Category Archives: Athenae

Swastikas & Pride Flags Are Not Equal Opposites

Speaking of free speech abstractions and people buying into their own bullshit:

Fuckin’ fuck’s sake. These aren’t opposing points of view:

Nazi wearing swastika: I want everyone who isn’t Aryan to die.

Gay person wearing a Pride flag: I would like to be able to live my life free of persecution and systemic inequality.

DO WE REALLY NOT SEE THE GODDAMN DIFFERENCE? Angus’s mentions are full of idiots who don’t. Intentions matter, and power structure matters, and incitement matters, and don’t throw antifa in my face until you can point to the number of concentration camps run by antifa and the number of congressmen who take money from antifa-sympathizing groups.

The only thing Nazi speech and antifa speech have in common is that both are produced by moving your mouth.

A.

 

Who Profits When We Fight?

The Daily Cal has been fucking killin’ it on the “Free Speech Week” fiasco: 

When UC Berkeley asked Young America’s Foundation, or YAF, and the Berkeley College Republicans to pay nearly $16,000 in security fees for Ben Shapiro’s speech, YAF lashed out immediately, stating that campus administration was taxing conservative free speech.

But public financial returns obtained by The Daily Californian show that every year, YAF spends millions of dollars funding campus events such as Shapiro’s, propped up by tens of millions in annual donations from many wealthy, powerful foundations linked to prominent conservatives such as Donald Rumsfeld, the DeVos family and Charles and David Koch.

This organization is the driving force behind many tumultuous, conservative events scheduled on campus. It was one of the many voices that pushed hardest to make Ann Coulter’s controversial appearance at UC Berkeley happen — before pulling its support two days before the event.

Way to go, student journos who are asking real questions while America’s august editorial boards are wanking to that ever-popular tune, The Highest Form of Free Speech is Bowing Down to the Loudest Butthole in the Room. Because there are these abstractions, and don’t get me wrong I will engage you in a debate about theoretical shit all day long, but at the end of the day somebody’s getting paid, and I’d rather talk about that with the limited time we have left on a habitable planet.

Assholes like YAF (a bunch of hoary Nixon bagmen dressing up their regressive segregationism as Hip New Rebellion) WANT America’s elite opinion columnists leading thoughts at their thought leader conferences about the merits of letting someone threaten and scream at you. Their whole schtick is “if you don’t let me call you names and threaten to deport you, you’re a pussy who doesn’t deserve freedom.” Their type has been railing against campus activists since the dawn of campus activism (which came shortly after the dawn of campuses) precisely because they know it plays into the inherent biases of the people they provoke.

That’s their entire game, it always has been, and for the life of me I will never understand the genre of journalism that is basically, “Here is a scam, let me describe how I fall for it.” Glowing profiles of shitkickers like Ann, asking what the sexy new Nazis want out of life, empathizing with very fine people who just want to yell about welfare, that’s been a whole beat for decades now, and its writers want credit for documenting the apocalypse?

Good for the kids at the Cal, for standing up and pointing out what the real problem is here. It ain’t free speech. It’s the very expensive kind.

A.

The Olds Are Alright, Too

I’m ’bout done hearing how exhausted we all are because if this guy can keep fighting so can everybody else: 

On platforms that didn’t exist during his first 80 years, Smith preaches about preserving democracy and the welfare state, creating a just society and living a life of compassion, all from an enthusiastically leftist perspective. And he rails against Donald Trump, Brexit, inequality, corporate greed and whatever else he finds loathsome, his pointed words delivered with an engaging, guy-on-the-next-barstool folksiness.

In his tenth decade, Smith is trying to change the world, with the urgency of someone who understands the time constraints.

“As we get into our late years, surely we should all be endeavouring to give something back to the country, to make it a better place when we leave,” he says. “Life is not permanent, although a lot of people look at me and say, you’re coming damn close to it.”

[snip]

“People always express surprise about these things,” he says. “But, really, I joined the Royal Air Force in 1941 and I went in as a wireless operator. I had to learn about transmitters and receivers and generators and all sorts of things that I’d never heard of in my whole life but we learnt them; including Morse Code which was our only means of transferring information. So we weren’t dumb buggers.”

Anybody want to tell this guy they’re tired?

A.

It’s About To Get Bad Again. And Again. And Again.

Here we go again: 

In releasing a revised version of their legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Senators Bill Cassidy and Lindsey Graham, along with co-sponsors Dean Heller and Ron Johnson, claimed that their bill isn’t a “partisan” approach and doesn’t include “draconian cuts.” In reality, however, the Cassidy-Graham bill would have the same harmful consequences as those prior bills. It would cause many millions of people to lose coverage, radically restructure and deeply cut Medicaid, and increase out-of-pocket costs for individual market consumers.

As I was thinking about having to fight this again, when we’ve already defeated it twice (three times if you count the popular vote last fall), I went back through the Twitter hole and found this:

Listen to that. Listen to that roar. And be glad for the fight, because every day we’re still fighting is a day we ain’t dead.

There’s joy in the fight. To say that sounds like I’m trivializing it, like this middle class white chick is having a great time out there playing SJW, hippie-chic weekender posing for Instagram photos on stolen ground.

But there are lots of people out there who can’t fight, themselves. Who can’t show up. Who can’t come to the protest or sit all night in the congressman’s office or spend a morning making phone calls or hold up a sign. Who have jobs they can’t leave, or disabilities that limit their movement or speech, or lives they can’t risk by resisting.

If you can, that’s a kind of privilege, too, and you owe it to them not just to march but to march loudly, to make a big noise, to remind those sumbitches that they haven’t killed us yet. They haven’t made us small and they haven’t made us scared. Pissed, sure, that we have to do this AGAIN, but not miserable. Not beaten. Not tired.

A colleague said to me not long after the election that joy had to be part of our politics, and I’ve been puzzling over it ever since, and I think what I’ve come around to thinking about is that we think of joy like we think of prayer, as a feeling, a passive state of being, instead of as active and purposeful work.

There’s joy in the fight, in putting your hands to the task and knowing you’re giving what you’ve got in the direction you can go. And if you do get tired, if you are beaten down, if the noise you wanna make starts sound less like a joyful one and more like a dirge, just listen to the roar of the people in that video, who fought so hard and won. Listen to that sound, my country tis of thee America, because it’s our national motherfucking anthem.

Raise your voice and sing along.

A.

Mortally Wound Something, Then Say It’s Dying

It’s the GOP playbook: 

The truth is that most people don’t know the open enrollment dates, and they don’t know that the deadline this year is December 15 — not January 31, like last year. They don’t know that by shopping on Healthcare.gov they are likely to find a plan that costs less than a $100 a month. I know this, because my office produced reams of data that proved the overall effectiveness of outreach advertising.

Signing up for health care is a big decision, especially for those who have never had health insurance. People think it’s out of reach, that they can’t afford it, that it’s just too difficult — or they’re young and healthy, so why bother? And the ongoing public debate about repeal has only added to the confusion. So it’s no surprise some people will throw up their hands and roll the dice, betting they won’t getting too sick or too injured.

Advertising, backed up by an informative website and in-person assistance, can help people grasp that health coverage under the ACA may be more affordable than they think, leading them to sign up.

This shit isn’t magic. I know everybody thinks that with the Internet all you have to do is put something “out there” and everyone will flock to it but news fucking flash, lots of people aren’t online constantly, lots of poor sick people aren’t online especially, the communal computers at the library don’t have a waiting list because high-speed Internet is available everywhere, and basically this is like the least dumb thing we could be spending our money on.

You have to go where people are, and you have to pay for that. I wish there was a way around it. God knows lots of things would be easier without money, such as food and shelter and actual health care, but right now where we are is so fucked that it’s going to require buckets of money to pull us out.

I started thinking the other day about all the damage Trump is doing, and that the GOP has done over the past 40 years, destroying most of all the will to preserve the common good. I know so many rich/middle class people who genuinely believe paying taxes is like some kind of favor they do for poor people, like they don’t get roads and snowplows and parks out of it, like the water just comes out of the tap by magic. It’s become so easy, in our politics-as-persecution-theology, to imagine ourselves alone.

It’s going to take buckets of money to pull us back from that and our Dem leadership is so shitass scared of being accused of GIVING ALL YOUR MONEY TO THE BLACKS that they’re willing to bend over for every tax incentive that lifts its skirt, but not willing to be honest about how much shit costs AND how much we should be willing to shoulder those costs because of the benefits. Heaven forfend we appear to be on the side of the widow, the orphan, and the goddamn parents just trying to figure out how to buy milk.

Building things costs money. Flood remediation costs money. Healthcare costs money and I’m about done hearing that we should just GoFundMe every single disaster instead of using the giant GoFundMe mechanism known as government to get some shit done.

A.

Who We Picture

Yuuuuuup: 

We find that white Trump supporters randomly exposed to a black (versus a white) man in the context of soliciting their support for a housing-assistance policy were more opposed to the policy, angrier about the policy, and more likely to blame beneficiaries for their situation.

This is what comes of 40 years of screaming about “welfare queens” and dismantling the common good in favor of the wealthy while pretending the only people who worked hard were white people. My fellow palefolks can only get behind something if it looks like something they might get. If someone else might get it, and that person doesn’t look like them? Nah.

I swear this blanket resentment is a bigger sickness than the warmongering and that’s a pretty deep sickness.

A.

Fix The Lack of Lefty Media First

Wonkette Editrix speaks for me:

Look, we all spend days and weeks and months debunking Trump nonsense and making fun of bad Dem messaging and … I’m not immune, okay, to what this whole entire blog of mine is about, but Rebecca up there is right. The right funds its embarrassing Pajamas Media Assrocket Hannidate shit endlessly no matter how bad it is or how much stick they take, because the InfoWars pipeline eventually leads to the nightly news and the Oval Office, and they understand the long goddamn game.

The Professional Left? We’re mostly out here hooking for HoHos and hoping our day jobs don’t disappear so that we can keep personally subsidizing such unimportant liberal ideas as “science is real” and “we should give poor children food.” There are at least half a dozen liberal bloggers who, with a decent salary from some middling organization with a vague name, would be alive right now. Some of my friends died sick and broke and they were worth a thousand Hindrakers.

And while I agree with this in principle:

Nothing MATTERS until the media disparity is remedied. I mean, my personal desire would be for Ye Olden Investors to put some of their apparently limitless cash into local newspapers instead of letting wingnut chains buy them all up and gut them. But the current state of things means that even if Dems come up with the smartest possible slogan, the most damning of all possible Trump smoking guns, the most detailed plan to help every last man, woman and child in the Sainted Working Class, how the unholy living fuck is anybody even gonna know?

America right now is out there saving itself from drowning and burning, but you turn on Fox News and this is the sort of shit you read. If all there is is Fox, and Fox ain’t covering your shit, and Fox is pretending Trump is the best president EVAR!!11! and your Republican governor is a job-creating dynamo, no plan makes a difference.

It’s why Trump debunkings just annoy me now. Nobody’s even hearing them.

Nobody HEARD Hillary’s detailed social and economic policy proposals. Nobody heard Bernie’s, either, not really, and wouldn’t have if he was the nominee, don’t kid yourselves. Whatever hairdo with money we nominate next time will get the same treatment no matter how many cheesesteaks they make J.D. Vance watch them hork down. They’ll propose Universal Basic Income and every podiatrist’s office in the Midwest will be blaring SENATOR LIBERAL Q. CHILDRAPIST WANTS TO GIVE YOUR MONEY TO THE BLACKS.

People don’t just wake up one day and change the channel. Fox News for DECADES built its brand and didn’t care that its ratings sucked and didn’t care that everyone laughed and didn’t care that nobody cared about the stories they were covering. For 40 years, the Right has been subsidizing faux-bestsellers and taking over local opinion pages and funding things called “LifeZette” and holding conferences where they make stars out of any tit that can string a complete sentence together.

They’ve done that so we can be where we are now: With fully 60 percent of the county hearing a narrative that places white resentment and nationalist propaganda above any semblance of the common good. That can’t continue.

We’ve gotta build stuff, and we gotta make peace with the fact that 90 percent of it is going to be shit, for a long long time. We’ve gotta stop chasing them and start going where they’re not. Sure, Verrit is run by a Hillary stan and seems on its face like a solution to a problem nobody has. WHO FUCKING CARES? Let it suck. The lesson here is to fund the next thing, that doesn’t suck as much, and the one after that which is mediocre, and the one after that which is pretty good, and the one after that which is great.

I mean, we can keep going the way we’ve been going, and hope that if our August Traditional Media just assign the right emoji or number of Pinocchios to Trump that he’ll magically resign and end the GOP across the country by fiat, but that doesn’t seem to be working out so well for us at the moment.

A.

Just To Be Mean

There’s no reason for any of this.

DACA recipients aren’t taking jobs, they aren’t criminals, they aren’t hurting anyone. They’re working or going to school, they’re paying taxes, serving in the military, doing what we tell everybody a Good American and a Good Immigrant should do, and we’re gonna deport them just ’cause.

This is the fuck-you administration. TTo kick the weaker kid, to laugh along with the bully so the bully won’t bully you. Undo everything Obama did because it’s fun to pick on the black president these people hate, smack immigrant kids around because they can’t fight back.

Part of the frustration in dealing with this administration’s supporters comes from the attraction they have to this kind of bullying. I made the drug addict comparison a few months ago, with regard to the steady diet of meanness and hate people consume through their TVs and radios, and how that hate means more to them than their children and their friends.

It’s hard to argue with someone’s weakness, because their weakness is their fear, and you can’t argue someone out of a fear. They have to decide to take the leap to not be afraid of the bullies anymore, to not go along with whatever the meanest, loudest guy in the room is saying. Until they do, we’re going to keep looking for reasons they’re doing what they’re doing, when there isn’t a reason.

It’s just to be mean.

A.

The Moral Meteorologists

How we made the flood: 

This is real life.  This is reality.  This is, in fact, the consequences of ignoring reality, of thinking the free market knows best, that engineering will save us even when we ignore it and live in defiance of it, that everything is taken care of in this best of all possible worlds because “invisible hand”!  The Dutch plan for 10,000 year floods; much of Europe builds to a 1000 year flood standard.  We’ve had two 500 year floods in a row before this, and it didn’t even teach us to be prepared for Harvey, because flood control doesn’t increase property sales, it’s not an engine of economic opportunity.  We don’t even plan to a 100 year flood, and look where it got us.  We don’t need comforting words about “recovery.”  We need the truth about what we’ve done to ourselves and what we can do about it.

Emphasis mine, and by the by I’m sorry, Robert, for not linking to your excellent blog more lately. Sometimes I forget to read everything. But there’s like six people I can stand to hear talk about faith and you’re one of them.

Those of you who aren’t reading his site, just know it’s walked me through some pretty dark nights and couldn’t we all use that lately.

Those of you who’ve been reading THIS site for a while know I go crazy when news orgs use passive, view-from-nowhere, it-just-happened language to talk about the state this country’s in. How we “became” polarized and public discourse “deteriorated” and the swirling controversies and the shifting sands and the squalls at sea.

Part of my frustration since the GOP took back Congress under Obama, and all during the past year, is the near-constant abdication of responsibility for our society. Our leaders — and I include Our August Punditry as well as politicians — are moral meteorologists, calmly pointing out on the large map where the destruction of the American ideal is taking place, describing the way the flood is washing us all away. Like nobody wrecked this country, at least not on purpose, like these are developing storm systems and you can’t point to any real cause.

But of course you can point to a cause, even with a storm: Cold air forces its way into warm air, or vice versa. And you can take some action: Sandbags, shelters. The rain it raineth every day but we decide where the water goes. Humans decide, humans make systems and humans can unmake them, but not if they don’t admit to their own authority.

Not if they pretend they’re blameless.

We’ve been pretending we’re blameless for a long damn time now. Jobs are gone; well, that’s the new global economy, whaddya gonna do? Roads are crumbling, schools are overcrowded; well, we can’t afford to fix it all, whaddya gonna do? Politicians are all scumbags, Washington is broken, no one listens, the world’s getting worse, these Kids Today and Their Music are terrible, blah blah blah don’t any of us ever get tired of letting ourselves off the hook? Do you really think it’s better if you’re powerless?

We did this to ourselves. We made this mess, America, and we can make this mess America. But we have to start with the truth, which is that we are all accountable for what we did. For what we did to ourselves.

A.

Thank You. These Things Don’t End.

Today I’m sending $3,136 to the Houston Food Bank, that you all contributed in the past week. I can’t tell you what this will mean to the people there who’ll be dealing with this for decades: 

Low-income communities frequently sustain more damage in storms because they tend to be built on cheaper land that is often more flood-prone, said Shannon Van Zandt, an urban-planning scholar with Texas A&M University’s Hazard Reduction and Recovery Center, who spoke with me by phone recently. It can also be harder for poorer people — who may not have cars, may be more afraid to leave their possessions and jobs, may not speak English or may fear immigration authorities — to evacuate before disasters.

These things have a long tail. There will be people who will be lost from the storm, long after the storm is over. Years after.

A.

Save Who You Can

Update the final: WE SET A RECORD! Guys, in one week we raised more than $3,000 for the Houston Food Bank. That’s a First Draft record, more than we’ve raised for any cause so far. You all did GREAT!

Thank you all for donating and for doing something to help Houston. They’re gonna need every penny. You’re great people and I’m proud to know each and every one of you.

Update 4: AND JUST LIKE THAT IT’S $2,300! Can we do $2,500 by the end of the week? You all are rocking the house.

Update 3: We’re just shy of $1,800. We just need a little push to hit $2,000. There will be a special Houston Food Bank edition of catblogging tomorrow. How can you say no to Oscar, Della, and friends?

Update 2: Okay, guys? Less than one day. In about 14 hours, you raised more than $1,700 for the Houston Food Bank. This is incredible. Let’s keep it going! Let’s get to $2,000 by Friday.

I love this Internet.

Update 1: OMFG. We’re already at $575! That’s more than a year of free meals. Can we get to 2? Can we do $730 by Friday? You’re all amazing.

Okay, I’m sick of yelling at people on Twitter and I’m sick of watching this shit unfold without doing anything about it. Let’s get the First Draft Krewe started.

Let’s raise $365 for the Houston Food Bank.

Why them? They’re already on the ground, helping people, not parachuting in without community contacts. They’re feeding people ALREADY.

Why $365? Well, that’s enough to provide a year of free meals to somebody in Texas.

Can we get a year done by Friday?

I think we can. Hit the FIRST DRAFT link and we’ll add it all up and shovel it at them Friday.

Our fate is your fate, bitches.

A.

‘Please help us she a new born’

Why didn’t they evacuate?

We’re really gonna do this, huh?

Okay.

Three weeks after Kick was born I was so debilitated by physical pain, sleep deprivation and postpartum depression I could hardly breathe. The only places I had ever taken her were the doctor’s office and the grocery store, the latter over Mr. A’s terrified objections and my throat-constricting fear. I was still holding her gingerly, afraid I was going to hurt her walking from the kitchen to the living room and back again. That was as far as we got most days, back then.

The idea, even if we’d had the means, of putting her and our pets and everything important to us in a car and going to a hotel/motel/shelter/God knows where … I had the best-outfitted nursery on the planet, guys, with every modern convenience, and I thought I was gonna kill the baby all the time. I would 100 percent have stayed in that house until the waters rose over my head.

Why didn’t they evacuate? I don’t know what happened to empathy in this country, I really don’t. Do you have $500? In cash, right now, on you? Can you get it? Because that’s how much it will cost to get out for a day, even if you can, and you have no idea what you’ll come back to, or if you can come back, or when. Think about what it would be like to live like that, every single day, that close to the bone, and then think about what it would be like in a catastrophe.

You know what, forget empathy. Let’s try asking what happened to intelligence. Why didn’t you listen when every climate scientist and every environmentalist and everyone who understood public policy told you that wrecking the planet and underfunding public infrastructure would lead nowhere good? When three one-hundred-year storms hit in 12 years, why didn’t you pay attention then?

Or let’s try asking what happened to responsibility. What is our responsibility to that baby? What is our responsibility to her mother? What is our responsibility to one another? That person made choices you can armchair quarterback or did things you think you wouldn’t do? That doesn’t answer the question. What is our responsibility? To ourselves?

I keep seeing comments about how inspiring it is to see the kindness of strangers coming together to save who we can; that used to be what we called government, before government was a bad word, before it was everyone for himself, before saving people was a favor you did. Before you had to hope some stranger somewhere was kind. Before there were strangers, instead of fellow citizens, bound by contract, each to each. Our fate is your fate.

“Please help us she a new born.”

She’s safe now. Thousands aren’t, or won’t be.

And you can make yourself feel better about that, by saying they should have evacuated, or you can look at that baby and see your own baby, or yourself. You can push away the nagging feeling that you should do something by loudly making shit up about nonexistent scenarios in which you did everything right, or you could do what you’ll need done for you someday. Life isn’t a vending machine, no one makes perfectly sensible choices, babies are born in storms and saved by strangers.

As are we all.

A.

An Op-Ed Isn’t An Apology

If one more fucking person tweets Charlie Fucking Sykes into my timeline I’m gonna go full Bundy Ranch.

I mean it. I’m on day three of what I had been hoping was a three-day migraine, and someone just reminded me Andrew Sullivan is still employed. Andrew “the left after 9/11 is a fifth column” Sullivan.

The Hill published an opinion on the still-unfolding Hurricane Harvey from MICHAEL FUCKING BROWN pretending to have learned Important Lessons.

Allahpundit, who I chiefly remember cheering on Michelle Malkin’s roiling pit of orcs as they tore apart anyone insufficiently subservient to George W. Bush, just got blocked because apparently he’s NeverTrump now and that’s enough for someone to put him in front of me. I haven’t forgiven Little Green Footballs for what they did to John Kerry and Jill Carroll and I never will, I don’t care how pro-Dem they seem to be today.

Ditto Jennifer Rubin, Ana Navarro, Bill Kristol, the whole lot of them. Most of them AREN’T EVEN SORRY about all the years they spent with their tongues in the GOP’s mouth while the GOP paved the way for Trump and the Tea Party. I can take some of the turnarounds because they seem to have genuinely repented but most of ’em are like, “this isn’t the cool party anymore, can I hang with you guys?”

No. No, you can’t hang with us. You can’t sit here. That seat is reserved for a hundred thousand dead Iraqis and every French shopkeeper whose windows got smashed in 2003.

There have got to be some consequences for hurting people. I’m not asking for consequences for being wrong. That’s too much to ask of the modern political pundit class, blogger or bestseller. But if you’ve spent a week speculating if a kidnapped reporter was carrying her terrorist abductor’s baby, if you told your readers to pour French wine down the sewers because they refused to join our dumb war, if you’ve hyped up Scott Walker’s wholesale destruction of the state of Wisconsin and fellated him while he shit on schoolteachers, if you, you know, LET AN ENTIRE CITY DROWN, you don’t get a do-over.

Why should any of these sucking ulcers get a medal, just for saying Donald Trump is a comprehensive nightmare?

Sixty-three million people knew that, because they voted for Hillary Clinton, and I have yet to see them get a parade. Or her, to be honest. Dems are an endangered spieces on TV, Krugman’s practically in WitSec and liberal bloggers are dialing for dollars, but conservatives grow half a neuron and they’re 100 feet tall in Times Square. Apparently you can only cash in on Anti-GOP Mania if you had Pro-GOP Mania first. Apparently that’s the only thing that gives you cred.

I know this is me being a Bad Smug Liberal and This Is Why Trump Won, and I no longer fucking care. These people aren’t apologizing, so stop approvingly posting the op-eds THEY GOT PAID FOR. That’s not apologizing, it’s ass-covering and at least around these parts we’re not having it. Your Never-Trump T-shirt isn’t getting you out of hell when I know you have a Rope.Tree.Journalist one in the back of your closet from CPAC 2003.

Schmucks.

A.

Tell Me Again About Those Kids Not Reading

The stupid’s now gotten bad enough that everybody’s mocking it, and “pivot to video” has become almost as much of a joke as “longform” and “hyperlocal” ever were (good stories don’t need nicknames) and maybe, just maybe, some facts can break through the nonsense: 

When it comes to technology’s influence on America’s young adults, reading is not dead – at least not the news. When asked whether one prefers to read, watch or listen to their news, younger adults are far more likely than older ones to opt for text, and most of that reading takes place on the web.

Overall, more Americans prefer to watch their news (46%) than to read it (35%) or listen to it (17%), a Pew Research Center survey found earlier this year. But that varies dramatically by age. Those ages 50 and older are far more likely to prefer watching news over any other method: About half (52%) of 50- to 64-year-olds and 58% of those 65 and older would rather watch the news, while roughly three-in-ten (29% and 27%, respectively) prefer to read it. Among those under 50, on the other hand, roughly equal portions – about four-in-ten of those ages 18-29 and ages 30-49 – opt to read their news as opt to watch it.

Young people read news more than older folks, it’s just that we Olds don’t often give them credit for it being “reading” because they’re doing it on their phones or tablets. Quelle surprise. I have quarrels with the survey, namely that my definition of “news” and yours can be vastly different (as can my definition and CNN’s), but let’s talk about the good news because there’s been precious little of it lately.

Basically, shut up, Grandpa, why don’t you get off MY lawn for once?

This was my favorite tweet about the survey:

I don’t know why it’s a revelation, that if you want people to buy your product, your product should not suck. Most TV news sucks, audibly and unashamedly, the efforts of individual journalists notwithstanding. The clichéd format on a local level forces bad journalism as often as it produces good TV, and a brilliant piece of footage isn’t the rarity it was before camera phones and YouTube. Most TV news SITES are bloated, heaving messes with borked search engines, loud auto-play and no coherent tagging system.

When the reckoning for this era’s journalistic missteps comes (please Santa Jesus, let it be soon), and we make the list of grievances to be redressed, it’s going to look something like this:

  1. Political talk radio
  2. Talk radio generally
  3. Cable news generally
  4. Cable news Sunday shows full of Republicans
  5. Cable news crime coverage
  6. Panel shows that pretend a debate between a Republican and a Republican is a debate
  7. Cable news taking viewers’ calls live on the air
  8. TV news reading people’s tweets live on the air instead of interviewing them
  9. Nancy Grace

It’s really no wonder younger folks tune this shit out. Between paying off student loans and fighting fascism and their four side hustles they don’t really have a lot of time, so sitting through all of that to learn what’s actually happening when they could pull up the WaPo app and get it all just seems silly.

A.

Are We Still Feeding Content Into a Funnel or …

How is the rebranding going? 

Coming off poor second-quarter financials – down 8.6% in overall revenue and 15% in advertising – Tronc managed to turn in numbers that compared unfavorably even with some of its ever-struggling peers. Its digital revenue results hurt the most for a company renamed last spring on a promised digital transformation: “Total revenues for troncX [the company’s digital division] for the second quarter of 2017 were $58.2 million, down 5% from prior-year quarter. Advertising revenues for troncX declined by 9%.” The one encouraging ray: digital-only subscriptions increased nicely, as Tronc’s game of catch-up showed it most results there.

The poor performance even forced Dearborn to acknowledge that the company was still playing catch-up. With these moves, then, the company aims to do two things: 1) jumpstart the lagging digital business; 2) further streamline management and cut costs.

The answer is always short-term cost cuts. It somehow never seems to be NOT GIVING UPPER MANAGEMENT MASSIVE ESCAPE CLAUSES. I swear to you, if I made an entire year’s salary for fucking up at my job, I would get really, really fired.

I don’t understand the impulse to pay people to get shitcanned. I know the JUSTIFICATION, that they’ll feel more empowered to take risks etc, but come on, these people have more money than God already. They don’t feel like doing the office equivalent of skydiving, that’s a character weakness, not a checkbook one.

Fuckin’ 23-year-olds living three to a studio take more professional risks than the hardest CEO in town. Give THEM the exit packages.

A.

Endless Chances

I would say you’ve got to be fucking kidding me but I know you’re not fucking kidding me:

They’ll keep giving him room to be the president they need him to be — one who operates within normal (monstrous) parameters, whose racism stays polite and whose language reflects prevailing sentiment on the editorial pages of our nation’s suburban newspapers — so that they can keep being who they are.

Trump openly supports white supremacist movements? We all stand shocked for a moment, then move on to stories about how his voters still love owning libtards. Trump reads a speech competently, a speech that might have been given by Ted Cruz or John Kasich or Chris Christie, the creatures, and the relief in the room is palpable: We can do what we know. We can slide back into the groove on which we run.

The biases of the press are endlessly discussed on both right and left, and what neither side discusses is the fundamental laziness of the political press corps and how that affects the entire process.

Forget Trump for a moment. If political commentators and “thought leaders” need politicians of both parties to say certain things, in certain ways, for them to declare things Normal, then it’s no wonder politicians will say those things. It’s no wonder both parties have become addicted to this mealy-mouthed horseshit of deploring “partisanship” and wanting to come together to cut taxes for the hardworking Real American.

It’s human to want affirmation, and our political press affirms whatever lets them use the words they already know by heart. At this stage of Chris Cillizza’s career do you really think he’s gonna pull out the dictionary?

This is not, by the way, letting politicians off the hook. The Wall Street Journal editorial board does not elect you. Find your fucking spines.

It does, however, explain the blatant neediness with which the national narrative-driving media approach Trump. PLEASE BE OKAY, they seem to say with every tweet or story, BECAUSE THEN WE CAN BE OKAY TOO.

As if the world turns on what lets you leave the office early. As if that’s something real.

A.

They’re Going Wild in Boston

This should be the end of them.

As a small group of “free speech” ralliers took their place on Boston Common’s bandstand, tens of thousands of people marched from Roxbury to the Common in a show of unity against hated and bigotry.

Between the march and other groups of counterprotesters, up to 40,000 people were estimated to be in the Boston Common area protesting the original rally, according to Boston police.

It won’t be, but it should.

They’ve had their moment, now. They’ve had their sad tantrum, yet again, and they’ve had their validation from the government that their White Lives Matter, and in Boston — which has an ugly segregation history all its own, as every American city does — they’ve been ridiculed and shouted down and badly outnumbered.

They’ve been laughed at. That should be the end.

Someone asked this week what it would take to stamp them out for good, the Nazis and the self-indulgent provocateurs who support them because they think being disgusting is the same thing as being shocking and being shocking is the same thing as being interesting or feeling important. What would it take? Apparently ten thousand decent people for every one of them, that’s what it would take.

That’s the ratio that should end things right here.

And the only reason it won’t is that at the highest levels of government there’s an interest in keeping their rage-gasm going. For political power from the local level on up, for financial gain in the personal and public senses, for comfort, for fear, the people in charge right now need this drama to continue.

Boston should end it. So when it doesn’t, ask who benefits from it being kept alive. Don’t ask what Nazis or alt-righters or white supremacists want (for shit’s sake, that last, it’s right there in the name). Ask who gains when their voices are amplified. Ask who makes money, ask who wins elections. When their concerns are ascendant in our political conversations, who profits? And who suffers?

We should be done with them now, just as we should have been done with them a long time ago. Why aren’t we? We’re ugly and we’re venal and we’re mean, sure, but nobody does this much work for free. Who’s getting paid?

A.

What To Do, What To Do

While DC’s political venture capitalists are flinging money at yet another fashion blog pretending to do news and yet another centrist jerk-off party pretending to recruit candidates, people are actually out there working: 

Kelly Sullivan, a 30-year-old restaurant server in Sioux Falls and member of LEAD, noted that rural America has long been politically diverse, but the recent surge of political activism has made it more noticeable.

“People like us in smaller places and people that are in the rural communities, we’re just the same as the big city slickers,” Sullivan said of her fellow rural activists. “The feeling that we’re not being represented, or the feeling that the current administration is doing things that we disagree with, we’re on the same page as the people who are in the big cities.”

It’s almost like there are views out there beyond “this poor white woman sitting on a porch while her kids scrabble in the dirt like chickens loves Trump because fuck you.”

If these people got Axios/Win the Future/Politico attention and money every state in the union would be bluer than Bannon’s balls right now.

A.