From the world pool: March 18, 2017

It’s world pool post. Go snuggle someone.

Socio-political commentary

US politics

There Is No American ‘Deep State’: Experts on Turkish politics say the use of that term misunderstands what it means in Turkey—and the ways that such allegations can be used to enable political repression.

“Be careful playing with the deep-state idea, because it can so easily get out of control that it becomes a monster that helps whoever’s in charge curb freedom and intimidate dissidents, because it’s such a nebulous concept,” said Soner Cagaptay, who directs the Turkish Research Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “You don’t have to prove that it exists. Once [the notion is] out there, and the public starts to believe it, anybody can be attached to it.”

The Reclusive Hedge-Fund Tycoon Behind the Trump Presidency

Potter, a Republican, sees Mercer as emblematic of a major shift in American politics that has occurred since 2010, when the Supreme Court made a controversial ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. That ruling, and several subsequent ones, removed virtually all limits on how much money corporations and nonprofit groups can spend on federal elections, and how much individuals can give to political-action committees. Since then, power has tilted away from the two main political parties and toward a tiny group of rich mega-donors.

Jared Kushner’s Chinese miracle: Kushner’s family firm scores a miraculous deal with a secretive Chinese company.

President Donald Trump has made his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, the administration’s primary point of contact with the Chinese government. Now a Chinese firm with mysterious ownership structure and suspected ties to the Chinese government has made an “unusually favorable” deal with Kushner’s family real estate company. 

Donald Trump Is A Rich Man’s Idea Of A Rich Man

So much of this “poor man’s idea of a rich man” sentiment trades on the idea that there’s something especially classless about Trump’s demeanour and lifestyle, which is undeniably true. But phrased this way, it leaves another idea unspoken: that the problem is less his wealth than how he displays it, and that there is an unproblematically noble way to be rich that is only spoiled by stupidly gauche poor people with their foolish notions of how to use money. …Presumably Mitt Romney is the “right” kind of rich person, one who doesn’t buy gold faucets but adroitly robs people of their pensions instead?

Trump’s Dictator Chic

Trump’s design aesthetic is fascinatingly out of line with America’s past and present. If you doubt it, note that the interiors of the apartments his company actually sells bear no resemblance to the one he lives in. But that doesn’t mean his taste comes from nowhere. At one level, it’s aspirational, meant to project the wealth so many citizens can only dream of. But it also has important parallels—not with Italian Renaissance or French baroque, where its flourishes come from, but with something more recent. The best aesthetic descriptor of Trump’s look, I’d argue, is dictator style.

The budget and the “deconstruction of the administrative state”

Trump federal budget 2018: Massive cuts to the arts, science and the poor  This is terrifying.

The cuts could represent the widest swath of reductions in federal programs since the drawdown after World War II, probably leading to a sizable cutback in the federal non-military workforce, something White House officials said was one of their goals. “You can’t drain the swamp and leave all the people in it,” White House Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney told reporters.

So: money goes into military spending and comes out of everything else. One might think this administration thought it would be handy to have a nice distracting war.

This Is the Ending Conservatives Always Wanted

This proposed budget isn’t extreme. Reagan’s proposed budget in 1981 was extreme. This budget is short-sighted, cruel to the point of being sadistic, stupid to the point of pure philistinism, and shot through with the absolute and fundamentalist religious conviction that the only true functions of government are the ones that involve guns, and that the only true purpose of government is to serve the rich.

The State of Trump’s State Department

This week began with reports that President Donald Trump’s budget proposal will drastically slash the State Department’s funding, and last week ended with White House adviser and former Breitbart head Stephen Bannon telling the attendees of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference that what he and the new president were after was a “deconstruction of the administrative state.” At the State Department, which employs nearly 70,000 people around the world, that deconstruction is already well underway.

The Real Cost of Abolishing the National Endowment for the Arts

65 percent of the NEA’s direct grants go to small and medium-sized arts groups, keeping the arts alive in rural and underserved communities. It’s here where the agency’s elimination would be most keenly felt, at organizations largely ignored by private donors, but which bring the arts to audiences including veterans and schoolchildren, often in impoverished neighborhoods. …Although the most storied arts centers in the U.S. will also be affected by a lack of NEA funds, they already have an existing infrastructure of private donors. By comparison, smaller groups outside of cities will be much harder hit.  

New study finds 45,000 deaths annually linked to lack of health coverage: Uninsured, working-age Americans have 40 percent higher death risk than privately insured counterparts

I have health coverage for the first time in four years thanks to Obamacare

Just as it was a lie that poor people and millennials buy fancy phones instead of health coverage, there is a simple but huge lie used by Republicans to try to dismantle and eliminate ALL government programs that help low-income Americans: The poor are lazy and undeserving. The GOP would have you believe that there is some massive population of people who do not have money because they simply do not want to work. Conservatives call programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP or “food stamps”) “entitlements” because they want you to imagine a bunch of slothful adults who do not contribute to society and feel “entitled” to being supported by the government.

This lie is pervasive and has been repeated for decades. Even those of us who know it is not true have internalized it to some degree. It is a shaming lie, and purposefully so because it is meant to discourage people from seeking assistance when they need it. And it is often racialized to make white Americans believe that the programs are utilized mainly by Black Americans, in a cynical ploy to leverage racism among whites to decrease support for such programs.

The Real Peril Of Crowdfunding Health Care: On who gets funded — and who gets left behind.

Unspeakable Realities Block Universal Health Coverage In The US

When it seems like people are voting against their interests, I have probably failed to understand their interests. We cannot begin to understand Election 2016 until we acknowledge the power and reach of socialism for white people.

Canadian politics

Something fishy about B.C. political contributions?


World Faces Largest Humanitarian Crisis Since 1945, U.N. Official Says

In Somalia, little sign of promised food aid for 6 million people facing starvation


Bernie Sanders’ Campaign Faced A Fake News Tsunami. Where Did It Come From?

Facebook Goes Full “Black Mirror”: How Facebook Is Making Membership a Prerequisite to Everyday Existence

I know that for you Facebook-having people, this is no big deal. You have resigned yourself to the idea of Facebook owning your data. But if you don’t, haven’t and/or won’t resign to this fate, you might end up left, like me, in a peculiar situation: the price of “sharing” a car equals money plus forking over a huge trove of personal data. Personal information is supplanting money as a form of currency.

Indigenous issues

B.C. author tells the horrific story of so-called ‘Indian hospitals’

Truth and Reconciliation Commission: By the numbers

Odds of dying for Canadians serving in WWII: 1 in 26
Odds of dying for children in Indian residential schools: 1 in 25

Racism and Diversity

Welcome To The Anti-Racism Movement — Here’s What You’ve Missed. This is a must-read.

Your welcome parade. You missed it.

It was a beauty too — floats and streamers and everybody was clapping and cheering. But then it ended and we swept up all the confetti and everyone had to get back to work. Sorry.

The GOP Is America’s Party of White Nationalism The Republican party’s racists were once pushed to the fringes. In the Trump era, they’re in charge.

This is how the Bannons and Kings view the modern world: The West is threatened by hordes of swarthy outsiders, especially Mexicans and Muslims, and they are lonely defenders of the white Christian race against this insidious threat. 

@absurdistwords: How Racist Imagery has pervaded US culture since Reconstruction

Sikh Americans Prepare For Resurgence Of Anti-Islamic Violence

The post 9/11 violence against Sikhs was punctuated in 2012 with the shocking murder of six Sikhs during prayer in a gurdwara in Wisconsin by a white supremacist. But outside of high-profile murders, little attention in the mainstream press has been paid to such incidents. This is likely due in part to the fact that — while nobody should have to face bigotry, discrimination, and violence because of their faith or ethnicity — it is particularly challenging to talk about people who are facing threats for a faith and ethnicity that they don’t actually belong to.

Feminism and International Women’s Day

The best and worst places to be a working woman

A Women’s Strike Reader

In support of the International Women’s Strike on March 8—a day of action planned by women in more than fifty different countries—Dissent presents a series of socialist feminist highlights from our archives.

International Women’s Day videos 

Perfect Protests Don’t Exist, But We All Have A Part To Play

It’s an easy thing to believe in: thousands of people find common cause, all marching in the streets in solidarity. We’ve watched movies (Hair in which song and dance truly change the world), and very special episodes of our favorite shows (Saved By The Bell: The College Years when A.C. Slater is radicalized by the sudden realization that he’s Mexican), for years. The arc is always the same: several people stand up for The Cause, stick together, and win. The protests are always led by good people, with good intentions, who always so the same good thing, and the outcome always lands on the right side of history. There’s drama for entertainment, but it rarely affects the outcome. We only see movies and TV shows about the protests that worked, and even then, they’re shown to us through rose-tinted film. Reality is messier. People are messier. There will never be a resistance we all have the privilege to participate in equally. This is not, and cannot be the goal. Critique is vital, and often spot on, but the continued dismissal of every imperfect effort will certainly be how we paralyze our own progress.

Gender issues

Sometimes I Forget I’m a Monster

There is this massive gulf between your ordinary life and public perception, one you cannot make sense of, much less bridge. Moment by moment you move between being part of a world you adore, and then defending your right to exist in it. You move between being enjoyed and loved by all those who know and interact with you, and being feared and loathed by those who don’t. You are both unremarkable, and a monster.

Trans Women Shouldn’t Have To Constantly Defend Their Own Womanhood

As many black feminists — like Kimberlé Crenshaw, who coined the term intersectionality — have been pointing out for decades, race and class divisions create a such variety of life experiences that we can only come to view the idea of a singular experience of girlhood and womanhood as a myth. No one is actually saying trans women and cis women’s experiences are exactly the same — and that’s because no two women’s experiences are exactly the same. There is not one womanhood, but many.


‘The millennial side hustle,’ not stable job, is the new reality for university grads: Recent graduates are finding a post-secondary education is no longer a guarantee of stable employment.

“With a good education, you will have a good future. With a good education, you will have a good job,” said Kimberly Ellis-Hale, an instructor at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ont., who teaches sociology and other subjects. “And I think for past generations, it may have been [the case]. I think for future generations, it’s not a guarantee.”

Even though economic indicators that track employment reveal a trend toward more precarious jobs, Ellis-Hale says most of her students don’t see that as their future. She didn’t either, but that’s how things turned out. Ellis-Hale is contract faculty, and even though she’s been teaching university courses at Laurier since 1998, she has to re-apply for her job every four months.

The reality of poverty:


Middlebury, Murray, and the Problem of False Equivalence

More problematic, though, is the way that a myth of false equivalence pervades this entire discourse. The condemnations of the students seem to be based upon the image of college as an Athenian lyceum, where Socrates takes on all comers, and ideas rise or fall on their merits. But that image rests on two erroneous assumptions: first, that both parties in the dialogue have equal power; and second, that all the ideas addressed in the dialogue possess merit. 

A Major New Study Shows That Political Polarization Is Mainly A Right-Wing Phenomenon

“Use of disinformation by partisan media sources is neither new nor limited to the right wing, but the insulation of the partisan right-wing media from traditional journalistic media sources, and the vehemence of its attacks on journalism in common cause with a similarly outspoken president, is new and distinctive.”

This Man Hiked the Entire Route of the Keystone XL Pipeline

It’s not just education, though. It’s about their identity and economic situation. On the Great Plains I came across countless ghost towns and abandoned homes. The folks out there realize the sense of mortality when it comes to community. So any project that’s going to bring in a bit of money is not going to be questioned on the grounds of climate change or pollution. It’s going to be greeted with open arms if it can help their community last a bit longer.

These are folks who see themselves as hardy, self-sufficient, small government individualists. If you believe in climate change, you’re giving in to the idea of government coming in to fix things, collective action to impose greenhouse gas limits, and reining in the evils of the free market with stricter regulation. This conflicts with so much of that heartland identity.


Despair is Not a Strategy: 15 principles of hope

That ‘paid protester’ is actually your mom, and she’s taking over Facebook to fight Trump


First fluorescent frog found

Why Your Dog Can Get Vaccinated Against Lyme Disease And You Can’t

Quote(s) of the week

When POC say, “check your privilege,” they aren’t saying it for fun — they are saying it because when you bring unexamined privilege into anti-racist spaces, you are bringing in a cancer. —Ijeoma Oluo


White socialism is nice if you can get it. —Chris Ladd

Just cool

Knots made with tiny leather straps to function as bookmarks. Oh, these would be so easy to make.

And these would be so hard to make. Next-Level Food Carving on Fruits and Vegetables by ‘Gaku’ 

Singapore May Have Designed the World’s Best Bus Stop: An architecture firm and the government collaborated on a bus stop with books, a rooftop garden, and a swing.

Just for fun

Boaty McBoatface Prepares For First Antarctic Mission

For the language geeks. A court’s decision in a Maine labor dispute hinged on the absence of an Oxford comma.

Fonts from the Future

Obligatory cute animal post. 10+ Animals That Just Melted (Our Hearts)  Number 10 is my favourite.

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