“The Irony”

The irony is that Americans remain in agreement on many actual issues. Eight out of 10 Americans think that political correctness is a problem; the same number say that hate speech is a concern too. Most Americans are worriedabout the federal budget deficit, believe abortion should be legal in some or all cases, and want stricter gun regulation. Nevertheless, we are more and more convinced that the other side poses a threat to the country. Our stereotypes have outpaced reality, as stereotypes tend to do.

The Geography of Partisan Prejudice” – The Atlantic

Is it “irony” that those who hold the minority views have artificially engineered political power to impose policies 180° from what the majority would prefer? Calling that “a threat” to democracy is far from prejudicial.

If Cohen saw himself in the Republican congressmen he faced across the dais, then Cummings was speaking to them, too, in offering the possibility of redemption—though they may not have heard it. Imagining the questions those in the hearing room would face years from now, Cummings asked: “In 2019, what did we do to make sure we kept our democracy intact? Did we stand on the sidelines and say nothing?” After the end of this presidency, the country will have to take stock of how to move forward. Cummings offered one model of how to do so: with a keen awareness of the pain that it caused, but also with grace.

Elijah Cummings Saved the Michael Cohen Hearings” – The Atlantic

What are we waiting for?

The biggest risk may be that an external emergency — a war, a terrorist attack, a financial crisis, an immense natural disaster — will arise. By then, it will be too late to pretend that he is anything other than manifestly unfit to lead.

For the country’s sake, there is only one acceptable outcome, just as there was after Americans realized in 1974 that a criminal was occupying the Oval Office. The president must go.”

The People vs. Donald TrumpThe New York Times

“Emergency” Powers

It would be nice to think that America is protected from the worst excesses of Trump’s impulses by its democratic laws and institutions. After all, Trump can do only so much without bumping up against the limits set by the Constitution and Congress and enforced by the courts. Those who see Trump as a threat to democracy comfort themselves with the belief that these limits will hold him in check.

What the President Could Do If He Declares a State of EmergencyThe Atlantic

The Rule of One Hundred

Start with the total U.S. population, then divide by 100, since that’s the size of the current, more deliberative upper chamber. Next, allocate senators to each state according to their share of the total; 2/100 equals two senators, 3/100 equals three, etc. Update the apportionment every decade according to the official census.


Using 2017 census estimates as a proxy for the official one coming in 2020, the Rule of One Hundred yields the following outcome: 26 states get only one senator (having about 1/100 of the population or less), 12 states stay at two, eight states gain one or two, and the four biggest states gain more than two: California gets 12 total, Texas gets nine, and Florida and New York get six each. This apportionment shows how out of whack the current Senate has become.

Here’s How To Fix the Senate” – The Atlantic

Support your local newspaper

To the extent that you know your local school board is corrupt or that your city’s subway expansion plan is millions of dollars over budget or that your local power plant is dumping coal ash into your water supply, it’s usually because of a reporter. You may think this stuff just comes drifting in on the air, or the Internet, like water flows when you turn on the tap, but no: Reporter. Newspaper. Journalism.

Zach Baron, “The Fresno Bee and the War on Local News” in GQ

Science and politics

…encouraging open scientific communication helped the US learn what the international scientific community was up to. For another, this ideology of scientific freedom set American science apart from the more visibly controlled science of the Soviet Union — even as the US curtailed the freedoms of American scientists at home.

Rachel Becker, “cold War propoganda sPread the myth that science isnt political

Fascism is Not an Idea to Be Debated

…only those safe from fascism and its practices are likely to think that there might be a benefit in exchanging ideas with fascists. What for such a privileged group is a matter of a potentially productive difference in opinion is, for many of us, a matter of basic survival. The essential quality of fascism (and its attendant racism) is that it kills people and destroys their lives—and it does so because it openly aims so.

Aleksandar Hemon

Fascism is Not an Idea to Be Debated, It’s a Set of Actions to Fight

Protective Custody in Nazi Germany – Who Was Being Protected?

jkottke:

Another thing I learned on my visit to Topographie Des Terrors in Berlin was how the Nazis subtly twisted the meaning of “protective custody”. That term is typically thought of as a measure to safeguard an individual who might be harmed. It’s not always a positive term – “custody” after all is not freedom and in US prisons, protective custody often subjects the person being protected to solitary confinement.

Beginning in 1933, the Nazis began placing people deemed subversive to the Reich under protective custody, presumably so they would not be harmed by German people upset with their disruptive influence in society. But really, protective custody was a euphemism for jailing Jews, homosexuals, the disabled, Communists, the elderly, Roma, “work-shy”, and political opponents outside of the normal judicial system.

With the reinterpretation of “protective custody” (Schutzhaft) in 1933, police power became independent of judicial controls. In Nazi terminology, protective custody meant the arrest – without judicial review – of real and potential opponents of the regime. “Protective custody” prisoners were not confined within the normal prison system but in concentration camps under the exclusive authority of the SS (Schutzstaffel; the elite guard of the Nazi state).

No due process…these people went straight to concentration camps and were then often murdered. The entity being protected in protected custody was the Nazi regime. From a 1939 article in The Atlantic written by someone who had been imprisoned in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp::

In Germany the words ‘protective custody’ have a double meaning. Originally the term meant the incarceration of people who were threatened by others and who were guarded for their own safety so that they might be protected from their enemies. Now, however, men in protective custody are mostly those who are brought, for the ‘protection of the people and the State,’ into a concentration camp without hearing, without court sentence, without the possibility of redress, and for an indefinite time.

Language, as Orwell and others have long noted, is a powerful tool of fascists and authoritarians. In addition to “protective custody”, the Nazis referred to their plans for Jewish genocide as the “Final Solution to the Jewish Question” and murdering people as subjecting them to “special treatment”. It all sounds so civilized and palatable, easily digestible to normal folks.

Design Museum – Arms Trade Out! – Campaign Against Arms Trade

Design Museum – Arms Trade Out! – Campaign Against Arms Trade