Two Days In

John Scalzi

We’re now 48 hours into the Biden Presidency, so obviously it’s time for a checkup on how things are going. Once again to assist me in the task, I am bringing out my Fictional Interlocutor. Say hello to the people, F.I.

Hello! Beautiful morning in America, is it not?

It is indeed sunny and the sky is full of picturesque fluffy white clouds at the moment.

And it’s all because Biden is president!

Well, to be strictly fair, he has no control over the weather.


Stop that.

Sorry. So, how do you feel about being two days into the Biden Presidency?

In an entirely unsurprising turn of events, I feel pretty darn good about it! I’ve spent the last two days basking in the fabulous competency of its governance — which is to say that whether one agrees with the Biden administration’s policy goals or not, the sheer non-chaotic way it is going about them at the moment is utterly delightful. And while in fact deep down I hold an abiding and ceaseless rage that the last four years have been so awful that mere competence feels like a gift, yea verily as if manna from friggin’ heaven, on the surface at least I’m pretty placidly pleased. Hey, you know what I did two days in a row?

I do not.

I watched a White House press conference! Just to see how boring they would be. And the answer is: Pretty damn boring! White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki gets in there, is smiling and pleasant to the reporters, answers most questions directly, and the ones she wants to evade she does so pleasantly, not by suggesting the reporter who asked the question is a traitor to the nation and all that is holy. Did you know a White House Press Secretary could do that?

I had heard rumors, yes.

It’s wonderful! And boring! Wonderfully boring!

Well, you may think the Biden presidency is competent and boring, but it appears conservatives and/or Republicans are already upset with it.

Shocked! Shocked! I am! Give me an example, please.

To start off, all those executive orders Biden banged out. Seventeen the first day. Ten the second. More on the way.

Well, Trump did a lot of stupid shit, didn’t he, and he did a lot of it via executive order. Biden didn’t want to waste any time hosing out that nonsense. Most of the executive orders not relating to COVID are, as far as I can see, less about advancing a radical agenda than they were getting us back to where we were before an ignorant virulent bigot got into office. I can’t say I’m generally upset about it.

Well, not you. But conservatives and Republicans. They do seem especially upset about the executive order “On Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government.

That’s because transphobia is the new hotness in conservative bigotry. They lost on race, they lost on sex, they lost on sexual orientation, and now they think that gender is the place where they’re finally going to win and in doing so, start shoving everyone else back into their respective closets, kitchens and colored facilities.

You’re not sympathetic, then.

No. Fuck ’em. Fuck transphobia, first of all. Fuck it for itself, because in itself it is wholly bad enough. Then also, fuck it for being the lever that these bigots are trying to use to roll back the rights of anyone who is not, in fact, a cishet white dude. Fuck all the performative handwringing about bathrooms and locker rooms and women’s sports and hormones and especially fuck all the concerns about “the children,” not in the least because, as the parent of a Gen Z person, I can tell you “the children” are generally embarrassed at the actions of their obviously transphobic elders. Good on ya, Gen Z!

Wow, I didn’t notice that soapbox you had there until you stood on it.

Well, I’m short.

Fair enough. So basically your position on executive orders is, cool, keep going?

To the extent they’re wiping out Trump’s executive order bullshit and/or managing the COVID response — which, by the way, we just discovered there was really no Trump Administration plan to manage a federal-level response to the COVID crisis, so that’s fun — I’m fine with them. Biden, to his credit, has noted that executive orders can do only so much, so there will have to be legislative action as well. So I don’t think he’s planning to rule by fiat. And he does have the (bare) majorities of both houses.

But what about the Senate and the filibuster?

I’m not a huge fan of the filibuster and given the fact that the current GOP is a billionaire-supported white supremacist organization with no motivating principles other than the aforementioned racist bullshit and the idea that “whatever the Democrats want, they shouldn’t get,” I wouldn’t cry any tears over it going away so that the Senate can get work done that Americans actually want.

But 75 million Americans voted for the Republicans! Who will speak for them?

Nnnnnnnnnngh this bullshit line. Okay, first: Closer to 74 million, and of course 81 million people voted for Biden in this election. Second: Let’s not pretend that when the GOP is in the majority that it ever gives a shit about what the millions and millions of Americans who voted for the Democrats thought about any fucking thing, or that it didn’t move with alacrity to trim back the filibuster whenever it wasn’t convenient to its own goals, so the special pleading here doesn’t move me. Third: 74 million Americans voted for Trump and also polling tells us there are clear majorities in the American population for things Biden wants to do, with respect to health care and climate and human rights and so on, which is to say the GOP is to the right of the people who vote for them (or at the very least, they people they represent), which makes sense, because, again, at the moment the GOP is a billionaire-funded white supremacist organization. Fourth: The filibuster is a guideline, not a rule, which is to say it’s not constitutionally mandated, it’s a thing the Senate decided to do for its own reasons, which, if you look into them, are mostly not good reasons.

Finally: A Republican president, aided by a substantial chunk of the GOP in the Senate and the House, just tried to overturn a legal election because they didn’t like the result, and a large portion of the party still can’t admit that Joe Biden won the election fair and square. You know what? 74 million voters deserve better than the current GOP for their representation.

So, yeah, really not feeling the “but 74 million voters” whine right now. The national GOP needs to spend time in the fuckin’ wilderness, as far as I’m concerned, and the removal of the filibuster would be the absolute bare minimum of the penalties they ought to accrue. Those “74 million voters” would probably be just fine with the majority of what Biden would do for them, if the filibuster were not an impediment.

That said, I don’t actually expect the Democrats to get rid of the filibuster entirely, because when have the Democrats ever done anything the GOP would happily do in an instant if their roles were reversed. So we’ll see what happens next, I suppose. And I guess there’s always budget reconciliation if it comes to that.

You don’t sound all that optimistic.

I mean, I’m not unoptimistic? Look, just the fact that our executive branch is no longer headed by, or majority staffed from the ranks of, incompetent racist grifter chucklefucks, is a huuuuuuuuge load off my mind. I’ve had two whole days of not worrying about what awful, undemocratic-and-likely-fascist thing the president and his pack of malignant fuck-knuckles are up to today, and it’s delightful. Now, for example, if Stephen Miller wants to separate babies from their parents, he’ll have to attempt to do it himself, and the mental image of the absolute asskicking that would ensue from that keeps me warm at night.

In a larger sense, look: it’s hard to create during chaos, and four years of constant chaos took its toll on me and my ability to just sit down and shut out the rest of the world. And I am, as I remind people frequently, a well-off cishet white dude; how anyone further down the privilege pyramid got anything done in the same span of time is beyond me. I did get work done, and other people did too, but it wasn’t as congenial a process, shall we say, as it could have been. Now I have a few years — hopefully! — of not just “no chaos” but of actual, boring, unremarkable governance. I’m looking forward to not feeling like I need to witness the world breaking on a daily basis. I’m excited about the work I can do in that state.

Again, I fucking hate that “boring governance” feels like a balm and a gift, instead of just the way things are. But it is what it is. What I hope from a Biden administration is that, regardless of people’s politics, everyone will look around at the not-chaos that his administration offers and goes “I want more of that.” Maybe not of Biden, if you’re not a Democrat, but his similarly not-dramatic counterpart on the other side of the aisle (hint: Not Cruz. Not Hawley. Both of those motherfuckers need to be drummed out of the Senate).

Speaking of work, are you going to get back to it now?

Yes! I mentioned earlier I needed to get to the inauguration and then a little bit past it to see how I felt about things. And like I said, I feel not bad at all. And, uhhhhhhh, I still have a book due, which is now late. So the plan is to, if not disappear, at least make myself more scarce until the book is done.

I’ll miss you.

Thanks. That means a lot, coming from a fictional interlocutor.

— JS

61 Comments on “Two Days In”

  1. Minor upgrade:

    “Now I have a few years — hopefully! — of not just “no chaos” but of actual, boring, unremarkable, EFFECTIVE governance.”

  2. Agreed. What I’ve been telling people is that I’m looking forward to living through a day that I know children won’t be reading about in history class 200 years from now. We’re not there yet, but I have high hopes at this point.

  3. When will the fictional interlocutor get his/her/their own byline? All that work and no credit?

    My brain sees “cishet” and pronounces it without the “t” so it rhymes with sashay and now I’m giggling. Whenever I have a manly man beating his chest on internet I will remember this.

  4. Three points:

    1) Not that short, really. Nice soapbox though.
    2) Not wrong
    3) Watching the GOP trying to neuralyze America into forgetting their abject, craven support for every malignant policy (and disorganized coup/election stealling/cynical attempt to overturn a fair election) from the disgraced former president would be amusing if it wasn’t going to work.

  5. Next time you chat with F.I., make sure you remind him/her/them that not only is the “But 75 million Americans voted for the Republicans! Who will speak for them?” argument a mug’s game, but that the two times this century the GOP was selected for the presidency after losing the popular vote, they acted like they had a Reagan/Carter landslide. So yeah, drop that argument in the lowest of the nine hells.

  6. Could you please give over using that creepy dirt-added photo filter? It’s most unpleasant. [Redacted] being an unpleasant individual, there was a certain justification/symmetry, but no one in the current Administration deserves to look that way, yet…

  7. Yes, but now we can start in on the real scandals: that Peloton bike, Joe Biden’s emails (gotta be something in there), his tan suit, and of course the deficit and the need to gut Social Security

  8. 1) I can’t see the filibuster coming back for a long time – not just because the Democrats want to do things, but because it’s clear from the last four years that the words of GOP members (even in the Senate) and their actions do not positively correlate. The word of the GOP is worthless, and so making agreements with them for a civil Senate doesn’t make sense – you are essentially making agreements to limit your behavior with no reasonable expectation that they will limit their behavior accordingly – it’s clear that they will ignore anything when it’s in their interest to do so.

    2) I imagine fictional interlocutor gets lonely, and doesn’t like being in the box, and being outside is maybe what he misses, though I don’t have an inside source on his feelings.

  9. I resonate with the notion that one shouldn’t have to expend energy worrying about the machineries of “governance”–which, despite the control-of-every-aspect-of-life anxiety that one gets from some political folk, is actually stuff like having clean water come out when you turn on the tap, or having one’s mail delivered promptly, or not worrying about the safety of the food in the grocery store. That kind of “governance” is like not worrying about whether a stuffy nose and cough is COVID. It’s actually normal good health, and one wishes to see it extended to all one’s neighbors.

    (And I will stipulate to the fact that many of one’s neighbors still do not enjoy that degree of civic or physical good health. But now there is one less gang of bullies and vandals roaming their metaphorical streets.)

  10. While I appreciate a new administration cleaning house, I fear our exploding debt which is now higher than GDP is our undoing. Forty years of deficit spending is going to have a devastating effect on us over the next decade. The past year is just a taste unfortunately. And no MMT is not going to work.

    Also you made a reference to no covid plan which I understand is untrue and falsely reported. Inept yes, nonexistent no.

  11. Your fictional interlocutor is not the only entity that will miss you while you’re scarce! But being able to focus and actually get work done is a wonderful thing; I’m in the same situation. It’s astounding how much more productive I can be when not living in existential fear of my own federal government.

  12. Competent: the Democrats are already signalling that they are going to throw the easy lay-up over the backboard by a) reducing the check size they promised, b) putting it off til March and c) not doing it by reconciliation, opening up the possibility that they want to blame Republicans for not getting it done rather than actually getting it done.

    You can say this is a minor issue in the grand scheme of things, except for the fact that they ran on these checks for the entire GA run-off and if they don’t deliver, they lose a whole lot of good will from the people who just backed them. Plus, 2,600 dollars ONCE is actually pretty damn inadequate in the face of the all the stuff people need these days. However, the Dems are already acting like 2,600 is too grandiose and there also giving no signal there would be systematic support to make these one time scraps moot.

    So, make themselves look like liars, like they don’t have their priorities straight and that they don’t actually connect to the real pain so many Americans are feeling these days. Situation normal for “our” party.

  13. Hey I’m a French Canadian and I watched both press briefings with delight and wednesday was the first time in my life I watched a White House press briefing. So refreshing. I love Patski. I love the smile on Fauci’s face. Love all around!

  14. Put me in with “Fictional interlocutor needs a name.” And also with “Yeah, I’m thrilled to be bored.”

    I’m not a huge Biden fan, but his cabinet picks have certainly improved my opinion of him, and increased hopes for the administration. I’m not expecting any kind of progressive agenda to come sweeping down the lane, but a return to old fashioned center-right American politics is good enough for now.

  15. Perhaps some of the hope can be ascribed to a scientific development: in today’s news, a noted and very successful game designer, who’s been quarantined in New Zealand long enough that he’s now applied for residency and may relocate his company there, says that the Kiwis have discovered a new element, notstupidum. Could its ore be found here in the USA?

    Also, as someone who’s owned several of them over the years, I wouldn’t be too worried about government by Fiat. It’s hard enough just to keep one of the (expletive, deleted) things running, much less governing.

  16. When anyone says “I fear our exploding debt which is now higher than GDP is our undoing”, if they can point to similar statements when big Trump tax cuts and spending increases were causing the debt, then I’ll listen. At least a little.

    Of course, even then there’s the very good argument that exploding debt is a good thing in times of economic crisis (2008-9, 2020-21), and it’s the responsibility of people governing in better economic times (2017-19, for instance) to pay off some of that debt.

  17. (Minority of white qmericans voting for Trump in 2016, and due to a slave-based electoral college system, trump wins anyway): FUCK THE LIBS. FUCK YOUR FEELINGS.

    (Vocal, violent minority of white terrorists try to overturn the will of 80 million Biden voters in 2021): it the REVOLUTION!

    (terrorists fail): we must listen to the Trump voters! Who will give them a voice?!?!

    Fuck any fucker who fucking wants to fuck around with the fucking “we must listen to the trump voters” fuckery. I fucking know for a fucking fact that in fucking 2016, you mother fuckers werent fucking saying “we must listen to the Dems who voted for Hillary” you fucking cowards werent fucking sayijg fucking shit to republicans or you were fucking joining with them in the fuck your feelings chorus.. So any of you fucking fuckers try to pull this fucking bullshit, should be fucking ashamed of your fucking transparent fucking hypocricy.

    Have you no fucking sense of decency, sir?


  18. @Joshua Zucker

    But 2017-19 was different, the GOP was in charge and they shoved nearly all the benefits to the top 1%. And Trump had a plan to eliminate the national debt in 8 years, he just had to increase it by 50% in four years to make his achievement more impressive…

    You can’t go around helping poor people, you know, it’s anti-murrican.

  19. If it were not likely to leave him looking washed out under bright lights, I would lobby for President Biden (OMG, it feels great to type that) to wear tan suits every day of his presidency.

    As for mounting debt, it is arguable that this is a bad thing, but conservatives/Republicans don’t get to explode the debt whenever they’re in power, and then complain about it whenever a Democrat is in charge. A Republican inherited the only budget surplus we’ve had in the past 40 years (at least) and gave it away to the rich right before plunging us into unnecessary, debt-financed wars.

    I really wish that, when Republicans start whinging that Dems, would just quote Hamilton (and 1776): “Sit down, ____, you fat M***********!”

  20. Dear Russ,

    Starting in the Dubya Era, I’d tweak my conservative friends (yes, I’ve got’em) with, “You know the only thing that’s worse than a ‘tax-and-spend Democrat?’ A ‘don’t-tax-and-spend Republican!'” Because that’s the game the Republicans have been playing for 20 years whenever they’ve had control of government.

    You want fiscal responsibility? First, rescind all the “let’s give more to the rich” tax cuts. Then we’ll talk.

    (And if there any apologists out there who want to try and defend the Republicans on this with disingenuous whinings about how they wanted to cut spending but they couldn’t. … nope, that’s not fiscal responsibility. You want to be responsible? First you lock in the reductions in Expenses. Then, and only then, do you cut Income.

    pax, Ctein

    [ Please excuse any word-salad. Dragon Dictate in training! ]

  21. It’s kinda like when your air conditioning in your house stops working, and you can’t get it fixed for a couple days; that first full day of PURE UNMITIGATED COOL AIR feels like a friggin’ Heaven on Earth. Look! I can go from room to room and not sweat my face off!

    But I am fully aware, that, us being humans and all, we will go back to complaining about the slight temperature differences in one room or another within a week or so.

  22. Dear John (and F.I. – don’t want you to feel left out),

    Regarding how many people voted for the loser, blah blah blah, the norm has been a roughly 50-50 split in the popular vote. The last time there was a difference that was significantly bigger than this election was Reagan! For Pete sakes, 40 years ago, not exactly recent history!

    We have a winner-takes-all system. Power-sharing is not an obligation. It certainly hasn’t been a hallmark of the GOP, or after the razor-thin margin in 2000 we would’ve had a real bipartisan government. Yeah, that happened.

    I’m not optimistic, but I’m happy. I no longer have to wake up every morning wondering what kind of shitshow is going to be dropped onto me this day by the government. Being hit over the head with a hammer, it feels so good when it stops.

    On the other hand…

    Except for (important!) sociopolitical reasons, I didn’t care which Democrat got the nomination, so long as they could beat Trump. For the simple, sad reason that no matter how progressive the new President, the Blue Dogs in Congress would see to it that a progressive agenda would never pass.

    Why do I say that? Because that’s exactly what they’ve done in the past two opportunities. Why should it be any different a third time, when the official party line seems to be that it was those evil Republicans that kept Clinton and Obama from getting progressive platforms through Congress. No, not for the first two years of both administrations, when the Democrats owned the government. It was the Blue Dog DINO’s. Both administrations came in with a to-do list that included major green initiatives, gay-rights, and national healthcare. Both administrations got their heads handed to them by their own party. So much so in the case of Clinton, that Hillary turned from a healthcare hawk into a wishy-washy moderate.

    Why should I expect it to be any different this go-round, especially when there’s no margin for horsetrading on votes, like the Democrats had in the past? Legislatively, it’s not going to matter which Democrat is in the White House. The goddamn Blue Dogs will hamstring them.

    My only hope is that history doesn’t repeat itself completely. Because if it does, Biden is going to lose control of Congress in 2022. And it will be for the same reasons — a disillusioned, de-energized Democratic votership.

    The Democrats could fix this. I sincerely hope they do, but I don’t have any faith that they will.


    [ Please excuse any word-salad. Dragon Dictate in training! ]

  23. I’m not unsympathetic to the “equity means quotas” argument, but I’m willing to give the benefit of the doubt to people who say that it just means “stop looking for your keys under the streetlamp.” We’ll see.

    As for transphobia, the Republican efforts will fizzle because there are too few trans people to be scary. If I were the one strategizing, I would say that now isn’t the time to be pushing for children to have access to puberty blockers without the consent of their parents, but I’m kind of TERFy, so don’t go by me.

  24. to TometOreilly
    January 22, 2021, 2:50 pm

    I couldn’t agree more.
    To quote Connor MacManus (Sean Patrick Flanery) in the great movie Boondock Saints.

    “Well, that certainly illustrates the versatility of the word.”

  25. Came by to say thank you for the unapologetic stance, and for the comment moderation.

    (The rest of this is somewhat off-topic but answers a previous comment, feel free to delete if necessary.)

    While I’m here, I’ll add that forcing trans kids to go through the wrong puberty is just as harmful as making cis kids go through the wrong puberty, and desistance rates among kids diagnosed with gender dysphoria is less than 2%. So denying kids puberty blockers harms 49 kids for every 1 “helped” — and even the help is minimal, since puberty blockers are generally harmless.

  26. “ Not Cruz. Not Hawley. Both of those motherfuckers need to be drummed out of the Senate.”
    I just felt like it needed to be said again.

    Oh, and we WILL miss you.
    Good luck with the book.

  27. I always suspected multiple personality disorder made one a better writer.

    Re: reconciliation — if it doesn’t specifically involve spending and deficit reduction, you can’t use reconciliation.

    Re: filibuster — Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema are in favor of it so elimination is going nowhere. But I recently read on Vox several options for changing the rule that those two might go for. One is to flip the requirement. Instead of requiring 60 votes to cut off debate, require 41 to continue it. That requires a substantial number of obstructionists to stay on the Senate floor at all times while not allowing them a soapbox to spout their bullshit. The other, more dramatic, possible reform was to change the 60 vote threshold to any group of Senators representing a majority of the American population.

    Meanwhile, this:

  28. How about FIDO as a name for F. I. Fictional Interlocutor Does Obtain.


    Good writing, monsieur!

  29. I think they should keep the filibuster, but make it population based, say if the filibustering senators represent 40% of the population than it is allowed, but other than that it should be history.

  30. Went for the first walk since our country has a president again. It was kinda amazing to go out the building door and think, “All I need to worry about now is covid.” On my way back I saw a covid-19 walk – in testing center has opened right here, only about a block away! How long have we had a President again? But then, de Blasio did ‘promise’ he was having the city open many more testing centers, to make it more likely for people to get to them.

    Also just learned that the Stim Bill, at least still back in December, includes 2 billion for covid-19 funeral expenses, to be accessed / distributed via FEMA. Lots of room for corruption-for-profit there, since that’s what They turned FEMA into. Hopefully, this will be fixed.

    Still due to Them having no plan for manufacture or distribution or anything at all except how can each of us personally get grift-$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ from this Our President honestly tells us most of us probably can’t get vaccinated until April. Our city’s run out of vaccine and isn’t the only one.

    But still, quite a few people I know have gotten their first dose. I have hope, and my nightmare quotient has significantly decreased.

  31. LaraAmber — “When will the fictional interlocutor get his/her/their own byline? All that work and no credit?”

    Ya, John ought to take notice that Biden’s administration is a pro-union administration! Heck, Our President even said he was pro-union, out loud and in public. Heck, he just out-and-out fired the union buster that was put in charge of our National Labor Board, wouldn’t even let him serve out his last 10 months, and you know the rethugs are weeping weeping weeping at being fired because “without cause.” Ha!

  32. Dear Hyman,

    Seeing as puberty blockers offer very little harm for the benefits they provide, what justification do you have requiring “consent of their parents?” That they OWN their children’s bodies?

    It’s not a question of whether or not parents think they know better… or even know better… what is the durable and overriding harm?!

    Understand that it is still the norm for parents who would be entirely trans-accepting in the abstract to get more than a little freaked out when they discover their darling little girl is a darling little boy. You want to really give them the authority to decide what’s “right for their child,” when the child’s rights don’t do any harm and are entirely reversible?

    As for saying “I’m kind of TERFy,” that’s exactly equivalent to saying “I’m kind of a sociologically- and medically-ignorant bigot.” Because if you’re a TERF, that is factually and provably exactly what you are.

    If it’s meant as a joke, it’s not quite so funny after the last four years. So yeah, you might want to keep that to yourself.

    - pax \ Ctein

    [ Please excuse any word-salad. Dragon Dictate in training! ]

  33. I wish I had a fictional interlocutor. Except that he would probably steal all my beer, swipe all of my music, and watch all my porn then delete it.

  34. [Deleted because of, if not outright transphobia, at least a deep misunderstanding of the issue. So you were correct, Harold! The comment was deleted– JS]

  35. Folks, I don’t know how it wasn’t clear, but just in case: This is not the place to opine about whether you think trans people should have rights. They do (note that Biden’s EO is based on an actual Supreme Court case affirming such), so we’re not pretending that they don’t. Thanks.

    Also, I’ll be turning off the thread to comments before I go to sleep tonight, probably in the next hour. They’ll be back up in the morning.

    Update: Comments back on.

  36. There are many things I hope for fervently from the Biden administration, but high up on the list is dealing with the problem of the Electoral College. Ideally it should be eliminated, but I understand that would be super difficult. Still something needs to be done to stop one voter in Wyoming from having 75 times the power of one voter in New Jersey (I read that figure in a news article somewhere, apologies if it’s not correct). How the heck does this system equate to “one person, one vote”?

  37. Hyman:”I’m kind of TERFy”

    Trans-Exclusive. It says right there in the name that you’re a bigot.

    “Republican efforts will fizzle because there are too few trans people to be scary.”

    I cant tell if you are just unbelievably naive or purposefully downplaying how much higher the rate of violent attacks by right wing bigots against trans people is.

    The GOP is the party of fear against imaginary threats. They built a wall against imaginary threats, imposed a muslim ban against imaginary threats, complain every year about an imaginary war on christmas, invaded entire nations based on imaginary intel. Their entire fear of trans people has been imaginary from the beginning. It never stopped them before. It wont stop them now

  38. As for the 74 million voters, folks from Australia or Canada would have missed out on any elaboration of the sentence, “the base is voting against their own interests” (medical and economic)

    I found an elaboration that you should be able to get overseas, by a physician-researcher-professor, Jonathan M. Metzl. He uses hard data such as deaths of whites, and soft data such as focus groups. Lots of graphs.

    His book is “Dying of Whiteness” subtitled How the politics of racial resentment is killing America’s heartland.

    If you want to understand Yankees, and why “white supremacy” is being heard these days, (at least on this blog) while not meaning young male brownshirts, this is the book.

  39. @Foxessa
    Both stim bills have been a disaster, mostly due to Congress fucking around and not thinking things through, two things they do best.
    Stim Bill 1
    Orange crapstain goes all Eva Perone, promises money for outraged masses, Congress dicks around, gives IRS less than 2 weeks for rollout but promises that the 2 weeks of all-nighters of programming required–while pretty much all government agencies are shut down–will be accompanied by all the Red Bull you can drink and hold down. Payments issued, problems ensue.

    Stim Bill 2: Signed 12/28/2020 , rollout is 1/4/2021, problems ensue. What exactly did anyone expect with 3 working days to get anything done? Problems ensue.

    Congressional timeline:
    Budget due 10/1/2020: upshot, no budget, continuing resolution passed, new due date 12/11/2020

    10/01/2020 – 11/02/2020: Congress fucks around with campaigning

    11/3/2020 – 12/11/2020: Congress fucks around with post-election recounts and continuing counts; whining and pouting ensue

    12/11/2020 Budget due! No budget! Congress gives itself a mulligan and pushes back date to 12/18/2020

    12/18/2020: Groundhog Day! New pushed-back date is 12/20/2020

    12/20/2020: Congress kinda gets something together for orange crapstain to sign. Predictably, orange crapstain whines, postures, sulks, pouts, signs late 12/28/2020

    1/6/21: All of orange crapstain’s biggest fans (I’d say Number 1 fans, but really, they’re Number 2, judging by the actual crapstains they left all over the Capitol) get together for old-timey white supremacist rally/seditionist riot, cheered on by orange crapstain who tweets that he loves them and is with them, then runs away on all fours to safe room with the protection of the Secret Service. (Later, the orange crapstain will somehow fail to pardon any of them!)

    1/20/21 Joe Biden sworn in as POTUS 46. AT LAST

    1/23/21 Joe Biden states publicly that the IRS screwed up with the stimulus payments. True, but maybe not blame the guy who just drives the bus and maybe turn your gaze to the monkeys-throwing-shit-all-day that was Congress for the last nine months? You know, the people who failed to put a cap on the PPP, which allowed companies like Amazon and Joel Osteen to collect millions while leaving Mom & Pop businesses out in the cold, especially with the “oops, the fund is out of money already, too bad for you, small Main St. businesses” BS. Also, the stim bills would have mattered a lot less if Congress had supported small businesses way more than it did, ditto unemployment payments.

    BTW, the Congressional shitshow over the budget is the reason that states weren’t able to do more for their constituents–a lot of state budgets get money from the federal government, so they need to know what their federal budget allotment will be before they can plan anything. Sure, plenty of mayors and governors are pure BS, but a lot of the PPE & vaccine dysfunction stems directly from the federal government fucking around and not taking care of business.

  40. My favorite thing thus far from the new administration? Biden apologized to the troops that were sleeping in the garage and took steps to get them moved to better quarters.

    Can you imagine either of those things happening a year ago?

    I look forward to yet more boring competency and basic humanity from this administration.

  41. I want the filibuster to go. But, if there’s not the votes to do so, then by god you’d better be standing up there at the podium, pooping yourself while you read Battlefield Earth or Atlas Shrugged into the record, Mr. Cruz.

    If it’s that important to hold things up, then feel free to stand there for hours while you tinkle down your leg. Can’t make that sacrifice? then GTFO.

  42. The Last Emperox was my favorite fiction book of the year, but my best book of 2020, in all categories, was “How Fascism Works”, by Jason Stanley. It is the Trumpist GOP playbook, from the creation of myths, alternative facts, and many other paths to eat away Democracy from within and without. Those paths have been used at least 20 times in the last 100 years to place a strongman and fascism in power. If only we as a race weren’t so easily led around…

  43. When did unity become code for “democrats do all the compromising” or “democrats weave republicans’ objectively terrible policies into their legislation”?

    Why can’t unity mean republicans taking humanity pills and allowing Biden and the democrats to right the enumerable wrongs Trump has done to this country and its people?

    The fact that republicans are screaming about the end of Trump’s racist immigration policies (these include family separations and concentration camps) puts the lie to all of their talk about being unfairly painted with the “nativist” (Faux News) and white supremacist brush.
    And the seditionist insurrection enablers flapping their gums have a lot of god damn nerve.

    Until they’re prepared to state unequivocally and publicly that Biden won the election fair and square and that Jan 6 was the product of right-wing conspiracy theories, misinformation and white supremacy, they need to STFU about any and everything else, especially if they plan to allow complicit congress members to remain in their seats and vote to let Trump off the hook.

    Some have gone on record with the truth, but the ones with the biggest mouths have yet to follow suit.

    And republicans don’t get to whine about democrats taking full advantage of their majorities (slim though they may be) after four years of trampling norms, dismantling Obama era policies and blowing through legal barricades because they could.

    Unity means keeping quiet about executive orders, spending and price tags like they did when Trump was in office.

    Unity means recognizing that the profound and far-reaching consequences of Trump’s bungling of the pandemic response are bipartisan horrors.

    Unity would certainly mean getting out of the way, even if democrats were the only ones facing food insecurity, mass evictions and the difficulties associated with prolonged school closures.

    If unity means uniting around policies that harm the most vulnerable among the American people, then to hell with it.

  44. Dear Tomet,

    Instead of TERF, I’ve seen some folks referring (accurately) to these bigots as Feminism-Appropriating Radical Transphobes.

    I’m gonna adopt that, count on it!

    pax / Ctein

  45. Fictional Interlocutor is a ghostwriter. Thanks to centuries of publishing-industry tradition, he’s going to get credit from the credited author at about the same time as this credited author publicly acknowledges his ghostwriter. And in the same way: Buried in a library catalog. (This is about publishing tradition, not about Our Gracious Host.)

  46. Apologies for going off topic in my last comment. About Biden’s first two days–my favorite things about the huge stack of executive orders he signed are:

    (1) It’s clear his team has been working hard for weeks, even through all the chaos, to prepare for the afternoon of January 20. I never once got the sense that anyone in the last administration was “working hard” on anything in particular.

    (2) His flurry of orders undid the greatest harms first. So not only is his team working hard, they’ve been paying attention to the people whom the last President hurt worst.

  47. I am wondering, is there a Whatever Style Guide that specifies when to hyphenate (fuck-knuckles) vs. when to not hyphenate (chucklefucks)

  48. @Michaelnelligan
    Try Strunk & White’s Elements of Style
    or Eats, Shoots and Leaves, which is actually much funnier but still a nifty grammar & syntax style guide.

  49. John, a minor point, but “sexual orientation” is usually thought to be a better term than “sexual preference” (probably because “preference” implies that it’s a choice).

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