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The Wrongologist

Geopolitics, Power and Political Economy

Monday Wake Up Call – December 18, 2017

The Daily Escape:

Sunrise, Island Park ID, November 2017

The WSJ’s Weekend Edition had an article about the cultural and economic split between small towns and big towns in America. In “One Nation, Divisible”, Michael Phillips follows a young woman, Caity Cronkhite, who left rural Indiana for San Francisco. Caity recalls:

All growing up, if we were too smart or too successful or too anything, there was always someone ready to say, ‘Don’t be so proud of yourself’…

Caity was smart. She bucked the system to graduate from high school a year early, but the school would not let her be named valedictorian, because she had skipped a grade. She left town, got a scholarship to Carnegie-Mellon, graduated and became a technical writer for SalesForce.com.

Still, she remained attached to her home town. She wrote an online 5000+ word essay about Kingman IN. It brought thousands of hateful responses from Kingman, including:

So keep your elitists’ rear ends in your little office cubicles while we handle the tough, physical things that keep you and your perfect friends alive…

That anger about town vs. city brought to mind Merle Haggard’s 1969 tune, “Okie from Muskogee”. Haggard and the band were on a bus outside of Muskogee when a band member joked that the citizens in Muskogee probably didn’t smoke marijuana. In about 20 minutes, Haggard had the song. The band played it the next night at the Fort Bragg, NC officers club. And after the verse:

We don’t burn our draft cards down on Main Street,
We like living right and being free.

The officers stood and gave huge applause. They had to play the song four times to get offstage. The song later went to number one on the Billboard country music charts. At the time, Reuters reported: (emphasis by Wrongo)

Haggard has tapped, perhaps for the first time in popular music, into a vast reservoir of resentment against the long-haired young and their underground society.

So in 2017, a young woman worries about being accepted in her small home town after finding success while living in San Francisco. While 48 years earlier, “Okie” was telling small town America to have pride, and that it was ok to be for the Vietnam War, and against student protesters.

These two events made Wrongo think about the roots of today’s fractious sociopolitical divide in America.

People in small towns have to fit in, the place is too small to look different, or subscribe to ideas that are outside the main stream in their town’s culture. If they do, the local hierarchy has ways of enforcing conformance with the dominant ethos. People insist that you should fit in. They think that everybody should fit in, and they don’t understand why there are places in America that don’t operate that way.

Haggard’s hit brought small-town America self-identification and pride. And it galvanized the “us” vs. “them” attitudes in small-town USA that were opposed to the growing counter-culture of the 1960’s, and the student opposition to the Vietnam War.

Americans always gather into relatively small groups. People in cities have misconceptions about small town life, just like rural Americans have them about cities.

The nature of today’s politics, and the nature of group identity in America pushes us into sparring camps. You can call it your “tribe”, your “people”, or your “team”, but groups in small-town America have a well-defined sense of identity. It is different from the identity politics in big-city America, where there are hundreds of examples of people of many different groups. Large metropolitan areas are much more diverse, but they are also knitted together by a transcendent identity with place.

Ms. Cronkhite’s parents planned on selling the farm and retiring, but Caity wasn’t ready to let it all go:

If I ever have kids, they’re never going to understand this huge part of me…I want there to be a reminder of where I come from and who I am.

Her parents sold her about 10 acres for the per-acre price her father had paid in 1972. Caity plans to build a small house. She said:

I’m still a rural American.

But she doesn’t plan on moving back just now. Fewer and fewer of us are rural Americans, and while those societies shrink, no dominant identity is replacing it.

But the sometimes-toxic sociology of small groups, or Merle Haggard’s sentiments, can’t be allowed to destroy what America has in common. In fact, appropriation of culture and patriotism by one tribe is a threat to our common good. Thus when Haggard says:

We still wave Old Glory down at the courthouse,

He’s misappropriating, since every town has always flown Old Glory at the courthouse, and wouldn’t dream of taking it down.

Time to wake up America! Fight the appropriation of our symbols and ideals. To help you wake up, here is Merle Haggard with “Okie from Muskogee”:

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Is Greg Schiano a Pedophile Enabler Because He Worked With a Pedophile?

The Daily Escape:

Red- Palouse Falls State Park, photo by EarthPorn

Wrongo isn’t sure how many of you know who Greg Schiano is. He’s currently the defensive coordinator for the Ohio State football team. He was head coach at Rutgers, and a head coach in the NFL at Tampa Bay. Early in his career, Schiano was an assistant coach at Penn State.

We are talking about Schiano because he applied for the head coach position at the University of Tennessee. The two parties decided they liked each other, and reached a written memorandum of understanding, followed by a contract which apparently, Schiano signed.

Then, a few hours later, Tennessee reneged on hiring Schiano.

Shortly after the intended hiring became public, anyone with a stake in Tennessee football was slinging poo at Schiano. Why? A group raised the issue that Schiano’s time at Penn State overlapped with a Penn State coach, the convicted pedophile Jerry Sandusky. The sum of the Schiano character assassination was this: Greg Schiano worked at Penn State. Someone told someone else that Schiano may, or did know what was going on with Sandusky.

It’s true that Schiano coached at Penn State. He has not been named in any lawsuit. No charges have been filed against him. No witnesses have come forward with any evidence direct or circumstantial, that he knew anything about Sandusky’s acts. The “evidence” of Schiano’s wrongdoing is a third-hand, ten-year old hearsay (one sentence) in a deposition. That’s what triggered the outrage by Tennessee fans.

There were protests on campus. There were statements criticizing Schiano’s hiring from a boatload of Tennessee politicians, including four of the five candidates for governor. It appears that the University and its Athletic Director, John Currie, capitulated to public demand by implying his new hire enabled child rape.

If that wasn’t enough, the White House press secretary weighed in:

Guess who’s the new head football coach at the University of Tennessee. Yup. The guy who covered for Jerry Sandusky. #GregSchiano

The Trump administration takes a position on a football coaching job based on unsubstantiated hearsay, while it openly supports Roy Moore for the US Senate despite reams of potentially credible allegations. Roy Moore says he didn’t do it, and that’s plenty for Trump. But Schiano is guilty as charged based on uninvestigated third hand hallway comments.

Let’s remember that Greg Schiano is not guilty of anything. Rumors are not facts unless proven. If somebody has something that proves that Schiano knew about Sandusky, let’s see it, and then let’s run him out of town.

Wrongo doesn’t believe that the people of Tennessee are outraged about what Schiano might have witnessed a quarter-century ago as a young assistant coach. They were furious because they didn’t think he was “worthy” of a Tennessee football job that used to be prestigious a decade ago. With Schiano’s middling 68-67 record as a head coach at Rutgers, and his failed two-year tenure as head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, they wanted someone better. And they found a way to torpedo Schiano’s deal.

If Schiano had been a hot-shot coach headed into the upcoming college football playoffs, would the Tennessee fans be up in arms? Highly doubtful.

The real story here is the power of the internet. Baseless charges make their way around the world, the White House has a hot take, fans protest, and outraged state pols demand answers. And then the guy falls like a sack of rocks.

What school is going to hire Schiano after seeing the reaction in Knoxville?

Whoever Tennessee hires next won’t be significantly more or less talented at coaching than Schiano. It’s important that the country sees how loud and ugly it can be when the fan base runs with a false narrative.

This is a teachable moment for our politics as well as for our universities. We need to do a much better job teaching critical thinking, or the mob will always find an audience for guilt by association.

Let’s hope this is something the next school, the next coach, and the next fan base (or voter base) remembers.

 

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Gen. Kelly Likes Robert E. Lee

The Daily Escape:

Fall at Lac Bleu, Switzerland – photo by Denis Balibouse

Wrongo’s internet was down for a few days, and a lottta things happened before he could get back on the air. We will take up trucks killing tourists on NYC bike paths, and Mueller’s indictments at some point, but today, Wrongo again finds that he just can’t quit John Kelly.

You know the headline, Kelly, in an interview with Laura Ingraham, expressed his view that the Civil War was the tragic result of “the lack of an ability to compromise,” fought between “men and women of good faith on both sides,” including the “honorable” Robert E. Lee.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended Kelly’s comments:

All of our leaders have flaws…Washington, Jefferson, JFK, Roosevelt, Kennedy– that doesn’t diminish their contributions to our country, and it certainly can’t erase them from our history. And General Kelly was simply making the point that just because history isn’t perfect, doesn’t mean that it’s not our history.

Did you notice that she mentions JFK and Kennedy with one name in between? Or maybe she means John F. Kelly.

Was the leader she referred to Robert E. Lee? We can only hope that some reporter asked Sanders what Lee’s actual contributions to the country were.

Of course, he owned the land that is now Arlington National Cemetery, but that wasn’t a voluntary contribution, it was seized. Or perhaps she means the battle at Gettysburg, where he provided generations of military officers with lessons on the importance of managing your subordinates, and not charging fortified positions across a mile of open ground.

Or maybe it is that he lent his name to the 1969 Dodge Charger used in the TV show, “The Dukes of Hazzard”.

The next day, Sanders said that Kelly’s comment that the Civil War was caused by a failure to compromise came from Ken Burn’s “The Civil War” documentary. But let’s not go down the rat hole of whether Burns’ documentary is an accurate telling of Civil War history.

Kelly’s claim that the War was caused by a failure of both sides to compromise is totally undercut by the fact that most of the Confederate states seceded before Lincoln was even inaugurated. The election of Lincoln triggered the conflict; notwithstanding that he had not yet put the question of ending slavery on the table.

John Kelly was 40 years old when the Burns film came out. You would expect that he would have known more about the Civil War than you get from a video, even a multi-episode show. After all, he has a BA from the University of Massachusetts, and an MA from Georgetown. Most educated people do know better.

Maybe the White House will prove Kelly’s view of the Civil War with facts, you know, Hannity-style facts, not fake news out of some liberal text book that’s not approved in Texas.

Denis McDonough was Obama’s Chief of Staff for four years, the entire second term. Does anyone know what his opinion is about civil war monuments? About Robert E. Lee? About how a certain female Congresscritter from Florida is an empty barrel?

Kelly has become the empty barrel he complained about two weeks ago.

Let’s close with “Autumn in New York” by Billie Holiday. After the truck terror attack, we learned that six of the eight victims were foreign tourists. And despite the attack, it is still a wonderful time to be in NYC:

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The CIA Can’t Learn From Its Own History

The Daily Escape:

Fall in Chatham NH – photo by Robert F. Bukaty

From the NYT: (emphasis by the Wrongologist)

The CIA is expanding its covert operations in Afghanistan, sending small teams of highly experienced officers and contractors alongside Afghan forces to hunt and kill Taliban militants across the country, according to two senior American officials, the latest sign of the agency’s increasingly integral role in President Trump’s counterterrorism strategy.

This new effort will be led by small units known as counterterrorism pursuit teams. They are managed by CIA officers from the agency’s Special Activities Division and operatives from the National Directorate of Security, Afghanistan’s intelligence arm. It will include elite American troops from the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). But most of the troops will be current members of the Afghan militia.

The NYT quotes Ken Stiles, a former CIA counterterrorism officer:

The American people don’t mind if there are CIA teams waging a covert war there…They mind if there’s 50,000 U.S. troops there.

Well, Mr. Stiles, Wrongo minds quite a bit. And if Americans really don’t mind a covert war over there, then we shouldn’t wonder “why they hate us.”

But as with most Trump administration initiatives, it gets worse: The NYT article says that contractors will have a significant role. In August, the former head of Blackwater, Eric Prince, lobbied the Trump administration for a contractor-led effort to defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan. This might be his payday for that marketing effort. Let’s assume until we learn otherwise, that Prince and his contractors will be involved in the CIA’s new campaign.

It is possible that this campaign will be a boon for the Taliban. It will certainly kill a few of them, but it will also alienate quite a few Afghans. Think about it: Most Taliban fighters are locals. Killing them creates new local recruits for the insurgency.

The worst part of this is that we’ve been here before. During the Vietnam War, we stood up something called Operation Phoenix:

[Phoenix] was designed to identify and “neutralize” (via infiltration, capture, counter-terrorism, interrogation, and assassination) the infrastructure of the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam (NLF or Viet Cong). The CIA described it as “a set of programs that sought to attack and destroy the political infrastructure of the Viet Cong”.

There were two components of the program. Provincial Reconnaissance Units (PRUs) and regional interrogation centers. PRUs would kill or capture suspected NLF members, as well as civilians who were thought to have information on NLF activities. Many of those captured were then taken to interrogation centers where some were allegedly tortured in an attempt to gain intelligence on VC activities in the area.

Phoenix operated from 1965 to 1972. By 1972, Phoenix had neutralized 81,740 suspected NLF operatives, informants and supporters, of whom between 26,000 and 41,000 were killed. We had the body count, but the passive support for the Viet Cong in South Vietnam increased because of Phoenix.

And of course, we went on to win lose the war.

So, we are starting down a road that we shouldn’t, because we haven’t learned from our past experience. Perhaps CIA Director Mike Pompeo could open a book, and learn something about the CIA’s history before he jumps at the latest shiny idea.

For years, the primary job of the CIA in Afghanistan has been training the local Afghan militias. It also used members of the militias to develop informant networks and collect intelligence. This means the CIA has few independent sources of intelligence in the country. It will have to depend on the people it has trained in the militias, each of which are local, and have their own agendas. Success in this campaign depends on reliable intelligence. Who in this or that hamlet is a member of the Taliban? Without trusted local sources, the militia, whether under CIA or contractor command, will likely use torture to get answers they need.

It is predictable that this campaign will end up with big body counts just like Operation Phoenix, and without having made Afghanistan secure for its people.

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Monday Wake Up Call – Weaponizing Patriotism Edition

The Daily Escape:

Fish Drying in Shenzhen, China earlier in September. Shenzhen is home to Foxconn, Apple’s iPhone manufacturer. It is about 30 min. from Hong Kong.

Our national nightmare; The Apprentice: POTUS Edition, has the Donald regularly turning up the outrageousness. It is frightening how easily many of us are manipulated by his antics, because we are intellectually lazy. Wrongo was happy to see Nicolle Wallace coin a new term for what Trump is pedaling:

Weaponized Patriotism. Isn’t Trump’s effort to equate standing for the National Anthem to “patriotism”, weaponizing patriotism? If you follow Trump’s ideas, all that really matters are the symbols. This was Trump on Saturday:

Wouldn’t you like to see one of these [NFL] owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he’s fired. He’s fired!

He then went on to state that any player so exercising free speech should be “fired” and unemployable at their career job. Trump added that he believes fans should walk out if players don’t stand for the anthem:

If you see it, even if it’s one player…Leave the stadium.

Phony patriotism is a strong argument to use against a population that is ignorant of civics.

The refusal to stand for the playing of the National Anthem causes Trump and his fellow travelers, (who all profess to understand, and believe in the Constitution and Bill of Rights), to claim that the NFL players’ expression is disrespectful and intolerable.

What are we saying when we say that someone “disrespected the flag,” or “disrespected the country,” when they choose to not stand for the National Anthem? The flag is a piece of cloth that represents many complex things, including the Constitution.

If we let Trump deny this expression of resistance, we are creating a situation where all of our rights are just privileges that can be denied on a whim. Trump can’t be allowed to say, “I believe in the 1st Amendment, but not for people who kneel during the National Anthem”.

If Trump’s reaction to Colin Kaepernick is unchallenged, Trump gains the position of defining which actions are “respectful” for Americans. But, it is a very American thing to resist, or rebel against what we perceive to be the symbols of the government’s abuses of power.

It may be disrespectful, but it must be tolerated.

This is today’s America: People allow their perceptions to control them. And who controls perceptions controls the people. Many Americans equate the flag and the National Anthem with patriotism. And according to Trump, patriotism means you support the government, and you support our foreign wars. Anything less is “un-American”.

But one can love his country while hating his government, or some of its actions. This phony form of Trumpist patriotism is a weapon against independent thinking. It’s a weapon that keeps people ignorant of the underlying problems that make our government ineffective.

Time to wake up America! We are a free people, and most of us want to stay that way. We need to look for the story behind the story when someone equates not standing for the Anthem with “unpatriotic”. Perhaps it is just Trump’s politics. Perhaps he is trying to deflect people from thinking about his latest struggling effort to repeal and replace Obamacare, or how Trump is bungling the effort to blunt North Korea’s aggression.

To help us wake up, here is the late Liam Clancy with “The Patriot Game”. The song is about the death of a young man during a campaign by the Irish Republican Army during the 1950s. He bought the story:

The words were written by Dominic Behan, brother of Brendan Behan. Dominic was angry that the Clancy Brothers cleaned up the lyrics by removing this verse that referred to head of government, Eamon de Valera:

This Ireland of mine has for long been half free,
Six counties are under John Bull’s tyranny.
And still de Valera is greatly to blame
For shirking his part in the patriot game.

Bob Dylan stole the song, turning it into “With God on Our Side”, and Dominic Behan wanted to fight Dylan physically for the theft.

Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.

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Republicans Trust the News Media Far Less Than Democrats

The Daily Escape:

Rovinji, Croatia – photo by brotherside. Rovinji is a tourist resort and fishing port, situated on the Adriatic Sea. It is bilingual, with both Italian and Croatian spoken here.

Gallup reports that:

Just over a third of Americans (37%) in 2017 say news organizations generally get the facts straight, unchanged from the last time Gallup asked this question in 2003. But…major partisan shifts in beliefs on this topic have emerged over the past 14 years. Republicans’ trust in the media’s accuracy has fallen considerably, while Democrats’ opinions on the matter have swung in the opposite direction.

49% of college graduates say the news media generally get the facts right, compared with 36% of Americans who attended college, but didn’t graduate. 28% of those with no more than a high school education agree that the media get it right.

But education makes little difference in Republicans’ beliefs about the news media’s credibility. Among Republicans with at least a college degree, only 18% say the media gets the facts straight, similar to the 12% of Republicans without a college degree who say the same.

Republican’s trust in the American news media has fallen steadily from 2003 to today. The numbers are striking: Republicans’ trust plunged from 35% in 2003 to 14%, while Democrats’ trust in America’s news media increased from 42% in 2003, to 62% today.

Gallup first polled on media trust in 1998. Back then, more than half of both Republicans (52%) and Democrats (53%) believed news organizations generally got the facts straight. Here is a Gallup graph:

Both groups’ belief in the accuracy of the media fell dramatically in 2000, possibly due to bad election-night projections of the 2000 presidential election. Some networks first declared Al Gore, and later, George W. Bush the winner, before ending the night with no official winner. When surveyed a month later In December 2000, just 23% of Republicans said news organizations generally get the facts straight, a 29-percentage-point decline in the two years after the 1998 survey.

The next big Republican shift downward began in 2003. What happened in 2003? The reporting about WMD (weapons of mass destruction) in Iraq on GW Bush’s watch. The media either lied, or suppressed the findings by IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) that there were no WMD in Iraq. That lie helped move us into an unjustified war that had catastrophic results for both the Middle East and for America.

The paradox is that the Republicans’ distrust grew after that, while Democrats’ views improved. Perhaps the Republicans were angry that the press eventually reported the truth. Perhaps Democrats forgave the press after they finally reported the truth, turning their anger to George W. Bush for lying us into war.

And our Monday discussion of Sen. Lindsay Graham’s false meme that “Obama failed to unite us” can be linked to this as well. The Republicans lack of trust in the news media has led to their willingness to dismiss facts as “fake news”, enabling things like Graham’s lie.

That willingness empowers distortion of the truth as a “go-to” strategy in the GOP’s politics of persuasion.

Given the Gallup findings, Trump’s frequent attacks on the media may have been as much his taking advantage of GOP attitudes, as his creating a poor Republican view of the press by his use of the “fake news” meme.

On the Democratic side, their increased confidence in newspapers may be a counter-reaction to Trump’s criticisms. Gallup found in June that the percentage of Democrats who have “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in newspapers nearly doubled from 2016, rising from 28% to 46%.

The overall finding that a solid majority of the country believes major news organizations routinely produce false information may have disastrous consequences for our democracy. It is at least related to Americans’ diminished trust in US institutions, and our rising cynicism about the American political system, and our elected officials.

Democracy is impossible unless both our politicians and the press are honest.

Today’s music highlights another GOP lie, Jefferson Beauregard Session’s whopper that immigrants take jobs away from Americans. during his speech terminating DACA.

Here is “Immigrants (We Get the Job Done)” originally from the musical, “Hamilton”. This isn’t the version you hear in the musical. This version is from the “Hamilton Mixtec”, performed by K’naan, featuring Residente, Riz MC & Snow Tha Product:

Takeaway Lyric:

It’s really astonishing that in a country founded by immigrants,

“Immigrant” has somehow become a bad word.

 

Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.

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The Worst Person in the World (this week): Lindsay Graham

The Daily Escape:

Lighthouse in Husavik, Iceland – photo by Milonade. Husavik is the center of whale watching in Iceland.

Lindsay Graham has never been a favorite of Wrongo’s. Often, he gets the same treatment here as does John McCain, and for similar reasons. But the 62-year old who replaced Strom Thurmond in the Senate in 2003 hit a new low in an interview on BBC World Service radio show, Hard Talk. Graham was with McCain attending an economic conference in Lake Como, Italy, when he sat down with the BBC’s Steven Sacker for an interview. (transcription and emphasis by Wrongo)

At 4:08 into the interview, Sacker asks Graham:

Isn’t that the point that he (Trump) right now looks like a president who is polarizing the US in a way that we have not seen before?

Graham:

I would say that the country has been polarized for quite a while, just like your country. Brexit is a result of disenchantment with globalization. There would be no Donald Trump if President Obama had brought us together.

There, right there. Its Obama’s fault that Trump won the Republican nomination for president, because Obama didn’t bring us together. Graham implies that Republicans are uniters, but the Kenyan socialist just wouldn’t help them out with that.

Wait – the Republican Party didn’t want Trump, but Obama nominated him?

To say Obama created Trump is a poor projection. The GOP created Trump. Trump’s political success is the logical result of decades of efforts by the GOP to discredit government, and more recently, by their acceptance of virulent, and in some cases, racially tinged opposition to Obama.

The GOP wanted Obama to fail. Time’s Michael Grunwald reported on the Republican plot to obstruct Obama even before he even took office. He uncovered secret meetings led by then-House GOP whip Eric Cantor, and then-Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell in 2009 where they laid out their “no-honeymoon” strategy of all-out resistance to the President-elect.

Remember that was a time of national economic emergency.

The Republican’s active resistance also tried to demonize Obama as a “king”, or a kind of Hitler. They fought against most of his policies. They shut down the government. Policy differences are understandable, and expected. What was unexpected and unacceptable was the unified GOP effort to make Obama fail as president.

The big Republican move to elect an anti-immigrant nationalist was fueled by the Tea Party surge in 2010, which was also in opposition to Obama. And it isn’t just the Tea Party. Republicans have long-struggled with various anti-establishment, ultra-conservative insurgencies seeking to upend the party.

Trump wasn’t the first to tap into the anger of disaffected white voters. Pat Buchanan challenged Bush in the 1992 primaries and again in 1996, when he led a populist revolt he described as “peasants with pitchforks.” Buchanan ran on a platform similar to that of Trump: anti-free trade, tough on immigration and focused on the plight of the white working-class.

So, Republicans own Trump now and forever, despite what Sen. Graham wants people to think. Graham’s contention about Obama is irrelevant to today’s situation, where Trump has failed to even try to unite America on any issue. And specifically, he failed to call out the evil posed by fringe Nazi groups, or show us how a president should deal with a national disaster.

When will the lying stop?

Since this is the first column since Saturday, here is a pro-labor song from the Rolling Stones, “Salt of the Earth”, written by Mick Jagger & Keith Richards, the closing track on the 1968 album’ “Beggars Banquet”:

Sample lyrics:

Raise your glass to the hard working people
Lets drink to the uncounted heads
Lets think of the wavering millions
who need leaders but get gamblers instead

Spare a thought for the stay-at-home voter
His empty eyes gaze at strange beauty shows
And a parade of the gray suited grafters
A choice of cancer or polio

 

Spare a thought for the stay-at-home voter: They brought us Donald Trump.

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Trump Revealed Himself in Phoenix

The Daily Escape:

Luecantha by Philip Grausman, at Grounds for Sculpture, New Jersey – photo by Wrongo

Wrongo and Ms. Right have been away, including visiting the Grounds for Sculpture. While we were on the road, Der Trump spoke at a “Trump for President” rally in Phoenix, where he committed to pardoning former Sheriff Joe Arpaio. You remember Joe Arpaio, the guy that defied a court order to stop racially profiling Latinos, the guy who was found guilty of contempt of court when he wouldn’t stop the profiling? What would it mean to pardon Arpaio? It would once again show that Trump doesn’t respect judges, or the law.

He also promised to cause a government shutdown if Congress didn’t fund the cost of his border wall. Wasn’t Mexico supposed to be paying for that?

Most disturbing, Trump told his supporters that people are trying to take away “our culture”: (brackets by the Wrongologist)

They’re trying to take away our culture. They’re trying to take away our history. And our weak leaders do it overnight. These things [statues] have been here for 150 years, for 100 years. You go back to a university and it’s gone. Weak, weak people.

Whatever could Trump mean when he speaks about “our culture”? He’s aligned himself with America’s neo-Confederates. He wasn’t talking to the entire nation, he was talking to the Phoenix crowd and to his supporters around the country. If there was any doubt that Trump was staking a claim for neo-confederates and white nationalists, consider his conclusion:

We are Americans and the future belongs to us. The future belongs to all of you. This is our moment. This is our chance. This is our opportunity to recapture our dynasty like never before.

From Booman:

The “Americans” he is talking about are not all Americans, and what dynasty could he be referring to? It isn’t a Democratic or Republican dynasty. It’s an uninterrupted record of unquestioned white supremacy that was disrupted and can only now be “recaptured.”

Is this just a political stance, or does he truly believe what he says? Hard to know. What is unambiguous is that he’s now leading a neo-Confederate movement that sees white nationalists and white supremacists as “good American people”. What is now clear is that Trump is speaking only to the white Americans whose forebears founded this country.

Who should remake the country, you know, and make it great again? He’s talking to his base, which includes White Supremacists, White Nationalists, the militias, the Klan and the American Nazis. They are the ones he says should remake this country, not that it was all that great 150 years ago.

Think this is wrong? He’s tripled down on including these groups as part of his base since his gaffe at Charlottesville, so now we have to believe that he really means it.

From the New Yorker’s David Remnik: (parenthesis and brackets by the Wrongologist)

During his speech in Charlotte (before the election in November 2016)… [President]Obama warned that no one really changes in the Presidency; rather, the office “magnifies” who you already are. So if you “accept the support of Klan sympathizers before you’re President, or you’re kind of slow in disowning it, saying, ‘Well, I don’t know,’ then that’s how you’ll be as President.”

Somebody was smart enough to know what would happen if Trump was elected.

Trump is willing to leave identity groups like people of color, feminists, minority religions like the Jews, and the LGBTQ, to the Democrats. In TrumpWorld, they bring you the fake news. They brought you the trade agreements that took your jobs away. They let Mexicans and Muslims into your country.

In Phoenix, he called journalists “sick people.” He accused the news media of “trying to take away our history and our heritage”. He questioned the media’s patriotism:

I really think they don’t like our country…I really believe that. And I don’t believe they’re going to change..

Trump isn’t worried about his lies. Its the MSM who are liars, and their stories are all fake. When Trump delegitimizes the news and media organizations, it is every citizen’s duty to resist.

Control the media, control the people.

The last word goes to Booman:

So, like in the Civil War…and the Civil Rights Era, it’s time for Americans to do battle. This time, our own president is the enemy

You need help getting the truth out, and so does Wrongo. For inspiration, let’s listen to the Beatles song “Help!” from the album and film of the same name. “Help!” was number 1 on both the UK and US singles charts in late summer 1965. John Lennon always said that it should have been played at a slower tempo, so here is “Help!” covered by Deep Purple, live in Denmark in 1968:

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Monday Wake Up Call – Totality Edition

“Mama always told me not to look into the eyes of the sun
Whoa, but mama, that’s where the fun is” – Bruce Springsteen

The Daily Escape:

“Diamond Ring” portion of a total solar eclipse, 2009 − photo by Rick Fienberg

Welcome to totality Monday. We live in a time when few things are certain, but eclipses are highly predictable. Some think that a total eclipse is awe-inspiring, and possibly, life changing. Count Wrongo as a non-believer, despite the fact that this is the first total eclipse in the continental US for 99 years.

Wrong advice? Go outside, but despite Springsteen’s thinking, do not look directly at it, unless you have the correct protective glasses. Get the flavor, and watch it later online.

Over the weekend, country singer Charlie Daniels compared the removal of Confederate statues in the US to ISIS’ demolition of historical sites in Iraq and Syria:

That’s what ISIS is doing over in places…there were pieces of history that they didn’t like, they were taking them down…

Wrongo had a similar thought, but lands in a completely different place. Everyone was appalled when the Taliban blew up the world’s two largest standing Buddhas in Afghanistan in March, 2001, six months before 9/11. We were also appalled when ISIS  rampaged through Iraq’s Mosul Museum with pickaxes and sledgehammers, and again, when they destroyed the Temple of Baalshamin in Palmyra, Syria in May, 2015.

The Muslim radicals claim the destruction of ancient sites is a religious imperative. They have targeted ancient sites, graves and shrines belonging to other Muslim sects as well as those of non-Muslims to conform to their religious beliefs. Most Americans regardless of politics or party, denounced what the Taliban and ISIS did to these antiquities.

Today, Americans are angrily divided about the removal of Confederate monuments. Is Charlie Daniels correct? Are those who would take down the statues no better than ISIS?

This is a false equivalency. ISIS is an extremist movement. Americans who want to remove Confederate statues are morally opposed to slavery, and understand that their goal will only be accomplished lawfully. Many have ancestors who were slaves, and feel that statues celebrating the Confederacy are morally wrong.

This debate has been hijacked by today’s white supremacists, white nationalists and American Nazis who say they wish only to “defend” the appropriateness of Confederate monuments in the public square. Their view is promoted by the “both sides do it” talking points in the media, by Donald Trump, and by Charlie Daniels.

The Taliban and ISIS destroy religious monuments and statues either because they are not Islamic, or because they were not their particular flavor of Islam. The push behind removal of Confederate statues comes from a different place. They symbolize the Secession, and Slavery. Those who would remove Confederate statues see the Confederates as people who placed preservation of the unjust economic system of slavery above the very idea of our nation.

ISIS destroyed antiquities, while the vast majority of Confederate statues were placed by neo-confederates less than 100 years ago to celebrate the Confederacy, an insurrection that lasted just four years. One similarity that Charlie Daniels missed is that ISIS and the neo-confederates both try to manipulate reality, one by building, the other by destroying, monuments and statues.

One stark difference is that ISIS cuts people’s heads off, and eats their livers. That isn’t the modus operandi of Americans who want the Confederate statues removed.

Charlie Daniels, wake up. Just because an idea flits through your mind is no reason to spew.

To help you reflect on all of this, hear the great Carlos Santana in collaboration with the Isley Brothers. Together, they have just released the album “Power Of Peace”. The album covers peace-and-love-themed songs such as “Higher Ground“, “Gypsy Woman”, “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)”,What The World Needs Now is Love Sweet Love”, and others. Here are the Isleys and Santana with “Love, Peace and Happiness” originally by the Chambers Brothers:

 

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – August 20, 2017

Jon Stewart in a surprise appearance at Dave Chappelle’s show at Radio City Music Hall skewered white supremacists:

If you guys feel like you’re losing out, fucking work harder. I don’t know what to tell you. If you’re a white supremacist, if you think you’re the master race, how come we’re kicking your ass so easily? You’re the master race! How come you’re not winning everything? Why aren’t the Olympics dominated by you? You’re the master race. What do you have left? Golf and tennis, maybe, maybe. And even then, the first black people you came across, you’re like, ‘We can’t play this game anymore.’ Williams sisters, Tiger Woods. O.K.

Suppressing political violence is a matter of will. It requires that we rise above our tribal loyalties and defend the political system that is at the heart of America.

Trump is having trouble keeping members of his advisory councils:

Trump uses wrong finger:

Is the Confederate Flag about heritage? Absolutely:

The monuments are only part of the problem:

Bannon’s real job was easy to see:

The Trump Eclipse requires different glasses:

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