the right way to oppose trump


John Gruber on staying focused.

Twitter is full of people talking about Mike Pence getting booed by the audience at Hamilton last night. Now Trump himself is tweeting about it, focusing news media on the incident. Booing is not meaningful opposition. But it has served to distract from a legitimate scandal: Trump settling a fraud lawsuit for $25 million yesterday. The smart opposition is focused on that today.

And the real news — what is happening this week that will have serious repercussions — is that the Trump administration is being filled with cronies, fools, and white nationalist bigots. Trump just nominated an avowed racist to head the Department of Justice and we’re talking about Mike Pence getting booed at a play? If you’re truly opposed to Trump, get serious and stay focused.

you keep using that word


President Elect Trump picked Steve Bannon to be his chief strategist. Here’s a good profile of him and the alt-right , found via Next Draft .

The Southern Poverty Law Center has a good overview of Breitbart, the website Bannon ran for the last several years.

Sarah Posner, writing in Mother Jones , quotes one of the former editors of Breitbart.

“Andrew Breitbart despised racism. Truly despised it,” former Breitbart editor-at-large Ben Shapiro wrote last week on the Daily Wire, a conservative website. “With Bannon embracing Trump, all that changed. Now Breitbart has become the alt-right go-to website, with [technology editor Milo] Yiannopoulos pushing white ethno-nationalism as a legitimate response to political correctness, and the comment section turning into a cesspool for white supremacist mememakers.”

And she continues.

Trump’s new campaign chief denies that the alt-right is inherently racist. He describes its ideology as “nationalist,” though not necessarily white nationalist. Likening its approach to that of European nationalist parties such as France’s National Front, he says, “If you look at the identity movements over there in Europe, I think a lot of [them] are really ‘Polish identity’ or ‘German identity,’ not racial identity.

Bannon dismisses the alt-right’s appeal to racists as happenstance. “Look, are there some people that are white nationalists that are attracted to some of the philosophies of the alt-right? Maybe,” he says. “Are there some people that are anti-Semitic that are attracted? Maybe. Right? Maybe some people are attracted to the alt-right that are homophobes, right? But that’s just like, there are certain elements of the progressive left and the hard left that attract certain elements.”


During our interview, Bannon took credit for fomenting “this populist nationalist movement” long before Trump came on the scene. He credited Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.)—a Trump endorser and confidant who has suggested that civil rights advocacy groups were “un-American” and “Communist-inspired”—with laying the movement’s groundwork.


Bannon, himself, has expressed in the past his doubts over the continued problem of racism in the United States.

“I don’t think it’s a systemic race problem in this country,” Bannon continued after Hunter pressed him repeatedly about the legacy of racial disparity in America. “My own life experience. I’ve just seen in communities like Richmond, Virginia and in the United States military when I was a naval officer,” Bannon later said. “I don’t see systemic racism in the military. I don’t see systemic racism in these communities.”

“Cities like Richmond and Baltimore and Philadelphia have black mayors, have black city councils, have black police commissioners. How can it be systemically racist if these men and women today are actually in control of the city?” Bannon questioned.


Ashley Carman, reporting in The Verge , of a year-ago interview between President Elect Trump and Bannon.

Trump voiced concern over these students attending Ivy League schools and then going home: “We have to be careful of that, Steve. You know, we have to keep our talented people in this country,” Trump said.

When asked if he agreed, Bannon responded: “When two-thirds or three-quarters of the CEOs in Silicon Valley are from South Asia or from Asia, I think . . . ” he didn’t finish his sentence. “A country is more than an economy. We’re a civic society.”

While Bannon didn’t explicitly say anything against immigrants, he seemed to hint at the idea of a white nationalist identity with the phrase “civic society.” Taken in tandem with the stories Bannon allowed to go up on Breitbart News, including pieces that attacked women, feminists, political correctness, muslims, and trans people, Bannon’s comment wouldn’t come as a surprise.


You keep using that word. I don’t think it means what you think it means.

what the hell just happened


Lots to dig into in this intelligent screed from Dave Pell, including this bit on our bubbling off into separate bubbles.

Segregation: This election displayed a remarkable geopolitical split between cities and inner suburbs, and outer suburbs and rural areas. This makes perfect sense. We never interact. Many of us hoped that the internet would increase our interaction with people who didn’t look and think like us. Sadly, it merely offered us the opportunity to create and live in digital silos of homogenization.

This segregation makes us perfect targets for the political messages of those who would choose to divide us. It’s much easier to stereotype the other when you never see the other.

Discovered at Daring Fireball. Here’s what Gruber said.

One, I’ve struggled mightily to put my thoughts together. This piece by Dave Pell does a hell of a good job of that.

Second, because I know that many of you are struggling with this, Daring Fireball can serve as a place where you turn to think about something else. It felt good to write yesterday’s analysis of the new MacBook Pros. But I can’t ignore it forever, and you shouldn’t either.


John Gruber, reacting to an op-ed in the Times, back in March:

That phrase at the end — that we have “a culture in which some people believe that it’s worse to be called racist than to be racist” — is something I started noticing years ago. Once you see it, you can’t un-see it, and it explains much about our current discourse on racism.

A recent piece at Breitbart concerning an essay by Neil Gabler at (emphasis mine):

So, according to Gabler, there you have it: The voters, at least the Trump voters, are judged to be racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, and nativist.

We might pause to wonder: What is Gabler trying to accomplish here? Who thinks that such a slur-filled string of characterizations will inspire anyone to slap his or her forehead and say, “Gee whiz, now that I’ve read Mr. Gabler’s insults aimed at me, I’m starting to see things his way. So I’ll vote Democratic from now on!” Answer: Nobody.

a constraint upon our imaginations


Leon Wieseltier, in the Washington Post way back in June, wrestles with the expanses of pain and the limits of our imagination.

As I watched “The Deer Hunter,” I was struck by the scattershot nature of American compassion. There are many groups in our society that suffer hardship and discrimination, but we confer moral glamour on some of them and not on others. We are never concerned in equal measure about them all. We are inconstant in our decency, which is perhaps the most common form of indecency. The media has made our attention, and therefore our mercies, fickle; from our digital sources we know about all sorts of suffering, and we just live with the knowledge. But our passing sympathies, the soft betrayals of the intermittent heart, are not exactly random.

The partiality of our consciences, our inability to care about all who have a proper claim upon our care, is not the result of a constraint upon our budgets, or more generally upon our institutions of politics and government. It is the result of a constraint upon our imaginations. Ethical principles are most commonly ascribed to the operations of reason, but we need to remind ourselves of the role of the imagination in moral action.

…this mental and spiritual preparation, is what transforms justice from a fantasy into a cause. All this is very uplifting. But it is hardly the whole story. The white working class differs in a significant way from the people who have discovered it. Our moment does not consist only in millions of Americans stepping outside themselves and proclaiming their sympathy for others. It consists also of millions of Americans staying inside themselves and proclaiming their sympathy for themselves. And just as the emphasis on other people’s tribulations expands us, the emphasis on our own tribulations contracts us.

Pain has no special access to truth.

a time for refusal


Teju Cole, in The New York Times Magazine, writing of Rhinoceros–a play inspired by the rise of fascism in Romania–and the unfortunate tendency of humans to herd.

Things become more disturbing in the next act. (This is a play: “Rhinoceros,” written by Eugène Ionesco.) The rhino sightings continue to be the subject of pointless dispute. Then, one by one, various people in the town begin to turn into rhinos. Their skin hardens, bumps appear over their noses and grow into horns. Jean had been one of those scandalized by the first two rhino sightings, but he becomes a rhino, too. Midway through his metamorphosis, Berenger argues with him: “You must admit that we have a philosophy that animals don’t share, and an irreplaceable set of values, which it’s taken centuries of human civilization to build up.” Jean, well on his way to being a rhino, retorts, “When we’ve demolished all that, we’ll be better off!”



rules for survival


Masha Gessen, in The New York Review

Do not be taken in by small signs of normality. Panic can be neutralized by falsely reassuring words about how the world as we know it has not ended. It is a fact that the world did not end on November 8 nor at any previous time in history. Yet history has seen many catastrophes, and most of them unfolded over time. That time included periods of relative calm.


Believe the autocrat. He means what he says. Whenever you find yourself thinking, or hear others claiming, that he is exaggerating, that is our innate tendency to reach for a rationalization. This will happen often: humans seem to have evolved to practice denial when confronted publicly with the unacceptable. Back in the 1930s, The New York Times assured its readers that Hitler’s anti-Semitism was all posture.


See also. Hitler’s only kidding.