Trump’s lies are not the problem. It’s the millions who swallow them who really matter

From The Guardian UK:  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/feb/05/donald-trump-lies-belief-totalitarianism

As the alt-right continues to set the agenda in global politics at a frightening pace, has the world reverted to a 20th-century era of totalitarianism?

Saturday 4 February 2017

Compulsive liars shouldn’t frighten you. They can harm no one, if no one listens to them. Compulsive believers, on the other hand: they should terrify you. Believers are the liars’ enablers. Their votes give the demagogue his power. Their trust turns the charlatan into the president. Their credulity ensures that the propaganda of half-calculating and half-mad fanatics has the power to change the world.

How you see the believers determines how you fight them and seek to protect liberal society from its enemies. And I don’t just mean how you fight that object of liberal despair and conservative fantasies, the alternately despised and patronised white working class. Compulsive believers are not just rednecks. They include figures as elevated as the British prime minister and her cabinet. Before the EU referendum, a May administration would have responded to the hitherto unthinkable arrival of a US president who threatened Nato and indulged Putin by hugging Britain’s European allies close. But Brexit has thrown Britain’s European alliance into crisis. So English Conservative politicians must crush their doubts and believe with a desperate compulsion that the alleged “pragmatism” of Donald Trump will triumph over his undoubted extremism, a belief that to date has as much basis in fact as creationism.

Mainstream journalists are almost as credulous. After decades of imitating Jeremy Paxman and seizing on the trivial gaffes and small lies of largely harmless politicians, they are unable to cope with the fantastic lies of the new authoritarian movements. When confronted with men who lie so instinctively they believe their lies as they tell them, they can only insist on a fair hearing for the sake of “balance”. Their acceptance signals to the audience the unbelievable is worthy of belief.

“Rednecks” are also embarrassingly evident among Britain’s expensively educated conservative commentators, who cannot see how the world has changed. They say that of course they don’t support everything Trump does. Their throats cleared and backs covered, they insist that the real enemy is his “foaming” and “hysterical” critics whose opposition to the alt-right is not a legitimate protest by democratic citizens but an “elitist” denial of democracy itself.

Brecht wrote against the dangers of inertia in 1935 as Hitler was changing Germany beyond recognition : Even in fabled Atlantis, the night that the ocean engulfed it, The drowning still cried out for their slaves.

As their old world is engulfed now, the sluggish reflexes and limited minds of too many conservatives compel them to cry out against liberal hypocrisy, as if it were all that mattered. There is more than enough hypocrisy to go round. I must confess to wondering about the sincerity of those who protest against the collective punishment of Trump’s ban on visitors from Muslim countries but remain silent when Arab countries deny all Israeli Jews admission. I too would like to know why there was so little protest when Obama gave Iran funds to spend on the devastation of Syria. But the greatest hypocrisy is always to divert attention from what is staring you in the face today and may be kicking you in the teeth tomorrow.

The temptation to think it a new totalitarianism is too strong for many to resist. Despite readers reaching for Hannah Arendt and George Orwell, strictly speaking, the comparison with fascism and communism isn’t true. When I floated it with the great historian of Nazism, Sir Richard Evans, he almost sighed. It’s not just that there aren’t the death camps and torture chambers, he said. The street violence that brought fascists to power in Italy and Germany and the communists to power in Russia is absent today.

The 21st-century’s model for a strongman is a leader who makes opposition as hard as possible, as Orbán is trying to do in Hungary, but does not actually declare a dictatorship, for not even Putin has done that.

Continue reading at:  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/feb/05/donald-trump-lies-belief-totalitarianism

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Today We Are All Ma’ams: A Call for Old Lady Feminism

From The Forward:  http://forward.com/sisterhood/361886/today-we-are-all-maams-a-call-for-old-lady-feminism/?attribution=home-top-story-1-headline

by Phoebe Maltz Bovy

In an easily-overlooked story, Nebraska state senator Bill Kintner, a Republican, resigned after retweeting a photo of Women’s March protestors bearing anti-sexual-assault placards. “Ladies, I think you’re safe,” went the accompanying text, a reference to… gee, I wonder what might have been being referenced here? The point was that the protestors in question (who are, btw, real people) were older women, who, fine, as if this is remotely relevant, do not, as such, look like the women President Donald Trump has historically found grope-worthy.

Much could be said here — lots about how massively and troublingly that tweet gets rape wrong, even by rape-joke standards, and a bit here and there about how jobs these days, even under a Troll in Chief, get lost due to bad tweets, but not all that much, as there was, in this case, more to it. Mainly, though, the story highlights the awkward place of older women in feminism: dismissed by misogynists, but also, too often, by feminism itself, which, to market itself to a skeptical public, needs “fresh” faces and photogenic cover stories. Out with Hillary, in with the socially-aware teens who don’t seem awkward using internet slang. But not really in with them, for they, too, wind up dismissed, because after all, they’re just girls. In with the college women activists, whose jargon is on point, but not with them, either, because — as the detractor brigade regularly insists — aren’t college activists hilarious?

This week, New York Magazine’s The Cut has an excellent series on women and age. I particularly recommend Stella Bugbee’s entry, “Can Age-Shaming Be the Next Fat-Shaming?” Bugbee relates anti-aging measures she began at 25, adding, “Guess what? I still look 40.” It’s a timely topic precisely because of the generational undercurrents to ongoing intra-feminist conflicts, extending into the (seemingly eternal) Bernie vs Hillary battles and the more recent ones over the Women’s March.

To me, this is the crucial thing to remember, solidarity-wise: “Old age,” for women, begins so young. When you’re 22 or so, you hear (at least, I recall reading) that past 20, women are too old to be attractive, because (puts on amateur-evolutionary-psychologist troll voice) men are naturally drawn to very young women, a fact you’ll have to reconcile with all the unsolicited male attention even ordinary-looking women tend to get well past that age. By the time you enter the post-college workforce or graduate training, by the time you’re a “junior” member of any profession, you’re too old to be a fashion model. By 30, you’re full-on “ma’am,” an age-specific term with no male equivalent. (See the wonderful, and Jewishly-titled, Mary Tyler Moore episode, “Today I am a Ma’am.”) In one sense, how bleak! In another, it means that by the time a woman is, say, 65, or menopausal, or whichever other reasonably accepted threshold for ‘not a kid anymore,’ she’s had decades of experience as an “older” woman. Decades! If you’re a woman rather than a girl, you’re old.

This is why the time has come for Old Lady Feminism. For a feminism that directly addresses the continuity between getting the wrong (and inherently finite) sort of attention in professional contexts when one age and getting ignored at another. (On this, see Lisa Miller’s installment.) Or, rather, for a feminism that takes for granted the continuity between rape threats, you’re-too-pretty-to-have-opinions, and you’re-ugly-so-I’m-not-listening. A feminism that knows to automatically dismiss arguments about women’s achievements or ideas that center on entirely irrelevant facts about a woman’s biological clock or place in her menstrual cycle. (Just yesterday, a reader emailed urging me not to “get [my] tampon into a twist.”) A feminism that recognizes all of this for what it is: an attempt at keeping women down. To refocus our attentions onto our physicality, onto our appeal to men, precisely at the exact moments when those concerns interest us the least.

Phoebe Maltz Bovy edits the Sisterhood, and can be reached at bovy@forward.com. Her book, The Perils of “Privilege”, will be published by St. Martin’s Press in March 2017.

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A Yinnopoulos, Bannon, Trump Plot to Control American Universities?

From Robert Reich:  http://robertreich.org/post/156777888615

Robert Reich
Friday, February 3, 2017

The events at Berkeley Wednesday night have been a boon to Milos Yiannopoulos, of Breitbart News, and to Steve Bannon, formerly head of Breitbart News and now Trump’s consigliere.

As you may know, on Wednesday night, February 1, Berkeley gave Yiannopoulos a major forum to spout his racist and misogynistic vitriol. But police had to cancel the talk because about 150 masked agitators threw Molotov cocktails, smashed windows where Yiannopoulos was scheduled to speak, and threw rocks and fireworks at the police – delivering made-for-TV images of a riot.

According to a promotional Breitbart story that ran before the event, Yiannopoulos was going to “call for the withdrawal of federal grants and the prosecution of university officials who endanger their students with their policies.”

Which is exactly what Trump did via tweet early the next morning:: “If U.C. Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view — NO FEDERAL FUNDS?”

Thursday night, Yiannopoulos had a friendly interview on Fox News’s “Tucker Carlson Tonight” – a show that, according to the Washington Post, has ridden anger at left-wing activism into best-in-class prime time ratings.

Yiannopoulos wasn’t asked about the content of the speech that was shut down. The conversation focused instead on how Berkeley proved the point that the Left was ceding its right to federal grants by cracking down on free speech.

Which raises the possibility that Yiannopoulos and Brietbart were in cahoots with the agitators, in order to lay the groundwork for a Trump crackdown on universities and their federal funding.

Thursday night on CNN, I said “I wouldn’t bet against” that possibility. Almost immediately an indignant article appeared in Breitbart News, misleadingly headlined “Robert Reich Lies, Claims Breitbart News Organized Berkeley Riots.”

Continue reading at:  http://robertreich.org/post/156777888615

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84 Lumber Super Bowl Commercial – The Entire Journey

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Lady Gaga’s FULL Pepsi Zero Sugar Super Bowl LI Halftime Show | NFL

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