Holy. Moly. When is a bombshell THE bombshell? I’m so tired and confused.
When I was still in bed this morning, I saw Trump’s tweets about his absolute right to share information with Russia. That made me want to throw up. The President getting comfortable with being an autocrat.
Still windmilling, still don’t know which way things are going. Because they’re consolidating power even as they are imploding. And the Republicans just let them do it. What the hell is happening.
H.R. McMaster barks at reporters on camera. It is sad to see H.R. McMaster debase himself so utterly. Later in the day, Sean Spicer sounds wan and haggard off camera. No more bids for chuckles.
Then we find out that James Comey has memos about all his interactions with Trump, including the time Trump suggested the FBI just let the Flynn thing go, and the time that Trump suggested that the FBI lock up reporters.
“This is it,” said my friend at work, who was once a Republican. I said I hoped so but I was too jaded. Also, all this damage and severe Republican fuckery doesn’t get undone just by getting rid of Trump. Could just be part of our merry tumble into autocracy or theocracy?
It came out that it was Israel. And that the Russian reporter who “tricked” his way into the oval office reported it in Russia, and that now a spy’s life is in danger in Isis-held territory.
And then it felt like the wheels were starting to come off, at least according to congressional twitter.
So I don’t know. But I hear it’s nothing but shouting, screaming, and cursing all over the West Wing tonight.
This last week before day 100 is dizzy. Day 100 is also potential government shutdown day to boot. It’s like this circus doesn’t realize I’m trying to hold down a job, maintain relationships, and get better at sleep hygiene.
Crawling toward Day 100. It used to seem like every day was 10 days. Now it’s down to about two days per day. When I found out Trump was going to win, the first thing I cried for was the fact that I didn’t want to see his face or hear his voice any more. I hadn’t realized how desperate I was for him to be shuffled out of my daily eyeshot and earshot. And in that moment, I didn’t think I could bear another day of Trump on national television, let alone Trump as President. Well, I’m fucking stronger now. We all are.
Trump also didn’t seem to know or remember that Kim Jong Il and Kim Jong Un were different people.
Four years ago, in tweets, Trump seemed to have a better handle on things.
“You got a fly on your head.”
—John Roberts to Sean Spicer during today’s White House Press Briefing
Questions they asked Sean Spicer today at the WHPB:
“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 Senateintelligence 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:
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.
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:
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.
Amy Siskind is doing a great job of writing a list of strange things happening, changing, and shifting in the U.S. since the election. I want to print them all out and put them in a three-ring binder. And also I should pick up a copy of that book that helps you skip the middle ages and get back to 19th century technology if everything goes totally blammo.
Things don’t seem to be going great for Rex Tillerson in Korea. He’s got one lone reporter with him. His budget got cut almost as much as the EPA.
The budget has been a ghastly spectacle today. Mick Mulvaney and Sean Spicer, feeling plucky and Irish throughout, managed to be so blatantly, cheerfully heartless on live television. It’s all been trending on Twitter all night. Stuff like feeding poor children and the aged. Stuff like that. Terrible optics. I don’t know. I’m in a real “we’re all gonna die” mood, but before I go, I’m going to write about podcasts and the White House Press Briefing.
“Sean, wait, listen–can we put it to REST, Sean ?!”
–a reporter to Sean Spicer as he left the Briefing Room without giving any reasonable answers on what the hell is the deal with Trump’s wiretapping claims.
Oh yeah, I have to tell you that the White House Press Corp was kept jammed in their tiny room in a state of readiness for over an hour, waiting for Sean Spicer to keep his appointment with them. Fifteen minutes before the briefing was supposed to start, the House and Senate Intelligence committees released their bluntly worded statement that they did not believe there was surveillance of any kind of Trump Tower, before or after the election.
I had C-span running and one earbud in, but had minimized the screen and was just doing my work. I lost track of time so was really surprised when I looked up and realized that 42 minutes had gone by since the briefing was supposed to start and everyone was still just in the room waiting.That’s when I brought the screen back up and started paying attention.
42 minutes— reporters standing at the front communicating with their networks. They are talking about a Spicer call earlier today on the conservative Laura Ingraham talk radio show, trying to intuit what he would say about the intelligence committees and what was going on behind the closed door of the briefing room.
There’s also talk of college basketball and brackets.
50 minutes— John Roberts’s cell phone rings, and the ring tone is “I want it all” by Queen and everyone bursts into laughter.
Someone sings a few bars in a low alto–it sounds like a spiritual.
A hush falls on the room, and then a semi-maniacal, half-stifled giggle rises up.
Someone yawns loudly.
53 minutes— Peter Alexander is standing at the front, facing the camera and saying to his network, “I wouldn’t be surprised if he puts it back on the media today,” and then later, “I think he’ll probably come out and say something scripted.”
54 minutes— the room looks so small, so cramped. No one has even updated them.
55 minutes–they’ve started to talk about how their phones are dying, and beginning to look into the outlet situation.
56 minutes— a woman’s voice saying “everybody stretch.”
57 minutes— the sound of something falling with a thud and a woman groans. It’s starting to feel like they are trapped in an elevator.
58 minutes— a man’s voice, gasping “wa-a-a-a-t-er…. w-a-a-a-a-ah-ah-ah-ter.” Someone’s reading a physical newspaper cover to cover.
59 minutes–“Can we order a pizza?”
60 minutes–Peter is talking to NBC again and saying, “I think we can presume that they’re formulating what they’ll say” and then “…increasingly appearing to be a made-up claim.”
61 minutes–Jim Acosta is saying to the CNN audience, “I’m not sure if they’re trying to run out the clock or what.”
Somebody hums “Final Countdown”
And then the briefing started. I will add in the Mick Mulvaney budget stuff later.
Today there was an Executive Order signed that called for reorganization, possibly elimination, of each and every federal agency. Yeah it sounds wild, but here’s a chunk of it:
The CBO “scored” the Republicans’ repeal and replace bill and said that 14 million people fewer would have health insurance by 2018, and 24 million fewer would be insured by 2026. Leading up to today, Republicans have been trashing the non-partisan CBO because they weren’t expecting to like the report.
Today at midnight was the deadline for the DOJ to send information to the House Intelligence Committee on the wiretapping allegation by the President. A couple hours ago, the DOJ sent a letter requesting more time.
I’m overwhelmed and Sean Spicer’s press briefing was a humdinger, so let’s cut to that: