Category Archives: Athenae

On Enemies, and Their People

As the kids say, read the thread:

Okay, we’ve covered before the idea that this media hate is something new, either for Trump or the Republican party, but one thing we haven’t talked about is the money behind the media hate, the money that made it happen.

I’m not talking about the financing of Fox News. I’m talking about the money that left Fox News the only game in town.

Here’s the last 20 years, roughly. Large corporations bought up local papers in places like those Arnade travels, and then systematically killed those papers. This serial murder was helped along by TV news and the mobile Internet, but make no mistake, this was a slaughter sponsored by and enthusiastically supported by corporate interests in the name of profit and it would have happened even if Craig never made a List.

Local newspapers were the major source of news for Trump’s demographics, 25 years ago. Older, white, traditionally small-c conservatives and their slightly wealthier suburban children, who grew up picking up a paper from the porch. They likely would have done so forever if, you know, the local paper hadn’t fired half the staffers worth reading, filled its pages with AP and entertainment bullshit, cut the size of the paper, doubled the price, and then stopped delivering it altogether.

NONE of this was anything the journalists so stridently defending their existences on Twitter had anything to do with, but it is at the heart of both why Trump won and why his anti-media message is central to his appeal. It’s why “the media” looks to his voters like an unrecognizable conglomerate of what Arnade calls “front-row kids” talking about things they don’t care about.

I grew up in Trump country, in a small town in Wisconsin ruined by the collapse of manufacturing jobs and the weakening of organized labor and YES, by racism and isolation and resentment. I am 100 percent leaving everybody I know on the hook. But they — working and middle-middle-class people — knew “media.” They knew a reporter. A working reporter who went to their schools and lived next door and walked the dog on their block. They knew a sportswriter, a photographer, the kid who delivered the thing.

Kill the local paper, and you kill that familiarity, not just of the reporter for his community but of the community for its reporter, for ITS media. You make “media” an abstraction, at enough remove to hate.

And oh, boy, came the hate. Into the vacuum left by the death of local papers came conservative talk radio, head-first and stupid fast. And talk radio is the place where Trump’s voters learned there was another “media,” one that “hated” and “looked down on” them, one that didn’t share their “values.” Into the space once occupied by the voices of their neighbors came the voices of Rush Limbaugh, and Mark Belling, and Charlie Sykes, saying over and over that there is a force out there loathing and despising you and you’d better hate them right back.

Limbaugh and his ten-a-penny fascisti imitators were rich assholes bankrolled by other rich assholes, natch, but that didn’t matter when they were the only ones there. It was a 24-7 onslaught over the airwaves, and instead of countering that then, when it could have  been stopped, the leaders of media corporations bought those radio talkers and elevated them to respectability. Producers booked them on national shows. Editors ran (and still run) those hateful screechers on their opinion pages. And anyone who fought back was overreacting.

I can’t tell you how many times I heard I was overreacting, to a “joke” about a truck bomb killing my friends.

We’ve heard a lot since the election and especially since Trump started his latest crusade about subscribing to the Times and the Post to “support the media” and there are hashtags and pizza funds and such, all of which I think is nice. I like supporting big papers, though I’d like their own leadership to support them and stop publishing shite like this. However, trying to counter Trump’s anti-media message by buying into the Times and the Post and only watching CNN is a little like trying to rebuild your street by kicking in 10 bucks toward repaving the Brooklyn Bridge.

We’ve heard a lot since the election about rebuilding all kinds of infrastructure in small Midwestern towns and in neighborhoods where indifference and “did not vote” was the choice of 2016. Party infrastructure, the 50 State Strategy, fighting for every vote, all of that is important. We MUST, those of us who call ourselves progressive and care about a free press and a free society, include media infrastructure in that rebuilding.

I am not arguing for more condescending, fly-in Times stories about white racists and their clothes. I am arguing for more stories about their city councils, their local schools, their water boards, their police departments. I am arguing for stories about their crime and courts and I am arguing not to the local reporters trying to do this work already, but to the corporate bosses so reluctant to fund it for the amount of time it takes to make a damn dent.

“We tried local news sites,” they’ll protest. Yeah, for six seconds. Local newspapers built loyalty over LIFETIMES in communities, and people get mad when they can’t just yell “hyperlocal” three times and make Beetlejuice instantly appear.

This crap is also not helpful:

For rich companies’ rich employees like Chuck Todd to rage on Twitter about the devaluing of the press, well, Chuckles and all his friends could pool their pocket change and buy six small city or suburban papers, staff them, and get them on people’s goddamn porches every day. THAT would be valuing the press.

But are local papers still that important, with the Internet phone sand the Facebooking and the FakeNewz? Um, yeah. Seventy-five percent of Americans don’t use Twitter. Ten percent of the country doesn’t have high-speed Internet. Even in a huge city, how often do you get handed a flyer about a thing happening? Absent texting every single person on the planet (and ignoring that there are vast stretches of America where cell service blows goats) it is still HELLA efficient to print the news on a dead tree and physically give it to someone.

“Nobody on the subway with me today is reading the paper! They’re all on their phones!” Yeah, and everybody in my parents’ kitchen is reading the paper, so maybe neither of our experiences is universal. Yet media companies have utterly given up on print customers. They’ve decided “older, and not as many of them as there once were” means “not enough to give a shit about” and they’ve cut those people loose. So to make a local paper work you might have to give lots of papers away. You might need to market the shit out of your paper. You might need to invest in some newsboy-capped urchins to hand the thing out. It’s still gonna be a hell of a lot cheaper than literally anything else media companies are currently doing.

TRONC.

Absent a paper, a radio show might also be a good thing. The best thing, though, is to find the people already doing the work in these communities and support the shit out of THEM. Build up in the places you aren’t, instead of hunkering down where you are and hoping the President, whose entire appeal is imagined elitism, stops yelling at you. Stop hiding out and then wondering why nobody anywhere else knows you or loves you or values what you do.

Of course they don’t. You abandoned them years ago, on purpose, for money. I’m one of you and I hate you a lot of the time for it, too.

A.

Today in Things That Were Always Bullshit: WCHA Dinner

Keep pretending Trump doesn’t hate you and maybe it will magically be true! 

The White House Correspondents’ Association dinner is not a mood ring. It doesn’t care if President Trump — or any president — likes, dislikes, celebrates, scorns or ignores White House reporters. The annual gala does not indicate, illustrate or represent the relationship between the White House and the reporters who cover it. It is an institution that celebrates one bedrock American value, the First Amendment, and two journalistic goals: to highlight excellent reporting and to award scholarships to the next generation of American journalists.

That has always been true. But the Trump presidency has inspired some in the press corps to boycott this year because — if I have this right — reporters are too good for Trump.

Or  because he directly threatened and encouraged his supporters to threaten and in some cases attack them for having the gall to show up and record his rallies.

Samesies.

My outlet, CBS News, will participate this year and proudly so. If they back out now, organizations that attended last year ought to explain what is different about this year. Is it Trump? Or is it them? Skipping needlessly hands an evidentiary cudgel to Trump and his acolytes that reporters cannot and will not cover his presidency objectively.

Lord knows that they’re waiting for evidence before making any claims, lest they be accused of exaggerating or outright lying. Heaven forfend.

They don’t need evidence. They already hate you. This would just provide an opportunity for them to hate you more. And the idea that there’s some unwritten rule that you have to laugh while they do so in front of others is just ridiculous.

Besides, Trump is hardly the first president to see the press as his enemy. Other presidents have at times demonstrated contempt for journalists, limited our access, circumvented us and questioned our motives. I’ve covered three of them.

And every single time you should have told them roundly to fuck right off.

Look, I’m sorry you’ve been debased in the past and made peace with your debasement, but that doesn’t mean you have to keep letting that debasement go on. You can start to stick up for yourself right now today at any damn time, so why not pick right now today? Why not pick Trump?

You’re afraid they’ll accuse you of bias? Do you think these people pay attention to FACTS? Have you met the election we just had? Have you seen these fucking frog-boys and their elderly enablers? All they want is to scream LOCK HER UP at some chick. They do not want to thoughtfully consider that my oh my, the press has now demonstrated willingness to treat Trump fairly and therefore we shall cease calling for your fiery death.

Schmuck.

A.

But They’ll Let Me Cut Taxes, Mom!

Republicans were always gonna be okay with it: 

In effect, congressional Republicans have sought to compartmentalize Mr. Trump’s presidency, adopting a cafeteria-style approach. They reach for the more appealing offerings, such as the Supreme Court nominee, Judge Neil M. Gorsuch, and avert their gaze from less appetizing or, to some, downright indefensible elements (America is not so different from Vladimir V. Putin’s Russia), which would have surely drawn relentless rebukes if uttered by President Barack Obama.

Some lawmakers take comfort knowing that the president’s behavior last year didn’t hurt their campaigns, and they have used the electoral result as a justification unto itself, suggesting — as Mr. Trump has constantly — that his campaign success validates his approach.

“He’s a unique personality, to be sure,” acknowledged Senator John Cornyn of Texas, the Republican whip. “But he’s gotten this far the way he is, and I think that probably leads him to think, well, it’s working for him so far, so why change?”

And Republican lawmakers do not mind?

“As long as we’re able to get things done,” Mr. Cornyn said.

They were always gonna be fine with basically being in hock to the Russian mob.

They were always gonna be fine with unsecured e-mail, unhinged Twitter, incoherent interviews, babbling speeches, and lie after lie after lie after lie.

They were always gonna be fine with a cabinet run by Goldman Sachs and the oil industry.

They were gonna be fine with whatever they had to be fine with, because Donald Trump will let them cut taxes.

They were gonna be fine with whatever they had to be fine with, because Donald Trump will let them repeal Obamacare.

They were gonna be fine with whatever they had to be fine with, because Donald Trump will let them push their 20-week abortion bans and personhood laws, their birth control restrictions and defunding of mammograms for poor women.

Oh, sure, one or two of them might say something mean to a reporter or on Twitter, but none of them were actually going to hold a hearing, or vote against a cabinet nominee, or encourage others in their party to break ranks.

Why would they? He lets them get things done.

This was all obvious to anyone with half a brain who was doing anything like actually looking at what was happening during the Republican primaries, but we still had six months of stories about how surely, any minute now, the grown-ups in the GOP were going to take control back from this tangerine-tinted madman and restore order in the land.

Surely his cabinet would save us! Surely he would surround himself with smart people who would run things while he just, like, golfed or something. Surely he would jettison all the white supremacist rhetoric and govern as a moderate! The office will change and mature him! The party will keep him in line!

Those of us functionally awake during the Obama era, during the Sarah Palin’s Facebook Rules Our World era, during the Don’t You Want to Fuck George W. Bush era, during the Senator Saxby Chambliss era, during the Purple Heart Band-Aid era, said no way no how is any of this going to happen, because we are not idiots, and we know what the Republicans of the last 20 years are about.

They’re about cutting taxes, repealing Obamacare, gutting business regulations, slapping their foreign policy on the table, and punishing women for having sex. And they are willing to put up with anything they have to put up with in order to get that stuff done.

So spending time with them now asking REALLY? REALLY THIS IS OKAY WITH YOU? isn’t going to shame them into acting right, into filing articles of impeachment or invoking the 25th amendment or even written a sternly worded letter or two. I keep seeing these bewildered stories, like, “Isn’t there anything that would convince you your party’s president has gone off the rails?”

No. There’s nothing that would convince them of that. There’s nothing they are willing to do about it and there never was.

There’s something we can do, however.

We can remember that they’re like this. We can, for once in our ahistorical, nonsensical political lives, internalize and forever recall that the GOP has no loyalty to anything but the concept of itself, and the next time we’re offered a choice between one of them and another candidate, we can vote for their opponents.

A.

‘only the players are flipped’

Ugh, peak “both sides:” 

Republicans are getting an unexpected jolt from both the left and their own anxious base at these town halls — and it’s a moment that looks like a mirror image of the national mood almost a decade ago. The common thread between then and now: One party in control of Washington undertaking a massive change to Americans’ health care. When Democrats were in Republicans’ situation in 2010, they lost control of Congress and haven’t regained it since.

Let’s back up. In 2009, Democrats had large majorities in Congress and controlled the White House. They quickly drew on their political capital to pursue one of the biggest changes to the American health-care system in decades.

That summer, before Obamacare became law, Democrats across the nation went home to their districts and were caught off guard by passionately angry constituents — mostly conservative — at town halls, fearful of how Obamacare might take away their rights.

Here are some major differences for everyone in this room who is an idiot.

  1. The Republican concerns about the ACA were completely baseless and in some cases outright falsehoods: death panels murdering people in their beds and so on.
  2. Those concerns came from Republican politicians and Republican-controlled media pushing scare stories nonstop.
  3. The current protests and pushback on GOP legislators are coming from no one in office since most Democratic senators can’t find their asses with both hands and a posse right now.
  4. That pushback is occurring not on one issue but on many: climate change denial, cabinet appointees either unqualified or evil or both, ethical violations that would give Richard Nixon multiple orgasms, and an immigration “policy” as incoherent as it is racist. Oh, yeah, and proposing to repeal the only health insurance option many people have.
  5. With the exception of the latter, these are not hypotheticals. The constituents who are so rudely confronting their GOP reps are reacting to actual things that are happening right now or have already happened: Legal immigrants getting harassed and detained at the border, ICE going door to door asking for people’s papers, journalists being threatened and charged with felonies, and oh yeah, that really bitchin’ torture ban (weaksauce though it was) getting thrown out the window. Plus actual votes on repealing Obamacare.

So please do not come at me with this:

In 2017, the initial script appears to be the same, only the players are flipped.

Only the players. Sure.

Only the players, their intentions, the consequences of their actions, the relative power of the people their actions will affect, and OH YEAH IF THEIR ACTIONS HAPPEN TO BE IN ANY WAY REAL OR JUST SOME MADE UP TALK RADIO BULLSHIT DESIGNED TO GET PEOPLE TO VOTE REPUBLICAN. For fuck’s sake, it’s no wonder everybody just gives up on politics when the journalism is this goddamn dumb.

Are Thursday’s town halls early warning signs of a historically major loss to come for Republicans in the 2018 midterms? (Not likely in the Senate, given the map is so favorable for Republicans.) Is this a movement that will give rise to new liberal leaders in a party that many believe desperately needs them? Or will moments like Thursday’s events pull the Democratic Party further to the left in a way that hurts its electoral chances? Will these people even vote in 2018, given they expressed their frustration after the election?

THREE MILLION MORE OF US EXPRESSED OUR OPINION ON ELECTION DAY BUT YOU CONFEDERATE-ENABLING GOATFUCKERS HELD A THERAPY SESSION FOR THE WINNERS INSTEAD OF TALKING TO US.

I’M SORRY I’M YELLING SO MUCH.

Really.

But this whole “politics is a big giant game of pieces moving and none of it really affects people” genre needs to die a fiery death. Instead of comparing how people are mad today versus how people were mad eight years ago, maybe figure out what they’re mad about and if that anger is based on reality or crap, and adjust your editorial agenda thusly.

A.

‘your husband will do anything for you—slay the dragons, kill the beast’

Ladies, stop agreeing with your husbands only when you … agree with them: 

Alpha women aren’t exactly new, but they were once a rarer breed. Today they abound. There are several reasons why, but it’s in large part due to women having been groomed to be leaders rather than to be wives. Simply put, women have become too much like men. They’re too competitive. Too masculine. Too alpha.

Strangely, this is never a problem faced by a human male.

Every relationship requires a masculine and a feminine energy to thrive.

I have some questions.

How is such energy measured and quantified? Is there a test strip, like a blood sugar monitor, where you can prick your finger and see how much masculine humour you contain that day? Is it something you can smell in the air? Does this apply only to heterosexual relationships, or do same-sex couples need to test regularly as well? Have you ever asked a gay couple which one is the woman? I feel like you have.

The roles may have changed, but the rules haven’t. All a good man wants is for his wife to be happy, and he will go to great lengths to make it happen. He’ll even support his wife’s ideas, plans or opinions if he doesn’t agree with them.

Lady, I do not know who you are married to but get out now. Someone in your relationship is an asshole. I don’t know which one of you it is (probably both) but I know if this is how you look at things, neither of you should be there.

What men want most of all is respect, companionship and sex.

Women hate these things.

If you supply these basics, your husband will do anything for you—slay the dragons, kill the beast, work three jobs, etc.

The 1150s  called. They said be sure to salt the beast-meat or it gets gnarly in the cellar and also your brave knight just died of something called “the pox” which apparently he picked up from a serving girl in the next village.

(Also? Plenty of people working three jobs for another person’s joy are fucking miserable and resent the living shit out of it and aren’t shy about saying so.)

Your husband’s actions are more often than not reactions. He’s reacting to something you said or did, or to something you didn’t say or didn’t do. He’s reacting to your moods, your gestures, your inflections and your tone. That’s how men are. Your husband wants you to be happy, and when he sees it isn’t working he thinks he’s failed. That’s when he acts out.

That’s when he gets sent to time-out to think about what he’s done and if he tells you that you started it, you take away his pacifier. Jesus Christ, ladies, don’t we have enough to do without adding another toddler to the mix?

I’d think to myself, How can I possibly make sure my husband isn’t negatively affected by my every mood swing? I’m a Pisces, for God’s sake!

Astrology is not a real thing. Nor is any of this Mars-Venus crap. When you were born is not an all-access pass to behave however the fuck you want.

Girls, embrace the laziness that comes from submitting to your husband’s every whim!

I’m an alpha all day long, and it gets tiresome. I concede that I thrive on it; but at the end of the day, I’m spent. Self-reliance is exhausting. Making all the decisions is exhausting. Driving the car, literally or figuratively, is exhausting.

If driving the car is that tiresome, reconsider either the particulars of your commute, or the make and model of your vehicle. Or, you know, suck it the fuck up. Being an adult IS exhausting. Everybody wants to just lie down and eat pie for lunch. Yet somehow most of us persist.

First I’d handle something the “right” way—i.e. by not arguing with him, or by not directing his traffic, or by being more service-oriented—and marvel at the response. Then life would get busy, and I’d resort to my old ways. Sure enough, I’d get a different response. So I’d make a mental note of how I messed up and make sure to get it right the next time. Eventually, it became second nature.

“Eventually, treating my relationship like an experiment in which I provided differing responses to various stimuli became second nature, and I no longer saw my husband as a person in the same house but as a lever I could push to get a pellet. Then life REALLY started kicking ass!”

This garbage is the same as any other relationship advice garbage, which is that, delivered to everyone in the house, it makes a lot of sense: Don’t pick fights just to pick fights, don’t agree to shit just to agree to it, try not to be assholes to each other or have to be in charge all the time, etc. But somehow this advice never DOES get delivered to men and women.

It gets delivered to someone who’s unhappy in a relationship because she doesn’t feel valued and respected, and the advice always boils down to: Don’t ask for that. If it’s making you unhappy to want to be treated like a human, learn to want something else.

To which all I can say is that it is absolutely ASTONISHING that fewer young people are getting married, or marrying later, with people like this out there making it look like this much fun.

A.

Defending a Nazi Won’t Get You Into Free Speech Heaven

Angus Johnston, who you should be reading if you are not:

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Here’s why I’m not defending them.

I don’t care about them.

And I think most of the people who do, with the exception of true, TRUE civil libertarians like the fucking saints at the ACLU, are just showing off.

Here’s my problem with wanking all day on Twitter about if we should punch Nazis or not, if Milo should be allowed to yell incoherently and incite mobs to attack trans students on university campuses and whatever: I almost never see the “defend to the death your right to say it” absolutism being preached by anybody who’s not a straight white comfortable dude.

I would respect the argument that we should let Milo yell his yelling if that argument came from a trans student in actual physical danger from Milo’s idiot army. I would respect the argument that we shouldn’t punch Nazis if the argument came from someone who the Nazi thought was subhuman. If people who are gay, trans, Muslim, minority, poor, want to tell me that they will get in the street to support the right of total assholes to exhort others to exterminate them, then hand me a damn sign and show me where the pro-Nazi protest is.

What I will not listen to is one more person with zero skin in the game deploring the tone in the room.

Because that’s always what it comes down to, from the Internet Constitutional Lawyers who scold everyone else for applauding a protest that shut someone down. Some airy, detached examination of “the real issue” which is, naturally, the speaker’s making himself sound superior to those who get all uncouth and het up about their impending deaths in gas chambers.

It’s not that I don’t see the opportunity for academic debate, mind. Or for study. It’s that I don’t actually give a fuck right now about being scolded, not by people who are not in any kind of danger.

“Well, what would you say if it was YOUR campus homophobe protest that was being shut down, HUH? HUH!?” I would say the grown-ups are talking right now, hie your whitebread ass head to some sophomore college coffeehouse and see if the kids there will tolerate your snide shit because no one here cares.

A.

You Can’t Argue with the Need to Perform

A story in a bunch of tweets from last week:

I keep seeing all these bewildered reactions whenever some massive Trump scandal or screwup or conspiracy is exposed. Why doesn’t this “stick?” Why doesn’t this change anyone’s mind? He’s going to let Paul Ryan gut their Medicare. Why doesn’t that matter? He’s hiring the entirety of the financial crisis and letting it run the economy. Why aren’t Trump voters feeling betrayed? Why isn’t THIS or THIS or THIS the breaking point for anyone who voted for him? Because none of that interferes with the central reason they voted for him. They keep telling you. They voted for him to give a big middle finger to women, black people, libtards, intellectuals, bureaucrats, feminazis, protesters, immigrants legal and otherwise, politicians generally and anything else that bugged them.

And he may be betraying every campaign promise but he’s not breaking the only one they cared about: The one to make them feel like they mattered again.

It’s performative. It’s the entire Republican thing, from before George W. Bush probably, and we keep wanting to make it make sense. Performances don’t make sense. You can’t argue me out of putting green and gold on and tromping up the stairs to Lambeau in 13 degree weather to watch my quarterback throw four interceptions while his receivers treat every oncoming football like it’s made out of bees. You can’t do it. I want to be a Packer fan. These people want to be FOR TRUMP.

And FOR TRUMP means they get to feel powerful. FOR TRUMP means they get to bully right back. FOR TRUMP means they get to tell their liberal sister-in-law that she’s a stupid bitch. FOR TRUMP means instead of respecting a black or brown person, they get to call that person names. FOR TRUMP means they get to turn off that nagging instinct, nurtured by the churches they say mean so much to them, that maybe they should help the big scary world that’s burning down outside their windows. FOR TRUMP means they get to feel like being mad is enough.

(Do some of them have genuine economic problems that could have been addressed by Democratic policies had Democrats not been sucking off every investment banker they saw? OF COURSE. That doesn’t address the reflexive FUCK YOU that is the response to anything Trump does now.)

It’s part and parcel of the performative aspect of politics generally. Try telling a movement pro-lifer that the best way to raise abortion rates is to outlaw abortion. They’re not going to argue the facts with you. They’re going to BE AGAINST abortion. They’re going to wear the T-shirt and they’re going to vote because they want to keep that part of the character they invented and put on like a suit. You can’t talk them out of their clothes, God’s sakes.

We used to say, all us internet grandparents who were around during the early days post-9/11, that this had given a lot of the population the excuse to be the assholes they’d always wanted to be. A lot of the bewilderment from well-meaning white progressives right now is the inability to accept that the simmering anti-lib dad anger, quiet nice-lady racism and selfishness of their parents and their parents’ friends wasn’t all that different from the white supremacists screaming in the street. When you get right down to it, they both always voted the same way. The former might be more dangerous, in the long run.

So what do you DO, a couple of people asked on Twitter. If facts don’t matter and arguments don’t matter and scandals don’t matter, do you just give up on these people? And my immediate reaction was yes, and with a couple of days to think about it I still think, kind of?

Kind of means you start treating them like the addicts they are. They’re high as kites on talk-radio distortions and you don’t sit down with a cokehead and calmly debate the merits of smoking up some pure clean LIFE instead. You get that cokehead into rehab if you can, but for God’s sake you stop giving him money. You stop feeding the beast with empathetic articles and moving to the right on social issues and other useless mollifications that I’m sure many highly paid consultants in DC are advising right now.

You find ways to save the people being hurt by the person all this performance put in power. You rally for the immigrants and you call your congressmen and you write to your senators and you volunteer at the shelter and you do what you can to save as many as you can. That’s where you put your energy. You take care of the person the rage-addicts hurt.

Maybe some of them will come around. When they do, when they get woke, you treat them gently, like newborns to the world of sense, and you give them work to do too. You don’t give them a medal for showing up but you give them a job. The more people have to do, the less time they’ll have to stew on the ways in which the world has wronged them.

And when comes the time to vote again? When that comes around? You make sure you and yours are THERE. Because there are more good people than bad, even if there are more quiet people than loud. You vote this shit down and out, you watch it die, and you move on.

A.

Let Me Make This Easy for You, Democrats

No.

Really? Still? We’re still doing this? It’s 2017. We’re fully more than a decade past the time when Democrats, eager to take the high road and do the right thing and be patriotic and put country before party, sucked George W. Bush’s strap-on and were rewarded for their decency by having the war hero they nominated for president derided as a commie faggot peace-freak appeaser. We jus spent eight years in which a Democratic president gave weekly speeches about nonexistent well-meaning Republicans who just disagreed on policy while they howled outside his windows burning him in effigy. And we’re still gonna do the right thing?

WHY?

I mean it, God, why? So rich fucks like Richard Blumenthal can look at themselves in the mirror and talk to their reflections about how they tried, or something? So they can feel good about themselves? So they can say they did the “right thing” as defined by some centrist think tank as its members hump the status quo like their lives depend on it? So they don’t ruffle any feathers on the half-plucked chicken we’ve placed in the executive branch? So that maybe next time they’ll get a freebie? How stupid are these people?

Let me explain this for everybody, the fucking club of the most of them, that just got here on the last bus out of Idiotville. Let me tell you what will happen if Democrats hold hearings and confirm this guy. Let’s imagine they do that, and somehow we all survive the next four years and come out alive, and it’s a Democratic president in that chair the next time. And maybe Ruth Bader Ginsberg or one of the other 400-year-old people decides to pack it in. Let me lay out for you what happens next.

In payment for Democrats being so nice and good, and voting to confirm this suit filled with cockroaches to the highest court in the land, Republicans will make the next Democratic nominee into the biggest screaming pinko terrorist butt-buddy to ever walk the earth. They will portray that person, most likely a semi-conservative career prosecutor or the like, as a grave threat to the Republic and come up with endless rationales for delaying and finally denying his or her confirmation, and after they do that they’ll take victory laps at CPAC so the frog-fuckers who vote for them can shower them with praise for saving the land.

That will be your reward, Democrats, for “doing the right thing” by Republicans. Would that any of you were half as interested in doing the right thing by your constituents, or by America. Would that you felt as strongly about doing the right thing for us. Would that that kept you up at night.

Schmucks.

A.

Save One

We are arguing about how much of the house is on fire, with the refugee/immigrant ban. We are arguing closet versus attic versus living room, instead of picking up a damn bucket and putting the fire out:

President Trump and his aides love to cite a small number and a big number in order to minimize the impact of the president’s executive order suspending the visas of citizens of seven countries.

But these figures are incredibly misleading, so let’s go through the math.

Let’s not, because it doesn’t fucking matter. I don’t care if this executive order affected one person.  I don’t care if this hadn’t affected ANYONE yet. In no possible world are any of our laws tested constitutionally based on how many people they affect. That’s not the measurement. That’s not the qualifier. You don’t get to say well, we only screwed over a dozen immigrant kids, so until we get to triple digits we’re cool. That’s not how any of this works.

Our laws were not designed to save as many as possible. Our laws were designed to save us all, and that means saving one. One person. One child. One family. One mother or father or brother or sister. Our laws were designed to weigh us all, one against the other, and say no one of us is worth more than any of the others.

It’s why our presidents, our congressmen, are subject to our laws. It’s why you can bring suit against those holding the highest offices in the land. It’s why you and I can — or should be able to — avail ourselves of the same legal system as someone who got here last week.

And that includes potential terrorists, for all the wingnuts in the cheap seats. I know you all think life is a nonstop episode of 24 and if President Trump doesn’t personally electrode a Syrian dude’s balls in the Roosevelt Room then we’ll all die in a nuclear attack, but a) that is not how anything is going to happen and b) at no point would such a scenario be endangered by said Syrian dude invoking a right to counsel. If Trump is hooking jumper cables to his nethers he’s already figured out that nobody can hear him scream.

Meanwhile, the non-terrorist families that just want to come here, get jobs, spend money at the local Wal-Mart and watch American TV are going to get handcuffed and deported back to the places we explicitly encouraged them to flee, and you’ll pardon me if I don’t want to wait until they’re a certain percentage of travelers or if they’re especially promising at geometry or any of the other bullshit narratives that have sprung up in the past 72 (holy shit, only 72) hours.

They’re human beings, and we are America. Let’s not go through the math.

A.

Let the Word Ring Forth

Now senators, congressman, please heed the call:

Week one.

 

 

There are all these things it’s important to remember, like how standing up is always better than sitting still and speaking is always better than staying quiet, like how there are more of us than there are of them, like how no despot or tyrant has ever held a whole people by force of arms against their will forever, like how surviving isn’t the goal but saving very definitely is.

But this is perhaps the most important thing to remember now, when things are so crazy that between my beginning to write this and ending it four more insane stories have come out about our federal government:

This isn’t all on us.

There are people we have elected, we have hired, we have chosen, to do a job here, and they are NOT DOING IT. They are sitting by while an unhinged neofascist and the man-baby figurehead he controls are attempting to destroy every strength this country has.

Republicans are sitting by, and it’s hard not to shrug and say of course they are. They’ve put party before country for more than a decade now. But they are sitting by while this happens and it’s important to remember that. They have a choice here. We shouldn’t let them off the hook just because they made the bullshit craven one we thought they’d make.

Democrats are sitting by, the club of the most of them, and for the life of me I can’t tell if it’s because they’re stunned by the pace of the insanity (PAY ATTENTION) or if they’re trying to figure out where to fire first but listen, if thousands of protesters can show up in airports and find places to park and figure it out, then surely our congressmen and women can huddle up and come up with an opposition plan that goes beyond deploring the tone in the room.

It’s important to remember that this is their job not in order to let ourselves off the hook but to put them on it. They have to be reminded. They have to be held to account for what they’ve done and not done. They have to present a united, coherent, effective opposition to every single thing Donald Trump and his ten-a-penny fascisti come up with, every time.

It’s important to remember that this is their job, one way or another, because if we remember that now, we stand a better chance of remembering it in the next election. In the next election, there are going to be a lot of excuses made for why Trump was unstoppable, why the chaos just occurred, why the horrific DC custom of behaving oneself at the cocktail party was more important than American values or American lives. And it’s important to remember that those excuses are bullshit.

Know that they are. Know that this could be stopped by the people in power. March in the streets knowing that they could make those marches unnecessary and choose not to do so. Remember the ones who march with you. Remember the ones who stayed home. Support the former.

AND VOTE THE LATTER OUT.

A.

Three or, A List of Things, In No Particular Order, My Daughter Says Now

“Up. Up. Up. UP. UP. UUUUUUUUUUP.” This is her morning greeting and my daily alarm clock. With the exception of an 18-month sleep regression that almost killed us all, Kick has always been a championship sleeper. She has never once, however, climbed out of her crib. She stays in there, yelling in increasing volume, until she’s fetched from it, and as much as sometimes I would love for her to just get up and get dressed and make her own damn breakfast for once, most days I get out of bed smiling at the steady increase in volume and exasperation.

“That doesn’t sound right.” This is an all-purpose phrase for declining anything she doesn’t want to do, from putting her toys away to eating her dinner to getting out of the bath. It has the effect of making me laugh, whereas her previous go-to, a loud NO followed by screaming, got her a time-out and a discussion about what exactly deserves to be made a federal case in this house. While I’m laughing at the airy detachment with which she interrogates even the most mundane request, she gets to keep playing, so it’s an effective temporary tactic if not a permanent one.

“Come on, guys.” This is always either directed at her plastic animals and dinosaurs when they are being recalcitrant, or at the football players on the TV to whom Dad has just said something very rude.

“I’m going to work.” She gets up sometimes, from playing, and puts on her sunglasses and picks up a Hello Kitty bucket in which she shoves some random collection of plastic toys, and bids me adieu as she saunters down the hall. Working mom guilt is bullshit, but it is real bullshit, and that she sees it as normal for her tiny little female self to have a job assuages some of it.

Some.

“I want to be alone right now.” I suggested she say this as a polite alternative after she told me to “go away” while she played with her toys. Kick has always needed her space. Even as a newborn, she would get overstimulated and only calm down when put down in her bassinet by the window, where she could watch the birds and catch her breath. She hugs and cuddles on her terms, for a few moments, and then is off again, completely at home in her skin.

“Whose streets? Our streets!” She picked that one up at the Women’s March last weekend in Chicago. Kick’s an easygoing child, and generally willing to be dragged along on whatever trip Mom and Dad were taking anyway. She’s spent a lot of time in the car driving to various relatives’ and friends’, she loves street festivals and anything outdoors and loud, so seeing the weather was balmy we determined to all go protest as a family.

Someone asked us at a party once what our “parenting philosophy” was, and I said something like, “we are hoping to keep her from electrocuting herself until we can send her to college.” An only slightly expanded version is this: We will do stuff on the assumption that she can handle it, and preserve an escape route in case she can’t. An acquaintance, seeing her picture as she reveled in the experience, wondered if she “really” understood what the march was about or what was happening.

Of course she didn’t.

A good friend, while I was publicly fretting about one of Kick’s feral, stabby phases, described parenting preschoolers as “creating norms” and I’ve been relaxed ever since she said it, like the job is not to control their behavior but to show them what normal behavior is. At this age, you are building muscle memory. They are saying please and thank you because it gets them what they want and makes you happy, not because they understand the network of underlying social conventions that make up humanity. They refrain from hitting or biting not out of profound empathy but because the last time they did that you subjected them to a severe talking-to and took away a stuffy.

And normal behavior when confronted with injustice has to be to confront it right back. Nothing weakens you like thinking you are powerless, and she will never be powerless. She can be whatever she wants, except that.

The older she gets, the more aware I am of the ways in which the world is designed to hurt her. When she was tiny and fragile, it was cold and sickness I feared. As she grew, it was sidewalks and slides and jungle gyms and anything else that would bruise or scrape her. Now, now that she walks with confidence and runs with joyous abandon and plays with curiosity and focus, I turn my attention to all the discouraging things people say.

The things people say when you’re a girl: “Get your shotgun, Dad.” All the things people say when you’re young.”The teenage years are going to be tough!”All the worries and the drags and the “oh, she’s not doing this yet?” I turn my attention to those things because the other day at dinner Mr. A and I were discussing something to do with her preschool and she turned to us and said, “Are you talking about me?”

We used to be able to have whole conversations, even arguments, about her without her ever catching on. Now she notices and she knows, and she says it right back.

A.

Newspapers Will Pay For Anything Besides Journalism

ANY. THING. 

Even as the Chicago Sun-Times clings to life as a metro daily news organ, the publication says it has launched a new digital marketing agency called Digital 312, with the shop’s name incorporating the primary Chicago telephone area code.

Launched with a staff of around 11 people, the plan is to harness the experience the newspaper itself has gained in transitioning to a digital first news organization and apply that to clients of the agency that are looking for marketing expertise in the digital arena.

When I look at the money that’s gotten pissed away by newspaper companies in the past two decades, I don’t see the influence of the Internet or Kids Today Not Reading Anymore or That Rat Bastard Craig and His Rat Bastard List or Steve Jobs’s special phones stealing our attention spans. I see stupidity and a willingness to spend too much, too late, on things that don’t matter.

There are approximately 11,000 agencies that will help clients buy advertising, digital and otherwise, in the Sun-Times. But if nobody’s reading the Sun-Times, and nobody’s picking up the Sun-Times, and nobody can fucking find the Sun-Times if they scour the city for it because they only distribute four copies to every other 7-Eleven lately, and even if you do find it there are two good stories and 20 pages of week-old city hall gossip billed as a MAJOR SCOOP MUST CREDIT, well, I don’t care how swank your new ad agency sounds. Nobody’s going to put their products in your (digital or physical) pages.

If your name means nothing because you’ve spent 20 years destroying it with one ill-advised but loudly announced initiative after another, from a bloated, heaving website littered with auto-generated ads to a “national news network” that now redirects to a bunch of repeating clickbait advertorials, lurching onto yet another thing instead of supporting the one good thing you have left (your city room) will not help you.

Has newspaper revenue declined precipitously with the rise of mobile/digital devices? Natch. But there was still plenty of money to spend, on everything from endless rebrandings and redesigns and new divisions to replicate what other companies already did. On just about everything except journalism.

A.

Don’t Change a Thing? Um. Change EVERYTHING

Jack Shafer hypothesizes that Trump, Spicer et al are not something new, which is … interesting: 

I don’t recall anybody calling for a boycott of Barack Obama or his myrmidons for his media scheming and for tipping the “balance of power between the White House and press … unmistakably toward the government,” as the Politico past-masters put it. The press mostly carried on, threading the thicket of treacheries as best it could. Governments always have and will always impede the press from doing their job, and they will use any means necessary. “All governments lie,” as journalist I.F. Stone once wrote, “but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out.” From my vantage, the Obama administration got Choom Gang stoned on their media pirouetting and the Trump administration seems to have come close to matching them in just a couple of days.

Okay, look. I get that reporters were just as guilty of tire-swinging with Obama as they were during the Bush administration, but Obama incited crowds to attack precisely nobody in the Washington press corps so maybe not so much with the Both Sides Do It when one of the sides is Trump.

As to Shafer’s point about tactics, however, we are agreed IN PART:

Boycotts and bans may fill a journalists’ heart with vengeance, or at least keep it from being bruised. But their maker designed reporters to be resilient, to take disparagement, derision, scorn, and sneering from lying government officials in stride. And for good reason. To quote from Jon Ronson once again, “It’s good for journalists to feel demeaned. It means we’re onto a story.” Rather than treat the Spicer, Trump, Conway ingenuities as an excuse to pout and leave the field, the experienced members of the press will be propelled by the weekend to pick up their mobiles and notebooks and go maximum Fahrenthold on the administration.

You can do what Fahrenthold did and refuse to sit there in the White House while they feed you lies. We hear lots and lots of talk about how there’s no money for journalism, so why pay someone to hang out in the dumbest, ugliest clubhouse there is? It’s not like the old days when that was the only way you got to speak to the president or his advisors. We have these telephone thingies now. I hear our current president is fond of broadcasting his thoughts on the internet.

Margaret Sullivan gets closer: 

Journalists shouldn’t rise to the bait and decide to treat Trump as an enemy. Recalling at all times that their mission is truth-telling and holding public officials accountable, they should dig in, paying far more attention to actions than to sensational tweets or briefing-room lies — while still being willing to call out falsehoods clearly when they happen.

Jay Rosen, too: 

When I say #sendtheinterns I mean it literally: take a bold decision to put your most junior people in the briefing room. Recognize that the real story is elsewhere, and most likely hidden. That’s why the experienced reporters need to be taken out of the White House, and put on other assignments.

All of these still spend a lot more time than I think is really healthy talking about what is good for the press, and not what serves readers/viewers. The whinging in response to Sullivan & Rosen’s commentary was epic, natch: But our access! Our traditions! Our routines and we HAVE TO book the president’s people, we HAVE TO call them for comment! Blah blah blah please don’t make me change my contact list.

And I get that certain formats have certain constraints. If you have a panel every Sunday then you need people for that panel. So … why have a panel, then? If a panel isn’t working for you, throw the panel out. Why do journalists perpetuate formats that require people like Kellyanne Conway (or some equivalently vacant and nominally Democratic creature like James Carville) to weigh in? Gosh, I wonder if the president’s advisors are going to defend his policies! I wonder if someone from “the other side,” on the rare days when genuine opposition is actually heard, will oppose them! I wonder if any news is being made here or anyone is being told anything they don’t already know!

Seriously, who is this supposed to be serving? Who is the audience here? Is it other journalists on Twitter? Is it congressmen and their staffers who watch this stuff religiously? Because nobody else is learning a single thing here.

A lot of professional press critics are coming around to the idea that they need to flip the script in terms of how they cover the White House. They should be coming around to the idea that they need to take a look at how they cover politics, and not just flip the script. They need to make a different movie.

A.

Thank You, Mr. Secretary, Senator, and in a better world Mr. President, too

I will never forget what the GOP did to this man. Never. 

Kerry stared hard at the man in the white ball cap standing before him, the river’s water reflecting off his sunglasses as he peppered Tam with questions and eagerly gobbled up details about a defining incident in his life. Tam told Kerry the Viet Cong could hear the Swift boats coming from 3,000 feet away, and he gently suggested the lumbering Americans never stood a chance.

“We were guerrillas,” he said. “We were never where you were shooting.”

“I’m glad we’re both alive,” Kerry told him as they shook hands, each putting two hands into the gesture.

I think I am sicker about Tillerson standing where Kerry stood than Trump occupying Obama’s office. Kerry was my president. And still is. 

A.

 

‘we’ll marry our fortunes together’

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We rounded the corner and looked down the street and the end of the block was lit up, shining through the canyon of the tall dark skyscrapers, an entrance to the world, the end of a long dark tunnel. The trains rumbled overhead, like a huge barrel rolling down a flight of metal stairs, over and over, around and around.

“Hold up your sign,” I told Kick, and she lifted the sign she had colored the day before, her almost-three-year-old finger-stubs making blue marker strokes and polka dots on a poster board that said, “Future President.”

People honked. People cheered. Mr. A lifted her up in his arms and she waved her sign at the office buildings around her, likely empty. “They can see it too!” she said.

We got to the Chicago Women’s March shortly after 9, and couldn’t get anywhere near the stage, or the park. Organizers had predicted 40,000 based on some Facebook RSVPs and I’d personally knocked that down to 20K, knowing how few Facebook activists actually show up to stuff. But the weather was beautiful, and people were righteously pissed off, and by the time all was said and done we had turned out 250,000 and I think Kick high-fived at least a third of them herself.

Favorite signs included A WOMAN’S PLACE IS IN THE REVOLUTION, I Can’t Believe I Still Have to Protest This Shit, and pretty much every iteration of “pussy” you can imagine. There was a giant papier-maché vagina parading around. Someone put a pink-eared hat on a cop. Everyone behaved themselves. It was daylight and we were on the fringes of the crowd.

Our sign, colored by a dear friend who came out to us last year after marriage equality was legalized in all 50 states, said “Love Wins.” A homeless guy started arguing with me about it and at first I thought he was a heckler.

“Love don’t win this time, baby.”

“Oh yes, it will.”

Mr. A stuck some change in his rattling Dunkin’ cup. The fellow shook his head.

“I’m not so sure. He’s a cheap, mean motherfucker.”

He is a cheap, mean motherfucker, our president. By the time we got back to our car, stashed in a side-street parking garage, the cheap, mean motherfucker had picked a fight over the size of his inauguration crowds and was whining about his bad press to the CIA. John Brennan, a man whose soul is a pile of rusty nails, went on the record saying he was grossed out by this scumbag. Trump’s first press briefing was a slow-motion demonstration of what happens to the body when you fall on your keys.

There was a certain amount of discussion in the days immediately preceding the marches that the marches were not good enough, and therefore not good at all, and therefore Look At Me I Am Better Than You People Marching. And I will yell all day long about a feminist-industrial complex that cares more about rich women working than all women eating. I have been yelling about that for years, like shut up with your TED talks, and it is exhausting. I will yell at you all day long about that still. Tomorrow.

Today, I will say this. The groups that spoke from platforms in DC and New York and LA and Chicago and a thousand other places were, by and large, those that have been fighting for the rights of working people for decades now. Turning your fire on them, or on anybody who just got woke, may feel virtuous in the moment but we need every ally we can get. Even the idiots who should have been on the job decades ago.

If all somebody did was wear a safety pin in the weeks after the Worst Election Ever, and that was more than they’d done the day before, telling them their safety pin was stupid is not going to make them better. If all somebody did was march on Saturday, telling them their marching was worthless doesn’t keep them in the street.

I am mad as hell that this many people sat out the protests against the Iraq War and sat out the 2004 election and hell, sat out the 2016 election for all I know, probably some of them. I am mad as hell they weren’t all calling their senators during the FISA debates the first time around.

I am mad as hell we don’t see this kind of action and reaction every election day, and I am mad in advance at the way this will be attacked, minimized, characterized as sore-loserdom, and tarred with the actions of whatever five “anarchist” assholes are at every single event that has nothing to do with them.

But I’m not going to waste my anger on the people in the streets with me today. The people who said, with their signs and their presence, that there are many of us and we are fighting back.

The people who told my daughter, “I’d vote for you!”

A.

 

The Media Myth of Powerlessness

Josh Marshall asks everyone to please grow up: 

It is vastly preferable to have a President who believes in or at least respects American and democratic values. But let’s get real: we don’t or won’t as of Friday. Trump is a would-be authoritarian and a bully. He’s surrounded by mediocrities who owe all to him and feel validated by enabling his endless transgressions. Of course, he’s doing these things. We know Trump’s MO. He will bully people until they’re cowed and humiliated and obedient. He’ll threaten to kick the reporters out of the White House and then either cut a ‘deal’ or make some big to-do about ‘allowing’ the reporters to stay. These are all threats and mind games meant not so much to cow the press as make them think Trump is continually taking things away from them and that they need to make him stop.

They don’t need to. That access isn’t necessary to do their jobs. And bargaining over baubles of access which are of little consequence is not compatible with doing their job. Access can provide insight and understanding. But it’s almost never where the good stuff comes from. Journalists unearth factual information and report it. If Trump wants to turn America into strong man state, journalists should cover that story rather than begging Trump not to be who he is.

Emphasis mine, because that’s been the undercurrent of all the coverage since the convention, and before that it was the undercurrent of all the coverage OF ALL THE OTHER REPUBLICAN CANDIDATES.

Like if only Ted Cruz was not a widely loathed and ineffective legislator, and seemed less like a bug in a skin suit, he’d be a great standard-bearer for the party!

If only Ben Carson was not so damn not-smart, and could learn what the debt ceiling was and stop lying about his own autobiography, he’d be the perfect candidate!

If only Marco Rubio was not 12 years old and perpetually acting like he crammed for the test in the limo on the way over here, he’d be our savior!

And if Trump, Donald Trump who was nominated and elected for being exactly what he was, was not what he was, but was instead something else, then we could all go back to doing chitter-chat in the hallways about who did a gaffe and whatever else we are supposed to care about on the morning shows about politics.

I swear political bias annoys me not a fraction as much as the bias toward the Way Things Are Done. I grew up listening to Sally Quinn and David Broder bitching all around Dupont Circle that the Clintons were trailer trash who didn’t care about using the fish forks properly, and dove headlong into eight years of George W. Bush literally sanctioning a torture regime because he used the right words unlike hippies, after which followed almost a decade of Obama Cannot Appear Uppity, so you’ll pardon me if I don’t join the White House Correspondents Association on the barricades over where their bathrooms are going to be.

Far be it from me to defend Donald Trump, but if the man has a use it is in exposing exactly how little of what we say is important actually is. It is not an assault on the First Amendment if Trump is mean to a reporter or refuses to give properly timed press conferences or switches seats around so Breitbart and Cat Fancy can be right up in front where Helen Thomas used to sit. It’s rude and dumb, but it’s not a Constitutional crisis.

It is not an assault on the First Amendment to say reporters don’t get desks in the White House anymore. It is, at most, an assault on the location of office furniture.

You know what IS an assault on the First Amendment? This fucking Muslim registry Trump and his idiot sons of whores keep talking about, on which reporters are free to report even if they have to do it from the Starbucks down the street. 

So instead of wishing Trump wasn’t so much like Trump, and was instead like a nice president who gave them cookies while he undermined and mocked them, instead of wishing Republicans were not Republicans but were instead something else, why not sack the hell up and act like the guardians of freedom and democracy you’re demanding we call you. Stop pretending to be powerless. It’s playing small, and it doesn’t suit the ideals in which you want to cloak yourselves.

A.

Get Out of the Office

Conventional wisdom:

 

Yeah. And. So. What? I swear, between Trump’s press conference shitshow last week and the high dudgeon over Trump’s spokesman saying maybe we won’t even GIVE you nice desks in the White House anymore, American journalism is having the biggest freakouts over the stupidest things.

Three-decade assault on the press, co-opting entire news networks to debate for days exactly how much they suck? YAWN. Move my mug of very special pens? AUX ARMES, AUX BARRICADES!

Of COURSE Trump beating on the press will make Trump’s voters happy. They voted for him because they wanted him to do stuff like that. They wanted him to make big, dumb, loud fart noises in the direction of everything that bugs them. But I don’t understand why the press should worry if Trump’s voters hate them.

They’re not running for office. They don’t get elected. Their jobs are not determined by anyone but them. It’s not a fucking beauty contest. If they know they are in the right — and they are, most of them, except those Breitbart tools — then Trump can hoot and holler and move their desks into the Potomac and the only thing that matters at the end of the day is if as much information as possible got to as many people as possible.

That’s it. That’s the job. And if you tell me you need a comfy chair to do it in, or a daily petting from a press secretary, I will direct you to half a hundred hungry people who will gladly shove your ass to the curb so that they can do the job from wherever they have to do it to get it done. Trump’s voters aren’t happy with you? His press secretary’s being mean? Well, why don’t you raise a big bitchfest on Twitter about it! That will surely not make you look dumb in any way.

Schmucks.

A.

What You’re Called

I don’t have a nickname. I mean, I have things not my formal name that people call me, ranging from “hey, when am I gonna get that thing you said you’d get me” to “Mama,” but I don’t have a shortened version of my name. Maybe because my parents didn’t give me one, so I grew up using my full name always, and s0 when I was old enough to notice, I didn’t want one.

Mr. A, when we were dating, called me “Allie” once. Once. I told him I didn’t like it, and he stopped.

That’s what I always come back to whenever the OMG POLITICAL CORRECTNESS IS RUINING MY ABILITY TO USE THE WORLD debate starts up again. (Don’t throw the Campus Wymyn’s Center in my face. There are like six of those people, and unlike half of Congress they hurt nobody.) It’s about determining what you want to be called. We ask it a hundred times a day: What’s your name? We abide by what we’re told.

If I don’t want to be called something, and I tell you that, why do you continue to say it? If I say, I prefer you address me as X, why do you say Y? To save yourself the embarrassment of learning? Is your saving face worth more than my name?

To bully? To be mean? I keep reading these stories in which middle class white women who voted for Trump talk about how all the race talk they’ve been hearing makes them uncomfortable and discomfort is the WORST SIN OF ALL TIME and why can’t people just put up and shut up again, now, forever.

Do they not understand how rude they’re being, not calling someone by their name? They’d correct you if you called them Miss and they were married. But correct them that you’re African-American instead of black, Asian instead of Oriental, and suddenly you’re trampling their right to whatever … and I know it’s tiresome taking that argument apart but these are the same types of women who raised you and me to never be rude. Could it possibly be persuasive to talk in terms of politeness? Is that something we might still all understand?

It’s rude not to call someone by their name.

What is your name? Did you choose it? Could you choose it? Has anyone ever tried to call you anything else?

A.

Friday Ferretblogging: Shelter Edition

I have a few Fridays off coming up, and I’m spending the mornings at the ferret shelter, so you know what that means? YOU GET SOME STUFFIES:

shelterferrets

A.

Overcoming

Can we please get together some kind of summit for journalists that is just WHAT ARE WORDS and HOW DO WE FUNCTION THEM?

Things that could have been said instead of “overcoming,” in no particular order:

Breaking (most accurate would be “in an attempt to break”).

Circumventing (still garbage, but factual).

Defying.

Challenging (milquetoasty enough for mainstream pubs which hate definitive language).

SINCE APPARENTLY NOBODY’S HEARD OF.

Violating.

Attempting to violate.

Ignoring.

Flouting.

A.