presidential candidate

The Suicide Pact as a Political Argument

#PutiPoodle | #WhatTheyVotedFor

Contemplation of Justice

This is an interesting starting point:

If the Justice Department and the FBI knowingly used an unreliably biased witness to win a FISA warrant against Carter Page, violating his civil liberties in the process, you would therefore expect that there are some judges on the FISC who are concerned. They, after all, are the ones who were misled. They are the ones who signed warrants and renewals based on shoddy information. Conversely, if the judges on the FISC are not hopping mad, you might take that as evidence that they don’t, in fact, feel misled and that the Justice Department and FBI conduct was, after all, reasonably within the obligations of lawyers and investigators before the court.

(Wittes)

One particularly difficult aspect of the #TrumpRussia scandal is the manner in which the context of dispute overshadows history itself. It is telling, in comparison, that Democrats have come to defend and advocate the individual mandate, but also that Republicans and conservatives turned on their own idea; at some point, we ought to take the note about insincerity. It has, for years, also been true that a liberal political relationship to law enforcement is fraught, to say the least; but it is also true that conservatives have simultaneously drummed up tough law-and-order talk while relying more and more on conspiracy theories denigrating and defaming law enforcement institutions. Naturally, the allegedly liberal party finds itself defending the law enforcement agency and agent that, to the one, undertook irregular actions wrecking the Democratic presidential candidate, and that alone ought to be boggling. To the other, if we set aside Donald Trump for a moment, the FBI is also the agency that reviews its own duty-related killings, and has found itself to be perfect, something like a hundred fifty out of a hundred fifty. Given a day in court to indict all the sleazy tactics of a powerfully effective eugenic “drug war” any liberal would find the FBI in line to defend the necessity of allowing law enforcement to behave that way. Yet the spectacle continues apace, with Republicans hollering until they wheeze and Democrats breathlessly defending one of the most controversial law enforcement agencies on the planet. Without this extraordinary, self-inflicted presidential scandal requiring our priority, what is up with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, anyway? Federal law enforcement is still law enforcement.

Just as Democrats finding themselves rallying to defend the individual mandate ought to be significant of something about how we reached this point, or Jade Helm leaving liberals to consider posturing an ostensible general defense of the American military; or, if we can remember back to 2009, the conservative roll from patriotism and the indignity of protesting against the president to the patriotic necessity of threatening the president with firearms; or, hey, we might consider decades of conservative conspiracism including the National Rifle Association, and then wonder whether it will be law enforcement or the military confiscating the guns; so, too, might we wonder at the trend of conservatives behaving so badly that others need to do their jobs for them.

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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 Marco Rubio Show (In Not Of)

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, heads to the Senate floor for a vote on July 9, 2014. (Photo by Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

“Yes, I’ve worked in the Senate for four years. But I’m not of the Senate.”

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)

Presidential candidate and, by the way, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) wants people to know that despite being a career politician, he’s not really a career politician.

No, there is not any rule that says you must be surprised. Just like there isn’t any rule regarding Mr. Rubio and wariness about trying to pull a threadbare rhetorical sleight like that; it’s pretty much what career politicians do.

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Image note:Photo by Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call.

Leary, Alex. “Rubio: ‘I’m not of the Senate'”. Tampa Bay Times. 30 September 2015.

The Donald Trump Show (Bully)

Donald Trump

While it is true that we find ourselves caught in a sadomasochistic conundrum having to do with the desire to neither suffer nor inflict upon others any real consideration of Donald Trump, the fact is that he is the Republican presidential frontrunner and nobody really understands why. Then again, perhaps part of our confusion is a seemingly contradictory, perhaps paradoxical need for some pretense of civility. That is to say, “Republicans are idiots”, or, “Conservatives are assholes”, just doesn’t suffice.

Jesse Singal of New York magazine’s Science of Us blog opens with the obvious statement: “It is clear at this point that Donald Trump acts more like a bully than a ‘traditional’ presidential candidate.”

And then there are those of us who wonder what part of being a Republican in the twenty-first century doesn’t involve a bully cult.

Part of what’s been strange about the trajectory of the campaign so far is that Trump hasn’t been punished, in any real sense, for engaging in the sort of behavior that almost everyone agrees is terrible in any setting. Yes, each gross incident is followed by a wave of denunciations, but they don’t seem to have an impact — if anything, Trump seems to be gaining popularity by bullying. Science of UsHe’s now the first GOP candidate to break 30 percent in the polls. Even non-supporters — the media very much included — seem more transfixed than indignant.

This isn’t an unusual dynamic in many real-world bullying settings. So examining Trump’s behavior through the lens of bullying research can offer up some insights into how he has been so successful so far, and why his rivals have been unable to knock him down a peg. Jaana Juvonen, a psychologist at UCLA who is the co-author of a recent literature review and an upcoming book chapter about bullying, said that Trump seems to tick many of the requisite boxes when it comes to how bullies act. “Not that bullies are a uniform, homogeneous group, but the sort of classic bully is one who is narcissistic, is after power, often charismatic, and therefore popular,” she said. Check, check, check, and check. But she said there’s an “important and interesting” distinction between being popular and being liked — many bullies may have high status in that their classmates rate them as popular, Juvonen explained, but when individual students are asked if they’d like to spend time with the bully, they respond with resounding nos. This dynamic might help explain some of the personnel shuffling and general chaos that went on in the early days of Trump’s campaign.

To the one, there isn’t anything particularly new about the analysis; the Trump effect remains mysterious. In the end, it is easy enough to find oneself still wondering why so many people admire bullies.

Nonetheless, and setting Mr. Trump aside for a moment―for a lifetime, if we could―we might consider part of the bully phenomenon in and of itself:

“They feel like they’re going to be the next target,” Juvonen said of bystanders and victims in bullying situations. “They don’t want to further risk their status or make themselves more vulnerable, so they know to stay quiet. But then the bully has further promoted his status, because nobody is now publicly coming out to say, ‘Wait a minute, this is not right what you’re doing’ … that’s why you need a coalition, you need a united force.” As of yet, that united force hasn’t quite emerged in the GOP primary. The bully is still shoving and screaming his way across the playground, and the teachers are nowhere in sight.

Practicality is one thing, but let’s face it: There really isn’t a bad time to stand up to bullies. If The Donald can take that away from us, we have nobody to blame but ourselves.

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Image note: Donald Trump shows an angry face, in undated, uncredited photograph.

Singal, Jesse. “An Expert on Bullying Explains Donald Trump’s Mean, Consequence-Free Rise”. Science of Us. 10 September 2015.

Justice

People celebrate inside the Stonewall Inn, an iconic gay bar recently granted historic landmark status, after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled same-sex couples have the right to marry in all 50 states. (Yana Paskova/Getty Images)

Today.

This is our honor.

• There is, of course, the decision itself: Obergefell v. Hodges (14-556)

• Or perhaps a headline: “Gay Marriage Supporters Win Supreme Court Victory”

• The author: “Kennedy: The Gay Marriage Justice”

• Another headline, this one somewhat overstated: “Texas Pastor Says He Will Set Himself On Fire In Protest Over Gay Marriage”

• Dissents or temper tantrums? “‘Ask the nearest hippie’: The conservative SCOTUS justices’ opinions on marriage equality are hilariously bitter”

• And why not ask a hippie? “We Asked the Nearest Hippie About Scalia: It Was David Crosby”

• Unfit for duty: “To avoid marrying gay couples, some Alabama counties have stopped marrying everyone”

• GOP presidential timber, part one: “Constitutional Remedies to a Lawless Supreme Court”

• Fifty-four years, cookie dough, and Stonewall celebrations: “From Ice Cream To Ian McKellen: Reactions To Same-Sex Marriage Ruling”

• GOP presidential timber, part two: “Jindal: ‘Let’s just get rid of the court'”

• GOP presidential timber, part three: “Scott Walker calls for Constitutional amendment to let states define marriage”

• What a real President of the United States sounds like: “Remarks by the President on the Supreme Court Decision on Marriage Equality”

I would at this time raise a glass to homophobic traditionalists from Sea to Shining Sea; without your dedicated, horrifying zeal, we might never have come this far. Indeed, your own cruelty and hatred shepherded this day.

Drink up, dreamers of hatred and supremacism; you’re running dry.

Then again, we also know you’re nowhere near finished, at least in your own minds. We’re here. We will hold the line. We know you’re targeting children, now, and we will hold the line.

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Image note: People celebrate inside the Stonewall Inn, an iconic gay bar recently granted historic landmark status, after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled same-sex couples have the right to marry in all 50 states. (Yana Paskova/Getty Images)