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Posts Tagged ‘Donald Trump’

Tonight, Gov. Mike Pence, the VP contender on the Republican presidential ticket, faced off with Sen. Tim Kaine in a debate at Longwood University in Farmville, Va. What were some of the highlights?

–*Each candidate got only two minutes to yell over the other candidate.

–*Vladimir Putin doesn’t care if you talk bad about him. He just likes it when people are talking about him.

–*Mike Pence says America is a giant about to be unleashed but it can’t help but keep tripping over all these tiny homosexuals.

–*People don’t like it when Donald Trump interrupts them. Tim Kaine took that to heart and interrupted people only while not being Donald Trump.

–*After a campaign season full of tabloid distractions, Kaine and Pence got Americans comfortable wading back into highly superficial policy discussions.

–*America is a great nation with one of the largest economies on Earth, shrinking unemployment, and growing wages, and Mike Pence is sorry to have to call the country an open sewer if only for the purposes of this debate.

–*”Boorish, thin-skinned and intemperate” are not qualities we can trust in the leader of the free world. But in the VP slot, what the hell … “Go, Tim, now!”

–*Mike Pence shows the savvy, calm, even tone that observers often equate with politics or an imminent suicide attempt.

–*Is there a political suicide hotline?

–*Republicans cheer on candidate who demonstrates the glib, tik-tik-tik robot speak of all the qualified people they flushed out the airplane toilet during primary season.

–*Tim Kaine has walked the walk and tonight he wouldn’t stop talking the talk.

–*Kaine is not just making a historic bid with a powerful female presidential contender, he’s also vying for Joe Biden’s job as outspoken, lovable brain-fart mascot.

–*Mad lib fun: People say that Hillary Clinton has got to be in some kind of deep-seated denial to stay married to Bill Clinton given his indiscretions.

… Mike Pence …. …Donald Trump … whole Mussolini thing.

–*Pence makes a winning case for Evangelists being screwed by Trump: “Now you can just imagine my face when he’s doing it to you.”

–*The phrase, “I got suckered into Farmville” is now a twice-repeallant thought.

–*America asks, “Who are these guys to talk so tough?” And by that they mean, “Really, who are those two guys? I don’t recognize them.”

 

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For #400poundhacker?

If Trump is elected, we can trust he’s going to set the FBI, CIA and ATF in hot pursuit of this guy. He’s out there!

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Here’s a map of attacks on American mosques put together by the ACLU.

While reading it, it’s important to remember that if Donald Trump were to become president, some 3.3 million American Muslims would be under his protection. His job would not be as their inquisitor. His job would not be as their prosecutor. He would not be as some sort of plaintiff against them or judge or arbitrator. He would be sworn protector of the laws that keep them from harm and allow them due process. To merely shrug off that “Yeah, he says crazy things” about a group of American citizens is to ignore the fact that, without his protection, they have none. They have officially become a vulnerable ethnic group the way the Kurds were under Saddam Hussein, the targets of factionalism emboldened by a faraway leader’s nod and wink. When there is no sense of lawfulness at the top, violence is fostered at the bottom by people pursuing any tribal instincts that motivate them. That’s why we have good leaders and why they use such “stilted PC language” that the less patient and more petulant among us have become so bored by. When Janet Yellen makes an incautious statement at the Fed, people lose millions. For the same reason, supporting that “crazy guy who says those gosh darn entertaining things” shows a callous disregard for history and how stuff works–disavowal of Stalin’s history, Hitler’s, Catherine de’ Medici’s .. of people whose monstrousness was possible because they were supposed to be shepherds. I want to make clear that this is not targeted at Republicans or conservatives in general, who, on their good, more libertarian days, know exactly what I’m talking about and many of whom I know do not really like Trump. George W. Bush also knew exactly what I’m talking about, to his great credit. But if Republicans are voting for Trump anyway, they are not voting for their own principles but for the “R” at the top of the form. They are, as Jerry Seinfeld once noted of fickle basketball fans, “rooting for clothes.”

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…and still doing dirty tricks to divide progressives and divorce them from their political power, how would it look different from the DNC e-mail hack?

Just asking.

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I feel like I’ve been hearing this question my entire adult life. I think the person who asks it, honestly or not, tends to miss a few things about life and politics.

So let me float another idea just for fun: third party presidential candidacies are amoral. They presume one candidate who embodies a minority position should be chosen to rule over the majority; they do not represent the fullest democratic expression of majority will but dilute it; they ensure that you, the individual, are less responsible for assimilating and subjugating your own reality to those of the hundreds of millions of people who are not like you; they require, in the other countries that do use them, that complicated coalitions be formed so that a person’s political desires are even further abstracted from them.

I argue that there is only one honest third-party approach: the grassroots way, the local elections way. The reason third-party fans avoid this more effective approach is that it asks a lot of responsibility of them. It’s easier to root for the “rock star” far away in a white house.

I’d also argue that third parties in this country have never been suppressed but have mostly died of their own fragility. They are too often based on personality cults or single issues that become less relevant over time. Think of the futility of an anti-Vietnam War party today or a pro-gold standard party. Organized political machines might … just might … know how rugged or fragile these tendencies are and know to abort them once they become irrelevant to daily life. With respect to Bernie Sanders, who has rightly inspired so many people, his movement is a one-issue movement and there’s a reason it has less traction: People care about things other than continually punishing banks (however right or wrong that might be) when we already kind of did that.

What I most dislike about the third party question is that it tends to misunderstand American history. Our founders hoped that the anarchic moods of the public would find their best expression in the Congress. The president as originally envisioned was supposed to act more like a glorified city manager, a bureaucrat doing the executive work while those in Congress inveighed and caviled and spat at each other. People like Teddy Roosevelt gradually turned the job into the personality cult we see today. That was good in a lot of ways, but it’s led to frustration among people who now have pretty ridiculous expectations.

Asking that one person be pulled every which way and stretched like Silly Putty to reflect the desires of millions of people is silly and futile. Being part of a democracy should exact a toll from you: You have responsibilities and one of those is to compromise or if not, to join the game. And you won’t be appreciated if you do. Ask anybody.

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It should be illuminating that we fulminate about Hillary Clinton, “She’s imperfect!” and ask meekly about Donald Trump “How bad could he really be?” The answer for this hypocrisy is so obvious you might not see it for a piece of napkin lodged on your nose. It’s because he’s a man. He’s a tough dad saying the harsh truths, while she’s a disloyal ice queen who, were she to fire somebody or cross them, would be treated like Madame Defarge. We distrust ambition and political skill in a female because we don’t understand the motives, while we don’t think twice about these qualities in a male, don’t think twice about empowering a guy whose signature is regular abuse of people on a TV show (who has extended that abuse to people in real life). An obnoxious and pervasive literary trope of America–that distant, mean and pugnacious dads are that way only for our own good–is so ingrained in the crap we read and watch that we decline to ask whether dad is acting in his own self-interest. We give the female no such courtesy. It comes to the point of satirically perverse abnegation when we ignore the CV of a man who has worked only for his own self-interest, has never shed an ounce of sweat in his life until now fighting for any conservative principle other than his own right to succeed. A man with nothing but conviction of self and belief in his right to wield authority without specific ideas is now parroted by hapless conservatives who insisted for eight years that his type of personality cult is exactly what they were fighting against. Thus you are witnessing a whole party being taken hostage. Meanwhile, lefties, whose distrust of ambitious females is similarly ingrained, though they would dare not admit it, pretend they are better by turning to people who are unvetted and therefore idealized. If you make cartoon saints out of Jill Stein or Elizabeth Warren by not realizing that they would also have become dirty and have had to make compromises if they had actually been playing the game this whole time, you are quietly telling Hillary Clinton (and all girls): “You have no right to play the game.”

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This guy quoted in the Atlantic supports Bernie Sanders but says he will consider voting for Donald Trump if Hillary Clinton gets the nomination for president.

Let me condense his long, rambling speech for you: “If I do not get my way, I will burn everything down.” Why? Because his career in the arts didn’t take off. This is not the first time I have heard this argument: “Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders is going to make my creative career manifest.”

I myself am an artist, too, dear readers, but I also know one or two things about the economics of art, and the idea of a middle-class or even rich artist is a byproduct of mid-20th century capital formation, not socialism. It was enabled by excess industrial capacity created by a large military industrial complex and cheap gas following WW II and the extra leisure time and spending money enjoyed by a rising bourgeois class. Let’s not forget advances in technology such as recording and film that displaced music publishing houses and theaters that had come before (and do we cry for them?) In much of human history, artists were funded by wealthy patrons or by the church or by selling their art as cheap catch-penny entertainment. Unfortunately, our recent experience has made for a greedy demand among artists that they have a God-given right to money and fans that will validate their choices and identity, even though that whole idea is staked on something the market demand won’t bear.

Sorry it didn’t work out, but it’s your own fault for not having curiosity about a few issues.

I say this as an artist and not a terrible one in my own estimation: If your art doesn’t pay for itself, get a real fucking job until it does. It will enhance your esteem and give you some perspective. When you lack that perspective, the rest of America bears the burden, crossing our fingers that you won’t elect a psychopath out of spite.

Can good countries fund the arts? Of course they can. Up to a certain point. Can they make anybody who wants to be an artist a wealthy artist? No. There is a supply and demand problem. Everybody wants to make art but there are not enough consumers to match all that supply. They only have time for so much entertainment and only so many artists can reasonably make it (for whatever value they bring whether it’s artistic genius or cultural resonance). After the revolution in Nicaragua, everybody wanted to be a poet. You know what the socialist Sandinista government told them? “Pick cotton, please.” Socialism injects a much needed safety net into a mean capitalist system (and the United States is already socialist and has been for a good long time). But the entire idea of our system of capital is that it allocates resources better than centralized planning. Capital gave us freedom to do things that collectivism did not. Like make music in our spare time or even professionally. That’s because we pay people to do things for us that it would be too crushing to have to do ourselves, things that would put us back on farms, selling stuff by a river. You have to be able to eat and wear clothes and find shelter (paid for with capital) before concerning yourself with your Stravinsky-inspired piano piece. Other people need food and clothes before they can hear it.

Bernie Sanders supporters say they have been mocked and scorned. When, exactly, did this mockery and scorn take place? Was Hillary constantly calling Bernie Sanders a “commie” this year? No, she was talking with him substantively up until a few months ago. When it looked like he wouldn’t pull ahead it votes or delegates, the conversation got increasingly stupid. The meaningless phrase “establishment” was used against Clinton next to the other meaningless phrase “corporatist.” Calls went out that the election was rigged. It wasn’t. Bernie Sanders has never had a lead in votes or pledged delegates. Never. To call Hillary Clinton’s election a coronation is to suppress an expression of democracy. It is to be on the fascist side. Geddit?

“Hillary hatred” has been a thing much longer than “Bernie hatred” which means that mockery Sanders supporters feel is largely a product of their imaginations and out-of-control persecution complexes.

LBJ, FDR, JFK, John Maynard Keynes … these were all establishment figures. They all did things that helped our economy and society and they did it in a liberal style and mode. Nobody cares if they were “establishment.” When you call Hillary Clinton the “e” word, you are not impressing anybody that you are engaged in issues as much as that you have low self-esteem and that it’s likely richly deserved. Fact is, Hillary Clinton has done a lot of questionable things (like voting for the Iraq War) but she also has a tremendous amount of accomplishments and a fairly liberal voting record (if you look). If you say she is the same as a Republican–not because you did the due diligence and looked up her record but because you have staked your identity on repeating things you hear from other liberals at picnics and rallies–then unfortunately you are no better than Republicans at barbecues, nodding at their dads as they drunkenly yell “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” You have, in fact, revoked your right to call yourself smarter than rednecks or think of your choices as more reasonable and thought out. You might be just another joiner.

So let me tell you what’s really going on with the kid in the Atlantic piece (and he is a child):

When you are totally impotent; when a changing world baffles you and leaves you feeling helpless; when you haven’t the imagination to think your way out of the mess that false assumptions have led you into, sometimes the only way you can feel a sense of power and facility is by your power to negate and destroy. This is something people on the left and the right can now shake hands on. That and the following idea: “I will not let reason violate my identity.” Kumbaya.

 

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There is a remarkable story floating around online that I haven’t seen posted in many places: how the Southern Baptist Convention has lined up against payday lenders. Christians have come around to the idea that this kind of behavior among financial specialists creates victims. When you see Evangelicals going after financial institutions, you’re watching a 50-year-old pact dissolving. Christians have found something in laissez-faire economics they can’t abide by, and they think the government has a role in stopping it.

I think this is huge news. At the very least, it bears closer scrutiny for those wanting to understand the current state of the Republican Party. Donald Trump’s rise shouldn’t be surprising given the huge schisms within intellectual conservatism, which is less a cohesive movement now than a group of unrelated tribes. Libertarianism, whose underlying argument is that less government and law equals more freedom (and that total freedom could somehow be self-correcting), can no longer be reconciled with Christian charity and evangelism, which sees in this idea selfishness and moral abdication. Political Christians have always seen a role of government acting as an agent for change (think blue laws). This is something they have in common with liberals, though they wouldn’t like the comparison. Meanwhile, neither Ayn Rand nor Jesus likely have much to do with neoconservatism, the idea that America’s military power can be used for the global good and stability. Nor with ethnic nationalism.

And you could separate libertarianism still from free market conservatism, which understands rampant capital formation to be the best model for engendering truly free living and thus is really fond of global free trade agreements and such.

Like all powerful movements, conservatism managed to find unity in these disparate ideas when they were embodied by a powerful historical figure: Ronald Reagan. Without the unifying and sunny idiom in which he put them (and an Evil Soviet Empire that seemed to symbolize everything he was not), there is not a lot left holding these ideas together and certainly not enough for a person who stakes his identity on his Republicanism.

Thus it’s not terribly surprising when the many virtues of these ideas succumb to the dark side of human nature, their high-mindedness superseded by the darker, baser aspects of the human character, who in his grasping for expression easily becomes easily wounded, narcissistic and chauvinistic. It’s not hard to fathom, then, how spiritualism becomes intolerance. Counterintuitiveness becomes anti-intellectualism. Loyalty to ideals becomes more important than curiosity (which might destroy them). Pride in culture and respect for tradition becomes open hostility to people who are different. Whenever a group of people are in such disarray, it makes sense they would turn to a strong man–a man of utter conviction in himself and willingness to take what he wants with bullying. These qualities are impressive enough by themselves in a leaderless vacuum to a battered conservative soul.

I am not a conservative, but I grew up with conservatives in their wolf den, and I’ve never found boastful conviction to be something they value. So I find their turn to Trump to be disheartening. It’s not that I think they actually like him–they simply want his mojo, his strong expressiveness and the idiom of confidence that used to be theirs. How else do you explain them turning to a man who has spent not one second of his life pursuing their goals, fighting for their beliefs?

Being skeptical that Obamacare did any good is one thing. But when all you have holding together your identity is your hatred for Barack Obama (and his heir presumptive, Hillary Clinton), then you really have no philosophy at all (and in many respects, you are likely defined by your low self-esteem, if some of your Facebook memes are any indication). Political ideals are something you speak for peer approval. (Or, let’s face it, your dad’s.)

Though I’m not a Republican, I’m a gestalt theorist, and I think America needs both its parties to be strong for its particular way of functioning. Both the Democrat and the Republican greatly need to speak each other’s heresies to stiffen their sinews and make their arguments more rigorous. I do not think the world would be a better place if far leftists were left alone to speak kant to one other (that certainly hasn’t been good for the arguing skills of Bernie Sanders’ fans, who are the most true-believing of anybody’s supporters and thus incredibly fragile when challenged on their candidate’s very real weaknesses).

So I am not heartened by the demise of the Republican Party. If it rises again, I would like it to do what it does best: offer sober assessments of the the very real problems perceived by liberals. I would like it to ask us: do we completely understand the nature of these problems and could our solutions make things worse? Instead, the GOP has become the party that insists government must be destroyed to be saved. It wound up destroying itself.

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