Saturday, December 30, 2017

Resolutin' 2018 Style

As has been stated here in the past, I believe in resolutions. I resolve all the time. I believe the primary purpose of life is to keep doing better, to keep challenging yourself to do more - despite the human propensity to fuck up. I'm not super great at it (I'm pudgier than I'd like to be, I drink more than I ought to, and I only kept up my volunteer work for half the year)  - but I resolved to cook more last year, and I did. I resolved to stay involved, and I did. I resolved to stay mad, and, hoo boy! I did!

So for 2018, I'm gonna keep on keeping on with what I'd planned on for 2017, but here are a couple of addenda:

Lean Into Optimism

I cannot recommend enough that you all join the Crooked Media nation. These guy have saved my sanity so many times throughout the year. They're smart, funny, and explain things in a way that makes sense, keeps you motivated and is always 100% bullshit-free.

Back in July (before Ralph Northam had won Virginia, before Doug Jones had won Alabama), Jon Lovett tweeted this:

And I was all:

I get how "everything is terrible and we're all gonna die" can be a defense mechanism. But I can never understand how anyone who lives like this gets anything done. When I read that we're on the verge of WWIII or that our institutions are doomed to failure under the oligarchic assault of President Pussygrabber and the establishment GOP fuckwits that enable him I want to put a rubber nipple onto a bottle of bourbon and crawl under the bed with a stuffed animal and a soft blanket.  

But when I see how engaged and involved everyone is, when I think about the victories we've had and remember those literal millions of folks taking to the street for the Women's March? Well, that makes me all:

Optimism gets shit done. Not blind faith that everything will work out. I mean, if you're a praying person, I think you should go right on praying; but this atheist is churched enough to know that Jesus would tell you also you need to get to work. Believing that I have some control over my life and my country gives me the energy I need to carry on the fight. I know this isn't for everyone. I know that I'm built for it in a way that others might not be. But the nihilistic fuckwits on the right are counting on us to give up. I'm not gonna. We're gonna beat those motherfuckers with a blue wave in 2018 the likes of which has not been seen.

But only if we work real hard to make it happen.

For a little extra inspiration, follow Barack Obama's twitter - it might make you sad to think of how hard we've fallen. But he's posting stories of people fighting the good fight and I want to be one of them!


Look, it can't be all American politics all the time. Self-care, bitches. Self-care. I am an intermittent stretcher. But I am also middle-aged and I want to bring this body into old age with some mobility and flexibility and control. So I'm going to keep going to the gym, keep standing up at my desk and add a 5 minute daily stretch routine to the mix. I am taking suggestions. Do you have any? Also, I'm thinking about implementing a twice daily 90 second plank to my work day. Anyone want to do this with me and keep me honest? Come on, let's be embarrassed at the office together! I know I work from home, but the dogs will look at me funny. 

Love all of youse!

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Hooray for all the Girl Stuff

I stayed up last night until 2:30 a.m. in the morning. I know 2:30 a.m. in the morning is redundant, but I am using redundancy for emphasis because I cannot remember the last time I was up so late! And why, you might be asking, was I up so late? Was it existential-dread-induced insomnia that so many are suffering from?  It was not. As yet, I am an excellent sleeper and would likely take gold if that were ever to become an Olympic event. Which it should.

I stayed up so late because I started (finally) watching One Mississippi on Amazon and I could not stop. One Mississippi is so wonderful, you guys. I had to stay up to see it through because I was entirely charmed, enraptured, entertained and moved.

Earlier that lazy day after Thanksgiving I was trying to think of what I wanted to watch. The Friday after Thanksgiving is built for binging something on Netflix in sweatpants while eating leftovers. This is as the Pilgrims intended.

I tried with Netflix's Mindhunter, which came highly recommended by a friend with good taste. In the opening scene, a man in the throes of a profound psychotic break literally blows his own head off, following which a hostage negotiator is tortured by his failure to stop the suicide. It looked really good! But, you know what? It was a guy show. And I'm just not in the headspace for guy stuff these days.

There's nothing wrong with guy things! All my life I've liked guy things - Mel Brooks, Monty Python, things written from a male point-of-view, for masculine sensibilities. I adore Monty Python and Mel Brooks (but have always thought that Madeline Kahn was the best part of any of his movies (probably because she was)).

And, since this blog has turned so confessional of late, I might as well admit that I probably got into adoring all these guy things because I wanted guys to think I was cool. In the 80s and 90s, there was no quicker way to Cool Girl than being a cute girl who quoted Blazing Saddles. But confess a passion for, say, Madonna or Bridget Jones Diary, and you were just another silly girl. And Madonna was great! Bridget Jones' Diary was great!

These days. the landscape is chockablock with stories told by women and for women. One Mississippi and Better Things are a couple of examples of shows that can make me howl with a laugh one second and then make my eyes fill up a second later (side note: fuck Louis C.K. and fuck him for getting any credit for either of those shows). I can't wait for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel to come out on Amazon next week (!!!!!!) and Crazy Ex Girlfriend is fucking genius.

This is a shitty year. But at least, finally, there are women's voices out there making art, telling our stories and telling them so well. But even better, and maybe the best part of this terrible year: if some guy thinks you're a silly girl because you like to fall asleep to Gilmore Girls or you've already made your way through G.L.O.W. twice? Eh, who cares. You're too busy watching Call the Midwife to care about impressing some dumbass who liked Batman vs Superman more than Wonder Woman.

At long last the presumed universality, or, at least, supremacy of the male point-of-view is going away. And to that, we can all give a hearty:

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Some Things I Will Tell You

My own sins:

When I was 25, a Chicago Congressman was found having a sexual relationship with a 16 year old girl. I said, "Oh, she is 16 going on 45" and brushed it off. If you'd suggested that my surmise was maybe racist (after all I didn't know that girl at all), I'd have said, "But Mel Reynolds is black!" and remained totally unconcerned with one of the more toxic ways of racism informs rape culture: Black girls are treated as grown, sexualized women when they are still children.

I used to tell this joke: "What do you tell a woman with two black eyes?" "Nothing she hasn't already been told twice!"


How about all the times I questioned some girl's motives? Assumed she was a slut? Assumed she was taking unfair advantage of her own attractiveness?

How about all the times I assumed the man had more credibility? Assumed his authority as sacrosanct and hers was poached?

How about the sins done to me?

The first time I got cat-called I was 11 and I felt so ashamed to have let myself be seen outside in shorts. There was the time I was walking to school (7th or 8th grade) and the man gestured to me from a car, asking for directions, and then showed me his gross hard penis under his flabby belly and I felt like an idiot for walking over there.

What about all the times men wondered within my earshot about the color of my pubic hair, and I felt like a cheat for having dyed my hair blonde?

How about all the times a boy told me I was being cruel for saying no, and I believed I was cruel. Worse - how about the hands holding my head down and it never occurred to me that I was allowed to spit or bite or punch. How about when I really didn't want to but it wasn't rape because that only happens when it's a stranger and you haven't had anything to drink.

The men yelling at me from cars, looming over me to in line to make sure I knew they were stronger. Being a woman is being scared a lot of the time. Or, maybe, it was?

Look, it was all fucked up. I have said this many times, but it bears repeating: I am knocking at fucking 50 and it's just now occurring to me that assault and harassment aren't just the cost of doing business as a woman. My failure to recognize this doesn't make me a doe-eyed victim. Or it doesn't make me just a victim; I am also a huge fucking super complicit dumbass as I have been game for making other women feel bad for the way they are women.

It's all tied up and mired in a rape culture that we're just now, finally, having a reckoning for and, lord, it is a painful reckoning. Still, as we pick through the gross, slimy, toxic icks beneath the rape culture rock we've turned over, I can't help but insist that we find a way to be OK with admitting that some things are worse than others. We just have to. Because if we can't, we are going to throw the baby out with the bathwater and that baby has potential to grow up as, like, Channing Tatum or Terry Crews or some other stalwart, shining excellent example of doing man well.

It is worse to groom and stalk a 14 year old than it is to grab an ass at a State Fair. It's not NBD to grab an ass at a State Fair. It's gross and disgusting and these things need to be brought to light. The ass-grabber should feel embarrassed and ashamed and he should apologize and he should fucking mean it.

But it's not as bad as grooming and assaulting a 14 year old.

Especially when the ass grabber is all "I am ashamed and you should investigate me" and the child molester is all "LIBRUL CONSPIRACY!"

Especially when the ass grabber will continue to advocate on behalf of women and use his legislative might to make sure we retain control over our own bodies and the child molester will say "Jesus wants me to put all the Muslims in prison."

Ideally, we could rid ourselves of all the ass grabbers; of all the people who've trucked in the notion that women's bodies are public property or that male hegemony is the natural order. But, the problem with that is that I think we're talking about getting rid of about 70% of the people who were born before 2000.

We're just going to have to learn to stop separating people into Good and Bad (Millennials, I don't shit on you guys a lot, but you are TERRIBLE about that). We're going to have to be better about saying "He is bad but also he does good and so let's call him on the bad and keep him honest about doing good" or "He is bad and wants more power to be worse so let's not give him that power."

To wit: Joe Biden will stare at your boobs. That's bad. He blocked Anita Hill from a fair hearing and gave us Justice Pubic Hair on a Coke Can. That's worse. He is a Catholic man who is staunchly pro-choice. That's good. He wrote and agitated for the Violence Against Women Act, which he got passed. That's better. Everything I just wrote in this paragraph is true. And we have got to see all of it.

Also, at the risk of being totally cliche: vote for women. More women in government. Women, especially women of color, at higher and higher and the highest positions in government. Men, I'm not throwing you out - but you haven't been exactly kicking moral ass over the past few hundred years.

Step aside.

And, Jaysus, stop grabbing ass! It's not yours!

It's so sad how long it took so many of us to realize that.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

I'm So Tired, but I Just ...

I knew this would happen. I took three days off around the weekend to burn up some PTO and then, despite a truly lackluster effort, failed to get the eff out of town as I had intended.  As expected during this stayfree minibreak (holla if you get the ref!), I have spent my time on a crushing series of household tasks and now most of my body hurts and it's 7:45 pm on a Saturday and I am ready for bed! Note to self: next time, get the eff out of town. Prepare to wear makeup and the cute shoes and step out for a nice meal in some suburb or something where the Shit That Needs Doing can't get done because I am not there.

That said, despite this weariness (which has roughly quadrupled due to the note-taking on how very many household tasks remain to be done), I've had this thing on my mind for the past few days and so I am fighting through this wave of fatigue and Taking To My Blog like the damn she-ro I am.

So, two things happened a year ago. A brilliant, highly qualified, passionate woman with clearly articulated plans on how she would aid and improve the lives of her fellow Americans lost an election. Excuse me; that should have read "lost" an election. A dumb, racist, sexist narcissist with zero qualifications for the job, a ridiculous combover and an obvious deeply realized sociopathy won it. Excuse me; that is to say "won" it.

Sometime following that, a bunch of powerful men started falling from grace due to their sexual crimes, ranging from rape to harassment to general piggishness, coming to light.

I believe (as likely do very many wannabe think piecers like me) that the former begat the latter.

Because, here's the thing: this election queered the deal that we women have tacitly agreed to for lo what is basically the sum total of This American Experience. We'll tolerate a lot of your shit, men. We'll agree that your discomfort at being called out for your piggishness is more uncomfortable than being subjected to it. But you have got to, menfolks, stand a little bit back as we progress. You have got to agree that it's OK for your daughters to get a skosh closer to equality than their mothers.

And then that goddamn abortion of an election happened and American women were like:

and then:

And that's when the powerful pigs began falling from the lofty positions, which they'd assumed after coasting by on all the privileges masculinity affords.


While I was overjoyed at seeing the Weiners and Weinsteins crumble down, a little part of me still pitied the piggish pigs (if not the harassers and the rapists). The men who've been feathering their fragile egos with awkward smiles following inappropriate flirtations. The pig who might not be aware of that deal we women made. Sure, he hasn't questioned it too deeply. But on some level he knows that while some philosophers might tell you that the unexamined life isn't worth living, there's a fellow out there named Oedipus that is all:

And they carried blithely on.

Earlier this week, a friend told me about hanging out at a hotel bar where some 50 year old man in the pickle business was talking to some 30 year old woman in the pickle business (this is a real thing that happened) while making jokes about showing her his pickle.

I thought, shit, that old dinosaur of a pig probably has no idea that he is gross and inappropriate and stupid and is either making the woman on the other end of his skeevy jokes roll her eyes or feel like she has to double-bolt her hotel room door that night. Pity his vanishing relevance in the culture.

But then I thought, wait! He doesn't give a shit about how she feels, only about how she makes him feel. In my clever (stolen, I think, but I can't remember from whom) Oedipus reference above, Jocasta is left out of the equation all together. Why am I defaulting to worrying about his feelings while assuming hers count less, hurt less, are less?

And with that insight, any pity I might have felt for his disappearing relevance was gone and all I thought was, you know, Pickle Man:

I don't really enjoy other people's pain (except maybe Weiner and Weinstein because fuck those fucking fuckers). But we women really do need to liberate ourselves from the entrenched, abiding feeling that female discomfort matters less than male and tell men to cut the shit when they act like that. The way the world is going (finally!) he might actually hear it.

And if he doesn't?

Monday, October 30, 2017

I Fear Silence... Can I Get a Grade on this Assignment?

Circa 1996, I was having a conversation with my dear old friend, Val, in which I said totally matter of factly, "I fear silence." And I do, dear reader. I cannot tolerate a lull in conversation. What is certainly a workaday banality for most of all the other people in the world is, to me, as though someone is pounding a nail into my head with a violent hammer of awkward silence.

And so, over the course of 40ish years, I've mastered the art of conversation. You understand, of course, that by "mastered", I mean "capable of filling the briefest conversational lull with desperate, panicked chit chat."

I am far more exhausted by this than exhausting.

I think.

Tonight I had a work dinner with some folks I don't know who work for the company that acquired us and I had hoped to be professionally impressive. I wore lipstick, for Christ's sake! I put product into my hair! As I walked in to the restaurant, I noticed that everyone was sitting around the table in unbearable silence, which was probably only because they stopped the conversation as I walked in to greet me and had been chatting comfortably up until then. But I couldn't risk it! I had to start GABBING AT EVERYONE!!!

Chat chat "and how did you end up in this town?" chat chat "how old are your kids?" chat chat "what a dreadful commute" chat chat chatterly chat chat chat chattity chat chat chat fucking chat.

I have no idea if the folks I work with are glad to have me around because I'll bear more than my fair share of the conversational load or if they are thinking "dear god, would she just shut the everloving fuck up?!"

Maybe both?

If I weren't so terrified of awkward silence, then I could sit there and take the temperature of the dinner table. But then it would be quiet and everyone would be looking around and, dear god, why don't we all just put a goddamn bullet in our heads! SOMEONE HAS TO TALK NOW!!!

I'm so tired.

Did I talk too much tonight?

By the way, I'm great in text. Why can't we all just text?

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Getting Woke F'n Sucks, You Guys

First of all, I think we can all agree that the expression "woke" had jumped the shark almost as hard as the phrase "jumped the shark" has jumped the shark. But it's been a busy weekend and I'm trying to get some stuff done before Outlander o'clock (the sexiest hour of the week!) and one of those things is that I'm trying real hard to do is to update this silly blog more as I have all of the thoughts and none of the energy and I must needs get the thoughts out of the head.

So. I was driving down the street a few days ago and Led Zepplin's "Whole Lotta Love" came on and I was jamming out and singing along when it occurred to me that this song was written by Muddy Waters. Led Zeppelin fans would probably say this was more homage than rip off, but how much classic rock was just white guys ripping off black artists? How much did classic rock profit off music that didn't belong to its artists? How much did classic rock fail to give credit where it belonged?

And let's not even get started on Elvis. Or how very many people really think that Rapture by Blondie was the first rap song.

This is really apropos of nothing - I just think she's so fabulous even if she didn't, sigh, invent rap

Another thing: I was, as I am prone to, fondly remembering a moment with my dear, departed father. My brother and I were in high school (Nolan may have been in the early days of college) and my dad told us this story about an econ class he took in college where the professor talked about how women controlled 43% of the wealth in the country. And then my dad laughed and said "but they control 100% of the pussy."

When I was 16 or so I thought it was hilarious. There was my dad saying "pussy" and engaging us in some adult humor.

But 32 years later it occurs to me that my wonderful father, my dear, sweet hilarious father was wasn't at all sexist and who always encouraged me in the same way he did my brother and who was so far ahead of his time in so many ways, was still OK with looking at "pussy" as a commodity separate from the woman it's attached to.

And I know - it was a joke. And I know, Robert Plant revered Muddy Waters. I know! I know! I know!

But then I start to think of all the movies from my teenage years. How many girls my own age got raped on film and I laughed and laughed?

What do we do with all this wokeness (I hate myself for the phrase, I really do). Do we have to throw away all the things we loved? Do I need to castigate my father from beyond the grave for his minor infractions?

The answer: no. Of course not. That's dumb.

The answer: you acknowledge the foibles and sins of the past, admit that "it was a different time" is inadequate. And then keep your eyes and ears open, listen to people and believe their experiences,  and always try to be better.

I pretty much think the purpose of life is to always be trying to be better. And to be woke.

Seriously, you guys, what is a less obnoxious word? Help me out...

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Quick Lunchtime Bloggity

It's been a while since I did one of these, but I just had the strangest experience out walking Ginger so I'm gonna tell you about it.

I walked past this fellow in a tight white tee-shirt and a bald head looking pretty much like the poster child for the Aryan Nation.  He was staring at his phone waiting for someone to let him into a building. Ginger barked at him.

He responded "fuck you!"

I had just started a laughing apology and then he said "fuck you!" so I decided best to walk on.

Here's the thing, though: he wasn't saying "fuck you" to me. He was saying "fuck you" to Ginger, who is a 20 pound beagle who knows only the following words in English: Ginger, hungry, walkies, go pee, and no. So Ginger didn't care. "Fuck you" is not in her vernacular (although, if I'm being honest "Goddammit, Ginger!" may be) She was focused on the post-poop treat coming her way ("Treat" is another word she knows. She may be a genius!)

And it wasn't even like he got mad and then said "fuck you." He just kind of .... sneezed it.  He was startled and his instant reaction to being startled was "fuck you."

It may be that Ginger, who is not prone to barking at strangers on the sidewalk, is just a really good job of character and Breitbart fan there knew she had his number. Hence: "fuck you."

Far more likely, though, he's just a guy with a passel of "fuck you"s rattling around in his psyche; "fuck you"s he deploys carelessly, without regard for the target, utterly unbothered by the offense.

Does anyone know of an island where we can send all the unreasonably angry white men? They are really fucking things up these days.

Friday, October 6, 2017

I Don't Want to Do This Either

I was listening to the Pod Save guys recently and they were talking about the blowback to NFL players taking a knee. They remarked that, of course, these players would rather just play football. It blew their minds how many people failed to understand that had any NFL player their druthers, black men wouldn't be so vulnerable to police violence and then they could just play some football (that's a lot of hyperlinks there, right? Do you see why they're kneeling?)

We'd all really rather just go on about our lives, wouldn't we? Calling people on their shit is a lot harder, a lot less fun, than just ignoring it or, magically, living in a place where you're not subjected to other people's shit.

Which is all to say: I don't want to do this either. I don't want to be the one telling you to stop calling the grown-ass women you work with "girls." I don't want to do that. I really wish you'd just, you know, not. But you do. And so many of you not only don't bother to interrogate how inherently demeaning this is, you get your feelings hurt when you get called on it.

(oh those delicate male feelings... you guys... ovary up!)

And I don't want to tell you that Hugh Hefner's death hasn't earned anyone's lachrymose lamentation. He was a bad man who did bad things. I don't want to interrupt your enjoyment of a tasteful nude or two. But you look away from the women he turned into things and talk about the good stuff he did for men and it's shitty and gross and you need to stop.

I don't want to police all the ways you casually allow and excuse misogyny. It's exhausting. Oooh... gif time:

But ignoring it and moving past it? Guys, this how we ended up with Donald Fucking Trump and Mike Fucking Pence who are two very different men, joined in their virulent (if differently expressed) loathing of women.

Today Ezra Klein, whom I'd count as one of the good guys, tweeted this:

Guys, there's not a woman alive who's even mildly surprised by this story. Of course Weinstein was a pig. The upper echelons of American society are comprised almost exclusively of pigs.

Ezra, poor guy, took it on the Twitter chin today for that post. I felt a little bad for him because he's not a sexist. But it's just so frustrating how many men live in easy, willful obtuseness about how much shitty shitty shit there is out there for women.

So, ladies, we have to continue being exhausted and being exhausting. We have to keep pointing out the constant, casual, cavalier sexism that is our everyday life.  Most men are good men. They're just a little ignorant (maybe on purpose?), having been inculcated in a system that rewards and excuses misogyny. If we make them see this (which is so exhausting), then they'll get better.

And, men, join us. Listen to the women in your life. Don't make excuses based on male intentionality: your intentions don't exist in a vacuum. And, men, I've been saying this for years, when you're in the motherfucking metaphorical locker room, don't keep your trap shut when the real hateful shits spew their real hateful shit. You might think they just talk that way, but I'll guaran-damn-tee you they do some violence on the women around them. When men talk about women like that, they treat them like that too - just not in front of anyone they're afraid of or want to impress.

In short, we all have to be exhausting and exhausted.  These are exhausting times. God I'm tired.

This is a good idea. I'm gonna go watch Parks and Rec and then go to sleep. And tomorrow? I'll fight another day.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Trip to the Grocery Store

I worked last night until about 7:30 at which point I realized there wasn't a bit of food in the house. I was about to break in my Postmates app and have someone bring me some food but then I remembered that Laney doesn't like pizza (what a giant weirdo, right? who doesn't like pizza!?) and that also I was lazy af on Sunday and it was my own fault there was no food in the house and also I am a grown-up, responsible person who does not need to order in just cuz there's no food in the house and also even if I did get dinner that way,  I probably wouldn't be able to order in a Diet Dr. Pepper and English Muffin for breakfast the next morning.

Faced with such deluge of rationale, I put on my shoes and hauled ass to the grocery store. Not all heroes wear capes (I mean, I was. I always wear my cape on Mondays).

The store was pretty quiet, but there was this one 50ish white guy who was just everywhere I was. I turned down the bread aisle, there he was. I turned away from the pizza freezer (because I live with a freaky teen who doesn't like pizza), there he was. I decided to get packaged turkey for Don so I didn't have to stand next to him at the deli counter.

But it's not just that he was everywhere I was. If it'd just been a silly coincidence like that, I probably would have smiled and had a "there you are again" moment. But he was that guy. That guy who fixed me with that look and that remark every time I ended up anywhere in his atmosphere - that immediate, quasi-jocular demand that I stop what I'm doing and just pleasant at him. Smile back. Laugh at his jokes. Reassure him that he's just fucking delightful when really he's just fucking exhausting.

Ladies, you know who I'm talking about here. He shows up when you're alone in an elevator or waiting room, or in any way unaccompanied in some public space.  Maybe he's hitting on you or maybe he just knows he can demand that any woman he finds moderately attractive do the dance for him; smile and chuckle at his jokes and hoist his ego.

Because he knows, even if he claims he doesn't know, that you're probably going to accommodate him since failure to accommodate has about 30-40% return rate of BITCH.

So I just tried to avoid him.

Unfortch, the checkout line allowed no such cowardice as there was just the one cashier. He kept trying to strike up a conversation with me. I kept one-wording him back with the tense half-smile. He'd say something to me, I'd respond tersely, but politely. He'd turn to the cashier and try with her. She'd respond tersely, but politely. It was a tense checkout lane at the Howard Jewel last night. Finally, he paid for his groceries and left.

And there I was, and the cashier was a young woman, and both the people behind me were women. And when I said, "That guy was too friendly, right", the cashier stopped, looked at me and said "I know, right?!" And then everyone relaxed and we laughed and everything was cool at The Jewel.

But, lookit, I'm not writing this to talk about those kinds of tiresome men and their tiresome demands. I know if you're reading this, even if you have that pesky y chromosome, you're not that guy. My readers are all sensitive and intelligent and can read the damn room and wouldn't demand flirty engagement from a tired middle-aged woman in the middle of the night in the middle of the grocery store (8:00 pm is TOO the middle of the night!)

The reason I'm writing this is because it struck me in that moment that through most of my life, I've had it reinforced through thousands of cultural factors that it's women who are the bummers, who make everyone behave and act right, who gum up the good times. And it was so ingrained that it took me to this ripe old age to realize that, hey, that's not fair! Women are much more aggressively tone- and behavior-policed than men and can often only relax when the guys go away.

Where's our damn beer commercial? It can be for Zima. I had a Zima a couple of nights ago. It was refreshing. I think we may have been too hard on Zima in the 90s. But that's a topic for another blogging...

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Let's Discuss Our Feelings

Remember 2010? Before the nightmarish reality we're living in now? In an interview with Matt Lauer, George W Bush said the worst moment of his presidency was when Kanye West said "George W Bush doesn't care about black people."  Let's revisit the whole exchange and remember that while he is certainly better than what we have now, he was still pretty terrible:

(Click to embiggen)

Had New Orleans 9th Ward been filled with white people, the response to Katrina would have been vastly different. 

(I had to do ONE gif!)
But George Bush had no problem claiming that his hurt feelings were more important than a devastating flood that killed almost 2000 people and dispossessed thousands more. Shoot, George Bush thought being called racist by Kanye West was worse than 9 Freaking 11.

We have to stop doing that, my Nillas. We really do.  Being called racist is not worse than racism. In particular:
  • If you're investing energy railing against the casting of Black actors in roles that you thought belonged to white people, you're part of the problem
  • If you're arguing on-line or on barstools that it's not racism keeping Colin Kaepernick out of the NFL, you're part of the problem.
  • If you're putting out dumb tweets talking about how a democratic senator having been in the Klan somehow mitigates Trump's racism, you're part of the problem.
  • If you're talking about how only All Lives Matter isn't racist, you're a particularly dumb part of the problem.
  • And, for the love of God, If you're investing energy about how confederate memorials aren't actually celebrating white supremacy, you're part of the problem.
I follow some Black twitterers who go hard on White women from time to time. And sometimes, I get them bad feelings and want real bad to say "But I don't do that!" But then, I stop myself and go:

(OK, 2 gifs...)
There is no worse response to accusations of racist collusion by White women than going all #NotAllWhiteWomen. Don't go all #NotAllWhiteWomen. Rather than rush to defend ourselves, my fellow Brunchers, we need to rush to defend anti-racism.

White Supremacists are emboldened and loud and have all of the guns and a real powerful ally in the Racist-in-Chief. Our hurt feelings are a pretty minor consideration, all things considered.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Lifetime Limits

As you think about what to say to your senators today when you...

CALL YOUR SENATORS's something to think about.  The GOP activists trying to kill the ACA have convinced the 36% of America that lives in anger, resentment and gullibility that anyone who works can have healthcare and that all the ACA does is give healthcare to shiftless, lazy Americans.  Here's a story about an American whose life has been made immeasurably better by the ACA.

Cindy is a teacher. She teaches little kids and she is an awesome teacher. And I think we can agree that anyone who earns their living by shaping the minds of young people is doing good hard work and has earned the salary that is almost certainly insufficient for what she does.  She also has a condition called Fabry. Untreated, someone with Fabry can expect their first stroke by their early 40s. Cindy tells me that prior to treatment she had a chronic kidney infection which was completely reversed by these injections.

Fabry also hurts. A lot.

Fortunately, Fabry is treatable with injections of a drug called Fabrazyme.

Which costs $90,000 a month.

When the ACA was voted into law (after an extensive bipartisan process), it prohibited any health plan from putting dollar or lifetime dollar limits on the benefits you receive. Prior to this, many plans set a lifetime limit.

Did I mention that Fabry was genetic? And that Cindy has a young daughter named Delaney?

Insurance companies would love to reinstate that lifetime limit, meaning if Delaney does have Fabry, she could reach her lifetime limit on healthcare before she reaches adulthood.

It probably goes without saying that Cindy is really scared right now.

These are the real world effects of the ACA. I'm begging you not to sit on your hands. Commit to making at least five calls today (senators and governors!), fire up Twitter (#saveACA) and make noise. If you can make it to a protest, go to one. Get loud.  Do it for Cindy and Delaney.

The last thing Cindy said to me when I was asking for her permission to write this was:

She's the best.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Time for La Marseillaise

On June 14, 1940, the Nazis marched past the Arc De Triomphe after the surrender of Paris.  If there'd been a Twitter, I wonder if it would have been full of "Well, that's it. We're all gonna die." I don't think so. I think those Fabulous Frogs would have pulled up their sleeves and kept on fighting.

Look, come on, it's bad, but it's not over, not nearly by a long shot. To paraphrase the guy who was president 7 months ago (really! It's only been 7 months): Yes. We. Fucking. Can.

Imagine, the Nazis are singing Horst-Wessel-Lied in the bar. I'm going all Rick:

BTW: this scene ALWAYS makes me cry. You?
Here's what you're gonna do: you're gonna pull up your sleeves and keep fighting. We're going to sing La Marseillaise into the earholes of every DC senate staffer (not literally... you guys get that I'm not being literal, right?) every day, a couple of times a day.

I believe it was Charles Dickens in A Christmas Carol who said "Ignorance is a motherfucker!" Wise man.   He's correct. I had a woman on Twitter tell me that Medicaid was only for the disabled and children and that anyone who worked is able to afford healthcare. I asked her if she really thought that Wal-Mart employees would be able to afford dialysis or chemotherapy or blood pressure meds. She told me that Wal-Mart would pay for their coverage.

So, some quick facts:

- They'll first try to pass something that turns the house bill into repeal only. Unlikely to pass.
- They're not gonna get BCRA (the senate bill) through. Even on its own, they don't have the votes, but the Parliamentarian has determined, and they've conceded, that it can't pass through reconciliation, so it needs 60 votes.
- So they're going to try this thing called "Skinny Repeal" which would eliminate the individual mandate and perhaps cut a few taxes.

So Skinny Repeal is what we're fighting against. And, y'all, it's ugly! Here's the thing: insurance doesn't work when only sick people buy it. Without the mandate, healthy young people don't buy it. And then the insurance markets spiral out of control and that, friends, is pretty bad. The CBO predicts 32 million people will lose coverage. And those of us with keen employer-based healthcare? We're not sitting that pretty either as the insurance markets will likely crater.

What can you do? Gosh... dunno... is there anything...


It's especially important to stay on GOP senators. If you're in Alaska or Maine, call up Murkowski or Collins and give them a HUGE thank you! If you live in West Virginia or Ohio or Nevada or Arizona, you should be calling 5 or 6 times a day, tweeting at your senators, commenting on their FB posts! But even if you live in deep red Texas or Tennessee, your calls matter. Corbyn's the Whip and he's Texas. Let him know how mad you are, let him know that there will be a lot fewer GOP votes to whip if they keep this up. If you're in Tennessee, let Bob Corker know that you know this is NOTHING like how O'Care was passed:

And if you have Democrat senators, call them up and say "Thanks and give 'em hell!" They count these calls.  

And, fellow dwellers in Blue States, I know I've been saying that there's 36% that can't be convinced. This is true - but it doesn't mean you can't gently correct them in public places. Just for the rest of this week, try to mitigate the damage done by Fox News and Breitbart. Speak up - everywhere you can. Engage in awkward conversations with family members. Comment, politely (don't yell, don't go all caps, don't call anyone an idiot), on your Uncle's FB rant about ObozoCare. You likely won't convince him - but there may be someone lurking there that you can.  If you have a story, share it. Share it loud and proud and all over the damn place.

It's one week, folks. They are desperate to get this through now because they know they're gonna lose the House in 2018. So STAY LOUD! 

Finally, remember this: America isn't some abstract concept forced on us. It IS us. And that part of America that understands that policy has to mean something beyond politics; that it's not just wins and losses, that pissing off the "other side" doesn't get you anything in the end has to fight that motherfucker Ignorance with everything we've got.

So speak up! We're all in this together.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Healthcare (plus Princess Bride Gifs! That's fun!)

So I've been haranguing and harassing my dearest friends all up and over the social media about calling their senators. And, look, I know I'm being exhausting.  I know you're all:


Well... as literally everyone knows: healthcare is complicated!

Here are the facts:
  • Modern Republican ideology does not believe the government should have any part in healthcare. They believe it should be left to the private markets. 
  • The also know this is an enormously unpopular opinion. People rely on Medicaid. People rely on the ACA, even though they know it falls short.
  • The ACA is the MOST conservative route to making sure healthcare is provided to all Americans. It cannot get any more conservative without people losing coverage and premiums rising. If there were a way to make it more conservative, that plan would have been floated long ago.
  • The flaws with the ACA are easily fixed.  Here's are some internet articles which you can read, or you can take my word for it because I'm right.
  • The president does not understand how health insurance works and is only interested in a win
  • I don't know if Mitch McConnell is so eager to repeal the ACA because of Republican ideology or because he's a political hack who's lost the ability to see government beyond winners and losers. Doesn't really matter. What matters is that his own constituents went from 20.8% uninsured to 7.8% uninsured between 2013-2016 because of Medicaid expansion (called Kynect there) and will be among the 18-22 million people who will lose coverage if the ACA is repealed. Actually, I'm sort of leaning towards partisan hack.
  • He is currently pushing for a vote on Tuesday to repeal the ACA and then ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. 
  • The plan is to pass something without a CBO score, under the cover of darkness, while folks are confused and think it's dead.  It's not dead.
  • There were months and months of public hearings on the ACA. It took over a year to pass and Republicans always had a seat at the table. This current mishegas is entirely covert.
  • This doesn't just affect the poor saps on Medicaid. Insurance markets will collapse under this plan

  • And, no, you shouldn't hope that they repeal it, everything goes tits up and then the Republicans lose. Because people will die. Because right now there's some guy with cancer in Kentucky who voted for Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump and we are not monsters who hope he'll die for those sins. Because right now there's a woman in Chicago (which is in Illinois, where our Republican governor has had NOTHING to say about this because he is a huge coward) who relies on Medicaid to keep her blood pressure meds. We're goddamn motherfucking better than the political hacks who play with people's lives for petty politics.  

Here's the last thing that matters and I'm gonna go ALL CAPS AND BOLD when I say this:


If you have a Republican senator, they need to know that this is a career-defining vote (to quote my boyz at Crooked Media).  Pick up your phone and give 'em a big old:

Don't go all:

Because you're just talking to some poor staffer. But if you happen to run into a Republican senator and he tells you that no one will lose coverage, I  highly encourage you to go all:

But no matter what, come Monday, pick up your phones, hit up ResistBot, send a fax, do something. 

(Although, if I'm channeling Robin Wright, I'd really rather we were all:

So, let's do it, my #HappyWarriors! Don't let those bastards grind us down. It's only a phone call so just do it! And once we finally kill this thing dead, we can get cracking on Single Payer!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Pink Hair, Don't Care

I don't know about you, but I've been depressed since November. I've been bummed out, freaked out, sad and scared for over seven months. And it's been constant. No matter what I've been doing, there's been a low-key hum behind it all of real peril and despair. Conservatives may mock, but it's for real scary. The bigots and bullies are on the rise, operating in the open, taking over our government. The travel bans and voter suppression. The passionate drive to funnel taxpayer money away from the poor and needy to the wealthy. And the police keep on killing people.

I'm fortunate in that I don't suffer from  clinical depression. I've just been living with the same malaise and angst as the rest of my fellow country-people (*sidenote: it's bullshit that "countrymen" is a word and "countrypeople" isn't) who are watching the worst instincts of our fellow citizens rise up, codified and celebrated. Like a lot of white people I recognized too late the hold that white supremacy and white racial resentment has on this country (Black people have been telling us for years!  There's no one more deaf than the ones who will not hear, right?).

It's just been a generally sucky seven months, right?

I was listening to a "Lovett or Leave It" this morning when Jon Lovett (whom I love) said that when they founded Crooked Media one of the things they thought about was how they needed "happy warriors."  Cynicism and defeatism don't make for change. They're great tools for self-protection. But self-protection is isolating and not terribly productive.

So, tonight I dyed my hair. I am 48 years old and I dyed my hair "rose gold" and I look at myself in the mirror and I just fucking love it.  This is what people are talking about when they talk about self care. Do that thing that makes you feel better. Dye your hair, take a walk, engage in some friendly chit chat with someone in line at the grocery. Eat chocolate. Watch Game of Thrones or endless repeats of Parks and Rec. Argue with someone over who the best Chris is (it's Pine. Chris Pine is the best Chris). Don't deny yourself the joy in life just because we're in dark times. Indulge more. Refuse to be scared. Deny terror its power. Laugh at the ridiculous. Hug the folks you love. Look the way you want to look. Happy Warriors make for change. Weirdos and misfits will lead the resistance.

A few years ago, I'd have told you I was too old to have pink hair. But, fuck that noise. It makes me happy. It puts a smile on my face and some energy in my step. And so I am a pink-haired, middle-aged happy warrior.

And I just love it.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Quick Lunchtime Bloggity

Just called my senators over my lunch of two-week-old pretzels eaten directly from the bag (someone is going to have to get to the store real soon).  The good news is that it took me a few calls to get through because they are experiencing heavy call volume about the AHCA.  So, to those of you who are calling:

And if you're not calling, here are some quick bullet points:

  • There are 13 male GOP senators locked away in a room drafting this bill in total secrecy. No one has any idea what's in it
  • Mitch McConnell wants to pass this thing before the July 4th recess when he knows that senators are going to be beat up during town halls, etc
  • There is not a Democrat in the House or the Senate who would disagree that the ACA needs some work and not one who wouldn't work willingly across the aisle to fix it. The GOP Congress Critters pointing at the Democrats and the ACA all know this, don't care, and will happily dissemble away in pursuit of passing this terrible bill.
The question that remains, of course, is WHY does Mitch McConnell want to pass this terrible bill that people are going to hate.  If they pass it, the terrible bill becomes a terrible law.  It's bad politics and bad policy. So, WTF?

And then it occurred to me that the GOP will do what they always do and blame Democrats for the crap-pile they built.  They'll get buy-in on this wholesale lie from Fox News and a chunk of America will believe it despite how obviously untrue it is:

So we gotta stop this bill in its tracks and the best way to do that is by calling your damn senators. These calls matter.  They are how we stopped it in the House the first time and why, when we stopped calling, they got it through the second time.

I'm going to make it super easy and tell you exactly what to say:

Democratic Senator
Democrats have a couple of ways to stop this thing.  Indivisible has a pretty good run down on what these methods are, but I like my script more.  So here's what you say:

You: Hello, could I leave a quick message for the senator?
Them: Of course
You: I'd like to encourage the senator to do whatever s/he can to stop the AHCA bill from coming to a vote before July 4th. I'd support filibuster-by-amendment for a reconciliation vote or withholding consent.  This is a very serious, very scary bill and we need to stop it by whatever means we have. Thank you.
Them: Thank you. What is your zip code
You: [I don't know what your damn zip code is.  Just tell them whatever it is]

Republican Senator
This Indivisible script I like a little more. But if you want to keep it short and sweet, like I do, then try this:

You: Hello, could I leave a quick message for the senator?
Them: Of course
You: I would like to express my anger at the secrecy under which the AHCA bill is being drafted and demand that the senator not vote for any bill until it's had a full public hearing, a CBO score and is confident that no American will lose healthcare through its implementation. Thank you.
Them: Thank you. What is your zip code
You: [I don't know what your damn zip code is.  Just tell them whatever it is]

Remember, be nice and polite to these staffers. No swearing, no yelling, no sneering. Be friendly, polite and calm.

Look, guys, I'm going to England next week.  I can't make my calls.  Do it for me.  These calls super duper matter. They matter so much I've removed all the f-bombs from this blogpost because I want you to be able to share it with all your friends. These calls matter bigly.  They are urgent.  Call every day.  Tell your friends on your own social media feeds to make the calls.  We need to flood the senate and tell them re: AHCA - 

Did my Obama gifs make you sad?  Make you miss back when we had competent, rational, drama-free leadership and all the POTUS tweets were boring and written by staffers? Good. Liberal complacency is what got us the Incompetent Orange Menace. Pick up your phones and Make Them Calls! 

Saturday, June 10, 2017

On Distractions, Distractibility and Also Some Dumb Gifs

This is me every time I see one of the endless Russia-is-a-distraction hot takes:


1) Donald J. Trump is not some kind of badass brilliant strategist.  He is, to quote the delightful Jon Lovett, a dotty old racist

2) Russia interfered with our election and that is, empirically, a big fucking deal which we should all be watching like:

3) Paying attention to this story means you care about important stuff and does not mean you're all:

4) Finally, calling someone stupid in service of exaggerating your own political acumen is not a particularly persuasive editorial technique.

All that said, I think it's pretty evident that the Congressional GOoPers are taking advantage of this story (which, not to put too fine a point on it, is a BIG FUCKING DEAL) in order to do some real damage in their constant pursuit to fuck over the poor and vulnerable in order to give big tax breaks to really rich people.

To wit:

- Overturn Dodd-Frank - In 2008 our economy crashed and one of the prime movers of this crash was de-regulation. Republicans will tell you that Business People understand how to Business because they are all Business-y and not a bunch of dirty hippies like Elizabeth Warren.  But if you look at this chart:

Let's all remember that the rich boys who crashed our economy stayed rich before, during and after.  Because that's who all their Business brilliance does its Business for: keeping the rich rich and not caring fuck all about those of us who aren't.

We have a problem with gross wealth inequality in America.  Let's look at another chart!  Charts are fun!

The Reagan administration began enacting policies whereby American wealth was shifted more and more to the wealthy and away from the rest of us and this is now pretty much the official religion of the American rightwing political class. This chart BLOWS MY MIND!  It makes me want to TAKE MY COUNTRY BACK.  Only I want to take it back from guys like this:

And not like this:

Because these people are just living their lives and are taking the subway and are not the problem and not in your way and also only have the tiniest sliver or what we got here anyway!

Dodd-Frank won't fix all our (or even most) of our problems with income inequality.  But it will keep the door open for more regulation and may stop those rich bastards from crashing our economy again.

2. ACA Repeal - There is not a democrat in either house of our Congress who wouldn't eagerly work with their Republican colleagues to fix the ACA.  The GOP lies and lies and lies again about this. I wish all of you (both of you) would watch Claire McCaskill take Orrin Hatch to task on this:

ACA repeal is bad. ACA reform is good. But don't ever forget what the GOP is really after is a tax break for the rich.  And this makes me so mad!

(Finally gonna see WW today and I'm PSYCHED!)
You may be reading this and thinking:

Well, human men and woman, I think you should be picking up your phone every day and calling your senators and reps about this.  I don't care if you're in the reddest of the red or the bluest of the blue.  These calls matter.  Josh Marshall explains it all here, but here's a pull quote:
If your Rep is a diehard “yes” in a safe district, you should still call. Why? First, no one is ever that safe. But the more important point is that when people in safe seats hear more than they expected, they will rightly get the sense that other people in their caucus might go down to defeat. So they may no longer be in the majority. Especially today, parties operate as units. No representative is an island.
Every day. Pick up your phone.  It's two minutes out of your day and it matters.  Resistance is one phone call away. Just. Do. It!!!!

(Recommend that you say this in your head rather than out loud)