Status Update: In Praise of Constitutional Monarchy

I’ve been watching Season 1 of The Crown, Netflix’s series about Queen Elizabeth II. I’m intrigued by how small the stakes are — rarely life or death, the conflicts instead revolve around incremental gains or losses to status, respect and privacy. One episode deals with the queen breaking with tradition to make her husband, the prince, the head of her coronation committee. The duke who inherited the role is miffed.

It’s riveting television.

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Shut Up and Grieve Silently

We’ve been told, by some, that we shouldn’t politicize mass shootings. That it’s in poor taste to point out that guns kill people — or to mention that when we fail to properly regulate tools of destruction, people die. Yet Florida governor Rick Scott, then Donald Trump, quickly leveraged the latest mass shooting to serve their own political ends: the delegitimization of the FBI.

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Progressivism Has Always Been Failing (and My Blog Won’t Help)

It’s plausible that a different Republican administration would still have produced a travel ban like the one that went into effect last week. During the Republican primaries, Ben Carson called for an investigation of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) for links to terrorist organizations. The evidence: unprovided. Around the same time, Jeb Bush stated that Syrian refugees should be able to come to the US, provided they were Christian. The reasoning for such discrimination: unclear. And Donald Trump—well, we all know what Donald Trump thought. His polemics against America’s assorted others (including, somehow, the 51% of women who urinate, menstruate and/or breastfeed) entertained and captivated the nation through the election cycle. It was mean, ugly, nasty shit. And with Trump’s election, it found purchase in the mainstream of modern politics.

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Nobody Ever Asks, “Who Didn’t You Vote for?”

Last week in GOP-land, the Republicans had their come-to-Jesus moment and embraced Donald Trump as their nominee. “Sure, he’s a lunatic,” some suggested, “but look at the alternative.” They shuddered at the thought of Hillary Clinton, who, in addition to (or perhaps because of) her political leanings, was seen as corrupt, untrustworthy and prone to poor judgment. (Yes, all of these things have also been said of Trump, but I digress.) This left those of us on the Left scratching our heads: “How can anyone support Trump just because he’s from the same party as them? He’s done X, Y, and Z! Hell, he’s invented his own letters and done those, too. If you vote for him, you’re embracing fascism.”

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Stop Asking When Bernie Sanders Is Going to Drop Out

“Bernie Sanders, you just won the Michigan primary. When are you going to drop out?” – Various media members

Photo by Phil Roeder

For years, we have been told that Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee. The adjectives in front of that title have included “eventual,” “inevitable,” and “presumptive” (presumptive being correct). All other comers, the thinking has gone, can come run for fun in the early states, but then they should back off and bow down.

Though I’m generally loath to partake in mainstream media bashing, this thinking has been abetted by many pundits and commentators. Indeed, immediately after Sanders’ impromptu press conference on Tuesday night thanking the people of Michigan for turning out to vote, a CBS News anchor—with a straight face—asked a correspondent if Sanders was going to step aside so Clinton could start focusing on the general election. Sanders, it seemed, had reached #PeakBernie. He’d win some pats on the back for getting his message out there—bravo, good chap—but now he and the people he represents should retreat back into the shadows. But there are plenty of reasons why Bernie should throw shade at any suggestion he quit the race.

He can win. 

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Loved ‘The Big Short’? Read ‘Griftopia’

This past year, The Big Short, a movie about Wall Street greed and myopia, channelled middle class anger at the one percent. After laughing for a few hours, most people emerged from the theater both nauseated and confused, wondering how supposedly smart people could be so stupid as to nearly bring down the global economy. Ironically, the film’s heroes—renegades within the financial industry who made big money betting against conventional wisdom—were the people who made out like bandits as pretty much everyone else suffered. But they weren’t crooks. They made a straight bet to short the market based on what they saw happening.

Matt Taibbi’s Griftopia, on the other hand, is about the crooks. And if The Big Short made you upset, Griftopia will make you want to scream like a hungover stockbroker berating a barista for forgetting the third espresso shot.

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Dave Eggers

I will not wait to love as best as I can. We thought we were young and that there would be time to love well sometime in the future. This is a terrible way to think. It is no way to live, to wait to love.

-What Is the What

An Era of Nonchalance: What Nairobi Says About Us

When I was still in high school, I went with my mother to see George Carlin do stand up in Las Vegas. It was a bad idea. I had known him as that kinda funny old dude who popped up in movies like Dogma. While I knew his reputation as the man who made “the seven words you can’t say on television” famous, I assumed that in retrospect his act would appear tame. Perhaps not Sinbad tame—more like watching Midnight Cowboy. I quickly discovered that although Carlin can tone it down to play grandpa in the movies, his act was not for the grandkids. I endured an hour and a half of not laughing at funny jokes, lest my mother see me. Continue reading

Past Due: Elmore Leonard

Elmore Leonard always seemed like one of those authors I should get around to reading. He was a popular writer, and in my mind I associated him with a Dennis Lehane or a James Ellroy. Not that I would know—I’ve never read them either. Like most voracious readers, my bookshelf is stocked with books I will never read by authors I’ve been told I will like.

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