Friday, August 10, 2018

Random Barking Friday: Waist Deep In The Big Muddy

Leaders Not Liars

What is it going to take? What are people waiting for?

The person who is President of the United States is a liar. Repeating an observation Robert F. Kennedy allegedly made about Lyndon Johnson, "He lies. He lies all the time. He lies when he doesn't even have to lie." Arguably, Trump is the worst President in the history of the nation.

Trump says things which are completely and verifiably false, using the same method as a Limbaugh, a Jones, a Weiner, or Rupert Murdoch's media: say something confrontational, even nonsensical. Repeat it. When called on it,  double down, even triple down -- or, bully up, and walk away.  An observation about a mid-20th century right-wing politician noted:
His primary rules were: never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or wrong... never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it.

The people of Puerto Rico have been all but abandoned by the U.S. government after the devastation of hurricane Maria. This has been a series of deliberate, choiceful acts.

What are people waiting for?

Trump is corrupt, and filled his cabinet with right-wing sycophants and individuals who use their positions to advance their self-interest.  The tax structure revisions Trump and the Republicans eagerly pushed into law are the equivalent of burying a nuclear warhead under our house, on a timer: it will detonate -- but someday, in the future. After Trump has eaten his fill, gotten bored, and waddled away.

Then, there's what he and his crew have done with the Federal judiciary. With the environment; water and air quality, food safety, emissions standards. With banking, finance, corporations by eliminating regulatory oversight or refusing to act. With the belief that public leaders should represent a community's ideals, our Better Angels.

Ivanka and Melania have made public comments appearing to contradict what Daddy Donald has said or done. It's a sideshow.  Melania's "I Really Don't Care" coat defines her; she's not secretly working for fairness and civility against her crude, malevolent husband. Spend a few minutes watching Ivanka operate, and you'll know she's not going to stand against Daddy either. 

Both women are indivisible parts of the Trump Family Brand, which sees the Presidency as just another acquisition, to be milked for every last drop of revenue and influence and discarded, along with the population of the United States, when they're done. 

What's it going to take?

Watching a past episode of Joe Rogan's podcast, he and astrophysicist Sean Carroll made an observation about Trump similar to one I've shared here -- essentially, that Trump could have sex with a goat on live television, and nothing would happen. Carroll observed:
I worry about what happens next... I do worry, that this [Trump's consistent depiction of the mainstream media as 'fake news', 'enemies'] is a hard thing [for the media] to come back from. Because ... another thing that Trump said was, "Don't believe anything you're told, unless you hear it from me" ... and Tucker Carlson said the same thing..."[If you hear news from] any show other than mine, don't believe it." ... [Trump] gives people a narrative that works for them.
Trump himself constantly use the phrase, "Fake News", a buzz-word to his supporters.  It's been observed that Trump and his legal team -- Jay Sekulow and Rudy Giuliani -- are spinning a narrative about Trump's connections with Russia for public consumption, using the same phrases and memes to be repeated in the right-wing media echo chamber. Their narrative is full of lies, too.

Giuliani admits, cheerfully, that in doing so, what they say doesn't have to be true; it's to influence public opinion around the topic of Impeachment -- because (as Rudy knows, and so does Trump), Impeachment occurs in the House and Senate. Elected representatives can be, uh, 'persuaded' by their constituents to 'go easy' on a disgraced Trump.  But it's a strategy based on contempt -- for 'the base', for any American, as rubes, Marks, who deserve to be fed lies because they're stupid enough to believe them.

The Special Prosecutor's investigation into Russian influence during the 2016 Presidential election (in paralell with the case against Michael Cohen, and the multiple trials of Paul Manafort) continues to show that Trump is a liar.  Donald, Jr. is a liar. No one knows precisely where this goes.

What The Fuck? I struggle, daily, with the impact of Trump's personality, breaking political and societal expectations for the role of America's Chief Executive. An unapologetic, in-your-face racist and nationalist, he gives permission to all the 'Little Trumps' to be unapologetic nationalist racists.

None of that is accepted practice. It isn't what Presidents do. It is what authoritarian leaders do.

I've said before, This cannot continue, and This cannot end well. We see and hear our Leader lie, obviously, daily; and the fact that nothing happens as a result makes me ask: Well then, what's it going to take? What are people waiting for?

One of the Last Of The Old Unit observed, "New drinking game -- it's the only one that will get us through this. Every time Trump says -- anything -- do a shot of single malt."

Not everyone is drinking. Not everyone is waiting. Some are organizing, and the mid-term elections are a natural focus -- and the expectations for some are high, that the season will be a litmus test for American democracy. But the Left and Right wings of both Republicans and Democrats are fighting for control of their respective party.

At least for the Democrats, it's not clear who will be the Democratic candidate for President in 2020. The party's Old Guard could win, and push Joe Biden (or someone like him). The Progressives might win and promote Elizabeth Warren or Kamalah Harris; or, the Social Justice Warriors could win and offer Bernie Sanders (or someone like him).

For Republicans, none of that matters. With their command of the House and Senate, the GOP Old Guard supported Trump to advance the wet dream of american conservatism: dismantling FDR's New Deal, and they've ignored who Trump is to reach their goals.

Unless something reduces Trump's approval rating below 30% (hard to see what would have that effect, given his behavior already), the GOP will continue supporting him, and Trump likely will be nominated to run for a second term.

But if Trump's past behavior catches up with him, then suddenly he becomes the Old Guard's scapegoat; they throw him under the bus -- a risky game plan, again built on the assumption that Americans are naive and manifestly stupid.

(Or, it's not a risky plan at all, because the Old Guard on both sides of the aisle believe that the majority of America's population -- "all those Little People down there" -- are naive and manifestly stupid Rubes and Sheep; disposable and expendable.)

Some congressional Republicans have opted to bail before Bannonite Brownshirts in their districts push them out for being insufficiently Trumpist. Others have different problems. Meanwhile, the GOP continues to ignore Trump the crude, narcissistic liar with poor impulse control, exhibiting the possible onset of dementia.

So we wait for the midterms. My guess is, the Democrats won't have resolved their internal conflicts, sufficient to present a coherent face to American voters, by September / October. The Republicans may lose some Congressional seats, but it won't be a rout. And everyone will wait for 2020.

Trump is President. He's a compulsive liar, a corrupt and venal man -- and even though that's been shoved in our faces like a crude pornographic cartoon, repeatedly, it isn't enough to prompt us to demand his removal, or commit to ongoing, large-scale public unrest -- not like some of that doesn't happen. And, not like Trump wouldn't like an opportunity to, you know -- crack down a little.

But Trump is a symptom of the failure of two competing visions for a future playing out here, and in Europe: Globalism and Nationalism. So far, I haven't seen a Middle Path proposed -- one that doesn't lead to rule by billionaires, multinational corporations, the WTO and IMF and a neoliberal elite; or, multinational corporations, billionaires, and authoritarian political puppets controlled by a mafia of Oligarchs.

Trump's weird vision of an America behind border walls, but still projecting military and financial strength to influence the world through threats and fear, just isn't viable. The world is interdependent, -- and like it or not, how we vote and who we vote for affects more than just the United States. Trump is a perfect example.

But the two dominant political models in the current world aren't viable, either. Seen from that perspective, the politics of America's midterms are part of a larger struggle between competing theories. The Old Guard of each party will appeal to a Return To Normalcy or To Greatness. The radical Left and Right will demand a revolution.

What concerns me is that enough people will want an End To Crazy -- enough that they'll believe a Biden, or a Kinder, Gentler conservative,  will Make It All Like It Was. I don't believe that's possible. It may not even be desirable.

But until our political parties can enunciate platforms which reflect a broader understanding of what's at stake and provide an alternative, no one has my vote. Meanwhile, we still have Trump; things still can't continue like this without a terrible,  corrosive effect -- and it all cannot end well.

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