(Daily Call cartoon by Mark L. Taylor, 2015. Open source and free to use with link to www.thedailycall.org )
(Daily Call cartoon by Mark L. Taylor, 2015. Open source and free to use with link to www.thedailycall.org )
By Jeb Lund
The Guardian (11/23/15)
Donald Trump is exhausting. On Saturday and Sunday, he said and then repeated that “thousands” of Muslims in New Jersey on 11 September 2001 cheered the attacks on New York City. It never happened, but he doesn’t care who gets hurt.
Trump will keep saying things like that, and by the time journalists are done disproving the last spurious claim, he will be on to the next one. His campaign website might as well be Snopes.com. The only limits to Donald Trump are the limits of belief.
The media could try placing limits on him – but ask Megyn Kelly how well that went for her, or Fox News in general. Or just think how impossible it is for anyone to counter the fantastical with facts.
Oh, yeah, prove my lie wrong
Trump regularly makes things up, then demands that his challengers prove him wrong. Most of the time, proving him wrong requires the impossibility of proving a negative, which gives Trump all the room he needs to maneuver.
You can prove that there weren’t Muslims thronging the Jersey shore to cheer the ruins of the World Trade Center, but you can’t prove that Donald Trump didn’t see Super-8 footage of a Jersey warehouse show of a Kharijite Supertramp cover band playing in front of a van airbrushed with the words “Death to Breakfast in America”. You can’t prove Donald Trump isn’t Batman. You can’t prove he’s remembering a different timestream that he changed using the Icarus Device.
On this particular assertion, you could ask ABC’s George Stephanopoulos how well confronting Trump on his Sunday morning show went:
STEPHANOPOULOS: Police say it didn’t happen.
TRUMP: There were people that were cheering on the other side of New Jersey, where you have large Arab populations. They were cheering as the World Trade Center came down. I know it might be not politically correct for you to talk about it, but there were people cheering as that building came down – as those buildings came down. And that tells you something. It was well covered at the time, George. Now, I know they don’t like to talk about it, but it was well covered at the time. There were people over in New Jersey that were watching it, a heavy Arab population, that were cheering as the buildings came down. Not good.
STEPHANOPOULOS: As I said, the police have said it didn’t happen.
You can see the trouble Stephanopoulos had – and that all the media has. Because the howls of movement conservatism have warped journalistic “objectivity” to mean “agnostic about objective reality to the point of having no opinion about its existence”, Stephanopoulos can only appeal to an authority to counter Trump, who can then appeal to whatever he saw or knows himself is true, or simply claim that the authority can’t disprove him.
Unless Stephanopoulos could quote from other police departments, reality is out of evidentiary material. And because of modern he-said/she-said journalism’s default treatment of both sides as equally valid, the act of Trump’s merely saying “No, George” reduces Trump’s fabulism to a difference of opinion.
Even if Stephanopoulos had called out Trump’s statements as lies, his efforts would have failed with a lot of people anyway – not just because Stephanopoulos would have been violating “objectivity”, but for a reason Trump illustrated in his reply: “I know it might be not politically correct for you to talk about it.”
Truth is so politically correct
To the not-awful, “politically correct” still means trying to avoid doing things that make people feel awful. To Trump voters or Ben Carson voters – and movement conservatism more broadly – politically correct has migrated to mean “any fact I dislike and can gainsay as solely the insistence of uppity liberal elites”.
Stephanopoulos’s job is futile in a world in which facts are negotiable: being told that two plus two equals four when you want it to be five is then just the tyrannical imposition of a pinhead. In the same way that Trump’s feelings about reality function, even correct math is smug in a way that “truth” is not: “truth” is something unique and knowable, a process of personal revelation. Whatever the truth is, you already know it, in your gut or heart or some southernly organ.
If you then know that even Muslim Americans hate America, a claim that there weren’t thousands of them cheering the smoking crater of the WTC merely proves that reality is deficient. You know that people get history wrong all the time. It’s why boards of education keep trying to remove slavery from the American timeline. You know America would never do that.
Winning no matter what
Trump knows too well how personal truth trumps reality. His demeanor with people like Stephanopoulos shows that consistency and accuracy are his least concerns. Like his sales pitch to America, the point is always winning, winning all the time, winning until people get sick of winning.
At any given moment, what is real to Donald Trump is whatever he needs to say to prove whatever point he’s already decided must be true, which is whatever he decided was already necessary to serve some other purpose. Like an old sitcom episode in which the entire family has to tell a series of lies because the boss is coming over for dinner, it’s a concatenation of situational deceit expanding so relentlessly that nobody can remember what the original squalid point of it was.
Trump is not even original in his willingness to bend reality to his political will. The current iteration of the situational lie goes back to a Bush administration aide’s disclosure to Ron Suskind that we’re not in “the reality-based community” anymore.
We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality … we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too … We’re history’s actors … and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.
The only difference between Bush and Trump is that Trump is so crass about it.
Trump supporter at rally. (site.cisternyard.com)
Trump’s crassness may be the only limit to his strategy’s utility. A campaign and a reality dependent on Donald Trump’s solipsism has worked so far, but Trump has no self-restraint. He can’t stop making things up to suit himself and win arguments of dubious relevance with people he considers beneath him but whom he can’t stop bullying anyway. All that punching down risks missing and hitting people whose own solipsistic understanding of reality already has them punching up at any elite pointing a fact at them crosswise.
Wait a sec’, that doesn’t add up!
Trump’s pandering is truly peerless, but sooner or later, it may run afoul of his own competitiveness. He will be fine so long as he takes care never to make something up contrary to the polite fictions beloved by his base. But, one day, he won’t be able to help himself. He will tell some insolent person waving arithmetic at him that he has some of the best mathematicians in the world, All the best math guys, they know all the very beautiful, very exclusive math, and we know that two plus two is seven.
And somewhere a supporter will think, That can’t be right. Two plus two is five.
By Tom Ashbrook
On Point Radio (11/18/15)
The story of the Mayflower Pilgrims is more complicated – beautiful and frightening — than we were taught in school. We listen and learn.
The Pilgrims weren’t the first colony in America, but they’ve become the country’s origin story. We learn in school about their flight from tyranny, their religious yearning, their difficulties. Then we boil it down to maybe a moment of prayer and throwing a heck of a Thanksgiving. The true, deep story of the Pilgrims is more harrowing and challenging than we generally acknowledge. Their suffering. Their radicalism. Their resorting to bloodletting to survive. And then, how they took center stage in our history. This hour On Point, a new documentary on the deep, true story of the Pilgrims.
(Editor’s Note: Be sure to watch this wonderful woman’s interview. — Mark L. Taylor)
By Alana Horowitz Satlin
Huffington Post (11/25/15)
The mother of a first responder who died during the September 11th attacks has a message for Donald Trump: get out of America.
Responding to Trump’s recent anti-Muslim remarks, Talat Hamadi told MSNBC:
“You know, he himself came, his grandparents, came from Germany, Donald Trump’s. So, maybe it’s time for him to go back to Germany and advocate his pro-Nazi policies over there.”
Last week, Trump said that we “absolutely” should have a database that tracks Muslims in America, an idea reminiscent of the way Jewish people were treated in Nazi Germany. He has also repeated a debunked tale about people of Middle Eastern descent cheering on 9/11 in New Jersey.
Hamadi’s son Mohammad Salman was a first responder in the attacks– and a Muslim-American. She said that Trump and other presidential candidates who’ve made comments against Muslims don’t deserve to be elected.
“If you are running for a presidential position, you are taking an oath to defend the Constitution,” she said. “But here you are, you will violate the Constitution. So you don’t deserve, you’re not eligible to be a president of any country.”
Watch more of her remarks in the video above, courtesy of “MSNBC Live with Thomas Roberts.”
By Mark Mooney
CNN Money (11/25/15)
Trump waved his arms in an awkward manner to lampoon Serge Kovaleski at a rally in South Carolina Tuesday night. Kovaleski has a chronic condition called arthrogryposis, which limits the movement of his arms.
The New York Times was offended. “We find it’s outrageous that he would ridicule the appearance of one of our reporters,” a spokesperson told CNNMoney.
Trump’s performance was prompted by a story Kovaleski had written in 2001 that refuted claims that thousands of Muslims in Jersey City cheered the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center.
Trump is insisting that he saw “thousands” of Muslims celebrating in Jersey City, N.J., as the twin towers burned fell on the other side of the Hudson River.
Kovaleski worked for the Washington Post in 2001 and investigated those reports immediately after the terror attack. His story concluded that the alleged celebrations by Muslims didn’t happen.
He was interviewed this week by the Washington Post about his 2001 reporting. “I certainly do not remember anyone saying that thousands or even hundreds of people were celebrating. That was not the case, as best as I can remember,” Kovaleski told the Post.
Trump used an exaggerated voice and arm action as he pretended to be Kovaleski.
“Now the poor guy, you’ve got to see this guy: ‘Uhh, I don’t know what I said. I don’t remember.’ He’s going, ‘I don’t remember. Maybe that’s what I said,’ ” Trump said.
Trump knows Kovaleski and is aware of his physical appearance from the years when Kovaleski worked at the New York Daily News and frequently covered Trump.
A spokesperson for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Trump has frequently attacked reporters who have displeased him during his presidential campaign. One of his targets has been Fox host Megyn Kelly who angered Trump with her questions during the first GOP debate on Fox. He has ridiculed Kelly and her show.
He has also attacked conservative commentators including Hugh Hewitt, Glenn Beck, Erick Erickson, Charles Krauthammer and George Will. His descriptions have ranged from “total dope” to “loser.”
By William Boardman
Reader Supported News (11/25/15)
“Rooted in a story of generosity and partnership, Thanksgiving offers an opportunity for us to express our gratitude for the gifts we have and to show our appreciation for all we hold dear….”
So begins the official Presidential Proclamation of Thanksgiving Day, 2015, signed and issued by Barack Obama. While it hearkens back to earlier Thanksgivings in St. Augustine in 1565 and Plymouth in 1621, this is an essentially imperial document than gives only vague lip service to giving “thanks for the many blessings bestowed upon us.” When his proclamation gets specific, in the third sentence, the President gives the highest place of grateful honor to the source of global American imperial dominance:
We also honor the men and women in uniform who fight to safeguard our country and our freedoms so we can share occasions like this with loved ones, and we thank our selfless military families who stand beside and support them each and every day.
This is, of course, fatuous pandering and a patent lie that is widely and unthinkingly shared by much of a preoccupied populace. Our country and our freedoms have needed no serious military defense for decades. Even amidst the popular revival of terrorism hysteria these days, our country and our freedoms need no military protection, because they face no credible military threat.
It is a nice thought to imagine Americans quietly sharing an inclusive and comforting community in which we express gratitude for our gifts and share them with others wherever in the world they meet our military. That might actually achieve the aspiration of showing “appreciation for all we hold dear.” But the sad reality seems to be that, as a nation, we no longer know what we hold dear, or even what we once believed we held dear.
Our country and our freedoms are unthreatened by others around the world despite our well-cultivated baseless fear. At home, our country and our freedoms are daily attacked by the cold dead hand of the unelected corporate state. Our country and our freedoms are daily attacked by the shrill, vicious demagoguery of divisive factions that are as dedicated to the dominance of minority views as any Taliban or ISIS or other monomaniacal evangelist. Our country and our freedoms go daily undefended by a feckless, reckless government that would rather control a cowed population than seek conciliation and general well-being for all.
As things now stand in a nation more exceptional for its fragmentation than its collective sense of confidence and purpose, a more honest sampling of appreciation for what some Americans hold dear might include:
As some were wont to say back in the day: “Things are going to get a whole lot worse before they start getting worse.”
So we can be thankful that things aren’t worse already.
Blessing on all, regardless of just deserts.
By Marina Fang
Huffington Post (11/24/15)
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) on Tuesday denied businessman Donald Trump’s recent claim that “thousands and thousands” of Muslims in his state celebrated the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
“I don’t recall it happening. I don’t think it did,” Christie, a Republican presidential hopeful, told Fox News’ Bret Baier. “As I said before, if that had happened, I would have recalled it, and I don’t.”
Trump, the GOP front-runner, last week claimed he saw television news footage of “thousands and thousands of people in Jersey City cheering” the 2001 terrorist attacks. But there is no evidence to support that claim, and PolitiFact gave it a “Pants on Fire” rating.
Other GOP presidential contenders also have said Trump’s claim is dubious.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) on Tuesday joined those pushing back on Trump’s statement.
“I don’t recall that,” Bush told reporters asking about Trump’s contention at a campaign stop in South Carolina. “There wasn’t any cheering. That would have been on television. That would have been recorded. This is just wrong. There were — what I remember was a lot of peaceful Muslims that were disheartened and aggrieved and sad and angry, just as every other American was as well.”
Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson on Monday initially backed Trump, saying he remembered seeing the TV footage. But later in the day, Carson’s campaign walked back the statement, saying he had confused New Jersey with the Middle East.
This is a great protest song by English-born singer songwriter Ian Robb, who now lives in Ottawa. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a YouTube of him performing it. I did find this version by amateur musician Jim Luckett. In a way I prefer hearing an amateur singing it. No matter, listen to the lyrics. You’ll find no better summary of what the Wall Street crowd is readying us for.
— Mark L. Taylor, Editor
The Onion (11/24/15)
JEFFERSONTOWN, KY—Expressing frustration at not having left the house sooner, local bigot Doug Weber, 43, was reportedly annoyed late Monday night after discovering that the mosque he intended to deface had been vandalized before he got there.
“Shit, somebody beat me to it,” said Weber, clenching his jaw and shaking his head as he scrutinized the graffiti-covered walls of the Muslim place of worship. “Ugh, I can’t fucking believe this. I drove all the way across town and there isn’t even a single window left to smash. I went and got all this goddamn spray paint, too. Now what am I supposed to do with it?”
At press time, Weber decided to just spray-paint a Muslim slur on top of the other graffiti.
— Kirsten West Savali
(See “As American As … The KKK”, below.)
By Kirsten West Savali
The Root (11/24/15)
If a mad scientist locked himself in a laboratory and threw racism, sexism, Islamophobia, xenophobia, imperialism, classism, elitism and delusions of grandeur into a boiling cauldron, the result would be Donald John Trump.
Donald Trump is America.
In so many ways, he is what this white supremacist nation clings to with slippery fingers in last-ditch efforts to hold on to its dreams of so-called exceptionalism.
This is a man who, in 2015, is on the national stage seriously talking about banning mosques, while his right-wing propaganda machine legitimizes his insanity with a dedication that is nothing short of alarming. If the United States were Animal Farm, Fox News would be Squealer’s Network.
Deceitful, manipulative, determined.
During a conversation with a friend, he said to me that Trump “stands against absolutely every single thing this country was founded on. No exceptions.” And I had to disagree, because Donald Trump stands firmly in the tradition of a country for whom all (white) men are created equal—and no one else. Unless, of course, that white man is trans, gay or disabled. If that is the case, his privilege doesn’t carry quite as much weight.
Still, no politician would dare stand in front of throngs of supporters and say white people need to be deported because “they are rapists and criminals”—as Trump has said of Latino immigrants—even if those white people being identified were, in fact, rapists and criminals.
No politician would dare say that white protesters deserve to be “roughed up,” as Trump said of a black man who was attacked by his rabid, racist supporters in Birmingham, Ala.
No politician would dare say that white people—despite white, male supremacists (such as himself) being the primary perpetrators of terrorist acts in this country—need special identification cards, as Trump has said of Muslim Americans.
Trump is America because he feels entitled, righteous even, in standing against allowing freedom, justice and opportunity for marginalized groups. Racism and exclusion are foundational pillars of this country—and, in that, Donald Trump is on solid ground.
When some observers said he’d never be a serious contender, I said we’d better analyze his chances critically.
No laughs on the precipice
And here we are, on the precipice of the next presidential election, and no one is laughing anymore.
This is killing season for black and brown Americans. We are living during a time period when the rate of police killings rivals the rate of lynchings at the turn of the 20th century.
As racial and political tensions continue to escalate, Donald Trump—and those who follow him—smells blood in the water and he feeds off the frenzy his racist rhetoric incites in his supporters. He lusts after it, growing taller and stronger as he takes the wheel of his metaphorical DeLorean and attempts to transport this country back to a time when “whites only” wasn’t just an unspoken agenda, but the written law.
The following clip could alternatively be titled “Trump’s Dream for America”: [Follow link below.]
We’re talking about whiteness as a system. Whiteness as the default for humanity. Whiteness that makes room for a token of color here and there in transparent attempts at claiming diversity, as Trump has done with his new, Sarah Palin-endorsed spokeswoman Katrina Pierson.
Whiteness that dares to hold itself exempt from contempt when the worst terrorist organization this country has ever seen is comprised of Christian, white men wearing sheets.
Trump is Strom Thurmond. He is David Duke. He is Woodrow Wilson. If the Ku Klux Klan had lobbying power, he would be its favored candidate. I’m sure he still is.
He is unbowed in his bigoted ways, relishes the controversy and thrives on being cast as a “politically incorrect” rebel, knowing that he is in perfect alignment with a political machine that thrives on racism, cronyism and corporate capitalism.
Trump is the United States of America embodied, a perfect example of a system that is not broken, but functioning exactly as intended. If he is a joke, then the joke is on us—and the punch line is far from funny.
By Paul Krugman
The New York Times (11/22/15)
Alan Abramowitz reads the latest WaPo poll and emails:
Read these results and tell me how Trump doesn’t win the Republican nomination? I’ve been very skeptical about this all along, but I’m starting to change my mind. I think there’s at least a pretty decent chance that Trump will be the nominee.
Here’s why I think Trump could very well end up as the nominee:
1. He’s way ahead of every other candidate now and has been in the lead or tied for the lead for a long time.
2. The only one even giving him any competition right now is Carson who is even less plausible and whose support is heavily concentrated among one (large) segment of the base—evangelicals.
3. Rubio, the great establishment hope now, is deep in third place, barely in double digits and nowhere close to Trump or Carson.
4. By far the most important thing GOP voters are looking for in a candidate is someone to “bring needed change to Washington.”
5. He is favored on almost every major issue by Republican voters including immigration and terrorism by wide margins. The current terrorism scare only helps him with Republicans. They want someone who will “bomb the shit” out of the Muslim terrorists.
6. There is clearly strong support among Republicans for deporting 11 million illegal immigrants. They don’t provide party breakdown here, but support for this is at about 40 percent among all voters so it’s got to be a lot higher than that, maybe 60 percent, among Republicans.
7. If none of the totally crazy things he’s said up until now have hurt him among Republican voters, why would any crazy things he says in the next few months hurt him?
8. He’s very strong in several of the early states right now including NH, NV and SC. And he could do very well on “Super Tuesday” with all those southern states voting. I can’t see anyone but Trump or Carson winning in Georgia right now, for example, most likely Trump.
9. And as for the idea of the GOP establishment ganging up on him and/or uniting behind another candidate like Rubio, that’s at least as likely to backfire as to work. And even if it works, what’s to stop Trump from then running as an independent?
Indeed. You have a party whose domestic policy agenda consists of shouting “death panels!”, whose foreign policy agenda consists of shouting “Benghazi!”, and which now expects its base to realize that Trump isn’t serious. Or to put it a bit differently, the definition of a GOP establishment candidate these days is someone who is in on the con, and knows that his colleagues have been talking nonsense. Primary voters are expected to respect that?
Jesus taming the wild beast — in real time! (regretfulmorning.com)
By Gayatri Devi
The Guardian (11/22.15)
There is an appeal to creationism for certain people: it lies in the ability to submit to a myth without reflection, debate or real understanding. But the ultimate goal in promoting it as a point of legitimate pedagogical inquiry appears to be to coerce the obedience of a superstitious civic collective under a socially and politically regressive leadership.
And now it’s being used in this election cycle to counter intellectual and academic freedom in educational institutions.
Mike Huckabee and Ben Carson have both expressed their support of creationism and denial of evolution, with Carson attributing the teachings of evolution to “the Adversary”, Satan. Carson has promised that, if he becomes president, he would make the US Department of Education withdraw federal funding from institutions that show “extreme political bias”.
Carson’s example of “extreme political bias”? One lone professor who asked students to write “Jesus” on a sheet of paper and stomp on it. Carson omitted to add to his inflammatory account that the professor used the exercise to prove to his communication students that stomping on the word “Jesus” would be a marked example of a failed intercultural communication strategy.
There are legitimate ways to discuss the Bible critically and aesthetically; in the academic context, that can take the form of courses in literature, philosophy, comparative religion and even law. Like other scriptures, biblical stories are exemplary texts of literature that promise many benefits for the alert reader. But there is no valid reason to use creationism where more rigorous methods of scientific inquiry are superior.
The Republican presidential candidates’ public obsession with creationism, though, isn’t really about education. It’s about cementing their Christian credentials with the influential evangelical voting block by announcing their opposition to all that is not heterosexual, Christian and not “speaking American” — whatever that means.
It can be a winning strategy: a 2014 Gallup poll showed that 42% ofAmericans believe that God created human beings in their present form 10,000 years ago. And a 2014 Pew Research Center poll of American voting behavior found that 78% of white evangelicals voted for Republican candidates, while only 20% voted for Democratic candidates.
The Republican obsequiousness to creationist philosophy might not be as anti-science as much as it is good politics: being pro-creationism often appears to be pandering to a conservative base – a way to whip up intellectually regressive policies to win the “culture wars” and, more importantly, elections.
However, while the right-wing secret handshake of creationism may appeal to a certain base, the future president will have to represent a vast, heterogeneous population in an increasingly globalized world. Letting go of the false sense of superiority – of religion, race, sexual orientation, nationality – might prove to be a decent first step in speaking to the world, and having the world listen in.
The Bible provides one explanation for the origins of the earth from one world religion, so it is bigotry to tell all Americans – or indeed the world – that everyone should believe in the Christian creation myth. Perhaps worse, Republicans’ using the public education system to proselytize [s]hows a dangerous willingness to disregard science and logic in the service of defending the “rights” of a right-wing cohort feeling increasingly besieged.
No one is telling Christians that they can’t believe that the Earth is a couple thousand years old and was created in six days, if they want. But there’s no need to teach everyone else’s children a myth when there’s science to explain our origins – unless the goal is to make sure everyone grows up believing what they’re told, rather than what their eyes can see.
RoundRiver Institute LLC