Category Archives: Athenae

Joy is Part of the Fight

As we are all, rightly, quarreling over the defense of Rep. Ilhan Omar, a reminder that when we politicize people’s faith and make them symbols, we don’t just create misery. We poison ordinary human joy: 

I wrote my second book because I wanted to read a story where a young queer Muslim girl’s story was not about pain or suffering. I wanted the things that got in the way of her love story to be the everyday kinds of things that get in the way of many of our own love stories. The misunderstandings. The fear of vulnerability. The aching longing that first love so often evinces.

To be carefree and Muslim is no easy thing.

But I do write stories in which it is. Because while that world may not exist yet, I get to play by my own rules in fiction. And I want to give the next generation of Muslims stories where they can see themselves, not just as the victims of hate, but as the instigators of love.

After 9/11 and the wave of local Chicago hate crimes that followed it, I spent about a week with a Muslim family, doing my favorite kind of journalism, the kind where I just sort of hang out and write about what’s happening in a life not my own. I wrote about their prayers and their struggles but also about their pet parrot who was loud and rude, about the kids teasing each other around the dinner table. About how even in that dark time, they were happy.

I’ll be forever grateful they let me see them in those moments. They didn’t have to. It was a recklessly generous act of faith.

The times when my own prejudices have been challenged have not only been times when I’ve recognized someone’s misery as my own but when I’ve recognized their joy. We are fully in each other’s lives when we are a part of their celebrations AND their struggles, when we are as at home at each other’s weddings as at each other’s funerals.

We need to remember to be in solidarity with each other not just when times are difficult but when they are transcendent.

A.

Tuesday Catblogging

It’s become clear to me that while you all are somewhat here for the cursing and cock jokes and thirst pictures of politicians, you also demand quality cat content. Here’s Ada, the prettiest kitty-witty in the entire universe:

A.

Who You Could Be

Jeffrey Toobin is an idiot, okay, and is rightly taking all kinds of .gif heat for this bullshit, but there’s something else at work here that overshadows the majority of the coverage of the Trump administration and the equally infuriating rehabbing of the Bush administration:

The sickness here is in Toobin’s ability to empathize and identify with Nielsen over the immigrant parents she ripped from their children. Nielsen is, after all, a pretty blond white lady, who appears at hearings and podiums dressed in a suit and nice shoes, who speaks in an even tone, so Toobin can see himself in her.

With very few wardrobe changes Jeffrey Toobin could be a nice capable bureaucrat who goes along to get along. Who spouts the party line for his boss and defends the indefensible and tries to make everyone believe that everything is fine. With very little effort — it doesn’t take a Trump to turn you, most people would do it for two quarters and a strawberry milkshake — he could be exactly where Nielsen is.

That should scare the shit out of him. The similarities between them should make him want to BRILLO HIS OWN SKIN OFF. And instead he’s casting her as some kind of innocent who’s been done wrong by an evil man and will now be unfairly punished. She deserves to be remembered for minimal competence at an office job!

If she’ll be remembered instead for her worst actions, what will Toobin be remembered for? If minimal competence at an office job and the ability to mouth complete sentences aren’t enough to buy you a spot in The Good Place, what on earth is? It’s a world gone mad.

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Sunday Catblogging: Look at These Two Dumb Butts

Spring has sprung in the neighborhood and there are birds everywhere so Thing One and Thing Two here are constantly tearing through the house going window to window to chase them from inside because they are the dumbest cats alive.

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Mitch Mitch Mitch, OUT OUT OUT

I wrote this back in 2016 and I’m still on that shit, as the kids say. 

In fact, I’ll go one further: The entire Resistance ™ should focus much less on ousting Trump and throw its entire weight behind ruining Mitch McConnell’s existence into and through the afterlife. 

Without Mitch, Trump couldn’t do jack dick.

Without Mitch and his pets in the howler monkey sanctuary we call the Senate, we wouldn’t have Gorsuch and Kavanaugh. We’d have Merrick Garland and yeah, probably some borderline fascist but COME ON.

Get rid of this turtle fuck and a few of his circle-jerking fascist-curious Klan buddies and suddenly Trump’s a neutered dillhole yelling at the TV instead of all that plus an imminent threat to the Republic.

We are spending all of our time yelling at Bernie and Joe Biden and Mayor Pete and I’m not saying who they are, and the media biases inherent in raising them above Kamala and Professor Zero Fucks, should be irrelevant, but Mitch McConnell is the problem.

Defeat Trump and leave Mitch in place and you have Obama’s second term which, in case anyone has blocked it out, sucked second-hand donkey sack.

With Mitch around nothing gets solved. We should be throwing ourselves at him like White Walkers at the fucking Wall. Who’s running against him? WHO YOU GOT? We’ll take anybody. They’re problematic as shit and too conservative? OKAY, HERE’S SOME MONEY THEN.

And like this is nice but I want to see party money, celebrity money, dirty sexy money, not just spent on ads for another celebrity but on voter registration and ground volunteers and GOTV and like-minded issue-oriented efforts like LET’S HAVE A DEMOCRACY AGAIN and I KNOW THIS IS KENTUCKY BUT CAN WE PLEASE TAKE SOME OF THE GUNS and OUR ROADS AND BRIDGES ARE ALL FUCKED UP. I want this fight fought like it matters.

We can spend the next year all of us having yelly angry high dudgeon about Bernie and Kamala and shit, or we can focus for once in our party’s lives and send this foreskin-headed hijo de Putin into retirement or indictment.

I’m not picky. It’s all fine so long as at the end of the day he’s gone.

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Not Everything Sucks

Some people are making newspapers for people in prison: 

It was the publication of that essay that led to me walking through the office doors of The Marshall Project two months later—having finally won parole—to talk with their staff about my experiences. That conversation led to me joining their team and to the creation of News Inside—a collection of TMP’s award-winning journalism that relates directly to incarcerated lives. In the past month, we began distributing the pilot edition of this print publication to prisons and jails; to date it is circulating in 30 facilities in 19 states.

I wanted to share our rich articles with my information-poor former community, particularly those who believe study is a chance for redemption, who sacrifice sleep and risk a misbehavior report to pore over textbooks under shaded lamps after lights-out, who struggle to find resources to expand their minds.

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People Cared About Their Newspapers and Newspapers Pissed That Away

This is making the rounds of journo Twitter and everybody’s all HEE HEE HEE but honestly, it illustrates the saddest thing about the newspaper debacle currently grinding its way to a miserable end:

People cared about their newspapers. They always did. Newspapers had generational brand loyalty that most companies could only DREAM about. Time was you had a whole IDENTITY built around being a reader of X paper instead of Y. Yeah, everybody bitched but everybody bitches about their baseball team, too, and here we are every opening day. The Milwaukee Brewers have ruined my dad’s life for more than six decades and he still went to spring training to watch them fuck around pointlessly in the Arizona sun because that’s how he loves them. Enough to complain.

People cared about their newspapers and the newspapers’ owners pissed that away. They fired the good reporters, flailed at every internet trend, moved the copy desk to Texas, ran reams of wire copy, cut the paper’s size and shape and delivery schedule, outsourced the distribution to their competitors, and finally just gave up.

For the 20 or so years it took them to accomplish all that they counted on older reporters to yell at younger ones for “taking” jobs, counted on lazy industry hacks to blame the Internet, counted on nobody to watch the money, and counted on never having to market themselves because their customers would never move or die. And all the while people cared about the newspaper.

They complained when the paper wasn’t on the porch. They carped when a section got dropped or a listing got moved. They were enraged when, having paid for seven days of a paper, they got three and no refund. It mattered to them. It mattered to them and they got corporatespeak mishymashy nonsense about embracing the digital future. No wonder they tuned out in record numbers. No wonder they fled.

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So We Mailed Some LEGOs to Alaska, Guys!

Every time I ask you guys I think this time it’s not gonna make a dent and oh boy did you ever make a dent:

You’re all just so great.

A.

The Point Is To Be Mean

I’ve written before about how everything right now is designed to make you give up, lie down and quit fighting, and of course twas ever thus for those we nice white people didn’t want participating in the system, but increasingly we are weaponizing our customer service systems against ourselves: 

Elizabeth Cloinger, 47, who lives in a trailer next to her cousin’s house just outside town, thought she was complying with the new rules. She has been on Medicaid for years and already had a job, working seven days most weeks as a home health aide. Her wages — 9.25 an hour, with 50 cents more for hospice patients — and her hours met the new rules. Yet she received a June letter saying she needed to verify that her income made her eligible, or she would be cut off.

She called the listed phone number and faxed information to a state employee in Pine Bluff. She was told that, like many people, she was exempt from the work requirements — in her case, because she was caring for her 20-year-old daughter recovering from a car accident and her 3-year-old granddaughter.

But on Aug. 18, she received another letter, saying she had been terminated because she had not verified her income. In December, four letters arrived saying she needed to update her email address, then 11 more in January. Each letter told her to create an online account. She doesn’t have a computer and didn’t realize that the program requires everyone to get an email address.

A federal judge struck down these requirements recently, but of course they’ll come back, and of course the GOP and some MY BRAND IS CENTRIST Democrats will keep trying to make the poor prove they’re poor, the disabled prove they’re disabled, and everybody having a hard time will be forced to perform that hard time for the public to make us all feel better or something.

The point is to get people to give up and die already. It’s to exhaust them, the way endless appeals to insurance companies and run-arounds and “log in to your account except you need an account to log in” mechanisms are designed to do so. The point is to make people who have a limited capacity to fight struggle even harder. The point is to be mean.

And to who? To people who take care of the elderly in nursing homes and hospices, for ten goddamn dollars an hour. Hospice workers are angels on this earth and should be paid like star quarterbacks, this is already disgusting, and here come our National Scolds to make things worse. As if someone who works in a nursing home has to prove anything to anybody. If these lawmakers had to empty even one bedpan they’d faint from exertion.

I will never understand — as a person who, full disclosure, paid a healthy amount of taxes last year for the first time in my adult life — what I am supposed to get out of punishing people like that. Atrios says all the time that the health care system can be wildly complicated and expensive on the back end but should be absolutely free and simple on the front end and I absolutely agree but for EVERYTHING.

Yeah, people are gonna game the system. Somebody’s gonna be a welfare queen. Get the hell over it. If the choice is between “a system that can be gamed but hospice nurses get paid and can see a doctor themselves” and “a system that nobody can game WHICH IS IMAGINARY and is also a huge pain in the ass for the people who literally care for the dying and drives such people into poverty” I will gladly, enthusiastically accept the former.

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In Loving and Awed Memory of Tom Butler, First Draft Krewe

You ever get shown up thoroughly by someone twice your age?

Tom Butler and his wife June did that to me in 2007 in NOLA. Longtime readers may remember we assembled a bunch of Internet people who’d never met (pictured above) to go to New Orleans to gut a house in the aftermath of Katrina. Tom, second from left up there, absolutely kicked my ass.

He and June, beside him as always, hauled out barrow after barrow, bucket after bucket, of filth from this roach-ridden rotting hulk of a flooded home in 90-degree heat and 90 percent humidity, working dawn to dusk with hardly a break to make this busted thing a home again. I needed a long lie-down after about two hours of swinging a sledgehammer and all Tom did was keep working. He smiled the whole time.

Tom passed away this morning. He was generous, kindhearted and true, and helped where he could, always. Our condolences to June and her family, and Tom, I hope, is somewhere finally resting up.

A.

LET’S MAIL SOME LEGOS TO ALASKA

I dunno if anybody else is struggling right now but I AM. Holy balls, am I ever.

The world is a dark miserable shitass place and being on Twitter is losing its goddamn charm as all I ever see is people attacking each other over who’s really a Bernie bro and who humped their cat and who has the WORST ideas for revamping local news and who I used to love yesterday who now has to be cancelled because he has revenge or rape or race-war fantasies.

And I do not have a hot take on any of it. I’m just annoyed by everything. Once upon a time I would have enjoyed laughing at Cat Humper Twitter as much as I did David Cameron Dead Pig Humper Twitter, but lately my overarching reaction is just to be really, really tired by everyone’s antics. Which is not productive. Or helpful.

You know what is?

MAILING LEGOS TO ALASKA. 

Continue reading

Just Have the Journalists Do Everything

Let us sell it, at least we know what we’re doing:

In another attempt to retain local union jobs in the face of expected layoffs, members of the PD News Guild have asked the Plain Dealer Publishing Company to collaborate with them on a subscription drive.

In a letter sent Tuesday, to which the company has not yet officially responded, the Guild asked that for every 500 new subscriptions purchased, one local journalist’s job be preserved for an additional year.

With expected support from local unions, including the member unions that comprise the North Shore Federation of Labor, the News Guild asked that a discounted rate be offered to “unions, retirees and supporters.”

I know how hot it gets you people when I talk about newspaper marketing and distribution so here we go. This is actually a good idea, as sad as it is to make people’s democracy-dies-in-darkness jobs conditional on something as fickle as circ. I’d go one better: Have the journalists actually make the subscription calls.

No, really.

A lot of newspaper chains in the late 1990s and early 2000s consolidated and centralized their circulation departments. It sounds good if you’re the kind of lizard-brained consultant critter who uses words like “synergize” and “marketing space” and stuff: One call center for five small papers in a general region, with a phone tree instead of a kindly permed receptionist.

It sounds good, until you’re explaining which of the papers you want to a minimum-wager working off a script who lives four towns away and doesn’t know the 7-Eleven you tried to buy your paper at and can’t pronounce the name of your street nor explain why the paper covers your area but doesn’t sell in it.

Like this is a joke but it’s not, really:

The automation and corporatization of basic newspaper operations has as much to do with falling circ as the mobile internet does. Maybe more. I know the older I get the less patience I have for bloated heaving websites that circumvent my adblocker and I’d much rather flip through a paper with my coffee.

But they can’t get it on my porch by 6 a.m. and even if they do, it’s full of syndicated racists and bothsiders whining about civility next to four pages of wire copy about celebrities and a “what’s trending on Twitter today” box, along with reminders to go to the shitass website for the interesting stories and striking photos.

Papers aren’t ever-present anymore, so it’s possible to ignore them. While the tough dirty children were out there yelling (and the downtown boxes were filled, and the racks were in every bodega, and the neighbors were doing the delivery) it wasn’t as easy to overlook them, to flip to TMZ or spend your commute playing Candy Crush. Now, even if you’re looking for the paper you often can’t find it.

Journalists might be the last people on earth who care about that so if they have to be the ones to fix it, well, shit, nobody else is gonna do it. Even the PD’s union admits this is a long shot:

Given how the company has responded to Guild bargaining requests in recent weeks, it’s unlikely that the letter will be met with support or good faith. (The company’s goal is to employ less of them, ultimately.)

I’ve been saying it for a while now: Ain’t nobody coming to save journalism except you and me and everyone we know who cares about it. I’m about done listening to people complain about the way the world is when some of us are out here trying to build something new.

And yeah, we gotta make the sales calls to do it. We gotta pass the sentence and swing the sword. We gotta work day jobs to do the writing we want to see in the world and we have to keep doing it as long as we can. You can bitch about the tree in your way or you can pick up an axe.

Or a phone.

A.

Not Everything Sucks

People are racing dogs across Alaska and other people are raising money for the schools along the way:

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GateHouse sucks newspaper dry, AP blames ‘decline in ads, readers’ for suckage

The facts about a small paper folding are all right here:

In the mid-1990s, when former Daily Guide publisher Tim Berrier was replaced, the newspaper had a news editor, sports editor, photographer and two reporters on staff. Along with traditional community news, the Daily Guide covered the Army’s decision to move its chemical warfare training facility to Fort Leonard Wood in the 1990s, and a flood that swept a mother and son to their deaths in 2013.

As recently as 2010, the Daily Guide had four full-time news people, along with a page designer and three ad salespeople.

But people left and weren’t replaced. Last spring, the Daily Guide was cut from five to three days a week. 

But the headline reads “decline in readers, ads leads hundreds of newspapers to fold.” Not “neverending series of cuts fails to convince customers the product is worth purchasing anymore, while company executives managed to pay themselves bonus after bonus.” This is the takeaway:

All newspaper owners face a brutal reality that calls into question whether it’s an economically sustainable model anymore unless, like the Jeff Bezos-owned Washington Post, the boss is the world’s richest man.

Let’s ignore the truly regrettable construction of that sentence (What’s not an economically sustainable model? Newspaper owners? That I’d agree with.) and examine the implication that Jeff Bezos personally pays the salaries of every Washington Post reporter out of the goodness of his heart: 

Under Bezos, The Post has revamped its website and mobile apps. It also created software called “Arc,” which gives better analytics and marketing features for the publication.

That’s helped it take a more data-driven approach. It now employs common web strategies like “A/B testing” to track how different headlines and story framings affect readership for each story. It also created a program that takes articles from other publications and asks readers which ones they’d rather read.

It’s also hired a bunch of new editors and reporters lately. It now publishes 1,200 articles a day. Its content varies from breaking news and long features to fun photo slideshows …

So he … invested in making the paper better, and people got interested? Why wouldn’t that work anywhere else, GateHouse?

GateHouse said the Daily Guide, like many smaller newspapers across the country, was hurt by a dwindling advertising market among national retailers. The paper supplemented its income through outside printing jobs, but those dried up, too, said Szachara, the GateHouse newspaper operations president.

Given an unforgiving marketplace, there’s no guarantee additional investment in the paper would have paid off, he said.

National retailers. In a town of 5,000 in the Ozarks. Give me a break. This is where outside, corporate, hedge-fund ownership the news in the ass: Wal-mart can’t supply the pages it was supplying across the entire company, so to make a certain number this quarter this entire community’s news gets cut.

But hey, maybe GateHouse was too broke to invest in this paper the way Bezos did OH WAIT: 

Only a few short weeks after announcing a centralization of layout and copy editing that will cost jobs at its more than 300 newspapers across the nation, GateHouse Media revealed Friday it has awarded more than $1.4 million in bonuses to its top four executives.

ONE POINT FOUR MILLION DOLLARS could run this small paper for five years. Stop interrogating the business model and start interrogating the spending habits of your goddamn management team.

Go on, tell me more about how investment wouldn’t pay off, even though there are examples of it doing just that. It can’t be that you’d rather make money on the downturn than REVERSE THE GODDAMN DOWNTURN, right?

They will keep doing this as long as we keep buying the argument that it’s “declining revenue” (does that mean it’s enough to pay your bills or no?) or “changes in the media consumer landscape” or “damn kids on their phones these days” keeps getting included in the nut graf like some kind of weather system. This is a problem that has a solution, and that you don’t wanna solve it, don’t change that one bit.

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Tactical Framing

This, this exactly:

It’s also a natural consequence of the pundit-to-journalist-to-pundit pipeline, in which people who can only think tactically are paid to tell other people what to think about a policy. I understand why political strategists are obsessed with where something will play and how well and why. I will never understand why journalists think they need to convey those debates to their readers.

This whole mindset has infected journalism as a whole. I remember having a conversation with an editor about whether we should, as a newspaper, call for a local scumbag’s resignation. The editor’s worry was that if we did so, and the scumbag didn’t resign, we’d look weak and people would be less likely to listen to us in the future.

I think my argument to him was something along the lines of HE’S A SON OF A BITCH WHO’S GONNA BURN IN HELL, THAT IS ALL THAT MATTERS. You do right, say it loud, and damn the torpedos.

We see this in the obsession over which attacks on Trump land, and how awful it is that none of them do and that his supporters keep supporting him. As if the kids in cages care. As if guilt or innocence in criminal actions rest upon convincing a focus group of overwhelmed suburban moms who watch the Today Show. As if you should be worried, when reporting true facts about the actions of the powerful toward the powerless, how that reporting makes YOU look.

Back to the pundit-journalist finger cuffs: You do become a sociopath in both jobs, and I get that and honor it as a necessary defense mechanism to dealing constantly with the worst parts of society. You see the world under its skin, in both occupations, and you can’t go back to merrily skipping through the cereal aisle the next morning.

But that emotional kinship doesn’t mean the aims of the job are the same. Serving your candidate and serving your readers are not the same thing, and while explaining the complexities of the political process has merit, predicating coverage on the likelihood of a policy initiative getting a favorable vote serves your audience … not at all.

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Tucker Carlson was hired for the misogyny, not in spite of or in ignorance of it

So Tucker Carlson is a piece of shit: 

Carlson called into the radio show for about an hour a week from 2006 to 2011 (he joined Fox News as contributor in 2009). In the recordings obtained by Media Matters, Carlson defends cult leader and child abuser Warren Jeffs, calls Britney Spears and Paris Hilton “the biggest white whores in America,” questions whether sex workers can really be raped, and describes women in general as “extremely primitive.”

Fox knew this. Shit, Tucker used to work for CNN and I wouldn’t doubt CNN knew this. These things were broadcast on the radio so every single listener to “Bubba the Love Sponge” knew this, too, but Tucker kept getting jobs because people liked his schtick. They don’t have any excuse for being unaware of who he is and what he’s like.

They don’t get to say OH MY WE HAD NO IDEA HE WAS INTO CHILD RAPE. WE THOUGHT HE WAS JUST ONE OF THE REGULAR RACIST MISOGYNIST PIECES OF SHIT WE HIRE.

He and his ilk are terrible, harmful and useless, and he was hired not in spite of those things or in ignorance of them but because of them. Tucker’s viewers respond to this in him. This isn’t something they overlook. They don’t put up with the pederasty fantasies to get to the racism. They recognize it’s all of a piece.

It’s all part of the “I fucked your mom” persona Tucker cultivates and profits from. It’s not an obstacle to his appeal. It’s his whole entire sales pitch, and Fox bought it, and CNN before them, and Bubba the Love Sponge picked up the phone because he knew this was what was on the other end of the line.

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Faith as an Endurance Test

Kick asked me what the ashes were for. I had them on my forehead, as did my mother who was visiting. They’re somewhat obvious, if done right.

“It’s something grownups do to prepare for Easter,” I said, and changed the subject.

I’ve always hated this part of the liturgical calendar, the emphasis on death and guilt, the insistence on prioritizing misery, the endurance test that is Passion Sunday, in which we read the entirety of Jesus’s horrific death. LOOK AT IT, with the presumption that if you turn away, you’re not worthy of that sacrifice: 

 After tweeting out a call for anyone who felt they viewed The Passion Of The Christ at too young an age, we spoke to more than a dozen people who saw the film between the ages of 10 and 15. Some weren’t allowed to cover their eyes. Some sobbed. One puked in her seat. For nearly all of them, it was framed as an event by their parents, their pastors, their teachers, none of whom seemed to care that it spilled more gore than a Troma flick. It was mandatory viewing, and, furthermore, it demanded a reaction. At many screenings, enthusiastic youth pastors filed to the front of the theater as the credits still rolled. There, they encouraged those moved by the graphic violence on screen to commit (or recommit) their lives to Christ. Disoriented preteens, overwhelmed, shuffled forward, heads bowed, splayed hands and spoken tongues descending upon them.

Faith as bludgeon, as blunt instrument of force, driving the faithful into the sea: That’s the church so many turn away from. Faith not as persuasion but as power: 

The move was also very on-brand, notes the New York Times, considering Trump’s appeal with evangelicals. A pastor who is a prominent Trump supporter said the signings were “very appropriate,” and that people ask him to sign their Bibles “all the time.” It isn’t just presidents; other stars in the evangelical world are also often asked to signed Bibles, such as Tim Tebow. Beyond the act itself though, many pointed out that what seemed particularly strange wasn’t just that Trump signed the bibles but that he chose to add his massive signature to the covers.

Stars in the evangelical world, and Trump one of them. Prosperity gospels, pastors flying private planes, Cardinal archbishops soliciting sex during confession: It’s an ugly time for Christianity, as our Middle East wars rage. We keep coming around to this idea that we need to beat a particular kind of belief into those who already want to believe, make of those already faithful an army to oppose unbelievers, as if it’s the atheists who threaten religion. As if they’re the ones making movies about murder, making money and calling it morality.

There’s a moment in The Passion of the Christ that I DO think about all the time, and it’s not the lashes or the crown of thorns, it’s not the nails driven through the hands. It’s Jesus and his mother Mary, talking quietly, Mary teasing him gently because the table he built is a little crooked. That’s what was sacrificed. Part the seas and boil the rivers: This is what brings it home.

Faith isn’t a bludgeon. It’s a torch. You don’t have to be Clockwork Orange-ed into swallowing the horror that is lovingly depicted blood spatter in order to understand someone fully human, with people he loved, violently executed for threatening power on Earth. Walk past any prison, on your way to the altar, and listen to what is said as the ashes are smudged onto your forehead.

Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return. I didn’t want to explain it to Kick as more than that.

“We get ready for Easter by going to church and thinking about ways to help others,” I said.

That’s enough.

A.

Not Everything Sucks

Sometimes, waiting for the train after a concert, people sing and dance:

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‘Congress’ Isn’t The Problem. Republicans Are.

This isn’t “Congress,” dude: 

About 75 percent of Americans favor higher taxes for the ultrawealthy. The idea of a federal law that would guarantee paid maternity leave attracts 67 percent support. Eighty-three percent favor strong net neutrality rules for broadband, and more than 60 percent want stronger privacy laws. Seventy-one percent think we should be able to buy drugs imported from Canada, and 92 percent want Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices. The list goes on.

[snip]

In our era, it is primarily Congress that prevents popular laws from being passed or getting serious consideration. (Holding an occasional hearing does not count as “doing something.”) Entire categories of public policy options are effectively off-limits because of the combined influence of industry groups and donor interests. There is no principled defense of this state of affairs — and indeed, no one attempts to offer such a justification. Instead, legislative stagnation is cynically defended by those who benefit from it with an unconvincing invocation of the rigors of our system of checks and balances.

Everyone’s mad at David Brooks but this is the dumbest thing in the Times today.

“Congress” isn’t refusing to enact sensible gun regulations. “Congress” isn’t gutting the only weakass healthcare protections we’ve ever managed to pass. “Congress” isn’t denying pregnant women health care or parental leave. “Congress” isn’t murdering net neutrality in its cradle. “Congress” is doing none of these things.

Mitch McConnell and his merry band of blithering buttlicks are.

Pretending nobody in Washington wants to get anything done sounds really savvy and appealingly cynical because it allows you to let everybody off the hook including yourself. The facts remain that the very SECOND Democrats had control of Congress they passed universal background checks, created a committee to study climate change, and oh yeah REOPENED THE GOVERNMENT THAT HAD BEEN SHUT DOWN.

I mean sweet mercy, you don’t have to go past the first Google result to figure that out.

We can’t solve any problems right now because we keep telling ourselves lies about what those problems are. Those problems are Republican problems, full stop, and the more we keep on with this copypasta equivalence the stupider it sounds. “Both sides” is a joke by now, here on the internets, but it keeps getting spat out like it still means something.

I get it. It lets you sound like you know something everyone else, all those dumbasses with party allegiances and beliefs in stuff and principles worth fighting for, is too blinkered to know, and that special knowledge gets your op-eds published and your name on the cable shows. It lets you off the hook for figuring out what a candidate stands for and then backing that candidate, fully and unashamedly, because their views align with yours. You can just declare that the whole system is, like, bullshit, man, and go home.

Instead of having to stand up and say “Congress” isn’t doing anything to stifle the views of the majority. The views of the majority are the views of the Democratic Party and but for corruption, gerrymandering, and a 24-hour propaganda network blaring all day long that liberals are socialist traitors’ whores, those majority views would be law by now.

Schmuck.

A.

How You Gonna Pay For It?

Whenever someone asks that, in response to some mild environmental proposal, we should just say that WE ALREADY PAY FOR IT, DIPSHITS:

The ponds and landfills used to store coal ash are frequently unlined, allowing toxins to leach into groundwater.
The report is based on groundwater monitoring data from more than 4,600 wells. It compared measured levels to drinking water or other standards. Contamination was found in groundwater near 242 of the 265 plants that recently reported data required by the 2015 rule.
Fifty-two percent of those sites are contaminated with cancer-causing arsenic, and 60% are polluted with lithium, which is linked to neurological damage, according to the report.

There’s this idiot idea that we are not now paying for any kind of environmental damage we have caused, as if asthma and cancer and lead poisoning are things that don’t cost anyone any money. If that’s true I gotta boatload of friends what need the money they’ve spent on inhalers and chemo and testing reimbursed.

A.