Thursday, July 20, 2017

As the Gyre Widened….

This was written just a few days after Trump’s inauguration, and hasn’t been changed since except for the heading. A lot has happened since then, but the partisan invective hasn’t changed a bit…

The numbers game: Millions turned out yesterday for the Women's march. And Trump claimed that he set a new record for attendance at his inauguration, despite publication of pictures showing otherwise.

I've seen claims that those pictures of the Obama and Trump crowds weren’t really taken at the same time of day. But even if that's the case, Trump is clearly delusional if he thinks he set a record. No surprise; he was delusional in November when he claimed Clinton's lead in the popular vote was only on account of millions of illegal aliens being allowed to vote.

The Women’s March clearly drew millions, not only in Washington but around the country and even the world. That makes it the greatest political outpouring in decades, surpassing even the reaction to the Kent State massacre in 1970. Other supposedly populist movements have been pitiful by comparison. Remember the Occupy movement? Their demonstrations drew a few thousand people at most. It has been the same lately with Black Lives Matter   compare its media shots to those of the Women’s March:

Moreover, the Women’s March seems to have been almost entirely peaceful (although there was some vulgar and even nasty language) in contrast to the violent demonstrations the day before that were the work of self-styled anarchists (the “Black Bloc) who seem to think they can save the world by trashing Starbucks. The same fanatics tried to hitch a ride on the Occupy movement:

And in a revival of Radical Chic, some on the Left have sneered on the Women’s March as a betrayal of the True Faith and True Cause of the violent radicals:

But the reborn women’s movement, and other opponents of Trump, should beware of falling into the same trap as the Trumpistas. There is a growing narrative that Trump’s was elected only because of either intervention by Russia or voter suppression. Soon after the election, there were reports like this one in Forbes that it was more a failure of Democrats to support Clinton than of grass-roots enthusiasm for Trump (Remember that polls consistenly showed a lack of enthusiasm for both.):

Only, since then, it has become a matter of faith among some liberal activists that black voters hadn’t just stayed home, but that millions of them had been blocked from voting. An exposé in Rolling Stone suggested that as many as 7.2 million had been struck from the rolls in a conspiracy launched in 2013 by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach:

Apparently none of the fact check organizations has addressed the question of whether that many voters have actually been suppressed, but Snopes was dubious of another claim that 300,000 had been turned away from the polls in Wisconsin:

Another conspiracy theory is that FBI Director James Comey had been out to get the Clintons ever since Whitewater, and that his announcements about closing and reopening and then reclosing the e-mails case weren’t a matter of fumbling but of a deliberate plan to throw the election to Trump (who is keeping him on):

When Comey found nothing warranting prosecution in July, the liberal media praised him, but when he went on the Weiner hunt in October they did a 180, just as he did again a few days later – well, you might call his switcheroos a 360. But if it was all part of the plan, could some conspiracy theorist now “reveal” that Obama, who had appointed him in the first place, was part of that plan? Obama had reason to be upset with his secretary of state for relying on Sidney Blumenthal as an advisor; Blumenthal supported her on the campaign to get rid of Libya’s dictator Muammar Qaddafi – which didn’t turn out any better, alas, than Bush II’s “liberation” of Iraq from Saddam Hussein… and which led to Benghazi (Obama was surely  also upset with Clinton for doing a 180 and denouncing the Trans Pacific Partnership.):

Obama can certainly let his umbrage get the better of him. Letting a U.N. resolution against Israel go through last year after ordering a veto every year before that was clearly motivated by his distaste for Benjamin Netanyahu, who had lent his support to the Republicans after they invited him to speak before Congress. Mind you, I think it’s wrong for Israel to build more settlements on the West Bank, and even annex it. But the logic behind the veto has always been that it is hypocritical of the U.N. to condemn only Israel, while ignoring the abuses of other countries, such as Sudan for its ethnic cleansing in Darfur. As for banning immigrants from Cuba who don’t have permission to leave, that’s obviously just a last-minute move to stick it to Trump for opposing Mexican immigration (Mexico itself may have been sending a message by extraditing El Chapo the day before Trump’s inauguration.). Mind you again, I have nothing against diplomatic relations with Cuba; we have relations with plenty of other autocratic regimes.

We all know that Trump is an easy target for satire. Saturday Night Live has been skewering him mercilessly. But that sort of thing is nothing new. It has also made fun of Hillary Clinton, and back in the day it took on Bill Clinton in a number of sketches – including a series called Tales of the Arkansas Highway Patrol.

But on the night after the inauguration, the Beck Bennett and Anzi Ansari stepped out of character to berate Trump. And one of the SNL writers, Katie Rich, made a tasteless tweet that his 10-year old son Barron would become “this country’s first homeschool shooter.” If Trump had tweeted about Malia and Sasha Obama in the same vein, Rich would doubtless have been outraged. In this case, right-wingers took her on – but so did Chelsea Clinton. Rich later deleted the tweet; she lost her job with SNL and apologized a few days later.

And then there was Brian Todd of CNN, who seems to have thought it was cool to speculate about how the Democrats could retain the White House if Trump, Mike Pence and Paul Ryan were all assassinated. That caused a firestorm in right wing circles, but then Fox News analyst Liz Trotta had pulled the same stunt on Obama in 2008. At least she apologized, as did Rich; Trump has never apologized for anything, from making fun of a reporter with a disability to groping women.

Then there are the accusations of reverse racism on the part of progressives. I’m not going to single out the black radicals who demonize white cops, because a lot of blacks live with bad cops… and even die at their hands. But what about this guy?

And then there was this woman who really went over the top:

I’m worried about what Trump might do with the nukes myself. But the viral meme on the Left isn’t just about that. There’s a narrative that everybody who voted for Trump, and even that everybody who lives in “flyover country,” especially the South, must be a hard-core racist or even a Nazi -- and that the KKK is more powerful today than it was in the 1920s, when lynchings were at an all-time high and white mobs engaged in mass murders of blacks. A couple of years ago, Anonymous posted a phony exposé of prominent Southern politicians as KKK members.

Well, I have a lot of cousins down South, and I never hear any hate speech from them – one even admits having African DNA, though she doesn’t know how she got it; some ancestor of hers must have “passed.” Some of my kin praised the movie Glory, hardly a paean to the Lost Cause of the Confederacy. One cousin in Georgia I knew remarked to me at a family reunion that she’d refused to support another cousin running for sheriff because he wouldn’t appeal to the black vote; she thought that was stupid – and she was old enough to have grown up at a time when blacks weren’t allowed to vote. As for Southern whites in general, well… have you see anything in the news about them turning out by the thousands to support Dylan Roof?

But it isn’t just white folks in the South or the Middle West who are coming under fire from ideologues  on the Left. There’s a backlash against La La Land, Damien Chazelle’s musical that has won a raft of Golden Globe awards and Oscar nominations. There had already been complaints (“Oscars So White”) about black movies being ignored at awards time; this year, Fences and Hidden Figures are among the contenders, Whatever… Geoff Nelson is among those condemning La La Land as a racist exercise in nostalgia for white supremacy, and finds it ironic that supposedly liberal white folks are enjoying it. The rave reviews and huge box office, it seems, couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the film’s innovative song and dance numbers.

Speaking of numbers, Nelson assumes, as he must, that whites (especially Trump voters) in a recent poll who think life for them was better in the 1950’s than today must be nostalgic only for white supremacy – as opposed to, say, a time before the decline in traditional jobs and stagnation in pay. But it doesn’t occur to him that the fact that 62% of black voters think life is better for them today than in the 1950’s runs counter to the meme that things are worse than ever for them now. A new documentary, The 13th, for example, makes a case that mass incarceration is the fruit of a master plan by Nixon, Bill Clinton and plutocratic profiteers -- including Walmart as well as private prison operators -- to restore slavery (So how come Obama had nothing to say about this?):

Back on Jan, 13, I posted here about a call for boycotting any and all books published by Simon and Schuster because it had published an autobiography by Milos Yiannopoulos, a Breitbart News editor accused (among other things) of having orchestrated a campaign of racist abuse, including death threats, against Leslie Jones, one of the stars of the reboot of Ghostbusters. She struck back and got him banned from Twitter. Yiannopoulos has also drawn protests at colleges where right wing groups invite him to speak, and left wing groups try to have him banned. But those behind the boycott of Simon & Schuster talk as if they think all the other authors there are somehow responsible for him, and must thus suffer the consequences – even if he himself doesn’t.

Well, liberals are at least above making death threats. Or are they? CNN reported a while back about a Republican elector targeted by the quixotic campaign of Clinton supporters who thought they could change the outcome of the election by getting Trump electors to switch their votes. I saw Michael Banerian interviewed on CNN; he showed off stacks of mail, much of which he said was abusive, as well as saying that his life had been threatened. A Detroit News account offered further details:

Then there’s Rosie O’Donnell, who a week before the inauguration, called on Obama to declare martial law to keep Trump from taking office:

And Rachel Maddow of MSNBC, who told Bravo – perhaps in jest – that if she interviewed Trump, her first question would be whether he’d throw her in an internment camp:

But more disturbing is the fact that ordinary people are so polarized by what passes for political discourse since the divisive 2016 campaign and election is that they won’t even talk to each other – there isn’t any discourse:

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