Tag Archives: Donald J. Trump

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Trump and Snoop Doggy Dog: “Bang” and the Second Amendment

Sunday, March 19, 2017

A recent video made by Snoop Doggy Dog includes an image of a gun being pointed at a figure with a Donald Trump mask: the word “Bang” comes out of the gun.

As an initial comment, there is little else to say than this video is completely unacceptable, as it currently stands, and deserves denunciation by anyone who wants to preserve a constitutional civility in this nation. Snoop Doggy Dog needs to have a serious talk with a lawyer about what is protected free speech.

On the other hand, if Snoop Doggy Dog had pointed the gun and had the words “Second Amendment” pop out of the barrel, we might have a very interesting artistic statement. For one thing, it would serve to remind us that Donald Trump himself has used a citation of the Second Amendment to indulge in a nod-and-wink comment that amounted to an assassination threat against Hillary Clinton. If Trump could toy with the Second Amendment to threaten the life of his opponent without any reprisal or public legal rebuke, why would a similar usage by Snoop Doggy Dog cause him to be treated any differently? Unfortunately, the video is already out.

Regardless of how Snoop Doggy Dog made his video, Trump’s threat remains a far more serious and permanent stain on the current discourse. Let there be no mistake about it. When Donald Trump casually dropped a suggestion, at a rally in Wilmington, North Carolina, in August, 2016, that the “Second Amendment people” could stop Hillary Clinton, anyone who understood the rhetoric of crude implication did not have to think very hard as to what Trump intended to underline with his body language: he meant that people could take the law into their own hands and assassinate her. Nor did his implications stop there. Was it not also implicitly a threat against the life of anyone supporting her? Why would anyone inspired by Trump’s alleged sense of humor stop with just HRC? Remember Ted Nugent’s call to action in 2012 to “chop their heads off in November”? Trump knew very well what he was saying and to whom he was speaking, and he needs to be reminded that he will continue to be held accountable for the “bang” that his words deliver.


And while we’re on the subject, let us remember that Trump’s dictatorial disdain for those who opposed him extended to Obama, too. As I pointed out last October 30 (and I reprint that post below), the entire nation saw a widely circulated image of President Obama with a lynch rope around his neck. Trump’s silence about that image equalled approval, and his refusal to denounce in no uncertain terms his extremist followers continues to be one of his few consistent traits. This has surfaced in particular in his reticence in speaking out against the numerous bomb threats against Jewish community centers in this country.

I’ll say it again because it cannot be said often enough: “Not everyone who voted for Trump is a racist, but every racist voted for Trump.” (Thank you, Michael Lally.) However, a video such as the one made by Snoop Doggy Dog is not going to transform the hearts and minds of those who voted for him. Of course, I doubt that what I have just written in today’s blog post will illuminate them, either.

What, then, is to be done?

* * * * *

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Darkness at the Center of Wisconsin



The story is that the fan was asked to remove the “offensive components” costume.

That’s all?

Why was the fan not immediately investigated for making a death threat against the President?

This is not a “costume,” but a death threat, and the specificity of advocating the execution of the President is made all the more clear by the fact that it is not the person wearing the costume whose hand is holding up the noose, but the arm of a person standing alongside the depiction of President Obama. In the photograph, an arm wearing a red sleeve juts into the air at an angle that can only mean that the white fist jerking the noose upwards belongs to another person. It is a blunt portrayal of a racist execution.

This is not an issue of free speech, which would include the right to wear a prison outfit with a mask of Obama, just as free speech includes the right to chant “Lock her up,” as Trump’s partisans do whenever Hillary Clinton’s name in mentioned. One may not like a message, but free speech allows messengers safe passage. Provocative and outrageous speech is protected by our Constitution. However, in depicting the execution of President Obama, the individuals at a football stadium in Wisconsin flagrantly transgressed the boundary of free speech.

Death threats are not free speech, especially in an image meant invoke the heyday of the KKK. Within the context of a newspaper associated with the KKK all but giving its straightforward endorsement to Donald Trump, this so-called costume represents crude propaganda at its most harrowing level.

If there is not at least a brief detention and interrogation of the fan and his “prop assistant” for making a death threat against President Obama, then it is fair to say that this costume represents the values of a cadre within the Secret Service; in this instance, the person in charge of the Secret Service has the obligation to act in a manner that proves otherwise.

I would note that a report that Secret Service conducted an investigation in an instance that involved a far less public venue.

Playing with Fire and an Obama Effigy

Why should this incident in Wisconsin be treated with any less seriousness?

The failure of University of Wisconsin officials to understand the gravity of the image is quite remarkable. Simply asking a person to remove the “offensive parts” of the costume represents a lack of courage in standing up to a bully. In making a statement that was nothing short of a death threat against the President, the person wearing the costume and his assistant forfeited their right to remain at the game and should have been removed from the stadium.

The University was probably afraid of being accused of censorship. There is an easy answer. The people were removed from the stadium in order to have their identities firmly established by police officials so that the Secret Service could begin their investigation.

Finally, we should all take note: the desire expressed by these two people in the football stands in Wisconsin is not limited to President Obama. First him, then his supporters. If anyone is so naïve to think that the two people who concocted this outfit will be satisfied with President Obama’s death, then they need to review 20th century history. As the poet Don Gordon said, “We are only on leave from Auschwitz.”

As a postscript that occurred to me a couple hours after posting this, I think it is fair to say that those who doubted the legitimacy of President Obama’s birth certificate would most likely be the ones inclined to defend this person’s advocacy of a Presidential death certificate as free speech. “If attacking one end of a life spectrum doesn’t work, then try the other extreme,” would seem to be their preference.

I do look forward to the conclusion of the current general election, and the chance to concentrate on books of poetry again. To neglect the havoc generated by a fascist with international ambitions would be an unforgivable omission on my part, however.

CORRECTION: The original post for this commentary mistakenly stated that the football game took place in Nebraska, whereas the University of Nebraska was playing a road game in Wisconsin.

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A New Year’s Sketch

January 1, 2017

I have only a little time this morning to jot a few quick notes, for Linda and I are heading to Ramona, California to visit her sisters and their families. We saw Anita and her grandson Brayden on the day after Christmas in Thousand Oaks, at Sharon Cleary’s home, but we haven’t seen Pam and Earl and her family in quite some time, and we are looking forward to the visit. I must admit that I feel nervous about the trip. My extended family has been involved in two serious automobile accidents in the past month, neither of which was their fault in any way. My mother handed in her driving license, at age 92, of her own volition and without any prompting whatsoever, because she said that she’d never been in any accidents during 70 years of driving and wanted to keep that perfect record. I doubt that many people in urban areas these days will be able to make the same claim at the end of this century.

I have a particularly challenging year awaiting my immediate attention: if I am up at 6:00 and writing my entry to this blog, it is because there is a long list of things to do to assist in my mother’s care. At this point, I am the one with power of attorney for a 95 year old woman. Each and every day there is some detail or a distinct errand to bear down on. Sometimes it is only a matter of luck that things get resolved. I was at my mother’s home branch of her bank in Imperial Beach this past Wednesday, and in talking with Ms. Hernandez I found out about a certain financial procedure, which two days later someone at my local branch of the bank in Long Beach said couldn’t be done. I suggested she call Ms. Hernandez, and the issue got resolved, but if I hadn’t visited my mother’s branch of the bank (over 100 miles from where I live) on Wednesday, I would have been out of luck in a very crucial matter on Friday.

I will be meeting with my brothers, Jim and John, later today to talk about my mother’s situation and what she can afford in terms of assisted care living. One other brother and two sisters are either cut off from the family or live elsewhere. There is a chance tomorrow that I will have a day without having to manage as aspect of my mother’s life. I have packed a couple of books to take with me, if that proves to be the case. One of them is James M. Cain’s Serenade, a novel about a down-and-outer in Mexico whose view of that nation and its citizens makes Donald Trump’s tweets seem diplomatically astute. I’ve long been a fan of Malcolm Lowery’s Under the Volcano; and Cain’s book in its own way is as equally well written. On a technical level, the control of tone and the rhythm of his sentence is masterful. Whether you want the narrator’s company for 200 pages is another matter. He certainly wins the Ancient Mariner award in my recent reading.

I hope to post reviews and commentary on several poets in the upcoming weeks, including Charles Harper Webb (in part three of a series on his editing and writing), Michael Hannon, and Kevin Opstedal. Opstedal’s collection of poems, Pacific Standard Time, is probably my favorite book of poems right now. I recommend that everyone get a copy of it right now and spend the first week of 2017 strengthening one’s imagination through an encounter with a poet who will enable you to alter the reality proposed by politicians and their compliant bureaucrats.

Finally, while we seek each other’s comfort in the struggles ahead, let us not forget that the divisions within this country are viewed as opportunities by nefarious individuals for their private profit. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by almost 3,000,000 votes. I had predicted a margin of almost 5,000,000 votes, so I was off considerably, but nevertheless this was not a close election, especially considering the Russian interference and complementary activism by agents within the Federal Bureau of Investigation. More people believed that Clinton was qualified to be President than Trump. That President-Elect Trump wants us to “move on with our lives” is a bit ridiculous, given his insistence on the need to investigate Hillary Clinton’s e-mail server.

Of the many concerns we should have about Trump, not least is his policy on nuclear weapons. That these weapons are intended to kill non-combatants, and in particular women and children, makes them immoral and evil beyond the reprehensible scale of ordinary war. If Trump does not care to remember what his advocacy of an increased number of these weapons means in regards to his moral well-being, then we will need to remind him in no uncertain terms that it is time for a reckoning with his conscience that cannot be tweeted away.

Ground Level Conditions Presidental Election

Trump’s Wall: Side One of Camp Hercules

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Trump’s Wall: Side One of Camp Hercules

News outlets have reported that a public school teacher has been suspended for comparing Trump to Hitler. While that comparison obviously struck public school bureaucrats as being a nasty rush to judgment, the teacher was hardly breaking ground within the public sphere. Given the radical tenor of Trump’s campaign, the teacher’s juxtaposition of Trump and Hitler is a reasonable mock-up that is a well-worn trope by now.

In point of fact, Trump will soon have at his immediate disposal enough weaponry to eradicate all human life on this planet, and he has not shown sufficient composure in dealing with infinitely less stressful situations to reassure me about his command of this weaponry. In an attempt to quell public panic, Trump said in a “60 Minutes” interview that his opponents “should not be afraid.”

I am not afraid.

I am terrified.

I’ll grant you that Hitler’s track record will be difficult to surpass. But let’s be honest about the planet’s prospects: Hitler’s scale of evil is likely to have serious competition in the next decade or two, and Donald J. Trump has fashioned himself into a viable candidate to join the parade of potential competitors. The appointment of Steve Bannon is hardly a disqualifying move. Maybe we will be lucky, though, and Trump’s term(s) of office will only be an extraordinary disaster, such as the one that occurred at the end of George W. Bush’s terms of office.

This is to say that Trump’s administration may not end up making “The Killing Fields” look like a Sunday school picnic. What’s the value in being unduly pessimistic? Maybe I’m completely overreacting. After all, I am hardly the best prognosticator in Los Angeles. I certainly was not able to foresee, for instance, the consequences of a previous instance of a President who lost the popular vote, but won the Electoral College. I remember watching the 2000 debates between Gore and George W. Bush. The latter seemed earnest and intelligent enough to serve as governor of Texas. In closely listening to him, though, I didn’t believe that he possessed the acuity needed to be president of the United States. He didn’t strike me as profoundly incompetent, however. How wrong I was.

By the end of his second term, the overwhelming majority of my fellow citizens felt equally chagrined. Indeed, we all know how his presidency turned out: the United States invaded Iraq, without sufficient justification. That invasion was based, in part, on a lie. Furthermore, should anyone wonder whether I am exaggerating the case against Bush, the prolonged reiteration of deceitful propaganda leading up to the war was quite clearly established when Bush argued retrospectively in the 2004 Presidential debates that “They (i.e., Iraq) invaded us.”

I knew things were hopeless in this country, in 2004, when nothing in the polls budged after that particular, egregious lie. The people who supported Bush did not care that Bush distorted the war’s justification with a total fabrication. In conflating Al-Queda with Iraq, Bush engaged in a sleight of hand that was nothing short of contributing to a criminal conspiracy to generate profits for the war industry in this country.

As for the financial calamity that spun like an apocalyptic tornado into the American economy near the end of Bush’s second term, let me be blunt and say that this is not some abstraction that stirs me to righteous anger on behalf of other people. It’s much more local than that, for the Great Recession destroyed my family’s economic well-being, and while it has partially recovered, it will remain a hampered, depressed situation until I die. It is permanent damage. Economically speaking, I will never walk again.

Trump is far less qualified, in both intelligence and experience, to be President than George W. Bush. When I consider how Bush’s eight years in office led to an economic and global political catastrophe, then how can I not be terrified at the outcome of an election resulting in a president-elect far inferior in the ability to govern?

Friends, as well as the ideologically invested media businesses of this country’s infrastructure, urge me to stay calm. Our ecological crisis, however, is at the tipping point, and the planet’s ability to sustain human civilization is no longer merely struggling to breathe. An all-out asthma attack will soon begin, and will no doubt contribute to the need of the Trump administration to distract the population through starting a war with an enemy well primed to be the “bad guy.” Trump, for instance, could easily find ways to put enough pressure on North Korea that its tenterhooks leadership will launch a missile with a nuclear bomb at the U.S. mainland. If that attack vaporized an American city, Trump would not give it a second thought other than its propaganda value. Oh, he would cry crocodile tears, but it would all be a perfidious show.

Trump is as phony a patriot as any con artist politician who has ever run for office. I have seen nothing from Trump that indicates he cares about his fellow citizens as being anything other than exploitable customers. If he is offered the chance to “cash in” several million disposable chips, he will take it. Even if Trump were given advance warning from national intelligence services, he would first consider the advantages of not lifting a finger to prevent it. From Trump’s point of view, the death of a couple million Americans in a sneak attack would just be the cost of doing business and giving America a chance to be “great” again.

I am terrified, and to pretend otherwise requires an act of unparalleled self-control. If you should meet me in person, do not mistake my mien for my inner state of equilibrium. The late poet Don Gordon was correct: “We are only on leave from Auschwitz.”

I have no doubt that James Comey is already assembling a list of names to be in the first round of citizens shipped off to a camp currently on the drawing boards at FBI headquarters. My guess is that the first part of the camp is being built to take advantage of another construction project proposed by Trump. This is to say that the first part of this camp is being built under the guise of a “wall” designed to close the Southwestern border between the United States and Mexico. Let no one imagine that walls cannot have two uses. Side one of the four sides needed to construct a concentration camp: soon in place. Only three sides needed to complete the job.
It will be named Camp Hercules as a tribute to the strength demonstrated by President Trump in defeating Hillary Rodham Clinton, whose initials are prominent in the camp’s name.

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No Longer “Secretly Waiting”: Election Spam

Sunday, October 23, 2016

No Longer “Secretly Waiting”: ELECTION SPAM (or why the Postal Service Is Grateful for Social Media)

After I found a parking spot in my neighborhood this past Wednesday, I noticed that the mail truck was one car behind mine. I hailed the postal worker and asked why she was still delivering mail so late in the day. “Did you have to cover another route today, too?” “Oh, no, it’s the election. I’ll be delivering mail til at least 7:00 p.m.”

As I walked to my rented residence, I thought of how workers at the Post Office must be grateful that social media has played an increasingly prominent role in recent elections. The Citizens United decision enabled even more money to flow into advertising revenue streams, and without social media the average postal delivery person would probably need a moving van to contain each day’s shipment of propaganda.

With barely more than a fortnight to go before the 2016 general election, the likelihood of Donald J. Trump becoming the next president has become a long-shot proposition. For the moment, a potential catastrophe has been averted, but it is only a temporary respite. Anyone who believes that Trump’s supporters will simply fade away and lose interest in politics is kidding themselves. One judicious reminder of the Trump Effect can be found in Adam Kirsch’s recent review of Volker Ullrich’s “Hitler: Ascent 1889-1939” (translated by Jefferson Chase; Alfred A. Knopf). Kirsch’s final sentences seem to be equally directed at the current political turbulence in the United States, in which one candidate openly decries his obligation to acknowledge the legitimacy of any process that does not result in his election.

“(I)n the end Germany decided to see Hitler just as he saw himself; the country matched his psychosis with its own. What is truly frightening, and admonitory, in Ullrich’s book is not that a Hitler could exist, but that so many people seemed to be secretly waiting for him.”

One aspect of social media that will help future historians recount a parallel development in the United States is how it reveals the transition between those who are “secretly waiting” and the open allegiance of public fanaticism. The first challenge, though, will be to preserve this material, since the electronic basis of these communications makes this material easily disposable. In the interests of preserving for future records one example of this election spam, I am posting an example of the appeals that are circulating within the ranks of those who are no longer “secretly waiting.” They are utterly unlikely to go back into hiding.

“Dear Fellow Lover of America,

“I am writing you because I trust you love this country as much as I do, and yearn for our government to restore the dignity of the Constitution. All Constitutions are not created equal, and the original Constitution of the United States is the best Constitution ever written. Unfortunately, over the past several decades, this original Constitution has suffered the equivalent of hacking by agents directed by the International Banking System. These setbacks, however, will soon stop, should we all come together and recognize the Hero in our midst. Donald J. Trump alone can save our Country, but it is up to us to anoint him. This is why I am asking you to join me in accepting his offer to become a Trump cardholder. On a personal level, I have to admit that this is what I have waited for ever since the mailman, in 1956, delivered my first “Magic Kingdom” card from the Mickey Mouse Club.

“That, however, was just a childhood fantasy. Now I have the chance to be part of a TRUE, GENUINE, ACTUAL “Magic Kingdom.” The TRUMP Black Card…. I’m …. I’m …. I’m at a loss for words. I am so grateful that our leader in the crusade against Crooked Hillary is never at a loss for words. Great words, in fact. Words so big and huge and chock-full of winning that all I have to do is to put this card in my wallet and I, too, discover…. well, in truth, I am not sure what will happen next, but I am sure it will be great.

“We just have to stand firm against the Liberal Media. Because they are the enablers. They have already rigged the election. It was rigged against Bernie Sanders. It was rigged against George McGovern. Real American heroes. They spoke out against the War, just like Trump did. And let me tell you, Trump is going to destroy ISIS. He is going to send them scurrying like rats to Aleppo. Which we know has already fallen. It’s toast. Like Crooked Hillary’s campaign to be president. And speaking of rats, we will take care of Paul Ryan afterwards.

“Forgive me for being so brief in praising our nation’s great fortune in having Trump as our next President. But it will take work. That’s why you need to join me in knocking on doors for the next two weeks and telling all those people with Hillary Clinton signs on their front lawns that they need to wake up and realize that they are voting for a LOSER. I can’t believe how many of these signs are popping up now. Where did all the Trump placards go? We know the answer to that question. Crooked Hillary has hired people (illegally here, of course) to steal our signs. Hey, they go low, we go lower. Let’s start by questioning the intelligence of the average Clinton voter. As I said, go lower.”

Lower and out,
Mike Rinse (Name changed to protect actual sender’s identity: any living person with this name is not to be confused with the author or disseminator of this message, which was not formally approved in any manner by the Donald J. Trump for President campaign.)