"The central doctrine of Christianity, then, is not that God is a bastard. It is, in the words of the late Dominican theologian Herbert McCabe, that if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you."--Terry Eagleton

"It is impossible for me to say in my book one word about all that music has meant in my life. How then can I hope to be understood?--Ludwig Wittgenstein

“The opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice."--Bryan Stevenson

Wednesday, August 16, 2017


No, it's not his "base" Trump was thinking of on Tuesday, and he wasn't trying to appeal to them.  Trump is a true believer, just like his friend and advisor, Steve Bannon:

On Tuesday night, while Gary Cohn was fuming about President Trump's latest comments, Steve Bannon was excitedly telling friends and associates that the "globalists" were in mass freakout mode.

Today, Bannon reveled in the disbanding of the president's business council, seeing this as yet more evidence that the Trump administration is at odds with the "Davos crowd," as Bannon often calls these corporate elites, in a voice dripping with contempt.

Bannon saw Trump's now-infamous Tuesday afternoon press conference not as the lowest point in his presidency, but as a "defining moment," where Trump decided to fully abandon the "globalists" and side with "his people."

Per a source with knowledge: "Steve was proud of how [Trump] stood up to the braying mob of reporters" in the Tuesday press conference.

You can't slip a piece of paper between them now:

Bottom line: Both Trump and Bannon are of one mind, and, within the White House at least, theirs is a minority view. They saw the backlash to Charlottesville as an example of political correctness run amok and instinctively searched for "their" people in that group of protesters. Bannon has told associates that Trump, on Tuesday afternoon, took it to the next level for the country by asking where does it end? He especially loved Trump's line: "I wonder, is it George Washington next week?" 

And Bannon thinks this is a winner for him:

“The Democrats,” he said, “the longer they talk about identity politics, I got ’em. I want them to talk about racism every day. If the left is focused on race and identity, and we go with economic nationalism, we can crush the Democrats.”

Of course, "economic nationalism" doesn't mean much if you can't get anything passed into law.  As there is no evidence either Trump or Bannon know how to do that, I think focussing on race and identity is going to fill up the vacuum left by a complete lack of legislative accomplishment.

No matter; Bannon is a super-political genius, a legend in his own mind:

“We, our booking team—and they’re good—reached out Republicans of all stripes across the country today,” [Fox News' Shep] Smith said. “Let’s be honest, Republicans don’t really mind coming on Fox News channel, we couldn’t get anyone to come and defend him here, because we thought in balance somebody should do that”

“We worked very hard it throughout the day, and we were unsuccessful,” he added.
Ya kinda need those people to take any action of "economic nationalism."  Talking about vanquishing your White House enemies really won't get you very far:

“You might think from recent press accounts that Steve Bannon is on the ropes and therefore behaving prudently. In the aftermath of events in Charlottesville, he is widely blamed for his boss’s continuing indulgence of white supremacists,” Kuttner explained. “But Bannon was in high spirits when he phoned me Tuesday afternoon to discuss the politics of taking a harder line with China, and minced no words describing his efforts to neutralize his rivals at the Departments of Defense, State, and Treasury.”

Then again, that depends on where you're trying to go:

 Good news for President Donald Trump. There is one former presidential candidate standing with him today.” Jake Tapper said during his opening monologue on Wednesday’s installment of The Lead. “The bad news is, it’s David Duke.”

“Today, former presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush issued a statement condemning racial bigotry, anti-Semitism and hatred,” Tapper said. “They were joined by the chiefs of staff of the Army, the Navy, the Marine Corps, the Air Force and the National Guard.”

“We have freedoms in the country so klansmen and Nazis, they can think their ugly thoughts and spew their hideous words and they have the right to peacefully assemble,” Tapper said. “But to act as if these defeated, intellectually destitute, pathetic ideologies and people have any moral standing as they rally to intimidate and vomit forth their treasonous filth, it is not only immoral, it’s unpatriotic. It’s un-American.”
A point ex-CIA director Brennan made, in a note to Wolf Blitzer, who lost his grandparents in the Holocaust:

“I just want to extend my sympathies not only for their deaths but also to you and your family–and countless others–for the pain inflicted today by the despicable words of Donald Trump. Mr. Trump’s words, and the beliefs they reflect, are a national disgrace, and all Americans of conscience need to repudiate his ugly and dangerous comments,” Brennan wrote.

“If allowed to continue along this senseless path, Mr. Trump will do lasting harm to American society and to our standing in the world,” Brennan predicted. “By his words and his actions, Mr. Trump is putting our national security and our collective futures at grave risk.”

Yup; race and identity; who really cares about that?

Bannon and Trump love having enemies to vanquish.  They think it means they're winning.  This is the correct answer to John Judis's question of why Trump hasn't moved to the center to govern.  Trump isn't interested in governing.  Trump is only interested in being Trump, and driving his enemies before him, and listening to the lamentations of their women.  Is this, as Judis suspects, Trump's second childhood?

I don't think Trump ever left his first one.

"If not for those meddling kids!"

So, a couple of things.  One, why do we keep expecting Jared and Ivanka to save us from Trump?

When that failed to quell the controversy, aides, including Mr. Trump’s new chief of staff, John F. Kelly, pressed him to make another public statement. Mr. Trump’s daughter Ivanka and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, urged him to take a more moderate stance, according to two people familiar with the situation. But as with so many other critical moments in Mr. Trump’s presidency, the two were on vacation, this time in Vermont.

When haven't Jared and Ivanka been on vacation when they were expected to urge Trump "to take a more moderate stance"?  She sent out a tweet denouncing racism and white supremacy, which is about as effective as she's ever been.  She allegedly tried to get Trump to stay in the Paris Accords on climate change.


And then there's Steve Bannon:

White House chief strategist Steve Bannon was reportedly “thrilled” and “proud” after President Donald Trump’s comments Tuesday that not everyone who attended a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend was worthy of condemnation.

Because, of course he was.  But does anyone think that if Ivanka had been in Trump Tower that day, or Bannon had been back at Breitbart (the voice for the 'alt-right,' in Bannon's own words.  If the President needs a definition of the term, he need look no further), that Trump wouldn't still have let his id off the leash in public?

Maybe we can get rid of Bannon.  But it won't make any difference until we get rid of Trump.

So, what is "white"?

"Is Sophia Vergara White?" is still the most visited post on this blog (I'm still not sure it isn't just for the picture).  So, is the guy in the picture white?  He says not:

“I’m not even f*cking white, so how am I a superior race?” he asked rhetorically. “I’m Spanish, listen: ‘Puerto Ricano.'”

Do people from Spain recognize Puerto Ricans as "Spanish"?  Do they recognize themselves as white?

By the way, this guy marched with the KKK in Charlotesville and bragged about beating up a black teenager.  So whatever he is, he's certainly a racist.

But is he white?

Oh, these problems of categories.....

'Consider your verdict!"

'Consider your verdict,' the King said to the jury.
'Not yet, not yet!' the Rabbit hastily interrupted. 'There's a great deal to come before that!'

It went all but unnoticed yesterday that the President of the United States, the man who administers the Justice Department of the United States, said this:

 Well, I think the driver of the car is a disgrace to himself, his family, and this country. And that is — you can call it terrorism. You can call it murder. You can call it whatever you want. I would just call it as “the fastest one to come up with a good verdict.” That’s what I’d call it. Because there is a question: Is it murder? Is it terrorism? And then you get into legal semantics. The driver of the car is a murderer. And what he did was a horrible, horrible, inexcusable thing.

The "legal semantics" there don't turn on the question of whether the death of Heather Heyers was a crime of murder or of terrorism; the only legal issue the President was addressing was the presumption of innocence.  Because he pronounced the driver of the car guilty.  He called for a fair trial, and then we hang him.  He became a character from a Lewis Carroll novel.

And nobody noticed.

Today, the Washington Post said this:

“That car in Charlottesville did not kill or wound just the 20 bodies it struck. It damaged the nation. Mr. Trump not only failed to help the country heal; he made the wound wider and deeper.”

The post also said Trump's remarks in the press conference yesterday marked “great day for [former Ku Klux Klan leader] David Duke and racists everywhere.”

“The president of the United States all but declared that he has their backs.”

So what does Trump do today?

Not sure how Amazon not paying sales taxes is hurting jobs in America, but the more salient question is:  what did Amazon do to Trump?

Three guesses, first two don't count.

This is so far beyond "Nixonesque" you can't even see Nixon in the rear-view mirror anymore.

Yeah, that never really happened....

Ever seen a cat fall off a table, leap up, and then walk away with feigned indifference that says "I meant to do that!"

In humans it looks something like this:*

Mostly because this tweet from yesterday is still up:

And the appropriate reaction is something like this:
*Not, after all, so fast.  Which came first, the tweet, or the news report?

CEOs on President Trump's top outside business-advisory group decided Wednesday to disband amid the tumult over his response to this weekend's white-nationalist violence in Charlottesville, top business sources tell Axios.

Answer:  the news report.   Cats still have more dignity than the POTUS.

Burning down the house

We aren't even arguing over the price anymore:

No word in the Trump lexicon is as tread-worn as “unprecedented.” But members of the president’s staff, stunned and disheartened, said they never expected to hear such a voluble articulation of opinions that the president had long expressed in private. National Economic Council Chairman Gary Cohn and Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin, who are Jewish, stood by uncomfortably as the president exacerbated a controversy that has once again engulfed a White House in disarray. [emphasis added]

John Kelly is frustrated?  Why doesn't he quit?  Steven Mnuchin is uncomfortable?  Why is he still in this Administration?  "If you support the racist, you are the racist."  There really isn't any other way to see it.  This wasn't Trump slipping the traces of respectability and surprising everyone with what he said.  The only surprise was:  he finally said it in public.

You can no longer deny the man's positions, his ideas, his thoughts.  This is no longer a question of "what's really in his heart."  We all know what's there.  He made it plain yesterday.

And as long as you stand with him, you agree with him.

(and, as Keith Olbermann points out, when two corporations take a more moral stance on racism and white supremacy than the POTUS, it's time to question the POTUS'a worthiness for high office.)

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

"My God! It's full of ego!"

White; well-dressed; how could they be bad?

It's so much worse than I thought:

Q Mr. President, why do you think these CEOs are leaving your manufacturing council?

THE PRESIDENT: Because they’re not taking their job seriously as it pertains to this country. And we want jobs, manufacturing in this country. If you look at some of those people that you’re talking about they’re outside of the country, they’re having a lot of their product made outsider. If you look at Merck as an example, take a look where — excuse me, excuse me — take a look at where their product is made. It’s made outside of our country. We want products made in the country.

Now, I have to tell you, some of the folks that will leave, they’re leaving out of embarrassment because they make their products outside. And I’ve been lecturing them, including the gentleman that you’re referring to, about you have to bring it back to this country. You can’t do it necessarily in Ireland and all of these other places. You have to bring this work back to this country. That’s what I want. I want manufacturing to be back into the United States so that American workers can benefit.

Q Let me ask you, Mr. President, why did you wait so long to blast neo-Nazis?

THE PRESIDENT: I didn’t wait long.

Q You waited two days —

THE PRESIDENT: I didn’t wait long.

Q Forty-eight hours.

THE PRESIDENT: I wanted to make sure, unlike most politicians, that what I said was correct — not make a quick statement. The statement I made on Saturday, the first statement, was a fine statement. But you don’t make statements that direct unless you know the facts. It takes a little while to get the facts. You still don’t know the facts. And it’s a very, very important process to me, and it’s a very important statement.

So I don’t want to go quickly and just make a statement for the sake of making a political statement. I want to know the facts. If you go back to —

Q So you had to (inaudible) white supremacists?

THE PRESIDENT: I brought it. I brought it. I brought it.

Q Was it terrorism, in your opinion, what happened?

THE PRESIDENT: As I said on — remember, Saturday — we condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence. It has no place in America. And then it went on from there.

Now, here’s the thing —

Q (Inaudible) many sides.

THE PRESIDENT: Excuse me. Excuse me. Take it nice and easy. Here’s the thing: When I make a statement, I like to be correct. I want the facts. This event just happened. In fact, a lot of the event didn’t even happen yet, as we were speaking. This event just happened.

Before I make a statement, I need the facts. So I don’t want to rush into a statement. So making the statement when I made it was excellent. In fact, the young woman, who I hear was a fantastic young woman, and it was on NBC — her mother wrote me and said through, I guess, Twitter, social media, the nicest things. And I very much appreciated that. I hear she was a fine — really, actually, an incredible young woman. But her mother, on Twitter, thanked me for what I said.

And honestly, if the press were not fake, and if it was honest, the press would have said what I said was very nice. But unlike you, and unlike — excuse me, unlike you and unlike the media, before I make a statement, I like to know the facts.

Q Why do Nazis like you — (inaudible) — these statements?

THE PRESIDENT: They don’t. They don’t.

Q They do. Look —


THE PRESIDENT: How about a couple of infrastructure questions.

Q Was it terrorism, that event? Was that terrorism?

Q The CEO of Walmart said you missed a critical opportunity —

THE PRESIDENT: Say it. What?

Q The CEO of Walmart said you missed a critical opportunity to help bring the country together. Did

THE PRESIDENT: Not at all. I think the country — look, you take a look. I’ve created over a million jobs since I’m President. The country is booming. The stock market is setting records. We have the highest employment numbers we’ve ever had in the history of our country. We’re doing record business. We have the highest levels of enthusiasm. So the head of Walmart, who I know — who’s a very nice guy — was making a political statement. I mean —

Q (Inaudible.)

THE PRESIDENT: I’d do it the same way. And you know why? Because I want to make sure, when I make a statement, that the statement is correct. And there was no way — there was no way of making a correct statement that early. I had to see the facts, unlike a lot of reporters. Unlike a lot of reporters —

Q Nazis were there.

Q David Duke was there.

THE PRESIDENT: I didn’t know David Duke was there. I wanted to see the facts. And the facts, as they started coming out, were very well stated. In fact, everybody said, “His statement was beautiful. If he would have made it sooner, that would have been good.” I couldn’t have made it sooner because I didn’t know all of the facts. Frankly, people still don’t know all of the facts.

It was very important — excuse me, excuse me — it was very important to me to get the facts out and correctly. Because if I would have made a fast statement — and the first statement was made without knowing much, other than what we were seeing. The second statement was made after, with knowledge, with great knowledge. There are still things — excuse me — there are still things that people don’t know.

I want to make a statement with knowledge. I wanted to know the facts.

Q Two questions. Was this terrorism? And can you tell us how you’re feeling about your chief strategist, Stephen Bannon?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think the driver of the car is a disgrace to himself, his family, and this country. And that is — you can call it terrorism. You can call it murder. You can call it whatever you want. I would just call it as “the fastest one to come up with a good verdict.” That’s what I’d call it. Because there is a question: Is it murder? Is it terrorism? And then you get into legal semantics. The driver of the car is a murderer. And what he did was a horrible, horrible, inexcusable thing.

Q Can you tell us how you’re feeling about your chief strategist, Mr. Bannon? Can you talk about that?


Q I would echo Maggie’s question. Steve Bannon has come under —

THE PRESIDENT: I never spoke to Mr. Bannon about it.

Q Can you tell us broadly what your — do you still have confidence in Steve?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, we’ll see. Look, look — I like Mr. Bannon. He’s a friend of mine. But Mr. Bannon came on very late. You know that. I went through 17 senators, governors, and I won all the primaries. Mr. Bannon came on very much later than that. And I like him, he’s a good man. He is not a racist, I can tell you that. He’s a good person. He actually gets very unfair press in that regard. But we’ll see what happens with Mr. Bannon. But he’s a good person, and I think the press treats him, frankly, very unfairly.

Q Senator McCain has called on you to defend your National Security Advisor, H.R. McMaster, against these attacks.

THE PRESIDENT: I did it the last time.

Q And he called on it again, linking —

THE PRESIDENT: Senator McCain?

Q — to the alt-right, and saying —

THE PRESIDENT: Senator McCain?

Q Yes.

THE PRESIDENT: You mean the one who voted against Obamacare?

Q And he said —

THE PRESIDENT: Who is — you mean Senator McCain who voted against us getting good healthcare?

Q Senator McCain said that the alt-right is behind these attacks, and he linked that same group to those who perpetrated the attack in Charlottesville.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I don’t know. I can’t tell you. I’m sure Senator McCain must know what he’s talking about. But when you say the alt-right, define alt-right to me. You define it. Go ahead.

Q Well, I’m saying, as Senator —

THE PRESIDENT: No, define it for me. Come on, let’s go. Define it for me.

Q Senator McCain defined them as the same group —

THE PRESIDENT: Okay, what about the alt-left that came charging at — excuse me, what about the alt-left that came charging at the, as you say, the alt-right? Do they have any semblance of guilt?

Let me ask you this: What about the fact that they came charging with clubs in their hands, swinging clubs? Do they have any problem? I think they do. As far as I’m concerned, that was a horrible, horrible day.

Q You’re not putting these —

THE PRESIDENT: Wait a minute. I’m not finished. I’m not finished, fake news. That was a horrible day —

Q Sir, you’re not putting these protestors on the same level as neo-Nazis —

Q Is the alt-left as bad as white supremacy?

THE PRESIDENT: I will tell you something. I watched those very closely — much more closely than you people watched it. And you have — you had a group on one side that was bad, and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent. You had a group — you had a group on the other side that came charging in, without a permit, and they were very, very violent.

Q Is the alt-left as bad as Nazis? Are they as bad as Nazis?


Q Do you think that what you call the alt-left is the same as neo-Nazis?

THE PRESIDENT: Those people — all of those people –excuse me, I’ve condemned neo-Nazis. I’ve condemned many different groups. But not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch. Those people were also there because they wanted to protest the taking down of a statue of Robert E. Lee.

Q Should that statue be taken down?

THE PRESIDENT: Excuse me. If you take a look at some of the groups, and you see — and you’d know it if you were honest reporters, which in many cases you’re not — but many of those people were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee.

People protesting taking down a statue.  "You will not replace us" means...the statue?

So this week it’s Robert E. Lee. I noticed that Stonewall Jackson is coming down. I wonder, is it George Washington next week? And is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You know, you really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop?

But they were there to protest — excuse me, if you take a look, the night before they were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee.

Infrastructure question. Go ahead.

Q Should the statues of Robert E. Lee stay up?

THE PRESIDENT: I would say that’s up to a local town, community, or the federal government, depending on where it is located.

Q How concerned are you about race relations in America? And do you think things have gotten worse or better since you took office?

THE PRESIDENT: I think they’ve gotten better or the same. Look, they’ve been frayed for a long time. And you can ask President Obama about that, because he’d make speeches about it. But I believe that the fact that I brought in — it will be soon — millions of jobs — you see where companies are moving back into our country — I think that’s going to have a tremendous, positive impact on race relations.

We have companies coming back into our country. We have two car companies that just announced. We have Foxconn in Wisconsin just announced. We have many companies, I say, pouring back into the country. I think that’s going to have a huge, positive impact on race relations. You know why? It’s jobs. What people want now, they want jobs. They want great jobs with good pay, and when they have that, you watch how race relations will be.

And I’ll tell you, we’re spending a lot of money on the inner cities. We’re fixing the inner cities. We’re doing far more than anybody has done with respect to the inner cities. It’s a priority for me, and it’s very important.

Q Mr. President, are you putting what you’re calling the alt-left and white supremacists on the same moral plane?

THE PRESIDENT: I’m not putting anybody on a moral plane. What I’m saying is this: You had a group on one side and you had a group on the other, and they came at each other with clubs — and it was vicious and it was horrible. And it was a horrible thing to watch.

But there is another side. There was a group on this side. You can call them the left — you just called them the left — that came violently attacking the other group. So you can say what you want, but that’s the way it is.

Q (Inaudible) both sides, sir. You said there was hatred, there was violence on both sides. Are the —

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I think there’s blame on both sides. If you look at both sides — I think there’s blame on both sides. And I have no doubt about it, and you don’t have any doubt about it either.

And if you reported it accurately, you would say.

Q The neo-Nazis started this. They showed up in Charlottesville to protest —

THE PRESIDENT: Excuse me, excuse me. They didn’t put themselves — and you had some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides. You had people in that group.

Q (Inaudible.)

THE PRESIDENT: Excuse me, excuse me. I saw the same pictures as you did.

You had people in that group that were there to protest the taking down of, to them, a very, very important statue and the renaming of a park from Robert E. Lee to another name.

Q George Washington and Robert E. Lee are not the same.

THE PRESIDENT: George Washington was a slave owner. Was George Washington a slave owner? So will George Washington now lose his status? Are we going to take down —

Excuse me, are we going to take down statues to George Washington? How about Thomas Jefferson? What do you think of Thomas Jefferson? You like him?

Q I do love Thomas Jefferson.

THE PRESIDENT: Okay, good. Are we going to take down the statue? Because he was a major slave owner. Now, are we going to take down his statue?

So you know what, it’s fine. You’re changing history. You’re changing culture. And you had people — and I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists — because they should be condemned totally. But you had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists. Okay? And the press has treated them absolutely unfairly.

Now, in the other group also, you had some fine people. But you also had troublemakers, and you see them come with the black outfits and with the helmets, and with the baseball bats. You had a lot of bad people in the other group.

Q Who are the good people?

Q Sir, I just didn’t understand what you were saying. You were saying the press has treated white nationalists unfairly? I just don’t understand what you were saying.

THE PRESIDENT: No, no. There were people in that rally — and I looked the night before — if you look, there were people protesting very quietly the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee. I’m sure in that group there were some bad ones. The following day it looked like they had some rough, bad people — neo-Nazis, white nationalists, whatever you want to call them.

But you had a lot of people in that group that were there to innocently protest, and very legally protest — because I don’t know if you know, they had a permit. The other group didn’t have a permit. So I only tell you this: There are two sides to a story. I thought what took place was a horrible moment for our country — a horrible moment. But there are two sides to the country.

Does anybody have a final —

Q I have an infrastructure question.

THE PRESIDENT: You have an infrastructure —

Q What makes you think you can get an infrastructure bill? You didn’t get healthcare —

THE PRESIDENT: Well, you know, I’ll tell you. We came very close with healthcare. Unfortunately, John McCain decided to vote against it at the last minute. You’ll have to ask John McCain why he did that. But we came very close to healthcare. We will end up getting healthcare. But we’ll get the infrastructure. And actually, infrastructure is something that I think we’ll have bipartisan support on. I actually think Democrats will go along with the infrastructure.

Q Mr. President, have you spoken to the family of the victim of the car attack?

THE PRESIDENT: No, I’ll be reaching out. I’ll be reaching out.

Q When will you be reaching out?

THE PRESIDENT: I thought that the statement put out — the mother’s statement I thought was a beautiful statement. I will tell you, it was something that I really appreciated. I thought it was terrific. And, really, under the kind of stress that she’s under and the heartache that she’s under, I thought putting out that statement, to me, was really something. I won’t forget it.

Thank you, all, very much. Thank you. Thank you.

* * * *

Q Will you go to Charlottesville? Will you go to check out what happened?

THE PRESIDENT: I own a house in Charlottesville. Does anyone know I own a house in Charlottesville?

Q Where is it?

THE PRESIDENT: Oh boy, it’s going to be —

Q Where is it?

THE PRESIDENT: It’s in Charlottesville. You’ll see.

Q Is it a winery or something?

THE PRESIDENT: It is the winery.

I mean, I know a lot about Charlottesville. Charlottesville is a great place that’s been very badly hurt over the last couple of days.

Q (Inaudible.)

THE PRESIDENT: I own, actually, one of the largest wineries in the United States. It’s in Charlottesville.

Q Do you believe your words are helping to heal this country right now?

Q What do you think needs to be done to overcome the racial divides in this country?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think jobs can have a big impact. I think if we continue to create jobs — over a million, substantially more than a million. And you see just the other day, the car companies coming in with Foxconn. I think if we continue to create jobs at levels that I’m creating jobs, I think that’s going to have a tremendous impact — positive impact on race relations.

Q Your remarks today, how do you think that will impact the racial, sort of conflict, today?

THE PRESIDENT: The people are going to be working, they’re going to be making a lot of money — much more money than they ever thought possible. But that’s going to happen.

Q Your remarks today.

THE PRESIDENT: And the other thing — very important — I believe wages will start going up. They haven’t gone up for a long time. I believe wages now — because the economy is doing so well with respect to employment and unemployment, I believe wages will start to go up. I think that will have a tremendously positive impact on race relations.
Just as an exercise, I highlighted every sentence Trump spoke that included the pronoun "I".  Sometimes it's innocuous enough; but the overall effect is that the entire point of this press conference is to talk about Trump, and how good he is, and how important he is, and how praiseworthy and right he is.  The statement from Heather Heyer's mother, for example, whom he cannot name (the mother or the victim) is all about how it affected him.  He really appreciated that someone publicly said something nice about him.  That was really something, and he won't forget it.

It's appalling.

"But you also had troublemakers, and you see them come with the black outfits and with the helmets, and with the baseball bats. You had a lot of bad people in the other group."

Today's Social Studies Quiz: How many statues of Thomas Jefferson are there in the South?

This was just about a statue, too

Well, that didn't take long:

“I have condemned neo-Nazis,” he said. “I have condemned many different groups. But not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists, by any stretch. Those people were also there because they wanted to protest the taking down of a statue, Robert E. Lee.”

“You had people — and I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists, because they should be condemned, totally — but you had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists, okay?” he added. “And the press has treated them absolutely unfairly.”

“Now, in the other group also, you had some fine people, but you also had trouble-makers, and you see them come with the black outfits, and with the helmets, and with the baseball bats,” he said. “You had a lot of bad people in the other group, too.”

“I think the driver of the car is a disgrace to himself, his family and his country,” he said. “You can call it terrorism. You can call it murder. You can call it whatever you want. I would just call it as the fastest one to come up with a good verdict, that’s what I would call it, because there is a question, is it murder, is it terrorism? And then you get into legal semantics. The driver of the car is a murderer. What he did was a horrible, horrible, inexcusable thing.

“I didn’t wait long, I didn’t wait long,” Trump said, responding to reporters’ questions after announcing an executive order in the lobby of Trump Tower. “I wanted to make sure, unlike most politicians, that what I said was correct, not make a quick statement. The statement I made on Saturday, the first statement, was a fine statement, but you don’t make statements that direct unless you know the fact.”

“It takes a little while to get the facts,” he said. “You still don’t know the facts. And it’s a very, very important process to me. And it’s a very important statement. So I don’t want to go quickly and just make a statement for the sake of making a political statement. I want to know the facts.”

He pulled the statement he had made Saturday out of his pocket and re-read it, but left out the part when he said “many sides” were responsible for the weekend’s violence.

“This week it’s Robert E. Lee,” he said. “I noticed that Stonewall Jackson is coming down. I wonder, is it George Washington next week and is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop?”
I like the bit where he edits his own statement.  As someone interviewed on BBC World Service just said, Trump threw kerosene on the fire and then danced around the flames.

At least we know that teleprompter statement was something somebody wrote for him; as if there was any question.

I'm sure Congressional Republicans will be happy to defend Trump's statements.  After all, neo-Nazis and white nationalists should be condemned totally, for sure!  But all those people peacefully carrying torches through the UVA campus Friday night, shouting "Blood and soil!" and "You will not replace us!" were perfectly peaceful in their actions.   After all, who you gonna believe?  The President of the United States, who now says he has the facts, or the students on the UVA campus who were there?

“After this weekend, there should be no excuse for anyone to not take white supremacy seriously,” said History and Government major Weston Gobar. “Certainly the neo-Nazis who came to Charlottesville to intimidate minority communities take themselves seriously: They showed up with assault rifles and guns, wearing camouflage. They marched through a college campus with lit torches, yelling Nazi-era slogans and phrases like, ‘You will not replace us.’”

He continued, “The intention of this ‘alt-right’ rally was clear, and it had nothing to do with a statue. It was about intimidation. We need to call this violence — which culminated with the death of a 32-year-old woman — by it’s name: domestic terrorism.”

Politics and African-American and African Studies major Aryn A Frazier said, “On Friday night, I was locked in a church full of people, who were singing loudly to overpower the hate-filled chants of alt-right protesters carrying torches right outside the chapel doors.”

In spite of her fears, Frazier and her friends got up early on Saturday and joined the swelling ranks of counter-protesters gathering at Emancipation Park.

“It was obviously a very dangerous situation. The news said it. The governor said it when he declared a state of emergency and called in the National Guard. The worried text messages of family and friends said it. And a woman murdered in the street said it,” she said.

Nonetheless, “Each time one of the white supremacists threw a water bottle filled with a purplish chemical I couldn’t identify, or released pepper spray or smoke into the crowd, the counter-protesters retreated. We coughed into surgical masks or scarves and clutched at our throats, but then turned back for more.”

Isabella Ciambotti, a creative writing major, described the scene on Saturday as, “Violence and hate and blood, that’s what I saw. What happened in Charlottesville this past weekend wasn’t a rally. It was a riot.”

“There were absolutely groups of peaceful protesters in Charlottesville this past weekend, many making a mature show of resistance. But what I saw on Market Street didn’t feel like resistance. It felt like every single person letting out his or her own well of fear and frustration on the crowd,” she said.

“At one point, a woman demonstrating with the white supremacists “turned to me, looked me dead in the eye and said, ‘I hope you get raped by a nigger,'” she recounted. “I would hear that line several more times before the end of the day.”

Must have been one of the "bad ones" Trump was talking about.  I'm sure he can identify the "good ones," too.  Eventually.  Besides, it was just about a statue; the President said so.

Actions speak louder than words

You got something to say?

So, on the question of violence in Charlottesville, who showed up with guns and body armor and pepper spray, and who did not?  And what effect did it have on the police response to the protests, and on the "counter-protestors"?

That's the base question behind this excellent article at Slate about how the 2nd Amendment has devoured the First.  As the essay points out, since the Skokie case the Supreme Court has held that public spaces are particularly important to the exercise of free speech.  But since the Heller decision, state laws have allowed people to bring guns to their exercise of free speech, an exercise of their 2nd Amendment rights.  Now, it's true, many states have laws against "brandishing" weapons, but it's a fine line between carrying a gun slung over your shoulder, and "brandishing" that gun.  And in a crowed, the distinction between brandishing and shooting is a moot one because the police officer has to be standing at the elbow of the person "brandishing" in order to keep it from being a shooting.

If you cast your mind back to the standoff in the desert over the Bundy family, there was a reason the government didn't take anyone into custody that day, but has been rounding up people it could identify pointing guns ("brandishing" under the relevant laws, I assume; although I imagine it's a more serious crime the FBI is charging) ever since.  When everybody is armed, you don't throw a lit match on that kerosene-soaked pile of rags.  The same reasoning applies in Charlottesville:  the police response might have led to a slaughter if they had waded into a crowd of armed people and started taking guns away by force, "force" here meaning "at gunpoint."

And how would they prove "brandishing" in the first place?  And how quickly would things have gotten out of hand, escalating from fist fights to gun fights?  And how does your so-called 2nd Amendment right to carry a gun in public (but not "brandish" it or shoot it?) trump my 1st Amendment right to peaceably assemble?  Indeed, how quickly does a "peaceful" assembly turn violent when guns are present?  It's very likely the Charlottesville police decided fisticuffs and pepper spray were less violent than bullets.  In a nutshell:

Nonviolent demonstrators lose their right to assemble and express their ideas because the police are too apprehensive to shield them from violence. The right to bear arms overrides the right to free speech. And when protesters dress like militia members and the police are confused about who is with whom, chaos is inevitable.
And doesn't the right to peaceably assemble include the right not to be intimidated, by the government or anyone else, as you do so?  "Carrying" turns to "brandishing" turns to "shooting" so quickly we can't realistically separate them, anymore than we can separate a driver at the wheel of a car from a driver using that car as a weapon.  Would anyone have objected if police had closed the streets in the area to vehicular traffic, for precisely that issue of public safety and right to peaceful assembly?  Presumably they did, because the killing and injuring with a car occurred some distance from Emancipation Park.

Aside from the driver of that car, 3 people were arrested in Charlottesville; one for misdemeanor assault and battery, one for disorderly conduct, one for carrying a concealed weapon.  Compare that with the running list of people arrested at Occupy Wall Street demonstrations between 2011 and 2014.  I don't remember hearing of anyone carrying weapons on behalf of OWS, which may be why 300 were arrested at one protest in New York City in 2011.  It is more dangerous to the police and the innocent to arrest armed protestors, especially in large numbers.

When the police are literally too afraid of armed protesters to stop a melee, First Amendment values are diminished; discussion is supplanted by disorder and even death, and conversations about “time, place, and manner” seem antiquated and trite.

Gov. McAuliffe said it plainly, in defending the police response:

“It’s easy to criticize, but I can tell you this, 80% of the people here had semiautomatic weapons," McAuliffe said.

“You saw the militia walking down the street, you would have thought they were an army ... I was just talking to the State Police upstairs; [the militia members] had better equipment than our State Police had,” McAuliffe said. “And yet not a shot was fired, zero property damage.” 
It's actually a good thing no shots were fired.  But that's only because one side had the guns, and the other side declined to challenge them because of it.   A well-regulated militia is necessary to the security of the state, the 2nd Amendment says.  A mob of armed people is not a well-regulated militia; and suppressing the speech of others through intimidation is not providing for the security of the state.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Why won't the news fight for Trump's love like his staff does?

I’m in Washington today to meet with my economic team about trade policy and major tax cuts and reform. We are renegotiating trade deals and making them good for the American worker. And it’s about time.

Our economy is now strong. The stock market continues to hit record highs. Unemployment is at a 16-year low and businesses are more optimistic than ever before. Companies are moving back to the United States and bringing many thousands of jobs with them. We have already created over one million jobs since I took office. We will be discussing economic issues in greater detail later this afternoon.

But based on the events that took place over the weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, I would like to provide the nation with an update on the ongoing federal response to the horrific attack and violence that was witnessed by everyone. I just met with F.B.I. Director Christopher Wray, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The Department of Justice has opened a civil rights investigation into the deadly car attack that killed one innocent American and wounded 20 others.

To anyone who acted criminally in this weekend’s racist violence, you will be held fully accountable. Justice will be delivered. As I said on Saturday, we condemn, in the strongest possible terms, this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence. It has no place in America.

And as I have said many times before, no matter the color of our skin, we all live under the same laws. We all salute the same great flag, and we are all made by the same almighty God.

We must love each other, show affection for each other and unite together in condemnation of hatred, bigotry and violence. We must rediscover the bonds of love and loyalty, that bring us together as Americans.

Racism is evil. And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the K.K.K., neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.

Those who spread violence in the name of bigotry strike at the very core of America. Two days ago, a young American woman, Heather Heyer, was tragically killed. Her death fills us with grief and we send her family our thoughts, our prayers and our love.

We also mourn the two Virginia state troopers who died in service to their community, their commonwealth and their country. Troopers Jay Cullen and Berke Bates exemplify the very best of America and our hearts go out to their families, their friends and every member of American law enforcement.

These three fallen Americans embody the goodness and decency of our nation. In times such as these, America has always shown its true character. Responding to hate with love, division with unity and violence with an unwavering resolve for justice.

As a candidate I promised to restore law and order to our country and our federal law enforcement agencies are following through on that pledge. We will spare no resource in fighting so that every American child can grow up free from violence and fear.

We will defend and protect the sacred rights of all Americans, and we will work together so that every citizen in this blessed land is free to follow their dreams, in their hearts, and to express the love and joy in their souls.

Thank you. God bless you, and God bless America. Thank you very much.

Apparently the only bigotry Trump doesn't like is bigotry associated with violence.  He says more about violence than about bigotry, the KKK, Nazis, or white supremacists.  It's not even bigotry he despises, it's "those who spread violence in the name of bigotry."  And "every American" will grow up free from violence and fear; even members of the KKK, Nazis, and white supremacists who show up at a march armed, as Gov. McAuliffe, said, better than the Charlottesville police.  Because the fault is still on "many sides" (notice he doesn't repudiate that language).  Trump doesn't denounce the racists, the Klan members, the Nazis; he denounces violence.  Jim Acosta asked the salient question:

“Mr. President, can you explain why you did not condemn those hate groups by name over the weekend?” CNN’s Jim Acosta asked Trump after a bill signing ceremony at the White House.

“They’ve been condemned,” Trump replied. “They have been condemned.”

For his trouble, Trump called Acosta "Fake News" and walked out of the room.  And I'm reading that transcript and still looking for the condemnation.

I think I'll be waiting a long, long time.

Adding:  or we can just go with Seth Meyers.  Although I disagree about the "partial credit" for Trump's second statement.  It really has no content, only tone; and not much of that.

"And the truth will make you silent...."

Lots of handwringing and tut-tutting and making of distinctions so fine a Jesuit would say "Hey, wait a minute!" and a Thomist scholar would be left bewildered.  Racism is the evil that dare not speak its name:

The Republican Party created Trump. But elected Republicans at the federal level are not Trump. They’re not openly racist (well, with a couple of exceptions of the Steve King-Louie Gohmert variety). They know better these days—or, let’s hope, they actually aren’t that way in their hearts, which I assume most of them aren’t.

What is, actually, the difference between what you say, and what's in your heart?  I suppose we could point to the example of Iago, truly Shakespeare's supreme villain (Lady Macbeth usually gets that accolade because, well:  she's a lady.  Such presumptions aside, the crown must go to the man who say "I am not what I am.")  What's in his heart is not at all what he says; but it is what he does.  This is a very old understanding of human evil.

The heart is devious above all else;
it is perverse--
who can understand it?
I the LORD test the mind
and search the heart,
to give to all according to their ways,
according to the fruit of their doings.

Jeremiah 17:9-10

It is your actions that speak loudest; not what you say you really meant, but didn't actually say.

“I came to this march for the message that white European culture has a right to be here just like every other culture,” [Peter] Cvjetanovic opined. “It is not perfect; there are flaws to it, of course. However I do believe that the replacement of the statue will be the slow replacement of white heritage within the United States and the people who fought and defended and built their homeland. Robert E Lee is a great example of that. He wasn’t a perfect man, but I want to honor and respect what he stood for during his time.”

“I did not expect the photo [of him in Charlottesville, carrying a torch and joining in the primal screaming] to be shared as much as it was,” he noted. “I understand the photo has a very negative connotation. But I hope that the people sharing the photo are willing to listen that I’m not the angry racist they see in that photo.”

Cvjetanovic added: “As a white nationalist, I care for all people. We all deserve a future for our children and for our culture. White nationalists aren’t all hateful; we just want to preserve what we have.”

Because, you know, what you say should trump what you do.  Right, Iago?

“They have no proof that I’m a racist,” [president of Washington State University’s chapter of the College Republicans Richard] Allsup said. “They are slandering me and that I’m racist without evidence because I talk about history and I talk about American politics.”

Well, other than being in that photograph above, from the Charlottesville riots.  Lie down with dogs, get up with fleas, dude.  Something even Michael Tomasky understands:

It’s not enough for them to say, as most of them have since Saturday, that there’s no place in this country for hatred and bigotry. For the record, the most comprehensive list I saw as of Sunday afternoon was compiled by Haaretz, which had 17 GOP senators—including Lindsey Graham, Tom Cotton, Mike Lee, and Rand Paul—saying nothing up to that point.
Yeah, but what's in their hearts?  Isn't that what really matters?

Most of the statements and tweets issued were broad and pretty ambiguous denunciations of hatred and bigotry. John Thune of South Dakota was typical: “The hate and bigotry occurring in #Charlottesville is disgusting and unacceptable to the American people. America is better than this.” Ted Cruz of Texas was a pleasant surprise in that he used the phrase “domestic terrorism.”

But denouncing bigotry is easy for most Republicans, if not for the president. That isn’t what needs denouncing right now. What needs denouncing is white supremacy. What needs denouncing is a White House and a president who goes out of his way to avoid denouncing white supremacy. What needs denouncing is Trump.
I'm almost bemused by the distinction between "bigotry" and "white supremacy."  The latter is almost entirely based in the former.  You can't really be a white supremacist without being a bigot; indeed, one could almost say the former are simply more honest about their aims than the latter.  You know where they stand, where the bigot could be standing at your elbow, smiling and seeming almost wholly acceptable to you.

Kind of like Donald Trump.

We know Trump knows how. When he spoke up against the MS-13 street gang a month ago, he called its members “animals,” said “they butcher those little girls. They kidnap, they extort, they rape and they rob. They prey on children. They shouldn’t be here.” Said that “it is the policy of this administration to dismantle, decimate and eradicate MS-13” and that “one by one, we’re liberating our American towns.”

“I want to hate these muggers and murderers. They should be forced to suffer and, when they kill, they should be executed for their crimes. They must serve as examples so that others will think long and hard before committing a crime or an act of violence.”

And he kicked off his Presidential campaign claiming Mexico was sending criminals and rapists to our country.  There's a common thread there, and it's not the appeal to violence and the fear of violence; not that alone.  The "Central Park Five" were black.  MS-13 and those criminals Mexico is supposedly sending us, are non-white as well.  His words are the words of a bigot.  His appeal is to white supremacy.  Our country is being over-run by violent brown people, and we must defeat them.  Blacks run wild in our cities, and we must make examples of them.  What is the distinction between that language and the language of David Duke in Charlottesville?

“This represents a turning point for the people of this country,” said Duke in video uploaded to Twitter by Indianapolis Star photojournalist Mykal McEldowney. “We are determined to take our country back. We are going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump. That’s what we believed in, that’s why we voted for Donald Trump. Because he said he’s going to take our country back. That’s what we gotta do.”

Take our country back from whom?  The blacks in Central Park, for one.  The criminals and rapists from Mexico.  MS-13; just to name a few.  All of them various shades of not-white.  The kind of people David Duke wants to take our country back from.  As do many of the people who showed up in Virginia with weekend in MAGA caps.  They know what would MAGA, and they were there to shout it.

David Duke is a racist and a white supremacist and a bigot and every other adjective, label, and noun we can apply to him to make him a pariah.  And the distinction between David Duke and Donald Trump is that one of them sits in the Oval Office.

And that makes us wary of even calling him "prejudiced."

Res Ipsa Loquitor

To the post immediately below, more information:

Elon Musk and Bob Iger, CEO of Disney, withdrew from this Council in June.  I can't find any evidence that Trump denounced them on Twitter for their very public actions.

Then again, Musk and Iger are white, and Ken Frazier is black.  And they didn't denounce "hatred, bigotry, and group supremacy, which run counter to the American ideal that all men [sic] are created equal."  Not that they had to, either.  But Mr. Frazier did, and that, or his race, or both, provoked the President's ire.

So many, many sides to this issue.....

"Many Sides"

A lot of people were reportedly making this fashion statement in Charlottesville. has a greater sense of morality than the President of the United States:

The "hate" was an article with this headline:  “Heather Heyer: Woman Killed in Road Rage Incident was a Fat, Childless 32-year Old Slut.”  The man in the Trump gimme cap posted it.

Donald Trump is not a conniving politician trying to appeal to his "base."  He is his "base."  A politician doesn't slam his own Attorney General (who gets back in Trump's good graces by attacking affirmative action).  A politician doesn't attack the Majority Leader of the Senate who is in his own party.  These are stupid actions which are of no benefit at all.  Donald Trump is not a politician.  But Donald Trump is a racist.

His first act of notoriety was being fined for violating the Fair Housing Act, some 40 years ago.  He spent years attacking Barack Obama on the basis of his place of birth, and on his college transcripts (because no way a black man could do that well in the ivy-covered hall of the Ivy League.  No way.).  Yet none dared call it racism, because that is the hate that we dare not name.  Donald Trump once bragged he could shoot a man on Fifth Avenue at high noon and still not lose support.  Donald Trump could shoot Medgar Evers at high noon on Fifth Avenue and still not be labeled a "racist."

Trump didn't surround himself with the likes of Steven Bannon and Stephen Miller and Sebastian "White Supremacists Are Not the Problem" Gorka because he likes drinking with them, or watching CNN with them.  He did it because he agrees with them.  Trump could fire all three men tomorrow; Trump would still be a racist.

Even GoDaddy understands that.  GoDaddy understood there are not "many sides" to the people who showed up in Charlottesville looking for trouble and finding it.  Even GoDaddy understood vile is vile and there is no excusing it.

The President doesn't understand that distinction because he is on the wrong side of that distinction.

“Supporters of white supremacists, violent extremism, racial bigotry and neo-Nazis should not serve in the White House or any level of government,” said Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, during a telephone press briefing with reporters on Sunday.

True.  But removing the President isn't that easy.  And to invoke his favorite meme about Muslims, first we have to identify him correctly.  He doesn't associate with racists, or appeal to racists for his politics.

Donald Trump is a racist.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Have a nice weekend!

Somehow I feel responsible because I didn't spend the day obsessing over "breaking news."  Although a "military option" with regard to Venezuela makes sense, especially if you can't locate it on a map.  Trump did explain that “Venezuela is not very far away.”  I mean, that border wall with Mexico hasn't been built yet, ya know!

Or if you don't have any hotels there (or in North Korea, South Korea, Guam, or parts of China likely to be effected):

Well, at least we can be assured the President is not just shooting off his mouth again:

Panetta actually said a bit more than that:

“Considering the number of flash points we’re dealing with in a very dangerous world,” Panetta said, “the last thing we need is another flash point where we may possibly use military force.”

“This is not reality TV,” the former military and intelligence official continued. “This is a situation where you can’t just talk down to everybody in the world.”
Yeah, but did Panetta defeat Hillary in the biggest election victory of all time?  Who's the President?  Who's the President?  That's right, bitches!!!!!!

Oh, well; we'll always have Kubrick:

Sauce is sauce....

I remember in college, in an off-campus bookstore, coming across the works of Francis Schaeffer.  He was a virulent critic of someone called "Rudolf Bultmann," who I'd never heard of, but Schaeffer blamed Bultmann and his kind for all the ills that Christianity, and therefore modern society, had become heir to.  I got that much from the back cover and skimming the book.  I put it down, curious about this Bultmann character, and why Schaeffer thought him so dangerous and pernicious.

I later found, by actually reading Bultmann in seminary, that Schaeffer wasn't fit to unlace Bultmann's sandals; not as a thinker and scholar, at least.  Schaeffer, as I recall, limited his critique to Bultmann's later works, like his efforts to "demythologize" the New Testament, the better to make it accessible and acceptable to modern people.   Schaeffer got Bultmann wrong on that effort (though I critique it myself as being rather ineffective from a pastoral, i.e., congregational, point of view), but didn't even try to scale the mountain of Bultmann's exegesis of the Gospel of John, or his scholarship on the synoptics.  Schaeffer, in other words, was a self-important putz, a puff of wind, a blowhard.  But I'm quite sure he had more influence on modern Christianity than Bultmann ultimately did, if only because Schaeffer was continuing the work begun by the fundamentalists in the early 20th century (Bultmann is a figure of the middle of the century), when Bultmann's predecessors in Biblical scholarship were upending the way scripture was understood, both historically and as literature.

You really can't overstate the sweeping nature of that change, a last legacy of the century of revolution that began with industrialization and ended with us thinking of ourselves as beings with psyches and soon, doctors who were not "alienists" but "psychiatrists."  Not to mention the revolution of the Romantics which was so fundamental and total we are still mapping the edges of it (if we notice it at all; do fish notice the water they swim in?).  But you can miss simple historical points, like the fact American exceptionalism was documented by Tocqueville and Dickens in the 19th century, which means it didn't start sometime in the 1950's or '60's at all.  But Kurt Anderson thinks it did.

Or at least he thinks it got started in the '60's:

The great unbalancing and descent into full Fantasyland was the product of two momentous changes. The first was a profound shift in thinking that swelled up in the ’60s; since then, Americans have had a new rule written into their mental operating systems: Do your own thing, find your own reality, it’s all relative. 
Do we even have "mental operating systems"?  I must admit I've never thought of them that way.  Are they DOS, or Mac, or Android based?  And who writes them?  Oh, sorry, drifting again; but this kind of analysis inspires drifting, because it's so unmoored from reality itself.  Because that "profound shift in thinking" didn't spring up sui generis from the guitars of Bob Dylan and the chords of the Beatles and (finally, and johnny come lately in this chronology) the "free love" lifestyle of the hippies.  It had an origin point, and what was that?  Maybe the Shakers, or the myriad groups in America that insisted on their own reality, right down to how to live together, or when God was coming to end it all, or how to discern what was valuable in life?  We had our Transcendentalists, we had our apocalyptic communities, our religious communities (Amish still thrive), and our various states all competing throughout the 19th century for how government should function.  We even had a war over that notion, with Texas joining the defectors right after it joined the Union, because it had fought Mexico for the ability to own slaves, and wasn't gonna give up access to that easy money any time soon (it was still nearly a half-century to Spindletop).  Do your own thing, find your own way?  Wasn't that the point of America being so many states and not just one central government, in the first place?

Christopher Douglas notes about this article that:

...the fact of the matter is that this very conservative religious tradition that remade the Republican Party in the 1980s and 1990s had already learned to discount expert knowledge and mainstream institutions like journalism and universities.
He doesn't give a start date to that, but I will:  1910 to 1915, when "The Fundamentals" were published.  By and large in response to German Biblical scholarship; and it's no coincidence there was, in America, a surge in interest in reading koine Greek, the language of the Christian scriptures, so that mail order business in the study was a hot buy for a while.  Universities were the source of that stuff, so fundamentalists didn't need Biblical scholars and exegetes:  they had their own two eyes, and besides, if Jesus didn't speak the King's English, where did the King James Bible come from?

Anderson has another demon that pesters his sleep:

The second change was the onset of the new era of information. Digital technology empowers real-seeming fictions of the ideological and religious and scientific kinds. Among the web’s 1 billion sites, believers in anything and everything can find thousands of fellow fantasists, with collages of facts and “facts” to support them. Before the internet, crackpots were mostly isolated, and surely had a harder time remaining convinced of their alternate realities. Now their devoutly believed opinions are all over the airwaves and the web, just like actual news. Now all of the fantasies look real. 

Well, I guess, except I knew people with all kinds of crazy ideas and conspiracy theories back in the day (Before Google), and they all managed to keep each other up to date and to teach others their nonsense (people weren't born know that stuff) and voting/not voting their convictions, so I'm not sure what's changed except that we're aware of them now.  Kinda the way white men are aware they aren't the sovereigns they thought they were, and people of color and people of non-male gender and people living poor without style and coming from other countries and places in society have "alternate realities" that deserve to be heard, too; so I guess we can ultimately blame this mess on civil rights, giving women the vote, and multiculturalism.  Sure, why not?  Makes as much sense as anything else.

Because the argument here is a conservative one:  we have to go back to never was, in order to straighten this all out.  It's kind of like the problem of overpopulation as identified by Charlie Brown's  sister Sally decades ago:  everybody talks about the problem, but nobody wants to leave.  What standard of order and decency are we going to agree to in order to shove the genie, the parts we don't want (or the people, actually) back into the bottle?

Interestingly, Douglas ends his analysis of Anderson's original essay here:

As Russian dissident, exile, and chess champion Garry Kasparov explained of the fake news circulating in our post-truth world, “The point of modern propaganda isn’t only to misinform or push an agenda. It is to exhaust your critical thinking, to annihilate truth.”

Which would indicate the source of the problem is not a wrong turn in 1960, or the zeitgeist too stoned to deal with reality, but a flesh-and-blood enemy (even bots aren't intelligent enough to create themselves and function on their own) with a deliberate goal in mind.  But instead of address that direct threat, Douglas ends sounding like somebody on a CNN panel who can't bring themselves to say Trump's supporters are liars who believe their own lies about Russia and "collusion" and the 2016 election:  "How to annihilate truthiness, on the other hand, seems like a much more difficult task."  It's not a grand historical task that lies before us.  We are not battling the turning of the gyres or the workings of the thesis against the antithesis, opposing the coming synthesis.  We are not fighting ghosts or spirits or ideas or "the times."  We are fighting propaganda.  And propaganda comes from someone, and is aimed at achieving a goal.

When I was a child, there were a series of games produced to educate children.  They came in small boxes, but carried big purpose behind them, a purpose I'm not sure they ever achieved.  It was a more idealistic time.  We had two of the several produced: one aimed at teaching set theory (I never learned much about it), the other aimed at learning how to recognize, and analyze, and resist, propaganda.  The tacit assumption was that propaganda would come from Russia; in those days the USSR was associated with the word so that almost everything the Soviets said was assumed to be propaganda first.  I learned a great deal from that game, though it wasn't much fun and we didn't play it often.  After Watergate, after Vietnam (each much more influential than the hippies), we learned that propaganda didn't just from the onion domes in Moscow.  Maybe we've learned that lesson too well.  But if we understand that the purpose of Alex Jones or bots from eastern Europe or Sebastian Gorka and Stephen Miller is to annihilate truth, we might be better fixed to prevent them from succeeding.

It's certainly a better target than vaguely remembered figures from history, while forgetting history as a whole just to make that argument.

*The greater irony of the arguments of both Anderson and Douglas is the lament that science can now be understood as a language game (via Wittgenstein, though Douglas credits Jean-Francois Lyotard, not incorrectly), and no one mentions Kuhn because apparently he is so much the father of our failings that He Cannot Be Named.  The fundamental (!) problem there, of course, is that science is no longer "objectively" true, it no longer enjoys the privilege of being, well:  the word of God.  The same thing science claimed to do to Christianity in the 19th century has now been done to it.  Sauce for the goose became sauce for the gander, and now Anderson (and Douglas, to some degree) want to un-sauce the gander.  Sorry, but that goose is cooked.  And yes, I wrote the entire post just to make that joke.)

Say "goodbye," Sheriff

What's with the four stars?  Does he think "Sheriff" is a general officer position in the military?
Boys and their toys.....

So, could this happen?

“The reason I think a lot of this is being talked about is that many, many people around the country are saying, ‘Trump should pardon,'” Arpaio added. “I have not called him on this issue. I’m sure I could. … I’m with him, pardon no pardon, and not asking him. Although, as I said, many other people are asking him.”
And the short answer is "No."  The longer, more deliberate answer is: "Almost certainly not," if for no other reason than a tweet would not be a Presidential pardon, anymore than a verbal announcement of an "emergency" means the opioid crisis will now be treated as such by the Federal government.  For one thing, "emergency" it may be, by the power of the Presidential voice box, but what now?  How does the government proceed?  Even in the reign of Henry VIIII, such questions had to be answered.  So even if Trump uttered the words "Pardon" and "Arpaio" in the same sentence, saying it would not make it so, and it would probably place him at odds with his own Justice Department and its Office of the Pardon Attorney.

But first, what's going on?

Arpaio declined to confirm to the paper that he had spoken to Trump since the presidential inauguration.

In an interview Monday with the popular conspiracy website InfoWars, though, Arpaio was more direct: “Where is President Trump on this case?” he asked, adding: “I’m being convicted for honestly trying to enforce the immigration laws that Trump swore during the campaign he would uphold if elected president.”

Things seemed to go downhill for Arpaio after his endorsement of Trump.

In October, he was charged with criminal contempt of court for ignoring a judge’s order, years earlier, to cease racially tinged police patrols for undocumented immigrants.
Arpaio has not been "convicted for honestly trying to enforce the immigrations laws" (and when did Trump swear to anything during his campaign?), but for ignoring a court order.  And here the question of contempt of court arises.  There are two kinds of contempt:  civil and criminal.

It is generally understood that the distinction between civil and criminal contempt is that the former consists in failing to do something ordered to be done by a court in a civil action for the benefit of the opposing party therein, and is therefore not an offense against the dignity of the court, but against the party in whose behalf the violated order is made; while the latter is a direct offense against the dignity of the court. 
So civil contempt is the court protecting the interests of a party before it, on behalf of that party.  Putting the power of the state behind a party in a case before the court, in other words.  Criminal contempt is the court defending its own power and authority, the "dignity of the court."  It is the court upholding its responsibilities as a court, in other words.  It is fairly settled that an executive with pardon power cannot pardon a civil contempt charge.

The essential nature of civil contempts being coercive, to secure the civil rights of party litigants, it is generally agreed that they are not within the pardoning power.
What, then, about criminal contempt?  Well, if the executive cannot interfere with the court's power to secure the rights of parties before it, on what grounds can the executive interfere with the court's power to defend its own authority as a court?

It is a function of the judiciary to declare and enforce private and public rights. The power to punish for contempt is an inherent power to enforce its orders and decrees and, in general, to enable it to perform the functions for which it was created. The founders of our government intended that the three branches of our government-legislative, executive, and judicial-should be distinct and independent; that in the exercise of their respective Constitutional functions each should be free from interference on the part of every other. The judiciary, more than any other department of the government, should be immune from outside influence and interference. If the governor is permitted to pardon those guilty of contdmpt of court, the judicial branch of the government is, to that extent, made dependent on the executive branch. It is obvious that the judicial branch of the government cannot effectively perform its functions in the administration of justice unless its authority and dignity are accorded the highest respect, and its dignity and authority are imperiled when the executive branch possesses a veto over the exercise of its power to punish for contempt and disobedience.

Chief Justice Marshall once defined a pardon as "an act of grace, proceeding from the power intrusted with the execution of the laws, which exempts the individual on whom it is bestowed, from the punishment the law inflicts for the crime he has committed." As the governor is charged with the duty of seeing that the laws are faithfully executed it is in strict accordance with the theory of the power of pardon that he should have power to pardon offenders against the laws which it is his duty to execute. But it does not by any means follow that he should have the power of pardoning offenses with respect to which he has no duty or concern; and he has no duty or concern with respect to the offense of contempt of court. 

You can substitute "President" for "governor" there with no affect on the analysis.  It's a 1929 law review article, but I don't see why the courts wouldn't uphold that reasoning should the President try to get his Pardon Attorney to issue a pardon for ex-Sheriff Arpaio.

I know the ex-sheriff would like to imagine a deus ex machina is going to save him from himself, but there's really no way for that to happen.  If you hear any manner of speculation about the possibility, just keep in mind the courts would never allow the executive to trample on their authority so cavalierly; nor would we want them to.