Three things should be clear:
1. Trump's fantasy that he lost the popular vote due to voter fraud is just that.
2. An investigation into voter fraud by the Trump administration, especially one by Sessions-led DOJ, cannot be trusted.
3. A fraudulent investigation report that has not been pre-emptively or simultaneously met by independent investigations, and that legitimizes Trump's fantasy, would be an unmitigated disaster for democracy in the US.
To prevent the disaster in 3., a fund, or multiple funds, should be established by universities and private foundations to support multiple independent investigations for whatever Trump orders investigations for. I say multiple because Trump's admin. can be expected to give the results an "alternative facts" spin, which looks more ridiculous the more investigations there are. Let them offer to do it for Trump first, and then do it independently when he refuses. Let them have all the transparencies and checks that Trump investigations will not. Let them include scientists and researchers from multiple points on the ideological spectrum. Just don't let them be tied to the Trump administration in any way, shape, or form.
Point 1. is clear because there has already been research done and it indicates that voter fraud is rare. Even the highest estimates of fraud do not come close to justifying Trump's wild speculations. There is also no independent reason to believe that whatever fraudulent votes there were in the election favored Clinton by that wide of a margin.
Point 2. is clear because Trump himself repeatedly lies, and everybody has already seen that he sends his representatives out to lie to the American people. His administration betrayed the trust of all Americans from Day 1 and cannot be relied on to tell the truth. Period. Further, Trump lives by a tribalistic/Mafioso ethic of loyalty and vengeance. Sessions was Trump's earliest and most loyal defender, and has been duly rewarded. For Sessions to deliver anything other than a confirmation of Trump's fantasy would be a betrayal of the loyalty pact they have now consummated.
The way the investigation has been pitched so far is also unacceptable and indicates intended mischief. There has been talk of the investigation only targeting "big states", which is completely arbitrary. Even if there were some antecedent reason to think that fraud only occurs in "big states" it must ultimately be treated as an empirical hypothesis that cannot be tested if "small states" are left out of the investigation.
Finally, there is actual evidence and reason to think that voter suppression could have influenced the vote tallies in places like Wisconsin and North Carolina. If we are going to have a comprehensive investigation into mischievous influence on vote totals, investigating the effects of voter suppression must be a part of that. Truly principled conservatives should agree. If anything, government should facilitate voting. But the history of government regulation of voting is a history of restricting and suppressing the voting rights of particular groups in society. If this is genuinely a non-partisan issue for conservatives, they should be fully onboard with investigating whether and how current government regulations limit the abilities of people to exercise their voting rights.
Point 3. is clear because fraudulently legitimating this delusion of Trump's would genuinely put the USA deeply into Orwellian 1984 territory. It would provide conservative states all the justification they need to put even more restrictive regulations on voting rights. And the Trump admin. would employ intimidation tactics in an effort to force more liberal states to do the same. All of this together would more deeply divide the nation, possibly to the point of political violence.
Doesn't this reward Trump's childish behavior? Can we really expect investigators to hunt down every crazy claim Trump thinks should be investigated? Almost certainly no, to the first question. The results of a truly independent and thorough investigation are certain to disprove Trump's delusions, even if they turned up a little more fraud than previous investigations have. It would make the still sane, rational people in his administration discourage him from trying again. And when he nevertheless does try again, because he has that little self-control, he may be so discredited that it may not matter. Besides, 4 years (or less) of this is worth it to prevent disaster. Trust me, there are enough researchers, statisticians, and scientists out there who could and would love to take an outrageous Trumpism and use it for fodder to fund a legitimate investigation into something worthwhile.
To say more of what I envision: the fund or granting organization should be governed by a team of scientists/statisticians/researchers (SSR's), preferably well established ones (perhaps emeritus or close to retirement who are willing to volunteer some time) with well regarded records of work. For this particular (voting) investigation, assemble a team of political scientists, sociologists, statisticians, etc. to establish (and publish) a set of objectives for the investigation, and methods for achieving them. A team of SSR's with diverse ideological backgrounds should be found, though quality of past work should not be sacrificed to include every one who thinks they should be on it. This may inevitably cause some to denounce the investigation and say that they were locked out for no good reason. That's, like I said, inevitable, and what's more important is that there be a good deal of transparency, which will certainly be more than whatever the Trump team goes ahead with. Then let them hire fledgling SSR's to carry out the investigation.
Unfortunately, I don't have the kind of influence necessary to get something like this going. But I'm putting it out there anyway, believing that there is a minuscule chance that someone who does will see it and act. This investigation is the first major battle in the war against Trump's Orwellian nightmare and we, the American people, cannot afford not to have an army of our own.
www.albumism.com is a young internet gem started last year that has very thoughtful, knowledgeable reviews and a fresh set of preferences compared to, say, pitchfork. Examples:
They do tribute reviews of all time great albums!: http://www.albumism.com/features/tribute-celebrating-40-years-of-bootsys-rubber-band-ahh-the-name-is-bootsy-baby
They do nice, better than most in memoriam's and I appreciate that they didn't forget Bernie Worrell like so many others did: http://www.albumism.com/features/in-memoriam-celebrating-the-life-and-legacy-of-bernie-worrell
Check out their other stuff!
I just took a swipe at Pitchfork, whom I can't forgive for their decade long fawning all over Kanye West to the detriment of other great, better hip-hop. But here are some nice reviews from them, including one on a first-time-on-vinyl issue of a rare Funkadelic live album:
It's really a criminal shame how under appreciated Prince is when it comes to his musical range and genius. He released around 40 albums in his lifetime with songs that span the range of hard rock, pop, R&B, funk, hip-hop, blues, jazz, folk, and disco-ish/dance. And he has a vault that is storied to have even more recorded music. I like to believe that what's in it could make 3-4 more superstar careers, and he purposefully left it in there for that reason. Hopefully we'll find out.
Prince was one of the more successful artists at keeping his stuff off the websites. But there are bootlegs and recordings floating around out there that have been put on youtube and elsewhere. I've been getting into more of it recently, especially live stuff, and decided to share some of the best--mostly of what highlights his instrumental virtuosity and how different so much of what he did is from what he is famous for:
"Ultimate Blues Collection"; "Acoustic Collection"; An incredible collection of collections
In his later years, Maceo Parker toured with him, and jamming together brought out the best in both: funky guitar solo; funky bass solo.
There's a big asymmetry in what happens when funk and non-funk artists try to cover each other's songs. "Whole Lotta Love" was one of Prince's favorite songs to cover at one point. He would improvise a lot, so here are two of the best: from Indigo Nights and Vegas.
Prompted by the post from a few days ago on the best sentences in literature, I began thinking of favorite lines (not verses, not whole songs) from popular music. The websites don't have very good lists as far as I'm concerned, so below is a partial list of my own. Like any good song lyric, they each need to be heard in their musical context to be adequately appreciated, so I include links. Despite a couple of exceptions, I did not include rhymed lines--that can wait for another post. As you'll see, my own taste is for the expressive, direct, surreal, etc., but I welcome any flavor, so I hope you'll share your own favorites in the comments!
"I guess I shoulda known by the way you parked your car sideways that it wouldn't last" --Prince, Little Red Corvette
"Me, and everything around me, is unstable like Chernobyl" --Andre 3000 (Outkast), Millenium
"Most of my heroes don't appear on no stamps" -- Chuck D, Public Enemy, Fight the Power
"Have you ever felt the presence of a brain?" -- Parliament, The Presence of a Brain
"Raise up!, get yourself together, and drive that funky soul!" -- James Brown, People, Get up and drive your Funky Soul
"Give me your dirty love, like some tacky little pamphlet in your daddy's bottom drawer" --Frank Zappa, Dirty Love
"Long gone, like a turkey through the corn" -- Lightning Hopkins, Like a Turkey through the Corn
"God help us, help us lose our minds!" -- Talking Heads, Slippery People
"Baby, take off your cool" Andre 3000 and Norah Jones, Take Off Your Cool
"I'm all lost in the supermarket, I can no longer shop happily" --The Clash, Lost in the Supermarket
"You know he loved to drink good whiskey, while laughing at the moon"--War, Slipping Into Darkness
"Do I move you?" --Nina Simone
"Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego!" --Sly & The Family Stone, Loose Booty
(The only one I'll comment on: this one depends entirely on musical context to really appreciate, and it isn't a typical verse 'line' at all. I include it because it is an instance of how Sly Stone is popular music's unparalleled genius in using the human voice as a creative musical instrument, something he deserves more recognition for).
"Tangerine green, I know you don't know what I mean, it's just a feeling i get when i think about you" --Fuzzy Haskins, Tangerine Green
"I can't get into the neutron bomb" -- Funkadelic, Into You
"You're so retrosexy, whoa, so fine. Won't you go back in time to me?" -- Chucklehead, Retrosexy
And, as far as the weird, surreal, and absurd go, Beck should have a list unto himself.
Atlanta is one of the best new TV shows. Brain child of multi-talented Donald Glover, it portrays (in Glover's words) black experience, via (roughly) following the travails of Glover's character as he tries to manage his cousin's budding rap career. The best review I've come across, and well worth reading, is at The Verge . The show is witty, surreal, smart, subtle, beautifully shot, and excellently acted. I've laughed, experienced a range of emotions, and had my eyes opened. I can't speak to how adequately it captures black experience, but I would still recommend it to anyone 45-ish and under, and to anyone older who is curious about younger generations.
One of the things that really struck me was its (sparing) use of music and how it immediately aroused my attention to the contrast with most film and TV which, of course, has been primarily aimed at white audiences. Now, everybody loves the well placed song that triggers just the needed mood, and enlivens the action. It makes us all wish for a soundtrack at certain moments of our own lives. It is very often nostalgic. Think of the use of music in Forrest Gump for an anything-but-subtle version of this. But often the nostalgia is more hip, edgy: think of (more recent) Martin Scorsese and especially Quentin Tarantino who make virtues of finding forgotten, but-not-too-forgotten, songs from a bygone era of pop music to carry out their versions of this practice. It is often a "cool" rock song from the 60's or early 70's. If it is ever by a black artist or group, it is usually one that has a tradition of being hip or cool within the parameters of mainstream culture.
We are all familiar with the trope of an embattled protagonist summoning the courage to do the hard thing that they have to do and, as they set out to do it, a rousing, bold song cuts in, shining god-like upon them to buoy their determination. A particularly clever, funny version of this happens with one of the recurring characters in one of the episodes in Atlanta. And the song used, which made the episode for me, was Funkadelic's "Hit it and Quit it". Now, there is some reason for Funkadelic to fall within the wider parameters of what's "cool" in mainstream culture. Samples of its music powered some of the most popular and memorable periods of hip-hop, after all. But most of those samples came from Funkadelic's late period, when it began to move more toward dance rhythms and keyboards, like its counterpart band, Parliament. Because the latter was also sampled a lot, and because the collective was known as P-Funk, most people today associate a few funky dance songs with "P-Funk". But "Hit it and Quit it" comes from Funkadelic's early, psychedlic guitar-driven years. And that hasn't been included within the mainstream parameters of coolness yet. Perhaps that will now change. (Although, it should be noted that "coolness" is, explicitly, the antithesis of being funky in the ethical universe of P-Funk).
The best uses of songs in film/TV meld with the events in a way that alter and enrich your understanding of both the song and some element of the movie--a character, plot line, event, etc. And the very best uses help you see the world itself in a new way. Atlanta achieves this brilliantly in the last episode with a "minor" 90's hip-hop hit. One that is oft forgotten, but not-too-forgotten. Everything about it just works, and I encourage you to watch the series to find out why.
Here are some of the best web resources I've found for aiding the resistance. Please share ones you've discovered in the comments.
Guide to Getting Involved:
'Anti-Inauguration' (Mostly of temporary importance, but some good general ideas and links of lasting value)
Searchable database of virtually everything Trump has said:
Website tracking reports of Trumpian corruption:
"Trumpgrets": Website collecting reports of regret over voting Trump. Anecdotal, but revealing:
An excellent reading list concerning the times we now live in. It links to a couple of other reading lists, and this one is also a must see.
Trenchant analysis of behavior of Trump as Pres-elect as a guide to what to expect:
Trump already like an ape battling for domination over any perceived/possible rival, does not care for/understand separation of powers or other democratic norms. Expect more of same:
Trump's talent has always been PR. For how he is setting the stage for enacting his PR-without-substance genius is already under way and may cover up general failures:
On Journalism under Trump and our "post-truth" atmosphere generally:
Part I Analysis: pressthink.org/2016/12/winter-coming-prospects-american-press-trump/
Part II What to do: pressthink.org/2016/12/prospects-american-press-trump-part-two/
It is my conviction that citizens of both the US and the world can and ought to cooperate to resist Trump (and the rise of nativistic populism) despite otherwise wildly diverging ideological backgrounds. With that in mind, I recommend writers and media outlets from across the political spectrum. While I have a radical heart, I'm not interested in wading into debates over what approach/alternative media outlet is most authentically "LEFT!" and "therefore" best poised to resist Trump. So, I'll actually have more to say about right-wing resistors. And I'm happy for commenters to link to quality writers and sites on the far left that I leave out.
A recommendation for news aggregators is good to start, including ones that inform us about what the opposition is saying. So have Real Clear Politics available.
Republican and Conservative voices against Trump:
Evan McMullin, Mormon independent challenger to Trump in election, is emerging as one of most consistent conservative voices seeking bipartisan/broad spectrum collaboration against Trump. Even calls out fellow Republicans on racism/white nationalism stuff. Mostly on Twitter, but you can access his feed even if you aren't on Twitter here. In NYTimes. Interviewed.
As far as legislators go, McCain and Graham are getting press over the Russia stuff, and Rand Paul is likely to stand up to Trump as he has against most forms of strong government. But Ben Sasse, of Nebraska, is someone to watch. His opposition to Trump has been principled and consistent from the start, despite being a rookie Senator in a Trump loving state. His office was even receptive when I called to encourage him to keep opposing Trump on specific things.
Jennifer Rubin at Washington Post. Here she singles out conservatives w/ influence not folding to Trump.
David Frum at the Atlantic continues the conservative fight against Trump that he fought before the election (he even endorsed Clinton).
Rick Wilson, Michael Gerson continue their charge. George Will (syndicated), Bill Kristol (Weekly Standard), Kevin D. Williamson, Jonah Goldberg, and David French (last three of National Review) were all excellent critics of Trump right up until election day, often garnering the wrath of the worst of Trump's racist base. Since the election they have quited a bit and have been focused on getting parting jabs in against Obama. But they may arise again (they can earn a link when they do).
On to the center ---> left:
ProPublica should be on everyone's list anyway.
truthdig and truthout are two of the best independent outlets with great stuff re: Trump.
Bill Moyers often collects good things.
The Intercept is principled in holding conservative and liberal media and gov alike to account. That will be of increasing importance. Recent time spent in conservative internet land suggests that WashPost, NYTimes, and others have lost any credibility they still had among people inclined to support or be friendly to Trump. Places like The Intercept, which has been highly critical of WashPost on some recent shoddy journalism, can be insisted on as consistently credible.
Robert Reich with consistent analysis and recommendations of what to do and to look out for.
Sarah Kendzior has good insight. Often, her Twitter feed has stuff that the usual media misses or that she is way in front of them on.
Yascha Mounk, a political scientist working on rising threats to liberal democracy, now has a weekly column at Slate focusing on Trump, his tactics, and what can be done.
Shaun King of Black Lives Matter fame often has good stuff and often focuses on how Trump is emboldening the racist underbelly of US.
Robert Paul Wolff, retired professor, but not retired from decades of activism. He offers great analysis, observations, ideas, and encouragement. The kind of older, wiser comrade we all need!
Again, send stuff I'm missing in the comments!
Here's one list of best sentences in literature:
Here's an interesting analysis of the list:
Would love to know of others' favorite sentences.....