Stray Thoughts 1/11: “This Isn’t Even the Appetizer”


  1. I’m in a state of some despair over the future, as are I think many people. Part of this is religious disillusionment and part of it is just the horrible circumstance of realizing that A. we haven’t lived in a democracy for some time and B. the civic institutions that have somehow survived the quiet destruction of that democracy aren’t long for this world.
  2. The president-elect stocked his press address with people to laugh and clap for him on Wednesday. It is of course barely even our first horror but it is certainly a new and especially dictatorial one, and from a lizard-brained fiend obsessed with television and ratings. I expressed my horror to a colleague on our way out to lunch and his response, which is apt, was “This isn’t even the appetizer. This isn’t even the fucking amusée.”
  3. People objected to Trump calling BuzzFeed “a failing pile of garbage” and then to his shutting down a CNN question as “rude.” The former is fine. BuzzFeed should put it on its masthead. Fear the latter. Civility is the enemy of democracy and freedom. It is the stronghold of the powerful and the stick with which they may publicly beat people who have nothing but a voice. It is the conflation of deference and good manners and it is invoked exclusively when the object of deference deserves none. Good manners are much better; they require you to stand up for a pregnant lady who doesn’t have a seat on the subway and to invite people who don’t look like you into your home. Civility blows goats. Shit on its pretend intransitivity. Its exclusive utility to the powerful can eat my asshole. Fuck civility, fuck calls for civility, fuck shame, and fuck you, Donald Trump.
  4. Replacing and rebuilding our institutions will be a matter of significant political will, which we just don’t seem to have in the US right now, and honestly, it’s becoming hard to blame our citizenry. A horribly perfect synecdoche for the 2016 presidential election according to Mike Allen’s emailed list of Clinton cabinet picks: the real choice voters were offered for labor secretary was between the CEO of Starbucks and the CEO of Carl’s Jr.
  5. That seems to sum up the differences between the two candidates nicely; Starbucks gives its employees health insurance and has cloth-eared wokeness in its corporate politics, while at Carl’s Jr, harassment is epidemic, benefits are nil and corporate politics are about Kate Upton eating cheeseburgers nearly naked. They’re still both a pair of fucking, fucking, fucking fast food restaurants in an especially wage-theft-prone sector of our horrible soul-eating service economy where nobody has a fucking union and whether your toddler dies of strep fucking throat or not is down to the depth of moral imagination and subsequent goddamned shitassed thirdhand largesse of the individual devil-worshipping employer like we live in fucking feudal fucking Europe, FUCK.
  6. The power structure of the evangelical Christian church is pretty bad, isn’t it? Here are Enron’s stated values on its annual report:
    -Communication – We have an obligation to communicate.
    -Respect – We treat others as we would like to be treated.
    -Integrity – We work with customers and prospects openly, honestly, and sincerely.
    Enron of course valued none of those things and instead bilked Californian taxpayers out of billions of dollars in a complicated scheme to trade energy resources as though they were shares on the open market and many of the people involved went to prison. Ever thus to evangelicalism: it puts one person in charge of a whole bunch of people with little oversight, despite telling everyone in the congregation about total depravity and encouraging public confession of sin. Show me a pastor who regularly confesses his personal sins before his congregation.
  7. Democracy doesn’t really happen in the US. The Republicans have made sure that a select number of people turn out for them in reliable numbers every time there’s an election, and though they do not win every election, even in the off years they quietly shore up that apparatus and pick away at everything else that might allow people who won’t vote for them to vote. They pass voter ID laws, they continue to block representation in the House and the Senate for Puerto Rico and Washington DC, they purge “duplicate” voters from the rolls, and they keep poll hours short, during the week, across the country. It’s a remarkably effective way to retain power, especially when the Democrats just fucking roll over for them and let them do it.
  8. To wit: if your senator votes to confirm a single one of Donald Trump’s cabinet nominees, primary that motherfucker as hard as you can.
  9. Call your senators’ and congressmen’s offices every day and tell them you will do this.

Author: samthielman

Sam Thielman is a reporter and critic based in Brooklyn, New York. His blog is, his twitter handle is @samthielman, and if you can't find him you should check The Strand.

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