Archive for the 'American Society' Category

Oct 10 2016

The Vengeance Election

It's been impossible for me to write in the past month. Between getting sick, traveling on a sacred pilgrimage back to the wonderful land of Japan and then returning to even more work-something had to give.

Plus, watching the never ending shit-show that is the US Election has not left me of a mind to do so. The whole thing is too depressing. Last night's debate showed as nothing else has, how utterly dangerous Donald Trump is, and what a threat he poses to American democracy. 

At Sunday’s debate, Donald Trump revealed that he is not running to be America’s president so much as its dictator.

The debate’s most unnerving moment came early. “If I win, I'm going to instruct the attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation, because there's never been so many lies, so much deception,” Trump told Hillary Clinton.

“It's just awfully good that someone with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of the law of our country,” Clinton shot back.

Trump, determined as always to make subtext into text, left no room for confusion. “Because you’d be in jail,” he said.

So there it was. The Republican nominee for president of the United States has promised to imprison his opponent if he wins the election. “This is what happens in dictatorships,” wrote the New York Times’ Max Fisher. “Not democracies.”

Tonight was the night when our worst fears about Donald Trump’s autocratic impulses were confirmed. Trump is, by his own account, vengeful. “When someone intentionally harms you or your reputation, how do you react?” he wrote in 2007. “I strike back, doing the same thing to them only ten times worse." And so it’s long been obvious that Trump might be vengeful as president — a possibility Vox’s Dara Lind explored brilliantly in this feature.


If you don't think he is serious, you are insane. If you are cheering this type of behavior on while you Tweet with your "Deplorables" Pepe image, then you too are a fool who is to be pitied.

And lets get this out of the way right now. If you are a Trump supporter, you are a deplorable person and may God have mercy on your soul. For here on earth, I have absolutely no use for you.

The day after the debate, this appeared on the Breitbart web site:


The worst part of course is that the sick and deranged 37-42% of the US voters who support this evil man actually believe that they are somehow "victims" and need to stand together against the rest of us who actually can think.

Many of Trump’s supporters hope that he’ll be guided and constrained by more seasoned, temperate advisers while in office. Tonight he proved that hope absurd. He began the evening by inviting three women who have accused Bill Clinton of sexual misconduct to a press conference — an insane strategy that virtually everyone in the Republican Party has been begging Trump to abandon.

Later in the night, Trump was asked about his running mate’s statements on Russia, and he made clear how little influence Pence has over his campaign, and how little interest Trump has in his counsel. "He and I haven't spoken, and I disagree," Trump brutally replied.

The message: Trump listens to no one, and is held back by no one. A Trump presidency won’t secretly be a Mike Pence presidency, or a Paul Ryan presidency, with Trump occupying a more ceremonial role. It will be him, and he will be doing whatever he damn well pleases.


The comments on Twitter from those who proudly embrace the word "deplorable",  make one weep for humanity and also make me fear for my own personal safety. Because don't kid yourself, these people are only committed to one thing. They want vengeance on the rest of us for not voting to endorse a one party theocracy in , committed to war without end, in 2008. In Trump they see their knight in shining armor who will give them that vengeance. If Trump wins, you should have no doubt, he will do his best to give them what they want. Those of us who protested loudest will either have to find a new Zion, as those Israeli pioneers did in Palestine in the 1930's, or find a place to hide out and lay low till the fire consumes both the leader himself and the followers who egged him on. It's not going to be pleasant.

Again, let's be clear, this is not how it is done-and I will go toe to toe with you quoting passages from the Federalist Papers if you don't believe me. ( I have always found it odd that Trump supporters fetishize those documents when they clearly have not read them). And here is where I will invoke Godwin's Law by reminding you that the mistake most people made in the 1930's was that they did not believe that the Nazi's meant exactly what they said.

The United States has 29 days to save its democracy. I am worried that the sane half of the US population may not be able to stem the Draconian tide sweeping our way. If the worst happens, remember, you were warned.

Do I mock? Of course, I do. The Republican Party has been edging toward this catastrophe for 40 years, ever since it let goons like the late Terry Dolan help run its senatorial campaigns in the late 1970s. Dolan led to Lee Atwater, who led to Karl Rove and, altogether, they made Donald Trump not an aberration, but a culmination. It took into itself the debris of American apartheid. It allied itself with radicalized American Protestantism. It adopted a basic political philosophy of vandalism and nihilism. When confronted with an opportunity for human decency, such as in the case of Terri Schiavo, the party opted for cruelty. When presented an opportunity for political unity, such as in the aftermath of the attacks of September 11, the party opted for the despicable in domestic politics and for the barbaric overseas. When handed an opportunity to change course, such as when the deregulated casino economy nearly destroyed the world in 2008, it doubled down on the basic economic philosophy that caused the wreckage in the first place. And when it became plain that the party was on the wrong side of history, such as the movement for marriage equality, it chose to work in the states through pestiferous god-botherers like Mike Pence, whose name Kelly Ayotte will write in for president.



When it won, the party opted for triumphalism. When it lost, it opted for obstruction. It has blown through democratic norms in every branch of the government. In the executive, it lied and tortured and worked almost exclusively to shove as much of the country's wealth upwards. As a legislative majority, it has consistently refused to do even the most fundamental tasks of governing the country. In the judiciary, the judges so carefully nurtured in the think-tank terrariums of the organized Right have let loose a flood of money into our politics and have worked assiduously to carve away the franchise from the people who might most inconvenience the party on Election Day. They have come dangerously close to completing the project of creating a new Jim Crow to ensure a new Gilded Age. And now, there are not sufficient roosts for all the chickens. If you have a party dedicated to vandalism and nihilism, how can you possibly be surprised when your presidential nomination is spirited away by a career vandal and a superior nihilist?

It doesn't matter now if he drops out or not. He has shown the world what the black heart of modern Republicanism—and of the modern form of conservatism that drives it—really looks like. He has become its beau ideal. He will stand for it until the party commits itself to real change and genuine outreach to those people it now only employs as targets for its timorous angry base to aim at. Whether he stays or whether he goes—and, god, I hope he stays—Donald Trump has burned down all the camouflage. He is what they are.




4 responses so far

Jul 21 2016

The triumph of the will.

I have had to spend the week back in Shopping Mall USA this week. As a result I have gotten to watch the royal mess that is the Republican national convention. It's been a very graphic display of how far America has fallen, and how ludicrous the GOP has become. Tonight was supposed to be a well oiled machine- but then Ted Cruz stopped by.


I've got to hand it to Cruz, he could have taken the expedient path and sold his soul to the devil that is Donald Trump. But he refused to endorse him. He appears to understand what Rubio, Walker , and the Zombie Eyed Granny Starver do not-that Trump is dangerous. I am no fan of Cruz whatsoever- but to take the path he took tonight was pretty bold, IMHO. Without naming the vulgar talking yam by name-he showed him to be the truly worthless soul that he is. As one analyst said, "He chose to short Trump stock big time". Its a risky position-but far more principled than anything Trump has ever done. I will reiterate that Trump is truly dangerous-a threat to the heart of the Republic.

So here we go. You have just seen another sign of the apocalypse, wherein I write kind words about Ted Cruz. It appears the GOP is lifting it's convention script directly from the book of Revelation.

Damn them all now.

Damn the delegates who will vote for this man. Damn the professional politicians who will fall in line behind him or, worse, will sit back and hope this all blows over so the Republican Party once again will be able to relegate the poison this man has unleashed to the backwaters of the modern conservative intellectual mainstream, which is where it has been useful for over four decades. Damn the four hopeless sycophants who want to share a stage with him for four months. Damn all the people who will come here and speak on his behalf. Damn all the thoughtful folk who plumb his natural appeal for anything deeper than pure hatred.


Damn all the people who will vote for him, and damn any progressives who sit this one out because Hillary Rodham Clinton is wrong on this issue or that one. Damn all the people who are suggesting they do that. And damn all members of the media who treat this dangerous fluke of a campaign as being in any way business as usual. Any support for He, Trump is, at this point, an act of moral cowardice. Anyone who supports him, or runs with him, or enables his victory, or even speaks well of him, is a traitor to the American idea.

Damn, to name one, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, the zombie-eyed granny-starver from the state of Wisconsin, now exposed as the feckless political weakling he's always been. On Wednesday, during an inexcusable CNN-sponsored informercial for himself, Ryan was asked the only question that mattered:

But the challenge facing Ryan was clear when he was asked a question by Zachary Marcone, a Republican who said he couldn't support Trump because he is "openly racist." "Can you tell me, how can you morally justify your support for this kind of candidate?" Marcone asked.

Ryan responded like the spineless careerist tool he's always been.

"You're going to help elect Hillary Clinton and I don't think Hillary Clinton is supporting any of the things you stand for if you're a Republican."

In other words, if we don't elect this authoritarian wild man, I won't get to gut Medicare the way I've always wanted to.

If I were Ryan, I'd put that on a bumper sticker.


No responses yet

Jun 26 2016

Now it’s time to pay the piper.

This weekend has been one of the most interesting in recent history. Watching the post mortem on the Brexit referendum on British TV has been an education to say the least. When you walk off of a cliff, there is that interval of time while you fall, wondering how bad the impact is going to hurt.

That is what I would say this weekend has been like. Britain and the rest of the world have been going through the five stages of death: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Based on the news this weekend I'd say that we are just clearing stage 3. Stage 4 will come tomorrow when world markets drop yet again. (I don't think the markets have hit a definitive benchmark yet, the Dow for Example has about 400 more points to go, before it settles in for up and down cycles of about a 100 points or so for weeks).

When last we left the story, the Down Jones had wiped out ALL of its 2016 gains and had suffered its biggest single day drop in 1.5 years. Over the weekend the hits just kept on coming.

The credit rating agencies cut Britain's credit rating. Moved it from AAA to AA+.Following the Brexit vote, it said Britain's economic growth will be weaker and warned the public finances will be weaker than previously forecast, meaning it will be harder to cut the deficit. 

Meanwhile up in Scotland, 

EDINBURGH — Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, said Friday that a new referendum on independence in Scotland was “highly likely” now that Britain had voted to leave the European Union.

Voters rejected an effort to break free from the United Kingdom in a 2014 referendum, but Ms. Sturgeon said Scotland would take measures to protect its place in Europe and maintain access to the single market.

Ms. Sturgeon cited her party’s election manifesto, which calls for another ballot if there is a “significant and material change in circumstances” from the 2014 vote, such as Scotland’s being taken out of the European Union against its will.

Not to be outdone, the folks in Northern Ireland, have their own issues to think about:

No sooner was the Brexit out of the bag than Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness, deputy first minister for Northern Ireland, declared the need for a poll on Irish reunification. Northern Ireland voted decisively to remain in the EU. By McGuinness’s logic, this means that the “British government has forfeited any mandate to represent the economic or political interests of the people”.

Opportunistic? Of course. Disingenuous? Maybe. The Good Friday agreement, which created peace in the north, allows the secretary of state to call a border poll when there’s clear indication that public opinion has swung towards a united Ireland. Currently, there’s no such indication – the people of Northern Ireland voted against leaving the EU, which is markedly different from voting to leave the UK.

A border poll at this juncture would be dangerous. Think the build-up to Brexit was polarising and scary? Add a few centuries of colonial history, a partition, 30 years of sectarianism and violence, a fragile peace of less than two decades, a severe terror threat, a quarter tonne of semtex, a wee dash of Brexit-induced socio-economic insecurity, and the frustration caused by one’s English compatriots voting to pull the rug out from under a painstakingly crafted peace process, then tell me about polarising and scary.

So it is probably best that we chill on the reunification rhetoric for the minute. That said, I do think the aftermath of Brexit has the potential to strengthen Northern Ireland’s connection to the Irish Republic. If and when that happens, we’ll talk border polls.


Meanwhile back in London, Jeremy Corbyn, Labor Party Leader ,had his hands full dealing with a revolt inside his own party.

The U.K.'s dramatic decision to leave the European Union has set off an open mutiny within the opposition Labour Party against the party's leader, Jeremy Corbyn

The BBC reports that at least eleven ministers have resigned from their positions on the shadow cabinet; in the British system, that's the government body that criticizes the ruling party's government and presents alternatives.

This started when Corbyn sacked his shadow foreign secretary, party veteran Hilary Benn, as NPR's Peter Kenyon tells our Newscast unit.

"Within hours more shadow cabinet ministers announced their resignations amid concern that Corbyn is not the leader the party needs to see it through the upheaval caused by the Brexit vote," Peter says. He adds that Corbyn has "vowed to fight any challenge."

Under the category of, you want it bad you get it bad, The other EU nations are insisting that Britain should withdraw from the EU as soon as possible and not slow roll the process. Angela Merkel said she agreed with that logic, but would not "fight for it".  

Nonetheless there are important reasons why the continental nations of Europe will need to take a hard line in negotiations for Britain's exit from the block. Number one will be to drive home the point to other exit wanna be's that you pay a price for not playing ball. European leaders will desperately want to stop the contagion represented by Brexit. There is not a Norway or Swiss deal in Britain's future.

This isn’t just economic; it has implications for global security. The EU and the US have depended on a united front on a score of global challenges, most notably with Russia. Russia will exploit any division they can.

Now at the same time-things could turn around if a few things happened. Like oil prices go up dramatically.

Of course if this November the US elected Donald Trump to be President, things could get a lot worse. As Larry Summers pointed out, Brexit could just be the opening act if Trump gets elected:

Well, I think the same kind of sense that this couldn't possibly happen, that surrounds the Trump candidacy also surrounded the Brexit referendum. And I think whatever damage Brexit may do to the global economy, is small compared to the uncertainties that would be unleashed if Donald Trump became President of the United States. That's because the policies that Trump has advocated could hardly be better calculated to create uncertainty and economic instability.

So there is that to look forward to.


5 responses so far

Jun 23 2016

What was it all for?

June 23rd this year is a big day.

Its a big day because the United Kingdom is about to potentially make a really stupid decision and leave the EU. ( A really stupid decision).

It's also a day that I made a really stupid personal decision and it set the course of the rest of my life, and not necessarily for the better. Six weeks after graduation, I foolishly got married. Now its 37 years later and the damage that one decision caused still lingers.

I remember senior year, imagining what the future was going to be like. I had envisioned getting married and having children, but it certainly was with a very different idea of what that was going to be like.

I of course also envisioned going into the Navy, but the idea of being an NFO in a twin engine propeller aircraft was not in that dream. ( Fortunately, that decision was not one I have to take responsibility for-and all things considered, worked out all right).

When I imagined what the country and the world was going to be like, well my vision of the future was nothing like the way the future actually turned out.  Certainly I never expected the country to fall into the political morass the first 16 years of the 21st century have proven to be.

Being the Star Trek fan that I am, I expected the world to improve and not just in technology. I believed that the country would continue to be true to a baseline set of principles and that the American Dream would come true for not just me, but most of my fellow citizens too. I knew that economics would go up and down, but I always expected, in the long haul that things would get better. Technology was going to improve our lives-and we would all be better for it.

Boy, that train sure went off the tracks, didn't it?

One of the benefits of living 14 of the last 17 years overseas, is that it gives you a chance to see how other countries do mundane things like infrastructure, and daily life in general. As a typical xenophobic American, I always had assumed that America would always do things better. 

14 years overseas experience have disabused me of that notion. If anything the US is barely treading water, if not being slowly pulled down beneath the surface of the water.

If you are an optimist deep down like me, to come to that realization that country is not advancing, but failing, is truly a sad one.

Because what kind of world have we left for our children? Clearly not a very good one-even if they will be able to document the journey across the river Styx with their cell phones and Go-Pro cameras.

Now some people  want to put the blame for the decline on just one generation, the baby boomers. Of which I am proudly a part. I reject that notion-because the evidence clearly shows it is cross generational. Boomers to Millennial,we all bear a piece of the blame for not creating the world that we could have. And should have.

And so the end result is that we have not left a better world for our children at all. And we have no one to blame for that but ourselves. We failed to keep our eyes fixed on progress, after a certain subset of Americans decided it was more satisfying and more profitable in the short term to destroy companies and people, rather than work together for a better long term view. I believe that came about due to the acceptance of a vision of the future that should never have been acceptable, no matter what generation you were a part of.

Little decisions, that seem inconsequential at the time, rise up and become your fate. That happens to individuals and to nations.

And for what? What has 37 years service to a nation been for? It can't have been for this. Or this.

Alternative histories talk about a "point of departure", the point where the timeline changed. Certainly this happens in people personal lives and it happens in the lives of nations too.

But what was it all for? It can't have been for the rotten place the United States is in today. It has to have been for something more?

It should have been for something more.


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Jun 18 2016

Worth reading and a good follow up

To the earlier discussion about gun control.

As a part of my job, I monitor the Israeli English press and where I can get them, translations of Hebrew newspapers. There was an excellent article in The Jerusalem Post this week about the Israeli approach to firearms and the American one. I think its important to point out that Jerusalem Post is not Haaretz, its not a liberal paper. So I would submit that makes this article even more remarkable. Read it, its not long-and worth your time.


Donald Trump’s assertion that a club full of armed French concertgoers would have headed off last year’s Bataclan massacre is belied by the chaos engendered when shooters lack training – not just in proper shooting of the weapon, but in identifying when and where it is safe to shoot.

The careful use of guns in Israel is about being answerable to a hierarchy, beyond being answerable to the law. This is the opposite of the “right to bear arms” in the American ethos. There is no “right” to bear arms in Israel — there is a duty to bear arms, according to strict regulations.

This is why current and former military officers, even right-wingers among them, have been appalled by public support for the soldier in Hebron who in March allegedly shot an attacker after he was subdued. As much as killing a subdued man is wrong, in Israel’s military culture, using a weapon outside the command structure is equally taboo.

In some ways, then, Israel is the “well regulated militia” promised by America’s Second Amendment. That component of the amendment, however, has all but been ignored in recent American court rulings.

You can read the entire article here. And while you are at it read this excellent article by Calev Ben-David here. 

2 responses so far

Jun 15 2016

Let’s play a game.

Let's pretend that Americans can have a reasonable discussion about the issue of gun control. Personally, I don't believe that is possible- a certain segment of American society is totally committed to a completely unreasonable position on the issue. We have long passed the point of reasonable discussion on this issue.

But for the sake of discussion, let's pretend, shall we?

What I propose ( and this should be really interesting to watch unfold) is to have a debate on the why or why not certain specific gun control proposals could be enacted. To do this I propose to ask a series of questions, and ask for answers in the comments section.

However before we start, I think it's critically important to lay out the rules of this game:

1) Responses have to be REASONABLE. If you go off the rails with rants about tyranny and freedom, I will "shoot" your comment in the heart.

2) For purposes of this discussion, we must make the assumption that the 2nd amendment rules. The right of an individual to possess a firearm is accepted and not up for discussion. Repealing the 2nd amendment is not on the table for discussion. (We will get to that in a later post). Having said that, we must also accept the logic put forth by Justice Scalia in his majority opinion in the Heller decision:

“Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited…”. It is “…not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.”

Nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.”

 “We also recognize another important limitation on the right to keep and carry arms. Miller (an earlier case) said, as we have explained, that the sorts of weapons protected were those “in common use at the time”. We think that limitation is fairly supported by the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of ‘dangerous and unusual weapons.’ ” 

The court even recognizes a long-standing judicial precedent “…to consider… prohibitions on carrying concealed weapons.”

3) Recognizing the above, we also recognize the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution, so all arguments about "states rights" will also be summarily discarded. In other words uniform standards for the states is an accepted starting point for the discussion. Don't like that, go watch wrestling, your presence here is no longer required.

4) The " defense against tyranny" argument is not welcome here. I'm repeating that because : 1) its the weakest argument for the 2nd amendment and 2) we already established that individuals have rights to firearms.


So lets play the game, shall we?

Question One: What is wrong with having restrictions on buying ammunition? Why not need a license to sell ammunition, and creates a new system for collecting information about those sales?

Question Two: Why can't we have restrictions on large capacity magazines? Why does any sport user need a magazine that holds 30 rounds? What's wrong with limits to 10?

Question Three: Why not allow a ban on gun sales over the internet? Require that all gun sales require a face to face sale and completion of background checks and waiting periods. In other words, eliminate the gun show loopholes.

Question Four: What's wrong with being in favor of smart gun technology? In other words to fire your gun you need  a safety feature or features that allow it to fire only when activated by an authorized user. The NRA by the way, is on record as opposing this.

Question Five: Why can't we have an accepted definition of what constitutes "sporting use"? Weapons of certain calibers and certain types? A ban on weapons that clearly have no sporting use or utility and a ban on all semi automatic weapons. 

That's probably enough for now. I fully expect things to spiral down a rat hole soon enough so let me remind you, you don't play by my rules, I will consign your comments to the flames of woe.

Let's begin.




12 responses so far

Jun 12 2016

It is not always black and white. Mostly its complex and gray.

Jeffrey Goldberg ( the good Goldberg in contrast to the evil Jonah) makes a point that needs to be remembered:


Just because the guy was of Afghan descent and may have been radicalized, does not give a segment of the population a "get out of jail free card" on other issues.

Issues like this:


And this:



The need to fix America's incredibly bad gun laws and the need to protect against violent extremists is not ( and never will be) mutually exclusive.





COMMENTS ARE CLOSED ON THIS POST. I am not in the mood for a discussion here.

No responses yet

May 03 2016

People always let you down.

Especially people of the "Fox News Viewer" persuasion.

I admit it. I am astounded American politics is where it is today. I mean really, Donald Trump is probably going to be the GOP nominee? Really?

If you read any of my posts from earlier in the year-you will know that I expected the Donald to be going down in flames by now if not already gone. That, it seems, was a mistake. I gave Republican voters more credit than they deserved. I assumed that eventually, they would see through him and he would stand revealed as the worthless charlatan he is-and the nominating process would have moved on to another criminal candidate.

Today, I am here to tell you I was wrong.

Now please don't misunderstand me, Donald Trump is a hideous human being and in no way whatsoever deserving of a place on Pennsylvania Ave. And I hope , fervently, that he will never get there. However, I had more faith in the people than this. Surely they cannot be that stupid?

Evidently they can be.

Let's consult with the blog's political correspondent, Charlie Pierce:

It had been a while since I'd been to see the increasingly normalized donkey show that is a Trump rally. The rough edges have been smoothed out a tad, although the events in California last week showed pretty conclusively that they're not entirely gone. The warm-up acts on Sunday included a local minister, who offered a prayer. A Vietnam vet led the Pledge of Allegiance. A former Miss Indiana sang the National Anthem. An overripe state representative called the Affordable Care Act, "the worst law ever passed in this country." (Providing 15 million Americans with affordable health care is worse than the Fugitive Slave Act? Where do they find these people?) And a campaign aide named Stephen Miller wound some stems and burned some barns. He bellowed out a litany of all the Others who have been jiving the good people of Terre Haute out of their country for year after year.

"They don't care about you," Miller thundered. "Donald Trump cares about you!" Jesus, somebody buy this guy a nice armband for his birthday.

For himself, He, Trump hasn't moved very far out of the comfort zone that has surrounded him since he first ascended to the top of the polls. The stump speech is still a paean to his own greatness as demonstrated by his poll numbers—NBC has him 15 points ahead in Indiana as of Sunday, which really would be the end—and now he has a string of primary victories with which to buttress his limitless self-regard. "Lyin' Ted" has been joined by "Crooked Hillary" in his menagerie of imaginary villains. (Pivot toward the general!) "The government in Iraq is so crooked, maybe we should send Hillary over there to run it."

The stump speech still winds around itself two and three times and it still remains basically a tautological knot. The country has problems. He can solve them because he is He, Trump, and you're not, and neither are those other losers. The difference is that his typical audience is less the free-floating bag of grievances they once were. They now carry themselves as dedicated supporters. They don't care how many times in one speech he talks about the trade deficit. They cheer every time he mentions knuckling China. He is winning. They are winning. That's what matters.

"The Washington Post has a big article right here," he said. "The time has come to admit that Republican voters want Donald Trump as their nominee." And then, as the applause rises again, he spreads his arms and unleashes the very encyclopedia model of a shit-eating grin. He's probably talking about a piece last week in which Philip Bump—who is not the entire Washington Post—found some establishment Republicans who resignedly are signing on with The Great Accommodation. But nobody in the Indiana Theater cares. It was one more fight that they all won. His fait is accompli now, and so is theirs.

"If I win," he said, "it's a mandate. It's a mandate for genius."

Throughout the speech, if you can call it a speech, it was hard not to wonder about the people in the hall, especially when He, Trump told the crowd that, "Lyin' Ted will always let you down." Now that his support has solidified and proven durable all over the country, there are a lot of people whose investment in him is now total. 

I wondered about Kris out on the sidewalk, who has followed He, Trump around the country because he liked what He, Trump said about closing borders to cut off the heroin that killed his child. That is a heavy burden to carry and a heavy burden to place on a candidate, even a candidate who has asked to carry it, which Trump certainly has not done. He is riding on a wave of pain that he never has felt. He is riding on a wave of anxiety he never has encountered. Beyond their love of him, there is no indication that he is as deeply aware of what has powered his rise as the people whose fear, and doubt, and, yes, hatred has powered his rise. Their job is still to wait in line, cheer on cue, and give him the devotion that he has earned because, after all, he is He, Trump, and they're not, and that will never change.

This is your democracy America. You are pissing it away royally. Trump and the millions of thugs people who following him, will lead you to oblivion. That you are too stupid to realize it is the great mystery of our age.



The analogies to Jesus Christ Superstar are obvious. Only , unlike Christ, Trump is not on the side of the angels.

4 responses so far

Sep 13 2015

Recent Reading

Besides the volume of recent work, I have been deeply involved in several books recently. Not really an excuse for my lack of steady posting, but it did provide a different sort of diversion. Below are my reviews of three of the best of the group. ( I have finished 7 in all since mid-July).

The first book was an oldie,  but goody. It is from the 1970's and it is Saul Bellow's, To Jerusalem and Back, A Personal Account. Published in 1976, the book is a fascinating series of anecdotes and stories about all aspects of the experience of Israel during that decade and the decades before. Bellow writes of a discussion with Jean Paul Sartre published many years earlier. He has a brief view of the power ( or lack thereof) of the United States Sixth fleet, back during the time that the US Navy actually put ships in the Mediterranean ( of which I was a part in the late 1970's). The book is a report of the authors personal experiences but it is much, much more than that-it is a series of vignettes that show the complexity of modern Israeli life. What is amazing to me is just how forward looking Bellow was. He was writing in 1976, but his observations still hold true today.  As one critic said, " Forty years later, it's like reading last week's news analysis from the Middle East. If he hadn't been one of the great novelists of the 20th century, Bellow might have been one of its greatest journalists." That's a pretty good summation of the book.



Along the same lines, and as an adjunct to my job, I try to read a lot of background material on Israel. I had stumbled on Bellow's book in the library and I am glad I did. Interestingly enough, I tried to add it to my Kindle library and Amazon said it is not available to readers in the US, due to copyright restrictions. I found that interesting, if not a trifle disappointing. 

For the reason I listed above, I also completed reading a newer book that does the same thing as Bellows book-provide unique insights into the complex puzzle that is Israel.  The book is by Ari Shavit, who is a writer for Haaretz newspaper, and it is called, My Promised Land. The book is a series of interviews and retelling of specific pieces of Israel's history staring with the first waves of Aliyah ( emigration to Israel) that began in the 1890's and moving up to present day ( 2012).

We meet Shavit’s great-grandfather, a British Zionist who in 1897 visited the Holy Land on a Thomas Cook tour and understood that it was the way of the future for his people; the idealist young farmer who bought land from his Arab neighbor in the 1920s to grow the Jaffa oranges that would create Palestine’s booming economy; the visionary youth group leader who, in the 1940s, transformed Masada from the neglected ruins of an extremist sect into a powerful symbol for Zionism; the Palestinian who as a young man in 1948 was driven with his family from his home during the expulsion from Lydda; the immigrant orphans of Europe’s Holocaust, who took on menial work and focused on raising their children to become the leaders of the new state; the pragmatic engineer who was instrumental in developing Israel’s nuclear program in the 1960s, in the only interview he ever gave; the zealous religious Zionists who started the settler movement in the 1970s; the dot-com entrepreneurs and young men and women behind Tel-Aviv’s booming club scene; and today’s architects of Israel’s foreign policy with Iran, whose nuclear threat looms ominously over the tiny country.

As it examines the complexities and contradictions of the Israeli condition, My Promised Land asks difficult but important questions: Why did Israel come to be? How did it come to be? Can Israel survive? Culminating with an analysis of the issues and threats that Israel is currently facing, My Promised Land uses the defining events of the past to shed new light on the present. The result is a landmark portrait of a small, vibrant country living on the edge, whose identity and presence play a crucial role in today’s global political landscape.


In reading the book I was struck by two of the main points that he raised. First, he points out that both the Israeli right and the Israeli left have yet to come to grips with a central fact that lies at the heart of Zionism-namely that whether they realized it or not, the movement was built on the foundational idea of dispossessing the current occupants of Palestine, in favor of a group of people who had no modern historical ties to that particular chunk of real estate. They only have a thousands year old religious mystery to cling on to that underpinned the reason why Palestine and only Palestine could be the Jewish State. Shavit very skillfully points out that one cannot duck that particular fact, and it is at odds with the narrative of Israel as a benign civilizing force in the region.

The second issue, and its one I had not given much thought to before, is the idea that the Holocaust changed the demographics of the Zionist movement dramatically. It is important to remember that Herzl's vision of Zionism was essentially a European one. The Jewish State he envisioned was to be a a modern, sophisticated and technologically advanced and Europeanized society. Herzl was aware of the Sephardic Jews ( Oriental or non-European Jews) but he tended to discount that.

Herzl completely rejected the race theories of Israel Zangwill. He became increasingly aware of the existence of Sephardic Jewry, but he envisioned the Jewish State as a state of Europeans, who might speak German. In his diaries he wrote:

"I believe German will be our principal language…I draw this conclusion from our most widespread jargon, 'Judeo-German.' But over there we shall wean ourselves from this ghetto language, too, which used to be the stealthy tongue of prisoners. Our teachers will see to that." (June 15, 1895, Diaries, 1: 171)

In The Jewish State, Herzl envisioned the government of the new state to be an "Aristocratic Republic," apparently modeled on contemporary Austria or Germany. In 1902, Herzl published a utopian novel about the Jewish state,  Altneuland (old-new land) a vision complete with monorails and modern industry.  Altneuland envisioned a multipluralistic democracy in which Arabs and Jews had equal rights. The novel concludes, "If you will, it is no legend."

Der Judenstaat and  Altneuland were visions of a Jewish state to be populated by European Jewry, who in 1900 were far more numerous than the tiny remnant of oriental and Sephardic Jews in Muslim lands and the Balkans. Herzl himself was no doubt aware of Zionist yearnings among Sephardic Jews. His grandfather was a friend of RabbiYehudah Alkalai, a Zionist precursor. But Herzl addressed his vision to the Jews of Europe.

Shavit points out that the Holocaust destroyed that vision and changed the planned demographics of the new state of Israel. A lot of the initial immigration to Israel came from the Sephradi population, especially as the Arabs turned away from toleration to outright hostility. Those population numbers had a distinct impact on Israel's politics and societal views and Shavit points out that those effects are still present.

Shavit is a great writer and the book is very readable and fascinating to immerse yourself into. For non-Israelis, and Americans in particular I would recommend this book as a must read. It shatters a lot of myths-and that is a good thing. Americans need to understand Israel as it really is, not as they think it it is.




The final book I have been reading off and on is a return to one of my favorite writers and historians, Arthur Schlesinger. A while back I read his collection of letters and posted a review.  Subsequently his journals have been published. They are much more candid than his letters and his insights into many of today's political figures when they were younger are amazing to read.Schelsinger is a great writer and I particularly got some great satisfaction out of his description of Charles Krauthammer. It is simply priceless as it points out what a slug Krauthammer really is, long before the rest of us really knew about him:

Last night I appeared on ABC's Nightline (Ted Koppel), leaving an entertaining dinner party given by Ahmed and Mica Ertegun for Irving Lazar. My combatant on the show was a fellow named Charles Krauthammer who writes particularly obnoxious neo-conservative trash for the New Republic and other right wing journals. His special line is that a mature power must understand the vital need for an imperial policy and for unfettered executive secrecy in the conduct of foreign affairs. He argues this line with boundless self-righteousness and sublime ignorance of American history. He is also, alas, a paraplegic, having dived into a waterless swimming pool. The joy of dealing with Krauthammer perhaps tempted me into undue vehemence. I have been trying to establish a new and more benign television personality. His performance was surprisingly feeble, and I was unnecessarily testy. Still, it gave me much satisfaction. [Political cartoonist] Jules Feiffer called this morning and said, "If Krauthammer were not already in a wheelchair, he certainly would be now after the pounding you gave him last night.

The puzzle is that there are people who take Krauthammer seriously as a deep thinker.

Those lines were written in 1986, long before Krauthammer sold his soul to the devil that is Fox News.  They remain as true today as they were then. Schlesinger saw his mediocrity long before the rest of us. 

Its a fantastic insight into a half century of history and well worth the time to read. The best part is, that because it is a journal, you can leave it and come back to it. That is what I have done for the last month. Whenever I have extra time, my old friend Arthur Schlesinger is there-thanks to the modern innovation that is Kindle.


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Jul 17 2015

When is a crime just a crime?

Its been a month since I have posted. I have been busy. No excuse to be sure-but its the truth.

During that time a lot has happened, much of it comment worthy-and if you are big reader like I am, you have probably read a lot of the commentary on it already. So I will try not to repeat it.

What I do want to take a couple of moments to comment on is the Chattanooga shooting yesterday. As soon as I heard that the shooter had a Muslim name, I said to myself, "Oh boy, here we go."

And true to form, the Town Hall Harlot proved me right.


Of course, the fact that the shooter was a naturalized American citizen is immaterial to this conclusion.  Now mind you this is just a month after a mass shooting in Charleston S.C. occurred. That we are told is not "terrorism", but this is. Can't they both be equally despicable?

Apparently,  in the eyes of some, not.

I think its important in this time of national tragedy to not be a Malkin or a paranoid American, but to step back and look at some actual facts.

Because, whether you want to admit it or not-the events of Charleston and the events of Chattanooga are more alike than they are different. When boiled down to it's base facts, as we know them so far: An American had a grudge. So he obtained a firearm and attempted to rectify his grudge by using that firearm on his fellow citizens. The grudge may have been fueled by irrational ideas from abroad-but it does not erase the fact that the killer was an American citizen who decided that killing fellow American citizens was the way to go.

Americans are killing each other again. That is the fundamental—if politically less useful—lesson of what happened in Tennessee yesterday. An American citizen got his gun and he went to a strip mall and he killed four of his fellow citizens, killed them as dead as Michael Brown or Eric Garner, as dead as the people who were killed by Dylann Roof, who's awaiting trial, or as dead as the people who were killed by James Holmes, who was convicted of killing them just yesterday. By all the criteria of which we boast of our exceptionalism to the world, Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez was as much of an American as the four people he allegedly murdered. His motivation doesn't matter. He was a citizen. His victims were citizens. Americans killing other Americans. It's an old story being rehearsed again with unfortunate frequency.


It troubles me that so many people are trying to tie in unrelated issues to this tragedy. Do we need to enforce our borders? Of course we do. Do we need to restrict immigration quotas from Islamic nations? Much as it pains me to say it, perhaps we might-but before we do so, we need to have a bigger conversation about American ideals and the laws of unintended consequences. Because the same people who are advocating this course of action, are descended from possible nations where their ancestors were considered terrorists just the same as Mr. Abdulazeez was. Is America a beacon of liberty or not?

That said, Islam has some real problems right now, problems that collectively it refuses to deal with. I'm not blind to that. Nonetheless, I am having a hard time making the distinction between how denying immigration rights now to qualified immigrants, would have stopped an immigrant family from spawning a criminal some 20 years ago. Someone is going to have to explain to me how that works.

I'm willing to bet you a quart of your favorite Scotch that :

1) The weapon(s) used yesterday were obtained legally, at anyone of America's 129,817 gun dealers.

2) Mr Abdulazeez may or may not be linked to some overseas terrorist group. I, at this point do not know. But I also would like someone to tell me how that would have stopped him from legally obtaining a gun to commit his heinous deeds. Evidently his family had already been investigated and cleared.

Eventually we’ll learn more about Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, but one thing is certain: The Marines who were killed yesterday were equally as much as victims of the American culture of violence as the victims in Charleston.

Lets not forget too that:

  So far in 2015 , 27000 times an American chose that same course of action. They all had problems they had decided they could not solve. They all had grudges. They all had something that made them angry enough. And, as a result, almost 7,000 of our fellow citizens are as dead as the people in Tennessee. This is not an explanation that satisfies any particular agenda but, unquestionably, we are a very fearful nation with an unacknowledged history of violence that also has armed itself very heavily. Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, an American citizen, chose a very American course of action.  He had a problem he couldn't solve so he reached for the most American of solutions. He reached for a gun and he killed some of his fellow citizens.?

We will be told over and over again, "this is different, we are at war."  I beg to disagree. Whatever wars we are fighting beyond our borders, here at home-this was a crime. Every bit as much a crime as a contract hit ordered by a mob family in Ukraine, China or Sicily.  You have to fight it the same as any other crime. Its tragic that the nation lots four of its finest, but its losing fine citizens everyday. We need to remember that.  When you boil it down to brass tacks, this yet another case of an American with a grudge, who obtained a weapon inside the US and took out his rage with it. If this is terrorism, than most gun violence is terrorism.

And I call it a crime, not an act of war. Terrorism is a violent tool used for political reasons to bring pressure on governments by creating fear in the populace. In the same way, I have never thought it helpful to refer to a "war" on terror, any more than to a war on drugs. For one thing that legitimizes the terrorists as warriors; for another thing terrorism is a technique, not a state. Moreover terrorism will continue in some form whatever the outcome, if there is one, of such a "war". For me what happened was a crime and needs to be thought of as such. What made it different from earlier attacks was its scale and audacity, not its nature.

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