Category Archives: Bigotry

What Do You Say, Dean Baquet?

The tweet below is the first thing I saw this morning. It was shared by Picvocate columnist Stephanie Grace and she found the whole thing as baffling as I did:

Here’s the deal: Edwin Edwards was a corrupt pol whose greed brought him down. But his “inflammatory comments” were nothing like those of the Insult Comedian. The one above is self-deprecating: does anyone recall Donald Trump ever mocking himself? That’s because the joke is *always* at the expense of someone he’s out to attack and smear. And he usually kicks down, not up.

One of the harshest things Edwin Edwards ever said about an opponent was in 1983: “Dave Treen is so slow that it takes him an hour and a half to watch Sixty Minutes.”

That’s a far cry from calling people crooked, traitors, and the other stuff that comes out of Trump’s big fat bazoo and pops up on his twitter feed. That’s why I call him the Insult Comedian.

Edwin Edwards was the first Gret Stet Governor to treat black folks as full citizens. They were his electoral base, not red-hatted racists. In fact, Trump is more like the man Edwards defeated in 1991: David Duke.

Perhaps Dean Baquet has been away from Louisiana so long that he “misremembered” the nature of Fast Eddie’s outrageousness. I suggest that he read John Maginnis’ brilliant account of the Edwards-Duke race from hell: Cross To Bear. Hell, Baquet should talk to fellow Gret Stet native and Timesman Charles Blow. He gets it.

Donald Trump is a boorish crooked racist. Edwin Edwards is a charming crook but not a racist.

Dean Baquet should be ashamed of this lame excuse for his paper’s disgusting headline about Trump’s perfunctory white supremacy speech. Baquet can and should do better.

Deadbeat Asshole In El Paso

The Insult Comedian loves being an uninvited guest in places where he’s not wanted. What’s reality teevee without conflict? Boring, that’s what. The people of El Paso will be extras on Trump’s whirlwind “message I care” tour. He does not: he’s all hat and no cattle.

Team Trump has stuck the citizens of El Paso with a bill of over $500K for security costs associated with one of his hate fest rallies a mere six months ago. The president* should have  had the decency to pay up but his entire life is a string of unpaid bills and broken promises. Why should he do the decent thing now? He’s never done it before. He’s all hat and no cattle.

Teleprompter Trump’s muted critique of racism and white supremacy endured almost a whole day but, predictably, Twitter Trump is back in the saddle. The MSM bought into his “moderate” rhetoric because they’re desperate for him to be normal so they can resume covering politics as a horse race. He’s not normal. He’s already back to sowing the seeds of division and grievance like a one-man Festivus:

It’s scary that Donald Trump makes Frank Costanza look like a nice guy.

It’s folly for the MSM to expect the Insult Comedian to be the consoler-in-chief when he’s really the despoiler-in-chief.

Repeat after me: Donald Trump is all hat and no cattle.

Still Numb

It’s been awhile since I wrote about an American mass shooting. The reason is genuinely horrible: they’ve become so commonplace that we’re *almost* getting used to them. That’s an appalling place to find ourselves in, but that’s how things stand in the summer of 2019.

The El Paso shooting is particularly horrific: the shooter went to that Walmart because so many people cross the border to shop there. It’s what happens when Mexicans are demonized by a sitting president* for his short-term political advantage. As always, the GOP is offering thoughts and prayers without informing the public what will happen when they stop thinking and praying. We all know the answer to that: nada, bupkis, nothing.

It’s not just the ascendancy of white nationalism that’s causing this. It enjoyed a comeback in after Bill Clinton’s election victory in 1992 as well: Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh was a white nationalist. The difference is that 1994 saw the last piece of major gun control legislation passed: the assault weapons ban, which was allowed the expire during the Beavis-Duce administration,

We keep hoping that there will be an inflection point in the ongoing gun violence crisis. This could be the beginning of one: the NRA is imploding because of internal strife and drama. It’s unclear if they will have the resources to be a major player in the 2020 election cycle.

It’s time for another full-court press to restore the assault weapons ban. It won’t pass Moscow Mitch’s Senate but it could prove to be a powerful issue in 2020.

The right is fond of talking about American exceptionalism. Is this what they have in mind?

As long as there are military-style assault weapons in the hands of civilians, I’ll keep writing the Still Comfortably Numb series:

2015: Still Confortably Numb.

2016: Still Comfortably Numb Revisited.

2017: Still Comfortably Numb Revisited.

2019: Post Mayhem Rituals.

I’m not sure how I missed 2018. I must have been numb. I still am.

Update: I did write a mass shooting post in 2018. It was one of my better efforts: Kristallnacht In Broad Daylight.

Quote Of The Day: Baltimore Sun Edition

Donald Trump is trying to transform Charm City into Verminville. The Baltimore Sun isn’t having it. They wrote a scathing editorial, Better To Have A Few Rats Than To Be One:

Finally, while we would not sink to name-calling in the Trumpian manner — or ruefully point out that he failed to spell the congressman’s name correctly (it’s Cummings, not Cumming) — we would tell the most dishonest man to ever occupy the Oval Office, the mocker of war heroes, the gleeful grabber of women’s private parts, the serial bankrupter of businesses, the useful idiot of Vladimir Putin and the guy who insisted there are “good people” among murderous neo-Nazis that he’s still not fooling most Americans into believing he’s even slightly competent in his current post. Or that he possesses a scintilla of integrity. Better to have some vermin living in your neighborhood than to be one.

I’m not sure if I’ve ever made an editorial excerpt the QOTD but there’s a first time for everything. We’ve never had an Insult Comedian with a dead nutria pelt atop his head as president* before either.

This latest racist incident has really gotten to me. I have fond memories of the time I’ve spent in Baltimore. I have friends there and friends who are from there. It’s a great American city with a proud history and a thriving local culture. Mmm, crabcakes, hon.

Baltimore is the city of H.L. Mencken, Thurgood Marshall, Babe Ruth, Cab Calloway, Cal Ripken, Anne Tyler, Brooks Robinson, Donna Edwards, Barry Levinson, Johnny Unitas, Duff Goldman, David Simon, John Waters, W.E.B. DuBois, Boog Powell, Chick Webb, Barbara Mikulski, and Billie Holiday to name but a few.

It’s also Speaker Pelosi’s hometown and is ably represented by Elijah Cummings, not Alan Cumming although he’s pretty damn cool in his own right.

On the darker side, I nicknamed the president’s* son-in-law Slumlord Jared because of his literally vermin-infested properties in Mr. Cummings’ district. Fuck you, Jared and Donald.

Speaking of rats, Republicans are scrambling to defend the latest indefensible comments from their dear leader. Proving once again that he’s a journalist, not a FOX news hack, Chris Wallace nailed Mick Mulvaney to the wall about Trump’s racist and charmless attack on Charm City:

It’s time to follow-up on Athenae’s post yesterday with a personal note. My neighborhood was majority black when we moved here in 2000. It had some sketchy areas but I never felt unsafe or uncomfortable. In fact, I frequently lament the changes in the hood since Katrina and the Federal Flood. I find myself saying, “Where did all the unfriendly white people come from?”

Many of our African-American neighbors have been priced out  by gentrifiers and house-flippers. It’s a pity. I miss our more diverse pre-K neighborhood. Does that make me pro-vermin? According to the Insult Comedian it does.

The language used by Trump and his allies is despicable. The word “infested” was used by Nazis and Stalinists to justify their attacks on “unwanted” populations. I believe in judging political movements by the company they keep. That’s some bad company, y’all.

The last word goes to the Jayhawks who aren’t from Baltimore but recorded this song in 1989:

No Human Being

Well, it’s what they all think:

His voters, I mean. Even the nice ones. ESPECIALLY the nice ones. The ones that live in the suburbs because their parents’ neighborhoods were “ruined” by an “invasion.” Who aren’t racist, are perfectly nice to the black barista or their Mexican landscaper. Who just moved here for the schools.

They don’t think anyone lives in the places their parents left.

Not anyone with a job, or kids. Or a freaking dog. A mortgage, even on a house that isn’t fancy, even on a street that isn’t clean. A church, a school. A goddamn right to walk down the street and get a beer from the corner store.

They talk about the city — parts of it — like aliens live there and there are lots of reasons for that, nonstop reruns of Law and Order and the nightmares their grandparents passed on to them being right up there, but mostly it’s the inability to think of people of color as, you know, PEOPLE at all.

I used to work in some of Chicago’s “worst” neighborhoods. The places that give the suburbs vapors, I’d be driving around at all hours of day and night, and you know how many times I got mugged and murdered? Exactly zero. What did happen is I got invited to birthday parties. Told I needed to try this or that restaurant because the best sausage in town was made there. Helped out when my car wouldn’t start or got stuck in a snowbank.

I listened to conversations in barbershops and beauty parlors, conversations that yes, sometimes were about violence or neglect, but more often than not were about birthdays and obligations, who was bringing what to the church potluck, whose dog ran away. Who was getting married, who was cheating.

You know. People stuff.

So when the fraidy cats who live in our segregated world talk about “no-go” zones and places they don’t feel safe, when they say they wouldn’t even VISIT somewhere because they don’t think it’s okay, I wonder what on God’s green earth makes them think it’s okay for other people to live there.

And it’s really that they don’t think those people are human beings.

That’s what Donald Trump’s voters think, deep down. Underneath the euphemisms and the “property tax” stuff and the entirely avoidable ignorance and the very nice lady manners that keep them from ever saying the N-word because that would Doing Racism. They just don’t think people who don’t look like them are quite real.

It’s why they can justify the concentration camps and it’s why they can cheer the pointless foreign wars and it’s why they don’t give a shit if women in hijabs don’t feel safe going to the grocery store and it’s why they can shrug off every time he grabs someone by the pussy. People who aren’t them aren’t real.

Not human beings.

A.

Trumper Incitement Speech

Just when we thought things couldn’t get any uglier, the Insult Comedian doubled down on his egregious bigotry. He briefly stepped back from the brink after Republican blowback over his remarks about “The Squad,” but he cannot help himself and was soon back to inciting the red-hatted hordes. It’s just the latest offensive language offensive by the party of Trump.

Trump’s latest racist comments led me to me ponder two legendary Supreme Court cases. In the first case, Schenck v. United State, Oliver Wendell Holmes (surely the best name in SCOTUS history) enunciated the “clear and present danger test.” 50 years later the Supremes limited that test in the case of a Klansman named Clarence Brandenburg, not to be confused with Clarence the goofball angel in It’s A Wonderful Life. In Brandenbeurg v. Ohio case, the Court held:

… that speech advocating illegal conduct is protected under the First Amendment unless the speech is likely to incite “imminent lawless action.”

When it comes to the First Amendment, I’m down with the late Justice Hugo Black who was a free speech absolutist. BUT just because incitement speech can be legal does not make it socially or politically acceptable. We cannot ban it unless it directly provokes violence BUT we can attack it at its source: the Trump regime and the GOP.

We’re seeing the effects of the Current Occupant’s vicious and racist attacks spring to life among his supporters. Rhetorical bombs are being tossed across the country.

Across the Big Muddy from Adrastos World HQ, a veteran Gretna police officer showed classic internet courage by first posting, then removing a Facebook thingamabob about Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez:

The Times-Picayune reported this weekend that police officer Charlie Rispoli had posted a threatening message about Ocasio-Cortez, who used to work as a bartender, on his Facebook page.

“This vile idiot needs a round…and I don’t mean the kind she used to serve,” Rispoli wrote in a caption above a fake article headlined with “Ocasio-Cortez On the Budget: ‘We Pay Soldiers Too Much’”

The cop seemed livid about the article, even though the site Taters Gonna Tate describes itself as a “satire” website and Ocasio-Cortez has never said that soldiers get paid “too much.”

A Trumper falling for a “fake news” article? Imagine that. Of course, anyone who has fallen for the Insult Comedian’s shtick is a fool and/or a poltroon.

Meanwhile, this happened in the Land of Lincoln:

Internet courage was also displayed by this group: they removed this offensive image as well as its even more offensive caption, “Political jihad is their game. If you don’t agree with their socialist ideology, you’re racist.”

That is, of course, Geoffrey Hughes’ character, Onslow, from Keeping Up Appearances, not one of the Illinois GOP honchos. But now that I think of it, all you have to do is add a Bears or Cubs hat and Bob’s your uncle. Your uncle, not mine.

They justified the racist image with this gobble-de-gook:

State Republican Chairman Tim Schneider responded to what he called the “bigoted rhetoric” in a statement, according to the Tribune.

“My intense disagreement with the socialist policies and anti-Semitic language of these four congresswoman has absolutely nothing to do with their race or religion,” he said. “I urge everyone who opposes them to keep the rhetoric focused on policy and ideology.”

Instead of gobble-de-gook, one might call this an Illini lie. Schneider is a German-sounding name, perhaps he should go back to Germany. Of course, German law takes a dim view of incitement speech for obvious reasons. Been there, done that.

The current political environment is ugly and getting uglier by the nano-second. Trump and his supporters will stop at nothing to keep him in office. I am genuinely concerned that this will result in even more politically inspired violence than we’ve already seen.

Like Pontius Pilate, Trump will wash his hands of any responsibility the next time someone gets hurt, especially if it’s one of The Squad. I have no sympathy for that devil, y’all.

And I was ’round when Jesus Christ
Had his moment of doubt and pain
Made damn sure that Pilate
Washed his hands and sealed his fate

Trump and his followers are stirring the pot with their incitement speech. At the risk of sounding like an entry in the dictionary of political cliches, they will eventually reap the whirlwind and pay for their actions in the fall of 2020. But it will take hard work and persistence. And Boris Badenov and ilk may help Team Trump just as they did in 2016:

Repeat after me: Republicans lost the popular vote in the mid-terms by 9 points. Their only hope for victory is to depress Democratic turnout by hook or crook and pray for protection from the electoral college.  Never forget: massive turnout by the people Trump is trying to otherize is the cure to what ails the country.

Since bomb throwing is the metaphor of the day, the last word goes to 10cc:

UPDATE: The Gretna, Louisiana cop mentioned above was fired.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Moon Rocks

This Image Should Have Been On The Cover Of Life Magazine by Alan Bean.

History was made 50 years ago today when Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong stepped foot on the moon. It was controversial among some at the time for being a waste of money and has become the subject of wackadoo conspiracy theories. I watched the moon landing unfold and I thought it was magnificent; even better than Star Trek or 2001. The truth is not only stranger than fiction, it can be much better. I still think the heyday of the space program is way cool or perhaps even wicked awesome.

This week’s featured image is a painting by the late Apollo 12 astronaut Alan Bean. It’s based on a picture taken by Buzz Aldrin of Neil Armstrong; hence the epic title. I thought it was high time to give it, uh, new Life.

There are a wide variety of moon songs to choose from. For this week’s theme song, I went with one that’s lunar landing specific. Moon Rocks was written by David Bryne, Chris Frantz, Jerry Harrison, and Tina Weymouth for Talking Heads monster hit 1983 album, Speaking In Tongues.

Now that we’ve done a bit of space walking, let’s cut the tether and float to the break.

Continue reading

Donald Trump Is A Racist

I realize that I’m both preaching to the choir and stating the obvious with this post title. I think it’s important to be direct when writing about the depths of the Insult Comedian’s bigotry and the damage it has done to the country.

Vox’s German Lopez has assembled an impressive timeline of Trumpian public racism that stretches back to 1973. It’s an ugly but must-read piece. Anyone with a lick of sense has known from the beginning that Donald Trump is not only a criminal, he’s a racist.

What else was birtherism but a demand that Barack Obama show his “papers” to prove his citizenship? It didn’t need to be true or even partially true to have a malicious effect on the body politic. Hell, Trump wasn’t even the original birther but he was the most persistent.

I realize that Trump’s “go back” attack on the Squad was an attempt to divert attention from all the Trump scandals. It was imperative, however, to call him on his egregious racism. I wish he would “go back” to Trump Tower and leave the rest of us alone.

There were only 4 Republican House members plus Justin Amash who voted for the resolution condemning Trump’s latest racist tweet. I was surprised that there were any so this kinda, sorta counts as progress.

The GOP response was typified by Mitch McConnell, Steve Scalise, and Kevin McCarthy all of whom claimed Trump is not a racist and that they were nice to then President Obama. It’s all so typical and tiresome. Give it a rest, y’all. You own this guy and his overt racism.

The worst effect of having a racist, white nationalist president* is that it’s now socially acceptable in some quarters to make overtly racist comments in broad daylight. They’re following the president’s* bad example. I wish they would crawl back under the rock they oozed out from under BUT at least we know where we stand. The dog whistle has been replaced with a bullhorn.

Team Trump’s 2020 strategy has been obvious for months: defame, slander, and lie about their opponents to depress Democratic turnout. It’s their only hope of winning since they’ve been shrinking their base since the infamous “American carnage” inaugural rant. The good news is that Trump’s racist, xenophobic mid-term campaign did not work. The bad news is that we’re stuck with this asshole until January, 2021.

One good effect of Trump’s face-off with the Squad is that the MSM is starting to call a racist a racist. Trump’s reaction has been typically overstated:

That’s the Insult Comedian’s version of “some of my best friends are black.” Given his record of sexual assault, there may be one bone in his body that isn’t racist, if you catch my drift.

I may be preaching to the choir but repeat after me: Donald Trump is a racist.

The last word goes to Rodney Crowell:

Tweet Of The Day: John Kerry Edition

Before entering electoral politics, Ayanna Pressley was a senior aide to then Senator John Kerry. Big John rose to Pressley’s defense after the president* told her and three of her colleagues to “go back” to their shithole districts. I’m the one who said shithole this time, but he’s said it before and will say it again. Believe me.

The MSM called Trump’s original tweet, “racially charged.” Those of us in the reality based community called it racist. It was a successful attempt to distract attention from the Jeffrey Epstein scandal. It’s the only thing the Insult Comedian does well.

A quick note to my fellow Democrats; STFU and stop attacking one another. We’re the big tent party and we need a coalition to win elections. Moderates and Lefties need one another to take on the real enemy: THE PARTY OF TRUMP.

Minimum Standards

This is all they asked:

Basically, the job offer was like, “You can put babies in cages and enforce unenforceable bullshit and be as big of a racist shitbag as you want to be, thanks to the current administration, but for the love of fuck do not post your racist shitbaggery on a public form with your name and references to your FEDERAL AGENCY attached.”

That’s a VERY low bar, honestly. Even considering the types of racists the job would either attract or nurture, “please do not broadcast your inner sturmfuhrer to all and sundry on Al Gore’s internet” is a basic requirement for public service to have.

I am sure that in the coming days we will hear about how hard this job is and how these brave “first responders” just had to blow off some steam by photoshopping members of Congress blowing Donald Trump, that they were having wacky fun, and that if YOU, a low-T soyboy liberal, had to cage babies you too would need to make jokes at those babies’ expenses in order to live with the stress.

So let’s be clear: I am not shocked or offended by the racism. It is their whole entire job to be racist, why even bother doing it if you don’t believe dangerous slavering hordes of people are coming to kill us all in our beds and take our God-given white welfare? I am not in any way surprised that they are racist, misogynistic assholes.

I am contemptuous of the utter stupidity, and astonished that at a time when our bar could not be lower, CBP officers still found a way to slither underneath.

A.

The Fog Of Scandal: Perpetual Crisis Care

The 24-7 news cycle has been frantic for quite some time but in the Trump era it’s like a hyperactive child in need of medication. The child in question is, of course, the Insult Comedian.

After losing to Jack Kennedy, Richard Nixon wrote a pretty good, albeit self-serving, book called Six Crises. The Current Occupant has more like Sixty Crises some of which are so repetitive that the people and the media are becoming numb to them. It’s the presidency, in E’s memorable phrase, as Novocaine For The Soul.

This political numbness must be resisted at all costs: it’s okay not to be SURPRISED by presidential* antics but we should be SHOCKED by all the crazy the Trump regime throws our way. We conclude this opening sermonette with a musical interlude: a Fall Out Boy song whose protagonist sounds eerily like Trumpberius.

This is a black, black ski mask song
So put all of your anger on
In the truly gruesome do we trust
I will always land on you like a sucker punch
Singing I am your worst, I am your worst nightmare
I am your worst, I am your worst nightmare

Indeed you are, Donald, indeed you are.

Two of the major crises du jour are the internment camps on the border, especially the one at Clint, Texas, and the slagging match with Iran that could result in another stupid war in the Middle East. Trump relies on his gut when it comes to foreign policy, and *my* gut tells me that he’s bluffing in his face-off with Iran. BUT the chance for miscalculation is great when his senior advisers, Bolton and Pompeo, are salivating over the prospect of regime change in Iran. We’ve seen that movie before. It didn’t play well in Iraq and the Islamic Republic of Iran is a more formidable foe than the decadent dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. Stay tuned.

As to the migrant concentration camps, only a hardcore, heartless racist could fail to be moved by accounts of children living in their own filth without soap or toothbrushes. Since my eyesight and hearing are crappy, I have an acute sense of smell and the stench coming from children who have no soap with which to bathe is a notion that haunts me.  It’s slow motion torture, which is a stain on our national honor. It’s a rotten lead up to Independence Day.

There’s been a lively discussion in the corners of social media that I frequent about what issue we should focus on. We need to multi-task because the Trump regime will always trump up something to distract us. Diversion is the only thing they do well. Remember the Maddow Doctrine:

There’s one Trump crisis that the MSM is particularly numb to: We have a president* who is a serial sexual assaulter who sees women as prey, not people. The Gray Lady primly did not publish a story about E. Jean Carroll’s credible rape allegations for days after they broke. The depressing consensus among the Cult of the Savvy and GOP bigwigs seems to be that the voters knew about Trump’s rapey ways and elected him anyway. The NYT has admitted error and Trump has, predictably, said she was not hot enough for him to lust after. In a word: gross. Donald Trump is a pussy, he should grab himself.

If you haven’t read Dahlia Lithwick’s brilliant piece about the Carroll allegations, make sure you do. Dahlia points out that Carroll did it on her own terms in a way that none of Trump’s manifold manhandled accusers have done:

I understand why so many people think the media’s failure here is the result of boredom. One reality of the Trump era is how profoundly boring it is—we watch the same dramas unfold, again and again; we debunk the same lies, again and again; and we issue the same warnings, again and again. But I don’t think that what happened here is the result of boredom so much as an almost perfect journalistic incapacity for telling any story it hasn’t told a thousand times before. Maybe we’re not bored. Maybe we’re just boring.

Because E. Jean Carroll flipped the script. Having watched, and watched, and watched the #MeToo stories play out over the past several years, she decided she wasn’t going to do it as it had been done. She was going to tell her own story on her own terms, publishing it in her own book. Because, as she wrote in the excerpt published in New York magazine last Friday:

“Why haven’t I “come forward” before now?

Receiving death threats, being driven from my home, being dismissed, being dragged through the mud, and joining the 15 women who’ve come forward with credible stories about how the man grabbed, badgered, belittled, mauled, molested, and assaulted them, only to see the man turn it around, deny, threaten, and attack them, never sounded like much fun. Also, I am a coward.”

She’s the opposite of a coward. E. Jean Carroll is my new hero. It takes guts to deal with a traumatic episode with wit and humor; two qualities her rapist notably lacks. All he knows how to do is attack, belittle, degrade, and divert attention from his crimes.

The last word goes to Eels:

Repeat after me: Donald Trump is a criminal.

Watch What They Do, Not What They Say

I’ve stopped reading the president’s* twitter feed on a regular basis. It’s full of bluster, bigotry, braggadocio, and bullshit. Every once in a while the Insult Comedian changes “policy” by tweet. He enjoys seeing the country jump when he says something outrageous. It’s how this sick fuck gets his kicks. I wish he’d stick to Route 66.

Trump also uses his twitter feed to try and blackmail his opponents into submission but there’s usually a tell. That was the case with the so-called “ICE round-up of millions.” It was all about the announcement, not the round-up. When any law enforcement agency conducts a raid, it’s a tightly kept secret so as not to give the subjects time to flee or destroy evidence. Trump’s tweet was the tell that he was lying. He also gets a sadistic kick out of upsetting his enemies. Repeat after me: cruelty is the Trump regime’s only immigration policy. The rest is a sick charade.

I’m gobsmacked that anyone takes anything this president* says at face value but they still do. Another recent example is the lie told after he “called off” a bomb strike against Iran. He claimed that he hadn’t gotten a casualty count before the planes were in the air. In fact, it’s SOP for the military to include that information upon briefing any president including those without an asterisk. It’s all about the drama, it has nothing to with the real world.

I realize it’s frustrating to deal with this sort of fantasist but it’s our current reality. That’s why I’d demand verification even if the Insult Comedian were to say: “I’m a fat guy with bad hair and a fake tan.” Of course, he’d say none of those things but it’s a sign of his extreme mendacity that I wouldn’t believe him if he did.

I am a firm believer in what I call the Maddow Doctrine: Watch what they do, not what they say.  Words are cheap and in this case there’s usually some sort of bluff involved; if we pretend otherwise, he’ll steal everything that isn’t nailed down including our souls. There are no silver bullets to slay this particular monster except for one: the 2020 general election.

The last word goes to Michael F with this image from an April post, He’s Bluffing:

Image by Michael F.

Who’s Selling Hate to These People?

This story is full of more assholes than a bag of assholes but the biggest assholes in it aren’t named: 

Across the state, this network includes conservative radio hosts, think tanks and digital media that focus on anti-refugee news in Minnesota, as well as small community groups like C-Cubed, which repeatedly invite anti-Muslim speakers to town, leading to clashes and protests. Formed in 2017 to support more nativist candidates on the City Council, C-Cubed is a small group of only about a dozen members, but its existence has already changed the city’s political landscape.

C-Cubed supported four candidates for City Council last year, and two won seats, although Mr. Palmer himself lost. Members say they are raising questions about the state’s refugee program in order to determine its total cost. But in interviews, many repeatedly outlined more fundamental fears, including the belief that an influx of people who were nonwhite and non-Christian posed a cultural threat.

Several of the group’s members and their allies said their stand against immigration was a small part of a broader national conflict, in which the rising tide of a multicultural, multiracial Democratic Party must be opposed.

Who runs the sites and funds the radio stations and tells people to specifically compare abortion to the Holocaust? These people all say the same things and nobody asks where they heard it?

We are running story after story after story about Trump voters holding them up to be shamed, and yes, they should be shamed. These people make my fucking skin crawl. Imagine spending your life curled up around that kind of hatred. Like these are your days, reading angry websites and hosting meetings to be mad at refugees, this is what you’re doing with your time? These people should be shamed for buying this crap.

But the GOP should be shamed more, for selling it. In the most charitable interpretation of the sort of Republican Party Joe Biden wishes still existed, the GOP has benefitted immensely from racism in every form for the past 50 years. Even when they weren’t screaming it from the pulpit, racism was getting them elected. And at any time they could have said you know, this isn’t what we need to do right now. They didn’t, and they drove out the ones that tried.

So while we all cluck over the individuals in this story — they’re awful, and they’ll be judged for it in this world or the next — we need to keep in mind the structure that nourished and supported them, that confirmed their suspicions and validated their fears, and profited from them. They’re not victims, but they’re not the ultimate victors either.

A.

The Fog Of History: Semantic Antics

Choosing sides between Liz Cheney and Alexandria Ocascio-Cortez isn’t difficult. The latter called Trump’s migrant detention centers, concentration camps, and the former denounced this characterization. It’s a bit rich coming from a woman whose father is a torture fan but that’s life in the Trump era. It’s a theatre of the absurd more confusing than the crazy house/hall of mirrors scene in The Lady From Shanghai:

There’s a nightmare of the Trump regime’s creation at our Southern border. I’m glad it’s back in the spotlight but the semantic antics on the right are diverting attention onto their current bete noire: AOC. The implication is that calling a concentration camp what it actually is makes AOC some sort of Holocaust denier/minimizer; a David Irving with better dance moves. This is, of course, toxic nonsense.

Many scholars of the period have pointed out the difference between Nazi concentration camps and death camps. One could justly call the camps in which Japanese American citizens were unjustly detained concentration camps. This circular discussion reminds me of an absurd scene in another classic 1940’s film, To Be Or Not To Be:

The bottom line is that the United States government is holding migrants in camps wherein conditions are so appalling that they’ve resulted in 24 deaths. Adding horrifying insult to egregious injury is that children are being separated from their parents; in many instances permanently. That’s what matters, not what you call the camps. Words are important but people’s lives are infinitely more so.

Adding to the crazy house aspect of this debate is that babies are being locked in cages in the name of the rule of law. It’s beyond hypocritical coming from an administration that’s engaged in obstruction of justice on myriad fronts. It’s a small leap from myriad to the hall of mirrors in the crazy house.

Crazy House Mirror Maze

Image by Greg Biermann.

There are three articles about the Cheney-AOC debate that I highly recommend:

Dahlia Lithwick & Susan Mathews: The AOC-Liz Cheney “Concentration Camp” Fight Might Just Be A Distraction.

Andrea Pitzer:  How The Trump Administration’s Border Camps Fit Into The History Of Concentration Camps.

Eric Levtiz: With Trump’s Migrant Camps, The History We Should Fear Repeating Is Our Own.

Levitz issues a reminder about America’s inglorious history at our Southern border:

…progressives shouldn’t need to invoke the Holocaust to place migrant-detention centers in their proper context. The border separating the United States from lands dominated by nonwhite peoples has been a site of white-nationalist violence since the founding of our republic. America’s southern border is itself an artifact of a war of conquest that our government launched against Mexico — an invasion that Ulysses S. Grant called “one of the most unjust ever waged by a stronger against a weaker nation.” According to General Winfield Scott, commander of U.S. forces during that war, American troops committed atrocities against Mexican civilians so egregious they would “make Heaven weep, & every American, of Christian morals blush for his country. Murder, robbery, & rape on mothers & daughters, in the presence of the tied up males of the families, have been common along the Rio Grande.” In the decades that followed, Klansmen, citizen’s militias, and the uniformed officers of the Texas Rangers regularly lynched Latinos whom they regarded as invaders or threats to America’s racial order and purity. This is the history that Trumpism emerged from; these are the atrocities it threatens to repeat. Before Americans likened the violence at our borders to the Nazis, the Nazis likened their conquest of Eastern Europe to the violence at our frontiers.

History has a funny way of repeating itself although the results themselves are rarely funny ha-ha. We’re currently trapped in a crazy house hall of mirrors and blinded by the fog of history. All the semantic antics in the world will not change that; only the voters can. Make it so.

Pondering the wingnutty reaction to AOC has given me an earworm. The last word goes to Bryan Ferry:

On Joe Biden’s Civility Fetish

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: one thing Joe Biden has in common with Donald Trump is a fatal inability to STFU. The former Veep has a tendency to trip over his tongue every time he talks about civility. One might even call him a Lost Civility Causer.

This time Biden took it way too far:

As evidence of his ability to forge personal bonds, the former vice president pointed to his 36-year career in the Senate, which stretched back to 1973 and overlapped with the service of leading Southern Democrats. Biden cited the late senators James O. Eastland (Miss.) and Herman E. Talmadge (Ga.), who were steadfastly opposed to civil rights and racial integration.

“I was in a caucus with James O. Eastland,” Biden said at the fundraiser, where he was introduced by Eric Mindich, an investment manager and former Goldman Sachs partner.

The Democratic presidential candidate, who has led his competitors in early polls of the crowded nominating contest, briefly impersonated the southern drawl of the Mississippi cotton planter, lawyer and lawmaker. “He never called me ‘boy,’ ” Biden said. “He always called me ‘son.’ ”

Biden’s campaign didn’t immediately return a request for comment about why it would be notable that the Dixiecrat — who thought black Americans belonged to an “inferior race” and warned that integration would cause “mongrelization” — didn’t call Biden “boy,” a racial epithet deployed against black men.

The garrulous gaffe machine also invoked the name of former Georgia Senator and Governor Herman Talmadge who was a second generation race baiting segregationist.

Even with Talmadge — “one of the meanest guys I ever knew” — Biden noted, “at least there was some civility. We got things done. We didn’t agree on much of anything. We got things done.”

Biden cited two of the worst Dixiecrats who remained in the Senate during his early years. There were other segregationists such as John Stennis and Russell Long who changed with the times and were never as overtly racist or hateful as Eastland and Talmadge. Biden might as well have cited Strom Thurmond.

I’ll never forget a story that went around the Hill about Eastland. The Senate threw a reception for Egyptian President Anwar Sadat during one of his visits when Carter was president. Eastland took one look at Sadat and said in a loud stage whisper: “Why, I believe the president is a nigra.” He stepped out of the reception line so he wouldn’t have to shake Sadat’s hand. I guess Biden would say of that story, “at least he called him a nigra, not the other n word.” Civility, try it, you’ll like it.

Do I think Joe Biden is a racist? Absolutely not. Do I think he needs to think before he speaks? Absolutely. He seems bound and determined to talk his way out of the Democratic nomination. Another reason I support Elizabeth Warren.

Repeat after me, Joe:

Who Told Them The Left Hated Them?

Everyone’s dunking all over this which is right and just, but there’s something else happening:

Which is, you are convinced you have to be a Nazi because The Left hates you. So who told you the Left hated you?

I mean, did some mean feminist actually come up to you, spit in your face and say FUCK YOU FOR BEING A STRAIGHT WHITE MAN?

Or did someone tell you that happened to someone else who heard it from their cousin who saw it on “the news” who told their brother’s sister-in-law’s college roommate’s friend? Did Fox News tell you it was happening daily on the streets of God’s America? Did some YouTuber rant about anonymous leftists hating you? HOW DID YOU FIND OUT, and why did you believe it?

Because I gotta tell you, I talk to people all day long and zero of my conversations with acquaintances involve telling straight white men they’re inferior.

Sometimes they involve telling straight white men to cut out this or that specific behavior, but my direct conversations? With other humans, face to face? Rarely involve Twitter sentiments like “let’s keep straight white men in pens for sex and run the world on our own.”

How do you know the Left hates you, straight white fellow who’s just being PUSHED INTO being a Nazi because you HAD NO OTHER CHOICE? Who told you this was an acceptable response to being oppressed?

It isn’t some natural human reflex and the way I know that is African-Americans were enslaved and tortured for 400 years and they’ve managed to Nazi exactly nobody.

So at some point somebody told you this was a reasonable thing to do and say, and I’d like us to talk more about that person than about you, because buying this shit is one thing but selling it, as any drug dealer will tell you, is a whole ‘nother.

At a certain point we have to start addressing these conceptions of “the left” and “the media” hating REAL AMERICANS as the propaganda strategies they are. As electoral tools for the GOP, and not as something people of color caused by, like, existing and for which they should apologize.

A.

A New Low: Trump’s Blood Libel

In the first year of the Trump regime, I revived the “your president speaks” feature. It’s a Bush-era feature that was brought back upon the inauguration of another president* who said weird and wacky shit. As the lies mounted, I drew back from the feature because most of the Insult Comedian’s statements weren’t funny any more. It’s hard to spin comedy gold out of the rancid bullshit spewed by Trump and his lackeys. It made me feel like Rumple-fucking-stiltskin’s evil twin so I dialed the feature back. I’m *almost* nostalgic for the days when the Kaiser of Chaos threw rolls of paper towels to hurricane victims in Puerto Rico. Almost.

Trump’s latest major rhetorical outrage is neither funny nor surprising, but it’s so shocking that I feel compelled to write about it. Repeat after me: if we lose the capacity to be shocked, the Trumpers win.

I’m, of course, referring to crazy shit said by the president* on the stump in  Green Bay, Wisconsin where he replaced the Lambeau leap with the Trump stretch:

“The baby is born. The mother meets with the doctor. They take care of the baby. They wrap the baby beautifully, and then the doctor and the mother determine whether or not they will execute the baby.”

It’s not only a lie, it’s incitement speech.  There are not now, nor have there ever been, “executions” involving a mother and her doctor. These inflammatory remarks are analogous to the blood libel spread by the Nazis and their anti-Semitic fellow travelers. Here’s how the ADL defines the blood libel:

The “blood libel” refers to a centuries-old false allegation that Jews murder Christians – especially Christian children – to use their blood for ritual purposes, such as an ingredient in the baking of Passover matzah (unleavened bread). It is also sometimes called the “ritual murder charge.” The blood libel dates back to the Middle Ages and has persisted despite Jewish denials and official repudiations by the Catholic Church and many secular authorities. Blood libels have frequently led to mob violence and pogroms, and have occasionally led to the decimation of entire Jewish communities.

In this case, the blood libel is against women facing the worst moment imaginable and the doctors who are there to help them. Trump did not claim that evil pro-choicers use baby blood in some satanic socialist ritual but he might as well have. What does someone who “executes” a baby deserve? Lynching? Stoning? A second Trump term?

I take this personally. My wife is a medical educator. She and her colleagues try every day to instill ethical conduct in their students. I don’t recall hearing about a class in baby executions.

When I was young, most physicians were Republicans. They were against “socialized medicine” and wanted lower taxes on their earnings but were otherwise caring and compassionate people. In 2019, the majority of physicians vote Democratic. They no longer support the anti-science party, especially now that rabid anti-choicers denounce their OB-GYN colleagues as baby executioners.

Trump’s mouthing the most extreme “pro-life” rhetoric is, to be blunt, despicable. It’s a cynical exercise in rallying his base, which is another reason that it’s a blood libel. The facts and implications be damned. The president* just gave a green light to those inclined to attack abortion clinics. He’s big on giving a green light to extremists: remember the post-Charlottesville comments that will live in infamy. The people who chanted “Jews will not replace us” included some “very good people.” Yeah, right. #sarcasm.

In the 20th Century, there was a long running debate between two leading Hitler scholars, Hugh Trevor-Roper and Alan Bullock, as to whether the Führer was a true believer or a mountebank. That’s a fancy way of saying con man. In the end, it didn’t matter, the result was the same: war, genocide, death, and suffering. Hitler was a true believer, Trump is a mountebank. In this case, that may be worse, not only is Trump a con man, the only thing he believes in is his own awesomeness. That’s a crazy thing on which to base a political movement but it’s the putrid essence of Trumpsim. It needs to be extracted from our body politic like a malign tumor.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Back In The High Life Again

Mesas In Shadows by Maynard Dixon

I had a stupid kitchen accident this week. The sink was full-ish so I decided to pour boiling water into an airborne/hand-held colander. I missed and mildly scalded my left hand. It hurt like hell for a day or so but barely qualified as a first degree burn. I did, however, feel like a first degree dumbass. It was not unlike being an honorary Trump.

I just finished reading John Farrell’s fine 2017 biography of Richard Nixon. I learned two positive things about Tricky Dick. First, he broke his arm as a young politician after slipping on the ice outside his DC area home. The break occurred because he held onto his daughter instead of bracing for the fall with his hands. Second, Nixon was a good tipper. He tipped 25% in the late Sixties when 10% when standard and 15% was a big tip. Hell has frozen over: I just said something nice about Nixon.

After last week’s sad theme songs, I decided to elevate the tone a bit. Back In The High Life Again was written by Steve Winwood and Will Jennings in 1986. It was a big hit; surely aided by James Taylor’s gorgeous harmony vocals.

We have two versions for your listening pleasure: Winwood’s chirpy original and a mournful interpretation by Warren Zevon, another wry and sardonic guy. We’re everywhere, y’all.

Now I want some Miller High Life, which is my favorite cheap beer. It’s even good enough for my beer snob/home brewer friend Greg. On that note, let’s take a swig of Miller, then jump to the break. Try not to spill any. Wasting beer is a sin.

Continue reading

Axis Of Assholes

In his 2002 State of the Union speech George W. Bush denounced Iraq, Iran, and North Korea as an “axis of evil,” an inflammatory turn of phrase authored by David Frum. That’s right, the Frum who can be seen on your teevee as an anti-Trump conservative. He writes for the Atlantic Weekly now and still hasn’t topped the line that began life as “axis of hatred.”

In 2019, we face a corrupt, malevolent, and egomaniacal axis of assholes. They’re scattered across the globe, but the bull goose assholes are Bibi Netanyahu, Donald Trump, and Crown Prince MBS aka Mister Bone Saw seen above holding hands. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

The United States may be the most powerful country in the terrible troika, but Netanyahu is the powerhouse; both mentoring and setting a bad example for the Insult Comedian who aspires to Bibi’s level of malevolent malakatude. That makes Bibi  the Mr. Bad Example of the axis of assholes:

Netanyahu just won a scorched earth re-election campaign in which he demonized his opponents, the media, and the Israeli Arab minority. As depressing as it is for those of us who remember the Israel of Ben-Gurion, Meir, Rabin, and Peres: it’s Bibi’s country now. The Israeli left is dead as is the two-state solution. Netanyahu continues to transform Israeli democracy into a system akin to apartheid era South Africa or Jim Crow era America.

The Kaiser of Chaos aspires to Bibi’s level of strongman dominance. What’s not to love about a guy who was re-elected while under threat of indictment? Mercifully, Israel’s multi-party system makes that feat difficult to replicate elsewhere but the Trumpers are hoping to follow in Bibi’s sleazy footsteps.

New Yorker honcho David Remnick wrote a perceptive and must read post-election piece, The Trump-Netanyahu Alliance. These excerpts capture the zeitgeist of the axis of assholes. The he in question is Netanyahu but it could just as easily be Trump:

Practicing a politics of division, he targets enemies in the press, the academy, and the courts. Increasingly, he finds his global allies in the ever-growing club of the Illiberal International, from the Sunni Arab leaders in his own region to Viktor Orbán, in Hungary; Jair Bolsonaro, in Brazil; and Vladimir Putin, in Russia. He has determined that the world no longer cares very much about the Palestinians or about democratic niceties. He has marginalized the left––even the center-left. The “peace camp” that [Bibi’s father] Benzion loathed now barely exists.

<SNIP>

Just as Netanyahu provided Trump instruction on the political possibilities of right-wing populism, Trump has provided Netanyahu with instruction on the possibilities of outrageous invective, voter suppression, and disdain for the law. Netanyahu now delights in the use of such phrases as “fake news.” Investigations into his financial adventures are “witch hunts.” To suppress the Arab vote in last week’s election, his supporters mounted more than a thousand cameras at polling places where Arab citizens ordinarily vote, the better to intimidate them. And, of course, both men like a wall. As Trump put it, “Walls work. Just ask Israel.” To which his proud mentor tweeted, “President Trump is right. I built a wall along Israel’s southern border. It stopped all illegal immigration. Great success. Great idea.”

The axis of assholes sticks together. Neither Trump nor Netanyahu found the murder of Jamal Khashoggi objectionable and took MBS at his word that his regal hands were clean, not blood-stained. Liars tend to believe other liars.

There’s a lot of saber rattling in the direction of Iran right now. Since distraction is the only thing Trump is good at, there are well-founded fears of a “wag the dog” attack on Iran. I think the Trump regime is likely to sub-contract any such attack to the Israelis and Saudis because bombs are expensive and the president* is a cheapskate. Iran is why the leadership of those once bitter foes have converged. The Bibi-MBS nexus of the axis of assholes almost makes one nostalgic for bad old/good old days in the Middle East. The Palestinians must be.

It’s beyond ironic that the leader of the Jewish state has formed such close bonds with two anti-Semitic leaders but “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” is the rule in that region. It should matter that Saudi Arabia was rhetorically pro-Nazi, but it doesn’t. It should matter that Donald Trump’s Archie Bunker-style philo-semitism is fundamentally anti-Semitic but it doesn’t. All that matters is power.

The only good thing about the axis of assholes is that it’s likely to be ephemeral. People like Bibi, the Kaiser of Chaos, and Mister Bone Saw invariably turn on one another. Cannibalism is part of assholery at this level of malakatude.

Speaking of cannibalism, the last word goes to Paul Kantner and Grace Slick:

Nielsen Cancelled

Remember when important political developments rarely happened on the weekend? It wasn’t long ago but the Current Occupant must be the center of attention at all times. It’s exhausting, y’all.

Sunday’s big news was the resignation of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. I would call her the latest Trump dignity wraith but she lost whatever dignity she once had by serving as Team Trump’s point person on immigration.

Nielsen leaves behind a legacy of shame. Caging babies, then lying about it was her modus operandi. Nielsen’s apologists claim that she restrained Trump from doing even worse, more extreme things but who gives a shit? The things she did were bad enough; some of which may have risen to the level of genocide. Things invariably get worse with each change in Trump regime policy and personnel, especially where immigration is concerned. Shit, meet fan.

President* Trump may be the man without  a plan but White House aide Stephen Miller has one. And he’s carrying it out by engaging in a purge at DHS. Just what we needed: this crypto-Fascist in charge of our immigration system, and the Secret Service to boot.

Nielsen’s apologists  tell us that she was a bureaucratic technocrat. So was Adolf Eichmann who was also adept at caging human beings. The “just following orders” defense didn’t work for him and it shouldn’t work for her.

Stephen Miller is in charge of the immigration system: Shit, meet fan.