Racism Against Asian-Americans

Has any been following the stories of violence and verbal attacks against Asian-Americans? Last night, I believe six Asian women (and two non-Asians) were shot and killed. I’m dismayed by these stories, hearing Asian-Americans express fear of going out and seeing these brutal attacks. Watching these things evokes an odd feeling, almost as if I’m watching a different country, as the reality here seems very different. Have you guys heard of similar stories happening in Hawai’i? By the way, I heard Trump last night on Fox News referred to the covid virus as the “China virus.” It’s still appalling that people who know better continue to support him. (I made myself watch the clip, just so that I can say I heard it myself.)

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Could Movies Featuring the Lower Classes and People of Color be Commercially Successful as Long as They had Strong Stories and Compelling Characters?

Near the end of Thom Anderson’s Los Angeles Plays Itself, neglect of the lower classes and/or people of color in Hollywood movies struck and dismayed me. And I should specify the neglect involves stories and characters that fall outside existing stereotypes–for example, there are Hollywood films that feature the lower class criminals. I would also add that films with the type of characters exist, but my sense is that many are not mainstream movies. Why aren’t there more mainstream films with non-stereotypical minority characters outside of the middle and upper classes tend not to buy the explanation that the audience would be too small. Would it be too hard to create good stories with these type of characters? I find that hard to believe.

To test this, I looked at the AFI top 100 films of all time. Of this list, The Grapes of Wrath seems to be the best fit–although perhaps they can be seen as a more middle class family that is going through hard times. Raging Bull and Rocky may qualify as well. However, what stands out to me is that violence seems to be a critical component. That is, a mainstream film can feature lower class characters, but they and their stories must generally involve action and/or violence.

Midnight Cowboy is there, but I’d argue the lower class character (if he is a part of the lower class) falls within accepted stereotypes–i.e., the poor are criminals or social deviants.

Can anyone think of good mainstream films that featured non-stereotypical characters, non-white characters, primarily from the lower classes?

Suggestions to Make the Internet Better for Democracy

How to Put Out Democracy’s Dumpster Fire by Anne Applebaum and Peter Pomeratsev in the Atlantic is an article about the way the current nature of the internet, in general, and social media, specifically, are harmful, or even hostile, to democracy. The authors also recommend several specific suggestions to change this. The writers seem optimistic that their suggestion could actually significantly improve the internet, making it a more viable for democracy, if their recommendations are adopted (which is another matter).

I do believe improvements can be made to at least reduce the toxicity and dysfunction of the information and discussion space produced by the internet. But I do have some critiques of their recommendations.

I’ll go over these soon, but for now I recommend others to read this article.

Second Impeachment and Senate Trial of Donald J. Trump

Trump has been impeached a second time. The Senate trial started today. I’m not really following it–I don’t really have the stomach to do so. If the Democrats both the case that will be stressful. If they do a good job and the Republicans still acquit Trump (which is likely), that will be sickening. Still, I’ll start this thread for posts relating to this topic. (I don’t want to post about this in the Biden thread.)

I will say one thing. I would like to see witnesses called, especially since Trump claims he was upset or bothered by the storming of the Capitol. Journalists have reported the opposite. Trump and people who were around him should testify under oath about this. I realize Trump has refused to testify, but if the witnesses testify that he was not upset, but excited, in a positive way, and that he was slow to react, more Republicans may change their mind. And if not, make them acquit in light of this testimony.

What Are the Red Lines Trump Must Not Cross for Trump Supporters?

Where is the red line(s) that Donald Trump could not cross? The line(s) that if Trump crosses would lead to congressional Republicans, GOP leadership, and Trump supporters abandoning their support for Trump, and even strongly opposing him? The line that if Trump crosses would warrant the end of a presidency, either through intense public backlash or impeachment and removal? Do any of these lines exist?

Since none of the congressional Republicans, GOP party leaders, or prominent pundits have called for an end to Trump’s presidency, we can conclude the following are NOT red lines for these Trump supporters:

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Are Democrats and Republicans Largely the Same? Or, Is One Party Worse Than the Other?

In these last four years, the GOP has shown me to be much worse than the Democrats. I never questioned their patriotism, commitment to the rule of law and Constitution prior to 2016. I believed that many had real convictions in conservative principles. Right now, besides power, I think they only care about tax cuts (and I think that’s related to their power as well).

But I’m not comfortable viewing the parties this way, as this is the way partisans think. Their perception of the other side is often a distortion, seeing them in the worst possible light. How do I know I’m not doing that now? I don’t think I can fully know.

That’s where this thread comes in. I’d like to gather evidence to support or refute my current perception. I welcome others to provide examples/evidence.

I will close with another basis for my perception. While both sides often portray the other side in the worst possible light, the last four years seem to have supported Democrats’ depictions of Republicans, rather than the other way around. For example, some Democrats have accused Republicans of being racist. I never thought this prior to 2016, but now this accusation isn’t easy to dismiss. Republicans characterized Democrats as socialists and/or communists, but Joe Biden was the Democratic nominee. (To be fair, the support for Sanders is not insignificant.) There’s more that could be said, and I hope this claim I’m making can be further scrutinized.

The Failure to Prosecute People Who Committed Crimes is a Part of Our Criminal Justice System

A thread from a UNC law professor goes over that. The thread started in response to a headline that said the FBI and DOJ were considering not charging all the rioters at Capitol on January 6. Some people naturally reacted with outrage to that, and Prof. Byrne Hessick wrote a threat in response:

I completely understand why people are angry about this. But the truth is that the criminal justice system routinely fails to prosecute people who are obviously guilty of crimes. It’s at the very core of modern criminal justice enforcement. It’s a serious problem that most Americans don’t know this. But we routinely fail to prosecute people who have obviously committed crimes. We just don’t have the capacity to pursue all of those cases. Part of the problem is that we’ve made too many things illegal. Another problem is that we’ve refused sufficiently fund the prosecutors, defense attorneys, and judges we’d need for full enforcement. But we also don’t have the cultural commitment to full enforcement. This isn’t just a question of partisan politics. And it isn’t just about race either. We’ve literally built a system predicated on partial enforcement of the criminal laws. In sum, if you’re angry about this, I understand. But that anger probably means you need to pay more attention to the criminal justice system generally, and not just when a bunch of losers storm the Capitol. A big hello to everyone in my mentions who are here to tell me that *they* know how prosecutors use their discretion to prosecute only certain groups of defendants. Please share your dataset with those of us who actually studprosecutors’ decisionmaking. We’d love to see it!

I wanted to chime in and say that this resonates with me, based on my work experiences. I think what she’s saying applies to many, if not most situations, that involve the enforcement of rules–specifically, situations where pursuing every infraction and meting out the appropriate consequences is not practical. Workplaces and schools are some examples.

What are the implications of this? And is there an alternate system that would prosecute every infraction, and would that be desirable? What are these systems? I’ll try to answer that in the rest of this post (in the comments section).

What Should the Biden Administration, Congress, and State AGs Do About Trump Now?

Trump’s absence (or minimal references to him) on twitter and the news has been wonderful. (I’m sorry if these words and this post ruins this moment.) But there is a really serious question about how the Biden DOJ, Congress, and State AGs should proceed–specifically, with regard to convicting Trump of impeachment charges and investigating and prosecuting him for federal and state crimes. (Note: I’m starting a separate thread instead of including this in the Biden Administration threat because I didn’t want to mess that one up with this topic.)

This op-ed by George Conway lays out the potential state and federal crimes. I highly recommend reading this article, as it provides a good overview of these potential crimes, and the costs and benefits with pursuing or forgoing prosecution. It’s important that Americans understand the number and seriousness of potential crimes and misdeeds. These are not trivial issues. Here are some general points that I think are important:

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