Recent Comments

Adam Cottrel

Hey Cameron, great post, thanks for sharing your thoughts on this play. I think this is a truly unique moment as you describe it. The game rarely affords an opportunity for style at the level of gesture, and even when it does, if acted on it largely comes across as poor sportsmanship (i.e., gloating, taunting). So, in this case, in order to win stylishly I think Kibler also needs to lose well, to accept the play and smile, knowing that luck is very much the driving force behind his loss. I’m sure the game would have more moments like this (perhaps not this momentous) but I also have to think a lot of it suppressed by empathy for your opponent, knowing that luck’s pendulum could have swung in the wrong direction, flipping the script entirely.

Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
Adam Cottrel

Hey Hannah, great post, thanks for getting this week started. What is so interesting to me about how you construct the Eldrazi is how abjection is so perfectly communicated within the game when playing, for example, one of the titans. There’s just this really great connection between the aesthetic of the art and the storyline that accompanies the game that is rendered so well when one of these creatures hits the table. And, I’m not sure I ever feel that same way with the other types you describe, or at least it isn’t so overwhelming to the point where you want to concede immediately.

It would be really interesting to think about which gameplay mechanics, more generally, elicit particular affects because I think your post perfectly captures the feeling of this one. I’m just thinking out loud but I’m wondering if you think this could be extended to other mechanics or deck archetypes like burn, or control, etc.?

Make America Great Again
D. Elisabeth Glassco

Exactly, Andrew. Trump has had years to perfect his media image. He really does understand the Media, in many ways, better than it understands itself. He thrived on the low expectations for his campaign last year and this allowed him to operate as a sleeper agent. Unlike the other candidates, he has nothing to lose and can act accordingly. That is why, as you noted, he can appeal to both sides of the ideological spectrum and not be called out on even the most outrageous flip flopping, name calling, or basically making stuff up as he goes–sometimes just repeating nonsensical phrases over and again to use of space. Isn’t that what we know him for? How can he disappoint us? He’s being the Trump he’s been for forty years.

D. Elisabeth Glassco

Great points, Rob. I agree that we should not look at Trump in isolation but as the culmination of years of Republican scapegoating and fearmongering. The only thing is that I would push that endeavor back decades. The problem for the GOP now is that they are basically scraping the bottom of the barrel. They have a problem with integrating new segments of society into their ranks because they are unwilling to anger their base. It’s not going to stop with Trump. They are in real trouble with this. Also, I think we should make some distinction between what the media call “riots” and what are actually protest events. We should also look at how the other two candidates on the Democratic side have responded differently than Trump. To the best of my knowledge, I have not heard either one of the Democratic candidates threaten violence at the convention if they don’t get what they consider a fair shake.

Robert Spicer

I have a few thoughts about what’s happening with Trump’s audience. First off, as I wrote this we seem to be on the cusp of a shift where it isn’t just Trump supporters who are unruly but his opposition protestors seem to be getting out of hand. Just before logging in here I saw a tweet with a picture of a Trump supporter who had eggs thrown at her by anti-Trump protestors.

So I think a big problem for the coming general election season will be the tension between pro and anti Trump forces. The questions will be (a) how the media portray these verbal and physical conflicts (that I definitely think will happen) and (b) how Trump himself plays them, because he will definitely spin the tension as the product of unreasonable, hateful, and violent protestors picking on his “silent majority” supporters. We’ve already seen that with the way Trump spun the “sucker punch” incident in North Carolina.

How my points a and b play out will depend on how much tensions are escalated between the two sides.

Finally, as for the GOP’s brand in relation to the audience’s behavior, I do think this is an ongoing problem for them. The Trump campaign rallies are just the latest version of stuff that was happening at McCain/Palin rallies and later at tea party events. I think, given the ascent of Trump, there’s not much the Republicans can do. This audience is representative of their party’s brand, at least for now.

Aaron Dickinson Sachs

Good post Robert. I’m interested in this question of audience/voting base.

On the one hand, it seems like you’re saying the violent audiences of Trump’s rallies are going to be a problem for the Republicans as their brand becomes identified with that unruliness, implying that this will alienate a larger voting base. Yet on the other hand, you also argue that Trump’s audiences are actually just the latest, and perhaps most overt, iteration of a increasingly disruptive, violent, and unruly insurgent Republican voting bloc.

Does this pattern seem to imply that this unruly voting bloc is becoming the new Republican base? or are they merely an obstacle that must be appeased now (much like the left-side of the Democratic party is continually “appeased”during the primary by Centrist candidates moving to the left long enough to secure a nomination—*cough, Hillary, cough*)?

At what point do we shift from saying something like “Trump and his supporters are making the Republicans look bad” to saying “geez, what’s wrong with the Republicans that this is the guy they want for president”?

Aaron Dickinson Sachs

I appreciate the focus on what we might call “tone policing” in the calls for a more “civil” debate. You rightly point out that conflict is not inherently bad, and in fact, is politics can often be good. Yet, as the clip you provided shows, the conflict and negativity here do not seem to be about substance, but about personalities. Thus the Mills quote you articulate here fails to really connect since it’s not critique of opinion but critique of person that we’re seeing here. In the two “historical” examples they give with Bush Sr. and Clinton, the “insults” are about foreign policy experience, not spray tans, small hands, and sweaty brows. Only at a point where we think of our politicians in terms of people we’d like to have beers with rather than people we think are qualified to run a country in ways that fit our political beliefs do these more personal insults make any sense. I agree 100% that civility is a problematic critique in this case, and many others, as accusations of incivility are often used to silence those working toward social justice. I return again to thinking about it more in terms of spectacle, or perhaps surface vs. substance, rather than civility or incivility.

It seems to me that your question at the end betrays its answer: it is only strong enough to withstand Trump if he loses. For who will say our democracy has succeeded if Trump wins, and what kind of democracy will we have left?

Image of Dr. Harold Bornstein
Aaron Dickinson Sachs

Thanks for the response Elisabeth. I appreciate the reference to Goodale and the reminder that Trump may be having a difficult time distinguishing between reality and Reality TV. He has been treating this whole campaign as if it were a Reality TV show, and perhaps instead of trying to out Trump him, his opponents should be turning to Reality TV for strategies. Or perhaps Hillary just needs to hire Kim as one of her political consultants.

Image of Dr. Harold Bornstein
D. Elisabeth Glassco

Excellent thoughts, Aaron. Trump has been playing the media his entire adult life. He knows it intimately. So, just like the accusation a few weeks ago that he was calling in to interviews pretending to be Donald J. Trump’s publicist and referring to himself in the third person, I don’t think Trump could have any more suitable a doctor. I’m surprised he found a real life physician to agree to it. There have been numerous articles on how Trump has ascended to where he is but there was one that appeared in US News by columnist Gloria Goodale that really broke down how Trump, the reality star, has turned the presidential race into the world’s biggest reality TV show.

1) Drama and conflict: Like when Trump insulted Megyn Kelly and his GOP nomination mates with name calling, the McCain affair, made extreme policy comments like building walls across Mexico and keeping Mexican rapists out, alarming the world about nuclear weapons–the list goes on. We’re living them. 2) Like every reality show we’ve ever seen, casting himself as the hero of every scene and the villain as everyone who challenges him. He’s the best at everything and has the best of everything, the smartest, the richest, etc. Meanwhile, his challengers are little Marco, lyin’ Ted, low-energy Jeb, etc. 3) Takes advantage of news as entertainment: Trump is a media veteran. He is well acquainted with the news media’s horse race coverage of elections and constant need for profit. Using twitter as his publicity engine, whenever his name falls out of the headlines, he brings another outrage out of his bag of tricks. 4) Master of social media. As noted, twitter is the domain of Trump. It is where, through feuding and seemingly unfiltered pronouncements, he arguably is able to woo and retain his followers, who view him as “telling it like it is.” 5) A Jackpot: Playing up his wealth, getting free media is the big prize. Playing the capitalist success story. 6) Playing the victim with unforeseen plot twists: When he’s not on top, he plays the victim…whether of the media (as he did today) or of the rigged system. [1]

In the end, Trump has nothing to lose because his voters are supporting him based upon emotion, not his knowledge base. For them, it is what they believe he stands for that is important. Meanwhile, his competitors have everything to lose by engaging him at his lowbrow level. You can’t outTrump Trump. He is willing to go lower than they are to win. So, Trump is basically playing himself. He has nothing to lose and everything to gain. He never believed he would get this far but since he has, he’s willing to go all the way. For him, it is a competition to see if he if he can really pull it off. Although he was happy with first just knocking out Jeb Bush and rising to the top of the heap for a week or two, once he had attained that goal and more publicity than he could ever imagine (free too) then the target became all the rest of the Republicans. He would be happy just to be the nominee but on reality TV, seconds aren’t remembered long. So, now, the challenge is to knock off the big kahuna herself (better showmanship if it had been Bernie but looks like that’s not going to happen). As Michael Buffer says in boxing, he’s “ready to rumble!”

[1] Goodale, Gloria. Trump’s reality TV playbook: Seven ways it changed 2016 election. April 12, 2016. Retrieved from

D. Elisabeth Glassco

Yes, Chuck, I agree with your reasons for the rise of Trump but I would also blame the American public and the Republican Party. The rise of Trump and Trumpism should not be viewed in isolation. it seems to me that Trump’s surprising and enduring viability in this election indicates an inability on the part of a great number of Americans to accept that America is not static–that it is ever evolving to meet the demands of an increasingly diverse (and global) society – and that they must adapt with it. As an alternative, what Trump offers is the age old nativist impulse to scapegoat immigrants, people of color, and anyone else who believes in inclusion and accountability for the welfare of the Earth and all that exists on it. Trump’s vision of America sees the country as a shriveled and increasingly ruined iteration of the “leader of the free world” –one that asserted its dominance over other nations with impunity. Indeed, he is merely the unvarnished embodiment of a Republican party that has long offered certain disaffected members of the American electorate consolation that’s all of their troubles emerged from misguided government policies–internationally at American accountability and domestically at assuring equal opportunity access to America’s bounty for a plurality of citizens. In this view, the choice is clear. It is Trump because the other party, the Democrats–the party Trumps’s followers see as increasingly capitulating to demands for inclusion–is unacceptable. For those Republicans disaffected with Trump–well, they would sooner stay home on Election Day.