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Demonstrating Against Trump by Demonstrating Against America: What could go wrong?

A quick recap
Inappropriate police violence exists in the United States. Black people are on the receiving end of a lot of it. A lot of people are upset about this.

One of them is Colin Kaepernick, a millionaire ex-San-Francisco starting quarterback. To protest police violence, he quietly kneeled during the national anthem. Many people did not like this. As a result, no team has been willing to take him on as a player, and he is effectively unemployed despite being better than most starting quarterbacks for most teams.

Other people have kneeled including at least a gaggle of people on the Cleveland Browns. People are further upset by this.

Trump
Donald Trump in Huntsville, Alabama:

Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say ‘get that son of a b*tch off the field right now – he’s fired.’ [sic]

The response
People have pointed out that Donald Trump is a hypocrite. For example, he criticized Barack Obama for opining that the Washington Redskins should change their name.

 

 

So, he’s been critical of Obama when he was asked to comment on sports as president but now that he is president he’s gone out of his way to advertise his opinions about the behaviors of specific players. People have pointed this out.

Someone familiar with the flag code points out that typical sporting events feature several violations of the flag code. These are behaviors that are specifically designated as disrespectful that many people who think of themselves as patriotic nevertheless do.

Additionally, he points out that kneeling during the national anthem is a conduct violation, not disrespect. In contrast, wearing the US flag as clothing, done by a number of people who think themselves patriots is considered disrespectful.

Donald Trump has thrown down a challenge to many players in the NFL. Several people are predicting that additional players on Sunday will kneel in support of their teammates right to free speech.

Where we Kneel
Scott Adams has called Trump a master persuader. As has always been Scott Adams’s strength and weakness, he fits this theory into situations where it doesn’t belong even as it is based on a kernel of truth.

Unfortunately for people like me who would prefer for Trump to be exposed, I think Scott Adams is being proven right.

If additional players take knees, they will be doing so against Trump, but from the perspective of a viewer watching the games, they will be doing so against the United States of America. We should be thankful every day regardless of who the president is that America is not her president, but that knowledge is rapidly being eroded.

This is intentional. Look at the Trump campaign hats.

The man may be in love with himself like no one else on this planet, but notice he was still smart enough to keep his own name off hats whose purchase literally supports him.

Liberals could not do the same today, and this is bad. We need to remember that Ta-Nehisi Coates did not win the prior presidency. Barack Obama did. And Obama was an optimist on America. In the face of turning over the White House to Donald Trump he dared say this to Ta-Nehisi Coates’s face:

To be optimistic about the long-term trends of the United States doesn’t mean that everything is going to go in a smooth, direct, straight line,” he said. “It goes forward sometimes, sometimes it goes back, sometimes it goes sideways, sometimes it zigs and zags.

If you spend time on the left half of Twitter, it’s very easy to feel that optimism “about the long-term trends of the United States” is lacking and perhaps vanished entirely when Obama finished packing his last suit.

In contrast, for the right, Making America Great Again is a worthy project. Yes, it lacks any sort of substance, but it uses the words Great and America and sounds like an action, and that’s enough to give some people goosebumps.

Who Owns America?
America the brand is thoroughly owned by the right.

I live in a liberal city. When I see an American flag at a residence here, I think “oh, there’s a Trump supporter.” And I think I’m more often than not correct. I don’t think I’ve even seen hipsters try to fly the flag ironically. That would be a bridge too far for them. Flag-waver is an insult.

I don’t know why it has to be this way. The national anthem doesn’t have anything to do with police brutality. It’s just that if you are a football player, there are relatively few ways to make your message heard over everyone else. Kaepernick found a way, but it was a way that unfortunately makes it seem like supporting Black Lives Matter is somehow anti-American when the movement needs people to feel the opposite.

A Way Out
I don’t know how to get out. What I do know is that when people choose to resist Trump by demonstrating in ways that seem more against America than against him, it will coincide precisely with the branding message in his $40 campaign hats.

I have spent many years of my life dreaming of being an NFL player. Tomorrow, I will be thankful I am not one.


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Vikram Bath is the pseudonym of a former business school professor living in the United States with his wife, daughter, and dog. (Dog pictured.) His current interests include amateur philosophy of science, business, and economics. Tweet at him at @vikrambath1. ...more →

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297 thoughts on “Demonstrating Against Trump by Demonstrating Against America: What could go wrong?

  1. Only thing is that history has shown America doesn’t treat what would be deemed as patriotic protest to racism kindly either.

    No one was more at risk of experiencing violence and targeted racial terror than black veterans who had proven their valor and courage as soldiers during the Civil War, World War I, and World War II. Because of their military service, black veterans were seen as a particular threat to Jim Crow and racial subordination. Thousands of black veterans were assaulted, threatened, abused, or lynched following military service.

    https://eji.org/reports/online/lynching-in-america-targeting-black-veterans

    or even more modern examples of being a part of what’s widely considered an unassailable group among the very folks who have a problem with these protests.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/26/us/saint-louis-black-officer.html?mcubz=1

    When folks feel as if there is literally no shield they can wrap themselves in that will protect them against an arbitrary visit of violence upon their person sanctioned by the state it becomes really tough to see an argument that will sway folks not previously convinced.

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  2. I strongly dissent against this essay:

    1. When Trump debuted his MAGA hats, a lot of people saw it as a harking back to Jim Crow America especially combined with his decades long evidence trail of racist statements and behavior in both his private and professional life.

    2. Sam is absolutely correct when we need to hammer the fact in that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by over 2 million votes and Trump won mainly because the antiquated and anti-democratic electoral college gives disproportionate power to rural and conservative states. I will concede that the chances of abolishing the electoral college are slim to none.

    There has been something bugging me over the past few years and that is wrapped up by this sentence:

    “America the brand is thoroughly owned by the right.”

    This seems like giving up and concession more than something that is objectively true. A lot of right-wingers would like this to be true and act as if it is true but what I wonder is why so many people on the left are just going to concede the point without argument. I still like this blog a lot but it has been rather frustrating since Trump won because there is seemingly no way to call him a bigot or a racist here despite the fact that Trump has a decades long trail of racist statements and actions.

    When I read essays like this, I wonder if I stepped into an alternate universe where Trump won a landslide victory with 60 percent of the popular vote and an electoral college blow-out like FDR in 36, Johnson in 64, Nixon in 72, and Reagan in 84. He didn’t.

    I think a lot of HRC hate is massively undeserved but I won’t pretend she is Ms. Popularity, she wasn’t. But Trump is massively unpopular and disliked among a majority of Americans. He has a hardcore base of supporters who will love and defend him until the end but they are not a majority. Maybe they can carry him to a second term in 2020, maybe they cannot.

    The right are not more patriotic or American than the left. I will not concede them this point and I don’t think you should either. I don’t think the athletes hate America, I think they want America to be better.

    I have a feeling that people here see me as strident and sometimes overly emotional but I am not going to concede to a world where people like Steve Bannon own what it means to be American.

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    • , this baffles me: “there is seemingly no way to call him a bigot or a racist here despite the fact that Trump has a decades long trail of racist statements and actions.”

      Your editors and plenty of people on the masthead call him a racist on the regular, in the comments and in featured posts. Not everyone agrees that he’s a racist, not everyone believes that his racism is the driving factor behind his oceans of screwed-up-ness, and we’re not willing to say people can treat people who don’t see that he’s a racist however they want because of it. But how is that “no way to call him a bigot or a racist here”? Because you have to put up with people disagreeing with you?

      Do you realize that the person who was most insistent about there being no proof that Trump is racist literally got banned from commenting for refusing to stop trolling people, after claiming that no one ever let him express himself on this topic? He’s banned! Not just suspended, but banned, and if you think there aren’t plenty of commenters on this site who think he was banned for disagreeing that Trump is a racist – which, btw, he wasn’t, he was banned for trolling and for keeping bringing it up over and over in a deliberately provocative way – you’ve got your head in the sand.

      What more do you want, for there to be a “way to call him a bigot or a racist”? Jeez!

      As for Vikram’s post, in my reading, it’s (among other things) about how troubling it is that the left has conceded patriotism to the right, not about him personally advocating for giving up on it, so dissenting from his post on the grounds that he’s giving up on it isn’t particularly logical either.

      Most of your comment is pretty great, here, but dude, some of the stuff you say just makes no sense to me.

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      • I agree in general with your response to Saul. However i’ll just note that Hillary kept up with the “America is pretty great already” stuff while Trump often and in different ways went with ” America is a smoking crater of despair” kinda stuff. It was a weird kind of patriotism at best.

        The left, as in the actual left, has never been big on flag waving and jingoism. But it’s not like there hasn’t been a distinct thread of flag waving “this is why America is great” stuff usually based around the success of immigrants and the social progress of gay folk.

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          • Yup. Just calling being able to call Trump something here isn’t productive or all that useful here. Sure i would probably agree with most negative things said about him, but i would have agreed 20 years ago. It might be the start of a conversation to point out specific actions, or tweets since that is the bulk of his actions, to criticize in specific ways. Avoid the generalizations and sweeping insults.

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        • I agree with this. Trump’s campaign was dark and largely engineered by Miller and Bannon to be as such.

          One of the things I’ve discovered over the past few months is that a lot of people have a hard time distinguished between liberals and/or the left or they just are too lazy to do so. Liberalism is not leftism. They are rather different philosophies but then you have people who think all Democrats are secret antifa members or some such,

          But I’ve seen plenty of center-left folks post positively gooey patriotic stuff all over social media.

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      • I dunno.

        I’ve seen so much here, reflecting a trend in the broader culture, where people are very interested, across the political spectrum, in explaining conservatives or Trump voters to liberals, and portray them in a sympathetic light, often, to be fair, with an eye to tactics: “This is why they’re upset! This is why talking about how racist Trump is is a bad move! If you don’t understand their sense of alienation you’ll never persuade them!”

        I haven’t seen a tenth as much aimed at conservatives, even anti-Trump conservatives, that says, “This is why people on the left are scared and angry! This is why they keep talking about how racist Trump is! If you don’t understand their sense of alienation you’ll never persuade them!”

        I’m not faulting Vikram for this, nor the other individual writers here and elsewhere. People are going to write what they’re gonna write and some of the pieces have been good and insightful.

        But the cumulative effect is still pretty bothersome. And it still adds up to a sense that all the responsibility for being mature, and conciliatory, and empathetic, and persuasive, falls on the left by default.

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        • I can only speak for myself on this one, and not for our writers, but the reason *I* focus on the center-left through fairly-darn-left is that I am biased against American conservatives, in general, and thus hold out little hope that most of them will listen to those arguments. This applies even to the people I care about who are… defensive… about Trump while not agreeing with him.

          Where I do think they will listen, I do make that argument. I have made it, for example, to my mother-in-law, more than once, and long before Trump was running for president. I make it to conservatives here sometimes. I make it about leftist college students, to older adults on both the left and the right, all the time. I have made it, in the past, to some of my friends who are now down in the trenches yelling at their gun buddies about Trump, and I flatter myself that the arguments I had with them helped in some sense.

          But I have basically zero hope that there is any point in making that argument to conservatives en masse. Because I don’t think most of them, en masse, are currently capable of hearing it. If they were, they wouldn’t have primaried someone I find so abhorrent in the first place.

          I tried to write a political post to conservatives about why the left was so scared and angry, and it ended up that I couldn’t bear to do it, because I didn’t think they were going to hear it, I didn’t trust them to respond with civility, and it turned out I wasn’t actually ready to offer up my childhood on the altar of MAGA if it wasn’t going to matter very much. So I ended up writing this instead, without any of the political references, in the hopes that even though it wasn’t explicitly a political argument, some of the resonances might change some people’s votes. A couple of the emails I received reflected that the resonances were there for those readers, though obviously not for everybody (and it’s just one post on one website, right? not a big effect even if everyone felt it the way I wanted them to). That was the bravest I could be back then, and it took all my efforts to do that much. Talking to people that I expect to personally hate me, hate my friends more, and express that in ways glaring and subtle *is hard*.

          So for me at least, it has nothing to do with who *should have to* bear responsibility, and everything to do with who I have *any hope* will act responsibly. (Again, en mass, not all conservatives, there are plenty of people involved with this site who are not that way, etc.) Because someone needs to be the grown-up, and I have zero hope that the Republican Party will be that grown-up.

          I do find this perception of mine worrisome – I mean, it’s the myth of male weakness for Republicans after all – but, despite objecting to the myth of male weakness for a long long list of reasons, I also tend to focus on what women can do for each other when I work on feminism, rather than on what men can do for women and for each other, most of the time. Because “what men can do” is still, IME, pretty confusing for most people and still a lot less developed. Also kind of not my problem. (It kind of is my problem, but my gender identity is not the point of this example.) It’s the same sort of thing here.

          Adding to that, I think there’s a confirmation bias, where folks on the right grouse about how all this site ever runs is condemnations of the right (we even put an SJW in charge of moderation for Pete’s sake!), and folks on the left grouse about how all this site ever runs is sympathy for and strategies to use on the right. And this applies to the larger culture as much as it does here…

          Plus for me I’ve already had so many experiences (bad and good) that lie well outside what most people are willing to consider as normal, independent of politics, I don’t see how I can expect to reach people who don’t already more or less agree with me on the issues … expect maybe by demonstrating the empathy and respect I want them to have for me.

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          • The essay I link to above is awfully long, even without the Trump-related parts, so in case anyone is curious but doesn’t want to read all that, here is the Trump-related (and, as it happens, Pulse-massacre-related) part that stayed in the final draft:

            ” So when I think about this problem, the problem of terrifyingly violent people who are not always terrifying, who competently cover up their rage, woo spouses, raise children, keep their criminal records clean, pass psych evals, get jobs where they’re in a position of trust – and yet who are capable of being so abysmally violent – the people who won’t change if they get sober, who aren’t just in need of some frank talk, therapy, and meds to make it so they never hurt anyone again – the people who live among us, love some of us, value their connection to society, and yet could so easily commit murder … When I think about this problem and try to figure out what the fuck I even might posit we’re all supposed to do about it, I always find myself at a loss.”

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            • Also, as it may be clear, when I talk about how to talk to conservatives, I feel that I”m talking about how to rescue them. How to rescue them from their own fucked-up version of reality, the one where some rich and powerful terrifyingly selfish people have convinced them any of those assholes are on their side – not that the rich and powerful left elite are any more on their (our) side – even my beloved Barack Obama doesn’t seem to have cared to resist blowing up all kinds of brown people in the Middle East who never hurt anybody, though I might be wrong about what was going on there – but at least those people, the almighty forces of greed on the left, are the ones who are *willing to negotiate*, and have *on average* less poison and more kindness running in their veins than the other side’s powerful abominations do. Which makes them easier to negotiate with I guess?

              To me, “rescuing conservatives” is the same sort of project as rescuing my sister from my dad, and when still-humane conservatives do irrational things like vote for Trump or demand random people get blamed, fired, etc. for speaking the truth, it’s not a matter of placating them – you never *agree* with the twisted reality you’re trying to rescue people from – but of being willing to put up with a lot of bad behavior on their side if it gets me and them and all of us to a better place eventually.

              Not everybody gets that grace. People can (and have) put themselves way outside my ability to forgive their bad actions. But usually, for your garden variety Trumpers and defensive conservatives, I see them as trapped by the same vicious people who want to hurt me, and I’d like for them to find a way out of it if they can. Not just for reasons of tactics, but also because *we should be on the same side * and I want them to find their way out. (Which is different from believing in the same solutions to problems, of course – my siblings and I are not at all political carbon copies of each other.) Hell, I’d welcome Ivanka, Melania, or any other of Trump’s immediate family members, if I thought they’d really broken free (and Barron before that, because he’s still a little kid).

              FWIW this doesn’t make me very popular with conservatives either – plenty of them think I’m condescending, unfair, a “busybody” as I’ve been called on this very site, etc. And I can see how they would think that. But it’s the place my life experiences have led me to, and it’s where I’m going to keep acting from.

              OK, that’s more than enough of a speech from me. I’m sure at least one editor is thinking “I thought you were going to moderate and not so much POST ESSAYS IN THE COMMENTS,” when they read this. I hope it does something to explain the phenomenon though.

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          • @maribou:

            I can only speak for myself on this one, and not for our writers, but the reason *I* focus on the center-left through fairly-darn-left is that I am biased against American conservatives, in general, and thus hold out little hope that most of them will listen to those arguments. This applies even to the people I care about who are… defensive… about Trump while not agreeing with him.

            Right, and I get the impression that lots of people on the center-left through not-so-center-left feel that way. They perceive, with justification, that they’re unlikely to be heard with any degree of sympathy on the right, so they pitch things to their own tribe about how to deal with the right. It makes perfect sense.

            But then, there are also several more right-leaning commentators who are every bit as skeptical of Trump as you or I, and when it comes time for them to write their pieces… they also tell liberals (who are much less clearly members of their tribe) what they need to do to deal with the right.

            The net effect is one of scolding, even if most individual writers don’t intend that.

            So for me at least, it has nothing to do with who *should have to* bear responsibility, and everything to do with who I have *any hope* will act responsibly. (Again, en mass, not all conservatives, there are plenty of people involved with this site who are not that way, etc.) Because someone needs to be the grown-up, and I have zero hope that the Republican Party will be that grown-up.

            Yeah, and this seems like a very serious problem. Nobody expects the Republican Party to be grownups, so why should they change?

            And really, this is the same movement that’s spent my whole life haranguing liberals for having no sense of personal responsibility, being disloyal to the country, and having a complete lack or moral clarity. I’ll be damned if I start grading them on the curve now.

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          • This applies even to the people I care about who are… defensive… about Trump while not agreeing with him.

            That is a weird phenomenon, and I don’t understand it even though it applies to me. I didn’t vote for the guy, I believe he is in power because of his xenophobic, racist, and misogynist appeals. He represents, for me the worst kind of mobocracy. While in a pedantic sense I wonder if he’s too narcissistic or too fallen even to be called a racist, I don’t in theory have any particular problem with stating he’s a racist.

            And yet, I get defensive when I’m around people online and in person who criticize him, even though I agree with most, almost all, of their criticisms. A person on another blog I read suggested that maybe it’s a problem with my ego and I need to let that go. She might be right, but it’s hard to do.

            Sometimes, I think it’s a good start just to name it and be aware of it. Maybe it is a good start, but it’s hard to find a forum to do so. And maybe I shouldn’t have a forum. Maybe I should just explore it in my diary or on my personal blog. (And I feel at least a little inconsiderate bringing it up now in this sub-thread.) I say that because when I look into Mr. Trump’s alleged appeal, I find it’s weighted preponderantly on a dangerous reactionary impulse, informed and fed by white supremacy. And any effort by me to “explore” it can be just an occasion to voice things that I oughtn’t say because even to say them will hurt people whom I don’t want to hurt and who don’t deserve it.

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        • 1. Because the right somehow managed to win even when they alienated everyone who wasn’t white. If they had lost, the ought to be having that conversation. Ross Douthat et al probably would have said something along those lines.

          2. Sad to say, only one side (or more accurately, only some people on one side) is (at least notionally) committed to justifying political authority to everyone. Or at least one side was supposed to be. After Clinton’s basket of deplorables, I don’t know where the Rawlsian political liberals are anymore.

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            • Right, but he also thinks that the fact that the GOP is in power and can’t govern to save their lives (or the country) is the fault of liberals, and certainly not the Republicans in power or the people who vote for them.

              He’s a conservative. Why isn’t he telling other conservatives to grow up and stop wringing their hands and voting for complete asshats out of spite over liberal cultural hegemony instead of rolling around in simulated agony like a soccer player who got tapped on the shoulder over a couple wedding cakes?

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                  • I like that even better. It comes from a good ‘merkin sport and carries connotations of both lack of proper manhood and general foreign-ness which will make it sting for just the sort of person who needs that sting.

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                • That was a pretty great analogy, far more pungent and convincing (at least for me).

                  As for the other part, I think it’s because *he’s given up on his own party, whether or not he’s admitting it*.

                  A lot of the conservative writers who post here have also *given up on their own party* (insofar as they were ever comfortable with Republicans, which is only just barely for most of them, Scotto being perhaps the exception).

                  I think “OK, that 25 percent of the population is now certifiable (aside: I myself am certifiable), let’s talk to everyone else about how to get them back on the side of humanity” is a … rational response to electing Trump. Certainly not the only rational response, but in terms of effectiveness, when someone is having a full-on manic episode, one doesn’t try to talk them down, one figures out how to get them to the hospital or one figures out how to work around it and keep them safe. I’d actually like to see more “get out the vote” and “connect with the disaffected middle who weren’t Republicans and don’t see the difference” posts, myself, but as a non-citizen I’m not about to write them.

                  (Aside: I can, once again, TOTALLY see how this comes off as ridiculously condescending to conservatives. My siblings and I used to have fights about giving each other advice about how to deal with my dad, and I’m not talking just as children. But I’m not going to be dishonest, and if you voted for Trump or think he should still in some sense be supported, I see you as needing an intervention. It just is what it is.)

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          • After Clinton’s basket of deplorables, I don’t know where the Rawlsian political liberals are anymore.

            What? This is nuts.

            Also, how the fuck are we supposed to “justify political authority for everyone” when one party decided [1] that the last President lacked legitimate political authority because of some stupid racist bullshit conspiracy theory about birth certificates.

            [1] Trump’s nomination proves that Birtherism really is the Republican Party’s position as a whole. And the fact that Mitt Romney sought has endorsement in 2012 really should have dispelled that doubt much sooner.

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            • Also, how the fuck are we supposed to “justify political authority for everyone” when one party decided [1] that the last President lacked legitimate political authority because of some stupid racist bullshit conspiracy theory about birth certificates.

              Are they or are they not moral agents? If they are, they can be reasoned with. If not, they are some kind of sociopath or other kind of morally damaged monster. Not genuinely entitled to be treated in the same way you treat a fellow moral agent.

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          • “Win” is doing a lot of heavy lifting. He won because of the anachronistic electoral college which is nearly impossible to get rid of. I wince when people say Trump won because it gives an air of legitimacy.

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            • Yeah, I mean we have an electoral system that marginalizes the votes of a lot of people in a lot of ways, and while some of that (like the EC and the Senate) is baked into the fundamental structure of our Constitution, a lot of it is in defiance of the Constitution and basic rights. While you certainly can’t blame the Constitutional flaws on the GOP (which didn’t exist in even the most tenuous sense when the Constitution was adopted), they blame by far the lion’s share of the blame for ongoing problems with infringement of people’s voting rights.

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            • For a lot of republicans that “win” is enough. Even if it seems like a stupid fluke (and probably is a stupid fluke). If their strategy gets their president into power regardless of popular vote and they have a majority in both houses, they can in principle get their shit done. Fortunately they’re incompetent at actually getting shit done. But that may change.

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              • Fortunately they’re incompetent at actually getting shit done. But that may change.

                Actually, in a weird way, their inability to pass legislation is not that they are incompetent, the problem is that they, at some level, are still too competent.

                Let’s take as a premise that what they want to do is, on average, unpopular: In the past they have gotten around this by making sure it was focused, as much as possible, on the politically powerless, or at least only liberals, or at least people who might look like liberals.

                But they have become too incompetent at writing legislation to do that. Which is really weird because this is the place you expect conservative think tanks to start writing bills, and they’re not stepping in. I do not know why that isn’t happening, I don’t know why they didn’t have some Obamacare replacement ready to go, I have no explanation there.

                So, anyway, because Republican pols are incompetent, they end up writing legislation that is fairly harmful for everyone, instead of just very harmful for the poor.

                Additionally, the left is actually paying attention at this point, and this is the first time the Republicans have had to govern during Internet News. (The end of Bush also hit that, and they didn’t get a lot done there either.)

                But Republican officials are also incompetent in an entirely different way, and here is where they are not incompetent enough: They do not understand exactly how unpopular what they are trying to do is. They have fully submerged themselves in their own bubble, something like half their elected officials are completely disconnected from reality.

                But…not…quite enough. There are people who are slightly too competent, aka, slightly too aware. For example, the Republican Senators who oppose this newest Zombie RepublicanCare(1) know exactly what it would result in, and that’s why they are opposing it instead of their made-up reasons.

                I don’t like John McCain, and I don’t like Paul Ryan, but they are, at some level, actually competent politicians, and they are what is causing the Republican party from being unable to enact their Really Stupid Ideas(TM).

                This, incidentally, is why I’m not really that concerned that the bills keep being blocked by ‘one vote’. There are at least ten sane Republican Senators in there, and I’m pretty sure they’re just drawing straws to jump on the grenade. (Except McCain, who is angling to be remembered as the guy who saved health care.)

                1) I refuse to call it TrumpCare, and I urge everyone else to refuse also. When Trump vanishes down the memory hole of crappy presidents, and the Republicans disavow him, I don’t want everyone to go ‘Oh, and I guess that includes his crappy healthcare bill also’. This is a Republican bill, period, end of story. It hangs around the neck of the Republican party, not Trump.

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                • Another way to look at it is through Lee’s analogy. The modern GOP has all the elements of a revolutionary vanguard. They are convinced of their rightness, their moralness, and the pureness of their cause. Hence, nothing will stop them until they get their desire.

                  I suspect what you see as features in McCain and Paul, they see as bugs. That is practical politics are a bug to them. What counts is the revolutionary vanguard of sticking to your guns. IIRC there were studies that showed Republican voters rewarded sticking to your guns and Democratic voters rewarded compromise to get results.

                  I also think you are partially wrong because one area where the GOP (or one group within the GOP) really succeeds is with lifetime judiciary appointments. IIRC Bill Mahr asked Ralph Reed how the Moral Majority could align with Trump and Reed’s answer was basically “Goresuch.”

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                  • Republicans are also a revolutionary vanguard party because they seek to completely defeat those that they identify as their political enemies. Politics is war by another name to them and the enemy must be defeated on the field of battle. Totally eliminated, whipped out.

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                    • I know a lot of Republicans and almost none of them want to totally eliminate the enemy in the way you describe. Those are the kinds of generalizations I think we can do without around here. At least unless you want to back them up with some pretty solid citations. Or be more specific than “Republicans”.

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                  • I suspect what you see as features in McCain and Paul, they see as bugs. That is practical politics are a bug to them. What counts is the revolutionary vanguard of sticking to your guns. IIRC there were studies that showed Republican voters rewarded sticking to your guns and Democratic voters rewarded compromise to get results.

                    …I didn’t call those ‘features’.

                    McCain and Paul are competent at a bad thing, namely, getting themselves and other Republicans elected so that they can pass crappy legislation by knowing the edges of the crappy legislation they can get through and still get reelected, and when it goes too far.

                    I’m not praising them for that, anymore than I praise a successful shoplifter.

                    I also think you are partially wrong because one area where the GOP (or one group within the GOP) really succeeds is with lifetime judiciary appointments. IIRC Bill Mahr asked Ralph Reed how the Moral Majority could align with Trump and Reed’s answer was basically “Goresuch.”

                    Bill Mahr should have asked Ralph Reed how the Moral Majority can align with the casino-backing money-laundering lying scumbag Ralph Reed. Oh, right, they don’t anymore. Woo! (Sorry, I just really hate Ralph Reed, who hung around on my local scale long after he had been discredited nationally.)

                    But, anyway, I don’t see what your point has to do with anything I said. Murali said the GOP was incompetent at passing legislation, and I pointed out that they’re really just incompetent at writing it, whereas their inability to pass it is actually a weird, almost vestigial competency because that would be horrifyingly bad for their party.

                    I have no comment on their competency in other areas, although I will suggest that their abortion fixation is never going to work out how they want.

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        • And it still adds up to a sense that all the responsibility for being mature, and conciliatory, and empathetic, and persuasive, falls on the left by default.

          Well, the democrats often act like they are the only mature adults in the room. If the assumption is true, then they are the only mature adults and we cannot reasonably expect republicans to take responsibility. If the assumption is false, then the democrats really shouldnt be acting all superior.

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          • This is pretty silly. If the Democrats were literally the only mature adults in the room, the problem would solve itself as no Republicans would meet the eligibility requirements for their offices.

            Of course, what is actually meant is that Republican officeholders do not act like adults, and we as a country have decided we should just go along with this for some reason.

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            • I wasn’t speaking literally either. At some point, if someone (even though they are literally mature adults) just don’t care in some fundamental sense about reconciliation or getting actual stuff done, then it seems very weird to actually blame them in any significant way. I suppose there is some way in which they might be blameworthy since they really ought to know better (and perhaps in principle can know better) But if, within certain constraints cannot know better vis a vis governing etc it seems pretty strange to expect that they will know better.

              If they could (within whatever relevant constraints) could know better, but they aren’t that cries out for some explanation. Saying that republicans are uniquely amoral is just another way of saying that they really cannot know better. What that leaves us with is the bare fact of moral disagreement. How ought you to treat political equals who disagree with you?

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                • There is a tiny hole to thread there but in a pluralistic society, about the only thing that is not excusable is the violation of some set of basic rights. Anything more can only happen between more like-minded individuals. So no, you don’t get anarchy (At least I hope to successfully argue this in my thesis), but you dont get anything past the most uncontroversial bits of commonsense morality either.

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                  • This isn’t getting any less weird. Pluralism hardly precludes moral judgement, it just precludes some reactions to moral judgement.

                    Though I’d be more than willing to stand by the argument that the immaturity on display really does jeopardize certain fundamental rights, as the protest in question is against police regularly killing (mostly) African American (mostly) men without justification, in violation of their rights to life and due process. And the Republican President who is condemning their protests is openly hostile to such rights, as he has made clear on many occasions.

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      • As someone who was suspended this past week for saying Trump is an ultra-Zionist, which is the diametrical opposite of white supremacist, said to refute the assertion that he’s a white supremacist, I agree with Maribou’s point.

        Many on the far left are as convinced that Trump is a white supremacist or a racist in the same way that some on the far right were convinced that Obama was a Marxist Muslim, a disciple of Saul Alinsky who was devoted to a Leninist/Stalinist revolution. Pointing out that Obama’s cabinet was chosen by Goldman Sachs wouldn’t shake the true birthers because a contradiction of their worldview was a contradiction to their worldview, and that contradiction was flatly rejected as trolling.

        Valerie Plame, hero of liberals, pretty much agrees with David Duke’s viewpoint on Jews being warmongers who control the US government, whereas Trump might as well be a Bibi Netanyahu clone when it comes to protecting Israel.

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        • I would be vaguely curious about any liberals who still support Plame in general, with awareness of her remarks.

          But regardless, even if Trump himself were a (redacted by Maribou) Zionist, that wouldn’t magically prohibit ay possible white supremacy on his part. Yes, white supremacy is nearly coextensive with antisemitism, but they’re not synonymous.

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          • Also, quite a few hard right Zionists (especially in Israel)[1] have decided that white supremacists are not so bad, and the feeling is at least somewhat mutual. After all, if you hate Muslims, and you hate the way Jews are perpetrating #WhiteGenocide by secretly conspiring with feminists to criticize video games, what better solution is there but for all the Jews to go to Israel where they might just get caught up in a catastrophic war with their new Muslim neighbors?

            [1] I didn’t say these people were smart, or possessed of particularly keen moral judgement.

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            • Also, quite a few hard right Zionists (especially in Israel)[1] have decided that white supremacists are not so bad, and the feeling is at least somewhat mutual.

              I think the overlap, to the extent it exists, revolves around a shared conception that authoritarianism and state power are necessary instruments to achieve otherwise exclusionary cultural goals.

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              • Stillwater,
                Nope. It’s just “if these horrible people want to Give Us Money, who are we to not take it? Better they give us the money to move to israel, than they spend money on nuclear weapons to bomb the Middle east to Gehenna”

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          • We’re not going to speculate on what ifs about Trump being motivated by being Jewish, even in the best possible of intentions and a hypothetical that you don’t endorse. (I get that you’re responding to George and it’s not you, just letting you know why I redacted.)

            Rich bad white men being secretly Jewish is one of those ridiculously awful white supremacist tropes that predates America and flourished in the early 20th century before WW2, and we’re not going to do that, or even get close to it, on this site, regardless of anyone’s actually-not-that intentions.

            I’m not superthrilled with the “he’s practically a Zionist” argument being explored either but as long as the literal statements aren’t made (even as hypotheticals), I will just hang out and watch.

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            • Oddly enough, I long thought, to the limited extent that I thought about it all, that Trump was Jewish. He was a NYC real-estate developer (look at the names of the serious ones that really are what Trump pretended to be) and embodied many of the deplorable characteristics often attributed to Jews by anti-Semites.

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              • Well, I hope you realized once you thought about it that you were acting from a racial stereotype in making that assumption, and are stating it here so others can learn from your mistake. (Not to be snippy about it, I think that’s a valuable thing to do.)

                Whichever, let us stop talking about how Jewish Trump is or isn’t. Given that he isn’t. Given anti-semites’ obsession with perpetuating particular conspiracy theories.

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                  • Generally speaking if I suspend someone for stating something, and that person is then careful not to restate that thing, it’s a bit frustrating if a whole thread develops to discuss the various reasons why people think that thing / why they might think that thing / etc.

                    I’m not suspending anybody but I’d also rather the topic died a quiet death instead of being hashed over. And if it does get hashed over, I’m going to keep being super-boringly-obvious about the context of the topic until it’s done.

                    Have you seen much of the “the rich and powerful are all Jews” anti-semite literature? I used to work in a used bookstore, so I would occasionally run across stuff (we wouldn’t sell it, the only books we wouldn’t sell, if that gives you some idea), and it’s a pretty horrific area. I don’t want us *near* that area, like *in the same zipcode*, like in the same metro-conglomeration as that area – even when no one is talking about it in those terms.

                    I hope this helps you see why I was pointing out the obvious, but if it doesn’t, that’s okay too.

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        • I agree that Trump is a stone-cold Zionist. I think that there’s an element of Zionism that is racist – against Arab/Moslem/Palestinian peoples. It is, of course, more complicated than that.

          There are competing definitions of the phrase “white supremacist”. The more common, which you are likely familiar is used to describe people like David Duke and Richard Spencer. Of course, they claim that Trump is giving them everything they could ever ask for. But they perhaps should not be trusted.

          The other definition means something a bit more benign – it’s a belief that race means something and that some races rank higher than others in efficacy or value. So when Trump says he want the people who count his money to be those little Jewish guys with yarmulkes, that’s a page from the racial organization playbook.

          Yarmulke have nothing to do with honesty or accuracy in accounting. I have a little old gray-haired Portugese woman do my bookkeeping. She also happens to be a black-belt. I trust her with my life. Whether she’s a Portugese or female though, has not got a lot to do with it.

          So you will find lots of admiration in a white supremacist. Robert E. Lee loved his wife’s slaves, I’m sure. And he also signed the manifesto of the White Sulphur Springs manifesto, which held that black people were inferior to white and should go back to Africa.

          Meanwhile Trump wants to deport the 11 million Moslem immigrants, in the context of “making America great”. How is that not white supremacy? That he holds Jews in higher esteem that Moslems does not discredit the claim.

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          • And Arab nationalism/Political Islam is racist against Jewish people and in an explicitly eliminationist way many times,. None of the Arabs nationalists or Political Islamists had or have any room for the Jews in their cosmology except maybe as a minority that just happens to be there and living happy as second-class citizens under Arab or Muslim rule. There is a very big tendency on the Western Left to ignore this no matter how hard and loud they scream “No Israel, no Jews.” Its the Jews who get to be the racist ones because the Arabs and Muslims are consider to be on the Leftist side by default.

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              • You’re not adapting and you’re not trying nearly hard enough to adapt. Month suspension. I should probably ban you but you’re been around so long and contributed so much over the years that if that happens it will break my heart.

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                • Maribou,
                  That was a comment offered in good faith.
                  That was not a comment offered out of any position other that “Here is what my relatives are living, day to day.”

                  Above you spoke up for Damon for talking about what he encounters on a daily basis.

                  Sorry you don’t feel like my relatives in Israel are a credible source.

                  You could have asked for sources cited, which I could have amply provided.

                  But instead, you decided to ban me, for a month, for simply saying “Hey, this is what my Yemeni relatives have to deal with.”

                  I didn’t even bring up American Jews, though heaven knows I could.

                  In fact, before I go, I’ll just leave one more bon mot, about the brown skinned girl who didn’t know the n-word referred to her before she was 18. She knew the word shvartz though, and she tells of lying down in the street waiting for a car to run her over, she was so depressed just getting through school, day by day.

                  So, yes, I’m out of here. Dunno if it’ll be permanently or not, but it’s quite apparent that you’re not willing to set rules that will apply to everyone equally.

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                  • I actually believe you were acting in good faith, or I would have gone straight to a ban. It’s what you’re saying that’s the problem, not why you are saying it. If you had said what you say here in the comment I redacted, I wouldn’t have suspended you.

                    And you’re right that I don’t set rules that apply to everyone equally. I try to be extremely context-dependent and take communication difficulties, past history, etc., into account, because I think that’s actually more fair than rules-lawyering. In your case, that has resulted in you being given a lot more slack than most people.

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        • Trump is an ultra-Zionist, which is the diametrical opposite of white supremacist,

          Trump is not a ultra-Zionist, anymore than he is white supremacist. He merely apparently surrounds himself with ultra-Zionists (By which I am assuming you mean supports hard-right and very stupid Israeli policies.) enough to sound like them…exactly like he surrounds himself with white supremacists enough to sound like them. Trump is merely repeating ideological talking points of whoever he spoke with last.

          Additionally, there is plenty of overlap between the two ideologies (Thinking Muslims are not people, for example.), and in fact there are versions of white supremacist that have very little problem with Jewish people. All white supremacists are not Neo-Nazis. And there are other versions of white supremacy that, while they have problems with Jews, would be perfectly fine with Jewish people if they were simply not in the US. (Which is something that some ultra-Zionists would not have a huge problem with.) Those two things are not as ideologically opposed as you have presented.

          Many on the far left are as convinced that Trump is a white supremacist or a racist

          While not a white supremacist, Trump is somewhat racist, and has expressed this many times in his own words. I’m not talking about him unknowingly repeating white supremacy stuff (Which is just because he’s a moron.), I mean things he really does seem to think.

          For one, he seems to be very hung up on him, and other people having good genes, in fact, he’s specifically said he has good German genes.(1) Note this is in the context of talking about ‘success in life’, not ‘health problems’.

          He’s also, at various times, set up his own staff so he doesn’t have to see people of color, occasionally telling management of his places to keep black staff out of his sight. He might legally have to hire them (or at least the government complains when he doesn’t), but he doesn’t want to see them.

          For another example, he’s often repeated ‘positive prejudices’ about Jews, assuming they are all very smart and craft people. Interestingly, this is often the same prejudice used by white supremacists, except they use it as a negative.(2) Either way, it is racist.

          This is not even getting into the various lawsuits about racial discrimination he’s been subject to. Or his idiotic comments about the Central Park Five after they had been cleared.

          Trump fundamentally has a racist viewpoint of the world, where people of different races are distinctly different and it’s entirely reasonable to make assumptions about people based on their race, and treat them differently due to that.

          He just doesn’t want to treat the different races as differently as a white supremacists want to.

          1) Which, once again, demonstrates that Trump has absolutely no concept of how to behave in society. ‘Good German genes’…really? Trump, you can’t think of any negative connotations about German claimed genetic superiority you, uh, might what to shy away from? Can’t think of anything at all? No? Well, okay then.

          2) I sorta get the idea that he has literally the same ideas about Jews as white supremacists, except he thinks being underhanded and tricking people and breaking deals are…good things. Just like white supremacists, he thinks Jews have an D&D alignment of Sociopathic Evil, but he is also Sociopathic Evil so thinks they’re awesome. Except in his mind he calls it ‘Shrewd Businessman’.

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          • You seem to know more about Trump’s inner beliefs than he does. I find that unlikely.

            How did he manage to find an entire staff that were both white supremacist and pro Israel? Is there some magic Rolodex somewhere in some secret chamber, or did Romney put together binders full of them?

            Does Ben Carson, HUD director, know he’s now a black white supremacist? Why is Trump’s most loyal staffer, Omarosa Manigault, black? Why is his UN ambassador Indian? (insert clip of Joe Biden 7/11 Joke) Does Taiwanese-born Elaine Chao, Trump’s Secretary of Transportation, know she’s a Zionist white supremacist? Does Cuban Alex Acosta, Secretary of Labor, know he’s a Zionist white supremacist?

            This all seems unlikely to me.

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            • You have a very reasonable point going on here, but David never said what you’re objecting to, about Trump’s entire staff. Your arguments will be more effective if you read a bit more carefully. (“Surrounds with… enough” != “surrounds with… entirely.”)

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            • You seem to know more about Trump’s inner beliefs than he does.

              How do you know what Trump knows about his inner beliefs?

              I gave examples of a pattern, times that Trump has said and done clearly racist things, and moreover clearly racist things that are not ‘accidentally retweeted a white supremacist meme’, but gave what appeared to be his honest beliefs, and those beliefs appear to be racist.

              This pattern spans basically his entire life, and the only way it has appears to have changed is that he (mostly) stopped doing various forms of illegal discrimination, but considering his statements remain the same, it seems likely he just got tired of being sued.

              You didn’t refute any of that. In fact, you haven’t even stated what you disagree with: Do you disagree that Trump keeps talking about his ‘good genes’ and how they caused his success in life and that this belief is so repeated over his entire life, and so consistent on his part that it has to be a fundmental part of his beliefs, or do you disagree that such talk is racist?

              How did he manage to find an entire staff that were both white supremacist and pro Israel? Is there some magic Rolodex somewhere in some secret chamber, or did Romney put together binders full of them?

              In addition to what Maribou pointed out, that ‘surrounds enough’ does not ‘mean everyone surrounding’, it also seems weird to claim his ‘entire staff’ is what is surrounding him.

              He very clearly does not pay any attention to a large segment of his staff.

              Meanwhile, he pay attention to a lot of people on not on his staff (And people previously on his staff who were let go for really good reasons.), so much so that the current chief of staff is trying to forcibly cut back on that.

              Does Ben Carson, HUD director, know he’s now a black white supremacist?

              Ben Carson is the best example of ‘treat people different due to their race’ I have ever seen. Ben Carson has literally no experience with housing or urban development or poverty or anything that a HUD director is supposed to be. Ben Carson is a doctor. I mean, I personally wouldn’t want to see him appointed to somewhere in Health and Human Services, or as the Surgeon General, but if he was going to be in the administration, that is where he logically would end up.

              Nope. It’s clear that Trump heard ‘The agency in charge of urban poverty’ and said ‘That seems like a good place to put a black dude’.

              Meanwhile, the idea that Ben Carson is one of the people ‘surrounding’ Trump is wrong. The HUD director doesn’t even interact with the president much normally, much less in this presidency where the cabinet barely seems to interact with him.

              Why is Trump’s most loyal staffer, Omarosa Manigault, black?

              Because her parents were black, presumably. Or at least one of them. I guess technically she’s black because she identifies as black and we see her that-

              Oh, wait, did you mean why is she his most loyal staff? Because he gave her basically her big break in celebrity.

              Wait, I guess you mean why does he have a black friend that he gave a job in the Office of Public Liaison?

              Because racist people can have black friends. Racial prejudice mostly applies to unknown people of that race…it is perfectly reasonable and happens all the time for racist people to get to know someone of the race and conclude ‘This person is one of the smart one’. (Or ‘one of the good ones’, or whatever is the opposite of whatever racist tripe they believe.)

              Does Taiwanese-born Elaine Chao, Trump’s Secretary of Transportation, know she’s a Zionist white supremacist? Does Cuban Alex Acosta, Secretary of Labor, know he’s a Zionist white supremacist?

              In addition to the obvious fact that I didn’t say all the people surrounding Trump are both those things, I have to point out that neither of those can possibly be considered ‘people who surround Trump’ anyway.

              There are presidents that confer with their cabinets on policy, there are presidents that keep their cabinet at arm’s length and basically expect them to implement the already-decided policy, and then there’s President Trump, who appears to not even understand why his cabinet exists at all, and does not even inform them of his actions before announcing them.

              Which we have a lot of evidence of, like the total confusion over the immigration ban, the total confusion over the transgender ban (Yes, that was the military, but he clearly doesn’t talk to them either.), the fact that foreign policy coming out of State and foreign policy coming out of the White House are totally disconnected, etc, etc.

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              • Okay, how about names of the actual white supremacists?

                Steve Bannon isn’t going to work, nor is Gorka. Bannon called white supremacists a fringe element of losers and clowns, and Gorka comes from the world of European counter terrorism. They’re also both gone.

                Mattis, Kelly, Dunford, or McMaster? They’re straight military men. If they were white supremacists do you think Obama would’ve kept them on?

                Don McGahn, the White House Council who had earlier been a Bush appointee to the FEC, is the one who recommended Acosta for the cabinet.

                Then you have Jared Kushner and Ivanka, who are obviously not white supremacists or Chelsea Clinton wouldn’t be best friends with them.

                There’s Dina Powell, Trump’s Deputy National Security Advisor, who’s probably not a white supremacist because she’s Egyptian, born in Cairo to Egyptian parents.

                There’s Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, from Russian Jewish stock. Gary Cohn is a very influential Trump advisor, serving as director of the National Economic Council, but he’s of Eastern European Jewish stock. I doubt either is a white supremacist.

                Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is a Catholic (one strike since the KKK preferred Jews over Catholics), but then he was a Democrat until last year, and he helped fund his ex-wife’s run for the Democratic nomination for the governor of New York before she switched to become the candidate for the New York Liberal party.

                Then there is Kellyanne Conway and Hope Hicks. Kellyann has been all over TV, so probably not a white supremacist or she wouldn’t keep getting invited back. Hope Hicks is Trump’s longest serving political aide and the current White House Director of Strategic Communications. She was the gatekeeper during the campaign and is the person who takes dictation for his tweets. She’s also a 28-year old fashion model from Connecticut.

                Maybe she’s the white supremacist. Perhaps the best way to find out is for one of us to get a date with her.

                I’m just not seeing these white supremacists who are surrounding Trump. That might mean they’re invisible ninjas, but I doubt there are many ninja white supremacists.

                Perhaps the whole thing is just a desperate talking point, kind of like the Russian conspiracy.

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                • “Obviously you’re not a white supremacist because you came from the world of ‘European counter-terrorism’,” is quite an argument.

                  Also, it’s pretty striking you got through all of that without mentioning Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

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                  • Until Trump nominated him for DoJ, Jeff Sessions was basically the black Jesus of race relations. Every black leader in his home state endorsed him and praised him. Nothing changed except Hillary’s talking points, and then everyone went scurrying for the exits.

                    Hillary is an actual racist who flings the N word. Her husband’s mentor signed the Southern Manifesto and filibustered the 1964 Civil Rights Act. He also campaigned with Confederate Flag buttons. She campaigned on “super predators” a code word for black males. Her husband put blacks in prison in unprecedented numbers. She calls Obama “that man” because she doesn’t want to speak his name. She goes into black churches and does some kind of impersonation of a person with a speech impediment because she thinks blacks are stupid.

                    Americans aren’t blind. That’s why they voted like they did.

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                • Listing a bunch of people who Trump does not listen to does not disprove anything I said. Trump…doesn’t listen to almost all those people. The only people I am aware he does listen to, out of all the ‘cannot be white supremists’ people you listed, are Jared and Ivanka Kushner, and…possibly Hope Hicks, I don’t know about her.

                  But as long as you dismiss the white supremacists with ‘isn’t going to work’, I guess I can’t respond. I mean, one cannot be a white supremacist in private and say things supporting them, but then openly disavow them when asked directly about them. Nor can Europeans be whites supremacists.

                  Wait, no, none of that makes sense.

                  For the record, here are some of the people that Trump listens to who happen to be white supremacists: Steve Bannon, Sebastian Gorka, Stephen Miller…and Roger Stone, who is not technically an advisor but one of the ‘friends’ that Trump talks to all the time.

                  Asserting that two of those are now gone doesn’t change anything…as I said, he’s still in communications with them, and additionally them being gone for a _month_ doesn’t magically undo how Trump talks about things.

                  But, hey, if your claim is ‘Trump is no longer surrounded by white supremacists and thus should soon stop occassionally sounding like them’, I’ll take it! Assuming he can stop following those sorts of people on Twitter, I guess.

                  This doesn’t change the fact that, as I said, he has, at his core, fundementally racist beliefs. White supremacacy is a specific sort of racism, and one Trump does not personally believe, even if, thanks to his friends, he often ends up repeating it. Trump is not a white supremacist, he just sometimes plays one on TV.

                  However, he’s said and done plenty of downright racist things entirely by himself, and repeatedly explained how his entire view of the universe works is that it is determined by people’s genetic potential.

                  That is, in fact, a form of racism, even if it seemingly allows black people to be included under people who have ‘good genes’. This is because while it seems neutralish and easy to agree with (Who hasn’t seen the children of people skilled at something also be skilled at that thing?), in the real world it quickly leads to people grouping people based on superficial genetic things…like skin color.

                  Once someone starts believing that outcomes are mostly due to genetics, and then look around and see that black people, statistically, are worse off than white people, the obvious conclusion ‘black people genes are not as good as white people genes at making money’ shows up.

                  And before they know it, they’re objecting to black accountants handling their money and insisting Jews do it. (A thing Trump has supposedly said.)

                  This form of thought, you might notice, does not preclude black people ‘overcoming their genetic handicap’ and becoming wealthy, or Trump befriending them if they do. It just means he has a bunch of implicit assumptions about on people based on their race, which is pretty much textbook racism.

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                  • or the record, here are some of the people that Trump listens to who happen to be white supremacists: Steve Bannon, Sebastian Gorka, Stephen Miller…and Roger Stone, who is not technically an advisor but one of the ‘friends’ that Trump talks to all the time.

                    Steve Bannon isn’t a white supremacist, he’s just white. The thinks white supremacists are fringe clowns because they are. Sebastian Gorka isn’t a white supremacist, he just holds the view that Islamic terrorism isn’t driven by poverty and bad government, it’s driven by some of the basic tenets of Islam. He is correct on that. Osama bin Laden wasn’t a poor man, he was an extremely rich man. This belief made Gorka extremely unpopular with academia, which can only understand things in terms of modern liberalism and which rejects the idea that religion is a real thing (other than a social grouping for the victimization scale).

                    Steve Miller is only 32 and is not a white supremacist, and he has disavowed white supremacists. He’s also Jewish, and made a mark by inviting David Horowitz to speak at his schools. Horowitz is Jewish and a former Stalinist, by the way.

                    Stone is a famous political operative and dirty trickster known to everyone. He has worked for Al Sharpton. Probably not a white supremacist. And of course Trump called him a stone cold loser.

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                    • Steve Bannon isn’t a white supremacist, he’s just white. The thinks white supremacists are fringe clowns because they are.

                      Steve Bannon is the person that took Breitbart News from…well, I don’t want to say respectable, but it used to be general Republican crackpottery.

                      Bannon turned it into the hive of racism it currently is.

                      And it’s worth pointing out that every instance we have of him calling those people ‘clowns’ and stupid and stuff is him admitting he’s deliberately manipulating white supremacists, which he appears to think are a bunch of morons.

                      I point out that ‘Steve Bannon isn’t actually a white supremacist, he just has created an entire movement around manipulation of white supremacist’ is a pretty crappy defense to my claim that Trump is surrounded by white supremacists.

                      But if you want, I will amend:
                      Trump is surrounded by people who sprout white supremacist nonsense, some of whom are true believer white supremacists and some who are trying to manipulate idiotic true believer white supremacists, and it is probably impossible to know which is which.

                      Stone is a famous political operative and dirty trickster known to everyone. He has worked for Al Sharpton. Probably not a white supremacist. And of course Trump called him a stone cold loser

                      Trump calls everyone a loser. That doesn’t change the fact Stone was a campaign adviser, and the only reason he doesn’t have any current official position in the White House is that he has done a lot of stuff that keeps people out of the White House (Unless they’re elected president, apparently) like offered to pay people money for punching Chris Matthews.

                      And Stone did not work for Sharpton. In fact, he later called Sharpton a ‘professional negro’ and, upon hearing that Sharpton went vegan, said ‘No more KFC’, which is, like, so old school racism you have to think about it for a moment.

                      Stone also wrote a book dedicated to, and using research from, Victor Thorn, a guy who also wrote ‘Of The Holocaust Hoax Exposed: Debunking The 20th Century’s Greatest Fabrication’. When this was pointed out he replied that he was ‘Very proud to have ace researcher Victor Thorn as a friend of mine.’.

                      Hell, Glenn Beck has called him racist and the worse person in the world.

                      So it’s pretty unquestionable that Roger Stone is pretty damn racist, so racist that his own side keeps calling him racist. However, is he a white supremacist?

                      I dunno. But, again, this is one of those ‘not actually a victory’ wins…the fact that some of the racists surrounding Trump might just be garden variety super-racists and not white supremacist is, uh, still not particularly good.

                      Sebastian Gorka isn’t a white supremacist, he just…

                      …wears a medallion from Vitezi Rend, a group that is so associated with Nazis that foreigners literally cannot visit this country if they are a member under the ‘no Nazis’ rule. Sebastian Gorka, of course, claims he’s not a member, only his father is…he just proudly wears a medal from them.

                      Sebastian Gorka is, flatly, a white supremacist. Not pretending to be one like Bannon possibly is, and not possibly just influenced by them like Miller, but a real actual one.

                      Steve Miller is only 32 and is not a white supremacist, and he has disavowed white supremacists.

                      I find myself completely baffled as to why you think talking about how young someone somehow proves they are not a white supremacist.

                      Steve Miller is, however, the best possible objection you have, as it actually seems likely that he, like Trump, is just picking up racist terminology from his surroundings, like that time he complained about Jim Acosta’s ‘cosmopolitan bias’ (Traditional code for ‘Jewish’.), and that time he pointed out that the poem at the base of the statue of liberty was not part of it originally. (Which is pretty much just a white supremacist talking point…the rest of the country pretty much accepts that poem that was written for it and has been on the thing for 90% of its existence is part of the Statue of Liberty.)


                      So, to teal deer this: We have, in my list of four white supremacist, 1) Stone, who is often openly racist towards blacks and hangs out with anti-Semites, but might not actually be a white supremacist, 2) Gorka, a guy who is, flatly, a fricking Nazi sympathizer, 3) Bannon, a guy who has stoked white supremacy with Breitbart News but might just be using white supremacy to tear down the state (Which is his stated goal.), and 4) Miller, who might be only prejudiced against Muslims, and just sorta finds himself repeating white supremacy stuff because that’s what everyone else is saying.

                      And it is also worth pointing out that Trump gets a large amount of his worldview from Twitter, and he follows a lot of white supremacist on it. He also apparently pay attention to Alex Jones, who is only technically not a white supremacist in the sense he is too crazy to be a white supremacist, but who often pushes white supremacy ideas and conspiracy theories.

                      I.e., the problem isn’t just people working for him. There are a lot of white supremacists that Trump just happens to be listening to, and repeat what they say.

                      You know, this is a bit of a hilarious argument, George, in that it really is one you don’t want to win. Trump has repeatedly said and done things that can be explained exactly two ways: a) white supremacists are whispering in his ears and feeding him information and white supremacist code which he unwittingly repeats, or b) Trump is himself a white supremacist.

                      Arguing that he’s not surrounded by white supremacists means he’s coming up with this shit on his own!

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                      • Sebastian Gorka isn’t a white supremacist, he just…

                        …wears a medallion from Vitezi Rend, a group that is so associated with Nazis that foreigners literally cannot visit this country if they are a member under the ‘no Nazis’ rule. Sebastian Gorka, of course, claims he’s not a member, only his father is…he just proudly wears a medal from them.

                        Vitezi Rend isn’t a Nazi group, it’s an order of chivalry that’s a substitute for a title of nobility, which Hungary couldn’t grant between the World Wars due to the lack of a royal sovereign. It was also granted to officers and soldiers who’d won heroism medals in the Great War, and it came with a land grant.

                        It’s like the OBE in the British Empire, though inheritable (Gorka is in because his father was) and is still recognized by the international people in charge of recognizing that stuff, including UN bodies. Members get to put a “v” in their name where a “von” would go, and their first born sons get to do the same.

                        History of the Vitezi Rend

                        Needless to say, to the Soviets all the members were Nazis, as Hungary had joined the Axis in 1938, so it was double-plus banned as an aristocratic knighthood that had fought against them.

                        But the group formed again in exile, with its first member being His Royal Highness József Ágost vitéz of Hapsburg-Lorraine. Now it’s run by His Royal Highness Prince vitéz József Árpád. Note the “vitéz” in the name and title.

                        But nuts will be nuts, and the same people you got your information from probably think the Most Honorable Order of the Bath is granted by the Imperial Grand Wizard of the KKK.

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                        • George, David’s getting his information from places like NBC, NPR, and The Forward, all of which are generally reputable but sometimes make really really stupid claims.

                          DavidTC, if you’d like a balanced description of Vitezi Rend – one that actually rings truer to me than the descriptions elsewhere by anybody – this article at the Tablet is a really good read: http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/231133/gorka-forward-vitezi-rend-trump (I mean, you have to read past the part where Tablet writers get irritated at Forward writers, and vice versa, but even filtering for that, it’s a powerful piece.) And I don’t think the guy who wrote it is wrong about Gorka.

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                          • Yes, the actual Order of Vitéz has a complicated history. The problem is that, after WWII, the actual Order had been so tainted by Nazis that it was completely disbanded and does not exist.

                            I notice the article you cited decided to mention a bunch of people who were members of the actual real Order before WWII. But Gorka’s father is not a real member of the Order of Vitéz, as that literally hasn’t existed since WWII. Gorka’s father got his medal in 1979.

                            And, back to the real Order for a second, it is also worth pointing out that the real Order of Vitéz was anti-Semitic from the very start…just not Nazi levels of anti-Semitic. A few individual members who tried to keep Jews from being murdered does not change that fact. Neither does a few of them opposing the Nazi-occupied government.

                            If it had been formed back then, and there had been no Nazis since then, sure, maybe it would have changed by now. Ford Motors was founded by an anti-Semite at the roughly-analogous time of it’s founding, but it’s fine now. If the Order of Vitéz had existed as a military honor in Hungary for the past 97 years, sure, no problem that in the 1920-1940s it was rather anti-Semitic.

                            But, it didn’t exist since then. It got hijacked by actual Nazis, and ended up so tainted by Nazism it was disbanded. Only 25 years after it was founded. Not only that, but the US Department of State will not grant people a visas to if they were a member of it during WWII. (And, remember, it ceased to exist after that point.)

                            That’s the real Order of Vitéz. If Gorka had one of those medals, we could perhaps try to figure out who the member in his family was, and how they comported themselves in WWII. Maybe he could prove that person was some sort of Jew-saving hero.

                            But it’s not a medal from the real Order of Vitéz. Gorka has a medal, given to his father, by one of the many organizations that claims merely to represent the real Order of Vitéz.

                            Why they are trying to bring back an Order that was so tainted it was disbanded, and was, from the very start, anti-Semitic, is…an interesting question. As is why anyone would associate with them.

                            But, hey, let’s forget that. Trying to prove how the people of Hungary think about the Order of Vitéz is extremely difficult for us to discuss, as none of us are Hungarian. The analogy I have heard is ‘United Daughters of the Confederacy’, but I cannot prove that.

                            Gorka is also extremely closely linked to, basically, the entire far-right in Hungary…and the far-right in Hungary is, uh…white supremacists. (Some of them are very-strange-to-American-ears white supremacists, admittedly, in that they want to…create some sort of alliance with Iran. They literally wave Iranian flags. Weird.)

                            Hell, he wrote for Magyar Demokrata, a neo-Nazi newspaper. His writings, admittedly, do not appear racist, but they appear right next to rants about Jews and other such nonsense.

                            Now, he has actually claimed that he’s tried to undermine Hungary’s hard right anti-Semitism. OTOH, he seems to have tried to do this by…having a bunch of ties to extreme radical groups and hanging out with a bunch of white supremacists.

                            I personally think there are indications that he’s merely a complete opportunist and will go anywhere people will pay him money to sprout stupidity.

                            But, again, I’m not sure that that is a particularly good defense, and if he does that alongside white supremacists long enough, I get to call him one anyway.

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                            • Oh, sure, you can call him whatever you want. His anti-Muslim religious bigotry puts him well outside the pale as far as I’m concerned. I just think it’s easy to oversimplify history, and Hungary, what with the whole overthrowing Communism as a government thing and all (that being the supposed reason for the medal in question), has a different relationship with nationalism and white supremacy than the US does, or Germany. I find it still exceptionally dangerous and racist, not necessarily even better, but it’s not all of a piece. I found the Tablet piece moving because of the argument for not oversimplifying. I should have been clearer.

                              I appreciate you expanding on your original comments.

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                              • Yes, the actual Order of Vitéz has a complicated history. The problem is that, after WWII, the actual Order had been so tainted by Nazis that it was completely disbanded and does not exist.

                                Uh, it does still exit, is still recognized by the UN, and was disbanded because the Soviet Union occupied Hungary. If they’d have occupied Britain the OBE, Order of the Garter, Order of the Bath, knighthoods, and all the rest would have been completely disbanded, and Queen Elizabeth and her family would be living in LA or working as gardeners in Kent.

                                On this side of the pond, such decorations are kind of joke. One of my friends is a Kentucky Colonel, like Harlan Sanders. Some Kentucky Colonels are cats. Texas is full of Texas Admirals.

                                On the other side of the pond those titles still retain some meaning. They have nothing to do with Nazis because Nazism was the overthrow of the old order that was based on titles and nobility. It was working class failed artists sweeping away all that came before, looking for scapegoats and grabbing on to the idea that Germany had been stabbed in the back.

                                Hungary got dragged into it because their two biggest trading partners were Germany and Italy.

                                And if Gorka was antisemitic, a member of a Nazi party and a Nazi, why the heck would a cabinet and a clutch of advisors that was heavily Jewish decide to include him?

                                If you let go of the bizarre conspiracy theory of Jewish Nazis coming out of the woodwork, things will make a lot more sense. I guarantee it.

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                                • Uh, it does still exit, is still recognized by the UN,

                                  No it’s not, the UN doesn’t recognize military orders in any manner at all. Also, whether or not a Hungarian military Order is recognized by the UN would be completely meaningless. Hungarian military Orders are a part of the Hungarian military, and exist as exactly as much as the Hungarian government says they do.

                                  I think what you are talking about is the fact that one (of the many) purely private organizations that claims the name, the Historic Order of Vitéz, is a member of the International Commission on Orders of Chivalry…which is itself not any sort of governmental or UN body either, and just basically puts ‘Good Housekeeping’ seals of approval on competing organizations claiming to be heirs to no-longer-government-sanctioned orders of chivalry, of which there are quite a few.

                                  The Historic Order of Vitéz is, legally, a private non-profit that has no authority granted by anyone to do what they are doing. I’m not saying it’s illegal, but that I could paint medals that say the same thing and sell them, and be entirely in my right to do so. (And I mean I could do this in in Hungary, where fake military decorations and titles of nobility are expressly illegal, not in the US where that’s allowed under freedom of speech. This is because what they are giving out legally are no longer military decorations.)

                                  Now, because HOV is recognized by ICOC, its medals will be recognized by other ICOC members, but it’s not any more ‘official’ than Scouting organizations recognizing each other.

                                  And it’s certainly not the real Order of Vitéz, which, again, ceased to exist when the government said it did.

                                  and was disbanded because the Soviet Union occupied Hungary.

                                  It wasn’t really ‘disbanded’ as a thing. The entire ‘Government of National Unity’ was dissolved by the Soviets, and the Order was not recreated in the new government.

                                  Which, it must be mentioned, was not technically the Soviet occupation. There was, briefly, a Second Hungarian Republic from 1946-1949. Yes, they were under Soviet influence, but the Soviet occupation didn’t happen until 1949.

                                  It is the Second Hungarian Republic that deliberately decided not to continue the Order of Vitéz. The Soviet occupation, as you correctly explained, did not keep monarchy-based decorations, but the Second Republic did, as far as I know. But it didn’t bring back the Order of Vitéz.

                                  That also, notable, was not recreated in the current Hungary government. Hungary has not been under Soviet control for decades, and has thrown away almost all Soviet influence..and yet didn’t reinstate the Order of Vitéz because, again, it is tainted with Nazi-ism in Hungary.

                                  And now we’ve reached the thing I cannot prove, and you cannot disprove, because neither of us are Hungarian, or read the language, or can know how they really feel about the Order of Vitéz, and at best we can perhaps cite a few probably biased articles written for non-Hungarian viewpoints. My point here is just that the post-Nazi pre-Soviet-occupation government didn’t recreate it, and the current government still, even without Soviets, has not recreated it. Make of that what you will. They presumably have reasons.

                                  And if Gorka was antisemitic, a member of a Nazi party and a Nazi, why the heck would a cabinet and a clutch of advisors that was heavily Jewish decide to include him?

                                  Gorka was, last month, forced out of the White House because other administration officials got pissed at him defending white supremacists.

                                  So the answer to your question is: He was hired first, before a lot of the administration (and before most of the cabinet was confirmed, not that the cabinet has anything to do with anything), so they didn’t ‘decide to include him’, they had to deal with him already being there.

                                  And they put up with him (And his inability to get a security clearance, because, again, his ties to all sorts of extreme far-right Hungarian stuff.) exactly as long as it took for him to reveal himself as a blatant white-supremacist defender (If not actually revealed as a white supremacist) and they could finally force him out.

                                  It probably also had something to do with the white supremacist with the largest amount of power, Steve Bannon, leaving the week before And presumably no longer able to defend to Trump the concept of keeping around blatant white supremacists.

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                          • The suggestion that a profound suspicion of the Hungarian far right is nothing but a bad faith ploy, if not pratically Holocaust denial, as asserted by Mr Liebovitz, is really fucking offensive:

                            What I object to—and what my interlocutors maddeningly refuse to engage with—is the effort to use history and Jewish memory, in particular, the crimes of the Holocaust, in the service of partisan political tricks. The falsification of history, in particular, the history of the Holocaust, is something that all Jews should object to because it is both the foundation and also the most frequent justification for Holocaust denialism

                            Speaking of maddening! Liel Liebovitz is suggesting that we give every possible benefit of the doubt to a Breitbartian fraud like Gorka, whose ties to the Hungarian far right don’t exactly end with that Vitezi Rand, while not giving the slightest benefit of the doubt to people who believe that palling around with right-wing extremists is, well, bad.

                            Many parts of that article are weak tea, but that part was the weakest.

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            • You seem to know more about Trump’s inner beliefs than he does. I find that unlikely.

              Yeah, when I look at Trump, I think, “Obviously there’s a guy who is incredibly insightful about his own motivations, and devotes real time and effort to self-reflection.”

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              • Not only does Trump understand his own inner beliefs, he understood the inner beliefs of all the people who gave him 304 electoral votes. He voiced how they really felt even though virtually nobody else in the public spotlight had been echoing such sentiments. He just knows.

                If Democrats could look into the part of their souls where their minds can’t go, they’d see Trump staring back at them like the Kwisatz Haderach.

                When they die and go to Heaven, they have to pass through a security check in Trump Tower.

                He is living in their heads, rent free, and that observer status gives him insider knowledge. He is John Malkovich.

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  3. How do you protest a demagogue? No matter what anyone does the demagogue always has certain advantages. The way to lose is to always be afraid of the demagogue to always know he will chum the waters with insults so that you never act. If you answer the demagogue with well thought out, long winded policy the demagogue will tweet and people will say that isn’t’ how you fight a demagogue. If the protests are symbolic and clear then people say you are playing the demagogues game since he will always be better at playing to shallow symbols. Meh. This is the protest that is. It has all the disadvantages of a non-centralized movement of which there are plenty. There is plenty of room for critics of Trump to point out that the frickin president shouldn’t be calling people SOB’s and i dare say Lebron is more popular than Trump. Where will the kneeling thing end up…beats me.

    Trump’s just trying to distract from the R’s flailing away at another ham fisted, epically hypocritical and unpopular health care plan and more dripping away about the Russia investigation.

    Edit: The R’s do not own America the brand. R’s would love people to believe that. They have been trying to convince people of that for decades. Double meh.

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  4. What is driving *me* crazy about all of this as a relative outsider, and a non-citizen, is that Kaepernick’s protest seems to be about the most respectful way of protesting a national situation that he could find. I mean, he’s *kneeling*. He’s not turning his back and walking out, he’s not making a speech, he’s not calling for anyone to stop playing the anthem, he’s not even throwing a black power salute (none of which I would personally have any problem with, btw) – he’s freaking adopting a pose of supplication. A vulnerable pose. A plea.

    It wouldn’t even be effective if he didn’t understand and respect the symbol he was protesting.

    Personally I’ve been leaning pretty heavily on “as I understand American history, polite dissent is one of the most patriotic things any citizen can do,” with my MAGA-enthused friends. Sometimes it seems to help, sometimes I get back talking points that sound like they’ve been replaced by a Trump-loving pod person. OTOH I have a lot of ex-Republican acquaintances who are happy to turn their gun-firing, flag-waving patriotism against Trump, and their arguments seem more effective than my polite questioning…. I just can’t *do* that with a straight face. I don’t believe that who loves something the most can be demonstrated by who yells about it the loudest. I kinda wanta sit a quarter of the country down and make them watch King Lear, but I reckon they’d miss the point.

    (I do find the King Lear thing comforting though, insofar as it reminds me that this is in no way a new problem.)

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    • There were lots of memes showing how pretty much any effort by PoCs to have their voices heard is attacked for the method so folks can avoid engaging the message?
      Protest? Too violent.
      Marching? Too disruptive.
      Kneeling? Too disrespectful.
      Through the legislature? Looking for handouts.
      Through the courts? Whiney babies looking for activist judges.

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    • What you are describing troubles me as well, and it has everything to do with how we got into this situation.

      There are many who equate strong displays of emotion with sincerity and conviction. I think this is an error, but it is a common one. To me, it’s the hallmark of the huckster, the con-man, which is why I don’t do it.

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    • He sat for the first protest. Afterward, he had a discussion with their long snapper, who was a recent vet (I want to say that he was even Special Forces) and they worked out that kneeling would be better, for basically exactly the reasons you describe. The long snapper was white, btw – so even in the beginning he had at least tacit support from some white teammates.

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  5. As a result, no team has been willing to take him on as a player, and he is effectively unemployed despite being better than most starting quarterbacks for most teams.

    No one who actually follows the NFL thinks this. He played well enough stepping in back in 2012 but has been mediocre to awful since. His style of play also limits his market. He might work in Seattle or Buffalo but he doesn’t have the arm or accuracy for the drop back schemes most teams run.

    The NFL is about money, and if someone is talented enough to make it teams have shown over and over again they will employ them regardless of all manner of scandal. Unfortunately for Kaep he isn’t talented enough and the market isnt really there for his style of play. If he were worth 10+ wins or a run/option heavy team needed a qb he’d have a job but the market dictates he isnt worth the controversy.

    I say all this as someone who agrees that police violence in general and against minorities and the poor in particular are serious problems. I also hate the jingoism around American sports. But really if Kaepernick wants a job his priority ought to be on his game not his politics.

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      • This is where scheme and market comes in. What team who runs a system similer to the 2012 49ers is in the qb market right now and in a position for a playoff berth if they can come up with better qb play than what they have? None I can think of and no one wants a controversial backup.

        Tolzien is a red herring. The Colts offense is set up around Andrew Luck’s style of play and their long term plan as an organization is committed to him. They aren’t going to throw that away for a 1 season rental on a controversial player (I agree the controversy is dumb) in hopes of doing marginally better on what looks destined to be a losing season.

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        • But there are plenty of teams that have and are in 1 year rental contracts with a quarterback. The Skins are on the second year of signing Cousins for just one year.

          With the play and injuries that happened happened already, Kaepernick should have been signed to a deal to fill in a gap .

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          • Name a team where the wins this season would be sufficient to outweigh the controversy and potential organizational disruption (not necessarily locker room, but something like changing your offense to fit his style and where such a change would work with existing personnel).

            Say Tyrod Taylor goes down for the year mid season and the Bills are hot and in the hunt. I think you could maybe see him picked up, especially if there isnt faith in the back up. What he isn’t is so good he’s going to turn a basement dweller into a winner right now and he’s a known enough commodity no one is going to build around him long term or risk a media circus to turn a 4-12 team into a 6-10 team.

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          • With the play and injuries that happened happened already, Kaepernick should have been signed to a deal to fill in a gap .

            But he can’t fill the gap. If Cousins gets hurt, Kap can’t run the Redskins’ offense.

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          • No, I’m making the case that his unemployment is consistent with how the league treats any player who becomes the subject of controversy for whatever reason or is considered a head case. You can be controversial, nuts, or even a criminal and be an NFL star but only if you’re really good on the field or at least have value that clearly outweighs the other issues.

            Kaepernick isnt a superstar talent being denied a spot on a roster because of his politics. He’s at best a mid range talent, system type qb who was benched (remember he lost his job as a starter before all of this) who courted controversy. He doesnt have a contract because teams don’t think his talent level is worth the headache and they’re probably right.

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          • You’re making the case that his unemployment is at least partially the result of his politics.

            To the extent that’s the case, I have a hard time believing that’s a bad thing.

            Like I mentioned before, Kap can’t help anybody unless he’s the face of the franchise.

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        • The Colts offense is set up around Andrew Luck’s style of play and their long term plan as an organization is committed to him.

          Well, they spent a boat-load of money on him. But the o-line is still in the bottom half of units in the league, they lack a top-flight o-line coach, and the injuries are starting to pile up. There are rumors that if the Colts are in a deep enough hole by the time Luck is healthy — and he didn’t practice this week — he won’t play at all this year.

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          • And that would make perfect in the free agency era. The Colts need to use every dime towards pieces to make Luck excel so that contract is worth it. The worst thing that could happen to them is a career ending injury to Luck this early in the contract.

            The best organizations are good at allocating resources year over year. Even the bad ones (like my Redskins) seem to have learned not to pay has-been or never-were players for short term gains. The people outraged about the Kaepernick issue never address that aspect of this. What team would he make sense for under existing constraints? This isn’t MLB where paying players is consequence free
            as long as ownership can afford it.

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    • No one who actually follows the NFL thinks this. He played well enough stepping in back in 2012 but has been mediocre to awful since. His style of play also limits his market. He might work in Seattle or Buffalo but he doesn’t have the arm or accuracy for the drop back schemes most teams run.

      Yeah, this. It’s been surprising to me that the story of Colin Kaepernick has got as much traction as it has. Not last year necessarily, but this year. Michael Bennett has been much for vocal in his social criticism without any adverse consequences at all that I can see. Because he’s good. Let’s face it, he was already representing the most left-wing major city in America, who desperately need a quarterback. If he belonged in the NFL, he should be there.

      Related to that, and compounding it, is the fact that his game is much different than other QB’s. Politics aside, he really can’t be a clipboard guy, because he can’t run the scheme that the team has been practicing all season for. He doesn’t play special teams. He is of no value at all to any franchise unless he is the face of the team.

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      • He makes sense as the Seahawk backup for the right price. Liberal city, Bennett and Sherman already there, they have a read-option/RPO offense in the playbook already, and they kept a guy around all last year hoping he might grow up to be Kaep.

        All accounts are he really doesn’t want to be a backup for what they had left under the cap, and that was before trading for a second Richardson.

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        • Yeah, Seattle is probably the best scheme fit. It could be that Kap himself doesn’t want to go there. It wasn’t that long ago where Kap was peer to or better than Wilson, it’d kind of embarrassing to struggle to be his backup. That’s another factor in the situation as well.

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  6. Good stuff, but while I agree that portions of the right have long poised themselves as ‘real Americans’, and promoted opposition as anti-American, people shouldn’t buy into that framing at all, which you almost seem to do here.

    To wit, I reject accepting the premise that additional players taking a knee is anti-American. I would further note that Kaepernick started this when Obama was President, correct?

    I also think that it first started with him sitting on the bench during the anthem during a pre season game, which was caught by someone in the stands, and then went viral on twitter, and so then evolved to taking a knee – which does look at lot better. (Daenerys Targaryen would certainly approve)

    Copywriting nitpicks-

    He has now deleted that tweet, but it read:

    It’s still there, with what I see.
    https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/387565483303923712

    Additionally, he points out that kneeling during the national anthem is a conduct violation. Unlike, for example, wearing the US flag as clothing.

    There’s a ‘not’ missing in here, correct?

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              • Well, to get back to the original point, if there is no distinct underlying principle, we may find ourselves wondering why people are treating us like we’re just failing about grasping for any convenient weapon with which to wallop our opponents.

                And this is one of those things that makes it a lot easier to not notice that the two sides are playing two different games and thus scoring whether they’re winning two very different ways.

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                • Except the issue isn’t regular customers. Kaepernick hasn’t played this, and it was a minor ongoing controversy, because when you get right down to it, regular customers can decide to stop patronizing a business for any reason or no reason, and the business owners are going to cope how they cope.

                  The issue is that the President isn’t just any old customer, and he isn’t just speaking as another consumer saying how he wants to spend his consumer dollars.

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                  • Kaep’s knee issue is, apparently, contagious (Ray Lewis took a knee in England today).

                    The issue is that the President isn’t just any old customer, and he isn’t just speaking as another consumer saying how he wants to spend his consumer dollars.

                    As much as I’d love for politics to get out of entertainment, I can’t help but notice that that horse is no longer in the barn.

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      • He said “regular customers,” not “regular Americans.” That is, people who frequently patronize a business. Football fans, in this case. Not all of them, of course, but a great many, perhaps most, do find a gesture basically intended to convey the message that America is bad somewhat objectionable.

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          • And, thus, we are back to:

            Oh, the general take is that the athletic supporters at home like the idea of football players taking the knee during the National Anthem?

            Awesome. This problem resolves itself.

            If this is just going to blow up in Trump’s face, all we have to do is hold our breath and not interrupt him while he’s making a mistake.

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            • Yes, the only thing that matters is strategy, because liberals should be emotionless robot Vulcans, and any time they display any sort of anger or irritation at awful behavior they’re being horrible hypocrites, which is much worse than behaving awfully.

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              • I don’t really care about hypocrisy. I think hypocrisy is a *GOOD* thing. It tells us which principles are important enough to lie about in public.

                Back to the point, I don’t mind displays of anger or irritation either.

                If all you’re doing is expressing your anger and irritation then, please, let me get out of your way.

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              • I honestly wouldn’t pay a lot of attention to Jaybird right now. He’s on day…. 10? 11? of working ridiculously long shifts in the middle of nowhere, at bizarre times of day, dealing with Qatari traffic every day, his best friend just went home, and he’s got another week to go. Not saying you *have* to take all that into consideration but there’s really not much point to trying to talk to him about anything other than how his day is going right now. You’re likely to fall into direct insults, which still wouldn’t be allowed and wouldn’t help anything.

                (I mention this not because you’ve done anything wrong that I’ve read but because it happens to me offline in similar circumstances, so I’m having a lot of empathy for you at the moment.)

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              • Yes, the only thing that matters is strategy, because liberals should be emotionless robot Vulcans, and any time they display any sort of anger or irritation at awful behavior they’re being horrible hypocrites, which is much worse than behaving awfully.

                No, they should just be deferring to the flag, which supposedly represents all of us, instead. I gotta say, Trump is right on this one.

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      • “Speech” could be defined as both the speaking of words, the writing of words, and also deliberate communicative acts (such as, yes, taking a knee during a song)

        “Regular customers” would be something like “engaged with the product in the past, can be reasonably counted on to engage with the product in the future”. For stuff like “Coca-Cola”, I’d say that someone who buys one 12-pack a month would qualify as a “regular customer” because they regularly purchase the product. For football, it’s a bit different. I watch the Superbowl every year, but that’s pretty much the only football game I watch. I would not consider myself a “regular customer” of the NFL. (Though I have purchased Denver Broncos gear in the past… not just a Tebow Jersey either. I have a Broncos ball cap that I wear when I know I’m going to be outside for a while. That’s not enough to make me a “regular customer” of the NFL either, though.) I’d say that a regular customer of the NFL would be one who watches at least half of the games of “zher” team and would be aware of who is in playoff standing starting about week 5 or 6 into the season.

        More than that is possible, of course. Buying tickets to games, buying jerseys, having moods that can be improved or worsened for more than a few minutes by a team winning or losing are all hallmarks of “*REAL*” fandom… but, when it comes to being a “regular customer”, I’d say that it’s all loosey goosey but if the NFL can reasonably count on a person’s eyeballs being some of the eyeballs being sold to advertisers on any given Sunday, they’re a “regular customer”.

        As for “alienates”, I’d say anything that inspires a regular customer to become an irregular customer would qualify. It’s not necessarily a problem if you pick up two regular customers for every one that you lose (or, heck, even trade one-for-one). I’d just say that if in week 1, you’ve got 100 fans that you could count on no matter what and then you perform Action X and then on week 2 you’ve got 90 fans that you can count on no matter what, then it’s possible that Action X alienated those 10 fans. And if you ask them “What the heck?” and they tell you “I didn’t want to deal with Action X”, I think that “Action X alienated these fans” is a close enough for jazz term.

        Also, for “regular”, please assign a value for what percentage of overall customers they represent.

        I don’t know how we’d measure the bare minimum of “overall customers”. Let’s use the Superbowl as a bare minimum.

        Let’s go to CNN.

        The game, which saw the Patriots make the largest comeback in Super Bowl history, brought in an average audience of 111.3 million viewers for Fox, according to Nielsen.

        That makes Super Bowl LI the fifth most-watched TV broadcast in history.

        Last year’s Super Bowl on CBS drew 111.9 million viewers, making it the third-most-watched broadcast in U.S. TV history.

        So let’s say that that’s the number of “overall customers”. 111.9 million people.

        What’s the number of people who watch every week? I don’t know. But here’s the ratings for the Sunday Night Football opener for this year from Deadspin:

        With an uptick of over two million from the non-adjusted fast affiliate numbers the big market match-up between the 19-3 victorious Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants snared 24.2 million viewers watching on the Comcast-owned net on September 10. That’s up 5% from what the September 11, 2016 New England Patriots 23-21 win over the Arizona Cardinals scored in sets of eyeballs.

        So let me do some quick math in my head… Um… 22ish percent? I guess?

        Surely some of those folks will evaporate away because they just missed watching football for a year and now they’re good until the Superbowl.

        So 20 percent. More or less.

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            • Teams didn’t come out before 2009. Teams weren’t forbidden to come out for any particular reason, they just didn’t. There was no significance to that then, just the way things were done.They began coming out in 2009 precisely because the owners wanted to make a political show. If they went back to the pre-political practice, some would see it as pro-Trump only because that’s how they would want to see it. Screw them.

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    • If this is correct, and I have no reason to think it isn’t…

      I want to see polling numbers. The WWE, whose owners are quite conservative, thought their fans were also. When they got actual polling numbers, though, the fan base skewed younger, more minority, more socially liberal, and quite a bit more left-center economically than the owners were guessing.

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    • I see Mr. Boob’s chart as showing the NFL is aiming for, and mostly achieving, a center position. (Notably, it’s not quite as right wing as the Olympics viewership is, and far mor right wing than the Democratic skewing WWE viewership). (Which I also think means that Republican- Democratic skew is not quite the same thing as a Right Wing – Left Wing skew).

      Kneeling for some, tiny American flags for others is very much in line with a centrist compromise target.

      The NFL certainly would prefer bland reflexive ritualism that nobody’s thinking about too hard (it’s carried the Roman Catholic church off and on for centuries at a time), but failing that, the NFL is perfectly willing to have this be an issue so they don’t have to deal with brain damage.

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      • As points out, WWE does skews left, as does the NBA. WWE surprises, NBA does not. NFL does a bit, and that is kinda the issue. If you simply assume your market is one group, but it is indeed another, all the little value-add-on’s you feel are awesome might well miss the mark. Looking at this graphic, Steph Curry can succeed with this, Kaepernick is much more iffy. If Cheeto Jesus sticks to the one side of this, he “wins” the issue.

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        • When it was just Kaepernick, he couldn’t succeed. But now that it’s a whole bunch of people, the dynamics are very different. (And I still don’t think Kaepernick will play a down in the NFL ever again)

          Yeah, people have been wrong about assessing Trump’s “wins” for like 2 years now. But I also think we well past the point of diminishing returns from any point view with Trump ‘winning’ on stuff like this. (Well, I guess it still helps the self promoting media whore grifters)

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          • I think not so much. People have consistently been right that this stuff makes him less popular. It’s just that that unpopularity didn’t keep him out of the Oval Office.

            That’s if you think of it is playing to his base. If you think of it as playing to the vortex of raw need where Trump’s soul should be, these may indeed be wins.

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          • Having white players taking part will probably make a difference in how the public perceives it. It’s easy to pick fights with Kaepernick or Steph Curry or LeBron James because it plays to the base’s perceptions. When black players do this stuff, they’re ungrateful and spoiled. White players are self-made men who work hard and earn their paychecks, so it might be different when they do it.

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          • Here is another interesting map of the political leanings of various sports.

            Tennis, NBA basketball, and soccer are left wing, while golf, NASCAR, college football, and rodeo are right wing. The NFL was in the middle, but of course now that it has been politicized with the NFL siding with the kneelers, some on the right will change the knob and watch bass fishing shows.

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  7. America the brand is thoroughly owned by the right.

    I disagree with much of the pushback you’ve received on this statement. Maybe you state it more baldly than I’d prefer, but I think I see what you’re getting at. And I realize you (Vikram) aren’t saying this is a good thing, which you state clearly about seven sentences later. You’re stating the problem, not saying it’s a good thing.

    Truth be told, I don’t feel patriotic. I don’t love the United States. I’d probably prefer to live here more than any other place, but I don’t love this idol called a country. On election night 2016 and for a few days afterward, I thought the distress I felt at Mr. Trump’s victory signaled I really did love my country. But that feeling was fleeting. Maybe–probably–Mr. Trump doesn’t doesn’t love this country either. But at any rate, I’d have felt like a hypocrite had I said “America is great already” or if I said now that I oppose Trump “because I love my country.”

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  8. To a large extent, the political right is going to own patriotism in any country because they can profess uncompromising and unambiguous love for country. You see the same thing in different religions with the religious conservatives constantly beating out religious liberals because their brand of devotion is without hesitation. The conservative Christian need not fret about the Crusades and the hardline Islamist can celebrate jihad because they both possesses total truth. American conservatives can take pride in the expansion of America from the settlement of Virginia and New England to the entire continent without taking stalk of what happened to the Native Americans. The National Front supporters in France need not worry about what France did in Algeria.

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    • I don’t think so.

      It’s hard not to notice that the political right, and this gets no less true as you move from center-right to far right, gets a pass on pretty much all of their complaints and condemnations of the country. They can, for example, complain that the country has fallen into chaos, is a global laughingstock, is weak, is degenerate, is horribly divided, ad nauseam, and it’s just treated as a demonstration of their patriotism.

      Even if they’re simultaneously complaining about monuments to traitorous soldiers being torn down.

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          • I always figured it was due to which party represented change, which party represented the status quo*. Currently, change is represented by the D’s, status Quo by the R’s. And a push goes to the house (status quo).** In fact, I would go so far as to say that this is one of the biggest issues coming out of the Obama years, in that much of the left thought they had become the status quo, but not so much by anyone outside the left. ***

            *I do think this is changing, but not at a pace to affect my current hypothesis.

            **And yes, I do talk like this in real life, drives my wife nuts.

            ***That part of my hypothosis is mutable, but I haven’t seen anything yet that shakes my belief. See first footnote.

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            • Currently, change is represented by the D’s, status Quo by the R’s.

              Seems to me that change is represented by Trumpian Rs and progressives, the status quo is represented by the Democratic Party and liberals, and establishment Republicans represent nothing anyone cares about other than the radical interests of their donors (massive tax cuts, deregulation, dismantling Medicaid, etc).

              Add: granted, Bernie is dragging the Dem establishment further to the left…

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              • That was one of the reasons for the footnotes. It is changing, but perception in this is a lagging indicator. In other words, most people aren’t up on politics. Unlike us nerds.

                Or, they are still representing the sq no matter how much anyone feels that should change. Because the Bernie et al.

                ETA: I think we will have a better idea after the midterms.

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  9. Talking with my friend, we realized Trump is moving the line.

    A week ago, the line was Players Kneeling and most NFL owners were quietly opposed and on his side.

    Trump moved the line. Now its Players are Sons of Bitches. He lost all of them.

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  10. So, I did a quick google on Colin to see if he’d commented on his lack of employment. Nada.

    What’s the big deal. So guy decides to make a statement and finds himself unemployed. That happens all the time. I’m not crying over it, nor do I think it’s “part of a trend” or such on how america is turning into ‘murica.

    And the EC? Jeebus, that’s really getting old. As old as Obama is a closet muslim. Face the facts, HRC had the election to loose and she did. Reports on the content of her book seem to bear out the story that she still thinks “she didn’t do it”. Nah, haters gotta had something that’s happened 5 times in our history. Please….We are now moving to “crybaby” mode.

    Stop. Just stop. Time to move on kiddies.

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      • Apparently the big deal is that people need to “respond” and or pay attention to everything the President says. I paid modest attention to Obama, and about the same with Trump.

        What Trump says about Kim Jun Ill is important. What he says about a football player is not. Your mileage may vary.

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        • It does, because I don’t want Presidents trying to appeal to the public based on asserting that random non-governmental people should be fired.

          I honestly don’t pay attention to most of what Trump says either, but overreach is overreach, and the President advocating for specific private firings is overreach X about a zillion.

          I’m not going to ignore it just because he does other things that are worse, or because he does other kinds of procedural extremism that are X two hundred zillion.

          Procedures are *important*.

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          • Kazzy,

            I’m not saying that at all. I’m saying that there’s a difference between commenting and analysing everthing he says vs ranking what he says in order of importance. IE:

            NK, Iran, global warming, ACA, dreamers. That’s pretty important stuff and much more important that what trump tweats about some football player.

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    • I don’t think it’s a tremendously big deal that Kaepernick remains unemployed. Maybe a bit of an overreaction on the part of the owners, but it’s their league, not mine.

      Except for some reason President Trump decided to demand to call the guy a “son of a bitch”, and demand that he be kicked off the field despite the fact that he wasn’t already playing.

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  11. I don’t know why it has to be this way. The national anthem doesn’t have anything to do with police brutality. It’s just that if you are a football player, there are relatively few ways to make your message heard over everyone else. Kaepernick found a way, but it was a way that unfortunately makes it seem like supporting Black Lives Matter is somehow anti-American when the movement needs people to feel the opposite.

    Yeah, this. I don’t like a lot of Trump’s verbal gambits, but I suspect this one will actually work in his favor.

    Respect the flag already.

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