April 8, 2017… Day 79

The story about Trinh Huynh has been picked up by Shaun King and the Love Life of an Asian Guy. Both crossed my Facebook feed this morning.


And in the comments, I saw how a conspiracy theory crosses over into the mainstream. The following question-and-answer pattern played out several times in both comment threads, with different players.


I didn’t want to assume that I knew more than these people. I almost commented “that’s a conspiracy theory” but then I didn’t. Better not to engage, I thought. There were also right-wing trolls saying nasty things in both threads. 

I went back and looked at the latest available news stories. There was nothing about her being connected to anything related to the bridge collapse. Nothing anywhere remotely reputable. Only on small suspect blogs and conspiracy theorist sites. But now it’s entering the wider zeitgeist..

I hope this nonsense isn’t affecting her sister, my friend Dao. On Facebook I see Dao working hard to focus on celebrating Trinh. She is showing so much strength and grit as she forces joy and love to the foreground for this weekend of Trinh’s memorial. They’re holding it outdoors at a botanical garden. And everyone is encouraged to wear bright colors and fun clothing. I need to write Dao a letter soon, about my memories of her and Trinh, about their sisterhood. It’s times like these, I’m relieved I made it to someone’s wedding, or very sorry I didn’t make it. I did make it to Dao’s wedding. Having witnessed a wedding ceremony and mingled with an extended family on the dance floor afterward, you feel like you have credibility to say, “I care about the matters of your heart. I care about your whole family.”

I hope it’s not disrespectful to talk about Trinh here. I won’t hashtag her name again–I did it one time, and now this little blog is mixed in with the creeps on Google Search results, and I don’t want that. I won’t hashtag her, but I will talk about her. I want to be more like her. And I feel a responsibility to love life and the people in it more clearly, more obviously, and with fewer muddy exasperations blocking that channel.

Something about Susan Rice:

Screen Shot 2017-04-08 at 11.15.28 AM
Excerpt of an essay written by Jennifer Palmieri

I’m listening to S-Town. Literally now, as I type this. I’m in the middle of Chapter 3. It’s all just unfolding for me, and I don’t want to say something that will be a spoiler to someone else. I do think it’s best to go in without knowing much.

The podcast was sold to me by co-workers who told me it would be a healthy break from my obsession with news and politics. But I didn’t want a break from news and politics. Then I saw a Facebook friend who is steeped in political awareness say that S-Town should be required listening for everyone in the U.S. She said “Humanity can be found everywhere.” The podcast takes place in a small Alabama town. S-town stands for Shit Town. And it is a podcast for this time in this country, I think. In a strange way. Things are still developing. I’m amazed that anyone thinks this podcast would count as a break from what’s going on in the country. It *is* our country. And like I say, everything is political.

Update (several hours later): Just finished the last episode of S-Town. It’s just too sad, guys. I rescind my recommendation.

Screen Shot 2017-04-08 at 5.39.52 PM
CNN headline today
Screen Shot 2017-04-08 at 5.42.44 PM
I’m lost on how to think of Jared and Ivanka — is it possible we ARE so generally screwed that we have to hope for their influence? Or are they just terrible?

Screen Shot 2017-04-08 at 6.08.10 PM



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


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.

Screen Shot 2017-03-15 at 5.55.34 PM

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:


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