In which I fight evil

It was a good day. It was a stressful day– I was fully expecting someone to die somewhere because of the inauguration, and I may have more thoughts on it later. But it appears that everything went off without any violence, and the right-wing goon squad seems to have dried up and blown away without the Asshole encouraging them on Twitter. Hopefully it will stay that way.

I had a Thing happen, though, unrelated to the inauguration, and if you don’t mind I’m just going to embed a bunch of Tweets because I’d tell the story the same way here anyway.

(These appear to have embedded obnoxiously, which I apologize for, but hopefully a single click will take you straight to Twitter, where you can read these and view the images in native format.)

What particularly annoys me about this is that when I’m daydreaming about winning the lottery, the specific way in which I fantasize about being ultra-rich is that I want to set up a charitable foundation, and part of the way I want to use the funds for my charitable foundation is by flitting around the Internet and randomly and anonymously completely fulfilling people who post GoFundMes and various and sundry other “I’m getting evicted, please send me money” types of things. And I can imagine a world where I might actually just do a Twitter search for “credit card debt,” and then ask for Venmo addresses so I can send folks money. So I decided to take this seriously until it proved to be a scam (which was what I expected) or I somehow got $3K from the money fairy on Joe Biden’s Inauguration Day, which trust me, was about to be taken as an omen.

Instead, hopefully I got to ruin a scammer’s day. I mean, probably not, but I hope at least BoA zaps that account and Twitter bans Annette. Either way, all in a day’s work, I guess.

In which I am reliably informed both parties are the same

There is a thing that I’ve been saying lately, which is that whenever Republicans get into the White House they tend to staff the various federal departments with people whose entire lives have existed in contrary to the mission of that department. Betsy DeVos, who has worked to destroy public education for her entire life, became Secretary of Education, for example. Oil execs get put in charge of the environment. Even in cases where a Republican might actually be an acceptable public servant in one role– I have no reason to believe Ben Carson would have been a terrible Surgeon General, for example– they get put into roles that do not actually match their skill sets, like HUD.

I’ve asked several times for the Internet to provide me with even a single example of a Democrat putting, say, a lifelong pacifist in charge of the Defense Department or something similar, and never once have they come through for me. But hey! Biden’s entire Cabinet is, like, right there! And, granted, none of them have been officially confirmed yet, and so it’s entirely possible some things might change, but let’s take a quick look (a quick look; I don’t have all day) at these folks and see if any of them appear to be painfully unsuited for office:

NAME: Anthony Blinken
POSITION: Secretary of State
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Looks like he’s been deputy Secretary of State, Deputy NSA Advisor, and Biden’s own NSA advisor. He passes.

NAME: Janet Yellen
POSITION: Secretary of the Treasury
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Chair of the Federal Reserve, Vice Chair of the Federal Reserve, Member of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. Pass!

NAME: Lloyd Austin
POSITION: Secretary of Defense
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Retired four-star general, former CENTCOM commander. Pass.

NAME: Merrick Garland
POSITION: Attorney General
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: I don’t even need to look this one up: experienced lawdog, former Supreme Court nominee, the guy who sent Timothy McVeigh to jail. Pass.

NAME: Deb Haaland
POSITION: Secretary of the Interior
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Elected official, Vice-Chair of the Committee on National Resources while in the House. I don’t really know what the Secretary of the Interior does but this sounds good.

NAME: Tom Vilsack
POSITION: Secretary of Agriculture
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: I assume anyone from Iowa can do this job. Next!

NAME: Gina Raimondo
POSITION: Secretary of Commerce
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Governor of Rhode Island, General Treasurer of Rhode Island, and according to Wikipedia a former venture capitalist. Has a degree from Harvard in economics. Pass!

NAME: Marty Walsh
POSITION: Secretary of Labor
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Former Mayor of Boston and member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives. Former union president, former head of the Boston Building Trades. Pass.

NAME: Xavier Becerra
POSITION: Secretary of Health and Human Services
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Previous AG of California, former House representative. Econ degree from Stanford. I admit I don’t see anything that screams HHS to me but I’m not a hundred percent what would.

Are we starting to see a trend here? But these are just the topline folks, let’s keep going. Surely we’ll find an anarchist or a pacifist or a felon or something in here somewhere.

NAME: Marcia Fudge
POSITION: Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Another “solid public servant” sort of nomination; Fudge was in the House and is a former mayor. She was born and raised in Cleveland and appears to still live there– the city she was mayor of is an East Side suburb– so I’m going to go out on a limb and assume some competence with urban issues.

NAME: Pete Buttigieg
POSITION: Secretary of Transportation
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Used to be my mayor. Once nearly got killed by an inattentive driver while jaywalking. Uh … rearranged a lot of streets downtown while mayor in a way that actually did really improve downtown? (Important note: there are no longer any one-way streets downtown, which means the scenario I describe in that link is no longer possible.) I dunno, he’ll do fine, and he’s not, like, opposed to the concept of transportation or something like that.

NAME: Jennifer Granholm
POSITION: Secretary of Energy
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Former Attorney General and Governor of Michigan; again, I admit there’s nothing in her bio that screams “Secretary of Energy,” but she hasn’t spent her entire career trying to shut down power plants and force us to go back to fire or anything like that. Wikipedia notes that her nomination was “received favourably among major energy experts,” and spelled “favourably” exactly like that. Does not appear to be a slave of the oil industry or anything like that, either.

NAME: Miguel Cardona
POSITION: Secretary of Education
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: First SecEd nominee in two administrations who I didn’t think was literally Satan (remember, I think Obama was shit on education too,) so he has to be a step up. Literally anyone would be a step up over DeVos.

NAME: Denis McDonough
POSITION: Secretary of Veterans Affairs
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: White House Chief of Staff, Deputy NSA, graduated from Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service. Curiously, does not appear to be an actual military veteran. That’s kind of shaky, but the rest of his resume is solid.

NAME: Alejandro Mayorkas
POSITION: Secretary of Homeland Security
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Former Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security, so … yep. We’re good here.

NAME: Ron Klain
POSITION: Chief of Staff
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: The Chief of Staff is a Cabinet member? Sure, fine, he can have whoever he wants here.

NAME: Michael Regan
POSITION: EPA Administrator
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, worked for the EPA during the Bush and Clinton administrations, regional director for the Environmental Defense fund. Note that his predecessor in this role was a coal lobbyist. He passes.

NAME: Neera Tanden
POSITION: Office of Management and Budget Director
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Neera’s been all over the place, and appears to be an asshole of the My Kind of Asshole variety, but has experience at the Center for American Progress, helped to draft Obamacare, and was Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama’s policy director during their presidential runs. All good.

NAME: Katherine Tai
POSITION: U.S. Trade Representative
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: She’s the chief trade counsel for the House Ways and Means committee, so this is another “I’m not sure what you do, but yeah, that sounds good” nominee.

NAME: Isabel Guzman
POSITION: Small Business Administrator
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Appears to have previously had basically this exact job for the state of California, which is, what, a third of the US economy? She’ll do fine.

NAME: Avril Haines
POSITION: National Intelligence Director
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Deputy NSA under Obama, former Deputy Director of the CIA. All good.

NAME: Linda Thomas-Greenfield
POSITION: UN Ambassador
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: I kind of assume anybody can be an ambassador, because it tends to be a “donated a lot of money and wants patronage now” sort of job, but she was the assistant SoS for African Affairs and the Director General of the foreign service, and has been an ambassador to Liberia, so again, yeah, sounds great.

NAME: Cecilia Rouse
POSITION: Chair of Council of Economic Advisers
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: I mean … she’s an economist? Dean of the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs? She’s fucking FIVE YEARS YOUNGER THAN ME?? Christ.

NAME: John Kerry
POSITION: Special Presidential Envoy for Climate
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: I mean, he was Secretary of State. John’s gotta have some kind of job, that ketchup money isn’t gonna last forever.

NAME: Eric Lander
POSITION: Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: I said on Twitter the other day, and I wasn’t joking, that the first Republican nominee to this office would be an illiterate Pentecostal preacher. This is a new Cabinet-level position created by Biden, and the guy he’s tapped for the job is a mathematician and geneticist and somehow is a professor at MIT and Harvard at the same God damned time and yeah I think he’ll do just fine.

So, what was the worst I was able to find? A few people with reasonably solid resumes whose experience didn’t seem precisely suited to the position they were nominated for based on a cursory Wikipedia search. A whole lot of people with lots of experience that is directly related to the position they were nominated for. And Pete Buttigieg. Who will do just fine, I’m sure; I’m kidding. Now, I’m not claiming these are all good people, or that they’ll all be good at their jobs; some of them may not actually take their offices, some won’t last long, one or two will end up getting fired; hell, one or two may end up getting indicted, who knows. But there’s no one on this list where you look at them and immediately know that their actual job is to sabotage the department they’ve been nominated to head and keep it from doing anyone else any good.

Funny how that works.

That time of year again

…It’s Dear God White People Shut Up day!

I talk about this every year, and I do it to remind my fellow white people: Martin Luther King would have been to the left of every major politician you can name, and next year I need to mute his name on MLK Day because I get so unbelievably tired of (mostly) conservative politicians deliberately erasing everything about what the man thought in favor of a toddler’s conception of Jesus; ie, the Nicest Man Who Ever Lived, who never made anyone uncomfortable in any way and how dare you suggest any such thing. White people hated him when he was killed (by, uh, a white guy; not an accident) and the simple fact is if he were still alive and kicking most of us– most of the white men, at least– would hate him today too. There are politicians who praised him today who this month have voted to disenfranchise Black voters. It is proof of the nonexistence of life after death that this man, having spent most of said afterlife talking to Malcolm X and watching white people continue the Same Exact Shit, has not risen from his grave to slap his name out of the mouths of all sorts of people.

This is another one of those days where it is made perfectly clear to me (not that I ever doubted it) that I cannot possibly understand the Black experience in this country, because I am driven to snarling incoherent rage several times a week by white nonsense and I do not understand why Black people aren’t killing us all the time. I would understand it.

One minor little detail about that tweet that at least entertained me if not generating a minor amount of actual pride, much like a puppy that has received a single pat on the head: the head of the Afro-American Studies department at Howard University retweeted it. I’m not sure I should be as geeked by that as I am, but whatever. I’ll take my joys where I can get them this year.

(Also, the rest of the speech quoted in the tweet is here; I hadn’t read it before today and it’s well worth reading.)


I got a lot done today, and one of the things on that list was putting together lesson plans for tomorrow and the day after. My plans for Inauguation Day? Nothing. I expect to be a jittery wreck for most of the day even if it goes smoothly, and while none of my students really seem especially into politics or The News I suspect a handful of them are worried about it as well. So fuck it. I gave them a day off on Wednesday, which is typically a day with no in-person instruction anyway, because of “district training” that somehow never involves middle school math teachers. I also cancelled the 8th grade team meeting, and flat-out admitted in the email that I was doing it because I didn’t expect to be in any shape to take it seriously.

So far, nobody’s come after me. I don’t expect that to change, but we’ll see what happens.

How to make everything worse, racist cops edition

The South Bend Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge #36, recently posted this image to their Facebook page:

You will note the Santa in the lower-right corner is making That Gesture. This was posted to bring attention to the police union’s Elficers program, which is a toy and food Thanksgiving donation thing.

You can probably write the rest of this post on your own.

I believe the following things:

  • That’s a stock image, and was found by someone Googling “Cool Santa.”
  • That there is no real reason to believe that the image itself was meant as a stealth white power thing. Now, blah blah blah deniability and all that, I understand the point of why these assholes adopted this gesture, but still. I feel like that’s probably innocuous.
  • I’m a little less willing to cut whoever chose the image the same amount of slack, but I’m still willing in principle to cut them said slack, depending on how they react to being told about the image.

Go ahead, take a guess. What do you think happened when the local police union was told that the Santa they picked to help promote their Thanksgiving charity drive was making a racist gesture?

I’ll give you a minute.

Did you choose “double down” of fucking course they doubled down:

So, uh, here’s the thing, guys: It would’ve taken y’all less than ten minutes, max, to redo that image with any other Santa on that Google search list. There is no reason– no reason at all— to get defensive about that one. It’s a fucking stock photo. There are hundreds of other available images to choose from. You could have replaced the image, issued a literal two-sentence apology (“It was brought to our attention that a portion of this image featured a gesture many find offensive, which was not our intention. We apologize and have replaced the picture.”) and been done. Everybody would have forgotten about it in no time flat and, well, there wouldn’t be an article in the Goddamned paper about it today. I wouldn’t even know about it, and I wouldn’t be posting this today.

But nah, y’all couldn’t do that, could you?

And that is what makes it clear that y’all are racist as fuck. Because now there’s no deniability. Because you were told that Santa was making a racist gesture and you could have fixed it in seconds and instead your response is “Nah, it’s fine, fuck y’all.”

ACAB, even when they don’t have to be.

Second verse, same as the first

Ten Republicans.

This man incited a mob to storm the Capitol, where they called for his own Vice President to be hung. There’s no doubt about this. There’s no alternate explanation. This is a thing that happened. And only ten Republicans in the House thought that was reason to remove him from office.

Not included among the ten: Greg Pence, Mike Pence’s brother. That crowd was seeking to murder his own brother and he still can’t turn on the worst president America has ever had. Hell, Mike Pence can’t bring himself to impose any consequences.

I do not understand these people. I’m still trying to play this game over here where I’m doing my damnedest to understand them, to treat them like they’re people, and I just can’t do it. I can’t.

I am terrified that they’re all going to end up just … skating. I mean, sure, only president to be impeached twice and all, and honestly I wouldn’t be surprised if they did end up convicting him in the Senate, because I think McConnell is done with him and that’s all that really matters. It won’t be done soon enough to matter, though.

But there’s a whole lot of people in office who need to not be in office any longer. A whole lot of people. Lay aside, for the moment, the notion that these people saw all this happen, had to run and hide and barricade themselves inside secure rooms as people outside bayed for their blood and murdered police officers, that these same people then came out of hiding and still voted to overturn the election. Let’s actually forget about that for a moment.

Today, several House members were deliberately evading metal detectors so that they could bring who the fuck knows what onto the House floor, at least two of them have claimed that they have brought guns onto the House floor, and three of them may have literally escorted some of the seditionists through the halls of the Capitol building to make sure they knew where to go during the riot. One of them tweeted out the location of the Speaker during the riot. And we’ve heard today of House members who didn’t secure themselves with certain Republican members because they didn’t think they could be trusted.

These people have got to be expelled from our legislature. And if some of these allegations are true they’ve got to be jailed for a long, long time.

And in the longer term, the Republican Party absolutely must be torn up by the roots and left to rot. They’ve done nothing for my entire lifetime but get worse. This has got to stop.

But it won’t.