AuthorTopic: The Surlynewz Channel  (Read 495767 times)

Offline Eddie

  • Administrator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 14332
    • View Profile
Re: The Surlynewz Channel
« Reply #2970 on: November 23, 2017, 08:38:02 AM »
Fascinating stuff.

 I get what the author is saying, but I can't help but think there is a subset of critical thinking people who are much better informed than they would have been in the age of print, because they have the desire and the  ability to dive deep into research on just about any topic that interests them. The autodidacts of the world, turned loose in a very much bigger library than ever existed in times past.

No doubt this group, though, is quite small in relative terms, to the kind of instantly bored, stimulation seeking (yet dumbed down) masses. So I postulate that the information superhighway sorts people in a new and interesting way. One direction lies scholarship. The other, info-tainment.

Kinky Friedman used to write about his friend Ratso, who "had every book ever written about Jesus and Hitler". Some of us are like that now. I know one person, for instance, who reads practically everything about climate change and renewables. I know another who is deeply immersed in our current politics. I now know almost everything there is to know about publicly traded cannabis companies.

But for everyone like that, there are probably a thousand who get their information from sources like Fox News or Brietbart, and have no clue that all the information they're accessing is carefully filtered, and a thousand more who just want to watch Netflix or surf Tumblr.



What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.

Offline agelbert

  • Global Moderator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 11391
    • View Profile
    • Renewable Rervolution
Re: WHAT TRUMP REALLY TOLD KISLYAK AFTER COMEY WAS CANNED
« Reply #2971 on: November 23, 2017, 11:20:30 AM »
EXCLUSIVE: WHAT TRUMP REALLY TOLD KISLYAK AFTER COMEY WAS CANNED

The Israeli Intelligence Community states that Trump betrayed them.

Of course.

Some very smart people knew this would happen over a year ago.



Trump win greeted with worldwide trepidation

But there is more. Are you aware of the fact that the U.S. was one of the three countries that just REFUSED to sign a U.N. Resolution condemning Nazi-ism? That was less than a week ago.

Trump is a NAZI, plain and simple. He will do ABSOLUTELY ANYTHING within his power to make Fascism GREAT again,






« Last Edit: November 23, 2017, 11:24:30 AM by agelbert »
Leges         Sine    Moribus      Vanae   
Faith,
if it has not works, is dead, being alone.

Offline agelbert

  • Global Moderator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 11391
    • View Profile
    • Renewable Rervolution
Re: The Surlynewz Channel
« Reply #2972 on: November 23, 2017, 12:25:28 PM »

Surly,

In the above, otherwise well written, article, there is a problem of perception that I first ran into in college when I was taking Social Sciences at Miami Dade Junior College (1965) shortly after I left West Point.

We were assigned to read a book (The Lonely Crowd) that you may have read, although I am certain the right wing 'greed is good' fanatics that frequent this site have never heard of it, no matter how much college or education they claim to have.

Quote
The Lonely Crowd is a 1950 sociological analysis by David Riesman, Nathan Glazer, and Reuel Denney. It is considered, along with White Collar: The American Middle Classes, written by Riesman's friend and colleague, C. Wright Mills, a landmark study of American character.[1]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lonely_Crowd

I read it. I did NOT just read the Cliff Notes. Beyond the snippet I just gave you from wikipedia, I did not review the book I read so many years ago to impress anybody here. I am responding to the article because that instantly retrieved "The Lonely Crowd" out of long term storage in my memory banks.

Here's the deal, Surly. A person is either driven by outside influences (peer pressure) or he is not. Yes, we all have a mixture of influences, both from without, and from within, that govern our behavior. But the ASSUMPTION that we are invariably governed by peer pressure is only valid if peer pressure ALWAYS overrides personal principles. Now, those Social Darwinst fascists at the helm of the media corporations that want to control our every whim probably believe that.

I do not. And you should not. A shit sandwich disguised as a chocolate chip cookie is still a shit sandwich, even if 40,000 bought and paid for bullshit artists are telling you otherwise.

What this boils down to is perception. The media fascists are attempting, as our gooberment and happy talk propaganda based social institutions have ALWAYS been trying to do (SEE: The Lonely Crowd), the "join the in crowd" con. They want us to feel "left out" if we do not do what "everybody else is doing".

But you and I know that everybody else is NOT "doing that". The polling of the American public makes it CRYSTAL CLEAR that they are on the right side of almost every issue of importance and value to an egalitarian socialist type government structure.

AND, most people, except for the allegedly big brained right wingers (like some who post here, who claim most people in the USA are ignorant rubes that swallow any bullshit, no matter how much it harms their best interests - how convenient for the right wing profit over people and planet Capitalist bastards.), DO REALIZE they are being handed a daily shit sandwich by the media and the gooberment.

Yeah, divide and conquer is what is going on. Yeah, they want to tear us apart. Yeah, they want to use the PERCEPTION (totally FALSE, but very convincing through bought and paid for repetition) that people who are guided by principle and not by the mob are outliers (i.e. anti-American/anti-Capitalist/Communists, etc. ad nauseum).

True, we all want to belong. But anyone who is willing to sacrifice their principles in order to "belong" is part of the problem, not part of the solution.

The article gives way to much weight to our need for peer group acceptance and ZERO weight to every average human's daily objective analysis of what is genuinely good for an individual and the society that he lives in (i.e. PRINCIPLED behavior).

I am not a Maslow robot. If the author believes that we humans, who certainly do possess base instincts that can, under certain conditions, be manipulated to our detriment and some bastard's profit (i.e. Capitalism), CANNOT function in any other way (i.e. Social Darwinsm is IT), then I must protest.

Social Darwinsim is NOT "IT". Maslow is NOT "IT".

We behave on principle or we perish. That is not hard to understand unless a person deliberately refuses to value principles because they deliberately refuse to give any value to morality based behavior. The book I read in college, The Lonely Crowd, TOTALLY missed the issue of principle. I said so then, even though I was an atheist at the time! LOL!

Yeah, I know Surly; I'm an outlier.
 
« Last Edit: November 23, 2017, 12:45:41 PM by agelbert »
Leges         Sine    Moribus      Vanae   
Faith,
if it has not works, is dead, being alone.

Offline Surly1

  • Administrator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 12794
    • View Profile
    • Doomstead Diner
John Samuel Tieman: Re-enactment
« Reply #2973 on: December 12, 2017, 04:36:17 AM »
John Samuel Tieman: Re-enactment

A friend invited me to a Civil War re-enactment. He was well meaning enough, although why he’d think that I, a Vietnam veteran, would enjoy such a thing, who knows?

Then he said, “It’s realistic.”

To which I replied, “You want realistic? Here’s realistic. Fill their rifles with real bullets and let them shoot each other’s guts out. But that’s not even the worst part.

“The one who lives, the dead guy’s war buddy, there’s where you’ll find your realism. The survivor, in five years he’ll think how his buddy would have graduated from college. In ten years, how his buddy would have started a family, bought a little house. In a park one day with his own kid, fifteen years from now, he’ll imagine how his buddy would shag some flies with a son.

“But he won’t. Because he died.

“Twenty years. Thirty. And on it goes until forty years from now, he visits a memorial and puts his hand on the cold stone of his war buddy’s name – re-enact that. That’s realistic.”


Copyright 2017 John Samuel Tieman

.

dff0860bc20a289c46eda7ade75fb02f

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline Surly1

  • Administrator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 12794
    • View Profile
    • Doomstead Diner
THE END IS ALREADY HERE
« Reply #2974 on: December 17, 2017, 04:23:55 AM »
THE END IS ALREADY HERE

The Nieman Journalism Lab is an attempt to help journalism figure out its future in an Internet age.

 
 
“Better to be consumed in the nuclear blast than to live rummaging among the ruins. Those of us still left in the business are the poor survivors. We’ve peered into the cannibals’ cellar.”
 

Here is how it will go. Men with no fewer than four boats and at least as many divorces, whose monetary interests are best served by going entirely unreported on, will continue to purchase existing media properties, either gutting them, running them into the ground, or rendering them effectively toothless, as we’ve seen with numerous alt-weeklies and newspapers throughout the country in the past few years.

Sometimes we won’t even know whose hand it is pulling the lever on the guillotine. The publications who would’ve reported on who bought the publications won’t exist anymore.

Dailies who aren’t already well ahead of the game in terms of reverting back to subscription models, or of significant enough national prominence, or don’t find their own relatively benevolent billionaire owner, will continue to either be neutered or flattened out by conglomerates into content distributors. The ones that don’t will buy some time, but will ultimately become vanity projects read only by people wealthy enough to remain interested in the superficial comings and goings of other wealthy people.

The internet will continue to become increasingly polarized to the point where we no longer merely dismiss the reporting from the other side that we find inconvenient, but we don’t even realize it exists anymore because they won’t penetrate our microscopically focused self-selected social media cocoons.

The last remaining source of local news will be the neighborhood-based Facebook groups people go to right now to complain about leaf-blowing imbroglios. Instead of asking what night of the week street parking is allowed, we’ll ask if anyone knows whether or not the rumors about the mayor’s horse-fucking dungeon are real, then we’ll be suspended for posting profanity.

With fewer checks on the remorseless, shameless, broke dicks on the local level, the worst people alive will graduate from their local grifting operations to the national stage unmolested by conscience or scandal, populating the halls of power with an even worse species of villain than we’ve previously imagined. Nothing anyone of us can now do will stop it. It’s too late. We’re pivoting and pivoting in a widening gyre.

There’s a trope in dystopian fiction and apocalyptic films where it’s almost worse to have survived for just a little longer than everyone else wiped out in the original disaster. Better to be consumed in the nuclear blast than to live rummaging among the ruins. Those of us still left in the business are the poor survivors. We’ve peered into the cannibals’ cellar.

What’s worse is that we are still pretending it didn’t happen. We’re fighting over pools of shit-water that have settled into the craters and bartering with dog meat under the mistaken impression we’re carrying the fire. On the plus side, there will be a lot more Stranger Things posts.

Luke O’Neil is a writer-at-large for Esquire.

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline Surly1

  • Administrator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 12794
    • View Profile
    • Doomstead Diner
Surlynewz 12/18
« Reply #2975 on: December 18, 2017, 11:21:47 AM »
An afternoon paper today...

Surlynewz 12/18

The SurlyZone

A collection of articles and notes of interest to one particular cynical observer.

  • Monday, Dec. 18, 2017
  • Next update in a day
  • Archives

 

 

The media today: Fox News’s intensifying anti-Mueller rhetoric raises concerns

avatar
Shared by
CJR

[url=http://www.cjr.org]www.cjr.org[/url] - Despite protestations to the contrary, President Trump is an avid watcher of cable television. Need evidence? Just this morning, he referenced his favorite show, Fox & Friends, in two tweets. What Tr…

 

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline Surly1

  • Administrator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 12794
    • View Profile
    • Doomstead Diner
Someone Explain To Me The Alien Alloys Before I Fucking Explode
« Reply #2976 on: December 18, 2017, 03:40:17 PM »
Thinking of AZ with this one.

Someone Explain To Me The Alien Alloys Before I Fucking Explode

Me.

Hello, hi, yes, hello. We’ve all seen this, right? This story in the New York Fucking Times about the Pentagon’s $22 million Oh Shit There Might Be Aliens program? We’ve all read it? We’ve all engaged with the evidence within the story, written in part by two journalists who have won Pulitzer Prizes for the New York Fucking Times, that suggests oh shit there might be aliens?

Good! I’m glad we’ve all seen the story. My question now is: What the fuck are we even doing right now? How are we all just going about our work on a Monday morning after seeing video—which was not taken by some yokel with a cell phone but by the ultra-sophisticated systems of a Super Hornet—of an extremely weird flying object speeding through our skies? How are we doing so after reading this testimonial from one of the pilots who encountered the object?

Hovering 50 feet above the churn was an aircraft of some kind — whitish — that was around 40 feet long and oval in shape. The craft was jumping around erratically, staying over the wave disturbance but not moving in any specific direction, Commander Fravor said. The disturbance looked like frothy waves and foam, as if the water were boiling.

Hahaha. Hahahahahah. Boy, isn’t that strange? What do you think the unidentified craft was doing out there on the ocean? Did you also see the part about the mysterious alloys that have been recovered by our government?

Under Mr. Bigelow’s direction, the company modified buildings in Las Vegas for the storage of metal alloys and other materials that Mr. Elizondo and program contractors said had been recovered from unidentified aerial phenomena. Researchers also studied people who said they had experienced physical effects from encounters with the objects and examined them for any physiological changes.

Ahhhhhhh. Hahahaha. [begins to sweat] The alloys! There are just ... alloys. The alloys are sitting in a facility in Las Vegas and we cannot identify what they are made out of. Look, here is one of the authors of the Times piece on MSNBC reiterating that the United States Government cannot determine what these alloys are:


<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/T-Dp1FzKods?ecver=1" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/T-Dp1FzKods?ecver=1</a>

So they just, uh, [sweating a lot more now] don’t know what’s going on with the alloys. They don’t know. The alloys are just sitting there, possibly causing physical reactions in people who have come into contact with them. These alloys sound pretty serious. The military seems to be taking these alloys very seriously:

A 2009 Pentagon briefing summary of the program prepared by its director at the time asserted that “what was considered science fiction is now science fact,” and that the United States was incapable of defending itself against some of the technologies discovered. Mr. Reid’s request for the special designation was denied.

[Sweating so profusely that I am now sitting in a puddle of my own anxiety] It’s Monday morning and I’m just going about my day!

 

 

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline agelbert

  • Global Moderator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 11391
    • View Profile
    • Renewable Rervolution
Someone Explain To Me The (Space) Alien interruption into my world view ...
« Reply #2977 on: December 18, 2017, 04:53:40 PM »
People like me, who have witnessed some of this strange stuff, have incorporated the fact that other people are out there that ain't from Earth.

It's part of the massive amount of info on reality out there that the arrogant 'we've got it all figured out' apex predator humans do not want to talk or think about. 

Yeah, they are out there. Yeah, they can fly circles around anything we've got and can zap out of existence any weapon we've got. So?

I do not have a clue who they are or what they are. But I know they are there and there is absolutely nothing we can do to change that fact. Since they don't mess with us too much, it's probably safe to just ignore them. They obviously decided it was more entertaining, or scientifically objective, to observe us than to zap us.

It's not a big deal for anybody except some arrogant Cretin that thinks humanity has to be the "apex predator" in this corner of the galaxy. If the high tech visitors make the MKings and Trumps of this world sweat, tough luck.



« Last Edit: December 18, 2017, 04:58:42 PM by agelbert »
Leges         Sine    Moribus      Vanae   
Faith,
if it has not works, is dead, being alone.

Offline Surly1

  • Administrator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 12794
    • View Profile
    • Doomstead Diner
A single vote leads to a rare tie for control of the Virginia legislature
« Reply #2978 on: December 19, 2017, 05:53:46 PM »
Dedicated to all of those who have argued that voting doesn't change anything. You are WRONG.

ONE vote-- ONE-- has changed the balance of legislative power in Virginia.

A single vote leads to a rare tie for control of the Virginia legislature

Democrat Simonds wins 94th District by a single vote after recount

Democrat Shelly Simonds emerged from the recount as the apparent winner in the 94th District of the House of Delegates. (WAVY News 10)

By Gregory S. Schneider December 19 at 6:38 PM

NEWPORT NEWS — The balance of power in Virginia’s legislature turned on a single vote in a recount Tuesday that flipped a seat in the House of Delegates from Republican to Democrat, leaving control of the lower chamber evenly split.

The outcome, which reverberated across Virginia, ends 17 years of GOP control of the House and forces Republicans into a rare episode of power sharing with Democrats that will refashion the political landscape in Richmond.

It was the culmination of last month’s Democratic wave that had already diminished Republican power in purple Virginia.

Democrat Shelly Simonds emerged from the recount as the apparent winner in the 94th House district, seizing the seat from Republican incumbent David Yancey. A three-judge panel still must certify the results, an event scheduled for Wednesday.

Of the 23,215 votes cast in the district on Election Day, Yancey held a tenuous lead of just 10 votes going into Tuesday’s recount.

But five tedious hours later, after painstaking counting overseen by local elections officials and the clerk of court, Yancey’s lead narrowed before it gradually disappeared and then reversed.

The final tally: 11,608 for Simonds to 11,607 for Yancey.

[Potential chaos ahead as control of House of Delegates hangs in balance ]

“I knew it was going to be a roller coaster ride and the counts were going to change and votes were going to shift around. but I had faith in the system and final outcome,” said Simonds, who stayed off Twitter to avoid anxiety. “This is part of a huge wave election in Virginia where voters came out in record numbers to force a change in Virginia, and I’m really proud to be part of that change.”

Power sharing in the House of Delegates is an awkward exercise; the last such arrangement was in 1998. Committee chairs have to be negotiated, as does the person who will serve as Speaker. With the parties split 50-50, there is no mechanism to break ties and any legislation short of 51 votes does not advance.

Republicans hold a slight 21-19 edge in the state Senate, but with a Democratic lieutenant governor to break ties, and a Democratic governor with veto power, Republicans may be forced to advance a more bipartisan agenda.

It’s a dramatic shift that caught even top Democrats by surprise. Republicans have controlled the 100-seat House since 2000; even outgoing Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a big cheerleader for his party, had thought the Republican edge was insurmountable.

2:26
The battle for the Virginia House and why it matters

Democrats are challenging the results of three races Republicans narrowly won on Nov. 7 in the state legislature. This is what you need to know.(Claritza Jimenez/The Washington Post)

But Democrats fired up by the election of Donald Trump turned out in big numbers on Election Day and ran as candidates in districts that hadn’t seen Democratic challengers in years.

That wave hit a new high mark with Tuesday’s recount.

“I don’t even live in the district but I am so excited, I can’t believe it,” said Susan Mariner, a Democrat who had come over from Virginia Beach just to see the recount.

Even election officials who had spent the day keeping order seemed rattled by the fact that such a momentous race could be settled in such dramatic fashion.

The old adage about how every vote counts is true, said Newport News Electoral Board Chairman Sean Devlin as he announced the official result. “Please make sure to stress that,” he said to the gathered reporters.

Both sides agreed that the recount went smoothly but as the day wore on, the humdrum trickle of a vote here and a vote there began to build to high tension.

[Virginia is holding recounts in four races; Here’s how they work ]

Volunteers had arrived at the Newport News city office building as early as 7:30 a.m. A conference room was outfitted with coffee, little buckets of candy and two massive ballot-scanning machines that the city rented for $15,000.

Teams of recount officials sat at four tables in the center of the room, with lawyers, the media and other onlookers kept along two walls. Each table featured two paid election officials - one selected by each party - and two volunteer observers, also one for each party.

Workers fed paper ballots into the machines one precinct at a time. Every time the machine couldn’t read a vote, it spit out the ballot. Those ballots were examined to determine if they carried a valid vote.

Of the 23 precincts, plus absentee and provisional ballots, there were only about 200 to 250 ballots that had to be examined by hand, Devlin said. Hour by hour, as each precinct was completed, workers posted the results on a white board. For much of the day, the result was either “no change” or “Simonds +1” next to one precinct after another.

Reporters and observers squinted to read the board and calculate what was happening to the total. Just when it seemed Simonds was eating away Yancey’s 10-vote margin, the Republican picked up a handful of votes to hold her off.

Lawyers for both sides, seated next to each other, were loose and joking in the morning.

But after a lunch break, the mood began to turn. Yancey stopped picking up votes - or when he did, Simonds matched him. With only three precincts left to count, Simonds had picked up 10 votes and Yancey had picked up four, preserving his lead.

Then Simonds picked up a few more. With one precinct to go, they appeared to be even.

“Anybody know what happens if it’s a tie?” one of the volunteers called out.

“It goes to the General Assembly,” Republican lawyer Trevor Stanley said.

In fact, in the event of a tied recount, Virginia law says the state board of elections chooses the winner by “determination by lot” – essentially, a coin toss.

By this time, he and the other lawyers were standing, pacing, talking in urgent tones into their phones. A shouting match erupted over whether the volunteer observers could talk to the election officials, and Devlin told the quarreling lawyers to quiet down or go outside.

At 3 p.m., Devlin told all the officials and observers to take their seats. The room had gone nearly silent, with all but one precinct in and Simonds showing a one-vote lead. Workers brought in a single box of absentee votes, then - with the whole room straining to see whether the whiteboard result would change - city registrar Vicki Lewis took the paperwork into a back room to go over the totals and check the math.

Twitter was in a frenzy but the results still weren’t final. At some point, word went around that the provisional ballots had changed nothing, and Simonds’ one-vote margin seemed to stand. The lawyers for the Republican edged outside with their phones.

By 3:20 p.m. Devlin announced the official results.

The process “appeared good,” said Stephen Klute, a volunteer for Yancey who was an offiical recount observer. He said he accepted the outcome. “Got to,” Klute said. “It’s the American way. The system works. So be it.”

Simonds had been waiting outside as the recount wound down, and said she wasn’t going to celebrate until she had confirmation from the city registrar.

She remembered how a Democrat named Jim Scott prevailed in a recount in 1991 to turn a 17-vote loss into a one-vote win – earning the nickname “Landslide Jim.”

“I may become Landslide Shelly,” she said. “As long as they call me delegate, I’m okay with it.”

Yancey, who was in Richmond at a committee hearing, can contest the results of the election with the legislature, a step that veteran lawmakers last recall happening in 1979. But GOP officials said that seems unlikely.

“We congratulate Delegate-elect Simonds and welcome her to this historic body. We also thank Delegate David Yancey for his distinguished service,” House Majority Leader Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights) and other Republican leaders said via email.

“The responsibilities of the House of Delegates as an institution transcend party labels, and our obligations to govern this Commonwealth remain,” the GOP leaders said. “We stand ready to establish a bipartisan framework under which the House can operate efficiently and effectively over the next two years.”

[A Democratic winner says it’s time for bipartisanship]

The House Republican statement dropped the “Speaker-designate” title they normally provide to Cox, who Republicans chose to lead them had they kept their majority. A GOP official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, said Republicans weren’t quite sure what the process would be for choosing the next speaker.

With the chamber tied, House Clerk G. Paul Nardo, as the only sitting officer of the House, will preside over the chamber until a speaker is elected. The speakership will go to whomever can get to 51 votes first.

Gretchen Heal, Yancey’s campaign manager and spokeswoman, left the recount without speaking to voters and did not immediately return a text message and e-mail seeking comment.

The final makeup of the legislature is not settled. Recounts in two additional races are taking place this week: on Wednesday in Richmond’s District 68, where the Democrat leads by 336 votes, and on Thursday in Fredericksburg’s District 28, where the Republican leads by 82 votes. Democrats are seeking a new election in that one because more than 100 voters were mistakenly given ballots for the wrong legislative district.

Fenit Nirappil and Laura Vozzella contributed to this story

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline agelbert

  • Global Moderator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 11391
    • View Profile
    • Renewable Rervolution
Re:A single vote leads to a rare tie for control of the Virginia legislature
« Reply #2979 on: December 19, 2017, 06:56:36 PM »
I hope the Repukians don't figure out a way to keep everything in gridlock.  8)
Leges         Sine    Moribus      Vanae   
Faith,
if it has not works, is dead, being alone.

Offline Surly1

  • Administrator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 12794
    • View Profile
    • Doomstead Diner
The FBI thought ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ was communist propaganda
« Reply #2980 on: December 21, 2017, 02:27:05 PM »
‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ is a holiday classic. The FBI thought it was communist propaganda.

‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ is a holiday classic. The FBI thought it was communist propaganda.

By Travis M. Andrews December 21 at 4:43 AM

Every holiday season, millions of people cozy up near a warm fireplace or at least a warm television to watch a familiar black-and-white tale, the 1946 classic “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

The film, which director Frank Capra considered his best, follows the down-on-his-luck George Bailey. He’s a businessman in the fictional town of Bedford Falls, who is about to lose his loan company to the rich, evil banker Mr. Potter. Bailey considers committing suicide on Christmas Eve, deciding his family and the townspeople would be better off without him. But a guardian angel appears. The angel presents Bailey an alternative timeline in which he doesn’t exist, showing the suicidal man how much he’s helped those around him.

With stars Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed, the movie was a commercial and critical success, earning five Oscar nominations, including one for best picture. In 1990, the Library of Congress inducted the film into the National Film Registry. It’s the perfect flick for the holidays: a touching story of how our actions affect everyone around us, and how everyone is an integral part of a community’s fabric.

The FBI didn’t see it that way.

Instead, J. Edgar Hoover’s Communist-hunting agents thought it was a Trojan horse sneaking anti-American propaganda to the masses. This argument was compiled in a memo written by an unnamed special agent in the FBI’s Los Angeles field office about “communist infiltration” of the motion picture industry.

From 1942 to 1958, the Los Angeles field office investigated more than 200 movies, fearing they had been turned into weapons of communist propaganda, as John A. Noakes wrote in “The Cold War and the Movies.” The FBI generally looked into films connected to personalities associated with the Communist Party, which is what drew them to “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

The FBI claimed that two of its screenwriters, Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, “were very close to known Communists and on one occasion in the recent past . . . practically lived with known Communists and were observed” eating lunch every day with “known Communists.”

So an agent watched the movie and wrote a report claiming it “represented a rather obvious attempt to discredit bankers.”

For example, the report said, the film cast Lionel Barrymore as Mr. Potter, the “‘scrooge-type’ so that he would be the most hated man in the picture.” On its face, that’s true: the plot wouldn’t work if the crowd were cheering for Potter to repossess Bailey’s business. But, the FBI agent claimed that according to “informants,” this was “a common trick used by Communists.”

The agent’s grievances didn’t stop there.

The report claimed the movie “deliberately maligned the upper class, attempting to show the people who had money were mean and despicable characters.”

The FBI argued the movie could have portrayed Mr. Potter as “following the rules as laid down by the State Bank Examiners in connection with making loans.”

Though the film was deemed subversive, not much came of the investigation. The FBI gave a report to the House Un-American Activities Committee, an investigative subcommittee of the House of Representatives established to suss out organizations and individuals with suspected communist ties. But HUAC, as it was called, chose not to take any action and allowed the movie to keep playing, according to Smithsonian magazine.

While the suspicion of the film was typical for the FBI during that era, a movie as popular as “It’s a Wonderful Life” will always launch a thousand interpretations.

For example, Birmingham City University criminology professor David Wilson wrote in the Guardian that he pops open a bottle of wine and watches the movie without his family every year because it’s “the closest an atheist can get to heaven.” Wilson called it “the least religious but most humanist film that you could ever see.”

On the other hand, Anne Morse wrote in the Christian Post the movie is “a magnificent cinematic depiction of the words of Jesus: ‘For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his own soul?’ (Matthew 16:26).”

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline Surly1

  • Administrator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 12794
    • View Profile
    • Doomstead Diner
Masha Gennen: The Most Frightening Aspect of Trump’s Tax Triumph
« Reply #2981 on: December 21, 2017, 03:01:17 PM »
If you're not familiar with the work of Masha Gessen, you might wish to make note.

She began contributing to The New Yorker in 2014, and became a staff writer in 2017. Gessen is the author of nine books, including “The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia,” which won the National Book Award in 2017; and “The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin.” Gessen has written about Russia, autocracy, L.G.B.T. rights, Vladimir Putin, and Donald Trump, among others. She has also been a science journalist. After more than twenty years as a journalist and editor in Moscow, Gessen has been living in New York since 2013. You'll see this on TV as a contributor. One smart cookie.

Here she takes on the festival of slurping blowjobs seen in DC yesterday for Our Dear and Glorious Leader.


The Most Frightening Aspect of Trump’s Tax Triumph


The Most Frightening Aspect of Trump’s Tax Triumph

By

12:34 P.M.

The lies told by powerful men—and the thanks heaped on the most powerful man of all—are the language of a dictatorship. Photograph by Evan Vucci / AP

 

Donald Trump has scored a legislative victory with staggering costs. The price of the tax bill has to be measured not only in the loss American society will face in the increase in inequality, in the impact on public health, and the growth of the deficit, but also in the damage to political culture inflicted by the spectacle of one powerful man after another telling lies of various sorts.

All along there has been Trump claiming that the bill was a “gift” to the middle class. That this assertion appears to have no basis in fact has not affected the President’s statements. The President’s Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, maintained that his department had run the numbers and had shown that the tax bill would pay for itself. It appears that he lied, not so much about the result of the Treasury’s study but about the existence of the study itself: the Timesreported last month that the analysis had not been done.

This was a Trumpian lie, which is distinct from other kinds of political lying. It might be called a power lie: its purpose is not to convince the audience of something that isn’t true but to demonstrate the power of the speaker. Trump tweets blatant lies, repeatedly, to show that he can—and that by virtue of his bully pulpit, his words, however absurd, always have consequences. Mnuchin showed that he can do the same thing, and that he has more power than the opposition.

The bill’s passage occasioned an orgy of false public ritual. It began when the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Ben Carson, led the Cabinet in prayer, which included offering thanks “for a President and for Cabinet members who are courageous” and “for the unity in Congress that has presented an opportunity for our economy to expand.” (Not a single Democrat, in either chamber of Congress, voted in favor of the bill.) Following the prayer, Trump called on his Vice-President the way a teacher might cold-call on a pupil. For a full two minutes, Pence dutifully offered thanks for the President’s “middle-class miracle”; he said that he was “deeply humbled, as your Vice-President, to be able to be here.” Trump looked stern as he listened, nodding slightly, his arms crossed below his chest.

Later in the day, the Republican leaders of both houses of Congress, the Vice-President, and other Republican politicians gathered at the White House to offer praise to their leader. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Paul Ryan, and others hailed Trump for setting records in judicial appointments and, now, for passing the tax bill. Representative Diane Black, of Tennessee, thanked Trump “for allowing us to have you as our President.” Orrin Hatch, of Utah, who has been in the Senate for forty years, predicted that the Trump Presidency will be “the greatest Presidency we have seen not only in generations but maybe ever.” Pence performed, too, again, addressing Trump: “You will make America great again.”

Political speeches are rarely occasions for truth-telling. But the good ones combine a description of shared reality with the expression of a vision, or with words of celebration. The mediocre ones consist of platitudes—well-intentioned but lacking the force of inspiration or recognition. And then there is the genre of the thoroughly insincere pronouncement that is all empty ritual. This is not normally observed in countries with functioning democratic institutions, because hollow words are the very opposite of accountability. These kinds of speeches are usually given in dictatorships: their intended audience is not the public but the tyrant. This is what we observed in Washington on Wednesday, and it’s the scariest part of Trump’s big tax triumph.

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline agelbert

  • Global Moderator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 11391
    • View Profile
    • Renewable Rervolution
Re: The Most Frightening Aspect of Trump’s Tax Triumph
« Reply #2982 on: December 21, 2017, 03:28:45 PM »
Yep. That's about the size of it. :(

Trump and his wrecking crew are TEXTBOOK AMERICAN FASCISTS, as defined by Henry Wallace several decades ago.
 


Leges         Sine    Moribus      Vanae   
Faith,
if it has not works, is dead, being alone.

Offline Surly1

  • Administrator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 12794
    • View Profile
    • Doomstead Diner
HOW TRUMP’S HORRIFIC WINE BECAME THE ULTIMATE METAPHOR FOR HIS PRESIDENCY
« Reply #2983 on: December 23, 2017, 04:58:26 AM »
“WELCH’S GRAPE JELLY WITH ALCOHOL”: HOW TRUMP’S HORRIFIC WINE BECAME THE ULTIMATE METAPHOR FOR HIS PRESIDENCY

After the deadly Charlottesville riots, Donald Trump responded by . . . plugging his family winery in Virginia. Aided by an expert oenophile, the author takes the bait—and tastes the pain.

‘I thought you needed something good to drink,” the server said, slipping two glasses of deep-ruby-red wine in front of me and my guest. My guest was a nationally known wine expert. The server wanted to apologize for the wines I had made my guest taste for the previous 90 minutes, which the server had brought to the table with mystified, foot-dragging reluctance.

We had come to the main restaurant of the Trump International Hotel, in Washington, D.C., to taste as many of the 11 wines bearing the Trump Winery label as we could. A few weeks later I again sampled Trump wines, this time at the suburban-mall-style Trump Grill—open only for lunch—in the basement of Trump Tower, in New York City. The red-marble and cheap-looking-dark-wood restaurant features views of busloads of Japanese and middle-American tourists trooping past the open-plan tables to the bathrooms. On the way they are obliged to pass by a shop, visible from the tables, featuring Trump T-shirts and baseball caps. The otherwise very nice servers at the Grill tend to run from the table if you ask questions about the few Trump wines on the menu. When I ate there recently, one server did promise to get me some information; after a while, he returned bearing postcards of wine bottles and scenes of Trump Winery, in Charlottesville, Virginia. Trump wines are in fact hard to find except online; the winery’s Web site charges $18 to $54 a bottle for most of what it sells. Several calls I made to the Charlottesville office to find places to buy Trump wines yielded only the two restaurants I’ve mentioned and a chain called Total Wine, which claims to be “the country’s largest independent retailer of fine wine” and has 173 stores in 21 states, most of them in suburbs. (A representative of Trump Winery says the wines are distributed to retailers and restaurants in approximately 25 states.)

This is not what you might expect from “one of the largest wineries in the United States,” as Donald Trump called it in a bizarre aside during a press conference following the deadly Charlottesville riots, in mid-August. Trump Winery isn’t even the largest winery in Virginia, going by the standard industry measurement of cases produced per year: at about 45,000, it is behind two other Virginia wineries that each produce 60,000 cases. Trump Winery’s claim, on its Web site, that it has the most acres planted in Vitis vinifera, the classic species of wine grape, of any East Coast vineyard, is also way off, according to the fact-checkers at PolitiFact. (Trump has 210 acres; Pindar, on Long Island—Long Island!—has 500, and produces almost double the number of cases.) In his press conference after Charlottesville, the president also called himself the owner of the Charlottesville winery. He certainly was the man who initially bought it, years ago, when he acquired it on the cheap from a bankrupt friend. But the owner today is his son Eric.

The Trump Winery grounds, in Charlottesville, Virginia. Below, offerings from the Trump label.

The Trump Winery grounds, in Charlottesville, Virginia. Below, offerings from the Trump label.

Photographs: Top, by Lynne Sladky/A.P. Images; Bottom, by Chet Strange/The New York Times/Redux.

In using the family winery to deflect questions about white supremacy after the deadly riots, the president did manage to plug yet another Trump product. A surprised nation wondered: How’s the wine?

Thus my invitation to the visiting wine expert, who is known for his bloodhound nose and encyclopedic knowledge of the world’s wines, and who actually likes Virginia wines. The Trump International, hard by the White House, occupies the Old Post Office building, with a glorious, soaring, sumptuously restored Romanesque-revival interior. Before the hotel became the reason people can now pronounce the word “emoluments,” its restaurant was a prime spot for power lunches. The renowned José Andrés was in the process of designing a new restaurant to go into the space when the not-yet-Republican-nominee referred to Mexican immigrants as rapists and drug dealers, and Andrés, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Spain, pulled out of the deal. The Trump Organization sued him for breach of contract, and the case got as far as a pre-inauguration deposition of the president-elect before it was settled out of court. Andrés has been conspicuously quiet about the president even as he showed up the administration by efficiently serving thousands of meals to Puerto Ricans without power or water in the wake of Hurricane Maria.

Now the restaurant is operated by David Burke, a New York chef and restaurateur, as a standard steak house. It serves stubbornly cold and hard popovers as a giveaway and large, overpriced portions of bland tuna tartare; Maryland crab cakes that taste of nothing other than pepper; and dull steaks. In contrast to the cheesy Trump Grill, in Manhattan, the fittings seem opulent, the service is professional, and the restaurant is fully staffed and overseen by a director of food and beverages who has the bluff heartiness of Sydney Greenstreet. The place brings to mind the grim bonhomie of Maxim’s in occupied Paris.

I certainly surprised and probably irritated the server by asking for each of the three Trump wines on the menu and also to see if there were any more kinds in the cellar. We drank through as many as we could get. With an anything-to-oblige-a-visiting-fireman shrug, the server turned up Trump wines not on the menu, and also analogous non-Trump wines for fair-comparison purposes, with my expert guest commenting on each one. 

The Trump version of Chardonnay? “Oaked up,” my friend said. “Sweet. Too much residual sugar. Harvested too ripe. Flabby. Really clumsy. Goes with the cuisine.” Expensive too: $68 a bottle at the restaurant for the 2015, $22 on the Web site for the 2016.

What about the 2015 Trump Meritage, a blend of red grapes that are “sourced,” meaning trucked in from the West Coast. The label calls it “American red wine”; it sells for $30 on the Web site. My guest tasted the Meritage: “Welch’s grape jelly with alcohol. A terrible, fumy, alcoholic nose. If I served you that on an airline you’d be mad.” (A buyer at a well-known Washington wine shop I later asked to evaluate the wines—he once sold Trump vodka, produced from 2005 to 2011, because he liked it—took one sip of the Meritage, wanted no more, and said, “Grocery-store wine.”) My guest went on, “They’re lying about the alcohol on the label.” He knew this, he explained, by a strange method of marching his two front fingers down his chest after he swallowed, saying that when he could feel the alcohol down to his belly button he knew it was 14 percent alcohol, which is what the label said. But this wine pushed his fingers below the belt. He knew the Meritage was 15 percent—and a 1 percent variance, oddly, is permitted on labels. “This’ll rip you,” he said.

THE EXPERT AND I DRANK THROUGH AS MANY TRUMP WINES AS WE COULD GET.

We tried Trump Winery’s far more expensive New World Reserve, made from a similar blend of red grapes but all grown in Charlottesville. The bottle has the words “estate bottled” and “Monticello” on the front and sells for $54 on the Web site. It was better than the Meritage. A server also brought us a glass of Trump Winery’s sparkling blanc de blanc, a calling card of any Virginia winery. “It’s fine,” my friend said. “No reserve, by which I mean flavors that keep unwinding like an onion skin. It doesn’t offend. I’d get drunk on it at a wedding.” He paused. “Let’s be honest. I’d get drunk on anything at a wedding.”

I managed to engage my friend and one server in a discussion of Virginia wines, which both admitted could be decent or, in the case of a few wine-makers, much better than decent. But the server did everything possible in the course of a long meal to steer us away from Trump wines. The idea had been to impress a famous guest, and serving him products from Trump Winery was not the way to do it. “We sell these,” the server said with a theatrical eye-roll, taking in the collection of glasses that by then were crowding our table, “because we have to.”

Illustration of Donald Trump.
Illustration by Barry Blitt.

Why wine—and why Charlottesville? Not because Donald Trump likes wine: he is a teetotaler. The official answer is that he was helping out an old friend in her moment of financial duress, giving new life to a dream project that had tanked just a decade after she poured into it much of her estimated $100 million divorce settlement. Patricia Kluge, raised in Iraq, the daughter of a British father and a mother who was half Chaldean and half Scottish, had married John Kluge, a self-made billionaire, in 1981, when she was 33 and he was 67. They bought up land in horsey Charlottesville, a short drive from Jefferson’s Monticello, and built a 45-room, 23,500-square-foot Georgian-style mansion where they entertained lavishly, using the golf course, the five lakes they constructed, and the game preserve they stocked. In 1990 they divorced, and nine years later, with her third husband, Patricia Kluge established a winery bearing her name. Her ambitions were simple: to make the best wine in the world.

Gabriele Rausse, the affable, Italian-born director of gardens and grounds at Monticello, worked as the Kluge wine-maker for the first 10 years, 1999 to 2009, and then consulted unpaid for an additional year and a half after Patricia Kluge went broke in the wake of the mortgage crisis. He recently recalled that when, at the outset, Kluge said she wanted to charge a stupendous $450 a bottle, “I told her, ‘If you put my name on it, you can charge $4.50. If you hire the best wine-maker in France as a consultant, you can try to charge $450.’ ” So he put her in touch with a famous wine-making friend from Champagne, and, Rausse recalls, she paid him “a crazy amount of money.” Word got out in the nascent local wine industry, which Rausse had helped build after arriving in Charlottesville, in 1976. That was a time when local wines left a lot to be desired. The first bottles he made, in 1978, he couldn’t give away: friends kept passing them along to other friends, fruitcake-style. The millions Kluge poured into her vineyard, Rausse said, made other wine-makers step up their game.

THE EXPERT SAID, “IF I SERVED YOU THAT ON AN AIRLINE YOU’D BE MAD.”

Now 72, Rausse is both frank and philosophical. “She was shooting for quality,” he says. “Her main mistake was that she wanted the best Cabernet Sauvignon in the world, but it needs four to five years to take off. She sold it right away, because she was short of money. It was a constant contradiction.” (A source close to Kluge says financial considerations played a part only after the financial crisis.) Even so, the wines, particularly the sparkling blanc de blanc, had some success, including being served at Chelsea Clinton’s wedding.

The real reason Trump helped out his old friend was the chance to buy the estate for a predatory price, so laughably low that the bank which had seized the house kept refusing his offers. So he went around them, buying 217 acres that surrounded the mansion—in effect, the front lawn—from the trustees for Kluge’s adopted son; then the 776-acre vineyard for $6.2 million, plus $1.7 million in equipment and leftover wine; then the mansion itself, for $6.5 million. Kluge had initially put the mansion alone on the market for $100 million. At the time of the sale, Rausse recalls, “she said, ‘Gabriele, don’t worry—he’s my friend.’ ” And, indeed, Trump hired Kluge as director of the winery. A year later, he fired her. Kluge, who now sells jewelry, called Town & Country’s Sam Dangremond last August to dis the wines after Trump made his preposterous claim about the winery’s size. “The wine is not good anymore,” she told Dangremond. “I have had several people in Palm Beach lament that it’s the only wine they have on the menu at Mar-a-Lago.” She did credit the official owner and current president of the winery for keeping up the grounds: Eric “is doing a great job at maintenance,” she said.

Rausse is still friends with the wine-makers and managers at Trump Winery, who include Monticello veterans. And he acknowledges the increased demand for the wine, even if it means buying grapes from other parts of the country to make it. “All my wine is made in Virginia,” mostly from grapes he grows himself, he says. (He produces 2,000 cases a year under his own name and consults for other Virginia wineries in addition to holding down his Monticello day job.) Rausse long ago bought land for a house just half a mile from the Trump Winery, and recounted a story of a tanker truck recently pulling into his driveway to ask directions. “The driver said, ‘I have 15,000 gallons of wine I need to bring to Trump, and I’m lost,’ ” Rausse recalled. His son pointed the driver down the road. It’s easier to “source” finished wine than it is to source grapes, especially when the truck has to come cross-country. Rausse, too, is careful to give credit to Eric Trump. “I’ve met the son three or four times,” he told me. “He is a person in control of himself. The father is not, in my opinion.”

A month after the Charlottesville riots, I spent a day at Monticello moderating panels on race and food—a theme I had chosen months before, as honorary chair of an annual event called the Heritage Harvest Festival. During a brief break I decided to sneak over to the Trump Winery, whose gates I had passed on previous trips, a short 20-minute drive away. Would my Park Slope-dwelling stepdaughter like to accompany me beyond the gates? “With a sledgehammer, maybe,” she replied. I instead took a young woman from Monticello who was a frequent drinker of Virginia wines and had happily visited the winery under the previous regime.

Eric Trump is certainly doing a good job of keeping up appearances: the rolling hills are emerald and manicured. As you drive in you can see three mansions in the far distance—but you can’t stroll beyond the patio outside the tasting room itself unless you rent the houses for catered affairs. No tours of the winery, either, though a young woman working there mentioned various events throughout the year that would include them. You can, however, stay in the 45-room main house, which has been converted into a hotel, where rooms range from $250 to $650 a night, depending on the season.

At the winery, two long bars, one on an enclosed patio where lunch is also served, offer tastings of four or five Trump wines, with the single wineglass you’re allowed to use presented to you at the end as a souvenir. We opted for the deluxe tasting, which a young woman led us through by rote. It ends with a wine called Cru, a Chardonnay fortified with brandy, which is “unique to Trump Winery” and, according to Rausse, started when he salvaged defective Chardonnay that had been stored in a faulty tank, and that Patricia Kluge refused to throw out, by distilling it and then adding grape juice at the next harvest. (Sources close to Kluge dispute the origin story; a Trump Winery representative says the current method is to mix fresh grape juice and Chardonnay brandy and age it in wooden barrels.) Cru sells for $34 a bottle as an aperitif to sip before dinner, when apparently buyers mistake the mud I tasted for depth. The young woman and an associate behind the counter radiated the freckled freshness of the sorority sisters they may have been—a common look in Charlottesville, and my similarly enthusiastic young guest talked with them about the fact that they had all visited and enjoyed the same tasteful tasting room back when it was Kluge Estates. The women who conducted the tastings had the forced cheer of cult members who never meant to sign up.

The cheer finally cracked when my guest asked them how business changed before and after the election. “Last summer was crazy,” one young woman said, meaning 2016. “Not now. Suddenly it’s political.” So customers want to talk politics? “Sometimes,” she said carefully. Her friend practically poked her in the ribs. “Constantly,” she said. “She’s sugarcoating. They want to talk at you, not to you.” The friend surveyed the predictably white, very casually dressed customers. “They’re tourists now,” she said. “They don’t want to drink. They want to say they were here.”

Even in the still-stunning setting, the wines suffer in isolation. The Viognier, the Virginia state specialty, was clean but tasteless; the rosé was water, the Chardonnay, the Cabernet, and the Meritage, alcoholic and sweet. At best the wines, such as the sparkling blanc de blanc and the Viognier, are, as my expert friend said, inoffensive; at worst, like the Cru, they demand to be spat out. “At the end of the day Trump wines suck,” my visiting friend said as our Washington dinner came to a close. “But they give a lot of good and loyal people paychecks.”

As we left, the young woman who’d guided us through the tasting handed me my glass, with a surprisingly discreet white decal of the winery’s name and logo—just a capital T. I’ll use it to toast this jobs program, but find something else to swallow.

FOLLOW

Follow to get the latest news and analysis about the players in your inbox.

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline Surly1

  • Administrator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 12794
    • View Profile
    • Doomstead Diner
The three things saving us from Trump
« Reply #2984 on: December 30, 2017, 07:50:12 AM »
More sunny fucking optimism.

The three things saving us from Trump


A young girl dances with an American flag in baggage claim. (Laura Buckman/Reuters)
By Ruth Marcus Deputy editorial page editor December 29 at 7:05 PM

As this appalling year limps to a close, with President Trump consistently underperforming even the lowest of expectations, a note of holiday cheer: Our country’s institutions and values have, so far, proven remarkably resilient.

This outcome was not a given; complacency that it will continue would be dangerous. And yet, after nearly a year of Trump, the warnings about incipient fascism and the insidious ways strongmen acquire power feel overblown. I suspected so from the start, but I wasn’t sure — nor should we be cocky about the future.

Still, for now, there are reasons for optimism in the performance of the media, the courts and, yes, even the Republican-dominated Congress — undergirded and reinforced by the American people.Sign up 

On the media: How scary it is to have a president who derides us as “the enemy of the American people.” To have a cable news network that inflames his worst instincts and recklessly flings suggestions of a “coup” by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. To have nearly half the public, egged on by Trump’s bellowing about “fake news,” believing that reporters simply invent negative stories about the president.

But while Trump & Co. went to war against the press, we went to work, to paraphrase Post Executive Editor Martin Baron. Without that work, the public would probably not know about: former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s contacts with the Russians; Donald Trump Jr.’s “I love it” meeting with a Russian lawyer peddling dirt on Hillary Clinton, and the president’s efforts to mislead people about the event; Trump’s description of fired FBI director James B. Comey as a “nut job” in a meeting with Russian officials in which he also divulged highly classified information. The list goes on.

And for all the Trump-fomented anger at and distrust of the media, the president has stirred up something else. For the first time in my career, people are thanking me and my colleagues for what we do, a development that is at once gratifying and unsettling. (It’s our job.) Digital subscriptions are soaring at The Post and the New York Times, which helps provide the resources for more rigorous reporting.

The courts have also stood their institutional ground — notwithstanding, and perhaps in response to, Trump’s demonstrated contempt for an independent judiciary. All three versions of Trump’s misguided effort to ban entry of citizens from certain Muslim-majority nations have been struck down by courts, although the Supreme Court has allowed the latest one to take effect while the litigation continues. So was his attempt to deny federal funding to so-called sanctuary cities. So was his cruel, ignorant effort to ban transgender people from serving in the military. So was his bid to prevent undocumented teenagers from exercising their right to abortion.

All of this could be ephemeral. The ideological balance of the Supreme Court is precarious, and the seat that was denied to President Barack Obama (and Merrick Garland) and occupied by Justice Neil M. Gorsuch will matter long after we are rid of Trump. In contrast to Trump’s incompetence in staffing up the executive branch, and with the exception of a few jaw-droppingly unqualified lower-court nominees, the Trump team has been diligent in filling the judicial vacancies Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) maneuvered to leave for him.

It is beyond naive to think that these changes won’t matter. But I am not — not yet? — disillusioned enough to believe that this transformation will leave the separation of powers and the rule of law defenseless. A Trump-infused judiciary will not always rule the way I would like, but I remain confident that even conservative judges and justices would resist his most authoritarian, unconstitutional impulses.

And speaking of separation of powers, there is Congress. It may strain optimism to consider congressional Republicans, with their rammed-through tax bill and fawning obeisance to Trump, as any kind of bulwark against his excesses.

Yet we have seen repeated episodes of congressional resistance, enough of it to make a difference, whether to manifestly unqualified judicial nominees or to ill-intentioned efforts to dismantle the health-care law. Even this Congress, even before the changes that 2018 may bring, has pursued investigations into Trump’s Russia ties and would rebel at any effort to fire Mueller or obstruct his probe, despite the current outcry.

I am not saying this has been a good year. Indeed, it was dreadful. But if Trump was even worse than we expected, our system, imperfect and battered as it is, withstood the onslaught. This is a terrible moment in our nation’s history, but I am betting it is just that — a moment, not a death knell.

Read more from Ruth Marcus’s archive, follow her on Twitter or subscribe to her updates on Facebook.

 
 
Ruth Marcus is a deputy editorial page editor for The Post. She also writes a weekly column and contributes to the PostPartisan blog.
Follow @RuthMarcus
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

 

Related Topics

  Subject / Started by Replies Last post
68 Replies
15709 Views
Last post November 09, 2017, 09:37:32 AM
by azozeo
1 Replies
983 Views
Last post June 12, 2015, 10:34:49 AM
by Eddie
7 Replies
1562 Views
Last post August 05, 2016, 09:29:55 PM
by RE