July 20, 2017… Day 180
Wildest news day yet, in a long string of wild news days.
July 20, 2017… Day 180
Wildest news day yet, in a long string of wild news days.
July 19, 2017… Day 181
July 18, 2017… Day 180
Mitch McConnell said, “Ok, we’ll just vote on repeal then.” A critical handful of Republican senators said “nope.” I don’t remember it being this divided along gender lines–there must have been some men speaking too. But I like this tweet anyway:
Questions reporters asked Sarah Sanders today:
July 17, 2017… Day 179
Can we just stop and appreciate how well this headline encapsulates everything that is wrong with us?
In late-breaking news, the BRCA (Obamacare repeal/replace) is reportedly dead today, thanks to two more Republican defectors. All hail the non-craven decision-making. I hope they get some positive reinforcement and begin to like not being craven.
Apparently this is quite a blow to Mitch McConnell, who now says they’ll vote on just repeal.
Trump said this today
And then Sean Spicer massively contradicted it hours later, going back to a much earlier talking point. It was his first press briefing in three weeks. It was sort of like he was literally kept in the dark and they just bundled him out and didn’t give him enough time to catch up with the headlines before they sent him out there.
Press briefing off camera again.
This was from two months ago:
This is to counteract the first headline I put up, because these guys made me smile at the airport. They didn’t speak much English and wound up sitting next to a couple of little unaccompanied white kids at the back of the plane. By the end of the flight they all seemed to be pretty good friends.
White House press briefing. Questions for Sean.
July 16, 2017… Day 178
We lost one of our top people at just 40 years old:
Being in Silicon Valley among Stanford alums this weekend brought the social media stories of her death closer to home. She was about the same age as Donald Trump Jr., who people keep calling a kid.
And that’s about my age too. Imposter syndrome, begone! We can’t let the idiots have all the confidence when they are running the show and some of the brightest lights are winking out.
Meanwhile, when it comes to actual kids:
July 15, 2017… Day 177
Separated for the weekend from the Internet, Twitter, my phone except for furtive glances — in other words mixed up in a busy family household with small children — Washington, D.C. seems a lot farther away. But at the same time the consequences of everything seem much more shocking, because of these bright little hopeful faces. My sister and I tried to listen to Lovett or Leave It in the kitchen this morning while making breakfast, but the guests were getting too profane, and there were too many little kids wandering through interrupting, so we gave it. The main media I’ve taken is The Disney Channel’s Bizaardvark, which is pretty much my favorite show now.
Let us all get over imposter syndrome, as quickly as possible.
July 14, 2017… Day 176
The mere fact of blogging at the airport makes me feel like I’m winning at life. I’m off to see my sister, so the blog posts will be catch as catch can over the next few days. Now I remind myself of those people I used to make fun of on Twitter — small-time podcasters who were always apologizing if their latest episode was coming out a day late. Dude, nobody cares.
Remember: Nobody gets to have imposter syndrome in the age of Trump. Whatever it is you’re doing or want to do, that you don’t know if you’re qualified to do it — YOU’RE FINE. Do it. You’re fine. Although please make sure sidewalk tracheotomies are absolutely necessary.
This week’s reading assignment for my political essay class is a Mindy Kaling essay and a James Baldwin essay. Two very different tones. One in Glamour, short and breezy (but sincere). The other with long, dense paragraphs in New Yorker font running page after page.
I also have Al Franken’s book, Al Franken Giant of the Senate. And I have Kambri Crews’s autobiography, Burn Down the Ground. I’ve been feverishly into memoirs lately. Roxane Gay and Sherman Alexie are also in the queue.
How’s the news today? Well the news is bad. And outrageous. There are the big things and the small things. I listened to Masha Gessen on another podcast this morning. She is the world’s biggest buzzkill because she tells you everything that’s going on in the U.S. is worse than you thought, but also everything that’s giving you hope (see: the seeming gelling of the Russia story, and also Bob Mueller’s mere existence) is less hopeworthy than you thought. Basically, have fun living the rest of your life in a repressive autocracy, folks! But I respect the hell out of Masha Gessen. I feel like I need to spend a weekend with her to get this sorted out in my head. But is she fun? I don’t know. She’s mixed up in my head with The Nation guys and The Intercept bros and that’s an area of my head (and the Internet) where I don’t like to spend too much time.
And over at Fox News:
Press gaggle with Tom Bossert of Homeland Security today. The reporter is asking him about Trump’s tweet about a partnership with Russia on cybersecurity… and Bossert is walking that back while trying to not make the President sound off the wall for the tweet.
July 13, 2017… Day 175
July 12, 2017… Day 174
Today was dismal. Seeing Republican lawmakers act like everything is fine and normal. The shocking new news story already receding. Little belches of gross news returning to the fore.
I’ll add more post to this post tomorrow, including the briefing questions.
It’s been a big day! I started a political essay class, which means less time for blogging but also hopefully will mean that the blog starts to feel less like Grandma Lil’s Angry Vision Board and Scrapbook of Despair.
Update: Questions from reporters to SHS today:
July 11, 2017… Day 173
Each morning (most days), the White House Press Briefing used to appear on C-Span’s daily schedule of events around 7:30 or 8:00 my time — two or three hours before it was slated to begin. Now there’s no mention of it whatsoever beforehand. It’s just at some point later in the day, after the fact, after the audio embargo has been lifted, something like this will appear:
From the (conservative) National Review:
Breitbart London editor-in-chief:
Questions they asked SHS today:
July 10, 2017… Day 172
What do you think about the word “whistleblower”?
(April Ryan to Sarah Huckabee Sanders, in a question about the “leakers” in the White House. Vox wrote a think piece suggesting that the leak was intentionally done by the administration, for unknown reasons. And therefore not really a leak. But who knows. I liked that April Ryan asked that question to their face.)
An actual link on today’s main C-Span.com schedule:
Audio because no cameras in the briefing room again.
From FiveThirtyEight, which is a pretty sober bunch of data wonks:
The story is, not only did Don Jr. take Kushner and Manafort to a meeting with a Russian lawyer because she said she had dirt on Clinton… he actually received an email prior to that in which he was flatly told that the Russian government was running a campaign to interfere on Trump’s behalf to get him elected.
Republicans are looking straight into the camera and defending this. They are saying they would have done the same thing.
Meanwhile, in Axios, a right-leaning website:
Fox News pretends like everything is normal today, but has a Freudian tweet.
Trump made a dig at Chelsea Clinton this morning and she responded with her trademark cheery shade.
Questions they asked Sarah Huckabee Sanders today in an off-camera briefing:
July 4, 2017
I think since the Fourth of July is a travel day, that means I’ll be sidestepping the holiday altogether. It’s such a hot, dusty, crowded holiday sometimes and we’re sliding toward authoritarianism right now, so skipping it seems fine. But it doesn’t work out like that on the Coastal Starlight Amtrak train from Salem to Seattle.
By the time we cross the Columbia River and head up into Western Washington, I’ve abandoned my seat in coach and am stationed in the sightseeing car. On those big trains that come all the way up from L.A., the coach cars feel like dormitories. People are really camping out in there. There’s little babies, and odors, and sleeping bags. More than half of the curtains have been pulled shut. The sightseeing car is full of light and windows, with the seats facing out.
A couple of volunteer park rangers are narrating what we see out the windows. They have a lot of good information about rivers, the industrial stuff we pass, ships taking grain to Hong Kong, steel plants. Osprey nests. Local history. It’s a bit cheesy at times, but I enjoy the narration of the ride, and it’s kind of cute how many people are happy to be talked at by the old duffers in vests.
Different people sit around me and then depart. They half listen, half talk amongst themselves. A young man in head to toe Seahawks gear sits down awkwardly in the seat next to me for a while. I take him to be Middle Eastern. Two young Asian women across the aisle seem to just be getting to know each other. I catch snippets of their conversation. “It can be hard. Do your parents speak English?” “No, do yours?”
I’m half listening, half writing in my journal about my weekend at the coast. A little voice says, “Excuse me, but is anyone sitting here?” It’s a black girl of about 8 years old. She is wearing pink sweat pants and a grey sweatshirt with pink stars on it. She has many long black braids. She’s confident, she’s polite, she’s smiling. For the moment she’s unaccompanied by an adult. I tell her to sit down. She’s peering out the window but also keeps blatantly looking over at me writing. “Whatchu writin about?” she asks. I tell her, “Just my weekend. Stuff that happened.” She looks disappointed, like she doubted I had a very interesting weekend, and if it were her writing it would be something juicier.
A little while later, an older man comes in the car. I don’t take him for her grandpa at first because even though his skin is dark brown like hers, he has one long braid down his back and his facial features and body language remind me of the old Native guys in the town where I grew up. But he is her grandpa and they move a little further down the car to where there were two seats together. He is spare and stone-faced, with a ball-cap on and plain jeans and a t-shirt. He doesn’t react much to the girl and certainly not to anyone else around him, but she merrily fills the picture in. “Yes, this is my grandpa,” I hear her say to someone across the aisle. She’s turned around in her chair, long arms hanging off the back. “We go to the lake, but usually only when it’s good for fishing. We catch a lot of fish. And eat them.”
I remind myself not to stereotype. Just because he seems really Native American, that doesn’t mean he is. He’s just a travel weary guy with an inscrutable face. And the whole inscrutable face thing, that’s stereotyping too.
We pass a tree farm, and one of the volunteers is saying in the microphone, “This is a Christmas tree farm, but where on Earth do you think you could use a 30-foot tall Christmas tree?” The little girl’s hand shoots up. The old white guy points to her and she says, “IN A MANSION.” He says, “Well no, they just cut some of the branches off to make wreaths and the rest of the tree keeps growing.”
She turns back to the window, unfazed. She seems to know her answer was better than his. She seems pleased with herself, and reasonably sure others are pleased with her too. Not in a show-offy way, but just in a nice way.
I hear two people behind me talking. Their travel plans were both thrown off by the train derailment a couple of days earlier. They commiserate, and then start talking about other things. They both live in Seattle. The woman is white, in her late twenties or early thirties. I’d taken a peek at her earlier. I don’t know about the guy. He sat down after I looked last. I don’t want to look over and be obvious.
Then I hear her saying, “You know, that one, that loud-mouthed African woman.” I think, “Who can she be talking about?” and then realize she means Kshama Sawant, an Indian-American councilwoman. The woman is saying that raising the minimum wage to $15 has “ruined Seattle” and caused businesses to close their doors. The man she’s talking to says “Um… that’s all really… debatable.” The woman goes on to say that she herself got a pay bump when the minimum wage was raised, but she says it scornfully, like it was no good to her.
A man on the other side of them overhears the exchange and comes into the conversation. The two men are ignoring the woman now, choosing not in fact to have that debate. They are talking between themselves about volunteering for this or that Democratic state legislator’s campaign. They are both really well versed in the nuances of local politics.
The woman butts back in and says loudly, “Are you Hispanic?” The man sitting next to her says “Uh, no. Not at all.” She says “Ok, well I was just asking a question.” Then she says, “Where are you from, then?” He says, “I was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio.” He is keeping his voice more casual than she is, but I can hear a certain tension sliding in. I can’t take it anymore, and glance over. The young man she’s talking to is the one I’d seen before, the possibly Middle Eastern (?) man in Seahawks gear. “Ohhhh” I think, as it all slides into place.
We’re approaching Centralia now. The little girl is still engaged with the scenery, the narration, her braids, her neighbors, herself. Her grandpa is still staring straight ahead thinking unknowable thoughts and betraying no emotion whatsoever.
The guys at the front with microphones are saying, “Centralia was founded by George Washington. No, not that George Washington!” They go on to explain that George Washington was the son of “a white servant girl and an enslaved black man” in Wherever, USA. His mother was afraid he would be sold into slavery, so she begged some people going west to adopt her son and take him with them. The family moved farther and farther west and I think George was a young man by the time they got to Washington. Stories of his entrepreneurial pluck. His ingenuity. How much the town loved him. How he was honored when he died in 1905.
I’m thinking, “Well, this is told like such a happy ending, but it’s a tragedy that this guy’s mother had to give him away because of slavery.” I think of Charles Mudede’s criticism of Nicole Brodeur—writing as if only white people are reading. I figure that’s what we’re all doing all the time. That’s America for you. One long rolling micro aggression, just like this train ride.
The train stops at Centralia, and our car is blocking an intersection. Cars are stopped waiting for the tracks to clear. A white couple in white middle age walk up and stop there, waiting. I look at them and think, “So you live in a town that was founded by a black man. Huh. Looks like Trump country.” I have no idea. I’m just stereotyping. He’s kind of sweaty and ruddy with a beer gut under his t-shirt and mussed up hair and sunglasses. She’s prim in her culottes with her little bob. I have no idea. But they seem very white and they could be Trump voters.
Then they’re smiling and doing big waves and I look over and see that they’re responding to the little black girl in the sweat suit and braids. She’s cheesing for them through the window. She’s waving like she’s royalty and her subjects have flocked to the tracks to watch her roll through her kingdom. I look to see if her grandpa looks amused. He is stone-faced as ever. I think, “maybe he’s like this all the time, or maybe he’s just really sick of white people.” As the train continues to sit there, the couple and the little girl both get distracted, but then as we pull away, there is a last beaming, waving connection—this time initiated by the white man on the sidewalk, who cranes his head and tips forward and makes the girl laugh with his goofy waving.
We’re running along the coastline now, and there are people down on the beach, on the rocks, on boats, on docks with their legs dangling off – mostly white people. The volunteer guys call our attention to a small island out in the bay, Fox Island. They begin another historical story, about how there was an Indian war because the governor of Washington was going to put “four large tribes and one small tribe” on a reservation out on that tiny island. I hear that the old white guys are trying, that they are saying the governor was responsible for the war, they are saying the names of the individual nations. They are saying it’s ridiculous that someone was trying to put all those people on a reservation on such a little island.
I think “HOLD ON” that’s not a reservation, that’s internment.
And then the guy speaking says that the tribes lost that battle but they “kind of won the war” because they got larger, separate reservations.
HOW IS THAT WINNING.
God. White people!
HOW IS THAT WINNING.
South of Tacoma, the crowds get bigger, browner, more citified. From the train it looks like some idealized version of a happy, multiethnic, multicultural society. Hijabis strolling in the sun. Big latino (latinx?) families. Kids running around. Black women with big natural hair and flowy skirts, swishing in the breeze. It’s just everybody. And people look happy. Tweets from that morning’s Black Twitter flash before my eyes. What the Fourth of July means, has meant to black people. How people find a way to carve out their own meaning, find their own sources of joy.
I read Black Twitter, and maybe I’m a bit of a lurker for following so many great black women writers on Twitter and reading their blogs and think pieces. But I figure if I keep listening to them, maybe I’ll be ready just on the off chance that I write something someday that finds its way to one of them. Because I don’t want to write like only white people are reading, or talk like only white people are listening, or experience the U.S. like only a white person can.
July 9, 2017… Day 171
Ava goes first because she’s pithy and because there’s a new study that says women of color get short shrift on Twitter, and I quoted a shitload of white guys lower down in the round-up.
You don’t even have to know the specific thing she’s quote-tweeting. This is just the feeling after G-20.
News alert today:
When what they SHOULD be worrying about is the bears.
This morning I was so worried right off the bat by tweets/headlines that I examined how much of my three-year plan was completely dependent on living in a free society. I was thinking about things like net neutrality, health care, death of middle class, and cultural crackdown on media and the arts. None of it felt outlandish or alarmist. Basically my three-year plan is completely pointless, undoable, unsafe, and foolish in Trump’s America. So I’ll keep checking in with that. It’s not giving up, it’s not personal, it’s just knowing the environment you’re working in. In the meantime, I did my first writing assignment for a political essay class I just started.
Thinking Republicans were upset — the usual Never Trumpers, the Sometimes Critics, and even Marco Rubio (please take with deer-sized salt lick).
But then there’s the rest of the Republicans.
When the backdrop is so grim, anything that makes you feel like you’re not crazy is reassuring, even if it’s bad news. Any bad news that feels like it will push through to a breaking point that leads to airing out and sanity — that’s welcome. It’s a push toward honesty and having things out on the table. Knowing what we’re dealing with. Someday agreeing on basic facts again.
So that was this today:
Poor Mosul has been through such hell, but there is this:
And the Trumpsters can’t stop this country from becoming more Latin American and more Latin influenced. Not yet anyway. Song of the summer.
McCain could be exaggerating to lull everyone into a false sense of security, but:
Last word, from this gent:
July 8, 2017… Day 170
Thirsty for good news? Well, I’m not really, but a doctor sent me to a massage therapist for my screwed-up neck muscles and then the massage therapist told me that the muscles across my upper back are so tense they feel like bone and then she asked me if I was going through a major life event. Which I’m not. So let’s do good news and then drink some lymphatic support tea or something.
Health care shit show looking less likely:
Robert Mueller is an adult American who is good at his job:
In South Africa:
Alaska, babies, and Obama!
Also, Merkel. Just Merkel:
July 7, 2017… Day 169
Good news. Healthcare bill still not going well for Republicans.
And Malala popped up to say hello to Twitter. It was her last day of high school.
Questions from today’s press briefing by Tillerson and Mnuchin on the G20: