No Dangerfield, this Don

Quote:  “I get no respect,” (tag line of insult comedian Rodney Dangerfield)

In the news:  “Man insulted at New Hampshire rally by Trump because of weight says, “I love the guy.”  (Reuters,  8.16.19)

In context:  Almost 100 years ago, psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud described humor as an outlet for aggression.  About 50 years ago, the insult humor genre came into vogue along with the spread of television sets in American homes.  While the genre ran its course long ago, it has resurfaced with the rise of Donald Trump.

As a world leader, Trump himself is a joke.  By definition in ihe Cambridge English Dictionary, a leader is one who heads a group based on ability or position.  Donald Trump leads by virtue of his position but he is obviously lacking in the ability to perform the duties of his office.

Trump is ignorant about the significance of historical context.  He pulls out of accords achieved over decades that took into consideration the vastly conflicting interests of the involved parties.  He does not work well with others.  True leaders of any group readily  admit they depend on input from experts in discrete fields within the range of their concerns.  Army Generals rely on Colonels, who Sargeants, who rely on Lieutenants and so forth.  Trump increasingly goes it alone, systematically replacing experts with those he can rely on to implement his vision.

The Trump vision is hazy at best.  “Nice letters” and “nice conversations” with global tyrants are Trump’s criteria for steering US international relations.  From his conduct since taking up residence in the Oval Office, it seems clear that Donald Trump is out of his element.  He hires and fires with a zeal more apt for a TV reality show than with a confidence aimed at securing a country and with that, the world.

The scars of past failures may be haunting the President in the loftiness of his current position.  Six gargantuan bankruptcies, however, never took the wind from his sails.  He simply moved on to more easily accessible sources of funding, with attached strings that remain unknown to this day.  Moreover, in the White House he is gambling with taxpayer money, not his own.  That guarantee should build his confidence and undoubtedly does.  Except that the obstructionists foil his ploys.

The support of the Republican Senate under Moscow Mitch is indispensable to carrying out the Trump agenda even from the bureaucratically encumbered Oval Office, but now there is oversight from the democratic Congress that doggedly noses into legal and financial trails however Trump dodges them.  Ever worse is the piercing, prying eye of the pesky American Constitutionally protected right of a free press.  With all America’s mighty powers at his fingertips and yet thwarted by safeguards, Trump vents his frustration by pivoting from outright aggressive policies to insults he claims are humor.

A common feature of the 1960-70’s insult humor form of entertainment was self-deprecation.  The comic admitted a flaw in himself and then took an adversersarial position with a target in the audience.  As equals, the comic and the mark carried out a ritual of “festive abuse.”  Rodney Dangerfield made a career out of working out his aggressive tendencies that resulted from some inferiority affliction through such exchanges.  “I was so ugly when I was born that the doctor slapped my mother,” Rodney joked before he insulted anyone in the audience.

Donald Trump could never be a Rodney Dangerfield however he insults people in the outmoded Dangerfield tradition.  The Trump trademark is gasconade, an elaborate boasting about abilities he doesn’t have.

For however long Trump holds his office as President of the United States, it is better that he work out his aggressions as a pretender to the title of insult comedian than for him to sit in the Oval Office.  The country gets into trouble when Trump assumes the dignity of his office to conjure new plans for how to create moral mayhem to insure that the media spotlight stays on his antics and not on his machinations.

However odious to many and however disingenuous the claim of humor for downright offensive and incendiary comments, that is among the least of Trump outrages.  As long as the Trump rally doesn’t mind being ridiculed, it is more worthwhile to point out to the more objective audience at home that Trump is a failure, even as a stand-up insult comic.

 

 

 

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Toxic Trump

Quote:  Anger is like drinking poison and expecting another to die (Buddha)

In the news:  We Can No Longer Ignore Trump’s Role in Inspiring Mass Shootings (Mehdi Hasan, Intercept, 8.04.19)

In context:  A toxic person may be hard to define but it sure is easy to spot one.  SNL has a skit about a couple who arrive late to a dinner and take over the event with wild stories of adventures that bore and drown out everyone else.  A toxic love is such an effect of one person on another, which describes the relationship between Donald Trump and his base.

The rational mind plays a minimal role in love at its best.  In toxic love the faculty of reason plays an opposing function.  The more that family and friends object to the union based on its effects, the more that the special bond is reinforced between the toxic lover and the unwitting partner.  It proves that outsiders don’t understand, they don’t speak the same unspoken language of soul to soul communication, or mind-meld as Dr. Spock of Star Trek would describe.

Parties to a toxic love enter into the arrangement as voluntarily as anyone smitten by Cupid’s arrow.  Both people gain from the companionship of togetherness.  In toxic love, however, the joys become drowned by conflict as the needs of one exert undue pressure on the one who meets them.  The bond of love deepens with every investment made when a storm is weathered together until some climatic event severs the union irreparably.  Unfortunately, this often in the form of a catastrophe.

Following such a break and premised on survival, the toxic one will either face legal consequences or go on to new conquests.  The driving needs are stronger than the ties that bind.  The healthy partner on the other hand, who is now left alone, betrayed, abandoned or simply devastated, lost and stuck with fallout, will spend years or a lifetime parsing the volley of choices that led to the current condition.  There were obvious forks in the road that led to continued loyalty instead of an earlier exit.  In chastened memory, the beloved will morph from a heroic rebel into a dizzying control freak.  Through a bruised and wounded worldview, the healthy survivor will recognize that toxic love isn’t blind, it wears 3-D kaleidoscopic goggles.

Outsiders can clearly see that Donald Trump is a toxic person who has found a willing partner in his base.  Whatever charms Trump may possess are certainly under the radar in his current media persona as US President.  His face is everywhere and it rankles as much as his message and words.

Most people like to be soothed and inspired by a leader, but a good swathe of the Trump base likes his approach to leading the country.  It’s a good chance that others grow more uneasy with every crisis weathered in which Donald Trump was not a participating partner.  After the rally, once the spewed venom has performed its function as a cathartic to the disenchanted, the base goes home alone, some to stock up on firearms and the others to question why Trump insulted and blamed and why he didn’t say he was happy to see the gathered and that he appreciated their support.

“Love me or hate me, you gotta vote for me ’cause your 401K is going down the tubes,”  Trump told supporters at a NH rally.  That is a threat, a mechanism of toxic love.  It is not a plea for mutually tackling a challenge.

Trump may not realize he’s toxic.  His gargantuan needs gobble his attention.  There is nothing left for others.  But for the lucky who escape toxic relationships, the breaking point comes in many forms. The most satisfying is the one in which a new love arrives. to remind the smitten one that healthy love simply feels good.

Speak Up, Dems, the Ruskies R Here

Quote:  Man has no more tormenting care than to find someone in whom he can hand over…freedom (Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov, 1879)

in the news:   Report: US is underestimating Putin’s “Grand Strategy” for Russian Dominance (Ursula Perano, Zachary Basu, Axios, 6.30.19)

In context:  Birds of a feather flock together and America’s flighty President has a covey of friends whose status last no longer than a photo-op before he’s done with them.  Trump’s penchant for dictators is alarming enough to freedom-loving Americans, but his naivete with regard to Russia’s Vladimir PutHis sounds a death knell for democracy worldwide if left unchecked.

Russia has big plans for dominating the world and it is no better at achieving its goals than America’s current president Donald Trump.  A 1917 Russian revolution led through a violent path to a Russian take-over of neighbors and half of Europe.  That Communist experiment flopped after 40 years but not before it laid waste to countless lives and the natural resources of  others.

A massive failure like that of Soviet Communism may have daunted some but Russia recouped by regrouping into an oligarchy.  The aim was the same under both systems, to plunder the wealth of others because Russia had none of its own.

Whether ignorant of history or simply not caring about anything beyond the current moment in the media spotlight, Trump and Putin confab tete-a-tete at international affairs with no no honor of US protocols.  Russia’s version of events based on its protocols is suspect for good reason.  A recent nuclear disaster was first ignored, then hashed with conflicting reports to the public.  That is Russia’s way and Donald Trump is fine with the method, perhaps taking tips from Vladimir Putin on how to apply the principles to his own more open and scrupulously lawful society.

For sure there are huge gaps in applying the laws of the United States and Donald Trump is a master at dodging through them.  Nevertheless, the laws have been passed and they serve as a basis for redress when breached.  That’s a big difference between the US and the countries whose leaders Donald Trump considers trusted pals.  America’s laws are based on a Constitution that heavily emphasises human rights.  The Constitutions of Russia and China have no such guarantees and that’s the basis on which Vladimir Putin plans to dominate the world.

Trump seems to favor the Russian approach to treating his country’s people.  Putin may his personal advisor.   America’s police are trained to be humane.  Trump tells them to be ruthless.  The Trump crackdown on immigrants could be a page from the Russian playbook.  Millions were slaughtered in the periods around the Revolution.  Moscow Mitch who dominates the Senate may have been a Putin brainchild with an Oligarch thrown in to sweeten the deal with a factory in a relevant state.

The KGB-trained Putin may be considered a pal by Trump but Putin is certainly no friend of America if he is hell-bent on dominating the world.  The test run in Eastern Europe after the Second World War may have failed but Putin is resourceful and hasn’t given up.  After the Chernobyl disaster now comes the “Floating Chernobyl” off the coast of Alaska.  Trump dismisses the importance of all these developments.  It a signal to Putin that he has found America to be his next mark.

Putin is the big game hunter who has conned the American master con.  He has succeeded beyond his wildest expectations when he installed Trump by methods Trump convincingly sells to his base as a hoax.  To Putin, the Trump presidency might be likened to opening a set of Russian nesting dolls.  Take off the big top one, the others  fall out right in line.

A third of America makes up the smaller nesting dolls behind Trump.  They are a formidable portion of the Putin plan for Russian domination of the world.  In the freedom of America, they admire the Trump lawlessness and they find comfort in building walls to keep away outsiders.  They may even tolerate cruelty, lies and the lack of method to his madness with tyrants, but every aherent, however ardent, has a breaking point.

Part of the American democratic process is to conduct polls assessing public opinion.  As part of this survey, someone should skip a question about health care, race, favorability or electability.

The question to ask instead, is how the respondent would feel if prison were the consequence for backing a candidate other than the person currently in the White House.

Stranger Than Fiction Trump

Quote:  Truth is stranger than fiction; fiction has to make sense (Mark Twain and others w/ variations Quote Investigator, Financial Times)

In the news:  Trump’s Influence is Spreading Like a Virus (Michael D/Antonio, CNN, 8.10.19)

In context:  The truth about Donald Trump is that he doesn’t make sense.  Even science fiction has to have a plausible story line from start to finish for the situation to be believable or else it doesn’t satisfy the reader.  No such restriction holds back Trump.  Adept as he is with delivery, the barrage of his incredible whoppers leaves no room to discern that the lies defy reason.

Global chaos is the outcome of a US presidency that has turned the US topsy-turvy in  the world’s eyes.  For one thing, the world is obviously globalizing and the US has led the effort in smoothing the difficult process.  Out of nowhere, Trump turns back the clock, scuttles hard won regional agreements and inserts himself as the lone savior in America’s relations with nearly 200 other countries, most of which have learned hard lessons from centuries of conflict capped by two world wars.  Even dictators with a stranglehold on their fiefdoms rely on alliances.  North Korea counts China as a friend and Russia under Putin sends oligarchs to pick pockets.  Whirligig Trump goes it alone in the name of the US, whose people are given a Trump say-so about the outcome.  That’s a tall order for America about a leader who dances to a drummer nobody else hears and by outward signs doesn’t seem to exist.

The thought that I’m right and everybody else is wrong is one definition of insanity.  Another is to repeat an action over and over while expecting a different result.  Both those views could apply to Donald Trump but in the America he has created and with the position he holds, the notion cannot be proven and if it was, the diagnosis would not stick.  Throwing mud to roil the waters is Trump’s forte and his saving grace from a verdict of insanity is that he has an endpoint which is greed.

Avarice is extreme greed and gluttony is habitual greed.  Trump fits both those categories with a show of zeal that belongs in the Guiness Book of World Records since he became President of the US.

By numerous accounts, neither Trump nor his cohorts believed he would be elected President based on the vitriol he spewed so obscenely during the campaign.  Evidence indicates he had ample outside help and then with the mighty US powers in hand, he began to make hay. since he couldn’t know how long the bonanza would last.  He started by defying the Constitution’s emoluments clause along with the nepotism prohibition.  The oath of office to uphold the Constitution and the rule of law was out the window from the start.  Then when those outrages lost their magnetic force on the media, he turned his talents to demonizing whoever crossed his path.

Immigrant families became marauding hordes to Donald Trump, justifying in his mind a policy to tear kids from parents and display the atrocity like barbarians one hoisted the heads of the vanquished enemy on pikes to boast and warning to invaders.  Surprise raids on families were next on the menu of outrages for the media to cover. They were fodder for Trump’s insatiable greed for the media spotlight when all they wanted from him was to work in a chicken factory.

The bull in America’s china shop is the craven Donald Trump gobbling up the media airways with chaotic antics verging on sadism.  No amount of attention could satisfy a man whose hunger is greater than the mighty powers put at his disposal by the world leading United States of America.  In that position, he is bearing out the truth of the view that insanity is repeatedly doing the same thing while expecting a different result.  Trump is again destroying his latest venture, the great USA.  With any luck, America will save itself as it always has.

This time, in the case of Trump and on behalf of the world, America can make the Trump story plausible by bringing it to a satisfying conclusion.  That will mean ousting Donald Trump from office.  He simply can’t be made out to be a believable fictional character, either hero or antihero.  He doesn’t make enough sense to play a part in a work of fiction, not even in the horror genre.

 

 

 

Chill Out, America, Kick Trump & Opes

Quote:  Slow down, you move too fast, you gotta make the morning last (Simon & Garfunkel, 59th Street Bridge Song)

The world is too much with us…getting and spending, we lay waste our powers (William Wordsworth)

In the news:  It’s Overdose Awareness Day-and Overdoses are killing more Americans than ever before (Vox, 8.31.18)

The Millennial Left is Tired of Waiting (Ben Judah, The Atlantic, 7.25.19)

In context:  Ouch! Too much, too fast.  That’s the slogan for the social media age.  That’s also America’s theme with an ADHD Prez in the Oval Office.

Nobody knows what goes on in Donald Trump’ head, probably not even the man himself.  He sees a record crowd at his inauguration when cameras clearly show the opposite.  From his lofty post, he has a spokesman back his view.  Ten Republicans buy the view and to some it renders the absurdity reality.  Others see the reality gap and and yet it slips right by as part of the topsy-turvy modern era.

America itself seems drugged today.  The Prez may be on a cocktail of psychotics.  The Senate is numbed, slavishly backing its party’s top renegade  The House with its slim majority is doubly drugged.  Half is on speed and the other half on downers.  The American people, meanwhile, the people themselves are mired in a Facebook reality where they are the stars of their own trivial dramas.  Minutiae crowd out the larger picture like weeds overgrow cultivated plants in a garden.

America, the land of opportunity and innovation, is now a land of opioid addiction caught on a tech treadmill headed by a Prez whose intellectual range is bounded by Twitter characters.  Alexa turns on the house lights but it doesn’t turn on the common sense button in the human brain.

Donald Trump, a notorious New York con man, was a TV reality show star to the rest of America.  A third of the country bought his schtick that he was their champion.  That is the Trump base and no evidence convinces them that they were duped.  To them, the strong economy and jobs numbers prove out their faith, bolstered by their choice of news source.  Roll-backs on protective regulations and healthy jobs numbers due to multiple-job holders because one job doesn’t pay the bills is beyond their ken.

That’s the Trump base, too busy providing for tech-savvy millennials who know those facts and are impatient to protect their future.  They champ at the bit for change the country’s majority is not ready to embrace and that stalemate dwarfs others, notably the most basic one of whether America wants to be a benevolent or fearsome country.

Thankfully, the millennials have that basic question right.  Kindness, generosity and concern for others including animals and the world are not weaknesses, as Trump, the base and Trump enablers think.  Generosity is, in fact, the greatest luxury in the world, available to both poor and rich.  Learning such virtues is a product of learning to be socialized, growing from a self-absorbed tot into an adult of social value.  That growth does not stop at any given age but continues to develops as conditions change.  That calls for down-time, in woefully short supply with ever-evolving tech gizmos

Down-time is a forgotten art that could cure the bundle of crises featuring both Trump and opioid addiction.  Those quick-fixes for life’s overwhelming challenges don’t do the trick.  A wall will not keep out a globalizing world.  Facebooks “likes” and Twitter “retweets” don’t fill a void left by a missing sense of comfort with the self.  All humans, as of now, have angels and demons inside, streaks of ambition combined with tendencies toward laziness.  Facing these conflicts and resolving them brings both comfort and confidence in facing outside challenges.

Taking time out from the tech ratrace carries its own rewards.  There is instant gratification in being independent of outside stimulation.   Friends may be happier than ever to hear from you once you take down the “gone fishing” sign, especially if you indulged an urge to pick up a pencil or crayon, or if you Googled a new train of thought all on your own.  Trips to outer space or the top of the Himalayas are not the only adventures left open to humans.  Like the ocean depths, the human soul remains a delightful mystery as the world grows more complex about what to do with troubled neighbors. .

An old New Yorker cartoon depicted a visitor sleeping in front on artiest at an easel holding an empty canvas.   “Watching creativity at work,” was the caption.  It was a variation of watching grass grow or contemplating the navel, as was said during the old days of Zen meditation back in the ancient 1980’s.  That was a remake of an even more ancient time back before the age of Confucius.  It’s an old recipe but it works for human peace and fulfillment in a hectic world.

So chill out, young ‘uns.  Take a tip from the oldsters and “listen to your elders” if you want your revolution, action on climate change, better health care and better relations with neighbors.  You’ll have time when Trump is gone and perhaps with him, the country’s opioid crisis.

 

 

 

 

 

Dems and the Status Quo

Quote:  All too often, on the long road up, young leaders become servants of what is rather than shapers of what might be (attrib. John Gardner)

Definitions: Status quo, existing situation or condition (Cambridge English Dictionary)

Divide and conquer,  (1) to gain or maintain power by generating tensions; (2)  to accomplish something by having several people work on it separately (idioms by The Free Dictionary)

In context:  Simply put,, democrats promote social justice while republicans advocate personal rights.  That distinction took a dramatic turn when the law-defying Donald Trump started grabbing all he could with the great powers of the American presidency at his disposal.

As Trump and his republican enablers trample constitutional norms and values, they divide democrats and prime them to be fodder for their conquer of the world’s goods.  That’s obvious as democrats scrabble to salvage values each consider most crucial to ensure, thus splintering the party into ineffectual sects.  Perhaps American democrats would be better off if they could unify their personal aims into the context of a global status quo.

Freedom is the hallmark of America, in large part because of its Constitution-based stability.  The result is a cake-like status with the big chunks going to go-getters and the rest to those who make their living by keeping the big guys going,  Under Donald Trump, the big guys get all the cake they want in any way that suits them and the little guys fight each other for crumbs because a third of Americans are in love with the Old West romance of the renegade hero.

Jesse James was such a hero. killed by one of his own when the gang was finally cornered by the law.  America was won by the “taming of the west,” through shoot-outs as a prelude to spreading the rule of law, but the romance of the notorious outlaw became folklore.  Jesse James is seen by many as an American Robin Hood according to Wikipedia and plenty of other outlaws are still admired for their brazen gall and for their opportunistic skills.

In today’s world where Washington is the new American “Wild West,” Donald Trump will not likely go down as a “Robin Hood.  He is, however, lionized by the base and many republicans as the ultimate American gangster who managed to steal the country’s crown jewels, the powers of the American presidency.

A lifetime career as a snake-oil salesman was certainly useful to Trump in carrying off this feat.  With an eye toward personal gain, he scopes the field, identifies the vulnerable and their needs, persuades with exaggeration and fabrication comically delivered from behind a sporting facade.  Adept at closing up shop when the law nears, he finds new territory for hawking his nonexistent cures.

Grand as those duplicitous skills may be, Trump would not have propelled himself into the White House had he not stolen the country’s airwaves at the same time that he gouged its material wealth.  Loud, obnoxious and objectionable to most, he is a media magnate on the scale of catastrophic natural disasters.  His horde of like-minded admirers thus hold the American status quo hostage,  Republicans slavishly pay homage to the Pied Piper.  Democrats squawk and get drowned out in the noise however they regroup.

America is mierd in the Trump swamp and a glance around the world may suggest a way to tame the new “Wild West” of Washington.   Getting back to basics may help.  Who are the good guys and who the bad?  Even in today’s complex world, would any good guy ever brag about shooting someone just to prove he could get away with it?  Shoot, even Jesse James had higher aims.

Further in line with higher aims, would anyone in a globalizing world where economics and health are interdependent, would any truly good guy advocate separation instead of unity?  Would good guys isolate their society from the rest of the world so that crime and corruption can be carried out with impunity?

Every country in the world has its own particular challenges in part because of history.  A central issue in America is that of racial inequality.  That, however, has less to do with true ambivalence about superiority or inferiority based on race than on the fact that currently there is a social hierarchy based on history.  In a global world where America is the “melting pot” for people from the world over can become American, the current status quo as defined by the Trump explosion is an anomaly, a travesty and a sacrilege..

America needs a new sheriff in town.  OK, so adventurous America had its experiment with Trump.  But now it is time to restore America to its true status quo.  It is time to relegate Trump to the dustbins of history.

If necessary, let Trump go down with the base as a legendary outlaw who got away with the country’s biggest prize.  Even that will be a step below Jesse James who had more basic aims for renegade behavior..

 

 

 

 

Kamala’s Busing Scars

Quote:  Keeping score of old wounds and scars, getting even and one-upping, always makes you less than you are. (attrib. Malcolm Forbes)

“It is personal…hurtful.” (Kamala Harris, 1st Democratic debate, 6.27.19)

In the news:  After Immigrant Families Are Reunited, Scars of Separation Remain (Arian Campo-Flores and Melanie Graye West, WSJ 7.15.18)

In context:  Kamala Harris floored Joe Biden in the first round of the Democratic debate toward the next presidency and her super-star barb could not have hit deeper.  The question at this critical time is whether America can afford for Democrats to back a candidate who still has personal scores to settle in her public professional role.

The aim of the 2020 election is to free America from the amoral clutches of a con-man who has the awesome powers of his tation at his command.  In that position, Trump has hurled his personal peeves and tantrums on the country.  Neither American nor the world can stand the stress of so much unrelenting uncertainty about what comes next.  A black woman with issues about her past merely foreshadows the flip-side of white supremacist Donald Trump.

I myself am an immigrant woman , white and a hundred percent American.  The scars I carry from being a child refugee after the failed 1956 Hungarian revolution against Soviet domination still pop up in my daily life.  I mistrust Russia, I identify with the migrant kids currently at the southern US border and I interact just fine with UN colleagues during contract work and with Muslim Arabs in my neighborhood.  I have no bigger chip on my shoulder than anyone else because we have one quality in common.  We are  glad to be here in America.

Natural-born Americans, on the other hand, take the country, it’s blessing and its problems for granted.  That’s why America needs immigrants, to remind the ingrates that they have much to be thankful for, as in taking part in righting the country when it goes askew.

The geographically blessed US did just that with the Emancipation Proclamation and the resultant Civil War.  The United States inherited the slave trade from global  forebears and the country put an end to it.  Scars remain and the country has a with a special social burden to eradicate the remnants of the unfairness deeded to it.  But that burden is shared by both black and white Americans who must work together to resolve problems regardless of those who oppose the resolution of them.  In the global world of today, that cooperation extends who are neither black or white.  But what they share with those two groups is that they want to be Americans.  And America needs them in a time when global climate change makes every American a refugee from the family home at any minute.

History has created a global social and racial hierarchy which is now breaking down.  White supremacists emerge ever more strongly as Britain’s Princess Diana took up with an Arab and Prince Harry married an American of mixed racial ancestry.  By its history, America is well situated to take the lead in this global advancement through diversity.  It will be as soon as blacks let go of grudges, liberal whites give up their defensiveness and both unite to unseat the bullies terrorizing both them and the new immigrants who want to be Americans.

 

 

 

 

 


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