Category Archives: Politics

Just reading the headlines makes you sick to your stomach…

… and I’m not even a US citizen, just a concerned Eurpean who knows a thing or two about German history.

The Atlantic: Unthinkable – 50 Moments That Define an Improbable Presidency. Each line is the link to a corresponding article.

“Jeffrey Goldberg, Editor in chief of The Atlantic:

In an October 2016 editorial, The Atlantic wrote of Donald Trump: “He is a demagogue, a xenophobe, a sexist, a know-nothing, and a liar.” We argued that Trump “expresses admiration for authoritarian rulers, and evinces authoritarian tendencies himself.” Trump, we also noted, “is easily goaded, a poor quality for someone seeking control of America’s nuclear arsenal. He is an enemy of fact-based discourse; he is ignorant of, and indifferent to, the Constitution; he appears not to read.”

In retrospect, we may be guilty of understatement.

There was a hope, in the bewildering days following the 2016 election, that the office would temper the man—that Trump, in short, would change.

He has not changed.

This week marks the midway point of Trump’s term. Like many Americans, we sometimes find the velocity of chaos unmanageable. We find it hard to believe, for example, that we are engaged in a serious debate about whether the president of the United States is a Russian-intelligence asset. So we decided to pause for a moment and analyze 50 of the most improbable, norm-bending, and destructive incidents of this presidency to date.”

Link via MetaFilter.

“While visitors are enjoying the free access, they may be doing irrevocable damage to America’s national parks.”

The Guardian: Joshua Tree national park announces closure after trees destroyed amid shutdown.

“For 17 days, a host of volunteers and a skeleton staff kept the trash cans and toilets from overflowing at Joshua Tree national park.

But on Tuesday, 18 days after the federal government shutdown furloughed the vast majority of national park staff, officials announced that vandalism of the park’s distinctive namesake plants and other maintenance and sanitation problems will require closure starting Thursday.

“While the vast majority of those who visit Joshua Tree do so in a responsible manner, there have been incidents of new roads being created by motorists and the destruction of Joshua trees in recent days that have precipitated the closure,” spokesman George Land said in a news release.”

Vox: Joshua Tree National Park has been trashed in the shutdown. Now visitors are cutting down trees. “Despite severe damage, the park will not shut down entirely.”

“A week ago, Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California was forced to shut down its campgrounds due to “health and safety concerns over near-capacity pit toilets,” according to CNN.

But despite the partial closure, things continued to get worse.

According to National Parks Traveler, visitors are creating illegal roads and driving into some of the park’s most fragile areas. They are also chopping down trees, setting illegal fires, and graffitiing rocks. With Joshua Tree being roughly the size of Delaware, the eight on-duty law enforcement rangers had no way to stop all the prohibited activity.”

Links via MetaFilter.

I’ve been to Joshua Tree National Monument during a school exchange back in 1992, before it became a National Park, and again with André in 1999. It’s been on my list of places to re-visit more thoroughly, but now I’ll have to find out if it’s still worth it. It’s a shame that this is happening to Joshua Tree and many other National Parks because of a stubborn and incompetent president.

“That is the sick and slick vendetta of America’s reality-TV President.”

The Globe and Mail: Forget the wall. Trump is the national security crisis. By Sarah Kendzior.

“The speech was akin to a hostage video, and American viewers were his captive audience. We watched because the stakes felt too high to turn away. We watched because Mr. Trump has taunted us with talk of declaring a “national emergency” – an act which gives him the power to do things like kill the internet, freeze bank accounts, and turn military troops into a domestic police force. We watched because Mr. Trump has long applauded death through his praise of dictators and criminals. We watched because the path to American autocracy was laid out upon his election, and we wanted to know which victims were next.”

Link via MetaFilter.

“The president,” he said, “would like a Diet Coke.”

The Atlantic: Why Mike Pence Couldn’t End the Shutdown. “The vice president has led negotiations to reopen the government. But even after the White House’s state-of-emergency threat, he doesn’t appear to have the authority to do much about it.”

“White House allies on the Hill and former administration officials acknowledged privately that the vice president may be more hamstrung than ever, unable to capitalize on many of the strengths he was originally chosen for. But crucially, those sources said, Pence has never expressed any displeasure with his circumstances, and would never suggest, even privately they say, that Trump’s whims have made shuttle diplomacy difficult. “There’s a reason Pence has avoided the fate of so many others,” another former senior White House official told me. “He acquiesces entirely to the will of Trump 100 percent of the time.””

Link via MetaFilter.

“[H]aving to make a choice, when no good options exist”

NPR: To Get Mental Health Help For A Child, Desperate Parents Relinquish Custody.

“The family had private insurance through Jim’s job, and Daniel also had Medicaid coverage because he was adopted. But neither insurance would pay for that treatment. Exhausted and desperate, the Hoys decided to relinquish custody to the state. If they sent Daniel back into the foster care system, the child welfare agency would be obligated to pay for the services he needed.

“To this day, it’s the most gut-wrenching thing I’ve ever had to do in my life,” Jim says.”

This reminded me of an episode of This American Life that aired in the spring of 2018:

This American Life: 643: Damned If You Do…

“And then she heard about another option, a radical one, a last resort. Eileen talked to a mom who had been in a similar situation to hers, Toni Hoy.

And what Toni had done to get her kid treatment was give up custody of him, hand him over to the state. Once the state takes custody of a child, they have to provide mental health care. It’s a perverse legal loophole that exists in a bunch of states. It’s called a psychiatric lockout. It’s meant to ensure that kids who are abandoned by their parents end up with the care that they need.

But instead, desperate parents like Eileen are using it as a last-ditch effort of making sure their kids get treatment. It’s called a lockout because it’s as if the kid has been locked out of their house. Some child welfare workers even tell parents to do it. It’s called lockout coaching.

The way it would work is the next time Noah was hospitalized, Eileen would refuse to pick him up and bring him home. Eventually, the state would take custody of him and pay for him to live in a residential facility. And that was it. Technically, it was easy. Emotionally, of course, it was much harder.”

Turns out Eileen spoke to the family from the NPR article above about how to get help for her son.