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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.


How do you know if it’s a bot or a real pro-Trump person?

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Because, really, it can be impossible to tell the difference. Bots (often from pro-Trump Russian interests) and pro-Trump human beings both resort to the same techniques: outrageous lies, preposterous accusations, the usual smears against the usual suspects (Hillary, Obama, Democrats), attacks on non-usual suspects who are newcomers to the political scene (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has come under heavy fire on rightwing assault vehicles like Breitbart), vulgarities, sexual innuendoes, and in general, the stupidest, easiest-to-disprove claims the right generates to disseminate anger and doubt.

Consider, for example, a supposed person named Robert Manning, who is one of my Facebook “friends.” I don’t know who he is, or where he lives: the information on his Facebook page may or may not be real. Whoever or whatever he is, he is one of the most rightwing, pathologically sick Trumpites I’ve yet to come across—and that’s saying a lot! He loves to put up posters with moronic sayings against Democrats—sayings that are demonstrably untrue, and that show a bigotry that is despicable in our multi-cultural democracy. Let me share a couple of his phony posters. I doubt that Manning himself designed them, or even came up with the memes; he’s an old man who most likely doesn’t possess computer skills. Rather, I suspect, Manning is supplied these posters by pro-Trump forces, who may well be Russians.

This one is heinous.

It implies that only Republicans care about our men and women in uniform—a smear that has been a favorite of rightwing white nationalists in the Republican Party for decades, but one that has gained urgency with the advent of Trump who, with his constant attacks on military heroes, is the most disrespectful (of serving Americans) of any President in history.

Then there’s this one, a not-so-thinly veiled attack on women and people of the Islamic faith.

Trump has made it permissible for neo-nazis to insult and demean both women and Muslims, and with this nasty little poster, Manning is doing his part to rile up hatred on the right. Manning, how about we make a deal: Ocasio-Cortez can’t wear her headscarf in Congress, and Christians can’t wear crosses.

Speaking of Christians, it wouldn’t be a Trumpite rightwinger if it wasn’t promoting its own religion, and Manning does that particularly well.

He seems to be some kind of evangelical Christian, perhaps a Catholic of the fascist type, and his posts are frequently filled with “Blessings” and references to “God.” In this, Manning borrows from the Trump playbook to demean his political enemies (Democrats) with the implication that “America” can’t be great “again,” and “God” will not love America, until everyone in it, or the majority of us, is as batshit born-again crazy as he is. No room for diversity in Manning’s theocratic dictatorship. Only his brand of “Christians” need apply.

I referred briefly to Manning’s misogyny earlier, but I need to do so again, as he so frequently attacks Democratic women with even more viciousness than his hero, Trump, if that’s possible. This crowbar to the knees against Dianne Feinstein speaks for itself in violence, ill-feeling and lies.

Here’s one more that’s a real howler, considering that Trump “won” the election only with the help of Putin, who undoubtedly has “the goods” on Trump, possibly the pee tape, more probably evidence of serious financial wrongdoing by the Trump Organization.

It is indeed funny that Manning is now pretending to be upset at foreign meddling in our elections, given what we know of Russian collusion. He has zero proof–zero!–of any non-citizens voting–show us one, Manning, one non-citizen who voted!–but he doesn’t need any proof, because in the Trump’s War on Truth, to make the allegation is enough. This line of attack is so stupid, it makes me wonder why Manning has been instructed by his handlers to bring up the topic in the first place. My hunch (and that’s all it is) is that it’s somehow designed to pave the way for Trump to fire Mueller and discredit (if not deep-six) his report. I don’t know how, but that’s the goal.

Manning posts so much fake bullshit that I could cite it all day, but I have room only for one more: another attack on a woman, and this time a Black woman: Whoopie Goldberg.

He might have chosen Meghan McCain or Abby Huntsman for his diatribe against a popular morning TV program, but no, he needed a Black woman to stir up the bile in Red State trailer parks against “them.” One might have thought, not that long ago, that displaying such open hostility to women and minorities would be reserved for men’s clubrooms at all-white country clubs in lily-white suburbs. No more. Nowadays, white supremacists like Manning have been emboldened by their Leader to haul their bigotry out in the open and celebrate their racism.

I show you Manning’s deplorable posters not to give him any more publicity than he deserves, but because it’s always a good idea to personalize an opponent, to put a human face on him (if, indeed, Manning is human). People like Manning are a severe problem for America. Everything he stands for is obviously odious, but also patently false. And in this, too, Manning has borrowed a tactic from Trump (who borrowed it from Goebbels): Tell a big, huge lie, and repeat it often. There are enough unstable people on the Trump right wing who will believe anything, as long as it’s directed towards people and groups they hate (Blacks, women, liberals, Muslims, gays).

The larger question remains unanswered: What does he get from such stupid stuff? Does he feel, in his life that may be small and have unaccomplished little, like he is somehow making a mark on the world? Does he have repressed anger so great that it needs to seep out like sewage in horrid attacks on his fellow human beings, none of whom has done anything against him? Or, maybe, is he getting paid by his Russian-Trump overlords to spread disinformation and bad feeling? We don’t know the precise answer, but we do know, beyond doubt, that Manning and people like him must be stopped—and the only ways to stop them are through elections, through compelling Facebook and Twitter and other social media platforms to more rigorously patrol their posts, and to educate the American people that Trump is a menace—and so is Manning.


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.


A lesson Trump could learn from Churchill (but won’t)

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In the early Fall of 1938, the leaders of Great Britain, France and Italy met in Germany with Hitler, where they acceded to his demand that Czechoslovakia be dismembered, its Sudetenland region to pass to German control. This was the famous Munich Agreement, to which the Czechs themselves were not even invited, even though their country was being destroyed by others.

This Munich Agreement came to be understood as “appeasement,” now a dirty word in politics. But at the time, following the ghastly slaughter of World War I, Europe was horrified by the prospects of another war, and the Munich Agreement was seen by most as a wise and careful keeping-of-the-peace on the Continent.

No one saw it this way more than the British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain. When he came back to London bearing the signed protocol, he declared, to a cheering crowd, “I have returned from Germany with peace for our time.” It surely was one of the more unfortunate statements any world leader ever made.

At least one British politician wasn’t buying it. Winston Churchill then was not in the government; he merely represented his district, Epping, near London. For the previous four or five years, Churchill had warned Parliament, his fellow countrymen and anyone who would listen of the growing Hitler menace. Few cared. The period 1934-1949 has been called Churchill’s “years in the wilderness” because, out of power, disliked by many in Parliament, a bit of a showboat, he was perceived as a rather excitable, cranky and dangerous old man, ranting (albeit in memorable phrases) about a Germany few Englishmen felt any reason to fear.

After Chamberlain returned from Munich, Churchill, on Oct. 5, 1938, gave a remarkable speech in the House of Commons. It was a scathing indictment of the Prime Minister. Churchill’s best biographer, Roy Jenkins, calls it “a speech of power and intransigence.” Among its more memorable phrases: “We have sustained a total and unmitigated defeat…the utmost [Chamberlain] has been able to gain for Czechoslovakia…has been that the German dictator, instead of snatching the victuals from the table, has been content to have them served to him course by course…All is over. Silent, mournful, abandoned, broken, Czechoslovakia recedes into the darkness.”

 Churchill suffered immediately from the speech. Even his Parliamentary friends thought it intemperate and unfair to “the Prince of Peace,” as many were calling Chamberlain. His re-election prospects in Epping dimmed. Churchill himself called this episode “one of the major political crises” he had ever experienced (although he was returned to office). Jenkins, the biographer—no political slouch himself, he rose to be Chancellor of the Exchequer–in analyzing this period writes with insight of the balancing act Churchill had at that time to perform: he must respect his constituents’ views, on the one hand (and his Epping constituents were pro-peace and pro-Chamberlain), while on the other hand remaining true to his ideals and beliefs. Churchill chose, in that speech, to side with the handful of militants who believed Chamberlain had sold out a tiny country in the name of appeasing a menacing dictator.

“Politics,” writes Jenkins, “could hardly function without militants. But the difficulty of sustaining enthusiasm without giving militants excessive power has been one of the perennial problems of democratic government.”

Meaning that the wise politician, who aims to be re-elected while simultaneously and hopefully making a mark in History, needs his militants to provide the energy of political support that wins elections. But that politician has to recognize that militants may contain the seeds of their, and his own, destruction. Churchill, throughout his long (55 years) career in Parliament, was not always the most cautious politician, and often found himself in trouble, McCain-like, with his own party. But he did manage successfully to negotiate the shoals of the political vicissitudes that blew in England during his turbulent years of service. Whenever he tacked too far one way, he corrected course, and this kept him alive.

We have now, in America, a leader decidedly not in the Churchillian mold, either rhetorically, or with anywhere near the same political skills not to mention basic human decency. Trump would have profited from reading Jenkins’ advice to keep your militants close but not allow them to write his entire playbook. I understand, as a student of history and politics, that Trump had to play to the Tea Party, evangelicals and neo-nazis, in order to get elected. But once he did get elected, he ought to have realized z fundamental principle of politics: When you have your base by the short hairs, move to the middle. Where else could his white-nationalist right flank go, if he turned in a more moderate direction? He might even broaden his base. Bill Clinton understood this implicitly when, for instance, he criticized Sista Souljah. He knew that some Lefties and African-Americans would be pissed. But who else did they have?

Donald Trump needs a Sista Souljah moment but he’s not going to have one, because he can’t allow any daylight between himself and the cult of Fox “News,” Breitbart, Limbaugh and the rest of the right wing propaganda machine. He doesn’t understand what a great favor he’d do for himself if, say, he supported the recounts in Georgia and Florida, or if he condemned Steve King’s overt racism, or if he had a few kind words to say about transgendered people (probably, Ivanka could dig up a few), or if he admitted that he’s been wrong, climate change is a big problem and is exacerbated by human activity. If he did any of these things, the Right would howl, but stick with him, while Democrats would have to publicly praise him. He might even salvage a few independents.

But he can’t, for two reasons. First, he doesn’t possess the political skills. Secondly, and more importantly, he can’t repudiate the more egregious sins of his base, because he believes in the same things. He really is a racist. He really is a homophobe. He really does support white nationalists like Alex Jones, and he really does believe in suppressing minority voting. Trump is no Churchill, obviously. He isn’t even a Bill Clinton. He isn’t like anything we’re known before. But he is like, or aspires to be like, the man whom Churchill, in his wilderness, warned the world about.


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