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Showing posts from August, 2019

How the Trump administration plans to erect a border wall in 2020

As of mid-2019, the Trump administration has only managed to replace 60 miles of existing border fencing. Trump is suddenly demanding to build 500 miles of new fencing between now and the November 2020 election. On August 27, 2019, Nick Miroff and Josh Dawsey wrote for the Washington Post: "President Trump is so eager to complete hundreds of miles of border fence ahead of the 2020 presidential election that he has directed aides to fast-track billions of dollars’ worth of construction contracts, aggressively seize private land and disregard environmental rules, according to current and former officials involved with the project. He also has told worried subordinates that he will pardon them of any potential wrongdoing should they have to break laws to get the barriers built quickly, those officials said." U.S. Customs and Border Protection gave these construction orders to Army Corps engineers on a conference call in August. The story continued: "Defense Secre

Hurt me 15 degrees less: On cruelty, fear, justice, order, and challenging the conservative white evangelical worldview

Yes, indeed, for white evangelicals in the US today, the catchphrase the cruelty is the point (as distilled by Adam Serwer in the Atlantic ) is indeed the case, John Stoehr wrote in August 2019. They act this way simply because when they hurt "people deserving cruelty," it "feels good" to them, and they put effort into coming up with other rationalizations for their actions. (On this point, Stoehr cites Richard Rorty's Achieving Our Country. ) And they are not so much afraid of their victims (making words such as "homophobia" misnomers) as they are afraid that they will go to Hell if they are more tolerant of others who they are told are going to Hell (i.e. others who are deserving of cruelty). This system makes them unwilling to listen to anyone who does not also subscribe to their evangelical group and concept of divine reward and punishment. This leaves them unable "to reason their way out of fear" and "is not a moral compass at all

The chief eunuch in 'The Boy Fortune Hunters in China' (1909)

The Boy Fortune Hunters is a series by L. Frank Baum, the author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, writing under the pseudonym Floyd Akers. The fourth volume, The Boy Fortune Hunters in China, was published in 1909 by the Reilly and Britton Co. In this story, set in 1908, three American boys — Sam Steele of Chelsea, Mass., age 18, the narrator; Archie Ackley, "about my age"; and Joseph Herring, "a little younger" and "rich" — sail across the Pacific to China and conspire to steal a royal treasure from the palace of a dead prince, out from under the nose of the ever-loyal chief eunuch. They travel with two South Sea Islanders, Nux and Bryonia, who had been rescued at sea by Sam's uncle. The uncle then renamed them after the medicines he used to save their lives. They were subsequently "devoted" to this man, and they learned English from him. "Indeed, I had come to regard both Nux and Bry," Sam says, "as my own personal follo

It is not journalists' job to vet political nominees, but...?

The position of U.S. national intelligence director is open, following the resignation of Daniel Coats. John Ratcliffe withdrew his name from consideration on August 2, 2019, only five days after Trump nominated him. An article in The Guardian about why Trump picked Ratcliffe: Ratcliffe is a frequent Trump defender who fiercely questioned the former special counsel Robert Mueller during his testimony before the House Judiciary Committee hearing last week. Even as Mueller laid bare concerns that Russia was working to interfere with US elections again, Ratcliffe remained focused on the possibility that US intelligence agencies had overly relied on unverified opposition research in investigating the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia. Unfortunately for Ratcliffe, he had embellished his credentials. According to Vox: He had "frequently boasted about overseeing the arrest of 300 illegal immigrants in one day at a poultry plant in 2008," but the operation was much smaller