• Forget the Russians, Pope Francis just intervened in the upcoming US elections – in a good way

    Though he surely had other things on his mind, Pope Francis just intervened in the United States’ midterm elections and, I suspect, in the 2020 presidential contest, as well. One of the fundamental building blocks of Donald Trump’s we’ll-support-him-no-matter-how-offensive-venal-or-wrong-headed-he-is constituency is the anti-reproductive rights alignment. So long as the con-man-in-chief continues to verbally oppose abortion and appoint judges whose record indicates a willingness to overturn Roe v Wade, this group of single-issue voters is willing to give him a pass on coarse expressions of moral depravity, affronts to tolerant decency and assaults on social justice. What ranks this particular constituency ahead ...

  • Amy Coney Barrett: The religious right’s favorite US Supreme Court candidate is a cultic extremist

    Of all the damage Donald Trump has done and will do to the fabric of American government and democracy, nothing will be more lasting than his imposition of dogmatically narrow-minded, ideologically rigid Federalist Society-style conservatism on the Supreme Court. Our grandchildren will live with the consequences of the goniff-in-chief’s moral and intellectual vandalism of the judicial branch. If the Republicans retain their Senate majority in November and fate and the actuarial tables hand Trump a third—or even fourth—court appointment, it could be more than a century before the oppressive burden of a culturally reactionary, plutocratically subservient court can be lifted from ...

  • How the angry anti-gun control fanatics paved the way for Trump

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    Over the past year, analysts have turned themselves inside out trying to unravel the phenomena of Trump and Trumpism. Why do somewhere between 30% and 40% of Americans remain invincibly indifferent to the self-evident instability, venality, mendacity, incompetence and coarse brutality of Donald Trump, despite the inarguable fact that they suffer most from his presidency's misgovernment? No other chief executive in history has been forgiven by his followers for even a fraction of the affronts to every sort of decency and common sense that Trump delivers on a weekly basis. As the exasperated conservative commentator George Will recently put it, "Trump's ...

  • Let the Dem’s Midterm Slogan Be: Make America California Again

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    States don’t come any bluer than California these days. By every conventional measure, the Golden State is one of today’s rare Democratic success stories: Every statewide office is occupied by a Dem and the party enjoys commanding majorities in both legislative chambers. The Republicans’ suicidal impulses on issues from immigration to gun control essentially have reduced the vestigial GOP opposition to irrelevance—even in such traditional conservative redoubts as Orange County, which if not quite a pure azure yet, has moved remorselessly to deep violet. Four-term Gov. Jerry Brown bestrides the once fractious state budget process like a colossus of ...

  • James Comey’s Testimony Proves Trump is a Thuggish Fixer

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    These are dark times in America and will grow darker still. James Comey’s chilling testimony to the Senate Committee Thursday paint a portrait of the president who operates not as a canny manipulator in the style of Richard Nixon, nor as a shifty, street-wise hustler, but as a thuggish fixer. The former FBI director’s believably detailed account also made it clear that the administration and the country now confront months of multiple investigations of targets—the president, his aides, and family members—who will defend themselves without restraint, decency or consideration of the damage they have done and are doing to the national ...

  • Here’s Why Trump’s Supporters Always Seem to Give Him a Political Pass

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    Here’s a fact to which there is no alternative: The President of the United States, commander-in-chief of the world’s most powerful military, is either a pathological liar or a serial fabulist unable to distinguish fantasy from reality—or, perhaps, a chillingly sociopathic combination of both. In the aftermath of his amateurish and incompetent attempt to ram through an abominable Republican health care bill whose substance he never bothered to understand even though it would have deprived 26 million working and middle-class Americans of their insurance while giving the rich a massive tax cut, Trump lied about who was responsible: Not him, nor ...

  • 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 ...