Trump World Grab-Bag--A Collection

Saturday, August 19, 2017

It takes time to craft a positive message--

I think the confusion is because usually, he thinks protests should be "brought to heel".


As noted the other night, Bannon's time art the White House was, indeed, about to draw to a close (although I'm pretty sure his presence will still be felt.) With Bannon's ouster, the betting window is now taking serious money for how long Sebastian Gorka will remain--I've never really been entirely sure what his job was, myself. I'm not really even sure what the impact on the White House will be--people who did not care for Bannon and thought his associations with the so-called "alt-right" were bad might feel that Bannon's leaving matters, but I can't help but note--Trump remains.

This was a week for other departures as well. After several CEO's left the president's Manufacturing Council and Strategy and Policy Forum, Trump ended them so that they could stop quitting on him. As a tidy capper to Infrastructure Week, Trump also wrapped up plans for an Infrastructure Council by scrapping it. Billionaire Carl Icahn will no longer advise Trump. (Steve Mnuchin's Yale classmates would like him to do the same.)

And the membership of the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities sent Trump a "Dear Don" letter, which cleverly spelled out: "resist". His faith advisors are also concerned with what the president has been saying this past week. Pastor A.R. Bernard stepped down.

No wonder, then, that the President and the First Lady will not be attending the Kennedy Center Honors ceremony this coming December--he feels unwanted. I suggest that Trump doesn't have "personnel" problems--he has a Trump problem, and he takes it wherever he goes.

UPDATE: I forgot about all the Digital Council resignations. My apologies. There are just so many.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Thinking of Barcelona, Cambrils, and Turku

This has been a week where, as a US blogger, I have been wrapped up in the confrontation in Charlottesville this past weekend and apprehensive of the coming events this coming weekend, to have addressed the attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils, and also in Finland.  However often such events occur, they are always senseless, and say nothing of politics or religion so much as the desperate and violent nature of the wretched people who carried them out. And I have always been amazed at the ability of communities to come together in strength and love, lean on one another, and rise above the terror and shock. 

My regards to these places and my condemnation of such violence are my only offering. Sympathy for the stricken and condemnation of violence being, I think, the least and most basic human position for such terrors. Anything more, perhaps, is too much, and unnecessary. I mourn with you and us all, in a world where terror and stupidity are like currency, but actual lives are spent.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

What's Up With Steve Bannon?

So, recently there has been some pressure put on by the Left (like, I guess, some Democratic activists) for Steve Bannon to be 86'd from Team Trump because of all the White Supremacist stuff going down in some of these rallies.  And of course, former Press Office guy Anthony Scaramucci also wanted Bannon gone, for, um, reasons.  But here's the funny old thing about Trump--he doesn't ever do things because he was told to do them.  In fact, he'll double-down on "don't wanna" if he feels pressured. So if he's pressured to dump Bannon, well, he's likely to become Bannon's biggest backer--

And if he worries what happens to his rep if Breitbart turns on him, if you know what I mean? You would think Steve Bannon is a very safe WH adviser.

But then along comes a phone call to Robert Kuttner of The American Prospect at I guess what you might call "not a great time".  And he wanted to rap about foreign policy, describe his critics at different agencies as "wetting themselves", and simultaneously back off of Trump's military promises about North Korea while talking up the possibility of a trade war with China. Oh--oh yeah, and he also wanted to talk some smack about identity politics, because that's not a sensitive topic at all, lately. 

This is a really weird thing, because for starters: Why Kuttner at The American Prospect when Steve Bannon ran Breitbart dot com. (No flies on Kuttner, just, it was an oddly progressive choice for a right-wing nationalist to make, no?) 

And then there's this Axios piece that suggests someone like Steve Bannon, who should be pretty media-savvy, didn't realize he was talking to a reporter on a call he initiated and it basically constituted an interview

That's totally cray, right? I would almost have to think he knew what he was doing. Maybe he has friends who want to spare him a bad opinion, but my thinking is, maybe he thinks his exit is just about due, and this is his way of "Leroy Jenkins" ing his way onto the veritable sword, because apparently you can't demonstrate anything to Trump at all without it being filtered through the media. 

What's worse is--I don't know if my theory just gave Bannon credit for being awfully people-smart, or just described the most dysfunctional and stupid WH dynamic possible.  But maybe this means Bannon got himself fired, and if not, I guess he can try, try again. 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Which Side are You on? (Trump?)

I could spend time breaking down President Trump's bizarre press nightmare, but I don't really fucking care what he said today. He was saying it all along, but some people just weren't paying attention. Hillary Clinton gave an entire speech about Trump and the so-called "alt-right" almost a year ago, and I thought the case she made was solid and apparent--my bad. It turns out, someone like Donald Trump can be a lifelong racist surrounding himself with other racists, and people will actually pretend they don't notice. That shocked me more than it should have, I will admit.

But then again, I am a funny old thing--I believe Americans should kill fascists. 

Look at the header of my blog--"This blog kills fascists. Eventually. It's a process I'm working on. Be patient with me." That header is a call-back to Woody Guthrie, who just forthrightly put "This machine kills fascists" on his guitar. My blogging isn't up to Woody Guthrie's songwriting, but I aspirationally hope I'm doing my bit. I'm not going to kick fascist ass all at once, but I will attempt it. Like I thought it was my job. 

And what do you know--Guthrie had his dealings and complaints about Old Man Trump (Donald's daddy).  Donald Trump started the hell off in this life Team Racist and fascist-associated. (No really, I'm not linking The Nation and I don't want to say Roy Cohn was such a fascist, but am I pretending Roy Cohn was not a fascist? Go--read Politico. McCarthyism is fascism. It doesn't matter that Cohn was a gay Jew. Demonizing and destroying and doubling-down and publically lying about everything? Shit's fascist. )

This blog is rooted in the mid-20th century ideas that Keynes rocked, that civil rights for all were a positive good, and that we all are supposed to stand against fascists. It's what the good people do. It's what Churchill and FDR did. (Stalin--I don't know him.)

It's what heroes are supposed to do. 

In the United States of America, where I thought I was living, Nazis are stupid and bad at best and are history's worst monsters because of course they are.  I mean, who demonizes and singles out ethnic minorities and gay and trans people and religious minorities  and disabled people and tries to codify into law ways to make the oppression of these people permanent? 

Oh, right. Trump. Because he is what he is. (And let's not actually "go there" and pretend his honesty is refreshing-it's shit. I don't expect people to eat shit and smile. You like this? You like eating shit, and there's something fundamentally wrong with you.) 

We are supposed to see Dictators as bad and even clowns in this society.

Hitler and those who are Hitler-adjacent are supposed to be targets of our scorn, not our admiration. People waving Swastika flags are not okay--ever.  You should expect better. The people who would easily accept standing right by them--are not okay either. And this Confederate thing--kind of fascist, also too, with the added problem of being treason against the US in the defense of bondage-slavery, because read the actual articles of secession of the states in question. Yes, it was always about slavery, not states' rights. Because it was about states' having the right to endorse slavery. Because the South was like, "Screw it" with respects to Northern States' feels about the Fugitive Slave Acts, which made catching free human (black) bodies and delivering them back into a pernicious bondage incumbent upon people who didn't want any part of it. Which was obviously fuckery. Northern states had to comply with making black people slaves, and the South at first simply didn't give a shit if the Federal law was about determining what states were free--but then when GOP President Lincoln happened, they had a total freak-out and got scared he'd take away their bondage humans. 

Wow. Fucking snowflakes. Makes you wonder why the Party of Lincoln is being all about Confederate statues now, doesn't it?

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Usual Warning Signs

This profile of James Fields, the 20-year old Nazi-fanboy who allegedly murdered Heather Heyer and injured at least 19 others, is chilling in that there were obvious warning signs that this young man was headed for violence--because he was already performing violence:

In a report sourced to police records, the newspaper said that wheelchair-bound Bloom called police in Florence, Kentucky, at least nine times starting in 2010 seeking help with her sometimes violent son.

Soon after graduating high school in 2015, Fields joined the U.S. Army but left by December after failing to meet training standards, the Army said in a statement.
What kind of person physically assaults his disabled mom? What kind of person seeks out a profession that involves firearms and violence but displays no aptitude for the actual working parts of the job description? A person with a fuse easily lit in a tiki-torch atmosphere.

I've covered this before--Elliot RogersIsmaayil Brinsley. James Hodgkinson.  (There are others, but these posts stand out in my mind.) Sometimes you know someone is liable to hurt masses of people because they already hurt people, often women, they already associate with.

This violence ideation was apparent with Dylan Klebold, who dwelt upon Nazis, and Eric Harris, who dwelt upon all kinds of things, but also a dehumanized image of female sexuality.

They all failed to see people as just...people. So they resorted to violence against people. There was no understanding what the humanity of their victims even was.

There are warning signs. They just look an awful lot like our culture. We separate people by race, creed, gender, religion. We objectify people based on what they can do or can't do for us. And we depersonalize them by creating narratives about them based on our ignorance, not based on our curiosity about the Other and how those who are not ourselves even live. And I include myself in that "we". Trying to break out of that othering, dehumanizing, and situational dealing with other people is a struggle everyone deals with. But we don't talk about it intelligently, if we talk about it at all. And those who don't sort it out within themselves, do violent shit, because they never learned that people were people. And none of us are fucking special. We just live, bleed, try to get by, and hopefully find other people who will love us for our difficult and unspecial selves.

But we don't need to be special to have earned the right to live. We are all here. It's all we have. It is all we need to have. I don't understand how it eludes anyone that human beings not yourself have their hereness to justify their existence, and that life is not cheap, but a daily struggle for air and water and calories, and room to move and think and be, but it is the basic principle on which I think any kind of reality needs to be based--the other is not unlike you in uniqueness and rights. They like you are physically capable of suffering and can be injured, get sick, fear death, deserve love. And this is the best part of them, and you. Because it makes it incumbent upon us all to see one another for what we are.

Be fearless enough to love and be loved, be ready to hold back your worst until you've seen your fellow human for their best. And if their best is Nazi shit, well, I guess, bust them up until their asses get fixed. Because that way is a sunken place and nothing any good can come out of.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Two Days Later

If it takes Trump 48 hours to say that Nazis are bad, and can't even sound like he means it, it's about as good as saying nothing.

In other news, he is considering pardoning his Birther Buddy, Sheriff Joe Arpaio. What Trump stands for is pretty clear.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Terrorism Happened Here--Call it That

When a car apparently intentionally plows into a group of people participating in a counter-protest to the Nazi shindig in Charlottesville, it should be pretty obvious that you should call it terrorism, and disavow it, and condemn that sort of thing. Many politicians recognized at once the enormity of the situation, and called for the event to be treated as the terror that it was intended to be.  This was the obvious response, the necessary response. Bigotry and violence are a bad and unnecessary combination in a diverse nation where we value free speech. The counter-protestors had all the same rights as the so-called "alt-right" protestors (although I prefer to just think of them as Nazis, because, well, what they do, say and think). 

Our president, though, decided to make a comment condemning violence "on many sides".  How utterly inadequate of the man.  As if there was a movement that somehow used violence against white supremacy on the regular. None such exists. And yet, look at what the Trump Administration has stood for--they choose to ignore right wing extremism in favor of Islamic terror, even though RW extremism is more of a threat.  Recently, Sebastian Gorka, a guy whose functional White House position is not entirely clear and who might not even have a security clearance, held forth on the idea that maybe we shouldn't be so hard on white supremacists and that the idea of "lone wolf" terror ops was mostly bullshit. Every bit of that couldn't actually be more wrong. 

Trump's weird use of the term "on many sides" makes it seem like anti-racist or anti-fascist groups also were indulging in violence. He attributes the counter-protestors' existence as provocation enough for what happened to them? He blames the people standing up to hate as being also biased? His flabby response heartened the so-called "alt-right" (Nazis) by letting them believe he loves them too much to attribute blame to them. 

President Obama was regularly accused of appeasement. I have always maintained that this was a word deployed by people who did not understand the nuances of power, and would not know "appeasement" for "d├ętente". But I have no problem seeing Trump as appeasing the white racists who helped elect him, in much the same way as I see appeasement in his stance on Russian sanctions, and his supposedly sarcastic "thanking" of Putin for the supposed reduction in his State Department staff in Russia. 

Trump is a stupid weakling who supports bias and hate, domestic terrorism, and entertains delusions of us making nice with a foreign power who means to undermine us. And any person who ever used the "appeasement" line regarding Obama, but supports Trump right now, is shit. (This would also include people saying the exact right things about domestic terror and against the Nazis gathered in Charlottesville. Say the exact right things all you want--but what are you doing about the birther your party made happen to our country? What standard do you even hold him to?)

The rise of Trump, the so-called "Trump Effect", is definitely a factor in reinforcing racist bias and emboldening hate groups to believe they can operate without fear. We need to call it that. We need to see an end to Trumpism. And that means ending Trump. 


Saturday, August 12, 2017

Look! Nazis!

I think when you get right down to the Nazi salutes and the "You (jew) will not replace us" rhetoric, you just have to go ahead and call these people "Nazis". This isn't an "white working class economic insecurity" thing--this is just racism and brutality. The alt-right isn't new.  It's a resurgence of the same old racism with a grotesque twist. People who claim they are joking with the "Sieg Heil" and "lugenpresse" talk aren't actually joking, they just want to ignore that this is the direction they are silly-walking their way towards. 

But when "blood and soil" and all that rot come up in earnestness, pay attention to who still carries the torch and who they are carrying it for. It isn't humorous at all.