March 31, 2017… Day 71
I got a bad case of the Fridays. Here’s the questions they asked Sean Spicer today:
March 31, 2017… Day 71
I got a bad case of the Fridays. Here’s the questions they asked Sean Spicer today:
March 30, 2017… Day 70
Trump attacked the Freedom Caucus in a tweet this morning. I only look at his tweet-missives over on Facebook, where there are whole, thoughtful paragraphs in the comment threads and not just memes, bots, and snark-bundles. Skimming the first few dozen replies with the most likes, every single one of them was a concerned Trump supporter who felt he was going down a very bad path. They assigned different levels of culpability to Trump. But most seemed to be picking their words carefully, as though they just might have a chance to influence him before all hope was gone.
Mike Flynn offered to testify in exchange for immunity. I don’t know if that’s going to happen. It sounds like that might be his way of pleading the fifth, meaning he won’t testify before the Senate Intelligence committee. Twitter is getting excited though, the way it does.
A panel of Russia experts testified in front of the Senate intelligence committee in the first day of hearings. There was a lot of context and history given, to try to anchor the Russia intervention as a large bipartisan national security issue that is ongoing. All of which is true. The Burr & Warren show is a sober affair while the Nunes & Schiff show still skitters around all willy nilly. Yesterday at a press conference, Burr & Warren basically said, “don’t even ask us about the House committee.” Anyway, the Russia experts casually said some chilling things like “Follow the trail of dead Russians,” and “Trump used Russia’s active measures.”
So… the White House DID give Devin Nunes information, which he then vague-booked to the press before making a display of briefing the White House on the information the it had briefed him about the night before. Also, Nunes has never been certain what, like literally what, he was ever talking about. The New York Times found out and published the identities of the two men who gave the information to Nunes. Adam Schiff suggested it was a case of “laundering information through the House intelligence committee.” Also, Sean Spicer’s press briefing is worth looking into for some strange non-denials. I’ll post the reporter questions below as always.
Stuff reporters asked Sean Spicer today:
March 29, 2017… Day 69.
“Like a brown bird nesting in a Texaco sign, I got a point of view”
— Silver Jews song lyric
— (Also, me)
I feel sheepish after I get too angry or emotional in my blog. It makes me feel like I smeared my weakness around on a page and taped it up in the hall of the high school where it isn’t safe for it to be. I have a lot of actual personal essays sketched out (as opposed to blurted TMI non sequiturs). If I can build up enough of a head of steam to last me through the end of my workday until bedtime, I’ll write a couple of those up. These have just been gnarly days of chafing at misogyny, figuring out how to do intersectional feminism, watching our institutions and freedoms crumble, staring into the abyss of my own white complicity, and wedging myself between Republicans and people who call me a corporatist neoliberal. This is my pillow book of Sei Shonagon, ok? This is my tear-soaked sleeve. I am cutting off my hair and moving to a monastery. I don’t know, I just took a seminar on the Tale of Genji when I was a freshman in college and I hearken back to it when I feel myself getting dramatic. I’m sure Devin Nunes is feeling like an embattled Heian prince right now too.
Ivanka Trump will take an official federal job in the White House after all (instead of just being a volunteer). Now if only Carl Icahn would do the same.
Today is Brexit day. Masses of people swamped by their own delusions. Good luck to you, UK.
According to The Hill, people who know Devin Nunes are saying that he is acting unhinged and aggressive, and hasn’t explained to anyone why he canceled those committee meetings. I saw him in the Ways and Means committee footage last night, sort of hunched over and glowering. He didn’t speak, it wasn’t his particular show. He just sat there listening to his colleagues talk about how something is wrong with the administration and Russia.
A lot of other disheartening stuff also happened. But Seattle is suing the federal government over the whole sanctuary city thing. And here’s something from the financial site ZeroHedge which beats back the thorny hedge of our collective self-gaslighting:
So, the green line starts diverging from the red line right after the election last November. The green line, which goes up and up? That’s data based on sentiment, that’s how everybody feels about how things are going economically. How much people want to buy things, for instance. That’s part of what drove the stock market rally that’s been attributed to Trump and his agenda. If you separate out the hard data — which is actual, quantifiable, after-the-fact economic results, you can see that has just gone along like it has been. Meaning that large swaths of the investing class have gone gaga on “Trump is great and will cut taxes” euphoria. But facts still matter, numbers still matter, and the hard data just says “everything is ok, about like it has been.” I find that reassuring.
The Republican chairman and leading Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee gave a joint press conference today. They countered all the House committee drama by being bipartisan, level-headed, and gravely concerned about Russia. They also countered it by referencing it directly and saying “things are different over here” (I paraphrase). And when they said they would get to the bottom of things and follow the facts where they lead, I want to believe them. I am more likely to believe them because Maxine Waters believes them.
Gallup has Trump approval ratings at 35% today.
C-Span screen grab:
OK, here’s the straight skinny. Questions asked of Sean Spicer at the press briefing today:
March 28, 2017… Day 68
On the day Sally Yates was supposed to testify but didn’t, Hillary was back on stage in a black leather jacket over a floral collar shirt. While giving a talk about women in diplomacy (or something like that), she stood up for two black women in the public eye– the reporter April Ryan and Congresswoman Maxine Waters. Why did she have to do that? Just white Republican guys being assholes.
Bill O’Reilly said Maxine Waters’s “James Brown wig” was too distracting for him to be able to hear what she was saying–as she spoke earnestly about democracy. Sean Spicer told April Ryan to stop shaking her head at him. But the worst I thought was right before that, when he said “I’m sorry if that disgusts you” for no reason. April Ryan felt bad that her fellow reporters didn’t speak up for her, and that makes me sad.
I listened to the c-span briefing live and Sean Spicer leaves abruptly after talking to April, with many people yelling after him for follow-up questions. After he left the room, one man said “REALLY?!… ok…” And someone else said, “April got him mad” and the first guy said, “Oh yeah. He just runs, man.”
Maxine Waters told Chris Hayes tonight that she could not be intimidated and wasn’t going anywhere.
The House Ways and Means committee killed another resolution that called for President Trump’s tax returns. Representative Bill Pascrell from Patterson, New Jersey was full of fire, thunder, and righteous indignation. I never heard of him before, and I appreciated him greatly. Suzan Del Bene from Washington piped up in the debate, and deposited a rather demure statement in support of Pascrell and his resolution. But she came across as rather a real person–like if I were a congresswoman, I might speak like her and with less sturm und drang. But who knows, I might be a real barn-burner. I especially appreciated the committee members who cited the protests in Russia as all the more reason we need to promote transparency and democratic institutions. At the end of the debate, they vote on whether or not to pass the resolution along with disapproval. The Republican ayes are so anemic and mumbled. Then the Democratic NOs ring out so forcefully, several times louder. It means something, though they knew the vote would split down party lines and they would lose. It still means something.
Trump joined the House Republicans in taking away Internet privacy protections. I know from my job, that this is seen as quite a revenue opportunity.
It was a sad day for the whole world, and all the things living on it. Trump rolled back initiatives to fight climate change.
Obama’s record is being erased. Hope for our species to continue in functioning societies is also being erased. Yeah, I’m sure someone survives after climate change really hits — but not most of us. And not with civil societies intact. It’s the biggest health issue, the biggest social justice issue that there is. It’s the biggest economic inequality issue. It’s the biggest foreign relations issue, the biggest national security issue, and the biggest issue for families with children.
With Sean Spicer’s lies and Devin Nunes obstructing his own committee’s investigation of Russia ties to the White House, and the Republicans just spinning and spinning and spinning to protect Donald Trump — it feels to me again like they will get away with all this. Maybe because I had hope, briefly, I feel nauseated again today, revisiting the grief of just after the election.
The lion’s share of that grief was NOT specifically about Hillary Clinton’s loss. That was sad enough on its own, but was dwarfed by the bigger picture. For Bernie Bros and Republicans, it is all still about Hillary. That came up today online with her back in the public eye again. And it has always hurt to have the sexism of leftist guys nipping at our ankles in hard times. We can’t count on all our brothers. I work hard to overcome this thought that was ingrained in me by my childhood circumstances: that men hate women and children. This election is hurtling me back through time to re-fight all these old battles for my emotional health and wholeness. Anyway, when it comes to Bernie Bros of various intensities — I have to be allies with them, but I don’t have to forget or forgive.
By the way, I’ve noticed that some male Bernie supporters love to say that the Clinton campaign invented and propagated the term Bernie Bro. Naturally, the lived experiences of real live female Democrats online can’t be seen as real.
OK, but enough white feminist tears for one day. People got real problems. I heard a story on NPR about how people are withdrawing from food stamp programs (even if their children are American citizens) because they are afraid of the government. There was a story in the New Yorker about how kids are afraid to go to school after an ICE raid.
Questions the reporters asked Sean Spicer today:
March 27, 2017… Day 67
Jared Kushner to head “SWAT team” that will reorganize government, privatizing some parts of it. Creepy on several levels. Was it really necessary to use the imagery of violent paramilitary home invasion to describe what’s going to be done to the government
Glenn Greenwald warns that the rules of engagement are changing in dangerous ways, and the military is allowing more civilians to be killed in its operations now. The fact that it’s Glenn Greenwald lends weight because he was already permanently livid (permalivid) at Obama. So if he says things have taken a sharp turn for the worse, he means it.
Washington Post headline: Trump administration weighs deeper involvement in Yemen war.
Bernie Sanders said he and other top progressives will introduce a Medicare for all bill.
Adam Schiff calls for Devin Nunes to step down as chair of the House Intelligence Committee.
Jeff Sessions says we must end sanctuary cities and steps will be taken to punish those cities financially.
A DREAMER in Portland was arrested at his house, although the ICE agents did not have a proper warrant signed by a judge.
Devin Nunes was on White House grounds the night before he called a press conference about information on the White House. Wait, what? I don’t even know. First we heard he disappeared from an Uber. Then we heard he met with *someone* on the White House grounds. What’s next?
I’m still catching up from being out of town and out of the loop. I’m gonna do the White House Press briefing questions and call it a night:
March 26, 2017… Day 66
Spent the day in Salem, Corvallis, and Albany, Oregon with a friend.
Driving between Monmouth and Corvallis we see a handpainted Black Lives Matter sign on a fence outside a farm house. It’s black paint on white-painted boards, in the same style as a sign advertising a roadside fruit stand.
Standing in a Starbucks in Corvallis, I look at my phone and see the extent of the protests in Russia — all across Russia — and the arrest of opposition-leader Navalny. Tears prick in my eyes and my ribcage seems to tighten up around my lungs. It’s more real now. Russians don’t have first amendment protections. They have laws against protesting. Police told them to stay out of the streets or expect a crackdown. Navalny’s life is in his hands, as he continues his opposition to Putin. Tens of thousands turned out in 80 different cities across Russia. Navalny was arrested.
We wandered into a tasting room for a brewery in Albany. The place was mostly empty, but we gravitated toward two white men who were playing guitars and singing in harmony with each other. They sounded really beautiful, sad, tender, soulful. It was country music, with a dash of something that sounded like Old Crow Medicine Show. As I got closer, I saw the bumper stickers on one of the guitar cases. One sticker read “I DON’T BELIEVE THE LIBERAL MEDIA!!” and the other read, “AND YOUR CRY-BABY, WHINY-ASS OPINION WOULD BE…?” At least two-thirds of my own hometown is like this too. And I can’t pretend not to be grossed out by it now. It IS wrapped up with white supremacy and I’m fucking sick of it. Anyway, that guy needs a bumper sticker that reads “SINGS BEAUTIFUL SONGS, DOESN”T GIVE A FUCK ABOUT HUMAN BEINGS.”
March 25, 2017… Day 65
I was out and about and away from Internet most of the day.
Forgot to mention I saw this guy at an intersection yesterday afternoon.
I was in a crowded city bus. People in cars were joyfully giving this guy dollar bills up and down the lane next to us, and everyone on the bus cheered when they saw another person had handed him a dollar. The other side of the sign reads, “Family needs blankets, food, and miracles.”
I spent most of the day on a Greyhound bus heading south from Seattle to Portland and points south from there. The bus was delayed two hours leaving, and the Seattle Greyhound station is small, so there were a lot of us packed into a confined place for a long time. Just as I got there, a man about my age came in with his mother and grandmother–they were Ethiopian. The women were dressed in whites and beiges with white lace up over their hair. The son addressed a white teenage girl who was slouched near her mother, and asked her to look after the two older women and make sure they got on the bus all right. He had to leave and was just dropping them off. The girl and her mother took their responsibility very seriously. Their names were Abby and Bambi, and they swept me into their custody as well.
The thing I noticed at the bus station was that I was surrounded by a higher than usual (for me) density of immigrants and people of color, especially black people, but I was also surrounded by more white people who seemed like they could’ve been Trump voters than I was used to. It made for a potent mix. The Bolt bus that goes straight from Seattle to Portland with no stops, is mostly tech kids and college kids and arty 20- and 30-somethings, with laptops and cappuccinos and knit beanies. Various ethnicities, but a certain type. The Greyhound bus gets a few of those but is mostly like the bone-weary, multi-generational, multi-racial heart of working class America.
I used to joke that everything I knew about prison life, I overheard on a Greyhound. I retired that joke, but pretty much as soon as I sat down, I began to hear about how in prison these guys used to wrap ramen, pepperoni, and string cheese in a tortilla and call it a burrito. The person speaking was a big beefy, ruddy, white guy about my age who was traveling to Kelso, Washington from Montana to see his teenaged son. When he wasn’t talking about that stuff with the guy across the aisle from him, he was talking to the young man and woman behind him, who were barely older than his kid. These two, who might have been 19 or 20, had just met and were hitting it off like gangbusters from the moment she asked if the seat next to him was taken.
They both had the hallmarks of counterculture–face piercings, tattoos, dyed hair, edgy hairstyles. But they were also just coltish young people who talked about Harry Potter and guffawed over-earnestly at each other’s jokes. They talked eagerly about their growing up years, in that ping pong back and forth of people who haven’t learned to be good listeners yet and don’t really care.
The boy was of German extraction, he said. His grandfather came from Germany when he was 9 years old, and then fought for the U.S. in World War II. When he got back, he never wanted to hear German spoken in his home again. So the boy’s family, he said, was split between Nazi-sympathizers and pentecostals. He was in the pentecostal side. Then he said he was raised to not believe in the intermingling of races.
Yes, she replied, her grandparents fled from Germany to Ukraine during the war. She doesn’t say, but there is an implication that they were German Jews. Maybe I’m wrong. They intermarried with Ukrainian Baptists. This girl described being raised by “seriously conservative Christians” and that music and dancing were not allowed. The family emigrated to the U.S. and got mixed up with pentecostals too.
While they were telling each other this, I noticed out my window that we slipped by two beat-up looking pentecostal churches.
The girl had a Ukrainian accent still, like someone who had come over as an older child. She’d been young enough to be perfectly conversant in English at 19, but old enough so that her accent would stay with her. She said “I miss Ukraine but I can’t go back because we have war now.”
The boy brought up Donald Trump. What struck me was that he brought Donald Trump up as though he had just barely figured out who had won the election and what was going on. He said, “He was an actor or something before, right?” She replied, “I don’t know, I just know he was some kind of major rich guy.” He said, “I was reading about him last night, I think it’s really interesting the direction he’s going in.” The girl said, in a neutral tone, “You know there are two sides though–there are people who love him and people who hate him.” The boy was like, “Yeah, yeah…” and kept talking about how Donald Trump had some “interesting ideas about things.” Then the girl said, “I don’t know, I don’t care about politics. If I have to write an essay for school, I write an essay, but I don’t care.” The boy nodded, seeming a little chastened. After a beat he said, “I also like Bernie Sanders.”
Later he said he didn’t like that “a black guy” was cast as Two-Face in the lego batman movie, because it was Tommy Lee Jones before.
Sitting directly in front of the girl (and next to my coeval the ex-con), was an old guy who reeked of urine, had a cardboard sign asking for money, was passed out and fell into the aisle three times. People around him had to keep putting him back in his seat. When my seat mate got out at Olympia, the ex-con came and sat next to me to get away from his pee-soaked seat mate.
At one point the ex-con pointed out the window and said, “there’s my school.” It was a series of low buildings behind a big fence. It was Green Hill in Chehalis, a juvenile prison. He said, “I was there for the flood of 1995 when three people escaped.”
Over the course of our ride he told me how he was a five-time felon and a 22-year meth addict. He said he had a better life now. He’d left his teenage son behind with his grandparents, and his dog behind with a friend. He was going to visit the son and the dog. He said he left his son’s mom when she was doing dope when she was 4 months pregnant. But her whole family had more money than him and could afford lawyers. He couldn’t get custody and they poisoned his son against him. Now they talk again though, thanks to Facebook.
At one point he leans across the aisle to interrupt the younger pair’s conversation about music they like. “Hey you like Rammstein? you know, Rammstein–oh come onnn don’t tell me you never heard of Rammstein!?!?” He looks at me in disbelief, and I smile and say “Different generation, man.” I do know who the German metal band is, but more than anything i know that Eric Harris of the Columbine shooting was into Rammstein and wore a Rammstein t-shirt in his school photo. That factoid doesn’t mean anything, but I’m a little spooked since I feel like the bus is just about as tribal as prison and maybe it’s not a coincidence that we’re the only white people on the bus and for some reason we’re all clumped together. Abby and Bambi are right behind me (having deposited the older Ethiopian women up near the driver). They’ve heard my seat mate say he’s a five-time felon and they keep saying perkily, “You ok up there, Lil?” and popping up to offer me beef jerky and potato chips over the back of the seat.
March 24, 2017… Day 64
My day started with a picture of John Lewis holding a puppy. The way he is holding the puppy is tender, and the fact that he shared this photograph on Facebook is cute.
Moved on to hearing a coworker tell another coworker that the way Trump said that “we’re done negotiating the health care bill” was “kind of AWESOME.” Jesus. Easily impressed.
“And, obviously, later today the House will be voting on the American Health Care Act.”
—Sean Spicer, today
Then the White House Press Briefing, in which reporters repeatedly pressed Sean Spicer to say whether or not Trump would take responsibility for the failure of the AHCA. At that point there was still expected to be a vote on the healthcare bill later that afternoon. Spicer dodged the questions in a way that suggested that perhaps Trump and his entire staff genuinely do not understand what leadership is. Sean Spicer actually said, “At the end of the day, this isn’t a dictatorship” as part of his answer to one reporter asking “Will the buck stop with the President?”
“At the end of the day, this isn’t a dictatorship.”
—Sean Spicer, today
Now I’m losing the order of things. I think next, the bill got pulled and the vote delayed indefinitely, maybe forever.
Devin Nunes canceled Tuesday’s open hearing with several witnesses including fired holdover AG Sally Yates. In response, Adam Schiff gave another fiery press conference. He manages to sort of smolder. He alway seems eminently reasonable. He gave a chronology of the week, and said that he figures Nunes was responding to pressure from the White House.
“We are so uncompetitive when it comes to our otherworldly competitors”
—Sean Spicer today
Listening to Rachel Maddow from last night: she outlines grim Russian state murders.
Bernie gets on the show and calls Democrats feeble. One tweet I saw about it said, “Bernie never has a plan to defeat Goliath that doesn’t seem to involve kicking David in the nuts.” You know what, Bernie? You call Democrats feeble in private. You say it to your friends. You write it in your diary. You don’t get on on live TV, at a crucial moment, when Trump is against the ropes, and say “Democrats are feeble.” Also, what are YOU really doing besides running your mouth (and holding TV events that involve reassuring the white working class that they are still more important to you than the non-white working class)?
Screwing up my courage to listen to Pod Save the World. The latest episode is on North Korea and its nukes. I’d kind of like to be able to sleep tonight.
Largely overlooked story today:
Questions reporters asked Sean Spicer today:
March 23, 2017… Day #63
Chuck Schumer says Democrats will filibuster the Gorsuch vote in the Senate. That’s good because last night the rumors that Democrats would “make a deal” in exchange for supporting Gorsuch. We’re in no mood for deal-making, Dems!
Speaking of deal-making, Trump did not hammer out a deal with the Freedom Caucus today. House vote on the AHCA (repeal & replace) law was supposed to be today but now will be tomorrow. Sean Spicer says in his press briefing that it was never about making a deal. Hard Times for Big Daddy Negotiator.
The Freedom Caucus members seem like a bunch of dicks. I really hope the tea party of the left does not become an actual legislative caucus.
Nancy Pelosi called the whole thing a rookie mistake on Trump’s part. She had a twinkle in her eye. She deserves to get a dig in after her “pass it to find out what’s in it” remark was taken out of context and bandied about for the last seven years.
Devin Nunes tells an interviewer he went to brief the White House yesterday because “the President’s been taking a lot of heat.”
Adam Schiff has said that the new evidence that he has seen would “merit a grand jury investigation.”
Sean Spicer waxes creative and esoteric about what the word “associate” really means.
Trump met with trucking companies, climbed up into the cab of a big rig and honked the horn. Unfortunate photographs were taken.
What reporters asked Sean Spicer today:
March 22, 2017… Day #62
In case anyone is keeping track at home, today was actually 2 weeks long.
Also, Sean Spicer still hasn’t learned that he shouldn’t ask rhetorical questions:
The day was silo-ed into three main things, all of which were HUGE all by themselves. I’ve made you a visual aid.
I got really disheartened in the interlude between #4 and #5, also known as my commute home with menstrual cramps. I summoned courage by remembering the words of Congresswoman Maxine Waters. Weeks ago she flatly told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes that 1) She knows that Trump is impeachable, 2) She does not trust the Republicans in the House to do anything about it, and 3) We can trust John McCain and Lindsay Graham in the Senate because they are patriots.
I’m not going to get into the sources, or when it arrived, but I wanted to brief the Speaker, which is what I did this morning, and obviously I briefed, I put in calls to the directors, I’ve spoken to the CIA Director and the NSA Director, and I’m waiting to talk to Director Comey, and I’m going to head to the White House after the votes.
—Devin Nunes, chairman of the House Intelligence committee today.
Adam Schiff, ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, is not even on his list of people to talk to — and found about this at the same time the rest of us did.
More to follow on that, but first I want to give this NYT story some attention:
They should call that an act of terror.
There was also a terrorist attack in London today, near the parliament building.
AFTER THE JUMP: Questions reporters asked today to SEAN SPICER… DEVIN NUNES… and ADAM SCHIFF !!!! Lots of good questions in here about the healthcare bill too.
March 21, 2017… Day #61
Lisa Murkowski, a Republican Senator from Alaska:
Politico headline: Carbon tax debate exposed rift among Trump aides. (Spoiler alert: Gary Cohn, head of the National Economic Council, seems like a reasonable man who wants reasonable things to happen. Steve Bannon, not so much.) (parenthetical asides are my own).
It’s going around Twitter that Rex Tillerson didn’t want to be Secretary of State, but his wife told him that God wanted him to do it. This would explain why Tillerson is always quiet and low-energy and doesn’t care that the President is proposing cutting his department’s budget by 30%. His heart is not in it. And Mitch McConnell said cutting the State Department by that much was not gonna fly. So *someone* is looking out for Tillerson’s department. Meanwhile, good old Andrea Mitchell, shut out of the State Department plane because Tillerson says he doesn’t “need” media coverage, is flying separately and chasing Tillerson down all over the globe. Catching glimpses of him on his way to take naps.
To think of the sexist shredding Hillary would have endured if she talked about things like needing a good night’s sleep or being too fatigued to have dinner with the South Korean foreign minister.
Tillerson! We counted on you to be somewhat normal and awake! You’re letting us all the fuck down. I miss Mitt Romney. I believe he genuinely did feel called to serve.
In other news, Elizabeth Warren said maybe (just maybe) we shouldn’t be going forward with the confirmation process of Neil Gorsuch when the White House is being investigated by the FBI. Meanwhile, Gorsuch does his best to distance himself from Trump without speaking a perfect soundbite for the media.
Cosmopolitan headline: Ivanka Trump’s White House Gig Is an Insult to Working Women
The Wall Street Journal editorial on Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of Obama wiretap: “the President clings to his assertion like a drunk to an empty gin bottle”
My most optimistic take on our current situation is that we are going to hobble out on the other side of it gravely battered and diminished, and having lost people along the way. We’ll have lost rights that were hard-won and may not be won back in our lifetimes. Our elections will be less free. Our institutions will be weakened and corrupted. Our standing in the world will have dropped considerably. Our populace will be even less literate and less able to think critically. That’s what I think when I’m feeling optimistic.
When I’m not feeling optimistic, I just think Trumpism reigns supreme until climate change swamps us, then it’s gameover as we descend into violent tribalism over remaining resources.
It’s been a pleasure being in this national emergency with all of you. Goodnight.
Questions asked of Spicey today at the White House Press Briefing:
March 20, 2017… Day #6o
I think I will always be obsessed with government now, for the rest of my life, no matter what happens. They just cannot be trusted to hum along without our vigilance.
“What was Hillary Clinton’s role?”
—-Sean Spicer, spinning like a top after the FBI said it had been investigating the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia since last July
Very important C-span stuff that all happened today:
Other things in the news:
Reuters and CNBC reported that Rex Tillerson will skip a NATO meeting in early April, and visit Russia in late April.
Retired North Carolina police chief Hassan Aden detained for 90 minutes at the border because of his name (He was actually told that it was because of his name).
Ivanka Trump will get a West Wing office, security clearance, and a special communications device (??)
File this tragic injustice under Everything Is Political & Our Society is Rotten:
A friend snapped this in Seattle on her way to work this morning:
New York Magazine headline: Trump said to have political aides monitoring the loyalty of cabinet secretaries.
Guardian headline: No African citizens granted visas for African trade summit in California
Women dressed as handmaids from the creepy feminist Margaret Atwood classic filed into the Texas legislature to sit silently in rows in the balcony.
File under sign of the times, I guess:
“Being white is a helluva drug”
Questions reporters asked today (including some eye-opening and/or funny questions at the State Dept. press briefing–guys, we will NEVER live all this down):
March 19, 2017… Day 59
I read a Cracked article today about how people do change their minds, but they do it quietly, indirectly, sneakily. The author was formerly socially (and fiscally) conservative and believed homosexuality was a lifestyle choice and that black people were not as smart, among other things. She was sheltered in a conservative Christian community but she gradually changed her views and her political affiliation.
She said that being nice in comments sections makes a huge difference, because quiet, non-argumentative people are eavesdropping all the time. If you act in an upstanding way, they might be ever so slightly more willing to listen to your views, and over time little cracks can form in some of their beliefs.
What does it mean for you? If you’re persistent, and patient, and genuine, and reasonable, you’re probably making a difference already, even if no one will ever tell you so. The yellers and trolls will never stop yelling and trolling (they might even get louder), but that doesn’t mean nothing’s working. They’re not your targets. If you tune out the yelling, you might faintly hear the sound of popcorn crunching in the dark.
— Christina H. in Cracked
She also said that you’re more likely to influence someone who is near you on the political spectrum. If you seem like a mostly reasonable person who believes one “crazy” thing, rather than a person with a whole suite of different-seeming values, then you’re more likely to win someone over.
I’ve gone too far down the rabbit hole. I’m too angry and dialed in. I think a lot of people from my hometown AND my current workplace have unfollowed me on Facebook. I might have the pleasure of being called neoliberal and Republican-lite and corporatist from people to the left of me. But for all of that, I am probably too far to the left to seem viable to conservative voters.
But I have tried to be calm and courteous in comment threads. Because as much as we dump on comment sections, they are one of the few places where we talk about politics with people outside of our bubbles. I’ve often noticed a conservative person being non-defensive, calm, humble, polite, and measured. And I’ve thought, “I admire how that person is conducting themselves right now.” Not the falsely polite and “reasonable” way that some people are… that way that just riles you up and makes you MORE emotional, and you know that behind that person’s calm exterior they are smugly gleeful about how wound up you’re getting (people on both sides do that). No. There’s a real authentic type of conservative commenter who knows they don’t know everything and just has good manners online. Sometimes these people actually earnestly apologize when liberals snarkily correct their usage or spellings. (Liberals, this is one of the STUPIDEST things we do. I am begging you to stop.)
I saw the movie Moonlight today, and it is too beautiful to speak of casually. I thought the filmmakers were generous with hope at the end of their story. But it makes you imagine what it’s like to not be able to feel and express a full range of emotions, because of all that’s been done to you and everything you have had to survive since childhood. It’s the sort of movie that I don’t want to write a “take” on. Sometime I might write an essay or a story that’s my “response”to Moonlight but it won’t even be about Moonlight, and no one will know except for me that it was fueled by the film. To me that honors a work of art more than just talking about it as if you know all about it.
March 18, 2017… Day 58
I’m a little low on awareness of new news, which might be good for me. I’m sure Trump tweeted something humiliating and dangerous. I’ve been busy talking to people face to face in real life, instead of just being a captain of the inter webs like usual.
Last night I had a late, long, rainy-night dinner with an old friend who was passing through town. She was on her way back to Alaska after a weeklong training in Chicago for rural responders to sexual assault and domestic violence. She said the attendees were told they needed to incorporate anti-racism into everything they do in their work. It needed to be worked into all their community interactions. There was a lot of talk of white supremacy and how it works its way into all other societal ills. My friend said the women there were *really* rural. There were white women from Kansas, Oklahoma, Tennessee. A lot of them weren’t onboard with the premise that there is white privilege or institutional racism. The people leading the workshop worked with them, and then also worked with everyone else about how to meet people where they are. I felt pretty impressed and hopeful that those women *might* go back to their communities softened up to some new ideas about race and white supremacy. It seems like a start.
I asked my friend if she was worried that the funding to her organization would be cut–her job relies on federal grant money. She said yes, they’ve been worried about it since the election. They’d previously planned some travel and training spaced out over three years. But now they are front-loading as much training as possible, because even if the plug gets pulled later, at least they will have had that training.
I took two buses home late last night, after our dinner. Then this morning, I rolled out of bed and took two buses to an all-day anti-racism workshop. The workshop focused on how race and class are intertwined, and we can’t talk about one without the other. It was really good, really thought-provoking. During the workshop I kept thinking stuff like, “This isn’t so bad,” and “I’m really getting through this with no major difficulties!” Because I expected to be SO uncomfortable. But then on the bus ride home, my energy levels took a nose dive. I have to let some of those conversations from today breathe, and then I’ll be ready to write about them soon.I will say though, that 19 of the 22 people in the workshop were women. Shout out to women, doing that heavy lifting and emotional labor.
Ok, can’t resist. One end-times tweet-cap:
March 17, 2017… Day #57. It’s Friday.
I listened to the latest podcast episodes from 538 and Slate TrumpCast yesterday, and they both *really* irritated me.
On 538 they were all glib… first, like “Is the resistance to Trump losing steam?” and then, asking one another, “What could Trump do to quell the resistance?” Oh great, brainstorm for Trump!! Thanks guys. But I also had a visceral reaction to the woman on the podcasting team, who I think is Clare Malone. It wasn’t necessarily fair to her, and I know there was some kind of uncomfortable self-recognition at play. But she drove me NUTS. She kept making stupid jokes but not fully committing to them. So she would start to launch into it and then feebly curl away from her own joke. It was weak. It bothered me that the one woman on the podcast would be the one to do that. Stupid jokes should be done with joyful confidence, like a black lab jumping off a dock on a hot day. Men seem to know how to do that. But don’t start to make a stupid joke and then lose heart and pretend you were saying something smart but snide instead.
Speaking of snide, that was the whole problem with Virginia Heffernan on Slate’s TrumpCast. She was committed to tearing into Rachel Maddow for Rachel’s presentation of Trump’s 2005 tax form, beyond any usefulness at all. She was so in love with her own takedown that she ignored all the usual rules of writing for the ear, loading her sentences down with adjectives and barely giving herself space to breathe. It sounded smug, it was gross, and it reeked of internalized misogyny.
But shit, now we’re talking about internalized misogyny. I was really frustrated that I was so disgusted by the presentation of these two female podcasters, when I give the Pod Save America guys, the Vox guys and Michael Barbaro at The Daily every pass!
Was I trapped in some sickening ouroboros of internalized misogyny?
Since I was already so unsettled and deeply rubbed the wrong way, it felt like the time to listen to Tommy Vietor’s interview of Glenn Greenwald on Pod Save the World. I wanted to listen to be fair to Greenwald, but I was worried about getting too agitated. Perfect solution. I was already agitated.