The 14 Columns I Would Write If This Were a Normal News Cycle

In any normal era, the events of the past few days would have been fodder for fourteen different columns. (Actually, if we’re being honest, the events of the past two days would never occur in a normal era.)

But it’s only been three days, and I work full time, and ain’t nobody got time for that.

At the same time, I’m scared that the whirlwind is doing its job—it’s keeping us from focusing on any one thing long enough for its full impact to be felt.

A lot of the most committed activists I know are checking out for some self-care, their motherboards overloaded. A lot of the regular folks I know are becoming obsessively focused on catchy memes like #goldenshower or “You’re fired” or the editorial ethics of BuzzFeed.

It seems that a great danger of the Trump Era is not normalization, after all, but simple sensory overload and manipulative distraction.

So here they are. The theses of the 14 columns I would write if I could write 14 columns before another 14 earth-shattering events enter the news cycle.


1. Rex Tillerson lied under oath—several times—during his confirmation hearing for the Secretary of State position.

2. Jeff Sessions became an overnight miracle moderate for his confirmation hearing—suddenly he understands that pussy-grabbing is assault, black people are people, and abortion is legal.

But one controversial line of his hasn’t changed at all: “Sessions suggested that he believes that religious beliefs that embrace wanting to harm the U.S. can be taken into consideration in the vetting process and can be grounds to deny someone entry into the country.”

Tillerson similarly refused to rule out a Muslim registry for use in so-called extreme vetting.

All of which suggests that, unlike his promise to make Mexico pay for a wall or his pledge not to cut Social Security, Trump is serious about implementing his most extreme anti-Muslim policies.

3. Don’t listen to Sessions’ faux-moderation. He is a walking nightmare. He thinks the Justice Department should stop investigating corrupt police forces because it’s bad for morale and puts lives at risk. (You know what’s bad for morale and puts lives at risk? Corrupt police forces.)

 

4. If Donald Trump were a Cabinet appointee, he wouldn’t even be permitted to be sworn in under his current financial arrangements. As it is, he’ll be sworn in, but he’ll be in violation of the Constitution from the first day.

5. This is the kind of moment you rehearse in journalism school—the kind of moment you fantasize about in bed at night. You are a big-shot reporter at a press conference, and the person leading the conference points to another reporter, says “you are fake news,” and refuses to answer that reporter’s question. When it is your turn, you ask that reporter’s question again. You back them up. You do not let the subject of the press conference avoid accountability. You do not let them dictate the terms to the press. You pursue the truth, and you are diligent in your defense of tough questions.

This is the daydream. That’s not how it happened. And every reporter there, everyone who failed to live up to their idle daydreams of courage, should be ashamed of themselves.

6. Dylann Roof can be both a murdering, unrepentant white supremacist and a citizen worthy of protection from state-sanctioned murder.

7. The United States Congress is a group of squabbling children with a middling understanding of the Constitution. Apparently, the Capitol Police are even worse.

8. Sex work is work, and sex workers should not be the butt of your bad Donald Trump jokes. The fact that he allegedly contracts sex workers is close to being the least important thing about him.

9. Seriously, if you’re going to talk about the (unverified!) golden shower incident, make sure you recognize that the takeaway is not that Trump has a gross kink. It’s that even in his sexual fantasies, he’s a vindictive, resentful narcissist with an obsessive vendetta against the Obamas.

10. I, too, love that President Obama awarded Uncle Joe the Presidential Medal of Freedom, but I’d really love if he’d award Chelsea Manning her well-deserved freedom.

11. It’s not too late to stop the slow-rolling ACA repeal, and it’s definitely too early to give up. People’s lives are at stake. Call, show up, and fight.

And while you’re calling, check to see if your otherwise-liberal Senator voted themselves into the Hall of Shame on the issue of prescription drug prices.

If you live in CO, DE, NJ, WA, PA, IN, NM, ND, VA, or MT, you owe one or both of your Democratic Senators an angry phone call.

If you live in AZ, AR, ME, TX, IA, AK, LA, UT, SD, or KY, you should make sure to thank your Republican Senator(s) for this, even as you yell at them for their vote on the ACA repeal as a whole.

12. President Obama’s farewell speech was not urgent enough for my taste, but stick a pin in it. Right now, we need to fight. When the smoke clears, we need to come back and rebuild on the foundation and within the contours that he draws.

13. If this continues to go downhill such that, a year from now, we’re all asking ourselves, “At what point did everything irrevocably change?” you should point to January 10-11, 2017. And that is the question that gets asked by people who live under authoritarianism. It’s a slow slide, until it isn’t.

14. If you don’t want to focus on the most salacious, most recent Russia rumors because they may be unfounded—I agree. Which is why we should focus on the facts.

There’s more to learn, but we don’t have to learn any more to know that illegal, immoral, and nation-destroying things have happened.


Jacqui is a terrible dinner party guest—she only knows how to talk about politics and religion. On a typical Friday night, she can be found binge-watching her current Netflix show of choice, playing Civilization: The Board Game and drinking <$8 bottles of champagne.

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