I’m starting to think this statement, “The screams of children have been edited out” is the perfect metaphor for modern America.
That’s the post.
The second most memorable thing Michelle Wolf said at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner was that; “people are saying America is more divided than ever.”
Okay, at face value, the line itself isn’t all that memorable, but her speech and the reaction to it fairly illustrate the very point, which is memorable in my book. When a line from a speech captures that much of its own context, that will get my attention every time.
Listening to Wolf’s jokes, I find myself wondering if we could really expect people to take some of these jokes in good fun? It isn’t always clear from the content, but the stone faces scattered among those smiling and laughing tell a pretty clear tale. For some at least, these were not jokes; they were attacks. From her deadpan list of inconveniences ending with; “Trump is President; it’s not ideal,” to the suggestion that Kellyanne Conway should be struck and pinned underneath a falling tree, it’s easy enough to understand why someone might not want to roll with the punches here. Sure, someone could laugh it off, but it would be just as reasonable to take these as indications of genuine contempt. We could pick away at this or that point, but the reality is that the room was already saturated with divisions far too great for people to come together in laughter.
That’s the nature of humor though; it’s almost always at the expense of someone else. So, it’s always fair to ask ‘with me’ or ‘at me’? In this case, a fair portion of the right wingers present (and many who weren’t) clearly figured it was the latter. Of course they tend to assume this about much of the media and the entertainment industries as well. With increasing frequency, they would be right about that, but there is certainly the trace of a self-confirming prophesy to all of this media and Hollywood bashing. They don’t seem to notice when their favorite scapegoats aren’t following the script. Wolf took some serious shots at the media too, pointing out that they are largely responsible for Trump’s success, but today the right wing has bundled her up with that very media and used the dinner as yet another example of an ‘elitist’ culture holding them in contempt.
Some of us on the left might be tempted to suggest that the best fix for this problem is for today’s right wing politicians to try to be less contemptible. And of course the contempt is mutual; it has been for as long as I can remember. With countless ‘conservatives’ still telling stories about a socialist Muslim from Kenya, I have a hard time swallowing the notion that those of us on the left ought to rein it in, and lest anyone suggest this is merely the fringe of right wing politics, let me remind you that one of those fringe lunatics in the birther movement is in the White House right now.
..placed there by a wave of contempt for liberalism.
That contempt for liberalism is so strong it seems hard to escape the notion that Trump was placed in the White House, not because anyone seriously thought he was going to make America great again, but rather because they hoped he would break America as we currently know it. Even now, his cabinet is undoing over a century of work to protect America from threats to our safety, both domestic and foreign. Even now, Americans in Puerto Rico are still struggling to recover from a natural disaster, and from the willful neglect of an administration happy to kill Americans when he is offended by one of their leaders. We can debate whether or not Trump will ever do anything positive for this country, but there is little doubt that he is willing and capable of hurting a lot of people.
He was placed in office for precisely that reason.
…all of which makes it a little difficult to look at a speech such as that given by Michelle Wolf and say let’s cry foul this time. No, this, THIS, was going to far!
Still, the hypocrisy of the other guy isn’t much of an excuse for any we produce ourselves. Is there a serious argument to be made here? The main focus of scrutiny in this case seems to have fallen on Wolf’s comments about Sarah Huckabee Sanders. What did she say about Sanders?
Every time Sarah steps up to the podium, I get excited because I’m not really sure what we’re going to get: you know, a press briefing, a bunch of lies or divided into softball teams. “It’s shirts and skins, and this time, don’t be such a little b—-, Jim Acosta.”
I actually really like Sarah. I think she’s very resourceful. Like, she burns facts, and then she uses the ash to create a perfect smoky eye. Like, maybe she’s born with it; maybe it’s lies.
It’s probably lies.
And I’m never really sure what to call Sarah Huckabee Sanders. You know, is it Sarah Sanders? Is Sarah Huckabee Sanders? Is it Cousin Huckabee? Is it Auntie Huckabee Sanders? Like, what’s Uncle Tom but for white women who disappoint other white women? Oh, I know: Aunt Coulter.
People have been saying this amounts to making fun of Sanders’ appearance. Others have been saying, no it isn’t. And yes, the battle lines are pretty predictable on this one. The issue is already touchy, because a lot of folks have already taken some seriously cheap shots at Huckabee’s looks. What Wolf said is really mild in comparison to some of the comments and memes out there. In fact, she doesn’t appear to be commenting at all on Sanders’ actual body or face. The main joke here isn’t even about Sanders’ looks; it’s about her mistreatment of the press, and the fundamental dishonesty with which she has approached her work in this administration. In the process of making this perfectly valid, and perfectly relevant point about Sanders’ work, Wolf worked in a comment about Sanders’ eye shadow. That comment has become the focus of virtually all subsequent commentary on the dinner.
So, was this a comment about Sanders appearance?
I can think of two reasons to say ‘yes’ in answer to that question. 1) Sarah’s eyes have often been primary a focus of many of the cheap shots taken at her. So, when Michelle Wolf talks about Sanders’ eye shadow, she is hitting a theme well-primed by many others. If Wolf is actually commenting on eye shadow instead of Sanders’ actual eyes, then that’s a thin layer of powder away from a very common and very cheap shot. 2) More importantly, a comment about dress or make-up is already a comment about someone’s looks, and women in the public arena get dragged on that topic far more than men. Far from trivial, this is one of the double standards that makes it much harder for women to succeed in public life than men. Working that angle doesn’t just hurt Sanders; it hurts women in general.
If Wolf’s comment doesn’t measure up to the low standards of filth spilling from the mouth of Donald Trump over the years, it certainly doesn’t measure up to the high standard many on the left (and in particular feminists) have been trying to promote for about as long as I can recall. I don’t know that Wolf has ever committed to such standards, but the fact remains, she could do better. Hell, she was doing better! She was doing better in that very point. Sarah Huckabee Sanders is a professional liar. That was the point of the very joke in question, and everybody knows it. THAT point remains sound, regardless of the cheap shot Wolf unfortunately bundled into it.
Some of us could wish that Wolf had left her brief foray into physical commentary out of her speech, but it’s there. I can’t help thinking that brief moment of self indulgence was a god-send to America’s right wing, because that’s been the very means they’ve used to draw attention from the rest of the Wolf’s criticism, criticism which is very richly deserved. While the denizens of echo chamber do the meta-hypocrisy shuffle, hiding their own double standards behind an accusation of the same, they have successfully shifted the narrative about this speech away from the many horribles now nurtured by the outright fascism which has taken over the Republican Party, horribles Wolf was right to call out.
Horribles like Sanders’ many lies.
It may well be that the whole country has reached a point where we can no longer expect Americans of different political orientations to sit peacefully together and laugh at the same jokes, but no, both parties are not equally responsible for helping us reach that point. With a President actively and openly supporting white nationalists while Democrats continue to embrace more moderate conservative policies, I don’t see how anyone could seriously embrace the ‘both sides’ narratives out there.
I don’t really blame right wingers for not wanting to sit through a performance like that of Wolf. I blame them very much for bringing us to that point. The Republican Party didn’t have to put a living joke in the White House; they didn’t have to support a man so corrupt and so incompetent that every spokesperson for him has had to bend over backwards lying for him only to find the man debunking their own spin even as they spin it. They didn’t have to make themselves so contemptible.
But they are.
The Republican Party of today is not conservative; it is not patriotic; and it is certainly not Christian. It’s leadership is none of the things they pretend to be, and they all know it. This is why they cannot abide humor like that of Wolf. This is why Donald Trump wasn’t even there, and this is why others walked out. They cannot abide an honest stand-up routine, any more than they can abide a competent journalist. And this is why they want to focus on that one joke; to keep our minds off Trump himself (and Pence, and Sanders, and all the rest of the circus) and to lay the grounds for retaliation against future critics.
Oh, I did say that the line about Americans being more divided than ever was the second most memorable thing Wolf said in her speech. So, what was more important than that?
Flint still doesn’t have clean water.
It’s always fascinating to see the slippage commonly coming between a story and its headline, and again between a headline and a social media message about it. The hackwits at Fox News are always happy to provide examples of this sort of thing. Last week I couldn’t help but gripe about their misrepresentation of a major story on twitter. Today, the angle isn’t all that clear, but sloppy slippage is a habit that seems to serve them well.
What got my attention a few minutes ago was this tweet:
So, I see this and I am thinking; Really? I always thought Bonnie and Clyde were in their car when they were shot. Or was that just the movie? No, I’m pretty sure they were in their car. So, when was this? Just before they got in? How long before… No, this says the pic was taken right before they were shot. But…
…and thus I clicked the link (which is admittedly to say that I fricking fell for this click-bait bullshit. Still kicking myself over that.)
So, anyway, and at the expense of providing a link to a common source of right wing propaganda, here is the story.
The opening passages of this story are fascinating in much the same sense that grading a freshman essay is often fascinating. By ‘fascinating’ I of course mean saddening. It’s not just the brief, blurby, writing style that jumps out at me. (Seriously, this is clearly written for people with the attention span of not-even-gerbils.) What really irks with a vengeance here is the complete inability to stick to a consistent account of the story.
Check it out!
Mini-paragraph 2 says the photo was taken ‘days before’ Bonnie and Clyde were shot down. Mini paragraph 3 says ‘shortly before’. I guess ‘days before’ could count as ‘shortly before’, at least if you aren’t paying attention enough to wonder why they are re-framing the time-scale in the very next sentence. Most sensible people would think that was at least a little odd. And most sensible people would think that change of wording does shift the meaning, at least a little bit. Either way, it would certainly be a stretch to say that ‘days before’ counts as ‘right before’ or ‘moments before’, as indicated on the Fox News twitter account.
So why do this? It really doesn’t seem like deliberate spin. It seems more like a short attention span. Perhaps, it’s a habit of a mind accustomed to spinning an inch into a mile every chance it gets. These micro-shifts in meaning can be damned useful if you are spinning a story with a purpose. A mountain is easily reduced to a molehill with a little crafty word choice. The folks at Fox News are well accomplished at this technique. Still, it’s a little odd to see this much slippage crowded into such a small and simple account. The only clear pay-off in this particular instance is the added dramatic value of the click-bait, but even that doesn’t explain the shear quantity of equivocation in the Fox account. The story itself uses two different time-frames, and that shift isn’t explained by the desire to generate click-bait. Neither does the use of two different time-frames on the twitter account. A subtle shift is one thing, but these guys are all over the place. I find myself wondering if they folks can stick to a simple account even when they don’t have an axe to grind on the story.
Seriously, I can’t figure out how this will help to advance the war on the poor. Neither will it enable the Manchurian Man-Child to gin up a war to help keep all our minds off the Mueller investigation. I can’t even tell how this proves Hillary killed Han Solo in the living room with a candle stick. It’s not all that agenda driven. It’s just drivel-driven. it’s also a hell of a way to hack up a simple story.
When I think of Donald Trump and his campaign for President, it always takes me back to one of the early scenes in Game of Thrones. It’s one of the few moments in that series where Geofrey Lannister proved himself almost human. In the scene, he and his mother Cercei were discussing a fight he’d had a young commoner. He’d come off rather badly, but still Geoffrey’s mother, Cercei, praised him for bravery that he didn’t show and recounted heroic deeds that he didn’t perform. Just this once (it’s the only time that I can recall), the little monster displayed a trace of honesty and corrected her on the facts of the matter. For just a moment, it seemed to matter to Geoffrey that he hadn’t actually lived up to the narratives his family were spinning about him.
Some day you’ll sit on the throne and the truth will be what you make it.
I always imagine Donald Trump as a man who learned that very lesson somewhere in the course of his life and took it very much to heart.
One of the most fascinating (and infuriating) things about Trump is the way he approaches questions of veracity. More fascinating still, the question of just why his fans support that approach. It’s easy enough to call the man a liar (and he’s certainly given plenty of cause), but it’s closer to the case to suggest that he keeps turning questions of truth on their head (perhaps in part by ignoring them). What is truth to this man? The answer to that question certainly isn’t what it is to the rest of us. And I still think Cercei’s quote is a good start on an answer.
One of the most frustrating things about Trump, for me at least, is his penchant for resolving complex problems and answering serious criticisms by simply declaring the case to be whatever he needs (or simply wants) it to be. Are there substantial reasons to believe he disrespects women? He simply tells us he always treats women with respect. Do his comments about Mexicans or Muslims reflect hatred and promote bigotry? He simply tells us he loves them and treats them well. Time and again, Trump answers serious questions simply by telling us the most convenient thing necessary to promote his own interests. Time and again, his claims are clearly counterfactual.
…and time and again, I hear Cercei telling us that truth is what a prince makes of it.
So many things about this quote seems so relevant, not the least of them being the image of a pampered aristocrat assuming the reins of power. It isn’t merely that Trump seems immune to basic fact checking or clear cases of debunkitation; he seems almost consciously to expect that the grounds of veracity itself will shift right along with his narratives. He has enough power to simply make some narratives stick, and he knows it. In time, his narratives (however disingenuous) may well become the standard by which other facts are assessed. So, he just presses onward. What counts as true is what he will make of it.
The notion that truth could be constituted in the exercise of power might seem a grad school cliché, but seldom do we see it in such a crass form, so naked, so obvious, and so orange.
Early in the campaign, Trump acquired a reputation as a ‘straight shooter’. Fans described him as a no nonsense guy who tells it like it is. All the tropes of tough love and brutal honesty were conferred on the gilded prince of kitch, which is of course at least as maddening as Trump’s antics themselves. Despite all the prevarication and notwithstanding countless instances of demonstrable falsehoods, one of Trump’s best qualities, according to his many fans, would seem to be honesty.
Does Cercei have an evil laugh? She must, because I could swear that I hear it right now.
She had to be laughing during Trump’s infamous exchange with Megyn Kelly. That’s worth a second look. Here it is, as taken from a transcript provided by Time Magazine.
KELLY: Mr. Trump, one of the things people love about you is you speak your mind and you don’t use a politician’s filter. However, that is not without its downsides, in particular, when it comes to women.
You’ve called women you don’t like “fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals.”
Your Twitter account…
TRUMP: Only Rosie O’Donnell.
KELLY: No, it wasn’t.
Your Twitter account…
TRUMP: Thank you.
KELLY: For the record, it was well beyond Rosie O’Donnell.
TRUMP: Yes, I’m sure it was.
KELLY: Your Twitter account has several disparaging comments about women’s looks. You once told a contestant on Celebrity Apprentice it would be a pretty picture to see her on her knees. Does that sound to you like the temperament of a man we should elect as president, and how will you answer the charge from Hillary Clinton, who was likely to be the Democratic nominee, that you are part of the war on women?
TRUMP: I think the big problem this country has is being politically correct.
I’ve been challenged by so many people, and I don’t frankly have time for total political correctness. And to be honest with you, this country doesn’t have time either. This country is in big trouble. We don’t win anymore. We lose to China. We lose to Mexico both in trade and at the border. We lose to everybody.
And frankly, what I say, and oftentimes it’s fun, it’s kidding. We have a good time. What I say is what I say. And honestly Megyn, if you don’t like it, I’m sorry. I’ve been very nice to you, although I could probably maybe not be, based on the way you have treated me. But I wouldn’t do that.
This exchange is fascinating, not because it’s intrinsically interesting, but because the narratives it spawned seem so very implausible on the face of it. Trump was insulted, and on his behalf Trump’s followers were also insulted. And thus Megyn Kelly became a right wing pariah for some time, which is hilarious, even if it is only a temporary problem. She became a traitor to countless right wing faithful, most of whom had sung her praises right up until that very moment. Yet, she was absolutely right? Trump himself bungled his answer, and that too seemed to count against Kelly. She had been the source of a genuine mistake on Trump’s part, and that was unforgivable. Like the Stark girls witnessing Geoffrey Lannister’s cowardice, Kelly had borne witness to something common men and women are not supposed to see.
Fire the witch!
What always fascinated me about this, is the fact that Kelly doesn’t appear to have set out for Trump’s blood in the outset. I find myself wondering if she couldn’t possibly have more to help Trump out with this question? First, she began by repeating the straight-shooter theme, thus paying the man a rather undeserved compliment and all-but answering the question for him. And then of course there is the whole ‘war on women’ theme, as if Trump’s personal rudeness had anything to do with the GOP’s campaign to restrict the rights of women in both the workplace and the field of health-care. It was a straw-man of course, and one Kelly skillfully placed in the mouth of Hillary Clinton. As tough questions go, this was a slow pitch straight up the middle, but it was too much for Trump.
And thus Kelly became a Pariah.
It doesn’t get much sillier than that. I can’t help wondering at her own internal monologue as she proceeded to spank Trump for his initial response. I can’t help but wonder if the word ‘child’ flashed through her mind as it did for so many others. And of course with Trump’s knee-jerk response he proved himself unworthy of her initial praise. His first reaction in this (as with so many other instances) had been to lie, and thus he was caught like a child with his hand in the cookie jar, telling us all it was just Rosie O’Donnell.
Did this shake the faith of Trump fans? Far from it! Well, it did shake their faith in Megyn Kelly and Fox News. They had stood for a moment as witnesses to the foibles of Prince Trump. Whatever facts or reasons Kelly might have had, they pointed only to her own disloyalty. The truth would be what Donald made of it, and it simply wasn’t Kelly’s role to stand against that.
For months after this dust-up, Trump, his campaign, and his fans simply kept telling us what a straight-foreword kinda guy he is. After awhile, you have to realize this isn’t simply a mistake, but it’s a damned odd epistemology. What counts as truth in this narrative is a willingness to tell someone something they don’t want to hear. It’s a common yarn that the “politically correct” left simply cannot handle the truth, as they say, and that the many epithets and racial slurs of right wing politics are a just brutal truth shouted in the face of milquetoast morons well deserving of any discomfort the whole affair may bring about.
The problem of course is that all this begs the question; is the source of discomfort really anything like truth? I for one can think of a few instances in which left wingers (or anyone for that matter) have thrown their weight behind some falsehood I wouldn’t mind seeing burst like a bubble cuddling up to a nice sharp needle. I can also think of a few times the left wing viewed seemed damned accurate to me, and all the cries of ‘political correctness” never did a damned thing to demonstrate otherwise. More to the point, the rhetoric of PC-bashing makes the particulars quite irrelevant, especially wielded as Trump does in his encounter with Kelly. PC-bashing makes of the entire range of left-wing politics nothing but a white lie, one just begging for that damned needle.
…and of course in Trump’s case ‘political correctness’ would eventually come to include things like not beating protesters. That might seem a novel use of the phrase, but of course making truth is hard, and sometimes it must be made at the expense of someone else’s nose.
Brutal honesty is understandable, but all-too-often brutal honesty is all brutal and no honesty. In support of this, Trump’s comments about women would be ‘exhibit A’ as far as I’m concerned. And yet countless Trump supporters seem not only to accept his deceits; they actually seem to count these deceits as evidence of his honesty. Honesty is functionally equivalent for rudeness in this story-line. What counts as truth is the ability to make liberals uncomfortable. If our discomfort is caused by counterfactual claims or clear errors in reasoning, well then those too seem to count as victories in the service of a higher truth. For truth is what Trump will make of it, and that truth is meant to make some of us miserable.
…which brings me to another feature of Trump’s relationship to honesty, that which makes his product irresistible, a sense of shared guilt. If you are like me, you can’t really bring yourself to believe that Trump’s fans actually believe the nonsense he spouts. Time and again, his reflex is to make a claim so obviously false it seeming doesn’t even seem count as a lie. Whatever else it is, is anybody’s guess. (We would need John Miller to explain it to us.) Time and again it seems painfully clear that anyone past preschool should see clearly that Trump is lying. But his fans still support him. It boggles the mind.
But only if you take the whole charade at face value.
They key to understanding Trump’s appeal, I think, is to understand that his supporters don’t really believe his crap anymore than the rest of us do. They simply see themselves as in on the con. If Trump is deceiving anyone it isn’t his followers, so the thinking goes. It’s someone else, someone square enough to take him seriously, to ask if his claims are actually true.
…someone like Megyn Kelly, who was, if only for a moment, foolish enough to think that when Trump said that he only insults Rosie O’Donnell, he actually meant that he only insults Rosie O’Donnell. Anyone with half an ounce of wit would have simply laughed and accepted this answer, knowing full well that it wasn’t literally true. After all, Trump had offered Kelly a perfectly standard whipping girl in place of an honest answer. Conservatives everywhere know that Rosie O’Donnell is fair game for any kind of abuse they care to heap on her, and the abuse of Rosie O’Donnell is a perfectly acceptable substitute for any answer to any more serious question, at least in front of the cameras.
That’s just how the game is played!
A moment of Rosie-bashing should have been enough. It would have been enough, except that for just that particular moment in recent history Kelly wasn’t hip to the con. No-one really expected Kelly, the audience, or anyone else to actually believe that Trump reserves all his misogyny for Rosie O’Donnell, but if Kelly is going to blow the con like that, she can’t really be in the fold.
This, I think is the key to understanding Trump’s reputation for honesty. It resides in a sense of truth as shared conspiracy. Those in the know cannot be expected to describe it accurately. That’s not what people in the know actually do. To speak the truth in itself would be an act of betrayal. And those who balk at the claims of Trump and his camp demonstrate only their own ignorance with every refutation they produce. Only a square would think it mattered that Trump’s claims were false, and only a complete square would make the effort to demonstrate this.
All of which brings us back to that wall Trump keeps telling us about. Is it important? Yes, but not because he actually means to build it. Maybe he will and maybe he won’t. It really doesn’t matter, because as an immigration policy, a wall isn’t much. But it’s a damned important symbol, and Trump supporters know this. Trump’s wall is the ultimate in us versus them politics. This is what makes it a powerful symbol. With his wall, Trump demonstrated an absolute willingness to separate the people who count from those that don’t, which is what garnered him the support of so many who count as conservative in Today’s politics.
…all of which is kind of standard.
But what escaped my notice at first is just how much that wall suggests a kind of epistemology. It isn’t just the benefits of being American that will be locked up behind that wall. It is the truth itself. One might think that one of the hallmarks of truth would be it’s capacity to overcome boundaries, to enable people who disagree to check each others’ claims and arrive at a common sense of what is and what isn’t the case. This at least is what sometimes happens in the course of a reasonable argument. But that isn’t the vision of truth driving the Trump camp. No, their Truth is not shared. It too is locked up behind that wall, and it isn’t shared with the rest of us.
First rule of fight club and all that.
Truth in the Trump machine reside in the boldness of his lies. In the cockiness of claims that couldn’t possibly be accurate. Every time the rest of us struggle to decide where to begin with Trump’s latest round of hogwash, his fans see only a knowing wink, another reassurance that he knows what they know, and that we never will.
Which raises the question of just who really is in on the con? So many of Trump’s supporters count him as a hero for the common man. What counts as a common man? Well it isn’t a liberal. It isn’t a Mexican. It isn’t a Muslim. It may or may not include other minorities, but certainly not any rude enough to stand up for their own rights. Join Black Lives Matter and you are definitely out of the club. Trump himself may make personal exceptions for certain folks (like the London Mayor), but that is the privilege of a Prince, to make exceptions to his own rules. But the real question is whether or not the working class will get a share of whatever benefits Trump hopes to hoard behind his walls. He keeps promising more jobs, and that promise may seem empty, but in the interim he has plenty of scapegoats to offer. And of course those scapegoats remain in the dark. It’s one of the most tangible signs of Trump’s loyalty to his own followers, his honesty, so to speak, his willingness to lie to (and about) the rest of us.
Truth is what Trump will make of it, and that Truth will come at the expense of a lot of people.
I expect some will be very surprised to find themselves on the wrong side of that wall.
It’s already old news. Narcissa Trump has entered the race for the Republican nomination for President. He has of course made an ass of himself every step of the way, and Republicans seem to love him for it. So too do comedians, but in either event the dumb dial on politics just got turned up to 11, and there is only one thing left to do.
We have to gamify this!
Okay, I don’t have a lot of time right now, so we’re going for the simple and obvious. You read the title, and you know where we are going with this, right? Just watch Trump basking in the reflection of his own media presence and follow these instructions.
If Trump says something completely thoughtless. …okay don’t drink yet. This would have you on the floor in no time.
If someone in the media humors trump by referring to his verbal diarrhea as ‘straight talk,’ take a shot of something really stiff and write down the idiot’s name. When you wake up tomorrow with a hangover, you’re going to want to remember just who is and who isn’t a journalist.
If Trump doubles down after having been called out for saying something truly idiotic completely asinine, or both. …take a sip. Just take it easy here. You don’t want to be bent over the porcelain throne before the end of the interview.
If Trump says something bad about Mexicans. …just another sip, a small one. You know why.
If Trump says something nice about Mexicans in the hopes we’ll forget the bad stuff he already said about them. …Yeah, it’s time to take a drink. Don’t whine about it though, you knew this was coming.
If Trump tries to pretend his critics are objecting to actual policy recommendations instead of his childish hate-mongering, drink again.
If Trump calls another leader ‘weak’, drink-up and do like three push-ups. That oughtta be enough for the Donald.
If Trump declares himself a winner, do some coke and say a prayer for Charlie Sheen.
If Trump says he’s the best at something, don’t bother drinking cause you know damned well he’s a better drinker than you, so you might as well just give it up right now.
It Trump’s hair does something odd, don’t drink and don’t laugh. Seriously, this whole hair-theme was old a decade or two back. Can we please stop pretending the man’s hair is half the train wreck that we get with every fricking word out of his mouth?
If Trump retweets one of his adoring fans proclaiming him the only possible savior for America and all of western civilization, don’t drink. This too will end the game too quickly. Maybe just fart a little, because it’s kinda fitting, and you know you wanna.
If Trump brags about the number of fans who showed up at an event, ask him to pay you to drink. It’s only fair.
If Trump dismisses the views of someone who understands politics far better than he or any of his advisers ever well, call John Stewart and tell him he has to help us drink our way through the next year and a half.
If Trump threatens to sue someone, don’t drink. Just fill your glass and wait.
If Trump mentions how much money he has, drink something really cheap served in a gaudy container and burn up a ten dollar bill. You’re getting as good a deal as any customer ever got from the Trump label.
If someone else mentions bankruptcy, drink some water. You know you need the break.
If Trump tries to lecture us about how bankruptcy is really just good business, buy a drink for one of the many mere commoners trying to live in the wake of bankruptcy. They need it more than you.
If Trump plays a rock tune completely out of place with his campaign, don’t bother drinking. Politicians always do this. It’s nothing special.
If Trump says anything about Isis, drink or don’t drink, but keep it to yourself. You’re the only one that needs to know.
If Trump complains about violations of his free speech, don’t drink. This is a totally serious thing, and no-one should make light of it, not ever.***
If Trump ever makes a substantive point about anything in the course of this election, then give up drinking entirely. (Don’t worry. This will never happen.)
***Just kidding! It’s time to drink that double you poured earlier. Maybe two or three of them right.
If I was to list the things I hate about Christmas, that list might well include Black Friday, bland food, and blander music. Jesus isn’t on that list. Oh, I know that I’m supposed to be working hard to get the Christ out of Christmas, at least according to certain talking heads, because that’s just what atheists do. But seriously, it would never occur to me to try and scratch Baby Jesus out of this holiday.
…mainly, because Jesus isn’t a big part of Christmas to begin with.
Yes, I understand American Atheists did a snarky Billboard. With that and a pickle, they’d still be one sandwich short of a lunch plate. Some of us will laugh (I know I did), but this is hardly a credible threat to the Prince of Peace. And seriously, atheist kids can’t be the only ones hoping to skip church for Christmas.
…if you think about it, they probably aren’t all that worried about it.
The annual fake war on Christmas is always entertaining. When folks find ‘Happy Holidays’ offensive or suspect an entire agenda behind use of the infamous X in ‘Xmas’, I can’t help but laugh. But I like to remind myself when the explicit reasoning people use makes no sense whatsoever, that’s usually because it isn’t the one guiding their actual thought process.
I figure the war on Christmas is primarily good marketing for right wing pundits, and apparently for Kirk Cameron. Near as I can tell, Cameron has never really outgrown his character on Growing Pains, but the culture wars certain do provide him with plenty of grist for the still-vapid mill. This year he’s working the Christmas angle. …meh! Anyway, the war on Christmas does two things near as I can tell; it helps Christian conservatives misrepresent the battle over civic religious pronouncements, and it helps those same Christians rally the faithful by wagging the dog, so to speak.
The battle over civil religion has been driven by concerns about the entanglement of religion in public institutions. This is not an effort to drive God entirely from the public sphere, nor is it an effort to enshrine atheism in that sphere. The question is simply whether or not government facilities ought to be making any kind of explicit religious expressions, whether it be a copy of the Ten Commandments or a Manger scene.
Now I’m not entirely sold on the value of opposing every cross, prayer, or hand-made sign with religious sentiments that makes an appearance on public property, but every time I’m tempted to support a compromise on these issues, some joker from the religious right (or ten of them) makes it a point to suggest those reflect the true Christian nature of this country. …and what seemed possibly harmless then becomes a great big power grab that needs answering immediately.
In any event, those defending use of public institutions for explicitly religious expressions have some real questions to answer about how this squares with the establishment clause, and near as I can tell most of the culture warriors are too busy generating narratives that bypass the whole problem. The War on Christmas is just such a narrative. As long as every challenge to a public display of Jesus in the manger counts as part of an effort to crush the joy of Christmas, the Christian right will never have to address the constitutionality of its public agenda. People will be too busy saving Christmas from godless grinches.
…just like in a television sitcom.
The larger and deeper misdirection here is also simpler. (It’s a multi-layered misdirection, really it is!) Jesus has been a rather minor theme in the actual celebration of Christmas for most of modern history. Sure, children sing the occasional Silent Night in a Christmas pageant, but they also sing Jingle Bells. Were I a believer, I wouldn’t want to take bets on which one gets a bigger round of applause from the audience. But that’s just the tip of the pagan pine bough. The fact is that Christ is always playing catch-up with His own holiday, and last I checked, he was well behind the marketing professionals on this one.
These days I hear a lot of people talking about putting the Christ back in Christmas, as if simply saying the phrase ‘Merry Christmas’ would provide them with a real victory. The fact of the matter is, though, that people have been saying ‘Merry Christmas’ for generations without meaning much more than ‘Yippee, presents!’ or ‘Hope you get a good bonus.’ Hell, even the more profound messages of giving and family togetherness are as easily embraced in secular circles as those of the truest of the True Christians™. The right wing culture warriors know this and they want to change it, or at least they want to be seen trying to change it.
Whatever else the war on the ‘war on Christmas’ is, it’s also a means of investing the phrase ‘Merry Christmas’ with a new and more politically aggressive meaning. It effects that investment by conjuring an enemy, so when you say ‘Merry Christmas’ now, you aren’t just wishing people a nice glass of egg-nog. Hell, you aren’t even just telling them to celebrate the birth of Jesus or wishing them all the blessings the Prince of Peace could possibly bring. When you say it now, you’re pissing off an atheist (or even a liberal Christianl), and nothing says you love Jesus more than pissing off an atheist (or a liberal)!
Good fun for all!
Only, most of us aren’t all that bothered by the phrase. Hell I say ‘Merry Christmas’ as often as I say ‘Happy Holidays.’ When I did a brief stint at a Jewish private school, I said ‘Happy Holidays’ more often, but that certainly wasn’t about pissing off any Christians. When my Jewish colleagues said ‘Happy Holidays’ to me, they were showing far more compassion and tolerance than the right wingers pushing this fake war can possibly imagine. None of this strikes me as expressing animosity toward those saying “Merry Christmas.” Anyway, I don’t think I’m unusual in this regard. The phrase “Merry Christmas” just isn’t a problem for most unbelievers, and certainly not liberals in general, at least not when Bill O’Reilly isn’t writing the script.
The real threats to the religious perspectives on Christmas have never been secularists; they have been the myriad pleasures of worldly ways. The threats have been train-sets and iphones, bicycles, and Barbie-dolls, well-spiked punch-bowls at office parties, gaudy lights, and
near riots at the local Walmart. It’s these things that compete with Jesus for our attention on December 25th, and quite frankly, it isn’t atheists that are pushing them on people. It’s good old-fashioned American capitalism, and let’s be honest, Christian conservatives are hardly interested in fighting a battle against corporate capitalism. So, they’ve conjured up a scape-goat. This way they get to have their stale gingerbread and eat it too. Through the ‘war on Christmas’ Christian conservatives can pretend to fight for the spiritual significance of their holiday all the while going right along with the very practices that keep turning the conveniently imagined birthday of Christ into a hollow and impious event.
Don’t laugh; it works folks!
I can’t be the first or even the thousand and first scaped goat to complain about this little gambit, but well, it’s a white Christmas up here in the arctic, and I’d rather gripe than go outside. Plus, I’m an atheist. I’m supposed to be grumpy and grinchy. Some days I am happy to oblige.
Oh yeah, there’s one more thing.
Merry Christmas everybody!