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Anger: The Operating System of Fascism

  I didn’t find much time to write over the holiday, so I’ve dredged up an oldie from the summer of 2021. This was well before we ever heard the word “angertainment,” a portmanteau just now entering the language. While it’s easy to apply such a word to the nutso antics of a Marjorie Taylor Greene or a Lauren Boebert, there is, as I wrote back then, something much more basic — and insidious — at work in the cynical manipulation of anger. Please excuse the references to events that were current then, but seem almost quaint now. Anger has long played a key role in authoritarian regimes. Since before Julius Caesar, slick propagandists with fascist agendas have routinely used the anger of the downtrodden to market lies and distract attention. The Republican party, taking full advantage of the ignorance and poor education of its constituency, has learned well how to gull the gullible into ignoring their own interests and focusing instead on their anger. Not th
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Three Witches Rock the Michigan Election

In March 2021, Ron Weiser, co-chair of the Michigan GOP, addressed the Republican Club of Oakland County, not far from where I live. It’s hard to overstate the lunacy of Michigan Republicans at that point, many of whom were up to their eyeballs in election denial, some of whom were suspects in election-related crimes, and sixteen of whom are now under federal investigation as fake electors. But in his speech, Weiser — who had himself narrowly escaped being charged with campaign finance violations — decided to bring some snark: “… Our job now is to soften up those three witches and make sure that when we have good candidates to run against them, that they are ready for the burning at the stake.” The “three witches” he was referring to, of course, were the three Democrats who had steered Michigan through the pandemic: Governor Gretchen Whitmer. Attorney General Dana Nessel. Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. All women. All with national spotlights. All smarter than anyone in

One More Atrocious Electoral Performance — From the Media

For me, the biggest surprise is how surprised they all were. Did the mainstream press really believe its own bullshit? Or were they just pretending to believe it? Let’s call out The New York Times and The Washington Post by name. Not because they’re better or worse than any of the other pushers of supposedly reputable journalism, but because they, of all people, should know better. They assured us that the midterms were about three things, and three only: inflation, gas prices, crime. Exactly the crap Republicans were peddling. And when they weren’t obsessing on those, they always found time to point out Biden’s low approval numbers — as if those numbers weren’t juiced by fraudulent polling, and by relentless rightwing assaults on his “failed presidency.” There were endless stories about those feckless Democrats, always in disarray, who were never quite able to “work across the aisle” with stochastic terrorists openly plotting to kill them. Democracy? Abort

This Election, Consider Going to Bed Early

As a blogger who habitually posts on Tuesday morning, it’s inevitable that some of those posts will fall on an election day. And here we are. Like many of you, I am once again in a state of high anxiety over the immediate future of American democracy. So while past history tells me I need to be glued to my TV — that I should turn the evening over to Rachel Maddow and Steve Kornacki — it’s unlikely they will be able to give me much meaningful information. Not tonight, anyway. Because, while it’s nerve-wracking enough that many results will remain uncounted, possibly for several days, the ones that are counted tonight could very well mislead us into thinking that Republicans have already succeeded in taking over the country. While this is indeed a possibility, it’s too soon to panic. What we’ll be seeing tonight is likely to be an illusion, the same “red mirage” that first surfaced in 2020, when the pandemic changed the dynamics, possibly forever, of both casting ballots and counti

The Mainstream Media Is Obsessed With Inflation

Let me direct your attention to a piece written, a little over a week ago, by the august Editorial Board of The Washington Post . The headline reads: Congress and Biden have to help the Fed fight inflation Note that the Board — in all its august-ness — is putting this imperative out there, without a shred of irony, two weeks before a midterm election. Even as Republicans everywhere are screaming “inflation” — with multiple exclamation points — in all media, all the time. Even as they pair that word with fraught adjectives of every stripe — ‘runaway,’ ‘relentless,’ ‘record-breaking,’ ‘crippling.’ Even as they make it into a bogeyman to terrify their idiot base into voting democracy out of office. But there’s no Republican argument so pathetic that the Post can’t give it voice. To the Board, these midterms are just one more clickbait-friendly, revenue-generating “horse race.” Nothing matters except who’s ahead, who’s behind, who’s fading, and who’s surging. And of course it’s not

It’s Okay to Feel Guilty About the World Cup

My wife Peggy, who is wonderfully indulgent of my fondness for European soccer, did not know the face on the TV screen. It was a face instantly recognizable to as many as two billion people all over the world. There are even several million Americans who could pick Pep Guardiola out of a crowd, but there are many more millions who’d mistake him for a distinguished professor, or maybe a hedge fund guru. Head coach of Manchester City, the best soccer team money can buy, Guardiola is a brilliant and charismatic figure, widely regarded as the best mind in the game. He is also, through no fault of his own, a pawn in the much larger game that Amnesty International calls ‘sportswashing.’ Sportswashing can be defined as the cynical use of sport to prettify the image of otherwise odious regimes. It’s practiced by dictatorships the world over — by Russia and China, to be sure, but also by the petro-kingdoms of the Middle East — all of whom have much to prettify. They make massive inves

If Jan 6 Was 'Practice,' It Didn’t Make Perfect

As it becomes clearer every day that the depravity of Donald Trump runs even deeper than we ever imagined, there is much conjecture about his ability to incite the violence he somehow thinks will extricate him from his legal problems. With heavy-duty criminal indictments now likely on at least five major fronts, in three major jurisdictions, we can’t help but wonder if his predictions of widespread violence are indeed credible. He did, after all, manage to summon a rather large swarm of armed miscreants for the Jan 6 capitol invasion, an event which now carries enormous symbolic value among his deluded supporters. On the other hand, Trump no longer controls the levers of power he enjoyed that day, while the organizers — and many of their followers — are now under indictment, on trial, in prison, or singing to the FBI. Is that reassuring to the reality-based community? Will one or more Trump indictments trigger widespread insurgency? Should we worry? I, for one, don’t think so