A Tale of Two Baskets

At an LGBT for Hillary fundraiser on Sept 9, 2016, candidate Clinton made a “grossly generalist” comment indicating that you could put half of <POTUS’s> supporters in a (Basket of Deplorables), listing them as either racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic or Islamaphobic.  She went on to say that the other (half) basket contained folk who just felt that the economy and the government had let them down and felt uncared for.

I, like many Hillary supporters, cringed the next day when the clip of that comment was replayed a hundred times.  I didn’t cringe because she had said anything that wasn’t absolutely true.  I cringed because one of the shrewdest politicians around had made the mistake of attacking voters instead of their candidate—a political no no.  Experts disagree whether it cost her votes or not, though most agree that it probably didn’t deprive her opponent of any.  She later apologized, but only for having gotten the percentages wrong.

I’ve watched the crumbling political situation and hoped (with less and less optimism), that the 62 million-plus citizens that voted for POTUS would see that they were duped, acknowledge their error, voice their dissatisfaction and work to end his reign.  I’ve hoped that of the two baskets, the one containing the deplorables would turn out to be significantly smaller that the basket of the disillusioned.  But let’s examine what has taken place since Hillary’s pronouncement.

Hillary made her declaration before the Washington Post ran their story in October revealing the Entertainment Tonight tape, yet POTUS still won in the electoral college.

Since having become president, POTUS proposed (and has now partially implemented), a travel ban to exclude the issuance of visas to anyone from one of six predominantly Muslim countries or to any refugee.  After the most recent act of terrorism in Barcelona, the president repeated a fully debunked tale indicating that General Pershing eradicated muslim terrorism in the Philippines for decades by murdering all-but-one of 50 offenders while simultaneously violating their dietary restrictions with the murder weapons (a silly but still insulting and inciting claim).

In July POTUS had his administration show his true feelings for the LGBT community in three separate actions completed on the same day.  They included: arguing in court that the sex protections provided by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 do not apply to orientation, nominating gay-hater Sam Brownback as the new Religious Freedom Ambassador and tweeting that transgender people will no longer be allowed to serve in the military ( 3 Punches Against Gay Rights).

Following the tragic events in Charlottesville, Virginia, our Dear Leader appeared to give himself a hernia while attempting to denounce nazis and the KKK.

I freely admit that one can support, can like, can even love another person without agreeing with everything they believe.  We would not be able to sustain even the most basic human relationships if it were otherwise.  And I think we can all agree to disagree on things like economic policy, gun control or the best way to protect the environment. But there are some beliefs that are anathema to what America stands for and so contrary to what decent folk respect and treasure that they can only be considered poisonous and incompatible with anything good.  Regardless how many times Fox News may say that “no lines have really been crossed”, multiple lines have been repeatedly crossed.  No matter why one originally supported a leader, if one continues to support them knowing that they hold reprehensible beliefs then we must conclude that they share those beliefs.

If you support a racist in order to get tax reform, you are a racist.  If you have irrefutable evidence that someone is chronically misogynistic but you choose them because you like the Supreme Court justice they will nominate, you are a misogynist.  And for those who don’t believe there is anything wrong with being a racist or a misogynist (or a homophobe or Islamaphobe), then admit it, stand up and be proudly counted.  Why add hypocrisy to the list of your failings?  If you are not any of those things then stop propping this guy up.

I don’t claim to know what POTUS actually believes or doesn’t believe as he lies with alacrity.  I do know, however, that regardless of ideology, this man will do anything to be adored, and as of last Sunday, 37% of all Americans queried (and 79% of Republicans), still approve of him after all he has said and done (Gallup Poll Through Aug 20).  So do the “basket math”.  POTUS may be the most optic problem in the nation right now, but the real problem is the number of our fellow Americans who have now proven that they are immoral.

When Hillary “apologized” for her statement and would only say that she’d assigned incorrect proportions, she didn’t indicate which fraction was in error.  I feel I can now confirm that the basket of deplorables was and is the much larger of the two.

Hate in America…Silence = Complicity

Some of my readers have inquired about the lack of a post regarding the events in Charlottesville, Virginia on August 12th and the subsequent actions of the president.  Some of those inquiries may suggest a confidence that I will be able to successfully address the issue.  I’m not sure I share that confidence, but I will try my best to reward it.  Others, I believe, are chastising me for not yet contributing in a time when all voices are needed, regardless of eloquence.   I do admit to being delinquent in addressing the situation.  As so often in the last seven months, I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop…and the shoes just kept dropping.  Also, the airwaves and the internet have been so full of noise in response to those events that I thought we were covered.  I now recognize that more noise is necessary.  Those who abhor the precepts of hate must add to the cacophony.  Silence on this issue from anyone claiming morality or dignity is not the answer because there is a malevolent force waiting to utilize every unused podium.

In this post I will use the term hate groups to refer to all those that assembled in Charlottesville last weekend to protest the removal of a statue of General Robert E. Lee .  While they may not all have identical agendas, it is clear that the commonality was white supremacy, which is a hateful concept.  We are not fooled by those who said their only interest was the preservation of history and heritage.  While I may not know the exact reasons that the statue of General Lee was erected in 1924, it is undeniable that confederate statuary and flag have now become thinly disguised symbols for those who believe only white people have value.  I will not be using the term Alt Right as I believe that term was devised to sanitize the concept of white supremacy.

Like the rest of the nation, I anxiously awaited the president’s response to the outrageous murder of Heather Heyer and the injuring of 19 others committed by a white supremacist with his car.  When the response came (based both on its delayed delivery and its content), I thought it might prove to be the proverbial final straw that would snap the backs of the ignorant and selfish camels who voted for him and have refused to criticize him since.  I was wrong.

My anticipation for the awakening of America was revived on Monday when Potus again took the microphone and, while adhering to the teleprompter for a denunciation of specific hate groups by name, delivered the message like a petulant eight-year-old boy being force to read an apology written by his mother.  I waited for the republican establishment to rain down “fire and fury”.  Again, I was wrong.

I believed the coup de gras had occurred on Tuesday when the man-baby again had the mic and reverted to the “straight shooter” talk that his supporters so cherish, leaving little doubt (even to David Duke), where he stands on persecution based on race, religion or sexual orientation.  Some are suggesting that this Hater-in-Chief is not smart enough or calculated enough to orchestrate this lethal nationalism.  While I’m inclined to agree, the question is not “who initiated this course?”, but “who is implementing it?”  Speaking of which, Potus was flanked during Tuesdays pitiful display by two of his cabinet members: (Jewish) Steven Mnuchin along with (Chinese immigrant and wife of Senator Mitch McConnell) Elaine Chao.  I’ve not heard either of them nor (Black) Ben Carson denounce the president for his complicity in or his lack of leadership on this issue.  Whatever possessed folk to hitch their wagons (and remain hitched) to such a demagogue remains unclear, but for some light reading the next time they are guests on Air Force One I’d like to recommend Hitler’s Henchmen by Guido Knopp.  A few elected Republicans did finally issue their own condemnations of bigotry, but the only current republican official that I’ve heard actually call out the president is Ohio Governor John Kasich.  So again, I was wrong.

It has become much more than trite to say that the actions of this president are “unbelievable” or “shocking”.  His very election was farcical and his actions and words since his inauguration have been inconceivable to any rational person.  Many of us have watched in equal parts horror and incredulity while waiting for the final act that will cause the 62,984,825 voters who unleashed this beast upon our country to cry uncle, to admit they have been duped, to openly demand his ouster.  There have been a few who have renounced their support, but opinion polls show that as of last week 79% of declared Republicans still approve of this guy (Gallup Opinion Poll).  If those numbers hold, we will know beyond doubt that a very large portion of our fellow citizens either promote hatred or are at least willing to tolerate it in furtherance of their personal economic situations, whether real or aspirational.  We will have evidence that the ignorant belief of racial superiority is not just confined to a few disenfranchised individuals on the fringes of society.  We will know that many of our friends, neighbors and families either embrace or overlook that ideology.

I want to find solace by trusting that the population embracing that ideology would be smaller than the population overlooking it, but the refusal to acknowledge and denounce evil is possibly more dangerous than the evil itself.  Cancer detected early and treated can often be eradicated, or at least forced into remission.  Rogue and rapidly growing cells, however, can completely consume the host if ignored, propelling it to a painful and agonizing end.

I do not pretend to understand the fear or loathing that makes aligning oneself with a hate group so appealing, so I can’t propose preventative measures.  But once recruited, those members must be denied the validation that they are correct or represent truth.  Their words and behavior cannot be supported or encouraged in any way by credible persons and absolutely not by the highest officer in the land.

To be clear, I am not suggesting that these groups must be silenced.  As previously mentioned in this weblog, we all enjoy the protection of free speech afforded us by the Bill of Rights.  I believe that even misguided bigots possess the right to share their message (if they can find a platform and are prepared for the possible repercussions).  It is possible, however, to counter and to muffle their homilies of hate.  Those who despise hate also have the right—and the moral responsibility—to exercise their freedom to speak out against such dangerous ideas with whatever means are available to them.  

One of my readers provided the following regarding the function of the first amendment, “…stupid ideas will die in the marketplace of ideas and we, as thinking, rational people have an obligation to make it clear which ideas are valuable and which are worthless“.  So, to the thinking and rational people of these United States, I ask you to participate in the market place of ideas, make clear what you believe has value and what you believe is worthless—including presidents.  I implore you to speak with your physical presence, your pen or your wallet.  The survival of our democracy depends on action.  And since we cannot rely on appropriate behavior from many of our elected officials nor from millions of our fellow Americans, the rest of us must do it both for and in spite of them.

And The Oscar, ahem, The Office Goes To…

We’re now in the seventh month of a presidency most Americans still can’t believe is real.  Watching the news and reading blogs has been such a negative experience for over half a year now, so I’d like to try to interject some levity.  I thought this might be a good time for this post as Potus is on a 17-day vacation.  And it’s not one of those lazy golf trips like Slacker Obama used to take.  No, Potus is just relocating his office…to a golf course…that he owns…which will generate taxpayer supported revenue for his coffers (<Potus’> Interests vs. America’s) for a couple of weeks while “the dump” on Pennsylvania Avenue has some work done.

As I shared in my earlier post, Ladies and Gentlemen, Meet Pete, I believe it’s not too early for liberals to start planning the reclamation of the White House in 2020, and I introduced some of you to Pete Buttigieg.  There are also other possible contenders out there, like Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker (yes, another woman and another black man, respectively) and some others.  Liberal activist and film maker Michael Moore is floating (pushing?) the idea that Democrats should run a celebrity for the office, maintaining that a “beloved American” could garner the majority of votes in this entertainment obsessed country.  Mr. Moore  seems, however, more interested in just getting a Democrat back in the position than he does about finding someone who could govern.  Regardless, I wanted to use this space to explore the concept, so let’s examine some prospects:

Tom Hanks

Tom is one of the country’s most prolific actors and certainly beloved by many.  After all, he saved Private Ryan, got Apollo 13 home, performed a miracle on the Hudson and showed us all how life is similar to a Whitman’s Sampler.  My concern about a successful bid for the presidency, however, stems from his early work.  Many of my readers may remember that Hank’s earliest starring role came in 1980 in a television show entitled Bosom Buddies.  He played Buffy Wilson to Peter Scolari’s Hildegard Desmond; their female personas created by their male characters in order to live in an affordable, women-only hotel.  If the country isn’t ready for a female president, could they really be ready for a man who does drag?  It’s possible that I could be underestimating the power of a strong ticket, though.  What if Tom got Wilson to run as his Vice President?  Talk about beloved…and what a great listener.

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah is undoubtedly beloved…she even has a film by the same name.  She, like someone else we know, has a household name and a great deal of money (though she only got one of those from her father) who could surely fund her own campaign.  Oprah would most likely be the strongest “Education President” we’ve seen, given her devotion to her Leadership Academy.  And instead of “a chicken in every pot” her slogan could be “you get a car and you get a car…”.  The most obvious drawbacks, of course, are her gender and her race.  I remember a remark that the venerable Ann Richards made regarding her loss for re-election as Texas Governor in 1994.  She said that her opponent, newcomer George W. Bush (via Karl Rove) had successfully convinced Texas voters that she was going to send the gays to get their guns.  While I’m not exactly sure how the opposition to this strong black women would frame the national campaign, I’m confident it would have many “conservative” men clutching their Birth of a Nation DVDs as well as their testicles.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

While “The Rock” could have an immediate and positive impact on military readiness (just look at those guns), one wonders if that eyebrow would need to be commandeered and subjected to the nuclear codes like other weapons of mass destruction.  There is also the problem of his heritage.  Though he claims to have been born in Hayward, California, his mother’s parents were Samoan (and her mother wasn’t even from American Samoa), so I can already see those bright, articulate, Republican birthers trying to correctly spell “damn Polynesia” on their Facebook pages.

I’m sure there are many other suitable contestants from the “Entertainment Tonight” catalogue, and I’m not going to argue with Michael Moore about the ultimate electability of such a candidate, but I think our next hopeful needs to not only be electable, but also able to lead.  Mr. Moore’s assumption may be that just having a left-leaning actor in the head office would be sufficient because we could surround them with politically savvy folk to “script and direct” their work, but what happens if the puppet goes rogue?  Heaven knows that’s never happened before.