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    • The Slow Bipartisan Slide to Authoritarianism
      The funniest thing about Trump are those who feel he is of a piece, separate from American history, and somehow a break from it.  That this government is significantly qualitatively worse than those that came before, rather than an extension of it. (A good example is immigration policy, in which Trump is somewhat worse than […]
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Flyover Country


Our houses are protected by the good Lord and a gun
And you might meet ’em both if you show up here not welcome son
Our necks are burnt, our roads are dirt and our trucks ain’t clean
The dogs run lose, we smoke, we chew and fry everything
Out here, way out here

We won’t take a dime if we ain’t earned it
When it comes to weight brother we pull our own
If it’s our backwoods way of livin’ you’re concerned with
You can leave us alone
We’re about John Wayne, Johnny Cash and John Deere
Way out here

We got a fightin’ side a mile wide but we pray for peace
‘Cause it’s mostly us that end up servin’ overseas
If it was up to me I’d love to see this country run
Like it used to be, oughta be, just like it’s done
Out here, way out here


Among the many things that set our so-called elites apart from “the great unwashed” is that rednecks feel absolutely no shame about their humble origins.

These American proletarians ain’t too proud to ask advice, but they don’t want nobody telling them what to do. Some of them may not know what the word “hubris” means, but they understand the concept of overweening pride. They call it being “too big for your britches.”

Pretty much all of them have been to a big city at least once or twice. They watch television, wear shoes and know how to read. Hardly any of them are married to their cousins.

Even when they go off to fancy ivy-covered colleges and universities to get edjamucated they don’t start “puttin’ on airs” and thinking they’re better than other people. They might have a post-grad degree and make lots of money but they still drink beer, call a violin a fiddle and eat BBQ with their bare hands.

They vote, too.

When Barack Obama talks about his (allegedly but not really) impoverished childhood, he does it to say “Look how far I’ve come, aren’t I wonderful?

When Bill Clinton talks about his childhood he’s saying “I haven’t forgotten where I came from.

That’s one big difference between the Man from Hope and the guy selling Hopenchange®.


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Sexism? What sexism?


The picture above is NOT A PARODY, it is the actual cover of Mother Jones magazine, a periodical named for a feminist icon:

Mary Harris “Mother” Jones (August 1, 1837 – November 30, 1930), born in Cork, Ireland, was a prominent American labor and community organizer, who helped co-ordinate major strikes and co-founded the Industrial Workers of the World. Her activities were done under the moniker of Mother Jones, after which Mother Jones magazine is named.

But it’s all good, because two women (Monika Bauerlein and Clara Jeffery) came up with the idea and another woman was the illustrator:


It’s not that there aren’t enough clues on the cover of the new issue of Mother Jones—the headline, for one—but since you (well, a couple of you) asked: Yes, that is a full-throated homage to the B movie classic Attack of the 50-Foot Woman. If you’re like us, your knowledge of American cinema doesn’t encompass the full plot of this 1958 gem, but suffice to say that it involves a wealthy heiress, Nancy Archer, who after an encounter with an alien is found on the roof of her pool house and soon grows into a giantess. She goes searching for her no-good husband and his mistress, Honey Parker (!), and mayhem ensues. We liked the image because of the subtle historical echoes and… oh, who are we kidding: We liked it because the poster is awesome. (The echoes, though, are there: 1958 was an election year, in a recession, that dealt the president’s party a big string of defeats and launched the Senate careers of, among others, Gene McCarthy, Robert Byrd, and Edmund Muskie.)

MoJo’s creative director Tim Luddy encouraged illustrator Zina Saunders to follow the poster out the window in tone and feel, tweaking only the landscape to look more suburban. Saunders, who by the looks of her gallery has been mildly obsessed with Sarah Palin (to terrific effect) took the assignment very seriously, at one point sending a picture of Palin in her beauty-contestant days to confirm that she’d gotten the proportions right.

So what if they portrayed the most popular female Republican in the country as a monster in a miniskirt? When women do it it’s okay.  Besides, they got the proportions right.  That’s what really matters.

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October 26, 2010: Happy Birthday, Hillary!

Hillary in Kosovo, October 13, 2010

Remember Maya Angelou’s poem for Hillary:

State Package for Hillary Clinton

You may write me down in history

With your bitter, twisted lies,

You may tread me in the very dirt

But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

This is not the first time you have seen Hillary Clinton seemingly at her wits’ end, but she has always risen, always risen, don’t forget she has always risen, much to the dismay of her adversaries and the delight of her friends.

Hillary Clinton will not give up on you and all she asks of you is that you do not give up on her.

There is a world of difference between being a woman and being an old female. If you’re born a girl, grow up, and live long enough, you can become an old female. But to become a woman is a serious matter. A woman takes responsibility for the time she takes up and the space she occupies. Hillary Clinton is a woman. She has been there and done that and has still risen. She is in this race for the long haul. She intends to make a difference in our country. Hillary Clinton intends to help our country to be what it can become.

She declares she wants to see more smiles in the family, more courtesies between men and women, more honesty in the marketplace. She is the prayer of every woman and man who longs for fair play, healthy families, good schools, and a balanced economy.

She means to rise.

Don’t give up on Hillary. In fact, if you help her to rise, you will rise with her and help her make this country the wonderful, wonderful place where every man and every woman can live freely without sanctimonious piety and without crippling fear.

Rise, Hillary.

Rise.

A couple months back I had an exchange with commenter Pilgrim, about what makes a leader. I asked her to expand on her thoughts, and she was kind enough to do so and send them to me in e-mail. I saved them to post on Hillary’s birthday, and that day is here. So without further ado, here is Pilgrim’s essay:

Hillary Clinton: She’s a Leader

Blogger Wonk the Vote often says of Hillary that she’s a leader, and of Mr. Obama that he isn’t a leader. I fervently agree with her on both counts.

What is it that makes the difference in these two persons? I believe it is character.

Mr. Obama is needy. He needs to be liked.

Hillary does not need to be liked.

I mentioned recently that I had known a teacher who said she never forgot what a professor at teachers’ college had said: “The teacher who is the least concerned about being liked is the most likely to be liked.” That is true, not only of teachers, but of other leaders.

Wonk has posted the wonderful part of the debate in which Hillary is told that she is not as likable as her opponent, Barack Obama. It is instructive to watch closely her body (facial) language as she receives that insult.

Does she look to be insulted? No, she appears to be faintly amused. She makes a lovely, gracious joke about it, and agrees that Mr. O is indeed quite likable in her own opinion too.

She elegantly brushes off the insult because for Hillary, the crux of the issue is not about her. It is about the American people. That’s what she cares about, passionately.

I recall once hearing her reflect about the barbs that came her way. She said, “What do I care?” She didn’t care at all.

She does care quite deeply about policy. She has correctly been called a policy wonk. She knows that is where the American people will be helped, or hindered.

She doesn’t care greatly whether people like her. She cares about what she can do to make their lives better. Thus, she received the most votes ever. And the recognition of her worth has only increased since 2008.

As stated above, Mr. Obama needs to be liked. And he needs to please.

But the harder he tries to please, the less he succeeds. It’s because he tries to please everybody so he keeps twisting himself into a pretzel, because it just isn’t possible to be all things to all people. As Abe Lincoln might have put it, You can please some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all the people all the time.

Hillary was pounded very hard about her Iraq vote. In her response, she at least managed to maintain consistency. You may not agree with her, but you know she doesn’t change her mind like a weather-vane.

The teacher I mentioned above also said that she had once read an essay, “On Education,” by Sir Richard Livingstone, and she said the most important thing she ever learned about teaching was a sentence in that essay: “The secret of education,” wrote Livingstone, “lies in respecting the pupil.” I have often thought upon that and I believe that it is not only the secret of education, but the secret of all worthy leadership.

I believe that Hillary Clinton respects the people to whose welfare she has devoted her life.

And she has earned their respect. That’s more important than to be liked. To be liked can be a fleeting thing. Respect is more solid, and is even a foundation upon which love develops.

Pilgrim’s essay reminded me of this moment in the “Dream Ticket” debate in Hollywood, 2008:

Hillary: Well, I would, with all due respect, say that the United States government is much more than a business. It is a trust. It is the most complicated organization. But it is not out to make a profit. It is out to help the American people. It is about to stand up for our values and to do what we should at home and around the world to keep faith with who we are as a country. And with all due respect, we have a president who basically ran as the CEO, MBA president, and look what we got. I am not too happy about the results.

Obama: Let me — let me just also point out that, you know, Mitt Romney hasn’t gotten a very good return on his investment during this presidential campaign And so, I’m happy to take a look at my management style during the course of this last year and his. I think they compare fairly well.

That right there said volumes. The prose of governing versus the poetry of campaigning. Hillary is a leader. She gets it.

Our current president has two years left to demonstrate that he understands the United States government is a trust.

The relationship between We-the-people and our public and private institutions was something a young woman at Wellesley was already talking about back in May of 1969, when at the urging of her peers, she became the first student to deliver the commencement address in the college’s history. This young woman ad-libbed her speech, challenging the defense of the status quo delivered by the speaker before her–then-Senator Edward Brooke, Republican from Massachusetts. No notes, no teleprompters, no nothing. She received a 7-minute standing ovation and made it into Life magazine.

Her name… Hillary Rodham. She had not yet met Bill Clinton.

Here is an excerpt from her Wellesley speech in ’69 — you can see her humanist roots shine through:

But we also know that to be educated, the goal of it must be human liberation. A liberation enabling each of us to fulfill our capacity so as to be free to create within and around ourselves. To be educated to freedom must be evidenced in action, and here again is where we ask ourselves, as we have asked our parents and our teachers, questions about integrity, trust, and respect. Those three words mean different things to all of us. Some of the things they can mean, for instance: Integrity, the courage to be whole, to try to mold an entire person in this particular context, living in relation to one another in the full poetry of existence. If the only tool we have ultimately to use is our lives, so we use it in the way we can by choosing a way to live that will demonstrate the way we feel and the way we know. Integrity — a man like Paul Santmire. Trust. This is one word that when I asked the class at our rehearsal what it was they wanted me to say for them, everyone came up to me and said, “Talk about trust, talk about the lack of trust both for us and the way we feel about others. Talk about the trust bust.” What can you say about it? What can you say about a feeling that permeates a generation and that perhaps is not even understood by those who are distrusted? All they can do is keep trying again and again and again. There’s that wonderful line in East Coker by Eliot about there’s only the trying, again and again and again; to win again what we’ve lost before.

And then respect. There’s that mutuality of respect between people where you don’t see people as percentage points. Where you don’t manipulate people. Where you’re not interested in social engineering for people. The struggle for an integrated life existing in an atmosphere of communal trust and respect is one with desperately important political and social consequences. And the word “consequence” of course catapults us into the future. One of the most tragic things that happened yesterday, a beautiful day, was that I was talking to a woman who said that she wouldn’t want to be me for anything in the world. She wouldn’t want to live today and look ahead to what it is she sees because she is afraid. Fear is always with us but we just don’t have time for it. Not now.

Today I thought I would let Maya, Pilgrim, and Hillary herself do most of the talking. Little Isis has put up a wonderful tribute that I want to quote from as well:

Hillary has doubtless inspired all of us over the years in some way. I have liked her since I was a child, albeit sometimes in secret. Defending her to people my age is sometimes a chore (“She tried to ban Grand Theft Auto”… “Um, NO, she tried to ban the PORN in Grand Theft Auto. There is a DIFFERENCE!”) and I have a reputation to protect, but I am willing to go to bat for her. That is the level of my admiration.

For someone who has never had much of an example of a strong woman to look up to, having Hillary as First Lady, then a Senator and then Secretary of State– not to mention her tenacity in 2008 when she was running for President–has been very educational and important.

In the past two years especially, we have had a real example of class and service in our Secretary of State. Not only is she a great gal, she’s a great LOOKING gal. I hope my trashy chain smoking a$$ looks half as good at sixty three.

Happy Birthday Madame Secretary, and many more!

For my part, a very simple wish, same as last year–

A very Happy Birthday to the Evergreen Hillary Clinton! Keep on fighting for us and keep on dancing!

As per Little Isis:

Note: This is the thread where the shrieking band of Hillary holdouts shares experiences with and regarding the Secretary of State.