Who Makes Policy Campaign 2016 Edition

Token Woman, African American in Trump’s Cabinet

There seems to be a theme for Trump’s Cabinet picks: total disregard, apathy, or hostility for the department the person will head, old, and white. Just take a look at the picture on CNN. There is nothing at all diverse or representative of the body politic about this Cabinet, unless the diversity is based on the manufacturer of the nominee’s pacemakers.

Ethics? That’s a concept of a bygone political era c. 2015

Okay, maybe political ethics have been questionable for longer that the past year but we voted in scandal (and not the good ABC primetime variety). Then again did we really vote it in when Clinton won by almost 3-milion votes.

Bloomberg news talks, however, about how Trump’s plan for his businesses, while he is in office, would not hold muster ethically for a Federal employee. The good news, as we all know, for Trump is the rules don’t apply to him (in reality this time, not just in his head).

If we don’t all end up in prison for being vocal opposition to Trump the ethical scandals that we will see in the coming year should at least prove to be entertaining (that is if they don’t bring the republic down in the process).

Hypocrisy on the Right… say it ain’t so!

While I was at AAF this semester I heard repeatedly about how these people felt as though the academy did not value right-leaning opinion. I took this at face value because as we all know reality has a liberal skew.

Hyperbole aside. If this is true, if the right believes in freedom of thought and expression then why do they allow this to happen. This being a liberal professor getting death threats for voicing an opinion. This goes to my belief that social media has perpetuated a society that can only tolerate listening to their bubble – and get violent when they hear things they don’t like.

Ask Trump to Play Fair? LOL

Okay, while I get what the author here is saying asking Trump to rise above the fray is like asking a 5-year old to look at a marshmallow and not eat it.

But, in all seriousness, Trump won by using deceit and dog-whistles. Is asking him to rise above and promote international journalistic standards, standards that will allow the press to say “not nice” things about him (that likely are true).

Where did that marshmallow go again?

End of the semester, end of an era, and a questionable future…

It has been hard for me to follow the news since the results of November 8th. When I have, it just made me more depressed and angry. In the days after the election, I lost it on Social Media. Lost it so bad that I had to delete my accounts. But everyone in this group already knows that. It’s why I have not been blogging. Engaging was hurting my overall wellbeing. I realize that the era of social progressivism that marked my teenage and young adult years is over as I move to the beginning of my middle ages (okay I have a few more years but they are coming fast, and I have the gray hairs to prove it).

It has taken a month for this reality sink in. Everything that I believe in like racial equality, gender equality, LGBT equality, environmental policy, prison reform, police reform, is in jeopardy. I know that this reality is not lost on this group of high-minded individuals.

I realize that action must be taken. But what measures can be taken in a world of all but useless 140 character missives. You cannot have nuance on Twitter. You cannot have civil discourse (it seems) on Facebook. Snapchat has degraded discourse to pictures (and if they are worth 1000 words, I want a refund).

It is with this disdain for what we call engaging in the modern world that I recommend (reservedly) that if you are not a part of the Injustice Boycott that you should be. There is a lot of Twitter activism, but I think that with the numbers who have joined that the Twitter activism coupled with the real activism might just work. They are targeting efforts on injustice with the Dakota pipeline and in NYC and San Fran. I am not sure about it but I can hope.

The Basic Income Guarantee

I know that this is another post not about Russia, but it is one that is near and dear to my heart: The Basic Income Guarantee. Before I get into a Vox article, I read this morning I want to invite you to read a great piece on libertarianism.org (a Cato brand) “The Libertarian Case for a Basic Income.”

The basic income has come in many flavors, from Milton Freedman’s “negative income tax” to the so-called “citizen’s dividend.” It is an idea that creeps up every once and a while, and while it reeks of socialism, there are many libertarians who defend the idea (though they come to that defense in a way that might make some liberals cringe).

In fact, there is a “basic income guarantee” program that is alive and well in America today: The Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend. It works in Alaska because they have partially socialized oil extraction (not lost is the irony that Sara Palin was their governor).

While, from a moral and ideological standpoint, I agree with the concept of a basic income I also realized that in America the idea of giving people something for nothing is antithetical to our national Puritan work ethic. Politically I do not see how we can achieve something like this.

But we may not have a choice in the near future.

I was reading this piece on Vox this morning, and it hit me, probably because the author made the point quite well, that as we move to a world of autonomous cars and trucks where will people labor. Labor is, in fact, being replaced by capital and as capital can increasingly do the work of labor many will find themselves on the proverbial bread lines.

The Vox piece puts this issue front and center in my mind. While libertarian conceptions of markets make a lot of sense I have to wonder if these conceptions work in the technological age. If we no longer need truck drivers and waiters and cooks and janitors and drivers and train crew and… then what will all those people do? Can we change the minds of people as to what work is in a world where there is an increasingly small number of traditional jobs?

Racism? No, White Identity Politics! (or, Racism by another name)

I got a paragraph into this piece and decided to write a post.

It’s not racism, its White Identity.

I remember someone at my internship site who said something along the lines of “is it wrong for me to want to look out for my interests and other white people?”

Honestly, I did not think much of it at the time. Perhaps because I am white and the privilege that goes along with that made that comment slide under the proverbial radar.

I read the first few paragraphs of this piece and it all came together like Rodger Rabbit dropping and anvil on my head. There is something wrong with that statement. Sure, prima face, looking out for your own interests is arguably fine. Frankly, that is what our society is based and we have to look no further than capitalism and the greed motivation to realize that.

Take for example Speaker Paul Ryan’s favorite author, Ayn Rand. Rand promoted the theory of rational egoism or the belief that it is both “irrational and immoral” to “act against one’s self-interest.”

Perhaps that is true. But the study of ethics would have us ask is it morally right to act in one’s self-interest alone, as an end in itself, at the expense of others.

I say all of this because it leads me to the following. First, I reject the claim that “White Identity Politics” is not racial. All we have to look at is the systemic institutionalized racism that already exists in our criminal justice system, in our economic systems. White Identity Politics is a nice way of saying “were having an existential crisis because we will no longer have all the power in a few years and we don’t want to be treated the way we treated everyone else.”

Well, I am sorry, too bad. White people enslaved Blacks and hung them in trees. Promoted Jim Crow and prevented equal education. And when all of this was deemed to be a violation of human rights we ensured that possession of “black cocaine” products kept entire racial groups in jail and out of society.

Now that we have seen that for as much as things have changed nothing has changed and in the near future white people will not be a plurality of the population, well, frankly, white people ought to be scared because if we are treated as badly as we have treated black people, latinos, and other racial groups then there is something to fear.

Or, we can accept the fact that we have to atone for the past.

Acknowledging that “White Identity Politics” is racism by another name would be a good start.


In my search for OpEd’s I came across these two (here and here) that I think are both good.

When I was looking at them what I found that I liked about both was that they came to a cogent final point – a recommendation for policy. When the OpEd does this well I think it serves a very important purpose. It serves to present alternatives and analysis that the reader may not have considered.

US to Russia: no more talks on Syria

The US has suspended talks with Russia regarding Syria. This is hardly surprising, but if bilateral talks are over, if Russia is supporting the Asad regime, and if the US wants Asad gone does this mean that hostilities between Russia and the US will increase? Given that Russia has stopped adhering to a bilateral nuclear disarmament deal (see previous post) it seems that we have our answer.


Russia suspends weapons grade plutonium deal with US!

Russia decided that due to “tensions” between the US that it was no longer “possible” to adhere to deal to reduce weapons-grade plutonium.

Admittedly, the US has failed to reduce its weapons-grade plutonium noting that its facility to convert this material has been delayed and over budget. During this time Russia has been unilaterally adhering to the deal so it is not surprise that given the state of affairs between the US and Russia that it would stop adhering to a bilateral deal that the US was not adhering to in the first place.