Tag: Politics

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.

Weekend Links

“But Sasha was from Russia, where the sunsets are longer, the dawns less sudden and sentences are often left unfinished from doubt as how to best end them.”
― Virginia Woolf, Orlando

One day after the president was praised to the skies for simply not acting like a narcissist or an uninformed jerk in public, we were right back to the crazy the next day with reports that the FBI is investigating the fact that the new Attorney General (and possibly more campaign officials and connections) also met with Russian officials in presumably shady circumstances. Business as usual in the brave new world.

Investigations need to happen, like yesterday. And my personal theory is that any investigation will quickly turn financial in nature, given the nature of the property and development businesses with which Mr. Trump has been involved all his professional life, and how it intimately it is tied to wealth movement and management of UHNWIs. Including Russian oligarchs. Things to, hypothetically, look forward to…

But in the meantime, I have a a bushel full of links for you, only a couple of which are political. Let’s call it a palate cleanser.

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This investigative piece in The New Yorker is required reading to understand the background and complexity surrounding questions of Russian influence in the election, and the political stage in the United States as it stands right now. This short segment on PBS Newshour is also a good summary.

10 out of 10 C.s would watch a Chaucer opera.

The Milo Yiannopolous story, in case you missed it.

Also in case you missed it, icon and all around lady boss Roxanne Gay pulled her book from Simon & Schuster when they initially planned to go ahead with Mr. Yiannopolous’ book. Now that S&S has dropped him, there was some discussion as to whether Ms. Gay would go back to the publisher. In characteristic style, she answered.

Was there ever a more SDS appropriate topic that this?! I say to you, nay!

Likewise, a quick scroll through my Instagram feed will confirm I’m a sucker for a shop cat or dog.

Beauty junkies, hearken! Sephora has announced a new annual subscription service to expedite shipping on orders, no matter how big or small. Were I stateside, I’d be on this like white on rice.

In more beauty news, the perpetual teases at Glossier teased the release of their next makeup product, which looks to be cream/water based blush. I forsee me begging my girls in the States to send me a bundle of products here shortly.

Michelle Lee, the EIC of Allure magazine accidently created a viral tweet that, I think, accurately represents most people’s online life these days.

THIS. A thousand times this. Mr. Trump is not a great manager, he has played a great manager for years and people have bought it.

Well…shit

Save the hedgehog. We need good things in the world, people!

Two years ago RadioLab ran a fascinating story on then-breaking research technology to edit genes. They recently published a follow up to this story that explores the leaps and bounds that have come in just two years of development and the potential (good and terrifying) for this kind of technology. Well worth a listen!

Gotta say, the “future liberals want” meme has been cracking me right up this week. I think it’s the best example of self-own I’ve seen in a long time. Have a scroll through your social media feed of choice and enjoy this one.

Album of the week: The Chirping Crickets, by the Crickets

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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How Do You Consume News?

“Why were you lurking under our window?”
“Yes – yes, good point, Petunia! What were you doing under our windows, boy?”
“Listening to the news,” said Harry in a resigned voice.
His aunt and uncle exchanged looks of outrage.
“Listening to the news! Again?”
“Well, it changes every day, you see,” said Harry.”
― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

As mentioned in an earlier post, I intentionally consume a lot of news; but occasionally I do try to step back and consider my habits. At this particular moment in British and American geopolitics there is so much happening and at such a fast pace that I have found myself trying to read more and more news on an increasing number of (vetted) platforms and relying on feeds to keep up instantaneously on coverage of a number of issues.

I don’t actually think this is healthy. For some people, perhaps, but right now, not for me. It’s not good for my focus, my productivity, or my heart rate. As someone who normally allows not a single notification alert option to be activated on any of her devices (with the exception of professional ones), I’m developing a curious compulsion to be kept up to the minute.

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But more critically, at this moment I don’t think it’s good at supporting my intention to be informed. Not every flashing “breaking new” graphic (and goodness, aren’t those causing heart palpitations) denotes a fully fleshed and well sounded story. I’m trying an experiment for the next few days where I’m going to be checking in on the news once in the morning and once in the evening and going cold turkey betwixt. My theory is that not only will this free up quite a bit of emotional energy it will give the media landscape time to present more and better connected facts to me. I’m curious to see if this will turn out to be the case or not.

But this left me wondering: how do you, faithful SDS loyalists, consume your news? Do you rely on feeds, paper subscriptions, digital subscriptions, emails from well meaning elderly relatives, or water cooler chatter? How often a day do you check in with your information streams? Have you dialed up your intake of news lately, or intentionally scaled back?

Out Like Flynn

“The problem with political jokes is that they get elected.”
– Henry Cate

This latest news story requires its own post, otherwise the Weekend Links update will be unreadably long. The still-breaking story about Gen. Flynn’s leaving the administration after an unprecedented 24 days is ongoing but at the moment…it’s a mess. It’s a bonkers, ridiculous, upsetting mess.

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Getting the timeline right still isn’t easy. By my count thus far…Kellyanne Conway has said Gen. Flynn resigned, but Press Secretary Spicer then said President Trump asked for his resignation. Spicer said Gen. Flynn was an internal issue for weeks, but President Trump last week told reporters he knew nothing of the DOJ’s or any report to the White House that the general was a potentially serious liability. Conway speaking yesterday for the WH says that the problem is that Gen. Flynn lied to VP Pence, but just two days ago said that the President had complete trust in the general, and Spicer again is now claiming that the WH knew about this issue (with the exception of the VP, apparently, who found out he was either deceived or misinformed following the story breaking). At the last press briefing, Spicer seemed to claim that no team member had contact with Russia during the campaign, which news sources seem to be contradicting this morning.

But in summary, as far as I can make out, the fundamental options seem to be that either the then-President-elect directed Gen. Flynn to have a conversation with the Russian ambassador discussing the possibility of easing sanctions when the new administration came to power, or Gen. Flynn did this on his own volition. Either option is against the law. We’re only talking orders of magnitude at this point.

At the last press briefing, Spicer seemed to claim that no team member had contact with Russia during the campaign, which news sources seem to be contradicting this morning. CNN is now reporting that aides for the first candidate then President-elect have been in routine communication with Russian officials for months. While not wholly unprecedented during a transition period between governments, the frequency of communications seems to have raised enough red flags to have the intelligence community alert both the sitting and in-coming presidents to the fact.

In summary again, either candidate/President-elect Trump knew both that these communications were happening–and that it was illegal or at the very least wildly inappropriate–and allowed them to continue, or he knew that it was happening but didn’t understand that it was illegal/inappropriate. Our options here are malice or incompetence.

Elected officials in general and Republicans in particular, if you think you can wait this latest scandal out, you are wrong. If after eight years of obstructing and scrutinizing an administration’s actions out of “principle,” you are suddenly unwilling to do the same now in the face of blatant incompetence and dangerous allegations of foreign collusion, you are lost as a political group. If you believe it’s more important to maintain party and partisan power than have a functioning, trustworthy, and respected government, you are unfit for office.

Congressional leadership seems to be (finally, cautiously) starting to critique the White House, but overall the response thus far from the president’s own party has been craven. Some of my own representatives have been among the worst offenders–looking at you, Rep. Chaffetz–and no one seems to be willing to be the first to stand up and say, “In the face of this many allegations, this many procedural missteps in executive action, and this level of dysfunction, I demand investigations.”

I have said it before, I will say it again. I am not cheering for President Trump to fail; I did not and do not want the stability of my government undermined. But I did not vote for him because I believed that he was a fundamentally unsafe character with unsound plans and unformed opinions/goals, based on unconstitutional principles, who would put unqualified or unvetted people into power alongside him, to chaotic effect. It’s taken less than a month for him to prove me right.

This is the result.