• How to Talk to Trump-Hating Millennials This Thanksgiving

    November 22, 2017 // 7 Comments »

    Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving (Not in Iraq)


    With Thanksgiving fast approaching, many freshmen college students will be heading home for the first time to confront their ignorant, racist parents. Semi-employed millennials will leave their joblets to endure a long weekend of Dad and Uncle Mark spouting fascism between tearing hunks of non-free range turkey flesh off bone.


    To prepare these young people for the ordeal, the Internet will soon be running guides, such as “How to share a table with relatives whose views you abhor.” A Google search for something like “how to talk to family at thanksgiving about Trump” brings up a cornucopia of advice. Young folks are told to listen to the olds’ racism with compassion and to realize we are threatened by our impending extinction. The job for youth alongside the turkey and gravy? “We have to put in the messy and unfun labor of listening to complaints about modern America, and then offer solutions that aren’t built on fear and hatred for the other.”


    Well, that’s fine for telling them how to deal with us. But here are our tips for young people on how to better prepare for a Thanksgiving political showdown.


    1) Take a moment to note history did not begin on 11/09/16. Mother and I want you to know Trump’s wars started under Bush and Obama. Much of the assault on our civil rights, particularly the devolution of the First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments, began right after 9/11. The CIA, NSA, FBI, Robert Mueller, John McCain, and others may be rock stars today because you think they’re part of #TheResistance, but each has a long history of serving the deep needs of the State. I read 1984 in high school, and Handmaiden’s Tale was written before you were born, so no need to quote them to me. Pass the beets, willya? Who doesn’t like beets?


    2) Everyone can have an opinion, but you might want to listen more closely to the one held by somehow who has studied a particular subject her whole life. Some things have such a history behind them that they are “facts.” If you want to read informed content on federal contracting in regard to Puerto Rico, the lawyers at POGO are better than the kids at Daily Beast, for example. “Conspiracy” in legal filings doesn’t mean spying, it means only that more than one person worked together to commit a crime; lawyers know this, dudes on Twitter do not. So careful about “hot takes;” what you want instead in most cases is a well-debated question among experts. Read The Death of Expertise to learn how intellectual egalitarianism cripples informed discussion. Think about Uncle Mark’s coffee mug, the one that says “Your Google search is not the same as my medical degree.”


    3) For the love of all good things, look up the definition of “fascism” and read a bit about the rise of Hitler before citing each as a response to every thing in the news that frightens or offends you. Might as well dig into causes of the civil war and history of early compromises on slavery in American instead of citing blurbs from the Trevor Noah show about the roots of racial inequality. The people on late night TV are comedians. You are not better informed by listening to their jokes. Entertainment isn’t education. Damn, the stuffing is good this year. Why don’t we have this more than once every twelve months?


    4) Freedom of speech means protecting the right of someone to say things without necessarily endorsing their content. The Supreme Court has repeatedly said no to banning hate speech. The ACLU supports the First Amendment rights of nazis. Get with the program. The rights you defend are in reality your own.


    5) The nation is not at the edge. Democracy is not dying in darkness. The issues of today can be important without being apocalyptic. Nobody is setting up labor camps for LGBTQ illegal immigrant POC refugees. A few nazi cosplayers at a rally are not the same as Crystal Nacht, nor are they likely a predecessor to that. You sound like bad dystopian fan fiction. Get off the ledge – America survived a civil war, two world wars, and a real constitutional crisis surrounding Watergate and Richard Nixon. A President who Tweets is not the end of us. And stop sounding gleeful alongside CNN when you predict it might be.


    6) There’s a bunch of important stuff going on you don’t seem to be focused on. If you’re looking for things to change, speak out against the war in Afghanistan, now in its 16th year. You and the soldiers deployed there wore Huggies when it started; pretty much the same for the fighting in Iraq. You’re worried about the treatment of Muslims at America’s airports? Cool; spare a thought for the treatment of Muslims in the multiple nations where America is making war at present. More gravy?


    7) Learn how to read critically and think skeptically. The media environment is rough, with “facts” increasingly corrupted by ideology, and speed of publishing a hot take taking precedence over getting the story right. Be skeptical of reports you absolutely agree with, especially if they are based on anonymous sources. Ask yourself who would really know what the President said in a closed door meeting first-hand, and why would they leak that? There’s usually an agenda, by either the writer, the source, or both, so try and understand it. You might actually have to read multiple media outlets, some representing a point of view you don’t agree with, to get a full picture.


    8) Thoughtful criticism of a (black, female, etc.) candidate is not racism/sexism/bigotry/misogyny, it’s thoughtful criticism. A good line of questioning by a black, female, etc., candidate isn’t brave, fierce, courageous or an attack on the patriarchy, it’s just a good line of questioning. Lotta turkey this year; you want seconds?


    9) In the real world, you can’t slam the door on arguments with single-word retorts like Mansplaining! Benghazi! The Emails! Putin! Whataboutism is not a one-word alternative to the real intellectual work of sorting out history, precedent or parallels that matter. Two things can both be wrong. A bad thing by a Democrat does not cancel out something bad a Republican did. It might be necessary to talk about both. Some ideas cannot be explained in 280 characters. Some require whole books. Don’t dismiss an argument because learning about it is more work than thumbing a scroll wheel.


    10) Talk is fun. But somebody has to in the end do some real work if anything is going to get fixed around here, so help clean up after Thanksgiving dinner.




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    Copyright © 2017. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity. Follow me on Twitter!

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    Happy Thanksgiving 2012!

    November 22, 2012 // 2 Comments »

    To celebrate Thanksgiving, here is a video of our Thanksgiving at FOB Hammer in Iraq, November 2009. As part of the celebration, the officers served dinner to the enlisted men and women. I assisted– because I had a beard, I am the one wearing a facemask stretched over the lower part of my chin.


    You could almost write a book based just on the history of Thanksgivings in our war in Iraq. Remember in 2003, flush with manly, victory-laced testosterone, George W. Bush secretly flew into Iraq to have turkey dinner with the troops? Then, during the boom years of occupation, no expense was spared to provide a full, all-the-trimmings Thanksgiving feast for our men and women in uniform, such as you can witness in the video above.


    Meanwhile, as we ate out meal in 2009, in the freedom city of Basra on Thanksgiving Day, at least nine people were killed and 40 wounded when three bombs exploded in a market. Many of the casualties were police and soldiers who responded to the scene of the first blast, officials said. Hospital sources put the toll at nine dead and 40 wounded, while a police source said 11 people were killed and 42 wounded.

    Happy Thanksgiving to all!



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    Happy Thanksgiving!

    November 24, 2011 // Comments Off on Happy Thanksgiving!

    To celebrate Thanksgiving, here is a video of our Thanksgiving at FOB Hammer in Iraq, November 2009. As part of the celebration, the officers served dinner to the enlisted men and women. I assisted– because I had a beard, I am the one wearing a facemask stretched over the lower part of my chin.



    (In case the video is not embedded for you, follow this link)

    You could almost write a book based just on the history of Thanksgivings in our war in Iraq. Remember in 2003, flush with manly, victory-laced testosterone, George W. Bush secretly flew into Iraq to have turkey dinner with the troops? Anybody expect Obama to drop by this year? Then, during the boom years of occupation, no expense was spared to provide a full, all-the-trimmings Thanksgiving feast for our men and women in uniform, such as you can witness in the video above.

    Now, in 2011, many troops enjoyed MRE meatloaf, or frozen turkey parts in a stryofoam tray. Here at home, military families at bases outside of Washington DC lined up for charity turkeys because their food stamps would not stretch to pay for the traditional feast.

    Meanwhile, in the freedom city of Basra on Thanksgiving Day, at least nine people were killed and 40 wounded when three bombs exploded on Thursday in a market in Iraq’s southern oil city of Basra, police and hospital sources said.

    Many of the casualties were police and soldiers who responded to the scene of the first blast, officials said.
    Hospital sources put the toll at nine dead and 40 wounded, while a police source said 11 people were killed and 42 wounded.

    Happy Thanksgiving to all!



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    Copyright © 2017. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity. Follow me on Twitter!

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    Thanksgiving Dinner, FOB Hammer

    April 15, 2011 // Comments Off on Thanksgiving Dinner, FOB Hammer

    Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving (Not in Iraq) A little lighter touch for a sunny Friday. Video from FOB Hammer, showing Thanksgiving dinner served to the troops. The leadership at Hammer arranged for the officers (and me, at 00:23 in) to serve the enlisted men and women of 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division.

    In between the politics and sad stories of waste and dumbness, my book also includes lighter chapters, such as one on the joys of Army food: DFAC, T-rats, and MREs.

    The MREs could be nasty. In the words of one soldier, “You can live on them but you shit rocks from having done so.” Sorry. Sometimes the truth isn’t nice.




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    Copyright © 2017. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity. Follow me on Twitter!

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    Posted in Other Ideas, Trump

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