Here at Flavorwire, we pride ourselves on not only writing excellent content, but keeping an eye on all of the great writing online as well. Lately, as a predominantly arts/culture-centric website, we’ve been focusing this outward-looking post on indispensable political writing.
This week is particularly off-putting, as the collective dread of those of us who believe climate change is real, who believe immigrants need to be protected, who believe women can make their own procreative choices, becomes actualized.
Indeed, our staff has found it horrifying to surrender power to a handful of woefully unqualified, wealthy individuals whose views run the gamut from Islamophobic religious zealotry to gun-nuttery to institutionalized misogyny. Watching cabinet hearing after cabinet hearing happening in succession like a set of dominoes driving towards today’s inaugural abyss has not made for a happy week here. So here you’ll find writing from around the web that recaps some of what’s been going on, but also looks to what can be done to prevent the surrendering of rights — as best as anyone can — to that abyss.
Trump’s pick for Secretary of Education, beyond making stupid meme-able statements about the potential need for guns in certain schools to ward off “grizzlies,” is not only unqualified, but, like so many of Trump’s picks, fundamentally antagonistic towards the very thing she’s presumably supposed to represent (public schooling). Beyond that, there’s this from the Intercept: In her confirmation hearing, she appears to have lied to Congress about her involvement with the Prince Foundation (which was her mother’s) when it donated the hefty sums to anti-LGBT causes. Jeremy Scahill writes:
DeVos said that her immediate family — presumably meaning her husband and children — had nothing to do with the financing of anti-gay causes and groups and that she has never supported “conversion therapy” for gay people. Newly elected Democratic Sen. Margaret Hassan pressed DeVos on these claims. She asked DeVos directly if she was on the board of her mother’s foundation during the period in which large donations were made to Focus on the Family. DeVos said that she was not on the foundation’s board. When I heard that, I pulled up the 990 tax documents of the Prince Foundation, which I investigated for my book “Blackwater.” Betsy DeVos was clearly listed as a vice president of the foundation’s board…
DeVos ultimately claimed that her being listed as VP for years was a “clerical error.” The Washington Post explains that not many of Trump’s cabinet picks have officially been confirmed yet — so there’s still time, whatever it may do, to call your senators and voice concerns.
At Jacobin, Samuel Earle writes about the need to present an alternative to nostalgia — a movement that presents a future worth fighting for.
It’s common knowledge that the temptation to look back rises as satisfaction with the present falls and faith in the future fades away. Memories of better times past — real or not — are an easy escape from feelings of insecurity and distance. Today, these feelings are all around us. “On every level of human life,” wrote the late Polish sociologist Zygmunt Bauman, “you have the same situation. Uncertainty.” The main driver of this uncertainty, however, is not multiculturalism or immigration, as the nostalgic nationalists claim. The culprit is much bigger: global, neoliberal capitalism. By subjecting everything in the world to the logic of the market, capitalism creates enormous change in local communities with little to no regard for social cohesion.
Politico hosted an absolutely fascinating conversation between three Trump biographers that touches on his relationship with his father, mentors, families and more, and ends with this very depressing kicker:
The only things that have kept him awake at night historically are money, sex, food, and revenge. And if you take those things out of the mix, it’s not like he ponders the deeper meaning of life. I don’t think he feels that he’s not up to this task. I think he did at different points during the campaign, and I certainly think on election night, and the first few days after that, you could see a kind of a watering down of his bravado. But that seems to have lasted for about a millisecond.
The L.A. Times has a long — and unsurprisingly harrowing — piece with projections about what Trump could likely do immediately to begin enacting the anti-immigration efforts he discussed throughout his campaign. Unlike some of his other big-ticket plans, such as replacing Obamacare, Trump can act on immigration without Congress under the president’s wide legal authority to control borders. “We’re going to move very quickly on the border,” Vice President-elect Mike Pence told NBC News on Wednesday, saying Trump could even use his executive power to start on his chief immigration pledge — building a wall along the border with Mexico. Next year’s Homeland Security budget includes about $175 million set aside for upgrading Border Patrol buildings and adding new equipment, which along with other funds could be diverted quickly to start construction on a wall while Congress considers proposals to increase funding.As you may have seen, Trump has also laid out blueprints that’d see the elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts. Pitchfork’s Mark Hogan gets into the history of the NEA, examining the types of programs its funded in the past:Historically, the agency has awarded thousands of grants for orchestras, jazz, operas, chamber music, and beyond. And just looking back through the past year or so, the array of specific programs affected by the endowment is dizzying. If you saw a video last year of David Bowie talking about working with Lou Reed, that was part of an NEA-funded digital archive. An Esperanza Spalding performance at Manhattan’s Baryshnikov Arts Center, a Steve Reich 80th-birthday celebration at Carnegie Hall, and a Quincy Jones tribute at the Monterey Jazz Festival are among endowment-boosted events from 2016. If it’s all seeming bleak, the best solution is to channel that bleakness into collectivized resistance — which we’re even seeing institutionally, among some Democrats in Congress who’ve refused to attend the inauguration. The New York Times writes about the growing, massive dissent surrounding the inauguration:Mr. Trump’s inauguration is not the first to draw protesters from around the country and opposition from ideological foes, or even to prompt some lawmakers of the opposing party to stay away. But the level of organized resistance to his presidency — by elected leaders, political operatives, activists, lawyers and others — is striking. Mr. Trump’s approval ratings are exceptionally low for an incoming president, and they are driven by historically low levels of approval from Democrats, said Carroll Doherty, the director of political research at Pew Research Center. And both the Washington Post and Buzzfeed compare the crowd sizes between 2009 and today; in every respect, Obama’s inauguration trumped Trump’s. It doesn’t mean we can be complacent. But it’s a little bit heartening.