Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Trump visits New York Times, New York Times cowers

Finally got around to looking at this trainwreck today:

Donald Trump’s New York Times Interview: Full Transcript

Okay, so first of all, the Times begins the interview with this line:

SULZBERGER: I thought maybe I’d start this off by asking if you have anything you would like to start this off with before we move to the easiest questions you’re going to get this administration.

NO! No, no, no, no, no. That is not how you approach the soon-to-be-most powerful man in America. Not like sniveling little toadies. Not like craven little apple-polishers. You're supposed to be the institution that holds his feet to the fire, not his P.R. firm. You're not supposed to be his friend!

I'm a little concerned about your choice of approach. 
Is cowardice really going to "wow" the judges?

Then Trump says this:
TRUMP: O.K. Well, I just appreciate the meeting and I have great respect for The New York Times. Tremendous respect. It’s very special. Always has been very special.

Really? Really, New York Times? You're really going to let him say that without calling him on it? You're really going to sit there and smile as if he hadn't been tweeting shit like this for months?

And by the way, Times, I got those Tweets from an article entitled

The 282 People, Places and Things Donald
Trump Has Insulted on Twitter

Which was published on YOUR WEBSITE!
So it's not like you guys don't know about this.

Then he goes on to say this:

Always has been very special. I think I’ve been treated very rough. It’s well out there that I’ve been treated extremely unfairly in a sense, in a true sense. I wouldn’t only complain about The Times. I would say The Times was about the roughest of all. You could make the case The Washington Post was bad, but every once in a while I’d actually get a good article. Not often, Dean, but every once in awhile.

And still no one from the Times says anything? No one pounds his fist on the table and shouts "stop being such a crybaby, you pathetic little worm! You're going to be the leader of the free world, act like a fucking man for once in your life, you sorry little whiner!"

Look, I have great respect for The Times, and I’d like to turn it around. I think it would make the job I am doing much easier.

And no one says "um, excuse me Mr. Rump, but it's not our job to make your job easier. If anything, we should serve as an obstacle to your ambitions."

We’re working very hard. We have great people coming in. I think you’ll be very impressed with the names. We’ll be announcing some very shortly.Everybody wanted to do this. People are giving up tremendous careers in order to be subject to you folks and subject to a lot of other folks. But they’re giving up a lot. I mean some are giving up tremendous businesses in order to sit for four or maybe eight or whatever the period of time is. 

And no one says "Well, A) we've seen some of these names and no one is impressed. And B) do you really not know how long a Presidential term is? Oh, and C) Is there any way you could try to speak in some sort of coherent sentences? With some recognizable English syntax? Thanks!

  But I think we’re going to see some tremendous talent, tremendous talent coming in. We have many people for every job. I mean no matter what the job is, we have many incredible people. I think, Reince, you can sort of just confirm that. The quality of the people is very good.

REINCE PRIEBUS, Mr. Trump’s choice for chief of staff: [inaudible]

 Oh my God, Reince! I feel for ya. I wouldn't be able to come up with a decent response either!
And no one even bothers to ask him to repeat what he just said because at this point, it would just be mean.

And I thought we were going to win it. And we won it, we won it, you know, relatively easily, we won it by a number of points. Florida we won by 180,000 — was that the number, 180?

PRIEBUS: [inaudible]

What we do want to do is we want to bring the country together, because the country is very, very divided, and that’s one thing I did see, big league. It’s very, very divided, and I’m going to work very hard to bring the country together.
I mean, I’m somebody that really has gotten along with people over the years.

 And no one in the room says "Really? Because what you're know for more than anything is insulting people on social media. In fact here in our very paper we recently published a list of the 282 people, places and things you've insulted on Twitter.
Are you planning on "bringing the country together" with shit like this?

And that's just what you said about your fellow Republicans! How are you going to "bring America together" when you can't stop trying to drive away members of your own party? Let alone Democrats, Libertarians, Greens, Independents, etc?

 Any way, the transcript goes on for quite a while, so I think we'll just stop here for now and maybe pick it up tomorrow.
Good night.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

I expect better from Mother Jones

I've seen Kevin Drum's stuff from time to time on the MoJo blog. I don't read him religiously because reading is hard and takes effort, but I'm familiar enough with him to be very disappointed with this little gem:

Let's Be Careful With the "White Supremacy" Label

I was listening in on a listserv conversation the other day, and someone asked how and when it became fashionable to use the term "white supremacy" as a substitute for ordinary racism. Good question. I don't know the answer, but my guess is that it started with Ta-Nehisi Coates, who began using it frequently a little while ago. Anyone have a better idea?

Yes! Everyone! Everyone has a better idea! It's not like Ta-Hehisi Coates invented the term. White supremacy and racism are practically synonymous terms.

   For what it's worth, this is a terrible fad

Fad? A terrible FAD? Do you even know what a fad is?

Streaking was a terrible fad.

Saggy pants is a terrible fad.

Planking was a terrible fad.

Calling out white supremacists is not a "fad."

For what it's worth, this is a terrible fad. With the exception of actual neo-Nazis and a few others, there isn't anyone in America who's trying to promote the idea that whites are inherently superior to blacks or Latinos.

"No one is. . . . " Have you seen Twitter?

Or Facebook?

Or the comment section on pretty much any news story online?

Conversely, there are loads of Americans who display signs of overt racism—or unconscious bias or racial insensitivity or resentment over loss of status—in varying degrees.

Okayyyy. . . So what is this?*HqUQrmnpvOGo3kMI.jpg
or this? 

Or this?

Is these examples of racism, bias, or insensitivity?

Is portraying our president as a primate just racism? Is it not strongly implying that black people are in some way more similar to apes and therefore less human than white people? How is that not white supremacy? Where exactly do you draw the line? Where does "bias" or "overt racism" end and white supremacism begin?  You're really just being pedantic, aren't you?

This isn't just pedantic. It matters. It's bad enough that liberals toss around charges of racism with more abandon than we should, but it's far worse if we start calling every sign of racial animus—big or small, accidental or deliberate—white supremacy. I can hardly imagine a better way of proving to the non-liberal community that we're all a bunch of out-of-touch nutbars who are going to label everyone and everything we don't like as racist.

Okay. If that were actually happening, you might have a point. If every time someone confused Chris Tucker with Dave Chapelle they were accused of being a white supremacist, that would be going too far. But A) I really haven't seen that happening, and B) if you start worrying about what the FOX and Limbaugh crowd think of you, the battle is already lost. Because if you're not one of them, they are already incurably convinced that you are an America-hating, anti-Christian tool of the gay agenda and being judicious with charges of racism isn't going to change their minds one bit.

Petty theft is not the same as robbing a bank. A lewd comment is not the same as rape. A possible lack of sensitivity is not a sign of latent support for apartheid.  Bernie Sanders is not a white male supremacist.

And I really don't think anyone is saying any of those things.

Let's jump back to the beginning of this article for the Bernie Snders story he's referring to. Someone named Nancy LeTourneau was critical of a statement Sanders had made to an aspiring Latina politician. The criticism that he reprints in his article goes like this, in its entirety:

It is true that in order to end racism and sexism we have to begin by giving women and people of color a seat at the table. But that accomplishes very little unless/until we listen to them and find a way to work with them in coalition. To the extent that Sanders wants to avoid doing that in order to foster division within the Democratic Party, he is merely defending white male supremacy.
I’m not suggesting that the senator’s agenda is necessarily white male supremacy.
She seems to be saying that Sanders' comments to the young Latina woman serve to reinforce the idea that positions of power rightly belong in the hands of white men. She doesn't claim that he is reinforcing this idea intentionally, in fact she specifically says that she does NOT believe that Sanders has a white-supremacy agenda.  So why does he feel the need to point out that Bernie is not a white supremacist as if he were contradicting some popular canard?  I have no idea.

Then there's this

Oh, I see. Believing that white people are superior to other kinds of people, believing in the supremacy of white people, is not enough for a person to be labeled a white supremacist. Apparently, if you aren't a part of an organization dedicated to spreading/enforcing the idea of white supremacy, you're just a garden-variety "insensitive" or "biased" person, about whom we need not worry.
Except that these people vote.

Honestly, I expect better from Mother Jones 
Hey, I ain't happy about this either!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

CNN continues to normalize Trump

Lately, there has been a certain amount of pressure on the president-elect to "refudiate" the neo-Nazis  known as the  Alt-right. Hahahaha! Not really. Not like there was on president Obama to throw his pastor under the bus or anything! But, apparently there has been some tiny amount of pressure, so this headline might have sounded a bit encouraging to some:

Donald Trump disavows 'alt-right'

Hmm, seems promising. I'm just going to go ahead and read the actual article assuming that it won't be maddeningly disappointing.

(CNN)President-elect Donald Trump denied Tuesday that he did anything to "energize" the alt-right movement through his presidential campaign and sought to distance himself from it

Annnnd let's just feed that through the CNN-to-English translator. . .

 and we get. . . 

"President-elect Trump told a ridiculous lie today which we will just take at face value and not question at all."

. . . and sought to distance himself from it, even though many of the movement's leaders have sought to tether their political views to Trump's rise.

"sought to tether?" Translation please!

 Beepity boop boop!

"The views of the racist, xenophobic, misogynist, homophobic leaders of the so-called "alt right" are inextricably intertwined with those of the president-elect, but we are incapable of admitting this obvious fact."

I don't want to energize the group, and I disavow the group," Trump told a group of New York Times reporters and columnists during a meeting at the newspaper's headquarters in New York.

That's it? "I disavow the group?" That's all you got? You know these are Nazis, right? If Nazis are supporting you, you don't hem and haw and then finally just toss out a half-heartd "oh, I disavow them."
This is like that episode of Seinfeld where Kramer says to Jerry, "c'mon, I'm begging you!" And Jerry says something like "you can't just say 'I'm begging you.' You have to actually BEG. Put some beg into it."
It's like saying "I apologize." That's not the same thing as actually apologizing. Apologizing is saying "I'm sorry." And  saying "I disavow" is not disavowing.
If you have a bunch of disgusting racists supporting you and you want to disavow them, you call a press conference, you step up to the podium and you say "I want nothing to do with these assholes, they do not represent me, I do not want their endorsements, I will not accept their endorsements, I find them extremely offensive, etc. etc. etc."

"It's not a group I want to energize, and if they are energized, I want to look into it and find out why," he added, according to one of the Times reporters in the room, Michael Grynbaum.

Find out why? Find out why? Yeah, this is really going to take some serious detective work. You might have to spend 5 minutes on Stormfront or Breitbart or any of the many neo-Nazi websites out there who will be happy to tell you how grateful they are to you for mainstreaming their hate messages. . Hell, just ask some of the "white nationalists" you've retweeted during the campaign.
Or, you could just ask your new "strategic advisor" or whatever Steve Bannon is.

Trump offered up the condemnation of the alt-right, a far-right political movement rife with white nationalist, anti-Semitic and racist ideologies, after The New York Times' executive editor Dean Baquet asked Trump if he feels he did things to energize the alt-right. 
Deedeedee dah deep deep!

In English: 'We have no idea what the word "condemnation" means, but the Trump people are saying that's what he did and we see no reason to dispute or question that. Do you like us now, Mr. Trump? Please? Please like us!"

Trump's comments come days after Richard Spencer, a white supremacist and leading figure in the alt-right, delivered a racist and anti-Semitic address to a gathering of the group's members in which he declared, emphatically, "Hail Trump! Hail our people! Hail victory!"
Spencer's chants prompted some audience members to raise their right hand in an apparent Nazi salute.

Okay, first of all.,  it wasn't "hail." It was "Heil!" Which, to be fair, does mean "hail" in German, but certainly has a much darker connotation which CNN chooses to gloss over.
Second, the hand gesture was absolutely a Nazi salute. I do have to give CNN credit, though for stating outright that Spencer's address was "racist and anti-Semitic." Maybe if they'd had the spine to call a spade a spade a few months ago, we wouldn't be in this mess right now.

White supremacists have consistently expressed their support for Trump during the presidential campaign -- pointing in part to his hardline positions on immigration -- and critics contended that Trump was too slow to reject the support of those groups during his campaign.

"Critics contended?" "Too slow to reject?"  "During?" Can we translate this please?

Deet-deet-deet-da da bleep blorp!

"White supremacists have consistently expressed their support for Trump and he hasn't seemed to have any problem with this and the media has never really pressed him on it or held him accountable at all or really even made much of an issue about it so naturally, he wasn't in any hurry to reject the support of his base. And, in fact, he never actually has given any sort of full-throated rejection or condemnation of these racist groups,  he's always gotten away with a half-hearted winking dismissal and a reference to Hillary's e-mails."

Trump also took flak recently after he tapped his campaign CEO Steve Bannon to be one of his top two advisers in the White House. Bannon, the former executive chairman of Breitbart News, touted the website as "the platform for the alt-right." Bannon rejected the anti-Semitic and racist elements of the alt-right in an interview with the Wall Street Journal this week and declared himself an "economic nationalist."
Trump defended Bannon in his New York Times meeting, saying that he's known him for "a long time" and that the allegations of anti-Semitism and connections to the alt-right are "not him."
"If I thought he was racist, or 'alt-right' ... I wouldn't even think about hiring him," Trump said Tuesday.

Annnnnd. . . That's it. That's the end of the article. Trump hires Bannon. Bannon proudly proclaims his connections to the racist "alt-right." Trump says he's pretty sure that Bannon has nothing to do with the "alt-right" or racism. Annnnd. . . I guess we'll just have to leave it there? The President-elect's statement clearly contradicts the facts, but who are we to point this out? What are we supposed to sort truth from bs? Oh. We are? Uh-oh!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Stop Black Friday!

(yes, it's a re-run)

About this time each year, the FOX crowd starts trotting out their "War on Christmas" bs machine.

 Oh, they will fight to the death to defend Christmas from the imagined "attacks" it faces from people who, um. . . are willing to acknowledge that some people celebrate other holidays?

Or folks who want to maintain the separation of Church and State?
Oh no,  wait, I mean INFIDELS!!!! AMERICA-HATING INFIDELS!!!!!

And every Spring they pretend there's a "War on Easter" to be fought.

Heck, they've even discovered a "War on Halloween"

Even though the only people who tend to object to Halloween are evangelical Christians who object to the holiday's pagan roots and scary "occultic" overtones. In other words, FOX news viewers.

But what about Thanksgiving?

Because Thanksgiving is actually under attack by the obscene spectacle known as "Black Friday." People are actually having their Thanksgivings taken away from them by stores who now not only insist that their employees be at work before the crack of dawn the day after, but now don't even close for Thanksgiving itself.

Where is the outrage on the right?

Why does the "pro-family" crowd raise no objection to people being deprived of family time in the service of feeding America's frenzy of acquisitiveness and materialism?

What's a bigger affront to holiday tradition, a cashier wishing you "Happy Holidays" or having a Thanksgiving that goes like this:  "Gee, Grandma, everything smells so good, you've really outdone yourself this year. . . well, got to go sell some cheap electronics or I'll be unemployed. See you at Christmas hopefully!"

Well, time for me to go.  Those remote control drones aren't going to sell themselves!

Every year it gets worse and worse. The entire concept of "Black Friday" is grotesque enough to begin with. Once the term "Black Friday" went from being backroom retailer jargon to part of the everyday lexicon of normal people, we lost a part of our national soul. Once flyers began proudly announcing "Black Friday Sales!" we as a society should have stood up and said "No! We will not create a holiday based on celebrating your corporate profitability!" But we didn't. We allowed this indignity to infect our culture and it quickly spread like a cancer.

First it spread to Midnight of Thanksgiving day. Which of course meant that store employees were forced to leave their families by 10 or 11 that evening.

Then the stores began opening earlier and earlier Thursday evening until they got to the point where many stay open the entire holiday. As if it were just another day to make sales.

So where are the FOX News special reports on the "War on Thanksgiving?" Why does the one holiday that is actually under attack not see the same umbrage raised  as those holidays whose attacks are pure fiction?

Could it be because this war is being waged by large powerful corporations in the interest of increased profits? Instead of by "secular humanists" or whichever right-wing bogeymen are launching the imaginary wars on other holidays? Nah. . . couldn't be.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Dumb guy has dumb advice for dumb Democrats

This was in the New York Freakin Times! And it's not even by David Brooks!

The End of Identity Liberalism

It is a truism that America has become a more diverse country. It is also a beautiful thing to watch. Visitors from other countries, particularly those having trouble incorporating different ethnic groups and faiths, are amazed that we manage to pull it off. Not perfectly, of course, but certainly better than any European or Asian nation today. It’s an extraordinary success story.

 Yeah, we're doing a bang-up job!

But how should this diversity shape our politics? The standard liberal answer for nearly a generation now has been that we should become aware of and “celebrate” our differences. Which is a splendid principle of moral pedagogy — but disastrous as a foundation for democratic politics in our ideological age.

Why? Because Democrats lost one election? With the most unpopular nominee they've ever had? Embracing diversity is somehow to blame for that debacle?

In recent years American liberalism has slipped into a kind of moral panic about racial, gender and sexual identity that has distorted liberalism’s message and prevented it from becoming a unifying force capable of governing.

Moral panic? How is "yes, gay people should be allowed to get married" and "cops should stop shooting unarmed black men in the back" and "Chaz Bono should be able to pee" constitute a "moral panic?" For most people, this is just common sense.

What would "unifying" look like? We all just agree to come together and only care about the problems of white male heteroes?

One of the many lessons of the recent presidential election campaign and its repugnant outcome is that the age of identity liberalism must be brought to an end. Hillary Clinton was at her best and most uplifting when she spoke about American interests in world affairs and how they relate to our understanding of democracy. But when it came to life at home, she tended on the campaign trail to lose that large vision and slip into the rhetoric of diversity, calling out explicitly to African-American, Latino, L.G.B.T. and women voters at every stop.

How dare she?
Also, Hillary Clinton was never uplifting. That's a big reason why she lost. She isn't a great speechifyer. No one finds her inspiring. I mean, her life and accomplishments and her strength in the face of 30 years of right-wing slander and hatred are quite inspiring, but she's not an inspiring speaker. Shouldn't matter, but it does.

And why would it be a problem to call out to minority groups?
Let me guess. Because white guys get their little feelings hurt?

This was a strategic mistake. If you are going to mention groups in America, you had better mention all of them. If you don’t, those left out will notice and feel excluded.
Waaahhhh!! ALL lives matter!

Jeezus. Speaking as a straight white man, we are the biggest bunch of fucking babies in the world. We all want to think we're Sonny Corleone but really, we're Johnny Fontane

Technically, Godfather, I AM acting like a man!

. . . those left out will notice and feel excluded. Which, as the data show, was exactly what happened with the white working class and those with strong religious convictions. Fully two-thirds of white voters without college degrees voted for Donald Trump, as did over 80 percent of white evangelicals.

Oh my God, and white evangelicals were totally going to vote for Hillary Clinton, the woman they've spent 3 decades demonizing, if only she hadn't given black Muslims a shout-out!

The moral energy surrounding identity has, of course, had many good effects. Affirmative action has reshaped and improved corporate life. Black Lives Matter has delivered a wake-up call to every American with a conscience. Hollywood’s efforts to normalize homosexuality in our popular culture helped to normalize it in American families and public life.

But. . . 

But the fixation on diversity in our schools and in the press has produced a generation of liberals and progressives narcissistically unaware of conditions outside their self-defined groups, and indifferent to the task of reaching out to Americans in every walk of life.

I don't even understand. Isn't the whole idea of being fixated on diversity kind of the opposite of being insulated into self-defined groups? Isn't reaching out to Americans in every walk of life kind of the definition of diversity? I read this sentence like twenty times and I can't make heads or tails of it.

At a very young age our children are being encouraged to talk about their individual identities, even before they have them.

What? At what age do people not have an identity? Very small children may not understand the constructs of race or gender and certainly not sexuality, but they know if they're white or black, boy or girl, old or young, etc. They have identities.

By the time they reach college many assume that diversity discourse exhausts political discourse, and have shockingly little to say about such perennial questions as class, war, the economy and the common good.

Wow! Have you ever met a college-age young person? If you wanted to meet some, I could've told you where to find a bunch a few months ago. They were phonebanking for Bernie Sanders and talking about the economy, class, war, and class war. As well as race.
The economy is especially important to people of that age group who find themselves drowning in student debt with little or no job prospects. They care about the economy as much as or more than any other demographic group.

 In large part this is because of high school history curriculums, which anachronistically project the identity politics of today back onto the past, creating a distorted picture of the major forces and individuals that shaped our country. (The achievements of women’s rights movements, for instance, were real and important, but you cannot understand them if you do not first understand the founding fathers’ achievement in establishing a system of government based on the guarantee of rights.)

Oh my God! What if they talk about women in history and the Founding Fathers don't get mentioned? Whatever will old white men do? If we aren't constantly being acknowledged, we cease to exist!
Also, are you really trying to tell us that high school history classes are omitting the Founding Fathers?
This sounds like the same bullshit we heard when English classes decided that they could maybe include Alice Walker or James Baldwin or Isabel Allende and stupid conservatives rent their garments and wailed "they're getting rid of Shakespeare! Oh who will save Mark Twain?"

When young people arrive at college they are encouraged to keep this focus on themselves by student groups, faculty members and also administrators whose full-time job is to deal with — and heighten the significance of — “diversity issues.” Fox News and other conservative media outlets make great sport of mocking the “campus craziness” that surrounds such issues, and more often than not they are right to. Which only plays into the hands of populist demagogues who want to delegitimize learning in the eyes of those who have never set foot on a campus. How to explain to the average voter the supposed moral urgency of giving college students the right to choose the designated gender pronouns to be used when addressing them? How not to laugh along with those voters at the story of a University of Michigan prankster who wrote in “His Majesty”?

yes, it's just so hilarious and silly that people might want to be addressed by the pronoun that fits their identity. A sensible person would just refer to Laverne Cox as "him." It would be "craziness" to show a modicum of respect!

 You know how much effort she has to put into looking this good?
 You can't take half a second to remeber to say "her?"

How to explain tho the average voter? Really? How thick do you think the average voter is? It's not a matter of "moral urgency," it's just basic manners. I wish I could remember what comedian said it (Paul F. Tompkins maybe?)  but it's like if someone says "my name is William, but I prefer Bill" and you say "well, you were born a William, so I'm just going to call you William," you're a dick. If someone wants to be called she /her even though their dna is male, it takes literally zero effort to say her instead of him. It inconveniences you not at all and it's just common fucking courtesy.

And if the lunkheads of FOX news want to use this bit of basic decency to de-legitimize education, well they're going to do it anyway, because that's their schtick. Normal people can't go around basing their actions on what the reaction might be at FOX. FOX is going to demonize and ridicule evryone and everything that doesn't conform to their narrow, sad little worldview. You can't please them no matter what you do. It's stupid to even try.

This campus-diversity consciousness has over the years filtered into the liberal media, and not subtly. Affirmative action for women and minorities at America’s newspapers and broadcasters has been an extraordinary social achievement — and has even changed, quite literally, the face of right-wing media, as journalists like Megyn Kelly and Laura Ingraham have gained prominence. But it also appears to have encouraged the assumption, especially among younger journalists and editors, that simply by focusing on identity they have done their jobs.

Oh fer fuck sake. If you had just gone ahead and used the specious term "liberal media" in the first paragraph we could have saved a lot of time by dismissing your argument out of hand right then. No one who uses the term "liberal media" is making any kind of legitimate argument. (Unless by "liberal media" you mean The Nation, Mother Jones, Z Magazine, Pacifica Radio, etc)

And what the hell does it mean when you say "simply by focusing on identity they have done their jobs?" What journalists and/or editors do you see in the media landscape that are "focusing on identity?" Name one. Go ahead, we'll wait.

That's what I thought.

Recently I performed a little experiment during a sabbatical in France. For a full year I read only European publications, not American ones.

My thought was to try seeing the world as European readers did. But it was far more instructive to return home and realize how the lens of identity has transformed American reporting in recent years. How often, for example, the laziest story in American journalism — about the “first X to do Y” — is told and retold. Fascination with the identity drama has even affected foreign reporting, which is in distressingly short supply. However interesting it may be to read, say, about the fate of transgender people in Egypt, it contributes nothing to educating Americans about the powerful political and religious currents that will determine Egypt’s future, and indirectly, our own.

You seriously don't think that the powerful political and religious currents in Egypt are not the determining factors on what the fate of transgendered Egyptians will be?

Also, American journalism's obsession with the "feel-good" human interest story is not so much an outgrowth of identity politics as it is the dumbing-down of American culture in general and the news media in particular. News programs are expected to be profitable now and you don't get profitable by paying investigative journalists to do months-long investigations of serious issues. That's why news magazine shows like Dateline and 48 hours are all murder mysteries all the time. They started out with high hopes of doing serious journalism, but quickly were turned into lurid info-tainment.

But it is at the level of electoral politics that identity liberalism has failed most spectacularly, as we have just seen. National politics in healthy periods is not about “difference,” it is about commonality. And it will be dominated by whoever best captures Americans’ imaginations about our shared destiny.

You did see who won the last election, right? The guy whose entire campaign was based on vilifying "them." Promising to deport Mexicans and ban Muslims and encouraging his supporters to commit acts of violence against dissenters, that's not exactly an appeal to "commonality." Promising to "Make America Great Again," by which he means great for straight, white, Christian men, is not exactly unifying. Trump's campaign was specifically about "difference," about fear and loathing of the "other," and he won. Granted, he got fewer votes, but he won.

Ronald Reagan did that very skillfully, whatever one may think of his vision. So did Bill Clinton, who took a page from Reagan’s playbook. He seized the Democratic Party away from its identity-conscious wing, concentrated his energies on domestic programs that would benefit everyone (like national health insurance) and defined America’s role in the post-1989 world.

And got impeached.
Yes, Bill Clinton so brought the nation together that the right pursued every stupid salaciuos rumor they could dig up to try and find some scandal that would stick and then when they couldn't find any actual high crime or misdemeanor, they impeached him for getting blown. Unity!

By remaining in office for two terms, he was then able to accomplish much for different groups in the Democratic coalition. Identity politics, by contrast, is largely expressive, not persuasive. Which is why it never wins elections — but can lose them.

Who in the Democratic coalition was helped by NAFTA? Or the repeal of Glass-Steagel? Or welfare "reform?"Or the Crime Bill? Or the Telecommunications bill? Bill Clinton talked a good progressive game, but mostly he governed as a Republican. And they still impeached him.

Also, why is it only "identity politics" when it's minorities or women or LGBTs? Why is appealing to straight white men not "identity politics?" Straight and white are identities.  So is Bible-thumper. And gun-humper.
How is this not "identity politics?"

We need a post-identity liberalism, and it should draw from the past successes of pre-identity liberalism. Such a liberalism would concentrate on widening its base by appealing to Americans as Americans and emphasizing the issues that affect a vast majority of them. It would speak to the nation as a nation of citizens who are in this together and must help one another. As for narrower issues that are highly charged symbolically and can drive potential allies away, especially those touching on sexuality and religion, such a liberalism would work quietly, sensitively and with a proper sense of scale. (To paraphrase Bernie Sanders, America is sick and tired of hearing about liberals’ damn bathrooms.)

Okay, first of all, it is the reactionary right that is obsessed with bathrooms.
Secondly, a liberalism that is ashamed of dealing with the issues of the oppressed religious and sexual minorities is not something any decent person should wish for.

Third, Progressives are NOT winning back the angry white guy vote. No matter how universal their appeal. Bill Clinton and Barack Obama both proposed national health care plans that would benefit Americans of every ethnicity and gender. The angry white guys screamed Communist! at Bill Clinton and, inexplicably, Fascist! at Barack Obama. There is nothing that progressives can do to peel away Trump voters. They are steeped in the identity politics of Rush Limbaugh and FOX "news" and there is no prying them back into reality.

The good news is that it's not necessary.  The problem with the last election wasn't that Trump got too many votes. It's that Clinton didn't get enough. (At least not in the swing states) If Hillary Clinton could have just turned out the voters that showed up to vote for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, she'd have won.And you're not going to appeal to those voters with bland centrism. The voters want to know what you are going to do for them. They want to know why should they vote for you?

Look at the two bumper stickers

Here's Trump's:
Image result for trump bumper sticker

Is it stupid? Sure. But it lays out a reason for voting. Vote for me and I will make America white great again. So imagine you're a voter. You say "hmm, if I vote for this buffoonish asshole, he'll somehow maybe be able to make America great again? Eh, it's not nothing!"
So what do I get if I vote for Hillary?

okayyyyyy. . . but what do I get for being with her?

Yeah, but. . .
Image result for hillary bumper sticker

Where is it" Where's the reason to vote for her? Barack Obama promised us Hope and Change. That was a winning slogan.

And it's not about bumper stickers and slogans. It's about giving people a reason to vote for you. People knew why they wanted to vote for Trump. They believed that he was a great and successful businessman who could make America great and successful in his image. They believed he would build a wall and make Mexico pay for it. They believed he would intimidate other world leaders into bending to America's will. They obviously were dead wrong about all those things, but they believed them.
But Hillary Clinton never had that "vote for me and I will . . . ." narrative. Other than "holy fuck, you can't possibly elect this blithering orange hued pustule as president" what motivation did she ever give anyone to leave their homes, drive to a polling place, wait in line and pull the lever for her? If it was there, I never heard it. I voted for her anyway because I'm not a monster, but if I lived in one of those precincts where Republican secretaries of state had closed polling stations and reduced the numbers of voting machines, I'm not sure I would have stood on line for any great length of time just to vote against Trump.

You have to give the voters a reason to choose you. Bernie Sanders did. That's why he consistently polled ahead of Trump during the primaries while Hillary wobbled between a narrow lead and virtual tie. Democrats lost this election in the primary. And it had nothing to do with "identity politics."

Flashback Friday -- Billy Bragg

I still remember the first time I heard Billy Bragg. My friend had a vinyl copy of "Back to Basics" and I made a cassette recording of it and just wore it out. I hadn't ever heard anyone like him, a folk singer with an electric guitar and a Cockney snarl. He's probably best known for his political songs, but he's also written and sang some really beautiful love and heartbreak songs. There are so many great ones, I'll try to post a few highlights.

Funny thing, when I first heard this next song, it reminded me of the Smiths. Not that Billy sounds anything like Morrisey or anything, and it doesn't have that Smiths jangle or whatever, but there's something about the structure or the chord progression, or something - I don't know, I'm not a musician - Anyway, I looked at the liner notes and saw Johnny Marr and I felt oddly validated.

When I first heard about the Mermaid Avenue project, I thought "sure, Billy Bragg, that's a perfect fit, but Wilco? That's a bit odd." But damn if it didn't work perfectly!

And Billy really brings the old labor songs to life.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Ben Carson maybe finally gets it a little

Carson not interested in serving in Trump administration

Riiiight! Just like I have no interest in playing Major League Baseball. I'm totally sure they would welcome me onto the team if I wanted to.

Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson has told President-elect Donald Trump that he isn't interested in serving as secretary of Health and Human Services, a Carson ally confirmed to The Hill on Tuesday.

Circa on Tuesday reported that Carson had been offered the position, citing Williams. But Williams told The Hill that no specific offer had been made.

Duh! Of course no specific offer was made. No one would offer a job to Ben Carson, not even a dumbfuck like Trump. Especially Trump, Carson is the epitome of the "low energy" loser Trump despises.

"Dr. Carson was never offered a specific position, but everything was open to him," Williams told The Hill in a phone call.

Right. Everything was open to him. To this guy:

Sleepy Carson had every position available to him. He could have been chairman of the joint chiefs or undersecretary of agriculture for papayas or whatever he wanted. The world was his oyster!

So why would Ben Carson turn down this imaginary job that he was never offered?

"Dr. Carson feels he has no government experience, he's never run a federal agency. The last thing he would want to do was take a position that could cripple the presidency."


NOW you understand that having no experience is a problem? NOW?

You RAN - - for PRESIDENT! You were fine having zero experience and applying for the highest office in the land, but Secretary of HHS, that you wouldn't presume to take on without prior experience?

Also, it's a minor point, but Dr. Carson doesn't feel he has no government experience. He has no government experience.

But at least he finally realized that.