The Point of Michelle Wolf’s WHCD Monologue

Comedians You Should Know in Brooklyn Sept21 2016

On-point analysis of Michelle Wolf’s speech roast at the White House Correspondents Dinner by Rhonda Garelick at The Cut:

 Yes, it’s a sexist epithet, using a slur against women (“bitch”) to equate feminine behavior with inadequacy. But beyond that lay Wolf’s greater point: The White House currently resembles a misogynist dystopia, but the press has some complicity in this. The press complains, but they return again and again to that briefing room, asking questions as if they might ever get a straight answer, as if this were a normal White House that hadn’t declared the free press “an enemy of the people.” And so, in level four of her insult sequence, Michelle Wolf directed her comedic firepower not at her ostensible target, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, but at every member of her audience.

It is also unclear what legal authority Trump used to order the strikes in Syria. News reports Thursday said Trump had told some congressional lawmakers he was considering a military option in Syria, but none had been sought. The U.S. strikes against ISIS, for instance, are arguably covered by the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), but the AUMF doesn’t cover strikes against the Assad regime. Still, Trump might receive retroactive congressional approval for the strikes in Syria, just as Obama did in 2011 in the ultimately ill-advised operation in Libya.  

Trump won’t be the first president to campaign against war and yet wage it, as David noted: Both Woodrow Wilson, who took the U.S. into World War I exactly a century ago this week, and George W. Bush, whose interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq are being felt even today, did just that. Whether the U.S. action in Syria will be confined to Friday’s action was unclear—even to the president. Speaking Thursday to reporters aboard Air Force One, Trump said of Assad: “He’s there, and I guess he’s running things, so I guess something should happen.”

The U.S. Strikes in Syria (The Atlantic)

I think it’s understandable (if wrong) that Trump took military action in Syria, but the way he did is once again ill-advised and reckless. I also can’t get over the fact that a billionaire just ordered military escalation in a complex, international conflict from a golf club in Florida.  

You cannot pledge allegiance to a nation state and its flag in the name of God, for God has no political boundary. God is love, period. God is universal, nameless, faceless, and with no allegiance to anything other than love. A “Christian Nation” is absolutely heretical. Christ did not come into this world to become a modifier.

Sufjan Stevens. 

Not sure if I agree with his entire statement, but this part comes close to my own beliefs and thoughts. “Christ did not come into this world to become a modifier.” is a great line against the so-called Christian right, particularly in the contemporary United States, when lip service sometimes seems more important than service. 

Need to think about this some more.

Why, then, does anyone consider him a “populist”? It’s basically all about affect, about coming across as someone who’ll stand up to snooty liberal elitists (and of course validate salt-of-the-earth, working-class racism.) Maybe some protectionism; but there’s no hint that his economic program will look anything like populism abroad.

Orwell was prescient in other ways: a paper called “Crisis? Whose Crisis? George Orwell and Liberal Guilt” points out that Orwell was fixated on what he deemed “one of the more embarrassing moments in twentieth-century liberalism: the failure of middle-class liberals to connect with the working class.” According to scholar Rob Breton, Orwell sought to “expose the intelligentsia’s self-congratulating assumption that they were harmoniously attuned to the lower classes, the masses.” Sounds…familiar

If I tell you “the sky is green,” it’s not so much my goal that you believe me instantly. My goal is rather to reiterate the claim that the sky is green until your resources to endure this dissonance are depleted and you give in and say, “that’s your opinion. I think the sky is blue. I guess there’s no way to determine the color of the sky objectively.”

Constant untruths eventually wear away the brain.

Say No to Trump’s Lies by Marina Weisband

I think we need to be alert to the historical context in which we speak about violence, including structural violence. Too frequently we take physical harm and/or killing as the only paradigm of violence. But this can blind us to other forms of violence that involve humiliation and suffering.

But what is even more important is that there are forms of behavior that are not considered to be violent at one stage of history that need to be exposed as violent in another.

Richard J. Bernstein, in an insightful interview with Brad Evans about violence in the works of  Frantz Fanon, Hannah Arendt, Walter Benjamin, and what their concepts mean in today’s world: The Intellectual Life of Violence

100 Days of Bad Ideas

The smart people at NPR Politics went through Trump’s “Contract with the America Voter,” i.e. his first 100 days plan, to see how feasible is.
For example, here is their analysis of Trump’s plan to gut the Affordable Care Act:

The GOP Congress has already demonstrated its willingness to repeal the insurance tax subsidies and Medicaid expansion portions of the Affordable Care Act, along with the requirement that all Americans have health insurance, using a fast-track legislative maneuver known as “reconciliation” that prevents a Democratic filibuster. President Obama vetoed that measure, but President-elect Trump would presumably sign it. The Congressional Budget Office predicts that could strip health insurance coverage from more than 20 million people – although the change would most likely be phased in over a couple of years. Trump’s replacement plan is less clear. Health savings accounts would allow more people to buy insurance with pre-tax dollars, and selling insurance across state lines might increase competition and reduce prices. But coverage will very likely remain out of reach for many. The requirement that insurance companies provide coverage to people with pre-existing conditions cannot be repealed through reconciliation. But preserving that requirement without the individual mandate to purchase insurance could create a costly situation in which people wait until they’re sick to buy coverage.

Trump’s rejection of Obamacare without presenting a true alternative for those insured by the program alone shows that his plan only creates a government of, by and for some people.  

Sick and tired of the usual, grueling day-to-day coverage of the US presidential election? Yeah, me too. Yet there are still 10 days to go until the watershed election day..

 Besides the repetitive email scandals on one side and gross sexist, racist rambling on the other side, there are still challenging issues and fascinating stories. 7Days2Vote is a project that aims to tell those stories and document what individual voters care about. 2 friends are road tripping through the Eastern and Southeastern states and taping interviews with voters. The videos will be released successively during the 7 days leading up to the election (hence the name) and I’m really excited about the project. The project is mainly German, but the twitter feed and the videos will be bilingual.

Full disclosure: I run the twitter account @7days2vote and Daniel is my younger brother 🙂