Tag: Politics

Weekend Links: VOTE

“Despotism, which in its nature is fearful, sees the most certain guarantee of its own duration in the isolation of men, and it ordinarily puts all its care into isolating them. There is no vice in the human heart that agrees with it as much as selfishness: a despot readily pardons the governed for not loving him, provided they do not love each other. He does not ask them to aid him in leading the state; it is enough that they do not aspire to direct it themselves. He calls those who aspire to unite their efforts to create common prosperity turbulent and restive spirits, and changing the natural sense of words, he names those who confine themselves narrowly to themselves good citizens.” – Alexis de Tocqueville The US midterms elections are next week and the news is appropriately…hectic. Oprah’s out knocking doors, and Trump is releasing racist ads and whipping up fear over a group of refugees over a thousand miles away. I have appreciated the viral moment from the gubernatorial debate between Mr. DeSantis and Mr. Gillum because I think it encapsulates a much bigger debate, and one I wish we would stop having. Much ink has been been spilled as to whether one person or political or another is racist. I think it is more useful to look at the company they keep. I care less than I used to whether Mr. Trump is personally racist or antisemitic. I know that self-avowed racists and antisemites think he is, or at least will protect them. I vote accordingly. If you’re a US citizen, make sure to cast your ballot this week. If there is one good thing coming out of this administration, it’s heightened engagement in our collective government. Last weekend capped a week of bigoted crimes and violence with an act of horrific antisemitism that took my breath away. Like anti-black racism, I was among the comfortable and stupid who assumed this particular bigotry was on the decline. I have been heartsick and ashamed to realize the shallowness and depths of that ignorance, and to watch it surge back into the mainstream. I do not hold Mr. Trump personally responsible for the acts of other people. I do hold him responsible for elevating nationalism, conspiracy thinking, and bigotry to as “acceptable” by either disregarding or failing to understand the importance of his office. He has deliberately normalized, cheered, and even politically accepted benefit from what it is his duty to denounce and hold at bay. I could extrapolate this to a lot of other party leaders as well who may not hold these views themselves, but are perfectly willing to capitalize on people who do. Too many people have winked or ignored what should not be ignored. Conspiracy theories are not harmless, words have consequences. He’s awful. I’m sorry, but he is. This seems like a good week to recall our first president’s words on and to the Jewish community in our newly formed republic. AGAIN. WORDS MEAN THINGS. I had a kneejerk reaction to this news, but I’m comforted by the knowledge that the actual Constitution cannot be amended by tweet or executive order. I think. Who knows any more. People are trash. (The internet being what it is, quite a lot of information started coming out from the person who really instigated the rumor mongering in the first instance. Mostly that he’s bad at faking stuff.) Surprise surprise, more trash people are potentially involved. Here’s a good summary of this bonkers news piece. An evergreen question: are they (all of the people in this orbit) bad geniuses or just lying, dumb, and lucky? Okay, let’s have a palate cleanser from the political news with this trailer which did not make me tear up in the slightest, no sir. One of the most important-to-me artists and albums. Cliche, maybe, but still true. This is too accurate… Summarizing our current political and cultural world through the lens of Kanye West, professional wrestling, and YouTube drama. Seriously. This piece at Politco offers some cold consolation: many celebrities of alt-right have not been able to ride the coattails of that popularity to true power and many are disillusioned with a president they once championed. These self-aggrandizing (mostly) men have inflamed some of the worst of our nation’s impulses and bigotries and enshrined malignant chauvinism and narcissism as the dominant force in our government…but sorry you lost your book deal! (/sarcasm) Oh, Venice! …This is…a headlineWhoops. A longer piece on exactly how we got…here (waves hands at world in general). Relevant to my London interests! Simone Biles is a badass. An evergreen statement, really, but doubly true this week. This headline! From the FT: we’ve got a waste crisis and we’re out of ways to hide from it or try to make it someone else’s problem. GIRL GANG GOOD NEWS MINUTE: https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

A Brief Addendum to an Awful Day

“We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at that moment – become the center of the universe.”
― Elie Wiesel

Weekend Links

“How pleasant to walk over beds of these fresh, crisp, and rustling fallen leaves…. How beautiful they go to their graves!”
—Henry David Thoreau, Diary, October 12, 1853

Wow. What a bad week on the news front, in a year of bad weeks. Domestic terrorism, racism, possible test balloons of anti-trans actions (which my cynical brain interprets as gross attempts to seize controls of headlines or a news cycle), conspiracy theories, acts of violence against people of color…well, let’s process that together in the comments. There are so many ongoing stories that may change and evolve more in the coming week, but it’s still be a disheartening one for the state of the US and parts of the world.

In MUCH happier news, one of my best friends friends is coming to visit us soon and I’ve been looking forward to this literally all year. She’s coming off the back of some brilliant news that I can’t share yet but will once I can because I’m so darn proud of her I could cry! On to the links and watch this space!

What an absolute shit show this has been to watch, and I’m heartsick at how no one will be held accountable in a meaningful sense. Fall guys taking a fall is not accountability. Failure to impose sanctions or really any kind of consequence is not accountability. Even the Crown Prince finally calling this act a tragedy and organizing a photo op with the son of the victim (who has since left the country) is not accountability.

This column by Sali Hughes on family estrangements, especially when necessary, hit me directly in the feels.

All hail our dark queen!

A primer for our times, fellow angry women.

A thoughtful piece of writing on the new awkward age for the modern woman: the mid-30s. Old stereotypes about aging and life accomplishments aren’t uniform and there are more choices for women than ever before, which means that the yardsticks we use to measure ourselves by can be confusing. This is an oft-explored topic in writing, but this piece felt very relevant and fresh to me…probably because I’m turning 33 next year. “At this age, it’s possible to be brand-new or old hat at the same thing. There’s no unanimity, and that can be awkward.”

Oh, my heart and childhood!

This, on the other hand, made me clutch myself and feel old.

I’m deeply interested in third-culture kid experiences, for obviously personal reasons.

What is happening in the panhandle of Texas, pray tell?

The corruption and mess continue unabated.

The administration is demonizing a small group of people currently in Central America and nearly two thousand miles away from our borders, but using them to whip up fear and nationalism in the run up to an election. It’s racist and it’s deplorable.

Meanwhile, the US armed forces are shaping the future of warfare. It’s just not in our official army.

The latest Dr Who episode is for our moment and yes, I cried.

A blunter take on the idea of biological clocks.

What weird and stupid times we live in.

Tell me again how scary it is to be a man these days. Go on. I dare you.

I’m pretty sure this is how every science fiction dystopia starts.

He’s awful, racist, and sometimes only semi literate:

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This is fucking scary.

It got worse on Thursday. And after a single statement about national unity, the President went straight back to attacking the media.

And it got worse on Friday when still more targets, including senators, received explosive devices. An arrest was made (thank god for law enforcement), leaving a lot of conspiracy theorist who had quickly advanced the idea of a “false flag” (that this was a fake incident drummed up by Democrats for sympathy before the election) having to delete their tweets or walk back their (insane) potions. “Outsmarted yourself” indeed, Rivera

And where were these people all radicalized, pray?

Absolutely vital reading: this six month investigation by the BBC.

The presidential twitter feed has been curiously mum on this. To be clear, I don’t think presidents have much to do with the stock market except in the macro and long term, but if you build your PR on the market rising, you own the PR of the market falling.

I believe it, but I’m petty as fuck right now.

This isn’t a “southern” thing or a “racist” thing (though god knows there are elements of racism baked into the core of it). This is a “party keeping itself in power and resorting to increasingly illiberal means to do so” thing.

Finally, let’s end on a nice note. I have learned a new, and highly relevant to me, word!

Weekend Links

“Our major obligation is not to mistake slogans for solutions.” 
― Edward R. Murrow

I have had a spectacularly unhealthy week. Between travel for work and events, I have been eating like crap and continuing my irregular sleep schedule. Not ideal!

We are still managing the hole-in-our-ceiling situation and sleeping in our living room, but I have a weekend of quality time with Jeff, long chats with friends, and hopefully some writing planned to make up for it. Tell me how you’re spending your weekend in the comments, and let’s review the week together in the links!

The facts around journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s now almost-certain assassination are grim, but it’s equally grim watching a president (seemingly at odds with many in his own administration) try to collaborate on an acceptable and blatant cover story. All of the positive photo ops with the Secretary of State, the President vouching for the Saudi’s ability to investigate themselves, and the reports in the public domain of regional and interested parties openly deliberating ways to apply financial pressure to members of the Trump administration make this so ridiculously suspect it feels like the plot of an extremely obvious and dated spy film. But it’s real life.

Mr. Khashoggi’s last, posthumous opinion piece in the Washington Post is worth a read, if for no other reason than to pay respect to a man who literally died for what he believed.

I feel like sooner or later I’m going to have to apply the same kind of “ethical” cost analysis to my food that I once did to my shopping…

Woof, I can’t look away from the Deciem story at this point. It’s bizarre.

Good idea, from a big picture perspective, but going to be extremely difficult to do.

Our society is screwed

The final lines of this piece are extremely telling in understanding the state of our technological development and why we keep getting into trouble about it.

This whole series on The Cut is just perfection.

It is unfathomable to me how this man has been allowed to NOT recuse himself from overseeing an election in which he is running. And some of his actions aren’t even under the radar.

I don’t need green boots, but goodness Sezanne makes me want them

Not in the least bit shocked.

Anne Thériault has another installment in Queens of Infamy! 

This judicial pipeline project has been known for years, but the more that is reported on it, the worse it looks.

This piece from the New York Review of Books sums up pretty much all of my political and social concerns rather well and grimly: “No matter how and when the Trump presidency ends, the specter of illiberalism will continue to haunt American politics. A highly politicized judiciary will remain, in which close Supreme Court decisions will be viewed by many as of dubious legitimacy, and future judicial appointments will be fiercely contested. The racial division, cultural conflict, and political polarization Trump has encouraged and intensified will be difficult to heal. Gerrymandering, voter suppression, and uncontrolled campaign spending will continue to result in elections skewed in an unrepresentative and undemocratic direction. Growing income disparity will be extremely difficult to halt, much less reverse…Trump is not Hitler and Trumpism is not Nazism, but regardless of how the Trump presidency concludes, this is a story unlikely to have a happy ending.”

Relevant to my October interests!

Mazel tov, you crazy kids.

The Cut is doing god’s work. What a series!

This shameful, racist shit is ugly. And it’s working on enough people, I’m disheartened to say

No matter how you lean politically, Mitch McConnell has just encapsulated the big issues of the election for a lot of voters. The tax cuts did not pay for themselves, and he does want to slash benefit programs. You either like this future or hate it. Vote as you please, but please vote, kittens.

McKay Coppins at The Atlantic drops another incredible longform profile on Newt Gingrich, delving into the man who laid the groundwork for our current political culture and believes that this is emphatically for the good.

 

Thank god for this random, sweet story from the Royal Tour. What on earth do we have the royals for if not this sort of heartwarming thing in the face of grossness?

Weekend Links

“. . . the newspapers of Utopia, he had long ago decided, would be terribly dull.” 
― Arthur C. Clarke, 2001: A Space Odyssey

Kittens! Friday is upon us!

A major hurricane has struck the Gulf Coast and Florida, a prominent journalist has been killed by (apparently) Saudi Arabian order, Princess Eugenie got married (wearing hella emeralds), the stock market is veering all over the place, and Taylor Swift is political now. Just another week in 2018…

Share your weekend plans with me in the comments. I’m still dealing with a collapsed ceiling and we have set up camp in the living room at the moment. It’s all very exciting and uncomfortable. Keeping a household running when you’ve lost a third of your living space and the rest has been compromised is not a walk in the park, believe me.

HIGHLY relevant to my interests, childhood and other wise.

I’m still not over the new direction of Celine.

This piece better articulates than I could ever could why the rise in social tensions (spearheaded by racist and sexist language and policy) are so frightening in the larger context of Western democracy: “…a leader can more easily create political and legal hierarchies if there are other social hierarchies.” Strongmen rise to power on the shoulders of men mobilized to hate and diminish marginalized groups.

How nationalist populism has been on the rise since the 1980s, and why it isn’t going away anytime soon.

This past week the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report on climate change was issued, and the takeaway is sobering. In terms of agricultural shifts, natural disasters, coastal region changes, and ecological damage, the scientific consensus is that we will begin tracking even more noticeable and rapid changes in the next twenty years. So, what will produce viable change? Virtue arguments about natural preservation have been only moderately effective in addressing climate change, I wonder if issues of human migration and economy are the only ways to frame the risks in ways that the current political reality will accept or engage. That doesn’t speak well of us as a species…

Friend of the Blog Caitlin Kelly wrote a reported, but also deeply personal piece for the New York Times on her experience with a scary medical scenario and the importance of touch in the medical profession.

I am so excited for this show.

Helena Fitzgerald writes for my soul.

This is a hell of a security breach to simply not tell anyone about for this long! We need to lose the narrative that big data is going to save anything, they are just as muddled as the rest of us.

Denials aside, insert the “she’s running” jokes here. Maybe not just yet, or maybe just for future Secretary of State, but she’s running for something.

I’d absolutely spend money on this.

Woof, this beauty news story keeps spiraling…

I argue the premise with this headline. The NYT story didn’t bomb, it’s relevant. Any under-reaction is further testament to the reality that rich people can get away with operating in the shades of gray because people, governments, and even law enforcement don’t care to look into the machinations and side effects of wealth in the same way that they want to police the side effects of poverty.

Hurry up and get here, already!

What an utterly bizarre article

Although, this piece thoughtfully explores, maybe being bizarre and over exposed is the point. It’s working. The president doesn’t have supporters in the old way, he has a fandom in the new. And the thing about fans is that they are, well, fanatic in their love. That’s the point.

Weekend Links

“There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.” 
― Elie Wiesel

Remember last week? Approximately thirty years ago?

My god, even in 2018-adjusted terms, this was a hell of a roller coaster and I’m having a hard time trying to put this post together when all I’ve been doing is working, watching the Kavanaugh hearings, and dealing with a fresh set of water leaks in our apartment in my “spare” time. I’m tired and I’m getting sick, which usually happens when the seasons change.

In happier news, a seasonal change means cold weather clothing, and I am ready! Don’t roll your eyes, kittens, in this day and age we need to take whatever trivial joys life gives us with both hands and run.

Here is an extra big heaping does of links for your weekend reading. I will just leave you with the following salute: I adore and am sustained by other angry women–in a way I find hard to explain to even my most sympathetic male friends. Angry women change worlds.

 

Glamour (going out of print, sob!) has a fantastic video series about how women at different salary levels spend their money. It’s interesting, insightful, and is a welcome resource. It’s alarming how little information was out there in terms of financial advice or context geared specifically towards women a few years ago, but I love content that redresses that balance. I really enjoyed their latest especially.

Deeply relevant to my interests and history.

This excellent story about obesity and how we as a society have failed on multiple levels (medically, scientifically, agriculturally, and culturally) to acknowledge and manage it is damning.

Men are cancelled.

The awful things Kavanaugh allegedly did only imperfectly correlate to the familiar frame of sexual desire run amok; they appear to more easily fit into a different category—a toxic homosociality—that involves males wooing other males over the comedy of being cruel to women.” POW. Right in the feels.

Wanting to be part of the solution requires knowing when you’re part of the problem.

What are we saying? What are our girls hearing?

Thank god for male allies. Though I will accept this rebrand.

THANK GOD FOR ANGRY WOMEN. To support the foundation that one of these brave souls serves as executive director, click here. Here’s to Senator Jeff Flake doing…the absolute bare minimum but thank goodness he is and at time of writing it appears there will be a (weirdly limited) investigation into allegations of poor behavior by Judge Kavanaugh. That is literally how these things are supposed to work: an accusation, and investigation, and a weighing of evidence. My cynicism suggests he will still be seated to the Supreme Court, however. Meanwhile, McKay Coppins of The Atlantic was there to snag the interview.

Literally saw this news alert at 9:30pm last night and logged off of everything but Netflix. There is simply too much happening too quickly

What some of the undercurrents of the 40-year mission to stock the courts with conservative justices look like and why.

This was an actual media event here in Britain while we’re debating how much sexual assault is TOO much sexual assault in the US.

In other men behaving badly news: Elon Musk.

And in businesses screwing up again: Facebook. Again. Oy.

What is the connection between Brexit and religion? You may be surprised!

A fantastic collection of photos–I’m struck at how incredibly American these shots look and feel. It feels poignant, especially given the circumstances.

The President gave a BONKERS hour and a half press conference, which I callously and cynically interpreted as a (slightly unhinged) attempt to grab control of the news cycle the next day…just in time for the Kavanaugh hearings and his much hyped meeting with Mr. Rosenstein. Which was subsequently cancelled, probably because of the Kavanaugh hearings.

Being bad at stuff.

I could be reading this wrong, but is the attitude towards climate change literally, “Well it’s happening and we’re all fucked so why change anything” here?

Long live Misty

Let’s talk about tea. (Editor’s note, this is not about tea.)

And finally, I had a bit of a grim realization this morning. Unlike in the Anita Hill hearings, the strategy was never to attack or discredit Dr. Ford, indeed many republicans said that they didn’t doubt her account exactly, they just doubted she was attacked by Brett Kavanaugh. Which is doubting her account. But no matter. They weren’t going to smear her, they were going to let her speak her piece…and then move on and appoint this man regardless. Yesterday I wrote a piece talking about the decision before us all as a society in this moment, not just with Kavanaugh but certainly typified by his hearings: are women acceptable collateral damage? It hadn’t fully hit me that the decision had been taken and the answer was yes. I am not sure what to do with this realization except to remind every last one of you to vote in the midterms. Confirm your registration today, inform yourself of your local ballot, and get ready.

A Woman’s Worth?

every woman in this pic tho pic.twitter.com/6Y2SvY4YlU

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The Kavanaugh hearings are a shit show but they do show what a corner certain parts of society have painted themselves into:

  • They’ve tried to argue, “it was a long time ago,” and lost the moral high ground because there is no expiration on decency
  • They’ve tried to argue, “even if it DID happen, he’s a good man,” and lost the moral high ground again because good men (and there are PLENTY OF THEM) don’t harass women
  • They’ve tried to argue, “the mistakes of youth shouldn’t follow people,” and lost the moral high ground for simultaneously holding opinions that young men and women who commit petty crimes or fall pregnant should have those choices follow them for the rest of their lives
  • They’ve tried to claim respecting women, and then got the highest office in the land to cast doubts and aspersions on the women who have come forward (almost all of them admitting fear of doing so, having seen what happened to Anita Hill and knowing how many of the EXACT SAME MEN will be questioning them in the same way).
  • They’ve tried to use the “drunken/slut/drunken slut” aspect…but women aren’t tolerating that shit any more.

There have been libellous accusations made on Twitter that cross the line into outright conspiracy theory. There is some evidence of coordination of smear tactics and commentary amongst allies (looking at you, Senator Hatch’s office). And even as more and more accusations of bad, crass, and increasingly ugly behavior piled up, the Senate seemed hell bent on trying to fast track his confirmation.

In other words…

The hearings have also underscored for me that if there’s anything people who benefit from a powerful structure can do, it’s ignore the corners.

Kavanaugh’s defense of himself was all the things that a woman, a person of color, or frankly any member of the non-patriarchy could never be: tearful, a bit petulant at having to defend himself in the first place (a textbook definition of privilege), indignant, and emotional.

Every male Republican senator who questioned him expressed sympathy for having to deal with the accusations. There were far fewer expressions of sympathy for Dr. Ford for her ordeal. Lindsey Graham seemed to be auditioning for a role on the Cabinet with a shrill explosion that interrupted Ms. Mitchel, the lawyer hired to question Dr. Blasley Ford and the nominee. The reigns were never really handed back, meaning that Dr. Blasley Ford was questioned by a trained lawyer, Judge Kavanaugh was questioned by his allies. The Cable News Watcher In Chief tweeted his support.

This whole story has been an exercise in patriarchy closing ranks in self defense. I have no doubt that there will be a committee vote today, and I expect he will be seated to the Supreme Court. In spite of a desperately partisan biases on display (on both sides, yes, but one has to wonder how his statements may come back to haunt him in his future rulings). In spite of credible questions of bad behaviour and poor judgement. In spite of it all.

At some point, the ruling party (and a whole lot of society) is going to have to make a decision: are women–their bodies and their stories, their truths and their needs–disposable or not? Is the safety and autonomy of girls and women worthy of defense and respect, worthy of holding powerful men to account and denying them advancement and prestige when they violate it?

Or are women’s bodies acceptable collateral damage on your route to power? If yes, fine. Own it. It’s misogyny, and it really is that simple.

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