Trump

Ten Simple Questions

Dancer Deformed. Mendoza, Argentina, 2017
Dancer Deformed. Mendoza, Argentina, 2017

 

Try these on for size and see how “deformed” your general knowledge of current political events might be…

  1. ***Obama personally ordered the wiretapping of Trump’s communications in Trump Tower during the 2016 campaign.   True or False?
  2. The Trump campaign’s connections to Russia is an issue invented by the Democrats to distract.    True or False?
  3. The FBI specifically told Congress that Russia did not interfere in the electoral process.    True or False?
  4. Attendance at Trump’s inauguration in Washington D.C. was much larger than Obama’s in 2009.    True or False?
  5. Some 3 to 5 million non-citizens voted (and voted for Hillary) in the 2016 Presidential election.    True or False?
  6. Trump’s electoral college win in the 2016 election was the biggest margin since Reagan.    True or False?
  7. Germany owes vast sums of money to NATO.  True or False?
  8. Trump was responsible for bringing down the price of the F-35 jet fighter.   True or False?
  9. Terrorists from the countries targeted in President Trump’s two travel ban versions (Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen) have been responsible for nearly all the terrorism-related deaths in the USA since 9-11.    True or False?
  10. Trumps current approval ratings are at an all-time high compared to the last four Presidents at this point in the term.    True or False?

Now, for the answers…

If you answered all of them “False”, congratulations, you are a well-informed citizen who likely uses credible news sources.

If you answered any of these as “True”, you might reconsider where you get your news. Avoid the temptation to listen only to news outlets, certain radio hosts, conspiracy theories, etc. that confirm what you would like to be true. (This last statement is directed at both lefties and right-winger types.)

[***NOTE: I may get some push back on this one. Apparently, there is an on-going investigation into ties between the Russians and the Trump campaign in which some Trump campaign officials may have had their conversations recorded. We will have to see how this investigation develops. However, I am taking Trump at his word, which is false. To wit: “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my “wires tapped” in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism! 4:35a.m. – 4 Mar 2017.” I read into words their traditional meaning IAW the Oxford English Dictionary. If Trump meant something else, well then he needs to be more precise in his use of the English language.]

Whenever you have the slightest doubt, use the fact-checking websites: Politifact, FactCheck.org, Snopes.com, Open Secrets, and the Washington Post Fact Checker.

Avoid out-of-the-mainstream news sources on either the left or the right–or at least take what they say with a huge block o’ salt and temper your findings with what you see elsewhere. Despite the talk these days of “fake news”, places like the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, ABC, CBS, NBC, Reuters, The Economist, USA Today, yes, even CNN and NPR, will have higher standards for what they are willing to publish than lesser outlets.

For various long lists ranging from left-biased to right-biased media outlets, check out the very good Media Bias/Fact Check site. For an explanation of their methodology for determining media bias, go HERE. It all makes for an interesting read.

The truth might be hard to swallow, pilgrim, but it’s pretty damned important we start agreeing on basic facts in this country.

American Ire

IRE. Near Mendoza, Argentina, 2017
IRE. Near Mendoza, Argentina, 2017

 

Ire: anger, rage, fury, wrath, hot temper, outrage, spleen, crossness.

 

This pretty much describes the current state of much of the electorate these days.

And rightly so, as we are now witnessing an unprecedented assault on American democracy from within.

Hopefully, our institutions–and the people at large–are up to the challenge.

I am very cautiously optimistic.

Trump-eting a Few Predictions

Trump as Genius. Boulder, Colorado, 2017
Trump as a Genuine U.S. Genius. Boulder, Colorado, 2017

 

Well, in regard to the 2016 Presidential Election, I certainly missed my predictions by light years.

How about if I try again?

Here is what I predict:

–Trump will not complete his four-year term without a major personal scandal, a major war, and/or another major recession. (The first possibility I rate as highly likely, the other two as somewhat less likely).

–Indeed, there is a better than 50% chance that he will not complete his four-year term at all due to impeachment and removal from office. (Begged Question: Would Pence be worse???)

–At least one of his Cabinet picks, or a high-level White House official/advisor, will be involved in a major scandal (due to incomplete vetting) and will resign in disgrace.

–Tapes from The Apprentice will be leaked and released and will be found to be quite disgusting.

–Someone will leak more of Trump’s tax returns showing him to be deeply in debt and not nearly as rich as he has claimed. The tax returns will also reveal conflicts of interest on a level never seen before.

–Economic inequality in the USA will reach even higher levels than ever before.

–There will actually be a few good things that happen–with the economy, foreign relations, etc.–that Trump will take full credit for (naturally!). However, they will have occurred not as a result of Trump’s genius but rather as lucky unintended consequences of his policies.

–Democrats will make only very slight gains in Congress at mid-terms, but will make huge gains in 2020, regaining the Presidency and both Houses of Congress (it’ll then be their turn to screw things up!). The Republican Party will leave power in disarray.

For a detailed list of what I think the future trend might be over the next 2-4 years, see my November 9, 2016 blog: Post-Election Day Hangover (2016).

Check back on November 4, 2020 to see how I fared with these guesses.

Post-Election Day Hangover (2016)

“Every nation gets the government it deserves.”

Joseph de Maistre, 1753-1821

[Another way of saying it: The government is a direct reflection of the people of a nation. Therefore, America, when you look at Donald Trump you are looking in the mirror. Shameful.]

 

Well, it’s done.

If you take a look at my two previous posts about the election…the first, with my various pre-debate predictions, HERE…and yesterday’s hopeful pining HERE…you’ll understand that I am absolutely speechless right now–basically because my mouth is full of a large, meaty, crow. I was wrong on all counts in that first post and mistakenly optimistic in the second.

This is a major electric chair shock.

Yes, this vote was clearly a huge, angry “Fuck You!” to the Washington, D.C. political elite (much like the Brexit vote was a big “Fuck You!” to the UK political leadership). I certainly understand and feel that same frustration.

But this was NOT the solution.

A much, much better option would have been to vote out the obstructionist Republicans in the House and the Senate, and vote in Democratic majorities along with a Democratic President. Then, we might actually join the rest of the civilized world with some real, decent, progressive policies that would no-kiddin’ help the middle and working classes. (Consider the support Bernie had for his progressive agenda!)

Unfortunately, the American people have chosen a path that will very likely make things worse–exacerbate inequality, and foment further division. So much for my faith in the judgement and the critical thinking skills of my fellow citizens:

     “Hey, instead of thinking this through, I think I’ll just get all pissed off and throw a live grenade at the system!”

     “If not Bernie, then I’ll vote Trump!”  (That’s like saying…well, if not communism maybe I’ll try fascism instead! It is a political flip-flop that makes absolutely no sense.)

It will be very interesting to see if our country has the resiliency to recover from this. We may be set back at least a generation, especially considering the issue of upcoming Supreme Court vacancies and the likelihood of a very conservative court for the next couple of decades. 

I have certainly disagreed with the policies of some of our past Presidents (and even the current President at times), but never have I actually worried about the very survival of our democratic system. Trump is a such an outlier, though, that I have no idea where we might be going. He probably doesn’t either and will need major assistance from (hopefully) smart advisers to avoid major buffoonery, scandal, and/or tragedy. Luckily, governing in the real world is quite different from campaigning, which might help limit the overall damage.

So, in summary and based directly on Trump’s campaign legacy and rhetoric, this is what we have voted for:

–a “caudillo” (strong man) who will sweep in and solve all of our problems with his charisma (shades of Hitler, Franco, Samoza, Chavez, et al)

–an emboldened white supremacy movement

–increased economic inequality–rich will likely continue to get richer

–rolling back of bank regulations

–“law and order”, but likely at the expense of individual freedom of expression

–increasing pressure within the press to self-censure, if not outright direct censorship via economic and legislative means

–increasing barriers to vote

–torture of our enemies and the targeting of their families as a legitimate wartime tool (Geneva Convention violations? Not a problem.)

–international relations via bullying, tweeting, and coercion, rather than by diplomacy, coalitions and consensus

–rolling back of NATO and other treaty commitments

–rolling back the restrictions on the weapons, magazines, and ammunition you can buy–even if you are a terrorist or criminal

–misogyny and sexism as mainstream attitudes, along with a healthy dose of xenophobia

–rolling back of reproductive rights (eventual Roe v. Wade repeal)

–rolling back of LGBT rights

–rolling back of religious freedoms (except the freedom to discriminate against others based on your religious views)

–persecution of certain religious groups–especially Muslims

–persecution and discrimination against immigrants and minorities in general

–possible increased deportation of all illegal immigrants–including children who have never known any other country

–rolling back of environmental protections

–near zero interest in the climate change issue 

–elimination of serious health care options for the masses

–strengthening of the anti-science movement (creationists, climate change deniers, etc.)

–acceptance of ignorance (of world affairs, cultural sensitivities, etc.) and general illiteracy (reading is not necessary) as positive norms

–increased legitimization of unfounded conspiracy theories and “fake news”

–little chance of reforming the electoral system (Citizens United decision remains, Electoral College remains)

 

Yes, most of those folks who voted for Trump wanted change, to “drain the swamp”. Unfortunately, all of the above was included in the package.

Apparently, this is what America wants, and that just blows me into a galaxy far, far away.

OK, Republicans, the ball is now in your court. We are not in recession, unemployment is low, the economy is growing (albeit slowly), and we do not currently have hundreds of thousands of troops deployed in a major war (currently, we are only involved in three smaller ones). Lets see what you can do with it. No excuses now–you have the reins of power. Ante up.

I have my fingers crossed (and my passport current).

“When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.”  –Sometimes attributed to Sinclair Lewis, but probably a summary of the thoughts of various thinkers and writers.

Election Day, 2016

At Mile Marker 263. Colorado, 2016
At Mile Marker 263. Colorado, 2016

 

Finally! We thought the day would never come…

The fact that this election appears to be so statistically close between the candidates really blows my mind. How can that be? Don’t people fact check anything?

I understand that there is frustration out there. I understand the desire to find a new solution…a new path. We certainly DO need to remove the gridlock in Washington and move forward…reduce the unparalleled economic inequality that is crushing the middle and working classes…

But please, use your analytical powers (use your head for something besides a hat rack!)…go to the fact check sites…look at a variety of news sources–reputable ones, not the ideological ones that dish out what you want to hear…don’t simply vote based on your emotions and prejudices…Google “confirmation bias” and avoid it…

If you do that honestly and objectively, you absolutely can’t avoid the conclusion that Donald Trump is absolutely NOT the solution. No, not by a long shot.

Here’s hoping the country does the right thing.

POSTSCRIPT: It didn’t. See November 9, 2016 post

Shining the Light on Trump

First Light on Tenmile Peak. Near Frisco, Colorado, 2016
First Light on Tenmile Peak. Near Frisco, Colorado, 2016

 

 

I just read the results of a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll…Trump continues to dominate among the Republican candidates.

Yes, this does say a lot about the frustration of many voters. And maybe it says even more about their fears…specifically, the fear of a new America that is not majority white, Anglo-Saxon, and Protestant.

To me, the mere fact that he has gained any traction at all anywhere in this country is a very scary commentary on the basic educational level and thoughtfulness of American voters…their capacity to discern, to analyze, to use logic, to judge arguments on merit, to understand history, to recognize purely emotional appeals, to distinguish truth from outright lies…

They often say that a nation gets the government they deserve. (Often said when referring to some Latin American or African country, or Iran, Iraq, etc.) If, in the USA, that government turns out to be Trump as President and his supporters in control of both chambers, I really do fear for this country.

We all look at the surprising rise of the National Socialist German Workers (Nazi) Party in Germany in the 1920s and 1930s (to make Germany great again!) and we ask ourselves…”How could such an educated, cultured people go down such a horrible path?”

Maybe we should look in the mirror, mirror, on the wall?

No, Trump, is not a Nazi. But the seeds of fascism are definitely there. He encourages the fascist element. He foments hate and division. He has identified scapegoats. He drapes himself in the flag, but it is a nationalism of but one color: white. Then you have his incredible hubris….His willingness to distort facts for emotional propaganda effect.

What makes us think we are better able than the Germans of the 1930s to resist the seemingly easy answers vomited up fascist rhetoric?

Note that Trump gets plenty of support, sympathy and/or outright endorsements from the far, far right: The Daily Stormer, National Policy Institute, League of the South, American Renaissance magazine, the American Freedom Party, and David Duke, to name the most publicized. That ought to be a warning shot across our political bow.

Yes, what happened to the Germans could easily happen elsewhere–even here. We only went part way with the internment of the Japanese during WWII…Would Trump take us all the way with Muslims and illegal immigrants?

I am hoping that all this Trump-eting publicity of late will whither away once we get past the primary season and the nominating conventions are finally (phew!) over. If, miracle of miracles, the man does make it as the Republican nominee, and there isn’t a huge landslide vote against him in the general election…well, I will be seriously wondering about our future.

“There once was a man who was so poor, so poor, so poor, that the only thing he had…was money.”  

Something I heard somewhere once. Seemed apropos.