Saturday, September 23, 2017

Trump On Football And Patriotism

Trump's Friday night speech in Alabama is a very good example of the message he wants to send to his base.  That it was about football, the American version, that it was about a sport women are not allowed to join, except to cheer for the players, is not an accident.

Football is a men's game, a warrior game for those (both men and women) who enjoy* the vicarious participation in the pretend-battles waged by well-paid gladiators, and for Trump and his base it is a game where political protests by black players are not welcome:

President Trump took aim at two of the world’s most powerful sports leagues and some of their most popular athletes, directly inserting himself into an already fiery debate about race, social justice and the role athletes play in highlighting those issues.
In urging N.F.L. owners to fire players who do not stand for the national anthem, and telling the N.B.A. star Stephen Curry that he is not welcome at the White House, the president has driven a divide between the players, many of whom are black and opposed to the president’s views on race, and the team owners, who are almost all white and in the N.F.L. largely conservative.

Neither is attention to the possible health risks of football (such as degenerative brain damage) allowed to distract viewers from enjoying the game:

Regarding his nostalgia for the dangerous hits that college and pro football have been trying to take out of the game, Trump said: “Today if you hit too hard—15 yards! Throw him out of the game! They had that last week. I watched for a couple of minutes. Two guys, just really, beautiful tackle. Boom, 15 yards! The referee gets on television—his wife is sitting at home, she’s so proud of him. They’re ruining the game! They’re ruining the game. That’s what they want to do. They want to hit. They want to hit! It is hurting the game.

Trump comes across as scatterbrained in that direct quote.  But read more carefully, and note how his deeper message can be found in that "his wife is sitting at home..." section:  The people who are ruining the game ("they") are people like the referee's wife.  She has no business expressing any opinions about football.

The online dissection of Trump's speech is, as usual, a cacophony of different voices, stressing different problems with the speech**.  And that is normal and expected and many of the criticisms are to the point and matter.  But what might need more emphasis is this:

Trump's message to his base in that speech was consistent, logical and clear:

Power in the US naturally belongs to one demographic group (largely, though not only, consisting of white Christian men), football is an American masculine game, and therefore power over how it should be defined also belongs to that same demographic group. 

The roles of others in the game are to play and be quiet (players of color) or to look pretty and cheer from the sidelines (female cheer-leaders).  Trump can state that those who march for white supremacy include many good people, and he can simultaneously state that all NFL players who kneel in protest during the national anthem should be fired, because the former at least support the racial hierarchy Trump supports, whereas the latter wish to dismantle it.

Trump's great talent is this:  He hits the deep veins of resentment among his base and he does it in a language they fully understand:  Though nothing about football will bring American jobs back or rejuvenate dying rural towns or provide people with health care, traditional football stands as a powerful symbol of all that Trump's base desires, and to depict it as threatened by "others" will further fan the flames of anger and frustration among that base which feels similarly threatened.

*  I'm not trying to disrespect those who love to watch the game.  I watch ice hockey and lots of other sports!  My point is to remove all that patriotic veiling from the game and to look at what it is we are actually watching.

** The vast majority of the reactions are critical, I should note. 

Friday, September 22, 2017

Today's Short Posts: Should Rick Santorum Be Silent? Jimmy Kimmel? And Betsy deVos Speaks.

1.  Why is Rick Santorum allowed to have an active role in politics after he failed his campaign to become the president?  As Frazer in the comments to my previous post noted, the new rule is that failed candidates should exit and be silent.  Well, at least some failed candidates.  But Santorum seems to have written a lot of the Graham-Cassidy bill.  I eagerly await all those articles about how he should exit stage right.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Trump Administration on Sex Education: Girls, Keep Your Legs Crossed

Because the little beavers in the Trump Administration have been busily chewing away the underpinnings of democracy, all sorts of other policies have been changed while I was yelling about something else.

Thus, I missed that Trump has stopped all funding for broad-based sex education programs which were intended to reduce teenage pregnancy rates and also abortion rates.  The closing of one such program was in today's news:

Colorado Youth Matter received 75 percent of its funding from the federal grant, about $750,000 per year. The grant had been scheduled to run through 2020, but the Trump administration ended the federal Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program grants as of next summer for all of the 84 organizations around the country that received them. The administration cited concerns about whether the programs were effective, a rationale critics have questioned.
Compare that to this report from last May:

Not only would President Donald Trump’s proposed 2018 budget harm women and families by barring Planned Parenthood from receiving any federal government funding, it would also invest $277 million in abstinence-only education, which has been shown to be a completely ineffective means of sexual education.

Both bolds in these quotes are mine.

The lessons here are several:

First, the Trump administration uses weak excuses which are not based on evidence to cut any program that the Obama administration instituted, and any programs which benefit women and/or minorities at all.

I've read that various policies are "too cumbersome" or "too costly" or "possibly ineffective," where no actual cost-benefit analyses are performed.  We are never told how many people are inconvenienced by those horrible safety regulations, for example, or why it's too cumbersome to keep earnings data separately by demographic category or why broad-based sex education is just deemed to be ineffective, while abstinence-only education doesn't require any proof of effectiveness at all.

All that is irritating and demonstrates contempt toward the voters.  And major intellectual laziness.

Second, the so-called Christian "pro-lifers" who voted for Trump (the thrice-married adulterous pussygrabber) don't really want to reduce abortions via the reduction of teenage pregnancies.  They are for the ineffective abstinence-only education and against any wider sex education, even if that actually did end up reducing abortions (as it seems to have done in other countries).

This suggests that they want the sluts to suffer for their fornication by becoming pregnant.*

Third, this is yet another example of shifting money from people who probably didn't vote for Trump to people who probably did vote for Trump.  The Graham-Cassidy health insurance bill, initially crafted by the right-wing religious radical, Rick Santorum, is another example of that.  The blue states are intended to suffer in that plan.


*  A lot of abstinence-only education sounds similarly hell-firish:  Sex is yucky, disgusting and dangerous, so better save it to marriage with the person you love best.  Besides, premarital sex turns women into used tissues or something similarly gross in the minds of fundies, though men  who have premarital sex can still be playahs.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Trump Speaks To The Nations of The World

At the United Nations. The message that was put into his mouth (perhaps by Stephen Miller)  is one of patriotic ethno-nationalism, of strong nation states putting themselves first, of big military expenditures guaranteeing future peace and prosperity.   Giving a speech like that is a little bit like spitting in the eye of the UN which was, of course, created as a more international attempt to maintain peace.

The speech also lists Trump's enemies:  North Korea, Iran,  Cuba and Venezuela, and mentions his "frenemy,"  Saudi Arabia, twice.   First in a slightly positive indirect way:

In Saudi Arabia early last year, I was greatly honored to address the leaders of more than 50 Arab and Muslim nations. We agreed that all responsible nations must work together to confront terrorists and the Islamist extremism that inspires them.

But later the speech is slightly more negative, hinting at a criticism of Saudi Arabia as one unidentified party with egregious human rights records that sits on the UN Human Rights Council:

For example, it is a massive source of embarrassment to the United Nations that some governments with egregious human rights records sit on the U.N. Human Rights Council.

Mmm.  And from 2018, Saudi Arabia will also sit on the UN Women's Rights Commission!  What miraculous value-compromises the ownership of oil produces!  Actually, that the worst violator of women's human rights gets to sit on that commission proves to me the sense of sadistic humor us divine creators possess.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Short Missives From Trump Reich, 9/18/17: Trump As New Normal, Health Insurance As No Insurance and Republican Women's Federation

1.  Jay Rosen has written about the normalization of Trump as president.*  His list of six simple points is worth reading, and so is his explanation why they conflict with the fact that millions and millions of American voters decided that this carnival barker was a good idea for the most powerful man in the world.  How does a journalist stay polite to those voters, while telling the truth about Donald Trump?

2.  The Graham-Cassidy plan to kill Obamacare dead at the last possible moment is a weird one.  Many believe that it's not a viable candidate at all, just a gesture, but who knows?  Its anatomy is the same as that of all the earlier attempts:  Move money up the income hierarchy, as high up as possible, and let insurers discriminate against customers almost as much as they wish:

In reality, Graham-Cassidy is the opposite of moderate. It contains, in exaggerated and almost caricature form, all the elements that made previous Republican proposals so cruel and destructive. It would eliminate the individual mandate, undermine if not effectively eliminate protection for people with pre-existing conditions, and slash funding for subsidies and Medicaid. There are a few additional twists, but they’re all bad — notably, a funding formula that would penalize states that are actually successful in reducing the number of uninsured.

Haven't we been here twice already, fighting the attempts to abolish the Affordable Care Act?

The fatigue of resistance!  The fatigue of having to fight the same wars, over and over again, while the Republicans just rearrange the chess board and start another round.  The battles are asymmetric, because the opposition is scattered and needs to be reassembled and reactivated every time, while the powers-that-be have full-time workers organizing the next atrocity.

In any case, the best strategy is to fight the Graham-Cassidy bill as if it was a serious plan, even if it isn't, just in case it then becomes one, due to our fatigue.  See how stacked the games are?

3.  This is the picture of the press conference which announced the birth of the Graham-Cassidy bill:

So many fathers...

Which brings me to the National Federation of Republican Women which had their biennial convention in Philadelphia last weekend.  The website of the federation tells us that it has been "engaging and empowering women since 1938," but

Allison Ball, 36, told the assembled delegates — the women’s wing of the GOP, bedecked in Trump pins and American-flag scarves — how instrumental the women of the party had been in her successful campaign for Kentucky state treasurer. How important it was to encourage more women to run for office.
Still, Ball said, grinning: The crowd in the ballroom “prove there’s no such thing as women’s issues. Only people’s issues.”
It was a theme the federation, at Philadelphia’s Downtown Marriott for its 39th biennial meeting, would return to throughout the weekend — a convention for women, organized by women, that kept insisting that the necessity of political action on behalf of women is a fantasy of the left.
 The bolds they are mine.  I like that confusion, by the way:  There are no women's issues, but more women should be encouraged to run for office.

But nothing stops them from running already, given that there are no women's issues.  Or if there are such issues, they are the women's own fault (nothing to do with what they are taught at church or in their communities):

Women are more likely to assume they’re not qualified for office, and “Republican women tend to be very oriented around raising a family,” said Cynthia Ayers, who spent two decades in the National Security Agency and is running in Pennsylvania’s Republican Senate primary next year. “Men don’t necessarily keep that in mind when running for office. It’s harder for women to break in at that point. And the funding seems to be there for men when they run.


* hat tip to ql at Eschaton for the link