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 – Salon.com

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.

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This is No Longer about Trump, or Congress

I believe that many of them are deeply conflicted. That in the leather chairs of Capitol Hill at the end of each of these long Spring days, there is no shortage of Republican legislators sitting alone in their offices or committee rooms, drinking scotch, and cogitating on their futures.

I suspect that there may be a few who have taken campaign coin from Trump or his supporters who are wondering exactly how long they need to “stay bought” before they can begin responding to the popular cry.

And, in the end, I think most will need irrefutable, impeachment-quality evidence to shift their support.

No, Mr. Frum. This is no longer about the President, or even Congress. It is now about the facts.

The future of President Donald Trump, of the Republican Party, and possibly the nation, now lies in the hands of Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller and relies upon the moral fortitude of a small handful of men and women at the Department of Justice, and their ability to ascertain the facts in the face of a President who seems determined to hide them.

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.

 

Tory, Tory Hallelujah 

In the wake of one of the most outspoken political campaigns in American history, the most inspiring political address that I have heard in a decade did not come from an American leader, but an English one.

Not everyone will agree with all of what British Prime Minister Theresa May says. Yet even her opponents must concede that hers was the most coherent expression of a right-centrist approach to the world order that we have heard in America in a very long time. It was positively Churchillian.

Her speech was to me as much a silent pointed finger at the intellectual bankruptcy of the American right as it was a foreign policy manifesto for the American center. It pandered to neither left nor right. It was liberal internationalism tempered by realpolitik, a recognition that whole-cloth globalism must be amalgamated with a respect for the nation-state as the best servant of the people, and a focus on the well-being of all people, not just oligarchs and corporations.

She covered a great deal of ground, and I’ll be excerpting over her speech over next few weeks.

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.

Soapbox: The Safe Space Issue

UC Berkeley ‘identity’ groups protest for safe spaces, block passage to white students
The College Fix
October 25, 2016

[Stepping onto soapbox:]

Attention students of the University of California, and, by extension, students of all public institutions of higher learning across this great state:

If you need a space free from debate, from intellectual challenge, and from viewpoints that you find objectionable, I am sorry, but you have come to the wrong place.

As a California taxpayer and a UC alumnus, I am more than happy to pay my taxes to ensure that you are safe from physical harm on campus, and will not tolerate violence against you from any source as long as you do none to others or their property. I will also not tolerate racism, threats of violence, or any form of coercive pressure upon you to conform to a point of view or ethos, whether that coercion is social, physical, or academic. You have every right to expect that there is room for you to state and defend your ideas.

But I will not pay one red cent either to protect you from ideas, opinions, and images you find objectionable, or from having your ideas intellectually manhandled, disproven, and perhaps even ridiculed. You are adults, ostensibly with the discernment and maturity to handle the intellectual challenges that are an integral part of the university experience.

Neither will I support you being sheltered from poor grades, providing they come not because of the opinions you hold, but because of your failure to defend them in accordance with the accepted standards of Socratic debate. Nor will I pay to protect you from poor grades if they are the result of your failure to support your argument to the academic standards that are the foundation of a liberal education.

That is not just my selfish opinion: it is stated differently, but that’s the fine print that comes when you sign your name to your enrollment forms.

An American university is not a four-year vocational school for entitled, sheltered, pampered members of the managerial class. It is a program to inculcate in you the intellectual rigor you require to take on positions of responsibility and leadership. That program is conducted via the time-honored means of adversity, challenge, debate, growth, and learning.

So if you lack the requisite discernment and maturity, if your own opinions and self-image are so fragile that you are unable to handle intellectual challenge, may I suggest, with love and respect, that maybe you are not yet ready for a university experience, and that perhaps you should pursue a different path until such time as you are ready?

So leave.

Or, better yet, get over it. Go back to class/your dorm/the library/the coffee house. Stand up. Shout your opinions. Make yourself count. Voice your anger. Fight injustice. Go to class. Learn from your professors and your adversaries how to make your voice not just heard but persuasive. And grow.

Because you may not have noticed it, but the world is not a safe place. In fact, it is getting more dangerous by the minute. The only way you will save it is by learning – and learning early – to live in a world filled with people who think, do, and express things that you find personally execrable. More important, you will need to be able to discern between someone who comes to those believes honestly, sincerely, and thoughtfully; and those who espouse their beliefs out of fear, greed, and/or ignorance.

Hail, California, and have a nice day.

[Stepping off of soapbox.]

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