Monthly Archives: August 2017

American Vanguard


Image result for Hans-Joachim SchoepsAlthough they were few and far between, there were groups of German Jews who supported the rise of Adolph Hitler and the Third Reich.  One such organization was the German Vanguard led by Hans-Joachim Schoeps (1909-1980), a professor of religious studies at the University of Erlangen in northern Bavaria.

According to a document in the archives of the SHOAH Resource Center at Yad Vasham, Israel’s holocaust memorial and museum:

Schoeps and his followers were extremely patriotic Germans who wanted to be seen as a Jewish political movement within the revival of German nationalism. They looked down on Eastern European Jews, and opposed Zionism, Marxism, and liberalism. Zionism was considered negative because Zionists wanted to become a separate Jewish nation like any other, while the Vanguard believed that German Jews belonged to the German nation, and were only different with regard to their religion. They even saw Zionism as a type of assimilation away from pure German-ness.

Vanguard members failed to understand that the Nazis hated Jews because of their race, and considered them to be non-Aryan, or non-German, to the core. They thought that Jews would eventually be allowed to integrate into the Third Reich. Nonetheless, fearing arrest, Schoeps fled to Sweden in 1938, where he kept up contact with German conservatives throughout the war.

On several occasions over the past two years I have wondered how any Jewish-American could support Donald Trump based on individuals he selected as advisers, some of the company he keeps, his re-tweeting content from neo-Nazi and other anti-Semitic sources and his reluctance to call out anti-Semitic behavior by some of his supporters.  Equally distressing was their willingness to overlook warning signs in return for policies which they believed would result in national economic growth and personal financial gain.  Ironically, members of the German Vanguard expressed the exact same sentiments.  Does Schoeps’ willingness to support the Third Reich’s focus on German nationalism remind you of anything you’ve heard recently?

But there is one more major difference between the German Vanguard of the 1930’s and what I will call the American Vanguard which exists today.  The current version is more diverse than its historic ancestor.  It includes Hispanic-Americans who discounted Trump’s characterization of Mexicans as rapists, criminals and drug dealers.  And as was most evident over the course of the past week, white Evangelicals who have traded in the Sermon on the Mount for Trump’s tweets and rants.

The best evidence of the religious right’s membership in the American Vanguard is the response by members of Trump’s Evangelical Advisory Board.

Jerry Fallwell, Jr., president of Liberty University, praised Trump’s “bold truthful stmt about #charlottesville. So proud of @realdonaldtrump.”  Twitter/August 16, 2017

Johnnie Moore, National Association of Evangelicals.  “NO, I am not pulling out as an Evangelical advisor to the White House.  It’s not our job to take advice but to give It.  I will keep giving it.” Twitter/August 16, 2017

Pastor Mark Burns, referring to the two sides represented in Charlottesville. “BOTH are violent and dangerous.”  Twitter/August 15, 2017

When Tony Suarez, Vice-President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference tweeted we need leaders who will unite rather than divide, he quickly clarified he did not mean Trump was one of those dividing the country.

Televangelist James Robinson’s contribution. “Are we going to rip Amazaing Grace out of every hymnbook because John Newton was a slave trader?”

Pastor Jack Graham chose to retweet a call to tear down statues of Charles Darwin, claiming “Darwin was a white supremacist and racist if ever there was one.”

To be fair, three of the 25 members of the board condemned the organizers of and participants in the Unite for Right demonstration in Charlottesville.  But none resigned from the advisory group and none chastised Trump for his comments on Saturday or Tuesday.

There’s an old saying about what motivates individual behavior.  “We know what we are, we’re just haggling over the price.”  Sadly, in this case, the cost of membership in the American Vanguard is One’s Soul.

For what it’s worth.


Profiles in Pseudo-Courage


This morning was the breaking point.  No, not for Donald J. Trump.  That came a long time ago.  Today was MY breaking point.  It came when Joe Scarborough described Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) as courageous for standing up to the enabler-in-chief in a series of Tweets.  Excuse me, but posting a Tweet is not an act of courage any more than my blogging could be described as such.  It is someone sharing their opinion.  And if Scarborough honestly believes that denouncing someone who is sympathetic to neo-Nazis, Klan members and white supremacists is a sign of courage, he is WRONG.  Here’s why based on an article by Dr.  Melanie Greenberg in Psychology Today titled, “The Six Attributes of Courage.”

Image result for tiananmen squareFeeling Fear Yet Choosing to Act

When I think of courage, I think of a Chinese student standing in front of a tank in Tiananmen Square.  Or John McCain choosing to stay at the Hanoi Hilton with his fellow POWs when offered the opportunity to go home. Or Martin Luther King leading a march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama.  Not a Senator tweeting what I’m sure was a statement which had gone through multiple edits.  What was he afraid of?  Carpal tunnel syndrome?

Following Your Heart

There’s one thing about the heart.  Unless diseased or damaged, it is consistent.  It pumps blood the exact same way 24/7.  During the 2016 campaign, Rubio said, “Trump is dangerous and we must not hand the nuclear codes of the United States to an erratic individual.”  Did that come from Rubio’s heart?  One month later Rubio announced his support for the party’s presumptive nominee.  I guess not!

Persevering in the Face of Adversity

There was a time when one might say Rubio demonstrated an inkling of courage when he served on the “gang of eight,” a bi-partisan group of senators who produced a comprehensive immigration proposal in 2013.  The bill which emerged from this effort passed the Senate by a vote of 68-32.  However, as soon as Rubio realized his role in this endeavor was a liability when he chose to pursue the Republican nomination for president, he withdrew from the group and dropped his support.

Standing Up for What Is Right

Florida has the 46th lowest health care coverage among the states, 13.3 percent versus a national average of 9.1 percent.  That difference is largely due to Governor Rick Scott’s decision to forego broader Medicaid coverage available under the Affordable Care Act.  Rubio opposed passage of ACA and has voted for its repeal on numerous occasions despite the fact 760,000 Floridians have been added to the health insurance rolls as a result of the legislation.  Did Rubio encourage Governor Scott to take advantage of the Medicaid provision even if he had not supported it?  NO!   Yet Senator Rubio had no problem celebrating projects which were funded via the Obama stimulus package even though he campaigned in 2010 on a platform which referred to the economic recovery act as a wasteful boondoggle.

Expanding Your Horizons; Letting Go of the Familiar

CUBA!  How long will Rubio hold on to the notion that Cuba is worse than many of the other non-democracies with whom the United States has diplomatic and trade relationships?

Facing Suffering With Dignity or Faith

I’ll hold judgment on this one.  Despite being the son of two Cuban immigrants, Rubio has lived what can only be described as a traditional American experience.  The major setback in his life to date was his 20 percentage point loss to Trump in the 2016 Florida Republican primary.  As reported in a previous blog (I Can Only Imagine the Reaction), Rubio delivered a faith-based concession speech which promoted theocracy in a way that would have made the Ayatollah proud.

So, Senator, if you want to show some REAL courage, put down your smart phone or keyboard, go down to the White House and tell Donald Trump “enough is enough. You had your chance to demonstrate you deserved to be president.  YOU FAILED.  Class dismissed.”  Now that takes courage.  You will be hated by the alt-right and will probably lose their votes.  So what?  Isn’t that a risk you’re willing to take?

And you might be surprised.  The real risk may be choosing not to do this.  Think of your legacy.  Do you want to be remembered as “little Mario” who lost to Trump in your home state?  Or, like Barry Goldwater, another unsuccessful presidential candidate, do you want to be remembered as a statesman who put country above party and told Richard Nixon it was time to leave town?


Two weeks ago, I predicted the end of the Trump era during the Great Conjunction.  At the time, it was intended as a satire of a favorite movie.  In the last 24 hours, it seems that the timeline may not be that far-fetched.  So don’t be surprised if next Tuesday, the blog is renamed, “The New Nostradamus.”

For What It’s Worth.



Every new car on the road today monitors the air pressure in that vehicle’s tires.  It is a very handy feature, enabling us to correct an abnormal situation before it becomes critical.  Over the past 72 hours we have learned Donald J. Trump also has a pressure monitor, but it works in the totally opposite direction.  It measures the amount of political pressure his failing administration can endure before he is forced to do what other decent human beings might do purely based on instinct and the needle on their moral compass.

A lot of people much smarter than I have made important observations over the past three days.  But as I prefer, I am more interested in those comments which are least expected and represent counter-intuitive expression.  Yesterday, I was struck by the response from Al Sharpton when asked whether Trump’s comments over the weekend confirmed he is a racist.  Sharpton, who is known for hyperbole, took a different tact.  He explained he had no interest in opining whether any one individual was a racist.  Our focus should be on whether government policies promote and defend racism.

So let us examine, not what Trump said about the white supremacists in Charlottesville, but what he has done since Friday evening.

The Department of Homeland Security froze funding for grants to 31 applicants “including several groups dedicated to combating white supremacy and de-radicalizing neo-Nazis.” NOTE:  DHS said the grants should focus more on prevention of Islamic terrorism. (Source: 14, 2017)

During a Fox News interview on Sunday, Trump said, “I am seriously considering a pardon for Sheriff (Joe) Arpaio. He has done a lot in the fight against illegal immigration.  He is a great American patriot and I hate to see what has happened to him.”  Last time I looked, “great Americans” do not get convicted of racial profiling.

Of the three corporate CEOs who resigned from Trump’s economic advisory council, Trump took to Twitter to insult Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier.  No such rebuke was offered when Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank and Intel CEO Brian Krzanich also announced their decision to leave the group.  You guessed it, Frazier is African-American.  Plank and Krzanich are white.  The Trump University lesson:  When confronted with an inconvenient truth, attack the black guy.

Which is what led me to the subject line in today’s post.  Instead of “pounds per square inch,” we too should pay attention to the Trump pressure monitor which measures PSI.  However, in this case, it stands for “policies supporting intolerance.”

PERSONAL NOTE:  Thanks to the many friends and readers who expressed concern about my mental well-being after the events on Friday and Saturday in Charlottesville, knowing I had attended Mr. Jefferson’s University and Charlottesville was my home for four years.  As I have mentioned on numerous occasions, there is a silver lining to the Trump era.  There  is nothing that justifies the death of Heather Heyer.  But as Trump has done so many times over the past two years, he has made it impossible to deny that race is still an issue in America and has exposed the haters and their enablers for whom they truly are.


Kudos to fellow blogger Bill Palmer who used the occasion of domestic terrorism in Charlottesville to illustrate the role white privilege plays in our society.

In the hours after the attack, I went out to lunch. I walked around the streets. I went about my day like any other day. No one looked at me like I was a terrorist. No one asked me to disavow the terrorist actions of my fellow white man. If anyone had asked me whether I agreed with the actions of these white supremacists, I’d have been happy to explain that I find them repulsive. But the point is that no one even asked me. Because that’s how it works when you’re white. (Source: The Palmer Report, August 13, 2017)

Bill, thanks for a valuable insight.

For what it’s worth.


Great Non-White North


The title of today’s post is an obvious play on the SCTV sketch originated by a very young Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas in which they played the Mackenzie brothers, the ultimate stereotypes of clueless, beer guzzling Canadians.  Moranis is said to have disliked playing his character although he and Thomas appeared in 41 TV segments, two movies and commercials for Pizza Hut and Molson Beer.

Based on our experience the past two days in Winnipeg, either the parody was a gross misrepresentation of Canadian life or much has changed since Doug and Bob Mackenzie exited the airwaves.  Far from clueless, the Canadians seemed to have figured it out.  I could provide dozens of observations about the diversity which is visible throughout Winnipeg but I will focus on two specific examples.

Image result for canadian human rights museumThe first was a visit to the Canadian Human Rights Museum (CHRM) pictured here.  It stands in stark contrast to the American approach of individual halls dedicated to ethnic groups in Washington, D.C.  The seven levels of exhibits address the challenges and responses by the Canadian government and people to injustices based on race, ethnicity, religion, gender and sexual orientations.  The message is a clear and common theme.  EVERYONE DESERVES THE SAME HUMAN RIGHTS.  Equally important, the curators spared no effort in reminding visitors of past Canadian anti-human rights policies and attitudes that represent a stain on the country’s history.

One presentation was particularly striking.  It told the story of the Acadians from the time of the “Great Expulsion” of the Acadians in 1755-64 to their repatriation and the decision to make both English and French the official national languages.  One cannot help but see the parallels between the Acadians and Mexican-Americans.  An enlightened society would recognize that accepting Spanish speaking immigrants into American society is similarly repatriation of an ethnic group which lived in the Southwest prior to 1848.  Imagine if the United States followed a similar track, accepting Spanish as an official part of the American experience and culture.

There is also a hall which includes video testimonies from those who have been the beneficiaries of Canada’s current approach to human rights.  For me, the most touching was the story of Ali Duale, a Somali refugee who is now a member of the Halifax Fire Department and coaches a youth basketball team.  Too bad Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions have not seen this video.  Duale, when asked why he emigrated to Canada, replies, “It was not for a better life or money.  It was to survive.”

Image result for folkloramaThe second example is the reason we chose Winnipeg as a destination for this vacation.  The city is currently hosting Folklorama, a two week international festival with cultural pavilions representing more than 40 nations.  Last night we attended an event at the Cuban Pavilion for which all the performers were life-long Canadian residents who found outlets in Winnipeg and Edmonton to learn and perform their native music and dance.   The same was true of the “ambassadors” from several other national exhibits.  Whether Serbian or Polish, the answer to the question, “How long have you been in Canada,” the answer was always, “My whole life.”

In this morning’s Winnipeg newspaper, there was an article about the skyrocketing cost of housing in the area.  This should come as no surprise.  Want people to come visit and live in your community?  It’s simple.  Make them feel welcome.  And as the residents of the “Great Non-White North” have found, they can contribute much more than they take away.

For what it’s worth.


Who Would Have Guessed


Greetings from Winnipeg, Canada.  No, we’re not seeking asylum.  Just trying to get away from the heat and bugs that come with summer in Florida.

Image result for north and south dakota mapBefore crossing the U.S./Canada border we spent four days in the Dakotas.  While there, we did not see one Trump sign or one Trump bumper sticker.  Strange, because we thought we assumed we would be in the heart of Trump country.  We stayed off the interstate highways and the largest city we visited was Pierre, South Dakota, population 13,000.

This was in stark contrast to our last trip through rural America last October.  Even in the most royal blue states of Oregon and Washington, there were Trump banners on literally every barn and fence.  When I thought about the voters who would stick with Trump the longest, these were the folks who came to mind.

Now I realize I may have been wrong.  There are still plenty of Trump bumper stickers on cars in my home town. a mostly upper middle class community with many retirees.  Nor have I heard many of Trump’s wealthiest supporters express a change of heart.  Then it came to me.  Deep Throat of Watergate fame was right.  “Follow the money.”

Trump supporters in urban and suburban can continue to cheer his attacks on the establishment and the media without fear of GOP policies.  Our local hospital is unlikely to close regardless whether Trump and the Republican Congress gut the Affordable Care Act.  Most, if not all, of those elder Republicans’ stock port folios are probably higher than they were on election day, even though the Republicans have made no significant changes to Obama economic policies.  And there probably isn’t much in Paul Ryan’s proposed federal budget which will affect their livelihoods.

Not so in rural America.  Farm subsidies are on the chopping block.  In many rural areas, the local hospital, which serves mostly Medicaid recipients, is one of the largest employers.  When the hospital goes away, so do many of the best paying jobs. And so do the retail and service establishments. And they know, without immigrant labor, they cannot harvest all they have grown.

So, while many of us thought the mainstream Republicans who held their noses in the voting booth when pulling the Trump lever would be the first to abandon the pretender-in-chief, they have little or nothing at stake in the immediate future.  It is those rural residents in places like the Dakotas, who believed a billionaire(?) con man unlike themselves would be their voice, are the first to understand that, under Trump, they are being corralled like their livestock and plowed under just like their crops.

One can only hope the Democrats understand the political table in rural America is set.  The question is, “Do they know how to partake of this bounty?”

For what it’s worth.