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Will there be a white backlash to the Left?

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I write this as a warning to the Democratic Party, of which I am a proud member.

White people, and not just white men but women too, are increasingly turned off by the “cancel culture” they see happening in America, which is being fostered by the extreme left. I admit I have no statistical evidence to support this claim. But the anecdotal evidence for it has become clear to me in recent months.

Here are examples of that evidence:

• Numerous friends who have children in their 20s tell me their kids are attracted to the Republican Party. They don’t particularly like Trump, but they like what they perceive the GOP stands for: free enterprise, the work ethic, raising yourself up by your own efforts, adherence to the law.

• An old friend, a white guy my age who’s as liberal as anyone, sent me this link to an article by a woman who is essentially standing up for Andrew Cuomo. Her key phrase: “None of the ‘sexual harassment’ allegations leveled against him to date strike me as anything worse than obnoxious behavior.” Her strong suggestion is that #MeToo has gotten out of control.

• Another close friend, also a white guy who’s a lifelong Democrat, told me he signed the petition to recall Gavin Newsom because he saw an advertisement from Newsom accusing petition-signers of being white supremacists. “I am not a white supremacist,” my friend said, “and I resent being called one.”

• From local social media, including nextdoor.com, I see how lots of white people are upset by the “defund the police” movement, and angry that crime here in Oakland is rampant, while reading that the police are reluctant to respond to any but the most urgent calls for help. This, even as the most radical members of our City Council are demanding huge reductions in the police budget.

• And, of course, there were the glaring losses in Congress suffered by Democrats in the 2020 elections. I attribute these losses to white voters who detested Trump, but didn’t like the violence, chaos and anti-police rhetoric they see in our cities.

All of this leads me to conclude that the reason Trump lost is not necessarily because of the things he espoused, but because voters saw him for what he is: an ugly, amoral and repulsive human being. Were the Republicans to find a likeable candidate next time around, I think there’s every chance he or she could win.

What do I mean by “cancel culture,” and what are examples of it? I cite my own experiences. Years ago, we had a West African family move into my condo building. They put up a clothesline on their deck (which faced the street) and hung their clothes to dry. I was president of the board of directors. We had a meeting, at which we unanimously decided to tell the family they could not hang their clothes up on their deck because it was unsightly. They promptly accused me and the board of racism. That’s cancel culture.

A few months ago, a woman moved into our condo building. She had two small dogs who were annoyingly loud, with constant barking—clearly in violation of published building rules. I left her a note to please keep her dogs under control. She wrote me back, accusing me of discrimination. I hadn’t even met the woman when she wrote that, and to this day I have no idea what her race is; to me, she looks white. That’s cancel culture.

The other day I was in the express line (“15ish items”) at Whole Foods. A young Asian-American woman was ahead of me. She must have had at least thirty items. I pardoned myself, pointed to the sign, and suggested she was in the wrong line. She accused me of being anti-Asian. That’s cancel culture.

It looks to me like you can’t criticize the behavior of anyone of color without being accused of racism!

People naturally react negatively when they’re accused of something that isn’t true. But political correctness in this country has reached such a point that folks are afraid to say anything that could be construed as racist, even when they know that it’s the behavior, not the skin color, they’re criticizing. So they keep their mouths shut, and this leads to resentment.

Trump took advantage of that resentment. He expressed what many people think but are afraid to say. Yes, he went too far. He showed us where the line is and then he crossed it. And his Proud Boy/QAnon/evangelical followers went even further than he did in hatred and stupidity. Most Americans want equality for everyone. They understand what people of color have gone through and are going through, and they’re willing to be made uncomfortable, if that’s what it takes to even things out. At the same time, they want safe communities, in which everyone—white, Black, Brown, Asian-American—adheres to the norms of society: respect your neighbor and your neighbor’s property. Follow the rules. Play nice in the sandbox.

The problem, it seems to me, is that a lot of people are not playing nice in the sandbox, but those of us who do play nice are unable to point out this inconvenient fact. Well, I just did. There’s a lot of bad behavior on the left, and it needs to stop. I expect some people will take my remarks the wrong way and hurl them back into my face by calling me a racist. That, too, is cancel culture. All I’m trying to do is save my beloved Democratic Party from destroying itself. My memo to the left is: If you want a Republican Congress in 2022 and a Republican President in 2024, keep doing what you’re doing.


COVID in the rear view mirror

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The big news out here is that the Bay Area is emerging from the worst depths of the pandemic. The Governor’s color tier now has eight of the nine counties in the red tier, with one—San Mateo—entering the orange tier just yesterday.

This is great news. Restaurants, bars, gyms, malls, movie theaters, bowling alleys are starting to re-open, albeit at reduced capacities.

How will history regard the closure? I’m of two minds. It could be that the shutdown will be retrospectively viewed as having been absolutely necessary in order to save lives and keep our hospitals from being overwhelmed. On the other hand, some states that did not shut down, like Florida, have case rates similar to California’s, but much less economic damage. So the jury is out.

Judging from people I know, the feeling is widespread that the shutdown may have been unnecessary, at least to the extent it was imposed. One hears the phrase “the cure is worse than the disease.” But it’s not my intent, here and now, to debate this. It’s too soon to tell. Let people argue about it, one way or the other. It will take time to understand, and we are an impatient people, we Americans. We want everything now and, like antsy children, are seldom inclined to wait.

The political aspects of the shutdown, though, are gradually becoming clear. Red counties, such as those in the Sierra Foothills, the northern Shasta Cascades and the southern San Joaquin Valley, seem to have become even more conservative. There are widespread stories of bars and restaurants that never closed, of big events where no one is masked, of citizens openly criticizing “big government” is the harshest terms. Anyone who thinks California is just one big Blue mass needs to go to Bakersfield or Redding, where red state sentiment holds sway. These places are the strongholds of the anti-Gavin Newsom movement. They resent everything the Governor stands for, what they perceive as coastal elitism, the arrogance of “experts,” the snobbery of wealthier, college-educated upper classes over rural farmers, ranchers and small businessmen. The politicians elected by these red regions cater to their resentments—Devin Nunes, for example, Trump’s “favorite congressman” who, all during the pandemic, told his constituents to “go out” to taverns and restaurants.

Speaking personally, I’m looking forward to social stuff I haven’t been able to do for a year: going to Waterbar for oysters and Champagne with Maxine, Keith and Marilyn. Having vodka gimlets with Miss Araceli at Room 389, the sports bar where, in 1989 and 1990, I watched the Forty-Niners win the Super Bowl. Devouring agedashi tofu, miso soup and a triple kinja roll at Kinja sushi. Somehow, all three of these places have managed to stay open—keinehora, as my Grandma Rose used to say. Not so fortunate, sadly, was the fate of Old Crow Tattoo Parlor, where I got my tatts. Philip had to shut down due to the pandemic, a great loss to the neighborhood where he’d been such a fixture for ten years.

I don’t know what the longterm effects will be of the pandemic. Will it redound to the benefit of Republicans? Will Biden’s huge relief bill convince Americans that “big government” is a good thing? Will Trump, the spider in his hole, re-emerge in any meaningful fashion? Will Biden’s health hold out, and what if it doesn’t? The questions abound, as they always do, with so few answers.

Stay safe. Be well. Wear a mask. And never, ever forget the horrors that Donald J. Trump inflicted on America. It’s only human nature to let bad memories fade away while remembering the good times, but if we forget how evil Trump was, we do a grave disservice to America. Something like him can not be allowed to happen again!


Republicans, Black Americans, and where we go from here

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It’s amazing, isn’t it, how blatant the Republican attempts are to prevent Black people from voting. They don’t even care that their efforts are so obviously ham-handed. If anything, they seem proud of it. I guess these days, when it comes to racism, the philosophy is “Let it all hang out.”

Everybody knows that if every American who is legally eligible to vote actually votes, no republican would ever again win the presidency, or the Senate from most states. Trump himself said so. “They had things, levels of voting that if you’d ever agreed to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again,” he said last year,“they” being Democrats and “it” being Democratic proposals to protect voting rights in America. In the gunsights of the republican party are such “things” as voting by mail, same-day registration, and early voting. These are all practiced by working-class Americans who aren’t given Election Day off as a paid holiday. Most of the world’s countries do that, or they hold Election Day on weekends, but in the U.S., conservative Christians have prevented weekend voting because they think it’s unholy to vote on God’s day. I don’t include Black Christian churches in this war on voting: for decades, their “souls to the polls” initiative, which began decades ago, “organize(d) caravans after church service on the Sunday prior to Election Day to transport Black congregants to early voting locations.” The result was an enormous increase in Black turnout in elections. We can credit the 2020 Georgia Senate elections, as well as Joe Biden’s victory, with this Black turnout—which is exactly why anti-democracy republicans want to end it.

These disgruntled republicans, egged on by Trump and his increasingly crazy children, want to go back to the good old days, when only white men who owned property were allowed to vote. In their heart of hearts, they want a return to slavery, or something like it, which they can’t publicly admit. Look at the faces of the maniacs who invaded the Capitol on Jan. 6.

These are the storm troops of the restoration of the Confederacy. Not a Black face among them, or an Asian or Latino. Probably not a Gay. These are not the faces of America. They are the faces of violence and death. These are the faces that the republican Senator from Wisconsin, Ron Johnson, praised as true patriots.

Patriots! Violent racists, homophobes, religious maniacs, xenophobes and thugs who, if they were in power, would launch a massive purge of millions of Americans who, in their opinion, are the enemies of trump. Am I being hyperbolic? No. Study history. Study the rise of the Nazis. You know where that led. The symptoms in the republican party are exactly the same as they were in Germany in the early 1930s. Instead of the Gestapo and the Einsatzgruppen, we have the Oathkeepers and the Proud Boys and those fat militia pigs running around with their bear spray and revolvers. What happened in Central Europe in the 1940s can happen here; anyone who supports trump knows it, and is complicit in the conspiracy.

Fortunately, we, the American People, overthrew Trump legally in the last election. It’s true that Democrats lost seats in the Congress, and historians are going to have to explain why. (For example, was it because of the Black Lives Matter riots that turned violent? Was it because Democrats didn’t choose a progressive in 2020?) But in my view, Democrats are poised to recover those losses in 2022, and we have an opportunity to reduce the Republican party to permanent minority status. That won’t entirely eliminate the threat of these far-right radical fanatics. But it will keep them in their little corner, from which they can be observed and controlled, like ferrets in a cage.


Gavin Newsom’s big moment

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THE BACKDROP

California Governor Gavin Newsom gave his State of the State address last night. In advance, all the pundits called it the speech of his life. With his governorship on the line due to a recall that will likely make the ballot this Fall, they said, Newsom had to convince voters that he deserves to be kept in the job they hired him to do in 2018. The speech was delivered live on CSPAN.

He gave his speech against the backdrop of good news on the COVID front. All the numbers are trending in the right direction. This, in itself, helped to numb the recallers’ allegations: that his pandemic response has been a disaster. That is Republican propaganda, pure and simple. Newsom has run into the same problems as have the governors of all other states, and the leaders of innumerable foreign countries around the world. It has been a question of whether or not the majority of Californians have understood Newsom’s fairly harsh shutting down of the state, with all the dire economic consequences that has entailed, and the admittedly uneven vaccine rollout. I believe that most voters do understand why Newsom had to do what he did.

THE SPEECH

After boring platitudes from three other state leaders (why was it necessary for them to hog the limelight? This was the Governor’s time), Newsom began his remarks, delivered at an empty Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. His theme was eulogizing the heroes who have fought the pandemic on its front lines, and memorializing the 55,000 Californians who so far have died from COVID. “We are California,” he said, reminding us that California was the first state in the nation to issue stay-at-home orders.

Yes, there was a defensiveness to Newsom’s remarks, as well there should have been given the attacks he’s experienced. It’s so easy to Monday-morning quarterback everything. Republicans have jumped all over him for every little setback. Newsom acknowledged that “We have made mistakes. I have made mistakes.” Who hasn’t? But “The state of our state remains determined. I remain determined,” he declared. “We’re not going to come crawling back. We will be roaring back.”

Of course, he praised California—the target of derision from so many red state Republicans envious that Mississippi or Alabama cannot boast California’s achievements. From our cultural leadership, to Silicon Valley’s dominance in technology, to our agricultural contributions that put food on Americans’ tables, to NASA’s recent Mars landing, Newsom reminded his critics that they write California off at their peril. His speech was short on policy specifics, deliberately: no one was in the mood to hear wonkiness. But it was long on COVID. As someone who, just yesterday, got my second vaccine shot, I can testify to how uneven the rollout was. It was frustrating and maddening, and I, too, wanted someone to blame. But now, after three months, California has figured out how to do it, and for that, I give credit to my Governor, and to the Federal government.

Newsom quoted Dr. Fauci in defending his shutdown order. “I acknowledge that it’s made life hard,” he said in understatement. Unsaid was the implication: What would you have done? And he promised “immediate stimulus” to “millions and millions of Californians.” This is in addition to Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID relief package, hundreds of billions of which will flow to California. If government can’t help us when we’re struggling, then what good is government?

It was a brave, articulate speech. In my 40 years in this state, no one has better expressed his love of California and belief in its virtues and possibilities. The Governor evidently has heard the criticisms that his speeches are impenetrable in jargon; this one was far more accessible. I admit to being a Newsom supporter. But I am not a blind slave, the way so many Trumpers are to their fuehrer. If I thought our Governor was lacking, I would say so. But he’s done a fine job under impossible circumstances. If liberalism without extremism is possible in America, it is embodied in Gavin Newsom.


Meghan and Harry rip away at the royals

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I watched the entire two hours of Oprah’s sit down with Meghan and Harry, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I was hardly alone: it was the most-watched T.V. program since last year’s Oscars.

Of course, the interview’s fallout was immediate, as everyone knew it would be. Harry and Meghan dropped some bombshells, especially the part where an unnamed member of the royal family told Harry that baby Archie couldn’t be a prince because there were worries about how dark his skin would be.

On twitter, the interview quickly went viral. One of the most explosive strings was launched by the British tabloid gossiper, Piers Morgan. I never did like him, dating back to when he had a brief 15 minutes of fame here in the U.S. after CNN hired him to replace Larry King. Morgan struck me then as being snide, pompous and rude; the American people agreed. His ratings were in the toilet, and CNN dropped him.

Morgan’s relationship with Trump goes back at least to 2008, when he won the U.S. celebrity version of The Apprentice. In 2018, when Trump was the sitting U.S. president, Morgan interviewed him on Britain’s ITV network, an interview that was widely panned as a sycophantic “love-in” for Trump. A poll afterwards showed that 88% of respondents thought Morgan was “too soft” on Trump.

One viewer remarked, “Feel like I’ve just watched two people engaging in foreplay and now I need to bleach my eyes and scrub my skin off…”. Someone else put up this picture on Twitter to indicate what he felt Morgan had done:

Morgan, as big a fan of the royal family as he is of Trump, did not like the Meghan-Harry interview, to put it mildly. He tweeted:

“This interview is an absolutely disgraceful betrayal of the Queen and the Royal Family. I expect all this vile destructive self-serving nonsense from Meghan Markle—but for Harry to let her take down his family and the Monarchy like this is shameful.”

That resulted in a huge brouhaha in the twitterverse, with most commenters concluding—as I did—that Morgan is just a pissed-off old white guy—shades of Trump–with all of his white entitlement, defending the most powerful white family in the world, with all its white entitlement. Typical of the responses was from a guy who tweeted, “If you watched the entire interview & what upset you is that they dared to tell the world the truth, you @piersmorgan are part of the problem.”

Meghan came across to me as smart, likeable and savvy, a woman in the Diana mold who, once again, has been tortured by the Queen and the royal family’s courtiers. Harry astonished me with his even-tempered fairness, dedication to human rights and defense of his wife. If ever anyone was “to the manor born,” it is Prince Harry. He could easily have enjoyed wealth, fame and privilege, the way his brother, father and grandfather have, but he is his mother’s son—a man with a sensitive soul—who chose to renounce his birthright because he saw injustice and could not stand idly by and do nothing about it.


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