Gradually, then suddenly

The pace of events in the decline of the Trump administration has accelerated. Things are moving so fast it’s becoming impossible for anyone in the White House to regain the initiative. That takes us into the more dangerous phases of this disaster, when administration and establishment figures find themselves overwhelmed, reacting in increasingly desperate and irrational ways. Buckle up folks.

Here’s a quick rundown of things I’ve been watching over the past few days.

Social Capitalism is doing its thing.

Not a single one of the pastors in Trump’s “faith advisory council” has distanced themselves from the administration, but corporate CEO’s are putting their conscience on display. Three CEO’s resigned this week. This is an important watershed in our history. Corporate America is becoming our public conscience while religious authorities remain happily complicit. Social capitalism is emerging as a new political and economic force.

Meanwhile, Nazis are losing their jobs. A massive crowd-sourced effort to dox the participants in the Charlottesville Nazi rallies is already paying off. Several participants have already been fired by their employers.

Here’s a little rule you can follow to guess who is going to win a political or even military fight inside the US – Business always wins. Every time. A lot of comfortable white people who are used to voting GOP more or less thoughtlessly are being confronted with chilling realities. They are not safe anymore. Markets have decided what the future looks like, and it doesn’t look like Southern conservatives.

Look at statements and actions over the past six months from major corporate figures. The market has decided where it stands on white nationalism. Those who embrace it publicly will find their prospects dimmed. This is a serious problem for the Republican Party which Republicans are only waking up to this week.

A mob tore down a Confederate statue in Durham.

There is going to be more of this. Durham had been discussing plans to remove the Confederate memorial outside the old courthouse. Then, in 2015 the GOP-dominated legislature in North Carolina banned cities from removing the monuments. That was a mistake.

It would be a very good idea for mayors and city councils all over the country to accelerate the process of removing these monuments. They have been a rallying point for racists since they were erected. That’s why they were erected in the first place. Now they will become a focus of street battles. Cities and colleges are going to be forced to either remove them, or defend them with state-sponsored force.

All the safe spaces in which nice white people used to hide from the realities of racism are being destroyed by the Trump administration. Good riddance. Now we get to find out where people really stand.

We got an ugly look at the next generation of Republicans.

You may have wondered what a college Republican actually looks like these days. With Trump’s approval rating among young people so small you have to use special equipment to measure it, who wants to be a Republican on a college campus? Well, we got our answer – Nazis.

The head of the College Republicans at Washington State University was outed as a participant in the Charlottesville rally. His response was just as crude and snide as you’d expect. Can’t wait to see his first job interviews.

Expect more of this. Leaders of College Republicans nationally pressed him to step down, but so what? Where are they going to find replacements that aren’t wearing that same stupid Nazi haircut? We are running out of room to pretend that there is anything left animating the right in the US besides white nationalism, especially among our youngest generation of voters.

Trump is hinting that he might pardon Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Apparently fuming after being forced to read some somewhat unfriendly things about Nazis, Trump has responded with an olive branch toward the alt-right. He told Fox News he might pardon Arpaio. If he does this, our political tinderbox will explode. That fuel is just waiting for a spark.

Right on cue, another white guy was arrested for a terrorist plot.

A 23-year-old white supremacist was arrested in Oklahoma for trying to blow up a bank. The FBI was monitoring his activities, supplying him with phony materials which he used to build the bomb and attempt to detonate it.

Republicans are standing on a very dangerous precipice. Everything present-day Republicans value, from market-based economics to abortion restrictions, is rapidly being subsumed under, and tainted by, a blanket of white nationalism. One more year of Donald Trump, and we may go through a generation in which no one can afford be an “out” Republican in any mainstream commercial or social setting outside the Deep South. The only Republicans will be retirees, welfare recipients, and the independently wealthy. Come to think of it, that’s not far from the coalition that supports the GOP today.

Shed Donald Trump this fall, or the statue-toppling mobs are going to get bigger and their targets will get harder to predict. Our window for containing the rage stirred up by this administration is closing and it is impossible to predict who will end up in its crosshairs.

Revolutions are bad. They are unpredictable, irrational, and randomly lethal. Remove Donald Trump from office now, while an orderly transfer of power remains plausible. We are running out of time.

249 Comments

    1. “We.have.won. Let them speak. Their ideas are ridiculous. I protected them because I don’t want them to get hurt. Liberals don’t want violence. I will stay here til f**king Thursday if I have to.”

      Among the more memorable comments in a huge peaceful display. Thank you Boston for showing the world that most Americans want to peacefully coexist.

      Thanks Mass Dem for the footage.

  1. Fair to say this is what happens when you boil down a political party to just a foundational collection of a nations’ worst impulses, and then floating it on the passive ignorance of the suckers who follow. You essentially create a Nazi party.

    Not ‘the’ Nazi party, but a divisive, grievance fueled, alternate-reality based political activism hell bent on single-party rule or no rule at all. That’s pretty much where we’re at. The Constitutional framework is still holding (although it’s creaking badly), because Congress hasn’t completely gerrymandered themselves into immunity from the voting public.

    1. The last time it was ‘this bad’ was the Civil War, which is where you get the Southern Confederates (aka, constitutional traitors) worked up.

      I don’t think we’ll break out into civil war. The industrial revolution and modern warfare and militarized police forces pose an existential threat to any form of violent/militant uprising. These Trumpian Neo-confederates’ only hope is to be the ones in authoritative power when the shooting starts… which happens to be now. Provocation is the next step.

  2. I wonder how many of Trump’s advisory boards/councils remain? Two business councils have resigned (Trump pre-empted their formal statement by announcing he was “disbanding them”.) Then, the Arts council resigned en masse. Now, a number of those serving on the Digital Economy Council have resigned.

    Trump did say he wanted to “drain the swamp”…..Somehow, I don’t think these folks are who he had in mind. Be careful what you ask for, Trumpster!

    http://www.politico.com/story/2017/08/18/trump-commerce-department-advisory-board-resignations-241791

      1. I’m very thankful for the things Trump hasn’t gotten started. One of the few benefits of having him in office.

        I just read this piece in The Guardian and it is interesting for including the liberal left extremists (hard-core Bernie supports/millennials) alongside the alt-right in pushing for radical change. Their goals may be different – racism vs capitalism – but their means are overlapping, if what he says is accurate.

        https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/aug/20/socialism-neoliberal-capitalism-far-right?

      2. Mary, I read the article and understood it differently. It’s not that the extreme left and right have different goals but similar vicious tactics, it’s that they have a similar gripe– anti capitalism — but from a different perspective and with different beneficiaries in mind: The alt left wants to destroy capitalism for the benefit of all, whereas the alt right’s hatred of capitalism is mingled with racism, so their goal is to destroy capitalism for the benefit of whites only.

      3. Yes, that is my understanding as well. The difference, as I understand it, is in the methods of the two extremist groups. The racism element is a huge difference in my opinion. The leftist extremists so far do not appear to have organized in the military fashion of the alt-right, nor been so overtly willing to inflict violence. I recall Griffin, from CA, when he posted here commented on some way out leftist extremism but he was never specific, only that he was surprised and concerned.

      4. I think we’re talking about a matter of degree here, Tutta. As well as geography. That’s why I think Griffin’s POV was so interesting. I wish he were still contributing but last contact I had with him he said he had been really busy with school. I hope he’s ok.

        Bottom line: violence is not acceptable on the right or the left, and if and when it occurs, it needs to be called out. That may have been what Trump was referring to but his timing was terrible and he lacks the speaking skills to explain his random remarks. It’s unfortunate but that’s how the man thinks and speaks. He can’t defend a position intelligently even if there is validity to it. He doesn’t read therefore he cannot communicate effectively because he’s never had to learn how to think critically then articulate a clear, supported position.

  3. 50, after reading Damore’s memo, I agree with you completely.

    I looked up Damore’s background and he has a master’s degree in biology from Harvard and was working on a Ph.D. in biology at Harvard before working at Google.

    I would hazard a guess that he would know more about the biological differences between men and women than the person who wrote the Wired article.

    His mistake was trusting that the topic could be discussed in a calm and rational manner.

    1. I agree this particular faith council sounds scary, but the idea of presidential spiritual advisors is not new, and even President Obama had them. I say this in response to someone here who thought the practice was unheard of until now. (I don’t recall who that was.)

      1. That was me. Never heard of it but I sure can’t help but wonder how any of these people believe Trump is in any way religious. The creature doesn’t have any spirituality at all and is morally bankrupt.

      2. Maybe it was more unofficial before now. And it’s very common for religious leaders to be invited to give their opinion on public policy regarding matters of ethics, such as abortion and euthanasia. So religion has played an important role in politics over the years.

  4. I just met Beto O’Roarke. He did an appearance down in Pearland TX this morning. Standing room only. He spoke for a bit, and then took unscreened questions from the audience. The event was scheduled from 10am -11:30 am, but he stayed until about 1 to talk and take pictures with the audience members who wanted to meet him. I commended him on daring to take unscripted questions (and while he was in purple territory today, he done the same thing in some of the really red places in TX). I also told him of my concern about the GOP war on science, and that I hoped that he would advocate for more R&D and push back against the ignorance.

    A theme that came up a number of times from the audience is how the Dems have lost the messaging war and they need to take back control of how they are perceived. Even a youngster who looked to be around 10 or so was hip to that.

    Granted, I would vote for a yellow dog over Cruz, but Beto is making a good impression. I will be doing some future campaign volunteering.

    1. I believe Cruz is taking notice of O’Rourke as well he should. Beto can clearly outwork him, but Cruz does have deep pocket donors. Chris has stated several times that money doesn’t win campaigns, but it sure makes it a lot easier to market oneself. Cruz’ negatives are well known but he does have a strong evangelical base. Beto will have to appeal to “everyone else” while being a Democrat….not impossible but not easy in TX. GOTV will be imperative for his supporters.

      It is impossible to ignore the impact of Citizens United on the political process. I noted in the New Yorker piece on Robert Mercer, this observation which I believe is accurate:

      “Private money has long played a big role in American elections. When there were limits on how much a single donor could give, however, it was much harder for an individual to have a decisive impact. Now, Potter said, “a single billionaire can write an eight-figure check and put not just their thumb but their whole hand on the scale—and we often have no idea who they are.” He continued, “Suddenly, a random billionaire can change politics and public policy—to sweep everything else off the table—even if they don’t speak publicly, and even if there’s almost no public awareness of his or her views.”

      1. From my limited perspective, it seems to me that Citizens United has empowered very wealthy individuals who obtained their wealth through large closely held corporations and those corporations that continue to be closely held. That is true of some of the privately held hedge funds such as the Renaissance Fund under the control of the Mercer family. It is certainly true of Koch Industries. On the other hand, the large publicly held corporations such as GE, IBM, Intel, GM, etc. are far more cautious, since they have to answer to the stockholders and are subject to numerous checks. That was no doubt a large part of the reason the CEO’s abandoned the Trump business councils. I am not so naive as to believe, that the publicly held corporations do not abuse the contribution limits and do not take advantage of Citizens United, but I believe they are not the prime offenders and are far more cautious.

      1. Robert Mercer is a cukoo and wealth does not make intelligence. I love this statement:

        “Caddell told me that Mercer “is a libertarian—he despises the Republican establishment,” and added, “He thinks that the leaders are corrupt crooks, and that they’ve ruined the country.””

        The irony is that libertarians are just as corrupt as the Republicans and Trump himself is a corrupt crook and in ruining the country.

        This was brought up by a friend of mine and is off topic but notice there are no pets in this WH? People who do not have pets or dislike animals are suspect. Probably better for dogs and cats though since I think there are psychopaths in that family and woe to any small animal in their path. All modern presidents have had a dog or cat as the “first pet”. I, for one, distrust anyone who doesn’t like animals.

      2. Beware broad generalizations. I do not have a dog but am a nice person. Frankly, I think it’s better that people like Trump NOT have pets as they’d probably be unkind or uncaring towards them. I wouldn’t want to be one of his children either (being his spouse – ugh) for the same reasons. He’s just not a nice person. Having a dog wouldn’t change him.

      3. Yes, Hitler had dogs. German Shepherds who he adored. By all accounts, Hitler was a charming individual and quite loving and kind to family and friends. Mussolini, while a dictator, was still very disturbed and conflicted over children being killed during the war. The fact is most people, even brutal dictators can have a soft side to them. Hell, even your deplorable KKK rednecks have their hound dogs.

        However, with Trump’s malignant narcissism I don’t think he has a soft side at all and I think he’s probably a fairly “dumb” creature with no depth of feeling for anyone except himself.

        But that still doesn’t change the fact I tend to distrust people who dislike animals of any kind.

      4. No offense, I’ve always had a pet of some sort. They are actually good for you mentally and for your health too. I’ve had cats, dogs, birds, guinea pigs, rabbits, a hedgehog, ferrets, snakes, lizards and fish but, yes, he’s a deplorable human being and would probably be very cruel to a pet. I don’t think he treats his wives or kids that great either. Narcissists don’t have that capability.

        Trump’s sons have a disturbing penchant for slaughtering endangered African animals too.

      5. I don’t assume people without animals are bad, but I do tend to look favorably upon people who DO have pets. I’ve come across people I can’t stand, and once I find out they are animal lovers, I think, they can’t be all bad, they must have a good side. It softens my opinion of them a bit.

      6. I don’t assume they are “bad” either. I just distrust them at first and I realize some people have allergies or something BUT I’ve found that most nice people like animals or have pets too. Donald Trump is the exception.

        He’s a loathsome piece of shit of humanity and has been since childhood by all accounts of old teachers and schoolmates. Just a bad seed all around.

        Here’s a personal story. A friend of mine had a cable guy come over and he walked in and saw her cat and immediately said “I hate cats”. She thought “hmm” but didn’t really think much about it because it’s not uncommon for people to dislike cats. Her phone rang so she stepped into another room to take the call. The guy finished and left. The next day her cat was acting lethargic and was having trouble breathing. She took him to the vet and he said the cat was suffering internal injuries and trauma as if someone had thrown it violently against a wall or shaken it very hard. Her conclusion was the cable guy had abused her cat while she wasn’t looking.

      7. I’ve known people who say they hate cats or dogs, until they are “adopted” by one, and then they fall in love with them.

        As for your story … I keep my pets out of sight so as not to tempt anyone with bad intentions.

      8. Yes, and I’ve found that people who say “i hate cats” have never really been around them and never had kittens as a youth. People claim “oh, they’re so lazy and have no personalities” have no clearly never been around cats that much.

      9. Kayray, that’s horrible! Did the cat survive? That story makes me said.

        I like cats very much (dogs too) but since I have chosen birds as my animal companions, I don’t have cats in my home. Less stress if some of your pets aren’t trying to eat others of your pets. But I’m very happy to give my friends’ and family’s’ dogs and cats some attention.

      10. Yes, Fly, the cat survived. Needless to say my friend is very careful and in hindsight she wishes she had told him to leave and had another person out. She called the company but since she couldn’t prove it all they could do is issue a warning to their employee.

        I love birds but, yes, it’s problematic having them in a house with cats. I know too well from experience. Such little clowns. At some point, I’d like to try out a little conure or small parrot.

      11. I have two dogs. One is a beautiful, fluffy, pedigreed merle Australian Shepherd with champion lineage going back generations and the other is a rescued, mixed breed dog that looks like a fruit bat, acts like a cat and is missing a tooth. I love them wholeheartedly and equally.

        I also like cats and birds and I like to eat fish. Just kidding! I took good care of my kids’ goldfish.

        Do you like me more now? 🙂

    1. Susan Bro is the adult in the room here. I’m trying to imagine how gut-wrenchingly painful it had to be for her to see Trump’s unhinged news conference after her daughter’s funeral, and I’m coming up short. I’m quite that I would be in a towering rage were I in her shoes. But damn, did she ever demonstrate how powerful the quiet, restrained rebuke can be. “Think before you speak.” Amen sister!

      1. EJ

        Flypusher:
        It depends on what you mean by “doxx.”

        I suggest that it is acceptable to link a person’s online speech to their real identity. This is especially the case if they’re involved in sock-puppetry, with Joshua Goldberg being a prime example.

        However, it is not acceptable to publish someone’s confidential paperwork, or their mobile phone number, or their street address, or the contact details of their parents.

        A lot of people, especially on the chans, conflate these two things under the heading of “doxx”, but I feel that there’s a clear moral divide.

      2. Good point EJ. I was thinking of just their names, that’s good enough. Mary, there is unfortunately no shortage of punk-ass cowards who make anonymous death threats, whether it’s from behind a screen name on line, or messages left on voicemail. A good public shaming is exactly what they deserve.

      3. As one who is opposed to doxxing and public shaming . . . I would think death threats at some point become a matter for the police. One thing is to make horrendous statements, like making offensive personal comments about someone. It’s quite another to directly harrass or threaten a person. To say “She deserves to die” is one thing. To say “Let’s get together and kill her” would be inciting violence. To tell someone “I’m going to kill you” is a direct threat. Forget doxxing and public shaming. I would report this to the police.

      4. I know people often threaten to kill each other and don’t mean it, and I think the law says the aggressor has to have a weapon in hand when he threatens to kill you for the police to be able to act, but I think there are laws against stalking and harrassment, even if there is no weapon, and you can get a restraining order.

      5. So, of course, it’s not that simple, but I do think sometimes it’s necessary to involve the police. And in Texas, if someone is on your property, depending on the circumstances, you are free to shoot that person.

  5. If we consider what bannon was saying leading up the election and shortly after the election, this could all be considered part of a master plan. bannon and his crew are/were bent on destroying all confidence the public has in the government and wiping out every gov’t institution they can.

    I am certain that they had no idea they frankenstein they unleashed would ever be so effective, given how utterly unpredictable and unhinged the puppet tyrant has proven to be. But there is no doubt, the credibility damage that this guy has done to the office of the presidency will last long after he is gone. Further, the Senate and House have demonstrated through inaction how venal they are, further damaging those institutions.

    For the sane majority, people’s trust in politicians is definitely lowered. And by the time this regime is done, even the 30% that accept racism if it leads to economic nationalism and jobs may be gravely disappointed.

    And this regime has yet to encounter a true crisis. They are the ones that threw the gasoline on the fire of NK and Charlottesville. When a true crisis emerges, and it most certainly will, be it a natural disaster, a much larger terrorist incident, or Russia or China pushing the envelope, the regime will just exacerbate the situation.

      1. Given that Bannon was intimately involved in stacking Trump’s cabinet with former lobbyists and politicians whose prior purpose in life was to destroy the agencies they now head; and, given that Bannon surely instigated most of the most egregious executive orders Trump has signed in his “blistering first 100 days” that have roiled and divided our nation; and, given that Bannon has achieved his greater purpose – that of striking decisive blows against the democratic institutions of America; and, given that Bannon has achieved cult-leadership status among his peers who share his purile values and goals; now, therefore be it resolved that President Donald J. Trump is solely responsible for running the United States of America.

        Long may she live.

      2. If you think about it, as the batshit crazy elements leave Trump is likely to move at least slightly to the center. If he does, Bannon would likely take him to task.

        The upside of this for Trump is that he is not required to replace Bannon. It has to be getting hard to find good help around the West Wing these days. A lot of folks have to be thinking that Trump White House might not look too good on a resume.

        On a different note, the Mooch has to be loving this.

      3. This week’s interview of Bannon by The Weekly Standard offers a window into his mind and future plans. We are assuming that Trump and Bannon are “on the ‘outs'”. That appears to be an incorrect, though common, assumption. From personal experience, I can attest that one can be more politically effective from without than within. I’ve lived it. Bannon will have no WH controllers, and he clearly intends to expand his message internationally with the full financial backing of Robert Mercer, with whom Bannon met this past week and Trump the day following. They are doubling down on their strategy. This is just the beginning.

        https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-08-18/bannon-says-he-s-going-to-war-for-trump-after-white-house-exit

        I have been encouraged by the actions of many large corporations and organizations to withdraw annual events at Trump’s Mar-a-lago, but more need to follow suit. The Hill reported that this week, “Trump’s Florida club is still making lucrative profits while Trump is in the White House.

        Last week, Trump reported on a federal financial disclosure form that Mar-a-Lago made $37.2 million in income between Jan. 1, 2016, and mid-April 2017. In 2015, that number was just $15.6 million during the same time period.”

        http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/339169-groups-pulling-events-out-of-mar-a-lago-report

    1. Was having drinks with a neighbor the other day who was military intel before retiring and he said on Tuesday that Bannon would be out on Friday. Voila! He said Trump would be offered a “relief valve” for the shit he stirred up over Charlottesville and Bannon would be the most likely to have to go whether Trump wanted it or not.

      1. Oh, I’d love to be a fly on the wall in DC these days. The chaos and turmoil inside the WH has got to be epic. Twitler’s daily tantrum’s and tweets, harried staff and bullied aides, backstabbing and a disgusted John Kelly but, yes, you would think intel could somehow block his tweets or disable his account. He’s been unofficially diagnosed as NP/Histrionic BPD and he’s unraveling more and more and thus getting more dangerous. Trump thrives on chaos and drama like all NP/Histrionic BPD’s do and you simply cannot treat them like normal because in their world they are normal and everyone else is crazy. I think Kelly is realizing this if he didn’t already know. We’ll see what happens. Personally, I think Kelly was put in place to monitor the volatile lunatic.

      2. While no Bannon fan, I hardly think we’ve seen the last of Mr. Bannon. Here’s a little background from WaPo on this subject.

        https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/08/18/ousting-bannon-is-a-risky-move-for-trump/?utm_term=.e4e8f7b822c3&wpisrc=nl_fix&wpmm=1

        The best thing is that Trump has a smaller and smaller front line to hide behind. If he is not going to be impeached, the best we may be able to hope for is that Gen. Kelly can reduce/slow the damage of the Trump presidency.

  6. Roger Moore, the Southern Baptist leader that Chris has mentioned in previous articles, has written an Op-Ed for the Wash. Post:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2017/08/14/russell-moore-white-supremacy-angers-jesus-but-does-it-anger-his-church/?tid=hybrid_mostsharedarticles_2_na&utm_term=.61ac3e599796

    I really liked it.

    I remember once listening to George Stephanopoulos speak and an audience member asked him how do we counter the influence of the religious right in politics. GS said that every American has the right to use any system of beliefs to guide his politics, including religion. He also pointed out that MLKjr was a preacher and Black churches were an important part of passing civil rights. So religious influence per se doesn’t have to bad. But we should challenge *how* a religion influences a person. What would Jesus really believe about tax cuts for the rich, or cutting health insurance, etc?

    Too many people, including politicians, use their religion as a get-out-of-jail free card, that if they say my religion makes me right, that we must automatically accept that. When I hear a guy like Ted Cruz say that after many months of prayer, he’s decided to endorse Trump, we shouldn’t denigrate his use of prayer. We should ask “Oh really? Who were you praying to? Because it couldn’t have been Jesus. Did Jesus really tell you it was okay to endorse a man who gropes women, doesn’t respect the sanctity of his own marriage, insulted your wife, and calls for taking away healthcare from millions of people? Tell me which part of your Scriptural studies led you to this conclusion, and I’ll find a Nun to rap your knuckles for learning nothing in Sunday School.”

    You can’t be a white supremacist and a christian at the same time. We shouldn’t let them pretend to be otherwise. Even non-Christians are closer to Jesus’s teachings than idiots like these, and we shouldn’t be afraid to call them when they slander their own religion.

    1. “You can’t be a white supremacist and a christian at the same time.”

      Nonsense! Show me any prohibition for slavery in the Bible. In fact, the Bible prescribes how slaves should treat their masters.

      From reason comes the concern for the welfare of fellow sentient beings. It damn sure doesn’t come from religion – as not only history, but the present shows us.

      1. The Bible as a whole does have some cringeworthy clobber passages, especially in the OT. But if you look at what is specifically attributed to Jesus, the point of the editorial is valid. Jesus is on the record as having very little tolerance for the pious hypocrite types. These religious people who back Trump and may excuses for the alt-right types are ignoring the words of the one they claim as their Lord and Savior. I don’t expect Christians to be perfect, but I do expect people to at least TRY to live by the standards they publicly proclaim. People like Fallwell Jr and Franklin Granham and Pat Robertson are not only not trying, but actively doing the opposite.

      2. OK Fly – Let’s assume Jesus was waxing metaphorical in Mathew: “But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father in heaven. 34 Do not assume that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn ‘A man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.…”

        And of course all Christians reject the OT in its entirety, because we all know it’s about the most violent, disgusting, immoral piece of trash to come out of the ancient world. Well, except for all the Fundies. But they weren’t Trump voters, were they? And everyone accepts the fact of evolution in the US, right?

        From slavery to violence and anti-science, the white supremacist movement is acting out nearly perfectly the “written word of God.” Cherry-picking the nice bits is in my view a fool’s errand. Whitewashing Christianity with the “metaphor excuse” assumes that the mouth-breathers in Charlottesville know what the hell a metaphor is. Neither one of us believes that.

      3. I disagree. Reason doesn’t prescribe any moral imperative by itself. Reason has expanded what we consider sentient beings (e.g. the more we learn about dolphins, elephants, etc. the more we’re forced to accept that they’re sentient). But it doesn’t tell us why we should be concerned for their welfare. That comes from religion.

        So yes, the Bible was wrong in its definition of sentient beings. And that has been corrected by reason and science (we continue to be corrected; SeaWorld is only now closing down their orca shows after we’ve gained a better understanding of how intelligent those animals are and the type of mental anguish their captivity is causing them).

        But, the Bible wasn’t a treatise on who’s a sentient being and who’s not. It was a treatise on how we should treat those whom we consider sentient beings. That part is now incompatible with white supremacy. In the future, it may be incompatible with keeping certain animals caged and displayed.

        At any rate, all I’m saying is if someone wants to use Christianity as the basis for their political decisions, we should fully engage them on what they believe makes a good Christian. If someone says the Bible allowed slavery, ergo they can be racist, then use Russell Moore’s argument and ask why that isn’t a more valid interpretation of Christ’s true teaching?

      4. WX – Sentient beings can suffer. This pretty much comes from the definition. A world with maximum suffering cannot be considered anything but undesirable. An optimal world would be one where sentient beings flourish. This isn’t religion, but rather a moral foundation based on reason.

        Do you really believe that humanity survived for well over 100,000 years as completely amoral before the recent appearance of revealed religion? Do apes instinctively share with each other? Do they object to unfair situations? I don’t think this is a result of the teachings of Honuman. Of course you too can list dozens of examples of this kind of behavior outside of our species.

        So no, our moral code absolutely does not “come from religion”. It comes from our evolutionary development as a social species and our ability to reason – not from our ability to fantasize. Get religion involved, and now you have to do a bunch of grammatical gymnastics to interpret this, and metaphorize that to finally, in the end, just get back to what we knew all along. That convoluted path is fraught with pitfalls, even to those not seeking some nefarious goal. (Of course, to those who are, it’s a free-for-all.)

      5. Fifty, no doubt the Bible can be confusing if only verses here and there are taken by themselves without reconciling them to the rest of the Bible.

        Various people and groups have used scripture to justify heinous acts. And yes, unfortunately, people have tried to justify slavery.

        Besides loving God first and foremost, Jesus said to “love thy neighbor as thyself.” These were the greatest commandments according to Jesus and summed up teaching in the Old Testament.

        You are right in saying that there were terrible things done by people in the Bible, but the Bible does not whitewash or try to hide “sin.”

        Parts of the Old Testament were historical. Many times actions were recorded as cautionary tales of what NOT to do and the consequences of disobeying God’s laws.

        Biblical times were brutal. Slavery existed in Israel (and the surrounding nations), but if you read the portions of scripture regarding slavery, you’ll find that it was different from what was practiced in the US.

        First of all, it was usually not permanent – especially in the case of fellow Israelites.

        Instead of starving during a famine, Israelites would sometimes sell themselves or a family member to a more wealthy individual, so they could survive and have food. This was also a case if there was a large debt that needed to be paid.

        Slaves were not to be abused. Slavery would be limited to a certain number of years until the debt was paid and every 50 years there would be a “Year of Jubilee” where slaves were freed no matter what the status of the debt.

      6. Matthew 22:35-40King James Version (KJV)

        35 Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying,
        36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
        37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
        38 This is the first and great commandment.
        39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
        40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

      7. Just a few comments here, Objv –

        First, the whole Golden Rule thing has antecedents that predate the Abrahamic religions by a thousand years. The Bible is nothing special, or original, or unique. It’s not even uniquely silly.

        You assert some of the OT is historical. Well, it’s just about the most error ridden text on history I can imagine. How do you decide? The nonsense about Eden and Jonah, and the flood are all silly enough, but even the more plausible stuff like the flight from Egypt never happened. Never. We know this.

        Please do not soften the biblical position on slavery by saying it was “temporary”. And “slaves were not abused”? Are you serious? Guess they weren’t in the South, either?

        Oh yes, the mideast was a brutal place. It still is. Was it as brutal as Cambodia or Rwanda? Not by body count it wasn’t. No excuse.

        As to this first commandment from a petty and jealous good, what a wuss he must be. What a useless deity to demand belief and allegiance in some invisible sky good or he’ll damn to you to some hell forever as his most important prescription. Don’t waste my time.

        You shouldn’t think I know nothing about Christianity, and I haven’t read the Bible. Or the Koran. Or chunks of the Pali Canon. You shouldn’t think my views on religion came from anywhere other than the absurdity of them all.

        Bertrand Russell once said that considering the thousands of religions that the planet has seen, and the fact that they are all in contradiction with each other, a believer should expect to go to hell based on statistics alone.

      8. Oh now mime. This life is great. It’s not without challenges, and sadness, and assholes, but those don’t outweigh the good! In fact, in consideration of Friday night, I think I’ll have to pull a pint!

      9. 50, I do agree with a lot you’ve said. One of the earliest things that soured me on organized religion was the attitude I got from some born-again types that if I didn’t believe what they believed the way they believed it, I’d be burning in hell. That’s not the sort of deity who I could feel any reverence for. Then we both know the attitudes of many of the fundies towards science. My point on the words of Jesus, and yes, even he got a few clobber passages attributed to him, is that there is a theme that recurs over and over again: treat your fellow humans with decency. Yes, it is a variation on the Golden Rule, and yes, he’s not the original author, but since he kept making that point, it’s no stretch to say that those who profess to follow him ought to heed it.

        I think pastors focusing on that portion of the Bible is not a bad thing. I wish they would do a major revise and edit of scripture again, and take the Dalai Lama’s advice about what to do when they run into a conflict with science. And maybe include Mary Magdalene’s gospel.

      10. FP – The Dalai Lama sure got that right, didn’t he? There’s a certain pragmatism in Tibetan Buddhism you don’t find in Zen, or other religions. It’s barely a religion at all, really. And it’s pretty difficult to get violent behavior out of the Pali.

        And yeah – the gospel of a groupie might be interesting. Too bad what survives is very incomplete.

      11. Fifty and fly, I can see why you have issues with organized religion. I can’t claim that I’m always a good Christian. I have many shortcomings, but I can say that Christianity has made me more tolerant and less prejudiced. From the time I was a toddler and was able to sing along with “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world …” I’ve been thoroughly indoctrinated to believe that people from all nations are equal in God’s sight.

        That said, Christians are imperfect (that’s why we have a need for God) and no doubt some believers harbor terrible prejudices, but my the majority of teaching in various churches I’ve attended has been overwhelmingly geared towards love and acceptance of all people no matter what their skin color.

      12. Objv – Well… I don’t think either of us were impugning Christians in general. Fact is that most people of all stripes are good people. It’s in our nature, as I’ve said.

        Not speaking for my friend FP here, my point is that to be a “good person”, religion is completely unnecessary. In fact, most religions have the potential to make potentially good people bad, and provide them with justification to do bad things. I don’t think this is an arguable point.

        If religion provides a person with a moral foundation that they might somehow be unable to suss out for themselves, fine with me. There’s a high road and a low road to Scotland and they get to the same place.

        Thing is, (and I’m probably speaking for both of us now), we object to the bullshit, the authoritarianism, the dogma, the false history, and the anti-intellectualism of it all. And when it spills over into the social debate, when believers attempt to exert control over other’s behavior because of some interpretation of some crap written in some dusty, ancient, edited, violent text, we tend to get riled up. Without apologies.

        I’m pretty certain you are a very good person, Objv. I’m also pretty sure that is not a result of your religion. It’s irrelevant to me if you think it is. High road and low road, and all that.

      1. Wow, Creigh! “the danger of theocracy is its mantle of moral certainty.”

        That is the most succinct statement of my feelings on this subject I have ever read.
        Thank you for always being able to articulate the truth simply and clearly.

      2. Agreed, Creigh. And the irony of so-called certainty is that the basis of faith isn’t certainty, it’s doubt. It’s the ability to believe in the *absence* of evidence and certainty.

        But if someone does choose to make his political decisions based on his religious beliefs, we’ll have an easier time changing his mind by engaging his religious beliefs rather than telling him he shouldn’t use them at all. For example, Jesse Helms was about as openly racist a Senator we’ve had in decades. He thought AIDS was a curse for homosexuality and didn’t care to try to stop it. And of course he was a “God-fearing” man. At the end of his career, he reversed course, authorizing large amounts of money for AIDS treatment in Africa, because he was convinced by guys like Bono that treating black kids in Africa of a gay disease was actually God’s work.

        Yes, that was still a compromise position, since he still thought anyone in America who caught AIDS must be a homosexual who deserved to die. But we got further with him than we would have if we just kept telling him that his religious beliefs have no place in politics.

      1. I believe that Pence is a very carefully packaged deep proponent of religious perversion for power – and I don’t use that word lightly. Is he “more” traditionally stable in his behavior? Sure – but don’t let that fool you for a minute as to what is really going on in this man’s mind.

    2. Thanks for posting that article, WX Wall! It sums up what the Christian response should be and the teaching in the churches I have attended. I like this part:

      “This sort of ethnic nationalism and racial superiority ought to matter to every Christian, regardless of national, ethnic or racial background. After all, we are not our own but are part of a church — a church made up of all nations, all ethnicities, united not by blood and soil but by the shed blood and broken body of Jesus Christ.”

  7. I was wondering just how many white supremacists there are in the country. I was listening to NPR this morning, a discussion on that very subject was on and why this “movement” is so influential in the Republican party. I can not prove these numbers, but it was stated that 17% of the voting population identifies on some level as white supremacists, or is sympathetic to the movement. Since maybe 1/2 the eligible voters do not vote, 26% of voters, people who actually vote, are part of this group and 80% of them voted for Trump.
    This was not part of the discussion on NPR, but me saying the Republican Party has pandered to these people what with voter ID laws, claiming so many illegals vote, etc. for a long time.
    All of the above is well known to the GOP. They know full well who their base is, as does Trump. And Trump, who some may think is a bit unhinged, knows well who is in his base, who voted for him. He is the first presidential candidate i can remember after Wallace that openly asked for the white supremacist vote. One would think the other voters, the evangelicals, etc, all these so called “religious”, “I am a Christian” voters, would be ashamed to vote for a Trump type person. But no! that is not the case. I guess, like in my family, full of church goers, who pray all the time, they are Republicans first, and religious second. Or, maybe third!
    This entire mess just simply amazes me, that this could be happening in the USA today!

      1. According to the NPR piece, if their numbers are even close to accurate, 17% is not small. Add to this the fact that Democrats have this tendency to not vote. Or vote for third party candidates just to show how independent they are. (In 2000 over 6000 people in Florida voted for Ralph Nader! We all know how that turned out!)

  8. As is so often the case, tragedies and atrocities like what happened in Charlottesville, Charleston SC, Sandy Hook Elementary, and too many more to name, offer opportunities as well as pain. There are some deeply moving speeches and writings that have risen to the top of our nation’s consciousness. I offer two that mean a great deal to me and undoubtedly, each of you have others to contribute.

    The first is a piece in Politico, “Regime Change in Charlottesville”, by Adam Goodheart. He is the author of “1861: The Civil War Awakening” and director of Washington College’s Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience. The historical perspective he presents and ties to current events is compelling. I will be interested to see what you think of his piece. I do not agree that historical statues should be toppled without going through the legal process – even as I understand that in today’s political environment, that may extend the presence of these monuments far longer than they deserve. I also believe a case can be made for moving these monuments into museums where the fullness of their story can be told – to teach and explain to our children and those whose minds and hearts can still be reached – the hurt and damage people can do to one another and the potential for it to rise up again in contemporary times.

    What was a compelling feature of this article is how the author tied the dedication dates to other critical points in history. Please share it as I think it is important that we not forget why racism is still such a difficult issue today.

    http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/08/16/regime-change-in-charlottesville-215500

    Then there was this 37 minute speech by President Obama on Race, in 2008. We still have so much to learn. It inspires today as much as it did then. Sadly, it is still relevant.

    https://www.google.com/url?

    1. “I also believe a case can be made for moving these monuments into museums where the fullness of their story can be told – to teach and explain to our children and those whose minds and hearts can still be reached – the hurt and damage people can do to one another and the potential for it to rise up again in contemporary times.”

      I concur wholeheartedly. I used to live in Virginia and these statues are everywhere there but I never really paid much attention to them until the debacle on Saturday. Perhaps, for black people, it’s akin to Jews being forced to live with statues of Hitler and his henchmen. The Germans had the sense to dismantle evidence of their shame but kept the concentration camps as museums as a stark reminder of the past and to hopefully teach and prevent their atrocities from happening again. Put the statues in museums for education on our pasts atrocities. These Nazis and skinheads aren’t even really marching because of these statues, they are just wanting a fight and are emboldened by that disgusting piece of shit in the WH to spread their hate. Time to put away the confederate and nazi flags for good. If you consider yourself American, then you should only be flying the American flag.

      1. EJ

        Converting old plantations into museums of slavery might be a good idea. It sounds like a better way of making the moral point than having monuments to thesoldiers who fought to defend that slavery.

  9. Two things – One, how does Godwins law apply now?

    Two, I discovered “Make America Kittens Again”. It’s an extension that substitutes pictures of kittens for trump in the Chrome browser. It doesn’t work 100% but every time I see kittens instead of the repulsive alternative I smile.

  10. Excellent thinking on “What do White Nationalists and the Alt Right want?” See if you agree with the author’s deduction. I see their goals as much more destructive while agreeing that they must feel a very strong need to affirm their identity as white males.

    “What does an angry white boy want? The fact that they get together to play dress-up — to engage in a large and sometimes murderous game of cowboys and Indians — may give us our answer. They want to be someone other than who they are. That’s the great irony of identity politics: They seek identity in the tribe because they are failed individuals. They are a chain composed exclusively of weak links. What they are engaged in isn’t politics, but theater: play-acting in the hopes of achieving catharsis. ”

    Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/450501/white-nationalists-alt-right-vague-grievances-what-do-they-want

    1. Sharing this. A technique being used by resistance groups is to make donations to causes (PP, Moms Against Gun Violence, et) in the name of a MOC who is a major supporter….In Germany, as shared today by Yannick Thiem in a re-post on FB, donations are made to anti-racist organizations when there are marches of right-wing people to commemorate Adolph Hess’ birthday. It’s been a very effective way to assist these anti-racist organizations.

      The same thing happened to benefit the ACLU when it fought Trump’s immigration ban. The ACLU reported it raised $24,164,691 from 356,306 online donations after Trump signed the immigration ban order.

      The power of the “net” (-;


      Marian Domansky Fisher

    2. So, what do we do? Ridicule them for being losers? Or hope they find a support system that will help them increase their sense of self-worth without having to resort to such extremist activities, based on their need to claim superiority just because they’re White?

      1. EJ

        I don’t read the fascist websites, but I’m told that they loved it. They think they look strong, they like that people are talking about them and scared of them, and they think that the President has openly come out as being on their side. They think it’s helped their recruitment. They might not be wrong on that last one either.

        I don’t think you’re being naive; I think the reality of it has come through to them and has been a wakeup call. Unfortunately, from what I’m hearing, I think they’ve woken up in a very different way from how we had hoped.

    3. The National Review article is pretty much spot on. If you scan the faces , you do not see a lot of high end DNA present in the right wing mob. Most look like reproductive mistakes that Darwin’s law would have dealt with summarily in more primitive times.

      That they crawled out of mom’s basement and managed to find their way to the gathering is impressive. The behavior that resulted was unfortunately predictable. As a nameless angry mob,they were powerful for a moment. It is sad that they needed that moment to make up for whatever is lacking within them.

      1. I’ve come to the conclusion that right wing conservatives and Trump voters are at the lower end of the human gene pool. I saw this comment and spewed coffee. These are simplistic, childlike minds with no capability of self-awareness.

        “It really shows how sick and disgusting Democrats are when two radical groups clash and a disturbed rioter dies and when a President acts with nothing but class they use it to inflame racial tensions and twist it to attack the President. Democrats are the lowest forms of trash on the planet.”

        The trolls on Yahoo are the bottom of the barrel. One actually said Trump was the “bestest president”..

      2. There are plenty of simple minds on both ends of the spectrum. Trump openly courted the undereducated vote early on. He resonates with people willing to buy into his simple B/S solutions to complex problems. After a few beers, and several hours of Fox noise they say “why not”?

        This is at the core of the lack any legislative achievement on real issues. Health care, taxes, and infrastructure don’t get done with 140 characters.

      1. A couple comments:

        1. I am very dubious that anything is afoot regarding Trump. The official story is that Pence has been recalled to participate in a major National Security Council meeting regarding Asia at Camp David on Friday. There may be something coming down on North Korea.

        2. Mary, I have to concur with Francis Wilkinson in the Bloomberg article. Though, I do not care for Pence, I feel that he would at least be safe and that the American political system can accommodate him without too much damage. He would be weak and essentially a caretaker president, unless he was reelected in 2020. On the other hand, Trump is seemingly becoming more unhinged by the day. I am getting increasingly concerned regarding Trump’s foreign policy. He could very easily get us into a major war. Also, after his performance at the Trump Tower Press Conference yesterday, I feel that he could very easily unleash the demons of a major domestic conflict particularly in regard to white nationalism. That is the center may not be able to hold under Trump. So all things considered, I would prefer Pence to Trump.

        Additionally, as an aside and despite the rhetoric, I am also concerned regarding the economy. There are a few danger signs out there. Wall Street is running rampant, the stock market may be ready for a major correction and job growth is not as robust as Trump is portraying. This bull market is old.

      2. Believe me, I don’t know. In many ways, I fear the arch-religious positions of Pence as much and his abiility to get more of the hard right, Koch agenda implemented. That would be more dangerous long-term. Then there is Trump who is a disgusting person but I do think there will be eventual back-lash to his agenda.

        As noted, no good options here.

    1. My take from the articles (especially the New Republic one) about police inaction in Charlottesville is that these same groups in the past rallied mostly for show, knowing that the police would keep them apart, and that this time they were surprised to be left to duke it out amongst themselves, with both sides blaming the police for not keeping them from going for each others’ throats, angry that the police had not played their assigned role in the performance, as if both sides were shocked to see that their own words and actions could have serious consequences.

      1. Because in the past the police had always been there to keep the serious consequences from happening.

        As for the inefficiency of the police, it seems the police force in Charlottesville was just too small for such a large crowd. Maybe there should be a limit to the number of participants in a rally in small towns with small police forces. I doubt that would constitute an abridgment of freedom of assembly.

      2. Smaller cities lack experience in dealing with an increasingly more sophisticated, well-armed crowd of mostly young men, but it seems to me that the state could have helped with planning and resources…NC is a difficult situation as it is dominated by the Republican Party in its Legislature even though it has a Democratic mayor (Charlottesville) and Governor (by a whisker). Republicans clearly rule the roost in that state which may have made it more difficult to obtain support to prepare for this event.

      3. As for the New Republic article, I wonder too how much of what journalists write is just pretty words, a harkening back to their college days as literature students, describing the rally as a dramatic performance or spectacle, not because that’s what it really was, but because it’s just a different, interesting take on the situation, just so the author can be praised for his cleverness.

      4. There may be some of that so I’ve made an effort to listen to and read first hand accounts. The VICE podcast produced by HBO was insightful (and alarming). I also listened to a first-hand account today on NPR. As with all news, the more breadth in reading/listening, the more well informed one will be. It just takes time.

      5. I wonder what the average age of the White supremacist rally participant is. If it’s mostly young men it would confirm my suspicion that social media is to blame for the increase in this type of activity, that it’s more about image than about reality, or it’s just like playing a video game, similar to why many young radical Muslims do what they do.

      1. That’s a tough one, Creigh. As despicable and arrogantly irresponsible as Republicans have been, raising the debt ceiling is a legal obligation of Congress. Should there be concessions exacted by Democrats? If they can, on critically important funding issues, yes. But what if they are unsuccessful in a “trade”. Should they withhold their support in the end “because their votes can be used to ‘punish’ Republicans as they did to President Obama led by our very own Senator Ted Cruz? No. This is not a time for pay-back. Too many Americans’ savings would be hurt, our country’s legal obligations diminished, and Democracy, impugned. Let’s get our satisfaction where it counts most – at the polls. That will be much more difficult but it is the fight to have.

      2. Mary, I’m not looking for paybacks, I’m looking for this stupid game to end. Somebody has to do the right thing on the debt ceiling before too long, but there’s no reason for Democrats to play ball before then. Democrats looking to work this for some advantage are just enabling the game to go on. I’d like to see the D’s say “No, we won’t vote to raise the debt ceiling, but we will vote to eliminate it.” No reason to hold ourselves hostage periodically for empty symbolism.

  11. I concur fully that “business always wins”. And I also agree that the positions many corporations are taking are indeed in the right direction.

    And then there’s the “Google Memo”, and the firing of it’s author James Damore. Now, before going any further, and I really do not believe that any of my correspondents commenting here would neglect to read it in it’s entirety before commenting on it, I nevertheless enjoin any who might make such a move to please reconsider.

    Google’s actions on this matter have been utterly reprehensible. The kind of groupthink apparently required for employment there is emblematic of what is rapidly dooming the left in this country *at precisely the time* when we need them the most. The open and free exchange of ideas, (however awkwardly presented), is essential to the evolution of our society. And evolve it must. The absolute vilification of the Damore Memo, indeed to the extent of firing Damore for the audacity of even thinking such things, is flat-assed not acceptable.

    Corporate leadership is a good thing. Corporate intellectual fascism is not.

    1. This isn’t “corporate intellectual fascism”. Employees are supposed to work for their employers. He said more than half his co-workers were incompetent and that his companies HR department was even more so, in a document literally read around the world. He is no longer working for them after mounting that level of assault on their principles, and it’s just recognizing reality for them to fire him.

      1. Really? Kindly quote directly where he said that “more than 50% of his co-workers were incompetent”. Where he said the HR department was worse, (while likely true), is a bonus question. If you didn’t read the memo, please just admit it, and get this over with.

      2. Let’s just put the unfiltered memo out there for those to read – the actual memo (not the edited versions) – then read the best critique I could find after reading several. Even though I disagree with many of Damore’s conclusions, I do not believe that the memo was cause for termination. Angst, irritation, basis for a meeting with HR – sure, but firing? No. In that Fifty and I agree.

        As a woman, (an old one at that) – I have seen women denied career opportunities for reasons that had little to do with their “femaleness” and a whole lot more to do with cultural bias and male dominance. The good news is that women are now able to access career paths that lead to positions that used to be verbotten, and they are good at their jobs. Not being a technophile (if there is such a word), I can only offer an observation: little girls of the 80s and 90s were much more likely given dolls than computers. Now, thankfully, they are given both. As challenging as it is for me to utilize technology, I embrace the worlds it has opened for me. Worlds, I might add, that more women need to be employed in and over time, will be.

        I’m sorry Mr. Damore was fired. I think Google and its workforce would have benefitted by using the “memo” as an opportunity to more closely examine their workplace culture and learn from the experience. The incorrect or overly simplistic elements within the memo would have been deliberated by the employees in a healthy, constructive discussion. That could have made working within the Google family more rewarding, and possibly ushered in new ideas. How is that ever a “bad” thing?

        Damore: https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/3914586-Googles-Ideological-Echo-Chamber.html

        Critique: Wired – https://www.wired.com/story/the-pernicious-science-of-james-damores-google-memo/

      3. Thanks for this, mime. My take on the Wired piece is that it takes the position that the science referred to in the memo is far from settled. This is indeed the case. But it goes on from there to effectively suggest that being the case, questions related to to the topic are too “dangerous” to even discuss.

        You probably know my daughter is an environmental engineer with a PE. You’ll find few advocates of STEM for girls, and for the encouragement of the participation of women in engineering more enthusiastic than I. To get where we need to be will require a social evolution that eliminates cultural bias and developmental and educational neutrality wrt gender. Is it possible that, in the end, some residual employment inequality will remain in the STEM fields? Yes. Is it possible that we will never fully resolve these differences to nature or nurture or cultural bias? Yes. The problem with the Wired piece is that since we can’t disprove any sort of nature component, the premise is therefore false. It’s a bit ironic that the authors accuse Damore of ‘sciencism’ when they seem to misunderstand how science itself works.

      4. I looked at several other critiques and thought the Wired piece was the most original in its thinking. This is a complex subject, as you note, therefore any serious discussion of cultural and gender bias will necessarily reflect a range of views. Kudos to your daughter and to you and Mrs. Ohlm for your encouragement of her career path. If America encourages more bright young American students of all genders and races to pursue STEM career paths , (actually I’m more supportive of STEAM (-; ) the only relevant issue would be supply.

    2. EJ

      I read the memo.

      There’s a certain type of “just asking questions / throwing the idea out there” tone which a lot of alt-Right people adopt in the hope that it will disguise their intentions, and they always seem puzzled when it doesn’t.

      There’s also an extent to which using the term “fascism” to describe a militant pro-diversity stance, less than a week after the Charlotteville riot, is probably not acceptable. The fascists aren’t the ones firing people for saying racist and sexist things, they’re the ones saying them.

      1. EJ – Firstly, suggesting anything, anything in that memo is alt-right is just crazy. Did you just do that?

        And fascism comes in many flavors. Politically, it entails authoritarian rule, forcible suppression of the opposition, extreme nationalism, often racism, and government control of commerce.

        Corporate or intellectual fascism is a mindset that brooks no opposition, is intolerant of even slightly divergent opinions, and enforces compliance through any and all means at its disposal. Participation in any constructive dialog regarding it’s dogma is obviously verboten.

        If you have a better word for this type of intellectual authoritarianism, I’m all ears. My comment was made without Charlottesville even in my mind. But now that you mention it, I am making a plea for to rage against all forms of “militant” authoritarianism. The alt-right is beyond hope. The left and the rest of us have to deal with social evolution in a sane and rational fashion. If all the left offers in response is dogma, we’re going to see more of this. Google is perhaps the most powerful force on earth for controlling and disseminating information. This is important.

      2. Hello Fifty

        No, the document was not alt-right but that does not mean James Damore did not write his document without any biases. He delved into stereotypes about women that made it impossible to allow him to continue working at Google. Like many jobs Google uses a peer review system and this memo would have left the door wide open for females reviewed by him to cry out that he was acting in a biased manner. This could have been a potentially sticky legal matter for Google by retaining him.

        We want an open environment so people can speak freely but there is a time and place for such comments.

      3. Well hello to you, Turtles! Long time – I hope you’re well!

        Of course Damore is biased. So are you. So am I. *Everyone is*. To deny that is to live in a fantasy land, and that’s exactly the point. In fact, Google itself is plenty biased.

        “Bias” is a false notion of reality. To discuss the nature of reality is the first step towards eliminating bias. “Stereotype” is a word that implies bias. The simple fact is that we do not know the extent to which gender influences behavior in the workplace. I think we can be pretty certain that whatever impact it does have lies somewhere between nothing and everything. And yes, it is a very important question to ask for the following reasons.

        We know, for example, that blatant gender bias has affected many, many women in the past. We also know that we are making progress. How can we gauge our progress if we remain ignorant of any potential endpoint?

        Is a goal of a perfect 50% gender ratio a reasonable one for all professions? Would such a goal serve our interests if currently unquantified preferences are simply ignored? Pretending something doesn’t exist, even if you haven’t looked for it, or refuse to believe it simply on principle, is like the kid on the playground with his fingers in his ears hollering, “Nah, nah, nah, I can’t hear you!”

        The idea that Google would have had any sort of legal liability employing him after that memo is just silly.

  12. I concur fully that “business always wins”. And I also agree that the positions many corporations are taking are indeed in the right direction.

    And then there’s the “Google Memo”, and the firing of it’s author James Damore. Now, before going any further, and I really do not believe that any of my correspondents commenting here would neglect to read it in it’s entirety before commenting on it, I nevertheless enjoin any who might make such a move to please reconsider.

      1. Sadly, that is true. It seems as if best scenario for Trump’s departure is one of the following:
        1. Trump has a massive stroke or coronary.
        2. After Mueller’s investigation matures and the indictments start falling, the Trump 757 makes an unscheduled departure from a Washington airport some night, as you outlined earlier.
        3. A Democratic congress is swept into power in 2018 and takes appropriate action. Still the 2/3 majority to remove him from office, will be essentially impossible to achieve, either by the 25th Amendment or impeachment.
        4. He fails to win reelection in November 2020.

        The other possibilities are too terrible to contemplate.

  13. Do not forget, that the Justice Department filed suit against the Trump organization regarding discrimination in their rental units in New York City.
    The Trump organization eventually settled that litigation with a substantial payment. I can not recall how the judgement eventually played out – it was probably no admission of guilt, as these things normally are settled.

    Also, there were fairly strong reports that Trump’s father was involved with the KKK.

    I suspect that while Trump might not actually be a racist he has a fairly strong bias.

      1. Thanks for digging the article out and posting it. I just remembered the report from the campaign and that it had credibility. Reading the article in detail, I strongly feel that Fred Trump’s involvement was more than casual, although I cannot prove that.

        Even considering the social customs of the time his involvement does suggest a strong bias, if not racism. Trump was heavily influenced by his father and the history of the Trump organization indicates that the bias is still there. Certainly his campaign and presidency shows that.

  14. I see all your points and raise you one: N. Korea. It’s being overshadowed right now, but IMHO, it’s (the issue, not the country) a far bigger threat to our democracy than anything else.

    You asked a very chilling question in your last post: what if Trump issues the order to bomb NK, and the generals oppose it? Even worse, if only a few generals opposed it? Civilian control of the military is generally the only thing that stands in the way of a military coup. When generals start disobeying civilian orders, at best you get a peaceful change of govt (usually one run by the military). At worst, you get civil war.

    I’m genuinely torn about what I’d prefer. Note, I’m not blaming the generals for this one. In lots of other countries, it’s the generals who are corrupt war-mongers ousting civilian leaders who don’t go along with their bloodlust and fantasies of glorious conquest. In this case, it’s the reverse.

    Obviously, any sort of unprovoked attack on NK will be at best a disaster, at worst a civilization-threatening event. But we’ve never had a situation where the military refused a President’s order. Not even the Civil war (civilian leaders made the decision to secede; the military on both sides followed them regardless of their private thoughts). Judging by how such a rebellion has played out in countless countries over hundreds of years, it will not be a pretty sight…

    Here’s my most realistic scenario: as the domestic heat gets turned up, Trump will want to bomb NK. The military brass, unable to change his mind, at least convince him to limit it to a surgical strike against a few targets. China has said they will not join NK if NK attacks first, but will help defend NK if they’re attacked first. Despite that, China will drag its feet in helping NK, hoping to defuse the situation. NK bombs Seoul, leaving hundreds of thousands dead, prompting a response from SK and full escalation into a broad conventional war with China and the US fully participating.

    This is where things get dicey. I don’t know if Trump is crazy enough to launch nuclear weapons, but the funny part about escalation is that it generates its own momentum and chaos. What if SK, either by accident or design, attacks Chinese military facilities on the border? What if China’s other enemies e.g. Vietnam, Philippines, Japan, already upset about China’s aggressions in the South China Sea, use this time to occupy some of the disputed islands? What if Taiwan declares a more formal independence? Any one of these could be seen as an existentialist threat by a nationalist and expansionist China, who would be forced to escalate.

    Even seasoned politicians like LBJ and Nixon couldn’t fight the momentum of escalation in Vietnam, even when they knew it was a lost battle. Ironically, it was a neophyte JFK who stopped the Cuban Missile Crisis from its expected outcome. Can Trump fight escalation when it starts? Is he more likely to throw gasoline on the fire, as he’s done so far? And at which point will the generals decide enough is enough and carry out a coup, either overtly or in secret, against the Mad King?

    1. P.S. Forgot to add. While we’re focused on our own daily crises, China, India, and Butan are engaged in a tense standoff in the Himalayas for the past 2 months. Neither is backing down. This standoff is actually more likely to lead to war than US/NK is right now. And Pakistan, another nuclear state, has already declared that they would help defend China if it’s attack (which means PK would use the chance to invade India and take back disputed territory). IOW, Asia already has a tense standoff between 2 (actually 3) nuclear powers with 2.5 billion people among them.

      It is not inconceivable that events in NK, especially if it ends up involving China, could throw a wrench in the Doklam standoff, which would essentially mean an Asian WWIII. I’m sure the Pentagon understands this. I doubt Trump does.

      1. That would be the most fitting end, both because it is lawful and because the GOP owns this disaster of a Presidency. Their hands are the ones that should get dirty. But they haven’t reached that political tipping point yet.

  15. Trump may and probably will go down as the worst president ever! At the least an unsuccessful president. But he will fill the courts with life time appointments of the most right leaning people. And that includes the Supremes. Imagine a few more Clarence Thomas’s on the SC!

    Hobby Lobby will look left wing in comparision!

  16. A post by Chris from the previous thread:

    It’s bigger than your job. Imagine being 24 and single, and this white nationalist crap is on your facebook timeline. Or it shows up in an image on someone else’s FB profile calling you out. How are you going to get a date? Seriously?

    We are moving into a world in which the the encapsulations we used to engage in are breaking down. By that I mean all those little compartments of our lives, where we held our inconsistencies. This is weird stuff.

    1. Welcome to the world of social media. If you put your beliefs out there, then you are inviting your “friends” to judge you.

      I think there should still be a place in our lives for privacy, even secrecy, even from our most intimate family and friends. I see nothing wrong with “encapsulation” and “compartmentalization.” Not even the people closest to me know me completely and would be surprised to know of some of my “inconsistencies.”

      What next? Should I allow my loved ones to read my journals and diaries and personal correspondence?

      1. One thing I should point out is that what people put on social media is what they choose to reveal. The difference now is that saying something stupid has a much longer shelf life.

        Everyone should have a private space, even if it’s just a corner of their mind. I would never read someone’s journals or other private writings without invitation. But the internet is as public as it gets. I think many people forget about that. My rule of outline posting is to avoid writing something that you would not say out loud. Granted that’s only of use if you are trying to avoid being a jerk.

    1. The counter-argument to those who favor keeping monuments in our parks and cities often invokes “historical value”, frequently citing the example of the Holocaust sites. Here’s my objection to this example. These somber places are set up as places of learning. There is no question about their purpose nor the lessons they want to convey, nor what really happened in these camps. Everyone who walks these grounds understands that. In the case of Confederate monuments, the message is more complicated. The millions of Americans who bore the brunt of slavery which resulted in these bronze monuments undeniably see them as symbols of past pain and present inequality. If we as a nation could get the underlying social issues right today, these Confederate monuments wouldn’t be so significant. Instead, we don’t seem to have learned the important lessons about equality and sacrifice and leadership from our history – the ones about building up not tearing down, that improve the lives of our people, not make them harder. That bring people together, not tear them apart.

      These relics of past domination so proudly displayed in town squares evoke different responses. Undoubtedly, there are many people who wish they still lived in those times, who see these monuments as symbols of a better time for them without any consideration for those who paid the ultimate price through bondage.

      These people are a danger to democracy because they tolerate no other power than their own, and they have been aided and abetted by the Republican Party for years. It is only right that the GOP should get to solve the problem of their own making. Good luck.

      1. If the monuments were put into context and told the larger story, there might be a place for some of them. But there are few that could be used in such a setting.

        To me, it is interesting that few monuments are typically found in the dynamic, forward looking metros. Those few are normally dedicated to a local leader, who was significant to that specific area. In Seattle, we have a monument to Chief Seattle and monuments to the founders of the city. The major exception is a monument to George Washington on the University of Washington campus.

      2. Here’s a Confederate monument I could support: erect a statue a poor barefoot White draftee with the inscription “In honor of all those poor SOBs forced to fight and die for the cause of a few rich guys who wanted to keep owning slaves. They fought bravely for this bad cause. May God have mercy on their poor exploited souls.”

      3. Since I wrote the above, I have become aware that there is a monument for confederate soldiers in a local cemetery. It includes Lee on his horse. This cemetery also happens to be adjacent to a small Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) Cemetery for union soldiers, which is maintained by Seattle parks. Both of these are low profile and were originally privately funded. There are no major confederate monuments in heavily travelled public areas.

  17. Chris, do you actually believe that the House and Senate will impeach him in the fall session? Really?

    I just don’t see the numbers, especially in the House.

    Now, could some group of businesses, or NATO itself, decide he is too dangerous to continue, and assassinate him? I would think that is more possible than impeachment, and assassination is extremely remote.

    Now, if and when the federal gov’t openly uses its law enforcement arms and military against the groups fighting the terrorists, then all bets are off.
    CNN is posting now that the DOJ is going after an internet provider to get info on anti-trump protestors. If that escalates and becomes more widespread, then you have another chunk in the foundation of a revolution.

      1. I am not judging the good or bad of an assassination. That kind of discussion gets you a visit from any number of nice men. I am commenting on the unlikeliness of impeachment, which is even more remote than the puppet tyrant getting killed.

  18. Chris,
    I have been watching you closely reflect my own feelings about our political status. Today’s post sums it up perfectly. It will take business to stop funding this nonsense. And, to get business to act, citizens need to vote with their pocketbooks. Not the original intent of our founding fathers, but it seems to be what we are stuck with today.
    Question is, do we have time? I agree that the longer this goes on, the more damage will be done, the more unpredictable life becomes, the harder it will be to return to what used to be called normalcy. So, yes, we are running out of time. Quickly.

    1. Unfortunately, I think Chris was overestimating the situation. We’re not running out of time, we’re already out of it. We likely were on Nov 8th, ’16.

      It would’ve been one thing if Clinton had won and Trump were spouting his crap on Trump TV, but there was no escaping the inevitable after he’d won. Barring an absolutely extraordinary circumstance, there is no viable mechanism for us to remove him from office. Even if Democrats, by some chance, retook both Houses of Congress next year and impeached him in the House, we’d never get the votes we need to convict him in the Senate.

      Best to bunker down and prepare for 3 1/2 more years of this clown, and all the damage that that will entail. More people are going to die and many, many more are going to be hurt. America has entered one of the darkest eras in its history and it’s going to be a long while before it emerges.

      1. Unfortunately, you’re probably right. Based on the results from the election, it might safe to say that our window of opportunity to form a response to the far right may have slid closed sometime during the Obama years. I’d very much like to believe that we can still find a peaceful, orderly path back to something like a normal government, but that seems very unlikely now.

      2. I basically concur with both Ryan and Chris. See my post below. However, I do think that after this crisis matures, action will be taken. That is the normal pattern of the US. At that time some modifications to our electoral system will be made to prevent this from recurring. The far right will essentially be completely nullified, but they won’t completely disappear. In essence we will muddle through. But that is the way of democracy.

        Churchill’s words regarding American’s eventually doing the right thing are becoming more and more relevant.

      3. Somehow my earlier post got lost in the ether. But basically I stated that I do not see much likelihood of Congress taking action in the near term. Very few GOP Representatives or Senators are willing to stand up to Trump. Both Ryan and McConnell are among those. The three major exceptions at present are McCain, Collins and Murkowski.

        I did notice an interesting piece in USA Today today, 20170815. According to their data 83% of Republicans support Trump, with 59% strongly supporting him. The interesting part was that the strongly supporting group had declined from 76%.

        My thoughts are that this crisis will mature sometime in 2018 as the Russian investigation matures and the electoral math becomes very clear to the GOP.

  19. As I noted on the previous thread, I’m opposed to doxxing and outing. Mime speaks often of “consequences.” Consequences of what? Of believing or marching for something YOU happen to disagree with, or mainstream society happens to disagree with? I can understand consequences on a personal level. If you have abhorrent beliefs, you risk losing your spouse, getting disowned by your parents, or losing the love of your kids. But to take it upon oneself to punish total strangers for believing or marching for something we happen to disagree with doesn’t sit well with me.

    1. It’s unfortunate that we’ve regressed backwards in time and this is even occurring. These roaches were courted and emboldened by the POS that was elected president and the white nationalists he has on his staff and it was obvious from his campaign rhetoric who his base was. Normally, I’m against outing people too but this may be the only way to make them crawl back into their holes. These people are traitors to the Constitution they blather about.

      We do not need these types in power and the sooner Trump is gone, the better. I can only hope he keels over soon. He sure does not look healthy lately.

    2. >] If you have abhorrent beliefs, you risk losing your spouse, getting disowned by your parents, or losing the love of your kids. But to take it upon oneself to punish total strangers for believing or marching for something we happen to disagree with doesn’t sit well with me.

      Tutta, there’s nothing wrong with that and, broadly speaking, you’re absolutely right, but there are exceptions to every rule. When the person in question is a goddamn Nazi, that is the exception here.

      We do not allow Nazis in open society, not under any circumstances, no matter who they are. As soon as we find out, we do take it upon ourselves to ostracize them and brand them with our own modern-day scarlet letter that will follow them for the rest of their lives. No mercy, no exceptions. Period. End of discussion, thanks for playing.

      1. Tutta, what does that say about society at large if we open ourselves up to Jew-hating, white supremacist neo-Nazis? There are few issues that would have me seriously consider leaving a country that I’ve called my home for all my life, but that’s one of them.

        Furthermore, this is not some ambiguous issue that opens ourselves up to “more exceptions”, as you say. You’re either a Nazi or you’re with the rest of us. Ever since Nazism emerged in our history, we’ve done a pretty good job of making the distinction between what constitutes one and what doesn’t. It’s not complicated.

        That said, if you still want to argue to the contrary, then show me an example in modern history where this is the case. This is not some new phenomenon that just started a few days ago (although the effectiveness is obviously different with social media). If we’re at risk of this happening, then show me how it’s happened before.

      2. Ryan, I’m not saying that as a society we should “accept” Nazi sympathizers, only that we should “tolerate” their existence, just we as we should tolerate the existence of people like White supremacists and radical Muslims — tolerate their freedom to express their views, their freedom to protest and march. Once they cross the line into violence, that’s where the tolerance should stop.

        On a personal level . . . Of course no one should be forced to consort with Nazi sympathizers, or to consort with anyone against their will, but I don’t think it’s right to take it upon ourselves to dispense punishment by causing Nazi sympathizers to lose their jobs or be expelled from school. To do so is to cross the line into what is none of our business.

        As for modern examples of “exceptions” leading to more “exceptions,” I was just trying to make the point that if you make an exception for Nazis, as in “it’s not ok to make social pariahs of people with whom you disagree, EXCEPT if they’re Nazis,” then I could just as easily say it’s not ok to make social pariahs of people with whom you disagree, EXCEPT if they’re radical Muslims. If you have an exception, then so can I.

      3. We do not allow Nazis in open society

        That’s not true. The organizers of the Charlottesville rally got permission for their rally. When initially denied by the city, they went to court and won it. I believe the ACLU supported their petition.

        I agree with tuttabella that having corporations punish you for your political expression is dangerous. I distinguish between corporations and people for the same reason many of us are against Citizens United. Corporations are not people. That means I have no problem if you, personally, upon learning that someone is a neo-Nazi, stop talking to him, or even ridicule him to his face, or protest in front of his house, not invite him to your parties, not donate money if he needs medical care, etc. I take the attitude famously espoused by James Carville “I wouldn’t piss down his throat if his heart was on fire” (he was talking about Republicans, but I’ll limit it to Nazis 🙂

        But corporations should not have the same right. If someone is doing their job appropriately (including not discriminating against customers & co-workers, not creating a hostile work environment by mentioning his beliefs around the water cooler, not using company resources to plan his next rally, etc.), as a person you may hate him, but as a boss, you shouldn’t be allowed to fire him.

        I’m with you in that I generally don’t agree with arguments about hypothetical slippery slopes. But here, it’s not hypothetical. People *already* get fired or not hired for lots of legal reasons that are questionable. Corporations already scour your facebook feed and if you’re seen doing beer bongs with your buddies last weekend, or dancing on a table in a “slutty” dress in Vegas, you will be at a distinct disadvantage when you apply for a job in a “respectable” place. Try applying to a law office with a full sleeve tattoo on your arm. Even if your job won’t be customer-facing, you’ll have a hard time getting hired.

        The fact is, corporate policing of our private lives has already gone too far. How many people have had the uncomfortable experience of their boss sending them a friend request on facebook? And feeling powerless to decline? Allowing them the justification that it allows them to punish Nazis just sugercoats why they *really* want that power.

      4. Tutta, you’re comparing apples and oranges and arguing as if they’re both apples. They’re not. Radicalized extremists (whether they’re ISIL, Al Qaeda, or whatever else) are a fringe within a fringe in the United States, which is exactly why outside influences dare not openly court potential converts. They do it in the shadows and behind the scenes because they have no choice. Their lack of power is evident, which is precisely why they resort to cowardly acts of terrorism.

        Nazis and the white supremacist rhetoric they spew are on an entirely different scale. These people openly marched into a US city, killed a person, maimed tens of others and all on the strength of belief that they have a friend in the White House who validates them, and they’re not wrong.

        So, and with all respect, you can talk about tolerance until you’re blue in the face, but we have seen where this road goes before, and I’m not willing to let these assholes get anymore of a foothold in my country just so we have the security of moral superiority. The potential consequences are too damn high.

        Unintended consequences may yet come, I fully concede that, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. We’ve a fight in front of us right now, at this moment, and necessity calls. With calm minds and resolute hearts, we must move forward in pushing back against this evil that would seek to tear this country asunder. That is their goal, and they must be stopped.

      5. @WX Wall:

        But corporations should not have the same right. If someone is doing their job appropriately (including not discriminating against customers & co-workers, not creating a hostile work environment by mentioning his beliefs around the water cooler, not using company resources to plan his next rally, etc.), as a person you may hate him, but as a boss, you shouldn’t be allowed to fire him.

        Question. You’re an openly white supremacist neo-Nazi and you’ve just declared yourself so by marching in a rally that ended up killing a person, maiming several others, and declaring to minority groups that you’re superior to them.

        Other minorities apply of course, but how in the world does an African-American go to a business in which that person works and feel that they’re welcome and will be treated equally? You’re essentially asking them to roll a crapshoot and hope for the best each and every time they try, and that’s no way to run a business.

        That in turn creates a negative environment for anyone else who works there, and undeservedly so. Actions have consequences, and just because said actions may not have occurred at the business itself is no excuse for a lack of accountability.

        I’m with you in that I generally don’t agree with arguments about hypothetical slippery slopes. But here, it’s not hypothetical. People *already* get fired or not hired for lots of legal reasons that are questionable. Corporations already scour your facebook feed and if you’re seen doing beer bongs with your buddies last weekend, or dancing on a table in a “slutty” dress in Vegas, you will be at a distinct disadvantage when you apply for a job in a “respectable” place. Try applying to a law office with a full sleeve tattoo on your arm. Even if your job won’t be customer-facing, you’ll have a hard time getting hired.

        I’m in general agreement with you here. There should be sensible, reasonable limits as to how far a business or corporation should be able to intrude into a person’s private life, especially if their job is on the line. If a woman got drunk and did some slutty dancing on a table in Vegas and got fired for it, at the very least she should have a clear avenue for dragging her company to court and making them answer as to how, exactly, that impacted her ability to do her job or negatively influenced her coworkers. If such reasons were unfounded, she she get her job back. Period, full stop.

        That said, openly participating in a neo-Nazi rally is entirely different. These are people with the stated goal of creating a country that benefits white people at the expense of all others, regardless as to the consequences. Vile hatred and violence are their creed, and the rally in Charlottesville proves that. And while that’s not to say that you can’t openly profess those beliefs, whether or not a private business should be forced to tolerate them is another matter entirely. I don’t believe it should.

        The fact is, corporate policing of our private lives has already gone too far. How many people have had the uncomfortable experience of their boss sending them a friend request on facebook? And feeling powerless to decline? Allowing them the justification that it allows them to punish Nazis just sugercoats why they *really* want that power.

        If so, then they should be stopped, absolutely. If that means passing a new federal law to do so, then I’m 100% for it. That said, that’s not an excuse for putting a steel-toed boot down on the threat of neo-Nazis and their abhorrent beliefs wherever they come up.

      6. “These people openly marched into a US city, killed a person, maimed tens of others.”
        ******************
        “These people” did openly march into a US city, but it was only one of them who killed a person and maimed tens of others. That one person crossed the line from free speech into violence, and he is in jail now, as he should be.

        It’s not about having moral superiority, it’s about everyone having the right to freely express their beliefs. If I want to protect my freedom of expression and yours, too, I must recognize (grudgingly) the KKK’s right to freedom of expression as well, even if it pains me.

      7. It’s not about having moral superiority, it’s about everyone having the right to freely express their beliefs. If I want to protect my freedom of expression and yours, too, I must recognize (grudgingly) the KKK’s right to freedom of expression as well, even if it pains me.

        Freedom of expression does not equate to freedom from responsibility. There is no endorsement of neo-Nazism or white supremacy that is not explicitly linked with violence. That is what these people have done from their earliest days, and that is not going to change.

        You cannot cherry pick the noble right of one’s freedom to express one’s self and ignore everything else that comes with it. The world doesn’t work like that nor should it.

      8. Ryan-

        If a person’s actions or statements creates a hostile work environment, or to people genuinely fearing for their safety, then yes, they should be reprimanded, instructed to change, or fired. But that’s not why companies are firing these people. In their own words, they’re firing them because such beliefs don’t comport with their own corporate values.

        Proving a hostile work environment is difficult, probably more difficult than it should be (just ask anyone who’s been sexually harassed at work). So I’m open to a discussion about whether the knowledge that the guy sitting in the cubicle next you is a Nazi, even if he never says anything or maybe even gives you a friendly smile in the hallways, is enough to create a hostile work environment. You might be right that it does. But again, that’s not why these companies are firing them, probably because they know they’d get sued if they did, and be forced to prove it (which they might be able to do), whereas invoking the at-will clause and just getting rid of them is much easier.

    3. If it makes you feel better, I think your discomfort makes sense. That said, I doubt people will generally be able to spare the energy and attention span to extend this kind of scrutiny beyond the most outrageous behavior.

      The more interesting concern is harassment by fringe groups, rather than mass blacklisting behavior by majorities. I can imagine situations where a vegan group or animal rights activists get really riled up about a particular perceived offense by a restaurant or chef. Maybe they generate a lot of online harassment. But even then I can’t see it lasting long.

      The worst may come when abortion opponents start using this on women seeking to end their pregnancies. Even then, though, it’s likely to rebound on them so badly that they won’t be able to keep it up.

      Potential certainly exists for this kind of thing to get out of hand, but for the most part it seems to me like a step toward more democracy, better managed.

      1. Chris, I notice you keep looking for replacements or substitutes for government — for other organizations to improve our circumstances, to make our lives better, to dispense justice — if not government, then churches, or civic organizations, or social media groups, or corporations. You look to large entities, along with their leaders (politicians, lawmakers, pastors, CEOs), to improve our lives. Why not look inward, at ourselves, as individuals, to bring about the change we want?

      2. That’s not how the world works. We are social creatures. When isolated, we become weak and manipulable.

        I’m looking for alternatives to government because government is collapsing all around us. It just doesn’t work the way it used to. I don’t think there is much we can do to save it. We seem to be experiencing an evolutionary shift, a change in our environment which is changing the spectrum of what works and what doesn’t. This happens. We survive by adapting to changes in our environment.

        We invented government as we know it, starting about 150 years ago, to solve a set of problems our ancestors were experiencing. Those problems have been solved. Now we get new ones. Some elements of the old toolbox may work for us. Some won’t. We have to figure it out.

      3. Chris, I see it differently. As individuals, apart from the crowd, as outsiders looking in, we can remain objective and strong of will. When we become part of a group, that’s when we become weak and easily manipulated — we lose our freedom to express our true selves, we get carried away by groupthink, worried about having the approval of others, compromising our beliefs, sometimes even crossing over into a lynch mob mentality (and behavior).

      4. The first thing a dictator does is remove all of the groups and institutions that stand between him and the individuals. Individually, without the capacity to form institutions and units, we are lost sheep.

      5. “Why not look inward, at ourselves, as individuals, to bring about the change we want?”

        Absolutely, however organization is power — in war, in politics, in business. That, as Chris says, is how the world works. But alternatives to government?? I get a kick out of people who proudly say “We hate government. We’re just going to get together and do it for ourselves.” What do they think government is, if not people getting together and doing it for themselves?

    4. Consequences for one’s choices – being there – for a start. What was the “intent”of those who came in riot gear (helmets, goggles, guns, shields, fire torches)? What was the intent of those who came with signs? Were there anti-protesters who threw the first punch? Maybe – not having been there, I can’t say. They were not the ones who were shouting: “death to the Jews” , using use Natzi symbols and gestures, and following leaders who clearly, unequivocably were looking for a fight and did so,

      As for the statement that those hurt and killed was through the action of only person driving one car – the driver was “one of them”. I find that statement an abhorrent stretch of a point that he was a “lone wolf” and the rest were simply expressing their views. That man, was the culmination of the formented vitriol and anger shared by all those men and women – who came from many states prepared to inflict pain and violence. If there is any doubt in one’s mind about the intent of those involved in militancy, watch the HBO link “VICE” KayKay posted via Mother Jones. It is the unvarnished real story of what the leadership on the alt-right was prepared to accomplish. Then tell me that one man in one car was an aberrant event.

      So, yes, consequences. Consequences for expressing one’s beliefs – or hunkering down – consequences for being in the path of a charging vehicle driven by a mad man – or on the sidelines, or at home watching the melee unfold. Each of us has to choose our own path of expression, but there are always consequences – from inaction (think: Hitler and the GOP) and from our actions. I speak only for myself – often too much – but it is important to me to try to make a difference in a way that I can be most effective. I choose speaking out, writing, sharing, and, yes, protesting when I feel so moved. It is not a course for everyone but I am not everyone. I am me. You are you. And it is not my place to tell anyone else what to do but when compelled, to share with them what I think and why. And, there are consequences from doing so – lost friends, new friends, and hopefully, a few accomplishments along the way. They are all mine and I’m good with that path in life and all its consequences. I try never to deliberately hurt other people but I don’t mind offending those who deserve it. That is the consequence for being bigoted, racist, unkind, and unfair. And, I accept the consequence of my actions and words.

      1. Ok. I thought you meant consequences specifically in terms of karma, or retribution, or punishment.

        You mean consequences in general, that everything we do, or don’t do, has a consequence, that our actions or inactions don’t happen in a vacuum — that if we do A, we should not be surprised or shocked if B happens.

        I have sometimes said that words have power, that they are not to be thrown out indiscriminately, that the excuse “I was just saying” doesn’t really absolve us of the hurt and pain our words might cause, and that the concept of free speech is not something to hide behind, to use as a crutch. Free speech comes with responsibility.

  20. Great read. The bad news I woke up seeing this headline.

    “Top US general says it’s Trump’s decision whether to strike N. Korea”

    Yes, by all means, leave it to an infantile bully who once asked why we couldn’t drop a nuke if we have them.

Leave a Reply