The Two Challenges Facing Big Tech Are Inextricably Intertwined, And the Outcome Of One May Determine The Outcome of The Other

By Sarah Lee

It turns out two issues almost guaranteed to establish themselves as part of the platforms of both Democrat and Republican 2020 presidential candidates — abortion and free speech on the internet — are interconnected in such a way that how voters feel about one is likely to heavily influence how they feel about the other.

And pro-life activists are already — whether they want to or not — playing a starring role in framing a debate that will have implications for two huge challenges facing Big Tech: allegations of anti-trust behavior and viewpoint discrimination.

Pro-life activists, admittedly long-time critics of what they believe are censorship tactics by tech platforms like Facebook and Twitter, are growing louder in their condemnation of viewpoint discrimination in recent weeks because a.) they believe attempts to silence their side of the abortion debate has grown more egregious as medical science and voter preferences shift away from abortion, and b.) they recognize the abortion industry itself has become more vulnerable and is making desperate moves motivated by fear for loss of livelihood.

At the same time, some of the Big Tech companies — a term used as a catchall to describe five or six tech companies that include Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Google, and Apple — are being looked at by federal regulators for allegations of monopolistic behavior, which many believe could ultimately lead to anti-trust lawsuits in the near future.

Facebook, specifically, is the target of an investigation by a bipartisan group of state attorneys general to examine their “dominance in the industry and the potential anticompetitive conduct stemming from that dominance,” according to a statement from New York State Attorney General Letitia James, who is leading the charge.

And in the background of these larger, more bottom-line related allegations, are continued allegations from pro-life groups like Live Action, who say Facebook has an arguably even more serious problem: viewpoint discrimination.

Live Action — founded in 2003 by a then 15-year-old Lila Rose, who later went on to partner with James O’Keefe in producing game-changing undercover videos of Planned Parenthood clinics — has recently, she says, been punished by Facebook via a notice to followers of the Live Action account that she and the organization were “spreading false news.”

“My understanding of the process is that Facebook employs third-part fact-checkers, that are not working exclusively for Facebook, but are generally attempting to help people understand what is true and not true online,” Rose says. 

Two of the authors of the fact-check — who turned out to be well-known to Rose as actual abortionists (i.e. they make their living pushing abortion; one was even a NARAL board member) — penned an article saying Live Action’s shared posts asserting abortion was “never medically necessary” were inaccurate. 

“These abortionists who Facebook mistakenly held up as ‘fact checkers’ wrote the piece and, literally within hours, they had put a strike against my account, punished the Live Action account and sent an alert to thousands of our followers saying we were spreading false news,” Rose says.

Rose has also recently ramped up her fight against what she believes are attempts to silence pro-life voices on tech platforms by hiring a well-known free speech lawyer to send cease and desist notices to both YouTube (owned by Google) and Pinterest for behavior Rose says is similar to the actions of Facebook.

In early September, Live Action’s attorneys sent cease and desist letters to YouTube and Pinterest. These letters accused them of suppressing content and breaching contracts, which resulted in money loss and damaged reputations.

Free speech lawyer Harmeet Dhillon and Dhillon Law Group drafted two cease and desist letters to YouTube and Pinterest respectively for what appears to be viewpoint discrimination on their platforms. And “monetary damages and injunctive relief are available pursuant to these causes of action, and will be sought in court if this matter cannot be promptly resolved.”

This is the crux of what users are going to have to grapple with as Facebook and other tech giants begin to negotiate allegations that they not only stifle speech on their platforms, but that they may also be running afoul of anti-trust laws and acting as monopolies, employing business practices that stifle both competition and free expression.

Whether or not Rose is correct that some tech companies are actively keeping pro-life voices from being heard remains to be seen, but there are legislators in Washington, DC who appear to empathize with concerns that tech companies aren’t operating completely above board. Four Republican Senators — Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, Kevin Cramer, and Mike Braun — sent a letter to Facebook and requested they rethink their “fact-check” of Live Action’s posts. Facebook complied and took it down.

Conservatives such as Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz have come out in favor of repealing what he believes is a safe harbor that give platforms the ability to play both sides by claiming public forum (and therefore protected) status sometimes, and publisher status at others depending on the circumstances. 

That safe harbor is what’s known as Section 230 protections under the 1996 Communications Decency Act. The goal of the law was to protect “websites and social networks from being sued for what third-party users (i.e., you) say or do on those sites.”

The idea of the law is to give Facebook editorial control over its content: the ability to monitor, edit, and even delete content (and users) it considers offensive or unwelcome according to its terms of service. These rights theoretically existed before Section 230 (thanks to the First Amendment), but Section 230 clarified it:

No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be held liable on account of—(A) any action voluntarily taken in good faith to restrict access to or availability of material that the provider or user considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected …

Legal scholars and courts have interpreted this to mean that Section 230 gives social media companies the power to moderate not just content but users. 

So while tech companies are battling the perception they are silencing some viewpoints, they are simultaneously, often in the same interviews, being asked if they are engaging in business practices (creating anti-competitive advertising schemes or selling products pre-loaded with their own applications, for example) that are monopolistic in practice.

Facebook Head of Global Policy Management Monika Bickert told Yahoo Finance recently that she disavows any notion that Facebook has a bias against conservative ideas or users, and specifically said any perceived bias against pro-life groups had to do with disturbing images related to ads.

When asked whether the company has an anti-conservative bias, Facebook Head of Global Policy Management Monika Bickert explicitly told Yahoo Finance in a recent interview, “We do not.”

“This policy we’ve had on ads for a long time,” Bickert said. “We don’t allow people to share images in an ad that shows somebody with medical tubes in their body. And that’s because if somebody’s seen an ad on Facebook, we don’t want them to be surprised or unnecessarily upset.” It seems she’s talking about two different things here. Facebook’s policies regarding ads/promoted content vs. organic content are different. It sounds like she got fact-checked on a video I’m assuming she shared to her own page and the Live Action page. If she had an ad get shut down that shared the same message, that’s a different issue. 

While Rose’s alleged censure came from a video series she says conveys a message supported by doctors around the world (“If you can help people see why abortion is not medically necessary it undermines [abortionists’] entire practice and it hurts their entire ideology,” Rose said), the issue of free speech on these platforms is being framed and influenced by a larger effort to determine if they are violating anti-trust laws.

Rose herself sees the connection between the two, and says that they both represent what she believes are violations of these companies’ own terms of service when they insist to users that they don’t pick winners in policy or political debates.

“It’s a clear double standard,” she says. “Pro-abortion groups are allowed to advertise on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest….It’s not that they’re saying they don’t want to talk about abortion. It’s that they’re saying they only want one point of view; and in fact they’re going to punish those with a different viewpoint.” 

These two issues — anti-trust violations and the monitoring of speech — are separate in theory. But in practice, it may turn out that whatever the federal and state attorneys general investigations discover regarding monopolistic business practices could play a huge role in convincing these tech companies to tighten up on the perception they engage in viewpoint discrimination. If for no other reason, to stay off the federal radar. 


Flexing Fingers

I’m going to start writing again. Not that I’ve really stopped writing. But I did put away anything non-political or work-related. I think I got my heart broken again, but I can’t be sure. I’ve learned how not to feel too much. That’s terribly sad, isn’t it? Here’s hoping reconnecting here will help me re-learn my heart. And get me back into turning phrases because I think I have a book in me. It’ll be a total Dave Eggers effort, written without a dream anyone will ever read it. But I’d like to give it a go nonetheless. And so, I’m just going to work my fingers a bit again…

Initially, I’ll be using this space for thoughts longer than twitter will let me pontificate about, or when I don’t feel like putting something into a thread because the thought I want to convey lends itself to more eloquence (or I’m just bored and want to write).

So here’s the first of those observations…

I was talking to my dad today about the softball team and how all the women have essentially quit (“Heh, wonder why,” he laughed), and I told him I saw a former friend of mine at the last game I attended (when I quit the team) and I was confused by the interaction.

“He said hello to me, and I said hello back,” I told Pops. “But I had no interest in saying anything else and — if you can believe it — he actually seemed surprised by that. Like he really doesn’t understand why I may not have much to say to him. I’m very confused by that. I feel genuinely hurt by him and how he just disappeared from my life, but he apparently is oblivious.”

“Well,” said Pops, “if you think about that a minute you’ll understand it.”

“No, I really don’t. I have thought about it.”

“What stepping stone have you ever trod on that talked back, Sarah?”


I know it may seem silly my kvetching about this softball team, but for the better part of nine years, they were also my friends. The first people I met when I moved to town knowing almost no one.

I had a birthday party the first year I was here — well, I should say, my upstairs neighbor did, and mine was a few days later so she invited me to share her party. She was having a crab pick on the back patio of the row house we lived in and said I could invite whoever I wanted. I invited every single person on my team, and spent the day getting my apartment ready to entertain friends after the picking was over.

Not one of them showed up. She had 20 or so friends in attendance and I excused myself very early and went downstairs to my apartment and cried my eyes out until I fell asleep.

I should have realized then.

They’re not bad people. But the relationships weren’t ever going to be what I had hoped for.


This time, baby, I’ll be bulletproof.

(I still don’t know who I’m going to watch UGA football games with, though.)


Before getting back into the, now complete, saga of the monster that used to take money from me every month for the privilege of letting him bully me and call me a loser (because he liked to do that when things got really frustrating for him), I want to recount a conversation I had with my dad today about work.

I had a contract end recently, rather abruptly and frankly at a rather bad time. The hit to my wallet came, what with moving and everything else, at a really bad time. But this adventure 600 miles from my emotional support system has taught me nothing if not the truth of the rule Douglas Adams was sharp enough to make a focus of his fantastic book, “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”: DON’T PANIC.

And so — and trust me when I say this has not always been my response to adversity — I don’t.

But I asked Pops to read my final emails to the organization as I tried to figure out what was going on. As I mentioned, the strangeness was abrupt. And I’ve had more than enough of the ridiculous tendency in this town to disparage innocent people to ameliorate bad behavior. I seriously can’t take that shit anymore. It’s happened both personally (I know I’ve talked about the  First Man I Liked in a While [new nickname] and how callous he was and his subsequent attempt to make it look like I deserved it or some such bullshit. Both to my friends and to work associates. All because he chose radio silence instead of putting on his man pants and having the tough conversation (which, if he had been grown enough to stop and think about it, probably wasn’t going to be all that tough. I’m not a simpering fool that misunderstands the way things are. But arrogance tends to cloud judgment.) ) and professionally. And, Holy God, I have no respect for it. Anyway, there was some insinuation that I was overly harsh or direct in my final exchanges, so I wanted my Dad to take a look and tell me what he thought.

His assessment was that I was pretty direct right at the end, “but I think at that point it was likely warranted. You weren’t getting an answer so you needed to back the little (bad word) up against the wall.”

Pops is Southern and doesn’t have a lot of respect for men who can’t just conduct their business with candor and honesty. Even if it’s a hard talk. I am my father’s daughter.

In any event, it was extraordinarily nice to hear my father tell me that of course it’s bad form to go radio silent, both with an employee seeking answers and a modicum of professional courtesy, and with a friend or lover who is confused by circumstances and just wants to tie up a loose end.

I felt validated. I remembered where I’m from. And it made me laugh at the silliness. And that was like a new day had dawned. It was a good talk.

The time has slipped away again and I don’t much feel like getting into what the creep who used to live upstairs did after he started renting my parking space. I’ll get into next time. But I will say this: people have asked me why I didn’t leave when, in Nov. of 2014, I got an email from creep’s wife — whom I had never dealt with before — that said I had 30 days to vacate because they were “taking the basement back for their own personal use.” (A legal reason to ask someone to quit, but only with a 90 days notice, not 30, which I found out after a pretty quick Google search)

Here’s the answer: I had nowhere to go in a month. I’m Southern and you don’t impose on people not your family. The closest family I had lived 2 1/2 hours away in Southern Md, and the only friend whom I might have asked has a decidedly quid pro quo approach to helping people and I wasn’t prepared to give him what he had been insinuating he wanted for some time (if ya know what I mean). So I ask — what would you have done?

I looked up the law, familiarized myself with what I thought it said, and then called an attorney. The right moves, as it turns out.

But more later. I’m kinda tired.




Monsters and Men

I’m going to sit here in the few minutes before I have to leave for dance class and try to get some things dug out of that weird computer firing off synapses behind my eyes. It’s been a while and I feel stiff writing — both my fingers and my brain — but it also feels like putting on an old coat that’s been hanging in the closet for the past 6 months that still smells like your shampoo so you know it’s yours. It feels like home. And, since there’s no way I finish before class, I’ll post what I have literally where I trail off, and get back to it later tonight while I’m watching baseball. This is my itinerary, and while it’s likely useless to you, it helps me focus to put it down.

So, I’d like to talk about monsters.

I use the expression quite a bit and I know it’s juvenile and flippant, but it’s expressive and a much better aspersion to cast than some of the choice words that flit through my head at the sight of some of the people I’ll be mentioning. Also, ever since watching the really interesting Netflix series Stranger Things (filmed in my hood in Atlanta!), I see even more truth in the descriptor “monster”. The metaphors are endless. Speaking of Stranger Things, look at this awesomeness:


Shel Silverstein and the Duffer Brothers walk into a bar…

Anyway, I’ve met my own flower-faced carnivores, a few here in the last several years, and I want to talk about them finally because I can now. Both because I have some perspective and because I’m no longer having to meet them in court (yes, yes, we’ll come to that).

And because I recently saw a bit of graffiti that kind of shook me a little. It’s going to seem really 14-year-old girl, but remember: I live in Washington, DC. It said simply:

It’s okay to care.

I actually had to sit and think about it for a few minutes and I realized that the fact that I needed to mull that one over meant that it had all gotten to me. The mean and needlessly jealous girlfriends, the nasty landlord, the twerpy dudes, the soul-sellers, the rhetoric wranglers, the people who’ve lost their faith in anything good but refuse to admit it. In short: they were winning.

So, consider what comes next a monster exorcism…


CONTINUED (until I have to leave to head to the dirty, dirty and pick up my sidekick. A blonde millennial girl asked me recently what breed he is and I said he was a Georgia Roscoe and she said “Aw! I’ve never heard of that breed!” and I said “It’s new.” Anyway, I think I’ll be writing this all weekend. Except when I’m at the Braves game for a final turn at the Ted. I don’t want to talk about this season. I see good things ahead but GOOD GOD this has been painful…moving on…):

The Monster in the Attic

I moved to DC 7 years ago, right before the first Snowmageddon hit. I mean the week before. I was terrified. And it’s been a tough go of it, primarily I think because I’m principled, and I say that with my tongue only half in my cheek. DC doesn’t really reward principles. There are certain outfits that do, and I’m slowly seeking them out, but for the most part it’s all pay to play here. And I’m not really built that way. So, work has been pockets of brilliance and success tempered by downturns that can weaken even the most confident of spirits. And I’m pushing on. But here recently I began to question if it wasn’t time to go home because not only had I finally met someone I liked only to be pretty nastily rebuked a few years back (I think he might be ok with conditions, but the girl he chose? Hoo boy. It’s been a while since I’ve seen someone that proud of being a bitch. Fascinating.), but right around the same time, things with the landlord — which had admittedly started out kinda strange and had followed a pretty weird trajectory with increasing levels of wtf — got downright stupid. And, looking back now after having been to court with him twice, and mediation twice, and endured a few years of harassment and very-near Chinese water torture levels of discomfort, I’m not really sure how or why I did it. Which is to say, why I chose to stay and fight him rather than let him run me off.

Well, that’s not true. Initially I stayed because I quite frankly couldn’t afford to pick up and leave and didn’t have anywhere to go in the month (!) he was giving me to vacate, and then, when that shook out a little and I realized what was happening and why he and his absolutely horrific now-ex-wife were behaving the way they were, I just got pissed. I was mad at a whole host of behavior I was seeing around me — the general self-love and selfies of the millennials (I know it seems weird but it’s a cultural rot that manifests in other more tangible ways and you can literally FEEL it), the aforementioned proud bitch just stomping around getting her way and playing sweet for the cameras (nice try sister but your between the lines stuff glows like a cancer under x-ray), being treated like shit to appease said proud bitch by someone who I think maybe isn’t really that cruel but will do what he needs to do to get where he wants to go (although if he had stopped for a hot second and taken a moment to get to know me at all, he would have realized he needn’t have worried and his problem was being manufactured on his end, not on mine), work people turning on each other and stealing jobs from friends and marginalizing people (seriously, the Trump Line is a real thing), etc etc and et al —  and, with all that going on, I needed a fight just to stay sane. So I chose to battle the Monster in Attic. For pragmatic reasons (it was happening in my home and that’s just unacceptable) and it was the one gauntlet that was thrown very pointedly at me and was actively coming to get me. And I mean coming in unannounced with this key while I’m getting out the shower coming to get me. So, my living room was the battlefield I chose.

And, yet again, time has crept away from me and I gotta run. More later possibly when I get off the road. I can’t stop now it seems…

CONTINUED: The Best Laid Plans of Monsters and Men

And here I am again, writing for a few minutes before I head back up the road to DC, sidekick safely tucked in beside me in the shotgun seat, returning to writing deadlines, and contract negotiations, and apartment hunting (things are looking positive on that front despite the short time frame, so don’t fret if you were inclined to), and — but of course! — the monster requesting to come into my apartment in the 2 weeks I have left to “do a few things”.

I. Can’t. Even.

Because the recent settlement agreement was specific in the terms, one of them being that he was to do no further repairs or bother me until I vacate and he turns over the settlement check (they call it “cash for keys”) barring some emergency that must be addressed (even then I think I’d just absorb the cost for the convenience of never having to deal with his hateful and abusive self EVER AGAIN). But, because he lives in some solipsistic fantasy world where the rules don’t apply to him, he is asking my attorney to schedule some time for him to come do a few thing (whatever the hell that means) before I leave.

My response?: “Absolutely not, and I expect the certified check in my hand by noon when the movers arrive.” The movers, by the way, are marines and so I’m looking forward to them being there when Mr. Sensitive Detroit Liberal in his black frame glasses who is actually an elitist bastard who thinks there are 2 sets of rules in life (sound familiar?) comes around and tries to bully me. God, I hope he does in front of them. I truly, truly do.

So, in the few minutes I have, let me start the narrative of how this all began. I don’t know that anyone cares, but it’s therapeutic for me to write about it and maybe will shed some light on how the bullying better-than-yous function, think, and make ridiculously stupid mistakes borne of their own self-love, and help someone else dealing with them.

I also just like to talk about how stupid they were and are and laugh about it. It’s actually really hilarious and worth the ridicule.

To begin:

When I moved to DC back in Dec. 2009, I rented from the mother/mother-in-law of my neighbors across the street in Athens, Ga., where I owned a house through grad school. The apartment was a great deal in a million dollar home in an up and coming section of DC, my former landlady was never there and let me house sit when she traveled, and generally, we had a good relationship. And she cut me a deal on rent.

Flash forward to 2012, and all of a sudden, with almost no notice, I was told I had new landlords — a married couple with 2 children who, according to former landlady, couldn’t afford the place based on their salaries. “One of them must have family money,” she told me one night when she was swimming in a wine glass (which she did fairly frequently).

And I got a really good weird feeling when they asked me to be out the weekend they were having the inspection done to finalize the loan. I had owned my own home so I knew that was a strange request, but I was out of town that weekend anyway so I never pushed back. Looking back, that was the first attempt to defraud. If no one outside the family lived in the basement apartment — and by extension they could claim no money was changing hands — then the apartment could be illegal (meaning in violation of about 800 different housing codes, which it turned out to be) and it wouldn’t matter. At the time I didn’t know that DC tenant and housing codes. I could write a book on them now.

And so, fine. They bought the place, the lease I had signed wasn’t up for another few months, they were louder and were there all the time, but I’m nothing if not very Southern  and so I accommodated and adjusted without complaint because that’s just good manners.

And then, one day, 6 day laborers showed up at my door with no warning and began to tear into my ceilings and walls, running my cat off in the process, and working in my home for almost 2 months, every day (seriously, my stuff was just covered in plastic when I got home from work in the evenings) so that the new owners could upgrade the pipes to put in brand new radiators upstairs. There was no benefit to me. But I sure as hell felt the inconvenience. My cat never came home.

And then, after the lease ended, I was asked to provide them with a copy of my lease so we could sign a new one. Which I did. But a new lease was never drafted, despite my repeated attempts to find out where that stood. I did a little research and discovered that if a new lease is never drafted and signed, the terms of the old lease applied and the tenant merely went month to month. So, I was getting nothing from them, so I made sure I understood the law and carried on. I wasn’t really worried at this point because I generally try to think the best of people (I just heard my friend Bay laugh in his head. He doesn’t believe me, but I do. His optimism is boundless so I suppose mine is only middling by comparison.).

And then came the day I was told that I had to surrender my parking space to them — something that was covered as part of my lease — or they would raise my rent. And I didn’t at that time know the law well enough to know that I was actually rent-controlled — everyone in DC is by default — and that Monster had to go jump through some fairly easy bureaucratic hoops to change that. I just thought he could likely raise my rent a percentage of what I paid, and my car was old and just sitting there, and I was almost exclusively taking public transportation to work, and I could start to finance a nicer car (something that was harder than I thought because work took a turn), and so — I sold it and surrendered my space in lieu of a rent increase.

And Monster immediately started renting it to someone for several hundred dollars a month.

At this point their walking across my ceiling (found out later there was no insulation between their floor and my ceiling so every noise they made was amplified and echoed throughout my apartment. That got really fun when they began to have marital discord.) became almost unbearably loud. He literally put a bouncy house in their dining room, directly over my sofa and living room area.

And so, thick-headed and Southern though I am, I began to wonder if there wasn’t a concerted effort to make me uncomfortable enough to leave. I know…people think I’m brilliant. It makes me laugh sometimes, too.

Right-o, I have to shove off. We’re already going to be there by midnight as it is. More in a day or so…





Believe Me.

Hi! I won’t belabor how long it’s been since I’ve written anything. I’ll just say it’s good to be back. I have spent so many mornings with great ideas to write about — excellent analyses (in my humble opinion), moments of epiphany, ridiculous and hilarious observations (in my increasingly not humble opinion) — and never put them down. I actually think I was quite angry there for a while and I have a strict policy of trying not to share that kind of thing. Gratuitous bitching really doesn’t help the world, and it’s not all that useful to an individual either.

And then Donald Trump happened.

And I realized that perhaps it was time to speak again, to counter what is essentially the living embodiment of putting angst out into the world and watering it and watching it grow. And not in an annoying, whiny way (although The Don certainly does that), but in a way that incites frustration and rage to bubble up to the surface in those who have trouble keeping perspective for whatever their socioeconomic, psychological, cultural reasons. And, if you need some convincing of just how serious I think this is, I just quit one of my jobs over it. I was asked to be a little more forgiving, a little less directly disgusted, in my writing about it. And, well, no. It’s too important and means more to me than whether or not I can hook my star to someone who may make a little flow out of a Trump presidency. DC tests you like that. I continue to pass, at least by my own metric. And I hope the country will join me in that grading system; which is to say, I hope a plurality of voters will  determine that The Don isn’t just woefully politically under informed, emotionally and temperamentally unfit for leadership, borderline retarded when it comes to policy, and morally very nearly repugnant, but that he’s also, at heart, basically a liar who doesn’t give a shit about anything. He’s not a fascist (although he could easily move in that direction if he was given the power to do so which, because he’s running for president, he would probably never be). He’s more a nihilist and an anarchist; except, of course, when it comes to keeping his own interests protected. Then the bureaucratic system works just fine. For him. But not for you, Trump supporter.

You should still be angry.

One of my issues with libertarians (and I lean heavily in their direction on a significant number of issues) is their tendency to revert back to a status quo position of “watching the world burn”. They enjoy a Trump because it gives them the joy of self-righteously promoting this kind of thing, wherein the idea that Trump is a fascist is explored and found wanting in favor of the idea that, hey, American politics are always violent so, meh. Everyone relax.

I hate that kind of complaisance. Some stuff is important. On a personal level, it was important enough to quit a job over. On a macro level, it’s the potential demise of this grand idea of a Democratic Republic we’ve been floating for a couple hundred years. And, pardon me for the embarrassing passion, but I’m not quite ready to just let it go without a fight.

Anyway, a friend and talented writer addressed this back before the turn of the new year, and it’s worth your time. It basically outlines how Trump is the thought leader for these guys:



It’s the Big Lebowski. Just look it up.

I’m almost certain that we will look back on this moment in our political history and see a YUGE fork in the road. The lens future generations will use to view that fork — whether it looks positive or brow-wipingly serious — will be determined by just how far we let this man infiltrate — and that’s what it is — our precious political process.

And, while I am, in fact, a supporter of Marco Rubio — something I’m sure I’ll cover in a future post, I’d be with him on this issue even if I planned on voting for Cruz (who, if he can win it, I’ll breathe a sigh of relief as big as his home state). Because you can lay the blame at the feet of the protestors who disrupted the rally for the violence in Chicago. And that would be appropriate. And you can lay blame at the feet of the Trump supporters who have trouble keeping a cork on their whisky bottle of rage. Also appropriate. But some of that blame is undeniably on the careless man himself, who, by the way, knows exactly what he is. He is the snake we took home and cared for, all the while, knowing he was a poisonous viper. 

And that, my friends, is on us.

And I have no intention of looking back and regretting that I didn’t stand up and at least scream “danger!” into the wind. As Steve Hayes wrote in one of the best things I’ve seen about the weirdness that is the Donald Trump run for the Presidency:

“The main reason I won’t support Trump is simpler and more personal: I couldn’t explain such a vote to my children.”

Which road you choose matters.

Yeah, Be Your Own Bad Guy

My pops says I need to let things go. Why? I'm already a gender traitor on so many things. I'm keeping the grudge holding.

My pops says I need to let things go. Why? I’m already a gender traitor on so many things. I’m keeping the grudge holding.

Things are going a bit pear-shaped in my life at the moment so thought I’d take a minute and hash it out to get clear (but not in a Scientology kind of way). The following thoughts are going to disjointed (likely) and whiny (very likely), but hopefully I can purge that here and carry on. Because I’m going to need a clear head going forward. There’s not an area of my life that feels safe and secure at present. Does that happen to everyone? I’m fairly tired of feeling that way but the worst is feeling alone in it. But I’ve done it to myself in many ways because I’ve decided to try something new. Let me explain…

I’ve been punching a clock more or less since I was 15 years old. I’ve taken only one significant hiatus from having a regular full time job since that time, when my father advised me that working during my Freshman year of college was probably not the best way to get settled into a new situation, make friends, learn the ropes, and achieve academically. Beyond that, I’ve always worked, usually more than one job at a time, always for others as an “employee”. And so now, I’m attempting something different. I’m going to work for myself if I can swing it. I’m going to try to develop something, create something that might grow, be my own boss, decide who I want to work with, and hopefully avoid some of the strange office political games that I keep running up on that just break my spirit. As a related aside, I looked recently at the website (one that looks the way it does because I led the redesign project so, hey, my work abides) and noticed that they now have 1 – that’s one — woman working for them. And she’s the secretary (although she does so much more than that, that’s where she sits in the office). And somehow, that made me feel better about how things ended there. The man who came in about halfway through my time there definitely had some issues with women — there were five of us there when I started, 4 when he came in — and so it’s unsurprising that he has seen them all leave and has staffed the organization with men alone, save the lady that keeps it running (a friend of mine still, and a total rockstar who doesn’t get the credit she deserves). And somehow I feel validated in how that situation went down. He really is something of a chauvinist who expressed his disdain for me in his first email, and the first time I met him — literally 2 days after he started — he was talking about keeping my laptop after I left. I hung in there another year. Not sure why except I have this thing about quitting and being bullied. It’s a total Officer and a Gentleman thing:

Probably terrible to be so determined really, because it prevents you from walking away and just being happy doing something else. I tend to be aggressively tenacious if I’ve decided I want something, or if I’ve decided that I won’t be bullied out of it. And so I stay, or care, longer than I should maybe. Although I like to believe it’s worth it sometimes, mainly if it’s about hanging in there with people I see something special in (that’s not to say it’s not incredibly frustrating to do that. I have loved ones that I haven’t spoken to in years because of one thing or another, but have eventually renewed ties with. But it hurts quite a bit sometimes. And, honestly, it why I cut out pretty quickly sometimes if someone’s doing something truly destructive. I WANT to like you. So I can’t let you treat me horribly because then I’ll have to hate you. Don’t you get that? Sigh.) Anyway, as I embark on this new thing — that I’m hoping to supplement with other things here and there as I figure out how to make this work — it has become apparent to me that I have to articulate something specifically because it doesn’t seem to be clear:

For anyone that wants to work with me, please understand that my contact list of hundreds of names is how I make my living. It’s one I’ve built over the 6 years I’ve been here in DC. It is a tool — perhaps THE tool — of my trade. Asking me to provide it to you in an Excel spreadsheet is not only unprofessional and unethical, it’s trashy and shifty and I’m really disappointed in you. Additionally, my saying “no” in response does not constitute having a bad attitude, and my not providing it to you is not a violation of my contract, and is really not cause to terminate a contract, not a viable cause anyway.

I understand the effort. Sometimes I’m nice and gullible, and why not try? Clearly you need to know how to do the work, and you need the list to do it, or you wouldn’t have contracted with me. But you should understand that this does not reflect well on you. And before you protest, let me again give you the great Working Girl:

Tess McGill: [to Katharine] Look, you, maybe you’ve got everyone around here fooled with this saint act you have going, but do not ever speak to me again like we don’t know what really happened! You got me?
Katherine Parker: Tess, this is business. Let’s just bury the hatchet, okay?
Tess McGill: You know where you can bury your hatchet? Now get your bony ass outta my sight!

I’m dismayed by these things, but what you actually hired me to do — raise your profile and legitimize you a bit with a more mainstream media — I succeeded at accomplishing. The results speak for themselves, so I’m comfortable. Anyway, no hard feelings. I consider it all a great learning experience.

Okay, I may add to this post when I get home later because there’s a lot more I want to say about a great many things — a lot about how Trump called Fiorina ugly and every woman knows how that feels and she just handled it with so much grace. I got compared and found wanting not long ago to the “most beautiful woman in the world” (read: you’re not pretty enough and the fact that this girl doesn’t even like me that much and isn’t really that nice a person kinda sorta doesn’t matter), and that’s just a shit feeling.

So Carly, way to dismiss that man. On a national stage. I believe he set that karmic path and you were kind enough to deliver. It was a beautiful thing to see.

Alrighty, more later. I have to go to a play…

A Need to Be Special


I had a beautiful, long, laying it bare, slicing the vein and bleeding it out few paragraphs written here explaining some things. I’m sensitive like that and I’m done apologizing for it. I mean, I get it DC. You’re a cynical city. Meh. I’ll stick to having a soul. Laugh if you want. Anyway, then I remembered: I have a rule against providing attention to the shallow and cruel. Those people find enough ways to inflate themselves and their “accomplishments”, and they manage to find enough people to dupe into believing the myths they promote, so I’m certainly not going to inadvertently contribute to the adulation by giving any kind of attention at all. But I do want to clear one thing up.

I met a man some time ago. He was interesting and handsome and smart and I liked him. That guy might still exist but I haven’t seen him in a while. After he almost immediately chatted up a friend of mine, I told him he should go for that, if that’s what he wanted, and I would make adjustments. I wasn’t even being snarky, just acknowledging that people like what they like, and I thought enough of him to still know him as a friend. Apparently that was unforgivable because I’ve been smacked fairly repeatedly with information about how I don’t measure up and was even a mistake compared to the woman he now sees. That’s not an easy thing to swallow when that woman is the type who will publicly destroy you should you fail to worship her. I may not have much, but I’m not that kind of girl and I don’t appreciate being told I’m less than someone who would do that to someone they ostensibly love. I mean really, f*ck you. I hate you’re (apparently I’m speaking directly to the guy now. Go figure) not the kind of person secure enough to apologize for being an ass. You might find that you wouldn’t have to settle for the merely outwardly stunning (most of which is manufactured) and could have the full monty, a good person who actually cares about you AND is a badass in life and work. There are good people who are rather accomplished and wouldn’t tell everyone they’re only sticking around for the free stuff they get for knowing you.

Anyway, I’m bored of this silliness. It’s depressing and it makes me sad for you and I don’t know you well enough to be sad for you. But I did want to get it on record somewhere that you came to me, buddy. And I didn’t pursue you, I just wanted to make things right so there was no bad blood and we could be friends. But you couldn’t just take that for what it was, right? Had to create a myth and make a girl cry, one who really just liked you and felt bad that she didn’t have the patience to put up with your bullshit. I actually did feel bad about it. And look what that got me. Anyway, you found someone who will put up with it, and that’s great. Just don’t run out of limelight or free tickets and you should be fine.

On a somewhat related note, my brother Daniel said to me once that a defining characteristic of my personality is that I don’t like to be bothered with stress or annoyances. I remember feeling bad about that at the time, like somehow that made me a bad person who couldn’t deal with the daily realities of other people. But now…I mean, yeah, that’s right. I’m sure that makes me selfish. I know it does. But I have very little patience for drama and upset to alleviate some existential boredom. I get that life and especially love means dysfunction and negotiation. I understand that very well. Shall I recount my childhood? But so much of what I see crosses the “sometimes things just happen” line into “I need for something to happen because I might scratch my skin off if it doesn’t” or “I’m feeling inadequate today so I need some other to feel rotten so I can feel pretty or powerful” or what-the-hell-ever. Some people need blood in the water. Like sharks. I’m okay not being a shark and just wanting to float. But make no mistake: I have teeth. I just use them for self-defense, not for sustenance.

I’ve wanted to write about the notion of forgiveness as it relates to the shootings in Charleston and the dystopian wasteland that is Baltimore. And I mean that last part. I walked from the Inner Harbor up to Mount Vernon at 10 pm on a weeknight recently and was legitimately worried. My friend assured me we were fine but I’m not even sure he believed it. But hey, we lived. And had a really good drink at a pretty cool bar before I hopped the train back to DC. But the landscape stuck with me. Stark, empty, depressed, and yet roiling just underneath all that with a barely contained chaos. You can feel it in the air. And I went back to a conversation I had with an Uber driver of mine recently who was born and raised in Baltimore. He expressed shock at how Charleston handled the church shootings. How the community forgave and came together to maintain the peace. “It’s the way it is down there. People see themselves as part of something larger, and they recognize their roles in making that larger community work. So they do what they can to preserve it,” I told him. “It’s not that way in Baltimore. It’s not the culture there. It’s every man for himself,” he said.

No kidding. And isn’t it fascinating that they live under a system that is the result of the American version of progressive socialism, where the social justice warriors are always extolling the virtues of working for the common good? I’m sure there’s a larger piece to write there. Perhaps I should write it. I need to write something…I’ve just been so busy…

Anyway, people were shocked and critical of those who would forgive that horrible and misguided child that chose to shoot up a church. But here’s the secret of forgiveness: it’s not altruistic. Not at its heart. It’s ultimately about the self. Forgiving means you let go of the baggage of hate that would sit in your belly and turn you necrotic from the inside out. You choose to be free when you forgive. So don’t get it twisted. It has less to do with the forgiven and most to do with the forgiver. Do with that what you will.

Okay, release complete. I could go into what I think of the Iran deal but suffice to say John Kerry scares the ever living shit out of me and I think we are reacting more than negotiating. Unless I’m wrong, Iran has the bomb. All the talk about keeping them from getting it is a lie. The entire deal is a weak peace treaty so they don’t use it. I’m convinced of that, but would love to be convinced otherwise.

Finally, I’m sorry if anything you read here was harsh or hurt your feelings. But mine get hurt all the time and sometimes you just need to throw up the wall and speak the truth and let the chips fall. I’m sure you understand.

Saw this recently. Adorable. I'd like to not still relate to this kind of thing anymore.

Saw this recently. Adorable. I’d like to not still relate to this kind of thing anymore.

I’m going to be cursing. Fair warning and I’m sorry.

The Braves, okay. Their bullpen makes me deeply sad… Pops thinks that Gonzalez is figuring out who fits where and we’ll see a different team after the All Star break and we’re only 3 games out of first, etc. and et al. But they don’t, improbably, look terrible. They actually look…kinda…good. What? I know, right? I’m not sure what to do with it either…Let’s just hang on to that for a while and be chipper and hopeful about it, shall we?

There’s something else, before I get into the politics of things, I want to talk about and hang on to if I can. It starts with that scene from the movie Dogma. When Bartelby, the exiled angel, cruelly tells Bethany that her ex husband — who left her because she couldn’t have children — lives in wedded bliss and genuine joy with his new wife and their kids, and Kevin Smith’s character lunges at him out of protective anger for Bethany’s sake and has to be held back, presumably because he’d be quickly neutralized by an angel? I like that scene. Because it illustrates two things: 1. using the childlessness of a woman who hasn’t been blessed with that miracle to hurt her is evil. You hear that?


Twice recently I’ve had women do that to me, in different ways, but both times intended to make me feel inferior and shitty about myself. And their men were kind of — wait. Strike that. Absolutely were. — complicit in it. Which brings me to 2. there are still some men who know how evil that is and will instinctively fight someone for it. Even if they are likely to get their booties kicked. And I need to hold on to that. That there still are good men — good people — out there. I forget that a lot. I’ve seen things, man. Grasping and clawing and ruthlessly lying things. And I can get low about it. And this is partly, I think, why I like music and film and literature so much. That’s where people preserve some of the beauty of humanity. The brutality as well, to be sure. But the stuff that transcends all that, the stuff that we “stay alive for” to borrow a phrase, lives in the arts, both physical and mental. There’s a movie — I actually think it’s National Treasure, oddly — where the female love interest tells the idealist male love interest that no one talks the way he does anymore. “But they think that way,” he replies. And I think that’s true. So I look for it. My hope is that that will matter to someone — to a good man, specifically — sometime soon. And that I’ll have friends that will let me have it. That won’t get in the way, that won’t let their own egos and insecurities ruin it for me. I have great hope that these things will happen.

Speaking of…I don’t easily put myself out there. It’s a little scary for me, and it’s hard for me to process when I do and get treated like it doesn’t matter that I let myself be vulnerable. I’m so careful so much of the time. So, I don’t feel bad for you that things aren’t panning out for you right now, and likely won’t no matter how much you pretend otherwise. You have a little bit of karmic stuff you have to address. You’ll figure it out. Pulling for ya buddy.

On a related note, it comforts me somehow that the guys I know who are seemingly incapable of not messing around on the women they date are the strongest adherents to this idea that a woman must play their waiting game regarding how quickly they, ahem, put out. It’s so funny to me. These women ultimately get treated just as badly as the ones put in the — pardon the expression — smashbox. And maybe worse, because they’ve invested time and emotion into the man who, ultimately, just sees them like he sees every other woman. That’s why I’m fairly — ahem again– efficient as those things go. I want to know who I’m dealing with as quickly as possible if I’ve an interest. Because a man will treat you how he’s going to treat you and I just like to know early what kind of man I’ve got on my hands. But again, I’m probably overly cautious with my interests. See above.

Speaking of raging douches, there was this chick that used to be among one circle of my friends and, after said chick left town, I was informed that she liked to talk a lot of trash about yours truly. Thinking back, there was always this weird tension with this particular group of friends, and I could never quite put my finger on where it came from. Turns out that pump was primed quite a bit in my absence. Lots of eyerolling and “she can’t sit at our lunch table” kind of stuff. Jesus. WHY CAN’T I LEAVE HIGH SCHOOL? I only mention it because I recently became aware of the fact that there are some who still hang onto whatever myth that girl promoted. Let it go, man. I get that, for a time, I was the object of ridicule. But that silly girl has been gone a while now. Try relating to me in a different way. I promise you’ll be glad you did.

Okay, enough of all that. My personal stuff is really boring, right? I just want to get married and have babies. Seriously. Always have. You got the wrong idea, didn’t you? Most people do.

Happy birthday to the Magna Carta. Brilliance should always be commemorated.

Um…this wasn’t hard to figure but I have been pulling my ballet posture out a lot more lately after reading it.

No way this is a myth. Because trust me: women are way meaner to women than any man ever is. And I mean I’ve had men do horrible things at work. But really, come to think of it, they were kind of girly men.

Speaking of, it was tremendously satisfying that another victim of one of those awful men at work went on to do great, really great, work. While that awful man? Meh. He languishes in mediocrity. Sorry, but it’s absolutely true and I defy anyone to challenge that.

You want to know what The Twerp was like? Here. This is pretty close.

Ahhhhhhh….The madness of MacBeth and the murderous ambition of the Lady. Out, out damn spot. This one should be a good one.

I hope it never makes me paranoid, but I get why Nixon felt this way. Again with the catty and petty high school. You pretty much just have to laugh at it and not take it all so seriously, something I think Nixon wasn’t great at.

All the talk of leadership lately made this a pretty good read.


Want to know what’s wrong with Baltimore? Compare this story to this one.

At some point, I feel certain, I’ll write about this. I’m not sure it’s done. Wait…I know it’s not.

And now for some awesome. Great song, great band, great cover, great guest appearance. All around good.


Chick-diary post follows. Fair warning…

I offended my Pops tonight. I didn’t intend to, I just — well, I guess I just spoke the truth as I see it without tempering it, something I don’t very often with Pops. I speak the truth with him, but I choose my language carefully. He demands it. Diplomacy is a skill he admires and I can’t tell you how many times growing up I was told that I needed to learn some tact. He is definitely displeased with any deviation from civilized discussion of difficult topics. Seriously, It’s a challenge. Aaaanyway…

We were talking about my frustration with some women-folk I’m having to deal with and how their behavior is downright baffling to me because I don’t see the benefit of their machinations to anyone — including the individual trying to rule the world, as it were. (As an aside, I definitely don’t see how you can date these ladies, guys. The manipulation is…wow…I mean, I feel both dirty and depressed after negotiating it. And after the attempt at rational discussion and the ensuing crazy that occurs, I want to punch something or go for a mile swim. Is that what you go through regularly? Because damn…)

So, at some point in the discussion I asked Pops if he thought a man who has some interest in this lady’s behavior could see what I see.

“How could he not?,” said Pops

“Well I mean you guys are such dumbasses about women from what I’ve seen pretty much my whole life that I can never tell what you know or what you don’t…”



“Thanks for the compliment, kid.”

Damn. I’m a bad daughter. (But I do kind of feel that way. A lot. And I hate that it came out of my mouth. I mean, I get it guys…sometimes it pays to look the other way. But as one of the girls who was the little sister, or the girlfriend, or the friend, let me just say KNOCK IT OFF. If she’s a raging, mean-spirited harpy it’s just a matter of time before she turns it on you. Jeeza pete. How do you not know this?)

One other thing: character counts in sports, too. Bryce Harper, you are a cute kid, and you can swing a bat, and your streak is hot. But, like Nuke LaLoosh, you’re letting mold grow on your shower shoes a little early, my friend.

A’ight. Listen to this cool song. I’ve got choreography in my head.


3 am Thoughts


It’s just after 3 am and I was jolted awake by a thought. Well, jolted awake because I’m battling a cold and the meds have worn off. So, while I wait for them to kick back in, here’s what went through my head as I awoke nursing a very raw throat:

All this past evening I watched as an attitude of “mine!” pervaded social media, punctuated by a nasty tendency to speak in hyperbole, show little remorse or loyalty, think only of oneself, pass questionable judgment on immediate surroundings (because your ability to judge anything is questionable), use the occasion of society collapsing as a way to play victim, demand protection, and stomp around crying “justice” with a false sense of caring about anything or anyone besides the immediate needs of the individual (fine, but don’t lie about it), and generally just exploit the chaos to get attention. All eyes on me, and all that. And good people got in the way, tried to help, and will suffer for it.

Also, some kids burned down Baltimore.

And it occurred to me: that is the difference between the classes. Opportunity doesn’t make you a better person. Just gives you a more refined way of being a bullying thug who uses people to elevate one’s sense of importance and throw tantrums a little less dramatically (but only a little. Because, God, the hyperbole is painful. “Overwhelmingly blessed!” Gimme a break. Does anyone buy that nonsense? How many times can someone use the word “wonderful” or “perfect” without it losing some (read: all) of its meaning?). What an inspiration to young people. On a related note, sheep are dumb.

In short — I don’t see a ton of difference in the goals and aspirations of the kids running around the streets and the bourgeoisie (that’s an historical term, darlin’) filming them from the ivory tower. Different methods, same cavalier and — ahem — disgusting behavior.

There’s your class war. Everyone needs to watch Trading Places again.