I am tired of purity politics. I’m tired of American political parties demanding homogeneity from their members. I’m tired of being only Democrat or Republican or liberal or conservative or moderate or progressive or neo-conservative or paleo-conservative or environmentalist or libertarian. I’m tired of activists demanding that ‘allies’ be all things to all causes andRead more about Purity Politics and Being All Things to All Peoples[…]
I come not to praise resurgent neoconservative power but to bury Donald Trump’s lurching approach to foreign policy. For many of us who had grown weary of both Republican and Democratic hawkishness, the last Presidential election represented a risky choice or a dismal choice. Hillary Clinton was a (liberal) hawk of such proportions that she had been endorsed by prominent neoconservatives. Donald Trump on the other hand…
Amidst the bombast and the braggadocio, there was a break with the Washington consensus on foreign policy. Trump criticized the Iraq war. He railed against NATO’s usefulness and America’s outsized role in it. He seemed perfectly fine with letting Russia deal with the Syria problem. Yes, he advocated a get-tough stance on ISIS. But it seemed that he really advocated disengagement in situations where America could not do any obvious good.
Though how to trust such an unprincipled man in the first place. If I had believed that candidate Trump would really disengage from the Middle East, I might have considered voting for him. But I didn’t believe him. And his other words on immigration and Islam were so toxic that I didn’t feel I had a choice. So, I held my nose and voted for the liberal hawk, Hillary Clinton. Something about the devil you know being better than the devil you don’t. Read more about America’s Neoconservative & Liberal Hawkishness …
United Airlines is a dickwad. By now, just about everyone knows the incident where police, at the request of United Airlines, forcibly dragged a passenger off a flight because he refused to give up his seat, resulting in injuries to the man. United Airlines wanted to bump him and 3 others so they could seat four of their own employees.
United had unsuccessfully appealed for volunteers who were willing to give up their seats for $800, stay in a hotel and fly the next day. The passengers were removed so airline staff could get to Louisville to man a flight the following day.
That’s when airport law enforcement was called to remove him man by force. Passengers screamed ‘my god what are you doing’ and ‘this is wrong’ as the man was yanked from his seat. He appeared to go limp after being slammed against a headrest and one passenger said he was ‘knocked out’. When no-one else came forward, the air crew came aboard with four slips of paper with the names and seat numbers of passengers and began informing them they had been chosen to leave the plane.
‘They approached his doctor and told him to get off the plane,’ he said. ‘He refused because he had work the next day. He’s a medical doctor. He was very emphatic, “I can’t be late, I’m a doctor, I’ve got to be there tomorrow.’
Anspach, who said that the whole situation had put him off flying with United in the future, said that he saw the passenger hit his face when staff dragged him off.
United has since issued an apology. They say they are working with authorities, who have suspended the officer in question. Yada, yada, yada.
I have heard several people declare they would now be boycotting United Airlines because of this incident. I can respect that and mostly agree with it. It is an egregious misstep on the company’s part. United is not an airline which routinely covers itself in glory. But by and large, every airline has had instances of terrible customer service. Yes, even Southwest Airlines, which has one of the best reputations in the industry. Read more about United Airlines and the Price Race to the Bottom …
I think it’s safe to say that most of you know my political views. I’m fairly liberal on social issues, pro-2nd amendment, pro-free trade/capitalism, anti-neoconservative, anti-right-wing-nationalism. But today, I write to tell of you a position that will prove to be controversial in all but the most backward parts of this country. I will be supporting the New England Patriots in the Superbowl.
I do not come to this decision easily. Like other Americans did on November 8, 2016, I hold my nose while making this particular choice. I do not support the Patriots’ core philosophies. They are a morally bankrupt machine, having continually thumbed their nose at authority and been caught cheating multiple times. Read more about Supporting the New England Trumps …
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the death of civil society and what it means to sound right in the course of attempting to ackrite. One of the biggest bogeymen in American life is the concept of political correctness. In its most original (and I would say benign) form, political correctness demands that we use “language, policies, or measures that are intended to avoid offense or disadvantage to members of particular groups in society”. Such an approach is ripe for abuse and often shuts down debate on those same sensitive topics.
However, the backlash itself against political correctness has gone overboard and squashed reasoned and nuanced debate in this country. Instead, we have replaced debate with a level of coarseness that goes nowhere and leaves almost everyone feeling enervated. We use our best rhetorical cudgels to shout down any dissent on the very topics which require the most civil and thoughtful debate. We’re screaming past each other or not talking at all. Read more about The Un-Civil States of America …
Why do individuals turn to extreme solutions in their quest for a life of significance?
There is a current running through right-wing populism which links with the insecurity experienced by those in the Middle East who have lashed out against the West. People yearn for a life of significance. To belong to something greater than themselves. This is the offer of religion, which cannot be matched by atheism, scientism or any -ism which strips the sacred from daily life. Read more about The Significance in Populism, Jihadism and Communism …
Although he may not have meant it, Ta-Nehesi Coates’ article on President Obama in The Atlantic pretty much names him a Third Culture Kid (TCK) without explicitly saying so. According to Wikipedia, TCK’s are “children raised in a culture other than their parents’ (or the culture of the country given on the child’s passport, where they are legally considered native) for a significant part of their early development years. They are exposed to a greater variety of cultural influences.”
Third Culture Kids often learn to live in two spaces without fully occupying one or the other. Without being capable of occupying one or the other. President Obama was raised a black man by a white woman and white grandparents. But his racial characteristics are not simply what has helped him appeal to white and blacks (and other minorities). From Coates’ article:
To simply point to Obama’s white mother, or to his African father, or even to his rearing in Hawaii, is to miss the point. For most African Americans, white people exist either as a direct or an indirect force for bad in their lives. Biraciality is no shield against this; often it just intensifies the problem. What proved key for Barack Obama was not that he was born to a black man and a white woman, but that his white family approved of the union, and approved of the child who came from it.
Click here to read the whole thing. It’s well worth your time.
Being a Third Culture Kid is perhaps analogous to being bi-racial in some aspects. There is a marked cultural difference between being Black in America and being of European/Caucasian ancestry. And so President Obama has learned to how to code-switch between worlds. He was taught to see the positivity of his white side by grandparents who embraced him wholeheartedly.
Obama’s early positive interactions with his white family members gave him a fundamentally different outlook toward the wider world than most blacks of the 1960s had. Obama told me he rarely had “the working assumption of discrimination, the working assumption that white people would not treat me right or give me an opportunity or judge me [other than] on the basis of merit.” He continued, “The kind of working assumption” that white people would discriminate against him or treat him poorly “is less embedded in my psyche than it is, say, with Michelle.”
I heard an interesting quote the other day,
Donald Trump’s supporters took the man seriously but didn’t take his words seriously. Trump’s opponents took his words seriously but didn’t take the man seriously.
I have been assured by friends who voted for Donald Trump that they don’t agree some of his more divisive rhetoric. That, yes, they realize he is an “ass”, to use one friend’s term. (Seriously, being a fanboy of Trump or any other politician is naive). Okay, I take that to heart. I’ve known some of these people since elementary or middle school. I believe they have good intentions. But now that he has become our President-elect, what promises and policies of Mr. Trump’s should be taken seriously? The following is his 100-Day Plan, taken directly from his website. Read more about Taking President-elect Trump Seriously …
One of the issues I have with the political debates in this country is the misguided notion that political parties’ philosophies are monolithic. They just aren’t. Political parties aren’t religions. They have shifting alliances and priorities and philosophies throughout time. No matter that the parties themselves will try to tell us otherwise. Parties are private entities whose aim is to get into power. They will use whatever means necessary to get that and if it means shifting their constituencies from time to time, they’ll do that too. If you are a Democrat now, does not mean you would have been a Democrat 200 years or ago or even 40 years ago. Same with Republican. Parties will compromise internally with the greater goal of getting into power.
I don’t care about down-the-line party politics much anymore. I have voted Democrat because I’m mostly a social liberal. Sortuv. But there was a time when the Republican party had liberals in its midst. There was a time when the Democratic Party had segregationists in its midst. Abraham Lincoln, a Republican, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. Jefferson Davis, a Democrat, was President of the Confederate States of America. The segregationist Dixiecrats moved from the Democratic party to the Republican party. Richard Nixon launched the Southern Strategy. I don’t care. Read more about Political Parties aren’t Religions …
I want to give Donald Trump a chance. I don’t want to turn back the clock or rejigger the electoral college or somehow throw the nation into chaos because I didn’t vote for him. I think it’s important to try to differentiate the need to give President-elect Trump a chance to confound expectations, so to speak, while still continuing to oppose any divisiveness which results from this election.
To wit, Dave Chappelle had a very powerful monologue on last week’s Saturday Night Live where he talked about the Trump Presidency. His concluding passage echoed a lot of what I feel:
“So in that spirit, I’m wishing Donald Trump luck. And I’m going to give him a chance. And we, the historically disenfranchised, demand that he give us a chance too.”