Donald practices his reading

crayon map
Well, at least now we know how he’s going to pay the Secret Service … he’ll make Pakistan pay them and foot the bill for his next dozen golf outings. Maybe he can also get them to pay for the Wall.

Wait, maybe corporate advertising could pay for the Wall. “This mile of beautiful concrete is brought to you” by Nascar or Koch Brothers Industries or Mountain Dew. Commercials could be projected twenty feet high from a Border Patrol van that plays them on an endless loop. We could install point of purchase displays in the middle of nowhere.  Hey, I’m thinking private sector! That’s good, right?

Is last night’s speech the longest piece of writing that Donald has ever read in one place at one time? Without going off script or getting so bored he just quits? I think he got about twenty minutes in before he did that repeaty thing he does and threw in an ad lib or two. But he caught himself and got back to the grueling business of reading.

Good job, Donald. Give yourself a soda and a candy bar. 

I don’t believe Donald Trump can find Afghanistan on a map. And the only parts of the speech that he wrote – or suggested – were statements like “As I’ve said before,” so he could pretend he’d had input on both the speech and the policy.  I also don’t believe that his prepared statement disclosed anything of importance regarding U.S. plans there. The military has decided that we need to stay awhile longer. They put the kabosh on the War by Voucher Eric Prince thing at the same time they put the kabosh on its principal sponsor, Steve Bannon. The only thing I know for sure is that Pakistan will be pissed both by Trump’s demand that they pick up the check and his praise of India.

The speech was classic Don Draper “change the subject” stuff and, from Trump’s somber demeanor, it looks like they also changed his meds. Switched out the adderall for a mild sedative, which they probably tucked inside raw hamburger and then massaged Donald’s throat until he swallowed.

I dislike this man so intensely that it’s increasingly hard for me to watch him and listen to him. I wish Fred Trump had followed HIS original instinct and pulled out 72 years ago.

But Fred finished what he started in Queens that night. And here we all are.

A few words about “tactics”

john-lennon-quote

In the current climate, I have no doubt I can piss off a bunch of different people for a variety of reasons in only a few words. Let’s see. But, before I talk about tactics, a few words about Boston.

Boston has a troubled history regarding race relations, more troubled than many Northern big cities and nearly as troubled as a few Southern ones. Don’t believe me, read the magnificent book by J. Anthony Lukas entitled Common Ground (1985) that chronicles the lives of three Boston families during the busing/ desegregation era.

That time wasn’t that long ago and I have no doubt things are still problematic, but 40.000 Boston folks showed up yesterday in counterprotest to the planned “Unite the Right” rally. That’s a nice number – on short notice – and is a fairly good indication of who’s winning the war of hearts and minds. Four hundred something doofuses with tiki torches in Charlottesville versus 40,000 folks in Boston inviting them to go home.

Numbers are important. They provide perspective. But numbers are increasingly hard to come by because the media often chooses not to supply them, hoping to gin up interest in an event (including, maybe especially, on social media) by magnifying its relative importance. If I were a Catholic, I would term the dearth of numbers in the mainstream media as a sin of omission rather than commission. But it’s still a sin. Tight camera shots are another malefactor.

Those are media tactics, which we should at least be aware of. They want popular stories to have “legs,” run a long time on those legs, and hopefully turn into a miniseries. It has always been thus, back to the little girl or boy who fell down the well in Radio Days while America listened glued to the set, praying for her or his safe return. But watching the miniseries … or listening to the rescue efforts … doesn’t provide us with the necessary information to make moral or even practical decisions regarding current events and their implications. That’s where longer magazine and newspaper pieces come in. Where books come in.

I’m fairly well versed in the “alt-right” movement and its antecedents. In the main room of my memory is a timeline of the American Civil Rights Movement and a map of Vietnam. In the near future, I plan to read up on the antifa (antifascist) group, the decision of the ACLU to withdraw support for the Unite the Right assembliers if they come armed, and I can’t wait for the arrival of longer magazine pieces on Charlottesville, for the first book on Charlottesville if it’s not a poorly executed rush job. I want to know more. I want the blanks of real-time media coverage filled in. Their lenses adjusted. Wider shots. I hate not knowing as much as I should know because things are always, well, ginned up. And then people start tweeting (i.e. taking a virtual pee) and, well, forget about it.

I told you the good news from Boston yesterday, here’s the bad news. The Unite the Right rally speakers were never able to speak. I had hoped they would be able to voice their hate as planned, so that folks could hear how stupid they are, make jokes about their hair, ask during breaks what’s up with Steve Bannon’s mouth (herpes?), speculate on when exactly was the last time any of these alt-white righties had a date.

The New Right Nation will, apparently, be an all dude thing. That’s gonna be a tough sell, even in the reddest parts of the South and middle America. No par-tay either. Just a lot of speeches and chest-beating and marching across bridges to nowhere. I wish we’d heard them talk. Hearing the bald guy with the weird mouth talk and talk (on that VICE video that’s been making the rounds) was the best non-advertisement for Unite the Right I’ve ever seen. Let Stupid talk. He’ll hang himself.

Stupid didn’t talk in Boston because scuffles broke out, the White Righties fled, the police shut things down. Better that than the barely supervised chaos of Charlottesville over an expanding time frame that was destined to lead to violence eventually. But better still would be letting them speak to a handful of hooded clappers while Smart and Reasonable speaks across the park to that crowd of 40,000.

Tactically, for me, the most effective counterprotest is to rally in opposition to the speakers you detest. Telling what you perceive to be the truth (while dissecting what’s wrong with what they profess) to a crowd ten, a hundred, a thousand times as large.

My ideal “better” entails no street fights. No physical attacks. No violence. Which is where antifa and I butt heads … metaphorically, of course.

I only know a little, so I concede in advance I may not know enough, but some of the antifa activists advocate instigating violence against the alt-right and actively shut down their events. In a lot of localities, the alt-righters and the antifas have scuffled at events in the past, yell at each other by name, so it’s like a monthly reunion of the Jets and Sharks but without the dancing. It’s parochial and not helpful at all.

I would prefer no scuffles, no physical attacks, no violence of any kind. From anyone. The Black Panthers (to name only one group from the past) did not run around instigating violence. They merely let it be known that force in their neighborhoods would be met by force. Not free speech in their neighborhoods. Force. Violence. And all or nearly all of the violence associated with the Panthers was started by police, up to and including the police murder of Fred Hampton.

Let the other side be the ones to instigate violence. Be the bad guys. Be the ones who do time. It worked during the Civil Rights Movement and it will work now. Not to mention that violence and the threat of violence begets more violence.

I heard people say they felt that the antifas at Charlottesville had “protected” them from Unite the Right members intent on violence. Maybe, but it also endangered them and others. The violence of the first days … some of which appears to have resulted in the alt-wrongers showing up heavily armed the last day … put hundreds of people in jeopardy. Watching all those stupid fuckers with automatic weapons in a tense crowd of mostly noncombatants was a nightmare. One I hope does not become a recurring dream.

Which brings us to the ACLU. They made a decision not to support Unite the Right type groups in their right to assembly if they choose to assemble armed. I know I am good with their support of the rights of such groups under peaceful pretenses. I think I also favor withdrawal of that support because of guns.

Providing legal support to their armed assembly … even in an open carry state (God how I hate guns!) … might open the ACLU up to legal action. And lawsuits if gun violence occurs. I think the ACLU also feared losing a significant part of their donor base like what happened to them after Skokie even though no significant violence occurred there. I think it was a business decision – on the part of ACLU – awaiting a philosophical justification, but I’m cool with that. Did I mention how much I hate guns?

My few words turned into a wide-ranging screed, which happens a lot with me. Sorry about that. As Pascal said, if I’d had more time, I would have written a shorter letter. I’m open to corrections on facts and differences of opinion, but I’m not sure how much I’ll engage back and forth. I’ve posted too much this week and I’m sick of hearing myself talk.

It appears to be a nice sunny day outside. I think I’ll take a closer look.

In the 50 years plus since Medgar Evers was murdered …

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In his driveway. Within earshot of his wife and children. In all that time, there has been exactly one (1) statue erected in the Mississippi civil rights activist’s honor. That statue resides at Alcorn State, the formerly segregated college he attended on the GI bill.

One statue. At his alma mater. Compared to hundreds of statues of Confederate generals.

That’s another reason why so many folks find the Dixie stuff offensive. The dearth of honors for genuine American heroes like Evers, who gave their lives to combat the horrors that the Confederacy strove to sustain. It also took almost 30 years to bring his rotten killer to justice, but who’s counting?

When only one part of your “history” is represented, there are reasons for that. And the reasons are rarely good.

Coming this Fall … Alt-Confederate Clothes!

rebel fashions

Or should we say returning this Fall, since the alt-right has generated such interest in all things Johnny Reb that the fashions of the Old Confederacy are back by popular demand. But it’s 2017, not 1861, and we’ve gone way beyond basic gray.

Be brave, Richard Spencer, and dare to wear yellow. David Duke has yellow bellbottoms most Klan consider de rigeur.

Yes, macho dudes, it’s a lot of buttons to button, but you’ll look so sharp in your alt Confederate uni that you won’t have to button them alone for long. The alt-girls will swoon!

We at Johnny Reb Fashion know that not everyone can live in a Southern state. That’s why we’ve designed a sash that can double as a scarf in winter weather.

Your alt-sword is purely decorative, unfortunately, but there is ample room in your Johnny Reb jacket for a concealed firearm and color-coordinated holsters for you lucky alt-studs who reside in an Open Carry state.

Come on, white people, you can do it. Make America Two Countries Again! Buy Johnny Reb!

In this photo from Skokie, I’m the tall guy in back with cool shades and his mouth hanging open …

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Just kidding. Despite my reputation as a latter day Zelig, I was not actually present for the Skokie Klan rally and counterprotest in 1978.

Although I did visit a buddy in Skokie the week before it and encouraged him NOT to bust heads. To just show up and show solidarity. For one thing, there weren’t that many heads to bust … maybe 50 knock-kneed really dumb-sounding Klan dudes sporting the half-hood look made popular during the second resurgence of the Klan in the 1960s.

I also lost a couple friends by vehemently defending the ACLU’s decision to represent the Klan in its attempts to hold a rally. And I have not wavered in that position. An inch. With the obvious exceptions of not being able to shout “Fire” in a crowded theater or specifically call for violence against another person or group of people, my support of free speech is absolute. Both in principle – which is what makes the first amendment the cornerstone of liberty – and in practice.

The more you let the Klan types talk … especially in public and in debate … the less attractive they become to weak minds and to young unloved men searching for identity in all the wrong places. None of their ideas are evidence-based. Or logical. Or strong enough to survive the mildest debate. And most of the Klan types wilt under pressure, cringe, turn and run … not to mention whine when they lose their jobs or their Mom gets mad … so any semblance of emotional strength or emotional appeal usually fades as well.

The only time that shit seems attractive is when lit by the LED screen of a lonely viewer of Breitbart or some other online receptacle of horse manure and obvious idiocy. Alone in your room … while posting Pepe the Frog pics for the amusement of other curdled adolescents … you might imagine your pimple-assed face to be the face of a new Aryan nation.

But not in the light of day. Not in the light of Liberty.

P.S. I wasn’t happy with the way the local police handled Charlottesville. And I’m not convinced that the right of assembly always means the right to assemble exactly where you want to … e.g., I support the ability of a locality – for public safety reasons – to deny one venue and suggest an equivalent substitute. But those posts are for another day.

What Trump added today and why he added it …

pepe trump

A word, first, about Trump’s demeanor. No sadness, no remorse at his own inadequacy from the day before, no apology for not being “clearer,” some obvious impatience that he had to speak about this – again – and not matters he considers more important. Nearly everything was discussed in general terms. A raised voice toward the end – when he condemned the list of groups he was given to condemn – which some might mistake for passion or at least sincerity, but it was just loud rote.

In his small-handed way, Trump was again trying to act the Tough Guy. The Strong Man. Doing his puffed-up Mussolini impersonation, minus the sash. Letting us know that the nation is in good hands (which look less small when you face the palm out and spread the fingers) and, hey, I’m on this, k?

There was lots of talk about the law and having legal authorities handle this. Trumpolini dreams at night that the country’s various law enforcement agencies all work for him. Remember that one cop group endorsement he got during the campaign? And kept mentioning with such pride?

Trump spoke most – among his advisors – to Fire and Fury Bannon and White Supremacy Gang Sign Miller before the first speech, when he didn’t manage to condemn any group by name, spread the blame wide and far back in history, and presented round one of the Strong Man “law and order” stuff.

That speech was for his election supporters … neo-Nazis, white nationalists, KKK, mouth breathers on 4Chan and reddit who read Breitbart and are scared of women and talk tough only on their computers … and they got the message. They were elated that he didn’t condemn them. He’s still with us. He’s grateful. His inept and inapt Presidency is our fulfillment.

The media piled on these last couple days and required Trump to issue a “clarification.” Although he didn’t label it as such, because that would mean he said something wrong the first time. And he looked plenty impatient while he issued. The righty whiteys and other mouth breathers will get that message, too … roughly translated as “see what our guy has to put up with from the lamestream press?” But they know what’s in Trump’s heart. Hatred. Contempt. Same as theirs.

Don’t believe what Trumpolini said today … he didn’t believe it either … the truth is in what he failed to say the first time around.

What Trump said and why he said it …

He took no responsibility for the current rise in racial tensions and the recent hubris of Klan types and neo-Nazis. He didn’t even blame Obama and said that this kind of stuff has been going on for a long long time. He said the most important thing was to re-establish “law and order,” which – before it was a TV show – was a phrase most used by Richard Nixon and usually had a racist tinge. Trump, uh, wants our children to feel safe to play.

This stuff all comes from Bannon, Gorka, Miller. It’s the kind of stuff fascists say to prepare the populace for martial law and the Clampdown. It’s the kind of speech a Putin gives.

Ain’t gonna happen.

But that’s what the Trump crowd wants and I wish I could subpoena some emails to find out whether Richard Spencer and other alt-right scum were acting under the direction of Breitbart scum in the White House. I know Bannon et al are happy about Charlottesville and hope for other such events.

Here’s the good news. When you pull the camera back … and you start counting bodies …. the Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally wasn’t exactly a rousing success. It was fucking scraggly. A few hundred neoNazis tops, whose primary cultural contribution heretofore has been to reintroduce the buttondown shirt to college age kids. They can’t be “replaced” because they haven’t done anything worth replacing. And never will.

In addition, the racist assclowns were far outweighed by anti-fascist protestors … including Black Lives Matter folks and what looked to be a contingent of anarchist youth. The violence has been minimal compared to other such events in our nation’s history. Unlike the events at Ole Miss in 1962 and Skokie in 1977, for instance, most of the locals in the surrounding community appear to have stayed home and watched it on TV. And, surprisingly given Trump’s closing remarks, no one seems to have brought their small children to a Unite the Right rally. So they stayed safe. This time! But for how long?!

In terms of white riotry, Charlottesville is very small potatoes. The alt-right is not making the transition … even with major supporters on the President’s staff … from internet hysteria and bullying to an organized “National Front.”

So let’s condemn Charlottesville without feeding the sense of “national crisis,” which the Trump crowd is seeking to foster. They want us to believe things are out of control, in disorder, so that we’ll welcome the efforts of Strong Man Trump to put things right. And make America not just great again but safe, too. They are playing fascist games, wishing and hoping, so we need to be aware and beware.

But we also need to keep things in perspective, historical and otherwise. And never feed into their lies.

The mentally ill guy shouting “I’m gonna fuck you up!”

is now POTUS and our Commander in Chief. Somebody give him a sandwich to distract him. Maybe after he finishes eating, he’ll take a little nap and we can all rest our ears. Or our eyes in this case, since our mentally ill guy tweets “I’m gonna fuck you up” instead of shouting it.

I don’t believe North Korea will launch missiles on Guam, but the mentally ill guy running that joint murdered his brother and is friends with Dennis Rodman. So shit could happen. Shit can always happen when two grossly incompetent males with bad haircuts and “issues” square off. Well, in this case, round off. And they can’t even settle things on the golf course, ’cause our crazy guy is a known cheater.

Here’s the deal. Sometimes what Trump says and does is simple madness. But, when there is a method to it, it’s always the same method: distract folks from his thieving and other crimes. Try to make them forget he crawled up Putin’s ass decades ago and still sleeps there. Don’t let anyone see behind the curtain to discover that Donald J Trump is a complete fraud. A charlatan.

I never bought that Donald Trump was serious about running for President. I always thought it was a business move and the only difference between him and a franchise owner like Herman Cain was a higher TVQ. But then red America … in its infinite stupidity and ignorance … kept voting for him, his creditors (red Russia) saw an opportunity, and Trump himself decided being President wasn’t a bad way to increase sales and brand recognition. While also keeping his Russian bookie from chopping off fingers, giving him a draft deferment or two that aren’t just lies.

(On a side note, why is it that the most bellicose war mongers are always the guys who dodged the draft and never served?)

I don’t think the dumb, lame fuck-you-up stuff will lead to a military confrontation. Anymore than it did when only North Korea needed a sandwich and a nap and we behaved like sane adults. But it pisses me off that I even have to think about it. And I can’t imagine how pissed folks are in Japan, South Korea, Guam.

Meanwhile, I’m going to keep my eye (mostly) on the ball, which stinks of corruption and deserves prison time. Not just for Trump himself but for his top campaign staff, for his various Mobbed-up monkey business business associates, and for his whole stupid shitty family.

May his fall from power happen sooner rather than later so the folks in Guam can get a good night’s sleep.

A Sam Shepard Story

It’s a Friday morning and I am riding in a station wagon headed to the Lower Sierras for a camping weekend with my mostly older, mostly actor friends. The driver is a woman I’ll call Jane (in homage to Jane Fonda) who is smoking pot and telling me story after fascinating story about her life before marriage and mommyhood. Her two small children are in another car, her husband is off on a shoot, and it’s probably been a good long time since Jane was able to a) get stoned at nine in the morning and b) talk. Even if it’s just talking to me, a friend of a friend, a complete stranger. I am, however – in Jane’s defense – a good listener.

Right now I am listening to Jane (relative of a hardcore Weather Underground member) tell me about the time she smuggled money to Abbie Hoffman, post-nosejob and haircut and in hiding from a coke bust in upstate New York. The nose job made such a striking change in Hoffman’s appearance that she was never sure afterward that it was really him. Whoever it was – Steal This Nose! – said he had been set up for the bust by the FBI, which Abbie used to refer to as “a giant PR firm.” Some things never change.

I don’t remember other details from the Underground segment of our conversation, but the next story (featuring today’s subject as star) is fresh. The following year – 1975 – found Jane on Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue, working on the film made in conjunction with the music tour called Renaldo and Clara, and sleeping with the movie’s writer Sam Shepard. Yes, the four-hour Renaldo and Clara had a writer and that writer was Shepard. Which goes a long way toward explaining why Renaldo and Clara is the only one of Dylan’s self-produced movies that is even watchable. Far better than watchable, and, in parts, almost great. A few years earlier, Shepard had contributed the best and most coherent scenes to Antonioni’s Zabriskie Point, and – little known fact – he wrote sketches for the infamous stage play Oh, Calcutta.

Ten or so years later Shepard would write Wim Wenders’s Paris, Texas, possibly the best American movie of 1980s and one of the only Eighties movies with what might be called integrity. As a screeenwriter, he specialized in giving movie dreams flesh. Just as – in his plays – he turned the torture of flesh and blood into the stuff of dreams.

“I thought he would be a little mean,” Jane said. “Which he was, especially when he drank. I didn’t expect him to be so sweet. I don’t think I was the only one on tour he was sleeping with, but I didn’t care. I was in love with him,” she smiled. “I still am. The idea of him, anyway.”

I asked Jane what she meant by the “idea” of Sam Shepard. “That face,” she laughed. “Beautiful, but a guy’s guy, too. And what other writer could wear a cowboy hat and pull it off? Not make you want to laugh.” She said that all of Shepard’s ideas were Sixties ideas and they never changed. “He just put them in a shitty house. In an unexpected part of America. He just changed the clothes.”

I’m not ready to say goodbye to Sam Shepard. I’m still in love with the idea of him, too. So … consider this Part I.

Just a pic of our Prez and his best buds

trump with best buds

Talking to Russian officials in December when they’ve been accused of interfering in the election on your behalf (possibly an act of war, certainly cybercrime) is a problem. Bad. Just talking to them. Unless it’s to give them shit for their behavior in the last election.

Talking to them in secret. Worse. Somebody might think you had colluded with Russia to sway the last election. And this was partial payment.

Talking to them in secret about creating a secret communications channel so that you can hide the shit you talk about from your own government and intel services. So bad the only thing you can do … if you’re caught … is lie.

Doing all this shit and pretending to forget … no one believes any of the Trump administration folk who omitted Russian contacts … means it’s time to say goodbye to government service. And hello to the possibility of prison.

You can’t explain this shit away … FOX employees who get paid to explain it away are running up huge tabs at the local bars and having trouble sleeping at night. Their little scam (FOX liar for a living) may crumble soon and they might have to become newsmen and newswomen again. Although corporate flackery seems the easier route and the one they are best suited for.

There is a very simple explanation for all of the above behavior. From Jared. From Kelly, Sessions, Manafort et al. Trump and his gang are in bed with the Russians. Politically, financially, legally … i.e., illegally. They have been since well before the 2016 election and Trump, in essence, is now in a copresidency with Putin as regards foreign policy.

A lot of this stuff is criminal. Some of it is treason. But, you know, Obama, her emails. Benghazi, ACORN, 76 trombones and 110 cornets. America, O America.

A Look Back at the First Week

 

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Trump’s Emotional Tailspin

During the first week of Donald Trump’s presidency, his psychopathology was already obvious and being remarked upon both behind the closed doors of Congress and openly in the media. This scathing piece was written by a conservative columnist, Jennifer Rubin.

In the early 1970s, I remember speculation that Nixon might crack under the pressure of Watergate or that he was exhibiting paranoid tendencies. But I don’t ever remember an assessment of a sitting President’s mental health that was this stark, this declarative of mental illness. Virtually everyone agrees that Number 45 is nuts. And not in a fun, shake-things-up gonzo way. Trump is a very sick man. He should trade in the Armani suit for a think blue robe that ties in back. Or a jacket with the arms tied in front. 

The GOP will keep a sick man in office for as long as they can keep passing their rob-the-people, feed-the-rich agenda through him and around him. Look at Paul Ryan in the clip of the first meeting of 45 with Congressional leaders. He looks like a hungry wolf circling prey. Although I like wolves, so let’s make him a coyote instead. A nipper of carrion. Or, in this case, walking carrion.

Our country and the world is in serious danger every day that a compulsively lying rageaholic madman occupies the White House. We have to resist every day. In every way imaginable short of violence … if things turn violent, we will have a fascist state.

And be prepared for far worse than what we’ve seen. Trump is not capable of controlling himself, behaving differently. He’s too far gone. And his impotent rage at the truth (which continually fails to conform to his fantasy) can only escalate.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2017/01/24/trumps-emotional-tailspin-was-predictable/?utm_term=.4cfd7011ce6b

One month of Trumpf …

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I ended the first month of Trump the way I started it: by rallying downtown with a group of like-minded Los Angelenos who don’t believe Trump has any business in the office he occupies and needs to vacate it as soon as possible. There were lots of chants and signs, both witty and moving. My favorite of the funny signs was “IKEA makes better Fake Cabinets,” and the runner-up “Build a wall around Donald Trump and I’ll pay for it. ”

The occasion for today’s rally – there’s an anti-Trump rally every day somewhere, sometimes lots of somewheres – was President’s Day and the theme was “Not My President.” He’s sure not mine. Trump isn’t even a President, really. When he’s asked questions about national policy, he answers with stories about himself. He signs things without reading them.  He pretty much goes where he wants to …. New York, Melbourne, Florida, Mar-a-Lago … which isn’t usually the White House. Although Trump does enjoy spending time in the Oval Office. He likes looking at the pictures.

On the way into the rally, I met a man named Mike. He is a Latino American, a Los Angeles native, and a self-proclaimed “Mexican for Trump.” He was at the southwest corner of City Hall, brandishing a sign announcing his support of Trump and yelling stuff, although Mike has a light voice and no one behind him or in the passing cars could clearly hear what he said. They could read the sign, though, and see his red Make American Great Again cap, and people were pissed. As I was passing Mike, a short Latina in her forties was yelling at him – red-faced – cursing Mike in Spanish. At least I think she was cursing him. I’m pretty sure “Chinga tu Madre” is not a compliment.

I felt like cursing Mike, too, and almost did. But he has a mild manner and I didn’t feel angry (or betrayed as I suspect the Latina felt betrayed). I just felt confused. What happened to Mike? What the hell happens to all Trump supporters, who are voting against their own interests? Who are getting conned?

I stopped and asked Mike why he liked Trump. He said it wasn’t about Trump personally, he liked his policies. He said Trump would create jobs. I told him he wouldn’t create jobs and told him why I thought that was true. I asked MIke if he was a Christian and if his religion was a factor in his support. MIke said he was a Christian but not much of one and I said, good, Trump isn’t either. Mike laughed. Then went on to say that Islam was a dangerous religion and killed people and that was the thing that most concerned him, why we had to keep them all out. Even the ones who helped us fight wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who will die if they can’t leave? I asked Mike. He said no, we should let them in. On a case by case basis. I asked him about Putin. Mike said he hated him. And the connection with Trump bothered him, but you can’t believe everything you read. I asked Mike what his number one reason for supporting Trump was and he said borders. He wants a wall between himself and the country from whence his parents immigrated, illegally, years ago. And he seemed to think all the homeless people downtown were somehow the result of lax immigration. I told Mike that more than 70% of L.A.’s homeless were black or white and that the percentage of Latinos was small and far less than their percentage in the general population. Mike hadn’t known that.

I asked him his name, told him mine, shook hands, and turned to leave. Mike thanked me for talking to him and said he respected me and my views. I said okay, man, have a good one. I didn’t respect his views, so I couldn’t say that, but I should have told Mike I respected him. It was small of me not to give him that. He’s a nice man – polite in the face of outrage – and it takes cohones to stand alone on that corner with his sign.

Trump Survival Rule #4 – Be Outraged

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First, they attack and discredit the Media

Massa Gessen has written six rules for survival in an autocracy, which I have reprinted below. Gessen lived in Russia when Putin took control and she has written one of the better books about him: The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin (2012). Her other book, Words Break Cement, chronicles the lives and imprisonments of Pussy Riot, Russia’s all-female punk rock protest band that Putin put behind bars.

pussy-riot-arrest

Speaking of which, where are our punk rock protest bands? Where’s the new Hendrix and Jefferson Airplane and Country Joe & The Fish or (for the older set) the new Phil Ochs, Joan Baez, Dylan before he went electric? If nothing else good comes from the Trump years, can this – please, finally – put an end to alt and indie and any group consisting of a guy and a girl in everyday clothes with wispy voices accompanied by shit they loaded on their computer and press buttons to play?

Can we please have music with a little viscera behind it. Some unfiltered emotion. Some outrage. Everyone in the culture – and every part of the culture – needs to revolt against what’s happening. In my generation, musicians led the way.

jimi-woodstock-03Trump used his first solo press conference to attack the news. He and his Brietbart boys go after the press every day, which shores up their base (those who watch and only watch Fox) and feeds the resentment we all feel at times when the press covers the wrong things, covers the right things poorly, misses the Big Story.

The Big Story is that Trump’s people are attempting an autocratic takeover of the United States of America. Not only do they want to rule domestically with an Iron Heel, but they also seek to dissolve our traditional foreign alliances such as NATO in favor of an informal collection of fascist or proto-fascist states in Russia, Turkey, hopefully France under Marine Le Pen, Italy, the UK of Brexit, and several South American states. The GOP is letting it happen, picking up loose change along the way and hoping to install Pence if business experiences a turndown and the Market gets shaky.

Putting your head in the sand will not prevent any of this from happening. Or just wanting “to go back to your normal lives.” You don’t have a normal life anymore, sorry, an Assclown got into the White House with foreign assistance and nothing and no one is safe. There is no normal until he’s gone. So stay outraged.

And here – according to Masha Gessen – are a few other things you need to do in order to survive:

Masha Gessen, Autocracy: Rules for Survival

Don’t Blame Trump for Scott Pruitt

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An EPA enemy to head up EPA is right out of the GOP playbook, which has been in place (to varying degrees) since Ronald Reagan’s first term. In 1980, Reagan appointed James Watt as his Secretary of the Interior, and Watt proceeded to eliminate dozens of environmental regulations and open up the offshore continental shelf to oil drilling. He was combative and insensitive with a sense of humor that Donald Trump might enjoy. One joke that landed Watt in hot water featured “a black, a woman, two Jews, and a cripple.” I can’t remember whether or not they were entering a bar.

The GOP doesn’t want you to look to the government for anything good. Not your health, your security in old age, public schools, affordable housing, safety in the workplace, a decent wage, parks and lakes and oceans that are clean and beautiful or at least not so poisoned that you are afraid to dip a toe in.

Increasingly, if the GOP sees a chance to make a buck by privatizing (even in areas where they had been loathe in past to tread, such as prisons and war), they have gone for it in a big way. The private prison thing paid off tremendously. Not only has it made a handful of prison privateers incredibly wealthy, it has also helped keep the streets clear of black people, brown people, and unruly youth. The War on Drugs isn’t the only reason that the U.S. has 5% of the world’s population and 25% of the world’s prison population. The other other reason is prisons for profit, which provide an incentive (as opposed to the disincentive of public financing by taxes) to put people away instead of search for alternatives that serve society better. The reason why so many of the prisoners in those places are black or brown is racism.

You can blame Donald Trump for Rex Tillerson at State, Wilbur Clark at Commerce, and Michael Flynn at NSA, who were all appointed for their Russian connections. Jeff Sessions at AG is a campaign reward for Good Ole Jeff bein’ the first Senator to get behind Trump. Mitch McConnell’s wife Elaine Chao at Transportation is a political (and financial move) by Trump. Mitch’s wife will be in a perfect position to effect policy and facilitate bribes that both men hope will flow with any infrastructure or other large public works projects. And flow both ways. Ching ching!

The rest of Trump’s appointments (including probably Betsy Devos) were likely suggested by Pence or the GOP leadership as their usual business as usual: Appoint someone who is actively opposed to the department’s agenda or who will destroy it by neglect. Someone like DeVos kills two birds with one stone (she is a GOP megadonor and has spent her life trying to replace public education with private relgious schools supported by tax dollars). Her brother is Eric Prince, disgraced founder of Blackwater, so maybe she kills three stones. Just in case a private army would come in handy to Trump’s little coterie of fascist dreamers.

Read the book I always recommend on this subject – The Wrecking Crew by Thomas Frank (2008) – to learn more about the GOP’s destroy-government agenda, which is now entering its 36th illustrious year.

Blame Donald Trump for being an ignorant, incompetent, treasonous. raccoon-handed assclown with his head up Putin’s butt. Blame him for cronies like Flynn and Tillerson and Sessions and anything that comes from Bannon or the other sad Steve.

For the rest of it, blame the GOP. They’re doing the same stuff they’ve done since that day in 1980 when affable Ronnie Reagan appointed obnoxious James G. Watt to piss on Interior. That day when Presidents stopped trying to pick capable people to head up departments with altruistic and socially-agreed-upon agendas and replaced them with The Wrecking Crew.

So that our governments would fail. And their rich corporate friends make a few more bucks.

I Count the DeVos Fight as a Win …

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What could have been a routine appointment became anything but routine. We turned a vote or two (lots of votes if you count Democratic votes that became noes instead of go along to get alongs).

We put the entire Democratic Party on notice that their job is to RESIST the Assclown in Chief and everything he does if they want our support in two years. They will be primaried if they cut deals or try to straddle the fence, just as moderate Republicans were primaried by the Tea Party. We need Leaders not ass-coverers.

Mike Pence had to leave his Presidential duties (which he shares with Bannon and a couple of others while the Orange Queen signs shit and poses for photos) to cast the deciding vote. Any minute or portion of a minute of these guys’ days that we can tie up with resistance are minutes or portions of minutes they can’t devote to fucking America.

Sean Spicer had to use the word “unprecedented” to describe Democratic behavior that was de rigeur Republican behavior for nearly the last eight years. Even FOX viewers (who know what unprecedented means) knows that one is bullshit.

Betsy Devos (SCAmway heiress and bigtime Dark Money donor) was exposed as an ignorant dunderhead with an anti-public school zeal that is the opposite of her department’s mission. This is what the GOP does … puts people in charge to wreck the Department with nonsense and neglect … unless that Cabinet job is needed to pay back Putin for favors or to keep Mitch McConnell happily greasing the wheels.

Fuck you, Trump! Fuck you, Pence! And fuck you, Betsy DeVos! We’ll be in your faces until you’re gone. Letting you know you’re being watched. Obstructing your actions when possible. Reviling them when not.

Enjoy this moment, GOP Custers. This is your last stand.