Category Archives: Out There

Trump vs. ‘Freedom Caucus:’ Whom do you root for?

This had me shaking my head this morning:

President Trump effectively declared war Thursday on the House Freedom Caucus, the powerful group of hard-line conservative Republicans who blocked the health-care bill, vowing to “fight them” in the 2018 midterm elections.

In a morning tweet, Trump warned that the Freedom Caucus would “hurt the entire Republican agenda if they don’t get on the team, & fast.” He grouped its members, all of them Republican, with Democrats in calling for their political defeat — an extraordinary incitement of intraparty combat from a sitting president…

I just don’t feel like I’ve got a dog in that fight; do you? All I could think of to say was this:

Is this what American political discourse has become? A to-the-death battle between irrational fringe elements, with neither side having a clue how to run a government — or even any interest in doing so?

Look at what, thanks to gerrymandering, Republican primaries have become:

The ad battles are heating up in the 5th District special election, including one spot that calls out GOP lawmakers for “folding” on the Confederate flag.

Republican Sheri Few of Lugoff launched her first radio ad in the congressional race this week, attacking “weak Republicans” who voted to remove the Confederate flag at the S.C. State House in 2015 in the wake of the Charleston church massacre.

“I’m running for Congress to reject political correctness,” Few says in the ad, a 60-second spot airing in the Columbia market….

And for you aliens who are visiting our planet and trying to understand how our politics work, here’s the exlanation:

Few is competing for right-wing Republican voters in the May 2 primary, which is expected to have a low turnout…

Yep.

Any of y’all ever have an extended conversation with Sheri Few? It’s… an experience.

I suppose I should note that she’s running for a seat vacated by a member of the “Freedom Caucus…”

Sheri Few/2008 file photo

Sheri Few/2008 file photo

If we had nothing else, this one small thing would show how unhinged Trump is

Forget dumping TPP, “alternative facts,” threats to bring back torture, the Wall, the admiration for Putin, “grab her by the p___y,” Alicia Machado and all the rest.

Try to imagine that up to now, Donald Trump has acted like a perfectly normal, grounded, mature human being.

This one interview would be enough to make you say, “This guy’s lost it!”

The way President Trump tells it, the meandering, falsehood-filled, self-involved speech that he gave at the Central Intelligence Agency headquarters was one of the greatest addresses ever given.

“That speech was a home run,” Trump told ABC News just a few minutes into his first major television interview since moving into the White House. “See what Fox said. They said it was one of the great speeches. They showed the people applauding and screaming. … I got a standing ovation. In fact, they said it was the biggest standing ovation since Peyton Manning had won the Super Bowl, and they said it was equal. I got a standing ovation. It lasted for a long period of time.”

The most powerful man in the world continued: “You probably ran it live. I know when I do good speeches. I know when I do bad speeches. That speech was a total home run. They loved it. … People loved it. They loved it. They gave me a standing ovation for a long period of time. They never even sat down, most of them, during the speech. There was love in the room. You and other networks covered it very inaccurately. … That speech was a good speech. And you and a couple of other networks tried to downplay that speech. And it was very, very unfortunate that you did.”…

It’s like he was trying to outdo Alexandra Petri’s satirical column (“The true, correct story of what happened at Donald Trump’s inauguration“) spoofing how awesome Trump thinks his inauguration was.

Soon, it will become impossible to lampoon him, as nothing satirists will be able to dream up will exceed the things he actually says.

Seriously, who talks like this? If you’d never heard of the guy, and heard him talking this way about himself, you’d start to steadily back away, trying to make no sudden moves…

trump interview

They’re actually still going on about this

relentless

I followed a link provided by Bryan to a site that Wikipedia describes as “conservative,” but — just going by the headlines — seems quite a bit farther to the right than that.

Anyway, in the middle of the piece Bryan had linked to, I saw the above ad. Here’s what it linked to.

And I thought, “Really? Still?

I had thought all that demonize-the-Clintons stuff was about keeping her from becoming president. Apparently, for some folks, it’s a career.

Which, of course, is what’s wrong with American politics across the spectrum from left to right: All those folks out there, in the parties and the many more-or-less affiliated interest groups, whose jobs depend on keeping people outraged…

On the downside, Trump will still be president in October

Had to smile at this news from The Washington Post this morning:

proxy

Will the mysterious shadow planet Nibiru obliterate Earth in October? No.

If all goes according to wild conjecture, planet Earth and the planet Nibiru are set to collide in the autumn, twin cosmic shooters in a game of apocalyptic marbles. Nibiru is playing for keeps, bringing sinkholes, fire storms and the general annihilation of life as we know it. As with many conspiracy theories, though, this one has a fatal factual flaw. The closest thing Nibiru has had to an existence was a cameo in a 2013 Star Trek film. There is not, in reality, a planet called Nibiru boldly zooming through our solar frontier….

Here was this thing I had not worried about a bit, because I had never heard about it. (It’s one of those things like “the world’s gonna end in 2012” — remember that one?) And now they were telling me not to worry about it.

But don’t bother to celebrate our deliverance. Scientists also predict that, on the downside, Donald Trump will be president of the United States in October 2017.

They give with one hand, and take away with the other…

‘Heil Victory,’ say some members of the alt-right at gathering

This is from a report in The New York Times today:

WASHINGTON — By the time Richard B. Spencer, the leading ideologue of the altright movement and the final speaker of the night, rose to address a gathering of his followers on Saturday, the crowd was restless.

In 11 hours of speeches and panel discussions in a federal building named after Ronald Reagan a few blocks from the White House, a succession of speakers had laid out a harsh vision for the future, but had denounced violence and said that Hispanic citizens and black Americans had nothing to fear. Earlier in the day, Mr. Spencer himself had urged the group to start acting less like an underground organization and more like the establishment.

But now his tone changed as he began to tell the audience of more than 200 people, mostly young men, what they had been waiting to hear. He railed against Jews and, with a smile, quoted Nazi propaganda in the original German. America, he said, belonged to white people, whom he called the “children of the sun,” a race of conquerors and creators who had been marginalized but now, in the era of President­elect Donald J. Trump, were “awakening to their own identity.”

As he finished, several audience members had their arms outstretched in a Nazi salute. When Mr. Spencer, or perhaps another person standing near him at the front of the room — it was not clear who — shouted, “Heil the people! Heil victory,” the room shouted it back…

I won’t comment except to remind you of my frequent previous mentions of fascism, which were not exaggerations. Note that this occurred in Washington, D.C., not Nuremberg.

Politico passed on this nugget from the same event:

The meeting attendees — an overwhelmingly white and male audience, with many sporting closely cropped faux hawk-like haircuts, though one was spotted wearing a yarmulke — gathered in the atrium were an engaged group, often booing journalists asking questions. Outside, the scene was more rambunctious: protests raged off of Pennsylvania Ave., and one man with a bloody face was seen seeking police assistance, though the circumstances of his injury were unclear. Tila Tequila, a reality TV personality who was listed by event organizers as a guest, posted a picture of herself on Twitter engaged in a Nazi-style salute.

“Seig [sic] heil!” the tweet read….

Yeah, it’s hilarious — Nazi wannabes who can’t spell “Sieg.” Well, there was a time when good Germans thought the Nazis were a joke, too.

Trump Tower climber faces charges. Good.

It appalls me to see cops risking their lives to rescue this guy, who put them in danger for no good reason.

It appalls me to see cops risking their lives to rescue this guy, who put them in danger for no good reason.

I take a dim view of death-defying stunts, particularly when they are performed for no useful purpose — which is the case at least 99 percent of the time.

Evel Kneivel never held any charm for me. Those buses simply did not need to be jumped over. As for extreme sports — well, I have a personal rule about skydiving: I will jump out of a perfectly good airplane the next time it is absolutely necessary for someone to do so in order to liberate Europe from Hitler. Not before.

I especially look down on the kinds of stunts that attract extensive news coverage, thereby inspiring kids and unbalanced adults to emulate them.

So it is with the guy who climbed Trump Tower yesterday. His “purpose” was to meet Trump. And it’s hard to imagine a purpose less useful than that one.

But what gets me is that he caused NYPD cops to risk their necks rescuing him.

I read that he’s facing charges for what he did. Good.

The guy Sarah Palin is endorsing over Paul Ryan

Sarah Palin is so thoroughly ticked at House Speaker Paul Ryan — for oh-so-gently declining to immediately bow down before Donald Trump — that she is endorsing his primary opponent.

Above is his campaign video. No, I don’t think he’s being brutally ironic, mocking the middle-school machismo of other Republican campaign videos (such as my personal favorite, Ted Cruz’ “Machine-Gun Bacon,” which didn’t involve an actual machine gun, but never mind; it’s the strutting that counts).

I think he’s serious — something I might have doubted before this election year.

The guy in the video, by the way, is grateful for ex-Gov. Palin’s endorsement. I don’t think he’s joking about that, either.

2016 should have come with an official tagline: “They’re Not Kidding”…

Trump abortion comment may be the ultimate example of his malevolent cluelessness

Donald Trump, engaged in what passes for 'thought' with him.

Donald Trump, engaged in what passes for ‘thought’ with him.

Donald Trump outdid himself yesterday, managing to alienate everyone on both sides of the abortion divide with his utter malevolent cluelessness:

APPLETON, Wis. — Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump came under fire Wednesday for saying that women should be subject to “some sort of punishment” for undergoing illegal abortions, a position that antiabortion and abortion rights groups alike emphatically denounced….

This prompted plenty of comments to the effect that Trump had evidently not thought carefully about the issue — which would mean that he has treated this issue the way he treats all others.

Say “Donald Trump thinking about issues,” and I picture a flat rock skipping across a pond before it runs out of momentum and eventually sinks to the bottom. Trump is the rock, in case the metaphor is too complex for you.

I would take it another step, though, in this case. I think what he said reflects that, to the extent he’s thought about the issue at all, he still holds a view (left over from his “very pro-choice” days, back when that was more convenient for him) of us pro-lifers propagated by those who oppose us: That our opposition to abortion arises not out of a concern for the unborn life, but from a hostility to women and their interests.

To the extent that something one would characterize as “thought” passed through Trump’s mind before he spoke in response to prompting from his interviewer, it seems to have been along these lines: “This is the way those pro-lifers think, so since I’m pretending to be one of them, I’ll say that.”

Mixed in with that, we should probably take into account his general preference for sounding “tough,” whatever the issue. The tougher — and the stupider — he sounds, the more his base seems to like him.

So where does this leave us? With this guy still the GOP front-runner, which means that unless a miracle can be pulled off at the convention, the allegedly pro-life party will be represented by someone who holds actual pro-lifers in contempt, while the left will characterize him the way this NYT headline yesterday did: “Donald Trump, Abortion Foe, Eyes ‘Punishment’ for Women…” Even though Trump is as much of a “abortion foe” as the aforementioned flat rock.

Presidential campaign generally produce much heat, and little light, on the abortion issue. But things seldom go this dark…

Paranoid thought of the day: Scalia dies, unions win big

Yeah, I know. Crazy. But when I see stuff like this:

The impact of the death of the conservative supreme court justice Antonin Scalia on the political sway of the nation was laid bare on Tuesday when the eight surviving justices held each other to a draw over an attempt to gut the power of public sector unions.

Looks healthy to ME...

Looks healthy to ME…

By dividing evenly 4-4, the country’s highest judicial panel averted a major blow to unions representing government workers and teachers. The split leaves in place a lower appeals court ruling that allows unions to continue to collect mandatory dues from workers covered by collective bargaining even though those workers refuse to join the union.

The supreme court issued a one-page ruling that gave no clue as to its thinking other to note that the “judgment is affirmed by an equally divided court”. But there was little doubt that the outcome underlined the seismic shift that has occurred in the US as a result of Scalia’s death last month.

In oral arguments in January, Scalia made it plain that he was minded to vote to overturn the 1977 ruling, Abood v Detroit Board of Education, that allows unions to collect fees from non-members in order to carry out collective bargaining on their behalf. Had he done so, the supreme court would have divided by the 5-4 conservative-to-liberal dynamic that was dominant until Scalia’s death….

… I couldn’t help wondering: We’re sure Scalia died of natural causes, right?

Sure, I’m embarrassed to express such a thought out loud. I mean, these unions represent teachers, and nice government workers like the ones I’m always defending from Doug.

But still: Where’s Jimmy Hoffa?

Heil Trump! — no, really; watch the video…

We’ve spoken before about the undertones of fascism in the appeal of Donald Trump. (Or maybe I just Tweeted about it; I’m not immediately finding the previous reference.)

Now there’s this, which somehow I missed over the weekend and didn’t see until today.

From the latest column by Dana Milbank:

So it has come to this: The front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, at a campaign rally Saturday in Orlando, leading supporters in what looked very much like a fascist salute.

“Can I have a pledge? A swearing?” Trump asked, raising his right hand and directing his followers to do the same. He then led them in pledging allegiance — not to the flag but to Trump, for which they stand and for whom they vowed to vote.

Benito Mussolini (1883 - 1945) the Italian dictator in 1934. (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

Benito Mussolini (1883 – 1945) the Italian dictator in 1934. (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

Trump supporters raised their arms en masse — unfortunately evoking the sort of scene associated with grainy newsreels from Italy and Germany.

Among those not engaging in such ominous imagery were the demonstrators, who, by my colleague Jenna Johnson’s account, interrupted Trump’s event more than a dozen times. The candidate watched a supporter grab and attempt to tackle protesters, at least one of them black, near the stage. “You know, we have a divided country, folks,” Trump said. “We have a terrible president who happens to be African American.”

Loaded imagery, violence against dissenters and a racial attack on the president: It’s all in a day’s work for Trump….

If you watch that video and let it go on to autoplay the next one, you’ll hear the bit that goes, “We have a terrible president who happens to be African American.” You don’t want to miss that one, either.

Yeah, he’s a buffoon. But so was Mussolini. Hitler, too, but I think the Mussolini comparison is more apt. All that comic-opera strutting and mugging…

Why is the country flying apart now, when it didn’t in the ’30s?

How did the nation settle for an Establishment president in the same year that the Bonus Army was marching?

How did the nation settle for an Establishment president in the same year that the Bonus Army was marching?

I thought this passage from Yeats was appropriate four years ago. I had no idea how bad things would get:

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity…

You think the centre can hold? Tell that to Jeb Bush (and Hillary Clinton, right after New Hampshire). You don’t think the worst are full of passionate intensity? Go to a Trump rally.

Why is this happening now? Why didn’t it happen in the 1930s, when socialism and fascism were competing across the globe… everywhere but here?

If ever there was a time that faith in the center, the mainstream, might have been shaken, you’d think it would have happened then rather than now.

How was it that, in an election going on at the same time the Bonus Army was marching, the nation chose an Establishment president? And you really didn’t get much more Establishment than Roosevelt.

Was FDR just that gifted and charismatic a leader? I mean, I think he was a lot of it. His ability to inspire and encourage the nation was amazing.

Why are civil, thoughtful, calm people swept aside in favor of blustering bullies? As I’ve said before, Trump and to a great extent Cruz behave in ways that most civilized people teach their children not to act. It remains beyond my understanding that any adult could look at these guys and think, This is my leader; this is the one I want.

True, the center is singularly lacking in charismatic figures. There is no FDR, no Lincoln, to pull the country together.

And if that lack is the answer, then our current situation is a great argument for the Great Man theory of history…

Donald Trump embraces the left’s ‘Bush lied’ lie. How is this going to play here in South Carolina?

My last post arose from Marco Rubio’s response to what Donald Trump said over the weekend, at that debate I had to stop watching.

Basically, Trump repeated the left’s “Bush lied” lie:

“You call it whatever you want. I wanna tell you. They lied…They said there were weapons of mass destruction. There were none. And they knew there were none. There were no weapons of mass destruction.”

It’s fascinating how starkly that belief continues to divide us, in terms of our perceptions of reality. The Post‘s Richard Cohen wrote:

Of all the surprises, of all the unexpected ironies, of all the unanticipated turns in the Republican presidential race, it’s possible that Donald Trump has been hurt by telling the truth. Trump himself must be reeling from such a development and has probably by now vowed to return to lying and bluster seasoned with personal insult — “You’re a loser” — but the fact remains that when he called the war in Iraq “a big, fat mistake,” he was exactly right. Jeb Bush, the very good brother of a very bad president, has now turned legitimate criticism of George W. Bush into an attack on his family. His family survived the war. Countless others did not.

Hey, at least he called Jeb a “very good brother,” right?

But it fell to The Wall Street Journal‘s editorial board to state what really happened, and what did not. As to Trump’s “They lied” assertion:

Despite years of investigation and countless memoirs, there is no evidence for this claim. None. The CIA director at the time, George Tenet, famously called evidence of WMD in Iraq a “slam dunk.” Other intelligence services, including the British, also believed Saddam Hussein had such programs. After the first Gulf War in 1991 the CIA had been surprised to learn that Saddam had far more WMD capability than it had thought. So it wasn’t crazy to suspect that Saddam would attempt to rebuild it after he had expelled United Nations arms inspectors in the late 1990s.

President Bush empowered a commission, led by former Democratic Sen. Chuck Robb and federal Judge Laurence Silberman, to dig into the WMD question with access to intelligence and officials across the government. The panel included Patricia Wald, a former chief judge of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals appointed by Jimmy Carter, and Richard Levin, president of Yale University at the time.

Their report of more than 600 pages concludes that it was the CIA’s “own independent judgments—flawed though they were—that led them to conclude Iraq had active WMD programs.” The report adds that “the Commission found no evidence of political pressure” to alter intelligence findings: “Analysts universally asserted that in no instance did political pressure cause them to skew or alter their analytical judgments.”…

The Journal‘s headline for that editorial was “Donald Trump’s MoveOn.org Moment.” Indeed. Once again, the extremes meet.

The big question this week is, as W. comes to South Carolina — which has been solid Bush country since 1988 (although not so much in 1980) — to help his brother out, how is Trump’s rant going to play here on Saturday?

Everyone’s asking that question.

In a rational world, it would sink Trump’s chances completely. But when in the past year have you seen the phenomenon of Trump fandom respond to anything resembling reason? Actual Republicans would likely react to this latest by saying Trump’s gone too far. But do you think “Trump supporters” and “Republicans” are the same set of people?

Add to that the fact that the GOP electorate in South Carolina hasn’t entirely been itself since it caught the Tea Party fever in 2010, and the effect of this particular rant may turn out to be a wash. Things are so messed up this year, I’m not going to try to make a prediction…

‘Brushfires of Liberty’: Rand Paul drops out, too

GOP chorus

A little less like a chorus line now (I don’t even RECOGNIZE the fourth guy from the right! Pataki? Is he that tall?)

First, Mike Huckabee and Martin O’Malley quit during the Iowa caucuses, so that their passing was hardly noted.

Now, Rand Paul has joined them, in true Paulista style: “Brushfires of Liberty were ignited, and those will carry on, as will I.” (See, this is one of the things about ideologues that kind of gives me the fantods. All that talk about setting fires and extremism being no vice, etc.)

So now that they’ve joined Lindsey Graham, Bobby Jindal, Scott Walker, Rick Perry, Lincoln Chafee, Jim Webb and others I’m probably forgetting, this is starting to look a presidential election rather than a revival of “A Chorus Line.”

Of course, on the GOP side, we need someone other than the undercard candidates to quit in order to help us focus. Several someones, in fact. Y’all know that I think political parties are pretty meaningless constructs, but if the mainstream Republicans still running (but not in the running) want to show that they do believe in their party (I’m picturing the Cowardly Lion: “I DO believe in parties! I DO believe in parties! I do I do I do I do…“), now would be a good time to quit and throw their support to a single rational candidate. Increasingly, as weird as that would have seemed when he first came on the scene, it looks as though that candidate would be Marco Rubio.

Or at least get it down to two, so that the Establishment has something of a chance against the two Unthinkables.

As to Rand Paul… Bob Amundson asked this morning:

Doug, who will libertarian voters support now that Rand Paul is dropping out?

Well, we sort of already have an answer from Doug (although I urge him to answer the question himself). Yesterday, he said:

Do you REALLY think your vote in the Republican primary could ever impact the results? If you’re voting for the most liberal Republican, it won’t make a difference.

I suppose I could skip the Republican primary and vote for Sanders because I’d prefer him over Hillary every day of the week and twice on Sunday… but what’s the point? I’m not voting in either because the only candidate I would ever support hasn’t got a chance – Paul.

I hope all of y’all will join me in urging Doug to pick a candidate he considers least bad (a Republican, or Sanders, or whomever), rather than surrender his franchise. Note that I’m arguing against my own inclinations here, since whoever is next on Doug’s list is likely to be last on mine, but I believe that strongly in his right and duty as a citizen.

This is the moment in the film when the crusty sergeant slaps the private back and forth across the face several times telling him, “You’re a MARINE, dammit! Snap out of it!” And the private says, “Thanks, I needed that,” and gets up and does his duty… OK, OK, so it doesn’t work with me as the crusty sergeant, or Doug as the private. I’m more the officer who taught school in peacetime and is working on his novel between battles, and is given to spontaneous lectures about Why We Fight. Doug is more the recalcitrant misfit who instead punches the sergeant for touching him and ends up in the stockade, again. (There’s a WWII B movie stereotype for everybody!)

But my point is, Doug should vote…

chorus line

Apparently, Trump and Palin have the same first language, and (surprise!) it’s not English

Had you listened to Donald Trump and wondered where you had heard that peculiar, gushing, bouncing-around, non-linear mode of expression before?

Yesterday, we were reminded where, when Sarah Palin endorsed him. Thanks to The Fix for providing the transcript of what it terms “Sarah Palin’s rambling, remarkable and at times hard to understand endorsement of Donald Trump.” Some excerpts:

“He is from the private sector, not a politician. Can I get a ‘Hallelujah!’ Where, in the private sector, you actually have to balance budgets in order to prioritize, to keep the main thing, the main thing, and he knows the main thing: a president is to keep us safe economically and militarily. He knows the main thing, and he knows how to lead the charge. So troops, hang in there, because help’s on the way because he, better than anyone, isn’t he known for being able to command, fire! Are you ready for a commander in chief, you ready for a commander in chief who will let our warriors do their job and go kick ISIS ass? Ready for someone who will secure our borders, to secure our jobs, and to secure our homes? Ready to make America great again, are you ready to stump for Trump? I’m here to support the next president of the United States, Donald Trump….

“Trump’s candidacy, it has exposed not just that tragic ramifications of that betrayal of the transformation of our country, but too, he has exposed the complicity on both sides of the aisle that has enabled it, okay? Well, Trump, what he’s been able to do, which is really ticking people off, which I’m glad about, he’s going rogue left and right, man, that’s why he’s doing so well. He’s been able to tear the veil off this idea of the system. The way that the system really works, and please hear me on this, I want you guys to understand more and more how the system, the establishment, works, and has gotten us into the troubles that we are in in America. The permanent political class has been doing the bidding of their campaign donor class, and that’s why you see that the borders are kept open. For them, for their cheap labor that they want to come in. That’s why they’ve been bloating budgets. It’s for crony capitalists to be able suck off of them. It’s why we see these lousy trade deals that gut our industry for special interests elsewhere. We need someone new, who has the power, and is in the position to bust up that establishment to make things great again. It’s part of the problem.

“His candidacy, which is a movement, it’s a force, it’s a strategy. It proves, as long as the politicos, they get to keep their titles, and their perks, and their media ratings, they don’t really care who wins elections. Believe me on this. And the proof of this? Look what’s happening today. Our own GOP machine, the establishment, they who would assemble the political landscape, they’re attacking their own front-runner. Now would the Left ever, would the DNC ever come after their front-runner and her supporters? No, because they don’t eat their own, they don’t self-destruct. But for the GOP establishment to be coming after Donald Trump’s supporters even, with accusations that are so false. They are so busted, the way that this thing works….

Oh, go read the whole thing. Just be careful you don’t get whiplash…

Our shame is that SC audience cheered what Trump said

I suppose I must say something about this, since he said it here in South Carolina — yet another blot on our ledger.

Not that we control what Donald Trump says. No, the really, truly shameful thing about it for us is that some people present — most of them likely to have been South Carolinians — cheered when he said it:

At a rally in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina on Monday evening, Trump pointed to the statement he released earlier in the day.

“Should I read you the statement?” he asked.

The crowd enthusiastically agreed that he should.

“Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on,” he said, adding the word “hell” for emphasis this time.

Supporters erupted in applause….

In another version of that story, that applause is described as “a boisterous standing ovation.” Is that accurate? View and listen to the video clip above, and judge for yourself.

The response is important because it is our shame, but also because Trump, employing his usual odd logic, used it to defend himself this morning: Hey, these people loved it, so it must not have been a bad idea….

In a way, for the rest of us to have to condemn this is an insult itself. We shouldn’t have to say anything, because anyone who thinks we wouldn’t be sickened by hearing something so stupid and hateful is insulting us by such a supposition.

But since South Carolinians applauded, we need to separate ourselves from them. How about if we do it this way: Let’s deport everyone who applauded and cheered, and then refuse to let them back in. It might not make us safer, but it would certainly make this political season less objectionable. (And no, I don’t mean it.)

So yeah: It was horrible. Probably the most horrible thing he’s said yet, although he’s got quite a competition going with himself. He’s an idiot, and he’s evil. But that’s not the problem. The problem is that vast numbers of likely voters love him for his worst qualities, which points to a profound sickness in our body politic.

He’s been denounced — by Muslims of course, by Lindsey Graham, by Paul Ryan, by Dick Cheney (no soft-on-terror guy he),  by leaders all around the world. And pundits, of course. I like what Alexandra Petri said: “What will make America great again is getting rid of Donald Trump.”

South Carolina Democratic Party Chair Jaime Harrison said:

Donald Trump’s comments offend the very fabric upon which our country was founded. His racist and offensive campaign for President of the United States should embarrass the Republican Party. His comments are an embarrassment to South Carolinians, who believe in equality, fairness, and justice for all.

… which would have a lot more impact if Jaime didn’t denounce pretty much everything any Republican candidate has to say.

What else is left to say? I’ll leave it to you…

Trump still

After this, a headline writer would have nothing left to strive for

CO--R5tWwAAWinS

Bryan Caskey brought the above headline to my attention last night. I don’t know where he found it.

It prompts three thoughts:

  • The journalistic pedant in me protests that this is not a headline. It’s a lede and a good bit of the next graf. But hey, kudos to whoever had the sand to decide to hell with the rules; we’re gonna get all of this into the headline! But then, what choice did the editor have? What were they going to do, leave out the part about the guy she waved at being dressed as a Snickers bar?
  • As I Tweeted to Bryan in reply, “After that, the headline writer died happy….” I mean, seriously, what does he have to look forward to after that? He’s never going to top it.
  • If the copy editor did decide to cling to life — as we humans are wont to do — he should retire from his job at the tabloid, turn this headline into a country song and head to Nashville. Fame awaits.

‘Black Lives Matter?’ Absolutely. After that, what?

The “Black Lives Matter” movement has sort of been hovering out there, an amorphous thing that no one seems entirely comfortable with.

Not Republican presidential candidates, certainly (some less than others). But not their Democratic counterparts, either.

And our governor is pretty adamant in her disapproval.

Conservatives are uncomfortable with it, and some liberals seem dismissive:

Black Lives Matter demands “freedom for Black bodies, justice for Black lives, safety for Black communities, and rights for Black people,” but it will have to overcome skepticism from fellow progressives to create lasting political change.

Self-identifying members of the left are comparing the movement to Occupy Wall Street, which stormed the American political discourse in 2011, but in 2015 feels like a historical relic.

Adolph Reed, a professor in the University of Pennsylvania’s political science department, told IJReview on August 12 that he had:

“been joking with some friends in the last few days we should call it Blackupy because it is the same kind of thing.”

Of course, I’m taking IJ’s word for it that this Prof. Reed is a liberal. I don’t know.

But I know the Democratic Party has an uneasy relationship with it. The party has been sticking up for it, and today I got a DP release drawing attention to a NYT editorial defending the movement:

The Republican Party and its acolytes in the news media are trying to demonize the protest movement that has sprung up in response to the all-too-common police killings of unarmed African-Americans across the country. The intent of the campaign — evident in comments by politicians likeGov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina,Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin andSenator Rand Paul of Kentucky — is to cast the phrase “Black Lives Matter” as an inflammatory or even hateful anti-white expression that has no legitimate place in a civil rights campaign….

The “Black Lives Matter” movement focuses on the fact that black citizens have long been far more likely than whites to die at the hands of the police, and is of a piece with this history. Demonstrators who chant the phrase are making the same declaration that voting rights and civil rights activists made a half-century ago. They are not asserting that black lives are more precious than white lives. They are underlining an indisputable fact — that the lives of black citizens in this country historically have not mattered, and have been discounted and devalued. People who are unacquainted with this history are understandably uncomfortable with the language of the movement. But politicians who know better and seek to strip this issue of its racial content and context are acting in bad faith. They are trying to cover up an unpleasant truth and asking the country to collude with them.

But the movement itself resists efforts by the liberal establishment to defend it:

The following is a statement is response to the Democratic National Committee resolution expressing support for the Black Lives Matter movement, and can be attributed to the Black Lives Matter Network, including our 26 chapters nationwide.

“A resolution signaling the Democratic National Committee’s endorsement that Black lives matter, in no way implies an endorsement of the DNC by the Black Lives Matter Network, nor was it done in consultation with us. We do not now, nor have we ever, endorsed or affiliated with the Democratic Party, or with any party. The Democratic Party, like the Republican and all political parties, have historically attempted to control or contain Black people’s efforts to liberate ourselves. True change requires real struggle, and that struggle will be in the streets and led by the people, not by a political party.

More specifically, the Black Lives Matter Network is clear that a resolution from the Democratic National Committee won’t bring the changes we seek. Resolutions without concrete change are just business as usual. Promises are not policies. We demand freedom for Black bodies, justice for Black lives, safety for Black communities, and rights for Black people. We demand action, not words, from those who purport to stand with us.

While the Black Lives Matter Network applauds political change towards making the world safer for Black life, our only endorsement goes to the protest movement we’ve built together with Black people nationwide — not the self-interested candidates, parties, or political machine seeking our vote.”

####

Assuming that statement is in any way legitimately representative of it, the movement, like Occupy and the Tea Party before it, is… prickly — particularly with regard to efforts to co-opt it.

Like those predecessors, especially Occupy (which foolishly had a deep ideological objection to hierarchy), it’s a little hard to focus on because it “is a decentralized network, and has no formal hierarchy or structure.” That is, no one is in charge.

Also, it has arisen from disparate events in Ferguson, Baltimore, New York, Charleston and elsewhere. To someone like me, I see those as discrete occurrences and draw different conclusions from them. To Black Lives Matter — I think; as I say, it’s hard to pin down — they are all part of a clear pattern.

All I know is that whenever I hear “Black Lives Matter,” I think, “Of course they do.” Beyond that, when I look at the movement’s clashes with various people, including those you would assume would be sympathetic, I don’t know what to think.

You?

Dang! Apparently, I JUST missed seeing Lizard Man

WCIV-TV | ABC News 4 – Charleston News, Sports, Weather

Over the weekend, while still at Surfside, I started telling my youngest granddaughter about the Lizard Man legend. I don’t remember why. Anyway, driving home the next day with the kids in the car, I had just passed the Bishopville exit from which you can see the woods where he supposedly dwells, and I said, “Oh, I’m so sorry! I forgot to point out where they say Lizard Man lives!”

Apparently, if I’d been just a bit more attentive, I might have seen him:

BISHOPVILLE, S.C. (WCIV) — The fabled Bishopville swamp creature known as Lizard Man appears to have surfaced again Sunday afternoon.

Sarah, a Sumter woman who says she went to church with a friend Sunday morning, stepped out of the sanctuary to see the Lizard Man running along the tree line.

So she did what anyone else would do — took a picture with her phone.

“My hand to God, I am not making this up,” she wrote in an email to the ABC News 4 newsroom. “So excited!”

She says they were just a mile or so from Scape Ore Swamp, the site of a similar spotting of what may also be the Lizard Man in May.

A man who asked not to be identified submitted a short video of what he thought was the Lizard Man Monday morning. He said he took the video in May while coon hunting but kept its existence quiet — until he saw the reports of Lizard Man outside a church.

“I saw your lizard man story and it’s given me the courage to send you a video I took in early May,” the man wrote. “Though my wife believes me that it’s real, she said she would be embarrassed that everyone would think I was a loon so I kept it a secret.”…

Above is the video. Below is the picture taken by “Sarah.” As you can see, Lizard Man looks uncannily like a man wearing a cheap rubber costume. Isn’t nature amazing?

Lizard Man

Is the best response to racist rallies just to ignore them?

Hey, I was there to cover the Nazis.

Hey, I was there to cover the Nazis.

Today, Cindi is urging us all to stay away from the State House during the demonstrations by the KKK and the New Black Panther Party:

We recognize that many good and sincere South Carolinians feel a need to demonstrate to the world that such people are not welcome in South Carolina. But there is no need to do that; these are already marginalized groups. No one believes we want them here, or that they represent us. They’re coming to South Carolina because they hope to take advantage of all the national attention on our flag debate to steal a little of the spotlight for themselves.

There’s nothing we can do to stop hate groups from staging rallies at our State House; the Constitution gives even the most odious people and groups the right to hold peaceful protests in such public places. But we can do something even better. We can stop them from accomplishing anything they hope to accomplish — by simply ignoring them….

Do y’all think that’s best? I don’t know, now that the flag’s down.

Over the years, I’ve made a particular effort to show up for anything flag-related at the State House — pro or anti. I was there in 2007 the see the neoNazis. I felt it was important to document, and to comment on, the kinds of visitors that flag attracted to our state’s front lawn.

But now… there is no flag. So what’s the point? Two out-of-state hate groups want to converge on each other in the center of our town. If we can’t keep them from doing so, should we at least just stay away until they’re done? They seem so… irrelevant now.

I don’t know. Now I know that working (that is to say, paid) news people will have to be there. They really have no choice. When something this awful is happening in public in your town, you don’t get to ignore it, any more than if the State House were on fire. You have to report it. Or at the very least, be on hand in case there is violence.

As for me, well — I can certainly think of better ways to spend my Saturday.

Anyway… thoughts?