A Progressively Longer and Longer List Of Coronavirus Mutual Aid Relief Funds

Now that everyone is under lockdown for the coronavirus outbreak, I wanted to find a way of putting myself to good use, and one of thing I do pretty well is making progressively longer list of things. So here’s a list of mutual aid funds to help people directly affected harmed by the coronavirus, either as front line workers, people who have been put on furlough, or people who have lost their jobs. Please to donate to one. If you have funds you’d like me to add please feel free to suggest one.

Big Doors has an extensive list of mutual aid funds, plus resources on how to set them up

Scalawag offers a list of Coronavirus Mutual Aid Funds in the South

It’s Going Down has an extensive list of mutual aid projects across the countryIt’s Going Down has an extensive list of mutual aid projects across the country

The Restaurant Opportunities Center has and extensive list of mutual aid funds and petitions to sign, including:

HAA Has Compiled A Comprehensive List Of Resources For Artists

The Domestic Worker Coronavirus Care Fund

The Nail Salon Worker Resilience Fund

Meals on Wheels

One Fair Wage Emergency Fund

The Restaurant Workers Community Foundation Covid-19 Emergency Relief Fund

No Kid Hungry Fund

Greater PGH Restaurant Workers Fund

PGH Artist Emergency Fund

Pittsburgh Covid-19 LGBTQIA Emergency Relief Fund

Pittsburgh Mutual Aid Spreadsheet

Pitt Mutual Aid

Pittsburgh Virtual Tip Jar

Pittsburgh Stage Employee Bailout

NYC United Against Coronavirus Information

Portland Coronavirus Mutual Aid Fund

American Guild of Musical Artists Relief Fund

Blues Foundation HART Fund

Convertkit Creative Fund

COVID-19 Mutual Aid Fund for LGBTQI+ BIPOC Folks (GoFundMe)

Equal Sound Corona Relief Fund

Freelance Coop Emergency Fund

Jazz Foundation of America Musicians’ Emergency Fund

NYC-DSA Mutual Aid COVID-19 Relief Fund

 

The Coronavirus Outbreak Is Proving All Of Bernie Sander’s Arguments Right. I Know Because I HAD Those Arguments 3 Weeks Ago.

Back in mid-February during the Nevada caucus I was out canvassing for Bernie with a group of people. We were going through some pretty nice suburbs, knocking on doors and trying to get people out for the Primary on Super Tuesday.

Eventually I got to the last house on my route. I knocked on the front door and out stepped a guy in a “Blue Lives Matter” hat. Apparently the last owner had moved, but the guy seemed game to talk anyways. I knew the guy was just leading me on to waste my time, but I was already done with my route and I still had to wait for the other person I was out with, so I figured “hell, why not.”

So we started to talk, and naturally the first thing the guy asked about was healthcare. He kept asking “why should my family and I pay for someone else’s healthcare if they’re an immigrant or don’t work” and so forth.

As it happened, I had just been caught in China during the initial Coronavirus outbreak, and after several weeks of self quarantine the epidemic was still fresh in my mind. So I told him “well, let’s say there’s a highly infectious disease out there. If we don’t have universal insurance that means that guy can’t get tested or treated, so he’ll just stay out there getting sick and infecting other people. That’s not just his problem for him, it’ll puts everyone else around him in danger, including your family.”

“But won’t that be expensive?” he asked.

“Well if that disease because a pandemic, it’d cause huge disruptions that would probably cost us way more than it would have cost to just pay for that guy’s treatment. 

italy-lockdownOnly a truly universal system can prevent that.

“Well what about waiting lists” he argued, “aren’t those a big problem with government healthcare?.”

“Have you ever used private insurance?” I asked, “It’s a mess, you have to wait months for anything to get worked out, then your coverage is based on some arbitrary decision someone makes because nobody can figure out any of it. You may find out months later you’re getting charged thousands of dollars for essentially nothing.”

“But it’s still like that with Obamacare”

“Yes, and Obama made a big mistake by trying to work through the complex, inefficient private system, so now most people just see it as a big confusing thing thing they hate. Medicare for All doesn’t have that problem, it’s a simple straight forward system which makes getting treatment easy for everyone.”

“Yeah, but look at the VA” he said, “It’s a mess”

“It’s a mess largely because of funding cuts, under staffing and privatization. The answer there is to shore up the VA, not tear it up through privatization.” 

“Okay,” he said, “but won’t all this stifle innovation?”

“There’s hardly any innovation as is” I answered, “drug companies mostly just research minor variations on profitable drugs, like anti-cholesterol medication. On the other hand, antivirals and vaccines are usually pretty unprofitable, so they rely heavily on government funding. And even when private companies do want to make them, they charge exorbitant prices for them. So you either can’t get them, or you can’t afford them. So where does that get you?”big pharma

“Okay,” he said, “but you can’t apply this logic to everything. What about housing? Why should I pay to put someone in government housing when I’m having trouble paying for my mortgage?”

“Well, besides basic empathy, having a large homeless population often costs than you’d pay if you just put them up somewhere. Like, to go back to the disease thing, how do you quarantine people when they’re getting evicted from their homes? How do they stay healthy and practice basic hygiene if their water is getting shut off?”

And it went like this for a while. Eventually we got to immigration and he threw me off his property after he tried to argue Sweden had no immigrants, and if they did they’d all be rapists. Again, I was kind of expectIng that, the guy was never arguing in good faith and wasn’t going to be convinced of anything no matter how tactful I was.

But the seeds were planted.

 

Now, Three Weeks Later…

… we’re in the midsts of a giant pandemic that threatens to kill hundreds of thousands of people because the feudal private insurance system can’t figure out if people should be covered for treatment or charged thousands of dollars. The disease is spreading largely because people can’t afford to take sick leave or they’re too scared they might get fired. Capitalism is exploding because the private healthcare system can’t handle the situation, and neither can the government who’s own public health system has been hollowed out in the interest of budget cuts and privatization.  Roughly 11 trillion dollars has disappeared in less than a month as the stock market crashed, far more than Medicare for All could ever have cost, while a $1.5 trillion dollar bailout to investors evaporated in seconds because a system that only looks after people at the top can’t address things like this that mostly affect poor people.CoronaStocks

This is a crisis that exposes all the vulnerabilities of not only our private healthcare system, but also financial capitalism in general and the political system that serves it. It’s exactly the thing that Bernie Sanders has built his entire campaign, nay, career warning us about. He argued consistently for measures like Medicare for All and meaningful economic reform that would have prevented it, even as his opponents, especially Joe Biden, threw out bad faith argument after bad faith argument about how we can’t afford it or how it’s a bridge to far and so on. Meanwhile, their whole idea that we can get ‘things done’ by parring down our requests turned out to be totally wrong, as Republicans have time and time again refused to implement even the most modest measures to address the situation. Bernie has been 100% right on this, and his critics have been 100% wrong. Even the most delusional partisan should be able to see that.

So now my mind is going back to that guy I was arguing with a few weeks back. I wonder what he’s making of this. In all likelihood he’s still in denial about the growing crisis, but as it gets more and more serious cracks must be starting to break through. He’s going to start to get worried about his kids and parents. He’s going to start to wonder what he’d have to deal with if one if one of them gets sick. He’ll wonder who might get them sick, where, and why. He’ll wonder what closing the borders would actually accomplish when the virus is already inside the country. Maybe he’ll start to wonder if it really better to just give everyone healthcare. Maybe he’s seeing his savings getting destroyed and thinking, “gee, maybe it would be cheaper if we’d just paid for tests and treatment for everyone right off the bat.” Maybe all the seeds of all the arguments I was giving that guy are starting to germinate and he’s realizing “huh, maybe all that made sense after all.”

And if that guy can get it, anyone can get it.

Nominating Joe Biden Would Be A Political Disaster With Consequences That Would Last For Decades

We’re at a crucial point, with the Coronavirus, with the economy collapsing and America’s political future hanging in the balance. At this time, Joe Biden seems poised to the Democratic nomination. To this I have to warn: do NOT nominate Joe Biden. It would be an absolute disaster, not just in 2020 (though it would be), but for decades to come.

To explain, I’m going to work backwards, starting with the long term consequences I’m certain of, (specifically the political ones since that’s what most people seem to care about), then get to the potentially more disastrous immediate ones.

 

Joe Biden’s Political Strategy Ensures A Political Catastrophe For The Democrats In The 2022 Midterms, The 2024 Election And Decades To Come

Joe Biden’s candidacy has been banking on (relatively) low youth voter turn and winning over centrist Republicans and Republican leaning candidates alienated by Trump. I’ll leave aside whether this could work in 2020, but it would be a disaster in 2022 and a total catastrophe in 2024.

First, to state the obvious, you can’t base an election strategy entirely on ignoring young voters in favor of old ones for the simple fact that older voters die and are replaced by younger voters. As a general rule, younger voters are farther to the left, and despite expectations that they’ll moderate more than ten years of political experience indicates they have not. By now the “young voters” who Bernie wins in landslide with are anyone under 50. Contrary to the popular narrative, they are showing up for Bernie, they’re just simply getting swamped by generally high turnout and discouraged by long waiting lines. However they won’t show up if you don’t give them a reason.

And you can’t simply scold these voters into submission. As a general rule, partisan loyalty counts less for younger voters (the vast majority of whom are independent). And since voting takes time they don’t have, especially if they’re low income you need to make voting and political activism worth their time. And this is to say nothing of creating generations of young activists who will have internalized the message that the Democratic party is not a viable vehicle for enacting change because its complacent leadership will just keep enacting arbitrary rule changes to shut them out.

Then there’s the second part of the equation, the “alienated Republicans” and wealthy suburbanites. Do I even need to explain why that’s a dumb long term strategy? Even if they are turned off by Trump (which large majorities aren’t), they’re just going to shift back to being Republicans afterwards. They don’t like Biden, or you. At best it would be a marriage of convenience that would fall apart, entirely to your disadvantage.

And to add to this, with Trump gone the central argument for Biden disappears as well. Republicans will be glad to turn every problem Trump created against Biden, and it’ll work. We can be pretty certain of this because that’s exactly what they did to Obama. The only way to counter it is to actually have loyal supporters and a convincing counter argument. Biden has neither.

 

A Biden Administration Would Be A Disaster For Progressive Policy

Biden has often been sold as a person who’s more likely to actually get things done than Bernie. First off, not only is this an entirely unsupported argument. Bernie does as well as Biden in the polls, he has a better political organization help candidates down ballot, and he’s an accomplished legislator. Moreover, to the extent that Republicans would Sanders a socialist and block everything he’d try, they’d just do that to Biden too. We can say this with absolute certainty because they have done this before.

No, you have to justify this in terms of the type of policies they’d enact, and in every way Biden is a much worse choice. His stated policies are not even remotely sufficient to handle the issues of climate change, healthcare, economic inequality, racial injustice, gender equality and immigration, among other things.

It’d be too long to get into every policy area, but let’s focus on something straight forward like healthcare, which is especially key given the coronavirus. Biden has consistently positioned himself to block Medicare for All in favor of relying on Obamacare. This is a terrible idea because it leaves in place all the vulnerabilities and iniquities of the modern healthcare system. For example, the patchwork of private insurers with their own byzantine rules have been a central reason why we haven’t been able to get the extensive testing needed to stop the coronavirus. Medicare for All resolves that problem, Biden’s plan would not.

You can’t justify this by simply say, as Biden has, that Medicare for All is too expensive. Beyond the fact that Medicare for All saves money, the stock market crash brought on by the fact that people can’t get the testing needed to stop a pandemic has destroyed far more wealth than it would have cost to simply pay for their healthcare. We are living the exact disaster Medicare for All is designed to prevent.

It would be generous to say Biden is only offering half measures. In reality he’s offering measures that predominantly reinforce problems and build in numerous hidden strings that are designed to not only work against the average person. For example, one policy he’s suggested, providing no interest loans to working class people during quarantine based work stoppages, sounds like a good idea at first. But then you realize since those people won’t be working they’ll be losing a lot of income they can’t get back, so you’ll just have a bunch of people taking on massive amounts of debt they can’t pay back. Only policies a moratorium on mortgages, rents and utilities are certain to help low income people long term. Bernie supports such policies. Biden does not.

“But surely a Biden administration would see to it those people are helped?” Not with Treasury Secretary Jamie Daimon they don’t.The Global Financial Context: James Dimon

And that’s another issue, Biden has already committed himself to stacking his cabinet with corporate insiders and inept apparatchiks who will ensure that, even if his policies are better his policies broadly conform to a liberal agenda, they will be designed in the most putative, oligarchic way possible. And again, we can say for certain that that’ll happen because that’s what people like Timothy Geitner spent their entire tenure doing last time.

Biden would, at best, drag us indolently through a series of increasingly serious crises, never actually resolving someone until he gives us someone just as bad as Biden and potentially much more competent.

 

Biden is the Only Candidate Who Could Lose Against Trump

Now I’m fairly certain a ham sandwich could beat Trump by this point. But if there’s anyone who could lose to Trump, it’s Biden. The man is a walking time bomb of barely concealed scandals and toxic positions. Moreover, he’s the perfect foil for Trump to play against, a consummate insider who made his career glad handing lobbyists.

Trump would endlessly hit him on his recording on NAFTA, proposing social security cuts, his bankruptcy bill and a host of a half dozen other things. Then he’d hit Biden with accusations of corruption and DNC vote rigging in the primaries, along with claims that he’s going senile.

These accusations will will fester, month after month, picked at by a media wondering why Biden rarely does public appearances and eager to speculate on what exactly Biden and his family have been doing behind closed doors all these years.

This will happen whether or not the primaries are wrapped up now or if they keep going. If anything, a longer primary would inoculate Biden against the claims if he had a good response, but it’s obvious he doesn’t. You may dismiss the criticisms, and maybe that’s enough to get him through the primary, but it won’t get him through the election. People who aren’t Democratic partisans will take the claims seriously, because they are serious. You’ll cry foul and accuse people of being Russian bots, but no one will care. On the contrary, they’ll and think that you’re hacks who’ve allowed their brains to be twisted by partisan loyalty, just like the Republicans. And they’ll be right.

And this will all come on top of Biden’s strategy, which again seems designed to be as unresponsive and alienating to young voters and the left as it thinks it can get away with. There’s already a substantial number of these people who refuse to vote for Biden, and an even larger number who will simply not put in the donations or man hours to carry out his campaign. You may claim you don’t need these people, but that’s horribly irresponsible.

 

And y’know what? I will never vote for Joe Biden

It’s not because I’m lazy, I knock on doors, donate and engage in activism as much as I can reasonably be expected to as a person with a full time job and family.

It’s not because I don’t appreciate how bad Trump is, I’ve literally spent 3 years, (163 weeks) maintaining a list of everything awful the man has done. I know how serious it is right now. I’M that serious.

Nor is it because I’m “insulated” or “spoiled” whatever. My wife is an immigrant who could just as easily lose her status, my job is directly affected by Trump, I have family dependent on Medicare and Medicaid and so on and so forth. If anything, I’m uniquely affected by Trump.

It’s definitely not because I don’t care about people less fortunate than me, I’ll still be plenty active on plenty of far more fruitful projects, political or otherwise, that can help them more directly. Quite frankly, I should have be spending more time doing those things anyways.

It’s because I know a dead end and waste of time when I see one. Biden is political carbon monoxide who will simply take up space until he suffocates me. He’s not worth a second of my time.

There is nothing you can say that will convince me to vote for Biden, I’ve heard it all. Call me a traitor if you like, I don’t care, you’re appeals to strict partisanship for its own sake mean nothing to me. I owe the Democratic Party nothing and my support needs to be earned. I don’t care if you resent me for this, I don’t need you to like me. What I need you to do is think about how many otherwise people like me you’ll be hearing this sort of thing from, and how long you can keep this before you start to realize you’re shooting yourself in the foot if you nominate Biden. At this point it’s clear that’s the only thing the Democratic Party will respond to.

The 2020 “Everything Terrible Trump Has Done” Year End Summary Report

Overview

Since the earliest days of Donald Trump’s Presidency, we have attempted to catalog all of the harmful actions committed by his administration. Furthermore, by categorizing these actions by policy areas and scoring their relative impact, we have attempted to understand how the Administration operates and measure where it’s done the most damage.

Trump’s third year was the most significant to date, with a shutdown, multiple war scares and an impeachment. The administration continued to be dominated by scandal, and the importance of foreign policy gradually increased. Meanwhile, policy actions continued to be defined by Trump’s own bull headed political style.

Yet in many ways this was simply more of the same. The year was a very long slog with few decisive developments. Trump almost blundered us into a war, but not quite. Impeachment became inevitable, but with the Republicans holding the senate it’s hard to see Trump actually being removed. The yield curve on treasury bonds inverted several times, which is usually a sign of a recession, but it never quite happened. Yet, while Trump has been insulated from consequences so far, all these events have none-the-less put him in a poor position going into the election year.

 

Introduction

During the 2016 election, an issue arose surrounding Donald Trump and his brand of politics. While the candidate was obviously controversial and offensive to a large swath of the electorate, the sheer volume of controversies surrounding Trump’s candidacy, which broke nearly daily, made it easy for the average voter to lose track of them all and difficult for them sift through it all in any meaningful way. This made it easy for the electorate to become desensitized to Trump’s antics, and tune out his actions as so much white noise, even if what he was doing was highly consequential.

To rectify this, we endeavored to compile all the horrible actions of the Trump Administration into a single list itemize. This list, the Trump Omnibus, was intended to serve as a reference for opponents of the Trump administration in political debates, particularly in arguments which in some ways involved the phrase “c’mon, what has he done that’s that bad”. Likewise, it was hoped that the length of the omnibus would convey to observers a self-evident illustration of just what a disaster the Trump administration has been for the country.

One year into the administration the omnibus has expanded to include more than 1763 unique actions touching on virtually ever aspect of American life listed unbroken across 76 pages. We believe that this makes the omnibus successful in its original intent of conveying the sheer breadth of ways the Trump Administration is terrible.

However, as the omnibus continues to stretch to the point where it’s impossible for one to fully process, there’s a danger that it may fall victim to the same problem that it was intended originally intended to address. To that end, we wanted to go one step further and provide an overall analysis of all the actions recorded within the omnibus to put everything into context. This would also enable us to identify relevant trends or interesting patterns in terms of how the Administration operates. To that end, we’ve produced this report.

 

How The Omnibus and This Report Was Prepared

The actions recorded in the Trump Omnibus are compiled on an ongoing basis throughout the year. The Omnibus uses a variety of sources, including the mainstream media outlets, press releases from federal agencies, and reputable NGOs such as the ACLU. When actions added into the omnibus their source and date are recorded.

Once actions are compiled into the Omnibus they’re categorized into appropriate policy areas. First they’re sorted based on what they impact, namely civil liberties and human rights, physical and material well-being, the proper functioning of political institutions, and national security. They are then sorted into 1 of 13 policy categories, such as immigration, healthcare and social spending, environmental policy and so forth. They’re then sorted further into 1 of 23 subcategories.

Finally, the actions are scored relative to their impact. First actions are scored on a scale of 1-10 based on the scale/scope of their impact, their legal formality, and their permanence. Next actions are rated on a 1-4 based on how much of an “active” change they represent, as in whether an action is a wholly new action, or it represents rolling back a policy of the Obama administration or simply represents a failure act. Finally these scores are combined into a composite impact score.

Impact score

A more complete description of the methodology used in this report can be viewed here. A spreadsheet version of the Omnibus, with scores and summary pivot table, can be viewed here.

 

Results

With all the items in the omnibus categorized and scored, we can now begin to review all the worst things the Trump administration has done in the past year and identify notable trends and patterns.

 

Overall Impact

The third year of the Trump administration turned out to be incredibly consequential. It started with the longest government shutdown in US history and ending with an impeachment, and there were plenty of near wars and violations of basic human dignity in between. It was the first year after Republicans lost control of the house, and while the Trump administration’s legislative agenda has always been anemic, this year it basically ground to a halt. Meanwhile, the administration continued to be increasingly absorbed in scandals of its own making. This was reflected in our scoring by the increasing prominence of actions categorized as degrading government institutions. Similarly, foreign policy continued to rise in prominence, though in the greater scheme of things it still remains a side show. A table of full results can be seen here.

 

Pace

It’s always frustrating trying to gauge the significance of developments at any particular point in the Trump Administration. Things always seem to be escalating or reaching a tipping point, and its hard not to fall into making hyperbolic statements and declaring that whatever is happening right now represents some unprecedented new low. It’s hard to know in the moment how important people “should” consider something, some things don’t go anywhere, like a lot of things in the Russian scandal, while others are forgotten when they really shouldn’t be, like the disastrous handling of Hurricane Maria. At the very least, though, we’re getting across how important things seem at the time. 

And that’s pretty much all you can say about the last year of the Trump administration, it seemed important at the time. There were lulls, of course, but when things got going, they really got going, or at least they felt like it. The year started with the longest government shutdown in US history, got a bit slow through the spring, then ramped up gradually throughout the year till it climaxed in an impeachment and very nearly the start of World War III.

How important all this will turn out to be in the long run is still to be determined, but this year probably can be considered as the most eventful of the Trump administration so far.

Y3Pace

 

Policy Focus

In Trump’s third year in office the administration’s focus continued to shift away from economic issues and towards foreign policy while scandals relating to abuses of power continued to escalate. The pace of activity around healthcare, deregulation and taxes continued to slow, though environmental deregulation and trade disputes did remain fairly consistent. On the other hand, major scandals, particularly those around Ukraine and impeachment, have tested are testing whether or not the US system can effectively police a President who’s flagrantly abusing power when his party controls the levers of power and doesn’t care. Similarly, developments in foreign policy have also ramped up as Trump’s foreign policy has become increasingly erratic and aggressive. Social issues have been fairly consistent.

As in year two, this is likely due to the fact that Trump has become more willful as time goes on, and his personal initiatives and abuses are consuming more of everyones’ time. Conversely, though, this may also be because Trump has already exhausted all the low hanging fruit in terms of deregulation through administrative fiat. Likewise, while Congressional Republicans are generally willing to shield Trump from consequences as a matter of partisan solidarity, they seem to have a fairly dysfunctional relationship. They barely work together, and don’t seem to have a coherent strategy for enacting major domestic legislation. Though, of course, a major exception to this is that Trump and Congressional Republicans have been very effective at packing the courts.

Y3Policy

 .

Uniqueness

Over time the agenda of the Trump administration has gradually drifting away from conservative orthodoxy as Trump’s own priorities and unique abuses of power take center stage. In his first year in office, we figured roughly 2/3rds of the impact was attributable to policies that would be typical to any Republican administration while only about 20% was unique to Trump. By contrast, in this last year, about 43% was attributable to things unique to Trump versus 35% that we figured was typical for Republicans.

All this, of course, is a little subjective, however we do feel it reflects a very real trend. This is largely reflective of the fact that Trump and congressional Republicans don’t have a great working relationship, They’ve been able to cooperate on appointing conservative judges and blocking any effort to hold Trump accountable, but they’re not able to implement any broad base legislative package. Partly this is due to a measure of hostility and ideological disagreements the two, but it’s also likely due to Trump’s own bullheaded nature and inability to stick to anyone’s program.

In lieu of legislation, most of Trump’s impact comes from his own executive office. And since Trump mostly implemented the conservative wishlist of economic deregulation and conservative social policies in his first year, what’s been left ever since is the sort of fights Trump wants to pick. That is to say mass deportation, trade wars, reckless fights with other countries and rampant corruption.

Y3Uniqueness

 

The Ukraine Scandal and Impeachment

One item that warrants special attention is the scandal in Ukraine. In many ways the controversy seems like a repeat of the Russian scandal, which is perhaps why so many people seem ready to dismiss it. Public attention to the Ukraine scandal has been quite muted compared to the height of the Russian scandal. Yet the truth is that, in terms of importance, this is almost the exact opposite to how it should be. The scandal in Ukraine has had a far more profound impact than the Russian one, both in terms of the concreteness of the evidence and the pace and severity with which it’s unfolded. This is reflected in our metrics. There’s been a pretty consistent flow of damning revelations and developments since the story broke last September, and at points it’s made up about half the administration’s overall impact. By contrast, the Russia scandal was a relatively slow burned, with relatively minor developments spaced out over the span of a few months. Suffice it to say, there’s a good reason the scandal led to impeachment.

Y3Ukraine

Public Reaction

In past years We’ve tended to include a section about how the public has reacted to the Trump administration, but honestly it’d be a bit pointless this year. Ever since Trump’s first year his approval pretty much cemented in the lower 40% range. Sometimes those numbers will go lower when he does something really unpopular, like shutting down the government or tries to throw a bunch of people off their insurance by repealing healthcare reform. But then his approval ratings revert to the norm immediately afterward those controversies have passed. It’s not even worth parsing Trump’s support among different demographics, it’s pretty much always what you expect it would be and never changes.

Honestly, it’s a bit like studying the western front in WWI. There are lessons to be learned here and there, but for the most part everyone is just blasting away at each other with progressively more firepower, but nobody is going anywhere.

In this war of attrition it’s important to remember that the anti-Trump side holds a decided advantage. Trump barely won his first term and it’ll be an uphill battle for him to win a second. Trump is still historically unpopular and people broadly disagree with his policies. Even the relatively strong economy hasn’t changed that, and it’s only going to get worse. No one should get complacent, of course, on the contrary people need to remember this so they don’t fall into despair and give up.

 

 The 5 Forgotten Travesties of the Trump Administration

As we mentioned earlier, it’s a little hard to know what will turn out to be important. Something that may seem like it’s the end of the world may turn out to be totally inconsequential and forgotten. But then there are some things that are forgotten which really shouldn’t be. And this is certainly the case with much of the Trump administration. It’s easy for things to get lost in the mile a minute coverage. So lets take a minute to remember some of those important, yet forgotten travesties.

 

The Response to Hurricane Maria

Puerto Rico

The botched response to Hurricane Maria may be the worst single thing the Trump administration has done in terms of the real human suffering it’s caused. It’s also hardly talked about at. Yet it’s still a rolling disaster with consequences to this day. Puerto Rico still has massive blackouts, and it’s projected to lose something like 14% of its population in the coming years. Moreover, the crisis is still being terribly mishandled. The initial $18.5bn allocated by the Federal Government for reconstruction was a fraction of the requested $46bn. Then in January 2019 when FEMA allocated $20bn for reconstruction, 60% of requests were rejected. More generally, reconstruction of the country has been marred by corruption and ineptitude, resulting in broad political discontent on the island.

 

ICE Detention Centers (i.e. all those concentration camps)

ICE

Strictly speaking, I don’t think people have “forgotten” ICE detention centers per say, however given how coverage of them largely dropped off after the Summer of 2018 you’d be forgotten for thinking they no longer exist. However they’re still there, and they’re still appalling. A recent report documented over 20,000 instances of abuses in ICE facilities, including 800 instances of physical abuse and 400 instances of sexual assault.  Moreover, it’s estimated that more than 1,000 have been separated from their families even after the end of the administration’s Zero Tolerance immigration policy.

 

The Government Shutdown

Shutdown

Remember when the Federal government was shutdown for over a month? Apparently not, the whole episode seems to have left virtually no long term impact on the public consciousness. Yet for many the episode was devastating. The whole episode cost the economy something like $11bn, and despite a measure passed by the House countless federal contractors have still not received any back pay. And we’ve learned absolutely nothing from the whole ordeal, the government still regularly flirts with shutdowns.

 

Those Taxes That Blew Trillion Dollar Hole In The Budget

Taxes

The 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act remains the administration’s sole legislative achievement to date, but since its passage it rarely comes in for much discussion. However, the tax cuts are still blowing a hole in the Federal budget. How much is a bit unclear, however the Congressional Joint Committee on taxation estimates the cuts will increase the deficit by $1 trillion over ten years. These cuts will almost tie the hands of future social programs and be used to justify further cuts.  Moveover, when coupled with the administrations rampant deregulation they’re feeding an economic bubble that could explode at any minute.

 

The New Nuclear Arms Race

missles

Hey, remember when Trump withdrew from the Intermediate Range Nuclear Treaty and tipped off a new nuclear arms race with Russia? Almost certainly not. The news barely registered when it happened back in 2017, and since then it almost never gets brought up in public discourse. However, it was actually a pretty big blow against nuclear disarmament, possibly even a more significant one than Trump’s decision to nix the Iran nuclear deal. It was the main reason the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved the nuclear clock to 2 minutes to midnight in 2018, where it’s remained ever since.

 

Conclusion

Unfortunately, there is no conclusion at this time, and there can be no conclusion until the Trump Administration is ended, preferably in massive electoral defeat, and the last remnants of its toxic legacy are undone and those it has harmed are made whole. For now, we will continue to maintain and analyze the omnibus; periodically releasing progress reports, in the hopes that doing so will help galvanize public opposition and aid in the task of long term movement building.

Takeaways from the 2019 UK Election

After the UK election on Thursday there have been a lot of post mortems on the election, and the lion’s share of them have attempted to view them as some sort of historic rebuke of Labour, Corbyn and left wing populism in general. These are shallow, obviously motivated takes. They also miss some very important things. So I’m going to cover those.

 

1.The Pro-Brexit side did a better job of tactical voting, while it’s questionable that tactical voting even could have worked for the Remain side

Probably the most significant reason why the election turned out specifically as it did was the decision by the Brexit party on November 11th not to stand candidates in conservative constituencies. This ensured that they could only act as spoilers in Labour constituencies, giving an out to pro-Brexit Labour voters who wouldn’t have been willing to vote for Tory, as well as acting as a tacit endorsement of the Conservatives for everyone else. And, by all appearances, this strategy was very effective. A large proportion of the seats in the Northeast flipped by the Tories were won on margins smaller than the Brexit Party’s share, while elsewhere the decision was likely a pretty big signal to pro-brexit voters to support Tories.

In theory some might think this could have have been offset by tactical voting by the Remain side, but no such strategy materialized. Labour didn’t run on Brexit, generally, and the Lib Dems did so largely at odds with Labour. It’d be tempting to say that the lack of unity is to blame for their loss, but that would suppose the strategy would have worked in the first place. The Lib Dems were basically a non-factor in the Northeast, so you can’t blame them for acting as spoilers there. Meanwhile in the South, affluent pro-Remain Tories seem to have been totally disinterested in switching parties. The Lib Dem attempt to run on Brexit and their numbers tanked throughout the campaign, so doesn’t look like it was a good strategy.

In fact, in general it kind of seems like you can’t blame centrist undermining for the results because they were too irrelevant and ineffectual to have even made a difference. The Lib Dems lost half their seats, and all those defecting centrist politicians who either ran with the Lib Dems or tried to form a new party were wiped. So the election is hardly a vindication for them. I’m not even sure that things like the media’s constant monstering of Corbyn mattered that much either, except insofar as they sucked all the air our of the room.

Polls
If you were to go by the polls, you’d assume Labour had a strategy of avoiding Brexit to talk about economic issues was at least somewhat effective while the centrist Lib Dem’s strategy of running on Brexit to win over cosmopolitan Tories was not. You’d probably be right.

2. The strategy that failed Labour in 2019 was basically the strategy that worked in 2017, the context was just different

Labour’s strategy in the 2019 election was largely the same as it was in 2017: avoid the base splitting issue of brexit to focus on economic issues where the Tories were more vulnerable. In 2017 this turned out to be a very effective strategy, Theresa’s May’s lead in the polls started to collapse when she was forced to address issues besides Brexit, which she bungled badly.

So it was understandable that Corbyn figured he’d try the same thing again this time around. It perhaps wasn’t even a bad strategy, Labour’s poll position increased consistently throughout the race. But unlike 2017, it wasn’t good enough.

Why exactly?

That’s open to debate, but one reason may just be that the media was more dismissive to the strategy this time around. When Corbyn revealed that Tories had put the NHS on the table in Brexit negotiations, the media more or less immediately dismissed the story as either irrelevant or old hat. It’s also possible that after 3 years the electorate is just a lot more exhausted by Brexit drama than they were in 2017, and were more likely to be won over by the Tory promise to just be done with it already.

As it happens, contexts change. Conservatives mostly benefited from having a particularly good window for them to run in. Had the election happened several months earlier it would have been a very different story.

The context is still changing. Things will look very different for Boris Johnson in about a year, when the consequences of “get Brexit done” set in. If it sets off a crisis that causes the Tory government to collapse and the Tories to get routed in the next election, which seems pretty likely, their win this cycle will have been entirely Pyrrhic. Similarly, if that is how things break down, then Labour could probably run on an identical platform and be swept into power.

As much as people think elections vindicate or disprove specific strategies it’s largely arbitrary. Sometimes all you can do is position yourself to be in the right place at the right time. That was probably the case in this election, and it will probably be the case in the next election.

 

3.Scotland is just kind of a perennial issue for Labour no one has an answer for

Before 2015, Labour was more or less assured something like 30-40 safe seats in Scotland. If they still had those Scottish voters they might have gotten something like 35% of the popular vote, about what they did the last time they won. At the very least the most recent election would barely have registered as anything more than a minor setback for Labour, as it was if you looked at it in terms of the popular vote. And considering that the SNP are mostly in line with the Labour Party on most issues, it’s questionable that their defection even means that much in practical terms.

The point of this is that you can basically ignore people who are trying to treat the election as being a historically bad result for Labour, the raw seat count is mainly just an empty technicality because that’s entirely based on Scotland. Take Scotland out of the equation and Labour did, well, not great, but not historically bad either.

Scottish voters’ defections from Labour are an issue, but they’re an issue that goes far beyond the most recent election or Corbyn. The collapse of Scotland’s Labour party happened during the Blairite era mostly under the leadership of Blairite MPs. And nobody in the Labour party actually has an answer for it.

Let’s Check In On How Nate Silver’s Weird Pentagram Analysis Has Held Up

We’re about two months out from the first contest in the Democratic primary, so I think it’s a good time to look at the current state of the race and compare how they compare with peoples’ expectations.
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Now, I myself shared some thoughts on that back in march. Essentially my argument at the time boiled down to this: current polling may not predict what’s going to happen in the race, but you should more or less accept what people are telling you because however sophisticated you think your model is not actually that smart. If Biden and Bernie are polling at first and second, and have for a while, then it’s reasonable to assume they have something going for them and shouldn’t be treated lightly. Don’t contrive a lot of reasons to dismiss them just because you can’t reconcile their success with some preconceived notion of how politics works.
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On the other hand you also had a lot of people at the time who did the opposite and contrived a lot of reasons to dismiss Biden and Bernie based on some preconceived notion of how politics works. The main example I pointed to was Nate Silver and his weird demographic pentagram analysis of who should hypothetically have the most appeal to the Democratic base.
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So let’s take a look at how things are right now:
RCP Average
Okay, some candidates had some ups and downs, but overall things have been surprisingly consistent. Biden’s still up, Bernie is still in second. Looks like I was more or less right to be conservative in assuming that there was a reason those two candidates were doing well and not trying to outsmart the polls.
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Now let’s see how Nate’s model is holding up…
Hexigons
… Oh dear God. Three of the top five candidates aren’t even in the race anymore, and the other two didn’t qualify for the next debate. All the candidates in the current 4-way race are ranked at 6th or lower (though, to be fair, Buttigieg wasn’t in the race yet), and the highest of them is arguably doing the worst.
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I mean, did it just not occur to Nate that Kamala’s record as a prosecutor might undermine her appeal? And Julian Castro? What the hell?
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Alright, what about betting markets. Surely the smartest people in the room were savvy enough to anticipate how the race would break down…
Betting Markets
… oh, no, wait, I forgot, political betting markets are stupid. They were betting on Harris well into March, and over valued her ever since. Then they kept chasing every ephemeral boom, all the while consistently underestimating Biden and criminally underrating Bernie. And they’re still doing it, quite frankly.
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Now my point here’s isn’t (entirely) to rub too clever by half political analysts’ noses in their failures. Nor is it to say that there aren’t things we can reasonably expect to upend current polls (like Biden’s strategically dubious decision to ignore Iowa and New Hampshire until fairly recently). But if you’re going to play inside baseball on politics, at least try to be a little humble and not get so wrapped up in what you think is supposed to happen that you miss what actually is happening.
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Or you can do what Nate does, deny you made a prediction and act like your model worked all along.

The 2019 “Everything Terrible Trump Has Done” 3rd Quarter Report

Since the Trump Presidency began back in January 2017, we have endeavored to maintain a comprehensive listing of all the administrations misdeeds in the Everything Awful The Trump Administration Has Done Omnibus (full list here), and have attempted to categorize and score them accordingly. Today is October 20th, which means that as of noon today we are now moving into month 33 of the Trump administration. To mark the occasion, we are releasing the Everything Terrible Trump Has Done 2019 3rd Qtr. Brief.

We already provided a thorough explanation of our methodology elsewhere, so we’ll just skip straight to the results. For anyone interested, an in-depth discussion on how we classified and scored actions can be found here. And excel version of the list can be found here.

 

Overall Results

The last 3 months in the Trump administration were marked by a certain sense of anticipation. There were a number of things that never quite reached the level of a full on disaster, but they pointed to a definite potential for one. The quarter started with a near war with Iran, then an escalation of the trade war with China led to fears that a recession was imminent, then the scandal with Ukraine pointed to impeachment. We always seem to be verge of some reckoning that refuses to materialize.

Yet in the here and now the damage is certainly severe enough, and the collective sense of deja vu shouldn’t obscure that there has been a certain escalation. The most recent quarter was consistently impactful due to a variety of events, and the last month was perhaps the most significant of the administration so far. The leading indicators for predicting a recession are as high today as they were before the Great Recession, and the moves towards impeachment are substantial. While it’s tempting to fall into the belief that the administration will simply be able to lurch on as it has through a combination of cynicism and systemic dysfunction, that should not obscure the fact that it still increasingly isolated and stymied, while at the same time its actions are becoming more erratic and dangerous.

 

Policy Area and Focus

Y3Q3 Impact

In a pattern that’s become familiar over the last 3 years, the 3 month period between July 20th and October 20th 2019 saw the policy focus the administration shift on a monthly. The first month the saw the most significant developments in the realm of social policies, namely immigration. In the second month Economic policies were most prominent thanks to trade and environmental policies. Then in the third month the scandal over Ukraine made the administration’s impact on institutions the center of attention. A table with a full breakdown can be seen here.

Throughout the period the administration’s impact on people’s economic and material well being was felt through its environmental policies. One of the most important developments in this respect was the ongoing attempts by the administration to strong arm states, particularly California, into abandoning stringent fuel standards and other environmental regulations. There was also a brief, but acute panic over trade in August and September as it seemed Trump was driving the trade war with China to a dangerous new level, threatening to destabilize markets and set off a recession. 

In the realm of institutions there were relatively few developments at the beginning of the quarter. This was largely due to the end of the Mueller investigation in the previous quarter, which generally did not result in much action. This reversed sharply starting in the final weeks of September as revelations regarding Trump’s attempts to force Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden came out.

Foreign policy saw a fairly consistent string of blunders on the administrations’ part. The quarter began at the end of a round of saber rattling against Iran over an alleged attack on oil tankers that had nearly escalated into war, which briefly flared up again in September when Trump tried to blame Iran for a drone attack on Saudi oil facilities. The most significant development came at the very end of the quarter though, with the administration’s decision to pull a deterrent force out of Northern Syria paved the way for a Turkish military incursion into Kurdish held Rojava.

Notable Developments

Y3Q3 Uniqueness

Continuing the trend over the last 2 years, the most significant developments in the Trump administration were actions that should probably be considered either unique to Trump or aligned to a faction within the Republican party that aren’t necessarily representative of the Republican establishment. The trade war, the erratic foreign policy, the Ukraine scandal and the subsequent impeachment drama are things we can probably say are directly driven by Trump, while the deportation drive is reflective of the Republican shift towards closed borders that mainly occurred in the last decade. Much of the Trump administration’s policies are still in line with those of establishment Republicans, but he is very much acting on his own priorities.

The focus of the administration also continued to be very narrow. The deportation drive, scandals like the one involving Ukraine, the trade war and the administrations attempts to counteract climate control initiatives represented a substantial majority of the administration’s impact between. This is, in a lot of ways, a reflection of the previous point, as the administration becomes less characterized by a broad push to implement a Republican agenda at all levels and more defined by Trump’s own idiosyncrasies.

One can draw their own conclusions from this, but it does suggest an administration that’s become more independent, crass and petulant. This would certainly fit in with a certain narrative. The first two years saw the Trump administration try to play along with Republican efforts and getting nowhere for the trouble, while the third year began with a failed attempt to assert dominance over the Democratic house. On the other hand, Trump was able to avoid any serious consequences for various scandals, and however his administrative actions might be blocked in courts he could just as often get his way if he just kept at it. The result seems to be that the administration is not interested in playing ball with anyone, while at the same time recklessly hammering away at its own priorities without fear of consequences.

 

The Ukraine Scandal

The most explosive development from the last 3 months was undoubtedly the revelation that Trump had apparently attempted to pressure Ukraine into investigating Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Much like the long running scandal over potential collusion with Russia, this represented a clear violation of the law, a dangerous political precedent and threat to national integrity which could serve as grounds for impeachment.

Indeed, the two cases offer an interesting comparison. On the one hand, the episode can be seen as a continuation of the Russian scandal whose scale and rapidity may damage the administration in a way the Russian scandal ultimately did not. On the other hand, there’s also the risk that it could ultimately suffer the same fate, blocked by political constraints and never able to get the firm footing needed to convince the public that serious action is needed. There seems to be some basis for both points of view.

Ukraine

On the one hand, the sheer intensity of scandal is far greater than anything that happened at any individual point in the Russian scandal. The Russian scandal saw a slow drip of revelations, sometimes serious and sometimes dubious, over the course of several months. By contrast, as we figure it the impact of the Ukraine scandal alone accounted for almost half the administration’s impact over the last month, and I do not believe that is overstating things too much. Moreover, both Congress and the public seem to be considering impeachment far more seriously, in large part because the accusations seem a lot more credible.

TrumpImpeachment

However, this could very well be ephemeral. After the scandal hit a fever pitch in late September and early October it was relatively quiet until Mick Mulvaney crassly acknowledge a quid pro quo, which was an unforced error. This might not be grind things to a halt, but in an era when scandals seem to break weekly it seriously might just run out of momentum. Public interest seems to have declined almost as rapidly as spiked, and while in the long term it may have seriously undermined confidence in the administration that still has yet to be seen. Overall, Trump’s approval ratings seem to have barely budged.

TrumpRussia

Signposts at the Intersection of Gender and Neurodiversity: Survey Results on Perceptions of the Relationship Between Autism and Gender

Short Summary

  • A large majority of respondents believed current diagnosis rates are under-diagnosing women relative to men
    • Respondents tended to cite social expectations and biased diagnosis tools for this
  • The online autistic community seems fairly diverse in terms of gender identity and age, and in particular there’s a very large transgender and gender non-conforming population among autistic people in general
  • People on the spectrum, women, transgender and gender non-conforming respondents were more likely to believe current diagnosis rates are under representing women relative to men
  • Women and transgender respondents tend to have more sensory issues

Introduction

Historically it has been presumed that Autism Spectrum Disorders are more common in males, especially higher functioning varieties such as the now defunct Aspergers Syndrome. Typically estimates of the rate of males to females range from a low of 4-to-1 to as high as 16-to-1 or more. However in recent years there has been a growing sense that females on the autism spectrum may be significantly under-diagnosed due to differences in the way autism manifests across gender and biases in diagnostic tools. Additionally, recent years have also seen more research into the relationship between autism and broader issues of gender identity, with researchers noting exceptional high rates of transgender and nonconforming gender identities among people on the spectrum.

To explore perceptions of this issue, I put together a brief informal survey which asked for respondents’ opinions on what the true gender ratio for ASD are. Additionally, the survey also collected data respondents’ gender identity, age and diagnosis status and their experience with any sensory issues. I administered the survey at various both various sites in the online autistic community, including r/aspergersr/autismr/aspiememes and the #ActuallyAutistic hashtag, and platforms for science and surveys including r/neuroscience and r/SampleSize. Over 3 days from August 31st to September 2nd I collected 531 responses from a diverse set of respondents. Here is a summary of the results

Notes

Before getting into the results, some things should be noted

  • Survey Targeting, Responses and Self Selection – This survey intentionally targeted the online autistic community, and for practical reasons also ended up mostly being disseminated in groups focused on neuroscience and social sciences. Moreover, being voluntary there was likely a lot of self selection in survey takers based on nuerodiversity and gender identity. Hence, overall results should not be seen as entirely representative of views held in the general population, nor are they entirely reflective of the demographics of the communities surveyed. The respondents to the survey are perhaps best understood as people with a relatively high level of investment and engagement with this issue, and the most interesting comparisons are perhaps between different categories of respondent rather than the overall results.
  • Gender Identity – This survey asked for transgender identity as part of the question on gender. As one respondent pointed out, this can be confusing or even alienating for transgender respondents, since they usually do identify as male/female. The wording of the question clearly distinguished between gender at birth and current gender identity so this should not be an issue, but it should none-the-less be noted. Additionally, there were a high proportion of respondents who identified as having other gender identities, including non-binary, agender, androgynous, and gender fluid. These responses will be collectively referred to as “nonconforming” throughout the summary, and will be combined with transgender responses where appropriate. This is not meant to overgeneralize or gloss over respondents, on the contrary one of the purposes of this survey is to highlight the diversity of respondents. It’s merely a practical shorthand done for the sake of making the results easier to digest.

Who took the survey

The survey received a large number of results from a diverse set of respondents both on and off the spectrum of varying gender identities and ages. Below is a breakdown of the demographics:

Survey1.png
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Survey2.png
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Survey3.png
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The Online Autistic Community

As noted, one version of the survey specifically targeted the online Autistic community. This survey received 155 responses from a wide variety of participants. Below is a breakdown of the demographics from these respondents:

Survey5.png
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Survey8.png

These responses point to a community that’s quite diverse, and contrasts sharply with the commonly held image of the online Autistic community as being dominated almost exclusively by young men. Self selection issues aside, the community appears to represent a fairly wide cross section of people of different gender identities and age. Likewise, the disproportionately high rate of transgender and non-conforming respondents is both consistent with past research and points to an important intersection between the two communities.

Overall Results

Respondents were asked what they believed the true gender ratio is for ASD. The overall results can be read in the chart below:

Survey9.png

Respondents were also given the option of providing a brief justification for their choice, which 202 respondents provided. These responses were categorized, based on their main content. The counts of these responses based on their content can be read in the table below:

Breakdown of Justifications Provided

  • Social Expectations and Biases in Diagnostic Tools 79
  • Personal Experience 60
  • No Elaboration Provided 27
  • No Reason To Believe There Is A Gender Difference 15
  • Genetics and Biology Reasons 12
  • Just a Guess 11
  • No Response 327

From these results we can make the following observations:

A substantial majority felt that current diagnosis rates under represent women, however a significant minority accepted them as basically correct

Overall, a large majority of respondents believed the true ratio of autistic males to females was lower. About 64% of respondents believed the rate was below the 4-to-1 rate commonly cited as a low range estimate for diagnosis, while 34% believed the true rate of males to females on the spectrum was roughly equal. A substantial minority of 35% still accepted the current diagnosis rates as basically accurate, with 21% believed the true rate fell in the lower range between 8-to-1 and 4-to-1 while 14% believed it fell in the higher range of 16-to-1 to 8-to-1.

Most responses skewed towards the middle range of estimates. A slight majority of 51% of respondents fell in the middle range of estimates, believing that the true rate of ASDs has a moderate skew towards males, less than 8-to-1 but still significantly higher than 1-to-1. Only 2% of respondents were on the extreme ends of the range, believing the rate of males to females was higher than 16-to-1 or lower than 1-to-1.

Of respondents who offered a justification for their answer, social norms and biases in diagnosis techniques were cited most frequently, followed by personal experience

Respondents offered a variety of justifications for their answers. The most common justification, cited by 79 participants, was that prevailing social norms tend to encourage women to mask autistic behaviors and make people less inclined to attribute them to ASDs. It was particularly noted that criteria for diagnosing autism were informed mostly by observing young boys on the spectrum, and therefor did not account for the fact that autism manifests differently in girls. Naturally, these respondents skewed heavily towards believing current diagnosis rates significantly undercount women.

The next most common reason given was personal experience, which was cited by 59 respondents. These responses were almost evenly split between those who accepted current diagnosis rates as basically correct and those who felt they undercount women. Many respondents pointed to their experiences seeing men more frequently in autism support systems and media portrayals, while others noted instances of women largely not being considered for ASD or having difficulty obtaining a diagnosis despite clearly displaying traits.

Genetic or biological factors were occasionally mentioned, such as theories about radical gene expression being more prevalent in males and exposure to hormones during pregnancy. Conversely, many respondents did not believe there was a credible reason for rates to vary by gender, with some citing the diagnosis rates for low functioning autism which are closer to 1-to-1.

Respondents who believed current rates of diagnosis were somewhat more likely to say they were guessing or not provide a justification at all, suggesting they may just be accepting them as a default.

Analysis

The high response rate affords us an opportunity to do a more indepth analysis comparing the views and characteristics of different groupst. This yielded the following insights.

People diagnosed with ASD were more likely to believe that the true rate of ASD among women was roughly equal or significantly about the current rates of diagnosis

Survey10.png

There was a significant difference between the perceived true gender balance of autism between people who had been diagnosed as being on the spectrum and those who believed they may be on the spectrum and those who had not. About 50% of respondents who were not diagnosed and did not believe they were on the spectrum basically accepted current rates of diagnosis as being more or less accurate, compared to only 25% of those who had been diagnosed and 30% who believed they may be on the spectrum. Generally speaking, it seems the closer someone was to having a diagnosis the more likely they were to believe current diagnosis rates were under representing women.

Women, transgender and nonconforming respondents were more likely to believe that the true rate of ASD among women was roughly equal or significantly above the current rates of diagnosis

Survey11.png

There was also a significant difference by gender identity. About 67% of women believed the true rate of ASD among women was below the current rates of diagnosis.compared to 50% of men. Transgender and nonconforming respondents were most likely to believe current diagnosis rates were under-representing women, with 86% believing the true rate was below the current diagnosis rates.

The rates of autism reported among male and female respondents was similar, but notably higher among transgender and nonconforming respondents. The balance of those who suspected they had autism versus those who were diagnosed was similar between men and women, while the proportion of diagnosed respondents was high among transgender and nonconforming respondents

Survey12.png

Among respondents to the survey, the male and females reported being on the spectrum at roughly comparable rates of 53% and 58% respectively, and within those the proportion of those who were diagnosed versus those who suspected they were on the spectrum were similar at between 3-to-2 to 1-to-1. Given the targeting and self selection of the survey this is probably not reflective of the population. This is unfortunate, since it means we can’t really investigate issues like whether women need to resort to self-diagnosis more often or not.

However, the high rate of autism (85%) among transgender and nonconforming respondents probably is reflective of the population, as is the high proportion of diagnosed cases to those who suspected being on the spectrum (3-to-1). This is consistent with past research on the matter which has found that transgender and non-conforming populations have have high rates of autism, especially among transgender people born female who identify as male.

Women, transgender and nonconforming respondents who were diagnosed with ASD or believed they may be ASD were significantly more likely to have severe sensory issues than men

Survey13.png

While large majorities of respondents on the spectrum reported having sensory issues, there were significant differences across gender, particularly based on severity. Among respondents who were diagnosed or suspected they may be ASD 24.5% of Women reported serious sensory issues compared to only 13.5% of men. The rate was even higher among transgender and nonconforming respondents, with 35.5% reporting serious sensory issues.

This may reflect differences in the way autism manifests across genders. Recent research suggests that women on the spectrum are more likely to have atypical sensory profiles. It’s likely social norms also play a big factor. Since the social/behavioral impacts of autism in women tend to be more obscured and misattributed, sensory issues may be one of the few things that might lead people and their therapists to seriously consider ASD as a diagnosis. Alternately, social pressures may encourage men to downplay their own sensory issues and refuse to acknowledge them as a problem. All this points to a need for greater appreciation for sensory issues when addressing autism.

Conclusion

All this points to an expanding understanding of Autism and its relationship to gender issues, at least within the realm of people with the most immediate stake and familiarity with the issue. Moreover there seems to be a widespread desire to correct for previous imbalances in support and recognition. Adjusting public perceptions and diagnostic criteria to make them more aware of the ways autism presents in females is widely understood to be an important step in helping women on the spectrum gain a better awareness of themselves and adjust accordingly. As are changing social norms which dismiss autistic traits in women, or which encourage them to inappropriately mask at the risk of developing depression, anxiety and various other mental health issues.

Similarly, our results serve to highlight the importance of recognizing the relationship between autism and non-cisgender identities. People on the spectrum are much more likely to have fluid gender identities, and even cisgender people on the spectrum often only associate themselves with the birth gender very weakly. This highlights the fact that trans issues are often neurodiversity issues and vis-a-versa, and creating broader acceptance for both is an important step for allowing people on the opportunity to lead fulfilling lives.

Men on the spectrum would benefit from this as much as anyone. While often framed as the “winner” in autism diagnosis and support, in fact a narrow and restrictive understanding of autism is almost as harmful to men as anyone. Most immediately, hurts men who themselves manifest autism in atypical ways. But just as important, it exacerbates the widespread social isolation and alienation that men on the spectrum tend to experience. While this survey should help put to lie many of the notion that the online autistic community is a haven for incels and the like, there are plenty of reasons why said communities often need to explicitly warn against red pilling and suicidal ideation as they can be prime targets for such things. Building an understanding that a wider swathe of humanity shares their issues and can be a source of mutual support can alleviate this.

The 2019 “Everything Terrible Trump Has Done” 2nd Quarter Report

Since the Trump Presidency began back in January 2017, we have endeavored to maintain a comprehensive listing of all the administrations misdeeds in the Everything Awful The Trump Administration Has Done Omnibus (full list here), and have attempted to categorize and score them accordingly. Today is July 20th, which means that as of noon today we are now moving into month 30 of the Trump administration. To mark the occasion, we are releasing the Everything Terrible Trump Has Done 2019 2nd Qtr. Brief.

We already provided a thorough explanation of our methodology elsewhere, so we’ll just skip straight to the results. For anyone interested, an in-depth discussion on how we classified and scored actions can be found here. And excel version of the list can be found here.

Summary

The last three months saw the most significant developments of the Trump administration concentrated in either immigration and abuses of power through ignoring the law. Foreign policy was an area where the administration could have a big impact in the near future as it’s flirted with war and overthrowing governments, but for the most part it’s failed to follow through as of yet. The last few months also saw the administration increasingly go its own way as its focus changed from enacting typical Republican economic and social policies towards actions defined more by Trump’s own brand of politics, such as his trade war, personal corruption and particularly draconian immigration policy.

 

Overall Results

Trump Administration Impact by Policy Area

In terms of the overall pace of activity, the 2nd quarter of 2019 was fairly typical for the Trump administration, and the rate at which it enacted harmful policies remained fairly consistent throughout the period. For that matter, the policies weren’t exceptional in terms of their scale or formality. This isn’t to say that the last quarter has been typical, all phases of the Trump administration are unusual in their own way and when you get into the details of this quarter there were some notable developments. It’s just to say the last quarter doesn’t stand out as being particularly dramatic by the standards of the Trump administration.

However, there has been a fair amount of rumbling just over the horizon. There are plenty of incipient political conflicts potentially heading for a showdown, with the prospect of impeachment seeming to become more real as time goes on. Similarly, the possibility of the administration instigating a war has become more imminent than ever. Likewise, the economy is still growing, but Trump’s trade war is taking its toll and a recession next year seems highly likely. This may simply be the lull before another storm.

 

Policy Area and Focus

The 2nd quarter of 2019 has mostly continued a trend that has been ongoing since 2018. The administration’s impact has been felt less in the realm of economic policy, however its corrosive impact on governing institutions has continued to escalate, particularly as conflicts with Congress ramp up. Meanwhile, its impact on Social Issues and Foreign Policy remain fairly stable, however there have been subtle changes in how its being carried out. A table with a full breakdown can be seen here.

In the realm of Civil Liberties and Human Rights the Trump administration’s impact was overwhelmingly concentrated in immigration enforcement and deportations. This is not surprising, the administrations draconian attempts to close of borders and deport immigrants has been one of its marquee efforts since day one, and the controversy over immigration detention facilities (i.e. concentration camps) has been roiling for over a year now, The administration’s attempts to curb gender rights, disenfranchise large swathes of the population and impose tough on crime measures through rule making remains insidious, but in terms of scale and immediacy of impact the cruelty of detentions and deportations is in a league of its own.

On the economic front, the administration’s impact was split fairly evenly between environmental policy, healthcare  and trade. The consistent trend since Trump’s second year in office, has been to shift from issues related to healthcare and consumer protections in favor of Trump’s own program of economic protectionism. This shift is likely due to a number of factors. First, the administration has tended to be frustrated on enacting broad legislation on health care and other spending programs that require legislation, and so has shifted to the realm of trade where it has a freer hand. Second, the administration now defers less to congressional Republicans to set its policy direction in favor of Trump’s own program of trade protectionism and outright clientelism . And finally, the administration may have simply run out of economic regulations that can be easily reversed through executive actions.

The biggest developments in the last quarter arguably most affected government institutions, and these were overwhelmingly concentrated in the realm of legal and ethical abuses of power. There were two key drivers of this. First, the release of the Mueller report, while not explicitly implicating the White House, suggested extensive collusion in tampering in the election and suggested further investigation by congress. Second was the administration’s attempt to obstruct numerous investigations, related to both Mueller’s probe and Congressional requests for Trump’s financial records. To do this the administration has flagrantly violated the law and governmental checks and balances, with officials refusing to provide documents and failing to respond to Congressional subpoenas.  

Finally, the administration was fairly active on the foreign policy front, however for the moment most of its efforts have come to very little. First, the administration attempted multiple times to overthrow the government of Venezuela. Each time these efforts failed due to lack of support for the opposition. Finally Trump appeared to bored and decided to move on, validating our frequently stated opinion that Trump is usually too lazy and inept to see out a truly disastrous foreign policy blunder. It remains to be seen whether this will hold true with the administration’s numerous attempts to orchestrate a war with Iran, however with the internationally community immediately seeing through these efforts and refusing to go along with them they mostly likely won’t go any where either. However, that’s small comfort considering how disastrous a war with Iran could be if John Bolton gets his way.

 

Notable Developments

There have been a few notable developments in the Trump administration in the last few months. First, for the first time since Trump took office it seems that the impact actions unique to Trump and those which are typical to Republicans appear to be more or less equal. This is worth noting. While Trump has always been unique in terms of political aesthetics, in terms of his actually actions he’s usually been a fairly bog standard Republican. In terms of his active policies this is still largely the case, only trade stands out as an area where he’s initiated a significant break from past Republican policies, and even his harsh immigration policies fit within a pre-existing pattern, at least for a large segment of the Republican party.

Uniqueness

However the Trump administration’s corruption and willingness to break laws in order to get what he wants is relatively unique (but hardly unprecedented, mind you) and in the past few months these actions have become increasingly prominent as he comes into conflict with the Democratic House of Representatives. This has, in large part been due to the fact that the Russian probe come to its conclusion slightly before the beginning of the last quarter, and much of the consequences have only become apparent over the following months. As these things go, the continuing scandal over possible collusion with Russia was fairly eventful, particularly due to the administration’s obstruction. However, this obstruction extended far beyond the Russian probe to various other scandals, which Trump has steadily escalated. For their part, congressional Democrats have also gotten more aggressive in terms of enforcing their subpoenas considering impeachment as a potentially necessary next step.

In general, the administration’s focus could be considered a good deal more narrow than in the past. The top three policy issues, immigration enforcement, legal and ethical abuses of power and foreign policy, represented more than half the administration’s impact as we calculate it, the first time in the two and a half years we have been maintaining the omnibus that this has happened. In ways this is less a matter of the administration having a singular focus on those topics and more about a lack of activity elsewhere. Even within those areas the administration’s actions are better described as being a manifestation of wanton disregard for human decency, with the persistent tendency to ignore the physical well being of migrants and the prerogatives of congress being the main drivers. Even in foreign policy, where the issue is active war mongering, the effort has been surprisingly aimless and inconsistent.

 

Disrupting Checks and Balances

One of the biggest developments from the last quarter was the increasing tendency of the Trump administration to come into conflict with the other branches of government, ignoring their prerogatives or otherwise attempting to circumvent them altogether. This has mainly come in one of three ways. First, the administration has repeatedly flouted congressional mandates that it provide documents or testimony in relation to various investigations being conducted by the House of Representatives. Second, it has misappropriated funds in order to fund it projects or circumvented congressional approval on the grounds of phony emergencies, particularly in the case of funding their border wall and selling arms to Saudi Arabia. Finally, when the courts have ruled against various administration policies they have attempted to continue with them anyways, such as with the citizenship question on the census.

This is not totally new ground for the administration, which had disregarded checks and balances in the past. However, there has been a dramatic uptick in the past quarter. To put this into perspective, as we figure it the impact of policies violating checks and balances in some way are roughly 3 times greater in the 2nd quarter of 2019 than they were in the first.

This is mainly a consequence of the 2018 midterms, which placed a check on the administration through the Democratic House. Moreover, the administration had long been frustrated in the courts, which despite being stacked with conservative judges have tended to rule against its more contentious policies. The effect of this was somewhat delayed, as the Democratic House largely refrained from trying to rein in the President at the beginning of the term, but it was only a matter of time before the issue was forced. Inevitably the administration had to decide between seeing its powers severely curtailed or continuing on through questionably legal means, and they predictably chose the latter.

Remember That Time McCain Shamelessly Fomented Racism Until It Literally Confronted Him On Stage And He Slunk Away Like A Coward? Apparently You Don’t…

The news cycle in recent days has been dominated by stories over the fallout from Trump’s North Carolina rally on Wednesday when the crowd broke into a racist chant of “send her back” directed at Congresswoman Illhan Omar. The event was widely seen as representing a new level of racist, and quite frankly fascist, demagoguery by Trump, even as he tries to distance himself from it.

In response to this many people are sharing a notorious clip from the the 2008 election where one of McCain’s supporters complained that Obama was an “arab.” Supposedly, McCain “shut down” and “strongly supported Obama,” at least according to Business Insider. This isn’t the first time people have shared this clip either. It went viral shortly after McCain’s death, again with people trying to cast McCain as some brave defender against racism in contrast to Trump.

This is all baffling to me because I remember that episode very clearly and it was nothing like they’re describing. As I recall, most people didn’t see it as some edifying moment where McCain bravely confronted racism. Mostly people saw it as McCain losing control after his campaign recklessly whipped up his supporters with racist dog whistles, at best. People weren’t impressed by McCain’s response, it came across as embarrassed and half hearted. A lot of people picked apart his weird choice of words, apparently treating “arab” and “family man” as mutually exclusive. Obama slammed McCain for being reckless, and McCain’s campaign responded by saying Obama had “insulted” his supporters. It was a disastrous clusterfuck. Hardly anybody thought otherwise.

To make sure I wasn’t misremembering this, I went back to discussions I was having with people at the time to see how they reacted. Here’s some fairly typical comments from the time:

“notice how the woman say ‘he’s an Arab,’ Which McCain responds to ‘no ma’am, he’s a decent, family man citizen’ … I don’t understand. Is he saying Arabs aren’t decent family people? Because that’s what I’m understanding through this.”

“He doesn’t attempt to talk the racism out of the heads of those people, not because he shares it (I hope he doesn’t), but because he knows you just can’t do it. He doesn’t have much time, so he responds to what the people imply, not just to what they say. He clearly doesn’t want an Republican to stand up and shoot Obama.”

” Republicans are desperate to cling to the power they had for more than a decade. With desperation, comes these fanatic behaviours. They are the true fundamentalists in these elections, and the GOP campaign won’t hessitate to use them and play with fire to achieve their victory, not matter the cost. I would dare to say that Obama’s life can be (and probably is) threatened by this. Last time I have seen such behaviour, PM Itzhak Rabin was assasinated in Israel.”

“Obama’s response to the charges of traitor and other bigotry displayed at McCain rallies was basically “Riling up crowds is easy, but this is something that is not needed in the US now.” McCain campaign’s response? Read for yourself [Link to a statement by the McCain campaign accusing Obama of ‘insulting’ and ‘assaulting’ McCain’s supporters]. Unbelievable.”

“McCain is being forced to defend Obama to his own supporters. For example, he had to tell a woman that Obama wasn’t an arab. (The headline on MSNBC was Breaking News: McCain: Obama Not An Arab! Is it just me, or is it truly pathetic that that was a headline on a major news network?)”

These comments aren’t coming from some left wing twitter group or something, these are from an apolitical Age of Empires fansite.

This was a common response from both political figures and the media. Some saw McCain as drawing a line, but most were quick to point out how irresponsible and two faced McCain was being. To cite a few examples:

McCain Booed For Telling Audience To Be Respectful of Obama – But McCain didn’t completely stay away from personal attacks, bringing up Obama’s connection with William Ayres, who was a member of the 1960s radical group the Weather Underground.”

More Racism Please – The racist incidents are by now familiar: the Bill Ayers ads; Sarah Palin’s accusations that Obama pals around with terrorists; the cries of “terrorist,” “treason,” and “kill him” that Obama’s name elicits at McCain-Palin events; the racial epithet deployed against a black cameraman; the pointed inclusion of Obama’s middle name in introductions; and the old lady in Wisconsin who asked McCain to protect her from Obama the Arab.”

Rep. Lewis: McCain Sowing Seeds Of Hatred … ‘George Wallace never threw a bomb. He never fired a gun, but he created the climate and the conditions that encouraged vicious attacks against innocent Americans who were simply trying to exercise their constitutional rights,” said Lewis, who is black. “Because of this atmosphere of hate, four little girls were killed on Sunday morning when a church was bombed in Birmingham, Alabama.'”

McCain to supporters: ‘You’re angry, and I’m angry too’ – After days of headlines over the emotion at his campaign events, John McCain acknowledged at a rally in Davenport, Iowa Saturday that he and his supporters are angry – but insisted the anger wasn’t directed at opponent Barack Obama.”

Again, these are fairly mainstream sources that are readily available (I didn’t even need to go to the way back machine).

And people were reading the situation at the time that way because that’s how it was. McCain’s 2008 campaign was full of recklessness, impulsive decision making and incompetence. The racism was one aspect of it, but there was more to it than that, like McCain’s decision to “suspend” his campaign during the financial meltdown only to nearly blow up legislation meant to keep the economy from collapsing when he threw an egotistical tantrum. His campaign almost collapsed before it even started due to its ineptitude and McCain’s explosive temper, he only got the campaign because there were pretty much no other viable candidates.

The contrast between how all this actually happened and how the political press is choosing to remember it is jarring, but hardly surprising. We know why they’re doing it. They want to present McCain as some venerable elder statesmen, in stark contrast to the dangerous newer breed of racist demagogues represented by Trump. If only we could go back to that.

They don’t want to deal with the more disturbing reality: the difference between Trump and someone like McCain is, and always has been, purely aesthetic. McCain was fine with all the racist shit that Trump is associated with, in fact his campaign was a catalyst that revitalized it. He just didn’t want to get caught on stage with it.

Same for the supposedly venerable “old guard.” They were quick to jump on McCain at the time, but they did nothing in the following years as the xenophobia he fostered continued to fester. Even Obama and Democrats largely acquiesced to it, mostly because they were afraid of being seen as “insulting” people who were hurling outright racist epithets at them.

They did this because they were cowards, or they didn’t really care.