Tag Archives: covid-19

From Trump University to the Trump Virus and beyond!

“The saga of Trump University showed how far Trump would go to deny, rather than fix, a problem, they said — a tactic they have now seen him reuse as president many times, including now, in the face of a worsening pandemic. For months, President Trump promised something wonderful but extremely unlikely — that the virus would soon disappear.”

And when it didn’t, Trump could have turned things around for himself just by looking decisive and taking action; when it looked as if he was, his ratings inched upwards. Which is why, as Camestros Felapton points out, the idea COVID-19 is a conspiracy against Trump is nuts: “As a plot against Trump, a pandemic would be a terrible idea: all Trump would need to do is look presidential, let experts speak and pat them on the back… In short, as a plot against Trump, a pandemic would only undermine Trump’s popularity if Trump was actually a uniquely bad president.” And now Republicans want to cut the $600 unemployment payments by two-thirds. To say nothing of Trump wanting to gut Social Security. Or sending out storm troopers to Portland, and possibly other cities.

“Donald Trump has many weapons at his disposal if he wants to try to cling to power after an election loss, but the general impression that he’s a figure of stability is not one of them.” However one Christian columnist suggests you think of it this way: Trump may be a sleaze but he appoints lots of non-carnal people so think of yourself as voting for them! An alternative theory: “He’s their strongman that God has given them to protect them. So, again, the ends justify the means here. But I think it’s important to understand that the appeal of Trump to evangelicals isn’t surprising at all, because their own faith tradition has long embraced this idea of a ruthless masculine protector.”

Plus, of course, they can count on Trump to nominate someone like Brett Kavanaugh.

“America is a great and noble country founded on the proposition that all mankind is created equal. We have always struggled to live up to that promise, but no country has ever done more to achieve it,” says Tom Cotton, who’s very, very upset that the NYT’s 1619 project about how racial inequality has always been baked into the US, might be taught in schools. But no, despite giving lip service to the dream of equality, many of the Founders were indeed slaveowners, and others were willing to compromise with slavery — the 3/5 clause gave the “slave power” a lot of political clout because that’s what it took to get buy-in on the Constitution from the South. The book Dark Bargains is a good source on this, just as  The Negro President and This Vast Southern Empire show the influence of the slave power on the federal government and foreign policy.

And just as Republicans reject history, they’re also becoming more openly anti-science and anti-vaccination. This doesn’t end anywhere good.

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I feel vaguely guilty about disengaging

So I “took a break” from three people on FB recently. This doesn’t technically unfriend them, it simply blocks me from seeing their posts unless I visit their home page.

One of them, who regularly spews forth right-wing BLM Bad, Trump Good, Democrats Bad talking points had one of those shared posts I see a lot explaining how awesome Trump is. Don’t we realize he gets up before dawn and works until midnight, just for the good of America? Don’t we realize that becoming president cost him $2 billion (actually what he claims is not that he lost money but that he’d have made another $2 billion in private life — which is not true). How can we look at this old man and not respect him as we would our own grandfathers? And you know, if you overlook the fact neither of my grandfathers were narcissistic sociopaths, that’s a valid point.

The second one posted a similar rant, credited online to Steve Harvey (it’s actually an 80-year-old white dude). Followed by a swarm of comments from other readers (Bengazi! Socialism! Emails! Spying on Trump!).  The third specifically equated BLM to the KKK, because saying “police should not have a free pass to kill black people without penalty” is just like “black people must accept white domination or die!” I posted responses, politely, on all three, but then I took the break. I feel conflicted, because it feels like I should speak up when people spew this crap. But then again, it’s unlikely I’m going to change their minds, and other people’s right-wing FB posts is not the most effective way to make a difference. And if I respond to every single bit of bullshit, I’d feel like a troll.

Sometimes I’ve wondered if the people who post this nonsense aren’t trolling people like me. But Dahlia Lithwick, in reviewing Mary Trump’s book, suggests it’s the same thing that’s protected Trump his entire life: admitting they’ve sided with a narcissistic sociopath because of party or racism or misogyny or because Trump looked so kickass on The Apprentice is just too hard so they’ll persuade themselves and/or us that that’s totally not the case. They backed a winner!

Meanwhile the winner continues failing in the fight against the Trump Virus. New Zealand’s getting back to normal; we’re nowhere near it and we have many more deaths to come thanks to Trump and his party (unlike some nations, the thought of actually spending enough money to tide people over horrifies Republicans) Even though some of them are seeing the light it’s too late for forgiveness. If Trump is re-elected, his pandemic performance deserves being impeached again.

It’s not about our international standing, which is something I’ve seen articles bring up. Lots of nations that are not power players on the world stage do a good job taking care of their people. But Republicans, from Trump to Moscow Mitch to Gov. Kemp, are failing at that too. It was thinking about the sheer scope of this disaster, all the wasted and ruined lives and the wasted time … I just couldn’t deal with the bullshit, and I hate shouting obscenities. So I left.


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I drink Trump’s tears like a fine wine

Apparently he’s feeling pretty damn crappy because he built the greatest economy we’ve ever had, re-election was a slam dunk and then the Trump Virus came along spoiled everything! As if that wasn’t delusional enough, he keeps bringing up the he (allegedly) aced his test for dementia as if that was an accomplishment. Dude, if you feel the need to emphasize that, it’s not a good sign.

But if Trump’s miserable, I’m at least a little bit happy. His administration has reduced Immigration’s printing capability so thousands of immigrants who’ve earned green cards, and paid the relevant fees aren’t getting their cards. Documents they’re required to have at all times. Wouldn’t you know when this administration does something clever, it would have to be evil as well? But it fits with Trump’s vision for the election: as he doesn’t have the brains to fight the pandemic, he’s running on racism as that’s his happy place. He sure can’t run on the economy.

And along with ignoring the Russian bounties on US soldiers, Putin’s Poodle encouraged the CIA to give Russia intel in return for … nothing. Interesting, given he generally obsesses about how our actual allies are, in his view, taking advantage of us.

Meanwhile, swimming in Trump’s wake, we have the QAnon believers trying to win elected office. Like I said last week, this is a bad thing. The pandemic is also stoking militant extremism. And Trump dismissing the virus as a serious threat for so long has just encouraged his followers to do the same. The Texas Lt. Gov., who claims he’s willing to die to keep the economy open, has now decided he knows more about COVID-19 than Dr. Fauci. Fox News bigot Laura Ingraham insists Fauci’s trying to help Democrats. Arizona Republican Rep. Andy Biggs says that as Fauci insists on contradicting Trump, the president should disband the task force.

November can’t come soon enough.


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Trump is not manly (and other links)

I’m not a fan of men having to live up to some code of conduct to prove their manliness. However a lot of people do idealize old-school manliness — be honorable, stoic, work hard — so why do they think Trump’s a real man when he’s a whining, petulant man-baby who won’t take responsibility for anything?  Comments at the link focus on racism, but I think misogyny’s at least as much the issue. Trump’s a guy who treats women like shit even when he’s not assaulting them and he never pays a price for it; for guys who value male supremacy, that’s pretty appealing. And also, they love that he’s vicious. Which he is because one of his driving needs is the urge to dominate: “This explains why Trump felt no compunction about lashing out this week at a frequent critic, Joe Scarborough, by falsely accusing him of murder, even in the absence of a shred of evidence to support his claim. Cruelty is second nature to Trump.”

Republicans are so nervous about mail-in voting increasing the turnout (more voters is worse for them) that they’re suing California to stop it.

Adam Smith, the husband of the “reopen NC” leader, says he’s willing to kill people to make it happen. Justified because New World Order! And anti-maskers are now claiming dubious medical necessity reasons for not wearing.

If you’ve seen reports saying doctors think social distancing is worse than the disease, they may be biased. So are claims Congress can’t empower executive branch agencies to draft regulations.

Some branches of Planned Parenthood got stimulus money. Cue the right-wing freakout.

Some anti-gay members of the religious right see helping their neighbors during the pandemic as a way to win converts.

“Under conditions of uncertainty, information that helps direct our negative emotions toward a target is psychologically comforting.”— a look at how conspiracy theories blaming someone for our problems can make it easier to live with them.

One reason Trump’s so angry at China: he’s been showering their leaders with praise (““China has been working very hard to contain the Coronavirus. The United States greatly appreciates their efforts and transparency … I want to thank President Xi!”)

Our government played a major role in developing one drug treatment for the Trump Virus. But they’ve done nothing to prevent the manufacturer from charging huge fees for treatment. This is a common issue: drug companies defend high prices by pointing out the demands of research and ignoring federal support.

Black entrepreneurs use their office-building’s gym. So a man calls the cops on them.

Hertz is going bankrupt. You might think leadership’s at fault or that the company should be careful with its money, but instead Hertz paid its top execs $16 million in bonuses. Meanwhile, two-thirds of its 21,000 employees were laid off.

A Pennsylvania Republican tested positive for the Trump virus. Other Republicans knew but kept meeting with Democratic colleagues anyway.

Houses of worship want to reopen, but they don’t know how to do it safely.

Conservative evangelical Eric Metaxas insists Christianity is anti-racist, but can’t walk the walk. Jerry Falwell Jr. ain’t even trying.

And for no particular reason, I’ll close with a photo I took of a thistle.

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Smoking their own hashish

In the words of the late investigative journalist I.F. Stone, “all governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out.” – I.F. Stone.

This is one reason we’re in such a mess: right-wingers in government, as well as out of it, are now true believers in the delusions they’ve been peddling to the public for years. Take Donald Trump. In addition to being extremely stupid, he’s a long-time Fox viewer who thinks Fox talking heads give him better intel than our intelligence agencies, partly because Fox is less likely to challenge his worldview. So it’s not surprising that, believing other nations are sneakily conducting nuclear tests, President TinyBrain wants us to start up again. And that’s he’s trashing other arms-control treaties (I suspect this also relates to the distaste some right-wingers have for diplomacy and negotiating instead of just sending people who aren’t them or their families to fight and die destroying our enemies).

And now more than 40 believes in QAnon, the crackpot theory of a vast cabal of Satanic pedophiles opposing Trump, are running for office. Even if they don’t win, it’s a very bad sign if this becomes acceptable or worse, desirable in candidates (for another example of right-wing gibberish, check here).

But it’s not just people in politics, but also in punditry. Conservative intellectuals have decided that opposing shutdowns, masks and all other precautions against Trump Virus is a sign of cowardice and weakness — don’t we realize that there are higher things than living! By which logic, why aren’t they opposing bicycle helmets and seat belts? Because those are still accepted as sensible solutions, not bludgeons against the left in the culture war.  I think it’s telling that a couple of the pundits quoted at the link frame this is a clash between salt-of-the-earth Real Americans who want the country reopened and the sniveling cowards of the liberal elite who want it shut down. When in reality we have rich elitists (not all of them) and pundits screaming to reopen the country before the wealthy lose any money. The rich can run their companies at a distance; they’re guaranteed great care if they do get sick. And organizing astroturf campaigns to make it look like the people are rising up.

Republicans have embraced a world of unreality where taking sensible precautions against disease is weakness, the government plotted to destroy Trump but held off until after the election and QAnon theories describe reality. Or claiming that the 2018 elections were a victory for Republicans. Honest reporting is treated as partisan lies, an attack on the glorious god-anointed Donald J. Trump. That makes it hard to deal with the reality that Trump has failed at dealing with the pandemic.

And I’m sure Trump’s tossing out baseless conspiracy theories finds fertile soil among his worshippers.

As Fred Clark puts it, we have to respect other’s peoples beliefs — but how do we do that while simultaneously dealing with believers whose views get other people killed? Snake handling or refusing medical treatment to see if God cures you can be fatal, but only to the believer. People who reject masks and social distancing don’t just threaten themselves, they threaten the rest of us.

I wish I had a good answer.

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Owning the liberals in a time of plague (and other links)

Casting oneself as Anne Frank for having to wear a two-dollar cloth mask at Walmart during the worst pandemic in a century would be a stretch for most people in the world, but not American movement conservatives.” — a look at how conservatives are treating a life-or-death crisis as just another culture war issue. Which means “owning the libs” and supporting Trump by not being sensible. Case in point, a guy whining to Costco employees that he shouldn’t have to wear a mask in their store because freedom! Or the man who allegedly shot a Waffle House cook in a dispute over mask-wearing.

As a former tourist-town resident, I can identify with Amsterdam’s relief that the Trump Virus has shut down tourism. And it’s also shutting down money laundering in Los Angeles.

Richard Burr has gotten a lot of flak, deservedly, for selling stock after he learned how bad COVID-19 would get. Insider trading is nothing new for Burr.

Our other senator, Thom Tillis, is ready to punish China for its role in creating a pandemic. Somehow I don’t think he’ll punish Trump.

Rich people are happy to discuss how we may have to sacrifice some lives to keep the economy going. I notice none of those interviewed discuss sacrificing some of their money to keep human life going. Sort-of related: the trolley problem test of our willingness to sacrifice for the greater good doesn’t work very well.

How will COVID-19 alter us? In crisis situations elsewhere, “Planning tends to be tentative and short-term. People cultivate moments of joy when danger recedes, knowing it might not last. Violence and disruption remain painful, but at least there is no expectation of normalcy or control to shatter. Pain runs deep, but so does resilience.”

Georgia found a simple way to lower Trump Virus infection rates — oh, wait, it didn’t, the state simply reported day-by-day infection dates out of order to make it look like they were going down.

Oh, joy, a new COVID-19 symptom.

“If you’re a thief, accuse your enemies of thievery.”

What we should be doing to fight the pandemic. But it’s unlikely we will because, Trump. By contrast the Indian state of Kerala has its shit together on this.

In non-Trump Virus news:

Tired of robocalls? Business groups are arguing that one part of the government’s robocall restriction law is invalid so the Supreme Court should throw out the whole thing.

Milk companies told a dairy farmer he needed to dump his milk. Instead he sold it directly to customers.

Scientists are working on ways to save Minnesota’s forests from global warming.

Now that’s courage: armed black citizens are patrolling the white neighborhood where Ahmaud Arbery got shot.

Theocrat Rick Santorum’s claim that separation of church and state is un-American. And a woman in Nebraska is suing all the gay people for being gay.

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The Great Reopening (and other Trump Virus links)

“Unlike wealthier, more advanced countries like, say, South Korea, Vietnam, or Senegal, the United States just doesn’t have the capability or the leadership to produce the kind of testing and contact-tracing system that would allow us to “re-open” safely.” — Slacktivist delivers what I believe qualifies as a sick burn.

While calling for his state to reopen, Alaska Republican state Rep. Ben Carpenter says a)quarantine is very Nazi, and b)Hitler wasn’t a white supremacist, he was just scared of Jews. Apparently he doesn’t think Republicans advocating for thousands to die for the good of the state is at all Nazi.

Public-health experts on where they will, and won’t go after reopening.

As we reopen, some people are fixated on the real threat: 5G cellular! A look at conspiracy thinking and pandemic.

A reliable vaccine would make reopening easier but the anti-vaxxers are organized to stop people taking it.

Here’s a look at the real issues and challenges for developing a vaccine.

An ice cream parlor reopens … and then closes due to customer behavior.

Governors who’ve already opened are proclaiming victory over the Trump Virus — but they’re fooling themselves.

So why reopen when it’s likely to lead to more deaths and not a recovered economy? No More Mr. Nice Blog suggests it’s not about money but about control: “They just don’t want to be told that they can’t have their wishes immediately gratified.”

Like the Tea Party protests of a decade ago, the reopen protests are a mix of genuine anger and a lot of astroturfing. And some people believe in “plandemic.” More on that here.

A Texas company offered to mass-produce some N95 masks. The government said no.

A New York restaurateur looks at her shuttered restaurant and wonders what the point was.

How COVID-19 starves us of oxygen.

Federal employees’ retirement plans are invested in China. Trump wants to stop that.

Trump education secretary Betsy DeVos is funneling a disproportionate amount of Trump Virus relief for education to private schools.

A farmer uses Facebook to keep their farm going in pandemic times.

Four reasons reopening may be worse than staying closed.

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The Republican response to the Trump Virus is sub-optimal

The Trump Virus situation looks worse and worse as the virus looks deadlier and deadlier. For one example, it may be causing increasing numbers of strokes in younger people. This is the time for smart people to look for solutions and a smart government to implement them. Instead we have Jared Kushner running the White House show, and Kushner’s as convinced as his father-in-law that he understands things perfectly (spoiler: he doesn’t). And a president who suggests internal use of disinfectant could cure COVID-19 — and it may be taht some people are listening. And President Tinybrain himself is mostly sulking about being criticized when he’s the most awesome president ever (I take a petty satisfaction in his myster).

Moscow Mitch’s big requirement for supporting more federal aid is immunizing businesses against COVID-related legal liability if they put workers at risk. And as Scott Lemieux says, gives the lie to the crisis being over: “That McConnell thinks that companies that ‘help’ to open up the economy face a high risk of being sued shows that he is aware of what a huge gamble is being made with the lives of working Americans” — who right-wingers denounce lazy bums living high on unemployment (and make it absurdly hard to obtain). Given his way, though, McConnell would sooner have states declare bankruptcy (which NC Senator Thom Tillis is cool with). If he thinks that would only hurt blue states, he’s, as LGM says, “high on his own supply” — Republicans can’t accept that we need massive state intervention to keep the economy going.

Although federal guidelines call for a decline in COVID cases over two weeks, the Trump administration is pushing harder to get everything reopened without waiting. And when things go wrong, it’ll all be other people’s fault. Though the speed with which several states are moving guarantees it’s not being done well. And the impact will hit employees and small businesses. (“If we tried to open on Monday, we’d be closed in two weeks, probably for good and with more debt on our hands.”).The Michigan GOP is trying to strip the governor of lockdown authority.  Medical personnel are confronting end-the-lockdown protesters, but Arizona GOP chair Kelli Ward says even if they’re real doctors and nurses, they’re just actors.

And while Trump has refused to use his authority to force the mass-production of safety equipment, he’s using it to force the meat-processing industry to get back to work (poor widdle man-baby can’t do wivout his nummy burgers!). So a low-paid, immigrant force will have to choose between supporting themselves or risking death (hmm, could this be why Moscow Mitch is so big on immunity?). And if workers don’t go back to work, oops, they no longer qualify for unemployment.

As for the Supreme Court, the Republican members are not on our side, as witness their view of voting by mail.

Meanwhile, right-wing theocrat lawyer Matt Staver claims Christians facing social distancing are being oppressed like Jews under Hitler. Anti-semitic whackaloon Rick Wiles claims the Trump Virus is a deliberate attack on America and never affected China.

How much did Senator Richard Burr make by selling off stocks after being warned about the Trump Virus? If you look at the number of lives that might have been saved with more preparation, it works out to between $5 and $14 a head.

A high schooler posted online that she thought her illness was COVID-19. The county sheriff forced her to take it down. Florida likewise told some medical examiners to stop posting Trump Virus statistics online (they were higher than the state has claimed).

After a reporter tweeted that Mike Pence was told in advance to wear a mask while visiting a hospital, the Pence team threatened to ban the reporter from Air Force Two.

To end with some upbeat news, Rep. Ihlan Omar wants SNAP recipients to be able to use their benefits to buy food online. That’s a great idea. And here’s a local business in Durham, finding ways to stay open and keep their employees on staff (I’d support them, but I’d have to buy coffee. Ugh).

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Second month of writing while quarantined; how’d I do?

Decently. I met 58 percent of my goals which is better than the last two months (particularly March). Part of that’s because my goal list has dwindled — nothing that involves hanging out with people besides TYG, no plans to catch plays or go to museums, etc. Not even visiting the nearby coffee/tea shop, though I did order some tea from them (I’d like them to be there when this mess ends).

I do not see this changing any time soon. Durham’s stay-in-place order ends the 15th of this month, but TYG and I were social distancing before it became official and we’re still going to stick with it. This shit is scary; much as I’d like to see my friends other than on Zoom, it won’t be happening soon. When? I wish I knew.

The improvement in goal-meeting also reflects that I’m adapting. I’m getting exercise done, cooking regularly and managing to get work done despite a lot of extra dog care. And my Leaf work hasn’t started up again which meant I had a lot more time to work on my own stuff. Much as I enjoy that, I’d prefer to have steady income; next month I’ll be working on drumming up new clients, as a good freelancer should.

As I mentioned last week, I finished the latest drafts of Undead Sexist Cliches and Impossible Takes a Little Longer. I submitted four short stories, finished an untitled first draft, rewrote Laughter of the Dark and Glory That Was and finished Death Is Like a Box of Chocolates. I resumed work on proofing and correcting Questionable Minds, though I’m far from where I wanted to be (the extra work on the other two books had to come out of something).

The biggest obstacle to getting even more done is that Trixie’s injury requires a lot more time. A lot more watching to ensure she isn’t doing anything to hurt her leg. Walking her separately from Plushie — if I’m doing both morning walks or both lunch walks (or both of both) that adds up to quite a bit more time (same if TYG’s doing the work). So this month I’m assuming I’ll start work 8:30 AM, work for two hours, get four hours in the afternoon and make up the last hour of my day after dinner. Planning for that will make me less frustrated in the morning, I think, which should help me focus better.

For today’s visual entertainment here’s something Wisp (I assume) puked up on our front stoop. You can make out the eye of whatever she ate.#SFWApro.

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An apocalypse is a revelation

Literally. The original meaning of “apocalypse” was not a catastrophe but an event that shows the truth of the world. Hence the Christian apocalypse being the book of Revelation. And what our current apocalypse reveals is increasingly ugly.

Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick has declared “there are more important things than living,” so we have to end stay-in-place. I will bet good money that Patrick is a chickenhawk on this: if he ever catches COVID-19 he’ll be using his power and whatever money he has to make damn sure he gets first-rate treatment, screw whoever else suffers. Even if he and the other “greater good” types are sincere, I think they’re wrong. The government could pass a stimulus bill that would actually help people and small business, which would make much more sense. But AAAAAH SOCIALISM! is the freak-out response. Better people die.

Then there’s Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia, who’s all for reopening. Which former Georgia reporter George Clidi finds revealing too: “If there’s no state order calling for businesses to be closed, the people who are unemployed can no longer claim that their unemployment is involuntary, even if it would be utter idiocy for them to return to work. A hair dresser or a massage therapist cannot maintain social distance. But they can certainly file for relief … unless the law says they can work. Gyms, fitness centers, bowling alleys, body art studios, barbers, cosmetologists, hair designers, nail care artists, estheticians, their respective schools & massage therapists. Not banks. Not software firms. Not factories. Not schools. It is no coincidence that the businesses on this list are staffed by relatively poor people. Because that’s who he wants off the unemployment rolls. And if they die … well, they’re mostly black people, or Asian, and poor, and an acceptable political loss for a Republican governor.”

Lying about Trump Virus denialism is also revealing (Richard Epstein predicted 500 deaths in the U.S., max. Now he’s pretending he didn’t). So is a wealthy enclave getting thoroughly tested while other areas do without. A University of Miami official (the school’s health system provided the testing) admits this”may have created the impression that certain communities would receive preferential treatment.” You think?

And then there’s my friends. Living in the South, and particularly in the Florida Panhandle, I have lots of friends who are conservative Republicans. Which I’ve always been able to live with. Now I’m seeing them supporting Trump, parroting bullshit claims: he’s doing a good job. Hey, why don’t we ban cars, which kill more people? Lifting restrictions is about FREEDOM! Stay-in-place is Nazism (Oh, yeah? So is advocating the deaths of millions for the good of the country)! The death toll has been exaggerated (just like Sandy hook was a false flag operation, I guess)! I could sort-of understand supporting Trump in 2016, but even now, despite his manifest incompetence and his willingness to let millions die, they’re still backing him.

I didn’t discuss race much with my friends, though there were a few arguments about feminism (it was much more acceptable to publicly sexist than publicly racist). And I don’t like thinking of my friends as racist. But I have to admit, looking at their blind, unwavering support for Trump, I wonder how much of it is because of racism? Trump’s brand is reassuring white people that despite Obama, they’re still at the top of the hierarchy (men too); for some people, that matters more than anything. Not for everyone, but even non-racist, non-male supremacist supporters are willing to live with racism if they get whatever it is they want from him (prayer in schools, end of abortion, etc.).

These are ugly things to think about my friends, but I can’t see any way they’re not true.

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