Trump Signs Bill Defunding Planned Parenthood; Is a Republican (Or: Why Ivanka Trump Is A Terrible Person)

 

Image result for ivanka trump jared kushner immigration ban snapchat

“We care about people!”

 

The Hill

President Trump on Thursday signed a bill to nix an Obama-era rule that blocked states from defunding healthcare providers for political reasons.

The bill, which Democrats say is really an effort to defund Planned Parenthood, passed the Senate last month after Vice President Pence had to cast a tie-breaking vote.

Trump signed the measure behind closed doors in the Oval Office without media present.

When Donald Trump bombed Syria last week, after Ivanka convinced him that some Syrians were people (though not refugees), we got another spate of “Is Ivanka the moderating influence?” stories. This, combined with her hubby Jared seemingly pushing out Steven Bannon, or at least gaining the upper hand in their battle for influence, (all while already being absurdly powerful) led a lot of people to wonder if the admin was going to get more “moderate”.

Now, granting that, politically, Trump had to sign this or face a total revolt, we still have to accept that one of these things:

  1. Jared and Ivanka aren’t actually moderate;
  2. Jared and Ivanka aren’t actually powerful, or;
  3. Jared and Ivanka have zero positions except to help Trump succeed in building the family name/brand, whether that means sometimes acting like a normal Republican or sometimes acting like a loon, but taking care to protect their image.

Is there actually any question here?

The thing about Ivanka and Jared is that, regardless of how much they don’t hate gays, are aiding and abetting the most far-right administration in American history. Where was their power when pops nominated Jeff Sessions, an open white nationalist who is bringing white backlash back to power? Or Scott Pruitt, who has pledged to destroy the environment? Or when he signed the Muslim ban, got his ass handed to him, and signed another one? Or when he superempowered ICE and CBP?

No, these pampered self-serving idiots don’t get to have it both ways. Helping Donald Trump get elected damns them, no matter how much they claim to slow down his worst impulses Because, really: what have they done that has been any good? You got a Republican elected, and no matter how many “We Are Relatable Millennial” ads you photoshopped, we have a xenophobic reactionary world-eating government with your unstable sexual-assaulting childish dolt of a father in control. That’s your legacy.

I’m not terribly interested in Ivanka, but her CBS interview did make me realize, fully and finally, that she is her father, only prettier and more polished.

Ivanka Trump: I speak up frequently. And my father agrees with me on so many issues. And where he doesn’t, he knows where I stand. But–

Gayle King: Can you give us–

Ivanka Trump: –it’s not my administration–

Gayle King: — an example of something that you disagree with him on and that you think that by speaking up to him it made him change his position or soften his position? Are you comfortable with that?

Ivanka Trump: I think that for me this isn’t about promoting my viewpoints. I wasn’t elected by the American people to be president. My father is gonna do a tremendous job. And I wanna help him do that. But I don’t think that it will make me a more effective advocate to constantly articulate every issue publicly where I disagree. … And that’s okay. That means that I’ll take hits from some critics who say that I should take to the street. And then other people will in the long-term respect where I get to. But I think most of the impact I have, over time most people will not actually know about.

It’s not just that there isn’t an answer here (I don’t blame her for not saying “I disagree about XYZ”). It’s that she spins her lack of any impact as a virtue, telling us, despite all evidence to the contrary–despite her father’s administration being an absolute horrorshow for issues she pretends to care about–that she’s doing a lot. So much. You’ll see.

Believe me.

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Enceladus Discoveries Demonstrate That Life (Almost Certainly) Exists

 

The caption as the NASA site reads, blandly and beautifully, “Color image of icy Enceladus.” It sounds like the beginning of a poem that somehow explains everything. Someone write it. 

 

Eeee!

Could there be life under the icy surface of Saturn’s moon Enceladus?

NASA announced on Thursday that its Cassini spacecraft mission to Saturn has gathered new evidence that there’s a chemical reaction taking place under the moon’s icy surface that could provide conditions for life. They described their findings in the journal Science.

“This is the closest we’ve come, so far, to identifying a place with some of the ingredients needed for a habitable environment,” Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, said in a statement.

However, the scientists think that because the moon is young, there may not have been time for life to emerge.

Don’t let the last paragraph get you down. Thrill, instead, at the possibilities. And thrill, even more, at the certainties. Because while Enceladus might not have life, the last sentence contains within it the seeds of a glorious “yet”, and with that, the possibilities explode like the limitless universe.

Let’s just take Enceladus, and assume that its youth has left it so far lifeless. But the idea that life could develop there, given time, expands our perceptions in both directions. Think of the idea that there could have once been life on Mars, or even on Venus, even just the merest microbes that were entirely annihilated with the slightest shift in orbit.  Life developed over millions and billions of years, while the earth was lifeless, or as the first microbes emerged from a chemical sludge, and then disappeared. Entirely. Our centuries seem so vain compared to that eonic drama.

And then go forward: after we’ve wiped ourselves out and the earth starts to rebuild from our folly, maybe life will slowly bloom on Enceladus. It might not happen, but it might. It might spark to life and then fizzle out, unsuccessful. That has probably happened billions of times across the universe.

But the point is, it has happened. One of this blogs secondary yammering points has been that we’re past the point where any reasonable person could think there isn’t life outside of earth, or that there hasn’t been, or that there never will be. Mars once had water. Enceladus has the primary conditions for life. There are seven nearby planets that are the right distance from their star to contain life.  There are40 billion Earth-sized planets orbiting in the habitable zones of Sun-like stars and red dwarfs in the Milky Way.” Just the Milky Way! There are two trillion galaxies in the observable universe. There are more things than can be contained in even our most outsized vanities.

The universe is far too big, and far too weird (look how weird Pluto is), to think we’re the only place this has happened. But that’s not so bad. We’re probably the only place where that weird chemical sludge whorled and zapped up the exact combinations that led to sequoias and dinosaurs and tree sloths and Tilda Swinton, and that’s awesome. We get to have Warren Zevon and playoff hockey. Neat!

None of this is to say that, given the size of the universe, and the certainty that we aren’t alone, that our problems are lessened. Because, functionally, we are alone. It’s not like any jerkass Enceladusian microbes are going to FedEx us a care package, much less a solution to our crippling frailties. The fact that we know that life certainly started in other places, even in our solar system, and was wiped out, a fate that will absolutely befall earth, should be enough to dim our self-destructiveness and work to make better the time we have. One would hope, anyway.

I’ve argued that since we are past the point where life in the universe can plausibly be doubted, even without definitive proof, something will slowly alter in our morals. It won’t happen overnight. It will be a generational thing, much like the Copernican “discoveries” began the slow erosion of Popish authority. Our perceptions of ourselves will change. And I think it could be for the better.

We might realize that far from being special, we’re lucky. We’re enormously lucky to be here, as a planet, as a species, and as individuals. Stretch back to the beginning of time and trace the events that led to your parents meeting. It’s impossible. So much could not have happened, and so much didn’t happen to other potential beings, other potential species. A wrong turn on a Sunday means your great-grandparents never chanced into each other or that you were just too far away from the sun to be warm, and so you’re a lifeless void.

It’s wild, these possibilities created by an endless universe. Maybe if we recognize that, if we recognize this glorious chance that lets us drink champagne with the ones we love, we won’t be so vainly self-destructive. If only we have time.

(Note: for a good scientific explanation of Enceladus, read Calla Cofield’s piece at Space.com)