Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Mouth Yammering and Nonsense About Police Brutality, Patriotism, Sports, and Racism on Last Night's "Open Court" TV Show on the NBA Network

Last night, while trying to avoid the baseball game--I have no interest in the sport, and yes, that includes the Chicago Cubs--I stumbled upon the NBA Network's "Open Court" television show. The format features former black professional basketball players such as Shaquille O'Neal and Charles Barkley and an obligatory white co-panelist. With the help of the one and only legend Jim Brown, the group proceeded to try to speak with authority about race, police violence, the color line, Colin Kaepernick, and other related mattes. The show and discussion was cringe worthy. Moreover, "Open Court" is proof that just because a person happens to be black or brown that they are not imbued with a special or unique insight about race in America. Melanin count does not equal scholarly or learned expertise.

And of course, racial capitalism deems that Charles Barkley, he who is "real" and "tells the truth" about "race" in America will be given his own show called "The Race Card" on the TNT network next year. White projections that are living caricatures of blackness and the "black experience" are quite popular--especially if they are black conservatives like Charles Barkley.

The trailer can be watched at this link or below.

And sorry Charles--and those others who share his childish beliefs--racism is not an opinion. It is one of the most documented facts in all of the social sciences. And yes, there are people who actually have answers and scholarly expertise and facts to answer the questions you will be asking on the show. White privilege and white supremacy are not unknown unknowns.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Questions of Race, Gender, and The Walking Dead Season 7 Premier

Wow. The season 7 premier of The Walking Dead was powerful--you can take that to be a positive or a negative. Since the show debuted several years ago, I have offered comments here and elsewhere about The Walking Dead (television show and graphic novel) and questions of race and representation. I recently had a chance to speak with Salon's television critic about the season premier, Negan, violence, race, and gender. The conversation is posted below. What did you think of Negan's debut and the one and only "Lucille?"


AMC’s top-rated series “The Walking Dead” returns for its seventh season Sunday at 9 p.m. with the answer to what may be one of the cruelest cliffhangers in television history. Back in April, the drama’s sixth season finale ended by giving us the first glimpse of the nefarious Negan, a key villain in the comic books brought to life on TV by Jeffrey Dean Morgan, beating a beloved character to death. Before we found out which member of Rick Grimes’s loyal group of survivors had made his or her final run, the lens went bloody and the scene faded to black.

It’s a nasty business that’s fueled countless headlines and stories. But once that moment has the shock has subsided, executive producers have teased, the show’s universe with noticeably expand. But as soon as Rick’s people and the story itself resume their usual scrabbling to Just Survive Somehow, how much will that matter?

The audience for “The Walking Dead” is a devoted one and includes two Salon staffers, politics writer Chauncey DeVega and TV critic Melanie McFarland. But a viewer’s loyalty and passion for the show aren’t always present in equal measure. “The Walking Dead” is a survival tale at first blush, but over the years it has also fomented discussion and debate over its depictions of race, class and gender, especially in terms of the group’s power dynamics and the producers’ choice of which characters’ storylines receive deeper attention.

As viewers brace themselves to find out which characters are safe and who’s out, we took stock of our feelings about the series itself, debated its thornier issues and flaws and, naturally, traded speculation as to which survivor fell.

Melanie McFarland: The return of “The Walking Dead” has been hyped since, well, the sixth season finale. Everybody is looking forward to the true introduction of Negan beyond a few minutes of posturing with his barbed-wire-wrapped baseball bat Lucille.

It’s extraordinarily sadistic for any drama to get so much mileage out of making its core audience wait for six months to find out which one of their favorite characters was brutally murdered. But let’s explore that later. Right now I’m wondering if you’re looking forward to tonight’s premiere of “The Walking Dead.” I’m not sure if I am. And what are your general feelings about the series at this point as it goes into season 7?

Chauncey DeVega: As a fan of the comic book and an ambivalent viewer of the TV series, I am excited to finally see the introduction of Negan. The universe of “The Walking Dead” has many defining moments that will have great implications going forward. Negan is one such stop. There are moments of dialogue when Negan is introduced in the comic in which — and I think the comic has been very transparent about this — questions of race and identity and gender are so salient and raw that I hope AMC and the show’s writers and producers have the nerve to include.

My feelings about the comic and the series up to this point in season 7 are pretty much aligned — how much longer will these characters have to suffer? We know that in the zombie genre — one that I love and have so much affection and appreciation for going back to the godfather of it all, George Romero — that it is the people who are the real threat, not the undead. Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and the survivors are in many ways the real monsters, and the true “Walking Dead,” in this universe. What comes next? Negan is that test. There are bad and dangerous people in “The Walking Dead.” Negan will show Rick and his band of survivors just how great those threats are. They will be humbled and I can’t wait to see how it plays out.

What are your thoughts on the show? Have you read the graphic novel? Has the show made you more or less likely to? Of course I would recommend that you do so. The TV show and graphic novel are quite different in some important ways.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

A Conversation with Historian Jennifer Mittelstadt About America's Military Welfare State/Donald Trump versus Hillary Clinton pt. 3

Professor Jennifer Mittelstadt is the guest on this week's episode of The Chauncey DeVega Show. She is a Professor of History at Rutgers University and the author of the new book The Rise of the Military Welfare State.

In this week's episode of the podcast, Jennifer and Chauncey talk about the social safety net, gender, race, welfare, and the United States military. Jennifer also offers some great insights about the influence of "free market" ideologies in some surprising places--such as the decision to end the draft in the United States. Chauncey and Jennifer also try to make sense of Donald Trump and how to best locate him relative to American history.

During this week's podcast, Chauncey reviews Shin Godzilla, the new Birth of a Nation, and The Accountant. Chauncey also offers some thoughts on the third presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton and what transpired there. Hint: Donald Trump is a great threat to American democracy. 

This episode with Professor Jennifer Mittelstadt can be downloaded from Libysn and also listened to here.

The Chauncey DeVega Show is available on Itunes and at Stitcher

The Chauncey DeVega Show can now be found on Spotify as well.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

"Make America Great Again!": The KKK's Newspaper Explains the True Meaning of Donald Trump's Slogan

The Republican Party is the United States’ largest de facto white identity organization. Its primary electoral strategy for the last 50 years has consisted of using a combination of overt white racism and subtle “dog whistles” to win white voters.
New research by political scientist Michael Tesler shows the power of this strategy: “Old-fashioned” overt racism now predicts if a given white voter will support the Republican Party. Public opinion polling data from Reuters/Ipsos has revealed that Trump’s supporters are more likely than other Republican voters to believe that black people are more “criminal,” “unintelligent,” “lazy” and “violent” than white people. Demographics are important here as well: The Republican Party’s base is about 90 percent white while the Democratic Party’s constituency is multiracial and multigenerational.
Donald Trump is the current standard bearer for the Republican Party and a political moment when conservatism and racism are now fully and nakedly one and the same thing. This is why white nationalists such as David Duke — as well as the other bigots and hatemongers who constitute the so-called alt right — have flocked to Trump’s candidacy and embraced him as their champion and delivery system for mainstreaming their regressive white supremacist beliefs into the American body politic.
Moreover, this is not a claim that Trump is guilty by mere association or endorsement. Trump’s proposed policies are racist and nativist: He has suggested that Hispanic and Latino “illegal” immigrants are running amok in the street while they kill and rape white people. He believes that African-Americans in the age of Obama live in a dystopic hell worse than slavery and Jim and Jane Crow. And in violation of the Constitution he wants to ban Muslims from the United States while placing the ones already here on an enemies’ list.
Trump’s son as well as other political advisers have used social media to circulate white supremacist propaganda and talking points. Trump’s inner circle also has connections to white supremacist and white nationalist organizations.
What follows then is not at all surprising.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Time Machine Politics: Donald Trump and the Republican Party want to Return America to the 19th Century

Donald Trump’s path to victory in the 2016 presidential election is increasingly narrow. Trump is increasingly unpopular with a huge swath of American voters. White men are his redoubt of support. Statistician and pundit Nate Silver highlighted this on his website FiveThirtyEight. He wrote:
If men were the only voters, conversely, we’d have to subtract 10 points from Clinton’s current margin in every state — which would yield an awfully red map. Trump would win everything that could plausibly be called a swing state, with Clinton hanging on only to the West Coast, parts of the Northeast, Illinois and New Mexico. That would yield 350 electoral votes for Trump to 188 for Clinton. . . .  But it seems fair to say that, if Trump loses the election, it will be because women voted against him.
Donald Trump’s son was enthusiastic about Trump’s support among men and an alternate reality where only men could vote for president of the United States. By now you know that Trump’s basket of human deplorables responded on cue with a social-media campaign advocating that the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution be repealed.
This is not a harmless online meme or joke. It is also not political satire. “#RepealThe19th” is another insight into the political vision and worldview that animates Trump and the millions of Republicans and other voters who have flocked to his banner.
Today’s Republican Party is not “conservative.” Conservatism is prefaced on respect for standing norms and priors, existing political and cultural institutions and is weary of sudden social change. Since the Clinton administration and through to the age of Obama, the Republican Party has become increasingly radical — disregarding the consensus politics and respect for political precedent and tradition that has guided the modern two-party political system in the United States for more than 100 years.
The Republican Party is also revanchist. Its leaders and base are fighting to return the United States to some of the darkest parts of our past. Donald Trump and his movement are the extreme outcome of this yearning: Their slogan “Make America Great Again” is in many ways a war on progress and the 21st century.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

White Privilege Thy Name is Donald Trump

White privilege is a concept which describes the unearned social, political, economic, and other advantages that white people receive because of their skin color.
Quite predictably, discussing white privilege with white people can be very challenging.
There is often anger, deflection, and denial at the suggestion that being white in American society gives certain opportunities and advantages which are denied to people of color.
Confusion is a common response as well. Privilege is something that is typically taken for granted. As such, it is not usually reflected upon or made visible by those who possess it. An acknowledgement of privilege often requires that a person reorient themselves in the world and reconsider their relationships with other people.
Moreover, white privilege is not a claim that every white person’s life is perfect or easy and that every non-white person’s life is horrible.
Guilt is also summoned. It is often followed by tears. To expose white privilege challenges a person’s narrative about their own hard work and success.
And there is, of course, the common error in which discussions of white privilege are often perceived (erroneously) as attacks on a given white person’s character and soul instead of as a critique of societal power and institutions.
But what if there was an example of white privilege which was so extreme, obvious, gross, and transparent that it was impossible for anyone to deny? Enter: Donald Trump.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

It is Our Patriotic Duty on Both Sides of the Color Line to Stop Donald Trump

Donald Trump’s acceptance speech at the 2016 Republican National Convention was a nadir in modern American politics. His behavior at the second presidential debate against Hillary Clinton last night in St. Louis was even more monstrous, a shocking spectacle of political ugliness.

As I watched last night’s debate, I was tasked with focusing on how Clinton and Trump spoke to (or did not) questions of race, policing, human rights and justice along the color line in America. These are topics I have written about on many occasions. The second presidential debate in St. Louis offered no shortage of opportunities for comment.

To wit: Trump was asked about Islamophobia and terrorism. In his answer, he doubled down on how his administration would further harass Muslim Americans and even went so far as to erroneously suggest that they harbor and protect terrorists.

Monday, October 10, 2016

A Conversation with Political Scientist John Schiemann About Torture and America's 'War on Terrorism'/Donald Trump versus Hillary Clinton pt. 2

Professor John Schiemann is the guest on this week's episode of The Chauncey DeVega Show. He is a Professor of Political Science at Fairleigh Dickinson University. He is the author of the new book Does Torture Work?

In this week's episode of the podcast, John and Chauncey talk about American foreign policy, torture, September 11th, and torture. John also does some great teaching about the "prisoner's dilemma", interrogation, and how psychologists became involved in how the United States decided to implement a torture program.

During this week's podcast, Chauncey talks about Donald Trump's recent videotaped sex scandal. Chauncey also previews the second town hall debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump and then offers his thoughts about what transpired there. Hint: Donald Trump is a fascist and his foul behavior in St. Louis is more proof of how he is not fit to be President of the United States.

This episode with Professor John Schiemann can be downloaded from Libysn and also listened to here.

The Chauncey DeVega Show is available on Itunes and at Stitcher

The Chauncey DeVega Show can now be found on Spotify as well.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

"She Asked for It": Donald Trump’s Apology is That of a Rapist

The 2016 Republican presidential campaign is an Adam Sandler comedy. Donald Trump is the lead character — an amalgam of Happy Gilmore and Billy Madison and any number of others.
During the Republican primaries, Donald Trump talked about the size of his penis, suggested that Marco Rubio urinated on himself during a debate, made allusions to menstruation, and implied that Mitt Romney would perform fellatio on him if so demanded.
On Friday, the Republican presidential campaign turned scatological comedy movie would crescendo to a new low. The Washington Post released a recording of Donald Trump during a 2005 taping of the TV show “Access Hollywood.”
There, alongside Billy Bush, Donald Trump was shown saying:
“I’ve got to use some Tic Tacs, just in case I start kissing her. You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything…Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”
Here, Trump is speaking — joking, he would try to claim — about sexually assaulting a woman because he believes that he is empowered to do so by his stardom, fame, and inherited money.
Such comments should further imperil Trump’s presidential candidacy with suburban white women and college educated white voters—two groups that his brand of Right-wing faux populism, assault on normal politics, bullying behavior, ill-temperament, and hostility to “political correctness” have, to this point, alienated.
However, the 2016 presidential race is an outlier where anything seems possible and many of the standing rules and norms of modern American politics have been broken.
Could Donald Trump’s most recent instance of crude behavior actually boost his support?

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Sociopath Mike Pence Defeated Tim Kaine at Last Night's Vice Presidential Debate

The first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump was a heavyweight championship bout. By comparison, last night's vice presidential debate was an undercard fight, and like most undercard fights it served more as a preview of future talent than as a featured attraction.

Pence beat Kaine on style points. Pence refused to engage but made sure to look good doing it. Kaine was nervous at first. He would eventually hit some very good shots, but Pence acted as though nothing had happened. In all, the vice presidential debate was a tedious slog--one not helped by the piss poor moderator who seemed quite out of her depth and obsessed with following a script as opposed to letting anything worthwhile develop organically.

As I suggested  several weeks ago, Mike Pence is far more dangerous than Donald Trump. He is a polished liar who "looks" presidential. As Jamelle Bouie at Slate pointed out, Pence "gaslighted" the nation last night as he created an alternative reality where Donald Trump is a victim, he and Trump apparently never said the things they have actually been recorded on video saying, facts are "insulting," and recycled disproved and tired Right-wing talking points about taxes, Hillary Clinton, international relations, and police thuggery are the lengua franca 

And of course, both candidates had to make an obligatory statement about their "faith" and "god"--where Pence showed himself to be a Christian theocrat with little regard for the Constitution or women's agency, intelligence, or freedom.

Donald Trump is a test of concept for the reactionary Right-wing and the Republican Party. Mike Pence is going to be the mass produced model for 2020. You have been warned. 

Who do you think won last night's debate? Will Donald Trump be able to learn something from Pence's debate style and then apply it in Sunday night's rematch?