#Politics: Trump’s Dystopia

Over 200,00 Americans have paid with their lives for the sins
of trump’s corrupt enablers.

I will never understand why the people who betray us
expect us to love them for it.

This post is now available at DemCastUSA.

Photographs of San Francisco during the #Covid-19 Pandemic
CVS pharmacy boarded up on Haight and Fillmore, June 26, 2020
A tent on 17th Street, Sept 2020-
A tent on 17th Street, September 2020-
Photographs of San Francisco during the #Covid-19 Pandemic
Fillmore Street, October 2020
Photographs of San Francisco during the #Covid-19 Pandemic
A row of tents on 16th Street, September 2020
Photographs of San Francisco during the #Covid-19 Pandemic
The San Francisco Civic Center and City Hall, September 23rd, 2020
A photograph of stickers on Valencia Street
Stickers on Valencia Street October 2020
Photographs of San Francisco during the #Covid-19 Pandemic
A drawing of George Floyd on a shuttered business on 7th Street
16th Street July 2020
Photographs of San Francisco during the #Covid-19 Pandemic
Tents at 16th and Dolores Streets, August 2020
Photographs of San Francisco during the #Covid-19 Pandemic
Dolores Street, October 2020
Photographs of San Francisco during the #Covid-19 Pandemic
A drawing of Icarus on the plywood on the windows of a closed business in Hayes Valley August 4, 2020
A drawing on plywood on Market Street
A drawing on plywood on Market Street
Tents on Dolores Street, Sept 2020
Tents on Dolores Street, Sept 2020
Tents on Dolores Street, August 23 2020
Tents on Dolores Street, August 23, 2020
Photographs of San Francisco during the #Covid-19 Pandemic
History lessons on a garage on 18th Street August 4, 2020
A photograph of a sign that reads frab them by the ballot box
A photograph of a sign on Fillmore Street October 6, 2020
Clarion Alley August 23 2020
Clarion Alley August 23, 2020
Photographs of San Francisco during the #Covid-19 Pandemic
‘Have Hope’ – The Bus Shelter on Fillmore at Haight

All photographs were taken between August and October in San Francisco.

(c) Rob Goldstein 2020

#Politics: The 10 (or more) Top Reasons I Stand with Joe Biden

Trump and his Flying Monkeys are branding average Americans as radical
left-wing extremists. Therefore, I must state what I stand for:

I stand for the principle that all people are equal before the law.

I stand for our right as Americans to have a President who treats us with dignity and respect.

I stand for our centuries-long commitment to building a more perfect Union.

I stand for our military and its right to a Commander in Chief who is worthy of respect.

I stand for healthy children who have plenty to eat and safe schools.

I stand for investing in our future with a fully funded system of public education.

I stand for science over superstition, fact over opinion, and reason over violence.

I stand for a government based on compassion, one that works for all of us.

I stand for American Democracy, our NATO Allies, the Paris Accords and
the Rule of Law.

Therefore I stand with Joe Biden, not because I am a Democrat or a Progressive; I stand with Joe Biden because, as a citizen of a great democracy, I want a President who knows I am somebody,  that my life matters, that my voice counts.

Make Racism Wrong Again
Make Racism Wrong Again

If you #StandWithJoeBiden and have the time to help get out the vote, please consider doing so.  To learn more about how you can help get the vote out in your state and others, please visit DemCastUSA.

Or click here: Six Weeks to Go–Actions You Can Take to Win the Election

Rob Goldstein September 25, 2020

50 Years of Angry White People: Dividing the Democrats

In 2016 angry white people were in the news.

Why were they angry?

Michael Kimmel, a Professor of Sociology, called it an aggrieved entitlement.

A November 2015 survey of 3,257 US adults conducted by Esquire and NBC produced the following bits of data: white people are more likely than black people to say their current financial situation isn’t what they thought it would be when they were younger, and they were also more likely to put that down to difficult circumstances rather than “wrong choices”.
When asked whether they ever hear or read anything on the news that makes them angry, white respondents were more likely than black ones to say they felt angry at least twice a day. There were gender differences too – men were more likely than women to say that they felt angry about the treatment of white men.”Esquire

In the 1960s, Southern whites were angry about integration and desegregation.

They hated John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson for using the power of the Federal Government to protect the civil rights and the safety of black students who wanted to enroll in school.

Art by Rob Goldstein
Wanted poster from Dallas, Texas, November 1963.

When President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act in 1964, angry white people decided the Federal Government was a ‘problem.’

The Government was too big, they said.

The Government had no respect for individual liberty (white privilege).

In 1969, GOP strategist Kevin Phillips wrote The Emerging Republican Majority.

 

Newsweek called The Emerging Republican Majority the political bible of the Nixon Administration.

Kevin Phillips stated to New York Times Magazine in 1970:


“All the talk about Republicans making inroads into the Negro vote is persiflage. Even ‘Jake the Snake’ Senator Jacob Javits of New York only gets 20 percent. From now on, Republicans are never going to get more than 10 to 20 percent of the Negro vote, and they don’t need any more than that… but Republicans would be shortsighted if they weakened the Voting Rights Act. The more Negroes who register as Democrats in the South, the sooner the Negrophobe whites will quit the Democrats and become Republicans. That’s where the votes are. Without that prodding from the blacks, the whites will backslide into their old comfortable arrangement with the local Democrats.”
New York Times Magazine

In my research of Kevin Phillips and the Southern Strategy, I found image files at the New Yorker website of a 1971 Memo to H.R. Haldeman from Pat Buchanan. Pat Buchanan wrote ‘Dividing the Democrats anonymously. 

George Packer, a columnist at the New Yorker, describes how he got the memo:

“I wanted to hear tales of the Nixon years, and Buchanan—between writing his syndicated column and getting ready to drive to the studios of MSNBC for a televised political talk, which he called “bread and circuses”—was happy to oblige. After all, he’d been present at the creation of the themes and tactics that led to forty years of conservative domination of American politics, and he was proud of it. At one point, he mentioned a memo that he’d written for Nixon in 1971 under the heading “Dividing the Democrats.”

Art by Rob Goldstein


Packer describes Dividing the Democrats as a Machiavellian primer on the vulnerabilities of the New Deal coalition.

“It reminded me of how relatively gentle and civilized the supposedly vicious campaign of 2008 has been.“  George Packer

Art by Rob Goldstein


Dividing the Democrats was the foundation of the Republican Southern Strategy to stoke racism and division to turn White Southerners against the New Deal.

Journalist Dan Baum wrote in the April cover story of Harper’s about an interview with John Ehrlichman in 1994 while working on a book about drug prohibition.

“You want to know what this was really all about?” he asked with the bluntness of a man who, after public disgrace and a stretch in federal prison, had little left to protect. “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.” Harpers

Dividing the Democrats Screenshot 4

In 1980 angry white people elected Ronald Reagan.

They got their wish, and the government shrank.

Reagan cut funding for public education.

He closed community colleges.

He ended federal grants and scholarships to the poor.

He cut funding for community mental health programs.

Art by Rob Goldstein


When President George Herbert Walker Bush lost to Bill Clinton in 1992, angry white people got even angrier.

They didn’t like Bill Clinton.

They didn’t like Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

They didn’t like AmeriCorps and the idea of public service. 

And they really didn’t like his uppity feminist wife who wanted to give universal health care to the undeserving (black people).

So they organized, and in 1995, they elected a GOP House that did everything it could to destroy Bill Clinton.

The ‘Gingrich Revolution’ also did everything it could to further destroy economic opportunities for the poor:

More cuts to education.

More cuts to community mental health.

More cuts to federal vocational programs.

Lifetime limits on access to welfare.

In 2000 angry white people fought recounts in Florida to prevent a Gore Presidency:

“As angry as conservatives have felt over the nearly three weeks since Election Day, a clear turning point in this remarkably twisting story line came Friday, when Joe Lieberman stepped up to liken GOP protesters in Miami-Dade County to a “mob” trying to “intimidate” vote counters. Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-Manhattan) chimed in, saying the Miami-Dade rally had a “whiff of fascism.” Conservatives see these statements – along with other Democrats’ invoking of the Voting Rights Act – as efforts to silence protests against recount outrages.” The Brooks Brothers Riot

At last, angry white people thought they had a ‘Southern’ President to make sure that no part of the government would go to the undeserving (Black people).

But something went wrong.

An African-American, Barack Hussein Obama, became President in 2009.

He spoke of a nightmare scenario of healthcare for everyone, including the undeserving (Black people).

When the Affordable Care Act was passed and signed into law in 2010, angry white people got furious and formed an angry right-wing Tea Party Movement. 

In 2014, with a combination of right-wing activism and liberal apathy,  the Tea Party Movement helped elect a partisan hard-right House and Senate.

Angry white people had a racist House and Senate that was openly hostile to the first African-American President. They had Fox News to tell them the lies they wanted to hear, and they used the power of their local governments to make sure that no one in their states got anything they didn’t deserve, and the lives of angry white people got worse, not better.

They have shorter life expediencies. 

They have less education, and their children are more likely
to grow up in poverty, sick, and malnourished.

Paul Krugman of the New York Times wrote:

“…social collapse in the white working class is a deadly serious issue. Literally. Last fall, the economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton attracted widespread attention with a paper showing that mortality among middle-aged white Americans, which had been declining for generations, started rising again circa 2000. This rising death rate mainly reflected suicide, alcohol and overdoses of drugs, notably prescription opioids. (Marx declared that religion was the opium of the people. But in 21st-century America, it appears that opioids are the opium of the people.)
And other signs of social unraveling, from deteriorating health to growing isolation, are also on the rise among American whites. Something is going seriously wrong in the heartland.”
 
On Invincible Ignorance

In 2016 the Russian Federation under Vladimir Putin launched a psychological attack on the United States and our 2016 Presidential elections.

Putin had a preferred candidate, and it wasn’t that uppity feminist, Hillary Clinton.

Putin’s preferred candidate won.

The nation’s angry white people finally have a president as white, and as dishonest, and as racist and angry as they are.

His lies have killed 200,000 thousand Americans.

He helps tyrants murder journalists and allows Vladimir Putin to place bounties on the lives of our soldiers.

He disparages members of our armed forces as dopes and losers.

He uses Russian propaganda to pervert the Constitution and subvert the rule of law.

He has destroyed the economy, alienated our allies, compromised our National Security, and brought the United States to its knees.

In 2016 Terrance Heath, a writer for the Huffington Post, compared America’s angry white people to two-year-olds:

“The behavior we’re seeing is basically the extreme of the Republican base kicking and screaming because they believe that if they throw a big enough tantrum, they can hold off change, turn back the transition period already begun, and keep things the way they are — or go back to the way they were.”

He suggested we pick them up and carry them forward with us:

“…we pick up the tantruming toddler under one arm — in such a way that he doesn’t hurt himself or anyone else — and carry him forward with us. It doesn’t mean the tantrum ends right away.”
Terrance Heath The Tyranny of the Tantrum

But we have not carried our nation’s angry white people forward; they have dragged us backward and are driving us our graves.

It is 2020.

America’s angry white people are still angry.

And we are dying.

 

First published March 28, 2016-Revised and updated September 20, 2020

(c) Rob Goldstein 2016 – 2020 All Rights reserved

Header image by Rob Goldstein

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Reagan, Trump and the Cruelty of Indifference

There may be triggers in this post.

How do we trust our government when the President is a pathological liar?

For people over 60, every interaction is fraught with death.

When the #COVID-19 shutdown began five months ago, my partner was with his elderly Mother in San Bruno, where he remains.

A few weeks ago, I started meeting with my therapist in Dolores Park. On my walks to the park, I noticed more homeless people in new tents.

Yesterday I saw a collection of freshly laundered business suits draped in plastic over a bright blue tent.

Blue Pup Tent
A Memory of Market Street

The sight of It broke my heart.

When I can’t take any more Trumpian abuse, I switch and log into VR, where my alternates recreated the homeless encampments of the 1980s.

Trump’s intentional mismanagement of COVID-19 is reminiscent of Reagan’s indifference to mental illness and the outbreak of AIDS.

The consequences of Reagan’s policies were as traumatic as the treacheries of my childhood.

A Memory of market Street
A Memory of Market Street

I spent most of the 1980s preparing to die from AIDS. 

I asked myself what I wanted to do with the last days of the rest of my life and chose writing.

I had wanted to be a poet as a youth, but I took my Grandmother’s advice to make poetry an avocation, something to do in old age, which was suddenly 29.

In August of 1984, I befriended a poet best known in the gay community for his homoerotic poetry. I was ballsy enough to ask him to teach me to write poetry, and he said yes.

He offered me a room in his rented cottage on Albion Street in San Francisco’s Mission District.

I took the room and began the painful work of becoming literate.

By day I absorbed centuries of writing and literary criticism.

By night, I wrote as much as possible,  desperate to leave a legacy as my community sickened and died.

I also worked full time as a fitness trainer at the local YMCA.

Four years of Reagan’s budget cuts culminated in a permanent population of  disabled people living on and in the gutters.

It started with the mentally ill.

The mentally ill were soon joined by gay teens who came from all over the country, many from abusive communities and families.

Some of these kids formed an alliance with AIDS activists and built a sprawling encampment at San Francisco’s Civic Center.

I wonder where they're going with that Bat-2
I wonder where they’re going with those Bats

As AIDS took my friends, I began to compulsively check my arms and legs for KS lesions and had a crisis over every blemish.

In 1985, an alternate, inspired by the Nathaniel West short story, ‘Miss Lonelyhearts’ emerged.

Like Miss Lonelyhearts, the alternate had a Christ complex.

He took dangerous all-night walks into the homeless encampments at Civic Center and around the adult cinemas and arcades on Market Street and in the Tenderloin.

He returned to the cottage at 6 AM to write a paragraph and sleep.

He called himself Loleeta Morales of Los Portales.

The name, Loleeta, is a regrettable pun.  Morales was the name of one of my many shrinks, and Los Portales was the name of a popular gay dance bar in San Francisco’s Mission District.

‘Loleeta’ became more emotionally unstable with every walk, and I sometimes ‘woke up’ in a crisis clinic or on a locked psychiatric unit with no memory of why I was there.  Still, I always found a story in Loleeta’s notebook.

““A locked psychiatric unit stinks.

A janitor arrives in the morning to stir the floor with his mop.

A Nurse patrols the day room with a can of Lysol spritzing above
her head.

Dr. Christopher Morales is a German from Brazil.

He is like a frog becoming a prince, frozen in transition.

Dr. Morales watches me eat breakfast with a look of calculated concern.

“You like your breakfast?” He asks.

I nod and nibble the tip of a sausage.

“You are feeling suicidal today?”

I nod and swallow.

“How long do you do you intend to feel this way?”

“Until the day I die!” I say sweetly,  so Doctor Morales hops
off in pursuit of a fly.””

Excerpt from Los Portales, 1987

Psychiatrists thought Xanax was a treatment for depression, so mine had me on eight milligrams a day.

Loleeta frightened me because I didn’t know why ‘he’ existed, and I worried he would get us killed.

When I expressed these concerns to my psychiatrist, he upped the Xanax.

By 1986,  I was sick enough to meet Reagan’s definition of total disability.

“The law defines disability as the inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity (SGA) by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment(s) which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.”

Disability Evaluation Under Social Security

My psychiatrist said I had a potentially lethal mood disorder so the government reluctantly gave me a grant of 700 dollars a month.

By 1987 I was on the brink of homelessness and wondered why I was still alive

I was sickened by Reagan’s government and felt betrayed by my thirtysomething peers, whose political activism became an empty rebellion of style.

“Loleeta Morales reclines to read her favorite leftish magazine.

She offers this excerpt from an Utne article entitled, ‘The Place of the Poor in our Cities:

Poor people have taught us so much about how to move rhythmically and melodically down the street, about how to use color and ornamentation to say new things about ourselves, about how to bring out the rhetorical and theatrical powers of the English language in our every day talk.”

Loleeta writes: “I can teach them how to walk, talk, and dress.”

She decides to prepare herself for the task. First, she needs a hit of speed to kill the hunger. Next, she needs an especially well-swept section of The City: where is the color and ornamentation of her poverty needed most? Does the Castro want some rhetoric? And what shall she wear? Her wardrobe expands with possibilities. She settles on an avant-garde pair of shit-stained chinos topped with fading looks and tie.

Loleeta writes:

I never thought I would have a special place in the life of a city. For this, I am grateful.”

She crosses herself and enters traffic.

Lights change on her command.

Loleeta Morales looms over San Francisco like a Godzilla in search of King Kong. Her jaw flops open, and she roars: “How many bores wanna be like Loleeta Morales!”

Dozens she decides.

As if the hills are alive with the theatrical joy of Loleeta, she storms 18th Street like a mob with convictions. There was money in her mailbox today, her payday for going crazy

With that thought in mind, she clamors into the Bank of America.

“Cash my check!” she demands.

“Gladly!” the teller answers.

And Loleeta takes her place in the scheme of things.”

Excerpt from Los Portales, 1987

In late 1987 I tested negative for AIDS, and Loleeta and my bi-polar illness went away.

“Loleeta Morales” ran my life for over two years.

In the end, Loleeta committed suicide and left me with 200 pages of a story that frightened and confused me.

“Loleeta  Morales decides to die from compassion instead of lust and self-loathing.

She is the New Puritan who brings a message of cleanliness: yesterday’s stud is today’s carrier, so Loleeta gets carried away.

She writes: “Now is the time when I, Loleeta Morales, will deliver my eulogy — because no one else can possibly know how nice I am.

I was a good girl. I respected science. I felt the Constitution of the United States was worth reading. I also felt that food was something I had a right to because the anguish of hunger us cruel.

Let it be said at my funeral that I was always one of the others.”

Excerpt from Los Portales, 1987

It is 2020.

Our president is a racist who persecutes migrant children. He extorts our allies and invites tyrants to help him rig our elections.

He is using a deadly virus to kill off the poor and disabled as he spreads enemy propaganda designed to distract and confuse our people.

Reagan’s 80s proved that average Americans will not only normalize a disgusting abuse of political power, they will also happily condescend to and blame the victims, if the consequences don’t directly affect them.

Can we undo the mistakes in collective judgment that got us here?  Can we face up to and atone for over 40 years of our complicit abuse of the poor and disabled?

During the shutdown, I built a virtual replica of the homeless encampments on Market Street in the 1980s.

I log in to remember and bear witness.

“Young girls are coming to the Canyon.

They make their way up Polk Street; hustle the arcade on
Turk and Ellis.

Young girls are coming: in the all-night cinema on Jones Street.

Where the homeless sleep in the aisles.

Where the pushers hustle the john.

Loleeta sees them and loves them.

She is the queer Jesus, come in the true spirit of Christianity.

She witnesses to the sick and needy,

She does it with the patience of a god.”

Excerpt from Loleeta, 1987

A Memory of Market Street
Young Girls are Coming to the Canyon

“The homeless are “homeless, you might say, by choice,” Ronald Reagan, 1984

The Mattress
The Mattress

All Images by Rob Goldstein 2020
(c) Rob Goldstein 2020