Unpresidented, Again

“There’s never really been a time when a generation of people, raised and rooted in the United States, has been stripped of official recognition and pushed back into the precarity of unauthorized-immigrant life.”

—Dara Lind, of Vox

Dara Lind explains stuff for Vox. This morning she wrote of the nasty DACA reversal decision ordered by one racist coward, Tr-mp, and announced by another racist with bigger balls, Sessions. Lind’s article (“Why ending DACA is so unprecedented“) featured this gem:

Undoing DACA would widen the gulf between reality and law. And that gulf is, in some ways, broader than it’s ever been before. What truly makes the end of DACA unprecedented, in the broad sweep of US history, is the size of that gap between the law and the reality.

With DACA hanging in the balance, America has a group of people on the verge of being socially integrated, but legally isolated — socially championed, but legally victimized — in a way we’ve never really seen before.

Well, we’ve seen a lot of things lately we’ve never seen before. And, somehow, one never gets used to it. Every affront still shocks. But Lind pointed out something that I think many of us either didn’t know or forgot about our border history with Mexico:

Historically, it was easy enough to cross the US/Mexico border and work in the US — both because it was simply easier to enter the country by land without being detected than to sail into New York harbor, and because (partly because it was so hard to regulate) the US government didn’t restrict immigration from the Americas the way it did from the Eastern Hemisphere.

It was so easy, in fact, that immigrants were often simply migrating back and forth. “Immigrants preferred to live in Mexico for most of the time,” Stanford historian Ana Minian explains, “and then come for short periods of time, sometimes up to a couple years, and then return to Mexico until they needed to come back again.”

It wasn’t until the second half of the 20th century that the US made it harder to legally immigrate from Mexico. After that, it was still possible to come to the US and work — just not legally. So the circular migration continued, but its legal status changed.

She notes that the “circular flow” stopped in the 1990s, when border security was beefed up and the crossings became riskier (thanks to a bipartisan effort in Congress and with Bill Clinton’s signature on a little-known law that, in Lind’s words, “essentially eliminated an existing back door to legal status” and “locked a front door to legal status, too”). Thus, many of the immigrants simply just stayed here rather than take the border-crossing risk. And their kids stayed with them. Today we call those kids DREAMers. And this country is the only home they know.

In June of 2012, President Obama spoke in the Rose Garden about his decision to create the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy. He talked about the DREAMers:

These are young people who study in our schools, they play in our neighborhoods, they’re friends with our kids, they pledge allegiance to our flag.  They are Americans in their heart, in their minds, in every single way but one:  on paper.  They were brought to this country by their parents — sometimes even as infants — and often have no idea that they’re undocumented until they apply for a job or a driver’s license, or a college scholarship.

Put yourself in their shoes.  Imagine you’ve done everything right your entire life — studied hard, worked hard, maybe even graduated at the top of your class — only to suddenly face the threat of deportation to a country that you know nothing about, with a language that you may not even speak.

Unable to put himself in anyone’s shoes but his own, Tr-mp, with the help of his loathsome and lying Attorney General, just told these DACA beneficiaries that they aren’t welcome here unless a Republican Congress, which isn’t even able to confidently guarantee the nation’s bills will be paid without defaulting, can rescue them within six months. Jesus.

John Kennedy wrote a book in 1958 called A Nation of Immigrants. On the back cover of a posthumous edition published in 1964 are these words:

Throughout his presidency, John F. Kennedy was passionate about the issue of immigration reform. He believed that America is a nation of people who value both tradition and the exploration of new frontiers, people who deserve the freedom to build better lives for themselves in their adopted homeland.

Man. What was he thinking?

sessions on dacaAs I write, Senator Lindsey Graham, who applauded Tr-mp’s action today, said this is a “defining moment” for the Republican Party to get this right, to fix our “broken immigration system” by helping the DREAMers. Well, I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen a lot of “defining moments” for the Republican Party over the last several years. And they have certainly defined themselves, time and again. They are now defined by that Orange Racist Creep who didn’t have the guts to go out himself today and tell the DREAMers they were now at the mercy of the same congressional Republicans who supported him, a man who began and maintains his putrid political career by scapegoating immigrants.

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More Hypocrisy The Size Of Texas

We’ve all seen how Republicans in Texas have fallen in love—deeply, madly in love—with socialism. Just this morning, CNN interviewed yet another Texas lawmaker, who was once all concerned about “offsets” for federal spending for Hurricane Sandy relief in the northeast. Needless to say, this lawmaker didn’t want to talk today about offsets for Hurricane Harvey recovery. Nope. The concept of offsets was either blown away by the storm or perhaps drowned in the poison floodwaters of a regulation-hating state.

Even more hypocrisy was evident on CNN this morning during Michael Smerconish’s program. His first guest was Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who bragged about going after price gougers, the ultimate free marketeers. You would think that hard-core Republicans like Paxton (who, as an aside, is leading the fight against DACA) would applaud those who are taking advantage of the situation, who are just using market principles to make a fast buck. After all, since Moses was a toddler conservatives have extolled the virtues of unfettered free markets and the magic they make. Tr-mp boasts constantly about all the deregulation he is doing, supposedly freeing up businesses that are, allegedly, hamstrung by regulations so they can “compete” in a “free” market.

Ken Paxton told us he has his posse out looking for the gougers and will throw the book at them, as if they were the worst kind of criminals. Earlier in the week Paxton made the same argument he made this morning:

There’s nothing wrong with a free market, but this isn’t a free market. This is an unusual market where you have a storm like that that creates such devastation.

Hmm. An “unusual market”? So? So what? Can’t a person profit from unusual markets? If I were smart enough to look ahead and buy hundreds of cases of water at $4 a pop, then could sell them for $99, what’s wrong with that? Here’s what Paxton thinks is wrong with it:

People are in crisis. They’re experiencing great difficulty, so we’re trying to protect people from opportunists who take advantage of people in difficult times.

Opportunists? Difficult times? Some people don’t need hurricanes to make their lives difficult. They live in difficult times with or without massive storms, yet they are priced out of a lot of markets by opportunists, especially opportunists in the pharmaceutical industry. What makes this situation different? Why shouldn’t motels and hotels be allowed to triple their room rates during times like this? Why shouldn’t convenience stores be allowed to charge $20 a gallon for gas? What is the ken paxton price gougingmoral distinction between charging whatever the market will bear for a good or service a week before the hurricane as opposed to a week after? Why does free market-loving, regulation-hating Texas even have laws against price gouging? Why do the other 33 or so other states have such laws?

Well, most of us can see why. It hits us in our guts. We know in our bones that it is morally reprehensible to make quick money off other people’s misery or their dire need. We know it is plain wrong to sell for $100 something that last week cost $4, just because a hurricane made such free market transactions—and make no mistake about it, they are free market transactions—possible. Yes, we can see that. It is obviously morally unjustifiable.

Well, it isn’t obvious to everyone. Some people, other than the gougers, think they can justify it. I used to faithfully read a publication called The Freeman, which up until last year had been published, beginning in 1950, by a group called the Foundation for Economic Education. The FEE, its leaders say, is a libertarian think tank focused on bringing “about a world in which the economic, ethical, and legal principles of a free society are familiar and credible to the rising generation” [their emphasis]. None other than philosopher and economist Friedrich Hayek, a god of economics on the right who won a Nobel prize, said:

The Foundation for Economic Education is committed to nothing more nor less than the defense of our civilization against intellectual error.

That kind of intellectual snootiness is characteristic of most libertarians (and conservataives), who believe they and only they understand how the world works. Trust me, they really believe that. They think most of us out here are just ignorant rubes. In any case, you may have guessed that the libertarians at places like FEE actually think price gougers are good guys. Yep. They really do. Here’s an article published last Monday:

Texas Price Gougers Are Hurricane Heroes

Yes. The guy charging $99 bucks for a $4 case of water is a goddamned hero! I will allow you to personally examine the ridiculous arguments (which I have addressed many times) that support such a stunning claim, but I want to say two things about those arguments.

One, libertarians—and the many Republicans who have bought into their economic philosophy—don’t seem to factor into their tidy intellectual analysis the fact that people are motivated to do good by things other than making an easy dollar. We actually see that profit-less motivation going on in Texas, as folks get in their own little boats, use their own gas, and go about rescuing people.

Two, always beware of someone selling a counter-intuitive laissez-faire idea on the grounds that regulation of markets “hurts the very people who need our help most.” All you have to do to refute that bullshit claim is look at the modern Republican Party—whose leaders push the economic philosophy that in its purest form turns price gougers into heroes—and ask yourself: are these Republicans, and their rich donors seeking tax cuts, trying to help the folks who need our help the most?

The ongoing tragedy in Texas should clearly demonstrate, for all time, at least two things: Price gougers are not heroes, and redistributing wealth in order to help people in need—democratic socialism—is heroic. For now, even most Republicans can see that, even if they won’t put it in those terms. But soon, after the water has receded and the cleanup cash is on its way, I am betting they will go back to their old ways: unfettered free markets are good and socialism is bad!

Ted Cruz: Selective Socialist

In west Dallas, Texas, there is a burial ground called La Réunion Cemetery. Most of the people interred there were European colonists who started a socialist community and tried gallantly to maintain it. At the time, 1855, Dallas was “a shabby little frontier village” next door to the community of hope-filled socialists. Today it is the ninth largest city in the country.

The La Réunion colony failed. And it failed for many reasons, beginning with the fact that, as Public Radio International put it, the colonists didn’t have “a very clear idea of what they were getting themselves into”:

The Texas heat. The lack of a navigable river. Slavery, and the violent politics around it. Land speculators and hucksters. And lots and lots of snakes.

To make matters worse, most of the European colonists had no farming skills. They were artisans and thinkers who mostly expected paradise, not frontier misery. They were no match for the harsh environment they’d unwittingly entered.

Those starry-eyed Europeans did not realize their utopian socialist dreams, but the hardy souls who eventually moved to that shabby little village next door did make a difference:

…historians credit Dallas’s early growth to the sudden arrival of these people, among them architects, musicians, builders, bankers and editors. When the Civil War broke out, many of those immigrants tried hard not take a side — some even hid out in Mexico to avoid the Confederate draft. After the War, the Reconstruction government needed non-Confederates to run the town: there they were, these battered idealists.

Some believe Dallas would never have become the city it is without those folks. Those socialists.

Which brings me to what’s going on in Texas today. No, I don’t mean the godawful storm that is still doing terrible things in and around Houston. And I don’t mean Agent Orange flying in to vainly attempt a rescue of his administration from abject failure. What I mean is the idea that all of us, as Americans, are expected to assent to helping devastated Texans with our tax money. But should we?

As has been widely reported, all but one of the Texas Republicans in the House and both U.S. Senators essentially said “Eff off!” to victims of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, as those right-wing anti-socialists voted against the aid package to help folks in the northeast. Suddenly, though, Hurricane Harvey has washed ashore and brought with it a new fondness for socialism. Suddenly, it is time to redistribute the wealth. Suddenly, La Réunion lives again!

Ted Cruz, whose father probably helped kill JFK and who has an ugly wife—unretracted claims of Tr-mp, not mine—defended his drop-dead-Sandy-victims vote this way:

The accurate thing to say is that I and a number of others enthusiastically and emphatically supported hurricane relief for Sandy. Hurricane relief and disaster relief has been a vital federal role for a long, long time and it should continue. The problem with that particular bill is it became a $50 billion bill that was filled with unrelated pork.

Image result for hurricane sandy and ted cruzNow, I’m not that interested in whether Cruz is lying about having been “enthusiastically and emphatically” supportive of pork-less hurricane relief five years ago. My default position on people like Cruz is that they are lying every time they speak, so no biggie here. What I am focused on is the casual way he says, “Hurricane relief and disaster relief has been a vital federal role for a long, long time and it should continue.” That sentence rolled off his tongue so smoothly that it sounded like he meant it. So, let’s pretend he did and ask ourselves, What does it mean?

It means that Ted Cruz has endorsed socialism. There is no other way to look at it. Ted Cruz is a socialist. He is as red as any La Réunion colonist ever was. He essentially said the United States is just one big La Réunion-like settlement. But, of course, we all know Ted Cruz doesn’t see it that way. Houston is a special case. It is a limited case. We shouldn’t get carried away with this socialist talk, he would insist.

But he’s wrong. What he advocates is a form of socialism. It is the government taking something from one citizen and giving it to another. And that idea is, theoretically, what conservatives have always hated. It is, theorectically, what they want to erase from American life. It is, theorectically, why they constantly attack New Deal thinking and programs.

But the still-developing disaster in Houston and elsewhere isn’t theoretical. The cloak-room purity of free markets and rugged individualism has surrendered to the stark reality that we all are necessarily in this together. Or at least we should be. My problem is not with sending whatever is necessary to help folks in Texas and Louisiana recover from this tragedy. Of course we should assist them, even if their Republican politicians are horrible legislators.

My problem is that some people can only see the need for socialist-like responses during large-scale disasters like this one. These types of events clearly demonstrate the foolishness of drown-government-in-the-bathtub ideology. Everyone can see that the future of Houston and other communities will depend on a large distribution—redistribution—of federal dollars, just like what happened here in Joplin. Ted Cruz can see that. All Republicans in Texas can see that. What they can’t see is that the same application of socialist thinking—the democratic variety—ought to be applied even when parts of the country haven’t been shellacked by a massive storm.

Every day someone experiences their own personal Hurricane Harvey. It may be a lost job or a devastating medical diagnosis. It may be the reality of being trapped in poverty, without a means of escape. It may be a drug addiction. It could be any number of things. And our reaction to these individual storms should be the same as if they occurred on a massive scale in a matter of a few days. There’s no reason to think otherwise. If democratic socialism is good during collective disasters, it is good during individual disasters.

And the theoreticians on the right know this. Back in 2005, after Hurricane Katrina hammered New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, the Bush administration proposed a post-storm aid program that bothered the puritans of parsimony, the ideologues of individualism. Writing for Reason magazine (“Bush’s Disaster Socialism“), Shikha Dalmia explained her opposition:

Conservatives care not just about the size of government but about its scope as well. Direct federal aid—aid disaster victims don’t even have to justify to a bureaucracy—would inevitably expand Americans’ sense of individual entitlement, establishing a dangerous precedent. On Bush’s principles, why not have the federal government pay for health insurance, job training, and child care for victims of any calamity? After all, why are people who knowingly live in a hurricane-prone area more worthy of federal largesse than those who meet with random, unpredictable accidents? In short, how can Bush resist any suggestion to launch an all-encompassing national accident insurance program?

 You can see that, like George W. Bush’s proposals in 2005, Ted Cruz’s embrace of “disaster socialism” throws a wrench into the intellectual machinery of anti-welfare, anti-statist, ideologues. They see what it really means to embrace federal aid to hurricane victims. They see the socialism at the heart of it.

Shikha Dalmia asked the right question: “why not have the federal government pay for health insurance, job training, and child care for victims of any calamity?” Why not? Because Ted Cruz and others like him, hypocrites hungry for collective dollars today, will lose their appetite for those dollars when it comes time to hand them out to victims of “random, unpredictable” misfortunes that happen in everyday life.

That’s why not.

Law And Odor

This was the kind of right-wing hysteria we experienced not so long ago:

Every single one of Obama’s friends is a dangerous lunatic…With one association after another that is beyond the pale with Barack Obama. I feel like we are talking to the Germans after Hitler comes to power saying, “Oh well, I didn’t know. I had no idea he was going to be like this.” With this guy Americans ought to know. The media is covering up except on this channel. Thank you, Sean Hannity.

That was Ann Coulter speaking on Fox’s Hannity & Colmes on October 30, 2008. We all remember those “dangerous lunatics” in the Obama administration and how President Obama tried to transform America into Nazi Germany, right? Certainly we will never forget all those fascist rallies Obama presided over, complete with swastikas and Sieg Heil salutes and paeans to white supremacy. Those eight years were sure terrifying. I don’t know how we made it through them. Lawlessness was everywhere. And that lawlessness was best demonstrated by Obama’s stance and eventual action on immigration, an issue that fired up right-wingers, including the white nationalist movement and its anti-immigrant racist hero, Tr-mp.

In July of 2014, Sarah Palin—John McCain’s proud pick to be next in line to what he hoped would be his presidency—accused President Obama of deliberately “[o]pening our borders to a flood of illegal immigrants.” She then wrote the following:

President Obama’s rewarding of lawlessness, including his own, is the foundational problem here. It’s not going to get better, and in fact irreparable harm can be done in this lame-duck term as he continues to make up his own laws as he goes along, and, mark my words, will next meddle in the U.S. Court System with appointments that will forever change the basic interpretation of our Constitution’s role in protecting our rights.

It’s time to impeach; and on behalf of American workers and legal immigrants of all backgrounds, we should vehemently oppose any politician on the left or right who would hesitate in voting for articles of impeachment.

The many impeachable offenses of Barack Obama can no longer be ignored. If after all this he’s not impeachable, then no one is.

Lest you think Palin’s nuttiness was unique to her, Steve Benen pointed out that right-wing columnist Charles Krauthammer also played the impeachment card in 2014, saying a then-unknown executive action by Obama on immigration “is an impeachable offense” and a “flagrant assault on the Constitution.” Benen also gave other examples of the impeachment-immigration hysteria on Fox, including from Chris Wallace and Megyn Kelly and, of course, Sean Hannity.

Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, who was a U.S. Senator in 2014, said Obama’s potential “executive amnesty” was “a threat to the constitutional order.” Today that same man, whose very name memorializes racist and treasonous men, is the Attorney General for Mr. I Alone Can Fix It, for Mr. Birther, for Mr. Muslim Ban, for Mr. The Press Is Our Enemy, for Mr. Pardon Joe Arpaio.

When we consider the Arpaio pardon, we certainly should emphasize the fact that Arpaio was clearly a cruel, creepy, racist. But the most important fact about him, in terms of contextualizing the pardon, was that he was the most lawless lawman in America, a fascistic sheriff who once called his infamous Tent City “a concentration camp.” Thus, Tr-mp’s pardon was a tribute to such lawlessness, a salute to moral confusion, a signal that we are indeed living in an America quickly headed toward something ugly and perhaps irreversible. Joe Arpaio gave the justice system the finger of defiance and the system lawfully broke that finger. The pardon is Tr-mp’s own way of flipping justice the bird, of defying a system he never has and never will respect.

Whatever you think of Tr-mp’s mental health, Arpaio’s pardon must be put in context, must be added to Tr-mp’s vicious attacks on the free press, to his cashing in on the high office he illegitimately holds, to his cultish rallies, to his winking at white supremacists and Nazis in Charlottesville. I’m talking about intimations of fascism.

As reported by HuffPost, an 88-year-old man named Jack Rosenthal saw the significance of an image in the aftermath of the Charlottesville chaos that almost nobody saw. While reading an article about the pro-Nazi terrorist who killed Heather Heyer with his car, Rosenthal saw this Reuters photograph:

That is a picture of Matthew Heimbach, who lives in rural southern Indiana. Heimbach is chairman of a Christian hate group called the Traditionalist Worker Party, members of which believe white genocide is a real possibility, who believe the Holocaust didn’t happen, who admire Hitler and Putin and other white “strongmen.” Heimbach was a supporter and promoter of the racist “Unite the Right” rally that Tr-mp had so much trouble condemning.

Jack Rosenthal, who was born in Romania, noticed the shirt Heimbach was wearing. It featured an image of Corneliu Codreanu, a Romanian fascist and founder of the Iron Guard, a paramilitary Christian terrorist group whose members believed in an uncompromising nationalism that, of course, excluded Jews. As HuffPost noted,

Codreanu was the face behind pogroms in Romania. The large-scale violent riots killed tens of thousands of Romanian Jews during the 1930s leading up to the Holocaust.

Codreanu’s brand of murderous hate, it turns out, has been enjoying something of a revival among right-wing extremists in Europe and, now, in the United States. But there are still some people around who can directly speak to the horrors of the past and the present danger signs, people like Jack Rosenthal:

I recognized the name right away. You see something like this, you know, it brings back memories and I’m concerned about what could happen in this country.

Rosenthal has a right to be concerned:

He was 16 when he was taken to the German Nazi concentration camp in occupied Poland. Later, he was transferred to Buchenwald, another camp near Weimar, Germany, where he was forced to work for the Nazis ― the only reason he was kept alive until U.S. military forces began to evacuate the camp’s 28,000 prisoners in 1945. He came to the U.S. hoping to find a new beginning.

“After I was liberated, I thought to myself the world has learned what terrible traces hate can bring to humanity,” he said. “And now this gives me a depressing feeling because it’s happening again, and it’s happening now.”

Thus speaks a man who lost seven members of his family at Auschwitz.

I began this post with Ann Coulter’s attack on Barack Obama in 2008:

I feel like we are talking to the Germans after Hitler comes to power saying, “Oh well, I didn’t know. I had no idea he was going to be like this.”

Of course that remark was stupid. Of course it was outrageous. Of course there are people around who warn us all not to be as stupid and outrageous today as Ann Coulter was back then. But an 88-year-old Holocaust survivor smells something familiar in the air. He smells fascism.

And we shouldn’t hold our noses and pretend we don’t smell it, too.

 

Positively The Dumbest Thing Any Journalist In The History Of Journalism Ever Said About Anything. Period.

If you listened to some pundits both last night and this morning, you would have thought Tr-mp gave the Gettysburg Address on Monday night. But from its cheesy beginning to its embarrassingly sophomoric delivery to its skimpy content—the most newsworthy item was Tr-mp’s attempt to ramp up disharmony between Pakistan and India, which considering both are nuclear powers was beyond stupid—the speech was godawful. Don’t believe me, just go look at it again. Weirdly, he had to start the speech by attempting to explain to all of us that he isn’t a bigot. Well, he is. And no speech, even one he poorly read off a teleprompter, will change that. His reputation for divisive bigotry can’t be heeled by reading a few paragraphs from a speech delivered in front of the troops.

In any case, the great Steve Benen tweeted this morning:

Missing elements in Tr-mp’s new Afghanistan policy: details, objectives, goals, troop levels, a strategy for success

That was a sober analysis of the over-staged speech, over-staged to make Tr-mp appear to be a respected leader. But that sober judgment by Steve Benen was largely an rucker tweetexception among journalists paid to offer both instant and thoughtful analysis, often not the same thing. And no journalist deserves more scorn (and he’s received plenty) after last night’s speech than The Washington Post’s White House Bureau Chief, Philip Rucker. Immediately after Agent Orange was finished, Rucker, now infamously, tweeted:

Tonight is a new President Tr-mp: Acknowledging a flip-flop and talking about gravity of office, history & substance.

That IQ-less utterance nearly takes your breath away. Whatever gains journalism has made since its often disgraceful performance during the 2016 election were put in jeopardy by that one DC-insider’s tweet. More nonsense followed this morning, led by another Post stalwart, David Ignatius. He was talking on MSNBC about how “somber” and “straightforward” the speech was and how it essentially demonstrated that Tr-mp may, after all, be learning the hard realities of the presidency even “if he doesn’t have a plan to win.” Jesus.

Utter bullshit. Disgraceful. And it is utter bullshit and disgraceful because all of these people know, or should know, that we have a man in the White’s House who essentially has to have generals babysitting him or he just might destroy the world with his stupidity and unfixable ignorance. Think about that. We have to have generals and retired generals protect us from a civilian commander-in-chief.

But I digress.

The White House was given credit by pundits for its months-long “deliberative” process on the Afghanistan war, a war now old enough to drive. But I’m old enough to remember when President Obama was accused of “dithering” when he took his time to actually study the issues involved and make the best decision he thought possible. Does anyone who has been paying attention for the last two years think Tr-mp actually studied the issues for more than five minutes? Huh? Yet he got great credit from Beltway types for actually “listening” to all around him and weighing his options. Yikes.

Much of the initial reaction to this speech was really depressing, is what I’m saying. It’s as if the last two years were figments of our collective imaginations. It’s as if some people forgot that the only thing Tr-mp cares about in Afghanistan or anywhere else is how it will make him look. He listened to his generals on this one because they essentially told him that if he does what he said he’d do during the campaign, the war in Afghanistan would most definitely be lost and Tr-mp would be branded a loser. That’s all it took. We all know that. There were no high-level “intellectual” discussions at Camp David (one silly analysis I heard this morning) involving Tr-mp. It was simply: If you back out, the loss will be blamed on you. And that was enough.

Here is what the speech, as bad as it was, amounted to: In Afghanistan we will have more of the same quasi-nation building (disguised as “training”), except now the generals will be in complete command, troops will be closer to the action, more bombs will fall and more civilians will be killed, and the American people won’t know in advance how many more U.S. soldiers will be deployed, or how long this “new strategy” will last, or what winning will look like when it is over, if it ever is.

Oh, and now we have to worry about increased nuclearized tensions between Pakistan and India. Oh, and the Russians, who are supporting the Taliban in Afghanistan, received nary a negative word from Agent Orange. Not one. Nothing. Silence, but no surprise.

That was it. That was what the New York Times’ Maggie Haberman unbelievably called “his best speech as POTUS [sic].” That speech was essentially a pathological liar asking Americans to embrace a trust-me-I’ve-never-lied-to-you policy in Afghanistan. Be my guest and trust him, if that’s what you want to do. But not me.

And now he’s off to Phoenix to resume his role as leader of his personality cult.

Here’s One Monument Tr-mp Didn’t Mind Dishonoring

A few days ago, Tr-mp, morally confused, equated Nazis with those fighting Nazis. He equated racist haters with those fighting racism and hate. He conflated imperfect nation-building revolutionaries in 1776 with slavery-defending traitors in 1861. But that wasn’t enough. Today he tweeted:

Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments.

He was, of course, referring to the treacherous heroes of haters, people like Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. And Tr-mp finished with this:

…the beauty that is being taken out of our cities, towns and parks will be greatly missed and never able to be comparably replaced!

It’s not odd that Tr-mp sides with the haters. And it’s not odd that he does so rather robustly and openly. What is odd is that he expresses such profound regard for “our beautiful statues and monuments,” considering he launched his political career by dumping his orange doo-doo—birtherism—on one of the most important monuments to the greatness of America: President Barack Obama.

Ten Augusts ago, during the crowded Democratic primary season of 2007, not many people thought a black man with a strange name would win the nomination of the Democratic Party—once the home of segregationists and other racists—not to mention win the presidency of a nation whose economic power was initially built on the backs of slaves. But win he did. And his win was truly monumental. And Donald Tr-mp, like a diarrhea-plagued pigeon, pooped all over our first African-American president, the living monument to the most prominent promise of America, the radical idea that some of us are still trying to perfect: that no matter who you are or where you came from, you are free to craft your own future.

Obama’s acceptance speech at the Democratic Convention in 2008 featured these words:

Four years ago, I stood before you and told you my story—of the brief union between a young man from Kenya and a young woman from Kansas who weren’t well-off or well-known, but shared a belief that in America, their son could achieve whatever he put his mind to.

It is that promise that has always set this country apart – that through hard work and sacrifice, each of us can pursue our individual dreams but still come together as one American family, to ensure that the next generation can pursue their dreams as well.

That’s why I stand here tonight. Because for two hundred and thirty-two years, at each moment when that promise was in jeopardy, ordinary men and women – students and soldiers, farmers and teachers, nurses and janitors — found the courage to keep it alive.

From Tr-mp’s embrace of racist birtherism to his labeling the free press his “enemy” and “the enemy of the people” to his advocacy of political and police violence to this week’s purposeful equivocation regarding the moral status of white supremacists and Nazis, he has been crapping on many of America’s greatest monuments, while defending its bad ones.

And he has never apologized—and never will—for desecrating that national monument named Barack Hussein Obama.

“Just Because They Claim They’re Christians”

Perhaps you’ve seen him on CNN. Or maybe on NBC’s Meet the Press. Or maybe at a rare Tr-mp press conference, when he was doing his job of Chief Political Correspondent for wacky televangelist Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network, the Tr-mp-friendly place where slanted and misleading and fake conservative “news” was first invented.

Image result for david brody and cbn newsWell, today I saw him, David Brody, on MSNBC, defending Donald Tr-mp’s obvious reluctance to call out his friends on the right who happen to be Nazis, white supremacists, and some who express sympathy for the terrorist who killed Heather Heyer with his car on Saturday in Charlottesville. Brody’s appearance today was shameful in many ways, considering Brody proudly calls himself an evangelical Christian and may be the most well-known “journalist” who does. But it was not surprising for me to hear him defending Tr-mp.

Way back in 2016, Brody wrote a piece for USA Today (“Donald Tr-mp’s appeal to evangelicals is real: David Brody”) that essentially predicted how well Tr-mp would do with conservative evangelicals. He wrote:

Explaining this attraction is not as hard as it seems. On the surface, you see the potential warts: three marriagesa pro-choice past, salty language delivered by a New Yorker, and the list goes on. To be sure, Tr-mp would not be Central Casting’s prototype evangelical candidate. Name-calling along with the hefty ego aren’t sought after character traits.

But something is resonating. You see, Tr-mp operates in a world of absolutes where there are winners and losers; there is the right way and the wrong way. In short, it’s a world painted in black and white. Evangelicals see the world in much the same way, in that accepting Jesus is the only way to heaven and the Bible is the inerrant word of God. They are publicly ridiculed for their unbending, non-negotiable approach, just as Tr-mp is widely mocked for his adamant positions. It’s called a common psychological bond.

Now, it is hard for some of us to understand how anyone, much less people who profess to follow a craftsman from Palestine who went around telling people to turn the other cheek, can have a “psychological bond” to a sick bully like Tr-mp, but Brody turned out to be right. Without right-wing evangelical support, Tr-mp would be guest-hosting for Sean Hannity right now and still whining about a “rigged” election.

But Brody wrote something else I find interesting:

The Tr-mp brand also includes a lack of political correctness. Combine that with his tough talk on fighting terrorism, temporarily banning Muslims coming into the USA and taking the fight to the Islamic State terrorist group (seize the oil!), and what you get is an attentive congregation. Why? Because the persecution of Christians overseas and fighting radical Islam are top-tier issues for evangelicals. The fact that terrorism is the top concern of Americans this election cycle only helps Tr-mp’s cause. After all, ISIL is brash and in-your-face, and Tr-mp is just as brash.

Well, well, well. What have we here? Forget the fact that Tr-mp’s in-your-face brashness was on vacation this weekend, when he could have used it to confront racist- and hate-fueled violence that was essentially done in his name, done, in many cases, in the name of the white Christian nationalism that Tr-mp and Steve Bannon promoted and rode into the White’s House. Forget that. Notice the phrase “fighting radical Islam”? You notice how Brody tells us that conservative evangelicals fell in love with Tr-mp partly because he was for “temporarily banning Muslims coming into the USA”?

What Brody was doing, and what he correctly noted was important on the Religious Right, was branding all of Islam by the actions of a few. In fact, Tr-mp figured out early on that this is what made him so popular with what he often calls “the evangelicals.” He constantly harped on President Obama’s refusal to say “radical Islamic terrorism,” Obama not wanting to brand the sociopathy behind ISIS and other violent groups as a true expression of Islam. But Tr-mp said the phrase so often and so loudly that it was clear he had no qualms—Tr-mp is pathologically qualm-proof—about painting an entire religion with an extremist brush. Remember, Brody told us part of his appeal was his black-and-white brashness.

Well, the shoe is now on the other hypocritical hoof.

Today on MSNBC, I heard Brody say the following, while he was defending Tr-mp’s indefensible behavior:

Evangelical Christian leaders all have a responsibility to denounce all of this by name, KKK, neo-Nazis.  They have nothing, nothing—AND LET ME SAY THAT IN ALL CAPS—nothing to do with true biblical Christianity at all. Because, remember, just because they claim they’re Christians doesn’t mean it’s so.

Remember, y’all. Remember. Whenever you hear Mr. Two Corinthians broad-brushing Islam with the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism”—when you hear about yet another one of his shady business deals or how he cheated or groped someone—when you hear about another Tr-mp connection to Russian oligarchs—when you hear him avoid criticizing Vladimir Putin and David Duke—that just because someone claims to be a Christian doesn’t mean it is so.

But given what Mr. Two Corinthians and the Religious Right have done to Christianity, in Tr-mp’s case maybe it does.

The Basest of the Base

There will, of course, be other Nazi-nationalist rallies peopled mostly by men, angry and white. Maybe there will be more Heather Heyers, victims of home-grown and home-nourished terrorism, victims of a redundancy: hate and Tr-mpism. Maybe more cops will die trying to manage the hostility created by gun- and shield-wielding white supremacists, terrorists who by their very behavior betray the stupidity of their centuries-old claim. Maybe Tr-mp will again try to play a sick game of avoiding placing the blame where it belongs, on the basest of his debased base—the deplorables.

Image result for violence in charlottesvilleWe can be sure there will be more turmoil because the fight in this case, as in all the others like it, is over the perceived loss of white identity, which is really the expected and inevitable loss of white cultural privilege. The perception of those losses will only intensify over time among those who fear a browning horizon, who fear a population wishing to move past the sins of our forefathers by removing monuments to stubborn ignorance, monuments to the sin of our slavery-condoning past—monuments to treason.

This latest terrorist attack was connected to a plan to relocate a statue of Robert E. Lee that stands in a park in downtown Charlottesville, Virginia. Back in May of this year, a vocal Tr-mp supporter named Richard Spencer appeared at a more peaceful protest of the removal and relocation and stated the case of the hopelessly hateful:

We will not be replaced from this world. Whites have a future. We have a future of power, of beauty, of expression.

It should be noted that Robert E. Lee had no real connection to the city of Charlottesville. The statue was donated to the city in 1924, at a time when white people desperately wanted to send a message to African-Americans that they were, and would remain, second-class “citizens.” This period was the high-water mark for the Ku Klux Klan. As History.com notes,

At its peak in the 1920s, Klan membership exceeded 4 million people nationwide.

Thus, there is a nexus in some white minds between monuments to Lee and white supremacy, even if many of those white minds try to hide behind the excuse that “it’s our history,” and that “revisionists” want to alter the historical record. I know this because more than six years ago I wrote a piece titled, “Robert E. Lee And The Romance Of Rebellion.” In that short piece, which featured a lively discussion in the comment section, I wrote:

I have always wondered why it is that so many people considered Robert E. Lee a hero, this disloyal Union officer who betrayed his country, who owned slaves and led men into battle to preserve the right of white men to buy and sell black families like cattle.

I ended that post with this:

I don’t think you will find many statues of Erwin Rommel in Germany, or visit any Erwin Rommel High Schools, but in the American South, there are plenty of monuments to Robert E. Lee.

One has to wonder why that is.

Now, one has to wonder why the relocation of a statue of Robert E. Lee, a traitor to his country, is worth taking the life of a 32-year-old girl, who was in Charlottesville to protest a racist “Unite the Right” rally, and who, her mother said, “always had a very strong sense of right and wrong” and “was very caught up in what she believed to be fair.”

And one has to wonder why a man pretending to be the President of the United States, cannot condemn—by name—the movement that killed Heather Heyer, or the movement whose racist rally led to the death of two state troopers. His first instinct was to muddy the moral waters with a false equivalence between the Nazis and those who opposed them. (By tomorrow, he likely will have a more sober and civilized response, having been shamed into it by nearly every ethically sane man and woman in America.)

In truth, one doesn’t have to wonder about Tr-mp’s strange non-condemnation of white supremacy. In December of 2015, Politico published an article (“White supremacist groups see Trump bump“) that began this way:

The Ku Klux Klan is using Donald Tr-mp as a talking point in its outreach efforts. Stormfront, the most prominent American white supremacist website, is upgrading its servers in part to cope with a Tr-mp traffic spike. And former Louisiana Rep. David Duke reports that the businessman has given more Americans cover to speak out loud about white nationalism than at any time since his own political campaigns in the 1990s.

Not quite a year later, many white supremacists celebrated Tr-mp’s hiring Steve Bannon to be his White House Chief Strategist. Bannon is, at the very least, a white nationalist, as the University of Virginia’s Larry Sabato pointed out today on CNN, saying Tr-mp should “fire all the white nationalists on his staff, starting with Steve Bannon.”

Yesterday afternoon, after Tr-mp spoke about the tragic events in Charlottesville, a terrorism-supporting freak from the racist, anti-Semitic alt-right wrote:

Tr-mp comments were good. He didn’t attack us. He just said the nation should come together. Nothing specific against us.

He said that we need to study why people are so angry, and implied that there was hate… on both sides!

So he implied the antifa are haters.

There was virtually no counter-signaling of us at all.

He said he loves us all.

Also refused to answer a question about White Nationalists supporting him.

No condemnation at all.

When asked to condemn, he just walked out of the room.

Really, really good.

God bless him.

God? God bless him? Is this Radical Christian Terrorism? You be the judge. But before you judge, consider what that same right-wing Nazi freak wrote recently:

…whatever you think of Christianity, it was the glue that bound white people together as a single race.

And whatever you think of Christianity, the best society you can live in is a White Christian society.

That sociopath who praised Tr-mp for refusing to specifically condemn people like him is named Andrew Anglin. And he just published a piece about the victim of the terrorists in Charlottesville titled (I won’t link to it),

Heather Heyer: Woman Killed in Road Rage Incident was a Fat, Childless 32-Year-Old Slut

He said:

Despite feigned outrage by the media, most people are glad she is dead, as she is the definition of uselessness. A 32-year-old woman without children is a burden on society and has no value.

These are the people Tr-mp protects with his sickening silence. And if we are supposed to call those militant zealots who are very loosely connected to mainstream Muslim faith “radical Islamic terrorists”—and Tr-mp insists very loudly they are—then Andrew Anglin qualifies as a radical Christian terrorist, even if he doesn’t consider himself “especially religious.”

Whatever he is, we know he is a Tr-mp supporter. And Tr-mp knows it, too.

Two Kinds Of Madmen

The precipitous and dangerous drama still unfolding between the United States and North Korea, essentially between Dim and Kim, was entirely predictable, for those of us who know how mentally unstable and sadly insecure Tr-mp is. And now that we are fairly confident that the North Koreans are farther along the path to being a nuclear power with ICBMs than most experts had previously estimated (funny how intelligence reports are not questioned by Tr-mp these days), the situation comes down to the decisions of two alleged madmen and whether one or the other or both will be restrained by reason.

For the purpose of this post, I want to define two kinds of madness that I believe is infecting the minds of the men who fate, or a nasty God, has put in charge of weapons of mass destruction. First there is Tr-mp. No need to go on at length about what ails him. His mental challenges have been discussed endlessly here and everywhere (see this 9-minute segment, “Real Doctors Diagnose Tr-mp”). One prominent psychologist, John Gartner, has pronounced him a “paranoid psychopathic narcissist,” for instance. But even if you are inclined to think that such a professional diagnosis is too wild in this case, you have to admit that you really don’t need a PhD to see that Tr-mp’s day-to-day behavior reveals some kind of severely disordered mind. That’s clear to even many of his followers, who seem to like that aspect of his personality, even if they call it something like “unpredictability.”

Then there is Kim Jong-un. If you have followed the news the last several days, you have seen or heard many people try to assess the mental state of Kim. Is he sane? Is he a madman? Is he a rational actor? The fact that no one seems to know for sure is what makes this drama so dumb and dangerous. Tr-mp himself told Philippine President Duterte that Kim “could be crazy.” If so, why tempt him to act on his craziness? Why talk like a middle-school bully and put the lives of millions at risk? What if Ivanka or Tr-mp’s two creepy older sons were living in Seoul? Would he tempt Kim with stupid bluster?

Back in April, CNN’s Jake Tapper asked chief of staff John Kelly (he was Secretary of Homeland Security at the time), “Do you think Kim Jong-un is mentally unbalanced?” Kelly said:

Oh, heck, I don’t know. He seems like someone who knows what he’s doing. I mean, clearly, the number one thing in his mind is to remain in power. I think in the dynamic of a dictatorship like that, he’s got to do that by convincing everyone around him—first of all holding them all in stark terror—and convincing everyone around him that he’s a strong man and is willing to stand up, and all the rest of the rhetoric. I think the only way to decide whether he’s insane or not is to lay him down on the couch and have a battalion’s worth of psychiatrists talk to him and figure it out.

So, Kelly says Kim “knows what he’s doing” but isn’t sure if he’s sane or insane. Okay, then. That clears that up.

Our relatively weak Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, has his opinion, which, also in April, he offered to Fox “News”:

All indications…by intelligence agencies, and there have been a number of independent psychologists who have done analysis as best they can, all indications are that he is not crazy. He may be ruthless. He may be a murderer. He may be someone who in many respects we would say by our standards is irrational. But he is not insane.

That observation made me think of something G. K. Chesterton wrote in his book, Orthodoxy:

Every one who has had the misfortune to talk with people in the heart or on the edge of mental disorder, knows that their most sinister quality is a horrible clarity of detail; a connecting of one thing with another in a map more elaborate than a maze. If you argue with a madman, it is extremely probable that you will get the worst of it; for in many ways his mind moves all the quicker for not being delayed by the things that go with good judgment. He is not hampered by a sense of humour or by charity, or by the dumb certainties of experience. He is the more logical for losing certain sane affections. Indeed, the common phrase for insanity is in this respect a misleading one. The madman is not the man who has lost his reason. The madman is the man who has lost everything except his reason.

That’s Kim Jung-un. Clearly, if you examine his behavioral history, you see a madman who has demonstrated no “sane affections.” He seems to only use reason in service to his maniacal pursuit of perpetual power and existence as an unchallengable cult figure to “his” people. Because there does seem to be potential for a transactional understanding with such a madman, there is some hope that diplomacy can somehow de-escalate the present situation until a more solid diplomatic effort (including help from the Chinese and other world players) can find a possible solution to the long-term problem of a nuclear North Korea with world-threatening ICBMs.

Image result for kim jong un and trump face swapThe problem is that Tr-mp, displaying the kind of madness not conducive to the patience of diplomacy, can’t keep his undisciplined mouth out of this situation. I reject the idea, advanced by some silly pundits, that there is a method to Tr-mp’s magniloquent madness, that he and his advisers have a “strategy” behind all the sophomoric bluster. No. To Tr-mp this is a reality TV test of wills—a game of chicken. Except it’s not Tr-mp sitting in the car, but millions of Koreans, North and South, who will pay the bloody price if Kim overreacts and takes the dare or if Tr-mp orders a foolish pre-emptive strike after a minor act of provocation. And that fact, that innocents will die unnecessarily, is what should be the focus of all the news coverage of this crisis.

What we have here is a sick man, acting foolishly as our commander-in-chief, playing a dangerous game with a North Korean madman devoid of natural human emotions. And if this ends without bloodshed this time, this drama will unfortunately have a sequel—unless we can rid ourselves of the madman on our side and then begin to exhaust all diplomatic and non-military solutions before we think the unthinkable.

The Dopey Leading The Dope

For years now, I have accused Fox & Friends, the morning show Tr-mp loves, of being an IQ-murdering, brain-baking embarrassment to American life. Yesterday, Vox pubished a piece (“We analyzed 17 months of Fox & Friends transcripts. It’s far weirder than state-run media.“) with the sub-header: “How the Fox morning show evolved into Donald Tr-mp’s posse.” Yes, the unprosecuted p-ssy prodder has a posse:

What we found is that Fox & Friends has a symbiotic relationship with Trump that is far weirder and more interesting than state media. Instead of talking for Trump, they are talking to him.

Naturally, the juvenility that defines Fox & Friends appeals to the lazy, uninformed teenager in the White’s House. And the hosts take advantage of his interest in the anti-intelligence programming they offer—and his pathologically abbreviated attention span—in order to give him advice. And, sadly for the country, the man who has to essentially have coloring book intelligence briefings frequently listens.

If you’ve ever spent 30 minutes with Fox & Friends (may a couple of your IQ points Rest in Peace, by the way), then the idea that these simpletons are giving advice to Agent Orange and that Agent Orange heeds some of it, should make you very restless at night. Every night. Because the next morning—seven days a week—brings another episode of Fox & Friends.

The good news is that when Steve Doocy, Brian Kilmeade, and Ainsley Earhardt get on the air and publicly tell Tr-mp how to handle North Korea, at least we’ll have a few minutes lag time to get in our bomb shelters. Or if, like me, you don’t have one of those, to pick up a 30-pack or your medication of choice.

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