Monday, January 23, 2017

A Profound Sadness

"The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them again in our lifetime." 

Sir Edward Grey, British Foreign Secretary on the eve of World War I.

Across the world, women and people of conscience have marched in protest to what they perceive as the election of a scoundrel and a liar, a narcissistic, misogynistic impresario of Orwellian dimensions.
All hopes between the election and the inauguration of a change in personality, a more presidential and healing persona have already been dashed.   Republicans in congress have bent to the will of this force of darkness and pessimism.   Our hopes that the separation of powers will protect us from this aberration, a perversion of our democratic government, grow dimmer with each day.

The inappropriate cabinet picks, the angry dystopian inaugural address, the rancor and divisiveness pervading this pathologically driven man has already defined the direction in which he intends to take our country.    The Presidential powers conferred upon him are a threat to the tired, the poor, the dispossessed. Jobs that will never return, factories increasing the corporate bottom line with one-tenth the workforce, are the new reality, despite his promises.  And the Republican congress is rushing to install vouchers instead of health care as a right of all Americans.  You will have access and choice, they say.

Now, we are faced with how to chase this lying Caligula from office.   How does the congress stiffen its spine and do the work at hand?  How does the Republican Party reclaim its dignity?  Only by placing country over party.  The jury is out.  But with a proven liar in the White House, how will the world believe our government when a crisis arises?
Policy will be the prevailing battlefield, and not one that tweets about the size of the crowds at his coronation.

In 1933 Franklin Roosevelt and Adolf Hitler were elected to office.   Both the United States and Weimar Germany were in dire economic straits. A world-wide great depression.  The streets of Berlin suffered demonstrations of starving people, needing billions of marks to buy a loaf of bread.  Germans, overwhelmed by French and English policymakers who devised war reparations unable to be paid, marched Unter der Linden.   Victims desperately sought to find a way out.   Hitler made promises of a one Volk, one Germany, one Fuhrer. He offered hope but a dark vision of the reasons Germany was suffering.  He found his mantra, his dehumanizing of a whole segment of the German polity. Roosevelt, on the other hand, offered hope: "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself."  No scapegoat, but positive moves to revive the flagging American economy, marred by soup kitchens, starving veterans camping in Grant Park and on the Mall in Washington, chased away by troops commanded by Douglas MacArthur, unemployment reaching 25%.  Grown men selling apples in the street, unable to feed their children.

Hitler offered scapegoats, the Jews, the Bolsheviks, the conjured enemies.  Not unlike Vladimir Putin, the manifestation of a failed one-horse Russian democracy, now an authoritarian kleptocracy.
Hitler was able to silence dissent by murdering his critics, and establish a climate of the legitimate fear of being killed or being sent to concentration camps.

Roosevelt offered a new deal to America, government jobs, WPA, TVA, CCC, infrastructure projects, public works projects and a hopeful, cheerful optimism, not unlike his successor; Ronald Regan did 50 years later.  Hitler offered war, "lebensraum," expansion to the east, and the night of broken glass (Kristalnacht), racial hared and violence, the promise of conquest of other nations to alleviate German yearnings for prosperity and expansion, but through war, prodding internal economic growth.

Trump offers blame on the Chinese, immigrants, loose borders, Hispanics, Muslims and thinly veiled threats against minorities and people who are not as fortunate to have been born the scion of a real estate magnate.
On the inauguration stage, we saw a white guy with children from three different wives in stark contrast to a dignified African American, the exemplar of class, fidelity, and integrity who became President of the United States.  Great credit goes to our citizens for electing him. Did he make mistakes?  Surely.  But his decency, thoughtfulness and character was a credit to the Presidency and to his country.  Throughout history we have learned that character is the hallmark of great leaders.  Trump has none.  And that is already being demonstrated.

When we think of America as exceptional, it is.  Exceptional in the antiquity of its system of government and the gullibility of its people.  We need to be able to issue a vote of no confidence rather than having an albatross hanging from our stretched necks for four years.  The Constitution needs an amendment.  And the interstate compact of awarding all the electoral votes of the individual states  to the winner of the national popular vote needs to move ahead to abolish the  anachronism of the Electoral College allowing a winner who claims a mandate though he received three million less votes than his opponent. This 18th century instrument, based upon slavery needs to be relegated to history's dustbin.

Trump's raised fist, his anger, his ego, belies his fragile character, his inability to withstand criticism, and his ad hominem attacks on his critics, rendering him unfit to occupy the White House.   He is a boy-man, a privileged, spoiled, tweeting, grotesque caricature and a humiliation to our country.

And now, people who did not bother to vote are realizing that they should have. 

Saturday, January 7, 2017

The Manchurian Candidate

The fool thinks himself to be wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool
William Shakespeare

Donald J. Trump, elected President with the help of an authoritarian klepotcratic KGB murderer who had ordered hacking of the Democratic National Committee.    Seventeen US intelligence agencies agree and reveal an extensive, detailed, declassified report to the President-elect.  

Rather than acknowledge the facts of the reports, the President-elect disparages the intelligence professionals upon whom our nation depends, by alluding to the mistakes made in the run up to the Iraq war and intelligence demanded by our most stupid President, George W. Bush, who under the influence of Dick Cheney, plunged us into a quagmire from which we have not yet emerged.
Trump uses this mistake to justify and denigrate the dedicated intelligence professionals who have compiled a record of Russian interference in our election.   This Trumpian hubris endangers us all because even though the election is over, in his adolescent mind, it partially detracts from his "win."  Donald needs to "win," placing his ego above the national interest.  The cognitive dissonance of this all resembles the most insane Salvador Dali painting.   The distorted clock, the horrified contorted faces, the horrifying improvidence of it all.
Americans are gradually realizing that they have a psychologically deranged President about to leave the starting gate.

These are remarkable, frightening times.  A President-elect who is in denial about intelligence reports, climate change, Nato alliances, and Putinesque wickedness.  Many Cabinet appointments harboring a plethora of financial interests yet to be disclosed as required by law and a  voting public a majority of whom voted against Trump now scared to death.  Congressional hearings possibly to occur without full disclosure of his cabinet of gilded age billionaires.  The ludicrous Mexican wall, the failure to disclose tax returns, the failure to divest.  Red flags dominate political discourse.

Trump has still not had a press conference, communicating in tweet bursts, many of which are dangerous, disingenuous, and self-serving, threatening to undermine the ship of state, now rolling in a dark, tempest-torn sea.    Trump exults in misinformation, utilizing classic propaganda techniques of Orwellian dimensions.  Dr. Goebbels would be proud. Bypassing the media, yet utilizing it masterfully to pour out hatred, bigotry, birtherism, conspiracy theories; he has, with the help of an antiquated electoral system, stolen the election of 2016.   Unconscionable, by any standard, the Electoral College, is complicit in this fiasco. And social media has distorted the landscape even further having been employed by a Machiavellian impresario.

A national movement must soon take place to restore our democracy: one-person one vote.   All the nonsense advanced by traditionalists, originalists, or what have you, must be seen for what it is.   An attempt to disproportionally favor rural America.   Those who support the system argue that the electoral college governs space, not population centers and spreads the vote geographically.  How preposterous is this notion?   People in Wyoming have three times the representation as people in California.  Rural America should deserve equal representation, just as should we all.

Republicans in congress, including the cowardly, pusillanimous Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell will not know how to handle the hurricane headed their way.   They will rue the day that they could not get along with Obama, having sowed the wind, will now reap the whirlwind.

As Kathleen Parker noted in her column today in the Washington Post, the conspiracy theorists who thought Obama a Muslim, following the same logic can call Trump a Russian spy.   Equally silly theories, yet not without appeal for Democrats who believe that the election was rigged, but not as Trump had suggested.   If it is shown that Trump in any way knew beforehand what Vladimir was doing or had planned, here come the articles of impeachment.  And perhaps a trial for treason.  Why were they jubilant in Moscow when Trump got the 270 votes in the Electoral College?  Why do we even retain such a slavery-induced system?

Three million Americans have been effectively disenfranchised.  Their votes did not count.   And Trump is going to be President of the United States.

We are engaged in cultural and religious wars both at home and abroad and are now saddled with a President who knows nothing, sees nothing except himself in a narcissistic, distorted, mirror of denial, deception and self-promotion.

We must ask ourselves how this all happened?  And how could we have allowed our nation to fall into the hands of a latter day Juan Peron?