Friday links! Oh good, ethnic nationalism edition

Yeah, it looks like we're doing this.

Yeah, it looks like we’re doing this.

Donald Trump spoke for 75 minutes at the Republican National Convention last night, alternately aggrandizing himself, predicting doom, and assuring us he’d fix it. The theme of the evening was Make America One Again, which was a refreshing change from Monday’s theme, Make America Scared of Brown People. Yet Trump seemed to double down on separation. He adjusted his promised ban on Muslims to a ban on people from countries Muslim terrorists have “penetrated.” He did not mention any black lives that may have mattered, but he presented cop killing as epidemic, even though fewer officers have been murdered during the Obama administration than during any administration in the last 30 years. Then Trump promised to “end crime and violence very soon.” Today is Friday, and the Republican Party has nominated for president of the United States an ethnic nationalist campaigning on law and order. Won’t you consider fixing up the attic with me?

Continue reading

Zinke stands on principal before RNC, rolls over during

Commander Zinke addresses the RNC in front of an OS X Lion desktop.

Commander Zinke addresses the Republican convention before an OS X Lion desktop.

On Saturday, Rep. Ryan Zinke (R–MT) took the bravest stand of his political career. He resigned his position as a delegate to the Republican National Convention, citing his objection to a plank in the party platform that called for federal lands to be returned to the states. Commander Zinke feels strongly about federal land management, as befits an admirer of Teddy Roosevelt. It’s understandable that he kept his commitment to address the convention on Monday night, because pulling out 48 hours beforehand would be a dick move. Too bad the evening’s program turned out to be a parade of dicks, rubbing against each other until everyone was too sore and sticky to stand up any more, with Zinke coming in to mop up.

That’s an unpleasant metaphor, but it was a lot nicer than Monday night’s prime-time show. Zinke was scheduled to speak at 8:45pm EDT but didn’t take the stage until after 11:30. His openers included Rudolph Giuliani and the sheriff of Milwaukee County arguing that Black Lives Matter is racist, plus five different people whose relatives had been killed by illegal immigrants. The theme of the evening was “Make America safe again,” but the message was “black and brown people make America dangerous.” After his openers emptied the hall with hours of what Charles Pierce called weaponized grief, Zinke got up and did his SEAL schtick for six minutes, tacitly endorsing the craziness that came before.

It was disappointing to watch him do that after his courageous gesture last weekend. Why did Zinke stand on principle re: land management but not re: xenophobia, police brutality, or torture? That’s the question under inquiry in this week’s column in the Missoula Independent, which is a real criticism sandwich. I praise Zinke for taking a stand on our national parks. I praise him for being one of the few new Republicans with the biography to stand up to terror paranoia. But I criticize him for buying in, however passively. We’ll be back tomorrow with Friday links.

New Ghostbusters provokes widespread psychological reactance, narrowly focused laughter

What if the ghost librarian looked cooler and slimed her right away? That would be funny.

A scene from the new Ghostbusters, which wisely makes everything look more badass.

“[Psychological reactance is] the feeling you get when people try to stop you from doing something you’ve been doing, and you perceive that they have no right or justification for stopping you. So you redouble your efforts and do it even more, just to show that you don’t accept their domination. Men, in particular, are concerned to show that they do not accept domination.”

Prof. Johnathan Haidt, describing the phenomenon of psychological reactance to Thomas Edsall in the Times. Props to Ben al-Fowlkes for the link.

I have not seen the new Ghostbusters movie, so I cannot say if it is good or important. Judging by the trailer, the decision to cast women is the most interesting thing about it. I am not as interested in the promise of worse jokes but better effects, or in the decision to remake a hit from 30 years ago whose charms are not just fondly remembered but hard to explain. The first Ghostbusters should not have been good. I’m not sure lightning is going to strike that premise twice. Yet rather than not seeing the new Ghostbusters because it doesn’t look funny, large numbers of men are not seeing it because it’s “all women.” On Twitter, they are not seeing it so aggressively they sent threats and racist memes to Leslie Jones, who plays the black Ghostbuster who isn’t a scientist like the other three. After Twitter banned Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos for inciting the abuse, the hashtag #FreeMilo cast him as a victim of censorship. Clinical discussion of what makes people so awful after the jump.

Continue reading

No one in Trump campaign expected Melania to get caught



It would be unfair to ask Melania Trump to write her own speech for the Republican convention. As the third wife of a billionaire 25 years her senior, she was not selected for her oratory skills. And can you imagine what it would be like to start in a Slovenian village and go on to marry the loudest asshole in America? Between Sevnica and Cleveland, she probably did some things she did not at first enjoy. My point is that Melania is through working, and we should leave her to peacefully wait out this last year of her husband’s life. In the meantime, hire a ghostwriter. Newt Gingrich would do it for lunch, I bet, and you could get somebody really good for money. This brings us to the question of whom the Trump campaign got—because, as you’ve no doubt heard, a portion of Melania’s speech sounded just like Michelle Obama’s speech from 2008.

Continue reading

Trump exploits 60 Minutes appearance to render satire useless

An uploaded copy of a Twitter image of a screenshot of a Twitter ad

An uploaded copy of a Twitter image of a screenshot of a tweet

I have several questions about the advertisement pictured above. First of all, what was the worst Trump shirt designed by veterans? Did it say “Veterans stand behind, in front of, surrounding, but not technically in the same space as Donald Trump?” Was it just a dick with “Trump” written on it? Because this shirt has cleverly arranged the phrase “the D” into the shape of a dick, making me wonder if it was based on an existing design. Also, who is “she,” exactly? Judging by the styles pictured, these shirts come in two sizes: men’s medium and young child. I guess it’s funny to dress your four year-old daughter in this shirt, but you probably shouldn’t expose her to so much irony. Also, did you see Gawker’s supercut of Trump’s appearance with Mike Pence on 60 Minutes last night? Discourse after the jump.

Continue reading