Trump’s Hollow Honoring of the Fallen

For a few minutes I watched Donald Trump give a Memorial Day address and that’s all I could take.   His displays of pseudo sincerity are always sickening, but worse yet when he pretends to care about those who lost their lives protecting our shores and our way of life over the years.

Donald Trump cares little about anyone but himself and maybe some of his family to some extent.  Ivanka, yes. As for the others?  I realize that is exceedingly harsh, but I have spent hours and hours reading, watching and thinking about him over the past year and I have no doubt about it.  There is something basically wrong with this guy.

Tony Schwartz,  the “co-author” of the Art of the Deal, sees Trump in the same way.  And he actually spent much time over the course of a year with Trump, so I doubt few know the man better.  I put co-author in quotes because Schwartz says he actually wrote the book, with Trump making a few minor corrections.

Schwartz also has said that Trump could not sit still for an interview for more than a few minutes, so he had to follow him around and listen in on phone conversations and piece together the book from that.  Fairly recently, he said that if he could rewrite the book, he would call it:  The Sociopath.

Many have debated whether Trump has a narcissistic personality disorder or he is a sociopath.  Hey, why not a bit of both?   Both cases share an extreme preoccupation with oneself and a lack of empathy and care for others.  Most thought provoking to me about the rise of Trump is that so many of his fans still don’t see this, but as he said, he could shoot someone on New York’s 5th Avenue and they still would vote for him.

A wave of public insanity that will foster many a book in coming years.

Schwartz has expressed regret many times over this past year or so for helping Trump produce a winning public image through the book and he finds it truly “frightening” the man is president with the nuclear codes in his possession.

I share the uneasiness to be sure, which is why I meant to write this post to examine what seems the most stable element of the Trump administration, Secretary of Defense James Mattis,  I want to share some highlights of a recent article on him because while Trump is ignorant of history and so much else – shallow to the core – Mattis is knowledgeable and thoughtful which means a lot given the inexperience and toadyism of so many of those around him.

Think of this post as a preamble to the next one.

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President Trump’s Address to Congress: Free Lunch for All.

President Trump got generally good reviews for his address to congress Tuesday night.

According to various surveys, Trump’s supporters loved the speech, not surprisingly, but even a majority of Americans polled who watched said they felt more optimistic having heard it.  His tone was surprisingly upbeat and uniting, except for those who don’t believe a word he says.  One Democrat described it as “same lies, different tone.”  I’d say the same B. S, but different tone, but let’s not quibble.

Still, the difference in tone was significant, presidential even, and the positive response to the speech of many confirms that.  But can this tone be kept given his temperament amidst a hostile political environment?  Furthermore Trump keeps making sweeping promises that seem impossible to keep because congress will have to get behind them and congress is divided, not just between the two parties but within each.

First:  Trump’s agenda is budget breaking – no, budget exploding – and many in the Republican party have built their careers on criticizing government for over spending and accumulation of debt.  Second:  The senate barely has a Republican majority, so only three Republican “mavericks” are needed to block any of Trump’s agenda, and Lindsay Graham and John McCain  have indicated opposition to several of Trump’s proposals, so that’s two right there.  Third:   There are all those Democrats to deal with.

However, while the Democrats figure to offer opposition often, they may be easier to deal with at times then the Republicans.  The Democrats seem split as to whether to resist all that Trump proposes, as the Republicans did with President Obama, or to just resist some things and work with him on others, like tax reform and/or building infra-structure.

Even though Trump’s selection of a generally conservative cabinet and a supreme court nominee has pleased the right, I think in typical Trump fashion he is only committed to himself and his need to appear successful.   If Republicans resist and deals can be made with Democrats I can see him making them.

And I might even like one here or there.  I’m not one of those resist-everything liberals.  I disliked the Republican party identity being reduced to being the Un-Obama party and I don’t want to see the Democratic party follow suit with Trump.

But no matter how it shakes out, Trump’s fantasied future faces a number of reality checks down the line.   And I will be curious to see what his free lunch is going to cost and who will be willing or forced to pay for it.


P. S. – For those who want to read a good analysis of Trump’s speech, I suggest this piece by Cathleen Decker in the Los Angeles Times.    She sums up the essence in one sentence.

“Trump shifts from doom-and-gloom to a more optimistic vision.  But he offers no clarity on how he’ll get there.”

The Inevitable Destruction of the Republican Party

Maybe it’s not inevitable, but is sure looks like it from here.

In case you’re just coming out of a coma, Donald Trump thrashed his opponents for the Republican presidential nomination in last night’s primary, winning seven states while Ted Cruz won three and Marco Rubio won one.   Of course, there are a lot more primaries to take place, but the trend seems clear.  The losing camps like to point out that Trump really is getting only about 35% of the votes, indicating that leaves about 65% of Republicans against him.

The problem with that is none of his opponents plan on dropping out soon and it is unclear if any of them does, where their votes would go.   For example, the camps of Cruz and Rubio are far from close, so if Cruz would drop out a lot of his votes would go to Trump.   At the moment the path to the nomination now looks like a red carpet for the Donald.

Except that prominent figures in that vague collection called the “Republican establishment” seem willing to try anything to sabotage a man who at times seems more liberal than conservative, has no real plans for anything and is outrageously crass whenever he feels like it.  In short they cannot stomach the thought of Trump being the current personification of “the party of Lincoln and Reagan.”

The specter of a Trump nomination has driven Senator Lindsey Graham to admit with clinched teeth that he would even prefer Ted Cruz to Donald Trump.  That’s quite a statement from a guy who has joked that if Cruz was murdered on the senate floor, no one would be found guilty.   If you don’t get the joke, he was suggesting how disliked Cruz is by his fellow Senators, probably so since he does not have even one endorsement from them.

Things are so bad that I see various noteworthy Republicans state they won’t vote for Trump if he’s nominated, and hear much talk of plans to prevent his getting the necessary 1237 votes to win the nomination outright.  While none of the others appears capable of beating him, together they may well get enough votes to leave the matter unsettled until the convention in Cleveland in July.

Hence, a floor fight or perhaps more accurately, a gang cage match.

What might happen there boggles the mind.  Except it cannot be good for the Republican party.  It is hard to imagine a majority of delegates rallying around either Cruz or Rubio, which might leave Ohio governor Kasich as the default choice.   Being a popular governor of the state and having a positive campaign not really attacking the others he wouldn’t be a bad candidate – actually a good one in normal times – but the Trump fans are close to a religion at this point, zealots for change no matter what, and if Trump is “robbed” of the nomination, no way they’ll vote same ‘ol, same ‘ol Republican if they vote at all.

The image of Humpty Dumpty comes to mind.

Donald Trump: King of the Birthers

I began to think of Donald Trump as a clown when he became king of the birthers several years ago.  Prior to that I thought of him as a publicity hound who got plenty of what he wanted.  But when he pushed the birther agenda he went beyond his own life and added to the distorted political consciousness of our nation.  And it was distorted aplenty before that.

That also raised my contempt for the Republican leaders who acted like innocents as to whether Obama was Kenyan born, as if they thought he might be. I also was disgusted with journalists who allowed Trump to get away with implications of what his crack investigators learned about Obama’s birth.  Always implying solid information, while never producing any, and never pressed to do so.

Now Trump refers to the great scholars who question that the 14th amendment really includes what he calls “anchor babies,” but once again the press doesn’t press for names.  That’s how falsehoods are allowed to stand and blossom into the “truthiness,” that Steven Colbert has mocked so well.

A recent poll concludes that 61% of Trump fans believe Obama was born in Kenya, while 62% think he’s a secret Muslim.  Other polls are considerably lower.  What seems more believable to me is is 30 to 40% in those categories.  (In these ornery times I can imagine some respondents giving false answers to screw with the pollsters).  Whatever the exact per cent is, it’s a lot of people who believe in nonsense, nonsense that is having a surprisingly big impact on our presidential race.

This morning I did some googling in search of an understanding of how so many people could still be convinced Obama was born in Kenya.  Well, there is plenty of information on the net to support that idea if you want to find it.  Nothing that I find credible, though.

My favorite is a video which claims to be Obama admitting to his Kenyan birth, which actually is Obama mocking the idea at a White House Correspondents dinner. There he said he had a birther video of his own and then played a segment from The Lion King.  I’m sitting here wondering just how low an I. Q. level it takes to miss the joke.

There is also a Kenyan birth certificate which upon examination seems to have the authenticity of a three dollar bill.

The most convincing bit of evidence that I could find was that: “A 1991 literary client list booklet listed Barack Obama as having been born in Kenya.”   I checked it on Snopes.com and they said it was “true”.   But they said much more, that the folks at the (right wing) Britebart News prefaced their providing the information by saying that while they believed Obama was born in Hawaii, they wanted to share the information as an indication of Obama’s misrepresentation of his ideology.

As if to say:  It’s not our fault if others use this to distort the truth.  As Snopes goes on to detail, the woman who edited that bio-pic later said that the Kenya birth was a “fact checking error” by her tied to her having little information on Obama at the time.   I suggest you read the Snopes piece as the details illuminate how truthiness is generated.

So, for those who can’t stand President Obama, you can find “evidence” he was born in Kenya, as long as you take the spurious information at face value.

By the way, I have long wondered why neither side of the birther debate has tried to establish where Obama’s mom was at his birth.  I have never seen anyone try to prove she was in Kenya at the time, only that he was born there.   Wouldn’t she have had to be there, too.?

THE TRUMP SHOW CONTINUES: The Second Republican Debate

Donald Trump’s unique achievement has been to turn politics into entertainment by being the most entertaining of the candidates.  Tonight figures to be another big show.  If it is, I think the Donald’s numbers are safe.   Trump’s support will not go down until his fans have become tired of his shtick, just as fans of any popular TV show drop off over time.  The novelty loses its magic.  The tension now lies in our not knowing how long he can keep the show going.

The curiosity for me is which other candidate or candidates jump up their poll numbers tonight and how they do it.

If I were in a position to ask the Donald a question, I’d ask him to explain what he meant by saying he was an “entertainer”  in response to criticism for his comment about Carly Fiorina (“Would you vote for this face?”)  Is he implying that an entertainer should be judged differently than a politician?

I think he revealed much with that comment, surprisingly so, like an actor in a movie who gives an aside to the audience and then returns to character.   He and the character are not one and the same.   Trump’s authenticity isn’t as authentic as it seems.

I think many of his fans see the actor in Trump, but it doesn’t matter as long as they like the script.

But enough of that……   To go beyond the entertainment factor, how should we judge these candidates as presidential timber?  According to conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin there are seven things to look for in candidates who are not ready to be president .

Though I seldom agree with her on other topics, like her estimation of Obama (“feckless”), I think she’s an astute critic of her own party.  It might be interesting to read the list below and guess who she might be referring to and then go to her column for elaboration and her suggested culprits:

  1. If you plead on a major issue that it is a hypothetical ….. you are not ready for prime time.
  2. If you say you will have “advisers for that” in reference to major policy decisions or a basic understanding of the world, you are not ready for prime time.
  3. If you delight in creating chaos, you are not ready for prime time.
  4. If you make a martyr out of a government employee who refuses to do her job in compliance with the law (common law, statute or constitutional decision), you are not ready for prime time.
  5. If you declare you are in favor of a constitutional amendment to address some issue, you are not ready for prime time.
  6. If you attack the questioner or the question, you are not ready for prime time.
  7. If you promise to “abolish the IRS,” build a wall along the entire Mexican (or Canadian) border, get rid of the National Security Agency (instead only gather information on known terrorists) or start a trade war with China, you are not ready for prime time.