Quote of the Day: Madeleine Albright

“We want to be told where to march.”

— Madeleine Albright in Fascism: A Warning

The Writing on the Wall: San Francisco Chronicle, 16 May 2018

Editorial, p. A9:

The Trump Administration has exported its politics of provocation to the last place that needs it, the Middle East. The all-too predictable immediate result has been carnage. The long-term consequences are likely to be worse.

Like President Trump’s unilateral withdrawal from the Iran nuclear agreement last week, his relocation of the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on Monday stoked tensions and emboldened hardliners on all sides. They include those who urged protesters to storm a border fence in Hamas-ruled Gaza, about 40 miles from the wilfully oblivious celebration of the new embassy. Israeli soldiers responded with tear gas and gunfire, leaving at least 60 dead and 2,000 wounded.

The disputed status of Jerusalem, in light of its religious and political importance to Jews and Palestinians alike, has long been regarded as one of a few key controversies to be resolved by peace talks. Trump’s recognition of the holy city as Israel’s capital would be a monumental concession to one side if anything had been gained or even asked in return. As effected, it was just a gift Trump bestowed on his evangelical political base, and by extension himself, at the expense of lives, American standing and prospects for peace.

Whether Trump takes the need for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations seriously might be guessed from his decision to entrust the job to his callow son-in-law, Jared Kushner, along with a laughable litany of other assignments for which he has no obvious qualifications.

#amreading The New Yorker, 26 March 2018: “California v. Trump”

In March, the Donald toured the border wall, and the Attorney General flew to places like Las Cruces, New Mexico. Thank God for Jerry Brown.

Addressing the U.S. Attorney General, Brown said: “I’ll cooperate, Jeff, if you can get off this current maneuver you’re on, because it’s unbecoming.”

“California v. Trump”, by Connie Bruck

Early this month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions declared war on the State of California. At least that’s the way many opponents of the Trump’s Administration saw it. Speaking to the California Peace Officers Association in Sacramento, Sessions announced that the Department of Justice was suing the state for passing three laws to protect undocumented immigrants — measures, Sessions said, that “intentionally obstruct the work of our sworn immigation-enforcement officers.”

Earlier, self had watched the AG on TV make a rhetorical device of “How dare you?” and finish up with, “California, we are coming to get you.”

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While 45 seems lost in his own alternate reality of The Apprentice (“You’re fired” seems to be his favorite slogan), Sessions is lost in his own version of a western, where the Good Guys (Whites, self presumes) battle it out with Bad Guys (Native Americans, self presumes — aka, Non-Whites). The “coming to get you” had her rolling on the floor, because Sessions in person is rather petite in stature. And moreover, has elf ears. The idea of him as a gunslinger is patently ridiculous. But, it must have been an image dear to his heart, his own private childhood fantasy. And now he gets to act it out! On behalf of a President who likes talking loud and waving a big stick! As if the whole country — nay, the whole world — could be reduced to black and white! Or, if you prefer, white and white!

It’s a ridiculous performance.

Some weeks ago, Brown hit back with a tweet of his own:

Thanks for the shout-out, @realDonaldTrump. But bridges are still better than walls. And California remains the 6th largest economy in the world and the most prosperous state in America. #Facts

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Why Is This Happening To Us? Conservatives Call the Parkland Survivors “Hitler Youth”

Here is one explanation, which self found in a back issue of The New Yorker.

It was the lead essay in Talk of the Town: The New Yorker, 28 August 2017

“The Divider”

. . .  speeding toward yet another airport last November (2016), Obama seemed like a weary man who harbored a burning seed of apprehension. “We’ve seen this coming,” he said. “Donald Trump is not an outlier; he is a culmination, a logical conclusion of the rhetoric and tactics of the Republican Party for the past ten, fifteen, twenty years . . . “

For half a century, in fact, the leaders of the GOP have fanned the lingering embers of racial resentment in the United States. Through shrewd political calculation and rhetoric, from Richard Nixon’s “Southern strategy” to the latest charges of voter fraud in majority African-American districts, doing so has paid off at the ballot box.

And make no mistake, Trump is planning to do it again in 2020 — he’s planning to call upon that mass base of Americans who turned Charlottesville, Virginia into such a spectacle. And the only ones, it seems, who can stop him are . . . Parkland Survivors.

As I’ve told anyone who will listen: The students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High are people who had eight years with Obama. They know what a good president is. Thank God.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Favorite Place 5: Courthouse Square, Redwood City, California

Saturday, 24 March 2018

During the March For Our Lives

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The Blue Wave is coming.

Vote this November.

Stay tuned.

Sentence of the Day: Sian Cain, The Guardian

As an antidote to the extremely respectful commentary The Economist has been according POTUS (which drives self crazy, she just might discontinue her subscription), here is The Guardian which really knows how to do satire:

The nicest thing anyone can say about US Vice President Mike Pence — a man who vigorously opposed marriage inequality and looks like an Action Man assembled from Play-Doh and cold cuts — is that he knows how to name a pet.

— from Vice-President Mike Pence disappears down the rabbit hole, by The Guardian’s Sian Cain, 20 March 2018

Russia in the Waning Days of the Romanov Dynasty, 1906: Doomed

The Romanovs, 1613 – 1918, p. 530:

As the pogromchiki were killing 3,000 Jews from Vilna to Kishinev, two junior bureaucrats — Alexander Dubrovin and a rabble-rousing pogromist from Kishinev, Vladimir Purishkevich — formed a Union of Russian People, a movement of noblemen, intellectuals, shopkeepers and thugs who rallied support for “Tsar, faith and fatherland” around extreme nationalism and anti-semitic violence. The Union was the political wing of rightist vigilantes, the Black Hundreds, who fought revolutionaries and slaughtered Jews. Fascists fourteen years before the word was invented in Italy, the Black Hundreds marched in the tsar’s name but despised his compromises with parliamentarians.

Clearly, dear blog readers, the seeds of the Holocaust were planted long, long before World War II. The Romanovs were anti-Semites. Tsar Nicholas II’s “table-talk was peppered with anti-Jewish banter, typical of many a European aristocrat of this era — telling his mother how a courtier ‘amused us very much with funny Jewish stories — wonderfully good at imitating Jews and even his face suddenly looks Jewish!’ . . .  To him, a newspaper was a place where ‘some Jew or other sits . . .  making it his business to stir up passions of peoples against each other.’ ”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Sentence of the Day: THE ROMANOVS, 1613 – 1918, p. 467

He may have been a primordial throwback, but now (Emperor) Alexander had to operate in the world of public opinion, stock markets and newspapers in which he found some of his most unlikely advisers, none more so than Prince Vladimir Meshchersky, known by enemies at the court as “Prince of Sodom” and among the intelligentsia as “Prince Full-Stop” after he demanded all reform must come to that punctuation mark.


Dear blog readers, self can’t even.

Stay tuned.

#amreading: p. 266, THE ROMANOVS, 1613-1918

  • Everything is turned upside down at once . . . It is impossible for me to enumerate all the madness . . .  in a country that had become a plaything for the insane . . .  the army wastes all its time on the parade ground . . .  Power is unlimited and exercised perversely. You can judge how I am suffering.

— Alexander, grandson of Catherine the Great, about his own father, Paul, Emperor of Russia from 1796 (when Catherine died) to 1801

Florida: Where Lightning Strikes

Self is still digging deep through her pile of stuff, languishing since 2015. Which is why the article about Trump that she reads this morning, in The New York Review of Books (September 2015) is so scary. Because it sounds exactly like right now. And Trump wasn’t even President yet.

If nothing else, the article, written by Michael Tomasky, shows that Trump did not suddenly sneak up on America like a Stealth bomber. His base was quietly building (like the ratings for his show, The Apprentice) for at least a decade.

An excerpt:

Is Trump not the logical culmination of where Republican politics have been headed for many years now, going back to the Clinton and Bush presidencies, but especially during the presidency of Barack Obama? Two qualities more than any others have driven conservatism in our time. The first is cultural and racial resentment, felt by the mostly older and very white population the GOP increasingly represents — resentment against a fast-changing, more openly sexual America, as well as against dark-skinned immigrants, and White House occupants, and gay people and political correctness and the “moocher class” and all the rest. The second is what we might call spectacle — the unrelenting push toward a rhetorical style ever more gladiatorial and ever more outraged (and outrageous), driven initially by talk-radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh and now reproduced on websites, podcasts, and Twitter feeds too numerous to mention.

Self thinks that the reason the GOP and conservative pundits lash out at the survivors of the Florida School Shooting is: here are a group of kids challenging them on their turf: the media.

Dinesh D’Souza (who, when last self checked, was an adult, with a bestselling book yet) ridicules the Florida students who broke into tears when Congress refused to revive a bill that would ban assault rifles. Because D’Souza himself is a master manipulator of the media, but it took him decades to get there. And suddenly, almost overnight, the kids are everywhere: on the web, in our news, on television.

Which proves self’s point: In the last few decades, the GOP has become nothing more than a party of shills. Their power is the media, not the implementation of actual policy issues.

And in a party like that, of course the biggest shill of all would win his party’s nomination.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

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