Things I’m Verbing: Real rhinos, thick skins and great expectations

Happy Saturday! It’s the weekend! Sure is nice to kick back and do some reading, right?

Totally, totally. So, it’s all good stuff, I’m sure: great journalism, considered research, thorough analysis of the state of the world, a new way of looking at things, cause for… op… cause for…

…well, okay, I guess that was too much to ask. (And yes, you should click all those links, they’re pretty staggering.) It might get worse before it gets better, but there are at least some signs that it could get better.

  • I’m still thinking about Charles Pierce’s Esquire indictment of the potential Trump voter. “This Isn’t Funny Anymore. American Democracy Is at Stake” is the much angrier version of the Washington Post editorial board’s remarkable full-page op-ed “Donald Trump is a unique threat to American democracy.”
    • Two interesting — not counterpoints, but thoughts on anger as political discourse. Laurie Penny’s “I’m With the Banned” is about noxious alt-right troll Milo Yiannopoulos, who like all trolls sees rage as victory. I also can’t stop thinking about Invisibilia’s recent episode on complementary behavior — specifically, on how treating alienated young men with kindness rather than authoritarian condemnation kept them from joining ISIS. I don’t know what can be done about the current of selfish, racist, nationalist, nativist, xenophobic anger that Trump is riding, but I want to believe this can inform some kind of response.
  • All that said, we did get one actual bright spot this week: Jon Stewart came home, and oh boy, he’s still got it.
  • It’s easy to rend our hair about the Republican candidate — goodness knows he gives us plenty of cause. But I’m trying to remind myself that our alternatives are actually quite good. Cases in point:
    • I finally read Ezra Klein’s long piece “Understanding Hillary,” about the gap in her approval ratings between when she’s running for office and when she’s actually doing a job. I’ve long been a Hillary skeptic, if for no other reason than dynastic politics are no better when it’s spouses rather than sons, but I found this really illuminating and encouraging, even as it’s honest about her very real faults.
    • The knee-jerk liberal narrative about Tim Kaine, her vice-presidential pick, is that he’s a boring white guy on a ticket that could have been transformative. But I’m hearing different from a number of Virginians, including Krystal Ball, whose “The Progressive Case for Tim Kaine” includes this line, for those of us who balked at his record on reproductive freedom: “Kaine doesn’t want to control my body and I don’t want to control his mind, so we’re all good there.”
  • More to the point, the New York Times Magazine cover story this week is a fascinating and, dare I say it, hopeful look at the economic progressives whose message is becoming more and more central to the Democratic national ticket. “Could Hillary
    Clinton Become the Champion of the 99 Percent?” Felicia Joy Wong, the president and CEO of the Roosevelt Institute, thinks so.
  • We deserve something nice after all this week’s sturm und drang. Have this baby rhino. Oh, and also:

Things I’m Verbing: Ecto-Cooler cocktails, the immune system of democracies and grace by George Foreman grill

I mean… that about sums it up, right?

  • Wow, though, Mike Pence. When you look at the issues, it doesn’t really get better. And in fact, if you listen to the alternative press in Indiana, he’s been pretty bad there in practice, above and beyond theory.
  • These paired essays are two horrible flavors that go together well. For the Atlantic, Jonathan Rauch investigates the parallels between contagion and the collapse of the American political system. “What is it,” he asks, “that not long ago allowed our government to metabolize the aggression that is inherent in any pluralistic society and still get things done?” Meanwhile, the New Yorker’s Adam Gopnik asks us to get really honest about what the rise of Donald Trump among Americans means. See also, from May: “The Day the Republican Party Died.”
  • Also see also: The Los Angeles Times outlining the fundamental ridiculousness of the laws that will govern next week’s Republican National Convention, and why law enforcement in Cleveland is nervous as hell.
  • Something good is happening today, though: the all-female Ghostbusters gets its wide release. Not only does this mean service pieces about cocktails you can make with the recently re-released Hi-C Ecto-Cooler, but you get to see the good parts of fandom on display, to counteract all the ugliness of grown men whining about how their childhoods have somehow been ruined by social justice warriors. (Yeah, about that.) To whit: how the film honors one super-fan who touched a whole community.
  • Other ways in which there’s good in the world, from a wholly unexpected source: The Kitchen Sisters’ podcast Fugitive Waves has been producing incredible stories lately about our relationships with culture and food. Even they were surprised, however, by what they learned about the George Foreman grill — including from Foreman himself. It’s not just the top-selling electrical appliance of all time, but it’s a vector of dignity. You can listen to the episode on that link, but I highly recommend subscribing to this show anyway.

Things I’m Verbing: Catastrophes in journalism, how to adapt comic books and democracy in its purest form

It’s distressingly close to convention season, and even though Donald Trump clinched the delegates for the Republican nomination this week, I can’t imagine something won’t be worth covering in Cleveland this July. Fuse and Voto Latino are close to the end of a contest to send a young reporter to each party’s convention, and my friend Theresa Avila needs your help to get there.

You can vote for her once a day until June 1, and I strongly encourage you to do so, early and often, in the finest Chicago tradition. (Only this time, it’s totally above-board.) No matter what, if she’s a top-five finalist, Rachel Maddow will judge her entry, and holy cats, isn’t that an honor all on its own?