Rock Bottom

Some people thought Tr-mp’s attack on John McCain in July of 2015 was the lowest anyone, especially someone aspiring to be president, could go. “He’s not a war hero,” Tr-mp said of McCain. “He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.” 

Now, there have been plenty of political reasons to attack John McCain over the years, as far as I’m concerned. And I’ve done so. But to attack him simply on the basis of his being captured by the enemy, when he was serving in a war that Tr-mp aggressively avoided, is a low point for anyone. But it didn’t represent the bottom for Tr-mp.

Flash forward a summer after that shameful strike against McCain. In July of 2016, Tr-mp began his attack on Khizr and Ghazala Khan, whose son, Captain Humayun Khan, was killed in Iraq in 2004 and posthumously awarded a Purple Heart and Bronze Star. The Khans had made the grave mistake of criticizing Tr-mp’s Muslim ban at the Democratic National Convention. Khizr Khan had said to Tr-mp, as he proudly waved a pocket Constitution in front of the crowd and television audience:

Go look at the graves of brave patriots who died defending the United States of America. You will see all faiths, genders and ethnicities. You have sacrificed nothing and no one.

While all of that was absolutely true, and while it was said by a father who had lost his son in combat for this country, that didn’t stop Tr-mp from first attacking Mrs. Kahn by playing on a Muslim stereotype that Tr-mp likely saw on right-wing Twitter:

If you look at his wife, she was standing there. She had nothing to say. She probably, maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say.

Well, of course she was allowed to say anything she wanted. It was just that, as she had explained the day before Tr-mp’s bigoted attack, she was still grieving over her son. “I cannot even come in the room where his pictures are,” she said. But Tr-mp wasn’t finished. He compared his sacrifices to the Kahns:

I think I’ve made a lot of sacrifices. I work very, very hard. I’ve created thousands and thousands of jobs, tens of thousands of jobs, built great structures. I’ve had tremendous success. I think I’ve done a lot.

The founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Peter Rieckoff, said of such unempathetic drivel:

For anyone to compare their ‘sacrifice’ to a Gold Star family member is insulting, foolish and ignorant. Especially someone who has never served himself and has no children serving. Our country has been at war for a decade and a half, and the truth is most Americans have sacrificed nothing. Most of them are smart and grounded enough to admit it.

Being neither smart nor grounded in anything outside his complex of disorders, Tr-mp had hit a new low. He had attacked a Gold Star family. But he still had not hit bottom. That momentous milestone he saved for his response to the death, on October 4, of 25-year-old U.S. Army Sgt. La David T. Johnson, who was, according to the Pentagon, “a part of a joint U.S. and Nigerien train, advise and assist mission” in southwest Niger.

Three other Green Berets—Army Staff Sgt. Bryan C. Black, 35, of Puyallup, Washington; Army Staff Sgt. Jeremiah W. Johnson, 39, of Springboro, Ohio; and Army Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright, 29, of Lyons, Georgia—died with Sgt. Johnson. But it was the way Tr-mp apparently spoke to Johnson’s widow, Myeshia Johnson, and the way Tr-mp has responded to criticism of his attempt to console her, as well as his cynical attacks on President Obama and his inserting the death of John Kelly’s son (Second Lt. Robert Kelly, killed in Afghanistan in 2010) into the mix, that constitutes rock bottom, in terms of how low Tr-mp can go.

Simply put, he can’t go any lower. I don’t care what else he does, in terms of corrupting American norms, it won’t get worse than this.

After initially lying about President Obama’s handling of the deaths of U.S. soldiers, Tr-mp said to Fox’s Brian Kilmeade:

You could ask General Kelly, ‘Did he get a call from Obama?’”

As has been widely reported, President Obama invited Kelly and his wife to a White House breakfast honoring Gold Star families in 2011. The two sat at Michelle Obama’s table. Also, as The New York Times noted, people who worked with Kelly at the Pentagon at the time his son was killed “did not recall him expressing unhappiness with the way Mr. Obama handled the death of his son.” Purely as a logistical matter, during times when casualties are much higher than they are now, it isn’t possible for presidents to call all the families of those who have been killed in combat. The Times suggested that picking and choosing “could also raise questions about why one family merited a call but another did not.”

As for how Tr-mp handled the call to Myeshia Johnson—who was on her way to receive her husband’s body when the call came in—we will never know exactly what happened. In the car with Mrs. Johnson was a Florida congresswoman, Rep. Frederica Wilson, who first brought her version of what happened to national attention because the call was on speakerphone. The New York Times put it this way:

Ms. Wilson said that during the call, the president told Ms. Johnson “something to the fact that he knew what he was getting into when he signed up,” the congresswoman said in an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Wednesday.

“But that’s not the worst part,” Ms. Wilson said. “She was crying the whole time and when she hung up the phone she looked at me and said ‘he didn’t even remember his name.’ That’s the hurting part.”

On CNN Tuesday night, Rep. Wilson elaborated:

She has just lost her husband, she was just told that he cannot have an open casket funeral which gives her all kinds of nightmares how his body must look, how his face must look, and this is what the president of the United States says to her?

Tr-mp, of course, couldn’t just leave it alone. Or he couldn’t just say, “Hey, I’m sorry if my remarks were misunderstood.” Instead, he said via Twitter early Wednesday morning:

Democrat Congresswoman totally fabricated what I said to the wife of a soldier who died in action (and I have proof). Sad!

When he was asked a short time later about the matter by reporters (just before a meeting with the Senate Finance Committee on his ridiculous tax heist), he said—with Claire McCaskill unfortunately sitting by his side—the following about Congresswoman Wilson’s claim:

Didn’t say what that congresswoman said. Didn’t say it at all. She knows it and she now is not saying it. I did not say what she said, and I’d like her to make the statement again because I did not say what she said. I had a very nice conversation with the woman, with the wife, who sounded like a lovely woman. Did not say what the congresswoman said, and most people aren’t too surprised to hear that.

He was then asked about the proof he claimed he had. He replied:

Let her make her statement again and then you’ll find out.

He said that twice. And Rep. Wilson quickly tweeted a response:

I stand my account of the call with @realDonaldTrump and was not the only one who heard and was dismayed by his insensitive remarks.

Later, Sgt. Johnson’s mother, Cowanda Jones-Johnson, corroborated the congresswoman’s account via Facebook:

Yes, he did state that comment.

Obviously, there is no “proof” as Tr-mp claimed. There’s nothing but his word, and the words of those who have demonstrated a willingness to lie for him, against the words of others. It’s quite possible that an awkward Tr-mp awkwardly tried to express what he thought was sympathy. But sympathy and empathy are strangers to him. He wouldn’t even know if he said the wrong thing because he has no right thing in his mind to compare it to. But none of that is really the point.

The real rock-bottom offense here is that we have a man, pretending to be president, who has broken perhaps the last taboo that almost all Americans acknowledge: don’t disrespect those who have given the last full measure of devotion. Is it too much to ask of such a man to honor fallen soldiers by a dignified silence, even if he feels personally slighted by something a congresswoman or a family member said? Is that really too much to ask? Is it too much to ask of a man who has stupidly started a fight with black NFL players—whom he accuses of disrespecting the country by simply kneeling during the national anthem—to avoid starting a fight around a quasi-sacred duty of the commander-in chief? Is it?

Whether he was misunderstood, whether he garbled words of consolation, what he did after that is as shameful as anything he has done. He didn’t just attempt to politicize a soldier’s death, as many have charged. He did more than that. He has shredded what’s left of the dignity of the office he holds by dishonoring the sacrifice of a man who left behind a mother, a pregnant wife, and two little children.

We know Tr-mp can’t help himself. He is sick. His very presence in the White House is a perversion. But the fact that he will continue on in that job, the fact that our system seems powerless to remove him no matter what he does, is a more profound perversion than perhaps any of us want to admit.

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The Man Who Never Weeps

“that’s a fucking lie. to say president obama (or past presidents) didn’t call the family members of soldiers KIA – he’s a deranged animal.”

—Alyssa Mastromonaco, former White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations

I have purposely avoided writing about Tr-mp lately. What more can be said about such a man? Recently someone said to me, “I hate him so much.” But that hate, while understandable, is misdirected.

Tr-mp houses in his head a plethora of pathetic pathologies that compel him to do the things he does. Nothing comes of hating him. The blame for Tr-mp goes to the culture that made him famous despite his failures, to the system that put him in power despite his unfitness, and that keeps him in power because of an unseemly institutional lust in the Republican Party for particular policy goals most members believe they can only achieve with the help of this historically dangerous and tragic figure.

Image result for mcconnell and trumpI watched his performance in front of the cameras yesterday, with the creepy Mitch McConnell by his side. I watched it all, as painful as it was. For almost two weeks Tr-mp has failed to even mention the deaths of four U.S. special forces soldiers in a desert in Niger. These and other U.S. soldiers were apparently part of a larger contingent of Nigerien troops who had met with some local leaders and were later ambushed by an Islamist terrorist group. Details are still unclear as to exactly what happened, but reportedly the mission these troops were on was not well supported. French aircraft rescued them, after flying from bases in Mali, hundreds of miles away. We will certainly find out more as days go by, but as for Tr-mp, we already know enough.

At a press conference yesterday, someone asked Tr-mp about the four soldiers and why he hadn’t spoken about them or why he hadn’t reach out to the families of the fallen. By now you know what happened. Tr-mp, because it comes so naturally to him, lied. He accused President Obama directly, and other presidents indirectly, of not making calls to families who had lost loved ones in service to the country. For this damnable lie, Tr-mp has received justified condemnation, but he’s also received plenty of unjustifiable defense. As always.

We have one of the nation’s worst natural disasters in history going on in Puerto Rico and Tr-mp cares only about himself and his feud with athletes or other trivia. He has been both condemned and defended for his posture toward Puerto Ricans—again, as always. When he attacked war hero John McCain at the beginning of his campaign in 2015, he was both condemned and defended. When he attacked a Gold Star family, same thing. When he admitted to sexual assault on tape, ditto. When he appeared at CIA headquarters, in front of a memorial wall that honors fallen CIA officers, he talked about the size of his inaugural crowd and his war with the press. For that inhumanity he was showered with shame, but he had plenty of people offering him an umbrella.

He recently attacked John McCain again, this time for a vote against a nasty healthcare bill that McCain, a man now ailing from brain cancer, found objectionable. Tr-mp once more was condemned—and defended. Tr-mp has now made good on a threat to put millions in jeopardy of losing their health insurance, a move that was followed by more condemnation—and an indefatigable defense. I could go on and on with the outrageous things he has said about and done to real people, all of it accompanied by necessary and appropriate condemnation and an unnecessary and inappropriate defense.

We are witnessing the behavior of a man, as I have said before, who has no soul. To put it another way, he apparently has no neurological capacity for empathy. He cannot feel, much less bear, the burden of another human being. He knows nothing of honor, of sacrifice. He is a man who cannot weep. You can imagine Tr-mp doing a lot of things, but you can’t imagine him sitting alone in the Oval Office composing a letter to the family of a fallen soldier and shedding a single tear. You just can’t imagine such a normal, human reaction coming from him. And as sad as that is, the saddest part of this deplorable drama we’re living through, the most distressing reality we face in real time, is that a large number of everyday Americans—your Republican neighbors and friends and family members—along with nearly every Republican member of Congress, will move on from this latest outrage, this latest offense to honesty and decency, like yesterday was just another day.

We simply have to come to terms with the fact—those of us who see Tr-mp as the sick, empty man he is—that a large swath of our fellow Americans just don’t give a damn that nearly every day Tr-mp assaults what’s left of the old idea of American exceptionalism, which by now is a corpse that he drags through our national streets, mocking us, mocking our country, and mocking what we used to believe we all shared, if we shared nothing else: our common decency, our democratic values, and our lofty, if not fully realized, ideals.

 

The Last And Best Word On Tr-mp’s Racist War On Black NFL Players

Nick Wright, of Fox Sports, has had no problem in the past talking beyond sports. Here is his five-minute take on Tr-mp’s racist rants against protests by black NFL players:

Tweet Home, Alabama

 Published 9/25/2017 @ 6:44pm

The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, where about 3 1/2 million Americans live, was assaulted by Hurricane Maria and has been in severe distress. CNN reported it this way today:

Hurricane Maria whipped Puerto Rico with Irma-level winds, drenched the island with Harvey-level flooding, crippled communications, decimated buildings and damaged a dam that puts downstream residents at risk of catastrophe.

Yet help has been slow to come, officials and residents argue.”This is a game changer,” Governor Ricardo Rosselló told CNN Monday. “We need to prevent a humanitarian crisis occurring in America.”

Many believe the humanitarian crisis is well underway, as the island has turned dark due to the loss of electricity. Many also believe the Tr-mp administration, and Congress, are moving too slowly to confront the crisis. One of those many is Hillary Clinton, who tweeted:

President Tr-mp, Sec. Mattis, and DOD should send the Navy, including the USNS Comfort, to Puerto Rico now. These are American citizens.

Another critic of Tr-mp’s response is Clinton’s former spokesman, Brian Fallon, who tweeted today:

Trump’s racist neglect of Puerto Rico is threatening lives. It is time to start caring about the crisis there.

As for Tr-mp, he’s been busy, rallying and tweeting. But not about Puerto Rico. As we all know, he has more important things on his mind: uppity blacks “disrespecting” the flag by daring to take seriously what it stands, or is supposed to stand, for. Tr-mp tried to sell his racist gobshite in Alabama, where racism, judging by the rally-goers’ reaction to his “sons of bitches” tantrum, is still a valuable commodity.

Puerto RicoI suggested on Twitter that if Puerto Ricans want immediate help, they should rename their island “Alabama.” Maybe borrow a southern dialect when they beg Washington Republicans for help. Perhaps wear a Tr-mp trucker hat and refer to themselves as part of the “white working class” when they post pleas on Facebook. Whatever it takes.

The truth is that the disaster in Puerto Rico just hasn’t received, at least up until now, the attention it would have received if it had happened in, say, Alabama. If those Puerto Ricans were part of the white working class, a subject of much press coverage for months and months, they’d be bathing in clean water by now. And if you think that a big part of the reason they are not is because the Americans in Puerto Rico have something in common with the athletes in the NFL and NBA that Tr-mp is so preoccupied with, you are onto something. Tr-mp is, most clearly, a racist. In fact, his racial identity, and the way he used it during the campaign, more than anything else explains why he is where he is.

Ta-Nehisi Coates began his latest thought-provoking article (“The First White President“) with this sentence:

It is insufficient to state the obvious of Donald Tr-mp: that he is a white man who would not be president were it not for this fact.

The rest of that fantastic piece demonstrates why such a statement is insufficient. Read it, if you haven’t already. You won’t be disappointed. Some of what Coates has said I have tried to say for eight years now. But I can’t say it like this:

For Tr-mp, it almost seems that the fact of Obama, the fact of a black president, insulted him personally. The insult intensified when Obama and Seth Meyers publicly humiliated him at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in 2011. But the bloody heirloom ensures the last laugh. Replacing Obama is not enough—Tr-mp has made the negation of Obama’s legacy the foundation of his own. And this too is whiteness. “Race is an idea, not a fact,” the historian Nell Irvin Painter has written, and essential to the construct of a “white race” is the idea of not being a nigger. Before Barack Obama, niggers could be manufactured out of Sister Souljahs, Willie Hortons, and Dusky Sallys. But Donald Tr-mp arrived in the wake of something more potent—an entire nigger presidency with nigger health care, nigger climate accords, and nigger justice reform, all of which could be targeted for destruction or redemption, thus reifying the idea of being white. Tr-mp truly is something new—the first president whose entire political existence hinges on the fact of a black president. And so it will not suffice to say that Tr-mp is a white man like all the others who rose to become president. He must be called by his rightful honorific—America’s first white president.

Coates rightfully complains about those “theoreticians”—like libertarian Charles Murray, co-author of The Bell Curve—who believe Tr-mp’s rise is the fault of liberals who despised and condescended to “the white working class.” If you have read any of the post-election analysis, which is still going on, you have no doubt heard this point made. Even some liberals, like Anthony Bourdain, have fallen for that nonsense. Coates quotes him:

The utter contempt with which privileged Eastern liberals such as myself discuss red-state, gun-country, working-class America as ridiculous and morons and rubes is largely responsible for the upswell of rage and contempt and desire to pull down the temple that we’re seeing now.

Well, let’s see. Is that what liberals, whether “Eastern” or anywhere else in America, do? And even if we do, is there some truth in it? You tell me, after you read a piece published recently (“For those in the Party of Tr-mp, the Republicans—not the president—are to blame“) by Jenna Johnson, a reporter for the Washington Post. She interviewed Tr-mp voters in a small town (population: 8,461) in Granville County, North Carolina, a place she described as a long-time “Democratic stronghold” that “was one of six rural counties in North Carolina that flipped from voting twice for Barack Obama to voting for Trump last year.” (Tr-mp won by less than 700 votes.) Johnson began her piece this way:

During one of their usual morning gatherings at the Bojangles’ restaurant in this rural town near the Virginia border, a group of retirees from a local Baptist church shook their heads at the failure of Washington to repeal Obamacare, lower the national debt, build a wall along the southern border, kick people off welfare or get anything else accomplished.

Should we call these folks “ridiculous” for desiring to build Tr-mp’s ridiculous wall or to kick people off welfare? Or should we try to sympathetically address their “white working-class” mentality, which they undoubtedly carried into retirement?  How about this from the article:

“I think he’s an idiot, but I voted for him,” another church member chimed in, as others laughed and a woman sitting across from him countered with: “As opposed to what was in there before?”

Should liberals dare to call out this brand of stupidity? Should we be afraid to say critical things about someone who proudly admitted they voted for a candidate they considered “an idiot”? More than that, should we back away from saying harsh things about someone who is dumb enough to suggest Tr-mp is not as much of an idiot as Obama was? Huh?

How about this:

Many of the church members gathered at Bojangles’ last week pointed to the president’s Christian faith, saying he brought the Bible and prayer back into the White House. Even though Trump rarely attends church himself, he frequently talked about religion on the campaign trail, promising that with him in the White House, Christians would once again feel free to openly say “Merry Christmas.”

“President Trump has talked more about Christian values than any of the last two or three presidents that we’ve had,” said Wayne Overton, 79, who is retired from the Postal Service and now raises cows on a farm a few miles outside of town and tours the country in a motor home. “And I admire him for picking the vice president that he picked. If something happened, our country would be in good hands.”

I don’t care what Charles Murray thinks. I don’t care what Anthony Bourdain thinks. I don’t care what anyone thinks, if they think this kind of ignorance and irrationality and thoughtlessness shouldn’t be addressed forcefully just because it exited the lips of white people, working or retired, in North Carolina or Alabama or anywhere else white folks think they are an oppressed people. These white “Christians” are rubes and their views deserve contempt. And those who think the election of Tr-mp had very little to do with racism are part of the problem and deserve, if not contempt, at least fierce criticism. And those who argue, as Tr-mp’s press secretary laughingly tried to do today, that his remarks in Alabama about athlete-protesters—who all happened to be black—have nothing to do with race, they are either liars or don’t understand the country in which they live.

After charging liberals with some of the same sins as right-wingers, Coates quotes Bernie Sanders:

Some people think that the people who voted for Trump are racists and sexists and homophobes and just deplorable folks. I don’t agree.

Coates responded to this perfectly:

This is not exculpatory. Certainly not every Trump voter is a white supremacist, just as not every white person in the Jim Crow South was a white supremacist. But every Trump voter felt it acceptable to hand the fate of the country over to one.

You see, those white church folks in Granville County, North Carolina, or those rally cultists in Huntsville, Alabama, last Friday night may or may not be closet white supremacists themselves, but they put all of us in the hands of a man who without a doubt had no trouble sending the message of white supremacy during the campaign and who, also undoubtedly, sits in the White’s House because of that strategy. Coates notes how even Barack Obama underestimated Tr-mpism, underestimated “the power of whiteness.” He puts it in a way I can’t:

Trump, more than any other politician, understood…the great power in not being a nigger.

That’s what Tr-mp was doing in Alabama. That’s what he was doing by trashing black NFL players who have been solemnly kneeling during the national anthem. That’s what he was doing by disingenuously disinviting Steph Curry, NBA champion, from a visit to the White’s House (Curry had already said he wasn’t going). Tr-mp was exercising, in front of people who well understood what he was doing, the “great power in not being a nigger.”

It will surely come to pass that Congress will offer some substantial relief help to Puerto Rico. And it will surely come to pass that Tr-mp will visit the islanders and photo-op his way from place to place. But that rally in Huntsville on Friday, and his subsequent tweets over the weekend, demonstrate where his heart is and has always been.

And it is up to us, those of us who have seen this backlash against Obama coming, to call out all of those who prioritize the “white working class” and refuse to admit the obvious: Tr-mp is using his whiteness, as orange-tinted as it is, as a tool to keep himself in power, to keep himself where, if the ideals of America still matter, he most certainly doesn’t belong.

No, The Republican Party Is Not Splitting In Two

Ezra Klein wrote a short piece today—after a week of Tr-mp receiving some undeserved praise for his embarrassing conduct at the United Nations—that simply points out what everyone in the pundit-dominated media should, but doesn’t, know:

It’s become a joke on politics Twitter that Trump’s pivot is always around the corner, that the media can’t stop announcing that this is the moment Trump finally became president. But there will be no pivot. There will be no moment Trump suddenly and permanently grows into the job.

Most of us know this, at least those of us who don’t play the game of pretending that Kelly or McMaster or Mattis can transform an ignorant and disturbed clown into a serviceable chief executive of the country. Not gonna happen. But the media game goes on.

Another media game going on right now is an attempt to separate the Republican “establishment” from the Tr-mp cult, which pundits universally call his “base.” While media commentators have long tried to divide the GOP into those who think Tr-mp is an Orange Jesus and those who are allegedly just tolerating the Apricot Anti-Christ for “agenda” purposes, the job began in earnest recently when Tr-mp made a “deal” with “Nancy” and “Chuck” over DACA—a deal not worth the paper it wasn’t written on. Today, NBC News, through its “First Read” publication (authored by Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, and Carrie Dann), kept the game going with this:

How Donald Trump Is Splitting the Republican Party in Two

The article began with a confident lede:

We now have data to prove that today’s Republican Party is split in two — between a Trump Party and your more traditional GOP.

My first reaction was: horseshit. We hear such talk all the time. We hear how there are really two GOPs. We hear talk of a Tr-mp versus Ryan-McConnell dynamic. We hear how Tr-mp despises those “establishment” leaders and how they don’t much like him either. Again: horseshit. Even if that were true, it doesn’t mean a damn thing. In politics, especially Republican politics dominated by white men, it doesn’t matter if you like the white guy you’re dealing with, so long as he will do your dealing. The real dynamic that means something in this drama is this: for Tr-mp, it is whether the GOP leaders in Congress can give him something—anything—he can sell to his rally cultists as a Big Win; for the GOP “establishment” it is whether Tr-mp will sign regressive legislation like gutting Medicaid and giving tax cuts to bazillionaires.

The truth in all this is that there really is very little practical difference between those who self-identify to pollsters as “Tr-mp supporters” and those who identify as “Party supporters.” The latest poll, upon which the article above was based, used the distinction:

This week’s NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll asked this question to Republican voters: Do you consider yourself to be more a supporter of Tr-mp or a supporter of the Republican Party? Fifty-eight percent of them answered Tr-mp, and 38 percent said the GOP.

The Tr-mp supporters are more likely to hail from rural areas and to be men, while Republican Party supporters are more likely to be women and residents of the suburbs. And the differences between them — on their views of GOP leaders, immigration and race — are fascinating.

Get that? First, almost six in ten Republican voters identify as Tr-mpers. Less than four in ten identify with the party itself. But let’s look at the “fascinating” results. Exactly how fascinating are they? Well, here’s the first result presented:

_________________________________________
Approve of Tr-mp’s job performance
Tr-mp supporters: 99 percent

Party supporters: 84 percent
__________________________________________

You tell me just how “fascinating” it is that almost all Tr-mp cultists support their cult leader? Who didn’t know that? But also tell me how fascinating it is, in terms of an alleged split in the party, that 84% of Image result for trump is the republican partysupposedly establishment “Party supporters” also support Tr-mp? That’s not much difference. Yet NBC pundits tried to make that a stunning difference, so much so that, remember, the title of this article was “How Donald Trump Is Splitting the Republican Party in Two.” Is a 99 and 84 Tr-mp approval rating result evidence of a split between the cultists and the establishment? Especially of a split in two? Huh? Of course not. But the evidence provided by their own poll was shaped to fit the narrative of the writers.

Although there are more significant differences between Tr-mp voters and GOP establishment types on some of the other issues, on the only issue that matters, whether Tr-mp is performing well, the two groups are almost in complete agreement. And so long as Republican leaders in Congress look at these polls showing such support—among all Republicans—for Tr-mp, they will be afraid to act against him—even if Robert Mueller, bless his heart, gets the goods on him. Again, fear of those who approve of Tr-mp is all that matters.

I know it is hard for some folks in the news business to admit it, but Tr-mp not only belongs to the Republican Party, what is more important is that the Republican Party, almost every bigoted square mile of it, belongs to him. When it comes to Donald the Dotard, there is no split.

Unpresidented, Again

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

—Dara Lind, of Vox

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Man. What was he thinking?

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

Law And Odor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rosenthal has a right to be concerned:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Just Because They Claim They’re Christians”

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

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

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

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

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

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

But Brody wrote something else I find interesting:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Two Kinds Of Madmen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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