Fear, Loathing, & Donald Trump

Happy 2017! Why no updates recently? I, for one, deflect blame to the election of one Donald J. Trump to hold the office of President of the United States. Is it an “unmitigated disaster?” Why yes. Yes it is.

Our election process — which obviously goes on far too long to the tune of extremely questionable substance — has pooped out this result. There have been plenty of postmortems, some of them quite thoughtful, as to why it all happened, but the reality is the causes are various. Yes, the electoral college is outdated. Yes, plenty of people were stricken from the swing state voter rolls in key areas that gave Donald J. Trump the advantage. Yes, many people feel the government is out-of-touch and doesn’t listen to ordinary Americans. Yes, these voters — some of them — can be fooled all of the time. Yes, the Russians hacked. And yes, most voters wanted Hillary Clinton to be president, accurately identifying Donald Trump as a freak show, or possibly more charitably as a guy primarily interested in advancing a personal brand that somehow persists despite years of personal shenanigans.

Sometime before day one of his campaign, Donald J. Trump decided to put R after his name. After descending a golden escalator, he started in with his ridiculous demonization of Mexico and Mexicans, and talk of building a great, great wall. God knows that was only the beginning. Throughout the primaries, 16 other GOP candidates resisted, but it was no use. The Trump crazy train was leaving the station, and the “establishment” Republicans had to get on board.

During the years of Barack Obama’s presidency, the Grand Old Party mostly decided to obstruct, and what little muscle they had for actually governing completely atrophied. Worse, the Republicans, who work in the U.S. government, generally don’t approve of the U.S. government doing anything for the general welfare of the people except, you know, military things, and trying to control women’s reproductive systems. Otherwise, everything really ought to be privatized: Social Security, the VA, Medicare, Medicaid, the Post Office . . .

“Obamacare,” aka The Affordable Care Act (really, health insurance reform), is an example of something the Republicans think the government has no business doing. The ACA has been a Republican punching bag for years now, and numerous times Republicans wasted time trying to repeal it even when they knew it wasn’t really possible. Now, it’s possible, and it will mean pulling the rug out from under some 30 million Americans who are covered by its benefits. The ACA is no perfect law, but if the USA insists on using the Health Insurance model of providing access to health care, many of the law’s assumptions are necessary. Sadly, the ACA still can’t stop insurance companies from taking unfair advantage of the fact that they are, in fact, healthcare gatekeepers whose real objective is not healthcare at all.

“Repeal and Replace” of Obamacare became a Republican slogan, but most of the replacement ideas are in reality unserious or inadequate: health care savings accounts (Yes, maybe you can save up for that gall bladder surgery), vouchers, and selling insurance across state lines. Recently, the Republicans have adopted the “patient-centered care” slogan, something that clearly confuses access to health care with that care’s actual execution. Make no mistake: Republicans have no good idea what to replace Obamacare with, even though Trump would like both The House and the Senate to do so immediately.

On yeah, Trump! It’s really hard to describe how much of a train wreck the guy really is, but part of it is described here anyway. Every day from the time that post was written, The Donald found new ways to smear himself with glory: he changed positions often, displayed bigotry, lied constantly, and used his favorite 5th grader rhetorical device with abandon:

“I’m rubber, you’re glue. Whatever hits me bounces off and sticks to you.”

Now he’s been elected to be PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.


It’s Trump’s Old Party Now

Yeah, I know. This space hasn’t been updated in a long time. I may have been distracted by something.

Trump steaks promo

Sharper Image? Should have gone with Skymall? Trump steaks!

Some time ago, I wrote this article about the Republican party’s seemingly irrational communiques to those people we affectionally know as the American People.

You don’t have to read it again. Here’s the gist: a (non-healthy) amount of what Republicans rely on to maintain political viability and power is actually play-acting, designed to mislead, frighten, outrage, and/or “lather-up” an electorate already made vulnerable by their own unwillingness to pay attention. Acting is behaving truthfully under imaginary circumstances, and in the case of the Republicans, the circumstances are often pretty imaginary. In the preceding years, President Obama has taken the brunt of many of these fanciful scenarios, designed to “prove” that anything he’s associated with is a disaster. The facts tend to tell a different story.

From a short distance, Donald J. Trump looked on all the Republican vaudeville enviously. He’s a guy who has always truly loved to get in on the act, and soon did as one of the original “birthers.” As a young man, he inherited a lot of money. Like the fictional but likable Elmer J. Fudd, the real but obnoxious Donald J. Trump had more than enough money for a mansion and a yacht. Consequently, he got bored easily and needed something to do, so he built up an image of himself as a master businessman/deal maker. True? Nope, but if Donald J. Trump has proven anything in the course of his career, it’s that — provided you start with enough money — you can fail sideways by “leveraging” a ridiculous, gold-leafed, classy-with-a-k, brand. Trump did the book. Trump did the board game. Trump did the vodka and steaks. Trump did the Reality TV. Trump did the completely unaccredited university. Trump even did the fictional comedy chicken joint:

Last summer, a Trump run for the presidency seemed jokey. Trump came down an escalator. He hired supporters. Trump was a windy bozo, and was compared to every other windy bozo — your uncle being loud and embarrassing at the family reunion, your uncle being loud and embarrassing at Walmart, your uncle, loud and embarrassing on the back stoop drinking beer while complaining about all the foreigners ruining everything.

Now, as we head into the summer of 2016, Donald J. Trump is the (presumptive) nominee of the GOP. In the beginning, there were 16 other Republican contenders. 16! One by one, Trump dispatched them all with a witch’s brew of braggadocio, nonsensical school-yard taunts, xenophobia, and misogyny. He did it without really being a politician, and without really being a Republican. Trump crashed a party that, while managing to stay pretty old, quit being grand around 1865. It’s morning in America now — there’s a weird smell no one can identify, and red solo cups are strewn everywhere.*

*Don’t worry, though, Donald J. Trump has more than enough money to cover the cost of those red solo cups, I will tell you that.

Bonus Related Links!