Category Archives: Athenae

Quibi Never Should Have Been Born

Look at these fucking idiots:

The Quibi experience has been decidedly less than fresh thanks to numerous hurdles built into the service: first and foremost, the mobile-only limitation, which precluded viewing on a bigger screen and also the ability to text, scroll, or multi-task while watching the content pitched to our fractured attention spans. Quibi’s mobile-only imposition especially hampered the service as many Americans quarantined at home with the option of larger screens and ever-growing streaming services – Netflix and Hulu, obviously, as well as Disney+, Apple TV+ and the new HBO Max – to fill them.

Quibi’s business model assumed an endless appetite for entertainment until we die, but its mandates, short-form, mobile-only, paid subscription, subsumed the all-important choice from consumers used to frenetic, constantly refreshing and expanding amusement on demand and on phones with YouTube and TikTok, for free. “We’re in a world where the viewer expects to have control over the what, the when, the where, the how they’re going to watch content, and Quibi has taken a lot of that away from them,” said Goodman.

I said most of this on Twitter last night, but: Jesus tits, it’s a TEXTBOOK example of doing everything but saving journalism to save journalism. Quibi had all kinds of legit news content with actual journalists, some of whom seemed to better understand what they were about than others, and it never seemed like anything more than a 2010s update of a 1990s “what if the news had an MTV soundtrack, that’ll pull in the youngs” strategy. What a waste. What a goddamn load.

ONE POINT SEVEN BILLION DOLLARS. I just cannot.

This is the kind of shit that makes me ragey when it comes to all our thousands of “future of journalism” panels and blue-ribbon commissions and studies and digital paradigms. You could have used all this money to buy out and run independently 1,000 community papers.

If you had put HALF, even, of this cash into independent student media you’d have raised a GENERATION of journalists. You would change the fucking WORLD. But no, blow it on some consultant’s wet dream that you named like a drink with squid ink in it.

Do you know how many stories it would cost, MAYBE, 10K to break? Do you know how many communities need papers that could be run soup to nuts for $500K a year TOPS? And look at these fucking clowns. Suck my dick.

I get that the long game isn’t FUN. I get that lots of this stuff isn’t as sexy as celebrity anchors delivering “quick bites.” I get that “let’s do the same boring shit the news has always done only this time let’s act like it matters because the past four years have proven pretty definitively that it does” won’t get you into a lot of VC pitch meetings.

But one of the reasons nonprofit journalism fundraising sucks so fucking much is that all the goddamn money gets hoovered up by idiot ideas like these and if you ask for any to, like, cover the news, they look at you like you’re an alien.

Hello, I would like ONE POINT SEVEN FIVE BILLION DOLLARS to pay reporters you’ve never heard of to cover stories you’ll never know about. All that will happen if you give me that money is that you won’t wind up embarrassed by shutting down your shitsack project after 10 minutes. My e-mail’s right up there. You can reach out anytime.

Like it’ll just make people’s lives better and maybe save democracy, so I can see how it won’t tug your tool just right. What if I come up with a logo that’s also on fire and a name like a brand of kitchen implement? Quibi. If you have to spend most of your time explaining what your name means, you probably don’t have a good name, TRONC.

I would ALMOST be ok with this kind of waste (bitches gotta eat) if it didn’t exist alongside endless thinkpieces about how no one values journalism. There is a DIRECT correlation between these high-visibility failures and the reluctance of anyone to invest in real efforts.

People see shit like this implode and think well, obviously nothing can work ever, because they don’t read below the toplines and all they see is a well-funded effort with a bunch of high-profile backers fall on its fucking keys.

So how can you dumb bunnies in the sticks make anything work if these brain geniuses can’t? Well, for starters, and to return to the start of this rant, we generally name our papers things like “news of your town” and not “random group of letters that who knows what it could be.”

Anyway, it’s Giving Tuesday, support actual nonprofit shops that give their money to the journalists and the journalism, not to somebody’s brother-in-law to come up with fucking Quibi. UGH. You have, at a minimum, a paper in your town that’s likely starved for subscriptions but if it’s some cookie-cutter rag owned by a hedge fund, you can always use your spare twenties to light campfires.

At least then you’d be warm and have something to roast marshmallows over.

A.

Not Everything Sucks & Sunday Catblogging: CATS ARE BACK

Yeah yeah yeah, vaccines, world peace, whatever. WE’RE GETTING A FIRST CAT, AMERICA.

First it was announced that Champ and Major, the German shepherds belonging to the president-elect and future first lady Jill Biden, would roam the White House. And now, after an absence of more than a decade, a cat is set to also join the ranks of presidential pets, Jane Pauley of “CBS Sunday Morning” reported on Twitter on Friday.

In an interview with Fox 5 in Washington, D.C., Dr. Biden hinted that if her husband won the presidency, she would not mind getting a cat.

“I’d love to get a cat,” she said. “I love having animals around the house.”

The cat’s breed and name were not immediately available. Representatives for Mr. Biden did not respond to a request for comment on Saturday.

Literally one conversation in the car with Kick about who was voting for who and why involved which presidents had what pets, so you have no idea the stir this news created in my household. Even Thing One and Thing Two here approve:

A.

Update: YOU DID IT!! First Draft Food Pantry Fund

Update: YOU DID IT YOU MAGNIFICENT BASTARDS!

Yesterday I had the rockin’ job of calling up the directors of the St. Hyacinth Food Pantry (who happen to be my aunt and uncle) and telling them I was sending them a check for $1,500 so that every single family that gets a Christmas food basket from them this year will also get a gift card to buy presents for their kids.

In a normal year the pantry would run a MASSIVE toy drive and distribute everything from stuffed animals to bikes, but it involves multiple volunteers, hours of going in and out of places to collect donations and drop them off, and families lined up to choose things at a time when the virus is out of control in their neighborhood. Everyone’s been really understanding about it, but it’s hard on the little kids to have nothing to put under the tree.

You’ve made it so that they can. You’ve given hundreds of families a terrific holiday season. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Continue reading

Not Everything Sucks: Goddess Edition

Sophia Loren exists, and bone structure is a real thing: 

There is nothing that you can say. If you decide that you have to be an actress, because it’s something that you love, then you have to do what your mind teaches you, to put yourself in a situation where you only think about your life as an actress. Then you’ll see if you do or don’t get married. Life is not just one thing; it’s so many things, and sometimes so many things all together.

There’s a photograph of her in the linked story above in a gold ball gown that makes 86 years old absolute goals.

A.

Cancel the Uncancelation

Fuck these people, don’t book them at your speaking agency: 

Normally, when one administration passes the torch to another, there’s a stampede toward policy think tanks, law schools, various institutes and ideas festivals. But in this case? They should be shut out of the post-administration economy. Don’t offer them speaking gigs. No keynote addresses. No corporate conferences sponsored by national brands. No media “commentator” positions. Not for any of them.

It’s time to stop the redemption train once and for all and leave it to rust on the tracks. Anyone who touches Brad Parscale’s book proposal with so much as the tip of their umbrella should be launched into the sun.

Ugh.

A.

Grown-Ups Are On It

God, it’s amazing how small a move this actually is, and how great it is at the same time: 

Today, I met with the co-chairs of the transition COVID-19 Advisory Board, Dr. Vivek Murthy, Dr. David Kessler, and Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith.

They briefed me on the accelerating public health crisis. The facts they presented were alarming. Our country is experiencing surges in reported infections, hospitalizations, and fatalities all over the country, with virtually nowhere getting spared. Our doctors, nurses, and other health care workers are under enormous — and growing — strain.  This week’s news on progress toward a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine is positive, but it will be many months before there is widespread vaccination in this country.

This crisis demands a robust and immediate federal response, which has been woefully lacking.

Here in Illinois we’re on the brink of another total shutdown, and all our extracurricular activities got axed this weekend, closing the park district fieldhouses and all the programs that were keeping us sane. I am pricing out ice rinks for our backyard, but somehow I’m still less panicked than I was back in March, because: in 8 weeks this will be run by adults and not a bunch of idiot reptiles.

Adults we may give a hard time to, adults we yell at lot, adults who might not do everything right the first time around but goddamn, adults we can trust to return a phone call and give a shit when somebody — millions of somebodies — is sick and dying.

I mean, read that over, above, and keep telling me both parties are the same. One has … scientists, that they’re listening to, and a plan to get things under control that will actually be carried out without constant drama. Another has Marjorie Taylor-Greene out here screaming about the tyranny of closing down Crossfit, what the actual fuck, government shutdowns are not causing these problems, A QUARTER OF A MILLION DEAD PEOPLE AND TEN MILLION CASES of a preventable disease are causing these problems.

And if I read one more op-ed citing “personal responsibility” and “local control” for a disease that cannot be prevented by either one, that crosses state lines and doesn’t care who your fucking mayor is, I’m going to lose my mind in several languages. There are things that are so big we can’t do them alone, people. That’s what a system of government is for.

We’ve spent the past four years in an experiment that says we don’t need a federal government. We’ve spent the past four years without one, actually, without any national leadership on anything at all. It’s not just that that leadership has been dumb and bad; that we’ve seen before. It’s that we’ve taken the GOP at its word, that government is useless, and we’ve erased it entirely.

It’s very clear now that there are times we DO need to be one country. When we do need to give California and North Dakota the same thing, which is a rule to wear masks and money to keep people home and out of the shopping mall hacking germs all over each other. When we ARE all affected equally by the actions of others, and there is no reason to pretend help has to stop at the state border when the problems don’t.

No one state can do this without closing its state borders. We almost did that last spring, and had we kept it up I doubt Illinois would be as big a trash fire as it is, thanks a lot Indiana and Wisconsin, but this is the point. We CAN’T close ourselves off from one another or the world. We have to be responsible for Indiana and Wisconsin even as they’re led by absolute nuclear-grade jackwagons. Our fate is your fate. There’s no other way to do this. We don’t have any other choice.

And in eight weeks we’ll have leadership that understands that, that fills jobs that need filling, that can distribute any vaccine in a coordinated, reasonable, scientific manner. And yes, the screaming Trumper morons we’ll always have with us, but remember the way you feel whenever a new announcement comes out of the Biden team. Read that statement up there. Think of what it will be like when the loudest voices in the room aren’t the morons anymore.

Hold fast, help one another when you can, and whatever you do, hold on. We’re almost there.

A.

We Needed Those Dance Parties

For DAME magazine, I wrote about how eager we all were to shit on our own victory, and why it’s crap: 

Heaven forbid we offend the children of people who cage other people’s children for the act of requesting asylum at our borders. After shouting “fuck your feelings” for four years, hanging Obama in effigy and fantasizing about “locking up” a former senator and Secretary of State, it’s a little rich to hear calls for comity.

As the day went on, it began to feel as though we were allergic to the joy we were feeling. How dare we dance for the end of Trump when so many Republicans remain in office, after all? Doesn’t dancing mean we think the work is over?

And can we even dance without mourning? A quarter of a million Americans dead of a preventable disease Trump did not prevent, untold damage done to the climate, to international alliances, to civil liberties, to the economy?

We’ve got work to do. Starting yesterday. Starting four years ago. But goddamn people, we deserved some champagne.

A.

Everybody Gets to Have Today

Because nothing else was going on yesterday, and it was incredibly gorgeous out, Kick and I walked over to the park, where I sat six feet away from a bazillion other adults all glued to their phones, and talked with friends while our kids ran screaming around the playground like spirits unleashed from imprisonment in amber.

And goddamn, so many of them were still worried. Still depressed. Still feeling that Tuesday night crush when we all realized it wasn’t gonna be a blowout like we’d hoped.

They were all, as I’d been right up until Wisconsin was called, finding reasons to be disappointed in what was happening.

But without the Senate …

So many people voted for him …

In two years …

No.

No way.

Not today.

WE HAVE THROWN A RACIST SEXIST FASCIST RAPIST INCUMBENT PRESIDENT OUT OF OFFICE IN THE MIDDLE OF A NATIONAL CRISIS AND WE GET TO HAVE TODAY.

I don’t want to hear the internecine bitchfest today. Shut up equally, Abigail Spanberger and everybody yelling at her. Stop. I don’t want to hear about next week, next month, January, 2024, none of it. I don’t want to hear about the failures and the things that didn’t happen couldn’t happen shouldn’t have happened.

Stop for a second and look at what just happened.

We’ve had so few victories in the past four years. So few things to feel good about, especially in the past year. And every single day they take something else away.

It’s going to be a long dark coldass winter and we’re going to be ALONE in it. For a quarter of a million people there will always be a hole in the world.

So don’t. Don’t take this away from YOURSELVES.

Don’t fall into the trap they set for you, making you hate and fear every good thing, because it will be pulled out from under you. It might be. But while you have it in your hands, look at it. Look at it while you still can.

Trump and Pence, out.

Pompeo, out.

Chad Wolf, out.

Stephen Miller, unemployed.

Kayleigh Whateverthehellhername is, unemployed.

Executive orders, done. Muslim ban, done. Sticking our dick in the CDC’s face for the sake of doing it, done. Rage-tweeting at Iceland on Christmas morning or some shit, done. Cruelty for cruelty’s sake, done. Gag rules, done. Supreme Court nominees who are RAPISTS FUCKING DONE FOREVER.

And the first woman vice president. The first black woman vice president. The first Asian-American woman vice president. In 234 years.

One of the worst things an abuser can do — and Trump is an abuser, survivors of domestic violence have told us this for years — is take away the belief in joy. In hope, in the future. Make you take it away from yourself, make you shy from it, make you dread it, make you actively work to prevent it because it feels so WRONG.

It doesn’t feel wrong. It feels different. It feels new. Lean into it. We don’t get many of these days. We don’t get hundreds of thousands of opportunities to be happy. Don’t take this one away in advance.

Make them rip it from your cold dead hands. Make them come, and take it.

A.

You Get One Win and You Expect to Always Win, You Weak-Ass Punk Bitch Bastards

I spent the weeks before the election reading about the Warsaw Ghetto and in retrospect it was the best thing I could have done. Starving, desperate, dying, armed with homemade bombs and sharpened knives, people who had seen their entire families die or disappear held off the might of Nazi Germany for more than 30 days. They were overrun, of course, captured and deported or killed.

By all means, lie down and despair, today.

Throughout our history people have lined up to fight and die for a country that has never recognized their full humanity.

They lived their entire lives in secret because of who they were, or who they loved, and fought every single day to change that which until recently looked unchangeable.

People voted in this election who were born on plantations, who were born before women could vote.

But by all means, tell us all there’s nothing more to be done. Tell that guy. Tell it to his face.

I’m asking you this morning, everybody talking about what a shitass racist country this is, what a miserable place, and how the system is irretrievably broken and nothing will ever change, do you regret a single thing you fought for? Do you regret a single dollar?

I’d rather lose every election from now until the end of time than have been on the other side of this for even a second.

You keep shoveling dirt over yourselves. You keep telling us there’s no chance. We’ll be out here in the rain, not moving for a second:

I think a lot of people my age, including, let’s be honest, me, thought Obama won and that somehow changed things. I was in Grant Park the night they declared for the first black president in this nation’s history and it was what people tell me heroin’s like, I’ve been high as a kite on that victory ever since and I want to feel like that all the time, I GET IT, GUYS. Jam that shit in our veins.

But that’s not our history. Our history is sixty tents full of dysentery death and desertion and the reason we even have unlikely victories over insurmountable odds is that the victories are unlikely. The odds are insurmountable.

This country’s oldest songs were written in bondage. We sing them loud and expect to be heard the first time, and when we’re not we think, what, that the problem is with the songs? Do you listen to yourselves?

By all means, lie down and despair today. By all means pretend that we’re somehow in this for peace, that there’s any way out of this but dead, that we have the right to see the end of anything, that we get to know the answers for anything other than what we did in the here and now. The people who changed us knew that. Harriet, leading her people to freedom. Harvey, demanding dignity in a world determined to give him none. John, on the bridge, facing down the fire hoses and the dogs. Ruth, resplendent in argument, and Ingrid astride her white horse.

None of them saw the end of their work. None of us should expect to, either. Every victory notwithstanding. Every loss, too.

A.

How Dare We Expect This To be Easy

I thought this, too. I really did, and I’m ashamed of myself tonight.

Not because I thought we were better than we were; I always think that and I’m always GOING to think that because you never know when that little bit of belief is going to be enough to make somebody not suck, like I will WILL you to not suck and you will LISTEN. I’m ashamed of myself because I really thought it would be easy to fight fascism.

Like sure, the ideology of white supremacy and resentment that burned down half the world and required the death of millions to defeat will be routed in seconds.

Generations of ingrained hatred toward any challenge to the status quo no matter how mild will just … fall away, in the face of the mildest of resistance.

Four hundred years of subjugating black people and resisting any attempt at their empowerment, just dissolving in daylight.

How dare we? Honestly, how dare we? Like this stuff doesn’t take hold because it’s not attractive, it’s not powerful, it doesn’t WORK for a certain subset of people during a certain amount of time. Fascism in Europe wasn’t some kind of accident, it didn’t arise overnight, and it required the sacrifice of generations to stamp it out. And we thought we’d solve it in a day? In a year? Like who were we kidding?

We thought it should be SIMPLE, to take on the most dangerous authoritarian impulses our dumb chimpanzee brains could throw at us, and just waltz across the finish line? Like we’re in this for peace? Like we wouldn’t have to fucking scrap for it?

Sharpen your teeth, assholes. They were never gonna give an inch we didn’t pry from their cold dead hands.

A.

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Today

This week I ordered a bunch of these collapsible water containers. Like, just in case. In case what, Mr. A asked me, and I had no answer. Like, in case of a global pandemic causing widespread disruption that might eventually affect the water supply? It seemed like a better idea than bottles and bottles, and my back’s too weak to carry crates of them. So, basically humongous baggies, to be safe.

There are cans of beans and tomatoes and a freezer full of food. I bought a duck from the local meat guy. I’ve never cooked a duck ever even once but there it is, in case of a … duck emergency? This morning’s Google search was “can you bake the Halloween pumpkin I hate wasting food my grandmother’s ghost will come back and berate me if I just smash it in the street.” I’ve made so much fucking soup.

Kick and I are reading the Little House books and they’re making me want to seal up the cracks in the walls, bank straw against the foundation. Pile every quilt on every bed, even the one in the empty guest room. We have a quarter cord of firewood for our small firepit; is that enough? Do we need more?

And then what? We wait? That’s not how you stay safe. It’s not how you stay alive. The point of a storeroom is to have enough to share. There’s no such thing as safe. There never is.

The day after election day four years ago I wrote this: 

I’m sure there are going to be plenty of stories about how arrogant angry liberals like me need to take a lesson from this and JUST ONE MORE TIME be nicer to the angry racists who hate us. I’m sure there are going to be lots and lots and lots of thinkpieces about how if I would just not be so … me, and mine would not be so mine, and we would all shut up about being ourselves and needing things like fundamental rights, and listen silently while we are insulted, then we would finally be gifted with what has never been freely bestowed in all of human history.

And I stand by every word, and these, too: 

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.

So much has happened in the last week, the last month that’s horrible, in the last two months, the last six, that maybe we forgot about the first three and three quarter years, about everything before “fuck it, let everybody die” became law of the land. So let me recap for you, the poison poured into this country’s veins: The kids in the cages, the Muslim ban, the corruption, the collusion, the pettiness, the greed, and every single day just making a shitstorm out of nothing because they didn’t care to know better or ask anyone how to do stuff. Two years ago the dubious Supreme Court nominee was a rapey alcoholic, like COME ON.

Can we even bank the fires after they’ve been out this long? What we need is so miniscule; not even advantages, just relief. We are so hungry for decency we will lick it off of knives.

And it wasn’t until very, very recently that we began to have hope again. Is it any wonder we flinch from it like a bright light after our eyes have adjusted to the darkness? How much of our fear is reasonable, protecting ourselves, and how much is simple cowardice? How much of the storeroom will feed others, and can we unclench our fists long enough to hold out our hands?

I wish I had exhortations, directions, recipes even. I understand in a way I never have the power of the only prayer that exists: Please. Please. Please. I don’t have any answers, for any of you, today. Fight them til we can’t, I said four years ago, and today’s another day to fight with. If you can’t, it’s okay. I’ve got enough flour to bake bread for us both.

A.

On Decency

Two more days.

I’m tired, you’re tired, everybody’s tired.

Well, sack up, hoes. It’s going to be harder this time. Dark and getting darker, cold and getting colder, the isolation starting to freak everybody out. I have a bottle of champagne if it goes one way and a bottle of scotch if it goes another and I’ve got bail money for you and you and you and you, just tell me what you need.

Tuesday night we’re going to have a Zoom van, I’m working out the logistics today. There are a couple of things we need to talk about first.

There’s a reason things broke when they did, when it seemed like a corner turned, and it was when Joe Biden stood next to Donald Trump on the debate stage. Not because of anything either of them said, honestly, but because of the unavoidable contrast between someone who gives a damn about others and someone who just wants to scream.

Hunter’s laptop, e-mails, lockdowns, whatever they think socialism is, the shifting sands of deep-state conspiracies and unsuccessful coups … for most ordinary people it all just became too much. And when you’re juggling work from home and work from masked-up misery and homeschooling and hybrid schooling and which of your friends just tested positive and who’s even in charge of where you can go anymore and what’s safe to do, when you’ve spent the past six months lurching from crisis to crisis and the country’s spent the past four years doing the same … the contrast with someone who just says look at this, I can do better than this, is undeniable.

When people talk longingly of a forgotten time, it’s almost always for moments when things seemed easy, or at least easier. When they felt secure, when they felt that what they were doing was right with the world. Sure, some of that was laziness, but not all of it. Some of it defeated depressions. Some of it won wars. Not all the slogans are empty and not all the platitudes are meaningless, especially if they translate into the soup kitchen and the shelter, into lifting up the widow and the orphan and the stranger.

Not all the prayers are only poetry. Some of the poetry is work. And for months we’ve been doing the work, and it seemed for so long like nobody noticed, because all we heard from up above us was to hate and fear and rage and defend, defend, defend, against our neighbors, against everything out there in the world. As if the world isn’t ours, too, isn’t what we make it, can’t be made and unmade every single day with a thousand small actions that only seem meaningless if you can’t see the whole.

That’s what leadership does. It tells us what the whole is. And for the past month we’ve had a voice speaking with clarity and courage about what we have done for each other and what we can do. I don’t think any of us realized how hungry we were for it until we heard. I don’t think any of us realized how small and mean we were until there was someone else we couldn’t ignore saying just the absolute opposite.

Leadership tells us a story about who we are in order to teach us who we can be. The most of it is up to us, always, to keep each other safe and take care of each other. Stories alone can’t save us, but stories don’t make us dumber and they don’t make us poorer and they don’t have to make us selfish and angry and scared. We are a nation founded with the written word, with the declaration, and every day we can declare over and over again: This is who we are. Every day the answer can be different.

Maybe today it will be. Maybe tomorrow.

A.

One. Week.

Guys? Guys? Here on out, shit’s only gonna get stupider and crazier. Hold on tight, DM me on Twitter if you need anything, and I wouldn’t call it crazy to stock up on some groceries just in case shit goes sideways.

But.

I have faith. I always do, I did in 2004 and I did in 2008 (he was a black man named Barack Hussein Obama, maybe you forgot what country we are) and I did in 2016, and the times I’ve been wrong still sting. Still, I have faith.

Better to be absolutely poleaxed by reality every couple of years than be the guy going “I knew it” because you still get screwed AND you sound like a jerk. As I say to people all the time when they shove their cynical white-boy shit in my face: Why be so happy you predicted the avalanche, you’re still buried up to your neck.

Here are my predictions.

The mail-in ballots that don’t arrive by election day won’t matter. The long lines won’t matter and the weather won’t matter and whatever Joey B. Shark says to eat his own kicks in the next seven days won’t matter and whatever dumb slogan Democrats put on signs won’t matter. The shit we fight over on Twitter matters even less. A butterfly flaps its wings in Wisconsin and there’s a hurricane in Georgia and someone spelled a sign wrong on a golf cart in one senior citizen park in Florida, and all of it might make the difference, but I don’t think any of it will.

I think we are going to lift ourselves up in a way we haven’t seen in any of our livin’ lives and I think it is going to be overwhelming and I am tempting the wrath of the whatever from high atop the thing but I think, I hope, I believe, that it was over after the first debate. That when those two men stood side by side, and one shouted about his opponent’s son and the other looked into the camera and said have courage and have hope and it will be all right, that it was over then.

Donald Trump is, like many of his GOP contemporaries, a small mean man who thinks everyone else is small and mean as well. The people who love him — I ain’t talking “hold your nose and vote because he’s better than the other person,” I mean his serious fans — love the excuse he gives them to chest-puff and yell. He lied to a lot of people that he cared about the things they care about, that he’d make their lives better. Yes, they should have listened when people who knew him said he was a liar, but you want to believe what you’ve always believed, you want not to have to change your heart.

No one has that excuse anymore. If you’re voting for him now, you know what you’re willing to put up with to get what you want, and you know who you’re willing to hurt to get it. And I can’t think of a less productive use of my time than talking to you about that.

All that matters now is turning out more people, more and more and more and more, until across this country it’s not like anything we’ve ever seen. Because the last four years have been like nothing we’ve ever seen, and we can’t see any more. We have to at least start seeing beyond this. We can’t fix what we can’t even focus on with all the noise.

So hold fast. Figure out who in your lives needs taking care of. Let your friends know if you have food, money, a safe place to sleep that you can offer someone, a place by the fire. If you’re well-supplied, supply someone else.

Put your time and money where it can do the most good. Pay for bail for protesters, masks and gas for organizers driving people to the polls. Give to Democratic candidates for state legislature who control the water you drink and the roads you drive on and how and when the kids go to school. Ask who has faith in the system they’re asking you to let them run. Ask who wants to govern, who wants to work and compromise and who believes in the idea that we can help one another.

That’s all there is. That’s what I believe. You don’t lose anything by believing, you don’t lose anything by working for what you care about, you don’t lose anything by loving the broken imperfect people around you so much you’ll make a fool of yourself over and over and over for them every time they ask.

One more week. Let us know what you need.

A.

Took Four Years But The Times Got Here

The GOP is the problem: 

With his dark gospel, the president has enthralled the Republican base, rendering other party leaders too afraid to stand up to him. But to stand with Mr. Trump requires a constant betrayal of one’s own integrity and values. This goes beyond the usual policy flip-flops — what happened to fiscal hawks anyway? — and political hypocrisy, though there have been plenty of both. Witness the scramble to fill a Supreme Court seat just weeks before Election Day by many of the same Senate Republicans who denied President Barack Obama his high court pick in 2016, claiming it would be wrong to fill a vacancy eight months out from that election.

Emphasis mine, because … The thing is, LITERALLY EVERYBODY TRIED TO TELL YOU THIS, 20 YEARS AGO. That we were heading exactly here. That this party was being propped up by feral critters prowling and growling underneath the banquet tables and eventually they’d slip their chains and start mauling the buffet.

The GOP wasn’t so much “enthralled” by Trump as the money guys looked at their spreadsheets and said eh, how bad could it possibly be? They gambled that if they let this happen the damage wouldn’t be obvious.

It worked out great for them last time, after all: 

It’s not only liberals who have noticed that Bush’s most committed followers are caught up in the fact-filtering force field of a personality cult. In January, Paul Craig Roberts, assistant secretary of the treasury during the Reagan administration and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal’s far-right editorial page, published a damning column in the progressive Z Magazine about fascist tendencies in the conservative movement. “In the ranks of the new conservatives, however, I see and experience much hate. It comes to me in violently worded, ignorant and irrational emails from self-professed conservatives who literally worship George Bush,” he wrote. “Even Christians have fallen into idolatry. There appears to be a large number of Americans who are prepared to kill anyone for George Bush Like Brownshirts, the new conservatives take personally any criticism of their leader and his policies. To be a critic is to be an enemy.”

Sound familiar? Jesus H. Christ in a chicken basket, do you GET IT NOW? Now that enough people are dead? Do you get what all us damn dirty hippies were trying to tell you? This was a long time coming and I take no pleasure in being able to say a hell of a lot of us saw it coming by a couple country miles. It’s why we didn’t want these people — nor anyone, really, but if you give arm one moron you arm ’em all — to have warrantless surveillance capabilities.

But that guy danced with Ellen and paints funny pictures of dogs now, so it’s all good.

Back to the performative innocence of the Times:

For all their talk about revering the Constitution, Republicans have stood by, slack-jawed, in the face of the president’s assault on checks and balances.

Um, they’ve actively assisted him, just as they assisted his GOPredecessor, who for those of you who didn’t have to live through this bullshit as adults was basically WHAT IF NIXON BUT SPIN IT OUT TO THE ENTIRE GOVERNMENT OF LAWS IDEA. The grand old men of the once-glorious Republican Party actively fought for Bush and Cheney’s right to detain people without charges, without warrants, without recourse. They actively fought for RETEROACTIVE IMMUNITY for telecom companies, come on. Plus that whole “weapons of mass destruction” thing, which is still killing people to this day.

The only difference between what they did and what Trump is doing is that they bothered to make excuses for it.

Trump’s attitudes towards women and minorities are crude and crass, but his attitudes towards governing are right in line with three decades of Republicans telling us they would run government like a business, in which the CEO just yells something and everyone has to hop to. How many senators and governors of this party have promised to just magically say the right words and everyone will behave? Here in Illinois we’ve had two of these guys and they’ve both noped out of the job the minute it became clear they’d have to work with people instead of screaming at them to obey.

And GOP intransigence during the Obama years only worsened the problem, because when you shut down all legislation you leave open the only door there is, and the president’s gonna use it, come on. Nobody, I don’t care how saintly, gives up power they don’t have to give up, so don’t throw B. Barry Bamz’s executive orders in my face. He kept trying while these tea people’s constituents were burning him in effigy.

Mr. Trump’s corrosive influence on his party would fill a book. It hasin factfilled several, as well as a slew of articles, social media posts and op-eds, written by conservatives both heartbroken and incensed over what has become of their party.

But many of these disillusioned Republicans also acknowledge that their team has been descending into white grievance, revanchism and know-nothing populism for decades.

DOES IT ONLY COUNT WHEN REPUBLICANS SAY IT? Because I remember quite a few people mentioning this as far back as 2001. I remember a whole lot of Democrats and HILLARY YOUR MOM CLINTON saying this during the 2016 campaign while our national punditry worried she was too smart and capable for the job.

Here’s Michelle Goldberg again, writing in 2003: 

The conference was packed with events devoted to denouncing the perfidious left. There were panels titled “Modern Feminism: The Bilking of the Taxpayer,” “Real Stories of Real Liberal Bias on Real College Campuses,” “NAACP, the Congressional Black Caucus and other Professional Victims” and “Myths, Lies & Terror: The Growing Threat Of Radical Environmentalism.” Dan Flynn, author of “Why the Left Hates America,” was on hand to sign his book. Ann Coulter, there to push her own book, was greeted with a thunderous standing ovation, after which she ripped into the “treason lobby” — the Democratic Party — whose platform “consists in breaking every one of the 10 commandments.”

But back then, we were starting a war that would be over in a couple of weeks, and everything was going great, and only pansy idiot fifth-columnists were worried about the racism and lawlessness embedded in that war’s cheerleaders. Only hysterical pussies were listening to the genocidal turns talk radio was taking and saying hey, this is going to inspire violence. Only conspiracy theorists thought our elections weren’t safe.

Maybe next time it won’t take 225,000 dead Americans for the Times to notice who’s been right about this all along.

HAHAHAHA even I’m not that naive.

A.

Happy Joe Biden Things

I know it seems like I’m desperate, right, like all I want in this job now is a MAMMAL and I’m flexible, like if we can rig up some lights for the iguana maybe that could work, but Joey B. Shark represents the forlorn recollection of a time when we had a president who didn’t treat people like shit: 

Yet, far more telling is Joe Biden’s history of support for transgender and non-binary people, something that has surprised even the occasional seasoned political reporter when I’ve briefed them. A week before the election in 2012, Biden told the mother of a transgender child that discrimination against trans people is “the civil rights issue of our time,” in that moment the most assertive public statement of support by any national leader specifically addressing trans rights.

In 2017, he endorsed Danica Roem, the first openly trans person to be elected to a state legislature in U.S. history. Del. Roem — who has won rave reviews for her laser-like focus on constituent concerns like transportation — received a phone call from Biden the night she won and made history, captured in a photo that went viral. Two years prior, Roem had met Biden after the death of his son Beau Biden, and she wrote movingly of his empathy in that moment.

Sarah McBride, the first openly-trans person to speak at a national convention and currently in a bid to become the first openly-trans state senator in the United States, has spoken numerous times of the Biden family’s insistent public support for trans rights, specifically the vice president, who wrote the foreword to her memoir released in 2018.

It would be so nice to have someone in office who doesn’t kick kindergarteners. It really would.

A.

Two Weeks

Two weeks, cats and kittens. Increasingly I have nothing, due to the sheer avalanche of bullshit and my own pressing need not to lose my grip on reality. Clench your fists, sharpen your teeth and get ready.

 

In no particular order:

  1. If we want everything to get back to “normal” we need to close down stadiums, restaurants, bars and performances, and pay all those people what they’d be making anyway. I don’t give a fuck, okay, about the owners of restaurant chains but if it takes a giant bailout for whoever owns six IHOPs to pay the people who clean those IHOPs then fine, do it.
  2. If we want schools to reopen then game this out for me: However much it would cost to send, basically, the Army Corps of Engineers to every school in America tomorrow to install state-of-the-art rich-lady-hospital quality HVAC with UV filters or whatever the hell in every single school in the land, we should pay that. It’ll have the added benefit of schoolkids not needing to wear parkas indoors and/or suffer heatstroke in June, but mostly it will help ensure kids can go back to school safely. Because …
  3. NOTHING gets better until the kids go back to school full-time. I’m sorry, childfree people, I was one of you and it blows to be held hostage to breeders like this, but our entire lives depend on doctors and bus drivers being able to work a full day. You can’t do that with part-time, hybrid, half-the-week-here, half-the-week-there schedules that throw everything into chaos. Kick’s school district keeps sending out emails that are like “what about a rotating once-a-full-moon day in class” and that’s fine for me, but a firefighter can’t just, like, blow off the rest of the shift and work from home and I’m pretty sure they don’t let kindergarteners actually ride in the ladder truck.
  4. NATIONAL MASK MANDATE. I don’t know how “staying alive by wearing a small piece of cloth over your face during the time you have to leave your house” became something only liberal pussies do, I really don’t. It’s not that hard to rally America to do something. The GOP managed to do it for two unwinnable wars and the election of Donald Trump, you’d think they could get their own feral caucus under control on the side of “even if we hate the governors of blue states we can work with these dicks just once so that our voters survive.” It’s not like they even have to stop being pricks. Be as mean as you want, wear a mask that says “Hillary’s a cunt,” that’s your free speech, just wear a mask so you don’t get any of it on me and mine.
  5. Once and for all time we are one country, not a collection of safe areas and danger zones. I can accept there are things Colorado has to deal with that Florida doesn’t and vice versa but if we all have a disease that crosses state lines we need solutions that do, too. This shouldn’t be complicated. This shouldn’t be hard. And the people who are making it difficult need to be identified and voted out.

So like this is the shit Joey B. Shark has to deal with on day one. Which necessitates the Senate, and not just a one- or two-asshole majority in the Senate. If Joe Manchin or some other dickhead can hold the whole place hostage every time someone doesn’t give him a rub and a tug just right then that’s not a majority, not the kind we need. Joe is 77 years old, I know Kamala’s right there but we do not exactly have a lot of time for the kind of cheap shit that went on during Obama’s two terms. Vote with your caucus or GTFO.

THEN we have to fix literally every agency and re-hire all the civil servants who quit, if they even want to come back, like would you. That’s if we have a clear decision on election night and a peaceful smooth transition STOP LAUGHING IT’S NOT FUNNY.

If, in two weeks, the cities are on fire and Trump is declaring victory, well, then, we will still have to do these things, and then I don’t see any way out of this that doesn’t involve jail time. I said this in 2004 and I meant it then, but I really mean it now, we’ve got two weeks. Whatever you’ve been doing, do it more.

A.

It’s Always Gonna Be Democrats’ Fault

Tomasky, proving that nothing has changed since 2002 for his simple ass: 

Trumpworld sees these things differently. Mike Pence articulated the view in the vice-presidential debate. “We’re about freedom and respecting the freedom of the American people,” Mr. Pence said. The topic at hand was the Sept. 26 super-spreader event in the Rose Garden to introduce Amy Coney Barrett as the president’s nominee for the Supreme Court and how the administration can expect Americans to follow safety guidelines that it has often ignored.

Kamala Harris countered that lying to the American people about the severity of the virus hardly counts as “respect.”

It was a pretty good riposte, but she fixed on the wrong word. She could have delivered a far more devastating response if she’d focused on the right word, one that the Democrats have not employed over the past several months.

For fuck’s sake. Sure, the problem here is that Team D just hasn’t used the right WORDS. If only they would play OFFENSE. If only they knew how to TALK, Republicans wouldn’t be forced to have a 24-hour propaganda network funnel every piece of puke from some incel’s basement onto the Twitter feeds of every reporter in America.

If only they’d SAY what was needed, we could have the intellectual debate Michael Tomasky, whose all-time hits include “the second Iraq war will be amazingly stupid great,” would like to have. Said intellectual debate being the real problem here, and not that the GOP is intent on KILLING PEOPLE.

Like imagine, in 2020, as the Republican Party dismantles voting rights from coast to coast, saying that this could all be prevented by a Democrat appealing to John Stuart Mill.

No, really:

Now, conservatives revere Mill. But today, in the age of the pandemic, Mill and other conservative heroes like John Locke would be aghast at the way the American right wing bandies about the word “freedom.”

Sure, that’s what would freak them out about the Grand Old Party of today, and not the ascension of an assheaded sentient cheeto who can’t string a sentence together if you spotted him a noun, a verb and two adjectives. You might also regale them with tales of “Freedom Fries,” a story I’m sure you’ve forgotten, Mikey, given that it happened during the days when Republicans had honor and dignity and the courage of their convictions and were in no way prone to spouting jingoistic garbage to appeal to the rubes.

I am so tired of telling Nancy Pelosi to fight harder and saying absolutely nothing to Mitch McConnell at all. Diane Feinstein sucks, okay, screw her, but let’s not pretend she’s done a fraction of the damage to the country in the past four years that Lindsey Graham has. Eyes on the goddamn ball. Every single day it’s WHY WON’T BIDEN BE PRESIDENT BEFORE HE’S EVEN PRESIDENT and come the hell on, here:

[…] the broad left in America has let all this go unchallenged for decades, to the point that today’s right wing — and it is important to call it that and not conservative, which it is not — can defend spreading disease, potentially killing other people, as freedom. It is madness.

The “broad left” in America has been drowned out by TV screamers in every podiatrist’s waiting room in the Midwest saying that liberals want to kill babies, take your money, give it to welfare queens, and reverse-racism the police. To come up with this kind of “if only the language were different” nonsense requires pretending that the media disparity between the left and the right doesn’t exist, or that there is a vibrant left media at all.

One thing Democrats in general aren’t very good at is defending their positions on the level of philosophical principle.

WHAT GODDAMN PLANET ARE YOU ON RIGHT NOW, WHAT ROLLING STONE DRUGS HAVE YOU SNORTED, THAT IS ALL DEMOCRATS ARE GOOD AT. They’re good at talking for HOURS about the philosophical underpinnings of this or that percent being necessary persuant to the above requirement that we all stuff our heads up our asses and means-test what we find there.

What they’re NOT good at, or weren’t until we decided to run the crabbiest old man in the universe, is fucking kneecapping the other guy and laughing while he whines.

I am so sick of this argument. I am so tired of the blame being shifted onto the party that DID NONE OF THIS, for not stopping it from happening, while the party of WE DON’T HAVE TO SCIENCE YOU CAN’T MAKE US gets to skate away with its pocket full of cash. I am so tired of nitpicking every D speech for something “they” can find to “use” against us when the past 20 years have proven definitively that if there’s nothing there Murdoch’s creatures will just make something up.

Why won’t Biden speak about this, why won’t Democrats make the debate about that, why won’t anyone do anything well WHY DON’T YOU ASK YOUR  CABLE NEWS FRIENDS WHY TRUMP’S EVERY TWEET GETS A ‘BREAKING’ CHYRON WHILE BIDEN ONLY BREAKS NEWS WHEN SOMEONE WANTS TO BITCH ABOUT THE FOOD IN HIS PRESS ROOM. Ask them if they’d cover the campaigns fairly if Democrats used the word “freedom” as John Stuart Mill would have them do.

I’m sorry I’m yelling so much but this is how it’s going to be for the next four years if we’re lucky enough to get a Biden Administration. It’s going to be nonstop blame for every single move Democrats make to put out the fires, and any mention of Trump having lit the kindling the GOP lovingly laid out for him going all the way back to Ronald Reagan, or Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan’s TRUCKS FULL OF GASOLINE PARKED OUT BACK, will be derided as somehow living in the past.

Say this: Freedom means the freedom not to get infected by the idiot who refuses to mask up.

That is all they have been saying. That is all Democratic governors have been saying, and meanwhile their Republican state legislatures are suing to keep getting people sick and kill them. Maybe we could focus some on that, and a little less on why Democrats so stubbornly refuse to invoke the great philosophers of yore.

Schmuck.

A.

It Can’t Be Close

Listen up:

Yes, it’s disgusting. Yes, it shouldn’t be this way. Yes, we shouldn’t have to fight this hard to VOTE. And of course the GOP doesn’t want people in cities and blue states to vote, and of course they’re going tooth and nail to prevent that, and of course they’re framing it as “preventing voter fraud” so that they can get the “both sides” columns they need to confuse the people who are interested enough in actual facts to look things up and decide it’s all too complicated, a pox on both their houses, might as well stay home.

What’s to be done? The odds are overwhelmingly in their favor. It is hard, in a normal year, to throw out an incumbent president, no matter how terrible. They have every institution of power on their side, every single one. That Trump is in enough trouble to warrant this kind of maneuvering is just a testament to how awful he’s been. So what to do?

We have 21 days.

Twenty-one days and then the rest of our lives, cats and kittens. What’s to be done?

Win. Win so big they can’t fight it. Win so big they can’t deny it. Win so big that we say, once and for all, that the America we want is not one in which their Nazi incel bullshit stands one iota of a chance.

It has to be overwhelming. It has to be a landslide for Joseph Robinette Biden, a human conference call, the most middle-of-the-road centrist on earth, the neoliberal-whatever-the-hell, in Congress for 200 years. We have to vote for him like we’re voting for Cardi B crossed with Santa Claus. It has to be a blue tsunami. It has to be a cyclone. It can’t be close.

Not in Florida, not in Wisconsin, not in Georgia, not in Texas. It can’t be close in Ohio or Pennsylvania. Ten points isn’t enough. It has to be beyond contestation.

We cannot DO four more years of this, and we can’t do Bush v. Gore again, not for this. Not to get kids out of cages and the Muslim ban rescinded and science back in charge of controlling a pandemic. That can’t be something we’re feeling six-of-one-half-dozen-of-the-other about. There cannot be compromise between people who want to roll back marriage equality for thousands of couples and people who don’t.

(What would that even look like? Divorce half the gay people? How do you compromise on that?)

Joey B. Shark, crabbiest dad on the face of the earth, 77 endless years old. There has to be an uprising on his behalf that sweeps away the last 40 years of Republican power in one go. That takes the Senate back, widens the lead in the House, lifts every statehouse candidate and every downticket perpetual also-ran who before this year didn’t have a shot in hell. It has to be something we’ve never seen in all our livin’ lives.

And the GOP is doing everything they can to make that impossible:

These dickweasels. Every last one of them learned at Roger Stone’s knee and they’re going to ratfuck because that’s what people who like to fuck rats do. Surprise and outrage, we ain’t got time for, and we can’t unfuck the rats. We can’t care about what they’re doing and God love every one of you watching the Amy Coney Barrett confirmation hearings. The ins and outs are not going to change no matter how much we yell at our TVs.

Put your money, right now, in state legislative races, bail funds, voter advocacy groups. Put your time into postcards and phone banking and signing up to drive people to the polls if you’re well enough to risk it. Protect yourselves and your families, check in on the people who’ll be at risk in the days after the election no matter how it goes. Either way, the neighborhood could be on fire.

All that matters now is the win. It can’t be a margin of victory. It can’t be single digits. Yes, we shouldn’t have to be in line for hours. We shouldn’t have to fight this in every court in the land. We shouldn’t have to all be tracking the status of our ballots obsessively online and constantly bugging each other. We shouldn’t have an electoral college and Senate that prioritizes landholders over citizens. This is no way to have a country.

And all we have is 21 days to save it.

So don’t back down. Don’t be scared. Don’t think, for one minute, that win or lose you have nothing to do in this situation. Fight. Fight for 21 days the way you’ve fought for the past four years, fight when you’re too tired, when you’re too sick, when you’re too scared, when you can’t anymore. I’m right there with you. Fight because you’re not dead yet and you don’t intend to let this kill you. Fight for those who can’t, for those who failed, for those who came before and won and were forgotten. Fight in daylight and dark and don’t give up and don’t back down and don’t back up.

Not. One. Inch.

A.

Happy Joey B. Shark Things

You know, we can and should still have a shit ton of fun in this fight. I missed this absolutely ADORKABLE interview when it happened and if I have to catch up with it so do all of you:

I love her so much. And he’s just a gigantic walking Dad Joke which, let’s be honest, is kind of what you want the president to be. A grown-up, trying way too hard, not always getting there.

A.

Yet Another Mystery

But why, why do all these assholes keep voting for Trump? 

One of the evergreen thought exercises of the Trump era has been trying to guess what it might take to finally shake the faith of his most devoted supporters. “We’re always asking, ‘What would it take to break the camel’s back?’” said former Representative Tom Rooney, Republican of Florida, who withdrew his support for Mr. Trump in 2016 after the release of the “Access Hollywood” video.

“When the losers-and-suckers thing happened, I asked a friend of mine if that bothered him, and he said, ‘Nope,’” Mr. Rooney told me.

All that mattered to his friend was that he thought Mr. Trump was a better bet to keep his taxes low. “That was it,” Mr. Rooney said. “End of discussion.”

Look. This isn’t complicated. Before the pandemic, it was safe enough for rich white people to laugh along with the bully because the bully wasn’t going to hurt them. It was safe enough for middle-class and poor white people to egg the bully on, and use the bully’s name to commit their own acts of aggression. They could do that, even nervously, even reluctantly, and know that whatever horrors Trump visited on poor people, immigrants, liberals, anyone a fraction more melanated than himself, they would be shielded from it.

The joke is ALWAYS funny when it’s not about you. I was taught that most of our elite reporting class went to prep schools. Could they really have learned so little about playground dynamics? Were there no scholarship kids there for them to beat up on? Jesus, the innocence they pretend to.

But now? Now that people who denied the seriousness of the virus and laughed at people wearing masks are getting sick and dying? 

“I just want to punch him,” Schultz said. “I always had to keep my politics to myself, but from where I’m sitting now? Those days are over.

“I shouldn’t be here.”

Trump, he said, should have been more upfront with the public from the beginning about the dangers of the coronavirus, should have acted quicker, promoted wearing face masks. If he had, Schultz believes, maybe the pandemic would not have struck his community so hard, might not have wound up at his door.

Now it’s a lot less funny. They thought he would hurt other people. He ran, explicitly, on hurting other people. A lot of people heard him talking about manufacturing jobs and sticking it to The System and they thought he was their friend. But anyone who’s ever known a bully knows that the bully’s only friend is himself, and he will cut down with furious anger anyone who threatens him no longer how much they think he’s on their side.

A.