Democrats. Filibuster Gorsuch. Period.

It’s an odd moment for me. Antonin Scalia, believe it or not, died almost a year ago. You know, he died when Barack Obama was still president, still had almost a year to go. Tonight I watched that Orange Asshole, pretending to be the legitimate successor to President Obama, ineptly and embarrassingly nominate a Supreme Court justice—a nomination stolen from our first African-American president—and all I could think of was Jill F-cking Stein. How weird is that?

Excuse me, if that language offends you. I’m sorry. But I have always been honest on this blog. My feelings are pretty much out there most of the time. And I have nothing but contempt not only for Jill Stein and her Russian-aided candidacy, but for all of those on the left who voted for her, knowing she had no chance of winning and that their vote would heJill Stein by Gage Skidmore.jpglp the Orange Asshole, and bring us to this day. This day.

Long after Stein is dead and buried—and her pro-Tr-mp legacy is sealed in history—Judge Neil Gorsuch will, if he is confirmed and his life expectancy plays out, be ruling against everything those of us who lean left—including those of us who want a country that is more than a asylum for right-wing Christian biblical bigotry—hold dear.

And, goddammit, I can’t help but think, tonight of all nights, that it is people like Jill Stein (and others I could name but won’t bother to)—pretending to be such advanced, progressive thinkers—who have helped make future reactionary rulings on the Supreme Court a real possibility.

The only thing we can hope is that Democrats in the Senate will abandon some kind of previously-reported stupid strategy to let this nomination go through without a filibuster—are you listening, Claire McCaskill?—for fear that Mitch McConnell and the Republicans in the Senate will do away with the filibuster forever for Supreme Court nominations.

Call their bluff, Democrats. Grow a damned spine. There are hints Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and other Senate Democrats are going to demand 60 votes for his confirmation, the ghost of a still-living Judge Merrick Garland haunting their political souls. That’s great news, if it holds up. For once, Democrats should play the game the other side plays without fear. Republicans won’t always have the Senate. If they use the so-called nuclear option and end the filibuster, so be it. This is not the end of American politics unless, God forbid, the Orange Asshole gets us all killed before midnight tomorrow or some other day. If we survive Tr-mp’s stupidity, if we survive the Holy War some of his closest advisers are waiting to wage, we will eventually get back control of the government, including the Senate.

I say again to Senate Democrats: Filibuster this nomination and demand a centrist nominee, if for no other reason, out of respect for the first African-American president who was treated like three-fifths of a person and a president, when he was denied his right to fill this seat on the Court.

We don’t need a young version of Antonin Scalia—no matter how “respectable” and “conventional” Gorsuch might be presented to us by pundits on TV—to entertain Court watchers with his writing and terrorize the rest of us with his rulings. I want to share with you a glowing review of Neil Gorsuch from a right-wing lawyer who directs a reactionary group called the Ethics & Public Policy Center, a group whose mission is “dedicated to applying the Judeo-Christian moral tradition to critical issues of public policy.”

That lawyer and director, Edward Whelan, writing for the conservative extremist publication, National Review, said he expects Gorsuch “to be an eminently worthy successor” to Antonin Scalia because he is a “dedicated originalist and textualist” whose many talents promise to give him an “outsized influence on future generations of lawyers.” Whelan reminds us that Gorsuch was a “National Review Online contributor” before he became a judge. In that capacity, Gorsuch wrote in 2005:

American liberals have become addicted to the courtroom, relying on judges and lawyers rather than elected leaders and the ballot box, as the primary means of effecting their social agenda on everything from gay marriage to assisted suicide to the use of vouchers for private-school education.”

Those are not the words of a respectable and conventional nominee. Those are the words of a Scalia extremist. And the only people who have a chance of stopping Neil Gorsuch from becoming a Supreme Court justice are Senate Democrats. And if they want to be on the right side of history, if they truly want to be part of the movement that will eventually sweep away Trumpism and its poisonous GOP enablers some fine day, they will fight like hell to make sure Neil Gorsuch never takes a seat on the Supreme Court.

Steve Bannon And His Holy War

As if to remind us that bad people can get into power when good or indifferent or aggrieved people put them there, Brunhilde Pomsel, who spent three years working for Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, died this past weekend. She was 106 years old.

In a film about her life released last year, Pomsel said,

I wouldn’t see myself as being guilty. Unless you end up blaming the entire German population for ultimately enabling that government to take control. That was all of us. Including me.

"I'm not the kind of person to resist," said Pomsel in the film "A German Life." "I wouldn't dare to. I'm one of the cowards."I know I have often wondered what I would have done if I had lived in Germany in the 1930s and early 1940s. We should remember that the resistance to Nazism started long before Hitler began to exterminate the Jews and other “inferior” people and make war in Europe. Some people saw it coming and, of course, we all would like to think we would have been dissidents like, say, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the Lutheran pastor and theologian who passionately resisted the Nazis and paid for it with his life. Part of a group of resisters whose plot to kill Adolph Hitler failed in July of 1944, Bonhoeffer was hanged in April of 1945, just two weeks before the concentration camp in which he was held was liberated by U.S. troops. Another two weeks after that, Nazi Germany was no more.

Brunhilde Pomsel addressed those who, far from the real-time dominance of Nazism in pre-war Germany, still have harsh words for Germans who didn’t do enough to stop what we can all today clearly see as unspeakable horror:

The people who today say they would have done more for those poor, persecuted Jews… I really believe that they sincerely mean it. But they wouldn’t have done it either. By then the whole country was under some kind of dome. We ourselves were all inside a huge concentration camp.

I don’t want to overstate this. I want to be careful. America under Tr-mp is no concentration camp. There is no “dome” over the country. We see massive protests against Tr-mp’s actions almost on a daily basis. The ACLU is enjoying massive fundraising to fight those actions in court. We see something that looks like unparalleled historical resistance to Trumpism. But as we can also see, Trumpism is different from anything we have witnessed in modern American history and we don’t know how this will all end. Therefore, we need to try to understand it.

No doubt you have heard by now that Tr-mp gave his chief political strategist, Steven Bannon, former head of a white nationalist-racist website called Breitbart “News,” a regular seat on the National Security Council, while reportedly downgrading the roles of the director of national intelligence and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. There has been a lot written about this already, and a lot written about Bannon, but, like so many other events surrounding the strange and dangerous times in which we are living, I want my views on the record.

We don’t have to speculate what is in the mind of Steve Bannon. We have the website he ran, which is itself enough to scare anyone who can read. But we also have an eye-opening, heart-stopping Skype appearance he made in 2014 at a conference put on by a right-wing Christian group (“think tank”) called the Dignitatis Humanae Institute. Here is how the group—which is closely tied to reactionaries within the Catholic Church, most of whom don’t at all like Pope Francis—describe their mission:

Our primary aim is to promote this vision of authentic human dignity mainly by supporting Christians in public life, assisting them in presenting effective and coherent responses to increasing efforts to silence the Christian voice in the public square.

Now, you can easily see that the premise for this mission is that Christianity—read: Western Christian Civilization, since the focus of this group is in Europe—is under siege. Christians are being attacked by secularists. They are being attacked by Muslims. They are being marginalized, “silenced.” The response to this clash of civilizations, at least for DHI, is “through the active participation of the Christian faith in the public square.” To that end, they invited Steve Bannon, who they now feature on their website, to address their 2014 conference at the Vatican.

Buzzfeed has helpfully transcribed Bannon’s remarks, which are available in an audio version and some excerpts on YouTube. I will provide long passages of his thoughts here (which I have highlighted), and ask you to keep in mind that this man may be closer to Donald Tr-mp than anyone around him. Bannon essentially sleeps in Tr-mp’s troubled mind. Here you go:

I want to talk about wealth creation and what wealth creation really can achieve and maybe take it in a slightly different direction, because I believe the world, and particularly the Judeo-Christian West, is in a crisis. And it’s really the organizing principle of how we built Breitbart News to really be a platform to bring news and information to people throughout the world. Principally in the West, but we’re expanding internationally to let people understand the depths of this crisis, and it is a crisis both of capitalism but really of the underpinnings of the Judeo-Christian West in our beliefs.

It’s ironic, I think, that we’re talking today at exactly, tomorrow, 100 years ago, at the exact moment we’re talking, the assassination took place in Sarajevo of Archduke Franz Ferdinand that led to the end of the Victorian era and the beginning of the bloodiest century in mankind’s history. Just to put it in perspective, with the Image result for steve bannon with donald trumpassassination that took place 100 years ago tomorrow in Sarajevo, the world was at total peace. There was trade, there was globalization, there was technological transfer, the High Church of England and the Catholic Church and the Christian faith was predominant throughout Europe of practicing Christians. Seven weeks later, I think there were 5 million men in uniform and within 30 days there were over a million casualties.

That war triggered a century of barbaric — unparalleled in mankind’s history — virtually 180 to 200 million people were killed in the 20th century, and I believe that, you know, hundreds of years from now when they look back, we’re children of that: We’re children of that barbarity. This will be looked at almost as a new Dark Age.

But the thing that got us out of it, the organizing principle that met this, was not just the heroism of our people — whether it was French resistance fighters, whether it was the Polish resistance fighters, or it’s the young men from Kansas City or the Midwest who stormed the beaches of Normandy, commandos in England that fought with the Royal Air Force, that fought this great war, really the Judeo-Christian West versus atheists, right? The underlying principle is an enlightened form of capitalism, that capitalism really gave us the wherewithal. It kind of organized and built the materials needed to support, whether it’s the Soviet Union, England, the United States, and eventually to take back continental Europe and to beat back a barbaric empire in the Far East.

That capitalism really generated tremendous wealth. And that wealth was really distributed among a middle class, a rising middle class, people who come from really working-class environments and created what we really call a Pax Americana. It was many, many years and decades of peace. And I believe we’ve come partly offtrack in the years since the fall of the Soviet Union and we’re starting now in the 21st century, which I believe, strongly, is a crisis both of our church, a crisis of our faith, a crisis of the West, a crisis of capitalism.

As you can see, Bannon is not a stupid man. Unlike Tr-mp, he has been educated, as well as indoctrinated. He has a philosophical-theological view of the world that goes way beyond anything Tr-mp is capable of grasping, let alone articulating. Bannon goes on in his talk to describe three distinct forms of capitalism. He negatively discusses “crony capitalism” and “Ayn Rand or the Objectivist School of libertarian capitalism,” contrasted against “the ‘enlightened capitalism’ of the Judeo-Christian West.” He worries that young people are being seduced by Randian capitalism:

And if they don’t see another alternative, it’s going to be an alternative that they gravitate to under this kind of rubric of “personal freedom.”

Bannon then mentions “an immense secularization of the West,” which he again ties to our youth:

I know we’ve talked about secularization for a long time, but if you look at younger people, especially millennials under 30, the overwhelming drive of popular culture is to absolutely secularize this rising iteration.

So, Bannon is worried about young people being attracted to a selfish form of capitalism and a secularization of culture, which secularization many find liberating, but people like Bannon find threatening.

Next, he turns to ISIS and its use of “the tools of capitalism,” including Twitter and Facebook, crowdsourcing, and so on. The intent, though, seems again to cast ISIS in a struggle against the Christian West. He says,

They have driven 50,000 Christians out of a town near the Kurdish border. We have video that we’re putting up later today on Breitbart where they’ve took 50 hostages and thrown them off a cliff in Iraq.

That war is expanding and it’s metastasizing to sub-Saharan Africa. We have Boko Haram and other groups that will eventually partner with ISIS in this global war, and it is, unfortunately, something that we’re going to have to face, and we’re going to have to face very quickly.

Now, it is important to note here, first, that these Islamic extremist groups kill many more Muslims than Christians. Bannon focused only on the awful death of Christians. Second, ISIS is not conducting anything that can be called a “global war.” Even in 2014, when Bannon spoke these words, ISIS was not a threat to the world in the sense that it constituted a force that could destroy Western Civilization. ISIS could and can strike Western civilians here and there, mostly through “inspired” cells or individuals, and they are fighting and losing against Western-trained and supervised Muslim soldiers, but they had and have no ability to build and hold a caliphate. They are losing ground every day.

But this elevated idea of “radical Islamic terrorism” is a powerful one among many Christians in the West, especially reactionaries who, like Bannon, believe several forces are at “war” with Christianity and the civilization it both created and then “saved.” All right-wing media is obsessed with this idea. You see it everywhere, particularly on Fox “News.” And Bannon’s Breitbart.com is now perhaps the number one purveyor of this view worldwide.

In any case, during his Skype talk beamed into the Vatican, Bannon went on to appeal to the moral “purpose”of legitimate “Christian” capitalism and gave the gathered Christian reactionaries a chillingly misguided view of the world:

So I think the discussion of, should we put a cap on wealth creation and distribution? It’s something that should be at the heart of every Christian that is a capitalist — “What is the purpose of whatever I’m doing with this wealth? What is the purpose of what I’m doing with the ability that God has given us, that divine providence has given us to actually be a creator of jobs and a creator of wealth?”

I think it really behooves all of us to really take a hard look and make sure that we are reinvesting that back into positive things. But also to make sure that we understand that we’re at the very beginning stages of a global conflict, and if we do not bind together as partners with others in other countries that this conflict is only going to metastasize.

They have a Twitter account up today, ISIS does, about turning the United States into a “river of blood” if it comes in and tries to defend the city of Baghdad. And trust me, that is going to come to Europe. That is going to come to Central Europe, it’s going to come to Western Europe, it’s going to come to the United Kingdom. And so I think we are in a crisis of the underpinnings of capitalism, and on top of that we’re now, I believe, at the beginning stages of a global war against Islamic fascism.

There’s that term “global war” again. That is how these people see the world. There is a cosmic struggle going on between the forces of good—Christianity and the capitalist civilization it built in Europe and the U.S.—and the forces of evil—secularization and “Islamic fascism,” which as we now know with Tr-mp’s latest Executive Order on travel restrictions, has essentially been reduced to simply Islam.

Bannon’s global war involves American teapartiers, as well as teapartiers in Europe, who are, he says, on the side of “middle-class and working-class people.” This is where the idea of populism is married to extremist Christianity. This is the hook that helped Tr-mp pull in a crucial number of working-class voters in crucial places in November. Bannon calls it a “center-right revolt” that “is really a global revolt.” He says the 2007-2008 financial crisis and the government’s response to it fueled the rise of the tea party. He says the “bailouts in 2008 were wrong.” In so many ways on this subject, Bannon sounds like Bernie Sanders. Like here:

So you can understand why middle-class people having a tough go of it making $50 or $60 thousand a year and see their taxes go up, and they see that their taxes are going to pay for government sponsored bailouts, what you’ve created is really a free option. You say to this investment banking, create a free option for bad behavior. In otherwise all the upside goes to the hedge funds and the investment bank, and to the crony capitalist with stock increases and bonus increases. And their downside is limited, because middle-class people are going to come and bail them out with tax dollars.

And that’s what I think is fueling this populist revolt. Whether that revolt is in the Midlands of England, or whether it’s in Middle America. And I think people are fed up with it.

You can see how this message, which Tr-mp consistently voiced after Bannon came on board to provide some campaign message discipline, managed to bring a electorally sufficient number of Bernie supporters and union workers Tr-mp’s way. But this, again, is a troubling marriage of legitimate economic concerns about crony capitalism and Randian selfishness with a very dangerous narrative about Christianity involved in a holy war, particularly with Islam, which has some 1.6 billion adherents.

Bannon responded to a questioner at the event who asked what was “the major threat today, to the Judeo-Christian Civilization?” Bannon mentioned how “secularism has sapped the strength of the Judeo-Christian West to defend its ideals,” but then quickly pivoted to the real target:

But I strongly believe that whatever the causes of the current drive to the caliphate was — and we can debate them, and people can try to deconstruct them — we have to face a very unpleasant fact. And that unpleasant fact is that there is a major war brewing, a war that’s already global. It’s going global in scale, and today’s technology, today’s media, today’s access to weapons of mass destruction, it’s going to lead to a global conflict that I believe has to be confronted today. Every day that we refuse to look at this as what it is, and the scale of it, and really the viciousness of it, will be a day where you will rue that we didn’t act [unintelligible].

You can see that Bannon’s mindset—and he is absolutely convinced he is right—is that there is, already, an absolute clash of religions that will end in a real “global war” (again that term). If you need more convincing on how Donald Tr-mp’s closest adviser sees the world, and how the events around the world are dangerously and frighteningly cast as a holy war of honor, he ended his part of the discussion with an answer to another questioner, which I will present in full:

Questioner: One of my questions has to do with how the West should be responding to radical Islam. How, specifically, should we as the West respond to jihadism without losing our own soul? Because we can win the war and lose ourselves at the same time. How should the West respond to radical Islam and not lose itself in the process?

Bannon: From a perspective — this may be a little more militant than others. I think definitely you’re going to need an aspect that is [unintelligible]. I believe you should take a very, very, very aggressive stance against radical Islam. And I realize there are other aspects that are not as militant and not as aggressive and that’s fine.

If you look back at the long history of the Judeo-Christian West struggle against Islam, I believe that our forefathers kept their stance, and I think they did the right thing. I think they kept it out of the world, whether it was at Vienna, or Tours, or other places… It bequeathed to use the great institution that is the church of the West.

And I would ask everybody in the audience today, because you really are the movers and drivers and shakers and thought leaders in the Catholic Church today, is to think, when people 500 years from now are going to think about today, think about the actions you’ve taken — and I believe everyone associated with the church and associated with the Judeo-Christian West that believes in the underpinnings of that and believes in the precepts of that and want to see that bequeathed to other generations down the road as it was bequeathed to us, particularly as you’re in a city like Rome, and in a place like the Vatican, see what’s been bequeathed to us — ask yourself, 500 years from today, what are they going to say about me? What are they going to say about what I did at the beginning stages of this crisis?

Because it is a crisis, and it’s not going away. You don’t have to take my word for it. All you have to do is read the news every day, see what’s coming up, see what they’re putting on Twitter, what they’re putting on Facebook, see what’s on CNN, what’s on BBC. See what’s happening, and you will see we’re in a war of immense proportions. It’s very easy to play to our baser instincts, and we can’t do that. But our forefathers didn’t do it either. And they were able to stave this off, and they were able to defeat it, and they were able to bequeath to us a church and a civilization that really is the flower of mankind, so I think it’s incumbent on all of us to do what I call a gut check, to really think about what our role is in this battle that’s before us.

Wow.

Brunhilde Pomsel died this weekend. The Nazism she served died in 1945. One of the filmmakers who told her story spoke to CNN about meeting with her on her 106th birthday just weeks ago:

She was just an old woman, very weak. But she was still very interested in international politics. She hoped that her life story would be a warning to present and future generations about the dangers of right-wing extremism.

Let me be clear about this: Trumpism is right-wing extremism, even if it is divorced from Nazism or paleo-fascism or racism. It is right-wing extremism, even if it is married to legitimate concerns about the exploitation of the working class through crony capitalism or Randian economics. There is more than one feature to Trumpism’s ideology, just as Hitler’s Nazi Party featured prominently both German nationalism and antisemitism.

What does link these two ideologies, though, is the idea of cultural superiority and the idea that such superiority is being lost. In Hitler’s case, it was the superiority of the Aryan “master race” and the culture he was trying to restore to greatness, no matter the cost. In the case of Trumpism, as Steve Bannon represents it, the Christian West is under attack, its existence is gravely threatened, and it must be defended or else. Remember his description of what he is defending: “a church and a civilization that really is the flower of mankind.”

I happen to believe that what we call Western Civilization, as it has developed over time, is the best way to achieve the greatest amount of well-being for mankind. I don’t think there’s much doubt about that, given what we have seen throughout history. And whatever role Christianity played in its rise, the values that make our civilization the best of all the alternatives have nothing to do with the church, or the Church. If Western Civilization is a flower, it is not a Christian flower. It is not a Jewish or Islamic flower. We really shouldn’t consider it a Western flower. If it is truly valuable as a way to increase well-being in the world, rather than a mechanism to spread Christianity, it has to be truly “the flower of mankind.” All mankind, East and West.

And if we don’t push back on the view that Christian civilization is at war with the rest of the world, what we now call the West will, indeed, be at war with the rest of the world. Ironically, if Western Civilization is lost, it will be lost not because a small group of Islamic psychopaths destroyed it, but because Christian warriors pledging to defend it overreacted to a relatively small threat and betrayed its most essential values.

 

Trump Christians: This Is Your Legacy. You’d Better Hope To God There Isn’t A Hell.

I was out most of the day. This is what I came home to:

trump-christiansFrom the story:

WASHINGTON ― President Donald Trump signed an executive order Friday that bans Syrians from taking refuge in the United States, halts the U.S. refugee resettlement program for four months and temporarily blocks people from a handful of unnamed countries from entering the U.S. at all.

“I am establishing new vetting measures to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the United States of America. We don’t want them here,” he said at a swearing-in ceremony at the Pentagon for Secretary of Defense James Mattis. “We don’t want to admit into our country the very threats we are fighting overseas.”

Trump approved the refugee ban amid the biggest refugee crisis in history and on Holocaust Remembrance Day, which honors the millions of people killed during World War II, many of whom tried to flee to the U.S. but were turned away.

A warning to all door-knocking Trump-supporting Christians who will, on some future day, try to tell me about the love of Jesus: you’d best avoid my house. Because I’ll tell you where to put your version of Jesus, and I will wish you a long, long, long, stay in the Hell you so much want to scare me with. The little boy in the picture above is a testament to how phony you are. He’s a testament to how riddled with hypocrisy is your Republican-oriented “faith.” His death, face down in that sand, demonstrates how vapid and bankrupt and immoral is the Christianity you peddle on television, in your churches, on social media, and, God help you, in your politics.

Oh. One final word. If you think you’re all that much better than the ISIS bastards who are directly responsible for the death of that little boy in the sand, think again. You’re not all that much better. You are made of the same cloth. The corrupt, extremist theology that led to his death is tethered to the corrupt, extremist theology you embrace, a theology that doesn’t give a shit about the death of other little boys, or girls, or women, or men, fleeing from religious fanatics.

The stink of that theology, temporal or eternal, is upon all of you. And on this water-dominated planet, there isn’t enough water to wash it away.

Need More Proof Tr-mp Is Nuts? Oh, Okay. Here It Is In Three Parts.

So, Tr-mp is having a fight with the president of Mexico. Geeze, who could have predicted that? But for Tr-ump, it is a headline-grabber and a way to firm up his flabby manhood. He tweets out this morning that maybe huffpo-tr-mp-tweetEnrique Peña Nieto shouldn’t come to a meeting if Mexico doesn’t pay for a superfluous wall, blah, blah, blah. Journalists, out of breath, scramble around to tell us how momentous this might be. Then, as predictable as a Tr-mp tweet, Peña Nieto canceled his meeting.

Yeah, well, meanwhile the evidence continues to pile up indicating, without a doubt, that Agent Orange in the White’s House is, uh, nuts.

The transcript of David Muir’s interview with Tr-mp last night should be read by all Americans, at least those whose reading comprehension exceeds Tr-mp’s grade level. The entire thing should be read. Every single word. And it should be studied by all psychiatrists and psychologists and brain scientists around the world. It is something else. Watching the interview doesn’t do it justice, in terms of appreciating the sheer lunacy of Tr-mp. You have to read the words. You have to see with your reading eyes the way Tr-mp talks, his weird interjections of non sequiturs, his petty digressions, his ridiculous claims. Believe me, it’s different from watching it, which is bad and frightening enough. In any case, since this is the Internet, I will deal in length with what the interview revealed about our quasi-president because I want it as part of the record of this blog.

PART 1: The Anger Delusion

I will start with something most people have overlooked, in favor of the crazy stuff Tr-mp said about the voter fraud issue and torture and stealing oil and Obamacare and the “carnage” in Chicago and his disgraceful speech at CIA headquarters (I will get to a few of those things; this is, after all, only a three-part post and 5200 words is way more than most of you will read anyway). There was something Tr-mp said in that interview last night that was so dangerously stupid that all of us should be shaking in our slippers this morning. I’m not a presidential historian, but I would bet that what Tr-mp said has no competition in the history of stupid presidential utterances, particularly when we stop to remember that this is the nuclear age.

Muir ask him about signing “a sweeping executive action to suspend immigration to this country” and here’s how the conversation went:

DAVID MUIR: Who are we talking about? Is this the Muslim ban?

TR-MP: We’re talking about — no it’s not the Muslim ban. But it’s countries that have tremendous terror. It’s countries that we’re going to be spelling out in a little while in the same speech. And it’s countries that people are going to come in and cause us tremendous problems. Our country has enough problems without allowing people to come in who, in many cases or in some cases, are looking to do tremendous destruction.

(OVERTALK)

TR-MP: You look at what’s happening …

DAVID MUIR: Which countries are we talking about?

TR-MP: … you’ll be hearing about it in two hours because I have a whole list. You’ll be very thrilled. You’re looking at people that come in, in many cases, in some cases with evil intentions. I don’t want that. They’re ISIS. They’re coming under false pretense. I don’t want that.

I’m gonna be the president of a safe country. We have enough problems. Now I’ll absolutely do safe zones in Syria for the people. I think that Europe has made a tremendous mistake by allowing these millions of people to go into Germany and various other countries. And all you have to do is take a look. It’s — it’s a disaster what’s happening over there.

I don’t want that to happen here. Now with that being said, President Obama and Hillary Clinton have, and Kerry have allowed tens of thousands of people into our country. The FBI is now investigating more people than ever before having to do with terror. They — and it’s from the group of people that came in. So look, look, our country has a lot of problems. Believe me. I know what the problems are even better than you do. They’re deep problems, they’re serious problems. We don’t need more.

DAVID MUIR: Let me ask you about some of the countries that won’t be on the list, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia. Why are we going to allow people to come into this country …

TR-MP: You’re going to see — you’re going to see. We’re going to have extreme vetting in all cases. And I mean extreme. And we’re not letting people in if we think there’s even a little chance of some problem.

DAVID MUIR: Are you at all …

(OVERTALK)

TR-MP: We are excluding certain countries. But for other countries we’re gonna have extreme vetting. It’s going to be very hard to come in. Right now it’s very easy to come in. It’s gonna be very, very hard. I don’t want terror in this country. You look at what happened in San Bernardino. You look at what happened all over. You look at what happened in the World Trade Center. Okay, I mean, take that as an example.

So far, this is typical Trump talk. Goofy. Disjointed. Sophomoric. Dishonest. But here comes the dangerously stupid part:

DAVID MUIR: Are you at all …

(OVERTALK)

DAVID MUIR: … concerned — are you at all concerned it’s going to cause more anger among Muslims …

TR-MP: Anger?

DAVID MUIR: … the world?

TR-MP: There’s plenty of anger right now. How can you have more?

DAVID MUIR: You don’t think it’ll …

TR-MP: Look, David …

DAVID MUIR: … exacerbate the problem?

TR-MP: … David, I mean, I know you’re a sophisticated guy. The world is a mess. The world is as angry as it gets. What? You think this is gonna cause a little more anger? The world is an angry place. All of this has happened. We went into Iraq. We shouldn’t have gone into Iraq. We shouldn’t have gotten out the way we got out.

The world is a total mess. Take a look at what’s happening with Aleppo. Take a look what’s happening in Mosul. Take a look what’s going on in the Middle East. And people are fleeing and they’re going into Europe and all over the place. The world is a mess, David.

Please let this sink in. Tr-mp was asked a reasonable question related to how Muslims—who make up about 25% of the world’s population—might react to the assumption that “in many cases” the refugees seeking a home here, fleeing from ISIS and other Islamic extremists, “are looking to do tremendous destruction” in America. The question was,

Are you at all concerned it’s going to cause more anger among Muslims…in the world?

That’s a totally reasonable question because nearly all experts in the field of national security say that the worst thing the U.S. and our allies can do, in the fight against Islamic extremists, is to alienate Muslims at home and around the world by sending the message that this is a war between the West and Islam. And Tr-mp’s answer, which I will edit to its essence was this:

TR-MP:  Anger? There’s plenty of anger right now. How can you have more?…The world is a mess. The world is as angry as it gets. What? You think this is gonna cause a little more anger? The world is an angry place.

I realize that for television journalists particularly, this isn’t as sexy as a fight between Mexico’s president and Tr-mp. But for the quasi-leader of what was once called the “free world” to say, “The world is as angry as it gets” and “How can you have more?” is about as insane a thing as I have ever heard anyone in power in this country utter. I’m sorry. The mind that produced that statement is in even worse shape than I thought.

The world is not as angry as it gets. You can have more anger. A lot more anger. And war along with it. And Tr-mp, with his juvenile understanding of the world, with mental processes that defy explanation and are resistant to reality, is just the guy who can produce more anger, trigger more wars. And we don’t have the “luxury” of just worrying about the reaction of Muslims, who are even now hearing the call of extremists to get into the fight against the infidels out to destroy them. We also have to worry about the Chinese, the Iranians, and the North Koreans—and who knows what the Russians are planning knowing they have a friend in the White’s House.

Add to all that this frightening fact: our allies in Europe and elsewhere have every reason to fear the quasi-President of the United States is out of his mind.

PART 2: Mindlessly Endorsing a War Crime

Right after the stupid “the world is as angry as it gets” remark, Muir ask Tr-mp about his previous claims that the U.S. should have stolen Iranian oil. Here’s how that conversation began:

DAVID MUIR: You brought up Iraq and something you said that could affect American troops in recent days. You said, “We should’ve kept the oil but okay maybe we’ll have another chance.” What did you mean by that?

TR-MP: Well, we should’ve kept the oil when we got out. And, you know, it’s very interesting, had we taken the oil, you wouldn’t have ISIS because they fuel themselves with the oil. That’s where they got the money. They got the money from leaving — when we left, we left Iraq, which wasn’t a government. It’s not a government now.

Notice the question was premised on how such a stupid and illegal act “could affect American troops.” Tr-mp said nothing about the danger to our troops. Not a damned word. He has no ability to understand that telling the Iraqis we should have stolen their oil—and still might—puts the thousands of troops we have deployed in Iraq in grave danger. His mind simply doesn’t process words and actions like a normal mind, not to mention like the mind of a normal commander-in-chief who would be worried about how his words and actions might subject the troops under his command to unnecessary harm or death.

But he wasn’t finished:

DAVID MUIR: So, you believe we can go in and take the oil?

TR-MP: We should have taken the oil. You wouldn’t have ISIS if we took the oil. Now I wasn’t talking about it from the standpoint of ISIS because the way we got out was horrible. We created a vacuum and ISIS formed. But had we taken the oil something else would’ve very good happened. They would not have been able to fuel their rather unbelievable drive to destroy large portions of the world.

DAVID MUIR: You’ve heard the critics who say that would break all international law, taking the oil. But I wanna get to the words …

(OVERTALK)

DAVID MUIR: … that you …

TR-MP: Wait, wait, can you believe that? Who are the critics who say that? Fools.

DAVID MUIR: Let, let me …

TR-MP: I don’t call them critics. I call them fools.

This frightening exchange pretty much speaks for itself. People are “fools” who say the obvious, that stealing Iraqi oil—which isn’t even logistically plausible to begin with, not to mention the number of Americans who would die in the futile effort—that doing such an un-American thing, would be, as even Charles Krauthammer admitted, a war crime.

PART 3: The Fraud Delusion Gets Worse

Since my last post was an extensive look at Tr-mp’s election fraud claim and how it indicates just how littered with delusions is his mental landscape, I will simply here publish the entire exchange Muir had with him over the issue and leave it to you to evaluate. And, if you evaluate it like a normal human being, you will likely get a stiff drink, take a muscle relaxer, or otherwise do something that helps you cope with the fact that we will be lucky if this man doesn’t get us all killed before he’s done:

DAVID MUIR: I wanna ask you about something you said this week right here at the White House. You brought in congressional leaders to the White House. You spoke at length about the presidential election with them — telling them that you lost the popular vote because of millions of illegal votes, 3 to 5 million illegal votes. That would be the biggest electoral fraud in American history. Where is the evidence of that?

TR-MP: So, let me tell you first of all, it was so misrepresented. That was supposed to be a confidential meeting. And you weren’t supposed to go out and talk to the press as soon as you — but the Democrats viewed it not as a confidential meeting.

DAVID MUIR: But you have tweeted …

(OVERTALK)

DAVID MUIR: … about the millions of illegals …

TR-MP: Sure. And I do — and I’m very …

(OVERTALK)

TR-MP: … and I mean it. But just so you — it was supposed to be a confidential meeting. They turned it into not a con… Number two, the conversation lasted for about a minute. They made it — somebody said it was, like, 25 percent of the … It wasn’t. It was hardly even discussed.

I said it. And I said it strongly because what’s going on with voter fraud is horrible. That’s number one. Number two, I would’ve won the popular vote if I was campaigning for the popular vote. I would’ve gone to California where I didn’t go at all. I would’ve gone to New York where I didn’t campaign at all.

I would’ve gone to a couple of places that I didn’t go to. And I would’ve won that much easier than winning the electoral college. But as you know, the electoral college is all that matters. It doesn’t make any difference. So, I would’ve won very, very easily. But it’s a different form of winning. You would campaign much differently. You would have a totally different campaign. So, but …

(OVERTALK)

TR-MP: … you’re just asking a question. I would’ve easily won the popular vote, much easier, in my opinion, than winning the electoral college. I ended up going to 19 different states. I went to the state of Maine four times for one. I needed one.

I went to M– I got it, by the way. But it turned out I didn’t need it because we ended up winning by a massive amount, 306. I needed 270. We got 306. You and everybody said, “There’s no way you get to 270.” I mean, your network said and almost everybody said, “There’s no way you can get to …” So, I went to Maine four times. I went to various places. And that’s the beauty of the electoral college. With that being said, if you look at voter registration, you look at the dead people that are registered to vote who vote, you look at people that are registered in two states, you look at all of these different things that are happening with registration. You take a look at those registration for — you’re gonna s– find — and we’re gonna do an investigation on it.

DAVID MUIR: But 3 to 5 million illegal votes?

TR-MP: Well, we’re gonna find out. But it could very well be that much. Absolutely.

DAVID MUIR: But …

TR-MP: But we’re gonna find out.

(OVERTALK)

TR-MP: In fact, I heard one of the other side, they were saying it’s not 3 to 5. It’s not 3 to 5. I said, “Well, Mr. Trump is talking about registration, tell–” He said, “You know we don’t wanna talk about registration.” They don’t wanna talk about registration.

You have people that are registered who are dead, who are illegals, who are in two states. You have people registered in two states. They’re registered in a New York and a New Jersey. They vote twice. There are millions of votes, in my opinion. Now …

DAVID MUIR: But again …

TR-MP: I’m doing an …

(OVERTALK)

TR-MP: … investigation. David, David, David …

DAVID MUIR: You’re now, you’re now president of the United States when you say …

(OVERTALK)

TR-MP: Of course, and I want the voting process to be legitimate.

DAVID MUIR: But what I’m asking …

 TR-MP: The people that …

DAVID MUIR: … what I’m asking that — when you say in your opinion millions of illegal votes, that is something that is extremely fundamental to our functioning democracy, a fair and free election.

TR-MP: Sure. Sure. Sure.

DAVID MUIR: You say you’re gonna launch an investigation.

TR-MP: Sure, done.

DAVID MUIR: What you have presented so far has been debunked. It’s been called …

(OVERTALK)

DAVID MUIR: … false.

TR-MP: No, it hasn’t. Take a look at the Pew reports.

DAVID MUIR: I called the author of the Pew report last night. And he told me that they found no evidence of voter …

(OVERTALK)

DAVID MUIR: … fraud.

TR-MP: Really? Then why did he write the report?

DAVID MUIR: He said no evidence of voter fraud.

TR-MP: Excuse me, then why did he write the report?

(OVERTALK)

TR-MP: According to Pew report, then he’s — then he’s groveling again. You know, I always talk about the reporters that grovel when they wanna write something that you wanna hear but not necessarily millions of people wanna hear or have to hear.

DAVID MUIR: So, you’ve launched an investigation?

TR-MP: We’re gonna launch an investigation to find out. And then the next time — and I will say this, of those votes cast, none of ’em come to me. None of ’em come to me. They would all be for the other side. None of ’em come to me. But when you look at the people that are registered: dead, illegal and two states and some cases maybe three states — we have a lot to look into.

DAVID MUIR: House Speaker Paul Ryan has said, “I have seen no evidence. I have made this very, very clear.” Senator Lindsey Graham saying, “It’s the most inappropriate thing for a president to say without proof. He seems obsessed with the idea that he could not have possibly lost the popular vote without cheating and fraud.” I wanna ask you about something bigger here. Does it matter more now …

TR-MP: There’s nothing bigger. There’s nothing bigger.

DAVID MUIR: But it is important because …

TR-MP: Let me just tell you, you know what’s important, millions of people agree with me when I say that if you would’ve looked on one of the other networks and all of the people that were calling in they’re saying, “We agree with Mr. Trump. We agree.” They’re very smart people.

The people that voted for me — lots of people are saying they saw things happen. I heard stories also. But you’re not talking about millions. But it’s a small little segment. I will tell you, it’s a good thing that we’re doing because at the end we’re gonna have an idea as to what’s going on. Now, you’re telling me Pew report has all of a sudden changed. But you have other reports and you have other statements. You take a look at the registrations, how many dead people are there? Take a look at the registrations as to the other things that I already presented.

DAVID MUIR: And you’re saying …

(OVERTALK)

TR-MP: And you’re gonna find …

DAVID MUIR: … those people who are on the rolls voted, that there are millions of illegal votes?

TR-MP: I didn’t say there are millions. But I think there could very well be millions of people. That’s right.

DAVID MUIR: You tweeted though …

TR-MP: And I also say this …

DAVID MUIR: … you tweeted, “If you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally, I won the popular vote.”

TR-MP: David, and I also say this, if I was going for the popular vote I would’ve won easily. But I would’ve been in California and New York. I wouldn’t have been in Maine. I wouldn’t have been in Iowa. I wouldn’t have been in Nebraska and all of those states that I had to win in order to win this. I would’ve been in New York, I would’ve been in California. I never even went there.

DAVID MUIR: Let me just ask you, you did win. You’re the president. You’re sitting …

TR-MP: That’s true.

DAVID MUIR: … across from me right now.

TR-MP: That’s true.

DAVID MUIR: Do you think that your words matter more now?

TR-MP: Yes, very much.

DAVID MUIR: Do you think that that talking about millions of illegal votes is dangerous to this country without presenting the evidence?

TR-MP: No, not at all.

(OVERTALK)

TR-MP: Not at all because many people feel the same way that I do. And …

DAVID MUIR: You don’t think it undermines your credibility if there’s no evidence?

(OVERTALK)

TR-MP: No, not at all because they didn’t come to me. Believe me. Those were Hillary votes. And if you look at it they all voted for Hillary. They all voted for Hillary. They didn’t vote for me. I don’t believe I got one. Okay, these are people that voted for Hillary Clinton. And if they didn’t vote, it would’ve been different in the popular.

Now, you have to understand I — I focused on those four or five states that I had to win. Maybe she didn’t. She should’ve gone to Michigan. She thought she had it in the bag. She should’ve gone to Wisconsin, she thought she had it because you’re talking about 38 years of, you know, Democrat wins. But they didn’t. I went to Michigan, I went to Wisconsin. I went to Pennsylvania all the time. I went to all of the states that are — Florida and North Carolina. That’s all I focused on.

DAVID MUIR: Mr. President, it does strike me though that we’re relitigating the presidential campaign, the election …

(OVERTALK)

TR-MP: No, no. We’re looking at it for the next time. No, no, you have to understand, I had a tremendous victory, one of the great victories ever. In terms of counties I think the most ever or just about the most ever. When you look at a map it’s all red. Red meaning us, Republicans.

One of the greatest victories ever. But, again, I ran for the electoral college. I didn’t run for the popular vote. What I’m saying is if there are these problems that many people agree with me that there might be. Look, Barack Obama — if you look back — eight years ago when he first ran — he was running for office in Chicago for we needed Chicago vote.

And he was laughing at the system because he knew all of those votes were going to him. You look at Philadelphia, you look at what’s going on in Philadelphia. But take a look at the tape of Barack Obama who wrote me, by the way, a very beautiful letter in the drawer of the desk. Very beautiful. And I appreciate it. But look at what he said, it’s on tape. Look at what he said about voting in Chicago eight years ago. It’s not changed. It hasn’t changed, believe me. Chicago, look what’s going on in Chicago. It’s only gotten worse.

But he was smiling and laughing about the vote in Chicago. Now, once he became president he didn’t do that. All of a sudden it became this is the foundation of our country. So, here’s the point, you have a lot of stuff going on possibly. I say probably. But possibly. We’re gonna get to the bottom of it.

And then we’re gonna make sure it doesn’t happen again. If people are registered wrongly, if illegals are registered to vote, which they are, if dead people are registered to vote and voting, which they do. There are some. I don’t know how many. We’re gonna try finding that out and the other categories that we talk about, double states where they’re — registered in two states, we’re gonna get to the bottom of it because we have to stop it. Because I agree, so important. But the other side is trying to downplay this. Now, I’ll say this — I think that if that didn’t happen, first of all, would — would be a great thing if it didn’t happen. But I believe it did happen. And I believe a part of the vote would’ve been much different.

DAVID MUIR: And you believe millions of illegal votes …

TR-MP: Well, we’re gonna find out.

DAVID MUIR: Let me ask you this …

TR-MP: We’re gonna find out. And — and, by the way, when I say you’re gonna find out. You can never really find, you know, there are gonna be — no matter what numbers we come up with there are gonna be lots of people that did things that we’re not going to find out about. But we will find out because we need a better system where that can’t happen.

DAVID MUIR: Mr. President, I just have one more question on this. And it’s — it’s bigger picture. You took some heat after your visit to the CIA in front of that hallowed wall, 117 stars — of those lost at the CIA. You talked about other things. But you also talked about crowd size at the inauguration, about the size of your rallies, about covers on Time magazine. And I just wanna ask you when does all of that matter just a little less? When do you let it roll off your back now that you’re the president?

(OVERTALK)

TR-MP: OK, so I’m glad you asked. So, I went to the CIA, my first step. I have great respect for the people in intelligence and CIA. I’m — I don’t have a lot of respect for, in particular one of the leaders. But that’s okay. But I have a lot of respect for the people in the CIA.

That speech was a home run. That speech, if you look at Fox, OK, I’ll mention you — we see what Fox said. They said it was one of the great speeches. They showed the people applauding and screaming and — and they were all CIA. There was — somebody was asking Sean — “Well, were they Trump people that were put–” we don’t have Trump people. They were CIA people.

That location was given to me. Mike Pence went up before me, paid great homage to the wall. I then went up, paid great homage to the wall. I then spoke to the crowd. I got a standing ovation. In fact, they said it was the biggest standing ovation since Peyton Manning had won the Super Bowl and they said it was equal. I got a standing ovation. It lasted for a long period of time. What you do is take — take out your tape — you probably ran it live. I know when I do good speeches. I know when I do bad speeches. That speech was a total home run. They loved it. I could’ve …

(OVERTALK)

TR-MP: … gotten …

DAVID MUIR: You would give the same speech if you went back …

TR-MP: Absolutely.

DAVID MUIR: … in front of that wall?

TR-MP: People loved it. They loved it. They gave me a standing ovation for a long period of time. They never even sat down, most of them, during the speech. There was love in the room. You and other networks covered it very inaccurately. I hate to say this to you and you probably won’t put it on but turn on Fox and see how it was covered. And see how people respond to that speech.

That speech was a good speech. And you and a couple of other networks tried to downplay that speech. And it was very, very unfortunate that you did. The people of the CIA loved the speech. If I was going to take a vote in that room, there were, like, 300, 350 people, over 1,000 wanted to be there but they couldn’t. They were all CIA people. I would say I would’ve gotten 350 to nothing in that room. That’s what the vote would’ve been. That speech was a big hit, a big success — success. And then I came back and I watched you on television and a couple of others.

DAVID MUIR: Not me personally.

(OVERTALK)

TR-MP: And they tried to demean. Excuse me?

DAVID MUIR: Not me personally.

TR-MP: Not you personally but your network — and they tried to demean the speech. And I know when things are good or bad. A poll just came out on my inauguration speech which was extraordinary that people loved it. Loved and liked. And it was an extraordinary poll.

DAVID MUIR: I guess that’s what I’m getting at. You talked about the poll, the people loving your inaugural speech and the size of your …

TR-MP: No, because you bring it up.

DAVID MUIR: I’m asking, well, on day one you …

TR-MP: Well, you just brought it up. I didn’t bring it up. I didn’t wanna — talk about the inauguration speech. But I think I did a very good job and people really liked it. You saw the poll. Just came out this morning. You bring it up. I didn’t bring it up.

DAVID MUIR: So, polls and crowd size and covers on Time, those still matter now that you’re here as president.

TR-MP: Well, you keep bringing it up. I had a massive amount of people here. They were showing pictures that were very unflattering, as unflattering — from certain angles — that were taken early and lots of other things. I’ll show you a picture later if you’d like of a massive crowd.

In terms of a total audience including television and everything else that you have we had supposedly the biggest crowd in history. The audience watching the show. And I think you would even agree to that. They say I had the biggest crowd in the history of inaugural speeches. I’m honored by that. But I didn’t bring it up. You just brought it up.

DAVID MUIR: See, I — I’m not interested in the inaugural crowd size. I think the American people can look at images side by side and decide for themselves. I am curious about the first full day here at the White House, choosing to send the press secretary out into the briefing room, summoning reporters to talk about the inaugural crowd size. Does that send a message to the American people that that’s — that’s more important than some of the very pressing issues?

TR-MP: Part of my whole victory was that the men and women of this country who have been forgotten will never be forgotten again. Part of that is when they try and demean me unfairly ’cause we had a massive crowd of people. We had a crowd — I looked over that sea of people and I said to myself, “Wow.”

And I’ve seen crowds before. Big, big crowds. That was some crowd. When I looked at the numbers that happened to come in from all of the various sources, we had the biggest audience in the history of inaugural speeches. I said the men and women that I was talking to who came out and voted will never be forgotten again. Therefore I won’t allow you or other people like you to demean that crowd and to demean the people that came to Washington, D.C., from faraway places because they like me. But more importantly they like what I’m saying.

DAVID MUIR: I just wanna say I didn’t demean anyone who was in that crowd. We did coverage for hours …

(OVERTALK)

TR-MP: No, I think you’re demeaning by talking the way you’re talking. I think you’re demeaning. And that’s why I think a lot of people turned on you and turned on a lot of other people. And that’s why you have a 17 percent approval rating, which is pretty bad.

The only thing left to say is this: Because of the fear Republicans have that upsetting Trump may push him into greater and more dangerous bouts of hysteria, Paul Ryan, who knows this whole claim is beyond delusional, nevertheless said, when asked about Tr-mp’s call for an investigation into the delusion, “I think it’s fine.”

Drink up.

 

Trump Jong-un

I prepared an entire post last night detailing some of the things Tr-mp has done since he assumed office—via executive orders that Republicans once condemned when the Kenyan issued them but suddenly find so constitutionally reassuring now that the Aryan’s name is attached. From his de facto tax on millions of “little guy” home buyers with FHA-backed mortgages—an order he signed before he took his first orange piss in the White’s House chamber pot by the way—to his attacks on Obamacare, his anti-abortion order signed while surrounded by fellow male Aryans, and other things that are just part of what will be a full-on assault on the New Deal and other programs that make for a more civilized country (which I will focus on as time goes by, as Republicans team with Tr-mp to realize their decades-old reactionary agenda).

I also was going to detail some other things happening, like a right-wing nut from Kansas, essentially owned by the Koch brothers, becoming the new CIA director, who may or may not revive those infamous “black sites” on orders from Tr-mp. Or the unsurprising story of how, throughout 2016,”Tr-mp Supporters Attacked, Harassed Or Plotted To Kill Muslims At Least 13 Times.” Or how the first bill Republicans in Congress will take up “is a sweeping anti-abortion bill that would make the procedure more expensive for women.” And on and on.

I scrapped that piece I wrote last night because of what happened this morning, when Tr-mp went off on Twitter announcing he “will be asking for a major investigation into VOTER FRAUD…” Now, to their credit, almost all journalists this side of Herr Hannity pointed out that this whole thing is a Big Lie. There is obviously zero evidence for any significant voter fraud, especially on the scale Tr-mp is claiming. In fact, as some Democrats on television this morning pointed out, this whole Big Lie may very well be used as cover for eroding even further the voting rights of millions of Americans, especially if they don’t happen to be white. I am inclined to think that will be the end result, if not at the federal level, at the state level even beyond what has already happened.

But the biggest reason I think this Big Lie about voter fraud championed by Tr-mp is important is not just because of what it may lead to in the future, but what it tells us about the present. And by that I mean what it tells us about the state of Tr-mp’s mind. As I have said before, the man is sick. He is really, truly, sick in his head. I don’t mean that as provocative hyperbole. I don’t mean it as a partisan statement. I didn’t like Mitt Romney or his policies, but I never thought he was mentally ill. When I speak of Tr-mp being sick, I mean it as an honest interpretation of what we all have seen since June of 2015. I don’t think I need to go deep into that sordid history.

Obviously, I’m not a psychiatrist or a psychologist, and even if I were I couldn’t ethically make an official diagnosis of his disorder from a distance. But here’s what I can do as a citizen who has been paying attention: judge him by his public actions and behavior. I’m entitled to do that. And my judgment is that he, as a human being, is to be pitied as a man with a damaged mind. I don’t know why he is so damaged, whether it be something in his background or something in his brain chemistry. And I don’t know exactly what to call what is wrong with him. But something is definitely messed up. Something serious. And it is dangerous because his damaged brain can now do so much damage to others. Thus, just because I pity him as a sick human being, I still have to do everything I can to unpresident him.

Before you judge me for judging Tr-mp, go look at a helpful Wikipedia page called “List of people claimed to be Jesus.” The list starts in the 18th century with the founder of the Shakers, Ann Lee. The list includes Sun Myung Moon, who founded the Unification Church in South Korea in 1954. Moon died in 2012. Jim Jones is on the list, the cult leader from Indiana who encouraged members of his “Peoples Temple” to kill themselves and murder their children in Jonestown, Guyana, in 1978. Of the 918 people who died at Jonestown, almost 300 of them were children murdered by their parents or others. David Koresh, leader of the Branch Davidian cult, is also on the list. He and dozens of his followers, and their children, were killed by a government raid in Waco, Texas, in 1993. All of the above people had some number of followers, people who believed in a messianic Big Lie.

The last name on Wikipedia’s list is Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez. He didn’t have any followers, as far as I know. Here is his entry:

In November 2011, he fired nine shots with an Romanian Cugir SA semi-automatic rifle at the White House in Washington D.C., believing himself to be Jesus Christ sent to kill U.S. President Barack Obama, whom he believed to be the antichrist.

Okay. At this point it is fair to ask why I bring up all these people in the context of Donald Tr-mp. After all, Tr-ump doesn’t claim to be Jesus or some kind of “prophet” of Jesus—although some prominent members of the Religious Right believe he was, indeed, sent by Image result for vote illegalGod to save America, and Reverend Franklin Graham, speaking at Tr-ump’s inauguration, said the rain that was falling was “a sign of God’s blessing.” 

Here’s why I bring up the sick people, some living and most long dead, on that Wikipedia list. It’s because almost all of us, if we were exposed to the words and deeds of those people, would, without having to consult a psychiatrist, judge them as sick. We wouldn’t pretend otherwise. We wouldn’t hesitate. We wouldn’t give them the benefit of any doubt. We could make such a judgment with our own common sense. And we certainly wouldn’t indulge or tolerate their fantasies and delusions if they held important jobs.

Well, Donald Tr-mp holds the world’s most important job. And among the countless other lies and conspiracies he has peddled over the years, he has told us more than once—as President of the United States now—the absolute lie that millions of votes were cast illegally in 2016’s presidential election. His press secretary told us on Monday the following, when asked about that delusion:

The President does believe that, I think he’s stated that before, and stated his concern of voter fraud and people voting illegally during the campaign and continues to maintain that belief based on studies and evidence people have brought to him.

Unable to cite any of those imaginary studies or offer any imaginary evidence, Spicer, after reporters kept pressing him, continued to maintain that Tr-mp “has believed that for a while based on studies and information he has” and hinted that the new administration might investigate what amounts to a delusion in Tr-mp’s mind. Today at another presser, Spicer suggested there might be something like a “task force” to look at election fraud that, again, is in the imagination of a disturbed man and some of his equally disturbed followers, like Alex Jones and others at Infowars, which is the “source” for many of Tr-mp’s delusions.

I just want to make this clear. We can all see that Tr-mp is peddling a Big Lie. There isn’t any debate at all about that. The question is why is he doing it? There are two possibilities: 1) He either knows it is a lie, in which case he is purposely trying to deceive millions and millions of Americans—and others around the world living in wobbly democracies themselves—as a way of protecting his already-damaged ego, or 2) He actually believes the Big Lie, in which case he is dangerously gullible and deluded. Which is worse? Either way he is, as I said, a disturbed man.

I like the way Dan Pfeiffer, a former senior advisor to President Obama, put it in a Tweet today:

Here’s where we are: Trump is deeply disturbed, his aides enable him, and the US government now makes policy to alleviate his insecurities

You can see how dangerous it is to have a man in charge of a lethal military, not to mention lethal nuclear weapons, to be so disturbed that policy makers and aides have to worry about alleviating his insecurities. But that’s the world in which we now live. We literally have to worry that Tr-mp doesn’t wake up one day and see something on CNN or kim-jong-unsome other cable news outlet that pisses him off—which outlets he reportedly watches day and night—to such a degree he does something that used to be unthinkable but no longer is.

Even without a medical degree, we who have watched Tr-mp closely for months and months can see he isn’t normal. He isn’t tethered to reality in important ways. His behavior, fairly or unfairly, has been compared to Hitler. He has received a lot of well-deserved criticism for praising Vladimir Putin and has been compared to him in style. But perhaps closer to the truth is that his authoritarian impulses and his emotional instability are more like North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, who, as reported, also has thin skin:

North Koreans have been warned of strict action if they make any satirical comments directed at their leader Kim Jong-un or his governance. In a bid to clamp down on criticism, the isolated nation told its citizens to not use sarcasm even in their everyday casual conversation for they “will not be forgiven”.

Authorities reportedly organised mass meetings across the country to issue warnings.

We are a long way from becoming a rich version of North Korea, obviously. But we are not a long way from having a leader whose skin is so thin he overreacts to the slightest criticism, whose ego is so fragile and vulnerable that his focus is on counter-punching and vengeance, whose mind is so disordered and detached from reality that he encourages wild conspiracies and “alternative facts,” whose press secretary has said in trying to defend him that “sometimes we can disagree with the facts.” We may be light years away from being North Korea, but we are only a stone’s throw from having a leader who would feel at home governing such a place.

“We Are A Movement Now”

The Women’s March on Saturday, as we all saw, was a stunning success. All over the world, but particularly here in the United States, millions of women and men gathered to express their resistance not only to “alternative facts,” but to the alternate universe known as Trumpism—where misogyny, racism, xenophobia, and other forms of deplorable bigotry are the norm.

Of all the amazing video and photographic coverage of the event, my second favorite report came from Anchorage, Alaska. Despite locally heavy snowfall—between 8 and 12 inches—hazardous road conditions, and temperatures in the low teens, we saw this:

As amazing as those protests in frigid Anchorage were—Hillary Clinton got less than 38% of the vote in Alaska—an even more amazing event and my personal favorite happened in Austin, Texas. Here’s a photograph (provided by Kate Calkins):

Now you might say, “What’s so amazing about an anti-Trumpism protest in liberal Austin, Texas, even one that large?” I’ll tell you what is so amazing. Look at the photograph below (taken by Todd Phillips):

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, standing, crowd, tree and outdoor
The person holding that sign is Tammy Brinkman. She lives in Anna, Texas—population about 13,000—which is 240 miles away from Austin. She is not what you would call a life-long feminist activist. She is from a tiny Kansas town. She is happily married, the mother of three grown children, and working full-time. But she got on a crowded bus on Saturday and traveled the almost four hours to Austin because she, like so many of us, was appalled and angry about what happened on November 8. And rather than sit around and complain, sit around and mope, sit around and tune out the deplorable sights we have seen before and since the election of Tr-mp, she decided to become part of the solution to a very disturbing problem.

I suspect that hundreds of thousands of the protesters on Saturday were, like Tammy, new to this kind of thing. They had not previously been part of any kind of organized political or social movement. And that is what is so heartening about what happened the day after Tr-mp was inaugurated. Something profound is going on in the massive, historic resistance against the new man now occupying the White’s House.

I want to share with you what Tammy Brinkman wrote about her experience on Saturday, which I believe demonstrates that the movement against Trumpism is more than a one-off, ventilating event and that Republicans ignore it at their peril:

I am on my way home from one of the most amazing experiences that I have ever been blessed to participate in. The love and unity that I felt today with the sweetest people was incredible. I can’t put into words the feeling that was in the air today in Austin at the Women’s March. The diversity of the crowd was amazing. And that is definitely something u don’t see much of on the other side. I want to thank my nephew Todd for meeting me and marching with me! We made a great memory together and I was proud to march with u ! Thousands and thousands of people being kind and so considerate. Total strangers coming up and clapping, cheering and hugging. I hope my kids will be proud of what i did today. After all I’m doing this for them and my future grandchildren. I want to be able to say to them that I was on the right side when this is in the history books. I stood for women’s rights. I stood against racism and bigotry and hate. It’s not only the right thing to do but it’s a moral obligation to do so. For those of u who think we are a bunch of whiners and cry babies you are soooooo wrong. We are a movement now and our voices will continue to roar throughout the world! We will not tolerate racism and bigotry nor a fascist America. WE ARE THE RESISTANCE!!!!

I want to remind you those are not the words of an experienced activist. I want to remind you those aren’t the words of someone who has been a life-long political junkie or a radical feminist. Those are the words of a concerned citizen. Those are the words of a worried mom and prospective grandmother. Those are the words of someone who has empowered herself to fight Trumpism.

And those are the words of my little sister, Tammy Graham Brinkman. And I couldn’t be more proud of her. I only wish my mom, a Hubert Humphrey Democrat, could have been here to see her baby daughter become part of such an important moment in American history. Vive la résistance!

January 20, 12:00pm Is Here. And The Dead And Wounded Are Everywhere.

The Tr-mp attack on America, which began on June 16, 2015, is now at full force, as almost all Republicans have joined in the effort.

Here is a partial list of the wounded so far and their current medical condition:

♦ Democracy—critical, but conscious
Journalism—serious, but slowly, very slowy, stabilizing
♦ Truth and facts—critical, vital signs unstable, Dr. Breitbart attending
Ethics in government—critical, unconscious, and not responding to treatment
Executive Branch competence—critical, brain in vegetative state
Legislative Branch oversight—paralyzed on one side, signs of movement on the other
The Emoluments Clause—undetermined, but appears lifeless
The Intelligence Community—critical, cerebral hemorrhage
NATO—serious and unstable
Respect for women and reproductive freedom—comatose
Voting Rights—serious, with Dr. Jim Crow attending
American Muslims—undetermined, but experiencing extreme discomfort
DACA “DREAMERS”—undetermined, but showing signs of shock
♦ Social Security/Medicare—critical, unfavorable indicators
Obamacare—Father Paul Ryan is administering last rites, more deaths expected
♦ Public schools—critical, Sister Betsy DeVos praying for painless end
♦ Diversity
—serious, very male and pale
♦ Wall Street reform—scheduled for euthanasia
Reagan/Bush voodoo economics—good, expecting a full recovery

Here is a partial list of the dead and their date of departure:

♦ Presidential dignity and class—1/20/17, 12:00:01 pm EST.
Financial disclosure norms—after an agonizing illness, finally passed away 1/11/17
Merrick Garland’s seat on the Supreme Courtcirca 3/16/16
♦ GOP Jesus and the moral legitimacy of the Religious Right
circa 10/7/16
♦ GOP’s respect for “wounded warriors”
circa 7/18/16
♦ GOP’s respect for “our fallen heroes”
circa 7/30/16
GOP’s respect for the militarycirca 9/7/16
♦ GOP’s exclusive claims on patriotism
circa 10/07/16
Republican “superiority” on national security issuescirca 1/11/17
♦ America dealing with climate change1/20/17
Left-winger Jill Stein’s integrity—the disease began on 12/10/2015 and the end came on 10/13/16

But all the news isn’t about the dead and wounded. Some notable births and rebirths:

♦ Republican respect for Russia and its murderous president
♦ New norm of GOP presidential candidate pleading for Russian espionage
♦ New norm of GOP presidential candidate threatening to jail his opponent
♦ New norm of GOP presidential candidate inciting violence at rallies
♦ New norm of GOP presidential candidate knowing nothing about the job
Socially acceptable white nationalism/racism
♦ Socially acceptable grifting

Socially acceptable misogyny
Socially acceptable bigotry
Socially acceptable xenophobia
Socially acceptable sexual assault
Socially acceptable bragging about sexual assault
Socially acceptable mocking of the disabled
Socially acceptable “Fake News” (father: Rush Limbaugh’s national radio show in 1988)
The 3/5-of-a-man clause in the Constitution (rebirth, since the Scary Negro in the White’s House wasn’t allowed to appoint a Supreme Court justice he was entitled to appoint—Antonin Scalia died on February 13, 2016, almost a year ago, people)
Trolling for Rubles
♦ Gaslighting (rebirth)
The Russian-friendly alt-left (rebirth)
Growing appreciation for Obamacare
A strong “Resist Tr-mp” movement

Start Swimming

OBAMA OVER.jpg

My Farewell To O.

Thanks, Mr. President. I guess that’s where I should start. Oh, and sorry. You deserved so much better than to be forced to hand off the country to what’s-his-name and to have to give us a pep talk on democracy, as you did during your farewell address. But enough about all that. I’ve been writing this blog pretty much as long as you have been president, and I have genuine thanks to offer to you.

I don’t just mean thanks for helping to put the country’s economy back together again, after Humpty-Dumpty Republican economic policies mucked it up. Of course, I and millions of other Americans appreciate you for doing that, especially since you had to fight with Republican saboteurs most of the way. You left things in pretty good shape, considering where we were. Your successor will, it appears, once again turn to nursery-rhyme economics, and we will, in due time, be in need of a Democratic rescue.

And I don’t merely mean thanks for trying to get millions of often-forgotten Americans health insurance, and, thus, healthcare, an effort that is now threatened by Republican control of the government. You know as well as I that there are so many people out there who are alive and healthier now because of the Affordable Care Act, as imperfect an instrument for distributing humanity as that law is. God only knows what will eventually happen to the uninsured under Ryan and the Republican’s Randian scheme. But you, along with other Democrats—some of whom knowingly sacrificed their political futures to get the law passed—gave it your best shot under the circumstances.

The truth is that these and other achievements during your administration are not what I will appreciate the most about your time in office. I think you know where I’m going.

In 1966, Dr. King, noting the progress made in the civil rights movement throughout the decade or so before, scrawled at the bottom of a typed speech he was to deliver in South Carolina,

The greatest victory of this period was what it did to the psyc[h]e of the Negro. New dignity and destiny. We came out of this period only slightly integrated in the external society, but powerfully integrated within. We armed ourselves with dignity and self-respect, and our adversaries tasted the gall of defeat.

He mentioned “dignity” twice. He joined dignity with destiny. And he joined dignity with self-respect. You, Mr. President, embody those two combinations. You lived out your destiny as president with such incomparable dignity—especially considering the disrespect and slander and character assassination you endured. You armed yourself with dignity by properly assuming that you deserved regard first as a man and then as our elected leader. You armed yourself with self-respect by assuming your own personal regard. The former was an external expectation; the latter was an internal one. That was what King meant when he differentiated between the two.

As King suggested, and as it became obvious over the course of your presidency, your integrated personality is what led your “adversaries” to taste “the gall of defeat.” That’s what made them so hostile to you. That’s what drove them crazy. All that uppity-ness, which was nothing more than the behavior of a man who was “powerfully integrated within.” I suspect that a significant amount of energy behind Trumpism is tied to such gall. In 1966, King knew the civil rights movement “did not defeat the monster of racism,” and, alas, we see the monster still has some life left in it today, some of that life due to your merely being president, some of it due to your being the president you were.

Don’t get me wrong. There were times when even I would get frustrated with you, with your coolness when the situation seemed to demand heat, and with your compromises when the situation seemed to demand digging in. And there were things I wish you would have emphasized and fought for more than you did—unions and the power of collective Image result for michelle and barackbargaining, for instance. But at this moment I am thinking mostly about how you, and your equally dignified and personality-integrated wife, conducted yourselves as the first African-Americans to live in what was for all of our history the White’s House. Neither of you stepped away from your dignity for a moment, although there were times you had to tiptoe around certain issues that, in a still race-sensitive society, would have only stirred up the wrong passions at the wrong time, if you would have expressed righteous anger at some of the indignities you both saw and experienced.

Related to what I am trying to say, I’m glad you did that interview with The New York Times’ chief book critic. As a reader and writer myself, it helped me to understand you better. You said you loved reading as a kid because you traveled so much, which sometimes made you feel “displaced” and the “outsider.” You said it appealed to you that books were portable worlds “that were yours, you could enter into.” You later “rediscovered” reading and writing early in college:

I was hermetic — it really is true. I had one plate, one towel, and I’d buy clothes from thrift shops. And I was very intense, and sort of humorless. But it reintroduced me to the power of words as a way to figure out who you are and what you think, and what you believe, and what’s important, and to sort through and interpret this swirl of events that is happening around you every minute.

After graduation you began to write in your journal and write short stories, mostly about the people you met in your community organizing work. You rejected the “Jack Kerouac, open-road, young kid on the make discovering stuff” in favor of something “more melancholy and reflective.” And that’s where I get back to the idea of your integrated personality. You were asked, “Was writing partly a way to figure out your identity?” to which you replied:

Yes, I think so. For me, particularly at that time, writing was the way I sorted through a lot of crosscurrents in my life — race, class, family. And I genuinely believe that it was part of the way in which I was able to integrate all these pieces of myself into something relatively whole.

People now remark on this notion of me being very cool, or composed. And what is true is that I generally have a pretty good sense of place and who I am, and what’s important to me. And I trace a lot of that back to that process of writing.

In this 140-character world, that’s the perfect tribute to the power of real writing, which is a way some of us sort through our experiences, trying to make sense of them—and ourselves. The way you put it, “to integrate all these pieces of myself into something relatively whole,” said it all.

Image result for obama and little boy hairAnd that, again, is what I want to thank you for the most. For being an integrated human being, comfortable in your own skin, color and all—all your skin color meant for some people, those who looked at you with a patriotic appreciation for the promise of this country, and those who looked at you with MLK’s  “gall of defeat.”

So, to finish up, thanks for being the man you worked hard to be and for being the kind of integrated person all of us should work hard to be. Considering the way you were treated during your presidency by some on the right, and with that hard slap in the face on November 8, you had every right to become cynical. But yielding to cynicism would betray that personality you worked so hard to integrate. You said during your very last press conference on Wednesday that, despite the fact that some people think you are hiding your true feelings about what happened in November, you were truly optimistic:

I believe in this country. I believe in the American people. I believe that people are more good than bad. I believe tragic things happen. I think there’s evil in the world. But I think that at the end of the day, if we work hard, and if we’re true to those things in us that feel true and feel right, that the world gets a little better each time. That’s what this presidency’s tried to be about.

Your beautiful and talented wife said it better than I ever could: “Being president doesn’t change who you are. It reveals who you are.” Over eight years, we saw you get grayer. We saw you get wiser. But we never saw you lose your sense of dignity and destiny, dignity and self-respect.

Thanks and Godspeed, Mr. President.

 

Dear Hillary, Please Don’t Go To The Inauguration.

Dear Hillary,

A plea: Don’t go. Don’t go to the inauguration on Friday.

Oh, I know Bill has to go. There is something essential and meaningful in the notion of “a peaceful transfer of power,” even if the power is being transferred to someone you rightly said “is temperamentally unfit and totally unqualified to be commander in chief.” You made that statement on September 8. Three weeks later, you said it again, after Trump tweeted an attack against the former Miss Universe:

I mean, his latest Twitter meltdown is unhinged, even for him. It proves, yet again, that that he is temperamentally unfit to be president and commander-in-chief. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, a man who can be provoked by a tweet should not be anywhere near the nuclear codes.

Has anything happened since the election to change your assessment? Of course not. The man is worse now than ever. He’s scaring people here and all over the world. And I know you know that. So, why go? Why validate him? You don’t have to. You’re not a former president. You can use your absence to send a very strong message not just to your voters and earnest supporters—I defended you against people on the left and the right—but to all of the nation’s children. They must not, in any way, conclude that Donald Trump is fit to be our president, even if the technicalities of our electoral system demand he assume the office. Your appeaImage result for donald trump mocking reporterrance at his inauguration will help send the wrong message—that he is fit—a message that contradicts what you said about him during the campaign. If what you said had any meaning outside a political campaign, you must not go. At the very least you can’t normalize him in the eyes of our kids. And our kids will be watching.

Instead, there is an event the next day. The Women’s March on Washington will begin at 10 a.m. Such marches will take place all over the country. You, by virtue the of the role you played in the past election, need to be at that big march in Washington. You have to. Organizers are expecting 200,000 people, women and men, to attend. You need to march with them. We need you to march with them.

The event’s mission statement includes something that should sound very familiar to you:

Image result for women's march on washington 2017The Women’s March on Washington will send a bold message to our new government on their first day in office, and to the world that women’s rights are human rights. We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us.

That’s your message, Hillary. That’s what you said you stood for, when you stood against the man who attacked Mexicans and Muslims and mocked a disabled reporter. That’s what you said motivated you when you were running against a sexual predator, a man who thrImage result for hillary clintoneatened to put you in jail, as if the Republicans had nominated a petty would-be dictator of a backwards third-world country. That message is what you championed against a man who openly begged the Russians for help to defeat you, who praised a Kremlin killer before the election and has only grown fonder of him since.

So, respectfully, Hillary—Mrs. Clinton—I ask you to send a much needed message to our country and, just as important, to the world. That message needs to be loud enough to deny Trump and Trumpism any moral legitimacy, even if there is nothing to be done about his undemocratic Electoral College victory. You, better than anyone else, can send that message by staying home on Friday and putting on your sneakers on Saturday and marching.

Join a growing number of Democrats—still way too few—who are boycotting the inauguration. Join John Lewis, who courageously took a stand against the legitimization of Trump. He said, “You cannot be at home with something that you feel that is wrong.”  Can you, Hillary? Can you feel at home with something you know is so wrong, so morally illegitimate, so disturbing and dangerous? If you attend that inaugural ceremony, you will Image result for john lewis and bloodyat least appear to be at home with it. We can’t see into your heart. But those of us who supported you continue to believe that your heart was always in the right place. This Friday, please show us we were right. Show us you meant it when you said Trump was “totally unqualified” to be our president. You said totally. Totally.

I know such a bold move would bring you much grief. It would be controversial. It would make a lot of people, including Trump, angry. He would lash out at you on Twitter and may even threaten to jail you again. And I know such a move would contradict something you said about Trump on that sad election night. You told us that, “We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead.” Well, he will get his chance to lead. The Constitution guarantees that. But after what we saw before, during and after the election, we do not owe him an open mind. You’re wrong about that. G. K. Chesterton once said that,

The object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid.

Trump has given us plenty of solid reasons to close our minds to the moral legitimacy of his presidency. And you also gave us something solid, after your defeat on November 8:

Our constitutional democracy enshrines the peaceful transfer of power and we don’t just respect that, we cherish it. It also enshrines other things; the rule of law, the principle that we are all equal in rights and dignity, freedom of worship and expression. We respect and cherish these values too and we must defend them.

The peaceful transfer of power is one thing. We’re all with you on that. We must respect and cherish it. But in order to respect and cherish and, more important, “defend” the values of equal rights and equal dignity and free expression, we cannot honor and normalize a man such as Donald J. Trump and what he represents. Your appearance on Friday would certainly honor him, and it will go some distance in normalizing him. Again, don’t do it. Don’t be a part of it.

President Obama has to pass on to Trump the power of the office. Your husband and George W. Bush and Jimmy Carter are right to be a part of that ceremonial peaceful transfer. But your situation is much different. You have played a unique role in our history. Please consider playing a unique role in our future by sending the message that bigotry and racism and misogyny and xenophobia are unacceptable under any circumstances, by sending the message that a bigoted and demagogic man who openly courts an authoritarian thug, who invited him to interfere in our democracy, is, truly, totally unqualified to hold the office we are, out of an anachronistic constitutional necessity, bound to give him.

In defending his own refusal to legitimate Trump, John Lewis said, “when you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have a moral obligation to do something.” Mrs. Clinton, you know that Trump’s conduct was not right, fair, or just. You know how reckless and ignorant and dangerous he is, how he is even now upsetting our friends in the world while comforting Vladimir Putin. You fought Trump and beat him in the last election, as far as We The People were concerned. Thus, at this crucial moment, there is no one better situated to meet her “moral obligation to do something” than you. Your personal refusal to attend the inauguration will do something no one else can do with the same force and effect.

In short, please help those of us in the Resistance to, at the very least, morally unpresident Trump.

Sincerely,

A friend.

__________________________________

 

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