Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks to supporters through a bullhorn during a campaign stop at the Canfield County Fair in Canfield, Ohio, U.S., September 5, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar TPX
Even someone who doesn’t follow politics can see in Donald Trump a truly unusual president. Liberals are often astounded that conservatives don’t recognize Trump’s pathological lying and disregard for constitutional democracy as existential threats to civilization. But Republicans’ worldview has been shaped by relentless, far-right, corporate propaganda. In such a paranoid and disturbed bubble, Trump may be a bit unorthodox, but desperate times called him to office.
In many ways, the reality of Trump matches the caricature of President Obama in the conservative imagination. Conservative commentators hardly ever mentioned the former president without first rattling off a list of pejoratives. Consumers of conservative media spent years hearing Obama referred to as an arrogant, ego-driven, race-baiting, divisive, wannabe dictator. When someone like Trump came along who actually was all those things, and openly so, Republicans normalized him with relative ease. Continue reading
President Obama convened his controversial beer summit in 2009, after the arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates.
During Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, pundits spent a great deal of time on the question, “Is America ready for a black president?” The question seemed both deeply racist – as though black people had to wait for white America to be ready for them – and insulting to all Americans’ intelligence. But after two terms of President Obama and the rise of Donald Trump, the answer in hindsight seems to have been a decisive “No.” Continue reading
Justice Antonin Scalia served on the Supreme Court for nearly 30 years. He was appointed by Ronald Reagan in 1986.
The death of Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia on the morning of February 13 triggered an immediate political firestorm. Party-line politics, debates on the man’s legacy, and conspiracy theories have been swirling in the media in the days since. No doubt his death is of great consequence, but the reactions reveal a great deal about the brokenness of our political-media establishment. Continue reading
San Bernardino shooting suspects, Tashfeen Malik and Syed Farook.
Right-wing extremism received heavy scrutiny for a few days following the Planned Parenthood attacks. Commentators and left-wing politicians criticized the venomous rhetoric the right uses to denounce its opponents, one of which – the red herring cry of “baby parts” – was used by the Planned Parenthood shooter himself. Since the San Bernardino shooting, committed by Muslims a few days later, white terror has largely fallen off the radar. It shouldn’t.
What hasn’t fallen off the radar is the gun debate. It’s being waged as aggressively now as it’s been in years, with President Obama calling for restricted access to assault weapons and other mild reforms. Conservatives, as expected, reacted with total apoplexy. There has been a strange development, though, as the gun debate has become part of the discussion on Islamic terror. Continue reading
An all too familiar American scene: victims of a mass shooting taken to a hospital in Roseburg, OR.
Another mass shooting, this time at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, has brought gun violence to the front page. At least ten people were killed, including the gunman, and another seven were injured. President Obama responded to the carnage forcefully, preempting the standard gun lobby responses that the answer is more guns and that it’s inappropriate to score political points off of tragedy.
The first claim, that more guns are the solution, is pretty thoroughly debunked so it hardly needs addressing here. The second claim, that it’s cheap to score political points off of tragedy, is truly a refuge of the scoundrel. Continue reading
This famous photograph shows senior officials waiting for an update on the bin Laden raid, an event Hersh alleges was all but scripted.
Four years ago, President Obama announced that U.S. forces pulled off a targeted killing of the new millennium’s most wanted man, Osama bin Laden. Media and celebrities poured praise on Obama and expressed closure on behalf of the entire nation at the death of a man believed to be responsible for killing 3,000 Americans.
Now, Seymour Hersh, a veteran investigative journalist whose previous exposés uncovered military atrocities at My Lai and Abu Ghraib, has challenged the official account. Continue reading
Leaders discuss Iran’s nuclear future.
Last week, the United States – along with five other powerful nations – reached an agreement with Iran on its nuclear program. In exchange for the lifting of some sanctions, Iran will diminish its nuclear ambitions and agree to international inspections, marking a mild diplomatic milestone. Naturally, for conservatives, this makes it an apocalyptic disaster. Continue reading
In 2014, the “Respect the Bump” campaign sought to force Walmart to end its discrimination of pregnant women.
At a time when so many Americans are struggling just to earn a decent living and find adequate employment, it may seem counterintuitive to indict the work people are doing as one of the biggest problems facing the country. But when you take a look at what our work is turning us into and what it’s actually accomplishing, it becomes clear that our priorities are all out of whack. Continue reading
Say what you will about America, there’s one thing that’s undeniably true: people don’t like you to say what you will about America. Despite being the most powerful economic and military force on the globe for the last 100 years, our culture is quick to take offense at even the mildest of criticisms. Self-reflection has never been our greatest strength, making a list like this controversial.
Nonetheless, we face several crises together. Most commentators don’t consider 2014 to have been a “good news” year. Whether we realize it or want to admit it, this country’s business and political classes have committed inhuman crimes in our name, and they will continue to do so for as long as we let them. If, instead, Americans pledged to confront these issues openly and honestly, we could pave the way to a much brighter future. These are the issues activists, organizers, and opinion leaders should be hammering home in 2015. Continue reading
You could be forgiven for mistaking the spectacle surrounding Seth Rogen and James Franco’s “The Interview,” a film about an American talk show host who is recruited by the CIA to assassinate North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, as a convoluted marketing ploy. The real-world story is almost surely a thousand times more interesting than the movie itself, with alleged North Korean cyberterrorists hacking Sony and threatening movie theaters, Sony canceling the film’s Christmas release and President Obama promising to “respond proportionately,” presumably by disrupting some future North Korean film he doesn’t like.
“Supreme Leader” Kim Jong-un, center, is the Justin Bieber of North Korea. Photo by Reuters.
There’s a great deal of doubt over whether North Korea is actually behind the hacks, and even greater doubt they could actually make good on any threats. Still, I disagree with Sony’s critics. As difficult as it is for me to say, Sony did the right thing by pulling the movie. Continue reading