Report From Trump’s Alt-Reich (5) Friday, Mar 3 2017 

“I never met with any Russian officials to discuss issues of the campaign.”

–Jeff Sessions

Probable topics of discussion during Sessions’ two sessions with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak:

  1. Sessions’ help in getting Coach Nick Saban to agree to a selfie with the Russian ambassador before the Alabama-Auburn game.
  2. Arrangements for the Bolshoi Ballet to make a guest appearance at the Alabama State Fair.
  3. Ironing out details of Vladimir Putin’s waving the starting flag for the Talladega 500.
  4. The comparative merits of Russian kasha and Alabama black-eyed peas as a side dish at Washington buffets.
  5. Negotiations for a Crimean tour of the rock band Alabama Shakes “after things settle down there.”
  6. Agreement on a specialized team of Putin-trained Russian experts on voter qualification and election-monitoring advising Sessions in the event he ever became Attorney General of the United States.

 

PAGING JOE McCARTHY Tuesday, Dec 20 2016 

Official GuidePost of the Alt-Center (2017-2021)

 

At last count, Hillary Clinton’s popular vote margin over Donald Trump was upward of 2.8 million votes. It would have been twice that number except for the millions of votes stolen by Russian hackers in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin that would have made Clinton president-elect instead of Vladimir Putin’s Manchurian Candidate.

The second sentence of the above paragraph is untrue, the spurious kind of “fact” we’d be getting from Trump’s early morning tweets if the outcome on November 8 had been reversed. However, anyone who wants to pass it on through the internet is free to do so. There’s no point leaving the field of social media fabrication open to Michael Flynn’s pizza-porn crackpots.

Flynn, as you know, is the retired Army general picked by Trump to be his national security adviser. Among the general’s credentials for the job: He was the honored guest, seated next to Putin himself, at a Kremlin gala sponsored by the Russian propaganda channel RT, which Flynn gratuitously compared to CNN (much like George Patton’s 1945 equivalence of the Nazi party with the Democrats and Republicans, which got Patton removed as commander of the Third Army).

Leonid Brezhnev, Putin’s Communist boss when he served as a spymaster in the KGB, has to be chortling in his grave at the prospect of a White House national security advisor who takes luxury junkets to Moscow paid for by the Kremlin. And now, if the autocrat in Trump Tower has his way, we can look forward to a Secretary of State so much in bed with the Russian dictator he’s been bemedalled as a member of the Russian Order of Friendship.

And what exactly are Rex Tillerson’s diplomatic credentials? As CEO of ExxonMobil he’s spent the better part of recent years wheeler-dealing across the globe not on behalf of American interests but those of his multinational corporation. Not that the country’s interests and ExxonMobil’s coincide. But when they diverge – as when the State Department imposed sanctions on Russia after its takeover of Crimea – Tillerson earned his Order of Friendship medal by lobbying Congress and the State Department to lift those sanctions.

So we’ve come to this. Who would have thought, in the dim, distant days of the Cold War when Joe McCarthy was warning about Communist agents in the State Department, that it wouldn’t be a liberal Democrat but a Republican president who’d open the White House doors to a Russian dictator trained by the KGB?

And what would Tailgunner Joe be saying on the Senate floor at this point? I can see him railing about General Flynn’s dining with Putin (“a disgrace to the uniform”) and Rex Tillerson’s ties to Russian oligarchs (“an enemy within”). And on hearing the latest poll that shows no fewer than four out of 10 Republicans now have a “favorable” view of the Russian dictator, labeling them (as he did the Democrats at the GOP convention in 1952) “the party of treason.”

Sound bite to remember (by those gullible “anti-globalists” who voted for Putin’s poodle):

“There are no nations. There is no democracy. There is only IBM and ITT and ATT and DuPont, Dow, Union Carbide, and Exxon.”

–from the motion picture “Network,” Arthur Jensen’s (played by Ned Beatty) corrective lecture to Howard Beale (Peter Finch)

 

 

TRUMP OF THE WILL: Is the Republican Nominee the Man in the Munich Beer Hall?  Friday, Jul 29 2016 

 

            “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

                        –George Santayana

I quote this hackneyed aphorism only to tear it down. The problem, I would tell Santayana if we were to hash things out over a Starbucks coffee, is that the past never repeats itself in recognizable form.

True, if a little man in a brown shirt were today denouncing Jews in a Munich beer hall and we didn’t do something about it, we’d get what we deserved. But history, though its underlying DNA may be the same, arrives in different forms. Not only that, it loves to confound the pundits.

Consider how literary pundits over the years, from Sinclair Lewis to Fletcher Knebel and Charles Bailey, foresaw the decline and fall of American democracy.

Lewis, in his novel “It Can’t Happen Here,” projected the rise of an American dictator, Berzelius Windrip, a rural populist patterned after Louisiana’s Huey Long. Knebel and Bailey, in “Seven Days in May,” foresaw the coming American dictator as a military hero, a strongman in uniform like General Douglas MacArthur.

But who, other than a Mel Brooks-style satirist, until six months ago would ever have sketched a scenario featuring as a would-be American dictator a Manhattan real estate-casino hustler — anything but a rural populist — whose military record consists of draft deferments equal to those of Bill Clinton and Dick Cheney?

Only in America. But not the 20th century America of Huey Long and Douglas MacArthur. No, the Twitter-brained, selfie-loving America of Donald Trump.

Yet, wait. Before we determine whether Vladimir Putin’s preferred presidential candidate is a bizarre reincarnation of Adolf Hitler, let’s check whether he passes the first test of Munich beer hall animadversion: Is Trump anti-Jewish? (I use the term anti-Jewish to be specific, since his anti-Semitism — Arabs being Semites — is well established.)

At first take the answer would seem to be, “Of course not. His son-in-law is Jewish and his daughter’s a convert.” But then we come to the puzzling business of his refusal to fully repudiate the backing of neo-Nazi supporters like David Duke and his furious defense of an anti-Clinton tweet featuring a Star of David backed by dollar bills.

So what’s the answer? For my part I call on a story once told by Louisiana Congressman Hale Boggs who, while running for governor, was “defended” by Governor Earl Long, after being accused of having been a Communist during his college days.

“Hale can’t be a Communist,” Long told a crowd in north Louisiana. “He’s not only a Catholic but a close friend of the archbishop.” Long said this, as Boggs pointed out, knowing that his audience of hard-shell Baptists would sooner vote for a Communist than “a close friend” of a Catholic archbishop.

“So I called Long the next morning,” as Boggs told the story, “and said I didn’t appreciate his injecting religion into the campaign. He said, ‘Hale, you know I don’t have a prejudiced bone in my body.’ And I said, ‘I know you don’t, Governor, but you know that other people do, and you know how to use it.’”

Jewish son-in-law? Convert daughter? Donald Trump obviously doesn’t have a prejudiced bone in his body. But he knows that other people do, and ….

Sound bite to remember

“God has a special providence for fools, drunks and the United States of America.”

–Otto von Bismarck, proclaiming what was true in 1870 and, we may hope, in November 2016

 

An Open Letter To Barry Goldwater on Why I Am Leaving the Republican Party Tuesday, Mar 8 2016 

 

Dear Barry,

Since your running for president over half a century ago brought me into the Republican Party, I figure you’re the one to tell why I’m leaving it.

To get straight to the point, do you remember the bullshitting New York real estate hustler who made a reputation opening (and bankrupting) Atlantic City casinos when you were still around? The spoiled rich kid who inherited $200 million from his father, was born on third base and brags he hit a triple? Dumped his first wife to marry a young model, then dumped her to marry a younger model?

That’s right, Donald Trump. In your day we thought he was a Democrat because he gave so much money to Democratic candidates. But lo and behold he now claims he’s a conservative Republican and thinks he should be the party’s 2016 candidate for president.

No foreign policy experience. No domestic policy experience. But what the hell, since cursing Washington and looking down at the rest of the world is all the current party base now seems to want, he’s their man.

Oh, I forgot: No military experience either. Four Favorite Son deferments during the Vietnam War, enough draft-dodging to make Bill Clinton look like Sergeant York. Yet he had the rich kid’s temerity to call John McCain a “loser” for spending five years in a prisoner-of-war camp.

Not that he doesn’t have foreign and domestic policy ideas, e.g., he’d round up and deport 11 million Mexican immigrants because, as he tells his crowds, Mexicans are “rapists”; he’d build a wall across the Rio Grande and “make Mexico pay for it”; he’d bar all Muslims from entering the country, put full-scale surveillance on all mosques, authorize torture and waterboarding (“even if it doesn’t work”) and go after Middle Eastern terrorists by killing their families. (No, Barry, I am not making this up.)

Of course, carrying out policies like that is bound to attract criticism, but Trump has ideas on how to handle that, too. He’d tighten the libel laws to muzzle the press, and for those critics who heckle his speeches he’d encourage their being “roughed up” – the roughing possibly carried out by followers of the neo-Nazi Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, whose support Trump can’t find the full-throated voice to repudiate.

I can imagine what you’re thinking about now: A megalomaniacal nut case like that is going nowhere in a party that claims to be conservative. Sorry to break the news and I hope whatever cloud bank you’re on you’re sitting down, but barring a political miracle before the convention, Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee for president in 2016.

There’ll be some sideshow skirmishes, of course, since a sizeable number of party leaders will try to block his nomination. They see it as an aberration. Trump’s outrageous posturing, says one such leader, Paul Ryan, doesn’t reflect “who we are.” But the evidence, to my eyes, is otherwise; which is to say that Trumpism isn’t so much the problem as a symptom of the problem.

Remember how, back when you were Mr. Conservative, you’d get together with liberal Democrats in the Senate to work out compromise legislation? Your slogan was, “You can disagree without being disagreeable.” Well for the past decade, Republicans in Congress have considered compromise a dirty word, and those who think otherwise get removed from office by political Luddites who call themselves the Tea Party. You wanted to limit the size of government. The Luddites want to do away with it altogether. They talk about fighting “the Establishment,” but as this year’s primaries show, they now are the Republican Establishment.

Proof of that? The runner-up to Trump in the race for the nomination is Texas Senator Ted Cruz, whose claim to fame is a penchant for shutting down the government not only by refusing to expand the debt limit but, if necessary, to defund Planned Parenthood. (That’s right, the same Planned Parenthood your wife, Peggy, belonged to.)

Again, sorry to ruin your day, but leaving the party you brought me into is no easy matter; though I have a feeling if you were still around it’d be easier because you’d be leading the exit.

–As ever, Vic

 

Sound bite to remember

“Sometimes party loyalty asks too much.”

–John F. Kennedy, on refusing to appoint someone to a judgeship he considered unqualified

Trump on Pennsylvania Avenue, 2016? Friday, Dec 4 2015 

The Washington Post, in a lead editorial on Donald Trump’s “politics of denigration” (11/29/15), deplores the fact that Republican leaders have not spoken out on Trump’s “despicable” campaign falsehoods and “mocking of others.” In previous editorials, the Post has condemned Trump for calling Mexicans “rapists,” favoring mass registry of Muslims and the closing of mosques, and for his vile comments about women and the disabled.

Oddly missing from the Post’s list of “despicable” falsehoods was his racist charge that blacks are the primary source of murders in this country – not only murders of other blacks but of whites and policemen. Not only did Trump make that charge but he posted a graphic fabricated by a neo-Nazi to support it.

Question 1: Why is it that the Post and other editorial voices outraged by Donald Trump’s vile campaign rhetoric have yet to address the issue of how such a racist xenophobe was allowed to acquire a historic landmark in the heart of Washington’s Federal Triangle – a 60-year lease on the Old Post Office building, halfway between the White House and Capitol?

The right to renovate the Old Post Office building into a modern hotel was handed to Trump, mind you, after a fierce bidding war with established and fiscally sound hotel developers. His typically grandiose, hyperbolic promise to “produce one of the great hotels anywhere in the world” persuaded Washington’s local officials – then-Mayor Vincent Gray, current Mayor Muriel Bowser, and congressional Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton – that despite his record of hotel bankruptcies, Trump’s offer would prove a boon to the Washington economy. (Not to discount the possibility of other behind-the-scenes promises given Washington’s local officials.)

The artful deal was sealed in 2013, under pressure from Congressman Jeff Denham (R.-Cal.), subcommittee chairman for public buildings. Groundbreaking for the $200 million project came July 2014, a gala event centered around obsequious praise of Trump by Gray, Bowser, and Norton, who went so far as to say Washington would, thanks to him, finally have a first-class luxury hotel (ignoring the existence of the Four Seasons, two Ritz-Carltons, and the venerable 5-star Willard a block away).

Predictably, given Trump’s history of shameless self-promotion, problems weren’t long in coming. Once his campaign for the presidency got underway, he ordered a gigantic, block-long banner stretched across the reconstruction site, proclaiming COMING IN 2016 … TRUMP – offensive not only to the eye but the historic aesthetics of the Federal Triangle.

Protests followed, but – again predictably – local officials said there was nothing they could do about it. Then, after candidate Trump described Mexican immigrants as “rapists and criminals,” active street protests took place, leading Delegate Norton to ask that Trump apologize.

Not that he would but Norton, whose dealings with Trump deserve more attention than the Post has given them, didn’t pursue the matter. Nor has she or Mayor Bowser been heard to speak out on Trump’s racist use of neo-Nazi fabricated statistics regarding black crime.

Why not? Well after all, as Norton, Bowser and other local officials trumpeted at the groundbreaking a year ago, their friend Donald was bringing to the nation’s capital “a destination for power brokers, international visitors and luxury travelers.”

Oh, about the descriptive “international” – that’s actually the name the destination, when completed, will be known by: TRUMP’S INTERNATIONAL HOTEL; though judging by the owner’s campaign rhetoric, no Muslim, Mexican, Chinese or African American travelers need apply for reservations.

Question 2: How much “despicable” hate-filled rhetoric will it take for local authorities to speak out and take action to review and revoke the leasing of an historic Pennsylvania Avenue landmark to a revealed and unapologetic racist?

Sound bite to remember

“There but for the grace of God goes God.”

–Winston Churchill on Sir Stafford Cripps (1945) and what Winnie, if alive, would say of Donald Trump (2015)

 

About Harper Lee… Saturday, Jul 11 2015 

…a final word. Her “new” novel titled “Go Set a Watchman” is out, and it’s a good title because we need one set to protect the old and out-of-it from financial predators. The book, a manuscript rejected for publication more than half a century ago, depicts Atticus Finch as a racist SOB. Does anyone seriously think that Harper Lee, of sound mind, would have agreed to publish a book that destroys an icon that made “Mockingbird” great and established her worldwide reputation?

Soundbite to remember (with apologies to P.T. Barnum)

There’s a bloodsucker born every minute.

Hearings Point to Release of Hinckley Friday, May 8 2015 

HEARINGS POINT TO RELEASE OF HINCKLEY

–Headline, Washington Post / May 1, 2015

The medical official charged with custody of John Hinckley, arguing that he be released from a psychiatric hospital, says that requiring Hinckley to wear an ankle monitor if set free would be “stigmatizing” the would-be presidential assassin “for no good reason.”

Question re political correctness: On reading that quote in the Post, was it appropriate to (1) laugh, (2) cry, or (3) simply wince?

At the same hearing Hinckley’s lawyer, while admitting that his client has a “highly attenuated narcissistic personality disorder,” argued that Hinckley ‘has a right grounded in the Constitution to the least-restrictive environment consistent with public safety.”

Question for legal scholars: Conceding that the Constitution is a pliable document, under what attenuated clause is a right grounded regarding an “environment” suitable for someone with a “narcissistic personality disorder”?

As far back as my first year in law school – in the prehistoric days when lawyers weren’t allowed to advertise and Supreme Court justices didn’t hawk their books on TV shows – I’ve wondered about a criminal justice system rooted in ecclesiastical law.

Under this system, a societal hangover from the Dark Age, if a crime is committed the first question before the judge and jury is whether the accused was possessed by the Lord or the Devil. Did he know the difference between right and wrong? Or, in its modern psychiatric form, was he mentally aware of what he was doing?

Was John Hinckley in his right mind when he wounded President Reagan and a Secret Service agent and forever crippled the life of press secretary Jim Brady? Of course not, say his legal and medical retainers: He wasn’t responsible for his actions because, at the time, he had no “right mind.”

But that being the case, how do we differentiate between a deranged Hinckley, who is sent to a caring government clinic, and a deranged Charles Manson, sent to prison for life and “stigmatized” as an unredeemable instrument of the Devil?

According to the Post, D.C. Circuit Judge Paul L. Friedman seems inclined to release Hinckley, though his final release may take months; hopefully, as far as Hinkley’s retainers are concerned, before the next White House Correspondents dinner, at which time the only question to be answered is whether their narcissistic celebrity client will be seated in the least-restrictive environment of the CNN or the Fox table.

Sound bite to remember

Wealth is one idol of the day, and notoriety is a second. Never could notoriety exist as it does now that the news of the hour from all parts of the world is brought day to day to every individual by processes so uniform, so unvarying, so spontaneous that they almost bear the semblance of natural law. And hence notoriety, or the making of a noise in the world, has come to be considered a great good in itself, and a ground for veneration.”

–John Cardinal Newman (1849)

Next Page »