Recent Posts by Tim Rutten

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 ...

The Right’s Hatred of California Is Really Fear of a Future that Already Is Working

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Back before the country lost its mind, journalists sent to report on California first reflexively noted its eccentricities, then deployed an entire lexicon of wondering clichés to describe the importance of what they’d seen: The “Golden State,” they wrote, was studded with “signposts to the new,” the place where “the future came to happen.” This, though, is the age of Trump and to his supporters California has become an “outlier,” a pariah no longer part of the “real America.” The state’s crime was to prefer Hillary Clinton’s candidacy in such numbers that she won the popular ballot by nearly 3 million ...

 Trump and the GOP Lack a Popular Mandate for a Radical Transformation of the U.S.

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The confirmation that state-sponsored Russian hackers intervened in the recent election to support Donald Trump and various Republican congressional candidates further heightens questions about the incoming administration’s legitimacy. We are not speaking of legitimacy in the legal sense. The Russians’ unacceptable intrusion into our electoral process was only one of the factors that contributed to Hillary Clinton’s defeat. So, too, was FBI Director James Comey’s clumsily politicized 11th hour letter concerning Clinton’s emails, as well as the fact that she herself was a poor candidate freighted with more baggage than a Korean container ship and her campaign was badly managed and ...

Wall Street and Oil Companies are the Real Winners in Trump’s Cabinet

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Whatever the populist voters who propelled Donald Trump into office thought they were getting, their president-elect is giving them a cabinet consisting of—as Josh Marshall has aptly put it—plutocrats, generals and right-wing extremists. It also will be an administration staffed with an unusual number of candidate Trump’s major donors. As the Washington Post has reported, federal campaign filings reveal that, “President-elect Trump has now tapped six big donors and fund-raisers to serve in his administration, lining up an unprecedented concentration of wealthy backers for top posts. Together with their families, Trump’s nominees gave $11.6 million to support his presidential bid, his ...

Trump’s Emerging Administration is a Combination of Crooks and Kooks

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Much has been made of the emerging Trump Administration’s wealth, and if either Mitt Romney or Exxon Mobile CEO Rex Tillerson is selected as Secretary of State, the incoming cabinet’s standing as the richest ever will be more than assured. A great deal, too, has been made of the number of Goldman Sachs alums in the new administration—despite the president elect’s demonization of the powerful investment bank during the campaign. Much, too, understandably is being made of the Trump team’s extreme right-wing views. Equally notable, it seems to me, is the prevalence of plain old crooks and kooks in the group ...

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