“The lawyer with the briefcase can steal more money than the man with the gun.”
― Mario Puzo,
What a week. Paul Manafort is on trial for financial fraud, Michael Cohen is dangling stories about other Trump associates to the media, Rudy Giuliani is shooting off at the mouth and revealing things that his client would probably prefer him not to reveal while trying to move the goalposts from “There was no collusions,” to “If there WERE collusions, would it really be that bad?” Meanwhile the president’s tweets have, ah, intensified. A reminder for everyone, whatever your political persuasions or opinions on the several scandals involved in this story: every single one of these main actors has proved themselves to be an unreliable narrator.
On to the links, kittens, I have a cracking round up for you with only the socially acceptable amount of cynicism! And once again, I’m dropping this early because goodness knows what else is going to land and this thing is over 1,000 words already. There’s a lot going on.
Reminder: the stock market is not the economy and there is a case to be made that it’s stronger and bigger at the moment, at the expense of things like wage increases. There is a LOT of money in the world, and it is concentrated in surprisingly few hands.
Let’s talk about a couple of gun stories this past week. I’m very liberal, but believe it or not, I’m not anti-gun. I am virulently anti the ways in which the second amendment has been weaponized (pun very much intended) to change the nature of our public discourse and therefore our society. I believe firmly that interested parties have weaponized (again, intentional) fear to line their own pockets and build political power, and I also believe that norms about who can or should be armed are clearly tinged with racist, sexist, and class overtones. There are more guns than actual people in the United States, while less than a third of citizens actually own them. Finally, I believe we should not be able to print them.
We need to talk about this, because crimes like this should make us as a society reevaluate ourselves.
Lock him up. He assaults women and destablizes governments. I’m not interested in allowing him to escape the consequences of his actions.
Speaking of, one of the most powerful figures in the US Catholic hierarchy resigned this week. GOOD.
Ronan Farrow is doing powerful and important reporting on abuse in high places, and he dropped his latest this past week. He definitely warranted his own profile piece (originally published in January of this year, but which I missed at the time).
Relevant to my interests: “The thing is, the world can’t afford to waste perfectly good clothes anymore.”
Theresa May’s Impossible Choice. In some ways I have a lot of sympathy for Ms. May while still not liking her very much. She did not seem to want the job of prime minister, she was left with a hot potato after others of her party literally fled from government after the Brexit vote, and she doesn’t have enough of a consensus nationally (to say nothing of within her own party) to take any action that won’t likely end her political career. I don’t agree with her politics at all, but from time to time, I get a strange and temporary twinge of emotion around her.
The great and good Sali Hughes wrote about her lifelong relationship with red lipstick for this month’s British Vogue. It’s brilliant.
This piece on the decline of Civil War reenactments is fascinating. Living in Virginia as my family did, this sort of thing was fairly common when I was younger and I enjoyed the events that I did see. The current cultural tenor is probably forcing a lot of people to confront the things they enjoy and to examine why.
I’m well over the various sleaze scandals of the administration (in as far as we’re dealing with consensual sleaze), and more interested in following some of the implications of new fiscal policy to their logical conclusions. At the end of the day, the current administration’s political support comes from an alliance of very wealthy people who want to hold on to more of their wealth through changes in tax law and removing restrictions to corporations, and working class people to whom the president promised a populist message of government care on issues like healthcare and stoking grievances for fun. A Washington Post reporter summed it up as, “Trump is the embodiment of the culture-wars-for-the-poor, tax-cuts-for-the-rich approach to politics.”
That full article is worth a read: “…this is part of Trump’s political gambit. He’s a blue-collar guy who lives in a gold-plated penthouse. He is the embodiment of the political pitch he makes: obsessed with cultural issues as the policies he passes benefit his enormous wealth. Neither his wealthy nor his poor supporters seem to care about the inherent tension in that duality — any more than Trump does.” I think eventually the duality will become unsustainable. I can’t guess when, but I think that history shows that you can’t stoke grievance indefinitely without it eventually erupting. Whether that’s towards the marginalized (which we already see in the rise of hate speech and crimes, or animosity towards certain communities)…or the rich and powerful.
The evolution of the super rich, through the prism of the Financial Times’ How To Spend It magazine.
I don’t love everything about the Green Brothers, though I admire their ability to build and grow platforms, but this talking-to-the-camera video Hank Green did sums up what I think is the great challenge that many in the media and social media spaces are grappling with at the moment. Platforms are not governments…they are businesses. They are undemocratic and regulated spaces, but we consumers seem to intuitively want them to behave like governments (both in protecting certain rights and curtailing certain freedoms).
In Mormon news this week, exactly the kind of content I want!
Kid Fury is one half of The Read podcast, which is absolutely roll-on-the-ground-laughing funny and powerful, and I am SO glad for the good things coming for the team that make it.
Damn it! I really want this experiment conducted!
If given the tools to monitor your social media usage, would you use them?