Monday, November 20, 2017

Toxic White Masculinity and Donald Trump's Attacks on Black Athletes

If Mike Judge writes a sequel to his great 2006 film "Idiocracy" (which now feels like a very prescient documentary and not a satire), he could easily cast president Donald Trump and sports promoter-manager LaVar Ball as the main characters. Both men are obnoxious, loud masters of self-promotion who play on the worst parts of American culture in order to make money. Trump is the champion of this debased culture; Ball is no more than a low-ranked challenger. Nevertheless, in many ways their public personas are more similar than different. Together, they are doppelgängers of crudeness. This fact is lost on Donald Trump, a person who lacks the capacity for critical self-reflection.

In his Sunday Twitter outburst, Trump went after Ball this way:
Now that the three basketball players are out of China and saved from years in jail, LaVar Ball, the father of LiAngelo, is unaccepting of what I did for his son and that shoplifting is no big deal. I should have left them in jail!
In another example of how Trump has soiled the White House, this idiotic temper tantrum came on the anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. Alas, the American presidency has fallen from the heights and gravitas of Lincoln's oratory and leadership to the 280 characters of Twitter and a petit-fascist who demands constant praise and attention because his life is modeled on a reality TV show.

Trump's behavior, of course, is part of a much larger pattern.

Trump appears to view himself as a monarch who must be shown acts of loyalty and fealty at all times and by all people. In his mind, he is a Leviathan, the physical embodiment of the State, who must be treated accordingly.

Throughout his presidency Trump has repeatedly targeted black people for harassment when he deems their behavior "uppity" and "disrespectful." This is one more example of how the politics of white rage pay great political dividends in America. This fact was true at the time of the founding and it remains so in the age of Trump.

For many reasons, black American athletes are a special target for white rage. Professional athletes in football, baseball and basketball earn large sums of money. For sports fans -- especially those who are white and right-wing -- this is a source of admiration and idol worship, but also resentment and jealousy.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

A Conversation with Bruce Bartlett About Why the Republican Party Must Die and the Dangers of "Fake News"

Bruce Bartlett is the guest on this week's episode of The Chauncey DeVega Show. He served in the Reagan White House and also under George H.W. Bush. Bartlett is also a regular contributor to The New York Times and has appeared on CNN, MSNBC, and other major news networks. His new book is The Truth Matters: A Citizen's Guide to Separating Facts from Lies and Stopping Fake News in Its Tracks.

During this week's episode of The Chauncey DeVega Show, Bruce and Chauncey discuss how the Republican Party became a threat to American democracy, the failures of the American news media, the danger of "fake news" and its role in Trumpism. Bruce also shares some guidelines and suggestions for how we can improve our news media literacy.

In this week's episode, Chauncey DeVega explains why the Democratic Party is pathetic as shown by their inability to defeat movement conservatives and the Republican Party. Chauncey also ponders the particular case of the sex deviant racist pervert Roy Moore and why Christian fascists are in love with him. At the end of this week's show Chauncey shares some poetry in the spirit of Veterans Day. 

This episode with Bruce Bartlett can be downloaded from Libsyn and also listened to here.

The Chauncey DeVega Show is available on Itunes, Spotify and at Stitcher.

Friday, November 10, 2017

A Conversation with Documentary Filmmaker Rory Karpf About Ric Flair and his new ESPN 30 for 30 film "Nature Boy"

Award-winning documentary filmmaker Rory Karpf is the guest on this week's episode of The Chauncey DeVega Show. His much-anticipated ESPN 30 for 30 film "Nature Boy" on the amazing life and times of the legendary professional wrestler Ric Flair debuted earlier this week.

During this week's episode of The Chauncey DeVega Show, Rory and Chauncey discuss their mutual love of professional wrestling, how they fell in love with the sport, getting to know Ric Flair, the personal tragedies and the public persona, and why and how Flair has remained so relevant in global popular culture some forty years after he first debuted. Rory also gives some advice for aspiring filmmakers and those others who want to pursue their creative dreams.

Mama DeVega also makes her return to the virtual bar and salon this week. Mama DeVega is very angry at people who suggest that somehow she is being manipulated and does not have opinions of her own. In rare form, Mama DeVega also tells the truth about Donald Trump, relays stories about being a civil rights pioneer, and gets upset about "the phantom pooper".

In this week's episode, Chauncey DeVega shares a story about the human trash monsters who still support Donald Trump and also urges folks to not get too excited about the Democratic Party's wins at the polls on Tuesday. Chauncey also has a case of the blues and realizes that his sad mood is caused by the one-year anniversary of Donald Trump's conquering of the presidency and the climactic ascent of American fascism.

This episode with Rory Karpf and Mama DeVega can be downloaded from Libsyn and also listened to here.

The Chauncey DeVega Show is available on Itunes, Spotify and at Stitcher.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

The Blood of Innocents: America is not a Judeo-Christian Society. It is a Country of Pagans Who Worship the Gun God

On Sunday, Devin Patrick Kelley allegedly killed 26 people during a church service in Sutherland Springs, Texas. He also wounded 20 others. On his personal Facebook profile, he displayed a picture of an AR-15-style assault rifle. This was the weapon of choice he used to kill 7 percent of the population in a town of only 362.

Because of this tragedy, it is now time to once again partake in a unique American ritual.

To participate, you will need a mass shooting bingo card. If you do not yet have one, it is readily available for free from various sites on the internet.

Your mass shooting bingo card lists various options for the narratives that are trotted out when a mass shooting occurs in the United States. For example, you will likely hear phrases such as "guns don't kill people," "don't politicize a tragedy," "it's too soon to talk about gun control" and "pray for the victims."

The mass shooting bingo game is a dreadful form of gallows humor. It is also an accurate representation of how mass murder by gun is all too often discussed in American society.

If a Muslim or someone of Arab or Middle Eastern ancestry had killed 26 white Christians in church, President Donald Trump would demand that the perpetrator be executed, describe him as human garbage and argue that "extreme vetting," along with banning immigration from certain parts of the world, will keep Americans safe.

If a black person or another nonwhite person had killed 26 white Christians in church we would hear loud demands from Donald Trump, the Republican Party and the right-wing media to get tougher on crime, and complaints that somehow America's police are unfairly restrained.

But if a white man such as Devin Kelley kills dozens of people at a church (or 58 at a country music concert), then it is somehow in poor taste to "politicize" such tragedies. That person is a "lone wolf." He is not a terrorist. His actions are "outliers," and perceived as unpreventable. He is described as mentally ill, or affected by other types of emotional or psychological problems.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

A Conversation with Psychologist John Gartner About the "Duty to Warn" and How Donald Trump's Mental Health is a Threat to World Peace

This week's episode of The Chauncey DeVega Show features three guests and a special bonus Halloween feature.

Psychologist John Gartner is the featured guest on this week's show. He is the founder of "The Duty to Warn", a political action organization and awareness raising campaign which is trying to sound the alarm about Donald Trump's mental health and how he is a threat to world peace. Dr. Gartner's "Duty to Warn" petition and open letter was featured in the New York Times and elsewhere. To date, it has received tens of thousands of signatures from mental health professionals in the United States and elsewhere.

During this week's episode of The Chauncey DeVega Show, Dr. Gartner and Chauncey discuss Trump's mental health, how his various pathologies are a threat to world peace, and how the so-called Goldwater Rule is a shield that protects cowardly psychologists and others who are afraid to speak truth to power. Dr. Gartner also explains the dangerous allure of demagogues such as Donald Trump and how he is able to control his millions of followers--and why they will not leave him.

This week's podcast also features two other great guests to help make sense of Robert Mueller's indictments and the Russia Scandal.

Author and journalist Jared Yates Sexton was one of the first voices to call attention to how Paul Manafort would likely be indicted for money laundering and other financial crimes. More than a year ago, Sexton correctly identified how money would be the smoking gun that would expose Trump's collusion with Russia to steal the 2016 election from Hillary Clinton. Jared explains how he connected the dots and what he thinks will happen next with Mueller's investigation and the Russia Scandal.

Naveed Jamali is the author of How to Catch a Russian Spy. He explains how Mueller's indictment reveals the ways that Russian spies and other intelligence operatives compromised Trump's inner circle--most notably George Papadopoulos. Jamali also locates Putin's plans for Donald Trump and the chaos caused in the 2016 presidential election in a larger strategic context. Jamali is also deeply concerned that America is on the verge of a Constitutional crisis when and if Trump fires Mueller.

In this week's episode, Chauncey tries to construct a narrative out of the maelstrom of Trump-related chaos and evil such as Kelly's piss poor ignorant claims about "compromise" and the Civil War, how Susan "Goebbels" Huckabee Sanders refuses to say that Trump believes that slavery was wrong, and Mueller's indictments. Chauncey also shares some polling data about Trump's malignant reality and the control he has over his human deplorables and its implications for American fascism.

As a special trick or treat Halloween bonus this week's show also features Adam Selzer  who is the author of H. H. Holmes: The True History of the White City Devil. He separates fact from fiction in the disturbing tale of Chicago's most famous "serial killer".  

This episode with Dr. John Gartner, Jared Yates Sexton, and Naveed Jamali can be downloaded from Libsyn and also listened to here.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

To Argue That the Confederacy and General Lee were "Honorable" is to Embrace and Defend White Supremacy

If White House chief of staff John Kelly had any self-respect or integrity he would be embarrassed right now. Despite his distinguished service as a Marine Corps general, Kelly apparently jettisoned such values when he went to work for President Donald Trump.

During an interview on Laura Ingraham's new Fox News show on Monday night, Kelly told the host that he viewed Confederate general Robert E. Lee as “an honorable man. ... He was a man that gave up his country to fight for his state, which 150 years ago was more important than country. It was always loyalty to state first back in those days. Now it’s different today. But the lack of an ability to compromise led to the Civil War, and men and women of good faith on both sides made their stand where their conscience had them make their stand.”

He also defended Confederate monuments. “I think we make a mistake, though, and as a society and certainly as individuals, when we take what is today accepted as right and wrong and go back 100, 200, 300 years or more and say what those, you know, what Christopher Columbus did was wrong. ... You know, 500 years later, it’s inconceivable to me that you would take what we think now and apply it back then.”

Kelly's understanding of American history and the Civil War is piss-poor and willfully ignorant. To claim that the treasonous Confederate cause and its leaders such as Lee were "honorable" people is to confuse the white supremacist fiction and propaganda channeled by movies like "Gone With the Wind" and "The Birth of a Nation" with empirical reality, historical rigor and actual scholarship. Unfortunately, Kelly's delusions do not exist in isolation: They are shared by many other (white) Americans as well, including Donald Trump.

Of course, Kelly's claims have been publicly eviscerated by leading historians of American history and the Civil War, including Eric Foner, David Blight and Stephanie McCurry. Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns refuted Kelly's claims as well. Author Ta-Nehisi Coates also showed Kelly's claims about the Civil War to be a sham and lie that makes demonstrable fact into mysterious, lazy opinion.

I spoke to historian Gregory Downs, the author of "After Appomattox: Military Occupation and the Ends of War" and a professor at the University of California -- Davis. He offered additional context for Kelly's claims, saying they "reflect a regrettable but common way that Americans turn away from the centrality of slavery to the Civil War and the Confederate cause."

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

"Do Something!" Trump's Threats of Violence and Chaos From the White House

Speculation has now yielded to fact. On Monday, the grand jury impaneled by special counsel Robert Mueller to investigate Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election issued its first indictments. Several of Trump's closest advisers have been charged with breaking the law. This is the clearest evidence yet that Russia was able to penetrate and gain influence at the highest levels of Trump's presidential campaign.

Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort has been charged with conspiracy against the United States, making false statements under oath, working as an unregistered agent for a foreign country, money laundering and numerous other financial crimes.

Rick Gates, who is Manafort's business confidant and aide, was charged with similar crimes. Both men pled not guilty during their arraignment on Monday.

Perhaps the most important and most damning indictment, however, was against George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy adviser for Trump's campaign. Papadopoulos was in constant contact with a Russian agent who allegedly had dirt on Hillary Clinton and wanted to give Trump's campaign thousands of stolen emails. Papadopoulos continued his relationship with this Russian agent throughout his time working with Trump. An unnamed senior Trump campaign member apparently praised Papadopoulos' efforts.

Papadopoulos pleaded guilty some months ago and has presumably been "flipped" with the goal of helping Mueller's investigation into other members of Trump's inner circle.

In response, to Mueller's indictments, likely the first of many, Trump took to Twitter:
Sorry, but this is years ago, before Paul Manafort was part of the Trump campaign. But why aren't Crooked Hillary & the Dems the focus?????"

Of course this is a lie. Manafort worked for Trump's 2016 campaign, and the indictments include that time period.

Trump concluded his tweet: "Also, there is NO COLLUSION!"

These comments are a continuation of Trump's Twitter tantrum over the weekend. On Sunday he recycled a whole series right-wing talking points and conspiranoid fantasies about Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party pursuing a witch hunt against him. He also resurrected the fictitious claim that Hillary Clinton somehow gave away America's nuclear-grade uranium to Russia. In all, he railed against Clinton as though she were the president and he was the disgruntled loser of the 2016 presidential election.

Trump then reached an all-caps Twitter climax with two words: "DO SOMETHING!"

In a presidency that has reached one new low after another, an insatiable maw of embarrassing and shameful behavior, Trump's antics on Sunday and Monday are (almost) shocking.

Friday, October 27, 2017

A Conversation with Dorothy Kim about Eurocentrism and the White Supremacy Problem in Medieval Studies

Dr. Dorothy Kim is the guest on this week's episode of The Chauncey DeVega Show. She is an assistant professor of literature at Vassar College. Several months ago, Dr. Kim shared the following observations on the website In the Middle about the relationship between Eurocentrism, teaching, white supremacy, and the era of Donald Trump:
“If the medieval past (globally) is being weaponized for the aims of extreme, violent supremacist groups, what are you doing, medievalists, in your classrooms?....Because you are the authorities teaching medieval subjects in the classroom, you are, in fact, ideological arms dealers....Neutrality is not optional."
After making this intervention Dr. Kim was a victim of a right-wing smear campaign led by Milo Yiannopoulos.

During this week's episode of The Chauncey DeVega Show, Dr. Kim and Chauncey discuss how the classroom is an inherently political space, the ways that Eurocentrism and white supremacy are present in academic fields such as Medieval Studies, the modern origins of the concept of race, and the fundamental misunderstandings that white supremacists have about Europe's past. Dr. Kim also explains how digital culture is a fertile space for the white gaze and its distortions of European history.

In this week's episode, Chauncey DeVega explains how White House chief of staff John Kelly channeled the logic of a military coup in his defense of Donald Trump's racist and sexist lies about the war widow Myeshia Johnson and Representative Francesca Wilson. And during this week's episode Chauncey shares a story about a late night encounter with one of Trump's human trash monsters, how right-wing trolls had a public orgasm of anger in response to one of his recent essays, and the importance of psychologist Erich Fromm's observations about fascism and authoritarianism in this moment of national (and global) emergency. 

This episode with Dorothy Kim can be downloaded from Libysn and also listened to here.

The Chauncey DeVega Show is available on Itunes, Spotify and at Stitcher.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

An "Empty barrel": Kelly and Trump's racist and sexist war against black women

Donald Trump gets particularly upset when women or black people dare to disagree with him. So black women are the perfect targets for his ire.

To wit: Trump's enemies list of black women includes sports journalist Jemele Hill, Rep. Maxine Waters, former national security adviser Susan Rice and White House reporter April Ryan. Trump's newest enemies? Rep. Frederica Wilson, a Florida Democrat, and Myeshia Johnson, the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, an Army Special Forces sergeant who was killed in action Oct. 4 during a mission in the West African nation of Niger.

After being publicly shamed into contacting Myeshia Johnson -- Trump has evidently been negligent in reaching out to the families of soldiers killed under his command -- he told her during a phone conversation that her husband "knew what he was getting into when he signed up, but I guess it hurts anyway." It was also reported by those who heard the call that Trump apparently did not even refer to Sgt. Johnson by nameinstead saying, "your guy."

Myeshia Johnson, the slain soldier's aunt (who raised him after his mother died) and Rep. Wilson, a family friend, were all stunned by Trump's thoughtless and disrespectful comments. Facing public condemnation for his behavior, Trump, as he apparently always does, decided to attack Wilson, Myeshia Johnson and La David Johnson's aunt as liars. Of course the president also declared that this episode was another example of him being depicted unfairly by "fake news."

He has chosen Wilson as a special obsession for his rage. On Twitter, Trump has repeatedly described her as "wacky" and said she is "killing the Democrat Party." (Republicans almost never say "Democratic Party," for reasons of their own.)

In response to this debacle, Trump apparently instructed White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, a retired Marine Corps general, to appear in person at last Thursday's White House press briefing. Kelly's mission? To be a human shield for his boss. How? By enabling Trump's malignant narcissism, sociopathy, lies and cruel treatment towards a grieving war widow, her family and other loved ones. Despite claims about how "honorable" Kelly is, at least for that day he was Trump's water carrier and stooge.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

A Conversation with Lars Maischak about Free Speech, the Perils of Criticizing Donald Trump, and Threats to Intellectual Freedom

Dr. Lars Maischak is the guest on this week's episode of The Chauncey DeVega Show. He is a lecturer of history at Fresno State University. Several months ago, Maischak exercised his rights of free speech and said via the social media platform Twitter that "to save American democracy, Trump must hang. The sooner and the higher, the better.." After making those comments Maischak was targeted by a coordinated and systematic campaign of harassment--which included death threats--by right-wing activists and their trolls. Lars was then put on leave from Fresno State University and has now been removed from the classroom.  

During this week's episode of The Chauncey DeVega Show, Lars and Chauncey discuss fascism and Donald Trump's election as well as the explosive relationship between race, class, and white identity politics. Lars also shares his thoughts on free speech, academic freedom, and how the right-wing hate machine is working to silent dissent in the academy and other areas of American life. Lars also explains why he took to Twitter to express his disgust about Donald Trump's administration and what it was like to be harassed by the right-wing smear machine.

In this week's episode, Chauncey DeVega explains the real threat posed by former general and now Chief of Staff John Kelly's defense of Donald Trump's mean and cruel comments to war widow Myeshia Johnson. Chauncey also states clearly and plainly how Kelly's and Trump's lies and comments about Myeshia Johnson, her family, and Representive Frederica Wilson are just one more example of casual racism and sexism against black women in today's America. During this week's podcast Chauncey also offers his thoughts on the great new films "The Florida Project" and "Mudbound".

This episode with Lars Maischak can be downloaded from Libysn and also listened to here.

The Chauncey DeVega Show is available on Itunes, Spotify and at Stitcher.