Trump

trump pouting

We Need to Talk About the Defense Bill Veto

As promised, Donald Trump has vetoed the Defense Spending Bill

For those who don’t spend their days happily digging through policy and nomming on the legalese, the Defense Spending Bill is, basically, the bill that pays for the Military and all of its related…stuff. It pays for everything from paying the wages of the people who are currently actively serving in our armed forces to making sure that the lights stay on at Base Whateverthefrick. 

It is yet another tiny-fisted punch in the face of every single person who has or is currently serving in the military and to the people who love them and depend on them for their safety and livelihoods. 

If it’s so important, then, why did he veto it?

The short answer? Because he can. 

The longer answer? Because he’s mad at Twitter, mad at Congress, mad at voters, and doesn’t actually understand how laws, like, work and stuff.

The official answer? If you want to read the whole thing, the White House has released Trump’s Official Veto Message for anybody who wants to read it. 

If you don’t want to read the whole thing (and who can blame you), there are four main reasons he gives for vetoing, among other things, a 3% raise in pay to active service members. 

1. Because, like, China sucks, yo.

Note: He does not go into any sort of detail of *how* funding the military creates “a gift” to the Chinese, he just insists that it does. 

2. Because racism is awesome!

The bill contains funding earmarked for changing the names of some military bases that are currently named for Confederates—you know, the guys who insisted that white humans should totes be able to own non-white humans and treat them in whatever way made their tingly bits feel the tingliest? The dudes who were so in love with having slaves that they STARTED A WAR WITH THE GOAL OF DESTROYING THE COUNTRY to maintain their racist status quo? The side that LOST? Those guys. Several military bases are still named after some of those losers. Trump says that renaming those bases dishonors their legacy and that preserving the legacy of THE PEOPLE WHO TRIED TO DESTROY THE COUNTRY is more important than paying the people who are currently trying to defend it and keep it safe. 

Sorry. I got all capsy there for a minute, but that stuff really molds my cheese.

3. Because the bill limits the powers of the President re: Military Spending.

It took a while, but it seems that Congress is *finally* getting hip to some of Trump’s BS. Remember when he yanked a bunch of funding away from the military to pay for his wall? The bill says he can’t do that anymore without getting Congress’s permission first. So no, Donno—you can’t declare your billion dollars of outstanding debt “a national emergency” and use the military ‘s money to pay it back. 

While Trump’s whole “I should be able to spend your tax dollars on whatever I want” thing is concerning, it isn’t surprising. It probably matters more to him than a “gift” to China or the renaming of military bases, but the fourth reason he gives for his veto is the one that I think we can all agree matters to him the most:

4. Because the bill doesn’t repeal Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996.

According to Trump, Sec230 needs to be repealed because it poses a huge national security risk.

This? Is a lie. 

Here’s a handy link to the actual text (including a Trump EO that tries to undo it) of Section 230.

If you don’t want to nerd out on all of the policy minutia, here’s a quick overview:

Section 230 says that internet sites—particularly those with a lot of user interaction—are distributors of content, not publishers and, therefore, cannot be held liable for content shared by the site’s users. It also gives the site owners discretion as “Good Samaritans” to label/restrict/block content (and the users who post it) that the site owners believe is harmful to other users and/or the public good. 

In Other Words

A) You can’t make Facebook give you a bag of money because you had a conniption fit when you saw what someone else posted. 

B) Facebook can flag or take down posts it deems harmful or that it decides violate its terms of service. It can also shut down your account and block you from setting up a new account if the powers that be in Facebook-land decide that you are a threat to the well-being of the majority of the other Facebook users.

Basically, Trump is vetoing the Defense Spending Bill because he’s mad that he can’t sue Twitter for adding comments to his tweets. 

Trump has repeatedly insisted that Twitter’s labels, etc. constitute some form of First Amendment violation and that, under the Constitution, Twitter, Facebook, etc., aren’t allowed to police his (or, theoretically, anybody else’s) speech. 

Section 230 isn’t about that. 

Even Trump’s EO, which tries to make the case that if a site’s owner wants to police users’ content then that owner forfeits their categorization as “distributor” and becomes a “publisher”, isn’t valid here because publishers are not constitutionally required to give every voice a platform. They get to pick and choose who they elevate. Remember: the first amendment guarantees your right to free speech. It does not guarantee your right to an audience. 

Nobody is stopping Trump from spewing whatever he wants online. If he wants to build a website on which he rants about every conspiracy theory and perceived slight, he’s free to do that. If he wants to use a private company like Twitter’s bandwidth to amplify his message then they get to set the rules for how his messages are broadcast. 

I’m pretty sure the only reason Trump is so focused on Section 230 (which, again, has nothing to do with national security, defense spending, or even the petty stuff he’s mad about) is because it contains language about “filing suit,” and we all know that Trump’s most favorite thing to do in the universe is to sue people. He probably heard it was about suing websites and decided it fit his needs. Because the devil isn’t in the details anymore. It’s in an ill-fitting suit wearing an ugly red tie. 

TL;DR: Trump is refusing to fund the military and his reasons for doing so are, like always, complete Bull Smoothie.

Where I’m At Right Now

When I was married, I lived in a world where it was repeated to me over and over again that “there is no such thing as rape if you’re in a relationship.” Where it was totally acceptable to roll down the car window and bark at women you found unattractive. Where it was totally okay to shove your hand down your wife’s shirt, grab her breast (hard enough to leave bruises), and then, while not letting go, make jokes about her breast size to her father in law. Where gaslighting and emotional torture were perfectly acceptable methods to get one’s way or to blow off some steam. It was a world in which women were obligated to serve men and if a man had to get his own whatever (dinner, drink, tv remote, whatevs) then it was up to that man to put that woman “in her place” even if it took physical violence to do so (the refrain of “beat her if you have to” still shows up in nightmares sometimes).

Growing up, like every other kid/teen/college student who is remotely different, I was bullied ferociously. I had tables shoved into me, hair pulled, hit with broom handles during gym class (it was a weird game that required us to use brooms. I’ll tell you about it some other time), called names, told repeatedly that I was ugly, stupid, weird, unlovable, better off dead. And, for a while after Schindler’s List (my last name is one of the names on the list) came out, the teasing ramped up to include swastikas drawn on my locker, kids calling me Jesus Killer, and other assorted bull shittery.

So, y’know, I’m no stranger to being treated badly. I know how it feels to have someone else deny your very humanity and treat doing so like a game.

This election feels worse than all those experiences combined.

It has been a week since Donald J Trump was elected to be the next President of the United States. I feel like the fog that has been smothering me might finally be starting to lift, but everything still really really hurts, and feels really really scary in a way that is all too familiar.

First, I have to say this: The people who are upset and hurting over the election results are not reacting this way simply because their candidate lost. The images you see splashed across the news and the think pieces you’re reading do not come from something that simple or someplace that petty.

We’re hurting and afraid because we know what’s coming. It has already started. We tried to tell you what would be coming and you—those of you who voted for him—cheered him on.

I know that not every vote for Trump was enthusiastic, but by casting that vote not only are you mindfully endorsing all his rhetoric, you are complicit in every action he takes because you gave him your permission to take it.

Right now, your impulse might be to argue. You might want to get mad at me and say “I don’t support everything he said or everything he did!” But here’s the thing: you don’t get to just vote for the parts of the candidate you like. You vote for that person as a whole, flaws and all.

In the first couple of flurried days after the election when pundits were desperately scrambling for anything positive to say, I heard a lot of “well only 50% of the 50% of the country that actually voted cast their ballots for Trump, so that’s only a quarter of the population that wants him.” That? Is just a nice way of saying that 75% of the population either didn’t want to or didn’t care enough to help make sure that Hillary won.

Maybe you were someone who voted for a third party or wrote someone in. Too bad. By not doing everything you could to make sure Trump didn’t win—even if it meant voting for someone who didn’t tingle your fee-fees in exactly the right way—you helped him win. Grudgingly, sure, but some of the blame is yours too.

Perhaps you were one of the nearly 50% of the population who didn’t vote at all. “Not my fault, I didn’t even vote!” Well, if you were able to vote and simply chose not to or couldn’t be bothered? Fuck you.

75% of my country looked at Donald Trump’s platform and deemed it acceptable. 75% of my country voted against inclusivity, against diversity, against equal rights, against the environment, against education, against science. 75% of my country voted in favor of or doesn’t care about discrimination, torture, ideological ware far, national isolation, hate, walls, and even potentially nuclear war. 75% of my country is would rather I died (for no other reasons than I was born with a vagina and don’t wear a cross around my neck) than maybe sometimes have to hear someone speak a language that isn’t English.

I am alive today partly because I knew that there were people in the world who had my back. I knew that there were people out there who loved me no matter what. There were places in the world where I knew that I would be totally and completely safe. When things were bad I’d think about these people and these places and the comfort that came from that would help me get from one day to the next.

Some of those people and some of the inhabitants of those places are among that 75%. I’m having a hard time figuring out how to process that. I don’t believe for a second that voting for Trump means that they love me any less. But I’m also having a hard time believing that I will be truly safe when I am with them, no matter what. Right now, it feels like when push comes to shove, they’d be more likely to hurt me than help me and that feeling sucks.

Every day since the election, I’ve felt like I was back in my marriage but now there’s an extra layer of abandonment tossed in there on top.

Look, I know that I am not the center of the universe and that being this navel-gazey is a little gross. I know that in time I’ll find my fight and my stubbornness will rise again (and lo, my stubbornness is MIGHTY). I’ll figure out what to do because, despite how I feel right now, I know I am not alone and that even though I’m feeling low, there is a strong support system filled with people who will hold me up when I need it.

Maybe most importantly, I know that I am not the only one who feels this way and that I will need to be battle ready very soon.

But today? Today I’m still scared to go further than the front steps of my building.

That’s where I’m at right now.

A Big Realization and a Great Big DUH

I’ve talked about indie journalism FOMO before. I’ve also written about my deep and abiding love for MSNBC and the work that is done there. Now I get to tell you why having MSNBC on in the background all day has turned out to be a really bad idea.

It’s not what you think. I mean, sure, the drudgery of hearing about all of the lies and the shouting about why Hillary Clinton is the devil incarnate and how pundits are trying to explain away all of the Trump BS that has happened over the last week with “But Hillary deleted emails and her pantsuits are terrible!” as if they were remotely comparable can really wear on a person’s soul.

Oh my god, what a run-on. Oh well, leaving it there in the interest of getting something posted for a change. You’re welcome!

And, yes, speaking as a person with a broken brain, having that constant negativity droning on all day has certainly exacerbated my broken brain in weird and unexpected ways. So you’ve got me there.

But the real reason having the news on all day has turned out to be a really bad idea?

It keeps me from writing. I know. DUH.

I thought it was word burnout after churning out content for my day job. But that’s not it.

Then I thought the reason I wasn’t writing was because it was one of the side effects of my aforementioned exacerbated broken brain.

Then the other night as I was playing Threes into the wee hours, it hit me: I’m not writing because I can’t keep up.

It can seem like 24/7 news doesn’t really say anything new all that often. They talk about the same topics ad nauseum just with different pundits. And this is, technically, true.

But! Those pundits are constantly saying different things! And the things they say give me ideas! I cannot keep up with those ideas. Obviously no reasonable person would expect a one woman operation like mine to keep up with a fully staffed national news network, but I am not the most reasonable person when it comes to me.

So, basically the news says very little that is newsworthy but also is constantly saying things that I think are newsworthy. It’s Schrodinger’s News. And having it on all day made me feel like I have to keep up. And having to keep up kept me stuck in my head thinking up new ideas instead of, y’know, writing anything down. Or typing it into scrolling-challenged iWriter (seriously, wtf is wrong with this thing?).

But you know what? I don’t have to keep up with or try to compete with that fully staffed national news network. The whole point of this is to do things MY way because I don’t like the way they’re doing them.

And that is why, today, I taped this up on my wall:

fitjustdothedamnwork

The important part of this, for me, is to remember that I don’t have to have to try to be the indie version of MSNBC. They’re great at what they do. Hopefully, if I let myself do this my way, I’ll be great at what I do, too.

And if not? That’s okay. I’m still awesome at Twitter.

Want to help me balance day job and indie journalism? Here’s where you can contribute to the “Keep Snarke Sane fund!”