Elated by the sight of students seated in a classroom for the first time since March 2020, I threw myself on the filthy, COVID-saturated carpet to demonstrate how Gregg Toland used low angle shots on Orson Welles in Citizen Kane. Continue reading
To belong to a minority that the United States may designate a protected class means swatting aside binaries like entropy/negentropy, positive/negative. Continue reading
Seven months after elections whose mail-in and in-person components worked with a precision expected of the *World’s Greatest Representative Democracy, the supplicants and toadies clambering at the feet of the former president work like Santa’s elves in state legislatures to ensure that the Democratic Party’s victories in 2020 are short-lived. Corey Robin defines conservative tradition as a “meditation” on the “felt experience of having power, seeing it threatened, and trying to win it back.” Conservatives have long been not-so-secret fascists and opposed to democracy — at least since 1964 — and Donald Trump finally gave them a Moloch to worship. Continue reading
“A society that lets George W. Bush go anywhere without a shrieking Greek chorus to remind him of his body count isn’t good for much at all,” Sarah Jones writes. The wretched thing about the shrieking excrescence that rotted in the Oval Office between January 2017 and January 2020 is how living Republicans before Bush look acceptable, even avuncular. Continue reading
Erik Levitz spoke to pollster David Shor again this week for a post-mortem on the 2020 election. Now that we can see the results precinct by precinct the conclusions are as sobering as a blow to the chest. The GOP chipped away at the traditionally Democratic African American bloc and broke huge chunks from Hispanics:
One important thing to know about the decline in Hispanic support for Democrats is that it was pretty broad. This isn’t just about Cubans in South Florida. It happened in New York and California and Arizona and Texas. Really, we saw large drops all over the country. But it was notably larger in some places than others. In the precinct-level data, one of the things that jumps out is that places where a lot of voters have Venezuelan or Colombian ancestry saw much larger swings to the GOP than basically anywhere else in the country. The Colombian and Venezuelan shifts were huge.
One of my favorite examples is Doral, which is a predominantly Venezuelan and Colombian neighborhood in South Florida. One precinct in that neighborhood went for Hillary Clinton by 40 points in 2016 and for Trump by ten points in 2020. One thing that makes Colombia and Venezuela different from much of Latin America is that socialism as a brand has a very specific, very high salience meaning in those countries. It’s associated with FARC paramilitaries in Colombia and the experience with President Maduro in Venezuela. So I think one natural inference is that the increased salience of socialism in 2020 — with the rise of AOC and the prominence of anti-socialist messaging from the GOP — had something to do with the shift among those groups.
As for the story with Hispanics overall, one thing that really comes out very clearly in survey data that we’ve done is that it really comes down to ideology. So when you look at self-reported ideology — just asking people, “Do you identify as liberal, moderate, or conservative” — you find that there aren’t very big racial divides. Roughly the same proportion of African American, Hispanic, and white voters identify as conservative. But white voters are polarized on ideology, while nonwhite voters haven’t been. Something like 80 percent of white conservatives vote for Republicans. But historically, Democrats have won nonwhite conservatives, often by very large margins. What happened in 2020 is that nonwhite conservatives voted for Republicans at higher rates; they started voting more like white conservatives.
Reread the following sentence. Many of us involved in local politics have been figuring how to discuss getting local police out of situations requiring mental health training, or, stickier, how to remove the stinger from Defund the Police as slogan. I can’t. The Trump flags in Westchester are gone; the Blue Lives Matter bumper stickers, proxies for Trumpism, remain. The Hispanics who turned to Trump in 2020 admire authority because it allows them to keep the possessions for which they have scrimped and worked two jobs — at least initially. This fear of unmasked antifa forces marching into West Miami to burn every speedboat and SUV in sight may abate in 2022, but I don’t count on it.
In line to pay, the woman got too close to a man who asked her in Spanish to please maintain her distance. She ignored his request, police said, so he repeated it in English. The arrest report said she began “mumbling bad words,” and the man ignored her and walked to his car.
But in the Publix parking lot, as he tried to load his groceries, she walked up to him and got to within one foot of his face, police said. When he asked her to back up, it “enraged the defendant even more.”
According to an arrest report, she called the victim a “spic,” which is a slur for Hispanics, and said “we should have gotten rid of of you when we could.” She also said “This is not going to be Biden’s America, this is my America” and “we should have burned it all,” the report said.
Then, the report said, Wright took our her keys and began scratching the man’s car. “The defendant also proceeds to stab the victim’s vehicle with her keys while saying he needed to go back to his country,” the report said.
This woman, let me emphasize, is an anesthesiologist. She has patients. She probably has a family.
I respect Marty Baron from his tenures as editor of the Boston Globe and Miami Herald, and The Washington Post has fewer Maggie Habermans on its staff than the New York Times, but I cringed reading his Trump post-mortem with Der Spiegel, in which, after a previous Republican administration’s perfidy in rousing the American public to war with Iraq, Baron insists he had an obligation to take a president at his word. Not just any president but Donald J. Trump, whose life in the public eye is a grotesque accumulation of grift, charlatanism, and racism. This was no non-entity, no Warren G. Harding or James Garfield. Continue reading
Just another day at an improvised insurrection, nothing to see here. Luke Mogelson:
“You are traitors to the country!” a man barked at the police through a megaphone plastered with stickers from “InfoWars,” the incendiary Web program hosted by the right-wing conspiracist Alex Jones. Behind the man stood Biggs, the Proud Boys leader. He wore a radio clipped onto the breast pocket of his plaid flannel shirt. Not far away, I spotted a “straight pride” flag.
There wasn’t nearly enough law enforcement to fend off the mob, which pelted the officers with cans and bottles. One man angrily invoked the pandemic lockdown: “Why can’t I work? Where’s my ‘pursuit of happiness’?” Many people were equipped with flak jackets, helmets, gas masks, and tactical apparel. Guns were prohibited for the protest, but a man in a cowboy hat, posing for a photograph, lifted his jacket to reveal a revolver tucked into his waistband. Other Trump supporters had Tasers, baseball bats, and truncheons. I saw one man holding a coiled noose.
“Hang Mike Pence!” people yelled.
The absurd meets the dangerous. Continue reading
Like The Naked Gun series, the Borat films seem review-proof. Sacha Baron Cohen’s schtick — playing the boobish Kazakh who coaxes out the polite, casual racism and misogynism of Americans — seems a mid ’00s phenomenon as tied to its era as Dubya jokes, 50 Cent singles, and Blackberries. The United States visited by Borat for the first time since 2006 remains more than unchanged: it has intensified its relationship with stupidity. Funnier and flabbier than its predecessor, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm is less a film than a succession of sketches held together by the glee with which these rural Americans reveal themselves and by an unbecoming sentimentality. Continue reading
Earlier this afternoon, two miles from my apartment, at one of Miami-Dade’s largest parks, Trump supporters, most of whom, I assume, are Cuban American, waved MAGA flags, participated in a caravan, and encouraged the insurrections and rule-by-fiat for which they fled Cuba. On Monday morning, I overheard the library security guard snicker to an employee picking up books for interlibrary loan that, “Now they’re saying the president encouraged those Georgia people to find more votes.” The employee shook her head with a sad, weary smile. “They’ll say anything about him,” she said. Some of these people might even be uncles, aunts, mothers, and fathers of people I know.
The most oft-stated banality describing the DC insurrection — the culmination of Trumpism — obscures one chilling consequence of these long five years. Fascism. Riots. Treason. Sedition. Collusion. The outsized presence of Trump in our minds, the manner in which he took root in our imagination, has diluted my capacity to calling things as they are, for I reflexively imagine answering those uncles, aunts, mothers, fathers who no longer dare broach politics: their spurious, inchoate, and moronic arguments taxed my attempts at intellectual agility. This embarrasses a man who revels in arranging words. To care about words requires an equally devoted audience, however, and if conservatives since the Reagan era have pushed against Webster’s definitions; if they scoff at our attempts at precision; then my futility feels doubly poisonous.
I suffered no anxiety because I didn’t think Democrats would beat smiling offal like David Purdue or an unlettered hack like Kelly Loeffler. Figured Joseph Robinette Biden would govern by executive order while Mitch McConnell made life miserable for his putative Old Friend. Hours after most networks declared Reverend Raphael Warnock the winner of his Senate race, the extent of Stacey Abrams’ triumph is just coming into focus. Should Jon thirty-three-year-old (!) Jon Ossoff win his race, as I expect he will, Georgia will have not only elected a president but ended McConnell’s perfidious tenure as minority leader: six years of serving Moloch for the sake of appointing judges and SCOTUS justices. Continue reading
George Conway, one of Clinton’s tormentors during the Paula Jones-Monica Lewinsky imbroglio, has spent the last ten months arguing for a conservatism after Trump — an impossibility, for conservatism depends on racism and privilege and controlling the levers of power for the sake of minority rule. He has a paid MSNBC gig, from which he can call Mark Meadows a moron, so good on him, I guess. Continue reading