Politics

Politics

What Americans Do Now Will Define Us Forever

Adam Serwer, writing at The Atlantic:

In the face of a corrupt authoritarian president who believes that he and his allies are above the law, the American people are represented by two parties equally incapable of discharging their constitutional responsibilities. The Republican Party is incapable of fulfilling its constitutional responsibilities because it has become a cult of personality whose members cannot deviate from their sycophantic devotion to the president, lest they be ejected from office by Trump’s fanatically loyal base. The Democratic Party cannot fulfill its constitutional responsibilities because its leadership lives in abject terror of being ejected from office by alienating the voters to whom Trump’s nationalism appeals. In effect, the majority of the American electorate, which voted against Trump in 2016 and then gave the Democrats a House majority in 2018, has no representation.

Why Won’t Twitter Treat White Supremacy Like ISIS?

Joseph Cox and Jason Koebler, writing at Motherboard:

In separate discussions verified by Motherboard, that employee said Twitter hasn’t taken the same aggressive approach to white supremacist content because the collateral accounts that are impacted can, in some instances, be Republican politicians.

The employee argued that, on a technical level, content from Republican politicians could get swept up by algorithms aggressively removing white supremacist material. Banning politicians wouldn’t be accepted by society as a trade-off for flagging all of the white supremacist propaganda, he argued.

Democrats Are Hoping You Don’t Understand What “Impeachment” Entails

Alex Pareene:

Democrats who preemptively declare impeachment off the table are mistakenly (or intentionally) conflating one possible end result of the impeachment process for the process itself. The Republican members of Congress who voted to open an impeachment inquiry into Nixon’s conduct didn’t necessarily want it to end in his removal from office; even up until his resignation it was an open question whether there were enough votes in the Senate to remove him. They were trying to get at the truth about the administration’s actions, and using impeachment to gather evidence. (They didn’t even limit themselves to Watergate. The committee eventually also voted on whether to impeach Nixon for the illegal bombing of Cambodia and for failure to pay taxes.)

All of this.

‘Transgender’ Could Be Defined Out of Existence Under Trump Administration

The New York Times:

The Trump administration is considering narrowly defining gender as a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth, the most drastic move yet in a governmentwide effort to roll back recognition and protections of transgender people under federal civil rights law.

I am constantly left speechless by just how cruel and fucked-up this administration is. If you’re feeling helpless, you can donate to the Trans Lifeline if you’re able, and this thread from Parker Molloy is a good read.

New Tariffs Causing Hell for Synthesizer Manufacturers

Donald Trump’s new tariffs are going to be horrible for synthesizer manufacturers. The company behind the the Moog synthesizer has posted an open letter on their website:

A U.S. tariff (import tax) on Chinese circuit boards and associated components is expected to take effect on July 6, 2018.

These tariffs will immediately and drastically increase the cost of building our instruments, and have the very real potential of forcing us to lay off workers and could (in a worst case scenario) require us to move some, if not all, of our manufacturing overseas.

Audio Released of Children Separated From Their Parents at the Border

Ginger Thompson, writing at ProPublica:

The desperate sobbing of 10 Central American children, separated from their parents one day last week by immigration authorities at the border, makes for excruciating listening. Many of them sound like they’re crying so hard, they can barely breathe. They scream “Mami” and “Papá” over and over again, as if those are the only words they know.

The baritone voice of a Border Patrol agent booms above the crying. “Well, we have an orchestra here,” he jokes. “What’s missing is a conductor.”

Our government is torturing children. These are the kinds of things that if we read about in history books we would not be able to understand how people let this happen. There will come a time when future generations read about this era in their history books, and they will rightfully judge us. This is sickening.

Trump Shares Inflammatory Anti-Muslim Videos

The New York Times:

President Trump shared videos on Twitter early Wednesday morning that supposedly portray Muslims committing acts of violence, images that are likely to fuel anti-Islam sentiments popular among the president’s political base in the United States and that prompted the office of Britain’s prime minister to issue a statement condemning the tweets.

Every day is some new “what the fuck is wrong with this asshole?” moment. Remember when waking up didn’t fill you with dread as you reached for your phone to see what notifications were sitting there waiting for you?

The FCC Looks to Repeal Net Neutrality

The Washington Post:

Federal regulators unveiled a plan Tuesday that would give Internet providers broad powers to determine what websites and online services their customers can see and use, and at what cost.

The move sets the stage for a crucial vote next month at the Federal Communications Commission that could reshape the entire digital ecosystem. The FCC’s Republican chairman, Ajit Pai, has made undoing the government’s net neutrality rules one of his top priorities, and Tuesday’s move hands a win to broadband companies such as AT&T, Verizon and Comcast.

Fuck these guys, and specifically fuck Ajit Pai.

FCC Chair Proposes Cap on Broadband, Phone Support for Low Income Families

Aj Dellinger, writing for the International Business Times:

Ajit Pai, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), proposed implementing a budget cap on the commission’s program that helps Americans with low incomes pay for broadband and phone services.

Pai’s plan, titled “Bridging the Digital Divide for Low-Income Consumers,” would place a “self-enforcing budget cap” on the FCC’s spending on its Lifeline program. The proposal is likely to be voted on during the FCC’s meeting on Nov. 16.

The bullshit going on over at the FCC may be getting less coverage than some of the other atrocities in this country right now, but make no mistake, it’s bad.

Things Are Going Well Over in Trump Land

The New York Times:

A professor with close ties to the Russian government told an adviser to Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign in April 2016 that Moscow had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails,” according to court documents unsealed Monday.

The adviser, George Papadopoulos, has pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I. about that conversation.

And:

President Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, was indicted Monday on charges that he funneled millions of dollars through overseas shell companies and used the money to buy luxury cars, real estate, antiques and expensive suits.

The charges against Mr. Manafort and his longtime associate Rick Gates represent a significant escalation in a special counsel investigation that has cast a shadow over Mr. Trump’s first year in office.

These are all bad people doing bad things in the most boneheaded way possible. Our country will be trying to fix the damage done by these clowns for decades.

President John F. Kennedy Files Released

The National Archives have released 2,891 new documents related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The New York Times explains:

The papers were posted online by the National Archives and Records Administration around 7:30 p.m. Thursday in compliance with a 1992 law, and represent a treasure trove for investigators, historians and conspiracy theorists who have spent more than half a century searching for clues to what really happened in Dallas on that fateful day in 1963.

And:

“We’re not going to find some secret memo from J. Edgar Hoover drawing out the escape path for Lee Harvey Oswald,” he said. “The public expectations are very high — they’ve heard about secret files, they know they’ve been locked up for all these years. The average person may think there’s a bombshell in there.”

But Mr. Posner said the files might draw a fuller picture of the early 1960s beyond the specific questions about the assassination. “This is all about the Cold War and spooks and spies and Mexico City,” he said. “This is about a time when we know the government was in league with the mob to kill Castro. Cold War scholars and historians may find this as interesting as Kennedy assassination researchers.”

Trump Rolls Back Access to Free Birth Control

In today’s episode of our national nightmare, the Trump administration has just made it easier for employers to stop offering birth control. Here’s Sara Kliff, writing at Vox:

New regulations released Friday significantly broaden the types of companies and organizations that can request an exemption from that rule. This could lead to many American women who currently receive no-cost contraception having to pay out of pocket for their medication.

The new rules take effect immediately. And they allow large, publicly traded companies to seek an exemption from the birth control requirement if they have a religious or moral objection to providing such coverage. The Obama administration barred these large businesses from such exemptions.

And:

More than 20 percent of US women of childbearing age had to pay money out of pocket for oral contraceptives prior to the Obamacare mandate, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. That shrunk to less than 4 percent a few years after the mandate took effect

Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr. Were Close to Being Charged With Felony Fraud

ProPublica:

In the spring of 2012, Donald Trump’s two eldest children, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr., found themselves in a precarious legal position. For two years, prosecutors in the Manhattan District Attorney’s office had been building a criminal case against them for misleading prospective buyers of units in the Trump SoHo, a hotel and condo development that was failing to sell. Despite the best efforts of the siblings’ defense team, the case had not gone away. An indictment seemed like a real possibility. The evidence included emails from the Trumps making clear that they were aware they were using inflated figures about how well the condos were selling to lure buyers.

This country is being run by the the worst people.

We Have to Stop Pretending We Can’t Do Anything About Gun Violence

Lauren Duca, writing for Teen Vogue:

Firearms are shamefully under-regulated in this country. While details of the Las Vegas shooting continue to emerge, the broader contours of the gun control problem have long ago been cast in sharp relief. It is not too soon to get political. Politics affects everything, from where you get your water to where the latest attacker purchased their assault rifle. There are regulatory policy solutions that would make it more difficult to acquire these weapons. For change to occur, our distraught energy must be translated into an organizational force that insists on an institutional shift in our national approach to violence.

The $25 Million Inauguration

Associated Press:

The opening concert featuring Toby Keith and Three Doors Down was broadly similar to concerts put on for Obama in 2009 and Bush in 2005 — except for the cost and size.

Bush’s inaugural committee spent $2.5 million on its concert on the National Mall. Obama’s concert had 10,000 ticketed seats — twice the size of Trump’s — and cost less than $5 million, said Kerrigan, and was produced at a high enough level that HBO paid for the rights to telecast it.

“I couldn’t tell you how we possibly could have spent $25 million on a concert,” said Kerrigan.

$25 million for 3 Doors Down and Toby Keith? Um, sounds like the “best deal maker” got fleeced.

Trump Gives White Supremacists an Unequivocal Boost

The New York Times:

President Trump buoyed the white nationalist movement on Tuesday as no president has done in generations — equating activists protesting racism with the neo-Nazis and white supremacists who rampaged in Charlottesville, Va., over the weekend.

Never has he gone as far in defending their actions as he did during a wild, street-corner shouting match of a news conference in the gilded lobby of Trump Tower, angrily asserting that so-called alt-left activists were just as responsible for the bloody confrontation as marchers brandishing swastikas, Confederate battle flags, anti-Semitic banners and “Trump/Pence” signs.

How “Nice White People” Benefit from Charlottesville and White Supremacy

Lauren Duca, writing for Teen Vogue:

For white people who don’t self-identify as disciples of Richard Spencer, David Duke, and/or the ancient demon Beelzebub, there is extreme anxiety around the accusation of racism. We see this fear of blame in Trump’s statement. “Not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama” seems to say, ‘Hey, there’s been a tense racial climate in this country forever. It’s not anyone’s fault!’ Except the opposite is true. American white supremacy has been a problem forever, and it is all of our fault, fellow white people.

White people benefit from white supremacy. Period. Peggy McIntosh spelled this out for us in 1989, but apparently we’re still not quite getting it. Her famous piece, “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack,” lays out undeniable ways that it is simply easier to be white in this country, like always having a boss who is a fellow white person, or, you know, being able to eat Skittles at night without getting shot. Most white people didn’t ask for this privilege. Actually, that’s the whole idea. White privilege is an inherent advantage that easily goes unnoticed and unacknowledged. Rather than stuffing down the sense of shame associated with this obvious unfairness, why not work to even the playing field?

Lauren Duca’s column has become a must read for me.