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The George H.W. Bush Memorial: Nobody Wanted Trump There

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The Bush family made sure Trump kept his mouth shut at yesterday’s memorial service for George H.W., at Washington’s National Cathedral. Has there been any service for a deceased president in our nation’s entire history, when a sitting president was not allowed to deliver public remarks? I can find none.

And then there was John McCain’s memorial service, which the McCain family didn’t even invite Trump to. And those two men—George H.W. Bush and John McCain—were Republicans!

How will history account for this phenomenon of—let’s call it what it is–complete, utter disrespect? We here today understand that the two families loathe Trump, and consider him a disgrace, not only to the presidency but to American politics. Not inviting him to a memorial service, and not letting him speak at one, are forms of the middle finger given to a thoroughly disreputable bastard. There’s no sugar-coating it.

The Bush and McCain families, of course, have nothing to fear from the infamously vindictive, retaliatory Trump. None of them currently holds public office. Trump can hurt none of them. Isn’t it telling how powerful Republicans who aren’t afraid of losing their jobs (Floyd Flake, for example) stand up to him, while those who have jobs to protect lack the courage and decency to do so? As examples of the latter group, I cite every Republican Senator and representative, every Republican governor, every Republican state legislator, every smalltime Republican elected official across this great land, from D.A. to dog catcher. You can divide Republican politicians into two groups: a small one that speaks the truth, and a big one that lies and covers itself in shame.

It must hurt Trump, this public, undeniable rebuke. He’s a rationalizer, a guy who refuses to recognize reality if it’s in the least derogatory to him, who can convince himself that up is down and day is night, if it helps him look in the mirror without wincing. But in some deep-down place in his mind, he must know how hated he is, how much he has failed in this, the most enormous test of his life. When does this realization strike hardest? In the middle of the night, in his big bed, sans Melania, as he tries to fall asleep and can’t, but tosses and turns, for all the nightmarish thoughts swarming in his head. That would be my guess: the middle of the night, when the ego’s censor is relaxed, and the phantoms of the id slither forth, whispering, in unfiltered honesty, J’accuse. This is when Trump most clearly has to confront his own loathsomeness. This is when, irritable and exhausted, he raises his fleshy bulk from the bed, wanders over to his laptop, and tweets.

By the next morning, of course, he’s back to his old self. Another day, another round of lies, insults, smears, dog whistles to the neo-nazis. Another round of wrecking American institutions, of slandering decent individuals, of spitting on our Constitution.

I spoke in the opening paragraph of the Bush family inviting Trump to the service but not letting him speak. But there’s more to the story. Trump insisted, in advance of attending, that no one say anything negative about him in the public remarks part of the ceremony.

Can you imagine Trump presenting such an insulting ultimatum to a family in mourning? Like a mean little boy, he scolds the Bushes, in essence, “I won’t come unless you promise nobody will say anything mean about me.” The Bush family reluctantly agrees. Suddenly, in the midst of their grief, and amidst the pressures of schedules and organizing this epic service, they now have to reach out to the Obamas, to the Clintons, to the younger Bush family members who read from the Bible, to Brian Mulroney, to Jon Meacham, to Alan Simpson, to all the other speakers and dignitaries, and have that conversation. “Please don’t even mention his name. Don’t refer to him. Just pretend he’s not there.”

And they obeyed. But, fortunately for the sake of truth, their references to George H.W. Bush’s humility and spiritual grandeur spoke more loudly about Trump’s vileness than any words could have.

It’s come to this: the President of the United States, at a memorial service for a former President of the United States, is the 800 pound gorilla in the room, whose name none dare speak. Good job, Donald J. Trump, outlier, outcast, outré among presidents, ordure of American history.

 

 


How deep have neo-nazi groups infiltrated the U.S. military and law enforcement?

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Frontline, the pioneering PBS documentary series, recently aired an episode, New American Nazis, that shows in terrifying detail how white supremacist-fascist-neo-nazis are attempting to infiltrate the U.S. military and domestic law enforcement agencies.

If you have read about the rise of the Nazis in Germany in the 1920s and early 1930s, you know the same thing happened: violent, angry young men who joined militias in order to learn weaponry skills they intended to utilize to undermine the legitimate State, install their own authoritarian Fuhrer, and impose their racist-nationalist views on Germany—a plot at which they succeeded.

As the Frontline story shows, these white nationalist groups are active in small cells across America. There is not a single, over-arching person or organization running them (unless you see Trump in that position, a unreasonable conclusion). There are hundreds of hate groups; the Southern Poverty Law Center currently tracks 953 of them, of which one of the most dangerous and clandestine is the so-called QAnon, whose posts at message boards, wildly popular with [the] far right, sprout [a] huge web of fantastic theories about Trump, an imminent ‘Deep State countercoup,’ and arrests aimed at liberals’ supposed ‘pedophilia ring.’”

 The origins of QAnon are obscure. NBC describes its main objective as “leak[ing] intelligence about Trump’s top-secret war with a cabal of criminals run by politicians like Hillary Clinton and the Hollywood elite.” With no known structure or leadership, QAnon brings to mind the 1999 Brad Pitt-Edward Norton movie, Fight Club, a similarly loosely connected, underground organization whose anarchist members recognized each other through their bandaged wounds and oblique references to the group’s [semi-fictional] leader, Tyler Durden.

QAnon, for all its anonymity, has its own Twitter hashtag, #QAnon. Among other tweets are one showing that Fox News’ propagandist and Trump supporter Sean Hannity reported that “at least 6 #DeepState spies made entrees to key figures in the Trump org/campaign…in an attempt to set up candidate/President Trump with a concocted Russia narrative,” a “concoction” that now is being shown by Robert Mueller as being entirely too true.

Another, from SassyTallBlonde, states “Mueller will face charges re: U1,” a reference to an insane, discredited theory linking the Special Counsel to a secret uranium-smuggling deal; U1 also has its own hashtag, and a reading of its tweets shows how extreme these rightwing neo-nazis are: Mueller delivered the sample for uranium one [U1]…the dirty old bastard should be marched up the 13 steps to the rope.”

QAnon members also have a way of recognizing each other: by wearing or displaying various forms of the capital letter Q. Here, for example, is a sergeant in the Broward County (Florida) Sheriff’s Department, name of Matt Patten (on the left), wearing just such a Q, situated chest-level on his full combat uniform.

That elderly, white-haired gentleman in the blue suit in front of Patten, to whom Patten is giving a broad, toothy smile, is none other than the Vice President of the United States, Mike Pence.

How did we get this startling photograph? From the Vice President himself, who tweeted it on Nov. 30. The picture didn’t last long; the Washington Post reported later that same day that Pence deleted it.

How does a sergeant in the Sheriff’s Department of a major American county get to wear a white supremacist/conspiratorialist symbol in uniform while performing the official functions of his job—and at the same time greeting the sitting Vice President of the United States? Did Pence know about the symbol? Did Patten’s superiors know? Did they authorize it? Do they share the same rightwing, neo-nazi views as Patten? Will Patten be disciplined or fired (as I think he should be)? The Washington Post asked the Broward County Sheriff’s Department and Pence’s office these questions, but was blown off. I too would like to get in touch with Sheriff Scott Israel; his office apparently is not emailable, but here’s a general information phone number, if you want to call them yourself: 954-765-4321.

We really need to get to the bottom of the facts. Is there a plot by professional militarists for an armed, rightwing insurrection in America? Let the Congress hold investigations, particularly now that the Trumpist cabal has been overturned in the House of Representatives. These neo-nazis may be small in number, but the opposite may be true: they may be metastasizing. It’s good that the public is becoming increasingly aware of them through the efforts of such civil rights groups as the Southern Poverty Law Center and brave investigative reporting by civics-minded journalists. But we need to thoroughly understand this phenomenon, if we are to prevent it from overtaking us.

 


When a Republican realizes, too late, what a sap she’s been

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It’s always a bit shell-shocking to come back to normality after a long holiday weekend, especially one that involves travel, as mine did. In my case, coming back means publishing this daily blog, which more than two years ago (September, 2016) I turned into an anti-Trump platform. Usually, the blog practically writes itself: Trump’s blunders, his patently fake statements and tweets, his attacks on perceived “enemies,” the perfidious behavior of his confederates, his obvious and soon-to-be-proved criminality, etc. etc. present the writer with an endless source of subject matter.

But yesterday, after a fairly grueling time spent on California’s freeways (actually, not too bad for the Monday following Thanksgiving), when I got home and sat down to create this post, I was confronted with the choice of what to write about. With so much happening, how to choose? After all, there is

  • The Mueller investigation and pending report
  • The Mexican border crisis
  • The Federal government’s global warming report
  • The Mississippi election and Hyde-Smith’s blatant racism
  • General Motors’ huge layoffs and factory closures
  • Russia’s firing on Ukranian ships
  • The impending Democratic takeover of the House
  • Trump’s disapproval ratings, which just hit an all-time high
  • Trump’s increasingly wobbly emotional state, undoubtedly due to all the above

And that’s just for starters.

But on reflection, I think I’ll write about this little tidbit, via NBC: “Losing GOP Rep. Mia Love tears into Republicans over treatment of minorities.”

Mia Love, as you may know, lost her re-election bid in Utah to the Democrat, in the #BlueWave that just spread across America. After the embarrassing Republican losses, Trump was sarcastically critical of Love on (where else?) Twitter: “Mia Love gave me no love. And she lost. Too bad.”

Mia didn’t like that, so she fought back. Trump’s hit on her, she said, gave me a clear vision of his world as it is — no real relationships, just convenient transactions…I’ve seen the cost of conservatives for not truly taking people into their hearts…what did [Trump] have to gain by saying such a thing about a fellow Republican?”

Oh, poor, poor pitiful Mia Love. She’s feeling sorry for herself, betrayed by the president she defended for nearly two years, whose tax, environmental, voting and other policies caused immeasurable harm to the American people, including those from her Utah district and, in particular, to her fellow “minority communities” (in her words).

Why did Mia Love wait for so long to note Trump’s sociopathy? Where was her “clear vision” before Trump slammed her? As long as she was collecting golden eggs from the goose, she was happy to be a rightwing conservative. From her perspective, who knew how bright her future might be if she stayed with the man who commanded the loyalties of 90% of Republicans? How high was the sky? Did visions of Congressional seniority dance in front of Mia’s eyes? Maybe a Cabinet position down the road? Vice President? Maybe even (gasp) POTUS? Who knew?

There’s nothing wrong with ambition. But every school child knows that you shouldn’t become amoral in pursuit of personal glory, and that’s what Mia Love did. She stood by, letting the catastrophe in the White House wreak violence and destruction in America, up-end morality and ethics in government, lie pathologically, destroy norms, stain the Oval Office by his presence, the whole disgrace of Trump and Trumpism. She did nothing to stop him, allowed the sickness to spread, smiled, showed up for photo ops, and remained a Republican.

Yes, she occasionally told the truth about him, as she did when she criticized his “shithole countries” remark. But far too often, she “praised” him, and her record shows that she voted for his agenda 95.6% of the time.

So it’s really disingenuous for her to whine now about his “convenient transactions.” Reader, did you perceive Trump’s “convenient transactions” a long time ago? I did. His inauthenticity, lack of moral fiber, narcissism, throwing supporters under the bus if it made him richer or more powerful—everyone with a brain saw all of that even before he took the oath of office. Why didn’t Mia Love?

Every decent Republican should already have left the party. Mia Love should have taken a message from Steve Schmidt, who quit the GOP in June, calling it a “threat to liberal democracy,” which it certainly is. Schmidt had the courage to leave the party in which he’d been raised, and that raised him to power. Mia Love did not.

So I feel no sadness for her. I feel no empathy. She’s hurting in the wake of her defeat. Good. Let Mia Love go off someplace for a while, lick her wounds, and find something useful to do. And let every Republican who still remains in office wonder about his or her future. How long will it be until Trump insults and betrays them? How long will it be before the electorate kicks them out for their abysmal support of Trump (as California just kicked almost every Republican representative out of office)? Not much longer, Lord, not much longer.


A post-Thanksgiving report

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I was down South for Thanksgiving at my cousin, Ellen’s, lovely home in the Malibu Hills. It was really nice to get away from the trump sickness and just relax and have a good time with family and friends.

Malibu, as most of you know, is west of Los Angeles. The city is roughly 21 miles in length and, although most people think it runs north-south since it’s on the California coast, it actually runs east-west. That’s due to the peculiar twist the California topography takes, roughly at Lompoc, where the San Andreas Fault has twisted the bedrock into a so-called transverse position, as this map shows.

Malibu is a delightful place to live, as anyone knows who’s ever been there, but it is not without its problems. There are earthquakes, of course, but the biggest threats are wildfires and mudslides. Ellen has, in fact, had to evacuate her home numerous times over her years of living there. The last time was in the big 1993 fire, 25 years ago. She had to evacuate again last week, because of the Woolsey Fire (which destroyed 1,500 structures). She wasn’t allowed to return for six days.

Fortunately her neighborhood was spared. Most of the damage was to the west, in the Malibu Canyon area and spreading further west and east, into the San Fernando Valley and Ventura County.

These wildfires are only going to get worse due to global warming. Although I’ve been largely out of touch from the news over the holiday, I did see the big news about the U.S. government’s report on climate change, which calls it a looming catastrophe that we have to address, and adds moreover that human activity is a leading cause. Yet the head of the American government continues to insist that there’s no problem, all we have to do is rake the forests. That man, trump, is singularly stupid. Doesn’t he make you furious? We have got to get rid of him, the sooner the better. Not that Pence is sane (he thinks Adam and Eve and little Cain and Abel played with cute dinosaurs in the Garden of Eden 5,700 years ago), but he’s not as dangerous as his boss. And besides, if he does get to be president, our Democratic House of Representatives will make sure he can do very little damage.

It used to be that I could drive from Ellen’s house back to Oakland in 6-1/2 hours, but those days are long gone, so I divided this trip into halfsies, staying overnight in San Luis Obispo. On the way down, last week, it took me 6-1/2 hours to drive the 224 miles from Oakland to San Luis! The traffic is an abomination. Rightwingers from red states love to insult California and say it’s the pit of Hell or something like that. It is true that our traffic sucks. But I still love California, and especially the fact that it’s the bluest state in the union. For that, I credit an educated population, unlike the people of, say, Mississippi, which is the least educated state in America. Mississippi is also the state with the fattest population, and it has the highest rate of out-of-wedlock births. Oh, and the per capital income of Mississippians is the lowest in the country. Way to go, Mississippi! How’s that evangelical thing workin’ out for ya?

Mississippi also is where they’re having a runoff election for Senator between the Democrat, Mike Espy, and the Republican, Cindy “KKK” Hyde-Smith, the segregationist, who will probably win. Trump, of course, is campaigning for the racist. Since he’s a racist himself, the son of a member of the Ku Klux Klan, that’s only natural. If reincarnation is real, I hope trump comes back as a black man. A gay black man. A trans gay black man.

I saw three movies in L.A.: Widows, which I didn’t like. The acting was stunning but the script was all over the place. If Beal Street Could Talk was really good; the more I think about it, the more I admire it. The best was Bohemian Rhapsody. Wow, such fun. Rotten Tomatoes has been tough on it, but the box office is shattering records.

I hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving as much as I did! More tomorrow.


The Catholic alt-right: Violence and death threats in the name of Jesus

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As much as I loathe Donald Trump, the man, and his policies, I will give him credit for one thing—although it was inadvertent on his part: He has shined a glaring light on the darkest abscesses of the culture, where hate groups proliferate like cockroaches.

We always knew these groups exist. But they seemed so fringe that we didn’t worry about them. With the rise of Trumpism, however, these hate groups have been given permission to vocalize their message of terror, in a way they never did before. And that’s a good thing for decent Americans: you can’t fight something you can’t see.

I’ve been accused on social media of being anti-Christian, but that’s just another lie from the Trumpists. I’m not. But I am against the religio-fascist wing of the Christian-Republican-Trump Party that is violently anti-LGBTQ; indeed, the more I learn of these people, the more concerned I become. And I learned a lot yesterday, with this report from NBC News, “How the Catholic ‘alt-right’ aims to purge LGBTQ members from the church.”

It describes the war—one of violence, intimidation and Hitlerian madness–against LGBTQ people that is gathering momentum within full sight, and possibly the collusion, of the most fascist elements within the Vatican, who may or not not include Pope Francis (who really knows?).

The article makes frightening reading. You probably heard the other day how Trump has gone to war with his own Republican Chief Justice, John Roberts, because Roberts is not (in Trump’s view) sufficiently radical, in an alt-right sense. Well, these rabid, Catholic homophobes have declared war on their own Pope, Francis, for his “Who am I to judge?” remark concerning gays. They want every single gay, Lesbian, bisexual and transgendered Catholic hunted down and purged. They also want any Catholic who shows any tolerance for LGBTQ people hunted down and purged. And this, they do in the name of their Jesus.

Their methods are the same as the Nazis: terror, spying, snitching , blackmailing and punishing those they deem criminals. And what are the criminal acts they wish to expunge? Here are a few examples cited in the article:

  • Scores of Catholic church employees who were fired after being outed as gay or gay-friendly
  • A man who was fired by the Diocese of Cleveland after he “liked” a Facebook post about a gay wedding
  • A Florida teacher forced the resign from her Catholic high school after the became engaged to her partner
  • A San Diego man who had to resign from his job at a parish after receiving death threats, harassing letters and having his tires slashed as a result of his marriage to another man
  • A group of Dominican nuns in Milwaukee who had to hire security guards to protect them after they hosted a retreat for gay clergy

It’s worth your while to read the whole NBC article so you can appreciate in depth how serious a threat this alt-right wing of the Catholic Church is—not only to LGBTQ people but to our basic American values of diversity and inclusion. And presiding over this threat, like a dark, evil genie, is the President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, encouraging the violence and hatred, egging his worshippers on through dog whistles and outright lies, making who-knows-what promises behind the scenes to the haters, following the entire disgusting game on social media, and making who-knows-what pacts with who-knows-what entities he himself worships?

Yes, it’s come to this: I have slowly, disbelievingly come around to the conclusion that Trump may in fact have made a Faustian deal with the Dark Side. I’m no conspiratorialist. I don’t even really believe in “the Devil” or “Satan” or anything like that. I was raised a Jew, and, except for crazy elements in Judaism, like Chabad, most Jews think these Christian fantasies of Hell and diabolic beings are ridiculous, maybe even signs of mental illness.

But when I look around the world, it’s clear that there is a “force” (for want of a better word)l that prompts some people toward murder, torture, the commission of evil, awful acts. I don’t have a name for that force. I don’t know what it is or where it comes from or why it’s so entrenched. But it does exist, and I have to believe that throughout history some people have worshipped it and made (as I said) Faustian deals with it: “Give me power and I will do your bidding.” I’m afraid of that force: I think many sane people are. I don’t engage with it or indulge it, and I don’t even like movies that depict it. But I think I know someone who isn’t afraid of it, who welcomes it, perhaps during his famous late-night Twitter sessions. That person is the President, and I think these alt-right Catholic monsters are his legions of flying monkeys, similarly in thrall to something dark.

The Catholic Church is in a very precarious situation in America and many Western countries because of its history and cover-up of child molestation by priests. Any normal corporation would already have been shut down for engaging in such a persistent pattern of criminal felonies. But the Catholic Church is, of course, very rich and powerful, and has been able to ward off threats to it, mainly through paying Court settlements to victims. This alt-right Catholic phenomenon, however, may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, and finally puts the Church out of business, or at least forces a schism. At the center of this controversy, naturally, is Pope Francis. He paints a picture of himself as a wise, compassionate moderate: “Who am I to judge” is one of the most famous utterances by a Pope in history.

But we have to judge him by his actions, not his words. Neither Francis nor his Vatican regime has lifted a finger to stop this alt-right madness in their own ranks. By their silence, they aid and abet it. The situation is no longer tolerable. You may not have experienced the alt-right Catholics yourself, but believe me, they’re out there in the hundred of thousands, burrowing into parishes and dioceses, fostering theocratic fascism and violence, in Jesus’s name.

If you’re Catholic, and you love your Church, you must—repeat, must speak out against the Catholic alt-right, as often as you can, and to whomever has the ability to stop it.


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