#amreading: Talk of the Town, The New Yorker, December 19 & 26, 2016

. . .  congressional Republicans are feeling bullish about finally achieving a goal that they’ve sought for years: getting rid of federal funding for Planned Parenthood, which provides health services like cancer screening and contraception, as well as abortion. If a Trump Administration succeeds in dismantling the Affordable Care Act, or simply in eliminating the mandate that health plans include contraception coverage, many more women will lose access to health care and, especially, to more expensive, but also more effective, long-acting contraceptive methods, such as the I.U.D.


Under Jeff Sessions (new Attorney General), the Justice Department is unlikely to provide robust protection for abortion clinics.


For Labor Secretary, Trump has in mind Andrew Puzder, the C.E.O. of the company that runs Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s. An opponent of raising the minimum wage and of expanding overtime pay, Puzder, referring to the company’s ads, told the magazine Entrepreneur, “I like beautiful women eating burgers in bikinis. I think it’s very American.”

Trump won the Presidency despite a well-documented penchant for the vulgar belittlement of women, and with the help of a fan base energized by chants of “Lock Her Up.”

Quote of the Day: Andrew Marantz

What exactly is alt-right? Other than an inflammatory hashtag?

Here’s one definition. It’s in an essay called “Trolls for Trump,” by Andrew Marantz (The New Yorker, 31 October 2016):

a loose, on-line affiliation of white nationalists, neo-monarchists, masculinists, conspiracists, belligerent nihilists, and social media trolls. The alt-right has no consistent ideology; it is a label, like “snob” or “hipster,” that is often disavowed by people who exemplify it. The term typically applies to conservatives and reactionaries who are active on the Internet and too anti-establishment to feel at home in the Republican Party.

The essay then goes on to show how the alt-right is seeding social media with misinformation.

As if any thinking person didn’t know that already?

She never presses “like” anymore unless she’s vetted the tweeter. Whereas in the old days (pre-Nov. 8), she would just blithely follow back.

Then she’d discover — days, weeks, or even months later — that the person endorses the Muslim Ban and the Muslim Registry. And it fills her with so much shame.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

#amreading: Ryan Lizza’s New Yorker Article on Kellyanne Conway, “Taming Trump” (17 October 2016)

Conway went to Trinity Washington University, a Catholic college in Washington, DC, and received a law degree from George Washington University. She pointed out that, while Hillary Clinton failed the D.C. bar exam in 1973, before passing in Arkansas, Conway was allowed into the D.C. bar after passing the exams in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Conway said she thought about that during the first debate: “Boy, she really can cram a lot of information into her head for one performance. How the heck did she fail the D.C. bar?”

#thatlastquestion #snark

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Quote of the Day: Graydon Carter, Editor’s Letter, Vanity Fair, December 2015

The political arena has always held its attractions for business leaders who believe that wisdom picked up at the coal face of American industry can be applied to civics. On the surface, this seems like a natural transition. But it isn’t. Most people who succeed at business do so with a relentless, single-minded ego thrust that crushes the opposition and tosses aside the weaklings who stand in the way. Wait, that does sound like what it takes to win at national politics.

What’s interesting is . . .  the way voters keep seizing on the idea that someone from the business world (Lee Iacocca? Ross Perot?) is the ideal candidate to lead us into the Promised Land when the only real business titan we’ve ever had as president was Herbert Hoover. And look how that worked out.

To the Last

Obama:  How do we make sure that we don’t change, even as we protect our people?”

— quoted in The Economist, 26 November 2016

Hillary

“I think that if you live long enough, you realize that so much of what happens in life is out of your control, but how you respond to it is in your control. That’s what I try to remember.”

Route to Power: Keep It Vague

from Robert Greene’s The 48 Laws of Power, p. 217:

To create a cult you must first attract attention. This you should not do through actions, which are too clear and readable, but through words, which are hazy and deceptive.

(See: BIGLY. Also: YUUUGE. Also: SAD. SO SAD. Also: Anything that can be said in 140 characters)

Your initial speeches, conversations, and interviews must include two elements: on the one hand, the promise of something great and transformative, and on the other a total vagueness.

(See: MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN)

This combination will stimulate all kinds of hazy dreams in your listeners, who will make their own connections and see what they want to see.

(At the risk of repeating herself: MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN)

To make your vaguness attractive, use words of great resonance but cloudy meaning, words full of heat and enthusiasm.

(See: I AM GOING TO APPOINT THE GREATEST CABINET IN THE HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The New York Times Magazine, 1 January 2017

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Comfort the mind with this wonderful excerpt from Jonathan Mahler’s “Search Party,” in the 1 January 2017 New York Times Magazine.

Our most famous self-investigator is, of course, our incoming president, Donald J. Trump; perhaps no one is more committed to embracing and trumpeting unproven claims from the internet. Six years ago, as he flirted with the idea of running for president, he became especially preoccupied with a theory being advanced by a right-wing extremist named Joseph Farah. A self’described ex-Communist, Farah presided over a nonprofit organization, the Western Center for Journalism, which was dedicated to promoting “philosophical diversity” in the news media, and now runs a popular website, WorldNetDaily, which bills itself as “America’s Independent News Network.” The Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization that monitors U.S. hate groups, has a different point of view, calling Farah “the internet king of the antigovernment ‘Patriot’ movement.

Farah had floated plenty of specious arguments in the past, among them the claim that gay men orchestrated the Holocaust, and that Muslims have a 20-point plan for conquering the United States by 2020. But the Farah campaign that captured Trump’s imagination held that America’s first black president, Barack Obama, might have been born outside the United States.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

What Self Learned in 2016

Since self has been laid up with a bug for the last three days, she has plenty of time to ruminate on the year soon ending. And these are her darkest thoughts:

A lot of women (mostly older women) disliked Hillary.

A woman can run for President, she can be the smartest woman in America, and the other candidate can still slam her on her looks. (Thinly veiled: “She just doesn’t look Presidential.” Self recalls that a long time ago, when Desperate Housewives was a hit, The President-Elect pronounced Eva Longoria just “a 7 out of 10.” Thank God he did not go that low this time)

Women are hard on a woman who wears pantsuits all the time.

Self heard this during the latest election season: Melania knows how to dress and Hillary is “ugly.” Post-election: Michelle Obama is an ape in heels.

American animosities that had been frayed open by eight years under an African American man came to tortuous conclusion when a woman ran to succeed him. It was just too much. For most of America. A return to sanity was sorely needed. And that is why we are here now.

Stay tuned.

Spin, Spin, Spin

Kellyanne Conway, speaking to reporters following the first Presidential debate, on 26 September 2016:

“I love the fact that he restrained himself tonight and he was a gentleman toward her. He definitely could’ve gone where a lot of America was thinking he should or could go, which is to talk about her husband and women, and he did not. He restrained himself, and you know what? Restraint is a virtue, and it is certainly a Presidential virtue, and I think many voters today, particularly women, probably saw that and respected that a great deal.” — from the article “Taming Trump,” by Ryan Lizza

Woman, what planet are you on?

Ann Coulter, Sarah Palin, Kellyanne Conway: the new triumvirate of ridiculous

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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