Friday, January 20, 2017

The butcher’s bill has come due: I can't wait to watch President Donald Trump victimize his own followers

In the weeks between Election Day and Donald Trump’s inauguration, I have found a new hobby. On a daily basis I read various newspapers, magazines and websites in search of stories about Trump voters and how they are surprised by their hero’s broken promises, scared that he may take away their health care or worried about his troubling connections to Vladimir Putin and the Russian government. I then bookmark these news items in my Internet browser for later use. As Nero fiddles and his public dances I can at least try to find small joys and pleasures in the music.
This is my version of liberal Schadenfreude — with slightly more hostile intent. I doubt that I am alone in adopting this new distraction and source of pleasure.
The butcher’s bill is due.
There are many examples of Trump’s voters and their increasing pain and anxiety.
I am particularly fond of this explanation from a Trump voter who benefited from President Barack Obama’s health care reforms:
I’m not really a fan of [Obama’s] policies, but I like the fact that he gave me health insurance. And I have been worried about the fact that, you know, is it going to go away because, like I said, we’re in a situation now where I can’t afford to pay $1,200 a month. And I can’t go without insurance because [a family member] has to have it in order, you know . . . a transplant could be a million dollars. . . .  Well . . . we liked [Trump] because he just seemed to be a businessman.
The Instagram site Trumpgrets is also a source of great entertainment.
Many Kentucky coal miners supported Donald Trump even though he will likely take away their health care.
In the end, I voted for Trump because he promised to repeal and replace Obamacare, and that was the most important issue to my own life. Looking back, I realize what a mistake it was. I ignored the pundits who repeated over and over again that he would not follow through on his promises, thinking they were spewing hysterics for better ratings. Sitting on my couch, my mouth agape at the words coming out his mouth on the TV before me, I realized just how wrong I was.
There are many explanations for why a voter would might choose a candidate who is likely to do that person harm. The American electorate, to put it kindly, is not particularly sophisticated. The country’s schools are broken: A high percentage of graduates of either high school and college lack critical thinking and reading skills. Many graduates also cannot read and properly evaluate a newspaper editorial, or discern if a story is from a reputable source or is “fake news.” Voters also privilege different issues in their calculations. For committed conservatives, winning the “culture war” may be more important than basic pocketbook or bread-and-butter issues.

Thoughts on Donald Trump's Inauguration?


I shared the following on Facebook:
The coronation of the American Il Duce Donald Trump is scheduled for Friday. At approximately 12pm EST he will become the next President of the United States. What are you plans? Are you protesting? Staying home and in bed, drunk, high, or otherwise with altered mood? Are you planning on a day of not working or shopping? 
There are the usual voices who are trying to normalize the election of Trump and his imminent presidency by whispering in our collective ears to "give Trump a chance" and "it can't be that bad". Other voices--such as President Obama earlier today in his last press conference--maintain an enduring faith in America and our culture's ability to move forward and to weather this fascist storm. I have little faith. The Americans who elected a fascist are capable of anything. I do wish they would receive their comeuppance in isolation, but alas, the rest of us will be collateral damage. 
The Trumpthuglicans are my countrymen by birth but not affinity, creed, or spirit.
As Friday and the long years that will come afterwards are imminent, I have been thinking about the following wisdom from Primo Levi: 
“Monsters exist, but they are too few in number to be truly dangerous. More dangerous are the common men, the functionaries ready to believe and to act without asking questions.” 
Are my worries misplaced? Am I unfair in my condemnation of Trump and his ilk as America's version of "Little Eichmanns", those authoritarians and their human tools?
The day is now here. I have written some things that will show up over at Salon and cause some upset. The truth tends to have that effect. I may go to a protest downtown if there is chaos enough to compel me. I will most certainly watch lots of Star Trek and Star Wars these next few days--see the very appropriate embedded clip from the two-part episode Chain of Command.

What are you all doing today? Recipes to share? Drinking? Movies to view? Sleeping? Sex? Marching? Protesting? Raising hell? Depression? Sleeping? Misery? Celebration?

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Primo Levi's Monsters and Protesting Donald Trump's Inauguration

The coronation of the American Il Duce Donald Trump is scheduled for Friday. At approximately 12pm EST he will become the next President of the United States. What are you plans? Are you protesting? Staying home and in bed, drunk, high, or otherwise with altered mood? Are you planning on a day of not working or shopping? 

There are the usual voices who are trying to normalize the election of Trump and his imminent presidency by whispering in our collective ears to "give Trump a chance" and "it can't be that bad". Other voices--such as President Obama earlier today in his last press conference--maintain an enduring faith in America and our culture's ability to move forward and to weather this fascist storm. I have little faith. The Americans who elected a fascist are capable of anything. I do wish they would receive their comeuppance in isolation, but alas, the rest of us will be collateral damage. 

The Trumpthuglicans are my countrymen by birth but not affinity, creed, or spirit. 

As Friday and the long years that will come afterwards are imminent, I have been thinking about the following wisdom from Primo Levi:
“Monsters exist, but they are too few in number to be truly dangerous. More dangerous are the common men, the functionaries ready to believe and to act without asking questions.”
Are my worries misplaced? Am I unfair in my condemnation of Trump and his ilk as America's version of "Little Eichmanns", those authoritarians and their human tools?

Monday, January 16, 2017

From Martin Luther King Jr. to Donald Trump: The Long Arc of History Does Not Always Bend Towards Justice

The long arc of history does not always bend toward justice.
In the United States, Monday is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. King was a martyr, assassinated because he dared to try to tear down the barriers created by prejudice, bigotry, poverty and racism in American society. Friday is Inauguration Day, when Donald Trump will officially become the 45th president of the United States. He is determined to resurrect the barriers of prejudice, bigotry, poverty and racism in American society.
Dr. King weeps. Donald Trump and his human deplorables smile.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a public ritual in America. To that end, King, who when alive was one of the most hated and unpopular people in the United States, is transformed into a public saint and hero.
Many parties will claim him. Global corporations will run commercials adorned with King’s image for greed and profit. Television shows and sporting events will feature obligatory montages of black “celebrities” who are somehow depicted as being the fruit of King’s struggle. The Democrats will summon Martin Luther King Jr. by locating him in the same lineage as President Barack Obama.
The Republicans will claim King as well. They will do this by constructing a fictionalized narrative where he was a “black conservative” instead of a democratic socialist. The Republican Party will also claim that they are the “party of Lincoln” and thus the true heirs and defenders of Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy and the broader Civil Rights movement. Of course, this too is absurd. Such claims ignore how for at least 50 years of the racist “Southern strategy” — culminating with the election of the American fascist Donald Trump — the Republican Party has become a band of modern-day defenders of the Confederacy and the values of Jefferson Davis and Jim and Jane Crow.
Laughably, the Republican Party will also trot out black conservatives as part of the annual public ritual. As professional “best black friends,” their main purpose is to serve as a human mask and distraction for the Republican Party and its deep affinity for racism and white supremacy.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

A Conversation with Kelly Baker About "Good White Folks", Racism, and the Ku Klux Klan

Kelly Baker is the guest on this week's episode of The Chauncey DeVega Show. She is the author of Gospel According to the Klan: The KKK’s Appeal to Protestant America, 1915-1930, as well as The Zombies Are Coming!: The Realities of the Zombie Apocalypse in American Culture.

In this week's episode of the podcast, Kelly and Chauncey talk about the "good white people" problem and racism, white identity politics and Donald Trump, the history of the Ku Klux Klan, as well as the various genres of hate mail and white toxic masculinity. Chauncey and Kelly also talk about their shared love of zombies and the not so hidden gender and racial politics of The Walking Dead TV series.

During this week's podcast, Chauncey talks about going to see Barack Obama's farewell address as a member of the press, shares a fun story about the naming practices of the ghetto underclass, and gives his thoughts on what is really going on with Donald Trump's golden shower scandal. At the end of this week's episode, Chauncey also shares some thoughts on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s radicalism and the inauguration of the American fascist Donald Trump.

This episode with Kelly Baker 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.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Goodbye My Black President: Some Personal Thoughts on Barack Obama's Farewell Address

Somewhere in another dimension of the multiverse, I hope that President Barack Obama returned home to Chicago to give his farewell address. As his music began, Obama walked up to the podium and paused. He looked to the crowd at the McCormick Center Place, arched his eyebrow, stared up at the lights in the ceiling and channeled professional wrestler and movie star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, bellowing, “Do you smell what Barack is cooking?”
Obama would then pause, letting the silence expand for a moment and then proclaim, “Finally, Barack has come . . . home.”
Of course, this is not our President Barack Obama. That is OK. Our version of President Barack Obama is more than fine just the way he is.
During his farewell address last night, Obama was passionate while also restrained. Yet he wrapped the facts of American history in a soft but still durable glove and beat Trumpism and today’s Republicans about the metaphorical face and body.
During his farewell address, the professor turned president of the United States lectured while never sounding arrogant, aloof or preachy. To that end, Obama was eloquent, intellectual and confident. He was a role model of calm, cool reflective black masculinity: a man utterly at home in his own skin and at peace with his legacy as president — even while being quite concerned about the future of the country under Donald Trump and the Republican regime.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Of Manchurian Candidates,"Pod People", and Spies: How “National Security” Republicans Became Russian Tools

As indicated by a newly released report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, it appears that Russia’s intelligence agencies, orchestrated by President Vladimir Putin, interfered with the 2016 United States presidential election with the goal of helping Donald Trump defeat Hillary Clinton. They were successful: On Jan. 20, Trump will be sworn in as the 45th president of the United States.

The revelation that one of America’s greatest global rivals and its mortal enemy during the Cold War manipulated the 2016 presidential election (as part of a broader plan to attack Western democracies) is the stuff of spy movies and techno-thrillers. But instead of paranoia and fear, Putin’s interference has been greeted by learned helplessness on the part of many Americans, impotence from the Democrats and a combination of indifference, obfuscation, denial and outright lying by the Republican Party.

The latter is particularly fascinating. Over the course of several decades, Republicans created a narrative for themselves (largely untrue) that they had and have the party of “national security.” For many years the Republican Party imagined itself as comprised of the “coldest” of the Cold Warriors. Yet during a bizarre political season when American fascism is ascendant with Donald Trump, a party and right-wing movement whose political DNA consists of conspiracy-driven John Birchers, paranoid McCarthyites, Christian fundamentalists and Ronald Reagan fetishists have apparently been “flipped” (to borrow from the language of spies and espionage) to support Putin’s Russia.

This is not an episode of Rod Serling’s classic science-fiction TV show “The Twilight Zone.” It is the reality-TV-show-obsessed “post-truth” America of 2016, when, as Neil Postman warned some years ago, “we are entertaining ourselves to death.” As a result, our political culture is in deep crisis.

In many ways, this outcome was predictable. Authoritarianism has been on the rise among the American people for at least 20 years — especially among Republicans and, of course, Donald Trump supporters. Adherents of conservatism, a type of motivated social cognition, are attracted by demagogues and political strongmen. Crude masculinity and nationalism are also alluring to conservative authoritarians. In Trump and Putin, American conservatives have found two heroes to swoon over in a right-wing bromance.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Got My Fancy Pants and Expensive Shoes On and Am Going to Barack Obama's Farewell Address Here in Chicago Later Today


Fingers crossed, I am on the list to see Barack Obama's farewell speech here in Chicago later today. I was not able to go to the White House conference I was invited to over the summer. But, through some well-timed emails, and the power of the Force and Crom, I should be pretty close to the stage when America's first black president gives his farewell address here in Chicago. If you see a turtle-like and grotesque looking black man with an odd looking goatee, please do yell at the TV machine and give Chauncey DeVega some love.

In his speech, Obama will channel George Washington. He will be cerebral and reflective. He will cut his own version of a pro wrestling promo on Donald Trump--in a dignified way of course. There will be some tears in the house for sure.

I am excited to witness this in person. I am also saddened to see one of America's greatest presidents say goodbye. I am disgusted with now being forced to reckon with an incompetent ignoramus and bigot named Donald Trump who will soon be soiling The White House. I doubt that I am alone in that sentiment.

Nothing fancy here. But I am sincerely curious. What do you expect from Barack Obama's farewell address? If you had a chance to ask him a question during these final weeks in office what would it be? And if you had an opportunity to speak with Barack Obama in private during this time what would you ask or request of him?

Friday, January 6, 2017

A Conversation with Political Scientist Lester Spence About Resistance, Neoliberalism, the Color Line, and Black Politics in the Age of Donald Trump

The guest, for this, the first official podcast episode of 2017, is Lester Spence. He is the author of several great books including Stare in the Darkness: The Limits of Hip-hop and Black Politics and is a frequent contributor to news outlets such as MSNBC, the BBC, and National Public Radio. Dr. Spence is also an Associate Professor of Political Science at Johns Hopkins University.

In this far ranging and broad conversation, Lester and Chauncey talk about race and popular culture, neoliberalism and black politics, why Beyonce is not "politically resistant", social media "activism", police thuggery, and the role of "black public intellectuals" at the end of the Age of Obama and through to the nightmare that will be the Age of Trump. Lester and Chauncey also talk about analog vs. digital culture and the art of being a master of the turntables.

During this week's episode of The Chauncey DeVega Show, Chauncey answers some questions sent in by friends and listeners of the show and also reads some hate mail.

This episode of The Chauncey DeVega Show 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.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

It was the racism, stupid: White working-class “economic anxiety” is a zombie idea that needs to die

On Jan. 20, Donald Trump will become president of the United States of America. Donald Trump is an authoritarian and demagogue who meets the definition of a fascist, as I have argued on multiple previous occasions. His election and the 60 million voters who supported him are a threat to American democracy.

How did this happen?

The first draft of this history is being written now. In the years and decades to come, we will have the benefit of hindsight, as well as more information and context, to make better sense of Donald Trump’s victory on Election Day 2016 and its implications for American democracy and global politics.

But in the immediate present, the dominant narrative for explaining the rise of Donald Trump and his fascist movement has been centered upon the “white working class” and its purported “economic anxiety.” For a variety of reasons, this is a compelling story for the American corporate news media, the pundits and other elite opinion leaders.

The white economic anxiety narrative is simplistic. It is also the result of a type of “path dependence,” whereby the answers offered are largely a function of the questions asked. The white economic anxiety thesis is also a way for the pundit class — with a majority of its members being white and from a very narrow socioeconomic background — to ignore the enduring power of racism and sexism in American society.

Here, a belief that it must be something other than racism (and sexism) that won Trump the election functions as a conceptual blinder for analysts and commentators who want to deny the ugly truth about the values and beliefs held by their fellow (white) Americans. In all, these factors are part of an effort, albeit a superficial one, to empathize with the supposed pain and anger of white working-class voters who feel “left behind” and by doing so normalize their egregious, irresponsible and hateful decision to support Donald Trump.

Most important, the economic-anxiety thesis is in many ways incorrect.