Tag Archives: Trump

Please don’t mistake what’s left behind after the elephants for the parade.

I’ve been amused at the number of pundits attempting to provide context and analysis in the wake of Trump’s racist spewage this past week. Several appear to have confused the elephant debris with an actual parade.

Let’s begin with two commonly accepted premises. First, Mr. Trump is not the brightest bulb in the chandelier, perhaps he’s the quintessential “taco short of a combo plate.” (H/T the great Ann Richards)  Secondly, he’s impulsive and undisciplined.  There have been more than enough whines from the executive office concerning how his tweets send underlings scampering to catch up to drive home that conclusion.  Based on these two notions the following conclusion isn’t too difficult to reach.

There is no strategy. There is no plan. What we are witnessing are staffers, deputies, and media stenographers, attempting to make sense of the obvious nonsense. Uncertain of this? Then consider the usual timeline, and the latest debacle fits into the pattern of obvious nonsense.

Initially, Trump is Trump. Boorish, illiterate, illogical, and racist. Then he lies. He didn’t do it, whatever it was, or someone made him do it, whomever they were. Out come the Explainers. The president really didn’t, actually couldn’t, or  truly was misrepresented by the Evil Press. Unfortunately for the Explainers there is video or a nice screen shot or two. Translation: The elephant has defecated in the street again and the Explainers are deployed with their brooms and dust pans.

Now that the debris is swirling the secondary Explainers launch. What, they pontificate all over my television screen, does this mean?  The easiest thing would be to park at square one and conclude the President is boorish, illogical, not very bright, and a racist. Surely not, the chatterati opine, there must be more. There must be strategy. Tactics? Ramifications? Implications? Proximate and approximate results? Why does there have to be anything?

After all is said, and said, and said it’s not the President who provides all this icing on the inedible cake, it’s the punditry. It’s a brilliant move to fire up his base? A strategy to drive the narrative away from his real agenda and take up air time? A deflection to establish foils in the advance of the Democratic nomination?  Or, how about it was a boorish, stupid, racist thing to say and the President said it. Period.

Combine Trump statements with cable news shows desperately trying to fill air time in the cheapest possible way, adding in more than a dash of polling information of questionable utility, and we get 24 hours of the same 12 hours of the same 15 minutes of what might pass for news.  The remainder is the culmination of the Explainers’ efforts to remove or re-pile the waste.

Enter the Commentators.  They follow the Explainers and shove the story past that “stupid thing to say” point with personal, anecdotal, and if we aren’t lucky, poll driven analysis.  Polls can be informative, but we’re getting altogether too many without seeing the actual questions respondents were being asked, and without notice given that some results have remarkable margins of error.

Commentators can be insightful; however, if people are too willing to allow those analysts to direct their own thinking, then we’re not using our own noodles. Each commentary is pedicated on the analyst’s own premises, previous assertions, or perspectives.  Please let us not confuse how the elephant leavings are stacked or strewn with the parade route.

An endless loop can be manufactured by having the President issue one of his half hearted, half arsed, semi-non-apology-apologies. Off they go again! The pile, the Explainers, the Commentators; a new configuration for the piles, followed immediately by the Explainers and the Commentators.

Let’s do try to simplify matters. It will often come to pass that a stupid, boorish, racist, man will say boorish, racist, things. There’s only one answerable question: Do you agree with him or not?  That sums up the parade.

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Filed under Immigration, Politics, racism, Republicans

Trump: Making Racists Comfortable Since 2015

Okay, there’s not a “racist bone in Trump’s body,” but there appears to be plenty in his muscles, tendons, ligaments, organs, and other soft tissue to make up for any deficit.

AND, he’s very good at making other such beings comfortable with their white supremacist perspectives.  The first way garden variety racists make themselves feel comfortable is to define their way out of the category.  How am I a racist if I don’t don the contents of my linen closet, join the circle around a burning cross, and wave my confederate battle flag? See, I’m not a racist…I’m not like those people!

However, it isn’t necessary to jump on the nativist bandwagon in order to hold obviously racist views.  How about dressing up in blackface for a Halloween event? Or, dressing up a youngster in blackface to perform country dance steps? Just good fun? Here’s a hint. If the activity would not be done in front of a predominantly ethnic minority audience of color, then it’s probably racist.

That the white person didn’t mean for the action or comment to be racist isn’t relevant. If it was racist it was racist. It isn’t the “other person’s fault” for “misinterpreting” the action or comment.  The responses range from outright defensiveness to attempts to deflect to the reaction as overblown or hyper-sensitive.  Another hint: It’s okay to apologize.

There are innumerable lists of items we could add to the Things Better Left Unsaid category.  Attach any of the following to the opening “I’m not a racist, but…” tag —

They just don’t fit in with regular people.

They just don’t learn English.

They don’t assimilate.

They drive up to get their food bank stuff in a better car than mine.

They always seem to have money for pizza and beer.

They sit around getting free stuff and services while there are jobs that go begging all over this country.

If they just act more like white people…

If they’d stop having kids they can’t afford…

AND, we could add another thousand variations on these themes, all to the same end.  The point is that the and related sentiments make those harboring racist ideas comfortable with themselves. Those, like the President, who reinforce and reassure the practitioners make the racists feel justified, less guilty, and more socially acceptable.  These are the people Trump feels he can add to his base.  If he can provide rationalization and justification to those who need to suppress their episodic pangs of conscience then his electoral strategy might be successful.

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Filed under Politics, racism

Stop Being Surprised, He’s A Racist

The erstwhile president of the United States of  America managed a good trick. Combine 1950s racism with 1950s white supremacist sentiments.  Not bad for one Twitter storm.

He blended the “Go back to Africa” taunt with “those outside agitators are Commies,” (abetted by his little minion Sen. Lindsey Graham). This harkens back to one of the old Redemptionist themes, “all our darkies were happy until those Yankee abolitionist agitators came along.” The updated version was all our N-words were happy before those outside agitators from the north started meddling in our state’s rights.  The current version generalizes opposition to white supremacist views…those outside agitators are Commies and un-American.  Repetition doesn’t improve the sentiment.

But why does anyone pretend to be shocked? He espoused the blatantly racist birtherism plague. He came down the escalator to tell us about “those” drug dealers and rapists, and said he couldn’t get a fair trial before that Mexican judge (a native of Indiana.)  He said there were some “very fine people” among those chanting the Nazi slogans in Charlottesville.  And to put some icing on the cake, his supporters are whining that it’s racist to call out his racism. (See Brit Hume)

He didn’t so much respond to reporters questions today about his racist tweets, as he talked past them, and over the reporters who pressed on.  His isn’t the most powerful voice on the lawn or in the room as it is the most rude and persistent. There’s a distinction. A distinction lost on him.

Senator Angus King recalled lawyer Robert Welch, “have you no decency…at long last have you no decency.” Perhaps it is telling that Senator McCarthy tried the same interruptive, rude, response during that infamous hearing. It was the beginning of his end.

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Filed under Congress, House of Representatives, Immigration, Politics, racism

So, what is it?

Citizen Trump’s pronouncements on the situation for migrants on our southern border are confusing. For example,  are the conditions so dire they will be a deterrent to other people from Central America? (Trumpian base of deplorables cheers happily.) Or, are they just fine, and the press — heretofore denied access — should all flock to the Rio Grande for photographs? (Trumpian base of deplorables cheers happily.)

Are there children unwashed? Without toothbrushes? Without medical care? Without clean clothing?  Because… they don’t want showers? They don’t know how to brush their teeth? They are better off here than they were at home? (Trumpian base of deplorables cheers happily.)  Or, if the conditions are bad enough people won’t want to subject their children to this treatment?  Trumpian base of deplorables cheers happily.)

The President has or has not seen the border detention facilities? He said he’d seen the facilities and everything was fine. (Trumpian base of deplorables cheers happily.) Or, he hasn’t actually visited any of the detention centers, but he knows everything is just fine. (Trumpian base of deplorables cheers happily.)

There are, frankly speaking, nothing but mixed messages coming from this incompetent administration regarding the conditions in which adults and children are being held.  Further, while we’re trying to find out what is happening in supposedly short term processing centers, we’re not asking enough questions about what’s going on in the TrumpCamps.

This morning the administration is touting improvement at CBP centers, saying only 26 children remain in custody. Good, but of those no longer counted among the border detainees, how many are reunited with family? How many are still separated from family members?

We can, and should be, more specific when asking about those youngsters who’ve been assigned to places like the Homestead facility.  Where are the adolescent girls held? Under what conditions? With what kind of supervision and assistance?  Do all the youngsters have immediate access to legal representation? To education? To health and recreation programs? Are the children under the supervision of adults who aren’t likely to refer to them by using insulting slang terms?

Unfortunately, we’re not likely to get definite answers, and those we do get will be contradictory and confusing.  This cannot continue.

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Filed under Immigration, Politics

Some Questions? Chasing C Words

The new GOP talking point is “it’s over,” “it’s done,” or some variant thereof. The “it” in question is the investigation of Trumpian malfeasance. Not. So. Fast. There are questions yet answered.

1. What explains the curious hiring of Paul Manafort as the chair of the 2026 Trump presidential campaign?   And, the even more curious change in the Republican 2016 platform concerning Ukraine?

2. What explains the efforts by Trump administration transition and early administration personnel to establish insecure back channels with the Russians?  What explains the fact that General Flynn is kept in place well after the administration is warned he has not been honest about his connections with the Russians?

3. What explains why the Trump administration expresses its desire to ease sanctions on Russian oligarchs in the face of Russian intransigence in Ukraine? Crimea?

4. What explains the reluctance of the Trump administration to follow standard procedures with regard to diplomatic relations and contacts involving the Russians? Why are there no note takers? Witnesses? Or, others who could verify US statements made during or as a result of these meetings or talks?

5. What explains the alignment between Russian efforts to weaken the NATO alliance and the rhetoric coming from the White House?

One possible explanation rests on the premise we’ve been chasing the wrong C words.  While the recent public investigations have centered on Collusion (a diversionary term of art) and Conspiracy, a legal term with a more precise definition, the C word we should be considering is COMPROMISE.

Has the President of the United States of America been compromised by a hostile foreign power? And, if so, how and to what extent?

So, no, Mr. President, until we more fully understand the underlying motives and results of your strange foreign policy decisions, until we can be assured there is no Compromise involved…it isn’t done and it’s not over.

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Filed under Foreign Policy, Politics

Patience: Selected Advice from those Far Wiser than I

This isn’t the beginning of the end, in terms of the investigations into the Trump Administration, it’s the end of the beginning.  I’d agree.  The Mueller investigation was narrowly focused, concerned with Russian interference, and run by a by-the-book investigator.  The initial investigation spawned other, perhaps more “dangerous” topics for the grifter in chief.  Witness, the efforts by the SDNY, the State of New York, the Manhattan District Attorney, various regulatory agencies, and so forth.

Collusion isn’t the point.  Not that the Oval Office Occupant wouldn’t like for us all to focus upon whatever collusion might be. The bar has been raised a few times as well.  It isn’t “collusion” if the campaign didn’t do it! Oh, but there were some 100 points of contact between Trumpians and the Russians, well then, it isn’t collusion if the president didn’t do it personally.  Oh, the president won’t release transcripts or even notes about his sessions with Comrade Putin? Oh well, it isn’t collusion if you can’t find the smoking gun so to speak.  However, “collusion” isn’t the point — the point is: Is the President of the United States of America vulnerable to Russian influence in matters of foreign and perhaps even domestic policy?  If so, is there evidence of this influence being applied?  Now let’s think about our diminished relationships with NATO allies, with NATO itself, with the British.  There’s enough smoke to indicate a nice sized fire. We need to see what’s burning.

No matter what Mueller says, the Oval Office Oaf will announce a victory.  And, it will be a grand victory — nothing like it in the history of the world, perhaps even since the Big Bang!  The Mueller Report won’t use the word “collusion” because it’s not a legal concept.  The word is “conspiracy.”  Therefore, because the Mueller Report won’t actually say “collusion” explicitly the president* will declare there wasn’t any.  We should expect this.  His cult followers certainly do.

Watch the SDNY.  These investigators and litigators aren’t finished.

Watch the State of New York.  These investigators and litigators are getting started.

Watch the House Committee investigations and hearings.  It may not do to get bedazzled by the number of subpoenas issued by various committees. Notice that there is a pattern to these requests.  The president* has taken some action and been opaque about it. The action and its motivation will be investigated. The question of “why” will emerge.  We can probably conjecture there are some basic reasons behind it — (1) the president stands to benefit from it; (2) it expresses or activates one of the president’s biases or prejudices.  Lather, rinse, repeat. Lather, rinse, repeat. There may be more than 80 requests for information and data, but we likely won’t be too far off target if we believe that information will demonstrate an abuse of power, an illegal activity, an immoral activity, or illustrate a pattern of deviousness previously not associated with any White House, including that of Richard M. Nixon.

This is the first act of a tragic play. For that matter, it’s likely only the first scene of the first act.

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Filed under Politics

The President Can’t Hide From His Words

On June 8. 2014 Las Vegas, Nevada police officers Soldo and Beck went to a pizza diner.  Their meal was interrupted by Jerad and Amanda Miller, two right wing anti-government extremists who had previously participated in the infamous Bundy Ranch stand off. Officers Soldo and Beck paid with their lives for the Millers’ warped minds and itchy trigger fingers.  The Millers and their ilk aren’t typical of American politics, but then that’s exactly what makes them dangerous.

Last November, the Washington Post reported:

“As a Republican, Mitchell Adkins complained of feeling like an outcast at Transylvania University in Lexington, Ky. “Hardcore liberals” made fun of him, he wrote, and he faced “discrimination on a daily basis.” He soon dropped out and enrolled in trade school.

But his simmering rage led him back to campus one morning in April 2017, when Adkins pulled out a machete in the campus coffee shop, demanded that patrons state their political affiliation and began slashing at Democrats.

“There was never any ambiguity about why he did it,” said Tristan Reynolds, 22, a witness to the attack, which left two women injured.”

Fortunately, the result wasn’t as lethal as in the Las Vegas, Nevada pizza parlor, but the core problem was similar.  Fast forward to October 26, 2018.  Cesar Sayoc sent out 13 pipe bombs to critics or opponents of President Trump.  We were lucky, none exploded either in the mail or at the destinations of the intended targets.

The Washington Post article, which described the increase in right wing violence offered this sobering information :

“Over the past decade, attackers motivated by right-wing political ideologies have committed dozens of shootings, bombings and other acts of violence, far more than any other category of domestic extremist, according to a Washington Post analysis of data on global terrorism. While the data show a decades-long drop-off in violence by left-wing groups, violence by white supremacists and other far-right attackers has been on the rise since Barack Obama’s presidency — and has surged since President Trump took office.”

Might we wonder why?  After Sayoc was arrested the tenor of the White House response left something to be desired:

Speaking at the White House, Trump praised the “incredible job” done by investigators and promised to punish the person responsible. Speaking later at a rally in Charlotte, North Carolina, Trump won applause from his loyalist supporters for calling for national unity and an end to political violence. But he soon attacked the media, encouraged chants of “CNN sucks” and set the audience up to boo the Democratic House minority leader, Nancy Pelosi, and reprise “lock her up” chants aimed at Hillary Clinton. [Guardian]

It seems he just can’t help himself.  And now, after the arrest of Christopher Hasson, and the confiscation into evidence of his cache of weapons and ammunition, the President can’t bring himself to acknowledge how his “lock her up,” chants and repeated references to the press as the “Enemy of the People” might play a role in eliciting reactions like those of the Millers’, Sayoc, Adkins, and others.

He called the Hasson incident “a shame.” When asked if his rhetoric might have played a role in igniting Hasson’s rage, the President asserted his words have been “very nice.” [CNN video]  I’m not at all certain the record bears this out — there’s another example, again in Las Vegas, where Trump called out that he’d like very much to punch a heckler in the face.   Trump keeps hauling out the Enemy of the People line to describe the media, most recently three days ago, directly targeting the New York Times.  On February 12, 2019 the Times reported on the assault of a BBC cameraman at Trump’s rally in El Paso, Texas.  The White House keeps announcing that the President condemns violence and doesn’t condone attacks on reporters and opponents, however the list of incidents compiled by ABC news keeps getting longer.  So does the assemblage from Vox.   And these incidents and comments are not without consequences:

“A Kentucky gunman attempted to enter a historically black church, police say, then shot and killed two black patrons in a nearby grocery store. And an anti-Semitic loner who had expressed anger about a caravan of Central American refugees that Trump termed an “invasion” has been charged with gunning down 11 people in a Pittsburgh synagogue, the deadliest act of anti-Semitic violence in U.S. history.”

If the President’s word choices are determined by what will play well with his base, then he (and his advisers) might do well to consider the distinction between base and debase.  He is now speaking not merely to the deplorables, but to the despicables and the debased.  It’s been noticed.  The ADL reports that as of 2014 about 70% of Americans thought it was necessary for the government to step in to counter Antisemitism, the poll results now show about 80% believing the government should do more to protect against this scourge.

In April 2009 Janet Napolitano warned us about the rising temperature of right wing extremism in this country — and the conservatives prompted hit the fainting couches.

 The American Legion formally requested an apology to veterans. Some in Congress called for me to be fired. Amid the turmoil, my (Daryl Johnson) warning went unheeded by Republicans and Democrats. Unfortunately, the Department of Homeland Security caved to the political pressure: Work related to violent right-wing extremism was halted. Law enforcement training also stopped. My unit was disbanded. And, one-by-one, my team of analysts left for other employment. By 2010, there were no intelligence analysts at DHS working domestic terrorism threats.

What’s happening today? Not much.

“The Trump administration has done little to counter the impression that it is soft on right-wing extremism. Even before Trump took office, his presidential transition team began drawing up plans to redirect national-security resources away from white supremacists to focus solely on Islamic terrorism. The main target of this effort was Countering Violent Extremism, an interagency task force created by Barack Obama in the wake of the Charleston Church shooting to help prevent acts of violence before they happen. In 2016, the Office of Community Partnerships, which housed C.V.E., boasted a full-time staff of 16, about 25 contractors, and a budget of $21 million. But the Trump White House was skeptical of the preventative approach.”  [Vanity Fair 2018]

The situation within the Department of Justice at present describes a CVE program killed for all intents and purposes by a thousand paper cuts.

There are some actions we should consider:

  • Fully fund and restore the CVE efforts within the Department of Justice.
  • Keep records and statistical analyses of right wing terrorist groups and their activities within the United States.
  • Prioritize efforts to combat foreign influences which seek to foment racial and ethnic divisions in the United States.
  • Publicize the sources of funding for right wing extremist groups and their propaganda machines, including Dark Money organizations.

We can do some things individually.  I, for one, don’t find ethnic ‘jokes’ amusing, and I’m not above telling the reciter thereof so. If this makes the “Adkins'” of the world uncomfortable, so be it.  I don’t need to listen to anti-government spiels, unwarranted racial or ethnic diatribes, and I feel no compunction about indicating to those emitting this verbal garbage I’m quite through listening.  “I don’t hate you, I’m just through listening.”  If this drives the cockroaches back into the dark, fine. That’s where they belong.    If a person thinks a two year old Guatemalan girl and her 20-something parents are a “national security threat,” and doesn’t hold the same opinion of  some jerk with a personal arsenal harboring his sexual, political, ideological, whatever, perversions, then the person probably won’t enjoy my company anyway. I certainly won’t be enjoying his.

We DO want affordable health care. We DO want to address climate change issues. We DO want to rationalize and reform our immigration policies.  And, we need to tell our Congressional representatives and Senators we’d like this done in a country that doesn’t have to put up with the rhetoric of derision and division, and the verbal violence that leads to the real thing.

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Filed under anti-immigration, Gun Issues, Immigration, Las Vegas, Politics, racism, White Supremacists