On #deletefacebook

I hate Facebook.

I feel like I have to have started a dozen posts with that sentence by now. I hate Facebook, I’ve always hated Facebook, I resisted having a Facebook page for years after most of my friends were already on the service, and my tenure there was characterized by frequently shutting my account down for a while and occasionally deleting every single thing I’d ever posted to the site. I finally permanently shut my Clark Kent account down … a year ago? Two? Longer? I dunno, it’s gone, and my only presence there now is as Luther. Luther rarely posts anything other than the automatic notifications of new posts, although I do comment occasionally on other people’s stuff.

Here’s the thing: Facebook does allow me to at least nominally keep an eye on some people who I’d have fallen out of touch with otherwise. But the site in the last couple of years has transitioned from Something What I Don’t Like to, like, actually genuinely becoming evil, and it’s getting harder and harder to justify having a presence there. The problem is (and I’ve said this before) that I do get a decent amount of traffic driven my way from there (I am not unaware that many of you are seeing the first couple of paragraphs of my I-still-don’t-like-Facebook post on Facebook), and while it’s not like I make any money from the blog I do like the idea that people look at it every now and again. The other problem, and this is a bit more serious, is that many of the shows that I go to to sell books basically only have a presence on Facebook. They have websites, but the websites are static, and the number of important updates from conventions that I’ve only seen because I was following them on Facebook is quite a bit larger than it should be.

I’m able to justify remaining on the site because I block nearly all of their ads (I saw an unaltered Facebook page not too long ago and was shocked at how much clutter and advertising I’ve been avoiding with my adblocker) and, well, nearly everything the site thinks it knows about me isn’t true. Facebook isn’t making any money off of mining my data. My name, birthday, home city and a bunch of other stuff are all either at best sorta-true (Luther, as a pseudonym, exists, I suppose) or utter lies. I have tagging turned off in photos and most of my privacy settings turned up to 12 so even if someone were to put my picture up somewhere they can’t tag me in it, and if they did, it would be under the wrong name.

Don’t get me wrong, I wish other people would stop using Facebook, and I wish these cons would have more robust websites so that I didn’t have to have a Facebook account to interact with them. If the site shriveled up and died I wouldn’t miss it at all. But I still have one because right now I feel like to a certain extent at least I have to, and the second I no longer think that’s true will be a happy day around here.

On Bernie

The following things are, I believe, all true:

  • I will vote for Bernie Sanders if he is the Democratic nominee for President. I will do this cheerfully, with a spring in my step and a song in my heart, and there is nothing on this planet or in the heavens that can prevent me from voting against the shitgibbon next November short of my own death.
  • I would prefer nearly every other serious Democratic candidate currently running to be the nominee. I might end up choosing Bernie over Biden at this point, honestly.
  • While I am not a fan of Sanders, I bear the man no actual ill will. I’m happy for him to remain in the Senate for as long as he’s able, and I’m grateful for his role in bringing the more leftward elements of the Democratic party more to the forefront.
  • I’m glad he’s recovering and out of the hospital.
  • He is 78 years old, will be 79 when inaugurated, just had a heart attack, had two stents put in, and his campaign lied about it for three days.
  • That is not as catastrophic of a medical disaster as it would have been even ten or fifteen years ago. My mother and my father-in-law both have stents in various parts of their bodies. It’s a fairly simple procedure, as these things go.
  • He needs to drop out anyway, and everyone who knows him and loves him needs to be telling him this until he listens.

I’m genuinely sorry to have to be saying this right now, despite the fact that I have gleefully called for Sanders to drop out of the Presidential race more than once in the past, and fully expected to be doing so several months into the future. But I was expecting for some votes to have been cast before we reached this point. I don’t like the idea that the guy needs to drop out so that the race doesn’t literally kill him. But this is it. It’s enough. He’d be the oldest President ever inaugurated, and it’s the toughest job on the damn planet, and a 78-year-old man who just had a heart attack and whose campaign’s first instinct was to hide from it is not up to the job. I am aware that one of my preferred candidates is 70, and believe me, I wish she were a decade or so younger. But this guy is five years older than the monster in the White House is now, and that guy’s visibly falling apart on a daily basis, and I’d expect Bernie to actually pay attention were he to become President.

It’s time for Bernie Sanders to withdraw gracefully from the race, before his body betrays him again and he has to do so under less voluntary circumstances.

#REVIEW: The Hidden History of the Supreme Court and the Betrayal of America, by Thom Hartmann

Back in June I was lucky enough to receive an early review copy of Thom Hartmann’s The Hidden History of Guns and the Second Amendment. I mentioned in the review that the book was part of a series– a series that I have since discovered is planned to run ten books— and that the second volume was to be out in October.

That was true! The Hidden History of the Supreme Court and the Betrayal of America was released on October 1 and should now be available anywhere you might happen to buy books. I was able to snag a copy of the second book in the series through the same folks that sent me the first one, and I sat down and read it tonight after getting home from work.

The book, and as I’m writing this I’m feeling like nonfiction needs a word similar to novella, is 156 pages long plus a dozen or so pages of footnotes and an index, and is divided into three sections. The first section is devoted to the founding fathers’ view of the Court and how the principle of judicial review became one of the Court’s powers. The second discusses the Court’s frequent rulings against the people in favor of the rich and powerful and corporate interests, and the third section– by far the shortest– is about how we might break the current right-wing stranglehold on the Court and, uh, save the world in the process.

I enjoyed Guns and the Second Amendment quite a bit. I was less a fan of this one, to be honest. To begin, it shares many of the weaknesses of the first book, weaknesses that are intrinsic to deliberately writing a book this short– I don’t have a wordcount handy, but I would suspect this book to be no longer than 30 to 40,000 words if it’s even that long, and it took me no longer than an hour or two to read. The sources, again like the first book, are almost entirely to websites, meaning that that entire part of the book will be useless in a few years, and this book feels a bit unfocused in a way that Guns and the Second Amendment didn’t. There’s simply a lot more to discuss when you’re talking about the Supreme Court– and as a result this book feels much more cursory and, to be honest, slapdash than the first volume did. This is, in large part, due to the deliberate decision by the author to write a short book, of course; I leave it up to you to decide if that aspect of it is going to be a problem for you or not.

A second problem is that I simply don’t have much sympathy for Hartmann’s core argument. I don’t believe that the first section ever actually directly states that Marbury v. Madison was decided wrongly, but it’s hard to escape that conclusion after reading it; describing the court as “despotic” in more than one place is pretty clear. And the thing is, I just … don’t care if it was the right decision, to be honest. The Constitution was fourteen years old when Marbury v. Madison was decided. We are, I think, well beyond the point where “The Court shouldn’t be able to overturn acts of Congress!” is a reasonable argument. If we’re talking about rewriting the entire Constitution, then okay, let’s discuss judicial review. But as an argument in what is supposed to be a history book? Meh. I just think it’s a silly discussion to be having.

The book is on stronger footing for the second part, although I’m not sure how hidden any of the history really is. The Court really has mostly privileged the wealthy and powerful over much of its tenure, although it’s not unlike basically all of human history in that regard, and there are certainly places where Court decisions have contributed materially to, well, justice. There is a brief review of judicial appointments to the Court since the Nixon years that was quite interesting– I wasn’t aware just how many of the Republican presidents (nearly all of them since Nixon, basically) initially took office under a cloud of some sort, which makes the hard-right turn that the conservative justices have taken over the last 40-50 years all that much more pernicious. And in more recent history, of course, we have Mitch McConnell stealing Obama’s last Supreme Court appointment, and the current occupant of the White House’s selection of perjuring rapist Brett Kavanaugh for the job.

The book wraps up with the rather grandiose claim that it is the composition of the current US Supreme Court that is causing the global climate crisis, or at least preventing us from fixing it, and goes into a few ways– court-packing and jurisdiction-stripping, basically– that we might choose to combat that. I, uh, kinda feel like Step One on this is to get Congress and the White House back, and if I were to line up a whole bunch of people in order of how responsible they were for the fucking mess human civilization is currently in I suppose the US Supreme Court would be on the list but they wouldn’t be as high as Hartmann seems to want them to be. It’s a bit of a stretch, is what I’m saying, and again the length of the book works against the author’s goals here, because you’re gonna need a few more pages to get me to blame the Supreme Court for climate change, particularly when you also make the point that the Supreme Court allowed the EPA to exist in the first place. We’d be worse off without them, in other words.

So … yeah. I wasn’t a huge fan of this book, although there were definitely some interesting parts to it; the series continues to be intriguing, however, and I’ll happily read the third volume– dedicated to the war on voting, which feels like a better fit to this series than the Court does– when it comes out even if my Mysterious Benefactors choose not to bestow a copy on me.

The Hidden History of the Supreme Court and the Betrayal of America is available now.

I’m alive

I have reached the stage of adapting to brain meds where I have been asleep for maybe 38 of the 48 hours since Monday night. I haven’t been to work in two days; I’m going to burn half of my sick days for the year in September and that’s if I manage to make it in tomorrow. I love being completely unreliable, I really do.

When I’ve been awake I’ve mostly been staring at my phone in abject, slack-jawed horror at the news. I feel like it should be elation, as it really does feel like the walls are finally starting to close in on this evil cancer-beast currently shitting up my White House, but it’s not. It’s definitely horror.

Part of me would not be surprised if the motherfucker was out of office by this time next week, honestly. It’s not a big part but it’s there.

Off to bed, then. I have to be up in twelve hours if I want to make it to work and I’m going to need at least that much sleep to be ready for it.

On priorities

I got home late from a deeply shitty day at work, a day whose highlight was a kid looking me square in the eye and telling me I shouldn’t be a teacher, spent an hour or so cleaning, and I’m now deciding between either watching the debate or this copy of Gideon the Ninth that showed up yesterday, and y’all, the debate ain’t got a chance.

See you tomorrow.