TOWOIT #84

April 10, 2017…. Day 81

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Gorsuch became the 113th Supreme Court justice today. It was hard to even see it and hear about it and know about it.

There was a femicide murder-suicide at a grade school in San Bernadino. A couple of kids caught bullets meant for their teacher. Her husband killed her and then killed himself. It’s not really news. It’s just America being America. Men killing women and people shooting up grade schools.

For an hour or two this morning, there was a State Department press briefing listed on the C-Span schedule for the day. It would have been the first since March 23. At around 11:30 am ET, the listing quietly disappeared and did not reappear. No State Department briefing still.

Sean Spicer did his first on-camera press briefing for a week. We’re getting used to the Spicerisms and the way this administration plays house. But hearing him talk about Syria was a whole new level of … astonishing. It’s plain as day for anyone to see. They simply do not know what they’re doing. They just have no idea whatsoever. This bellicosity, and the Navy ships moving toward the Korean peninsula, and different pieces of the administration out of sync with each other, rattling different sabers to different rhythms–well, all this has made me retreat inside a shell more than before. And I am ashamed because I know we need to keep up the resistance on the local front. But I’m reaching a saturation point.

I listened to political podcasts all day. I learned a lot about the health care system, tax reform possibilities, China, Syria, and Gorsuch. I learned a lot, but I’m not sure what for. That podcast S-Town has me thinking about declensionism and obsessiveness. I’m keeping myself at a fever pitch of learning and awareness all day, and then chronicling and scrapbooking a fraction of it here as a self-soothing mechanism before bed. But that all doesn’t add up to helping the situation.

At times like these, i have to remind myself that I am giving monthly donations to various organizations–donations large enough to stretch the bounds of what my budget can handle and supersede my retirement saving efforts. So hopefully I”m helping to pay some lawyers and scientists and journalists to do stuff.

Here are the questions reporters asked Sean Spicer today (recommended):

Continue reading TOWOIT #84

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 #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 #51

March 8, 2017… Day 48

Some of the women who planned the January 21 Women’s March were arrested at today’s march in New York. Linda Sarsour cut quite a figure in a red hijab.

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Later, after dark, Bust magazine goes live on Facebook, showing the release of the last of the arrested group of women. It’s dark and you see male police officers standing in uniform under bright lights on the concrete stoop of an unassuming precinct office. They are looking out at the women in the parking lot or street a few feet down from where they are standing. The women are in the dark, cheering and milling in the foreground, hard to distinguish their shapes and faces — you can just make out “no more wire hangers” on one sign.

There was so much discomfort–especially among women themselves!–about this day of action. I myself went to work and leaned in. Wore some red, but went home with a cold instead of hanging around downtown to rally with Kshama Sawant. I appreciated this piece from Foreign Policy:

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April Ryan wore red to the White House Press Briefing, and was in the frame when a white man asked a white man this:

Thank you, Sean. I had two quick questions. Are you aware of any women who are working at the White House who are participating in the strikes today? And more generally, what is the administration’s reaction to this protest–and do you think that skipping work is an effective way for women to demonstrate their power and significance?

Questions they asked Sean Spicer at the press briefing today:

Continue reading TOWOIT #51

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 #49

March 6, 2017… Day 46

This is going to be a blur. It’s Monday. A bunch of stuff happened. I can’t recount it all. Sean Spicer had an hour-long press gaggle off camera. His first audio-recorded press conference of any kind in seven days.

I went to Pramila Jayapal’s town hall after work and learned a bunch about how Congress works. Because I haven’t known what to do since the election, I try to just put my body places sometimes–marches, rallies, meetings. I also try to learn how things work, and sometimes those two things over lap like they did tonight. I learned what kind of things other people in the community are worried about, specifically. The place was packed with a big, vocal, boisterous crowd. It felt like church. It also felt like she was our gladiator. I remember criticism of her before the election. People said she wasn’t the real progressive in the race. She was faux-progressive, they said. Now she is this new congresswoman born unto these crazy times, and she seems to be rising to the challenge. I don’t think anyone is saying she’s not progressive enough now. Also, she talks like a regular person. I scribbled pages of handwritten notes throughout the town hall, so hopefully I will roust myself to backfill some highlights tomorrow (running on fumes).

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I was pleased when Jayapal staffers handed me Agree and Disagree signs. The line to get into the building was three or four abreast and went all the way around the block.
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Not far from where the Jayapal’s town hall was held, this was discovered on a fence and removed by police (this is still satire, for now).
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I’m exhausted, and this person already rounded up for me.

 

Listened to  Ana Marie Cox’s podcast interview with guest Ira Madison III. Ira is black, and he writes about film and television. It turns out I’ve been following him on Twitter for awhile. Ana Marie Cox is white. They seem to be friends in real life, and they had a long talk about race, inter-racial friendships, and what it’s like to be “the black friend.” Ira also touched on Get Out and “white liberal women,” and said something to the effect of how Hillary Clinton just needs to disappear forever, and reiterated a few times that 53% of white women voted for Trump. So this was no great reprieve for white women. But it was a good, warm conversation about uncomfortable things, and how it has to be ok to be called racist. It cannot be the end of the world. If you aren’t being called out for being racist now and again, you probably are too bottled up and not learning and not associating with anyone outside your own ethnicity bubble. And not having frank conversations about race.

I guess I just mention this to say, that it was somewhat cathartic after watching Get Out. 

Khizr Khan, a citizen for 30 years, canceled a trip to Toronto. He said his travel privileges were “under review.”

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Sean Spicer press gaggle, without Sean Spicer:

Continue reading TOWOIT #49

TOWOIT #29

February 14, 2017… Day 26

“She speaks for the president. I speak for the president. All of us in this administration–all of the actions and all of the words in this administration are on the behalf of and at the direction of the president”

–Sean Spicer today, on why Nikki Haley’s tough words meant that Trump has been “incredibly tough” on Russia

Reuters says we have our first ICE arrest of a DREAMer today and its in Seattle. He’s 23 and his name is Daniel Ramirez. A lawsuit has been filed on his behalf by the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project.

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Breaking news at 6:16 pm PST: New York Times: Intercepted calls show members of the Trump campaign had repeated contact with Russian intelligence before the election, officials said.  

Even the Go Fug Yourself girls (who are very clever but exist solely to say snarky things about what celebrities wear on the red carpet) retweeted the article in the minutes following the release of the news story.

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Earlier today, before the NYT story broke, the idea of investigating Flynn went around. Most Republican lawmakers were lukewarmly against the idea. There will be some sort of congressional investigation but not the independent, bipartisan commission that would have any teeth to it.

Trump tweets that it’s the White House LEAKS that are the real story. Which is interesting because those make him look bad and incompetent.

In the morning, Kellyanne made Flynn’s resignation sound like Flynn’s decision (makes Trump look loyal). In the afternoon, Sean Spicer strongly made it sound like Trump’s decision (makes Trump look like he’s in charge).

Guardian headline: The first 25 days of Trump have been a zoetrope of galloping despair.

 

White House Press Briefing without Sean Spicer (it’s a doozy today)

Continue reading TOWOIT #29

the only way out is through #23

February 8, 2017… Day 20

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These guys aren’t counting the inauguration as Day 1. Either that or I’m just off a day already.

Radio alarm: Elizabeth Warren, Coretta Scott King, Seattle divests from Wells Fargo, and Starbucks offers its employees free legal aid if they have run afoul of Trump’s executive order on immigration.

Appalling morning tweet: 45 bashes Nordstrom for dropping Ivanka’s business, and then retweets it on the POTUS account. But in the supportive comments on the FB version of the tweet, more signs of cracks:

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Reminders to drain the swamp

CBS has a daily feature now that also rounds things into a digest. It seems to be the most stabilizing way to deal with our new reality.

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Almost as soon as they came out of his mouth, Mitch McConnell’s words about Elizabeth Warren have been commandeered for the feminist resistance:

“She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”

Neil Gorsuch’s comments that 45’s comments about the judiciary were “demoralizing” and “disheartening.” According to Blumenthal anyway. Blumenthal (a Democrat) said over all, he was disappointed with the meeting.

Now 45 says he wanted to wait a month before the rollout of his immigration order, but law enforcement officials said no. I’m working on not saying his name, but I’m not sure a number is any better. I’ll never look at fours, fives, or even nines the same again.

The Congressional Black Caucus went to the Senate floor to protest the Jeff Sessions vote

Ted Cruz said the Democrats were the party of the KKK. Later the same day, David Duke crowed about Jeff Sessions’s confirmation on Twitter.

McCain and Graham (best friends forever) introduce bill to limit Trump’s power regarding Russian sanctions.

Ted Lieu introduces a bill that would require the White House to hire a psychiatrist for 45– this is a weird one, and I know people with mental illnesses are probably upset about it.

Snippets overheard from private Republican-on-Republican convo: “…stupid tweets about Nordstrom… zero self-restraint… I’m disappointed… they should have been able to strike while the iron is hot on the tax thing… just seem to be floundering

New York Daily News headline: Trump launched Yemen raid after being told Obama wouldn’t have.

White House Press Briefing Without Sean Spicer

Continue reading the only way out is through #23