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Showing posts from February, 2017

When Donald Trump Quotes the Bible, I Get a Little Crazy

Yeah, I find it jarring every time he affects to quote the Bible. We know already he's possibly — probably? — the least Biblically literate president ever, with a personal theology (to the extent he has one) is alien to almost any recognizable form of Christianity. So if you're a believer (I'm agnostic, but with strong feelings about the church communities I grew up in) that means he' pimping out the God of the Universe in the service of whatever self-aggrandizing message he's sending at the time.

That's arguably true of most presidents who quote the Bible. It's just so obviously true of this president that I wish he'd quit rubbing our noses in it.

Trumpistas: Trump = America

The folks over at the Trumpista website American Greatness have a new piece up defining their brand of conservatism as, well, "Americanism."
The party of Obama and Hillary is the Anti-American Party. They want to put the American experiment behind us, to complete the Progressives’ 100-year project of progressively overthrowing the Constitution.  Donald Trump has called himself “a common sense conservative.” What, we may ask, is common sense conservatism? One thing is certain: it means loving America. Trump wants to save America by rallying the American people around the effort to save the republic. To which the proper response is — well, unprintable.

America is more than a limited government view of the Constitution — and that I have to tell my Trumpist friends this astounds me, makes me sorry for the narrowly legalistic view of what America is, has been, and should be that they think the spirit of this country can and should be contained in a particular modern interpretati…

We're Experiencing a Wave of Anti-Semitic Terrorism

Let's call the wave of anti-Semitic threats and grave desecrations what they are: Terrorism.

No, nobody's been hurt. Doesn't matter. Terrorism uses violence to achieve political aims. In this case, the violence is threatened and implied, but the aim is clear: To intimidate American Jews and their allies.

This is not a problem that can be mitigated with promises that "I'm the least anti-Semitic person you've ever met." It requires leadership.

The Ceaseless Importation of Third World Foreigners With No Taste for Liberty

“The ceaseless importation of Third World foreigners with no tradition of, taste for, or experience in liberty means that the electorate grows more left, more Democratic, less Republican, less republican, and less traditionally American with every cycle." Decius, The Flight 93 Election.

Here's one of those Third Worlders with no tradition of, taste for, or experience in liberty:
"One night last fall, when the Fire Department was battling a two-alarm blaze, Mr. Hernandez suddenly appeared with meals for the firefighters. How he hosted a Law Enforcement Appreciation Day at the restaurant last summer as police officers were facing criticism around the country. How he took part in just about every community committee or charity effort — the Rotary Club, cancer fund-raisers, cleanup days, even scholarships for the Redbirds, the high school sports teams, which are the pride of this city." Mr. Hernandez is being deported. Thank Jesus he'll no longer be able to make his …

Wanted: Better Journalism About Football and CTE

A letter I just wrote to a McClatchy journalist:

Sir:

I just read your Cedric Benson story on the KC Star website, which concludes with this:

While Benson suffered from a variety of lower-body injuries in the NFL, there are no records of him ever suffering a concussion. Perhaps your story was edited to exclude additional information. If not, let me suggest the line — as it stands — omits so much information that it's possibly misleading.

Simply put: One needn't experience concussions to experience head trauma as a football player. Here's what the CTE Center says about the issue:
How do you get CTE? Can I get CTE from one concussion/hit to the head?We believe CTE is caused by repetitive brain trauma. This trauma includes both concussions that cause symptoms and subconcussive hits to the head that cause no symptoms. At this time the number or type of hits to the head needed to trigger degenerative changes of the brain is unknown. 

I'd wager that Mr. Benson received a fair nu…

Music From High School

Why Does Mexico Have to Pay for the Wall?

One question I've not really seen asked or answered:Why is it so important that Mexico pay for our wall? We're the ones who want it — I say "we" loosely here — and will build it. If I build a fence on my property, I don't make my neighbor pay. I don't even ask! So why is that so important, except as a means of demonstrating that "making America great" means forcing neighbors to do our will?

What ever happened to those racist white folks from those old photos?

See here.

For people of my generation, there was a narrative - not entirely spoken - that racism ended somewhere around 1968. That narrative, in turn, provided a foundation to the idea that attempts to correct for the effects of hundreds of years of racism were themselves racist — and, ironically, was allowed to suggest that problems that had their roots in racism were actually the results of the lesserness of other "cultures." The "end of racism" helped racism survive in dressed-up, yuppified form.

One ironic blessing of the Trump Era: Lots of folks don't feel the need to dress it up anymore. It's as out there as it's been in my lifetime.

"Angels With Dirty Faces": My Sad Tale

So about a year ago, I started thinking about the movie ANGELS WITH DIRTY FACES. I'd seen it as a kid — back when you could see old 1930s movies playing on local TV on Saturday afternoons — and the ending, with Jimmy Cagney pleading for his criminal life, made a big impression on me. Maybe my son would find it interesting too.

Only...

In this era of streaming video, this classic movie is ... completely unavailable for streaming. It's not available, for purchase anyway, on Amazon or iTunes, and it's not on the Hulu or Netflix libraries. It's what made me decide to buy a DVD player after years of being a streaming-only consumer.

So.

Today, I go to my local video store — Lawrence has one, still! — find the movie in the classics section, rent it and bring it home.

Tonight, my wife and I sit down to watch it. Get about a half-hour in — to a critical, can't-skip scene where Cagney's character meets the Dead-End Kids, and it freezes, utterly.

So. The movie still isn&…

Netflix Queue: "The Lobster" and Our Authoritarian Age

Three thoughts about THE LOBSTER just as soon as I poke my eye out with a sharp stick. (Warning, some mild spoilers may be ahead.)



• The trailer of this movie doesn’t really capture the overall dystopian vibe — you might think you’re getting an eccentric romantic comedy, something like ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND, but this is more of a grim LOGAN’S RUN. The conceit: Instead of aging, it’s singlehood that society abhors. Singles of a certain age — whether they get there through spinsterhood, widowership or a good old-fashioned breakup — are brought to a hotel where they’re given 45 days to find a mate … or else they’ll be turned into the animal of their choosing. Colin Farrell, our protagonist, says he’ll choose to be a lobster. “That’s a good animal,” the hotel manager tells him. Everybody else, she says, wants to be a dog. That’s why there are so many dogs in the world.

• His choice of animal aside, there are other clues that Farrell doesn’t fit in. Asked to choose betwee…

His Name Is Donald Trump. Keep Saying It.

I've seen this piece of "resistance" advice passed around in my precincts of the Internet, so I might as well address a problem I have with it.

I really hate item No. 1, and in fact I think it's wrong and pernicious.
There's two ways to view the de-naming effort, and I don't like either of them.

The first is that Trump has become Voldemort, and that we don't say his name because we fear him. Which, at this stage of things, is cowardly. He doesn't deserve that.

The second is that Trump's opponents, by trying to de-name him, are trying to de-person him. It's a technique that's more than a little authoritarian, and it suggests that those opposing Trump may end up becoming the thing they hate in opposing him. In which case, the resistance is no better than what it tries to replace.
Donald Trump is a lot of things. He's a fool and a boob, a vainglorious authoritarian who deserves to be mocked. He's also a person. It makes him a more conv…