Friday, June 21, 2019

Hard To Believe

My next newspaper column:
Turns out, truth matters. Turns out, having a “president” who’s exceeded ten-thousand documented lies in office, and a party and millions of voters who don’t care, isn’t ideal. Who knew?  
If ever it’s preferable to find this “president” believable, it’s as he dangles desire for war. Tells us another country threatens us, violating agreements, moving weapons around ominously, attacking tankers. 
Time was, I believed our government wouldn’t lie about war. When in college, I signed a letter to LBJ, attesting that if he says we need to be in Vietnam, we trusted him. Two years later, my graduating class staged one of the earliest war protests, on the occasion of Robert McNamara receiving an honorary degree. Several classmates turned their backs; more walked out; one refused his diploma. By then, my certitude was wavering. When drafted, though, I went. If not me, someone else, I reasoned. Unlike Trump.  
And now, this draft-dodging man of ten-thousand lies, who gathers around him people similarly disposed, whose appointees turn over like rocks in a tumbler, tells us Iran is making warlike moves. The same man who assured us, after an hour with Kim Jong Un, that North Korea’s nuclear threat was no more; who said he had no business interests in Russia; who still contends Putin didn’t mess with the election and refuses to protect future electoral integrity. 
The man who’s broken his promises to replace the ACA with something better; balance the budget; eliminate our debt; protect Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid; build a Mexico-funded wall. The man who says liberals want to end capitalism and execute newborns. The man who says China, not US consumers, pays his tariffs; whose EPA, disliking death projections from coal-fired pollution, plans to change the projections, and increase the pollution. The man who’s been calling our intelligence officers traitors.  
That man. Who continues to insist Hillary Clinton received millions of illegal votes, that his electoral win was a historic blowout, that he barely knew Paul Manafort, that Robert Mueller said there was no obstruction; who’s blocking testimony from witnesses to his obstruction; fires pollsters whose results he doesn’t like, after telling George Stephanopoulos those polls “don’t exist.” Priming us for war on claims he says are true but which our allies insist are false. 
Also, he cheats at golf.  
No longer is naiveté like mine, back then, an excuse. There remain people who insist Trump doesn’t lie, that he’s fulfilled every promise, that he rescued our economy after Obama, not Bush, crashed it. To such loyalists, truth stopped being important long ago, as they welcome authoritarianism with blinkered enthusiasm, figuring they’ll not be among those endangered by it.  
But now we’re talking war. Trump has threatened that, if it comes, Iran will cease to exist; in which case millions will die. Muslims, mostly. Perhaps that’s why so many Trumpists claim Jesus put him in office. 
Iran is breaking agreements and mining ships, Trump tells us, after he broke the nuclear pact they were, by all accounts, honoring. In doing so, he goaded them to do the same; yet we’re to believe it’s Iran that wants war. Maybe. But by what standard can we believe this “president,” downstream from his scaturient mendacity? After how many lies is trust extinguished? Fewer than thousands, surely. 
Neither owned nor flagged as American, it’s unclear why Iran would attack those ships. Perhaps they did. Shall we go to war, though, to protect Saudi oil? The Saudis, to whom Trump would sell weapons without Congressional approval, whose murders he ignores? Who he wants to build our high-tech weapons? His personal business partners, urging him to attack? And where was that drone, really? 
Approaching an election clouded by unfavorable polls and calls for impeachment, Trump faces the very situation in which he claimed Obama would start a war with Iran. Repeatedly, Trump serves his own interests above all else. Reasonable conclusions may be drawn. Based on simple observation, past and present, it’s wise to assume Trump is lying, unless proved otherwise. It is, as we’ve seen, what he does.   
Timely update: Last week, I pointed out that would-be despots create enemies for people to fear and hate. At his reelection kickoff rally, rife with animus and paranoia, Trump shouted, “Democrats want to destroy you.” Sharing space with Proud Boys and Q-Anon believers, attendees cheered him and praised the Lord, believing every word.  
Then, he lied some more. 

[Image source]

1 comment:

  1. My wife and I had a discussion last night about prewar Germany, and the gullibility of populations. We talked of all the Germans who went along with the "program". Of course it's all been discussed and dissected for decades since then, but we agreed that nothing, since then, about human nature has changed. Neither my wife nor I are philosophers, or the sharpest tools in the shed, but we believe that humans, by nature, are still capable of the WW2 (and more) atrocities. What is it about human nature that has not evolved? The gullibility, the need to be followers, the lack of conceptual thinking- what is it, why are we prone to such awful and aberrational behaviour? We've concluded that Trump, therefore, is not the root problem. So, we're back to Pogoand the enemy. Now Barry Lopez- I'd like to include a quote from a recent interview of Barry Lopez that sums all this up quite nicely-

    LOPEZ: There's no good thing that can be said about despair and pessimism. The whole thing is on the line right now, the entire meaning of the evolution of Homo sapiens. We either show that our power of invention is tremendous, or we show that the development of imagination in the hominin line was maladaptive.

    So, as believer/follower of science, with the proof that evolution has failed thousands, or millions of species over the evolution of life on the planet, despite Lopezs' view of pessimism, I am pessimistic about the future of humans. And pessimism is okay. I believe we are "maladaptive" despite our imagination and ingenuity. A virus upon ourselves and the planet. Destined to fail. However, if all success is built upon failures, failure is the path to success. And it's all okay. It's the natural course of evolution. We keep on keeping on. We do our best, and we can always do better. So we try.


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