Regarding World

David Frum on Trump’s Authoritarian Tendencies

Recorded on February 1st, 2017

If you think David Frum is being alarmist or hysterical about authoritarianism, ask yourself this: If this weren’t Trump and we were talking about some other would-be authoritarian who had the goal of seizing control of the U.S. government for their own enrichment, how would their maneuvers look different than what Trump and his advisors have orchestrated over the past few months, weeks and days?

Do not be lulled into apathy or fatigued by the series of shock-and-awe distractions of this administration. This is real.

Why Protest Every Little Thing?

Recorded on January 30th, 2017


As I stood in the crowd tonight at the ICE Out of RVA/sanctuary city protest outside the Richmond Federal Court House, I kept coming back to the question of what I was protesting exactly, and why I was there. I’m no expert on immigration or vetting or knowing precisely how dangerous a person must be before they should be denied entry into the US. All I have to go on is what little I can read in the free press, and what smarter people than me have figured out.

I’ve read arguments from said smart people that say: it’s not a Muslim ban/that’s not what the law says; it’s not necessarily all bad, it’s just that it was executed badly; it’s no worse than when Obama kept Iraqis out in 2011; it’s immoral/we should let everyone in, especially refugees; this is exactly what ISIS wants; the rest of the world hates us worse now; Germany has had it with us; this punishes the wrong people, etc.

After digesting those varied thoughts, the one constant underneath it all for me is: this executive order cannot be judged on its own. It is one more in a series of rushed, ill-conceived commandments handed down from a White House of deplorables, with the express purpose of exciting Trump’s base, inciting anger, and stoking chaos. Any calm talk and benefits-of-the-doubt about how necessary and effective it is go out the window, because Trump squandered any remaining cache of goodwill long before election night and he has only turned up the volume since. Now we also know how he and Bannon and Sessions intentionally rammed this through, secretly, and did an end-run around the key people who should have been consulted first and could have helped it go more smoothly (even though it’s still flat-out wrong). And they piled on lie after lie to attempt to make the ban sound more benign.

We must protest the ban immediately and continuously in order to shut it down as fast as possible, as we should do with almost every initiative Trump has in store. I want his cabinet appointments and executive orders and Supreme Court justices to fail — spectacularly. I want to wear him out so he gets tired and throws up his hands and gives in. We must put ourselves out there at these protests so we can be seen as often as possible, spreading the message that we reject all of this. All of it, because none of it is good.

As @sarahkendzior said,

They are not fighting for you. They are not fighting for the US. They are white supremacist kleptocrats who revel in sadism for its own sake

Trumpcast — Not the New Normal: How the Media Should Cover the Trump Presidency (Live Edition)

Recorded on January 30th, 2017

I do wish they had just used the phrase “free press” every time instead of “media”, but there’s good stuff in this episode of Trumpcast:

Live from the Skirball Center at New York University – A handful of New York’s top editors talk about how journalists and the media at large can play a bigger role in making sure that fact prevails over fiction in the coming months and years under a Trump administration.

This conversation was moderated by CNN’s Brian Stelter.

And the panel included: Jacob Weisberg, Chairman of The Slate Group and host/creator of Trumpcast, Lydia Polgreen, Huffington Post Borja Echevarría, VP and Editor in Chief, Univision Digital and David Remnick, Editor, The New Yorker

Profits from this event went to benefit the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Too Many Stories Like This One

Recorded on January 29th, 2017


I’ve read way too many sad, infuriating vignettes like this today. Why did this have to go down this way? Why be such a dick about the scope and timing of the ban? Who does this protect?

Phoning It In

Recorded on January 28th, 2017

Sometimes when it’s time to do our nightly art/writing/posting, we whine to each other, saying, “I don’t wanna do art. Art sucks. I’m tired. Bleah.” And then we tell each other to phone it in. This can have a double meaning, because we’re both good at using our literal phones to create whatever we’re going to post that night.

On top of that is the nagging feeling that none of this art matters, really. It’s something that could sneak up on us anytime, not just when the executive branch is run by buffoons.

But now, whoa. Now, I just feel like eating pizza every night, drinking one extra beer with dinner, getting a dog, buying whatever toys we want, and taking a nap on the couch, all because the endless parade of news tidbits arrives via wifi, each one more depressing and rage-inspiring than the last.

Is everyone with me? Does anyone have a creative spark left? My resistance flame surely hasn’t gone out, but that pilot light is about all I have in me these days. And it’s only been the first full week. Holy shit.

Today I heard Ari Shapiro ask David Brooks on All Things Considered what he thought Trump’s first-week executive actions told us about him. His response was:

“My expectations are never low enough… No matter how low you start, he exceeds them.”

That’s where everybody is right now, and it’s easy to get tired.

Sarah Kendzior Takes Down Breitbart

Recorded on January 26th, 2017

Instead of pointing out yet another disturbing thing going on with the orange one, I’ll link to something that feels good and gives me hope.

This is Sarah Kendzior, one of the smartest people I follow on Twitter. She’s a writer and scholar who knows more about authoritarianism than anyone I’ve ever seen. When she warns you about something that will happen, you listen. She’s been right about everything she’s predicted about DJT, going back a long time.

This clip is from a recent panel discussion in Denmark. She got into it with an editor from Breitbart.

Sarah Kendzior Highlight from News Xchange on Vimeo.

At Least Half a Million Strong

Recorded on January 22nd, 2017


Not only did we get ourselves up early, meet a lot of nice people, trek around our nation’s capital, stand up for each other and stand down ignorance, racism, isolationism, and sexism, we also burned a ton of calories! I’m so proud that we and hundreds of thousands of others were a part of this. Zero regrets.

America First

Recorded on January 20th, 2017

This is all I have to say about today’s “speech”:

Followed by:

Scrolling Through Twitter Is No Way to Go Through Life, Son

Recorded on January 19th, 2017

As Dean Wormer said,

“Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life, son.”

Likewise, reading all of the tweets from those on my crumbling-democracy list every night is no way to go through life. It’s one way to stay informed, and it’s perversely addictive, but the cost is high. I know I can’t and shouldn’t keep this up, but I will for at least a few more days. Then I promise — maybe — to dial it back.

The clip below has more humor than the #resist movement deserves, but I needed it tonight. The big difference here is that I think that what we’re doing is neither stupid nor futile. And we’re doing it in response to something dead serious.

Still, enjoy while you can.

That Thing with James Comey Is Complicated

Recorded on January 17th, 2017

What I know about James Comey and the motivations for his decisions to disclose or not disclose could fit on the head of a pin. As usual with posts from the Lawfare Blog, the real-life situation is vastly more complex than the headlines would suggest, and I learned some things by reading “Six Thoughts In Defense of James Comey” by Benjamin Wittes. Wittes and his Lawfare partner Susan Hennessey (though she didn’t write this piece) are two of the smartest people you’ll read throughout this whole mess. They are fiercely intelligent and non-crazy. Their sober analysis on a bunch of topics always reminds me how much more there is to stories like this one.

Still wish Comey had chosen differently right before the election, though.

The American People

Recorded on January 16th, 2017

I have a theory that there is a directly proportional relationship between how often someone uses the phrase, “the American people”, and how full of shit they are.

Just look at this transcript from the 1/15 Face the Nation interview with Mike Pence. He used the phrase six times within 15 minutes. (To be fair, John Dickerson used it one time.) It is a lazy way to hint that “well, my argument is unassailable because we’re talking about the American people here for crying out loud.” Using it reveals that the speaker knows he or she is wrong on some level.

Meryl Streep Went There

Recorded on January 8th, 2017

It is deeply unfortunate and wrong that someone as talented as Meryl Streep had to take time out of her Golden Globes award acceptance speech to speak about the pretender and the time he mocked a reporter with a disability. But here we are, and thank goodness she did. She didn’t even have to name him, because we all knew who she meant. Well done. Someone needed to say it.

Bill Perry and the Risk and Consequences of a Nuclear Event

Recorded on January 7th, 2017

What a downer I’m making 2017 out to be, you might think. Well, I prefer to think of it as just observing what’s real. This Politico piece — Bill Perry Is Terrified. Why Aren’t You? — will make you swallow hard and contemplate the current risks of what is always called “the unthinkable”: at a minimum, a nuclear explosion in a city; at the worst, all-out nuclear war.

Perry is a former secretary of Defense and has lived through nuclear close-calls in a way I don’t envy. I should probably figure out how to devote my life to his cause. Anything else I could write about the article would be superfluous.

On Jan. 20, We Will Be Less Safe

Recorded on January 4th, 2017


The tweet above is from George Little, former CIA spokesman.

I don’t know how else to feel about this other than terrified. Meanwhile, everyone is just going about their daily business like everything’s fine. Donald Trump is not a spy series we’re binge-watching on Netflix. This shit is real.

Yes, I’m obsessed. This daily tire fire is something I can’t look away from. None of us should let our guard down for one minute.

Misdirection By Trump

Recorded on January 2nd, 2017

Yesterday Trump gave us this gem when asked about the importance of cybersecurity:

“It’s very important, if you have something really important, write it out and have it delivered by courier, the old fashioned way because I’ll tell you what, no computer is safe.”

This is not an answer and has nothing to do with anything. He may as well have said, “The electrical grid isn’t safe from hacks, so if you don’t want it to be attacked, you light your house with candles.” Well, yeah, that sort of works, but that’s not how we’ve been doing it for decades and it doesn’t scale, so we need an actual answer to the problem. Plus, my analogy is actually not as dumb as Trump’s answer, because a courier could still be intercepted, especially when carrying an unencrypted piece of paper.

I don’t know why I’m trying to make sense of his non-answer since he clearly meant it as a distraction anyway. I guess the lesson is, don’t spill too much ink when he responds with gibberish except for the purpose of noting that the gibberish is only meant to confuse us and divert our attention from his bigger problems.