• 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 ...

  • Trump and other populists suffer from a bad case of Putin envy

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    Call it Putin envy. Whatever their differences, the one thing the new wave of right-wing populist politicians now emerging from the fringes of the Western democracies have in common—from America’s Donald Trump to France’s Francois Fillon and Marine Le Pen, from Italy’s Beppe Grillo to Austria’s Norbert Hofer and Hungary’s Viktor Orban—is admiration for Russia’s autocratic strongman Vladimir Putin. You’d probably have to go back to the heyday of the Comintern to find an eastern leader who enjoyed the sort of regard with which Putin is held by leading figures of the democracies’ populist right. In fact, the Slavic caudillo has managed ...

  • Religious leaders’ electoral rush to Trump is a self-interested betrayal of trust

    “Ecclesiastical establishments” James Madison wrote to his friend William Bradford Jr. in 1774, “tend to great ignorance and corruption, all of which facilitate the execution of mischievous projects.” If ever there was proof of Madison’s preternatural wisdom it was the role of organized religion in Donald Trump’s recent electoral victory. In fact, for those of us who take faith and politics seriously, the conduct of America’s major religious voting blocs—Catholics and evangelical Protestants—and, particularly their leaders is further evidence of the moral and intellectual bankruptcy that ought to disqualify them from further influence over the minds of reasonable Americans. Such people, even ...

  • With Trump, the worse is yet to come

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    In the dark days that are undoubtedly before us, many may come to look back on this election as Albert Camus did the Spanish Civil War. “Men of my generation have had Spain in our hearts,” Camus wrote. “It was there that they learned … that one can be right and yet be beaten.” Make no mistake, though, there is worse to come. Consider President-elect Donald Trump’s conduct since Election Day and that, for his first round of senior appointments, he has  skimmed the scum from the fetid pond of the Republican Party’s extreme right. Over the past week, the putative leader ...

  • Will Trump and his followers really accept the results of this election?

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    Understandably, questions about Donald Trump’s tax status have dominated recent campaign coverage, but as a result, what may have been the most extraordinary moment in the first presidential debate has gone all but unremarked upon. At the end of Hillary Clinton’s confrontation with the failed casino operator turned pseudo-populist demagogue, moderator Lester Holt asked the candidates a question that would have been unimaginable in any previous presidential debate: Would the candidates accept the results of the election, whichever way it goes? Clinton, of course, immediately said she would. Then Holt put the same question to Trump: “Will you accept the outcome ...

  • Donald Trump channels Gordon Gekko at first debate against Hillary Clinton

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    Gordon Gekko for President! There can be no other campaign slogan for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump coming out of Monday’s first presidential debate with Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. In his most unscripted and unguarded moments, the failed casino operator uncannily evoked no one as much as the slick-haired, reptilian corporate raider played by Michael Douglas in Oliver Stone’s 1987 “Wall Street”, the film that so masterfully captured the essence of an era of unfettered avarice in the financial markets. Who can forget Gekko’s signature pronouncement: “Greed is good.” Certainly, none of the 100 million-plus Americans who listened carefully to Trump during this ...

  • Regarding Trump’s new pro-life stance: Catholics recognize a con man when they see one

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    By now, I think we all know that Donald Trump would hock his kids’ kidneys to win this election. I’m probably being over fastidious, then, to note that I find his most recent attempt to exploit the painfully wrenching issue of abortion particularly offensive. I use the adjective wrenching, I suppose, because I’m a Catholic who personally opposes most therapeutic pregnancy terminations, but still supports the woman’s right to choose. I do so, in part, because the question of abortion’s morality hinges on a question to which we currently have no convincing scientific answer: At what point does life begin? Given our ...