Solitudinem faciunt, pacem apellant

While it’s true that Obama is going to acquire a glowing halo of sanctity in comparison to the shambling beast that comes after, I would remind you that he was far from perfect. In particular, his foreign policy was rather hawkish and brutal to civilian populations.

In President Obama’s last year in office, the United States dropped 26,171 bombs in seven countries. This estimate is undoubtedly low, considering reliable data is only available for airstrikes in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Libya, and a single “strike,” according to the Pentagon’s definition, can involve multiple bombs or munitions. In 2016, the United States dropped 3,027 more bombs—and in one more country, Libya—than in 2015.

bombsdropped16

Right. We’re kinda sorta at peace, but for some reason we dropped 26,000 bombs on brown people in distant countries.

I’d like to ask the next question: how many people are killed, on average, with every bomb dropped? If it’s a very small number, then we can question the efficiency of a strategy that terrorizes populations and causes destruction but doesn’t, you know, kill that many ‘enemies’. If it’s a middling number, say 10, then the United States killed a quarter of a million people last year.

If it’s a large number, then we are guilty of atrocities to rival the worst despotisms.

Another culprit in the murder of expertise

Charles "Chuck" Johnson

Charles “Chuck” Johnson

This sad, unqualified, pathetic troll is now an advisor to Donald Trump’s team.

He’s got nothin’. He graduated from college a few years ago with a bachelor’s degree, started an overblown blog that he called a news source, and parlayed inventing far-right lies and calling Obama “gay” into a career that endeared him to other liars, racists, and various neo-Nazis.

Despite his disregard for facts and reckless approach to publishing, Johnson, who was recently photographed at a dinner attended by white supremacists in Washington, D.C., built a significant following among many who self-identified as being a part of the “alt-right.” Trump drew significant support from those same followers during the election.

Mike Cernovich, another pro-Trump troll who is friends with Johnson, said that Johnson often has a hand in behind-the-scenes politics. The media really likes to hate on [Johnson], Cernovich said. But if they knew how influential he has been–in ways they didn’t know–it would be kind of mind blowing.

This is apparently all you need to become influential in the new administration. You can be a guy whose main claim to fame is that people spread scatological rumors about him and his acquaintances find them plausible, and still play a role in shaping American policy.

Is this a great country or what?

True confession: I did not care much for Meryl Streep’s speech

Streep used an award ceremony to slam Trump in a very nice little speech — you can read it online, with all the good points (and there were many) highlighted — and the right-wingers, including our very presidential president-elect, are in a fine high snit over it. However, it left me unenthused, even while agreeing with much of it, for a couple of reasons.

  • This is the least of my concerns, but I’m not a Streep fan. What can I say, that self-indulgent Mamma Mia left me scarred.

  • We are about to inaugurate a nightmare president, a creepy horror whose appointments and policies ought to terrify us, and yet again the media welcomes this speech as the kind of superficial celebrity-on-celebrity spat that they love so well. It is a distraction. Look again at that speech: it’s chewing out a bully for being a bully, which is a fine thing, but it says nothing about the politics or the effects of those politics.

  • What bugged me most, and is probably going to be used by Trump voters to dismiss it, is how vain it was. It was all about how wonderfully diverse actors are, and how many of them are immigrants or from other countries, and it was designed to make all those actors feel damn good about themselves, and also to encourage a little self-pity that Donald Trump is targeting them.

    But all I could think as she praised the diverse backgrounds of these well-known actors was that this was not the best group to highlight. Everything she said is also true of college professors and scientists, and we don’t get pampered and spoiled and paid big bucks to churn out a single project. It is also true of, for instance, farm workers, who are black and brown and white and most definitely do not get paid a wage that allows them to live a Hollywood life style. When the camera panned over her audience of famous people dressed in tuxes and designer gowns that probably cost more than most of us make in a year, what I heard was a woman mourning the threat to her privileges. It somehow resonated less than, for instance, the threats to shut down Planned Parenthood, to deny people health insurance, the sabre-rattling threats to foreign nations, the imminent looting of our country’s wealth by billionaires. Hollywood A-listers will get through the next four years just fine…the rest of us, maybe not.

  • That elitist snipe at football and mixed martial arts was not helpful. It’s one thing to praise the virtues of the patricians, another to disparage the pleasures of the plebs. Someone who starred in Mamma Mia does not get to sniff at low brow popular entertainments and sports.

But I cannot deny that she made legitimate points, and every group, rich or poor, that is going to be damaged by this presidency ought to speak up, including actors. I’m just worried that, once again, the Democrats are going to promote the support of a tiny elite while ignoring the concerns of, say, labor, and are just going to enhance the idea that liberals are out of touch. And, of course, this is all our media have been talking about for the last day.

Real Americans

The media is trying to figure out how Trump got elected, and one common undercurrent to this effort is finding ways to define Real Americans. Some of these efforts get mighty peculiar. Sean Davis’s criterion, for instance, is what kind of truck you drive. It’s ridiculous.

The five most popular vehicle models among Republicans, for example, are all trucks, with the ubiquitous Ford F-150 leading the way. Among Democrats, the Subaru Outback is the most popular choice. If you drive a truck, you’re probably a Republican. If you drive a Subaru, you’re probably a Democrat. Donald Trump won every single state in which the Ford F-150 is the most popular vehicle (even Pennsylvania). He won all but four of the states in which the Chevy Silverado is the most popular vehicle, including Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Hillary Clinton handily won the states where people prefer Subarus.

Which brings us to the simple question about truck ownership from John Ekdahl that drove Acela corridor progressive political journalists into a frenzy on Tuesday night: “The top 3 best selling vehicles in America are pick-ups. Question to reporters: do you personally know someone that owns one?”

Whether you drive a truck or a small car is simply a crude proxy for rural and urban. I’ve lived in that “Acela corridor”, and it would stupid to own a F-150 (although many people do), because parking is limited, on your commute you’re going to spend most of your time idling or creeping along, and they’re gas hogs. Now I live in the deepest part of rural America, and they’re still stupid, most of the time, but there are actual circumstances in which they’re useful. People here hunt and fish for recreation, and it’s impractical to use a Subaru to haul a boat, and very awkward to stuff a dead deer into one. There are also work-related reasons: when I was a young’un helping out on my uncle’s ranch, I drove a truck, too: how else do you get the hay bales out to the cattle in the far field?

I think Roy Edroso has it exactly right, though: most of the trucks you see around, especially in urban areas, were bought for symbolic reasons and as an exercise in manliness and profligate excess.

if you don’t know what it’s like to drive a truck, you ain’t a real U.S. male, sez tough guy Sean Davis of The Federalist. Davis’ angle is that “A Bunch Of Journalists Freak[ed] Out After Being Asked If They Know Anybody Who Drives A Truck.” In this case “Freak Out” means they asked, upon being questioned as to whether they owned a truck or not, what owning a truck has to do with anything. This Davis interpreted to mean that reporters are “the most cloistered and provincial class in America” and live in a “liberal media bubble.” Davis neglected to mention what sort of truck he drives, what sort of loads he hauls, or if his rig is equipped with a CB and a jaker breaker.

Actually, turns out he’s not talking about big rigs, but about Silverados and Tacomas and other such Canyoneros one sees driven by accountants and middle managers all across the fruited plain. But I suspect that is, as the saying goes, central to his point. Davis also lists a bunch of Twitter responses which he portrays as evidence of his thesis; in one of these, Jose A. DelReal says yes, he has a truck “b/c I’m from Alaska. Do any friends own one in DC or NYC? No, because they’re unnecessary here.” Davis’ response: “This person writes for Washington Post and just missed the entire point.” That point, apparently, is that in order to be unbubbled and in touch with the Real America you must have a truck, not because you need it, but because lots of Americans have them whether they actually need them to do actual hauling or not, just as many Texans wear cowboy hats whether or not they ever rode herd, or many conservatives revere the Confederate flag whether or not they ever faced the Union Army in battle.

So here’s a better spin on the difference between liberals and conservatives: liberals buy the vehicle they need that suits their purposes in a practical way, while conservatives waste money (and gas!) buying an overpriced symbol for the purpose of public posturing…virtue signaling, if you will. Which could be a sign of which would make better bureaucrats and leaders.

I drive a Honda Fit, by the way. When we were last in the market for a car, we went looking for an inexpensive, reliable vehicle for light commuting. We don’t need a Canyonero since we don’t hunt, fish, or haul firewood, and personally, I don’t feel that I have shortcomings that could be compensated for with a monster truck.

Davis wasn’t the worst, though. The NY Times ran an op-ed to explain why rural America voted for Trump. It’s because they’re such damn good virtuous people.

One recent morning, I sat near two young men at a coffee shop here whom I’ve known since they were little boys. Now about 18, they pushed away from the table, and one said: “Let’s go to work. Let the liberals sleep in.” The other nodded.

Oh. It’s not because they’re good people. It’s because they’re self-centered bigots, like those two young men.

By the way, I read that at 5am. Many of us liberals also get up early to get our work done.

They’re hard workers. As a kid, one washed dishes, took orders and swept the floor at a restaurant. Every summer, the other picked sweet corn by hand at dawn for a farm stand and for grocery stores, and then went to work all day on his parents’ farm. Now one is a welder, and the other is in his first year at a state university on an academic scholarship. They are conservative, believe in hard work, family, the military and cops, and they know that abortion and socialism are evil, that Jesus Christ is our savior, and that Donald J. Trump will be good for America.

And working hard makes them different from liberals…how? My father, a proud liberal and union member, basically worked himself to death as a mechanic, often working two jobs at a time to keep his family well. I started working when I was 12; I had a job shoveling rocks that ended up wrecking my knees. I worked my way through junior and senior high school in agricultural jobs, too, and got an academic scholarship to the state college, and wouldn’t have been able to go if I hadn’t.

I’m liberal AF. My siblings are similarly liberal, and also have had to work hard all their lives.

Back when I lived in that “Acela corridor”, I taught at an urban college, and my classes were full of first generation college kids from black families who aspired to be doctors…and they worked their asses off. They got there out of barely adequate high schools and had to play catch-up with all the kids who came there with advantages. I doubt those men and women are now Trump voters.

I know that rural, conservative kids also have to work hard — I’ve got them in my classes right now. This is a universal human condition, that we have to work to better ourselves, but it’s goddamn conservatives that try to claim it as their own, unique, special property, along with other virtues like patriotism and responsibility, while denying those virtues to others. Again, it’s not hard work that sets them apart, it’s bigotry.

It is not a good thing that those two men reflexively regard abortion and socialism as evil — they don’t know anything about either. And dare I point out that another strange property of both of those essays is that they take an exclusively male point of view? Driving big trucks and controlling women’s reproductive freedom seem to be such stereotypically masculine attitudes.

But wait! We haven’t yet met our quota of conservative bullshit! Here’s the argument that most persuaded the NY Times essayist.

“The difference between Republicans and Democrats is that Republicans believe people are fundamentally bad, while Democrats see people as fundamentally good,” said Mr. Watts, who was in the area to campaign for Senator Rand Paul. “We are born bad,” he said and added that children did not need to be taught to behave badly — they are born knowing how to do that.

“We teach them how to be good,” he said. “We become good by being reborn — born again.”

He continued: “Democrats believe that we are born good, that we create God, not that he created us. If we are our own God, as the Democrats say, then we need to look at something else to blame when things go wrong — not us.”

Mr. Watts talked about the 2015 movie theater shooting in Lafayette, La., in which two people were killed. Mr. Watts said that Republicans knew that the gunman was a bad man, doing a bad thing. Democrats, he added, “would look for other causes — that the man was basically good, but that it was the guns, society or some other place where the blame lies and then they will want to control the guns, or something else — not the man.” Republicans, he said, don’t need to look anywhere else for the blame.

Ah, so they’re bigots who believe in a dishonest caricature of Christianity. That makes it all better.

None of what Watts said is true. Liberals also think the theater shooter was a bad man. It’s just that, when you’ve got these mass murders popping up all over the place, it is short-sighted and unproductive to simply play whack-a-mole with them one by one — at some point you have to ask yourselves, why? What’s driving these crimes? What enables them? Can we get to the root causes and prevent these problems before they happen?

Conservatives apparently think it’s as simple as declaring one person to be bad, and then throwing up their hands and saying we can’t do anything about it. Fuck that attitude.

I’ve only touched on that godawful essay — I’m going to have to turn it over to the Rude Pundit to give it a more appropriate treatment.

It’s all bullshit. The rest of Leonard’s column is about how it seems like cities in red states are taken care of by their government, but not the rural parts of the state, where the roads need to be improved and there is a need for police and firefighters and EMTs: “To rural Americans, sometimes it seems our taxes mostly go to making city residents live better. We recognize that the truth is more complex, particularly when it comes to social programs, but it’s the perception that matters — certainly to the way most people vote.”

And there you have the reason why liberals are called “elitist.” We actually know that most of our taxes go to the Republican-run states. We aren’t fucking hypocrites who condemn government, elect people who want to shrink government, and then are pissed off when the government doesn’t offer enough services. We don’t get our news from conspiracy theorists and liars. Are there excesses on the left? Of course. We’re fuckin’ human. But when one group is inclusive of all races and religions and genders and sexual orientations and more, while the other pines for a time when white Christians ran everything, it’s pretty damn clear who the real elitists are.

What you’re calling “elitism” is just simply not being ignorant. We don’t have our heads shoved up Jesus’s ass. And when the left gets angry because of how fucking dumb some of the shit coming out of rural and red mouths is, we’re told we need to understand what they believe. No, we’re just gonna say that stupid is stupid.

You can stop explaining the white working class rural conservative Christian farming folk, hot-takers and self-justifiers. Instead, why don’t you explain liberalism to them? Why don’t you explain that jobs are drying up and communities are dying not because of abortion and same-sex marriage but because of Republican economic policies that have favored the wealthy, most of whom live in cities, including a certain president-elect they voted for who took advantage of those very policies in order to stay rich? Ultimately, though, it won’t matter. Because despite every fucking word to the contrary, the real problem is that those who voted for Trump are racist. They are sexist. They are Islamophobic. They are ignorant.

The whole thrust of these “let’s learn about the yokels” articles is to imply that there are real Americans and there are coastal elites. Sorry, motherfuckers. We’re all Americans. And if I have to suffer under your stupid, you have to hear about our smarts.

Preach it. It astounds me that the NY Times would publish a bad op-ed that purports to argue that conservatives aren’t bigots, they’re just hard working, when the whole foundation of that argument is an acceptance of conservative bigotry that liberals and urban folk (you know, those dark-skinned people) are lazy. Their thesis was a demonstration of the antithesis, which is an academic elitist way of saying they managed to fuck up their own shit.


At least the Washington Post recognizes where the real problem lies: How nostalgia for white Christian America drove so many Americans to vote for Trump. America is not white, so get used to it: citizenship is not defined by the color of your skin. And yeah, let’s dethrone Christianity, too.

If you ever wonder how such a corrupt moron could be elected…

…just look at the American voter. Here’s an exchange that took place: our Trumpkin was gloating about the repeal of Obamacare, and then announces that I’m gonna be fine because he’s insured…through the Affordable Care Act.

acarepeal

Oh, gob. Obamacare is the stupid nickname Republicans gave to the Affordable Care Act, you twit. You deserve every bit of suffering you get in the months to come.

All those other people who are going to suffer, don’t.

I wouldn’t normally be telling you this

I want you to watch the O’Reilly Factor on Fox News, at 8pm ET tonight.

That ad in the NY Times protesting Trump has pissed Ol’ Bill off enough that he has invited a couple of the signatories on to be abused — unfortunately for him, it’ll be Carl Dix and Cornel West, so it might be an incendiary event, and a good time will be held by all.

I guess even I will watch Fox News tonight, much as it pains me.