owlmoose: (think)
SF City Hall wasn't blue because of the rally to protect the Mueller investigation -- it was almost certainly in celebration of this week's Democratic successes -- but it sure made a nice backdrop.

Photo behind the cut )

It was probably the smallest Civic Center rally I've ever attended, but for short notice on a weeknight, not too bad.

For pictures of more around the country, Indivisible has this Twitter thread.

Keep shouting. Keep marching. Keep strong. Tuesday was a good day (and the news mostly keeps getting better), but this is all far from over.
owlmoose: (quote - B5 avalanche)
I haven't posted anything about politics for awhile, have I? At least not here -- if you follow me on Twitter, you've likely seen that it's almost all politics, all the time, with occasional forays into fandom and cute stuff, because if I can't lighten the load with fandom and cute stuff then I can't do anything.

But I find that I can't leave today's disaster unmarked, even though I don't have anything to say that hasn't been said already. It's frustrating and enraging and terrible, and I can't even begin to think about the long term ramifications about having such a man as one of the nine people making the most important decisions about our country, and yet it's hard to feel any kind of hopeful feelings about the Supreme Court anymore. Not after the slow chipping away at Roe v. Wade, and the gutting of the Voting Rights Act, and their choice to reverse almost every lower court decision in order to uphold the immigration ban. And especially not after the travesty of the Merrick Garland situation, when the GOP made it plain that they were going to take over the court no matter what it took. The Supreme Court was never going to save us; now they are especially not going to save us. Even if Democrats win back both houses of Congress, and hold them long enough to get a Democratic president elected in 2020, we can never count on the Court to be the last line of defense, ever again.

It's awful and it's terrible and I especially feel for everyone who has experienced sexual assault, for the old wounds that this battle must have opened, and I'm so sorry. I hear you and I see you and whatever you need, I'm here.

Still, I'm glad we fought. And that we'll keep fighting. And that I already see us taking the energy from our righteous anger and carrying it forward to Election Day next month, and beyond to whatever work needs to come next. Although I don't blame anyone for despairing right now, I always prefer action, and to that end I've given money to a number of Democrats running for Senate and signed up for Postcards to Voters. I'm sorry I didn't start with action earlier, rather than just sharing information, but I'm determined to do what I can from here on in.

One of my favorite metaphors for activism right now is staggered breathing. It's a concept from choral singing -- when you need to sing a long note, or sing through a long passage with no rests or breaths, everyone takes their breath at a different times. The sound will continue unbroken, and no one ever runs out of air. It can work the same way with activism. If you need to take a break, to just breathe, do it. I promise, the rest of us will keep singing until you can come back in.
owlmoose: (athena)
You all may have noticed that I don't do regular political linkspams anymore, despite still often sharing such links on Twitter. I fell out of the habit late last year, and despite many plans to get back to it, I never did, maybe because it all felt too depressing. Maybe I'll get back into it as election season heats up. But I did want to share these two Rebecca Solnit articles, found via [personal profile] umadoshi, because Rebecca Solnit is always worth reading.

"The Trump Era won't last forever. But we must do our part to end it. Thoughts of hope and a call to keep fighting, just what we need right now. Solnit quotes the great John Lewis, words that we should all take to heart: "Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble."

"Not Caring is a Political Art Form."
Sometimes it seems to me a better way to organize the political spectrum than along a continuum of right and left would be the ideology of disconnection versus the ideology of connection. In the short term we are working to protect the rights of immigrants and to prevent families from being torn apart at the border—and to address the relationship between our greenhouse gas emissions and the global climate, between our economic systems and poverty, between what we do and what happens beyond us, because the ideology of isolation is in part a denial of cause and effect relations, and a demand to be unburdened even from scientific fact and the historical and linguistic structures governing truth. In the long term our work must be to connect and to bring a vision of connection as better than disconnection, for oneself and for the world, to those whose ideology is “I really don’t care”—whether or not it’s emblazoned on their jackets. Somewhere in there is the reality that what we do we do for love, if it’s worth doing.</blockquote
owlmoose: (quote - flamethrower)
I've been trying not to include too many links about the various sexual harassment and assault stories, even those more relevant to politics, because I know that they're triggering for some people, and I wanted to keep my linkspams more accessible. The downside is that I haven't been able to share a number of articles and essays that I really liked, so I'm going to put a bunch of them together here. I'll continue marking them as I go forward. Obviously this does not cover every single scandal that's broken -- I'm focusing on bigger pictures issues where I can.

The name: a few weeks ago, T and I were out walking around a large local construction site. One of the human-door side entrances had "MANGATE" hand-painted over a white signboard; apparently "Man Gate" is the official term for a construction site gate that's not large enough for equipment (not "Person Gate", ahem), but we didn't know that, and it struck us as funny. Then T said "Mangate" should be the official name of the continuing scandal, and I decided he was right.

owlmoose: (quote - westing game)
The glow from last week's election results hasn't entirely worn off. Most of the below links are about those things or related issues. A couple of links at the bottom of the list are about sexual assault allegations and their fallout.



And now, to cleanse your palate, I share what may be the greatest GIF ever made.
owlmoose: (avatar - korra)
Wow, how did I go almost a month without doing one of these? Clearly I'm not going to catch everything, but here's some highlights/more recent stuff.

  • If you read only one thing on this page, make it Ta-Nehisi Coates's excellent "The First White President", a stark appraisal of how Trump's presidency is a direct response to Obama's. This is from almost a month ago, so I hope you've already seen it, but if not, you must.

  • One of the hot stories lately has been the escalation of the NFL anti-racism protests (and that is what they are, at their root, not any of this nonsense that people have tried to dig up about patriotism and respect for the troops). One of my favorite responses comes from Bob Costas, of all people, who says some excellent things about sports and the conflation of patriotism with support for the military.

  • A New York Times editorial reminds us that protest is almost never popular at the time it happens. NFL fans may be booing now, even as more players and even the owners start getting involved, but history may take a very different view.

  • I found this Newsweek article about Trump's history with the NFL to be pretty telling. It's not particularly a secret that Trump has made several attempts to purchase an NFL franchise, but he's been blocked by other owners as well as outbid. What I hadn't realized was that he ran the USFL (a short-lived would-be competitor) into the ground in his desperate attempts to be accepted. The story is pure Trump from beginning to end, and might explain why he's so quick to go after the owners now. If nothing else, make sure you read the letter from another USFL owner to Trump.

  • Vox has an interesting and depressing article about psychic numbing and the difficulty of getting people to care about large-scale tragedies.

  • The big topic in my newsfeeds a couple of weeks ago was Hillary Clinton's new memoir and the (depressingly predictable) backlash to it. This take from Quartz uses the coincidence of Bernie Sanders introducing his "Medicare for All" bill at around the same time to compare and contrast the way the media talks about Sanders versus how it talks about Clinton. Spoiler alert: sexism is involved.

  • Some of the book got leaked in advance, primarily sections where Clinton talks about Sanders and his effect on the race. (Mostly leaked by CNN, and isn't it interesting that these passages, sure to be controversial and re-spark infighting among the left, are the ones they chose? Instead of, say, one of the apparently many passages where she blasted the mainstream media for their terrible and imbalanced coverage? I wonder why THAT might be.) This analysis of the leaked text points out that her critique of Sanders was both balanced and fact based, but who cares about that when you can promote a "lady was mean to a man!" narrative?

  • Really excellent BuzzFeed article on private-public spaces built by tech companies and why they're no substitute for a genuinely public commons. It's nice that Apple wants to think of their stores as "town squares", but will that last when someone wants to have a picnic there, or a political protest? Somehow I don't think that's going to fly.

  • Another thing I missed was the announcement that DACA will be sunsetting, but that The Occupant is open to signing a DREAM Act-like bill if it passes Congress. (And for once that's not just words; Five Thirty Eight estimates that DACA could likely pass Congress with no trouble, although that doesn't mean it will ever come up for a vote.) Since anti-immigrant sentiment is one of the main issues that got him in the White House, this seems like a contradiction, but I thought Chris Hayes had a good take on why even his most hard-core anti-immigrant supporters might be okay with it: opposition to Obama was never about the policies themselves, but about the fact that a black man was implementing them. White people have taken the power back; as long as that's the case, what happens next doesn't really matter. Racism, my friends. It's the engine that drives so many things.
owlmoose: (quote - B5 avalanche)
Between North Korea and Charlottesville and everything else happening, it's hard not to feel like everything is burning down. But until the world actually ends, it's better to proceed as if it will keep on turning, so have some linkspam.

owlmoose: (da - flemeth)
July was a busy time for me at work, and then I went on vacation, and as usual political events moved really quickly. It seems like years have passed since the last time I did one of these, although in reality it was just under a month. So it goes when you're on Trump time. But Congress is on its summer recess (mostly -- the Senate pulled a procedural trick to keep the chamber officially in session, so that Trump can't make any recess appointments; this isn't an unusual practice, though), and the big man himself is on a seventeen day vacation (because he's been SO HARD at work these last several months, you know), so maybe things will be a little quieter for a bit, and we can catch up.

It's nice to think so, anyway.

  • The big story on Twitter this weekend is an anti-diversity memo making the rounds internally at Google. The full text was leaked to Gizmodo; I'm not going to link to it, since it's 1. easy enough to find and 2. the same tedious MRA/alt-right bullshit we've all seen a million times about how women are too emotional to be good coders and "meritocracy" and why Google's REAL diversity problem is not enough Young Republicans (although Anil Dash's short version is pretty entertaining). However, I will link to this ex-Google employee's response, which is excellent. I also direct you to Dr. Nerdlove's Twitter thread on why "at least it's promoting discussion" is exactly the wrong response.

  • The Washington Post examines exit poll data from the last few president elections in search of "Trump Democrats" only to find that they basically don't exist. Most of the voters who switched from Obama to Trump were Republicans who crossed the aisle to vote for Obama. Yet another reason for the Democrats to stop chasing this demographic and focus on pleasing their actual base.

  • Speaking of, yet again more nonsense about the DNC/DCCC giving money as support to anti-choice candidates. Stop. Just stop. It's never helped us before and it's certainly not going to help us now. I will never forget how anti-choice Democrat Bart Stupak almost derailed the passage of the ACA by pushing for anti-abortion provisions. I don't believe in ideological purity tests, and I know that not every regions of the country is willing to elect loud and proud abortion activists. Candidates and elected officials can believe whatever they want, and take more moderate positions on the issue. But when it comes down to it, if you are a Democrat, you support reproductive rights. The end.

  • That said, I have a huge issue with purity politics in general. Bustle has a good article on why women politicians in particular are hurt by an insistence on ideological purity. I'm really ready to be done with circular firing squads now.

  • On the lighter side, sort of, it recently came out that Trump considered buying the San Francisco Giants back in the 1980s. Sports writer Grant Brisbee reacts with the appropriate levels of existential horror.

  • On the occasion of Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller impanelling a grand jury, Vox presents a really handy explainer of the probe, what Mueller's authority is, and how the investigation might go.

  • Hey, remember back when we thought Trump's real endgame for his campaign was to launch his own TV network? Well, would you take a look at that.

  • Because of the time gap since my last post, I missed the rapid rise and meteoric fall of never-quite-officially White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci (aka "The Mooch"). He'll be a great trivia answer in about ten years. Anyway, Jay Smooth had a great take on the whole thing.

  • The central topic of my last linkspam post was the Senate's continuing attempts to ram through some flavor of ACA repeal; as we all know, that didn't happen, in dramatic eleventh hour fashion. One of my favorite stories about that night comes from Senator Chris Murphy, Democrat from Connecticut, who shared his view from behind the scenes.

  • You may recall a senator with cancer who got a lot of attention for his last-minute no vote. I'd rather celebrate Senator Mazie Hirono, who flew to DC from Hawaii right after surgery for Stage 4 cancer, held the line on every vote, and gave a beautiful, impassioned speech.

  • Speaking of credit where credit is due, let's not forget two other Republican Senators who have stood firm against ACA repeal, almost unwaveringly from the beginning: Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski.

  • Here's an interesting report on the number of Congressional challengers who have already filed to run in 2018 and comparing them to other elections at this point in the cycle. It's worth reading the whole thing, but the upshot is that, in wave elections like 2006 and 2010, opposition party candidates file early in considerably larger numbers than those from the party in power, usually about twice as many. This year? It's an order of magnitude. (209 Democrats vs 28 Republicans.)

  • In the interest of this post not being five million pages long, I'm not even going to get into the whole Donald Trump, Jr., saga, but I was amused in an eye-rolly sort of way by this report from The Hill that Junior is "miserable and can't wait for his dad's presidency to end". Join the club, kid. (Note, autoplay video at that link.). Also, from the BBC, an article on whether this might be the smoking gun, and whether a smoking gun is even enough anymore.

  • Finally. this article is a little older, but it's from the man who coined the phrase white fragility, and it is a very good examination of the subject. Every white person should read this essay with an open mind and a willingness to learn.
owlmoose: (da - seeker)
McConnell didn't have the votes ("You don't have the votes / You don't have the votes"), so the Senate healthcare bill got delayed. There's still a lot of public posturing and wavering, but you can bet once the recess is over, the GOP leadership will start wheeling and dealing to get to fifty. They have room to play with two no votes, so just like in the House, I suspect they'll give the two most vulnerable some cover (my money is on Collins and Heller), then twist arms for the rest. So we need to keep twisting back, and harder.

  • Osita Nwanevu wrote this long and excellent article about the history of US democratic primaries, with a thesis that (contrary to the narrative that BernieBros and others have been trying to push) racial and social issues have been keeping white working class voters away from progressive candidates since 1972. Not coincidentally, this was the first presidential election after the GOP adopted the "Southern strategy", Richard Nixon's plan to attract racist white Democrats alienated by the passage of the Civil Rights Act. Nwanevu is a little too quick to throw around the word "neo-liberal", but otherwise this is a fascinating look at history and trends.

  • It's easy to dismiss the various Twitter-tempests-in-a-teacup as distractions from "real" issues, but let's consider that Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski are accusing the President of the United States of blackmail, and that's not a small thing.

  • Not politics exactly, but a hot topic in tech lately is allegations of inappropriate behavior of venture capitalists toward women who are asking them for funding. This Guardian article uses one particular case as a jumping off point to talk about the problems with sexism and misogyny in the tech world. I also found this Facebook post to be a thoughtful response.

  • Speaking of Silicon Valley and its sometimes-toxic culture, this video from Fusion does a good job of why the resignation of Uber's ultra-bro CEO, Travis Kalanick, will not solve all the company's problems.

  • In voter suppression news, I was cheered to see so many states pushing back on or flat refusing the administration's request for voter data. And this hasn't been a particularly partisan response either -- only 17 states have Democratic Secretaries of State, but as of the most recent count, at least 44 states are refusing to cooperate, either wholly or in part. When the governor of Mississippi told Trump to "jump in the Gulf of Mexico", I figured that was pretty much the ballgame. Maybe there's some hope for the republic after all.

  • "I Don't Know How to Explain Why You Should Care About Other People" is an article that sums up a lot of my feelings right now, and a lot of other people's too, if the number of times I've seen it shared on social media in the last couple of weeks is any indication.
owlmoose: (Obamoose '08)
This is it folks, this is the big one. I don't need to tell you that, I suppose, but here we are. Even in California, where my Senators are firmly No-votes and leaders in the resistance, there are things we can do to stand up and fight -- here's a short to-do list for anyone who lives in a state with two Democratic Senators.

A few links on healthcare:

And other things:
  • The Brookings Institution put out a scathing editorial on voter suppression in the United States, a good overview of recent court decisions with some damning statistics.

  • The Associated Press published a report on the effects of gerrymandering, and it's not pretty.

  • It probably shouldn't come as a surprise that the Democrats lost the special election in Georgia's 6th Congressional District, and in fact the narrow loss continues the trend of being competitive in districts that ought to be safe GOP, but given how much effort and money we poured into that district, it's also understandable that people were disappointed. But the rush of pundits and BernieBots to blame Nancy Pelosi for the loss is both a headscratcher, and almost unbearably stupid. Charles Pierce explains why.

  • And maybe before you get too invested in demonizing one of the most powerful women in the Democratic party, maybe you should consider who is in the trenches, doing the actual work in places like the Georgia 6th.

  • Meanwhile, another Congressional special election flew completely under the radar: the South Carolina 5th. The Republican won that seat as well, but by an even smaller margin. This is not a seat that any polls suggested ought to be competitive, and the Democrats spent almost no money here. This ought to scare the GOP; we'll see if they heed the warning.

  • Maryland and the District of Columbia have sued Donald Trump for violations of the emoluments clause and other conflict of interest laws.
owlmoose: (quote - bucket)
owlmoose: (cats - tori peeking)
I kind of want to share some links, and I'm kind of afraid they'll all be out of date within five minutes of posting them. (At the very least, by 5pm Eastern Time today, which is when we seem to be getting our daily bombshell.) It's been less than two weeks since my last linkspam post, and in the meantime it feels like an entire year's worth of news has happened.

But, this the teaspoon I have, and so I'll keep going at this ocean for as long as I can.

  • It's hard to say what's the biggest story in the long run, but for now I'll put my money on the firing of FBI Director James Comey. Could this be the thing that brings it all toppling down? Vox thinks it might be.

  • Not just the firing itself, but the way that the White House narrative tried to deflect the blame onto Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein might be what triggered the appointment of a special counsel (FINALLY OMG). Unfortunately, the special counsel doesn't quite have the power or independence of a special prosecutor, but it's probably the best of the options we have right now. Vox has a good overview of what a special counsel is and what they have the power to do.

  • This close reading of James Comey's farewell letter to FBI staff is a work of genius. So is the farewell letter itself.

  • Don't forget The Comey Memo. (Does anyone else hear that in the cadence of "The Reynolds Pamphlet"? Just me? Okay.) This New Yorker article is a pretty good summary of the memo's importance and how it raises the stakes for everyone involved. Also, I'm pretty sure the last shoe has not dropped on revelations from James Comey. Not even close.

  • I suppose it might be a staggering coincidence that the White House invited Russian officials into the Oval Office with only Russian media present, and that 45 dropped some key intel to make himself look important (and SERIOUSLY? You are the President. Of. The. United. States. You don't need to puff yourself up to look important anymore, I promise) on the day after the man leading the investigation into Russian ties with the campaign was fired, but. Well. It doesn't look good. Politico's brilliant take on how Trump supporters are trying to spin this story is both illuminating and a work of trolling genius:
    Others accepted the report but contested the suggestion that Trump’s behavior was problematic. “This is only a scandal in the minds of those who haven’t heard that the Cold War is over,” said white nationalist Richard Spencer, who over the weekend rallied a peaceful, torch-bearing mob in support of the Confederacy at a park in Charlottesville, Virginia.

  • If you haven't seen it yet, [personal profile] renay's story about trying to get involved with the local Democratic party only to run into roadblocks and uncommunicative people at every turn is frustrating and infuriating. As I said on Twitter, red state and rural progressives are fighting enough battles. Getting the attention of the Democratic infrastructure shouldn't have to be another.

  • There are currently six Democrats in Congress who identify as pro-life and regularly (though not always) vote for anti-choice legislation, three Senators and three Representatives. All of them are white men. This is my surprised face.

  • Meanwhile, voter suppression is back in the news, as The Nation reports on new research into the effects of Wisconsin's voter ID law. I still contend that voting rights is THE issue we need to fix if we're going to straighten things out in the long run. Even with all the balls in the air, we need to keep an eye on this one.
owlmoose: (avengers - a little help)
I'm sure no one really wants to think or talk about anything other than the House's narrow passage of the AHCA today, the bill that's intended to replace Obamacare and dismantle our entire healthcare system in the process. It's terrible, awful, and terrifying for a lot of people; I don't expect to be affected in the short term myself, but the ripple effects could be tremendous if this bill becomes law. It's hard to know what the odds of that happening are. The GOP got away with this in part by rushing the AHCA through before the CBO could prepare its report on how much the updated bill will cost, and how many people it will affect, and that report is expected to be ready before the Senate can vote. It's also commonly thought that the House bill is too draconian to pass the Senate as-is, but if the Senate softens it up too much, it might not survive another House vote. (Never forget: the GOP got this bill through the House by insuring fewer people. I think about that, and compare it to Obama's fruitless efforts in 2009 to win even one Republican vote for the ACA, and it makes me want to cry.) But never underestimate what this group of thugs, bullies, and fascists is willing to do. That said, if you are feeling defeated today, I recommend you to this Twitter thread, which I found a small beacon of hope on a dark day. Friends, we were dealt a setback today, maybe the worst one since January 20th; it's okay if you need a little time to rest and regroup. But I hope you come back refreshed and ready to fight another day. The marathon continues.

Some other stuff that happened:



Today's fun link: The Sandwich Alignment Chart. "What is a Sandwich" is possibly my favorite low-stakes debate topic, so I wouldn't be at all surprised if we come back to this one.
owlmoose: (quote - questions)
I didn't take my laptop with me on my East Coast trip, mostly because I figured we'd be out and about a lot, especially in New York. I was mostly correct in this, so I fell a little behind on world events while I was gone, which is probably just as well.

  • I found this overview of the violent protest in Berkeley this Saturday to be a good and thoughtful summation of the situation. As usual, it's more complex than you might think from headline news. It's not really Trump supporters vs. anti-Trump; it's the latest evolution of a long-running conflict between the white supremacist right and the anti-fascist left, with the white supremacists using more moderate Trump voters as cover.

  • From The Nation, "Fear of Diversity Made People More Likely to Vote Trump." This is a nice way of saying that Trump voters were racist (or, to take it a little more broadly, xenophobic, but the poll discussed by the article asked questions specifically about race and racial anxieties). The article never comes out and uses the word "racist" but the implication is clear. I'm getting a little frustrated by the mainstream media's inability to call racism out by name, even left-leaning publications like The Nation, but at least they're still raising the issue.

  • Of all the various takes inspired by the United Airlines debacle last weekend, I was most interested in Vox's history of airline industry deregulation and consolidation, and how that's led to current miserable flying conditions. It also answered a mystery that has long puzzled me: whatever happened to America West? (Answer: they bought out US Air and kept the US Air brand, so through various mergers they're basically now American Airlines.)

  • From The Washington Post's Daily 202 newsletter, poll results show that the change in support for military intervention in Syria is driven entirely by a massive swing in Republican opinion. Only 22% of Republicans approved of potential airstrikes in 2013, when Obama sought permission from Congress to punish Assad for using chemical weapons against civilians; today that number is 86%. (Democratic opinion is nearly unchanged, from 38% to 37%, well within the margin of error on the poll.) But sure, tell me that their opposition to Obama was principled.

  • I really appreciated this interview with political scientist Marcus H. Johnson on the problems with Bernie Sanders and his approach to fighting Trump, and the problems with infighting in the Democratic Party.

  • As you might therefore guess, I'm not on board with primarying every moderate Democrat under the sun in 2018 (please stop making noises about Dianne Feinstein; I don't love everything she does, but she has serious seniority in the Senate, and she flexes those muscles when it matters). But there are exceptions, and it seems like these eight New York Democrats who caucus with the Republicans are prime candidates for some challengers.

  • It's a little too depressing to go back and chronicle the events that led up to the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court now that the damage is done, but I did want to share the article about his purported plagiarism, largely because it was a centerpiece of Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley's epic filibuster last week, which I caught part of. Merkely wasn't blocking any particular vote by speaking overnight; it was mostly a protest move. But I found his effort inspiring anyway.

  • Jill Filipovic on why it's a problem that Mike Pence won't eat a meal alone with a woman who isn't his wife. This is not an uncommon stance among a certain strand of conservative Christian -- it's known as the Billy Graham Rule, because the evangelist famously pioneered the practice when Christian leaders were getting caught in sex scandals. It's still offensive in that context, but when a world leader adopts the policy, it's flat out discrimination. What if Pence becomes president, and has to take a private meeting with Angela Merkel? Will he insist that his wife be in the room? It's a system-wide problem, too, as this survey of female Congressional staffers shows -- they report being routinely excluded from after-hours networking opportunities because it would require them to be alone with male members of Congress.

  • On the good news front, recent local elections in Illinois elected a record-shattering number of Democrats to office. Includes a video from Congresswoman Cheri Bustos, who runs a boot camp for people planning to run for office. It's called Build the Bench, and of the twelve alumni who ran in this cycle, at least eight of them won. This is exactly the kind of effort we need to be putting in, and I hope we see it spreading across the nation.

  • On that note, and related to my comments about primarying moderates above, here's a "List of Things Progressives Should Do Before Primarying Joe Manchin", moderate Democratic Senator from West Virginia. I'd add the caveat that if West Virginia progressives believe it's worth putting in the time and effort to mount a primary challenge to Manchin, then more power to them, and I'll support their efforts. (Same for Heidi Heitkamp, Joe Donnelly, etc.) But on the national level, I absolutely agree that everything on this list takes higher priority.

  • Jill Filipovic has been killing it in her editorials for Cosmopolitan lately, and this piece on abortion rights as a precondition for economic justice is no exception.
owlmoose: (ramona flowers)
I was mostly offline for a few days last week -- Wednesday through Friday. It turned out those were some pretty eventful days to be offline.

  • Montana's probably-failed vote by mail bill is mostly notable for the state Republican party's opposition letter, in which they straight-up said that they opposed it because it made it too easy for Democrats to vote. They aren't even pretending to make it about voter fraud anymore, are they?

  • This New Yorker article builds a compelling and terrifying case for how the White House halted the US House investigation into the Russian election shenanigans with the active help of US Rep Devin Nunes, chair of the House Intelligence Committee. Democrats are making louder and louder calls for an independent investigation like the 9/11 Commission; it's pretty obvious that we're never getting to the bottom of this otherwise.

  • This Twitter thread is a good explanation of how the GOP broke the ACA by refusing to fund the risk corridor (in which the federal government would help insurers with the cost of covering higher-risk patients). It also links to an article explaining what the risk corridor is and how it was supposed to work, as well as detailing the problems with it now. It's hard not to think that the GOP purposefully made the ACA worse to drive public opinion toward getting rid of it.

  • Of course, we all know how well that worked out. We need to keep wary -- there's no doubt that Paul Ryan will try to kill the ACA again. But for now, we all live to fight another day.

  • The other big story last week was the Neil Gorsuch Supreme Court nomination. The Democrats are, as usual, weighing whether to fight or cave. Myself, I don't particularly care about Gorsuch or his politics; the person who deserves the first committee hearing and up-or-down vote is Merrick Garland. That Supreme Court seat is stolen, and I will never feel differently, and I am perhaps angrier at the Democratic party for letting the GOP get away with it than I am about anything else they've ever done, up to and including the loss of the 2016 presidential election. The Democrats need to consider that rolling over on Gorsuch will demoralize their unusually energized base. Can they afford to do that, when a victory in 2018 depends so heavily on voter turnout? Time will tell, but I still hope the Democrats stand their ground on this one.

  • Here's an article on "blue lies" -- lies that are meant to reassure a group while being obviously false to people outside that group -- and how they might explain the rise of Trump. I think it explains a lot of other political phenomena, too; Bernie Bros come to mind, and climate change deniers.

  • Men Just Don't Trust Women, and This Is a Problem: A thoughtful article by Damon Young looks at the ways in which men don't trust women to speak their emotional truth, and how this wreaks havoc not just in relationships, but throughout public life.

  • In news that surprises no one, the cuts in the White House budget bring the most pain to the people they purportedly "help" by cutting taxes. Newsflash, GOP: most of the people helped by government social programs aren't the ones who make enough money to be paying a lot of taxes.

  • This article on liberal transphobia was a hard read, but an important one, especially in the wake of the controversy sparked by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and her comments about trans women. It's not always an easy issue for cis women to confront, but we need to get better at it. I also recommend Raquel Willis's response to Adichie. I want to make it clear that I admire so much of Adichie's work and think she is an important voice for the feminist community to support, but she got it very wrong here, especially in her attempts to respond to the criticism.

  • For the "actors who were born to play their characters" file, Chris Evans lays out his feelings about the Trump presidency in an Esquire interview. Also, in case you missed it, it's worth checking out his Twitter fight with David Duke.


Today's fun is politics-related, but I couldn't not include a link to the best hashtag of recent weeks, #GOPDND, which re-envisions GOP politics as the worst Dungeons and Dragons campaign ever. The Mary Sue has a good roundup.
owlmoose: (lost - hurley dude)
  • A presidential appointee to an EPA leadership position is stepping down because staffers won't play along with his climate change denial agenda. "They’re here for a cause," he said. A cause, like, say, protecting the environment? WHO KNEW.

  • The New York Times and The Washington Post Are at War, and Everyone Is Winning: when two major news organizations are trying to out-do each other in their investigating efforts, there can be no losers (except maybe the Republican administration).

  • I could share a lot of links about the Day Without Women, the strike scheduled to coincide with International Women's Day last week, but I already wrote a whole post about it, so I will limit myself to this New Yorker piece, The Women's Strike and the Messy Space of Change.

  • Ever wonder why the big news always seems to break at night? The Atlantic has a good explainer; the short version is that newspaper publishing deadlines are at night, we're just now getting the stories as soon as they're filed, rather than having to wait for the next morning to read them.

  • Some professors at NYU staged a gender-swapped version of the three Clinton-Trump presidential debates, and did not get the reactions they were expecting from the audience. There's a clip from the rehearsal, which is fascinating to watch. I'd be really curious to see the whole thing.


For your Thursday funny/cute, I commend you to Olly the Terrier have the time of his life at a dog show skills competition. The announcer's affectionate amusement makes it even better.
owlmoose: (quote - questions)
I have returned! Yet another successful FogCon: in the books. Probably jamming two days into one post is too much, but no matter how much I tell myself I can wait for tomorrow to write about today, the fact is I'm very unlikely to do it.

My first panel of the day might also have been the best of the con, and certainly the one that I heard the most people talking about over the rest of the weekend. It was entitled "When Do You Pick Up A Blaster?" and was about revolution: how revolution is depicted in speculative fiction, what fiction gets right and wrong, what can we learn about real-life uprisings from fictional ones, and what is, or should be, the tipping point for the decision to use violence as a tool. One of the panelists, guest of honor Ayize Jama-Everett, suggested that there are types of violence other than physical, namely social and economic violence, and said that the "objective of violence is free the colonized mind from the colonizer. How you define violence is an interesting topic -- another panelist said that he doesn't consider property damage, like bombing empty buildings and shattering store windows, to be the same thing as violence, and although I'm not convinced I agree, it's an interesting point. (Or going back to the previous point, you could consider it a form of economic violence against the property owners). To cover the discussion property would take better notes than I took, but a few other points I wanted to consider: a definition of revolution as when the unimaginable becomes commonplace; the suggestion that you should be willing to risk dying before you risk killing; that you lose something when you fight, even when you win (sometimes it's worth it, but take the costs into considerations); revolution will always take longer than you think it will. As you might imagine, I got a lot to think about here, and took more notes than during any other panel. Lots of discussion centered around the Black Panther Party, and although I'm going to save most of my book recs for another post, I wanted to make note of one here: Black Against Empire, a recent history of the Black Panthers.

Lunch was the annual FogCon banquet, where I sat with friends old and new and chatted about a number of things -- for one, I ran into a fellow Dragon Age fan, and then we decided to stop boring the rest of the table to death and talk about the Hugos instead. Then my afternoon consisted of two guest of honor events. First was an interview with the other guest of honor, Delia Sherman, who talked about her writing process and her stories. After that, Ayize Jama-Everett gave his GoH presentation, a conversation with Afrofuturist Lonny Brooks. The theme of the talk was Jama-Everett asking Brooks to help him imagine a future that isn't bleak. A challenging project in these times, but I think also a worthy one. Some of Brooks's ideas included looking at Peter Diamandis and his thoughts on abundance, platform cooperativism (a worker-centric alternative to the so-called sharing economy promoted by companies like Airbnb and Uber), and diverse communities that celebrate difference rather than fighting against it or practicing separatism.

After dinner -- I crashed an event for members of a writing message board, and had a great chat with a doctor from Illinois whose name I unfortunately cannot remember -- was my one panel of the con, "Between the Pixie and the Crone: Middle Aged Women in Speculative Fiction". Other members of the panel included the aforementioned GoH Delia Sherman and the always-entertaining Ellen Klages, so that was not intimidating at all. Unrelated in any way to the panelists (they were all great), the discussion got tense in a couple of places, which I think is a risk with any panel on a topic that deals in a trope about women at a con that tries to be feminist -- it's going to hit too close to home for some people, feel completely off the mark to others, and it's easy to fall into talking stereotypes. But overall I think it went pretty well. Folks seemed engaged, asked good questions and made good recommendations, and almost no one left before the end, which are all positives, and I got to make most of the points I had planned, including a comment about not falling into the trap of defining all women by their relationship to motherhood, even including women who are mothers, which got a little "whoop!" from someone in the crowd. Last up was a panel on podcasting, which focused almost exclusively on fiction podcasts and never even got to fannish pop culture reviews, although I did get to rec Black Tapes and found a few new shows to look up. Afterwards I wandered by the bar, where I hung out for a little bit before bedtime.

Today I took it a little easier, as I usually try to do on the last day of the con. The first panel of the morning was the guest of honor reading, which I always try to attend and almost never disappoints. I was completely sucked in by Ayize Jama-Everett's reading and bought all three of his books (the only other time that's happened was all the way back in FogCon2, after Nalo Hopkinson read from The Chaos). For lunch I walked over to the farmer's market with [personal profile] forestofglory, and after I went one last panel on how to write dystopian fiction in the age of alternative facts. The panelists agreed that, for all the stories where false information is commonplace and fed to people by the government, no one ever saw coming that we would impose the world of wrong facts on ourselves, without a repressive regime forcing us into it. The discussion was mostly about real-world information bubbles and info overload, less about fiction, but it was still interesting. As usual in this type of conversation, I walked away convinced that librarians are more necessary than ever, and I need to do a better job of turning my information literacy skills into political activism.

Next up: WisCon! Two and a half months away, and I can hardly wait.
owlmoose: (CJ)
Happy International Women's Day!

I hope that today's events lead both to a continuing groundswell of the progressive actions that have been going on for years but came into focus for many more with the Women's March in January, and to a greater recognition of International Women's Day in the United States. Interesting reading: this Slate article on the history of International Women's Day, which discusses its roots as a day of strikes and pro-worker action through a defanged and commercialized holiday somewhat akin to Mother's Day. (Also an excuse for self-styled wags and MRAs to complain that there's no International Men's Day. Which: 1. shut up; 2. November 19th, in case you actually care; 3. It's during White History Month and Straight Pride Week, duh.)

Although I'm wearing red today, and ate breakfast at home instead of going out as I often do on workdays, I haven't varied my routine much otherwise. I contemplated not working, but since I'm on a major deadline and had a couple of meetings, I decided it would inconvenience the wrong people without sending any useful messages. I felt a little bad about it, but I also firmly believe that every person needs to decide this sort of thing for themselves. I have heard and sympathize with some of the criticisms that not every woman is in a position where they can afford to take a day off work and/or care-taking; I think that's legit, but I've also seen too many women -- and by this I mean the well-off white women who could most likely take the risk -- use that criticism as an excuse not to participate. In the end, if trusting women is important -- and I believe that it is -- then we need to trust women to evaluate their own lives and know what actions are appropriate for them. We can critique the larger meaning of an action without getting too bogged down in the choices of individual women. I'll be interested to see if any statistics come out about the aggregate effect of Day Without a Woman, and if the strike tradition continues.

(Post title is from a Peter Gabriel song, "Shaking the Tree".)
owlmoose: (think)
Anyone else think that they referred to last night's speech as an address rather than his first State of the Union as a ploy to keep expectations low? Just me? Okay.

  • If it was intentional, it sure seems to have worked -- mainstream media spent last night and today falling all over themselves to congratulate the president for his ability to read words off a teleprompter without melting down. Way to set a high bar, folks. At least some articles, like this commentary from NBC, pointed out his lack of substance and a fair number of the "alternative facts" contained in the speech.

  • Meanwhile, the known rabble-rousers at USA Today posted an editorial calling for Congressional Democrats to get serious about potential impeachment.

  • This week in "I Miss Jon Stewart": Stewart's appearance on Late Night with Stephen Colbert on Monday, 2/27, in which he compared the media's relationship with Trump to a bad breakup and advised them to move on. Nice analogy. I wonder how long they'll wait before taking it to heart?

  • A special election for three seats in the Connecticut state senate was a wash, with all three seats remaining in the hands of their original party, but both Democratic-held seats were won easily, while the race for the GOP-held seat was more competitive than it had ever been. Democrats also held a state senate seat in Delaware, won narrowly in 2014, by over 10 points on the strength of 33% turnout -- which is huge for a special election. There's plenty more of these coming, so keep your eye out. Here's an article about some upcoming US House races in Montana and Georgia -- the Georgia seat, especially, could be key to gathering momentum for the midterms.

  • I would say the dominos are falling when Darrell Issa -- terrible GOP rep from Southern CA, who led some of the worst investigations of Obama and Hillary Clinton, and was largely responsible for the California recall election that brought us the Governator, and who came very close to losing his seat in a district that Clinton won in 2016 -- is calling for a special prosecutor to look into the Russia shenanigans, but he walked it back just a day or so later, so.... *shrug* Talk is cheap, folks.

  • My main feeling about the election of a DNC chair is to be glad its over, so now the party can buckle down and get to work. But what really elevated the whole thing to a non-event to me was Tom Perez, immediately and without rancor, naming Keith Ellison vice chair to unanimous approval. This way, we get both of their voices in party leadership, and Ellison gets to keep his seat in Congress (although nothing prohibited him from staying on, he had promised to resign if he'd won). As far as I'm concerned, this is a win-win. As for the people who tried to turn this into a proxy battle to re-litigate the primary, meh. If you're leaving the party over this, you were looking for an excuse to go. See ya bye bye now.

  • One of the big stories last week was members of Congress ducking constituent town halls during their recent recess (mostly Republicans, but not exclusively -- I don't think Pelosi or Kamala Harris had one, and I know Feinstein didn't). Lots of folks are calling them out, but none better than Gabrielle Giffords.

  • Another thing you might have heard about was the Department of Education pulling guidance to schools that explicitly protected the rights of trans students. Bad as this news is, no laws have actually changed here, just the federal government's mandate to interpret them a certain way. The National Center for Transgender Equality provides a FAQ explaining what it all means.


Lastly, for today's bit of fun: here's a livetweet of a cow escape in upstate New York. Watch the gifs, revel in the puns, and read all the way down for a happy ending.
owlmoose: photo of little owl in a stocking cap (owlhat)
I'm trying to keep these to stories and links that I think have long-term use, rather than responding to whatever particular outrage has happened within the last fifteen minutes. There's just no way to keep up with a White House and Congress that's churning out stuff at the rate things are coming in a long-form journal, so I'm not even going to try. I do my best to keep up on Twitter, which is the best source for whatever is the latest and "greatest" anyway.

Anyway, have some links.

  • From former Congressman Barney Frank, a guide on how to make your opinions known to your elected representatives. There are some good points here, but one of the things I appreciate most is that he doesn't try to claim that one and only one contact point is the "right" one. There are many useful ways to engage; pick the one that works for you, or take a multi-pronged approach if you like.

  • "Our Part in the Darkness": this opinion piece, by Rabih Alameddine in The New Yorker, isn't a comfortable read, but I think it's an important reminder that we Americans should not attempt to distance ourselves from our country. Like it or not, support it or not, fighting against it or not, these things are happening here, and while 45, his minions, and his strongest supporters may be extreme examples, less stark examples of their beliefs and actions have always been part of the American landscape. Although not addressed directly, this article gets at why I'm not comfortable with the "not my president" formulation -- I may not have voted for him, I may have done my damnedest to keep him out of the office, but now he's here and he is the president, and I can't look away from that reality.

  • Two on the upcoming fight over Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, one from Politico and another, much angrier but with a similar takeaway, from journalist Kurt Eichenwald. The short version, with which I agree, is that this is where Democrats need to take their stand. If they lose the filibuster, so be it. A stolen Supreme Court seat is worth making a fuss over, and although I wish they had pulled out the big guns while Obama was still in the White House, better late than never.

  • Good advice on living the resistance from Bernice King, daughter of Martin Luther and Coretta Scott King. I've been seeing this circulating without attribution quite a lot, so I wanted to make sure to get a direct link in here.

  • While I'm thinking about it, can I just complain about how much I hate the "cut and paste this text on your Facebook page" methodology that's gotten so popular for sharing essays and action items? I understand people's security concerns about not making FB posts public -- I almost never do it myself -- but it's a nightmare for source verification. There's got to be a better way.

  • Going back to Coretta Scott King, I know I just said I wanted to stay away from outrage of the day in my linkspam posts, but this thing where Elizabeth Warren was barred from speaking in the Senate for reading King's letter laying out the proven racism of then-nominee for Attorney General Pete Sessions is so egregious that I have to bring it up. First, a Tweetstorm on the history of the gag rule in the Senate, which was created to keep abolitionists from as much as mentioning slavery on the floor. Second, if you haven't already seen it, the full text of the letter is available in a lot of places now; this link goes to the Boston Globe (which also has an overview of the story). Finally, you've probably seen the new Nevertheless, She Persisted meme -- based on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's exact words when asked why Warren was silenced -- which is possibly my favorite rapid response weaponized meme yet. If you haven't looked at the Twitter hashtag yet, I highly recommend it.

  • From Vox, why the president is not an evil genius, and why that doesn't matter. I agree with both the initial premise of this (if the man and his top advisors were actually evil geniuses, the Republican administration would not be nearly so chaotic right now), and the upshot, which is that the outcome of the administration's actions is more important than their reasoning behind each one. This, for what it's worth, is why I avoid the "distraction" rhetoric that we hear so often these days -- "don't pay attention to this thing, it's just a distraction from that other more important thing!" Everything they are doing is terrible, and it all matters. Of course there's too much for all of us to focus on all the time -- we each have to triage for ourselves. But as the wise [twitter.com profile] sophiebiblio says, we shouldn't shame people for having different priorities.


  • If only. If only...

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