Sunday, April 23, 2017

Humor and Trump


I just read an article in The Atlantic (How Late-Night Comedy Fueled the Rise of Trump) about how our favorite comedians—Trevor Noah, Samantha Bee, John Oliver and Stephen Colbert-- are possibly fueling the support for the Trump. The author, Caitlan Flanagan, points out, in particular, some of the episodes wherein the comedian includes interviews with Trump supporters and proceeds to make them look like fools, even one where Samantha Bee interviewed a young boy who did not realize that she would be making him look foolish—cruel it seems. Although making a very young boy look foolish is perhaps cruel, I have wondered often how and why the folks who allow themselves to look foolish on these comedy shows, do in fact signal a yes to being interviewed. Could it be that they do not know or understand who Samantha Bee, et al, are and what is their intent for such an interview? Are they perhaps so arrogant themselves that they believe they can outwit Samantha and make her look doltish?

The author has no particular recommendations, except maybe, stop doing what you are doing, because you may be inadvertently strengthening his hand.  Or perhaps, stop what you are doing because you have in fact simply become cruel. There may indeed be no further point to such interviews, since we all, on the right and on the left “know” each other so well that further evidence is no longer necessary.  I do wonder whether the author’s next article will be one in which she examines Fox News, or Alex Jones to discover whether they too are being cruel and fueling the “Resistance” building against the Trump monarchy.  But maybe not.  For apparently it is only the lefty intellectuals who are doing the devil’s work here in this poor benighted land of ours.

And I began thinking, maybe we need to begin thinking about our end as a great republic.  Because, we may now be witnessing the beginning of the end for America.  And our highly vaunted communications systems, including especially television, is bringing us to that end stage a little sooner than we might have wished. Perhaps the end will come when Trump supporters, all of whom are heavily armed, begin showing up at his rallies and shooting people, and then those anti-Trump folks—The Resistance—begin arming themselves and shooting back, leading to the last great Civil War in America, the one that brings down the Republic entirely.  Meanwhile, the Nation’s police forces, and the Nation’s armed forces sit on the sideline and watch it all happen, while President Trump sits in his palace at MaraLago, writing and sending inane Tweets about the glories of Americans fighting to support his honor.

Or perhaps we no longer have room in our society for humor of the political stripe. Maybe we need to return to Archie Bunker style humor, where we were allowed to make rednecks look foolish, or Jack Benny, where we made everyone seem foolish.  Maybe the lower middle classes no longer permit humor into their lives, which have been destroyed by the bankers and industrialists of the world, but who believe their lives have been destroyed by the globalist intellectuals of the land.

Trump, Marine LaPen, Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage all play from similar playbooks, although most are not as psychiatrically unhinged as our President.  But that matters not at all apparently, since his troops do not care whether he is an unhinged malenfant.  But their playbook is globalism generally is terrible for you my supporters. The current systems whereby we allow relatively free trade among global economies, and allow unrestricted migration of the world’s desperates is the problem, and I will fix that problem.  That their playbook also includes telling repeated large lies to their adoring public is a matter of record, but again, seems not to matter to the supporters.  Farage repeatedly insisted that the treasured NHS would recover hundreds of millions of pounds back after a successful Brexit, and then said, “Oh, no we really didn’t mean that” seems not to have affected those pro-Brexit voters.  Similarly, Trump’s continual lies and deceptions (see Trump University, see the Trump fake health plan) when revealed, again have no effect on his supporters’ belief in his Presidency.

That he continues doing and saying monumentally stupid things, because he is entirely ignorant of the world around him, is, I assume, irrelevant.  So, what should we the Lefties of the world, do in response? Are we supposed to simply sit back and await World War IV, where we all disappear in a cloud of radioactive dust? And should we, prior to that eventuality, adopt a politically sensitive (politically correct is no longer acceptable apparently) attitude towards his wonderful, America Great supporters? Are we allowed, incidentally, to complain when his supporters eventually kill someone trying to protest one of his stupidities? Or must we now say, “oh, well that person should have known better than to protest at  or about a Trump affair”. And then we will be at peace within our formerly great nation.

Oh, and do get rid of those snarky comedians. Let us all get our humor directly from The Donald, and his support troops.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Waiting for the Drumpf to Act Beyond . . .


Maybe it’s just me. I am of a seriously advanced age, don’t you know. That age, beyond which few of my ancestors ventured.  So, maybe too many things now scare me, seeing as how I seem to be facing my own mortality on a daily basis.

But really, would you trust Donald Trump with the nuclear codes, or even with the decision authority to drop a bomb on Afghanistan. Yeah, that big motherf#*#er he dropped the other day. Well, technically he didn’t drop it. Some air force general told some pilot to fly over a specific spot and let loose with that hell.  But the Drumpf? Well, he doubtless told the general to do it.

I guess Trump was getting tired of being criticized all the time about his Russian mafia connections, so he decided to drop some really big bomb on a target someplace—so many targets, so little time.

But see, that’s where I have serious problems with this idea that we gave this idiot the authority to do something like that.  We know he suffers from narcissistic personality disorder as well as sociopathic personality disorder. I’m also pretty sure he suffers from advanced, untreated ADHD, which I connect to the seeming fact that he does not appear able to read, or write (beyond 140 characters).

So, those three things seem to me to be disabling conditions. He is like a really whiny 6-year old with the conditions described above. He doubtless is always on the verge of doing or saying something stupid and even dangerous. Now, were he still 6, you wouldn’t give him a gun and tell him to go play on Second Avenue would you? Yet, we give him nuclear weapons and entire armies of guys and gals who know how to point and shoot real weapons.

See, mainly, I wouldn’t give him the authority to carry out the garbage, because of the likelihood that he would somehow screw it up, and dump the garbage all over the floor, or maybe the street.

I keep thinking. Suppose Theresa May, or maybe Boris Johnson says something snarky about him, like, “oh, yeah, but Trump is not a real conservative. What the hell were the Americans thinking when they put him in charge?” Now, he reads that, or worse, listens to it in a commentary on the Faux News Network. And then he begins whining. “Oh, yeah, well I am too. So, how would you like one of our 12,000 pound bombs dropped right on top of your fancy-schmanzy Parliament building? Hey, General . . .  go drop one on them.” Who would stand up to him and say, “well no, Mister President, that would be illegal. We cannot drop a bomb on our British allies without cause.” Who is there around him who might dare to tell him No?

So, aren’t we just biding our time until he manages to do something so catastrophically awful that one of his kids tells him to knock it off and come back to The Empire?  Ivanka . . . are you prepared for this?

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Jackie


Last evening, we watched a film called Jackie. As you might guess, it tells the story of Jackie Kennedy, after the assassination of JFK. The film is wonderful and awful at the same time. We were both painfully aware in November 1963 of what transpired that fateful day in Dallas.

Carol was sitting in our apartment on Nob Hill in San Francisco that morning. We lived right behind Grace Cathedral. Suddenly, the bells at the cathedral began chanting their sad tale, and carol had no idea why they were pronouncing their message to the world of San Francisco. We had no television, only radio. We had given up TV in 1959, hoping our kids would grow up without the banality of TV entertainment. So, Carol tuned into our local FM radio station to learn about the intoning bells. She sat in shock, while listening to the sad tale.

I had just flown into Boston that morning from San Francisco. I had rented a car at the airport and I was driving to our home office HQ in Cambridge. As I neared the office, the news came on the air. JFK had been shot while in a motorcade in Dallas. JFK was dead. JFK was dead. JFK was dead

I sat in the car, in the driveway of our office, in shock. I could not move.  I didn’t know what to do, or say to anyone.  Finally, I left the car and entered our office. Inside, it was quiet, except that a radio had been on. Everyone in the office sat there silent.  We had all been supporters of the Kennedy’s.  We had lived through the Cuban Missile Crisis early in his term.  I was still working at Lockheed Missiles and Space Company, as an engineer working on the Polaris, submarine launched missile system. We would retreat after work, and drink martini’s, while discussing where we would go, should the missiles begin flying to and from Russia and/or Cuba. Should we drive to the ocean, away from the city, or instead, maybe it might be safer to drive to the Sierra’s . . . yeah, the mountains. They would be safer.

So, we were tuned into the world, and to the Kennedy’s.  Jackie was like princess.  They brought us . . . Camelot.

And now he was gone, gone because yet another idiot had a gun and decided he needed to kill JFK. Why? Just cuz he could.

When I flew home, I experienced fear of flying for the first time. Why? Because I was a mere mortal. Death was at hand and who knew when/how Death might appear.

Yes, the film brought all that story back into our heads. They recreated a tale of horror from our own past.

Yes, the film was worth watching. Yes we were again saddened, revisiting another episode in our very full lives together.

We have witnessed  a lot of man’s inhumanity to man.

World War II . . . Korean War . . . the JFK assassination, Vietnam, and now the Middle Eastern never ending horror story. Apparently, the main thing mankind has learned from its many gods is, when in doubt throw some bullets at it.

And now we have The Donald to teach us anew.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Stupid as a Generator


With the latest action by the President Stupidhead Administration, visitors to the United States now may be required to turn over their phones to immigration officials and to provide their passwords. One assumes this requirement includes items like Tablet and laptop computers.  So, now visitors (and not only Muslims it is noted) are required to stand by while an ICE official roams through their previously private information in search of . . . hmmm . . . in search of what again? Well, never mind, Trump or President Stupidhead as he known to those closest to him, was never big on logic. He just does stuff cuz . . .

So, I’m thinking, were I a visitor from, say, London, flying into Washington or New York, assuming I could not just change my mind and stay home, or fly to Canada instead, I might be tempted to leave my smartie phone at home, along with my other tekkie gadgetry. I might buy a cheapo dumb phone and bring that with me . . . you know, the ones with no passwords and nothing to find . . . just a phone don’t you know.

And now I’m thinking. Wow, here’s a case wherein a truly stupid decision by that Fountain of Stupid Ideas might trigger a whole new tekkie trend . . . Uber Rent-a-Phone. Yeah, that’s it. Here’s the deal. You arrive at your departure airport and check in. Then you go to the Uber Rent-a-Phone desk where they have waiting for you a brand new Samsung S8 Plus Smartie Phone, or an Apple I-Phone 8 Plus. And it already has on it all the gadgetry you requested in your reservations.  Plus, if need be, you can also pick up your Samsung Tablet which you can use to carry out your business in New York, or wherever. Now there is no data on the devices, so when ICE requests your password, you can say, well, there is no password . . . you just turn it on and there it is.  And they can look to their heart’s content, but they will find nothing, because there is nothing to find.

And then you leave the airport and head into town. Once there, you first go to the nearest Uber Rent-a-Phone store, where they will restore all your data from its Cloud storage and your phone and Tablet are ready to use.

On the way out of town, as you head home, you will stop by that Uber Rent-a-Phone store again and they make all your data vanish back into the Cloud.  They will, of course, provide you with a dumb phone for your trip home, just in case someone wants to call you.

Once home, you will retrieve your Smartie phone and it’s business as usual.

Think of this as a business model.  Uber Rent-a-Phone will make a lot of money, which you get to write off as a business expense, so everyone is happy.

And I keep imagining that more terminally stupid decisions will continue to be made by President Stupidhead and his equally stupid cabinet BFFs. As each decision is made, a new business model will be born. Think of Stupidity as a generator of new technologic solutions.  So, I realize that this is a weird and twisted way of looking at our president, but I’m trying here to be positive. As he makes more decisions to kill jobs and destroy education, the climate, health care, etc., perhaps new solutions will be generated by our more creative business entrepreneurs to cope and to make money.

So think of the White House as the new Fountain of Stupidity, with each stupid idea being a candidate for a whole new business. 

Monday, April 3, 2017

Addictions & Other Weird Behaviors


As I go about my business working out at my local Y, I cannot help but notice what I have begun to regard as yet another form of addiction. No, not coke, or acid—smartie phones.  But, I think, it is not the phones per se, but rather what smartie phones provide in the way of access to a world of chatter—Facebook, LinkdIn, SnapChat, Twitter, et al.  I use Facebook, so I am aware that Millennials and likely 30-somethings, largely avoid Facebook. So, that social medium is turning slowly into a place where the elder sets go to exchange viewpoints.  But it matters not which medium causes the addiction. They all seem vaguely addictive.

But, back to the Y. What I notice with growing frequency are both dudes and dudettes, sitting on some workout bench or piece of equipment, staring at their phone. It seems clear they aren’t just listening to music, but rather they are staring at the screen, I assume because they are viewing some Facebook-like screen informing them that their BFF is now working out at the Y, or drinking beer at some pub, or driving to wherever. And, so I maneuver around them. The practice is so common, that I have begun counting. It is not uncommon that I will complete 4-6 workout machines before the dude will return to his workout and stop staring.

And it makes me wonder, why on earth did you get up this early to come to the Y, so that you could stare at your phone for 30 of your allotted 60 minute workout?  Why not just stay in bed and stare at your phone from a reclining position? Because I am able to simply move around the dudes, on to other machines, my own workout remains largely uninterrupted, although on occasion I have simply given up on a machine for that workout.  So, it is more a sense of amazement than annoyance that I am driven to wonder about this strange behavior.

And it makes me wonder even more about these same folks’ behavior, once they leave the Y and climb into their cars. Do they remain fixated on their phones?  We know that some do, since they can be observed operating/staring at their phones while driving.  And here I begin to hope for driverless cars in our near future.  Could they possibly be any worse than addicted drivers who are so distracted that they are unaware of things like red stop lights, or pedestrians in crosswalks? Seems unlikely.

And then it makes me wonder about the bizarre behavior of President Stupidhead, and his Twitterati world. Is that behavior similarly an addiction? I have assumed that his twitter behavior was simply a reflection of the fact that he cannot read or write anything beyond 140 characters. So, this is his means of communicating with his adoring Minions, since neither is able to communicate in English.  Just a thought.

So, how long do you think we all have on this here Planet Earth? If folks are slowly but surely becoming addicted to staring at little machines instead of working, and if our Leader communicates only to his Minions in DumbTalk, how long will it take for something calamitous to occur that ends everything?

Maybe that’s why I can no longer sleep beyond 4-5 hours a day. Hmmm . . .

Monday, March 27, 2017

Trump & Putin


Trump and Putin

I listened with fascination to a podcast discussion between Sam Harris and Anne Applebaum. Applebaum writes for the Washington Post, but her credentials are even more impressive for this discussion. To quote from the Harris blog, Anne Applebaum is a columnist for the Washington Post and a Pulitzer-prize winning historian. She is also a visiting Professor at the London School of Economics where she runs Arena, a program on disinformation and 21st century propaganda.

Formerly a member of the Washington Post editorial board, she has also worked at the Spectator, the Evening Standard, Slate, the Daily and Sunday Telegraphs, the Economist, and the Independent. Her writing has also appeared in The New York Review of Books, The Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Financial Times, the International Herald Tribune, Foreign Affairs, The New Criterion, The Weekly Standard, the New Republic, The National Review, The New Statesman, The Times Literary Supplement, and many other journals.

She is the author of Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944-1956, which describes the imposition of Soviet totalitarianism in Central Europe after the Second World War. Her previous book, Gulag: A History, won the Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction in 2004.”

The discussion contained several threads, including a full conversation about the incoherence of Trump.  He speaks some babble-language, probably mostly closely akin to what a 2-3 year old speaks. Mainly though, Applebaum focused on Trump and Putin. As to the connections, she has some interesting insights.

First, Putin can legitimately be labeled as the head of the Russian Mafia. He is using means both legal and illegal to enrich himself. Of late, it has become obvious that, when his ties to organized crime threaten to flush to the surface, critics mysteriously disappear, are ejected from the country, or simply die under questionable circumstances. So, it would seem that Russia is safely in the hands of its mafioso bosses.  And, now, it would appear, Trump plans the same outcome for America.

His campaign apparently adopted a Russian style campaign of disinformation. Paul Manafort helped to plan the campaign of the Putinesque Ukrainian leader, after which he began as the campaign manager of the Trump campaign.  The Russian style of campaigning is to develop false narratives of the opposition (in this case Hillary Clinton) and then employ both social media and fake news (in this case Breitbart and Fox) to disseminate and expand the false narratives.  In large measure, people believe both the fake news sites and the social media sites.  If it appears on TV, folks assume the facts have been verified and can, therefore, be believed. Why they continue to believe social media is beyond ordinary explanation.

Trump’s financial ties to Russia are manifold and well known. Even his children have bragged about the immensity of the Russian financial connections.  Manafort’s connections are as impressive, receiving ten million dollars per year on one contract alone.  The fact that Manafort withdrew from the campaign is largely irrelevant, since Trump continued throughout the campaign to employ the same tactics used in Russia by Putin.

But her central point is that we really do not need a “smoking gun” obtained by the CIA or a deep FBI investigation. What we already know is reason enough to do something about our President. Impeachment is one, but perhaps not the only remedy we might consider.  His continued illegal financial remunerations break the emoluments clause in the constitution, and he has consistently refused to take any action to stop these payments.   Yet, we do not act, and that is perhaps the most troublesome aspect of this entire affair. Yes, he was elected officially, and he is officially our President. But our President is not above the law, thank you.  So, given that his actions, past and present, actions that likely violate the law, are known and open, why do we not act?  Well, one may assume that republicans do not act, because it is not in their best interest to act. Acting against their leader would be viewed as a suicidal gesture, and republicans are not yet ready for such acts. Also, it is now clear that republicans view holding onto their lucrative positions in Congress as way more important than serving the people who elected them.  And, it should be noted, that, since republicans often fail to act in ways that help their constituents, they clearly will never act to meet the needs of people who either do not vote, or vote for other kinds of folks.

And then, finally, what about all those folks who voted for Trump and his merry band of Mafioso’s? Why do they continue to support him? The last numbers I saw suggest that 37% still support Trump, and that number simply astounds me. Really . . . with all we now know, 37% of our people support him?

Ms. Applebaum suggests that his supporters may well begin deserting Trump when it becomes clear that he lied to them and that he is not acting to meet their needs.  Well, I wonder, when might that be?  It is abundantly clear that he lies nearly everytime he opens his mouth, so it apparently is not just lying that matters to his supporters.  What is it they wanted again from Trump? Oh, yeah, their old jobs back. They want to be 1940’s-style coal miners again, or they want to work in big factories producing things we used to produce in the 1940s and 1950s.  Well, that may or may not happen anytime soon, although he is working at eliminating the regulations that keep coal-fired plants from polluting. We can then resume looking like we did before EPA regulations cleaned up our air. That should be fun.

But I think that his promises about jobs are mostly feckless, because I continue to believe that Trump really doesn’t know anything. He seems the most remarkably ignorant (stupid??) man ever to grace the White House. He helped to blow the health care replacement bill, mainly because he and his staff don’t know anything about either health care, insurance, or even politics.  They wander about in the dark, while he issues his daily stream of witless commentaries that seem barely even in English.

So, what is with his supporters again?

Well, one possible explanation is organized religion. Organized religion has existed for centuries, millennia even, as a force that communicates a belief system that borders on the lunatic. They created an entire after-death world of folks floating around on clouds chatting it up with long dead relatives and maybe even Shakespeare. But the specifics don’t matter. What matters is that many/most people are most afraid of death, and the cessation of being.  The Churches of the world, knowing that, created these fictional worlds that convey to the fearful (faithful) that they need not fear death, if only they pay attention to their church leaders—obey and you will be rewarded. Disobey/disavow and you will be punished with . . . The Zen of Nothingness.  Their game is closely akin to a Ponzi scheme, but because you die first, and nobody ever comes back to testify to the lie, the Ponzi can go on indefinitely.

So, folks now routinely listen to patent nonsense on a weekly basis, and yet they continue to support their leaders, even when their leaders do things like routinely rape little boys, or abuse the hapless in many other ways. 

Now, given that mentality, Trump becomes easier to understand and recognize. He has been compared to a carnival barker. But no, I would suggest he is way closer to a religious leader. We know carnie barkers lie, but they give us some fun along the way. Religious leaders lie, but we rarely acknowledge their lies, because we are too scared to so acknowledge the obvious.  And the more autocratic Trump becomes, and the less he responds to questions, the more he appears like a religious leader.  Most folks don’t routinely question their popes, or their ayatollahs. It just isn’t done.

So, he may get away with his Three-card Monte game for quite a while. Unless and until the other folks we elect to Congress and maybe even the judiciary decide that enough is enough.  But that may take a while, and may actually never occur unless and until we replace all the folks currently holding office, and that would require everyone to actually get off their asses and vote. Wow, voting . . . what a concept.


Thursday, March 16, 2017

Endings


I may just be becoming more aware of my age. Yeah, as you speed into your 80s, it’s like you’re cruising. But then, at some stage, you understand that you are now really close to the end. . So, maybe it’s that. I just have this feeling each day that I’m waiting for something to end, so that, I can get on with things—life and all that.

But maybe it isn’t just my own ending that I sense daily. Maybe it’s a bigger ending . . . the ending of everything I have known over these now 80+ plus years of life.

I remember back into the 1930’s . . . yeah I really do.  FDR and his fireside chats. Then Fiorella LaGuardia reading the Sunday comics over the radio.  Then that War thingie, you know, with Pearl Harbor, as I was turning seven.  And my uncle Billy, serving in the Seabees in the South Pacific, building air strips and buildings for our fighting troops.

And I remember vividly most of our Presidents: just think FDR, Truman, Ike, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan (ugh), Clinton, Shrub (double ugh), Barrie, and then . . . and then . . . the end. However much I really did not like Nixon and thought he really was a crook, or Reagan, who made it ok again to be a racist, most of them had some character and some moral values. Most seemed to believe in American values, especially the values conveyed in our Constitution. Some seemed to prefer blowing up things, to talking and trying to figure out how to live peacefully. The Dalai Llama keeps wandering the globe, looking for leaders who are willing to try peace, but he apparently hasn't found any yet. 

So, my life has seen periods of peace, and many periods of horror, when you thought it might never end.

But always, I believed that we were intrinsically a good people, and that somehow our leaders would find some way to make the horror end, and goodness to return. And that is what has now vanished.

This creature now inhabiting the Presidency (I would say the White House, but he seems to be spending more time at MaraLago golfing than he does in the White House governing) is pretending to be a real president. He may not drink, but he loves partying. He just knows nothing about being a president.

First and foremost, it is him. He is truly a one-man horror show. We spoke of him earlier as a Carnival Barker, a circus con-man. And he is that, but those terms really insult all carnie barkers. They may be conning you, but their cons are harmless, and even fun. Trump’s cons are deadly. They will kill people. They will destroy people in many ways.

And, unlike most of his predecessors, he actually seems not to care about the results of his words and his actions. He seems literally not to care who winds up hurt, or dead, so long as it isn’t him, or his deadly tribe.

For a while, during the election, he was a joke, and we all laughed at him. But now the joke is on us. It is said that his support is now down to 40% or less. He has many people running scared. And scared they should be, because his supporters, will soon lose their insurance and be back to no health care. And many, who thought he would bring back jobs, will learn that he has no tricks to bring back jobs in dead industries.  And that their lives are in or soon will be in the toilet . . . and that the President for whom they voted, does not care.

But it brings me to the 40% who still support him. How could that be? I can imagine that maybe 10% of the population is either so wealthy or so stupid that they really do not care either what he does. The Koch’s really don’t care whether the coal miners get new jobs. They don’t care whether you lose your health care, because they will always be able to buy theirs.

And Trump’s republican supporters who currently rule Congress? Well, guess what? They don’t care either. The republican party of Eisenhower is officially dead. In its place, you have either brain-dead creatures like Mitch McConnell, or not very smart and completely amoral fascists/anarchists of the Paul Ryan sort. He thinks he’s being oh so clever when he proposes to implement systems that throw 30 million people off health insurance, or (in his dreams) to gut Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Oh and let’s not forget the destruction of the American public school system in favor of vouchers.  Yeah, that’ll get us quality education—all those charter schools that do whatever the hell they like and pretend it’s education.

Where oh where, I keep asking is the republican intelligentsia?  Are they all gone fish’n? Is George Will really dead?  Where is the outrage at such terminally awful behavior, and such absurdist proposals at both state and federal levels of government (and remember, the state governments are home to some of the most awful proposals ever seen in the land).  Any thought of just relaxing and giving Trump some space seems, to me, inconceivable. And for his next trick, ladies and gentlemen, he will nuke San Francisco, just because he can.  See, it is no longer about something called “policies”.  No, now it is about sanity, and about the preservation of the American democratic system of government, and about our constitutional system of rights, none of which he seems to understand, because he cannot and will not read.  Apparently, he has never been able to read, which makes me wonder whether he ever actually attended school . . . or did daddy pay someone to show up in his name and pretend to be Donald Trump.

And I also wonder, well suppose he does something completely and obviously illegal (like he is doing now with his emoluments thing) and they actually impeach him. Well, then we get Mike Pence. Is he any better? Well, they say he is at least predictable. Yeah, and so was Hitler.  How'd that work out?

And the days go on and on, each day surpassing the last in stupid gestures out of the Drumpf, and lately, out of his republican buddies, Ryan & Co. The entire tribe is a threat to the existence of this nation.

I can only hope that groups like Indivisible, #Resist, and other such activist resistance groups will begin to swing the entire nation back to sanity. But I’m pushing on into 83, and I am no longer certain I will see that happen.

Beware America, he is just beginning to operate. He has failed at almost everything he has ever done. We are next. Pay attention. It is your life too.

The only possible path back is for everyone who is eligible to register and to VOTE. VOTE the bastards out of office. Find sane, thinking people to run for office in opposition to the creeps now in power. Remember, the Republican Party is now officially DEAD. The cretins pretending to be republican are fakes. They mean you harm. VOTE them out. There is no other plausible solution.

Friday, March 3, 2017

How Trump???


We just read a David Frum article in the Atlantic[1] about the global growth of autocratic movements, including, obviously, here with the Trump groups. As best I understand them, the analyses concerning Trump suggest that folks out there in America-Land are damned angry, and they’re not going to take it any longer.  They voted for Trump as a gesture to throw out all the rascals—their version, I guess, of “draining the swamp”.  By coincidence, one can observe a similar feeling/belief system operating around the world in other industrialized nations. Certainly the Brexit vote in Britain is but one such example. British workers are fed up with the same things that annoy folks here—mainly the conviction that their careers, their very jobs are either gone or at serious risk because of immigrants, or because of trade pacts that undermine their own national industrial base.  In Britain, unlike here, there is the added annoyance that Europeans are dictating laws that affect the British homeland, and they don’t want their laws dictated by Belgians, French, Germans, et al.

Here, it would seem, the Trump forces divide into a few different population sets:

·         The middle and lower middle class workers whose jobs are threatened, or have disappeared due to technology, shifting plants overseas, or replacement by other industries;

·         A second group of middle class workers who, while perhaps not threatened directly, have grown up within family/business circles that despise government and believe that private business should be unimpeded by government. They seem to love the rhetoric about government being part of the problem, rather than the solution (thank you Ronald Reagan)-- the Reagan “welfare queens driving around in Cadillacs” remains a vital core of their belief system;

·         Racists and other neo-Nazi groups that have emerged as a result of Trump rhetoric that makes it ok again to hate people of other racial, ethnic, or cultural groups;

·         Moderate to Wealthy corporate executives and right wing lobby groups aimed at reducing/eliminating the intrusion of government into their corporate lives. This group is especially active, heavily monied, and seeks to end government regulations across the board.

But, I keep asking myself, why would all these groups vote for Trump? We heard folks out there say that, Trump is a businessman, and that government would definitely benefit by being run like a business.  On the other hand, Trump is also a demonstrably unsuccessful businessman, almost uniquely so. His businesses have failed spectacularly. Six times Trump businesses have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, meaning that many investors lost much of their invested capital.

But he has also demonstrated what can only be called corrupt business practices, when he refuses to pay workers, or contractors who work for him, always claiming that their work was “inadequate”.

So, folks would like to see government run in this same fashion? Really folks??

And then, of course, there is his personal depravities.  Three marriages, multiple trashing of the very concept of marriage, through his casual approach to sex with many partners, and his utter failure to respect women in or outside his family.

It is not the case that all these flaws were hidden from the voting public. They were prominently on display to anyone interested in even casual information gathering about the candidates.

So tell me again why anyone voted for him?

It would seem that the racists/Neo-Nazi’s would continue to be drawn to Trump because he appeals to them much as autocrats of old (see Mussolini) appealed to their native populations. These groups were apparently offended by the election of an African-American President, and, despite his generally statesmanlike behavior throughout his eight years, there was nothing President Obama could have done that would satisfy the primal urges of such folks.  Many have never recovered from the Civil War, and sport Confederate flags at will on every occasion they can.  Trump fully recognized these groups and refused to publically condemn them.

The monied corporate set was also largely “in the bag” as soon as any republican was nominated. The fact that the nominee was a deeply flawed, mentally questionable person with serious personality disorders, apparently troubles them not at all. My assumption is that they believe, since they largely frequent the same country clubs, that he was controllable by them, and that he was largely already in their philosophical frame.  To be fair, some heavily monied corporatists declaimed him, but not enough of them to dissuade the voting public.  Big Bidness was seen as a loyal Trump ally, and the “government should be run like business” set liked that.

So, then we are left with the Middle and Lower class workers who were actually or potentially threatened by the extant global marketplace. Trade pacts such as NAFTA and the TPP were assumed to be bad by definition, because they caused American business to be undermined, as business drifted off to the other countries involved.

This group opted for Trump apparently because Trump voiced their concerns and fears directly, whereas the Democrats, Hillary especially, failed to do so directly.  He disparaged the global trade pacts, described our economy as being practically in the toilet, and blamed Obama and the Dems for its pitiful state.  Someone finally was “telling it like it is”. He was “taking names” and kicking ass, and they rallied to that approach enthusiastically.  His rallies resembled high school football rallies with the faithful screaming loudly in support, even to violently in support.  Trump applauded the violent displays, as they seem to appeal to his basic personality. His nauseous commentary, when he thought he might lose, about how her election might be beyond their control, “aside from those second amendment folks” seemed an outright appeal to assassination, although he would deny that.  Still, he appealed to their basest emotions, and identified with their real pain. Hillary never connected with these groups, and they seemed to see her as being part of their problem.

Could Hillary have appealed to these groups? Perhaps, but it really seems fairly unlikely. They were angry; Hillary represented the cause of their anger, and there was not much she could do to dissuade them from their position.

Curiously, Bernie Sanders seemed to appeal almost directly to these same fears and concerns.  So, might Bernie have formed a more formidable challenge to the Trump phenomenon? Maybe, but we cannot know at this stage. Certainly Bernie represented a fierier approach that had great appeal.  Maybe next time, or maybe in the form of another similar charismatic, such as Elizabeth Warren.

But more fundamentally, what must be done to retrieve the trust of this segment of our voting public, especially after Trump trashes their belief in him. When Trump and his republican buddies get rid of “ObamaCare” without replacing it with something as good or better, they will begin to understand that Trump and the republicans are an empty set, intent on maintaining and enlarging their power without fixing any of the underlying problems in America, other perhaps than the entirely fake problem of an undernourished military.

So, what could we have done, or more to the point, what could be done in the future to remedy these entirely real problems facing the American workforce, and the voting public?

It seems to me that we collectively have simply adopted this global economic model that multilateral trade will always be good for the nation, without dealing with the inevitable negative side effects of these trade systems.  While acknowledging that multilateral trade probably is good for the world, as it spreads money throughout the globe, its effects are not uniform. If Mexico or China can produce something that we used to produce at less cost than we can manage, then they gain and we will lose. The assumption of global economics folks is that, while we will lose on some deals, textiles for example, we will make it up on other commodities, maybe high tech goods or services.  And over time, as we lose those higher tech commodities, we will gain in some other newer set.  Except . . . ahhh, there’s always an exception. When we gain in some new set of commodities, a new group of workers are involved, and the set of workers who lost out??? Well, they are simply unemployed.

Now this trade effect can be seen vividly in the old textile industry, where production moved from the North here in the US to the South, and then farther South into Latin America, thence on to China. Our textile workers became casualties, and many never recovered. Similarly, when coal mines gave out, in favor of other mines, or other energy sources, the miners became permanently unemployed, mainly because they had no other skill set on which they could rely for obtaining employment in a different sector of our economy.

And the list goes on and on.

So, what did we do about these many “side effects” of global trade? Well, largely, nothing—enter Donald Trump.

But what could we have done? Well, here is where a government-business partnership seems appropriate. We all know that, when a coal mine closes, we would not expect the mine owners to devise another enterprise that would accept their now unemployed miners. It would be nice, but that typically is not the way business works. Business owners protect their own capital, and seek new ways to enrich themselves without worrying overly about the workers who used to enrich them.  They are just casualties. Onto bigger and better ways of making money.

See, this is the single thing that folks who want government to run like business don’t get. Business largely cares only about profit and loss. Whatever will enrich the owners is the path that will be followed. Government, on the other hand, is supposed to have a larger set of objectives, more aligned with the citizenry and the safety and wellbeing of that enterprise called The Nation. So, when a President develops and sets into law something like the WPA[2] to put people to work, it is an act that a business would never entertain.

So, have we needed a modern WPA? Maybe, but the central issue is that we have needed for at least the last 50-60 years, some function within our government that is charged with working with industry to devise solutions, both short and long term to correct for the effects of global trade imbalances and damages. Sometimes, the solution might be a short term public works investment, but sometimes we might need to devise longer term approaches involving training, or public-private investment strategies that will keep our work force current.  We might need tax dollars for these investments, and we might need private capital investments in new technology or new facilities.  Who knows, perhaps the nation’s workforce of economists could join together in some enterprise that causes them to do something beyond statistical extrapolation.

But it seems to me that we need something new and that it cannot be solely a government or a private sector initiative, but some combined effort. It might well involve retraining whole workforces, or some permanent systems to retrain threatened sectors. It would certainly involve research into alternative industrial investment patterns, which could include both public and private. And for those who imagine that governments should not be involved in industrial enterprise development, they need to examine the nation a bit more in depth.  Our entire military-industrial complex, which Ike warned us about, is precisely a government-private sector investment strategy. We make no argument here to duplicate that approach, but we argue instead that we need something similar in terms of a cooperative endeavor between the two economic forces.

And the efforts need to be made public, so that our workforce can always see that both our government and our private sector industrialists now always include their welfare in the decision processes.

One final note here. Because many of the abandoned workers have no skill sets beyond their now abandoned industrial jobs, they need to be made part of this system. They cannot simply sit on their asses and whine about how unfair the world is. They need to be active partners in their own economic redemption. Now, how’s that for a challenge???



[1] Frum, David, How to Build an Autocracy, The Atlantic, March 2017
[2] The Works Progress Administration (renamed in 1939 as the Work Projects Administration; WPA) was the largest and most ambitious American New Deal agency, employing millions of unemployed people (mostly unskilled men) to carry out public works projects, including the construction of public buildings and roads.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

On Hating in America


We seem to be headed downhill and picking up speed. I do hope we can negotiate that 90 degree turn at the bottom of the hill before we crash through the barrier and go flying into the canyon of despair—Donald and Louise???.

It seems almost every day, we encounter more madness on the part of either our President himself, or his henchmen. And the list of henchmen grows daily. It wasn’t too bad when we just needed to worry about Bannon, Priebus and that Spicer idiot. But now, we apparently have to worry about the remains of the republican party. And I do mean remains. The coffin of that once proud institution has now been nailed shut and it has been lowered below ground.  I assume at some point, the George Will’s of the world will attend a memorial service.  Maybe they could get Ronnie Reagan, Jr. to give the  eulogy . . . “alas poor Yorick, we knew him well . . .”  But maybe not. The Reagan boys aren’t too keen on the demise of the party since Daddy ruled the waves.  In one article, they assert:

“Ronald Reagan’s sons have one thing to say to Donald Trump: We knew Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan was our father. And you’re no Ronald Reagan.

The conservative 40th president has been a touchstone in practically every presidential race since he left office, but  (in 2016), from Scott Walker’s fawning tweets to Jeb Bush’s custom T-shirt, Reagan fever seems to have reached a new high.

Not only is the whole party “certainly getting him wrong as a Republican,” says Ron, the idea of comparing Trump to his father disgusts him. “I can’t think of two people who are more diametrically opposed. This egotistical, narcissistic guy with the weird comb over swanning in his private plane. … I mean, look in the mirror, fat boy. Look at that hair, you’re ridiculous! Where do you get off talking on anybody’s appearance? It’s just so unchivalrous. My father would recoil at that sort of thing.”

Michael Reagan, a conservative political strategist who hosted a talk radio program for 26 years, also questioned the idea that Republican candidates today are just like his father, especially Trump. “It’s interesting to see how many of them … recreate my father in their image and likeness instead of his,” he says. “Ronald Reagan would never take 11 million people or three million people or a million people and throw them out of the United States of America.” Plus, Michael says, talking about Reagan all the time is just bad strategy: “I have a 32 year-old daughter named Ashley. She knows who Ronald Reagan is, but name another 32 year old who does.”

And as for Donald Trump being the next Ronald Reagan? That’s ridiculous, says Michael. “To say what he said about Carly? … Is that the face we want for the Republican Party? If that’s the face, then the Democrats have to be going, ‘Go Donald!’”


So, maybe they will have to go elsewhere to find someone who will swoon over the death of the party.  I guess back to you George Will. We know you have no principles. Maybe you should restart writing about, ummm . . . maybe Bill Clinton. You did so love writing about Bill.


Meanwhile, back at the ranch, America seems collectively to be losing its head.

On the one hand, we have our Congress practically swooning at the prospect of taking health care away from Americans, from Obamacare to Medicare and Medicaid.  Paul Ryan wants to “privatize” everything, which means to him, arranging to give folks a discount on buying private insurance. Ryan seriously has no actual principles. If we follow his lead, and Republicans seem to have no thoughts except his inane few, then Americans will be virtually the only nation on earth in which its people really have no actual access to health care.  Under Obama, the uninsured had reached an all-time low. Under Trump, it appears that most of the population will have no health insurance, and, therefore, no health care.  Is that really what you voted for, you angry, disaffected voters??? Really???


And then there’s North Dakota, in which a state legislator has introduced a bill to not only criminalize protests, but would allow drivers to use their automobiles to run down and even kill protestors who are in the street . . . so long as it was done “accidentally”.  Really, North Dakota??? really?? But five republican states are planning to criminalize protests. Apparently nobody ever told them about the constitutional right to peacefully assemble, including to assemble in order to protest.


So, we are fast going off the rails, or headed downhill at an increasing pace, as we approach the 90 degree turn and the barrier that we will crash through, as we head into oblivion.

It still is not clear exactly why we turned so hateful.  Perhaps we have always been so, and it took a Black President to bring all the racists out of our collective woodwork.

No one can truly claim that Kim Jung Drumpf is proving to be a surprise. What you see is what you get with him. He appeals to everyone’s lowest instincts. And the current crop of power-mad pseudo-republicans always operate at that lowest level. It is why they are practically drooling from their foaming mouths at the prospect of taking away health care from millions of Americans. Their Christian Taliban supporters will quote their bible in support of removing health care or denying freedom to Americans they hate. And HATE is the new norm for these folks. They don’t just disagree. Now, they HATE. And apparently, they are willing to kill opposing Americans.

It is the new norm in America.


And I imagine that the rest of the world is now working on new ways to cope with America, including withdrawing from agreements or in fact any contact with America. Wait until we are sitting all alone in our own universe of hate, folks. 
Get ready. Here it comes.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Lying


We seem to have a problem . . . one might call it a serious problem.

We have a sitting President who seems rarely to speak the truth. Instead, some estimates suggest that he lies 75% of the time he speaks---75%. That means he rarely tells you something that is factually correct.

He also, perhaps because of his personality disorder, is in the habit of routinely accusing others, his opponents mainly, of committing the sins that he commits routinely. For example, he seems to know that he lies routinely, so, to distract attention from that little problem, he accuses others, again his opponents mainly, of lying. When he called Hillary, “lying Hillary”, or “crooked Hillary”, he was really trying to shift attention away from his common problem, that he lies, and is of a crooked mind.

Now we all assume that politicians tell “porkys”, or that they, at the least, exaggerate.  But with our President, something different seems to happen. He lies, even when it is patently clear to even the most disinterested observer, that he is lying. It was raining, during his inaugural address, yet he asserted that God had cleared the air for him.  He lied about the size of the crowd watching him, even when photo evidence said that the crowd was modest at best compared to the crowd that had watched Obama. He lies about the issue of illegal voters casting votes for Hillary, even though he has no evidence, and all observers tell us there is no such evidence.

He lies about issues such as murder rates, unemployment rates, when we have fairly objective evidence, available to one and all, telling us that he is lying.

So, we have a new bottom line regarding our President. That is:

We cannot trust anything Donald Trump tells us.

Nor can anyone with whom he comes into contact. That would include:

Congress persons,

Judges,

Foreign officials,

Military leaders,

Business leaders.

I failed to mention church leaders, but that seems unimportant, since so many of them no longer tell the truth either.

Now, why is this serious, you might ask? Well, in normal human encounters, we all make certain assumptions about the encounter, assuming it includes some form of human communication.  One assumption is that the people with whom we converse, will communicate most of the time in words that bear some semblance of reality. That is, they will not simply make stuff up out of thin air and pretend they are communicating factually. We might look askance, for example, were we to meet a friend at night, and have him comment on how wonderful the sunshine was at the moment, when in fact there is no sunshine and the night is very dark.  Or should we meet a friend who is 450 pounds, and he comments on how slim he is looking, and would I not agree?

See, I am not talking about opinions, where there is some room for multiple views. No, I mean that there is an objective truth, and the other person denies that obvious truth. That is our President.

So, why is this important?

Well, the President speaks to the people periodically to tell us about the state of some reality—the world, our relative safety, the state of our economy, or the state we observe in the world outside our nation. He “informs” us about those states of reality. And, although, those realities are always subject to multiple opinions, because they are neither black nor white, we need to able to trust that our President will at least approximate the truth of those reality states. That is, even if he shades the truth to one side or the other, he will not simply lie about the truth.  If we cannot trust what he says, then he cannot and must not be our leader. He must be led outside and removed from his high office. Mainly, if you cannot believe what some person tells you, then you cannot have a human relationship with that person.

Again, we know that periodically most folks will tell “porkys”, bend the truth in some way that favors them, or their perspective on something. But most folks do not simply lie about almost everything. Mainly, lying is too burdensome. It requires complex webs of tales that attempt to support the lies, but only make one appear terminally stupid.

So, why would someone, especially someone as public as our President, tell us so many obvious lies? Well, apparently, this is what he has always done, so he simply is continuing his normal pattern of abnormal behavior. But in the past, i.e., before he was President, it mattered less.  Oh, it mattered doubtless to his contractors, when he hired them to do some work, and then, on completion, he simply refused to pay them, inventing some tale about their inadequate work, forcing them to sue him in order to retrieve their money.  But largely, the public was unaware and unharmed by those lies.

He apparently lies, because he is mentally out of touch with reality much of the time.  His reality differs from most of the rest of us.  His friends and associates keep making excuses, telling us that he “believes” things and so speaks according to his altered state of reality belief system.  And we are not to take him literally. We should evidently take him seriously but not literally. Now what in heavens name does that mean?  He says he will act so as to have a wall erected between the USA and Mexico. And we are to deduce that the wall might be a fence, a wall, some other kind of electronic barrier, or maybe just make believe. He says he will Make America Great Again, implying that America is not now great. But he fails to tell us in what way he will make us great again.  He says he will rearm us, return our military to its former great state, instead of whatever pathetic state it is now in.  He says he will abolish “Obama-Care”, but introduce an even greater health care system. His hyperbolic language is so extreme, that it is now the stuff of comedy dreams. Comedians everywhere are being handed a daily dose of comic material such as they could only dream of.

And this pathetic state of affairs has occurred in less than a month. Whatever are we to do for the next four years? 

He has appointed arguably the worst cabinet in the history of our pathetically ungreat nation.  Almost without exception, he has appointed people who are antagonistic to the very purposes of the institutions they will lead.  One can only assume that he intends ridding the nation of Education, Energy, Environmental Protection, Health Research, and health care for the elderly, income assurance/supplementation for the elderly, protection of the working man through labor protections, and the entire judicial system (he does hate those pesky judges always interfering with his whims).

And this is what the entire Republican Party has come to. It is now the pathetic party of Donald Trump and his circus clown car rule. Wouldn’t Lincoln be proud? One might imagine some stirrings of a sense of horror and doom out of at least some of them. But no, they are no longer a party of principles. Instead, they are the great destroyers of a once great nation. 

They cannot even address the relationship between Trump and Vladimir Putin, or even perhaps between Trump and the Russian mafia.  They seem incurious about his tax returns, even while absorbed for years about Hillary’s e-mails. 

Curiouser and curiouser.

What are to make of all this? Well, for one, it seems clear that money has taken over our political system completely. The current party in charge is the best government money can buy—thank you Citizens United.  Thank you Supreme Court.

We can and doubtless should continue to protest the ongoing stupidities perpetuated by Trump, Ryan, Bannon and the rest of his corps of pseudo-Nazi leaders.

We can hope that leakers will continue to leak information being withheld about the inner doings of the Trump carnival or the republican serfs who now serve his purposes, whatever they may be.

Mainly, we will need to work on voting and getting folks out to vote in 2018 and then again in 2020.  Voting is truly our last refuge, assuming republicans do not remove our ability to vote . . . and they will and are trying, since they no longer have any shame.

So, think and work on 2018 and then on 2020, assuming we are not all dead by then.

Til then, continue watching anyone on TV who still is allowed to make fun of our dilemma and of the Drumpf especially. He is a buffoon, and we all need to make sure he realizes that, on a daily basis. Maybe begin to write the Drumpf frequently, telling him that he is a clown. He won’t like that, but it doesn’t matter any longer. He is what he is. Call a clown a clown.

Ta ta . . .