sholio: sun on winter trees (Default)
Sholio ([personal profile] sholio) wrote2017-01-28 11:35 pm

Welcome to America 2017

Well, today sure has been a day that happened.

Politics talk under the cut - long.

There has been a whole stream of stupid, ill-advised, and worrisome things the government's done in the last week, but the refugee/immigration ban is ... it's been a long time since a single government act made me this white-hot furious. It's the sheer petty cruelty of it, the stupidity, the fact that thousands and thousands of people's lives are going to be brutally disrupted, are already being brutally disrupted (legal green-card-holding residents with U.S. families and jobs detained or stranded in foreign countries; people who have lost everything they ever had, lived in danger of their lives, and have worked for years to get into the U.S. being turned around to go back to countries where they have no future; thousands upon thousands of law-abiding legal immigrants with green cards who are now unable to travel for work, unable to visit their ailing parents, unable to carry on their lives) -- and all for NOTHING, for literally nothing, nothing more than political pandering to bigots.

The fact that it was literally signed on Holocaust Remembrance Day is the keystone on this tilting ziggurat of petty cruelties. If I wrote a villain doing something like this, it'd be too OTT to believe.

Everyone affected by this ban are either refugees who have already been through a draconian years-long vetting process that has a proven track record of eliminating nearly all applicants with terrorist ties or sympathies (not to mention suffering through absolute hell prior to that; people don't become refugees for fun), or green-card-holding residents who have jobs, homes, and families here, who pay taxes, who are effectively citizens in all but name.

It breaks my heart and it makes me so very angry. It would make me furious even if it hadn't been implemented in the stupidest and most ruinous way possible, but NO, it was rammed through without the consultation or approval of the state dept. and immigration, and therefore it instantly became a clusterfuck in which no one in authority knew what they were supposed to be doing and blindsided travelers had no opportunity to make alternate plans. (I mean, imagine flying out of the country to visit your parents and coming back a week later with no clue nothing's wrong until you aren't allowed on the plane, and are told you may be allowed back to your home, job, friends and family in 90 days or possibly never. That's LITERALLY AND ACTUALLY what is happening to people RIGHT NOW.)

Aside from having been smacked in the face with just exactly how heartless and ruthless the people currently commanding the top seats in the government hierarchy are, I think the thing that makes me the most terrified about all of this is that no one, all up and down the official chain of command, ever said "Hey wait, this is stupid, this is wrong, we need to stop." I am heartened and thrilled that thousands of people turned out spontaneously to protest. That's utterly wonderful and I'm so glad. But I haven't heard a single story of an airport security person refusing to execute their orders, even when their orders changed literally overnight, made no goddamn sense, and meant pulling families and old people out of line and shoving them into rooms to wait -- wait for WHAT, even most TSA/immigration people couldn't have known, since their orders were so contradictory and unclear. Here is a twitter thread that talks about what that experience is like, from the point of view of a white American guy who got singled out awhile back due to a passport mixup. It was scary and miserable even for him -- now imagine going through that as a non-citizen, especially if you don't speak the language well, especially if you originally come from a country where governments detain and disappear citizens all the time. WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK, AMERICA.

So the fact that no one seems to have said "no" when brand new, contradictory, possibly illegal orders came down scares the absolute shit out of me. The fact that Congress has now had a full day to respond and is doing nothing at all scares the shit out of me too.

If this was a test run for what we'd actually do if the government said "Line those people up against the wall and shoot them," you know what? We, as a nation, failed. SOME of us passed with flying colors -- the thousands of protesters who showed up at airports, the legal teams who donated time and expertise to advocate for people, the ACLU and judges who are taking the first steps toward blocking it.

But the people who really had the power to act to change it at its source (the people tasked with implementing it, and the people in charge of the branch of the government that theoretically makes the laws -- even the Vice-President, who may be a first-order asshole with theocratic tendencies but at least isn't one of the POTUS's hand-picked bunch of yes-men) did absolutely nothing. Sat by and watched it happen, or were actively complicit in it.

And you know what? If our country is currently (and I believe it is) in the hands of a power-mad kleptocrat who is filling up his cabinet and closest cadre of advisors with wealthy cronies and actual Neo-Nazis, then the fact that the people who could have stopped this are doing nothing is a warning sign so potent that it leaves me breathless.

Watching the protests lifted my heart because so many people are willing to speak out against this, but it was also a kick in the gut because literally the only thing a protest does, the only power it has, is to make the people in power listen. And if they still won't listen, you are powerless. Thousands of people are a mere raindrop compared to 318 million. Millions turned out for the women's march and it's STILL just a raindrop compared to the whole. Even the courts have only as much power as the government and its official apparatus are willing to give them. Americans like to remind ourselves that hey, we've always got armed revolution! ... but if you get to that point, your country is in total failure mode and you are probably going to die. And since most people don't want to die and have a vested psychological and practical interest in hanging onto the shredded vestiges of their country as long as there is still something recognizable of what it used to be, you probably won't ever get to that point.

So basically, that we turned up by the thousands in mere hours to protest the detention and targeting of people who, for the most part, are not in the demographic of the protesters gives me hope. (As per my favorite sign from the protests: First they came for the Muslims and we said not today, motherfucker!) But the fact that none of the people who were actually given enough power to stop this, from the majority leader of Congress to the most lowly TSA agent, did anything except go along with it leaves me so scared and disheartened I could cry.
xparrot: Chopper reading (Default)

[personal profile] xparrot 2017-01-29 09:50 am (UTC)(link)
Well, as far as I understand it, the airport security people weren't really doing anything that they don't do every day anyway, pulling out people and denying them entrance...I'm not saying don't blame them, it's more, the orders for those employees didn't change. The reasons for the names being on the list changed, but the actual lists are nothing new. So it's not quite the same as a spontaneous firing squad. Not that it's not scary as fuck.

The assholes up the foodchain who should know better, who let this go unchallenged -- Paul Ryan giving tacit support, what the fuck -- that's truly frightening, and we have to face the fact that the Republicans have no line, or at least that their line is set so far across the edge of decency that by the time it gets crossed it's probably too late to hit the brakes.

But people are standing up. It was encouraging to see the crowds at SeaTac tonight (we were only in the protests for an hour or so, as we heard about them late and left when we were warned that arrests had started and there could be violence. I was surprised by how organized it was for a spontaneous event, there were lawyers and people from the ACLU and NAACP coordinating and others, giving advice and explaining what was going on. The attempt was to shut down the airport, which I'm not sure about as a tactic; the eternal debate between getting attention and pissing people off so much they turn on your cause. But a lot of the people at the airport who weren't in the protest crowds were still cheering us on, which was heartening to see.)

And the courts are in our favor for now. And a lot of the media is on our side. And...we'll see where this goes, I guess.

(There's a part of me that's...it goes too far to say this is what we needed, no one needed this. But Trump is such a dumb fucker he's doing this all openly, aggressively, obviously, and we're pushing back. While as there has been so much stuff like this that has happened before without this kind of push-back, because it was smaller scale, because it went through the proper channels, more disguised as normal politics. The registration apparatus that Obama closed shortly before leaving office, I hadn't even heard of that before. So there's a part of me hoping that if we can get through this...and I hope 'this' is less than two years, that he's impeached before the next Congressional election cycle...we might come out with a more primed, energized, aware Left than we've had before...)

(err, please excuse the possibly unwarranted hope, and also the expletives...it's late and it's been a long day.)
Edited (I forgot a closed parantheses, and to adjust wording.) 2017-01-29 09:52 (UTC)
xparrot: Chopper reading (Default)

[personal profile] xparrot 2017-01-29 10:40 am (UTC)(link)
After feeling depressed all day, when we realized the protests were happening here, too, and SeaTac is less than half an hour away...felt like it was something we could do. There are advantages to living by cities...!

The roller coaster between hope and despair has been a wilder ride than usual lately, but yeah, I'm hoping in the long run it can build liberal momentum.
kore: (Default)

[personal profile] kore 2017-01-29 08:27 pm (UTC)(link)
I was up over the moon about the protests and hopeful and then heard the "Bannon is on the NSC" news and was ready to cry. Rollercoaster, yeah.
sheenianni: (Default)

[personal profile] sheenianni 2017-01-29 12:26 pm (UTC)(link)
I think this has all become so open and blatant that it's making a lot of people who were generally in the "everything's okay and we've beaten racism/sexism/etc" camp (which, to be honest, was basically me circa 10-15 years ago) shift over into "wait, everything's not okay". It's stripped the veneer of normalcy off a growing well of poison, and it's making the left WAY more militant and organized, which frankly was something the left really needed.

One Czech girl here. For what it's worth, this has definitely been very eye-opening and thought-provoking, even if it's America and not my own country.

I'd never say we have beaten racism/sexism/homophobia etc., because it's never going to be completely dead. But it has gotten much better, and maybe we've allowed that to make us complacent, to ignore how deep those problems still go and that we still need to fight against them.

And I think we've made a big progress in some areas. Like, take my own university. We're a technical school, so twenty years ago, girls were scorned and ridiculed by teachers for studying there; female teachers were very rare. Now, a significant part of the PhD students are girls, the school is openly proud of them and the guys don't even try the blatant sexistic crap because they know they wouldn't get away with it anymore. Because the society won't get them away with it.

Maybe that's the key - maybe we need to be more active; to be more vocal and not let people get away with the little "harmless" insults and similar crap. Just make it openly clear that this is unacceptable in the 21st century. I don't think my country is in any immediate danger of anyone like Trump because of the simple fact our political system is different, but the "well of poison" is here too.

Best wishes to you and your country in these difficult times :(
ratcreature: hiding under my blanket (hiding under my blanket)

[personal profile] ratcreature 2017-01-29 12:53 pm (UTC)(link)
Though the German news said that the Czech government welcomed Trump's immigration executive order when other EU countries like Germany condemned it, and that the Czech hoped that the new US line would help them make the EU take even harsher anti-refugee measures as well, and that Trump would be an ally for that. And that your president Milos Zeman talked about how proud he was to have supported Trump during his campaign.
sheenianni: (Default)

[personal profile] sheenianni 2017-01-29 03:27 pm (UTC)(link)
99% people of the country think Zeman is an idiot. (Okay, maybe closer to 80%, but still the vast majority). He used to be Prime minister; always rude, very outspoken, egoistic, a bully, a drunk. His own partly backstabbed him rather nastily in 2002 or so during the presidential election. He disappeared for years, then surrounded himself by a new group of people and came back. He came back with an act of being "calmer, wiser"; sadly a lot of people fell for it.

The presidential election was a total fiasco. We had nine presidential candidates in the first round - none of them very good, but least four of them were infinitely better than Zeman (I was torn between voting for "blue guy" and "nice old lady"; wouldn't have made a difference either way). Sadly, to the second round made it Zeman and an old guy who was a political puppet, mostly known for constantly falling asleep during the parliament's session. It was clear that it would be a bad choice no matter who we got - I voted for "sleepy puppet" but didn't begrudge Zeman voters, hoping maybe his time away from power has changed him for the better. Instead he has surpassed even our worst expectations. (Shall we talk about how he almost threw up over the Czech crown jewels because he was so drunk? Or him denying Tibet because "China is an important trade partner", or him refusing to award to a guy the title of Professor (which is one of the president's few duties) just because the man carried a pro-LGBT transparent during Prague Pride? Yeah. The only good thing is that he doesn't have much real power to speak of, beyond ceremonial stuff and being given some space in the media.)

Point is, we are ashamed of the guy and want nothing to do with him. Sadly, we're stuck with him for another two years, unless he commits high treason, resigns (LMAO) or drinks himself to death.

I am very unhappy with our government, though I understand somewhat where they're coming from; hoping that the US policy gives them a stronger negotiating voice in the EU. There is a lot of Czech and European history that I won't go into. We are unhappy with the EU trying to force quotas on us despite the fact that the majority of refugees don't even want to come to our country. Despite being offered help, being given flats, language lessons etc., only a third of those who came here stayed here - a third left for Germany, a third returned home to their war-torn countries. Still, most of the motivation for the government's statement is internal EU politics, with the refugees unfortunately trapped in the middle of it.

The sad thing is, our current so-called Left government (which I also didn't support :/ ) won its place by speaking "love&peace," "tolerance", improving the situation of the poor people. Instead they have ruined small businessess, declared "LGBT rigths not important" (and indeed haven't passed a single law to improve them), are on their best way to ruin our schools and despite their big words have done absolutely nothing to improve the situation of Romani people in the country. What makes it worse is that they own most of the media.

As much as I despise most of our politicians, I do believe in our people. But there is a huge divide between the two. It's complicated.
ratcreature: hiding under my blanket (hiding under my blanket)

[personal profile] ratcreature 2017-01-29 05:06 pm (UTC)(link)
Well, of course it's complicated everywhere. That's why you can end up with awful people in power in pretty much any place if the circumstances are just right (or rather wrong). Then the only chance is to have strong institutions that obstruct the worst, so that no single actor can do too much damage. Like what you said that in the current Czech system you couldn't have a Trump as such because it is set up differently. Or the US courts declaring parts of Trumps EO unlawful etc.

But that only goes so far, because with the institutions cautiously set up so that they limit each other and power is divided between many actors that need to reach consensus, it is very easy that they are just ineffective, so then the institutions have a bad rep for being dysfunctional before, and unresponsive to people or blocking each other over political gain and all that. Like the bad rep of the US Congress. You see that all over the EU as well, especially with the EU-wide institutions since it is the easy way for local politicians to blame EU institutions for all sorts of crap whenever they need a scapegoat.

Then people won't care much if the institutions and their powers get undermined dismantled by a "strong government", because it didn't seem to work before. And you end up with some person or faction that essentially runs against current system itself and a significant portion of the population will cheer for that.

It's really an inherent catch-22 of democracies, that the theorists have been pondering since the Greeks. I mean, considering how long it's been a democracy uninterrupted the US doesn't have a bad track record in dealing with the periodic upheavals, unlike most European countries, so I guess that might be a reason to have hope.
sheenianni: (Default)

[personal profile] sheenianni 2017-01-29 07:37 pm (UTC)(link)
I think it's a mistake to compare the US to the EU too much, or to try to make the EU into something it's not. It's a different system - each of the European countries has its own specific history, culture and language. I'm not saying the US is "all the same", but it's nowhere near as diverse as Europe is. I don't think they can make Europe into "US v.2", at least not in any foreseeable future (ask me again in a hundred years and maybe we can talk). Most Czechs don't feel they're "Europeans", not like it's a big part of our identity. I'm not saying that can't change, but it won't change if they try to force this label on us, which is what the EU seems to be doing now.

The strength and weakness of the Czech system is having multiple smaller parties instead of two big one like in the US. That means that if any of these parties really screws up, they won't even make it to the parliament the next time. However, it also means that no government is formed without compromise between at least two parties. That's good on some levels (the most drastic ideas won't go through because the 2+ parties won't agree on them), but it also means less accountability (the party you voted for can always say, "well, this wasn't our fault, our coalition partner did that/didn't allow us to do whatever we promised").

Then you have the media, which are a political power of their own. Sometimes innocent people have their lives ruined by them; sometimes they elevate people to power or destroy them. And they are not held accountable in any significant way, which is a problem.

people won't care much if the institutions and their powers get undermined dismantled by a "strong government", because it didn't seem to work before. And you end up with some person or faction that essentially runs against current system itself and a significant portion of the population will cheer for that.

True. This is why I'm most wary of "newcoming saviors" as the cure for all the world's problems. It's not that it can't work. Some new people in politics can be great. The institutions often grow too stagnant, the politicians stay there too long until they lose all contact with reality; bureaucracy gets out of hand. But the people who want to fight that have to be trustworthy. In the Czech system of "many smaller parties", this means I won't vote for the guys who emerge with big statements out of nowhere promising to "fix everything because [they're] not like them". I might however vote for the guys I've watched several years trying to build something real, starting small-scale from scratch in local politics, who have regular jobs but still find the time to argue the big issues because they believe in them. And that's still no guarantee they won't let me down. I do prefer this to having just two big parties, but it is still very flawed.
ratcreature: hiding under my blanket (hiding under my blanket)

[personal profile] ratcreature 2017-01-29 10:15 pm (UTC)(link)
Unfortunately I'm less sure about the resilience of parliamentary multi-party systems in tough times, because they are vulnerable in their own ways as we've seen often enough in many different kinds of multi-party frameworks, especially when outside circumstances are destabilizing factors that reveal the cracks and weaknesses.
sheenianni: (Default)

[personal profile] sheenianni 2017-01-29 10:35 pm (UTC)(link)
I wouldn't underestimate the multi-party system, but I really don't want to argue about this. Neither system is perfect, and what works better for a small, 10 million people country might be less good for a 300 million people country. Different cultures, different history, different people as well.
kore: (Default)

[personal profile] kore 2017-01-29 08:29 pm (UTC)(link)
it's making the left WAY more militant and organized, which frankly was something the left really needed. I would far, FAR rather have had this never happen at all, but now that it is happening, the strong and immediate pushback is really great to see.

Yeah. It's like we've gotten shoved out onto a precipice, but maybe there's a chance for people to organize and protest and really make some real change, which would be amazing. But what a fucking price to pay, though. And as usual the poor and PoCs and immigrants are going to be paying the most.
kore: (Default)

[personal profile] kore 2017-01-29 08:25 pm (UTC)(link)
THANK YOU for going to the protest, by the time I heard it was really late and I don't have a car and that was around when they shut down the light rail (W.T.F.). (I live on the Hill.)

From what I read Ryan's support isn't even tacit, he's coming right out and saying how great it is. ARGH.

xparrot: (b5 shadow)

[personal profile] xparrot 2017-01-30 02:30 am (UTC)(link)
Yeah, public transportation can be limited. And don't worry, am sure there will be plenty more protests to join...!

(also hee to the Fremont troll!)
ratcreature: hiding under my blanket (hiding under my blanket)

[personal profile] ratcreature 2017-01-29 10:25 am (UTC)(link)
Yeah. I find it really scary that the Trump government apparently didn't even think through its own orders in favor of making a it 1:1 copy of their bigoted campaign slogan and fast. Who does that with a terrifying and complex machinery like the US executive?

They aren't just indifferent to morals but also to cold-hearted interests in their politics. I mean, nobody in their right mind would think it in the US best interest to not let a Harvard heart disease researcher who was set to arrive in, or like, I've read an interview with a member of the German national parliament who is on some parliamentary subgroup for cooperation with the US, and there all the time on delegations, only now he can't visit anymore because he is Iranian-German and of course Iran doesn't let people out of their citizenship. I've read officials from UK and Canada, and I imagine many others, have the same problem. So this blanket ban is not just offending and harassing those countries, whom maybe Trump thinks aren't important. (Unlike Saudi-Arabia and Pakistan and such, but I guess he has hotels there or something.)

I'm not surprised though that the parts of the aparatus from low to high won't do anything to oppose horrible orders. They never do, actually it is worse in that they will probably try to anticipate what is meant by the chaotic directions, and interpret them in the worst way rather than looking for loopholes to exploit for good. The few exceptions to that rule will be the rare people, like that Japanese diplomat in Lithuania who wrote thousands of visas for jews to save them and such.
ratcreature: RatCreature as Pinky & Brain: Try and take over the world. (pinky&brain)

[personal profile] ratcreature 2017-01-29 11:29 am (UTC)(link)
Yeah, when they are quietly and competently refusing entry and deporting people it certainly generates less interest, especially when they avoid stepping on the business interests of big companies who want their software engineers from everywhere but don't really care about random people drowning.

What's scary to me is what it means more broadly if they are this incompetent. You can't even guess what chaotic thing might happen next. Like, I can easily see them starting a global depression, because they bumble into some economic thing based on wanting to implement some slogan.

And I had hoped your Republican Congress would at least manage to reign Trump in for moneyed interests, but looking at this debacle they don't seem to be willing or able to check anything.
kore: (Default)

[personal profile] kore 2017-01-29 08:31 pm (UTC)(link)
So if Rove was W's brain, Bannon is Trump's brain? IT MAKES TOO MUCH SENSE AAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH
kore: (Default)

[personal profile] kore 2017-01-29 08:25 pm (UTC)(link)
Thi is so well put, yeah. All of this.
arianna: (Default)

[personal profile] arianna 2017-01-30 12:28 am (UTC)(link)
It is frightening and horrifying, especially as the Republican Congress is standing by mute. And now he's removing the General representing the Joint Chief of Staff from his Security Council, in favour of appointing Steve Bannon, the guy writing all these draconian presidential orders that, apparently, your president isn't even reading before he signs. Also, a whole bunch of senior public servants in the State Dept resigned en masse rather than work for this regime, so now there are no Ambassadors in the field and pretty much nobody who knows how to support the staff who are there. Next step? Probably closing them except in Russia. China is saying they can actually envision going to war with the US, something that hadn't even occurred to them before now. It's up to the Republicans to pressure their reps and senators to stand up, speak out, refuse to comply and impeach = alas, these are the characters who liked the idea of a wall and a ban on immigrants and ... all the rest of this horror story. I'm Canadian, sitting far too close for comfort and unable to do anything but watch, inform, encourage and be glad our PM is standing for diversity. Alas, we're small population and wealth-wise, and we have a lot of oil and a third of the world's fresh water, so some of us are worrying if Russia and the US administration plan to divide our wealth between them.
Edited 2017-01-30 00:29 (UTC)
yalumesse: (critics)

[personal profile] yalumesse 2017-01-30 05:34 am (UTC)(link)
Fury doesn't begin to cover it. I'm scared for you, and for my half of the world, and the most useful thing I can do right now is *hug*