Thursday, January 26, 2017

When Do We Cry Uncle?

Until when are we allowing this dangerous charade?
Asking for a friend.
We're six days into the Trump presidency and it is clear to anyone with a shred of common sense that we have a delusional maniac sitting in the White House, abetted by a bunch of irresponsible Republican flunkies and paranoid, resentful extremists like Steve Bannon. Trump rules by division, not unification, which means he is single-handedly waging war against the United States, its democracy, and its constitution. He has antagonized the C.I.A., the intelligence community, Mexico, the media, sanctuary cities, the EPA, The National Parks Service, all of science, immigrants, and even the very democratic process that got him elected.
He won yet he is still picking fights about crowds and popularity.  He is obsessed with the fact that he lost the popular vote by a considerable margin. Every single executive he signs seems to be the result of a personal vendetta. He signed the abortion gag rule the day after millions of American women marched to assert their rights.
Anybody who watched his TV interview, or any of his public appearances for that matter, can plainly see he is mentally incompetent. This condition will be exacerbated by the power he is already allowed to wield and by the public resistance that chips away at his massive insecurity, a resistance which needs to be relentless.
My question is to the Republicans who are acting as if this is a normal state of affairs. How much damage to the fabric of our system are we expected to endure? How much indignity and disrespect? How long are you prepared to look away while Trump puts this country in grave danger?
The fracas with Mexico is a serious issue. Mexico stands to be destabilized by the absurd insistence that it should pay for the stupid wall. When the Mexican economy suffers, more people cross the border. There are already walls, fences, and systems in place at the border, but Trump can only enact asinine symbolic gestures like the wall. It is not in the best interest of the US to have an unstable, economically weakened and defensive Mexico.
It is not in the best interest of the US to reopen black sites and reinstate torture. It is not in the best interest of the US to deny climate change or affordable healthcare for millions of people. I understand that Trump is only interested in feeding his own sick ego and in gaming the system as he always has. What I cannot understand is the suicidal insistence of Republicans on acting against the interests of the citizenry. Their indifference to the welfare of the American people is chilling.

Friday, January 20, 2017


Today, the United States inaugurates the most unqualified, incompetent and dangerous person ever to be "elected" to the presidency. I say "elected" because he lost the popular vote by 3 million votes.
Many people will want to watch his absurd inauguration, like gawkers at a gruesome accident. I do not judge. It is a historic event of tragic proportions. But I refuse to tune in, because all that the emotionally stunted and deeply mentally impaired Donald Trump cares about are ratings and public attention, and I for one, am not going to give it to him today.

Yesterday, I attended an anti-Trump rally. Speaker after speaker invoked love. At some point, I felt I was lost in a giant liberal Hallmark card. Love is nice, but it does not work for me. Love is an overused cliché. Respect, however, is something that I could fathom mustering because I don't need Republicans and people who hate liberals to love me, but I demand they respect me, and I assume it goes both ways.

The Betsy DeVos confirmation hearing was a perfect example of the Republican disrespect for the American citizenry. It was a sideshow in which the Republican senators kissed DeVos's ass with fawning non-questions and prevented the Democrats from probing. But the greatest disrespect was shown by DeVos herself, in her refusal to answer questions, in her idiotic evasions, her use of euphemisms (deferring to the states, parental choice, and opportunity, all which mean privatization) and worse, in showing up without even having bothered to prepare. She is to be confirmed as Secretary of Education and she did not do her homework. Her conduct at the hearing was a slap in the face to the American public. This is what the next four years are going to be like and it is going to take a lot more than love to withstand the onslaught.

Bullying is an equal opportunity activity. Kids get bullied for being smart, for being dumb, for being too fat, too thin, too short, too tall, too dark, too pale. That is how Trump operates. He bullies everyone: Obama, the media, women, comedians, veterans, Mexicans, Muslims, the intelligence community, the disabled. Political bullies (nazis, Stalinists, Maoists, etc) know that humiliation makes people afraid. With Trump everyone is fair game, except the bigger bully: his friend and enabler, Vladimir Putin.
And so when I hear my fellow liberals talk about love, I get frustrated. Because love will not trump hate. Love only trumps hate in fantasyland. Love will not guarantee or protect our basic human rights. Love will do nothing to stem the utter contempt, distrust, and disrespect for reason, science, culture, the arts, the press, thought, and agnosticism both religious and ideological; love is a very weak weapon against the virulence of the American anti-intellectual strain. This strain can be swiftly transformed into destructive policies, from laws that oppress women and deny healthcare and education to people, to the plundering of the environment, and counterproductive foreign policy. Stupid people in power are very dangerous, not least because they make the stupid feel powerful and encourage the arrogance of the willfully ignorant. That is why Trump is where he is today.
Love won't do squat against the forces of regression that threaten our planet with extinction and our country with a return to its ugliest racism, xenophobia, ignorance and intolerance.
What we need are brains, and the courage to use them.

After today, we will find out if our democratic institutions can withstand abuse, or if they are just empty shells sustained by rapacious capitalism. We will confirm whether the Democratic party is as ineffectual and hobbled by corruption and inertia as we suspect it is, or if it is ready to grow a pair of truly progressive cojones and fight every second of every day for the next four years. We will find out if indeed we live in a democracy or not. But to find out we need to act and the only way to find out is to resist.