Friday, February 24, 2017


Today's vocabulary is oxymoron, which occurs when we put two words together that seem to contradict one another, e.g. "The tRump administration is a 'fine-tuned machine.'"

Well, today's entry in the tRumpsicon is probably more technically a case of contradiction, than an oxymoron...but the moron aspect can't be ignored.

During the Adolescent-in-Chief's low-cost reality show, a.k.a. campaign, he boasted about deportations.  Lots of deportations.  Yuge numbers of deportations.  A week after the election, while he was still in victory-lap mode, he announced a goal to deport two to three million people, stipulating that he would concentrate on those "that are criminal and have criminal records, gang members, drug dealers" (I suppose his rapists were implied in there, somehow).  Administrative actions since then have underscored this claim, from high-profile ICE raids in major cities (as opposed to lower-profile raids under the Obama Administration) to newly-announced loosening of policies under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and "tripling the number of removal agents at Immigration and Customs Enforcement, by adding 10,000 agents."

According to a column by Dara Lind at Vox, the head of the DHS, John Kelly, issued memos that pave the way for broader detention and deportation of undocumented persons in the US.
Kelly’s memos direct Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents to treat most unauthorized immigrants currently in the US as “priorities” for deportation. They direct the government to dramatically increase its capacity to detain immigrants, and dictate that it should detain nearly all immigrants caught near the US border. They instruct ICE to work aggressively deputize local law enforcement agents to arrest unauthorized immigrants. And they make it much easier to deport children who come to the US alone to reunite with their parents — and the parents they’re reuniting with.
She notes that these memos were drafts and subject to review, but doubts that they will change much in later versions.  They are likely to continue to call for strengthening the tRump administration's "massive immigration 'machine'" which will be expected to "have nearly free rein to arrest, detain, and deport unauthorized immigrants wherever it finds them."

In yesterday's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), tRump's chief chief strategist, Steve "I look like Goering, but think like Goebels" Bannon, added weight to these concerns by claiming, "All [tRump is] doing right now is he laid out the agenda with the promises that he made [on the campaign trail]...He's maniacally focused on that."  An adjective like maniacally when applied to tRump is disconcerting, indeed, especially when on the same day he characterized his plans as a "military operation."

ICE agents in their militarized regalia.  from:

And yet, on the same day in Mexico City, the same John Kelly who issued the DHS memos, assured the Mexican public that there would be "no 'mass deportations'" and that there would be "No, repeat, no use of military force in immigration operations.  None." Of course the always-good-for-a-cringe Sean Spicer tried to pitch tRump's use of military operation as metaphorical.  Yet, at this point, Spicer and the boys have played the outrage card often enough that they might as well be saying, "Wolf!"  So it's an operation being carried out by a militarized law enforcement agency but not a military operation?

Now, in all fairness in Obama's eight years, he deported millions of people as well, with numbers ranging from 2.5 million to 3.1 million, compared George W. Bush's "just over to 2 million," according to; so tRump's claim is actually rather consistent with recent precedent.  Incidentally, Snopes also reports that between 1892 and 1997, the US deported 2.1 million people, so the last two presidents have at least doubled that number in sixteen years.  The new DHS policies, however, weaken a number of guidelines that were put in place by Obama and open the door for more deportations.

In any case, yesterday's messages were contradictory...and oxymoronic.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Chilling Vocabulary, part 2

Yesterday was the 75th anniversary of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's infamous Executive Order 9066, the document that lead to the internment of around 120,000 persons of Japanese descent, more than half of which (70,000) were American citizens--as well as some Germans and Italians.  If the tRump administration has its way, something like this may happen again.

Image from the Library of Congress, public domaim
The internment of Japanese Americans has taken its place as one of the low points in American history and culture.  Above is a photograph of a processing station at the Santa Anita Race Track in Los Angeles, CA, just east of Pasadena.  This morning, George Takei, famous for his portrayal of Lt. Sulu in the Star Trek TV series and subsequent films and also for his vigorous activist efforts for the gay community and other causes, spoke on Democracy Now! about his childhood in the camps.

As a matter of fact, his family was processed and held at the Santa Anita Race Track.  In the interview, he recalled being woken up by his parents and then his family of five being forced at gunpoint from their two-bedroom home.
Well, we were first taken to the horse stables at Santa Anita race track. We were taken there in a truck with other families that had been rounded up. And there, they herded us over to the stable area, and each family was assigned a horse stall, still pungent with the stink of horse manure, to sleep in. For my parents, it was a degrading, humiliating experience to take their three children and arrange the cots for us to sleep in.
He noted that for him, at five years old, it seemed like a kind of adventure at first.  That wore off, though.  It is bad enough that this whole episode even took place, but what makes this anniversary even more problematic is the fact that the Japanese internment camps have been cited by tRump and Co. as justification for their proposed measures against Muslims in the US.  In the video clip above, starting at the 1:18 mark is a clip of then-candidate tRump defending his proposed ban specifically citing FDR's actions as a president.  Shortly thereafter, a tRump surrogate, Carl Higbe, used the same kind of language on Fox News.

Several days later, he tried to walk back the language of his original statement without denying the proposed action of keeping a Muslim registry nor denying the slippery slope between that action and camps.

This slippery slope showed up again and was called out on Democracy Now! earlier this month when the tRump administration announced plans to publish a weekly list of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants, a practice of the Nazi regime used as a prelude to the Konzentationslagern.

What might be more disturbing is the fact that in the US, such lists were also published.  Andrea Pitzer, an independent journalist, spoke about a similar American practice around the same time.
So this preoccupation with focusing in on one subset of the population’s crimes and then depicting that as somehow depraved and abnormal from the main population is something we’ve seen quite a bit in the past, even in the U.S. Before Japanese-American internment, you had newspapers like the San Francisco Chronicle running about the unassimilability of the Japanese immigrants and also the crime tendencies and depravities they had, which were distinguished from the main American population.  (from the Democracy Now! interview transcript)
 Between the last post and this one, I have tried to show that American concentration camps--whether we call them internment camps, detention centers, or, in the case of Guantanamo Bay, prisons--are a real part of our national culture that must be challenged.  They run inherently counter to the best principles of our country.  Takei pointed out in his Democracy Now! interview that the invoking of these strategies and this history is calculated to create fear to mobilize support or action...psychological terrorism.
Well, on so many issues, not just the Muslim travel ban, but issue after issue has been a failure...You know, the real terrorist is Donald Trump. Donald Trump is the terrorist president of the United States.  (from the interview transcript)

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Chilling Vocabulary

Today's vocabulary word is Konzentrationslager.  Yes, it is German and if you do not already know it, here is a visual cue:

Image published by Museon in Europeana, CC BY-SA
tRump's recent immigrant round ups have necessitated a resurrection of the term.  Actually, that is only a partial-truth since the Adolescent-in-Chief can only work with the infrastructure he inherited, which is nothing short of inhumane.

A post on this week shows images of amerikanishe Konzentrationslagern (KZ Lager, as they were called) which are likely being used right now, or similar ones, in the wake of last weekend's round up of undocumented immigrants.  Here's the lead image in the story: 
This image of detained mothers and children was released by Texas Congressman Henry Cuellar.  Maybe this is only slightly less disturbing than ones from a different era in which a "strong" leader promised to put the needs of his country first and to get tough on immigrants and undesirables:

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Belarusian State Archive of Documentary Film and Photography, from Wikimedia Commons, public domain
Oh, I should point out that Cuellar's image was not published this past week after the Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) raids were carried out under tRump's command.  His image was published in 2014, during the Obama Administration, so the stench of these centers/camps is far older than just tRump.  The piece leads with this chilling question, "U.S. immigration authorities rounded up hundreds of undocumented immigrants across six states in the last week, which begs the question — where do they go?"

Of course, there are significant differences between the Nazi KZ Lager and the US detention centers in the facts that detainees stay for shorter periods of time, are not forced into hard labor, or sent to the Gaskammern (gas chambers).  But to children fleeing with their mothers from violence, oppression, and hopelessness of countries to the south, are those differences really all that meaningful?  Probably not, since it has been reported that they experience some similar horrors.

A 2015 complaint filed by the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) on behalf of detainees in Arizona noted that they had to endure 
painfully low temperatures without proper clothing or blankets. Indeed, CBP [Customs and Border Protection] officials force detainees to remove extra layers of clothing before entering...frigid cells. CBP officials regularly ignore detainees’ complaints about the cold cells, and it has been reported that officials threaten to make the cells even colder as punishment for complaining about the temperature.
The text of the suit notes that many detainees arrived in the centers "exhausted, thirsty and hungry, and often are suffering from dehydration, heat stroke, diarrhea, bleeding and blistered feet, and other health conditions requiring medical attention," which were sometimes denied them (p. 1).  The post illustrates this pattern by referring to a report from the Guardian about a similar center in Pennsylvania that includes a photograph of a little girl's blouse covered with blood she vomited over the course of four days before she was given medical attention. 

The NILC complaint further asserts that detainees were kept in unsanitary conditions, were denied food and water for long periods of time, were not given adequate bedding, and were deprived of sleep because CBP officers left the lights on 24 hours a day (p.2).  The Guardian report tells of a guard being convicted for raping a Honduran woman and being given an absurdly light sentence.  As one who has a developing interest in Holocaust memoirs, I am haunted by these complaints and how similar they are to accounts from Birkenau, Buchenwald, Revansbrueck and other KZ Lagern.

Again, these incidents were documented under the Obama Administration (you know, the Nobel Peace Prize winner), but, given the ferocity of tRump's anti-immigrant Sturm und Drang (literally "storm and impulse"), it would take ungodly naivete to believe that conditions today are any better.  In fact, some predict that given his promise to deport millions of immigrants, the private prison industry will see a boom.  Maybe tRump would rather Lady Liberty's right arm raised in a salute than holding up a torch.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Today's Word: National Security

tRump's big pillars in his candidacy spiel to make America great again (I may have to wash my hands after typing that) were national security and put people back to work.  At this point, one has to wonder what his conception of national security is.  Two recent incidents seem to show that his and his cabinet's definition is like Gollum's promise to safely escort Frodo and Sam to Mordor in the Lord of the Rings...not terribly substantial...a bit of political bipolar.

First of all there was Michael Flynn, one-time defense intelligence chief and newly confirmed National Security Advisor.  Well after his resignation this morning, he is a one-timmer...again.  In his first gig in politics, Flynn was fired from the Obama Administration for insubordination, which apparently made him a prime candidate for the tRump krew.  And his 2015 appearance at a banquet in Moscow that featured Vladimir Putin put him quite out of favor with many in the defense and intelligence circles.  However, after less than a month on the job, he has resigned from his position.  He had to leave the White House...again because, according to nine sources, he spoke with the Russian ambassador about President Obama's sanctions on Russia in response to their efforts to hack the US election--assuring him that the sanctions would be dealt with--then deceived the Administration about it, then denied the allegations flatly, then his spokesman tried to back pedal, then the outcry grew to a chest-thumping roar so he had to step down.  And his actions are being investigated criminally.  So...the guy who was supposed to be in charge of national security consorting with a man many consider to be a national enemy.  Whose NATIONAL security is he worried about?  And let's not forget tRump's openly stated admiration for Putin.

Then there was this:

Photo from linked article just below.

Yup, that's tRump with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the patio at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida discussing how to respond to North Korea's ballistic missile launch on Sunday.  A pretty sensitive national security matter.  Oh, and it was so dark that cell phones had to be used to illuminate the documents.  Cell phones that can be hacked.

This is in stark contrast to how other Presidents have discussed such sensitive matters.  Pete Souza, the White House photographer for the the Obama Administration, for example, noted
"When we were on the road, national security discussions and head of state phone calls were conducted in a private, secure location set up on-site. Everyone had to leave their Blackberry outside the area."
Jon Favreau, a former speech writer for Obama, posted this contrast on his Twitter feed:

Screen capture from Pete Souza's Twitter feed; original post link

Notice tRump's smug smile.  And behind him, to the left, we see a fuzzy (both literally and metaphorically) Steve Bannon...on whose right is none other than Michael Flynn.  And the woman in the pretty dress.  Who is she?  What's her role in national security? looks like SECURITY is not much of a concern for this administration. 


The Guardian reported today that tRump had known for several weeks that Flynn had been lying about his contacts with the Russian ambassador and he refused to do anything about it.  Apparently he could not see any problem with the situation.  Sean Spicer said that the resignation was the result of  the "eroding level of trust."  Ostensibly he means between tRump and Flynn, but the real story is the erosion of trust with the US citizens and non-citizens who are living here.  Both of them seem to be missing the point.  A lot of them, as a matter of fact.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Bernice King's Suggestions for #Resistance

Below is a Facebook post from Bernice King, Dr, Martin Luther and Coretta Scott King's daughter. 


Not a whole lot to add to her suggestions, but one thing that did catch my eye and gave me a smile was how many of her suggestions involve language.  I have also been thinking about the verse of one of my enduring favorite songs from my junior high school years..."De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da" by the Police:

Poets, priests and politicians 
Have words to thank for their positions
Words that scream for your submission
And no one's jamming their transmission

Call to action: Jam #Mussoweenie's transmission and here is Bernice King's prescription:

Some Wise Advice Circulating:

1. Use his name sparingly so as not to detract from the issues. I believe that everyone, regardless of their beliefs, deserves the dignity of being called by their name. However, this is a strategic tactic. While we are so focused on him we are prone to neglect the questionable policies that threaten freedom, justice and fairness advanced by the administration.

2. Remember this is a regime and he's not acting alone;

3. Do not argue with those who support him and his policies--it doesn't work;

4. Focus on his policies, not his appearance and mental state;

5. Keep your message positive; those who oppose peace and justice want the country to be angry and fearful because this is the soil from which their darkest policies will grow;

6. No more helpless/hopeless talk;

7. Support artists and the arts;

8. Be careful not to spread fake news. Check it;

9. Take care of yourselves; and

10. Resist!

Keep demonstrations peaceful. In the words of John Lennon, "When it gets down to having to use violence, then you are playing the system’s game. The establishment will irritate you - pull your beard, flick your face - to make you fight! Because once they’ve got you violent, then they know how to handle you. The only thing they don’t know how to handle is non-violence and humor."

When you post or talk about him, don't assign his actions to him, assign them to "The Republican Administration," or "The Republicans." This will have several effects: the Republican legislators will either have to take responsibility for their association with him or stand up for what some of them don't like; he will not get the focus of attention he craves; Republican representatives will become very concerned about their re-elections.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

The Banana Republic of America, Coming to an Executive Branch near You

All tRump wanted for Christmas was a banana republic.  And now the head of a Texas state senator who wants to reform how assets are seized by law enforcement, you more just.  He has the cajones to suggest that assets shouldn't be seized just because a person is a suspect.  It seems he has the temerity to believe in such quaint notions as "innocent until proven guilty."

tRump no likey.

In a public discussion with law enforcement officials two days ago, Sheriff Harold Eavenson from Rockwall County, TX complained about the state senator and the wannabe Pinochet responded, "Who is the state senator? Want to give his name? We'll destroy his career."  Uncomfortable laughter ensued...but tRump didn't smile.  His body language gave no sense of, "Hey...that was just a sick joke, y'all."  To his credit, by the way, Sheriff Eavenson refused to give the senator's name...guess conscience still has a place at the table for some.

While this schadenfreudliche (for non-German speakers, this is an adjectival form of Schadenfreude) quip should be downright chilling on its own merits, it is even more disturbing in light of an interview with David Cay Johnson, a Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist who has spent many years covering tRump.  The interview is posted on the website for the German news magazine, Die Welt [The World] and includes some chilling observations and predictions.


Johnston observed that "Trump seems to be caught in the emotional condition of a 13-year-old boy" who is in "his own league" in his mastery of manipulation.  When asked whether tRump might develop into a more co-operative leader, he replied
No.  Donald Trump is Donald Trump.  He is 70 hears old.  At this age one does not change.  One can learn new facts, one can change one's opinions on specific things, but the personality is no longer malleable.  I would sooner expect that Trump will try to make himself into a dictator.  A dictator with no other ideology but devotion to his own power...He has never learned to take advice.  He has never cooperated with others in a collegial way.  Donald Trump's mantra is absolute loyalty to himself.
tRump's casual quip about destroying the career of an "enemy" he has never met is pretty par for the course for a banana republic-esque dictator and fits in pretty well with a diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder, a diagnosis that roughly 20,000 mental health professionals have publicly concurred with. To be sure, this kind of activity is both highly unusual and actually a violation of the American Psychological Association's  Goldwater Rule, which bars the diagnosis of public figures based solely on their public statements and persona.

Baltimore psychologist, John Gartner, has been one of the most outspoken mental health professionals to support this diagnosis and even posted a petition on Facebook that asserts
Trump “manifestly” meets the DSM-published criteria for at least three personality disorders: narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), antisocial personality disorder, and paranoid personality disorder. They are a “toxic brew” that in his view not only make Trump “dangerous” but add up to “malignant narcissism,” not a diagnosis formalized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual but a label coined by the German-born psychologist and psychoanalyst Erich Fromm. [From the linked article above.]
To date, the APA has taken no action against the mental health workers who have undersigned Grartner's controversial diagnosis.

So, a long-time follower of tRump expects him to try and make himself a dictator, tens of thousands of psychology professionals concur that he has a mental illness cocktail that could pre-dispose him to such a path, and he makes public statements that sound less like those of an intelligent, level-headed politician and more like one of "a group of...latin-American / Meat packing glitterati," to borrow a line from Pink Floyd.  Aanybody feeling like they're on the wrong continent...or in the wrong century, yet?

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

tRump Violates Basic Social Media Policy

Big shock! Team tRump has violated baisc social media policy practice by using the @POTUS Twitter account to attack retailer Nordstrom for dropping his daughter's apparel and accessory lines.  He or someone on his staff re-tweeted the attack from @realDonaldTrump:


A search of yields no specific social media policy, but acceptable practices for governmental social media policy can be found at the Government Services Administration--the office that oversees interactions between businesses and the government.  tRump's retweet or the retweet by one of his staff violates the principle of "Endors[ing] commercial products, services, or entities," a forbidden practice.  The retweet endorses Ivanka tRump's business and also offers a kind of negative endorsement of Nordstrom.  For another example of language to show how this use of social media violates professional practice, here is language from the social media policy for the State of Washington

(page 12)

This tweet shows either a profound dismissal of or lack of knowledge about organizational communication.  By using the @POTUS handle to offer this endorsement, it misuses the weight of that particular office by acting on behalf of a family member's place of business, a conflict of interest and clear misuse of power.  Furthermore it indicates either an ignorance of principles of organizational communication or a will to flaunt those principles.  So tRump is either too stupid to know better or he just doesn't give a crap--personally, I'm thinking it's an inclusive it's both.  Now, the argument could be made that it may not have been tRump himself that retweeted...which, while plausible, either shows a cute naiveté or shows that somebody should be...well, you know.

Monday, February 6, 2017

What's the tRumpsicon?

Heard of double speak, right?  Sure you have.  When somebody says one thing but means something else.  Under most circumstances, it's considered "bad"...unless you're rich and/or white...or are fluent in Politician or CEOan.  The tRumpsicon (tRump +lexicon) is an attempt to survive the linguistic adventures of the Frankensteinian creature Winona Laduke calls the predator-in-chief.   This should be an intrepid linguistic adventure...oh...sorry...This should be yuge effort to make Amerika bigly, a yuge effort, the yugest effort you'll effort see.
Image by tiburi from Pixabay, public domain