"San Antonio's Confluence Park receives national recognition" My San Antonio, 6 February 2019 https://www.mysanantonio.com/news/local/article/San-Antonio-Confluence-Park-national-award-13590634.php [Journal Entry 8 - 6 February 2019 at 15:13]

The over 13-million-dollar park in Southern San Antonio that was finished in 2018 has already been selected for an award. It received the American Institute of Architects award, partly because it was designed for educational purposes. The organization in charge of the award called it "a piece of the country's largest environmental restoration project."

America has an environmental restoration project going on? I'm glad to hear about that. I hope it's a lot more radically large scale, and tied to strong industrial regulation, than I suspect it is.

I hope this park proves beneficial to the community it's in. I personally feel that the best sort of parks and gardens provide free food to the local community. Even better if that food comes from native, or at least non-invasive, plants. However, a place for education and exposing kids to a possibility for mankind and the rest of nature to coexist could be quite good too.

"Inside the Secretive US Air Campaign In Somalia" The Nation, 7 February 2019 https://www.thenation.com/article/somalia-secret-air-campaign/ [Journal Entry 9 – 7 February 2019]

Ever since Trump took office, there has been is an information blackout regarding drone strikes committed by the US in areas such as Somalia. Most strikes are not being reported and the only way to find out if the military arm supposedly in charge of these things (AFRICOM) was responsible, is to ask about a specific time and location. There is some evidence that the CIA is conducting strikes itself, although no sort of authorization was announced. There is no evident infrastructure or organization by which the government could be gaining reliable intelligence on who is a member of Al Shabab, and everyone involved has refused to disclose methods. We don't even have a way of determining casualty numbers.

This right here is what I mean when I say that Trump is a great jester. This kind of story is what should be on every front page. Not some dumb speech that got postponed. (I am referring to the State of the Union). Not some senator's old racist yearbook photo. (That belongs on a page, just not the front page). Certainly not the Cheeto tan's latest spelling-bee failure tweet.

While we look at him, we stop paying attention to a lot of the real problems. This isn't unique to Trump, but I think it is amplified in him. As long as he is creating scandals, and the actual horrors going on maintain radio silence, he, and the people under him, can get away with abuses like this.

I have never heard of Al Shabab. I did not even know we were in Somalia. This is the price of optional politics. As Snyder said, institutions are nothing without people to run them. A watchtower is useless if no one watches, and right now they are being torn down while we aren't looking. Organizations like the CIA have run roughshod over places like south and central America because by the time we thought to look we weren't allowed to.

Secrecy in the name of defense is one of the most dangerous things a government can claim. Leaders say that if we give them power, they can protect us, but the moment that they have power over us, they become more dangerous than those we wish to be protected from.

A single man with a gun will never be as dangerous as an organization of men with guns and badges that mean they kill in the name of safety.

"In Mueller investigation, one big question: ‘Why are so many people lying?’" The Cristian Science Monitor, 6 February 2019 https://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Politics/2019/0206/In-Mueller-investigation-one-big-question-Why-are-so-many-people-lying [Journal Entry 10 - 8 February 2019 at 12:31]

During the entire Trump investigation, no one has been convicted of anything other than lying to the court. Various experts debate whether this use of laws against obstructing justice is valid. One side says that it is handing out meaningless punishments that, at best, do nothing to further the case either way. The other side calls it a valid technique for gathering information, and getting to the bottom of this possible conspiracy.

This seems like a legal tool that can be easily abused. It also seems that the question of whether it is being abused depends mostly on whether or not you believe they are guilty.

That seems really bad for the whole 'rule of law' thing we supposedly have going on here in America. The law and courts are meant to be just and fair. If we are going to judge their fairness based on previous assumptions of guilt or innocence, then I think we may as well not bother with the rules in the first place.

Wooten, Casey. "Lawsuits That Could Change the Shutdown Calculus." National Journal Daily AM (USA), sec. News, 12 Feb. 2019. NewsBank, infoweb.newsbank.com/apps/news/document-view?p=WORLDNEWS&docref=news/1718C6E3974F7010 [Journal Entry 11 - 12 February 2019]

There are several lawsuits being brought against the federal government by government employee unions. If the unions are victorious, then workers could not be forced to work only for the promise of future pay, regardless of whether they are deemed essential or not. Many of those who filled the lawsuits hope that this would prevent future shutdowns.

I don't think that the government should be able to shut down. It has always been, and always will be, a terrible idea. It not only throws thousands of people's lives into disarray, but also tanks approval ratings on all sides.

The whole point of using shutdown tactics seems to lay in manufacturing a crisis out of something that should be handled by debate and procedure. Therefore, making the potential crisis more serious isn't going to make them hesitate for very long. I really don't think that adding poison to this blade is going to prevent them from stabbing us again.

On the other hand, these workers absolutely should get paid. I have a feeling the unions will get slandered as greedy people abandoning their important, lifesaving work for money. I would call it desperate people demanding the ability to stay alive to continue doing lifesaving work, and unfortunately the only leverage they have in this system is the strike.

I think it's quite possible what the government has done is illegal. However, legality has little to do with morality, and I only really care about whether these things are moral. I have little faith that these concerns will be legitimately dealt with by the laws that created them, and so leave the question of legality to the lawyers.

In any case, I shall add this to my long list of evil things that the American government is doing.

"The False Promise of Silicon Valley’s Quest to Save the World" The New Republic, 7 February 2019 https://newrepublic.com/article/153034/false-promise-silicon-valleys-quest-save-world [Journal Entry 12 - 12 February 2019 at 23:21]

Tech some companies like Google and Facebook have concrete mission statements that declare them as a beacon of good in the world. These concrete mission statements are meant to create a company culture that invests employees in their work beyond a simple desire to get paid. However, this has recently backfired for many companies, as employees hold them accountable to their lofty claims.

This was like homemade soup for my blackened, anti-capitalist soul. Corporations are massive, mobile, authoritarian governments, right down to the disingenuous claims of working for the good of the people. It makes me viciously glad to know that people are using their own tools against them.

"Border Security Talks Stalled Over Detentions, Shelby Says." CQ News (USA), 10 Feb. 2019. NewsBank, infoweb.newsbank.com/apps/news/document-view?p=WORLDNEWS&docref=news/1719C14E5AB39A10. [Journal Entry 13 - 15 February 2019 at 17:29]

"Border Security Talks Stalled Over Detentions, Shelby Says"is the title of this one. The government is waddling towards another shutdown, this time over an argument about how many beds to order for detained immigrants. Democrats want less, and a phase out of detention altogether; Republicans want more beds. On the pure wall funding end of things, the latest proposal is for $2 billion going to border barriers. If Trump declares a state of emergency, he could then have much more than his desired $5.7 billion to build a wall.

Firstly, I don't understand why Democrats think that securing less beds will stop Trump from detaining people over capacity. We already know that none of the systems Trump used for family separation could keep up with the sheer number of people detained. They were constantly without supplies, and refused to accept donations. (I know that they refused donations because I was a part of a group that went to McAllen detention center to offer them.) I think that all limiting the number of beds will do, is ensure that those detained will be sleeping on the ground.

Can I just say how much I hate finding out about presidential powers by looking up, and seeing that Trump is the single thread preventing The Sword of Damocles from falling and killing us all? Because I really, really hate that.

First, it was the Presidential power to start nuclear Armageddon. Then, it was the whole 'I can fire everyone investigating me until I find someone I like' thing. Now, apparently, he can just decide to ignore most of the limits on his already far reaching powers.

"G.O.P. Tries to Hold Down Defections Before Vote to Block Trump’s Emergency" The New York Times, 25 February 2019 https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/25/us/politics/national-emergency-republicans.html [Journal Entry 14 - 25 February 2019 at 16:55]

There is a vote going on Tuesday over a resolution to overturn Trump's declaration of a state of emergency. Dozens of former Republican lawmakers have written to urge the Republicans currently in power to support this resolution. So far, only one Republican has signed on.

I am unhappily reminded of Julius Caesar in this instance. The Roman Republic had a system similar to our national emergency. Normally Rome was a Republic, but during emergencies a dictator (the Latin word from which our own originates) could be elected. They would rule supreme for a short time, usually until the emergency was over, and then the normal system would be reinstated. Caesar was elected dictator over, and over again until he was finally dictator for life. Caesar was assassinated because of this, in an attempt to preserve their democracy, but the Republic fell to an Empire shortly afterwards.

In this case a state of emergency does not quite give Trump unlimited power, but he gets to choose to instate it himself. If this sort of resolution does not pass, I don't anticipate Trump ever ending this imaginary emergency. He will maintain a level of maximum personal power as long as he can, which might just be until his death.

The fact that this is being treated as a stupid political power game by the current Republicans is horrifying. This and the use of shutdowns, has really cemented the feeling in me that congress and the President sit on their hill playing games with legislation that can and does kill people. Reagan and his administration sat on their hands while thousands of people died from AIDs. Shutdowns force hundreds of people out into the cold. Republicans back a dangerous consolidation of power, and for what? A way to save face? A little more money in their corner? A bit of favor with the big cheese man? I honestly don't know.

"Why is Trump so much more popular with Republicans than past presidents?" The Washington Post, 24 July 2018 https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/politics/wp/2018/07/24/why-is-trump-so-much-more-popular-with-republicans-than-past-presidents/?utm_term=.2c06a15196dc [Journal Entry 15 – 25 February 2019 at 23:06]

A piece examining statistical polling evidence to try and work out why Trump is so much more popular with republicans than other past republican presidents. They conclude that Republicans have become much more ideologically homogeneous, and Trump appeals to that homogeny.

After this morning's article I decided to just look up "why do republicans like Trump?" And this seems to reasonably answer the question's analytical side. However, what I really wanted to know was what sorts of goals and ideologies is Trump actually supporting? He seems to have done a lot of disparate fearmongering, and allow businesses more freedom to exploit people for the amassment of wealth. That just doesn't feel like the whole story, there's got to be more to it than that.

I may have a vastly unfavorable view of conservative actions, but I'm still not quite ready to mentally rebrand the republican party as the Glory to Mammon Party. (Mammon being the Archdaemon in charge of greed.)

I understand a lot of Trumps appeal in a way. I have thought a fair amount about what I would do as president, and my first order of business would probably be to use the power of presidential pardon to make laws criminalizing sex work functionally useless. My second order of business would be to mandate that either, we bring every prisoner in Guantanamo Bay to a fair trial, or I summarily pardon them.

I would be the Anti-Trump in a way, same tactics, same disregard for laws, but radically liberal where he is conservative, anarcho-communist where he is nationalist-capitalist, and stylishly gothic where he is a potato sack with a spray tan.

I think both I and many current republican lawmakers feel that there is something worth throwing away rule of law for. I want to know what goals they are sacrificing it for.

Reflection 25 February 2019 at 17:50

I have some ideas about the modern rise of Populism. Electing a big, powerful man to protect us and get things done, is so much more appealing than electing a hundred, faceless, little men to protect us and get things done.

I know I'm not the only one who agrees with what I wrote about feeling like Congress plays games with our lives. It would be logical to think that if we don't really have a say anyways, why not give our say to someone we like, who can actually make a change. (Albeit this is still a terrible idea).

I think the separation of powers has indeed made policy harder to implement, but I don't think it has actually stopped the advent of "government by fad" as Jello Biafra put it.