Trump-Washed

I caught a little piece of an Oliver Stone interview last night. He was saying that after thirteen years of watching Trump be decisive and commanding on The Apprentice, very few except the politically sophisticated would be able to perceive the empty vacuum at the heart of his persona. Of course, about the time of the Access Hollywood recording, producers at The Apprentice let it be known that they had to work really hard to maintain that image. Trump was abusive during scenes, and arbitrary in his decisions. One of the challenges was building a back-story that justified his actions.

Coupled with this is the dominance of Fox News in Republican circles. Joy Reid was on with Chris Hayes last night, observing that the reason the Republican base still remains loyal to Trump is because Fox continues to tell them that the Russian interference scandal is nothing worth paying attention to.

Contrast this with Joseph McCarthy, leader of the Red Scare scandals of the 1950s. McCarthy would roll into town, make a bunch of baseless accusations against local politicians, and then leave. The press would publish front-page denouncements of McCarthy’s targets, followed by back-page retractions when the accusations were debunked. Lives were ruined by the asymmetrical publicity.

What undid McCarthy were the televised Congressional hearings. Before the cameras, he was revealed as a manipulative little weasel.

Of course, some among us see Trump in the same way, but his electorate has been conditioned to associate those traits with carefully-scripted moments of glory.

But what about his sons?

It was cathartic to see Donald, Jr. on Fox News last night. He came across as a whiny brat.

Trump, Sr. characterizes the meeting with Russian representatives as “opposition research” that “almost anyone” would pursue. If so, that’s an indictment of our political culture. Trump has long been cozy with organized crime figures, and draws his legal talent from a community of ugly intimidators – men that will not even bother to apply for security clearances that would never be granted. Is this where we have come as a nation? A political culture in which winning by any means possible includes crawling through the gutter with people whose livelihood requires corrupting virtue?

In the early hours this morning, I found myself musing that maybe Comey took the line he did against Clinton in part to create conditions under which that culture would be exposed. I know that it had invaded the FBI itself, where anti-Clinton zealots used Breitbart publications to motivate a criminal investigation of her family. This is a visible case of misuse of agency resources by political operatives, but what if elected officials all across the country are interceding in investigations to protect criminals that have contributed to the destruction of other candidates?

I personally don’t find that inconceivable.

J. Edgar Hoover ran the FBI as long as he did because he had files full of the dirty secrets that elected officials wished to keep hidden. Could it be that organized crime has its own database at this point, and is securing its influence by blackmailing the political class? The Russian government – now the most powerful organized crime ring in the world – may not be motivated only by its foreign policy goals to attack our political system. It may also be extending its power through organized crime, and collaborating with U.S. criminals to corrupt not just our political class, but our entire culture.

Slush Fund of the Apocalypse

Rachel Maddow reported today that a Venezuelan businessman bought access to Trump’s National Security Council for his son. The purpose was to go over a ten-point plan that would remove US sanctions on Venezuela, instituted by the Obama Administration in response to the deaths of those protesting government corruption.

Access was apparently linked to a contribution of $666,000.00 to the president-elect’s inauguration fund. The fund raised more than $100 million, of which probably 20% was necessary to fund the celebration. The rest of the money is unaccounted for.

What amuses is that the original donation was $500,000. Someone on the Trump team felt it necessary to hold out for an additional $166,000.

“666”, of course, is the number of the beast in Revelation.

Kleptocrats, Unite!

Rachel Maddow is building the case that Rex Tillerson’s actions at the State Department – and principally the firing of the top career civil servants – are consistent with the goals of Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

To those that understand Putin’s Russia, the goals are simple: transfer as much wealth as possible from the Russian state to private ownership. This is called “kleptocracy” – government serving the financial interests of the leadership. Putin has made an art of this game, becoming arguably the richest man in the world.

As CEO of Exxon Mobil, Rex Tillerson was awarded Putin’s “Friend of Russia” designation for his stand against U.S. sanctions that impeded Exxon’s ability to exploit oil and gas resources in Russia. The methods used to enforce those sanctions were situated in the U.S. State Department. Those methods were also used to bring pressure against Exxon for its actions elsewhere in the world.

So Tillerson’s business history supports the conclusion that the State Department, with its focus on human rights and equity, is a nuisance to those trying to get business done in the world. My guess is that this is consistent with Trump’s goals, particularly as it has become clear that our President is almost certainly in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, for which the sentencing mandates jail time. Cleaning out the top of the State Department will allow the administration to identify and elevate career diplomats that share their priorities, and perhaps protect themselves from prosecution.

So Rachel, don’t push the Russian connection too hard. Trump and Tillerson share with Putin the attitude that government should be turned to the purpose of making money. Their kleptomania may be sufficient explanation for their policies. Regardless of whether Putin is using blackmail to coerce their actions, the Trump administration is composed of people that appear to be inspired by Putin’s success.

Whitenessing the Truth

My response to Sera Beak’s “Redvolutionary” theology has been pretty passionate, and I’m planning a post on programming to let things cool down. But before I do, I’d like to elaborate the claim that I made yesterday: “There’s so much more for you than that.”

Perhaps the most popular spiritual autobiography at the opening of the 20th century was that of the “little flower”, St. Terese of Lisieux. While I was at first disturbed by Terese’s testimony to desire to die so that she might embrace Christ, I have come to understand that her recorded life was probably a last parting from those that were bound to her in family, in particular her father.

What was she releasing herself into? The answer is given to us in her revelation of a vision: Terese found herself in the company of three veiled women. One of them, Teresa of Avila, was the founder of her penitent order, and a woman who famously experienced an erotically ravishing love from Christ. Teresa parted her veil for the daughter of her grace, and Terese reported being bathed in the purest light. With an embrace, Teresa offered this paean: “Christ is well pleased with you.”

Why do these women hide their light from us? I offer a parable in that regard in Golem. We here on earth are a mixture of grace and corruption, a mix that cannot be sundered easily. When the pure light of truth shines upon us, the corruption must flee or be destroyed. The light is veiled because, as Moses was warned in Exodus, those not prepared to receive it will by destroyed by its power.

With the saints encountered by Terese, so it is with Christ [NIV 2 Peter 3:9]:

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

And so to experience life in the fullness of its beauty. Can you imagine, ladies, what it would be like to have souls passing through the healing cauldron of your womb, not in a brief spasm, but as a steady stream that grows into a mighty river?

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.

[NIV Rev. 22:1-2]

Please follow me here: Eve had her own gifts to tend, and to share them with men was never going to work. You, O woman, were meant to manifest the Tree of Life.