Drinking Liberally Virginia Beach Chapter Blog

March Meeting Reminder

This month's meeting has sneaked up on me because it's as early in the month as it can possibly be and I've had distractions. For one thing, my cell phone wore out, but I've had it for four years and it didn't owe me a dime. It still did things, but the battery was losing its stuff and replacing a smartphone battery is becoming a thing of the past, so I have been getting the new one all configured up.

I will be there Thursday, though, and I hope you will to; that's March 8, at Croc's 19th Street Bistro, 620 19th Street, Virginia Beach, one block east of the Virginia Beach Convention Center (map).

Given the past month, I suggest that the "District of Columbia" could aptly be renamed the "District of Chaos." Here are some links that elucidate why:

Will Bunch suggests that, in the current discussions about school shootings, government has abdicated its role to corporations. I have two observations: how venal is a society that countenances routine massacres of children, and this surprises you how?

Dick Polman discusses the man who would be king.

Jay Bookman has no sympathy for Georgia's "conservative" snowflakes.

Talking Points Memo reports that some Republican governors have decided that special elections to fill vacancies are too special to share with the citizenry.

"Republican Family Values" continue to astound (or maybe that's "confound").

Eric Dietrich tries to make sense of America's love affair with guns.

Daniel Ruth trolls the bots.

Billy Maddalon points out that the state of U. S. Health Care disproves Americans' comforting conceit of "exceptionalism."

Kevin Siers pictures the cycle of insanity.

See you Thursday.

February Meeting Reminder

I hope you make it to our monthly gathering on Thursday, February 8, at Croc's 19th Street Bistro, 620 19th Street, Virginia Beach, one block east of the Virginia Beach Convention Center (map). It has certainly been an eventful month. As Bob Cesca is fond of pointing out, the Trump tennis ball machine just keeps on firing.

The latest event, natch, was Devin Nunes's nothingburger. In the long tradition of twisted stories and false stories promoted by Republicans (Benghazi, Hillary's emails, and so on), it was another scamdal to distract attention. Cynthia Dill comments on this tactic and on the media's willingness to allow itself to be gulledd, while Bret Stephens lets his imagination run free.

I have a larger concern about this pestilential parade. Each one of the scamdals is one more drip eroding the polity and the foundations of governance, and, as the Grand Canyon bears witness, little drips cause great erosion.

I am less than sanguine about the future of this noble experiment. Remember, experiments fail, even noble ones.

Here are some other pieces which I consider worth noting:

Chauncey Devega explores the symbiotic relationship between the evangelical "Christian" right and Donald Trump, while Tony Norman tells the parable of a grand bargain.

In a video, Thom Hartmann exposes the privatization scam for the con that it is. (Warning: he gets a bit heated, and deservedly so.)

Last Sunday's New York Times had a fascinating article about the buying, selling, and faking of social media followers. Read it before you are tempted to a judge social media character by the number his or her followers.

Elie Mystal worries whether the concept of the "rule of law" has become obsolete in Trump's America.

Note: If you don't see us at our normal place in the bar, look for us in the restaurant. Last month, the bar was overflowing, so we took some tables in the restaurant. The Croc's staff was most accommodating, allowing us to pull tables together as the crowd grew.

January Meeting Remindeer

I hope you have managed to dig out from the snow to be at our meeting on Thursday, January 11, at Croc's 19th Street Bistro, 620 19th Street, Virginia Beach, one block east of the Virginia Beach Convention Center (map).

Note: I normally test the links in these emails in the "Preview" function here at LivingLiberally.org. I was unable to do so for some fool reason (I tried two different browsers), so I have included each link below in the clear below the lines referencing it, figuring that too careful is better than not careful enough.

We are in parlous times. I commend Isaac Bailey's editorial in the Charlotte Observer to your attention. Here's an excerpt:

In less than two and a half centuries, we've gone from a president who freely gave up power so there would be no kings in America, to one who wants to be treated like one.

http://www.charlotteobserver.com/opinion/editorials/article193221264.htm...

In other worthwhile reading, Rex Huppke divines Donald Trump's rules for self-congratulation.

http://bangordailynews.com/2018/01/04/opinion/contributors/no-one-has-be...

George Lakoff and Gil Duran offer pointers on how not to get sucked into the Trump tweeterverse.

http://www.sacbee.com/opinion/california-forum/article193085404.html

Will Bunch visits a forgotten country, and Dick Polman tires of the endless reams of attempts to understand "the Trump voter," arguing, in essence, that we already do.

http://www.philly.com/philly/columnists/will_bunch/trump-make-america-gr...
http://www.sacbee.com/opinion/california-forum/article193085404.html

Jay Bookman analyzes the dialetic of Trumpery.

http://jaybookman.blog.myajc.com/2018/01/02/opinion-this-story-isnt-abou...

Charles Matthews wonders whatever happened to the "Gospel of love."

http://www.post-gazette.com/opinion/Op-Ed/2017/12/31/We-white-Christian-...

And, on a lighter note, Talking Points Memo has announced the winners of the 2017 Golden Duke Awards.

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/golden-dukes-2017-winners

Hope to see you Thursday.

Monthly Meeting Reminder for December

I hope to see you at our December meeting on Thursday, December 14, at Croc's 19th Street Bistro, 620 19th Street, Virginia Beach, one block east of the Virginia Beach Convention Center (map). We certainly have much to discuss.

The flood of news about sexual harassment and misconduct has continued. I know that there is nothing new about the harassment; I expect that every woman at some point has been the target of some form of unwelcome behavior. What seems new is that women have been willing to talk about it. I hope they are not shamed back into silence.

What I find most confusing is the occasional articles and statements from men claiming that they somehow no longer know how to behave.

What, I wonder, is confusing about the notion that one should not disrobe in the workplace before subordinates or touch someone without permission? The degree of purposeful stupid leaves one aghast. For any man who is legitimately confused, The Denver Post's Kristin Kafer offers some guidance.

(As an aside, I commend to your attention this video, in which one of Seth Meyers's writers dissects the anatomy of male apologies.)

The hollowness of Republican claims to be the party of "family values" has never been more apparent than in its support of "Judge" Roy Moore. At Psychology Today Blogs, Nigel Barber offers a theory as to why persons who given to caterwaul about "family values" are so frequently caught out violating the very values they claim to value. Brian Greenspun wonders how anyone can deny the validity of the allegations against "Judge" Roy Moore; Josh Marshall, talking specifically about Donald Trump, thinks he may know part of the reason.

I will not belabor the Senate's passage of the Republican tax plan; it has been much covered. I will call your attention to a column at the Bangor Daily News explaining just how mythbegotten a bill it is.

Dick Polman offers a summary of last week in stupid.

As Christmas is nearing, I urge you to exercise care in giving internet-enabled toys and gadgets; many of them come with spying as a feature, not a bug. I direct your attention to the Mozilla Foundation's Guide, Privacy Not Included. (For the life of me, I cannot understand how persons will get all worked up about the NSA, then quite happily run naked through Facebook or Google!)

Speaking of Christmas, Susan Campbell reminds us that once, three hundred years ago, there was indeed a war on Christmas in the United States and the combatants were not who you might think.

I hope to see you Thursday.

Happy holidays.

What a Month! (November Meeting Reminder)

I look forward to this month's meeting on Thursday, November 9, at Croc's 19th Street Bistro, 620 19th Street, Virginia Beach, one block east of the Virginia Beach Convention Center (map). I need a respite from the torrent of drama and the cavalcade of stupid that has become our norm.

I was particularly taken aback by General John Kelly's assertion that the Civil War resulted from a "failure to compromise," when, in fact, it resulted from the slave states' refusal to compromise. His historical ignorance led to many responses, but the one I recommend is from Will Bunch of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The North may have won the war, but Kelly's remark illustrates how thoroughly the South won the peace. The South weaponized racism and propagated propaganda about a "land of gracious living" peopled by "Southern gentlemen and Southern belles" that never existed except in Gone with the Wind and other pieces of preposterous puffery, while papering over the violence and brutality that paid for those "Southern mansions."

That propaganda has penetrated the nation's soul and perverted white Americans' view of themselves, of their virtues and faults, and of their fellow citizens and residents.

Perhaps the most sensational story of the month has been the shocking revelation that powerful men harass and assault women and, sometimes, men in the workplace. As Claud Rains in Casablanca was shocked, shocked! that gambling was going on in Rick's Cafe, even as he pocketed his winnings, the media seems shocked that a proportion of persons in entertainment and media, as well as every other industry and organization, are predators.

I've been lucky as I must say that, in none of the places I've worked–and by that I mean my own little corners of the companies, not the companies as a whole–have I heard of, let along witnessed, predatory sexual behavior such as that recently in the news.

I know that such conduct went on in parts of at least one company I worked for. It was early in my career when one of my co-workers told me, "No woman wants to be in the elevator with [Vice President X]. He thinks every woman in [Department Y] is a member of his harem." He did, too.

The recent news stories in no way surprise me. As Historiann (Professor Ann Little) explains, such predation is part of a larger strategy for keeping junior members of an organization junior and subservient.

What's different this time is that women have gathered the courage to speak out. I hope that this will not turn out to be but a fleeting moment, though I rather expect that it may.

I'll wrap this up with a few other articles of interest:

Paul Krugman considers Paul Ryan's Con Man Caucus.

The Register looks at the mechanics of how Facebook made itself vulnerable to Russian tomfoolery during the campaign and at the Zuckerborg's promises to clean up its act.

Dick Polman thinks that the Mueller indictments pose the Republican Party with a stark choice between the rule of law and the rule of the lawless.

A Trump supported claims that not being allowed into a bar because he was wearing a MAGA hat is somehow religious discrimination. (I guess any false prophet can find a follower.)

Alfred Doblin wonders, "What's the deal, here?"

And, in Left Blogistan, Badtux has been on a roll (warning: language).

See you Thursday.

October Meeting Reminder

I was really sorry to miss last month's gathering, but, trust me, you did not want to be exposed to my cold. It's all gone now and I look forward to this month's meeting on Thursday, October 12, at Croc's 19th Street Bistro, 620 19th Street, Virginia Beach, one block east of the Virginia Beach Convention Center (map)

There's certainly much to discuss, from what Bob Cesca refers to as the "Twitter Toddler in the White House" to the horrifying ammosexual acts in Las Vegas.

At Psychology Today Blogs, Roy Eidelson explores how the NRA uses fear to sell guns.

How Facebook, Twitter, and other "social" media businesses (and, remember, they are businesses in it for the money, though they parade themselves as "services") became accomplices in spreading lies during the 2016 campaign has been much in the news. In a case study, Kevin Roose explores how they were employed in attempts to spin the coverage of the Las Vegas shooting.

Too little coverage, though, is given to why persons are so willing to believe dodge "news" when two minutes of searching the web will thoroughly debunk it. Perhaps this recent column by Leonard Pitts, Jr., in which he decries the fact-free nature of our discourse, sheds some light on that. On a related topic, Duncan Black, who I met at the Philly Chapter of DL, skillfully satirized the spineless emptiness of "centrists" and centrism.

Amy Fried discusses the Four D's of Trumpery, while Timothy Egan points out that they are working out quite nicely, thank you very much.

It is common to hear Donald Trump's appeal described as "Populist." If you know the history of American Populism, you know that is did not start as an overtly racist movement or as an appeal to bigotry; rather, it was a farmers and workers movement. Diane McWhorter explains how "populism" was kidnapped by racists.

On a personal note, we have subscribed to Sunday home delivery of the New York Times; it's a week's worth of good reading, except for the space wasted on bothsiderism by two of their regular columnists and the occasional visiting empty centrist of the type Duncan Black lambasted. (In case you are unclear about bothsiderism, Driftglass is happy to explain it.--Warning: His language can be heated.)

See you Thursday!

September Meeting Reminder

I'm looking forward to seeing you at our September gathering on Thursday, September 14, 2017, at at Croc's 19th Street Bistro, 620 19th Street, Virginia Beach, one block east of the Virginia Beach Convention Center (map). The continuing cavalcade of crazy has certainly given us much to talk about.

We all should extend prayers and good wishes for the victims of Harvey and Irma. I lived through several hurricanes when I was growing up in the country.

The farm house was not significantly damaged--it had been standing since 1912 and was built when 2x4s were actually two inches by four inches; it wasn't going anywhere.

After Donna, we were without power for a week. We had an electric water pump which was out of action, but, being in the country, my father dug an old pitcher pump out of the barn and sank a new well. I have trouble wrapping my mind around the damage and deprivation that living in a flooded city must bring.

In a related item, Dick Polman considers the Republican response to Hurricane Harvey in the light of their reactions to Sandy.

Neo-Nazis have been much in the news lately. In The Roanoke Times, John Ketwig recalls when America had an active Nazi movement in the 1930s. This is a must-read, for it recalls a bit of American history that has been little acknowledged since the truth of Hitler became apparent.

At Talking Points Memo, Josh Marshall has a long and thoughtful article on the corporate power of Google (and, by extension, Facebook and other "social" media companies).

In The Charlotte Observer, Molly Roberts wonders whether we are looking for performers or presidents in politics. Given that a reality show "star" is now sitting in the White House, I think she may be onto something.

If you read the Pilot, you have no doubt seen many letters claiming that removing Confederate monuments is somehow "erasing history" (it's not, but that's another discussion). At NorthJersey.com, Bruce Lowry muses on history that has indeed been, if not erased, ignored. In a related piece, Seattleite Jade O'Neill tells of pulling over to use her cellphone on the street where she grew up and being told by a passerby to leave because she doesn't belong there.

Leonard Pitts, Jr., looks at NFL players having the temerity to protest and argues that "uppity" is still a thing. (Full Disclosure: I'm so fed up with the antics of the NFL and the NCAA that I no longer watch big time sports, other than the occasional baseball game.)

Those are a few of the articles that have provoked my thoughts over the past two weeks. I look forward to having you provoke my thoughts on Thursday.

The Continuing Cavalcade of Stupid

The continuing cavalcade of stupid shows no signs of reaching its crescendo. Each day brings news that would have been considered impossible before January 21 of this year.

The Neo-Nazi, white supremacist march in Charlottesville was certainly not unprecedented ("Alt-Right" is yet another attempt at rebranding racism); indeed the violence was minimal in comparison to other events in American history. Chattel slavery is America's original sin, and American racism was invented to provide a philosophical justification for it.

What is notable is the pushback. A number of Neo-Nazi, white supremacist websites have lost their hosting providers and Twitter accounts, while CEOs and academicians resigned from a number of admittedly mostly meaningless White House advisory committees in protest of President Trump's vile-spirited reaction to the murder of Heather Heyer. I am confident that the revulsion at their behavior caught the Neo-Nazi white supremacists quite off their guards, as, in their close-loop bubble, they no doubt expected a well-spring of support.

Here are some of the best articles I've seen about the events in C'Ville and related events of the couple of few weeks:

R. Dereck Black, son of the founder of the Neo-Nazi white supremacist website, Stormfront (find it yourself--I refuse to link to it), has repudiated his father's beliefs. In The New York Times, he writes of the strategy of white supremacy.

At the Notes from the Ironbound blog, Werner Herzog's Bear, who has a doctorate in history, discusses the history and purpose of Confederate monuments. He points out that they were not erected as memorials to the past, but rather as symbols of a "usable past" to justify and symbolize white supremacy and Jim Crow.

My local rag finds a monumental concomitance in the location of Confederate monuments in Norfolk.

On a similar theme of what I refer to as "Southern Twistory," retired history professor Halford Ryan lists some of the lies white Southerners tell themselves about their history.

In a view from afar, Der Spiegel, which knows something about Nazism, delivered two blistering editorials about the bigotry that seems central to Trumpery. One states baldly "Trump is a racist. He is a preacher of hate." In the other, they savage his insistence that "many sides" were somehow responsible for what happened in C'Ville.

Meanwhile, Alfred Doblin reminds us that "there aren't many sides to hatred, bigotry and violence, only one side: the wrong one."

Lane Crowthers, professor of political science, offers an illustration of how "reverse racism" (whatever the heck that means) actually works.

Leonard Pitts, Jr., for one, has no difficulty in placing the blame for the violence squarely where it belongs.

Soldier on, and remember to join us for our next gathering on September 14 at 6:00 p. m. on Thursday, August 10, at Croc's 19th Street Bistro, 620 19th Street, Virginia Beach, one block east of the Virginia Beach Convention Center (map).

August Meeting Reminder

I look forward to seeing you at our August gathering at 6:00 p. m. on Thursday, August 10, at Croc's 19th Street Bistro, 620 19th Street, Virginia Beach, one block east of the Virginia Beach Convention Center (map). It's clear that, in the these Trumpled times, August is no longer a slow news month. The speed of the stupid seems supersonic.

As usual, I commend to your attention some reading that I've found enlightening over the past few weeks. I open by urging you to read Tracey Meares's article, prompted by the number of police killings of unarmed persons, at the Boston Review about what's wrong with policing in America and what might be done to improve it. Indeed, I would recommend that you subscribe to the Boston Review's RSS feed; the articles there are generally well worth a look.

Here are some other items that I hope you will find interesting:

Will Bunch wonders whether "civil asset forfeiture" could be applied to Jeff Sessions in response to Sessions's prevarications about Russia. Clearly, it will never happen, but it's fun to think about.

Josh Marshall muses on the destructive spell that Donald Trump casts on his dupes, symps, and fellow travelers.

At Above the Law, James Goodnow considers Donald Trump's demand for personal loyalty from those same dupes, symps, and fellow travelers.

The Sacramento Bee describes the effects of trickle-down Trumpery on California's discourse (spoiler alert: the discourse is dis coarse)

In a marvelous analysis in Sunday's New York Times (I've subscribed for home delivery, even though they don't have comics), Carol Anderson explores how racism, bigotry, and the politics of white rage infuse Donald Trump's politics and political tactics.

In the Portland, Me., Press-Herald, Roger Bowen reflects on the Republican Party's embrace of denying reality as a core principle.

On a lighter note, you may get a kick out of The Local's examples of what Disney leaves out of their adaptations of Grimm's Fairy Tales so they aren't so, well, grim.

Also in The Local, James Savage describes how the public and legitimate news organizations got conned into believing a fake news story came from that publication, when, in fact, it did not. (It beats me how people get all gullible when they read something on a computer tablet when they would not believe the same something if Moses handed it to them on stone tablets.)

And, on a digital note, if you are Windows or Mac user and frequently use a text editor (Notepad, Notepad++, The Semware Editor, etc.), you may be interested to know that the KDE project has released the marvelous KDE text editor, Kate (my favorite Linux GUI text editor), in a Windows version. The Windows and Mac versions are still officially in "preview," but I've tested the Windows version and it works quite nicely.

I think we all can use the fellowship and good company. I hope to see you Thursday.

Thursday Meeting Reminder

I look forward to seeing you at our June gathering at 6:00 p. m. on Thursday, July 13, at Croc's 19th Street Bistro, 620 19th Street, Virginia Beach, one block east of the Virginia Beach Convention Center (map). It has certainly been an eventful month, as the tragic comedy of Trumpery swirls confusedly and chaotically.

That's the way I opened my last email. I see no reason to try to change it.

Following the news has become an effort--the torrent of bad and stupid and awful just seems to get worse. None the less, we must persevere and not pretend, as much of the press seems to be doing, that this is politics as normal.

I think that Leonard Pitts, Jr., expressed it well in a recent column.

Here are some other articles you may find interesting:

Lawrence B. Glickman reviews the evolution of right-wing talking points. (This one's a must-read.)

Alex Caron wonders whether you have a crazy uncle.

Will Bunch considers the New York Times story about Donald Trump, Jr., and his meeting with Russians to get dirt on Hillary Clintion.

Dick Polman looks at the relationship between Donald Trump and the publisher of the National Inquirer.

Tonya Jameson tells what it's like to be held at gunpoint by an off-duty policeman for acting lawfully while black.

Finally, Tony Norman marvels at the emptiness of the WWE Presidency of Donald Trump.

I look forward to a couple of hours of sanity with you all at Croc's on Thursday.