Comment on New York Times editorial “Can Donald Trump Handle the Truth?”

My response to this Editorial Board opinion piece, published January 28, 2017.

I have to say these recitations of the pathologies of Donald Trump are starting to get a little repetitious and tiresome. As the first 7 days has shown, the man is unfit for the job, has no grasp of reality, never has and never will. So yes, “oops, we made a big mistake.” Got it. Don’t need hear more “can you believe he said THAT?” The question is, what can we do now?

I propose a modest plan. We’ve had 5 million people in the streets, let’s organize ourselves to focus on ONE THING for the next 2 years. This is the only practical way we’re going to get rid of this guy (short of 25th Amendment removal), and it involves the following steps:

(1) target 25+ Republican House seats and pour all our energies into local activism to flip them in 2018. Remember the Tea Party flipped 50 seats to the Reps in 2010! With far fewer activists than we have today. http://www.indivisibleguide.com blueprints how to do it.

(2) Flip 3+ Senate seats using the same tactics.

(3) Impeach him in the House (pick from a menu of possible articles of impeachment).

(4) Convict and remove him in the Senate. Goodbye Trump.

(5) Block President Pence on everything he tries to do. Wait 2 years.

(6) Ride a post-Watergate-like wave of regret and anger to put a decent, patriotic American in the White House in 2020, backed up by super-majorities in both Chambers. Goodbye Republican Quislings.

(7) Begin cleaning up the mess, getting on with the people’s work, and rebuilding the integrity of our once great country.

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Comment on Todd Gitlin, “The Drum Smash and the Blaring Trumpet”

Response to article by Todd Gitlin on Moyers & Co. blog, January 19, 2017.

It’s all very Ayn Randian, isn’t it? I feel when listening to these folks that their contempt and hatred is so intense they would send us all to the ovens if someone only gave them the opportunity.

There is a lot of very interesting research on personality and conservative ideology, and it paints a scary picture. See Hibbing, John R., Kevin B. Smith, and John R. Alford. “Differences in negativity bias underlie variations in political ideology.” BEHAVIORAL AND BRAIN SCIENCES 37 (2014): 297-350. Also lots of research on how these predispositions translate into morality beliefs, again very, very scary. See Kugler, Matthew, John T. Jost, and Sharareh Noorbaloochi. “Another look at moral foundations theory: Do authoritarianism and social dominance orientation explain liberal-conservative differences in “moral” intuitions?.” Social Justice Research 27.4 (2014): 413-431.

Bottom line: conservatives are extremely susceptible to moral claims based on obedience to authority and purity, to such an extent that they can override more basic moral concerns about fairness, justice, and avoidance of harm. Inconvenient conclusion: Fox News may be first and foremost a little fascist incubator.

What “not legitimate” means: Why and how to respond to Trump

On this Martin Luther King Day, everyone should understand why Representative John Lewis is called “the conscience of the Congress.” He is more than just a United States Representative, he is one of the last remaining representatives of a generation of Americans, black and white, who confronted the injustice and bigotry of racial discrimination in the 1960s, when the engines of government would not. Continue reading

Comment on Roger Cohen, “Streep vs. Trump for America”

A reply to New York Times opinion column by Roger Cohen, January 10, 2017.

I would like us to reflect for a moment on Meghan McCain’s comment that Ms. Streep should realize that exercises of free speech like hers are “how Trump won.” That really sends shivers down my spine. Ms. McCain’s father was humiliated by Trump’s cruelty and brutishness just as publicly as Mr. Kovaleski was. Would she want us to remain silent about that despicable behavior simply to avoid the backlash of Trump’s minions?

Who are these people who would punish us with “more Trump” if we dare to call out abhorrent behavior — which is now being copied and inflicted on our children across our nation’s school yards every day? Has our civic society become so debased that some of us can’t tell the difference between courage and brutishness anymore, and so are perfectly happy to shout down the former and raise up the latter for all to adore? We must never be afraid to speak out for decency and civility.

If we’re going to have a culture war of common respect vs. insult and thuggery, let’s not back down from the fight. And I want to be on Ms. Streep’s side.

An open letter to Trump voters: It’s about time to get rid of Republicans … for good

Dear Trump voters,

Greetings from Deep Blue California, where we have the highest state taxes in the nation, the highest tax rate on millionaires, subsidized healthcare for 12 million poor Californians, guaranteed equal pay for women and men, the strongest environmental and anti-pollution regulations in the country, the strictest laws protecting public health and the state’s natural resources, and wide-ranging rights, benefits, and protections for undocumented immigrants.

Sounds like an economic and cultural nightmare, doesn’t it? Continue reading

Comment on Jay Rosen, “Winter is coming: prospects for the American press under Trump”

Comment in response to this important article by Jay Rosen, published December 29,2016.

Yes, things are looking bleak. But The Press was given special rights in the First Amendment because the Founding Fathers expected it to do two things: report the facts accurately and fearlessly and hold the government accountable for its actions. Many pressures have caused many parts of The Press to stray from this mission, as Mr. Rosen’s post accurately chronicles. But now more than ever, excuses won’t do. The Press must step up to do its duty, or forever forego its claim to the “special treatment” it receives under the Bill of Rights.

Here are 6 things The Press must start doing right now, when its obligations are the greatest:

  • Resist normalizing Trump during the pre-inauguration period.
  • Call out his anti-constitutional rhetoric and actions.
  • Educate the public on the true meaning of the Constitution.
  • Expose and contextualize Trump’s constant lying.
  • Accurately report his narcissistic outbursts and behaviors.
  • Hold him accountable for his performance as President, particularly with regard to the promises he made to his supporters during the campaign.

Further reading:

 

“A Republic, if you can keep it.”

Upon leaving the Constitutional Convention in 1787, Benjamin Franklin was reportedly asked by an anxious citizen, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” To which he famously replied, “A Republic, if you can keep it.”

Today, that question, along with Franklin’s conditional answer, is still with us, but in a distinctly modern form: Will the Trump Presidency be the start of a new authoritarian regime, unaccountable to either the electorate or the other branches of government, or will it be a one-time deal, a final culmination and repudiation of the 30-year Republican program to enrich a minute class of millionaires and billionaires at the expense of everyone else in the country? Continue reading