Editorial License

Rob Hammerton, music educator etc.

Fear and Loathing, Not Just in Las Vegas

I could’ve been writing for the Blogge, all this time.

Lord knows there’s been plenty to write about, as regards current events and such.

That’s the problem: way too much to write about. Or, more accurately, almost unfathomable outrages coming at me, one after the other, sometimes several in a single day, and who can keep up with that? Exhausting, dispiriting …

As my friends in the software business say: it’s not a bug. It’s a feature.

That. Is. The. Point.

Hurl everything at the American public – from substantive policies that genuinely hurt the vulnerable and benefit the utterly comfortable, to spurious name-calling spasms (the Hamilton flap, “Rocket Man”, the NFL’s kneeling SOBs) that nonetheless shine lights on important issues that we shouldn’t ignore either – and see whether they can withstand such an onslaught.

Throw the crazy at them (us) (We the People) so fast, so high and tight, with such unrelenting tennis-ball-machine-of-doom ferocity that they (we) can’t keep up; so we give up trying, give up paying attention, … and then it’s REALLY a jailbreak. If there are enough of us they can’t catch us all.

I didn’t truly grasp this reality, I don’t think, until this weekend, when I read a Twitter thread–

[Ed. note: this is the 21st century’s newest innovation: long-form Tweeting. Almost as if 140 characters really aren’t enough to express what we have to express. What could we call it? … yes! yes! an ESSAY!]

Ahem. I spotted a thread made up of fifty consecutive Tweets, posted by a University of New Hampshire professor of English named Seth Abramson, which expressed this reality so much better than I think I could have.

So, I shall yield the rest of my time to my learned colleague from Live Free or Die. See what you think.

[Ed. note: I’ve tried to do some clever writerly things that will transform Mr. Abramson’s thoughts from fifty blasts to several essay-form paragraphs.]

 

We need to never again discuss this man with respect to policy – it’s become more than clear in 9 months that he holds no policy positions. So if you support Donald Trump because of any view you claim he holds, I don’t ever want to hear from you again. The man holds no views. There is no position Donald Trump has ever taken that he has not, at some point in the past or present, taken the opposite position to.

We mustn’t ever discuss this man as someone “challenging the system” or any similar bromide. His White House is the most corrupt ever. Not one story of honorable conduct has emerged from this White House. Instead, it’s been lies, deception, corruption, graft, propaganda.

But the most important thing is this: this is the first U.S. president to systematically and willfully terrorize his own populace daily. His changeability is intended to keep us anxious and on guard. In fact, he’s admitted publicly, many times, that this is a tactic of his.

His corruption is equally studied: his business model has always been “get away with what you can,” and that’s exactly how he’s governed. He saw that he had a GOP Congress – and knew that his worst-case scenario was not getting re-elected to a job that he never really wanted. That’s why he hasn’t eliminated his conflicts of interest, delivered on his promises, “drained the swamp,” acted as any kind of leader. His presidency is a criminal enterprise designed to enrich his family and give him the attention his father clearly denied him as a kid.

He has no beliefs, no ambitions, no morals, no principles, no guidelines, no plans, no expectations. He simply needs to sow chaos daily. What Trump knows better than most is that America is a chaos machine – you feed it and it spits out attention, headlines, sometimes money.

I want to be very clear here: Donald Trump is a toxic human with a toxic public presence and – worst of all – he wants to poison his people. His reign will go down not just in U.S. history but human history as a reign of uncommon cruelty in the democracies of this millennium. It’s more than [the idea] that he’ll go down in our history as the worst president we’ll ever have – he’ll go down as one of our greatest villains. Benedict Arnold tried to betray America for a prior sovereign – Trump is trying to torture a nation that was good to him his whole life.

Have you noticed a change in your mood since January? I mean a change you can’t seem to escape? Anxiety, anger, fear, confusion, doubt? The most ubiquitous man in your nation is trying to poison you daily – because it gives him power – and no one’s stopping him from doing it. If you’ve seen a dramatic change lately in your personality, home life, belief in the nation you love – please know that you’re not alone. I’m not using hyperbole: you’re under attack. A deliberate, unprovoked, systematic, and – yes – evil attack. And it’s working. We’re losing.

When humans are [1] endangered, [2] confused and [3] hopeless, there are certain things we turn to – all of which Trump is deliberately stealing away.

Our fight or flight instinct – which Trump activates – can be quelled if we’re given respite, which is why Trump ensures [that] we have no respite. That’s why his tweets – which are intended to terrorize, and do – come in a daily barrage of needless conflict, warmongering, and cruelty. He must never stop tweeting, because his tweets now activate our culture in a way so inescapable that we’re almost like his prisoners. You think he’s attacking North Korea in his tweets? No – he’s trying to terrorize you. The NFL? You. Segments of America? No – all of us.

When humans are confused, we seek the stability of truth, trusted institutions, neighbors. He’s destroying those anchors systematically. “Fake news” isn’t about getting re-elected – it’s about controlling your fight-or-flight instinct by giving you no safe harbor in “truth.” Every institution we like or trust, he’s undermined. The media. Government. Unions. Hell – even the NFL. Veterans (when he feels like it). He’s enabled by the GOP – but he’s no Republican. He wants to destroy any politics or politician whose world he’s not at the center of. He’s a malignant narcissist, and his only ambition is to spread his toxicity nationwide in whichever ways feed his perverse pathology.

FIf you’re a Trump voter, by all means laugh it up. You’ll be caught in wars, recessions, and international collapse like the rest of us. He has 35% support because Americans love to be right/see fools suffer – and Trump voters think they’re on the right side of the equation. Time will show that we were all the fools – and whatever temporary satisfaction the Right got from annoying the Left wasn’t worth America.

Because the last thing – of the three I mentioned – [which] humans look for in a crisis is hope, and he’s systematically taking that away as well.

We don’t have hope [that] future elections will be fair. We don’t have hope [that] our government is working in our interests. We don’t have hope [that] we can trust and love our neighbors and they’ll trust and love us back. And we don’t have hope [that] things will start to make sense again.

Trump has declared war on America – crafting his own brand of “American carnage” – and some groups have felt the pain quicker than others. But only a fool fails to see that the pain and suffering that comes from having a madman as a leader is soon coming for every one of us.

Things are going to get very bad. And many fools will say, “Well – that’s America.” And America is deeply flawed. But we weren’t this. One in every few generations in the West, a leader arises so vile that he can draw out the evil from his population and weaponize it. Trump is not Hitler. There was only one Hitler. But Trump is the sort of Hitler that America in 2017 – at its very worst – can breed.

Everything evil a man can do to a country like this, at a time like this, in a span of four or eight years, Donald Trump will try to do. He’ll try to make the vulnerable live in fear. He’ll position himself as unreviewable by the media and government. He’ll sow confusion. And when his crimes are uncovered – and he’s been a villain and criminal his whole adult life – he’ll try to stoke violence to save himself.

Trump is the most dangerous American of all our lifetimes – he’s so dangerous we can’t fully apprehend the danger or how to respond to it. He’s everything people say – a pathological liar; a corrupt politician; a serial sexual assailant; and, yes, a traitor – but he’s also more. He’s an actually evil presence that hangs over your life – and the life of a nation you love – every single day. And he may be unstoppable.

Is there any reason to trust future election results – now that we know Russia is hacking/interfering and Trump’s doing zero to stop it? And is there any reason to think the damage Trump has done to our political system can be solved in just a single American generation? And as he plunges us deeper into our Longest War and tries to start World War III in Asia, can we be certain lasting doom isn’t ahead?

My point: there is only one fight in America today that matters, because all other fights are ultimately a direct corollary to this one. If we want to save ourselves – and our country – Trump must be legally, peacefully and transparently removed from a position of power. ASAP.

P.S. It’s OK to finally indulge the idea that everything is as bad as you think it is if hitting rock-bottom gives you the courage to FIGHT.

 

#resist

#remove

September 25, 2017 Posted by | current events, government, news, politics, Twitter | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Axis of Awful

Just this week:

Saturday 2/18:

Popular domestic programs could face budget cuts. Trump’s budget office has drafted a hit list of programs that could be eliminated or have their domestic spending trimmed. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Legal Services Corporation, AmeriCorps, and the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities are on that list. Most of the programs cost under $500 million annually, a pittance for a government that is projected to spend about $4 trillion this year. (via The New York Times)

Monday 2/20:

Trump to roll back Obama’s climate and water pollution rules through executive action. While both directives will take time to implement, they will send an unmistakable signal that the new administration is determined to promote fossil-fuel production and economic activity even when those activities collide with some environmental safeguards. (via The Washington Post)

Republican health proposal would redirect money from poor to rich. The Republican plan would substantially cut funding for states in providing free insurance to low-income adults through Medicaid. And would change how tax credits are distributed by giving all Americans not covered through work the same flat credit by age, regardless of income. The draft proposal largely contains provisions that could be passed through a special budget process that requires only 50 Senate votes, and fulfills President Trump’s promise that the repeal and replacement of the law would take place “simultaneously.” (via The New York Times)

Tuesday 2/21:

Anne Frank Center criticizes Trump’s denouncement of anti-Semitism a “pathetic asterisk of condescension”. Trump refused to address a series of bomb threats against Jewish community centers when asked about the threats by a Jewish journalist last week. Trump cut the journalist off and said “I hate even the question.” The White House’s statement on Holocaust Remembrance Day also left out any mention of Jews. (via Talking Points Memo)

Wednesday 2/22:

The Trump administration plans to roll back protections for transgender students, reversing federal guidance that required the nation’s public schools to allow children to use the bathrooms and locker rooms that matched their gender identities. (via The Washington Post)

Thousands of emails show that the E.P.A. chief worked to battle environmental regulation as attorney general of Oklahoma. Scott Pruitt, now head of the Environmental Protection Agency, closely coordinated with major oil and gas producers, electric utilities, and political groups to roll back environmental regulations.

Thursday 2/23:

Voter to @SenTomCotton: My husband is dying. We can’t afford health insurance. What kind of insurance do you have? https://t.co/iYFiZtwJ1F” (via CNN Twitter feed)

Today, Friday 2/24:

Republican lawmakers expect that their Obamacare replacement will result in fewer Americans covered by health insurance. The new plan would do away with the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that all Americans have health coverage or pay a fine, and replace it with rules that let people choose not to buy insurance, instead paying higher premiums or penalties if they need it later. The result would be fewer people covered. (via Bloomberg)

 

When does “amoral” become “immoral”?

The Toddler-in-Chief, and his pirate-band Cabinet, and the cowardly Republican Congressional majority that supports them all … they all represent the absolute worst of humanity: they display exactly no trace of actual humanity.

Instead, their policies and behaviors are full of selfishness, greed, utter lack of compassion, complete absence of empathy, and almost-recreational cruelty.

Their idea of fairness is preserving the rights of us rich straight white guys via the taking away of rights from anybody who doesn’t look or think or worship or love like we do. They got theirs; and screw the rest of y’all.

They seem to revel in activities that make miserable the lives of the most vulnerable people.

Even in previous corrupt administrations, at least there was a veneer of civilization. Not so, now. The brazenness is breathtaking: they’re corrupt and horrible … they know what it looks like … they don’t care how awful it looks … they Do. Not. Care.

We are truly in a kakistocracy: government by the worst people.

Resist, yes.

Reject, yes.

But also this: It’s long past time; but no time like the present. RISE UP.

RISE UP.

February 24, 2017 Posted by | civil rights, current events, government, news, politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

On Oaths, With Occasional Swearing

Foreword:

(A blog post gets a foreword? Yes.)

With apologies: this blog post has grown like Topsy since just before Christmas, partly because of the careening nature of life here at the home of the Blogge, but mostly because of the careening nature of current events. Think you’ve got a handle on the news? Half a day later, there’s an event, or a quote, or something, out there that eclipses what you thought was at the extreme end of possibility.

This post originally started at the Senatorial oath you see quoted in indented-paragraph form below. Shortly thereafter, the post’s topic (target?) – sure enough – did something that may not have eclipsed his previous achievement but assuredly added to the near-cartoonish sense of are you even kidding me?

So I thought I had a new, fresh beginning to the post, which I could place at the beginning of what I thought was the original essay. That fresh beginning begins with the words, “Okay. First thing”, below.

So … a gentle addition, edition, both, whatever, not too complicated; run that baby!

And then, today, in a classic Friday night news dump, a declassified version of a US intelligence-community report was released. The headline in The Hill read: “Declassified report: Putin ordered election interference to help Trump”.

Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process, denigrate Secretary [Hillary] Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump,” the report reads.

We also assess Putin and the Russian Government aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him.”

The bombshell document details the intelligence community’s findings but provides little in the way of forensic evidence backing up its assessment, citing the need to protect sources and methods. [Italics mine.]

While the conclusions in the report are all reflected in the classified assessment, the declassified report does not and cannot include the full supporting information, including specific intelligence and sources and methods,” the report reads.

and it brought my original post screaming back into relevance.

 

Okay. First thing. This brief moment of utter hypocrisy:

The headline reads, “[Sen.] Mitch McConnell [(R. – Ky.)] Says Americans Won’t Tolerate Democrats Blocking Supreme Court Nominations”. The writer continues, “McConnell’s admonition that the American public may not put up with prolonged Democratic obstruction is curious in light of his own plan to not lift a finger on any of Obama’s nominees.”

Curious” is not exactly the word I would use.

Two words: Merrick Garland. 294 days without a hearing. The longest time for a Supreme Court nominee to go without a hearing in the last 100 years.

Two other words: Sen. McConnell, you really honestly don’t care that you sound like an utter, utter hypocrite, right out in the open, do you? It’s not okay if you Democrats want to do it, but it’s perfectly fine and in fact clever and smart if I do it. Tremendous.

Two other words (I know, I know; go with the joke): there’s something else about Mitch McConnell that is related to that — but much, much more important. And it applies to a comparable number of other Washington politicians.

 

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.”

     -Oath of office for United States Senators (emphases added)

Lemme see if I got this straight.

You’re telling me that in September … well before the Presidential election … the CIA briefed the “Gang of 12”, an inauspiciously-named group of Congressional leaders from both sides of the political aisle. And in this briefing, the CIA reported that seventeen separate US intelligence agencies felt they had credible evidence that Russian intelligence agencies had carried out cyber-activity intended specifically to support the Republican candidate for the US presidency.

Senate Democrats reportedly were unanimous in their recommendation to release this news to the American public. But Sen. Mitch McConnell, US Senator from Kentucky, United States Senate majority leader, advocated not doing so.

I’ll say it here, although it should be so clear as to not need to be expressed: Mitch McConnell should be charged with treason.

Read on.

He saw evidence that a foreign government was interfering with a US presidential election – not conspiring to generically and non-specifically reduce confidence in our concept of Democracy, but conspiring to AFFECT the election in the favor of their preferred candidate. A foreign power had attempted to interfere with this country’s election. This interference might even rise to the level of an act of war against the United States. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, and did, nothing. No – sorry – worse: he advocated actively keeping this information from the voters who could have used this knowledge; which is to say, all of them. All of us.

So much for representative government. So much for being a public servant.

So much for loyalty to one’s own country. So much for upholding one’s oath of office.

So much for professed love for and adherence to the US Constitution.

Treason.

This is treason.

It is nothing but.

I’d be saying this if it were merely (!) the sanctity of an election that was at stake here.

But there’s another layer to this.

This summer, the Democratic National Committee website was hacked, AND the Republican National Committee website as well, by Russian intelligence organizations. The Russians released what they found in the DNC website. They did not release anything they found in the RNC database. The Russians released, effectively, opposition research for the benefit of the Republican candidate. They did not release anything like that for the benefit of the Democratic candidate.

Just what did they find out about the Republican candidate for president? About other Republican candidates for other national offices? About members of the RNC staff and leadership? About people who are up for appointed (not elected) Cabinet positions within the coming Republican administration, who have business ties to Russian interests? … What did they find out about them, what bits of tantalizing information, which they knew they could hold back, the better to use in an effort to blackmail any of them, in the future? Or to influence US economic and foreign policy to benefit themselves?

And if I know this (thanks to reputable, not fake-news, sources) … surely Mitch McConnell knew it.

Traitor.

Treason.

McConnell knew.

And McConnell’s not the only one.

But we can start there.

If McConnell knew, the rest of the security-clearance-laden Republican Gang of 12 members knew. Trump, the de facto head of the Republican Party (and the loser of the popular vote) knew. And it is documented that not a one of the Republican members of the Gang of 12 wanted the American public to know.

At the very least, Sen. McConnell put the interests of the American public – our interest in knowing that our elections are conducted in a remotely fair way, and our interest in being aware that a foreign country was making cyberspatial war on us – second. He put his own interests – financial and power-oriented – first.

He was willing and happy to look the other way, when he was among the few people who could have looked straight at what was happening, and said something about it.

And for what?

Maintaining his power and personal fortune? And that of his friends, and family?

(“Must make sure that my wife, Elaine Chao, will still receive a Cabinet-level appointment in the coming Republican administration. Must not keep this from happening.”)

This is treason.

McConnell is a traitor.

And again, it’s not just McConnell.

But it’s a great place to start, perhaps to head off or at least shine a light upon what is actually happening here.

We are looking at a coup.

The Russian government wants to control the American government. And this is cheaper than starting an actual shooting war; and they get the benefits of any part of the American economy that any of Trump’s hired minions control. Rex Tillerson, CEO of ExxonMobil, who would have made a $500 billion deal with a Russian oil company if the US government hadn’t meddled with pesky sanctions against Russia, a short time ago … is the current nominee for US Secretary of State. Hmmmmmm. It all starts to make sense now.

McConnell will never be charged with treason, of course. How silly to think so. The US Congress is in Republican-majority hands, and (I would judge, based on my observations of at least the past six years of that Republican Congressional majority) nothing will keep Republican members of Congress from choosing the good of their party over the good of their country. How I know this is: the fish rots from the head down. The head of Republican congressional leadership is Mitch McConnell, and Mitch McConnell puts party before country. What are his Congressional underlings supposed to do, after all, but rot?

They are cowards. Cartoonishly corrupt cowards. Cowards who seem largely willing to be seen as such, and who seem not to care how cartoonishly corrupt they look. They’ll get theirs, and screw the rest of y’all.

And because these cowards are wealthy (you need to be wealthy nowadays in order even to run for national office), and sheltered (tax- and otherwise; thanks to their guaranteed Congressional lifelong salaries and health insurance coverage, they will never know want) … they will likely never be made to feel the repercussions of their cowardice. They’ll even likely be rewarded for it. Again: they’ll get theirs, and screw the rest of y’all.

The list of corrupt, Constitutionally-challenged cowards starts with Mitch McConnell.

And so, he should be called what he is – and so should everyone in Washington who knew something, but did nothing.

Traitor.

Treason.

This is treason.

It is nothing but.

 

[Ed. Note: Two weeks … fourteen days … until we inaugurate a dangerously unstable person – who will have the assistance of a Congress whose partisan majority is comprised of hypocritical, corrupt cowards.

[RESIST. REJECT.]

January 6, 2017 Posted by | current events, government, news, politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment