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France and Britain Just Gave the Finger to Fascism

There is now ample evidence that people with democratic systems of government actually like them, and would just as soon keep them, flaws and all. There seems to be a strong backlash occurring in several European countries, a trend toward shoring up democracies threatened by toxic authoritarian forces. In Poland last year, then in France and Britain last week, actual voters — as opposed to deeply compromised opinion polls — gave a big middle finger to the fascists in their midst. I don’t pretend to understand the electoral systems of these countries — let alone their political currents — but I’m struck by the apparent connections between different elections in different countries, and what they might be saying to us. I’ve spoken before of Poland , where ten years of vicious minority rule was overturned at the ballot box. A ban on abortion was the galvanizing issue — sound familiar? — and it brought an overwhelming number of voters to the polls, many for the fir
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The Trouble With “Going High”

  Michelle Obama famously said of Republicans, “When they go low, we go high.” While I applaud the sentiment, she may not have fully understood just how low Republicans might go, given enough time and money. I assume she and her husband have since adjusted that equation. Both are surely on Trump’s lengthy enemies list, and no amount of going high will count for much if he takes over. It's time for Democrats to rethink that approach. Being on the side of right and good doesn’t seem to be cutting it right now. I’m hearing a lot of hand-wringing about the fanatical low-ness of the fanatical right, but not much   about practical ways to deal with it. Our imagination has failed us. We never imagined people so vile. We knew such people existed, but felt surely they were only on “the fringes.” We ignored the warning signs. Now, the Supreme Court is finished with warning signs. If there were any questions remaining about the unacceptable direction they want to take

Democrats, Step Away from the Ledge

  Anxiety comes easily to Democrats. We’re highly practiced at perceiving a crisis, wanting to fix it immediately, and being consistently frustrated when we can’t. Democrats understand consequences, which is why we always have plenty to worry about. Republicans don’t give a rat’s ass about consequences — which is, let’s face it, their superpower. I wasn’t intending to write about last Thursday’s debate, mostly because I post on Tuesdays, and this could be old news by the time it gets to you. But then the New York Times weighed in with a wildly disingenuous editorial calling for Joe Biden to drop out of the race, and the rest of the mainstream media piled on. In the Times' not-so-humble opinion, Biden needs to consider “the good of the country,” something their own paper has repeatedly failed to do for almost a decade. And since this is now the crisis du jour for virtually every Democrat who watched that shitshow, I thought I might at l

Are America’s B.S. Detectors Finally Getting an Upgrade?

  Can a person acquire an immunity to propaganda? I’ve been wondering. It was Julia Ioffe who got me started. She wrote last week of the dwindling effectiveness of the Russian disinformation industry. She reports that the bot-farms that caused all the mischief in 2016 are now a shadow of their former selves. Ever since their founder and leader, Evgeny Prigozhin , was blown out of the sky last year, they’ve come under the control of Putin’s office, which means poor performance is now institutionalized. This can be seen in the messaging being disseminated by these so-called influence campaigns, which is almost comically inept. The content is focused exclusively on undermining support for Ukraine, a subject that couldn’t be less relevant to most Americans. Anyone who actually cares about Ukraine will just laugh at the fumbling English and feeble logic of the posts they’re seeing. But what really got me thinking was Ioffe’s assertion that these campaigns are old

The Twisted Vocabulary of the Pro-Death Movement

  The Dobbs decision, two years old next week, was a bomb dropped on American womanhood. The fallout from the explosion is being felt in so many ways — both overt and insidious — that it’s hard to keep track, even for those of us who keep track. Fortunately, we have Jessica Valenti to keep track for us. Ms. Valenti’s newsletter,  Abortion, Every Day, is now an important resource for understanding how the various states — mostly red, but also blue — are dealing with the very quintessence of hot-button issues. I’ve been particularly impressed with how she illuminates the through-the-looking-glass language of the anti-abortion forces, a rich vocabulary of euphemisms and code words that celebrate the unborn while threatening the lives of the born. Much of this vocabulary is worth passing on, as it gives us all a glimpse into the mindset of what I’ve taken to calling the pro-death movement. At the risk of repeating myself from past posts, I’ve italicized a few o

It Isn’t Easy to Hang a Jury

In the short time it took the jury to convict Donald Trump — ten or so hours — there was ample time, between Ozempic commercials, for cable TV’s legal pundits to speculate on the harrowing possibility of a hung jury. Surely, the thinking went, there would be a plant on the jury who would insist on acquittal, force a mistrial, and Trump would skate yet again. It didn’t happen, not this time. But as we look forward to a long trail of trials over the next several years, the subject will surely come up again. I’m here to tell you it’s not likely. Deadlocked juries are rare — roughly six percent of trials — and most of those are the result of poorly prepared cases. Even if a diehard Trump fan were to get on the jury, the chances of that person deadlocking it — or even wanting to — are not high. I had the chance to hang a jury once, and it created an ethical dilemma that I might have failed — or not. It isn’t often one is thrown into a room with eleven total strang

The Origin Story of the Pro-Death Movement

  Two weeks ago, I excoriated the New York Times for its heavy hand in election coverage, for compulsively favoring the horserace over the survival of the American Experiment. Of course, no sooner had I done that then they published the sort of eye-opening exposé that few journalistic organizations have the resources to pull off anymore. Which only served to underscore what we’ve been missing from the Times in this year of hair-raising silliness. It was a long and depressing article about the behind-the-scenes machinations that led to the fall of Roe v. Wade . It tells of a loose but vast movement of religious zealots, reactionary lawyers, and red-state legislators who saw the election of Donald Trump as the moment they’d been waiting for. Think of them as the pro-death movement: [T]hey had built an elite legal and ideological ecosystem of activists, organizations, lawmakers and pro bono lawyers around their cause. Their policy arms churned out legal argument