Charles Blow, Donald Trump, Grand Wizard of Birtherism, 9/17>
Charles easily surpasses the smarmy born-again indignados of the corporate media's anti-Trump brigade of Profiles in Courage who've become brave in great numbers only because there is great protection in crowds.
My published response:This man is so low that he’s subterranean.Donald Trump said Friday: “Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy.”That was a lie. There is no evidence Hillary Clinton and her campaign either started or took part in the efforts to question the location of Barack Obama’s birth.He continued: “I finished it.”
Yes, Trump's birther campaign was and is based upon a lie. But to say that nobody in Clinton World ever took part in any efforts to question the president's birthplace is also less than truthful.
An editor of McClatchy Newspapers, a well-respected mainstream service, reports that one "rogue" Clinton volunteer was fired in the 2008 for spreading the rumor. The machinations of Clinton friend Sidney Blumenthal are even more problematic, since he allegedly suggested to the McClatchy editor that Obama had been born in Kenya. The newspaper duly investigated and found the allegation to be false. More here:
The Obama administration was so well-aware of Blumenthal's methods that they banned him from the White House and State Dept. job after the 2008 election:
The Blumenthal connection is obviously the basis for Trump's mendacious claim that Hillary Clinton "started" the birther movement. Trump took a short-lived whispering campaign and turned it into a full-fledged crusade. He co-opted racism and the Tea Party movement as subsidiaries of his corporate media empire brand. It made him even more fabulously rich and famous than he ever could have gotten by being just another run-of-the mill grifter.I might have guessed that this fairly bland reality check for the Clinton-supporting Charles Blow would elicit the usual responses from the usual suspects, including the accusation that I am doing the nasty work of the "alt-right" as well as ignoring the fact that I'd credited McClatchy both for doing its journalistic duty of accurately writing history and for debunking Trump.
And the media conglomerate of which he is an integral part is only too happy to help and to profit right along with him.
So I wrote this generic follow-up comment addressed to no one troll in particular:
Based upon the comments to my comment thus far, it is painfully apparent that any fact-based criticism of Clinton is undesirable and must be avoided at all costs lest righteous heads explode. Last time I checked, neither McClatchy nor the Times are "alt-right" outfits. Just because right-wing sites pick up and run with certain facts about Clinton doesn't mean these facts should be delegitimized on their face. Nothing I wrote is a distortion of the truth.This in turn elicited another response which took issue with my rhetoric, by mansplaining:
Believe it or not, it is possible, even desirable, to both expose and deride Trump and to examine and critique Clinton. Nuance, unfortunately, is one of the casualties of this crazy-time election. Pick a side, close your eyes and ears, and stay blissfully ignorant.
I posted links as a courtesy because we are only allowed 1500 characters in comments. If you don't choose to click them, that's your prerogative.
Karen Garcia -- "it is painfully apparent that any fact-based criticism of Clinton is undesirable and must be avoided at all costs lest righteous heads explode"My counter-response:
Yes, and that is counter-productive. It is really just Trump's method. It undermines an attack on Trump's method.
Perhaps I'm misinterpreting your comment, but you seem to imply that colorful metaphors and sarcasm from the Left should be off the table because Trump himself is often sarcastic. Wow.Paul Krugman, A Lie Too Far? (blogpost), 9/17:
By the way, "Exploding Head Syndrome" (EHS) is a bona fide medical condition. According to neurologist John Pearce, symptoms include “a sense of explosion in the head, confined to the hours of sleep, which is harmless but very frightening for the sufferer.... Some people also see flashes of light, feel hot, experience chest pains and palpitations, or feel an electrical sensation rising from the lower torso to the head."
Of course, their heads are not actually exploding.
I'd hazard a guess that this syndrome is probably becoming even more prevalent during our fraught election season, given the nightmare that is Donald Trump.
Krugman is right pleased that the press is following his profiles-in-courage advice and finally calling Trump a big fat loathsome liar in lying about both birtherism and Hillary's nonexistent direct role in its inception:
The Matt Lauer debacle may have helped bring things into focus. And tightening polls probably matter too, not because journalists are being partisan, but because they are now faced with the enormity of what their fact-free jeering of HRC and fawning over DJT might produce.My response (comparatively well-received by the readership because it contained no tastelessly explosive Clinton criticism):
There are now two questions: will this last, and if it does, has the turn come soon enough? In both cases, nobody knows. But just imagine how different this election would look if we’d had this kind of simple, factual, truly balanced (as opposed to both-sides-do-it) reporting all along.
I may be wrong, but I suspect that the newfound journalism in the public interest being displayed by the corporate media is a one-off. Some of them seem to be more miffed about being "played" by Trump in the big lead-up to the big non-apology than they are willing to admit that they themselves are complicit supporting players on the big stage of dirty politics.
Furthermore, they are calling Trump a liar based upon a libel committed against President Obama, not for his libel of and his continuing attacks on Hillary Clinton. Unless they now start reporting in the vein of "Trump falsely claimed that Mrs. Clinton robbed a bank...." rather than the usual "Trump asserted that Mrs. Clinton robbed a bank," then I am taking their born-again ethics with a huge grain of salt.
Let's hope that now that they've finally uttered the "lie" word and their careerist worlds didn't come crashing down on top of them, they'll develop more of a taste for it - much as they did when they finally admitted that enhanced interrogation is actually torture.
David Brooks, The Uses of Patriotism, 9/16
I've largely abandoned my old hobby of messing with boring old Brooks, but this one was particularly loathsome, not to mention borderline racist. It seems that those young black folk are not giving the American Flag the proper religious reverence:
He gives no evidence that American history is no longer being taught in "many schools." More likely, he's miffed that history isn't taught as a religion the way that science is sometimes taught as creationist "intelligent" design. My published response:Recently, the civic religion has been under assault. Many schools no longer teach American history, so students never learn the facts and tenets of their creed. A globalist mentality teaches students they are citizens of the world rather than citizens of America.Critics like Ta-Nehisi Coates have arisen, arguing that the American reality is so far from the American creed as to negate the value of the whole thing. The multiculturalist mind-set values racial, gender and ethnic identities and regards national identities as reactionary and exclusive.
Other commenters have aptly pointed out the racist roots of our national anthem. The Founding Fathers stood up for their own freedom, to own other human beings and to expand their territory without regard for the rights of aboriginal populations. Why should Black athletes, or any one else for that matter, stand up to celebrate such an ignominious history?
There are plenty of other ways to display patriotism than singing a song or reciting a pledge. Protest is as all-American as democracy itself. We need a lot more of it.
If David Brooks is scared that "critics like Ta-Nehisi Coates have arisen" to democratically and patriotically criticize the country we live in, that actually gives me hope. The protests and rhetoric of the left are becoming strong enough to drown out and vanquish both neoliberalism and Trumpism.
Brooks's real squeamishness seems to be that the rising solidarity among people of different backgrounds and ethnicities against economic, social and racial oppression is not of the bland, submissive kind of which the oligarchs running this place would approve.
People are refusing to be co-opted by the stentorian sermons and anti-democratic platitudes that "critics like Brooks" keep dishing out like rancid stew.
He's been preaching Spencerian "every man for himself" drivel since forever, and now he wants to impose solidarity from on high? Give me a break.
Paul Krugman, Obama's Trickle-Up Economics, 9/16:
More Obama legacy-burnishing and Clinton-boosting and statistical cherry-picking. The big tell is that Krugman's link to "Census Bureau report" goes not to the report itself, but to a New York Times "Upshot" interpretation of it. Krugman pontificates:
My published response (trigger warning: sarcasm ahead!)What happened instead after Mr. Obama was re-elected was the best job growth since the 1990s. But family incomes, at least as estimated by the Census, continued to lag. So there was still some statistical basis for the right’s Obama-bashing. Now that statistical basis is gone.You might ask whether these numbers reflect reality. It’s often claimed that Americans aren’t feeling any economic recovery — and if anyone were to ask Mr. Trump, he would no doubt claim that the Census numbers, like every number he doesn’t like, are cooked.But be wary of polling on this issue. When Americans are asked how the economy is doing, many of them just repeat what they think they heard on Fox News: By large margins, Republicans say that unemployment is up and the stock market is down under Mr. Obama, the opposite of the truth. On the other hand, when you ask people how well they personally are doing, the Obama years have been marked by large improvements — a sharp increase in the percentage of Americans who see themselves as thriving.
Happy days are here again. So if you insist on feeling blue as you peer into your empty wallet, you've probably been watching too much Fox News.
Yes, median incomes are up and poverty is down. But look closely at the Census figures and you see that although people might be working longer hours, they certainly haven't gotten a raise. Most of the new jobs created have been of the low-wage, service sector variety.
According to the report, the median pay of single women without children jumped 8.7%. This sounds fantastic until you realize that their actual median salary increased to $29,022 from $26,022 in 2014. That's nowhere close to a living wage, especially if most of it has to go toward skyrocketing rent. So if you don't think you've come a long way, baby, by getting 5-10 more hours at Walmart thanks to the beneficence of the clan that owns nearly as much wealth as the bottom half of the population, then you've probably been watching too much Fox News.
Under "Total Income Dispersion", the report shows that the poorest, lowest quintile received only 3.1% of total income, while the top 20% raked in more than half of it. The top 5% grabbed more than a fifth of the entire pie. Income inequality is not improving, not at all.
Another report out this week found that only 16% of the jobs available to new college grads give them enough purchasing power to buy a home and start a family.
So turn off Fox, all you pessimists, and raise a glass to Dr. Pangloss.