Things That Happened Before Trump Got Elected Are Definitely His Fault—Just Ask MSN

In a move that shocked precisely nobody, Macy’s is closing seven stores and laying off 5,000 workers across the country. In addition to being predictable because of the rise of e-commerce and the never-ending retail slump that likely ends with brick-and-mortar becoming a thing of the past, it’s predictable because Macy’s originally announced this plan in August of 2016. The only real news to come out of this was the naming of 7 of the 100 stores that are doomed under the original plan.

The particularly astute among you will notice that August 2016 is several months before January 20th, 2017, which is when President Donald J. Trump took office. In fact, it’s even a few months before November 8th, 2016, when Donald Trump was elected. So why are MSN, USA Today, and others acting like this is news today?

Simple. There’s been too much good news in the financial sector since Trump was elected, and, specifically, far too much good news since he signed his tax bill into law. Time to incense the readers a bit. Predictably, it worked.

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Did Trump Kill Obamacare? Depends On Whom You Ask

The Individual Mandate. Man, what a complicated and twisted path it’s taken.

Obama, himself, was against it before he was for it. in 2015, Vox said that it was “absolutely necessary” to making sure that Obamacare could be implemented. By forcing healthy individuals into the marketplace, it would lower the premiums for everybody else by spreading the cumulative risk around. If healthy people opted not to buy insurance, then the plan wouldn’t work.

The Supreme Court ultimately ruled by the slimmest possible margin that the mandate was constitutional—not because the federal government can force people to buy a product, but because the federal government does have the right to compel individuals to pay tax—undermining candidate and President Obama’s promise that taxes on the middle class wouldn’t be raised under his administration.

So, despite every liberal in the world screaming at the top of his lungs that President Donald J. Trump is a “moron” and an “Orange Droolius,” Trump beat the Democrats at their own game with his tax plan, which he signed into law earlier this month. Rather than try to “repeal and replace,” an effort which has failed massively in the Senate, Trump decided to simply repeal the individual mandate tax. Say what you want about the guy, this was some brilliant shit.

But did it kill Obamacare?

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The False Promise Of Net Neutrality

I wasn’t there when the Internet was invented, and I wasn’t around for the first e-mail, but I do remember Eternal September.

In the fall of 1990, one of my professors at Miami University signed me and the rest of the students in my class up for access to the school’s VAX minicomputer. The idea was that we would use e-mail to send him our papers and to communicate with each other. To do this, I had to walk across the quad to the 24/7 computer lab in MacCracken Hall, where I used a gutted IBM PC/AT as a video terminal.

Our professor gave us explicit written instructions on which options in the VAX menu would let us get our work done. My classmates were befuddled. Most of them had never touched a computer before, unless you count an Atari 2600 or a NES as a computer. About four weeks into the semester, the VAX requirement was walked back. We could go back to using typewriters or writing by hand. Everybody went back. Everybody, that is, but me.

By the time I left for winter break I’d figured out quite a bit about the VAX, including how it connected to other systems of what started as the DARPAnet but with the addition of various educational and commercial enterprises had come to be known as the Internet. I stayed on the VAX for the rest of my time at Miami. I was there for Eternal September, the day that AOL users were given access to USENET discussion forums in September of 1993. (It was actually September 11, 1993, but history has retconned it to just “some time in September” for semi-obvious reasons.) By 1996 I was working in the business, as a network engineer for Litel. In May of 1997, I opened up my “BMX Basics” website. In late 1999 I founded a web-hosting cooperative. In 2000 I joined the Free Hardware Project at MIT, only to see it fall apart in the aftermath of the other September 11th. In the years that followed, I made the majority of my living selling, developing, and implementing a variety of systems and solutions that were based on the principles of Free Software as laid down by Richard Stallman, whom I met around the time the AI Lab became the Media Lab.

Why tell you all of this? Simply as deep background for what I’m going to tell you next: I believe in a free Internet, I believe in software freedom, I believe in data freedom. But I don’t believe in “Net Neutrality”, and I’ll explain why.

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On Their Knees For China

Fast Company isn’t the only media publication to decry Apple’s recent capitulation to China, but I think they have the best and most detailed take on the hows and whys. Just in case you have a normal life and don’t follow tech news, here’s the precis: For a few years now, Apple has sold deliberately crippled versions of its core products to Chinese customers. The China-spec stuff is unable to get around the “Great Firewall” that separates Chinese citizens from the Internet at large.

Some savvy customers have gotten around this restriction with vaguely-named apps that create VPN connections to out-of-China proxies, allowing them to see the outside world and encrypting the communication so the government can’t see their thoughtcrime. But those apps are no longer available through Apple’s App Store, because the company has yet again bowed to pressure from the Chinese government. Apple willingly does everything the Chinese government demands, including sending Tim Cook to literally dance on stage like a monkey for the amusement of high-ranking Party members.

That’s the same Tim Cook who has weaponized Apple’s products and bankroll for social justice here in the US. Cook and his PR flacks never tire of criticizing Donald Trump, the Republican Party, and Christians who don’t share his opinion of gay marriage. Yet China is decades behind the United States in everything from gay marriage (hell no!) to showing gay people on TV (not permitted in some cases) to the jailing, torture, and murder of political dissidents. So why is Cook absolutely fierce about Trump but feeble about Chinese abuses?

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Donald Trump Stared The NFL Directly In The Eye, And The NFL Blinked

One of the very best things about growing older (I turn 40 this month holy shit OMG OMG) is that one gains a bit of perspective.

When I was a child, the NFL was my obsession. I was a diehard Raiders fan, for no other reason than the Raiders were a particularly good team in the mid-80’s and Columbus, Ohio didn’t have an pro squad. I lived and died with each win and loss. I played John Madden and Joe Montana Football on the Sega Genesis with my best friend every day. I wore Raiders hats and Marcus Allen jerseys.

Of course, I then proceeded to grow up and stop worrying about the exploits of grown men who don’t know me, and I began to understand professional sports for what they are: entertainment. I still enjoy watching sports, but I view them the same way that many people view going to the movies—a nice way to kill a couple of hours with a healthy dose of escapism. It drives my friends and family crazy when they ask me who I’m rooting for and I say, “Nobody. I just like watching the games.”

It goes without saying that there are tens of millions of people who feel completely differently about professional sports, and, in particular, the National Football League. The NFL has dispatched all other pro sports with relative ease, thanks in no small part to fantasy games and betting, but also due to the physical nature of the game. Joe Sixpack feels a connection to NFL players—they work hard, just like he does. They go home dirty, bruised and bleeding, just like he does. And they love America, just like he does.

Whoops. Scratch that last bit.

When Colin Kaepernick, backup quarterback and the adopted son of two white parents, decided to protest police brutality against minorities by kneeling for the national anthem last season, I called him a troll. While statistics and data can always be cherry-picked to suit the needs of the editorialist, there is, at the very least, significant doubt about the validity of his point. Of course, the people who support #blacklivesmatter are nearly entirely the very same people who are saying that only police should have guns. I don’t get it either.

However, when a rather significant number of players began to join in the now-unemployed Kaepernick’s protest (which just proves that he’s unemployed because he’s a poor quarterback, and for no other reason), Donald Trump just couldn’t help himself—he had to comment.

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Clickbait Narratives Are Still Ruining America

Look at the headline in the lead image. Aren’t you enraged? Betsy DeVos, that destroyer of public schools, that evil billionaire—she’s flying a private jet for official travel! It’s outrageous, ridiculous, and completely inappropriate for taxpayers to pay for a woman worth well over $5 billion to fly in a private plane! It must be a scandal, because Tom Price and Steve Mnuchin are also embroiled in scandals.

Of course, if you were actually to click into the article, you’d read the following quote, right at the top of the article:

Education Department Press Secretary Liz Hill told The Associated Press on Thursday that DeVos travels completely on her own dime, accepting no government reimbursement for flights or other expenses.

“Secretary DeVos accepted her position to serve the public and is fully committed to being a faithful steward of taxpayer dollars,” Hill said.

So, wait…what? She’s flying on her own jet to save taxpayer dollars? Well, holy shit. She’s an American hero, not a criminal. But do you think this matters to people who just read the headline on Facebook? Who took the five seconds out their miserable days to make the mad little emoji, or to share it nearly a thousand times?


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Resist! For #laborsavings

The e-mail said,

Meetup has always served as an organizing platform for a wide range of political views, welcoming everyone from the Howard Deaniacs to the Tea Party. Meetup will always welcome people with different beliefs.
But after the recent executive order aimed to block people on the
basis of nationality and religion, a line was crossed. At a time when core democratic ideals feel under attack, we feel a duty to spark more civic participation.
Last week, we created 1,000+ #Resist Meetup Groups to act as local hubs for actions on behalf of democracy, equality, human rights, social justice, and sustainability. Already 50,000+ people have joined.

I trust that most of my readers are too intelligent, or at least too cynical, to swallow that tripe at face value. What’s really going on?

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If You’re Not #withher, Then You’re #notwithus

Please welcome a lifelong friend of mine who is an honest-to-God, no-surgery-required, cisgender female. After a conversation we had recently, I implored her to share her views with our Riverside Green readers. To protect her identity, I’ve given her a username that makes me laugh. Enjoy!—Bark

On November 9, 2016, my best friend texted me. “Well, it’s done. I voted. I voted for HIM.” I laughed, because honestly, minus a tiny snippet of hope in the very back of my brain, I thought Hillary had the election in the bag. “Remember,” I said, “This was an easy decision. Better to vote for an honest asshole who gets economics than a dishonest criminal who is married to a dude who got a blow job in the Oval.” I got the “LOL” and we both went about our day. That night, I stared at the television, incredulous, as the ticker declared that Trump would win Wisconsin. My phone buzzed. “Holy Shit, Lizzie. He’s going to win this thing. You were right about the silent voters.”

I am a 38 year old, pro-choice, gay marriage supporter. I live in a state where it’s legal to buy marijuana for recreational purposes, and frankly, I have no problem with that whatsoever. I did not hesitate when I filled in my ballot in for Donald J. Trump. Oh, and I’m a woman with a graduate degree. But, up until now, I haven’t been able to talk about that at all, because there’s an incredibly curious phenomenon happening with women in America right now.

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