TOWOIT #233: What Happened Day

September 12, 2017… Day 236

Today, they arrived: What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton and Unbelievable, by Katy Tur (who covered the Trump campaign for NBC).

In the under-the-radar, “actually-I’m-not-that-crazy-about-Bernie” corners of the leftwing Internet, there’s a buzz of energy surrounding the release of What Happened. What people don’t understand about the women and men who supported Hillary is that the book’s release has turbocharged their commitment to what they were already committed to and talking about. Most immediately, with everybody’s eyes on 2018, those topics are voting rights, voter enfranchisement, voter registration, and voter turnout. Because they are about that action.

I have a deliberate schedule to follow for the next year to maintain my work, classwork, writing, sanity and health. There’s sleep hygiene involved, there’s deliverable dates for finishing book chapters. There are final exams and there are important dates when the big boss is in town. There’s family stuff too. And a boyfriend. But now I know I need to work activism back in more than it has been, because when the election happened I considered every marginalized young person as my young person and I felt responsibility to do my best on their behalf. And I still have to do that.

I also know though, that I have to write like hell. Even when I’m tired and I don’t feel like it. Because I said yes to writing in order to run headlong in the direction of my innate abilities and inclinations. Activism and organizing are not in the direction of my innate abilities and inclinations. They’re the opposite, and I’m going to do some of that stuff anyway. But saying yes to writing will curb my time and energy for activism. So all writing has to be Hell Yes writing. There can be no dilly-dallying in this matter. No dawdling. No equivocating.

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(this decaf Americano is having a dangerous placebo effect on me)

I have barely begun to look at either of these books, but I’m already energized.

Hillary Clinton’s and Katy Tur’s author’s notes start out similarly. In What Happened, Hillary writes, “This is my story of what happened.” In Unbelievable, Katy writes, “This is a true story. It is also my story, which makes it a work of memory.”

Flip to the beginning of the next section a few pages later, and Hillary writes, “Deep breath. Feel the air fill my lungs.” It is Trump’s inauguration day, January 20, 2017.

Flip a couple pages to the beginning of Katy’s next section, and she writes, “I’m about to throw up.” It’s late on election night — November 8, 2016 — and a fellow reporter has just told her that Trump is going to continue to do rallies. Victory rallies.

These women felt it in their bodies. That’s the way I felt it — a lot of us did. It was a body blow. We were holding our breaths, waiting for an abuser-figure to finally fade away after a long year of Trump on television, Trump on the radio, Trump invading our nightmares. And instead we knew he would be everywhere, in everything. For years. And not just on television. He would be fucking with our very worlds.

And that’s why I want to hear what Hillary Clinton and Katy Tur have to say about what happened last year.

TOWOIT #230

September 7, 2017… Day 231

My cousin in Florida is preparing her bedroom closet as her hideaway during Irma. Food, water, flashlights, batteries. Hopefully some comic books to keep spirits high. Maybe that description just made me think of Calvin & Hobbes. Or maybe it’s just me acting Calvin&Hobbesian by putting three novels in my backpack for camping this weekend. “We can stay out here for weeks!” I’m a little concerned about the fires because they seem to be everywhere, just outside city limits. My friends-who-know-what-they’re-doing are not concerned though.

I stared at this photo for a long time, trying to gauge the distance and the casualness.

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TOWOIT #181

July 20, 2017… Day 180

Wildest news day yet, in a long string of wild news days. Before plunging into the fray of headlines, I would just like to note that Mick Mulvaney brought visual aids to today’s off-camera press briefing.

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and yet…

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Questions reporters asked Sarah H. Sanders today (off-camera, embargoed audio):

Continue reading TOWOIT #181

TOWOIT #172

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:

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From the (conservative) National Review:

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Breitbart London editor-in-chief:

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Questions they asked SHS today:

Continue reading TOWOIT #172

TOWOIT #149

June 14, 2017… Day 146

A random picture of Maxine Waters, who looks really pretty in that color:

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Mueller (and therefore Rosenstein) live to see another day:

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This is on the White House splash page, and I for one plan to comply:

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This is splashed on the Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C.:

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The transcript of yesterday’s off-camera press gaggle surfaced today. Here are the questions reporters asked Sarah Huckabee Sanders:

  • Is the President considering whether or not he will fire or seek to have Robert Mueller fired as the Special Counsel?
  • Did the President watch any of the Jeff Sessions testimony? And what did he think?
  • Sarah, did the President call the GOP healthcare bill “mean” during his lunch with senators today?
  • Has the President authorized Secretary of Defense Mattis to set troop levels in Afghanistan?
  • Sarah, the North Koreans sent back a university student who’s in a coma. What does the President think about the fact that this young man is in a coma?
  • Can you give us a little bit more detail on that? What do you mean when you say he worked hard with Tillerson? I know this all sort of came to a head, I guess, on June 6th when the United States was informed about his condition.  But can you give us some detail about meetings or discussions or what the President had?
  • Sarah, the President has said he wants the Republican healthcare plan to be more generous. What does he mean by that?
  • Sarah, he said that in public.
  • That was in a pool report.
  • There has also been talk that a senate bill could even be coming out tonight. Is the President — so far, when he heard from all these senators today, is he happy with the direction that the Senate Republicans seem to be going in? Is he pushing them to be more generous on preexisting conditions? Or — you know, where does he stand in relation to the Senate bill?
  • Sarah, do you have any more details on the announcement that’s expected on Friday about changes to Cuba policy? What parts of the Obamacare administration’s policy is the President planning to roll back? And what is he planning to announce in Miami?
  • Just to follow up on that, you mean there’s no final decisions? Or you just don’t have them to provide for us?
  • But he is going down there despite the fact that no final decision —
  • Has the President decided when he’s going to announce whether he has tapes of the Comey conversations?
  • What are the President’s feelings on Mueller at this point? Did he interview him for FBI director? And does he have confidence in him in his current role?
  • Do you have any more details on the workforce development stuff — whether the apprenticeship program is only in high schools or whether it would be corporations? Any more details on how that would work or how it would be encouraged?
  • The President said something today about wanting to have every high school in the country have an apprenticeship program, and I hadn’t heard that in any of the background information. Is that something that’s going to be part of these announcements too? Or was he just kind of speaking a little off-the-cuff on that?
  • Do you know how much money was raised?

In related news, I’ve started re-watching West Wing just for Allison Janney as press secretary C.J. Cregg. 

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TOWOIT #148

June 13, 2017… Day 145

Fell asleep last night after obsessing about the possibility of Trump firing Mueller. Woke up with my face in a fist. Not in a “ready for battle” way, but more just in a clenched up and exhausted way. Chasing buses naked through all my anxiety dreams way.

Then Rod Rosenstein’s testimony in front of Congress reassured me a little. He said he didn’t see any cause to fire Mueller, he had no desire to fire Mueller, and he wouldn’t let anyone order him to fire Mueller.

Then Jeff Sessions was such an obfuscatory little racist liar all afternoon, it was a real drag. Kamala Harris got interrupted, shushed and disrespected *again* but her greatness is not to be denied.

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TOWOIT #143

June 8, 2017… Day 140… aka Comey Day.

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Whoa, everything is flooding past quickly. I had a lot more to add to yesterday but time is sweeping on and today was Comey Day.

I wish I didn’t have to be at work all day, and I could have live-blogged my impressions as I listened to the hearing at my desk. That would be much more fun and immediate. Now it’s late, and the day has been too much of an emotional journey already, and I’m tired of it all.

Also, after Comey, I was infuriated by the right wing spin and the fact that the GOP is allowing Trump to do whatever he wants without oversight. And I was let down, because briefly, Comey’s testimony had been comforting and refreshing. He said that the Trump administration lies. He said he was afraid Trump would lie about their encounters. It felt good to hear someone say that. At the end of his testimony, the Republican Senator Richard Burr made it sound like he believed Comey over Trump. And when Comey said we should all feel good about Robert Mueller being in charge of the investigation — I was so relieved that someone told me I could feel good about something. And that I sort of believed it for a second.

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But the Comey hearing also felt like a bunch of guys questioning a rape victim, listening to the questions the Senators asked and how they asked them. And just knowing the awkwardness and imbalance of power in the room when Comey was alone with Trump. And knowing Trump doesn’t respect people’s autonomy and is a sexual predator. It was stomach-turning.

After the hearing I listened to Ezra Klein’s conversation with Masha Gessen in which she talks about how the left is just turning into conspiracy theorists and the Russia investigation is gonna drag on forever and probably be inconclusive so everyone just needs to calm down and get over it. This is the same Masha Gessen who has been terrifying me with visions of the U.S. turning INTO Russia (erosion of press freedoms, for instance).

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But after work I sat in on an ACLU conference call about immigration and policing in sanctuary cities, and I also saw the signal fires going up around the internet about the Senate healthcare bill. And I started to feel a little better again.

In other news…

Continue reading TOWOIT #143

TOWOIT #138

June 3, 2017… Day 135

Another terrorist attack in London. Trump sends fear-mongering tweets against “political correctness.”

Gallup poll dipped back down to 37%. The 538 poll of polls is at 39% approval. I’m looking for signs of national lucidity.

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Meanwhile, this crossed my timeline and i am here for it:

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Other than naming our girl babies after RBG, and defending Maxine Waters’s person on Twitter, we are streaming out of our houses to go see Wonder Woman this weekend, with daughters and nieces (and I hope some sons and nephews) in tow. I love that it was directed by a woman. I love that there are no jiggling boobs, just battened-down armored boobs. I love the cheesy symbolism of a goddess who believes in mankind’s power to choose love over hate. And here’s a theme from Wonder Woman that I haven’t noticed in hot takes yet: She has to be told, or has to learn (repeatedly) that she is stronger than she thinks or knows that she is. Ask women in your life if they want to run for office. Will they say, “I wouldn’t want to put my family through that” or “I’m still having too much fun in the private sector”? Nah. They’ll explain to you why they personally either lack the right traits to do it, or have a bunch of other bad traits that will blow the whole thing up.

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TOWOIT #119

May 15, 2017… Day 116

Where to begin. Where to even begin.

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Found this in a drawer today

Here’s stuff that came out before the Washington Post bombshell news alert:

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SO, here’s a ton of tweets and headlines about this thing which seems to be a bombshell (but inevitably, like always, will never be THE bombshell). Trump gave highly classified info to Lavrov and Kislyak in the Oval Office last week. Info given to us by an ally, which they did not want Russia to have. Washington Post broke the story this afternoon. Two officials confirmed the story later for other outlets. H.R. McMaster came out on the White House lawn and barked at reporters for 90 seconds (literally 90 seconds), and then went back inside without answering a single question. I think that’s all the backstory you need.

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And before all that, these are the questions reporters asked Sean Spicer at the White House Press Briefing today:

Continue reading TOWOIT #119

TOWOIT #111

May 7, 2017… Day 108

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Griff Witte and I went to a dance together when we were 18 or 19, and I borrowed my roommate’s friend’s red sparkly dress, and we danced to “The Summer of 69.” Anyway, now he’s a Washington Post bureau chief and I have this WordPress blog with 39 followers.

Today, while on a pleasant walk with two old friends from home who were chattering across me about kids and child care and distribution of household chores, one of them pulled out her phone and said “It’s Macron by a landslide.” We hadn’t even talked about the French presidential election. We would NEVER previously have talked about the French presidential election. I wouldn’t have, and I am several times more political and more of a news junkie than my friends. But this is who we are now. Dialed in.

And thank god Macron won.

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TOWOIT #104

April 30, 2017… Day 101

I’ve been catching up on the American version of Shameless, which takes place in Chicago and features a working poor Irish-American family. They are always trying to maneuver their way into a better life and always sliding backwards. If one of them has a little success, it helps all of them. But that help is not equal to the harm that befalls all of them if one of them gets into trouble. The math just doesn’t ever pencil out, and they end up running to stand still. It reminds me of a headline I saw a few days ago. It said that in order for a family to rise out of poverty, it needs a 20-year stretch when nothing major goes wrong. 

Continue reading TOWOIT #104

TOWOIT #101

April 27… Day 98

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Questions they asked Sean Spicer today:

  • Sean, what changes in NAFTA does the President hope to achieve through renegotiation?
  • Thanks, Sean. As you know, under both the Reagan and Bush administrations, concerns about tax cuts-fueled deficits were dismissed with promises of growth, and we’re hearing that same sort of rhetoric now. The deficit increased a great deal under both those administrations after the tax cuts. What’s different about the President’s plan that won’t lead to the same sort of ballooning of the deficit?
  • Thanks a lot, Sean. You may have seen the news about the Office of the Inspector General announcing that it’s launched an investigation into the payment that the former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn received prior to becoming the National Security Advisor from RT — Russia Today — which is an entity of the Russian government. What’s your reaction to that, first of all?
  • Are you satisfied with the vetting that was done of General Flynn by the transition team before he came on board as the National Security Advisor?
  • If he wasn’t fired by the President for lying to the Vice President, would he still have a job today, right here at the White House?
  • Given the progress that congressional Republicans have made on the healthcare talks, does the President want a vote on that bill this week?
  • If there’s no vote, does that mean the President won’t be disappointed?
  • Thanks, Sean. The President’s tax plan, we’re getting a little bit of mixed signals here on exactly what his vision is in terms of retirement savings. Can you lay out what the President’s vision is for 401{k}s, and particularly tax deductions surrounding those?  Does the President imagine removing those deductions entirely along with the other deductions, or is he going to protect those?
  • These tax deductions, though, of course, comes with its own group, its own lobby, its own interest group.
  • They fight very hard for these things. Are you guys prepared for a battle on all those tax deductions, eliminating all of those?  I mean, politically, that’s a big lift.
  • Just one more. Gary Cohn told us the retirement savings was protected.
  • Two on General Flynn. First, you said the Obama administration had reissued his clearance last year?
  • So is the implication there that should be taken that if the Trump administration was the one adjudicating his clearance, this year he would not have been issued that clearance, now that the White House knows everything that there is about General Flynn?
  • You’re not implying wrongdoing in the part of —
  • Finally, when you were here on February 14th, the morning after General Flynn was fired by the President, you said that the President asked him to leave the White House — the situation regarding the phone call with the Russian ambassador and the Vice President. But also “a series of other questionable instances.” I was hoping now you can provide some more information now that more — some of his financial dealings, in particular, now have come to light. Is that what led to his termination at the White House?
  • Not this —
  • To follow on a couple of things that have been brought up to you today. John’s question — not the process, but your own vet, meaning the transition — are you satisfied that that met the standard that should have been met with Michael Flynn? And then if there are any regrets that this White House has about bringing him in, knowing what you know about him now and seeing a behavior that would be plainly inconsistent with the standard that candidate Trump set during the campaign?
  • But that’s not the only question you asked Michael Flynn — it couldn’t possibly be the only you asked him.
  • As you just said to Zeke, it was not just the episode with the Russian ambassador, it was other instances. Those things have come to light. Any regret about bringing him in —
  • — to have this done and knowing what you know now did you miss something and you regret Michael Flynn in?
  • He regrets bringing him in?
  • On the question about — Gary Cohn and the Treasury Secretary left us with the implication yesterday when asked about retirement savings that they were protected. What you just said has indicated they might not be. Can you help us understand?

  • So General Flynn came in with just the Obama administration vetting, is that right, Sean?
  • Because that’s the impression you’re giving.
  • General Flynn came in and he walked through the door with just the clearance that was conducted by the Obama administration? That doesn’t make any sense.
  • I’m not the National Security Advisor. 
  • It’s a serious question.
  • And when Congressman Cummings accuses this White House of a cover-up, you say what?

  • Are there no other documents that you have at this point that could be turned over to this committee that would be relevant to this investigation?
  • Thank you. Two questions. One, does the President still feel that Mike Flynn should seek immunity?
  • But does the President?
  • And secondly, the President said he wants to start renegotiating NAFTA as soon as today. Has he notified Congress about that yet?
  • The President tweeted this morning about Puerto Rico — begin to default on their debt May 1st, pending some kind of solution.  There are millions of investors in the United States — senior citizens — who may not be aware that they hold funds within muni-bond mutual funds that expose them to a default in Puerto Rico. Is there anything the White House should do or the administration can do, one, to safeguard those senior citizens and their investments; and two, to prevent an increase in cost to states and municipalities that may have to pay more to borrow when they access the munibond market if Puerto Rico defaults?
  • I understand that the CR is different.  But if Puerto Rico defaults with or without the CR — is the administration working with Puerto Rico?
  • As the tax plan evolves and we start to get details, do you believe it is a fair question for anyone to ask how that plan personally affects the President and his family?
  • But is it a fair question to ask?
  • if middle-income Americans should feel empowered to ask how this plan affects them, why is it that Secretary Mnuchin today could not guarantee that no one in the middle class would pay more under this proposal?
  • So there is a guarantee from the White House? That’s the position of the White House right now — that middle-class American should not —

TOWOIT #98

April 24, 2017… Day #95

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.

But first, this snippet:

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Woman efficiently handles male commenters

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Things reporters asked Sean Spicer today: Continue reading TOWOIT #98

TOWOIT #97

April 23, 2017… Day 94

French election today–a blur of Le Pen fear and Trump tweets and recent jarring terrorism. But when the dust settles, it seems like things might be ok. There’s a runoff election and it seems more likely the other guy will win.

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A transcript came out of a long, rambling interview Trump did with the AP. It’s been fertile grounds for hot takes.

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