Applebaum: History Will Judge the Complicit

I’ve struggled for three years to understand the people who continue supporting Donald Trump despite ample reason not to.

Thoughtful conservative politics I get—though I’d like to see more of their high-mindedness directed at what to do about intractable social problems rather than what not to do. The plight of left-behind communities stranded without industry I understand—though it’s a harsh irony that these often-white communities are able to drive the election of a naked populist with their multi-decade grievance while black communities continue struggling despite their multi-century grievance. But anti-intellectualism, rejection of long-standing American institutions, and ignorance of the rule of law I do not understand. Each of these delusions is necessary to maintaining support for this man.

Anne Applebaum has authored a masterful assessment of the go-along sentiments driving Trump’s enablers. I highly recommend taking the time to read it.

I don’t know what the future brings for America. Understanding what brought us Trump and why many continue to support him is a first step at figuring that out.

Lowrey: Defund the Police. Um…

Annie Lowrey, writing for The Atlantic:

America badly needs to rethink its priorities for the whole criminal-justice system, with Floyd’s death drawing urgent, national attention to the necessity for police reform. Activists, civil-rights organizations, academics, policy analysts, and politicians have drawn up a sprawling slate of policies that might help end police brutality, eliminate racist policing, improve trust between cops and the communities they work in, and lower crime levels.

A more radical option, one scrawled on cardboard signs and tagged on buildings and flooding social media, is to defund the cops.

Lowrey’s discussion of defunding police forces isn’t a call for dissolving them, but rather divesting them of the activities that lead to over-policing, over-incarceration, and the deaths of innocents. Defunding is not the way to go; the other options already on the table, also mentioned, are. We should do all of those things.

The rest of the article embodies an unflattering comparison of America’s priorities to those in our similarly-situated allies. Our culture, as exemplified by where we spend our money, is out of whack. The good news is that we can repair it.

#policing #criminalJustice #incarceration

The Sucker Factor

The trouble with associating a political agenda with a disease possessing a two week incubation time is that, by the time any so-motivated activity yields evidence of error, that error amounts to tragedy.

Looking on the bright side, we’ll get a good read on the agenda vs. relative intellect—aka the sucker factor—in two weeks.

The Bulwark: Actor Politicians > Reality TV Politicians

Molly Jong-Fast, writing in The Bulwark:

The secret of reality television is that the emperor has no clothing at all, not a scrap, not even a gold-lamé thong. Reality television is neither reality (which is real), nor television (which is an entertainment medium), so much as a pantomime of humanity at its worst. Which is fitting, since the Trump administration is a pantomime of the presidency at its worst.

Reality stars are like actors, but without the training, or the talent or—weirdly—the reality of being people who understand what it’s like to do a job.

And it turns out that doing fake “reality” on television doesn’t translate to doing real government very well.

A well-put description of why Never-Trump and no-to-Trump were the only intellectually honest political expressions in 2016.

Howe: Why some Christians ‘love the meanest parts’ of Trump

Ben Howe, interviewed by Emma Green for The Atlantic:

Ben Howe is angry at evangelicals. As he describes it, he is angry that they didn’t just vote for Donald Trump in record numbers, but repeatedly provide moral cover for his outrageous failings. He is angry that leaders of the religious right, who long claimed to be the champions of American morality, appear to have gladly traded their values for power. He is angry that Christians claim they support the president because they want to end abortion or protect religious liberty, when supporting Trump suggests that what they really want is a champion who will mock and crush their perceived enemies.

To redeem themselves, Howe believes, evangelicals have to give up their take-no-prisoners culture war.

I’ve noticed a trickle of thoughtful conservative writers making similar arguments from within the Right-leaning, yet Trump-rejecting thought bubble, whether from a social perspective, as here—they were never more morally correct than the rest of us—as well as from a philosophical bent, as with Jonah Goldberg of The Remnant podcast and National Review..

Goldberg has expressed surprise, in hindsight, at how much of conservative backlash against Barack Obama was race-based. This was not news to the Left at the time. What was Goldberg thinking?

I don’t know how far these mea culpas will go toward resurrecting the morally craven Republican party from Trumpists and other grifters of state power. Writers and thinkers like Howe and Goldberg, and others, carry very little weight within the contemporary conservative movement, let alone influence within the GOP apparatus. But that party is going to need a new moral and intellectual center, and they could have one in these people’s writing. The key is admitting that a television huckster has suckered them.

#neverTrump #GOP #trump #BenHowe #JOnahGoldberg

Egger: Does it matter if Trump is a ‘real’ racist?

Andrew Egger, writing for The Bulwark:

You see how ludicrous the proposition is by how it requires racism to be defined down to an impossibly narrow set of attitudes and behaviors: If he’s such a racist, why isn’t he calling for genocide or burning crosses on the White House lawn? As if anything short of marching in a tiki torch parade doesn’t count as real racism. 

But let’s posit that Trump is not, in this sense, a “real” racist; that his use of racist tropes and racially inflammatory rhetoric are only political maneuvering that he thinks will give his poll numbers a jolt. The question is: What difference does it make?

Whether racism is overt or inferred by its result: What’s the difference?

#Bulwark #AndrewEgger #trump

Kaepernick, Nike, and Betsy Ross’s flag

Kaitlyn Tiffany, Vox:

The sneaker was supposed to go on sale this week for $140, and Nike had already shipped it to retailers when it made the decision. Kaepernick took issue with the sneaker’s design, which featured 13 white stars in a circle, referencing a Revolutionary War-era version of the American flag (commonly known as the Betsy Ross flag). This early version of the flag, he argued, is pulled from the era of slavery and doesn’t warrant celebration.

Kaepernick’s sincere, years-long public rejection of overt and systemic American racism is rightly applauded, but this is an example of taking a good idea too far. That an unrelated symbol of early America emerged from the long era of white oppression of blacks is no reason to reject it. We’re not talking statues of Civil War heroes or Lee’s battle flag, here. The Ross flag is in no way connected to white supremacy.

The first symbol of American independence and unity, the Ross flag was also the first to recognizably survive into the modern era. It should be part of any celebration of the nation’s founding.

Kaepernick’s rejection of the flag from a product he endorses is his business. Nike’s rejection at his urging is not only ridiculous, but it’s also bad business, to boot. The shoes were already in retailers’ hands.

#Kaepernick #racism


A very good paragraph by Jonah Goldberg, The Goldberg File:

When I listen to de Blasio talk about wrong hands, Gillibrand prattle about other peoples’ children, or Harris proclaim she will do things she has no power to do, I hear a yearning for back-tracking to the Wrong Turn [in the Enlightenment]. And I hear the same thing in so much of what Donald Trump says as well. But I hear it even more loudly in the applause that accompanies it. 

#politics #classicalLiberalism

Serwer: The illiberal right throws a tantrum

Adam Serwer–The Atlantic:

Undetectable in the dispute on the right is any acknowledgment of the criticisms of liberal democracy by those who have been fighting for their fundamental rights in battles that are measured in decades and even centuries; that the social contract implicitly excluded them from the very rights white Christian men have been able to assert from the beginning. Perhaps to do so would be to acknowledge the fundamental immaturity underlying the American Orbánists’ critique: that what they describe as a crisis of liberal democracy is really just them not getting exactly what they want when they want it.

Smart analysis of the religious Right’s shit-fit over the evaporation of white men’s long-running prerogatives.

America’s social order is changing, both by inclusion and attrition. No wonder the far Right rails against immigration, justice and equality for marginalized people, and even learned scientific knowledge. They attempt nothing short of the triumph of ignorance; that’s the only means available for preserving something whose time has passed.


Trump, as explained by a Brit

Love this:

God knows there have always been stupid people in the world, and plenty of nasty people too. But rarely has stupidity been so nasty, or nastiness so stupid. 

He makes Nixon look trustworthy and George W look smart. 

In fact, if Frankenstein decided to make a monster assembled entirely from human flaws – he would make a Trump.

Read the entire quote here.