The Hate Factory

 

Times are changing. We stand at a place in history where many of the creations of our founding fathers are rapidly disappearing. However, one American institution―the Ku Klux Klan―is alive and well. This right-wing extremist group has managed to survive through three distinct secret movements, all of which sought purification of American society through acts terrorism, including intimidation, physical assault and murder. Nowadays, however, the Klan has legitimized and somewhat sanitized its terrorist activities by infiltrating and seizing control of the Republican Party. Indeed, the party of Lincoln has now become a safe haven for racists, fascists, evangelicals, sexual predators…even credibly accused pedophiles. Along with the U.S. Supreme Court, and more than any other person, former president Andrew Johnson is responsible for the continued existence of this vile and evil anti-American society.

 

History books relate that the South―states which desired to destroy the Union―lost the American Civil War. The scorched-earth armies of Grant and Sherman destroyed nearly every military presence and physical structure in sight during their march through the South. But the generals never broke the spirit of a society of individuals who somehow thought that human bondage was not only profitable, but also humane and proper.

This so-called “spirit” was conceived as a matter of law by Roger Taney, Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, in the infamous Dred Scott case (Dred Scott v. Sandford, 60 US 393, 1857). Taney ruled that people of African descent, blacks, had no rights which the white man was bound to respect, and that the negro must be reduced to slavery “for his own benefit.” Taney further decided that blacks could be “bought and sold, like an ordinary article of merchandise, whenever a profit could be had by the transaction.”  Thus, the dominant thought of white superiority was not only preserved in law, but also greatly magnified racism as a matter of practice following the assassination of Lincoln when President Andrew Johnson granted amnesty and full pardons to the architects and participants of the Southern secessionist movement on December 25, 1868.

Six young Confederate veterans of the Civil War met in the Jones Law Office in Pulaski, Tennessee in spring 1866.  One of the participants, John Lester, suggested, “Why don’t we start a club of some kind?”  About a week later, another member of the group, one John Kennedy, was house sitting for Colonel Thomas Martin. The group convened again at Martin’s plantation while the colonel and his family were away to finalize the plans, including a name, for their new club. James Crowe suggested kuklux, a variation of the Greek word circle, so no one would know what the word means. And Kennedy suggested, “Since we are all of Scotch-Irish descent, we should add the word klan.”  Thus was born―quite innocently―a name that would live in infamy, the Ku Klux Klan. Inspired by the ghostly sound of the name they had just adopted, the six young men attired themselves in sheets and pillowcases pilfered from Mrs. Martin’s linen closet and cavorted after dark on horseback through the town of Pulaski, much to the curiosity of the local population. This would prove to be the last harmless act of the Klan.

The idea of a secret society doing business under cover of darkness soon caught on and surged like wildfire throughout the South.  This first incarnation of the Klan conducted a reign of terror that lasted for about five years until the federal government put it out of business around 1871.  The group, through its local units (dens, known as klaverns) had attempted to overthrow the Republican state governments in the South during the Reconstruction Era with tactics that included physical assault and murder: “We are the law,” was their mantra.  They targeted blacks, and educators from the northern states who came south as part of the mission to educate blacks. And their well-known symbol―their calling card―was the burning of a “Fiery Cross.”  Former Confederate general Nathan B. Forrest, known as the “Grand Wizard,” was the leader during this period. During an interview with a reporter from the Cincinnati Commercial, Forrest stated that membership of the Tennessee Klan was 40,000, and further estimated membership throughout the South at 550,000.

The catalyst for the second incarnation of the Klan was twofold. First, respectable historians of the Reconstruction Era provided false narratives of the period immediately following the Civil War which depicted blacks as villains and whites as victims, when the truth was exactly opposite. Second was the 1915 silent film by D. W. Griffith, Birth of a Nation, which mythologized the founding of the first Klan. This Klan expanded operations to include the entire country, and funded itself through membership dues and the sale of white costumes and conical hats. Its membership peaked between 1924 and 1925 at an estimated 3 to 6 million members. The first elected Imperial Wizard during this period was William Joseph Simmons, a Methodist minister. Thus, it was hardly surprising to see the Klan carrying out its heinous nighttime activities, either preceding, or following, the burning of a cross, to the strains of “Onward Christian Soldiers.” Precisely as today, these evangelicals viewed the election of their leaders as the “will of God,” with a commensurate duty to follow orders, no matter how diabolical. Jews, blacks, and immigrants (mostly Catholics) were the targets of their white supremacist views. Stetson Kennedy, an activist author who infiltrated the Klan as an informant for the FBI appropriately described the secret society of hooded villains as “the ugliest skeletons in our closet.”

Nevertheless, the largest and most famous gathering of the Klan came north of the Mason-Dixon Line in the state of Indiana on the Fourth of July, 1923. 200,000 klansmen, along with their wives and children gathered at a 185-acre field in Kokomo, about 50 miles north of Indianapolis. They were awaiting the arrival of the most influential Klan leader of the era, Grand Dragon David Curtis Stephenson (the Old man). Stephenson became the most powerful force in Hoosier politics; he was in fact a legend in his own time. But there was a defect in his character that foretold his destiny; he was a sexual predator. Stephenson abducted and raped state employee Madge Oberholtzer. The woman poisoned herself to escape Stephenson, and a doctor later found that skin on her left breast was torn open, and tissue on her genitals had been bitten off. Stephenson was charged and convicted of second-degree murder, and the statements he made to prosecutors about the inner workings of the Klan in an attempt to avoid prison spelled doom for the organization. The revelations brought prison terms for many politicians and disgust by klansmen everywhere; they burned their white robes and membership cards. Thus, the second incarnation was founded in 1915, flourished in the 1920’s, and by 1944 had all but vanished.

The third incarnation of the Klan emerged in the 1950’s. Compared with earlier versions, membership (estimated at 3000-6000, depending on who compiled the report) in the organization was miniscule. This group opposed the civil rights movement, using violence and murder, with assistance from police agencies, to suppress activists. For instance, the prominent event during this period was the unearthing of three decomposing bodies from a Mississippi dam site. An outraged America brought an end, for the most part, to Southern lawmen turning activist victims directly into the clutches of the Ku Klux Klan. In any event, the results of the presidential election of 2016 put an end to the Klan’s third version and its covert activities.

The Klan, now in its fourth incarnation, is pursuing its mission in the open, and under color of law. Klansmen are everywhere, and openly practicing their trade.  The Republican National Committee recently endorsed credibly accused pedophile Roy Moore in his bid for the Alabama U.S. Senate seat. White Nationalist Steve King represents the people of Iowa in the House of Representatives.  Fascists Mark Meadows, Devin Nunes, Jim Jordan and Matt Gaetz are desperately gouging at the Department of Justice and FBI in their attempts to protect a traitor.

Back in 1953, America executed Julius and Ethel Rosenberg for selling secrets to the Soviets. How times have changed. The Russians reported that Donald Trump revealed top-secret information during an Oval Office meeting the day after FBI Director James Comey was fired. And more of the same probably happened during a meeting between Trump and Vladimir Putin at the recent Helsinki Conference. We can look at the results of an ABC News/Washington Post poll conducted on August 21, 2017 and take away an understanding as to why approximately 40 percent of Americans, and 90 percent of self-proclaimed “Republicans” continue to unwaveringly support a serial racist and traitor. The poll revealed that 52 percent of Americans have racist tendencies. Another nine percent called it acceptable to hold neo-nazi or white supremacist views, which is equivalent to 22 million citizens. This does not include another ten percent who stated that they support the alt-right movement. Furthermore, a 2004 Pew survey identified 26.3 percent of Americans as “Evangelicals.”  Thus is revealed the environment that nurtures a hate factory, and provides a reason why people attend racist conventions and cheer on a demagogue who mocks the disabled, people of color and war heroes. Indeed, all of the klaverns of the modern Ku Klux Klan have been united under one banner: the Republican Party. The Imperial Wizard of this unfortunate transformation is none other than Donald Trump, and the rallies he presides over represent the symbolic burning of a “Fiery Cross.” This explains why decent and respectable conservatives have left the party of Lincoln en masse.

Dear Trumpies And “Libtard” Decriers:

Your blog comments are revealing. You are not a spokesperson for American values. And it looks like you were absent during much of the time when your classmates were receiving an education.

First, learn how to put two real words together that bear some relation to each other. Then you can move on to the seemingly difficult task of joining three or more words into a coherent sentence. Otherwise, you will remain a useful idiot.

You are too blind in your love affair with Donald Trump to realize that if you are not a Native American, you are an immigrant…exactly the same as those individuals your matchbox-sized mind hates with tribal vehemence.

Perhaps someday time travel will become possible. Then you can go back to the comfort zone of Nazi Germany and celebrated bigotry. To make certain that your values are not offended, you might want to ignore that welcoming message on the Statue of Liberty on your way out.

Tainted Apathy

There is a class of Americans (by some accounts 40 % of the population) that just plain doesn’t give a damn that a president of the United States would pay off a porn star to conceal the fact of a philandering liaison―an encounter that took place shortly after his wife gave birth to the couple’s only son. This is hardly a surprising development when one considers the fact that Donald Trump took his first wife to a ski resort for the purpose of continuing an affair with his second wife, Marla Maples. Nevertheless, Rudy Giuliani confirmed what most people suspected when he appeared on Fox News and admitted that Trump lied to the American public when he denied knowledge of a $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels to buy her silence prior to the 2016 presidential election. The Trump base of supporters―racists, fascists, Republicans and Evangelicals―could care less.

First, it should be noted that the contract signed by Stormy Daniels, a nondisclosure agreement (NDA) which underlies the payment, is probably void. Agreements for using corrupt influence in procuring government jobs, titles or honors fly in the face of public policy. The leading authority on contracts, former Yale law professor Arthur Linton Corbin, informs through his treatises that contracts against public policy are unlawful, and therefore not enforceable.

Donald Trump exposed again his long-standing attitude of racial animus―utter contempt for all people of color―in the aftermath of Charlottesville. His “good people on both sides” declaration earned the adulation of the likes of David Duke, former self-appointed Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. Following the Central Park Five debacle in which Trump demanded the death penalty for people of color who had been proven innocent, one has to wonder why Trump did not send HUD Secretary Ben Carson a DVD copy of “Chattanooga Shoe-Shine Boy” as a shithole Christmas present.

In addition, it should not be forgotten that the Chairperson of the Republican National Committee (RNC), Ronna Romney McDaniel, gave a scandalous endorsement and financial support to credibly alleged pedophile Roy Moore in the recent Alabama U.S. Senate race. The party of Lincoln is no longer the Republican Party…it is the party of Trump and his Russian allies; the sooner it is put out of business, the better for the American people.

Indeed, self-styled “Republican” members of the United States House of Representatives are carrying water for Russians and for the fascists who marched at Charlottesville.  Working on behalf of fascists, Russia and Donald Trump, House Freedom Caucus members Mark Meadows and Jim Jordan drafted an impeachment article against Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein because he refused to reveal redacted contents of an ongoing FBI investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Meadows and Jordan are bound by oath to oversee the conduct of the Executive Department of government, but Rosenstein and others have determined that the information sought after by the wayward legislators would be delivered to the targets of the investigation. If and when Democrats take over the House, Meadows and Jordan would be proper subjects for subpoenas to explain their treasonous conduct.

Finally, we are witness to self-righteous Evangelicals wallowing in, and justifying the utter filth indulged by Donald Trump. There are the “dossier” claims of Trump arranging “golden showers” by prostitutes at the Moscow Ritz-Carlton―allegations which become more believable with each passing day.  White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders knowingly spews forth a litany of falsehoods each time she appears. One Evangelical claims that it is her “faith in God” which gives her confidence to stand before a crowd of reporters and lie.  Moreover, the so-called “Family Research Council,” headed by conservative Evangelical Tony Perkins claims that Donald Trump deserves a “mulligan” on his sordid sex life and Stormy Daniels because he is delivering what Evangelicals want. In other words, the end justifies the means.

Now that lying, pedophilia and golden showers have been revealed as Christian values…what next?  It appears that Evangelicals are doing their best to resurrect values that brought extinction to the Roman Empire. In any event, a church pew is the very last place to bring your children on a Sunday morning.

Battle Of The Psychopaths

It’s coming…a gathering for the ages, one might say. “Dotard” meets “Rocket Man, “is what the headlines will read. Two of the world’s more prominent psychopaths will be sitting at a table, each staring into the face of a psychological anomaly. It appears that Secretary of State designate Mike Pompano laid the groundwork for a meeting between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un during a recent unreported trip to North Korea over the Easter holiday.  From what we have observed over the last 15 months, it would appear that the North Korean goes into this bizarre conference with the upper hand.

Psychopaths are not exactly a rare breed.    A study done by The Telegraph (September 13, 2016) found that 21 per cent of corporate executives in the United States had clinically significant levels of psychopathic traits―roughly the same rate as among prisoners.  According to the same report, the rate of psychopathy in the general population is one in a hundred. Neither of these men are garden variety psychopaths. On the contrary, they are both extraordinary psychopaths, which―at least from the clinical standpoint―makes the upcoming meeting imperative to witness. These two men share a certain kinship in fondness for authoritarian leaders…Jong Un being one, and Trump desiring to be one. Both men are vain and thin-skinned, and take offense to any perceived slight, after which they make a vicious attack against the source. The fact that nuclear weapons will be part of the discussion should be more than of passing interest to the man on the street.

The recently deceased Stephen Hawking had a theory about alternate universes―a subject more commonly known as the “Multiverse Theory.” The theory suggests separate universes, including the one in which humans live; a monolith entity which comprises everything that exists, including space, time, matter, energy and the physical laws that order their function. Donald Trump lives in such a place. Trump lies about everything, large and small. And it appears that he actually believes most of the lies he offers. Consequently, one has to observe Trump’s “alternate universe,” and assume that he is in every case lying, until proper evidence proves otherwise. All of these lies, of course, are directed toward self-aggrandizement, which goes a long way toward explaining why Trump is an expert in dishonest tactics, but totally lost when it comes to long term strategies.

Kim Jong Un is a different breed of psychopath, but a psychopath nonetheless.  His nuclear program proves that, unlike Trump, he is a long range planner―a strategist―who will use cessation of nuclear options to extort anything and everything he desires. Although extremely young as dictators go, he has already accumulated a rather sordid track record.

When Kim Jong-il died in December 2011, Kim Jong Un inherited absolute power and sent many of his subjects to prison camps for a term of six months at hard labor for “not crying hard enough” at his father’s funeral. It was also reported that Kim Jong Un―with slim evidence, but fearing a coup attempt―fed one of his uncles to a pack of dogs that had been starved several days precisely for that purpose.  Now the foregoing report of a canine attack has since been identified as a likely piece of satire that originated in a Chinese newspaper.  Whether or not true, it has been confirmed that Kim Jong Un prefers to execute his perceived rivals by mortar rounds, 50 caliber machine guns and flamethrowers.

The previous leaders of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), Kim Jong Un’s father and grandfather, both lied to the international community on numerous occasions to get whatever they desired. One can only assume that the latest North Korean dictator will do the same. A strategic liar fencing with a tactical liar; it should be an interesting battle.  Nevertheless, viewing a comical dialogue between two liars sounds better than a launch of nuclear weapons.

Barely A Lawyer (And Not For Long)

An attorney representing Michael Cohen has filed a request for a temporary restraining order (TRO) with the federal court in the Southern District of New York which seeks to bar prosecutors from reviewing material seized from Cohen’s office, home and hotel room under an “attorney-client privilege.” In response, the Justice Department filed a 22-page document stating that the recent searches were the result of a “months long criminal investigation” into Cohen, and were seeking evidence of crimes, including mail fraud, wire fraud and possible election law violations. Government attorneys further stated that many of the crimes under investigation have nothing to do with Cohen’s work as an attorney, but much to do with Cohen’s business dealings. Furthermore, authorities searched several email accounts used by Cohen, and from that review determined that Cohen was performing “little to no legal work,” suggesting that Cohen is barely a lawyer. Cohen’s education and business activities offer compelling evidence of the government’s assertion.

Michael Cohen graduated from Cooley Law School in 1991 and began working as Donald Trump’s “fixer” shortly after 1995. The American Bar Association (ABA) has been trying to close Cooley for several years. The association has claimed that Cooley’s admission standards fall below ABA standards, and as a result, many graduates have no reasonable chance of obtaining a diploma, or of passing bar exams administered by the states. Consequently, the student ends up with a mountain of debt, and no career. Or, they end up like Cohen, with a career that has little to do with actual legal work.

Cooley went to federal court and requested a gag order against the ABA for the negative criticism, but Senior District Judge Arthur Tarnow not only denied the request, but also stated that the ABA was required to publish their findings to comply with U.S. Department of Education rules.

Now, the ghost of Richard Nixon might be seen floating through the White House. It has been reported that some of the materials seized from Cohen’s premises included taped conversations with several individuals. Some of those conversations will undoubtedly include Donald Trump. It would appear that Cohen will be heard using his omerta-like pledge of loyalty to Trump to prove a macho image while using strong arm tactics in shaking down  adversaries.

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who is also a lawyer, called Cohen an “idiot” for taping conversations. And Michael Avenatti (a highly-skilled lawyer who has been eating Cohen’s lunch in the Stormy Daniels matter for weeks) labeled the taping effort “beyond stupid.”

It should be remembered that reporter Megyn Kelly was forced to hire a security detail for a year after Cohen issued his “Let’s gut her” remark following Kelly’s challenging question involving misogyny to Donald Trump at the first Republican presidential debate.  Such threats and intimidation have no place in a legitimate lawyer’s tool kit. Indeed, Michael Cohen will be disbarred, just like Trump’s original fixer Roy Cohn. But he is facing much larger problems than losing a license to practice law.

If they haven’t done so already, it is time for Las Vegas bookmakers to start taking bets on whether or not Donald Trump will go to prison. He is a subject of investigation by Robert Mueller, and now appears to be implicated in criminal activities by recorded conversations with a soon-to-be alleged criminal. But the most condemning allegations will come from an old nemesis: New York State Attorney General Eric Schniederman. There is no presidential pardon available for state law violations.

Godfather Visions

Trumpty Dumpster sat on a wall,  (the presidency)

Trumpty Dumpster had a great fall, (impeachment, or prison)

All the king’s horses, (Trump’s inept herd of lawyers)

And all the king’s men, (Russians! Russians! And more Russians!)

Couldn’t put Trumpty together again.

Forgive, please, the license taken with a children’s nursery rhyme.

From the very beginning of his business career, Donald Trump chose to associate with shadowy figures, and thus became a dumpster for any scheme related to the possibility of making money. He pushed far beyond the frontiers of ethical conduct. He evaded taxes (unsuccessfully), shafted vendors and business associates, used threats, intimidation and bankruptcy to avoid the consequence of poor business decisions (casinos, airline and real estate), and finally, used what New York State Attorney General Eric Schiederman called a “phony university” to fleece thousands of unsuspecting victims.

Trump is also a celebrated philanderer, and this is one trait that may well lead to his demise. Nevertheless, in the wake of all his scandals, Trump has required the services of a “fixer.” In the early days, that man was Roy Cohn, an attorney who was a ruthless power broker. Cohn was ultimately disbarred for involving himself in the education he imparted on Trump.

Trump’s most recent “fixer” has been Cooley Law School graduate Michael Cohen. In the early morning hours of April 9, 2018 the F.B.I executed a search warrant on Cohen’s law office, his home under construction and his temporary home. The government is now in possession of files, computers, phone records and e mails that will trace the whereabouts and activities of both Cohen and Trump over the last several years. By most accounts, both men are in serious trouble. And if you are a fan of irony, take notice of the fact that Trump forced everyone out of the Department of Justice that he viewed as a threat, and installed his own people. Now, whatever prosecutions follow, will be conducted by men appointed by Trump.

Donald Trump is the stupidest man alive. If he had even one brain cell he would have been satisfied with successfully evading the consequence of the various frauds which built his empire. But he chose to pursue a life in the world’s largest fish bowl. Complete ignorance had him believing that he could be “America’s Godfather.” He beat the odds and got elected. And like a real Godfather, demanded that his subjects take an oath of loyalty and kiss the ring. He never considered that many of those subjects would declare fealty to the rule of law instead. This man will pay a very high price for his misguided visions of grandiosity. Stay tuned.

Goodspeed On Poetry

Poetry provides a window into the soul.  Even more revealing than looking into a mirror, it is a certain knowledge of ourselves and our world of experience. I am not speaking of that mountain of statistics one builds up over the course of a lifetime, but rather, that process which uses conflict in purpose and human values to arrive at the meaning of a life.

I have to credit my fifth grade teacher back in the mid fifties for nurturing my interest in poetry. During the course of the school year, she took 25 minutes at the end of each day to read to her class. By the end of the school year, she had completed one novel, Les Miserables, and one narrative poem, Evangeline.

The poet Victor Hugo published Les Miserables in 1862. I never could recall the opening line in this novel, but the familiar and unforgettable storyline depicts a corrupt policeman (Javert) in epic pursuit of a man (Jean Valjean) who had stolen a loaf of bread to feed starving relatives, went to prison, and broke parole.

On the other hand, the opening lines of Longfellow’s narrative poem, Evangeline (1847), have haunted me for all of the last sixty years. For me, there has always been something mystic and unforgettable in “This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks,”… And not even the somewhat imprecise, sentimental tale of two separated lovers, in its entirety, supersedes the phrase Longfellow used to open his masterpiece.

When I finally discovered “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night,” authored by Dylan Thomas in 1952, it became my favorite. For all time. The poem, written in the extremely difficult villanelle form, was Thomas’ tribute to his dying father. And it seems like a powerful tool for introspect. Even Hollywood has found value in using parts of the poem in various movies.

For aficionados of poetic artistry, however, the most powerful poem I have ever read comes from the 18th Century. It is called The Tyger, published by William Blake in 1794. The heavy beat that resonates throughout this poem literally jumps off the page―whether reading aloud or silent―while making a philosophical journey into the aspects of evil.

Of all the distresses one suffers over a lifetime, nothing was as depressing as watching a misguided populace elect one of the most vile and contemptible human beings on planet Earth to the most powerful office in the world. The support this individual received from haters, racists, and “end justifies the means” hypocrites (otherwise known as Evangelists), was predictable. These people are outliers…human waste entirely unworthy of a second thought. But palpable distress follows the fact that good people―family, friends and neighbors ―were the ones who provided the Pied Piper of filth with his margin of victory.

If Hollywood can use Dylan Thomas’ work in various movies, and make a like-entitled movie out of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, then I see no harm in adapting Blake’s poem into something more suiting to our glorious leader. The poem suits Donald Trump perfectly if the beginning and end are slightly modified. The result follows, with Blake’s magnificent piece of work directly behind.

          The Liar

Liar! Liar! Burning bright,

In the swamplands of the night:

What immortal ear or eye,

Could understand your will to lie?

 

In what distant deeps or skies. 

Burnt the fire of thine eyes? 

On what wings dare he aspire? 

What the hand, dare seize the fire? 

 

And what shoulder, & what art, 

Could twist the sinews of thy heart? 

And when thy heart began to beat, 

What dread hand? & what dread feet? 

 

What the hammer? what the chain, 

In what furnace was thy brain? 

What the anvil? what dread grasp, 

Dare its deadly terrors clasp! 

 

When the stars threw down their spears 

And water’d heaven with their tears: 

Did he smile his work to see? 

Did he who made the Lamb make thee? 

 

Liar! Liar! Burning bright,

In the swamplands of the night:

What immortal ear or eye,

Could understand your will to lie?

The Tyger 

BY WILLIAM BLAKE

Tyger Tyger, burning bright,

In the forests of the night;

What immortal hand or eye,

Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

 

In what distant deeps or skies.

Burnt the fire of thine eyes?

On what wings dare he aspire?

What the hand, dare seize the fire?

 

And what shoulder, & what art,

Could twist the sinews of thy heart?

And when thy heart began to beat,

What dread hand? & what dread feet?

 

What the hammer? what the chain,

In what furnace was thy brain?

What the anvil? what dread grasp,

Dare its deadly terrors clasp!

 

When the stars threw down their spears

And water’d heaven with their tears:

Did he smile his work to see?

Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

 

Tyger Tyger burning bright,

In the forests of the night:

What immortal hand or eye,

Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

Truman Goodspeed, April 2018