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Republicans crushed, now a minor third party in California

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While Trump and his ever-smaller, beleaguered cult are crowing about gubernatorial elections in Florida and Georgia they “won” through voter suppression by Republican officials, here’s a story about real victories that are causing heartburn in Republican circles.

California—the fifth-largest economy in the world, the nation’s biggest, richest state, successfully governed by Jerry Brown and legislative Democrats for the last eight years, leader in the fight against climate change, and with a $40 billion surplus*—took the Blue Wave and made it a Blue Tsunami.

  • Super-Democratic majorities in both state houses.
  • All state elected officials are Democrats.
  • The Bay Area no longer has a single Republican congressperson—and guess who else doesn’t?
  • Orange County, home of modern Republican conservatism, where the John Birch Society was born, whose money has fueled Republican campaign coffers for decades, the beating heart of Reagan Country. Orange County’s seven congressional seats, long Republican, have been swept clean of Trumpism. All seven representatives are now Democratic.

Let that sink in. Orange County. Red to blue overnight.

This is a revolution of unprecedented scope and importance. California—from north to south and east to west—has utterly repudiated the Republican Party. It has vomited them out, and for one reason, and one reason only:

Trump.

Almost every elected official who had anything to do with him went down to crushing defeat. Trump is so toxic in California, people would vote for Ebola over him. This tale isn’t just about Democratic bragging rights about our victories–although we have every right–but California Republicans, shell-shocked into finally telling the truth they tried so long and so hard to avoid. They include Kristin Olsen, who was the Republican leader in the California Assembly. Now the de facto coroner for the California Republican Party, her official verdict is: “The Grand Old Party is dead [and] isn’t salvageable.”

They didn’t just lose. They’re dead.

I am cutting my own commentary short today because of the importance of reading the Politico article (here’s the link again) and if you have the time, Ms. Olsen’s, too (here’s that link), which was published in the San Francisco Chronicle.

See you tomorrow.

* This includes the official state surplus plus a “rainy day fund” Brown instituted–roughly 50% each.


What hath Trump wrought?

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If you haven’t yet seen this picture, look at it.

Study it well. Notice how almost all of the dozens of young white men have their right hands raised in the Nazi “Heil Hitler” salute. Notice, too, that some of them (the young man fifth from the left) have their fingers in the “white power” sign.

Notice, finally, their facial expressions. They’re all laughing.

All of these men are juniors at Baraboo High School, which is in Baraboo, Wisconsin. The photo was taken late last week.

What’s going on here?

Unless this was some kind of seriously miscalculated joke (which I don’t for a moment think it was), these young men are white nationalists, or neo-nazis, or white supremacists, or fascists—call it what you will. All of them are proud of it—proud enough to have posed for the photo and then put it up on Twitter (from which it has since been removed). And all of them were inspired by—

Whom? Yes, dear readers, you know the answer as well as I do. Trump. He has signaled unstable white people like these Baraboo juniors that it’s Open Season on minorities: African-Americans, Muslims, gays, Jews. It’s okay to come out of the hate-closet. It’s okay to celebrate being a Nazi in America.

Once upon a time, decent people didn’t publicly advertise their racial and religious animosities. They may have felt them internally. But something—call it conscience, or social mores, or the fear of being shunned—made them keep their hatred to themselves. This was a good thing, from a societal point of view. It promoted social cohesion, fostered politeness and good manners, prevented fights, and perhaps made hateful people a little more reflective when it came to examining their own biases.

And then the Republican-Trump Party came along. While its antecedent causes long brewed in the dark national background, it was, of course, Trump himself who lit the fire. Three years ago, it would have been unthinkable for these Baraboo morons to pose for that picture. Today, they know they have the permission and encouragement of the most powerful man in America—a white nationalist like themselves. They have abandoned their consciences, or what was left of them, and declared themselves free of the “political correctness” that doesn’t let them express their real feelings.

This is what Donald J. Trump has wrought.

The Baraboo furor immediately erupted on Twitter in several places, but if you’re interested, check out #Baraboo. It seems to me, reading the string and others, that Baraboo High School’s administration was aware of racism running rampant and did nothing to address it. Baraboo’s principal, Lori Mueller, has come under heavy fire, despite her defensive statement containing the usual platitudes: “not reflective of the educational values and beliefs of the School District,” blah blah blah. As one person tweeted to Mueller, “Funny, you were fine not addressing this racist scourge until the photo went viral.” Another told her, You might want to tell your little nazis that the world sees #Baraboo to mean “Never Hire Me,” or “Never Accept Me To College.” Some of these kids is going to lose scholarships over this. On your watch. Nice work. The adults in your town and you have miserably failed.”

That was my initial reaction when I saw the photo. These idiots really have to suffer profound consequences. No slap on the wrist. No essays on “Why I shouldn’t have done that.” Serious consequences. We know who they are because they weren’t even smart enough to mask their faces. Every potential employer should be notified of what they did. What business would even consider hiring anyone with such racial animus and poor judgment? For that matter, what college or university would accept any of them?

Harsh punishment, yes, but when you’re dealing with a lethal virus, you have to take extreme measures to eradicate it. America is in a very serious situation and we have to combat it by any means necessary. That photo was not a joke. Its intention is clear. Its ramifications are extraordinarily dangerous, especially considering that we know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that Red districts across America are filled with hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of similarly-minded neo-nazis. These Baraboo thugs aren’t alone. Their brothers and sisters are everywhere, and they’re all listening to the same propaganda: Fox “News,” Breitbart, Alex Jones, Stormfront, Limbaugh. This is happening under our noses; we cannot pretend that all is well, or we’ll end up with these maniacs taking over.

Here’s the Baraboo School District’s twitter page.

Here’s the Contact page for the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

If you’re outraged by this deplorable incident, and want to express your feelings to the authorities in charge, now you know how to do so.


Why do some Christians–not most–hate trans people so much?

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Years ago, I wrote an article about transgendered people in the East Bay, where I live. This had been a population little known to the vast majority of Americans, including myself. But over a course of weeks of research, I came to know, and admire, these people, and still do. I don’t pretend to understand the “hows” or “whys” of their gender dysphoria. But I respect their courage and desire to change, and the incredible amount of time, money and energy they must commit, as well as physical pain they must endure. As if that’s not enough, they have to deal with the hatred and resentment they get on a daily basis from so many straight people.

The transgendered community’s formal introduction to straight America really began with Caitlyn Jenner, formerly known as Bruce Jenner. When she came out as trans, the news was a sensation. Suddenly, the LGB community had a new letter: T (“Q” has now joined the list). Americans who wanted to do the right thing found themselves scurrying to learn how to be “T”-friendly.

In practice this usually happened on a local level: businesses and civil governments added “T” to the ranks of those against whom discrimination was not permitted. (Trump lately has become the leading trans-hater in America.) Among the organizations that opted to be trans-friendly was the University of California at Berkeley. On Oct. 31, the Student Senate there held a hearing and vote on a proposal to more strongly support the rights of trans people on campus. Eighteen students voted in favor.

One abstained: Isabella Chow, a 20-year old junior majoring in business administration and music.

Had Chow simply registered her abstention and remained silent, probably the resulting furor would not have occurred. But Chow chose instead to issue a “statement” explaining her position. She proclaimed her allegiance to a specific religion: “As a Christian, I personally do believe that…God created male and female at the beginning of time, and designed sex for marriage between one man and one woman.” Chow seems to have anticipated how controversial her remarks would be, because she went out of her way to condemn bullying and bigotry. But, she told trans people, “at the bottom of my heart, I do not believe that your choices are right or the best for you as an individual.”

Chow got the backlash she feared and deserves. Hundreds of students signed a petition asking her to resign as a Student Senator. She’s been attacked on social media, and the Daily Californian (U.C. Berkeley’s widely-read student newspaper) heavily criticized her. In response, Chow has refused to quit her position, “because if I do, there will be no one else to represent the voices that are ignored and misunderstood on campus.”

She means “Christian” voices, but, of course, not all Christians, and perhaps not even a majority, are as transphobic as Chow. Clearly, her particular branch of Christianity, whatever it is (evangelical, Catholic, Baptist, Presbyterian?) has taught her to take this extreme position. Here is a comment I posted on her Facebook page:

It is very sad that a few religious cultists wish to impose their hateful views upon everybody else. Here in America, we have something called the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that absolutely prohibits government from embracing any particular religion. Sadly, these Christian extremists do not believe in the Constitution. They think that they, and the bigoted “preachers” who teach them to hate, should be determining our laws and practices. Well, that’s not going to happen. We must stand up to the religious right, to Ms. Chow and her supporters, and to the bullies who bash the LGBTQ community. I doubt that Ms. Chow will comprehend these truths because her mind has been so polluted with disinformation. But while she continues to be mired in the swamp of bigotry, the rest of us can sideline her and her associates and make sure they have no power whatsoever to enact their Taliban-like theocracy.

I remain convinced that the greatest threat to our American freedom and democracy are people such as Isabella Chow. Can someone explain to me the difference between her sect, and the maniacs who rule Iran, or the Taliban, or the mullahs teaching stupidity and intolerance in their madrassas? It may be true that Chow and her colleagues are not currently calling for violence against LGBTQ people, but experience has shown that when given the immense power of actual governmental authority, these authoritarian-religious despots frequently move against gay people, as we see in places like Kenya, Uganda and most Muslim nations, where it is a crime (often a capital one) to engage in homosexual acts, or even to “promote” homosexuality, for instance in a blog like mine (by which they mean having anything nice to say about it).

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: this Christian blather about “hating the sin but loving the sinner” is absolute garbage. It brings to mind the Grand Inquisitor, Tomas de Torquemada, praying for the souls of “heretics” even as he stretched them on the rack, waterboarded them, tore out their entrails, and set fire to the kindling (the “faggots”) upon which their bodies were bound. “Oh merciful God, who sent His only Son to deliver us from evil, we pray for the soul of this miserable sinner, whom we annihilate in the name of Jesus.”

Isabella Chow, you are wrong. Totally, amorally, indecently, stupidly, abysmally un-Americanly wrong. We do not “misunderstand” your voice; we understand it all too well: the moral rigidity, the parochialism, the narrow-mindedness, the judgmental absolutism. You would destroy our pluralistic society for a fundamentalist and essentially undemocratic (with a small “d”) Christianity. (By the way, you might read up on the history of anti-Chinese hatred by white Christians in California in the 19th century, which resulted in decades of laws against Chinese-Americans, in other words, Ms. Chow, against people like you.)

Whom someone loves, Ms. Chow, is none of your damned business. What you believe is in our best interests is of no interest to us whatsoever. Even the Pope asked, “Who am I to judge?” Are you more entitled to judge than the Pontiff? As you do not believe that a transgendered person’s “choices” are best for him or her (and you have no right to assume that the trans experience is a “choice,”), so most of us believe that your choices suck, in a Trumpian damaging and dangerous way. You’re entitled to them, if you really insist on remaining mired in your superstitious darkness. But you are not entitled to any position of power, in any capacity, that allows you to impose that dark, unAmerican vision upon the rest of us.

 


Ten Republicans

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  1. Devin Nunes.
  2. Orrin Hatch
  3. The Koch Brothers
  4. Rudy Giuliani
  5. Tucker Carlson
  6. Mike Pence
  7. Jared Kushner
  8. Mitch McConnell
  9. James Woods
  10. Donald J. Trump

Obama and Electiongate: Stockholm Syndrome?

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Like many of you, I was puzzled by Obama’s curiously passive response to Electiongate at his Friday press conference. While most Democrats, and even many Republicans, view Russia’s actions as a form of cyberwarfare—some have called it a digital Sept. 11—Obama’s message seemed to be: This sort of thing happens all the time. No big deal. Chill out.

The President refused to blame it directly on Putin, as his CIA and FBI have done. He refused to say it influenced the results of the election, as Hillary Clinton has charged (and most of us agree with her). Nor did Obama point the finger at James Comey, whom most of us believe violated the Hatch Act for partisan reasons. And while Obama had called, a week ago, for an investigation into Electiongate, during his televised news conference he appeared peculiarly listless: no outrage, no sense of alarm or perturbation. This was “No Drama Obama” at his coolest, but it demands an explanation. Why the lack of passion? Why is he underplaying Electiongate’s severity?

As I watched the news conference—which was delayed a good 20 minutes due, I think, to the breaking news that the FBI had signed on to the CIA’s analysis—I kept wondering when Obama would let loose and scream bloody murder. To no avail: he was relentlessly unemotional, speaking in a monotone, frequently pausing to “uhh,” and refusing to take any bait offered by a press corps that seemed as weirded out as I was by the President’s lack of affect. It was all very frustrating and puzzling to those of us who thought that here, at last, was an opportunity for Obama to come out swinging, hard—against Russia, against Comey, against Trump, against the lies and corruption that brought Hillary down and have tried to destroy him as well. And yet he refused to do so. It was almost like watching a victim of Stockholm Syndrome.

I wasn’t the only one who noticed Obama’s mealy-mouthed response to Electiongate. Yesterday’s New York Times, on the front page, called him “wary” and “cautious,” polite terms, I think, for irresolute. Saturday’s Wall Street Journal had an editorial, “Obama Goes Off the Clinton Script,” that noted, astonished, how Obama claimed “the emails stolen from John Podesta and the Democratic National Committee were ‘not some elaborate complicated espionage scheme.’” Calling the hacking and subsequent leaking “pretty routine stuff,” the most severe Obama could get was to declare that he would “take action” against Russia and Putin. But when? How? FDR didn’t wait until some future date to retaliate against the Japanese for Pearl Harbor. Will Obama release the evidence of wrongdoing on Russia’s part, which many Americans are asking for? Why is he—who has twice won the presidency—not going off the rails at how this recent election was, in effect, controlled by the Russians with, probably, inside knowledge of the Trump campaign? I mean, how bad does it have to get before the President shows some righteous anger?

So I’m scratching my head. Here we have Democrats, and tens of millions of people who voted for Hillary Clinton, outraged at Republicans; we know now that Donald Trump “won” the presidency illegitimately, we know we warned the country for months this was happening, and we are demanding that something be done about it. And here we have a President who, on Friday, live on T.V., could have and should have given articulate voice to our outrage. Obama could have been FDR speaking to Congress the day after Pearl Harbor, or JFK talking about Cuba to the American people, or George W. Bush on top of that car at Ground Zero, talking into the bullhorn. Obama could have been a President who rallied the people to a justified cause, in this acute, massive scandal. Instead, Obama chose, for his own reasons, to make it sound like he was talking about soybean subsidies.

The only explanation I can come up with—and it’s not a very satisfactory one—is that Obama feels personally responsible for a smooth transition to a Trump presidency, and is concerned about how he would look if, in his remaining month in office, he were seen as creating even more partisan divisiveness. This may be so—that theory fits in with what we know of his character, which is generally averse to confrontation. But I must say that, this time, Obama has let me down. Fortunately, he still has time to seize the moral high ground and come out swinging against what he well knows are dark, evil forces. He should remind himself—or be reminded—that his responsibility is not to ensure a smooth transition to an incompetent, mendacious incoming President, but to speak truth to History.


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