Tag: Politics

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.

Late night rambles on the C-word

“I’ve been accused of vulgarity. I say that’s bullshit.” 
― Mel Brooks

Samantha Bee used the C word to describe Ivanka Trump this week on her show and, like unto Roseanne Barr, it caused something of a kerfuffle. More in the links post tomorrow.

But in the meantime, and while I have this on the brain, do you know what? I HATE the C word. Hate it. It’s slung around in the UK like loose change in a way I never experienced in the States, and I haven’t gotten used to it in five years. I still feel a full body cringe at its ugliness whenever someone uses it. If TBS chose to reprimand or punish Samantha Bee like ABC chose to do with Roseanne, I wouldn’t like it, but I’d grudgingly admit it’s the network’s prerogative to make that kind of call.

I similarly think it’s the NFL’s right to try and set certain boundaries the speech of its players. I further think that deliberately defying rules is literally the point of a protest so we’re not exactly comparing apples to apples. Nevertheless, the Twitter wars rage.

The difference between a comedian and a president is that one of those people is expected, even encouraged to be vulgar. The other, historically, is expected to set an example to the nation state. One is expected to set standards, the other to push boundaries.vWhich brings me to the broad point I can’t shake.

Anyone who tries to defend the current political administration (the target of the comment in the first place) with the claim that vulgarity (as opposed to racism, for instance) should cost someone their job needs to have an intellectually honest conversation about the dude in the White House and how he got there. He weaponized vulgarity and rode it all the way to Pennsylvania Avenue.

You do not get to cheer a man who kicked off his political life by calling Mexican immigrants rapists, has a history of sexual assault allegations, and been caught on tape bragging about grabbing women by their “pussy,” and then cry foul when an entertainer uses foul language towards one of his administration officals. One side does not get to say that Roseanne Barr’s statements on her twitter feed, filled with antisemitism and conspiracy theories, are jokes and then turn around and say that an unfriendly comedian’s jokes are beyond the pale.

Pick a lane. Either offensive jokes are acceptable more broadly or they are not. If you insist on your side’s right to be offensive, you should in turn be prepared to buckle up and be offended right back.

Here’s the thing. I believe wholeheartedly that the overall coarsening of our culture and public discourse is not a good thing. We’re all worse off for it. But spare me the moral hand wringing if your whole ethos and political strategy is built around “triggering” other people. These are your rules, it’s your game, and you’re in charge. Either toughen up and take what you sling out, or do your best to claw back the moral high ground if you can.

But to say that systemic and historically racist speech and vulgar speech are on par is a false equivalence. Both are bad. Both may incur consequences on the speaker. But one traditionally operates from the vantage point of power which could be interpreted as punching down, while the other is “punching up.” Ugly language may be frowned on but as a society we agree that there are places where it’s appropriate or at least acceptable. Antisemitism on the other hand, is not welcome. Unless you agree that there are “fine people” who believe in it.

Here. Someone smarter than me said it better.

Weekend Links

“Every person needs to take one day away.” 
― Maya Angelou, Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now

It’s a long weekend this week and I took an extra day off for my first holiday time since Christmas so links are landing early, kittens. Forgive the short intro, but I’m on break mode!

Scene of the crime.

This take on the Duchess of Sussex’s wedding dress was my favorite. Her evening reception frock was a lovely, lovely number as well!

Yay, heraldry!

One last take on the Royal Wedding from the great and good Linda Holmes.

This man was not prepared for the replies to his tweet.

It’s the guns.

Much surprise, such shock, wow.

More shock. This is one hell of a FARA violation. 

Yet more shock. (ETA: he might not know what he’s talking about. Super shocking.)

Yet more shock still. Such a shocking week this has been. Please read this and the past four links in a devastatingly monotone voice.

We live in such weird times

I have to stop falling in love with brands. One will always break your heart. The Deciem weirdness continued this week.

Speaking of skincare, though, this is 100% how I lured Jeff in.

Also this week in awful, an organisation with almost 100% white ownership and a 70% black workforce told its members that they couldn’t engage in certain acts of civic protest over police brutality. I refer of course, to the NFL. There is some hope, however.

They may have a different version of the truth than we do.” This year’s version of “alternative facts.”

ARE THERE NO HEROS LEFT?! Also Weinstein has turned himself in on rape charges. Good.

Two bad ICE stories in the news. Both horrifying.

Here, something good in the world.

Good dog.

#RepealTheEighth

I’m not dwelling overly long on the various political dramas of the White House week, but I’m conflicted about that choice. Because in part I think that it means the perceived tactic of this White House is working: they are sowing so much chaos, unreliable information, or outright conspiracy theories that it’s almost impossible to land any kind of blow on them no matter how necessary. The president is in tone (and who knows, I’m typing this on Wednesday, this could total expand by the end of the week) suggesting that the FBI planted evidence against him. This is farcical. He’s tried this tactic before, claiming that the game was rigged against him and his messaging was rather thrown off course when he actually won the election. Meaning that the long term scheme was for the government to plant a spy in his organization to gather information that they didn’t release while simultaneously investigating his opponent’s campaign organization and holding press conferences about that, so that he would win the election to install an administration of his own supporters….to then start undermining him?

The alternative option on this Occams Razor edge is that at some point Mr. Trump or people around him came to FBI attention due to the various shady dealings in his business past. But hey, why be simple when you can start another conspiracy theory. The president lies constantly and no one cares.

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Oops. I dwelt.

Weekend Links

And we’ll never be royals
It don’t run in our blood
That kind of luxe just ain’t for us
We crave a different kind of buzz
– Lorde

Another long week, kittens, but the weekend is upon us and on Saturday we are setting up shop on my mate Chris’s terrace to watch Royal Wedding 2.0. We like to think we represent the rowdy and awkward colonist cousin contingent. The news is terrible again this week, so excuse me while I enjoy a little basic pageantry.

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“History” is so much closer to us than most people realize.

We’re getting a new princess/duchess this weekend and she’s quite deft in managing her own style straight out of the gate.

She’s marrying into a strange family, but she’s from a strange family…and truly, aren’t we all?

Oh man, I added this on Monday and things are already getting weird.

ETA, its only Wednesday and I’m grossed out by the whole news cycle around Ms. Markle’s family and their shenanigans. Sali Hughes says it better than me.

ETA again, it’s Friday and this woman is clearly controlling her own messaging straight out of the gate. More power to her. I would never want the life she’s choosing, so I hope this is a signal of being able to set terms and boundaries that will make the requirements of her new role manageable for a person who may chafe under cultural expectations she was not raised with or born to. Good luck, future-presumable-duchess. I’m rooting for you!

The annual Tiny Desk Contest winner performs!

EIC of Vox, Ezra Klein argues the republic has faced worse than Mr. Trump…but also argues as sure as he is about this, he’s not 100% sure.

Whatever your opinion on the move, the difference in the photography is pretty striking. Also…people are dead.

Actively bad news from Jeff’s home state. This newsroom JUST won a Pulitzer.

Oh dear. I have long lusted after Lisa Eldridge’s jewels and now this?

Yanni v. Laurel.

Quick question, when does Ronan Farrow sleep?

Wow…this is quite a statement from the bishops.

The marketing team for this is very, very good.

Speaking of religious news, there was a Mormon news story this week that needs some unpacking. An elaborate fake message, designed to look like an official statement of apology for the church’s racism, briefly blew up on social media before being exposed. Zealous and pious mormons decried the fake news making the church look bad, zealous and irreverent exmormons gleefully opined at the twists and turns the organization was having to make to explain that they weren’t in fact apologizing for past racism. For those not in the know, the LDS church forbade the ordination of black men to the priesthood and the participation of black members in services and ceremonies in mormon temples (which are considered essential to salvation, so…). The most succinct take on why this whole story is gross, regardless of your religious beliefs, can be found here.

It’s been fascinating to watch the party of “law and order” turn on law enforcement.

And a developing story, but another heartbreaking school shooting has taken place. Details are still coming out so I won’t say more than: enough.

Weekend Links

“Maybe you guys should ah, get a sense of humor and try it sometime… but, ah, he simply made a joke.”
-Sarah Huckabee Sanders, October 10, 2017

Woof, the news this week again should have lasted us a month, but it’s 2018 and the space time continuum doesn’t make sense anymore. Between Rudy Giuliani, that weird doctor, the ongoing issues with porn stars, another shake up to the president’s legal team, leaks of questions in the Mueller probe, and Kanye West, I JUST CAN’T. I didn’t even reference most of these stories in the links because at time of writing, the news is flying so fast that anything I post will likely be invalid within ten minutes. I will say that unless the plan is to simply declare that Mr. Trump is above the law (and let’s face it, that doesn’t feel beyond the realm of possibility), Mr. Giuliani isn’t striking me as a particularly good lawyer right out of the gate…

It’s Bank Holiday weekend here in the UK and I’m logging off for a good while to celebrate. Share your weekend plans with me in the comments!

The “furor” over the White House Correspondents Dinner exhausted me. Organization hires comedian to roast the media establishment including those in the room, comedian does that job, establishment who offered invitation and knew what the job entailed wrings hands at being roasted. Side helping of virtue signalling from those who have either turned a blind eye to or actively participated in the coarsening of our public discourse by defending the most coarse and crass person in it: the actual man in charge–who coincidentally spent the evening ranting falsehoods about said establishment to his base. Spare me. She did her job and the performance of disappointment over it is annoying.

ETA. Ha, all we had to do was wait a couple of days to be reminded that Ms. Sanders is either badly out of the loop in her own place of work or willfully misleading the press. Either of which makes her badly placed to do her job and probably not deserving of a huge heap of defense.

I was a child bride who got married before the world of Tinder and I routinely joke that if Jeff dies young on me, god forbid, I’m calling it. Done. I’ll buy fourteen cats and be done with the world, because the world of dating just seems cripplingly complicated to me.

Or I could just schedule an appointment with this woman. What a story!

We can’t win.

Everyone has a problematic fave. (ETA: good lord, Kanye, shut up.)

Busy Phillips, meanwhile, is a non-problematic fave who we should enthusiastically support!

Okay, what do we mean when we say toxic masculinity? Believe it or not, there are actual organized “movements” or “tribes” who embody and proselytize for institutionalized misogyny. The “incel” subgroup has been getting some attention (finally) and its online presence is both horrifying and morbidly fascinating to read about because it so ugly and so blatant of its ugliness. There needs to be a lot more attention towards the radicalization of young men online across the world and across ideologies; people are dying from it.

Speaking of, let’s discuss some of the terminology of this movement. Let’s also dwell on its idealized version of femininity and how I’m pretty sure it doesn’t exist in nature…

WOW, bad optics.

Someday bad editing from this administration will tweet us right into a war.

WHO ASKED FOR THIS?!

These drawings are incredible.

How does this man still have a job?

The analytics company is deadlong live the analytics company?

Yes, for the love of god, stop doing this.

Also, stop writing pieces like this. Just stop. Everything about this is dreadful and makes me want to scream into the howling void.

The only redemption, and it’s cold comfort, is the twitter jokes.

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And possibly this Twitter rebuttal.

Wow, memories of this hysteria are flooding back.

Time. Is. Up.

Weekend Links

“He knows nothing; and he thinks he knows everything. That points clearly to a political career.” 
― George Bernard Shaw, Major Barbara

We’ve had a month of news in a week.

The royal baby has a name (Louis!), Kanye West had a meltdown (again!), and ABBA is reuniting for the first time in three decades (what?!). North and South Korea had a pretty dramatic meeting, the president of France played good cop with President Trump and tough cop with Congress, Dr. Ronny Jackson’s professional reputation (rightly or wrongly) was unmade in about 48 hours because everyone Mr. Trump touches seems affected by his anti-Midas properties, and Mr. Trump actually had to be politely shooed off of Fox News when he shot off at the mouth for too long.

Here are you links, kittens, let’s catch up in the comments.

I look forward to the Lifetime Original Movie.

Is anyone truly stylish in the age of the algorithm?

Restorative, conservationist farming is an option? You bet!

What a story

Apology after damn apology.

Royal baby news this week, and hey, who does like babies?!

Why no, I’m NOT sick of thought pieces about Beyonce yet.

This take from Vox, that the fantasies of a dramatic and corrective end to the Trump presidency are delusional and unhelpful, feels horribly correct. I am still standing by my wager that Trump will probably not last a full term. On the other hand, I now suspect that if he does, he’ll probably be reelected. “Ending the Trump presidency will not fix, or even substantially ameliorate, most of the problems plaguing the American political system. They were mounting for years before he took office — indeed, they made him possible — and they will continue to plague us for years after he leaves.

Meanwhile, over at Politico, a former Clinton aide makes the point I was trying to make last week much more articulately, “There is no telling the damage one can do in a republic when you mistake your will to do good with an authority to do what you judge to be right.”

Roxanne Gay’s Unruly Bodies series has been intense to read and her latest own personal essay is definitely worth a read.

Janelle Monae dropped a visual album and it’s a stunner!

First Lady Melania Trump was in command of the first State Visit for the President of France and she did a meticulous and stylish job. I wonder if this signals a more high profile role for her, as she’s been very low key to this point. In the more traditional mode of a first lady, through style and entertainment in the role of hostess of the nation, she may be an as yet untapped asset to the administration which badly needs some kudos where it can get them.

The Toronto van attack story is awful, but there are some positive aspects like the fact that the officer was trained in and able to deescalate the situation in a genuinely heroic way. Alternatively, I’m not surprised at all to read that a crisis of masculinity and hostility to women may have been a factor.

This memorial opened and kicked me in the gut. There is so much ugliness and wrong to redress.

Speaking of…NFL owners would really like people to stop kneeling for the national anthem. Doesn’t sound likely.

WORDS CANNOT EXPRESS HOW MUCH I HATE THIS.

Angry women have the answers.