nationalism

An American Lamentation (Two by “Huh?”)

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks to supporters in Everett, Washington, 30 August 2016. (Detail of frame via YouTube)

Americans often lament the fact of their essentially two-party political league, and the top of the Libertarian ticket, Gary Johnson, is capable of providing spectacular reminders of why we tend toward the binary. The former New Mexico governor and middle-tier celebrity stoner has managed to reduce a human atrocity to yet another icon of American stupidity, which really is no good legacy to build. Yet it is true, in the American discourse, “Aleppo” is … well, Matthew Kitchen tries to explain for NBC News:

Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson struggled to name a single foreign leader when asked who his favorite was during an MSNBC town hall Wednesday night.

“Any one of the continents, any country. Name one foreign leader that your respect and look up to. Anybody,” host Chris Matthews pushed during the event, causing Johnson to sigh loudly as his VP pick Bill Weld tried to jump in.

“I guess I’m having an Aleppo moment,” Johnson finally said, referring to his recent gaffe on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” when he asked “What is Aleppo?” after he was questioned about how he would handle the conflict in the Syrian city.

So, yeah. Aleppo is … Gary Johnson being inexcusably stupid. (Look, dude, I mean, you’re, like, running for president, you know, like, aren’t you?)

And then there is Donald Trump.

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The Deplorable Basket (Scary Mexican Mix)

Marco Gutierrez, founder of Latinos for Trump, explains to 'All In' host Joy Reid what is wrong with Latinos: "My culture is a very dominant culture. And it's imposing, and it's causing problems. If you don't do something about it, you're going to have taco trucks every corner." (via msnbc, 1 September 2016)

“For what it’s worth, I have no idea why that’s supposed to sound scary.”

Steve Benen

It is, of course, easy enough to wonder why more taco trucks would be a bad thing; it is also easy enough to remember that Marco Gutierrez of Latinos for Trump supports a Republican, and heaven knows the one thing Republicans can’t tolerate is the prospect of safe taco trucks. Perhaps Mr. Gutierrez thinks Mexicans are really into deregulation, or something.

JOY REID: Marco, you know, I’ve heard this Trump moment described as a “Barry Goldwater moment”, which is of course the tipping point when African-Americans became so identified with the Democratic Party that it essentially became almost impossible for Republicans to win more than ten percent of them. I’ve heard it described as a “Prop 187 moment”, when the California law that went after undocumented migrants there really harmed the Republican Party―it’s never recovered. Are you not at all concerned that Donald Trump is so alienating people with his tone last night, that yelling into the prompter speech, and just the tone toward undocumented migrants, toward immigrants in this c‎ountry, that you are now facing a Barry Goldwater moment for your Party?

MARCO GUTIERREZ: Yes, but, you know, Donald Trump’s a genius of delivering the message, and yes, it was a tough message to deliver, but he did it in a way that has shown us that we have a problem, and the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few; and different times, different problems. Yes, indeed, there’s a lot of people―my colleague, here, he would not be here―but we need to understand that this is a different time and we’re having problems here.

REID: What problems? What problems are you talking about?

GUTIERREZ: My culture is a very dominant culture. And it’s imposing, and it’s causing problems. If you don’t do something about it, you’re going to have taco trucks every corner.​

(msnbc)

There is always at least one. There is an Alan Keyes or, more recently, Ben Carson. There is a Wendy McElroy or Janet Bloomfield. That is to say, there will always be someone who will serve the marketplace by advertising why we should be afraid of them. Or, if not them, others like them. See, we’re not supposed to be afraid of Marco Gutierrez, because he’s telling white people the truth about Mexicans, which in turn is that Mexicans are terrible people, or at the very least, “a dominant culture” that is “imposing” and “causing problems”, or something approximately like that. Marco Gutierrez found a job telling white supremacists what they want to hear about hispanics. Just like Janet Bloomfield will tell rapists what they want to hear about women. I know a guy like Mr. Gutierrez, a registered and participating Republican, a man of Mexican descent who worked hard and bootstrapped and scrimped and saved and got himself a career as an optometrist in the midwest and became a respectable person, not like that army of invading Mexicans he tells me I should be afraid of. Then again, it’s not just hispanics he hates; he also has a thing against blacks. He’s the Republican who once explained to me that Obamanoia was really just a policy discussion, and if the president wasn’t so terrible, all these wonderful, unracist, good, decent American people wouldn’t be forced to say racist-sounding things.

No, seriously, something about deplorable goes here.

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The Donald Trump Show (Dehumanization)

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks to supporters in Everett, Washington, 30 August 2016. (Detail of frame via YouTube)

“In this election, it shouldn’t be hard to figure out who believes in humanity and who is subhuman.”

Jonathan Allen

So … yeah. Jonathan Allen has something to say:

It can be hard to tell how Donald Trump thinks. The man switches directions with all the forethought of a cat chasing a flashlight spot.

For days, Trump’s top campaign aides seemed to be making pronouncements based on what they hoped he’d say about immigration in Phoenix on Wednesday night, not out of any real knowledge of his plans. He then proceeded to make anyone who had said anything about what he’d do―including himself―look foolish.

In talking about immigrants, he offered everyone a Windexed view of his blackened soul and the morally bankrupt way he thinks about people.

Ouch. Damn.

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The Donald Trump Show (Death Wish Double Trouble Super Fun Follow-Up Sequel Pak)

Brook, the jolly Humming Pirate who also happens to be a skeleton with an afro. (Detail of frame from 'Shonen Jump One Piece'.)

“He’s a death’s-head jester cackling on the edge of the void, the clownish host of one last celebration of America’s bombast, bigotry and spectacular ignorance.”

Andrew O’Hehir

Sometimes the setup requires a bit of seemingly otherwise useless melodrama; and sometimes that seemingly otherwise useless melodrama―your buzzword for the week is, well, okay, two words: “October surprise”―works well enough to address certain otherwise seemingly obvious questions somehow obscured by a hazy addiction to synthesized melodrama. Or, more to the point:

We can’t be sure how many people really support Trump, [Thomas B.] Edsall reports, since there’s considerable evidence that they aren’t telling pollsters the truth. Voting for Trump, it appears, is something white people do in the shadows. It’s a forbidden desire that is both liberating and self-destructive, not unlike the married heterosexual who has a same-sex lover on the down-low, or the executive who powers through the day on crystal meth and OxyContin. Donald Trump speaks during the 2016 Republican Jewish Coalition Presidential Candidates Forum (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)On some level you know the whole thing can’t end well, but boy does it feel good right now.

I have argued on multiple occasions that white Americans, considered in the aggregate, exhibit signs of an unconscious or semi-conscious death wish. I mean that both in the Freudian sense of a longing for release that is both erotic and self-destructive―the intermingling of Eros and Thanatos―and in a more straightforward sense. Consider the prevalence of guns in American society, the epidemic rates of suicide and obesity (which might be called slow-motion suicide) among low-income whites, the widespread willingness to ignore or deny climate science and the deeply rooted tendency of the white working class to vote against its own interests and empower those who have impoverished it. What other term can encompass all that?

Trump is the living embodiment of that contradictory desire for redemption and destruction. His incoherent speeches wander back and forth between those two poles, from infantile fantasies about forcing Mexico to build an $8 billion wall and rampant anti-Muslim paranoia to unfocused panegyrics about how “great” we will be one day and how much we will “win.” In his abundant vigor and ebullience and cloddish, mean-spirited good humor, Trump may seem like the opposite of the death wish. (He would certainly be insulted by any such suggestion. Wrong! Bad!) But everything he promises is impossible, and his supporters are not quite dumb enough not to see that. He’s a death’s-head jester cackling on the edge of the void, the clownish host of one last celebration of America’s bombast, bigotry and spectacular ignorance. No wonder his voters are reluctant to ‘fess up.

(O’Hehir)

Nor is this a matter of making the obvious point; with Americans, it’s all in how you say it.

I mean, sure, we can all see it, but explaining the mess is a whole ‘nother thing.

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Image notes: Top ― Brook, the jolly Humming Pirate. (Detail of frame from Shonen Jump One Piece.) Right ― Donald Trump speaks during the 2016 Republican Jewish Coalition Presidential Candidates Forum (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images).

O’Hehir, Andrew. “Appetite for destruction: White America’s death wish is the source of Trump’s hidden support”. Salon. 11 May 2016.

The Donald Trump Show (The International)

Activists of Hindu Sena or Hindu Army conduct hindu rituals to ensure a win for U.S presidential candidate Donald Trump in New Delhi, India, Wednesday, 11 May 2016. The activists said that Trump will be a better choice when it came to dealing with terrorism most of which, they alleged, was masterminded by followers of Islam. (AP Photo/Saurabh Das)

This is very nearly amusing:

Donald Trump may find it tough to get Republican leaders behind his campaign, but he’s got some faraway fans trying to get the gods on his side.

Around a dozen members of a right-wing Indian Hindu group lit a ritual fire and chanted mantras Wednesday asking the Hindu gods to help Trump win the U.S. presidential election.

While Trump has dominated the Republican primary race to decide the party’s candidate for the November election, his calls for temporarily banning Muslims from America and cracking down on extremist groups abroad have earned him some fans in India.

“The whole world is screaming against Islamic terrorism, and even India is not safe from it,” said Vishnu Gupta, founder of the Hindu Sena nationalist group. “Only Donald Trump can save humanity.”

(Associated Press)

Once upon a time, a Britishman explained to me, with that weary edge of patience that stands for English anger, that if I wasn’t British I had no right to opine on what went on in Northern Ireland. Then again, neither am I an Irishman, so what the hell ever. And if we need a beeblebrox it does well enough to remind that we are, in fact, the United States of America, and when we are part of the most powerful and accomplished empire in the history of the human species we don’t really have the luxury of telling other people to keep their opinions of our affairs to themselves.

Even such, you know. Whatever. Not all of us are so nationalistically sensitized as to take offense at something like this.

Nonetheless, it seems worth recalling that after the 9/11 atrocity some Americans were in a bad enough mood to beat Sikhs, Hindus, and even a Jew, as I recall, because they couldn’t tell the difference. Furthermore, we might also observe that these elements persist a decade and a half later and, moreover, are among those President Trump would bring to bear.

To that end, yes, it is very nearly amusing to see right-wing Hindus cheering on the crowd that would stomp them into the pavement for being too Muslim.

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Image note: Activists of Hindu Sena or Hindu Army conduct hindu rituals to ensure a win for U.S presidential candidate Donald Trump in New Delhi, India, Wednesday, 11 May 2016. The activists said that Trump will be a better choice when it came to dealing with terrorism most of which, they alleged, was masterminded by followers of Islam. (AP Photo/Saurabh Das)

Associated Press. “Divine intervention? Indian Hindus ask gods to help Trump”. 11 May 2016.

The Donald Trump Show (Tears for Fears)

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump looks at a sheet of notes and talking points as he speaks during a rally in Eugene, Oregon, 6 May 2016. (Photo by Ted S. Warren/AP)

The Donald Trump phenomenon is admittedly a depressing spectacle to witness. Then again, not all of that sucking of souls is entirely on the candidate; a vampiric press must also answer; sometimes instead of simply toddling back and forth in search of sound bite, it seems useful to mark thresholds and declare an issue, well, if not over, then at least sufficiently defined:

Anthony Scaramucci, a New York financier who recently backed Trump, told Fox News that the real estate mogul’s reluctance is due to “the complication of the return, the fact that he’s under an audit, he feels that he doesn’t want to give out that information to the general public and have a whole nightmare situation with opposition research trying to pick holes through the return.”

(Trudo)

Consider, please, that the argument put forth by a surrogate is essentially that the GOP frontrunner and presumptive nominee is afraid.

Yes, really:

“… he feels that he doesn’t want to give out that information to the general public and have a whole nightmare situation with opposition research trying to pick holes through the return.”

Such are the dangers of surrogacy: Mr. Trump apparently does not want to release his tax returns because he is afraid to answer for what is in them.

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The Donald Trump Show (Denial)

Donald Trump speaks at the John Wayne Museum, in Winterset, Iowa, 19 January 2016. (Detail of undated photo by Tannen Maury/epa/Corbis.)

A note from last month:

Last week, presidential candidate Donald Trump caused a minor stir by retweeting someone with the Twitter handle @whitegenocideTM, which some saw as making explicit the connection between Trump and American white supremacists. But that’s just one data point, right? A one-off thing that could have been an intern’s mistake? Unfortunately, no: the data shows that 62 percent of the accounts Trump has retweeted recently have white-supremacist connections.

Marshall Kirkpatrick, of social-media analytics company Little Bird, took a look at the 21 people the Donald has blessed with his fantastic, luxurious retweets this week, and discovered that six of them follow major white-nationalist accounts, and 13 of them follow multiple accounts that have used the #whitegenocide hashtag.

Conclusion? “It turns out that Donald Trump mostly retweets white supremacists saying nice things about him.”

(Hathaway)

This is not surprising.

Unfortunately, that point comes with something of a sickening explanation.

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The Smarmy Face That Will From This Day Forth Haunt Your Sleep

Ted Cruz. (Detail of cartoon by Lalo Alcaraz, via Daily Kos Comics, 2 February 2016.)Two notes here:

• Most obvious punch line ever.

• Favorite Ted Cruz caricature ever.

And when you wake in cold sweat sometime between three and dawn, utter a prayer of thanks unto Lalo Alcaraz.

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Image note: Ted Cruz wins Iowa ― Detail of cartoon by Lalo Alcaraz, via Daily Kos, 2 February 2016.

A Tumble Down the Clown Hole

Donald Trump speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference [CPAC], 6 March 2014, at National Harbor, Maryland. (Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

“It seems that with the arrival of a bullshit artist like Trump, bullshit has wholly conquered the Republican party. Which is not to say that that Republicans haven’t been duplicitous for a long time, which they have. But this dishonesty has become more and more blatant, as if they’ve come to realize that their base is either too ignorant to realize or too angry to care.”

Conor Lynch

The only thing that feels weird about that quote is the nagging feeling that it really isn’t a bunch of words wasted repeating the obvious. Because it’s like a bartender metaphor: Sounds like everybody’s problem, buddy. Except if it really was everybody’s problem, why would nobody be doing anything about it? If we run ’round the cycle enough times, the whole thing about civilization and suicide pacts starts to assert itself without actually saying anything.

But if for a moment it seems Conor Lynch is telling us something we already know, the next question is why it still plays in Peoria. Proverbially. Or, you know, maybe even literally. Because clearly this isn’t common knowledge, yet. Or else, perhaps it is, but it’s just not everybody’s problem.

Seriously, there will come a point at which we must entertain the proposition that the jaw-dropping insanity, at least, is what people want. But even that would spill over with a manner of cognitive dissonance. Chaos is as chaos does, but chaos also reflects its constraints. There is a reason this insanity and chaos plays, and that really should be a problem.

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Image note: Donald Trump speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference [CPAC], 6 March 2014, at National Harbor, Maryland. (Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Lynch, Conor. “Rise of the GOP bullsh***ers: How the electoral process has been overwhelmed by lies & untruths”. Salon. 14 December 2015.

Incomplete

Detail of frame from Serial Experiments Lain

The headline above John A. Tures’ blog entry for Huffington Post might seem definitive: “Experienced Republicans Are Losing, Because GOP Primary Voters Are Less Experienced”. But the subsequent paragraphs do not support the statement, at least not in that context.

25 years of political experience didn’t seem to matter to GOP primary voters this year. They appear more enamored with the likes of businessmen Donald Trump and Dr. Ben Carson, neither of which either served a day in political office, or even ran for office prior to this year. Last week, Perry found himself with one percent of the vote in a CNN poll, well behind the front-runners Donald Trump (32 percent) and Dr. Ben Carson (21 percent).

Huffington PostIn fact, Perry had never polled as high as two percent in any GOP primary survey nationwide. He fared poorly in Iowa, according to Qunnipiac University’s polling. And he’s doing worse in New Hampshire, in the NBC News/Marist Poll.

Huffington Post politics editors Paige Lavender and Mollie Reilly cited gaffes from the 2012 Republican election primary, as well as anemic fundraising. But Perry is hardly alone. Experienced GOP candidates across the board are suffering, failing to even notch double-digits in the polls, while politically inexperienced candidates like Trump, Carson, and Carly Fiorina alone make up more than 50 percent of the polls, outnumbering the other 14 Republican candidates combined. Inexperienced candidates are getting six times as many votes and experienced candidates.

Is the party that touted the political experience of their own candidates in the past (Nixon, Goldwater, Ford, Reagan, Bush Sr., Dole, Bush Jr. and McCain) suddenly not valuing the political experience of a candidate? If so, why?

Unfortunately, that portion of the setup is a little less than half the entry. The point is not to denounce the article or author for apparent failure; rather, we might remain hopeful and continue to tune in.

You know. We hope.

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