Category Archives: Athenae


They’re trying to make us fight about the place we keep the children we steal from their parents, the children we lock up:

And it’s too easy to reach for the Ursula K. LeGuin, today:

In a basement under one of the beautiful public buildings of Omelas, or perhaps in the cellar of one of its spacious private homes, there is a room. It has one locked door, and no window. A little light seeps in dustily between cracks in the boards, secondhand from a cobwebbed window somewhere across the cellar. In one corner of the little room a couple of mops, with stiff, clotted, foul-smelling heads stand near a rusty bucket. The floor is dirt, a little damp to the touch, as cellar dirt usually is. The room is about three paces long and two wide: a mere broom closet or disused tool room. In the room a child is sitting.

They’re trying to make the fight about the cages. It isn’t the cages that make a prison.

Anything can be a prison. Anything can be a cage. It doesn’t need concrete and barbed wire, gun towers and checkpoints. Is that what you think a prison is? A quiet street in a city neighborhood can be Pelican Bay. A luxury condo in a skyscraper. A well-kept house in the suburbs.

You don’t need a cage to make a prison.

You just need a guard.

And oh, does this administration have guards. Say what you like about deportations under previous presidents, say that they, too, were callous or cruel types of separation. Fair. They were not capricious, and they were not done to teach someone who isn’t listening a lesson he or she can’t hear. They weren’t done to shove the law in anyone’s face, to score points in Florida or Ohio or some other racism-blasted swing state full of resentful, angry white people; to make the talk radio listeners cheer.

This administration knew its people and their uses. They elected this president. They chanted “lugenpresse” and “fake news” at reporters. They put them in cages, too, and spit at them and yelled and threatened. They beat protesters and chanted “lock her up.” They longed to inflict human misery, gleefully, on anyone they were told had taken from them, on anyone they were told would take from them. And this administration saw that and said that it was good. It said yes. It said more.

These people have made prisons for decades. Prisons of war, drawing borders and bombing inside them, and out, to make a point with their voters. Prisons of poverty, making food and health care conditional on where you lived and worked. Prisons of redlined racist ghettos, where police patrol one side of the street, pull you over if you cross. Sundown towns and poll taxes and schools segregated in all but name, whites-only fountains and colored sections on the bus. These people know how to make prisons. They know how to do it without building walls.

So don’t come at us now and talk about how the cages aren’t cages and cages aren’t a prison. Anything can be a prison if there are people there who keep you in. Who keep you quiet. Who keep you awake or asleep or fed or starved depending on how you behave and how they prefer it. They can bang on the doors every fifteen minutes, and it doesn’t matter if the doors are chain link or solid steel or polished thick American oak.

If they can lock them, and let you out only when they say, you’re in prison.

Call it a partition instead of a cage, if it makes you feel better. It doesn’t matter.

Not to the children inside, or the guard standing at his post, keeping them there.


Sunday Catblogging: Tube Kitten Edition


Like a seal sunning himself on the beach.



I’ve been seeing variations on this theme all week, like the party that isn’t in power right now should somehow magically gain power and stop family separation.

Well, they’re sitting in. They’re marching. They’re giving speeches. They’re fighting with the only fight they have. If you want them to be able to mount real opposition, we need more of them. 

Could one of them filibuster? Sure. Stand on the floor all night telling refugee stories. Could one of them start a hunger strike, mount civil disobedience over and above what’s going on already, could they find a creative way to shut shit down? Sure.

And then, as ever in the past two years, it’ll be over, the TV hairdos will either ignore it or call it a stunt and have 12 Republicans on a panel to talk about how protest is stupid, and nothing will change because THERE AREN’T ENOUGH DEMOCRATS IN OFFICE.

I know you’re sick of hearing me say nothing matters except November, but nothing matters. Except November.

Democrats can’t mount any meaningful opposition because there are six assholes who always give us a hard time. They’re from conservative states, they’re always endangered, etc, etc, they’re weak and scared and it’s infuriating.

What gives those six or so assholes who always give us a hard time their power is that they are necessary to overcome Republican regressiveness and opposition. Put 60 Dems in the Senate and 350 in the House and that handful of dickheads from red states don’t matter anymore.

They can’t hold their critical votes over people’s heads if their votes aren’t critical anymore. And if we have enough Democrats that their voices don’t matter, then we have enough to stop things like this. Things like Trump and his enablers. Things like Pence.

November, bitches. Write and call and yell and make it unpleasant for Republicans to exist in public while this is going on, and then, in November, fucking kick their fucking asses as hard as you possibly can.

In the meantime, if you want to do something, this is a great organization that needs help.


Tuesday Catblogging

The cats continue to just be the best, even if they destroy shit (Ada and my wineglasses) and refuse the expensive food we buy them in favor of trash-ass Fancy Feast (Slade). They play with each other pretty aggressively, not so much that I have to break it up, but Ada will sit underneath Slade and bat at and chew his tail until he’s forced to discipline her, and he’ll lie in wait and jump her as she wanders by.

Then ten seconds later I find them like this. Silly kiddens.


And Then?

Donald Trump is not gonna quit.

Donald Trump is not gonna get impeached, tried, convicted and removed from office.

Donald Trump is not gonna be indicted, probably.

Stop fantasizing about these scenarios.

Donald Trump will be president until 2020.* No matter what happens with Russia, no matter what happens with Congress. We have him for two more years, and we just have to handle that. You know why?

Because any other scenario leads to a truly horrifying amount of violence for the marginalized communities already under attack. Think about it.

Trump resigns. (This presumes a sense of shame he and his advisors don’t have and can’t develop. He’s not going to go quietly and build a presidential library somewhere. I don’t care how long the pee tape is or what he looks like in it. He can’t stop, because if he could stop he’d have done it already.)

Trump gets impeached and tried in the Senate. (The circus that was the Clinton impeachment would look like a parking lot carnival. Hearings would be disrupted constantly, the cable news complex might just actually explode, and it would be impossible to get a word in edgewise in any medium whatsoever. The wrangling alone over the timing and disposition of the trial, the testimony, the amount of witness tampering that’s possible when your entire administration is in hock to the Russian mob? By the time we get around to day one it’ll be 2045.)

EITHER of those come true, and the current culture war dunks itself in lighter fluid and runs through a fireworks tent. Democrats are already DEMONCRAPS and a threat to our democracy, liberals are for threatening and doxxing and attempting to rape, people are screaming about brown-people voter fraud in elections the Republicans WIN.

Trump gets kicked out and/or convinced to quit because of scandal, and remember that whackjob who showed up at the pizza joint? His mini-mes will be in every post office by the following weekend. It’s ALREADY not safe for Hillary to appear in public without a bulletproof vest, you think anybody with an “I’m With Her” hat is gonna be safe?

Trump dying in office is actually worse than either of those scenarios. The man is elderly and obese and not, shall we say, in a good mental place right now, and was not healthy even when he was young. The presidential schedule is punishing even for a guy as lazy as he is, with all the air travel and such. So let’s say he dies of what are declared natural causes, which to the sane among us would be a reasonable pronouncement for a septuagenarian who thinks exercise is a scam.

What do you think happens next?

The investigations on Timmy’s YouTube Amateur Fest, otherwise known as Fox and Friends. That’s what happens next. The theories about poison and secret garrotings and who the White House doctors REALLY ARE, those are what will make it onto Fox News. On 4chan and the MRA subreddits there won’t be theories, just conspiracies, about how someone killed THEIR LORD. His embodiment of their resentment is all that’s keeping them from swatting every girl who was mean to them in high school. Remove that, and there’s just no damn telling.

If God forbid he is assassinated all fucking hell breaks loose. This is actually our worst nightmare. There are people in this country who think they are fighting a race war and they’re not on the fringes anymore. All it would take was one whisper on the wind that a black or brown or Muslim person killed Trump (no matter WHO it actually was) and nobody would be safe.

Every fucking day I hear somebody fantasizing about one of the above scenarios without thinking about who’s going to get hurt once we witness Trump getting his ass beat thoroughly in an election or a courtroom or by his own arteries. I just want us to understand that while there may be rejoicing in liberal blogistan the hatred he’s unleashed is going to be vented on people who already have more to lose and we have to figure out how to keep them safe.

Whenever someone wishes Trump would get indicted or otherwise split town, I have to ask them what they think happens next. And what happens after that, and after that, and after that. We have to start planning for more than just stockpiling champagne.


*Would LOVE to be wrong about any of this and will cheerfully accept the ribbing that will come with my wrongness.

One Hundred Fifty Days

And then the rest of our lives, ladies and motherfuckers. The rest of our lives.

… Republicans have, at best, continued to stand by and allow Trump to undermine and obstruct the FBI. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan acknowledged, on Wednesday, that there is no evidence to support Trump’s spying lies, but at a press conference Thursday, still defended the sham “oversight” that has been used to try and out a legitimate FBI informant.

Trump’s abuses of power are frightening, but they would not be possible without the complicity of Republicans in Congress.

One hundred and fifty days and then I don’t want to hear anymore about how you just weren’t excited to vote for the Democrat you had the chance to vote for, they didn’t tickle your liberal fancy just right, the fucking earth is caving in so either get over yourself and show up for your immigrant, minority, gay, trans brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus or get the fuck off my Internet.

These elections are the only things that matter now. You and I can follow the twists and turns of the Mueller investigation until we have degrees in Internet Lawyering, and we can shield our eyes in horror from the latest Trump idiocy and we can stockpile dry goods for the coming post-apocalyptic hellscape but there’s really only one thing we can do, right now, today.

And that’s register as many people to vote as we possibly can. Because that’s the only thing that can stop it.

The courts can’t. They’ve been stacked since Reagan while liberals have been worried about being mean by Borking every regressive Republicans put up. Mueller can’t, either, not really. Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell are not going to impeach and try Donald Trump no matter what Mueller finds.

Don’t even bring up media, I’ve said what Imma say about the omnipresence of Fox and the alternate reality it nurtures. No story in the Post is going to shame anyone involved here.

The only way to stop this is to vote in as many Democrats as possible.

Yeah, some of them will be shitty Blue Dog middle-of-the-road corporatists, but what you forget when you decry that is that the only thing giving the Manchins of the world their power is the lack of Dems in general in Congress. If all of a sudden there are twice as many Democrats, the three pains in the ass we’re always worried about don’t matter anymore because we don’t need them to get shit done. Looking at you, Heitkamp.

People keep warning about “outrage fatigue” and I thought at first that’s what I had, but what I really have is a lack of giving a shit about the latest dumbass thing the administration does because we need to focus on November and only November. Vote. For anything with a D after its name or anything committed to caucusing with them. I don’t care if you don’t love them. I don’t care if you don’t think they have a message or they aren’t jerking you off on your pet issue. Vote. Straight ticket. Everywhere, every time.

We’re seeing the apotheosis of “maybe things need to get worse before they get better” and I can’t even say they can’t get worse because the universe can hear me, and the only way to make things better at all, bless Mueller’s holy name, is to vote.


Get In The Streets All You OTHER People

Jesus H, unless you are literally tweeting from the American streets, stop telling other people to get in the streets.

Look, I am as outraged about Trump as anyone, and I’ve actually been in the streets multiple times in the past year, but I get irritated at revolutionaries who want to yell about how apathetic everybody ELSE is, like, charter a bus and sign people up, then. Stop being disgusted with the rest of us and set a damn example. And once you’ve done that, shut the fuck up about how everybody else is bad at this.

It’s like the endless declarations of despair over gun violence, or feminism’s failings, or anything else. All it does is make everybody feel like shit, suppress actual action (because if we’re awful losers who can’t do anything, why bother, especially when there’s TV) and make people who are doing the hard work of fighting this shit invisible.

People ARE in the streets. I live in a major metro area in the near-bluest state in the union and goddamn, people are in the streets every fucking day. Don’t disappear them because the protests aren’t as big as you think they should be or as big as your parents told you the 1960s protests were or as big as the March on Washington photos or whatever the fuck else. The perfect crowd doesn’t exist. Join the crowd that does.

Or don’t, but quit shitting on the crowd because it’s not the one you think should exist.


Tuesday Catblogging

Ada peeks out from under the afghan my great-aunt Marie made for me 40 years or so ago. My parents brought the thing with on their last visit and Ada has become completely enamored of it. She’ll sit outside the bedroom and yowl until allowed to come inside and snuggle up in it.



Kick has had the same caregiver since she was eight weeks old.

We are unendingly blessed to have, in our life-with-newborn state of dazed terror, stumbled upon a woman who has spent the past four years filling our daughter’s life with joy and adventure. I fully believe this person puts my child’s happiness above her own on a daily basis and would stop at nothing to keep Kick from harm. She has keys to my house and we’ve borrowed each other’s cars and I trust her completely.

Yet at least once a day I freak out at my desk because Kick is beyond both earshot and arm’s reach of me at that exact moment and I want nothing more than to call up and be like, “So whatcha doin’?” like a fucking psychopath. I was once stranded an extra day on a work trip due to weather and Kick was so happy WITH MY OWN ACTUAL PARENTS she didn’t even want to talk on the phone, and I still nearly tore LaGuardia apart with my bare hands trying to get a flight back in a blizzard because I needed to see my baby.

Growing a human being inside you makes you insane. You all know me, I don’t think women have magical powers and “mommy instinct” isn’t really a thing, but what is a thing? Is having carried a person curled up under your rib cage next to your heart, inside your pulse, feeling them twist and roll and settle into your bones. You never get to be that close to them again and that loss? Is incomprehensible.

In my case it flipped an anxiety switch that obliterated pretty much MY ENTIRE PERSONALITY. Kick was 8 miles away from me as I wrote this, digging in the sandbox a block from our house, with a caregiver who I think sometimes is better for her than I am, and I know objectively that’s where she should be.

But I also know people shoot heroin at that park and every few weeks the city has to comb all the used condoms out of that sandbox and humans are filth pigs and if some creepy old asshole told Kick he had a kitten in his panel van she would totally go with him to see it and she eats anything an adult will put in front of her and is insanely confident about finding her own way places and it only takes ten seconds for a normal day to turn into an episode of SVU.

(Of course none of this will happen. My therapist calls this “catastrophizing.” I was astonished to learn we had a name for what, previously, I had thought of as “being alive.”)

My point is that I can’t be away from my kid, even when she is driving me crazy, for more than 5 minutes without my whole body screaming at me that SOMETHING IS WRONG NOW. Right now at this moment I know exactly where Kick is, and who she is with, and that she is well, and the urge to flip my desk and cab it home and hold her is so powerful it gives me the shakes.

Which is all to say that if you did this to me I would lose my fucking mind:

When we woke up the next morning, immigration officers brought us outside where there were two government cars waiting. They said that I would be going to one place, and my son would go to another. I asked why repeatedly, but they didn’t give me a reason.

The officers forced me to strap my son into a car seat. As I looked for the buckles, my hands shook, and my son started to cry. Without giving me even a moment to comfort him, the officer shut the door. I could see my son through the window, looking back at me — waiting for me to get in the car with him — but I wasn’t allowed to. He was screaming as the car drove away.

A few things about this story that have arisen in the past week: No, MAGA-troids, this is not necessary to deter anyone who is being threatened politically from seeking asylum in the U.S. because nobody thinks about packing up their toddlers and crawling across half a damn continent unless shit is really, really real. So stop with the “maybe they just shouldn’t come here then” crap. The mother in the story above was being teargassed in her home. Most of you red-hatted barcalounging segregationists would shit yourselves if you heard a bottle rocket in the alley.

You are the demographic that calls the cops on black people golfing. If the 82nd Airborne threw down in your cul-de-sac you’d flee to Canada faster than a flock of geese.

Additionally, yes, we can let these people in and give them asylum, them and their families. We can house them, feed them, give them health care and papers and jobs, for roughly what Jeff Bezos blows on lunch. That we have decided not to, and have given it to Jeff B. instead, is a decision we have made and not a reflection on what is physically possible. So just save your “this is what happens in the Great Battle for the Soul of White America” or whatever you are on about in the U.S. comments sections.

Last but not least, STOP THROWING OBAMA AROUND TO JUSTIFY THIS. If this happened under Obama it was bullshit and should stop. It is happening under Trump, and it is bullshit, and it should stop. Both those things can be true. I have zero interest here in being morally superior so if I congratulate you on your superior OWNZING of the neolibs with your “this is an Obama policy” crack, can we give these mothers their babies back please? Can we do the job in front of us, right now today?

Because it’s monstrous. It’s incomprehensible. There is no reason for it and there’s no possible justification that fits within the bounds of human decency. The ONLY justification for doing it to other parents is that our society sincerely considers that perhaps parents of color do not love their children as much as we virtuous honkies do. That they wouldn’t tear the world open with their teeth to get their children back.

I don’t believe that of anyone.


How to Rise

Screw Rudy and George and the pile of burning metal they rode into myth on:

The problem with this movie isn’t so much that Rudy was shitty and then wasn’t. It’s that anyone on earth can show up in a crisis and we think that proves anything at all.

Think about it. Think about an actual crisis. Yes, shit is on fire, but you have something discrete to do. Your job is to stand in front of the cameras and calm everybody down. Approve things someone else has thought of. Say yes and no. You can be calm in that, when everybody’s watching.

But the next day? And the next? And the next? The days after, or before, all eyes are on you? When there’s no galvanizing event, when there’s no movie playing in your head complete with inspiring soundtrack? Can you show up then?

Can you do it when nobody’s watching? When nobody’s taking pictures? Can you do it when you know nobody’s ever gonna throw you a parade?

It’s not even about “in adversity,” because adversity, too, is grounding and centering and motivating. When they’re throwing rotten fruit at you you can laugh and duck and give them the finger. Can you work for others when your work is ignored? When the response to your almost killing yourself is, at most, a shrug?

That’s the test. The hard, grinding, everyday bullshit of working for the common good, that’s the prize.

W. stood on the debris pile and yelled into a microphone and the whole country listened. Rudy held everyone in his hands and said the death toll may be more than we can bear. It’s hard to remember those moments honestly now because shortly thereafter everybody lost their whole entire minds, but in those moments they were needed, these two clown princes of public life, and they did a job.

They did a job and did it well. But it wasn’t THE job, and the problem with a redemption story is that it ends, redeemed. We get so angry and disappointed with our leaders and our lives because nothing is like that, nothing at all.

What is the story if it’s just getting up every single day and making the coffee? Where’s the soundtrack for that? For the long walk home after you cross the finish line, for the stretch and the laundry and the dinner the next night? What if you were judged by the public not on how high you rise in the moment but on where you settle down, at the close of the day, when you’re bone tired and all you want to do is sleep?

What if we judged based on what you did then? What would that look like? Just you, alone in the dark, working on something that nobody cares about, sanding it down and making it fine and true. No one will ever see it. No one will properly appreciate it. No one will even know.

Do you do the job then?

That’s your fucking Capra film.




Sean Spicer is a nice guy!

From articles I read, people who knew him (on both sides) said he wasn’t a bad guy even if they didn’t agree with him. So I can see where he gets the job thinking “OK, all that was just for the election but now it will just be a White House administration like any other.’ Then he actually has to do the job and is like “Fuck! This isn’t what I signed up for.”

Honestly, if that was the case he should have walked on Day 1 out the door but I dunno….maybe he thought others could reign Trump in a bit…Trump would realize he couldn’t just spout off whatever he thought & let his Press Secretary do his job…whatever. Spicey is someone you want to hate and then you see all this goofy stuff he does (like the van pic) and then don’t.

He was a part of this administration after “grab ’em by the pussy” and mocking disabled reporters and calling Mexican immigrants rapists.

That’s it. That’s enough. That’s all it should take to get you blackballed from polite society forever.

No takebacks after you quit. No book deals from legitimate publishers. No fucking jokey appearances among your fellow rich Caucasians at parties. No talk show appearances. You worked for a fucking criminal and liar, we’re done.

This goes double for half the #NeverTrump crowd, btw. Write an apology book and it’s like all those people dead in NOLA didn’t happen! Magic.



Atrios gets close to something here that we talk about a lot: 

I get the objective pose in journalism, and it makes sense in a lot of contexts, but in political coverage it is inconsistently applied and, for normal people, completely inverted. It’s okay to express outrage that someone said something mean about John McCain. It’s “political” and “taking sides” to give a shit about brown kids being kidnapped from their parents. It would not be “taking sides” to give a shit if white kids were being kidnapped from their DC private schools. In other parts of journalism, the question of what to emphasize can be divorced from ideological leanings, but in political coverage it just can’t be. It is everything.

Which is the question of escalation. It’s a three-day crisis when a comedian kinda-sorta insults Sarah Huckabee Sanders, but call Hillary Clinton a “bull dyke” (as Roger Stone did) and not only will no one raise an eyebrow, you might even get invited on CNN as an expert source! Only some things get escalated to all-day-speculation-and-chatter status.

Only some things are worth examining or arguing about, and raising to the level of discussion that everybody and their hairdresser can have an opinion about it.

I sat at a table recently listening to someone very seriously make the argument that Democrats — currently our last best hope for keeping many people alive — just needed to “find a voice” that could “rise above the chaos” and somehow magically capture media attention, as if what gets made into a weeklong story is a matter of merit. As if, if the work is good enough, it will magically find its audience. As if none of this is true:

And built into most of the reporting are certain assumptions that at best make no sense and at worst are, themselves, highly ideological. Bipartisanship is good, even though usually the worst things in DC happen under the cover of bipartisanship. Deficits are bad, unless caused by tax cuts. Poor people get “welfare” and rich people get “incentives.” There is no racism, there are just things that are “racially charged.” The only poor people in America are white people in coal country. Black people don’t exist in the South or, really, anywhere. Cops are good. The military is unquestionably good. Republican style patriotism is good.

We have deeply lazy, stupid people in charge of our public discourse, and they will twist themselves into knots rather than admit something counter to their narrative does in fact exist. Maggie Haberman’s all over Twitter yelling that the word “lie” doesn’t matter and Politico’s “analysts” are calling Trump’s goat rodeo in North Korea some kind of secret brilliance and it’s all to avoid having to do things differently. We act like there are rules stopping us from doing or saying anything.

There aren’t any rules. At least, none that we didn’t make up, and can un-make.


Not Everything Sucks, Farming Edition

At my ‘hood’s Farmer’s Market recently Kick and I spent half an hour talking bees with this organization, which manages hives all over the West Side of Chicago and makes delicious honey. I thought of that when I read this story: 

Brown formed a partnership with Boe Luther and Wallace Kirby, two gardeners from Ward 7 who started Hustlaz 2 Harvesters to offer people released from incarceration ways out of poverty into urban agriculture careers and other social enterprises. Brown, a certified master composter for the city, helped Luther and Kirby transform an empty lot into the Dix Street community garden as part of an urban agricultural initiative called Soilful City.

Only 1 in 10 Americans eats the daily recommendation of fruits and vegetables, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and people living in poverty have especially low rates of consumption of fresh produce. Access to healthy produce is difficult in low-income communities like Clay Terrace, because major chain supermarkets are reluctant to locate their stores there. Ward 7 has only one large grocery store, and that means the people who live there have a harder time obtaining more fruits and vegetables to help reduce cardiovascular risk.

Yet Brown, Luther, and Kirby believe the community can grow its way out of food scarcity through the Dix Street garden and similar projects. They say crops that were staples of their African ancestors’ diets hold an essential key to restoring the community’s health.

“It’s not just about vegetables—we’re building a new way to rebuild neighborhoods,” Brown says.

People are trying to save each other every damn day. Don’t forget that.


WRT Mueller

Just a quick note on the savior of the Republic.

Look. I am as susceptible as anyone to Twitter outrage over whatever Mueller’s found today that incriminates Trump and everyone around him. However, I want everyone to understand that a Republican Congress is not going to impeach Donald. Under no circumstances. The four loud Never Trumpers aren’t enough here, especially since they don’t back up their talk-show bullshit with votes.

November is all that matters. It’s ALL that matters. Even that might not be enough, but you gotta check some of his bullshit and Congress is the only way to do that. The courts are one Supreme away from being lost forever. If we want to stop Trump it’s gonna happen in the Capitol and in state houses across the country so buckle up and register some goddamn voters.

Yes, it’s an outrage (whatever it is we’ve found today, I dunno, I haven’t checked in 30 seconds or so) and yes, it’s fun to pop the corn. I’m not saying I ain’t drinking champagne on indictment day. But remember Fitzmas, remember Scooter Libby, and keep your eye on the fucking ball.


Why I Shouldn’t Be President


Guys, this is like the only part of Trump — besides his clowning on Ted Cruz — that makes any sense to me. I would install a Diet Coke button and a button that brings me chips and salsa, and I would have someone every day at 3 come in and give me a phone full of kitten videos and then I would use the full faith and credit of the United States to screw with everyone who was mean to me in college.

I am a petty, vindictive bitch who doesn’t so much hold grudges as cuddle them lovingly and tell them they’re pretty.

Like, yes, theoretically, the Constitution and shit, but there are places I’d like to send the 82nd Airborne and if they work for me, sorry Wrigley Field, you’ve had a good run. The IRS is gonna be all up in the grill of certain historically conservative publications and I won’t feel bad about it at all. Congress gets upset, they can impeach me, the cowardly bastards.


I mean come on: 

Now, according to four sources close to the White House, Trump is discussing ways to escalate his Twitter attacks on Amazon to further damage the company. “He’s off the hook on this. It’s war,” one source told me. “He gets obsessed with something, and now he’s obsessed with Bezos,” said another source. “Trump is like, how can I fuck with him?”

According to sources, Trump wants the Post Office to increase Amazon’s shipping costs. When Trump previously discussed the idea inside the White Hose, Gary Cohn had explained that Amazon is a benefit to the Postal Service, which has seen mail volume plummet in the age of e-mail. “Trump doesn’t have Gary Cohn breathing down his neck saying you can’t do the Post Office shit,” a Republican close to the White House said. “He really wants the Post Office deal renegotiated. He thinks Amazon’s getting a huge fucking deal on shipping.”

This is why you don’t elect petty, vindictive, venal little bitches to be president of the United States. When you’re a CEO, you can do things like visit unspeakable acts upon those who bother you. If you wanna run a workplace where you hide dead fish in the desks of your rivals you go ahead and you do that. You find competitive advantages and you use them, and then you find ways to punish people for screwing with you, and you use those, too.

I’m not telling anybody running a business not to be ruthless about it. The high road is for snipers.

This is why the United States isn’t a business and the president isn’t a CEO. We keep electing these clowns (see Rauner, Bruce and Fitzgerald, Peter) who claim they can just yell government into submission with the magic powers of their business voices, or something. Like the problems must be easy to solve, and lazy politicians just don’t want to solve them. That’s it!

And then they get into power and the legislative branch says okay honey, go play with your Diet Coke button and let us do the real work, and these CEOs get all flummoxed. Yelling at the interns worked so well at Corporation X! Why won’t these junior congressmen from Utah do what I want? Why can’t I call in the National Guard if somebody bugs me? I was told I was now the most powerful man in the world!

Yeah, you’re not. And the junior congressmen from Utah don’t work for you. At best they work for their crabby, disaffected voters and at worst they work for themselves, and they, too, want a Diet Coke button someday.

I know I do.


Not Everything Sucks, Even in Prison

This is the world: 

Seven days a week, the workers pull 10- to 15-hour shifts, often longer. It’s one of the lowest paid jobs available, making just 15 to 32 cents an hour. They brush patients’ teeth, massage sore limbs, read books out loud, strip soiled mattresses and assist the medical staff. Trust is a rare currency in prison, and some patients whisper conspiracies that the hospice doctors and nurses prioritize the interests of the criminal-justice system over their well-being. The workers can serve as the trusted middlemen between the patients and medical staff. When patients are in their final hours, it is the workers who sit bedside, holding round-the-clock vigils. They pride themselves on their policy: No prisoner here dies alone.

People have a phenomenal capacity for kindness and courage, and we underestimate that just all the goddamn time.


Color Blindness

I remember the first time Kick directly identified someone’s race. It wasn’t long ago. I’d waved to a neighbor through the window while we were having breakfast and she asked who I was waving at.

“Mr. M-, honey. He’s out in his yard.”

She turned, waved to him, and asked, “He’s a black man, right?”

“Right,” I said, trying to within three seconds identify if her intonation implied she thought this was a negative, something to be afraid of, something to mock, that would need to be corrected. It sounded neutral, a descriptive, the way she’d say the baby next door was a boy or Grandma has brown hair.

She’s been around families of any number of races and ethnic backgrounds since she was born, and while she’d noticed differences — that man is tall, that woman has curly hair — she’d never before asked if someone was black or Hispanic or Asian. We’ve read books about Rosa Parks and Ella Fitzgerald and Maya Angelou, about Frida Kahlo, and most recent children’s books include depictions of children of color, though fewer of them as protagonists than they should.

It’s not enough that she has a diverse environment and lives and learns with students of all races, when in our house we’re all so Caucasian as to be nearly transparent. There are still conversations to be had, about why Rosa Parks couldn’t sit at the front of the bus, or why people were mean to Maya Angelou, or what we are protesting next Saturday, or what someone down the street said to someone else.

White parents don’t get to be lazy about marking and honoring the differences between people, not when so many people use those differences to divide. Not when kids notice EVERYTHING, all the time, including how we talk about people of other races when we think they aren’t listening.

That morning, Kick was attacking her toaster waffle with gusto and I’m not sure was paying much attention to my subsequent explanation that Mr. M- has a skin color people call black even though it’s more of a dark brown, and we have a skin color people call white even though it’s more pink. By the time I got to the part about how skin color can be passed down in families sometimes but not always, she was off playing with My Little Ponies and I was basically lecturing to the cats. Race Conscious has good advice but it doesn’t always track with a 4-year-old’s attention span.

What talks do you remember having with your parents about race, and what did they tell you?


I Should Feel Good and I Don’t

No matter how many NYT op-eds get run slobbing the knobs of every Trump voter in existence, they are gonna tell you how much liberals hate them, and you can’t argue with that: 

I agree that Nancy Pelosi probably shouldn’t spend her days going on MSNBC and calling conservative voters stupid racist shitwhistles.

Also Nancy Pelosi does not do that. Nor do the liberal hosts on MSNBC as far as I am aware of. Nor does anyone except cranky people on twitter (in the old days this was cranky people on blogs, but blogs don’t exist anymore).

It’s absolutely immaterial whether Nancy Pelosi hates conservative voters or not. She probably doesn’t, because she probably doesn’t think about them all that hard, which just pisses them off more.

We keep engaging with the substance of their criticism. “Liberals hate us!” And we rush to reassure them, like that’s going to make a difference, like they’re engaging with real people and not the versions of us they keep to chatter at them in their heads.

Because they hate themselves. They live beset with fear that they are inferior and small, like all of us, and greedy little hucksters like Roger Ailes, Rupert Murdoch, Robert Mercer and Donald Trump have always known how to prey on such people. So telling them you really do love them, you really do, and there aren’t many liberals out there who hate them, if any at all, won’t convince them of anything.

After all, we’re secretly laughing at them, and so of course that’s what somebody secretly laughing at you would say.

You can’t argue with paranoia, nor with those addicted to it. They’re crackheads for the Fox News vision of the world and who they are in it, and you don’t argue a crackhead out of their crackheadery. You try to get them into rehab, and for sure you stop giving them money, but you don’t genuinely expect them to listen to your well-reasoned argument that crack is bad and they should stop smoking it for lunch and make a rational decision based on listening.

And we think Trump is rock bottom for them. We have no idea how far down this goes.


I Do Not Want a Grateful Child Today

Happy Mommy Martyr Day!

Sunday is Mother’s Day.  I know this because I have been to the mall three times in the past few weeks (through no fault of my own).  You can’t walk past a single shiny window without being bombarded with the certain way to make your mother happy come this Sunday morning —  BUY THIS.  Mom needs that.  IF YOU LOVE HER, YOU WILL SPEND A LOT OF MONEY ON HER.

I hate this stupid holiday. I hate the flower commercials and I hate the greeting cards and I hate the “spa day” thing and I hate the alcohol marketing, the you’re-why-Mommy-drinks little “jokes.” I hate all of it and it makes my skin crawl every year.

(I hate this holiday despite having a good mother, who cared for us and exhibited all the qualities lauded on greeting cards and in syrupy jewelry commercials: generosity, patience, kindness. I know for many of you, that’s not something that can be said, and it complicates the whole thing even more.)

Maybe it’s having lost my much-loved mother-in-law a few short weeks ago, a detonation in our lives around which the dust is still settling. More likely it’s my prickly relationship with my own motherhood, with the Mommy Wars that demand reflexive worship of childbearing without any recognition of the cost of mothering (or not mothering) in American society. I say worship because its implied adoration subtracts doubt and complication, replaces gratitude with supplicative guilt. It makes of a mother an object, to appease and to whom we atone. We direct feelings toward an implacable, unknowable, distant figure, and consider neither that figure’s motivations nor our own.

But what’s wrong with taking one day to say thank you? Nothing. Look, if your mom worked two jobs or gave you a kidney I ain’t telling you not to say thank you for that. If you were a screwup kid, and you want to apologize to your mom once a year for being an asshole, that’s one thing, as is simply wanting to say thank you and needing, I guess, a day other than every single one ending in Y to say it.

But the coercive, slavering Mother’s Day marketing — that implies children should feel ashamed of their weight in a family and try to make up for it — does nobody any honor, least of all mothers. There’s nothing wrong with taking a day to appreciate but there is something wrong with reducing motherhood to that day and nailing Mom to the cross on it.

I hear you already: You’ll understand when your daughter is older! Yeah, maybe, and then I hope you print this out and staple it to my forehead: I don’t want my child’s implied apology for the work I choose to do raising her.

It’s work. Of course it’s work. I play games when I’m tired and go to the park when I’m sick and read to her when her 5,000th request of Wheedle on the Needle bores me senseless, and I come home early for dinner when I could be out with friends. I cook endless pans of mac and cheese and cut her toast into quarters. I sign her up for soccer camp and make doctor’s appointments and ponder how she manages to rip holes in the knees of every pair of leggings she has. She’s the reason I function on six hours of sleep and eight cups of coffee and I swear to God the next time I have to remind her not to carry the cat around like he’s a feckin’ football I’m gonna lose it.

And I don’t ever even once want her to think that any of that was some noble sacrifice I made despite my heart’s desires, or think about how she was a bother or a chore or a piece of drudgery.

Because here’s the secret: We all are. Everything we do is in spite of our selfish instinct to lay on the couch and watch TV. I work hard for her and I work hard for Mr. A and for me and our friends and our families and for causes and causes and causes I care about. I work hard because I’m fecking breathing and that’s what you do. Parenting is hard work. Friendship is hard work. My two dumb cats are hard work. Love is hard work, and we do ourselves no favors by pretending it shouldn’t be.

Half of adult misery is waiting for a parade that isn’t coming or a rest that isn’t restful, thinking you’re due something you ain’t gonna get, and the problem with these days of special gratitude is that they end and then you go back to what you think is the grind. As if hard work can’t be deeply, deeply rewarding and not in an “it was all worth it, even the times you puked on me” grudging kind of mockingly resentful way.

I don’t want Kick to be grateful for a life we gave her, I want her to be a part of a life we’re all living every day, that we’re all working for, together. I want her to be kind and strong and unafraid, and I want her to love and be loved, and I want her to have joy in her work whatever that work is, and I want her to know that nothing is truly thankless unless you make it so.

Not even motherhood. Not for a minute. Not when every night there’s a pair of small arms around my neck and a whispered, “I love you, Mama” right before she pretends to fall asleep when we both know she’s gonna flop around in her bed for an hour talking to her stuffies and then whisper through the baby monitor, “Can I kiss the cats goodnight one more time?”


We Don’t Need a Man

Look, about this Schneiderman stuff: 

Perhaps Schneiderman’s most significant role in Trump’s presidency, though, has to do with Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation — and particularly, the case against Paul Manafort. Given that a president can only pardon someone for federal crimes, Schneiderman is viewed as something of a backstop — the guy who could take up the case against Trump’s former campaign chairman for state crimes if Trump effectively wipes Manafort’s federal slate clean. Schneiderman has been investigating Manafort, and he has even leaned into the pardon situation pretty publicly. Last month, he asked lawmakers to change the state’s double jeopardy law to exempt presidential pardons, which would mean he and local prosecutors could try people at the state level for crimes that have already been tried in federal court. In his letter calling for the change, Schneiderman made clear it was about Trump’s apparent pardon deliberations.

Okay, he’s gross, yank him out of there, put somebody else in, right?

“We may see a slowdown in the short term, but maintaining a firewall against Trump policies and sustained action against Trump allies may become a de facto litmus test for the new AG,” said Basil Smikle, the former executive director of the state Democratic Party.

Added New York Democratic consultant Hank Sheinkopf: “The last three New York state attorneys general — [Eliot] Spitzer, [Andrew] Cuomo, Schneiderman — have all aggressively used their offices to take on national issues. Schneiderman’s replacement will likely continue.”

I know we are all about the cult of the individual, all about the Steve Jobs genius theory where a great man somehow manages to do what previously could not be done, but it’s kind of horseshit always, and it leads to things like valuing total assholes more highly than the functioning of an organization.

We imbue these people with superhuman powers, like Matt Lauer or Charlie Rose are the only people who can talk on TV because they have some kind of gift. Trump’s entire candidacy — and to be honest the candidacy of every CEO-type who runs for public office for the first time — was predicated on him being a special guy who could solve problems big dumb government couldn’t solve. (A lot of people thought that about Obama, too, including at times Obama.)

We devalue the office and the law and the structures we’ve created by propping up these oh-so-special people and that in turn enables them to think they can do anything they want because their value places them above the law or the norms of society. It makes it more difficult for victims to come forward and be believed, because if we value someone as a magical person instead of creating ways for work to be done, we see accusations like these as a threat.

We should value the work. Plenty of people who are good at their jobs are assholes, but what enables them to get away with it is placing a higher value on keeping this particular man in place than in getting the work done. Very few of us, and certainly none of the hairdos who’ve gone down recently, are irreplaceable.