Sunday, April 29, 2018

Post Truth

An interesting and disturbing series of articles this morning in the Sunday Times.  One was on what they are calling our “Post-Truth” era, thanks to our President who apparently cannot tell the difference between truth and fiction.  But the article attempts to explain the continuing support for him, even when he is clearly lying. They attribute the support to folks’ ability to think, “well, it could be true” . . . sort of a “wannabe truth”.  For example, Sarah Huckleberry engages in this kind of explanation routinely, since she is the chief splainer for the Liar-in-Chief.  Her explanation for his lies about having the biggest audience ever for his inauguration. “Well, it could have been . . . had the weather cooperated”.  In other words, in another universe, his audience might have grown to the largest ever.

Now the problem I have with the explanation, is that it implies that nothing anyone does or says has any relationship to fact or truth. If we are to follow that logic, then nothing anyone says or does also has any consequences. For example, if someone runs a red light and strikes a pedestrian, the driver might say, well, my light could have been green . . . ergo, I am guilty of nothing.  And of course, that explanation could well have been used to justify the invasion of Iraq . . . “well they could have had WMDs”.

And if that explanation is the rationale being used by his supporters to eliminate any issues concerning “truthiness” by The Liar-in-Chief, then it truly no longer matters what he says or does. But I wonder about such an explanation. I understand that Sarah Huckleberry might use such a rationale. I mean, she lies for a living and so has to construct whatever rationale works for her.  But I wonder about his supporters at large. Could it be that they simply no longer care what he says, or whether his words have any relationship to the Truth? I am brought to the belief that his supporters simply like what he is doing or saying, and the truth, to them, is irrelevant. If he proposes to ban all Muslims, and they don’t like Muslims, then whatever his rationale, his supporters will cheer, regardless of whether he is truth-telling or lying.  And if he is bashing Gays, or people of color, and they don’t like such folks, then again, it matters little his rationale.  What happens as a consequence, of course, is that the Nazi’s are allowed out of their closets and can now proceed to demonstrate for Nazi-rights on our streets . . . you know, the freedom to kill people they don’t like, just cuz.  And the Evangels of our Land, our very own Christian Taliban, can also yell and scream and try force as a method of shutting down programs such as the Planned Parenthood clinics, because they could be providing abortions.
And nobody does anything.

We could vote I suppose, but even that drastic course (well, remember, at least half of our voting age public does not routinely vote) is subject to the rules dictated by the Republican Guard in many of our states and precincts. First they gerrymandered, then next they try intimidation at the polls.
But we have apparently simply given up on demanding anything of our President. We now accept his behavior, regardless of what he says or does.  He lies about something, and now, our collective response seems to be, “OK so who needs a beer?” And so life goes on, and we no longer have any standards of behavior.  See, it isn’t really any longer about just Trump. A large change is occurring, or perhaps, has occurred in the American people. If we no longer care about “truthiness” then we are no longer a worthy people.  And are we now ok with that assertion? Are we really ok with no longer being a worthy people?  Because the Nazi’s in the 1930s Germany were no longer a worthy people. And the slaveholders in the 16th-19th centuries were no longer worthy people.   We imagined that we had grown more civilized, at least I thought we had. I imagined that the Civil War, and World Wars I & II meant that we had standards of morality that were better than what I see being demonstrated on a daily basis here in America of 2018. Maybe we have retreated now and, although we can blame Trump, it really is ourselves we must blame. We allow his behavior and tell him repeatedly that such behavior is actually ok with us.  He continues because he is allowed to continue.  And my question is . . . are we really ok with that position? If so, then we really are finished as a Nation and we only need a new Edward Gibbon to document the “The History of the Decline and Fall of the American Empire So, think hard American people. Think hard.

And I also began thinking about our Liar-in-Chief and his constant campaigning.  He avoided the White House Correspondents dinner in order to campaign in Washington, Wherever. Two things: first, he avoided the dinner because he is incapable of listening to any critical commentary about himself—that’s his extreme narcissism in action.  But second, and perhaps more important, he has never actually stopped campaigning since he won the Electoral College vote. No president on record has ever done that. And I wondered. But finally, I have concluded that it is because he never actually wanted to be president. He simply wanted to campaign for president, Campaigning delivers large crowds (yuge crowds . . . the biggest ever on record anywhere in the universe) that cheer him on.  The crowds deliver smiles and that is what he needs, all the time. So, maybe, instead of governing, he intends to continue campaigning. And maybe there could be worse things. Whenever he actually attempts “governance”, we see one disaster unfold after another.  So maybe we should encourage him to continue campaigning. He will do less damage to the world.  The government will be on hold for a few years. Couldn’t be worse than having him actually making decisions.

So, ta ta folks. And do think about that voting thing. If you check out instead of voting, then you don’t get to complain.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Weirder & Weirder

We seem to be continuing on our path to either an actual Civil War, or a Civil War without guns.  Our now totally weird President continues on his path of wandering narcissism, where he runs down and labels anyone who criticizes him, while ignoring even the slightest hint of civilized behavior.  After promising to “drain the swamp”, he is instead populating his own dismal swamp with creatures no one even dreamed of to run Federal agencies. Mr. Zinke is busily trying to sell off all of the nation’s protected park lands to the highest bidder, and doing it as quietly as possible, so as to attract no attention. He has in fact no appointees who are remotely in synch with the missions of the agencies they are appointed to manage.

He continues to tweet in synch with the Fox Fake News programs, to the point that Fox appears to be directing our main policy positions.  He might as well appoint Hannity as his senior policy advisor, maybe even his foreign policy advisor (Hannity as Secretary of State??).
The news about the president, generated mainly through his inane tweets in the middle of the night/morning, and by the onslaught of news about his private lives that are hopelessly intertwined with his presidency, not merely dominates the news, but has become THE NEWS. It’s as though there is no other news around the globe.

And yet, I note the ongoing commentary on Facebook and in published articles in the news media, is filled with vitriolic comments about either the articles, or, more often, about the left side of the political aisle support for opposing this destructive president. The right wing has emerged from its closets and is now in full, righteous anger against those in the country (folks like me) who seem to despise our president.  For the most part, the right wing anger and resulting commentary contains no new facts to dispute any of the indictments against the president. They apparently, like Fox News, do not engage in facts.

But why, I keep asking myself? Why/how could these folks continue to support this destructive clown, who practically reveals his idiocy and his biases every time he opens his mouth. He lies with such frequency that he simply is useless in any discussion venue in which policy positions are to be discussed.  If one cannot trust meeting participants to speak from facts and to voice truth, then there is little point in the discussion.

But the fact that our president has now practically destroyed  the norms by which we govern ourselves, setting new standards of behavior that leave truth behind, seems lost on his supporters. I had serious questions during the election process and immediately after, about how anyone in the country could have voted for him, since we knew almost everything that was needed to declare him totally unfit to be president (of anything, no less our nation).  But those questions not only continue, but have enlarged to the point that I have difficulty treating any of his supporters with anything but total disdain. Still, I do not even remotely understand these folks. They are ostensibly American, with some American value system operating. I understand that many of his supporters are racists, and that they voted for Trump because they really hated that we had a Black President. Yes, they disliked, maybe even hated Hillary, but I always thought that was just an excuse to partly disguise their hatred of our Black President, and that they continue to hate anyone who supports that Black President. Their ongoing support of Trump seems to be a way of dismissing their own inadequacies as people who actually voted for our current president.  I was going to again say our “clown” president, but I now understand that use of the clown label demeans any and all actual clowns in the world. Trump is not a clown. He is a mean-spirited, bigoted, narcissist, who is also arguably one of the most ignorant humans on the planet.  He is apparently ignorant because he cannot or will not read. It may be that his ADHD is so serious that he cannot focus on reading anything more than a few paragraphs.  Or that his narcissism is so severe that he cannot read anything that fails to mention/focus on him. So, we should not call Trump a clown. He is way more serious and destructive than that playful term suggests. Trump is not funny, or even faintly amusing. I realize that our comedians all find great and ongoing material provided by him every day. But they are in the business of providing comedic relief to a world bordering on mental collapse from the daily raging of our idiotic president. I think many people are close to being terrified all the time, at the thought he could simply end the world. His close colleagues are certainly busy destroying much of that world built up over the centuries by our forefathers.  And, when people are terrified much of the time, comedic relief helps to maintain sanity.  Maybe our comedians are the court of last resort for a population ready to explode.  See, I think that, while the right wing racists of our world (Trump supporters especially) always seem angry, and always on the edge of violence (see Charlottesville), there could come a time when the terrified left wing actually does explode in a fury of righteous anger.  And then we may have an actual Civil War, with guns ablazing and all that.

In the past, I have always been gratified that our nation’s people could come together around righteous causes. I think of World Wars I & II. Even for the Korean War, we were less united, but still we remained a solid block. But I also remember the 1960s, and Vietnam. That coherent, unified stance that brought us together in the past failed to unite us. That war, built largely on lies and Cold War rhetoric, began dismantling our nation, and we came to close to a Civil War.  And the fracturing that occurred during those tumultuous years never left our land. The left and right separated along rhetorical lines and, though the yelling diminished, the differences of opinion never left. Then came Reagan and the 1980s. I always though Reagan made it ok again to be a racist, so some folks left their closets.  And the schisms continued to widen throughout the Reagan, Clinton, and Bush years. But then the nation elected its first Black President, and the fracturing broke wide open. It did not matter that President Obama was an intelligent, decent, thoughtful human being, whose every effort was intended to better our nation.  Still, the right wing persisted and expanded its efforts to discredit him, even to the ongoing lies about his heritage, and even his beliefs. They would credit him never.
And that schism remains today and is, I think, responsible for what we observe in the ongoing support for arguably the worst, most potentially destructive president in the nation’s history.  And the calls for impeachment, whether warranted or not, will continue to fall on deaf ears, even if the evidence begins to support those cries.  Whenever I think about impeachment, and its frivolous uses in the case of Bill Clinton, I believe it could introduce actual armed rebellion.  I understand that the ongoing case of Russian interference could yet produce the evidence needed to impeach Trump and even convict him.  But such an ending, however deserved would never provide the closure we need as a nation.  

Only if we go to the polls and vote him out of office will the nation have a pathway to peace. Only then could Americans begin again to walk and talk without hatred of “the other”.
We will see which path America follows.  The pathway is not clear at the moment. And many opponents of America (Vlad the Impaler come to mind) desperately wish for us to fail and to fall apart.  

I continue to hope. But hope is in increasingly scarce supply at this stage.