A return is almost always out of the question. Plus, gift givers don’t often include a return receipt, and we all know we wouldn’t dare ask for one. I’d rather admit to a crime than confess I don’t like a gift - how insulting to the gifter’s sense of aesthetics.
And-hey, I have limited drawer space. Who can keep these unwanted gifts for six months when there isn’t any space for them? I hate clutter, and unwanted gifts are just that.
This year, I am making an effort to swiftly remove any unwanted gifts from my house without hurting anyone’s feelings…and potentially benefiting others. As the old saying goes, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. And thank goodness for that.
From the The Guardian:
“According to research published this week by the consumer body, one in four people (24%) received an unwanted or unsuitable gift for the Christmas of 2021. Meanwhile, a separate study by the personal finance comparison site Finder said £1.2bn was wasted on unwanted Christmas gifts each year.”
Come to terms with the fact that you will never use that gift and follow these quick tips to offload those unwanted gifts:
Sarah Brown via Unsplash
The most obvious choice for those unwanted pairs of mud-green sweat socks and that same fluffy robe you get every year from your Aunt Judy is to donate them. Just round up everything you don’t want and Google the donation center closest to you.
This is also a fantastic excuse to purge your closet of that pile of stuff you’ve been meaning to get rid of. A few bags of give-away-clothes will get your spring cleaning out of the way early.
Artificial Photography via Unsplash
Resale websites are all the rage right now. If you got a pair of pants that don’t fit or a sweater that isn’t your style, resell them on a website dedicated to just that. Sites like Poshmark, Mercari, and DePop are known for selling those trendy pieces of clothing you barely used.
Thrifting has never been hotter. Hop on the trend while people are constantly perusing sites for the hottest deal. Then reward yourself for being so virtuous, by dropping the cash on some fabulous things you’ll actually wear!
Jackie S via Unsplash
If you got something that you think one of your friends or family can benefit from, why not give it to them? There’s no shame in revealing that it was a gift and you don’t want it anymore…as long as you aren’t re-gifting to the person who gave it to you!
Or, keep the gifts to re-gift at a later date. You never know when you’re going to need a last minute gift. You’ll thank yourself later.
Attempt a Return
Erik McLean via Unsplash
If your item still has a tag, you can make a valiant effort to return to the store. If you can make your case, many stores won’t want to fight you on it. They may be forgiving and grant you store credit at the very least.
How About a Dose of Reality?
Cancel culture and feigned outrage need to face the facts...
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How about this comment from my mom's friend sitting next to me, a half-Jewish woman who I worried about offending by clicking "play" on Netflix on the now-infamous Chappelle special?
"I don't understand what the controversy is about..."
Well, yeah - that was the best outcome I could've hoped for when I pressured two aging hippies, activists who pushed for the Gloria Steinem / Helen Ready phase of feminism. But they also participated in the stuff that led MLK and Rosa Parks to fight hard for their place at the front of the bus. Full disclosure - one is my mother. The other is a woman I'll just call Bob (challenge parenthetical: use Hitchhiker's Guide to grok the Bob reference) so that nobody cancels this blue-haired beauty. Bob danced with Mama Cass and performed with the Rockettes. She is half-Jewish.
Archie Bunker is top of my mind as I write these words, and I know that Norman Lear knew what he was doing with that comedy. But he's a Space Jew (jk… duh).
What did Bob say to me when Chappelle's confessional comedy canon-fire finished with a punchline about sucking dick?
"I don't understand what the controversy is about..." -- Bob
Who'll be the hero of the inevitable swing of the pendulum towards some kind of true north -- fucking David Chappelle. I won't use that N-word here, because I'm not allowed. I don't want to be aborted before the fetus becomes human, and I'm not brown like Chappelle. Actually, I will use it - he's a Bad-ass N - as in Nostradamus. A hard one who tells the truth. And we can all learn from his truth.
All this is to say - Chappelle is a good lad, for real. He's not just a comedic genius. He's a man who fought against all odds, a scrapper (like my mom and her friend) looking to break the chain of privileged control of wealth and do his mfg thing. He knows his people and his history - and not just the black part of it all. And he is funny as fuck.
Here's the thing about it: I personally believe that America is *UN - FUCKING - AMERICAN*right now, and Chappelle fired a giant warning flare into the sky, an S.O.S. We need to talk, laugh, discuss things. We should not look for "gotcha" moments and reasons for hating one another.
We don't all need to be homogenous robots praying at the altar of some sort of C culture of silliness. Why work if you can whine? Nah. People want to work. We need to be human. Humans are tribal and we will have bias. And then there's this -- stereotypes contain both truth and danger. Not forever-truth but truth that comes from history, from epigenetic behavior that crosses culture and art and charisma and bloodlines stretching back to Africa. That's why I want to say this: Chappelle is our Nostradamus. If we look back years from now and identify a cultural inflection point, we will need a person in charge of that moment. That's kind of the way we catalog history.
Excerpt from new Rasmussen poll rasmussenreports.com
If you can't beat them, join 'em. Check out this newly published poll. These polls are super corrupt, I know. Just do the math. I mean - who wants jury duty or has time for this b.s.? Well-and-so, Facebook including Instagram - might be the altar to pray at for popular opinion. But… err… why is everyone on Facebook talking about what they had for breakfast and trolling for self-confidence from busted-up spaghetti code companies run by self-loathing geeks? I mean, who died and made Zuckerberg the foremost expert on how to be social? Sheesh - he comes across as the kind of dude who not only got shoved in the locker at high school but actually deserved it.
On a serious (not 'suck my dick'... tsk-tsk) note, I will also say this about Mr. Chappelle: he's worthy of comparison to the great comics who came before - everyone from Groucho to Gleeson to Lenny Bruce, Pryor, Robin Williams, Eddie Murphy, Rock, Tina Fey, and we cannot forget Carlin. But here's the thing that might be more important - he really feels. He's not out to judge, but to connect with everyone from trans people to the waiter at the fancy places he frequents. He's an empath - and not in some kind of bullshit X-Files way.
He's someone who keeps score according to a personal moral code that he cannot ignore and which informs his craft. That makes him a full-blown creator of literature and art who will be remembered for a long time to come. He's a storyteller and social commentator on par with some of the world's greatest - Oscar Wilde, James Baldwin, Dick Gregory, Lou Reed, Michael Lewis, Malcolm Gladwell, David Sedaris, Jay-Z, Regina King, Kendrick Lamar - writers and thinkers.
His (he / him / his) comedy is part of the new literature we need to consume because by doing so, we learn.
Thanks, Chappelle, for the S.O.S. We've got to save this fucking ship.
Dave Chappelle Photo by By Gemunu Amarasinghe (AP/Shutterstock)
Some songs as a p.s. [warning: internet connection and decent speakers required]:
True to Myself - Ziggy Marley
What a Wonderful World - Louis Armstrong
Thousands are Sailing - The Pogues
Same Love - Macklemore
Street Fighting Man - Rolling Stones
Daydream Believer - The Monkees
Why Are You On Facebook - Van Morrison
Dirty Boulevard - Lou Reed
Girls - Beastie Boys
Je T'aime, Serge Gainsbourg/Charlotte Gainsbourg
Democracy - Lumineers
Rain Street - Pogues
Angel of Harlem - U2
Black Boys on Mopeds - Sinead O'Connor
Lonely Teardrops - Jackie Wilson
River - Leon Bridges
The POTUS Is Fictional: Best US Presidents in Film
Here's the best conspiracy theory you'll hear all day (among the many coming out of the White House): None of this is happening.
Everything since the 2016 presidential election is just b-roll for a parody movie about the American presidency. Our actual president is dancing with Annette Bening at state dinner. Our president is balancing the federal budget with common sense. Our American president is kicking ass on Air Force One.
Like most people these days, I rely on movies to feel anything close to a real emotion. When it comes to political fervor, most of my passion for democracy comes from watching movies about fictional presidents, preferably with excellent cinematography and unrealistically attractive actors who recite Aaron Sorkin lines in bold pant suits during dramatic "walk-and-talk" tracking shots. Who hasn't closed their eyes and pretended The West Wing's Martin Sheen was running America with his soft, uncular gaze?
But rather than analyze what that says about my and most Americans' civic values (or the fact that 96.5 percent of us don't give a f**k about democracy, according to a recent Yale study), I'm going to keep searching for the next great American president in my Netflix queue.
These are the best fictional American presidents (and their finest moments).
We Can't Have Joe Biden's "Unity" Without Accountability
Biden, Obama, Bush, and Clinton were the four horsemen of the 2021 Inauguration.
Well, Trump is out.
Joe Biden's Inauguration into Presidential office unfolded in a spectacle of patriotism with a slight undercurrent of fear following the white supremacist insurrection at the Capitol in early January.
Though the physical event was small — due to the enhanced security measures enacted in fear of violence or resistance against the transition of power, and the persisting pandemic — and more than 191,500 flags stood in place of the people that usually crowd the surrounding area, the event was filled with prominent guests and high profile performances, both in person and virtual.
The virtual portion of the day was a mixture of performances, speeches, and video compilations 'hosted' by Tom Hanks.
Just as the Simpsons predictedvia FOX
As part of the proceedings, former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton appeared in a video giving a joint speech, which had the vibe of a group project where you didn't get to choose your partners and you got stuck with some kids you neither knew or liked.
The three most recently joined forces to volunteer to take the COVID-19 vaccine when it was first approved, and like an aged boyband, they came back for one night only, streamed live across America.
In their video, the three ex-presidents congratulated President Joe Biden and stressed the importance of peaceful transitions of power, ostensibly trying to lead by example in a show of bipartisan unity while making a point about the noticeably absent President Trump (who was on his way to Mar-a-Lago with his crying conspirators/children).
The message of the former presidents came alongside Biden urging for "unity" in his Inaugural address.
But what does this mean?
From the beginning of his Inauguration speech, Biden declared his presidency one of "history and hope. Of renewal and resolve." Referring to the historic nature of his cabinet and Kamala Harris's historic position as Vice President, Biden's self-congratulatory remarks also stir up questions.
The intentionally indefinite rhetoric asks: "hope" of what, and for whom? "Renewal" of what? Leaving an era defined by the slogan "Make America Great Again," it feels dangerous to tie a Presidency to the idea of some vague longing.
The politics of nostalgia allow the romanticization of a past which has always had as many problems as the present, if not more. Biden's emphasis on having a Presidency inspired by his predecessors refers to the presidency of Obama, but also to the other two horsemen of the inauguration apocalypse and the Founding Fathers … who we all know were flawed at best.
The desire to appeal to the American mythos reduces the oppression inculcated into US democracy to a footnote in the story — despite the fact that those institutions of inequality are prominent today.
Biden proclaimed that "the American story depends not on any one of us, not on some of us, but on all of us. On 'We the People' who seek a more perfect Union. This is a great nation and we are a good people."
… is that true?
While I would like to believe it, and perhaps there is room for more optimism and benefit of the doubt in an inaugural address than I'm accustomed to in life, moralizing the United States as a good nation filled with good people perpetuates the myth of American exceptionalism and allows for complacency.
We could be good people in a great nation, but the overpowering institutions of oppression and violence that we are socialized into make it easier to not be.
Biden did acknowledge that there is work still to be done, but it is dangerous to position the work of progress as a choice, rather than an imperative.
We did it, Joevia CNBC
Biden's Path to Progress:
Biden's path to progress is simple: unity.
In one of the most pivotal passages of his speech, he said: "Speaking of unity can sound to some like a foolish fantasy. I know the forces that divide us are deep and they are real. But I also know they are not new. Our history has been a constant struggle between the American ideal that we are all created equal and the harsh, ugly reality that racism, nativism, fear and demonization have long torn us apart. The battle is perennial. Victory is never assured."
In this moment, Biden acknowledged the history of oppression in the United States and the deep-rooted divisions in its present. However, the proverbial good vs. evil dichotomy that he uses is a convenient scapegoat. It is easy to say that there are two sides of people, torn apart by outside forces, that just need to meet each other in the middle. But this is not how division in America has played out.
Progress in America cannot be a meeting in the middle of two forces with equal power, because that's not what the political and social landscapes look like. The forces of "racism, nativism, fear and demonization" have not "torn us apart" — those forces have separated and othered marginalized communities and excluded them from the American ideal.
Therefore, it is not the collective acceptance of the idea of "unity" that will heal the country, it is a commitment by the privileged to root out the divisive forces within themselves.
Unity and healing must happen as a result of progress, not at the expense of it. Biden's rhetoric leaves too much room for regression. But we must not pause to soothe the egos of white supremacists — their goals are not our goals. Biden's path to unity needs to look like accountability, not acquiescence.
In a recent tweet, activist Bree Newsome stated that "The only path toward 'unity' is one that dismantles white supremacy." Anything else would be a continuation of the same structures that "resulted in the Civil War, Jim Crow, the Trump era & the insurrection that occurred two weeks ago. "
There is no way forward without confronting whiteness— how it came to be a sociopolitical construct here, how it re… https://t.co/CAULWCruwH— Bree Newsome Bass (@Bree Newsome Bass) 1611189052
Many are feeling the gaps in Biden's rhetoric that could allow for placid and ultimately unsatisfying "progress" and citing the urgent importance of moving forward, rather than back to some fabled better days of a pre-Trump era.
...but what if he said "I cannot be a president for all. I will not serve white supremacy. I will not serve hatred.… https://t.co/1H0JTIPZqV— adriennemareebrown (@adriennemareebrown) 1611163169
The pre-Trump era created conditions for the Trump era. The current violence is not some aberration or some strange glitch in the matrix. It is a direct consequence of previous failures to root out the insidiousness of whiteness at the root of the United States.
The Problem With Moderation:
The shifting nature of Biden's address — his willingness to talk about the fact of American institutionalized oppression and speak out against white supremacy, but inability to articulate the deep internal work that we all have to do for progress — does not present a progressive pillar to build the next four years on.
It builds one that reflects his whole career: willing to inch towards "slow progress," but more concerned with moderation than radical change.
But moderation is not the way to establish real change. Moderation allows for complacency and, as Newsome articulated, "the 'return to normalcy' narrative is a call to settle for surface-level displays of civility diversity in the aftermath of Trump's brutish behavior without any real push for systemic change."
Even in the highest offices of the two-party government lie dangerous white supremacists who incited the riots alongside Trump and remain loyal to the MAGA following — so if bipartisanship looks like coalescing into an agreeable union that includes and validates those beliefs, I don't want it.
Instead, change has to look like examining the conditions within ourselves and our society which gave those people their platforms and amend those with an eye towards accountability.
The idea of "accountability" has been thrown around so much this election that it has become diluted. Accountability has to be active. It has to not just acknowledge the past, but use those acknowledgments to work diligently towards a new future.
While it's hard to predict how much Biden's speech was well-crafted rhetoric and how much was commitment to action, the prominent performativity of the ex-President's club does not bode well for radical change.
Rather, it signals a clinging onto old ideas of respectability and camaraderie between the powerful and a persistence of the same structures that allowed for the past violence to carry themselves into the future. It confirms that Trump's most egregious act was disrupting the illusion American exceptionalism, which has been long held up by mythology and militarism.
But that disruption was necessary. And it is with those new eyes that we are more critical of Bush, Clinton, Obama, and the entire systems that elected them We have to be.
Mike Pompeo's Multiculturalism Tweet Sums Up the Trump Era
The future looks pretty grim.
It seems fitting that the Trump administration would go out with a bang. It also seems fitting that the bang would be unbridled white supremacy and blatant racism.
After the white supremacist insurrection at the Capitol, tensions have been high in anticipation of the January 20th Inauguration, with the whole country waiting on edge to see what how the transfer of power will go.
For a while, it looked like they'd have to drag Donald Trump out of the White House by his platinum wig. For a moment, it looked like there would be a coup. But the reality is much less dramatic but more insidious. Trump loyalists, it seems, are spending their last days seeping as much vitriolic rhetoric into the country (and presumably the White House floors judging by the news of a pre-Biden deep clean) as they possibly can.
Outgoing Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, took to Twitter on his last full day in office to say, "Woke-ism, multiculturalism, all the -isms — they're not who America is. They distort our glorious founding and what this country is all about. Our enemies stoke these divisions because they know they make us weaker."
Woke-ism, multiculturalism, all the -isms — they're not who America is. They distort our glorious founding and what… https://t.co/aKWpDCy5iT— Secretary Pompeo (@Secretary Pompeo) 1611066600
The image attached to the tweet reads: "Censorship, wokeness, political correctness, it all points in one direction — authoritarianism, cloaked as moral righteousness."
There's so much to unpack here.
The basic logic of his argument is hard to parse. From the tweet it seems that he believes that multiculturalism is a divisive tool used by "our enemies" to "distort our glorious founding" — though who he refers to and what our founding entails he does not specify.
The ensuing logic, however, makes claims that denounce authoritarianism and moral righteousness. In Pompeo's mind, multiculturalism somehow does not align with the individualism he thinks will save us from authoritarianism.
To pick apart the nonsense of his argument would be redundant, so it is instead easier to call it what it is: racist.
The tenuous thread of his logic rests on the shoulders of white supremacy. The narrative is familiar but no less frightening. Pompeo tells a short story of how our country was, and could be, so great if not for the threat of the encroaching "other" contaminating the nation's proverbial purity.
The ensuing language may be vague, but the purist sentiments of his rhetoric are clear. His focus on "multiculturalism" is a signpost that signals his issue is not just with the left, but with BIPOC communities.
Beneath his cacophony of buzzwords, the dangerous, fascist sentiments of the past four years are all encapsulated into a reminder that the Trump administration and the people who perpetrated the harm and violence of it does not stop with Trump.
In truth, the barely concealed violence of Pompeo's rhetoric is engrained so deeply into the fabric of the United States that he might be right: Despite its insistence to the contrary, the US has purported to be a multicultural nation but has always been ruled by white supremacy.
Though this country claims to be about diversity and inclusion, so much of its history points to the opposite. But this is not the argument Pompeo is making.
There are valid claims about how, occasionally throughout US history, multiculturalism and the famous "melting pot" end up diluting people's cultures into a vague shadow of what they used to be. Pompeo, as a descendant of Italian immigrants, is a direct result of the dilution of Italian culture for the mantle of whiteness that he is so secure inside.
However, Pompeo is not calling for a more nuanced understanding of race, culture, and ethnicity.
He's calling for the same thing Donald Trump called for that brought on the Capitol siege, the same thing that has allowed racism, xenophobia, and white supremacy to persist as ruling bodies of this country — a scapegoat.
His vague language is intentional. It invites dissatisfied, disaffeced white people to substitute their ideals and their issues for the distortions and divisions he mentions, while uniting them against "multiculturalism."
While similar rhetoric has been spouted by this administration in various forms, its usual targets are the general left, or progressives and democrats. The focus on "multiculturalism" bypasses the white liberals he could be appealing to for unity against the "divisions" in our country.
The invocation of "woke-ism," a convenient neologism he makes up to orchestrate this tweet, fabricates another giant to distract from the actual "isms" most people would turn to … like, racism.
In fact, just deleting the first two words of the tweet makes a different argument altogether. Yes, I do agree that "all the -isms" distort the ideal vision of the country, but we have different "isms" and different ideals.
What's most frightening about this sentiment is that Mike Pompeo reportedly has ambitions to run for President in 2024. His key to winning: taking over the MAGA mantle.
Pompeo's sentiments coupled with his ambitions serve as a reminder that Trump's legacy is not going away with a Biden Presidency.
Despite Biden's calls for "unity," Trump loyalists do not want unity between all Americans. They want the vitriolic energy that put them in power to persist so that they can stay in power.
I implore Biden then, to pull back his hands, to waste less time appealing to white supremacists and more time reaching towards the communities who (somewhat reluctantly for most) ensured his win.
So far, Biden has elected a historically diverse cabinet, one which seems to exemplify multiculturalism at its best. But to make it its best, it's important that we do not take multiculturalism to mean tokenization, but rather the active process of representation, celebration, and learning that it should be.
We’ve Already Reached Peak White Feminism in 2021
Lukewarm activism by white women, what's new?
This summer she was met with severe backlash to an Instagram rant in which she claimed she, a white woman, had been unfairly criticized in the music industry for how she claimed her femininity. In one of the most cognitively dissonant statements of the year, Lana claimed that "there has to be a place in feminism for women who look and act like me."
Because almost all the women she was comparing herself to in the rant — whose record breaking places on the charts served as the impetus for her misguided manifesto — were Black women, it seemed like "women who look like" Lana meant white women. Yikes.
However, Lana was quick to come to her own defense. Instead of issuing any semblance of apology or recognizing the nuance in the criticism her letter received, she took to the comment section to dismiss any criticism that came her way.
After that, she made another post (that kind of made it worse) announcing her upcoming album and then kind of disappeared. Until now.
When announcing the release of her first single from her new album, Chemtrails over the Country Club, Lana did not take the opportunity to clear the air — but we didn't expect that. She didn't even take the opportunity to shut up, pivot, and never speak of her typewriter series again (they're still up on Instagram, albeit buried under months worth of pictures by now, though if I were her publicist I would have wrestled the phone from her hands to delete it by now).
Instead, she took the time to parade her "diverse" and "inclusive" friend group on her cover and write another nonsensical caption that pretty much amounts to: see? I'm not racist, I have Black friends.
"Yes there are people of color on this records picture and that's all I'll say about that," Lana says near the beginning of the comment, but, unfortunately, continues to say more. "I have always been extremely inclusive without even trying to. My best friends are rappers, my boyfriends have been rappers."
Lana's tokenization of the people of color in her life is … uncomfortable, at best. Beyond tastelessly parading her friend's life histories in front of the internet for the sake of her reputation, by mentioning "rappers," she equates Blackness with a genre of music and also engages in the fetishistic notion that romantic desire is proximal to inclusion.
And if you think it couldn't get worse, the caption continued. In reference to the comments she had received on her initial post, Lana thought to respond preemptively, saying, "Before you make comments again about a WOC/POC issue, I'm not the one storming the capital [sic]."
The invocation of the attempted coup in comparison to her own racism is a blatant attempt to decenter the conversation and dismiss the voices of those she claims to be so inclusive of.
Lana's convoluted caption is an example of the flimsy arguments white women dredge up to affirm their own innocence when criticized. Unfortunately, we've already seen so much of this in 2021, especially in response to the display of domestic terrorism at the Capitol (which was partly sponsored by a group named Women For America First).
Unsurprisingly, much of the peak white feminism that occurred in the aftermath of the Capitol riots came from self-proclaimed allies. It seems that a key proponent of white feminism is the desire to help … but only if it doesn't require any actual evaluation of the self or the systems that perpetuate oppression.
Karlie Kloss recently (read: finally) came under criticism for her hypocritical comments about the riots and the current administration over all.
Though often we conveniently forget, Karlie Kloss is married to Josh Kushner. Yes, of that Kushner family. Her in-laws are Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, who sit at the proverbial right hand of the President.
Yet, despite these very close ties to the current administration, Karlie has managed to remain largely unscathed in the public eye. But this is not a romantic comedy where a likable blonde woman has to navigate her husband's crazy family — this is not The Family Stone. This is real life. And the actions of her in-laws have consequences that she, due to her wealth, race, and proximity, is mostly exempt from actually feeling.
Yet, Karlie Kloss has built her whole brand around activism. So how does this work?
From founding an organization to teach girls STEM, being a vocal #girlboss and #feminist, and yes, posting that black tile on Instagram, Karlie makes sure to remind us that she quit being a Victoria's Secret angel to go to NYU because she's just so, like, passionate about women's empowerment.
But despite all this, the furthest she has gone to speak out against the current administration have been bland social media posts and hashtags. When she made a more direct statement after the Capitol riots, many were quick to point out her hypocrisy.
After being called out for tweeting, "Accepting the results of a legitimate democratic election is patriotic. Refusing to do so and inciting violence is anti-American," and promptly being told, "Tell your sister in law and brother law," Karlie responded with a self satisfied: "I've tried."
But her response did not satisfy anyone else.
karlie kloss has TRIED talking to her in-laws and she will NEVER GIVE UP. that’s why she & josh bought a $23.5 mill… https://t.co/4VRayLgTi6— #3 sisterwife but #1 in his heart (@#3 sisterwife but #1 in his heart) 1609991219
@karliekloss @overdressjen Guess ya didn’t try hard enough bb https://t.co/PNplCPKW7y— ✨ (@✨) 1610143645
Page Six reported that Ivanka Trump was "surprised" by Karlie's claims, going so far as to say that Karlie is political in public, but not so much in private, and one tweet said that Kloss was choosing to "enjoy the privilege that comes from being close to them and feign moral superiority while not even acknowledging the privilege."
People were also quick to point out that Kloss is not just willing to tolerate her in-laws, but has purchased a multi-million dollar home in Florida to live just blocks away from where they, and the current President, will be relocating after the inauguration (and impeachment?).
One of the more prominent people to call out Karlie for her purported attempts was Tavi Gevinson, founder of Rookie Magazine and actress soon to be starring in the Gossip Girl reboot (which I will now be watching).
In an Instagram story, Tavi called out Karlie for having "no real interest in using [her] political power so much as maintaining [her] watery 'feminist' liberal brand while protecting [her] liberal brand." She identified Kloss's actions as more than just the bad decisions of an individual, inconsequential celebrity but part of a culture that minimizes the harm of the current administration and the latent oppressive structures that it reveals.
By her relative silence against the Trump family and administration, Gevinson said Kloss has "help[ed] legitimize their bigotry by branding [them] as simply having different 'political views," dubbing Kloss a "Resistance Barbie" archetype.
In her takedown, Gevinson went deeper than Kloss's shallow white feminism into a critique of not just Kloss herself, but the systems which she helps perpetuate. "Thank you for showing that you can vote blue and still be a white supremacist sympathizer," Gevinson finished.
Tavi, who at the beginning of her career had her own share of criticism about earlier iterations of Rookie's white feminism, used those valid criticisms to transform her platform into a diverse resource for learning, growing, and accountability.
Kloss, despite the direct confrontations about her hypocrisy, has remained silent — both on the internet, and probably to her in-laws, except maybe to plan the interiors of their Mar-a-Lago homes.
The self aggrandizing brand of white feminism has only increased in cultural capital this year as white women applaud themselves for being allies, while doing very little except calling themselves allies. While BIPOC Americans risk being alienated or gaslighted by declaring their politics, white women get to benefit by using them as a virtue signal, a personality trait, or a brand.
Twitter had enough of this when Demi Lovato tweeted that her response to the Capitol riots was … to write a song.
THIS IS WHY I POST AS MUCH AS I DO. THIS IS WHY I CARE. THIS CANNOT HAPPEN ANY FUCKING MORE. I’m angry, embarrassed… https://t.co/WWAtVwVo83— Demi Lovato (@Demi Lovato) 1609989247
While well-intentioned, there are more nuanced ways for musicians to go about political music and Demi's last effort, "Commander in Chief," proved maybe that's not her genre.
With lyrics like "If I did the things you do I couldn't sleep," the song wasn't just bad — filled with easy rhymes and surface level lyricism — but it felt more like an indulgence of the ego rather than an attempt to make a change. Demi was reassuring us, herself, and other lukewarm allies that feeling bad about injustice is enough.
Unfortunately, it's not.
In her recent tweet, she magnanimously inflated the effects of her social media activism, saying, "THIS IS WHY I POST AS MUCH AS I DO..." While Demi has famously used her platform to advocate for social causes, the immediate pivot to saying: "I'm in the studio working on something special after today's assault on democracy," centers her own status as an artist and activist over the larger issues of violence.
White feminism is most guilty of this: diluting down political movements to their personal impacts rather than societal effects. By centering not just white women, but the individual white woman, white feminism ignores the nuances of oppression and the context in which it happens.
Even while claiming to be "woke" or socially conscious, the need to center themselves often derails well-meaning white women into perpetuating the acts of oppression they claim to be against. This compulsion in itself is a symptom of a system which values and protects the innocence and feelings of white women, while using that protective mantle as a form of oppression.
Yet, white women benefit from that innocence in their daily lives — from Lana's misguided conception of herself as a victim of bad feminism while enacting it, or even the "daddy-hat girl/SoHo Karen" calling herself an "innocent child" after assaulting … an innocent Black child.
It's only been two weeks of 2021, and I'm already tired of it. But I'm sure there will be more to come. But until white women address the ways they benefit from the systems they purport to be allies against, I see no end in sight.
Black Voters Won Georgia. Now It’s Time for Democrats to Listen
For too long we've been told that "Black" politics would scare away moderates
First thing's first: I need white people to stop treating Stacey Abrams like their savior.
Deification, a form of dehumanization, strips a person of their humanity and turns them into a symbol. By overhyping Stacey Abrams, white people assert their goodness on the back of a Black woman, trying to be woke by association.
While Abrams deserves much praise, we cannot continue to place superhuman expectations upon her. We also cannot act like she was solely responsible for discovering a secret to turning Georgia blue. The reality is that Stacey Abrams worked tirelessly alongside other dedicated organizers to address the voter suppression Black people have been fighting in Georgia for decades.
So why haven't democratic politicians done this before? Obama did, campaigning at a grass roots level and counting on disenfranchised voters. But he was Obama, people might say, of course Black people will vote for him. The "Black vote" in political discourse is treated as an ineffable mystery and often discarded as impossible to count on. Black people just don't vote, politicians say, then focus their attention elsewhere.
So when the Black vote (alongside other BIPOC demographics such as the historic voter turnout of Indigenous populations in Arizona) undoubtedly delivered the 2020 election to the Democrats, then did the same for the House in the Georgia run-offs, everyone was talking about Stacey Abrams in a way a little too reminiscent of how the dad talked in Get Out.
But the election results revealed that Black voters are in fact the key to the Democratic Party's success. When is the Party going to start acting like it?
All through the election year, Democrats were convinced that playing it safe was the key to defeating Trump.
By electing Biden as the nominee instead of more "radical" Democratic candidates like Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, the DNC were adamant that the game plan was to appeal to white moderates — which meant not scaring them away.
So while Biden picked Harris, a biracial Black and Indian woman, as his Vice President, their campaign strategy was to hover around the center and appeal to white voters who somehow just weren't sure who to vote for yet.
Meanwhile, the country was going through a period of major racial protest. Black Lives Matter protesters spent the summer appealing for an end to police brutality, for legislative protection, for defunding the police and reexamining the carceral system in light of its racist roots.
And though there were some tweets and statements from major Democratic politicians in response to the murder of George Floyd, as well as that super embarrassing thing with the Kinte cloths, the sentiment remained that actually addressing the demands of protestors would be too risky and scare away the nice white voters.
Well, the nice white voters went for Trump.
Exit polls showed that 58% of white voters voted for Trump — an increase from the 2016 election. And while Trump made percentage gains with Black men, Black people overwhelmingly voted for Biden. And in key cities in key states, Black voters having the agency to vote in the presidential election and in the Georgia Senate races was instrumental in the Democratic wins.
The numbers speak for themselves. In his election speech, Biden even thanked Black voters for being instrumental to his victory. But Biden's main message was one of healing — not for marginalized groups who suffered most under the Trump presidency, but for … "the soul of America"?
Biden's speech seemed to focus on restoring party communication, going back to his comfortable place in the center and telling us (while invoking Langston Hughes in his references to "dreams deferred") to join him.
For many Black voters, moving to the center looks like regression. Again, the Democratic rhetoric was one that appealed to white moderates, to appease their concerns and placate their nerves after a year of proverbially "difficult" conversations and "reckoning."
But for Black Americans, the most difficult thing is being constantly gaslit — being told by a party which claims to care about us that fighting for our concerns (read: our lives) is too much, too difficult, too frightening.
In response to the calls to defund the police, many major Democrats were quick to dismiss the movement. Biden himself said that he did not want to defund the police. "I support conditioning federal aid to police based on whether or not they meet certain basic standards of decency and honorableness," he said instead, again appealing to vague notions of morality rather than actionable policy.
Even Black politicians took up this rhetoric. South Carolina Representative and major Civil Rights activist James Clyburn said that "nobody is going to defund the police," and that "police have a role to play." His plea was against "sloganeering," claiming that pleas like "Defund the Police'' would undermine the movement and lose the election.
Barack Obama said something similar (thanks, Obama): "If you believe, as I do, that we should be able to reform the criminal justice system so that it's not biased and treats everybody fairly, I guess you can use a snappy slogan, like Defund the Police, but, you know, you lost a big audience the minute you say it."
These sentiments are the work of years of conditioning that expects Black people to acquiesce to white audiences, to settle for banal "reform" and "slow, steady change" instead of radical action. They are examples of respectability politics and tone policing that reinforce the idea that Black folks are a liability, harming our own progress by scaring away potential allies.
But we're tired of it.
In the wake of the dismissal of BLM slogans, many major progressives also spoke out. Representative Ilhan Omar responded to Obama's comment in a tweet, saying: "We lose people in the hands of police. It's not a slogan but a policy demand. And centering the demand for equitable investments and budgets for communities across the country gets us progress and safety."
We lose people in the hands of police. It’s not a slogan but a policy demand. And centering the demand for equitabl… https://t.co/fh8ftnTR7t— Ilhan Omar (@Ilhan Omar) 1606872699
Her response points out the danger in the quick dismissal by these politicians: too focused on how the slogan sounds, they fail to address the policy changes it calls to action and continue to support a system of policing which currently exists in a fundamentally oppressive structure. Reform is not enough, complete restructuring and radical change is the only answer.
Most Black Americans do not have the privilege of not understanding this. And, after delivering the election to Biden and the Senate, we want recognition.
We want to no longer be the big scary thing that Democrats are afraid of. We want to be taken seriously, and we want our demands to be met, our communities to be prioritized, and our people to stop dying at the hands of the state.
Black voters do not appear magically to deliver democracy if white people click their heels, repost an infographic, and say, "Stacey Abrams" in the mirror three times. The Black Vote is a collection of diverse, real people who are tired of being treated like a liability, a threat to the party they have always been loyal to.
It's time the party returned the favor — pointing out the obvious transgressions of the (soon) past administration will not be enough. With a blue senate, Biden has the opportunity to be bold, to enact real change for the communities who showed up for him, despite his own flaws and a year spent turning his back to us for the sake of white voters who did not.
How Will the Joe Biden Tax Plan Affect Me?
For most people, Biden's plan is great news.
With the election of Joe Biden to the Presidency, you're probably here seeking to understand how much your taxes are going to go up.
The answer: most people will see no tax increases.
The tax plan that Joe Biden has rolled out is targeted at individuals making more than $400,000 a year, less than 1% of the population of the US. If you (like me) are not one of these lucky individuals, then it's very-likely that nothing in this article is going to apply to you.
But, for argument's sake, let's hop in the Model S, drive over to the penthouse, and analyze what Biden's tax code plans mean for you.
If you make over $400,000 a year
First, Biden is going to impose a 12.4% tax on incomes over $400,000 to fund Social Security, split evenly between employers and employees. This is a new tax, because Social Security taxes in the past have been capped on income at or below $137,700.
People who made over $137,700 had a tax break where they didn't have to pay into Social Security for all of their income. Biden's tax plan still allows people making over $137,700 to not pay the Social Security payroll tax for income above that amount as long as they make under $400,000.
When your income exceeds $400,000, you then have to start paying the tax again. This creates an interesting tax structure where people's income at the very bottom and the very top of their income is being taxed for Social Security, but income in the middle is not.
Second, while Biden is likely to keep many of changes from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, he has stated that he is going to revert the marginal tax rate for individual incomes above $400,000 from 37% back to the previous 39.6%. As with the Social Security tax, this does not kick in unless your income goes above $400,000.
Individuals making above $400,000 will also have their incomes above $400,000 see itemized deductions capped at 28%. That means if your income is over $400,000 and your tax rate is over 28%, you have less options for itemizing your deductions to get a lower tax rate.
Some business owners have benefitted from deducting up to 20% of their business income as well as 20% of the dividends from qualifying Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) on their taxes. Biden is proposing phasing that out for incomes above – drumroll - $400,000.
But what if you're not just making $400,000 a year? What if you are making even more than $400,000 a year? What if you earn over $1 million a year? That's when Biden's really going to hit you where it hurts – your investments.
Most people pay taxes on what's called "earned income," referring to things like your salary at your job. The tax rates for that range from 10% to 37%, depending on how much you make. If you make money from investments instead, that's a whole different story.
If you buy an investment and sell it for a profit within one year of purchase, you would pay your normal income tax on any profit you make. But if you hold the investment for longer than a year, you pay a reduced tax rate between 0% and 20%, depending on your income.
If you make over $200,000 ($250,000 for married couples), you would also pay a 3.8% tax on net investment income. What Biden is proposing is taxing any income over $1 million the same regardless of it comes from your salary or your long-term investments.
The wealthiest people in the US have seen a large amount of their income come from investments, and this measure would keep the wealthiest Americans from paying less in taxes than average working people just because the money comes from holding stocks or real estate instead of a traditional job.
If you make under $400,000 a year
Let's say that you, like more than 99% of Americans, do not make $400,000 a year. Does this mean Biden's tax plan will not affect you at all? There's actually a decent chance you might see some changes to your taxes.
Biden is proposing bringing back the First-Time Homebuyers' Tax Credit, originally created to help the housing market during the Great Recession, and provide up to $15,000 for first-time homebuyers. With interest rates at historic lows, this may be another incentive for you to consider dipping your toes into the real estate game and becoming a homeowner.
Biden is also proposing expanding the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit from $3,000 up to $8,000 for one dependent and $16,000 if you have multiple dependents. The maximum reimbursement rate would also adjust from 35% to 50%. If you have kids or other dependents, this may reduce how much you pay in taxes by giving you a child tax credit the money you spend to support your family.
Biden also has a few very targeted tax cuts and tax benefits that will apply to a much smaller group of people. One is expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit (a tax credit for low-income people who are very close to the poverty line) and allowing people over the age of 65 to also claim the credit even if they do not have dependent children.
He would also provide a refundable low-income renter's credit, reinstate tax credits for the purchase of electric vehicles and improvements to your home to make them more energy-efficient, as well as exempt forgiven student loans from taxable income. These may not apply to as wide a group of people, but if you're older, a renter, looking to live a more green lifestyle, or seeking forgiveness for student loans, Biden's tax proposals can have you looking at a smaller tax bill.
Biden's plans for inheritances
At first glance, it looks like everyone making more than $400,000 a year will pay higher taxes and everyone else will pay less taxes than they currently do. However, there is a part of Biden's tax plan that may have an impact on you even if you are lower income – if you have a rich family.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act raised the threshold at which estate taxes are paid and lowered how much they have to pay in taxes. If you stand to inherit an estate worth $11.6 million dollars today ($23 million if you are a married couple), right now you don't pay taxes on it.
If you inherit more than that, you would pay a top rate of 40% tax. Biden is proposing lowering the threshold where the tax would kick in back down to $3.5 million ($7 million for married couples) and raising the tax rate back to 45%. This will affect roughly 0.3% of estates. If you are in the 99.7%, you do not need to worry about the Biden inheritance policy.
Now, the next part is closing an inheritance loophole called the "stepped-up basis" loophole. Right now, when an heir inherits an asset, they only pay taxes on the gain in value of the asset from the time that they inherited it.
Let's say your parents bought $100 worth of stocks decades ago and today those stocks are worth $10,000. If your parents passed away and left you the stocks, you would be allowed to sell them immediately and not pay any taxes.
If you held the stock and the price rose to $12,000, you would only pay taxes on the $2,000 in value the stocks gained since you inherited it. This because the initial value of the stocks would be "stepped-up" to the value at the time you inherited it rather than the value at the time your parents bought it.
This loophole has allowed the very wealthy to leave very valuable assets to their children without needing to pay taxes and allowed generations to pass large fortunes to their children. Biden has proposed closing this loophole and not stepping-up the value of an asset when it is inherited; taxes will instead be paid on the value of the asset from when it was first purchased.
This part of the plan has yet to be fully fleshed-out by Biden, but it appears to be modelled after a proposal from the Obama administration. That plan allowed an exclusion of $100,000 per person (rising with inflation) and excluding $250,000 for primary residences ($500,000 for couples). It also allowed a 15-year payment period and tax deferrals for family-owned small businesses. Biden may roll out similar provisions once he rolls his tax plan out before congress.
Does any of the Biden tax policy outlines even matter?
Biden has presented something of a wish list for his tax plan, but that doesn't mean he can wave a magic wand on January 20th and put it into place. This plan will require significant negotiations in Congress, and if Republicans retain a Senate majority, they may refuse to even allow a bill to have a hearing. Ultimately, Biden's tax proposals may change significantly as they work their way through Congress and if they are not able to garner enough support, they may never come into effect.
When Will We Know the Results of the 2020 Presidential Election?
Here's everything you need to know about Election Day 2020.
For many of us, it's been a very long, divisive four years. Finally, the end (for better or for worse) is in sight.
Today, November 3rd 2020, all remaining votes for the president of the United States of America will be cast. Most years we know who will be the next president by the end of election night, but like many things in 2020, this election will likely be different.
In fact, it's highly likely that we won't know whether Joe Biden or Donald Trump won the presidency tonight.
Most significantly, results will likely take longer than normal because more people than ever are voting by mail this year due to the global health crisis. It takes longer to count mailed in ballots because states have to verify signatures and other safeguards against voter fraud. Additionally, some states don't allow mail ballots to be processed until election day, and some states still count mail ballots received after election day as long as they're postmarked by election day.
Say what you will about this administration, but it has certainly mobilized voters. Prior to today, over 91 million Americans had already voted, a number that represents around 67% of the total ballots cast in the 2016 presidential election. By the end of today, experts believe we will see record-setting voter turn out.
Early Tallies Will Likely Be Misleading
Some states count the ballots cast on election day first, and experts believe these counts are likely to favor Trump, as his supporters are more likely to vote on election day. In contrast, other states count mail-in ballots cast prior to election day first, and these results are likely to favor Biden, as polls show that his supporters are more likely to vote by mail this year. Essentially, we are unlikely to get a clear picture of who won the presidency until all ballots are counted.
US Postal Service Delays
Due to delays in deliveries by the U.S. Postal Service, many are fearful that ballots won't arrive in time to be counted. To add to the injustice of this, Republicans, including Trump's camp, have been filing lawsuits to keep ballots delivered after election day from being counted.
To illustrate the magnitude of this problem, one can look to Michigan, where an appeals court has struck down a 14-day ballot-counting extension, meaning that voters are now being urged to drop off their mail in ballots in person. Courts have also ruled that extensions aren't allowed in Wisconsin and Indiana.
So when will we know who won?
We won't have a clear picture of who won until the swing states have been tallied. Here's when we can expect that to happen for each state.
Mail-in ballots can legally be counted in advance of election night in Florida, so we're likely to have an accurate picture of results tonight, which officials can release around 7:30 pm ET. However, if the election is close they may not call the state until Wednesday or Thursday.
State law in Arizona allows mail-in ballots to be counted up to two weeks before election day, so it's likely election officials in Arizona have a clear picture of mail-in ballot results already. Arizona early vote results and and mail-in vote results can both legally be released about 10 p.m. ET tonight, and election day votes will soon follow. We may know Arizona's results on election night, but if the race is tight they may not call it for several days.
We are unlikely to know Michigan's results on election night. According to NPR, "In Michigan, election officials in cities with more than 25,000 residents can start processing mail ballots on Monday at 10 a.m., sorting ballots and removing outer envelopes. They can't be counted, though, until Election Day."
"It could takeuntil Friday, Nov. 6 for all ballots to be counted," the office of Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson wrote on Thursday.
North Carolina has a very similar system to Arizona, so while we may know results on election night, its also possible it will take several days if the race is tight. 80% of voters already cast their ballots either through the mail or via early voting, but that remaining 20% who will vote on election day are more likely to be Trump voters.
"For the 20% or so of North Carolinians who vote on Election Day, we will be receiving those from the precinct and uploading those, as well," executive director of the North Carolina State Board of Elections Karen Brinson-Bell said on Thursday. "So, if there are really close races, those Election Day votes will tremendously matter in the outcomes of these elections."
We're unlikely to know the results of Pennsylvania on election night. Some counties may not even begin tallying absentee ballots until Wednesday. "We're sure it will take more time than it used to," Gov. Tom Wolf said Thursday. "We probably won't know results on election night." Luckily, Pennsylvania can accept mail-in ballots up to three days after the election as long as they are postmarked by election day.
We should know the results for Wisconsin by Wednesday morning (Nov 4) at the latest. They aren't allowed to pause election counting once its begun according to state law, so its likely election officials will work through the night in some counties to offer results by Wednesday morning.
In summary, it's likely we will not know election results for several days, unless it is such an enormous blow out (unlikely) that results become evident early. This could happen if Biden takes a key Republican state like Texas, but more than likely we'll just have to wait and see.
Why Donald Trump Is (Maybe) Lying About Having COVID
At his point, anything could be true...
In the early hours of Friday morning, the White House announced that President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump had both tested positive for COVID-19.
The news came shortly after it was confirmed that top aide Hope Hicks had tested positive after weeks of travellng with the president to campaign events. As a result, Trump's reelection campaign has canceled a number of upcoming campaign events in battleground states.
The idea of a sitting president contracting a life-threatening virus around a month before the 2020 election seems like the definition of a so-called "October surprise." But honestly, Donald Trump's reckless behavior in recent weeks—holding public rallies around the country, including a crowded indoor event in Henderson Nevada—makes his diagnosis substantially less surprising.
President Donald Trump said to have minor Covid-19 symptoms: New York Times reportwww.youtube.com
Of course, during Tuesday night's debate, Joe Biden expressed concern about that exact issue, noting that the president has "been totally irresponsible in the way in which he has handled the social distancing ... basically encouraging people not to [wear face masks]" at these events.
Trump, of course, responded by mocking Joe Biden for wearing "the biggest mask I've ever seen" and insisted that—in terms of his rallies and the risk of spreading COVID—"so far we have had no problem whatsoever." Less than 24 hours later, Donald Trump was at yet another rally in Duluth, Minnesota, where unmasked people were standing shoulder to shoulder.
Leaving aside the fact that Trump's "great friend" Herman Cain tested positive for COVID-19 just nine days after attending Donald Trump's Tulsa rally without wearing a face mask—dying soon after—and the fact that the state of Oklahoma saw a massive spike of COVID cases in the weeks following the event, it should finally be impossible for Trump to claim they've had "no problem."
That said, with an incubation period of up to 14 days, it would be unlikely—if Hope Hicks and the president had contracted COVID-19 in Duluth on Wednesday—for a test to come back positive so quickly. But that was the fourth rally the campaign has held in the past two weeks. Either of them might have been exposed in Pennsylvania, Virginia, or Florida.
But all of this ignores one confounding possibility—that this whole story might be just another Trump lie.
The Case Against COVID
Donald Trump has made it a regular practice to introduce some major disruptive news any time a negative story about him is dominating the cycle. Often that includes outright lies.
For the last few days, the story of "the worst debate ever"—mainly the result of Donald Trump constantly interrupting and talking over both his opponent and the debate moderator—has been all cable news wants to talk about. Even Brian Kilmeade—among Tump's biggest fans at Fox News—has expressed some criticism of the president's performance.
'Dumpster fire': See Jake Tapper and Dana Bash's blunt reaction to debatewww.youtube.com
With the election so near, Donald Trump and his team have made it clear that no tactic is too deceptive or underhanded for them to employ if they think it will help him win. So if Trump wanted to disrupt the continued analysis of that awful debate, what are the potential advantages of faking a COVID diagnosis?
For a start, now that he is reportedly ill and faces potentially dire health consequences, any criticism of how he has mishandled the pandemic (including this article) will be easy for his defenders to characterize as cruel politicization of the president's health.
It delivers a more or less guaranteed opportunity to demonize the media—one of Donald Trump's favorite methods for energizing his base—while also ensuring more neutral/positive coverage than he has gotten in recent days. If it works well enough, it might even provide enough media cover for the senate to push through Amy Coney Barrett's controversial nomination to the Supreme Court.
It could also rewrite the debate schedule. The second debate was originally planned for October 15th and will almost certainly be postponed or canceled. Maybe president Trump only wants to have one more debate. If he has a plan to come back from the disastrous first performance with some surprising tactics in one final debate—currently scheduled for October 22nd—Joe Biden will have no third round in which to adjust and counter.
Maybe he's planning to pivot—yet again—to a more disciplined and presidential poise, so that if Biden comes looking for a similar fight, he will instead come across as the combative one. If President Trump returns to the debate stage with a subdued performance, as though he's been humbled by a brush with his own mortality, perhaps he can win back some polite suburban voters who may have been turned off by his bullying debate style—though somehow not by every other aspect of his presidency.
Another advantage of faking a COVID diagnosis would be the opportunity to promote a supposed cure. If Trump claims that he took Chloroquine—or some other unproven treatment—after his diagnosis, and thus experienced only mild symptoms, he gets another chance to tout a "cure" that will soon have this global pandemic under control and the economy back on track. Even better, he can "brag" about how mild his illness was for him—painting himself as tough and healthy and affording another opening to attack Biden's fitness.
This is roughly the approach that fascist Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro—one of Trump's closest international allies—took when he (possibly) contracted the coronavirus back in July. He was out shaking his supporters' hands and promoting hydroxychloroquine amid conflicting reports about his diagnosis. Was it all a ruse? Is Trump following the same game plan?
On the Other Hand...
Of course, none of this is to say that President Trump definitely doesn't have COVID. It's a highly contagious virus, and his reckless behavior has put him at significant risk.
While there may be tactical benefits to faking a COVID diagnosis, there's a lot of room for downsides as well—potentially inspiring his base to reconsider the threat of the virus and the value of the kind of strict lockdown procedures that could have prevented much of the pandemic's impact in the US. If they start having those thoughts, maybe it won't make so much sense to demonize liberal politicians for shutting things down while hundreds of thousands of Americans are dying...
That scenario may seem like a stretch—Trump's base is far more likely to attribute this kind of news to a Chinese conspiracy to infect their hero than to any GOP incompetence—but the point remains that news of this magnitude shifts the political narrative in unpredictable ways. Would Trump and his campaign really take the risk of faking something like this, even with the chance that it could turn against them?
Who knows? Whatever the arguments on one side or the other, the biggest reasons to question this story—and invest in all this conspiracy theory-logic—are the same reasons we should have learned by now to doubt nearly everything: We can't trust Trump, and we can't trust 2020.
Who Are the Proud Boys, the Extremist Group Trump Told to "Stand By?"
The far-right group has links with the 2017 Unite the Right Rally and recent alt-right rallies in Portland, Oregon.
In case you were blissfully unaware, last night marked the first presidential debate between President Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
In what has been called "maybe the worst presidential debate in American history," Trump's constant interruptions of both Biden and moderator Chris Wallace did very little to expand his appeal beyond his existing fervent fan base. The president also repeatedly tried to associate Biden with the radical left—a statement that is simply not true. And while Biden kept a relatively calm composure, he missed a few key talking points, his most memorable quote being "Will you shut up, man?"
But the most disconcerting moment in the debate was when President Trump blatantly failed to denounce white supremacy.
"You have repeatedly criticized the vice president for not specifically calling out Antifa and other left wing extremist groups," Wallace said to Trump. "But are you willing tonight to condemn white supremacists and militia groups and to say that they need to stand down and not add to the violence in a number of these cities, as we saw in Kenosha and as we've seen in Portland?"
After a few moments of fumbling and putting the blame on left-wing groups, Trump's response was: "Proud Boys, stand back and stand by."
President Donald Trump: White supremacist group Proud Boys should 'stand back and stand by'www.youtube.com
Social media was immediately flooded with people voicing their concerns. While Trump has clearly displayed white supremacist behavior throughout his presidency, this is perhaps the most blatant example of all. The aforementioned Proud Boys have reportedly been celebrating Trump's apparent endorsement—but who are they, anyway?
The Proud Boys are a far-right, all-male extremist group that was formed in 2016 by Gavin McInnes, who describes the organization as a "pro-Western fraternal organization." Though they firmly denounce any accusations of racism (even filing a defamation lawsuit after being categorized as a hate group), they have been described as violent, nationalistic, Islamophobic, transphobic, and misogynistic. Though they deny any connotation with the alt-right, some of their core values include "anti-political correctness," "anti-racial guilt," and "reinstating a spirit of Western Chauvinism."
In its early months, the Proud Boys veered away from begin just a men's club and began growing into a flat-out, far-right extremist group that lived up to McInnes's longtime racist ideals. "I love being white and I think it's something to be very proud of," McInnes told the New York Times in 2003. "I don't want our culture diluted. We need to close the borders now and let everyone assimilate to a Western, white, English-speaking way of life."
In his detailed plan for the Proud Boys, McInnes stated that members would be sorted into nationwide chapters, and that each member can be sorted into one of three ranks. To achieve the first rank, you must publicly declare your pride in being a Proud Boy. The second is to receive a brutal beating while reciting five breakfast cereal names, and the third is to get a Proud Boy tattoo. "It's very freeing to finally admit the West is the best," McInness wrote. "That's because it's the truth."
No matter what accusations you might hear about violent protests supposedly escalated by Antifa, violence has been a major aspect of the Proud Boys' M.O. since their inception. A notable ex-Proud Boy is Jason Kessler, the founder of the infamous Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017. Many Proud Boys attended the event, which resulted in the death of a counter-protester named Heather Heyer.
More recently, the Proud Boys have had a significant presence in the current protests and rallies in Portland, Oregon. Their involvement in Black Lives Matter protests has revealed that they feel a duty to assist law enforcement officers.
And now, with fairly explicit approval from Trump, the Proud Boys feel a renewed sense of responsibility to further uphold their xenophobic beliefs.
"To say Proud Boys are energized by [Trump's statement at the debate] is an understatement," Megan Squire, a computer science professor who tracks online extremism, told NBC News. "They were pro-Trump before this shoutout, and they are absolutely over the moon now. Their fantasy is to fight antifa in his defense, and he apparently just asked them to do just that."
Screenshots of the Proud Boys' Telegram, a private messenger app, evidence their glee following the debate.
The Proud Boys are ecstatic tonight about getting mentioned in the debate tonight. "Trump basically said to go fuc… https://t.co/rNxehnscKb— Mike Baker (@Mike Baker) 1601432901.0
"Trump basically said go f*ck them up," member Joe Biggs wrote. "This makes me so happy."
If you were somehow unsure of Trump's white supremacy before, hopefully this alarming situation helps clear it up.