Bigotry by any other name is still bigotry

Donald Trump

I have a number of great fears. The climate crisis is one of them. Russia invading Ukraine is another. But the only way I see of averting a right-wing dictatorship in the United States now requires that Donald Trump be prevented from running for re-election to the presidency in 2024.[17]

There are actually grounds for measured optimism on the latter as the criminal injustice system grinds towards both civil and criminal cases against Trump.[18] There is, of course, a difference between the filing of a lawsuit and winning it, a difference between the filing of criminal charges and winning a conviction. There is the no small matter of Trump’s usual strategy of stalling and delay—no quibble is too minor, trivial, or flatly ludicrous to waste courts’ time—that has been seen as a reason Trump couldn’t afford to lose his re-election bid in 2020.[19]

The safer solution would be for Congress to pass and for Joe Biden to sign voting rights legislation into law to prevent the Republican Party from undermining the election system, reducing elections to authoritarian-style farces, and securing permanent power. Inadequate though this would be, it appears not to be an option[20] with a Democratic Party that seems much more comfortable in opposition and that simply can no longer be taken seriously.[21]

The consequence already is that ‘progress’ can occur only in a rightward, Trumpist direction, on issues like abortion, gun nuttery, and voter disenfranchisement, even when the Democrats putatively control the White House and Congress, with the Republicans obstructing anything even remotely positive, as they have for years, simply for the sake of obstructing.[22] This reality fills me with dread.

Coup attempt

David G. Savage, “Supreme Court rejects Trump’s plea to shield White House records from House inquiry,” Los Angeles Times, January 19, 2022, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2022-01-19/supreme-court-turns-down-trumps-plea-to-shield-his-white-house-records-from-house-probe

John Wagner, “Georgia prosecutor requests special grand jury in probe of Trump’s efforts to overturn state’s election results,” Washington Post, January 20, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/01/20/georgia-da-seeks-special-grand-jury-trump/

George T. Conway, III, “The Supreme Court’s order against Donald Trump is even worse for him than it appears,” Washington Post, January 21, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/01/21/courts-hand-donald-trump-loss-after-loss-after-loss/

Felicia Sonmez, Josh Dawsey, and Jonathan O’Connell, “Supreme Court, investigators force Trump and his children on the defensive on multiple fronts,” Washington Post, January 21, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/01/21/supreme-court-investigators-force-trump-his-children-defensive-multiple-fronts/

Finances

Felicia Sonmez, Josh Dawsey, and Jonathan O’Connell, “Supreme Court, investigators force Trump and his children on the defensive on multiple fronts,” Washington Post, January 21, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/01/21/supreme-court-investigators-force-trump-his-children-defensive-multiple-fronts/

Heather Vogell, “New Legal Filing Reveals Startling Details of Possible Fraud by Trump Organization,” ProPublica, January 21, 2022, https://www.propublica.org/article/new-legal-filing-reveals-startling-details-of-possible-fraud-by-trump-organization

Ed Pilkington, “‘House of Trump is crumbling’: why ex-president’s legal net is tightening,” Guardian, January 22, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/jan/22/donald-trump-legal-perils


Academic freedom, Right-wing dictatorship

Jack Stripling, “Blasting U. of Florida, Judge Says Professors’ Testimony Can’t Be Blocked,” Chronicle of Higher Education, January 21, 2022, https://www.chronicle.com/article/blasting-u-of-florida-judge-says-professors-testimony-cant-be-blocked


‘S-Valley’

Some—not all—American Indians want to change the name of a valley in the Sierra Nevada foothills of Fresno County because the word ‘squaw’ came to be “an ugly profanity for vagina”[23] and reflects a treatment of Indian women as “worse than dogs — [who] could be used and traded, and killed and shot.”[24] Astonishingly, to me, at least, local white politicians see the Indians as “outsiders.” Insisting that they mean no harm with the slur, they co-opt critical theory to insist that context—a narrow context of their intent—is what matters.[25] You know, just like some white people using the n-word.[26] Or like Lauren Boebert’s “joke” to a group of Jews visiting a U.S. representative at the U.S. Capitol.[27]

Lila Seidman, “Native Americans want to ditch the name Squaw Valley. A county supervisor says context matters,” Los Angeles Times, January 18, 2022, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-01-18/native-americans-want-to-ditch-the-name-squaw-valley-a-county-supervisor-says-context-matters


Anti-semitism

Gabe Friedman, “Lauren Boebert asked Jews visiting US Capitol if they were doing ‘reconnaissance,’” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, January 20, 2022, https://www.jta.org/2022/01/20/politics/lauren-boebert-asked-jews-visiting-us-capitol-if-they-were-doing-reconnaissance


Ukraine

Julia Ioffe, “Trump’s Former Russia Guru Explains His Putin Complex,” Puck News, January 21, 2022, https://puck.news/fiona-hill-explains-his-putin-complex/


Pacific Gas and Electric

PG&E’s checkered record dates to at least the groundwater contamination near the Mojave Desert town of Hinkley starting in the 1950s, which made attorney Erin Brockovich a household name. In 1994, the PG&E-caused Trauner Fire led to more than 700 counts of criminal negligence in Nevada County. And the company is still under probation for its criminal conviction in the 2010 San Bruno gas pipeline explosion, which killed eight and injured dozens more in the Bay Area suburb.

The federal judge overseeing that probation recently called the company “a convicted felon that poses a safety hazard to California” and vowed to continue “rehabilitating” PG&E until the last possible moment of its probationary period.[28]

I remain dismayed that California continues to allow Pacific Gas and Electric to exist despite being a repeat felon.[29] State and local governments can clearly do otherwise and have threatened to do so.[30] Even the Sacramento Bee, hardly a radical paper, has urged some form of public takeover.[31] At some point, the negligence lies not only with the utility, but with government officials who, well aware of the risk, nonetheless fail to take action.

Robert Burnson and Mark Chediak, “As PG&E probation nears end, judge calls company a ‘continuing menace,’” Los Angeles Times, January 20, 2022, https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2022-01-20/pacific-gas-electric-probation-nears-end-judge-calls-company-continuing-menace


COVID-19 Pandemic

(Inter)national

Paul Karp, “Novak Djokovic leaves Australia after court upholds visa cancellation,” Guardian, January 16, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2022/jan/16/novak-djokovic-to-be-deported-from-australia-after-losing-appeal-against-visa-cancellation

Michael E. Miller, “Novak Djokovic loses visa challenge, denting hopes of playing in the Australian Open,” Washington Post, January 16, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/01/15/novak-djokovic-australia-visa/

Tumaini Carayol, “Djokovic’s French Open title defence in doubt after Covid pass ruling,” Guardian, January 17, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2022/jan/17/djokovics-french-open-title-defence-in-doubt-over-covid-pass-ruling

Andrea Stanley, “People Are Hiding That Their Unvaccinated Loved Ones Died of COVID,” Atlantic, January 18, 2022, https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2022/01/unvaccinated-covid-deaths-secret-grief/621269/

Lenny Bernstein, “Inside a Rhode Island hospital E.R. overwhelmed by omicron,” Washington Post, January 19, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2022/01/19/covid-emergency-room-omicron/

Jacob Gershman, “Judge Blocks Biden Covid-19 Vaccine Mandate for Federal Workers,” Wall Street Journal, January 20, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/judge-blocks-biden-covid-19-vaccine-mandate-for-federal-workers-11642790097


Tsunami

I hadn’t heard that a tsunami from the Tonga volcano explosion had actually reached the U.S. Pacific coast. It seems it did.[32]

Jonah Valdez, “The tsunami that battered Santa Cruz highlights the threat facing California’s coast,” Los Angeles Times, January 22, 2022, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-01-22/the-tsunami-that-battered-santa-cruz-highlights-the-threat-facing-californias-coast


  1. [17]David Benfell, “The danger that still remains,” Not Housebroken, December 11, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/11/24/the-danger-that-still-remains/
  2. [18]Ed Pilkington, “‘House of Trump is crumbling’: why ex-president’s legal net is tightening,” Guardian, January 22, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/jan/22/donald-trump-legal-perils; Jennifer Rubin, “A single district attorney in Georgia has the best case against Trump,” Washington Post, January 11, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/01/11/single-district-attorney-georgia-has-best-case-against-trump/; Felicia Sonmez, Josh Dawsey, and Jonathan O’Connell, “Supreme Court, investigators force Trump and his children on the defensive on multiple fronts,” Washington Post, January 21, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/01/21/supreme-court-investigators-force-trump-his-children-defensive-multiple-fronts/; Peter Stone, “Criminal inquiry into Trump’s Georgia election interference gathers steam,” Guardian, October 5, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/oct/05/donald-trump-criminal-investigations-georgia-election-interference; Heather Vogell, “New Legal Filing Reveals Startling Details of Possible Fraud by Trump Organization,” ProPublica, January 21, 2022, https://www.propublica.org/article/new-legal-filing-reveals-startling-details-of-possible-fraud-by-trump-organization; John Wagner, “Georgia prosecutor requests special grand jury in probe of Trump’s efforts to overturn state’s election results,” Washington Post, January 20, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/01/20/georgia-da-seeks-special-grand-jury-trump/
  3. [19]Marjorie Cohn, “Trump’s Frivolous Lawsuits Are the Tip of the Iceberg in His Refusal to Concede,” Truthout, November 11, 2020, https://truthout.org/articles/trumps-frivolous-lawsuits-are-the-tip-of-the-iceberg-in-his-refusal-to-concede/; Meaghan Ellis, “Legal expert explains how the walls are closing in on a flustered Trump,” Raw Story, September 25, 2021, https://www.rawstory.com/trump-legal-problems-2655172197/; Jane Mayer, “Why Trump Can’t Afford to Lose,” New Yorker, November 1, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/11/09/why-trump-cant-afford-to-lose; Andrew G. McCabe and David C. Williams, “Trump’s New Criminal Problem,” Politico, January 11, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2021/01/11/trumps-new-criminal-problem-457298; Jan Wolfe, “Trump challenges riot lawsuits, says fiery speech was official act,” Reuters, January 10, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/legal/government/trump-ask-judge-throw-out-suits-by-lawmakers-police-over-us-capitol-riot-2022-01-10/
  4. [20]Mike DeBonis, “Senate Republicans block voting rights bill, dealing blow to Democrats’ effort to overhaul election laws,” Washington Post, January 19, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/democrats-brace-for-likely-defeat-of-voting-rights-push-due-to-gop-filibuster/2022/01/19/2f9a734c-792d-11ec-bf97-6eac6f77fba2_story.html; Greg Sargent, “Joe Manchin finally makes it plain: He is in favor of minority rule,” Washington Post, January 19, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/01/19/joe-manchin-filibuster-voting-rights-minority-rule/
  5. [21]David Benfell, “Democrats and contradiction,” Not Housebroken, January 20, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/11/18/democrats-and-contradiction/
  6. [22]Perry Bacon, Jr., “Does Biden Really Think Republicans Will Work With Him? And Could He Be Right?” FiveThirtyEight, January 19, 2021, https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/does-biden-really-think-republicans-will-work-with-him-and-could-he-be-right/; Eric Bradner and Gregory Krieg, “Joe Biden predicts a post-Trump ‘epiphany’ for Republicans,” CNN, May 14, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/14/politics/joe-biden-republicans-trump-epiphany/index.html; Moira Donegan, “What does Biden have in common with Trump? Delusional nostalgia,” Guardian, June 21, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jun/21/joe-biden-trump-sexism-delusional-nostalgia; Matt Ford, “Someone Please Tell Joe Biden That Bipartisanship Is Dead,” New Republic, June 12, 2019, https://newrepublic.com/article/154183/someone-please-tell-joe-biden-bipartisanship-dead; Martin Pengelly, “‘Short and not especially sweet’: Lindsey Graham called Biden over Trump support,” Guardian, August 16, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/aug/16/lindsey-graham-joe-biden-hunter-call-trump-support; William Rivers Pitt, “Mitch McConnell Says Bipartisanship Is ‘Over.’ Believe Him,” Truthout, July 7, 2021, https://truthout.org/articles/mitch-mcconnell-says-bipartisanship-is-over-believe-him/; Alex Shephard, “Bipartisanship Is Dead, and That’s Great News for Joe Biden,” New Republic, January 21, 2022, https://newrepublic.com/article/165093/bipartisanship-dead-biden-democrats-obama; Matt Viser, “Biden once asserted Republicans would have an ‘epiphany.’ Now he admits he doesn’t understand them,” Washington Post, May 6, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-once-asserted-republicans-would-have-an-epiphany-now-he-admits-he-doesnt-understand-them/2021/05/06/a8204a84-ae77-11eb-acd3-24b44a57093a_story.html; Paul Waldman, “Joe Biden still hasn’t learned the lessons of the Obama presidency,” Washington Post, December 6, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/12/06/joe-biden-still-hasnt-learned-lessons-obama-presidency/; Paul Waldman, “Behind their big defeat, Democrats may have reached a turning point,” Washington Post, January 20, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/01/20/democrats-turning-point/
  7. [23]Lila Seidman, “Native Americans want to ditch the name Squaw Valley. A county supervisor says context matters,” Los Angeles Times, January 18, 2022, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-01-18/native-americans-want-to-ditch-the-name-squaw-valley-a-county-supervisor-says-context-matters
  8. [24]Shirley Guevara, quoted in Lila Seidman, “Native Americans want to ditch the name Squaw Valley. A county supervisor says context matters,” Los Angeles Times, January 18, 2022, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-01-18/native-americans-want-to-ditch-the-name-squaw-valley-a-county-supervisor-says-context-matters
  9. [25]Lila Seidman, “Native Americans want to ditch the name Squaw Valley. A county supervisor says context matters,” Los Angeles Times, January 18, 2022, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-01-18/native-americans-want-to-ditch-the-name-squaw-valley-a-county-supervisor-says-context-matters
  10. [26]David Benfell, “On the ‘n-word,’” Not Housebroken, January 22, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/02/09/on-the-n-word/
  11. [27]Gabe Friedman, “Lauren Boebert asked Jews visiting US Capitol if they were doing ‘reconnaissance,’” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, January 20, 2022, https://www.jta.org/2022/01/20/politics/lauren-boebert-asked-jews-visiting-us-capitol-if-they-were-doing-reconnaissance
  12. [28]Sacramento Bee, “PG&E has destroyed enough California communities. It’s time for a public takeover,” November 5, 2021, https://www.sacbee.com/opinion/editorials/article255555496.html
  13. [29]Katherine Blunt, “PG&E to Plead Guilty to Involuntary Manslaughter Charges in Deadly California Wildfire,” Wall Street Journal, March 23, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/pg-e-to-plead-guilty-to-involuntary-manslaughter-charges-in-deadly-california-wildfire-11584962649; Jarod Cassidy, “PG&E Guilty of 6 Felony Charges in San Bruno Pipeline Explosion,” Thomas J. Henry, October 5, 2017, https://thomasjhenrylaw.com/blog/premises-liability/pge-guilty-6-felony-charges-san-bruno-pipeline-explosion/; Richard Gonzales, “Federal Judge Imposes New Probation Terms On PG&E To Reduce Wildfire Risk,” National Public Radio, April 2, 2019, https://www.npr.org/2019/04/02/709248544/federal-judge-imposes-new-probation-terms-on-pg-e-to-reduce-wildfire-risk; Lyanne Melendez and Katie Marzullo, “Federal jury finds PG&E guilty of obstructing investigators,” KGO, August 10, 2016, https://abc7news.com/news/federal-jury-finds-pg-e-guilty-of-obstructing-investigators/1463352/
  14. [30]Maggie Angst and John Woolfolk, “San Jose mayor announces growing support for customer takeover of PG&E,” San Jose Mercury-News, December 5, 2019, https://www.mercurynews.com/2019/12/05/details-of-bold-plan-for-customer-owner-pge-fix-released-with-resounding-support/; Katherine Blunt and Alejandro Lazo, “California Governor Threatens State Takeover of PG&E,” Wall Street Journal, November 1, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/california-governor-threatens-state-takeover-of-pg-e-11572641749; Mary Fricker, “Exploring options for PG&E’s future,” Sonoma West Times and News, November 20, 2019, http://www.sonomawest.com/sonoma_west_times_and_news/news/exploring-options-for-pg-e-s-future/article_cdccdf26-0bc2-11ea-a06f-1bf6a8868cad.html; Dale Kasler, “Gavin Newsom rejects PG&E bankruptcy plan, demands ‘radically restructured’ CA utility,” Sacramento Bee, December 13, 2019, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article238350708.html; Dale Kasler, “PG&E makes deal with Gov. Newsom on bankruptcy demands. ‘End of business as usual,’ he says,” Sacramento Bee, March 20, 2020, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/article241379336.html; Dale Kasler, “PG&E pleads guilty to manslaughter charges for Camp Fire, deadliest in California history,” Sacramento Bee, June 16, 2020, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article243571597.html; Dale Kasler, “PG&E faces another criminal case as Sonoma County DA files charges in 2019 Kincade Fire,” Sacramento Bee, April 6, 2021, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article250471091.html; KPIX, “Federal Judge Calls PG&E ‘Recalcitrant Criminal,’ Delays New Probation Ruling,” May 28, 2020, https://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2020/05/28/regulators-approve-pge-bankruptcy-plan-despite-safety-fears/; Sacramento Bee, “PG&E has destroyed enough California communities. It’s time for a public takeover,” November 5, 2021, https://www.sacbee.com/opinion/editorials/article255555496.html; Tyler Silvy, “Sonoma Clean Power officials will explore public ownership of PG&E utility lines,” Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, November 14, 2019, https://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/10315410-181/sonoma-clean-power-officials-will; Hayley Smith, “PG&E charged with manslaughter in Shasta County fire that killed 4,” Los Angeles Times, September 24, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-09-24/zogg-fire-charges; Rebecca Smith, “California Mayors Join Campaign to Buy Out PG&E,” Wall Street Journal, November 5, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/california-mayors-join-campaign-to-make-pg-e-a-cooperative-11572955201; Robert Burnson and Mark Chediak, “As PG&E probation nears end, judge calls company a ‘continuing menace,’” Los Angeles Times, January 20, 2022, https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2022-01-20/pacific-gas-electric-probation-nears-end-judge-calls-company-continuing-menace
  15. [31]Sacramento Bee, “PG&E has destroyed enough California communities. It’s time for a public takeover,” November 5, 2021, https://www.sacbee.com/opinion/editorials/article255555496.html
  16. [32]Jonah Valdez, “The tsunami that battered Santa Cruz highlights the threat facing California’s coast,” Los Angeles Times, January 22, 2022, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-01-22/the-tsunami-that-battered-santa-cruz-highlights-the-threat-facing-californias-coast

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