How I learned to stop worrying and love the singular ‘they’

The problem of what pronoun to use to describe the third person singular has been around for a long time because in English this pronoun has been a gendered one. It used to be that people used the male form of he/him as the default that was tacitly supposed to include both genders but that assumption has long been rejected as sexist. People who are grammatical purists tried to find various ways around it. Resorting to switching everything in a sentence to just the plural form was not always possible and even when it could be done, tended to make sentences less specific and more bland. The more awkward circumlocution ‘he or she’ or ‘his or her’ tends to get really tedious after a while.
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The bipartisan war machine

For all the visible divisions between Democrats and Republicans on some hot-button issues, one should never forget that they are both just different wings of the single War Party and this is always apparent when it comes to budget appropriations when the two sides (with a few exceptions) join forces to shovel more money to the already bloated military, while money that is urgently needed elsewhere is denied.
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Trump is getting more walls, but not the kind he wants

When Trump decided to send in his secret police to cities to confront demonstrators, it was clear that he thought there was political advantage for him to provoke conflicts between them and the protestors, that it would amplify his ‘law and order’ message, and that the sight of street clashes would result in people flocking to him. It is not clear that this is working and there are ominous indications for him that this may be a miscalculation.

As a candidate, Trump can appear to be cornered. Polling indicates that Americans think Trump is wrong about the street protests, they disapprove of his performance as president overall by more than 55% on average, and they disapprove of his handling of the coronavirus pandemic specifically by a whopping 60%.

But Trump has been cornered in the past, as when he was supposed to lose in 2016. Then as now, Trump lashed out on race.

Talking about crime in big cities “can be dog whistles for racial divisions” to Trump supporters, especially in the midwest, who as a group are older, more white and more rural than the average US voter, Azari said.

But emphasizing chaos in the streets is a questionable strategy for an incumbent president, she said. “For most swing voters, the question comes down to, ‘Are things good, are things not good?’ And I don’t see this story as being a really compelling way to reframe the situation as like, things are good’.”

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Female athletes take the lead in fight for social justice

In the fight for greater justice and against systemic racism, female athletes in the fields of soccer and basketball have gone further than their male counterparts in support of people like Colin Kaepernick, who was punished by the NFL for kneeling during the national anthem. The recent protests have emboldened more male football and baseball players to take a stand but some are trying to not offend Trump. In the opening game of the baseball season, players from both teams knelt before the game and made other gestures of support of the Black Lives Matter protests but then stood for the national anthem.
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Fighting the new forms of the poll tax

The history of suppressing the vote in the US is a long one. Initially these measures were aimed at preventing poor people from voting (since slaves could not vote anyway) but after emancipation, the Civil War, and the ratification of the 15th Amendment in 1870 that said simply “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude”, the ruling class tried to find other ways to prevent poor people and now blacks from voting. Women were of course barred from voting in the US until 1920.
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Advice for Yoho and other boors like him: Don’t mess with AOC

I wrote before about Republican congressperson Ted Yoho’s appalling behavior towards Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and his pusillanimous non-apology on the floor of the House of Representatives. But you should really listen to all of AOC’s short speech because the excerpts or even the full transcript do not really do it justice. She shows how you can rebuke someone with grace and power and without resorting to foul language.

The most powerful moment for me was when she pointed out that when Yoho used that language towards her, he was giving permission to men to use that language against his own wife and daughter. So true.

You can read the responses to her speech in her Twitter feed.

Trump’s manifest insecurity about his cognitive abilities

Most people do not even think about whether they are cognitively impaired or not. It is only those who fear that there is a problem who may obsess about it. Seth Meyers looks at the way that Trump keeps boasting about the results of his ‘cognitive test’, a test that is not used to test how smart you are, as Trump seems to think, but to see if you are showing signs of dementia. (Note that he took this test back in 2018 and it was administered by his then White House personal physician Ronny Jackson who subsequently resigned amid allegations of misconduct and is now running for a Texas congressional seat on an ardently pro-Trump platform.)

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Trump bats 0 for 3 on Thursday

Yesterday was not a good day for Trump, which means it is a good day for the rest of us.

Trump finally caved to reality and canceled the big event in Jacksonville, Florida where hoped to receive the Republican party’s nomination before a huge adoring crowd. He had first, in a fit of pique, moved it from Charlotte, North Carolina when that city’s governor refused to lift restrictions on crowd sizes and insisted on safety precautions. Florida, with its Trump fanboy governor Ron DeSantis seemed to promise the kind of looseness he wanted.

But soon after, coronavirus cases in Florida started spiking and officials there started getting nervous. Even the Republican National Committee placed restrictions on the crowd size that would make the event look like the Tulsa, Oklahoma debacle with all the empty seats. Trump’s poll numbers in Florida are also sinking, with Biden opening up a huge lead in that state. So Trump’s decision to cancel was no surprise, though it must stick in his craw to back down.
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