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Why it would have been easy for Trump to order Epstein’s death

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The dumbest remark I’ve heard all week—and I’ve heard a lot of dumb stuff from Republicans—was on Breitbart or, as I like to call it, BiteFart. It was from a woman (obviously not well-educated), who wrote, concerning the Epstein death, “Trump is no murder.” She meant “murderer,” of course, but many if not most of these Republican Trump supporters are sadly lacking in basic writing skills, as a read-through of comments on BiteFart shows every day. (The possibility also exists that the woman is some kind of Russian bot or troll.)

How does this woman know that “Trump is no murder”? He sanctions murder, that’s for sure. A couple of years ago, in an interview in which he was criticized for supporting murderous dictators, he said (I paraphrase), “What, you think America doesn’t kill people?” Coming from the President of the United States, that is a pretty clear indication that Trump has ordered deaths. Given what we know of his personality—sociopathic, narcissistic, megalomaniacal, paranoid—there’s no reason not to believe that he’s comfortable with taking out his enemies. I would not kill—you would not kill—most decent people would not kill—but Donald Trump would, if he could; and he can. He’s the most powerful person in the world.

Look, if he wanted to “arrange” the death of Epstein in the Metropolitan Correctional Center, he could do it with a wink and a nod. Arrange for someone to be off-duty at a crucial moment. Pay someone to “not see” something. Have an important document mysteriously disappear. Epstein supposedly hanged himself (with what, we don’t know). Do you not think someone could have entered his cell, overpowered him, and strangled him, then made the scene look as though Epstein had done the deed himself?

Over at the afore-mentioned BiteFart the running meme is that Bill Clinton (or, in some cases, Hillary) arranged for Epstein’s murder. Just how either of the Clintons retains enough power to pull off a stunt like that is not explained by BiteFarters, who never need evidence for their ridiculous conspiracy theories. Former Presidents have absolutely no extrajudicial power, beyond the power of the pulpit. Sitting Presidents do. I doubt if there’s a person in the entire world whom Trump could not have killed, if he wanted. And surely Trump had ample motive to kill Epstein.

Let’s not forget this telling quote from Trump, given during a New York magazine interview back in 2002: Epstein “likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side.” That’s what he said: I didn’t make it up, Democrats didn’t invent it, it’s what the serial pussy-grabber said. His remarkable understatement that both he and his good friend Epstein like their women “on the younger side” can have only one meaning: both predators enjoyed girls under the legal age of consent. In this age of #MeToo this is a shocking admission. There may or may not exist objective proof that Epstein supplied Trump with girls “on the younger side,” but clearly, had Epstein lived, he would have been in a position to so testify.

But Epstein did not live. His life ended abruptly. Cui bono, the law asks in Latin: Who benefits from Epstein’s death? Obviously his co-conspirators do. We don’t know whom they are, yet. But there’s plenty of smoke emerging from the crime scene, and anyone who doesn’t, at the very least, entertain the possibility that Trump had illegal sex with girls “on the younger side” supplied to him by Epstein, and then ordered Epstein eliminated, is living in a fool’s paradise.


Oakland’s housing woes: a classic bind

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Monday’s report, in the San Francisco Chronicle, that the city of Oakland has surpassed San Francisco in new apartment construction came as no surprise to those of us who, like me, live at the epicenter of the new development, in the so-called “Broadway-Valdez Corridor.”

In the last two years or so, Oakland, with less than half the population of San Francisco, has built, or is building, more than twice as many apartments (both rental and condos). That’s never happened before; the Chronicle’s reporters attribute it to Oakland’s laxer development costs (including the price of land) and lower taxes, contrasted with San Francisco’s very high taxes and fees on construction and a super-cumbersome approval process that can stall projects for years.

But there’s more to it than that. Geographically, Oakland sits at the bullseye center of the Bay Area. Surrounded by major freeways, with BART running right through the heart of the city, Oakland is a perfect place for young Millennials who work here, or in San Francisco, or in Silicon Valley, or out in the Tri-Valley area: together, those regions account for close to 100% of all the new tech and tech-related jobs. While it’s true that new office construction in Oakland is just a tiny fraction of what it is in San Francisco, it almost doesn’t matter; with the buses, subway, car pools and driving amenities like Uber and Lyft, younger workers don’t have to live close to their jobs.

As a result of the new influx, Oakland’s profile is changing, fast. When I moved here, in 1987, Oakland was a rather sleepy city. It always played second fiddle to San Francisco. There wasn’t a lot going on. My neighborhood—the Broadway-Valdez Corridor—was considered part of downtown Oakland. It consisted of older apartment housing stock (most of it dating back to the 1960s and 1970s), with a few fine, old single-family houses, many of them by such renowned designers as Bernard Maybeck and Julia Morgan, in various states of disrepair. Broadway itself, which from the 1920s through the 1960s was a lively stretch of department stores and office buildings, had begun slowing down. The 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake finalized that process: downtown Oakland was heavily hit, and building after building shut down. The department stores closed; the retail shops became nail parlors, second-hand clothing stores, dive bars.

All that began to change when Jerry Brown became Mayor. His two terms (1999-2007) saw a concerted outreach to developers. Up sprouted Oakand’s first condo and rental developments in decades. By the early 2000s, real estate interests redubbed my neighborhood “Uptown,” to distinguish it from “Downtown” and to make it sound hipper. The process continued under all subsequent Mayors, up to and including our present one, Libby Schaaf.

With the new housing came increasingly fierce criticism from affordable housing advocates, who pointed out, correctly, that the new apartments and condos were too expensive for lower-paid workers to afford. This criticism was entirely true. The newest apartments, some of which haven’t yet come online, average more than $3,000 a month for a small one-bedroom unit, while condos can cost upwards of $750,000. This is part of Oakland’s changing demographic. The city benefited from San Francisco’s own housing crisis in the 1990s, which forced out thousands of artists, musicians, dancers, writers and entrepreneurs; many of them found their way across the Bay Bridge to Oakland. Now, those artists and musicians are being forced out yet again.

Where do they go? North, South or East, inland, to places like Redding, or Tracy, or Sacramento—or they leave the Bay Area altogether. This is probably the toughest challenge Oakland faces: the displacement of all those people. African-Americans, too, are caught up in this vicious cycle of upward-spiraling apartment prices.

It’s very easy for affordable housing advocates to demand that the city build more units. They argue that Oakland owns lots of buildings, or acreage where existing buildings can be torn down and replaced with inexpensive apartment complexes. What they consistently fail to realize is that cities aren’t in the business of being real estate developers. They don’t have the money or expertise to do so. What cities can do is encourage private developers to come in and build; and this is what Oakland has been doing. Unfortunately, for those on limited incomes, the process isn’t happening fast enough, and the new apartments and condos, as I said, are far from affordable.

But you can’t force a developer to build something if he can’t make a profit on it, and let’s face it, affordable housing, while desirable, doesn’t turn a profit for the people who build it. This is precisely where Oakland, and so many other cities, finds itself: caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. When and how the process resolves itself, if it ever does, can’t be foreseen.


Trump’s Bitch

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I’ve said and written for years that Lindsay Graham—“Auntie Lindsay”–is gay but is afraid to come out of the closet because he represents one of the most Christian and conservative states in the country—South Carolina—where people hate homosexuals. (Note: in this post, I refer to Graham both as “he” and “she.”)

My thesis has long been that Auntie Lindsay’s bizarre defense of Trump, which seems so illogical on the surface, can be explained psychologically. Because Auntie Lindsay is ashamed and frightened by her own queerness, she is “identifying with the aggressor.” This is a well-known defense mechanism, explored by Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalyst daughter Anna. It describes a mechanism by which people who are ashamed of what they are (such as Auntie Lindsay) develop “psychological strategies that are unconsciously used to protect a person from anxiety arising from unacceptable thoughts or feelings.”

According to the theory, Graham represses his awareness of his own sexual orientation, a defense that is unsuccessful since it is based on untruth. This heightens Graham’s sense of anxiety: not only is he “evil” by virtue of being gay, his response to the outer world is twisted and distorted. This creates extreme unrest in Auntie Lindsay; she cannot be comfortable in her own skin, and so she seeks to take shelter in the presence of someone else—someone strong, who projects the image of that which Auntie Lindsay cannot be: straight. In Auntie Lindsay’s case, this strong, straight presence is Donald Trump. Graham not only “identifies” with him, but draws sustenance from the fact that straight men such as trump are the historic aggressors of gay men. By identifying with trump, Graham “borrows” some of his strength; and because trump himself is homophobic, Graham is able to convince himself that by protecting trump, he is in fact protecting himself. It’s all very strange, but there it is: and it explains why Graham goes out of her way to excuse trump’s racism, lies and bullying. 

Recently, the Broadway actress, Patti Lupone, found herself in trouble on social media for a tweet in which she said: “Lindsey Graham you are a disgrace. On a personal note, why don’t you just bite the bullet and come out. You might just come to your senses.”

The rightwing criticisms on Twitter followed fast. Some accused Lupone of having a “double standard…Imagine a conservative tweeting this at Anderson Cooper. It would be national news.” (Never mind that (a) Anderson Cooper came out of the closet voluntarily years ago, and (b) Lupone wasn’t criticizing Graham for being gay, but for lying about it.) Other Graham/Trump supporters called Lupone “a snowflake,” screamed “YOU are the disgrace,” and insisted, “We love Senator Graham! And his lifestyle is nobody’s business. Focus on helping all the loons on the left. That’ll keep you busy to infinity.”

Others defended Lupone. “Everyone knows that Lindsey Graham is gay, he even has a code name on Capitol Hill. I have no beef with that. What I do have a problem with, is his bad policies that hurt Americans. DRAG HIM PATTI! DRAG HIM!”

It’s fine for Auntie Lindsay’s supporters to “love” him even though he’s gay. I have no problem with that. What I, and many others, have a problem with is Graham’s homophobia (as exemplified in his anti-gay stance, including being against gay marriage), and his support of, and connections with, the most extreme homophobes of the so-called “Christian” right. Poor Auntie Lindsay suffers from a mental imbalance that he doesn’t even know he has. Most people with the self-loathing of Lindsay Graham would seek out psychotherapy (if they could afford it, and Graham can), in order to heal themselves and be better human beings. But in order to seek help, you have to be aware that you have a problem—and Auntie Lindsay apparently isn’t.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that the biggest problem with trump isn’t his policies (as cruel and stupid as they are). It’s the content of his character: trump suffers from numerous mental illnesses, ranging from narcissism and megalomania to a sociopathic personality that is unable to empathize with human suffering; there’s also, to judge from his behavior, a streak of sadism. It’s a huge problem for America (and for the world) when the President of the United States is mentally ill. Other mentally ill people gravitate to trump because he helps them feel better. They’re not the losers they think they are: how can they be, when the most powerful, successful man in the world is just as sick as they are? This is why the El Paso shooter revered trump. It’s why Auntie Lindsay reveres trump. Graham has been called “trump’s greatest supporter in the Senate.” I call her something else: trump’s Bitch.


he massacres are trump’s fault, and everybody knows it

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No, he didn’t pull the trigger. He just gave permission to the guy who did.

Look: For decades it’s been the lie of NRA-obsessed republicans that “guns don’t kill people, people do.” Because no gun ever pulled its own trigger, republicans thought they could fool people into being against gun-control laws.

And you know what? The argument worked, despite its patent absurdity. That’s why we have so few national laws limiting gun and ammunition use, which in turn is why we have so many mass murders. The NRA and its republican bootlickers hornswaggled the American people, particularly the lower-educated gun freaks who vote republican.

A similar argument was made by Nazi defendants at the Nuremberg Trials. Senior military commanders and top members of Hitler’s government claimed they couldn’t possibly be held responsible for the Deaths because they never personally killed anyone. The Generals didn’t personally load Jews into the gas chambers. The top political leaders didn’t personally strip the bodies of gold teeth and jewelry and then stuff them into the ovens. So how could they be accused or convicted of mass murder?

Of course, that’s not how the Tribunal’s judges saw things. They did convict the Generals and politicians of crimes against humanity and other war crimes, and they did hang dozens of them. A handful escaped the hangman’s noose by committing suicide, but otherwise, History has recorded that the Third Reich received its just desserts on the gallows.

So much for the republican argument! trump and virtually all of the rest of the republican cult actually seem to think they’re getting away with this stuff. They think that all they have to do is call for better mental health treatment (whatever the hell that means), and people won’t blame them for the massacres. They have the chutzpah (or self-delusion) to believe that they can peddle this crap to a public that’s credulous enough to buy it.

Well, maybe they can to the 30% who are so stupid they still think trump had the biggest inaugural crowd in history. As for the rest of us, fugeddaboutit. That’s the lesson of Nuremberg. In order to be guilty, you don’t just have to be the maniac that pulled the trigger. You’re equally guilty if you incited the violence, if you aided and abetted it through your words and deeds, if you gave dog whistles to the murderers and wink-wink-nod-nod “apologies” you didn’t really mean, and if you support propaganda outlets, like fox “news,” that peddle race hatred 24/7. If you do these things, you’re guilty. And you deserve the same penalty as those who pulled the triggers.

America is going to have Nuremberg-style trials for republicans. I imagine they’ll be held in Washington, D.C., perhaps in the U.S. Supreme Court building. A list of those who will be indicted and tried begins, obviously, with Donald J. Trump, but it will include his senior political allies: Stephen Miller, Mitch McConnell, Devin Nunes, Kevin McCarthy, Kellyanne Conway, Michael Pence, Clarence Thomas and dozens of others. It also will include trump’s military leadership: Joseph Dunford and Patrick Shanahan, for starters. And lest we forget that at Nuremberg the Justices also convicted Hitler’s chief propagandists, so too will the Washington trials charge Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Tucker Carlson and the rest of the white nationalists in the media with inciting and being accessories to mass murder. They, too, along with their cohorts, will face the choice of being executed or facing long imprisonment, or of committing suicide.

Sound harsh? Yes. Harsh times call for harsh words. But we are in harsh times, brought on by decades of a republican party stoking hatred, resentment and violence, and now led by the worst president ever, an unstable narcissist and pathological liar interested only in sexual gratification, power and money. The tea party—incorrigible deplorables—started this. We Democrats will settle it, starting right now.


The massacres are trump’s fault, and everybody knows it!

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Amy Klobuchar, the Democratic Senator from Minnesota who’s running for president, was asked on Saturday if she blames Trump for the El Paso Massacre. She responded no, she blames his rhetoric, not him.

What the hell does that mean? It’s like saying you don’t blame Hitler for the Holocaust, but you blame Mein Kampf.

You can’t separate the speaker from the speech!!!

These mass murders are on trump. He inspires the killers. He gives them the dog whistles their psychotic ears long to hear. He won’t denounce white nationalism because he IS a white nationalist.

Republicans have really painted themselves into a corner. They’ve based their entire political appeal on neo-nazis, white thugs and losers who hate people of color. Now they’ve opened a Pandora’s Box of murder, violence and mayhem. The pressure is on Republicans—rightfully—to do something, anything: condemn white nationalism. Pass stricter gun control laws, such as universal background checks. Increase FBI and Homeland Security funding to go after the young white males who are committing this domestic terrorism.

But Republicans can’t do it. They’d have to go after their own base. If they did, that base would turn against them. Rush Limbaugh—another racist—would scream bloody murder if trump even suggested support for tighter gun restrictions. Hannity would blow his mind if trump called white nationalists (like Hannity) “evil” and vowed to stop them. The failing N.R.A. would rise up in righteous indignation. So it’s not going to happen.

Instead, trump will tweet meaningless platitudes about hearts and minds. He’ll claim to be against all murders. And he’ll continue to insist that the real threat to our safety is brown-skinned rapists and murderers flooding across the southern border.

Lies. But the ignorant trailer trash who constitute his base will believe anything he says. In between burping their Pabst Blue Ribbon and laundering their white sheets for the next Klan rally, they’ll reassure each other that trump is a good ole boy, on their side, a fighter who wants to keep America white and Christian. They’ll see right through Trump’s winking-and-nodding which lets them off the hook. And more of them will burst into another Wal-Mart someplace and mow down a few dozen more innocent people.

We’ve all been waiting for the tipping point for close to three years. There have been many false reports that, finally, trump has gone too far.  Could this be the true tipping point? I waited all day Sunday for any senior Republicans to come out against trump’s hate mongering. Don’t mince words—just come out and say it, because everybody knows it’s true: these mass murders are on trump.

But I waited in vain. Sunday was the day Republicans should have spoken up. They didn’t. To the extent they said anything at all, it was along the lines of the absurdity of Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who said the problem is—not the epidemic of guns, not white nationalism, not trump stirring up hatred and inspiring mass murderers—but mental health! On Breitbart, they didn’t even report on El Paso, beyond citing an early report before they quashed the news. No update. No criticism. No mourning. Instead, more crap about AOC, about The Squad, about Hillary. Breitbart’s neo-nazi editors scoured the Internet to find a single instance of a Latino who murdered someone. Twenty dead in El Paso, nine slaughtered in Dayton, and not a word of condemnation from the racists at Breitbart, just more stoking up fear about brown-skinned people.

Trump, under tremendous pressure, took to the airwaves this morning. But what did he say? What could he say? He knows he’s guilty. He knows he can’t talk his way out of this. Crocodile tears! This loathsome creature was like some insect, caught in the light, while a foot is about the come down on it. “We vow to act,” the liar-in-chief said; but he offered nothing except “thoughts and prayers.” As for his fellow Republicans, they were crawling all around the media, expressing outrage—but not condemning white nationalism or calling for even a modicum of new gun control laws. There was only one thing trump could have said that would have contained the slightest hint of authenticity: “I apologize for my incendiary language, which I recognize is fueling white nationalism and these atrocious massacres.” But of course, he can’t say that—because he doesn’t even feel it. He remains under the thrall of the failing N.R.A. Hearing him talk about “love” and invoking “God” was nauseating.

Well, that’s trump. That’s trumpland. That’s trump voters. The sooner America is rid of this contagion, the better.


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