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The Tragedy of “Just Following Orders”

Posted by Gail Barth on


I guess it hasn’t escaped anyone’s notice that an awful lot of evil throughout history has been perpetrated by people claiming they were “just following orders.” If you’ve ever read anything about the infamous Nuremberg Trials where the Nazis were tried for their horrific crimes against humanity during World War II, then you’re probably familiar with what became known as the Nuremberg defense, which invoked the claim that they were bound to obey ‘superior orders.’ These military tribunals established that this defense didn’t absolve war criminals of their guilt; at most, it merely mitigated it.

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The Adults in the Room have Been Sent to the Cornfield

Posted by Rob Mania on


The New York Times published an anonymous op-ed which tried to convince the American people that, don’t worry, there are adults in the room with Trump.

No, there are not.

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John McCain: A Republican for the 20th Century

Posted by Rob Mania on


Many of the left are honoring John McCain for standing up to a future Trump voter who had said, “I can’t trust Obama, he’s…he’s an Arab.” McCain was gob smacked for a moment, before he responded that Obama was a good man, but with a viewpoint he disagreed with. The woman he spoke to, just to be clear, misremembered a racist and untrue conspiracy theory, so she was, to be blunt, stupid and racist. I’m in no rush to canonize McCain, because he was a Republican for thirty years, and therefore was on the front line on the Reagan/Bush policies that decimated the middle class, filled our prisons with minorities, and overfed the military-industrial complex that Eisenhower warned us about. But I think it’s worth taking a moment to appreciate the fact that McCain was, to steal a phrase, a decent man whose ideas I disagree with, but was ultimately unable to separate himself from the enormity of the Trump Republican party that used him as cover to legitimize itself before tossing him out like a Toys R Us catalog.

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Review: Dark Money

Posted by Gail Barth on


I went to a showing of the limited release documentary Dark Money today, and I walked out with a ton of anger and a dollop of hope. And while Trump is barely a mention, his presence is felt all the way through as the known poster boy for cheating his way into office. But it’s the state of Montana, traditionally a red state, that’s the star of this show. And as a Missourian who just celebrated the departure of our justifiably disgraced governor, I was at least partially aware of the power of so-called dark money. It was dark money and gullible voters that propelled Greitens into the governor’s mansion, with his assurance to the money behind Right to Work that turning Missouri into a RTW state was his priority. True to his word, he overrode Missouri voters, who consistently voted against it, but a referendum resulting from a campaign organized masterfully by Missouri’s unions killed Goliath, and Missouri remains a non-RTW state. This is just one major battle, albeit a very important one, that Missourians fought; spunky Montana has been in the middle of political turmoil going back to the early twentieth century.

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A Most Unremarkable Man

Posted by Gail Barth on


I saw on the news today where the investigators dealing with Stephen Paddock, the Las Vegas shooter, said they’ve called a halt to the investigation   Paddock killed 58 concert goers and wounded a hundred more, and they have no motive and will probably never have one. Apparently he was a pretty ordinary guy; they said he was an ‘unremarkable man.’ I wondered how someone like this maniac would react to being called unremarkable. After all of his planning, stockpiling of weapons, picking his time, I would think that in his case, as I believe it is with most others who carry out such acts, unremarkable is not what he was going for. I’m sure that in sick, distorted minds like his, the object, beyond the killings themselves, would be to attain a certain glory. Get copious attention. Earn fame through the spilling of blood. Being labeled unremarkable would be a huge disappointment, even devastating.

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Extinction of All the Right Species

Posted by Gail Barth on


The environmental news lately hasn’t been good. Well, let’s face it, it hasn’t been good since Trump took office. As is his perverse way, Trump surrounds himself with substandard individuals who possess no skill sets for their particular jobs who are guaranteed to take everything President Obama did and hit rewind; the environment is no exception. Last week, lawmakers gutted the Endangered Species Act and environmentalists are up in arms. The resulting proposals would, according to Brett Hartl of the Center for Biological Diversity, “slam a wrecking ball onto the most crucial protections for our most endangered wildlife (Darryl Fears, Washington Post). Hartl further claims that if these regulations existed in the 70s, the bald eagle and gray whale would now be extinct.

 

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Shitler’s Irony

Posted by Gail Barth on


Republicans get indignant when comparisons are made between Hitler and Trump, and between the Nazis and the Republican congress. Actually, I don’t know how upset Trump gets, as I doubt he has enough understanding of history to even be insulted by the comparison. At any rate, it motivated me to look back through history at Nazi Germany and see how Hitler was able to get gentiles on board with his agenda and Jews to be, at least initially, lulled into a false sense of security that made them easier to manage. I discovered that irony played a role in his success in this regard; he used ironic names and labels to effectively mask what was really going on. And coincidentally, so do the Republicans and their clownish leader.

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Trump-Putin Loyalty Program

Posted by Gail Barth on


I’m assuming that someone like Putin who demands absolute loyalty from his employees must surely have a pretty impressive rewards program. Probably leading the way, of course, would be allowing them to live, but there are surely other perks that don’t quite qualify as life or death, but nonetheless are shiny and enticing. This would be especially important for someone like Donald Trump, the Putin employee whose unquestioning loyalty Putin clearly has, but who is possessed of a watch-the-silly-monkey-dance distractibility, as it were. Putin would have to keep it alluring, fun, and easy to understand. With that in mind, here are the top rewards that, according to fake news, have been given to Trump from his Russian bestie:

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    Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

    Posted by Gail Barth on


    I ducked into a local theater today to see a movie I’ve been wanting to see for weeks: Won’t You Be my Neighbor, the much acclaimed documentary about Fred Rogers, known to millions of children as Mister Rogers. I started crying a mere five minutes in and continued on and off for the entire hour and a half.

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    Real Fake News

    Posted by Gail Barth on


    I did something today that I try to never do: I shared fake news—REAL fake news, not Trumpian fake news—on social media. The article in question dealt with Trump’s upcoming trip to England. I try to be very careful before passing items along; I go to Snopes or Truth or Fiction.com, or at least look for multiple confirmations on Google. But not today. Not this time. And I’m aware of the possible ramifications of my actions since it’s this sort of behavior that resulted in an eminently qualified candidate being torpedoed in 2016 in favor of a maniac with no job skills and fewer morals. So I make no excuses for what I did today. I make no excuses—but I do claim a certain justification based on over a year’s worth of life under Trump.

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