December 31, 2016

Privileged old white guy comes to the defense of white privilege

“Very few commentators will tell you that the heart of liberalism in America today is based on race,” O'Reilly said. “It permeates almost every issue. That white men have set up a system of oppression. ... So-called white privilege bad. Diversity good.”

The irony is that O'Reilly's entire argument is an explicit defense of white privilege.
Race and party are tightly intertwined. The priorities of the parties reflect their membership, and therefore talking about partisan opposition often overlaps with talking about racial tension. That also means that defenses of the power of Republican voters overlap with defenses of the power of white voters.

Another way to frame O'Reilly's central premise is this: In the face of a diversifying American population, should protections be maintained that continue to support the political dominance of white people? A lot of white people, including O'Reilly, would say yes. A lot of nonwhite people would presumably say no.

On Jan. 20, the power structure of the federal government will be dominated by the Republican Party. The new establishment will be more white, will be acting on behalf of a heavily white party and will be less inclined to answer the preceding question in the negative. Nonwhite voters preferred Clinton and white voters preferred Trump (generally, though not universally).

It's the preference of the latter group that carried the day — and O'Reilly's entire argument is that it deserved to.

Bill O’Reilly rose to the defense of white privilege in America’s presidential voting process

December 27, 2016

Yes, yes he could

Blair says the worry isn’t necessarily that a single Trump Tweet might alone unleash nuclear catastrophe, but rather that one could very well exacerbate an already-existing situation in far worse ways than otherwise might have happened. Which, when you think about it, isn’t a particularly reassuring distinction.

“Almost any threat could be perceived as warranting some sort of response that’s not only rhetorical, but operational,” Blair tells me. In a reference to Soviet leader Lenoid Brezhnev, Blair added: “Brezhnev in 1973 threatened to intervene in the Arab-Israeli conflict. That triggered the United States under Nixon to respond by going on nuclear alert. We went to Defcon 3. Words and threats have consequences in the nuclear operations world, and can instigate a cycle of escalation that spins out of control.”

All this could be made a lot worse if Trump goes through with conducting “nuclear diplomacy by Twitter,” Blair said.

And so, whatever Trump’s actual intentions for our nuclear arsenal and the future of international disarmament efforts, his willingness to use Twitter to posture and chest-thump around nuclear matters should itself stir urgent concern. This will be particularly true if it holds over into situations involving escalating tensions.

In fact, one thing that Trump and his advisers should be pressed to answer right now is whether Trump will put his Twitter feed on ice in such situations. Given what we’ve seen from Trump thus far, there’s simply no reason to assume that he will be so inclined.
 Could Trump help unleash nuclear catastrophe with a single tweet?

December 22, 2016

Is Donald Trump a Threat to Democracy?

American democracy is not in imminent danger of collapse. If ordinary circumstances prevail, our institutions will most likely muddle through a Trump presidency. It is less clear, however, how democracy would fare in a crisis. In the event of a war, a major terrorist attack or large-scale riots or protests — all of which are entirely possible — a president with authoritarian tendencies and institutions that have come unmoored could pose a serious threat to American democracy. We must be vigilant. The warning signs are real.
 Is Donald Trump a Threat to Democracy?

A Former Apprentice Producer Responds to Donald Trump Being Elected President

Did we think this clown, this buffoon with the funny hair, would ever become a world leader? Not once. Ever. Would he and his bombastic nature dominate in prime-time TV? We hoped so. Now that the lines of fiction and reality have blurred to the horrifying extent that they have, those involved in the media must have their day of reckoning. People are buying our crap.

There’s a larger issue at hand: non-fiction or “reality” television has obviously become a huge force in shaping the minds of the populace. The Apprentice contributed to that. People lapped up what the producers were putting out, and the danger became real as news directors, desperate to compete with ratings, started putting music under soft news stories. Facebook started pushing altogether fake news. Opinions on Twitter became truths over lies. People were prone to clickbait no matter how salacious or factually questionable it was, and the entire journalism world turned on its head.

At the very same time, some clever producers were putting forth a manufactured story about a billionaire whose empire was, in actuality, crumbling at the very same time he took the job, the salary, and ownership rights to do a reality show. The Apprentice was a scam put forth to the public in exchange for ratings. We were “entertaining,” and the story about Donald Trump and his stature fell into some bizarre public record as “truth.” This is nothing new, and the impact it’s having on the history of the world is best depicted in the Academy Award-winning film Network, a satire.

Tom Wolfe’s The Bonfire of the Vanities tried to outwit the headlines, but things have gone completely off the rails now with regard to how storytellers have to work double time just to keep up with the awful and true antics of Kanye West, the separating HGTV home-makeover couple, and our president-elect. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Supermarket tabloids are being thrust from the podiums of congressmen and Supreme Court justices. Smart people are playing dumb. And now it’s pretty safe to say that the man behind the curtain, Vladimir Putin, and his merry band of hackers, has done a decent job of playing puppet master doing a Jedi mind trick on the world so that he and Exxon Mobil could strike deals that would make them and the other 1 percent more rich and powerful than they already are.

So it’s more than just about lewd, lascivious behavior, and narcissism on set. It’s about a complex global system that uses the media to construct its allies and to sway the populace to move like lemmings toward the ballot box. We are masterful storytellers and we did our job well. What’s shocking to me is how quickly and decisively the world bought it. Did we think this clown, this buffoon with the funny hair, would ever become a world leader? Not once. Ever. Would he and his bombastic nature dominate in prime-time TV? We hoped so. Now that the lines of fiction and reality have blurred to the horrifying extent that they have, those involved in the media must have their day of reckoning. People are buying our crap. Make it entertaining, yes. But make it real. Give them the truth or pay the consequences.

I hope you appreciate where I’m coming from. My “Tweet Throat” moment when I suggested to the news media that someone unlock the recorded behavior found on The Apprentice tapes helped summon a bevy of stories about “what really went on” behind the scenes of that series. That story’s been told. What hasn’t been told (as much) is how complicit the media and social-media outlets have been in getting us to where we are now.

December 17, 2016

Trump reality - Behind the Smoke Screen: What Reality-TV Veterans Think of Donald Trump’s Presidency

 “As a reality television producer, the situation is extra horrifying.”

He has created a character based on aspects of himself, but it’s a character. And citizens believe that character is capable, and it’s just frightening, because it’s a character.”

Though Jenkins had this behind-the-scenes intel, not even he could have predicted that the American people would vote a grandstanding reality-TV character into the presidency.

“I wish that I was that insightful and could have predicted that [voter] response,” Jenkins says. “I personally did have a pit in my stomach [during the election], because I think that we sometimes forget the enormous reach of celebrity and fame. And unfortunately, on his game show, he was presented or perceived as a competent, articulate business man.”



Such is democracy

The electoral college is also remarkably misleading. All the verbiage in each day’s newspapers—about the suddenly discovered white working man; the self-flagellation of Democrats; the confident assertion by Republicans that people want the past eight years sent down the memory hole, A.S.A.P.—is based on the erroneous premise that more people voted Republican than Democratic last month. By and large, Democrats have been good sports about how the electoral college turned their success into failure. But there is no rule or tradition or custom that requires anyone to pretend that Donald Trump “won” the election, or to forget who did.

 The electoral college is not democratic

The great divide

The New York Times doesn't get religion, and own it.

New York Times editor

The swamp is overflowing

Journalists should be rewarded for calling out bulls*** on Donald Trump's team, Trevor Noah declared last night.

The Daily Show host revealed that he is introducing 'Crapcatcher Awards'. 
These, he announced, will be awarded to journalists who push back against the outrageous statements made by Trump's supporters.

A drunk is a drunk, but the person who encourages him to drive? That's an a**hole.

'And Trump has a lot of a**holes around him.' 

December 10, 2016

Five minutes with Trump

At this point, we should know to expect that each day will bring some new fresh hell regarding how President Trump deems it acceptable to interact with his constituents. Still, it’s more than a little chilling to watch him prepare to run the government like he's the second coming of Tony Soprano and Trump Tower is the Bada Bing.
 Five minutes 

December 4, 2016

In the never ending series of - don't wish too hard, you might get what you want

Donald Trump won the Electoral College (though not the popular vote) on the strength of overwhelming support from working-class whites, who feel left behind by a changing economy and society. And they’re about to get their reward — the same reward that, throughout Mr. Trump’s career, has come to everyone who trusted his good intentions. Think Trump University.

Yes, the white working class is about to be betrayed.
 Seduced and betrayed by Donald Trump 

December 3, 2016

Finally, Trump Explained

Do you remember “50 First Dates”? It was a Drew Barrymore movie about a woman with short-term amnesia who wakes up every morning with no memory whatsoever of the day that went before.
I am thinking it’s the perfect Donald Trump analogy.

In the past, I’ve always presumed that when Trump completely changed his position on health care or the Mexican wall or nuclear weapons in Japan, it was due to craven political opportunism. But it’s much more calming to work under the assumption that he doesn’t remember anything that happened before this morning.
Think about it next time you hear him bragging about his big margin of victory. “We won in a landslide. That was a landslide,” he told a crowd in Ohio on Thursday. It was perhaps the first time in history that a candidate used those terms after receiving 2.5 million votes fewer than his competitor.

It’s stupendously irritating, unless you work under the assumption that he no longer recalls the real story.
This week, Trump was on a victory lap in Indiana, where United Technologies just agreed to keep about 1,000 jobs at a Carrier gas-furnace factory that had been slated to be moved to Mexico. Trump had repeatedly vowed to save the Carrier jobs during the campaign, and even though there is no reason to believe this will have any effect whatsoever on other jobs in other factories, it seemed like a nice symbolic win.

But during his remarks to his ebullient fans, Trump cheerfully explained that he had no memory whatsoever of having promised to protect the Carrier workers. Until he heard it on TV.
Trump told the folks in Indiana that he had been watching the news one night last week and saw a feature in which a Carrier worker said he was not worried about the company’s plans to move his job to Mexico because Donald Trump had promised to save it.

“I said, ‘I wonder if he’s being sarcastic, because this ship has sailed.’”
But no, Trump said that he then watched a clip of Donald Trump the candidate, “and he made the statement that Carrier’s not going anywhere, they’re not leaving.”


He is just like Leonard, the hero of the movie “Memento,” who had to tattoo the clues to a murder on his arm because he couldn’t remember anything. Although Leonard made way more effort.

I am not the only person trying to come up with an overarching explanation for Trump’s failure to keep a constant position, but I think I’ve got the most flattering theory.

Former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski told a postelection panel this week that the media’s negative response to his candidate’s constantly switching stories was due to an insistence on taking him “so literally.”

American voters, Lewandowski continued, understood “that sometimes, when you have a conversation with people, whether it’s around the dinner table or at a bar, you’re going to say things, and sometimes you don’t have all the facts to back it up.”

Some of you may find it disturbing that one of Trump’s chief apologists was basically saying that he talks policy like a drunk at happy hour. Some of you may hear Trump constantly contradicting today what he said yesterday and decide he’s an idiot.

From now on I’m going to try to think of him as a little bit like my dog, Frieda. Frieda is extremely intelligent, but her memory is only good for about 90 seconds.

Trump Explained