Sunday, July 9, 2017

What Makes DJT Dangerous

After what the president NOW claims is their first meeting (see early campaign boasts), a lot of commentators spent a lot of time comparing how much Vladimir Putin & Donald Trump had in common ~ they came into power promising to make sweeping reforms; in every arena, they strive to have total control of the reins; and they are both famous for being rule breakers.  In this last, they seem similar, with one huge & all-important different, which POTUS revealed for all the world to see at this week's G20.  Putin knows the rules; DJT doesn't.

The current Dalai Lama observed, "Know the rules well, so you can break them effectively."  And when it comes to business, no one can beat Donald John Trump at skating close to the edge of rules without - usually - going over.  When he's gotten into trouble seems to have been when he played a l  little too fast & loose.  

But he is clueless in the rules, written & unwritten, of governance, foreign affairs & diplomacy.  Putin breaks them with impugnity;  President Trump breaks them from ignorance.  As witnessed by him having Ivanka sit in for him at a round table of world leaders.  It would have been a slap in the face - like the story of FDR sending his mistress to welcome the recalled Ambassador Joseph Kennedy back from England after Joe embarrassed the USA at the Court of St James - if the powerful men & women around it hadn't known that it wasn't political gamesmanship, just an example that father & daughter are well versed in properties, not political proprieties. 

For weeks, I've been trying to think of why I keep feeling that Donald Trump is a mere faint copy of his mentor, the brilliantly obstructive Roy Cohn.  Having his daughter, who has maybe slightly more inkling about non-business world affairs than her Dad, sit in for him was a light dawning. 

No one knew the rules of law & business & human nature better than Roy Cohn, which left him able to break them with deep cunning & sure knowledge of what he was doing, what the outcome would most likely be, where his rule breaking would take him even if it flubbed.  Like DJT, he took like huge risks, but with full awareness of the dangers being courting, the benefits if it went his way (which it typically did), how to make it work if things went bad.

Donald John Trump became a political phenomenon because he didn't simply break the rules - he didn't know them. That made him an irresistible magnet to the disgusted & disenfranchised.  For as long as there's been politics, politicians have been promising to toss out the bums in power, to bring down the Establishment.  Donald Trump was the first person running for president that they could seriously believe would trash the Beltway Establishment & not replace it with a similar version of the same.  He talks exclusively in terms of detailed destruction & vague replacement because it is easy to destroy but takes knowledge will ability to replace.

Putin knows the rules, breaks them with devastating effectiveness.  President Trump doesn't know the rules, doesn't show any sign of any interest in getting to know them, breaks them from ignorance.  When it comes to governance, foreign affairs & diplomacy, he's not skating close to a verboten edge - he doesn't know where they are.  Nor does he care, as long as he's taking his way.

And that makes DJT very very very dangerous.  Even Roy Cohn would be scared.  

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Understanding DJT

It just hit me this a.m. that I understand what makes POTUS 45 run.  He's like someone close to my heart.  On their own, immense wealth, power, celebrity mean nothing to him.  He craves the feeling of wholeness he gets when others consider him #1.  His campaign slogan should have been “Make Donald Feel Great. Again. And Again. And Again…”  

From what I’ve seen & heard, DJT feels locked into second place to his father, Fred.  He feels whole when he feels super-sized – then, he is bigger than his pater. 
Therein lies the irresistible allure of Vladimir Putin.  Every inch former KGB, Putin knows just what to say to make DJT feel pretty darn wonderful.  He is a master of finding common ground & using it to bond the other to him. Look at them at the G20 - two guys against the anti-Russian American Establishment, against the worldwide Establishment!  I dare say Putin has more clout with the American president than even Ivanka.  

No one can make Donald feel the way Putin does & that will be as powerful as any drug.  The only way to get & stay in supply is via the Kremlin.  And that ain't good for anyone.

Monday, July 3, 2017

A House Divided -~ ~ early morning meander

These days, each morning finds me rolling out of bed by 5:15 a.m., greeting the beautiful world, having a glass of water with my blood pressure pill, doing my 5-fold Namastes, dressing & heading out on a walk around the block.  Haven't done my journaling yet, so thoughts flit through the old noggin more than if I had.  So, welcome to my return to radical centristing, putting down mental meanders that joined me on my ramble.

Listening to Krista Tippett's Udemy class on The Art of Conversation, realize how much we have lost the grace of sharing opinions without coming to verbal blows.  Especially when it comes to politics.  While conservatives have, over the past 30+ years, consistently polled as wanting elected officials to stand true to their ideology, whatever the fall-out, ~and~ liberals/independents incline toward wanting theirs to practice the fine art of compromise essential to effective governance, the differences between the ideologies have become more pronounced over the past eight years.  The liberal proclivity for conversation, debate & reasonable compromise took a major hit, as they faced an opposition that saw 11/04/08 - for whatever reason - as a call to combat the likes of which we haven't seen in my lifetime.  That pissed off a lot of Dems, who then dug in their own heels leaving us with less-likely-to-listen-to-different-sides liberals.

The greatest danger, to me, falls on the right, on its utter devotion to THEIR beliefs, while shrouding different points of views & faiths in suspect creepy dangerous otherness.

On my walk, it hit me why a young friend insists most of her liberal friends openly don't believe in God.  Thinking back to what she said, realized that she would consider ME among them, because I do not believe that Christians have a monopoly on faith.  What did she think when I said that God is like a great ocean that laps up on many shores but is still One. 

Years ago, a nephew & I shared our ideas of God  - he insisted that people who did not hold the ONE true image of God (the one he held) were damned by their lack of true faith.  To him, I did not believe in God. 

The same might be true with my young friend - liberals don't hold faith in God because they don't hold faith in HER god.  The GOP doesn't consider liberals to be patriotic because they don't hold THEIR point of view.  

This core difference between the two parties - the one honoring diversity & the other sensing it as a direct threat to all they hold dear - became of fresh interest to me this weekend, viewing with horror the 2017 NRA "freedom's safest place" ad, which builds on last year's.  In 2016, it warned the world's bad guys not to mess with real Americans; in 2017, they swapped in liberals as the bad guys out to destroy America, who would have to face the "clenched fist of truth."

Pardon me while I stop roaring with bitter laughter. The NRA stands 4-square with a president who doesn't know the difference between the truth & a self-serving falsehood.  He says what to others would be considered a flagrant, flaming lie - he says it, then it's reported, he reads the report of his lie & believes it because it was on the news.  And he isn't trying to jerk our chain - he really does believe whatever comes out of his mouth.  He hasn't presented himself as any different. The first person the NRA should come after with its clenched fist of truth is POTUS!

"The clenched fist of truth" - reality check.  Ideology, not truth, has a clenched fist.  The NRA posted a picture of Rosie the Riveter as an example of their imagery - how pitiful.  Clenched fist brings one thing to mind - anger, barely able to keep control, a desire to come out swinging.  To a reasoned mind, it was not a call to arms; to an unreasonable one, whatever their personal ideology - YOUCH!  

That openly-condemning-liberals NRA ad twinned with the president's "playful" video showing him body slamming CNN broadcasts a scary vibe across the land.  Forget "stirring the pot" - the ad & the video set the burner on HIGH.  

We cannot survive long as a country that cannot find common ground.  Conservatives expect the Supreme Court to root out past rulings that opened the way to gay marriage, to increased suffrage across age gender race, what they consider licentious life styles.  Everything liberals spent the past 50 years building, conservatives look forward to tearing down - in their mind, restoring a proper order to our nation.  We are increasingly a house divided.

Today marks the last day of the Battle of Gettysburg, a timely reminder of what happens when the chasm between ideologies gets so great, the ability to have a helpful conversation becomes too mangled, the willingness to listen consider compromise disappears.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Donald Trump IS transparent

He has been totally up front about his lack of ethics or character - doesn't need either, would just get in the way of business deals that benefit him.

He's been crystal clear in showing that this moment's truth is whatever benefits him & if that changes tomorrow or in the next hour, so be it.

He has no qualms about using high-ranking military officers & decorated vets as a literal human shield to fend off any barbed comments from the press about his egregious manipulation of the media for his own political AND professional ends.

He does not espouse a single ideal or idea that does not benefit Donald John Trump.

He will, if elected, reconfigure the office of the president to comply with what he wants to do - the fluff stuff, leaving the meat & potatoes for Mike Pence, who is also open & above board about intending to fashion any Pence vice presidency on Dick Cheney's.

Trump openly embraces Vladimir Putin, admires the governing tactics of political strong men who are our enemies, has no attention span, cannot communicate in coherent thoughts, insults people like a grade school bully, makes no bones about admiring bullies.

The list could go on & on.  Donald Trump has been & continues to be completely open - transparent - about the countless ways he would be a disaster in the White House.  This week, he played the press.  He set up scenario where he can - honestly - point out the press en masse criticizing him (left them on the airport tarmac while he took off, set up the "press conference" debacle that was an infomercial for his new hotel & an endorsement event on steroids), refusing to do any debates because they are biased. 

We know he is a modern P T Barnum, who also believes there's a sucker born every moment.  He makes no bones about it.  But he is SO outrageous, SO self-serving, SO oblivious of anyone's opinion desires intentions except his own, he captivates rather than repulses.  Like one of those snakes who are fabled for hypnotizing a victim before delivering a fatal bite.

We know that Trump favors the lyrics to the song, The Snake, because of its closing lines, where the viper admonishes the person who saved his life, nursed him back to health, only to be fatally bitten by the very creature he'd protected - "You knew what I was when you took me in."

Charles Blow captures it, in today's NY Times - "This is what is so baffling about the people supporting him: They know he’s lying, but they so want to believe the lies that they have pushed themselves into a universe of irrationality that is devoid of logic."

Sadly, Mr. Blow shows he doesn't get the reality of Donald Trump, going on to write - "No one who so proudly wears the mark of dishonesty and defamation possesses the power to grant the stamps of legitimacy and absolution."  Sure he can - and did.  The media has so thoroughly normalized Donald Trump, what would devastate any other politician in any other time simply adds to his superhuman allure. 

There is a reason so many Americans believe Donald Trump significantly more transparent - as far as his character, not his business dealings - is because he IS.  What we see is what we will get. No matter what the final results, he will have had the time of his life AND even in defeat would find himself a winner. 

As an historian, it's fascinating to watch. Am beyond concern - just enjoying the show.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Ginning up the game

Image result for john heilemann    

Image result for ej dionne

Sigh....  Back when I watched television, 4+ years ago, I enjoyed hearing what John Heileman offered to political discussions; my John & I liked EJ Dionne so much, we referred to him as "Uncle EJ" (for his reassuring style).

Both men have disappointed me, big time.

Guys - criticize Hillary for overstating how many deplorable types are supporting Donald Trump; 50% was too large a number to cite, even if it is true, for her not to expect major blowback (unless that's what she wants!).  But John claiming that it "could kind of justify that, where she had said anything that actually kind of met the dictionary definition of bigoted" has me shaking my head in disbelief.  Et tu, John?  You are getting downright Trump-like in your disjointed thinking.  Pathetic.

Per Merriam-Webster, a bigot is "a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially :  one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance."

Hillary called out 50% of Trump supporters as a "basket of deplorables" because a significant number - including his campaign manager - openly embrace beliefs once considered way out on the fringe, like white supremacy & blanket intolerance of those deemed "as deplorable.

Listening to John & later to EJ, it's pathetically clear those days are past.  The media is mute when Trump uses inaccurate inflammatory incendiary graphics from a far right wing website like InfoWars, whose founder, Alex Jones, proudly claims to be one of Trump's advisors.  David Duke counts himself a keen Trump supporter - inspired by his candidate's open embrace of once verboten white supremacist memes, he too is running for high office.  Donald himself touts that millions follow him, trusting him to throw "Make America White Great Again," tossing out those who are here illegally - and their American citizen offspring, to keep out anyone who doesn't agree with our views, to restore our country to "one nation, one flag, one God." Those are beliefs the average American would have reviled nine years ago. 

If Hillary had condemned all Trump supporters, I can understand why John would have called her condemning, even intolerant. But even if that had been the case, "bigot" still wouldn't fit.  It was lazy lazy lazy on John's part.

And EJ backed him up!

Gentlemen, you are a disappointment.  Above all, intellectually.  Your fumbling the word indicates minds wretchedly dulled by an inane season, keen insights blunted by the need to not see what's right in front of you, perceptions clouded by an overload of bombast.

EJ commented that if Hillary hadn't come out swinging, "We might now be talking about Trump's love affair with Vladimir Putin... Instead, we're talking about this."

Tsk, tsk, tsk...   That was your choice.  You could have talked about Donald Trump & Pam Bondi, you could have talked about his disjointed answers at the Commander-in-Chief Forum, about him INSULTING our nation's military leaders, his obvious lack of the vaunted PLAN to DEFEAT ISIS, about the difference between how Matt Lauer treated the two candidates, about DJT referring to listening to HRC's responses at the Forum.  You could have discussed the fall-out of Hillary's comments, using words that did dovetail with the points you sought to make. 

You could have, and didn't, discuss what we once expected from both of - matters of substance.

Instead, you fell prey to trying out for the current new political sport - pretzeling yourselves into contortions of reality, convolutions of the truth.  And for what end?  To gin up the game, to make it more newsworthy, thus better view bait? 

after thought - When I look at John's wording, his disjointed phrasing, his flagrant misuse of an emotionally charged word, at EJ backing him up & blaming Hillary for them pummeling her statement in lieu of discussing matters of actual substance - well, am reminded of something my dear old mother would say:  the subpar & inferior is more likely to drag down the above par & superior than the other way around.  I think about reading the TEXT of DJT's comments at the Commander-in-Chief Forum - which is when the full impact of his disconnected, erratic stream-of-unconsciousness thinking hits home - & then I think about John Heilemann, about EJ Dionne... How right she was!

What's sauce for the gander...

... is surely sauce for the goose.  If it's okey-dokey for Trump surrogates & the candidate himself to draw conclusions about Hillary Clinton's physical health based on appearances, it should be thumbs up for the her supporters to raise questions about his mental health, based on as much evidence.  She might have health issues, or she could be feeling the strain of yet another horrid heat wave - although today is lovely. 

As for Donald Trump - there's no question the Republican nominee is a flaming narcissist who makes Bill Clinton seem humble, in comparison.  His lack of sleep, his chronic incoherence, disjointed statements & use of non-sequiters should all be up for interpretation.

Who would have thought the 2016 campaign would feature such a whacked-out health care debate?!