Thursday, December 24, 2015

A Wonderful Christmas Gift: Loving Where You Live, Living Where You Love, And A Hidden Garden In San Francisco

I got very tired posting about hatred during the Christmas Season, so here is my REAL Christmas sentiment.

The Gift That Makes A Difference in People's Lives.

Sometimes a gift can be for everyone and yourself at the same time. The garden I've planted/created for the people in our building (and now the whole complex of 3500 units) is like that. It helps give people joy, peace, serenity and cultivates a sense of wonder. 

Yes, it's spiritual: to the gardener as well as to the residents. It eschews secular meaning - humanist, yes, but not secular humanist. Not just a garden of pretty flowers and plants, but a space that draws the soul away from the rest of the world, closer to the Creator, into another, less troubled place.

Loving Where You Live

ParkMerced is a unique space in San Francisco with unique attributes - as well as unique problems. It is not considered "San Francisco": it has no "painted ladies", no hills, no homeless, no landmarks, no bars, no touristy attractions. Built in a 1948, it is a combination of small mock-Regency (read 50s) town homes set among minimalist concrete towers over 108 acres. It's "shopping center" is a strip mall consisting of one grocery*, a sports bar, a taqueria and a laundry. 

Oh, and a papa johns pizza. 

It is bordered by Lake Merced, SF State University and the freeway and because if its position, it is unfortunately tethered to MUNI's M metro line (M for "miserable"). Perched high enough for upper tower apartments to have a magnificent view of the ocean, the largest housing project west of the Mississippi touts its singularity. 

It's residents are a curious combination of students, elderly, a variety of ethnic groups with the emphasis on Chinese and Russian. At any given time, over 10,000 people live here, but the vast layout negates any form of city claustrophobia. 

Vegetation consists primarily of pine trees and "Pride of Madiera" echium. Visible fauna consists of residents' dogs (it is a rare dog heaven in San Francisco), coyotes, an occasional cat (so many indoors), a variety of birds including hawks, doves, seagulls, crows and a myriad number of sparrows. Invisible fauna consists primarily of underground gophers.

Pride of Madeira Echium

And individual plantings. 

Like mine. 

"It's not just a garden, it's a sanctuary, " said one neighbor. People meditate there. Kids come to see the echium-bush birdhouse and the "faerie portal". Some people start their mornings by gazing down on the hundreds of red acrylic rocks forming a glittering heart. 

The bejeweled Faerie Portal

Spurts of violence are rare, and it is a peaceful place where the exigencies of a conglomerate management and obscene cost of living are tolerated (those who have rent control are constantly suspicious of management that can get three times in rent from a new lessee).**

The management's talk of "quality of life" have been met with skepticism, but my own experience tending a (formerly unwarranted ) garden has been "we'd like to see more of that" and has bolstered my opinion.

"They're trying."

Living Where You Love - The Christmas Spirit All Year Round

It's not always easy to love where you live, you have to truly experience living your space and neighborhood with someone you love. The feeling at ParkMerced is more than live and let live. Even some of the students are (gasp!) courteous and acceptance of all lifestyles is the key. Gay couples are spread out among the ten towers. Same-sex couples are accepted, even welcomed. 

The motto of Good Will Toward Men is adhered to throughout the year.

Christmas in the garden is still a private affair known only to tower residents and, of course, the residents of the garden: the birds and spirits (in the form of "Faeries"). The gophers don't count; they are interlopers, opportunists that care only for lies beneath the ground. 

They have no aesthetics.

Peace and good will. One sadly aging Russian grandmother sits there for hours on end, the garden obviously giving her tranquil thoughts. Sometimes she talks to a friend - quietly, as if a raised voice would disturb the peace.

There is never an angry word heard near the garden. Children seem more respectful: this sanctuary has the power to quiet little ones.

The video below says much more about the Christmas spirit than mere words. The "Faeries" and their Portal will (hopefully) give you a "Merry Christmas" from the heart, and hope for a wondrous New Year.

* The grocery has instituted special meals for students and home-delivery for elderly customers.
**One may remember the immense problems I had in keeping my apartment here.

Season of Hating, Pt III: Have a Fred Phelps Kind of Christmas - Righteously Arrogant and Sublimely Ridiculous

A Facebook event called “The Quran Roast of D.C.” had appeared earlier in the week. “This is the day america must stand up against islam and the islamic immigration which is illegally being implemented on our nation,” the event’s description said.

The organizers had invited more than 2,000 people to the event, and given Republican frontrunner Donald Trump’s gross rhetoric against Muslims, and the crowds he’s been drawing, it seemed possible that a good number of them might actually show up.

But the 70-plus confirmed attendees turned out to be more like six men, most of them dressed like bikers, and one middle-aged woman.

Season of Hating II: Only Good Little Stores and Services Get Good Christian Money

Season of Hating, Pt 1: Giving Thanks for an Abundance of Bigotry, Phobias and Racism

Different Fruits of Abundance, Same Flavor: HATE

The Country of NO

While America's Grand Ole Party (GOP) has come to be known as the Party of NO, the same can be said about the country itself.

With the latest flap about Syrian refugees (half of whom are children), the country shows its xenophobia in the worst way. The NYT columnists DAVID D. LAITIN and MARC JAHR proposed a solution (Let Syrians Settle Detroit):

Detroit, a once great city, has become an urban vacuum. Its population has fallen to around 700,000 from nearly 1.9 million in 1950. The city is estimated to have more than 70,000 abandoned buildings and 90,000 vacant lots. Meanwhile, desperate Syrians, victims of an unfathomable civil war, are fleeing to neighboring countries, with some 1.8 million in Turkey and 600,000 in Jordan.

Suppose these two social and humanitarian disasters were conjoined to produce something positive.

But conservatives like Ann Coulter will have none of it: 

"The New York Times Prefers Syrian Refugees Over Black Americans" 

This is the same Ann Coulter who once said "America is the world's most compassionate country."*

The Syrian crisis shows the world that "compassion" is no longer America's middle name.

The Numbers of Crisis and Compassion.

  • 12 million Syrians have fled their homes because of conflict;half are children.
  • 4 million Syrians are refugees; most are in Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan.
  • Children affected by the Syrian conflict are at risk of becoming ill, malnourished, abused, or exploited. Millions have been forced to quit school.
  • More than 700,000 Syrian refugees and other migrants risked their lives this year to travel to Europe.
And we can't won't take in 70,000. 

If the hysteria over refugees has a recent ring to it, consider the plight of Central American Children:

(CNN July 16, 2014)
Earlier this month in Murrieta, busloads of babies in their mothers' laps, teens, 'tweens and toddlers were turned back from a detainee facility.
They were met by screaming protesters waving and wearing American flags and bearing signs that read such things as "Return to Sender."
What's In The Past Cannot Stay In The Past

Recent history (past 100 years**) may be the best view of America's "No!" problem: Chinese Americans, Japanese Americans, Latino and Mexican Americans, African Americans, Native Americans, gay Americans have all felt the sting of intolerance. Communities have killed and battered them while Congresses have rallied against them. Those communities that have given them acceptance, solace and sanctuary (like my city, San Francisco) have been pilloried by Right Wing interests. Pulpits (albeit manned by steadfast Fundamentalist pastors) have demonized them to the point that showing any acceptance labeled a church "heretical" in that it didn't conform to strictly conservative view (read: biblical literalism).

In other words, bigotry, racism, xenophobia (and other phobias as well) are still with us, and our socio-religious-political interests are still fueling them. And while "Return To Sender" attitudes have not been extremely violent, the day may come when violence, to some, may be the only option in exercising their right to hate. 

Abundance vs Abundance

Regardless of all the hatred, the intolerance and the sheer mean-spiritedness brought out of America by people on the Right, America still has an abundance of good to be thankful for. The problem, as some see it, is that the leaders making it a "Country of No"are very greedy, reserving that goodness, that compassion for its own and relatively select few: "we have an abundance of freedoms, powers, money, services and goods - but only for us." 

Only for us. 

* Yes, ironic coming from a woman who constantly refers to herself as a "mean-spirited bitch" and who, when it comes to compassion and charity, makes Scrooge look like a combination of Mother Theresa and Santa Claus.

Season of Hating

Just had to post these three articles today, to remind people that Christmas is about Love and not what these people practice.

50 Chumasero Memorial Garden Christmas

Monday, October 19, 2015

An Embarrassment of "Churches". When "Christian" Is Blasphemous, Senseless ... and Violent.

And there are more of these "churches" than we know.

David Bromley, professor of religious studies and director of the World Religions and Spirituality Project at Virginia Commonwealth University, said there are thousands of similar small, independent Christian churches around the country. They're typically very conservative, following a very strict fundamentalist theology with a literal interpretation of the Bible.

"Every now and then, one pops up that has gone awry," Bromley said. "That's statistically not shocking because there are so many of them."

This article is relatively short ... but not sweet.

It is a story right out of cult lore: a tightly knit group has been arrested in the death of a member of the "church" who was called in for "spiritual counseling." Pictures of the assailants have gone viral ... and they look positively guilty.

On Sunday night, an ultra-secretive New York church turned into a living hell. Two teenage brothers were brutally beaten—one of them to death—by their own family members and fellow church-goers who wanted them to “confess” to their sins, authorities say.

Police charged the boys’ parents with manslaughter and four other participants with assault in the chilling incident that killed Lucas Leonard, 19, and left his 17-year-old brother, Christopher Leonard, in serious condition.

All the people charged have pleaded "not guilty".

The beatings lasted fourteen hours.

"Not guilty."

The purpose of the intervention was to have Lucas and Christopher confess to sins: one for sexual molestation of a minor (police later found no evidence of such misconduct) and one for attempting to leave the church.

"Not guilty."

Deborah Leonard - mother of Lucas and Christopher - said that although she herself administered some of the blows to Lucas, she was powerless to intervene later on.

"Not guilty."

Tarnishing Christianity

In 1992, Bishop John Shelby Spong (Episcopal) wrote Rescuing The Bible From Fundamentalism. He followed that book up with The Sins of Scripture: Exposing The Bible's Texts of Hate to Reveal the God of Love. He was, of course, pilloried by the Christian Right for these books, but to many, he brought forth a sense of reason and (perhaps) a new sin: using Scripture as a basis for a violent righteous arrogance.

The Word Of Life Christian Church is but one of many so-called "Christian" churches tarnishing the image of a loving religion. Fred Phelps' Westboro Baptist Church was one such Fundamentalist church run by a dictatorial pastor, a church which other Christians across the country were forced to distance themselves from. It was Phelps' bravado that brought attention to it. But other like churches are more hidebound and secretive.

The Fundamentalism of Bruce and Deborah Leonard and their pastor, Jerry Irwin,  was so extreme, it isolated them from the rest of the community. Eventually their neighbors looked upon the "church" as a cult. Their leader, Pastor Jerry Irwin, had gained a reputation as a vengeful, demeaning man who even claimed - in sermons - that people from the congregation had lusted after his wife.

"Spiritual Cannibalism"

One ex-member, Nathan Ames, described the decline of the church:

"Many left after realizing that he was a narcissistic psychopath," Ames wrote in the letter. "The few that stayed were slowly lied to and manipulated into believing Jerry was called from God to 'control' their lives – filling their minds with outlandish stories that were for the most part fabricated."

He described the trajectory of the church as "spiritual cannibalism."

Are Charismatic Leaders The Problem?

From all accounts, the Word of Life Christian Church has changed from a loving, energetic church to a controlling entity that engendered fear. Many people say that the Leonards were never like the people they see today.

So was it strictly Jerry Irwin's fault that Bruce and Deborah Leonard became so violent in their attitude towards others? Is following a charismatic psychopath a choice? After all,  Quran-burning Terry Jones still has a following even though he was kicked out by his own congregation (and Germany) for being too controlling. Will the Leonards (and the other four) base their "not guilty" on Irwin's (and currently his daughter's) hold on them? 

The testimony of young Christopher Leonard may hold the key as to how all this came about and about how Irwin's cult managed to call itself "Christian."

Monday, September 14, 2015

My Quest As A Renaissance Man

Here the list of things I have done in my life. It is certainly a partial one, proving only that a writer of religion and politics has to know a little about many things and have many rewarding (and not so rewarding) experiences.

Pianist (American Conservatory of Music)
Go-go dancer (stripping at SF's infamous End Up)
Claims Adjudicator (Social Security)
High School Teacher (speech, music, drama)
Book publisher (Strawberry Hill Press, Strictly Books, Inc.)
Book Publicist
Broadcaster (Strictly Books, Talk America Radio)
Retail window dessign
Set design
Blogger/writer on religion and politics, homosexuality
Reference books for such (including the Bible): 130
Author (autobiography)
Client Intake Volunteer (AIDS Emergency Fund)
Promotions Executive (Board of Directors, AIDS Emergency Fund
Tutor (k-10 - Winner of the Jefferson Award for Community Service)
Caregiver and medicinal assistant (8 years, patient with skin, anal and liver cancers)
Chef (avocation - specialties: creme brulee, boef bourgignon, svitkova [Czech], kolacky [Czech], puff pastries)
San Francisco history reporter
Historian (avocation - English and European history)
Trivia Raconteur (avocation)
Husband to the greatest man in the world

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

No Class. No Compassion. No Brains. The "Take Us Seriously" Circus Mocks America and God

What a waste of the public's time. So when will they let us get down to serious business?

Probably never.

I've often said that while you can take away any of America's rights, you cannot take away its right to be entertained. Politicians know that. And that's why politicians - the intelligent ones - make a point of being entertaining. The unintelligent ones don't have to work at it: they're naturals.

But there comes a point when the entertainment becomes mockery. It might seem to be a form of self-parody, but really, it's not. It's just...


Huffington Post (Geoffrey Dunn) nailed it:

Donald Trump is many things -- a demagogue and a pompous blowhard, a braggart and a race baiter -- but in the end, he's nobody's fool, except perhaps his own. Thus, his recent lauding of Sarah Palin and his hiring of her former Chief of Staff reveal that Trump's campaign for the presidency is, ultimately, more of a circus act than it is a serious endeavor for the White House. If Trump were really serious, he'd be keeping the quitter governor at bay.
Sarah Palin has responded to Trump's flattery with flattery of her own: 
Palin penned an op-ed Friday for the conservative Breitbart news site, slamming Trump's critics and writing that "The elites are shocked by Trump's dominance, but everyday Americans aren't."
"Trump diagnoses our problems as incompetent leadership. Who can argue with that? How many politicians promised to secure our borders? So, why aren't they secured?" Palin wrote.
Now Ann Coulter, the queen of mockery and derision, has jumped on the Trump train:

Coulter (at Eagle Forum’s Collegian Summit:

I would like to be the head of Donald Trump’s Homeland Security,” Coulter said, adding, “I’ll get it all done before breakfast” because she “could kind of guess who the criminals are going to be at least 50 percent of the time.”
And, of course, on immigration:
“We’re assimilating you, you’re here and you’re going to be an American. There will be no celebration of Cinco de Mayo, there will be no Ramadan, in fact there won’t even be a Feast of the Immaculate Conception – we are an Anglo-Protestant country, and you will learn about the Battle of Valley Forge.”
In her typical, backhanded way, Coulter got a dig into previous generations of immigrants, saying they were more suitable because: “people proved their heartiness [sic] to get here by vomiting all the way across the Atlantic Ocean.”

In other words, she managed to mock my grandmother who came across the Atlantic from (the old) Bohemia on the Kaiser Wilhelm Der Grosse.* 

She sidestepped the sentiment of the Statue of Liberty's "Give me your tired, your poor ..." Desperation to survive fueled these immigrants just as much as today's, but Coulter wants you to know that GOOD immigrants come here to enthusiastically remake themselves in Coulter's image (!?!). 

The Mockery Of The 4Rs

By relegating "everyday Americans" to the rednecks, rubes and the religious right (the 4Rs), Palin, Trump and Coulter are mocking America in a way that shows their disingenuousness. The 4 Rs care nothing for other mindsets, religions or cultures in the way that America was meant to. In fact, the three are so horribly contentious when it comes to foreign relations (and cultures) that they mockingly glorify the "ugly American" with his crude attitude and imperiousness. The "voice" that they give to "America's dissatisfied and disenfranchised" is merely a show of contempt for everything and everyone not "true blue" American (read: WASP).

Trump in particular plays upon the gullibility of the 4Rs with his dazzling display of ostentation, and America looks the more foolish for allowing his ostentation to become a selling point in his bid for the Presidency. He's playing the billionaire counterpart of Lonesome Rhodes, with loud snippets of rage mixed with matter-of-fact "wisdom" and "honesty" - a facade that paints middle America as a country devoid of sophistication (such as his). 

It's a publicity ploy that has worked in the past, and Trump may be laughing that America has little memory of Lonesome Rhodes-like manipulators. 

Trump and God

The circus trio flies in the face of God's tenets of Faith, Hope and Charity.

 I think religion is a wonderful thing. I think my religion is a wonderful religion. 

That seems to sum up Trump's faith: no specifics, no hard stances (he's waffled on abortion), no profundities. He goes to church "when he can" (evidently God knows he's busier than God).

Trump, The Philanthropist is also a joke: his contributions to charity are so convoluted that it seems the money goes back to Trump himself. The charities he supposedly donates to, by the way, are not very faith-based, giving the lie to his support of religion. The Christian Right conveniently overlooks his Scrooge attitude because it sees in Trump a wedge for "social conservative" issues like same-sex marriage. 

And, just like prosperity gospel preachers, Trump's lifestyle promotes greed on the basest level.

Coulter's Christianity

Ann Coulter, the uber-Christian (in her eyes) mocks God through her righteous arrogance. Her eschatology:
She then mocked "the message of Jesus...according to liberals", summarizing it as "something along the lines of 'be nice to people,'" which, in turn, she said "is, in fact, one of the incidental tenets of Christianity". 
Incidental enough for Coulter to mock people, make them miserable, and still go to heaven apparently. 

Her attitude towards evangelism is one of bludgeoning non-believers (especially Jews - she calls it "perfecting" them) into conversion and if gunpoint is needed, so be it. Coulter's religion is one of the Queen Isabella/Thomas de Torquemada kind: believe what I believe or be tortured or kicked out of "Ann Coulter's America."

The Clueless Christian Opportunist

As with everything she attempts, Sarah Palin doesn't know that her actions are mocking anyone or anything: her "Christmas" book (along with her upcoming book of "meditations") only serves as a reminder that Sarah Palin is a struggling opportunist of the Tea Party variety, grabbing at snippets of the spotlight with religion as a prop.

The woman who was "blessed" publicly by a visiting witch hunter never seems to know just how her very mention of religion is an affront to reasoning people ... and God. Her devotion to God is just as shallow as Trump's and Coulter's - she just doesn't know it.

Is It A Race Or A Cartoon?

The run for President has always been entertaining: it is an intense debate of issues, a series of political attacks, a scrutiny of personal lives all rolled into one enormous (and overly long) stream of consciousness presented to voters. It strives for some sort of decorum but rarely achieves it. But through it all, the voters hope that the candidates are at least somewhat sincere. 

Let's face it - the Trump circus train is anything but sincere: with people like Palin and Coulter pandering to a publicity-starved billionaire, sincerity becomes a non-issue, sidestepped by shallow bombast. These three know for a fact that they will never make a significant dent in the scheme of the race. The talk of a third-party syphoning enough votes to skew the election has been rendered moot during the years. These three are poking, prodding the electorate for fun.

Not nice, but then look at them:

Trump. Palin. Coulter. The future of America. You could laugh yourself sick with the very idea of them together trying to cure America's ills. But they do get attention, so I guess the laugh's on us. They are sincere ... in their

* In 1911, this was the largest immigrant ship afloat. My grandmother never talked about the horrors of Ellis Island, the "heartiness" inflicted on immigrants which would make Coulter proud. She came here to get married - at the age of 15 - to someone she didn't know. She signed the ship's manifest "Mrs. Frank Vojir" (illegally). In her own way, however, she eventually got back at the misogyny that prompted her crossing:
"He said I was only good for cooking and cleaning and taking care of young Frank. He had woman on the side. Then when I got what you call, ah, tuberculosis, he sent me and Frank to go live back on the farm in Plzen. He gave me tree tousant dollars to live for three years without to work. He did not know that I knew how to play - how you say - black market. Woman who was only good for cooking and cleaning came back with tirty-five hundred dollars. Then I divorce him."
(taken from the play, The Two Mrs. M's, by Dan Vojir)

Monday, August 3, 2015

Sanctuary Cities Are Necessary - But For Whom?

Sanctuary. It means to be in the midst of a safe haven where no one can castigate you, criminalize you, harm you. In no other form of media has the word been so emotionally charged than in Charles Laughton's The Hunchback of Notre Dame (indeed, it was the first thing that came to my mind when thinking of the word). 

Please view this 4-minute clip before reading my puny thoughts on the matter of sanctuary cities.

It is ironic that an accused "witch" is given sanctuary, while today's Christian Right is asking to have "Sanctuary Cities" established so that they can practice as much bigotry as possible while excoriating cities that give succor to illegal aliens.

Likening the fight against Obergefell v. Hodges to that of the fight against Dred Scott v. Sandford, Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver wondered aloud on Christian radio last week why there aren’t any “sanctuary cities” that protect people from abortion and gay marriage like they do for “illegal aliens.”

And on the other side of the coin:

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a 2016 GOP presidential candidate, is calling on mayors of sanctuary cities to be arrested as accomplices to the crimes illegal aliens receiving special treatment in their cities commit.

From The Daily Beast:
In the immigration debate, sanctuary cities are unicorns, mermaids, and Bigfoot all wrapped into one. 
Of course, it all started in San Francisco:

The rationale for the policy was that if an illegal immigrant was arrested on a non-immigration offense, and there was no federal warrant, local authorities could use their discretion to decide whether to alert their neighborhood office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

But, in the last 26 years, San Francisco’s sanctuary policy has been repeatedly modified and become less lenient. These days, local law enforcement will hand over to federal immigration agents undocumented immigrants who haven’t even gone before a judge.

So the Christian Right hates mythical sanctuary cities, but loves the idea of actual sanctuary cities for themselves.

Looking at the Hunchback clip again, something is very definitely wrong when it comes to today's idea of sanctuary ... and who should be given sanctuary.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Huckabase: Control of His Flock Is Slowly (Poof!) Disappearing.

One of the reasons that Christian Fundamentalism is on the wane may be that people have become tired of its "socially conservative" leaders. "Personality" may mean a lot to the American electorate, but dogmatism chips away at "personality" and leaves political (and even spiritual) supporters looking elsewhere for leadership. 

The "flock" thins out.

It has long been believed that sheep are very very dumb creatures. Actually, they are not, but from a human perspective, their flocking instinct (used for survival against predators) looks very stupid - tending to follow another sheep anywhere, even into dangerous, irrational territory.

"Feed my lambs, feed my sheep" has become a common metaphorical rule for pastors worldwide, but when looked at closely from a human standpoint, it becomes a tool to incite tyranny over others. In other words, a pastor must CONTROL his flock - and every aspect of it. In Biblical times, unfortunately (for sheep), sheep were considered dumb, the dumbest being the one that struck out on his own, because he had no cognizance of what might lay ahead of him. A shepherd usually wouldn't go after it, because leaving the flock alone might make it vulnerable to predators. In other words, individuality in the flock was frowned upon.The lone sheep was a pariah. Sound familiar?

Much of Christian Fundamentalism is concerned with control: if a pastor told his "flock" that not everything in the Bible is to be taken literally, there can be a loss of control. Literal interpretation of the Bible is paramount in keeping people in line. Absolute, God-written, control.

"God said it. I believe it. That settles it."

Huckabee The Lousy Shepherd

The bottom line? In a look further down the list, the contender who appears to be losing ground in Iowa is Mike Huckabee. He’s at only 5 percent in the new Quinnipiac poll, down from 11 percent in a comparable May survey. That sort of makes sense: Mr. Huckabee’s God, grits, and gravy populism isn’t that far off Trump’s anti-immigrant and bellicose positions.

In calling for civil disobedience to same-sex marriage, Huckabee virtually fenced in his flock. In supporting Josh Duggar in his scandal, he alienated them. His mild condemnation of Trump divided his flock. He did everything he could to make his flock vulnerable. 

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Trump Bump - To The Extreme Right. Will It Last?

Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump

Exposure may be the key to the Donald Trump polls, but even more indicative to the numbers is the plethora of people running against him: latest count, 16. So, in a sense, it matters not that he is leading a pack of conservatives, but only that he has a handle on 15% of the GOP - for now.

It may be a severe case of xenophobia. Or admiration for trumped up power (sorry). Or a warped interpretation of a Rambo Jesus (Robert Jeffress, see below). Whatever the reason fueling the Trump Train, it's bound to sicken America: America has never suffered a case of xenophobia like this since 9/11. America has nevered lowered its standards for admiration quite like this. America has never pictured Jesus as a brash bully. 

Xenophobia Reigns!

As she has said in her book, Adios, America: "Immigration is how the Left decided to punish America." This is rabid xenophobia cloaked as patriotism. Coulter even has even been interviewed with an "Ann Coulter's America" banner for a show. It doesn't matter that Ann Coulter bashes everyone in "her" country but the worst xenophobes and racists (she once defended the CCC, the group Dylann Roof stated was his inspiration).

Coulter, of course, thinks Trump the best candidate for President because of his stance on immigration. She has never said what kind of job he would do on any other issues: his bullying attitude and total lack of statesmanship, for example, would disqualify America for any peace talks or foreign negotiations. Cowboy diplomacy didn't work for Bush and it certainly wouldn't work for someone like Trump.

Bigger! Better! More Gilding!

Trump's sense of power as opposed to real power has always been circumspect: his power is much less than that of the Wizard of Oz. Instead of "Pomp and Circumstance," his persona is more reminiscent of Billy Flynn in Chicago singing "Give 'em the ole razzle-dazzle." People who prize clown paintings on black velvet only know that Trump has billion$ and is seemingly successful with a bootstraps philosophy.

Reality check: Trump's worth is far lower that the $9 billion he says (current estimates at $4.1 billion). He has filed for corporate bankruptcy in 1991, 1992, 2004 and 2009. He was born into a well-to-do family and has never known what it's like to be middle class, much less poor: his father built a real estate empire through government financing programs as a result of FDR's New Deal.* In other words, his bootstraps were attached to silver spoons. 

Let's hope his fan base notices when the gilding wears off.

The Christian Right Is Right!

If Pope Francis is a pariah in the immigration debate to the Christian Right, then Trump is its Golden Boy. Furthermore, he shows only the faintest patina of compassion:
On Friday Trump introduced grieving relatives and declared: 'People came into the country illegally and killed their children. The illegals come in and the illegals kill their children.
Using victims' families as shameless political props is not compassion, but exploitation. But since his compassion is not the same kind as the progressive "bleeding heart" sanctuary churches, pastors like Robert Jeffress support Trump unequivocally: churches protecting immigrants following "Jesus of their imagination." Jesus, you see, said to render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's (apparently forgetting that his church does not pay taxes). He was also a lot more than "meek and mild", rarely ever spoke of love and looked a lot like Silvester Stallone. Jeffress stopped short of calling Trump the Second Coming, but he put his imprimatur on Trump nonetheless. 

The 15%

So the 15% in GOP polls is comprised of xenophobes ala Ann Coulter, poor Tea-Partiers bedazzled by wealth and the Christian Right who doesn't like anyone coming into the States who can't give to their churches. 

This is a number that will dissolve as time goes by, but the hilarity will be thoroughly enjoyed (see David Letterman's latest Top 10).


Trump was born in New York City in 1946, the son of real estate tycoon Fred Trump. Fred Trump’s business success not only provided Donald Trump with a posh youth of private schools and economic security but eventually blessed him with an inheritance worth an estimated $40 million to $200 million. It is critical to note, however, that his father’s success, which granted Donald Trump such a great advantage, was enabled and buffered by governmental financing programs. In 1934, while struggling during the Great Depression, financing from the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) allowed Fred Trump to revive his business and begin building a multitude of homes in Brooklyn, selling at $6,000 apiece. Furthermore, throughout World War II, Fred Trump constructed FHA-backed housing for US naval personnel near major shipyards along the East Coast.

Editing Saint Sarah: Give The Guy A Gun To Shoot Himself

Yes, she's gone and written another pseudo-book, in pseudo-literary style. She had to, you see, because she is, after all, the gift that keeps on giving to late night talk show hosts and snarky writers like me. 

And yes, it's a "devotional." 
Joining the ranks of St. Theresa of Avila (The Way Of Perfection), The Book of Common Prayer, The Oxford Book of Prayer, and  Coffee With Jesus, Sarah Palin is penning one of the most noteworthy (if not collectable) inspirational books of modern times.  
That's how a fevered, overworked publicist might promote Sarah Palin's new book, Sweet Freedom: a Devotional, but a publicist less prone to use such overheated hyperbole just came up with this: 
Palin's book will include 260 meditations that use "biblical principles" to tackle contemporary issues, including economics, debt, social justice, marriage, parenting, human trafficking and more. 
The future publicist, however, may not have as much of a problem as Mrs. Palin's editor (or fleet of editors). Dealing with her, her commandment that absolutely nothing be edited in the first place because everyone wants to hear her unvarnished wisdom, her innovations ("Will the book light up? I read something about illuminated manuscripts.") and her insistence that God told her to write whatever she wanted. 

We can only guess what the editor has to struggle with. For example, the "list of meditations" might include:

I Can See God From My House
Meditating On The Divinity  Of A Mooseberger
The Bridge To Nowhere Was Really A Bridge To Somewhere In My Mind
Immaculate Conception Be Thou My Goal
Abstinence Is Not Only A Virtue, But A 
Divine Propaganda
and ...
The God-Given Brawl

And interspersed between these deep thoughts are Mrs. Palin's insights are absolutely de riguer on the matters of:

Economics: "Good economics starts at home - that's why every woman should take home economics courses in school." 

Marriage: "Children are the product of marriage. but marriage is not the product of children, unless there's a shotgun involved." 

Social Justice: "Whatever Glenn Beck hates"

Human trafficking: "It needs stoplights". 

Parenting: "Good parenting can't happen without good cash - and lots of it."

Before we take up a collection for the poor editor's psychiatry and hospital bills, we 
need to remind him/her that their profession was chosen - they were not born that way and they can choose to opt out of the project any time they want. 

I think I heard a door slam at Regnery.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Latest Blasphemy of Sarah Palin

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Sarah Palin has a new book coming out, with a new publisher.
Regnery Publishing, a conservative press based in Washington, D.C., announced Tuesday that it was planning a November release for Palin's "Sweet Freedom: A Devotional." The book, Palin's fourth, will feature 260 "meditations" that apply "biblical principles" to contemporary issues.
The former Alaska governor and GOP vice-presidential candidate published her other books, notably the million-selling "Going Rogue," through HarperCollins. Her most recent work, "Good Tidings and Great Joy: Protecting the Heart of Christmas," came out in 2013.

Regnery Has always been a bastion of Christian Right thinking, but THIS?

What does Regnery have against thinking Christians? I pray for the poor editor who had to literally put it together!

Monday, July 6, 2015

All American Trump: Stranger In A Strange Land

From The Ugly American, by Eugene Burdick and William Lederer:

"For some reason, the [American] people I meet in my country are not the same as the ones I knew in the United States. A mysterious change seems to come over Americans when they go to a foreign land. They isolate themselves socially. They live pretentiously. They are loud and ostentatious."
Sound like anyone we know who's running for President?

Donald Trump seems to live in a foreign land, a land he does not really know, yet thinks he knows it implicitly. His bombast is aimed at that portion of Americans - the white, lower middle class wage earner who thinks that any man who says he's worth $6 billion is actually worth $6 billion. "The Apprentice" reality TV star and casino real estate mogul has so much to offer! In other words, Trump's base is most of the people who watch - and believe - Fox News.
"Trump, who believes that excess can be a virtue, is as American as Manhattan's skyline," wrote George Will. Of course, that was in the "greed is good" 80s. Trump's brand of Americanism is not as well respected today.

How well does Trump know America? He may know its crudeness, but not its sensitivities. He may know its bootstraps mentality, but not its compassion for the downtrodden. He may know its excesses, but not necessities.

He may know - and count on - some of its gullibility, but not its skepticism.

Banking On The Gullibility Factor

But Trump is second in the national polls! How can that be? Perhaps it's the gullibility factor that helped elect George W. Bush to a second term. But whereas half of America was blinded by shallow patriotism, right-wing voters are blinded by bravado.


Sean Hannity should know, since he shares that bravado: “Donald Trump is telling a truth that you cannot stand. …Donald Trump is right!” His defense of Trump's "Mexican Rapist Speech" as it is could be called, is a show of solidarity for Trump's lack of knowledge of America. Hannity is no stranger to the kind of arrogance that makes up an ugly American.*

"The Republican clown car finally has a driver"

The bravado of Trump - the persona of a chest-thumping martinet - has begun to wear thin: his "who's doing the raping?" interview with CNN's Don Lemon proved to be nothing more than a shout back to a legitimate question.** And his "proof" - a woman in San Francisco killed by an illegal immigrant in what is described as a "random act of violence" - only proves that The Donald will shamelessly exploit just about anything for his kind of stereotyping.

His insistence that he and only he can secure the border, he and only he can create more jobs, he and only he can defeat ISIS will ultimately bore the American public who will hear his bloviations mocked repeatedly on late night shows.

Jay Dupless:
PLEASE let Don King be Trump's running mate!

And the DNC chimed in:

"Today, Donald Trump became the second major Republican candidate to announce for president in two days," DNC national press secretary Holly Shulman said in a statement. "He adds some much-needed seriousness that has previously been lacking from the GOP field, and we look forward to hearing more about his ideas for the nation."

Seth Meyers was way ahead of the game at a previous White House Correspondence Dinner (note Trump's stoic, humorless profile)

Bombast For President

How far will Trump's ego go on the campaign trail? Will it ever demure to serious questions? Will it ever address criticisms with anything but pompous anger? Will it admit to shortcomings? The fact that the answer is "No!" to all of these means that Trump will continue to entertain like some street lunatic screaming at a wall.

A wall he doesn't even know is there.

*Remember when Andrew Cuomo said that anti-gay conservative extremists had no place in New York, Hannity declared that he would leave. Jon Stewart of the Daily Show produced one of the best of mock pleas for Hannity not to leave ending with Nathan Lane saying, "Honestly, Sean, we don't give a f*ck what you do."

** Trump's statistics - a Fusion article that stated up to 80% of women coming into the U.S. from Central America have been victims of rape - had nothing to do with illegal immigrant crime.