Category Archives: Intolerance

Conventional Wisdom: Humor & Weimar America


As the GOP convention winds to a close, a video take on the event and the election.

We begin with a brutally frank assessment of the Republican convention from Lewis Black, during a guest sport on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

And he’s got the best idea yet on what to do with the two November contenders:

Lewis Black On The Election: “It’s A Social Experiment”

Program notes:

The comedian and star of “Back in Black” on Broadway suggests that by choosing between two deeply unpopular presidential candidates, voters are participating in a grand social experiment.

The election as emerging fascism fueled by both parties

Next up, a Paul Jay interview with journalist and former Berkeleyan Robert Scheer on the emerging fascism of Weimar America, and the way both parties have worked to bring it about.

From The Real News Network:

Robert Scheer: Neofascist Trump or Corporate Hawk Clinton Are No Choice at All

From the transcript:

JAY: So let’s start with question one. Is this just a kind of eccentric right populist, and another variance of the Republican Party? Or is this something that’s gone further into what you can call a new authoritarianism, developing neofascism, or such?

SCHEER: Well, it’s precisely a neofascism, and I think we should explain, particularly to younger people, what we mean by this. Because it’s not just throwing around some frightening word. But we’ve had this phenomenon. We have it right now in Europe. We have it where you’re–basically what you’re, what you had under the rise of Mussolini and Hitler, in Italy and Germany.

And what you’re really talking about is scapegoating real problems, there are real problems, you don’t get fascist movements taking over, rising to power, without people being in pain. Hurting. The economy in shambles, their aspirations are limited, they’re worried about their future. And we have a situation now in the United States that is increasingly resembling a kind of post-Weimar Germany. It’s neofascism, it’s not fascism. But basically, people are perplexed: why is life not getting better? Why is income disparity more glaring? Why did my $38 an hour job in [inaud.] or mining disappear, and now I have to work for $7, $8, $9 an hour. What about the benefits I thought I had? What about my ability to send my kid to college?

So we have lowered expectations in America. We have a great sense of pain. And it’s not, you know, just one region and one group of people. And it’s in that atmosphere that you can basically have one of two narratives to respond. You had the Bernie Sanders narrative that said yeah, we got real problems, here. Income inequality is getting worse. The good jobs are not there. The benefits are not there. And we’re going to propose a progressive alternative. And that’s why Bernie Sanders, you know, almost knocked Hillary Clinton out of the box, because Hillary Clinton represented the establishment that had enabled this kind of pain out there.

On the Republican side, Trump did something amazing. He wiped out the whole Republican establishment. He did it up from Maine to Alabama. And he was able to do it across the country because people are hurting. They’re not fools, they’re not desperate to back a fool. What they are desperate about is having a good life for their kids, for themselves, and they’re worried. And so this demagogue of the right comes along with a neofascist message, and by that I mean precisely blaming the undocumented worker, you know, blaming people who don’t have your religion, or gay people, or minorities, or something of that sort. Blaming them for the problems that people with power have caused.

And that’s the key ingredient of neofascism, is to distract people from the real origin of the problems, and make them think it’s the undocumented Mexican worker, which is absurd. They’re not the people who have destroyed housing in America. They’re not the people who did the collateralized debt obligations and credit default swaps and all the junk that Goldman Sachs and others did that brought the economy down. And to blame some guy who’s crossed the border, or some woman who’s crossed the border and is trying to clean a house or help raise a kid there for your problems. . .is absurd.

And Michael Moore declares Trump will be the winner

And he gives a plausible rationale for his analysis in this special convention of HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher.

Also featured in Tony Schwartz, the man who really wrote Donald Trump’s The Art of the Deal and who has proclaimed that Trump’s victory in November would herald the end of civilization:

Bill Maher Live RNC Special Edition: July 20

Program notes:

Bill Maher and his guests – Michael Moore, Dan Savage, Joy Reid, and Tony Schwartz – discuss the 2016 Republican National Convention during this special edition of Real Time.

Headline the of the day: The freak show’s in town


Two screencaps of homepage teasers for stories in the London Daily Mail bring home the spirit of the circus in Cleveland, as seen on the midway.

First, a classic example of sensitivity [story here]:

BLOG GOP Hil

And when it doubt, pack heat [story here]:

BLOG GOP Guns

Jeff Danziger: Choice 2016


From the nationally syndicated editorial cartoonist:

Uncle Sam, 2016 presidential race, Trump, Hillary, political cartoon

Which prompts a graphic response to a graphic. . .

Trump and why the media can’t beat him

The news media and their critics are full of columns and op ends on the deplorable Mr. Trump, all revealing that The Donald is a sociopathic hustler willing to say anything to keep the attention focused on the man with the orange adornment and diminutive digits.

But all the rant and raving doesn’t change a thing, and Trump remains a genuinely viable candidate for the commander in chief of the most powerful military on earth.

Admittedly, Trump’s viability owes much to the loathsomeness of his opponent, a candidate who, unlike the exuberantly spontaneous Trump, seems to be a product of a calculating artificial speech technology that hasn’t yet managed to find the way to add warmth to its synthesis.

So while you can’t believe anything Trump says, you do somehow get the sense that he believes it, even though it contradicts something he said five minutes earlier.

In other words, Clinton is a cold, calculating liar, while Trump is a passionate impulsive and wholly egotistical liar.

Back to the question

So why doesn’t all that media fact-checking and hand-wringing make a dent in the Donald?

Simple.

Because Trump’s supporters don’t trust the media, save for Fox News, and that only with qualification.

They know that the media really are run by a liberal elite, that “effete corps of impudent snobs” as former Spiro Agnew speech writer Pat Buchanan once described them, those “nattering nabobs of negativity.”

Now having spent our working lifetime moiling in the vineyards of the newspaper craft, we must add that most of the journalists we worked with were good, honest folk who really worked hard to report on matters of vital import to their communities.

But during those same years, we also saw journalism debased as locally owned publications either closed down or were subsumed by conglomerates, more interested in pandering that in community service.

The rise of social media, devoid of any filters, has unleashed both a powerful organizing tool [just ask Hosni Mubarrak if you have any doubts] and transformed a medium of public discourse into the digital equivalent of bathroom graffiti, allowing us to indulge both our highest aspirations and our basest instincts.. . .Occupy and cyberstalking.

Trump, the message of the media. . .

Our new media landscape is a perfect fit for a Donald Trump, a man who, as with most sociopaths, is preternaturally attuned to cunningly manipulating feedback to gratify his own infantile needs.

Trump plays to suspicion and fear, the offers simplistic and easily graspable — and thoroughly flawed — solutions, conveying with them a promise of security.

Trump eagerly lays blame — sometimes, and sadly, quite accurately — at the feet of the media for ignoring or trivializing the deepest concerns of his target “marks.”

To an audience well-primed by their own experiences, Trump can easily brush off all that fact-checking and hand-wringing as simply ploys by the establishment to his pursuit of a White House he vows to use in support of their interests, not those of the establishment elite.

That it’s an elite he was born into is ignored, as is the fact of his irreligious hedonism and his life of serial polygamy.

The Trumpian art of the deal is the art of the sociopath, an art sufficiently refined to overpower the reason and self-interest of his marks.

And then there’s Hillary. . .

Let’s put it this way. If Trump was a little bit more sophisticated he’d beat Clinton in a heartbeat.

esnl won’t be voting for the candidate who, as Secretary of State, pursued policies instrumental in the rise of ISIS, a candidate who refuses to tell us what she was so highly paid to tell the people who brought the country to the brink of total collapse. The kind of folks her own daughter married.

That’s why esnl won’t be picking up either revolver come November.

Boris Johnson, British Trump, heads foreign policy


New British Prime Minister Theresa May has named her Foreign Secretary, the equivalent of Secretary of State on this side of the pond, and he’s a British Donald Trump, right down the his extravagant hirsute adornment and his xenophobia.

Meet Boris Johnson, the now-former mayor of London and a lead campaigner for the Brexit.

From the New York Times:

Boris Johnson, Britain’s new foreign secretary, has a quality unusual for a nation’s top diplomat: He can be spectacularly undiplomatic.

Mr. Johnson has suggested that President Obama had an “ancestral dislike of the British Empire,” written a poem insinuating that Turkey’s president had sexual relations with a goat, and likened the European Union — which he helped lead the campaign for Britain to leave — to Hitler’s Third Reich.

And that was only this spring.

In December, he compared Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, to Dobby the House Elf, a “Harry Potter” character. In 2007, he wrote that Hillary Clinton looked like “a sadistic nurse in a mental hospital.” In 2002, he referred to Africans as “flag-waving pickaninnies.”

So it was with no little shock that the world reacted to the news Wednesday evening that Britain’s new prime minister, Theresa May, had named Mr. Johnson to lead the rarefied Foreign and Commonwealth Office, which employs 14,000 people in nearly 270 diplomatic offices and works with the secret intelligence service MI6.

And here’s how Johnson was described in a 16 April 2008 cable from the U.S. embassy in London when Johnson was running for mayor [via Wikileaks, and thanks to Chelsea Manning]:

Conservative candidate Boris de Pfeffel Johnson’s successful candidacy for the mayor of London has defied the laws of political gravity. Johnson is best known as a mistake-prone former journalist twice exposed for committing adultery, now a Conservative MP. Johnson is also well known for apologizing: to the people of Liverpool for accusing them of mawkish sentimentality following the beheading of a resident of the city in Iraq; to the people of Portsmouth after describing the town as “too full of drugs, (and) obesity”; to the people of Papua New Guinea for associating them “with orgies of cannibalism and chief-killing,” and to the people of Africa after remarking on their “watermelon smiles”. He was also sacked as a member of the Shadow Cabinet for lying about an extra-marital affair.

Despite this record, Johnson is a popular figure and has built up a vast following in London.

Gee, if Trump’s elected here and Johnson comes to Washington for talks, they can head to the meeting site in matching clown cars.

Accompanied by stormtroopers.

Cops take to social media posts to air their racism


The McClatchy Washington Bureau has collected a represented sample of some of the more flagrant examples, though in many cases local law enforcement agencies are refusing to reveal the names of the angry officers.

Four examples from the story:

  • A Haywood, North Carolina deputy replied to a woman on a Facebook post Thursday morning about the Black Lives Matter movement, “Once again if you know so much about what we do then show us how it’s done. I usually shoot people on Facebook too.” He also said, “Next time you see the police take cover we shoot for anything.” He was suspended. He was identified as Deputy Andrew Sutton.
  • A Nashville police officer commented in a Facebook thread about Philando Castile that he would’ve shot the black man who was killed by a police officer five times instead of four. He was suspended with further action pending an internal investigation. He was identified as Anthony Venable.
  • Another Nashville officer changed his Facebook profile picture to the iconic photo of Black Panther National Chairman Bobby Seale and Huey Newton holding a Colt .45 and a shotgun in Oakland, California. He claimed he posted the photo out of “strong historical interests.” He was relieved of duty pending an internal investigation. He was identified as Christopher Taylor.
  • A Memphis police officer posted a picture on Snapchat that showed a white hand pointing a gun down a hallway with the emoji of a black man running at the end. Another officer posted the picture to Twitter as an alleged “act of disgust.” Both were suspended. The police department refused to give the names of the officers.

Quote of the day: An agonizing modern reality


A tweet From Rep. Keith Ellison, Member of Congress from Minnesota’s Fifth District:

BLOG Quote

White Boy Privilege: An Atlanta youth nails it


A 14-year-old student won the poetry slam at his private school in Atlanta, Georgia, with a devastating take on the privileges inhering in the simple fact of being born white and male.

To be fair, Royce Mann is a talented professional actor who has appeared in feature films and acted on stage. He also writes, produces, and directs.

From Sheri Mann Stewart:

Royce Mann, Age 14, “White Boy Privilege”, Slam Poem


Program notes:

Royce Mann, 8th grader from Atlanta, GA, USA, wrote and performed this slam poem as part of a competition. He ended up taking home first place.

And the story, from U.S. Uncut:

Royce Mann, a white eighth-grade student and rising acting star, recently brought the house down in a passionate slam poetry performance about white privilege that is spreading like wildfire.

Mann’s poem, “White Boy Privilege,” is about awakening to the fact that the world has set the 14-year-old up to succeed while stacking the deck against women, people of color, and immigrants. In the poem, he at first celebrates his privilege, saying he “loves it” that he has innate benefits as a white male in American society, but later comes to the conclusion that his privilege wasn’t created by his generation, calling on other young white males to reject their privilege and actively demand the privileges afforded to them be shared with the rest of society.

Read the poem in its entirety:

Dear women, I am sorry.

Dear black people, I am sorry.

Dear Asian Americans, dear Native Americans, dear immigrants who come here seeking a better life, I am sorry.

Dear everyone who isn’t a middle or upper-class white boy, I am sorry.

I have started life at the top of the ladder, while you were born on the first rung.

I say now that I would change places with you in an instant, but if given the opportunity, would I?

Probably not. Because to be honest, being privileged is awesome.

I’m not saying that you and me on different rungs of the ladder is how I want it to stay,

I’m not saying any part of me for one moment has even liked it that way,

I’m just saying, I fucking love being privileged and I’m not ready to give that away.

I love it, because I can say “fucking” and not one of you is attributing that to the fact that everyone of my skin color has a dirty mouth.

I love it, because I don’t have to spend an hour every morning putting on makeup to meet other people’s standards.

I love it, because I can worry about what kind of food is on my plate, instead of whether or not there will be food on my plate.

I love it, because when I see a police officer, I see someone who’s on my side.

To be honest, I’m scared of what it would be like if I wasn’t on the top rung.

If the tables were turned, and I couldn’t have my white boy privilege safety blankie to protect me.

If I lived a life by what I lack, not what I have, if I lived a life in which when I failed, the world would say ‘Told you so.’

If I lived the life that you live.

When I was born, I had a success story already written for me. You, you were given a pen and no paper.

I’ve always felt that that’s unfair, but I’ve never dared to speak up because I’ve been too scared.

Well, now I realize that there’s enough blankie to be shared.

Everyone should have the privileges that I have. In fact, they should be rights instead.

Everyone’s stories should be written, so all they have to do is get it read. Enough said.

No, not enough said.

It is embarrassing that we still live in a world in which we judge another person’s character by the size of their paycheck, the color of their skin, or the type of chromosomes they have.

It is embarrassing that we tell our kids that it is not their personality, but instead those same chromosomes that get to dictate what color clothes they wear, and how short they cut their hair.

But most of all, it is embarrassing that we deny this, that we claim to live in an equal country in an equal world.

We say that women can vote? Well, guess what? They can run a country, own a company, and throw a nasty curveball as well. We just don’t give them the chance to.

I know it wasn’t us 8th grade white boys who created this system, but we profit from it every day. We don’t notice these privileges though, because they don’t come in the form of things we gain, but rather the lack of injustices that we endure.

Because of my gender, I can watch any sport on TV and feel like that could be me one day.

Because of my race, I can eat in a fancy restaurant without the wait staff expecting me to steal the silverware.

Thanks to my parents’ salary, I go to a school that brings my dreams closer instead of pushing them away.

Dear white boys, I’m not sorry. I don’t care if you think that feminists are taking over the world, or that Black Lives Matter has gotten a little too strong, because that’s bullshit.

I get that change can be scary, but equality shouldn’t be.

Hey white boys, it’s time to act like a woman. To be strong and make a difference. It’s time to let go of that fear.

It’s time to take that ladder and turn it into a bridge.

And just for the fund of it, here’s another take on the privileges of being born white and male from comedian Louis C.K. presented in 2014 at the 3% Conference:

Louis CK “White Male Privilege”