drwex: (Default)
https://my.oxfamamerica.org/AWbday

Normally a birthday is about the person celebrating the occasion. This year I'd like my birthday to be about one of my chosen issues.

With the help of Oxfam I'm putting out a request for money. If you're the sort who cares about food shortages, meeting the needs of refugees around the world, and who would consider doing something for my birthday please visit this URL. It's the home page for my birthday fundraising campaign. If you would normally get me something please consider giving that money to Oxfam. If money isn't your thing please help me by spreading the word. Obviously this appeal is to my friends and family and people who care about my natal anniversary but anyone who feels moved as I do can join in.

Sharing the things I care deeply about is one of the best birthday presents I can imagine.
drwex: (Default)
even if someplace as established as NPR (Morning Edition) gets them wrong.

Assuming for a moment that the Post story is correct and Trump bragged about something secret to his Russian cronies...

No, it is not actually a violation of any law I can find. It's stupid and incompetent but anyone who didn't know Trump was those things is not going to wake up now. The US President is the ultimate authority on classification levels. He can declassify things at will. There is some pushback against retroactive classification (*) but there is no higher authority on removing classification. Trump has been bleating about how he has "every right" to share this information. Nobody said you didn't have the right, Jackass. We just said it was a really dumb idea.

If it's not illegal, then what's wrong with it? From analyses I've read there are three big problems here:

  1. Trump revealed **to the Russians** information that has not been shared with our allies. Bet that makes them feel good! This is directly damaging to our relationships with those countries.

  2. The information was apparently not developed by US agencies. It was (reportedly) shared with us by a friendly other-national security agency. Longstanding tradition is that if one country shares something it gets a say in how that information is passed along. This is one of the bases of the "five eyes" intelligence-sharing agreement that was highlighted in the Snowden papers. It's also a basis for other non-five countries sharing intelligence with us and if they think Trump is going to spill stuff stupidly to the Russians then they're not going to share with us anymore. That's direct damage to the capabilities of the US intelligence system.

  3. The information apparently contains enough specificity that the Russians can backtrack its source. According to The Post this included the name of the city where the threat was detected. This is where NPR (and others) fell down. When quoting National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster people are focusing on his claim that reports are "false". It's important to read exactly what McMaster said because he's choosing his words carefully:
    At no time were intelligence sources or methods discussed, and the president did not disclose any military operations that were not already publicly known

    But nobody I know has said anything about military operations - that's a flat-out red herring, and most people aren't saying that Trump directly disclosed sources or methods. So technically McMaster is correct, but he's doing what spooks always do, which is muddy the waters and create plausible deniability.


  4. Now the question is whether this rises to the level of impeachable offense. In a Post op-ed, Harvard Law professor Tribe listed a number of potential grounds for impeachment. Now we have the possibility that Trump's actions amount to treason, one of the few crimes enumerated in the Constitution. Specifically "...adhering to [the United States'] Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort." There's not a lot of good caselaw here, one of the reasons Congress specifically passed laws making it illegal to assist a listed terrorist organization. That law, not treason law, has been used in most of the modern "giving aid and comfort" cases. So that leaves us with impeachment.

    Both Nixon and Clinton were targeted by Articles of Impeachment introduced by hostile (other-party-controlled) Houses. To my knowledge no sitting President has ever had their own party file such Articles against them. I don't expect it to happen now. Look at how quickly Republicans closed ranks around Trump over Comey's firing, despite the blatant lies involved. Republicans won't agree on a special prosecutor or even the much weaker Select Committee that McCain keeps trying to push. People who think Trump is losing support or that the Republicans will turn on him are putting too much hope in too little substance, I think. All the signs point to him surviving this one, too.

    I still think the odds are better than 50% that he won't finish his full term, but there will have to be something really seismic to flip that switch. A major Republican loss in the '18 elections or the FBI producing an actual smoking gun would be my first two candidates right now, but I can't rule out Trump doing something so incredibly awful as to bring himself down. However, it's worth bearing in mind that all through his presidential candidacy people kept predicting that his blunders and bombast would be his downfall, yet they weren't. Experience does not lean on the side of those thinking Trump will bring himself down; thus, I expect it'll be something external.


    (*) The Progressive atom-bomb story case is a good example (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_v._The_Progressive,_Inc.) Although the government withdrew its appeal most observers thought they would continue to lose in their attempts to classify retroactively material that the magazine had found on library shelves and assembled.
drwex: (VNV)
So, April was indeed the smoldering crater I figured it would be. I'm back and hoping May will be slightly more sane. I'm still going to try to get the other two April posts written and done. They'll be about family and work mostly so will be f-locked. I think I've caught up on all the posts I didn't read last month but if you put out something you'd like me to see and I didn't comment on it please do leave me a link.

I'm stalled out on finishing my move to DW by the tag limit. Even their premium paid service is maxed at 2000 tags, which my music blogging has already exceeded. This means I can't put tags on any new posts I originate here. That's the last thing I need in order to shut down my LJ. I've written to DW support asking about this and we'll see what they say.

Project Social continues. We made it to a party this past weekend, despite both of us having a lot of inertia and household stress. Then we had people over for game on Sunday. This week will see a dinner with another couple who also need Adult Time and whom we only manage to see a few times a year. Then a date I've been looking forward to for several weeks and maybe a social gathering before SoS.

Next week has an Arisia Divheads meeting but nothing fun social. Likewise the week after that has Thing 1's birthday but no adult social. If you'd like to help alleviate some of this please let me know.

Political things continue to occupy a lot of my brain but not as much as to overwhelm other things. I'm awaiting delivery of a bumper sticker I designed for HIAS. If it comes out well I'll be submitting it to be included in their official line of merch, which is kind of neat. I continue to be concerned about the upsurge in hate and am still looking for a good political organization that I can volunteer with.

Porter Square Books is hosting a "how to get involved, how to volunteer" workshop at the end of this month that I plan to attend, assuming nothing more concrete to do has materialized before then. I'm trying to be mindful that this is a long-term effort but I still want to be doing more.

What are you guys doing to keep sane these days?
drwex: (Default)
I have put my first bumper sticker on my new car. It simply says "I resist". I have one or two more I can give away; if you'd like one, ping me here or personally.

Moveon.org are looking for volunteers to help find and contact the companies whose ads are appearing on breitbart.com - see https://docs.google.com/document/d/1d3uLPk-TfwmpWUozHwR3jh--n3VV0e6odT-47sQhm8o/edit for details and how to participate. You have to turn off your ad blocker, obviously, and if you want they have a convenient browser extension for Firefox and for Chrome to help you out.

These advertisers are called "hidden" because by and large they likely do not know where they are advertising. Instead a third-party ad broker sells spaces that these companies purchase from the broker. They simply collect revenue without any awareness of the context in which their ads appear. So goes advertising on the Internet now. The question becomes "Will these companies care once told that their ads are appearing on breitbart.com?"

If you'd like to help find out, check the Google doc linked above.
drwex: (WWFD)
If you cannot travel to Washington DC for the main March for Science on the 22nd, you may be interested in one of the satellite marches, of which about 600 have been registered. Find yours here: https://www.marchforscience.com/satellite-marches

The one in Boston, which I hope to attend, has not been well-publicized, at least outside Facebook. The event page is here: https://www.facebook.com/events/246381619134165/

Because Nature always bats last.
drwex: (Troll)
I support 45's decision to attack the Syrian airbase from which the chemical weapons strike was launched. Force is never right, but sometimes it is necessary.

A) I take as given, based on reporting from independent NGOs, medical professionals on the ground, and officials from multiple governments that:

1. Chemical weapons were used on a hospital, targeting unarmed civilians
2. When first responders rushed to aid the initial victims a second round of chemical bombs were dropped, striking the medical workers and civilian volunteers who were trying to aid the victims.
3. The weapons were launched by Syrian aircraft from the targeted base - they were seen on radar before, during, and after the attack.

I take as less certain, but do believe, that although a child killed by sarin gas is just as dead as a child killed by a barrel bomb, the reason chemical weapons were banned was because they are a qualitatively different type of assault than a so-called conventional weapon. Perfect would be to cease the murderous assault on civilians launched by the Assad and Putin regimes. The lack of a perfect solution should not dissuade us from taking action against a severe transgression of international norms.

B) I further believe that 45's act was illegal under US and international law. Congress has repeatedly refused even to debate authorization for military force, and the UN is logjammed by (among others) Russia, which I view as complicit in these crimes. So F them. It's possible that, if Congress had been willing to take up and debate a resolution on the use of military force, we as a country might have achieved further clarity in our policy around that multi-headed hydra of a war. Maybe the vote would have failed, in which case I would have opposed a President acting. But being unwilling even to put a resolution up for debate is an abdication of responsibility and unfortunately when Congress abdicates the other branches of government act. The perfect course of action is for the Executive to set out policy, the Legislative to debate and formulate that policy into law, and for there to be public clarity on both sides. As above, the perfect is the enemy of the good.

C) I believe, though with less conviction, that Obama's inaction and our lack of clear policy in regard to the war opened the door for Russian intervention and ultimately led to the escalation in civilian deaths we now see. I continue to be dismayed at how little we have done in the past five+ years to aid those victimized by the conflict. Our policy is unclear even in areas where I feel we would have great national consensus, such as funding healthcare, housing, food, and education for refugees living in neighboring countries such as Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan.

D) So what happens now? The first strike is easy - what comes after is the hard part. The Russians have threatened to beef up Syria's air defense system. If they do so, I would support strikes to take out those defenses. I would support strikes against every Syrian military airbase or aircraft. As I said above, these weapons have been used as part of a systematic campaign against unarmed civilians. Deprived of such weapons, Assad will still find ways to slaughter people, but they will be fewer and harder and it will remove Russian plausible deniability. The rebels have been asking for anti-air weapons for some time now; I'm not happy about putting more weaponry into a war zone but taking weapons off the map I might well support.

IF, and here's the really big IF the US can put together a coherent policy. I don't hold out a lot of hope here - Obama's team couldn't, and the current bunch of militarists and amateurs isn't likely to do better. History has not been kind to American interventions in foreign conflicts and we often regret things decades down the line. But the future is uncertain and it does the victims no good for us to hand-wring about far-future consequences while the bombs are raining down.

We live in an imperfect world and I would rather live in a world with an imperfect, but at least publicly articulated and debated, policy. Such a thing might make recurrences of the past couple days' events less likely.
drwex: (Default)
Politics rolls along. Look bullet points!

1. I've been dipping my toes into the water of involvement with the ACLU's new "People Power" initiative. Grassroots things seem appealing but are fraught with... well, people. I like the idea but I am unsure if it'll go anywhere.

2. The Comey hearing was an utter nightmare. I'm not sure why no one asked him if (as he's now admitted) both major-party Presidential candidates were under FBI investigation he chose to speak twice about one investigation and zero times about the other.

There's a rule of thumb that the more a spook says, the less important what they're talking about should be deemed. On that basis, it's particularly scary. I think calls for an independent prosecutor are entirely justified. Labels of "treason" or other criminal particulars are not. Comey was very clear that they have not determined whether any activity rises to the level of probable cause, let alone something at the level of treason.

3. The "leaked" tax return thing was such a red herring. I'm sorry Maddow took the bait as far as she did and glad it died quickly. At best it's stuff that happened 10 years ago; what we care about is what happened in the last 2-3.

4. Get ready for Justice Gorsuch. I don't particularly like Gorsuch, and I especially don't like many of the views he has expressed and decisions he's made. But he is not unqualified and that's the standard we're looking for. We can see that from his years on the Circuit. This is what I argued should have been done for Judge Garland - give a fair hearing and determine if the person is qualified for the job. Ideological tests give me the willies and that's what the Dems have to oppose Gorsuch with - ideology (his is terrible). I also don't think the Dems have the political capital or the will to go nuclear in response to how Garland was mistreated.

I am sorry for the people who are likely to suffer as a result of this - I expect it will be mostly women and I respect those who want to make a stand on this because of the anticipated harm to women and reproductive rights. But this issue falls below my current cut-off.

5. I've sort of settled on the issues where I'm going to be putting my efforts: refugee & immigrant rights, and LGBTQ equality rights are at the top. Civil liberties (free press/religion/speech, opposition to militarization/police state/government surveillance) just barely make the cut here. I include here religious discrimination and bigotry - Nazism, antisemitism, and Islamophobia which I regard as three flavors of the same poison. I wish there was more room at the top but it's a marathon and conservation of energy is going to be necessary to get us through it.

Of all the things that fall below the cut, climate change and the likely doomed state of human existence on Earth in the next 50 years is just barely below the line and it's the thing I most regret having to cut down on. In part I'm fatalistic, as I've been predicting climate-driven calamity since the past century. Once the avalanche has begun it's too late for the pebbles to object.

That doesn't mean I'm going to stop giving money to NARAL or NRDC. We increased our funding of Planned Parenthood from once-a-year to monthly, at more than double the previous annual amount. But extra appeals aren't going to get met; instead that money will go to organizations fighting for my chosen issues. Likewise, when I pick up the phone to call, or go to speak to my elected representatives, those first three are the issues I'm going to raise and they're the criteria on which I'm going to make most voting decisions.

I don't claim any superiority for my chosen issues. They're just the things I feel closest to my heart and to my family. They're the things I think are most likely to get people I care about hurt or killed in the next four years. To some degree they're issues I've been involved with for a long time. If you read me here you know I've been advocating for MSF's work with refugees. I've also been involved with gay rights since we thought gay rights were a separate thing back in the 1980s and AIDS was tearing the community to shreds. I also first joined the ACLU in the 1980s. I guess in times of crisis you go with what you know best.

Tell me about your top issues and why you chose them?
drwex: (Default)
Courtesy of Catya, a pointer to a letter to the editor published in the NY Times from Professor Allen Frances.

Frances chaired the DSM IV committee that wrote many of the standards used for diagnosing mental illness as well as a founder of two journals in the field: Journal of Personality Disorders and the Journal of Psychiatric Practice. He takes issue with psyciatric professionals who have arms'-length diagnosed President Trump as having narcissistic personality disorder. Here's the key bit, imo:
It is a stigmatizing insult to the mentally ill (who are mostly well behaved and well meaning) to be lumped with Mr. Trump (who is neither). Bad behavior is rarely a sign of mental illness, and the mentally ill behave badly only rarely.

Frances also notes that being "a world-class narcissist" like Trump does not mean that one has a diagnosable condition. Let's focus on resisting this President's harmful actions and policies and leave people with mental illness out of it.
drwex: (Default)
The MA ACLU has posted a page with upcoming State Senate town halls here:
https://aclum.org/events/commonwealth-conversations-town-halls-organized-massachusetts-state-senate/

Most of the details aren't known at this point, so the page will be updated as info comes available.

Generally our state Senate reflects the liberal and progressive nature of the population, but it is still important that we make our support known for state-level protections of rights, for state action to welcome immigrants and refugees, and for creating a better climate for businesses and families here.

Off the top of my head:
- We need the state legislature to allocate resources to help towns and cities deal with opiod and prescription-drug abuse
- We need state money to help families that don't have access to quality childcare and early-education programs
- We need strong state policies & laws affirming protection for children (and adults) of all genders
- the MA attorney general has joined other states in taking legal action against some of the egregious Presidential Executive Orders. The AG needs strong support from the legislators to continue this action.

The commonwealth, like many states, is required to operate with a balanced budget and these things all are going to cost money. We should be clear to our state legislators to what degree we're willing to put our money where our mouths are and whether we'd pay higher taxes or fees in order to get the priorities we want funded, or whether we'd trade off funding other things.

There's been a lot of good stuff written in the past couple months about how it's not sane to be activist about every bit of horror emanating from Washington. My priorities probably don't line up exactly with yours, nor with other voters. Likewise I'm betting the Lege is going to have a hard time setting priorities and I expect to hear how they think things ought to be lined up.

Of course, if all of these meetings end up being at 11AM or 3PM (like every single action I wanted to do this week, grr) I may not be able to make it. But I plan to try.
drwex: (Default)
Original by Late Night with Seth Meyers used entirely without permission of NBC.

warren peace

Because if we forget how to laugh it's going to be an even longer four years.
drwex: (VNV)
Had a lovely dinner and drinks last night at Cuchi-Cuchi (*) with silentq (sorry, still haven't figured out name-linking in DW). Our evenings are infrequent so there's a ton of catching up and sharing we do.

Among the things we talked about was the sense that we're in a marathon here. Yes, there's a Gish Gallop of awful coming at us, and I expect another one as soon as all the rich white guys(**) in the Swamp Cabinet get into their positions of power. But this is a four-year marathon, not a four-week or four-month sprint.

To that end, we've both been reading a variety of self-help and self-care guides for activists and this morning I came across a really simple rule of thumb from another context that I think applies here: HALT

If you are Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired you are likely to make mistakes, increase your local life negatives, and be less effective. Angry is a tough one - this shitstorm makes me (us) angry a lot, but acting out of anger isn't an effective counter-strategy (see "don't initiate punching Nazis" and the mess at UC Berkeley). The advice is this - if you are in one of those states, halt what you're doing and see if there's something you can do about it.

I particularly like the "lonely" one. We who want to act may find it's more effective to join an existing organization than to work alone. This fight can be isolating and our President is doing a great job of gaslighting the opposition. That's a very lonely-making situation. I feel lonely a lot - to some degree these writings are a response to that. Do what works for you to counter your loneliness because you are not alone in this.

HALT, it's a thing to think about.

(*) Highly recommended. http://cuchicuchi.cc/ - great drinks, a wide variety of small plates, fun ambiance.

(**) No I haven't forgotten Ms DeVoss. I hope her nomination gets blocked - we're close. But seriously, this is the oldest, whitest, male-est, richest cabinet in decades.
drwex: (Default)
Continuing the discussion I started with my last entry on the actions and firing of Acting Attorney General Sally Yates.

Ken White (Popehat)'s take is here: Desperation For A Hero. He seems to be coming to some of the things I've been thinking through.

Crucially, though, he points out that her decision not to follow the order was based on her belief not that it was unconstitutional, but that it was "unjust and unwise." I think those things are less debatable than its (un)constitutionality but also they are much worse grounds for a government official to stand on.

She has an obligation to refuse to do unlawful things, but she has no right to refuse to follow orders because she disagrees with the policy behind them. She publicly asserted that the order might be unconstitutional, but didn't explain how or suggest a method or schedule to resolve the question. She didn't use clarity to promote and defend the rule of law. She was right to stand up for justice, but wrong to confuse and obscure the role of the Attorney General.

And he comes to the same conclusion as I had - that we need heroes who don't just stand up for what's right, but who stand up for the rule of law and the necessity of all officials to abide by it.

Ms Yates is a hero for taking a stand against injustice and prejudice. I'd cheerfully buy her a drink of her choice, given the option. But we have to acknowledge that acts of defiance occur within a context and if we open the door for our enemies to behave badly we may end up doing more harm than good.
drwex: (Default)
To my Uber-using readers... if you do not support Drumph's anti-immigrant, refugee-killing, Islamophobic new policies you should consider whether switching from Uber to Lyft is something you can do.

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/jan/30/deleteuber-how-social-media-turned-on-uber?CMP=twt_gu

In short:
- Uber worked to break a work-stoppage protest by taxi drivers at JFK airport over the detention of people with legal visas.
- Uber's CEO is a member of Trump's Policy Forum. (*)
- Lyft has pledged a million corporate dollars to the ACLU

(*) Presumably the Forum approves of this policy. I would believe that it was not consulted, because Steve Bannon doesn't seem to want to consult anyone before bull-in-a-chinashopping the country. However, remaining silent in the face of this action is complicity. Silence = Death, about which I'll have more to say later.
drwex: (VNV)
There's a meme going around vis-a-vis punching Nazis. I am not a pacifist - I believe that violence is sometimes necessary and that non-violent alternatives are not always the best choice. But I try not to instigate violence, even against fuckin' Nazis. Talk about your conflicted feelings.

http://news.berkeley.edu/2017/01/26/chancellor-statement-on-yiannopoulos/

I was (h/t Popehat) then directed to this statement by Chancellor Nicholas Dirks of UC Berkeley on the planned appearance on that campus of noted troll and gay-bashing hatemonger Milo Yiannopoulos. I think this statement gets it exactly correct. There are rights each of us enjoys, including the f'ing Nazis, and we must respect and uphold those rights even in the face of extreme provocation. We do so not out of some abstract loyalty to a code of rights, but because upholding such rights is consistent with the values of the communities we wish to build.

I forget who said it first, but I've always held to the principle that free speech is not necessary for popular speech - free speech is necessary for the unpopular. Lots of things my side says and will say are not popular, such as calling Drumph and his cronies liars. And some of the things the other side says are also unpopular.

When it becomes hard to uphold the unpopular rights we have to take a wider view and see who is not just having a hard time but who is actively being threatened. Who is potentially harmed by this exercise of rights? Because rights exist in a culture of values, we therefore value extending extra care and protection to those who are at risk. Our values call us to balance rights such as free speech with rights of safety and the basic liberty associated with being free of threat.

This stuff is hard even in the best of times and I suspect it's going to get harder and harder in the next four years. I want to come out of this dark period not only with my rights intact, but with my values still solid.
drwex: (Default)
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2017/01/26/constitutional-problems-with-trumps-executive-order-on-sanctuary-cities/

Ilya Somin, a noted Constitutional scholar and generally right-leaning conservative/Libertarian thinker, has a blog post up in the Washington Post arguing that Trump's order attempting to punish sanctuary cities is unconstitutional.

The basic principle is simple, if wrapped in some legal language: courts have almost universally held that states have to know the conditions under which they are accepting Federal money, and it's not permitted to change those conditions afterward, except as written into the laws. Trump is, in effect, imposing an additional condition, which is not allowed.

Why this matters is that the only significant case so far against Trump is based on a far reach that I expect the courts to reject. This one would appear to have much more solid legal footing, assuming the administration actually carries out the order.
legal wonkery follows )
Unfortunately, such suits will take years to wind through the courts and a lot of people will get hurt in those years. But I'll take small comforts where I can.
drwex: (WWFD)
http://boston.carpediem.cd/events/2405361-scientists-march-on-washington-boston-at-boston-common/

There is a Boston-local sister to the Scientists March on Washington that has been called for March 4th (nice choice of dates there, y'all). I'm extremely unlikely to go to DC but maybe I'll be down on Boston Common. We shall see. Right now the page is just a skeleton and a link to a Facebook event.
drwex: (VNV)
I stayed home and took care of the kids because that seemed like a wholly appropriate thing for a man to do while the women were out marching for their rights.

I am super-duper proud of my friends and acquaintances who marched here and in other cities.
drwex: (Default)
Whether it's outright falsehoods or "alternative facts" it's become obvious that nobody in the Trump camp has the least amount of shame in uttering outright, verifiable falsehoods. Props to those members of the media who've finally realized it's time to call a lie a lie and not just report "both sides" with whatever they think a straight face looks like. Too bad they didn't have this come-to-Jesus moment a year or 18 months ago.

So we've known Trump lies. He'll say something, then deny he said it, as though people were too stupid to go back and read his Twitter stream. He loves to blame "the media" and that gets the crowd all riled up because the media has shat its own reputation so badly that we've all grown to at least dislike them. This isn't a new phenomenon - remember when we found we could get more truth and better news from late-night (comedian) talk-show hosts than from the bobbleheads at 6PM? But the question at hand isn't why President Trump continues the behaviors he's demonstrated for the last two years but why are his staff doing this?

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-01-23/why-trump-s-staff-is-lying

Cowen's analysis starts with loyalty tests. As he says, "If you want to ascertain if someone is truly loyal to you, ask them to do something outrageous or stupid. If they balk, then you know right away they aren’t fully with you." This connects back to Trump's insistence on having his family members in close positions of advice and power - his insecurity leads him to mistrust others, but family he feels he can trust. Everyone else has to pass a loyalty test.

Cowen argues that (political) untruths can be thought of as high- versus low-status. We've all watched political figures from dissembling ambassadors to the sweating James Clapper to the linguistic gymnastics of President Clinton as people of high reputation and in positions of power try to avoid speaking honestly. At best we can call what they did "misdirection" in the sense that they were also trying to avoid speaking blunt untruths. These are high-status untruths and each of them lied about matters of significance. On the other hand, we have a Press Secretary now who lied about the weather (really??) and about attendance counts at events, untruths that have no effective significance. A lower-status lie is the sort of thing one would get jailed for on a witness stand.

Cowen argues that "Trump specializes in lower-status lies, typically more of the bald-faced sort, namely stating “x” when obviously “not x” is the case." Trump does this because he does not care about the opinions of those who will call him on his lies, and his supporters love that he doesn't care about it. This, too, is a form of loyalty test. If you're with the Trump camp then you are OK with these sorts of lies. If you're not OK with these sorts of lies then you are clearly not one of the loyalists.

I'm reminded of a recent blog by John Scalzi, which introduced me to the phrase "Gish Gallop". Like Scalzi, Cowen seems to be arguing that this sort of ongoing torrent of outrageousness is a kind of cover under which real damage will be done while people argue about whether or not it was raining during the inauguration.
drwex: (Default)
Three things are true:

1. Prior to the most recent election season, Ted Cruz was willing to run the American economy off a fiscal cliff by political maneuverings around paying national debt.

2. During the recent campaign, Cruz was repeatedly humiliated by Trump, both politically and personally.

3. The debt ceiling will need to be raised again this year, possibly as early as March, though I'm seeing some pundits saying that could be stretched until June. A lot depends on the economy performance and taxes. All of this is independent of changes Congress will make in the next six months. It's possible they could pass some of Trump's more expensive ideas and the reckoning will come sooner. Regardless, it's single-digit months away.

If Cruz remains angry at Trump this would be a perfect opportunity to put the new President into a very uncomfortable position. I think Cruz and Congress would lose this again - just as they lost it the last few times around - but if Cruz is personally mad enough he just might not give a sh*t.

Players in this fight will (assuming Trump gets his nominees railroaded... err, approved into office) include a budget director who is on record (as a Congressman) as opposing raising the debt ceiling, and a bevy of Wall Street insiders who will utterly freak their faces off if it looks like US debt reliability is going to be called into question.

Things to look forward to...
drwex: (VNV)
https://thinkprogress.org/the-center-has-fallen-and-white-nationalism-is-filling-the-vacuum-beb0611dfe94#.aze0c9b29

Interesting read from Think Progress's Ned Resnikoff. It's kind of a deep exploration of how white nationalism came to be a dominant theme in this election and to some extent around the world. The theory, if I have it right, is that racism has always been there. Agreed. I've long said Trump was a symptom, not the problem itself.

But racism (the theory goes) can be subdued by peoples' self interests and particularly their economic self-interests when it appears everyone is getting ahead. This sort of self-interested centrism is labeled Third Way (presumably neither right/left nor liberal/conservative) and was kind of the consensus view from Clinton through Bush and into Obama. But when people (feel that) they are not getting ahead then racist tendencies move to the fore, and Resnikoff argues that an ideological vacuum and misapprehended economics have led to a collapse of this centrist ideology.

In its place we get authoritarian white populism, but not a typical right-wing sort. Instead you get a mix of ideologies from typical left (protect welfare state) and typical right (greed is good) - what they call "welfare chauvinism" mixed with "market nationalism". Both feature an "us first" twist that appeals to people who feel that free markets and free trade aren't benefiting them (they're right) and who feel that the government is unfairly favoring minorities and non-citizens (they're wrong).

So generally I'm nodding along with this - you should read it to get all the background and details I'm leaving out - and I come across this:
Under no circumstances should [supporters of pluralist democracy] back away from its commitment to pluralism. The aim of white nationalism is to destroy the multiracial democratic state, and any attempt at compromise will only bring it closer to that goal. People of color, women, LGBT people, and members of other marginalized groups are not a liability to the resistance against Trump; they are its leaders.

Which I sort of agree with - as I've written, I reject compromise with this brand of fascist ideology. And I certainly want to retain a movement that connects with the communities that make up a pluralistic society, including city dwellers, rural inhabitants, people of all ages and education levels. Marginalized groups are an important part of that coalition.

But if we (white dudes) are going to expect those under attack to lead the counter aren't we shirking our responsibility? I believe that Trump and Trump-ism (which I'll continue using as a shorthand for this kind of white nationalism, even though I realize it's a multi-country problem) is a white dude problem. We made this mess - why should we expect the people most hurt by it to lead the clean-up?

And just in case you'd forgotten how the whole thing went, here's Yeats's The Second Coming

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

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