Salon and the Political Ad Hominem

Sure, Mike Rogers and Trey Gowdy are low-grade partisan hacks. But John Cornyn stands out for sheer shamelessness

Source: Who will be the next FBI director? Trump has many bad choices, but Sen. John Cornyn stands out as the worst –

I’m (almost) nobody’s idea of a liberal,* but I recognize that no political ethos holds a monopoly on the truth, so I appreciate (and pay for) good thinking from across the spectrum.

When Salon was birthed to decades ago, I had hopes that it would be the repository of thoughtful liberalism. Some days it is. But to watch the publication sink to the ad hominem is discouraging. Clickbait or no, name-calling has no place in any thoughtful journal of American politics.

In fairness, I’m going to start calling out the right and center as well. It’s time we end name-calling, and the editors of these publications need to rise above pandering and start attacking words, actions, and positions.

At the same time, I’m going to start restraining my own grade-school playground rhetoric. Please feel free to call me on it if I fall into that trap again.


* The key word here is “almost.” To the reactionaries of the alt-right, I must seem somewhere to the left of Lenin.

The (Bad) Liar in the White House

Maybe the White House is telling the truth here, but I don’t believe it. How can anybody believe it?The thing to keep in mind is that this Dumpster fire is entirely of Trump’s own making. Maybe Comey deserved to be fired. If so, you don’t fire him in the middle of this Russia investigation, you don’t fire him in a dirty way guaranteed to raise everyone’s suspicions, and you sure don’t lie about it, and send your people (Pence, Sanders, et al.) out to lie about it.

Source: Trump: An Unusually Bad Liar | The American Conservative

And there it is: the real issue.

Unfit. To. Be. President.

The longer Trump stays in office with Republican support, the faster that any position with a conservative taint will lose legitimacy in the American dialogue.

Trump Looms as Kushner Companies Courts Investors in China – The New York Times

“Ms. Meyer wanted to make clear that her brother had stepped away from the company in January and has nothing to do with this project,” said Risa Heller, a Kushner Companies spokeswoman. “Kushner Companies apologizes if that mention of her brother was in any way interpreted as an attempt to lure investors. That was not Ms. Meyer’s intention.”

She may have wanted to. She did not.

Therefore, Ms, Meyer, and by extension the Kushner Companies, are either attempting to hoodwink their Chinese investors, or they are attempting to hoodwink those of us concerned about the conflict of interest.

Or both.


Fighting Words

“If something needs fixing, then lace up your shoes and do some organizing,” the President implored. “If you’re disappointed by your elected officials, grab a clip board, get some signatures, and run for office yourself.”

Source: ‘Lace Up Your Shoes and Organize’: Watch Obama’s Push For Participation in Politics | TIME

I have and retain severe differences with Mr. Obama. But that single quote is priceless, and should be permanently engraved above the chalkboard of every civics and American Government class in the nation.

Democracy is not a spectator sport. Let’s stop sitting around sharing memes, stewing in our glandular indignation and waiting for our names to be called.

Our Founding Fathers created a system designed around the imperative of citizen involvement.

Either we get off the bench and into the game right now, or the plutocrats and the illiberal will lead us into tyranny and decline.

Get it Together

Still, the Post reported, “interest groups and like-minded lawmakers are laying the groundwork to push Clinton, if she is elected, to prove her progressive bona fides through early legislation and personnel appointments.”

Source: With Progressives Ready in the Wings, No Post-Election Honeymoon for Clinton | Common Dreams | Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community

Mark my words:

Four years from now I’m going to raise my hand and remind some people that the big reason Clinton could not accomplish anything substantive during her time in office, despite majorities in both houses on the Hill, was that even her own party refused to support her.

And four years from now I will be told that, no, it was the fault of just about anyone except the Democratic rank and file that she was hamstrung.

With this kind of bickering even before the polls open, those among us who are hoping to end the Washington gridlock by voting a Democratic ticket will find ourselves bereft of incentive to go even cast a ballot.


The Growing Education Income Gap

College-educated workers are now the largest share of the workforce, a new study finds, after gaining the bulk of the jobs in the recovery.

Source: College-Educated Workers Now Dominate the Labor Market – Real Time Economics – WSJ

A sobering article.

Here is the question: does the growing income divide suggest that everyone needs a bachelor’s degree to have positive long-term prospects? Or is the real solution something less obvious and more complex?

It is now time to have a serious discussion in this country about offering choices to our kids at the secondary school level that will either prepare them for academia or prepare them to become civil servants, tradespeople, artisans, and craftsmen.


Brexit and Racism

Plenty of late-night voices have weighed in on Brexit. But Samantha Bee’s Monday night take really got interesting when she got into the effects of the referendum’s success on British society—namely, the empowerment and (at least self-perceived) normalization of white supremacists. Racial and ethnic slurs on social media and in the real world, along with calls to “get out of our country” and even a “make Britain great again,” have threatened minority populations in one of the world’s great strongholds of diversity.

Source: Samantha Bee Explains Why Brexit Is Really About White Supremacy

I was good and ready to hate this clip. I am not a fan of Samantha Bee, who strikes me as aught more than a professional attention-monger and Jon Stewart wannabee pumping out glandular lefty hyperbole to get cheap laughs from everyone living on the blue side of the aisle.

But this clip may be the best thing she’s done since starting her show. Please ignore the headline. Bee does not say that Brexit is all about white supremacy.

She has the intelligence to understand that Britain’s history with the EU is fraught and complex. She does not mention, but surely understands, the fundamental miscalculations made by Eurocentrists in their quest to turn an economic union into a single polity of two dozen states. She acknowledges the social and economic disruption caused in Britain by the unprecedented (since 1066, anyway) immigration it has experienced. And she reminds us of the growing dissatisfaction among the working-class and middle-class in Britain with the uneven distribution of the benefits of globalization, and a frustration with political elites.

So she does not say that the Brexit vote is all about white supremacy. Her key point is this: whatever the reasons for the Brexit vote, it has given Britain’s vocal minority of racists and xenophobes the mistaken impression that half of their country agrees with them.

And that’s the kicker: whatever other reason you might have to vote for or against Donald Trump, you must acknowledge that by voting for him you are aligning yourself with some of the meanest, most ignorant pond-scum among our fellow citizens, and in so doing reinforcing their belief in the legitimacy of their baseless hatreds.

Watching the video, the one American – aside from Donald Trump – who looks really foolish in all of this is Van Jones. Bee shows one of Jones’ videos, and he is almost hyperventilating in his angst about how Brexit means that the door is wide open for Jim Crow (or worse) to return to America.

Jones is proof that there are those in America who reduce the Brexit to a battle between white supremacy on the one hand a liberal inclusiveness on the other, not in an effort to tell the truth, but in order to hijack the issue for their own narrow political ends.

To her credit, Bee resists going down that road. She seems to understand that the way to steer America clear of its darkest future is not to attempt to drag the nation to the opposite extreme, but to forge a consensus around the center. One can only hope that such reasonable voices dominate the American dialogue in the months remaining before the election.