There was no red carpet, but Sarah Palin still stole the show. Now her supporters want to know: Will she run?
PELLA, IOWA -- Late in the afternoon, Democrats and other non-fans of Sarah Palin cleared out of downtown as a horde of supporters (and journalists) descended on the historic Pella Opera House for the Iowa premiere of "The Undefeated," filmmaker Steve Bannon's biographical movie of Palin. Just after 5 p.m., Palin and her husband, Todd, both smiling and dressed casually in jeans, arrived and ambled down Franklin Street greeting well-wishers. The event had the air of a revival; supporters had come from as far away as Dallas and were rapturous at the sight of their shepherd.
Earlier in the day, Palin's daughter had let slip in a television interview that her mother had made up her mind about a presidential run--but didn't say which way she was going to go. Before the heading into the theater, Palin spoke to reporters, but she didn't let on much either: "I told Bristol, too, what is talked about on the fishing boat stays on the fishing boat."
Then it was on to the show. Bannon made brief remarks about the making of "The Undefeated" and paid homage both to Pella's and to Palin's authenticity: "The hard-worn bricks outside the Pella Opera House are all the red carpet she needs." After a prayer, the Pledge of Allegiance, and spirited renditions of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" and "This is My Country," the lights went down and the movie began. The crowd thrilled to the celebration of their hero and seemed pumped up by the film's dramatic imagery--volcanoes, earthquakes, snipers, ferocious lions, and clip after clip of Palin fighting back against her sundry enemies. (Subtlety isn't part of the Bannon arsenal.) When Palin, in the film, declared "We are an exceptional country and that is not something to apologize for," the audience broke into whoops and cheers.
Then the lights when up, and the director, producers, and star took the stage to a standing ovation. Palin gave a brief, peppy stump speech and took a few swipes at the "lamestream media" before leading the crowd out of the theater and around the block to a giant barbecue (that, from the looks of it, attracted several hundred more revelers). Everyone look relaxed and happy and very pleased to be there.
There were, among the audience, I discovered, several--gasp!--liberals. To Bannon, this was good news. He told me that he hopes his film will inspire independents, conservatives and liberals to support Palin--and there are indeed aspects of Palin's career that could do so. But the liberals I spoke to afterward weren't yet persuaded. "I wasn't blown away," said Pat Schacherer, a young Pellan who'd scored tickets from a friend's mother and revealed that many of his like-minded college buddies had attended and were similarly unpersuaded. "The film lacked substance." Most of the crowd, however, seemed to love it.
Palin appears to have come to Pella primarily to support Bannon's film and cheer on her supporters. She didn't drop any overt hints about the presidency that I picked up on, besides pledging to devote "110 percent" to Iowa if she did run. Even so, crowd members kept approaching her and urging her to run, and after seeing the film, those feelings seemed only to intensify. There can be little doubt that if she does decide to run, Palin won't lack for committed Iowans. Several that I spoke to were skipping the barbecue to attend Tea Party caucus training sessions.
One of them, Craig Bergman, a burly, cowboy-hatted gentleman from Des Moines, was plainly inspired by what he saw. He sought out Palin's aide, Rebecca Mansour, and, grinning widely, exclaimed, "Now all she has to do is run!" I asked if he thought she would. "Look, there has never been a weaker field," he told me. "If she doesn't run, we're going to nominate one of the three stooges--Romney, Pawlenty, or Perry--and they're going to lose to Obama. That will ruin the party." The people around us nodded in agreement. I departed thinking that if Palin gets in, she'll have many energetic supporters--and that if she doesn't, she'll draw one heck of a backlash.
Carrie Bradshaw, Hugh Hefner, and Barbie have all helped construct a new generation's ideal woman, who is athletic, alluring, ... and waxed.
Meet Sophia Pinto: the 21st century's standard-issue, all-American perfect 10.
The 5-foot-5 Minnesota native -- a sly, funny, 22-year-old natural blonde who spends every summer bikini-clad on the shores of Lake Minnetonka -- works out five days a week. Her slim waist and megawatt smile hearken back to the polyvinyl glamour of the original Barbie doll.
In fact, if Mattel were to redesign Barbie based on the new millennium's ideal woman, she would likely resemble Pinto. Healthy, athletic, alluring, and smart (Pinto will graduate early this month from Northwestern University), she's both a role model and a sex symbol.
And if you were to undress Pinto, you'd find she embodies yet another trademark characteristic of the plastic glamour girl-turned-careerwoman: Like Barbie, Pinto has no pubic hair.
The legend of the Confederate leader’s heroism and decency is based in the fiction of a person who never existed.
The strangest part about the continued personality cult of Robert E. Lee is how few of the qualities his admirers profess to see in him he actually possessed.
Memorial Day has the tendency to conjure up old arguments about the Civil War. That’s understandable; it was created to mourn the dead of a war in which the Union was nearly destroyed, when half the country rose up in rebellion in defense of slavery. This year, the removal of Lee’s statue in New Orleans has inspired a new round of commentary about Lee, not to mention protests on his behalf by white supremacists.
The myth of Lee goes something like this: He was a brilliant strategist and devoted Christian man who abhorred slavery and labored tirelessly after the war to bring the country back together.
The scientists are all talking like it’s a sure thing.
On August 21, the “moon” will pass between the Earth and the sun, obscuring the light of the latter. The government agency NASA says this will result in “one of nature’s most awe-inspiring sights.” The astronomers there claim to have calculated down to the minute exactly when and where this will happen, and for how long. They have reportedly known about this eclipse for years, just by virtue of some sort of complex math.
This seems extremely unlikely. I can’t even find these eclipse calculations on their website to check them for myself.
Meanwhile the scientists tell us we can’t look at it without special glasses because “looking directly at the sun is unsafe.”
More comfortable online than out partying, post-Millennials are safer, physically, than adolescents have ever been. But they’re on the brink of a mental-health crisis.
One day last summer, around noon, I called Athena, a 13-year-old who lives in Houston, Texas. She answered her phone—she’s had an iPhone since she was 11—sounding as if she’d just woken up. We chatted about her favorite songs and TV shows, and I asked her what she likes to do with her friends. “We go to the mall,” she said. “Do your parents drop you off?,” I asked, recalling my own middle-school days, in the 1980s, when I’d enjoy a few parent-free hours shopping with my friends. “No—I go with my family,” she replied. “We’ll go with my mom and brothers and walk a little behind them. I just have to tell my mom where we’re going. I have to check in every hour or every 30 minutes.”
Those mall trips are infrequent—about once a month. More often, Athena and her friends spend time together on their phones, unchaperoned. Unlike the teens of my generation, who might have spent an evening tying up the family landline with gossip, they talk on Snapchat, the smartphone app that allows users to send pictures and videos that quickly disappear. They make sure to keep up their Snapstreaks, which show how many days in a row they have Snapchatted with each other. Sometimes they save screenshots of particularly ridiculous pictures of friends. “It’s good blackmail,” Athena said. (Because she’s a minor, I’m not using her real name.) She told me she’d spent most of the summer hanging out alone in her room with her phone. That’s just the way her generation is, she said. “We didn’t have a choice to know any life without iPads or iPhones. I think we like our phones more than we like actual people.”
Just seven months into his presidency, Trump appears to have achieved a status usually reserved for the final months of a term.
In many ways, the Trump presidency never got off the ground: The president’s legislative agenda is going nowhere, his relations with foreign leaders are frayed, and his approval rating with the American people never enjoyed the honeymoon period most newly elected presidents do. Pundits who are sympathetic toward, or even neutral on, the president keep hoping that the next personnel move—the appointment of White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, say, or the long-rumored-but-never-delivered departure of Steve Bannon—will finally get the White House in gear.
But what if they, and many other people, are thinking about it wrong? Maybe the reality is not that the Trump presidency has never gotten started. It’s that he’s already reached his lame-duck period. For most presidents, that comes in the last few months of a term. For Trump, it appears to have arrived early, just a few months into his term. The president did always brag that he was a fast learner.
An analysis of Stormfront forums shows a sometimes sophisticated understanding of the limits of ancestry tests.
The white-nationalist forum Stormfront hosts discussions on a wide range of topics, from politics to guns to The Lord of the Rings. And of particular and enduring interest: genetic ancestry tests. For white nationalists, DNA tests are a way to prove their racial purity. Of course, their results don’t always come back that way. And how white nationalists try to explain away non-European ancestry is rather illuminating of their beliefs.
Two years ago—before Donald Trump was elected president, before white nationalism had become central to the political conversation—Aaron Panofsky and Joan Donovan, sociologists then at the University of California, Los Angeles, set out to study Stormfront forum posts about genetic ancestry tests. They presented their study at the American Sociological Association meeting this Monday. (A preprint of the paper is now online.) After the events in Charlottesville this week, their research struck a particular chord with the audience.
The nation’s current post-truth moment is the ultimate expression of mind-sets that have made America exceptional throughout its history.
When did America become untethered from reality?
I first noticed our national lurch toward fantasy in 2004, after President George W. Bush’s political mastermind, Karl Rove, came up with the remarkable phrase reality-based community. People in “the reality-based community,” he told a reporter, “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality … That’s not the way the world really works anymore.” A year later, The Colbert Report went on the air. In the first few minutes of the first episode, Stephen Colbert, playing his right-wing-populist commentator character, performed a feature called “The Word.” His first selection: truthiness. “Now, I’m sure some of the ‘word police,’ the ‘wordinistas’ over at Webster’s, are gonna say, ‘Hey, that’s not a word!’ Well, anybody who knows me knows that I’m no fan of dictionaries or reference books.
Antifa’s activists say they’re battling burgeoning authoritarianism on the American right. Are they fueling it instead?
Since 1907, Portland, Oregon, has hosted an annual Rose Festival. Since 2007, the festival had included a parade down 82nd Avenue. Since 2013, the Republican Party of Multnomah County, which includes Portland, had taken part. This April, all of that changed.
In the days leading up to the planned parade, a group called the Direct Action Alliance declared, “Fascists plan to march through the streets,” and warned, “Nazis will not march through Portland unopposed.” The alliance said it didn’t object to the Multnomah GOP itself, but to “fascists” who planned to infiltrate its ranks. Yet it also denounced marchers with “Trump flags” and “red maga hats” who could “normalize support for an orange man who bragged about sexually harassing women and who is waging a war of hate, racism and prejudice.” A second group, Oregon Students Empowered, created a Facebook page called “Shut down fascism! No nazis in Portland!”
Spreading fear and worry about issues you care about on social media can lead to burnout rather than action.
When New York Magazinepublished a story about the apocalyptic dangers of climate change last month, it was shared widely, and with alarm. People tweeted things like “Read this and get very, very scared,” or otherwise prescribed fear and worry as the appropriate reaction to the piece. They were mimicking the tone of the story itself, which starts by saying “It is, I promise, worse than you think,” and goes on to avowthat “no matter how well-informed you are, you are surely not alarmed enough.”
This weirdly suggests that there is a level of alarmed that would be “enough.” Enough for what? Even if the goal is to alarm people into action, there’s a disconnect here: Anxiety is not a necessary prerequisite for action.