“In the land of the ostriches, the blind are king. When politicians bury their head in the sand, ignorance rules the country.
― Erik Pevernagie
Darlings, another Friday is upon us! As usual I’ve put together a melting pot of news and pop culture for your weekend reading and am dropping it before anything else upends the news cycle. This has been an unexpectedly busy week for me and I am looking forward to the weekend. I have a weeklong series coming to you starting tomorrow which I hope you enjoy. It’s a bit of a new thing for me, so while I’m sure it will be flawed, I hope it will still be fun.
Share your favorite pop culture finds and weekend links with me in the comments!
Mr. Manafort’s trial kicked off this week, filled with ostrich leather jackets and sleazily moving money all over the world and all principles stealing from one another in the process. There are no heroes here.
As of Monday, this is the story and the timeline. Let’s see what happens this week as to whether it shifts…or falls out of the collective public consciousness. Whatever happens, it’s yet another narrative shift on this point and what’s already in the public domain is damning. Or would be if it weren’t 2018 and all of us in the upside down.
Ah good old Nunes, always saying the stuff that’s supposed to be secret out loud. I predict zero consequences.
Interesting. I’m not sure how seriously to take the claims in the lawsuit, and here is some more reporting for additional information, but it is interesting. Let’s send them some thoughts and prayers. (ETA: yeah, this is why I doubt this claim)
Would you eat lab-grown meat? If you don’t eat meat for ethical reasons of any kind, would lab grown meat feel different to you? I’m genuinely curious.
Asking the smart questions: why does the media keep giving this man a platform?
Speak of men and their platforms, Alex Jones lost a chunk of his this week. This was a rolling story, but the most intellectually interesting piece I read on it came on the first day of the fallout. As one tech writer for the New York Times put it, “Facebook follows Apple in banning Infowars, giving up the game after weeks of sanctimonious lectures about free speech. This was always about being too scared to go first.”
I was utterly entertained and charmed by this story.
This op ed by a farmer was particularly interesting to me because of the line, “The world markets, which the president is now tearing down in the name of fairness, were built and paid for by farmers to ensure agriculture had outlets for our production so we didn’t have to come to the American taxpayer for support.” The word “fairness” stuck out to me because the same day I read this piece by a NPR political reporter on the notions that Mr. Trump seems to have around the idea of “fairness,” and how it (and its counterpart, grievance) have informed his decisions in office.
Another op ed that feels relevant. If you want people to stop flirting with socialism, you need to make capitalism more attractive as an option. We can argue theory until the cows come home, but people don’t turn on systems unless they feel that system has let them down in some way.
Climate change is here, people. It’s not a single cataclysmic event, it is a permanent change in probability and statistical likelihood of certain weather patterns.
An important element of today’s American political landscape is the almost systematic loss of experience in our Congress. This is not a Trump era problem alone and it probably has its nascence in the 1990s and the rise of hyper-partisanship, but this Politico piece delves into what this loss of institutional knowledge and procedure is turning out to mean for the country, practically. I think there is a good case to be made about our congresspeople increasingly not knowing how to govern.
The September issues are starting to drop and the covers are gorgeous. Beyonce, Rhianna, Lupita, Christy Turlington Burns, pregnant women, power couples…my god, I’m buying all of them!
Ryan Shrugged, the title of (what should be) his autobiography
Shock, surprise, Omarosa turns out to be a pop culture and reality TV show villain. Whomever could have predicted it…
“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?
“After all, the best part of a holiday is perhaps not so much to be resting yourself, as to see all the other fellows busy working.”
― Kenneth Grahame,
Guys, it’s my last officially day of holiday (weekends are just lovely bonuses) so I’m dropping the links post early. I’m spending the day reading, writing, and generally goofing off.
My second week of holiday did not include a glamorous vacation, but it DID include fantastic calls and chats with friends, some insanely good vintage shopping, a bit of a health reset, and general errand running. It’s been a very good break. Let’s catch up on the week that was together, shall we?
Even by 2018 standards, this week’s political news was nuts. In one week, President Trump destabalized the NATO alliance, trashed and undermined a key ally, legitimized and supported an adversarial leader, and disputed the analysis of his entire intelligence community on the world stage. The statements at the joint press conference in Helsinki were so bad that his team had to spend a day in the Situation Room to develop a media clean up operation and the best they could come up with was the claim that the president misspoke…a claim which he managed to bungle further by ad libbing statements that basically mirrored the ones that got him in hot water in the first place.
I’m completely unsure what to say about this week’s political news that isn’t uselessly “shouty.” I don’t expect to be able to convince anyone who thinks the administration’s sloppy summit, sloppy attempts clean up, and internal consistency problems are acceptable that they aren’t. that ship has sailed. But if some of the more extreme parts of the internet are already road testing the idea that “it’s fine for Russia to have interfered because a democratically elected opponent who I disagree with would have been worse,” then I genuinely fear for the next few years of the country.
The tacit agreement between Mr. Trump and the GOP (they wink at his outrageous behavior and probable personal enrichment in exchange for getting their legislation signed) has worked domestically. It’s breaking down spectacularly internationally. At some point, they will have to make a call as to whether or not this bargain continues to be worth it. Conscious tool, or useful idiot doesn’t matter if both options are awful for the country.
The July 17th episode of The Weeds is fairly measured and thoughtful discussion on the wider situation with the President and Russia, and what the actual range of potential issues are ranging from outright kompromat to the (far more probably and likely) that both parties have kind of ended up in this situation through a years’ long series of events and relationships that neither party dreamed would end up where it has.
Out of curiosity, how dumb does does the White House think the rest of the world is? It is absurd to say that the president misspoke one word in one line and take that explanation at face value, when he’s been parroting the same lines for years at rallies, in interviews, at (rare) press conferences, and across his Twitter feed. Here, the NPR Politics desk breaks this story down.
Finally, the New York Times published a pretty amazing article claiming that the president was briefed on the intricacies of the Russian operation to spread disinformation well before his inauguration, and also claiming information from sources connected to the Russian president himself. Which makes Mr. Trump’s continued muddying even stranger and frankly suspect. Here’s the thing, since the beginning of this investigation, I haven’t thought it likely that Mr. Trump ordered “collusion” or cooperation with foreign governments during the election (I believe his business ties to Russian oligarchs are of far more interest and a potential source of opinion influsence). I think it’s far more likely that people around him may have done so more blatantly, the question being was Mr. Trump aware of it and to what extent. But he certainly makes things worse for himself at almost every turn. He’s made the Mueller investigation personal when its remit is Russian interference in the election and not Mr. Trump; if he stopped tweeting about it, it wouldn’t get nearly as much airtime. He goes on stage and flatters the dictator who his own intelligence community says is waging information warfare. He flounders his own half-hearted corrections. He has connected the idea of his presidency being legitimate to Russian interference. He’s a walking self created crisis.
With my past work in the property industry, I am fascinating by reporting into this aspect of the Trump Organization. What property it’s bought, how, and with whose money. This piece on his investment in the Turnberry golf property is particularly interesting for all of those reasons.
I am very curious to follow this pilot project, as there is very interesting research about there about the positives and negatives about this concept. It’s one I support in theory but want some real world evidence on.
A deep dive into the decision by the Obama administration to not make a bigger deal, either internally or internationally, of presumed election interference. Interesting that they use the same excuse as Mr. Comey: the best of the bad options. In both instances, I’m not sure I agree.
Royal watchers have a jewel-based theory about the Queen’s inner workings on Mr. Trump’s recent visit. It’s an entertaining thread if nothing else.
In related news, oh please, you narcissistic windbag.
British politicians aren’t in the clear here. I present you this story of “things getting out of hand.”
They fill the stage and that’s not even all of them. Their bravery is inspiring.
“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”
― Augustine of Hippo
We’re back from Prague and what a joy it was to have a break from the news…but what a week it was. Between threatening the NATO alliance, praising the NATO alliance, trashing the British Prime Minister in an exclusive interview to a tabloid, being unwilling to answer questions about that interview when he visited the PM’s house the next day and walking back his statements, and messing up protocol when visiting the Queen….President Trump…honestly, he met my expectations. All of this bullshit and nonsense is absolutely par for the course. Can you image Prime Minister May touching down in the US and criticizing the President’s trade war with China from a podium in the Rose Garden, while opining that Speaker Ryan (or for the sake of argument, Secretary Clinton) really would have been a preferable president? No, because that would be INSANE.
The curve this man is graded on continues to astound me. I take refuge in the protests to confirm that not everyone is letting him get away with it.
Meanwhile we have a Supreme Court nomination who cut his teeth in the Ken Starr investigations and has some interesting ideas about how presidents can or cannot be held legally accountable while in office, former FBI agent Peter Strzok gave the most full throated rebuttal of the Deep State conspiracy theorist trash of anyone actually in or formerly in the government (which is sad and which I think is part of the reason that the oversight committee has not, at least at time of writing, asked the other party in the Sexting Scandal Lisa Page to testify publicly), and the Mueller investigation just handed down more indictments and have now formally laid out specifically how the Russian government took action to attempt to affect the 2016 elections (the documents are worth reading). And finally, the president once again used racist and enthno-nationalist dog whistles throughout.
And England lost their World Cup match. UGH.
Sometimes I ponder how much power Senator McConnell has wielded and to what ends, and I want to punch something. Then I donate to a cause a I care about and encourage people to register to vote and feel a tiny little bit better.
A bit of statistical analysis on the president’s statements over the past two years, given his recent running off at the mouth.
If you know anything about the relationship between American Evangelical and Mormon communities, this is incredibly funny.
Oh Henry Cavill, I want to root for you and then you shoot off at the mouth like this…
This unexpected benefit of Britain’s heat wave delights me!
Whatever you opinion on the actual subject, Brexit arrangements are a trainwreck in slow motion.
Later the same day, holy shit. This is a bloodbath as politicians scramble to not be holding the hot potato when it hits, to mix my metaphors.
As a military brat with three generations of military service in my family, this enrages me and should enrage more of us.
More diversity in romance novels, thanks!
I appreciate the gesture, but there are also a lot of much more recent killings of black men and women who deserve additional resources and attention. This murder was a landmark event in American society and is one of the sparks of the organized Civil Rights movement and deserves an ending…but so do many more ordinary men and women. Black Lives Matter turns five this week, by the way.
Oh Roger Stone…always saying the quiet parts loudly.
A nice archaeology story to break things up a bit.
Maddening. Maddening and bad.
Were we asking for this, friends? I’m unsure.
Yes, I definitely struggle with this concept more than I should or want to.
“The erosion of the division between public and private has been coming for a while now.” If you’ve been following the gross “Planebae” story and it’s aftermath, this piece is required reading about the scary new reality where everyone, everywhere is a public figure now, and what the consequences of that may be.
And finally, 50,000 people were expected to protest Donald Trump’s visit to the UK. According to the Evening Standard, 250,000 showed up.
Let’s end with a good news story:
Got on Jubilee Line. Sat down. Doors close. Frantic banging on window. Manic dad with cute daughter. Look at empty seat. Find bunny. Very cute bunny. Train moves. Get off at next stop and hope dad is logical. Next train arrives. Dad, daughter and bunny reunited. Joy. pic.twitter.com/mgxWdD1LcJ
— MARK A IZATT (@markaizatt) July 13, 2018
“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.”
― F. Scott Fitzgerald,
What another week of news, and once again I can’t keep up–but we’ll do our best to recap along the way. We are past the Fourth of July and therefore officially into summer. I have switched to my “summer” sunglasses (aviators), purchased a linen shirt (which I duly report back on in my next shopping update), and all my drinks are iced. Consider me ready for the season.
I’ve put together a list of (mostly) poppy and fun links for your reading pleasure and I’m going to try and get a few additional posts together because I am officially on holiday! Jeff and I are going off to explore a new city neither one of us have been too, and I am going to do my best to try and unplug from work. Historically, I am TERRIBLE at this. (It doesn’t help that there’s an awful lot going on, a new contract to move into, and annual budget season to contend with…and shut up, C., you’re not helping yourself!)
Filing this under things I didn’t realize weren’t already federal crimes.
Noted and worthy beauty blog Temptalia breaks down the recent launch of the latest “big” brand and one, for a change, I have no interest in at all.
Good riddance, it’s a miracle he lasted as long as he did with that much scandal and bad behavior just…out there.
Long live the battle queens of the internet.
This piece from Slate hit me so hard this week that it actually took a full day to process. This passage deserves a block quote:
I am sad, above all, because the damage being done now no longer feels like it can be stemmed—let alone reversed—with a single election. This will last decades. The downturns my generation has already weathered—the 2008 crisis that hinged on obscure derivatives traded by a privileged few, robbing wealth from millions—were only the beginning. Education is now a luxury. Pensions barely exist. Health care is under threat. Retirement is, to those my age, a cruel joke. We’ve been waiting. For recovery, for relief, for some semblance of an American dream we can access.
It is clear, now, that there was nothing to wait for. In the time we’ve been waiting, the rich have only gotten richer and angrier and whiter, but it will never be enough for them. The good-faith ideological battle some thought right and left were waging turned out to be no such thing: Modern conservativism was never about small government. Or personal liberty—for women and people of color, anyway. It wasn’t about fiscal responsibility: The GOP passed a tax plan that has blown up our national debt, which is projected to reach 78 percent of America’s GDP by the end of this year, the highest it’s been since 1950. And Republicans are still not happy. They will pretend that this crisis they created will require “sacrifices,” gutting services poor Americans desperately need, like health care. The poor and disadvantaged will die.
Meanwhile, those in power will celebrate how much they deserve their wealth and how little anyone else deserves.
“It is easy to decide on what is wrong to wear to a party, such as deep-sea diving equipment or a pair of large pillows, but deciding what is right is much trickier.”
― Lemony Snicket,
I’m on birthday leave, kittens, let’s get straight to the links!
The objectification of men and masculinity is a tricky but real subject for conversation.
Sheku Kanneh-Mason, AKA the internet’s new boyfriend, has been a delight to discover. Let him and Bob Marley bless your ears this day.
Interesting. But let’s pick this up in six years, shall we?
You know what? Credit where it’s due to a guy who realized that he was part of the problem and owned it in public (after that awful NYT interview). This is what complacency and complicity looks like in real life, and it’s good to be reminded of the fact. Most accomplices to toxic or sexist workspaces are not Jeffrey Tambor, most are Jason Bateman. Let’s know better and do better.
Another deep dive profile for the ever reliable McKay Coppins at The Atlantic, this time on White House aide Stephen Miller and what the culture of trolling has to do with where is based today. I’d genuinely like sociologists and experts to do more writing and speaking on what the long term effects of trolling as professional or political strategy may be. Coppins points out that the difference between provocateur comments for the sake of being “edgy” and outright racism have effective blurred in many area and that studied irony and sincerity are near impossible to tell apart on some forums. There has to be some kind of study on what this mentality does to a society.
I will read the crap out of this book.
Important reminder that by most standards, the world is getting better. But also a reminder than progress isn’t inevitable.
Immigration has been in the news lately and with good bloody reason. Vox has a (policy based!) take on how the Department of Justice is reshaping the immigration debate and system in a way that will have long term ramifications.
There are solid pieces of advice in this reddit thread.
A comprehensive overview of the coverage and surrounding issues for the ICE stories in the news this past week.
Where? Point me to these women? I sure as hell don’t know any of them. And to give them all due credit, the vast majority of millennial men I know are supportive of their partners who do out-earn them. As Jeff put it to a coworker who queried this exact subject in our own marriage, “Who the hell is mad about more money?!”
Our dispatch from the Mormon world this week is not religiously based, but says something interesting (I feel) about men who feel increasingly displaced in society–which is a valid academic and social discussion to have–and what some of them want in response to gender dynamic changes–namely, the right to rule again.
“A lot of people really want to believe a conspiracy because it’s a lot easier to think a malevolent force is in charge than that our government is run by idiots.” This piece is an intense read, or would be in normal times. In any other age, a confirmed and avowed conspiracy theorist of this caliber would not hold the office he holds, or have the capacity to damage/shift narrative the way he does.
These photos of the fading remains of WWI are powerful.
The cancellation of Roseanne was a hot topic this week, but this take from Variety resonated most with me. Roseann Barr has been a controversial figure (and overtly racist/conspiracy theorist tweeter) for a long time. ABC knew that when they hired her. They still gave her a show. I’m glad there are consequences to this kind of speech, unless you’re running for president or something, but it feels like they’ve taken away something she should never have been given in the first place
I’m convinced every woman has SOME kind of story that she has had to go over, review in her own mind, and re-contextualize over time. Was it me? Should I have done this differently? Am I at fault? It’s a funny story…right?
Oh J. Crew, will you win me back? Time will tell!
And finally, this whole YouTube series about how the Alt Right uses language as a tool and a weapon is fascinating listening.
“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!
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.
These drawings are incredible.
How does this man still have a job?
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.
If we start calling people without money “inpoors” will conservatives write articles about how we should redistribute wealth against the will of rich people, I’m looking for an upside here
— Tim Pratt (@timpratt) May 3, 2018
— Caspar Salmon (@CasparSalmon) May 3, 2018
Wow, memories of this hysteria are flooding back.