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Vox Sentences: Pricewaterhouse Blooper

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The wobbly progressivism of the Oscars ceremony.


WHY ARE WE YELLING

Tom Perez, new DNC chair Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
  • The Democratic Party has a new leader. After a four-month campaign, two ballots of voting, and more than a dozen candidate forums, the Democratic National Committee narrowly elected former Obama Labor Secretary Tom Perez as its new chair on Saturday in Atlanta. [Vox / Andrew Prokop]
  • Perez's win was a loss for backers of Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), champion of Bernie Sanders's wing of the party. Dozens of congressional Democrats (including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer) and state party chairs backed Ellison's bid, citing the need for unity after the party's divisive 2016 presidential primary. [Politico / Gabriel Debenedetti]
  • But Perez enjoyed the active lobbying of President Barack Obama's allies, who retain particularly strong pull among the (relatively obscure) 447 voting members of the DNC. One of Obama's most progressive Cabinet officials, Perez also echoed Ellison's demand for a stronger grassroots party infrastructure — muting clear ideological or practical stakes from the race. [The Washington Post / David Weigel]
  • Still, some of the Ellison/Sanders supporters were furious at the outcome. In a bid for unity, Perez swiftly suspended the rules and made Ellison his "deputy" chair. [The New York Times / Jonathan Martin]
  • Many progressives were particularly aggrieved by a last-minute campaign to attack Ellison as harboring anti-Israel or anti-Jewish sentiment. (Ellison had praised Louis Farrakhan in his 20s, but had since apologized.) Perez's supporters dismissed the idea that the "smear campaign" factored into their decision. [Vox / Jeff Stein]
  • The infighting certainly could have been worse. The candidates took few real hits, if any, at each other, and on Monday Ellison made Perez his guest at President Trump's speech to Congress on Tuesday night. [Mother Jones / Tim Murphy]
  • Another winner of the race: Pete Buttigieg, the charismatic young mayor of South Bend, Indiana. Buttigieg dropped out right before voting began but was widely seen as the third-place candidate and ran a race that cemented his status among senior Democrats as a new "rock star" in the party. [Business Insider / Maxwell Tani]

Oscars fiascors

A colossal Oscars screw-up Eddy Chen/ABC via Getty Images
  • Somehow — the mystery here is both logistical and metaphysical — last night's Oscars ended with the wildest twist of all time, as La La Land, the frontrunner and feel-good Hollywood darling, was announced as the Best Picture winner... [LAT / Libby Hill]
  • ...and 45 seconds later, it was revealed that there had been a horrible mistake and La La Land had actually lost to the underdog, underwatched, gorgeous black queer coming-of-age film Moonlight. [Vox / Todd VanDerWerff]
  • The circumstances of Moonlight's win threaten to overshadow its merit, which is unfair. It's a luminous film. [Slate / Aisha Harris]
  • But the mistake was also the final wobble in a ceremony that often teetered between fake, self-congratulatory white progressivism and the real thing — with actual resistance and commodified #resistance rubbing elbows in an always loud but sometimes hollow show of opposition to the Trump administration. [New Yorker / Jia Tolentino]
  • In fairness to Hollywood, it wasn't importing politics into an apolitical space. The cinematographer of the film that won Best Documentary Short wasn't able to attend because his visa to come to the US for the ceremony was canceled — though the circumstances of its cancellation are a little unclear. [Vox / Alissa Wilkinson]
  • And Best Foreign Film went to an Iranian movie (whose director didn't show up out of solidarity), leading the US State Department to tweet — then delete — congratulations to Iran, in a microcosm of the inconsistency and gratuitous insult that's characterized the Trump administration's foreign policy. [Reuters / Yeganeh Torbati]
  • There is a very good case to be made that we shouldn't be tempted to read all culture as a referendum on Donald Trump. But that lesson also goes for the makers of culture — or at least the people who plan awards shows. [The New Republic / Josephine Livingstone]

Budget-in-extremely-brief

Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images
  • The White House is developing a budget proposal that would boost military spending by $54 billion (10 percent of its existing budget) and make up the difference with cuts to domestic spending and foreign aid. [BBC]
  • The White House is sending budget "targets" to individual agencies, which will then work with the administration to figure out how to get to that number. A "blueprint" should be coming in March, and a full budget (the sort that usually comes out in January or February) will be published in May. Note that none of this actually changes policy; that requires congressional action. [Vox / Brad Plumer]
  • We don't know where, exactly, the White House is planning to find $54 billion. But early reporting suggests that the Environmental Protection Agency will face deep cuts (like, up to 40 percent of its budget)... [Huffington Post / Alexander C. Kaufman]
  • ...while some smaller programs, like the Legal Services Corporation (which provides legal aid to people who can't afford lawyers in civil cases), could be eliminated entirely. [Think Progress / Alan Pyke]
  • The aggressive move to boost defense spending can't be pleasing to conservative isolationists, who heard in Trump's campaign rhetoric a less neoconservative or militaristic approach than George W. Bush or Barack Obama took. But Trump, like America, has always wanted the upsides of interventionism without the downsides. [The Hill / Stephen Kinzer]
  • It'll be interesting to see which side of the ax homeland security spending falls on. Trump is going to need to find money if he wants to hire 5,000 new Border Patrol agents, for example. And the fact that the agency is considering loosening application requirements (including skipping the mandatory polygraph test) indicates that it wants to staff up quickly. [Foreign Policy / Molly O'Toole]

Miscellaneous

  • Bryant Johnson is Ruth Bader Ginsburg's personal trainer. Here's the aerobics, flexibility, and strength training regimen he uses to keep Roe v. Wade from getting overturned. [Politico Magazine / Ben Schreckinger]
  • The difference between sound editing, sound mixing, and sound design, explained. [The Guardian / Jordan Kisner]
  • In 2016, HIV infections among gay men in London fell by 40 percent. And the man who deserves the bulk of the credit, Greg Owen, isn't a doctor or epidemiologist, but an unemployed, homeless former sex worker. [BuzzFeed / Patrick Strudwick]
  • Kenneth Arrow, the recently deceased Nobel Prize–winning economist, offers a "cautious case" for socialism. [Dissent / Kenneth Arrow]
  • How code schools became one of the most effective vocational training options in the country. [WSJ / Christopher Mims]

Verbatim

  • "I knew he was Mexican, but he’s been here so long, he’s just one of us." [Debra Johnson to NYT / Monica Davey]
  • "What isn’t Ikea becomes Ikea, and what is Ikea becomes everything." [FiveThirtyEight / Oliver Roeder]
  • "It calls to mind the exchange between the American military theorist Harry Summers and a North Vietnamese colonel in Hanoi in 1975. Summers remarked, 'You know you never defeated us on the battlefield.' The colonel replied, 'That may be so but it is also irrelevant.'" [WSJ / Ian Beckett]
  • "The problem with the sewer socialist tradition … is that it inevitably makes the sewers more important than the socialism." [Alon Levy]
  • "[Kevin Durant] drives a Tesla, pals around with the Silicon Valley’s A-list and is laying the foundation for a tech empire of his own." [NYT / Alex Williams]

Watch this: How wildlife films warp time

Slow motion and time lapse can reveal the wonders of the natural world. [YouTube / Joss Fong and Dion Lee]