Trump’s Neo-Nationalism and Nativism are the Source of the Anti-Semitic Wave

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Nationalism was 19th Century Europe’s dominant ideology when Oscar Wilde famously sneered that “patriotism is the virtue of the vicious.” The post-war progress of liberal democracy made possible a benevolent national loyalty, but if Donald Trump, Steve Bannon and their West Wing henchman with their twisted version of “love” for country have their way, patriotism will once again become a disreputable affection. There already is a clear line linking the economic and ethno-nationalist fantasies now infesting the White House with disgraceful events like the desecration of Jewish cemeteries in St. Louis and Philadelphia, the firing of a shot into an Indiana ...

In Trump’s version of America, I’m happy to be called an ‘Enemy of the People’

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An 18th century parliamentarian well might have had Donald Trump in mind when he described a political opponent, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, as “blending mediocrity with cunning.” Trump doubtless will spawn many such descriptions on his own; one legal scholar, for example, already has described his slap-dash travel ban as a “combination of malevolence and incompetence.” Trump’s ongoing campaign against the news media is a signature example of his malevolent cunning. Beset with bad publicity—and historically low public approval ratings—because of his administration’s stunningly chaotic launch and growing suspicions over surreptitious Russian involvement in his election, Trump has scuttled to the ...

It’s hard to be an effective populist when you’re not all that popular

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Donald Trump is about to discover that it’s very difficult to govern as a populist when the majority of the populace isn’t with you. One of the most unexpected events in this period of dizzyingly destabilizing socio-political novelties—Trump’s chaotic attempted presidency foremost among them—is the mass resistance to his administration now expressing itself in the streets: The massive post inaugural women’s marches, first of all, and now the stunningly widespread airport protests against his anti-immigrant diktats. The spontaneity, scope and intensity of the latter exceed, I think, anything that occurred at the height of that last great period of popular mobilization, ...

Trump’s First Days in Office: Deeply Sinister

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The trick to making something like sense out of these first stages of Donald Trump’s presidency is distinguishing between conduct that merely is vulgar or idiosyncratic and those ideas, policies and appointments whose implications are genuinely sinister. The difficulty, of course, is that the new chief executive’s bellicose, frenetic, self-aggrandizing and habitually mendacious persona throws up a kind of smoke screen that impedes such sober distinctions.  His appallingly tasteless and offensively egomaniacal performance before the “Wall of Heroes” at CIA headquarters Saturday was a quintessential example of the boorish and dissembling Trump; his cabinet and White House staff appointments are chilling ...

Inside Trump’s Looming War on California

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The media is awash in speculation about the trade wars president-elect Donald Trump may wage or about the ill-defined anti-ISIS campaign he may or may not pursue, but the one conflict the incoming chief executive and his supporters seem sure to engage is a war against California. The Golden State not only went overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton, but it’s success as the world’s sixth largest economy, its preeminent position on the cutting edge of technology and popular culture and its conduct as a productively multi-ethnic polity also stand as a daily refutation to all the Trumpistas’ darkest fulminations about American decline. ...

Mysterious Intelligence Report Invites Us to Wonder Just How Perverted Trump Is?

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Traditional Christian mysticism holds that one of the gifts of the spirit is cardiognosis—the ability to read hearts. Apparently that ancient charism, usually reserved for saints, also is going to be an essential tool for the reporters and analysts who deal with Donald Trump’s incoming administration. Trump’s chief apologist Kellyanne Conway—whose bizarrely inexplicable enthusiasm for defending the indefensible would give Freud a migraine—put the cardiognostic case this way when explaining how her boss could deny ridiculing a disabled reporter, even though the incident was recorded on video: “You always want to go by what’s come out of his mouth,” she complained ...

The Right-Wing’s insatiable desire to bash California is in high gear amid false claims that the Golden State has legalized child prostitution

If you’re still curious about just how sick the American body politic has become, there’s nowhere more informative than that spot on the Internet where fake news intersects with the right-wing’s paranoia over all things Californian. For the past 10 days or so, that fetid point in cyber space has virtually vibrated with outrage over the Golden State’s purported “legalization of child prostitution.” From team Trump’s favorite, the widely read Breitbart.com—a self-proclaimed “platform” for the alt-right—to the Conservative Daily Post to World News Net to the right’s more obscure corners, like churchmilitant.com, which among other things defends geocentrism (the belief that ...

Bits of Borrowed Wisdom For an Anxious New Year

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Dan Berrigan, Jesuit priest, anti-war activist, poet: Start with the impossible. Proceed calmly toward the improbable. ---- A. E. Houseman: The laws of God, the laws of man, He may keep that will and can; Not I: let God and man decree Laws for themselves and not for me; And if my ways are not as theirs Let them mind their own affairs. Their deeds I judge and much condemn, Yet when did I make laws for them? Please yourselves, say I, and they Need only look the other way. But no, they will not; they must still Wrest their neighbor to their will, And make me dance as they desire With jail and gallows and hell-fire. And ...