Rep. King: Can’t “restore civilization” with “somebody else’s babies”

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) describes a beautiful sandwich only white people can eat.

For the last year or so, Representative Steve King of Iowa has flirted with white nationalism. It’s the kind of flirting where you drink four cocktails and just start talking, although King was presumably sober in October when he tweeted that “cultural suicide by demographic transformation must end.” That was ominous. “Cultural suicide” and “demographic transformation” are vague terms, but the accompanying photo with European ethno-nationalists Frauke Petry and Geert Wilders offered a hint of what he meant. This weekend, the congressman praised Wilders again and got a little more explicit:

To paraphrase an old joke: What do you mean “we,” white man? The tweet raises some obvious questions. Who are we, again? And which babies aren’t ours? While we’re at it, we should probably figure out what the congressman means by “restore civilization,” considering that he is tweeting this message using a cell phone that distributes his words via a worldwide communication network to people who can read. Mad Max it ain’t. The questions about what King means by “we” and “our civilization” and “somebody else” lie at the heart of this tweet and, increasingly, his whole perspective.

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Toward a politics of pure opposition with Stephen Miller

Trump policy advisor and former Jeff Sessions aide Stephen Miller

Now that Donald Trump has issued an executive order banning refugees and visitors from seven Muslim countries, we might take a moment to get to know the man who wrote it, Stephen Miller. Miller is a 31 year-old former aide to Sen. Jeff Sessions who spent the last year warming up crowds for Trump on the campaign trail. In that capacity, he posited a vast left-wing conspiracy that centered on his candidate. For example:

That’s what this all comes down to: Everybody who stands against Donald Trump are the people who have been running the country into the ground, who have been controlling the levers of power. They’re the people who are responsible for our open borders, for our shrinking middle class, for our terrible trade deals. Everything that is wrong with this country today, the people who are opposed to Donald Trump are responsible for!

That’s from Julia Ioffe’s fascinating profile of Miller in Politico, which ran in June and advances the notion that he built his career on such accusations. As a student at Santa Monica High School after 9/11, he complained that students were not saying the Pledge of Allegiance on a daily basis. When administrators failed to accede to his demands, he called into conservative talk radio host Larry Elder to complain that they were anti-American. As a college student, he invited the ultra-conservative David Horowitz to speak at Duke, then claimed Horowitz had been banned by the university even though he hadn’t. In introducing the speaker, Miller read a list of university departments that had declined to contribute funding to the event. He seems to be working toward a pure politics: one animated not by particular issues but by a totalizing sense of conflict with the other side.

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Writing tip: Adding “man-” turns your complaint into a take

Women manspreading.

Yesterday, Twitter user and self-described strategic analyst Eric Garland posted a long, threaded rant about the condition of contemporary politics. It began with this tweet:

As you can see, it’s pretty popular. I came across it when it was shared by Clara Jeffery, editor of Mother Jones, who likened it to the Federalist Papers. She’s clearly the expert, but I disagree with her assessment. Garland doesn’t advance a point so much as vent his frustration. You can read the whole million-tweet thread on this Google doc, thoughtfully assembled by Libby Watson. It digresses. A wag might summarize his argument as “What is game theory?” But over at Gizmodo, Alana Hope Levinson takes issue with the <THREAD> part. Men, she admonishes, Please Stop Manthreading:

There is this thing that people (mostly men) love to do on Twitter, something other than harass women and send DMs of their half chubs. It’s called threading, and it’s one of the many things ruining my Twitter experience.

That last sentence is great, and I bet she meant it as a joke. Still, maybe it’s just because my gender requires me to think about few other problems, but I don’t like what Levinson is doing, here. You can attach “man” to any complaint about annoying public behavior and turn it into a take. Every writer knows this. But we have sworn in the darkened chambers of our society never to abuse it, the same way Masons promise not to kill anyone with a trowel.

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Circle of heroes expands to include CIA

CIA Director John Brennan defends the use of waterboarding in 2013.

On Friday, the CIA announced that “the consensus view” of US intelligence agencies is that Russia used computer hackers to influence the election in favor of Donald Trump. Democrats agree. Can you blame them? It’s comforting to think Americans didn’t really choose Trump. Like the Michigan recount, the CIA report holds out the possibility that last month’s disturbing vote didn’t really happen. And even if it did, blaming Russian cyberspies lets Democrats off the hook. They wouldn’t have lost to the worst major-party candidate in history, if Vladimir Putin hadn’t put his thumb on the scale. Never mind that we don’t know how much this possible Russian hacking actually influenced the election. The important thing is that the CIA is right, and to suggest that they might be mistaken is unconscionable. After all, those people are heroes:

Updated head count of sacred cows after the jump.

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Joke book “literally kills lives,” says person so right I cannot agree

A satirical cover from the recently-pulled Bad Little Children’s Books

Following accusations of racism, Abrams has taken the collection of satirical illustrations Bad Little Children’s Books off the market at the author’s request. The pseudonymous Arthur Gackley maintains that neither he nor his book is prejudiced, but that public outcry has made it impossible to have “the kind of dialogue I hoped to promote.” If that sounds suspiciously high-minded to you, you’ll love his quote in The Guardian:

This act of censorship is dangerous on so many levels, as free speech, satire and parody are tools to help make us a stronger society, not a more divided one.

Totally true re: speech and satire, but I question his use of the phrase “act of censorship.” When you pull your own book because people said you were a jerk for writing it, that’s not censorship. That’s free speech convincing you. I’m kind of surprised it did, though, because the speech used to condemn Bad Little Children’s Books seems like the wrong way to convince anybody. Example after the jump.

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