American vs. unAmerican values, as compared to the Declaration of Independence

Values that stand in opposition to those described in the Declaration of Independence are unAmerican values.

Engraving of the Declaration of Independence (image credit: Monticello.org)

Engraving of the Declaration of Independence (image credit: Monticello.org)

Without the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America, there is no United States of America. That makes the values laid out in those documents American values, by definition. And any values that run contrary to the values in those documents, again by definition, unAmerican.

The Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,…

Equality. The concept of natural human rights. The rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (among others). The concept that the people have a say in their government. These are the American values defined by the Declaration of Independence. Continue reading

I wore a safety pin on my shirt today

Wearing a safety pin is a mark of “I will protect you with my own body if necessary.” Wearing one is a responsibility, not a symbol of solidarity.

Not merely with or beside you, but for you.

Not merely with or beside you, but for you.

I wore a safety pin on my shirt today.

I thought long and deep about whether that was a good idea or not.

Wearing a safety pin on my shirt means that I’m self-identifying as a safe person – someone whom anyone can approach, for any reason, and expect help, without question or judgement. It means that, if I see bullying or bigotry or abuse, I’m obligating myself to step in if asked, to get involved on behalf of the victim or victims.

But it also means that I have to give anyone I’m with fair notice that I might have to put our plans on hold to help a stranger. And it means that I might get threatened or even seriously injured in the process of assisting someone who needed help. Continue reading

You have to be OK with a lot of awful stuff to vote for Donald Trump

You don’t have to believe everything Donald Trump does to vote for him, but you do have to be OK with everything he believes and everything he’s done.

Image Credit: DiversityInc.com

Image Credit: DiversityInc.com

You don’t have to be a liar to vote for Donald Trump, you just have to be ok with lying.

You don’t have to be a hypocrite to vote for Donald Trump, you just have to be ok with hypocrisy.

You don’t have to enjoy mocking the disabled to vote for Donald Trump, you just have to be ok with other people mocking the disabled.

You don’t have to be a narcissist to vote for Donald Trump, you just have to be ok with narcissism.

You don’t have to be an adulterer to vote for Donald Trump, you just have to be ok with adultery.

You don’t have to be a misogynist to vote for Donald Trump, you just have to be ok with misogyny.

You don’t have to be a sexual assaulter to vote for Donald Trump, you just have to be ok with sexual assault. Continue reading

Donald Trump is a fascist, Part Seven

Whether Donald Trump is a full-fledged fascist or “merely” a proto-fascist depends on which historian’s definition of fascism you prefer. Part seven of a series.

Trump-BrownshirtsClick here for all the other parts of this series

Fascism according to Umberto Eco

Umberto Eco was an Italian novelist and public intellectual who, in the June 22, 1995 issue of the New York Review of Books, wrote an essay titled “Ur-fascism” (eternal fascism) in which he discussed fascism in general and identified fascism’s characteristics.

In his essay, he writes that it would be difficult for “the totalitarian governments that ruled Europe” prior to World War II to “reappear in the same form in different historical circumstances.” In this way Eco agrees with the many historians who have claimed that fascism was essentially unique to the period between World Wars I and II. But Eco thinks that “behind a regime and its ideology there is always a way of thinking and feeling, a group of cultural habits, of obscure instincts and unfathomable drives.” He calls fascism a “fuzzy totalitarianism, a collage of different philosophical and political ideas, a beehive of contradictions” that was the result of “political and ideological discombobulation.” To Eco, “fascism was philosophically out of joint, but emotionally it was firmly fastened to some archetypal foundations.” Continue reading

Michael Sam comes out; will any existing players join him?

Michael Sam has made it easier for current gay players in the NFL. Will they do the same for him?

By now you’ve probably heard that Missouri defensive lineman Michael Sam has publicly announced that he’s gay. A projected third-round pick in the upcoming NFL draft, this decision will (unless all 32 teams simply decide that they’re going to be officially homophobic and to hell with whoever doesn’t like it) make him the league’s first active out player.

NFLPA President Domonique Foxworth predicts that players will accept him “with open arms.” Makes sense – his teammates at Mizzou did. Continue reading

It was 20 years ago today…and I still miss Freddie

Freddie Mercury was my John Lennon.

I remember when Lennon was killed. I also remember the reactions of his fans. I liked The Beatles, of course, but they were a few years ahead of me. And Lennon’s solo work underwhelmed me. So it’s fair to say that I really didn’t get his importance to Baby Boomers or the powerful emotional connection that many of them felt to him. As a result, I didn’t quite fathom the oppressive pall that seemed to fall over every part of the world inhabited by Boomers when, on December 8, 1980, he was gunned down on the streets of New York City. The Beatles weren’t my band. They weren’t of my generation. John wasn’t my hero. And I had never lost a rock hero before.

But on November 24, 1991 – 20 years ago today – I came to understand perhaps a measure of the grief felt by my older friends and colleagues. On that day the man who had been my rock hero succumbed to AIDS. We had only learned a few days earlier that he even had the disease, and I had no idea that the end would come so quickly. Continue reading

Okay, so what did Simmonds say, then?

Here’s the chronology:

  1. During a preseason game between the Flyers and Rangers last night, Philly’s Wayne Simmonds and New York’s Sean Avery engaged in some predictable contentiousness. I say predictable because Avery is without question the most annoying little fuckhead in hockey history and there’s always contentiousness when he’s in the building.
  2. At one point, Simmonds is alleged to have called Avery a “faggot.” Continue reading

Nota Bene #120: Crazy Ivan

“If you can make a woman laugh, you’re seeing the most beautiful thing on God’s earth.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #117: Wake Up!

“Hollywood is so crooked that Mafia gangsters are entirely outclassed and don’t stand a chance. People in Hollywood are smarter. They have more sophisticated knowledge of money and deals and how to steal legally rather than illegally.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #100: Il Planetario di Figaro

Wow, 100 issues of Nota Bene! Props to Russ for helping me for a while with this nifty little S&R feature. Never mind all that now, let’s get on with this issue. “What splendid buildings our architects would be able to execute if only they could finally be less obedient to gravity!” Who said it? Continue reading

Queer Eye for the G.I.

By Jeff Huber

William S. Lind, co-creator of the Fourth Generation Warfare concept and director of the Center for Cultural Conservatism, says a lot of smart things about national security, but he doesn’t say any of them about the issue of gays and women in the military. My admittedly limited experience of the gay lifestyle hasn’t endeared me to it: my older male dog humps my younger male dog, my younger male dog humps my leg, and I pay all the bills; an arrangement, come to think of it, not so different from my experience of marriage. So I don’t, so to speak, have a dog in the fight over whether gays or women should be “allowed” to serve in the military, but Lind makes such a cock and bull argument against it I feel obliged to apologize on behalf of the entire heterosexual male community.

In a pair of recent opinion pieces, Lind asserts that we shouldn’t let women and gays in the armed services because if we do, “men who want to prove they are real men will not join.”

Lind’s relative manliness doesn’t necessarily add to or subtract from his opinion’s validity, but unnamed sources who knew him when assure me that the closest he ever came to wearing a uniform was Continue reading

All I want for Christmas is for Democrats to stop making Ron Paul look good

Hey, what’s that in our stocking? It’s Ron Paul! Oh joy – we got The Truth® for Christmas!

Ahem. So those of you who thought Ron Paul was going to go away once the big boys got serious have probably been surprised by his staying power so far. He’s polling in the high single digits (something Ronald Reagan Fred Thompson can’t say) and one pollster thinks his actual numbers are in the double digits. He says he’s raised $19M this quarter. His supporters are insane courageously enthusiastic, and he seems to be showing strength among some groups that you wouldn’t expect – progressives, younger voters, etc.

And of course, he’s left the rest of the pack for dead in the highly scientific S&R reader poll, where at the moment of this writing he has over twice as many votes as the rest of the GOP candidates put together (unless you count “other”).

Election watchers in both parties are trying to better understand Paul’s appeal and what it means for their candidates’ chances. Continue reading

Not that there's anything wrong with Mitt

Join me, friends, as I take a dip in the fetid pool that is Election ’08 Ridiculous Asides coverage. This one was too good to pass up.

Today, GOP White House wannabe Mitt Romney was on Meet the Press. Host Tim Russert tried to get Romney’s response to a report that the former Massachusetts governor had illegal immigrants working on his lawn despite his public disdain for them. Russert quoted a Boston Globe article which said Romney “has used a landscaping company that relies heavily on workers like these, illegal Guatemalan immigrants, to maintain the grounds surrounding his pink Colonial house.”

Rather than angrily dismiss the charge or clear up any possible misunderstandings, what does Romney say to Russert and countless viewers at home? Continue reading

Obama and the art of the wide stance

By Martin Bosworth

I’m having trouble figuring out exactly what Barack Obama is about lately. Like his infamous colleague Larry Craig,the Senator from Illinois seems to be taking a wide stance–but where Craig’s wide stance was bracketed by the infamous airport bathroom stall where he made his political mark (so to speak), Obama’s issue stances are so broad that both supporters and opponents alike are scratching their heads, wondering “What the hell does this guy stand for?”

Continue reading

The czar works for the Kossacks (aka why we don't need leaders to save us)

By Martin Bosworth

In the middle of a post ruminating on the looming flameout of Barack Obama’s campaign, Kos makes a point I’ve been dying to hear from one of the bigwigs of Blogistan:

Obama isn’t the be-all savior for what ails our country. No one is. If there’s a message I thought we were successfully delivering in the netroots is that it was up to US to move this country in the right direction since we couldn’t depend on our so-called “leaders”. This sort of hero worship of several of our candidates (Edwards, Obama, and even Hillary) is somewhat creepy to begin with, but serves little more than to set up the inevitable disappointment. And when your hero turns out to be not so perfect after all, clinging to that fiction can’t possibly reflect well on you. Understand that these candidates are all human, thus imperfect. Understand that they have free will, thus will do things you will disagree with. And that’s okay. Politics is about weighing the good and the bad and going with the best we have. There is no such thing as “perfect” in this biz. Feel free to rationalize every stupid thing your candidate does, but don’t expect the rest of us to go along with it. All of the Democrats have done stupid things and smart things. I mean, Chris Dodd announced his candidacy on Don Imus, for chrissakes. And yes, when they do those stupid things, some of us will be right there talking about how stupid those things are. Continue reading

Quotabull

I’ve got God’s shoulder to cry on. And I cry a lot. I do a lot of crying in this job. I’ll bet I’ve shed more tears than you can count, as president. I’ll shed some tomorrow.

— President Bush in in one of six roughly hourlong interviews with book author Robert Draper.

I made a decision to lead. One, it makes you unpopular; two, it makes people accuse you of unilateral arrogance, and that may be true. But the fundamental question is, is the world better off as a result of your leadership?

— President Bush in in one of six roughly hourlong interviews with book author Robert Draper.

I’ll give some speeches, just to replenish the ol’ coffers. I don’t know what my dad gets — it’s more than 50-75” [thousand dollars a speech] … Clinton’s making a lot of money.

— President Bush, whose personal assets have been estimated at $21 million, in a December 2006 interview with book author Robert Draper on his post-presidency plans.
Continue reading

Nobody Knows My Name: S&R Honors James Baldwin

I found this picture of African-American man of letters James Baldwin in a bio some years ago and it remains a favorite. He’s standing on a concrete islet in the middle of a busy street, his large, somber eyes hidden behind sunglasses, his dress casual, his posture seemingly relaxed; like Miles Davis, Baldwin could appear cool and calm even while volcanic emotions stirred within. It’s not clear where Baldwin’s been, where’s he headed, what he’s reading, what he’s feeling, or if anyone around him even knows who he is besides the photographer. Is his pocketed right hand at rest or clenched in tension? Is he looking at someone or something, or lost in thought? Are his lips in a sly smile, or a pensive frown? Is he in a hurry, or taking his time? Is he in America, or in Europe, where he spent much of his adult life?

Continue reading