As I’ve written before, we read a lot of crazy shit on social media. Like this, from an old college friend from way back in the day.
“who can support this? This is antifa bull crap. Sorry, progressives, I cannot support the burning of churches and libraries and the desecration of a monument honoring my WWII Marine Corps father. THIS IS A LIBERAL KRISTALLNACHT. It is facism (sic). Mob violence against innocents. Stand now and condemn. Your silence is complicity!”
For context, for the readers that may not know what Kristallnacht was, originally: From November 9-10, 1938 Nazi brown shirts went to synagogues and Jewish businesses throughout Germany, smashing windows, destroying goods and torching buildings. It was done with the overt approval of Adolf Hitler’s government — and was probably encouraged by Hitler as well. It was a government sponsored oppression of religion and ethnicity targeting the Jewish faith and people.
Trying to compare the attempted burning of a church in Washington, D.C, by a small group of instigators to a government sponsored, nationwide attack on a specific religious community is just over the top, stupid bullshit. Then of course there is the fact that white supremacist, fascist, neo-Nazi groups, like Boogaloo Bois and Evropa, have been at the heart of a lot of the violence during these demonstrations, as pointed out by various law enforcement agencies and yes — OHMIGAWD! — the media.
This sort of insane, right-wing hysteria spreads on social media, especially Facebook, where the Trumpers and like-minded people that happen to be racists like to chatter.
New Orleans Saints quarterback, Drew Brees, created a shit storm of trouble for himself on Wednesday when he posted a message to Twitter and Instagram denouncing his fellow players that knelt during the National Anthem before football games. No Bueno, Drew! A large number of your teammates are African American as well as a large number of defensive linemen, linebackers and safeties that will be gunning for you to get a sack. We can imagine the first few games of the coming season: that extra push by a defensive line, black and white, with blitzes by a linebacker or two, all with the goal of making Drew Brees pay for his remarks about the player protests a few seasons ago.
The response to Brees on social media was swift and brutal. Players from every sport, not just football, eviscerated Drew for misrepresenting what his fellow athletes were doing, for making it about a piece of cloth and the troops.
As an aside: I think it is completely un-American to force, coerce or otherwise browbeat fans into standing during the National Anthem at sporting events. If this is a free country than it should be optional. On the other hand, sports leagues can set their own rules and require everyone to stand — the NBA does it for team personnel on the floor — so if someone doesn’t agree with that policy they can either stay at home or go take a leak during the National Anthem. If I was at a game I would probably do the latter, not so much because of the policy, but because I’m at an age when I need to pee a lot.
Anyway, back to Drew Brees. He is one of those QB’s that will always be in discussions about the best in the game — ever. Rightly so. If you want to argue about it, here are his stats for his entire career. To begin with: 547 touchdowns, 77,415 passing yards, an average of 281.5 passing yards per game — it’s an impressive career. And oh yeah, a Super Bowl ring — Super Bowl XLIV for the 2009 season (February 7, 2010). He threw for 288 yards in that game and two TD’s. Despite having Reggie Bush in the backfield it wasn’t much of a rushing game for the Saints.
Another aside: The Who were the halftime entertainment. If you want to know which are The Who’s two best and favorite albums: Tommy and Who’s Next. They played two songs from each.
Also: the title of the song is “Baba O’Riley,” not “Teenage Wasteland.” We were all wasted so forgive us for messing that up. I could do a whole column on The Who, but this is not that column.
So, back to Drew Brees.
After a day of withering criticism from every athlete worth his or her stats, Drew issued what I believe to be a heartfelt apology, asking us — the fans — all the athletes, his fellow players and teammates and the countless number of black and brown people — and like-minded white people — around the world to forgive him for his remarks. Which I have included below:
“I would like to apologize to my friends, teammates, the City of New Orleans, the black community, NFL community and anyone I hurt with my comments yesterday. In speaking with some of you, it breaks my heart to know the pain I have caused.
“In an attempt to talk about respect, unity, and solidarity centered around the American flag and the national anthem, I made comments that were insensitive and completely missed the mark on the issues we are facing right now as a country. They lacked awareness and any type of compassion or empathy. Instead, those words have become divisive and hurtful and have misled people into believing that somehow I am an enemy. This could not be further from the truth, and is not an accurate reflection of my heart or my character.
This is where I stand:
“I stand with the black community in the fight against systemic racial injustice and police brutality and support the creation of real policy change that will make a difference.
“I condemn the years of oppression that have taken place throughout our black communities and still exists today.
“I acknowledge that we as Americans, including myself, have not done enough to fight for that equality or to truly understand the struggles and plight of the black community.
“I recognize that I am part of the solution and can be a leader for the black community in this movement.
“I will never know what it’s like to be a black man or raise black children in America but I will work every day to put myself in those shoes and fight for what is right.
“I have ALWAYS been an ally, never an enemy.
“I am sick about the way my comments were perceived yesterday, but I take full responsibility and accountability. I recognize that I should do less talking and more listening … and when the black community is talking about their pain, we all need to listen.
“For that, I am very sorry and I ask your forgiveness.”
That’s how one should correct a wrong. Don’t use a soft apology with phrases like, “If I hurt anyone …” In other words, acknowledge a mistake was made and you were wrong and apologize.
Drew Brees is still one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time … right behind Aaron Rodgers, Brett Favre, Bart Starr and that guy who went from the New England Patriots to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers … What’s his name? Then of course there is Johnny Unitas, Peyton and Eli Manning, and a few others I can’t remember.
We’re all still talking about Trump’s use of a church as a backdrop and a Bible as a prop for a photo op — and then a Catholic shrine to boot — but even more troubling, using the U.S. Military to “dominate” peaceful protestors, as he demanded of governors during a phone call with them. And he threatened to do the job for the governors, if they didn’t get more aggressive with protestors. “You have to dominate, if you don’t dominate you’re wasting your time. They’re going to run over you. You’re going to look like a bunch of jerks. You have to dominate,” he told the governors.
He also bragged about how the demonstrations in Washington, D.C. were being suppressed. An effort led by Attorney General (Trump’s personal lawyer) William Barr, who assembled a cadre of black-shirted, unmarked soldiers/law enforcement to guard the Lincoln Memorial and other sites. How he had the military ready to crush any unruly demonstrators around the District.
Trump is threatening to use the military to crush the demonstrations around the nation. That prompted a number of retired generals to publicly denounce Trump’s idea of using the military against Americans. Former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen wrote an op-ed in The Atlantic titled, “I Cannot Remain Silent.” He starts his post with “It sickened me yesterday to see security personnel—including members of the National Guard—forcibly and violently clear a path through Lafayette Square to accommodate the president’s visit outside St. John’s Church. I have to date been reticent to speak out on issues surrounding President Trump’s leadership, but we are at an inflection point, and the events of the past few weeks have made it impossible to remain silent.” Mullen ends with this, “This is not the time for stunts. This is the time for leadership.” You can read his entire op-ed here.
Then Trump’s former Secretary of Defense, retired Marine Corps General James Mattis wrote a statement as well, calling Trump “… a threat to the Constitution.” In his statement Mattis said, “When I joined the military, some 50 years ago, I swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution. Never did I dream that troops taking that same oath would be ordered under any circumstance to violate the Constitutional rights of their fellow citizens—much less to provide a bizarre photo op for the elected commander-in-chief, with military leadership standing alongside.
“We must reject any thinking of our cities as a ‘battlespace’ that our uniformed military is called upon to “dominate.” At home, we should use our military only when requested to do so, on very rare occasions, by state governors. Militarizing our response, as we witnessed in Washington, D.C., sets up a conflict—a false conflict— between the military and civilian society. It erodes the moral ground that ensures a trusted bond between men and women in uniform and the society they are sworn to protect, and of which they themselves are a part. Keeping public order rests with civilian state and local leaders who best understand their communities and are answerable to them.”
Mattis’ denunciation of Trump is brutal. When he resigned from Trump’s administration he said he did not want to comment on the administration he had just served. The most he said about it was that he disagreed with Trump’s Syria policy. But in this statement Mattis said, “Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people — does not even pretend to try. Instead he tries to divide us. We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership. We can unite without him, drawing on the strengths inherent in our civil society. This will not be easy, as the past few days have shown, but we owe it to our fellow citizens; to past generations that bled to defend our promise; and to our children.”
You can read his full statement here.
Two other Marine Corps generals spoke up: John Kelly who called Mattis’ statement honest, and John Allen, who said Trump’s threat to use the military against fellow Americans “The beginning of the end of the American experiment.”
They weren’t the only generals and admirals. They do not like, well, that’s too soft, they are appalled by Trump’s words and actions. The videos of Blackhawk helicopters hovering low over protestors, federal law enforcement gassing and firing rubber bullets at protestors in Lafayette Square to clear a path so the president could have his weird photo op.
As anyone could have predicted, Trump replied with childish tweets. Of Mattis he wrote, in two tweets, “Probably the only thing Barack Obama & I have in common is that we both had the honor of firing Jim Mattis, the world’s most overrated General. I asked for his letter of resignation, & felt great about it. His nickname was ‘Chaos’, which I didn’t like, & changed to ‘Mad Dog’ …
“… His primary strength was not military, but rather personal public relations. I gave him a new life, things to do, and battles to win, but he seldom ‘brought home the bacon’. I didn’t like his ‘leadership’ style or much else about him, and many others agree. Glad he is gone!”
Really? Maybe the toadies in Trump’s inner circle agree with him, but everyone else considers Mattis to be one of the best military leaders of the 21st Century.
As for the nickname, “Mad Dog,” I was reading about that years before Trump started running for president in 2015, when Mattis was commanding Marines in Iraq. He was reported to have said to tribal leaders in Fallujah, “I come in peace. I didn’t bring artillery. But I’m pleading with you, with tears in my eyes: If you fuck with me, I’ll kill you all.” Dude, don’t sugar coat it. He also said, “There are some assholes in the world that just need to be shot.”
There are some saltier quotes by the most revered Marine Corps general since Chesty Puller, but non-military people might be offended by them. Mattis doesn’t just talk the talk, he walks the walk. One of the reasons the people he served with, the people who were under his command love him is he was right there with the Marines when they invaded Iraq and drove on to Baghdad.
He was with his men and women during the infamous surge when the U.S. military started rooting out all the insurgencies. Mattis and his Marines had the unenviable mission of taking Fallujah.
After he retired from the Corps Mattis admitted invading Iraq “was probably a mistake.” General James Mattis, like Chesty Puller and John Basilone before him, is a Marine’s Marine. Semper Fi motherfucker.
Trump has no fucking idea what makes good generals and admirals and he sure as hell doesn’t respect them.
One more thing about General Mattis, because it’s funny as hell. Last year he was the keynote speaker at the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner. Speakers are expected to be entertaining and Mattis didn’t disappoint. On being called the “most over-rated general” he said, “I’m not just an overrated general, I am the greatest, the world’s most overrated.” Adding, “I’m honored to be considered that by Donald Trump, because he also called Meryl Streep an overrated actress. So, I guess I’m the Meryl Streep of generals. Frankly that sounds pretty good to me.”
And the coup de grâce: “I earned my spurs on the battlefield, Trump earned his spurs in a letter from a doctor.”
Okay, enough on James Mattis and the rest of the flag officers denouncing Trump.
There’s so much going on. Several cities, including Los Angeles, lifted their curfews. The city of New York appeared to double down on acts of violence against protestors — hey wait! I though Mayor Bill de Blasio was a liberal? — and their curfew continues. On top of that de Blasio and Governor Cuomo claimed, despite the video evidence to the contrary, there were no acts of violence by the police against protestors. Who ya’ gonna’ believe? Me or your lyin’ eyes?
Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser declared the intersection of H and 16thStreets “Black Lives Matter Plaza, NW” and had “Black Lives Matter” painted on 16th Street, which leads to the White House. The battle between good and evil, Bowser vs Trump. She told him to remove the federal troops from her city, including the unmarked, nameless black shirt fellows ominously threatening protestors not sporting any MAGA gear.
By the way: in many parts of the country, including a city in East San Diego County nicknamed “Klantee,” Santee by its official name, the gear for the Trump-voting Klan lovers who are expressly — loudly expressive — vowing to “Defend East County” from the protestors, guns are part of that gear. In a video I won’t link here one of the men said, “Santee doesn’t mess around. This is East County — we are not gonna let these little whiny punk kids take over and do what they did to La Mesa.” He also said the group, which he claims is about 5,000 people, is “well-armed.” Maybe it’s true and quite as likely is compensation for their small dicks and intellects.
They also claim to have the blessing of the county sheriff’s office. Lt. Ricardo Lopez of the San Diego Sheriff’s Department told the San Diego Union-Tribune, “Nothing could be further from the truth. We do not support any acts of vigilantes. We understand people’s desire to protect and defend their cities but law enforcement has that responsibility.”
Every state has a Klan Kontingent, no doubt. Racism isn’t just a Southern redneck condition. It is taught by ill-meaning parents and other hate-filled elders everywhere.
It reminds me of the Trumpers that staged a racist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia three years ago, the one where Trump said some of the racists were very fine people. Anyway, these white supremacists were chanting, “Jews will not replace us!” I remember thinking at the time, Jews have already replaced you, along with African Americans, Hispanics, Asians and white people that are also morally opposed to everything racists believe.
It’s the racists against everybody else in the country and the racists lose. Well, they did win in 2016 when Trump won the Electoral College.
On the day George Floyd was memorialize in Minneapolis, the White House released the jobs report that shows 2.5 million jobs were added to the economy, bringing the unemployment percentage down to 13.3%. While the Reverend Al Sharpton was delivering his eulogy for George Floyd (“And I spent all my life chasing roaches all over this country.”), President Trump, the Orange Douchebag, was excitedly sharing the news about the jobs report. The only time he mentioned George Floyd is when he said, ““Hopefully, George is looking down right now and saying this is a great thing that’s happening for our country. This is a great day for him, it’s a great day for everybody. This is a great day for everybody. This is a great, great day in terms of equality.”
This is so long already and I haven’t even mention the coronavirus yet. All these protests are taking place during a pandemic, at a time when states and cities are opening up their economies. People need to return to work. It’s estimated that nearly 100,000 small businesses, mostly minority-owned, have gone out of business. And of course the angry white people need to get their hair cut and their nails done … which, in turn, puts out of work barbers, hair stylists and estheticians back on the payroll.
But the new cases of COVID-19 are rising just about everywhere, including Los Angeles. With the economy opening and people ignoring social distancing and not wearing masks, the next surge of the coronavirus is predicted to arrive much, much earlier than the flu season. The Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center has all the latest and accurate information. Except for the unpopulated areas, the entire U.S. has been hit hard by the virus.
There are 1,897,838 confirmed cases in the United States, with 109,143 deaths. And the numbers continue to climb. Los Angeles is the hardest hit area of California, with 61,074 confirmed cases and 2,569 deaths. With large crowds of people marching in the streets for the past 10 days, even with many of them wearing masks, the numbers of new cases will go up dramatically. Not just in L.A., but in every community where people have been marching.
I am choosing to remain home as much as possible. You should too. Stay safe, stay at home.
To read all of my coronavirus and George Floyd-related posts, click here.
Top photo is a YouTube screenshot of the memorial service for George Floyd in Minneapolis, MN
Tim Forkes started as a writer on a small alternative newspaper in Milwaukee called the Crazy Shepherd. Writing about entertainment, he had the opportunity to speak with many people in show business, from the very famous to the people struggling to find an audience. In 1992 Tim moved to San Diego, CA and pursued other interests, but remained a freelance writer. Upon arrival in Southern California he was struck by how the elected government officials and business were so intertwined, far more so than he had witnessed in Wisconsin. His interest in entertainment began to wane and the business of politics took its place. He had always been interested in politics, his mother had been a Democratic Party official in Milwaukee, WI, so he sat down to dinner with many of Wisconsin’s greatest political names of the 20th Century: William Proxmire and Clem Zablocki chief among them. As a Marine Corps veteran, Tim has a great interest in veteran affairs, primarily as they relate to the men and women serving and their families. As far as Tim is concerned, the military-industrial complex has enough support. How the men and women who serve are treated is reprehensible, while in the military and especially once they become veterans. Tim would like to help change that.