Wednesday, November 30, 2016

New Deal Art: "Cafeteria"

Above: "Cafeteria," a color lithograph by Jacob Kainen (1909-2001), created while he was in the WPA's Federal Art Project, 1936. Image courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Monday, November 28, 2016

New Deal Art: "Blue Monday"

Above: "Blue Monday," an oil panting by August Casciano (1910-1993), made while the artist was in the WPA's Federal Art Project, 1937. A description for the painting reads, in part: "The day's wash hangs on clotheslines outside both houses and the basement door of the house on the right is slightly ajar. Despite this evidence of human life, the houses look as though they could be deserted, creating a ghostly feeling that permeates the painting." Image courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

New Deal Artist Eugenie Gershoy and the "Ill-Fated Toreador"

Above: "Ill-Fated Toreador," a wood sculpture by Eugenie Gershoy (1901-1986), created while she was in the WPA's Federal Art Project, ca. 1935-1938. Image courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Above: Eugenie Gershoy with some of her sculptures, including the "Ill-Fated Toreador," at an art exhibit in New York City, 1938. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

Above: Gershoy at work in her New York City studio, 1940. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

In 1964, when Eugenie Gershoy was interviewed by Robert and Mary McChesney in San Francisco, for the Smithsonian Institution, the following exchange occurred:

Mary McChesney: Looking back on [the WPA] period, how do you feel about the government sponsorship of the arts in America?

Eugenie Gershoy: Oh, I think it was one of the most vital, vigorous, and remarkable experiences I have ever had, and I was fully joined in that feeling by everybody who worked on it. I suppose this has been said before, but it was a renaissance of the arts. I think some of the finest work that was done in the United States in that period was produced on the WPA, on the government-sponsored art projects. It was a tremendous thing!

Mary McChesney: Do you think this was true of yourself, that your own work was at a peak then?

Eugenie Gershoy: Oh, definitely! Definitely! I've never been so productive and so enthused and so stimulated by the group activity, too, and the feeling of working together. I think many people got a beginning in their own particular work on the art project, which they couldn't have done otherwise, you see. They didn't have the means; they didn't have the materials; they didn't have the impetus; they didn't have the projecting that stimulated everybody. All sorts of people. In particular, I remember Philip Guston, who had been in a very bad way, got his start on the WPA art project. And so many artists. I could name endless ones who had the opportunity to develop with that beginning. And have developed enormously since. It was a glorious period, really glorious.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

The Roosevelts Enjoy Thanksgiving

Above: The description for this 1935 photograph reads, "Eleanor Roosevelt watches as the President operates on the big turkey, setting in motion the annual Thanksgiving feast at Warm Springs, Georgia." Photo courtesy of the FDR Presidential Library and Museum.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Reverse New Deal: In Michigan, the state makes children drink lead and says they have no right to literacy

Above: The description for this photograph reads, "The Education Division of the WPA of LA [Louisiana]. [Its] drive against illiteracy... has taught 75,181 illiterates out of a total of 219,000 to read and write and reduced illiteracy in the state about 32%. A recent campaign to stamp out illiteracy in three LA parishes, Lafayette, Tensas and Terrebonne resulted in 3,918 negroes and 624 white persons attending classes in the parishes." Photo courtesy of the National Archives and the New Deal Network.

After years of its children being exposed to lead-contaminated water, the residents of Michigan heard another bit of bad news from their Republican-controlled state government: Their children have no right to literacy ("State of Michigan says literacy is not a fundamental right," Detroit Free Press, November 21, 2016). And, as if that were not bad enough, many schools in Detroit are "rodent-infested... crumbling, damaged by water... pockmarked with black mold... [and have] unrepaired bullet holes, exposed wires, and boarded-up windows" ("Detroit public schools hit with lawsuit," CNN, January 28, 2016).

Lead-poisoned children? No right to literacy? Crumbling & dangerous schools? Yep, that's Republicanism 101 for you - starve the government of revenue, hand out tax breaks to the wealthy (who, in turn, funnel some of that money back into Republican political campaigns), and to hell with the people. But, amazingly, millions of Americans support these policies, as evidenced by their voting habits (or lack thereof). Americans are infamous for voting on social issues, to the complete detriment of their physical and financial health.

During the New Deal, massive investments were made in schools, children, and clean drinking water. Our parents and grandparents reaped the benefits of such investments. Today, however, more and more younger Americans are being victimized by Republican neglect. Republicans and their super-wealthy donors have created a net of misinformation & propaganda (think Fox News) and cast it over the middle-class & poor. And it's working extremely well. For example, tens of millions of people voted for Donald Trump, thinking he understood their problems. Yes, they thought that a multi-millionaire, born into great wealth, understood the problems of the working class. Wow. (Of course, since the Democratic Establishment rigged their primaries against Bernie Sanders, we were left with "Wall Street," i.e., "Hillary Clinton," as the alternative candidate - and that's a hard sell, especially after Wall Street tanked the economy through greed & fraud.) 

Above: A WPA exhibit from 1940, highlighting the New Deal's commitment to improving the quality of life for children. My, oh my, how things have changed since then. Photo courtesy of the National Archives.

During his Second Bill of Rights speech, President Franklin Roosevelt said: "We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all regardless of station, race, or creed. Among these are... the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health... The right to a good education." It was a noble sentiment, but FDR was ultimately wrong. The poisoned children of Michigan, and the state's claim that there is no right to literacy (facts and sentiments that are prevalent throughout the nation) shows us that we have not accepted the right to good health, or the right to a good education, but have, instead, thoroughly rejected them. 

Shameful, and extremely harmful to children... but true.

Monday, November 21, 2016

The New Deal helped defeat fascism abroad. But the betrayal of the New Deal established it here.


Above: In this video clip, Irish legislator Aodhan O'Riordain speaks on the election of Donald Trump, America's turn towards fascism, and the weak response from Ireland. He says, "Can the government not understand what's happening? We're at an ugly international crossroads... it has echoes from the 1930s. And America, the most powerful country in the world, has just elected a fascist." Youtube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VOTpuF0TMzk.

The Axis powers of World War II--Germany, Italy, and Japan--were each controlled by fascist governments (those government are sometimes labeled differently, e.g., "Nazism" or "Statism," according to certain policy variations). The rulers in each of these countries sought to subjugate other nations through military action, and also sought to instill hyper-nationalistic & racial pride in their citizenry while simultaneously squashing any dissent. To disagree with the rulers meant imprisonment, torture, or death.

The New Deal Helped Prevent A Fascist Empire 

The New Deal played an integral role in defeating the Axis powers, and thus fascism. Consider:

The Civilian Conservation Corps taught leadership and work skills to millions of young men. General Mark Clark, commander of the Allied Fifth Army during World War II, said: "To my way of thinking the CCC...became a potent factor in enabling us to win WW-II...though we did not realize it at the time, we were training Non-Commissioned Officers." Even more importantly, the CCC showed these young men that their president, and their country, cared about them; and when someone feels good about their country, they're more likely to fight hard for it.

The Bonneville Power Administration, created by New Deal policymakers in 1937, provided power to many defense industries, and thereby helped build, among other things, thousands of fighter planes. After the war was won, President Truman said: "Without Grand Coulee and Bonneville dams it would have been almost impossible to win this war."

Additionally, the National Youth Administration trained many Rosie the Riveters; the WPA improved hundreds of military bases and airfields; the TVA supplied raw materials for America's war machine; and the Public Works Administration provided funds for submarines, cruisers, destroyers, gun boats, coast guard vessels, and aircraft carriers, including the U.S.S. Enterprise (CV-6), "the most decorated U.S. ship of World War II."  

Today, the political right hopes you know none of this - because it doesn't promote their foolish narrative that we the people are the problem (i.e., government) and millionaires & billionaires are the solution. But the fact remains that the New Deal was one of the main reasons we won World War II.

Above: WPA poster, 1941, courtesy of the Library of Congress.

The New Deal Was The Foundation For An Economic Boom

New Deal policies remained firmly in place for several decades, making capitalism less harsh and allowing the middle-class to grow like never before or since. Under New Deal policies, and with New Deal infrastructure, America became an economic powerhouse. In fact, New Deal policies worked so well that even Republicans embraced them. In the 1956 Republican Party Platform, Republicans promoted their achievements in increasing the minimum wage, expanding Social Security, enhancing unemployment insurance, strengthening unions, and more.

Unfortunately, a Republican voter today, soaked in the propaganda & misinformation of Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, and libertarian billionaires, would not even recognize his/her 1950s predecessor. But that predecessor understood economics better (specifically, the concept of market failure) - and that's why he/she enjoyed a better quality of life, and more opportunity, than what middle and lower-income Republicans enjoy today.

The New Deal Is Disassembled, And The Seeds Of Fascism Are Planted

Beginning in the 1980s, and carrying on through today, Trickle-Down Republicans and Neoliberal Democrats have disassembled the New Deal: Glass-Steagall was repealed; the banking industry was coddled; taxes were cut on the super-wealthy (even as they shipped jobs overseas); unions have been attacked; infrastructure has been left to rot; the idea of a new CCC or WPA laughed at; and more. In so doing, the Trickle-Down Republicans and the Neoliberal Democrats created fertile ground for creeping fascism. As Thomas Frank and other political commentators have highlighted, the Republicans have served the top 1%, the Democrats have served the top 10%, and the bottom 90% have been told to pick themselves up by their bootstraps and get used to perpetual re-training and lower wages. Is it any wonder that Trump won, with his populist (albeit fake) speeches?

In Donald Trump, and his crazy cabinet and administration selections, we are seeing huge steps taken towards a fascist state. Indeed, white nationalist organizations are considering Trump administration picks to be early Christmas gifts; and over the weekend, in the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, DC, a leader of a prominent alt-right, white nationalist organization told an audience: "America was, until this last generation, a white country designed for ourselves and our posterity. It is our creation, it is our inheritance, and it belongs to us... To be white is to be a creator, an explorer, a conqueror." According to the New York Times: "As he finished, several audience members had their arms outstretched in a Nazi salute. When Mr. Spencer, or perhaps another person standing near him at the front of the room--it was not clear who--shouted, 'Heil the people! Heil victory,' the room shouted it back... Now the movement’s leaders hope to have, if not a seat at the table, at least the ear of the Trump White House."

And they certainly will, since Donald Trump has selected Steve Bannon, a symbolic leader of the alt-right movement, to be his top adviser. No one should be fooled as to the direction America is heading. With right-wing extremists in control of the White House, Congress, and (soon) the Supreme Court, as well as the majority of states, America is no longer a bulwark against fascism - it is fascism. With war hawks being selected for the Trump Administration; and interment camps, torture, and ethnic & religious registries being discussed in positive ways; and racial acts of violence & intimidation on the rise (and Trump and his supporters refusing to denounce it in strong terms or speeches); and signs that dissent will not be tolerated (see my blog post from yesterday), we are seeing the fundamental components of fascism put in place.

Fascism: The End Result Of A Misinformed, Duped Public

White nationalists, and many Republican voters, are being played by the rich - in a game as old as humanity itself. Throughout all of history, the rich have gobbled up all the resources for themselves, thrown some crumbs to the masses, and laughed as the "commoners" fought & blamed each other, divided along racial lines. Today, the white nationalists blame low-income blacks and illegal immigrants, while super-wealthy and predominately white CEOs and investors buy politicians for the permission to ship good jobs overseas - or perhaps bring in foreign workers to fill such jobs here (sometimes even forcing American workers to train their replacements). And the super-wealthy know that they can get away with it. They know that right-wing rhetoric will always target, for example, powerless illegal immigrants, but will remain forgiving, or even oblivious to the wealthy white business owners who employ them. The rhetoric is always, "Build the wall!", and rarely, "Find out whose hiring them!"

In any event, isn't it interesting how the New Deal helped defeat fascism abroad, but the betrayal of the New Deal established fascism here? And we can blame Donald Trump if we want to, but the real blame lies with Trickle-Down Republicans, Neoliberal Democrats, and the holy "JOB CREATORS" (who have hoarded all the profits and socialized all the costs).

*****

"Let there be no doubt. We stand in the face of danger. Danger to our nation, to our values, to our liberties, to all that our nation stands for. We have done this to ourselves. We underestimated the risk.... 

Having turned our lives, our safety, and our children’s futures over to the whims of a thoughtless, reckless, ignorant, and immoral huckster, we must stand guard and fight back against peril... We should not underestimate the threat. 

We must remember that at different times throughout our history we have owned slaves, denied women the vote, segregated children because of their race, burned crosses, lynched innocent black men, interned almost 100,000 American citizens because of their Japanese ancestry, imprisoned thousands of Americans because they criticized the first World War, blacklisted tens of thousands of our fellow citizens because of their political beliefs during the age of McCarthy, and driven millions of our fellow Americans into the closet and treated them as strange freaks of nature because we ignorantly despised their sexual orientation. We are capable of great ugliness and hatred. 

Let us not kid ourselves."

--Geoffrey Stone, professor of law, University of Chicago, "The Struggle Ahead," Huffington Post, November 20, 2016

Sunday, November 20, 2016

How much longer will we have the right to protest? A federal judge told new citizens that they must like Trump or leave the country.


Above: In this video clip, we see top Nazi judge Roland Freisler viciously scolding a man for speaking out against Nazi atrocities. Is this where we're heading? Towards a judicial branch that holds political ideology above American values? In the coming years, Donald Trump and his right-wing extremists will be shaping the federal judiciary to their liking. Youtube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D3qsImhAswo.  

This past Friday, November 18, a federal judge told a group of new citizens, "I can assure you that whether you voted for [Trump] or you did not vote for him, if you are a citizen of the United States, he is your president. He will be your president and if you do not like that, you need to go to another country" ("Judge Tells New Citizens They Can Leave The U.S. If They Don’t Like Donald Trump," Huffington Post, 11-19-2016).

This reminds me of a statement by top Nazi judge Roland Freisler, made when trying members of the White Rose (a small group of young Germans who spoke out against the Nazis): "The days when every man can be allowed to profess his own political beliefs are past. For us there is but one standard: the National Socialist one. Against this we measure each man!" (Inge Scholl, The White Rose, Wesleyan University Press, 1983 edition, p. 127.)

According to a local news station, the federal judge said he intended the comments about Trump to be "unifying and respectful to the office of the president." Interestingly, Roland Freisler said disrespect was not allowed in Nazi Germany: "Whoever, as teacher or student, vilifies the Fuhrer in this way no longer belongs to us. Whoever slanders National Socialism in this way no longer has a place among us." (The members of the White Rose received various punishments, including imprisonment, torture, and beheading.)

Above: A Japanese-American family at Manzanar Internment Camp, California, 1943. President Roosevelt's biggest mistake in office was signing executive order 9066, forcing Japanese Americans to leave the west coast and live in government-run camps during World War II. Roosevelt suspended the order in 1944, but many Japanese-Americans had trouble returning to their previous lives. A prominent Trump supporter recently used the internment of Japanese-Americans as justification for a Muslim registry. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress

  Above: Not all of Roosevelt's allies agreed with the internment camps. Harold Ickes, Secretary of the Interior and prominent New Dealer, said the camps were "both stupid and cruel" and told the president that they were "turning thousands of well-meaning and loyal Japanese into angry prisoners" (T.H. Watkins, Righteous Pilgrim: The Life and Times of Harold Ickes, 1874-1952, 1990, pp. 792-793).

Above: Many Japanese-Americans fought bravely during World War II. Here, we see the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the "most decorated unit of its size in U.S. military history. In less than two years of combat, the unit earned more than 18,000 awards, including 9,486 Purple Hearts, 4,000 Bronze Stars and 21 Medals of Honor" ("Unlikely World War II Soldiers Awarded Nation's Highest Honor," The History Channel, November 3, 2011). The service of Japanese-Americans during World War II, and the fact that Muslim Americans have played an instrumental role in America's fight against terrorism, shows that the best policy is not to scapegoat minority groups, but to love them as fellow citizens and ask them for help with national concerns. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

There have been other troubling signs that dissent will not be accepted by the Trump Administration. For example, David Clarke, the sheriff of Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, who appears to be under consideration for chief of Homeland Security, suggested that the National Guard should haven been used to stop people who were protesting Trump's election (although, earlier, he said it was "pitch forks and torches time" if Trump wasn't elected). A state legislator in Washington, also a Trump supporter, recently introduced legislation to increase the penalties for certain acts of protest, calling such acts "economic terrorism." Tony Schwartz, who co-authored Trump's book Art of the Deal, said a Trump presidency could lead to martial law. And Jeremy Stahl, senior editor for Slate, points out that Trump's pick to head the CIA, Tea Party politician Mike Pompeo, "is a major backer of an increased surveillance state, pushing for Congress to roll back reforms limiting the mass collection of metadata... On top of that, Pompeo called for the death penalty for Edward Snowden..." (so much for the Tea Party's ideology of "limited government").

Donald Trump himself once said, "One of the things you should do in terms of success: If somebody hits you, you've got to hit 'em back five times harder than they ever thought possible. You've got to get even. Get even. And the reason, the reason you do, is so important…The reason you do, you have to do it, because if they do that to you, you have to leave a telltale sign that they just can't take advantage of you. It's not so much for the person, which does make you feel good, to be honest with you, I've done it many times. But other people watch and you know they say, 'Well, let's leave Trump alone'" ("Donald Trump Is Completely Obsessed With Revenge," Mother Jones, October 19, 2016).

Above: Striking workers at Woolworth department store, 1937. The importance of protesting against bad government policy, striking against harsh working conditions, and rebelling against injustice dates all the way back to the colonies' rebellion against the authoritarian rule of King George. During the New Deal, policymakers created the Wagner Act, which protected the rights of unions. Donald Trump and his fellow right-wing bullies, however, don't seem to appreciate the importance of protest and dissent. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.

We are seeing all the signs of a coming fascism, where the right to free speech is limited or ended, the right to protest is limited or ended, freedom of the press is curtailed, and the freedom to exercise one's religion is restricted (think about the proposed Muslim registry). All this despite our First Amendment, which states:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

In other words, what seems to be on the horizon is completely unconstitutional and completely un-American.

Yet, if the Trump Administration creates a Muslim registry; or calls the National Guard on those who protest his administration; or creates internment camps for Muslims or political opponents; or creates a larger mass surveillance state, thus putting a chilling effect on the First Amendment, who will stop him? The right-wing Congress? The right-wing Supreme Court? The state legislatures, 42 of which leaned further to the right this year? Federal judges, like the one who told new citizens to leave if they don't like Trump? The military? (history shows us that soldiers often do as they're told, whether it's right or not). Law enforcement? Like the law enforcement agencies that are shooting American Indians with rubber bullets, and gleefully dousing them with pepper spray, to protect a corporation in North Dakota that is (along with the Army Corps of Engineers) bending environmental impact statement rules to fast-track the construction of a dangerous pipeline?

Above: Though he made some serious blunders, President Roosevelt also orchestrated the allied victory over the Axis powers, thereby saving millions of Jews from certain death, and millions of other people from harsh Imperial Japanese rule. For her part, Eleanor Roosevelt helped draft the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights after the war. Article 12 reads, "No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks." Now, think about a Muslim registry, and also the surveillance state that we've created - which the Trump administration wants to double-down on. Is this the world over 400,000 Americans gave their lives for in World War II? Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.

An authoritarian administration is currently being assembled--an administration that is being praised by various white supremacist groups, including the KKK and neo-Nazis--and even more frightening than that, we have lost critical components of our system of checks and balances. And, as if all this were not bad enough, the political right is one state legislature away from calling a constitutional convention, where they can begin the process of re-writing the constitution to accommodate their extremist ideology - where they can make Christianity the official state-sponsored religion (and then persecute all non-Christians, as theocracies always do); where they can do away with the words "general welfare" (so they can give even more tax breaks to their billionaire masters); where they can get rid of prohibitions against intrusive searches & seizures (recall Mike Pompeo's preference for more government surveillance); where they can replace the "right" to bear arms with the requirement to bear arms (gun manufacturer's would love this - more gun sales!); and where they can get rid of that pesky 13th Amendment (recall all the times that a Republican has been caught saying that African Americans were better off when they were slaves).    

If you are not concerned, you should be. If you are asleep, you need to wake up. If you are more interested in the color of underwear that Kim Kardashian is wearing today, than you are in politics & government, you need to snap yourself out of it before you lose your fundamental rights, before you are not allowed to say, "I don't like Trump."


Above: In this video clip, a scene from the movie Sophie Scholl: The Final Days (2005), we see Scholl being executed for speaking out against the Nazis. The video is in German, but you don't need to know German to understand the timeless struggle of good vs. evil depicted in this scene. Scholl, along with her brother Hans and their colleagues, wrote of the Nazi regime, the war, and the Holocaust: "We are not in a position to draw up a final judgment about the meaning of our history. But if this catastrophe can be used to further the public welfare, it will be only by virtue of the fact that we are cleansed by suffering; that we yearn for the light in the midst of deepest night, summon our strength, and finally help in shaking off the yoke which weighs on our world" (from the second leaflet of the White Rose). Will we be as brave as Scholl in the coming years? Youtube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h_epbnn1xvk.

"What Mr. Trump proposes, in this case targeting all Muslims, is a horror movie that we Jews are quite familiar with."

--David Harris, Executive Director, American Jewish Committee, Christian Science Monitor, December 6, 2015

"The Constitution and the government exist in large measure to protect against the excesses of democracies. This is particularly salient when, in an atmosphere of fear or mistrust, one group is singled out and vilified, as Japanese Americans were during World War II and as Muslim Americans are today. How terrible it is to contemplate, once again, that the government itself might once more be the very instrument of terror and division. That cannot happen again. We cannot allow it."

--Actor George Takei, "They interred my family. Don't let them do it to Muslims." Washington Post, November 18, 2016.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Progressives are wasting precious time trying to transform the Democratic Party. Instead, they should loose themselves from the sinking ship and create their own party.

Above: It was a good run while it lasted; but neoliberals have thoroughly destroyed the party of Roosevelt and the New Deal; and they've also delivered us into the hands of right-wing extremists. It's time to start anew. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.

At some point, progressives need to wake up and understand that the Democratic Party is lost. It has been taken over by centrists, financial industry CEOs, wealthy investors, "third way democrats," neoliberals, and others. It is now a front group for Corporate America. No, it is worse than that - it is a safety net for Corporate America. Corporate America has calculated that if Republicans aren't in control of government, thus allowing them to run amok, then bought-and-paid-for-Democrats aren't a bad second option. As Cenk Uygar of The Young Turks recently wrote: "As long as we have private financing of our elections, the system will always pick strong Republicans and cowering Democrats so that the financial interests of the donors are served."

However, I disagree with Uygar's ultimate conclusion: "The only answer is to break that system entirely, completely revamp the Democratic Party..." This sentiment has, of course, been echoed by many political commentators. But it's not the only answer, nor is it the best answer. The best answer is for progressives to leave the sinking ship behind. We must accept the sad reality that neoliberals, and their Wall Street backers, have hijacked and destroyed the party of Roosevelt. As Zach Carter of the Huffington Post correctly observed, "New Democrats have been battling New Dealers for 45 years."

We must begin anew and create a true progressive party, perhaps calling it the "New Deal Party." You see, we cannot fight right-wing extremists (who are desperately working towards a Christofascist Empire), and also fight Wall Street puppets within the Democratic Party, and then also fight for the working class and poor. It's simply too much. We are being distracted from the most important battles by insincere (and well-funded) elements within the Democratic Party who are sabotaging our every progressive move. It's like playing a baseball game with your center fielder asleep, your shortstop taking bribes from the other team, and your catcher too busy writing autographs, for cash, to be bothered with catching pitches.

I believe that every moment we spend trying to transform the Democratic Party is a waste of precious time. We have four years to get Trump and his pack of right-wing ghouls out of our government. Let's not waste those years trying to convince Democrats to be Democrats. Let's spend those years, instead, building a new, Bernie Sanders-style movement & political party. Millennials will be with us, Independents will be with us, disaffected Democrats will be with us, minorities will be with us, and every person who believes in economic & social justice for all will be with us. Heck, after four years of Trump, I think a lot of Republicans will be with us too.

Are you listening Green Party? Are you listening Progressive Caucus? Are you listening MoveOn.org? Are you listening Progressive Democrats of America? Are you listening Bernie & Elizabeth? Let's unite and get on with it.

Robert Reich, former U.S. Secretary of Labor, recently wrote of the election results: 

"You might think this overwhelming drubbing would cause the Democratic party to reorganize itself into a very different party from the one it’s become – which is essentially a giant fundraising machine, too often reflecting the goals and values of the moneyed interests that make up the bulk of its funding. 

Don’t bet on it.

For one thing, many vested interests don’t want the Democratic party to change. Most of the money it raises ends up in the pockets of political consultants, pollsters, strategists, lawyers, advertising consultants and advertisers themselves, many of whom have become rich off the current arrangement. They naturally want to keep it."

Friday, November 18, 2016

Meet the Republican Flim-Flam Man who wants to slice, dice, and privatize your Social Security and Medicare. And then, meet the Republicans who EXPANDED Social Security.

Flim-Flam: "a trick or deception, especially a swindle or confidence game involving skillful persuasion or clever manipulation of the victim." (Dictionary.com)


Above: Meet Republican congressman, and flim-flam man extraordinaire, Paul Ryan (R-Wis). Humorously, (or, sadly) Ryan is frequently referred to as a "policy wonk" by mainstream media reporters who've never taken a public policy course in their lives. These reporters sit, in wide-eyed amazement, when Ryan says words like "entitlement" and "fiscal restraint." And "wow! he writes reports too! With big numbers in them! Oh, and those dreamy eyes! Golly, what a policy wonk that guy is!" No, the truth is, Paul Ryan is a fraud and a hypocrite; and the mainstream media journalists who are impressed by him are brainless drones, programmed to deliver info-tainment to the masses for their corporate slime-ball masters. Photo by Jonathan Ernst, Reuters, used here for educational, non-commercial purposes.



Above: In this video clip, we see a television ad that hilariously, but truthfully, shows what Paul Ryan wants to do to seniors. He wants to cut and/or privatize their Social Security and Medicare - which will drive up their bills, reduce their medical services, reduce their purchasing power, and causing early death (see, e.g., "Three Ways Trump, GOP May Cut Social Security, Medicare," Forbes, November 16, 2016). 

Why does Ryan want to slice, dice, and privatize these popular programs, thereby hurting millions of older Americans? Because cutting these programs ensures that super-wealthy Americans (who contribute to Republican political campaigns) won't have to pay higher taxes; and privatizing the programs gives more money to his Wall Street criminal friends to feed their gambling addiction.

You see, it just wasn't enough for Wall Street CEOs when neoliberals whittled away at, and then ultimately got rid of Glass-Steagall. No no no, they now want even more money to throw on their stock market roulette table. And Paul Ryan is thrilled to oblige. But here's the funny thing: "After Ryan’s father passed away [when Ryan was 16] he saved Social Security survivor benefits to pay for attending Miami University" (Politico, August 11, 2012). In other words, Paul Ryan got his Social Security benefits, but he sure as heck is going to make sure that you don't get yours. That's how Republicans roll: "Gimme gimme gimme... but you don't get any! You taker!!" 

Amazingly, Ryan's two-faced policy positions don't seem to bother his base - they just keep pulling the lever for him, putting him in high political office, again and again, apparently oblivious to the brazen hypocrisy of the man. Youtube link for above video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OGnE83A1Z4U.



Above: In this amazing video clip, we see what a phony person Paul Ryan is. Cenk Uygar of The Young Turks shows how Lyin' Ryan used a closed soup kitchen for a photo op. Ryan even cleans dishes that are already clean, to make it seem like he's really helping the poor. It's sooooo painful to watch; how can a person be this fraudulent? But, again, a lot of Wisconsin voters love the guy, they can't get enough of him. But why? Why in God's name would you vote for someone like this, especially when he's gunning for your Social Security and Medicare? It defies logic. It defies rational thought. Youtube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zqI9Lf1_94.


Above: In this video clip (with NSFW language), we see the late George Carlin, prophetically warning us about Corporate America, their political puppets (like Paul Ryan), their quest to privatize Social Security for their own profit, and the "good, honest, hardworking people... [who] continue to elect these rich c*&^suckers who don't give a f&*k about them." Though crude, it is also one of the truest and best few minutes of George Carlin's career. Unfortunately, millions of Americans haven't heeded his warning, and so they keep electing extremely wealthy people who seek to screw them over at every opportunity. Youtube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tt8_0MHo7-0.


Above: Republicans weren't always as crazy and ruthless as they are today. For example, this is a Social Security notice and calculator, from the 1950s. Near the top, it says: "Increased benefits, under the new Social Security Program, enacted by the 83rd Congress and signed by President Eisenhower." Amazingly, the 83rd Congress, which sat in 1953 and 1954, was Republican-controlled - both the House and the Senate. President Eisenhower was also a Republican. 

In the 1956 Republican Party Platform, they boasted, "The record of performance of the Republican Administration on behalf of our working men and women goes still further. The Federal minimum wage has been raised for more than 2 million workers. Social Security has been extended to an additional 10 million workers and the benefits raised for 6 1/2 million. The protection of unemployment insurance has been brought to 4 million additional workers... Furthermore, the process of free collective bargaining has been strengthened..." 

So, you may ask, what happened to the Republican Party? Answer: Billionaires happened. Reagan happened. Rush Limbaugh happened. Bill O'Reilly happened. Grover Norquist happened. Sarah Palin happened. Paul Ryan happened. And, sadly, misinformed and gullible voters happened. And we are about to pay a dear, dear price for it... because the Republican flim-flam man, Paul Ryan, is coming for your grandparent's health insurance and retirement money.

Above: I'm not sure who originally made this graphic (it's been around for a few years), but it's a great representation of Paul Ryan and his lies. Image used here for educational, non-commercial purposes.

Paul Ryan and other Republican con artists say that Social Security and Medicare are on the verge of collapse. This is bullshit (forgive me, I'm in a George Carlin mood), and it's falsity has been proven over and over again. For example, Social Security is perfectly fine, well into the 2030s. And, most importantly, if the cap for Social Security contributions were removed, then the needed funds would flow in and ensure a sound retirement system for working class Americans, forever (currently, you don't have to pay Social Security taxes on earnings over $118,500 - oh, how the billionaires must be laughing).

So, considering that so many super-wealthy Americans have shipped so many middle-class jobs overseas, to sate their greed, it seems only fair to me that they should pay higher taxes to help the people they've put in financial distress. Call me old-fashioned, but it does seem fair. But, back to my main point, why is Paul Ryan lying about these things? Because it's the fundamental component of his scam - he wants to convince millions of people that disaster is at their doorstep, then, once he's got them where he wants them, he'll spring the trap and tell them he has the answer, "We have to cut it and privatize it, immediately!"

Ironically, many conservatives point to the 1950s as a period of great economic prosperity. But they don't understand that New Deal policies were firmly in place at that time, and that those policies were backed by Republicans (unions, high taxes on the wealthy, expansion of Social Security, Glass-Steagall, FDIC, etc.); and so they continue voting for politicians like Paul Ryan, who are as equally oblivious to history as they are, and who never stop pushing for trickle-down economics and the repeal of New Deal policies - the very policies that made the 1950s prosperous! And so, by voting for these political & economic scam artists, they're creating their own financial nooses. And politicians like Paul Ryan are eagerly waiting (salivating actually) to kick their chairs out from underneath them, once those nooses are fully tightened.

Sadly, all of the above is what happens when an electorate doesn't know its history and, more importantly, doesn't care to know.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

The difference between a corporate tool and a New Deal fighter


Above: In this two-minute video, we see American Indians working in WPA programs. At 1:00, note the letters "WPA" in the bead work. In addition to work programs like the WPA and CCC, which employed many thousands of American Indians, New Deal policymakers created the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 (IRA), which extended credit; encouraged a return to native self-government; protected their land (and, in some cases, added to it); and enhanced educational opportunities. Some people (usually, free market fanatics) will tell you that the IRA wasn't good for Indians. Don't believe any of it. In 2011, before a congressional committee, the president of the National Congress of American Indians said, in support of the IRA: "Kill the Indian and save the man was the slogan of that [earlier, pre-New Deal] era. The Federal Government did everything it could to disband our tribes, break up our families and suppress our culture. Over 90 million acres of tribal land held under treaties were taken, more than two-thirds of the tribal land base... In 1934, Congress rejected allotment and assimilation and passed the IRA." ("Allotments" were cleverly-disguised land grabs, intended to transfer land from Indian ownership to white ownership - the New Deal put an end to it.). The above film clip is part a longer film created by the U.S. Department of the Interior, and is provided courtesy of the National Archives.

The Corporate Tool

President Obama recently said of Donald Trump, who ran the most hateful campaign in modern American history, and who will seek to undo most or all of Obama's legacy, "we are now all rooting for his success."

But when it comes to the American Indians in North Dakota, who are being pepper-sprayed, shot with rubber bullets, and attacked by security dogs, by a rapacious fossil fuel & banking industry--an industry that doesn't give a crap about clean air, clean water, or the heritage of our American Indian brothers and sisters--he has shown no leadership, no compassion, no moral guidance.

The New Deal Fighter

Now, let's look at New Dealer Bernie Sanders.

In response to Trump's victory, and the racist, xenophobic, and hyper-plutocratic administration he's constructing, Sanders said: "Our job is to mobilize and educate and to fight back at every instance" ("Bernie Sanders urges millions to ‘mobilize and fight back’ against Trump’s presidency," CNBC, November 15, 2016).

With respect to the Dakota Access Pipeline, Sanders recently showed up at the White House, to do President Obama's job. Sanders said: "For hundreds of years, the Native American people in our country, the first Americans, have been lied to, have been cheated, and their sovereign rights have been denied them... we are demanding that sovereign rights of the Native American people be honored and respected."

And so this is the difference between a corporate-bought tool, Obama, and a candidate who truly loves the people, Sanders. We could have the latter, of course, if we stopped hiding under our beds and whining, "We can't pick the more popular candidate... we can't elect the candidate who's polling better against all Republicans... because they might call him a 'socialist'... boo hoo hoo, we must go with the candidate Wall Street tells us to."

Let's get rid of corporate tools, and let's install New Deal fighters

Cenk Uygar of The Young Turks, who has provided far better, and more accurate political analysis during this election season than our corporate-controlled mainstream media, recently wrote: "There is a common stereotype that Democrats are by their nature weak and feckless. There was nothing weak about FDR. There was nothing weak about the New Deal... There was a time when liberals roared like lions.... As long as we have private financing of our elections, the system will always pick strong Republicans and cowering Democrats so that the financial interests of the donors are served. The only answer is to break that system entirely, completely revamp the Democratic Party and for God’s sake, get the money out of politics!" ("Tear It Down: Why Every Person at the DNC Should Be Fired," Common Dreams, November 16, 2016)

Amen.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

15 reasons why pseudo-progressive Barack Obama is the worst president in U.S. history


Above: In this short clip, I've strung together a few videos to show the amazing difference between "Campaign Obama" and "In-Office Obama." His two-faced approach to the presidency, I believe, played a large role in Donald Trump's victory against Hillary Clinton. Many Independent and Democratic voters are just plain sick & tired of being played for suckers, i.e., being told, by Democratic Party Wall Street puppets, "I'm fighting for the working class, Hallelujah!!" while raking in corporate cash and pushing free trade job outsourcing deals.

During Barack Obama's presidency, the anti-New Deal Democratic Establishment has lost 1,000 political offices across the nation, lost the White House, lost the Congress, and lost the Supreme Court. These losses have delivered us into what Noam Chomsky calls the "most dangerous organization in world history" (the modern, extremist Republican Party - which seeks to disassemble government and replace it with an unregulated, billionaire-run utopia, and which will scapegoat the most powerless people in America, e.g., low-income workers, the unemployed, and minorities).

So dangerous is this organization Chomsky speaks of, that even right-wing extremist Glenn Beck has said that Donald Trump's top adviser, Steve Bannon, "has a clear tie to white nationalists... He’s a guy that wants to tear this system down and wants to replace it with a new system... He is a frightening man - no no no, a terrifying man." Now, you know, if Glenn Beck is afraid of someone on the right, we all have reason to be afraid (the chairman of the American Nazi Party expressed approval of Trump's choice of Bannon as a top adviser, and told CNN "Perhaps the Donald IS for real")  

But if the loss of 1,000 political offices, and the loss of all three branches of government (all under his watch), are not enough to convince you that President Obama is the worst president in U.S. history, let me give you 15 other reasons:

1. Pushing the TPP

Throughout this entire election, the American people--Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and others--expressed anger about trade deals that never seem to help American workers, and that only seem to help the fat cats of Wall Street. Despite overwhelming opposition to the TPP--opposition that even forced Hillary Clinton to pretend she was against it--President Obama kept pushing it and pushing it. Trump, on the other hand, was consistent in his opposition (whether or not that opposition continues remains to be seen). How obtuse does one have to be to keep pushing for something that is so detrimental to your favored replacement?

2. Siding with fraudulent creditors over innocent borrowers

Obama and his Department of Education officials were extremely reluctant to fight for student borrowers (see, e.g., "Obama Administration Misled Public On Student Loan Fraud," Huffington Post, March 1, 2016). How many borrowers were left with a bad taste in their mouths, after Obama and his corporate hacks brushed them aside?

3. Offering to cut Social Security and Medicare

As part of a "grand bargain" with Republicans (the people who hated him), anti-New Deal Obama offered to cut Social Security and Medicare, which would have financially harmed the tens of millions of people who voted for him. What kind of a treacherous act is that? (See "Obama Offers to Cut Social Security, Medicare and Popular Programs (Again)," Common Dreams, March 4, 2013.

4. No WPA for the unemployed

In 2011, at the height of the recession (i.e., when it was worst for the working class), U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) introduced legislation to create a new WPA, to put the unemployed back to work and fix our crumbling infrastructure. Anti-New Deal Obama offered no support (and neither did most of the anti-New Deal Democratic Establishment) and the bill died a lonely death in committee. Jared Bernstein, Vice President Joe Biden's economic adviser, later informed us that "There will be no WPA-type programs in our near future. There was no appetite for them in the Obama admin in the midst of the worst recession since the Great Depression and there's a lot less now. The reasons for that are interesting and I'll speak to them another day. But it ain't happening." (As far as I know, Bernstein never followed up with an explanation.)

5. No help for American Indians being attacked by the corporate-controlled police

President Obama (and Hillary Clinton) offered no leadership or moral clarity with regard to the American Indians being attacked by the corporate-controlled police in the ongoing Dakota Access Pipeline controversy. We know that the financial industry supports ramming the pipeline through areas important to American Indians, and we also know that Obama and Clinton are in bed with the financial industry (a kinky, greedy little menage a trois). The Democratic Establishment thinks we can't put two and two together... but we can, and we have.


Above: The two hosts of Let The Madness Begin--who provide very humorous, honest, and insightful political analysis--discuss Obama's "zero calorie statement" on the Dakota Access Pipe Line controversy. Youtube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m8EEb40QxXc

6. No public option

This, of course, is legendary. When much of the public was screaming for a public option during health care reform, Obama sided with Corporate America and failed to fight hard for it... even though he spoke positively about it on the campaign trail (see "Obama tries to distance himself from the public option," Politico, December 22, 2009). Interestingly, when Obama began campaigning for Hillary he "backed" the public option again, perhaps hoping we had forgotten his earlier betrayal. If this doesn't show you how anti-New Deal Obama and the anti-New Deal Democratic Establishment play us for suckers, nothing will.

7. Failure to use the bully pulpit

With respect to the public option, and other issues important to progressives, many people said, "He can't get it through Congress!!" What these people fail to realize, and what Obama failed to realize during his entire presidency, is the power of the bully pulpit. Obama should have used the bully pulpit to constantly pound Republicans into the ground, to explain to the public how Republicans only cared about rich people. But instead of using the bully pulpit, Obama constantly tried to "reach across the aisle," constantly tried to be "the adult in the room," constantly brought already watered-down ideas to the negotiation table... and then caved some more. Well, with the loss of 1,000 political offices, and the White House, and the Congress, and the Supreme Court, we see just how well that strategy worked out.

8. Obama: A Republican in Progressive clothes

In 2014, former top Reagan adviser Bruce Bartlett wrote: "Obama has governed as a moderate conservative - essentially as what used to be called a liberal Republican before all such people disappeared from the GOP." Bartlett agreed with Dr. Cornell West, when West said, "[Obama] posed as a progressive and turned out to be counterfeit" ("Obama is a Republican," The American Conservative, October 21, 2014).

9. Trying to sell the TVA

Anti-New Deal Obama persistently tried to sell off the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), a New Deal legacy that still provides affordable power to millions of Americans. And though the TVA could definitely use some updating, the idea of selling it off is so incredibly stupid that even Republicans were aghast ("Republicans blast Obama proposal to sell Tennessee Valley Authority," Fox News, April 16, 2013).

Above: Norris Dam, 1942, a hydroelectric power plant in Tennessee, is part of the TVA, and has helped provide affordable power to many Americans for three-quarters of a century. So, why did Obama want to sell it off? Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.

10. Normalizing white collar crime

The Obama Administration refused to hold white collar criminals and financial fraudsters fully accountable, instead choosing to settle for fines - fines that were frequently less than the profit derived from the wrongdoing. And it's no secret why. Many of the criminals and fraudsters are undoubtedly big donors to the Democratic Establishment. It was a financial protection racket at the highest levels of government. Once again, the Democratic Establishment thought we were suckers, and that we'd never put two and two together. They were wrong. (See, "Are banks too big to jail: PBS Frontline's stunning report shows how the Obama administration undermined the rule of law," Salon, January 23, 2013).

11. Endorsing Debbie Wasserman Schultz

All throughout the Democratic Primaries, Sanders supporters were screaming "bloody murder" over the tactics that DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz was using to suppress the Sanders campaign. She limited the number of debates, and scheduled them on odd days and hours when people might be distracted by, let's say, a prominent sporting event. And, back in February, she famously said of the corrupt "super-delegate" system: "Unpledged delegates exist really to make sure that party leaders and elected officials don’t have to be in a position where they are running against grassroots activists" (in other words, she's telling us, the Establishment shouldn't have to deal with rabble like Sanders and his supporters). And so what was Obama's response? Well, in June, he fully endorsed Wasserman Schultz during her re-election campaign for Congress: "Obama says he has Wasserman's Schultz's back" (Politico, June 3, 2016).

By the way, shorty after Obama's endorsement, Wasserman Schultz resigned from the DNC in disgrace, for her role in rigging the primaries against Sanders. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev) said: "Bernie really had a movement out there, and it wasn’t right to treat him that way. I knew--everybody knew--that this was not a fair deal." But Wasserman Schultz's disgrace did not last long. Hillary Clinton--laughing and spitting in the face of Sanders' supporters--quickly hired Wasserman Schultz to be the "honorary chair" of her campaign ("Wasserman Schultz immediately joins Clinton campaign after resignation," Washington Times, July 24, 2016 - the Washington Times is, of course, a right-wing mouthpiece but, hey, when you're right, you're right). Yes, Hillary Clinton rewarded Wasserman Schultz's fine work in rigging the primaries by bringing her aboard the Clinton Train (but, truth be told, Wasserman Schultz was already on the train - only now she could openly sit in Business Class).

12. The Bundys

When the Bundys--and their heavily armed comrades--took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Obama continued his let's-ignore-crimes-by-white-people stance, and let them run amok for weeks and weeks. Things got so bad, that Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) said of the Obama Administration: "They haven’t done anything. It’s just like Obama and Wall Street. They don’t seem to want to take on any law breakers whether they’re white collar criminals on Wall Street or radical extremists in the West."

13. Obama's Drinking-the-Water-In-Flint Stunt

After thousands of children drank lead-contaminated water in Flint, Michigan, and incurred various levels of brain damage, President Obama went to the city, drank some of the water (filtered of course) and said everything would ultimately be a-okay. Instead of aggressively using the bully pulpit, to explain how right-wing principles like "starving the beast" and "tax-breaks-for-the-wealthy" were depriving communities across the country of the resources they needed to update their infrastructure, Obama said, "Generally, I haven’t been doing stunts, but here you go," before gulping down some of the filtered crap water.

14. Watered-down economic stimulus

Most people don't realize that the largest single portion of President Obama's stimulus package was tax cuts. Ask any conservative, and they'll tell you that the stimulus was just wild spending by liberals (they think this, partly because they're misinformed by Fox News and Rush Limbaugh, and party because Obama never effectively used the bully pulpit to explain it). In any event, why did Obama support such a weak stimulus? Many progressive economists--including Paul Krugman (who later morphed into a Hillary shill)--told Obama that the stimulus needed to be much bigger in terms of spending. But, as would be his standard operating procedure, he dismissed progressives, plodded on stupidly with a watered-down package (to pacify right-wing extremists); and so a weak economic recovery ensued, just as progressive economists had predicted. This weak economic recovery played a large role in Donald Trump's ascendancy to the White House.

15. Appointing Wall Street cronies to important cabinet & administrative positions

Like the public option, this is legendary. It would take volumes to explore this thoroughly, but consider U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren's take on SEC Chair Mary Jo White, who was a powerful pro-Wall Street attorney before Obama picked her to police Wall Street (???). In a letter to President Obama asking him to demote White, Warren wrote:

"I do not make this request lightly. I have tried both publicly and privately to persuade Chair White to direct the agency's resources toward pressing matters of compelling interest to investors and the public, and toward completing those rules that Congress has required it to implement. But after years of fruitless efforts, it is clear that Chair White is set on her course. The only way to return the SEC to its intended purpose is to change its leadership... For years, the Chair of the SEC, Mary Jo White, has refused to develop a political spending disclosure rule despite her clear authority to do so, and despite unprecedented and overwhelming investor and public support for such a rule. This brazen conduct is merely the most recent and prominent example of Chair White undermining your Administration's priorities and ignoring the SEC's core mission of investor protection."

The only thing I disagree with Warren, is her statement that White was "undermining [the Obama] Administration's priorities." Let's be frank, reining in political spending by the super-wealthy was never an Obama Administration priority - indeed, they wanted more billionaire money for the Democratic Party (I suspect Warren knows this too, but she had to base her letter on Obama's supposed priorities).


Above: In this video clip, we see people throwing money at Hillary Clinton's motorcade, as she's escorted by law enforcement to actor George Clooney's house to raise big money. Hillary's refusal to see Americans' anger over elitism, and her reliance on the lesser-of-two-evils approach, cost her the election. Youtube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uRUQFfy5Qgg.

Obama's failures, and Clinton's doubling down on many of those failures, surrendered the White House, the Congress, and the Supreme Court to Donald Trump and his pack of right-wing thugs

Though he'll never admit it, President Obama's weak, ineffectual, neoliberal, corporate-coddling approach to the presidency--which has been the Democratic Establishment's strategy too--has put us all in grave danger. So many people were turned off by the two-faced approach of the anti-New Deal president, anti-New Deal Hillary Clinton, and the anti-New Deal Democratic Establishment (specifically, anti-New Deal Debbie Wasserman Schultz) that they allowed a Trump presidency - and under a Trump presidency, our public lands are at risk of being sold; we're going to be pumping more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere; the super-wealthy will receive another round of gargantuan tax cuts (including, conveniently, the Obamas and the Clintons); Social Security and Medicare will be subjected to Paul Ryan's insane, Ayn Rand fetish; and minorities, gays, non-Christians, and low-income Americans are likely to face some degree of persecution; and so on and so on.

For all of the reasons I have listed above (which is certainly not exhaustive), I argue that President Obama is the worst president in U.S. history.

Monday, November 14, 2016

As white nationalism spreads across the land, Paul Ryan tells us to put our minds at ease... and Michele Bachmann tells us God put Trump in power. One thing is clear: We must all become the White Rose.

"Why do the German people behave so apathetically in the face of all these abominable crimes, crimes so unworthy of the human race?... The German people slumber on in their dull, stupid sleep and encourage these fascist criminals; they give them the opportunity to carry on their depredations; and of course they do so."

--The White Rose, in their second leaflet distributed to the German people during World War II   

Above: The description for this 1941 photograph reads, "Antionette Lee reading to the children at 28th St. School, Los Angeles, California, day nursery, for caring for younger brothers and sisters of students of district schools, as part of her duties under the National Youth Administration Student Work Program." The National Youth Administration (NYA) was a New Deal work program for unemployed young Americans. This photograph highlights the kind of world that New Deal policymakers were trying to create - a world where Whites, Blacks, Asians, Hispanics, and others could live together in harmony. They had some major failures, of course, but they tried hard and their work set the stage for the civil rights movements of the 1950s and 60s. Photo courtesy of the National Archives.

Above: From WJLA 7, ABC News, November 13, 2016: "A church in Silver Spring, Maryland was vandalized with racist statements in support of President-elect Donald Trump Saturday night." Photo courtesy of Church Rector Robert Harvey and WJLA 7, used here for educational, non-commercial purposes.

Ushering in the Fascist, Plutocratic State

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, incidents of racist violence and intimidation have increased since the election of Donald Trump ("Racist Incidents Are Up Since Donald Trump's Election. These Are Just A Few Of Them," Time, November 13, 2016).

According to the FBI, hate crimes rose in 2015 ("FBI: Hate Crimes Went Up 6.8 Percent In 2015; Anti-Muslim Incidents Surge To Second Highest Ever," Huffington Post, November 13, 2016).

We also know that ex-KKK leader David Duke celebrated Trump's election victory; white supremacist organizations see Trump' victory as a "real opportunity"; and Trump has named Steve Bannon, a man who appears to have white nationalist leanings, as his top policy adviser.

When confronted with some of these issues, Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan said, "I really think people should put their minds at ease." This reminds me of the German soldiers who tried to calm down new arrivals to the concentration camps, just before sending them to the gas chambers. After several days of silence (why?), Trump gave a seeming half-hearted denunciation of the racial incidents: "If it helps, I will say this, and I will say right to the camera: ‘Stop it.’” (If it helps?? For heaven's sake Mr. Trump, the incidents are being carried out in your name.")

Paul Ryan, in his attempt to calm the situation down, said: "By the way, that’s not Republicans. We are the party of Lincoln. People who espouse those views, they’re not Republicans." First of all, Mr. Ryan, you are not the party of Lincoln. Anyone who has taken Political Science 101 knows that the Republican Party was fundamentally transformed in the mid-part of the 20th century into a more radical, anti-minority group by, among other things, the absorption of racist Southern Democrats. Second, Mr. Ryan, our nation has heard a litany of insults coming from Republicans these past few years, calling low-income and/or minority Americans "parasites," "wild animals," "lazy pigs," "takers" (your word, Mr. Ryan), and more. And who can forget when Republican "S.C. Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer Compares Helping Poor to Feeding Stray Animals" and advised against such help because the poor might "breed" (CBS News, January 25, 2010). Lastly, Mr. Ryan, you yourself pointed out Republican racism, when you said Trump's comments about a Hispanic judge were a "textbook definition of a racist comment."

Marginalizing entire groups of people ("takers"), and casting them as sub-human ("parasites") is often the first step to doing away with them altogether. Heinrich Himmler, leader of the German S.S. and an architect of the Final Solution, once said: "Antisemitism is exactly the same as delousing. Getting rid of lice is not a question of ideology. It is a matter of cleanliness." "Lice?" "Parasites"? Sounds very similar to me.

On top of these racist developments, we also hear that top Trump supporter Sean Hannity (perhaps the next Joseph Goebbels) agrees that top news outlets should be excluded from the White House (there goes freedom of the press). We also know that David Clarke, the perpetually-angry sheriff from Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, and an apparent contender to lead the Department of Homeland Security, has called for the National Guard to suppress ant-Trump protests, calling them "goon anarchists" (there goes freedom to protest). And Trump's vice president, Mike Pence, and domestic policy adviser, Ken Blackwell, both believe that gays can be "cured." Maybe they'll make special camps for that?

Meanwhile, former Republican congresswoman and full-time lunatic Michele Bachmann has told us that God gave Trump the Oval Office...


Above: In this video clip, right-wing zealot Michele Bachmann tells us that her prayers to God delivered Trump to the White House. Youtube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GzlebECUOIg.

We Must All Become The White Rose

This country is heading towards racial and religious authoritarianism and, if you are ignoring the signs, shame on you. What we are seeing today is a mirror image of what happened in 1930s Germany, albeit to a lesser degree (so far). We may or may not create concentration camps for disfavored groups, but we are definitely going to have laws passed and extralegal activities carried out that will persecute those who are not rich, not white, and not Christian. Who will stop it? The Republican president? The Republican Congress? The Republican Supreme Court? The Republican Governors? The Republican state legislatures? Please.

In an introduction to the book The White Rose, about a few brave Germans who fought against the Nazis from 1942-1943, and also against the apathy that allowed Nazi abuses to run rampant, Dr. Dorothee Solle writes, "The conservative Christian parties smoothed Hitler's path to power." We have witnessed the exact same phenomenon in America this year. Right-wing evangelicals, like Michele Bachmann and Jerry Falwell Jr., have thrown their support behind Trump, despite Trump's disparaging comments and actions towards so many groups (women, minorities, Muslims, the disabled, etc.). 

How can this be explained? When I was growing up, attending Sunday School, I was taught that God and Jesus loved all their children. We used to sing, "Jesus loves the little children, All the children of the world, red, brown, yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world." But now, I have right-wing evangelicals telling me that God has chosen Donald Trump for president - the man whom white supremacists consider a symbol of hope.

It is clear to me that we're all going to have to be the White Rose for the next 4 to 8 years, or more. But it will take a lot of courage, considering that the two leaders of the White Rose, a young brother and sister, were arrested, convicted, and beheaded by the Nazis. How many Americans are going to have the intestinal fortitude to defend and protect their non-wealthy, non-white, and non-Christian brothers and sisters, and subject themselves to arrest, incarceration, beatings, or worse? Well, the anti-Trump protests and the sanctuary areas that are being established by a few states and cities, gives me some hope... but the lessons of history do not.

Above: People have often asked, "Could what happen in Germany happen here?" Perhaps the better question is, "When will it happen here?" WPA poster, image courtesy of the Library of Congress.

"Do not forget that every people deserves the regime it is willing to endure."

--The White Rose