Lights Out

It was 1914. It was British Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey:

A friend came to see me on one of the evenings of the last week – he thinks it was on Monday, August 3rd. We were standing at a window of my room in the Foreign Office. It was getting dusk, and the lamps were being lit in the space below on which we were looking. My friend recalls that I remarked on this with the words: “The lamps are going out all over Europe. We shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.”

Bad things were about to happen, things that would ruin the world forever, and they couldn’t be stopped. Or maybe what went so terribly wrong could be fixed by someone, one day, long after we’re all dead and gone, for all the good that will do any of us right now. It’s getting dark out there. The lamps are going out. They won’t be lit again – and the Great War began. A generation of Britain’s best and brightest young men died in Flanders’ fields. The French losses were higher. Economies were ruined. Hemingway, who lived through it all, having been wounded as an ambulance driver, became the stoic voice of that Lost Generation – the quiet men who knew it all had been a cruel farce.

No one won. Germany had lost, but the punitive Treaty of Versailles had enraged and shamed the Germans, and had enraged and shamed young Adolf Hitler in particular. He led a movement to make Germany great again, one that channeled that rage and weaponized that shame, and then the whole world had to fight another war to deal with that. No lamps had been lit again, and this time six million Jews died in those concentration camps. There was that World War II song When the Lights Go On Again – to let the late Sir Edward Grey know that someone was about to fix this. Everything would soon be okay, but Sir Edward Grey had died in 1933 – he had been right about those relit lamps. He’d never see them.

On October 16, 1938, Winston Churchill did his famous broadcast to London and America about the lights going out all across Europe – again. This time it was Hitler who had to be stopped:

Dictatorship – the fetish worship of one man – is a passing phase. A state of society where men may not speak their minds, where children denounce their parents to the police, where a businessman or small shopkeeper ruins his competitor by telling tales about his private opinions; such a state of society cannot long endure if brought into contact with the healthy outside world. The light of civilized progress with its tolerances and co-operation, with its dignities and joys, has often in the past been blotted out. But I hold the belief that we have now at last got far enough ahead of barbarism to control it, and to avert it, if only we realize what is afoot and make up our minds in time. We shall do it in the end. But how much harder our toil for every day’s delay!

The light of civilized progress with its tolerances and cooperation, with its dignities and joys – those were the lamps that were going out, and good men couldn’t let that happen – but these things happen all the time. The lamps are now going out all across America:

What may seem like a dramatic rise in the number of hate harassment and hate incidents happening across the country in the wake of Tuesday’s general election is not in anyone’s imagination, experts say.

There indeed has been a spike in the number of reports of such incidents, say representatives for two organizations that track such occurrences. A representative for one group, in fact, said the rise appears to be even worse that what was took place immediately after the terror attacks in 2001.

“Since the election, we’ve seen a big uptick in incidents of vandalism, threats, intimidation spurred by the rhetoric surrounding Mr. Trump’s election,” Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala., told USA TODAY. “The white supremacists out there are celebrating his victory and many are feeling their oats,” Cohen said.

The incidents, some that bring up memories of the Jim Crow era, continued into Friday. In Philadelphia, the University of Pennsylvania issued a statement saying it was working to find the source of racist messages sent to black freshmen, and in Syracuse, N.Y., a group of pickup trucks – one draped with the Confederate flag – drove through an anti-Trump rally. In Columbus, Ohio, a man banged on the car window while a Muslim woman was driving, her children and elderly parents with her, and told her, “Cunt, you don’t belong in this country,” according to the Council on American-Islamic Relations, based in Washington.

All those were added to the list of incidents that included black children being told to get to the back of a bus and Latino children being taunted about the wall that Trump promised to build between Mexico and the United States.

Five days too late, Donald Trump offered this:

President-elect Donald Trump said Sunday he was aware of reports that some of his supporters may be harassing Latinos, Muslims and members of other minority groups – a development he said must stop immediately.

In an extensive interview broadcast on CBS’ “60 Minutes,” Trump said that such behavior represented only “a very small amount” of his support but that any was unacceptable.

“Don’t do it,” the president-elect said. “That’s terrible, because I’m going to bring this country together.”

To reinforce the point, Trump looked directly at the camera and demanded: “Stop it.”

For Americans who have loudly expressed fear about his impending presidency, Trump was reassuring, saying: “I would tell them, ‘Don’t be afraid, absolutely. Don’t be afraid. We are going to bring our country back. But certainly, don’t be afraid.'”

Yes, everyone should relax:

House Speaker Paul Ryan continued to make the case that he and Donald Trump don’t differ too much on key issues, saying Sunday that the president-elect and other Republicans have similar views on health care and immigration.

Ryan (R-Wis.) tried to emphasize common ground in an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union.”

For example, he said people should “put their minds at ease” about a roving deportation force, which neither Trump nor rank-and-file Republicans want.

“We’re focused on securing the border. We believe a security enforcement bill is our top priority,” Ryan said. “We are not planning on erecting a deportation force. Donald Trump is not planning on that.”

He’s planning on this:

Trump told CBS’s 60 Minutes that he still planned to immediately deport 2 million to 3 million illegal immigrants – mostly criminals.

“What we are going to do is get the people that are criminal and have criminal records, gang members, drug dealers, where a lot of these people, probably 2 million, it could be even 3 million, we are getting them out of our country or we are going to incarcerate,” Trump said in an interview with CBS on 60 Minutes. “But we’re getting them out of our country, they’re here illegally.”

Newt Gingrich, a former speaker of the House and a member of Trump’s transition team, told CBS News on Sunday that Trump needs to be aggressive on immigration.

This is aggressive. That’s two to three million people gone, immediately, but Trump doesn’t seem to know how many, exactly, and they’d be “mostly” criminals – as far as he can tell, or anyone can tell – so lots of people really should be afraid. Trump seems to be making this up as he goes along, and of course this will take a deportation force.

And then there are two other matters:

President-Elect Donald Trump said the issue of marriage equality in the U.S. is settled Supreme Court law and he’s “fine with that,” yet pledged to support overturning the 1973 high court decision that a woman has a right to choose to have an abortion.

He seems a bit unsure of what settled Supreme Court law is. One is settled and the other isn’t? How does that work? Gays need not be afraid. Women should be. He once said that any woman who has ever had an abortion – that may be about fifteen percent of all adult women – should be severely punished. The pro-life crowd made him back off of that. The doctors should be charged with murder – women just don’t know what they’re doing most of the time. Women are like that. But either way, women should be afraid. The choice between being called a cold-blooded murderer or being seen as just too stupid for words isn’t that nice a choice.

Are the lamps going out all across America? That may be. The real news of the day was this:

President-elect Donald Trump named his top two advisers on Sunday, signaling an aggressive agenda and setting up what could be a battle within the White House between the populist, outsider forces that propelled his winning campaign and the party establishment that dominates Washington.

Trump named Reince Priebus, the head of the Republican National Committee, as his chief of staff. In appointing Priebus, 44, Trump has brought into his White House a Washington insider who is viewed as broadly acceptable by vast swaths of the party, and he signaled a willingness to work within the establishment he assailed on the campaign trail.

But the president-elect sent an opposing signal by tapping Stephen K. Bannon, his combative campaign chief and former head of the incendiary Breitbart News, as his chief strategist and senior counselor. Bannon, 62, has openly attacked congressional leadership, taking particular aim at House Speaker Paul D. Ryan ­(R-Wis.) – who recommended Priebus for his new job.

That seems odd. One guy will work with Congress, the other guy will call them fools, but that’s not the real problem here:

Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said in a statement: “President-elect Trump’s choice of Steve Bannon as his top aide signals that White Supremacists will be represented at the highest levels in Trump’s White House.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center, a hate-watch group, blasted the choice of Bannon. It called him “the main driver behind ­Breitbart becoming a white ethno-nationalist propaganda mill” and cited Breitbart headlines that included a call to hoist the Confederate flag weeks after shootings at a black Charleston, S.C., church and another that said that political correctness “protects Muslim rape culture.”

Bannon was charged with misdemeanor domestic violence against his former wife more than 20 years ago; the charges included trying to prevent a victim or witness of crime from reporting, inflicting injury and battery. Bannon was never convicted and the case was dismissed. His former wife also accused him of making anti-Semitic remarks, according to a court statement obtained by the New York Daily News.

Trump surrogate Newt Gingrich blasted the idea Sunday that Trump’s campaign catered to the alt-right, calling it “garbage.”

Newt will say what’s necessary, but Jose DelReal has more:

Bannon, who was the executive chairman of Breitbart News before joining the Trump campaign in August, will serve as chief strategist and senior counselor for Trump; that will give Bannon authority over the strategic direction of the White House. Bannon will assume a similar role to that of Karl Rove during George W. Bush’s administration and recently by longtime strategist John Podesta under President Obama.

Bush had various chiefs of staff, but he always had Karl Rove guiding him. Rove has been called Bush’s Brain. Bush called him “Turd Blossom” – a nasty piece of work who somehow got things done. No one knows Trump’s nickname for Steven Bannon, but everyone knows the guy:

The Anti-Defamation League voiced its strong disapproval in a statement Sunday evening, calling Bannon’s appointment “a sad day.” “We call on President-elect Trump to appoint and nominate Americans committed to the well-being of all our country’s people,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL’s chief executive.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations also denounced the appointment and criticized Breitbart for trafficking “misogynistic and racist stories targeting women, people of color and immigrants.”

“The appointment of Stephen Bannon as a top Trump administration strategist sends the disturbing message that anti-Muslim conspiracy theories and White Nationalist ideology will be welcome in the White House,” said Nihad Awad, CAIR’s executive director. “We urge President-elect Trump to reconsider this ill-advised appointment if he truly seeks to unite Americans.”

That will be hard, given what Trump has been saying all along. Brown people are pouring across our border and they’re rapists and drug dealers and murderers, and the Muslims are coming too – they’re out to kill us all – and all the nations of the world are laughing at us. They take our jobs and take our money – even our allies do that. And that Black Lives Matter group is a racist hate group – out to kill white cops, or all cops. And Hillary Clinton is a crook and she should be in jail, or will be soon – and anyway, she’s part of an international conspiracy, with the bankers, and the Rothschild family and the Illuminati, to take over the world. That international conspiracy, where the bankers, with the Rothschild family and the Illuminati, are out to take over the world from white Christians, is what has been said at Breitbart for years.

DelReal has more on Bannon and the private Archer School out here in Los Angeles:

Shortly after he joined the Trump campaign, court documents revealed that his ex-wife, Mary Louise Piccard, had accused Bannon of domestic violence and anti-Semitic language in 2007. (The documents were obtained and first reported by the New York Daily News.)

“The biggest problem he had with Archer is the number of Jews that attend,” Piccard said in a statement to the court. “He said that he doesn’t like the way they raise their kids to be ‘whiny brats’ and that he didn’t want the girls going to school with Jews.” Bannon has denied the accusations.

Bannon has also called William Kristol a renegade-Jew of course, so he’s not popular:

Ben Shapiro, a former Breitbart editor who worked closely with Bannon, called him a “legitimately sinister figure” in an article he published on the Daily Wire after Bannon joined the Trump campaign.

“Many former employees of Breitbart News are afraid of Steve Bannon. He is a vindictive, nasty figure, infamous for verbally abusing supposed friends and threatening enemies,” Shapiro wrote.

Some of the Trump campaign’s most controversial moves in the final months of the campaign were attributed to Bannon, who is known for his combative and unfiltered style. When Trump, before the second presidential debate, invited several women who had accused Bill Clinton of sexual misconduct to hold a news conference, Bannon stood in the back of the room smiling broadly.

This is a worry, for ordinary Republicans:

As Donald Trump’s staffing choices dripped out on Sunday afternoon, exhales of relief echoed around Washington’s battered establishment corridors, followed by a horrified gasp….

Democrats and some Never-Trump Republicans seized on the Bannon news, quickly digging through Breitbart’s archives to decry the “normalization” of bigotry in the White House. Other Republicans decided to just ignore half of the announcement.

House Speaker Paul Ryan for example, tweeted that he was “proud and excited for my friend @Reince” after the announcement Sunday evening. He said nothing about Bannon. Earlier in the day, he’d deflected a question about the possibility of the Breitbart boss serving in the chief of staff role by saying he’d never met him.

“I don’t know Steve Bannon, so I have no concerns,” Ryan said on CNN – never mind that Breitbart, under Bannon’s leadership, has been a consistent, and at times vicious, critic of his speakership. “I trust Donald’s judgment.”

Ryan says he doesn’t know the guy. Why should he be worried about someone he’s never met? There are reasons, but Ryan has to make nice with his new Republican president. Others don’t:

Ana Navarro, a Jeb Bush confidante who voted for Clinton, retweeted a message from CNN’s Jake Tapper with a quote from Bannon’s ex-wife about how he dislikes Jews.

“God help us all. Really,” Navarro added.

“The racist, fascist extreme right is represented footsteps from the Oval Office,” tweeted John Weaver, chief adviser to Gov. John Kasich during his failed bid for the Republican nomination. “Be very vigilant America.”

That’s what Winston Churchill said in 1938 – the light of civilized progress with its tolerances and cooperation, with its dignities and joys, is worth fighting for – but as for now, the proposed ban on Muslims entering the country still stands. The proposal to have all Muslims in America register with the government hasn’t been rescinded. In short, you’re not welcome here. Those of you who are here, you’re being watched – you might consider getting the hell out. And Trump’s new Karl Rove wants to stop the Jewish conspiracy to take over the world and eliminate Christians. He certainly doesn’t want his daughter to go to school with Jews. Hispanics should get the hell out too. Those who have the right to stay had better be careful – and blacks, who seem to have to be here, damn well had better sit down and shut up. Quit whining about your kids being shot dead by the police – Blue Lives Matter. Get over it.

The lamps are going out. We shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.


About Alan

The editor is a former systems manager for a large California-based HMO, and a former senior systems manager for Northrop, Hughes-Raytheon, Computer Sciences Corporation, Perot Systems and other such organizations. One position was managing the financial and payroll systems for a large hospital chain. And somewhere in there was a two-year stint in Canada running the systems shop at a General Motors locomotive factory - in London, Ontario. That explains Canadian matters scattered through these pages. Otherwise, think large-scale HR, payroll, financial and manufacturing systems. A résumé is available if you wish. The editor has a graduate degree in Eighteenth-Century British Literature from Duke University where he was a National Woodrow Wilson Fellow, and taught English and music in upstate New York in the seventies, and then in the early eighties moved to California and left teaching. The editor currently resides in Hollywood California, a block north of the Sunset Strip.
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