patriotism

The Avoidance of Stupidity (McConnell Mix)

#SomethingTerrific | #WhatTheyVotedFor

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY; left), walks with President-elect Donald Trump at the U.S. Capitol for a meeting, 10 November 2016, in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

This ought to be a striking note from Axios:

Senate Republicans are working to finish their draft health care bill, but have no plans to publicly release it, according to two senior Senate GOP aides.

“We aren’t stupid,” said one of the aides.

Then again, this is the twenty-first century, and these are Congressional Republicans.

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A Canonical Quote: Goldman on Patriotism

#trumpswindle | #resist

“For surely it is not the rich who contribute to patriotism. They are cosmopolitans, perfectly at home in every land. We in America know well the truth of this. Are not our rich Americans Frenchmen in France, Germans in Germany, or Englishmen in England? And do they not squander with cosmopolitan grace fortunes coined by American factory children and cotton slaves? Yes, theirs is the patriotism that will make it possible to send messages of condolence to a despot like the Russian Tsar, when any mishap befalls him.”

Emma Goldman

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Goldman, Emma. “Patriotism: A Menace to Liberty”. Anarchism and Other Essays. New York & London: Mother Earth Publishing Association. 1911.

The Scaredy Scare (#truthscare rising)

#ScaredyScare | #WhatTheyVotedFor

President Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump): "The FBI is totally unable to stop the national security 'leakers' that have permeated our government for a long time. They can't even find the leakers within the FBI itself. Classified information is being given to media that could have a devastating effect on U.S. FIND NOW" (via Twitter, 24 February 2017)

It would seem ironic if, in the end, Republicans managed to make “patriot” the new “communist”. More than political irony, though, the strangeness of the Trump White House is such that we really cannot afford to skip the part that wonders if perhaps the president’s latest twitshit tantrum really does intend its darker implication.

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Suggestive of a Problem (Righteous Rebel Remix)

Glenn Beck, circa 2016, via Twitter.

Sometimes I think it really is just about action-hero fantasies imagining some good reason to kill people.

Glenn Beck’s radio program has been suspended from its SiriusXM simulcast after Beck described the election of Donald Trump as a “possible extinction-level event for capitalism” during an interview with a guest who suggested that a “patriot” will then need to “step up” and “remove him from office.”

During Wednesday’s “Glenn Beck Radio Program,” guest and conservative fiction author Brad Thor said he “guarantees” that the presumptive Republican presidential nominee would temporarily suspend the Constitution if elected president, calling the controversial candidate a “danger to America.”

“This could bring down incredible heat on me because I’m about to suggest something very bad―it is a hypothetical I’m going to ask as a thriller writer,” Thor said. “With the feckless, spineless Congress we have, who will stand in the way of Donald Trump overstepping his constitutional authority as President? If Congress won’t remove him from office, what patriot will step up and do that? If―if―he overstates his constitutionally-granted authority I should say as president, if he oversteps that, how do we get him out of office? I don’t think there is a legal means available. I think it will be a terrible, terrible position the American people will be in to get Trump out of office, because you won’t be able to do it through Congress.”

Instead of following up on Thor’s remark about Trump’s “removal” from office, Beck simply said he agreed before going on to say that he believed the economy would “reset” and decline “even if Jesus were in office.”

(Tesfaye)

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Not the Worst Thing Budweiser Has Ever Done, But Still

→ "Canned Patriotism: Uh-oh. Budweiser is changing its name to AMERICA for the summer. (Actually owned by foreign company.) How far we've fallen―from grand experiment to brand experiment." ← (Detail of cartoon by Jen Sorensen, via Daily Kos Comics, 24 May 2016.)It is my regret to advise that Jen Sorensen is actually not joking. Well, not about that part, at least, but what’s a cartoonist to do?

Sadly, though, no, it’s not a joke. InBev is actually doing this:

The America labels are only going on 12-ounce bottles and 12-ounce cans, said Nick Mills, general manager at the Baldwinsville brewery. Other sizes―such as 24- and 16-ounce cans―will be in patriotically-themed case boxes and packages, but will not be labeled as America.

“We do summer patriotic packages every year,” he said, noting past labels and artwork that featured the Stars and Stripes or the Statue of Liberty. “This one seems to be getting more attention.”

It has raised eyebrows from those who question the use of the word “America” by a brewer not based in the United States. A-B InBev was formed in 2008 when InBev, itself a merger of Belgian and Brazilian brewing interests, acquired Anheuser-Busch in a $50 billion takeover. A-B had been founded in 1876 in St. Louis, which remains its U.S. headquarters.

(Cazentre)

Certes, ’tis unspeakably crass, but let’s face it, this is hardly the worst thing “America’s Rape Brewery”™ has ever done. Generally speaking, Budweiser ought to be disqualified from being “America’s beer”.

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Image note Detail of cartoon by Jen Sorensen, via Daily Kos Comics, 24 May 2016

Cazentre, Don. “‘America’ rolls off the bottling line at Upstate NY’s Budweiser plant”. Syracuse.com. 25 May 2016.

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 One About the Guy Waving the Confederate Flag and Wanting to Arrest a U.S. Senator for Treason

Jon Ritzheimer at a 2015 pro-Confederate flag demonstration.  (Photo: Miriam Wasser/Phoenix New Times)

It’s just one of those little things you file away for future reference. Hanna Hess of Roll Call mulls militia mutterings in Michigan:

Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) speaks after a vote on legislation for funding the Department of Homeland Security on Capitol Hill in Washington March 2, 2015.  (Reuters/Joshua Roberts)If Jon Ritzheimer travels to Michigan trying to arrest Sen. Debbie Stabenow for treason because of her support for the Iran nuclear deal, he may find a line of volunteer militia men guarding the Michigan Democrat.

“This is wrong. It sounds like mob rule to me,” said Lou Vondette, of the Southeast Michigan Volunteer Militia, one of the oldest active militias in the state. “We have no idea what this guy has on his mind,” Vondette said in a phone interview. The threats sound “just as terrifying to [us], as to anyone reading the story.”

Additionally, Mr. Vondette told Roll Call he had been in communication with several other Michigan militia groups and, “We know of no militia in Michigan that is participating in these actions”. He also rebuked out-of-state influences that would claim association.

Jon Ritzheimer, meanwhile, is an Arizona activist with something approaching terrible luck; his imitation “Draw Muhammad” protest was a bust compared to the counterprotest; calling himself an “Oathkeeper”, Mr. Ritzheimer’s latest scheme for attention is to threaten to arrest Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), claiming her support for the P5+1 nuclear accord with Iran constitutes some manner of treason. Judging by Ms. Hess’ earlier report on the desperate menace―

Jon Ritzheimer, the Arizona resident who reportedly attracted FBI attention when he organized an anti-Muslim protest rally and “draw Muhammad” cartoon contest at a Phoenix mosque, shared his plan to organize with fellow U.S. Marines in an open letter posted online Monday.

“We are planning on arresting Senator Debbie Stabenow, who voted yes to the Iran Nuke Deal. She will be arrested for treason under Article 3 Section 3 of the Constitution,” states the letter. “We have chosen her as our first target due to our strong ties with the Michigan State Militia and their lax gun laws that will allow us to operate in a manner necessary for an operation like this.”

Ritzheimer, 31, claims that after successfully detaining the Michigan Democrat, he and his armed militia “will continue to move across the country and arrest everyone involved with the Iran Nuke Deal” including the president.

―we need not wonder why the militias in the Great Lakes State want nothing to do with him.

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Image notes: Top ― Jon Ritzheimer at a 2015 pro-Confederate flag demonstration. (Photo: Miriam Wasser/Phoenix New Times) Left ― Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) speaks after a vote on legislation for funding the Department of Homeland Security on Capitol Hill in Washington March 2, 2015. (Reuters/Joshua Roberts)

Hess, Hannah. “Militia Organizer Threatens to Arrest Stabenow Over Iran Deal”. Roll Call. 22 September 2015.

—————. “Michigan Militia Group Disavows Threat to Stabenow”. Roll Call. 23 September 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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The Tale of Those Who Left

In southern Brazil, there still exists remnants of the American Confederacy. Each April, the Descendants of American Southerners don hoop skirts and the grey uniform to celebrate their shared history. Thousands of Southerners migrated to Central and South America after finding themselves on the losing side of the war and their relatives are called Confederados. (Photo by Paulo Whitaker/Reuters, 2015)

This seems worth mentioning:

Every April, the Fraternidade Descendencia Americana gather in the south of Brazil to celebrate a strange and incongruous shared history. “Stonewall Jackson’s Way” is piped out of speakers, chicken is fried, and girls in hoop skirts dance to old Dixie tunes. Men in Rebel-gray uniforms with yellow trim browse dozens of stands of Confederate memorabilia. The Confederados, as they’re known, are the descendants of Americans who fled after losing the Civil War. Now, 150 years later and 5,000 miles away, they continue to gather under the banner of the Stars and Bars to pay homage to their ancestry.

The setting for this festival is Santa Barbara d’Oeste, which abuts a 200,000-person municipality called Americana. It’s there that a long-forgotten enclave of Confederate descendants rebuilt their lives in the years after the War between the States. At a time when the Confederate flag has sparked tension and protests anew across the United States, this small community in South America still celebrates its controversial history with a fervor.

(Strohlic)

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The Price of Freedom

Detail of frame from FLCL episode 2, 'Firestarter'.

Live free and die? Oh, wrong state.

A Calais man was killed Saturday night after placing a fireworks mortar tube atop his head and setting it off, according to Maine State Police. It was the first fireworks-related death in Maine since fireworks were legalized in 2012.

Police said the bizarre incident occurred at roughly 10 p.m. in a residential backyard on South Street. Devon Staples, 22, was setting off fireworks with some friends when he “placed the fireworks mortar tube on top of his head and set it off,” the investigation found.

Investigators said the explosion caused a fatal head injury, and Staples died instantly.

(Anderson)

This is why people stick with the simple act of offering condolences. Because, you know, what is anyone supposed to do with that sad tale?

And it is true there is certain dark and morbid humor; many of us appreciate at least the idea of the Darwin Awards, but in the end we are laughing at human tragedy. Or, rather, that we are laughing at some particular absurdity within that tragic context does not erase the fact of human tragedy.

To the one, for instance, we have a dead man, and it is a safe bet that someone, somewhere in the world, misses him.

To the other, we have this dude who tried to launch a mortar off his head and died. What the hell is anyone supposed to do with that?

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Anderson, J. Craig. “Calais man dies after setting off fireworks from atop his head”. Portland Press Herald. 5 July 2015.