Category Archives: Blog Post

You’re Fired! The Unemployable Trump Administration

You're fired, White House!

At the one-month mark, we now have a working theory of what makes an employee fireable (or not even hireable) in the Trump administration. There are two main types.

Fireable Offense Type #1: Be Drop Dead Scandalous

1. In December, Jason Miller, who was tapped to be the White House communications director, quit after another transition official, A.J. Delgado, tweeted her jilted love at him. Miller and his wife were expecting a new baby, so, via Twitter, “Delgado congratulated ‘the baby-daddy’ on his promotion,” ominously adding: “The 2016 version of John Edwards.”

“When people need to resign graciously and refuse to, it’s a bit … spooky,” Delgado then wrote. When an old law school friend asked on Twitter to whom she was referring, Delgado replied: “Jason Miller. Who needed to resign … yesterday.”

Delgado then deleted her Twitter account and, after Politico reported on the rumored affair, privately disclosed the details of the relationship to the transition team.

If you reach back into the deep part of yourself where you catalog other people’s misbehavior, you may even recall that Page Six reported back in October that, the night before the last presidential debate, Delgado and Miller, along with several journalists, were spotted together at the world’s largest strip club. Read more…

Greetings from Alabama

Alabama State Capitol

Overwhelmed by pieces that tell you how little you understand voters from “the other side”? Yeah me, too.

Here’s a different perspective. “The Alabamafication of America” compares that state government’s history of populism, corruption, and Evangelical roots with the attributes of 45’s administration.

On the populist scandal side:

Back in the 1940s and 50s, Governor “Big Jim” Folsom was one of the most popular men ever to hold the position. To this day, many Alabamians say that if another Folsom ever runs for office, they’ll vote for him, because Big Jim famously paved rural roads to underserved places (including my grandparents’ childhood homes). Big Jim was also famous for his vices—in a televised debate with George Wallace, Folsom showed up drunk and failed to remember the names of his many children. His apocryphal line—“if they bait a hook with whiskey and women, they’ll catch Big Jim every time”—remains prominent in Alabama lore.

The lesson is simple: populism rises above all other concerns in Alabama. Demagoguery has a long track record of success in the South, and a politician who sufficiently channels that energy can say and do most anything—“grab them by the pussy,” for example—and still win by a landslide. George Wallace’s racism cost Alabama millions in economic development and outside investment, yet his populist appeal won elections. He served several nonconsecutive terms as governor, including one as late as the 1980s.

Trump won the election with the same flair as Folsom. With his cabinet picks and his agenda, it looks like Trump will govern like an Alabamian as well, with the classic strategies of a Montgomery politician.

And on how to keep your own safe when they might be up to no good:

Newt Gingrich has suggested that Trump pardon his family members in advance for any violation while he is in office.

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A President in Search of An Enemy

screen-shot-2017-02-18-at-1-14-47-pm

A day after President Trump’s now notorious solo press conference, The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza floated an idea gleaned from a senior White House official, that without an enemy in his sightlines, Donald Trump is virtually at sea. It was Steve Bannon who suggested “the media” as a target—simple for Bannon, the official grumbled, “because he never talks to the media”—and minutes after the hour-long presser ended, the administration seemed to solidify this tactic by rolling out the “Mainstream Media Accountability Survey.” The survey is a masterclass in leading questions (“On which issues does the mainstream media do the worst job of representing Republicans?”), and some of its sentence constructions are gnarled beyond comprehension by double negatives (“Do you believe that contrary to what the media says, raising taxes does not create jobs?”). If anything, the survey resembles the kind of impossible questioning one might find on a literacy test for voters in the Jim Crow south. Read more…

A Crisis in Sports: Attention Spans

Credit: Mark Danielson/Flickr

We’ll always be fascinated with sports; it’s a constant. There will always be a sizable percentage of the population that cares about the NBA trade deadline, what the New York Yankees accomplished during winter meetings, and whether Dak Prescott is in fact the real deal. Part of our collective human nature is marveling at what only just a few can do better than anyone else alive.

But if you’ve watched an NBA game and waited 10 minutes for the final minute and a half to play out, or if you’ve sat through a 20-pitch at-bat only to watch a player pop up, you might be understandably underwhelmed. There is something to be said for sports lacking the requisite amount of drama and intensity to keep people interested at all times. Again, this is all understandable. But for millennials, and we assume subsequent generations, it’s also a cause for concern.

According to a 2015 study undertaken by Microsoft, average attention spans had dropped by four seconds since 2000—we are now capable of concentrating on a subject at a given time for just eight seconds—why is why the NBA, MLB, and NCAA are all going to their own mattresses to figure out how to keep consumers engaged as the strength and prevalence of the Internet of Things continues to grow. Read more…

The Changing Formation of the Modern American Family

A picture of the writer's sister-in-law, her wife, and their two children (Jack and Beatrix) during last year's Portsmouth (NH) Pride festival.

The dynamics of what constitutes the American family is rapidly changing. According to a 2014 PEW study, less than half—46 percent, to be exact—of children younger than 18 years old are living in a home with “married heterosexual parents in their first marriage.”

And it’s not just that adults are waiting longer and until they’re farther into their careers to conceive: PEW reported a year later that 16 percent of children live in ‘blended families’ (e.g. a household with a stepparent or a stepsibling); in the same study, it also announced that while seven percent of kids live with cohabiting parents, some estimates expect that rate could jump to nearly 40 percent by the time that child becomes a teenager. Read more…

Some Pig

Cover of 45 rpm record of Three Little Pigs

This story is very short, but it’s ridiculous and wonderful.

Derek was a magician and I thought I’d convince him by saying a mini pig would be perfect for his act. The two of us had met at a smoke and rib house where I worked as a waiter. But when Derek came home he was furious that I hadn’t spoken to him first. The pig (whom we later named Esther) looked like hell. She had a ratty pink collar, sunburned ears, her nails had chipped varnish and she looked so sad.

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A Reading List from the NBA’s Smartest Coach

Credit: djbelc01/Flickr

San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich isn’t just a master on all things basketball; when he isn’t speaking out against the Muslim ban or voicing his unwavering support for the Women’s March, the coach—who has led the Spurs to five NBA championships—is one of the most well-read people in the NBA. Read more…

The 2017 National Magazine Award Winners: A Reading List

Credit: Keith Jenkins/Flickr

This year’s National Magazine Awards—otherwise known as the Ellies (or the award shaped like a modernist elephant)—was held at a luncheon Tuesday afternoon in New York. While the big titles, like New York, ESPN the Magazine, and the New York Times Magazine, held sway in several categories, there were some stunners among the honors, including Huffington Post Highline, Pacific Standard, California Sunday Magazine, and Eater. Mother Jones won the Ellie for “Magazine of the Year.” Read more…

StrawberryGate: Why Does Tom Brady Insist He Has Never Eaten a Strawberry?

Credit: Todd Shoemake/Flickr

What mattered during last night’s Super Bowl LI wasn’t the Atlanta Falcons’ collapse. It wasn’t the New England Patriots’ stunning comeback and overtime win—the first time ever a Super Bowl went into overtime—or that Tom Brady has cemented his status as the greatest quarterback of all-time. No, what mattered most about the 2016 Super Bowl is that Brady is a blatant liar.

Dayna Evans of The Cut spent a day this past fall with the Patriots’ quarterback during his suspension as part of the team’s Deflategate penalty, and her resulting piece is full of fantastic tidbits about a player who is famously vanilla off the field: Brady loves nothing better than relaxing in sweatpants and UGGs; he likes to read a book every now and then; and he has never eaten a strawberry in his life.

Tom Brady has learned that he doesn’t love strawberries or coffee by never having tried either at all, a commitment no mortal man could ever conceive of pulling off. “I’ve never eaten a strawberry in my life. I have no desire to do that.” Never? “Absolutely not.”

Read more…

The Successful Boycott of #DeleteUber and a New Era of Activism

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Uber has courted controversy since the ride-sharing company’s inception in 2009. At the time, it made sense that such a disruptive company would cause others concern, but these weren’t typical complaints, ranging from underpaying drivers to disturbing accounts of poor labor practices, all of which ultimately culminated in a class-action lawsuit in California that contended Uber illegally paid its drivers as independent contractors rather than employees (that suit, along with another in Massachusetts that argued the same provision, was ultimately settled, and Uber was allowed to continue using the designation ‘independent contractors’).

But as Uber’s CEO Travis Kalanick continued to grow the company, Uber looked to advance itself as a leader amongst a new wave of monolithic tech companies—a group for which the phrase ‘don’t be evil’ might not share the same distinction.

That is, until this past weekend: During the rollout of the Muslim ban, otherwise known as Executive Order 13769 (which bars citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from the U.S. for up to 90 days, and disrupts off the United States’ refugee system for upwards of 120 days), the New York Taxi Workers Alliance declared a solidarity strike at JFK International Airport, the hub of the country’s protest against the ban. Read more…