Recommentunde - Grouchy 😡 - Week of 20 Oct 2019

it's the latest edition of

The Recommentunde Newsletter

For the week that began October 20 2019

Baratunde at Game 2 of the Yankees Playoff Loss

This week's photo is from Yankee Stadium, game two where the most interesting occurrence was two white guys nearly fighting because one called out the other for failing to remove his cap during a singing of "God Bless America."

Hello there fellow being in humanity,

I’ve been thinking a lot about pain, anger, and what voice I want to project into the world.

The murder by Fort Worth, Texas police of Atatiana Jefferson in her own kitchen was another reminder by America that a black life can be taken at any time in any place because there are no safe space-times for us. There was a time when I made time to grieve such losses. Now I just expect them.

A conversation I had last week with a 20-year old black college student from a neglected part of a grotesquely wealthy city still reverberates in my soul. He asked, “What is the hardest part of being a man of color today?” I answered, “Managing other people’s expectations and trying to navigate a world that sees us as simultaneously super-human and sub-human.” It’s an impossible trick to master, and I chose not to withhold this truth from the young man.

As this Fyre Festival of a U.S. presidency continues to play out with deadly consequences, I reluctantly realize that my account of remaining, giveable fucks for Trump supporters has been overdrawn to a catastrophically negative degree. Forget reaching out. Forget persuading people on the fence. Just outvote them and win with people who actually want to live in a free future.

Which brings me to the 2020 campaign and the role of the powerful in overturning systems of power. When I think about the American right wing, I think about two groups who see the world in the same way. Right wing billionaires look down on right wing poor people, and those same poor people look up to the billionaires. While the wealthy rig systems to entrench their own power and happily use poor folks as a means to get what they want, those same poor people are happily used, telling themselves a fantasy that they too could be billionaires some day. In conservative America, both the poor and the rich believe the rich belong on top.

Meanwhile on the left, the billionaires also look down on the poor, but the poor look sideways at them, not up. Many understand that the system is set up to advantage the already-advantaged and that deeper, more systemic changes are needed to create a just and equitable world. So we get stuck. We get stuck because many of the people funding change only want it to go so far. This is not my unique observation. Writer Anand Giridharadas as written eloquently and incisively on the subject in his book, Winners Take All. Many others have recognized this phenomenon of short-changing change.

But I’m feeling that half-stepping progressivism acutely right now as I’m seeing this presidential campaign unfold. The right’s power brokers are happily funding conspiracy theories, voter suppression, and general corruption. The left’s power brokers and campaign operatives are pulling punches, wishing they could live in a time before digital media, downplaying “us versus them” rhetoric especially on race and class, and avoiding the language of a fight altogether because they know they may be on the wrong side of it.

It is a fight, though. As someone said to me a few weeks ago, “America is always a fight.” So what we need now is boldness. We need campaign operations that are going to realize that online organizing and digital strategy are the main battlefield, not some nice-to-have. We need policy proposals that will try to establish an economic system that approaches fairness and create a planet that remains livable.

Above all, we cannot lead out of fear for what deeply-compromised, unpatriotic, conspiracy-addled Republicans might say about us. They have aligned themselves with a chaotic, dangerous, racist, sexist, authoritarian maniac, and their testimony on this subject is simply irrelevant and inadmissible. At least for now. At least until they demonstrate their willingness to actually put “America first.”

I generally want to bring folks together and accentuate the positive possibilities. I don’t like throwing entire categories of people away. But right now I’m having a lot of thoughts in that direction. Yes, I’m hopeful and inclusive. But I’m also angry and tired.


Here’s an independent film project worth knowing about, sharing, and supporting. Discloser: I’m friends with one of the producer-actors. Just watch the video for the full effect. Holy Water by Sebastian La Cause | Kickstarter

And now, for our regularly-scheduled content:

In which a decorated former military officer says what we all know: Our Republic Is Under Attack From the President | New York Times.

Scripted television is doing documentary work, educating Americans on a deleted chapter from our violent, racist history: How HBO’s ‘Watchmen’ Recreated the Harrowing 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre | Decider.

Big race article here! Ibram X. Kendi has daring, novel ideas about racism — and how to fight it | The Washington Post

Did you know that America has always been a nation built on bullshit and make-believe? Why Americans turn to conspiracy theories | The Washington Post.

"The key challenge for female candidates is less about proving their own capability as a candidate and more about inspiring Americans to believe that they are capable of electing the candidate they most want to be president.” Warren Closes The Electability Gap | Avalanche.

David Brooks writes some annoying things, some smart things, and ends down with the only reasonable conclusion: If It’s Trump vs. Warren, Then What? | The New York Times

Take seven minutes and watch this instead of cable news pontification: Professor who predicted last 9 presidential elections on how impeachment will impact 2020 | CBS News via YouTube.

A few months ago, I mentioned my college roommate, Dahni-El Giles, ran a climate crisis session at our 20-year reunion which blew me away. The simulation tool he used is featured in this video. The Simulation That Shows How Hard it Will Be to Solve Climate Change | Vice News via YouTube

Now for something neat: Computer Files Are Going Extinct | OneZero

Now for something to make you smile: Grouch (Joker Parody) | SNL - YouTube


Peace and Love.