Weekend Links

“Look at this mess! And where’s the mop?” 
― Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

It’s only Friday but I’m posting the links early because good grief…What a roller coaster of a week.

After backing down (kind of) on a wildly unpopular policy of his administration’s own making, the president is (of course) trying to spin the narrative of him heroically beating back wrong. I HOPE the conversation continues and now return to the debate about how long families are able to be detained (because please remember that that the administration is already challenging a legal ruling over limiting family detention) and our immigration policies overall. I HOPE TO HELL the furore continues over the fact that there is no commitment to reunite currently separated families. There is also an increasing numbers of verified reports of some of the conditions immigrants and immigrant children are being kept in that are shocking.

Finally, I HOPE this week is a reset in the media and public discourse. That after this ridiculous week, news outlets, politicians, and commentators will do better about bluntly and swiftly countering lies and mistruths–instead of endlessly debating whether or not the president “means it” when he says flagrantly false statements. This administration and the president has gotten away with unaccountability for far too long and it’s corrosive. We need to take him seriously and literally. He is the President of the United States, and we need to stop grading him on a god damn scale.

Basically, props for not paying too much attention to that silly “Space Force” announcement. More of that, please.

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It’s a complicated history, but it’s important to explore and unpack. I have a vivid of a university classmate of mine vigorously denying even the possibility of this relationship because, and I quote, “God would not let His government be organized by a man who did that.” Fourteen years on and I’m still thinking about that conversation…woof.

BEYONCE ALERT. Oh, and her husband too. Sure.

Seriously, who else could shut down the Louvre?

This opinion piece is beautiful and hits right in the feels: “I like to watch Rob and our boys and be reminded that there are some very good men out there… I can expect a great deal from them — and not be disappointed.” Thank god for good men, and yes to celebrating them.

Design flaw.

“[Neko] Case may be an acquired taste, but she’s an addictive, enveloping one. To love her is to fucking love her.” Can confirm that this line, part of this overall great profile, is accurate.

I think every urban generation goes through something like falling out of love with its city, and New York is no different. However there was a lot about this longform piece that really resonated with me as a sojourner in another iconic city during our current socio political moment. I’m surrounded by property I can’t afford, lots of the “old neighborhoods” have undergone a major demographic shift in the last generation, and businesses as well as people are often priced out. The poor are hidden and the rich are in hiding. I’m still prepared to hustle and grind as much as the next hungry and ambitious woman out there, but for what can feel like diminishing returns. Meanwhile, I wonder about how long an ecosystem like a great city will last if less and less of the labor it depends on can find a way to live in it.

I have so many questions about this

This article came out nearly two weeks ago, but I’m still thinking about it and the implications of bro culture as diplomacy. An op ed this week lays out what some of the consequences may be. “America has been dominant for so long that it takes for granted outcomes that support its policies and interests…”

Way to bury the lede…in the 19th paragraph… “According to four people close to Kelly, the former Marine general has largely yielded his role as the enforcer in the West Wing as his relationship with Trump has soured. While Kelly himself once believed he stood between Trump and chaos, he has told at least one person close to him that he may as well let the president do what he wants, even if it leads to impeachment — at least this chapter of American history would come to a close.”

God, my friends are amazing. My New York bestie and surrogate big sister did a killer podcast this week.

The role of women in the Trump White House is endlessly interesting to me. He relies on certain women in key ways and always has, while simultaneously projecting an intentional, old-school masculinity that is often disdainful of women or insists on traditional gender roles. The women in his orbit are adept at using the tropes of that system to both their and his advantage…which brings me to medieval history! (Everything comes back to medieval history on this blog.)

Finally, this quote sums up the screams-into-a-pillow rage I experience when pondering this whole presidency. “The elite! Why are they elite?” Trump wondered. “I have a much better apartment than they do. I’m smarter than they are. I’m richer than they are. I became president and they didn’t.” HIS IS THE ELITE. HE IS THE PRESIDENT AND HEAD OF THE EMPOWERED PARTY. HE IS RICH AND PRIVLEGED. IT IS A LIE TO SAY OTHERWISE.

Let’s review some of the political events of the last week:

Monday and Tuesday: Fuck your discomfort.

Tuesday: The clip that crashed ProPublica’s website.

Everything pure is going fast…RIP Koko.

As of Wednesday, there were stirrings that the White may back down. Which if course is good, if unexpected on my part, but ironically puts the president in similar situations to his predecessors. I actually accept that our immigration system is in desperate need of reform, in no small part to the messiness and responsibility limbo different aspects of government find themselves in. But until we acknowledge the underlying driving ethos in various drives for reform, this conversation will not move forward. And speaking off…

Lest we forget, we have allowed this administration and a series of untruths to hijack the conversation around immigration in the first place. While there are seasonal trends, the overall trend is that immigration numbers are falling. There has been no scientifically robust link between immigration and crime rate, or wage rates for that matter. We are not being invaded. The language around immigrants is age old, frequently ugly (see also: “infest”), and seldom rooted in fact. If you want to say that immigration is a national security issue: prove it. The problem is that certain people want to behave in ways that are underpinned by nativism, racism, and nationalism, but don’t want to have to admit to those motives. “‘Unable to say, “We want fewer foreign-born Americans, full stop,’ the Trump administration is instead constantly making arguments that don’t withstand much scrutiny.”

Thursday: we’re still unpicking the implications of the Executive Order as it is.

Also Thursday: we’re doing what now?!

Friday: the underlying truth is that our immigration system across the board is a mess, and I’m not just talking about enforcement. Our laws need review to meet the needs and realities of the 21st century. Our borders do need enforcement but they also need them in ways that match reality–a wall won’t work. Our legal systems need money and people to cope with the workload. Our people services need investment so that our national values are just as prioritized as our security. Our Congress is paralyzed by infighting. This whole ugly situation arose because our immigration system is fundamentally disordered (and the ruling powers are ethno-nativist in the extreme). Until that mess is fixed, personal animus will continue to hold more power than it should in the debate.

 

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Another Update: This Guy…

Stepped right in a perfectly crafted designed-to-outrage-without-uttering-a-word layup. Because of course it’s always all about him.

 

Insert comment about how they can’t coordinate their communications strategy, etc. etc. etc. Unless of course this is all intentional. Who knows, Melania isn’t talking.

Oh well. Back to the outrage about the chronic lying, discombobulated policy, and sacrificing women as spokespeople, thanks.

A Jacket Interlude

“Miss Rhode Island, please describe your idea of a perfect date.”
“That’s a tough one. I would have to say April 25th. Because it’s not too hot, not too cold, all you need is a light jacket.”
– Miss Congeniality, 2000

Deploying the First Lady is something the Trump administration does rarely but damn effectively. She really is an under utilized resource, and like many others I don’t know if this is down to personal preference or genuine strategic thinking to keep her PR value high.

So, with that in mind,  let’s fight about this jacket. I’m pretty well convinced this is intentional and strategic. Melania Trump, a former model and genuinely well dressed and shod woman, knows how to use fashion. See also, her pussy bow blouse during “Grab ’em by the pussy” week, her choice of stilettos when visiting a flood zone which may or may not have been practical but certainly got people talking, her excellent (and I mean that sincerely) handling of the French president’s state dinner including her style choices, and so on.

There is a reason we watch First Lady fashion and while it’s far from the most important thing to talk about right now, it’s not insignificant or incorrect to talk about it.

The jacket in question.

Is this a signal of disdain to immigrants? Is it a signal of disdain for her own husband and his policies? Is she supporting the administration? Is she trying to embarrass it from inside the house? Is she triggering the media? Is she pandering to the media? It’s aggressively ambiguous and open to interpretation. I’m almost perversely tempted to tip my hat to this EXPERT trolling/attempt to seize control of/disrupt the narrative, and I have no idea what her intentions are.

I wish we could all let go of the silly idea that she’s a beautiful-but-dumb woman trapped in her marriage. She’s long been willing to play second fiddle to her diva partner but she has never, ever struck me as unintelligent. She’s also not lived in Trump world this long without learning how to use its tricks and The Art of the Headfake is a classic Trump move. It’s wild to think that if her husband were half a subtle as she, he might be twice as effective. Dreadful thought.

An Update

Color me surprised that he bowed to pressure. Pleasantly. Though the wording of this EO leaves an awful lot to the discretion of the DHS Secretary…

But.

Don’t forget that at it’s most fundamental, this was a manufactured crisis from a White House that specializes in manufacturing crises. They literally set the fire, they should not get any praise for putting it out. They should also get a lot of criticism for causing confusion in the first place.

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Don’t forget that the policies and underlying ethno-nationalistic sentiments this administration came to power on…are still in power.

Don’t forget that there are children right now who need to be immediately reunited with parents and guardians and the pressure needs to stay up until that happens and can be confirmed and documented publicly.

Don’t forget that the administration has other crackdowns planned between now and November, because a certain part of their base wants them (and because certain key members of the administration genuinely believe in them).

Don’t forget that the president has spent the last 72 hours lying about how this policy came to be and how he couldn’t do a thing to change it. This untruth of this needs to be hammered home.

Don’t forget who backed up those lies and tried to reinforce a demonstrably false narrative, up to and including the Secretary of Homeland Security on whose word are supposed to rely in the event of national emergency or threat.

Don’t forget this administration tried something as extreme as taking hostages. On some level, it all feels like a trial balloon to test what they can get away with and what their control over the media narrative really is.

And finally do not forget how quickly this timeline moved. Only three days ago, Secretary Neilsen said that this policy didn’t exist. 72 hours later, the president is issuing an executive order to dismantle aspects of it.

This is farcical.

Midterms are coming sooner than you think.

A Feature, Not a Bug

“A civilization is not destroyed by wicked people; it is not necessary that people be wicked but only that they be spineless.”
– James Baldwin 

Alright, this can’t wait for Friday; let’s talk about the Trump administration policy of separating children from families at the border and why the administration’s attempt to flip or shift the narrative is bullshit. The good news at the moment is that for once, it seems as if the administration’s attempt to steamroll facts isn’t working, but given their unbelievable success at doing this in the past doesn’t fill me with wild hope.

Let’s review: this is not new, it has been a long time coming, the AG announced this new policy in May, the ACLU has been filing cases against this for a hot minute now, asylum is being treated as an illegality–it isn’t. Over the last three days, every single one of the following explanations, denials, or justifications has been used:

Let’s be clear. The administration has taken children away from the parents for a crime ranked as a misdemeanor (on the same level as petty theft or public intoxication), and made their release and reunification (a flimsy prospect since it doesn’t appear that there are robust enough systems for this already) conditional upon certain legislation. The administration has taken hostages.

Remember, provocation is a feature, not a bug, of this White House. They manufactured this crisis by creating the policy in the first place and are now claiming their hands are tied. They are positioning themselves as the victims when they are the hostage takers. This should not hold water with anyone, I’m incredulous that it is in some quarters. And while I hope the president backs down, I’m not counting on it because if you think the president and key people in the White House want this “problem” (meaning the furor and coverage) to go away, you have not been paying attention. They live for this.

Also remember, this nativism, anti-immigrant sentiment, and militant enthno-nationalistic grievance is literally the horse Mr. Trump and all his people rode in on. While I hope shame and outrage will be enough to turn the tide, it does not at all surprise me to read that some of his administration are planning more crackdowns–judging that this is the issue that will fire up their base more than touting their tax victory. This has always been part of the stated plan. But I forget, were we supposed to take him literally or seriously, again?

Yes, I abhor the policy. But almost as disgusting to me is how the administration gets away with it all. They can defend a pro-Israel policy and defend Nazis rallying in our streets. The president can go on TV and state publicly that he fired the director of the FBI to try and make an investigation go away and experience zero consequences. He can promise healthcare “for everybody,” dismantle the current healthcare system, and be praised by the people who voted for him on his original promise and who will pay the highest price. His DHS Secretary can go from denying a policy’s existence to defending it in less than 24 hours without batting an eye. Where are the consequences of this kind of double speak? How long until it is checked? The damage it does to our credibility, our position of moral leadership, and our underlying moral fiber is frightening.

Finally, I don’t care what your politics are, I need people to understand that one way or another, there is no future in which this does not come back and bite all Americans in the ass. Whether it enables new scorched earth warfare between the parties that will end in casualties, or whether antagonists over the world feel empowered to use the same tactics against us someday, THIS. WILL. COST. US. Anyone willing to trade in lives will someday have to pay the same price themselves. All of human history is a testament to this awful fact.

This time, the call is coming from inside the house.

Weekend Links

“In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.” 
― Friedrich Nietzsche

Happy weekend, kittens!

I spent yesterday walking 20 miles for charity and my body is hurting. Therefore we are diving straight into the links. Political news is almost moving too fast to keep up with but to summarize some major stories of the week: Manafort’s bail was revoked, Michael Cohen might be flirting with the prosecution, an the FBI released a report that may or may not affect your personal feelings on James Comey, but has nothing whatsoever to say about “exonerating” Mr. Trump in relation to the Russia investigation given that the report was on the handling of the FBI’s investigation into Ms. Clinton’s emails. No matter what the hell he tweets.

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A look into a world we don’t get too many glimpses of.

When it all went wrong, at least pop culturally speaking, and at least according to current curmudgeons.

There is so much shady money hiding in plain sight. Here’s some engrossing reporting from The Guardian on Russian money in the UK, but this is hardly the only combination out there. I appreciate the point made that in many cases of money moving through the world, it’s not happening necessarily with nefarious intent so much as it is a need for aggressive self-interest in preserving wealth through uncertain financial and political times. Conspiracy theories about “elites” sitting in darkened rooms smoking cigars and contemplating the best way to keep poorer people down and shake governments aren’t really true. Conspiracy theories about wealthy and powerful people meeting in daylight in comfortable office spaces and speaking practically about the best way to use completely legal means to protect their assets are.

Our entire society–media, politics, you name it–seems built on charlatans all scheming to get out just before the house of cards comes down at the moment. Some of them even manage to luck into success doing it.

Let’s be clear: broadly speaking, it’s still much harder and more negatively consequential for women to come forward about sexual assault and harassment then for me who assault and harass.

We were all rooting for this little guy this week.

This is horrific and unacceptable.

The White House is trying to shift ownership of this policy onto the opposing party, probably to try and force people to the negotiating table. It’s disgusting. Don’t cite holy writ, whatever your creed, to justify it. Either buck up and own your cruelty or be ashamed of it and stop weaponizing suffering.

God, we need Mr. Rogers more now than ever before...

Queer Eye is an active force for good in the world (with bonus Mormon content!)

Three cheers for healthy masculinity!

How the Netflix model works when it comes to programming and showrunning.

Here in Britain there is a bit of a celebrity gossip news this week that rather stuck in my craw in a way I couldn’t put my finger on. Then, Lainey put it better than I ever could.

Weekend Links

“We have not journeyed all this way because we are made of sugar candy.” 
― Winston S. Churchill

What an absolute rollercoaster of a week, kittens. I’ve got some very exciting things in the pipeline, work I’m genuinely thrilled about, but the truth is I’m having to burn the candle at both ends to get set up for it. I’m not feeling 100% and the news has been pretty grim this week on most counts. Here, have a bunch of links, only a few of which are about political, to get you through this weekend.

Damn you, poverty!

Damn you, poverty, twice!

This is not ******* normal. Here is a more coherent take on Monday’s news.

The best people. Because of course he did. The reporting this week on this front has been wild.

Another example of how key people and statements in this whole mess are fundamentally untrustworthy. The Trump family line reads like the narcissist’s prayer: I didn’t do it. If I did do it, it wasn’t wrong. If it’s wrong, it’s not my fault.

The nominal reason for disinviting the Philadelphia Eagles to the White House this week was players kneeling for the national anthem…which none of them participated in during the past season. This White House statement on the occasion reads both pettily and oddly. I realized eventually that it’s the use of the words “their president” in relation to the that was so jarring to me, which is usually referred to as “the president.” I’m on record as being a fairly patriotic person who simultaneously deeply dislikes “performed” patriotism. This step of enforced performance linked to the person of the president (as opposed to the office) feels deeply weird and gross.

Jeff and I (morbidly) speculate about this a lot…

The next time anyone asks me about having kids, I’m just forwarding them this link.

Tragic news in the fashion world this week. The Fug Girls wrote a lovely piece on her place in fashion and what wearing her pieces felt like to so many women who bought them.

Tragic news in the food world too! Have a read of the piece that put him on the map here. This piece from The Cut is fitting tribute. Remember how we were hoping for 2018 to be less awful than 2017 and it keeps being worse?

The War of 1812 rears its head once more. Will we never be free of that nightmare…she muttered sarcastically.

Rosewave for life!

The notebooks of Bill Cunningham are on display, please someone from New York go see this and report back.