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Columnist trashes Harvard for hiring ex-Michigan governor: ‘Especially perverse’ to hire toxic people in name of ‘civility’

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Gov. Rick Snyder (R-MI) has become synonymous with disaster and neglect. He presided over the Flint water crisis, endangered thousands of people, and is the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation. But none of this deterred Harvard’s Kennedy School from announcing he would be granted a year-long paid fellowship, with Taubman Center for State and Local Government director Jeffrey Liebman touting his “expertise in management, public policy, and promoting civility.”

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It is this last supposed skill of Snyder’s — “promoting civility” — that drew scorn from New York Magazine’s Zak Cheney-Rice.

“Snyder was responsible for appointing the head of Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality, who ensures water safety statewide, and the emergency manager who oversaw the city when Flint’s water source was switched in 2014,” write Cheney-Rice. “The former governor also appears to have lied about when he first became aware that Flint’s water was unsafe. His administration did not implement emergency procedures until months after they knew about the crisis, while officials continued to insist that the water was safe despite its foul odor, rust color, and the fact that it was causing hair loss and rashes in people who bathed in it.”

Apparently, none of this is matters because Snyder firmly believes in people with differing political views getting along.

“It would be notable if Harvard was merely overlooking Snyder’s fatal neglect in Flint, but to do so while touting what he can teach the Harvard community about civility seems especially perverse,” wrote Cheney-Rice. “Calls for ‘civility’ have been invoked to shield or justify a laundry list of atrocities in the past year.”

“Civility, according to its most vocal proponents, was why former Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen should be allowed to dine publicly without interruption, despite separating immigrant children from their families and locking them in cages,” wrote Cheney-Rice. “Civility is why Representative Dan Crenshaw could initiate an Islamophobic smear campaign against his colleague Ilhan Omar, then get defended by his Republican compatriots when he faced criticism, because they felt he was the one being treated uncivilly. Civility is how Joe Biden rationalizes his past working partnerships with segregationists like James O. Eastland and Herman Talmadge, which he bragged about last week.”

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“In these and related cases, the lack of tension that civility connotes has come to be viewed as its own desirable end,” Cheney-Rice continued. “No matter who is damaged or to what extent, the responsible party resorts to demanding that everyone else remain civil in their response. This might be laudable were it aimed at just solutions, but more often than not, it is geared toward pacifying backlash and ensuring those who inflict the damage are let off the hook, while maintaining the pretense that their opponents are in the wrong. It smooths discourse while failing to solve conflict, in part because that conflict has been successfully reframed as a matter of the victims’ civility.”

“In this light, Snyder’s Harvard fellowship may have already taught its most valuable lesson about civility — as it is commonly deployed — without Snyder delivering a single lecture,” concluded Cheney-Rice. “It suggests that poisoned people in Flint are not worth disrupting the outward normalcy of government figures transitioning from lives of administrative neglect and violence to ones of cushy fellowships and platforms at elite institutions … That Harvard has embraced him anyway is indeed instructive. It just isn’t a lesson that anyone should be comfortable absorbing.”

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2020 Election

If Democrats fight right-wing ‘fake news’ fire with fire, we all lose

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Democrats are increasingly worried about losing the 2020 presidential election to Donald Trump. The party is in seeming disarray from the botched Iowa caucuses and the failure of an "electable" frontrunner to emerge early in the primary season. Trump's fundraising and digital operations are humming, buoyed in part by his acquittal at the Senate trial which refused to remove him from office for soliciting foreign interference in the 2020 elections and obstructing the House's investigation of it.

This article first appeared in Salon.

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Soledad O’Brien shames 1980 ‘Miracle on Ice’ hockey team for photo-op with Trump while wearing MAGA hats

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In an early Sunday morning tweet, award-winning journalist Soledad O'Brien expressed her dismay with members of the 1980 Gold Medal-winning Olympic hockey team for celebrating their historic win over the then-Soviet Union -- dubbed the "Miracle on Ice" -- with Donald Trump while wearing "Make America Great Again" hats.

According to O'Brien, seeing them hand Trump a photo-op filled her with "disappointment."

Taking to Twitter, she wrote, " Ugh.... so disappointed by the @1980MiracleTeam . I loved watching that game as a kid with my dad. Loved watching the movie with my kids. To see them on a stage, in maga hats—kinda crushing I have to say."

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2020 Election

‘Nice deflection, Mr President’: Adam Schiff busts Trump for trying to blame him for his leaky administration

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Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) took a shot at President Donald Trump on Sunday morning after the president tried to blame him for the leak describing a classified meeting lawmakers had with an intelligence official who warned the bipartisan group that the Kremlin is trying to help the president get re-elected.

As the president prepared to leave the White House for India, he told reporters that Schiff was to blame for the leaked meeting story, with the president insisting he personally had not been briefed on the report explosive report.

Responding to a 'Meet the Press" clip of the president making his accusation, Schiff tweeted back: "Nice deflection, Mr. President. But your false claims fool no one. You welcomed Russian help in 2016, tried to coerce Ukraine’s help in 2019, and won’t protect our elections in 2020. Now you fired your intel chief for briefing Congress about it. You’ve betrayed America. Again."

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