Category: Politics

Quick News Check In and a Brief Plea

Reporters asked [Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX)] why, after Republicans held dozens of nearly-unanimous votes to repeal Obamacare under President Obama, they were getting cold feet now that they control the levers of power.

“Sometimes you’re playing Fantasy Football and sometimes you’re in the real game,” he said. “We knew the president, if we could get a repeal bill to his desk, would almost certainly veto it. This time we knew if it got to the president’s desk it would be signed.”
Talking Points Memo

The thing about the ACA news that’s pissing me off more than anything right now, are the handful of stories or mentions I’m seeing that the GOP are going to “move on” from health care now. Really. After nearly a decade of single minded antagonism. You voted on this issue over 60 times under President Obama (and grand total of 0 under President Trump). Now you’re ready to move on.

Almost as if…for the majority of the party at least…the actual bill itself was never the point…?

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On the other hand, one good thing I’m seeing seems to be some level of introspection of some members of the Republican party.

As the prospect of a loss became more real on Friday, the frustrations of GOP lawmakers loyal to the leadership began to boil over. “I’ve been in this job eight years, and I’m wracking my brain to think of one thing our party has done that’s been something positive, that’s been something other than stopping something else from happening,” Representative Tom Rooney of Florida said in an interview. “We need to start having victories as a party. And if we can’t, then it’s hard to justify why we should be back here.” – from The Atlantic

For nearly a decade, the GOP has defined itself by its perceived enemies and what they were against. They’ve been a protest party, but they are now in charge and a litany of complaints is not a plan, as yesterday and its attendant organizational mess proved. I am desperately hoping that liberals don’t fall into the all too easy trap of doing the same thing in response! Because if ever there was a moment for both sides to lay down rhetorical arms, retreat to their own camps to actually think on and firm up what it is the stand for and not just whom against, and return to the table armed for an intelligent debate about which ideologies our country should espouse and why, instead of scorched earth politics…this is it.

Let’s set aside the ridiculous man in the White House and his sensational, possibly scandal ridden cronies for a moment. Much has been made of the fact that Mr. Trump doesn’t owe Republicans much when it comes to policy making, especially given that most didn’t support him (at least enthusiastically) in the election. I’d suggest that the reverse is also more true than is given credit for. Mr. Trump ran as a Republican but far from sharing a majority of conservative principles, his statement record is all over the map. He doesn’t seem to operate from ideology so much as self-interest. He might have overrun the GOP but he doesn’t lead it. And, more importantly, within the US system it is congress not the executive branch is supposed to take the lead in practical governing anyway. A number of leading conservative and libertarian thinkers have been complaining for years that the executive branch has grown too powerful in the post WWII era. In fact, that was one of their primary complaints about the previous administration!

So, conservative leadership, get to it. Lead. Get your act together. Take the reins. Govern. Remember that you govern all of us, not just the guys who voted for you, and act accordingly. Govern well, else be voted out of office, that’s how this game works. Someone, anyone, step up to claim some sense of ownership and offer, in good faith, to work with liberals on constructive legislation moving forward that actually addresses the current needs of citizens, regardless of what the orange overlord tweets or the blowhards of talk radio spew. Say you want to draw a line under recent vitriol and start anew, and mean it.

I, Jane Taxpayer, solemnly swear to hold my own party accountable if they fail to take you up on your offer.

But at the moment, GOP, this president and the current state of political are largely your mess and, as you like to keep point out, you’re now in charge. Fix it. I’m genuinely rooting for you.

Weekend Links

“We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.”
[Remarks on the 20th Anniversary of the Voice of America; Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, February 26, 1962]”
― John F. Kennedy

So. The news. By Wednesday of this week, this whole mess had gone down. Things haven’t gotten much clearer since. Then there was an attack on my beloved adopted hometown of London the same day, seemingly the actions of a lone wolf assailant.

As I put this list together, the American political system is arguing with itself (on a fundamental level) as to whether healthcare (or rather its watered down version of “access to healthcare”) is a right or not. There’s an actual and interesting ideological basis to this debate, but we long ago spun into vitriol and obstruction and I’m not sure that we’re any closer to finding our way out of either. Apparently the leadership is going to force a vote on it today, we will see what happens.

Thus far 2017 seems to be doing its darndest to up our collective rates of cardiac stress and fatigue. Here are your links this weekend, and they are designed to be a politics-lite batch for to give us all a bit of a break.

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The importance of understanding shifting language and context in our culturally ongoing discussions about sexuality and identity.

Relatedly! An interview at Man Repeller about the changing language and communication expectations of our current age.

Female writers on books that influenced them.

The great and good Margaret H. Willison (oft of Pop Culture Happy Hour fame) defends libraries!

Escaping the guardianship laws placed on Saudi women.

Speaking of Pop Culture Happy Hour, this post from NPR’s Monkey See about the podcast Missing Richard Simmons is an interesting exercise in pondering fame.

“Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her. And then the murders began.”

This article on how ISIS is changing and evolving is worth a read.

The latest trailer for The Handmaid’s Tale is chilling and gripping. I can’t wait for it and am simultaneously a bit chilled.

Why Jane Austen is Wrong for the Alt-Right. I may never have click on an article link this fast in my life.

Album of the week: Paradise by ANOHNI

From Russia, With Love

Russia is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.
– Winston Churchill

So, to confirm, it was necessary for the FBI to break protocol in October of last year and publicly divulge information about an ongoing investigation into former rep. Anthony Weiner as it hypothetically might have related to Secretary Clinton (turns out, it didn’t). But it was not necessary for the FBI to publicly divulge that then-candidate Trump’s team or campaign was being investigated since July of last year for potential collusion with or ties to a government with an avowed strategy of disrupting US elections in his favor.

Got it. Clear as mud.

God, I’m angry at the state of US politics.

Incendiary Monday: Nationalistic Purity is a (bad) Myth

“Nationalism is an infantile thing. It is the measles of mankind.”
― Albert Einstein

This tweet and whole story enraged me. When we are speaking of the human race, there is no such thing as “someone else’s babies.” This is shameful, racist nonsense.

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I fundamentally don’t understand the notion that some people seem to hold that there was once a time where every nation on earth (a concept in and of itself only a couple centuries old) had its own pure ethnic, nationalistic, and presumably racial identity. Nope. Lies in almost every case. We humans have been trading, travelling, mixing languages, creating and abolishing religions, warring, peacemaking, marrying, and swapping science globally for all of recorded history. The only things that have changed in the last thousand years is the rapidity with which we do it, the distances we are able to cross to do so, and the scale of our exchange.

But if I can point out evidence of Africans in Britain in the Roman period, the vast reach of the medieval Chinese navy and their explorations across the Pacific, Vikings in the Americas in the 10th century, a millennia of trade along the Silk Road, ancient African trade routes spanning the continent, and Pan-European Celtic road systems dating to before written language…you don’t get to be surprised that people of a different skin color or religion now live next door to you.

The last time we were a “pure” species was in coming out of Africa–and apparently we still  eventually managed to hook up with Neanderthals at some point. Notions of national purity, always an Us And Them narrative, have only ever served to divide and–in modern history–usually to attempt to conquer.

Emails with Friends: Political Boyfriends

“At his best, man is the noblest of all animals; separated from law and justice, he is the worst.”
– Aristotle 

This test is important, take it immediately.”
“Huh. George Washington, apparently. Let’s face it, could be much worse.
“Amazing and…accurate? I got JFK because I’m basic af.”
“God, we are both hilariously predictable sometimes because…yeah…totally accurate for me. I like them principled and relatively scandal free.”
“And all I want is the drama and the glamour and the tragedy and exceptional, inaccessible privilege.”
“You like the guy who dies dramatically after a couple of years in office, I like the guy who retires quietly to set a historic precedent…and then goes back to his/our ridiculous estate. Fine with this.”
“We did pick the two wealthiest presidents, so…”
“We may be predictable/basic af but we are not cheap.”
– Katarina and C.

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Democracy In Action, Sweden v. US

“Fools are more to be feared than the wicked.”
– Queen Christina of Sweden

A quick PSA to say that over the weekend, at his first 2020 campaign rally (to which, sigh), the President seemed to imply that some kind of terrible event had occurred in Sweden the same day.

Meanwhile, in Sweden, a librarian responsible for Sweden’s official Twitter feed (the handle is passed around to different citizens to manage on a weekly basis, apparently) woke to learn of this. She was then responsible for assuring the Twitterverse that Sweden is, in fact, fine.

A little shade was also thrown on the feed, which can be a nice thing to read on a Monday morning. Go forth and read up. This morning the President tried to cover himself a bit, but Sweden clapped right back again. The whole thing is pleasantly silly.

But also remember that this is the third made up tragedy the administration seems to have referenced in a single month in office. And remember that the nearest thing to successful terror attacks in Sweden recently was a conspiracy of anti-immigration neo-Nazis.

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Weekend Links

“You can never be overdressed or overeducated.”
― Oscar Wilde

Woof. I compile these posts throughout the week, updating it to make sure that news links are as current as they can be, and that notes of levity and enjoyment are liberally scattered throughout. I know things have gotten a bit heavy around here lately and I had every intention of a links post thick with Fashion Week highlights and apolitical links to lighten things up. I’ve got those too, but it’s also been a big week for news, which led me towards doing separate post on the big story.

Thus far I still haven’t put words together to speak intelligently about the presidential press conference–apt, since neither did the president in many ways. To date, he’s sowed the seeds to blame one branch of government if something terrible should happen (if committed by a Muslim of course, white people shooting up mosques seems to be fine), a second branch of government seems to be in some kind of grim Faustian pact to go along with him as long as he signs their legislation, and he’s on a tear of a campaign to delegitmize the fourth estate who scrutinizes his actions. So things are going great, guys!

To make up for the emotional roller coaster that is Western democracy at the moment, here is an extra large dose of links for you, kittens. Never say I don’t do anything for you!

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This piece by Andrew Sullivan for New York Magazine is important reading and discusses the unfortunate fact that we have a president who seems to throw out countless lies and mistruths weekly–usually in the face of empirical evidence–and thus far does not seem to have retracted or apologized for any of them. He is not being held accountable in any way. He also gave an interview to CNN that’s worth viewing. When, “No error is ever admitted. Any lie is usually doubled down by another lie — along with an ad hominem attack,” what is at stake for government and the citizenry? His position, somewhat daringly, is that the president is outright mentally unstable, which is the source of a decent amount of debate-including whether or not it’s even appropriate for people to speculate on the matter. This letter, for instance is a nice and effective rebuke. To the comments, kittens, and lend me your thoughts.

After all the hullabaloo about privacy and securing information on Secretary Clinton’s part, this is just ridiculous.

Well, now we’re totally safe… To be clear, there are plenty of images of past “football” carriers. But none that I’m aware of that have posed for pictures.

This is a pretty good breakdown of the legal quagmire that is the executive order on immigration as it stands at time of writing. (Things may change. As should be abundantly obvious by now.)

For heaven’s sake, we must avoid hurting his feelings!

This twitter feed is hilarious and heartbreaking. It envisions an alternate reality where Secretary Clinton won, the news is not wholly ridiculous, and First Gentleman Bill is sent on a lot of errands.

History and the rise (and fall?) of facts.

This woman makes my Money Month project look like amateur night at the roadhouse.

I loved this piece at The Everygirl about Beyonce and Adele at the Grammy’s last weekend, which speaks bluntly about black artists losing to white ones consistently and how what could have been a twitter war between the stans was prevented by the genuine positivity of women loving and supporting other women.

NPR has a deeper read into race and the Grammys that’s well worth a look in.

It took less than a month for a scandal to bring down a major player in the administration which, while in line with my predictions, does not bode well. All I will say is that given the layers to the Gen. Flynn story (most notably the fact that now-former Acting Attorney General Yates apparently alerted the White House to the potential threats and was fired only days later due to her stance on the immigration ban, and the fact that timelines being put forward by various staff simply isn’t matching at time of writing), I expect the press, government officials, and voting public to give at least as much scrutiny and attention to claims of foreign interference in our government as they did to Secretary Clinton’s emails.

Pantsuits on women was a major trend this NYFW. Cannot imagine why.

After all the shouting and bluster about security privacy and Secretary Clinton’s emails, to see national security policy play out as dinner theatre is completely beyond the pale.

How are our feelings about death, lately?

This is a thing?! My theory of dating (granted I’ve been out of the game for a decade) was that s/he who asks, pays. Full stop. Have the rules changed that much?

A piece from the New York Times about the rise and fall of celebrities at fashion week shows.

This interview with Kelly Cutrone on the state of the fashion industry is also a great read.

Gorgeous photos of a movement that I, for one, need to know more about.

NOPE. Also, if I’m a “host,” does that make any potential fetus a parasite? Careful what words you choose, people.

Into the Gloss tracked some of the best beauty looks from NYFW. I didn’t know I needed neon eye shadow, but suddenly I do. Intensely.

One of my “ones that got away” in terms of vintage or second hand buys is a leopard print coat that I to this day deeply regret not snatching up. Jenna Lyons is not helping my nostalgia.

All things considered this week, this news seems super not great.

The story of the assassination of North Korean dictator’s Kim Jong-un’s half brother gets more bizarre every day.

This post by the great and good Caroline Hirons is a nice catch up to some of the latest beauty launches, but her final paragraphs on blogging and having an opinion really caught my eye.

Here’s a nice, completely apolitical tale of humans being nice.

Album of the week: Life Will See You Now, by Jens Lekman