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

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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?!

All I Know About Donald Trump I Learned From Roger Ailes' Little Fair & Balanced Book of TV Journalism

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For anyone who REALLY wants to understand the Trump campaign & the GOP candidate, look no further than his longtime friend & political advisor, Roger Ailes. 

To put it in terms simple enough for a six-year old to understand (but should never be subjected to):
  • Roger Ailes realized his greatest dream in establishing Fox News - a political operation providing a filter-free mega phone for the increasingly far right conservative movement. 

  • Roger Ailes laid the groundwork for the Trump candidacy.  Forget all the air time Ailes gave Trump once DJT came out as a rabid birther.  Ailes' #1 contribution was nurturing a gullible electorate - accepting Donald Trump as a reasonable candidate for the presidency of the United States is no more ludicrous than going along with the claim that Fox News is "fair & balanced."  T'ain't now, never was.

  • Roger Ailes is deaf dumb blind when it comes to his own faults, no matter how ludicrous it might seem.  Witness his cries that he's innocent of being a sexual predator, in spite of a) over a dozen women supporting with their own stories the allegations originally made by Gretchen Carlson; b) audiotapes by Carlson of Ailes being a sleaze; c) the fact that he was given the boot by the Murdochs (Carlson was paid $20 million to settle, but Ailes came out ahead, with a $40 million pay off out); d) the anointed Megyn Kelly was one of the women bringing the heel to heal. 

  • Roger Ailes demands utter loyalty without knowing the meaning of the word.

  • Roger Ailes will use any means he can to reach whatever ends he wants.

All you need to know about Donald Trump can be seen in Roger Ailes.  If you're up to stomaching a peek.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

new dynamic for the term "mixed messages"

Late this week, a discussion at Morning Joe centered on how weak the Trump campaign is due to entrenched mixed messaging.  Per Joe Scarborough, the mixed messaging cancels out all of them.

I disagree.

I think that his profound mixed messages means that his base of supporters can pick & choose which one suits them & blow off the rest. 

The bottom line is that Donald Trump's one constant is pitting American against American.  He is consistently successful at building up hate & tearing down trust.  I totally disagree with Mika that Donald Trump is unable to hew to a strategy.  He makes the strategy hew to him.

I totally get The Gray Lady's catty ways

It feels like the New York Times has always felt it had a bone to pick with the Clintons, especially Hillary.  

The conservative media absolutely abhorred her from Day One, a loathing that started before her snarky comments about not being the cookie-baking sort, seriously compounded with her response to Bill's blatant philandering, then down from there. But as much as conservative commentators had a blast tearing into Bill, Hillary was always ripped by the left & the right, by supposed friends as well as by determined foes.  Especially by The Gray Lady. 

Which got me thinking about my own animosity toward HRC, which is strangely unclear in spite of being deeply rooted.  Took me to the other day to realize that for me, and I suspect for many, the antipathy goes back to their earliest days.

Bill has always been straightforward.  A good old Southern boy who loved life & lives it large.  At sixteen, as his state's delegate to Boys Nation, the young man from "backwoods" Arkansas met President John F. Kennedy at the White House - his future house.  

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A few years later, he got his bachelors from Georgetown, then was off to Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar.  Already deeply involved in politics, he soaked in the English view of the 1968 presidential election, giving critiques of political events happening back home.

By the time Bill arrived at Yale to take his law degree, the good old boy had the sheen of accomplishment & a wide world view.  Charming, disarming, a natural bon vivant with the world at his feet.

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Hillary, born & bred in Chicago, had a very different path.  By the time she arrived at Yale to pursue her J.D., she was already someone primed to be considered politically suspect by many & toxic to any conservative.

Until 1968, she was a registered Republican.  In 1964, she was a major booster for Barry Goldwater; by 1968, the civil rights movement & the war had transformed her into a Eugene McCarthy supporter.  Her ability to make such a decisive shift in politics still makes her suspect to many, who wonder if she changed due to shifting ideological reasons or because liberal played better in the Ivies she attended.  

Think back over the past 8+ years & how conservatives have villified Barack Obama for being from Chicago, which is depicted as the very worst in political shenanigans.  With good cause - a corrupt voter count in The Windy City cost Richard Nixon the presidency in 1960.  Shenanigans that Hillary Rodham, already active as a Young Republican, saw for herself.  Today, all conservatives have to hear is that her hometown is Chicago & they expect the worst.  

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And worse it definitely gets, at least from the things in Hillary's early background that turn right-minded conservatives against her, which influences how many others feel about her, things that happened long before she met Bill.  

Hillary showed her liberal Republican chops by working for NY Gov. Nelson Rockefeller's 1968 bid against Richard Nixon for the GOP presidential nomination;  disheartened by the way the Nixon campaign painted Rockefeller & by the veiled racial messaging she heard at the convention, she switched parties.  

The biggest early nail in her coffin has to be that her senior thesis at Wellesley was a critique of that bogey man of the GOP, Saul Alinsky, a radical community organizer whose name we've all conservatives describe as practically the right hand of Satan.  My gosh, little did Hillary know that her goose was cooked even before graduation - where she was chosen to be the first student to ever give a graduation speech.  Then, it was onto Yale.  And Bill.

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This is where Hillary does something that is so deeply suspect to any true American - far from glamorous or even conventionally pretty, bookish  with a keep political mind, a self-avowed wonk (just a step up from nerd), she bagged a guy who was one of the most popular guys on campus.  That is not done!  What dark magic drew people-magnet, Phi Beta Kappa Bill to a relative squib like Hillary Rodham?  She lacked even a fraction of his natural charisma, her parents were well-off but far from wealthy, didn't have anything close to his political connections, wasn't particularly polished, her only travel was working her way across Alaska during one college summer.

And yet she nabbed William Jefferson Clinton.  

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More than anything else, I think this last bit of her biography is what opens people to feeling suspicious of Hillary - she was a nerdy girl who bagged the Big Man On Campus.  Clearly, Bill saw in her a counter-weight to his many gifts.  He was already recognized at having the star of greatness on his brow.  He recognized in her not the love mate that makes our hearts flutter, but the partner who would help bring out qualities that would move him along the path to greatness.  

And it happened, just that way.  

Hillary was Bill's ballast.  That's not very romantic, but it is impressive.  Whatever they lacked in romantic love, however he disrespected her with other women, they were true political compadres, joined at the heart & hip.  

That sort of pairing is not idealized in the USA.  If HRC & Bill hark back to FDR & Eleanor, another unlikely pairing that evolved into the supreme political coupling rather than a love match, they also rival the Roosevelts for the enmity they both - but especially Eleanor & Hillary - stir in American hearts.  

There's a litany of iffy & even seemingly dumb things that Hillary has done since giving up her swing at a brilliant law career to move back with Bill to Arkansas, since he went from governor to  president, since she became a US Senator, then Secretary of State to the first female presidential candidate.  

But the roots of The Gray Lady's catty ways, for the loathing so many of us - including me - feel toward Hillary Rodham Clinton seems set in things that have little to do with her ideology, her questionable judgement, what feels like barely ethical & possibly amoral ways.  They seem set in her being someone we can't get our heads around, the nebbishy girl who won the All-American All-Star guy.  And I think that has greater power than any of us realize.  

Countless millions can't stand HRC because we sense so profoundly that she's not one of us.  And that she doesn't care.  

THAT, we can't forgive.  

Friday, September 2, 2016

The Snake & unintended irony

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Fact:  For 20+ years, I have heartily disliked Hillary Rodham Clinton.  I came late to being a supporter.  

I was brought here by Donald John Trump.  One of the things that interests & scares the daylights out of me about DJT is his obvious lack of awareness in anything that doesn't touch Donald Trump.  This ruling quality lands him in interesting places & situations. 

Consider as the current story making the media rounds about him reciting at rallies Oscar Brown Jr's lyrics about a woman who, out of the tenderness of her heart, rescues & restores to health a frozen snake.  

In thanks for her efforts, the snake gives her a fatal bite.  When, in disbelief at the treachery, she asks why, the viper tells her, "You knew damn well I was a snake before you took me in."  

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Now, the tale is familiar to me, as it would be to my sibs, all of us being raised on Aesop's fables.  But to Donald Trump, this poem is a perfect allegory describing what we risk welcoming Syrian refugees. The unintended irony goes right over his head - the song is a perfect reflection of what to expect if America elects him president.  There will be no pivot to different behavior.  DJT will act as he always does, looking out for his interests rather than country's, let alone his followers' (to him, just another commodity), when he closes the deal & moves onto the next one, leaving them in shock & outrage.  

Just need to ever so lightly tweak that last line to yield the final irony - "You knew damn well I was a snake before you let me take you in."  

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