The Bunker Mystery

8 Jun

As I was throwing away a used pastry box I thought about the absolute waste involved.  What hit me then was to take this waste and make something of it!  Thus, The Bunker Mystery.

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As we know, one Donald Trump did visit a bunker on Friday, May 29th in the underground depths of the White House.  His wife, Melania, and son, Barron, accompanied him, along with an assortment of Secret Service guards.  Why go to a bunker, a space reserved for shelter from the outside world?  Surely protestors gathering outside the White House calling for racial justice after the murder of George Floyd, a black man, by Derek Chauvin, a white police officer in Minneapolis, while handcuffed and laying under the knee of said officer for nine minutes, on May 25th, would not have caused alarm for the pr*sident’s safety?  On Wednesday, June 3rd, Trump said during a Fox News Radio interview that he was down there “much more for an inspection.”

Could the media have gotten it wrong?  What would explain Trump visiting a bunker?

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One would logically think that Trump and family spied away to the bunker out of fear from the angry world outside their window.  Surely Trump would not pee on his throne?  These were the very same rooms Vice President Dick Cheney sought during the 9/11 attacks.  Certainly, though, the outside world was very much on Trump’s mind as he tweeted that those outside protestors would face “vicious dogs” and “ominous weapons.”

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Trump said during that radio interview with Brian Kilmeade that he had already been there “two and a half times.”  I assume that the half-time visit must of been his first visit when he just peeked inside from the doorway, thus exposing half of his body to the bunker.  Elsewhere he has been quoted as saying, “I’ve gone down two or three times, all for an inspection,” getting a sense of space.  That deep aha! moment arrived.  Of course, Melania was with him that Friday.  And he has also claimed that he was there earlier in the day, not during a period of outside protests.  Well, then, he must have taken Melania and Barron there to elicit decorating ideas!

Is Melania the go-to for decorative decisions?  Apparently, yes, at least with son Barron.  According to elite daily Melania decorated Barron’s room in the White House.  White House Historical Association president Stewart McLaurin praised the First Lady for bringing very faded decor in other rooms to its very best.  But, how could this decorative panache be the point for making a very short visit to the Bunker?

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Could there have been a better reason?  That was revealed on Monday, June 1st.  From the Rose Garden at the White House, Trump made a prophetic speech.  Citing nationwide protests as “drowned out” by “professional anarchists, violent mobs, or, arsonists, looters, criminals, rider rioters, Antifa and others,” Trump was clearly setting his sights.  He charged that he would deploy the National Guard in sufficient numbers to “dominate the streets.”  We did not have to wait long to see that he was serious.  As he walked from the Rose Garden to the Episcopal St. John’s Church across from Lafayette Square, Attorney General William Barr had ordered riot police and others to sweep peaceful protestors out of the way, using teargas, rubber bullets, and pepper spray.  There it was!  He visited the bunker to find absolute quiet and calm in order to pen his response to civil disorder.  And that required utmost concentration.

Beaumont, Peter. “Trump fled to bunker as protests over George Floyd raged outside White House: The president has been widely criticised for his response to the demonstrations, preferring tweets to a national address,” Guardian Weekly, May 31, 2020; https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/may/31/trump-flees-to-bunker-as-protests-over-george-floyd-rage-outside-white-house

Ciccone, Nick. “How Melania Trump Decorated The White House Was Surprisingly Low-Key,” elite daily, May 28, 2018; https://www.elitedaily.com/p/how-melania-trump-decorated-the-white-house-was-surprisingly-low-key-9124631

Cillizza, Chris. “Donald Trump’s ‘bunker’ story tells you everything you need to know about him,” CNN, June 3, 2020; https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/03/politics/donald-trump-bunker-secret-service-protests/index.html

Liptak, Kevin and Betsy Klein. “Trump claims he went to bunker for ‘inspection’ amid violent protests,” CNN, June 3, 2020; https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/03/politics/donald-trump-bunker/index.html

“READ: President Trump’s Rose Garden speech on protests,”CNN, June 1, 2020; https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/01/politics/read-trumps-rose-garden-remarks/index.html

Superville, Darlene, Associated Press, “White House makeover: Melania Trump upgrades, refreshes and restores for state dinner,” USA Today, September 18, 2019; https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/2019/09/18/melania-trump-white-house-decor-upgrades-first-lady-refreshes-rooms/2362783001/

I am a little late: According to a press conference with Kayleigh McEnany, Trump ordered the clearance of protestors and William Barr executed those orders even though he does not legally have the authority to charge the Secret Service to attack peaceful protestors. See, Hunter, “White House confirms Trump gave order resulting in assault on St. John’s Church, Daily Kos, June 3, 2020; https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2020/6/3/1950204/-White-House-confirms-Trump-gave-order-resulting-in-assault-on-St-John-s-Church?detail=emaildkbow2

 

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North Beach

7 Jun

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The Assault

4 Jun

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We have watched much that I cherish attacked during the Trump administration.  Everything that represents life and nurture: protection of the environment, programs designed to sustain the neediest, expanded healthcare, refuge for the immigrant, racial justice, respect for our LGBTQA+ family.  If it wasn’t under attack from the White House, it was under attack by Republican control of the House and Senate, or the courts stacked by Mitch McConnell.

But Lafayette Square made clear the direction this administration intends to take.  The reactive stage, the wiping out of inclusion and dignity, has now entered the proactive stage, the elimination of voice and power.  I was playing with characters a few months ago thinking about members of Trump’s cabinet.  Stephen Miller epitomized the excesses of its dark agenda by creating the architecture for the dehumanization and torture of immigrants in concentration camps.

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Stephen Miller

As long as these attacks were directed at specific targets, such as immigrants, we could only speculate about a web the administration might be creating, a web expanding beyond the few to include the many.  That arrived on Monday.

Attorney General William Barr ordered peaceful protesters dispersed so that Trump could walk to a nearby Episcopalian church for a photo-op.  White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany lied to the public today insisting that law enforcement was only defending itself from violent protestors.  I have watched videos, looked at photographs, and read first-hand accounts: this was an aggressive, brutal assault against peaceful demonstrators by law enforcement.  Mayor Muriel E. Bowser of Washington was not apprised beforehand.  The Virginia suburb of Arlington County has withdrawn its forces from the White House and other federal sites because of this attack.

Barr, though, is setting the next stage.  Yesterday militarized individuals entered the scene without law enforcement insignia identifying their agency.  When questioned by journalist Dan Friedman a few individuals would only say that they were placed there by Department of Justice.  We will lose our power in Barr’s staging because those who attack us with batons, flash grenades, and chemical spray will not be accountable.

And our voice will disappear when the Republican Party’s plan is realized, already a work in progress: to rig our court system nationwide and muzzle the press.

Baker, Peter, Maggie Haberman, Katie Rogers, Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Katie Benner. “How Trump’s Idea for a Photo Op Led to Havoc in a Park,” The New York Times, June 2, 2020; https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/02/us/politics/trump-walk-lafayette-square.html

Friedman, Dan. “Trump Has Flooded DC With Law Enforcement Officers Who Won’t Identify Themselves,” Mother Jones, June 3, 2020; https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2020/06/trump-has-flooded-dc-with-law-enforcement-officers-who-wont-identify-themselves/

Gittleson, Ben and Jordyn Phelps. “Trump denies ordering protestors forcibly removed for church photo op,” ABC News, June 3, 2020; https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/trump-denies-ordering-protesters-forcibly-removed-church-photo/story?id=71042680

“In Pictures: Protestors teargassed for Trump photo-op,” Al Jazeera, June 2, 2020; https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/inpictures/pictures-protesters-teargassed-trump-photo-op-200602072413665.html

 

The Four Horse Turds of the Mail-in Ballot Apocalypse

3 Jun

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They do not want you to vote: Donald Trump, Kellyanne Conway, Ronna McDaniel and Kayleigh McEnany.  They have all publicly spoken against expanded nationwide mail-in balloting.  Conway, in particular, wants you to embrace your enthusiasm for standing in line to vote, like those who stand in line for an hour waiting for a Washington, D.C.-served Georgetown Cupcake, and not be denied, even if the rest of us are concerned about COVID-19 this November.

Republican National Committee Chair McDaniel has gone further and sued the State of California for expanding mail-in balloting to all eligible voters in California, claiming voter fraud.  McEnany, the mouthpiece, is simply reiterating the orange blob’s attacks on mail-in voting.  Her master also rails against the post office, funny enough.  Hmmm.  Is there a connection there?

If we could believe there were a principled position here it would be hard to find.  McEnany has voted by mail 11 times in the past 10 years; McDaniel has voted absentee for years; Conway by mail for the 2018 midterm; the orange in the primary election in March, even though he was present in the county at least two days by which he could have voted in person.

No, they all are determined that you risk disease rather than safely vote by a method your state would choose to safeguard your health.

Date, S.V. and Roque Planas. “Kellyanne Conway Voted By Mail – But She Thinks You Should Have To Wait In Line,” Huffington Post, 05/28/2020; https://www.huffpost.com/entry/kellyanne-conway-mail-ballot_n_5ecfee3bc5b66dffc5d021b5

Derysh, Igor. “RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel repeatedly vote by mail – before suing California for expanding the practice,” Salon, 05/29/2020; https://www.alternet.org/2020/05/rnc-chair-ronna-mcdaniel-repeatedly-voted-by-mail-before-suing-california-for-expanding-the-practice/

Sollenberger, Roger. “Kayleigh McEnany voted by mail 11 times in 10 years, but claims mail-in ballots invite rampant fraud,” Salon, 05/29/2020; https://www.salon.com/2020/05/27/kayleigh-mcenany-voted-by-mail-11-times-in-10-years-but-claims-mail-in-ballots-invite-rampant-fraud/

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The Flame

25 May

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The Room for Rage

22 May

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Gabby Orr’s May 20th piece for Politico opens with this: “The Trump campaign has an order from the president: Find a way to get him back on the road and into megarallies to re-energize his base.”  The pandemic has brought a temporary end to satisfying his need to “connect with his ultra-loyal fans.”  I was drawn to this focus through Joshua Holland’s May 20th piece for AlterNet examining recent Trump raging.

What I find puzzling is that first line from Orr’s article.  Does his base need re-energization?  Haven’t we seen their recent energy directed with screaming fits at governors continuing shelter-in-place policies?  Hasn’t defying those policies with church gatherings and nail salon traffic exhibited abundant energy?  In fact, hasn’t all of the hysteria been a result of Trump playing his base?  Or, more precisely, special interests in seeing the economy reopen, such as Convention of States, partially funded by the Robert Mercer family foundation with ties to the current Federal administration through individuals such as Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and Ben Carson, secretary of Housing and Urban Development?  As Isaac Stanley-Becker and Tony Romm observe:

“A network of right-leaning individuals and groups, aided by nimble online outfits, has helped incubate the fervor erupting in state capitals across the country. The activism is often organic and the frustration deeply felt, but it is also being amplified, and in some cases coordinated, by longtime conservative activists, whose robust operations were initially set up with help from Republican megadonors.”

The child in the crib is raging.  But whether or not his rage is as organically and deeply frustrating to the child as the strings of his base, his separation from the campaign trail is an ominous sign that his re-election strategies are failing.  For those of us not tied to the Fox News propaganda cord, he was unable to sustain daily COVID-19 briefings because the public began to see that he did not have a handle on the situation.  “It will go away, just stay calm” was a statement Trump made on March 10, 2020, citing the statistic of only 26 deaths compared to “the flu for this year, we’re looking at 8,000 deaths.”  As early as February 10th he began this refrain.  And by April 30th he had repeated it to the press far too many times (see link below for the video compilation by The Washington Post).  By April 30th, the death toll had reached above 60,000 in the United States.  Not quite the match for the flu, then?

This rage is all about re-election.  The rage the child directs toward the United States Postal Service.  His fulminations against Nevada’s sending of ballots ahead of the June 9th primary and Michigan’s mailing of ballot applications to all of its registered voters.  He is consumed by re-election.  Although I doubt that the child understands election mechanics well enough — after all, he voted fraudulently with an absentee ballot from his Mar-a-Lago address for the Florida Republican presidential primary (see Schwardon link below).  The Republican Party, the party of voter suppression, more than compensates for his ignorance with sustained action ergo the railing against mail-in balloting.

But the child perceives the implications of not connecting with his teething ring base.  With the current number of COVID-19 cases and deaths and the attendant astronomical unemployment rate (see Lambert link below), the child’s chances of re-election are grim.  Only the warm smiles and receptive body parts of his fans can energize him now.

Orr, ” ‘A moonshot mission’: Trump campaign eyes a return to megarallies”; https://www.alternet.org/2020/05/overwhelmed-and-losing-trump-is-melting-down-in-a-narcissistic-rage/

Holland, “Overwhelmed and losing, Trump is melting down in a narcissistic rage,” AlterNet; https://www.alternet.org/2020/05/overwhelmed-and-losing-trump-is-melting-down-in-a-narcissistic-rage/

Stanley-Becker and Romm, “The anti-quarantine protests seem spontaneous. But behind the scenes, a powerful network is helping,” The Washington Post, April 22, 2020; https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/inside-the-conservative-networks-backing-anti-quarantine-protests/2020/04/22/da75c81e-83fe-11ea-a3eb-e9fc93160703_story.html

26 deaths: President Trump: It will go away, just stay calm,” C-SPAN, March 10, 2020; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rzZgJZgFZbU

Washington Post, “13 times Trump said the coronavirus would go away,” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r8yOv4PwttM

Terry H. Schwardon, “Trump’s Florida voter registration trips ups (sic) his Mar-a-Lago plans,” AlterNet, May 17, 2020; https://www.alternet.org/2020/05/trumps-florida-voter-registration-trips-ups-his-mar-a-lago-plans/?utm_source=&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=4546

Lance Lambert, “38.6 million have filed for unemployment during the pandemic—greater than the combined population of 21 states,” Fortune, May 21, 2020; https://fortune.com/2020/05/21/us-unemployment-rate-numbers-claims-this-week-total-job-losses-may-21-2020-benefits-claims-job-losses/

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MacArthur Meadow

20 May

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Angel Island Looking North

17 May

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LaborFest 2020 Call for Artists

16 May

Artists!  In these uncertain times the working class is facing life disrupting forces.  Workers are disposable units in factories, plants, hospitals, and agricultural fields, with a pandemic raging and populations demanding an unbroken supply of goods and services.  Unemployment is at historic numbers.  The wealth class exploits this situation to further consolidate their economic and political power over everyone else.  What is your vision of the present and future of labor?  We would like to put that on display to create a dialogue about labor, communities, and the social order.  LaborFest 2020 invites artists to submit up to three works in digital format for an international online display.  This is LaborFest’s 27th year organizing events on labor and culture for the month of July.

Please submit up to three digital images and a one- to two-paragraph biography/statement to David Duckworth at: dpduckworth@gmail.com.  For information about LaborFest, please visit: laborfest.net.  For information about the curator, please visit: dpduckworth.com.

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Department of Environmental Horticulture garden, City College of San Francisco

Souvenir de la peste

14 May

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Souvenir de la peste (Remembrance of the plague)
Quand la peste a frappé aux portes de la ville,
et que les experts, astrologues, rebouteux et chiromanciens
ne servant à rien,
il a fallu faire appel à tous les médecins,
Harpagon, par miracle,
a recouvré la vue
et remis la main sur la cassette
qu’il avait cachée
au fond du jardin.
The 17th of March 2020
Francis Combes, poet & publisher
My deep appreciation to Philippe Barnoud, the photographer whose work is featured above and friend for many years.