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9/16/20: Did Trump just declare war on blue states?

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Here’s another stupid thing Trump just said and, typical for him, his words contain troubling meta-meanings.

According to Axios, “President Trump said in a press conference Wednesday that the U.S. coronavirus death toll ‘is very low … if you take the blue states out…’”.

Let’s think about that. Once upon a time, American Presidents thought of themselves as President of all the States. George Washington fought to create a union. Thomas Jefferson governed to strengthen the union. Abraham Lincoln sought to preserve the union, Wilson and FDR to protect and defend it. Even Ronald Reagan saw his job as representing the country, which is to say the 50 states and U.S. territories.

Kiss all that goodbye. Trump just “took the blue states out,” not just from the coronavirus death count, but from the country he purports to lead. Blue state deaths are not of Americans, but of Democrats, of sinister, anti-American radicals—people he doesn’t like or care about. “If you take the blue states out…”.

Look, to “take something out” also means “to kill, destroy or disable it,” as in “the mob boss ordered his goons to take the witness out.” At this very moment, insane far right paramilitry groups, such as the so-called “proud boys,” are arming themselves as fast as they can, holding paintball drills, planning, planning, planning for their violent activities pre- and post-election. Like dogs, they keep their senses attuned to signals from their fuehrer, Trump. And he just told them, “If you take the blue states out…”

Trump didn’t complete the sentence. He didn’t have to. If you’re a rightwing paramilitary white nationalist, you know the rest of it. “If you take the blue states out, I’ll be very grateful. You’ll help me save America—our America—from them: the foreigners and terrorists, from ANTIFA and the fags who are coming after your children, from the meddling social scientists who want to destroy your way of life, from the atheists who would burn your Bibles, from the Blacks who want to invade your suburban neighborhoods and build slums, from the Mexican hoards who are rapists and criminals, from—” well, from whoever is the enemy-du-jour in Trump World.

What can one even say about the callousness of Trump’s words? “If you take the blue states out…’”. Besides, Trump’s statement is objectively false—surprise, surprise! As Axios points out, The big picture: New York (D), New Jersey (D), Texas (R), California (D) and Florida (R) have to date reported the highest number of deaths from the virus in the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins University. These are the states with the largest populations in the country. (And) red states and battlegrounds, such as Louisiana, Mississippi, Arizona and Michigan were also in the top ten (states with the worst COVID cases), USA Today notes.”

“If you take the blue states out…” As usual, Trump can’t even get his propaganda straight, unless he’s pre-conceding election results that turn Texas and Florida blue, not to mention Louisiana, Mississippi, Arizona and Michigan.

Maybe Trump’s onto something! Could any of those states turn blue? Here are the latest poll results, courtesy of FiveThirtyEight:

Arizona: Biden 50%, Trump 44%

Florida: Biden 43%, Trump 42%

Michigan: Biden 53%, Trump 44%

Texas: Biden 46%, Trump 46%

Mississippi: Trump 53%, Biden 43%

Well, there’s never been any hope for Mississippi, a state burdened by some of the worst rates in America of disease, poverty, adultery, births-out-of-wedlock, opioid use, and school dropouts. (Maybe Democrats will start saying, “If you take Mississippi out of the country, our national health and wellbeing rates will rise dramatically.”) For Trump to be so utterly, damnably wrong about blue states and COVID isn’t surprising: he’s damnably wrong about most things. For his base to accept such preposterous ignorance also isn’t surprising: they’ve accepted his crap from day one and aren’t about to change. What is surprising, though, is that he manages to get away with these monstrous lies, not so much because a craven media lets him—although they do—but because today’s monstrous lie is smothered by tomorrow’s even more monstrous lie which is obliterated by the next day’s monstrous lie, until, according to The Washington Post’s latest count, Trump has told more than 20,000 lies, a “tsunami of untruth” unprecedented in American history.

In a sense—a very real sense—Trump has declared war on blue states with his fake coronavirus allegation. Of course, he’s been declaring such a war in stages for years. We’re not going to have a date like Dec. 8, 1941, when Franklin Roosevelt formally declared war on Japan. Trump’s war on blue states is more like the Vietnam War: it accretes slowly, incident by incident, over time, until one day, the shooting is for real, even though Congress never used its powers under Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution “to declare war.” History does not record “The Vietnam War began on such-and-such a date.” Nor will history record that “Trump’s war on blue states began on Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020.” But it did. That’s the date Trump admitted (although he didn’t really intend to) that blue states are his enemy, and he’s prepared to “take them out” using any means necessary.


God loves America

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Oh my name it ain’t nothin’
My age it means less
The country I come from
Is called the Midwest
I was taught and brought up there
The laws to abide
And that land that I live in
Has God on its side

Bob Dylan

The British journalist Robert Fisk, in his epic “The Great War for Civilization: The Conquest of the Middle East,” describes an interview he conducted in 1993, in Abu Dhabi, with a man named John Hurst, who was a vice president of the American arms dealer, Lockheed Martin. Hurst was representing his company at an international munitions exhibition—tanks, missiles, body armor, that sort of thing—where military officials from around the world were buying weaponry from arms sellers around the world. Hurst, who had earlier worked on developing the Pershing II nuclear ballistic missile, was now selling Lockheed’s Hellfire ground-to-air missile to “friendly” countries like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates—yes, the same UAE that recently partied with Trump at the White House.

Fisk had seen, as he writes in his book, “thousands” of dead, torn and mutilated bodies during his years covering the Middle Eastern wars (and he was to see lots more in the years that followed). Appalled, he asked Hurst, respectfully, about “the morality, or immorality, of his work.” After all, Hurst’s descriptions of the Hellfire’s “percentages and development costs and deals” essentially “stripped (it) of politics and death.”

Hurst was thoughtful, Fisk writes. “I’ve had great debates (about that),” he replied. “On a religious basis, too.” He went on to explain his point of view. “I’m a very strong Christian. I’m Episcopalian. You can look through your entire New Testament and you won’t find anything on defending yourself by zapping the other guy. But the Old Testament, that was something different. There’s plenty there that says God wants us to defend ourselves against those that will strike us down. In the New Testament, it says the Lord wants us to preach his Gospel—and we can’t very well do that if we’re dead. That’s not an aggressive posture…the guy that wants to hurt me has to think twice…the Lord wants us to defend ourselves and arm ourselves so that we can spread his Word.”

Yes, an eye for an eye, in the name of Jesus. And there you have it: the basis for American defense [i.e. killing people] policy in the 1990s, according to Lockheed Martin, was so that America could spread Christianity throughout the world, especially in the Muslim Middle East.

Do you need me to point out the insanity of Hurst’s statement? At the very moment he was making it, Osama bin Laden was living not far away, in Sudan, planning his expansion of Al Qaeda into a terror organization. That same year would come the first bombing of the World Trade Center, as well as the ambush of U.S. soldiers in Somalia (“Black Hawk Down”), both attacks planned by bin Laden. And eight years later, of course, came World Trade Center attack #2.

And how was bin Laden justifying his attacks? “God willing, our raids on you will continue as long as your support to the Israelis will continue.” And here is what he said a few weeks after Sept. 11: “There is America, hit by God in one of its softest spots. Its greatest buildings were destroyed, thank God for that.” Can the Hursts of this world not see the irony? Hurst—echoed by U.S. Presidents—insists God is on America’s side and America is thus justified in using weapons of mass destruction against its enemies. Bin Laden insists God is on the side of the Muslims, who thus are justified in using their own forms of weapons of mass destruction to use against us. And so it goes, round and round, an insane, out-of-control merry-go-round of death, spiraling out of control.

What I’m writing here has little or nothing to do with America’s national interests. Perhaps we do sometimes have to fight “just” wars. We were right to defend ourselves after Sept. 11, and after Pearl Harbor as well. I’m not a rigid pacifist. But can we please move away from this silliness about “God”? People have differing understandings of God. No one’s view of God is better, truer or realer than anyone else’s. That should be obvious to any rational person. As soon as someone insists his “God” is the one, true God, and the other person’s “God” is a fake, we should move away from that person and not listen to him anymore, because he’s suffering from a mental condition. Yes, that includes, especially at this current time, idiots like Franklin Graham and Jerry Falwell, Jr., who happily no longer is around to plague us because his “God” failed to warn him that having polyamorous sexual affairs would get him in trouble. And this also includes, more than anyone else, the imposter Donald Trump, a lifelong agnostic who, having discovered what useful idiots evangelicals are, never fails to hoist up Bibles (upside down) and claim they’re his favorite book.

It’s people like this—the militant preachers, the sociopathic politicians—who keep getting us into trouble. This election is about a lot of things, but to my mind one of the biggest is that it represents a chance to begin to isolate these warmongering religious frauds. If we can’t get rid of them entirely—and I guess we can’t—we can at least make them irrelevant.


On Trump’s phony “Mideast peace plan”

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In politics, they say, timing is everything. Today, less than 50 days before the election, Trump is enjoying a spectacle of great pomp and historicity: the signing of a Mideast agreement between the United Arab Emirates and Israel.

Of course, the timing is blatant: with this move, Trump not only cements the support of his evangelical base, he picks up some Jewish votes and furthers the possibility—a dim one, in my estimation—of winning a Nobel Peace Prize, when the winner is announced on Oct. 11.

Trump wouldn’t be the first politician to time good news with an upcoming election. That’s how the game is played. And he’s pulled this one off rather well. The peace agreement will receive widespread news coverage, especially in conservative media, where they’re already touting this as the equivalent of Teddy Roosevelt ending the Russo-Japanese war (for which T.R. got his own Nobel Peace Prize). Trump knows how to do this kind of stuff. It’s all part of getting the T.V. ratings, and I don’t fault him for a moment for doing it.

The problem, from the point of view of this Jew, is that Trump’s Mideast policy is a catastrophe. It gives Israel everything it has always wanted—formalizing Jerusalem as the capital and letting Israel “immediately” annex its West Bank settlements. More importantly, the Trump plan basically jettisons a two-state solution forever. The Palestinian people have thus been robbed of the goal for which they’ve fought for the last seventy years; Trump has essentially told them to forget about ever having their own country.

I’m no hardline lefty, but I do read history, and I don’t like the fact that Israel, with United Nations connivance, has purloined the land the Palestinians have lived on since time immemorial. This is a people, the Palestinians, who through no fault of their own have been robbed of nationhood, been consigned to the most dismal poverty, and have had their hopes and dreams stolen from them. Yes, it’s true that the Palestinians have been some of the most recalcitrant people on earth. Their insane vow—to drive Israel into the sea—has never been reneged. Their obvious hatred of Jews is psychopathological, but then, so is Israel’s obvious hatred of the Palestinians. The latter have done some of the most egregious things against Israel for decades, a period of time in which they could have reached some kind of settlement with their neighbors. But what was offered to them was never, in their estimation, what they really wanted and deserved: their own country.

Who can criticize a people for rebelling against having their nationhood taken from them? Can you imagine how the armed militias in our own country would react if, somehow or other, another country seized control of large parts of America? The Proud Boys and their ilk would launch their own Intifada and the fighting would be horrendous. I was totally shocked when I heard of Jared Kushner’s “peace plan,” which predictably drew howls of outrage from the Palestinians, who will never support it. Far from being a “peace plan,” this is simply a continuing step towards war.

To understand why Trump and Kushner did what they did, you have to understand two things. First is Trump’s reliance on the evangelicals, and vice versa. The evangelicals believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible. We all know the Bible can be interpreted pretty much any way anyone wants; in the case of the evangelicals, they think that Jesus won’t return for a second coming until Jerusalem is restored as Israel’s capital (check that one off as accomplished) and Israel is restored to her Biblical borders, including Judea and Samaria, i.e. the West Bank. Again, mission accomplished.

But you also have to understand that Jared Kushner’s brand of Judaism is very similar to the Wahhabi brand of Islam, which is to say, one of its most fundamentalist, militant and irrational sects; Osama bin Laden was a Wahhabist. Most American Jews properly shun the Kushner brand of Orthodox Judaism, which, while not as extreme as the cult-like Hasidic forms of Judaism, nonetheless sees the Bible as literally true, and Israel as the most important country in the world. That this makes Kushner something of a dual-allegiance American is seldom discussed, but there can be no doubt that he views Israel’s Jews as a superior class of human and the Palestinians as a lesser form, not deserving of the same rights and privileges as Jews.

This runs counter to everything I’ve ever understood about my religion. We believe in fairness, in equity, in righting historical wrongs, not continuing them. We believe in compassion for a slighted people, the Palestinians, who have been kicked around by the West for centuries: by the Ottoman Turks, by Britain and France during their heyday, and, since World War II, by Israel and its patron, America.

The plight of the Palestinian people has not been abated one bit by this fake “peace plan” of Trump and Kushner. The day of reckoning hasn’t even been postponed. The Palestinians aren’t going away. Their birth rate is one of the highest in the world; Israel will continue to be surrounded by hostile Muslims made even angrier and more desperate by Trump’s betrayal of the Palestinians. It’s sad to see history being raped in the way that Trump currently is raping it, and it’s even sadder to see the news media not telling the truth about the “peace deal.”


Is 2020 the new 1939?

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Today is an emotional down day. Polls tightening everywhere. 538 has Trump’s disapprovals shrinking, his approvals ticking up, amidst reports he’s making inroads with college-educated white and Latinx voters. Today’s Chronicle has a headline “Independents veering to GOP.” Anecdotes say Trump’s threat that Antifa will invade the suburbs is working. The anti-mask, “COVID is fake news” movement is spreading. The crowd booed the “Moment of Unity” at the Texans-Chiefs game. All bad omens. Meanwhile, where is Kamala? She’s become the invisible candidate. And while they’re getting Biden out there, and he’s saying the right things, he still—to me—seems wobbly. I’m not sure I’m looking forward to the debates.

Of course, I have to take this depression in context. After six months of shelter-in-place, my mental state is increasingly haggard. The air this morning in Oakland is the worst in a week—which is saying a lot. As soon as I woke up, I wondered who the hell was barbecuing at 6 in the morning? It wasn’t barbecue: it was smoke, thick and acrid. Like everyone else in this situation, I don’t know whether to stay in the house all day—with the windows shut–or put on my mask and venture outdoors to stretch my legs. It’s damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

Four years ago, Trump’s impending victory (I knew it was coming) landed me in the hospital with heart valve trouble, brought on by stress and worry. This time, I’ve vowed not to let it happen again. Maybe, on some subconscious level, I’m preparing myself for a Trump win, so that when/if it happens it won’t catch me by surprise. If he does win, I ask myself, what do we—Democrats and anti-Trumpers—do? Take to the streets? Give up? Keep on keeping on? I don’t know. And in that uncertainty, all the creepy things in my feral imagination crawl out: after Trump’s second term comes Don, Jr. Or maybe Ivanka. Or Jared, building on what increasingly looks like his successful Middle East intervention. Or maybe collective Trump family leadership. Are we looking at decades of Perons, I mean Kims, I mean Assads, I mean Trumps? What does that even mean? They continue to stack the courts with Kavanaugh-type rightwing judges. Hitler did the same thing. One of the first things he did, on becoming Chancellor in 1933, was to institute Gleichschaltung, the “reorganization” of German culture and society into the Nazi mold. That was bad news for German liberals, socialists, Communists, artists, trade unionists, and of course Jews. The actors change, but the plot remains the same.

I had a dream last night—actually, it was in the hypnagogic period before the onset of full sleep—in which Trump was in charge of everything, and he ordered his MAGA troops to arrest undesirable elements. They came for me. I suppose reading, in The Great War for Civilization, of Saddam Hussein’s murder squads rounding up and slaughtering Kuwaitis, Shiites and Kurds in the aftermath of the Gulf War, when we allowed his Republican Guards to escape and regroup, made me jumpy. Saddam didn’t want to give up power, and he was really pissed at what he thought were his enemies, whom he proceeded to eliminate as ruthlessly and efficiently as the West allowed him, which was completely. Trump too doesn’t want to give up power. And he really, really hates his enemies—Democrats, liberals, LGBTQ people, environmentalists, human rights activists. And his own Republican Guard—an increasingly strong, restive internal militia—would, I think, have as little interest in keeping me alive as Saddam’s thugs had in allowing Shiites and Kurds to survive. That was the sum and substance of my dream. And it was, needless to say, scary.

Frank Figliuzzi, a former Assistant Director for Counterintelligence at the F.B.I., told Nicolle Wallace on MSNBC that “2020 will go down as the year the truth died.” 1933 was the year that truth, and democracy, freedom and sanity, died in Germany. If 2020 really is the death of truth in America, then we are in for a very tragic time. But, hey, maybe this is just my boredom and depression, worrying about nothing. Let me look at the positive side. Don’t worry, be happy! (insert happy face emoticon)


La Guilfoyle: an embarrassment

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Kimberly Guilfoyle is clearly nuts, as evidenced by her embarrassing Evita psychodrama at the Republican convention. But she had one thing right: California is becoming unliveable.

But it’s not due to the things Guilfoyle lied about. It’s not because of “discarded heroin needles in parks” or “blackouts in homes” and it’s not because of “riots in streets,” all of which she alleged and all of which are Republican propaganda. California, my state since 1978, does have problems, but not the fabrications Guilfoyle invented. So let me deconstruct The Guilfoyle’s smears.

I live in an inner city in California and I have never seen a “heroin needle in a park.” I’m sure that there are needles, here and elsewhere, but California cities have far less of a drug problem than other U.S. cities, the worst of which—get this—are in Republican states. Take a look at this map of the most opioids per person, as measured by U.S. congressional districts. Every single one of them is red: most of the Deep South, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and northeastern California—one of the most conservative areas in the country. They’re all “flooded” with opioids, of which heroin is one example.

So Kimberly Guilfoyle, STFU and stop lying!

“Blackouts in homes”? Yes, this happens during massive wildfires, because the state’s largest electric utilities, especially PG&E, conduct public safety power shutoffs whenever wildfires threaten to spiral out of control. But that’s a precautionary measure; it’s the only way to ensure that power lines don’t topple and and then spread sparks and fire to adjacent grasses and trees during extreme wind and heat events, the kind that have resulted in the destruction of tens of thousands of homes and hundreds of lives in the last five years alone. Perhaps Guilfoyle, whose current boyfriend is Donald Trump, Jr., is comforted by the fact that Mar-a-Lago is not threatened by wildfires. Maybe The Guilfoyle doesn’t understand that intentional power shutoffs, no matter how annoying, save lives. Or maybe she doesn’t give a damn about saving lives. Either way, Kimberly Guilfoyle, STFU and stop lying!

Guilfoyle is closer to the mark when she screams about “riots in the streets.” As anyone who reads my blog knows, I deplore the arsons, lootings and destruction as much as anyone. But what Guilfoyle won’t tell you is that Donald Trump deliberately fans the tensions that spark the riots. Yes, he believes that riots are good for him politically, so he instigates violence in order to be able to denounce it. So Kimberly Guilfoyle, STFU and stop lying!

Now, here’s the real reason California is getting unliveable, and it has nothing to do with politics. It’s climate change. Our climate is getting hotter. Anyone who lives here, Republican or Democrat, knows that. The last few years have been crazy. Winters are warmer; winter nights in particular are warmer. Our summer heat waves come earlier, are more intense, and last longer than they used to. The Los Angeles basin just recorded its highest-temperature ever, 121 degrees. Even here in cool Oakland, we’ve been over 100 degrees multiple times this year—and our hottest months lie ahead. Most of the recent spate of wildfires—which have now consumed a record 2 million acres—were caused by lightning from an errant monsoon, another example of how our climate is changing. The fires have nothing to do with the lie that Trump constantly repeats—that California isn’t doing enough “leaf raking” in the forests. Lightning strikes have nothing to do with forest management. Besides, the federal government—Trump’s responsibility—owns most of the wilderness and forests in California.

The fires are awful for those whom they directly impact, but their smoke impacts people hundreds of miles away from the flames. Here in the Bay Area, we’re had unhealthy air quality for 23 days in a row, a record, and on many of those days, we’ve been told we had the worst air quality in the world. Everything smells like a used ashtray. Cars are coated with white dust, the ash of burned organic matter drifting down from the skies. When the temperature is 108 degrees and the air is too filthy to safely breathe, even with a mask, you do think about going someplace else. But this is all about climate change, something the Republicans will never admit. La Guilfoyle liked it here well enough when she was the celebrated, socially-connected First Lady of San Francisco, a glamorous fashionista. Now, suddenly, she has decided she hates California—I guess because California hates her boyfriend’s Daddy. So Kimberly Guilfoyle, STFU and stop lying!

Well, look, it’s fun to parody Kimberly Guilfoyle. She’s such a freak, sort of an Ivanka on crack. Her fellow conservatives—white, racist, homophobic, xenophobic members of the Trump cult—love her, the way they love other freaks of the feminine persuasion like Laura Ingraham, Ann Coulter and, yes, the notorious Ivanka. It’s funny the way Republicans have a Madonna-whore attitude towards women: they’re either devils if they’re Democrats, or virtuous angels if they’re Republican. Republican voters know they wouldn’t want their sons or brothers to get tangled up with the likes of a Guilfoyle, Ingraham or Coulter, because they’re really bad news. But since they’re Republicans, they can be forgiven, and the more vicious they are towards Democrats, the more forgiven they can be, and hence the more vicious they can behave. Think of those three women—Guilfoyle, Ingraham and Coulter—and then think of Michelle Obama. Which would you rather have in your family?


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