subscribe: Posts | Comments      Facebook      Email Steve

What happens when America’s chief law enforcement officer is a religious maniac?

1 comment

Let’s understand a few things about William Barr, who currently is Trump’s Attorney-General. We’ll start with his religion, because he says he’s here “to bring God’s law to America,” and since Barr is America’s chief legal officer, we need to understand just what he means.

Barr was born Catholic but became an evangelical Christian at some point in his past; exactly when is uncertain, because Barr is very reluctant to admit it. We know certain things about evangelicals: they believe the Earth is exactly 5,779 years old because that’s what the Hebrew calendar says, and the Bible, according to them, is the literal truth of everything.

They believe that Jesus is going to return to Earth, at which time his enemies (gays, Muslims, Jews, and everyone else who hasn’t accepted Jesus) will promptly be sent to Hell. They believe that, in order to prepare America for this expected Rapture, they must take over all power: government, schools, media, etc. and stamp out non-evangelical messages.

Evangelicals, as their name suggests, are not content to live their religious lives privately. Instead, they believe that God has commanded them to impose their religion on everyone else, regardless of whether or not others wish to accept their religion. This tends to make evangelicals pushy, which explains why they like the bully, Trump. This is not a problem, as long as they don’t have power; but in the case of the Trump regime and William Barr, they do have power. A lot of power. So when Barr rages against “the secular assault on religion,” as he frequently does, implicit in his fulminations is the threat of using his vast powers to repress those “secular” impulses, by force if necessary.

Indeed, the language of militancy runs throughout evangelical discourse, and is Barr’s preferred metaphor, as well. His Justice Department will “fight to enforce traditional values,” he said in a speech last week. Whom will he fight, how will he conduct his fight, and what are those traditional values? His own words provide the answers: He will fight “the secularists.” Who are the secularists? You don’t need a dictionary to know: the secularists are anyone who is not a Christian. That’s me. It may be you.

How will he fight us? The most obvious way is through the law, and Barr’s interpretation of it. This means, among other things, that Barr will fight to make same-sex marriage once again illegal. He will fight to protect the “right” of bigoted bakers not to sell wedding cake to gay couples. He will fight to rid the military of trans people, and he will fight to once again force gay people into the closet. And on many other fronts, Barr will use the courts to bludgeon people into an evangelical way of acting.

What are Barr’s “traditional values”? The most ironic way of identifying them is to look at the life of Barr’s boss, Donald J. Trump. You can identify a “traditional value” as the opposite of anything Trump says and does. Barr says the family is the most sacred bedrock of traditional values. Trump’s addiction to pornography, serial adultery and to grabbing women’s genitals surely is the opposite of “traditional family values” but that doesn’t seem to bother Barr or his fellow evangelicals.

Swearing also is a “traditional value,” but when Trump publicly uses the f-bomb and “pussy” and “shit” you don’t hear Barr or his evangelical friends criticizing such filthy language coming from a President of the United States. Another traditional value is loyalty to one’s friends, but when Trump throws the Kurds under the bus, where’s Barr? Playing the bagpipes, probably; it’s his hobby.

Well, you can’t expect logical consistency from evangelicals because their minds don’t work that way. Imagine the mental energy that needs to be expended, in the form of denial and resentment, in order to believe that the Universe is 5,779 years old. You have to disregard so much evidence! Our human brains have evolved to make us rational creatures, but at the same time we still possess a reptilian brainstem that rejects reason and science; and it is from this reptilian brainstem that evangelicals like William Barr “think.” An alligator cannot reason; an alligator only knows how to attack and devour its enemy, and this militancy lies behind Barr’s threat to “fight the secularists.”

But William Barr’s inability to think beyond his reptilian brainstem will be his downfall, because he doesn’t realize just how powerful we “secularists” are, when we band together to defend ourselves and our country. There are way, way more of us than there are of the evangelicals. Trump has tried for nearly three years to pack the courts with evangelical judges, but secular-minded judges still remain the majority: this doesn’t mean they’re atheists or agnostics, but it does mean they put the Law ahead of their religious preferences. William Barr does not; like the late Antonin Scalia and the still-living Clarence Thomas (both Catholics), Barr puts his religion front and center, and anything that doesn’t kowtow to it—including the Constitution—is expendable.

This is why the Republicans are going to suffer such a huge electoral defeat next year. Most Americans, of all religions, remain fair-minded. They know that our country was born in a fight against a dictatorship (George III’s monarchy) and they have no wish to see a religious theocracy imposed upon them. There may even be some evangelicals who are beginning to have their doubts about Trump. It’s going to be hard on them, in the coming year; after all the energy and faith they poured into Trump, it will be an enormous strain on their cognitive dissonance to realize that he’s a truly bad, ungodly man, and that he has sold out his country for his own personal greed and profit. So, I feel a little compassion for evangelicals: not much, because they have brought this catastrophe upon themselves; but a little. They’re having a reckoning with themselves, and to be honest, it’s fun to watch them melt down.


Friday News Quiz

0 comments

Okay, kids, here’s your final multiple choice quiz of the week. How will Trump and his regime be remembered by History?

  1. Worst in American history
  2. A depraved hiccup, after which normalcy was restored
  3. The cause of Civil War II
  4. The demise of evangelicalism in America
  5. Part of a wave of nationalist-white supremacist governments around the world
  6. All of the above
  7. None of the above
  8. Some of the above

It’s pretty obvious, to me anyway, that #1 is going to be true. We already see the outlines: a greedy, criminal enterprise, similar to a Mafia family, run by an unscrupulous, sexually depraved man. Comparisons have been made to Tony Soprano, but that’s not right, because Tony was—for all his faults—likeable; and Trump is not, not even by his Republican allies.

Concerning #2, we might well return to normalcy, starting when we elect a Democratic President and Congress next year. Or we might not. The seeds of American democracy are strong, but this regime has poisoned the soil, like a toxic waste dump, and it could be a long time before normal conditions are restored.

I doubt if #3, the Civil War II scenario, will ensue, but you never know. This Trump bunch is mentally ill; they’re basically sociopaths (as is Trump himself) and they also have weapons. They may take to the streets, in which case the rest of us would have to fight back. I think that they’ll be talked down from their violence (by their families, or clergymen, or friends) but they just might be angry enough to start shooting.

I earnestly hope and pray that #4, the demise of evangelicalism, comes true. I harbor no illusions that we can crush it 100%. These idiots have always lurked at the fringes of American society and they’re not going away. But we can reduce their numbers, and we can reduce their influence, and we can certainly shame them into shutting up and leaving us alone.

#5, the spread of white supremacist-nationalist governments around the world, is already happening, as my readers know. Trump is only its American incarnation. We’ve seen this before: the rise of fascism in Europe in the 1930s, which led to World War II. But History doesn’t exactly repeat itself. There are some understandable reasons why Western nations occasionally lurch into nationalism. These reasons are false, on analysis; but the underlying feelings that prompt them are real. Governments, including America’s, need to understand why so many white people seem to yearn for authoritarian, one-party leaders who can make the trains run on time.

Therefore, #6 is incorrect and so is #7. The final correct answer is #8: “some of the above.”

Meanwhile, I am loving the turn of events which UkraineGate is bringing about. I don’t see how Trump finagles himself out of this shitstorm. Neither do I see how his craziest allies—Giuliani, Pence, Pompeo and Republican Congressional leaders—get out of this alive. With every ounce of my hope I envision Nuremberg-style trials in which this entire rogue regime is brought to Justice, convicted and sentenced to prison. See Paris and die? No, see Trump behind bars, and then I’ll be happy to go to Valhalla.

Have a wonderful weekend! To my friends in fire-prone California, stay safe!


Here’s the truth about the Deep State

2 comments

You wanna know who the goddamn Deep State is? I’ll tell you.

First, a definition. The Deep State is a seditious cadre of right wing religious fascists, rapacious billionaires, and the slime bags on the consultative/media rear end of the Republican Party. Together, they have made common cause against America: they wish to do away with the U.S. Constitution, delegitimize all branches of government (the Congress and the Courts) except for the presidency as long as Trump occupies it, sow mistrust in America’s intelligence services, eliminate all taxes on the wealthy and the corporations they own, destroy independent journalism AKA the First Amendment to the Constitution, and eventually to take this country over as a one-party, religious theocracy.

That’s the Deep State!

Let’s name names.

First among the criminals of the Deep State are so-called “Christian” evangelical preachers. They’ve been burrowing into the fabric of our political structure since the 1970s. Despite the reality of many of them being sexual predators who use the services of prostitutes of both genders for their personal pleasure, they somehow manage to retain the trust of their “flocks,” to whom they preach “family values.” People like Jerry Falwell, Jr. and Franklin Graham are their latest incarnations, but their predecessors include such notorious pervs as Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker. They extort money from their (mostly impoverished and ignorant) congregations and use it to live fabulous lifestyles, while arranging for bundled money to be siphoned off to arch-conservative political candidates, which is how they acquired and maintain power with Republicans including Trump and, before him, George W. Bush and Reagan. These people represent a clear and present danger to our nation. They are not religious. They have nothing to do with spirituality or God. They are traitors devoted to Mammon, bent on overturning our multi-cultural democracy and creating a religious dictatorship, with themselves at the controls.

Then there are the greedy billionaires, who never have enough money, no matter how much they possess. Read Jane Mayer’s magnificent book, Dark Money, for more information on them. The Koch Brothers (well, one recently died, thankfully), the Mercers, the DeVoses (one of them is in Trump’s Cabinet), the Coors family—these plutocrats are hell-bent on doing away with taxes while starving the Federal government so that it is no longer able to provide any sort of assistance to struggling people. Their philosophical prophets, to the extent they know how to read, are Ayn Rand and Friedrich Hayek. They despise the poor. They despise people of color. They despise workers, even though without workers they would be pond scum on the surface of America. These are the thugs who buy and sell politicians and judges like soap powder; they bought and paid for the likes of Brett Kavanaugh, and now they expect a return on their investment.

Next in the Basket of Deplorables is the media/pundit/consultant class of far rightwing neo-fascists. They’re the ones you see on Fox “News,” in Breitbart, in the op-ed pages of the Wall Street Journal. Consider Tucker Carlson, if you’re able to do so without vomiting, but of course there are others: Sean Hannity, Lou Dobbs, Rush Limbaugh, Daniel Henninger and Kimberley Strassel at the WSJ, and many, many others. These neo-fascists, many of whom are white supremacists, take their talking points from the RNC and directly from the White House. They’re smart enough to know that they lie on behalf of a wannabe dictator, Trump; they’re amoral enough not to care, as long as they get money and power.

You’ll notice I didn’t include Republican politicians in my lineup of the Deep State. People such as Lindsay Graham, John Cornyn, Devin Nunes, Mitch McConnell, the disgraced Pompeo and the repugnant Pence of course are vile; without them Trump and the Deep State could not carry out their nefarious agenda. But they’re not really Deep State because they’re elected; and they can be unelected. It doesn’t matter if they’re turned out of office, because the rightwing Deep State can always find another dime-a-dozen stooge to carry their water.

So there’s your Deep State. This is the cabal that’s working, 24/7/365, to destroy America and install an authoritarian “Christian” regime. This is what must be pulled out by its roots and totally eradicated. And I have a message for Democrats: stop letting Trump and his Deep State put you on the defensive! Stop denying that you’re the Deep State just because they accuse you of it. Turn the tables. When you’re being interviewed on T.V., or speaking at a Town Hall, educate your listeners. Tell them who the real Deep State is. Read this blog. And for God’s sake, take off the damned gloves! The rightwing Deep State plays with knives and guns while you’re out there trying to be, oh so polite and civil. We don’t want polite; we can’t afford polite; they will kill us with polite. Get yourself a knife—a long, sharp one—and learn how to use it on Republicans—rhetorically-speaking, of course!


Trump’s Supreme Court takes up gay rights

0 comments

Trump and the Republican Party do not believe that gay people deserve any protection under the country’s landmark 1964 Civil Rights bill.

I think the general perception is that Trump, himself, is probably not homophobic. He may not be a supporter of gay rights, and may personally be made uncomfortable by gay people, but in his life he has shown no particular hostility to gay people—until he became president. His daughter, Ivanka, in particular, seems gay-friendly (after all, she was in the rag business), although it has to be admitted that her brand of Judaism (she converted in 2009) is the far-right, fiercely homophobic Lubavitch strain of Orthodoxy. I have known “Lubies,” as they’re affectionately known. They’re the world’s nicest, most welcoming people—unless you’re gay, in which case they may, or may not, confess to you that, when the Messiah returns (as they believe he will) and Jewish Sharia law is instituted, they will give gay people two options: convert, or be stoned to death.

But I digress. Trump’s homophobic views on gay rights will certainly be the backdrop of a case the Supreme Court took up today: Does the federal law that bans sex discrimination in hiring apply to gay people as well as to women?

The answer, from the point of view of decency and common sense, is Yes.

Clearly, Clayton County, Georgia (which, interestingly enough, went heavily Democratic in the 2018 Blue Wave election), was horribly wrong, when it fired Gerald Bostock for being gay. He had worked, for ten years, with the county courts in providing legal protections for abused and neglected children, and by all accounts did an outstanding job. “I lost my livelihood. I lost my medical insurance, and at the time I was fighting prostate cancer. It was devastating,” a distraught Bostock said.

What does the 1964 Civil Rights Act actually say? Title VII is the relevant clause:

It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual…because of such individual’s…sex.”

How did the law’s authors define “sex”? Here it is: “The terms ‘because of sex’ or ‘on the basis of sex’ include, but are not limited to, because of or on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions; and women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions shall be treated the same for all employment-­related purposes…”.

Now, it’s true that the law says nothing specific about gay people. It says a great deal about women, but is silent on the LGBT community. However, the key phrase is “but are not limited to.” That left the door open for whether or not Gerald Bostock could be fired from his job simply because he was gay. And that’s what this Supreme Court case is all about.

Obviously, the case could be decided either way. The Court could rule on a very narrow basis that Title VII says nothing about gay people, so therefore, Bostock is not protected. Or it could rule that, back in 1964 when Congress debated the Civil Rights Act, gay issues had not yet emerged as national urgency, but that gay people do fall under the protected cover of “because of sex.”

It seems clear that gay people should be protected. How can an employer feel free to fire a competent worker simply because the employer’s supposedly “Christian” religion is homophobic? That’s crazy.

But when you look at the makeup of this Supreme Court, there’s a lot of potential for craziness. The Court is dominated by religiously conservative Roman Catholics, and Catholicism, let us remember, is notoriously homophobic; the Vatican’s position remains that homosexuality is “intrinsically disordered.” (This, despite the worldwide scandals of priestly pedophilia! Talk about “intrinsically disordered”!!)

Some Roman Catholics are obviously more open-minded about homosexuality than others, but several decades of appointments of justices by homophobic Republican presidents, supported by homophobic Republican Senators, have stacked the Court’s balance in favor of homophobia.

Still, sometimes this Court can surprise us. Chief Justice John Roberts, a conservative Catholic, voted both to end the ban against gay people in the military, and to allow gay people to get married. Perhaps this was a difficult decision for him (although it shouldn’t have been). Perhaps he voted as he did with one eye cast on his future legacy in jurisprudential history. If he did, other rightwing Catholic justices—especially the rabid Clarence Thomas—did not feel the same way. And now, we have the unknown, but suspect, Brett Kavanaugh to deal with…another Catholic, who appears to also be a rapist, and whose anger at Democrats is unbounded.

In any sane, just and decent decision, this Court will order Bostock reinstated, and allow him to sue his former employer in civil court, for a huge amount of money to compensate—partially—for the emotional and financial damage he suffered because of somebody’s hatred of gay people. Is it too much to hope that SCOTUS will do the right thing? In this Age of Trump, yes. But we can hope…


It doesn’t matter if the Senate kills Impeachment

0 comments

We’ll get the motherfuckers anyway!

Like you, I’ve been mesmerized by the Impeachment process now moving through the Congress. I’m quite sure that the House will indeed approve Impeachment. I’m also pretty sure that the Republican Senate will never vote to convict the criminal, Trump. Let’s say all this happens sometime before Christmas. Where does that leave us?

The risk for Democrats is that Trump will then claim “total exoneration.” His neo-fascist allies will proclaim that Nancy Pelosi blundered badly. And then, as the all-important year of 2020 comes, Democrats might find themselves demoralized: the Mueller Report seems to have been a dud; despite all the House committees investigating various misdeeds by Trump, nothing is getting done; and, suddenly, even Impeachment has been lost as an issue.

What then?

Well, there will remain plenty of other issues: immigration and borders, climate change, tax policy, abortion, judicial appointments, LGBT concerns, foreign policy, budget deficits and so on. But none of these really grabs the public’s attention the way The Resistance to Trump has. The Resistance to Trump (which I joined in September, 2016, even before the election) has been the most spectacular public movement I’ve seen since Vietnam days. It’s been an overwhelming success; a majority of the American people see through Trump, they know he’s a disgusting liar, and they wish to see him gone. No specific policy issue carries the weight and import of The Resistance. So the question of what happens post-Impeachment becomes, What happens to The Resistance?

It’s possible it could peter out. People already have Trump fatigue. Every day, sometimes several times every day, he does something so stupid, so dangerous, so offensive that, after a while, people start to shrug and think, “Another day, another idiotic Trump tweet.” There’s a risk that Americans will just go back to their regular lives after burning out on three years of Trump.

But I don’t think that will happen. First of all, a majority of Americans are already primed for the Republican Senate to kill Impeachment. McConnell has already stated clearly that he will bury Impeachment, when it comes to him. Democrats will be able to leverage that into a new level of outrage against the Republican Party.

Then, too, there’s no evidence Trump will stop doing stupid, outrageous things post-Impeachment. If anything, he’ll be emboldened. He’ll continue to poke sticks in the eyes of Democrats, the media, women, gays, people of color and people who still possess common sense and decency. I suspect Trump’s approval ratings—which are already in the toilet—will continue to sink lower and lower. Then what?

We won’t be able to impeach him a second time. But 2020 is a big election year: and that’s where Trump’s karma will finally catch up to him. Not only his, but the Republicans in general: they’re due for a licking because of the contemptible way they have treated our Constitution and the American people. So, ultimately, even if and when the Senate buries Impeachment, we’ll still have the elections to bring this cult of Trump to justice.

But wait! There’s more. The instant Trump is no longer president, let the indictments begin! All the stuff that Republicans claim a sitting president can’t be charged with will, once he’s lost power, then be indictable. I’ve lost count of all the crimes Trump has committed, but I know there are Democratic lawyers with lists. Once he’s private citizen Trump, the lawyers can have a field day; ditto for the district attorneys. Trump will face lawsuits from coast to coast; he won’t be able to dodge or obstruct them, the way he’s doing to the House now. If he tries, some magistrate somewhere can order him hauled off to jail. And the same goes for his co-conspirators, everyone from Jared and Ivanka to Kevin McCarthy, McConnell, Kellyanne Conway and the rest of the deplorables.

So don’t despair. It will be sad when the Senate kills Impeachment, but that will be only another chapter in a long saga that, I am sure, will end in the utter destruction of Donald J. Trump, and the historic repudiation of the Republican Party.


« Previous Entries

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

Categories

Archives