Snoop shoots “clown resembling Donald Trump,” unleashes anarchy

Wednesday

In the annals of FoxNews.com headlines, “Snoop Dogg shoots clown resembling Donald Trump in new music video” is a low-key classic. You don’t hear about a lot of clowns that resemble Mahatma Gandhi, or clowns resembling the brave men and women who died in 9/11. And “resembling” is such a pleasingly circumspect word, in contrast with the absurdity of everything else in this headline. Now is a fun time to remember that Fox News shares a parent company with The New York Post, who seem not to have reported on this event but would probably have done it differently. Anyway, I want to emphasize that Snoop Dogg shot a clown resembling Donald Trump in a music video, not in real life. That makes it a symbolic act—a message, probably. This theory is supported by S.D. Dogg’s remarks to Billboard:

I feel like it’s a lot of people making cool records, having fun, partying, but nobody’s dealing with the real issue with this fucking clown as president and the shit that we dealing with out here. So I wanted to take time out to push pause on a party record and make one of these records for the time being.

Notice how he assures us he’s working on a party record, too. Snoop has been doing this for a long time. Also, he sucks now. Or does he? This clown video is actually pretty…okay, I’m not willing to say it’s good. But I’m glad I watched it. Video after the jump.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Friday links! Extremely smart edition

A Smart Car

Statistically, the smartest human being who ever lived probably couldn’t read. Anatomically modern humans appeared about 200,000 years ago, meaning that for 95% of human history, written language didn’t even exist. The smartest human might easily have been born before spoken language. Perhaps she died of cholera in the 18th century, when the most brilliant minds of the western hemisphere agreed on the miasma theory of disease. Or maybe she lived in Kansas circa 1906, when only 6 percent of Americans graduated from high school. Perhaps she made terrible decisions about her life, routinely burned her hand while cooking, tripped over the threshold on her way out the door each morning and was just preternaturally good at playing the harpsichord. Today is Friday, and “smart” is a term so vague and relative as to bear no meaning. Won’t you look out for what’s dumb with me?

Continue reading

Representative Commander Ryan Zinke, R-Montana, a career

Ryan Zinke accidentally wanders in front of a flag while wearing a cowboy hat.

Montana sends only one delegate to the United States House of Representatives, and for the last two years it was Republican and former Navy SEAL Commander Ryan Zinke. Zinke won re-election in November, but he vacated his seat last week after the Senate confirmed him as President Trump’s Secretary of the Interior. Until we pick a new one via special election in May, Montana will go without representation in the House. This situation turns out to be not so different from the one we enjoyed already.

Zinke ends his career as a congressman having sponsored no bills that actually became law. That’s not so unusual for a freshman representative. What set him apart was his flair for the dramatic—his ability to present a wild caricature of Montana values while, again, not actually expressing those values in the form of legislation. But who cares about influencing the US government when your representative used to be a Navy SEAL? Sure, he missed 80 of 99 House votes after he was nominated for Interior. But he also gave us this photograph:

God, I’m going to miss that. Remember when he said President Obama shouldn’t have attended the Paris Climate Summit because it did nothing to stop ISIS? And then a few weeks later opposed background checks at gun shows, also because it wouldn’t stop ISIS? Communications from his office consistently referred to him as Commander Zinke instead of Representative Zinke—part of a relentless branding strategy that even extended to his duties as a rep. He co-sponsored the Draft American Daughters Act, a satirical bill to register women for the draft that expressed his opposition to letting them take combat specializations. This bill also did not pass. Again, nothing Commander Zinke proposed to the House ever passed. But what fun we had!

Now he runs the Department of the Interior, a position that will make his gung-ho performance art more difficult. It’s hard to connect the Interior to foreign terrorism. I believe Commander Zinke can keep making politics more like pro wrestling, though. It was a heartening sign when he rode a horse to his first day of work last week. Seriously—you can read all about it in this week’s column for the Missoula Independent. Montana has not lost much of a legislator, but we must bid farewell to one hell of a showman. I can’t say I agreed with his politics too often. But I love a character, and Commander Zinke has certainly been that. We’ll be back tomorrow with Friday links!

Hey, do you know about Beryl Markham?

Aviator and author Beryl Markham, who is great

One of my favorite books is West with the Night by Beryl Markham. It’s a kind of memoir, insofar as it is about her life as a bush pilot in and around Kenya after World War I. But while the author is lambently present in each chapter, it isn’t about her. It’s about flying airplanes, crashing airplanes, horses, the people of Africa, the other people of Africa who had exploited the first people just long enough to get weird about it, uppity customs agents in Italian Ethiopia—all the relentlessly particular details that make a life when someone is too busy living it to think about herself. Markham is present in the work the way a carpenter is present at the table. Even though it is definitely a memoir, I think of West With the Night as a collection of linked short stories, made a little more beautiful by the knowledge that they actually happened to the same woman.

Besides writing what I consider one of the ten best narrative works of the 20th century, she also flew solo from Europe to North America in 1936. She was the first woman ever to do it, although not the first to try. The vents on her fuel tank iced over in the 21st hour, and she crash-landed on Cape Breton Island to walk away with the record. Before that, she was the first licensed female racehorse trainer in Kenya. She was also publicly known to have fucked the queen’s uncle.

Anyway, you should buy West with the Night or check out a copy from your local library. Even though it’s great, it went out of print shortly after it was published. We’re lucky to have it today. To read Markham is to reenact her life in a way reminiscent of its signal moments. I imagine her over Canada as she realized her engines had stopped working, thinking “nope” and bringing that hunk of dead metal whistling to the ground. I picture her smirking as she leaves the wreck, miracle tacked onto miracle. She lived her life so willfully. It is our privilege to read her and will her back to life ourselves.