At The Guardian yesterday Arwa Mahdawi explained her theory of populist correctness which, in contrast to political correctness seen across the political spectrum, comes pretty much exclusively from the alt-right.
From the gender-neutral ashes of political correctness a new sort of PC culture has risen. You could call it populist correctness: a virulent policing of language and stifling of debate that is rapidly and perniciously insinuating itself into daily life in Trump’s America and Brexit Britain.
Stifling debate has sometimes worked to bring down a society, though one could argue that both the US and the UK have traditions of public debate that are old and deep enough to withstand some pushing from the authoritarian right. The so-called alt-right, a name chosen to obscure the white supremacy and racism, is thankfully not the entirety of the right wing; there are many on that side of the spectrum who sincerely believe in small government and big corporations as representing the salvation of us all. At the moment, though, it’s the alt-right that has the floor, and they’re not the type to relinquish the floor voluntarily. But far more of us are repelled than attracted by their presentation, and I predict that what might look solid right now will come crashing down around the players, who after all are carrying toolboxes bereft of anything other than their own egos. They are fragile and threaten unexpectedly to explode.
As well as silencing opposing opinions by branding them elitist, populist correctness works to rebrand ideas, creating a new vocabulary for a new world order. The right prides itself on being straight-talking, on calling a spade a spade, but when it comes to calling a Nazi a Nazi or a racist a racist — well then, things are more vague. They are the “alt-right”, please. Use unacceptable terminology and they will get very angry indeed.
But what’s this? I thought an easily triggered outrage button was the preserve of politically correct liberals? From the vitriol the right heaps on “sensitive snowflakes”, you’d think they have skins as thick as elephants. Far from it: nobody is offended by quite such a wide range of banal things as conservatives. Everything from insufficiently Christmassy Starbucks coffee cups to Budweiser ads to Kermit the Frog’s lack of trousers seems to cause an outpouring of outrage. And, while jokes about minorities or women may be considered just banter, don’t even try joking about white people — that’s reverse-racism! Indeed, many triggered rightwingers recently deleted their Netflix accounts in protest against a new comedy show called Dear White People.
These folks seem to need a safe space.
Read this whole story from The Guardian, and tell me how the so-called president can possibly avoid impeachment with Russian, German and American bloodhounds nipping at his heels.
What is it about Iran with us? A national schizophrenia? A disinterest in looking farther back into our national past than Mork and Mindy? What? For example, an article titled “Ayatollah Calls Trump ‘True Face’ Of the U.S.” appeared New York Times. Thomas Erdbrink, reporting from Tehran on what the Ayatollah actually said, did what a reporter for the indispensable Times is supposed to do — and on site! So far, so good.
But then (read carefully now) Erdbrink segued into some context, beginning with “The history of animosity between both countries is long and deep,” followed by what we think of Iran – four words: sponsor of terrorist organizations. “Iran has also been held responsible by the United States for several terror attacks, most decades ago. One of them, of course [?!], was the seizure of 54 members of the American Embassy staff in Tehran for 444 days during the Islamic Revolution in 1979. Iran has also been accused of involvement in a 1983 bomb attack at a Marine barracks in Lebanon, where 241 service personnel died…. Iran denies the accusations.
“Iran has pressed several claims against the United States. Iran holds the United States responsible for having supported Saddam Hussein with intelligence, funds and weapons after he attacked Iran [Note: Iraq attacked Iran.] in 1980, dragging both countries into a [sic] eight-year war where thousands of Iranians and Iraqis died. [Deaths as would be typical in eight-year wars.]
“In 1988, an American naval vessel, the Vincennes, shot down an Iran Air commercial plane, flying over the Persian Gulf [yes, Persian Gulf] to Dubai, in the united Arab Emirates. All 290 people aboard died. Iran called the attack deliberate and the United States called it a mistake. Under a settlement … the United States offered no apologies and was order to pay around $60 million in damages to families of the victims.” That’s it on the Times’s “history of animosity.”
Really, that’s it? ……Read on
…as we see from the Miami New Times:
But Rubio’s help in DeVos’ razor-thin approval is especially unsurprising. It turns out DeVos — a multibillionaire with zero educational experience — and her family have been especially generous donors to Rubio’s campaign coffers. In fact, Rubio accepted more DeVos cash than any other senator who backed her nomination today.…and from AL.com:
Rubio has taken a total of $98,300 from DeVos and her family members, according to Federal Election Commission reports crunched by the Center for American Progress (CAP).
That’s a decent chunk of cash, even in a GOP Senate where DeVos rained nearly $1 million. And as the CAP noted, DeVos hasn’t been shy about why she donates so heavily to Republican causes.
“I have decided, however, to stop taking offense at the suggestion that we are buying influence,” DeVos told Roll Call back in the late ‘90s. “Now I simply concede the point. They are right...We expect a return on our investment.”
Former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman was released from a federal prison in Louisiana this morning and is on his way back to Alabama, a family spokesman confirmed this morning…Did I mention that Siegelman (below) is a Democrat and Rubio is a Republic? Did I have to?
Siegelman was indicted in 2005 and both were convicted in 2006 on bribery charges along with HealthSouth founder Richard Scrushy. Prosecutors said that Scrushy paid $500,000 into Siegelman's campaign to start a state lottery in exchange for a seat on a state health board.
Siegelman was sentenced to 88 months in prison in 2007 and immediately taken into custody but nine months later got out of prison on bond in 2008 as he appealed his conviction. He was later resentenced to 78 months and returned to prison in September 2012.
You don’t have to read the whole book on right-to-life by Supreme Court Justice-in-waiting Neil Gorsuch; Vox has done it for you. And the issue turns out to be not nearly as simple as proponents on either side of the argument would have it. Take a look. The first two paragraphs below are from Gorsuch’s book, and the third is from Vox.
Clarence Darrow of Scopes Monkey fame proclaimed, “Chloroform unfit children. Show them the same mercy that is shown beasts that are no longer fit to live.” Novelist Sherwood Anderson and physician Abraham Wolbarst, two future members of the Euthanasia Society of America, openly argued that society had a duty to kill those with defects because they unnecessarily drained community resources.
Madison Grant, a New York attorney and Yale Law graduate who also served as a trustee of the American Museum of Natural History and cofounded the American Eugenics Society, proclaimed that “[t]he laws of nature require the obliteration of the unfit and [a] human is valuable only when it is of use to the community or race.”… In 1939 Ann Mitchell, an ESA cofounder, welcomed the advent of World War II as a “biological house cleaning.” She counseled “euthanasia as a war measure, including euthanasia for the insane, feeble-minded monstrosities.”
Of course, euthanasia did become a war measure, specifically for Nazi Germany, which launched the T4 program the same month it invaded Poland; about 200,000 disabled people were killed in various Nazi euthanasia efforts. And the effort was substantially inspired by American euthanasia advocates. Gorsuch notes that Adolf Hitler himself wrote to Madison Grant, describing Grant’s pro-eugenics book The Passing of the Great Race as “his Bible,” and stated that he had “studied with interest the laws of several American states concerning prevention of reproduction by people whose progeny would, in all probability, be of no value or be injurious to the racial stock.”
At The Rectification of Names Yastreblyansky reimagines Trump’s recent babblings on the occasion of Black History Month as “an intensely felt and personal poem in which his pain at the unjust suspicions to which he was almost subjected for half an hour brings him into deeper connection with the African American experience.” I wish I had written his post myself, but failing that, the best I can do is order you to go here at once.
A federal judge has ordered a golf club owned by President Donald Trump to refund nearly $6 million to members who said Trump’s team essentially confiscated refundable deposits after taking over the country club in 2012…Who put that pinko on the court? Oh, wait a minute:
U.S. District Court Judge Kenneth Marra ruled that the Trump National Jupiter Golf Club violated the contracts with members by retaining the fees and locking out many members who had declared their plans to resign.
“At all times relevant to this lawsuit, Donald J. Trump was a private citizen. As a result the Court will refer to him as such in this decision. In doing so, the Court means no disrespect to him or the esteemed position he now holds,” wrote Marra, an appointee of President George W. Bush.
Baskar Sunkara at The Guardian hits the nail on the head.
If the last week has shown us anything, it’s that Donald Trump has power, but he doesn’t have much of a mandate yet.
We need to keep it that way — and be wary of the bad political leadership and strategy that can help him build one. November’s election is a powerful reminder that the Clinton establishment’s mix of socially inclusive rhetoric and neoliberal economics is a weak response to xenophobic populism.
An anti-Trump resistance movement must be broad, but it must direct its anger and energy not just at the enemy in the White House, but the failed leadership that let him get there. The Tea Party movement couldn’t have emerged with Bob Dole and George W Bush among their leaders. We can’t build our anti-Trump resistance, settled with generations of unpopular Democratic party leaders either.
We can build the resistance, but not on the same old path with the same leaders. The next generation of Democratic leaders has yet to make individual names for themselves; at this point it’s hard to say who will emerge to compete for head of the party. But that matters much less than the energy we find to put into local actions, possibly but not necessarily coordinated with other locations; how much we are able to act in whatever theater to modify the conditions that created and allow the regrettable situation we find ourselves in.
Our corrupt and vicious criminal justice system is one of the many actually important problems ignored in last year’s trivia-heavy presidential campaign. Here, then, are talking points that the 2020 candidates will no doubt find useful. Just kidding.
The primary reason for wrongful conviction is that the success indicator for police, prosecutor, and judge is conviction, not justice. Crimes are solved by wrongful convictions. High conviction rates boost the careers of prosecutors, and high profile convictions boost their political careers. The key to rapid and numerous convictions is the plea bargain.
And plea bargains suit judges as they keep the court docket clear. Today 97% of felony cases are settled with a plea bargain. This means police evidence and a prosecutor’s case are tested only three times out of 100. When the evidence and case are tested in court, the test confronts a vast array of prosecutorial misconduct, such as suborned perjury and the withholding of exculpatory evidence. In America, everything is loaded against Justice.
In a plea bargain police do not have to present evidence, prosecutors do not have to bring a case, and judges do not have to pay attention to the case and be troubled by a growing backlog as trials consume days and weeks.
In a plea bargain the defendant, innocent or guilty, is told that he can plead to this or that offence, which carries a lighter sentence than the crime that allegedly has actually occurred and on which the defendant is arrested, or the defendant can go to trial where he will face more serious charges that carry much harsher penalties. As it has become routine for police to falsify evidence, for prosecutors to suborn perjury and withhold exculpatory evidence, for jurors naively to trust police and prosecutors, and for judges to look the other way, attorneys advise defendants to accept a plea deal. In other words, no one expects a fair trial or for real evidence to play a role in the outcome.
Bill Gates and Warren Buffet are optimistic about the future. They spoke at Columbia University on Friday and gave hope to the fearful and the Trump-wary.
“I am confident that America will move ahead," Buffett said.They also cautioned people against short-term thinking and told the kids to focus on doing good works. Got that? Keep it in mind.
Gates, meanwhile, said the desire for innovation and support for research are “strong” and “largely bipartisan,” despite differences on how to accomplish and fund both.
“This administration is new enough; we don’t know how its budget priorities are going to come out,” but there is much intensity to ensure that the executive branch and Congress encourage “amazing things,” Gates said.
And there you have it. Thus sprake two of the most revered oracles of our, uhm, less than exalted culture. One, sounding like he suffers from echolalia from hearing too much Trumpspeak, assures us we’re going to like, totally do amazing things! The other regurgitates a limp cliche about America moving forward that sounds like something lifted from one of Barack Obama’s weekly radio addresses. Everything is fine. America is moving onward and upward, just like Thomas Friedman says, and all that divides us are disputes over strategy and funding. See you at the next Rotary Club meeting!
(I’m sorry, but Bill Gates’ pollyannish “technology will save us from everything” attitude is annoying beyond words; I really just wish that he and Mark Zuckerberg would buy a secluded island and go hide there forever and ever, and take Thomas Friedman and Fareed Zakaria with them.)
In a totally unrelated bit of news, Forbes Magazine informs us that the ten richest Americans made six billion dollars in the first week of Trump’s presidency. Bill Gates might be unclear about the budgeting priorities of the Trump Administration, but the criminals on Wall Street aren’t. They’re positively bullish on what they’ve seen and heard so far, and the stock market has hit record highs. Unlike the rest of us, they’re experiencing certainty. Isn’t that nice? Do you think Warren Buffet’s optimism might have something to do with the fact that he made 2.4 billion last week? (Strange prick Larry Ellison, on the other hand, had to settle for a measly $928 million, loser!)
Don’t worry about walls, Muslim bans, pipelines, runaway climate change, purges at the EPA, or Trump’s genuinely clinical narcissism. Things will be just dandy. Amazing things will continue to happen at Microsoft (ha ha ha ha) and Warren Buffet will still make billions (and still be regarded by the people he screws as a kindly old grandpa). Just keep your chin up, do good works, and by all means, avoid short term thinking!
“I don’t like to lie, no. I don’t like to lie, no. It’s something that — it’s not something that I would like to be doing,” Trump said.Is that really what Trump believes? Or is he just getting cute on us with those double negatives? After all, two no’s do make a yes, right? Same way two wrongs don’t make a right? Something like that anyway.
Not misstatement, not alternative fact, not misrepresentation, not falsehood, not fib, not distortion or exaggeration or fabrication, not obliquity or prevarication or untruth or pretense or even tarradiddle.
Just plain old “lie,” right there on page one. Go thou and do likewise, crooked media.
Today the New York Times published a suggestion of mine for Trump’s inaugural address. It’s longer than 140 characters, but not by much. Mysteriously the piece didn’t show up in the print edition we get in downtown West Cornwall, but my sons found it on line here.
Among the comments I found this quote from Abraham Lincoln’s January 27, 1838 speech to the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois. In a well-ordered universe these words would be tattooed by law inside the eyelids of every American president.
“At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? By what means shall we fortify against it? Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant to step the ocean and crush us at a blow? Never! All the armies of Europe, Asia, and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Bonaparte for a commander, could not by force take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years.
“At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction were our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.”
…a buck is a buck. From the New York Times:
Marji Ross, the president and publisher of Regnery, a conservative publishing house, said she considered Mr. Yiannopoulos’s book proposal but did not pursue it because she felt it would be too polarizing among mainstream conservatives…
“We had certainly planned to take advantage of those opportunities if Hillary Clinton had won the election, and we looked at several books that we had signed up or considered the day after the election and thought, well, those aren’t going to work,” Ms. Ross said. “Oftentimes, we have said here that what’s bad for America is good for Regnery book sales…”
As is frequently the case these days, what the plurality/majority votes for often produces the opposite of what voters apparently wanted.
A hard Brexit with deep cuts to immigration would force Britons into longer working lives in order to maintain a sustainable ratio of workers and pensioners, according to modelling conducted for the Guardian.
Rises in the state pension age are anticipated as a result of increased life expectancy and large numbers of baby boomers retiring. But further delays to pension payments will be necessary if current levels of immigration, which sustain the country’s old age dependency ratio, are not maintained, the Oxford University work indicates.
Prof Sarah Harper, the director of the Oxford Institute of Population Ageing and chair of the UK government’s foresight review on ageing societies, said: “The message from Brexit is if you don’t want immigrants, you’re going to have to work longer. That’s how the sums work.”
So what is it with societies’ unwillingness or inability to look to the immediate future and imagine realistically what might happen? Is it the pace of change, the amount of information needed to keep up with events, or the economic pressures involved in living in a new Gilded Age?
I’ve been pretty much out of service since before Christmas, when I had emergency surgery to unblock my obstructed bowels. The operation went well and so did the recovery, which was as pain-free as anesthetics could make it. Which was, apart from the first day after the operation, just flat pain-free. I was amazed and thankful.
Anyway here I am, and a Happy New Year to you, too.
From CNN.COM we learn that:
Conservative author and television personality Monica Crowley, whom Donald Trump has tapped for a top national security communications role, plagiarized large sections of her 2012 book, a CNN KFile review has found.
The review of Crowley’s June 2012 book, “What The (Bleep) Just Happened,” found upwards of 50 examples of plagiarism from numerous sources, including the copying with minor changes of news articles, other columnists, think tanks, and Wikipedia.
Yawn. Time to plagiarize myself, who wrote this in 2008 for Salon:
I know exactly how Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick felt on seeing his words from their author’s womb unfairly ripped by Barack Obama.
I’ve been feeling the same way ever since the presidential campaign of 1984, when I wrote this for Walter Mondale: “In Reagan’s America, a rising tide lifts all yachts.” Mr. Mondale lost every state but Minnesota, but my line lived on. Through the years it has been stolen by the best — Molly Ivins, Ralph Nader, Joseph Stiglitz, Warren Buffett, Doonesbury, Rush Limbaugh — and always without credit.
Do I feel used? Cheated? No, I feel the same way I did in 1988 when the media went into snit mode on discovering that Joe Biden — the horror, the horror! — had failed to footnote a line or two he lifted from a British politician. I just feel indifferent.
The awful truth is that speechwriters have a secret, unwritten code. In obedience to it, the first thing we do on finding ourselves in the White House is to rummage through the papers of past presidents in search of things to pilfer.
Here’s one such thing, from Warren G. Harding’s keynote address at the 1916 Republican Convention: “We must have a citizenship less concerned about what the government can do for it, and more anxious about what it can do for the nation.”
With the subtraction of a few syllables and the addition of a soupçon of affectation (“Ask not?”), Harding’s piffle could be and was recycled for John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address — just as Harding himself had swiped it from a speech Oliver Wendell Holmes gave in 1884. Nor was Holmes likely to have been the first to come up with the general idea, which after all basically reduces to nothing more than, “Don’t expect me to do everything around this house, young lady.”
And nor was I the first to come up with that business about rising yachts. I can’t find any earlier evidence of it on the Internet, but that means nothing. All us monkeys pounding on all those typewriters for all those years? Somebody wrote it before.
Virtually all writing is plagiarism anyway, whether the writer knows it or not. Very few ideas, except out at the cutting edge of science, have not occurred to somebody before and been written down in one form or other. The only function remaining for the writer is to repeat in today’s idiom what has already been written, somewhat differently, for readers in the past. This is particularly true in political prose, which tends to be light on facts and innocent of all but a few childish ideas.
To criticize a politician for plagiarizing, then, is no more sensible than to criticize a fish for swimming. It is what both animals are designed to do. The only sensible criticism would focus on how effectively political speech does the job for which it is intended. How skillfully does the politician mix and administer the small dose of simplistic placebos that the patient is considered able to handle?
For instance, this draft language for a speech was written in 1860 by the incoming secretary of state, William Henry Seward. Note that it is entirely free of meaning:
“The mystic chords which, proceeding from so many battlefields and so many patriotic graves, pass through all the hearts and all hearths in this broad continent of ours, will yet again harmonize in their ancient music when breathed upon by the guardian angel of the nation.”
Seward’s boss repurposed this into:
“The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”
This is equally free of meaning, but goes a considerable way toward explaining why Seward was the incoming secretary of state and Lincoln was the incoming president. It ain’t what you say but how you say it.
And that is why the Clinton camp has found itself reduced to rolling out the pop gun of plagiarism at this difficult point in the campaign. They have no other artillery.
But as somebody or other may have more or less said somewhere else, Obama probably has nothing to fear from smear itself.
It seems Donald Trump is having trouble rounding up A-list performers to play at his inauguration. So far he’s got the Radio City Rockettes and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, or the Ice Capades meet the Lawrence Welk Show. Pinch me, it’s gonna be huge.
(Not that the so-called A-listers are any great shakes. When I hear that Elton John, Garth Brooks and Celine Dion are performing at some gala event, I head straight to the medicine cabinet.)
I guess all that talk about torturing Muslims, grabbing pussy and calling all Mexicans rapists was a bit of a deal breaker for those sensitive artsy fartsy types in the music world. Hmm. Who could have known?
Now he has to slum around with Ted Nugent and Scott Baio for celebrity cred, which is like getting your vitamin C from orange flavored cough drops and a Fruit Roll-Up. I dunno, maybe he can sweet talk Creed and Nickleback into showing up?
“I think it’s imperative that Republicans do a replacement simultaneous to repeal,” Paul said Wednesday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” cautioning that disaster in the form of insurance company bankruptcies and a “massive” bailout could follow a move to repeal the law without a new one in its place.
Say what you want about Obama — and I share all of the standard leftist gripes about his presidency, i.e., he’s too cozy with Wall Street and corporate America, he’s too centrist, he’s too accommodating with Republicans, he’s too fond of the surveillance state, etc. — but there is one thing about him that I’ve always admired and that we’re going to be missing very soon, his temperament.
Unlike a disturbingly large number of his countrymen, particularly in the press and the Republican party, Barack Obama is a mature adult. He doesn’t engage in juvenile Twitter wars or dwell on them at unseemly length, unlike a certain president-elect and many Very Serious Pundits. He’s calm and rational. He doesn’t make hasty and emotional decisions. He weighs evidence, ponders outcomes, and isn’t swayed by narrow partisan biases. In short, he thinks. He has, if nothing else, the temperament of a statesman.
Obama is the only president of my lifetime who didn’t fill me with violent nausea two years into his first term. On the contrary, I still personally like the man after eight years. I’m also a diehard Michelle Obama fan (she’s tougher than Barack, and word has it she’s much more liberal). I’d gladly vote for her if she ran for president, but she’s far too competent for the dim and venal mediocrities who run the Democratic party and far too dignified for so low an occupation as politics, which, as Gore Vidal pointed out, is a compound word consisting of poli, which is Greek for many, and tics, which are blood sucking insects.
I bring this up because Obama seems blessedly immune to the anti-Russian hysteria that is now engulfing the Kool Kids in Washington. Once again, unverified assertions from anonymous official sources have them all hot and bothered and eager for a Tough Response. It was up to the President on Friday to clarify for these illustrious journalists that, no, Russia did not tamper with the election. They hacked into the Democrat’s internal emails and leaked them to the public. They didn’t directly interfere with the election itself. Votes were’t changed or suppressed. The integrity of the electoral system was not compromised. It remains as pure and sacred as the Supreme Court and the Diebold corporation left it.
By contemporary ethical standards this barely qualifies as a ratfuck. Your average Wall Streeter commits graver felonies before lunch every day. It is not a threat to our democracy, and it certainly doesn’t justify ratcheting up tensions between the U.S. and Russia.…Read on
I dreamed that Adolph Hitler was a guest on NPR’s Morning Edition with Steve Inskeep. I caught the show in mid-interview, and it went something like this:
Steve Inskeep: Mr. Hitler, critics charge that your rhetoric is extreme. They say the Jews weren’t primarily responsible for Germany’s defeat in the First World War. At most, they say, the Jews were only partially responsible. Are they wrong?
Hitler: They are filthy liars! I will round them all up and send them to work camps in the east.
Steve Inskeep: That segues nicely into the next topic I’d like to discuss. You’ve said you plan to invade Russia, enslave the population and, quote, “exterminate all inferior elements.” Some critics charge that this might have a damaging impact on the Russian people, yet you argue that it would be a boon to German economic growth. Who’s right here?
Hitler: I am always right. We must slaughter the untermenschen to make room for the German people!
Steve Inskeep: Adolph Hitler, thanks so much for being our guest here on Morning Edition.
Steve Inskeep: Coming up next, Michele Norris discusses how a Silicon Valley start-up has tackled the problem of employee burn out with a dynamic new concept, pizza night. Michele?
Michele Norris: It’s not Michele, Steve. It’s Meeeshele.
Steve Inskeep: Oh, so sorry.
Michelle Norris: Thanks, Steve, but it’s not just pizza. A growing young company in Sunnyvale is implementing all kinds creative new strategies to help their workers through those grueling ten to twelve hour days. For example, on Fridays they all wear capes, call each other superheroes, and let the employee of the month sit on a bean bag chair!
Steve Inskeep: Sounds exciting!
Hitler: Did you know I have only one testicle, Ms. Norris?
Michele Norris: My goodness. That must be so traumatic for you, Mr. Hitler.
Hitler: My father beat me horribly.
Michele Norris: Omigod, we should, like, totally call Terry Gross and book you for an interview on Fresh Air!
Steve Inskeep: I don’t have any testicles at all, and I've gotten through life just fine. Some skeptics might charge that this problem is overstated. …
I pass along this from Lawyers, Guns & Money not so much because it’s from an intriguing piece (which it is, so go read it), but because the italicized metaphor is new to me and I want to nail it down in the few seconds before the next squirrel attracts my own attention.
Exceptionalism means never having to be sorry that your side elected a president who is overdrawn at the First Bank of Fucks and has the attention span of a dog at a squirrel farm. In fact, it means being glad about it. After all, he’ll sign anything we give him. Just tell him it’s an autograph for a fashion model who really digs yams, hooray!
This from The Washington Post:
As advanced CT scans and other analytical techniques become cheaper and more widely available, scientists are able to noninvasively tease out secrets locked within ancient sarcophagi. After examining what was long thought a jar of organs, Cambridge archaeologists discovered a tiny Egyptian mummy in May. The embalmed fetus, as young as 16 weeks, is the smallest yet found.And this from our next vice president:
A few months later, Dutch museum curators were shocked to see the bodies of 47 mummified infant crocodiles lining the walls of a sarcophagus. The curators were expecting to find just two adolescent reptiles.
The sweeping abortion bill that Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed into law in March gained national attention for prohibiting women from electing to have an abortion due to the race, gender, or disability of the fetus. But the bill contained another unusual provision: It required that aborted fetuses receive what amounts to a funeral…
This sort of fetus funeral provision has recently gained traction in legislatures around the country: Arkansas and Georgia have similar laws on the books, while Ohio, South Carolina, and Mississippi have all considered similar measures in the last year.
All right, so maybe one of Trump’s cabinet picks isn’t all bad. Fair is fair, so I direct you to the Salon article from which this comes:
If liberals like to claim that they don’t think in simple black-and-white terms, perhaps they would consider the important work Sessions has done for the past decade and a half with Bob Woodson, an African-American community leader awarded a MacArthur fellowship (commonly known as a “genius grant”) and the Presidential Medal of Freedom by George W. Bush…
Four years of Donald Trump is almost too much to bear. For the record, I don’t think he’s a genuine Nazi or a fascist. I think his racism was mostly an election ploy. He scoped out a demographic and hit their sweet spots. The real danger of his presidency will stem from the fact that he’s temperamentally unsuited to lead. He’s more interested in tweeting and grabbing pussy than doing the dull work of governance. He just doesn’t have the patience or the attention span to be a genuine dictator. It’s hard work — no one put in more time and effort than Joseph Stalin, who toiled into the wee hours signing execution orders and concocting five year plans. Trump just doesn’t have it. He’ll be a strutting, tweeting, TV nation Mussolini while the real business of government is carried out by Mike Pence, Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, and they are going to unleash the most reactionary, corporate friendly agenda we’ve ever seen. It’s going to be worse than Bush’s first term. It’s the Koch Brothers’ country now, and they’re going to nail down the plutocracy and make it a permanent fact of our national life. Given the state of the climate, it’s questionable whether the planet can endure the four years of witless environmental despoliation that Trump and the Republicans are promising to bring. It is horrifying beyond words.
On the other hand, Trump is an extremely vindictive man and he holds grudges. He’ll abuse his power in a multitude of petty and vile ways. He will bully and browbeat the press. He will sue newspapers into bankruptcy. He’ll sic the IRS on his political opponents. He may well fling bombs all over the Middle East. If the economy crashes or we suffer terrorist attack, America will be finished. We really are entering one of the darkest periods in our history.
Fidel Castro died yesterday at the age of 90.
The fact is barely mentioned in the New York Times obituary, but America at first welcomed as a hero the man who overthrew Batista. In our great lack of wisdom, however, we soon decided that Cuba — Cuba! — posed an existential threat to the United States. John F. Kennedy would have blown up the world to save it if the grownups in Moscow hadn’t stopped him.
To remind us of our brief pre-paranoia honeymoon with Fidel, though, here’s Sam Smith at Undernews:
One night in April 1959 Allison was conducting his program as usual – sometime between ten thirty and one am – at Cores Restaurant, 1305 E St NW, when the recently victorious Fidel Castro and his aides came into the restaurant looking for something to eat without any idea a radio program was underway. Castro had come to Washington to speak at the National Press Club, right around the corner from the restaurant.
Here is the tape of what happened next as reported on the program that followed. It is extraordinary:
And here’s more from Smith, who was a reporter for the Harvard student radio station in those days:
“The most noteworthy figure to appear at Harvard during my tenure was the newly victorious Fidel Castro, who spoke to 8,000 enthusiastic faculty and students (including one from Brandeis named Abbie Hoffman) at Dillon Field House. Castro was still considered a hero by many Americans for having overthrown the egregious Batista. While those of us who had taken Soc Sci 2 knew that not all revolutions were for the better, there was about this one a romance that took my thoughts far from Harvard Square as a top Castro lieutenant, sitting in front of my little recorder in the Bick, told me of his days with Fidel in the mountains. Castro was booed only once according to my broadcast report later that evening, when he “attempted to defend the execution of Cuban war criminals after the revolution.”
A question often served up in middle-brow documentaries and popular history books is to wonder how Germany, one of the most advanced and civilized countries in Europe, could have sunk into Nazi savagery. How did the nation of Goethe and Beethoven produce Hitler, Goebbels and the Holocaust? Future historians, assuming there will be any, won’t face any such troubling questions about America’s lapse into right wing authoritarianism. Their task will be much simpler. They won’t have to ask how it happened, they’ll simply scratch their heads and wonder what the hell took it so long.
They’ll note that the country had a trial run between 2001-2004, when a virulently right wing administration assumed unconstitutional police powers and effortlessly lied the country into war. They’ll remark how easily the population was cowed by phantom dangers, and how readily they sold out their vaunted principles of freedom and constitutional government in exchange for security. The USA was kidnapping people and throwing them into torture chambers overseas, and its people cheered (or, more typically, yawned). The White House spokesman at the time, Ari Fleischer, warned Americans that they needed to “watch what they say, watch what they do,” and announcing that you were opposed to the invasion of Iraq invited suspicious glances from good solid middle class Americans who regarded such an opinion as seditious. In fact, were it not for the staggering hubris and ineptitude of the Bush administration, the USA might well have expedited its date with fascism by a good twelve or thirteen years.…Read on
I can’t help thinking of Donald Trump as Zaphod Beeblebrox minus one of the heads and with only two arms.
To begin with, I expect that in the privacy of his shower (unless he pays someone to do that for him) Trump would agree with Zaphod that “If there’s anything more important than my ego around, I want it caught and shot now”. And he resembles Zaphod’s personality: “he is, according to screening tests that he ran on himself in the Heart of Gold’s medical bay, ‘clever, imaginative, irresponsible, untrustworthy, extrovert, nothing you couldn’t have guessed’”. Zaphod’s fame rests in part on being the only man to have survived the Total Perspective Vortex, which gives anyone who experiences it a sense of their place in the total arc of the universe. Most people are reduced to blithering idiots by the sense of how trivial they are, but Zaphod’s lifelong conviction that he’s the most important person in the galaxy turns out to have some basis in fact, which makes him even more insufferable.
In one respect, though, the two differ. Zaphod was briefly President of the Galaxy, which Wikipedia describes as “a role that involves no power whatsoever, and merely requires the incumbent to attract attention so no one wonders who’s really in charge, a role for which Zaphod was perfectly suited”. Trump, of course, is slated to occupy a role of considerably more power, though the element of misdirection is still relevant. But it already looks like his enthusiasm for the job has been tempered as he becomes more aware of what it involves. It’s certainly bigger than he realized:
During their private White House meeting on Thursday, Mr. Obama walked his successor through the duties of running the country, and Mr. Trump seemed surprised by the scope, said people familiar with the meeting. Trump aides were described by those people as unaware that the entire presidential staff working in the West Wing had to be replaced at the end of Mr. Obama’s term.
Looks an awful lot like the job Trump was shooting for was more like President of the Galaxy than the one he actually got.