It's that time of the week, that for the past year I have (almost) weekly shared links I found fun or interesting or informative. There's a mix of news and pop culture and Hamilton. Not this week. I was going to include just a handful of political links related to the new administration or last week's election. But then I saw that, really, there were a lot of links like that. And more than that, this is stuff I think is important to share and remember. So, in a year when only Breitbart and InfoWars are allowed in the White House press room*, at least I'll have this post to make me feel better.
*I really hope this is a joke.
Here's a picture of booze and political links. Next week, I'll get back to a better mix of information and fun (I already have a couple lined up!), but this week, stuff that scares the shit out of me! Feel free to skip to the bottom, where I've stored the positive items and actions progressives can take.
Where to begin? The thing that scares me the most right is the normalization of this racism and the gaslighting, the delegitimatizing of the press by the incoming administration. It's terrifying. Sopan Deb, who covered the campaign for CBS, talks about his year on the trail and everything we cannot normalize. Clinton had to be perfect and Obama was criticized for every move by the right, but we need to work to prevent this White House and Congress from giving credence to Nazis and White Supremacists.
One thing we need to remember, when it's May and President Trump is widening libel laws to limit freedom of the press and Republicans shrug their shoulders and say 'the Americans wanted this': they didn't. Clinton won the popular vote. By a lot. In fact, the numbers are still coming in (and from super-blue states like California) but she will end up being the most-voted for President behind President Obama. PS, know who is super popular right now? So, no, there is not a mandate or a blank check here. Just a fucked up electoral college that is based on slavery and sexism. And, apparently, Russia! Side note - a foreign nation interfered with our election. I hope our Congress treats this as seriously as it has treated Benghazi the past few years. But regardless, when the Republicans try to get rid of Medicare or deport immigrants or put Muslims in internment camps, remember that most Americans said 'no.'
Next up: giving him a chance. There were a lot of requests to give the new President a chance after the surprise victory. Abandon the past year and a half of racism, sexism, homophobia, and nationalism? Plus that time he mocked a disabled reporter? Honestly, okay, fine, he's our President now. Seth Meyers gave a great send off on why that chance is gone, the end. Steve Bannon has been given the keys to the castle. You know, the guy who beat his wife, said he didn't want his daughters to go to school with Jews, and ran an extreme alt-right website. That guy. And if you think they're not all that bad, what about that nice blonde lady - she threatened one of his opponents 'in a legal sense.' But hey, unity! The nicest thing I can say about the rest of the cabinet names running around is 'they don't seem to get worse.' Just the same level of, holy shit, how the hell did we get here. Samantha Bee summarizes. After her episode, it came out that one of the Supreme Court justices on the Trump list doesn't think gay people should be allowed to have sex. Because Republicans are the party of small government. The Keepin' It 1600 guys mentioned in this week's podcast that there is a cycle of deplorableness here: the Trump administration is a bunch of crazy criminals that pushes away anyone sane that tries to help, so more crazy and corrupt criminals are pulled into the inner circle. There isn't a lot of room for optimism this week. Further proof: the NYT reports that one guy was removed from transition team because he refused to doctor his Benghazi results. And they may have run around calling Hillary corrupt during the election, but we have literal lobbyists for foreign nations in the transition team. As for a check system, here is what Republicans in Congress have to say about these names being put out: a collective shrug of the shoulders. But Obama had to denounce his reverend based on a comment he made twenty years ago, sure. Glen Beck is now a voice of reason! How did we get here?
Side note: any comparisons to Clinton should stop now. Trump isn't campaigning against her. He should now be compared to the office itself and former Presidents. That being said, watching this clusterfuck of a transition team makes me wistful for the binders and binders you know Clinton had for this exact moment.
Here is where I devolve a bit. In Germany, I only interact with a handful of Republicans on a regular basis. One of them is a colleague in the States. He was never a Trump supporter, didn't vote for him. The day or two after the election he expressed some concern. Then he got on the Trump train. He rambled on about the protests and the dishonest media and the fake hate crimes. Luckily, a literal ocean separates us, so I was able to quickly disentangle myself from a conversation that was going nowhere. Here are the pieces that, represented by my cube buddy, are the reasonable right:
- His position: The hate crimes are exaggerated or made up by the left to make the right look bad! And the media isn't reporting about all the hate crimes by Trump opponents! Okay, first, are some of these hate crimes, reported since Trump's victory, coming from his opponents? Yeah, sure. But this many? I don't think so. Even that nice woman who shared the Hillary hiking photo is getting death threats and journalists are receiving anti-Semitic threats. As for this 'mainstream media' suggestion. First, I can't take that seriously from someone who only quotes Fox News. Second, I think the right has lost the 'mainstream media' excuse for at least the next four years. Two stories: an email scandal that went nowhere versus banning an entire religion. Guess which one got more coverage? Yes, media echo chamber is a thing but don't tell me I should abandon my New York Times subscription and NPR podcasts for fucking Fox News. Finally, it doesn't matter where the hate crimes come from, they need to stop. I'm writing this on Wednesday. The President elect has tweeted eighteen times (and held zero press conferences) since his election. Half are discrediting NYT. Zero are about stopping hate crimes.
And speaking of the press: historically, the WH press core always knows where the President is, including the President Elect. This is so that, if a crisis occurs, the American people know where the President is. The President does not get to go dark. And guess what? This jackass has, just a week into it. Slate summarizes why this is really, really bad.
What else is the new president doing to undermine the press. Flat-out lying via Twitter. It's a post-truth world. While some of the policy topics are concerning, nothing worries me more than the idea that facts and reality don't matter. Anyone can say whatever they want, especially if they're messaging from an @POTUS account.
Additionally, during the election, there was a lot of over the Clinton Foundation, a charitable organization that provides aid to third world countries. Was there access to Clinton while she was SoS via donations? What about those foreign donations? The Trump Organization and the unheard of ethical dilemma a President Trump would face in relation to this organization, that was not covered so much. Here's a summary. And a reminder that the Clinton Foundation is a charity, Trump Organization is a global for-profit business enterprise. But, sure, the media was totally in the bag for Clinton this whole time.
-Speaking of conflicts of interest: Ivanka is already using her dad's presidency to hawk jewelry. Classy! Not to mention, the transition website (it's .gov, so paid by tax payers) mentions Trump hotels and Melania's fashion lines. Presidency for profit, even before inauguration. Additionally, there are reports that Trump has plans to spend a significant amount of time at Trump Tower. This is going to be insanely expensive and difficult, not to mention a pain in the ass for New Yorkers trying to get to work. But sure, his focusing is Making America Great Again.
On top of a for-profit Presidency, there's also some staggering incompetency. From the WSJ (owned by the same guy who owns Fox News) reports that the Trump transition team did not realize that they would be replacing the entire White House staff. During a meeting with Obama, Trump was surprised at the scope of the job and Obama has said he will be more involved in the new administration. On Maddow's Monday program, she expressed consternation that the transition team had not yet been in contact with the FBI or the CIA.
There are rumors floating around of Trump not making it to inauguration - maybe he drops out because he can't spend his weekends at Trump Tower or he gets impeached ASAP by House Republicans. Who knows how likely this is. What I do know? Mike Pence is no walk in the park. Finally, threatening to grab a woman's pussy might not turn the electorate's stomach, but you know what does? Emails. And Mike Pence is currently trying to keep his under wraps. Somewhere in New York, Hillary is trying to choose between laughing and crying.
- A lot of people are going to be sitting down to awkward Thanksgiving dinners next week, sharing a bottle of wine with people they ideologically oppose. There are two schools of thought: Trump voters or not racist, don't lump them all together. And then there's the other side. I'm related to Republicans who primarily vote for one reason: gun rights. In 2012, when they voted for Mitt Romney because someone had convinced them Obama would take away their guns (PS, Obama has done nothing towards gun control, we couldn't even get a gun registry that most of the country supports). In 2016, these people voted to remove people from health care, encouraged Islamophobia, encouraged mocking the disabled, supported deportation and destruction of families, so they could maintain their gun rights. That Hillary was probably not going to touch. A guy who, when elected President, rushes to call Putin before the CIA or Pentagon, because fuck the Syrians. If this were a normal election year, we could agree to disagree. But one side was against the basic human rights of huge portions of this country and across the globe. But don't worry - my racist uncle can buy a rifle within a few hours in Indiana. Thank God, the rights that matter. Here is a great letter from someone whose rights are legitimately threatened by the new administration. Additionally, we may be losing Medicare and Social Security, but I guess we can use guns as a means of healthcare moving forward.
- I also have a 'Bernie or Bust' contingent that insists Bernie would have beaten Trump. We literally have no way of knowing since Bernie never went against Trump. We never saw what a Bernie opposition would have looked like. And given the anti-Semitic tone of portions of the campaign, who the hell knows. There's also the idea that the DNC rigged it for Hillary. This did not happen. Here's a handy Newsweek article that tackles both ideas. Can the Democrats move on now?
- Finally, the new President is going to appear on Infowars, that website that suggested Sandy Hook was a conspiracy and kids didn't actually die. As I said when I started this list, we didn't even have time to give him a chance. Look at what's happened in the first week of his presidency!
Well, that was a depressing list. Here's some good stuff, I guess.
- Hillary Clinton was the first candidate to use the phrase "I'm Sorry" in a concession speech. You know what else? She was the first female major party candidate. Those two things have something in common. Seriously, I saw this article and Twitter and did a double take. On the guidance of mentors, I have been purposefully been trying to apologize less. Hillary Clinton and Alicia Florrick, truly every woman.
- Someone wrote a letter from Hillary's perspective. Obama has decided to remain the classiest and stick around to help that guy who mocked him and questioned his birth for the past eight years. What will Hillary do? Who knows. But for right now, if she wants to say 'fuck 'em,' I say, 'go for it.' The bully won this round. Lisa Simpsons and Leslie Knopes everywhere need a drink.
- What Hillary is actually doing: she spoke for the first time Wednesday night at the Children's Defense Fund (on the other hand, the only thing the President Elect has done outside of his concession speech, rather than give a press conference, is tweet and go to dinner in NYC to promise rich people he'll lower their taxes). During her speech, she admitted that it was difficult to get over last week's election but she encouraged everyone to keep fighting, that America is worth it. I'm proud of her for not sticking with the dogs and the good book and I look forward to supporting her in future endeavors.
- My company has a diversity initiative, a group of people that encourage minorities and women (I'm an engineer, women are a minority here) in the workplace and in the leadership. Apparently, there has been a lot of concern among this group following the election, enough to cause them to send out an email to everyone ensuring that this group is going to continue to strive under a Trump administration. It's encouraging that they did this but disheartening that they felt thy had to. There are other encouraging signs from the tech world. It might be too little too late (prior to election, fake news on Facebook was more popular than actual news), but Facebook and Google are taking steps to minimize fake news content (like that Breitbart article saying Trump won the popular vote). Twitter is making moves to minimize hate speech (taking away our new President's account might be a good first step).
- Final link: a handful of writers take their stab at this election nightmare in The New Yorker.
So now what? Like the 1600 guys this week, I'm past being shocked or saddened. I'm pissed and ready to do whatever I can to fell better but also be productive. Here's what I have:
- Art. Go find something to fall in love with! I tried hard this weekend. I went to three different movie theaters around my German city, but nothing I was interested in was in English. I miss going to the theater so much. When I return to the Midwest in December, I'm hitting up a movie a day, at least. I don't even care about their rotten tomatoes score! Grab a good book. Get into a stellar TV show. I'm one more Breitbart article away from picking up Game of Thrones again. Vulture has a few suggestion for 'feel-good' television series to check out. I know I'm going to be somewhat dependent on the West Wing gang for the next few years.
- Donations. Pick a cause you think the Republicans will destroy. And donate! Worried about abortion rights? You should be - our new President thinks Roe v. Wade is outta here. So go give Planned Parenthood your time or money. There's Propublica and the ACLU. There's also organizations like EMILY's list, which helps women run for office. Also print journalism. You know who had great, honest Trump coverage this year? The Washington Post. Go buy a newspaper!
- Action. There are elections at every level coming up in the next year or two. There are peaceful protests at most major cities. Go get involved. When something really troubling starts to happen, like putting an anti-Semitic White Nationalist in the White House, call your local congressman or senator. Here are some tips for communicating with your representatives. CNN has a whole list of great ways to be involved beyond just posting on FB. Also, a weekly newsletter has started to provide concrete steps that we can take as individuals to maintain progressive ideals during a Trump Presidency. While I was in the States, I volunteered with the Humane Society. Go walk a dog or pet a cat. I'm going to assume the Republicans hate that.
- Finally, here's an excellent article on how to handle the next four years. To sum up: treat the poison as a promise; treat people like adults and demand they understand the consequences of their actions; and refuse to accept this as the new normal.