Saturday, November 26, 2016

No Christmas from Trump

     If America checks her Christmas stocking early this year, she'll discover that Donald Trump has stuck her with nothing but coal.  No chance at achieving greatness again (not that America was ever anything less than great), no shining city on a hill, nothing huge, tremendous, incredible, or fantastic... just lumps of coal.  A quick review of some of Trump's selections for key government positions are enough to conjure a deep winter chill.
     Jeff Sessions as Attorney General... probably the biggest lump of all.  Throughout his distinguished career he's labeled the NAACP as an un-American, communist-inspired organization that forced civil rights down our throats.  Meanwhile, he saw fit to refer to a black Assistant U.S. Attorney as "boy", and a white civil rights lawyer as a "disgrace to his race".  He's fought against immigration reform and favors mass deportation--maintaining that immigrants "create culture problems".  He's opposed marriage equality (and would like to see it rolled back), he'd like to gut federal funding for food stamps, repeal Obamacare, and essentially eliminate the safety net.  He'd certainly give the Grinch a run for his money when it comes to tiny hearts.
     Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education.  Who'd bring a fresher perspective to the table than another privileged white billionaire?  DeVos has no government experience and her sole focus has been on promoting school voucher programs (at taxpayers' expense) and charter schools.  Expect her to broaden the right-wing extremist war on public education.
     Ben Carson as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development?  Wow... a week before the appointment an aide quoted Carson himself as saying he wasn't qualified for such a position.  Clearly, actual qualifications mean nothing.  Given Carson's propensity for off-the-wall comments and space-shot behavior during the primary campaign, it's safe to assume we're in for an interesting ride.  I wonder if Michele Bachmann was otherwise engaged?
     Nikki Haley as Ambassador to the United Nations.  Again, why would you need qualifications (such as foreign policy experience)?  Haley will also have the opportunity to undermine environmental progress; and one look at her record would lead one to believe that's precisely what she'll do.  In 2013 she buried a report from the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources on the challenges climate change would bring to the state.  In 2015 during devastating rains and floods, Haley refused to make a connection between an increase in the number of extreme weather events and climate change.
     America should have realized right off the bat that there would be no genuine Christmas gifts from Trump when he named Steve Bannon his chief strategist.  A racist is about as far removed from Jesus Christ as war is from peace.
     Hunker down, America, and settle in for the long haul.  You'll get no merry Christmas from Trump!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Donald Trump: The Tears of a Clown

     It’s a relief to know that when he’s not preoccupied with cabinet picks guaranteed to scare the crap out of any rational/sane person, Mr. Trump is now demonstrating a new found restraint and maturity.  The facts speak for themselves, don’t they?
     Our first example of this new-and-more-mature Donald came in his response to Hillary Clinton’s ever-increasing margin of victory in the popular vote count.  The most recent tally had her up by over 1.5 million votes, and climbing.  There is obviously no Trump “mandate”; in fact, he will serve as a minority president (based on the sort of campaign he ran, I doubt that’s a word he wants applied to him in any way!).  So, how did Trump respond?  He took time out from the trivial matters of assembling a government to whine that he could have easily come away with a “huge” popular vote victory if he’d decided to campaign more often in states like California or New York.  Notice the new maturity?  The man can’t stand to lose, by any standard.  He needs to understand that Clinton will likely win the popular vote by a significant number (most estimates are 2-3 million votes) and that he’ll govern courtesy of the Electoral College.  Incidentally, when President Obama was re-elected in 2012, Trump mistakenly thought Romney had carried the popular vote, and he denounced the Electoral College--deeming it a “disaster for democracy”.  He claimed the election was a total sham & travesty, and suggested “revolution” was necessary.  Hmmmm.
     This past Friday we were treated to another glimpse of the new Trump “restraint” when he settled three lawsuits (one brought by the New York Attorney General, and two class action suits filed in California) alleging Trump had defrauded hundreds of individuals who had enrolled in real estate seminars he had launched in 2005.  The Donald has always maintained he never settles lawsuits, and he proclaimed Trump University was fantastic, hugely successful, etc.  After quickly coughing up $25 million to settle these three suits, Trump took to Twitter to denounce the plaintiffs, to proclaim he’d actually “won” by settling for so little, and making it clear that--under other circumstances--he would have never folded like a newspaper.
     Finally, the two most recent examples of Trump’s “new” temperament--revealing the thick skin required of a commander-in-chief--came to light this past weekend.  First, after Vice President-elect Pence ventured to Broadway and chose to attend a performance of “Hamilton” where he was roundly booed once he was recognized, Trump was livid.  He was apparently further incensed by the eloquent words directed at Pence by a cast member at the end of the show--as Pence was making a hasty exit.  After conducting one of the nastiest campaigns in the history of our country, and refusing to ever apologize for the countless individuals and groups he deliberately chose to persecute and insult, Trump actually demanded that the cast of “Hamilton” apologize!
     Then, in the wee hours of Sunday morning, the President-elect felt obliged to take to Twitter in order to attack “Saturday Night Live” for Alec Baldwin’s hilarious portrayal of Trump in Wonderland.  If we’re constantly subjected to his whining over inconsequential matters such as these, what’s he going to do in the rough-and-tumble world of international politics?  The tears of this clown won’t cut it at that point.  Kellyanne Conway, Trump's own campaign manager, admitted he's a ridiculous man-baby... it's going to be an awfully long four years.  God save us all.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

After Trump

     The unimaginable has happened.  Donald Trump, who ran a campaign based on bullying, bigotry, misogyny, half-truths and outright lies, will be making himself at home in our White House... the People's House.  The "basket" of deplorables that Hillary Clinton made reference to morphed into an eighteen wheeler truck.  Much was made of that label, "deplorable"... I don't doubt that many of Trump's  supporters are indeed white supremacists who are panicked at their diminished influence/control.  Many others are alt-right types willing to do whatever it takes to further a dangerous agenda.  "Some, I assume (yes, I'm quoting Trump), are good people..." likely motivated by genuine economic frustration and fear.  They're wondering what happened to their seat at the table.  What happened to their American Dream?
     It's hard to be sure what Trump's economic policies might entail, since he seemed to go to great lengths not to engage in a detailed discussion of the issues during the campaign.  If it wasn't "great", "huge", "tremendous" and didn't involve a wall, it was unlikely to be mentioned.  In any case, Trump has given no indication that he either understands or cares about income inequality.  Furthermore, he'd never do anything that wasn't in the best interest of his fellow one-percenters. 
     For Trump supporters then, this lack of any economic agenda only seems to leave racial and cultural resentments as their unifying doctrine.  Not much in the way of building a better America...
     One would have thought that given the slow-but-steady forward march of history we wouldn't be confronted by hatred, fear, and paranoia on this scale again... yet here we are.  We'll need to raise our voices to defend immigrants, Muslims, the millions of our fellow citizens who'll have their health insurance stripped away, the environment, Mitch McConnell's plan to turn the Supreme Court into a cluster of ultra-conservative tools... you name it.  We have our work cut out for us.  As much as it may be tempting to look toward a more progressive society (Canada), this is our country.
     We can take comfort in the realization that we're not alone.  In fact, we are the majority.  53% of us voted for someone other than Donald J. Trump. Even setting aside the votes cast for Gary Johnson and Jill Stein, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote (by a margin of at least1-2 million, depending on the estimates).  So, although Trump and his supporters would be appalled at having this word attached to them, they're a minority.
     Leading up to the election, Trump and his supporters whined for months about how unfair "the system" was.  They assured us the election was rigged.  Funny how all that talk vanished in the blink of an eye! 
     In the next few weeks the President-elect is scheduled to appear in court to face allegations of massive fraud (Trump "University") brought in a lawsuit.  Perhaps he won't even make it to the White House... Even if he does, we'll use the same system he derided and demeaned to take our country back.  God knows, we all deserve better... even James Comey.