A Bitter Anniversary

Chuck Jones writing in the Washington Post:

At the Carrier plant on the west side of Indianapolis, we’re coming up on a bitter anniversary. One year ago this week, President-elect Donald Trump stood before hundreds of cheering workers and declared that he had saved our jobs from moving to Mexico. It was a symbolic moment that cemented Trump’s campaign image as a working-class champion — a blue-collar billionaire who would stand with workers, not CEOs.

I have been a worker at the Rexnord plant in Indianapolis for 48 years, and president of United Steel Workers Local 1999 for more than 30. As the leader of the union representing the Carrier workers, I was part of the negotiations with the company regarding the coming layoffs when Trump intervened. Standing in front of the president-elect at Carrier during Trump’s first victory rally after the 2016 election, I realized that he was delivering a powerful message of hope not only to Carrier workers, but also to all working people in America: You finally have a president who will fight for the interests of ordinary workers, Trump seemed to say.

A year later, we feel betrayed. Carrier has announced that more than 600 workers are being laid off, with the last line scheduled to work their final shift right after the holidays.

The workers at Carrier aren’t the only ones who feel victimized by Trump’s false promises. United Technologies, Carrier’s parent company, is laying off another 700 workers right up the road from the Carrier plant in Huntington. And Rexnord, another plant in Indianapolis, just closed its doors, too. Workers at both plants hoped that Trump would come to the rescue, but he never showed up.

Keep reading.

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is Out

For the first time the only controversy around a Wolfenstein game isn’t about the violence, nobody cares about that anymore. It’s from the republicans who feel like they’re being attacked for supporting fascists like Trump.

GQ’s Joshua Rivera:

In moving the action to America, Bjork and MachineGames weren’t really out to comment on the current political climate. Work on The New Colossus began in 2014, and it’s a sequel to a game that began development in 2011. But current events have conspired to give the themes The New Colossus sets out to explore an uncomfortable relevance.

The game is reviewing well too, although I am not sure if this means that this is the end of Bethesda’s experiment with denying pre-release access to writers for review.

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is out now for Steam on Windows as well as the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

Stop Using the Economic Value of Immigrants as Justification for their Defense

That’s Carmen Rojas’ headline to her very important article about writers calling for protecting people based on their income and spending:

When we frame the value of people through their ability to toil in fields, clean houses, cook in kitchens, and care for children, we as a country are choosing to value their work over their humanity. We must choose different in order to do better.

It’s Time For iOS To Allow Apps From Outside the App Store

Recently, Apple started removing VPN apps from their iOS App Store in China in order to comply with local laws. That may be something they have to do as a business, but it’s time to allow apps from developers outside of the App Store. Gruber:

To me, the more interesting question isn’t whether Apple should be selling its products in China, but rather whether Apple should continue to make the App Store the only way to install apps on iOS devices. A full-on “install whatever you want” policy isn’t going to happen, but something like Gatekeeper on MacOS could.

Keep iOS App Store-only by default. Add a preference in Settings to allow apps to be downloaded from “identified developers” (those with an Apple developer certificate) in addition to the App Store. In that scenario, the App Store is no longer a single choke point for all native apps on the device.

The App Store was envisioned as a means for Apple to maintain strict control over the software running on iOS devices. But in a totalitarian state like China (or perhaps Russia, next), it becomes a source of control for the totalitarian regime.

Gruber doesn’t think this will happen, but it should. These pocket computers are supremely important to communications and it’s well past time for Apple to open things up.

Sick Crowdfunding

Step 1) Never increase the minimum wage, which peaked in 1968 at (adjusted for 2014 inflation) $10
Step 2) Strip healthcare away from 32 million people even when they get it through their workplace.
Step 3) Invest in tech startups and profit on suffering!

Bloomberg’s Suzanne Wooley:

Crowdfunding platforms such as GoFundMe and YouCaring have turned sympathy for Americans drowning in medical expenses into a cottage industry. Now Republican efforts in Congress to repeal and replace Obamacare could swell the ranks of the uninsured and spur the business of helping people raise donations online to pay for health care.

[…]

With enough volume, the business of helping people raise money for medical care has a lot of profit potential. GoFundMe takes 5 percent of each donation, 2.9 percent goes to payment processing, and there’s a 30¢ transaction fee. Smaller sites, such as Fundly and FundRazr, charge much the same. YouCaring donors pay just a 2.9 percent processing fee plus the 30¢.

[…]

For more and more Americans, vying in a popularity contest for a limited supply of funds and sympathy may be the only way to pay the doctors and stay afloat. House Republicans passed a bill last month to replace the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. As is, the Congressional Budget Office estimates, it would leave 23 million more Americans uninsured in 2026 than under the ACA. Even a law just resembling the bill is likely to raise the cost of health care for older and sicker Americans and for those with preexisting conditions, bolstering the medical crowdfunding business.

Call your represenatives.

Vox: “The Senate GOP health bill in one sentence: poor people pay more for worse insurance”

This is the single most important issue for many Americans today. The Russian interference into our elections is bad, but this could be imminently devastating to anyone who needs their health care to actually function. Ezra Klein:

If all this sounds a bit in the weeds, here’s the bottom line: Low-income Americans get less money to buy crummier insurance. In the GOP bill, the measure of what is affordable has gone up and the definition of what counts as decent insurance has gone down.

Gene B. Sperling and Michael Shapiro go over how this version of the health bill could destroy coverage for pre-existing conditions in The Atlantic:

As they argue for the bill, Republicans are going to claim that it will not allow insurance plans to discriminate against people because they have a pre-existing condition. But that just isn’t the case. The Republican plan may not allow insurers to discriminate against a pre-existing condition through the front door, but they’ve created a backdoor way in.

Call your senators.

The Times’ Catalog of Dear Leader’s Lies

David Leonhardt and Stuart A. Thompson:

Many Americans have become accustomed to President Trump’s lies. But as regular as they have become, the country should not allow itself to become numb to them. So we have catalogued nearly every outright lie he has told publicly since taking the oath of office.

[…]

There is simply no precedent for an American president to spend so much time telling untruths. Every president has shaded the truth or told occasional whoppers. No other president — of either party — has behaved as Trump is behaving. He is trying to create an atmosphere in which reality is irrelevant.

Great work, I’d love to see everything from the campaign as well but I’m very happy to see a major news organization calling the Liar-in-Chief a liar instead of using mealy-mouthed words to pretend that it isn’t intentional.

Trump Stole Money Donated For Kids Fighting Cancer

Dan Alexander with Forbes:

 The best part about all this, according to Eric Trump, is the charity’s efficiency: Because he can get his family’s golf course for free and have most of the other costs donated, virtually all the money contributed will go toward helping kids with cancer. “We get to use our assets 100% free of charge,” Trump tells Forbes.

That’s not the case. In reviewing filings from the Eric Trump Foundation and other charities, it’s clear that the course wasn’t free–that the Trump Organization received payments for its use, part of more than $1.2 million that has no documented recipients past the Trump Organization. Golf charity experts say the listed expenses defy any reasonable cost justification for a one-day golf tournament.

Additionally, the Donald J. Trump Foundation, which has come under previous scrutiny for self-dealing and advancing the interests of its namesake rather than those of charity, apparently used the Eric Trump Foundation to funnel $100,000 in donations into revenue for the Trump Organization.

And while donors to the Eric Trump Foundation were told their money was going to help sick kids, more than $500,000 was re-donated to other charities, many of which were connected to Trump family members or interests, including at least four groups that subsequently paid to hold golf tournaments at Trump courses.

A Direct Line to Compromise

Our days aren’t complete without the latest aside in the ongoing disaster. This time it’s a secret phone line that Trump’s son-in-law wanted to set up between Trump’s transition team and the Kremlin using Russia’s technology. Ellen Nakashima, Adam Entous, and Greg Miller for the Washington Post:

Jared Kushner and Russia’s ambassador to Washington discussed the possibility of setting up a secret and secure communications channel between Trump’s transition team and the Kremlin, using Russian diplomatic facilities in an apparent move to shield their pre-inauguration discussions from monitoring, according to U.S. officials briefed on intelligence reports.

Ambassador Sergei Kislyak reported to his superiors in Moscow that Kushner, son-in-law and confidant to then-President-elect Trump, made the proposal during a meeting on Dec. 1 or 2 at Trump Tower, according to intercepts of Russian communications that were reviewed by U.S. officials. Kislyak said Kushner suggested using Russian diplomatic facilities in the United States for the communications.

The meeting also was attended by Michael Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser.

The Post’s Robert Costa also has the scoop on the Senate Intelligence Committee’s request for “…all documents, emails and phone records going back to his campaign’s launch…” from the Trump campaign:

The request to Trump’s political operatives represents the first time that Trump’s official campaign structure has been drawn into the Senate committee’s ongoing bipartisan investigation. That investigation is separate from the federal probe being led by the Justice Department’s special counsel, former FBI director Robert S. Mueller III.