Cutting Through The Crap

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Writes Itself




If ever a photo demanded an endless string of captions, here it is.

For example:

"He has my balls in his hand and he's squeezing really hard."

Or:

"He's my bitch now." "Yes. Yes, I am."

Or:

"This is what revenge looks like." "My stomach hurts." 

Or....



Monday, November 28, 2016

They Take The Bait


It's not just me who's noticed: the fake news digesters are, in general, Trumpic. Says a guy making twenty to thirty grand a month in ads on his fake news sites:
... When did you notice that fake news does best with Trump supporters? 
Well, this isn't just a Trump-supporter problem. This is a right-wing issue. Sarah Palin's famous blasting of the lamestream media is kind of record and testament to the rise of these kinds of people. The post-fact era is what I would refer to it as. This isn't something that started with Trump. This is something that's been in the works for a while. His whole campaign was this thing of discrediting mainstream media sources, which is one of those dog whistles to his supporters. 
When we were coming up with headlines it's always kind of about the red meat. Trump really got into the red meat. He knew who his base was. He knew how to feed them a constant diet of this red meat. 
We've tried to do similar things to liberals. It just has never worked, it never takes off. You'll get debunked within the first two comments and then the whole thing just kind of fizzles out...
Sure, it's fun, if that's the word, to confirm the obvious, that gullibility and credulity are disproportionately traits of today's right wing. More than that, though, it's scary. Because their leaders know it, have used it, will continue to use it, have no incentive to stop, and now they're fully in charge. The dumbing-down is sure to continue, with no end in sight.

It feels like a death spiral.

[Image source]

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Fox Files


My latest newspaper column:
A pizza joint owner in D.C. is suffering horrendous consequences after a fake story appeared online accusing his shop of harboring a child-abuse ring run by Hillary Clinton. Trumpics found it believable, evidently. 
I can’t count the emails I’ve received, ridiculous claims about Barack Obama, easily debunked and dismissed. I can’t count the number of times I’ve replied with links to facts, to which the response has been silence until the next preposterous assertion arrives. 
My suggestion to these repeat offenders: If the message comes to you with the phrase “Snopes confirms,” check before believing. Same with “If you do nothing else today, forward this...” If it supports your darkest beliefs about the other side, take a moment before buying in. Forwarding it makes you look silly, I tell them. In their minds, clearly, it doesn’t. 
Credulity. It’s becoming our democracy’s biggest vulnerability, and the one most easily exploited. After decades of propagandizing and prevarications, it’s clear vast numbers of people have consumed the canards, and they’re way beyond ducking out. Although the phenomenon seems mostly limited to rightists, I get stuff forwarded to me from the like-minded, too, if much less often: usually it’s that quote that has Trump saying if he ran for president, he’d do it as a Republican because they believe anything. Obviously false: he’s never shown that degree of insight. 
Seriously, though: it’s no longer a potential problem, it’s real. There are people (and bots), official and otherwise, spreading intentional falsehoods throughout “social” media, and thence to the mainstream. It works. Producers of fake news are claiming success influencing electoral outcomes. Fox “news” and rightwing radio have been peddling it for years. 
Immediately after the election, when Hillary Clinton’s growing popular vote win (now surpassing two million) was undeniable, Trumpophiles began spreading the word he’d also won that vote. It’s still out there. Then came the “news” that protestors were being paid. Trump just denied ever saying he’d support a registry of Muslims. (He did, a year ago. It’s on tape. Look it up.) Now he’s falsely claiming he kept open a Ford plant that wasn’t closing. How long before he takes credit for the recent economic uptick? 
Desire for confirmation of what we prefer to believe has replaced curiosity and skepticism. Heard enough times, falsehoods infiltrate the brain like amyloid, making truth irrelevant. This is dangerous, even for those who, for now, don’t care. Sooner or later, truth is important for everyone. Example: climate change. (“Where’s the evidence,” a recent letter asked! Everywhere.) 
“Post-truth” is Oxford’s Dictionary’s word of the year. “I’m hearing…” Donald Trump says. “I never said that,” he declares. By direct measure, he’s lied more than any candidate, ever. How can you be “post” truth if you were never “intra”? 
Good decisions require accurate information. If for every fact there are innumerable deliberate fabrications, what are citizens to do? There may be multiple possible solutions to problems, but facts are unitary. Our founders disagreed over inventing a government, but they didn’t argue about what was real. We’ve descended so far from that, there may be no way back. Donald Trump just hauled in media leaders to berate their coverage of him. Will they be brave enough to keep at it? 
Crucial to separating fact from fiction is the desire to do it. (Trump’s brilliance was recognizing how thoroughly Foxolimjonesification has extinguished it, and he’s still employing the insight.) Next is accepting the possibility you could be misinformed. Finally, having decided to try, is the wherewithal to make the distinction. There’s little evidence of it among those celebrating Trump’s electoral vote victory. Once upon a time presidents were held to a higher standard, and news agencies were more interested in providing education than attracting eyeballs, when citizens wished to be informed, and were willing to do the work to achieve it. Now that they’ve won, how about Trumpists begin demanding honesty? They’ll discover the lies soon enough (secret ISIS plan, the wall, climate, Social Security, prosecuting Hillary…), but why wait? 
 “Post-truth” wins elections. Clearly people need investigatory skills they no longer have. Now that they’re in charge, will Republicans, who call public education “brainwashing,” encourage schools to teach them?
 
[Image source]

Friday, November 25, 2016

Damn NASA!


At first, when I heard Trump's intention to stop funding NASA's work on climate change because it's become, you know, "politicized" and "politically correct" (meaning, I assume, "factual") I was pretty outraged. But then I read what his science adviser really said, and I felt a lot better. Because it's just that he thinks NASA should do deep space research and other agencies should do the climate stuff.

Which makes sense, because all those other agencies with satellites up there to gather the data can do the same... uh... job... because...

Shit.

If science tells you stuff you don't want to believe, kill the science.

These are scary dangerous pig-headed stupid people and they could literally be the death of us all.

[Image source]

One Of The Last True Journalists Speaks


We live in a world where CNN just welcomed a neo-Nazi of the Heil Trump variety into a discussion, because why not? The topic was whether Jews are people, which is a question that's been on my mind, of course, since I was born into a family of them.

Seriously? This is what it's come to? From a network that once pretended to be the sober one? So, clearly, without a demand from the public to do better, they'll keep aiming as low as needed to get the eyeballs.

Christiane Amanpour was just honored by the Committee to Protect Journalism. Her speech needs to be heard not only by so-called journalists, but by citizens demanding better of them. Until then, it seems, for real reporting we'll need to rely on non-US sources. Even before Trump, journalism in this country, especially as seen on TV, had devolved to the point of near uselessness, led by such people as Wolf Blitzer, Chuck Todd. Read or listen, here, to what Ms Amanpour had to say. Among the highlights:

... A great America requires a great and free and safe press.
So this above all is an appeal to protect journalism itself.
Recommit to robust fact-based reporting without fear or favor--on the issues.
Don't stand for being labelled crooked or lying or failing
Do stand up together--for divided we will all fall.
...
First, like many people watching where I was overseas, I admit I was shocked by the exceptionally high bar put before one candidate and the exceptionally low bar put before the other candidate.
It appeared much of the media got itself into knots trying to differentiate between balance, objectivity, neutrality, and crucially, truth.
...
I believe in being truthful, not neutral. And I believe we must stop banalizing the truth.
And we have to be prepared to fight especially hard for the truth in a world where the Oxford English Dictionary just announced its word of 2016: post-truth...
And, for those who might be reading my next newspaper column, I wrote it and sent it in before I read of her award and speech.

[Image source]

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

But She Said It Was Impossible


I'm not much of a conspiratorialist, but I've had this theory about why Trump, et al, kept trumpeting the idea that Hillary was rigging the election. It's the B'rer Rabbit theory: don't fling me in the briar patch. Probably there's a better analogy.

Anyhow, it is impossible that T's team knew they'd be hacking voting machines in key states? By "they" I mean, who knows, the Russians? So to pre-discourage team H from raising a stink, they kept hollering about rigging, successfully scamming Hillary and Ds, confident as they were, into assuring everyone rigging would be impossible.

And, then, voila:
A group of computer scientists believe they have evidence that suggests voting machines in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania have been hacked and have been urging the Hillary Clinton campaign to ask for a recount in the three key states, according to a New York Magazine report. 
CNN confirmed that the experts have been in touch with John Podesta, Clinton's campaign chair, and Marc Elias, the campaign's general counsel. The group includes John Bonifaz, a voting rights attorney, and J. Alex Halderman, the director of the University of Michigan Center for Computer Security and Society, according to New York Magazine...
The soup in the whole article is a little thin, and it includes commentary from people who disagree. Still. We know hacking occurred during the campaign, that Russians appear to be pretty good at it, and that Trump and his gang are pretty cozy with them. So. Is it really all that outlandish?

Meanwhile, if team H does decide to pursue it, we can say for sure her words about rigging, pre-election, will be thrown back at her from more directions than just the right.

[Image source]

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Cowed Sheep?


Nice talk you had with those media CEOs and reporters, there, Donald:
... “It was like a f–ing firing squad,” one source said of the encounter.“Trump started with [CNN chief] Jeff Zucker and said ‘I hate your network, everyone at CNN is a liar and you should be ashamed,’ ” the source said. 
“The meeting was a total disaster. The TV execs and anchors went in there thinking they would be discussing the access they would get to the Trump administration, but instead they got a Trump-style dressing down,” the source added.A second source confirmed the fireworks...
This is scary stuff. Predictable, though. The question is whether media will be cowed by him. I'm not optimistic, since they've come to care more about profit than professsion.

[Image source]

Monday, November 21, 2016

So Much For That Idea...


The one and only thing Donald J. Trump has proposed that makes sense is infrastructure spending. I've been looking forward to seeing how it plays out in the R-controlled Congress since, after the initial stimulus bill, they've blocked every attempt by Obama and Democrats to make it happen. This provides a clue:
It was supposed to be a big, beautiful infrastructure bill. But President-elect Donald Trump’s pitch for a $1 trillion upgrade of the nation’s roads, bridges, tunnels and airports is already running into potholes as it meets reality in Washington. The overwhelming sticking point, as always, is how to pay for it. 
Trump's advisers are so far floating the same kinds of financing schemes that Congress has batted around for years with little success, including proposals to lure private investors or reap a revenue windfall through an overhaul of the tax code. Key lawmakers say they’re in the dark on how Trump’s plan would work — with some conservatives simply hoping that his call for massive tax breaks will provide an economic jolt that makes the hard spending decisions easier...
Yeah, now we're talking! Tax breaks!! The homeopathy of budgets. And privatizing!!! The alchemical solution to all our problems. If wishes were fishes... something something seafood sandwiches.

Building and repairing infrastructure is, of course, a no-brainer: not only enormously necessary, but a jolt to the economy that'd be in effect for decades. But far be it from Rs to consider taxes to pay for it. Let it rot, if not.

Also, per Paul Krugman:
... Crucially, it’s not a plan to borrow $1 trillion and spend it on much-needed projects — which would be the straightforward, obvious thing to do. It is, instead, supposed to involve having private investors do the work both of raising money and building the projects — with the aid of a huge tax credit that gives them back 82 percent of the equity they put in. To compensate for the small sliver of additional equity and the interest on their borrowing, the private investors then have to somehow make profits on the assets they end up owning...

This biology major can't be sure, but it seems that, as opposed to tax cuts paying for themselves, providing that many jobs and purchases that much in goods would create positive feedback across all industries; not just for direct purchases, but for so many new workers with money to spend. Might even provide so much tax revenue that taxes could, at some point, be lowered!

So I'm sure it'll happen, because Republicans love America so, and are the party of the common man and woman.

[Image source]

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Comes Now The Hypocrisy


My latest newspaper column:
Two words: Mitch McConnell.  
Amazing, isn’t it, how politics engenders hypocrisy (or is it the other way around?) Consider the calls for armed revolution by Trumpites had he lost. Forecasting “rigging,” Trump predicted and all but encouraged riots. Does anyone doubt it would have happened? (Was it rigged? Dare we ask?) Recall the last eight years, when effigies were hung and the internet was stinking with racist characterizations of our president, not to mention calls for assassination; or the Trumpists demanding imprisoning or shooting Hillary Clinton, some of whom did so, to uproarious cheers, from the stage of the Republican National Convention. (One of them, recently unhinged Lt. General Flynn, will be Trump’s national security adviser.) But, boy, is there outrage over random calls for the same against Trump! 
If it needs to be said, I’m no less dismayed at the current invocations of violence toward Trump than I’ve been about those against President Obama. I hate seeing peaceful protest devolve into destruction and looting. But I also hate, and fear even more, hearing the execrable Sheriff Clarke, a rumored candidate for DHS under Donald Trump, saying demonstrations should be quashed because there’s “no excuse” for protesting “the will of the people.” This he said when the protests were peaceful, and when the will of the people was heading toward (now surpassing) a million more votes for Hillary Clinton than Donald Trump. 
“Get over it, you lost,” say people who never got over Barack Hussein Obama. Because we’re Americans and the people have spoken, they demand without irony, we must come together for Trump in ways they never did for Obama. Yes, “Not my president” signs are annoying, just as they’ve been during the past eight years. And Californians’ calls for secession are as ridiculous as Texans’ a few years earlier. (I’d miss California, though, especially if movie prices went higher.) 
Many have felt legitimate outrage as protest demonstrations turned violent. I abhor riots, too, whether by lefties or in cities whose team won for their fans some sort of self-worth-affirming game played with air-filled or solid objects of various shapes. But I’d like to hear demands from those same furious folk for an end to the ever-growing number of incidents of sickening hate against people of color, gays, women, Muslims, Jews, and others who wear headgear without bills. Until I do, it won’t be easy to “get over it.” (Yes, a Trump supporter was beaten. Equally inexcusable, and happily rare.) 
I concede that Donald Trump will be my president. If I’m right, that portends disappointment not just for me, but for supporters who convinced themselves his mendacious and tyrannical inclinations weren’t a deal-breaker. He’s been back and forth already on his “Day One” promises. He’s “draining the swamp” by putting its dankest, including lobbyists and bankers, on his transition team and considering them for his cabinet. They’ve already warned us to think twice before criticizing him. (Have I mentioned gulags lately?) Denying the win won’t help. Vigilance might, assuming ordinary citizens will remain unafraid to speak out.  
It’s unprecedented and understandably frustrating that the electoral vote winner has lost the popular vote by such a huge margin. But it’s the law. Ironically, the Electoral College was designed to prevent the election of an authoritarian but superficial, conspiracy-promoting demagogue like Donald Trump. Citizens would, the framers agreed, elect a handful of people specifically tasked with choosing a president. Those sober men, removed from “tumult and disorder,” “heats and ferments” would name “a man ... in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications.” They had no idea. Back then Sean Hannity went town to town on horseback. 
But here we are. Donald Trump is our president-elect. Contra mounting evidence, I hope he’ll be a far better one than the man he’s been throughout his life, and than the people he’s gathering close. If so, I’ll revise my opinion. Till then, here’s a proposition for Trumpophiles: I stop riots, you stop abuse of racial, ethnic, sexual, and religious minorities. And we agree to stand together if we see dictatorship arising. Because if Donald Trump really is the narcissistic, vengeful, autocrat he seems, preserving democracy will require bipartisan resistance.
[Image from somewhere on Facebook]

Friday, November 18, 2016

Deplorables



Looking at Trump's appointees so far, and the ones rumored to be under consideration, it looks like he's draining the swamp by pouring it into the basket.

[Image source]

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Disconnect



Well, grain my pyramids: Ben Carson says he doesn't want a position in Donald Trump's government because he has no government experience and has never run a federal agency.

And yet he considered himself presidential timber. And shilled for a person who fits the same description. JFC!!!

Is there anyone around Donald Trump who has at least a toe in reality, who can think him- or herself out of a paper bag? Even a wet one?

Somebody wake me when this is over (but give me the choice to refuse.)

[Image source]


Saturday, November 12, 2016

I Hope I've Been Wrong About Everything


My latest newspaper column:
Wow. Was I ever wrong about who America is and what it wants! Now I can only hope I’ve been equally wrong about who Donald Trump is and what he wants, that the latest president to lose the popular vote will leave our country in better shape than the last one who did. As an American, and unlike Congressional Republicans for the past eight years, I can’t hope for failure of our new president. I hope that whatever he means by “great” turns out to be great. I hope the voices of my correspondents and their similars, who call me a traitor and promise “you’ll get yours” aren’t the only ones he’ll listen to. I hope he’ll keep his promise to be president for all Americans. I hope the spike in bullying of not-white children, the defacing of mosques, synagogues, and black churches is temporary and this isn't the new normal. Same with violent protests. 
I hope I’m wrong that minorities must live in fear. 
I hope I’ve been wrong about everything. I hope climate change is a hoax and Vladimir Putin will be America’s best friend ever. I hope trickle-down economics will finally work; that cutting taxes on the wealthy and increasing military spending will, for once, make our economy soar, create fabulous jobs in numbers never before seen, and bring about budgetary balance. 
And I hope Republicans are right that the social safety net they like to call “free stuff” has been making things worse, that when food stamps, early childhood education, job training, day care for working moms are no more, the inner cities will revitalize themselves and poverty will become a thing of the past. I hope abstinence-only sex education and defunding Planned Parenthood won’t increase STDs and teen pregnancies. I hope it’s unnecessary to have a president who can separate fact from fiction. 
I’m hoping Donald Trump’s secret plan to defeat ISIS will get it done in days, as promised, and peace will reign in the Middle East. I hope he’s right that he alone can fix crime and it’s true it’ll start disappearing January Twentieth. I hope I’m wrong that his plans for Muslims will create more terrorists. I hope the deportation of two million of “the worst” criminals, also scheduled for day one, works well and without ensnaring many innocents. I hope the wall ends illegal immigration and when Mexico reimburses us for it, the money will be put to good use. 
I hope a skeptical and unencumbered press isn’t as important to our democracy as I’ve argued, and that the same is true for those willing to speak out against government abuses. I hope a president threatening reprisals on critical reporters and political enemies is no big deal, because Omarosa just reminded us he’ll be keeping a list. I hope that turning the Department of Justice and FBI into instruments of presidential power will serve us well, too. 
I hope our Constitution holds. 
I hope the Republican replacement for Obamacare will provide for twenty million suddenly uninsured fellow Americans, and that guaranteeing access and controlling costs really is as simple as health savings accounts and cross-border insurance purchases. 
Because I live here, too, I wish our president-elect success. I hope the environment doesn’t need protecting after all, or, if it does, that unregulated former polluters will be responsible voluntarily. I hope there’ll still be water free of fracking fluids, lead, and other poisons, or that we’ll learn they’re not really harmful. Same with burning coal and acidified oceans. 
I hope that, seeing a godly man in the White House and a return to prayer and Bible study in public schools, God will lift His countenance upon us, begin cooling the planet, restoring the polar ice caps, and stop with the punitive hurricanes and floods. I hope I’ve overstated the value of education, that when the US quits teaching science and reasoning it won’t put us at a disadvantage in the world. I hope I’ve been wrong in believing immigrants have been and remain indispensible to our future. 
For all these things, I hope in the name of my still-innocent grandchildren. 
Also, if it’s not too much trouble, I hope when they get around to me, I’ll be sent to the same gulag as Jon Stewart, Dave Letterman, and Stephen Colbert.
[Image source]

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Where There's A Will?


So much talk about "the will of the people." Just as when Dick Cheney referred to his loss of the popular vote as a "mandate." This guy, potentially Trump's director of DHS, says, about yesterday's peaceful demonstrations, "There is no legitimate reason to protest the will of the people."

Yes, it's how it works in this country, for worse and now for worser: it's about the electoral votes and not the popular vote. So, sure, the victory is "legitimate." But, first of all, if protesting "the will of the people" is illegitimate, what of freedom marches, anti-war protests? If that sort of protest isn't at the heart of our freedom, what is?

More importantly, the electoral college was designed, far as I can tell, to blunt the "will of the people." If it were truly about "will," the results would be reversed. So let's hear Trumpists, in their victory dances, acknowledge that more people voted against them than for. Not because it means they really lost: the election went the way our founders designed it to go. But because it might cause them to reflect on the full breadth of where their responsibilities lie. So far, that humility is nowhere to be seen, nor was in any way, by any means, expected.

Sheriff Clarke, I fear, is exactly the face of what's to come.

[Image source]

I'm Trying, I'm Trying

Monday, November 7, 2016

Exemplar


Never has the state of our politics been so perfectly captured in two brief and separate moments. All you need to know about how far we've diverged from an intelligent electorate, from valuing truth, from being well-informed -- from wanting to be well-informed -- can be understood from words spoken in the last couple of days.

In the first instance, President Obama responded to a protester who interrupted his speech and who was being shouted down by the audience. Telling the audience to calm down (it took way too long for them to listen!), he pointed out that the man appeared to be a veteran and a senior citizen and deserved respect. He reminded the audience that we're a nation that values free speech. He suggested, as he has before, that rather than "boo," they should vote.

The day after that event, Donald J. Trump claimed that Obama had shouted at and insulted the man, implied he'd become unhinged. Oh, how the audience booed the evil Kenyan Muslim usurper. Booed as the man who's actually called for violence against protestors, who promised to pay the legal fees of any supporter who beat them up, lied about our president doing no such thing.

And there you have it. Everything, in a few moments. You see the fundamental decency of Barack Obama. You see how the view of him created by right-wing media over the past years differs from reality. You have Donald Trump flat-out lying. You have his audience lapping it up like poisoned water in a drought. You see Donald Trump, as he's done repeatedly, falsely accusing someone of doing something they didn't do, something he says he'd never do, when he's done it repeatedly. You see how none of his supporters care. Or care to know the truth.

You see the contrast mentioned on a few liberal sites, and you see it met with silence from the right.

In these two moments you see the power of disinformation, the degree to which the Republican party has been overtaken by propagandists, by people to whom truth is irrelevant; and you see how completely their cynicism has infected their followers. You realize that voters for Donald Trump only see what they want to see, that they need to, prefer to, believe the worst about everyone not like them. You see that our country, designed with the assumption of a modicum of education and reasoning ability in mind has, for around half the population, and as a result of deliberate dumbing-down, become refractory to reality.

It's brilliant in its Machiavellian perfection: the Republican party, having decided long ago that its success depended on creating and then misinforming a gullible population rather than arguing for the superiority of its ideas (because its ideas aren't superior for anyone except the very wealthy), embarked on a very long game. It put together a devastatingly effective propaganda apparatus aimed at erasing the ability and desire to think deeply about complex matters. To reject those who do. To believe that "otherness" is a greater threat than protecting and understanding the American form of governance. And it's worked to perfection. The people who designed it for their own purposes don't care as they continue the deliberate trashing of the kind of political comity that created and sustained the US for centuries.

[Image source]

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Clarity From My Critics


My latest newspaper column:
By now we’ve all made the choice between a woman who’s been Secretary of State, a US Senator, who’s spent her public life in service to people in need, children, education, health care, to women around the world, who unwisely had a private email server and handled it poorly to the detriment of no one, who admits her errors and doesn’t repeat them; versus a man facing a November court date for fraud and a December one for child rape, having around seventy other lawsuits pending, who has a forty-year history of deleting documents in defiance of court orders, who bullies and cheats people he hires, runs scam businesses, has questionable ties to Russia, has gone bankrupt multiple times, lied about charitable contributions and whose “charity” was ordered shut down, who lies with impunity, continues lying after his lies are pointed out (the Foxified trust him and this may explain why), misappropriates donors’ money, attracts our worst hate groups, suborns violence against reporters, brags about serial adultery and sex offenses, whose foreign policy consists of “bomb the s#*t out of them,” turning NATO into a protection racket and other galimatias, throughout whose career there’s no evidence of service to or caring for others, who’s failed to get the endorsement of virtually all conservative newspapers, several of whom supported every Republican candidate for over a century. Tough call. 
I’m grateful to (let’s call him “Arnold”), with whom I formerly corresponded, for clearing up why anyone, no matter how “conservative,” (especially if they’re conservative!) could vote for Donald Trump. Arnold proclaims “all Democrats are traitors,” and, as he’s said so often I’m convinced he has a chip embedded in his brain (it’s called Foxification), both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are socialists. Asked for examples, many times, he changed the subject. Which is not to say, as letters to this paper confirm, that he’s alone in delusion. Are Arnold and those letter-writers simply misinformed about what socialism is, or, as they’ve seen modeled on air, do they just enjoy lying? Because, geez. 
Either way, there he’ll be after the election: believing liberals are traitors. In league with neo-Nazis, Klansmen, and white nationalists, Arnold dreams of revenge for the stolen dream of a male dominated, all-white, Christian society of native-born (but not Native) people, where only patriots like themselves deserve government assistance. Were Trump to win, their malign grievance would flower like a corpse plant; with a loss, their bitterness will despoil the country for years. Is my sample size too small? Am I unfair to decent people who find a way to ignore who Trump is? Probably. But note what their leaders are already saying about a Clinton win. 
And there’s the crucial difference: if Hillary Clinton wins, people like me will mostly feel relief, tempered by foreboding at the fallout from Trumpists; but there’d be a desire to help with healing and to attend to our country’s needs. People like Arnold, on the other hand, would meet a Trump win with gleeful anticipation of vengeance. (I get those letters, too.) They’d continue the path Trump set upon throughout his life: selfish and amoral concern only for enriching himself at the expense of others. It explains everything. 
There’s no way forward with those who consider people like me traitors. How comforting it must be to demonize all with whom one disagrees, to “joke” about murdering them (yeah, you, US Senator Burr, though you’re hardly the first.) I’ve expressed, repeatedly, my wish that today’s Republicans would return to the table, because we need them in the game. Those like Arnold aren’t worth wasting the effort, but should real conservatives fail to come back home, leaving people like him in charge of their party, the damage will last for decades, before they’re eventually swamped by the rising tide of American-style multiculturalism. 
Which gives me some solace. I see the generational fading away of the Arnolds and those who send me gloating “just you wait” emails, even as, for now, Donald Trump animates their voices. I see people of all backgrounds, still believing in The American Dream, grateful to help others find it, too. They’re already here, “Ban-edict” Arnold, and, sooner rather than later, our future is with them.
[Image source]

Friday, November 4, 2016

Trump And Putin. The Manchurian Candidate?


I wrote this a while back, intended as one of my newspaper columns. Other needs to rant have pushed it back, and if Hillary wins, I'll probably not publish it. Plus, with the release of this latest report in Newsweek (read it!) it needs serious updating. But here it is, anyway: 
So what’s the deal with Trump and Putin? At this point it’s certainly fair to ask; and, not to be too conspiratorial, to wonder whether Donald Trump is an unwitting tool or a greedy deceiver out to enrich himself no matter the cost to America. To Trumpists it probably makes no difference. But, really: dealing with a geopolitical enemy for one’s own enrichment, monetary or otherwise! You’d think that’d be too much for all but his most blinded (by the usual list of deplorable stuff) supporters. 
At debate number two, wherein Trump announced his dictatorial intentions vis a vis imprisoning political opponents (he’s already promised to fill Guantanamo with “the worst” and submit them to torture, even though it doesn’t work, just because “they deserve it”), he said he has no idea if Russia is hacking emails and trying to influence the election. This he claimed after receiving a security briefing in which the specific involvement of Russia, and possibly Putin himself, was spelled out in detail. Dismissing facts is, of course, modus operandi primo for Trumpists and their progenitors. Still, I’d tend to take seriously information I received in a national security briefing by the CI-fricking-A. At the very least, I wouldn’t lie about it. 
The day after that debate, Trump addressed a crowd. Reiterating, to delirious approbation, his intention to lock Hillary up after he’s elected (when he’d first said it, some in his campaign suggested he wasn’t serious), he referred to a leaked email, a copy of which he waved around like Joe McCarthy with his “list” of commies back in the Fifties. The story of that email is a little complex, but sincerely worth a read. Suffice it to say it was released from Russia with certain details changed to make it appear to be something it wasn’t. 
Of greater interest is that Trump allegedly had access to it before it was leaked. Think about that. Russia. Giving to Donald Trump advanced copies of an email deceptively edited to influence favor toward Donald Trump. And Trump repeating it. How and why did he get it? Is he being used, or is he the user? Clearly, an international antagonist is meddling with our election and Trump is abetting it. That’s not in question. The only question is why? 
As usual, in the debates Donald piled lie upon lie, covering the entire spectrum of his campaign arguments: his tax plan, economic growth, crime statistics, Hillary Clinton laughing at a rape victim, Obamacare, birtherism, his support for the Iraq war, and so much more. Among them was the claim that he doesn’t know Vladimir Putin and has no dealings of any kind with Russia. But we know he’s bragged on many occasions to have met directly with Putin and that he has a great relationship with him. So which is the lie? Investigations by the Washington Post, Newsweek, and others have discovered financial connections to and receiving of money from Russia in many instances. So why the lies? What is he hiding? And why don’t his supporters care? 
Sure, Trump lies about everything. I’ve assumed it’s due to some combination of bravado, narcissism, sociopathy, and pathological lying. But what if it’s more sinister? What if he lies ceaselessly about such obvious and debunkable things so people will stop paying attention? Why? Well, how about this: in order to bury under a mountain of lies his true intentions; namely, getting into office on the promise of helping Russia in return for cold cash, and lots of it. It’s obvious Russia is attempting to get him there. Are we seeing an actual flipside of insane right-wing conspiracy theories, this one involving one of their own? (Maybe those claims of UN/Kenyan tanks were a deliberate diversion, too. Alex Jones is in on it!) 
Or has Vladimir Putin, in his dealings with Donald, recognized the man’s extreme narcissism and determined he’s the perfect stooge, needing only ego massage and greasing of his palm to be manipulated. Trump has already questioned the value of NATO, and now he’s saying the US has been too tough on Putin! (tinyurl.com/putrump) I’m starting to think the Donald is the Manchurian Candidate who didn’t even require brainwashing. 
[Image source]