Look! A Squirrel!

As we come to a week when indictments might be unsealed in the Mueller investigation, we’ll be assailed by tons of diversionary bullshit launched by the Trump crowd from trebuchets positioned throughout rightwing media, including apparently the Wall Street Journal, almost certainly under orders from the Murdochs. Hillary! Uranium! Fusion GPS!

Trash Talk

We lost our way when the demise of the Fairness Doctrine opened the door for Roger Ailes and his buddies to introduce hyper-partisan political programming, much of it deliberately and gleefully coarse and mocking, to radio and television. The civic virtues of respectful disagreement and search for compromise had little chance against the slasher “entertainments” hawked by Rush and Sean and the Molotov cocktail throwers even farther out on what ought to be the fringes of our politics. Those of us across the aisle, having become targets of this unremitting vitriol, found ourselves put to the choice of responding to cheap memes and one-liners with measured argument or with our own trash talk. We’ve done a bit of both.

Forgiveness for the Kids

A foundation has given New York City’s public libraries a one-time grant of over two million dollars to enable the libraries to forgive the fines of 160,000 children:

On Thursday, the city’s three library systems — the New York Public Library, which serves Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island; the Queens Library; and the Brooklyn Public Library — will forgive all fines for children 17 and under and unblock their cards. The one-time amnesty is being underwritten by the JPB Foundation, a philanthropy that supports civic causes, which will make up $2.25 million of the shortfall in revenue from the forgiven fines.

The amnesty “is a dramatic way to message to kids and young adults that we want you back, and we want you reading,” said Anthony W. Marx, the president of the New York Public Library. The forgiveness is not conditional on returning any overdue books or DVDs. “We want you to be responsible, but we don’t want to penalize you just because you are too poor to pay the fines.”

— Sarah Maslin Nir and Jeffery C. Mays, New York City’s Libraries Will Forgive All Children’s Fines, New York Times, October 18, 2017.

Thoughts for the Day

  • As a goodwill gesture to my friends in Trump’s base, I’m pledging never to stay at a Trump property, thereby helping to ensure that a room will be available for them whenever they want one.
  • Trump tweets today that we are not going to be able to keep our FEMA teams in Puerto Rico “forever.” Understandable. After all, they might be needed from time to time right here in the good ole USA. So, my fellow Americans who’ve taken refuge, at least temporarily, here on the mainland. When election times roll around, please keep the GOP firmly in your thoughts, and give them what they so richly deserve.
  • Everyone should be clear that it is not just the GOP that is failing in its duty. Ms. Pelosi and the Democratic leadership on the Hill are actively working against impeachment, despite the transparent and mounting danger to the republic.
  • If memory serves, I’ve never referred to Trump’s hardcore base as stupid. That would be far too generous, letting them off the hook. Some fraction of them are wilfully ignorant, preferring to wallow in propaganda than to search out the truth. Some are malicious. But they’re not stupid.
  • The NFL owners who’ve knuckled under to Trump, lending credence to Trump’s lie that kneeling is unpatriotic, are themselves about as unpatriotic as you can get, ready to sacrifice freedom of expression to make a buck.