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"What Would Change Your Mind About President Trump?"


  1. Release meaningful tax records

  2. Release meaningful health records

  3. Promise that he is not using psychoactive drugs

  4. Actually divest; do not run afoul of the emoluments clause

  5. Full accounting of overseas business relationships, debts, etc.

  6. Do his job without the help of his children

  7. Sincerely denounce white supremacists, white nationalists, KKK, neo-Nazis, and the alt-right

  8. Demonstrate that he understands what consent is, what sexual assault is, and demonstrate that he sincerely regrets (for the appropriate reasons) his history of assault and harassment

  9. Acknowledge that it was unprecedented in American history and completely inappropriate for a presidential candidate to threaten to investigate, prosecute, and jail his opponent

  10. Acknowledge that anthropogenic climate change is real

  11. Acknowledge that science is a good way of understanding reality in general

  12. Acknowledge that the job he is about to take requires a degree of self-restraint; demonstrate that self-restraint

  13. Sincerely apologize for mocking a person's disability

  14. Sincerely apologize for incorrectly asserting that thousands of Muslim Americans celebrated 9/11

  15. Sincerely apologize for calling an entire group of people rapists and murderers

  16. Sincerely apologize for mocking John McCain's time as a POW, and acknowledge that his comments effectively disparaged all POWs

  17. Sincerely apologize for mocking the parents of a dead soldier

  18. Sincerely apologize for proposing an immigration ban on an entire religion

  19. Acknowledge that there was no widespread voter fraud in the election, and sincerely apologize for stoking fears based on wild conspiracy theories

  20. Sincerely apologize for lowering the standard of discourse in American politics

  21. Condemn Russia's human rights record

  22. Commit to a no-first-strike nuclear policy, which would be unprecedented but also prudent and appropriate given his past comments regarding the use of nuclear weapons

  23. Demonstrate a sincere and nuanced belief, grounded in facts and reflecting some amount of deep thought, about literally anything real and of actual substance that pertains to his job as president

  24. Stop tweeting like a maniac

  25. Speak coherently



I had also included specific recommendations like, "rescind impending appointment of ExxonMobil CEO to secretary of state," but those actions are of a different variety. (Although they do reflect symptoms of the larger problem). There is no model for any presidency like Donald Trump's anywhere in modern American history. He can propose a bunch of specific policies that I love — Medicare for all! Public land protections! — but none of this would change my mind about Trump.

He is fundamentally different, and the problems are bigger than just policy.

The ways in which Trump are fundamentally different represent real and genuine threats to meaningful self-governance in this country. No amount of good policy will undo those threats. Good policy proposals will change my mind about Trump's policy positions, but they will not change my mind about Trump himself.

In an earlier election thread, we discussed the remarks of former Justice Souter about civic ignorance and how a democracy dies. I think it is worth quoting Souter here:

You can't keep [a democratic republic] in ignorance. I don't worry about our losing republican government in the United States because I'm afraid of a foreign invasion. I don't worry about it because I think there is going to be a coup by the military as has happened in some other places.

What I worry about is that when problems are not addressed, people will not know who is responsible. And when the problems get bad enough, as they might do, for example, with another serious terrorist attack, as they might do with another financial meltdown, some one person will come forward and say, "Give me total power and I will solve this problem."

That is how the Roman republic fell. Augustus became emperor not because he arrested the Roman senate. He became emperor because he promised he would solve problems that were not being solved.

If we know who is responsible, I have enough faith in the American people to demand performance from those responsible.

If we don't know, we will stay away from the polls. We will not demand it. And the day will come when somebody will come forward and and we and the government will in effect say, "Take the ball and run with it. Do what you have to do."

That is the way democracy dies. And if something is not done to improve the level of civic knowledge, that is what you should worry about at night.


Souter's remarks about Augustus describe someone exactly like Trump. "I alone can fix it," he said during a scripted speech at the Republican National Convention. This was not some off-the-cuff word salad. This is his actual message.

Donald Trump is different because he represents the elevation of civic ignorance as a virtue. His campaign represents a true contempt for meaningful debate. The constant theater of insults has diminished the body politic's regard for facts, reality, nuance, and self-reflection. In short, there are two things that could change my mind about Trump:

1.) It turns out he is a totally different person than all available facts indicate.
2.) I am severely mentally ill and have imagined all of this.

The Atlantic article is part of the problem. "It turns out he really doesn't order our troops to commit war crimes," will not change my mind about Trump. The fact that he has merely suggested that we should kill the family members of our enemies is horrifying. I mean, how is that not yet fucked up enough? When someone writes "I will change my mind if he doesn't commit war crimes" in a magazine like The Atlantic, civic ignorance takes another step forward, and democracy gets a little sicker.
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boredomfestival
172 days ago
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Open letter to my family in Ohio: I am still coming home for Thanksgiving this year

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Dear Mom and Pop,

This was going to be an awkward year for us from the start. Thanksgiving is normally a time when we, two dozen immigrant Jews and first-generation Americans, come together to eat a turkey stuffed with oranges, served with a side of smoked fish and a dozen competing salads.

Before the election, I thought the greatest thing that would divide our dinner table would be my recently adopted vegetarianism. But us Jews are all about dietary restrictions. Eight breadless days of weight loss every year during Passover. Fasting from food and water every year for the day of atonement. Two sets of plates for Shabbat and for everyday. I was certain that refusing meat wouldn’t stop me from feeling embraced and loved at the table.

A russian salad feast courtesy of my friend Andrey Petrov

But then last week you voted for Trump. Jewish refugees from the Ukraine now living in Ohio voted for Trump. You have told me several times that Obama is the worst president in our lifetime. And so you voted for Trump.

This letter would not have been written if this were just about politics. Both of you have always voted conservatively. And I wouldn’t be this livid if it were just about privatization of health care, or import tariffs, or the unchecked negative externalities of infrastructure spending on energy extraction. The political tide goes in and out. How we run the country makes for a spirited debate over the Thanksgiving dinner table and I welcome our family’s contrary viewpoints. But this is not about politics.

Voting for Trump is clearly a vote for hate. I know you voted against Hillary, and not “in favor” of Trump, but the action is the same. Your vote signals to me that you see our fellow citizens as less than human. History shows where this leads and history is not just words in a textbook for us. You are choosing to ignore our past.

Donald Trump Says He’d ‘Absolutely’ Require Muslims to Register

We would have seven times as many cousins if it weren’t for the Nazis. You helped elect a fascist and are now complicit in what’s going to happen to families both in and outside of our country.

It is not unreasonable for people to think that fascists, if given power and an attempt to govern, will moderate their views. But history repeats itself.

“Several reliable, well-informed sources confirmed the idea that Hitler’s anti-Semitism was not so genuine or violent as it sounded, and that he was merely using anti-Semitic propaganda as a bait to catch masses of followers and keep them aroused, enthusiastic, and in line for the time when his organization is perfected and sufficiently powerful to be employed effectively for political purposes.”
“You can’t expect the masses to understand or appreciate your finer real aims. You must feed the masses with cruder morsels and ideas like anti-Semitism. It would be politically all wrong to tell them the truth about where you really are leading them.”

I take Trump at his hate-filled words. Last time we spoke, you did not. You said he probably wouldn’t be fulfilling any of his promises, like the ones to register Muslims or deport Latinos. However, even if you do believe that his campaign was only hype, you still ignored despicable behavior and rhetoric. Normalizing racism is itself an act of racism.

Some positions are binary. You either care about the protection of minorities or you do not. I have friends now who will stand in the same shoes that my grandparents stood in before. And you knew, regardless of your enthusiasm for Trump’s economic policies, that these people would suffer. The increasing number of graffitied swastikas, along with other vile behaviors now edging into the mainstream, are the kind of atrocities your vote was supposed to suppress.

You taught me that my highest responsibility as a Jew is to never forget, to fight against discrimination. This was a common refrain told to me during seven years of Hebrew school. I take that responsibility seriously and that is what I am trying to do now. Elie Wiesel said “We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

I understand why you voted to put Trump in office. It’s just hard for me to forgive you for it. And now is not the time to give bigotry a pass. I’m trying to live by the values you taught me, which is why I am only asking you to take our President at his word. And when he tells you of his bigoted promises to force members of a religion to register, you should be outraged.

I am coming home this Thanksgiving and it’s going to be painful, most of all for me. I try to be empathetic with how you feel about the state of our country, but what I do not understand is how you think that voting for a racist and hate-filled demogogue with no political experience is going to promote growth and peace. At best, it will alienate over half of this country, and at worst, history will repeat itself.

I am coming home because I want to believe the love that brings us together at Thanksgiving is strong enough to not only include a vegetarian, but also strong enough to allow you to understand my perspective and possibly even change your minds. I need my family with me in this fight.

Your son,
Samuel

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boredomfestival
216 days ago
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217 days ago
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2 public comments
acdha
217 days ago
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It hurts that this had to be written
Washington, DC
samuel
218 days ago
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I just wrote this letter to my family. Thanks to those of you who helped convince me to do the hard thing and go back and tell them in person how I feel.
The Haight in San Francisco
codesujal
218 days ago
Good luck with the trip home. I have no idea how I'm going to deal with this when the time comes. (I'm living overseas and won't be moving back until right at the holidays, so I get a pass this year). (And this was beautifully written.)
wreichard
218 days ago
Good luck, Samuel, and good on you for believing there's even a possibility of understanding. It makes me think of the profound book I Am Asher Lev, which I read recently, and how communities work with their differences. It takes great courage. Thank you for sharing this.
scm7sc
217 days ago
This will be me in a few days too (with a family of trump supporters) although I won't be around Jews (I will be the only Jew though) but still celebrating pilgrims who were escaping for their religious freedom. I am sure they may just discount me for my background and we will avoid the subject but who knows. I am bringing some strong beer.. let us know how yours go as I would like to compare notes. Oh and I have just been through Brexit so to a degree I am dealing with deja vu of sitting with a family with a huge elephant in the room.
adamcole
215 days ago
My love to you and yours, Sam.
trosesf
207 days ago
Samuel, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for writing that letter to your family, and most of all, maybe, for sharing it with all of us. It's a beautifully written letter. I am so proud of you for being who you are, for starting and continuing to show up and nurture the incredible NewsBlur. You are such a good person, Samuel, you have a depth to you that eludes understanding. I wish you love, and peace too, and tenacity to persevere in these terrible days. Thank you so very much.

Free Software, Meritocracy, and why I try to listen when 'SJWs' speak

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Three quarters of a lifetime ago, I was a bullied fat kid in elementary school. Picked last for sports teams, if I bothered to even try playing with the other kids. Unaware of the rules while everyone else seemed to know innately how to play baseball, or soccer, or football, or whatever the game of the day was.

From their point of view, those athletic youths were probaby practicing a meritocracy: why would you pick the asthmatic fatty who couldn't even remember to dribble when playing basketball? I hadn't earned it. Those team captains knew the rules like they knew how to breathe. Me, I can go learn the rules on my own and lose a few pounds and then maybe I'll get picked to play.

In my teens, through BBSes and later the Internet I found communities where I was more accepted and where my computer skills gave me a measure of status. Many years later it's easy to imagine that I learned those skills effortlessly. Some of that may be an inherent aptitude, but the reality is probably that I learned much more from those around me than I realized.

Oh and did I mention that all along I was growing up in a dysfunctional household with a dad who was prone to angry verbal outbursts, something that I learned to imitate and have still not entirely managed to outgrow over twenty years after I cut him out of my life?

So anyway from the mid nineties through the present, I became a part of Hacker culture, Free Software culture, and specifically a part of the LinuxCNC project. During this time, we patted ourselves on the back because we were doing Important Work, because we were Revolutionary Thinkers who had seen the flaw in commercial software and closed development methods. I guess that only by the narrowest of margins did I avoid reading Ayn Rand and styling myself a libertarian and an objectivist.

What did I learn from my idols, people like Linus Torvalds and Eric Raymond? I learned that some people are such bad software developers that it would be better if they were run over by a bus than that they ever offer a contribution to Free Software again. And that as a result, it was their right (and mine) to verbally abuse those contributors until they stopped wasting our time.

What did I bring to LinuxCNC? An echo of childhood bullying, a habit of verbally abusing the people around me, and the idea that I was essentially born an elite hacker.

I'd like to think that I've never written anything truly vile and insulting on a Free Software mailing list or chat group, but in reality I'm sure I've crossed lines that I shouldn't have. More recently, my unmanaged irritation at "noobs" cuased me to largely shut down as a participant in the LinuxCNC community since if I took insults off the table the only course of action I knew was to remain silent and withdrawn.

And now, at age 40, I'm seriously reflecting on this for the first time. And what I see is that way into my adulthood, I'm more or less repeating playground bullying techniques against people who don't instictively configure their text editor to insert 4 spaces when they press tab, who don't know they have to "sign off" their commits or write documentation or a test or whatever road block I want to put up when they have a contribution to offer. I got to the top of something, and I haven't used that position to bring other people up with me, but to finally exercise a little power over people who are beneath me and less than me.

In short, I've been a bully and an abuser.

Why am I finally figuring this out now? I am sure it's a confluence of many things, but one of those things is how the so-called "Social Justice Warriors" (SJWs) have started to make their voices heard in our communities. Ironically, their voices have become louder for me the more that is said against them.

They say, build an inclusive community. Build everyone up, even first-timers who don't know all the scret handshakes. Don't accept that you're playing a zero-sum game where you have to tear everyone else down.

They say, show this by your conduct. Recognize that there are groups who are traditionally excluded from your community. Act in a way that not only avoids treating them unfairly, but which avoids even the appearance of treating them unfairly. Don't set up impossible barriers and pretend you would have been able to surmount them yourself.

I want to practice these ideals. I will fail a lot before I succeed, if I ever do succeed. But so many voices are now being raised, fellow people who want to succeed at this project and who will do so by lifting me up and who I have a duty to lift up in turn. Social Justice Warriors, thank you for your constructive criticism of the way I've been participating in Free Software development and generally as a person. I'm working on an updated and improved version that incorporates your feedback. Let me know what you think.

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boredomfestival
569 days ago
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Nailed it.
popular
569 days ago
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tante
568 days ago
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Free Software, Meritocracy and why I listen when "SJW"s speak
Oldenburg/Germany
digdoug
568 days ago
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I've caught myself being the elitist abusive asshole a few times. Gonna send this to some cohorts
Louisville, KY
notadoctor
569 days ago
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I love an honest mea culpa
Oakland, CA
nussey
569 days ago
I respect this man's humility and courage to be vulnerable and honest.
skittone
569 days ago
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SJWs aka "considerate people"

New Caving Gear Company Offers Convertible Caving Suits

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Convertible caving suits and knee pads are the initial offerings of a new Californian caving gear company that has just opened for business.
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boredomfestival
770 days ago
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A real solution to the deprecated YouTube API

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YouTube, owned by Google, deprecated their v2 APIs on April 20th, 2015, which means that RSS news readers can no longer watch for new videos. What a bummer!

Except it’s not at all a big deal because here at NewsBlur we’re making sure that your videos keep coming in. Previously enterprising users setup hacks and workarounds for the API, which was a somewhat tedious solution as you had to update each feed and prone to breaking in the future.

But there’s good news today because NewsBlur now has a custom-built solution for YouTube videos. All of your existing YouTube RSS feeds are automatically ported over to the new YouTube video fetcher.

And that’s not all. The improved YouTube video fetcher now displays a big embedded video so you can watch the video right in NewsBlur.

To subscribe to new YouTube channels, just enter in the URL of the channel in the Add Site popover.

When Google takes away your tools, NewsBlur builds them better than before.

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boredomfestival
788 days ago
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popular
788 days ago
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15 public comments
sirshannon
752 days ago
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When Google takes away your tools, NewsBlur builds them better than before.
sarcozona
785 days ago
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<3
stavrosg
787 days ago
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...And this is why I'm subscribed since basically the beginning :D
Rodos, Greece
jimwise
787 days ago
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Heh.
jlvanderzwan
788 days ago
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.
chattymac
788 days ago
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Ya same here. Very cool
redheadedfemme
788 days ago
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How cool! Thank you Samuel.
aaronwe
788 days ago
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I don't even subscribe to YouTube videos in NewsBlur, but I'm going to now, just because Samuel's so awesome.
Denver
nevergirl
788 days ago
Ditto! I had no idea this was even a thing.. subscribing immediately!
gazuga
788 days ago
I subscribe to several, and thought I'd have to delete them all. Now they're not only usable again, they're an improved experience. Down with Google, up with NewsBlur!
levenzhang
780 days ago
I subscrib
levenzhang
778 days ago
test reply
Jashugan
788 days ago
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You win Newsblur
eldritchconundrum
788 days ago
Excellent!
Cthulhux
788 days ago
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InoReader had it before. :p

No, seriously, one more reason to love NewsBlur. Good job!
Fledermausland
lelandpaul
788 days ago
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Newsblur: The killer app for YouTube, apparently.
San Francisco, CA
digdoug
788 days ago
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"When Google takes away your tools, NewsBlur builds them better than before."

Thanks for considering US the customers and not random ad-buying robots.
Louisville, KY
Brstrk
788 days ago
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Now that's how you solve all the things.
AineLindae
788 days ago
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That's awesome.
denubis
788 days ago
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woot.
Sydney, Australia

Harmful Gotos, Premature Optimizations, and Programming Myths

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