Category Archives: Athenae

Lookit What You Did!

Thanks to your generosity, First Drafters, you paid for Christmas gifts for 85 KIDS. The money you raised for the St. Hyacinth Food Pantry bought gift cards, toys, games, mittens and other necessary stuff for the children whose parents shop there each month.

I’m heading up tomorrow to help them sort through some more donated things, but this is the nicest part: They’ll all get something new and nice for the holidays, thanks to you!

They’ll be able to go get a snack or a treat or something frivolous with their friends without having to worry about it for once. That kind of freedom is delicious when you don’t always have it.

You rock, all y’all.

A.

Big Gavel Energy

I’m not one for body language analysis when the shit that comes out of Trump’s mouth-anus is so horrific but honestly, the way he turns away from Nancy while she’s talking and looks at Chuck like, “women, amirite?” should be in some kind of Man-seum.

At this point not only am I okay with keeping Nancy “Big Dig Energy” Pelosi as leader, I will not rest until she is QUEEN. To sit there calmly while President Fucknut waves his hand at her to literally dismiss her, spews nonsense about a border wall, and says “I’m proud to shut down the government” like he’s not making campaign ads for his 2020 opponent until the end of time … well, that’s restraint I don’t have.

Everything about this is an illustration of a competent woman in a business meeting with an idiot man and his idiot enablers (Chuckles included, for not decking his ass) but it’s also, you know, THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES telling the incoming Speaker of the House that she sucks, which is not how anything should work.

A.

Clinton (Consultant) Needs to Go Away

For all the talk about how Hillary and Bill need to exit the stage, I think the real cancer on our politics is everyone they employed. Shut UP, Rahm: 

“I don’t think you can make it to the Oval Office without being a good politician. And whatever you want to say-and I am in violent disagreement with this president-he was a better politician than Hillary.”

He’s also a fascist but let’s respect his SKILLZ, right?

Shut UP, Carville: 

James Carville said the Democrats will not have a wave election in the 8pm hour of MSNBC’s election night coverage. He said there is still a good chance that Democrats win the House but some races will be nail-biters.

40 seats, you lizard-headed asshole.

Shut UP, Begala: 

“It is really impressive, the money and the operation that the Trump folks are putting together,” said Paul Begala, a Democratic strategist. As soon as the midterm election is over, he said, Democrats “had better get about the business of re-arming for the next battle.”

I’M GLAD YOU’RE HERE TO TELL US THESE THINGS NOBODY EVER WOULD HAVE THOUGHT OF OTHERWISE.

Shut UP, Snuffleupagus: 

STEPHANOPOULOS: 2020 jockeying has already begun. And we talk to two contenders from the Buckeye state, Republican Governor John Kasich and Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown.

We’ll break down the politics, smoke out the spin. The facts that matter this week.

The smoke! The fire! The toasted marshmallows!

And STFU forever and ever and ever, Mark Penn & Andrew Stein: 

Penn, a frequent contributor to The Hill, co-wrote a Sunday op-ed for The Wall Street Journal with Andrew Stein, a former Democratic Manhattan borough president and president of the New York City Council.

“True to her name, Mrs. Clinton will fight this out until the last dog dies,” the pair wrote. “She won’t let a little thing like two stunning defeats stand in the way of her claim to the White House.”

You know, I don’t care one way or another if Hillary wants to run again (yes, or Bernie, god you’re all exhausting), but I do wish the people who won two elections on her husband’s back and have been dining out on it ever since would GO TAKE UP KNITTING.

A.

Tuesday Catblogging

I don’t know if it’s the weather or what but all I wanna do is lay on the floor by the fake fire with the real furballs and nap like they do, occasionally waking up to say BISH PLEASE:

A.

The GOP, in Wisconsin and Elsewhere, is Anti-Democracy

This is by design: 

The bill includes plans to lower voter turnout by adding a third statewide election in the spring of 2020, even though it will cost taxpayers millions of additional dollars and local election officials have come out strongly against it. They want to make it harder to vote early, which will cost taxpayers millions more in legal costs. They want to take control of state economic development away from the governor’s office. They want to replace the elected attorney general with private attorneys hired by the legislative branch at additional expense to taxpayers.

Is this democracy at work?

I mean, technically, yeah, in that they only have the power they have because we gave it to them. Look, for the last two years we’ve had lots of conversations about norms versus laws, about what we really consider important in government versus what is actually required. Half the shit the Trump crime family does is not illegal (like ghost the sexist shitshow that is the White House Christmas decoration reveal party, Melania, that thing sounds like hell on earth) but we act like our imaginary expectations are supposed to carry weight.

We shouldn’t run a country based on everybody being sensible and having manners. That’s not how anything should function. If you tell me that I am required to do X and Y, and in your own head you expect me to do Z, you can’t throw me in jail for not doing Z if only X and Y are mandatory.

Republicans in Wisconsin CAN do this. Should they? Shit no. But we’re well past trusting motherfuckers not to fuck mothers. If we want them to keep their dicks to themselves we have to strap on political chastity belts.

This editorial starts strong and then gets real, real stupid:

Remember in 2015 when these same three politicians – Vos, Fitzgerald and Walker – tried to gut the state’s open records law before the Fourth of July holiday?  They sneaked it into a budget bill, hoping no one would notice on the holiday weekend.

Wait, you mean to tell us, newspaper that FUCKIN ENDORSED THOSE POLITICIANS, that they turned out to be scumsucking suckers of scum? You mean they did this before? Why, it’s almost like this is WHAT THEY DO. I do declare, Miss Scarlett. See also gambling, shocked, and this establishment.

The modern GOP is designed to pursue power and subvert voting. Especially in Wisconsin. I pay attention to this shit as my side hustle and I’ve noticed that it’s not some kind of weird accident that these people are authoritarian tailpipe tumors who keep pulling underhanded crap. How can people who make a living being knowledgeable knowers of knowledge not pick this up?

We haven’t mentioned political party because this isn’t about party platforms – that’s what elections should be about.

This is about keeping the citizens in charge of their government.

It doesn’t matter which party is coming in and going out of office — we would say the exact same thing. In fact, we would shout it — just as we are now.

ARGHGGHHHH I mean name for me please the equivalent Democratic subversion of power that has occurred, that would warrant this sort of imaginary both-siderism. “We haven’t mentioned political party” so definitely please don’t call us the enemy of the people or get mad at us! Pretty please!

I give up.

A.

Go Tell That Midnight Rider

Don’t like the election results? Neuter them: 

The lame duck legislation would, for example, prevent Mr. Evers from fulfilling a campaign promise to take Wisconsin out of a multistate lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act. It will also diminish the governor’s control over the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, a scandal-ridden public-private agency created by Mr. Walker to foster job creation, by giving the legislature an equal number of appointees to the board as the governor and revoking the governor’s power to appoint the board’s chief executive.

In 2011 the country ignored what was happening in Wisconsin, as a gerrymandered minority-majority rode white resentment to power.

We all know what happened next.

Don’t look away this time.

A.

Sunday Night Catblogging

Who’s the prettiest baby kitty baby kitty? Who is? Who’s the sweetest fattest beast in all the land?

A.

On Judging The Dead

Maybe it’s the Catholic in me. Maybe it’s being raised in a world perpetually on the brink of nuclear warfare, as most of my generation were, or being raised by people who were raised by people who grew up during the Depression, when everything you have can be gone in an instant.

Maybe it’s the small-d depression, taking all the ugliness of the world and swallowing it whole and letting it sit in my stomach like a marble.

Maybe it’s all of those things together, but when I die I fully expect to be judged by the worst things I’ve done, not the best.

This isn’t a contest. You don’t tally everything up and decide that the book I edited for the WWII veteran and the bread I baked for the refugees next door make up for the friend I hurt by calling them out in public, or the times I yelled at my kid, or the way I detonated a relationship on purpose. I can give all the change in my pockets to the homeless. It doesn’t somehow cancel out the things I said to my parents when we were fighting.

I have fucked up aspects of my life flatter than hammered shit and I don’t expect forgiveness for any of it. I don’t expect the good things to balance the bad things out. I’m not okay with anything I did to anyone — forgiving yourself gets used too often as a way to avoid just not sucking, far as I’m concerned — but I am completely, entirely, 100 percent okay with being judged by it.

We do this thing where we don’t want people to be complicated. We all do it, personally, in our own lives, making our great-uncle out to be some kind of saint when we have no idea how he treats his wife behind closed doors, making it impossible to mourn honestly the entirety of someone’s life once they’re gone. What if your asshole relative was a war hero and there are statues in his honor? Where do you put your grief then, when people are throwing him a parade?

Those complications are confounded a thousand times when it’s a national leader we’re mourning. Those people should be judged by the trail of the dead they left in their wake. Obama should be judged by the children of Yemen and Pakistan. It’s not rude or anything to say that the smoking road to Baghdad is George H.W. Bush’s legacy, as are the dead of AIDS who couldn’t wait for the GOP to pivot to basic humanity and curing diseases.

Bringing those things up inevitably brings the defense of “oh yeah, would you like to be judged by the worst things you did?” So let’s answer that: yeah. I’d be okay with that. It seems fair to say she rescued two cats but Christ, she was a dick to people a lot of the time. Any idiot can have a high point.

How low was your low, though? That’s the question should be asked, you show up at the gates of Heaven or Hell.

A.

Blame The Right People for Media Failures

The “business model” wasn’t the problem here, has never been the problem, stop this bullshit copypasta from every story about every media company failure: 

Mic raised more than $60 million to build a millennial-focused news company but couldn’t find a business model to support its costs, which include a one-floor office in Manhattan’s World Trade Center (an earlier version of this story incorrectly reported the size of Mic’s office).

If these people were running a baked potato stand, and spent all their money on glitter glue instead, nobody would be interrogating the viability of the baked potato sales model. They’d be like WHY DID YOU BLOW ALL YOUR CASH ON GLITTER GLUE YOU FUCKING MORONS? Just SELL GOOD POTATOES!

Sell enough potatoes to pay for the potatoes and the equipment and people to bake them. God, quit overcomplicating shit and then whining about how complicated it all is.

I mean what a load of horseshit:

“What you hear less about the truth is that it is expensive. Our business models are unsettled and the macro forces at play are all going through their own states of unrest.”

The truth isn’t expensive. Real estate and prezzies are expensive, and you decided you’d rather spend money on that than on doing good work and retaining your people and building your company. I HATE when people talk about preventable catastrophes like they’re natural disasters. Your house burned down, yeah, but you set the fucking fire.

You relied on Facebook — Facebook, in the year of our Lord Jesus Delano Roosevelt, 2018 — for revenue from videos — VIDEOS — and when that went tits-up you had no backup plan. Any ten people on the street could have told you that relying on third-party companies to give you the traffic you’d otherwise have to build like grown-ups was a long wait for a train don’t come and a shitty risk besides, but no, you pivoted like hell until you drilled a hole and fell in it.

A.

Fox Gonna Fox

They were never a news organization: 

In one instance, according to emails revealed in a Freedom of Information Act request submitted by the Sierra Club and reviewed by The Daily Beast, Pruitt’s team even approved part of the show’s script.

Fox & Friends has long been a friendly venue for Trump and his allies, but the emails demonstrate how the show has pushed standard cable-news practices to the extreme in order to make interviews a comfortable, non-confrontational experience for favored government officials.

And as long as we’re here, stop referring to Fox News as “state TV.” If they were “state TV” they’d have rolled over when Obama patted their bellies. They’re the GOP, through and through, always have been, and the only people this wasn’t obvious to on day one were their fellow journalists.

AKA the people who get paid to suss out bullshit and name it for what it is.

Those people demanded Fox receive entry into the hallowed press fraternity and derided as “liberally biased” anyone who said hey, this is a network full of crap at all times. They’re still covering for Fox, as is everyone who pretends Shep Smith is some kind of hero for occasionally talking sense while still cashing Murdoch’s slimy checks.

We were always heading toward the most dishonest of the warbloggers getting White House press credentials in a BRAWNDO administration once Fox stuck its nose in the henhouse.

A.

Just Do Journalism Well, Journalists

It’s almost like it’s better when you run your paper like you want to run a paper: 

“Our overall revenue is more than triple what it was three years ago,” says Les Zaitz, the paper’s editor and publisher. “Circulation is probably double. We’re profitable, and there are not a lot of papers in the United States that can say they’re profitable.”

Things this paper is not doing:

Running an events company

Running a baseball team

Running a TV station

Running a hedge fund

Running a money-laundering operation

Running a religion

Running a political party

Jesus Christ, it isn’t that complicated. This paper is finding out what is happening and telling as many people as possible in the most efficient manner it has found, without regard for whatever trends are being farted out at the Silicon Valley Innovation Festival.

Instead of flailing from the hyperlocal to the paywall to the longform to the DIGITAL FIRST PARADIGM PIVOT SHIFT, this paper is … being a good paper. 

Which people will pay for, and advertisers will advertise in.

Schroder loads her white Dodge Ram pickup full of papers and rolls onto the streets of Vale. The tiny eastern Oregon town, population 1,900, is where the Enterprise is headquartered. Her stops include the county courthouse, a nursing home, a flower shop. The pickup crammed with papers is an upgrade from when she started doing this more than 20 years ago.

“That’s when I had a grocery cart and I delivered papers with my grocery cart full of papers,” Schroder says. “People called me ‘Bag Lady,’ ” she says with a laugh.

Now, using a grocery cart would be tough. On her Wednesday rounds, Schroder logs about 100 miles, traveling throughout Malheur County, Oregon’s second largest.

Her expanded delivery zone is one of the effects of a newspaper that has boomed in the past three years.

You mean if you PUT A THING WHERE PEOPLE CAN FIND IT, and deliver it when you say you’re going to deliver it, people will perceive that AS GOOD?

Someone stop the presses.

A.

The Last Gasps

This woman: 

The 2007 resolution wasn’t the only legislation Hyde-Smith backed that would elevate Mississippi’s Confederate history. The Washington Post reported that in 2001, Hyde-Smith introduced a bill as a state senator to rename a stretch of highway to what it had been called in the 1930s: the Jefferson Davis Memorial Highway, after the president of the Confederacy.

And in photos posted to her Facebook account in 2014, Hyde-Smith was pictured posing with Confederate artifacts during a visit to Beauvoir, the home and library of Davis. The caption on the post read, “Mississippi history at its best!”

Not long after Trump’s election someone described his campaign as the Going Out of Business Sale for White Baby Boomers and, with the exception of the Freedom Riders, yeah, pretty much. This angry old bat is a Type. I know ten of her, they all go to church every Sunday and while they’d never refuse to shake a black person’s hand they have no qualms about saying things that come straight out of Jesse Helms’ mouth when they’re amongst their own.

Jesse Helms was in recent memory. As were Strom Thurmond, Trent Lott, Tom DeLay, and Barbara Bush saying Katrina victims made out like bandits after the hurricane because they were poor anyway. They’re not leaving us fast enough to change at the pace we need. There are people are living, who screamed at children going to school because they were black children. They still write letters to the newspaper about “welfare” and “busing” and would tell you their neighborhood was fine until “those people” “ruined” it. They still vote.

This rictus-grinning standard-bearer for white American power has gotta be the last one we’ve gotta fight, right? Every year of the past 20 I’ve hoped it’s the last time we have to have an election about the 1970s but every year it’s become more clear that the elections of the 1970s were about the 1870s and if we’re not over THAT, the Earth will collapse into the sun before we get over Vietnam.

Can the store just go out of business already? They’re down to the screws that held the fixtures on the walls. Pretty soon they’ll be selling off the linoleum. Can we please just lock the doors and board it up and walk away?

A.

Another Newspaper’s Genius Business Model

Let’s make the product suck, and then when readers notice, use their noticing to continue to suck harder: 

Meanwhile the paper’s corporate owner, Gannett, is pushing toward print oblivion. Gannett “is throwing the digital switch,” as a story by Ken Doctor for Nieman Lab reported, pushing print readers to switch to the online version of Gannett’s papers. In time for the November 6 election and “across its 109 local markets,” readers were directed “to head to its digital sites for results, “to embrace real-time media for real-time news.”

“When long-time readers of the Des Moines RegisterMilwaukee Journal Sentinel, or Fort Myers News-Press open up their papers” on Wednesday, the day after the election, “they’ll see hardly anything in the way of results,” story predicted. “Even on Thursday, when nearly all vote totals should be in, don’t expect to see newsprint used when cheaper pixels can do the job; the complete election results will be online, Amalie Nash, executive editor for local news at Gannett’s USA Today Network, told me.”

I’ve been saying this for years, but UNLESS YOUR DISTRIBUTION GUYS ARE UPDATING YOUR WEBSITE THERE IS NO REASON WHY YOU HAVE TO GUT PRINT TO DO GOOD DIGITAL. Jesus Christ, I will never understand why in the past 20 years we’ve taken “here is this thing some people like, let’s blow it up in favor of doing this other thing some people like” as some kind of strategy.

(Don’t throw finite resources in my face. When there’s a consultant to pay or a sexually harassative exec to throw out the back door, the millions suddenly appear. There’s enough money in journalism to pay Megyn Kelly to get fired, there’s enough to put papers on porches in Wauwatosa.)

Even that, though, would be a cut above what most newspapers have done, which is to do BOTH print and digital badly. It’s not that they’re abandoning print to do digital well. It’s that they’re abandoning print to half-ass digital, put it all behind a paywall, pivot to video, and fire all the fucking photographers. They’re abandoning print to slap mattress store ads on the front page of their website which, when it does actually load, won’t let you log in as a subscriber without viewing ten more ads first about how you need to subscribe.

They haven’t done ANY of it well. I could forgive newspapers not knowing how to do the internet if they knew how to do newspapers. But it’s been 20 years and the same seven syndicated columnists are making the same seven figures each to say the same worn-out shit about politics or Kids Today or whatever Mitch Albom is bitching about now.

The only things that have been cut from the print edition are news stories, which is WHAT PEOPLE PAID YOU FOR IN THE FIRST FUCKING PLACE.

“With more copy editing and page layout handled by chains’ centralized hubs, and with more newspapers relying on shared or outsourced printing facilities, the days of getting evening stories into the print paper are already gone in many markets,” Doctor writes. 

“‘We have a 7 p.m. close in most of our markets,’ Nash told me. If you’ve ever wondered why today’s print newspaper headlines often reflect news that feels days old, that’s why.”

That would explain why the Sunday Journal Sentinel lacks most of Saturday’s college football scores: “any night game is simply listed as late game with no score, eviscerating the drama of the top 25 results,” as I’ve written. “Even home teams get short shrift: Late Bucks or Brewers games are no longer covered to the end of the game in the next day’s paper.”

They keep turning out lights and using people’s hatred of the dark as an excuse to snuff out candles.

A.

The Ability To Weather Small Disasters

This idiot:

And look. Let’s just stipulate that yes, there are choices you can make that will lead to you being poor. But the gulf between rich and poor isn’t who made bad choices and who didn’t, it’s who GOT to make bad choices and who didn’t.

Like you, Stephen Meeks, the human embodiment of a Polo shirt. You got to crash Daddy’s Lamborghini, or impregnate the maid, or puke into the potted palms at the country club, and none of it destroyed your life. You could pay for car repairs, abortions, and lawyers. You didn’t have to worry about taking out a loan because you had to have a bottle of Drakkar Noir laparoscopically removed from your colon and the hospital bill was in the zillions.

You could make stupid mistakes, and you had the ability to recover from them.

Whereas if your car was totaled on the freeway by no fault of your own, and you couldn’t get to work because you couldn’t pay to fix it, and you got fired, you’d be out on the street in six months.

If the woman you knocked up refused to get an abortion, and you married her and had the baby, and you burned through your savings paying for the birth, you’d have to max out your credit cards to pay for diapers. Good luck buying a home for you and that baby with the credit you’d have after that.

If you got drunk, and behaved badly, or got arrested, which is something rich people do ALL THE GODDAMN TIME, and you couldn’t afford a decent lawyer, you’d sit behind bars until you could make bail, and then if you got lucky you’d wind up on probation, your name on the internet forever as the dumbass who barfed in the bromeliads, and you wouldn’t get hired at McDonald’s.

Everybody makes mistakes. Everybody makes terrible choices. Not only that: Everybody gets smacked in the face by life every once in a while. Forget the examples above: What if you just, you know, got a rare form of cancer and then had to switch insurance companies? What if someone stole from you? What if your house burned down? What if you weren’t the family breadwinner, and that breadwinner died and left you nothing?

A part of me envies these people that don’t have to think about all the times they could be bankrupted or otherwise poleaxed by the universe. It is ALL I think about (and I have no real problems financial or otherwise); my contingency plans have contingency plans. I have seen firsthand people’s lives go from charmed to chainsawed and all it takes is hitting one giant pothole, self-inflicted or otherwise.

You shouldn’t get to live a decent upright life only if you never make a mistake or never have a misfortune. “I did everything right” is a delusion, and it shouldn’t be a goal. You should be able to make ordinary fuckups, take a few wrong turns here and there, and still be able to claw your way back without destroying everything. Inherent in building a society is building one that understands the people living in it aren’t perfect, and builds in options to help them recover, rebuild, and go on.

A.

DO SOMETHING Merry Edition

UPDATE WE DID IT HOLY CRAP GUYS! $750 raised for the St. Hyacinth Food Pantry!

You did it again! So many kids are going to have a wonderful holiday because of you all. Our Internet is the best Internet.

OH HAI remember the food pantry we raised money for after the 2016 election? Remember how many families you helped to feed? IT WAS 300 FAMILIES.

The pantry’s been working hard and serving even more families in the past 2 years, and now they have a new project.

Every year at the holidays they put together a bunch of gift packages for the kids who come through, and these are often the only presents these kids get. Toys and books get donated all year round for the little ones, but the pantry would like to buy gift cards for the older kids, though, so they can go to a coffee shop or see a movie or get a treat without having to worry about paying for it.

I said I thought the Internet could help with that.

They need $750 to get a gift card for every kid. Can we do that in a week?

Hit up the Paypal link, and I’ll cover the fees, and let’s make a bunch of tweens and teenagers happy this Christmas. 

(And if you have gift cards to donate, or can get some from your workplace or whatevs, I can provide you with an e-mail address to send those, so let me know in the comments!)

A.

Appearing To

For God’s sake describing things that occur are YOUR WHOLE ENTIRE JOB, LESTER:

Emphasis mine. I get that they are using this evasive weasel language to avoid being wrong, but a) that is not actually the worst thing ever on earth and b) WHAT OTHER POSSIBLE EXPLANATION IS THERE FOR THAT? What other “gesture” looks like that? This isn’t ambiguous, especially since the parents aren’t especially denying it and the kids are all “oh yeah, well what about the one black guy that did it, huh?” and the school administration is apparently saying forget the Nazis and think about how many cops Black Lives Matter has put into industrial ovens.

At a certain point you call something what it is. We see this all the time with videos that wind up on the news: “the video appeared to show …” YOU’RE LITERALLY WATCHING THE VIDEO. And if you haven’t verified it/can’t verify it, don’t put it on the air. The photo is of young white or white-passing kids doing the Hitler salute like it’s a joke, and that’s all this is. You want to make it evadable, okay, but understand that the people you’re helping to evade are Nazis.

This isn’t hard, but damned if we don’t make it sound like it is with the evasions and the bet-hedging and all the other things we think will make people Not Mad because that’s also something we think is a good goal. How on earth are we supposed to deal with things when we’re told that what we’re seeing isn’t quite there?

A.

Sunday Catblogging

The things Slade puts up with, honestly:

A.

The Silence of the Guns

When a great burden is lifted, the relief is not always felt at once. The galled places still ache. The sense of weight persists. And so with Paris. Not at once did the city rejoice openly. It prayed first, and then it counted the sore spots, and they were many. And it was dazed, too. There had been no time to discount peace in advance.

The streets filled at once, but at first it was with a chastened people. Audrey herself felt numb and unreal. She moved mechanically with the shifting crowd, looking overhead as a captured German plane flew by, trying to comprehend the incomprehensible. But by mid-day the sober note of the crowds had risen to a higher pitch. A file of American doughboys, led by a corporal with a tin trumpet and officered by a sergeant with an enormous American cigar, goose-stepped down the Avenue de l’Opera, gaining recruits at every step. It snake-danced madly through the crowd, singing that one lyric stand-by of Young America: “Hail! hail! the gang’s all here!”

But the gang was not all there, and they knew it. Some of them lay in the Argonne, or at Chateau-Thierry, and for them peace had come too late.

— Mary Roberts Rinehart, Dangerous Days 

A hundred years, a lifetime, and just a moment ago:

And of course our president screwed it up, and can’t comprehend, because he wasn’t elected to be a world leader, and there’s nothing about honoring the dead of a long-ago war that involves yelling about locking up Hillary, so he’s not into it.

Then again, the U.S. was late to this war and has never been able to reckon with its impact on countries still tilling fields full of iron, unexploded ordnance everywhere you look. What if this was your grandfather, your great-grandfather, his friends? 

What might they pass down to you, from that, if they lived? What might the place where they were born pass down to you, if you stayed there? Not a man in that town older than 16 or younger than 60, what would that mean, a century on? There is still barbed wire in Verdun. The people are dust and ashes and the bombs are still killing.

Trump can’t comprehend but be fair, we can’t either. Things that happened in my lifetime are treated like fairytales. The people who came back from the Somme lived to see Hitler and some of the people who saw Hitler have lived to see Nazism again.

This was all just a moment ago. We remember these things not to feel bad about ourselves or bum our kids out or even to stoke patriotic fires. We remember the last war so we can survive the next one, because the guns are never silent, not for long. And the faster we forget how they sounded, the more eager we are to fire them again.

A.

You Can Run On For a Long Time

I thought of Sue and Kim this morning: 

They were standing by a lamp post, this middle-aged couple. They could have been my parents, in another life. They could have been yours.

Sue and Kim. He retired after 33 years working for the state. She still worked for the state, on a temporary contract that kept getting extended. They’d had pay freezes for half a dozen years, when they didn’t have pay cuts. They weren’t getting wealthy on their pensions. They weren’t sporting $60 haircuts. They lived in a small town. They were trying to hold on to what they had.

Behind them, around Madison’s beautiful Capitol, people walked with kids and dogs, and cops watched from their bikes and horses. A man in a Badger costume danced on the steps. A man with an accordion played.

“This is where we were 18 months ago when the protests began,” Kim said. “We thought we would finish where we started.”

I hope they were there last night. I hope they stayed up til morning. I hope they saw the moment they were looking for all those years ago.

There were a lot of things I wanted to happen last night that did — get ready for subpeonas, you dogfaced tangerine fascist — and lots that didn’t — Ted Cruz is still in Congress which seems insane to me. But mostly what I wanted was a win for all the thousands of people who stood at the Capitol building in 2011, in the dark in the rain in the snow in the cold, against impossible odds, against the certainty of loss, facing the whole apparatus of power and holding back defeat with drums and songs and kindness and hope.

It’s hard to describe if you didn’t see it. I know seven years is a lifetime ago. But I’m German Roman Catholic and I grew up in Wisconsin with people who were raised in the shadow of the Great Depression. When we want to hold a grudge, we make it a story and we teach it to our children and our children’s children, and until the day I die I will be telling you about the roar.

The Capitol in Madison is made of marble, with a rotunda three floors deep. Thousands strong, and it echoed, like the hammer in a forge, pounding, the kind of sound that rattles your ribs and rises in your throat.

At first it was just the teachers. Then the steelworkers. Then the firefighters. Then the ironworkers and the police officers and the corrections workers, the prison guards came not to make sure the doors were locked but to throw them open. Everyone came. Old women with walkers. Mothers with small children. Everyone, and the sound never stopped, not even in the middle of the night, rumbling down from the basement rising up to the rafters, and it seemed impossible that it would ever fall silent.

It did. The bills to gut worker protection and punish teachers passed. The recall failed. Another attempt to unseat him failed. Scott Walker had his way with the University of Wisconsin and gave away the store to Foxconn and presided over unprecedented racism as the state went for Trump with a vengeance.

If you had told me six months ago that last night was possible I’d have called you a liar. But I’d have forgotten the roar. Seven years is a lifetime but last night, as the vote totals flipped back and forth, it was all I could hear.

I hope Sue and Kim heard it. I hope they and the thousands of others who stood up all those years ago heard it and raised their voices and, in the predawn hours of a victory so long in coming, sang along.

A.

Go Tell That Long Tongue Liar

I voted last week, voted early, to get it out of the way and not have to worry about getting up early or staying out late. I’m coming to the end of a serious hell-period at work and Mr. A is leaving tonight for a week overseas, and the time change is fucking with Kick’s sleep in a way it never has before, and it didn’t seem sensible to leave this to chance.

I didn’t expect it to make me feel like a superhero or anything. I’ve been in the streets every other weekend, family beside me, against misogyny and family separation and the general garbage fire of the world. We are not un-engaged right now. Kick insisted we bake cookies for the volunteers at the local Dem organizing office, insisted her father deliver them.

I didn’t expect voting to make me feel like a superhero; these small things don’t feel like enough. A friend might have to leave the country. Another found swastikas spray-painted in the park where his children play. The synagogue in Pittsburgh, a friend’s father prays there. This is about faces I see every day. Faces I want to continue to see.

My new OB-GYN mentioned to me that if I wanted to get an IUD I should do it soon. While they were still easy to obtain. We both thought about Mike Pence, and shuddered.

To so many people quoted in these Trump supporter stories, the rage seems so abstract: They think someone somewhere is getting something free and they don’t like that. The caravan is miles away. Football players are kneeling, but only on TV. Their taxes have gone up but they can’t tell you by how much. They’ve heard things, think they’re at risk, like the people in Chicago suburbia scared shitless after 9/11: there is no danger here at all.

The small things I can do — vote, donate, take my kid to rallies, write letters, write posts — don’t seem like enough. But I have to believe, as we all hold our breath today and think and wish and work and love, that we are building muscles we can use for years to come.

I went looking for this video this morning, from the 2011 protests in Wisconsin against Scott Walker and Act 10.

I remember all the carping after we lost the recall election and lost the election against Walker again, all the worry that “we” had done this wrong, had talked too loud, run this person or that person and that’s why we lost. We should have had better ways to do this then, and it’s impossible to say that’s wrong. But it’s also possible to say that our rage today is built on those bones.

That loss, those losses, felt like dying, and we said at the time, pay attention, this is what’s coming for all of you. It gave us a language to use to resist, and if we prevail tonight and in the coming days, if we rise up like that again and lose and lose and keep losing those losses will pile high enough for us to climb.

The small things I can do don’t feel like enough, and that’s because by themselves, they’re not.

A.