Because of what they call “political correctness” (and the normal world calls decency) conservatives have long hidden their true selves. But now, they’re emboldened by the election and thanks to tools like Facebook, we get to see who they truly are.
In January of 1979, the Shah of Iran was deposed by Ayatollah Khomeini. Like all liberal types of the time, I thought that was a great thing. The Shah had been a brutal ruler, overseen an inefficient kleptocracy and been prone to ridiculous personal excess. I seem to remember photos of the Shah at the time always involved lots of gold—gold furniture, gold clothes, etc. I didn’t know much about the Ayatollah, but he had to be better than the Shah, right? Yay freedom!
One day, I found myself in the student lounge with Amir, a quiet exchange student from Iran. Continue reading →
Profiles in Courage: the Straight Talks a Lot of Shit Express is back in town.
Tough-talking Mavericky McMaverickstain is at it again, standing on his lawn and shaking his cane at Der Orangeführer like he just got caught cheating at Mah-Jong over at the home.
Senator John McCain, defending the media against the latest attack by President Donald Trump, warned that suppressing the free press was “how dictators get started”.
The Arizona Republican, a frequent critic of Trump, was responding to a tweet in which Trump accused the media of being “the enemy of the American people”.
“If you want to preserve – I’m very serious now – if you want to preserve democracy as we know it, you have to have a free and many times adversarial press. And without it, I am afraid that we would lose so much of our individual liberties over time. That’s how dictators get started,” he continued.
“They get started by suppressing free press. In other words, a consolidation of power. When you look at history, the first thing that dictators do is shut down the press.
This methodological tour de force is a triumph in honesty, objectivity and good faith. Bigly. You should reply in kind.
I’ll keep this brief. Donald has a poll up asking for your honest opinion on a series of completely fair, unbiased and objective questions about “the media.” The Mainstream Media Accountability Survey asks questions like:
10: Do you believe that the mainstream media does not do their due diligence fact-checking before publishing stories on the Trump administration?
13: Do you believe that political correctness has created biased news coverage on both illegal immigration and radical Islamic terrorism?
Donald doesn’t lose well. I doubt he’ll ignore the role of the media and FBI leaks in Flynn’s resignation
Michael Flynn (image credit: Politico)
Michael Flynn, Donald’s now former National Security Advisor, resigned from his position this evening. In a statement, Flynn said he “misled” Vice-President Pence about a phone call Flynn had with the Russian Ambassador to the United States in which the two discussed having Donald lift sanctions imposed on Russia after the invasion and annexation of Crimea.
Flynn’s contacts with Russia had been under investigation by the Justice Department since Donald took office, if not before then, and the fact that Flynn was being investigated had been widely reported in the media. In fact, the Washington Post reported just tonight that the FBI considered Flynn a blackmail risk due to his lying to Pence.
Kevin Plank is a successful businessman with strong opinions. The data, though, suggests he places ideology above facts.
Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank
If you’re a huge sports merchandise brand, you never want your marquee superstar endorser going after you in the press. But that’s what happened this week when Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank told CNBC that “[t]o have such a pro-business president is something that is a real asset for the country.”
“I agree with that description, if you remove the ‘et.'”
The two have now apparently gotten on the same page after some top-speed backpedaling by Plank, who has taken great pains to clarify that he only meant his praise in a strictly business sense. It’s fun when CEOs get hauled out to the woodshed.
The problem is that even the business-specific comment illustrates what a fact-resistant barking fucktrumpet Plank is.Continue reading →
Dear Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Susan Collins (R-Maine),
On February 1st, you both announced that you could not vote to confirm Betsy DeVos as Secretary of the Department of Education. As a result, your majority leader, Senator Mitch McConnell, was forced to hold the DeVos vote while Jefferson Sessions was still the senior senator from Alabama. If the vote had been held after Sessions was confirmed and had resigned the Senate, but before his replacement could be named to the Senate, then the Senate would have had one fewer Republican senator. Instead of a 51-50 vote to confirm Secretary DeVos with Vice-President Pence casting the deciding vote, we would have had a 50-49 vote not to confirm without the need for a tie-breaker. I imagine that it would have been easy enough to convince the majority leader to vote on Sessions prior to DeVos, especially given the recent legal wrangling over the President’s Executive Orders.
Recent anti-Donald protests are hugely important, although maybe not for the reason you think.
I keep wanting to write an article on how similar Donald is to the Big Men of Africa, and I keep losing the will to live whenever I start … After all, the South African Truth Commission final report is a public document. If you want to know how this ends, go read it.
However, don’t think that he’s starting a new fascist state. This is about ties of blood.
If you look to Zimbabwe, Kenya, Nigeria … any of the places ruled by Big Men … they work with what they have to create a support base. The best way to do that is tribalism. Create an in-group derived from your own tribe. Then bind that tribe to you. And you do that through violence.
The in-group must be told they are superior to the out-group. Change the law to subject the out-group to brutal discrimination and suppression. Ensure that there is real violence.
To give you some idea of how dark my thoughts have become since Donald took over (in case worrying about being nuked in my sleep wasn’t bad enough), on the way home from skiing today I found myself wondering if Donald would send law enforcement/thugs to threaten the judges on the 9th Circuit in order to get them to rule in his favor. Continue reading →
We need a new American consensus driven by a commitment to knowledge, reason and good faith engagement with those whose views differ from our own.
For decades I have toyed with the idea that we could use a civic forum for popular debate, an organization that would make it possible for communities to discuss the issues of the day in ways that would spark thought and reflection, perhaps enabling better decision-making come Election Day. This idea has grown stronger over the past 20 years, as the combined corrosive mechanisms of partisan tribalism, cable media and, worst of all, the Internet and social media seemed to find new and better ways of tearing society apart, making us dumber and more hateful in the process.
Lennon once said that he likes the lyrics of “Across the Universe” perhaps the best of all the songs he wrote with The Beatles.
“When you’ve seen beyond yourself, then you may find, peace of mind is waiting there.” – George Harrison
John and Yoko (image courtesy Vanity Fair)
Recent news reports have noted that the best selling book at Amazon is currently George Orwell’s classic novel of dystopian horror, 1984. Given our national circumstances, I suppose this could be seen as a positive, an effort on the part of at least some of the populace to educate themselves, even if a significant number of others in the populace (including me) wish that this sudden urge toward historical and cultural literacy had occurred before a certain November event.
Such, such is life, as the poet says. We seem only to want to listen to our poets and sages in times of distress.
There are some who, in the face of what certainly feels like imminent disaster, keep telling us that, to quote the mystic, “All shall be well.” It is difficult to the level of impossibility, however, to emulate the purity and power of a Julian of Norwich’s faith which is roughly the level of faith needed these days. What are we of little faith to do?
To be frank, I can’t find any evidence that he was, or he wasn’t. But if I had to guess, no, Donald Trump was not a Boy Scout. Growing up in the milieu he did, it’s not likely. Billionaires don’t usually send their sons off packing without a helicopter backup. But I suppose it’s possible. Let’s say he was. How good a scout was he? In fact, if he was, how good a job of internalizing what Scouts are supposed to embody has he done?
It’s easy enough to guess. All you have to do is look at what all Boy Scouts have always had to remember–the 12 laws of scouting, as they’re called. Every scout has to remember them, and try to live accordingly. And you know what? We probably do remember all of them. What Scouting was always about, as Paul Fussell reminded us in the 1970s in his still-magnificent review of The Boy Scout Handbook, is service. And that’s embodied in the 12 rules. So how does Trump stack up? Let’s see, a Scout is: Continue reading →
My very own Daisy moment, courtesy of Donald Trump’s first 12 days in office
From Lydon Johnson’s “Daisy” ad (image credit: Smithsonian Magazine)
Donald Trump was sworn in on January 20, 2017. Today is February 1. In that period, I’ve fallen asleep twice wondering if I’d wake up to a bright flash followed by a shock wave that turned my home to burning splinters around me and my sleeping family.
I’ve started wondering if this is what it was like for my parents, learning as children to “duck and cover” under their desks in the event of a nuclear attack. Whether this level of daily stress was normal during the Cuban Missile Crisis and other low points of the Cold War. They’re still alive – maybe I should ask them. Perhaps their perspective could help allay some of my fears. Then again, do I really want to know that they think “it’s worse now than it was then,” if in fact that’s what they think? Continue reading →
I learned of it from the Facebook page Conservative Daily. To hell with that page, no link. Thanks to my embrace of people at least as good-hearted as me however differently, people of widely differing viewpoints, I have the good fortune of seeing this kind of crap splatter across my screen on a regular basis, like I’ve just flown under a magpie’s flight path at exactly the wrong time.
For the moment, for the point I’m coming to, I actually don’t care if the claims in this particular case are true or not. The truth of the claims is beside the point. Continue reading →
We will need protest songs for Donald’s presidency, but listening to Seamus Kennedy’s folk songs of conflict and immigration on the drive home yesterday was a good start.
My family and I went skiing yesterday. On the way home, we listened to a lot of wonderful music by Seamus Kennedy. As is his style, it was a mix of jokes, traditional folk music, Scottish and Irish ballads, and irreverent musical humor. Two of the songs had me softly crying while driving home, and I had to ask my wife to skip a third (and to be prepared to skip another). The songs were about immigrants and conflict and families torn apart.
I’ve collected those songs and a couple of others I heard yesterday below, in case anyone is interested. Continue reading →
The war against the press will be fought at the local and state level, but the war at the federal level will get the most airtime.
CNN reporter Jeremy Desmond asked Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, under fire because of four deaths at his jail, for an interview. On Friday, Clarke replied on Twitter:
Donald Trump has labeled CNN as fake news. When Pres. Trump says CNN is ok again, then I might.
The sheriff — an elected public official — has refused to respond to a press request for an interview. This particular sheriff has a nationwide reputation as a supporter of President Donald and has been considered for a position in the Donald administration. Continue reading →