In fall of 1958, the bestselling novel The Ugly American hit the shelves. I was a junior in H.S. at that point and while I never took the time to read the book, I did become familiar with the concept “Ugly American” and how it was applied, over ensuing years, to various types of personalities that were ‘normal’ here at home but were seen as ‘ugly’ in foreign countries everywhere. In 1963 I saw the movie, and though I didn’t think it amounted to a whole lot (in spite of Brando as one of the main characters), the concept of “Ugly American” remained intact. But that was what, 53-58 years ago? Today, I suggest, the whole notion has become far more expansive and, in the process, quite . . . ‘deplorable'(?) as well. Back in the fifties and sixties, ‘The Ugly American’ referred mainly to diplomatic ‘failures’ in S.E. Asia, whereas today it refers to, at least in my extremely humble opinion, the entire of the Republican Party, once known as the Grand Old Party but today become more the party whose self-defined task has become the stirring up of envy, resentment, and hatred amongst all who are interested in — or susceptible to — being thus stirred.
Today. . .
Today is November 3, 2016; our General Election is Tuesday next, exactly five days from now. There’s a big decision about to be made, and what concerns me more than anything else is that the electorate is, according to most current polls wherein those who seem to enjoy stirring up envy, resentment, and hatred are separated by only a few percentage points from those whose goal is to maintain the hope that one of these days America will FINALLY become the country where “we the people” both understand and support the mandate implicit in her 240 year dream: “to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.” In order to accomplish that feat, it’s no secret that our sole hope is to find the means of encouraging an Electoral Philosophy whose sole goal is to FINALLY work DILIGENTLY to turn those dreams into a functional reality.
If the run-up to this year’s election has demonstrated one thing over the last 18 months, it’s that we remain a LONG way from achieving anything even close to the Constitutional aspirations quoted above. The vitriol that has dominated the entire of the campaign so far stands alone (at least in my lifetime) as the perfect reflection of the consequences of politically inspired irrational Fear and Hate, punctuated by Greed — i.e. the functional opposite of political decency.
I recently had an (online email) conversation with an elderly relative, one who has been a dedicated Republican for her entire life, one whose first presidential vote was for Dwight Eisenhower back in 1956. She asked me what I thought of the upcoming election, its candidates, etc., adding that there was no way she could ever vote for the GOP candidate this year because it was Donald Trump, a man whom she most ably described as “A corrupt liar and a blow hard womanizer.” She said she didn’t care for Hillary Clinton either, and was at a loss as to what to do, and wondered how I felt about the whole issue.
I spared no punches and wrote this back:
In re politics: I’m not a really big Hillary fan either, but Trump is the most disgusting and unqualified POTUS candidate the country has had in 240 years. So what to do? I’ve already voted (we vote by mail here in Colorado). My vote was “philosophic” and not for any particular individual candidate(s), so –
- since I like (and depend upon) both Social Security and Medicare;
- and since I support the concept of Universal single-payer health care for everyone (along with the commensurate ‘dismissal’ of the health insurance ‘industry’);
- and since I support PUBLIC Education K-12 AND tuition-free college;
- and since I support genuine immigration reform with a path to citizenship for all non-criminal (i.e. most) undocumenteds;
- and since I support higher tax rates on those who make millions, plus the closing of Corporate tax loopholes along with a livable minimum wage for the people who do most of the work;
- and since I really do NOT EVER want to see another Supreme Court loaded with extreme right-wingers (like Scalia, Thomas, et al.);
- and since I want to see a strong, genuine, and effective (local and global) ‘war’ on climate change;
- and since I detest racism, misogyny, xenophobia (and every other type of irrational hate and fear, including esp. Islamophobia);
- and since I remain strongly pro-choice both in re women’s health/reproductive issues AND on all issues of LGBT/gay marriage, etc.;
- and since I remain a dyed-in-the-wool environmental preservationist;
- and since I really really support the notion of getting rid of the Supreme Court’s bogus Citizens United decision that turned our elections into nothing more than a Big Money shopping/purchasing event –
I voted a straight Dem ticket from top to bottom. I voted that way solely because I know that the current incarnation of the GOP is, sadly, against virtually every policy I see as proper and/or necessary. What saddens me more, though, is that I’m 99% certain that most — maybe none — of the stuff I’m strongly in favor of has little or no chance of coming to pass in my lifetime, much less at any time in the future. Human fear, hate, and greed will never allow it, and all current and future generations will merely wind up suffering the inevitable consequences, just as have all current and past generations been obliged to do.
“Philosophic” the operative word. No candidate is going to be able to deliver on all of the “and since” items listed above, but one of the candidates will at least veto efforts by “The Ugly Americans” in the House and Senate to obstruct and destroy; the other candidate will support each and all such destructive efforts — and probably add some of his own as well. Ergo my cited voting protocol.
What follows here below is my presentation of just a handful or two of examples from only the last few days of the current stirring up of envy, resentment, and hatred exercise, as practiced by some of those who are, in my considered opinion, prime examples of those Ugly Americans who support the elimination of decency in this country, always in favor of its exact opposite(s). The examples are posted as links to and quotes from a variety of articles on a number of topics. Also included are ‘appropriate'(?) graphics that I’ve collected over the years — graphics that seem to ably support the overall premises portrayed and described in the links.
THE UGLY AMERICAN(S)
Imagine if the president of the United States were chosen for us by the nation’s fourth-graders.
It sounds absurd, but this bizarre circumstance is essentially what is unfolding right before our very eyes with the candidacy of Donald J. Trump. . . . The language and content of one of Trump’s debates during the Republican primary election was scientifically analyzed and determined to be at the fourth-grade level.
[. . .]
This is exactly what our Founding Fathers feared when they created this new system of democracy. They were concerned that an abominable candidate would come along and charm the masses of uneducated voters, and then the intellectual minority would be forced to suffer the imposition of an imbecile as their president.
It is scary enough to think that a presidential candidate of today would conduct a campaign specifically targeted at the millions of voters with fourth-grade mentalities.
It is even scarier to think that such a candidate is only one step away from occupying the White House.
Donald Trump’s proposal to bar all Muslims from entering the United States violates U.S. and international law and would never be allowed by the courts, legal scholars said . . .
“Oh, for the love of God,” said Jonathan Turley, a constitutional law expert at George Washington University. “This would not only violate international law, but do so by embracing open discrimination against one religion. It would make the United States a virtual pariah among nations.’’
[. . .]
“A nation could argue that national security provides a rationale for barring immigrants from particular countries engaged in civil wars,” Turley said. “But those rationales fall by the wayside when you are using an arbitrary criteria like religion.”
(John Dean, former counsel to President Richard Nixon, writes):
Donald Trump has promoted a xenophobic immigration policy from the outset of his presidential campaign. He declared that Mexico was exporting “criminals,” “killers,” “rapists” and “drug dealers” to the United States.
To deal with this situation, Trump announced he would build a wall along the Mexic0-U.S. border, for which he would force Mexico to pay costs.
[. . .]
Building Trump’s wall would be an expensive folly. It will not keep out “the bad ones.” But it will wreck the ecology of the Southwestern United States. Such a wall would certainly serve as a monument to Trump’s ugly-American thinking.
So before any such project is started, President Trump should order the Park Service to cover the Statue of Liberty in black, for her symbolic welcoming to immigrants can be declared dead when he starts building a massive Trump wall.
Next, a look at what many consider the travesties implicit in the DAPL project in North Dakota, travesties which seem to indicate that pale-faced “immigrants” have not made much progress over the years since they first landed at Plymouth Rock, at least not in terms of respect for North America’s First People. Note also that the assault weapon-armed Bundy cowards at Malheur were acquitted in Federal Court even as hundreds of unarmed resident protestors at Standing Rock are being hauled off to jail . . . their only offense: defending their heritage and the land and water which is, today, theirs.
Watching the events unfold one after the other revealed a glaring racial double standard. It also showed a profound difference in what is at stake in the two movements.
In Oregon, white ranchers — dressed as cowboys, armed to the teeth, claiming to be clothed in the Constitution — protested what they consider to be creeping government tyranny, in the form of federal control of western lands. Law enforcement let them come and go at will, and sought not to provoke them, giving them time and space to stage their “insurrection.” By contrast, the attempt to derail the Dakota Access Pipeline was met by a stunning show of force: dogs, helicopters, LRAD sound cannons, military vehicles and hundreds of police officers.
[. . .]
The Bundy family and their followers are playing dress-up and putting on historical re-enactments. The Standing Rock Sioux are fighting for the survival of the planet. Which side are you on?
In red America, Native Americans and their allies who are concerned about the severe damage the pipeline will do to their ancestral lands and their drinking water are viewed as enemies and extremists, blocking the path of energy independence.
To the extent that mainstream-media entities (with the courageous exception of Lawrence O’Donnell and Joy Reid of MSNBC) have ignored the Dakota Access controversy (tragedy might be a more appropriate word), it’s because they’re afraid of offending the sensibilities of red-staters. Covering this controversy comprehensively would be deemed a form of liberal media bias by conservatives; the broadcast and cable networks would be bombarded with complaints from disgruntled right-wingers who don’t want to see any “Indians,” “Hollywood airheads” or “radical environmentalists” on their television screens.
We are a politically polarized people, and because of that reality, concepts that would normally be seen as common sense have become part of the red vs. blue civil war. It shouldn’t be viewed as political to declare that “Water is Life,” just as it shouldn’t be viewed as political to declare that “Black Lives Matter”–but it is.
To quote the famous Andrew Hacker book, we are indeed two nations–a nation that pays attention to crises and a nation that dismisses those crises as hoaxes, a nation that cherishes journalism and a nation that imprisons journalists, a nation that values fact and a nation that values fiction. On November 8, we’ll see which nation wins this new civil war.
As violent clashes over the $3.8 billion Dakota Access oil pipeline continue, allegations of abuse at the hands of law enforcement officials keep mounting. Native American activists arrested during the violent clearing of a protest camp last week say they were kept in “dog kennels.”
“We were caged in dog kennels, sat on the floor, and we were marked with numbers,” said Floris White Bull, in a YouTube video posted Saturday. As she wiped tears from her face, she said the cages were placed in the garage at the Morton County Sheriff’s Department. “This is happening today, this isn’t something that we are reading in history books.”
And speaking of those who work tirelessly to stir up envy, resentment, and hatred, we have the extreme right wing fringe, aka Teabaggers and various other epithets.
Introducing Donald Trump at a Las Vegas campaign rally last night, conservative activist Wayne Allyn Root fantasized about Hillary Clinton and her aide Huma Abedin driving their car off a cliff, “Thelma and Louise” style.
Before leading the crowd in a chant of “lock her up,” Root called for an uprising and told the “D.C. elites,” “We’re coming to kick your ass and we’re coming to put you in prison.”
[. . .]
Root predicted that an imminent WikiLeak email release will “lock her up,” while lamenting that “we will never again elect another Republican as president if Donald Trump isn’t elected on November 8th because Hillary will open the borders like never before, she will legalize every illegal already here, she will import millions of poorly vetted Muslims, she will appoint not one but up to four Supreme Court justices who will make every unconstitutional move she makes legal. So you see, if Trump loses, we’re outvoted, forevermore, we will never elect another Republican for president in our lifetime. So it’s Trump, or it’s the end of the GOP and the end of America.”
“This is the moment of your lives,” he said. “This is why we were born…. Fight like cornered Wolverines. Attack! Attack! Attack!”
Extreme right-wing activist Theodore Shoebat . . . posted a new video over the weekend voicing his displeasure that a New York judge was sworn in using a Quran last week while also declaring his hope that President Donald Trump will institute a “Christian supremacist” society in which people like this judge would be put to death.
In a “Christian supremacist” society, Shoebat explained, “there’s no free reign for homosexuals, there’s no liberation for perversity and debaseness [sic] and just downright weird mutant psychos walking around with clipped liberal dyke hair and men dressing up as women and all that sick, psycho stuff. People who flaunt the Quran in a Christian society would be arrested, at times put to death . . .
“To me, this judge, as far as I am concerned, in a Christian society, she’s worthy of being arrested and executed,” he continued, “for going against the body, for really trying to attempt to subvert the order of society” by using a book that is “absolutely demonic and absolutely heretical” during her swearing in.
And lest we forget, we now have the politicized FBI, not to mention GOP POTUS candidate Donald J. Trump and his mountain of indiscretions.
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) is furious that the FBI is caving to GOP pressure without giving the same treatment to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
In a Monday morning interview with CNN’s “New Day,” Cummings admitted he was shocked by the letter that FBI Director James Comey sent to his committee.
“I was surprised that the director who has told our committee on several occasions that his number one concern is his reputation that he would issue a letter that, number one, was so vague,” Cummings began. “And that, basically, gave Donald Trump a softball to hit over the fence. And he knew, I’m sure, that this is exactly what Donald Trump would do. He would exaggerate.”
Cummings went on to call the letter vague again, saying that it leaves so many facts out of the equation. But given the pressure Comey was under from the GOP, he’s not shocked it happened. . . . “I don’t think the American people have a clue as to how hard the Republicans, particularly on my committee, have been on the FBI.”
Author Salman Rushdie reminded voters that Trump will stand trial later this month in a racketeering lawsuit and then again next month as part of a lawsuit filed by a woman who claims the Republican presidential nominee raped her when she was 13 years old.
“He is a sexual predator, hasn’t released his tax returns, and has used his foundation’s money to pay his legal fees,” Rushdie posted Sunday on his Facebook page. “He has abused the family of a war hero and … oh, but let’s talk about some emails Hillary didn’t send from someone else’s computer, that weren’t a crime anyway, because that’s how to choose a president. Come on, America. Focus.”
Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway declined on Monday to address how a lawsuit accusing Donald Trump of raping a child would impact his presidency.
[. . .]
“My understanding is that no matter who wins, we’re going to be dealing with the email issue after this if she’s the president,” [CNBC host Andrew Ross Sorkin] explained. “If Donald Trump is the president, he’s got the child rape case that’s going to happen that was just given a date.”
“Oh, come on,” Conway gasped. “That you would analogize the two. Give me a break.”
“I’m just suggesting that no matter who is in the White House,” Sorkin continued before being interrupted.
“Next you are going to ask me where his taxes are,” Conway quipped, rolling her eyes.
Mother Jones has reviewed [the] report and other memos this former spy wrote. The first memo, based on the former intelligence officer’s conversations with Russian sources, noted, “Russian regime has been cultivating, supporting and assisting TRUMP for at least 5 years. Aim, endorsed by PUTIN, has been to encourage splits and divisions in western alliance.” It maintained that Trump “and his inner circle have accepted a regular flow of intelligence from the Kremlin, including on his Democratic and other political rivals.” It claimed that Russian intelligence had “compromised” Trump during his visits to Moscow and could “blackmail him.” It also reported that Russian intelligence had compiled a dossier on Hillary Clinton based on “bugged conversations she had on various visits to Russia and intercepted phone calls.”
[. . .]
[I]n in August . . . the FBI asked him for all information in his possession and for him to explain how the material had been gathered and to identify his sources. The former spy forwarded to the bureau several memos—some of which referred to members of Trump’s inner circle. After that point, he continued to share information with the FBI. “It’s quite clear there was or is a pretty substantial inquiry going on,” he says.
. . . newly obtained documents show that in the early 1990s, as he scrambled to stave off financial ruin, Mr. Trump avoided reporting hundreds of millions of dollars in taxable income by using a tax avoidance maneuver so legally dubious his own lawyers advised him that the Internal Revenue Service would most likely declare it improper if he were audited.
Thanks to this one maneuver, which was later outlawed by Congress, Mr. Trump potentially escaped paying tens of millions of dollars in federal personal income taxes.
William J. Clinton Foundation: This initial release consists of material from the FBI’s files related to the Will… https://vault.fbi.gov/william-j.-clinton-foundation …
Yes, you read that right. They tweeted out a link to a document dump today of mostly redacted records of a 15-year old inquiry into the Clinton Foundation and some insinuated link between President Bill Clinton’s pardon of Marc Rich and donations to the foundation.
Of course, they only released the initial summary of the inquiry and no actual resolution, leaving open the suggestion that either the investigation remains on the books, despite the fact that a Grand Jury was convened and apparently did not find any cause to proceed.
This is outrageous. There is something really wrong with the FBI right now. And I should add that FBI Director James Comey was an investigator on the original Marc Rich case, and retired Assistant Director James Kallstrom was the director of the New York office and a mentor to Comey. . . .
Please, please, please. Make calls to get out the vote in key states. Because if you think this is bad, imagine the FBI under a President Trump. If they’re rogue now, they’ll become his fascist army under him. We need a President and Congress who can clean house.
And finally, an able summation of the 2016 election season and its potential consequences by Paul Krugman:
Krugman has been riding high lately, and I couldn’t agree with this Tweetstorm more.
PS: Because of its length, this post is for both today and tomorrow. Have at it.