Friday, October 28, 2016

Today's epiphany

There is an exceptionally dark and painful place in Hell waiting for whoever came up with autoplay on Web pages.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Maddow goes too far

On her show tonight, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow aired an excerpt from an NBC News report that presumably will air at some point on NBC's own news programs. Maddow hammered home the point that Donald Trump was in the room when his father Fred allegedly told one of his employees that Fred's company didn't rent to "n***ers". According to that employee, who appeared on camera, Donald Trump also nodded in agreement when his father made that statement.

Donald Trump is a crummy human being, no question. But Maddow is trying to tie him to remarks his father made decades ago, and that's not right.

First, it was Fred Trump, not Donald, who made the inflammatory remark. Imputing guilt by association is a disreputable practice. It looks bad for Donald that he nodded in agreement, but he was fairly young, and a lot of us go along with our parents when we're young because we're not mature enough to disagree.

Second, to my mind, an ordinary candidate is allowed to do the same thing the rest of us do: grow up and learn. I try not to hold people's youthful mistakes against them unless they really invite it by being aggressively moralistic about others. Trump is no ordinary candidate, of course, yet for all his faults, he hasn't made his own virtue a hallmark of his campaign.

Finally, you don't have to dig up decades-old stories of shameful behavior to make the point that Donnie is a crummy human being. He makes that point for us every day, in ways that shock and appall us. Yet I can loathe him without holding him to a higher standard than I do everyone else.

Was Donnie a crummy human being when he was young? The evidence I've seen suggests he was. Yet that's not nearly as important to me as the daily parade of unedited video that tells us he still is.

So while it may feel great to pile more and more of his past on Donnie's orange head, it doesn't lend luster to Rachel Maddow or MSNBC to pile on with this story.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The resident-alienated threat

In "Trump's Rigged Game", Atlantic senior editor Yoni Appelbaum quoted a Trump voter (via a Boston Globe article) who said, among other things, that if Hillary Clinton wins the election, "I hope we can start a coup." He continued,
"We’re going to have a revolution and take them out of office if that’s what it takes. There’s going to be a lot of bloodshed. But that’s what it's going to take. . . . I would do whatever I can for my country."
Another Trump supporter (again, quoted by Appelbaum from the Globe piece) said,
"We don’t have a voice anymore, and Donald Trump is giving us a voice."
If Trump voters are worried about the resident aliens, legal and illegal, the rest of us are worried about the resident-alienated — those citizens who feel totally powerless against the tide of economic, social and demographic upheaval. They think "we" are out to get them, and only Trump stands in the way.

My first reaction is that they picked a hell of a standard bearer in Donnie: they couldn't have designed a more perfectly repellent candidate if they'd tried.

As for alienation, having been an outsider in a lot of respects for my entire life, I kind of understand how they feel. It's not easy being on the outside, feeling like the in-crowd is laughing at you. You've got to hide the things you think will make you a target for bullying. In civic life, things get even worse: bullies at school can't do much about your core beliefs. But the power of the government can, or so you might think. I have no patience with what's called the assault on religious rights (I think it's a bogus victimization pose) but I don't doubt some well-meaning people buy into the rhetoric.

Between the hysterical ravings of fringe far-right media and Donnie himself, these people are aggrieved and feel like their backs are against the wall. They're desperate, whether or not they have a real reason to feel that way. And they've so completely bought into the idea that The Whole System Is Crooked, why would they hesitate to destroy it?

Desperate, aggrieved, and not recognizing that they have a stake in society, these folks are primed and ready to do some damage if the right spark comes along. The election, particularly if it's a squeaker that nevertheless ultimately results in a Clinton victory, might be that spark.

Frankly, that first fellow, the one who prophesies bloodshed, reminds me of Timothy McVeigh and other mass killers — seething over unpunished injustices, convinced he has nothing to lose by killing a whole bunch of people in the name of retaking "his" country.

I don't know what it's going to take to get it through these people's thick skulls that the rest of us are trying as best we can to make this country better and that we don't hate them (though our patience has worn thin). But if Hillary wins, her first job — or rather, Obama's last before leaving office — may be to contain the damage these thoroughly alienated residents do in their fury and frustration.

They no longer accept that they're bound by the norms of our democratic process.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Principle or party

Alert emergency rooms across the country: some elected Republicans must be feeling whiplash, so quickly have they reversed themselves with respect to their party's presidential nominee.

This past weekend, these politicians distanced themselves from Teh Donald over that Access Hollywood video. Now, they're proclaiming their intention to vote for him.

They're bending in their party's political wind, and it's blowing fiercely in favor of Teh Donald. But why?

When I think of Republican voters, I think of "values voters". There's a reason the Moral Majority hewed very closely to the GOP. Highly religious voters lean heavily Republican.

How do these deeply principled, religiously devout people stay with Donnie?

It will seem strange to say this, but I hope it's because they genuinely see Hillary Clinton as the devil's handmaiden, capable of bottomless evil. That mindset is the only one that could justify their loyalty to Donnie.

The alternative is that they see politics as a blood sport, and they're all about "our guy, right or wrong". Party over principle. As nihilistic and destructive an attitude toward governance as is possible.

If that's where we are in our politics, this country is screwed.

So yes, I hope Donnie's voters think Hillary is the embodiment of evil, as terrible as that mindset is, because the alternative is just too grim to consider.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Even when apologizing, Trump lies

Teh Donald's candid (and crude) comments about women a decade ago are causing his campaign enough headaches that he has been forced to apologize for them. It was, unsurprisingly, one of those contemptible "if anyone was offended" non-apologies. Yet that wasn't the worst part of it. Even in his pseudo-apology, Donnie couldn't help throwing in a barefaced lie.
"Anyone who knows me knows these words don't reflect who I am."
I've never met the man (and hope I never do), but let's state the obvious: we all know him. We know his views on women well enough to know that his words in that decade-old videotape emphatically do reflect who he is and how he thinks.

Donnie has repeatedly and very publicly shat on women he doesn't like. The roster includes Rosie O'Donnell, Carly Fiorina, Megyn Kelly, and Alicia Machado, and they're just the ones that come to mind without a Web search. The AP interviewed insiders on Donnie's former TV show, The Apprentice, who recounted his sexist and demeaning treatment of female contestants.

So yeah, Donnie, you lied. The words in that video do reflect who you are.

[UPDATE: I misidentified one of the women Trump has denigrated. It was not Meg Whitman, but Carly Fiorina. I've corrected that in the original text.

Also, I said that Teh Donald gave a typical non-apology apology. This is partially true: his first response, on Friday, did indeed include the weasel words, "if anyone was offended". However, his video apology on Saturday included the straightforward, "I apologize". Still too little, too late, but at least he didn't repeat his smarmy mistake of Friday.]

Thursday, October 6, 2016

The safe target

Amid the uproar over a certain far-right pundit's protegé's racist TV segment focused on Chinese Americans, I reflect that it must be a profound relief to that pundit and his audience that they can still smugly mock somebody in this great nation and not feel any meaningful blowback.

I mean, let's face it: prejudice against Them Yellow People simply doesn't get people rioting in the streets or instigating damaging boycotts or otherwise threatening the livelihoods and reputations of the bigots.

So rejoice, white racists: while you will get your asses handed to you if you go after the niggers, kikes, spics, faggots, and cunts, you can still piss on the chinks, gooks, and slants to your little hearts' content.

Gotta start somewhere to make this country great again, huh?