watches. Like I don’t care if she accidentally catches a sex scene in some movie before you change the channel. She knows what a boob is. Why are those people doing that? Well, they love each other and when you love each other you kiss and touch.

But stories — and there are a startling number of them — about violence or coercion are so much more complicated, and more necessary, and I’m trying to learn about how to have them in ways that don’t make her hate or fear herself. One of the terrible things we do by gatekeeping the appearances of young women — you look too grown-up, you can’t wear nail polish till you’re 20, etc — is make them afraid of their own beauty; it’s BAD to be pretty, how dare you.

When we refuse to teach young people how to recognize manipulation and power we don’t just make them vulnerable to hurt. We make them afraid of happiness. What if you want to be wanted? What if you care about someone and want him to touch you with love and joy? What if you want to be admired, want to have affection, want someone to be attracted to you? What if that relationship is mutual and fun and you have no idea how to keep from poisoning it with fear?

Are you a dirty slut because your boyfriend likes the way you look in a bikini and you enjoy having his eyes on you?

(This, like most purity discourse, assumes straightness, which is a whole other damn kettle of bigoted fish.)

It’s not just about protecting yourself. It’s about learning to live in the world and not hate yourself and fear everyone else. That’s a hell of a lot harder to explain than why two people are naked.

A.

Maybe THIS Will Be It

I honestly have no patience for it anymore, the idea that at some point Trump and his administration are just gonna kind of … resolve themselves. Like we’re gonna get out of this without somebody having to be unpopular, having to say the rude things, having to BRING THE FUCKING ARTICLES OF IMPEACHMENT. Having to censure him, having to reckon. Like there will finally be something said that will somehow make this easy. This was never gonna be easy.

I don’t know who the hell ever gave these grown-ass adults the idea that any of this would be easy.

Like we waited in the national press for “go back where you came from” before we said “racist” (and even then), we waited for the Mueller report before we said foreign influence, we wait for Kavanaugh before we talk about Roe.

Do we have to start actually murdering children in the camps with our bare hands before we can close them? Does a river need to catch fire again before we acknowledge polluters are polluting? How many more years do the wars need to go on? How many generations are we going to chew up out of vengeance, and how obvious does it have to be that there’s no good way out of there?

We like to think there will be some unavoidable turning point in the future, because we write and learn our histories that way: Rosa Parks said I’m not moving, and that ended segregation. Walter Cronkite said this is bullshit, and that ended Vietnam. We wait and wait and wait for somebody else to do the thing that saves us.

Ignoring that people do this ten times a day and we don’t recognize it because in the moment nobody recognizes it.

The fucking point of the canary in the coal mine is that nobody except the goddamn canary is supposed to die.

We’re up to our asses in feathers, and we keep bringing more birds down and watching them drop.

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Not Everything Sucks: Fighting Back Edition

A friend of mine is involved with this group and they’re incredible: 

Surrounded by open suitcases, an air mattress, at least one Popeyes bag, and a mishmash of chips and Cheez-It containers, the two-story row house in DC’s Shaw neighborhood could easily be the site of a sleepaway camp reunion. Instead, this week it served as headquarters for Never Again Action, a brand-new movement of young American Jews calling for Immigration and Customs Enforcement to be shut down and the closure of immigrant detention centers nationwide.

About 15 activists from cities all over the US stayed in the house this week — sleeping on mismatched couches, a futon, and the floor — to pull off their biggest action yet: a march on Tuesday from the National Mall to the ICE headquarters, where they planned to quite literally shut the building down.

People will say, like they said about the Iraq War, that everyone just let this happen. They’ll say it to let themselves off the hook — nobody ELSE was protesting, so I didn’t do it either — but the work these young men and women are doing should not be erased.

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Impeach the Cabinet First

Starting with Elaine: 

According to the Politico report, questions about ethical conflicts center on the number of grants DOT has approved for projects in Kentucky, many of which could benefit McConnell politically as he hits the campaign trail for his 2020 reelection bid in the southern state.

Chao has helped greenlight at least $78 million in grants for construction projects in Kentucky, Doherty and Snyder write. Additionally, she helped designate a special go-between that worked with McConnell’s office on Kentucky-related projects:

It’s a win-win-win scenario: Mitch has to defend his wife’s double-dealing instead of running for re-election, she IS ACTUALLY AWFUL, and it doesn’t have the baggage presidential impeachment has. She’s an actual confirmed secretary and not some “acting” schlub who got shoved in there when the real guy got am-scrayed.

Like here’s the thing with yelling at Nancy to impeach Trump. Shit, she needs to, because the only thing a bully understands is a good hard punch to the face (AOC and Omar and Tlaib and Pressley get this, btw), but it’s not her only option.

She can censure him every day. She can impeach his entire cabinet starting with Mrs. Turtle up there. It’s a target-rich environment and Trump’s not the only Chaotic Evil to hit. Take them out one by one and the GOP has to scramble to defend them all instead of focusing on OUR GLORIOUS PRESIDENT like they are now.

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Not Everything Sucks

My forever president, John F. Kerry, is still out here trying to tell us what’s going on:

I WILL NEVER BE OVER that we did not have this man as president. Never.

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Signal This Virtue

Of all the dismissals of protest and outrage that we’ve heard from conservatives over the past two years I think the one that makes me the craziest is the accusation of “virtue signaling.” 

Expressions of moral outrage are playing a prominent role in contemporary debates about issues like sexual assault, immigration and police brutality. In response, there have been criticisms of expressions of outrage as mere “virtue signaling” — feigned righteousness intended to make the speaker appear superior by condemning others.

Clearly, feigned righteousness exists. We can all think of cases where people simulated or exaggerated feelings of outrage because they had a strategic reason to do so. Politicians on the campaign trail, for example, are frequent offenders.

So it may seem reasonable to ask, whenever someone is expressing indignation, “Is she genuinely outraged or just virtue signaling?”

I thought about this over the usual two-protest summer weekend, and following a work discussion about audiences for stories, because it’s really easy to accuse someone of showing off when you don’t understand why what they’re doing is important.

Or when you’re used to not being opposed.

Trump was supposed to win the argument, right? He was supposed to be the ultimate fuck-you, the ultimate OH YEAH HOW DO YOU LIKE THIS THEN? It was the ultimate defeat for us dastardly liberals and our terrible identity politics, for people who talk about bathrooms and pronouns, about segregation and sexual assault.

We were supposed to be so humiliated and sad and scared and ashamed of losing that we’d never show our faces again.

Yet here we are. Singing.

And that pisses them off so much. They accuse us of showing off because they’re mad we’re still here.

Too bad, assholes.

The accusation of “virtue signaling” implies that we shouldn’t live our lives in public, that we shouldn’t show what we believe.

Living your life in a way that honors American values when no one is rewarded (and no, Twitter likes are not rewards, I don’t care what the hashtag-resistance says) for doing so is a radical fucking act. Do you know how much money the right throws around? Ben Shapiro has a whole media empire for being a halfbright douche when friends of mine are dying broke and broken for writing about unjust wars and cowardly politics, don’t you dare act like there’s something in this for us. I’m as mad about the #NeverTrump rebranding as you are but few people getting book deals while the rest of us hook for ho-hos is not a system that rewards people for speaking out and speaking up.

In defense, let us remember always, of such controversial ideas as “it is legal to seek asylum in the richest country in the world” and “maybe let’s not take babies away from their mothers.” It’s not immaterial WHAT virtues we are demonstrating. It matters what the gesture IS.

So we’re just “virtue signaling,” Republicans? OKAY. I’m pretty okay with signaling the virtue that all men are created equal and so were the founding fathers whose legs you hump, not that you can even spell their names.

Is it useless to stand in a circle beneath a memorial to the War to End All Wars, one hundred years and seven wars later, with candles in our hands and inadequate words in our mouths? No one’s liberated from the camps and no one’s given asylum and no one’s safe because a few people in a few places lit candles and sang. No one’s free because of the light.

That we know of.

Yet.

But no one’s imprisoned because of the light. No one’s separated and no one’s tortured and no one’s poorer or hungrier because of the light.

And maybe someone inside the walls of a prison somewhere heard the singing outside.

At a time when we’re being told not to believe what we can see, at a time when we’re being told we’re not Real Americans and don’t live in the Real World, signals are how we get to one another. How we let one another know what’s happening, who needs help, how to find them. I have it tattooed on my left goddamn arm, the line from Serenity: Can’t stop the signal.

Is that enough by itself? Of course not, but I don’t know anyone at a protest on the weekends who isn’t working during the week to make this better in a thousand small ways from calling Congress to helping their neighbors to volunteering at a food pantry to just goddamn not voting for monsters.

You take every chance to stand up because never in this world are you ever going to know for sure which one is going to be the one that makes the change.

And literally nobody posting a cute protest selfie on Instagram or buying a Ruth Bader Ginsburg pin is making the world worse, unlike Mike Pence, the creature. So if you can do nothing else, signal.

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This Matters More Than Trump

Look, I want Trump out on his ear, more than almost anything, and this is that almost: 

(CNN)Kentucky Democrat Amy McGrath, a former fighter pilot who rose to national prominence last year in her failed campaign for Congress against Republican Andy Barr, is turning her sights on a new target: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

In a three-minute video released Tuesday, McGrath said McConnell has “bit by bit, year by year, turned Washington into something we all despise.”
“I’m running for Senate because it shouldn’t be like this,” McGrath added.
McGrath’s candidacy marks a significant recruiting coup for Democrats. She emerged as an unlikely fundraising juggernaut in her congressional race, bringing in millions of dollars after her campaign released a biographical video that went viral, and becoming a Democratic celebrity in the process.

Without Mitch and his merry band of blithering buttlicks in the Senate Trump is powerless. He’s irrelevant. He’s a TV buffoon again. His fellow Republicans scatter without Mitch to threaten and cajole and hold them all in line. They become vulnerable to persuasion. They’re allowed to fracture. They start to eat their own and I want nothing more than to sharpen the cutlery and set the damn table.

Every dollar spent by all but maybe four of the current Dem candidates trying to kick Trump out of office would be far better spent flipping the Senate and unemploying this condescending, brutal, condom-necked one-man argument for term limits and it would be a delicious form of revenge for the Supreme Court seat he stole.

#DumpMitch, mofos.

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As Well as If: IVF, Abortion Rights, and Consistency

I’ve written before about our 10-year science experiment that led to Kick being born. Ten years of fertility treatments, ranging from minimal intervention to the six IVF cycles that finally resulted in what we call, horrifyingly, a “live birth.”

Those six cycles, over two years, involved thrice-daily injections of multiple medications, some with side effects that are still being felt five years later. I was allergic to one of the carrier oils for one of the meds and developed a tendency to break out in hives, for example. Another medication simulated menopause, a super-fun experience in your early 30s. Days and days and days off work; my job at the time was part-time, so I could devote the other “part” to the process.

Had our insurance not covered almost all of this, it would have been close to $150,000.

My point is this, about IVF: Nobody, nobody, does it lightly. Nobody’s skipping into the clinic saying hey, shoot me up! I know our morning shows and TV dramas are shit about giving out information about childbearing but trust me, and trust the needle marks in my arms and hands and back and legs, trust the laparoscopy and the myomectomy scars, trust the backlog of bills even with insurance: This isn’t something you can do on a whim.

But that’s what they think about women, that we do things because notions just flit into our feathery little heads.

I said, years ago, when the 20-week abortion bans and fetal personhood bills started coming up in state legislatures, that this would result in the targeting of IVF procedures and everybody said oh, no, you’re being hysterical well HYSTERICAL THIS, YOU SANCTIMONIOUS PRICKS: 

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A federal program to help injured veterans and their spouses conceive children through in vitro fertilization is being hobbled by anti-abortion forces that oppose how the process can lead to embryos being destroyed.

Since 2012, Democrats in Congress have repeatedly championed legislation permanently extending IVF benefits to veterans whose injuries in the line of duty have left them unable to conceive children otherwise.

But those bills have fizzled in the face of opposition from Catholic bishops and others in favor of a temporary program that must be reauthorized every year, complicating efforts by eligible veterans to begin or extend their families.

Look, let’s give them credit for consistency here. If every fertilized egg is a person, then every fertility clinic in the country is holding thousands of hostages. If those are people, with the full range of human rights granted a full-term baby, every fertility clinic in the country should either have to apply to a judge for legal guardianship of every single embryo (and comply with all federal and state requirements for said role) or look forward to a bunch of kidnapping charges.

If I was a creative lawyer I’d be filing habeas petitions on behalf of all those embryos to have them liberated.

This shit is just so cynical and enraging. It’s not an accident they’re going after veterans’ IVF benefits and assistance first. The USCCB is stupid but they’re not stupid, they know it’s one thing to shriek MAH TAX DOLLARS and another to tell the nice lady putting her envelope in the collection basket that she’s sinning by going to the clinic to help her have a much-desired child.

And you know, it shouldn’t make a difference that rich women have IVF and poor women have abortions; arguments about bodily autonomy should be about autonomy, full stop. If we favor reproductive freedom we should favor it for all, whether that’s the Duggar family having 22 kids or a single woman having none.

What’s frustrating is that the people who do want to have 22 kids don’t see that the same freedom that protects my right to abortion also protects my right to have as many children as I want. When we say choice we mean choice.

The choice of when and how, as well as if.

A.