Published: Mon, 27 Mar 2017 10:55:05 GMT2017-03-27T10:55:05ZCopyright: Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. 2017
Mon, 27 Mar 2017 10:00:04 GMT2017-03-27T10:00:04Z
Who has a scythe sharp enough to fell the stalks of capitalism today? It’s not Marx, Lenin and Mao
We live in a world dominated by the principle of private property. Once indigenous people were dispossessed of their lands, the land was surveyed, subdivided and sold to the highest bidder. From high above, continents now appear as an endless property patchwork of green and yellow farms, beige suburban homes and metallic gray city blocks stretching from sea to shining sea.
The central logic of this regime is productivity, and indeed it has been monstrously productive. In tandem with the industrial revolution, the fruits of billions of acres of dispossessed and parceled indigenous land across the Americas, Africa, Asia, Ireland and Australasia enabled two English-speaking empires—first the British and then the American—to rise to global dominance. The latter remains the most productive economy in the world.Continue reading...
Mon, 27 Mar 2017 10:00:04 GMT2017-03-27T10:00:04Z
Attempts to move the Democratic party to the left is wasting energy that could be much better spent elsewhere: namely, changing city politics
Many have tried – and failed – to move the Democratic party to the left. They aren’t called the “graveyard of social movements” for nothing. Now, after the election, people are trying once again. This time, they hope a ‘Tea Party of the left’ can undertake a successful hostile takeover of the Democratic party.
This strategy assumes the Democrats can be pressured to represent working-class people. But it is unclear how such an effort would end any differently than similar attempts that have failed in the past three generations. This is wasting energy that could be much better spent elsewhere: namely, on the local level.
Fri, 24 Mar 2017 20:51:31 GMT2017-03-24T20:51:31Z
It was a humiliating defeat, which Donald Trump tried to blame – unbelievably – on the Democrats
Burning Obamacare to the ground was always a House Republican obsession that Trump, in the heat of the campaign, took up to spite the president while tossing a little red meat to Republicans. “Repeal and replace” is alliterative, after all: it sounds nice enough on an arena stage. It’s just hard to pull off in the real world, as Donald Trump found out on Friday.
Blessed with total control of government, Republicans can only think of how best to burn the house down – and they’re not even doing a good job at that. The House speaker, Paul Ryan, unjustly heralded as a policy wonk, tried to rush his healthcare bill to the floor for a vote on Thursday, only to find the moderates and extremists in his party rebelling. On Friday, Donald Trump was forced to pull the bill, due to lack of support from his own party.Continue reading...
Fri, 24 Mar 2017 12:25:27 GMT2017-03-24T12:25:27Z
The Time interview provides unusual insight into the principles and deep structure of Trumpspeak, the political discourse distorting our democracy
Donald Trump’s elastic connection to reality was richly on display in his interview with Time magazine, published on Thursday. Much of what the president said was unsurprising – that is, to those who have spent the past two months radically recalibrating their standards of what counts as presidential speech.
Devoted to the topic of “truth and falsehoods”, the interview gave the president a chance to substantiate or explain his most offensive deformations of the factual record – that Muslims danced in the streets of the New Jersey as the Twin Towers crumbled, that 3 million undocumented aliens threw the popular vote in Hillary Clinton’s favor, that Ted Cruz’s father trucked with Lee Harvey Oswald, and that Barack Obama tapped the phone of then candidate Trump.
Thu, 23 Mar 2017 10:00:01 GMT2017-03-23T10:00:01Z
The story of Danielle Bregoli – who became an overnight sensation after a memorable TV appearance – shows just how easily society sexualizes girls
Danielle Bregoli, the “cash me ousside girl,” appeared on Instagram Live on Sunday, mugging for her iPhone camera. She pursed her lips and flicked her tongue, gazing steadily at her viewers, who encouraged her to “twerk,” “show tits,” and “blow me, girl.”
“Cleavage,” someone commented, referring to the image of Bregoli’s breasts spilling out of her low-cut tank top. “We need a threesome,” another commenter remarked. “Is this Brazzers?” someone asked, meaning the heavily trafficked porn site. Bregoli, who is 13, has shot to fame on a normalizing wave of the sexualization of children online. She represents a disturbing new trend: an underage girl who is treated like a porn star on social media.Continue reading...
Wed, 22 Mar 2017 12:06:05 GMT2017-03-22T12:06:05Z
Singling out the crimes of undocumented immigrants has one objective: to make people view them as deviant, dangerous and fundamentally undesirable
Donald Trump wants us to associate immigrants with criminality. That is the reason behind a weekly published list of immigrant crimes – the first of which was made public on Monday. Singling out the crimes of undocumented immigrants has one objective: to make people view them as deviant, dangerous and fundamentally undesirable.
The very idea is sinister.
Sat, 18 Mar 2017 15:55:10 GMT2017-03-18T15:55:10Z
His surreal wiretapping allegations against Obama and the GCHQ – as well as his comments on ‘banning Muslims’ – cost him politically this week
The bizarre allegations did not come courtesy of Vladimir Putin. Their source was not a mayhem-spreading autocrat eager to drive a wedge between firm democratic allies. No, they came directly from the White House itself.
On Thursday, in a surreal news briefing, Press Secretary Sean Spicer amplified on the president’s claim that his predecessor in the Oval Office had wiretapped the phones of then-candidate Trump. Reading from statements made by a commentator on Fox News, Spicer claimed that Obama “didn’t use the NSA, he didn’t use the CIA, he didn’t use the FBI and he didn’t use the Department of Justice. He used GCHQ’’ – the Government Communications Headquarters, the British intelligence agency.Continue reading...
Wed, 22 Mar 2017 10:00:32 GMT2017-03-22T10:00:32Z
Only the full release of his tax records can help shed light on whether Trump is a crook – or compromised
Why do we need to see Donald Trump’s tax returns? That’s the number one question asked by critics of the story I broke last week on DCReport.org, after the president’s 2005 tax return summary pages showed up on 13 March in the mail at my home in Rochester, New York. It’s a question I’m happy to answer as a longtime tax reporter, a Trump biographer and a citizen who has known Trump for almost 30 years.
We need to see years of tax returns from every major-party candidate for president and vice-president because, as Richard Nixon said during Watergate, “people have got to know whether or not their president is a crook”. Nixon, it turned out, was a crook. While he was not indicted, his tax lawyer went to prison.Continue reading...
Fri, 24 Mar 2017 18:15:14 GMT2017-03-24T18:15:14Z
These benefits are optional in the Republicans’ world. That’s what happens when the conservatives’ disregard for women and healthcare meet
As Republicans tried (and failed) to repeal the Affordable Care Act yesterday while the president played big boy truck time, it was hard to remember a time when each day didn’t feel a million years long.
The right isn’t even trying to hide their disdain for poor people anymore: today Trump’s budget director, Mick Mulvaney, said on CBS This Morning that if people were worried about their state not requiring employers to cover services like maternity care, they should “figure out a way to change the state” they live in.Continue reading...
Tue, 21 Mar 2017 10:00:02 GMT2017-03-21T10:00:02Z
Men constantly ignore women – but most of the time no one notices it. Except, that is, when it happens on the world stage
A few years ago, my husband and I ran into a mutual acquaintance at a restaurant. This young man – a person who would surely identify as progressive – spent the entirety our interaction completely ignoring me. He spoke only to my husband; he wouldn’t even look at me when I asked a direct question.
While it would be tempting to write off the exchange as simple rudeness, this brand of slight is familiar to most women. Perhaps it happens when you go to buy a car and the salesperson only speaks to your male partner. Or when you meet someone at a work event and they only introduce themselves to the male colleague beside you.Continue reading...
Mon, 20 Mar 2017 10:00:33 GMT2017-03-20T10:00:33Z
Never before has Senate leadership so openly and intentionally played political games with our highest court. The consequences are staggering
While Russia’s involvement in our elections is unquestionably horrible, and it will likely take many more drip, drip, drips before we know the full extent of it, our democracy is facing an equally devastating threat much closer to home.
On Monday, when Judge Gorsuch’s confirmation hearing is scheduled to begin, the Republicans will attempt to complete their cynical political takeover of the US supreme court, launched last year when they failed to confirm or to even give a hearing to Judge Merrick Garland.
Fri, 17 Mar 2017 10:00:06 GMT2017-03-17T10:00:06Z
A new poll found he is the most popular politician in America. But instead of embracing his message, establishment Democrats continue to resist him
If you look at the numbers, Bernie Sanders is the most popular politician in America – and it’s not even close. Yet bizarrely, the Democratic party – out of power across the country and increasingly irrelevant – still refuses to embrace him and his message. It’s increasingly clear they do so at their own peril.
A new Fox News poll out this week shows Sanders has a +28 net favorability rating among the US population, dwarfing all other elected politicians on both ends of the political spectrum. And he’s even more popular among the vaunted “independents”, where he is at a mind boggling +41.Continue reading...
Mon, 13 Mar 2017 10:00:29 GMT2017-03-13T10:00:29Z
Our schools are being threatened by Betsy DeVos and her friends. For public school parents this attack is nothing short of an emergency
The first sign that things were not as we had expected was the surprised look we got from Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s staffer. It was the day before the nomination of Betsy DeVos as education secretary was initially slated to be voted on by a Senate subcommittee. We were a group of public school parents with more than 1,000 letters from parents all over New York City urging our senators to oppose DeVos’s appointment.
We were confident that our blue-state senators would vote the right way, if only to capitalize on the ferocious anti-Trump sentiment among Democrats. Our letter-writing campaign was something they could point to as a reason to take an even stronger stand against DeVos.Continue reading...
Sat, 18 Mar 2017 10:00:36 GMT2017-03-18T10:00:36Z
Not everyone has the luxury of a babysitter. So who will look after the millions of children who will be left on their own if Trump’s cuts go through?
On Thursday, a clueless Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget, held a press conference to discuss the Trump administration’s 2018 budget. In order to justify cutting funding to after-school programs – proposed in order to increase the Defense Department budget by 10% – he told reporters: “There’s no demonstrable evidence they’re helping kids do better in school.”
Mulvaney is, at best, misinformed. At worst, he’s willfully lying about the benefits of these programs to push his boss’s agenda. There’s plenty of evidence that shows these programs are good for kids. I myself am a proud graduate of the after school program system.Continue reading...
Sat, 18 Mar 2017 10:00:36 GMT2017-03-18T10:00:36Z
Yes, the travel ban ruling was a major defeat for Trump – but he hit back with a brutal budget proposal that felt like a body blow
Sat, 18 Mar 2017 16:34:35 GMT2017-03-18T16:34:35Z
After the Abe Assault, the Trudeau Standoff and the May Grab we now have: the Merkel Moment
It sounds ridiculous, but it really is beginning to look like you can read Donald Trump’s foreign policy by the bizarre ways that he shakes the hands of foreign leaders.
First there was the Abe Assault, 19 seconds of Trump trying to show the Japanese prime minister who’s the boss. (Cue Abe’s eye roll.)Continue reading...
Fri, 17 Mar 2017 12:04:34 GMT2017-03-17T12:04:34Z
Angela Merkel’s trip to Washington will be no love fest, but the two leaders have more in common than we’d like to think
“Does Europe have a phone number?”, Henry Kissinger famously asked. In a bout of unexpected humour, Catherine Ashton, until 2014 the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs, replied: “Yes, of course. It is mine. When you call it, a computer answers: for Germany, press one; for Britain, press two, for France, press three.”
Donald Trump must have figured out the centrality of Germany on his own, which is why he invited Angela Merkel to the White House this week. If you want to talk to Europe, she is the go-to leader. Who else? Britain is on the way out, never mind the “special relationship”. France, once the continent’s No 1, has suffered a precipitous decline during the reign of François Hollande, and it might take years to restore its old grandeur. Italy is a study in ungovernability, with 60 administrations since the second world war.Continue reading...
Fri, 17 Mar 2017 14:20:16 GMT2017-03-17T14:20:16Z
US courts and civil society have robustly defended Muslims from blatant discrimination. The same cannot be said of their European counterparts
On both sides of the Atlantic, courts this week have addressed the relationship of Islam to the west, but with radically different approaches and outcomes. In the US, federal courts in Hawaii and Maryland have halted Donald Trump’s second attempt at a Muslim ban. Meanwhile, the European court of justice, Europe’s highest court, has upheld the right of private employers to ban Muslim women from wearing headscarves.
Thu, 16 Mar 2017 16:38:44 GMT2017-03-16T16:38:44Z
Democrats are giddy that Republicans are on the verge of owning a healthcare catastrophe. A cannier tactician would play his cards very differently
Donald Trump understood the average Republican voter well enough to disregard the party’s tired orthodoxies and still win the presidency. He figured out that most Republicans could care less about shredding entitlements and adhering blindly to Milton Friedman’s soulless economic agenda, as long as he was bashing immigrants. To this day, Trump still won’t fulfill Paul Ryan’s Ayn Randian fever dream of gutting social security and Medicare.
But he does promise to do Ryan’s bidding and repeal Obamacare, a move that is all but guaranteed, if successful, to make a lot more people who voted for him sick. This probably doesn’t worry Trump too much in the short term, since senior citizens in the West Virginian hollows and dead factory towns of Ohio can’t afford dues at Mar-a-Lago anyway. Republicans in Congress, unused to and uninterested in governing, want to tear up Barack Obama’s signature achievement as quickly as possible because that will fill the emptiness of a nihilist campaign vow.Continue reading...
Tue, 14 Mar 2017 15:38:52 GMT2017-03-14T15:38:52Z
Trumpcare does nothing but serve the rich at the expense of the poor and the sick. This is no freedom – it is a form of oppression
Paul Ryan is promoting Trumpcare as if it were some sort of medical Magna Carta – a brave declaration of healthcare freedom. “We’re not going to make an American do what they don’t want to do. You get it [healthcare] if you want it. That’s freedom” he recently said on Face the Nation. Freedom to die uninsured, that is.
It’s not that House Republicans are proposing some libertarian healthcare promised land wherein open heart surgeries and rounds of chemo are bartered and traded like tubes of toothpaste – far from it. Instead, the bill largely relies on Obamacare’s blueprint, although it mangles its details for the benefit of the rich while stripping coverage from a staggering 24 million people by 2026 (according to Monday’s estimates from the Congressional Budget Office).
Thu, 16 Mar 2017 14:29:33 GMT2017-03-16T14:29:33Z
It reflects a kind of banana republic militarism designed to fleece taxpayers, enrich defense contractors, disloyal agencies and screw the poor at every turn
Donald Trump isn’t a details guy, which is why his skinny budget is skinnier than most. Every president sends these proposals to Congress to specify their general spending preferences. Trump’s plan is especially sketchy when it comes to how it actually pays for everything. As a political vision, though, it couldn’t be clearer: a kind of banana republic militarism designed to fleece taxpayers, enrich defense contractors, punish agencies deemed disloyal and screw the poor at every turn.
It is at least refreshing that Trump’s budget plan makes no pretenses of fiscal responsibility. It seeks to lift the spending caps imposed by the 2011 Budget Control Act, the last big attempt to rein in deficits, because the BCA set limits to defense and non-defense discretionary spending alike. Trump wants a $54bn boost for the military, and promises to pay for it by eliminating programs popular with many, including Republican, members of Congress. Which won’t happen, which means some combination of austerity and deficit spending instead.Continue reading...
Mon, 13 Mar 2017 14:38:52 GMT2017-03-13T14:38:52Z
Countries like Venezuela, Russia and China are using Washington’s aggressive stance on journalists to justify their own erosion of the free press
George W Bush’s ‘war on terror’ gave cover to despots around the world – from China, to Turkey and Russia – for violent crackdowns of minority groups seeking greater freedoms. Once these groups were re-cast as ‘terrorists’, it was hard for the West to criticize the states that used heavy-handed tactics against them. Now, Washington DC has invented another ‘war’ that has regimes across the world delighted: the war on the media.
In mid-February, Venezuela booted CNN En Espanol from the airwaves, claiming, in a fancier version of Trump’s language, that CNN’s reports “defame and distort the truth.” After the White House in late February barred several news outlets, including the New York Times and Politico, from attending a routine briefing, a government spokesman in Cambodia cited that as an inspiration – and threatened to expel news outlets that don’t follow Phnom Penh’s orders.
Fri, 17 Mar 2017 20:11:40 GMT2017-03-17T20:11:40Z
If the cuts are allowed to go through, seniors will pay a dramatic and unfair price – all while taxpayer dollars are squandered building a border wall
Donald Trump’s budget proposal is a disaster-in-waiting for America’s most vulnerable populations. The grant cuts that would imperil Meals on Wheels, a program that benefits countless seniors across the United States, are stark examples of the Republicans’ continued war on the “war on poverty”. If they are allowed to go through, seniors will pay a dramatic and unfair price – all while taxpayer dollars are squandered on swollen defense budgets and a wasteful border wall.
I worked on a Meals on Wheels program in upstate New York, and the seniors I met were always grateful for the company, however brief. I recall one especially chatty woman would never fail to let me know that I looked just like her grandson on each visit. Another man, obviously a stickler, would compare my arrival times with the other drivers and let me know when I was lagging behind on the route.Continue reading...
Tue, 14 Mar 2017 17:05:59 GMT2017-03-14T17:05:59Z
Corporate feminism always ends up betraying women’s struggle for justice. That’s why this Wall Street-funded sculpture will never be a symbol to embrace
Forget the ruby red slippers: this season’s wish-fulfillment accessory is a knitted pink hat. No need to click your heels, little girls. If you care to summon Glinda Gecko the Good Corporate Witch, just place your fists on your hips three times! There’s no place like Wall Street … There’s no place like Wall Street... There’s no place like Wall Street. Greed is good – and good for girls! Time to lean in to corporate bull.
State Street Global Advisors, the investment firm behind the ‘Fearless Girl’ sculpture temporarily placed in front of the famous Wall Street bull, pulled off a formidable marketing coup when they placed the statue there on Women’s Day. But let’s not kid ourselves into thinking that it is a brave feminist statement. It is not.
Thu, 16 Mar 2017 02:40:30 GMT2017-03-16T02:40:30Z
Hawaii judge’s insistence that Trump’s talk of banning Muslims must be taken literally is a reminder of the enduring power of language
For months, critics of the president have been told that they should take Trump’s words seriously, but not literally.
On Wednesday night federal district judge Derrick K Watson refused to take the bait. He insisted that Trump’s words on “banning Muslims” should be taken seriously and literally.Continue reading...
Tue, 07 Mar 2017 16:05:36 GMT2017-03-07T16:05:36Z
In substance, we’ve been given the same Muslim ban as the first time around. It demands as much – if not more – opposition as its predecessor received
After Donald Trump addressed a joint session of Congress, many Americans swooned at the fact that our president could read words. For a moment, it really was shocking. Trump, who usually sounds like the Facebook account of your old high-school tormentor, barely mentioned himself in the speech. He seemed to look forward more than backward. And he was wearing a tailored suit. Who was this man?
But it didn’t take long for the shock and awe to wear off. A new president, alas, had not been born. Mere days and tweets later, Trump was again the same misdirecting, power-abusing, narcissistic chief of state that he is. Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.Continue reading...
Fri, 10 Mar 2017 11:00:03 GMT2017-03-10T11:00:03Z
Campuses can be sites of powerful protest and activism – if students and faculty use some care
Canniness is a virtue, at least for organizers. When protest goes well – the Women’s Marches, the airport demonstrations – it helps immeasurably, limiting the right’s ability to act or at least exacting a high price in political capital. But protest can go badly too, and when it does it gives the bad guys a gift.
I should have gotten a chance to see this close up last week, because Middlebury College in Vermont, where I teach, had a protest go mostly sour. But since my mother was taken to the emergency room early in the week, I was camped out in her hospital room, not on campus. Still, the picture of events that emerges from Facebook and campus chat rooms is fairly clear.Continue reading...
Fri, 10 Mar 2017 17:19:43 GMT2017-03-10T17:19:43Z
It was a reminder that, despite all the horror, there really are so many of us ready to do the work necessary to create change
It was International Women’s Day this week, and despite the never-ending stream of bad news, it was heartening to see the day make such an impact in the US. It’s always struck me as a bit sad that IWD is a big deal across the world while only usually marked in America with a White House press release and a few articles compiling feminist quotes.
Maybe it’s Trump, maybe it’s feminism’s meteoric rise in cultural power - but this year was different. Women across the country went on strike against paid and unpaid labor, and women across the world marched against sexism. It was a rare moment of joy that couldn’t even be ruined by Trump tweeting out how much he respected women or the news that he promised not to defund Planned Parenthood so long as they stopped providing abortions.Continue reading...
Thu, 09 Mar 2017 16:05:06 GMT2017-03-09T16:05:06Z
The president’s executive order on immigration and refugees is the site of one of many legal battles that will define our new political age
In the Age of Trump, even landmark victories for civil rights will remain contested and tragically incomplete. Nowhere is that painful truth more clear than in US immigration policy – as demonstrated by legal fights unfolding in the wake of Trump’s latest order.
To be sure, the first battle over Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration and refugees was a clear defeat for the administration. Citizens and judges recoiled from its policy, which reeked of anti-Muslim prejudice, unleashed chaos, lacked a basis in national security and consigned innocents to certain death.Continue reading...
Thu, 09 Mar 2017 17:22:24 GMT2017-03-09T17:22:24Z
I have filed bills over the years to protect a little of what is left of our privacy but so far, few have paid attention. Maybe, finally, that will change now
As the FBI director, James Comey, recently said: “There is no such thing as absolute privacy.” The newly leaked CIA files raised a few eyebrows for many reasons, including when we all learned that America’s CIA and Britain’s MI5 worked together to hack personal television sets in order to watch and listen to people in their own homes. It is important to understand that these so-called “weeping angel” programs are nothing new and not limited to governmental spy agencies – private corporations do it, too.
The same sort of intrusion has happened through your car, cellphone, cable television box, toll paying device, refrigerator, your child’s doll, and even your license plate.Continue reading...
Thu, 09 Mar 2017 16:56:52 GMT2017-03-09T16:56:52Z
Jason Chaffetz’s comments on healthcare – that poor people should not buy that new iPhone if they can’t pay medical bills – sums up the party’s attitude
Republicans have been telling a white lie, but nothing about it is little. Specifically, it’s a lie to poor white voters that Republicans have their best interests at heart – and crucially, that theirs is the party that will best protect those interests.
We saw it during the campaign in Donald Trump’s promises to return blue collar jobs to poor, rural Americans even as Trump products continued to be manufactured overseas; during the transition with his early pick of a labor secretary known for opposing the minimum wage; and we saw it again just this week in a leading Republican’s insistence that poor people must choose between buying a new smartphone and having health insurance.Continue reading...
Wed, 08 Mar 2017 03:20:39 GMT2017-03-08T03:20:39Z
If these documents are genuine, then they prove that encryption still offers broad protection. That’s one reason to download Signal and similar apps now
The latest release from WikiLeaks detailing how the CIA has allegedly stockpiled a plethora of tools to hack a variety of everyday devices – from phones, to televisions to cars – is a stark reminder about the fragile state of Internet security. The US government has amassed extraordinary hacking powers largely in secret – and this leak might just force us to grapple with whether we are comfortable with that.
The most widely reported aspect of the purported leak is the allegation that the CIA has myriad ways to hack popular smartphones like iPhone and Android devices – and that the agency could be allowing its hackers to take control of internet connected televisions and covertly listen in on conversations in people’s living rooms. This type of attack has been the worry of many privacy advocates for years, as more and more televisions and other household devices (collectively known as the “Internet of Things”) are increasingly connected to the Internet while always “listening”.Continue reading...
Fri, 03 Mar 2017 14:20:31 GMT2017-03-03T14:20:31Z
Were this a Clinton scandal, Sessions would insist a special counsel look into things. He, and the president, should expect nothing less themselves
The question was never whether he should recuse himself. The answer to that was always obvious. The question now is whether he perjured himself.
As a top campaign official, Jeff Sessions was never a credible choice to lead the investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. He completely disqualified himself when he failed to disclose two meetings with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during his confirmation hearing.Continue reading...
Tue, 07 Mar 2017 17:15:22 GMT2017-03-07T17:15:22Z
These kinds of pages are as common in schools today as outbreaks of head lice. How the US Marine Corps deals with this will impact children and teens
If you’re an American high schooler who reads the news, it probably came as no surprise that the US Marines are now having their very own scandal involving a so-called ‘slut page’. Slut pages, or social media pages displaying a collection of nonconsensually shared nudes, are as common in schools today as outbreaks of head lice.Continue reading...
Mon, 06 Mar 2017 19:28:27 GMT2017-03-06T19:28:27Z
Trump lashes out by creating a chaos of conflicting claims to distract attention away from real allegations. It is all too effective
For all his inconstancy of character, Donald Trump is a master manipulator. He rose to political prominence by slandering Barack Obama. He rode the birther myth as far as it would go – before brazenly jettisoning it with the insistence that it was all the handiwork of Hillary Clinton.
Now once again, he seeks to buoy his political fortunes by attacking Obama. Perhaps what is so striking about the tweets is not their desperation, but their cynicism. In exclaiming “This is McCarthyism!”, Trump said something deeply revealing – only about himself. McCarthyism was never in the first instance about wiretapping. It was about defaming public officials with charges of treason without a shred of evidence. Sounds familiar, no?Continue reading...
Mon, 06 Mar 2017 22:54:46 GMT2017-03-06T22:54:46Z
In seeking to fulfill his campaign promise to ‘ban Muslims’, he is putting his political interests ahead of concern for the safety of his fellow Americans
President Trump’s second version of his executive order prohibiting travel to the United States by nationals from several Muslim-majority countries allows him to claim that he is fulfilling a campaign promise. That is, he is barring Muslims – or, Muslims from certain countries – from entering the United States.
Those to be excluded have not been designated because travelers from those countries have shown a propensity to engage in deadly terrorism. There has been no such case in the United States involving travelers from any of the six countries – Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen – now on the list.Continue reading...
Wed, 01 Mar 2017 12:43:07 GMT2017-03-01T12:43:07Z
Countless Americans affected by the virus are living in fear of losing the treatment they were only able to receive because of Obamacare
A month into Donald Trump’s presidency, and the ways in which Trumpism is a threat to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender existence are almost too many to count. However, those most vulnerable to HIV/Aids will be hit the hardest.
The threat of actually losing health insurance due to the president’s promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act is making millions of Americans so terrified, even his own voters are increasingly warming up to Obamacare.Continue reading...
Sun, 26 Mar 2017 18:34:26 GMT2017-03-26T18:34:26ZIn spite of controlling the White House and both wings of Congress, the Republicans allowed ideological obsessions to derail a plan they have been trumpeting for years
President Donald Trump’s failure to repeal Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act is a huge event. It may even eventually be an epochal one. It is huge for the United States, which spends much more on healthcare than most advanced nations (17.1% of US GDP, compared with 9.1% for the UK), but where healthcare was profoundly expensive and unequal until the passing of “Obamacare” seven years ago brought more than 22 million of America’s poorer citizens under its umbrella. It is huge for America’s politics, because Mr Trump had staked his blowhard presidency on his supposedly exceptional ability to do deals – “my art form”, as he puts it. One of the first and most important of these would be a replacement of Obamacare by a Republican party that controls both houses of Congress and the White House, a plan now in tatters. It also has implications for Mr Trump’s America and its standing in the world, as if Mr Trump becomes a wounded president domestically – which is still not the case, in spite of Friday’s failure – it will shape the way that the president and other countries decide to play international relations too.
Ever since Mr Obama’s Affordable Care Act was signed into law in 2010, the Republican party has remained obsessed with its supposedly evil consequences. Unlike the Conservative party in Britain, which decided after the creation of this country’s very differently constructed NHS that it would work with the new state system, not seek to undo it, the Republicans have made no effort whatever to create a historic compromise with Obamacare. Driven in large part by their extreme rightwing anti-government activist base and conservative funders who loathe the federal government’s involvement in almost anything except military spending, Republicans have instead vied with one another to pledge to kill the ACA and replace it with a cost-cutting alternative. “Repeal and replace” was Mr Trump’s slogan on the campaign trail. It was to be the new administration’s domestic priority. It would show that Mr Trump can get things done.Continue reading...
Sun, 26 Mar 2017 18:33:52 GMT2017-03-26T18:33:52ZThere are no religions that are entirely pacifist because there are no societies entirely free of conflict. What matters is how the holy books are read
Lord Pearson of Rannoch, the Ukip peer, has complained three times in the House of Lords that he cannot access the website called the Religion of Peace from there, and has been told three times that it is classed by parliament’s internet service as a racist hate site – and, in the opinion of the deputy speaker, that is exactly how it should be classified. It is indeed a site dedicated to the proposition that Islam is a uniquely violent and hateful religion. It is hardly surprising that a former leader of Ukip should draw nourishment from such a poisoned well. But behind the name there lurks a serious question, which goes to the heart of integration: how seriously should we take the warlike scriptures of any religion?
There are no religions whose message is entirely pacifist, any more than there are societies without conflict. Any world religion will contain sacred texts that have seemed to urge its followers on to murder. Christianity, quite as much as Islam, can call on texts that seem to make the slaughter of unbelievers mandatory. So can the enlightenment ideologies, which have to some extent superseded religions in the west. The Marseillaise is a bloodthirsty anthem, and in our own time the horrendous cruelty of colonial and post-colonial wars was often justified in the name of spreading freedom and democracy.Continue reading...
Fri, 24 Mar 2017 18:32:57 GMT2017-03-24T18:32:57Z
Applause for Arlene Foster at the republican leader’s requiem sent an important message to Northern Ireland and a wider lesson to Britain
The woman walks into the church and up the aisle, her head bowed, almost as if she does not wish her arrival to be noticed. Her uncertainty is understandable, for this is a highly charged day in a Catholic church in a Catholic part of the city. But the woman is a prominent Northern Irish protestant leader and this is still a divided community.
As she is shown to her pew, however, something unusual happens. In the gallery people start to applaud. There is even some cheering. The woman looks up at the loud applause and smiles. The clapping spreads.Continue reading...
Wed, 22 Mar 2017 19:59:25 GMT2017-03-22T19:59:25ZThe ideological clique around Trump is running foreign policy, while the top US diplomat is being circumvented and his department undermined
It is hard to think of a secretary of state in recent history whose start has been as unpromising as Rex Tillerson’s. He came to the job with no experience of government or related institutions, nor of policy. His business dealings with Vladimir Putin and his circle as ExxonMobil chief worried some, as did his lack of interest in paying even lip-service to human rights. In the context of the Trump administration, however, he was seen as a grown-up; his appointment, though to a lesser degree than those of James Mattis at defence and HR McMaster as national security adviser, reassured some analysts. He has been highly successful in his field, is used to negotiating with foreign governments and is not an ideologue.
Yet in his first full interview as secretary this week he appears both out of the loop and out of his depth, reinforcing the unfortunate reputation he is already acquiring. Perhaps the minimum to be expected of a secretary of state is visibility and good access to the President. Mr Tillerson avoids the press and – like Mr Mattis – was not even consulted on the controversial travel ban. The grown-ups are barely in the room. The extent to which they have been sidelined while Steven Bannon and Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law, take charge is unwittingly highlighted by Mr Tillerson’s defenders with the assurance that he “talks all the time to Jared”.Continue reading...
Tue, 21 Mar 2017 19:06:26 GMT2017-03-21T19:06:26ZThe French start voting in one month – and Marine Le Pen is set to reach the presidential run-off. Whether she can then be defeated is the next big test for Europe and liberal democracy
The French will vote in a month’s time for what has arguably become the most consequential and unpredictable presidential contest since the founding of the Fifth Republic in 1958. These elections will be a defining moment not just for one country but for Europe at large. The second and final round on 7 May will settle whether France blocks the rising tide of populism that has shaken the west. Last week, Dutch voters showed it could be done. The danger that must be confronted now is Marine Le Pen, leader of the Front National, Europe’s largest far-right party.
Polls currently indicate Ms Le Pen will lead in the first round, or come out neck-and-neck with the centrist former economy minister Emmanuel Macron. They then predict she will be comfortably beaten in the run-off. Those statistics have put Mr Macron in something like a state of bliss: his ascendency at age 39, an outsider to party politics, a reformist and staunch pro-EU voice certainly ranks as a political phenomenon that few initially bet on. Yet to relax now in the belief that the dice have already been rolled, and that far-right demagoguery is on its way to the dustbin of history would be a risky assumption – if not folly.Continue reading...
Mon, 20 Mar 2017 20:17:26 GMT2017-03-20T20:17:26Z
Why days before the presidential election did the FBI announce it was reopening an investigation into Hillary Clinton – when it was silent about its probe into Mr Trump’s Russia ties?
When the president’s own staff turn up in Washington to publicly rebut his accusations that he had been wiretapped by his predecessor, it’s not good news for the White House. Yet the longer the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, James Comey, and Mike Rogers of the National Security Agency appeared in front of a committee of Congress, the worse it got. Since last July, Mr Comey said, the president’s campaign has been investigated for colluding with Russia to influence the 2016 election. Donald Trump’s election machine is coating his White House with sewage.
Yet Donald Trump, with the insouciance of a Bourbon monarch, shows no sign of taking any notice of the facts. Nor, it seems, will he retract false claims, nor will he be held accountable for his dissembling. Mr Trump is prepared to carry on in disgrace. He spent the minutes after his own intelligence officers called him out for peddling falsehoods by trying to create a bizarre counter narrative with the @POTUS twitter account that stretched his credibility so far it snapped.Continue reading...
Sun, 19 Mar 2017 19:45:36 GMT2017-03-19T19:45:36ZCultural forms built with words were once all indistinguishable, but in popular culture they are again coalescing. Figures such as Chuck Berry and Derek Walcott were part of bringing them together
The deaths of Derek Walcott and Chuck Berry prompt the question: what’s going to happen to poetry? In their very different ways, the two men worked on opposite sides of the great divide in reading that has grown up since the rise of amplified music. At least since the invention of printing, poetry has been written to be read in silence and perhaps in solitude. The rhythmic subtleties of Browning, Eliot, Graves and Walcott, too, all depend on the reader’s close attention to the voice they can only hear in their heads. This was not always or everywhere so; there are traditions of incantation and rhodomontade. Kipling and GK Chesterton could both write to a beat that pounds along, and the bouncy ones have been some of the most widely popular poets, but they have not often produced the words that readers have cupped in their hearts, lights sheltered from the wind.
The pleasures of subtly rhythmic poetry depend on hearing the beat that is not played, the pattern that persists in absence, in the same way that music can only really be listened to by hearing the gaps between the notes. Omnipresent amplified music designed to be half-listened to, along with the general noisiness of contemporary life, blunts our ability to hear anything not made explicit, and when that goes much of the traditional skill of reading vanish with it. Poetry is, at the very least, language sharpened to its finest edge. There should be no spare words in a poem any more than there should be any missing. Much of the bad poetry of the past, which is not so much unread as almost impossible to read today, violates these rules and won’t be missed when it is completely forgotten. But what about the good stuff that may also be forgotten?Continue reading...
Sun, 19 Mar 2017 19:41:46 GMT2017-03-19T19:41:46ZIn India there is increasing concern that minorities are being told they exist merely on the goodwill of the majority. For some of India’s 140 million Muslims it is enough to debate withdrawing from public lifeThe world breathed a sigh of relief last week as the Islamophobe populist Geert Wilders failed to become the head of the biggest party in Holland. The respite from elected bigotry did not last long. On Sunday an even more stridently anti-Muslim extremist took power in the biggest election of this year. Uttar Pradesh, with a population of more than 200 million, is not an independent nation. It is India’s biggest and most important state. UP, as it is known, by itself would be the world’s fourth biggest democracy – behind the rest of India, the United States, and Indonesia. In a stunning victory, the ruling Bharatiya Janata party swept the state elections, winning, along with its allies, 80% of the seats. Elections here are the most significant in India. UP sends 80 MPs to India’s national parliament of 545 seats. Regardless of party, they pay careful attention to the mood of UP’s electorate. If the nation’s governing parties do well in UP, parliamentarians feel they ought to stay in line. If opposition parties do well in UP, then gridlock rules in Delhi.The man chosen by the Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, to lead UP, home of Hinduism’s holy Ganges river and the Moghul tomb of Taj Mahal, is a fellow Hindu nationalist, Yogi Adityanath. Mr Adityanath is a Hindu priest who, while elected five times from his temple’s town, has been shown repeatedly to be contemptuous of democratic norms. He has been accused of attempted murder, criminal intimidation and rioting. He says young Muslim men had launched a “love jihad” to entrap and convert Hindu women. Mother Teresa, he claimed, wanted to Christianise India. He backs a Donald Trump-style travel ban to stop “terrorists” coming to India. On the campaign trail, Mr Adityanath warned: “If [Muslims] kill one Hindu man, then we will kill 100 Muslim men”. This cannot be dismissed as mere rhetoric. The argument that once in power the BJP would become more reasonable does not wash. There’s little sign India’s constitutional protections would enable the BJP to continue in power while the dynamics of its wider movement are kept in check. Mr Adityanath, now a powerful figure, is signalling that in India minorities exist merely on the goodwill of the majority. Step out of line and there will be blood. For some of India’s 140 million Muslims the threat is enough to see them debate withdrawing from public life to avoid further polarisation. Continue reading...[...]
Sun, 19 Mar 2017 00:05:01 GMT2017-03-19T00:05:01Z
The ex-chancellor is walking into a minefield of his own making
Being “editor” of the Daily This, Evening That or Weekly Whatever is a most fuzzily flexible concept: one quite unlike George Osborne’s old deficit reduction targets. Of course, CP Scott (blissfully reincarnated as “CP Snow” on the Radio 4 Today programme on Saturday) managed to remain a Liberal MP and editor of the Manchester Guardian for 11 years. But 1906 is an eternity ago in political (and newspaper) history. If you want more relevant precursors think, perhaps, of Iain Macleod editing the Spectator before going on to become chancellor of the exchequer or RHS Crossman running the New Statesman – both of them, as with Boris Johnson at the Spectator years later, keeping Westminster seats warm at the same time.
It is, on examination, who an editor is and what he or she has been hired for that matters most. Lord Deedes, once the Tories’ cabinet minister for spin, could be editor of the Daily Telegraph and occasional speechwriter for Margaret Thatcher at the same time because his editing remit didn’t really stretch beyond the editorial pages. A hard-edged news professional called Peter Eastwood got the newspaper out. And that division between opinion and the rest is quite standard across swaths of the western press. Marty Baron at the Washington Post or Dean Baquet at the New York Times may seem like top editors at their papers: but their hegemony ends where viewspapering begins.Continue reading...
Sun, 19 Mar 2017 00:05:01 GMT2017-03-19T00:05:01ZA ‘jobs miracle’ that leaves millions worse off
The former prime minister David Cameron two years ago coined the phrase “jobs miracle” to describe Britain’s economic recovery: an expression that has stuck among defenders of Conservative economic policy. On the surface of it, last Wednesday’s employment figures were just the latest round of good news: unemployment is now at its lowest level since 1975.
But as welcome as falling unemployment is, it is just one indicator of labour market health. The reality is that Britain’s economic recovery will be feeling far from miraculous to millions of low-paid workers. Since the financial crisis, the growth in jobs has come at the price of little growth in average earnings, with many workers finding themselves materially worse off. The Institute for Fiscal Studies expects average real earnings will be no higher in 2022 than they were in 2007; a dire situation its director has described as “completely unprecedented”.Continue reading...
Tue, 21 Mar 2017 18:26:00 GMT2017-03-21T18:26:00ZWhy did Hillary Clinton’s emails supposedly warrant an FBI intervention in the election campaign, yet Donald Trump’s Russian connections didn’t?
FBI director James Comey had a very busy July.
He closed a protracted investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server. He filed no charges but blasted her conduct as “extremely careless” nonetheless, a lasting wound to her campaign. The public lashing contravened the normal procedure of staying silent on cases that are not prosecuted. Comey’s grandstanding press conference at the time seemed political.Continue reading...
Sat, 25 Mar 2017 11:00:00 GMT2017-03-25T11:00:00Z
The two appear to be a study in contrasts – but both display a remarkable lack of compassion. Their likeness could serve to justify Democrats’ opposition
On the surface, they could hardly be more different. Neil Gorsuch is known for his intellectual firepower; Donald Trump speaks at the level of a 10-year-old. Gorsuch has literary panache; Trump once referred to the size of his genitalia on a presidential debate stage. Gorsuch is a textualist; Trump makes up his own facts. And at first, it seemed confirmation hearings for Gorsuch’s nomination to be the next justice on the supreme court this week would only serve to heighten these contrasts.
As Trump tweeted angry disinformation in response to the revelation of an FBI investigation into his administration, Gorsuch sat coolly before members of the Senate judiciary committee. He quoted Socrates and reminisced with Ted Cruz about playing ball on the supreme court’s basketball court as young clerks.Continue reading...
Fri, 17 Mar 2017 00:34:19 GMT2017-03-17T00:34:19Z
When the US president talked about ‘the forgotten men and women of our country, people who work hard but no longer have a voice’ he connected with voters. After his winning pitch to the working class have the Democrats lost their relevance? And did Barack Obama miss the chance to create true change?Continue reading...
Thu, 02 Feb 2017 12:00:29 GMT2017-02-02T12:00:29Z
With Oscar nominated films such as Fences and Hidden Figures, and a new three-part series on Nelson Mandela, this month has plenty to offer
If you’ve ever seen or read an August Wilson play, you know that writing is how the late playwright processed the world around him – a magnificently black world filled with funk and nuance in which language plays a central role. For Wilson, though, learning how to work with that language as a writer didn’t happen overnight. “For the longest time I couldn’t make my characters talk,” Wilson told me several years ago before his death in 2005. “I thought in order to incorporate the black vernacular into literature, the language had to be changed or altered in some way to sound more clear … until I realized that it’s no less romantic and meaningful to say, ‘It’s cold outside.’” As a play, Wilson’s Fences, which tells the story of a working-class black man – who was denied a baseball career in the major leagues – trying to raise his family in mid-century Pittsburgh, gives us that blunt romance and powerful meaning. As a movie, it gives us Denzel Washington and Viola Davis. Enough said.Continue reading...
Thu, 28 Jul 2016 11:30:05 GMT2016-07-28T11:30:05Z
African American stars are using their large platform to demand equal protection of black life in America – just as their forbears did
Once again, this is turning out to be a summer marked by prominent police killings of innocent black men. Black popular artists in American culture are complicating things for those fans who would prefer to remain silent or choose not to engage in the most significant civil rights issue of our time. These artists are shaking moderates out of complacency and extending our awareness to this crisis – just as their forebears did during the civil rights struggle in the 1960s.
Black musicians and artists are key partners in dramatizing equality and justice for black citizens. The cynical among us may presume that artists who call for action against systemic, racialized police violence are simply jumping on a cause célèbre – or that their earned privilege no longer affords them the right to be outraged. But that is a selective and ahistorical reading.
Mon, 13 Feb 2017 16:54:23 GMT2017-02-13T16:54:23Z
When I was afraid, you taught me how to keep going. When I was lost, you showed me the way
To those who have kept me alive for the past six years: minutes after President Obama announced the commutation of my sentence, the prison quickly moved me out of general population and into the restrictive housing unit where I am now held. I know that we are now physically separated, but we will never be apart and we are not alone. Recently, one of you asked me “Will you remember me?” I will remember you. How could I possibly forget? You taught me lessons I would have never learned otherwise.
When I was afraid, you taught me how to keep going. When I was lost, you showed me the way. When I was numb, you taught me how to feel. When I was angry, you taught me how to chill out. When I was hateful, you taught me how to be compassionate. When I was distant, you taught me how to be close. When I was selfish, you taught me how to share.Continue reading...
Wed, 18 May 2016 17:09:06 GMT2016-05-18T17:09:06Z
In a moving post and a commencement address, the Facebook COO showed how her mind has been broadened. Let’s hope this rubs off on Silicon Valley
Sheryl Sandberg gave the commencement speech at UC Berkeley last weekend, during the course of which she said many stirring things about the future awaiting the class of 2016. She also built on her much-commented upon Mothers’ Day Facebook post, in which she spoke for the first time about life in the wake of her husband’s death last year. These two elements, the motivational speaking and the personal reflections on grief, combined to do something that has so far eluded Sandberg and the corporate world generally: the acknowledgement that people are human.Continue reading...
Thu, 08 Sep 2016 11:00:31 GMT2016-09-08T11:00:31Z
Those itching for conflict like to portray Putin as a grandmaster. In reality, his country is weak and his strategy is one of desperation
These days it is en vogue in Washington DC to be itching for conflict with Russia. Politicians and pundits alike are outdoing each other for how they can describe the supposed threat Putin now poses to the west. To his credit, Barack Obama seems to be the only politician not playing into the cold war 2.0 hysteria.
In little noticed comments last week, Hillary Clinton suggested that the US should start preparing “military” responses to cyber-attacks allegedly perpetrated by Russia on the DNC and voter registration files. And her campaign has also spent the last few weeks ratcheting up the fear-mongering that the Trump campaign is secretly a Russian plant of some sort.Continue reading...
Wed, 23 Mar 2016 20:16:31 GMT2016-03-23T20:16:31Z
Some religious employers have railed against including contraceptive coverage in health plans. Without Justice Scalia, though, they’re unlikely to prevail
On Wednesday, the US supreme court heard oral arguments in Zubik v Burwell. The case challenges the Affordable Care Act requirement that employers include contraceptive coverage in taxpayer-subsidized health plans, with potentially negative ramifications for women nationwide should the court rule against the government.
The arguments suggest, however, that the issue will remain unresolved by a shorthanded court likely to split 4-4, which may well be the best-case scenario under the circumstances.Continue reading...
Sat, 02 Jan 2016 08:00:05 GMT2016-01-02T08:00:05ZDigital-age culture was meant to be bite-sized. But novels are getting longer, and I have learned to enjoy Wilbur SmithShortly before Christmas, Wilbur Smith, the writer of airport novels, gave an interview to a Sunday newspaper in which he spoke of his four wives in the following tender terms: “Two of them died on me, the first one hates me, and this one loves me, so I’ve covered the whole spectrum.” He no longer saw his children, he added: “They’ve got my sperm, that’s all … it’s sadder for them than it is for me, because they’re not getting any more money.” Perhaps the most charitable response was to observe that at least Smith was being consistent here: the real people in his life seemed as two-dimensional, judging from these descriptions, as the typical Smith hero, who is a rugged outdoorsman with a passion for hunting, hard liquor, and no-strings sex. (Oh, and for avoiding the gaboon adder, the deadly African snake Smith calls upon, with amusing frequency, when a character needs to die.) But my sneering’s a bit hypocritical, really. I only know about Smith’s cardboard-cutout characters because 2015 was the year I read two of his brick-sized novels, along with several similar vast works by Frederick Forsyth and Ken Follett: the kind of books, as one friend put it both succinctly and snobbily, that you find in self-catering holiday cottages. A further confession: mainly, I enjoyed them.In publishing at large, it was a year of very long works: of Franzen and Knausgård and Marlon James, if you have some kind of problem with gaboon adders and prefer literary fiction instead. A survey in December confirmed that novels in general are getting bigger: the average number of pages in a bestseller, it found, had grown by 25% since 1999. This is unexpected. Digital culture was always supposed to fragment our attention spans, eroding our powers of concentration with addictive interruptions and bite-sized stimuli – and it often does. But it’s also the case that e-readers make very long books much more practical: the 400-plus pages of Smith’s Eye of the Tiger (in which, by the way, a killer shark is destroyed by being induced to swallow a stick of gelignite hidden inside the body of a Moray eel) added no weight to my Kindle. Continue reading...[...]