The Hate Machine (Open Thread)

This morning I did a Twitter rant that I think is worth sharing.

This week we’re seeing more of those advice articles for liberals on how to interact with the special snowflakes who voted for Trump.

Some of the articles come from conservatives who don’t know how to win gracefully.

Some come from well-intentioned liberals, like this one.

There may be some truth in all of them. The Vox article may be useful for dealing with your Trumpist uncle at Thanksgiving.

But turning people around one by one? Not a strategy for reaching voters, sorry.

So I have some advice for conservatives. SHUT OFF THE HATE MACHINE

By Hate Machine, I mean

  • Fox News
  • Sinclair Broadcasting
  • talk radio

The Hate Machine teaches that liberals are evil, and other lies. Listeners to Fox are poorly informed on factual matter, studies show.

The Hate Machine also models victim behavior. A poor snowflake commentator on Fox broke down in tears because people are so JUDGEMENTAL.

You can empathize with your Trumpist uncle on Thanksgiving and he will be back to Fox hate on Friday.

SHUT OFF THE HATE MACHINE Then we’ll be able to talk.

Coda: I’m willing to be civil with Trumpies, but I also point out the damage they’ve done.


And open thread!

Moral Clarity and Vanilla ISIS

Heather Heyer’s mom isn’t interested in talking to Trump:

Ms. Bro says she received “frantic messages” from Trump’s press secretaries during her daughter’s funeral (these fucking people!) and later that day; she was willing to speak to Trump at that point but simply missed his calls since she was occupied with burying her child, who was murdered by a Trump-supporting Nazi. But after seeing a clip of Trump drawing equivalence between her daughter and other counterprotesters and the white supremacist mob, Bro is no longer willing to speak to Trump. Good for her.

On the lighter side, Tina Fey has a suggestion for how sane people might respond to heavily armed white supremacist goons descending on their towns — eat cake:

And speaking of heavily armed white supremacist goons:

I am not a lawyer, and I realize the NRA has its bloody fingers wrapped around the throat of legislatures at the state and federal level. But doesn’t Omidyar have a point here? Wasn’t it a public safety issue when these militia goons swarmed through the center of Charlottesville?

Governor McAuliffe said the local cops were outgunned by the militia goons. Sounds like a public safety issue to me.

We may not be able to roll back these bugfuck-crazy open carry laws any time soon, but can’t cities and towns require unarmed participants as a condition of issuing permits for marches and demonstrations? I know when the RNC held its 2012 convention in Tampa, people were not allowed to bring concealed weapons into the convention zone, even though an NRA representative personally writes every piece of legislation that affects firearms, which our governor then rubber-stamps.

If gun-free zones are good enough for Republican Party delegates, by God, they should be good enough for city centers when homegrown Nazis assemble to spew hate speech. It won’t solve our Nazi problem, obviously — Vanilla ISIS can run people down in the street, as one of their number did in Charlottesville. But it’s a start.

Thirteen Names

The only extended time I lived outside of Florida was a few years I spent in Massachusetts in the late 80s. I moved there right after college (yes, I’m old — Mr. Catch-22 himself, Emmitt Smith, was a classmate — Go Gators!).

One lovely summer day during my Beantown sojourn, some friends and I took a ferry boat to Georges Island in Boston Harbor for a picnic. I knew nothing about the place. But a nice Park Services lady told us the island had once housed Confederate prisoners of war.

There was a small, modest monument to said Confederates who had died on the island. Just 13 names. I was startled to see that one of them was from Florida, like me, and he had MY last name.

Thanks to a great-uncle who set store by such things, I was well aware at that time of my ancestry on my mom’s side of the family, which included several Confederates as well as some virtuous Revolutionary War heroes. But seeing my father’s last name on a Confederate monument — in Massachusetts, of all places — was my first inkling of Confederates in my paternal line.

I was curious enough to check it out — not easy in those pre-internet days — and it turns out, yeah, the coal-shoveller on a Confederate steamboat who died on Georges Island was a relative. I suspect his short life sucked. I further suspect the Massachusetts winter rattled his bones, maybe even killed the poor sumbitch, more than 120 years before that same chill drove his descendant, me, back home to Florida.

But should Massachusetts maintain a memorial to the likes of my unlucky relative? To be fair, it is about as inoffensive a Confederate memorial as you’ll find on the planet, comprising mostly the names of the dead, like a tombstone. But whether to remove the monument or not is apparently a controversy in Massachusetts right now.

Well, if the input of a descendant of one of the 13 Confederate dead has any weight, Massachusetts, I say take it down. Why? For starters, it was put up under the auspices of the Daughters of the Confederacy, and the less you have to do with those myth-making coots, the better.

But more importantly, the monument is injected with the same poison that blights our fate as a country — the conceit that God had any part in the foul business of the Confederacy, and the insinuation that there was anything remotely honorable or noble about “the cause” it represented.

So take it down, Massachusetts. You have the blessing and encouragement of this descendant of the dead. But more importantly, you have the moral imperative of the living, and a responsibility to those yet to be born.

Tripling Down

Twitler’s on a tear this morning. He began by attacking two fellow Republicans (Senators Flake and Graham) and urging their constituents to boot them out of office. Then he moved on to decrying the removal of monuments to white supremacists and again compared founding fathers to the traitors who attempted to destroy the country:

You know Kelly & Co. are itching to Gorilla Glue oven mitts onto Trump’s teeny-tiny hands. But I’m glad he’s letting his freak flag fly for another news cycle.

This is the unstable, vindictive, racist goon the Republican Party rallied around as their standard bearer. They should marinate in his indefensible awfulness.

He’s right about one thing — you can’t change history, but you can learn from it. I hope the lesson of the Trump Error is clear: Electing an unhinged demagogue is a catastrophic mistake, even if his opponent once used a private email server and was seen as too friendly with Wall Street types.

Evening Open Thread

The stuff is hitting the fan too fast for me, but here are tonight’s developments, each of which might have occasioned a week’s worth of coverage in that alternative world we lived in only a year ago.

Steve Bannon called the editor of the liberal American Prospect and talked like he is really the President of the United States. Twitter tells me the site is down, but I have a page up in my tabs, so if you can’t reach it, say so in the comments, and I’ll quote more.

“To me,” Bannon said, “the economic war with China is everything. And we have to be maniacally focused on that. If we continue to lose it, we’re five years away, I think, ten years at the most, of hitting an inflection point from which we’ll never be able to recover.”

Bannon’s plan of attack includes: a complaint under Section 301 of the 1974 Trade Act against Chinese coercion of technology transfers from American corporations doing business there, and follow-up complaints against steel and aluminum dumping. “We’re going to run the tables on these guys. We’ve come to the conclusion that they’re in an economic war and they’re crushing us.”

Trump Lawyer Forwards Email Echoing Secessionist Rhetoric

The email forwarded by John Dowd, who is leading the president’s legal team, painted the Confederate general Robert E. Lee in glowing terms and equated the South’s rebellion to that of the American Revolution against England. Its subject line — “The Information that Validates President Trump on Charlottesville” — was a reference to comments Mr. Trump made earlier this week in the aftermath of protests in the Virginia college town.

“You cannot be against General Lee and be for General Washington,” the email reads, “there literally is no difference between the two men.”

And, finally for me, although you may have found other insanities out there,

Juror No. 77: You’d Have To Convince Me He Was Innocent Rather Than Guilty

It turns out the sketch artists weren’t the only people in the courtroom who hated Martin Shkreli, as these notes from the jury selection are just all kinds of amazing (Brafman is Shkreli’s lawyer):

the court: The purpose of jury selection is to ensure fairness and impartiality in this case. If you think that you could not be fair and impartial, it is your duty to tell me. All right. Juror Number 1.

juror no. 1: I’m aware of the defendant and I hate him.

benjamin brafman: I’m sorry.

juror no. 1: I think he’s a greedy little man.


juror no. 52: When I walked in here today I looked at him, and in my head, that’s a snake — not knowing who he was. I just walked in and looked right at him and that’s a snake.

brafman: So much for the presumption of innocence.

the court: We will excuse Juror Number 52. Juror Number 67?


juror no. 77: From everything I’ve seen on the news, everything I’ve read, I believe the defendant is the face of corporate greed in America.

brafman: We would object.

juror no. 77: You’d have to convince me he was innocent rather than guilty.

the court: I will excuse this juror. Hello, Juror Number 125.

juror no. 125: I’ve read extensively about Martin’s shameful past and his ripping off sick people and it hits close to me. I have a mother with epilepsy, a grandmother with Alzheimer’s, and a brother with multiple sclerosis. I think somebody that’s dealt in those things deserves to go to jail.

the court: Just to be clear, he’s not being charged with anything relating to the pricing of pharmaceuticals.

juror no. 125: I understand that, but I already sense the man is guilty.

And my personal favorite:

the court: Then I will excuse you from this case. Juror Number 10, please come forward.

juror no. 10: The only thing I’d be impartial about is what prison this guy goes to.

the court: Okay. We will excuse you.


Wednesday Evening Open Thread: Joke O’Keefe Strikes (Himself) Again!

Lest we forget — being a Republican means never learning anything from one’s mistakes. Jane Mayer, in the New Yorker, on a repeat offender:

James O’Keefe III, the conservative activist famous for undercover stings, has dedicated his life to exposing the “misconduct” of others. But he’s developed a side business in accidentally exposing his own. In the latest chapter of his strange career, the League of Conservation Voters, a national environmental-advocacy group, has filed a complaint against three individuals who infiltrated its operations, at least two of whom, the group alleges, “could be associated with” O’Keefe and have past ties to him. The group’s leaders recently began to suspect that they were being scammed, and decided to go to the authorities before O’Keefe or his alleged associates released any material on their own.

In a six-page letter of complaint sent to the California Department of Justice on Friday, the League of Conservation Voters, or L.C.V., asked the state’s attorney general, Xavier Becerra, to open a criminal investigation into the operatives for potential fraud, racketeering, unfair business practices, trespassing, invasion of privacy, and possible violation of the state’s two-way-consent eavesdropping laws. The environmental group filed the letter in California because the “imposters,” as it labelled the operatives, first made contact with the organization through its state branch in the San Francisco Bay Area. A spokesperson for the California Department of Justice declined to comment, as is its policy on potential criminal investigations.

O’Keefe, whom I reached by phone on Tuesday, said that he was unaware of the letter and otherwise declined to discuss the matter. “I don’t comment on investigations real or imagined, or work with mainstream reporters who operate in bad faith,” he told me. In 2016, I wrote an article for this magazine about O’Keefe’s bungled attempt to sting George Soros’s Open Society Foundations, a liberal nonprofit group that O’Keefe had targeted.

L.C.V.’s letter describes an elaborate, six-month-long scheme. It alleges that the three operatives created false personas—backed up with fake Facebook, LinkedIn, and e-mail accounts—under which they met with “dozens” of the group’s staffers, board members, and donors, and gained access to “confidential” information. According to the letter, “at least two” of the individuals, who are identified as Christian Hartsock and Daniel Sandini, have reportedly worked with O’Keefe in the past, though L.C.V.’s letter acknowledges that the group doesn’t know whether O’Keefe was directly involved in the sting or merely inspired a copycat operation. Hartsock and Sandini also have connections to Stephen K. Bannon, President Trump’s chief political adviser: they both received film credits in “Occupy Unmasked,” a 2012 documentary directed by Bannon. The film’s cast notes describe Hartsock as a longtime collaborator of O’Keefe’s and a “protégé” of Andrew Breitbart, the late founder of the right-wing Web site Breitbart News, which Bannon ran prior to joining Trump’s Presidential campaign last year. They also say that Sandini is “inspired by Andrew Breitbart and James O’Keefe.” The third individual named in the letter, Ann Vandersteel, is a conservative online commentator who has promoted conspiracy theories including “Pizzagate,” the election-season right-wing fantasy that claimed Hillary Clinton’s campaign was running a child-molestation ring in the basement of a Washington pizza parlor that, among other things, has no basement. (Hartsock declined to comment for this article, and attempts to reach Sandini and Vandersteel were unsuccessful.)…

According to the letter, the scheme began last December, when Hartsock approached L.C.V.’s Oakland, California, office pretending to be a man named Trent Maynard. He allegedly said that he represented a wealthy but politically inexperienced donor who had been motivated by Trump’s election to give to progressive causes. Hartsock presented a fake business card and mentioned that his donor friend wanted to be introduced to environmental leaders and elected officials. Soon after, L.C.V. staffers invited Hartsock to attend an Inauguration Day fundraiser for environmental groups, where he mingled with various progressive leaders…

The L.C.V. staff found some of Sandini’s behavior bizarre. At one L.C.V. event, he seemed inexplicably disappointed when he wasn’t able to present a pair of cufflinks to the California Senate’s president pro tempore, Kevin de León, after de León failed to show. The staff also noticed that he had a habit of leaving his cufflinks, and his phone, on tables during get-togethers, which, according to L.C.V.’s letter, “raises the possibility that we have been recorded without consent. We are deeply concerned that if surreptitious, unauthorized videos or recordings were made, these individuals could make deceptive edits to create unfair, malicious, and false impressions.”…

Beats looking for an honest job, I guess.

Apart from casting a cold eye on all the little criminals, what’s on the agenda for the evening?