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How deep have neo-nazi groups infiltrated the U.S. military and law enforcement?

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Frontline, the pioneering PBS documentary series, recently aired an episode, New American Nazis, that shows in terrifying detail how white supremacist-fascist-neo-nazis are attempting to infiltrate the U.S. military and domestic law enforcement agencies.

If you have read about the rise of the Nazis in Germany in the 1920s and early 1930s, you know the same thing happened: violent, angry young men who joined militias in order to learn weaponry skills they intended to utilize to undermine the legitimate State, install their own authoritarian Fuhrer, and impose their racist-nationalist views on Germany—a plot at which they succeeded.

As the Frontline story shows, these white nationalist groups are active in small cells across America. There is not a single, over-arching person or organization running them (unless you see Trump in that position, a unreasonable conclusion). There are hundreds of hate groups; the Southern Poverty Law Center currently tracks 953 of them, of which one of the most dangerous and clandestine is the so-called QAnon, whose posts at message boards, wildly popular with [the] far right, sprout [a] huge web of fantastic theories about Trump, an imminent ‘Deep State countercoup,’ and arrests aimed at liberals’ supposed ‘pedophilia ring.’”

 The origins of QAnon are obscure. NBC describes its main objective as “leak[ing] intelligence about Trump’s top-secret war with a cabal of criminals run by politicians like Hillary Clinton and the Hollywood elite.” With no known structure or leadership, QAnon brings to mind the 1999 Brad Pitt-Edward Norton movie, Fight Club, a similarly loosely connected, underground organization whose anarchist members recognized each other through their bandaged wounds and oblique references to the group’s [semi-fictional] leader, Tyler Durden.

QAnon, for all its anonymity, has its own Twitter hashtag, #QAnon. Among other tweets are one showing that Fox News’ propagandist and Trump supporter Sean Hannity reported that “at least 6 #DeepState spies made entrees to key figures in the Trump org/campaign…in an attempt to set up candidate/President Trump with a concocted Russia narrative,” a “concoction” that now is being shown by Robert Mueller as being entirely too true.

Another, from SassyTallBlonde, states “Mueller will face charges re: U1,” a reference to an insane, discredited theory linking the Special Counsel to a secret uranium-smuggling deal; U1 also has its own hashtag, and a reading of its tweets shows how extreme these rightwing neo-nazis are: Mueller delivered the sample for uranium one [U1]…the dirty old bastard should be marched up the 13 steps to the rope.”

QAnon members also have a way of recognizing each other: by wearing or displaying various forms of the capital letter Q. Here, for example, is a sergeant in the Broward County (Florida) Sheriff’s Department, name of Matt Patten (on the left), wearing just such a Q, situated chest-level on his full combat uniform.

That elderly, white-haired gentleman in the blue suit in front of Patten, to whom Patten is giving a broad, toothy smile, is none other than the Vice President of the United States, Mike Pence.

How did we get this startling photograph? From the Vice President himself, who tweeted it on Nov. 30. The picture didn’t last long; the Washington Post reported later that same day that Pence deleted it.

How does a sergeant in the Sheriff’s Department of a major American county get to wear a white supremacist/conspiratorialist symbol in uniform while performing the official functions of his job—and at the same time greeting the sitting Vice President of the United States? Did Pence know about the symbol? Did Patten’s superiors know? Did they authorize it? Do they share the same rightwing, neo-nazi views as Patten? Will Patten be disciplined or fired (as I think he should be)? The Washington Post asked the Broward County Sheriff’s Department and Pence’s office these questions, but was blown off. I too would like to get in touch with Sheriff Scott Israel; his office apparently is not emailable, but here’s a general information phone number, if you want to call them yourself: 954-765-4321.

We really need to get to the bottom of the facts. Is there a plot by professional militarists for an armed, rightwing insurrection in America? Let the Congress hold investigations, particularly now that the Trumpist cabal has been overturned in the House of Representatives. These neo-nazis may be small in number, but the opposite may be true: they may be metastasizing. It’s good that the public is becoming increasingly aware of them through the efforts of such civil rights groups as the Southern Poverty Law Center and brave investigative reporting by civics-minded journalists. But we need to thoroughly understand this phenomenon, if we are to prevent it from overtaking us.

 


A tale of a city

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In California’s Sacramento Valley, the northern part of the great Central Valley, lies the little city of Dixon, in Solano County. With a population of just under 20,000, Dixon in many respects is a typical agricultural community, although its relative proximity to San Francisco, 62 miles away, makes it increasingly an exurban home for workers willing to brave a grueling daily round trip on the freeways.

Ted Hickman, 75, is a local Dixon politician, a Republican, who’s been in and out of office since 1968. Since 2014, he’s been on the City Council, and most recently was the city’s vice mayor. He publishes an opinion column, “That’s Life,” on his personal website as well as in Dixon’s local paper, Independent Voice.

This past summer, Hickman posted a column he headlined “Don’t Forget July 1, 2018 Starts SPAM…SPAM…Straight Pride American Month,” which was a celebration of, and call to, the most blatant homophobia. Among its other nuggets:

“[I] support the rights of grown men to wear skin tight short-shorts and go-go boots and don tinker bells…and prance down the streets of San Francisco.”

 “Now before anyone gets their pantyhose in a knot, this is not really legally anti anything; instead, it’s pro-family, and proud to be a straight American.”

 “We honor our country and our veterans who have made all of this possible (including for the tinker bells) and we can do it with actual real pride, not some put on show just to help our inferior complex ‘show we are different’ type of (crap).”

 “We ARE different from them … We work, have families (and babies we make) enjoy and love the company (and marriage) of the opposite sex and don’t flaunt our differences dressing up like faries (sic) and prancing by the thousands in a parade in nearby San Francisco to be televised all over the world…”

There was a lot more along those lines, including this reference to Peter Pan:

So, right now, if you don’t want any faries (sic) to expire, you can clap your hands. See, I do have a heart, I just can’t type and clap at the same time… so I had to make a hard choice didn’t I?”

In many small cities and towns across rural America, a local politician might have gotten away with this stuff. But Dixon—perhaps due to the arrival of the new workers, who lean liberal or at least libertarian—wasn’t buying it. Intense reaction quickly set in against Hickman. Letters to the editor mounted in opposition:

“Ted’s opinion is absolutely allowed for in this free country, but his use of his title of vice mayor in such an obvious homophobic tirade is nothing short of disgusting,” wrote a woman, in comments that were repeated many times. Residents began putting up yard signs: “We stand with our LGBT neighbors.” Within days, a “Recall Ted Hickman” page went up on Facebook.

Hickman got some support from the usual crowd, Christian “pro-family” individuals and groups, such as “Save California,” which describes itself as a “campaign for children and families.” A rightwing local politician, Dan Grudmann (whose website “Fight the Power” features a photo of Caitlyn Jenner with the caption, “They will start recruiting your child in kindergarten”), told the City Council, “When you break down the family unit, you’re hurting the children and it’s only a matter of time before you produce psychotic broken children, which is the whole idea of the so-called LGBT movement.”

The homophobic right did its best, but to no avail. In the Nov. 6 election, “Dixon voters give antigay councilman the heave-ho,” headlined the San Francisco Chronicle. Hickman got just 27% of the vote in his bid for re-election. (Grudmann, too, lost his bid for the U.S. Senate as an independent candidate.)

The shameful Hickman episode gave Dixon a black eye; a Planning Commissioner was quoted in the Chronicle article as saying, “A lot of people felt Dixon was being mischaracterized.” But with the election now more than three weeks in the past, “Dixon is recovering from a gay-bashing controversy,” writes a reporter for (of all places) the local Fox News affiliate. She quoted a woman who was one of the creators of the anti-Hickman Facebook page: Dixon is moving forward. Hickman’s loss proves that. It’s time for Dixon to unite and rebuild the wonderful sense of community that makes us love the town.”

It’s too much to hope that the millions of homophobic people, most of whom call themselves “Christian,” will learn any lessons from Dixon’s experience. Obviously, LGBTQ rights are now firmly established in the United States of America. Obviously, LGBTQ people are not going back into the closet. Obviously, even most Republicans who identify as “conservative” have accepted that LGBTQ rights are supported by the majority of Americans of all political stripes, and that gay-bashing is not the way to win elections.

Still, we’re going to have losers like Hickman and Grudmann around for a long time. They can’t be silenced. But, thanks to good and decent people like the voters of Dixon, they can be marginalized to the point where they’re just pissing on themselves in the wind.


New Wine Reviews: a California Zinfandel, and a mixed bag from Michigan

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Every once in a while, I still get some wine to review, even though I retired three years ago. The latest batch includes a very good Zinfandel from Sonoma County, and eight wines from the Great Lakes State, Michigan.

Beekeeper 2016 Montecillo Vineyard (Sonoma County); $65. This is one of those big, galumphing, blood-warming Zins that brings thoughts of summertime barbecued ribs or wintertime hearty stews. The grapes got really, really ripe, soaking up the sun in their vineyard, 1,500 feet above Sonoma Valley. First the flavors hit cherries—then they soar into blackberries—and then finally burst onto the raisins and black currants that high alcohol so often inspires in Sonoma Zin. (The official reading is 14.5%, but I suspect it’s higher.) The tannins are considerable, but they’re Zinny tannins, furry and slightly bitter, like the skins of mulberries. The wine spent 15 months in 25% new oak barrels, but there’s nothing oaky about it, just an aura of vanilla and caramel, although the wood also lends tannins. Wonderful acidity, thorough dryness, a very nice, deliciously voluptuous Zinfandel, although it is on the pricy side. Score: 92.

MICHIGAN WINES

A recent (Nov. 6) article in the Oakland Press (in this case, Oakland, Michigan, not my hometown of Oakland, California) was headlined, “Michigan’s wine industry flourishes with powerful combination of tourism, agriculture.”

The article stressed the “tremendous growth” of Michigan’s wine industry, which contributed an aggregate $5.4 billion to the state’s coffers. The leading wine production area is perhaps Old Mission Peninsula, a cool-climate growing region of 19,200 acres, a smallish appellation equal in size to California’s Carmel Valley, and containing only nine wineries. Located on the 45th parallel, the same as Bordeaux, Piedmont and Willamette Valley, the peninsula lies in the northeast corner of Lake Michigan; winters are cold, but are tempered by the proximity of water on both sides, while summertime growing conditions are ideal: the temperature seldom rises above 80 degrees, and nights are as cool as they are in California’s wine valleys.

The trade group Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula sent me these wines for review:

Chateau Chantal 2016 Proprietor’s Reserve Trio (Old Mission Peninsula); $27. This is a Meritage-style wine, although the Merlot and Cabernet Franc have a tiny drop of Pinot Noir in there–why, I don’t know, but it doesn’t hurt. The alcohol is 13.5%. I’m giving it a good score because it shows real Bordeaux flavors and suppleness, even though it’s not particularly complex or ageable. If you’d given it to me blind, I might have guessed Italy, but certainly not Michigan! It’s fully dry, with firm but pliant tannins and a good bite of acidity. But the best sign of all is that it gets easier and nicer to drink as you drain the bottle. Not all wines can say that! The winemaker suggests drinking with “rich meat-based pastas with traditional Italian red sauce” and I totally agree. Score: 90.

2 Lads Winery 2016 Cabernet Franc (Old Mission Peninsula); $35. With 15% Merlot, this wine shows some green pea flavors alongside the cherries, blueberries and spices, in the fashion of a Loire Cab Franc. It’s fully dry (good), with nice, silky tannins and a mouthwatering bite of acidity, as well as some subtle oak. I mention the Merlot because it brings added weight and texture to the Cab Franc, which on its own can be light. The alcohol is a refreshingly low 13.3%. As tasty as the wine is, it isn’t an ager; if anything, it will go downhill fast. So drink up soon. Score: 88.

Hawthorne 2016 Rose Table Wine (Old Mission Peninsula): $12. Rosé is in many respects the hardest wine to make. It requires the delicacy of white, but with at least some of the body of red. This wine largely succeeds. It’s medium-bodied and rather darkly colored for a blush; the blend is based on Cabernet Franc, with lesser amounts of Pinot Meunier, Gamay, Merlot and Pinot Noir. No oak was used, so all you get is the fruit: raspberries and strawberries, with a tobacco spiciness. Acidity is high, although not searing. Best of all, for me, is the dryness: absolute and total, with lowish (13.2%) alcohol. All in all, a success. The winemaker recommends drinking it with chicken, salmon or game, but I think the range is far greater, because the wine is so versatile. I’d even drink it with a juicy steak. Score: 89.

Black Star Farms 2016 Arcturos Sauvignon Blanc (Leelanau Peninsula); $18. I have definite expectations of what I want a Sauvignon Blanc to be: dry, crisp and elegant (as in Sancerre), with a citrus and tropical fruit taste and, sometimes (as in Marlborough) a tang of green gooseberry. It should never be sweet, as too many California Sauv Blancs were in the 1990s. This bottle satisfies on many levels—not all. It is indeed dry and crisp, and there is a tanginess, even a spritziness, that refreshes the palate. I’m not sure if there’s any oak; sadly, the tech notes don’t say (which they should). If there is, it’s subtle. There is a bit of heaviness that’s hard to define, except that the wine lacks that delicate finesse a light white wine needs. I’ll rate it at 87 points and say that it’s a pretty good buy for a wine to drink with a firm, full-flavored fish, such as halibut. The Leelanau Peninsula, like Old Mission Peninsula, sits at the 45-degree latitude near Lake Michigan, and is thus cool.

Chateau Grand Traverse 2017 Dry Riesling (Old Mission Peninsula); $13. A lovely white wine, light and delicate, perfect for summertime fare, or now that we’re headed into cold weather, light lunches or starters like smoked trout, scrambled eggs, a leafy salad of greens and citrus fruits. As the label states, it’s mostly dry, yet there’s plenty of rich, ripe green apple and peach fruit, white flowers and Riesling’s slight hint of petrol, with honey showing up on the finish. Refreshing acidity provides a grapefruit tang; almost effervescent, but not really, just mouth-awakening. The alcohol is only 12%. At this price, I’d buy it by the case. Score: 90.

Mari Vineyards 2017 Gamay Noir (Old Mission Peninsula): $26. I think of the Gamay Noir grape as midway between the light, refreshing fruitiness of the Gamay varietal, which is what French Beaujolais is made from, and the more serious Pinot Noir. This is a light-bodied wine, silky and smooth, with pronounced acidity and flavors of sour cherry, cranberry, cola, orange zest and sandalwood. It’s bone dry, and the alcohol is a mere 13%. Not particularly complex or sophisticated, but pleasant enough. I’d call it gulpable: drink up and don’t overthink. Score: 87.

Brys Estate 2016 Reserve Pinot Noir (Old Mission Peninsula); $32. California and Oregon have nothing to fear from Michigan in the Pinot Noir department, to judge by this wine. It’s okay in its dryness and zesty acidity, as well as the gentle tannins and silkiness you expect from Pinot. But there’s very little substance. Some cherry-berry fruit, a sprinkle of white pepper and cinnamon, a touch of oak. But the complexity Pinot Noir needs to go beyond being a drinkable little wine to a truly fine one just isn’t there. Score: 86.

Bowers Harbor Vineyard 2017 Unoaked Chardonnay (Michigan); $16. I’ve tasted a ton of unoaked Chardonnays from many countries but I have to say this is not one of the better ones. Chardonnay doesn’t need oak to succeed, but it does have to be ripe and opulent. This wine is neither. It’s watery and bland, and moreover has some unpleasant green notes, like bell pepper. Score: 81.

 


Live from the White House, it’s Trump TV!

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As he previously announced, President Trump has created his own T.V. network, because the Fox News Network is not conservative enough for his tastes. Programming begins tomorrow. This blog, steveheimoff.com, was given a secret advance copy of the schedule. Here it is:

PROGRAM SCHEDULE, TRUMP T.V. NETWORK

4 a.m. Tweet With POTUS. Early-birds will enjoy these before-dawn sessions of a sometimes-drugged President Trump practicing his favorite activity. If you’re lucky, he’ll have a Tweetstorm!

6 a.m. Donald & Friends First. Start your morning with handy wake-up tips from POTUS. See Pres. Trump make English muffins slathered in ketchup and M&Ms with his own hands! Watch as he stretches his ankles!

7 a.m. Donald & Friends. President Trump, Stephen Miller, Kellyanne Conway, Kimberly Guilfoyle, Devin Nunes. A lively hour of news and talk, from the Beltway’s favorite in-crowd. Fair and balanced!

8 a.m. Catch An Immigrant! A fun romp on the southern border! Watch President Trump’s favorite ICE agents hunt down and arrest brown-skinned criminals trying to sneak into America! Kids will love this adventure show.

9 a.m. Mornings With Melania. The gracious, beautiful First Lady of the Land now has her own talk show! Table-setting hints, flower arranging, fashion tips, and special guest stars. Today’s guest is the actor James Woods, talking about the movies he’ll never get to make because everybody in Hollywood hates him.

11 a.m. The Jared and Junior Show. Yes, it’s America’s favorite “bros!” Watch as they perform skits, musicals and jokes. See Jared juggle spoons! Watch Don Jr. tap dance in blackface! You never know when Eric or Barron might show up.

12 p.m. Trump T.V. Noon News. Sarah Huckabee Sanders presents all the latest breaking stories about Hillary Clinton’s emails.

1 p.m. Pray With Pence. America’s holiest-ever Veep reads selected passages from the New Testament and leads our nation in prayer.

2 p.m. The Three. Early-afternoon analysis and opinion from the always-lively trio of Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and Alex Jones.

3 p.m. Trump T.V. Minority Report. Roundtable discussion featuring a rotating cast of Negroes, Mexicans, Homosexuals, Women, Cripples and Muslims. Not suitable for children.

4 p.m. Kill Hillary! Game show hosted by the National Rifle Association’s Oliver North. Contestants shoot loaded AR-15s at a giant face of Hillary. The winner gets to meet President Trump!

5 p.m. Trump T.V. Documentary. Hosted by noted historian Stephen Bannon, this features stories about the world’s strongest leaders and why they matter: Adolf Hitler, Idi Amin, Attila the Hun, Pol Pot.

6 p.m. The Six O’Clock News With President Trump. Our beloved POTUS sums up the day’s events with his usual fair and balanced analysis. Viewers will love the daily “Lock Hillary Up!” feature.

7 p.m. Dinner With President Trump. You never know what the Eater-In-Chief is going to be having. Chicken McNuggets, Double Western Bacon Cheeseburgers, French Fries—if it’s greasy and loaded with fat, our POTUS will love it!

8 p.m. Those Funny Trumps! Family sit-com starring the whole gang: Donald, Don Jr., Eric, Ivanka, Melania and Barron. Zany skits, pranks, gags. Your funny bone is guaranteed to break!

9 p.m. Dial M For Mueller. Com-Dram. Follow the mis-adventures of the inept FBI operative, Matt Mueller, as he stumbles his way through botched investigations. The dumbest cop since Toody and Muldoon! Starring James Woods as the hapless Mueller.

10 p.m. Home Shopping With Ivanka! Ladies will love the First Daughter’s shopping show. Discounts on Ivanka’s designer shoes, purses, gowns. Ivanka hosts, with co-host Gen. Kelly.

11 p.m. Signoff with Mitch McConnell. The Majority Leader ends our programming day with more prayers and a Special Salute to the Commander-in-Chief. Singing of the Star Spangled Banner by Roseanne Barr.

 


Sending a message to Manafort

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In a famous scene from The Godfather Part II, Frankie Pentangeli, who had worked as a lieutenant for the Corleone family, is set to testify to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Michael Corleone’s criminal activities. The prosecution had “flipped” Pantangeli in exchange for a lighter sentence, but Michael Corleone had secretly arranged for Frankie’s brother, Vincenzo, to be flown in from Sicily. Vincenzo, old, afraid and a non-speaker of English, was totally confused as he entered the Senate hearing room, but Frankie understood what was happening: If he proceeded with his planned testimony, his brother’s life would be measured in days.

Frankie thus made a complete turnaround from what the prosecution had expected. I never know no Godfather,” he told the shocked Senate Committee. “I made up a lot of stuff about Michael Corleone ’cause that’s what they wanted. But it was all lies. Uh, everything. And I kept saying Michael Corleone did this and Michael Corleone did that. So, I said yeah sure — why not?”

That’s how a flip gets unflipped: Apply pressure so great that the witness is willing to serve a long prison time, in order to protect something nearer and dearer to him than his freedom.

We have now the modern-day Frankie Pantangeli in the form of Paul Manafort, the flipper who has unflipped. He was supposed to be cooperating with the Mueller investigation, but instead—out of the blue—Manafort has changed his mind. As a result, he will probably spend the rest of his life in jail. Why did Manafort flip?

We can’t know for sure, obviously, nor do we know if this is the end of the story. Maybe, confronted with the distinct possibility of a very long sentence, Manafort will rediscover the wonders of cooperation. But we do have to wonder why he unflipped in the first place.

Here’s one thing we do know: Manafort agreed to cooperate with Mueller “to make sure his family remained safe and live[d] a good life,” according to his lawyer. That family includes his wife, Kathleen, and daughters Jessica and Andrea. They had grown accustomed to a rich lifestyle, living in “Georgetown mansions,” wearing “custom” clothes, and driving “lavish cars.” When they wanted out of Washington, they had their choice of “homes up and down the East Coast.”

Manafort wouldn’t be the first to sacrifice himself for his family. But what threat did he perceive coming at them? No evidence has yet emerged to suggest he did. But so strange has been Manafort’s self-destructive behavior (why would a 69-year old man voluntarily increase the length of his prison sentence?) that we can surmise certain possibilities.

He’s being held at a Virginia jail under a “VIP” designation, “the only inmate…with that housing unit description,” which probably means he’s in solitary confinement. But that doesn’t mean he has no contact with anyone else. There are guards, of course, and medical personnel, and Manafort must run into other inmates here and there. Anyone might have had time to whisper into his ear.

“Paulie, I got word from the outside. Your wife is worried about the kids.” In the atmosphere of threats and paranoia in which Manafort now exists, it would not take too many words to convey a simple but frightening message to Manafort: The lives of your family are in danger. Or maybe somebody got to Kathleen. “Mrs. Manafort? Nice to meet you. A word to the wise: tell your husband not to cooperate, or you and your daughters might have some trouble.”

Getting a message to Manafort, in other words, would pose no difficulty. But who would send such a threat? Common sense suggests two sources that, ultimately, merge into one: Russians connected to Putin, and Trump himself. Can anyone doubt that Putin has ordered the assassination of inconvenient people throughout his career? For that matter, Trump is clearly a man who, operating at the fringes of legality, may well have had people bumped off in order to keep his criminal activities secret. Were Manafort truly to rescind his cooperation would be a gift to both Putin and to Trump. Both men have an enormous self-interest in shutting Manafort up. Both are capable, both emotionally and logistically, of killing anyone who threatens them, even if the threat is entirely indirect and involuntary.

This is still a developing story, but it would not surprise me to learn, someday, that someone “got” to Manafort and scared the bejesus out of him by implying the strong possibility that his family would suffer if he went ahead with his cooperation agreement. He is Frankie Pantangeli. Kathleen, Jessica and Andrea (or perhaps their children) are Vincenzo Pantangeli. And so we have a flipper unflipping. It’s the stuff of movies.


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.


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