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How Trump has lived up to my expectations

Funny to realize, I haven’t posted to this blog for all of 2017. I have been doing more reading than writing, mostly on Twitter. Like Hillary Clinton, I have been trying to figure out “What Happened.” I have not read Clinton’s book yet. Interviews have focused on Russian interference in the election, which is important. I’m still trying to figure out why people vote for candidates like Trump, and it involves how our brains work. That is the post that I have been trying to get uploaded, and I plan to do that soon. For now, I want to look at where we are now and how my previous year’s posts successfully predicted Trump would make a terrible president.

Undercutting his Secretary of State is one example of how Trump’s mental instability makes him a national security risk. As Senator Corker has alerted us, Trump’s outbursts are putting us on a path to nuclear war with North Korea. It shows that presidents, unlike reality show hosts, have to be careful with their words, especially when it contradicts the efforts of their own staff. It is why we have a White House in such disarray. It leads many, including Secretary Tillerson, to come to the conclusion that Trump is stupid. Trump has shown himself be ignorant and arrogant. He believes he knows more that everyone else and doesn’t need to listen to them, including members of his own cabinet. He has boasted that he will alone will fix everything that is wrong in Washington and that he will know more than all of the experts once he starts reading the classified briefing papers in the Oval Office. I believe that Trump is smart. Unfortunately, the rational part of his brain is not in control of his speech and actions. It is the emotional part of Trump’s brain that directed him through the campaign and now influences his actions in office. It is that same part of the brain that Trump activates in his supporters who are willing to overlook his failings because he is telling them what they want to hear. I will have more on that in another post. For now, you can read Political Animals by Richard Shenkman.

Charlottesville is another example of Trump’s dog whistle to white supremacists. His “both sides” argument is totally absurd. Video recordings showed torch-holding marchers defending a statue of General Lee by yelling anti Semitic and homophobic chants. If I had been a “good person” who may have disagreed with the decision to remove a statute, I would have quickly realized these were not “good people” I was marching with and would have exited quite quickly. Thanks to the protesters calling for the removal of statues celebrating the Confederacy, we have learned that the statues were erected decades after the end of the civil war and were designed to promote segregation and Jim Crow. That is why white supremacists have taken a strong interest in defending those statues. Trump gives them cover by framing it as an argument over preserving history. He blamed the protestors of the statues for the resulting violence, ignoring that the statue defenders were there to provoke violence. Since then, Trump has been stronger in his condemnations of NFL athletes protesting police killings of unarmed black men than he has of Nazis and Klansmen.

Klansmen, Nazis, and other white supremacists fill that “basket of deplorables” that Hillary Clinton described in the campaign. Add to them, the religious right who are happy that Trump is delivering the Supreme Court to them as he promised. They are not afraid to jump in to jump into that basket with Steve Bannon and other white nationalists. These groups remain the bulk of Trump’s supporters, while others who voted for him have become disillusioned, making Trump the most unpopular president in history. On January 20, Trump had the chance to put the campaign behind him and be a president for all of the people. Instead, he has done nothing to reach out to those who did not vote for him, even though 3 million more people voted for Clinton. Instead, he wants us to believe that all those votes were illegitimate and can therefore dismiss the opinions of everyone but his hardcore followers. That leaves behind the other half of Trump supporters that Clinton described; the voters who are anxious about their economic futures. They put their hopes in a businessman with business experience who they believed would run the government like a business. Unfortunately, Trump is a terrible businessman and many of his business deals have failed. He is, however, a very good con man, as the enrollees of Trump University have learned. More voters are now realizing how badly they were conned as Trump demonstrates his ineptness for holding public office. Trump doesn’t understand how government works. He only knows how to campaign, and that is what he continues to do. Much of his time is spent holding political rallies, tweeting, and playing golf. That is why I refuse to call him President. I won’t until he starts to act like one.

I call him Know-Nothing Donald. I try to avoid the practice of name calling in political debates. For Donald Trump, I can justify my exception. First, Trump has no problem with name calling to describe his opponents. In the campaign, Trump constantly referred to his opponents as Crooked Hillary, Lying Ted, Little Marco, etc. Now he calls the leader of North Korea “Little Rocket Man” with potentially disastrous consequences. Again, Trump shows he has no interest in doing anything differently now than he did in the campaign and demeans the position of President. Secondly, calling Trump a Know-Nothing has historical context. During the 1850s, the United States was headed to the violent disunion of the Civil War. Racism and slavery were the most serious issues our country faced then. Meanwhile, the political debate was dominated by the demonization of immigrants as the cause of the nation’s problems. Know-Nothing politicians gained power with anti-immigrant rhetoric, much of it aimed at Irish Catholics. Today, climate change, racism in our criminal justice system, and economic inequality endanger our country’s and planet’s future. Meanwhile, Trump calls global warming a hoax. He attacks NFL players who kneel during the national anthem to call attention to the killing of unarmed black men by police. His economic policies amount to big giveaways to the rich at the expense of the poor and middle class. He would rather bash immigrants, like his Know-Nothing ancestors. That bashing started on the day he announced his candidacy. Since the election, he has been still trying to build the wall, even though he has given up on having Mexico pay for it. His Muslim bans keep getting knocked down by the courts. He has ended Obama’s popular DACA program. He even wants to drastically cut legal immigration, angering businesses who are having trouble filling positions in this tight job market. As with the days of the original Know-Nothings, his political base supports the immigrant bashing and loves the distraction.

Notice how Trump is obsessed with numbers and popularity. When Trump doesn’t like how he is being treated by a TV show or network, he responds on Twitter that the program or network has low ratings. Magazines and newspapers printing news he doesn’t like are failing or losing circulation, according to Trump. Reports coming out of the White House indicate Trump is not happy with his continued low ratings and is responding with temper tantrums directed at any one in his vicinity.

Governments depend upon the commitment of the many who serve at all levels. Much of the staff of the various branches of government, including the White House, serve through the decades as Democratic and Republican administrations come and go. That is until now. While Trump demands loyalty from his staff, he has created a toxic workplace in the White House, according to reports that have leaked out. Those who were able to leave have left. Those who remain have joined the resistance, tweeting from unauthorized Twitter accounts, sounding the alarm on the damage being done by Trump and the cronies he has put in charge of the EPA, Interior Department, and other government agencies. When the entire Arts Commission resigned, they sent Trump a detailed letter with a coded message. The first letter of each paragraph spell RESIST. Science advisor Dan Kammen followed with his resignation letter in response to Trump’s reversing Obama’s progress on climate change and failing to condemn racism in Charlottesville. The first letter of each paragraph of Kammen’s letter spell IMPEACH.

More people are waking up and getting organized politically. The Women’s March was organized within days after the election with masses of people showing up across the country on the day after the inauguration. More marches and demonstrations followed through the spring. March themes included climate change, support for science, Trump’s taxes, and impeachment. Impromptu demonstrations were held at the nation’s airports when Trump signed his first Muslim ban. Disabled activists held sit-ins in their wheelchairs in the halls of the Capitol to stop the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Newly empowered citizens began downloading the Indivisible Guide and using it to make calls to their representatives, arrange office visits, and participate in town halls.

Our free society is dependent on a strong first amendment. Trump attacks the press because a free press is the biggest threat to his authoritarian rule. That is why he admires Putin, who has no problems with silencing reporters who dare challenge his authority. As more stories come to light over Russian involvement in the election and the Trump campaign, the cloud over the White House continues to grow. In response, Trump lashes out even more on Twitter and at the White House staff. He calls the stories fake news. No one can control his rage, not even Chief of Staff Kelly. So the leaks to the press continue, and Trump doesn’t understand that everything he does only makes things worse.

Republicans are in control of the White House and Congress. They have failed to pass any major piece of legislation. They have failed to repeal Obamacare as they have promised to do for years. Much of this failure rests with Trump himself who has done very little, if anything, to advance his agenda. Trump blames the Republican leadership for the lack of action. Unlike Obama, he doesn’t read or understand the legislation being debated. He can only speak in generalities. Not having governmental or political experience is bad enough. Not having any interest in learning how to do his job is even worse.

Our country is in the midst of a constitutional crisis. Even with Republicans in control of Congress, there is still a chance for impeachment. Various scholars have cited actions taken by Trump that could be considered impeachable offenses. One is the threat by Trump to revoke the licenses of unfriendly broadcasters. Meanwhile, the Russian investigation advances, much to Trump’s dismay. There may be a chance to invoke the 25th amendment. Trump has provided plenty of evidence he is mentally unstable and unfit to hold office. Yes, with Trump gone, we would still be stuck with Mike Pence. Given that we are at great risk of getting into a nuclear war, I think I will take my chances with Pence.

Nevertheless, we persist. If we can get rid of Trump now, we can deal with replacing Pence in 2020. Of course, we need to remove Trump by only legal means. I wish Donald Trump no harm. I want him to realize that he is completely incapable of doing the job. I want Trump to just go away. Then he can play all of the golf he wants.

 

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October 18, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Know Nothing Donald

Like many people early in the election season, I underestimated the support for Donald Trump’s presidential bid. Then Trump began to rack up delegates and force more mainstream candidates out of the race. I realized his isolationist, anti-immigrant message was striking a chord with many more people that I had been willing to accept.

Trump’s campaign has been compared to the rise of fascism in Europe before World War II, bolstered by Trump’s retweets of Neo-Nazis and Benito Mussolini himself. Much of Trump’s onstage demeanor is comparable to Mussolini. The crowds at his rallies chant “Trump! Trump! Trump!” in unison, evoking the atmosphere of a Hitler rally.

Comparing Trump to Hitler can be problematic. Trump has no plans for world domination and prefers economic isolationism. Nor would he get away with building concentration camps, even if he wanted to. He’d be too busy deporting immigrants and building a wall on the Mexican border. I doubt he will even be able to get those done.

It turns out, we don’t need to look to early Twentieth Century Europe to find a comparable time in history. We can find it here in the US in the decade before the civil war. I heard historian Kathleen Frydl explain it in a radio interview. She was talking about the the Know-Nothings. Officially, they were called the American Party that rose after the dissolution of the Whigs. Know-Nothings were notable for scapegoating immigrants, then mostly Irish and Catholic. Meanwhile, the country drifted to civil war, unable to resolve the issue of slavery.

I really enjoyed Frydl’s analysis and read her article in the Huffington Post. I was familiar with the Know-Nothings. My late housemate was a history buff who had a special interest in the Whigs. He joked that William Henry Harrison was our greatest president because, by dying of pneumonia one month into his term, he was not able to do anything terrible.

Not long after reading Frydl’s article, I read the news of Trump’s appearance on CNN’s State of the Union. He was being questioned about the endorsements he was getting from David Duke and white supremacists. Trump’s response was “I don’t know anything about David Duke, okay? I don’t know anything about what you’re even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists.” I realized how correct Frydl turned out to be. Donald Trump is a Know-Nothing. I occasionally use the hashtag #KnowNothingDonald when I see more examples of Trump’s Know-Nothing-ism. Some examples:

Trump appeared to connect Ted Cruz’s father with Lee Harvey Oswald. When confronted, he again deflected by saying he didn’t know anything about Cruz’s father.

At a rally, he told the audience that they would not be able to do anything once President Hillary Clinton begins appointing justices. He adds that “second amendment people” might find a way to do something about it, quickly followed with “I don’t know.”

When Clinton came down with a case of pneumonia, which is a lot more curable now than in Harrison’s time, Trump responded on Fox News. ”I hope she gets well soon. I don’t know what’s going on,” Trump said. “The coughing fit was a week ago — I assume that was pneumonia also.”

Today, Trump bashes immigrants, especially Mexicans, and Muslims. Ask him about global warming, and he replies it is a hoax. Just as the Know-Nothings did in the Nineteenth Century, Trump bashes immigrants, while not dealing with the serious issues that we confront in the Twenty-first Century. Let’s hope the story doesn’t have the same tragic ending.

Know Nothing politicians won’t take responsibility for the actions of the people they provoke. That for me, is the most disturbing part. They send coded messages to their supporters, called the Dog Whistle. I will write more about that later. Before that, I would like to address Trump and civil rights. Stay tuned.

See Kathleen Frydl’s article in the Huffington Post:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kathleen-frydl/donald-trump-and-the-know_b_8314110.html

Also, 2016 Republicans: A “Know Nothing” party for the 21st Century by Mark DeLucia in Salon:

http://www.salon.com/2016/07/31/2016_republicans_a_know_nothing_party_for_the_21st_century/?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=socialflow

September 22, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment