You should really read Sheelah Kolhatkar’s New Yorker piece on conservative Sinclair Broadcast Group’s frightening creep across America and into people’s home.
“Vicious” is being used voraciously this week. Donald Trump and his allies are using the word to describe the investigation into Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, while Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s lawyer Michael R. Bromrich and others are describing Trump’s attacks on Ford in the same way.
Though we most often associate “vicious” with wild animals, it comes from the Latin lexeme “vitiosus”, meaning “depraved” or “wicked.” In essence, both Trump and his nemeses are calling the other wicked, a reality that cuts to the wick of the problem of bitter, seemingly intractable partisanship that’s blanketed America: it’s a fight for the very soul of Americas, a fight for the very definition of right and wrong in America. It really should be no contest, but, alas, too many people have been beguiled by the Trumpeteer.
To celebrate the author’s would-be birthday, a link to the piece I wrote when he died earlier this year.
Update: My apologies, today is not this Tom Wolfe’s birthday, but Tom C. Wolfe, author of Look Homeward, Angel, The Lost Boy, and The Web.
Brett Kavanaugh’s testimony last week made me want to wretch. And it wasn’t just for his grotesque display of white male rage at — the gall! — having to explain himself. Nor was it Kavanaugh’s “One of my closest friends to this day is a woman who was sexually abused” remark, though that was something truly repulsive. What really irked me, as a recovering alcoholic, was Kavanaugh’s repeated implications that his successes preclude a potential drinking problem. In the Supreme Court nominee’s mind, someone like him — a Yale graduate, a golden man-child, a former football player — could never have a drinking problem. Kavanaugh never said this outright, but this odious misconception wafted through the subtext like a stale beer.
I caught the first real whiff during Kavanaugh’s tense exchange with Senator Mazie Hirono, after the Democrat from Hawaii asked Kavanaugh if he’d been a heavy drinker in college. Kavanaugh, floundering and seething at this suggestion, deflected: “I got into Yale Law School. That’s the number one law school in the country. I had no connections there. I got there by busting my tail in college.” While Kavanaugh’s entire defense that day was built around his triumphs, here he was using his CV more pointedly: to nullify any implication of a drinking problem. In Kavanaugh’s eyes, academic and professional success not only negate any responsibility for alleged alcohol abuse — he made up for it in gold stars —, but the very possibility of alcohol abuse in the first place.
Happy Birthday, Yosemite! It was on 128 years ago today that the California Valley was designated a national park, a development spurred in large part thanks to Carleton Watkins’ incredible snapshots of the park, like the circa 1865 images above and below.* He was kind of like the John James Audubon of landscape.
Reprinted from coast to coast, Watkins’ exposed increasingly industrialized, urbanized Americans to nature’s bounty, convincing them and political leaders alike that our land deserves protection from ravenous, capitalistic development. If only contemporary politicians saw things the same way.
You can read all about Watkins’ impact on saving Yosemite in Tyler Green’s upcoming book, Watkins: Making the American West.
(*This development also helped precipitate the collapse of the racist, socialist Kaweah Colony.)
President Trump today, without any kind of evidence, claimed China is meddling in the 2018 midterm elections. Regrettably, we found that China has been attempting to interfere in our upcoming 2018 election coming up in November against my administration,” Trump said at the United Nations Security Council meeting today. “They do not want me or us to win because I am the first president ever to challenge China on trade.” Chinese representatives deny this claim.
This isn’t the first time the Trump administration’s made such an unfounded statement about China. The President claimed in last month that China hacked Hillary Clinton’s emails, a claim the FBI disputed, and National Security Director Dan Coats also previously pointed a finger at China, among others: “We have seen signs of not just Russia, but from China, and capabilities potentially from Iran, and even North Korea.” National Security Advisor John Bolton also made similar remarks.
It’s clear that Trump and his cohorts believe these preemptive remarks can explain away a potential GOP loss this November. He knows such a loss will not reflect poorly on him, but that it would imperil his whole presidency. Unfortunately for Trump, the GOP is all but conceding in some battlegrounds: The Hill reported today that The National Republican Congressional Committee has been pulling ad buys for struggling candidates, an indication they’re scrambling to save what seats they can.