Tuesday, August 22, 2017
Watching Der Trumpenführer deliver his address last night was difficult. for several reasons. First, the man spoke at largely a grade school level - perhaps for the sake of his ignorance embracing base - and came across as anything but presidential. Second, I had the feeling that I was watching a modern day Emperor Nero who seemed oblivious to the manner in which he is tearing the social fabric of the country apart. Trump has never been a good speaker. What was amazing was that he was able to ploddingly read the teleprompter without veering off course into impromptu batshitery and/or a pro-white supremacist rant. Anyone who has seriously observed Trump for some time should see that the man is mentally unstable - even some of his past acquaintances have observed his mental decline. All of this makes the fact that he occupies the White House frightening as a column in the Washington Post observes. Here are excerpts:
How unstable and divorced from reality is President Trump? We’ve reached the point where the nation has the right and the need to know.
We’re not accustomed to asking such questions about our presidents. We don’t know how to even begin inquiring into a president’s mental health, so we rationalize aberrant behavior as being part of some subtle strategy. We say that Trump is cleverly playing to his base, or employing the “madman theory” of foreign relations, or simply being unpredictable to gain an advantage by keeping everyone off balance.
But if Trump were really playing three-dimensional chess, presumably he’d be getting things done. His approval ratings would be rising rather than falling. Allies in Congress would be expressing admiration rather than increasing dismay.
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) hit a nerve Thursday when he saidthat Trump “has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence” needed in a president. . . . . . Corker said he feared that “our nation is going to go through great peril” and called for “radical change” at the White House. Democrats have been slightly more plain-spoken. Rep. Adam B. Schiff told CNN on Sunday that “I certainly think that there’s an issue with the president’s capability.” And fellow California Rep. Jackie Speier tweeted last week that Trump “is showing signs of erratic behavior and mental instability that place the country in grave danger.” Trump’s performance last week following the Charlottesville incident was indeed alarming, the problem being not just what he said but how he said it. . . . . Trump went back to blaming “both sides” in what can only be called an angry, red-faced rant. Anyone can have a bad day. But according to many published reports, Trump often erupts into rage — especially when he sees something he doesn’t like on the cable news shows he is said to watch compulsively. I have spoken with people who have known Trump for decades and who say he has changed. He exhibits less self-awareness, these longtime acquaintances say, and less capacity for sustained focus. Indeed, it is instructive to compare television interviews of Trump recorded years ago with those conducted now. To this layman’s eyes and ears, there seems to have been deterioration. The stakes are so high, however, that the officials who work alongside Trump and observe him closely bear a tremendous responsibility. There is a huge difference between sounding as unhinged as North Korea’s Kim Jong Un and actually being that unstable. It is uncomfortable to talk about the president’s mental health. But at this point it is irresponsible not to.
While he continues to play his Sergeant Schultz routine of feigning ignorance on virtually everything, especially all things Russian, he nonetheless continues to confirm that he is unfit for the presidency and that, if Trump is removed from office, Pence must go with him. Jennifer Rubin - perhaps at this point former Republican, conservative columnist for the Washington Post lets loose on Pence's lies and disingenuous behavior. I hope that Robert Mueller fully investigates what Pence knew and when he knew it. If Trump goes, we do not need yet another pathological liar in the White House. Here are column highlights:
Vice President Pence is in an unusual position. He must try to remain a confidante of the president, but he cannot for his own sake — and, if he might have to assume the presidency, for the sake of the country — be seen as adopting President Trump’s noxious views on race, misleading the American people on any issue or generally appearing as a disingenuous sycophant. Unfortunately, he regularly fails to steer clear of the latter.
At times his gushing over Trump is downright embarrassing. Pence’s unctuous comments tend to mystify listeners rather than convince them, as when he defended Trump’s attacks on his own attorney general.
Likewise when Pence on a foreign trip blatantly misstates Trump’s words, Pence comes off as dishonest and spineless:
Responding to a question about criticism of Trump’s statement, Pence both selectively quoted Trump and then added his own condemnation of neo-Nazis and others.
He then ventured to add context to what Trump had meant by “many sides.”
“The president also made clear that behavior by others of different militant perspectives are also unacceptable in our political debate and discourse,” Pence added.
Aping Trump’s mindless attacks on the media (for reporting his own words), Trump comes across as over-eager and disingenuous. (“Many in the media spent an awful lot of time focusing on what the president said and criticisms of what the president said instead of criticizing those who brought that hatred and violence to the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia,” he said.)
His speeches ladle on the praise to such an extent one wonders if he’s serious (and has horrendous political judgment) or is so insecure that he feels it necessary to genuflect before the delusional leader for fear of losing favor.
On his most recent trip, Pence outdid himself. The Post reported:
On a normal day, Vice President Pence’s praise of his boss knows few limits. But on Thursday, it seemed to reach a new level. During a visit to the Panama Canal here, Pence spoke of President Trump as the modern reincarnation of one of the vice president’s personal heroes, Theodore Roosevelt.
This is as ludicrous as it is unhelpful since it winds up underscoring the enormous gap in character and ability between Trump and his predecessors. Again, Pence doesn’t make the president look any better; he just makes himself look servile.
Aside from making himself look less credible and impressive, Pence’s excessive praise will come back to haunt him, and undermine his stature, if he is forced to take over for the president before 2020 or pursues the presidency on his own down the road. He surely cannot align himself ever again with Trump’s lies (e.g., the false cover story about the reasons for firing FBI director James B. Comey), nor does he want to be seen as making excuses for Trump’s racist, white supremacist sympathies.
As for the last remark, Pence is a Christofascist himself. I'm sorry, but check the history of Christofascist groups and you will find white supremacists. Pence likely shares Trump's racist and loathsome views.
I hope my "friends" who voted for Donald Trump are paying attention. Der Trumpenführer's nominee to head the science department of the Department of Agriculture underscores the anti-LGBT loathing that Trump has brought to the executive branch of the federal government. In addition, it highlights the embrace of ignorance that now motivates the White House but by extension, the Republican Party. Sam Clovis (pictured above), Trump's pick to be chief scientist for the Department of Agriculture, has argued that homosexuality is a choice and that the sanctioning of same-sex marriage could lead to the legalization of pedophilia. Never mind that EVERY legitimate mental health and medical association in America (and around the world) states that sexual orientation is not a choice and that so-called "ex-gay" therapy does not work. Worse yet, Clovis ignores the fact that the vast majority of pedophiles are HETEROSEXUAL men, many of whom are married to women. Like Trump, Clovis doesn't let facts and objective reality get in the way of his of his bigoted agenda and/or desire to maintain the support of the Christofascists, the last remaining core of his base. A piece at CNN looks at this latest batshitery. Here are excerpts:
Sam Clovis, Donald Trump's pick to be chief scientist for the Department of Agriculture, has argued that homosexuality is a choice and that the sanctioning of same-sex marriage could lead to the legalization of pedophilia, a CNN KFile review of Clovis' writings, radio broadcasts, and speeches has found.
Clovis made the comments between 2012 and 2014 in his capacity as a talk radio host, political activist, and briefly as a candidate for US Senate in Iowa. His nomination has drawn criticism from Senate Democrats, who argue his lack of scientific background makes him unqualified for the USDA post overseeing science.
Clovis has repeatedly argued that the science on homosexuality is unsettled and that "LGBT behavior" is a choice. The American Psychological Association has said that while there is no scientific consensus on the causes of sexual orientation, "most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation."
Asked for comment on Clovis' beliefs surrounding the science of homosexuality, a USDA spokeswoman told CNN: "The Supreme Court settled the issue in 2015."
KFile has previously reported on controversial comments Clovis made during his time as a talk radio host about race and then-President Barack Obama. At that time, a USDA spokesperson said that Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue still supports Clovis to be the under secretary for research, education and economics.
Clovis, whose background and views are strongly rooted in the politics of conservative talk radio, made most of his remarks in the context of discussing his belief LGBT people should not be given protections under the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. He says he believed that if LGBT people got such protections, pastors wouldn't be allowed to preach against the "aberration" that "alternative lifestyles" were to church doctrine.
Writing in an op-ed for the local conservative blog Iowa Republican in April 2011, Clovis argued science of being LGBT was unsettled and if being gay was genetic, then other people genetically-disposed like left-handed people should receive constitutional protections as well.
At a campaign stop during his failed campaign for the Republican Senate nomination in Iowa, Clovis said the science was still out but "as far as we know" being LGBT is choice. Clovis then concludes the protecting of LGBT people could mean that pedophilia would also be protected.
"Someone who engages in LGBT behavior -- I don't know what the science is on this, I think it's still out -- but as far as we know, LGBT behavior is a choice they make, Clovis says in a video obtained by CNN's KFile. "So we're being asked to provide Constitutional protections for behavior, a choice in behavior as opposed to a primary characteristic."
"There's no equivalency there between the civil rights issue associated between those protected classes and the civil rights of someone who engages in a particular behavior," continues Clovis. "Follow the logic, if you engage in a particular behavior, what also becomes protected? If we protect LGBT behavior, what other behaviors are we going to protect? Are we going to protect pedophilia?
I hate to sound mean, petty or cruel, but does Clovis think morbid obesity is a choice? Or will he claim that his disgusting obesity has nothing to do with his own choices and actions?
Monday, August 21, 2017
The previous post looked at the manner in which many Americans allow themselves to be come white supremacists by default., often as the live their lives in all white neighborhoods and send their children to mostly lily white private schools. They pretend to themselves that they are liberal and open minded, yet go to the polls and vote Republican election cycle after election cycle even as the Republican party pushes an agenda that seeks to disenfranchise minorities and slash the social safety net for the lest fortunate whom they often equate with those with darker skin colors. Donald Trump had an opportunity after Charlottesville to reject racism and Nazism, but failed the test. A column in the New York Times looks at Trump's failure and what it says about both Trump and those who continue to support him. It's a short step from quietly accepting racism and homophobia to Nazism. Here are highlights:
“No. 1, I am the least anti-Semitic person that you’ve ever seen in your entire life. No. 2, racism, the least racist person.” So the president said at a news conference in February. These words left me uneasy. A moment ago, as I was looking at photographs of young men in Charlottesville, Va., who were from my home state, Ohio, and thinking about the message “Heil Hitler” on the T-shirt that one wore, it dawned on me why.
I spent years studying the testimonies of Jewish survivors of the Holocaust and the recollections of their rescuers. When the rescuers were asked why they did what they did, they usually avoided the question. If they ventured a reply, it was simply to say that they did what anyone would have done. Historians who read sources develop intuitions about the material. The intuition I developed was that people who bragged about rescuing Jews had generally not done so; they were, in fact, more likely to be anti-Semites and racists. Rescuers almost never boast.
I write these lines in Poland, where the Holocaust is present in every absence, in a house where the Polish Nobel Prize-winning poet Czeslaw Milosz spent his summers when he was the same age as the young men I see in those photographs.
“We know ourselves,” . . . . “only insofar as we have been tested.”
Until we have been tested, there is no sense in boasting of our goodness; afterward, there is no need. After Charlottesville, President Trump faced an easy test, and failed. When presented with an obvious opportunity to condemn the evil that was and is Nazism, he first waited, then equivocated, then read from a teleprompter, then relativized. He spoke of “very fine people on both sides.”
The Nazi groups that marched in Charlottesville cannot be considered a “side.” When they carry torches, they imitate Nazi rituals. When they perform the call and response of “Trump! Hail” and “Victory! Hail!” they are translating Nazi performances that we know better in German: “Hitler! Heil!” and “Sieg! Heil!” In Charlottesville, American Nazis shouted “Sieg! Heil!” as they passed a synagogue. When the supporters of the alt-right chant that “Jews will not replace us,” they recapitulate the Nazi idea of a world Jewry that stifles the master race and must therefore be removed from the planet. When they shout “Blood and soil,” they repeat a Nazi slogan signifying that races will murder races for land without mercy and forever. These views do not define a “side,” but rather a worldview in which the United States of America, with its Constitution and laws, and with its hard-won daily understandings of rights and responsibilities, would no longer exist.
Hitler and his henchmen strategically defined themselves, from the outset, as a “side,” as the defenders of the system against the other “side,” the left. . . . . In power, Hitler assimilated all opponents to the other “side” and had them sent to camps or killed. When Germany’s parliament, the Reichstag, burned, Hitler had already established in his rhetoric that the other “side” was violent, and he used the (false) claim that the other “side” had committed terrorism to bring the German republic to an end.
The president has failed when no failure can be innocent. He has provided American Nazis with three services, for which they have thanked him: He has normalized their ideology; he has excused their actions; and he has given them hope that he will blame his opponents the next time America is struck by terrorism.
A writer for The Daily Stormer (a website that takes its name from the most anti-Semitic newspaper of the Nazi period) called Charlottesville a “Beer Hall Putsch,” referring to an early attempt by Hitler to seize power. The writer’s meaning was that the events in Virginia were an early failure that promises later victory. American Nazis dream of another Reichstag fire, a moment of terror in which the president will show his true colors and his opposition can be crushed.
We might choose to forget these slogans and these events from the years before World War II, but American Nazis remember the history in their own way, and so does President Trump. The Confederate statues he admires are mostly artifacts of the early years of the 20th century, when Hitler admired the United States for its Jim Crow laws, when Mr. Trump’s father was arrested at a Klan rally, before America passed its test. The presidential slogan “America First” is a summons to an alternative America, one that might have been real, one that did not fight the Nazis, one that stayed home when the world was aflame, one that failed its test.
That America might yet become our country. Whether or not it does now depends upon us. We are being tested, and so we will come to know ourselves.
Each of us who supports liberty for all and equality under the law must resist daily the forces that Trump has chosen to embrace. If we fail to do so, we are little better than the "good Germans" who turned a blind eye to Hitler's horrors and genocide.
I truly cannot grasp the mindset where one believes that simply because someone has a differing skin color or religious faith that person is immediately deemed to be "other," if you will, and not entitled to the same civil lights and rights to life. liberty and the pursuit of happiness as oneself. Perhaps I cannot grasp the mindset because my parents were not prejudicial and I went to school at a small school division where we had both African American and American Indian (Onondaga Indians to be specific) who fully participated in school life: band, cheer-leading, sports. I slow danced with a black girl when I was probably around 13 years old (I still recall her name). And while even then I knew in my heart that I was attracted to boys who were "my type" - even though I was in deep denial - I never thought of those who were different as somehow lesser, or not fully human. I do not say any of this to sound self-congratulatory. I simply do not understand the mindset. Perhaps being gay and often targeted by bigots makes one think more of the plight of others. I simply do not know.
All of this said, sadly, such is not the case with white supremacist and Neo-Nazis. Worse yet, by failing to openly condemn those who are racists and bigots, many become white supremacists by default. They allow the hate to spread and continue. A piece in CNN looks at the way in which too many allow themselves to be white supremacists by default. Here are article excerpts (Note: Edward Ball, cited in the article, is the cousin of two of my college fraternity brothers):
Blame President Trump for his tepid moral response. Call the neo-Nazis and white nationalists thugs. Fill your Facebook and Twitter accounts with moral outrage.
But the tragedy that took place in Charlottesville last weekend could not have occurred without the tacit acceptance of millions of ordinary, law-abiding Americans who helped create such a racially explosive climate, some activists, historians and victims of extremism say.
It's easy to focus on the angry white men in paramilitary gear who looked like they were mobilizing for a race war in the Virginia college town last Saturday. But it's the ordinary people -- the voters who elected a reality TV star with a record of making racially insensitive comments, the people who move out of the neighborhood when people of color move in, the family members who ignore a relative's anti-Semitism -- who give these type of men room to operate, they say.
That was the twisted formula that made the Holocaust and Rwanda possible and allowed Jim Crow segregation to survive: Nice people looked the other way while those with an appetite for violence did the dirty work, says Mark Naison, a political activist and history professor at Fordham University in New York City.
''You have to have millions of people who are willing to be bystanders, who push aside evidence of racism, Islamophobia or sexism. You can't have one without the other,'' Naison says.
"We are a country with a few million passionate white supremacists -- and tens of millions of white supremacists by default," he says.
four types of ordinary people who also play a part in the country's racial divisions, Naison and others say:
No. 1: The 'down-low' segregationists
Many of the white racists who marched in Charlottesville were condemned because they openly said they don't believe in integration or racial equality.
But millions of ordinary white Americans have been sending that message to black and brown people for at least a half a century.
They send it with their actions: They don't want to live next to or send their children to school with black or brown people, historians say.
This isn't the Jim Crow segregation that one reads about in the history books. It's the covert or "down-low" segregationist movement that has shaped much of contemporary America since overt racism became taboo in the 1960s, says David Billings, who wrote about growing up white in the segregated South in his memoir, "Deep Denial: The Persistence of White Supremacy in United States History and Life."
"Across the country, white people withdrew from the 'public' sphere and migrated to 'whites only' suburbs to evade racial integration," Billings wrote. "The word 'public' preceding words like 'housing,' 'hospital,' 'health care,' 'transportation,' 'defender,' 'schools,' and even 'swimming pool' in some parts of the country became code words that meant poor and most often black and Latino. The word 'private' began to mean 'better.'''
This white separatism continues today. . . . "White people in the past century and a half have made a conscious effort to resegregate themselves," says Edward Ball, author of "Slaves in the Family," a memoir about coming to terms with learning his family owned slaves.
"We have to work hard to make our social lives reflect our values, because white people do not choose the company of people of color generally," he says.
The angry white men in Charlottesville were just being open about their white supremacy. Ball says he wasn't surprised by their boldness.
No. 2: Those who say 'yes, but...'
President Trump's critics blasted him for not coming out strong enough against the white racists who marched in Charlottesville. Trump initially denounced the "egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides." It was the "many sides" qualifier that infuriated some people. They wanted an unequivocal denunciation of racism from a leader.
Trump's "many sides" response, though, wasn't that abnormal in the context of US history. It used to be the norm for white political leaders to draw a moral equivalence between racists and those who suffered from their acts of brutality, historians say.
That "yes, but" approach is often used today to discredit the grievances of the Black Lives Matter movement, another professor says. Whenever an unarmed black or brown person is shot by police, some deflect the issue by saying, "Yes, but all lives matter."
No. 3: Those who choose chaos
There's a famous line from the classic film, "Casablanca." A police officer is closing down a casino, declaring, "I'm shocked -- shocked -- to find that gambling is going on in here!" -- all while pocketing his casino winnings as they're being handed to him on the sly.
That line could apply to Trump supporters who say they're frustrated by the President's statements on race since Charlottesville erupted.
How could you be shocked?
"This is who he is, this is what he does," says Anderson, the Emory University professor. "'Mexicans are rapists and criminals.' That's what he said in his first speech. Their complicity comes in the form of self-denial instead of owning it." For those who say they voted for Trump despite his intolerance, Anderson offers this analogy: Minister Louis Farrakhan.
Farrakhan is a leader in some parts of the black community because of his message of self-help and black empowerment. He reached peak popularity in the 1990s, but he also preached anti-Semitic, anti-white, anti-Catholic and anti-homosexual rhetoric. And the organization he leads, the Nation of Islam, has taught that white people are inherently evil.
No. 4: Those who look the other way
Ari Kohen knows something about the cost of hate. When he looked at images of neo-Nazis chanting "Jews will not replace us!" in Charlottesville, he thought of his grandfather, Zalman Kohen. He was living in rural Romania in 1944 when the Nazis rounded him up with the help of his neighbors and sent him to a death camp.
His grandfather survived, moved to the United States and lived until he was 90. But he never returned to Romania, says Kohen, an associate professor of political science at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
"He could never forgive his neighbors," he says. "These were people who, maybe they didn't love Jews, but these were people who lived next to each other. They knew his family and he knew their family. The idea that they could all stand by while life was completely and forever changed for large portions of their community -- he could never understand it."
Never underestimate the ability of ordinary people to look away.
Some do it with family members. Kohen says the hundreds of white racists who descended on Charlottesville must have family or friends who noticed their behavior beforehand. He suspects that some refused to confront them.
"There's this wink and nod, everyone knows that this person is going down a dangerous path and people passively go along with it," he says. "They don't want to rock the boat. This is family or a friend. It's hard to distance yourself from people you care about."
This passivity extends to how people react when their country's leaders become intolerant, others say. Once you see it coming, you have a duty to act, says Naison, the activist and Fordham professor.
"If you don't speak up when this sort of ideology is being promoted at the highest level, you end up being complicit in the actions taken by its more extreme adherents," Naison says. "Once the demons are unleashed, you've become a co-conspirator."
There's also evidence, though, that millions of ordinary Americans from all walks of life don't want that kind of America. Heather Heyer, the demonstrator who lost her life in Charlottesville, was a young white woman who marched in solidarity with black protesters. Millions of Americans have since taken to the streets or social media to stand against what happened there.
If you want to know why those white racists now feel so emboldened, it may help to look at all the ordinary people around you, your neighbors, your family members, your leaders. But first, start by looking at yourself.
For my "friends" who voted for Trump, if you are not loudly condemning his actions and refusing to look the other way, then you are complicit. You betrayed your LGBT friends when you voted for Trump and it will be your actions that determine whether or not you are a white supremacist by default.