Down Down Down

This was a very bad week for Donald Trump … but a worse one for the USA. Can you believe it? We actually have a white supremacist/neo-Nazi sympathizer in the White House.

And I’m afraid that things are going to get worse. Much worse.

I really don’t like to think about or write about Trump, but there he is – this huge FACT in all our lives that cannot be ignored. I want to work on my novel and escape into Art. But that really doesn’t work.

Trump’s racism has a long, blatant history: his housing discrimination suit in the 1970s, his race-baiting of the DNA-exonerated Central Park Five, his birtherism, the Muslim Ban, his vile attacks on immigrants, minorities, a judge with Mexican heritage, a Muslim Gold Star family, etc., not to mention his father Fred Trump’s history of racist beliefs and actions including an arrest at a KKK demonstration in New York in 1927. But Tuesday’s press conference where he called some of the KKK/white supremacist/neo-Nazi marchers in Charlottesville “very fine people” might have been a tipping point.

As horrible as the GOP has been for the past forty years, Trump’s open acceptance of bigotry wasn’t just the usual Republican dog-whistle (Ronald Reagan’s “I believe in states’ rights” in Philadelphia, Mississippi, on August 3, 1980, or the first Bush’s “Willie Horton” ads, or Fox News’ take-down of ACORN, etc.), it was an attempt by an American president to normalize extremism and race-based hatred.

And this time, he might have gone too far.



What Trump said was so toxic that two of his business councils (his Strategy and Policy Forum and Manufacturing Council) dissolved before his eyes. And these were supposedly his people -- because what did Trump sell himself to the American people as if not a “businessman” who could bring direction and decisive action to logjammed Washington. Now corporate leaders don’t want to even be in the same room with him.

Of course, Trump’s actual record as a businessman is deeply-deeply-deeply flawed. The only thing that he has been really good at is self-promotion. (After all, he self-promoted himself into the presidency.)

As I said a million times, if Trump were so rich and so successful (and honest), why couldn’t he show the country his tax returns? And he still can’t show them. Is he a liar (about his real worth) … or a crook (concealing his shady dealings) … or both? If the GOP had been tougher on him during the nomination cycle, they could have driven him out of the race, but they were too cowardly to attack him and too lazy to dig into his past and do some real opposition research into his past. What kind of a person engages in 3,500 lawsuits? That’s just not normal. But there aren’t many big brains left in the Republican party; unfortunately, they have most of the power.

Newsweek had an absolutely stunning history of Trump’s business ventures. The verdict: “… while Trump has had a few successes in business, most of his ventures have been disasters.” From Trump steaks, Trump vodka, and Trump University to the lawsuits, lost contracts, bankruptcies, defaults, deceptions and indifference to investors, Trump brought a history of arrogance and recklessness to the Oval Office. He never had a board of directors or shareholders to answer to, and he fucked up a lot.


Trump is now such a pariah that he had to agree not to appear at the Kennedy Center Honors. Already two honorees – Norman Lear and Carmen de Lavallande – have indicated that they were going to pass on the White House reception. No one of any decency wants to be associated with him any more.

As I’ve said many times before, the reason that Trump got the Republican nomination is that the GOP is the party of clowns, and Trump is the biggest clown. He won because he seemed to be the candidate of change, and Hillary represented the status quo. She never really projected her own vision of the future, just more Obama. And don’t forget; she won the popular vote by three million. He won the election through the flawed Electoral College process, with the help of a hostile foreign power. Not exactly a mandate.

The GOP used to keep extremists – the John Bircher Society, the Human Events wing – the real nuts of the party, under wraps. Now, after three decades of Rush and Fox News and Alex Jones and 5,000 right-wing radio stations around the country, the nuts are in control. They are the mainstream Republican party. (Again, going back to roots, Fred C. Koch, father of Charles and David Koch, funders of a lot of the right-wing political garbage of the last thirty years – the Cato Institute, the Federalist Society, ALEC, the Tea Party, Scott Walker, etc., etc. -- was a CO-FOUNDER of the John Birch Society.)

Let’s see what happens when the Congress comes back after summer recess. The GOP establishment may not like Trump’s rhetoric, but will they alter the current Republican agenda of voter supression, stricter voter ID laws, felon disenfranchisement, and gerrymandering to diminish the impact of minority voters and ensuring a predominantly white voter class? It’s the GOP’s only way to stay in power in light of current demographic trends in the US population. These are tools of white supremacy; nothing else.

Talk is cheap. Let’s see if the GOP is about anything more than giving tax breaks to the rich, cutting regulations to save money for corporations. In other words, doing the bidding of its owners (the Kochs, Adelson, Freiss, Singer, Devos, Mercer, Thiel, etc.)

Steve Bannon is out of the White House, but he’s only going to cause more turmoil from the outside, now that he’s got his “weapons” back. Weapons being “Breitbart” and thousands of ignorant, angry followers.

But Stephen Miller, Sebastian Gorka, and Catherine Gorka are still there. The problem is still the Imbecile at the Top, but by all means, let’s get rid of the mischievous children who give him bad ideas to toy with.

Political writer Mike Allen (Politico, Axios) contacted a bunch of White House staffers to see why they stayed in their jobs. Here was their response: "You have no idea how much crazy stuff we kill. "If they weren't there, they say, we would have a trade war with China, massive deportations, and a government shutdown to force construction of a Southern wall.

We still might have a debt ceiling showdown with the Tea Party/Freedom Caucus faction although Mitch McConnell just assured the nation that there was “zero chance” that the ceiling would not be raised. He wanted to calm the financial markets who fear the craziness and ignorant actions of those “patriots.” We’ll see what happens.



The only good thing I can see about the whole Charlottesville turmoil is that it opens a wider discussion about the existence of Confederate monuments and what should be done about them.

My answer? Move them to museums. They always were – and now most certainly are – symbols of a system of white supremacy that was and is an insult to the descendants of slaves and our (current) national state of mind. Slavery was wrong, right? Why celebrate its defenders, especially in public spaces?

The statues were designed to enforce Jim Crow oppression and try to glorify an evil cause. Lipstick on the pig of their collective guilty past. I can accept that the statues have some historical value now. Put them in a Civil War museum that tells the whole story of what the Confederacy fought for.

If someone kidnapped your children and sold them, would you want to see that person honored in public?

You don’t see statues of Hitler and the SS in Germany. They know enough to be ashamed of a shameful past. No exceptions.



I used to believe that, no matter what, the good guys will beat the bad guys. (I think that 
there are more good people than bad people.) But now I’m not so sure. The far right in this country is crazy; they’ve been ginned up for decades to be aggressive and irrational; and they have no feelings for the common good and “general welfare.”

It makes me heartsick – to see a swastika superimposed on the Stars and Stripes. That’s just wrong. There are strong right-wing strains in the make-up of America, but most Americans are not fascist. (How strong is white racism? Ask Barack Obama.)

It’s good for me to get all this bile out. I binge on MSNBC-CNN-FOX-NewYork Times-Wall Street Journal-Los Angeles Times-Huffington Post-Drudge-Talking Points Memo-Politico-Real Clear Politics-Daily Beast-Slate-Salon-Alternet-etc. and the anger builds in me with each desecration, each wound to the fabric of our fragile society until I have to stop.


(For at least a half hour. …. Please?)

Now I can get back to work on my revisions on WHEN I GOT OUT.

Until I have to unload again.

I am, by nature, an optimist, but these days of Trump try my confidence in the ultimate triumph of Good. It’s so disheartening to have to write about all this. I love my deeply flawed country, but we’re in deep, deep trouble. And it’s going to get worse. There are a lot of angry people out there, and they are heavily armed.

Hang on for a bumpy ride.


Here are some tools:

Bill Moyers’ invaluable Timeline of Trump’s Russia Involvement


The resignation of the dissolved arts council –

Dear Mr. President:

Reproach and censure in the strongest possible terms are necessary following your support of the hate groups and terrorists who killed and injured fellow Americans in Charlottesville. The false equivalences you push cannot stand. The Administrations refusal to quickly and unequivocally condemn the cancer of hatred only further emboldens those who wish America ill. We cannot sit idly by, the way your West Wing advisors have, without speaking out against your words and actions. We are members of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities (PCAH). The Committee was created in 1982 under President Ronald Reagan to advise the White House on cultural issues. We were hopeful that continuing to serve in the PCAH would allow us to focus on the important work the committee does with your federal partners and the private sector to address, initiate, and support key policies and programs in the arts and humanities for all Americans. Effective immediately, please accept our resignation from the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities.   

Elevating any group that threatens and discriminates on the basis of race, gender, ethnicity, disability, orientation, background, or identity is un-American. We have fought slavery, segregation, and internment. We must learn from our rich and painful history. The unified fabric of America is made by patriotic individuals from backgrounds as vast as the nation is strong. In our service to the American people, we have experienced this first-hand as we traveled and build the Turnaround Arts education program, now in many urban and rural schools across the country from Florida to Wisconsin.

Speaking truth to power is never easy, Mr. President. But it is our role as commissioners on the PCAH to do so. Art is about inclusion. The Humanities include a vibrant free press. You have attacked both. You released a budget which eliminates arts and culture agencies. You have threatened nuclear war while gutting diplomacy funding. The administration pulled out of the Paris agreement, filed an amicus brief undermining the Civil Rights Action, and attacked our brave trans service members. You have subverted equal protections, and are committed to banning Muslims and refugee women & children from our great country. This does not unify the nation we love. We know the importance of open and free dialogue through our work in the cultural diplomacy realm, most recently with the first-ever US Government arts and cultural delegation to Cuba, a country without the same First Amendment protections we enjoy here. Your words and actions push us all further away from the freedoms we are guaranteed. 

Ignoring your hateful rhetoric would have made us complicit in your words and actions. We took a patriotic oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. 

Supremacy, discrimination, and vitriol are not American values. Your values are not American values. We must be better than this. We are better than this. If this is not clear to you, then we call on you to resign your office, too. 

Thank you,

[signed by 16 of the 17 members of the council]


When the subject of Confederate statues comes up, this is what I think of:

JUBILATION T. CORNPONE from “L’IL ABNER” – with some prime Johnny Mercer lyrics


Long live Stubby Kaye!!


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Christian Correa