The Rising Swamp of Trump’s Doublespeak

Trump campaigned to “drain the swamp”. We all know what that meant—watching politicians wade waist deep into the awful muck of the stagnant bayou that is our Congress and witnessing the facile, inept, and outright foolish acts of our political leaders who scam taxpayers for profit or fear.

Shouldn’t we clean that up? Could this outsider break the good old boy system and drain the swamp for sound, commercial-style best practices and strong, tacitly untainted leadership?

Sounded good. So…?

Many candidates make suspect comments in their bid for the White House, that’s nothing new. But has a campaign promise been so malignantly touted and so egregiously claimed, yet emerged as so blatantly false?

President Carter campaigned that he’d never support a foreign dictator (paraphrasing: “…those antithetical to our principles”) then asked Congress to support Argentina, Nicaragua, Thailand, South Korea, and the Philippines, all of which were under dictatorships or totalitarian regimes accused of human rights violations.

Sr. President Bush said famously, “No new taxes” then proceeded to raise taxes to prop up the failing economy.

While I strongly believe neither president served the American public well, I would grudgingly admit both made choices which, in their mind, overrode what they promised in a false hope it promoted the common good.

What is so obvious to anyone with a brain is that Mr. Trump acts as if he never made any promises, or rewrites history to make his promises belie the current facts. In his mind, he can do no wrong because no wrong was done. He knows he doesn’t mean what he says. Most of it is improvised idiotic babble anyway—and there’s the old saying that if you can’t remember what you said, it must have been a lie.

Short of draining the swamp, Trump has knowingly (even laughingly?) filled it with the worst litany of criminals since Harding’s administration (or substitute Grant’s or Nixon’s). Anyone with ethics, a decent moral code, or a conviction of choosing right over wrong is ousted and subject to such undeserved vitriol you’d find a seven-year-old’s name-calling mature by comparison. Vile, childish tantrums regularly issue from the leader of the free world.

Now trump believes mail-in voting is as allegedly fraudulent as his own business dealings, except … wait for it … when it’s in his own best interests. Then mail-in voting is like a well-oiled machine, somehow transformed from impossibly corrupt to skillfully adept.

And thank goodness for self-interest, eh? I mean, since GOP elected officials (senators, congressmen, governors, state reps) are panicking over such claims, afraid they would lose elections because Republican voters might take Trump seriously, Trump changed his tune somewhat. Now he offers that a state like Nevada’s postal service is unprepared for the crush, while claiming that Florida is completely ready. Hmm, Nevada against Trump (amazingly), Florida for Trump (quelle surprise).

But back to the swamp, now up to our chins.

Let’s talk emoluments (and who doesn’t like to?).  There exist these couple of clauses in the constitution, a document btw Trump repeatedly uses to wipe his ass (damn those patriots), whereby Trump attaches powers to himself he doesn’t have or bends faithful meanings to his will in perverse, even criminally insane ways. To wit: his near decision to send troops to police our American cities against all authority to do so; and spitting on people’s first amendment rights when he thinks he is looking bad [Ed. note to Mr. Trump: that’s more often than you even realize] by tear-gassing US citizens peacefully demonstrating so he can have a ridiculous (I mean, stupidly ridiculous) photo op at a church where he doesn’t regularly attend services. To Trump, even a steeple backdrop and the Christian bible are simply props for his Orwellian propaganda of doublespeak.

Then there are the many, many, many—a crazy number of many—hundreds, even thousands (as of this writing) lawsuits against him and his cronies (meaning, his cabinet members, advisors, and administrators—all whom we trust are running our government for us in the most efficient, decent, and correct way—LOL). Many of his associates are in jail, going to jail, or under serious threat of jail time.

Trump’s allegedly fraudulent schemes stretch so deeply in so many directions and are uncovered so quickly that state district attorneys across the nation play Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus as office background muzak and smile maniacally at their burgeoning political careers.

Draining the swamp? It’s up to our eyeballs.

Drain the swamp. Let’s examine what Orwell said:

The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink.

–George Orwell, “Politics and the English Language”, 1946

Clearly Trump worships at the Orwellian altar, but with a perverse sense of his duty to the American people. Orwell sought to shine a light upon the ridiculous doublethink and newspeak (later collectively known as doublespeak) of his novel 1984 where the populace is ruled through propaganda while believing they are freely engaged in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. His novels are meant to educate us against the use of these devices and to clean up our own act in the process. Orwell abhorred the use of doublespeak, e.g., where firebombing a village is “pacification” and genocide is “ethnic cleansing”.

Trump can say the US numbers against COVID-19 are better than the world’s, that we’re “winning” when we’re losing, that testing should be decreased because indeterminate “books” and “manuals” say so. He claims mail-in voting is fraught with fraud when there is no evidence for such a claim. He denies collusion and then colludes with foreign powers, notably the Russians (what does Putin have on Trump?).

He wants to postpone the November national election, for what? … as a means of making us “freer” perhaps?

What is really important in the world of doublespeak is the ability to lie, whether knowingly or unconsciously, and to get away with it; and the ability to use lies and choose and shape facts selectively, blocking out those that don’t fit an agenda or program.

–Edward S. Herman, Beyond Hypocrisy, 1990

Trump is stealing our liberties, instilling fear of outsiders, moreover using fear to breed hate all while claiming he is making American great. That is not a great America. That a good 30-40% of Americans agree with this is staggering and sad, for me and for them.

Anyone can make a mistake. To all the Trump supporters out there, it’s time to put right this egregious error and make peace with your fellow citizens, and those yet to be citizens, including those you may think of as non-mainstream, but are progressing as mainstream as anyone else: those that are LGBTQ+ who have already lived through too much pain and hate and only want to bring love and acceptance into our hearts.

We all have foibles, we all err. We say that is human, but to be truly human is to err and correct, to catch the mistake and make it right. That’s progress. That’s the American way—at least, should be the new American way. We can all make that happen.

Equality. Tolerance. And shitcan the Doublespeak, please. We’re way past 1984, people.

Stay Friendly and Healthy.

Golly Gomer Gohmert, Stupid Enough to Die For?

I’m at a loss. I have this question, you see, that no one will answer or else I receive many conflicting answers, usually along party lines. It’s simple in its clarity, yet deeply influential to the health of the country. Seems like everyone would admit the truth, then pull together for the good of humankind.

Alas, this is my question: Has the average stupidity of the American people plummeted in recent years?

I could phrase it as multiple choice:

  1. Yes, obviously
  2. Yes, but only among Republicans
  3. Yes, but only among those under thirty years of age
  4. No, the pandemic is a hoax perpetrated by the Fake News cabal whereupon 150,000 Americans sacrificed their lives for the sake of a scam (as well as 500,000 more worldwide). Yes, that’s some dedicated conspiracy.

This disease can kill you. Possibly, this disease will kill you. Sure, the weak among us are most vulnerable, but this has no age limit, no race limit, no party line. It’s insidious as it creeps from person to person, infecting rational people and turning them into incoherent nutcases.

I’m not speaking of Covid-19. This frightening disease is Stupidity-Now.

What happened to common sense? I understand irrationality from someone’s panic-induced hysterical outburst, but nowadays seemingly (that’s the key) normal people are calmly speaking to cameras or standing upon the Capital steps while professing strong beliefs that six hundred thousand to a million worldwide deaths is nothing to concern oneself with, that the CDC and experts like the brilliant Dr. Fauci are plain wrong or overwrought, that somehow the Democrats have conjured up this plague as an election year ruse, or that lots of people die from the flu every year so what’s all the fuss over a million more?

I’m at an age where I look upon our youth with forlorn hope anyway, trusting that the natural maturation process of the homo sapiens species will snap some sense into these people at some point so they can take over the reins, more or less, just as generations of forlorn hopes have done before them.

I know the average eighteen to twenty-two year old has, shall we say, a flexible concept of mortality with little fear he’d survive a zombie apocalypse, much less a flu-like pandemic. But I wonder at the total disregard he has for everyone else. Have we bred a generation of the most selfish, self-obsessed sentient minds since the Romans said, “Hey, let’s call it an empire.”

How can anyone, young or old, rationalize jeopardizing their parents’ health, or their grandparents’ or friends’ health? Lives are at stake. Get covid and you may not know it for two weeks as you spread it among everyone you love. Your mother may die simply for the sake of your thoughtless narcissism.

Many are doing the right thing. The point is everyone needs to pitch in. Some cannot protect us from the all. The evidence lies at Governor Santorum’s Retirement Home of Death where his motto is “Your golden years may be shorter than you think.” As governor, how do you sign an order opening up business knowing you are sentencing some of your constituents to death? In some misguided notion of the greater good? “You, sir, must give your life so that our young men and women may frolic at the beach. Uh, sorry for the inconvenience.”

I understand the economy is in freefall, some people are really hurting for money (I mean food on the table, keep the lights on hurting) and businesses are closing in dire financial straits. Still, we must remember that we have weathered the Great Depression and many economic downturns throughout American history. It is fraught with pain. We can get through it.

Yet Trump and his Republicans believe a healthy economy is worth the deaths of hundreds of thousands, as long as they’re old and near the end of life anyway. Once our young adults start expiring in like numbers, I’m sure that policy would change. He has a lot of voters in that demographic, after all.

So what are we to do—like, wear a mask?

Doh! Of course. It may not stop the spread, but it provides some shield against the rain storm of droplets bearing Covid-19 that are ejected from your face with every sneeze.

Covid doesn’t just wander from your body, rising from your skin like an astronaut floating from her berth as weightlessness is achieved. It wants to stay with you. It likes you. You feed it. It only leaves involuntarily when the pleasant mucous it’s wallowing in is ejected by a violent muscle spasm of your throat and chest.

Once free on the open air, Covid wants someone else. So containing much of the spray helps you prevent the disease in others. A mask’s greatest benefit is to everyone else.

Not selfish enough? Am I a deviant, thinking of others when the order of the day is act like Trump and push my own comfort and agenda no matter the consequences to the people around me?

Fortunately, most people are doing the right thing (now and, I hope, in November).

Which brings us to Representative Gomer, I mean, Louie Gohmert, R-TX. This lawmaking pinnacle of our legislature is so convinced NOT wearing a mask is the intelligent thing that he met with White House staff (notably Attorney General Barr) as he was carrying the disease. He is Covid-19 positive. Upon hearing the news, he returned to his office to spread more pestilence. He wanted to thank his loyal staff members and, possibly (who can be sure?), to bequeath them a gasping and lonely death.

As of this posting, AG Barr is being tested for coronavirus. I don’t wish this disease upon anyone, but AG Barr tries my moral compass. In fact, it’s spinning like a plane’s altimeter as it plummets to earth. Well, true north is in there somewhere.

I only wonder—think Barr visited The Donald after his close talk with Gomer? Well, here’s crossing my fingers.

Stay Friendly and Healthy.

Send Out the Clowns

The moment Donald Trump descended the escalator to announce his candidacy for president of the United States, you knew this was a joke. No one would elect this clown. Self-respecting Republicans would see through his pompous, uninformed rhetoric and sympathetically pat his combed-over head while grousing about the lack of a decent candidate. But they’d vote for one of the uninspiring but compos mentis challengers and hope for the best.

Strangely, and I still don’t understand it, conservatives elevated Trump in the primaries and rallied around him for the general election, enough for him to win against (I’ll admit) the stupidest choice under the circumstances the Democrats could have made in Hilary Clinton. I grudgingly voted for Clinton (I had voted for her husband, after all, when I was a Republican) only because I was physically repulsed by the inane blob of human skin (well, some of it is of a human-like substance) running against her.

It’s not that I don’t like his looks, that would be shallow and true and more to the point, moot. It’s not that I don’t like his policies in all their infatuated, illogical, cruelly backward, and monumentally ignorant glory. And it’s not that I don’t like his manner of speaking as uninformed, delusional, and childish as he is. It’s not any of that, for that’s my opinion and while good enough to decide my vote, there are those who agree ideologically with him and everyone’s entitled to their view.

No, my issue with The Donald, and this is where I deviate from his supporters, is his inability to articulate a decent thought, which makes me wonder if he can have a decent thought. He craps all over the constitution (how any American puts up with that I can’t understand—talk about gun control and people wave the sacred parchment more dearly than they hold their children), is imperious in his disregard for hard won human freedoms, and challenged to understand simple logic, like not ingesting household disinfectants to fight the flu.

What does it mean? I struggle to attribute his every utterance to a simpleton’s mind. Is it too easy to say he’s a perpetual seven year old who’s entrusted with nuclear codes and the good, responsible management of American lives? Paraphrasing Théoden: How did it come to this?

I search for a meaningful answer, hoping at some point Mr. Trump acknowledges his shortcomings (we all have them—well, maybe not in the same degree) and grows up a bit. To admit a flaw, to say you were wrong—these are not evidence of weakness but rather a demonstration of human decency and the willingness to find strength in fault. Alas, Mr. Trump seems incapable of such a human expression, dooming himself to uselessness and the likelihood that once he’s kicked out of office (which he’ll have to be), he’ll be considered the worst, most ineffectual, ridiculous president we’ve ever had. And that includes Millard Fillmore.

Worse, he hires sycophants in brazen shows of camaraderie, insists on their absolute loyalty to any inanity he utters, then vilifies these “friends” of his when they deign to disagree. After all of the musical chairs, we have left the most egregious yes-men willing to deconstruct American policy and the ideals we have strived to achieve over centuries.

Harassment of LGBTQ+ individuals and more to the point, removing freedoms and protections they have died for, is revolting in the least. Who are they hurting? The world needs more love, not more hate. Get over it.

And to promote a fascist, internal police state over black lives signals a moral decrepitude that should have vanished from American life long ago. But it’s always there in some, hopefully the few, but anymore, it’s hard to say. #blacklivesmatter

When Trump announced his plan to send US troops into the states for crowd control, effectively suggesting the creation of a police state, every conservative, let only every single American should have clutched their constitution and vowed: We made a mistake. Never again.

Never again.

Stay Friendly and Healthy.

Copernicus and the Zen of Attitudinarianism

Discussing the value of modern art has reminded me of the truly annoying: the rarefied religion of pomposity. In one of my recent posts, I mentioned Woody Allen’s frustration with the pompous ass in line behind him during a scene in Annie Hall. I know how he felt. I’ve had my fill of pompositude, where individuals from all branches of the arts and sciences have tested the levels of pompousness a human can endure. At times, their snobbery compels them into a state of pomposuration on par with nirvana. Nothing can touch them and they have nothing left to learn. Thus they achieve the highest state of the neo-pomposer: Attitudinarianism.

With just the right pose, the truly pompous can make themselves believe the most idiotic, small-minded, ridiculous nonsense the human mind can conjure.

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The Road to Hell is Paved With Artists’ Intentions

Can there exist an objective understanding of a work of art outside of the artist’s intention? I admit, I’m befuddled by those who say “yes”.

Whenever this debate arises, I’m reminded of the scene in Annie Hall when the characters are in line outside of a theater. Behind them, a man pontificates on the meaning behind the works of artists from Fellini to Marshall McLuhan. Exasperated, Woody Allen’s character calls him on his obnoxious behavior and produces Mr. McLuhan, who explains to the man that his insights are all wrong.

At the end of the scene, Woody Allen breaks the fourth wall and laments that life doesn’t work this way. He produced a deus ex machina moment that transcends reality, leaving the audience with the shared frustration that awkward situations often have no satisfying solution.

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Qualifying Genius: A Rather Unique Perspective

Can genius be qualified? I think not, but the question came to light when a friend of mine took exception to my innocent comment when we were out having a drink (okay, a few drinks).

Being a fan of Kurt Cobain, I suggested that Cobain changed his type of music (Rock ‘n’ Roll in its current state circa early ’90’s) in much the same manner as Beethoven changed his style of music (what we now call classical composition). When an individual comes along that alters the course of their field through creativity, a unique perspective, and raw talent, I would say that person is a genius.

Yet, how dare I rank a modern rock star with the genius of a classical composer like Beethoven? Ah, but I do.

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Movie Marketers Ruined My Thing Sandwich

Come summer, it’s a wonder movie marketers can keep their jobs. After all, what is there to do? Show a few explosions, a pretty woman in peril, a dangerous situation with an unresolved rescue, someone falling through the air, and the work is done. Presto, movie marketing campaign. It’s a cinch.

I suppose the marketing departments need all those people when the fall season begins and serious movies are scheduled for release. That lasts through Christmas, when the New Year deluge of Oscar unworthy titles appear. Then spring brings more interesting fare as executives jockey to see how quickly receipts from a domestic release can top two hundred million.

Considering they only work eight months a year, how do marketing departments misrepresent your viewing experience so badly so often?

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Smooth Jazz Artists Play With Sanity

I know what you’re thinking. What does he have against Kenny G?

Absolutely Nothing. I hold no contempt for Kenny G, because I don’t know Kenny G’s music. I have never sat through an entire Kenny G song. So it would be disingenuous of me to say I don’t like Kenny G. I have no opinion on him in the same way I am not enthused about pickled cactus. Never experienced it, so how can I say how bad it is?

No, I’m not annoyed by smooth jazz players, but rather by jazz players who are too smooth. The ones too cool for school that play with slow, affected moves like they have a secret earbud tapped into Barry White, a far better alternative for their audience.

Bottom line: it’s hard to trust them.

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Foodie Snobs Look Down Their Nebby Nose

Pittsburgh is fast becoming a culinary mecca. Within the last ten years, we have seen an incredible rise of talent in the chefs, kitchen staff, and management of our restaurants and caterers. We are not alone. A positive change has swept America and exciting dining experiences are no longer the province of New York, Chicago, or San Francisco. I applaud our resolve to eat more locally-sourced products.

With every great movement, alas, come those that must effect their enthusiasm in shows of public display—not for the benefit of education, but to exalt their palate, their refinement, and their superiority to the dull-tongued meatheads eating next to them.

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Door Preachers and the Sunday Morning Discount

Some years ago, I answered my door and found a strange couple dressed in black.

“We’re here to do you a favor,” the man said. A young woman stood behind him, nodding her approval at my good fortune. “I’m Nathan and this is Sarah. Have you read the Good Book today?”

“Why, no,” I said. “Not today. It’s only eight-thirty Sunday morning—”

“We’re so sorry to bother you, but this is too important to leave for later.”

Are you really sorry, Brother Jagoff?

The upshot was that he wanted to discuss my personal religious habits, my church regimen, how often I prayed—simple things like that.

“Please, come in,” I said.

Continue reading “Door Preachers and the Sunday Morning Discount”