TOWOIT #72

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:

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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:

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Obviously it cracked me up when I noticed that the C-Span tab read “Nothing Problematic”

 

From Politico:

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The greatness of this is that I swear to god that he consciously transitioned from saying “unbelievable” all the time to saying “phenomenal”

OK, here’s the straight skinny. Questions asked of Sean Spicer at the press briefing today:

Continue reading TOWOIT #72

TOWOIT #71

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Side note — this is a good illustration why maybe you should just use numerals in your text. Maybe it’s not classy? Who knows, just do it!

 

BREXIT BEGINS.

 

Questions the reporters asked Sean Spicer today:

Continue reading TOWOIT #71

TOWOIT #66

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.

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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:

Continue reading TOWOIT #66

TOWOIT #65

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:

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The day was silo-ed into three main things, all of which were HUGE all by themselves. I’ve made  you a visual aid.

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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:

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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.

Continue reading TOWOIT #65

TOWOIT #64

March 21, 2017… Day #61

Lisa Murkowski, a Republican Senator from Alaska: 

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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

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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.

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Questions asked of Spicey today at the White House Press Briefing:

Continue reading TOWOIT #64

TOWOIT #63

March 20, 2017… Day #6o

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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:

  • At the House: Comey & Rogers go to public hearings about the Russia investigation
  • At the Senate: Gorsuch begins confirmation hearings for Supreme Court
  • At the White House: Amazing double-speak and doubling-down by Sean Spicer
  • At the State Dept: Press secretary grilled about China, Germany and the Koreas
  • Also at the White House: Trump meets with Iraqi Prime Minister
  • In Louisville, Kentucky: Trump holds yet ANOTHER “Maga Rally”

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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).

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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:

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you can guess the rest of that headline.

A friend snapped this in Seattle on her way to work this morning:

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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.

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File under sign of the times, I guess:

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“Being white is a helluva drug”

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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):

Continue reading TOWOIT #63

TOWOIT #60

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.

Continue reading TOWOIT #60

TOWOIT #59

March 16, 2017…. Day #56

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.
Whispering
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.

Questions asked of Sean Spicer today:

Continue reading TOWOIT #59

TOWOIT #58

March 15, 2017… Day 55

DUTCH ELECTIONS — The “far right” candidate got far fewer votes than expected, and we all breathe a sigh of relief. Looking anxiously toward France now.

“The Senator from Kentucky is now working for Vladimir Putin”

—–John McCain, referring to Rand Paul.

Rachel Maddow getting dragged for doing a 20-minute A-block that provided context. The truth is, her tweet from about one hour before her show did make it sound like she might have more than 2 pages from 2005. But anyone who really CARED that much would have a) seen a clarification from other sources minutes later on Twitter, tempering expectations, and b) could have cut to other sources before her first segment was over, because it was in several places. So nobody was deprived of anything, deceived or made to suffer. People are just the worst, basically.

Senator Chuck Grassley says no vote on the Deputy Attorney General until the Department of Justice coughs up some kind of evidence on what Trump’s wiretapping claims were all about. Later in the day, Lindsay Graham said the FBI contacted his Senate committee to say they would be sending over information in the near future, and they would deal with things in a classified manner.

“Do you talk to anyone before you tweet? Is there anyone in the White House who can say to you, Mr. President, please don’t tweet that, who you would listen to?”

—-Tucker Carlson, interviewing Donald Trump

A federal judge in Hawaii freezes Trump’s second travel ban, the day before it was supposed to go into effect.

Trump has a campaign rally in Nashville. They chant “lock her up” after he makes a barb at Hillary Clinton. He says a bunch of legally unwise stuff about the travel ban and his intent.

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Rex Tillerson went to Asia with one (1) reporter only.

Republican Devin Nunes and Democrat Adam Schiff, both on the House Intelligence Committee, hold a joint press briefing. They both say there’s no evidence of wire-tapping, but they say it very differently. I’m going to re-watch it on C-span. Schiff basically implies at one point that Nunes is a Trump apologist.

James Mattis gets denied on his pick for a top appointee at the Department of Defense, because the White House signaled they would not fight for her confirmation. She was an ambassador to Egypt during two years of the Obama administration. Multiple other DoD hopefuls have fallen away, declining to go forward with the process.

Trump cuts funding to Meals on Wheels. The optimistic view on our situation is that we hobble out greatly diminished with a lot of dearly beloveds.

The consequence-challenged carry on:

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The former President of Estonia, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, testified before a Senate subcommittee today, on Russian interference and hacking. He speaks impeccable, unaccented English, is completely fluent in technological terms and issues, and seems way smarter than most of our lawmakers (and definitely Trump). Especially in light of the election in the Netherlands today–is the U.S. just an especially stupid country?

Continue reading for a bite-sized personal essay about John Phillips Souza and small-town politics:

Continue reading TOWOIT #58

TOWOIT #56

March 13, 2017… Day 53

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:

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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.

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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.

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Fox News reporter who usually lobs softballs asks Sean Spicer, “Is it our job to be nice?”

I’m overwhelmed and Sean Spicer’s press briefing was a humdinger, so let’s cut to that: 

Continue reading TOWOIT #56

TOWOIT #53

March 10, 2017…Day 50!!

The 2018 mid-term elections are NOT that far away. If you got engaged right now, you *might* not get married until the fall of 2018. That is, if you were fancy people, unlike my people who get married at the justice of the peace on short notice for insurance reasons, and take Folger coffee cans to crematoriums to retrieve family ashes.

GETTING IN AND OUT OF HERE: The band Soviet Soviet was supposed to play a live concert on air at KEXP this morning but they had to cancel that, along with SXSW and their whole American tour. As they tried to get into the country from Italy they were separated, interrogated for hours in small rooms, and had their phones taken away. They had all their papers in order, had carefully planned ahead. Their American record label had all its ducks in a row. After being questioned, they were handcuffed and taken to jail in a police car like criminals, made to spend the night in jail, and sent back to Italy. They weren’t given their phones or their belongings back until right before they got on the plane. They were humiliated and relieved to get away from the U.S. Meanwhile, Muhammad Ali’s son said he was detained at the airport AGAIN. An American-born American citizen. It’s not about a travel ban — it has nothing to do with an executive order (which doesn’t even go until effect until March 16). It’s just all around fuckery at the borders. Agents throwing their weight around and being huge dicks to everyone, and especially racist huge dicks to people of color and Muslims. Tonight the AP is reporting that a Wisconsin judge is blocking enforcement of the new executive order for a Syrian woman and her three year old daughter. I’m starting to feel like the wall will be built just as much to keep us in as to keep other people out.

Five states are now suing the Trump administration over the new executive order.

GREENWALD STILL STUCK IN MY CRAW: Why should I believe Glenn Greenwald over other people? I don’t know why he sticks in my craw so badly. Maybe because I think he’s smart, and a lot of people I admire — smart people with integrity — believe in him. So, I have to acknowledge that Glenn Greenwald might be right and the rest of us might be wrong. But I also remember three things 1) Glenn Greenwald is invested in the idea that the intelligence agencies are sinister, 2) Glenn Greenwald’s ego is invested in his own idea of himself as a contrarian, and 3) so many women of color, and black women in particular — community leaders, thought leaders, artists, thinkers, organizers, activists — declared MONTHS ago that they have had it with Glenn Greenwald and his way of looking at the world. And I don’t know why he would be right and they would be wrong.

SEATTLE FUCKERY: “Holocaust is Fake History” spray painted on Capitol Hill synagogue in Seattle. The esses are dollar signs .The synagogue is choosing to leave it exposed for now.

When is it, when a former President’s spillover ends and the new President stands on his own merit? When does that happen?

–April Ryan to Sean Spicer today.

WHERE’S THE BASELINE? I ONLY RECENTLY STARTED CARING THIS MUCH: I can’t tell what’s normal and what’s not normal, because I’m just paying attention for the first time. Dismissing 46 U.S. attorneys seems to be fairly normal. Except maybe when you don’t have their replacements lined up. Calling Dana Boente and Rosenstein personally to ask them to stay on seems a little strange — but I don’t know? The State Department asking the medical examiner not to release the cause of death of the Russian ambassador to the U.N. seems strange, but again — I don’t know? The world is so full of procedural ins and outs that we normally don’t need to pay attention to.

Speaking of not paying attention — on the radio this morning. NPR’s David Greene was asking David Urban, who was a former advisor to the Trump campaign, about the healthcare repeal and replace legislation. Greene was saying, was there something a bit odd or contentious or rushed about the way this bill was going through committees in the middle of the night?

URBAN: I think, look, we’re not there yet. You know, the old saying is you don’t want to watch sausage or legislation being made, and so avert your eyes, America.

GREENE: You’re telling Americans not to pay attention to this debate?

The White House Press Briefing was disturbingly jocular today. Lots of chuckles, laughing, jokes and banter. But most disturbing was when Sean Spicer said that Donald Trump said the economic data used to be fake but it’s real now (strong jobs numbers came out today). The reporters just laughed like “Oh Uncle Donald” and moved on. I listened to the press briefing this morning at work and it stuck with me all day. When I got home and looked at Twitter, I saw I wasn’t alone in that.

Questions the reporters asked Sean Spicer at the briefing today:

Continue reading TOWOIT #53

TOWOIT #52

March 9, 2017… Day 49

Matthew Yglesias tweets: “There’s been a lot of —news— since the election, but  not much has changed (yet) in non-immigrants’ lives.”

Hawaii has sued the Trump administration for the new travel ban. Washington and Oregon are joining together in another law suit.

Chilling that reporters keep asking if immigration detainees will be sent to Guantanamo.

Alaska’s Republican Senators are speaking out against budget cuts that would decrease U.S. Coast Guard presence in the Arctic.

EPA Director Scott Pruitt casts doubt on the science on climate change. The word science is also removed from EPA language about clean air and clean water standards. We are beyond screwed.

Chief Medical Officer of Medicaid tweets: “Despite political messaging from others at HHS, I stand with the experts from @aafp @AmerAcadPeds @AmerMedicalAssn in opposition to #AHCA.”

I listened to a lot of podcasts today as I tried to understand the new healthcare bill, the AHCA. The best explainer I got was from Vox’s podcast, The Weeds. One thing I keep noticing now, is how tricky it is to not have a basis of comparison. I hadn’t paid close attention to public policy for years and years. Now I have to scramble to understand the baseline against which the current events are strange. I think of all the people brand new to politics who haven’t tried to understand context, both on the left and the right.

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There’s just too much for anyone to cope with. This chronicling exercise is something that helps me feel more sane, and isn’t much more than scrapbooking. Everything is flying past me all day, and I don’t know what to write about or try to pin down. They say as activists, we need to pick an issue and specialize, or we won’t be effective (or we’ll just go round the bend).

I’m going to try to pay more attention to local and state issues, as a place to start. Alaska issues too. I think that climate change is what’s going to come down the pike — in such a big way that it will take over public attention completely. But I’m fascinated with everything. And if we are going to go down, I just want to do it with integrity, and not be selling out the less fortunate on my way out the door.

I can’t believe the Russian thing is nothing. Masha Gessen says that we are only imagining that there are dots to connect. I don’t know what her angle is. She’s a Putin critic and a journalism expert. I think she’s fantastic. But to me, the dots seem like part of our national emergency — just a piece of it. But it’s an ongoing emergency that spreads out into all the agencies and how this country conducts itself at home and abroad. And how it treats people, and how it dismantles its own institutions.

More U.S. troops bound to Afghanistan today, as Marines arrive in Syria.

Rex Tillerson heads to Asia.

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There’s a clip of Andrea Mitchell forcefully trying to ask Rex Tillerson questions at a photo op. Staff is pushing her back, physically backing her out of the room as she keeps calling out questions to him. This was before the two State Department press briefings this week–the first since Tillerson took over. I still have to watch those on C-Span. But the questions she asked were powerful, even without answers. Or maybe they were especially powerful in their unanswered form.

  • Mister Secretary, China has said there will be consequences for the deployment of anti-missile defenses in South Korea. Can you respond–can you respond–Mister Secretary can you respond to the threats from China?
  • Mister Minister are you sure the Trump administration will be strong against Vladimir Putin?
  • Can you assure us that Russia will not be able to move farther into Ukraine

She also asked Rex Tillerson when he thought he would have a deputy, and whether he was concerned about the steep budget cuts to his department.

This is why I include the list of questions from Sean Spicer’s press briefings. The questions are powerful and fascinating (I mean, when they aren’t lame and bullshitty), and I’m interested in how the reporters do or don’t work together to try to get at answers. You learn a lot of information from the framing of questions, about where things stand on any given day–and then Sean Spicer’s answers are implied in the follow ups and the back and forth. Spicer’s answers are interesting also, of course–as obfuscating and garbled as they tend to be–but I watch the press briefings specifically for the press. Important bits and piece that I’ve left out of my own round-up will show up in the questions asked of Sean Spicer.

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Hallie Jackson, bane of Sean Spicer’s existence

Reporters’ questions from today:

Continue reading TOWOIT #52

TOWOIT #50

March 7, 2017… Day 47

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I showed up on the TV news, behind the woman being interviewed about ACA repeal. That’s me in the black and white jacket, at Pramila Jayapal’s town hall. I’m not sleeping.

Only 7% of the Marine Corps are women. And some of the men have been sharing nude photos of female recruits. Everything is terrible.

I am still wending my way through the long New Yorker article on the new Cold War. I’ve only been reading a few paragraphs a day, but I’ll get there.

While I was waiting for Jayapal’s town hall to start, I saw a Masha Gessen article online, saying that the Russia-Trump story is just a web of delusional thinking by Democrats. It sort of crushed me. Glenn Greenwald says the same thing all the time, but I stopped trusting him quite a while ago. Gessen, I’ve had more respect for. It’s not specific to the Trump-Russia issues, necessarily. It’s not that I thought everything was going to be magically cleared up if the investigation went through. I’d been halfway assuming that the whole thing would be successfully buried and would blow over, and Trump would go on to make it through his term just fine. But after all the shit we’re going through psychologically, to have someone I trust tell me now, at this point, that I’m delusional for thinking Russia is worth investigating–I don’t know, this is just more cruel shit.

Anyway, I’m a Russophile, not a Russophobe. I grew up loving Russian novelists, and the idea of Russian soul. My grandparents went to the Soviet Union in the mid-1980s as tourists and brought us back Russian books and toys. I grew up in what used to be Russian-America, on an island named after a Russian. I nerded out in middle school on the history of the fur trade and the eastward adventuring of the promyshlenniki. My friend’s aunt ran off to Vladivostok with a Russian sea captain. I took Russian language classes in my 20s just utterly for the hell of it.

On a separate but related note, I saw this sandwich board outside of a Russian bakery today, and it seemed extra touching to me.

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Although I regret that they bowed to pressure to use a “ya” as a cutesy backward R.

Wikileaks — CIA — hacking tools. I don’t know, man. I don’t know. I suppose I’ll care less about privacy violations when climate change really starts closing in.

Rosenstein & Brand hearings for deputy and associate (assistant?) attorney general. Freighted with importance because of Jeff Sessions. Brand won’t answer on climate change — she repeatedly and pointedly wouldn’t say that there is a public interest in combating climate change. Franken and Grassley back and forth on Jeff Sessions, which took on a life of its own. Franken was really upset and kept saying that Sessions needs to come back to the Senate and explain himself.

Jason Chaffetz iPhone gaffe. That people might just have to prioritize health care over personal electronics. Republicans to poor people, essentially “hurry up and die already.” WTF.

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At Sean Spicer’s press briefing, he showed that he has figured out how to sound consistently regretful about hate crimes. At least against Jews. All 100 Senators calling for Trump to take some kind of action against anti-Semitism.

Questions for Sean Spicer at his first on-camera press briefing in 8 days:

Continue reading TOWOIT #50

TOWOIT #45

March 2, 2017… Day 42

KUOW: A black Muslim teen is found hanging in some woods near Seattle.

Elsewhere: A 22-year old woman who was brought here from Argentina when she was 7 was arrested right after a press conference. She spoke at the press conference about her father and brother who have been detained since mid-February. She was arrested right afterward by ICE. I believe ICE employs people who relish throwing their weight around and hurting other people.

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Session recuses himself from the investigation of Trump campaign ties to Russia. The White House discloses that Kushner and Flynn met with the Russian ambassador at the Trump tower in December.

Basically it was a hell of a day for all these zany white guys on C-Span:

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Two of my co-workers take their kids to play basketball at a Jewish Community Center that recently had a bomb threat. One of them thinks Trump’s speech was pretty good and he has some good points when it comes to the economy. The other one stood out in October by saying firmly during an equivocating semi-Trumpy comfy white guy convo, “Trump disqualified himself months ago because of his racism.”

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