The Madness of King Donald


To quote Crosby, Stills & Nash … “It’s getting to the point, where I’m no fun anymore.” Well, at least when it comes to debating the psychoses of our current hot topics.

But I CAN still be fun! Here’s my Halloween costume!

I remember when I spent my leisure time playing computer games and reading novels. In this ‘new normal,’ I’m continually finding myself trying to unravel the latest controversies in the face of those who will gleefully jerk a knee at whatever red meat is thrown at their feet. The Kelly Ann Conways and Sarah IdiotChild Sanders of the world have laid claim to dictating what is right or wrong, factually or morally, on every facet of our daily lives. Up is down, left is right, football players and the media need to listen to an octogenarian’s spittle-sprayed pronouncements and DO AS HE SAYS.

Stop listening to them until they have something more than spin and ‘alternative facts’ to bring to the table.

mueller lays chargesFriday night, those of us who have stuck the political IV deep into our veins were cheered to hear that Robert Mueller, the special counsel heading the Russian investigation, was ready to begin laying charges against those who have colluded with a foreign power to interfere with last year’s election.

Predictably, Trump and his administration have spent the weekend ginning up outrage over old and long refuted claims blaming Hillary Clinton for pretty much everything. I’m assuming they were practicing their chants of ‘lock her up!’ between tantrums and panicked packing.

Listen – I think they’re all crooks and con artists. But Clinton’s not president, and Trump is, to the chagrin of the majority.

And while he’s proving that his hand is quicker than your eye, he’s been ignoring the bill (Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, or CAATSA) that hits Russia, Iran and North Korea with tough sanctions, that was passed in an overwhelming majority by 98-2 on July 27.

Trump-sanctions-memeTrump first refused to sign the bill, then did so grudgingly. “The law gave the Trump administration staggered deadlines to begin implementation — the first being Oct. 1 for the Russian portion. “

Tillerson finally signed off on the sanctions this past Thursday, nearly four weeks after the deadline, . Whether this was Trump and Tillerson flexing their muscles or outright treason, I leave to the historians to decide.

But this excerpt from Rachel Maddow‘s show on Friday night says a great deal more about where Trump’s allegiance truly lies. They just haven’t hung out the flag yet.

“The part of it that I have been a little dismayed by, is that – it’s one thing for people that are partisans of the Trump administration, who are Republicans, and see it as their job to defend the president …. to say, “you know what? this collusion thing didn’t happen. What Russia did is terrible, we as Americans are against that, but don’t try to drag Donald Trump into this … you’re saying that he was involved in this to undercut his election; he won his election fair and square. What the Russians did was something separate.”

I can understand Republicans making that case, But what has started to happen now is that the White House, in particular, is trying to get away with saying that the Russians did nothing wrong. And they’re doing that at the same time that Rex Tillerson is dissolving the Sanctions office in the State Department. That the White House is dragging it’s feet on bringing sanctions against Russia for what they did in the election. And .. when .. if .. we’re going to protect ourselves from Russia continuing to do this .. the department of Homeland Security, DoD, and lots of other organizations ought to be well down the road in protecting us, and they’re really not.

That kind of surrender, to what Russia has done .. that’s a patriotism thing, not a partisan thing. And that is the part that makes me sad.”

The fanaticism that’s laying the Republicans low is like a red hot fever, and it will take them down eventually. But in the meantime, what is the rest of the world supposed to do or think, in the face of an administration that looks and behaves more and more like the dystopian land of 1984‘s Oceania?

trump 1984Oceania is a world of perpetual war, omnipresent government surveillance, and public manipulation. Oceania’s residents are dictated by a political regime euphemistically named English Socialism, shortened to “Ingsoc” in Newspeak . Newspeak is the government’s invented language. The superstate is under the control of the privileged, elite Inner Party. The Inner Party, or Party, persecutes individualism and independent thinking known as “thoughtcrimes” and is enforced by the “Thought Police.” The tyranny is ostensibly overseen by Big Brother, the Party leader who enjoys an intense cult of personality, but who may not even exist. The Party “seeks power entirely for its own sake. It is not interested in the good of others; it is interested solely in power. (wiki)

See what I mean?

That’s where the Republicans find themselves at this moment, a place where Senator Jeff Flake makes a stirring resignation speech that should be mandatory memorization material for all Americans – and particularly for aspiring politicians – and then, hours later, follows up that speech by voting with the same party, denying the American people’s right for consumer financial protection.

jeff-flake-with-reportersEven more alarming than Flake’s ‘come to Jesus’ realization of the Trumpification of the Republican party is the way that Trump’s spokespeople have been manipulating Americans into believing that Trump’s word is as infallible and immutable as a god’s.

Consider how any pushback or rebuke by the people or the press has been answered. There’s an undercurrent in the words that hints at a sort of moral bankruptcy in anyone foolish enough to question any of Trump’s or his administration’s decisions.

Spokesperson Sanders found it “highly inappropriate” that reporters had the nerve to refute ‘four star general,’ now chief of staff, John Kelly‘s memories of what a congresswoman had said at the dedication of an FBI office – despite the entire event having been videotaped and contradicting his words.

Trump GodKingShe has been repeatedly ‘stunned’ that the media and the public choose to believe their own eyes rather than the soup of lies, false premises and promises the administration foists upon the American people.

In fact, I’d venture to say that this position of spokesperson, and the apparently repeated shocks she is subjected to in her role, might be just be a little too upsetting for her precious, pearl clutching, southern sensibilities. Lawd sakes! It’s just all too much for a fragile, shrinking violet such as she!

Leaving aside the delicate nature of this administration’s spokespeople, I have to quibble with the deification of Trump, in which any words spoken against him are blasphemy.

If a president’s words are to be held as infallible as a pope’s, then what does that say about Trump overturning every decision and law made by his predecessor ?

Even going so far as to ask the two Alaskan senators if they thought the name change from Mount McKinley to Denali should be reversed. Cuz … Obama.

woman in flamesIt’s such a stunning hypocrisy that I’m amazed that IdiotChild Sanders, who professes deep religiosity, doesn’t burst into flame with her lies, or at least turn into a pillar of salt.

Now THAT’S entertainment!

It is NOT sacrilegious to question or even mock Kelly, any of the current administration, or even the man in the highest office in the land. They, and he, are only there for a short time. They, and he, owe their loyalty to the people, not vice versa. It is the position that commands respect. The person performing that role needs to live up to the position.

Leave us the right to laugh at the Madness of King Donald, as he’s left us little else to laugh about.

 

Thinking About Thinking


Ain’t I a wonder, and ain’t you a wonder too!

cheese_and_internet_memesOr so we’ve been led to believe, by all of our ‘likes’ and ‘loves’ on social media, which is where we go to show off our funny, pretty, and intelligent sides. It’s where we go to get our ‘strokes’ of approval, to find out who’s doing what, and it’s where some of us go to air our opinions and beliefs, and to challenge the opinions and beliefs of others.

“(As of August 2017) For the first time in the Pew Research Center’s surveys, more than half (55%) of Americans ages 50 or older report getting news on social media sites. That is 10 percentage points higher than the 45% who said so in 2016. Those under 50, meanwhile, remain more likely than their elders to get news from these sites (78% do, unchanged from 2016).”

There really isn’t anyone moderating what we say on Facebook. Oh, the book of face would have you believe that, like McDonalds, “we do it all for you,” but anyone who’s been slapped with a three day suspension for uploading a picture of a woman breastfeeding would disagree. No one seems to really know what FB will decide is pornographic or unseemly. Even Facebook itself is unable to provide a hard and fast policy, since it changes with whatever the loudest voices declare to be currently correct.

And Facebook’s acceptance of Russian payment for the placement of ads that ultimately swayed voters in the last election – well, that’s for the courts to decide, but I’d say that might be considered a Russky Bridge too far.

grown ups on the internetWhat is indisputably true, in the world of social media where reputations can be made or destroyed in the space of a tweet, is that there aren’t many grown ups in the room.

And the barrier that might have once existed between terrestrial media and internet social media is gossamer fine.

Because it’s that kind of world, now, where the highest rated radio and TV shows are filled with loud, opinionated, and often grossly under informed ranters who toss the red meat of controversy to the most rabid of listeners who will wait, slavishly, by their phones, in order to add their own voice to the cacophony, and be part of the fun. It’s a world where a reality TV host gets to be president. It’s Idiocracy.

How did we get here? Well, I’d say the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) played a very large role in this slide into mis and disinformation. Created in 1939 to license and renew the license of broadcast stations, the FCC did not originally have the power to censor what was aired. Until the 1950’s, most people got the bulk of their information from radio, and news was sold strictly as news, not entertainment. However, then as now, radio stations needed advertisers to keep in business, and the Commission worried that station owners would be influenced by their advertisers, and by what the conservative owners might decide to pass off as truth.

And so, the Mayflower Doctrine was put into place by then FCC chairman Larry Fly, “fearing a further commercialized, conservative-biased and corporate dominated medium.” The Doctrine declared that broadcasters have “an obligation to allot a reasonable amount of time to treatment of controversial issues and that they have an affirmative duty to seek, to provide representative expression of all responsible shades of opinion.”

The Mayflower Doctrine gave way to the Fairness Doctrine in 1949.
fairness doctrine Reagan“It established two forms of regulation on broadcasters: to provide adequate coverage of public issues, and to ensure that coverage fairly represented opposing views.  The second rule required broadcasters to provide reply time to issue-oriented citizens. Broadcasters could therefore trigger Fairness Doctrine complaints without editorializing. The commission required neither of the Fairness Doctrine’s obligations before 1949.” (wiki)

But even that modicum of control was removed in 1989, ushering in a whole new way of presenting information. No longer did radio or TV have to be held to truth – instead, it became permissible for broadcasters to present, higgledy piggledy, views that directly benefited their paid advertisers and corporate owners. it was the beginning of ‘fake news,’ paving the way for owners like Rupert Murdoch to found stations based upon the rantings of radio and TV shock jocks, those highly emotional if often low informed and biased talk show hosts ‘full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

fox-news-hostWhile this sort of blathering can be very entertaining, and kickstart the hearts of those who either lack their own opinions or love to air their ideas and conspiracy beliefs, it really didn’t do much good for those people who are easily led to often ill informed and hard right theories.

The thing about life is that most of us come to our ideas through our very limited experiences. And yet somehow we believe that our conclusions on goings on outside of our own personal spheres are as valid as those of the people who have dedicated their lives to understanding those events.

Thinking like that is naive, and is what led to America electing one of the most incompetent presidents of their history. Believing that success in business equates to success in government is an enormous lie of epic proportions and horrifically sad consequences. The very qualities that comprise ruthless thinking and lead to success in business are the direct antitheses of the qualities necessary for a wise, compassionate, and humane leader able to put the needs of the Nation before his own.

know it all diploma

Why is it so hard for most of us to realize that we don’t have all the answers? To understand that there are people out there who are smarter than us, or who have more information about a topic, or maybe just have that intuitive flash of brilliance that allows them to weigh up an issue, thoughtfully and with ALL of the data considered, and then come up with a solution that actually works for all involved, something that we’ve somehow missed, no matter how long and hard we’ve worried the question?

genius does what it mustWhy is it so hard to understand that there are very few of us capable of holding every aspect of a quandary in perfect balance for long enough to solve the equation?

Time and again I have seen businesses and governments weigh up a problem with all of their combined brainpower .. and still come up empty. It’s truly infuriating for all of us – the entity trying and failing to find a solution, and those impacted by their lack of a properly considered conclusion in which all of the players needs are considered.

Fr’instance. In British Columbia, homelessness and drug addiction are a crushing burden to those who suffer from these issues. Trying to help and control the realities of how these problems impact upon not just those who suffer, but those who live within a society that bears the financial and legal brunt of these issues, is something that the BC government and policing agencies have to deal with. At this point, a tangle of laws, rights, and ugly reality have created an impasse. There’ seems to be no answer to this question. The result is an uneasy standoff, that benefits and pleases no one.

I don’t have the answer. But somewhere out there, someone does. He or she just hasn’t been asked the right question.

smug gifCorporate and political entities are not the only ones that often have a smug belief that they are the only ones with the answers.

Take the subject of phasing out oil powered vehicles vs electrically powered vehicles. Pretty much every driver who is of a certain age has little belief that the demise of fuel will happen any time soon. And yet, the Chinese government is following in the footsteps of countries like India, France, Britain, and Norway, which have already announced plans to ditch gas and diesel cars in favour of cleaner vehicles in the coming years.

I’ve heard all of the arguments, and the cries that trucks and other heavy vehicles will never be able to be replaced by electric or electrified vehicles, for at least the next fifty years.

electric-vehicles-2016But it IS gonna happen, and much sooner than those who picture electric vehicles being powered by a trunk full of double AA batteries can conceive. Barring a nuclear holocaust, which would put paid to pretty much all of civilization, electric vehicles will be the only new vehicles manufactured in many countries, as soon as 2021.

When the Fairness Doctrine was tossed aside as though the citizens of 1989 were far more intelligent and civilized than the yokels who’d laboured under these doctrines for the previous fifty years, we ushered in a time when any fool with a platform and a theory could control large groups of people, without any constraints, be they of decency or truth, covering their speech.

The internet and the ubiquitous social media furthered the range of those loud voices, and multiplied the numbers of potential followers their words could reach.

But without any control, or any way to establish rules of argument and debate, the loudest voices tend to be the ones most likely to resort to schoolyard bullying tactics, like name calling, the distortion of truth, and outright lies being repeated until the lies themselves are woven into the fabric of society.

bully pulpit trumpDespite the miracle of the internet allowing each of us to research, in real time, any questionable information presented to us by even the loudest and most authoritative voices, the demand that truth be spoken is often overridden by the Bully Pulpit of those in power.

I’m pretty sure that this is not where the inventors of broadcast media hoped that we’d arrive.

But it is the situation in which we now find ourselves drowning.