It’s been a disturbing week in American political life. Normally, I really enjoy politics--and especially this year’s presidential primary race--but this week it became clear that Donald Trump is not only going to win the Republican nomination, he’s going to do it using a Fascist, neo-White Supremacist platform, and there’s not a damned thing that anyone can do about it.
It’s disturbing. I’m not a Trump supporter, but I am a Republican, and I don’t know what the Hell has happened to the party that I grew up in.
The party of Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt--heck, of Dwight Eisenhower and more recently, of arch-pragmatist George H.W. Bush--has abandoned compromise and the essential forms of democratic government so completely that its own core supporters no longer understand the difference between reasoned discourse and hate-speech. Republicans have vilified the President, who is a good man regardless of his being on the wrong side of a number of important policy issues, to the point where we can’t now look at an actual villain and see him for what he is.
This is not the way our government is supposed to work. Honestly, I keep wondering if this is what conservative, patriotic Germans thought in the 1930s as they watched a demagogue rise up, take over their country, and turn it into a dictatorship.
Hitler did not represent the natural course of German historic evolution, but he sure as shit convinced people that he did, and look what that got us. Or, to put it another way, what the fuck is wrong with people?
1. Trump’s romp in Nevada shows why conventional wisdom about his ceiling may be wrong (Washington Post)
The returns from last night’s Nevada caucuses cast doubt on three assumptions that are widely held and often repeated by Republican elites in Washington, who are perhaps too eager to assure one another that Donald Trump still cannot actually win the nomination.
Two of these were silly, but I’ve been telling myself this last one for months:
[A]s the field of candidates condenses, every voter who is not currently for Trump will fall in line behind whoever emerges as his alternative.
Except that Trump won Nevada with 45% of the vote, which means that he benefited the most from Jeb Bush’s departure from the race despite the facts that a) Jeb! had previously been Trump’s biggest critic and b) Marco Rubio was once Jeb Bush’s protégé in Florida. I’d expected Jeb! supports to flock to Rubio, pushing him into a solid second-place finish—and into a position from which he could directly challenge Trump for control of the GOP. Instead Trump now looks dominant, and I suppose that I personally am left with little choice but support Hillary Clinton.
I do not like Secretary Clinton, I think that she deserves to be indicted for mishandling classified government documents, but she is at least not a Fascist who is actively working to reinvigorate America’s white supremacist movement while simultaneously dismantling the foundational bedrock of the Republic. By contrast, nearly 20% of Trump supporters feel that it was a mistake to free the slaves after the Civil War! It’s not like he’s out there taking his supporters to task, either. No, this is a man who would roll back the gains of the Greatest Generation, and frankly, he must be opposed on general principles regardless of all other factors. It’s disgraceful that more Republicans haven’t done as much.
2. The Violence of Donald Trump (Slate)
[A] man held a sign that read, “Veterans to Trump: End Hate Speech Against Muslims.” The crowd, estimated at 8,000 people, could see the man and the sign and started to yell. “Get him out!” said some attendees. “Throw him out!” yelled others. Trump noticed and voiced the anger of his supporters. “Get the hell out,” he said, as security removed the protester. The crowd booed and cheered and chanted (“USA! USA!”), and Trump continued with his address, moving—as usual—to attacks on immigrants, Muslims, and foreign countries.
Trump continued as normal, but he was interrupted again. This time, he could see the protesters as they were hauled out by security. And this time, he had a little more to say. “You know what they used to do to guys like that in a place like this?” he asked the crowd. “He’d go out in a stretcher.” His audience cheered. A moment later, he went further: “You know we’re not allowed to touch him? The police are touching him gently and he’s smiling and he’s having a good time. I’d like to punch him in the face.” Again, the crowd went wild.
Why are they chanting “USA! USA!”? Booing a veteran on purely political grounds at a civic speech in a public place is absolutely the least American thing I’ve ever heard of.
I’m honestly a little surprised that Trump hasn’t brought in his own private security, which he would of course dress in nasty brown shirts. Everything else he does apes the Nazi’s, so why stop there?
3. The Dungeons & Dragons Web Series Critical Role Is Great TV, Even if You Wouldn’t Know a Vorpal Sword From a Volkswagen (Slate)
I included this because I don’t want to talk about Trump anymore and also because this series is, in fact, flat-out fantastic. Lots of folks play D&D live these days, but the voice actors on this show do it well. They are unapologetically nerdy, intimately familiar with the rules despite having just picked up 5th Edition, and unafraid to stay in-character.
It helps that they treat the game like improve theater. Of course, good role-playing really is just improve with statistical modeling overlaid to form a foundation of rules.
4. Friday Hair Metal: The Final Countdown
Saw this on Facebook, and yes, it is exactly as awesome as it sounds.
Four days after Pierre-Paul suffered the gruesome hand injury, Schefter reported that JPP had to have his right index finger amputated. The ESPN reporter broke the news on Twitter, where he also included a picture of Pierre-Paul's medical records…
"This action arises out of ESPN reporter Schefter's blatant disregard for the private and confidential nature of plaintiff's medical records, all so Schefter could show the world that he had 'supporting proof' of a surgical procedure," the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit also states that Schefter "improperly obtained" the medical chart from Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, where JPP was treated. Two hospital employees were fired this month after Jackson Memorial conducted an internal investigation.
I’m glad to see this. There were questions at the time about how Shefter obtained JPP’s medical records, which are obviously confidential by law. Reporting the fact that JPP had a finger amputated was not a breach—it’s a provable fact that affects a public figure—but including the x-rays was a gross violation of HIPAA. Perhaps it’s the hospital that should be held liable rather than the news agency, but I think JPP is right to test the theory in court.
Bonus Round: Daredevil’s Second Trailer
Note the new costume.
That's all I've got, folks. But I'll be staying on-point today as I head out to Thurgood Marshall Middle School to teach sixth graders about the rise of Nazi Germany and the events of World War 2 on the Western Front. It's a ninety-minute presentation, which you can find below via Google Drive.
The file itself is PowerPoint, but there are notes for each slide that lay out the talking points if you're not familiar enough with the material to give this presentation yourself. Last year, Hannah's teacher said in a conference that she wasn't comfortable teaching the military aspects of the war, so I volunteered, and it went very well. Now it's an ongoing gig. I've included the link on the off-chance that you also need to teach this material or know someone who does who's not familiar with the military aspects of the war.
I was a European History major at West Point, and I did my thesis on the events of 1940 and Britain's decision to stay in the war after Dunkirk, so it's nice to get a chance to teach to my actual strengths every once in a while.
Have a nice weekend!