Category Archives: Culture

Donald Trump, Deconstructed

Here are a few questions about Donald Trump:

  • Why does he avoid teleprompters?
  • Why does he love the poorly educated? (He said so, remember?)
  • Why did he not realize that he had signed an executive order placing Steve Bannon on the National Security Council?
  • Why does he not type most (or at least many) of his own tweets but, rather, dictate them to staff to type?
  • Why has he refused to take daily briefings from intelligence and national security staffs?
  • Why does he not read lease agreements?
  • Why does he not read books?
  • Why does he speak at no greater than a fourth grade level?
  • Why does he surround himself so closely with Don, Eric, and Ivanka?

The answer may be as simple as it is shocking: President Trump can barely read. Whether it’s dyslexia, ADHD, or just simply that he never learned to read above lower grade school level, all indications are that it’s not just that he doesn’t read. It’s that he literally can’t read.

Inability to read explains much of what we saw during the campaign and, certainly, what we’ve been seeing in the weeks since his inauguration. And I am totally serious, here – this is not a joke. I think the man is functionally illiterate. How else can we explain what we’ve seen? His grown children stay close because they are clearly aware of their father’s inability to read. They protect him by filtering all that goes in and out. They know, and they cover for him.

It accounts for why he doesn’t read his briefing documents, newspapers, or other materials. He simply can’t assimilate them, and so he is totally dependent upon his staff and television to give him what is ultimately highly filtered and potentially biased input. Thus, he is easily manipulated by those around him, accounting for how Steve Bannon ended up on the NSC. Bannon simply had him sign the order, knowing that it would not be read before the signature was affixed. The proof of this is that Trump now says he “wasn’t briefed” about what he was signing. The ugly and frightening truth is that Steve Bannon is more the President than is Trump, a fact terrifyingly satirized by Saturday Night Live, when the actor playing Bannon (dressed as the grim reaper) took over the President’s role, relegating an infantile Trump played by Alec Baldwin to the side, where he sat at a child’s desk and played like an idiot with a toy.

Trump, the real estate mogul, has stated that he does not read lease agreements and, on one occasion documented on video, when challenged to do so he was unable to interpret one. Trump, the politician, disparages teleprompters because he can’t read them. And Trump, the ersatz everyman, says he loves the poorly educated. Of course he does: he’s one of them.

The man elected to the Presidency of the United States is an ignorant, arrogant, bullying, misogynistic, impulsive, functionally illiterate dolt who is at risk of, and is likely already a victim of, manipulation by those around him, Steve Bannon being arguably the most dangerous. He has appointed a Cabinet of the most unqualified, individuals imaginable, and the team as a whole is committed to a vision of America that will only do grave damage to those who gave him his greatest support but are too blind to see what they’ve done and what is about to befall them.

There is an old saying: the fish stinks from the head. Look no further here. It’s that guy who can’t read the handwriting on the wall. I almost, but not quite, feel sorry for him. I do feel sorry for those of us who know what’s coming.

Where, Oh Where, Do We Begin?

It’s been less than two weeks and it’s already hard to know where to begin. The irrational, executive order on immigration and refugees? The firing of Acting Attorney General Sally Yates (instantly making her a martyr), the firing of the ICE Director, the directive to start building the wall, threatening to send U.S. troops into Mexico, hanging up on the Australian Prime Minister? Well, these among other travesties and incompetent acts are all worthy of discussion, but for now I’d like to say a few words about President Lout’s appointment of the man likely to be our newest Supreme Court Justice, Neil Gorsuch.

First, a bit of review. In the presence of a vacancy on the Court, it is the Constitutional duty of the President to make a nomination, following which it is the responsibility of the Judicial Committee of the Senate to vet the nominee and of the full Senate to confirm or not confirm the nominee, as the case may be.

In the wake of Justice Antonin Scalia’s unexpected death last year, President Obama fulfilled his Constitutional duty by nominating Judge Merrick Garland, a universally respected, highly qualified, moderate jurist to take the deceased Scalia’s seat on the Court. Senator Mitch McConnell, aka “The Turtle”, vowed that no nomination made in the final year of President Obama’s term of office would receive any consideration by the Judicial Committee. In doing so, he excused his raw and unconstitutional action by citing what he called the “Biden rule”, a nonexistent rule based solely upon something Joseph Biden said several years ago but having no basis in legislative law. McConnell. thus laid the groundwork blocking any fair and required action on the nomination. This disgraceful act resulted in the theft of the nomination from President Obama, and left the Court one justice short of its normal complement of nine individuals. The Court responded by failing to take on a number of cases that it otherwise might have considered.

So now, Presidential Lout, fulfilling a campaign promise to pick someone acceptable to the far and evangelical right, has nominated an extreme conservative to fill the empty slot, and Republicans are gloating over their unconstitutional triumph. Worse, it should be noted that the Lout’s gang is accusing Democrats of being obstructive by threatening to filibuster the nomination. This, of course, is utter hypocrisy given prior Republican behavior.

It seems inevitable that Neil Gorsuch will be confirmed, although the Democrats may be able to delay confirmation to some minimal extent. But I do believe that an additional protest is warranted. I suggest that when the roll is called for confirmation, EVERY DEMOCRAT SHOULD, INSTEAD OF VOTING “NO” OR BOYCOTTING THE VOTE, LOUDLY PROCLAIM A VOICE A VOTE FOR MERRICK GARLAND. This will do nothing to change the outcome, but at least it will get the attention of the public and remind everyone of the disgusting and obstructive behavior of Senate Majority Leader Turtle and his cohorts in governmental crime.

As a final comment regarding Neil Gorsuch, there are those who have suggested that the Lout might not be getting quite what he is expecting with the appointment. Gorsuch is a strict constructionist, yes, and a far right conservative, yes, and takes a radical view of religious rights (the Hobby Lobby decision) and, consequently, is no friend of women’s rights, but because of his belief in strict adherence to established principles embodied within the Constitution and legislation, there is a glimmer of hope that he at least will not mindlessly support the wild decrees of the Lout. If true, this would be at least one positive in what so far seems an abysmal turn of affairs in our beloved country. Not enough to justify, in my mind, his confirmation to the Supreme Court, but the simple fact is that he will be confirmed, so we need to take whatever small hope there may be that he won’t be the disaster we’re nevertheless expecting.

Does Donald Trump Have ADHD?

We have all learned over time and especially during the course of the Republican cluster fuck of debates and primaries, and his recent performance in the first Presidential debate, that Donald Trump is a bloviating, unprepared and unqualified, misogynistic bully. But does he have ADHD? Consider the following:

  • Lack of preparation for the debate with Clinton: Was this because of an inability to concentrate on the vast amount of material that would need to be in his command for the debate and ultimately, of course, as a qualification to be President?
  • His frequent (51 by general agreement on the number) interruptions of Clinton during her allotted debate speaking time: Was this simple rudeness or a manifestation of poor impulse control?
  • His facial expressions, sniffling as if he’d just snorted cocaine, and one word or sound utterings: Were these things a manifestation of his inability to hold still and focus?
  • His frequent, disjointed, rambling answers, in which he would string together almost random thoughts separated by the nonsensical, non-contextual “because”.

I would suggest that these easily observed and impossible to ignore behaviors are sufficient for at least the suspicion that Trump suffers from adult attention deficit  hyperactivity disorder, more commonly known as “ADHD”.

And so we come to the critical question: Is the Presidency a job for someone with ADHD and its associated poor impulse control and lack of ability to focus, to be coherent, and to control his facial expressions? His appalling attitudes, social views, and political ignorance aside, do we really want someone like this to represent the United States of America both domestically and abroad?

The time to come out and vote is almost upon us. Can anyone justify the position taken by one woman who was interviewed after the debate? She called Trump a “jackass” but said that party loyalty demanded that she vote for him. Is this the immorally low bar to which we have sunk?

Yes, Clinton has made some mistakes over time, but is there really any choice here? If you care about the country, you should know the answer.

Donald Trump is a Russian Spy (Maybe)

I think that Donald Trump is a Russian spy. Here’s the evidence.

First and foremost, he is an ardent admirer of Vlad (the Impaler) Putin. Of course, I can’t be sure whether it’s political or sexual attraction to the ex-KGB guy with the penchant for going shirtless, but I’ll give The Donald the benefit of the doubt and assume the attraction is political. Philosophically, they do seem to be well aligned. And they’re both bullies.

Next, Trump supports the Russian invasion of the Crimea and feels that the US should recognize the extended Russian claims over Ukraine.

And then there is his urging of Russian cyber-intelligence to hack into US servers, especially Hillary Clinton’s private e-mail server. In other words, he’s advocating espionage against the United States by a foreign entity. One more step over the line and he’ll be guilty of treason.

Trump spends most of his time running down the country as an out of control mess, a place where everywhere you turn you expose yourself to the possibility of a violent death at the hands of people who don’t look like you (read: white). And in much of the time during which he isn’t trying to scare the bejesus out of the poorly educated and bigoted masses, he disparages the military, thus providing propaganda support for Russia. His recent attack on the parents of an American soldier, including his unconcealed racist insinuations about Muslim culture forcing the soldier’s mother to remain silent, goes far beyond the limits of decency and, again, speaks to his lack of loyalty and respect for American ideals and institutions. In this latter regard, no one is spared from his attacks, as evidenced by his recent verbal attacks on firefighters for simply enforcing limits on legal occupancy at his rallies. Firefighters!

While all this speaks to his borderline treasonous behavior, one has to ask why he’s acting this way. Could it be that he’s in severe financial trouble and needs money from the Russians to keep him afloat? Well, that’s just unsubstantiated speculation on my part, something Trump does all the time as he makes de facto accusations with implicit rather than explicit language.

Of course none of this Russian stuff explains why he also seems to be supporting ISIS. You don’t believe that he supports radical Islamic terrorist activity? For starters, just look at his ongoing denigration of America and its armed services, or his railing against what he says is the incompetence of the American government. He’s the best propaganda tool ISIS could wish for.

All of which leads me to ask one final question. Who would ever have thought that the Republicans, of all people, would nominate a modern incarnation of Benedict Arnold? Apparently all their flag waving is just a cover for the real goal of modern Republicanism: fascist, racist, ignorant dictatorship with Donald J. Trump as their anointed leader. So who’s Trump, himself, actually aspiring to be? I’ll leave the possible names from history unsaid, but you know who they are.

And the irony of all this is that Republicans brought this on, themselves. Trump is neither more nor less than the logical, inevitable outcome of years of Republican radicalism, bigotry, and waging economic and class warfare. Some Republicans are finally waking up to this ugly fact and the monstrous mess they’ve created, but party leadership remains spineless. How else to explain McConnell, Ryan, Priebus, et al., as they express their disapproval but refuse to retract their endorsement of the Party’s candidate. With gutless wonders like these at the head of the Party, is it any wonder that white supremacists and high school dropouts have felt justified in crawling out from under their rocks to support the beast?

As of today (3 August), some Party regulars are openly hoping Trump will voluntarily drop out of the race. Hah! Still no spine – just sit back, take no action, and wish for the high flying egotist to back out. The cowardice would be shocking if it weren’t so predictable. On the other hand, maybe Trump will be “disappeared” by a Russian extraction team. After all, that’s what they do when a spy’s cover is blown. And wouldn’t that be just dandy?

Of Mobs and Demagoguery: The Republican Convention of 2016

The 2016 Republican National Convention has now (thankfully) passed into history, but its effects are likely to be long-lasting. In no particular order, here is a listing of some relevant aspects of its frightening legacy, along with some observations of my own (of course).

  • The initially unlikely nomination of Donald Trump, a bloviating, bigoted, xenophobic, nationalistic, verbally abusive egomaniac has become a reality, the result of the Republican takeover by right wing extremists and evangelists. The party is now, de facto, the party of white supremacists, religious nut cases, and those with no understanding of the actual history of the United States and its founders.
  • The virtually complete takeover of the Convention’s proceedings by Trump forces resulted in trampling dissent and led to a mob mentality with behavior of the delegates that all too often (e.g., during Chris Christie’s kangaroo court performance), resembled that seen during the rise of the Third Reich. Personally, I found all those raised arms pretty terrifying.
  • Although one expects negative hyperbole denigrating the candidate of the opposing party, the behavior of the delegates as egged on by many speakers transcended the bounds of decency. Instead of being a celebration of the Republican nominee, the convention became an ugly hatefest, and if all that unites the base is hate, one wonders what Republicans will be voting for, rather than against in November.
  • We learned that Melania Trump is, as reported by the L.A. Times, an admirer of Michelle Obama, certainly an embarrassment of sorts for The Donald and others who have spent such an inordinate amount of time hating the Obamas.
  • The honesty, hard work, and dedication to principle so touted by Melania in her plagiarized speech bears no resemblance to the actual conduct of the candidate. In fact, listening to her, one would have been more than hard pressed to identify whom she was speaking about if she weren’t the candidate’s wife.
  • Every time the camera panned to the Trump family and showed his beautiful children, the only thought I could entertain was “Stepford”. In fact, so many of the women, in particular, in the arena had the same blond appearance of the Trump women that I considered the possibility that they were all programmed robots. Of course, an awful lot of the men on the convention floor looked more like beer swilling knuckle-draggers than intelligent specimens of the human species. Just sayin…but we know that Trump’s major appeal is to the white, poorly educated of our country. Just those whom we want to choose our leaders, right? And it is worth noting that this convention reportedly had fewer minority attendees than any other recent Republican convention despite the Party’s sticking some minority speakers on the program for show.
  • After the 2012 re-election of President Obama, the Republicans held that much touted autopsy on their stunning failure and came up with some reasonable conclusions about the Party’s wrong direction and what needed to be done to redirect efforts to broaden their base. The current outcome is the result of the party’s total failure to channel their own findings toward any sort of remedial action and a demonstration of how moderate influences within the party were completely overrun by the darker forces of radical religion and what now passes for conservatism but is really a complex mixture of paranoia, fear, bigotry, and a foundational philosophy anchored in preserving an American caste system.
  • Trump’s final address to the convention on Thursday night was simply raw meat for the already converted. It was a classic example of playing to white fears, denigrating the opposition, and offering no specifics while throwing out a few barely acknowledged platitudes in the vain attempt to convince a wider audience to support the ticket. And, boy, did he sound angry.
  • Neither Trump nor any other speaker acknowledged the overt bigotry and radical, chauvinistic nature of the Party’s platform, suggesting either total hypocrisy or an overt intention to deceive. In fact, if one looks at the history of VP nominee Mike Pence (Mike Pence???), one can see clearly through the deception. He is, in fact, the embodiment of the platform: a radically conservative, angry white guy out to “restore” the country to an idealized state that, in fact, never actually existed. If he and all the others of his ilk get their way, millions will lose their health care, women will once again begin dying from septic illegal abortions, climate change will be ignored, environmental degradation allowed to proceed unchecked, quality education reserved only for those who can afford it, and voter suppression will continue to run unchecked, among other “conservative” delights. Oh! Wait! It really is the Republican Party’s platform!
  • The funniest thing I heard anyone say all week came from Stephen Colbert, who commented, “Mike Pence was born after a bolt of lightning struck a jar of mayonnaise.” (See prior bullet point…)
  • In the final analysis, the 2016 Republican gathering accomplished only one thing. It played successfully to the already committed base without expanding support among elements of the public it needs to attract to have any chance of winning in the November election. Pundits say that the Party is losing more voters than it has been gaining, resulting in a net loss. We can only hope.

Unroofing the Polluted Well

Anyone who has read my blog over time knows my political views, so it will come as no surprise to read of my dismay over what the candidacy of Donald Trump has revealed about a substantial minority of the American populace. The deep dark, polluted well of bigotry and intolerance which Trump has unroofed has led to the cockroaches feeling empowered to creep out into daylight, and it has not been a pretty sight.

First, let’s review a bit of history. The founders of our country were both brilliant and selectively blind. Their brilliance, as reflected in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and its appended Bill of Rights, is evident for all to see. These documents have enshrined the highest aspirations for society, including certain specific rights we hold most valuable of all. And yet, these same founders permitted slavery and other forms of discrimination which, in today’s world, are seen to be totally unacceptable by most thinking, educated individuals. Unfortunately, however, it is only “most” and not all.

Within the country, bigotry exists: racial, ethnic, religious, and all tend to be generalized. Whether its anti-black, anti-Asian, anti-Latino/Hispanic, anti-Jewish, anti-Catholic, or anti-Muslim, the tendency is to paint with a very large brush. For those individuals and groups of individuals holding such views, no amount of logic or reason, education, shaming, or objective example can so much as dent their internalized biases.

Many of those harboring these belief systems understand that to reveal them to the larger public would result in significantly adverse social consequences, so they keep their views to themselves. Increasingly, however, they and their more vocal counterparts have come to feel empowered  to express themselves.

The largest, but perhaps not the only, enabling force in this has been the Republican Party which, for years, has drifted increasingly rightward under the influence of religious fundamentalists, white bigots (the so called “angry white men”, although there are many angry white women, too), and those with money buying their way into government for their own gain. Republican philosophy has become increasingly based upon policies that maintain a rigid social structure in which there is a permanent underclass that is always slighted in legislation and preyed upon by those who continue to benefit and exert ever increasing influence over legislation.

Donald Trump has become the almost inevitable end product of the Republican Party’s acceptance of, and conquest by, these expressive and controlling forces. The party of Lincoln has been co-opted by the radical right, the business elite, the NRA, intolerant religious fundamentalists, and white supremacists. One need only take the most obvious example of this over the past 8 years: the racially motivated, unending campaign to discredit President Obama by labeling him as a foreign born Muslim. As recently as immediately following the Orlando mass shooting, Donald Trump (who still supports the “birther” movement), strongly implied that President Obama was complicit in the attack. Examples abound, but who needs more than this to understand the nightmare that the Republican Party has unleashed.

The most disheartening aspect of this, aside from the fact of Trump’s ongoing support by those who feel as he does, is that influential Republicans are continuing to support him: Ryan, McConnell, Perry, Rubio(!), et al. are all placing “party unity” and irrational hatred of Hillary Clinton above their previously expressed opinions regarding Trumps behavior. This could mean one two things. Either their feelings haven’t changed about Trump but they’re simply morally bankrupt, or despite their criticism of Trump, they actually see him giving vent to their own views, which is just another way of saying they’re morally bankrupt. Either way, it’s pretty damned depressing. In the end, though, one thing is clear: the Republican Party has become neo-fascist, racist, class-conscious, angry, and militant, and has adopted a punitive attitude toward all with whom they disagree or toward whom they harbor deeply seated bias. It does not bode well as it serves to empower other elements in the country holding similar views. One can only hope that changing demographics along with an increasingly secular, humanistic orientation of the highly educated in our county will ultimately overtake and drown out the voices of anger and intolerance. It’d sure be nice.

Back After a Hiatus: Politics as Usual

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted to the blog. Life’s like that, I guess. Lots of other responsibilities and even some fun stuff have kept me from blogging. First, in early April, I spent time selling one of my books, Zendoscopy, at the L.A. Times Festival of Books. While sales were less than spectacular, the time I spent with other writers while meeting and greeting the public in the Greater Los Angeles Writers Society booth was interesting and fun, and when it was over, I returned home recharged to work on the not-quite-a-sequel to Zendoscopy. Yes, it’s got a title, finally, after two years of ruminating over possible monikers, and it’s getting close to completion. I won’t be announcing the title until the book is completed and formally copyrighted, however. A bit later this year, all being well, I’ll post a chapter or two to whet appetites. All I can say now is that it’s going to be even funnier than the funniest parts of Zendoscopy, and not quite as angst-ridden.

Those who’ve read Spacebraid and Other Tales of a Dystopian Universe and/or Zendoscopy have likely surmised that I’m an amateur (“ham”) radio operator. In fact, I have been a ham since I was a kid. In April I was away at a major West Coast amateur radio convention for which I was the program chairman (third time in the job), and I just returned from attending the largest such convention held every year in Dayton, Ohio, where as President of an international organization of amateur radio operators in the health professions I chaired its annual meeting.

So, I’ve been busy.

Not so busy, however, that I haven’t been following what journalist Matt Taibbi has aptly called the Republican Clown Car. Of course, with only Trump (Drumpf?) left standing, it’s less a clown car now than a reincarnation of the Third Reich. Think that’s an exaggeration? Think again.

Let’s forget about Barry Goldwater for this discussion and skip directly to the Reagan era, when we truly began to see the rise of the religious right and an increase in bold faced Republican right wing lying to the public in ways that left a significant segment of the American population unaware that voting “conservative” was tantamount to voting against their better interests. Then came the so-called neocons, with Dick Cheney and a moronic President named George W., who led us into a misguided war based upon inadequate data and outright fibbing. There was an increased sense of militancy in foreign policy with more than a dollop of nation building idealism thrown in but based upon a wholly inadequate understanding of Middle Eastern culture, politics, and history. Meanwhile, at home, those most opposed to “big government” had no hesitations about trying to further disadvantage the poor, trample on equal rights for women and reproductive choice, restrict health care, undercut voting rights, and gang rape the environment.

Endlessly repeated lies and misinformation from the right, coupled with the Republican and Wall Street induced economic collapse of 2008, created an angry public that swallowed Republican scapegoating of President Obama and the Democrats, Muslims, Mexicans, and immigrants in general, and in the end created so much alienation that it inevitably led to the appearance of the Republican Clown Car: all those idiots competing for the Republican Presidential nomination. Let’s see, now. Just a few of them…Ben Carson, a religious fool who thinks the pyramids are hollow and were built for grain storage. Carly Fiorina, who touts her business experience but drove Hewlett-Packard into the ground and was fired as its CEO. The pathetic Jeb Bush, wholly inept as a debater and too weak to stand up to any of his opponents . Ted Cruz, one of the meanest, most reactionary, lizard-like human beings on the planet. I could go on with Christy, Paul, Kasich, Rubio…but you get the idea. And finally, of course, the alien monster that burst from the collective chest of the Republican disaffected, an arrival virtually guaranteed by years of Republican rhetoric and behavior: the Trumpmeister, himself. Misogynistic, bullying, bloviating, ignorant of world history, politics and culture, bigoted, scapegoating, vulgar, egotistical — a man with no real political allegiances who simply gave voice to all that festering anger and frustration, bias, bigotry, and xenophobia: the slimy innards and cold heart of today’s Republican Party. The right wing is like the rioters of Watts, Ferguson, and too many other places. It doesn’t care if it destroys the country – it’s simply mad beyond reason, charged with irrational anger, and Trump is the vehicle of this inchoate rage. Damn the torpedoes – blow up democratic government by consensus and compromise and simply rule by fiat. In other words, If Trump wins in November, we will have elected a fascist.

In several of my prior blog entries, I’ve said similar things, but the situation now is getting serious, folks. A recent Wall Street Journal poll (and, OK, the WSJ is pretty conservative) found that Clinton still beats Trump in the general election, but only by a margin of three percentage points: 46 to 43. Now, that’s scary. Do we want a bloviating, bigoted ignoramus as President? Could he really win in November. Unfortunately, the answer is yes. After all, consider the re-election of George W., and try not to cry when you do. Anything’s possible.

The only hope is for youth and minorities to show up in droves at the polls. Let’s hope they’ve gotten the message because if they haven’t, and if we end up with a President Trump, we may find the Canadians wanting to build a wall to keep us out.