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Showing posts from October, 2016

Republicans seem intent on destroying the Republic

Let's be clear, there's a straight line between this:

In a vintage return to his confrontational style, Sen. Ted Cruz indicated that Republicans could seek to block a Democratic president from filling the vacant Supreme Court seat indefinitely. And this:
Jared Halbrook, 25, of Green Bay, Wis., said that if Mr. Trump lost to Hillary Clinton, which he worried would happen through a stolen election, it could lead to “another Revolutionary War.”  “People are going to march on the capitols,” said Mr. Halbrook, who works at a call center. “They’re going to do whatever needs to be done to get her out of office, because she does not belong there.”  “If push comes to shove,” he added, and Mrs. Clinton “has to go by any means necessary, it will be done.” The connecting line: Conservatives have spent a generation arguing that Democratic governance isn't just wrong, but illegitimate. (Thus the Clinton impeachment, thus birtherism, etc.) If Democratic governance is illegitimate, then o…

The difference between Bill Clinton and Donald Trump: (Or, compartmentalization is a good thing)

Conservative thinker Hadley Arkes doesn’t understand why #NeverTrump Republicans can’t just get on the bandwagon already. Don’t they know what’s at stake?
I can hardly blame the Bushes for recoiling from the indignities and insults, the lies and calumnies, thrown off with such abandon by Donald Trump. But accomplished public men are even more obliged than the rest of us to respect the difference, searing at times, between personal wounds and public duties. To take those duties seriously is to raise the question of why the Bushes and people like them do not care as much for the things that other Republicans, ordinary folk, see at stake in 2016: the prospect that medical care will be politically managed at the national level, with an independent commission rationing care, bringing everyone under their control; the specter of federal courts filled at all levels with the professoriate of the Left, ready to install as law those fevered theories that have now become the fashion at the “better”…

Hillary Clinton's debate problem: She's a woman named Hillary Clinton

I'm seeing friends, right and left, suggest that Hillary Clinton failed to land a knockout blow against Donald Trump in tonight's debate. I'm not so worried: I think Clinton knows, after Friday's release of the "Billy Bush" tape, that she's ahead on points, and she doesn't have to work too aggressively to win the championship.

Here's the problem: She's a woman named Hillary Clinton.

This is the woman who commentators tell to smile more one debate, smile less then next. She's a woman who faces the same issue many professional women do — act too aggressively and you're a bitch. Moderate your presentation and you come across as a shrinking violet. No woman can win by those standards — indeed, they're not supposed to.

Hillary, after decades in the public eye, is ultra-aware of the dynamic. So: If she presses the case too hard against Trump tonight, there's an excellent chance that lots of post-debate pundits are using b-word euphem…

Teaching our sons not to be Donald Trump

This is the Facebook status of a friend. I'm so angry on her behalf that I can barely hold back the tears.

I've just had a conversation with my son. He's a good kid. But he lives in this stupid, fallen, fucked-up world.

We told him

Never touch a girl or woman without her permission.

Never call her names.

Never act disrespectfully in any way to a girl or woman.

There will be times when it might seem like the fun thing to do. When you see other boys acting that way. That doesn't make it right. There will be peer pressure. Resist. And talk to us, if you will.

I realize that there's only so much we can do. He spends so much time in this stupid, fallen, fucked-up world already without us. So it's imperative that we use the remaining time to affirm, and reaffirm, and reaffirm again, what those values are.

Look at Donald Trump, son. Do the exact opposite.

I am Billy Bush

By now, you've probably heard of Donald Trump's horrific recorded comments from 2005 about how he treats women. It's hard to see how he survives this and gets elected, but this is a weird and stupid election season: Never say never.

What interests me in the recording, though, is the acquiescence of Billy Bush, who just goes with the flow as Trump describes his interaction with women in ever-more-disgusting terms:

“And when you’re a star they let you do it,” Trump says. “You can do anything.”  “Whatever you want,” says another voice, apparently Bush’s. Trump today described the comments as "locker room banter." It's been a few decades since I spent regular time in a locker room, and I remember it could get rowdy and bawdy — but Trump's recorded comments exceed anything in my memory.

Still, I'm now racking my brain. Am I Billy Bush?

Have I sat by, maybe even chuckled, as a man — thinking he was speaking among men — spoke of a women or women in such di…

In (sort of) defense of Donald Trump's comments about vets and suicide

This Donald Trump comment is making a lot of people mad today — the insinuation that vets who commit suicide are "weak."

"When people come back from war and combat and they see things that maybe a lot of the folks in this room have seen many times over and you're strong and you can handle it, but a lot of people can't handle it," Trump said, speaking Monday morning at a panel for the Retired American Warriors PAC in Virginia. Sounds pretty bad, right? Well, ABC at least includes the rest of the quote — which is omitted from a lot of media accounts.
"We need mental health and medical, and it's one of the things that is least addressed and one of the things — one of the things that I hear most about when I go around and talk to the veterans," he said. "So we are going to have a very robust, very, very robust level of performance having to do with mental health." Now: I'm not one to defend Donald Trump.

But in this case he's…

What's so bad about Obama?

Reading the pro-Trump website American Greatness, I come across this comment from Seth Leibsohn:
"There is all the justification in the world for conservatives, Republicans, Independents, and disaffected Democrats to support their one and last chance to stop an experiment in leftism that will rival in power and duration the New Deal and the Great Society." Which made me wonder: What's been so awful about the last eight years?

Or, to put it another way: Are you better off than you were four years ago?

I'm not a fool: Obama's presidency began in the middle of the Great Recession and America has been somewhat slow to claw its way out of what once looked like a civilization-ending financial disaster. So your life might not be as grand as before the housing bubble burst, but then again — that happened before his watch. Me? It's an iffy question, but I work in a journalism industry that's undergoing generational changes that would be happening no matter who is …

What liberals can learn from conservatives, revisited

A few years ago, I wrote a short column for the Philly Mag website trying to distill what I'd learned from years of close interaction with conservative friends like Ben Boychuk, William Voegeli, and Steve Hayward — three strong ideas of conservatism that, perhaps, liberalism doesn't always get well.

Do the lessons hold up in the age of Trumpism? Let's revisit.
• They’re often better at recognizing the law of unintended consequences: Simply put, the attempt to fix a problem can sometimes end up creating new, unanticipated problems that also need solving. You can, for example, make the case that the federal government’s decision to seriously start fighting wildfires in the last century actually ended up making wildfires … worse. In Boulder, Colo., attempts to rein in that city’s runaway growth have driven housing prices skyward—ruining some of the grassroots charm activists there were trying to preserve.
Conservatives aren’t perfect at applying this principle—see the invasion …

The endless rage of the Donald Trump election

Probably this is too personal, too emo, too revelatory, but here we go:

I'm pissed. All the time.

If you're paying close attention to the election, I suspect you are also pissed all the time. But maybe you're not.

It's clear, though, a lot of people are pissed all the time.

Now: Some of this is almost certainly fair. Donald Trump keeps finding new ways to demonstrate he'd be a very poor president. Possibly disastrous. It's rage-inducing to see smart people make implausible arguments for him, or — worse in my view — pretend his candidacy isn't the vehicle for the new ascendancy of white-nationalist anti-semitism it clearly is.

The problem is this: I don't trust my rage.

I don't trust it to help me make sound judgments. I don't trust it to help me deal with people fairly. I don't trust it to help me preserve friendships that I want to last beyond this stupid, stupid election.

On the other hand, I'm also worried that in my caution to keep r…