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Showing posts from November, 2016

#YesMyPresident*sigh*

"Not my President!" So the defiant chants go up, the hashtag proliferates, and we all feel so much better by rejecting a man so repugnant that we cannot possibly bear the thought that he is our leader. We repudiate the very notion that he represents us, either at home or abroad. #notmypresident feels so right, so good, so just, so defiant.

Yet, it is utterly the wrong stance to take. Barring some last-minute Jill Stein miracle, or a liberal takeover of the electoral college, Donald J. Trump will be the 45th President of the United States. If you live in this country he will be your President.

Why is this the wrong stance to take, when Trump runs counter to every value most decent people hold dear, and when he has trampled on the conventions of the office himself? Because to repudiate form now, at the very moment of our democracy's greatest test, is to give up on those ideals that make our nation great: the rule of law, and the idea that the genius of the system is stron…

ON THE ROLE OF PROTESTS IN OUR CIVIC LIFE

Now professional protesters, incited by the media, are protesting. Very unfair! --Donald Trump, November 10, 2016

Once again, protests captivate the attention of the nation, most notably at the site of the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline, but also in multiple sites across the country, as people express their disappointment at the election of Donald Trump, his proposed policies, his terrible campaign tactics, and his odious cabinet picks.

Trump's attempt to delegitimize protests against him puts him in the dubious company of repressive governments and strongmen across history and around the world. Sisi of Egypt, Putin of Russia, Erdogan of Turkey, Iran, China, North Korea, the list goes on. Stalin and Hitler also come to mind. The idea that those protesting are somehow paid plants from a nefarious opposition is a long-favored and completely baseless ploy used by many of these same figures. The fact that Trump would expend his energy on this tweet some 36 hours after he won an histori…

A GUIDE TO MEDIA CONSUMPTION IN THE ERA OF FAKE NEWS, TWITTER, AND THE NEVER-ENDING "CYCLE"

A GUIDE TO MEDIA CONSUMPTION IN THE ERA OF FAKE NEWS, TWITTER, AND THE NEVER-ENDING "CYCLE" Here we are, America, wide-awake on the morning after of our worst nightmare: an internet troll is literally the leader of the free world. A man immune to fact, who shamelessly denies what he has said on camera, who at every turn undermines the credibility of the free press, all the while exploiting the wall-to-wall coverage afforded his incendiary bombast and belligerent, man-boy posturing. Are we all partially to blame? I think the answer is yes. The echo chamber of social media feeds us content that tends to reinforce rather than challenge our pre-existing notions and beliefs. And it's not just the spin of these stories that limits our discourse. What gets reposted, memed, liked, and commented upon are not always the stories that, in the end, really matter. Cat videos, defiantly captioned pictures of Martin Luther King or Chief Joseph overwhelm our feeds, drowning out less rea…

Pat McCrory is going fishing

Pat McCrory is going fishing. He wants citizens to turn in cases of so-called voter fraud. Outrageous! Thanks to Christiane Voisin, who alerted us to this, and who wrote a powerful email to McCrory denouncing this bogus fishing expedition. Please write to: elections@ncgop.org You may copy and paste hers, or mine, included below. I find it more effective to articulate your own ideas and send them along. Form letters are less effective than a personal response. But please do email them. To whom it may concern: I am outraged that you are soliciting examples of voter fraud from the people of North Carolina. If every case of fraud were uncovered and accounted for, it would still represent an infinitesimally small and statistically insignificant number that would in no way change the result of the gubernatorial election. I know it, you know it, and every independent body and study that has looked at this issue can confirm it. What is clear is that the state GOP is attempting to delegitimiz…

WORDS MATTER:

As those of us on the left attempt to make the case against Donald Trump's more egregious cabinet posts and his likely implementation of policies we vehemently oppose, it is worth taking some time to consider the language through which we accomplish these pursuits. The long, brutal campaign brought our nation's discourse to new lows, particularly as Trump himself repeatedly resorted to ad hominem attacks--those against the person, not the ideas--on his opponents or anyone else who got in his way. "Little Marco," "Lyin' Ted," "Crooked Hillary." In turn, many mocked everything about Trump from his hair to his hands to the seemingly unnatural color of his skin. Then again, Hillary herself infamously referred to Trump supporters as a "basket of deplorables." Never mind that those words may have been taken out of context. Words matter. I want to make the case that what we need more than ever is to clean up our language to avoid, whenever…

ON VOTER SUPPRESSION:

After the election in 2012, North Carolina enacted what many observers have called the most restrictive voting laws in the country, laws that were deliberately constructed to disenfranchise people of color. The intellectual cover for these laws is that they are an effort to counter voter fraud. The impact of actual fraud has been negligible, as many independent watchdog groups and government agencies have reported. There will always be a tiny amount of inconsistency, and yes, a few people may fraudulently vote. But these numbers represent the tiniest, statistically insignificant percentage of all votes cast. Now, North Carolina governor Pat McCrory and his legal team are filing challenges based on supposed fraud in over half of the state's counties. With Roy Cooper up by thousands of votes, why are they wasting our time with what, even if they win every single challenge, is an effort that cannot change the overall results? Because sowing doubt in the credibility of elections in g…

ON ORGANIZING A PROTEST:

https://www.aclu.org/know-your-rights/what-do-if-your-rights-are-violated-demonstration-or-protest
I am ready to organize a protest against Richard Burr at his office in Winston-Salem for remaining silent about the appointment of Steve Bannon to a top administration position. While the Senate has no direct jurisdiction over Bannon's post, I call on Senator Burr to use the bully pulpit of his office to independently condemn Mr. Bannon and the ideology of bigotry he promotes. Many have contacted me with details about how to find the man himself around town, or how to find out in advance when he will be in his Winston-Salem office. I, however, am more interested in protesting at his office, wether he is there or not. Let's rattle his cage at home, make some noise, get some media attention, inform other citizens of both the facts and our outrage. Let's create a platform through which to proclaim our views. I am torn in two directions about the timing of this. New and generally…

HERE'S WHAT I LEARNED FROM CALLING GOP LEADERS TODAY:

My approach is to start off VERY calmly, and to simply ask if the Senator or whomever I am calling has made a statement on the appointment of Steve Bannon to the office of White House Chief Strategist. The staffers who answer the phones try to get you off quickly, by telling you that the Senator has not yet commented, but they will be sure to pass your message on. At this point, right when they are about to move on, I escalate and extend the conversation by saying, "I have some other questions and comments for the Senator." I proceed to say that I am outraged and horrified that the Senator has not yet and did not immediately denounce the appointment of a white nationalist to an office down the hall from the Oval.  At this point, the responses from the staffers vary. Some lose their bureaucratic detachment, and become partisan, even argumentative. They say things like, "the Senator has never met Mr. Bannon." (A common deflection being used for this.) I responded to…

Why I Wear the Pin

The safety pin has come to stand for opposition to the election of Donald Trump to the office of president. I have come across more than one compelling, well-written piece arguing why I should not--or that I should do so only if I meet a certain set of conditions.

Some say that how dare I, a white male, assume to be the safe haven for the oppressed--particularly now when Trump was elevated through an unprecedented surge in white male voters. These writers would posit that guilty white liberals just want some way to feel better, want a way to wave at the other and say, "it wasn't me; I'm with her!" Others would argue, fine, wear it, but know that it is a very specific symbol meant to inform marginalized people that you are there to be a shield in the event of public harassment, harassment that has sharply spiked in the days since the election. These folks would say that I need training in de-escalation techniques, that I should be ready for violence, and that I may b…

A few quotes from Trump's transition team:

Mike Pence: "Most climatologists agree that, at best, global warming is a theory about future climactic conditions and cannot be proven based upon the historic record." Steve Bannon:
"Are there racist people involved in the alt-right? Absolutely."  Newt Gingrich:
"I discourage a cult of personality." "You know, modern liberals are just, I think frankly, totally off the deep end... their only answer is to yell racism and hide." Rudy Giuliani:
"Vladimir Putin is what you call a real leader." "White police officers wouldn't be there if blacks weren't killing each other." "I don't think waterboarding is torture." Ben Carson:
"I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that..." Corey Lewandowski:
"Everything is politically correct nowadays." Marsha Blackburn:
"Citizens United fought to defend our right to free speech - and won a gr…

LET'S GIVE UP ON A COUPLE OF IDEAS:

No, not the idea of liberty, despite the dramatic illustration above. I have seen three items repeatedly on social media that I want to debunk and argue against.

1. The idea that we can petition the electoral college to vote for HRC, presumably because Trump is a menace to democracy and because Hillary won the popular vote. First, can you imagine how the millions of Trump voters, already described as "angry," would react? Second, turn the tables: imagine if Trump had squeaked out the popular vote but HRC had trounced him in the electoral numbers. Would we not find it sour grapes for his supporters to be signing a petition? We either work within the Constitution and its traditions or we don't. Yes, Trump shattered so many norms by refusing to release his tax returns, by refusing to say he would concede a loss, by claiming that the system is rigged, and by trading in lies and personal attacks. All these are precisely the reasons that Trump's opponents must adhere rigo…

DONALD TRUMP IS THE ANGEL OF AMERICA!

Here’s why: For many liberals, the ascendence of Donald Trump to the Presidency seems nothing short of apocalyptic, and while that may be objectively true from the point of view of the campaign, all bets are off going forward, especially given the abject failure of pollsters, pundits, and cultural prognosticators to see the Trump train steam into the station with such full force.  You’re all wrong: the Trump presidency will have negative consequences, but he will go down in history as just the character we need at this juncture, as cultural and economic shifts tectonic in scale, and an impending environmental catastrophe force their way into our lives and the national consciousness. Trump is an angel because his ability to get anything done is in inverse proportion to the rancor with which he trumpets his message. Trump’s lack of resolve, expertise, and adequate support staff will fatally hamper his ability to carry out his so-called plans. Did Trump ever actually want to be Presiden…