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.

The Disease

There is a terminal illness sweeping across America. This apparent neurodegenerative disease primarily affects the older male population and is metastasizing before our eyes.  Greed appears to be one of a number of causative agents. The symptoms appear when men of previously sound mind get on their hands and knees and curry favor by licking the boots of a mentally ill sexual predator.  This disease, of course, is Donald Trump, and is transmitted like an STD to those who look into this man’s broken mind and like what they see. A final diagnosis for this disease is complete when the host-parasite symbiotic relationship has turned the willing subject into one of Donald Trump’s growing army of frighteningly submissive Stepford Wives.

Not every older white male has succumbed to this epidemic. The scholarly conservative George Will inoculated himself against this disease by leaving the Republican Party when it became apparent that Donald Trump would become its adopted leader.

We have seen the toxic effect of this disease before. During the first televised cabinet meeting of the new administration early in 2017, every department head, with the exception of Defense Secretary Doug Mattis, joined in a sycophantic tribute to Donald Trump.  Those Americans who still take pride in a government established by great men were deeply embarrassed and offended.

Visions of treason accompany this disease. Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, a spy who would know, has identified Donald Trump as an “asset” of Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin. He further stated:  “Putin knows how to handle an asset, and that’s what he’s doing with Trump.” Indeed, every democracy in the world knows of Putin’s attempts to sow hate and discord as part of his plan to divide and conquer the Western Alliance of governments.

This disease has infected the U.S. House of Representatives; to what degree is an open question. We know there are representatives in the House who would rather serve under the iron fist of an autocrat than under a government of, by and for the people. Fascist inspired representatives, like Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), who presently in public hearings is purposely undermining the criminal investigation led by Robert Mueller into the Russian penetration of our election process, and Devin Nunes (R-Ca), who is holding secret meetings aimed at likewise discrediting Mueller, are ignoring the fact that Mueller has already secured guilty pleas and indictments against high ranking Trump administration officials for criminal acts.  Apparently no one has reminded these conspiracy participants that America executed Ethel and Julius Rosenberg back in 1953 for the same kind of conduct.

Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), once a highly respected lawmaker from Utah, has succumbed to the disease. On December 20, 2017, Hatch forever destroyed his legacy on the south lawn of the White House following passage of the Republican tax overhaul bill by describing this disease as “one heck of a leader” and “the greatest presidency ever.” Presidential historians, of course, will be quick to dispute this disease-infested claim, as will the person on Main Street, America.

Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn), who previously referred to Trump as “unstable” and warned that Trump’s threats (directed at North Korea) may set the nation “on the path to World War III,”   has had a change of heart and now has “empathy” for the man following disclosure of the benefits inuring to Corker flowing from his support of the recent tax bill.  This amazing reversal bears the strong flavor of greed and accurately fits the clinical description of an illness; in this case, a disease.

There is an antidote for this disease. You can bet your mortgage that impeachment proceedings will be the first order of new business when the U.S. House of Representatives convenes in January 2019. The ensuing trial in the Senate will be a Watergate-type spectacle raising issues of conspiracy, treason and obstruction of justice. Only then will Americans be able to assess the real and far-reaching impact of this poisonous epidemic.

This disease-ridden cabal of old white men has abdicated its duty to provide reasonable and effective leadership. As a result, there is a permanent stain on all of the institutions of American democracy.  Our society is in irreversible decline, and now it is time to let women take over, and make a nurturing slide into oblivion as comfortable as possible. Hospice will be the order of the day.

Truman Goodspeed, December 2017

Sign of the Times-Codified Robbery

With the possible exception of the John Dillinger era, Americans have long held confidence in a system of justice which brings swift and certain punishment to those who decide to rob banks.  But Congressional Republicans have now shown that our national bank, the U.S. Treasury, can be robbed via the stroke of a president’s pen with nary a whimper from party faithful. Call it the biggest heist of all time.

For decades, the mostly wealthy Republican members of Congress have been adept at disguising their utter contempt for America’s working class. But no more. These savvy politicians have seen the handwriting on the wall–indicating their impending demise–and along with their mega donors and lobbyist friends have decided to openly and brazenly plunder the national treasury to the tune of 1.5 trillion dollars on their way out of office.  The only matter left open for discussion is the confusing logic of why blue color Republicans continued to act against self-interest by supporting and electing people who had planned all along to stab them in the back.

Following an embarrassing procedural gaffe on the previous day, Republicans in the House of Representatives on December 20, 2017 gave final approval to a major upheaval of United States tax code.  The bill was passed by a 224-201 margin, with no Democrats voting in approval. Likewise, the bill had passed in the early morning hours of the same day in the Senate by a 51-48 margin, again, with no Democrats in support of the measure.

An earlier CNN poll revealed that 55 per cent of Americans were opposed to passage of the bill, while 33 per cent supported it.  Nevertheless, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told CNN that Republicans would try to sell the bill to the public in the coming months. McConnell further said: “My view of this, if we can’t sell this to the American people, we ought to go into another line of work.” As of now, a majority of Americans stand ready to show him the way to the unemployment office.

Among other things, the plan reduces the corporate tax rate from 35 per cent to 21 per cent, repeals the corporate alternative minimum tax, doubles the standard deduction for individuals and restructures the way pass through businesses are taxed. Further, the bill keeps seven personal income tax brackets and lowers tax rates for most brackets, including dropping the top rate from 39.6 per cent to 37 per cent.

The Joint Committee on Taxation found that all income groups will, on average, see a tax cut in 2019, but projections worsen over time. In 2019, all taxpayers would see an 8 per cent tax cut.  However, the JCT found that by 2027 taxpayers earning up to $75,000 would receive a tax increase–this would stem from the sunsetting individual rate cuts in the final GOP bill, along with the repeal of Obamacare’s individual mandate.

The compiled document consists of more than 1,000 pages. Most of the Republicans who voted for this bill had only a general knowledge of what the document contained, but in a specific sense, were entirely unaware of some provisions added at the last minute by lobbyists intent on feathering the nest of wealthy individuals at the expense of middle class taxpayers. Absent a repeal of the entire piece of legislation, these secret, last minute addendums will cause nightmares for honest people for years, or perhaps even decades.

A good example of the foregoing fiasco is the last minute sweetener inserted during the reconciliation conference, which personally benefits Bob Corker (R-Tenn). The “Corker Kickback” provision (so named by critics of the Senator), according to International Business Times allows owners of real estate businesses to take a special 20 per cent deduction for so-called pass-through income.  The deduction had originally been designed to exclude businesses like real estate partnerships, which often have few employees. The publication also pointed to several real estate partnerships Corker has stakes in and estimated the tax bill could save him more than $1 million. Who said it doesn’t pay to change your vote from a “no” to “yes”?

Ominous warnings are even coming from wealthy Americans. In an opinion editorial dated November 30, 2017, Abigail Disney, the grandniece of film giant Walt Disney, stated:

Although I was raised amid privilege and good fortune, I have always been cognizant of income and wealth inequality. It has never sat well with me. Since the election of Ronald Reagan, the gap between rich and poor has grown dramatically and “trickle down” economics has turned out to cause more of a trickle up. But nothing has brought the problem of inequality into sharper focus for me than the current proposals by Republicans to overhaul the tax system.​Right now, under both House and Senate tax plans, the result of the overhaul will be to increase the proportional burden of public spending on an already strained middle class, to decrease the responsibility of the wealthy to contribute to the common good, and to further widen the gulf that already separates the two. Republicans insist this plan will cut taxes for the middle class, but the truth is that any meager savings will be offset by losses elsewhere — in deductions no longer allowed, loss of Medicaid and Medicare coverage, and less funding for education, all of which are on the chopping block in order to provide a tax cut for a few very wealthy people like me.

Beginning in 2018, middle class taxpayers will notice a bump of about 20 to 40 dollars in weekly take home pay as a result of the “Tax Reform Act” of 2017.  This will allow them to purchase pizza for their family one night a week. But this paltry annual sum of perhaps two thousand dollars pales in comparison to the millions that wealthy individuals will receive each year from this greed inspired act.

Wages have been stagnant since the 2008 recession, and contrary to the fear mongering tripe of malign nationalists, Americans have never objected to immigrants crossing our borders to pick pickles and harvest apples. White Americans don’t want those jobs.  What they do want is something better than the $30,000.00 per year job with which they now attempt to support a family of four.  Republicans continue this harangue about jobs being exported to other countries, when the real culprit is automation.  Experts legitimately claim that 80 per cent of the jobs lost in America are the result of computer driven automation.

What Americans have objected to is employers importing foreign nationals to fill jobs that pay over $100,000.00 per year instead of training Americans to fill the positions. Common sense tells us that even this administration’s much heralded coal miners would rather have a decent education and a job that comfortably supports their family. But Republicans, as this “tax reform” indicates, are not interested in education–unless it somehow lines their pockets with a new windfall.

Nevertheless, appropriate retribution will be exacted in the national elections slated for 2018. Democrats have already shown an ability, both to unseat indifferent Republicans holding gerrymandered districts in Virginia,  and to deny a disgustingly unfit candidate federal office in Alabama. 2018 will be a political blood bath. But preparations for this reversal should come immediate.

There are nine states that have constitutions which authorize removal of federal officers. No case involving this subject matter has been decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, but most attorneys general of these states have issued opinions which deny such a right.  However, in 1979 the Wisconsin Attorney General issued an opinion stating that “a state administration could not reject a petition for recall of a member of the U.S. Congress.” Thus it would behoove the people of Wisconsin to initiate a recall petition against one of the authors of this unconscionable transfer of funds from the poor to the rich, U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (currently finishing the first year of a six year term), and let the Supreme Court settle the issue.

These self-absorbed merchants of greed are intent upon proving a new theory; that one can wear more than one suit at one time, or, one can eat more than one mouthful of food at one time. So John Q. Public will enjoy pizza for a few short years, while the real beneficiaries of this scam will not be creating jobs as Republicans claim, but instead, will be purchasing new interest bearing investments with funds derived from the most corrupt legislative act in the history of this constitutional republic.

 

Truman Goodspeed, December 2017