Wonkette Parenting Corner!
You know how it is with Florida GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz's "son" Nestor. You're going about your life, mostly forgetting about Nestor, and most times when you think of Matt Gaetz, you're just wondering what kind of Photoshop accident happened in God's design lab that made his head so much bigger than his body.
It's like hey there, God, stop texting and creating humans at the same time!
But then Gaetz goes on Fox News saying things like MY SON NESTOR WHOM I PROCURED THROUGH COMMONLY ACCEPTED METHODS OF HAVING CHILDREN and it all rushes back. Nestor! We remember Nestor! He is Matt Gaetz's Cuban-born "son," the existence of whom Gaetz kept secret until he was looking to score some politically convenient points against then-Democratic Rep. (now White House senior advisor!) Cedric Richmond, who had mildly suggested that maybe white conservative assholes might not exactly know what it is like to be the parent of a Black child.
Here's that clip from last night, where Gaetz was also bringing Nestor up for political convenience, regarding coronavirus lockdowns in Florida:
"My son is a college freshman. He had no real graduation, no prom, and I struggled with whether or not to allow him… https://t.co/U43VBi1PL0— Aaron Rupar (@Aaron Rupar)1616464227.0
See, we just still have so many questions. We can start with the clip above.
Even if Nestor is Matt Gaetz's actual human son, Nestor is a college freshman, as Gaetz explains. He doesn't really need his regular human father's "permission" to go to Panama City Beach for spring break, unless what Gaetz means is that he was footing the bill and Nestor wouldn't get to go if Daddy Congressbucks didn't slip him the Amex.
We know these are conservatives, and they have bizarre family control issues, where sometimes people aren't "allowed" to do things by their parents well into their 30s, but come on. Dude is almost 20 years old, and he is at college in Alabama — which is another question, why is the "son" of a Florida congressman going to a commuter school in Alabama? He doesn't even go to actual Alabama or Auburn or anything like that — so we are pretty sure if he was going to spring break, he was going to spring break, whether or not Daddy Congressbucks was into it.
Also according to Nestor's Facebook, he graduated high school in 2019. Which was pre-COVID. So if Nestor had no real graduation or prom, it wasn't because of the pandemic. Maybe his typical American father struggled with whether to allow him to go to those too. Or maybe somebody is lying???
And all of that is without even traversing the winding road Nestor took to Matt Gaetz claiming him as his son, about which people still have so many questions. (There was never any adoption that we know of.) According to Gaetz, Nestor is his ex-girlfriend's younger brother, and his ex-girlfriend is now deceased. Nestor has a biological father who lives in Miami.
But yet Matt Gaetz is the one who "allows" Nestor to go to spring break? OK.
Oh well, those are all the questions we have right now, NO GAY-BAITING IN THE COMMENTS SECTION, THERE IS ENOUGH TRAGEDY IN THE WORLD RIGHT NOW WITHOUT Y'ALL'S SO-CALLED "JOKES."
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Do we really need every dumb species anyway?
The predictable rightwing meltdown over poor Dr. Seuss being cancelled forever (via Dr. Seuss Enterprises' business decision to no longer print six minor titles that are virtually never among the ones that spring to mind when Ted Geisel's pen name is mentioned) called to mind for me a simpler time, when we didn't ban books (Seuss wasn't banned!) that offended us, but instead engaged them in dialogue, which I'm sure will be news to all the kids in the '70s and '80s who couldn't find Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret in the school library.
OK, now diagram that sentence while I get to my point.
Which is that after two decades of Seuss's 1971 environmental fable The Lorax making innocent children hate logging, an ordinary mom named named Terri Birkett had had enough of all that environmentalist brainwashing. So she took advantage of her everyday knowledge as a mom (and as a manager for a hardwood flooring manufacturer) and wrote her own children's book as a reply to Seuss's little blobby creature, who like all eco-terrorists claimed to speak for the trees. Her little 1995 OH YEAH? to Seuss, titled Truax (GET IT? And not The Truax, which sounds far more natural), has become something of a classic in the copious, disturbing annals of "what the fuck were they thinking?" children's books. Why yes, it is still available online through the good graces of the National Wood Flooring Association. Go take a look! It's nuts!
Where The Lorax presents a narrative of commercial exploitation to get its environmental message across, Truax doesn't bother with a plot at all, so it can get straight to the polemics. The narrator is a sensible whitebread logger named Truax whose magical abilities are limited to spouting just-so refutations of environmentalism, and sawing perfect planks with a chainsaw.
His peaceful tree harvesting is interrupted by a freaky flying equivalent to the Lorax who calls himself the Guardbark, who swoops in and starts haranguing him. And like all liberals everywhere, all Guardbark wants to do is scream talking points instead of listening to reason, or at least to the pro-industry talking points Truax offers. Instead of taking an offered seat on the neat stack of planks, Guardbark throws a tantrum, as environmentalists inevitably do.
"I WON'T take a seat, or LISTEN, or LOOK,"
The Guardbark raved on. He snarled as he shook.
"I'm Guardbark, I tell you, keeper of trees.
Our future, you know, is dependent on these.
You must stop this hacking and whacking and stacking.
You should NOT be here. I MUST send you packing."
He even knocks the neatly stacked wood products all over the place, in the manner of enviro-terrorists like Earth First!
That's literally the last actual action in Truax; the rest is all dialogue, in a very simple structure: Guardbark spouts an easily refuted claim, then Truax calmly refutes it, over and over, like a first-year college essay but with way more than five paragraphs. While the two characters talk a lot, it's perhaps a mistake to call it dialogue, since Guardbark is clearly so wrong (and angry! So angry and unreasonable!). He may appear to be made of wood, but a more honest name might have been StrawMan.
Truax carefully explains that forestry is sustainable, since he plants five tree seeds for each tree he harvests (the word "cutting" appears only once in the 20-page booklet, possibly by mistake, and certainly not "clearcut"). And modern forest management largely eliminated wildfires, so rejoice and be glad! And no, this booklet doesn't want any of your '70s hippie environmental science about fire playing an important role in woodland ecosystems.
Old-growth forests? Nothing to worry about! We have preserves for some old-growth trees — "95 million Acres (to be quite precise / Have been set aside JUST to look nice)." Truax doesn't come right out and say it, but that obviously means it's perfectly OK to
cut down harvest all the rest. And in what feels like a remarkable concession in light of later global warming denial on the Right, Truax helpfully notes that replacing old growth with young trees is really good for the planet!
But if we examine the scientists' rule:
We see that the planet's clean air and its cool
Depend on YOUNG trees in tree-growing school.
That's where they learn how to use C-0-2
To make lots of oxygen. Really, it's true.
Truly the sort of memorable storytelling that has endeared this book to generations of children. We do have to admit, though, that tree teacher is kind of neato. It's Walnutty Cox as Mr. Treepers!
After stacking up one-sided arguments as neatly as a truckload of beautiful and durable hardwood flooring, Birkett goes full anti-environment wackaloon once the topic of endangered species comes up. Just to signal that some bizarre shit's on the way, Truax pauses thoughtfully, as if he's genuinely conflicted, before going full exterminate all the brutes.
That's a tough question. It takes lots of thought
To decide what we ought not do, or we ought.
Would anyone mind if we lost, say, a tick
That carried a germ that made Cuddlebears sick?
Or what about something that's really quite nice
Like the Yellow-Striped Minnow that lives in Lake Zice?
How far will we go? How much will we pay?—
To keep a few minnows from dying away?
Besides, if we never harvested any trees at all, do you want us to live in "houses made of plastic and steel / 'Til the ores run out? — and they will." Well DO YA. PUNK? And before you know it, trees would be everywhere, taking over, and then where would the happy critters that love sun and open space be, hmm? HENNGGHH?
After that triumphant call for showing the damn trees who's boss, Guardbark's resistance vanishes like that of a conifer in a warming climate, and he happily embraces the ideological pine borer beetles of Truax's propaganda. Congratulating Truax on how wisely he's managing the forests, Guardbark soars off, proclaiming he's now convinced "things ARE NOT as bad as they seemed." Today, we assume, he's consulting for Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil and explaining the Amazon rainforests need to burn and become grasslands for the sake of economic development.
The wood products industry really had high hopes for Birkett's little polemic, since it was exactly like The Lorax, but with a pro-logging perspective. At least as long as you ignore the little details like The Lorax having a plot and interesting characters, including the Lorax himself, who flies by lifting his own butt, and the narrator, the Once-ler, whose face is never seen, but goes from greedhead industrialist to sadder-but-wiser cautionary tale-teller.
For laughs, check out this glowing promo/review from a 1999 timber industry newsletter, with the not-at-all hubristic headline "Enter, Truax; Exit, Dr. Seuss." The piece calls Truax "wonderfully readable" and exults that the booklet
gives educators and parents an opportunity to set the record straight about forestry issues. It should be read to every elementary school-aged child because the schools and news media tell our youngsters virtually every day — in one way or another — that cutting trees is an environmental evil.
We learn that Birkett was inspired to take action after she "visited a 4-H camp where some college students were using "The Lorax" to preach a liberal environmental message to children," and praises her for providing an alternative to all the green indoctrination in public schools, and from scary websites that use The Lorax to reel kids in, only to link to "such radical environmental groups as Greenpeace and the Rainforest Action Network."
Birkett herself explains kids need to see the booklet, because
"They get bombarded from cartoons, movies and cereal boxes…that cutting trees is bad." Ironically, she noted, many of the preservationist messages children receive are "right on paper."
Oooh, what hypocrites! Please cue up Matt Bors's "Mister Gotcha" cartoon.
The piece also hilariously insists that when it comes to literary merit, Guardbark is actually a way better character than the Lorax because "he confronts a real logger, not a straw man," and what's more, unlike anyone in The Lorax, he actually gets set straight by superior logic by someone who, unlike Seuss, knows what he's talking about.
That's immediately followed by an unironic list of the fine industry trade groups — "the Hardwood Forest Foundation, the National Oak Flooring Manufacturers Association, the National Wood Flooring Association, and the Northeastern Loggers Association" — who generously donated 200,000 copies of Truax to public schools. They're on a mission from free enterprise, you see:
In order to teach children the truth about environmental issues, you need the right materials, such as publications like "Truax." When children learn about the forest products industry from a book like "Truax," the ideas will take hold, perhaps for the rest of their lives.
Yup, and now nobody remembers that dumb Seuss book at all, unless they saw this 2001 "Daily Show" story about the plucky wood-products industry's brave fight against big-money environmental groups. Or maybe Terri Birkett never wrote another book in her life, as far as we can tell.
For all the industry propaganda, we do have to say some of Truax's illustrations, by Orrin Lundgren (who does have other books to his credit) are kind of terrific, like the tree classroom, and this one gopher or prairie dog who looks completely exhausted by the entire argument.
Bored Truax Rodent is our spirit animal. He can never be cancelled.
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Probably isn't Stephen Miller, DON'T CARE.
You guys know me. You know I can't help bleeding my heart all over the place when people are down and out. You're the same way! That's why Wonkette readers sent their Wonkbux to some old Bundyite "constitutional sheriff" fuck who had to gofundme his heart attack after railing against Obamacare for years ... and after we all paid for his medical bills, he kept right on lying his shitmouth off! You know who learned her lesson? No, not that guy, but I SURE DID!
So there I was, feeling bad for the Trump officials who did not get their full paid parental leave, because of how they lost their jobs in the middle of that leave when we shoved Trump out the White House onto his fat tuchus. I was sad for them! We should all have paid parental leave! But then they started talking, and they would not stop.
See, they're very upset because can you imagine having a baby and then not having healthcare for that baby can you imagine????
A pair of married former Trump Homeland Security officials said they had a similar experience. They provided POLITICO with emails showing an agency official telling them that, as political appointees, their parental leave benefits would be treated the same as those for career employees. Their baby was born on Dec. 18. Late at night on Jan. 5, the father got an email from the HR office saying that they had been wrong and that their benefit would end on Jan. 20.
"It's one thing if you have a household, if you have one family member who works for the government," he said. "But we were both employed by the government so we're losing both of our opportunities for health care and both our incomes, so it's pretty scary to have a premature baby at home and not knowing if you're going to have an income or health insurance."
IS IT? IS IT SCARY HAVING A PREMATURE BABY AT HOME AND NOT KNOWING IF YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE HEALTH INSURANCE, MEMBER OF THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION THAT HAS DEFINITELY FOR FUCKING SURE BEEN TRYING TO RIP AWAY EVERYONE'S HEALTH INSURANCE AND WHILE WE'RE TALKING ABOUT 'RIPPING THINGS AWAY,' COUPLE WHO IS WORKING AT HOMELAND SECURITY, HAS ANYTHING ABOUT SCARED BABIES BEEN IN THE NEWS THERE THE PAST FOUR YEARS?
Anyway, those married DHS officials only got a paid month off each, and they are VERY MAD about how SCREWED they got, but maybe they should count themselves lucky they're not one of the third of new moms going back to work right away, and forget about new dads, what is this, NORWAY?
Anybody else should shut the fuck up about now? (This is almost certainly not Stephen Miller, but it would be hilarious if it was.)
One former senior Trump official['s ...] wife had a baby girl in early December. He took three weeks of paternity leave before having to go back to work to deal with the fallout of the Jan. 6 Capitol Hill riot. He says he lost out on nine weeks of leave, which is equivalent to between $20,000 and $30,000.
"This isn't an entitlement that I asked for but I feel like after four years, it was earned," he said.
Does he? Does he feel like he "earned" it? Did he just shove a baby out of his ass? (YES I KNOW PATERNITY LEAVE IS IMPORTANT, SHUT UP.) Anyway, he is very GRRR he did not get the equivalent of "SO FUCKING MUCH CASH MONEY" and why can't he have an extra $20,000 to $30,000 since he had to come to work after his boss sent an army to murder the vice president? WAH HE ONLY GOT THREE WEEKS PAID TIME OFF, ISN'T HE SUPPOSED TO GET PAID FOR WORKING AND PAID TO HAVE TIME OFF?
What is he, an accountant for Enron?
"I could have left earlier but I didn't because I was told 'hey you've got paternity leave coming up,' and if I had known that you're not going to get to use your paternity leave and you're actually gonna just work your ass off when you have a new baby and then get fired, I probably would have made a different decision," he said.
The former official declined to go on the record for fear that it would affect his prospects of landing a job with a salary to support a family of five.
Yeah, if somebody can't afford avocado toast for his family of five, maybe he should keep his legs shut.
Let's hear from a better person than we are:
"Paid parental leave is really really important for maternal health, for child wellbeing, for family connectivity, and I can't imagine being in that new parents' shoes and not having the finances," said Adrienne Schweer, a fellow at the Bipartisan Policy Center who leads its Paid Family Leave Task Force. "Extending it to a couple people for a few months could be a good thing. There is precedent for unique circumstances, and I would love to see a good example set of ensuring that as many people as possible can have paid parental leave."
Adrienne Schweer is a nice person, and at the moment she is nicer than I am, because fuck those guys.
Let them eat some bootstraps, save two months' earnings for an emergency, move somewhere with a lower cost of living and get a roommate, sell some plasma for cash, they really shouldn't complain as long as they have refrigerators, and do you really need that "i-Phone"?
And you're welcome for that extra $400 a week in extended unemployment, people who probably should have planned ahead since they knew they were going to be out of a job November fucking 5 but thought they should get to stay on payroll anyway, because they're special and it was their "birth plan."
Learn about Rosa DeLauro's and Kirsten Gillibrand's FAMILY Act here, it's a good one, and those fucking people should start pushing for it but they won't because it's for everybody instead of just for them.
Wonkette loves you and wants you to be happy, please give us money ok bye.
Catch the blue train places never been before.
Hello, good morning, welcome to the first day of the rest of our lives!
The other night, as we were parceling out our Inauguration Day Advent Calendar mini liquor bottles, my son what prints your merches in our basement factory said, regarding the only two days remaining before our long national nightmare would (PRESUMABLY) come to an end, "Already? That was fast!" and my husband almost murdered him right there in the kitchen where he stood.
"'FAST'? 'ALREADY'?" he bellowed, followed by a cartoon string of epithets. He had a really good point! Every single day of the past four years has been a fight to even continue existing, and that's before the shithead that unaccountably somehow got "elected" president of the United States affirmatively killed more than 400,000 Americans and attempted to murder democracy itself.
It has been, dear ones, a trial.
Four years ago, I put "three months" in the office pool for how long it would be before Trump got bored and resigned because people were mean to him. I undershot it by 45 months. You should never ever ever listen to me.
But we have survived, except for those 400,000 of our friends and neighbors, which still spatters my poor little brains across the wall. Obviously he couldn't react properly and use the bureaucracy to provide states medicine and PPE. But it would have cost him nothing to say, "The Democrats want to shut down the country, but we are STRONG! We must WEAR MASKS and go back to work instead of cowering in fear!" And his idiots would have put on the biggest face-merkins they could imagineer. How do you make a culture war out of not dying of an infectious disease?
That was only the last year of our lives so far. Before then there were three years of everything else in the entire world. I can't even remember it, can you? Good. We're better off that way.
There was a headline yestertoday I didn't click on, "Joe Biden, Our Imperfect President," because who cares? Nobody expects him to be perfect, and I imagine that was probably their point, and also fuck them. He's old, he's handsome, he's a nice fella, and probably none of our beloved fightin' types — our Liz Warrens, our Bernies, even our Kamalas — could be the normal the world needs for a while.
Mother Teresa had her (ferocious) detractors. Jimmy Carter deregulated some stuff and maybe was bad in Nicaragua (Afghanistan?), I forget. Barack Obama, a fine man, believed some stupid shit sometimes, like "the American people want me to work with these dicks."
Even I am not perfect — I am greedy sometimes, and envy others, and sometimes I whine at our fabulous staff about why they (yes they) make me work so much, and I'm too lazy to make a podcast — and I'm really fucking close to perfect, you can ask my mother.
I know the craziness will continue; we're still in a goddamn pandemic, for one thing, and Mitch McConnell doesn't do "life lessons." A third of the American people have fallen victim to some wildass cult brain rinsings, and we can't deprogram them because they like it there.
We might lose Congress two years from now; we often do, and Fox and its new even more cracked-out siblings OAN and Newsmax will be doing every lie in their power to make that happen. But for a minute, or two years, we won't have a rubber stamp on whatever Trump lieutenant Santa Monica Goebbels pulls out of 1930s Germany's ass. Instead, we will have a moderate Congress backing a moderate president — but one who claims he sees the need for big change. And hell, when Chuck Schumer is pushing you to do more and bigger, you listen to old Chuck.
So what's on our agenda? We'll drink, we'll dance, we'll livebloog, we'll breathe deep and better assuming there's no bombings, and if there are, I'll make Dok and SER and Robyn and Evan and Liz deal with it.
I bought Wonkette just shy of nine years ago, in March 2012. Never ever ever saw this shit coming; I thought George W. Bush and his lie enablers were as Nazi as our shit could get. This year isn't going to be perfect by any stretch of Walt Disney's imagination, but it will be better. And 2022 and 2024, we'll cross those bridges when Josh Hawley comes to them.
It's my fervent desire that you no longer need to check in at Wonkette three or six times a day, unless you're retired and your buddies are playing pinochle in the comments. It's my fervent desire that we'll be able to write about other things once in a while, nice things, shiny normal things, culture and the world, because all our bandwidth won't be sucked up by one criminally psychopathic man. And it's also my fervent desire that you keep us going regardless, because you know when news breaks, there's nobody you want screaming and frothing at the mouth about it but us, and that's why we're your very first stop.
Now give us money and buy some shit. Because we love you, but more importantly, you love us right back.