Reflections on Last Night

November 6, 2018 Michigan General Election results -- view here

1) The Democrats took the House.
2) The Democrats took the House.
3) The Democrats took the House.

Yes, it’s that important. The Trump administration can no longer act with complete impunity. There will be oversight. It will be feckless (because Democrats are involved) and there will be kicking, screaming, and obstruction (because Republicans are involved) and a good share of outright blatant lying (because Trump is involved). But it is a vast improvement on the past 2 years. More importantly, it is a sign that the country is not yet one large Trumpist Nuremburg Rally.

4) Still a LOT of work to go.

Florida broke a LOT of people’s hearts and seems to be tipping from a swing state to a deep Florida-man red state. In Texas, Beto’s charisma and electoral skill couldn’t beat the fact that almost no Democrats, still, win in what remains a deeply Republican state. And don’t even get me started about Georgia, which appears to have given the governor’s mansion to a Disney villain.

The country is deeply divided, and Trump’s Republicans (for more than ever, the GOP is Trump, no longer conservative, but a party of the personality cult) will do their damnedest to make it worse.

5) The Democrats took the House.

Anyone want to start taking bets on which Russian oligarchs Putin is using to launder Gazprom money to the Trump organization? Because we’re about to find out.

The News Cycle Is 33 Minutes

Brett Kavanaugh, with his wife, Ashley Estes Kavanaugh, answers questions during a Fox News interview that aired Sept. 24, 2018.
“I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone! Pinky swear! Would I make my wife go through this if I were guilty?”

So, how’s your Monday going?

The news has been positively in full meltdown – not only have more Brett Kavanaugh accusers come forward (3 to 4 now, depending on how/if you count Avenatti – and I’d argue you shouldn’t, given Avenatti’s predilection to overpromise and never deliver) but this morning saw the spectacle of the Justice Department melting into Trumpy goo as Rosenstein either quit, was fired, or was given a very nice fish, depending on whom you listen to.

Yet, when thought about from a touch of perspective, it becomes clear.

  • First off, the real story, is the Kavanaugh nomination immolating. Right now, the Republican senate is faced with forcing through the nomination — and to do so, they will have to keep at least 3 of at last report 4 wavering moderate GOP senators onside for what would be easily the most brazen exercise of raw power in a process that has already seen quite a few. McConnell may be many things (lacking in morals, utterly transactional in ethics, devoid of charisma, possibly Yertle the Turtle) but he can count votes. That is what is frightening the government today.
  • Trump is also many things (insert a long and very creative stream of profanity here) but he is a consummate master of drama. He also very much understands how a certain type of media works – the type that is dependent on leaks to function, mistakes gossip for analysis, and needs a constant flow of newness. When called on to actually explain a policy position, Trump cannot finish a sentence. When called on to give an interview to TMZ, Trump is a wordsmith.
  • So, someone decided that what was needed right now was the Mother of All Distractions. The #Resistance is concerned that Trump is about to fire Rosenstein and put the Mueller investigation on ice? Then do it! No, wait, don’t! No, wait, leak that he resigned! No, have it leak that he was fired! Look this way! Look that way! Go! Go! Go!
  • Backing this up: the story originally broke on Axios. Axios was founded by one of the more conservative founders of Politico (itself a website devoted to process as opposed to policy and gossip as opposed to governance) and is by far the favorite place for high-level Trump staffers to leak strategic stories. Normally it’s a staffer planting a knife in a rival’s back – today it seems TOO chaotic. Chaos for the sake of a certain order.
  • What is the end goal? Why, my friends, that’s the best part.

There is none.

Trump, and his cohorts, are day traders. Day traders exist on the stock market as leeches (off a market that itself makes money off speculating on the fortunes of others who actually build things) – they don’t care about longevity or consequence; they simply are looking toward the next four hours.

Things blowing up? Blow them up harder and run away. Total day trader move. Very Trump. Much chaos.

As someone memorably said earlier this year, what we’re seeing is less a news cycle and more the Cylons attacking every 33 minutes. Some perspective can actually help. So, where are we?

  • Kavanaugh may or may not be toast. We’re still going to get a far-right conservative replacement who will shift the balance of the court for decades.
  • Rosenstein may or may not survive the week. Mueller’s investigation may or may not be in jeopardy.
  • If the Democrats flip at least the House of Representatives in November, then next year there will be many, many more investigations regardless. If they do not… well, then we get the government we deserve.

Class War Is Classy

2nd amendment defenders/NRA lobbyists/etc: gun rights are the last line of defense against a government run riot! We’re Americans, we’re REBELS! This is what we DO!

Me, seeing the future:

  • some guy killing 4 cops when they serve him an eviction notice because his mortgage jacked the interest up where he couldn’t pay
  • some guy killing 5 people because he doesn’t have a paycheck any more because he couldn’t pay his student loans
  • some gal who furnished her house on credit and thanks to usurious interest rates it ballooned to the point she couldn’t pay any more and the bill collectors just kept calling

I can go all day. Recognize any yet?

Class war ain’t pretty. We stopped it at the turn of the 20th century by giving union rights and the 8 hour day. Now the right wing thinks unions smell funny and the 8 hour day is for suckers. Meanwhile our national income is monopolized by fewer and fewer.

It’s getting so lining up the 1% for guillotines is the BEST option. (We already gave up on giving the 99% scraps from the table — that’s apparently a horrible thing that can never happen ever, we need to lower taxes on the wealthiest MORE instead.)

You don’t want the worst option. History is illustrative. I know – research is hard for you, random CEO who happens to be reading this. You never took any humanities courses in college because they were for losers. You have assistants who give you the gist in printouts. Here, let me help.

It will be very, very ugly.

The Irony Is, As Always, Not Lost On Me

Guild Wars Studio Fires Two Employees After Clash With Streamer – The Verge

HI FRIENDS THIS IS WHY LUMTHEMAD.NET WILL NEVER EVER COME BACK

This incident may have been the first time that particular streamer felt the need to jump in with his opinion, but for Price, it was just the latest in a long-running stream of interactions with the fan community that she felt consistently demeaned her expertise. “By the time that guy came along, I was so tired of having random people explain my job to me… where I had to just smile and nod that it was like, ‘No. Not here. Not in my space,’” she says.

Price adds that she believes her firing was an emotional reaction on the part of ArenaNet co-founder Mike O’Brien. “He fired me personally, and the meeting was mostly him venting his feelings at me,” she says. “I understand being afraid when you see the Reddit mob coming for you, but if people with less power can weather it — and we do, regularly — so can he.”

Price says that prior to being fired, the company had never discussed her social media presence with her or issued a warning for anything she had posted. “If it was covered in orientation, I wouldn’t know. I got pulled out of orientation to jump into rebreaking the story arc for this season of Living World.”

Furthermore, ArenaNet was not only aware of her outspoken approach to discussing similar issues on social media but encouraging of it. During a job interview with the company, she had told them she was “loud about these issues on social media and had no intention of shutting up. They reassured me that they ‘admired [my] willingness to speak truth to power.’”

Your boss will never have your back.

Your social media will kill you.

I am unemployed and interviewing and terrified.

This is not the future we wanted.

Give Me Your Poor, Your Wretched, Your Huddled Masses… Wait. Not That Many. Less Huddling, Please.

2018: A Year of Reporting Deeply on Refugees and Migration — Refugees Deeply

“This is rumor control. Here are the facts.” — Warden Andrews, Alien 3

1980 – 2010: The central American region (composed largely of a triangle of countries surrounding El Salvador, including Honduras, Guatemala, and parts of Mexico) begin to collapse economically and politically. The causes are many, beginning with civil war and revolution in the 1980s, but rapidly eclipsed by drug money fueling corruption and violent gangs which in the 21st century outgun every other armed force (including the governments involved).

American response has been limited at best, chiefly because of a lack of willingness to tackle the problem of the huge market in the US for illegal drugs.

2010 – 2014: Central America continues to suffer from civil disorder and violent crime (Honduras and El Salvador both have a staggering murder rate of 90/100k people – the murder rate in Detroit is 40/100k) As part of a larger global migration of refugees from failed states to rich nations (Libya, Syria, Afghanistan, Africa in general) Central Americans begin to flee the region en masse, chiefly for the US (where there has previously been communities of Central American migrants). Among these migrants (who mainly arrive via walking through the violent region for months) are thousands of unaccompanied children. The US is utterly unprepared to deal with this influx. Many of these migrants are economic migrants looking for a way to support themselves and their families, many others flee from gang-related terrorism. Requests for asylum at the border reach an all-time high (despite recent rhetoric, the right of refugees to claim asylum from persecution is recognized by the Geneva Conventions); due to the lack of ability to hold those who request asylum due to years-long immigration court backups asylum seekers are often released into the community. The reaction among Americans is split; many on the US right seek to curtail immigration (legal and illegal entirely) to protect against what they see as a foreign invasion.

2015 – 2016: Donald Trump runs for President. His speech announcing his candidacy is notable for its anti-migrant (specifically anti-Mexican) rhetoric. His campaign, which focuses largely on the threat of violent migrants from Mexico and Central America (it is unclear if Trump understands the difference), although initially dismissed as a joke quickly achieves front-runner status among a dozen other very surprised candidates, and then (by reports surprising even he and his close associates) is elected President.

2017: The new administration seeks to advance its anti-migration agenda, but is blocked by the courts (the complete ban of anyone entering the country from a list of chiefly Muslim countries, widely seen as an attempt to replicate Trump’s promise to enact “a complete shutdown of Muslims entering the US until we figure out what’s going on”) and by legislative infighting (Trump’s quixotic quest to erect a physical border wall along the entire southern border, and somehow have Mexico pay for the privilege). Thanks to the inexperience of Trump at governing in general, few actions are actually taken. Migration actually drops during the year, partially due to a sense of American hostility towards Central American migrants in general.

2018: Trump’s administration both begins to learn to use the levers of power it has at lower levels (the phrase I’ve used is “malevolent competence”) and also, thanks to the corruption at almost every level of the administration, desperately seeks out distractions on a daily basis. The Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, a long-time immigration hard liner who is estranged from Trump personally thanks to his refusal to act as a personal political secret policeman for the President, along with his long-time aide, hard-right ideologue Stephen Miller, enact a policy of “zero tolerance”. This involves closing what is seen as a “loophole” – the ability of Central American refugees to claim asylum status at the border, by refusing to take asylum claims anywhere except at a few defined “ports of entry”, and arresting as illegal border crossers anyone who presents themselves as an asylum seeker elsewhere. (Note: this is illegal, as it prevents asylum seekers from actually obtaining safe harbor) Those who arrive at the correct entry locations to undergo a poorly staffed and overwhelmed entry procedure designed chiefly to prevent them from proceeding further.

Until recently, those with families who tried to petition for asylum were not detained as described above. As of May of this year, that was changed. This is why we are now building the infrastructure of detention camps for children and forcing them into an already overcrowded foster care system.

Many of the people who work at the border do their best under this strain to be as professional and empathetic as possible. Many others, to put it mildly, do not.

The core problem, however, is simply this. We have a migrant crisis, as does the world. There are millions of people who are fleeing conditions best described as apocalyptic. How we respond to this defines who we are.

I need not say how we are defining ourselves currently.