Bullying Pulpit

Keeping the Twitler-in-Chief in check; ICE moves immigrant with tumor from hospital to detention center; and more.


  • Trump watch: An undocumented immigrant with a brain tumor was forcibly removed from a Texas hospital and returned to a detention center by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Rafael Bernal reports for The Hill.

  • Federal law (Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972) protects students at federally funded schools from discrimination based on sex, but under a new policy just issued by the Trump administration, states will be allowed to discriminate against transgender students, David Smith and Molly Redden report for The Guardian. “This is a mean-spirited attack on hundreds of thousands of students who simply want to be their true selves and be treated with dignity while attending school,” said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. “These young people already face incredible hurdles in their pursuit of education and acceptance. With a pen stroke, the Trump administration effectively sanctions the bullying, ostracizing, and isolation of these children, putting their very lives in danger.” A case challenging a Virginia school board that has been preventing a transgender teen from using the boy’s bathroom at his school will be argued in the Supreme Court later this spring.

  • House Republicans are maneuvering to avoid a full floor vote on a “resolution of inquiry” sponsored by Rep. Jerry Nadler (-D-NY) that is seeking disclosure of Trump’s businesses and potential conflicts of interest with Russia, Rachel Bade and John Bresnahan report for Politico. Trump will be speaking before a joint session of Congress Tuesday night.

  • Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, says that the committee is planning to formally request former national security adviser Michael Flynn testify as part of its ongoing investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 election, Karoun Demirjian reports for The Washington Post. She also says she is open to requesting President Trump’s tax returns as part of that inquiry.

  • The Air Force cannot verify Trump’s claim that he has saved $1 billion on the cost of the next Air Force One jets being built by Boeing, Bloomberg’s Anthony Capaccio reports.

  • Newly released emails show in greater detail how EPA chief Scott Pruitt coordinated with fossil fuel companies while he was Oklahoma’s attorney general, the AP’s Michael Biesecker and Jason Dearen report.

  • Here’s how Trump’s campaign staff says they figured out how to keep their little Twitler from constantly sending out inflammatory tweets, according to Tara Palmieri’s reporting for Politico: By “ensuring that his personal media consumption includes a steady stream of praise,” and when necessary, “to drum some up.” Also this: “The in-person touch is also important to keeping Trump from running too hot. One Trump associate said it’s important to show Trump deference and offer him praise and respect, as that will lead him to more often listen. And if Trump becomes obsessed with a grudge, aides need to try and change the subject, friends say. Leaving him alone for several hours can prove damaging, because he consumes too much television and gripes to people outside the White House.”

  • Don’t read this piece if you want to sleep well tonight: Ezra Klein on how a failing Trump administration may feed his illiberalism.

  • Gerrit Lansing, who left the RNC to become the White House chief digital officer, failed his security check and stepped down February 9, Tara Palmeri and Daniel Lippman report for Politico. This is bad news, as Lansing was a strong supporter of continuing the U.S. Digital Service.

  • Led by Free Press, dozens of digital groups have written to the FCC, urging it to maintain the Lifeline program’s expansion to include subsidized broadband access to the poor.

  • Tech and politics: Responding (obliquely) to my and Kate Albright-Hanna’s recent articles about the mistakes made by the Obama team back in 2008-09, former Obama campaign CTO Michael Slaby offers some soul-searching of his own. With the Democratic National Committee about to pick a new chair, he argues that “we have another opportunity for a new path right now” but warns that much deeper changes are needed there. Amen to that.

  • Richard Johnson of the NY Post’s Page Six column reports that the architects working on the Barack Obama Presidential Center in Chicago are worried that it could require a $1.5 billion endowment, triple the cost of the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas. Let’s hope not—that’s a lot of money that could be better put to use actually helping people organize for change.

  • According to Media Impact Funders, 89 foundations donated $13.4 million to support investigative journalism in 2015 and 2016, which is a drop in the bucket compared to the hundred-fold drop in newspaper revenue. As Paul Waldman writes for The New York Times, “four names are missing” from the list of donations: “the foundations connected to Facebook, Google, Verizon and Apple.” (The same pattern holds, he notes, if you go further back in time.) Waldman also points out that while Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s recent manifesto about community discussed the state of journalism, it “ignored two major points — the role that Facebook and other technology platforms are playing in inadvertently damaging local news media, and the one way they could actually save journalism: with a massive philanthropic commitment.”

  • Facebook is wooing conservatives at CPAC, report Tony Romm and Nancy Scola of Politico. “The company is donating $62,500 in cash to the event,” they report. “It also plans to teach conservative-leaning candidates there how to use its platform to reach new voters, and it will hold a happy hour for up-and-coming conservatives.”

  • What sharing economy? Susan Fowler’s experience at Uber reflects an “aggressive unrestrained workplace,” Mike Isaac reports for The New York Times.

  • While Uber board member Arianna Huffington has stepped in personally to assist with the company’s internal investigation of its endemic sexism, we are still waiting to hear from some of the company’s other high-profile politicos on the scandal. For example, David Plouffe, who is now the president of policy and advocacy for the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, is still a “chief advisor” and Uber board member.

  • Aimee Lucido, a software engineer at Uber, reflects on her own experiences with sexual harassment at Silicon Valley companies.

  • Opposition watch: Some Senators are receiving faxes (!) from their constituents at the rate of 300 an hour, according to FaxZero, David Goldenberg reports for Vox. Since the first full day of the 115th Congress, Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) has received more than 20,000 alone from FaxZero’s Freemium service.

  • “For young leftists and potential recruits, Twitter has become the new Socialist Worker, spreading the Marxist dialectic one Simpsons joke at a time,” writes Emma Roller for Deadspin, reporting on a meeting of the Young Democratic Socialists annual conference, which just took place in Brooklyn.

  • This is civic tech: Robin Hood Foundation’s Blue Ridge Labs is looking for its next round of fellows; engineers, designers and product managers’ applications are due February 27; domain experts are due March 6.

  • Ed Felten, the director of Princeton’s Center for Information Technology Policy, has published “Nuts and Bolts of Encryption: A Primer for Policymakers.”

  • Moon Duchin is a Tufts University geometry professor who is using math to help fight gerrymandering, Shannon Najmabadi reports for the Chronicle of Philanthropy. She is training her peers to serve as expert witnesses in court cases challenging gerrymanders.

  • In the middle of today’s great wave of civic participation, the folks at ioby (the crowdfunding platform that focuses on supporting neighborhood level projects) have a new blog post up arguing that the “most meaningful civic actions are not merely registering of opinion but a reclaiming of power.”

  • Our friend Anthea Watson Strong is leaving the Google Civics team to come work in New York as the product manager for local news at Facebook. She leaves with a strong record of largely-unheralded accomplishments that have helped hundreds of millions of Google users better access vital civic information about elections, legislation and local municipal information. She writes, “I’m wary of becoming infected with tech-savior syndrome, but it’s clear that our platforms play a role in maintaining strong democracies that serve all of us well. Our global society is complex and diverse. Defeating tribalism, fostering informed public debate and making space for compromise is necessary for good governance. Of all the shared institutions supporting our civic infrastructure, trusted, local journalism may be the most threatened. We need access to accurate sources of information and a healthy public square to make decisions in the best interest of the people.” Amen, sister!