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Utter Depravity

161009214226-donald-trump-hillary-clinton-01-16-exlarge-169I’m back! It’s been almost four months since I posted here. My only excuse is that I’ve been in a quasi-depression since the night Trump was elected President. I stayed up all that night watching returns, hoping against hope that what Chuck Todd was telling me just wasn’t so. I was in shock, I think.

For awhile afterward I was in mourning for Hillary, for the devastation this loss would wreak on her personally and for the nation’s loss of her superior intellect, her long experience in governing, and her sheer stones. It looks as though she is recovering, though, and the forthcoming publication of her account of the campaign looks to be an honest review of What Happened. She is a brave woman. Other women will appreciate her comments about the scene famously depicted in the photo (and hilariously recreated by Kate McKinnon and Alec Baldwin on SNL) when Trump stalked her as she attempted to make a point. Women know this behavior.  From what I have seen so far, male commentators just don’t get it, and her mentioning it will no doubt offer such men another ground on which to belittle her.

As time passed, I realized that my sadness had additional roots. I have been repulsed by Trump’s racism ever since the 1980s when he took out a full-page ad in the New York Times urging that the so-called “Central Park Five” be executed. You may recall that a jogger had been horribly assaulted in the park. Five young black and Latino men were arrested for the crime, mostly, as far as I can see, just because they were there and they were young men of color. They were freed from prison by DNA evidence after a long incarceration that ruined the rest of their lives. For his part in this incident, in my opinion, Trump himself deserves a stint behind bars.

It should be clear by now to any attentive American that Trump’s racism is still alive and well. But there’s more. I add amorality to racism and misogyny as serious charges against Trump. Because of this he is utterly unfit for political office. Some days I agree with those few brave voices that have suggested he has mental deficiencies, and if this were shown to be the reason (the only reason) for ejecting him from the presidency, one could feel sorry for him. On the other hand, solid evidence of his impairment would allow (force?) the House of Representatives to begin the process of removing him from office.

Aside from that possibility, Trump has shown himself to be an utterly vile person. His only concern seems to be to protect and advertise his greatness and (possibly) that of his family. There seems to be very little warmth between him and his trophy wife. Who can blame her? I hope the payoff for her has been sufficient to make up for the reality that she must occasionally spend time with this horrible person.

Perhaps one could grant that Trump has at least one moral imperative: the preservation of his self-image. Whatever he wants is right;  whatever goes against his desire is wrong. That is why he returns again and again to the old slights and the tawdry victories–he has transformed his presidency into a continuous stump, an unending hymn to his supposed greatness. In the mean time he has accomplished little for the country apart from the selection of a new Supreme Court Justice, which was actually engineered by the equally vile Mitch McConnell–who at least owns the virtue of craftiness.

I was moved to write about this today by something that supposedly happened during Trump’s rally in Phoenix last night. Apparently one of his supporters hollered out that Senator John McCain should die right now. McCain’s daughter Megan responded to this taunt in a tweet: “I wouldn’t wish seeing this about your own father on my worst enemy. May God help these people who inflict such cruelty in the world.” https://t.co/2wV3yFI1Hn

Indeed. Megan McCain has put her finger on the most heinous effect of Trump’s immorality: his followers have been infected with his vileness.

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Is This It?

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Back in 2002 and for several years thereafter Desert and I inhabited offices that sat next to one another at the end of a small hall. Every morning, whoever arrived at work last asked the other: “Is this it?”

While the ostensibly required answer was “yes” or “no,” the question actually meant: has the Bush administration finally told a lie that is transparently false enough to awaken Americans to the fact that they always lie? About 9/11, about their attempts to find bin Laden, about WMD, about Iraq, about their purge of state attorneys-general, about torture–on and on and on.

It’s time to revive the question, this time about yet another dishonestly elected Republican president:  Is this it?  Is it clear enough yet to the Hairball’s supporters and enablers that the Russians helped him to steal the election? That the Russians may still have some hold over him and his administration? That they may, goddess forbid, be dictating policy to him?

Hillary tried to warn us during the third debate:

“But you are very clearly quoting from WikiLeaks. And what’s really important about WikiLeaks is that the Russian government has engaged in espionage against Americans.

They have hacked American websites, American accounts of private people, of institutions. Then they have given that information to WikiLeaks for the purpose of putting it on the Internet.

This has come from the highest levels of the Russian government, clearly from Putin himself, in an effort – as 17 of our intelligence agencies have confirmed, to influence our election.

So I actually think the most important question of this evening, Chris, is finally, will Donald Trump admit and condemn that the Russians are doing this and make it clear that he will not have the help of Putin in in this election, that he rejects Russian espionage against Americans, which he actually encouraged in the past?

Those are the questions we need answered. We’ve never had anything like this happen in any of our elections before.” (ww.politicususa.com/2016/12/10/october-hillary-clinton-told-71-6-million-viewers-russias-interference-election.html).

You may recall that Hillary “won” that debate. Indeed, she won all of the debates even though the Hairball stalked her and called her names during each one. She also won the popular vote by almost three million.

I guess that’s what you get for telling the truth in America today.

Loss. Silence.

And yeah I’m bitter, and yes I’m holding a grudge, etc etc and every other trite claim that can be thrown up. Can you blame me?  My country is being stolen while the damned Thugs sit on their smug asses and tell us “Move along.  Nothing to see here” as they prepare to take away health care and deregulate the banks that brought us the 2008 crash and lower taxes on the rich, and, and ….

AGH!

 

 

 

 

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I could have sworn the notice said “Office Hours With Jeff Flake.” For those of you who live elsewhere, Flake (yeah I know) is one of my Senators. The so-called “office hours” were to be held today in my home town at the library.

What’s not to like? I figured I would go early, take a book to read until people began to show up, and meet some of my neighbors.

When I arrived about 45 minutes early a small room was already full. So the librarian moved us to a bigger room, telling us we were the largest group who had ever congregated for one of these events (a sign of interesting times? the impending apocalypse?) Soon the larger room was full as well, and seats were being brought for those gathered in the children’s library next door. Most members of the audience were white-haired (no surprise given where I live). It was not too difficult to discern political stances by reading T-shirts: “RESIST!” and “Human Rights” sat a few rows away from “Trump/Pence.”

As we waited for someone to address us, an enterprising woman who works for the blood bank got up to tell us that local banks are dangerously short of blood. She gave us dates when the mobile blood banks would be in our neighborhoods, and urged us to donate. She gave out cards with the dates to remind us.

Maybe we should run her for the Senate?

About fifteen minutes late, three people in suits showed up, and one of them distributed forms on which we were to write our names and contact information, along with questions we wanted to ask Senator Flake. Clearly the woman addressing us was not the Senator. When asked, she told us that she is his Office Manager. His office manager!

Undeterred, audience members raised hands and posed questions. I heard one about immigration and another about water;  neither were friendly, IMO, to Thug positions on these matters. Finally someone asked:  are you going to answer our questions?

“No,” she said, looking surprised by the quite reasonable question. “I’m just here to gather your responses.” At that point, the crowd groaned their disappointment and began to disassemble.

The afternoon wasn’t a total loss.  I met some nice people and was pleasantly surprised by the generally center-liberal bent of the questions that did get asked as well as the occasionally quasi-belligerent tone in which they were asked.

If Flake ever does show up in Arizona to answer questions, he had better be prepared.

 

 

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A Comparison

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Woodrow Wilson shepherded the country through WW1; he was also prex when women achieved the vote. FDR got the country through a horrible depression by means of several progressive bills and programs–social security was one of these. He also saw us through WW2. He can’t easily be forgiven, though, for the incarceration of Japanese-American families.

My folks were enamored of Harry Truman, who established the Marshall plan to help Europe recover from the war, and who was instrumental in the establishment of NATO. He advanced the cause of civil rights for African-Americans by desegregating the armed forces and forbidding discrimination in federal hiring. But history has not been kind to the man who dropped atom bombs on innocent civilians.

Now we come to prexes that I remember. JFK had promise and joie de vivre, although the Bay of Pigs was a stupid error that brought us to the brink of nuclear war. (It’s not quite fair to blame JFK for this–he was probably misled by the CIA). In his short time as prex Kennedy furthered the cause of civil rights, although unevenly, and put in motion the plan to put a man on the moon. And he sure did class up the place.

LBJ was a superior wheeler and dealer: he installed Medicare and passed a voting rights act and the Civil Rights Acts against the wishes of the southern members of Congress. He was my hero for a time, and then he went and got us mired in Vietnam. Jimmy Carter brought environmental consciousness to the country well before this was mainstream; Thugs did everything they could to deter him, including endless mocking of the sweater he wore in the White House in order to encourage Americans not to waste energy. He was cheated out of re-election by Thugs who arranged an illegal deal with the Iranians to bring home some American hostages.

Bill Clinton presided over and encouraged the tech boom;  he brought the country out of a recession and into prosperity. He might even have passed single-payer health care, had he and his wife not been hounded and hounded by the Thugs, who impeached him, unsuccessfully, for having sex with a willing intern.

And you know all about Obama’s achievements: bringing the country out of yet another Thug-caused recession/depression, and passing the ACA, both of which achievements occurred before the Thugs took over Congress and stymied him at every turn. He did manage to appoint two tough women to the Supreme Court, free thousands of people from prison who were over-charged for small crimes, and, like Clinton, Obama created more federal lands to protect them from mining and logging.

Now I can hear you saying to yourselves:  “Doc, we know all this. Why are you repeating this history?” Because I want to compare these presidents to the Thugs who came in between them.

After LBJ came Nixon, who extended the war in Vietnam (ie he committed treason) in order to defeat the Dem candidate for prex, and who resigned to avoid impeachment for actual crimes and misdemeanors, like breaking and entering. He was followed by Gerald Ford, whose greatest accomplishment was to pardon Nixon.

Then came Reagan, who announced his candidacy in Philadelphia, Mississippi, the town where civil rights activists Schwerner, Chaney and Goodman were murdered by the Klan. CLUE PHONE for those paying attention: Reagan and his goon Lee Atwater (Reagan’s Steve Bannon) did their level best throughout his presidency to set back the cause of civil rights. He also busted the air controllers’ union, thus marking the beginning of the end of unions in this country. He illegally trafficked weapons to conservative insurgents in South America, although there is some doubt about what he knew about this program, given that he was in at least the early stages of dementia during most of his second term.

Then the Thugs gave us Bush the first. This Bush, who was probably hip deep in Iran-Contra and lied about it, gave us Clarence Thomas. Then there was Bush the second, who brought us Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld who in turn most likely gave us 9/11, along with war with Iraq and Afghanistan, torture, Alberto Gonzales, Sam Alito, John Roberts, and finally, the Great Recession.

That is to say, Thug presidents in my lifetime have been a dreary catalog of cheats and inepts.

And now the Thugs have given us the Hairball.  The End.

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Well, we’ve cast the Black Knight. But who will play the role of King Arthur? Vlad? The Rethugs?

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Early this morning I watched “The Golden Globes,” which I taped last night so as to skip the interminable commercials. I usually skip through acceptance speeches as well, thus shortening a three-hour experience to about an hour’s worth of pictures of handsome people and some hints about which new movies and TV shows are worth watching.

But I didn’t skip past the talk given by Meryl Streep, who won the Cecil B. DeMille award, and who was brilliant in “Florence Foster Jenkins” this year. I’m glad I didn’t.  In her subtle way, Streep tore Trump a new one. Here is part of what she said:

“But there was one performance this year that stunned me. It sank its hook in my heart not because it was good.  It was — there was nothing good about it — but it was effective and it did its job,” she said.

“It made its intended audience laugh and show their teeth. It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter, someone he outranked in privilege, power, and the capacity to fight back. It kind of broke my heart, and I saw it, and I still can’t get it out of my head because it wasn’t in a movie,” added Streep of Trump’s impersonation. “It was real life. And this instinct to humiliate when it’s modeled by someone in the public platform by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody’s life because it kind of gives permission for other people to do the same thing.” (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/arts-and-entertainment/wp/2017/01/08/meryl-streep-called-out-donald-trump-at-the-golden-globes-read-her-speech-here/?utm_term=.2efb6034b280).

That is a spot-on analysis of a serious danger Trump poses to our country. He exemplifies–enacts–the abuse of power, whether that power can be exerted by men over women, adults over children, whites over people of color, able people over the disabled, natives over foreigners. All such abuse is life-threatening, not always in the sense of actual loss of life, but in the sense that such incidents and expressions of negative attitudes take the joy and possibility out of living.

As if to illustrate Streep’s very point, Trump tweeted this morning that she is “an over-rated actress,” along with others of his typical attempts to demean his critics and/or change the subject.

Over-rated? Anyone who has seen Streep’s best performances (“Sophie’s Choice” or “Doubt”) knows that she earned those 30 Globes and 19 Oscar nominations with hard work and talent. Both are features of human being with which Trump seems totally unfamiliar.

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