I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.
Edgar Allen Poe
The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
- H. L. Mencken
Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so
What I have been telling you, from alpha to omega, what is the one great thing the sigil taught me — that everything in life is miraculous. For the sigil taught me that it rests within the power of each of us to awaken at will from a dragging nightmare of life made up of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits, to see life as it really is, and to rejoice in its exquisite wonderfulness. If the sigil were proved to be the top of a tomato-can, it would not alter that big fact, nor my fixed faith. No Harrowby, the common names we call things by do not matter — except to show how very dull we are ...
-James Branch Cabell
January 12, 2018 - 11:02 a.m.
I almost didn't blog today, I couldn't think of a topic, then as I was about to switch over to reading the Times, I thought of the news I already knew, President Trump's latest display of racism and vulgarity. He is the worst president and a terrible person but he's a gift to writers. When you have nothing to write, wait 5 minutes and he'll commit an outrage.
I'm making a deliberate effort to not respond to the outrage with outrage. I will not respond to vulgarity with vulgarity. I used the honorific "President Trump;" his lack of respect for norms of behavior increases the onus on us to maintain them. Mr. Trump and the Republicans in general did not treat President Obama with respect. I will not emulate their behavior. I will act better.
There is a strong correlation between heightened disgust sensitivity and conservative ideology1. Disgust got the better of Mr. Trump yesterday. The previous day he met with congressman and said he was looking for a way to help the Dreamers and come to an agreement on immigration. Then yesterday when told that the deal would include Haiti and some places in Africa he asked why we should include immigrants from "shithole countries" rather than places like Norway. The disgust and racism displayed as if to illustrate the point. He had a visceral reaction to the thought of Africans and Haitians entering America. This requires a response from leading congressional Republicans. The only Republican that I have seen rebuke the president is Mia Love of Utah, she is of Haitian descent. If the Republicans want people to believe that their policies are not based on racism, they must call the president out on this and make clear that it has no place in serious political discourse.
The Republicans have an uphill battle fighting the appearance of bigotry. They are saying that they need to get something in return for allowing the Dreamers in to stay in the United States even though a YouGov survey put support for a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, which would give temporary legal status to young immigrants who were brought illegally to the U.S. as children, at 55 percent. Only 37% are in favor of building the border wall with Mexico2. You don't demand a concession to pass a law you think is right. It is up to principled conservatives to rebuke those that use bigotry for political ends. They exist, The New York Times house conservatives, Brooks, Stephens, Douthat, all have. I would like to see my friends on Facebook do the same. I would like Congress to issue a formal rebuke.
Mr. Trump started his campaign by maligning Mexico and Mexicans. That should have not only started his campaign but ended it. He should have been denounced immediately by not just the Democrats, not just liberals, not just by civil rights leaders, but by prominent Republicans and especially by conservative clergy, symbols of moral authority. Instead most were co-opted by now President Trump. It's time to draw the line. It's pointless to ask, "Why now? What has changed? The past can't be changed, the future can be. I know there will not be a wholesale break with the president but even if he lost 5% of his support this time it would help. The mountain of his bigotry does not need to be blown up, it can be eroded away.
We in the opposition must fight the urge to sink to Mr. Trump's level. The mud pit is his own turf. We can't let those who are less informed, less politically involved look from the outside and see two angry masses distinguished only by who they are angry at. Let them see on one side a mob with torches, and the other people who care about people, all people, not just their tribe.
I signed the Pro-Truth Pledge:
please hold me accountable.
Memories: Not that Horrid Song - May 29, 2018
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