Report From Trump’s Alt-Reich Friday, Feb 17 2017 

I have just finished reading Volker Ullrich’s recent biography of Hitler and came away with the impression that any comparison between the Fuehrer and Donald Trump is faulty because:

1. Though Hitler, like Trump, was a megalomaniacal narcissist, he sought adoration and acclaim in order to gain power, whereas Trump sought power in order to gain adoration and acclaim.

2. In his speeches before the Reichstag, Hitler did not constantly refer to the size of his election victory and Nuremberg rally crowds.

3. Asked about the rise in anti-Semitism throughout the country, Hitler did not reply that his son-in-law was Jewish and some of his best friends were Jews.

Sound bite to remember

“I don’t carry a pistol. It would slow me down if I wanted to run.”

— Louisiana Governor Earl K. Long (circa 1957)

Twittering Abe Lincoln Friday, Jan 20 2017 

Selected tweets from our 16th President (1860-64)

November 1860:

RailSplitter @railsplitter
Election won, BIGTIME! Whipped Steve Douglas, two other losers. Second win over Lyin’ Steve though Illinois Senate vote in ’58 was stolen

*                                  *                                  *

in rigged election. What a phony!

January 1861:

RailSplitter @railsplitter
Southern clown Jeff Davis claiming my election not legitimate. OUTRAGEOUS! Looks like war. But

*                                  *                                  *

best way to stop spread of slavery is build a wall across Mason-Dixon Line and make rebels pay for it!

November 1862:

RailSplitter @railsplitter
McClellan turns out to be low-energy general. Told him, “You’re fired.” Probably will run against me in ’64 but he’s all talk, talk, talk, no action.

February 1863:

RailSplitter @railsplitter
Stanton-Seward arguing again. Should never have hired team of rivals. Totally embarrassing.

November 1863:

RailSplitter @railsplitter
Speech in Pennsylvania. Town called Gettysburg. Lousy staff work. Would draw bigger crowd in Philadelphia.

January 1864:

RailSplitter @railsplitter
Hired new general. Grant. Said to drink a lot but captured Vicksburg, wherever that is.

September 1864:

RailSplitter @railsplitter
Sherman marching through Georgia. He and Drunkie Grant claiming credit for winning war. RIDICULOUS! If I’d taken command myself

*                                  *                                  *

it would have been over two years sooner!

November 1864:

RailSplitter @railsplitter
Re-elected! HUGE win! Staff now talking about my legacy. Suggest face on five dollar bill and naming White House bedroom after me.

*                                  *                                  *

RailSplitter @railsplitter
Better idea. Face on Thousand Dollar bill, adding two floors and renaming building LINCOLN TOWER!

 

Sound Bite to Remember 

After a century and a half in business, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey will close down in May. They obviously decided they couldn’t compete with what’s going on in Washington the next four years.

–VG

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)

 

 

Uncivil War Sunday, Nov 13 2016 

As a candidate, Donald Trump said the election would be rigged and refused to say he’d accept its outcome. His followers threatened to take to the streets and start a “revolution” if he wasn’t elected. Now his campaign manager calls for national unity and complains because Clinton supporters have taken to the streets and refused to accept the outcome of an election in which their candidate won a plurality of the popular vote.

What went around in Trump’s mob-inciting anti-Muslim, anti-Hispanic, anti-Semitic, racist, misogynistic, campaign has come around in its aftermath. We are at the beginning of an Uncivil War which, like the Civil War a century and a half ago, is likely to last four years.

Don’t say we weren’t warned.

Soundbite to remember
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
–Edmund Burke

Twentieth-Century Blues Monday, Oct 3 2016 

I reached my eighty-eighth birthday – or as Everett Dirksen used to call it, “natal anniversary” – last week, and what better way to celebrate than revisiting the past with a trip to New York to see a revival of the 1928 Ben Hecht-Charles MacArthur comedy “The Front Page”?

About the year 1928: Looking back at the 88 autumns since the play first appeared on Broadway, it was the last year of true American innocence. The next year brought the Great Depression, followed 10 years later by the Second World War, followed in the next half-century by the Cold War, followed by . . .

Still, all things considered, they were great years to have lived through; provided you were lucky enough to be an American. (Readers’ Advisory: Colin Kaepernick fans had best move to another blog since this one requires that you stand, if only on uncertain octogenarian legs, when the national anthem is played.)

But back to revisiting the past in New York City: My first visit to Manhattan came when, as a 23-year-old Army sergeant, I was sent to a training school at nearby Fort Slocum. It was the autumn of 1951, the memorable season when Bobby Thomson’s “shot heard round the world” sent Willie Mays’ Giants to the World Series and Jackie Robinson’s Dodgers to the doldrums.

Sixty-five years and the turn of a century brings cosmic change: The Giants and Dodgers are gone; Lindy’s, where I was given a late-night table next to Jimmy Durante, is gone; Birdland, where I stood in line to hear Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker, is gone; Jack Dempsey’s restaurant, where young Sammy Davis, Jr. sat at a nearby table while I heard Joe Louis tell an interviewer he was hanging up the gloves, is history.

Yet some happy relics of what Henry Luce called the American Century remain:

Times Square (though the Times has long since moved) is still vibrant, any hour of the day or night; New York theater is still alive and well (“The Front Page,” with Nathan Lane, John Goodman, and Robert Morse, will be around for some time to come); Sardi’s, the place to go after the show, not only survives but thrives, as does Patsy’s, the best Italian restaurant west of Milan according to Frank Sinatra.

And more: As a dogface soldier during the Korean War I had the impression that it was the khaki uniform that led the locals, from the doorkeeper at Lindy’s to the gatekeeper at the Polo Grounds, to treat me (and my fellow grunts) with special courtesy. New Yorkers, after all, were reputed to be a rude, surly lot. Not so. Six-and-a-half decades later and in no uniform other than casual civilian wear, I still found New York, from Penn Station to Broadway, the most hospitable, visitor-friendly city in America.

My birthday wish? That I could say what Joe Louis – the greatest heavyweight champion that ever was – said when asked that autumn evening at Dempsey’s how he’d sum up his career: “I did the best I could with what I had.”

Not true, I’m ashamed to say, in my case. But God and Geritol (if it’s still around) willing, I have rounds left to make up for lost time.

Sound bite to remember

“If I’d known I was gonna live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself.”
— Jazzman Eubie Blake (1887-1983)

CORRECTION: MUNICH REVISITED Thursday, Aug 4 2016 

My most recent post spoke of the similarity between Donald Trump and a 20th-century Munich beer hall Fuehrer. It now appears that a more appropriate Munich parallel would be a 19th-century model, Mad Ludwig of Bavaria.

Sound bite to remember

“I always voted at my party’s call
And never thought of thinking for myself at all.”

— Gilbert and Sullivan

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

 

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