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Posts Tagged ‘Donald Trump’

Recap

Let’s review some events from the last few days:

  • TV and cable news channels over-covered the size of the crowd at Trump’s inauguration. In typical fashion, they dwelt far too long on an unimportant piece of trivia, instead of reporting on the important elements of the ceremony.  This is symptomatic of the standard laziness of most media outlets, and not surprising.

Yet at President Trump’s behest, the official White House press secretary stood in front of the press room … and blatantly lied. He not only lied about something that shouldn’t be important to anybody, but he did so with a level of rage that should be reserved for accusations of treason! Press secretaries don’t do things like that, they are trained to keep their cool under the most trying of situations. Sean Spicer isn’t some newbie, he’s a seasoned veteran of press rooms of all types. But there he is, blatantly lying in the White House briefing room.

So let me get this straight: the federal government is funded by taxpayer dollars. The federal government works for us. The federal government is now being prevented from talking to … us. That’s really what it is. This isn’t “stop talking to the press cuz the press is mean to Trump”, this is the government must stop talking to us. Lots of folks, both Trump supporters and not, hate political correctness and oppression of speech. If we want to make jokes about women’s breasts, then dammit, we should be able to! So we combat that by hiring a guy … who then institutes gag orders on those agencies to stop talking to us? Here you have to ask … why? They won, these agencies aren’t going to make a difference in the coming agenda, they will become the coming agenda whether they like it or not, so why bother silencing them?

  • The White House has reaffirmed their position that millions of people voted illegally in the recent election. No evidence has been presented by any state election officials in any state, Red or Blue, to provide evidence to support this claim; no independent watchdog authority of any persuasion has come forward with any evidence;  and even fellow Republicans have stated there is no evidence of significant voter fraud

Again, why is President Trump even going down this path? His victory was verified, there were no legal challenges, he is President according to the U.S. Constitution and all applicable laws. Yet he continues to manufacture a voter fraud narrative out of whole cloth? For what possible purpose, especially when it would be so much easier to just stop wasting time talking about it and get on with the business of implementing his agenda?

The Question

So now I have to ask that one question I teased in the headline:

Trump supporters: is this really what you signed up for?

I get that you have a lot of complaints with the way things are. The Obama administration actually wasn’t that great. Sure, they had good economic numbers, but those statistics are broad and kinda suck, they don’t really reflect the realities on the ground. There are a lot of regulations that do waste money and hamper job growth (being in IT, I have to deal with Sarbanes-Oxley rules, a large number of which are crap). Urban riots that hit the country in the past few years are certainly bad. Certainly the opiate epidemic that has hit many rural counties is horrific. And the Clintons? Ugh, who needs them back in the mix, I know I was less than thrilled with our choices this past election. I can definitely see the appeal of massive political change in this country.

But is this really what you wanted? A man so protective of his own image he’ll intentionally lie to the American people; will intentionally muzzle the most unimportant of administrative departments; and will manufacture “facts” out of whole cloth just to give him legitimacy?

I really want to know. I just don’t get it.

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Hitting the Bullseye …

I tell you what, those Women’s Marches yesterday were exactly what about 51.1% of America needed: a rallying cry shouting out that the country will not allow itself to be steamrolled by a juggernaut of egoist, portfolio-first plutocrats. Friday’s Inauguration was less of a ceremony signifying the peaceful transition of power, and more of a funeral for a friend. Saturday’s rallies were a fusillade of fireworks signifying “Hurray! We’re not dead yet!”

I hope this catharsis ripples across the whole country, and boy, it certainly looks like it. Look at Boise, Idaho, one of the deepest of the deep-red states! [photo from the Idaho Statesman]

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But We’re Not Playing Darts

When you listen to those who hate the notion of a Trump presidency, chief among their list of grievances is all the insulting comments he made during his candidacy and throughout his whole life. “They’re rapists”. “He’s not a war hero.” “Shut down all Muslims.” and, of course, “Grab her by the pussy.” He is a vulgar, vulgar man, of that there is no denying. One of my good friend’s sons is autistic, and Trump’s mocking of New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski [I’m not going to link to it because that incident is one of the most revolting things Trump has ever done — PAD] sent her into such a rage I wonder if her husband thought she was having a stroke.

So the grievances are clear. He’s a hate-filled shit and deserves to be treated like a hate-filled shit. Unfortunately, the country isn’t currently imperiled because the President of the Unites States is a hate-filled shit. History is replete with hate-filled shits sitting in the Oval Office: Andrew Jackson, Richard Nixon, Lyndon Johnson, so many others. All had tempers, all could be extremely vulgar. Even both Roosevelts had tempers and less-than-savory views on one ethnicity or another. We suffered through all of them, and some of the worst of the hate-filled shits were actually some of our greatest presidents. That’s not the actual threat to the country.

The real threat that’s out there isn’t vulgarity. The threat we face is much more dire. Donald Trump, his staff, his Cabinet, and his ideologies represent a clear and present danger to fundamental, long-standing American principles. Just a few of the items on the list:

  • the refutation of NATO and acceptance of Russian neo-imperialism
  • the disruption of trade and support of economic isolation
  • the disregard of science, not just in global warming but in vaccinations, air pollution, public health, and other things
  • doubling-down on the economic, geopolitical, and ecological unsustainability of oil
  • the magnitude of danger associated with mass deportations and the foolishness of a “big wall”
  • transitioning the education of our children into profit centers for private industries
  • the abandonment of the poor and disenfranchised, whether in terms of the ACA, Medicaid, unqualified HUD management, or any of a list of other initiatives
  • a migration of the nation to plutocracy (just take a look at the Cabinet)

The weapons in their arsenal that they are already using against us?

That last one is really important here in context of Women’s March: the Left has been angered and spawned to action because of cold and calculated expertise in doing so. This is the Right’s current stock-in-trade: using anger and insult to attract and inspire followers and incite opponents into losing their reason. They’ve been doing it a looooong time and do it FAR better than the Center or the Left will ever be able to. That type of tactic simply isn’t in the playbook of the rest of us, and we shouldn’t be using it, or we’ll lose even more.

We Need to Play the Real Game — by Rewriting It

I’m convinced the defeat of the Trump administration will actually be achieved by rewriting political discourse. That’s exactly what he did: he rewrote all the laws of campaigning and won the Presidency (and leaving us standing there, with our jaws agape, wondering what the hell just happened). This is what the rest of us now have to do: we have to change the rules. I’m not entirely sure what it will take, but I’m thinking it will be a combination of these

  • the abandonment of sound-bite, sensationalist, trope-filled news media. They are powerless and ineffective and are actually aiding in the downfall of reason (i.e. they’re making you stupid).
  • the resurrection of fact-based, data-driven journalism. The truth shall set you free, and (as we’ve seen) it pisses off Donald Trump to no end.
  • moving away from protest. Protest is a reaction, and risks playing into their hands (witness the failure of Black Lives Matter because of violent protests).
  • moving towards direct legislative and legal action.

That last bullet is the real problem. The Center is sadly long dead because they did not have strong leaders. There are scant few moderates left in political office, and they are not coalesced. The Left lost because they’ve been failing to build a grassroots political organization at local and state levels and do not have a strong base. This is why the Right has been able to take power so handily.

What’s really needed is direct intervention in politics. Directly calling the offices of members of Congress. Directly challenging laws in court. Directly using FOIA and other protections to force the release of key documents. Directly participating in local politics (especially school boards) and grooming tomorrow’s elected officials.

It is time we fought back. We just need a new game plan.

 

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[Edited to fix some horrible formatting choices that made it look like my opinions were President Trump’s comments — PAD]

A Punch to the Throat

When I was about 13 years old, I finally had enough. I didn’t care that I was small, scrawny, had Coke-bottle glasses, and had never been in a fight in my life. I was sick of being pushed around. So I let my anger boil up, and I stood up, fists clenched, ready to fight. That red-haired shit (whatever his name was, at this point I don’t care, I only hope he’s in one of those shitty private prisons somewhere) took one swing and punched me in the throat. I dropped like a rock, right to the ground, completely powerless, lying on the ground.

When something like that happens, it’s not cinematic. There’s no color-graded slow motion, no violin music, no anguished looks or hammy overacting. You just go :flooomph: and hit the ground, in the most undignified fashion possible. Then you wonder just what the hell hit you.

A Punch to the Gut

So there I was, joke-tweeting the inauguration silliness from my satirical account, when along came the time for President Donald Trump’s Inaugural Address. Now I make no bones about hating this man, and one of the things I hate most is his big, fat mouth and the crap that flows out of it. But this is special, this is different, this is an Inaugural Address, and like it or not, he’s duly-elected and is President. I made a concerted effort to put down the Twitter and listen to the man, as fairly and as fully as I could, even with my own biased viewpoint.

After it was over, barely twenty minutes later, I was horrified. Truly, deeply horrified, right to the core of my being. My brain was locked right up, I was speechless, and I had a pain right in the gut. It was a metaphorical punch to the throat, and I was lying in the grass in a lump. My next tweet from my joke account was “That was ****ing revolting.” Yay, comedy!

Expectations

Politicians, pundits, and the “socially active” always have these grandiose expectations for the content and tone of these inauguration speeches. Some want to “bring the country together”. This was a big one this year: it was such a nasty and divisive election, a lot of people felt he needed to do this. Some want to “expand on the vision” (a favorite of the intellectual right this year); or “bring gravitas” (which is code for “learn to communicate like an adult and not like a preteen troll”).

I, like a lot of Americans, kinda don’t have any expectations for political speeches any more. It’s yet another speech with another set of platitudes. I always have a private list of buzzwords and tropes, and giggle when one is hit, because I know the press will talk about each one, and the giant circle-jerk we call  “political discourse” will continue. After this shitstorm of an election, I’d love to get back to the same, old, tired political discourse for a while. It would be comforting.

Well, all those expectations went right to hell.

Instead of any of these same-old tropes, Donald Trump double-downed on the shitstorm. I would love for a future historian to find this blog and decide to call this inauguration address “The Shitstorm Speech”. Oh, that would be grand.

Realities

Here’s what we got from Donald Trump on this historical day:

Donald Trump has no intention of uniting a divided country

This speech has the same tone & timbre as all his campaign stump speeches. Same style, same content, same delivery, everything. This means several things: 1) he’s targeting those people who found his style appealing in the first place, and has no interest in broadening his base; 2) he’s totally doubling-down on everything that pissed off half the country in the first place (i.e. if you’re black, or gay, or latino, or a woman, go f&ck yourself); and 3) he enjoyed the combative nature of the campaign and wants to keep it going. This third one is most troubling. Most candidates hate the trail and want off it as soon as they can, because it is combative and nasty. He likes being combative and nasty.

Donald Trump wants to inflame the people

Someone go back in history and find a President using the term “American carnage” in any public, non-campaign speech. Carnage? Jesus Christ! Half his speech was dedicated to painting a picture of America like we’re such a miserable, forgotten hellscape. Yeah, we got many problems, but “American carnage”? That is a massive stretch, even with our problems. I dare anyone from his tribe of miscreants to prove that American carnage describes our situation . But there he is, crafting America as a place of death. “Carnage”. “Tombstones”. “Lives Robbed”. Good lord, it’s Grand Theft Auto: Fifty States Edition! There’s only one reason to take things in that direction: he wants to give his base a motive for hating our country (not “our country”, as in the patriotic slogan on a t-shirt, but our ACTUAL COUNTRY as it stands today).

Donald Trump is providing targets

All throughout his speech he’s tying this faux bleakness to our ruling politicians of both parties in a grotesque, attack tone. Usually, inauguration speeches attack ideas or ideologies that are not to their liking; Trump makes it personal. He doesn’t come right out and say  “It’s all their fault!” while pointing at everyone around him on the Capital steps, but damn it, it’s close. I think if he had a big enough private army, he could have easily had the entire Congress, Judiciary, and bunch of old, retired presidents executed on the spot.

Donald Trump wants to ignore the real targets

You can also read into what he left out. Grab your loudest “government cynic” hat, and think the worst of your government. Do politicians work for themselves? Well, yeah, but on who’s behest? Those who fund their campaigns. So they’re beholden to those moneyed interests. Who are these moneyed interests? Well, for shorthand, it’s the 1%. These are the ones who wanted NAFTA and the TPP and the banking loopholes and all the other crap that, either in reality or in Trump’s universe, has created this “carnage”. But not a shred of anything in his speech about the effects of money on politics. Why? Well, because to him, Big Money is good, and the rich are better than you. Why do you think his Cabinet is populated by CEOs, Wall Street bankers, and people who hate public school kids, people on Medicare, and anyone who works at more than minimum wage? They are “great”, and aren’t “the problem”, in Trump’s eyes.

This is why you inflame people: you make them stupid so they miss the real target.

Donald Trump is suggesting illegal, tyrannical revolt

At first glance, his statements about “our government is controlled by the people” is awesome. Yes, it is supposed to be “our government” and “our country”. But then he vomits up “January 20th, 2017 will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again.” Whoa whoa whoa whoa WHOA! America does not have rulers! Even “carnage America” does not have rulers, and that INCLUDES the people. We are a nation of laws and rights. The ONLY thing that “rules us” are the laws and regulations that are put into effect by our elected representatives,under the auspices of the Constitution, and constrained by the Bill of Rights and other Amendments. This notion of “we are the rulers” is the type of dangerous talk that gives “populist” a very bad name. That shit’s not me being a “libtard”, that’s historically traceable to the most infamous of tyrannies. All of them were started with this kind of talk

Enough

I can’t analyze his little speech any more. I could on for pages about his comments and executive orders on loyalty and patriotism. Tyrants give me ulcers. This man is a menace, and he must be stopped. God almighty, I hope we find a way.

 

 

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Also: Angry = Malleable

Polls tell us that people voted for Trump because they’re angry: angry at the economy for leaving them behind; angry at the government for not helping; angry at politicians for doing nothing. It’s understandable, the economy is clearly not serving middle class America. Plus there’s a drug epidemic out there, the threats of terrorism are real, and some parts of the country can’t even drink the water. Yep, lots to be angry about.

There’s a real problem with that, though. When you’re angry, you’re stupid. Science says so.

Anger is a powerful emotion. It evolved in humans as a mechanism to protect oneself, or one’s food, or one’s mate, or one’s offspring. It, like it’s counterpart, fear, is a knee-jerk reaction to a threat. Something threatens you, and your instincts gurgle up one of these two emotions, depending on your likelihood of survival. If your instincts think you can beat back the threat, then anger wells up, raising adrenaline and endorphins, giving you more strength than you normally might have. You can then bellow in rage or outright attack to fend off the threat. Fear is different: if your instincts think you have no chance of survival, they’ll use that nasty feeling in the pit of your stomach to convince you to run away.

Here’s the rub: neither of those emotionally-driven reactions are controlled by the mind. They’re not, because the mind is too slow. You’ll be sitting there, pondering all the options, while that sabre-tooth tiger gnaws on your bones. Your instincts must work, and they must work now, or you’re a dead proto-human.

Let’s fast-forward the clock 10,000 years. Most of the immediate threats to our lives no longer exist (the only one left is, well, Man). So … what good are the strong emotions of Fear and Anger? Well, they’re kinda worthless today, but we’ve had them for sooooo long now, they’re hard to shake. They crop up at the worst times and, because they shut off the thinking mind, they make us stupid.

In some cases, they short-circuit our wellbeing. An overwrought anger mechanism is the worst sort of demon one can have. You’re a walking Rage Monster, ready to fly off the handle if someone looks at you funny or takes the last Hot Pocket. If you’re self-aware, you seek counseling or find an outlet to keep from tearing yourself or your family apart. If you’re not self-aware, well, you’re probably going to end up in prison. You’re certainly not going to walk around making sane life choices.

The other thing that’s bad about anger is it’s easily manipulatable. You can use all sorts of trickery to trigger an anger response, and media outlets (who are more marketers than journalists) are experts at it. It’s even worse in a crowd, there’s a reason demagogues are successful.

So let’s now couple these two things together: anger makes us stupid, and it’s easy to manipulate people through anger. Here’s the earth-shattering conclusion:

People who are stirring up your anger are doing so to manipulate you into making stupid decisions.

That’s the key story of The Trumpocalypse: between the various right-wing media outlets, the Republican Party, the Christian Right, and Donald Trump himself, enough of the voting public was manipulated into making the stupidest decision of our lives.

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His Fraudulency, The President of the United States

It’s been seven days since America proved, by actual vote, that it’s lost its mind. I am still utterly disgusted. Not disappointed, but actually disgusted. I know things suck in many parts of the country. I know economic statistics belie the misery of underemployment. I know there are a lot of reasons to suspect that America is up against the ropes and isn’t living up to its potential. And there is definitely something wrong with our political institutions, especially the two major parties. Still, I have to ask:

What in the world were you thinking?

I hate to break the news to you, but Donald Trump is a fraud. A masterful marketer? Yes. A reality-show diva? Absolutely. A wizard at real estate? Without a doubt. But in terms of having the knowledge, the skills, the temperament, the dedication, the wherewithal, the understanding, or even the fundamental class & decency necessary to hold the highest office in the land? Absolutely not. In all these terms, he’s a total fraud. You have been duped, my fellow Americans, and you’ve screwed us all accordingly. You elected a snake-oil salesman as President of the United States of America.

This is a man who made his billions riding the vagaries of the real estate market. That’s … pretty much it. He bought low & sold high at the right times, that’s his only primary skill. The rest? It’s all fluff and nonsense. Sure, he has a team of high-powered lawyers to screw over contractors and protect his interests. Sure, he has clever accountants who know how to ride the tax system. But what has he actually contributed to society? Nothing. At least Ross Perot created a couple of early-era tech companies, resulting in thousands of highly paid jobs. At least Michael Bloomberg ran a respected financial research company, providing millions of investors, large and small, with quality information. What did Trump do for anyone other than his immediate family and close circle of sycophants? Create crappy service-sector jobs cleaning toilets and carrying golf clubs? Yippee.

Beyond that, what is he? He’s a masterful marketer and self-promoter, that’s what he is. Trump-this and Trump-that, all of these products essentially frauds. Most things with his name on them are just license arrangements, he’s only directly involved in a handful of businesses. He’s nothing but a trademark. He’s the Wizard of Oz: a big, bloated head, floating around, trying to scare people. Behind the curtain? A very small and unimportant man. He’s all show and no do; all bluster and no muster. He has done nothing but promotepromotepromote, always about himself, never about others. Even his charitable works are under serious suspicion. He’s even screwed over veterans’ causes. First rule of being a president is you must care about the country and its people. He has never, in his sordid history, shown the least concern about anyone or anything other than his own brand.

Even his stupid reality show didn’t result in much more than humiliation for some and feeble opportunities for others. Why in the world did you believe that a reality show star is qualified for anything? Do you even watch reality TV, that fetid showcase of the dregs of humanity, full of nothing but literal, metaphorical, and philosophical nutshots? You wanted one of those people as POTUS? Geez, have you no sense at all?

Shouldn’t a president have some knowledge of how the world truly works? If you think he (or she) should, have you ever listened … I mean really listened … to anything Donald Trump says? Stereotypical marketing blather, that’s all. His statements on how to “make America great again” contain as much understanding and wisdom as an Axe Body Spray commercial. His quotes are right up there with “I’ll paint any car for $99.95” and “makes your colors bright and your whites white” (hmmm, that last one may have been a poor example for a completely different set of reasons). There’s even serious evidence that he’s functionally illiterate. Why would you want such a person in high office? For the lulz?

Finally, shouldn’t a president at least have some dignity? The president represents the entire country. The job simultaneously requires strength and gravitas, neither of which Donald Trump has ever shown. He is weak-willed and goofy, he has skin as thick as a ripe peach and all the seriousness of a bag of gummy worms. He sends vitriolic tweet storms against low-grade comics who pick on him on TV, and spent his debate appearances defending his own penis size. He’s his own caricature, a walking punch line, a joke of the worst sort. This is even before considering his constant stream of insulting remarks made over the last 18 months. How is any of that presidential? Sure, it makes the average fourth-grader laugh, but how does that represent our country, our values? If you voted for Donald Trump as president, you clearly have as much respect for the country as you have for a high school pep squad.

I don’t get it. I honestly do not get it. I do have a suspicion as to where this country is heading, though. Four years from now, it’s gonna look something like this:

 

 

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