Two things immediately come to mind, and they were things that both of my parents and all three of my grandparents (my paternal grandfather died before I was born) did:
1. Encouraged reading in every possible way, from modeling being readers themselves to buying me books to reading to me every day and letting me read to them once I knew how.
2. Never using slurs or making bigoted statements of any kind, against people of color, women, members of the LGBTQ community, disabled people, minority religions, atheists, addicts, immigrants, etc. Every slur and stereotype I learned outside my house.
(The one exception to that was fat hatred. Which was mostly in the form of self-criticism from my parents. And that had an impact, too.)
This is not to suggest that there was never any uninterrogated prejudice or unexamined privilege modeled for me at home. There was. But I was told that all people were equal and deserving of respect, and, for the most part, that's what I saw practiced by the adults closest to me.
On September 5th, I received my last loading dose of Spinraza (Huzzah!). After six tries and four successful injections, it seems that I have learned how to advocate the best circumstances for success. Pain meds help in allowing me to stay on the table longer and the longer I can stay there, the more chances for a successful lumbar puncture. The pain meds also help with recovery. The first few times we tried an LP, successful or not, it took several days for me to stop feeling sore. I also make sure I’m not put on the table until the radiologist and doctor are ready to go. That way they have the most time to get the needle where it’s supposed to go with as little pain as possible. So although the last loading dose took a couple hours before it was successful. It was successful!
Most of the staff were new to me. I started explaining what needed to be done and the staff were paying attention. After a bit my morning worker started taking over just by saying things like, “Wasn’t Guy’s wheelchair parked over there and you brought the lift over here?” Basically, asking questions that clarified my instructions. After a bit it was fascinating to watch. She knew me and she has been through this dance with me several times now. She knew what had worked. So I let her take over the logistics. As usual, the staff followed directions and were concerned with my comfort.
I have been paying attention to any physical changes since the treatments began. I didn’t feel much at first. Except that my breathing is easier. I’m worried that the improvement is just a placebo effect. I want to feel like all this effort amounts to something. Seems like the beneficial effects of the treatment are so subtle. loracs and I will be the only ones to notice.
I’m really looking forward to the next pulmonologist appointment. Then I will have some objective evidence that I’m actually improving. Until then I keep racking up observations. Along with stronger lungs, loracs has noticed the grip strength in my left hand is stronger. I feel some strength in my arms, but it’s not like I can suddenly raise my arm above my head. It seems like I can gesture a little more. I think I have a little bit more motion in my right hand when I use my trackball. Nothing I couldn’t do before, but it seems like I can do it longer and with less fatigue.
After the third dose, I noticed that my neck seems to be stronger. Driving in the car is always a bit of a roller coaster ride for me. I can’t hold my head very well, so it flops around a bit. I try to ride in the car in a reclined position, but that cuts into the sightseeing. I usually alternate between reclining and sitting straight up. Still, my head flops around more than I like. I’m noticing now that I can keep my head up most of the time. I also noticed that I can lift my head off the bed if it is at a little angle. I can’t lift it from completely prone. I don’t think I could lift it at all before the Spinraza.
On the possible negative side, I’ve noticed some tension headaches since the fourth dose. They don’t last long and they could just be hay-fever. The pain is similar, but I notice it when I’m being impatient or a little pissed. I am not at all sure if this is related to the drug. That’s about all I’ve noticed at this point. I think I’ll be getting a follow-up appointment in the future. So they can see where I’m at and decide what to do. I may get some physical therapy. (So I can look buff.)
On the reimbursement front, I received one of those “this is not a bill” statements from Medicare. It seems to say that all the hospital stuff is covered, but it doesn’t specifically say anything about whether the Spinraza has been covered. It even says that Connie’s services are covered but nothing about the drug. Connie seems optimistic they will get reimbursed. I’m disconcerted, but I’ll cope. Thanks everyone. I’ll keep you in the loop.
[Please share your own throwback pix in comments. Just make sure the pix are just of you and/or you have consent to post from other living people in the pic. And please note that they don't have to be pictures from childhood, especially since childhood pix might be difficult for people who come from abusive backgrounds or have transitioned or lots of other reasons. It can be a picture from last week, if that's what works for you. And of course no one should feel obliged to share a picture at all! Only if it's fun!]
Many Puerto Ricans currently have no internet, no electricity, and NO WATER: "Mercader said 70% of the island was without drinking water."— Melissa McEwan (@Shakestweetz) September 21, 2017
...elsewhere return home only to discover their houses have been destroyed and thus need long-term shelter.— Melissa McEwan (@Shakestweetz) September 21, 2017
Every member of Congress should be profoundly concerned w/ the devastation in Puerto Rico. I don't see much evidence of that.— Melissa McEwan (@Shakestweetz) September 21, 2017
I am so upset about how awful the situation in Puerto Rico is for its residents right now, especially because there's nothing meaningful I can do.
I'm also wondering why the FUCK it is that I'm getting the best news on what's happening in Puerto Rico from the Guardian. The U.S. media is treating Puerto Rico like it's some far-off place, just another exotic locale in some other country.
Which isn't justification for ignoring people in need anyway, but: PUERTO RICO IS PART OF THE UNITED STATES. They literally don't have fucking drinkable water, and our media is barely paying attention and our Congress is dicking around with trying to kill people by taking their healthcare away.
And what does the president have to say about it? "The White House on Thursday morning declared Puerto Rico 'a major disaster' zone and ordered federal assistance to be directed to dozens of municipalities in the territory." How will that aid get there? When will it get there? Who knows — because Trump was too busy doing his gross superlative-hurling about the scope of the devastation, saying that Puerto Rico had been "absolutely obliterated" by the intense winds: "All you have to do is read or turn on the television and you will see a place that is practically leveled," he said.
A place where 70% of the population currently lacks access to clean water. That seems more urgent than virtually anything else in the country right now.
How many people have seen a single headline about anything Nancy Pelosi, for example, has said on healthcare this week? And it ain't because she hasn't said anything!
Et cetera. Her entire timeline is filled with RTs on the subject, and that's just what she's doing on Twitter.
This is, in large part, because of whom the media chooses to amplify. And it's worth taking a moment to consider why it is that Kimmel in particular is being amplified.
Sure, yes, it's because he has a compelling story and he is an extremely good teller of that story.
But Kimmel also works for ABC, which is owned by Disney, one of the biggest media conglomerates in the world. All of their media properties want to amplify Kimmel because it's good busine$$ for them.
Meanwhile, all their competitors will either decide to try to steal some share by amplifying Kimmel or amplify his critics, because it's a neat hit on the host of ABC's late night host, to try to ding his ratings with conservative viewers. (Or both. Whatever's good for business!)
Which means that the healthcare debate (such as it is) is primarily being driven by the networks' late night ratings wars, about which literal movies have been made, because the competition is so fierce.
That's not, of course, the only reason that Kimmel is being amplified, nor the only reason that people are listening to him, but media profits are playing a big, if unseen, role.
The same networks whose political news properties host guests paid to publicly ponder: What do the Democrats even stand for?
That's a problem, my friends.
Back in 2008, Gandhian pilgrimage that ended at Calais.
And his present (surely it is the same guy) simple life agenda has crossed my horizon heretofore.
My dearios, I give you I live a healthier life now I’m free of the trappings of modernity.
O, lucky old you, a healthy bloke with sufficient resources to undertake this project and pontificate about it. You are not just lucky to be 'born without any serious long-term health issues' - this is due to various factors including maternal nutrition and antenatal care, vaccination against common childhood diseases (even if he didn't get these, and I bet he did, he would have benefitted from herd immunity), i.e. the benefits of modern medicine and sanitation.
Also, I have no time whatsoever for anyone who dismisses other people's experiences of pain: there is a man who, we must suppose, never sat an exam while doubled over with period pain, or suffered a migraine. Not at all rare conditions. Your body is not 'always aiming for balance and health'.
And we observe that he has had a vasectomy... because one of my questions (among the many stimulated by the thought of all the technological advances that have made women's lives so much less arduous, which I remarked on when his bogosity first impinged upon my aghast gaze), wot abaht contraception?
Perhaps we might introduce him to the notion that being regularly flogged with a large codfish is a cure for pretentious woowoo?
(And do we think that his simple austere life is 'more work for other people', like the process that gets his handwritten ms - written on tree bark in berry juice, we wonder? - from his simple cabin in the woods to the Guardian website?)
One of the difficulties in resisting the Trump administration, the Republican Congressional majority, and Republican state legislatures is keeping on top of the sheer number of horrors, indignities, and normalization of the aggressively abnormal that they unleash every single day.
So here is a daily thread for all of us to share all the things that are going on, thus crowdsourcing a daily compendium of the onslaught of conservative erosion of our rights and our very democracy.
Stay engaged. Stay vigilant. Resist.
* * *
Here are some things in the news today:
Earlier today by me: Lying Liars and Their Garbage Healthcare Bill and Trump's Administration of Toxic Masculinity.
There's a lot of notable foreign policy news today...
Anna Fifield at the Washington Post: North Korea Is Likely to Fire More Missiles After Trump's Speech, Experts Say.
Kim Jong Un's regime tells the North Korean people every day that the United States wants to destroy them and their country. Now, they will hear it from another source: the president of the United States himself.Super.
In his maiden address to the United Nations on Tuesday, [Donald] Trump threatened to "totally destroy North Korea."
Analysts noted that he did not even differentiate between the Kim regime, as President George W. Bush did with his infamous "axis of evil" speech, and the 25 million people of North Korea.
"[Donald] Trump has handed the North Koreans the sound bite of the century," said Marcus Noland, an executive vice president at the Peterson Institute for International Economics and one of the authors of its North Korea: Witness to Transformation blog. "That footage will be used time and time and time again on North Korea's state television channel."
Hallie Jackson, Carol E. Lee, Vivian Salama, and Kristen Welker at NBC News: Trump Leaning Toward Decertifying Iran Nuclear Deal, Sources Say. "Donald Trump is leaning toward decertifying the Iran nuclear deal and putting the decision of whether the United States withdraw from the accord in the hands of Congress... Such a move would come before an Oct. 15 deadline and would trigger a 60-day window for lawmakers to determine whether to reimpose sanctions related to Iran's nuclear program that were lifted as part of the 2015 agreement. ...Still, several of the sources cautioned that the president could change his mind over the next three weeks as he faces pushback from allies internationally." Of course. Because he has no fixed principles and is a reckless mess constantly in search of approbation to satiate his voracious ego.
David Filipov and Liz Sly at the Washington Post: Russia Threatens Retaliatory Strikes Against U.S. Troops and Their Allies in Syria. "Russia on Thursday raised the threat of a direct confrontation with U.S. forces in Syria, saying that the Russian military would target areas occupied by American units and U.S.-backed militias if Moscow's troops come under fire. The warning came amid rising tensions in the Syrian desert between the United States and its Kurdish and Arab allies on the one hand, and Russia, the Syrian regime and Iranian-backed militias on the other, as both converge on Islamic State-held territory in eastern Syria." No big deal. Just Russia threatening to start a war with the U.S. in Syria.
Steve Dorsey at CBS News: As Number of Injured Diplomats Soared, State Dept. Kept Cuba Attacks Secret. "An internal Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs document obtained by CBS News shows the State Department was fully aware of the extent of the attacks on its diplomats in Havana, Cuba, long before it was forced to acknowledge them. State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert only admitted the attacks were occurring after CBS News Radio first reported them August 9. ...At the time, Nauert said she didn't believe the number of Americans injured was in the tens or dozens. But a source says that by the time the State Department first publicly acknowledged the attacks, it knew the reports of Americans injured had reached double-digits. 'They for sure tried to keep the numbers secret,' the source said." JFC.
In addition to making an arse of himself by inventing an African country yesterday, Trump engaged in some unabashed colonialism while speaking to African leaders:
Africa has tremendous business potential. I have so many friends going to your countries trying to get rich. [Grins and pauses like he expects laughter, which does not come.] I congratulate you. They're spending a lot of money. But it does — it has a tremendous business potential and representing huge amounts of, uh, different markets, and for American firms it's really become a place that they have to go, that they want to go.Holy shit this guy. Capitalist colonialism being described to world leaders in the tone of a bored sixth grader giving a report comprised of facts he plucked off a Wikipedia page. Unreal.
Six of the world's ten fastest growing economies are in Africa. Increasing American trade and investment across diverse industries — including agriculture, energy, transportation, healthcare, travel, and tourism — will further transform lives throughout the continent.
* * *
On Tuesday, in comments of my piece on the latest with Mueller's Russia investigation, which included the report about former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort having been wiretapped, Shaker Brad C. noted: "I'm concerned to what degree Trump and his cronies will use this reporting as an excuse to justify his long-debunked 'Obama wiretapped me!' claim. Facts notwithstanding, of course, but he's never let that bother him before..." To which I replied: "They'll use it. Despite the fact that this does not, in fact, vindicate his ridiculous claims at all."
And as all of us knew as surely as we know our own names, Mike Pence was trotted out on Fox News to make precisely this horseshit argument. My favorite part is how he doesn't use Manafort's name, but instead refers to him as "someone who had a condominium in the Trump Tower." Someone who also hand-selected Pence to be veep, for fuck's sake!
In other Mueller and Manafort news...
Mueller wants White House docs, including pertaining to Trump's firing of Comey and Flynn. https://t.co/4zEuwIle2u— Melissa McEwan (@Shakestweetz) September 20, 2017
Tom Hamburger, Rosalind S. Helderman, Carol D. Leonnig, and Adam Entous at the Washington Post: Manafort Offered to Give Russian Billionaire 'Private Briefings' on 2016 Campaign. "Less than two weeks before Donald Trump accepted the Republican presidential nomination, his campaign chairman offered to provide briefings on the race to a Russian billionaire closely aligned with the Kremlin, according to people familiar with the discussions. Paul Manafort made the offer in an email to an overseas intermediary, asking that a message be sent to Oleg Deripaska, an aluminum magnate with whom Manafort had done business in the past, these people said. 'If he needs private briefings we can accommodate,' Manafort wrote in the July 7, 2016, email." Just normal stuff.
Josh Dawsey at Politico: Manafort Used Trump Campaign Account to Email Ukrainian Operative. "Former Donald Trump aide Paul Manafort used his presidential campaign email account to correspond with a Ukrainian political operative with suspected Russian ties, according to people familiar with the correspondence. Manafort sent emails to seek repayment for previous work he did in Ukraine and to discuss potential new opportunities in the country, even as he chaired Trump's presidential campaign, these people said." Cool.
So, you might have noticed there's a lot of news focused on Manafort lately, all of these scoops care of anonymous sources. That's not an accident. Someone (WHO COULD IT BE?) wants to make Manafort the fall guy for Russian collusion. No doubt he was at the center and in the thick of it, but he was, ultimately, only the go-between for two much more powerful players. The buck shouldn't stop with him. It's pretty clear who benefits from making sure it does stop with him, though.
That such a brazen effort is being made to frame him in the press is a hint that, behind the scenes, the key players may be trying to shape what evidence (documents and testimony) are provided to Mueller to direct his investigation toward Manafort and steer scrutiny away from Trump, Pence, and Kushner.
I don't think for a second that Mueller is naive enough to fall for it, or corrupt enough to go along with it, but I do think there's a real possibility that he'll be effectively stymied by these corrupt liars who have zero respect for the rule of law.
Which is a big part of the reason I keep saying: Continue to maintain measured expectations.
* * *
Mike Allen at Axios: Another Potential Mueller Honey Pot: Spicer's Notebooks. "Former colleagues of Sean Spicer tell Axios that he filled 'notebook after notebook' during meetings at the Republican National Committee, later at the Trump campaign, and then at the White House. When Spicer worked at the RNC, he was said to have filled black books emblazoned with the party's seal. Spicer was so well-known for his copious notes that underlings joked about him writing a tell-all. ...When we texted Spicer for comment on his note-taking practices, he replied: 'Mike, please stop texting/emailing me unsolicited anymore.'" LOL.
Jenny Hopkinson at Politico: Trump Hires Campaign Workers Instead of Farm Experts at USDA. "Donald Trump's appointees to jobs at Agriculture Department headquarters include a long-haul truck driver, a country club cabana attendant, and the owner of a scented-candle company. A POLITICO review of dozens of résumés from political appointees to USDA shows the agency has been stocked with Trump campaign staff and volunteers who in many cases demonstrated little to no experience with federal policy, let alone deep roots in agriculture." Terrific.
[Content Note: Police brutality; disablism; racism] Matthew Haag at the New York Times: Despite Pleas, Oklahoma City Officer Fatally Shoots Deaf Man. "An Oklahoma City police officer fatally shot a man on Tuesday night despite pleas from neighbors that the man was deaf and could not hear the commands to drop a metal pipe he was holding, the authorities said. The man, Madgiel Sanchez, was shot around 8:15 p.m. outside his home soon after the police responded there to investigate a hit-and-run accident. The first officer to arrive called for backup, pulled out his Taser and ordered Mr. Sanchez, 35, who was on his front porch, to drop the two-foot-long pipe he was clutching, the police said. The officer's commands did not register with Mr. Sanchez. He ambled off the porch toward the officer, waving the pipe in his right hand, according to the police and a witness. ...[Mr. Sanchez] never left home without the pipe, wielding it shoo away stray dogs." Goddammit. My condolences to his family, friends, and neighbors.
[CN: Anti-Semitism; white supremacy] Rob Schultz at the Wisconsin State Journal: 'Trump Rules, Antifa Sucks': Graffiti and Swastikas Scrubbed from Monument Near Historic Madison Synagogue. "Vandals sprayed swastikas and other graffiti on a monument next to the Gates of Heaven Synagogue building in James Madison Park — in time for it to be discovered hours before the start of a Jewish holiday. The monument honors Americans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade that joined the international armies that fought the fascist forces of Francisco Franco during the Spanish Civil War. 'Antifa sucks' and 'Trump rules' also were sprayed onto the monument in red paint. ...[Dawn Berney, executive director of Jewish Social Services of Madison] said the graffiti was particularly disturbing because Wednesday is the start of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year. 'The person who did this knew that,' she said." Disgusting.
[CN: Toxic water; reproductive complications; video may autoplay at link] Keith Matheny at USA Today: Study: Fewer Pregnancies, More Fetal Deaths in Flint After Lead Levels Rose in Water. "Flint saw fewer pregnancies, and a higher number of fetal deaths, during the period Michigan women and their unborn children were exposed to high levels of lead in their drinking water, according to a new research study that reviewed health records from Flint and the state. Fertility rates decreased by 12% among Flint women, and fetal death rates increased by 58%, after April 2014, according to research by assistant professors and health economists David Slusky at Kansas University and Daniel Grossman at West Virginia University. ...On fertility rates, 'Flint's numbers fell off a cliff, and the rest of the cities stayed pretty much constant' after April 2014, Slusky said." Awful.
[CN: White supremacy] Maggie Astor at the New York Times: South Carolina 5th Graders Are Asked to Explain K.K.K.'s Thinking. "'You are a member of the K.K.K.,' the fifth-grade homework assignment read. 'Why do you think your treatment of African-Americans is justified?' The worksheet, given on Thursday as part of a lesson on the Reconstruction period, caused an outcry after one student's uncle, Tremain Cooper, posted a photo of the assignment on Facebook. 'This is my little 10-year-old nephew's homework assignment today,' he wrote. 'He's home crying right now.'"
That assignment would have put me in tears instantly when I was a kid, too. Asking me to explain why I was right to hurt other people, to empathize with abuse, would have been so upsetting to me, even as a white child. I can only imagine the pain it would cause a Black child. Fuck this.
What have you been reading that we need to resist today?
That would have been a historic — and radical — reimagining of the President's Cabinet.
Instead, in an election that was a referendum on how the nation values women, a large enough portion of the electorate voted for confessed sex abuser and rank misogynist Donald Trump that he won the presidency. And naturally, his administration is not a model of gender parity, to put it mildly.
Molly Redden at the Guardian: Trump Is Assembling the Most Male-Dominated Government in Decades.
A new analysis shared exclusively with the Guardian has found that 80% of nominations for top jobs in the Trump administration have gone to men — putting Donald Trump on track to assemble the most male-dominated federal government in nearly a quarter-century.With few exceptions, the men who have joined Trump's administration are wealthy, white, straight, cisgender, able-bodied, and Christian — men who abet and/or share Trump's patriarchal, white supremacist, nativist views.
Without a significant shift, men will outnumber women four-to-one in top positions of the Trump administration.
...Men also outnumbered women three-to-one in a separate group of about 400 people the administration hired as it transitioned into power, according to a Bloomberg analysis using data collected by ProPublica. These were appointees who did not require Senate confirmation.
Trump infamously surrounds himself with stooges and sycophants who won't challenge him. The men in his orbit reflect back to him his worst impulses and vile beliefs. Some of them are merely unprincipled yes-men; others, like Vice President Mike Pence, are true believers.
In either case, they serve (in every sense of the word) to uphold and empower the toxic stew of racism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, disablism, nativism, nationalism, and Christian supremacy that are central to Trump's eugenical worldview.
It isn't just that his administration is full of men. It's that his administration is, by virtue of who those men are, full of toxic masculinity.
That has devastating consequences for marginalized people — most of whom voted for Trump's chief opponent, who promised she'd do precisely the opposite. And would have.
1. Calvin Woodward at the AP: Sen. Graham Presses for Support for GOP Health Bill.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham on Wednesday appealed for support from fellow senators for his GOP health care bill despite "all its imperfections."Just get it done. Just get a win, at all costs. Vote for it despite the fact that it's shit. Says reputed fierce Trump critic Lindsey Graham, who actually talks with Trump "like three times a day."
"We're going to vote," Graham told broadcaster Sean Hannity. "Everybody will be held accountable."
Graham made his comments in an overheard cellphone call in front of a passenger at Reagan National Airport before he boarded a flight.
...Graham said Republicans have for years been tripped up by their inability to offer a credible alternative to "Obamacare" even as they demanded its repeal. He said he thinks that alternative now exists with his bill and can prevail against tough odds with the help of [Donald] Trump.
..."I talk with [Donald] Trump like three times a day," he said.
2. Jason Noble at the Des Moines Register: [Content Note: Video may autoplay at link] Chuck Grassley: Fulfilling Campaign Promise Just as Important as 'Substance' of Health Bill.
Despite many evident shortcomings in a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act health care law, Republicans have a responsibility to pass it, U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley said Wednesday.This is a person who cannot be trusted to represent the people. He is a craven wreck, and his party is trash.
In a conference call with Iowa reporters, Grassley expressed support for the Graham-Cassidy health care reform proposal currently before the Senate, arguing that the GOP has pledged to repeal the law known as Obamacare and must seize any opportunity to do so.
"You know, I could maybe give you 10 reasons why this bill shouldn't be considered," Grassley said. "But Republicans campaigned on this so often that you have a responsibility to carry out what you said in the campaign. That's pretty much as much of a reason as the substance of the bill."
MAKE YOUR CALLS.
I had the distinct honor of being a guest on the latest episode of my friend Andrea Grimes' Traitor Radio podcast. If you can't listen to it, no worries! Andrea provides a complete transcript for every episode, which you will find at the link. (Just scroll down.)
The format of Traitor Radio is really cool: Following an introduction by Andrea, guests tell a story, then do a brief Q&A with Andrea before giving "homework" — that is, practical advice for making change in their own lives and the rest of the world.
For my episode, I told a story about being a fat woman seeking the breeze, which may be familiar to some of you.
I hope you enjoy it! My thanks to Andrea for inviting me to be a guest on Traitor Radio. ♥
Lotfi Zadeh: Fuzzy Wuzzy wuz a logic.
Len Wein: beloved comics guy
Jake LaMotta: lasted remarkably long, for a boxer
Lillian Ross: wrote a fascinating peek into that great big wonderful dysfunctional family known as
The New Yorker. (She did a deliberate Good Grief, It’s Daddy)
Stanislav Petrov: saved the world
He played only one more season, then did a book of his poems & paintings and went to Hollywood, where he had a number of successful films including playing the Black frat leader in Revenge of the Nerds. He was also in my favorite granfalloon, Star Trek, playing the Maquis leader Cal Hudson in Deep Space Nine.
ETA: In 1968 Joe Namath shocked the football world* by growing a mustache. Casey & Jim Marshall had been wearing them all along, but they didn’t count, perhaps due to lack of contrast.
*Shocking the football world has never required extreme measures. See Kaepernick, Colin.