Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All
Sunday, January 20, 2019
Two years ago, Trump was sworn in as president. Since then, we have faced an unending fight for justice. It’s hard not to feel tired, trust me I know. But don’t give up. Together, we will resist Trump’s dangerous agenda and make progress for our communities everywhere.— Barbara Lee (@BLeeForCongress) January 20, 2019
Saturday, January 19, 2019
As a mother and grandmother, I am sick to my stomach. This administration has violated the physical and mental well-being of children and traumatized families. To find out there were thousands more families separated? Horrific. https://t.co/UgIKqmmBi2— Barbara Lee (@BLeeForCongress) January 18, 2019
Friday, January 18, 2019
And yet... Okay, so Eric and I have been together for nearly twenty years now (our 18th anniversary is just a few weeks away), we've been through a lot together, Eric matters to me in a way nobody else or anything else does. I don't even make sense as a person apart from the story of Eric and I and our years together at this point... And, okay, yes, there was indeed something more than administrivially and pragmatically useful in the marriage license and ceremony as it actually happened... It's hardly something I can recommend as a universally useful or relevant experience, certainly, there are lots of ways of making a sexual, romantic, social, personal life that makes every kind of sense than getting married (not to mention many ways of being married), but just being there with my best friend and holding his hands and saying the words in front of a judge, having my friend (and teaching colleague) Carolyn there as our witness -- she took the great photo you see at the end of the post! -- all the wonderful clerks and volunteer judges who walked us through the forms and ceremonies with their beaming smiles and professionalism, even just the very idea of this public affirmation of the reality of our shared love and our shared lives as a force the community is built of and building of was unexpectedly powerful... Eric and I both got misty-eyed holding hands and promising we'd support one another, it was hard not to think of recent illnesses, and breakdowns, and political fears, and economic struggles, and how strong we are together now, and just feeling that being recognized in an institutional way was weird and odd and powerful and moving...
Again, there are lots of reasons to be suspicious of marriage as an institution. Its history is patriarchal, the intergenerational transmission of power over the world by men through their possession of the world as property via their possession of women as property. To this day, marriage is suffused with reprosexual, cisheteronormative, possessive, paranoid, reductive, sentimental norms and forms that have done far more harm than good, been far more falsifying than truth-enabling. Maybe queering the institution renders it less harmful, more capacious. I don't know. Be all that as it may, however, it turns out marrying Eric was not just a handy lifehack. It was a wonderfully validating recognition of what matters most to us in a world we didn't expect that to matter to, a world that is, in this respect at least, a better world than the one we were born in and grew up in. It was bolstering. It was lovely. It was a good day. I love Eric. I got married to him this week. I love Oakland, California. That's where we live together and where we are loved together. Take that, all y'all Trumpmerican bullybigot greedhead knownothing motherfuckers!
Let’s be very clear what happened last night: President Trump was so desperate to score political points that he willfully risked the safety of our brave service members, security personnel, and members of Congress.— Rep. Barbara Lee (@RepBarbaraLee) January 18, 2019
This is not normal. And it’s certainly not acceptable. https://t.co/COqyft99wl
Wednesday, January 16, 2019
Tuesday, January 15, 2019
This administration has repeatedly threatened women by trying to take away their access to reproductive health care. But not today! In a huge victory, employers will still be rightfully required to provide no-cost birth control. https://t.co/FneU3Uw2Qg— Barbara Lee (@BLeeForCongress) January 15, 2019
Monday, January 14, 2019
Marijuana has long been a driving force in our country for mass incarceration. As co-chair the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, I know that we can end our nation’s outdated and discriminatory marijuana laws and bring about true criminal justice reform.— Barbara Lee (@BLeeForCongress) January 14, 2019
Sunday, January 13, 2019
The #TrumpShutdown is upending lives across the country. Today, I met with furloughed constituents to hear their #ShutdownStories.— Rep. Barbara Lee (@RepBarbaraLee) January 13, 2019
Their message was clear—they can’t wait any longer. It’s time for the president and @SenateGOP to do what’s right and help us reopen the government. pic.twitter.com/DNi8xqMqUZ
The #TrumpShutdown is forcing people to:— Barbara Lee (@BLeeForCongress) January 13, 2019
→ Sell their cars to pay bills
→ Forgo grocery shopping
→ Plunge into credit card debt
→ Choose between life-saving medicine or dinner that night
Trump is hurting everyday Americans with this shutdown stunt. Let’s end this.
Saturday, January 12, 2019
Today marks the longest shutdown in our history. Yesterday, over 800,000 workers didn’t receive a paycheck, vital government programs are running out of money, and immigrant communities are suffering — all at the hands of President Trump. It’s past time to reopen the government.— Barbara Lee (@BLeeForCongress) January 12, 2019
The data is clear: a wall won’t stop immigrants from entering the United States. Trump’s latest vanity project is pure xenophobic discrimination demonizing immigrant communities. https://t.co/6P1F3zxPV5— Barbara Lee (@BLeeForCongress) January 12, 2019
Friday, January 11, 2019
Honored to be the first woman and African American co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus. I’m ready to:— Barbara Lee (@BLeeForCongress) January 10, 2019
✅ End discrimination + mass incarceration in the cannabis industry
✅ Support medical marijuana research
✅ Legalize marijuana
Now that the season of holiday baking competitions is over, we are watching the tattered remains of the format left to us, for now, "Kids Baking Championship" and a Giada de Laurentiis gargoyle called "Winner Cake All." Speaking of gargoyles, we are giving Mama Ru her due this All-Stars as well. We are not young enough to declare the show has jumped the shark, tho' we do give it the occasional stink eye in between continued gaggings as our favorite queens never seem to win anymore. I'm also enjoying the last season of the turgid melodrama "Versailles," which I found OnDemand and binged in a few gory days.
Finished the most recent season of "Call the Midwife" a couple of days ago, a show which despite (oh, go ahead, admit it, because of) its cloying and clumsy sentimentality was probably my favorite show for a couple of its seasons -- an account of the emergence of the NHS and welfare state in 50s Britain, an earnest repudiation of the easy cynicism of Obama technocrats, Bernie fauxvolutionaries, and the trolls across the white supremacist/cisheteronormative GOP-to-libertechian right. The last two seasons haven't worked as well for me, as the many talented and wonderful actresses of the sprawling ensemble all seem too busy to actually assemble and the show scatters into isolated stories instead punctuated by sudden deaths and other weird vanishing acts that make the whole show more disrupted than bolstering. I was quite stunned however when the show ended with the cast gathered before the tube as we hear the announcement on the BBC of Kennedy's assassination and the sisters switched off the television right as the delayed opening broadcast of the premier episode of Doctor Who (I do believe?) was about to suffuse Nonnatus House with the hum of the TARDIS in the stunningly weird and wonderful opening of "An Unearthly Child," a collision of televisual narrative designed as it were especially for me, at exactly the time I would most benefit from the collision...
Anyway, I've got just one week before spring courses resume. Next week I've got syllabi to prune and print, links to burnish, thesis drafts to read, lectures to pull out of mothballs and rework, and much more. The lovely long relaxation in front of the tube with a cat on my lap under a faux-fur comforter popping strawberries and nonpareils in my mouth is, alas, nearly over...
The House just took a step in the right direction and introduced legislation to require background checks for nearly all firearm purchases. I’ll never give up on this fight, it’s too important — too many people have died from unnecessary gun violence.— Barbara Lee (@BLeeForCongress) January 11, 2019
Thursday, January 10, 2019
“I’m a year out from being a breast cancer survivor — do I refill all of my medications, do I pay for the child care? Or do I buy food?”-- Angela Tucker, federal employee.— Rep. Barbara Lee (@RepBarbaraLee) January 9, 2019
Mr. President – stop playing games with people’s lives and work with us to end this #TrumpShutdown. https://t.co/hJXIhweoWg
Only 3 more days until this shutdown becomes the longest government shutdown in our nation’s history. It’s absolutely shameful that Trump and the GOP are willing to sacrifice workers, families, and our institutions for something so childish and immoral as a wasteful border wall.— Barbara Lee (@BLeeForCongress) January 10, 2019
Wednesday, January 09, 2019
Nothing about President Trump surprises me anymore. But it’s still important to call out his ugly tactics.— Rep. Barbara Lee (@RepBarbaraLee) January 9, 2019
That entire speech last night was designed to divide us and demonize families seeking asylum. It won’t work, but it does show us how hateful his policies are.
Tuesday, January 08, 2019
The observation has been made, quite a few times, that relative to the overall federal budget, the $5 billion Donald Trump wants for wall construction is a drop in the bucket... [A]nother way to look at it is to consider what $5 billion might pay for, and whether or not those things are more valuable than a wall. The National Priorities Project has put together such a list. Here are some other things the federal government could do with $5 billion:Also, it pays to remember, well, you know, that there is no national emergency; that this is a facile media stunt that everybody knows is a facile media stunt whether they are admitting this or not; that Trump is a grotesque liar; that he lies on his signature issue of immigration, especially, given the relentlessly demonstrated racism of his straight white evangelical greedhead bigot base; that there is no real "wall" that could "work" on the terms its "advocates" declare (this advocacy is a cynical trolling exercise in any case, like most things most Republicans have said they care about for over a generation by now) and no legitimate "work" a "wall" would do even if it could work, which it can't; that America needs more immigration if we are to sustain our public services and payments in a demographically graying population; that America is and has always been a nation of immigrants; that American diversity is one of the few things this nation could actually be proud of if we could get our goddamned act together; that an America truly welcoming refugees from catastrophe, tyranny, bigotry, violence, and exploitation around the world would be truly worth celebration; that immigrants cause none of the problems for which racist Republicans (and their many enablers outside the GOP) scapegoat them and are a source of life, beauty, delight, intelligence, production, resilience, and progress in this country to be supported, encouraged, and celebrated. But, you know.
Under the circumstances, none of those is likely to happen, particularly the last two. However, the next time someone says "It's only $5 billion," it's worth keeping this list in mind.
- Provide a year's worth of Medicaid for 1.4 million people
- Increase federal spending on renewable energy by 250%
- Increase the EPA's funding by 60%
- Put 90,000 people to work for one year repairing America's infrastructure
- Increase federal funding for K-12 public schools by 30%
- Fund the National Endowment for the Arts until 2051
- Double heating assistance for low-income households
- Double federal funding for substance abuse and mental health treatment
- Accept 11 times more refugees than in 2018
- Double funding for citizenship and immigration services
Declaring a national emergency in order to save face because you promised something ridiculous and now can't deliver it is the Veepiest slide towards authoritarianism I can imagine.— Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) January 8, 2019
For two years all conversations have sounded like this.
Na·tion·al Emer·gen·cy (n):— Barbara Lee (@BLeeForCongress) January 7, 2019
(1) a state of emergency resulting from a danger to a nation from foreign or domestic sources
A wasteful border wall doesn’t count. https://t.co/OzeB35PJY3
President Trump appears to be moving closer to declaring a national emergency to build the wall he craves on the southern border. Whether or not he does this, the idea that we face such an emergency is his central public case for the wall, and so his commitment to this notion is a key reason we’re embroiled in a government shutdown, with all the damage it is doing. But... it is overwhelmingly clear that the real national emergency that Trump and his allies have discerned is an emergency that threatens him... Trump’s wall is his central unfilled campaign promise, but it’s also a talisman for everything that Trumpism embodies and a chief source of his bond with his base, which he will need as his legal and political travails mount. But Trump’s public case for the wall has collapsed entirely, and much of the rest of the political system has rejected it, boxing him into a political corner with no escape. That’s the emergency. The formal declaration of a national emergency, allowing him a shot at building it unilaterally, might end up being the only way of bailing out the wall -- and with it, bailing out himself. We know all of this to be the case, because the basic facts are all out there confirming it, but it’s all so saturated in madness and bad faith that we grope for ways to convey it faithfully. The big story, which is everywhere for all to see, is that Trump and his advisers cannot justify the wall as Trump envisions it in any remotely credible way; that this is becoming harder to mask with lies; and that for Trump Nation, this really is an emergency.
Monday, January 07, 2019
Here’s the difference between Republicans and Democrats right now:— Rep. Barbara Lee (@RepBarbaraLee) January 4, 2019
-- @HouseDemocrats passed a bipartisan bill last night to re-open the gov’t
-- @SenateGOP refuses to hold a vote on this bipartisan compromise
All the while, working ppl pay the price for the #TrumpShutdown pic.twitter.com/7MbouhrSdA
Contract workers like custodians & cafeteria workers are some of the lowest paid people in the federal govt. Under the #TrumpShutdown, they won’t see a dime of back pay. It’s infuriating & utterly unfair that hardworking families are paying for Pres Trump’s incompetence. https://t.co/BQTQDMY25e— Rep. Barbara Lee (@RepBarbaraLee) January 4, 2019
Native communities are bearing the brunt of the #TrumpShutdown. Republicans’ refusal to compromise is jeopardizing basic health care, education and food assistance on tribal lands. This is a disgrace. https://t.co/aCSMUekXXm— Rep. Barbara Lee (@RepBarbaraLee) January 4, 2019
City Cup – across the street from my Oakland office – estimates its revenues are down 60% because of the #TrumpShutdown. Meanwhile, Trump is threatening that the shutdown could go on for “years.” This White House is playing games with people’s livelihoods. https://t.co/YgCdE2SJvl— Rep. Barbara Lee (@RepBarbaraLee) January 4, 2019
Ignore the punditry over a 1st-term House Dem's profanity or the latest backlash to @AOC & focus on what really matters: The new Dem House majority introduced a sweeping bill to protect voting rights, end congressional gerrymandering, & save democracy #HR1 https://t.co/zlZDGsEcfQ pic.twitter.com/HNiQOy9zFA— Stephen Wolf (@PoliticsWolf) January 7, 2019
Sunday, January 06, 2019
While I still teach histories and philosophies of "technology" and devote quite a lot of my pedagogy to critiquing the bigotry and fraud of reactionary tech-talk, design-talk, innovation-talk, cyborg rugged-individualization, and all that, it is also true that I haven't felt like sparring with stoopid transhumanoids and futurologists hereabouts for a few years. As I already testified last year, the lies of the futurists are exposed in mainstream media publications on an hourly basis these days now that "the singularity" turns out to have been little more than the stupid refeudalization of the postwar economy while we were distracted by the spectacle of Jeff Bezos re-inventing the Sears catalogue and google/facebook turning cyberspace, "Home of Mind," back into broadcast television. Also, too, there are Nazis and racists and evangelicals and patriarchal pricks online. You may have noticed this. Books like Pasquale's Black Box Society and Safiya Noble's Algorithms of Oppression are the sorts of serious scholarship called for by this moment, not the sorts of jeremiads of satirical demolition and conceptual engagement I liked to specialize in.
Maybe the EU's GDPR is indeed a starting point rather than an end-point after all... maybe regulations, rights protections, nationalizations/public options, platform monopoly breakups, perhaps in no small part through California code of regs strong-arming, can turn the generational reactionary tech-tide of the venture-capitalists and austerian technocrats and bigot code that has driven me to distraction for a quarter century. But I don't know that symptomatic readings of futurological follies in their techno-transcendalizing and counter-revolutionary screeds of the kind I used to revel in here are really as useful as they might have been in that earlier moment -- certainly that sort of thing feels less enjoyable to me these days. The ideology of individualism, articulated in the context of white supremacy and patriarchy, expressed in a culture suffused by the deceptive, hyperbolic, toxic norms and forms of PR and advertising discourse seems to me the Big Bad at the root of so much that I used to rail against. A fatal tendency to scientism and reductionism misrecognizing instrumental rationality as political rationality, technological capacitation as political freedom is also a part of that story. Perhaps there is more for me to say elaborating these connections...
Meanwhile, twitter finds its way to all the obvious snark about the idiotic awfulness and obvious lies and ugly bigotry of Trump Republicans within seconds: As I have already said many times these long last couple of ugly awful frightful years through, I have nothing smart to say about any of it, and further, there is nothing smart to say about any of it, nor do I think finding one more smart thing to say about any of it is much help to anyone anyway when everybody capable of seeing anything already always sees everything anyway. It's obvious what people have to do -- just vote for Democrats, the better they are the better, but vote for them all whoever they are until the Republicans are diverted from their current conspicuously authoritarian path.
The midterm elections confirmed that this is as well understood as it is likely going to be in this country. It remains to be seen if Trump responds with the ruinous authoritarian instincts we have come to expect from him, exhorting his Base to further violence in his rallies and tweets, seeking illegal remedies through firings and firesales, erratic declarations, states of emergency, whether the whole GOP will continue to enable him in this criminal nonsense, and whether the "Resistance" will remain in force with sufficient coherence and energy to respond to all this in the streets if it comes to that, even with the distractions of a divisive presidential race and lots of newly elected Democratic scapegoats to pillory via the usual fauxvolutionary vs. mushymiddle cabaret. You don't need to read critical theory like I do to grasp these dangers and dynamics. If anything, my kind of theory is as distracting as clarifying of the stakes of partisan struggles on the ground, honestly.
Now, last year when I posted my year-end summary I was suffering from a crippling couple of months of insomnia in which I was sleeping less than three hours most nights and beginning to think I wasn't going to survive that. The crisis eventually sent me into a few months of therapy early last year, and though I remain a fitful sleeper to this day I am no longer struggling as I once was with insomnia. Last year when I posted that New Year's report I had lost ninety pounds since my hospitalization the year before, and now this year I weigh fifteen pounds fewer still, and have maintained that weight without difficulty most of the year, sticking to my diet and yoga and exercise and long weekend walks with Eric. I'd go so far as to describe myself these days as fit, after a decade of... not. Last year at this time I was still reeling from the raw recent loss of our beloved cat Sarah -- and yet in a few month's we'll be celebrating the first year of Penny's life with us here. Watching our bold and brilliant little gray and orange-spotted kitten grow into a full cookie-jar bellied adult cat has been a delight all this year. Teaching in the City with the comparative security of a hard-won better-paying three-year union contract has been an improvement in so many ways as well. We paid off the last of my student loans this year. Having few assets feels way better with no debts, I must say.
Although 2018 was a terrible year, full of terrible and terrorizing events, kids in cages, endless mass shootings, Brexit and Trumpian chaos, authoritarianism globally ascendant, gross crowing bigots, accelerating Greenhouse Earth derangements, I am heartened by the results of the election, the radicalism of proposals coming from elected Democrats and the discursive traction they are managing to receive in the face of so much awfulness. The language of raising the social security cap, a federal jobs guarantee at a livable wage, a Green New Deal, post office banking as a financial public option, a new and improved voting rights act, renewed antitrust applied to platform monopolies as well as financial institutions, all ideas I have pitched as ideals in essays and classes for years and years are becoming a chorus at last, especially among the rising generations, and are suddenly getting wide and respectful hearings from high-profile elected politicians. Again, this is a terrifying time, climate catastrophe is upon us and the planetary 1% are quite prepared to go full fascist to re-install their feudalist fantasies. But they're outnumbered and we're out-organizing them for now, even as time's up and there are no guarantees. So, 2018 was a bit better politically and a lot better personally. I'll take it.
All that said, I did post to Amor Mundi more this year than last year, hundreds more posts in fact, and I'm hoping to amplify that re-engagement this year still more. Maybe I'll manage to do more than re-post Barbara Lee tweets on the news of the day amidst a sprinkling of Wildean quotations, though the first couple of years of Amor Mundi weren't so very different from that, come to think of it. I enjoyed writing more here when I was -- I'd like to find my way back to that enjoyment in the coming year. Let's see.
Saturday, January 05, 2019
President Trump needs to stop playing games with people’s livelihoods and end this shameful shutdown. Unlike our billionaire president, most Americans can’t afford to go weeks on end without a paycheck — nor should they have to. pic.twitter.com/b9mvw735sk— Rep. Barbara Lee (@RepBarbaraLee) January 5, 2019
Friday, January 04, 2019
Thursday, January 03, 2019
Wednesday, January 02, 2019
Tomorrow a new era begins. With a new majority in the House, we can finally get to work for the people, not corporations or wealthy donors. Our first order of business? End the #TrumpShutdown.— Barbara Lee (@BLeeForCongress) January 2, 2019
Tuesday, January 01, 2019
You'll never want to smoke cigarettes again. pic.twitter.com/xmlFtGCj3K— Kevin W (@kwilli1046) January 1, 2019