Staunchly, vol. 57: Book Club is My Avengers


Ok I know I tend towards hyperbole, but I saw Book Club last night and I think it was the best movie I’ve ever seen. Run, don’t walk, to your local cineplex and help this beautiful story of life and love and lust after 65 beat Deadpool at the box office. If you don’t, the patriarchy wins. Is that what you want?  

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Sometimes Democrats make it so damn hard to be a Democrat.

It always seems like the bar for congressional courage is so low, yet Democrats still can’t seem to pass it. The honor of this week’s most yellow-bellied legislator goes to Mark Warner, vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, who voted to confirm Gina Haspel as head of the CIA after she offered a halfhearted repudiation of the agency’s torture program. Warner’s vote came despite the private urging of the doctor who evaluated Abdal Rahim al-Nashiri, a prisoner at a CIA black site in Thailand whose “enhanced interrogation” Haspel oversaw in 2002.

Dr. Sondra Crosby said of al-Nashiri:

He is irreversibly damaged by torture that was unusually cruel and designed to break him. In my over 20 years of experience treating torture victims from around the world, including Syria, Iraq, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mr. al-Nashiri presents as one of the most severely traumatized individuals I have ever seen.

Worse torture than Syria? And they say American excellence is dead. 

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Here’s what we know about today’s edition of A Daily Massacre in America.
If there’s one bright side to the administration’s myopic and clumsily immoral politics in Israel—there isn’t—but if there were—there isn’t—but if there were…it’d be New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg willing this impeccable description of Ivanka Trump into the universe: Zionist Marie Antoinette.
Trump called some undocumented immigrants “animals” this week...

You wouldn’t believe how bad these people are. These aren’t people, these are animals, and we’re taking them out of the country at a level and at a rate that’s never happened before.

So, I know all of his racism and xenophobia is starting to sound the same, blended into a (very poorly seasoned, probably) soup of bigotry, but we can’t let ourselves grow numb to the hate. Certainly, Trump will say something equally horrifying in a few days—and maybe I’m extra paranoid because I’m currently binging a show about the rise of nationalism in 1920s Berlin—but I think it’s worth keeping a little post-it at the front of our brains that says something like “Nazis said Jews were rats” as we go about our lives, because all of this is very scary and none of this is normal.
In Nazi-less news, seven Democratic women won their congressional primaries in Pennsylvania this week !!! And could Paulette Jordan become the United States’ first Native American governor? Maybe! She’s running in Idaho, so it’s a long-shot, but she just won her primary and is by all accounts a force to be reckoned with, so who knows!
The Trump administration is planning on reinstituting a domestic gag rule that would strip federal funding from any clinic that performs abortions or refers patients out to another facility that does. It’s tough to overstate what a devastating attack that would be on the rights of women across the country.
More news on the global fight for choice: in Argentina, where illegal and unsafe abortions are the leading cause of maternal mortality (on a continent where femicide rates are consistently highest in the world and reproductive rights are essentially nonexistent), and Ireland, where in one week voters will decide whether to overturn a 1983 referendum that established a constitutional right to life for embryos and fetuses—more precisely: as equal a right to life as the mother. 
Re: the referendum vote, Irish writer Sally Rooney said this in the London Review of Books:

Do women who are not victims of abuse, or in mortal danger, have the right to end a pregnancy just because they feel like it?

Yes. Pregnancy, entered into willingly, is an act of generosity, a commitment to share the resources of life with another incipient being. Such generosity is in no other circumstances required by law.

On the topic of reproductive care, a gynecologist at USC was allowed to continue treating patients despite three decades of abuse and harassment allegations. The university also allowed him to “resign quietly with a financial payout” last summer once an internal investigation concluded that his behavior with students had been inappropriate. I’m very excited for the day when institutions start protecting the safety and health of women and not the reputations of creepy doctors who stick their hands where they shouldn’t or say creepy-ass sh*t like asking whether they can keep the IUD they just took out of you as a souvenir. WTF.
I lost any respect for Michael Avenatti when I saw photos of him palling around with Anthony Scaramucci at a White House Correspondents’ Dinner party. Same reason pictures of Sean Spicer clubbing it up with celebrities at the Emmys made me want to splash acid on my eyeballs. This is not ok! These men are horrible! They pawned their souls for a chance to shill for a racist, sexist, xenophobic, transphobic troll. They should never be allowed to smile again, let alone reenter polite society like nothing happened. So, no, I don’t want an Avenatti / Scaramucci TV show. I also don’t want: typhoid, bed bugs, scrubs. Add it to the list.
I never thought I’d say this, but Rex Tillerson is the only former Trump official doing it right, per this delicious Onionheadline: Mohawked Rex Tillerson Warns U.S. Democracy Threatened By Plutocratic Fascist Pigs F*cking Over The Working Man. Tell ’em, Rex! 
I’m vibing with “Fall in Line,” Christina Aguilera’s new single with Demi Lovato. It’s low-hanging fempowerment fruit, and the video has the staccato Clarendon-filter feel of the opening titles to an edgy soap about horny British teenagers, but I’m still going to blast it while loading the dishwasher.
Here’s a very important article about wildness that poses the most important question of our time. Which was wilder: 2018’s Wild Wild Country starring Ma Anand Sheela or 1999’s Wild Wild West starring Will Smith?
(and what a great reminder to buy my glorious collaboration with An Absolute Nobody: the Sheela mug)


I’m not super invested in the royal wedding if I’m being honest, but I’m very invested in cake. I love this piece on what Meghan and Harry’s choice of wedding cake (lemon-elderflower! austere in marzipan! edible!) says about trends in British baking and the state of modern royalty. A cake is never just a cake.
Finally, the new SZA video is vaseline-lens glowy and simply gorgeous and the perfect antidote to some of the bullsh*t I mentioned above.

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A new episode of Joint Didion is up! We discuss Jay McInerney’s brat pack classic Story of My Life, the two-party system, horse girls, and Rielle Hunter. Listen to the end to hear Lauren say something absolutely devastating to me that has changed our friendship forever. And please rate, review, and subscribe!   

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I think this Vogue profile of Kara Brown—of JezebelGrown-ishKeep It, and Fancy Pasta Bitch fame—has finally convinced me to invest in a pasta machine. I haven’t been cooking a lot recently, but the thought of cacio e pepe, slow-cooked Bolognese, fat strings of homemade tagliatelle sopped in browned butter and crispy sage…mmm...has me eager to jump back in. 
I’m going to start with one of my favorite recipes of all time, which Brown mentions in the Vogue piece: Marcella Hazan’s tomato sauce with onion and butter.

This sauceeeeeeeeeeeeeee. I’m sure I’ve talked about it before (we’re on issue 57! You think I remember everything I’ve ever told you??). It’s just butter, whole, peeled tomatoes, and one onion halved. Use the best version you can find of each (San Marzano; fancy euro butter) and it’s magic—the perfect blend of acid and fat, sweet and salty. Also it’s easy enough for all newbs, but takes just long enough to come together on the stove that you feel like you’re really doing something exciting.  In other words: perfect.  
(Pro-tip: save the onion at the end and smush it onto toast. You’ll thank me later.)


Staunchly yours,