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The Necessity of Never Letting Stephen Miller Near a Negotiating Table

Today the New York Times published an op-ed by Ross Douthat, one of several conservative commentators who have poked the eye from time to time of the paper of record's mostly liberal readership. Setting aside the question of whether the Times is a Nazi publication, accusations of which abound on Twitter, I want to focus for now on Douthat's arguments. My subscription is safe, mainly because I believe in the wall separating news from opinion, and because, like it or not, the Times will continue to be an important national voice.

Douthat's piece is premised on a faulty notion: that there are immigration restrictionists who are not bigots. There may be some handful of people for which this may be true, but one only need take a cursory listen to the braying voices leading this charge, people like Tucker Carlson and Ann Coulter. We should never forget the outright lies that launched Trump's campaign. Mexico sends its worst. Mexicans are rapists. The tropes trotted out agai…
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You Have the Right to Remain Silent

The Battleground
In all of the controversy surrounding first Colin Kaepernick and then other athletes' taking a knee during the singing of the national anthem, I want to step back a bit to take a critical look at the anthem, the flag, and other symbols of our nation for how they are used as markers in a certain kind of cultural warfare. The GOP has seized upon these symbols to cast itself as the party of patriotism, while Democrats have had to defend themselves against charges of being the party of godless globalists, who are either ambivalent toward their country, or actively hate it. Dissent and protest have hence been cast as unpatriotic acts in this false dichotomy, and loving one's country means blind loyalty to its leader--as long as he is not a black Muslim from Kenya. Ironically, Trump made his entree into national politics in a big way when he fomented the birther movement, casting literal doubt as to whether president Obama had any claim to being American, let alone …


"Bannon declares war on GOP," the headlines blared after the Bloated One's performance before Charlie Rose on 60 Minutes Sunday night. I do not disparage Rose the interview; after all, until recently, Bannon was a top aide in the White House. Committing his insights to record is useful and important. Bannon's assessment that the firing of Comey was the worst mistake in modern political history is revelatory on a number of levels. However, once the fallout from this interview settles, it is time for a total boycott of everything Bannon.

While it is true that Bannon received degrees from both Georgetown and Harvard, that qualifies him as a smart guy, not a genius. It is a well known phenomenon that advisers to winning candidates are often hailed as political seers, when in fact it takes a strong candidate, many talented advisers, and sheer luck to win an election. We love the idea that there must be some sort of semi-mad genius in the wings, pulling invisible levers w…

Anti-fascist Protesters in the Age of the Resistance

By Peter Wilbur
Edited by Natalie Herr

In the wake of the Charlottesville violence and subsequent actions and debate surrounding Confederate monuments, millions of Americans are learning of experienced activist groups whom most have rarely heard of or encountered before. At the same time, these groups are now interacting with a cadre of brand-new activists drawn to the internet--and the streets--in response to Trump's ascendence. Inevitably, mischaracterization and misunderstanding have ensued, so I think it worthwhile at this critical juncture to unpack some mythology about anti-fascists and to offer a few suggestions as we move forward through this dark era in our nation's history.

Let's be clear: the president is not the only person drawing false equivalencies between neo-Nazis and far-left activists. Even the New York Times engaged in a bit of it in a recent piece about leftists that relied heavily on anecdote, and opened with a discussion of violence, a very real concern…

Trump Unpacked, Episode 2: the Guam Edition (Call to Guam's Governor)

Good morning, good morning, (Trump has no concept of time zones) it's great to speak to you, (He has no idea this island even existed, let alone that it has a governor) and I just wanted to pay my respect. (Did somebody die? Not yet...) And we are with you 1000%. (Nice hyperbole. And who are "we"? Guam is a territory of the U.S. It is a part of the country.) You are safe. (Keep saying it Donald. Is that what your legal team tells you when they tuck you in at night?) We are with you 1000%. (With friends like these, who needs enemies?) And I wanted to call you and say hello. How are you? ("Hey, I'm great, Donald, an unpredictable despot just threatened my island with nuclear armageddon, but the sun is shining in Guam!")

Well, we're going to do a great job, (Good to know, Donald. I'm sure that clinches it.) don't worry about a thing. (What me, worry? Don't worry; be happy now!) They should have had me eight years ago. (Let me pivot to my favor…

Trump Unpacked, Episode 1, in Which the Donald Remarks Upon the Pre-dawn Raid of Paul Manafort

I know Mr. Manafort, (You know, the same way you might "know" your neighbor. Not too close, but I "know" him. Classic downplaying of their relationship.) haven’t spoken to him in a long time, (Probably technically true, but you can bet that Trump's legal team has been all over Manafort's. In fact, many observers think that Manofort's dumping his old legal team for a new one immediately after the raid is a sign that Trump threw him under the bus.) but I know him. (Just like I know my secret service guy, what's his name.) He was with the campaign, (he was the campaign manager, about as close as you can get to the center of power.) as you know, (yes, we know) for a very short period of time, (five grueling months, in fact) a relatively short period of time, (he was manager during the Cleveland convention, pretty significant!) but I’ve always known him to be a good man. (This is a non sequitur. "Good man" is nearly an insult in the Trumpian l…

On Nixon and Trump

Today, I finished John Farrell's new biography of Richard Nixon, a fascinating read on its own, but never more so than in the age of Donald Trump. This new book is a compact tale that benefits from the author's having full access to the unabridged and infamous Oval Office tapes that ultimately led to Nixon's downfall. The odor of scandal has followed Trump throughout his campaign and presidency, and he and James Comey have exchanged barbs about "tapes" to the shock of a nation. On the left, the assumption that Trump is crooked is a given, and comparisons are quickly drawn to Nixon, another paranoid, power-obsessed, win-at-all-costs president. However, though both of these men's reputations will likely be defined by their misdeeds and will to power, the comparisons end there. Would that Donald Trump were one percent of the intellectual, statesman, and above all, diplomat that Richard Nixon was.

This is not to excuse the abuses of the Nixon presidency. He orde…