“Comes to its senses”?

Trump just plopped this one out.

The world will have come to its senses when we get rid of nukes, and when we get rid of sabre-rattling assholes like Donald Fucking Trump. You don’t diminish the threat of nuclear war by strengthening and expanding your nuclear arsenal.

Also, this seems appropriate now.

Another sign of the Apocalypse: Prince Charles is making sense

The wacky gomer with the azure blood and the freaky New Age beliefs actually said something reasonable.

“We are now seeing the rise of many populist groups across the world that are increasingly aggressive to those who adhere to a minority faith. All of this has deeply disturbing echoes of the dark days of the 1930s,” he said.

“My parents’ generation fought and died in a battle against intolerance, monstrous extremism and inhuman attempts to exterminate the Jewish population of Europe.”

Citing UN statistics, he added that a “staggering” 65.3 million people abandoned their homes in 2015 — 5.8 million more than the year before.

“The suffering doesn’t end when they arrive seeking refuge in a foreign land,” he said. “We are now seeing the rise of many populist groups across the world that are increasingly aggressive towards those who adhere to a minority faith.”

I think what it means is that our situation is so perilous that it has cracked through the adamantine crania of privileged royalty.

But what about my evil reputation?

I got interviewed for an article on all us scheming left-wing zealots on the Professor Watch List, and this is what I get? The Minnesotans on the ‘Professor Watchlist’ are disappointingly unthreatening.

Oh, well. “Disappointing” and “Unthreatening” are going right onto my CV.

And yes, I have to agree — it’s a buncha mild-mannered Minnesota professors, dontcha know!

I’m not home yet

Today involved getting up at 4am to take a cab to the airport, a couple of connections, and then landing at the Minneapolis airport — where I now await the shuttle back to Morris, which doesn’t leave for a few hours, will take a few hours, and if it’s anything like the shuttle we took to get here, will be an icebox that will threaten me with frostbite all afternoon.

But it was all worth it! I got to spend a day in balmy New York City, and I spent most of my time with Iris, who took me on a tour of vegan restaurants on Manhattan. Turns out there are a few. (Don’t worry about the squirrels, since this was a vegan tour we eschewed giving them their deserved reward, this time).

irisvanderpluym

Then we realized that alcohol is vegan, so we stopped for a little warmup. It was a phenomenal way to savor the big city.

And then it was time to go to Cooper Union, where we speechified and organized to RefuseFascism.org. It was a great event: a diverse and ferocious crowd — you could hear the rage out there — and I gave a short speech and Iris was asked to read a message of support sent by Gloria Steinem. The whole thing was recorded, so you can watch it right now if you’ve got a few hours to spare. I was one of the first speakers, and once you get past me, it just kept getting better and better. I recommend Jeremy Scahill‘s scathing denunciation of the whole damn system if you want to get your blood boiling.

Look! I glow!

Look! I glow!

And then we went out for beer, as all revolutionaries do, and made a few plans that will emerge later. Finally it was a scant few hours of sleep, and here I am, about to climb into an ambulatory freezer. I’d do it again!

Damned history, quit repeating yourself

caligula

Once upon a time, I took a couple of upper-level courses in Roman history. I had a professor who spent a whole quarter on just Augustus, and it was revealing: there was no one moment where you could say that the Roman Republic became the Roman Empire, and even as it was happening the Emperor (who was just the Princeps, just another guy among all the other guys, he was just first in all things) was able to point to all these wonderful examples of the continuity of tradition. For example, the tribune of the plebs was important: he was elected by the plebeians to represent their class, and he had all these abilities, like being able to propose legislation directly to the people for a vote, and he had the power to veto legislation. The position was a key check on the power of the aristocracy.

Augustus didn’t get rid of it. He just adopted the tribunician power for himself. So you could go looking for a tribune of the plebs to represent you if you were plebeian, and still find him…he was just the Princeps himself, which kind of defeated the whole purpose, but literally, one could argue you hadn’t lost anything. The fall of the Republic took decades, as all the diverse checks and balances got consolidated into granting absolute power to one individual.

Paul Krugman has been reading some ancient history lately, too.

But the ’30s isn’t the only era with lessons to teach us. Lately I’ve been reading a lot about the ancient world. Initially, I have to admit, I was doing it for entertainment and as a refuge from news that gets worse with each passing day. But I couldn’t help noticing the contemporary resonances of some Roman history — specifically, the tale of how the Roman Republic fell.

Here’s what I learned: Republican institutions don’t protect against tyranny when powerful people start defying political norms. And tyranny, when it comes, can flourish even while maintaining a republican facade.

On the first point: Roman politics involved fierce competition among ambitious men. But for centuries that competition was constrained by some seemingly unbreakable rules. Here’s what Adrian Goldsworthy’s “In the Name of Rome” says: “However important it was for an individual to win fame and add to his and his family’s reputation, this should always be subordinated to the good of the Republic … no disappointed Roman politician sought the aid of a foreign power.”

I’m sure historians will look back on the recent history of the American republic and find lots of similar concerns — the gradual aggrandizement of power in the hands of the executive, with the willing help of a senatorial aristocracy (and in our case, a subservient press). It seems like a good idea when you’ve got a competent leader, a Caesar or an Augustus or even dour old Tiberius, but then a Caligula takes the reins and you realize your mistake.

But don’t worry. You can eventually get rid of a Caligula with assassinations, calling in the Praetorians, and treason trials, which of course fixes everything.

Live! In New York! It’s…me!

I’m joining a forlorn hope to call for a refusal to accept our electoral nightmare tonight, at 7pm Eastern. Do I think we’ll succeed? No. Do I think maybe we’ll be part of a movement that might nudge history a little bit? I hope so. All I know for sure is that I can’t just sit back and watch it happen with a stunned expression on my face.

I hope you’re all doing something to oppose this doom that we all seem to be knowingly hurtling towards, while reassuring ourselves it’ll all be fine. Because it won’t.

Another reason to dread the Trump regime

It’s time once again for the nightly Twitter bluster from our embarrassing president-elect.

What do we learn from this, other than that Trump can’t spell? What we should learn is that the world now thinks that America is weak. That was not a science vessel: it was a military ship probing submarine access points to and from Chinese ports. This was in international waters, so I’m not defending the Chinese seizure…but I can understand it, and most importantly, isn’t it obvious that China is confident the US will do nothing about it? They know we are soon to be lacking a serious head of state, with a clownish buffoon who is the product of foreign meddling in our politics, and so hey, sure, let’s poke the dull-witted twit a bit.

Expect more of this. It isn’t just terrorists — established world powers have been annoyed at American dominance for the past century, and they don’t mind tormenting the world’s biggest bully.

“I’m saying people have gotten things wrong throughout the 5,500-year history of our planet.”

An advisor to Trump and member of the transition team just bare-faced asserted that the Earth is less than 6000 years old. This was after Anthony Scaramucci tried to invalidate modern science by arguing that scientists once argued that the Earth was flat and that the universe rotated about it. Never mind that those ideas preceded modern science and were relatively rapidly dispelled as evidence was acquired.

Watch those irony meters, gang.

Scaramucci wasn’t convinced. Later in the conversation, he said the Trump team simply wanted common sense solutions. Non-ideological.

Some of the stuff that you’re reading and some of the stuff I’m reading is very ideologically-based about the climate. We don’t want it to be that way, he said.

This has become the latest insult from the deeply ignorant: “You’re ideological!” Always said as they espouse some stupid ideological position of their own.

Rebecca Watson addresses this latest Trumpery more entertainingly.

Resist now

We’ve added a new group blog to our roster, FREETHOUGHT RESISTANCE. Many of the writers here can contribute to it, and we’ll be adding more anti-fascist content as time goes on…and as our outrage grows. We’ll also welcome guest posts, and in fact have already added a post from Sunsara Taylor, calling for action at the refusefascism.org site. We would favor posts that have specific proposals and information for activism; tell us about your local event, about organizations working towards good causes, about unjust actions by the illegitimate regime that require responses. Send such posts to any of your favorite bloggers here; we do require that you use a valid email address, but you can request that it be posted anonymously.

What motivated this new blog is the appalling normalization of Trump by the media. We refuse to be part of that, and many of us have decided that we needed to be clear in our stance, that we reject this government hijacking by the alt-right, and further that we oppose the widespread apologetics for racism and misogyny and homophobia and all the other vicious bigotries that have been revitalized by the right. I want to someday be able to tell my grandchildren that I resisted, I fought, I spoke out. I hope you feel the same way.

This will not be us.

When Hitler’s party won influence in Parliament, and even after he was made chancellor of Germany in 1933 – about a year and a half before seizing dictatorial power – many American press outlets judged that he would either be outplayed by more traditional politicians or that he would have to become more moderate. Sure, he had a following, but his followers were “impressionable voters” duped by “radical doctrines and quack remedies,” claimed the Washington Post. Now that Hitler actually had to operate within a government the “sober” politicians would “submerge” this movement, according to The New York Times and Christian Science Monitor. A “keen sense of dramatic instinct” was not enough. When it came to time to govern, his lack of “gravity” and “profundity of thought” would be exposed.

In fact, The New York Times wrote after Hitler’s appointment to the chancellorship that success would only “let him expose to the German public his own futility.” Journalists wondered whether Hitler now regretted leaving the rally for the cabinet meeting, where he would have to assume some responsibility.

Yes, the American press tended to condemn Hitler’s well-documented anti-Semitism in the early 1930s. But there were plenty of exceptions. Some papers downplayed reports of violence against Germany’s Jewish citizens as propaganda like that which proliferated during the foregoing World War. Many, even those who categorically condemned the violence, repeatedly declared it to be at an end, showing a tendency to look for a return to normalcy.

Journalists were aware that they could only criticize the German regime so much and maintain their access. When a CBS broadcaster’s son was beaten up by brownshirts for not saluting the Führer, he didn’t report it. When the Chicago Daily News’ Edgar Mowrer wrote that Germany was becoming “an insane asylum” in 1933, the Germans pressured the State Department to rein in American reporters. Allen Dulles, who eventually became director of the CIA, told Mowrer he was “taking the German situation too seriously.” Mowrer’s publisher then transferred him out of Germany in fear of his life.

We will be taking the Trump situation seriously. We will condemn it without reservation.