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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

Many Happy Returns

Returns Department

December 27, 2016

Returns: Next customer in line; may I help you?

Voter: Yes, I want to return this Trump I voted for last month.

Returns: And what day did you vote for Trump?

Voter: November 8

Returns: Hmmm, that’s a ways before our 30 day refund policy.

Voter: I am sorry. It was during one of your pre-Black Friday offers, and I got so excited with all the hoopla that I couldn’t wait.

Returns: I see. Do you have a receipt?

Voter: No. All I have is this I Voted sticker.

Returns: I guess that will have to do. Now, why are you returning your Trump?

Voter: Well, he was all exciting before the election. He wasn’t politically correct like the other candidates. He spoke his mind.

Returns: So, what is your problem?

Voter: Well, after the election, I realized he isn’t just politically incorrect. Actually, he’s crazy. He wants to start a new arms race. His tweets may get us in a nuclear war. He’s saying a bunch of stuff that will destroy the environment and the economy.

Returns: So you are saying your Trump is defective? Did you try turning him off and back on again? You know, a reboot?

Voter: Yes, I have tried that a bunch times, and each time he says even nuttier stuff.

Returns: And he didn’t say nutty stuff before the election?

Voter: Well, I guess he did, but I didn’t take it seriously. I mean the stuff Trump says about global warming! I’ve got beachfront property in Miami! A Trump presidency will ruin me!

Returns: And you didn’t consider this before the election?

Voter: No, I guess it didn’t.

Returns: And you didn’t read any of the product reviews?

Voter: No, and I guess I should have been suspicious when I went to vote and the Trump voters around me were wearing white sheets and hoods. The man behind the counter was covered with swastika tattoos.

Returns: So what do you want now?

Voter: Can I get my vote back?

Returns: Sorry, all votes are final. All I can do is substitute a different candidate.

Voter: OK, I’ll take the Hillary. I was going to go for Hillary before, but people told me I needed a Bernie instead. Then, I couldn’t have a Bernie so I took the Trump. Now, I want the Hillary.

Returns: Sorry, the Hillary is no longer available.

Voter: Are you sure? She really was a good candidate. She had reasonable policies. She was actually a lot like Obama. In fact, I really like Obama. Can I have an Obama instead?

Returns: Sorry, that selection is being termed out in January. You can’t have an Obama. All I can give you now is a Pence.

Voter: Isn’t that the one who thinks gay people can be cured and agrees with Trump that global warming is a hoax?

Returns: Yes, that’s the one. Do you want the Pence?

Voter: Is that all? Isn’t there another candidate I can have?

Returns: Well, if you really don’t want the Trump or the Pence, we might be able to get you a Paul Ryan. We would have to remove him from the speakership first. That’s the best we can do right now under the Constitution.

Voter: Paul Ryan wants to repeal Obamacare and Medicare and wants to privatize Social Security. No, I don’t want the Ryan either.

Returns: So what do you want?

Voter: I guess I’ll just keep the Trump.

Returns: But you said the Trump is crazy and would ruin the environment and the economy.

Voter: Yes, but at least he’s entertaining.

Have an entertaining new year, voters, a lots of luck.

December 28, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Must be Fifty Ways/reasons I oppose electing Trump

Honestly, I have lost count of all the reasons why I don’t want to see Donald Trump elected as President of the United States. I can’t think of a worse candidate nominated by a major party in my lifetime. Last January, I was among the many who believed there was no way Trump would last through the early primaries. I expected a more mainstream Republican, such as Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, or Jeb Bush to eventually win the nomination. Surely Republicans will come to their senses, I thought. That didn’t happen. To me, that is the most troublesome part of this election; that many people actually think Donald Trump is a good idea. How bad would a Trump presidency be? Let me count the ways.

When Paul Simon performed at the Democratic convention, I think it is safe to say his contribution was among the lesser moments of that convention. He sang Bridge Over Troubled Water, which is a great song. In fact Simon and Garfunkel sang it at the Democratic convention in 1972. The trouble is that Garfunkel was the lead singer on that song, and, although Simon is not a bad singer, he certainly is not as good as Garfunkel. So, we connect that song with Garfunkel’s voice. Simon would have been better off singing one of the songs he wrote for his solo career. I started thinking of songs that would work. Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover comes to mind. With a few changes, it could become Fifty Ways to Leave Your Nominee, and he could sing it to the Republicans.

I don’t know if I can list 50 reasons to not elect Trump, but I thought I would give it a try. I would like to start with Trump’s candidacy against the “rigged system.”

Trump is warning his followers that he won’t win because the electoral process itself is rigged. It plays very well into his conspiracy theory thinking. The real forces in control will determine the outcome. They will orchestrate wide spread voter fraud that allows people to vote multiple times and stack the results against Trump. As a person who has worked as an election officer at my local polls over the years, I have one question for Trump. Has he even participated in the electoral process or paid much attention to how that process works? If he did, he would know that first time voters need to show some form of ID in federal elections. That has been happening since the passage of HAVA (Help America Vote Act) when George W. Bush was president. Every person needs to sign her or his name on the roster before receiving a ballot. The idea of someone coming in five or ten times on one day to vote is ludicrous. Even if someone wanted to register at different precincts under different names, she or he would have to get fake ID’s for each name before registering. And how much would that influence the final vote? Not enough to make it worth that much effort. In fact, if it was so easy, Trump could simply get his supporters to register multiple times to vote for him.

As President Obama has pointed out, each state runs its own elections and creates its own rules, as long as they don’t conflict with federal law. A number of states have enacted even stricter ID laws that are now being overturned by the federal courts for being too restrictive. Instead of ensuring fairness, they work to disenfranchise the minorities and the poor. If the system is rigged in anyone’s favor, it is in favor Trump’s supporters, who are upper income and more stable in their housing. They have no problem jumping through the hoops of restrictive Voter ID laws. The addresses on their driver licenses are more likely to match the addresses on the voting rosters.

So how can that system be rigged against Trump? Is he saying that election workers like me are rigging the system? OK, I admit it. I supported Hillary Clinton in the primary where I served as judge in my precinct. I didn’t say whom I was voting for to the other officers working with me, and they didn’t tell me who their candidates were either. To all of the people who came in to vote, none of us told them who our candidates were or whom to vote for. We couldn’t because it is against the law to campaign at a polling place. It looks like I didn’t have much influence anyway. While Clinton won Alameda County, Sanders beat her by over 100 votes in my precinct. Not surprisingly, our heavily Democratic precinct gave Trump only 3 votes.

Trump wants to send observers to polling locations to ensure the vote is fair. That’s fine and legal, just as long as they don’t interfere with the voting process or campaign while they are there. That means no signs, buttons, or shirts with the candidate’s name on them. They can’t interrupt election officials as they assist voters or intrude on voters’ privacy in the voting booths. Otherwise, there would be trouble. Would Trump followers cause trouble at the polls? Trump’s answer will probably be “I don’t know.” That brings me to a second reason why he should not be president. More to come.

September 20, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment